Gift Guide For Her – Part One

I love giving gifts. Every year, my strategy is to 1. tailor what my friends and family would love based on their personality types – are they fashionistas, exercise feins, beauty moguls or a little type A? And 2. I try to put myself in their shoes – if I were receiving this gift, how would I feel? Would I love it? If the answer is yes, then I’m definitely buying it.

In order to make holiday shopping a bit easier, I’ve prepped my gift guide for her way ahead of time. I am so pleased to share with you part one of c’est moi natasha’s gift guide for her – a gift guide tailored to all of the Type A’s and the Exercise Fein’s out there. Stay tuned for part two!

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  1. Simplified Agenda
  2. Wireless Beats Headphones
  3. Passport Holder
  4. Coffee Book Table
  5. World Desk Calendar
  6. LV Key Wallet
  7. Coasters
  8. Sleeping Mask
  9. Shoe Travel Bags

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  1. Athleta Leggings
  2. Nike Pullover
  3. Balega Socks (the most comfortable running socks out there)!
  4. Ipod Arm Holder
  5. Water Bottle Infuser
  6. Chanel Makeup Wipes
  7. Gym Cosmetic Bag
  8. Tory Burch Fitbit
  9. Yoga Mat Holder

Gemista (pronounced: Yemista)

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Since Sunday was Greek Easter, my mom and I cooked the entire weekend for a big, fun, family gathering. My cousins from France, very close friends, boyfriend, parents and brother all spent the day together and we had such a great time. A big part of Greekster is the food. The food is so unbelievable! My yiayia (grandmother) lives in Greece so it’s tough for the entire family to get together but I always love making her classic recipes.

One of my all time favorite dishes is Gemista (pronounced: Yemista) which is a Greek staple dish. It’s essentially vegetables stuffed with homemade rice and minced meat. Honestly, the recipe takes a good amount of time from the preparation to the finale, but hey all good things take time! Here, I wanted to share my very secret yiayia’s Gemista recipe – take a peak!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 red onions finely chopped
  • 3/4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 500gr of rice (uncle Ben)
  • Small bunch of chopped parsely
  • Small bunch of fresh mint choppped
  • Pomi tomato pure about 14oz
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper
  • Oregano
  • 250 gr ground beef

Instructions: 

  1. Slice off the top of the tomatoes; using a spoon remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. The flesh of the tomatoes will be used for the base of the tomato sauce for the Gemista.
  2. Slice off the top of the eggplants and remove the flesh, using a spoon. Cut the flesh of the eggplants in small cubes and set aside, as you will also use them later for the filling of the Gemista.
  3. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to leave the vegetables as thin as possible, leaving just a little of the flesh, but be careful not to poke through the skin.
  4. Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter on the bottom of each one.
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  5. In a blender add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tbsps olive oil, the tomato pure, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, add some olive oil and sautee the onions and garlic until translucent.
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  7. Add 250grams (8.8oz) of ground beef with the onions . 
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  8. Once the beef juices have been absorbed and the meat is done, add choppped parsley and min. Chop the zucchini flesh in small cubes, add in the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. At the end add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped)  until softened.
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  9. Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it becomes transculent.
  10. Pour in the Pomi tomato sauce and the tomotoe flesh sauce and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. As soon as the liquid has been absorbed, the stuffing is ready.  Note: the rice is not totally cooked, it will finish cooking in the oven when. Remove the pan from the stove.
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  11. Spoon the rice and minced meat filling inside the empty vegetables and pour some olive oil and if any tomatoes sauce over the vegetables and in the baking tray.
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  12. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 2-3 glasses of water around the vegetables.
  13. Cover the Gemista with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 60-75 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, remove the aluminum foil and bake until nicely colored.

Prep Time: 45 -55 min

Cook Time: 60-75 min

5 Passover Lessons

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{A pretty clever contraption}

Last night, I celebrated my very first Pesach (Passover) and…… it was fabulous! I am not just saying that because Aunt Barbara reads the blog (shoutout for being one of my biggest supporters, Aunt Barbara!) but it truly was such a great night. A lot of laughter, history learning, red wine, Matzah, and happiness – the night was a hoot and I can’t wait for next year’s Passover already.

I’ve rounded up 5 Passover lessons I learned which I will be carrying with me for years to come. Thought I’d spread the love and share over here!

1. Bring a Kosher dessert & spring flowers: I’m a big fan of bringing a little something when I am invited to someone’s home. For Seder, I brought a Kosher dessert and something springy to celebrate the holiday. I’m personally a big tulips fan. Whole Foods had an entire section of Kosher desserts (which I actually just learned about) – I went with the coconut and chocolate covered macaroons. Big hit!

2. Don’t be shy: We each had a print out that outlined the story of passover in English and it also had a few embedded Hebrew prayers. Before dinner,  I was asked to participate in reading a section of the story and I nervously obliged. Honestly, I loved it and I am really happy I didn’t shy away from the experience.

3. Try e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g: There were plates of food which were completely new to me like Kugel, a baked pudding casserole dish. I decided to try a piece and ended up really really liking it. The dish actually reminded me of Pasticcio, a greek noodle casserole. I can’t wait to steal Aunt Barbara’s Kugel recipe…!

4. Ask questions: There really is no dumb question. Honestly, I didn’t know anything about the history behind Passover or what Seder meant. I felt a little silly asking these 101 questions but realized it was important to do so if I wanted to learn more about Judaism. Everyone was so open about teaching me the basics and sharing their knowledge.

5. Enjoy and embrace: Like everything in life, it’s so important to enjoy family time and embrace new experiences. I was so happy to have been invited to be a part of this holiday and it was personally important for me to learn about my other half’s religion.

First Passover

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Tonight, I’m celebrating Passover with my boyfriend’s family for the very first time. His aunt puts together a beautiful Seder every year and I am honored to be part of such a special night.  Since this is a very first for me, I am really excited to try the different foods, desserts and to learn a few prayers too!

I was told the dress code for tonight so naturally I’m wearing a dress and heels…oops! I’ve put this number together for tonight, my first Jewish holiday, because I thought it was comfortable with a bit of a c’est moi natasha twist. Happy Passover for those of you celebrating this weekend!  

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Banana Republic Jersey Dress (on sale $78.00!) // J.Crew Heels (old pair) // Wink NYC Earrings (similar pair here, $38.00) // Club Monaco Clutch (pretty clutch on sale here $139.00!)

 PS. See my Valentines Day outfit here and my 25th Birthday outfits here, here and here if you haven’t already!