What I Ate Wednesday
Aug 17, 2011

I’ve been away from my blog for a few days.

I was busy.

Busy watching Season 1 of Game of Thrones on HBO On Demand!

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Priorities,  you see.

I had watched the first episode when it originally came out and wasn’t sold on it.  But I kept hearing more about it.  And then I read about it in Entertainment Weekly.  Now I’m hooked!  Can’t wait for Season 2 to start!!

Once I finished up Game of Thrones last night, I realized….oh man, I need to blog!  What to write about on Wednesday?

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Breakfast:  Oatmeal with almonds, cranberries, coconut, a few Chia seeds, and skim milk.  I had pomegranate green tea this morning instead of coffee.

Snack:  Cherries

Lunch:  Mushroom burger on a sandwich thin with Laughing Cow cheese and carrots.  I could live on this sandwich.  Love it.

Snack:  Clementine and iced coffee.  You didn’t really think I could go the whole day without coffee, did you??

Dinner:  Okay, so I just cooked up a chicken breast and topped it with some marinara sauce and sour cream.  And I had some Terra veggie chips.  Single people eat odd dinners.  It’s a fact of life.

Undocumented Wednesday eats:  One fun-sized Butterfinger…..okay it was two Butterfingers, geez.  It’s just a miracle that I ate the chicken for dinner instead of 10 fun-sized Butterfingers!!!

Question:  Are there any awesome TV shows that I need to catch up on???  I’ve already been told that I need to watch Breaking Bad.  That’s the only one currently on my radar. 

Does anyone watch Boardwalk Empire on HBO too?  I haven’t really heard if that’s worth checking out or not. 

Skillet Pork Chop Saute with Peaches
Aug 13, 2011

I had this really good idea about 3 weeks ago to do a Peach Week on my blog.

And then I procrastinated.

And now everyone has been doing a Peach Week on their blogs!

Wow.  I wasn’t as original as I thought.  Ha!

So, I’m forgoing the peach “week”.  It didn’t stop me from making some deliciousness though.

Skillet Pork Chop Saute with Peaches

Recipe from Cooking Light–June 2011

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
4 4-oz boneless pork loin chops
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 peaches, cut into wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp honey
2 tsp butter

Instructions:

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add olive oil to skillet.

Season your pork chops with salt and pepper.  Add the pork chops to your skillet.  Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until done.

Remove pork chops from skillet and keep warm.  (I moved them to a small pan on low heat with a lid on top.)

Add your sliced shallots and chopped thyme and peaches to your skillet.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in your white wine (and take a big gulp for yourself!).  Scrape the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits.  Bring to a boil.

Cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup (about 3-5 minutes).  Stir in your broth and honey.  Bring to a boil.

Again cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup (about 3-5 more minutes).

Remove skillet from heat.  Stir in butter.

Spoon sauce over pork chops.

Serves 4.  Estimated calories:  235

Hostess Cupcakes
Aug 11, 2011

I love online “window” shopping.  I’ll go online and just add everything that I want into my little ol’ virtual shopping cart.  And then I’ll leave the browser window open and walk away for a few hours.  By the time I come back, I’m usually over it and click off the site.  I get the “thrill” of shopping without spending the money.

Does anyone else do this??  Or am I crazy?  (Don’t answer that last one.)

Tonight, I spent about an hour “shopping” at Urban Outfitters.  I have 12 items in my shopping cart.  It’s mostly dresses and home furnishings.  $510.

Oh I wish I could just blow $510 at Urban Outfitters!!

Don’t worry, Mom and Dad.  I’m not going to spend $510!  Although, I may spend $34.

Hostess Cupcakes

Recipe from Bakingdom

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

3 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups applesauce (I used reduced sugar applesauce.)
1 cup milk (I used skim milk.)
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

For the filling:

6 tbl unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tbl powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups marshmallow fluff

For the frosting:

6 tbl unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbl light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

To make the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 375.  Line your muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Combine your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set it aside.

Place your oil and sugar into your standing mixer bowl.  Mix well.  Stir in your applesauce and vanilla.  (This recipe was my 1st attempt at baking with applesauce instead of eggs!  It worked beautifully!)

Add half of your flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  Mix until combined.

Slowly pour in your water to the wet ingredients.  Mixing on low until combined.

Add the 2nd half of your flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  Scrape sides of the bowl as needed.  Combine until just mixed.

Slowly add the milk to the wet ingredients.  Beat on low until well combined.

Fill each cupcake liner about half full.  I use an ice cream scoop to fill my cupcake liner with the batter.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely before adding filling.

To make the filling:

Cream the butter and sugar together using your mixer.  Stir in your vanilla and a pinch of salt.

Mix in the marshmallow fluff.  Whisk until light and fluffy.

Cover your bowl with plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

After cupcakes are cooled and filling chilled, add the filling to the cupcakes!  Use your pasty bag and tip.  Simply insert the tip into your cupcakes and squeeze filling into the cupcakes.  (Or you can cut a little hole out of each cupcake and use a knife to add the filling.  I’ve used this method too.  The piping is faster and cleaner though.)

I was a bit worried that I would pipe too much filling into the cupcakes and not have enough for the design on the frosting.  There was PLENTY though.  Have no fear!

To make the frosting:

Melt your butter, chocolate chips, and corn syrup.  I added my ingredients to a microwavable bowl and microwaved.  Stir every 30 seconds until smooth and glossy.   Stir in your vanilla.

Cover your bowl of frosting and chill for 20-30 minutes until thickened slightly.

Once frosting is chilled, remove from refrigerator and stir.

Frost your cupcakes.

Use your piping bag and pastry tip again to add the classic Hostess design!

Enjoy!!

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Aug 09, 2011

My parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary!!

I had this plate made for them.  I ordered it from Uncommon Goods.  It has the names of my parents on it.  Then it lists my brothers, myself, my sister-in-law, and my nephews.  And then it says Happily Ever After.  :)  It repeats after that until you get to the bottom of the plate.

I thought it was cute!

I made them cookies too, of course!!!

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe from OceanSpray

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 ounces (1 1/4 cup) dried cranberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In a mixer, beat together butter and sugar until well-mixed and creamy.  Add the eggs and mix well.

In a separate bowl, add the oats, flour, baking soda and salt.  Combine.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in several increments.  Mix well in between until all is incorporated.

Stir in the dried cranberries.

Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Drop mounds of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet using your cookie scoop.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Happy Anniversary again, Mom & Dad!!  Love you!

A Bay Breeze toast to my 100th post!
Aug 07, 2011

A toast!

This blog post is my 100th post!  Yay!  That’s some sort of milestone, right??  It feels like one.

I thought that I might blog about cupcakes for my 100th post.  But then I decided it needed a cocktail to celebrate!

After recently buying some frozen pineapple, I was reminded about my favorite summer time drink.  The Bay Breeze!

I started drinking Bay Breezes after watching Red Eye and Rachel McAdams orders one.  Hey, we all have to find out about new cocktails somehow!  I find all my favorite drinks via movies.

Bay Breeze

1 part vodka
1 part pineapple juice
3 parts cranberry juice

Mix and enjoy!

I used frozen pineapple chunks in lieu of ice.  I’m fancy like that.

Cheers!!

Book Review: Ice Land
Aug 07, 2011

Shooo…..I’ve been reading a lot lately!

What else has been doing on?  Not a ton here.

I went to see Cowboys and Aliens.  Up until my 2 second ago Google search for the link, I thought it was called Cowboys VERSUS Aliens.  Which helloooooo, I think that’s a better title anyway.

I don’t know why I wanted to see this movie.  But I REALLY wanted to see if after watching the trailer.  I don’t even like westerns (exception made for Tombstone, that movie is great).  And I sure don’t like alien movies.  However, the pull of seeing Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig together…I was sold!!

Ummmm, yeah I don’t like western/alien combo movies either.  :/  The three Blue Moons that I had before the movie made it okay though!  :)

Quick side note:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was on TV last night.  Dannnnnnnnng, Harrison Ford was HOT!  I wonder if Calista Flockhart wishes she would have met him earlier.

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Ice Land by Betsy Tobin

Ice Land was my first attempt at reading a mythical/fantasy romance book.  Think the Game of Thrones series….think anything by Diana Gabaldon.  It’s that genre.

Ice Land takes place in Iceland after Christianity has come to the country.  The country is in turmoil and Freya must travel to find a magical necklace to save her people.  Freya can swiftly travel with the aid of her falcon cloak.  While searching for the necklace, Freya meets Dvalin who helps her on her journeys.

Meanwhile, as sort of a side-story, Fulla falls in love with Vili.  But Vili comes from a family that is sworn enemies of Fulla’s grandfather.  Uh oh.  Fulla’s grandfather has other plans in mind as to who Fulla will marry.

Okay, so this book was confusing.  I’m not into mythology or Nordic history, so that’s my fault.  But why did Ms. Tobin have to name the 2 main characters such similar names.  I kept forgetting who was Fulla and who was Freya, argh!

This book is interesting though.  But not interesting enough.  I would have preferred her to left Fulla/Vili out of the story and just stuck with Freya/Dvalin.

I did really enjoy the imagery of the book though.  I could really visualize Freya flying and exploring the caves, etc.

I believe that I have discovered I’m not a fan of fantasy fiction.  Now, I love me some historical fiction a la Phillipa Gregory.

Ice Land needed more passion for me.  ;)  I was expecting something a bit more racy.

Ice Land:  2.75 out of 5 stars

Savory Balsamic Chicken
Aug 06, 2011


Oops.  I haven’t blogged since Tuesday.  I had such high hopes last weekend.  I planned!  I made a schedule!!  I’ve even made some food that I could have blogged about!!!  Oh well.

You haven’t forgotten about me, have you?  Come back.  Please.

I’ll make you dinner.

Savory Balsamic Chicken

Recipe from Lea & Perrins

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts (I prefer to use chicken tenders.)
1/3 cup flour
2 tbl butter, divided
1 tbl vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbl balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

Defrost your chicken.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Season chicken with salt & pepper.  Generously dread both sides of your chicken into flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon of your butter and your vegetable oil on medium to medium-high in a large skillet.

Cook your chicken 5-7 minutes on each side until golden brown and juices run clear.  I always cut into my chicken a bit to ensure it’s cooked through.

Move chicken onto a dish.

(If you have picky eaters, you can just serve the chicken like this!  Add a side of their favorite dipping sauce and kids or kids-at-heart are good to go.)

In the same skillet, add your remaining ingredients.  Bring liquid to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

Add your chicken to the skillet to heat it back up a bit.  Stir in the remaining butter.

Serve with your favorite side dish.

 

Book Review: St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
Aug 02, 2011

Wow, that title is a mouth-full.

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St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

I knew going in that this book was going to be a challenge for me.  St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is a collection of 10 short stories.  Oh no, short stories?  That’s not for me.  Really WEIRD short stories??  Definitely not for me.  Really WEIRD short stories that I don’t even understand???  So definitely not for me.

I tackled this book one short story at a time though!  Once broke it down and just read one short a day….or every few days…and then stopped for a bit, it was doable for me.

When I was at book club, I pretty much sat down and said I hated the book.  But then we talked about it, I kept chiming in about different stories that I did like and parts I remembered.

My friend, Amy, said…It sounds like you liked the book more than you originally said.

You know what, you’re right!  Now, I did not LIKE the book.  But that’s really because it’s not my thing.

There were stories that I enjoyed though.

I’m going to quickly break them down.

1.  Ava Wrestles the Alligator:  didn’t like it!  And interestingly enough, Karen Russell’s newest novel is based on this story.  And Entertainment Weekly gave it an A rating, so what do I know?

2.  Haunting Oliva:  didn’t like it!

3.  Z.Z.’s Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers:  finally, one that I kind of liked!  It was interesting how the cabins at the camp were separated by sleep disorders:  headbangers, night eaters, gnashers, incontinents, narcoleptics, etc.

4.  The Star-Gazer’s Log of Summer-Time Crime:  This story was my favorite!

My favorite excerpt:  “Look, I’m not a phony!”  I try to huff my voice up to an appropriately righteous volume.  “It’s just that I choose to accentuate other aspects of myself around Raffy–sort of like how you glob on mascara so as to indicated, Look!  I have eyelashes!  So maybe I don’t mention the Junior Astronomer Society.  Well, you don’t use mascara on your chin hairs.”

5.  from Children’s Reminiscences of the Westward Migration:  I did like the imagery of this story.  See, Karen Russell’s imagination is awesome!  HOW did she come up with these stories??  This story is pretty much about an Oregon Trail scenario is that the father is a Minotaur.  He’s part man/part bull and has to pull the family’s wagon.

6.  Lady Yeti and the Palace of Artificial Snows:  didn’t like it!

7.  The City of Shells:  didn’t like it!

8.  Out to Sea:  liked it!  Whew!  This story is about an old man on a houseboat.  A young girl has to visit him for her community service.  She ends up stealing from him, but he doesn’t care since he values her company more than his things.  So sad though!

9.  Accident Brief, Occurrence # 00/422:  I also really liked this story, hooray!  I didn’t expect the twisty ending of this story.

10.  St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves:  annnnnnnd I didn’t like it!

In the end, I’m glad that I gave this book a try.  I think it’s good to sometimes step outside of my usually chick lit.

2 out of 5 stars

Baked Mozzarella Bites
Aug 02, 2011

What’s your favorite appetizer to get at a restaurant?

For me, it’s either:

chips & salsa
spinach artichoke dip
or
CHEESE STICKS!

When I saw a healthier version in the August 2011 Cooking Light magazine, I was sold!  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that it could be easier to make cheese sticks–or bites–at home.  Super easy!  It takes less than 30 minutes and that includes the time I had to wait for the oven to preheat.

Baked Mozzarella Bites

Recipe from Cooking Light–August 2011, slightly adapted

Ingredients:

1/3 cup panko
3 part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks
1 egg, whisked, with salt & pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Heat a small skillet on medium heat.  Add panko to the skillet and stir frequently.  Cook for 2 minutes until brown and toasty.  Remove panko from skillet and add to a small bowl.

Cut your cheese sticks into 1 inch pieces.

Now dip your cheese into the egg.  Then take your eggy cheese piece and dredge into the panko.

Place the panko cheese pieces onto your baking sheet.

Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is hot and softened.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, such as marinara sauce or ranch dressing.

Serves 3, estimated calories 116

And in another installment of Julie goes overboard…
Aug 01, 2011

So, above is a picture of the books that I own and HAVE read.  There is another row of books behind on the middle shelf too.  I really need to invest of some nicer, bigger book shelves.

People, the above picture isn’t the overboard picture.  I’m proud that I’ve read these books.

But I have a bit of a confession.  I’m a book hoarder.  I can’t believe I didn’t keep Borders in business.

These above books I also own!  Annnnnnnd haven’t read yet.  Oops!  I.buy.too.many.books.please.help.me.stop.it.  A lot of these I got through Quality Paperback Books.  It’s like Columbia House for books!  So, I did get some good deals.  But come on, I’m out of control!

I really want to get a Kindle too, ha!  I’ve told myself that I won’t get a Kindle until I read these books.  But let’s not kid ourselves.  It will take me forever to read these and I’m not waiting forever for a Kindle.

Do you notice any of my to-read books that you highly recommend??  I’m always just randomly picking a book when the time comes.

Note:  yes, I already know to jump on the Hunger Games book!!  But you see, I know if I read that one, I’ll only in turn have to buy TWO more books to finish the trilogy!!!

Another note:  Do you see that huge book on the top right?  I NEVER would have ordered The Pillars of the Earth online if I had known it was 5 million pages long!!!!  It gives me hives just thinking about tackling that book.