Monday, January 31, 2011


So not too excited about what the weather folks are saying.  18 inches of snow from tomorrow afternoon into Wednesday.  I hope I get the day off Wednesday, because a 35 mile commute to work in that silly. 

Off to buy a new pair of snow boots today!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

The moment you have all been waiting for.  My favorite beer. many to choose from..

1. Yuengling.  Hands down favorite. Must. Drink. Only. Yuengling. When. Available.  Not only is it simply amazing, it is also America's oldest brewery.  Need to visit the brewery some day. 
2. Leinies.  Better known as Leinenkugels. Love all their wheat beers and the raspberry.  Yum. 
3. 312.  Goose Island..product of Chicago.  Love it..and will be sad when I move..Lets hope its out East so I get some of that fantastic Yuengling I dream about.
4. Miller Lite.  The good old standby.  I detest Bud Lite.  Drink only if forced.  Seriously, it is awful.
5. Magners.  Best damn cider ever!  Usually all I order at my fav Irish Pub. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The past two weeks have been exhausting at work.  Work, school, trying to spend time with the mister on his nights off..

I apologize to my friends if I haven't been around, etc.  School is kicking my butt.  Seems like all my papers, projects, readings were the past three weeks.  Crazy.  I should be reading for another project right now..but I can take a break to cruise the Internet.  Right?!

Looking forward to a certain dinner date with my ladies.  Much over due.  It will be next month..but I can't wait. 

Chicken Pockets

I got this recipe from my friend Kristina, and I absolutely love it.  They are basically "hot pockets" you can make at home.  I made them this Sunday for the game we shall not speak of...and my mister absolutely loved them.  His response was "bread and chicken..two of my favorite things". 

Chicken Pockets/Savory Pockets
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 350*F
1 can Pillsbury GRANDS biscuits
1/2 can (or 1 glass jar) of plain artichoke hearts (broken apart)
1/3 cup shredded cheddar
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
2/3 cup frozen corn (or other veggies, as long as they are bite-sized)
3-4 chicken tenderloins (cooked with salt & pepper to taste and diced)
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 Tablespoon onion salt
2/3 can cream of (celery, asparagus, mushroom, vegetable, whatever you have on the shelf) soup
1/4 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water

Cook and dice chicken (if you haven't already done so). Roll biscuits out until they are approx. 1/4 inch thick. Place 4 rolled biscuits evenly apart on lightly greased cookie sheet, sprinkle with celery seed and onion salt. Put artichokes, both cheeses, corn, chicken, soup, and milk in a mixing bowl, mix until well combined. Place mixture in the center of each rolled out seasoned biscuit, leaving about a 1/2 inch of the edges clear (use all of the mixture, it looks like a lot, but it's not!). Whisk together the egg yolk and water, and brush the 1/2 inch that you left clear with it. Take the remaining 4 rolled out biscuits and place them on top of each one, using a fork, crimp the edges down, making a tight seal. Brush the now sealed pockets with remaining egg wash. Bake at 350*F for 18-20 minutes or until tops are browned and biscuits are full baked.

I didn't use the celery seed or onion salt, instead I used Tastefully Simple Onion Onion.  Yummy:)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

When I was in high school, I was convinced I would go into art or architecture.  Until I realized I needed to make the Navy was my second option. 

I do love art, and have been to many art museums all over the world.  I may be biased, but the Art Institute in Chicago is my favorite museum.  I have been to the Louvre, but I was disappointed when I saw the Mona Lisa.  You think it is a grand piece of art, but it is so small, behind thick glass...just not what I had in mind.  I just went to the Art Institute this past Monday on my day off.  Had to soak in some good art..yet my favorite painting is on loan until the end of the month..#3.

The following are my favorite no particular order:

1. Thomas Kinkade, Cape Hatteras

via Google
2. Claude Joseph Vernet, The Shipwreck

via Google
3. Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day

via Google
4. Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

via Google
5. Edward Hopper, Nighthawks

via Google

All images of paintings via Google images

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inspirational Read

This past summer I was talking with a Chaplain that I work with, and I noticed that he worked a lot with the Navy SEALs.  He also happened to be the Chaplain that did the memorial service for the SEALs killed during Operation Redwing.  I knew that the "lone survivor" of Operational Redwing wrote a book, so I decided to pick up a copy.  I read it front to back in two days, struggling to put it down, even for work.  It is that good. 

The website for the book is

Reading about this operation, which was only a few years ago, and how Marcus Luttrell survived his ordeal...really put a lot in perspective for me.  We are a generation of complainers..nothing is ever good enough, everything seems to be a tragedy, etc.  The men who fought that day, the men who went to rescue Marcus, the villagers who risked just makes you think.  It makes you realize how fortunate you are, and how lucky I am to be in the greatest Navy in the world.  Lucky to have these brave men, called SEALs fight for our freedoms each and every day. 

Next time you need an inspirational read, pick up a copy of Lone Survivor.  I can guarantee, you will love the book.

Trying new Restaurants..

So I was able to venture out to two restaurants I haven't been to in quite some time this week.  I went to the Berghoff for lunch, great German food..and then Tuscany for dinner for some amazing Italian.  I tend to go to the same my favorite BYOB sushi joint, so I wanted to go somewhere different.

Lets just say I would love to go back to both again soon!  I had some great schnitzel and lager at the Berghoff, and some amazing tortellini at Tuscany. 

And..thank goodness for Groupon, which made both dining experiences much cheaper!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

30 for 30 Challenge Update..

Still going strong after 10 days.  Who knew it could be so difficult, especially with shoes included?  It will pay off in the long run..I am already eyeing the boden catalogue for a few purchases Feb 1st.  Free shipping and 20%.  I am sure I can find one or two outfits..and a necklace I love!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Semi Homemade

I was at a friend's party last month, and I mentioned how I love Sandra Lee from the Food Network channel, but that she made feel..well..inadequate.  I mean, holy cow can she cook, host, etc.  I love to cook, but I definitely don't have the time, patience, know how, that she has!

I made my semi-homemade dinner tonight, and it turned out fantastic.  Trying to stick to my low GI diet, and eat much healthier.

Tonight's dinner was baked halibut, rice pilaf, and a garden salad with some Italian soda (indulgence :) 

I got some halibut from Whole Foods, and marinated it and baked it for 20 minutes.  I made the rice pilaf, and picked up a ready made salad from Whole Foods.  Just couldn't turn it down.  Kind of like the wine I bought there too!

My ingredients and splurge of the week!

Finished Product.  Halibut, rice pilaf, salad, Italian Soda

I have to say this semi-homemade adventure turned out great.  Looking forward to the rest of my recipes for the week..and my trip to 2 restaurants I have been dying  I mean really looking forward to going to!  Both are Groupons..and have been there before, but not for a long time:)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy and Thankful

It has been a long month with the holidays, work, school, and making life decisions.  I thought one of those decisions would have been made today, but I have to wait another week:(  

Luckily for me, I have wonderful friends (and an awesome bf) to listen to me and be there for me!  One of them sent me flowers to cheer me up yesterday.  I think my mister may be jealous, but a friendship like that lasts forever.  Thanks you and miss you tons!
Laura and I..summer 2009. 

Favorite Things Friday

I love to drink wine.  Nothing like a great meal, paired with a great wine.  I enjoy going to BYOB sushi in my neighborhood, and I usually bring a bottle with me. 

My favorite no particular order..are....

1. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.  Amazing with BYOB sushi. 
2. Estancia Chardonnay.  Had some of this with dinner last night!
3. Alto Vineyards.  Love the Heartland Blush, Heartland Red, Vidal Blanc, and Rocco Red.  My college roommate's family owns Alto Vineyards, so I went there often to go winetasting.  I also had my commissioning there.  Such a beautiful place!!
4. Torres Winery.  I visited this winery in Barcelona, Spain in 2008.  I keep buying any variety I can find in Chicago, but my ultimate favorite is Coronas.  I usually pair this wonderful red with an Italian pasta dish. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Saving Money on Groceries

Many people are surprised at how little I actually spend on groceries every week.  I am pretty bat shit crazy at how I plan out my grocery list, planning out my meals ahead of time.  This way I don’t waste food, or money.  I had someone say “How do you know what you will be in the mood for?” etc etc.  I went through a bunch of my recipes, and I made a rotation (that I use most of the time), to utilize the same items and not let them go to waste.  Why buy a bunch of mushrooms, scallions, etc if you only use them for one recipe?  Makes no sense to me, and since I am usually cooking for me, and once or twice a week for me and my guy, I don’t cook that much food.  Just good food :)
I plan out my meals Monday through Friday, Breakfast, Lunch, well as snack food.  This way I am not eating out all the time spending $10-$15 on lunch, when I can bring my own, soup/salad/sandwich/leftovers. 
The low end for groceries is $40 and the high end is $80. 
One example may be:
Chicken Marsala, Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Garlic Bake, Fish and Veggies, Pot Roast all in one week, using many of the same staple ingredients

This week I spent about $80 on groceries, for

Stuffed Shells; Fish and Veggies; Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Salad and Rolls; Enchiladas and Rice;

Spent most of the money of fresh fruits and veggies for my new diet.  Averages about $3 per meal for the week.  This way I don't eat out for lunch, dinner, etc and waste money.

I used to just buy random stuff for whatever day I "actually cooked".  This would usually cause me to order out, eat garbage, and spend about $25 a day on dinner.  Nuts when I realize I spent less than $5 total tonight on dinner. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Photo Albums

I love to scrapbook.  I usually don't have too much time to do the crafty scrapbooking I have relied on my new favorite way to scrapbook, via

I have made 3 books on here so far, and will continue to make more.  I make one from my trip to Japan last year for Christmas, and just sent a copy to my SIL.  She loved it! 

I can't wait to make my 2010 scrapbook...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Shells

I was making my kitchen a complete mess today!  First, I baked some wonderful chocolate muffins from my favorite online flour store, King Arthur Flour.  I made these muffins.  Yum!!

mid baking..little messy, but amazing results!

I had my friend over for dinner, and I made a recipe for Spinach Stuffed Shells.  They were pretty tasty, especially with some red wine from Torres winery, good salad, and french bread with some great oil and dipping spices.  Amazing! 

Ingredients for the shells

Before I added the sauce on top

about to go in the oven :)

Table ready for girls night!
Each serving costs around $1.35, less if you don't use the ground turkey.  I might make this meatless next time and just make a thicker sauce.  Glad to have some left over for tomorrow!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

30 for 30 Challenge

So in all things new for a new year...I thought I would partake in this 30 for 30 Challenge.  It basically goes over wearing 30 items in your closet, in different combinations (shoes included), for a month.  I want to 1. save money on clothes, 2. slim down my closet since I am moving in a few months, 3. wear stuff I have instead of buying stuff I don't need.

I am hoping to save money, be a bit more creative, and do less laundry!!!

Lets see if I can last until February!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

I love to cook.  When I was sick and stuck at home for a month, all I did was watch Food Network.  No lie.  My dogwalkers and my boyfriend can attest that they benefit greatly from what I learned!

I have a few favorite meals that I love to cook, especially for company.

1. Beef Stroganoff.  So simple, so delicious, so bad for you. 
2. Chicken Marsala.  So amazing.  I refuse to order it at restaurants because I know I can make it better :)
3. Baked Ziti.  Found this recipe.  Keep making it for friends, and I absolutely love it.  Fresh ingredients make the difference!
4. Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes.  Mom's recipe, and homemade mashed potatoes..always adding garlic to the potatoes!

There are more..but I'll have to save them for another post.  These are the first 4 that come to mind, because I am asked to make them so often.  I need to have a dinner party soon!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

My dear friend Kim is trying to raise money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago June 4-5, 2011.  She has to raise a lot of money for this cause, and she even made some pretty awesome t-shirts if you donate $30 or more. 

Awesome T-Shirt
Here is the link for her page!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Case of the Mondays???

Who knew that going back to work after the holidays could be so exhausting?  Just got home, made dinner, did homework...ahh back to school!

Looking forward to some good news in the next two weeks!  Lets hope the news involves moving some place warm :)

I promise I will post more recipes soon.  I have already began one of my resolutions for having folks over for dinner.  My friend Kim is coming over Sunday!  Gotta figure out something good, healthy, and has lots of leftovers for Monday :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mexican Chicken Soup

I found a recipe last night that I knew I had to make today.  Its cold outside, football is on tv, and a spicy soup on the crock pot sounded like a great idea.  And it was!!!

I altered the recipe greatly to make much healthier.

Mexican Chicken Soup
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used Perdue ready made chicken..tastes great!)
1 11oz can whole kernel corn ( I used lower sodium corn)
1 can condensed cream of potato soup
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 1 1/4 oz envelope taco seasoning mix
3 cups chicken broth (I used lower sodium/fat here too)

sour cream and pepper jack cheese optional

I combined the chicken, drained corn, potato soup, cilantro, and taco seasoning mix.  I then added the chicken broth to the crock pot.  I covered it, and cooked it on low heat for 4-6 hours or high heat for 2-3 hours. 

I put a teaspoon of sour cream and a bit of pepper jack cheese in mine for extra flavor. 

Will taste great paired with Mexican Cornbread

Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 2-6 hours, Makes: 4-6 servings

**the original recipe called for a lot of sour cream and cheese, I put optional because I know everyone has different tastes!**  has less than 20 carbs per serving **$12.37 and $2.06 per serving

Ingredients..didn't add the chilis, it was spicy enough!!

Finished product.  Yumm!!
I have plenty left over.  Will be a great lunch tomorrow!!

NYE Wedding!

I spent NYE at a wedding for two dear friends of mine in Chicago.  It was a fairy tale wedding, and I don't think I have ever seen a bride and groom smile so much!  They both looked fantastic, and I know that they are so happy together. 

The mass was at St. Mike's in Old Town, and the reception was at the Knickerbocker Hotel on the Mag Mile. 

Sooo Happy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Resolution(s)..

I usually see some pretty lofty New Years resolutions this time of I am trying to be realistic in mine, knowing that I will get them done;)  Ahhhem.

1. Make a cookbook.  I love to cook, I figured I would make one or two..the ideas I out Food Network!!  I just got a ton of recipes from my SIL and her mom.  My goal is to try out at least one new recipe a week, if not more.
2. Invite friends over more often.  This one goes with #1.  I love to cook, so more people should come over to enjoy said cooking.  That means, I shouldn't worry about making everything perfect, but just have a good time with good friends and good food.  Who wants to come over?!?
3. Work out more.  Take those PT nuts up on their offer to be motivators.  Need to stay motivated!!