Monday, June 21, 2010

I've moved...

After six years on blogger I have made the big move to WordPress. I've moved the last few posts to my new blog, but otherwise it will be all new stuff...

Check me out here:
All dressed in black

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

I've made this several times and will continue to make it. Next time I would like to switch the orzo with quinoa and add a little more nutritional value. Or try cilantro in the place of parsley. It's fast, easy and delicious.

Picture and Recipe taken from Cooking Light(March 2009):

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup orzo mixture and about 7 shrimp)

1 cup uncooked orzo
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
7 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm.

2. While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.

3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done.

As suggested, I usually make asparagus as a side to go with this dish. I have also done zucchini and summer squash. All were delicious.

**When being lazy I use precooked shrimp and throw them in during the last minute or two to heat them through.

Peanut Butter Oreo Cake

Brian requested a Peanut Butter Oreo cake for his birthday in April. I didn't want it to be sweetness overkill(how could it not be?) so I searched long and hard for a recipe. I ended up combining multiple recipes to make this cake come to life.

I adapted the cake recipe from Dozen Flours:

Oreo Cake
adapted from Cake Mix Doctor

18 full-sized Oreos or one 8oz package of mini Oreos or 2 1/4 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs
1 package (18oz) of white cake mix WITH pudding in the mix
1 cup water (room temperature)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray two 9" cake pans with Pam for baking or grease with shortening and dust evenly with flour, tapping out the excess. Set the pans aside.

Grind the cookies in a food processor and process them until you have a fine crumb. If you don't
have a food processor, you can put the cookies in a zip-lock style bag, squeeze all the air out, and crush them using the bottom of pot or a rolling pin. You'll need 2 1/4 cups of crumbs total. If you have more than this, set them aside to use to decorate the cake (if desired). Set aside.

Place the cake mix, water, eggs, and oil in a large mixing bowl and mix on low speed for 1 minute and scrape the bowl and blade. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another 2 minutes and scrape the bowl and blade. The batter should look evenly colored. Add the cookie crumbs and mix on low for 15 seconds or so until all the crumbs look evenly distributed.

Pour the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops. Bake both pans in the oven, side by side, and bake about 25-30 minutes until a cake tester in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans and invert onto the rack. Then invert each cake again so they continue to cool right-side-up. Allow to cook completely 30 minutes more.

Peanut butter frosting(for between the layers) taken from RecipeZaar:

1 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream butter and peanut butter together. Then, add half the powdered sugar and blend.
Blend in milk and vanilla. Add remaining powdered sugar. Stir until smooth and well blended.**

Slice each cake horizontally (if desired) so you have 4 layers of cake. Place a little bit of frosting on the bottom of your cake plate (this will act like glue and hold the cake in place). Place one of the cake slices cut side up on the plate. Top with peanut butter frosting and smooth to about 1/2 from the edge. Repeat the process with the remaining 3 layers. Then I used whipped milk chocolate frosting(store bought, gasp!) to frost the top and side of the cake. I cut several Oreos in half and decorated the top with them...and several candles(31 to be exact)!

**I doubled this recipe for the filling...WAYYYYYYY to much frosting. I wouldn't have used all the frosting had I just done a single batch. My roommates dogs were very happy to eat it up, though.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Yellowfin Tuna Steaks

Tuna steaks have always been a little intimidating to me. Well, most seafood is. I feel like chicken is so much more versatile and much less easy to mess up. Being a recovering vegetarian and having not cooked any meat in a few years the task at hand was a little more daunting.

Resolving to eat more healthy and dating a guy from Florida meant incorporating more seafood into my diet(not at the most opportune time considering the Gulf oil spill). So, I was at the grocery store and saw some yellow fin tuna steaks. Remembering how much I enjoyed eating tuna steaks while in Hawaii made me buy them. I headed home to search for an easy recipe to hopefully not screw up.

Recipe adapted from


2-8 oz yellow fin tuna steaks


1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic (per steak)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
small amount of sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a shallow 9 X 13 inch glass dish, prepare all of the marinade ingredients. Remember, if you have more than 2 8 oz tuna steaks, you might need to adjust the ingredients to marinate. Marinate both sides (dredge steaks and get marinade on both sides). Let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes before grilling. *Soy sauce will overpower tuna if you marinate for too long!
Light the grill while tuna is marinating. Once coals are white (30 minutes) spread them and clean the grill, then wipe with oil so steaks don't stick.(See note below as I used the stove top).

Grill for 4 minutes or less per side for 1 inch steaks, depending on how you like them. Steaks should be firm with pink in the middle. If you prefer steaks to be more rare, grilling time should be 2 1/2 minutes on each side.

**Well, I didn't have access to a grill so I just heated up a skillet nice and hot and cooked them for the same amount of time. I turned the burner on high and left the skillet to heat up for about 10 minutes. Use a little of a high heat tolerant oil to grease the pan so they don't stick right before they go in and cook according to grill times.

They didn't look beautiful when they were done and I was quite skeptical about eating it, but it tasted amazing!

For a side, I reserved about 1/4 cup of the marinade to the side before putting the tuna in to marinate. I diagonally sliced 2 zucchini and 2 yellow summer squash in 1/8-1/4in slices and placed in a single layer on a non-stick aluminum foil covered baking pan. I brushed them with the marinade and baked them at 425F for 12 minutes or until starting to lightly brown on the edges. I've never enjoyed zucchini and summer squash so much. I have made them a few times again just by making a much smaller batch of the marinade and using it just for the vegetables.

Also, I believe "ahi" technically refers to blue fin tuna, not yellow fin, but I'm not one to argue with the person that submitted the recipe that brought such nice flavors to my mouth.

Easiest pizza dough EVER

This is seriously the easiest pizza dough. Just when I am wanting homemade pizza but don't want to take the time to let the dough rise and put off dinner for an extra hour, I remember this pizza and "presto!" pizza!

Adapted from:

Get ready for easy:

1 packet of yeast
1 c warm water
2 1/2 c flour
1 t honey
1 t salt
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, add in the yeast and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour, salt, honey, and olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon vigorously until combined. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle cornmeal onto a walled baking sheet and press dough into it until thin(I usually use a baking stone, but pans and grills work well, too). Add toppings as desired and bake 20-25 minutes until crust is light brown and cheese is bubbly.

I usually use half whole wheat and half regular flour. I've also made several other variations when making this crust. At times I've added extra honey for a sweeter crust...delicious. Another time we threw oregano into the mix for a more flavorful crust. It's an easily adaptable and nearly impossible recipe to mess up. We have even used it on the grill at my parents house and it cooked as well as other recipes that take much longer to make.

Just make sure that you roll/press it out about 30% thinner than you actually want it to end up because it has a tendency to rise a bit while cooking.


Tilapia and asparagus packets

I had seen this recipe a month or two ago and finally got around to making them. Super simple, healthy and delicious. It would be perfect for entertaining because they are quick to make and minimal clean up...more time with your guests.

Adapted from Woman's Day magazine:

4 cups baby spinach**
4 tilapia fillets (6 to 7 oz each)
8 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into lengths about 2 in. long
4 tsp each capers and minced shallots**
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 to 12 thin slices lemon

**I didn't have any spinach or shallots so I just left them out and they still turned out fabulous.

Heat oven to 425ºF. You’ll need a rimmed baking pan and 4 pieces of parchment paper or nonstick foil. I used foil because I couldn't find my parchment paper...until the day after I made them.

To make each packet: Place 1 cup spinach in center of parchment(again, I didn't do this). Top with a tilapia fillet. Brush fish with 1 tsp of the olive oil. Scatter 1/2 cup of the asparagus on and around fish. Scatter 1 tsp each of the shallots and capers, and 1/2 tsp of the thyme over top. Drizzle with another tsp of the oil; sprinkle with 1⁄4 tsp of the salt and 1/8 tsp of the pepper. Top fish with 2 or 3 slices of the lemon.(I also didn't' brush the top of the tilapia with olive oil, I just drizzled it over the top and they were plenty moist and delicious.)

Bring long ends of paper/foil together and fold down 3 times to make a seam. Place on baking pan and tuck ends underneath. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 4 packets.

Bake 15 minutes until packets are puffed. Open 1 packet to test doneness. If fish isn’t opaque at center, reseal packet and return to oven. Check again after 5 minutes.


As I updated my facebook status to say that I really, really, really wanted an iPhone 4, I got a comment that made me think.

It's true. I would give up my cell phone if no one ever died of thirst again.

Thought provoking article:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Party in my mouth

If forced to decide, I would have to say that original Starburst candies are my favorite candy. Recently, Mars Incorporated came out with a new line of Starburst.


Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The package only includes four flavors: watermelon, cherry, strawberry and fruit punch.They are all amazing except for the fruit punch. I developed an aversion to anything fruit punch flavored after my dentist made me do fruit punch flavored fluoride trays as a child. ICK!

I'm sure they won't be around long so indulge yourself now.

I also have an obsessive love for anything coconut flavored. Well, M&M's hit the mark with their new Coconut M&M's. But again, they won't be around for long and they are so delicious I'm sure they are flying off the shelves like they have might have a Willy Wonka
golden ticket inside.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another "year"...

Every year on March 22, I start a new "year of"...

I started this in 2006 when my roommate Jenne encouraged me to read the book, The Year of Yes and we both participated. I was left exhausted after completeing the Year of Yes, so 2007 became the Year of (mostly) HELL NO. Then, came the Year of Balls to the Wall(again, sorry for the name, mom) and then last year was the Year of Respect. A highly successful year in my book.

Last year I feel like I really got a lot of toxins out of my life and figured out what I wanted and how that was going to happen. I put myself out there and took some risks...and I'm happy that I did. I didn't do it all on my own though. I've been fortunate to have amazing mentors in my life that have always taught me what is important, even if I was too young to understand what they were talking about at the time. As I've gotten older(and I hope more mature), I've often reflected back on the time spent with these people and had several "a-ha" moments.

I'm one day into my new year and I still haven't chosen a title or finalized the details. I know that I want to become a more productive member of society and have better balanace in my life. My priorities need to change a little...and I'm ok with that.

So, until I come up with a catchy name, my "year of" shall remain nameless.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Did you know?

I've been tagged a bajillion times to write varying amounts of random facts about myself. I've started lists a few times, but have always abandoned them. The last post I was tagged in only required me to divulge 16 things about myself. Not too daunting of a task...

1. I got held in almost daily from recess in kindergarten because I would finish my coloring sheets too quickly so I could go out to recess. They were always a disaster of coloring outside the lines. I had to stay in and redo them. I now have ill feelings towards coloring.

2. I have worn the same size shoe since 7th grade and have been relentlessly teased about my large feet ever since...mostly by my brother.

3. Fountain pop is amazingly delicious to me. My favorite part of road trips is finding the biggest fountain pop machine with the most selections. McDonald's has the best fountain Diet Coke out of anywhere.

4. My taste in music is highly questionable. I either like a song because I can relate to it in some way OR it makes me want to shake my ass(affectionately called "ass shakers"). That's pretty much it.

5. People think I'm spontaneous. I'm not. I almost always have a plan. And 5 back up plans. I like plans and structure. And I like mapping out plans. Trip itineraries...I'm your girl. I probably should have been a travel agent or an event planner.

6. I realized years ago that I don't have any unattractive friends. I don't know why this is. I have nothing against unattractive people that are nice. It just so happens that all my friends are above average in the appearance category.

7. I love salads. I think they are one of the most delicious things on the planet and there are so many options and combinations. I was once on vacation with friends and ordered a salad at every meal. Finally, on the last day, my one friend said to me, "If you order another goddamned salad, I'm going to make a scene." I got by with ordering a sandwich and a side salad.

8. I also love soup and sandwiches. I love them so much that I could eat them everyday...and often do.

9. I don't wear clothes with large brand names printed on them. I refuse to pay to be a walking billboard for a company.

10. Some of the best summers of my life were spent working at a camp. There was little electricity or plumbing. The first three summers I worked there I lived in tents, tree houses and cabins. The last two were spent in an 8'x10' tar paper shanty that I shared. The floor was giving out and we would often wake up in the middle of the night to a woodchuck attacking our home. It has since been torn down and replaces with a fancy new building. It was there that I really figured out who I was and what I wanted in life. My boss was and is one of the most influential people in my life.

11. Flip flops are my footwear of choice. Anytime of the year.

12. Strong peppermint flavors make me sneeze. Achoo!

13. I've never understood women's obsession with jewelry. I'm not a fan of Tiffany's. I think large engagement rings are ridiculous and get severely annoyed with girls that demand large rocks. If there was some scale that determined the bigger the diamond, the more solid the relationship, I would be all for it. But there's not, so I remained disappointed in the vanity and show of it all.

14. I love water. I love to drink it and I love to be in it. I like playing in the rain and jumping in puddles. I love swimming and frolicking in bodies of water. I really like being under water. Showers and baths...they are great too. My mom couldn't get me out of the tub or pool as a child.

15. My two favorite beauty products are mascara and lip balm/gloss.

16. People think I wear colored contacts. I don't. This is my natural color. Some days they are more blue. Others more green. Some days they are brighter than others. They are usually the brightest after I laugh so hard that I cry.

..........and I'm done.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

The year of the panting dog

Every month(well, almost every month) I make some sort of health goal. It's my personal opinion that if you make too big of goals or too long term that you have a higher chance of failure. If you make shorter term goals, higher chance of success and increased likelihood that this new practice will become a habit.

I'm bad at remembering to take multivitamins. Really bad. So the obvious choice was to conquer the multivitamin. So far I have taken it 20 out of 22 days in January. The two days I didn't take it, I was out of town and forgot to pack the little beast. No worries though, I supplemented with emergen-c.

The new year also brought the excitement of being able to work out again. Mono coupled with massive tonsils left me exhausted and with difficulty breathing, making working out a near imposibility. I stopped running in October and had pretty much been on my dead ass since. Fortunately, Emily introduced me to bikram yoga. I'm addicted. It's a series of 26 poses that are done over 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees. Shortly after my first class I got a text from my friend Katie asking if I'd ever done bikram. Well, now she's hooked too. Before going into her first class she joked that she was going to nickname every downward pose "panting dog" because that's what she'd look like. It's an intense work out that burns upward of 1000 calories in one session. If that isn't motivation enough, you feel amazing afterwards. On days I dont go, I crave it. The only drawback is that between getting there, staking out a prime mat space on the cooler side of the room and not under the vent, going to the class and getting home is over a three hour ordeal....and then I still have to shower when I get home. That's 4 hours a day, but I love it so much that I try to work my schedule around going to a class. That or I'm going to have to become independently employed(prostitution) so that I can go to yoga every day and work on my own schedule. So, if you see me working the corner in the near future, don't be alarmed. It's for my better health.

I've also got to get back to running. My brother proposed that our family do the Susan G Koman 5K together in June. So, Josh, Jill and I will be running it and (I assume) mom and dad will walk it. Sounds like a great weekend...seeing my family and supporting breast cancer research.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Happy New Year!

I fully intended to blog again before 2010 and I can't even say I didn't have the time, it just didn't happen. In December I had 12 glorious days off of work filled with fun and drugs. Ok, so it wasn't all fun and the drugs were a necessity. I had my tonsils out following months of tonsil related illnesses. Let me tell you, not a fun or pleasant experience. It makes your throat feel very angry afterwards. 10 days on a liquid diet wasn't that great either. There are only so many flavors of Gatorade and so much broth you can eat before "eating" becomes an unpleasant experience.

I was lucky enough to have my mom come in town after my surgery to take care of me. Nothing like a mother's TLC. After staying in town for the required 5 days post op, we headed back to Iowa to continue my R&R. There, I inhabited my parents couch for another 5 days and watched obscene amounts of TV and movies. I also got chauffeured around anywhere I wanted to go as I couldn't drive because of the medicine. Talk about living the life!

Another reason I love being at home is that my parents have a great kitchen and I love to cook. What better time to cook than the holidays and when I can't eat? And cook I did. My dad and I made an amazing batch of baked potato soup. I also made(with assistance from various family members) chicken taco soup, homemade mac and cheese, a spinach and feta quiche, Ann Sather's cinnamon rolls, homemade pizzas, cheddar jalapeño cornbread and a bourbon and pecan tart. We had ridiculous amounts of food left over and I'm sure that my parents were stuck eating them for the following week. Oh well, it was fun and gave me an excuse to make a trip or two or three to Hy-Vee! Recipes to come soon!