Tuesday, March 31, 2009

yay or nay?

I found this dress on final sale at JCrew. It is 59 but with the extra 30% off sale--it comes to 41.99. I did just order a bunch of stuff from Ann Taylor Loft--but this pretty pale pink dress is calling my name, and I would be helping the economy right?

Who loves a good sale!?!

30% off at JCrew's Final Sale items!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Blog Love!

Dana, over at Once A Bride, my dream neighbor! awarded me this Kreativ Blogger award. So in the spirit of the award--7 things I love and 7 Blogs I award for their creativeness
1. My husband and being married in general!
2. My family who makes me laugh and keeps me sane--my brother suggested I have 7 kids so I can have a TV show called Amy and Kevin plus 7(This way I wouldn't have to work and I could go fabulous places all based on my show's revenues)!
3. My job--I really do love being a middle school teacher(most days)
4. A really great workout(once its done--I may hate spin class about 30 minutes into the ride but I love the way I feel when I am done).
5. Really good chocolate(once Lent is over I am eating a ton!)
6. A great shopping deal(I was bummed I had a great coupon at Ann Taylor Loft this weekend and was able to score a great dress, a cute skirt, and 2 cardigans for 130 bucks!!)
7. crying at a good book. TV show, or movie(Grey's anyone?)

7 Kreativ Bloggers:
nani--Chocolate and Wine
Melissa--Hot Stuff in the Kitchen
Lindsey--Learning to be a Wife
Elizabeth--Love and Marriage
Amy--My Adventures as a Newlywed
Mrs. RealLife--Reality of Happily Ever After She has a great giveway going on now!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In my thoughts...

My best friend, Tracy, the sunniest most confident person I know, is having surgery Monday and she is very nervous about the whole process for many reasons. I am thinking good thoughts for you Tracy. If any of you have a moment today to add her to your prayers...

Friday, March 27, 2009

33 Today

I am a bicentennial baby--born in 1976--maybe that shaped my decision to become a history teacher? And I can't believe I am turning 33 today. I feel like I have come into my own in my 30s--becoming calmer and more secure in myself than I was in my 20s. This year has been amazing.

I became a wife, moved to a new town and started a new teaching position,

rode on a helicopter and dogsledded on a glacier when we went on an amazing family cruise to Alaska,

watched my brother get married in Vegas and got to celebrate all that with my family! What will this year hold? Hopefully a baby(no I am not pregnant) and a house, but I know it will have lots of family and friends, love and fun, laughter and tears, and many adventures!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sprinkles Anyone?

Have you ever had Sprinkles Cupcakes? My sister-in-law and brother go to this bakery in Beverly Hills and buy them when they can so for my birthday they sent me the mix so I can try them. I apparently lost my ability to read because I put in too much butter when mixing the cupcakes but they were great. I will have to make the Red Velvet ones this weekend!

Friday, March 20, 2009

You know its love when...

..Your dear husband makes a dentist appointment for you! I have an unfounded fear of dentists, I also have a horrible gag reflex that makes most dentist appointments painful. I found a great dentist in Denver and the hygenists were so great when I came in three of them helped do my xrays so they would go quick. And while they may have complained about me when I wasn't there, they were so sweet about it. When I needed oral surgery he found me a great oral surgeon and filled her in on my issues and she was wonderful as well(heated massaging chairs and my own personal ipod to listen to while she worked). So moving to a new town gave me the excuse to avoid the dentist, and truthfully I am only overdue for my cleaning by 4 months. But my wonderful husband found a great dentist and went and made an appointment for me and filled them in on all my fears and issues so they are prepared for me! I love this man!!
What is something that your loved one has done for you that might be a little oot of the ordinary but a perfect expression of love for you?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Figure Friendly Chicken Parm Sub--14 points

From Rachael Ray
* 3 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
* 2 to 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
* 1 packed cup dry sun-dried tomatoes
* 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
* 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
* 1 cup basil, roughly chopped
* Salt and ground black pepper
* 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (I poached 2 chicken breasts)
* 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
* 4 sub rolls, split open (but not all the way through)
* 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese (I used 4 slices of skim milk cheese)

Yields: 4 servings

Preheat broiler.

Place a medium-size skillet over medium heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the garlic to the pan and cook gently until aromatic and light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, stock, some salt and pepper to the pan (the stock should cover the tomatoes) and simmer until the tomatoes have plumped up and softened, about 15-20 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes to the pan then transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree. Add chopped basil, season with salt and ground black pepper and reserve warm back in the skillet.

Return the sauce to the skillet and add in the rotisserie chicken. Simmer until the chicken has heated through, 2-3 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano. Divide the mixture between the sub rolls and top with a slice or two of mozzarella. Pop the sandwiches under the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Of course it is a little lighter compared to the restaurant version. The roll alone is 7 points--so if you could find a whole wheat sub roll or use something lighter it would be less points. It was very filling though and worth the points for the meal. And Kevin didn't think it was a diet food!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Attempting to channel Bakerella

Have you ever seen Bakerella's blog? She is fabulously creative and inspiring. I made these cupcake pops, cupcake bites, and cupcake balls today, following the tutorials from Pioneer Woman and Bakerella. I think I need to run the cake through the food processor to get finer crumbs but I am impressed for my first time out! And so was Kevin who I put in charge of the sprinkles and kept sneaking into the kitchen to see if they were "ready" yet!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who would have thought a lampshade..

..could have a design impact? Not me! But Victoria over at ShadeThatLamp sure did. I won this off her blog and it arrived today and makes my apartment living room just a tad more chic!
I would take a picture of our whole living room/dining room area but I am ashamed to admit some of our wedding gifts are still in boxes and stored along the walls next to our table. And yes our apartment has some weird 70's ski chalet vibe going on with random pieces of paneling. But this shade pulls in my dark wood tones with my lighter brown suede couch--now to add some blue throw pillows and tie it all together.
Check out her etsy store!

9 months!

WOW how time flies! Its been a school year since we got married!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I heart singlestonestudios!!

My sister got me a gift certificate for my birthday and this is what Shelley made for me! I got these frames before Christmas and her winter accent kit. I am boldly trying one of her favorite color combos--teal and red! I can't wait to get it!
Check out her blog! Or her website! Or her etsy stores!

Red Spice Steak Fajitas--4 points

From Rachael Ray's magazine
8 flour tortillas ( I didn't figure these into the points--i found some Tortilla Factory tortillas which are 1 point for 2 tortillas--quite a points bargain)
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers, cut into strips
3 bunches scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro sprigs

1. Wrap the tortillas in foil; place in the oven and heat to 300°.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper; sprinkle all over the steak. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the steak, tent with foil and cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare; transfer to a cutting board, tent with the foil and let rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
3. In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the bell peppers, scallions and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the steak along with any juices and the cilantro and toss. Serve with the warmed tortillas.

She says makes 8--we have eaten 10 of them and still have filling left. The WW recipe builder gave me 5 points for 8 servings so I refigured for 10 servings and got 4. So I ate 1 fajitas with tortillas for 9 points. You could skinny it even more by just grilling the meat with no olive oil, but there isn't much in there. The spices make it awesome! And if you are cooking for someone like my hubby, who thinks if its not red meat he hasn't eaten, this is a perfect lean alternative.

Spoiled Pretty Helps Me Out

My beauty dilemma has been answered!
If you have never checked out Spoiled Pretty, you should. I am so excited to try the products from Benefit to erase my dark circles!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Things I love about spring break

One of the benefits of being a middle school teacher--spring break!
And while I am not whisking of to some fabulous beach location, I am enjoying my time off..

--getting to go out to lunch like an adult! Seriously I have a 30 minute lunch which is more like 20 minutes by the time you take your students to lunch and use your only chance to go to the bathroom before the end of the day! The hubby and I went out to lunch today it was so nice!

--watching daytime TV, love getting a little escapism from soaps and watching food shows to get more recipes!

--going to the gym in the morning--loving hitting these 9 am classes its perfect!

--midday naps

--reading(I read a lot but its nice to have time to just read)

--working on my scrapbook(still have to get to this)

--sleeping in until 7:30(it is a glorious 2 hours extra)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Raspberry-Lemon Meringue Cake

Another great recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine. Definitely not low points
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
Finely grated peel of 2 lemons, plus 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 large eggs plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
One 11-ounce jar lemon curd
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, then butter the paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, lemon peel and lemon juice.
2. Using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with 2 cups confectioners' sugar on medium speed until fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the whole eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture.
3. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake until springy to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and let cool completely.
4. Clean the mixer. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and the egg whites. Place over a saucepan of barely simmering water and cook, whisking, until the confectioners' sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture is cool, 7 to 10 minutes.
5. Peel the paper off 1 cake layer and place bottom side down on a cake plate. Spread one-third of the lemon curd on the cake and arrange the berries on top. Drizzle the remaining curd evenly over the berries. Peel the paper off the remaining cake layer and place upside down on the filling. Top the cake with the meringue.
6. Preheat the broiler to high. Broil the cake just until the meringue peaks are golden, about 2 minutes.

Awesome dessert. The cake is like a shortbread and the mixture of lemon and raspberry is perfect. I wasn't sure my broiler was working--so my meringue got a little too brown but still tasted great.

13 points a piece(cake serves 10). So I had a piece and sent the rest to Kevin's work!

Fried Chicken RollUps

Mine did not turn out as nest--so I used Rachael's picture! Recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken meat
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
12 small corn tortillas

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the chicken, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until heated through. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Wipe out the skillet.
2. In the same skillet, warm the tortillas over low heat to soften, about 15 seconds on each side. Place on a work surface, then spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture down the center of each. Roll up the tortillas.
3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2/3 cup oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken rollups seam side down and cook, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes; drain on paper towels.

These are 5 points a rollup(this is with using all the oil--even though they don't absorb the whole 2/3 cup I put it into my recipe builder that way). I usually order chicken flautas when we go out for mexican food(and they are usually 7 points a piece).
To make it lighter you could remove the cheese or use less oil.
We ate 3 at a time so I had to budget for a 15 point dinner.

Turkey Meatballs in Paprika Tomato Sauce

Another great recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
One 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 tablespoons paprika
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 pounds ground dark meat turkey (I just used Jennie O/Turkey Store ground turkey)

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, 7 minutes. Transfer 1 1/3 cups of the onion mixture to a large bowl; let cool. Reserve the skillet.
2. Using a food processor, puree the tomatoes and roasted peppers. Add the puree to the skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the paprika and season with salt and pepper; transfer to a large slow cooker, cover and set to low temperature.
3. Whisk the breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into the remaining onion mixture. Mix in the turkey. Form 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Add the meatballs to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours.

I made this with whole wheat pasta tossed with a tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes. Kevin loved this--took it to work for almost a week.

It is 7 points for 5 meatballs and then 3 points for 2/3 cup of pasta for a very filling dinner!

Corn Chowder

2 slices turkey bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper(I usually use red bell pepper)seeded and chopped
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups whole corn kernels
1/4 cup light cream

1. Cook bacon in a skillet, and set aside.
2. Add onion, bell, pepper, and 2 tsp water to skillet; saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the corn; simmer 5 minutes longer, remove from heat, let cool slightly.
3. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a food processor or belner; puree. Pour back into pan and stir in cream. Serve, topped with the bacon pieces.

Makes 4 servings--4 points each!!
I love this soup and when i amke it I usually double the recipe and always throw in more bell pepper. I usually skip the bacon and cream.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fabulous Etsy Find!

A great store--The Pretty Peacock! Beautiful handmade jewelry, I ordered a great necklace today for a Mother's Day Gift(I know its early--its Spring Break and I have not much else to do). I would post a picture but my mom might peek!

Baggu Grosgrain Guest GIVEAWAY!!!!

Baggu Grosgrain Guest GIVEAWAY!!!!

Tax refund at work!

Well while I had to send a huge chunk of my half of the tax return to my dad to pay him back--I was able to score some great deals at the Gap Outlet(our mall has a Gap Outlet not a real Gap store) and I got all this for $150!

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Weight of Words

You know how there are just somethings that people can't say to you or about you without getting upset? I have a few--one is saying I don't care about my students, but the bigger ones are anything about weight and/or food. The weight and food ones come from years of well intentioned comments from family about what I should be or shouldn't be eating and of course the comparisons to my skinny, beautiful, popular cheerleader sister of mine. I love my sister so much but it was hard going through high school and into my early 20s with that competition.(Of course she will tell you of the impossible standards I set for her in school with both our parents and teachers). Last night an innocent jokey comment sent me reeling with feelings of insecurity about my weight and looks. Isn't it amazing how a few words can do that.

Now words have a positive weight too. A student of mine told me yesteday that I teach my subject better than any teacher teaches theirs--quite a compliment coming from an 8th grader. Another student who I had made a big deal about in class about his improvement came to me afterschool and thanked me for saying those things about him. I have to remember more often the impact my words have.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MS Awareness Week

Two of my close friends have been diagnosed with MS. While I can't be in CA to walk with my friend Jennifer, I used my wallet to show my support. Please visit this site to find out what you can do to erase MS!