Monthly Archives: February 2013

Foodie Penpal from the South

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It’s Foodie Penpals Reveal Day!

Are you a Foodie Penpal? If not, it’s easy to become one and you don’t have to have a blog to participate. Click here for details.

My February Foodie Penpal package came from Jes at Urban Sacred Garden. Jes lives in Louisville and recently traveled to Dallas, so she picked up the Edible magazines from each city. This month’s package was quite different form any that I’ve received in the past – and I loved it! There are some new-to-me ingredients in there that I’m dying to try.

FPP Box

Dried Mexican Chiles from Dallas, KIND bars, Kentucky Sorghum, Black Raspberry Preserves, and a few packets of Charleston Breakfast Tea

I adore spice and chiles! It looks like I’m going to have to open up my Homesick Texan again real soon. I already dug into one of the KIND bars as a snack the previous day. They are great, quick snacks as Jes suggests. And I’ve never had nor cooked with Sorghum! This stuff is straight from Kentucky. Jes enclosed and pointed me to some recipes online, too. I’m looking forward to giving them a try {after surgery of course}.

Look where these are from:

from the south

Goodies from the South!

Rob and I have a grand desire to travel to Charleston someday soon. It all started with our obsession with the band Shovels and Rope. In addition, we visited a friend in Asheville, NC a few years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite unique cities! How did she know that I love rapsberries?!

From the bottom of my heart, Thank You, Jes!

I love how your foodie picks were unique and varied. I’m looking forward to trying them all!

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And now for Wednesday’s Food Journal…

Breakfast

Magic Smoothie – same rendition as the previous day.

At work  – 1 cup of Charleston Breakfast Tea (see above!) & 1 cup of black coffee with a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate

I love the messages in Promises. I needed this one!

I love the messages inside Dove Promises. I needed this one!

Lunch

I warmed up my leftover Avocado, Mozzarella and Bruschetta Chicken with Balsamic Glaze thing with extra bruschetta topping.

Note to self: This dish doesn’t reheat very well. It actually made the bruschetta taste a little strange because it was warm. I know that it’s warm when you broil and melt the cheese, but it’s just not the same.

My advice: Make the four chicken breasts as directed in the recipe. However, only top the number of chicken breasts you intend to serve that evening. Save the rest of the topping ingredients and broil again the next day.

Snack

Banana (not pictured). The truth is, while I do have a piece of dark chocolate every day, I don’t usually have this many bananas as you’ve seen read about this week.. I’m just trying to eat “easy” foods before my surgery. In addition, I’ve been getting more Charley horses at night, which my chiropractor says is common when it comes to herniated disks. So that extra potassium won’t hurt to fend those off!

Dinner

Rob and I used a Groupon at Hurricane Wings for dinner. It was Happy Hour there and they were offering two-for-ones, so we got two of each beer we ordered:

wed-oatmeal stout

Summit Oatmeal Stout & Ranger IPA

We shared a beer. That way, I could enjoy an IPA with my meal and a stout for dessert!

Of course, I tried to make good choices. But I had no idea that the Firecracker Shrimp was going to be fried!

I had only about half of the shrimp and most of the salad. I ordered the salad with the intent to get more veggies in for the day. However, it was just lettuce, a few diced tomatoes and mostly dried cranberries, candied pecans and blue cheese with a Zinfandel vinaigrette. So, the salad wasn’t very veggie-ful. I also stole a few of Rob’s fries that came with his – you guessed it – burger!

Snack

Small wedge of double cream brie.

NOTE: While I’m still up about 4 lbs since my lowest since losing weight, I’m down 2.4 since last week. That’s great considering I gained almost 5 lbs on a recent cruise.

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What are your favorite local treats in your area?

Cheers~
Carrie

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House Wine Revisited

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Earlier this year, I wrote a post titled “Don’t order the House Wine!” It can oftentimes be the most marked-up wine on the menu! I also gave some tips on what you should order to get the best value.

Recently, I received an email in my inbox from Serious Eats to this article on how to find the best wine value on the wine list, as told by sommeliers. Some disagree with my advice. But I also love that I learned a few new ways to pick value wines! There are a few categories they agree on and a few contradicting pieces of advice, too. So, truly, there is no hard and fast rule. Here are my thoughts on their advice:

Try Lesser Known Regions/Varietals.

I absolutely agree! Once upon a time, Washington Merlots and Chilean Cabs were uber-cheap because they were up-and-coming. Why not try something obscure and new to you? I like that one sommelier stated “If you buy the by-the-glass Sauvignon Blanc, then you are sponsoring the curious to try Jasnieres.” Ha ha. Sponsor me! Sponsor me! Maybe I should be telling you all to drink the house wine. That way, I can try some interesting wines at a good price! It is true that I often try wines that I’ve never heard of before when I’m dining out. I prefer interesting wine menus, not the same-old-same-old wines you tend to see on every menu.

Ask the Sommelier.

When you are at a higher end restaurant that employes a sommelier, If you ask what they are excited about on the menu, it’s probably not only a wine they drink themselves, but also a wine that they can afford. That means quality and value! Or, just ask for advice. I second one sommelier’s suggestion to point to a wine in your price range when you are picking out the wine. Then describe the style you’d like. For example, “I was looking at this wine {point}, but I’m in search of a bold red with earthy notes this evening.” This is something sommeliers are good at, so utitlize that service. About ten years ago, a friend and I tried our first Gigondas at a fine French restaurant that was recommended to us in this way… and we fell in love with the wine!

Try Wines at the Medium Price Point.

The theory here is that even though the highest priced bottles usually have the least markup, the medium priced ones often have the best value – quality to price ratio. While this may be true, this is only helpful to you if you are dining somewhere where the  middle-priced bottles are ones you can afford!

Then there’s are the contradicting advice…

“If it’s available by the glass, don’t order it by the bottle,” comments one sommelier.

I had never thought of this one before. Normally, if I’m thinking about getting a glass of wine and someone else is thinking about getting a glass as well, we decide to get a bottle because we can each get a second glass and it’ll be cheaper and fresher overall.  However, this sommelier suggests that the wines offered by the glass are often the most marked up! Interesting.

Another sommelier suggests trying wines by the glass first. And if you like it, order a bottle.

I personally don’t agree with this one. Despite the fact that in many states, you can take an opened bottle of wine home if you don’t finish it, you don’t know how long that wine has been open. If you think you like it and it’s been out for a while, the bottle may need some time to breathe for you to enjoy it!  Besides, if they do sell a wine you are considering by the glass it by the glass, they should be happy to offer you a sample first.

After reading this article, I’d say that ordering lesser known types of wine and wines in the middle price range are probably the way to go for the best value no matter where you dine. However, if you are in a nice restaurant that has a sommelier, utilize him or her to the fullest! That way, if the middle-priced wines at high end restaurants are not in your budget, you can find one of good quality that is.

Still, I’m staying away from the house and cheapest wines on the menu. I still think they have not only the highest mark-up, but also the lowest quality. That is, unless, it’s recommended by the sommelier as a featured wine that they’d drink any given night…

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And now for my food journal – Tuesday’s eats!

Breakfast

Before work – Magic Smoothie (not pictured). I’ve made this many times before; however, my concoction this time around included:

  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice (I couldn’t find my cinnamon and this worked great!)

At work – 2 cups of black coffee with a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate

I eat one piece of Dove Dark Chocolate just about every day, often with my coffee. This one had almonds.

I eat one piece of Dove Dark Chocolate just about every day, often with my coffee. This one had almonds.

Lunch

I enjoyed a salad made of the same ingredients as the lunch from the day before and a banana (not pictured – you know what a banana looks like).

Salad with

Snack

Kind Bar -

Kind Bar – Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew – my “Kind” of ingredients!

Dinner

I had my friend Jen over for dinner so I got to make chicken! If you want to know why I’m excited about that, click here.

Avocado, Mozzarella and Bruschetta Chicken

Avocado, Mozzarella and Bruschetta Chicken with Balsamic Glaze

Ever since I found *this recipe* posted by Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats, it reminded me of my favorite meal I had in Ireland this past fall, and I knew I had to make it. Okay, so mine didn’t turn out as pretty as Kristin’s did. {But look at all of her photographs – they are beautiful!} Still, it tasted great. There are few changes I’d make to my methods for next time. For example, my reduced balsamic didn’t come out as nice and thick as hers did and I drizzled only a little on since I was skeptical that the balsamic flavor would be too strong. After eating dinner and the remaining balsamic had cooled, it was thick, syrupy, sweet and addicting. I wanted to drizzle it on everything!

I'd

I’d give myself more time to reduce the balsamic next time.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know how much I adore am obsessed with tomatoes. This recipe called for four chicken breasts, but when I opened the package, there were three big ones instead. So I was trying to proportion the topping ingredients appropriately:

Tues-Bruschetta Chx

That is how much of the bruschetta topping I used and I felt that it could have used MORE! I am not sure if that’s because I just didn’t put enough on or if that’s just my obsession with tomatoes and wanting a little more flavor!

Also, my friend Jen and I realized that we couldn’t really taste the avocado. It could have been just my avocado {it’s kind of hit or miss which ones have the most flavor}, the fact that I may not have put enough slices on {but I used the whole avocado}, or maybe the overabundance of cheese {is that possible?} I topped it with overpowered the tomatoes and avocado. In any case, if you don’t happen to have avocado on hand, you can just leave it out.

And lastly, once the balsamic glaze has thickened, I would use more of it!

Kristin recommends serving this over pasta or spinach. I used mixed greens and to me, cutting into it was a little difficult and the textures together were a bit strange, but Jen didn’t mind it. I might have the mixed greens as a side salad instead. {With the balsamic glaze drizzled on top of course!}

Dessert

I didn’t have time to make dessert, which we tend to do when we get together, so we ended our meal with a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate (not pictured). This time, I had the Sea Salt Caramel flavor.

Snack

While cleaning up, I kept dipping into that leftover balsamic reduction. It finally occurred to me that I could use the some of the leftover mozzarella and some grape tomatoes to make a version of Caprese:

Balsamic Glaze Caprese

Balsamic Glaze Caprese

Later Snack

Upon Rob’s request, I made a later snack of the rest of the Ciabatta Garlic bread from the previous day and had one piece myself (not pictured).

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How do you choose wine at a restaurant?

Any tips or tricks to find something that’s your style?

Cheers~

Carrie

Trad {An Ireland Post}

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One of the reasons we traveled across the pond to the Emerald Isle this past fall with Rob’s parents was to listen to some Traditional Irish Music in the motherland.

Rob’s dad is a huge fan of Irish Folk music and has been for decades. Some of his favorites include The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Rob grew up listening to this music and has developed a love as well.

When I met Rob, I quickly learned that he was King of the Mixed Tape. I still have his first CD he compiled for me: Carrie Ann Myx – 10/03. That’s the month and year we first started dating!

In December 2003, I started doing Wine Tastings. When business picked up and I started doing two or more tastings a week, he began making me a CD each month to listen in my car to and from tastings. Some of the songs were those that reminded him of me or us, some included new music he just wanted to introduce me to, some were comedy tracks; but there were also Traditional Irish Folk tunes. Over the years, I’ve heard several versions in both classic, modern and punk rock styles!

So, naturally, I’ve come to learn and love many of these songs, too.

You may even know a few of them yourself! Here is one of my favorites, played by some street musicians in Galway. {I apologize in advance for the video and the small screen. It’s the first time I’ve used You Tube.} I think their version of The Irish Rover is superb!

Some other songs you may know include:

  • Rocky Road to Dublin
  • Finnegan’s Wake
  • Danny Boy
  • Black Velvet Band
  • The Real Old Mountain Dew

Okay, I could go on for ages, but those are just a few you may recognize. But it’s not just the songs that make the music special; it’s the instruments used, too. The bodhrán, a traditional Irish drum, is one of my favorites!

In Ireland, Traditional Irish Music played in pubs is known as Trad. And we were lucky to sit in a few pubs to listen to some locals play while emptying a few pints of Guinness.

Rob and I found that everyone we spoke with was proud of their Irish Trad and would share their favorite singers and groups. Our first night in Dublin, after stopping at a pub recommend by the Irish bartender we met in Chicago, a couple sitting next to us initiated a conversation which eventually turned into a discussion about Trad and the most popular and well-respected artists who sing such songs. They insisted that we go check out O’Donoghues for some live music because it has such a huge historical connection with Trad and celebrates this music seven nights a week.

We did make our way over there later that evening. But the place was packed! There were no seats to be had, nor really any room to stand comfortably. Instead, we came back the following day with Rob’s parents just to check out the place and the photos on the wall of all the musicians who played there over the years.

Our first real Trad night took place in Donegal at the Reel Inn. We arrived nice and early to be sure to get a seat. There was a gentleman named Terry, who was brought in via wheelchair by his son and friends to celebrate his 90th birthday that evening. I remember when they wheeled him in, the guy pushing kept bumping into table legs and chairs. “You shouldn’t be driving!” Terry yelled. It made me laugh.

He also came over to chat with us before the music began. Do you know how much I adore the stories of people who have led such long and full lives, in a world that I could only imagine?! One of my favorite stories of Terry, who is from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland {part of the UK today}, was when he was back in Germany many years ago. He was out one night when someone had learned he was Carrickfergus started singing the the town’s song to him “I wish I was in Carrickfergus! It was at that time that he realized he only knew the first few lines of the song! Everyone else had to sing the rest to him. He kept chuckling over this. Too cute!

The band played and it was a fine night. We enjoyed some good craic and plenty of cider.

Live Trad at the Reel Inn, Donegal, Ireland

Live Trad at the Reel Inn, Donegal, Ireland

And eventually, they gave Terry the mic, to sing a tune of his own:

Happy 90th, Terry!

Happy 90th, Terry!

Side note: Terry always had a pint of Guinness and glass of whiskey in front of him the entire night!

In Galway, in addition to seeing those fine lads in the YouTube video above play on the streets, {and buying there CD for future enjoyment} we spent an evening at Taaffes Pub listening to more great music:

Live Trad at Taaffes, Galway, Ireland

Live Trad at Taaffes, Galway, Ireland

We heard some of our favorites, learned some new local tunes and enjoyed the evening sipping pints of Guinness and Murphy’s. Those are times that I’ll remember for years to come. If you are traveling to Ireland, don’t miss out on the nightlife of listening to Trad with the locals!

Want to learn more about our trip to Ireland this past fall? Check out these links:

Wine in Wine Countries, Guinness in Guinness Country

Ireland – Weather & What to Wear

The Beauty that is the Emerald Isle

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Whiskey Wednesday – An Ireland Post

Irish Sport – Hurling

Celebrating Gaelic Football

Irish Food

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And I haven’t forgotten… Here are Monday’s eats:

Breakfast

San Franola Granola {a favorite of mine that I first sampled from a Love with Food box!} plus enough 1% milk just to cover the granola. I forgot to snap a shot, but today I did of the nutrition facts. I also had 2 cups of black coffee at work.

San Franola Granola Ingredients & Nutrition Facts

San Franola Granola – look at the protein & fiber content!

Lunch

Lunch included a big salad with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, chopped carrot & celery, green onion, sunflower seeds, blue cheese crumbles, rotisserie chicken (1.5 oz) & lite blue cheese dressing:

Salad with

Afternoon Snacks

Not pictured: Banana & Fiber One Brownie

Dinner

Monday is Salad Night in our house. Having already had a big salad for lunch, I decided to opt for a side salad with different ingredients, a little leftover pulled pork (about 1.5 ounces) and a piece of ciabatta garlic bread (140 calories).

His & Hers Salads

His: Salad with mixed greens with, chopped carrot & celery, green onion, garlic croutons, bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles & lite blue cheese dressing (with garlic ciabatta bread)

Hers: Side salad with spinach, grape tomatoes, chopped carrot and celery, green onion, chopped almonds, double cream brie and raspberry açaí vinaigrette dressing (with pulled pork and garlic ciabatta bread)

Snack

Not pictured: apple slices with Biscoff Spread {a Goodie Box favorite!}

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If you know Irish Folk Tunes, what is/are your favorite(s)?

If not, what type of music do you listen to that is not mainstream?

Sláinte~
Carrie

Losing Weight (or Maintaining) without Exercise

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It can be done.

Although, if you can exercise, you should. That cardiovascular exercise is good for your heart and lungs. But if you can’t, that’s no reason to give up.

I feared gaining weight back when I stopped running (and working out at all, for that matter) in December due to back problems. But I’ve been mostly maintaining. I’ve been fluctuating between the same five pounds back and forth.

Without exercise, I need to be more diligent about what I eat. Sure, in less than a week and a half, I’ll be having surgery on my back. So I could just give up for now and say that I’m gonna “start again” when it’s over… or once I’m off pain medication… or once I’m feeling better… or once I can start running again. We can always say that we are going to start over “when”.

But this is my life, not a diet. I’m not on a diet. I’m learning to make healthy choices every single day. And for me, a healthy choice is sometimes an indulgent one. I believe anything can be enjoyed and fit into a weight loss program if not consumed in excess. It was when I had the all-or-nothing mentality and was totally restrictive that I failed.

So for the days leading up to my surgery, I’m going to document what I’m eating… Good and bad. Not for you to analyze, but for me. I can analyze when I’ve made good choices and when I should make better ones. I’m finding that I’m more aware of what I’m eating when I have to take a picture of it, too!

And since I’m still getting used to this plan to document my meals for about a week, I’ve forgotten to take a few photos but that’s okay.

And with that, here are Sunday’s eats!

Breakfast

Fiber One 90 Brownie

Fiber One 90 Brownie

I also had a banana (not pictured). Oh and I had a few sips of Dr. Pepper before I stepped out the door. {For the past several months, I’ve had very little pop, er… soda, whether it be regular or diet. It’s something I’d like to cut out completely, or at least keep to a very minimum.}

Lunch

I met my friend Sally for lunch at Cafe Latte in St. Paul. We each ordered a pizza. I didn’t take a photo, but you can check out what they look like on their website. I think they are about 8 or 9″ pizzas. I got the Sonoma Pizza, which was made with basil marinara sauce, spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and mozzarella. If you make homemade pizzas at home, I highly encourage you to combine these toppings! I ate a little more than half of the pizza.

Dinner

Yes, I went out again for dinner. While we do eat out often, it’s generally not twice in one day. Rob and I dined at The Lowry in Uptown {Restaurant Impression to come soon!} I sipped on a Surly Abrasive, a local Double IPA. (not pictutred). It’s quite hoppy and I always feel like DIPAs whet my appetite. Then, I devoured this salmon dish:

Salmon

Salmon fresh Scottish Fillet, oven-roasted asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes & olives

It’s some of the best salmon I’ve had in a really long time. It was seasoned perfectly and I loved this combo of vegetables! I would get this over and over again when I go to The Lowry, but there are too many other things on the menu I’d like to try.

Dessert for me was a Founders Breakfast Stout. This stout is bigger and has much more flavor than a Guinness and gets it name from it’s upfront coffee flavor.

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast Stout

Snack

With all that dining out, I probably didn’t need an evening snack, but I’ve been pretty good about taking a little wedge of the Double Cream Brie leftover from my canceled Open House, rather than eating the whole wheel.

DCB & Crackers

What are Ancient Grains, you are asking? Here’s what the box top reads:

Ancient Grains

These crackers are delicious and we have a big box of them {leftover from the canceled Open House}. I really have to pay attention to the number of cheese and crackers I eat because I’m a cheese fanatic. {Hey, it’s a given. I grew up in Wisconsin!} So I made my snack into a pretty plate and even got inspired by the picture on the box:

Ancient Grains Crackers topped with Double Cream Brie and tomato

Ancient Grains Crackers topped with Double Cream Brie and tomato

I estimate that snack to be close to 300 calories (the size wedge I cut was about two servings). That’s a little much for a snack, but better considering that I could have just brought the wheel of cheese, box of crackers, a plate and a knife into the living room to sit in front of the TV.

Overall, the day wasn’t perfect, but I’m glad I got some fruit, veggies, protein and Omega-3s in there!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy salmon? If you have a recipe, please share!

Cheers~
Carrie

Blogiversary!

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Today marks the one year anniversary of Season It Already! Happy Blogiversary, SIA!

A lot has happened in the past year. This blog has evolved. It’s become an outlet for me for all things food, wine and health. After never ever believing I’d be a runner, I ran my first 5k. Then I ran eight more… and even one 5-miler. I reached a 35-pound weight loss milestone. I’ve tried to meld my husband’s love of dining out with my quest for a healthier me.

Recently, I’ve endured some severe back pain. I can’t run right now (nor can I do any sort of workout). I’m just about half-way through my weight loss goal and I fear gaining it all back.

Yesterday, I met with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss my options. After looking at my MRI, he said that it’s the worst herniated disc that he’s ever seen and that he couldn’t believe I wasn’t screaming in pain. {I seriously believe that I have my chiropractor to thank for that!} As a conservative surgeon, he really only suggests surgery as a last resort. But in my case, he couldn’t see any other option. And since I’ve lost feeling in my left foot and some of my lower left leg, he wanted to get me in ASAP.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is just to know and have a plan of action in place!

In the meantime, in terms of weight loss (or even maintenance) the only thing I can do is watch my eating. I have to be more diligent than ever before. To hold myself accountable, over the next week, I’m going to try to post all of my eats. You might think that you’ll be bored by this, but I’ve really enjoyed when other bloggers have done this because I’ve found some wonderful recipes and ideas for meals this way.

This week, I’d like to take a poll from all of you readers out there on what you like and what you’d like to see more/less of in the future on Season It Already!

I do apologize for all of my non-local blog friends, but I will continue to be posting about my restaurant experiences here in the Twin Cities. This has helped me remember what I’ve enjoyed and disliked so that I don’t make the same mistake twice. It also reminds me of what I want to try next time and why, or maybe what may have been a healthier choice. For those of you outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro, please stick with me. You just may be inspired to recreate a dish that I’ve had a restaurant! But… ultimately, this blog is for me. 😉

I’d love it if you’d post what you’ve liked best/least or what you’d like to see more of less of on Season It Already!

Cheers~
Carrie

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

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I had to cancel my Open House Wine Tasting due to the pain in my back. I was left with a humungous container of blue cheese purchased from Costco. After a couple of salads and some blue cheese burgers, we had hardly put a dent in the stuff. Then, as I was icing up at the chiropractic office the other day, I found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine.

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Not the best photo ever, but I took it while I was frantically cooking and cleaning. The point is that the recipe called for 1 and 3/4 cup blue cheese. Bonus that this woman won $25,000 for Taste of Home‘s Ultimate Potluck Recipe Contest.

I thought I’d give it a shot. I could use up some blue cheese and introduce Rob to that Buffalo-Blue Cheese flavor combination. Being allergic to chicken, he’s lost out on this zesty opportunity. That’s tragic for someone who prefers well-seasoned foods!

Although I’ve made lasagna plenty of times, the recipe took a bit longer than I had expected. But it was well worth it. Of course, I didn’t make it with chicken. Instead, I substituted one pound ground pork and a 1/2 pound ground beef since I only made half of this recipe (but with beef) earlier in the week.

Of course, my results aren’t pretty. But really, what lasagna that isn’t staged for a magazine really is?

Buffalo

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Here’s the thing. My husband told me that it is the best lasagna he’s ever had…anywhere. Then he went to so far as to say that it is the best thing I’ve ever made for him!

Okay, so I don’t even know how I got Taste of Home magazine in the mail. And I would say this lasagna was great and a good change from the norm. But the best thing I’ve ever made? Was he just really hungry? Was it the newness of the Buffalo flavor? {I honestly could have used a little more blue cheese. Unless, I just hadn’t distributed the crumbles well enough and my piece was lacking.}

In any case, it was a winner and it has been demanded that it be added to the rotation. You can find the full, more-easily-readable *recipe here*. Rob asked that I make a note of any variations I made so that I make it the exact same way next time! But to be honest, I didn’t do any big variations. They included:

  • Grapeseed oil instead of canola oil
  • 1 lb ground pork and 1/2 pound lean ground beef instead of 1.5 lbs ground chicken
  • 1 heaping tsp of Trader Joe’s Crushed Garlic instead of 2 cloves of garlic
  • My can of diced tomatoes was of the roasted garlic and onion variety (Can you tell we like garlic?)
  • My bottle of hot wing sauce was just Frank’s Red Hot Original
  • I chose an artisan blend of shredded cheddar cheeses rather than just white cheddar

In fact, most people wouldn’t consider these variations, just choices. But I thought I’d note them here so that I can recreate this exactly for Rob one day.

And while the sodium and fat content (with all that cheese!) is rather high, the calorie content is not – just 466 calories per serving and 33 grams of protein. Good for a once-in-a-while dinner, no?

What’s the best lasagne you’ve ever had?

Cheers~
Carrie

Red Carpet Ready…

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I know I’ve been quiet. I have many posts half-way in the works and then never get them completed. There is so much I want to share with you! And I miss this creative outlet.

It’s okay though. Around these parts I’ve mostly been managing my back and leg pain and am anxious for my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. It was almost canceled due to an insurance misunderstanding. This has been very frustrating, to say the least. I’m so lucky and grateful to have a chiropractor that keeps the pain as minimal as possible; but I’m ready for some answers and to move in the right direction toward healing.

And while I have no reason to walk {well, limp} down the Red Carpet myself, the Oscars are being presented this weekend! I am actually really looking forward to Seth MacFarlane as the host. It’s going to be terribly funny! I don’t think I’ve seen any of the movies up for nomination this year. One of these years, I want to see them all and be the judge myself. Don’t they have those Oscar Movie Marathons at the theaters?

And to honor the Oscars, this month’s Birchbox theme was Red Carpet Ready:

February 2013 BirchBox contents

February 2013 Birchbox contents

Although there is a new theme each month that is the same for all members, Birchbox recipients may receive different contents. My box contained:

  • Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate & Caramel Square – HELLO! It’s chocolate. It was packed into my lunch for the next day to enjoy with my coffee.
  • Curly Hair Solutions Rev Up Volumist – Okay, I have wavy hair more than curly. Sometimes I can make it work, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I just want it straightened. This stuff remind me of the Spray Gel I used to use in Junior High to scrunch my curls. That pretty much sums it up.
  • theBalm cometics Mary-Lou Manizer – This is a luminizing powder that I’m still learning how to use. It may do wonders for my uneven skin tone and dark under-eye circles. Luckily, Birchbox offers tips online as well as how-to videos. I received theBalm’s Hot Mama Shadow & Blush All-in-One in last month’s box and love it!
  • Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm – I really didn’t know what a Beauty Balm was until now. From the Birchbox website: “Their premium formula is a five-in-one primer, serum, moisturizer, SPF, and sheer tint. It uses exotic caviar extract and other actives to tame problem complexions.” I would agree. I love this stuff. Excellent to get up in go in the morning! And I think it’d be perfect for travel, too.
  • Juicy Couture Couture La La Fragrance – I liked this much more than I thought I would. All the Juicy stuff I’ve smelled in ads and magazines never really suited me before this one!

Which Oscar-nominated flicks have you seen and/or want to win?

Have you ever done an Oscar Movie Marathon?

Cheers~
Carrie