Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Friend Zone

This might be hard to believe, but I don't date much.  And my not much I pretty much mean not at all.  I know you're reading this in utter disbelief, but its true!  As my friends have paired off, I've become the one who's easily identified as the odd-numbered wheel - never part of a pair but constantly surrounded by couples.  My problem is that I always wind up in "the friend zone."

For anyone who lives under a rock, "the friend zone" is what happens when you meet a guy, develop feelings for him, and then become his pal who is a gal instead of his gal pal.  The "friend zone" is my bread and butter.

I have a few reasons for my perpetual singledom.  Like I don't think I ever really learned how to talk to guys like that.  I've always had guy friends and we've always talked about guy things.  I like sports.  I like to drink beer.  I don't really like eating out at fancy restaurants.  A baseball game is my idea of a great night out.  I like to laugh.  I'm loud.  I'm stubborn.  I'm opinionated.  I don't apologize for these things.

While I blame my perpetual singledom on a lot of things I know that its really rooted in my own insecurities.  I know that I'm fun and smart and funny (at least every once in a while, but hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while), but I've never felt like I'm a particularly pretty girl.  I know I'm not un-attractive, but I never look at myself in the mirror and say, "Damn!  What a smoking babe!"

I had the very great pleasure of having dinner with a dear college friend last night.  I was regaling him with my lack of dating woes and he gave me some really great advice.  He told me that if I really wanted those things, that I was going to have to make it happen.  If I like a guy, I should actually DO something about it, but that I need to be prepared to deal with the consequences.

So here I am, still single, but maybe ready to take a chance.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cheesy Taco Bake

Before we begin, I have two items of full disclosure.

Full disclosure #1: I love one-pan dishes.  Since you can cook everything in one pan, they HAVE to be easy.  And since you only use one real pan, clean up is a breeze.  

Full disclosure #2: This is one of my favorite, easy recipes.  Its not entirely mine, but what I'm going to share with you is the lightened up version of a Campbell's Kitchen recipe that you can find here.

What you'll need:

  • about 1 pound ground beef (I get the leanest beef you can buy)
  • 8 whole wheat (read: low carb) tortillas
  • 1 cup part skim cheddar cheese
  • 1 jar salsa (use your favorite kind)
  • 1 10 oz can Light Condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Franks Hot Sauce.
First, brown the ground beef (or ground white turkey like I used this time).

While that's browning, get out the tortillas and your handy-dandy pizza cutter and cut those tortillas into bite sized squares:

After the beef is browned, pour out any fat and add the water and tomato soup:

Add the salsa...

And the tortilla pieces.

Shake in some Frank's.  As much (or as little) as you'd like.  I like a lot, but that's just me.

Let those simmer to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let everything simmer together for a little while (five minutes-ish).  

Once its all simmered, stir in the cheese.  Cook until it melts.

this is the kind of lite cheese that I like to use

And you're done.  Seriously its that easy.  And its amazingly delicious.  

I like to top with Greek yogurt, but if you feel like living on the edge you can use real sour cream.  Or add more cheese.  I like to add a few more shakes of Frank's.  

Serve it up!  This is definitely enough for 4 meals, especially if you have it with some refried beans and a salad like I do.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of St. Patrick, beer, corned beef and cabbage, and all things green, here's a little Irish blessing:

May the road rise to meet you, 
May the wind be always at your back, 
May the sun shine warm upon your face, 
May the rains fall soft upon your fields, 
And, until we meet again, 
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March

Because its my birthday!  And for all of you who know me, you know that I'm someone to be afraid of 

There is this wonderful saying "a birthday is just the beginning of another 365 day around trip around the sun."  Today I turned 24 and I'm excited for the next 364 days.  Before I continue, let me just say that 23 was a FANTASTIC year.  It was a momentous year.  I decided to go to law school.  I moved to South Carolina.  I lost about 25 pounds.  I seriously started running.  I became much more comfortable with myself, more confident.  I even started dating-ish again.  It was a good year.

I'm really looking forward to 24.  I don't think that people peak in high school or college (at least I hope they don't) because I like to think that people get better with age- its one of the commonalities people have with wine.

Anyway, I'd like to share a very few pieces of advice I've collected/learned over the past year.

First, when you find that you have friends who treat you a hundred times better than you deserve, you've found your best friend.  For life.  I'm being serious  My very best friend in the whole wide world (MVBFITWWW) Meredith is better to me than I could ever expect or deserve and I love her more than words can ever, ever express (also check out her blog...she's pretty fantastic and quite honestly one of the very best people I know:  http://frugalfinishes.blogspot.com/).

Second, just like the John Lennon song, life really is what happens when your busy making other plans.  Life happens.  Sometimes it happens like you think and sometimes it doesn't.  I honestly believe that it happens the way that it should, that there's a purpose behind everything we do.  Like last year at this time, I never thought I'd now be living in Charleston, SC and enjoying law school more than I could have expected.  But that's what happened and I'm pretty excited for the adventure ahead of me.

Third, while some things change some things still remain the same.  Although I'm now living and writing in new city, experiencing new and different people, places and having new adventures; I am still enjoying the TV show, Friends, more than words can express.  Just goes to show you, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  

Fourth, I am not a morning person.  And I probably never will be.  Hopefully one day I'll be my own boss and have the opportunity to set my own hours (which will be something like 10-2, or 3, I guess I could stand 3 o'clock as quitting time).

Fifth and finally, I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to.  Law school?  Check.  Half marathon?  Check.  Be fantastic?  Double Check.

Okay maybe not so much with the last point, but that's the goal for 24!  Here's to the next 365  day journey!  Twenty-three you were quite an adventure!  I can hardly wait to see what 24 has in store!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

I don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but I'm Italian.  Well, part Italian.  You could never tell from looking at me, with my blonde hair and pale skin, but its true.  The only thing that I can trace from my Italianness is the ability to get a tan in the summer and an intense love of food that contains garlic and cheese.

Which explains why I love chicken parmesan.  

Even though I haven't been posting the pictures (or the recipes) my cooking/freezing/reheating plan is going well.  And I have a little bit of time right now so I thought I'd share one of my very favorite recipes - Baked Chicken Parmesan (all the flavor and none of the guilt).

First things first.  This dish NEEDS to go with a glass of wine.  So if you're anything like me and never think to put your white wine in the fridge ahead of time so its actually chilled when you want it, the first thing you will need to do is put the unopened bottle in the freezer.

Now that that's taken care of, you will need: boneless, skinless chicken breast, an egg, italian seasoned breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, fresh garlic, tomato sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese (I get the part skim kind but you could use regular if you're not counting calories):

You will first want to clean and filet the chicken.  I am deathly afraid of getting salmonella, so I have no pictures of this process.  But thin pieces of chicken work best, and filet-ing is the only way to do it!  Once you have clean, fileted chicken, make sure you CLEAN THE ENTIRE KITCHEN WITH CLOROX before proceeding.  

Ok, now that no one is going to catch anything from the raw chicken, set the oven to 350.  And then get to prepping the rest of the ingredients.  You'll need two bowls and a pyrex glass dish.  I usually spray the pyrex with Pam, just to make sure the chicken doesn't stick.  

After that I crack an egg into one bowl and give it a good whisk.  

In the second bowl I mix the seasoning for the chicken.  I use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, a good helping of parmesan cheese, and a generous amount of garlic powder.  I also add just a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Then I take the clean chicken and dip it into the egg, then cover it in the breading, and place it in the Pam-ed dish.

Repeat until you are out of chicken.  And bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

While its baking, peel several cloves of garlic.  In the interest of full disclosure, I love garlic.  I have never had anything that is "too garlicky."  But if you are someone who is not as enthusiastic about garlic, feel free to cut back on the amounts or just omit this step all together.

Once the chicken is out of the oven, place the whole peeled garlic around in the dish and get your tomato sauce.  I like the Ragu tomato and basil because its lite and delicious, but feel free to use your favorite (and bonus points if you make your own).

Pour the sauce onto the chicken until its covered.

Then top with cheese.

Right before you put it back in the oven, it should look kind of like this:

Bake at 350 for another 20 minutes.  During that time the cheese will get nice and melty and the sauce will keep the chicken nice and moist. 

Once its out of the oven, serve it with pasta, some salad and (of course) a glass of wine that should be completely chilled by this point.  This is an easy, healthy, delicious recipe that makes me extremely happy anytime I make it.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Weekend Fit for a Princess

After months of training and preparation, this past weekend was my Princess weekend.  Also known as my half marathon weekend.  It was a great weekend.  

My very wonderful mom drove down last Wednesday and hung out with  me until Friday when she and I left to meet all of the other princesses in sunny Florida.  Per usual, we got stuck in some crazy traffic, but made it to our hotel in time for dinner.  

Saturday was a lot of fun.  In the morning we headed off to "The Expo."  This is where you go to pick up your race number, race packet, goodie bag, and general merchandise you never knew you needed.  Last St. Patty's day I ran in an 8K race that was part of a Full/Half Marathon event.  I thought that expo was big, but it had nothing on this:

One of my favorite things at the expo was Cinderella's glass sneaker.  I even had my picture taken with it:

We spent the rest of the day by the pool.  I luckily was able to finish a bunch of homework since I was missing class on Monday.  Then we hit up the carbo load.  As an Italian-American who is also partly/mostly Irish,  I appreciate any opportunity to eat as much pasta as I like without any of the guilt.  Its amazing how much guilt 13.1 miles washes away.

After dinner it was off to bed.  Since we were running a Disney race, all of the runners have to be done before the park opens (don't want to cut that profit margin!).  This meant that we were up at two.  That's right.  Two. AM.  Disgusting.  

Then we caught a shuttle to the starting corrals.  Here's a picture I snapped of me and Kathryn on the shuttle at approximately 3:30.

We hung out for a while before gun-time at 5:45.  My corral was sent off (by Cinderella's Fairy Godmother) just a few minutes after 6.  Then we were off!  I took a bunch of pictures over the 13.1, here are some of the best:

It took us a little over 3 hours to finish, but we did!  Here's one last picture of me and Kathryn with our rocking medals!

It was an awesome weekend!  I can't wait to do it again!