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September 30, 2010

Day Eight

Almost done!

That's sad, I am ready for this to be over. But at least I have still been able to blog about restaurants and recipes - my true loves! I do need to get back to some photo challenges. I have kinda taken a break with those as well. Oops!

Today is day eight and that means I will be talking about three turn ons. Yay for short days. Yesterday I only had to write about four things, and now today only three. 

Day eight : Three turn ons 
  1. Hard worker - My man is such a hard worker. Yes, that definitely means at work, where he is needed for all kinds of jobs because he does them all so well and in a timely manner. But that also means at home and in all aspects of life. Whatever he puts his mind to, he does it wholeheartedly. Now I have admitted that I am not much of a cleaner. PJ, though he doesn't like to clean, is much better than I am. He doesn't get side tracked easily like me. He doesn't take breaks in between. He just gets the job done when it comes to cleaning. And at work, he is just a beast. He is usually sweating because he is working so hard. I love that he takes pride in his work. That is his passion - to be the best worker he can be .... always, in any circumstance. Who wants a bum for a husband? I never have to worry about him being unmotivated, or not taking care of our (future) family. He will always do what he has to to provide for his family. And employees like PJ are the type that move up in the world. Bosses love him and recognize his abililties, and I am sure that when the time comes for promotions and opportunities, his name will be at the top of the list. Hey, he has already moved up in so many ways already over the years.
  2. Confidence - I kind of touched base with this in my 'turn-offs' post. An insecure man is not attractive. One who is constantly worrying about being cheated on or you leaving him. One who just takes crap from his woman, not knowing his worth or how he deserves to be treated. A man can be not very physically attractive, but if he has that confidence and swag, then it makes him sexy. Not to be confused with cockiness though. 
  3. Loyalty - I guess I have just been blessed with a good man. He always makes time for me. He doesn't go out and stay out late with his friends at if-y places. He likes to spend his downtime with me, just hanging out at home. He doesn't check out other pretty girls (in front of me at least!). He tells me all the time that I am exactly what he wants in this world, so he would never have a reason to cheat on me. He is loyal to me. He is loyal to his friends. He is loyal to his job. That is a great quality to find in a man.
These are just a few of the reasons why I hold on to him.   :)

Cheesy BBQ Sloppy Joes

Before my blogging days, we usually made the same chicken and pork meals every other night... with mushrooms and onions. Nothing creative. And not a variety of meats. Once I started blogging, I vowed that I would try out different kinds of meat to liven up our meal variety. Sloppy Joes haven't been anything exciting to me in the past, but Heidi's take on sloppy joes sure did appeal to me! She used Texas toast instead of buns, and the barbeque concoction on top just looked like something we had to try. Boy am I glad we did! Both the fiancee and I enjoyed this dish thoroughly!

These are all of the ingredients needed to make this: Texas Toast - I used Pepperidge Farm, shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, ketchup - I used Hunt's, a can of diced tomatoes (again, Hunt's), worcestershire sauce (French's brand), jalapenos, bbq sauce (Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ is my fave!), and of course the star of the show.... lean ground beef (Laura's lean ground beef).

First I started out with about 1 1/2 lb of Laura's lean ground beef and crumbled it up. Then I browned it in a large skillet on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. I cooked it for about 10 minutes (until the beef was no longer pink). Then I drained all of that grease out and put it back in the skillet.

Then I added the canned tomatoes and stirred them in. After that, I added the ketchup, bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, diced jalapeno peppers, and juice from the jar of peppers. Such pretty vibrant colors! At this point, as I saw it coming together, I knew it was going to be something delicious.

Next, I stirred this beautiful concoction together. Then I covered it with a lid and let it cook for 10 minutes, to let the flavors all mingle together.
While the beef and tomato mixture was simmering away, I cooked the Texas Toast according to the package directions, which was to place it on a pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. I am not sure of the exact time to cook the toast, because I don't have the box in front of me. But flip the toast midway through cooking so that it gets evenly brown on both sides.

Once the beef mixture had marinated together, and the toast was nice and golden brown, I poured the beef mixture over the Texas Toast and sprinkled some cheese on top. The heat from the beef makes it melt almost instantly.

.... and then you eat it! Look how yummy those look!

Cheesy BBQ Sloppy Joes
adapted from Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi
  • 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup ketcup
  • 1/2 cup barbeque sauce
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons diced (jarred) jalapeno peppers
  • 1 tablespoon liquid from jalapeno peppers
  • 1 package frozen garlic Texas Toast
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese 
Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain well. Return beef to the skillet. Stir in tomatoes, ketchup, bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, jalapenos and liquid. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Texas toast according to package directions. Serve beef over Texas toast. Sprinkle with cheese.

This seriously was one of the easiest new recipes I have made in awhile, and one of the best! It doesn't take a long time to cook, doesn't take a lot of prep work, and isn't too pricey of a meal. PJ has been asking for me to make these again, but I haven't had a chance to yet, as I have been too focused on making new meals! But I will definitely go back to this meal again and again, especially on lazy week nights when we need a quick fix.

I am linking this recipe to Foodie Friday. 

.... and to This Week's Craving: The theme for this week is HAMBURGER MEAT!

Cheesy Bbq Sloppy Joes

September 29, 2010

Restaurant Review : Lee's in Covington

Since I don't know how to make "real" fried chicken at home, I opt for the usual fast food joints like KFC, Popeyes, and Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken. Since the former two aren't near my work, I find myself at Lee's Chicken on Wednesdays, when they offer a 3 piece meal with 2 sides (drink not included) for $4.44. I actually just had it today for lunch, but unfortunately the chicken tasted strange and was cold, along with the potato skins. Based off of today's lunch, I won't be going back there for a long time. My coworker also had a poor lunch today, so we both won't be going back for awhile.

But this post is based off of a lunch I ate there about a month ago. I am super late posting about this visit! But on this particular visit, my food was good at least  :)

They have a dine-in section if you are feeling up to eating out. Or you can order your food to-go, or use the drive thru. I sometimes eat inside, but (until recently) they allow smoking inside so it is often a turn off. I quit smoking back in March, but besides that I have never been a fan of smoking while eating, or being near smoke while eating. So I have stopped eating inside and usually just bring it back to our lunchroom at work.

That particular day wasn't a Wednesday, so I couldn't get my 3 wings and 2 sides. But that's ok because that is too much food anyway! I opted for only 2 regular wings, a side of potato wedges, and a biscuit. Their wings are a hit or miss. Sometimes the meat is too hard and way overcooked. Other times it is not, or I just eat the parts that aren't so hard. The potato wedges also are a hit or miss. They are like a mashed potato wedge - crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Sometimes, unfortunately, they aren't cooked enough AND they are cut very thick, so they don't taste good. The biscuit is good with butter and honey on it. Kinda like a mini dessert.

I have also tried their chicken strips which are pretty good. My coworker always orders that. I always find myself drawn back to the regular wings. I have never tried their gizzards or liver or anything like that. I am not a fan of their mac n cheese at all. It isn't cheesy enough, and is just pretty gross. Their mashed potatoes are all right, but nothing special. Maybe it's the gravy I don't like. I have tried their fried pickles. I didn't order them but someone else did and let me try one. They were good, but I am not sure if I would want a whole order of them. (I think this was at Lee's, their website does not mention fried pickles... maybe it was a limited time item).

Basically, Lee's is pretty good, in fast food standards. It isn't anything special. It can be a hit or miss kind of thing. But hey, it's close, it's (pretty) cheap, and it's easy. And it's fried  :)

Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken on Urbanspoon

Italian Pork Chops

Here's a simple pork chop recipe for a busy week night! This recipe doesn't require much effort and doesn't take long to make at all. I did taste the Italian dressing flavor, but I just wish that there was something more. Something else to make it pop. I will have to come up with some modifications for next time.

Italian Pork Chops adapted from Betty Crocker

*Yields 2 servings 
  • 1/4 cup Original Bisquick mix
  • 1/6 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup Progresso Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 2 bone-in pork chops
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Season chops with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Place Bisquick mix, dressing, and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Coat pork chops in Bisquick mix, then dip into the dressing, then coat with bread crumbs.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork in oil about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce heat to low and turn pork chops. Cook 10 to 15 minutes longer or until no longer pink in the center.

Buttermilk Chicken

My future mom-in-law and I were talking the other day about how difficult it is for us to make "fried" chicken, without deep frying it. We both have the same problem - the crispy "fried" coating always comes off. I have had this problem when sauteeing chicken in the skillet in the past. I had the same problem with some chicken fingers that I made once before. The coating kept coming off, and to me that is the best part! One day I will perfect the "fried" chicken without deep frying it. One day, one day. Until then, this is all I've got - a baked version  :)

I made this from a combination of two Martha Stewart recipes - one from Everyday Food and the other from Martha Stewart Living.

Buttermilk Chicken
  • Chicken thighs
  • 1 or 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Frank's red hot sauce
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil (or cooking spray)
  • 4 cups cornflakes, finely crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper  
Preheat oven to 400*. Spread oil on a baking sheet (or spray with cooking spray). 

Rinse chickens, then pat dry.

In a medium sized bowl, add buttermilk and hot sauce and mix. Dip chickens in, turning, and let marinate for about 1 hour in the refrigerator.  Once marinated, season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

In a separate shallow bowl, add cornflakes and basil and blend. Dredge chickens in cornflake mixture, turning to coat evenly.

Bake on oiled baking sheet for about 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, flipping pieces halfway through cooking time.  

    Day Seven

    I skipped a day. Hey, it's allowed. This is getting a tad old. I want to blog about recipes and restaurants! I will be kind of glad when this is over. I know no one is forcing me to do this, but I might as well finish what I started. At least today's topic is short.

    Day Seven: Four turn offs.

    1. Bad breath and hygiene - Well this is pretty obvious, but who wants a smelly man? Don't get me wrong, a manly smell is attractive at times. But smelling like you don't shower is a no-no. And the bad breath thing makes kissing almost unbearable. I once had a boyfriend (my last boyfriend was when I was like 14!!) who had really bad breath and I just couldn't bear to kiss him really. I knew that we wouldn't last. And also dirty fingernails - Just because you are a man, doesn't mean you have to be a dirty man. I know a lot of men have dirty jobs, but please clean under your nails. It just looks like you don't wash your hands if not!

    2. Guys who try to hit on girls by yelling "Hey shortie" or "Can I holla at you?" or something else that is not at all flattering to a woman (or me at least). If I were even single, do they even think I would be attracted to that or want to be treated like that? And once I respond that I have a boyfriend/fiancee, they just say they don't care. Well obviously I do if I am telling you!

    3. Pushovers - Yeah, of course I want PJ to do what I want him to do. But would I really want a pushover? Hell no! I want (and have) a man with a backbone. I want a man to act like a man. I don't like when I hear stories about a man just being trampled over by his girl. We have a friend who just takes anything from his girlfriend... she cheats, does what she wants when she wants, and he just takes it. I often say that I want PJ to do what I say, but at the same time I would not be satisfied with a man who I could walk all over. I like the idea of equality in a relationship. We aim for that.

    4. Leaving the toilet seat up - We have a co-ed bathroom at work, and sometimes the toilet seat is left up. Guys, you know that you work with women! We don't want to see your pee-covered seat, let alone touch it to put it back down! Also, I hate when men don't wipe their pee wee and don't wash their hands after they use the bathroom. Even if it's just number 1, wash those hands! It freaks me out because I know a lot of guys don't (and girls too, I see that at the mall when they just leave without washing!). And I hate the thought of a guy not wiping, there could be a little leftover pee that needs to be wiped off! Ok we are getting a little too graphic maybe?

    All done - glad that was a shorter one!

    September 27, 2010

    Day Six

    I am finally caught up. Today is Day Six, which means I will introduce you to five people who mean a lot to me. I am sorry that much of this seems redundant. Over the past few days, you have gotten to know me a little better. In my other posts, I feel I have probably answered this question already. I have already talked about the people who are most important to me. Many of them are no surprise, as I'm sure all of us value our parents and friends and significant other. I will try to keep this short, since it is pretty redundant.

    1. My mama, Shirley Vick - A wonderful mother. A loyal wife of 40+ years. She has provided me with excellent education. She paid for all of my extracurricular activities growing up, and attended every single one. Whether it was a soccer game, piano recital, or dance performance, Mama was always there. I know it had to cost a lot to pay for my schooling (a private preschool, grade school, high school, and college), as well as all of those extracurriculars. I never heard her complain. And it's not like she was super rich. She just worked so hard to provide for me and my brother. She is such a giving person. To her children and her husband. She is just like a traditional Southern mother and wife - she cooks for all of us and cleans everything (until recently when my dad has been helping alot more). She did that WHILE working a full-time job. She used to spoil me with just about anything I wanted. She fixed me snacks when I wanted and always had breakfast ready for me. She is the kind of mom I hope to be one day to my children. I have a great source to look to for help in the future. Moms like her are so special. No one will ever love me as much as my mama. It took me awhile to realize that.... that no one else in the world will ever love you as much as your mother. 

    2. My fiancee, PJ - How lucky can I be? I just introduced you to my amazing mother. And here is another amazing person I am lucky to have in my life. He is the most loyal man I have ever met. He makes me feel beautiful every day of my life, even after 10 years and plenty of packed-on pounds on my end. He calls me sexy which is so important, because of course your mate will say you are pretty or beautiful, but for him to think I am still sexy after all of this time makes me feel better about myself. We are opposites in many ways (he loves to debate, I don't. He is talkative, I am more of a listener. He is free to be himself regardless of whomever is around, while I care more about what people think). Yet, we are similar where it matters. We both feel that loyalty and honesty are so important. We want the same things in life. We enjoy many of the same interests in life. Of course sometimes we have our downs, like any couple, but they are always replaced by the ups. Again, how did I get this lucky?

    3. My brother, Jr - He is 15 years older than me. So we have never hung out with the same friends and done the same things. But we have always been close, as he has been somewhat of a father figure to me. He used to get me ready for school and do my hair when my mom was at work. He is a loving brother. I love to spend time with him, goofing off. He always make me laugh - that is a brother's job. We argue over silly things, but we will always love each other. We can just be goofy siblings together, or we can have long serious talks. No matter what, I know I can count on him.

    4. My only niece, Kalyn - That brings me to my next loved one... my brother's daughter. She is my niece, Kalyn. I was there the day she was born. Since I only have one brother, and he only had one child, I am very close to both of them. I have always wanted a lot of siblings, but I only had one brother. So I try to stay close with him. And he only had one kid, so I know I will only be an aunt once in my life and want to do it right! I want to be someone she can look up to, admire, but also someone she can run to for help and tell her secrets to. Basically like an older sister! She is about to be 16 in a couple of months, and I see her maturing more and more each time I see her. I'm proud of who she is becoming. I have watched her grow for 15 years, and can't wait to see the woman she becomes as an adult.  As my only niece, she means so much to me!

    5. My daddy - We haven't always had the strongest relationship. I have resented him for much of my childhood. Now that I am older, I have learned to put things aside and just focus on the present, not the past. I wanted to move forward with our relationship, and he has come around. He has completely changed these past few months, and now I see the daddy that I always wanted. He is more involved in my life, a better husband to my mom, and just overall more caring and approachable.  I see a change in him. It's a good thing. I can't wait for our relationship to become even stronger and tighter. (Sorry no pics, he hates getting his picture taken!)

    Honorable mentions: 

    -- Marcey, my bestie - love you girl! Sorry, it didn't seem right to not talk about my family in the above section, but you know you are my best friend! We have so much fun shopping and eating together! I love that we share the same interests. No one else understands my love for books like you :)  We are nerds, I know. I love that we are engaged at the same time. We can help plan each other's wedding! I hope we are preggers at the same time too, even though you hate kids, I know you will have some mini Marceys and Jamies running around one day. I am so glad we met at Dillards Salon, and though we both have moved on from that job, we have not moved on from each other.
    --Mair Wood oops I mean Mair Wallace - You were one of my very best childhood friends. When we lost touch, I kept looking for you on facebook and just hoping that we would meet back up one day. And then I saw your friend request on facebook one day, and I was overly excited! I exclaimed to PJ how I had been looking for my best friend for some years but couldn't find her because she moved to Illinois and I lost her number, and had mine changed. I was so glad you were looking for me too, and found me! I don't ever want to lose touch again girl, but no matter how long we go without seeing each other it is still just like it used to be when we do get together. Just like the old times. Except now you are married, with two kids, living in another state. Our situations have changed, our paths in life have changed, but our friendship never will. That I can promise.


    Day Five (on Day Six)

    I'm back! Technically, it is not Day Five. That was yesterday. But hey, I was busy this weekend. So here is Day Five's post... a little late.

    Day Five: Six things you wish you could change 
    or you wish you’d never done.

    1.  I wish I could change the Bengals owner (and subsequently, some players) - As long as Mike Brown is the Bengals owner, I'm afraid our team will continue to struggle. He seems to care more about the money than winning. If we had a different owner, one who cared about actually winning football, then maybe we would also have better players, and not constantly picking up delinquents, nobodies, and over-rated players. Ultimately, I would also change our quarterback. I'm so over him.

    2.  I wish I had never took a break from college. If I had just gone straight to grad school after undergrad, I would be finished by now and better off. 

    3.  I wish I had never stopped my extracurricular activities once I reached high school. In grade school, I participated in every sport possible. Once I got to high school, I knew it required more time and I didn't want to constrict my high school years to long practices and games. Now I wish that I had stayed in sports and been more in shape during high school and once I got out. Also, I wish I hadn't stopped playing piano. I did just get my piano delivered to my house, so I can start teaching myself again. But if I hadn't stopped with my piano teacher, I could be amazing by now. And lastly, I wish I hadn't stopped taking dance classes. I was on a dance team and that was such a great time in my life. And now I find myself watching SYTYCD and Dancing with the Stars, wishing that was me and knowing that it could have been if I had stuck to my dreams. Hindsight.

    4.  I wish I had never been such a horrible teenager for my mother. I wish I had spent more time with her in my teen years, instead of focusing all of my attention on boys and friends. I wish I hadn't thought the world revolved around me, and that my mom was supposed to do things for me. I wish I hadn't taken her for granted. I can only make up for it now. Because of course now I realize that I was the wrong one, and she only loved me unconditionally and did her best as a mother.

    5.  I wish I could change the fact that I went to Catholic school all of my life. Don't get me wrong, I got some amazing schooling. Teachers were great - they really cared. Lessons were advanced and I learned so much. However, I didn't experience much diversity in my school. I would have loved to go to a public school at some point in my childhood so that I could experience different cultures. Also, so that I could have more street smarts. I have the book smarts, but not so much street smarts. And I think that may be because I never experienced public schools.

    6.  I wish I hadn't drank so much yesterday. Ugh, my tummy is mad at me today.

    Almost caught up!

    Day Four (on Day Six)

    Oops! I got a little busy over the weekend and didn't get a chance to post my Day Four and Day Five posts. So here I am on Day Six, catching up on missed days. So now I have to write three posts today to make up for it! So bear with me.

    Day Four's topic is Seven things that cross your mind a lot.

    1. What's for dinner? I am constantly asking myself this! I actually just thought about it 10 minutes ago, at 10:30 in the morning! Yes you read that right... I am thinking about dinner at 10:30 in the morning. Granted, I am hungry. But that's not even the reason why I think about it so much. Ever since I started blogging, I have been stressing about what new meal to try that evening, if I have the ingredients or if I'll need to make a Kroger run. And if I do need to go to the grocery, I have to figure out everything I need to get before I have left work so that I can stop at the store on the way home. And once I figure out the main dish, I have to think about what side item we will have. PJ doesn't contribute much to this thought process. He mainly just says fix whatever. He thinks everything I make is good :) And he also would be content with a cheese and ketchup sandwich if it came down to it. He is very easy - I am the one who stresses about food lol.

    2. Am I going to take the steps to go back to grad school? What should I do first? When would be the best time? Should I take the GRE first, find the school first, apply for scholarships etc?! Basically a zillion questions with no answers. And not much motivation. I have a full time job, and trying to get into grad school is not an easy task. It takes time and effort. Both of which I have little of once finishing a long days work. I don't know what I want to focus on once in grad school. I don't know what school to go to. I don't know how I'm going to pay for it. All I know is that time just keeps passing by and I am getting older and older and further and further away from the likelihood that I will return to school. So I need to do it! But then once I decide that I should do it (the easy part), I find myself right back at "How? What? When?" And then the worrying starts again.

    3. I should probably go to the gym. Especially since I am paying a monthly fee for both PJ and I, basically for nothing. But I don't want to go! I am always torn between just accepting who I am and trying to love me (flabby arms, jelly belly and all)..... and wanting to be healthy and fit and not settle. I hate working out. I love to eat my fatty foods. I wish I liked to work out and eat healthily. But since I don't, I am always thinking about how I need to be at the gym working off all that fat. But it is usually just a thought...

    4. When should PJ and I start our family? I want to be more financially stable. I mean, that would be ideal. I often worry if it will get in the way of me trying to go back to school (see #2). Is there ever truly a right time? Or will there always be something, some reason why starting a family can wait?

    5. Death - not so much me dying. But more that my loved ones will die. I sometimes worry that I am going to get the dreaded call that someone has passed away. My parents are both in their 60s so I am constantly worried about them getting older and sicker and dying one day. I hate the thought. On to the next....

    6. What shows am I going to watch tonight?! Are all of them taping?!

    7. I should probably be cleaning instead of watching tv. Oh well. The mess aint goin anywhere!

    Stay tuned for Day Five (on Day Six) lol.

    September 25, 2010

    Day Three

    Day three is almost over. But I still made it in time to post this. Sorry, the man and I just got back from Eddie Merlot's a bit ago. We enjoyed ourselves some artichoke dip, and we each had two giant lobster tails. It was delicious. Now my lip smells like butter.

    Is it just me... or does it seem like the day should be matching with the number of things I am blogging about? It just seems strange for it to be day 3 but I'm writing about 8 things...Anyways...  Note: My Chi flat iron probably would have made the list, but since it broke a week ago I have been without it so I guess I don't really need it. Many of the things on this list I don't technically need, but lets just play along for fun.

    Day Three: Eight things you couldn't live without.

    1. My facial moisturizer and cleanser - My face just feels so dry without it. Ever since I read about facial moisturizer, I have convinced myself that I can never be without it and it is a regular necessity like deoderant or soap. I also don't like harsh soaps on my face. It really does dry out my face. So my Dove facial cleanser is just right.

    2. Stove/oven - Because I love to cook, silly! I am not much of a microwave kind of person. I don't like TV dinners. I like to make (and eat) home-cooked meals. Don't get me wrong, I do like to eat out too. But usually I find that I can make better meals at home. Or at least save money. I do like to eat out just to get more ideas of what to make at home though. But I just dunno what Peej and I would do without our stove and oven!

    3. DVR - I went crazy the other day without my DVR. It is what makes me who I am... what gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Ok maybe I am exaggerating (maybe?) but really I don't know what I would do without it for a long period of time. I don't remember (and can't imagine!) what life was like before it. And guess what? We just bought a second box, and until we return our old one, we will be able to record SIX shows at once! Do you hear that?! I mean that is just heaven. And is it sad that on some days I do need that capability? I'm sorry, it's not my fault that they air all of the great shows at the same primetime!

    4. Our house and home - It isn't big. It isn't a mansion. Heck, it isn't even where I would want to be living 15 years from now. But it is our first home! And I am so proud of it. I love coming home to it every day. Having a home has been expensive of course, but I have enjoyed it more than living in apartments. Plus it is ours. It symbolizes the start of our life together.

    5. Sunglasses - Have to have them every morning. I hate squinting the whole drive to work. I am always prepared. I keep a few pairs in my car, and some in the house in case PJ is driving and I don't need to go to my car. Gotta have the shades.

    6. Concealer - I am not a makeup girl at all. But I have these dark circles under my eyes that I really really want to get rid of but have no idea how to. So since I can't and until I can remove them, I cover them up with my good old concealer and highlighter stick in one. I can still see my dark circles of course. But it sure does wonders.

    7. Grill - I love grill-anything. I love the taste of grill out food. I love the smell of it. I love the activity itself. There is just something about grilling that is so peaceful, yet fun, relaxing, yet social. I enjoy having people over and grilling out and playing basketball. PJ and I also have fun grilling together just the two of us late at night. I really want to upgrade to a better grill. But the one I have now is satisfying our grilling needs for sure.

    8. My car  - My good old '95 Honda Accord. You are special. You were a gift from my mom when I finally got my license at age 18. I have had this car for 7 years! We have been some places together! It has taken me on tons of trips. Been with me on my career paths. Seen most of my relationship. It has lasted this long, and still has some miles left on it. It is really a necessity though, because otherwise I wouldn't be able to get to work. I do plan on upgrading to a better car one day in the future. But until then, my old beat up car is doing the job. Or should I say, getting me to the job.

    Ha - I technically still got this done on Day Three. With one minute to spare :)

    September 24, 2010

    Lemon-Butter Broccoli

    I haven't always been a fan of all veggies, but I have always been a fan of broccoli. So I love to find new recipes for broccoli. I was pleased with this one - it had great flavor and was very simple!

    I bought the kind of broccoli that can be steamed in the microwave, or simmered in a pot with a little water. Usually I make it in the pot with about an inch or two of water and cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes. This time, I microwaved the broccoli, inside the bag, for 4 minutes (these were the "microwave" directions on the bag of broccoli). This particular kind comes cleaned and ready to steam. So that only took me 4 minutes to cook. Then, in a skillet I melted 5 teaspoons of unsalted butter and the garlic. When it foamed, I added 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and cooked for 30 seconds. Then I mixed the broccoli in the lemon butter, and added lemon zest, salt and pepper and tossed it all together. At the end, I served it with some grated parmesan cheese on top. It was delicious. It had that lemon flavor from the juice and zest (I love zest!) as well as the cheese flavor. Simple yet delicious - my kind of recipe!

    Lemon-Butter Broccoli adapted from Taste and Tell
    • 12 oz. package of broccoli, already rinsed
    • 5 teaspoons unsalted butter
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • grated Parmesan cheese for topping

      Microwave bag of broccoli for 4 minutes. Melt 5 teaspoons butter and the minced garlic in a skillet on medium-high heat and when it starts to foam, add the lemon juice for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, 1-2 minutes until broccoli is well coated. Serve with grated cheese on top.

      I am linking this recipe to Foodie Friday.

      Restaurant Review : Dragon City in Cheviot

      I love restaurants that deliver. The only thing is.... most places that deliver usually don't quite live up to my standards. They bring soggy fries or sloppily placed food. They bring cold food or they forget part of it. And usually they only tend to be pizza chains, or Chinese restaurants. This happens to be about one of those Chinese restaurants - Dragon City Kitchen.

      I have been there numerous times now. My favorite and usual is the Shrimp Egg Foo Young. You can get it as its own meal, served with white rice and gravy. Or you can get it as a combination plate with an egg roll and pork fried rice. I usually do the combo because I love their pork fried rice. I am not big on egg rolls, but this one is pretty good dipped in some soy sauce or hot mustard. Mix the shrimp egg foo young, gravy, and rice together for good flavor. This is my go-to meal. Always good.

      PJ's favorite is the Shrimp with Lobster Sauce. I have tried it, and it is pretty good but the sauce is a little too liquidy for me. He too gets his in the combo platter served with pork fried rice and an egg roll.

      We also usually get some Crab Rangoons to share. They come with six total, so we each get three. They are so yummy when hot and fresh. They lose quality as they get colder, so try to gobble them up while hot! They are served with a pink sweet dipping sauce, like a sweet and sour sauce. Delish.

      Those are the regulars. We have eaten here quite a few times - since they deliver it is always an easy option. We didn't want to always order the same things, so that we wouldn't get tired of our go-to menu items. So I have also tried the Crab Stick appetizers, which were horrible! It was like a imitation crab corn dog. Just not good at all. We never made the mistake of ordering those again. I sure wish I knew what was in that Pu Pu Platter. We have joked about trying it just because of the name. Hopefully it doesn't taste like its name.

      I've tried the Lobster Cantonese, which was pretty much just a big liquidy concoction of lobster and veggies and a thin lobster sauce. Similar to the Shrimp in Lobster Sauce but with Lobster, in my opinion. I wasn't very impressed, so I haven't ordered that again either. PJ has tried the Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce and he didn't like that at all either.

      I was pleased with the General Tso's Chicken, the Beef with Garlic Sauce, the Shrimp & Scallops with Garlic Sauce, and the Sesame Chicken. I know I need to venture out and try Chow Mein or Chop Suey or Szechuan anything, but I just don't know anything about those menu items and am afraid I may not like it. I will one day though. Really, I will!

      We haven't been here in awhile, because last time we ordered from there we had a problem. They are supposed to be open until 11 PM during the week. You can order on the internet, which is a plus for us because I hate calling in orders. So we ordered our meal online at about 10:15 PM or so on a week night. They never came. Like, we have had to wait an hour or a little more before for them to deliver our food, which is a downfall in and of itself. So we were just waiting for our food for over an hour, wondering if they never received the order or if they were still going to deliver it. When we called just to check, they never answered. So we figured, maybe they are closed. Don't know why they were closed at 10:15 PM, but they were. And they even sent a confirmation email to my email address saying that they received our order and would deliver it shortly. The confirmation email is meant to confirm, so don't send out that email if you aren't open!  I had to call the next day and ask what happened, and they just said nonchalantly that they closed early and no one was there at that time to take our order. Just in a matter of fact tone. With no apologies. No discounts. Not even an ounce of guilt in his voice. Nothing. I think that was the last straw for us. Also, their website displays your final price and how much your credit card will be charged, including delivery fee. Then when they arrive, it is a more expensive price. When I asked about it, they said the delivery price has increased. Maybe they should change that on their website. Because I'm pretty sure it isn't legal to charge an unauthorized amount to someone's credit card. Even if it is only a dollar or some change more. So we have boycotted them for awhile until we (mainly I) feel ok about giving them our service again. Probably on a late night when we have no other options. They definitely need some improvements. In many aspects. But when you're feeling lazy and don't want to cook, or even drive anywhere to pick up some food, then Dragon City is not a bad choice. Just stick with what you like and you won't go wrong. And maybe expect to be waiting a little while ??

      Dragon City No. 4 on Urbanspoon

      September 23, 2010

      Day Two

      Day two has arrived. And so I must share nine things about myself that most people don't know.

      1. I am obsessed with reality TV. It's ridiculous how much I watch. When my cable messed up last night and they told me I wouldn't be able to watch anything for 2 days, I cried. I literally cried.

      2. Speaking of crying, I am a very emotional person. I cry over anything! The smallest things (even TV, see #1) Oh and when I get so mad, I cry. So basically I cry when sad, mad, or happy! I sure am sounding like a crybaby. I really don't cry THAT much.

      3. I love to collect cookbooks. I don't even know if I have really used a recipe from any of them. I think I just like to collect them and see them on my bookshelf. I usually go to the internet and fellow food bloggers for recipes to actually make. So why do I collect all of these cookbooks? Because I love to, that's why. There is no useful reason. I don't know what's wrong in my head!

      4. I am kind of like a guy when it comes to sports. I can watch football all day and night. I have about 5 or 6 Bengals jerseys, and a whole display case for my memorabila. I love love love watching UFC and collecting figurines. I also love to watch some college basketball and NBA playoffs.

      5. While we are on collecting, I also love to collect DVDs. I have soooo many, and some still haven't been opened! Sad, I know. I also just started collecting elephant figurines. I love love love elephants. I also collect loads and loads of books, and haven't read most of them. Wow, I sure am wasting my money on collecting things, most of which I don't even use!
      Me in front of my DVD and book collection - since then I have separated my book storage from my DVD storage because they both are ever-growing

      6. I am so messy. I don't want to be! It's just a part of me. I am always wanting to be cleaner in my head, but it just doesn't come to fruition. I guess I would rather be spending my time watching reality tv (again, see #1) or cooking.

      7. I want like 5 kids! But I am so scared to actually start having kids! I didn't have any younger siblings, didn't babysit really, so I have NO experience with kids. I mean none. I wouldn't know what to do if my baby were crying, sick, etc. I don't know how to hold a baby. I don't know how to change a diaper. So basically I am like a man when it comes to babies also! I am worried that I will fail at it. And I just want to be the best possible mother I can be. So I keep putting it off because I am still searching and waiting for the "right" answers so that I feel like I am prepared to raise a child for the rest of my (and his/her) life. I still feel like a child myself! But seriously if I want to have like 5 kids (ok, maybe that will change after the first one), then we better get started soon!

      8. I would love to go on The Amazing Race and travel the world that way! At one point, I was so serious about it that I was prepared to take Spanish lessons (and possibly other language lessons) so that I would be prepared when I was in a foreign country. Plus I really felt in my head that PJ and I had a good chance of being selected for the show - the fact that we are an interracial couple. I had never seen a white guy and black girl couple on the show before, so I thought that we would stand out in the casting. They like to do different kinds of pairs.... gay couples, elderly couples, brothers/sisters, father/daughter, friends, etc. But now the interracial couple role has been filled (thanks alot Ericka & Brian!  Just kidding! - see pic below) in season 15. Damn damn damn! There goes my dream.


      9. I don't like sushi. I just don't get it.

      Hope you liked getting to know me a little better!

      September 22, 2010

      Day One

      Day one of my blogging activity is here, so I've got some blogging to do. Day one is Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now. Here goes!

      1. Mike Brown (Bengals owner) - Instead of looking for new wide receivers and tight ends and blah blah blah, pretty pretty please think about a new quarterback! Palmer just isn't doing the job. I know you know this, man.

      2. Mair Wallace and family - Get your butts down here to Cincinnati! I really hope you guys move down here. It would be so great to have my grade school BFF in my life all the time! Illinois is just too far :(
      3. Daddy - Quit bothering me about getting this piano delivered to my house! It has been in your basement for 10+ years, another few months won't hurt! But I do love you :)

      4. Marcey - It's so on this Saturday! Shopping and good food. And I can't wait for the bridal expo in October! Are we doing the breast cancer walk this year? Come on, it's a tradition (or should I say, skipping the walk and going to Bruegger's Bagels instead, is a tradition lol!!!)

      5. Fiancee - We have made it through 10+ years of ups and downs. Sometimes when we fight I get so angry with you, but in the end, I know there is no one else I would rather spend my life with. I hate fighting! So glad we made up :) But then again, we always do.

      6. Aunt Granny - I miss you so much. I think about you all the time. You were very special to so many people. It is hard to live this life without you now. Now all I can do is remember the good times, what kind of person you were, and feel blessed to have had you in my life for 25 years. But man, life isn't the same.

      7. Taylor Swift haters - Stop hating on this poor girl! She is an adorable, talented, sweet girl. I loved her VMA song and it was really a way to move on from the Kanye incident. I was mesmerized by her performance. So please stop bashing her! She isn't the one who did anything wrong!

      8. My blogging buddy, Krista - You are so sweet! Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. There aren't a lot of people that do, but I can always count on you! So thanks for being interested :) 

      9. My niece Kalyn - I can't believe you are about to be 16! I was there when you were born, it's crazy to think about! I will definitely be there for your huge Sweet 16 celebration in November. I can't wait! I am so proud of you, and love you so much! You have turned out to be a great person :)

      10. God - Thank you for my many blessings. My life. My loves. My home. My job. Nature. Thank you for making it possible for me to be here!

      There - I said it!

      The Next 10 Days.....

      I am kind of obsessed with reading other peoples' blogs. I enjoy checking out cooking, photography, fashion, and even just personal diary-style blogs where people share their lives. I am not quite sure how I came across Melissa's blog, but I did, and for that I am glad. She has a great sense of humor, her writing style is comical and intriguing, and I feel like I can relate to her. Without even knowing her! When I first saw this challenge, I didn't think I wanted to play along. I felt like I wouldn't have much to say. I'm not very clever. But then after seeing her list, I knew it sounded like fun. So here I am.... challenged for the next 10 days....

      Here is the schedule of what I will be blogging about for the next 10 days... Join in if you like!

      Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.

      Day Two: Nine things about yourself that most people don't know.

      Day Three: Eight things you couldn't live without.

      Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.

      Day Five: Six things you wish you could change or you wish you’d never done.

      Day Six: Five people who mean a lot to you.

      Day Seven: Four turn offs.

      Day Eight: Three turn ons.

      Day Nine: Two words that describe your life right now.

      Day Ten: One confession.

      Here I go!

      September 17, 2010

      Groupon Coupon to Maribelle's Tavern

      Yay for great deals! Right now, Groupon is offering a deal for $30 worth of food for only $15 at Maribelle's Tavern on Riverside Dr. And since this restaurant has been on my list of restaurants that I want to try, I hopped on this deal and bought one. From what I have read, it is a small but fancy tavern on the east side overlooking the Ohio River. Their menu looks pretty fancy, and I have read rave reviews about their burgers/sandwiches and fish. I have a few things in mind that I want to try  :)  Without this coupon, who knows how long it would have taken me to go to Maribelle's?! Thanks Groupon, for contributing to my blogging adventure. Go here if you want to get in on this great deal and for details.  Stay tuned for my upcoming review of this restaurant!

      Roasted Potatoes with Sour Cream Herb Sauce

      Like the name implies, I love me some potatoes. It's hard for me to find a potato recipe that I don't want to try. So when I came across a recipe called "Fingerling Potatoes with Sour Cream Herb Sauce" while blog hopping, I knew I was going to try it. The Mr. couldn't find any fingerling potatoes at the grocery store, so we settled on yukon gold potatoes.

      First, I preheated the oven to 350* and lined a pan with aluminum foil. Then I cut two Yukon Gold Potatoes into small 1" squares and placed them on the pan. We only were making enough for just the two of us so we didn't need much. I added 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried chopped basil, salt and pepper to the pan and mixed with the potatoes.

      Bake for about 30 minutes, covering the pan with another sheet of aluminum foil. Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes. Add 1 minced garlic clove to the potatoes and cook for about 6 minutes (I can't remember the exact time I cooked them, but until they were to the consistency that we wanted).

      For the sauce, I mixed 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives, zest of 1/2 a lemon, juice of half a lemon, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl. Before serving, I mixed the potatoes with the sauce.

      Roasted Potatoes with Sour Cream Herb Sauce adapted from George Gaston's Fingerling Potatoes with Sour Cream Herb Sauce recipe

      • 2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 1" squares
      • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
      • 1/2 teaspoon dried chopped basil
      • salt and pepper to taste
      • 1 garlic cloved, minced

      Preheat oven to 350* and line a pan with aluminum foil. Place diced potatoes on the pan.

      Add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried chopped basil, salt and pepper to the pan and mix with the potatoes.

      Bake for 30 minutes, covering the pan with another sheet of aluminum foil. Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes. Add 1 minced garlic clove to the potatoes and cook for about 6 minutes.

      Sour Cream Herb Sauce
      • 1/2 cup sour cream
      • 1/4 cup milk
      • 2 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
      • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
      • Juice of half a lemon
      • 2 teaspoons salt
      • Pepper to taste
      Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Right before serving, mix the potatoes with the sauce. Serves 2.

      I am linking these delicious potatoes to Foodie Friday.

      September 16, 2010

      Chicken Lasagna

      As soon as I saw this recipe at Krista's Kitchen, I knew I had to make it. I love lasagna, and PJ had never tried or even heard of a chicken lasagna. He has started a "menu" of all of the delicious new recipes I am making that he would love for me to make again and again. And guess what? This chicken lasagna definitely made it on the menu. We will definitely be making this again. Another successful recipe, yay!

      So first I diced 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts into small cubes. Then I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Next I melted 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 cloves minced garlic in a skillet, and then added the chicken to the garlic butter mixture once melted and cooked until done. Once the chicken was finished cooking, I removed it from the skillet.

      Next, I added 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 4 oz. of cream cheese, 1 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup of milk to the same skillet that I cooked the chicken in and stirred, then adding the chicken and stirring that in as well. I turned the heat down and let the sauce simmer until thickened.

      On the bottom of a casserole dish, I spread some of the sauce mixture so that the noodles wouldn't stick. Next I added a layer of cooked lasagna noodles (cook 1/2 box of lasagna noodles as directed on package) followed by a layer of sauce, and then a layer of cheese. Repeat the layering process until the sauce is used up and the casserole dish is filled to your likings.

      Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes and voila, your masterpiece is ready for eatin'! I love this variation of lasagna without the traditional spaghetti sauce. I think you will too!

      Chicken Lasagna adapted from Krista's Kitchen who got it from Better Than Burgers
      • 2 cloves minced garlic
      • 1 tablespoon butter
      • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
      • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
      • 4 oz. cream cheese
      • 1 cup sour cream
      • 1/2 cup milk
      • 1/2 box of lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
      • 4 cups grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese

      Melt butter and garlic in a large skillet. Then add cubed chicken to the skillet and cook until no longer pink. Remove from skillet.

      In the same skillet, add cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, sour cream, and milk and stir together.  Add chicken to the sauce mixture and stir well. Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer until thick.

      Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish, then the cooked noodles, then sauce, and lastly the cheese. Repeat layering process until sauce is used up and dish is full.

      Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes.