I have big plans for this year. I want to garden, I want to turn our house into a home, and I want to expand my culinary horizons. Therefore, I have 100 dishes I would like to master. I say master because there are some on here that I have done before but there is room for improvement.

1. Beer Bread
2. Home Made Pasta Sauce
3. Home Made Salsa
4. Stuffed Pasta Shells
5. Crab Rangoon
6. Gyros
7. Live Lobster
8. Rack of Lamb
9. Home Made Stuffing
10. Pita Bread
11. Italian Bread
12. Home Made Stromboli
13. Wine
14. Beer
15. Sangria
16. Beer Battered Zucchini
17. Home Made Perogies
18. Home Made Ravioli
19. Guacamole
20. Fried Green Tomatoes
21. Chili
22. Cheese Fondue
23. Cornish Hen
24. Pasta Salad
25. Potato Salad
26. Beer Battered Fish
27. Mexican Tortilla Soup
28. Chicken Salad
29. Banana Bread
30. Chicken Enchiladas
31. Egg Salad
32. Gumbo
33. Clam Chowder
34. Buffalo Chicken Pizza
35. Fried Calamari
36. Tuna Noodle Casserole
37. Tater Tot Casserole
38. Onion rings
39. Vegetable Beef Soup
40. Potato Skins
41. Chicken Pot Pie
42. Bread Salad
43. Spinach Pie
44. Red Wine Vinaigrette
45. Home Made Mac and Cheese
46. Banana Cream Pie
47. Chicken Noodle Soup
48. Irish Stew
49. Pad Thai
50. General Tso Chicken
51. Apple Pie
52. Cheesecake
53. Eggs Benedict
54. Coffee Cake
55. Potato Pancakes
56. Chicken Stock
57. Sweet and Sour Chicken
58. Artos Greek Celebration Bread
59. Greek Pizza
60. Sorbet
61. Lentil Soup
62. Pepper Jelly
63. Pot Roast
64. Jello Pretzel Salad
65. Stuffed Grape Leaves
66. Hummus
67. Bagels
68. Peanut Brittle
69. Coconut Fried Shrimp
70. Lettuce Wraps
71. Jam
72. Bacon Vodka
73. Vanilla Extract
74. Irish coffee
75. Ceder Grilled Salmon
76. Quesadillas
77. Au Gratin Potatoes
78. Corn Casserole
79. Zucchini Cake
80. Stuffed Tomatoes
81. Sesame Noodles
82. French Onion Soup
83. Pico de Gallo
84. Cheddar Biscuits
85. Crash hot potatoes
86. The Perfect Burger
87. Baked Stuffed Clams
88. Pesto
89. Chicken Alfredo
90. Penne alla Vodka
91. Sesame Tofu Stir Fry
92. Crab Cakes
93. Fudge
94. Shrimp Scampi
95. Butternut Squash Risotto
96. Roast Duck
97. Perfect Ribs
98. Bruschetta
99. Chicken Cordon Bleu
100. Baked Beans

Whew! Like I said, there’s a few on here that I actually have made in the past, but I either want to improve on what I cooked before or I failed miserably the first time around (I’m looking at you, cheese fondue). Something else I’m looking forward to…using all my fresh garden veggies!

I think we are in for a delicious year!

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So, um, is it bad that I don’t really remember anything from the past year? I’m pretty sure I got married, but that’s kind of a blur. Pretty sure I went to Mexico and didn’t get Swine Flu, but I could be wrong. Honestly, it feels like last year was ages and ages ago, but I feel like 2009 was the life of someone else.

I’m working another crazy week. I am sitting at 51 total hours for the upcoming week so far, but it’s only Monday and I’m sure I can do better, haha. Justin and I are going to look at another house on Wednesday, so it keeps me motivated to keep me working extra. Since moving out of my parents house I never really felt like anywhere else I lived was home. I could say home is where Justin is, and that is true, but our apartment, while pretty damn nice, is lacking something that would make it a home.

It’s really hard to put my finger on it, but I would say that a home needs to reflect the people that live inside of it. We personalized our place as much as we could, but it will be nice to own our own place.

I did not finish Nano this year, I came in about 8k words shy of the target. All in all I’m still okay with that, I never thought I would have ever collected 41k words in the first place. I really plan on continuing with the story and maybe even sending it out later next year.

Bree and I are thinking about co-blogging a food website. Recipes, reviews, and other goodies….now we just need to come up with a name, haha.

I officially worked 53.5 hours this week. I’ve technically been in the building 55 hours, since there where a few half-hour lunches. I’m a little exhausted, a little delirious, but a whole lot of proud. It’s no secret that I would rather get a root canal than come to work 99.9% of the time, but I feel like I helped out when we’re busy, ergo helping the co-workers that I like, and am also that much closer to a house, because, well, that’s a whole lot of time and a half.

Today I’m working 1-10, so I joked with my husband that I was excited for a “short” day. I’ve been working 11am to 12am most of the week. I keep myself occupied looking for houses and writing for Nano, so I still have a firm grip on my sanity.

Speaking of Nano, I blew past the halfway point of 25k words! I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of that sort of accomplishment, I never thought I would actually push myself to hit that point, but I have some amazing support along the writing process, and I’m even beginning to talk about my characters and discuss their background story as though they’re real people….which is either a good thing or a bad thing, I haven’t quite decided yet. 🙂 I do know though that I will finish Nano and I will win. Right now I’m basically pounding out the frame of the story, the minor and major plot pieces, and then I’ll go back in December and flesh it out. One major surprise with this entire process is that the story just flows as I write. I’ve long since tossed my original outline in the fire and haven’t looked back. My characters are suddenly in charge of the story, and I’m simply giving them a voice. I’m immensely proud of how far I come, and once the story is written I want to have the editing done by the time I’m 23 (which lands on the end of January).

As promised, I would also like to share with you my new favorite food, the panini.

Panini!I call this my “grown up” BLT, minus the L, haha. I have found that instead of using butter on the outside of the bread to keep it from sticking to the hot plates, using pam is a fat-free and crispier alternative! I used butter flavored Pam and it was basically amazing. This sandwich consists of lite mayo, bacon, tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and onion. I’ve also made steak sandwiches with french fries, ham and cheese, and tuna, all turned out amazing. The thing about the panini maker is that it seriously makes the sandwich look and taste like you bought it somewhere like Panera Bread, even hubby agrees. I’ve had a panini every single day this week and am not sick of them because every one can be different, but the easy prep and quick time is always the same. Love, Love, Love!

My panini maker is my new favorite wedding gift. My favorite changes from day to day, but the panini maker is winning for the third day in a row.

What an amazing little device! I’ve been experimenting with different sandwiches every day now, and am absolutely in love! I have been working 13 hour days at work, and I just throw together a couple sandwiches in the panini maker to eat throughout the long (very long) day. Warm or cold they’re still pretty amazing!

I made some delicious wedding soup in our crock pot on Monday as well. I think I did over do it with the veggies, as it smelled like wedding soup, but definitely tasted more like veggie or chicken noodle. Still good though! It is most definitely soup season, which while I hate the cold, nothing is better than being warm and cozy on a cold day. Eat a little soup, drink some hot chocolate or hot cider (rum optional!) and you have a happy girl right here 🙂

I’m adding a new little section to my side links on the right. I’ve stumbled across so many fantastic cooking blogs that I need to have them in one place, and certainly need to share. My latest discovery? A Year of Slow Cooking. Slow cooker recipes! And a lot, I might add. I like cooking blogs because these are real people, usually mothers or other busy people who don’t have the time (like me) to put together a gourmet meal. I like cooking, but I simply don’t have the time to hang out the kitchen for a couple hours every night, so ta da! Easy recipes for all!

About 4.5 hours left of my 12-hour day and I’m still awake. I consider that a win today 😉

The house hunt continues. Wednesday our Realtor took us to a house that Justin and I both loved, which has not happened yet on our adventure. Unfortunately it was also about $15,000 over our price range and exactly $34,000 over our comfort zone. It just went on the market a couple weeks ago, so we’ll keep it in the back of our minds and continue to look. If it is still on the market in a couple months then we’ll see if the price drops or possibly low-ball the sellers. It’s an estate so it could really go either way. In any case, it really set a standard, and I hope we can find something else just as great!

Finding that house has also really lit a fire under my ass. I have been working like crazy and will continue to do so in the coming months. We’re at that point where we’re so close we can taste it, but we just have to find something that meets all our criteria. Patience has never been a strong characteristic of mine, but this is something so monumental that I just don’t want to settle for anything short of what we both love.

I guess that will be it for houses until I have some more concrete news. I have other things to amuse me this month (like my 50 hour work week next week, ha) Nano is coming along splendidly, I’m still about 10k words over where I need to be at this point. And notice the cute widget I added to the right there? It’ll keep you updated. ha.

I am currently three hours into my 10 hour work day. Like I mentioned before, Next week I volunteered (ick, I know) to basically work 50 hours. 10 hours of glorious time and a half over time though, and we just got our yearly raises, so I really can’t complain too much…until later next week anyway. Justin also picked up a little over time, in the form of 8am to 12am on Friday. He can pound it all out at once though, I on the other hand would probably hurt someone.

So as I’m rearranging my schedule and biting my nails at the thought of spending so much time at a place I am not incredibly found of, I got to thinking what might make the work onslaught a little easier. First thing that came to mind? Chocolate chip cookies. Random, yes, but also an excellent idea. Another idea was to break out the Panini maker that we got as a wedding gift that I’ve been itching to try out and stray away from the boring ham and cheese sandwiches Justin eats every single day (I usually go hungry because I’m lazy) and try some fancy sandwiches to keep us entertained throughout the impending week. As of right now I’ve added about 10 Panini sandwiches to my Recipe archive and still going strong. One website I found in my searches is absolutely amazing, Panini Happy. I highly recommend that site, and will definitely be using some of her amazing recipes this week!

I hope that some creative adventures in the kitchen will distract me enough from the workload for next week, and I truly hope hubby isn’t going to get sick of my creative adventures. Truth be told, he’s not quite as into my….creativity sometimes. I know once or twice (or, you know, a dozen) times I’ve made something for the two of us and he grins and bears it. He truly is a very supportive man, so I hope to impress him as well as fulfill my domestic duty to keep him full and content with some yummy sandwiches!

As long as life doesn’t get the best of me, I’ll try to take some pictures to share throughout next week, we shall see!

Little by little I am getting my life under my control. That’s really what all this “getting fit” stuff is about: control. I want to walk into my married life a full-fledged adult who has left childhood insecurities and habits behind me along with my maiden name. it’s hard. The problem with taking control is that you try to take control of everything at once, including the things you’ve left to their own devices that they are so way out in left field you’re going to have to work to bring them back. Well, I’m taking the baby steps and finding that gradual gratification feels better than instant gratification. I have a savings account now, and not that it’s a substantial amount, but it’s more than what I would have before I turned over my new little leaf. I’ve also dropped 8 lbs in the last week and a half, and although I fell off the bandwagon pretty bad this past weekend, I’m ready and raring to go this week.
School will be coming to an end here very, very soon. The end of April marks the last of my semesters as a full time college student. Starting this fall and until I graduate next spring I’ll only be taking five more classes before I can call myself a professional. That’s pretty awesome. I’m also thinking after the wedding I’m going to start looking for an entry level position type job and leave my current job. My current job is really just making me…depressed. I can’t really take it much more, which sounds so dramatic, but it’s true. Customer service would be my own personal Hell if that’s where I’m heading. I really think I would take the fire and brimstone over people complaining for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Anyway, that’s enough of that. I have a new recipe to share, Skillet Lasagna. I got the idea for this recipe on Kraftfoods.com. Here’s my play-by-play.
Ingredients: 1 lb ground beef, 1 green pepper, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup Italian dressing, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 can (about 16 oz) spaghetti sauce, Italian seasoning to taste, and about 12 ready-to-bake lasagna noodles broken up in 4ths.

Directions: Brown the meat in the biggest skillet you have (really, believe me on this) and when the meat is fully cooked, add the chopped garlic and peppers. Saute until the garlic smells fabulous 😉 The next step is to add the water, dressing, and pasta sauce and bring to a boil. This part is messy, if you have a splatter screen I would highly suggest using it now. Don’t panic that it looks more like chunky tomato soup than anything resembling lasagna, this is where the over-ready noodles come in. I should mention than I made this using normal noodles, and it came out just fine, although if I do that again I’ll probably boil the noodles for a little bit first, just to soften them up and give them a head start, but like I said, not too detrimental to the whole recipe. Here’s a better picture of what you should be looking at by now. A big soupy mess! I promise it gets better though. I broke up the big noodles into about 4 pieces, and as you can see, there’s a reason I said use your biggest pan! Once you add the noodles lower the heat on the sauce mixture to about med-low. On my stove it was still bubbling, so I figured any more than that and I’d have a huge mess to clean up. Leave this to simmer, stirring every couple minutes. you’ll see it start to thicken up after about 20 minutes or so. be careful about the noodles sticking to the bottom of the skillet too, they’re tricky little buggers. After 20-30 minutes, or after the soupy-ness is gone, you should have a pan looking like a dish of lasagna blew up in it. Yay! Once all the soup is gone you can turn off the heat and serve right away. This also freezes very well, like all pasta. Anything lasagna shaped doesn’t really last long around Justin though. This is how I served it, nothing fancy. I actually usually serve any type of pasta with home made garlic bread (sooooo good, sooooo fatty) but I forgot to buy the stuff for it…or my subconscious kept me from buying it and making the weekend a huge pitfall for this whole diet thing. One other thing missing from the picture there was the delicious Mike’s Hard Lemonade (light, haha), which was my drink of choice last night.
So there you have it! I make a mean lasagna, but it literally takes about 2-3 hours because I go all out. And really, cooking all Sunday isn’t in the schedule for awhile, unfortunately. I’ve really been getting into fish lately, and I love salmon, so that might be the next thing I show here. I have some time tomorrow too, so I might be making another big batch of stroganoff, yum!
Anyway, I’m happy researching different places to go on our mini-moon in September to practice for our all-out honeymoon in January. Aren’t we lucky? We get to celebrate getting married twice 😉

I did Day 3 Level 1 of the shred today. It’s getting a little easier. I’m really hoping I can go through it without pausing by day 10. I want to keep up the working out daily, which is a little rough when I’m coming home after midnight, but I do sleep well after that! haha.

Spring really just feels like a time of change. I need a little change for the better again. I’m vain, I won’t deny that. I want to look hot on my wedding day! I want me future children to think their mom was pretty when she was young, and I know I sound silly, but that’s just it.

I’ve also been very good about what I eat! I’ve been having 4 – 5 smaller meals every day rather than 3 big meals and lots of snacks in between. I also haven’t eaten anything I didn’t personally make, so I know exactly what I’m eating and every evil calorie is accounted for. It hasn’t even really been that bad. I’ve said before I’ve tried all the “diets”, but really this whole portion control thing is working out better for me than anything else has. I even stumbled across a new recipe that I am completely and utterly in love with, and am eating for dinner right now!
I call it Peanut Ginger Stir Fry and it is amazing. I really had every intention of making a huge thing of stir fry for my dinners for at work, but at some point during the cooking process I remembered seeing a recipe for peanut butter glazed chicken and randomly decided to add peanut butter to the stir fry, soooo here it is!

  • Chicken or steak (I actually used chicken the first time and steak the second, I think it’s better with chicken IMO)
  • 1 package of stir fry veggies. (Basically for convenience. Feel free to chop your own.)
  • 1 onion. (I love onions, but you know that’s never included in the frozen veggies.)
  • Garlic. (At your discretion! I use nearly a bulb because I loooovvveee garlic!)
  • Asian sesame dressing
  • peanut butter
  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • rice vinigar
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon, in 1 cup water.
  • Ground ginger
  • Linguine
  • Marinade the meat in a mixture of the Worcestershire sauce, rice vinegar, and Asian sesame dressing for an hour or so, or while you’re waiting for your linguine to cook, which I hope you don’t need instructions on boiling noodles 😉 Then in a big skillet, preferably the biggest you have, heat up about a cup of the Asian sesame dressing. Drain the dressing the meat was marinading in and add the meat, onions, and garlic and stir fry until the onion gets cooked through. Add the rest of your thawed veggies and cook those through. Then add the pseudo chicken stock and make sure your only using about medium high heat as you add the peanut butter. Now this is where it gets kid of tricky. Peanut butter does not like to cooperate! It’s hard to work with and you need to melt it down with the heat from the other ingredients. Problem is if it’s too hot the peanut butter sticks to the skillet and you have an awful mess and burnt crap, if it’s not hot enough the peanut butter stays in a big clump. Just be careful here. If you think it’s a little too thick feel free to add some more water and then add the noodles. Throw a few splashes of soy sauce and then a VERY LITTLE bit of ground ginger. Ginger can be very over powering, so unless you were really going more for the ginger flavor over the peanut butter, be careful.

    And that’s it! It’s about 250 calories for one cup, if I did my math right (which you really shouldn’t trust my math, but that’s what I’m tracking calorie-wise) So it’s seriously my new favorite dinner. The peanut butter is a great food for keeping you feeling full, and it’s just good. I really can’t say enough about it, but again, I like really weird food combinations.

    Anyway, there’s something else I’d like to share, my wedding bouquet!
    This is what I’ll be holding when I walk down the isle! I’m actually really excited about this, because it’s something that I actually pictured and made a reality. I was a little concerned I wasn’t going to be able to pull off the kind of bouquet I wanted, but I did! I think the second picture does the flowers a little more justice. I also cannot believe how hard it is to find red calla lilies! Seriously, I think I checked three different Pat Catan’s and Michael’s before I finally found some available online. They were really expensive, so I went back to Pat Catan’s one more time and found exactly as many as I needed. I couldn’t believe my luck! So now basically it’s down to stocking up on all the stuff we’re going to need for center pieces and the rest of the bridesmaid flowers. I decided to make theirs just white versions of mine with the white calla’s and maybe carnations instead of the roses. I’ll cross that bridge another day!
    I love how amazing the flowers themselves look. They look completely real and yet I could probably beat someone to death with this thing and it’s not going to fall apart. I’m glad i decided to go this DIY route for the flowers. I would probably be freaking out if I had entrusted someone else, even a professional florist, to do them. This way too, I got to experiment on my own to decide what I liked and did not like, and I couldn’t be happier 🙂
    Tomorrow is thankfully Friday! Saturday Justin and I are heading to Pittsburgh to have a double date with Bree and Vince at the water front and grab dinner. I’m just ready for the weekend, it’s time for fun!