Monday, March 3, 2014

The Oscars & Copious Amounts of Cooking

Hello, beautiful people!  I hope you all enjoyed the Oscars as much as I did Sunday evening.  Of all the awards shows, the Oscars is always my absolute favorite.  Ellen Degeneres is also one of my favorites, so adding her hilarity to the mix just made the night all the better.

I've never thrown an Oscars party, though the idea has always been tempting.  What's more exciting than having a themed party?  Wearing floor-length gowns and sipping champagne out of fluted glasses for no real reason - what fun!  Maybe I'll get around to that one day.

This past Sunday I decided to cook my little heart out while watching the televised program.  Josh was studying at the library all night and I had just finished buying nearly $700.00 of groceries, so what else was I going to do at home alone all evening?

I'll make a more detailed, intimate post about this in the near future, but I've been battling the scales here recently to get back to a healthy 110 pounds.  Thankfully my tax return was pretty generous and allowed me purchase the overly-priced, organic, healthy items that my body craves and deserves.  I bought some items with which I am completely unfamiliar and needed to experiment.  Sunday night offered the perfect opportunity to do just that.

I started with a super easy, extremely delicious (and healthy!) rosemary lemon chicken.  It was pretty fantastic and beautiful to boot.


While I was waiting on the chicken to cook, I began experimenting with quinoa.  All I have ever heard about quinoa is how ridiculously good it is for you.  It was a little pricey, even for Wal-Mart, but it was extremely easy to cook.  If you are not familiar with this grain, it's a lot like rice but with considerably less calories/fat and more health benefits.  It's also a really ancient grain that homo sapiens have been harvesting for eons.

In my first quinoa dish I combined quinoa, tomato paste, pizza sauce, red pepper flakes, grape tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil paste, dried basil, and a mixture of cheeses to make this fantastic caprese quinoa bake.  If you want the exact recipe, just ask!  I'd be happy to send it to you or post it here because it was phenomenal.  I am now obsessed with quinoa.  I love this dish and have since polished off every last bit of it.  It would be a lot better with no salt or black pepper as well as with the addition of fresh basil.

(Side note: I will definitely be growing my own basil this spring/summer because Wal-Mart is always out and I put it in everything!)


The majority of my evening was spent ricing cauliflower.  Cauliflower can be used as a substitute for a number of ingredients, including but not limited to rice, flour, and potatoes.  I decided to go ahead and rice the cauliflower last night in order to prepare it for the recipes for which it would be used throughout the week.  I purchased one head of cauliflower and pulled apart the florets before I chopped them into finer pieces.  I do not own a large food processor, but my magic bullet worked like a dream, albeit a time-consuming one.  I then processed the larger pieces in small, rice-like pieces.


I haven't done anything with the rice as of this moment, but later this week I plan on using it to make pizza crusts as well as a cheesy mashed potato substitute.  I'll let y'all know how those experiments go as well as what I use in the cooking process for each item.

Have a lovely Monday night and, as always, thanks for reading!

   Jess

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cynical & Bitchy

If I were to write an autobiography today, Cynical & Bitchy would certainly be the title.

I'm not really sure what launched this current attitude, but reading Ignite Me Friday night really didn't help matters.  In fact, I'm having trouble separating my current bout of cynicism from my honest-to-goodness feelings about the book.



I read Tahereh Mafi's Unravel Me on Thursday night and was tremendously disappointed.  I mean, I don't want to bash a book, even in my current mood; however, it was a huge step down from Shatter Me.  The novel seemed to exist solely to analyze Juliette and prepare you for the next and final book in the trilogy, sort of a stepping-stone novel if you will.  It just didn't do anything for me.


Then this beautiful book arrived in the mail early Friday morning (thanks, Amazon Prime!).  As disappointed as I was in Unravel Me, I had to jump right in.  And.  I.  Did.  I can say this with certainty: Ignite Me was leagues above the first two novels.  Leagues.  Here is something else I can say with clarity: I adore Tahereh Mafi's writing.  That being said, it still wasn't that great, even being the best of the three.  I never got the world-building to which I was looking forward, the relationships were contrived, and essentially very little happened.  Juliette was certainly right when she was telling both Warner and Adam that it was just about her because, well, that's all you get: Juliette.  Sure, she changes, grows, matures, comes into her own.  But she's the only one.  Even Warner's character is flat.  He doesn't change a lick, we just learn more about him, and assume he's telling the truth in the end.

But this is me in cynical and bitchy mode.  Will I always feel so strongly about this book?  Is there a chance that a re-read months from now would make me like it more?  I honestly don't think so, but maybe.  I've been very anti-love story for awhile now, and that's all we got from the Shatter Me series.  Hormone-fueled teenagers.  I'm just not feeling it.

Sometimes we just don't feel "it" and aren't in the mood for certain things.  For some, it's a genre.  We get in these huge reading slumps because we can't find anything to fit our mood.  That's where this post comes full circle.  You have to find what fits, or sometimes fights, your mood to press on with reading.

I'll do a review of Unravel Me and Ignite Me both, but I'll wait a few days.  Maybe I'll be feeling the love stuff then.  Maybe not.  I can't help the cynicism and bitchiness.  It's just present for now.  BUT I'm also not going to let it project.  Instead, I'm going to embrace this weird moment and feed the fire with some literary characters we love to hate.  That's right, folks.


Harry freaking Potter.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling is the fifth book in the series and my absolute favorite.  There are so many things about this book that just make me both so tremendously happy and absolutely fire-spitting pissed.  Dolores.  Jane.  Umbridge.  I don't think that I have ever hated a character more than that woman.  I'm going to skip right over Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (I just can't deal with Cedric right now) and jump into one of my favorites.  It will be a feel-good experience while allowing me to focus my bitchiness on Umbridge - perfect!  Sometimes you just need to pick up an old favorite.   Re-reads can be really therapeutic for a number of reasons.

I also picked this beauty up at Wal-Mart tonight.


 This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl - I had to buy it.  Once I visit my old friends at Hogwarts, this read will be extremely sobering.  I can already imagine the tears flowing as I read bits and pieces of Esther's journals while she was fighting cancer, a fight I'm sad to say the young beauty lost.  This will be both sad and extremely humbling, not to mention a surefire tool to squelch my ridiculous moodiness.  Sometimes we need to fight our moods and remind ourselves that we're being total douchebag morons.  That's totally okay; I promise. 

Life is short, and, at the end of the day, the things that seem momentarily consuming are transparent and paltry.

Also, eat lots of chocolate. Because, chocolate. It improves the quality of life.

Have a good Sabbath, doodlebugs.

   Jess