Monday, May 30, 2011

Recipe: Drunken Chocolate Covered Cherries

Life is just a bowl of [drunken chocolate covered] cherries! 

Chocolate Covered Drunken Cherries


  • Fresh cherries
  • Brandy
  • Chocolate chips

  1. Rinse cherries.  Do not remove stems.
  2. Carefully slice a few shallow slits into each cherry.
  3. Put cherries into a bowl and cover with brandy.  Let soak at least four hours, preferably overnight.
  4. Drain liquid from cherries and dry off the cherries with paper towels.  Set aside.
  5. Put chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 15 second intervals at 50% power, stirring in between, until melted.  
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  7. Carefully dip each cherry, by the stem, into the chocolate.  Let the excess chocolate drip off and then place on baking sheet.  Repeat with all the cherries, making sure they don't touch.
  8. Refrigerate the cherries until the chocolate is hardened.  Remove the cherries from the baking sheet to a bowl or plate. 

Cherries getting drunk.

The amount of cherries, chocolate and brandy will depend on how many you want to make.  We made 45 cherries with about half a small bottle of E&J Brandy and just under one 11.5 ounce bag of 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips.

We saved the soaking brandy in an empty bottle.  We're not quite sure what we'll do with it but we thought it might come in handy for a future cocktail.

When serving, be sure to have a small empty bowl nearby for stems and seeds.  It is also nice to give people a heads up that there are still seeds in the cherries.   

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Use What You Have

"No matter what age or what your particular ability happens to be, if you just get in there and use what you have your life will be richer, more exciting, more meaningful..." 

-- Malvina Reynolds

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Recipe: Dark and Stormy Cocktail

Today is my honey's birthday and our featured cocktail is the Moscow Mule.  That got me thinking about other cocktails with ginger beer.  Enter: Dark and Stormy.  Both Dark and Stormy and Moscow Mule are three ingredient cocktails that are simple to make and have great flavor.  Cheers!

Dark and Stormy

  • Dark rum -- 2 ounces per drink
  • Ginger beer -- 4-5 ounces per drink
  • Limes -- half a lime per drink


  1. Fill a lowball glass with ice. 
  2. Squeeze half a lime over the ice.
  3. Add 2 ounces dark rum. 
  4. Top with ginger beer and lightly stir.


A Moscow Mule is the same, just with vodka instead of rum.

We bought ginger beer at our local BevMo.  Please note that ginger ale is not the same as ginger beer.  Ginger beer is spicier and, in my opinion, much yummier. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

House Hunting Terms Defined

This is NOT the house we are currently in escrow to buy.
In celebration of my honey and I being in escrow *fingers crossed*, I wanted to share a list of housing terms and the definitions I have learned through the house hunting process.  Although specific terms may vary, I have learned that all caps and exclamation points are generally not a good thing.

PRICED TO SELL!!!:  It is possible that there are no baseboards, flooring, pipes, toilets, walls, etc.

Unique floor plan: The bathroom window opens into a definitely-not-up-to-code, small sun room with not one, not two, but THREE ceiling fans.

Needs TLC: It may not be ready for you to live in but you can immediately start to grow marijuana in the garage on the handy dandy built-in shelves with overhead fluorescent lights.

Cooling = Other: The windows open.

Low maintenance yard: There is one dirt patch.

With a little work, it will shine again!!!: See "PRICED TO SELL!!!"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Parmesan

Brussels sprouts are delicious.  If you disagree with this statement, please try this recipe and then report back.  My friend, also named Emily, shared this recipe with me after I ate at least three servings at a dinner party.  Simple and tasty.

Double batch of brussel sprouts with pecans and parmesan.

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt and pepper
  • a couple handfuls pecorino or parmesan, grated

  1. Shred brussels sprouts in a food processor. 
  2. Put pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven at 325º until toasted.  Set aside to cool.  Once cool, break into smaller pieces. 
  3. Put half a stick of butter in a pan over medium high heat and cook until it has turned golder brown.  
  4. Toss sprouts and pecans in the butter, salt and pepper to taste, and stir over medium heat until sprouts are cooked, but still super green. (only a few minutes)
  5. Transfer the brussels sprouts and pecans into a serving dish and top with pecorino or parmesan.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Knock, knock, knockin' on 31's door...

30th birthday card from my boss.

In one month, on June 20, I will be turning 31.

Just over a year ago I posted this article, the first on my Project 365 blog.  I have found that being more mindful of taking a photo a day (often more) has helped me to remain present.  I am still very much a planner (obviously) and usually thinking ahead but the project has definitely challenged me to focus more on now.  Right now. 

A few people have asked me what I plan to do when I finish my Project 365. 

I am not quite sure yet.

Part of me wants to keep doing it. 

Part of me wants to let go. 

Part of me what to start a whole new project or add on a new component to a Project 365. 

One idea I have for a potential "new year" project is to complete 12 different monthly challenges.  Off the top of my head, the challenges might be things such as:

  • Go vegetarian
  • Journal daily
  • No TV/Read more
  • Cook all dinners at home
  • Play guitar/piano daily

I need more ideas.  I would love to hear if you have done something like this and what worked and what was challenging.  If you have any ideas or feedback, please please please share away!

Now I will return to enjoying my last month of being 30.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Photos: Monday in Monterey

teeny tiny seahorse



children's wishes.
my favorite: "rescue the animals with our hands and love" (age 3 1/2)

playful penguins

speedy octopus

sand dollars

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blog on Blog: Crock-Pot 365

First of all, I really like my red slow cooker:


Second, thanks to google, I found the fabulous blog, Crock-Pot 365.  It is a blog by a woman named Stephanie who made a resolution to use a slow cooker every single day in 2008.  It is like my Project 365 but tastier! After I got over feeling completely overwhelmed by her extensive array of slow cooker recipes, I turned to my honey to ask him if he had any requests for dinner the next night.  He immediately said "curry" and I typed that in the blog search box.  I picked a tasty sounding Indian curry from the search results list and made my shopping list.  The dish was simple to make, ready in eight hours (on low) and delicious -- definitely a keeper.  Here is a link to the recipe: Crock-Pot Indian Curry.

Slow Cooker Indian Curry Ingredients

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recipe: Jackie's Pasta Salad

My good friend Jackie would make up a big batch of this pasta salad when we lived together in college and then we would feed off of it for a week.  I like it because you can pick and choose your favorite veggies and throw it together quickly.  It is also a great make ahead recipe for potlucks or picnics because it is a dish that gets better the longer you let the flavors mingle.

Jackie's Pasta Salad & a peek of Sundried Tomato Buschetta

Jackie's Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb of farfalle (bowtie) pasta, or another type of your choice
  • 1 bottle balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 1 large can olives, sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

  1. Cook pasta to al dente, based on package instructions.  Drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.  Let cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, veggies and dressing.  
  3. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or, even better, overnight.

Balsamic Vinaigrette: Jackie always used Newman's Own (either regular or light) and it is definitely my favorite.  A close second is the nonfat balsamic vinaigrette from Trader Joe's.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe: Jalapeño Cornbread

Yes, I know how to make homemade, southern cornbread.  I will post that recipe another day.  I like making this because it is easy and you can whip it up in a...jiffy!  Get it?  If not, please see the second photo below.

Jalapeño cornbread on top of turkey and tomatillo chile with sour cream and avocado.

Jalapeño Cornbread

Serves: 8-10

  • Two 8.5-ounce boxes of corn muffin mix
  • One 4-ounce can diced jalapeños
  • Two eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 400º F.  Grease a 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray. 
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cornbread mix, eggs and milk until smooth.  Do not over mix.  
  • Fold in the diced jalapeños. 
  • Pour the batter into the baking dish.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through and starting to brown.  
  • Slice and serve!
This cornbread is especially good with homemade chile.  Here is the chile recipe I made last night -- the one featured in the top photo: Turkey Chile Verde.  Healthy and delicious.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recipe: Turkey Meatloaf in Bell Pepper Rings

Throw in a salad and some garlic bread and you've got yourself a meal!  This recipe is adapted from Sunny Anderson's (Cooking for Real). 

Turkey Meatloaf in Bell Pepper Rings.

Turkey Meatloaf in Pepper Rings

Serves: 4 - 6

  • 3 bell peppers, any color, cores and seeds removed
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 28-ounce can Italian style diced tomatoes (with basil)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 egg
  • A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • A few dashes Tabasco
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Bell pepper rings.


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.  Coat a large glass baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Slice bell peppers into 1-inch rings and place in the baking dish.  You should get three to four rings per pepper.
  3. In a large bowl mix together ground turkey, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of the tomatoes, garlic, onion, egg, chopped sage, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Fill each pepper ring with the meat mixture.  Overfill slightly as the mixture will "shrink" as it cooks.  
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sauté meatloaf rings in batches until both sides are golden brown, a few minutes per side.  Return to the baking dish.
  6. Pour the remaining tomatoes over the meatloaf rings and bake in oven until cooked through, 20 - 25 minutes.  
For a flavor bonus, top the meatloaf rings with fried sage when ready to serve. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Want: Hugging Salt and Pepper Shakers

This salt and pepper shaker set led me to ponder what other kitchen pairs could also be stored in hugging containers.  Hugging peanut butter and jelly jars?  Hugging olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles?  Hugging cream and sugar bowls?  The adorable possibilities are endless!

Hug Salt & Pepper Shakers

Friday, May 6, 2011

Recipe: Spicy Salad

At least two people have proposed marriage to me after eating this salad.  Neither person is my current husband.

Spicy Salad
Fresh basil for homemade pesto.

Serves: 8


  • 3 hearts of romaine, chopped
  • 1 pound salami, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 pound provolone, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cup sliced pepperoncinis
  • 1 cup green olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto (pesto recipe)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • To make the dressing, whisk together the pesto and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.  Slowly add in olive oil a tbsp at a time until it reaches your preferred consistency.  Cover and set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, combine romaine, salami, provolone, pepperoncinis, and green olives.  Drizzle salad with dressing and lightly toss.  


This also makes a delicious pasta salad.  Omit the romaine.  Prepare dressing as directed above.  Cook 1-pound of the pasta of your choice until al dente.  Farfalle (bowtie) or penne work well.  Drain and cool completely.  In a large bowl combine pasta with salami, provolone, pepperocinis and green olives.  Stir in pesto dressing.  Chill for a few hours before serving.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

To Do & Not Do: Job Application Tips

Every time we go through a hiring process at work, I say that I am going to write a book on what to do and not do when applying for a job.  A blog post will do for now. 

Disclaimer: My experience with hiring staff over the past (almost) nine years has been with a mid-size nonprofit organization.  Not all of these tips will translate to other fields but many of them do.

This is not an exhaustive list.  I would love to hear your tips so please share away in the comments section!

 Submitting a Solid Cover Letter and Resume:
  • Read the job description.  Read the application instructions.  Follow them.
  • Share why you are interested and qualified for the position in the cover letter.  
    • If you don't have much (or any) experience for the job you are applying for, explain why you are interested in changing fields.  Identify the transferable skills from past paid and volunteer jobs that make you a strong candidate.
    • My friend shared this on Facebook: Dear applicants, I just want you to know that I refuse to read anything past "Dear Sirs" on your cover letter. You might have better luck finding a job if you realize that women have the ability to hold management positions as well as men.  Ditto on what Chelsea said.  Not sure who to address the letter to?  Stick with "To Whom It May Concern".
    • "My resume is attached." does not count as a cover letter. 
    • Write your own cover letter and have someone proof and edit it.  I got a cover letter once where the first sentence read: "My name is x and I am writing this cover letter for my wife, x."  Needless to say, I did not ask her to come in for an interview.  
    • When submitting attachments of your cover letter and resume, send in .doc (not .docx) or .pdf formats.
  • Be accessible by phone and e-mail.  If I can't reach you, I can't contact you for an interview. 
  • Monitor your online presence.  Google yourself.  Set your Facebook and other social networking sites to private.  No one needs to see you wasted at your cousin's wedding or complaining about your current boss -- especially not prospective employers. 
  • If you get called in to interview: 
    • Do your research.  Reread the job description.  Check out the company's website.  Know who you are applying for and have some questions ready to go. 
    • Identify your professional strengths and challenges/weaknesses beforehand.  Oh, and "I'm an overachiever." is not a challenge/weakness.  Be honest. 

You Scored an Interview!
  • Arrive 5 - 10 minutes early.  
  • Bring a copy of the job description and your cover letter and resume.  
  • Have 3 - 5 references available. 
    • Check with your references to make sure they are willing to be a reference for you before providing their contact information to a prospective employee.  
  • During the interview:
    • Don't forget to breathe. 
    • Be concise and sincere with your responses. 
    • If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification.
    • If you don't know the answer, say "I don't know."  Don't make up something...or go completely off topic...for 15 minutes...
    • When asked, "where do you see yourself in five years?", be honest.  But also know that the person you are speaking with may want their organization to be included in your plan.
    • Ask questions.  Appropriate, open-ended ones.  Three of my favorites are: "What does a week-at-a-glance look like for this position?" and "What do you need the new person to immediately focus on?" and "What do you like most about the work you do?"

After You Rock the Interview:
  • A simple thank you e-mail is appropriate.  I love receiving flowers as much as the next person but gifts are not appropriate.
  • There is a fine line between being persistent and being pushy.  Be cautious with follow up communication.
  • Trust the process.  When I applied for the organization I currently work for, I was brought in to interview for one position, was offered an open position with another program and ultimately ended up working for neither of these programs.  Seriously.
  • If you are offered the position, it is okay to ask for a day to think about it.  I would much rather someone turn down a position that isn't right a good fit then for someone to take a job and leave it a couple months later.  One time we had a Program Assistant last only one day with us.  I never even had a chance to meet her. 
  • If you are not offered the position, don't give up.  You will find something that is right for you.  I just know it.   

Monday, May 2, 2011

Recipes: Strawberry and Warmed Goat Cheese Salad

With the warmer weather, I have found myself daydreaming about all my favorite spring and summer foods. On Friday night I made this salad to accompany the burgers that my honey grilled up for us.  Bring it on, summer -- Summertime is saladtime!

And yes, I have been on a goat cheese kick.  But really, when am I not? 

Strawberry and Warmed Goat Cheese Salad

Serves: 4

  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1 pint strawberries, stems removed and sliced
  • 4-ounce goat cheese log
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Handful of almonds, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Balsamic vinaigrette

  • Divide the baby spinach evenly between four salad plates and top with sliced strawberries.
  • To make the warmed goat cheese:
    • Slightly whip the egg white in a shallow dish.  In a second shallow dish, mix together the almonds and panko bread crumbs.
    • Slice the goat cheese log into four equal rounds.  You may want to put the goat cheese in the freezer for a few minutes before slicing. 
    • Dip the two flat sides of a goat cheese round into the egg white, let excess drip off and coat the sides with the panko and almond mixture.  Repeat with the other three rounds. 
    • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil. 
    • Once olive oil is warmed, carefully add the goat cheese rounds to the pan.  Cook for 90 seconds on each side, until breading is nicely browned.
  • Top each salad with a warmed goat cheese round.
  • Drizzle salads with balsamic vinaigrette. 

If you would like to avoid cooking altogether, use crumbled goat cheese and sliced almonds in lieu of the warmed goat cheese.

Trader Joe's nonfat balsamic vinaigrette works well for this salad.