Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

     My name is Claire and I am a fool for Oreos.  I'm also a fool for cheesecake and all things cute.  If you are too, then you definitely need to make these.  They are pretty easy, delicious and crowd pleasing.  Most recently I made these for my birthday, which I thought was an excellent choice. I got them from this blog, my only additional suggestions is that they tend to need around 28 minutes. I also would consider these more along the lines of mini cheesecakes rather than cupcakes, but that's just semantics :)

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes


Makes 30 cupcakes

1 pkg. oreos (42 cookies - 30 whole, 12 coarsely chopped)
2 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
A pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Fold in chopped cookies by hand.

4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 28 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

Tips: If you aren't sure whether the cheesecakes have set, jiggle the muffin tins a bit to see whether the cheesecake mixture moves or is solid. These are highly addictive, make sure you're ready to feed a crowd!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meatless Monday and the Importance of Planning

     This week was my second Meatless Monday and I am sorry to say that it wasn't entirely successful.  Saturday was my birthday and I went to Colorado for a few days to celebrate with Leon, friends and family.  It was wonderful and definitely difficult to leave. I got back to Florida on Sunday evening and definitely had some catching up to do, which meant no time to go to the grocery store.  For breakfast I had coffee and a Kashi bar.  Then I had one of my favorite meatless lunches: green beans with slivered almonds, a little fresh grated parmesan and an egg (over easy is my fave).

Sorry for the bad picture quality, but it is delish!

     Unfortunately, by the evening I was stressed, headed over to the library for a long evening and finding my fridge lacking in anything very quick.  For dinner I had a gyro (with lamb, of course).  A little better planning on my part would have helped. How do you insure a well-stocked fridge? Do you write down all of your meals for the week before going to the store?  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meatless Monday!

A recent viewing of the documentary Forks Over Knives inspired me to try and trim down the meat in my diet. The premise of Forks Over Knives is that many of America's health problems (heart disease, diabetes, cancer) are linked to the high levels of meat and processed foods in our diets. The film advocates a whole foods, plant based diet and follows several people who are combatting weight and health issues.  There are some pretty intense stats in the film, including that there is a monumental disparity in cancer rates among the United States and many Asian countries where a plant based diet with less meat based protein is prevalent. 

So, I am going to try and do a Meatless Monday every week.  I certainly don’t mind eating vegetarian – I was meat-free for a year or so in high school (although I don't think I did it in the most healthful way). I am hoping that devoting one day a week to a meatless diet will help me come up with new recipes and healthier meatless alternatives that will result in permanent changes in my diet. 

I’m also going to strive to share my meals on Meatless Monday on the blog, which I hope will have the dual effect of getting me to update more frequently and to stick to the meatlessness.

Forks Over Knives is on instant play on Netflix - I recommend that you check it out! 

In the future I think I need to work on incorporating some more beans and other proteins to keep me feeling full, but I will say I felt pretty good about how I ate yesterday.

For today’s inaugural Meatless Monday I had:

Oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast (old fashioned oats microwaved with frozen blueberries). 

For lunch: Salad with onions, campari tomatoes, cucumbers and fat free Italian dressing
and Green Giant frozen cauliflower in cheese sauce. Ok, there are some preservatives in the
cauliflower with cheese sauce but the whole box is 150 calories and it's a good substitute
for mac and cheese if you're in a comfort food mood. 

I went to zumba after my classes were over for the day and I was pretty hungry when I got home,
and, admittedly I was a little bummed that my dinner wouldn't include any meat. 
However, this whole wheat linguine with zucchini and onions was totally delish.  I boiled the
pasta until it was al dente while I sauteed some zucchini, garlic and onions. I mixed the veggies
and pasta with tomato sauce, cubed up a bit of fresh mozzarella, grated some fresh parmesean over the top and baked the pasta in a 350 degree oven for about six minutes. 

What are some of your favorite meatless meals?  Do you think there is too much of a focus on incorporating meats into every meal?

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Weird Talent

Two posts in one night - how impressive am I? I'm sitting here watching Gilmore Girls, one of my favorite shows of all time, and was excited to notice that a man Lorelai went on a date with was none other than THE Jon Hamm. He looked much different than the Don Draper we all know and love today. Of course he was still handsome and debonair, but his slimmer build and post-Y2K attire rendered his voice the only truly identifiable characteristic. What's that - you want proof?

I know you're impressed with the clarity rendered by the combination of the TV in my childhood bedroom and my cell phone camera.
I think my screen shot somehow looks more like him than it did on the show, but I was still inexplicably excited when I spotted him.

This talent of identifying actors when they look fairly different or unrecognizable actually runs in the family. My mother also has this skill and we're highly impressive together - well, at least to each other. Last week we were watching one of the [awful] Jurassic Park sequels and I was proud when I recognized that one of the characters was none other than Becky of A Little Princess. I know this is an utterly useless talent (though I do impress Leon every now and then when I do something like recognize an extra as an extra from something else), but I still enjoy it. I'm good at recognizing the voices and feel especially satisfied when I identify the narrator on a commercial (See: David Duchovny on Pedigree commercials and Michael C. Hall on the Dodge commercials).
So this got me thinking: what are your absurdly useless talents? Remembering the names of obscure Vice Presidents? An encyclopedic memory of Harry Potter plotlines? Naming obscure Crayola crayon colors (Atomic Tangerine, Macaroni and Cheese, Robin's Egg Blue...anyone? anyone?) Do share and make me feel less weird about my weird and useless talent.

Colorado, caprese and elusive roaming donkeys

I've been having a lovely break in Colorado that is coming to a close far more quickly than I would like to acknowledge. Every visit home makes me exponentially more thankful for all of my wonderful family and friends here. I really appreciate listening to my grandparents' recollections of my childhood, making dinner for my family, meeting a friend for dinner or just visiting face-to-face are so much more meaningful now that I live so far away.

Views like these are just an added bonus

One of my high schools besties invited me to Cripple Creek - our resident mining town turned gambling town - a little while back. I'm not big on gambling, but the Cripple Creek General Store's ice cream and company of one of my favorite person was enough to get me excited about a day of hanging out in casinos. Little did I know that I would catch the gamblin' fever. I was coaxed into sitting down at a blackjack table with my friends where I impressively turned $15 into $50 [and then turned $50 into $0]. Oops! I was still having fun, but a little disappointed about winning some money then losing it all. After some regenerative ice cream I took the last of my cash and played Roulette and some slot machines and eventually ended up [ever so slightly] ahead. The only disappointed part of the day was mine and my friend's failed attempt to find the famous wandering donkeys of Cripple Creek. They - allegedly - are the descendants of the original mining donkeys of yore. We found some donkey poo [not pictured] and some other proof that the donkeys were somewhere, but there was nary a donkey in sight - even when I left a trail of my ice cream down the town's main road.
Our Cripple Creek lunch spot. I loved the kitsch, though it wasn't as emporium-esque as I would have liked.
This town loves its donkeys.
The "approved" treats. There must be too many asshole tourists leaving ice cream trails for the beloved donkeys.
The local theater, already advertising its showing of "The Christmas Donkey."

The average age of Cripple Creek goers is probably around 65. At first I thought this was a condom machine, then I realized it was just stocked with tylenol, antacids and sinus decongestant. Though this well stocked "Li'l-Medic" couldn't prepare me for...
The readily available sharps disposal. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to hate on people with diabetes or any other serious ailment, but never in my life have I ever been somewhere that needed a designated waste bin for needles. Needless to say, me and my other early 20s friends were carded frequently.

My last topic for this rambling post is one of my favorite burger recipes. Well, it's not going to be so much in recipe form since it's just a simple burger, but I highly recommend it nonetheless. Everybody loves a good caprese salad during the hot summer days when tomatoes are at their most ripe and I love thinking of different ways to play with the classic tomato/basil/mozzarella combination.
These are great because they are simple but are a little fancier than your average burger. I got some large whole wheat buns, which definitely elevated the taste of these burgers. Simply make your burger patties as you generally do (about a pound of ground beef for four patties) and grill thick slices of onion on the grill at the same time. Spread a bit of pesto on the top bun and grill for a few minutes until the top and bottom bun are toasty. Melt sliced mozzarella on the hamburger patties and serve with the grilled onion and sliced tomato. What's your favorite way to eat a burger?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My current loves

OK, obviously I'm NOT loving how long it has been since I've updated, but it's been a pretty busy few months. Finals, Leon's gradation, summer school, driving to Colorado and enjoying a bit of free time. I love when I'm not in school and I can enjoy some non-academic pursuits. This summer these are a few of the things I have been absolutely loving:

1. Non-academic reading: Law school ensures that I spend a lot of time reading, but as any student knows there's a huge difference between reading for class and reading for pleasure. I've been indulging in some fun, non-academic books this summer and I've been loving it.

First on the list was "Bossypants" by Tina Fey. I'm a huge fan of "30 Rock" and of TIna Feyin general. This book definitely did not disappoint. It's witty, hilarious, sentimental, insightful and everything else one would expect from the fabulous Ms .Fey. It was a quick read and I was truly disappointed when I finished.

I know Chelsea Handler is a bit polarizing - people seem to either love her or hate her. I fall into the former category and have been meaning to check out this book. I decided to read it after "Bossypants" because I was craving more female humor. It's written in the style of "Are You There God It's Me Margaret" - kind of a coming-of-age style but the subject matter includes men, drinking and family issues, among others. If you like Chelsea and aren't too easily offended (which you probably aren't if you like Chelsea), I highly recommend this.

I have been meaning to read some David Sedaris for quite awhile and I definitely see myself reading more of his stuff in the future. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" is a collection of essays on varying subjects, from Sedaris' childhood speech impediment to his trials growing up gay in North Carolina to his difficulty learning French during long visits to France with his partner. The essays vary in tone and make for an interesting read.

I just got done reading this yesterday and I could hardly put it down in the few days that it took me to read it. I guess it falls into the "chick-lit" category, but if this is chick-lit then I'm definitely a fan.The movie came out recently but I have been hearing about this book for a little while and decided to read it. The book follows Rachel, a young lawyer who has an affair with her longtime best friend Darcy's fiance. The books explores the complexities of female relationships and actually has you rooting for Rachel. I found the characters and situations extremely relatable and II'm sure many other women would too.

I'm really looking forward to the ongoing liquidation sale at Borders. If you have one near by you need to go! They are fully shutting down and liquidating all their merchandise (sad, I know - but cheap books are awesome!).

2. Pinterest: The BEST new thing on the web. I'm totally obsessed with this site. If you like fashion, art, interior design or cooking (though this is hardly an exhaustive list) check out the site and start pinning. Oh, and add me :)

Just a preview of the Pinterst awesomeness.

3. Nutella. Ok, we all love nutella all of the time, so perhaps I should clarify and say "creative uses of Nutella." This one definitely fits the bill and is courtesy of Allie over at "...and a teaspoon of life." Check the link for her awesome blog and the recipe. The only thing I really did differently was that I didn't cut off the excess wonton wrapper. These seriously are beyond delicious - try them!

4. This American Life: This is a radio program that is available from the link I listed and as a podcast or download from iTunes. The basic premise is that each show has a theme and there are between one and four different stories, anecdotes etc. on that theme. Some are informative, some are funny, some are sad. Scroll through the options and find something that sounds interesting to you. They're great to listen to in the kitchen while you're making dinner or on a long car trip. A few of my personal favorites: "Switched at Birth';" "Very Tough Love;" "Father's Day;" and "#1 Party School." This stuff makes me understand why people loved radio so much many years ago and makes me wish that good radio programming were more prominent.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wee Bit Wednesday

{one} how often do you do laundry?
I do laundry on a pretty shamefully infrequent basis. We don't have our own
washer and dryer and the ones at the apartment are crappy and expensive,
so there aren't a lot of incentives, haha.

{two} what is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate chip

{three} what would you do with an extra $2000 per month?
Probably start saving up for when I have to start paying back
those pesky student loans, save up for my eventual wedding and a down payment
for out first house.

{four} what was/is your favorite subject in school?
In High School I loved Journalism, English, Social Studies and
Government classes. In undergrad I always loved my Political Science and
Philosophy classes. I've enjoyed my Constitutional Law and Criminal Law classes
during law school.

{five} have you ever ridden in a hot air balloon?
No, I don't know if I would have the guts to do it or not.

{six} what was your high school mascot?
The Badgers for my first year and the Panthers for the rest.

{seven} if you had the chance to go into space, would you?
Probably not, but I may think about it if space travel became extremely safe.

{eight} how often do you go dancing?
I don't, unless Zumba counts :)

{nine} would you rather drive or fly?
Drive for a short trip, fly for a longer one. More than five hours
in a car makes me antsy.

{ten} have you ever been caught re-gifting?
Thankfully not! I've probably only done it once
or twice, but only for secret santa. How often does anyone
actually like a secret santa gift anyway?

Copy, paste and share a wee-big-o-yourself!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken and Leek Stew, the great de-stressor

There has not been a whole lot of cooking happening in this house lately. As the semester wears on that's pretty normal, but I had a 30 page rough draft due yesterday for a paper I've been working on throughout the semester and I needed to take it easy. We've had a super chilly, stormy couple of days and this sounded like the perfect comfort food. I've made this stew a couple of times and it is, without fail, delicious. It's thick and creamy, which makes it hard to believe that it's fairly healthy. This is also the first time I've used leeks, and I have definitely been missing out. They're a mild onion, kind of like a huge scallion. If you want that instant 'yum' smell in your kitchen, saute some leeks in olive oil - delicious. This recipe is courtesy of Jamie Oliver. I followed all of the directions, though I used fat free sour cream. Oh, and I added garlic. You could make it without, but why would you ever make anything without garlic?

Jamie Oliver's 'Simplest Chicken and Leek Stew'


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts (discard any discolored ends)
1 pkg. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch pieces
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tbsp. chopped thyme
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Aren't the leeks gorgeous!?


1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Scrape the leeks and mushrooms onto a plate.
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour, shaking off any excess. heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the chicken and cook over moderate to high heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Add the chicken stock and thyme and simmer over moderate heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about one minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the plate with the vegetables.
3 Simmer the stock over moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken, leeks and mushrooms to the skillet and simmer over low heat until warmed through, about 1 minute.
4. In a small bowl, blend the sour cream with the mustard and stir into the stew. Remove the skillet from the heat. Season the stew with salt and pepper and serve.

Serve with: Steamed rice (I used brown).

Savannah-rama, Part 3

Ok, apparently blogger just cannot contain all the photos I want to post. This is nice though, I'm getting to reminisce about my vacation and forget about all the stressful things I'm currently working on. Savannah really was gorgeous though. The trees and flowers there are pretty much the same thing you see in Tallahassee, but we definitely lack the old-Timey charm. We probably bull dozed down all of the old houses to make way for our heinous, phallic capital building.

This old synagogue is the student center for the
Savannah College of Art and Design. They own a
bunch of gorgeous buildings around town and I'm super
jealous that they get to hang out in gorgeous buildings like this.

Savannah has a really active port and we saw this
cargo freighter, it's huge! Suddenly I understand why
customs doesn't quite make it through everything shipped into this country.


The buildings on River Street.

Cool or creepy? Savannah-Rama, Part 2

There were so many gorgeous things to see in Savannah, there's no way I could limit my pictures to one post! One of the more offbeat things we did was walk around the Bonaventure Cemetery, which was featured in the book an film "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." I'll admit, I didn't check out the movie until after our trip to Savannah, but it definitely captures a lot of things about the city. The cemetery overlooks a gorgeous river and is full of amazing spanish moss laden trees and gorgeous tombstones. I know some people get weirded out by cemeteries, but I'm definitely not one of them. I actually lived behind a funeral home for quite a few years, so it takes a lot to creep me out. I'm not too partial to the idea of being buried myself, but cemeteries are kind of nice - they're full of tokens showing the great love people have for one another. Is that weird?
So, readers - cemeteries: cool or creepy?

The fountain at Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hey Ya'll: Savannah-rama, Part 1

Last week was our Spring Break. Ahhh, Spring Break - it's going to be sorely missed when I finally wrap up my seven year stint in college. It won't be missed as much as winter break or summer break, but it will be missed nonetheless. School has been pretty hectic this semester, hence the lack of blog posts. The break was much needed and is already sorely missed. We spent four days in Savannah, Georgia enjoying quality time, sleeping in, gorgeous scenery and good food. It's about a five hour drive from here, so it was the perfect getaway for a few days. I initially wanted to go to New Orleans, but when I got around to my last minute planning I realized that out break coincided with Mardi Gras. Don't get me wrong, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is definitely something that's on the bucket list; however, it's also something that requires more than three days planning ahead.
Savannah is such a beautiful old city. The homes are absolutely beautiful and you just get such a great sense of the history while you explore it. The charm is also nicely augmented by liberal drinking laws - you're allowed to have open containers of alcohol in the historic district as long as they're in a clear plastic cup. Bartenders will ask, "For here, or to go?" when you order a drink, which I must admit is pretty awesome. This, paired with the fact that Georgia gets New Belgium beer made exploring on foot that much more fun. It felt a little strange, but Leon and I both enjoyed walking in front of the gorgeous City Hall en route to River Street while sipping on beer in our to go cups.
We got a good dose of southern hospitality from most everyone we met. Parts of Forrest Gump were filmed in Savannah, including Forrest's narration from the bench while waiting for the bus. The bench itself was put there for the film production and has been moved to a museum though, which makes it much less cool. I would definitely put in a stunt bench for the tourists if I has a say, but I don't. Savannah is also supposed to be super haunted and they have a lot of ghost and graveyard tours, but I just can't really buy into that stuff. I anticipate another post or two with pictures as this one is already a bit out of hand. What are some of your favorite vacation spots?

The Davenpot House, one of the first buildings in Savannah
to be preserved for its historic value. We actually got to go inside,
but I'm sad to say that it was a bit disappointing.
It was a bit chilly during our stay, but Spring was clearly
nudging its way in.
One of the many gorgeous Bed and Breakfasts in the historic district.
I would love to return to Savannah when my budget is a little
higher and stay somewhere like this.
I sure do love flowering trees.
This city really does have a level of charm that I haven't
really seen before. Many of the historic
homes had cute gutters like this one.
How's that for a backyard?
One of the ghost tours runs in this hearse. Tour-goers stand up
in the back while learning about Savannah's spooky stories.
"The Waving Girl," a statue in Savannah on the river front.
Supposedly a girl would stand there every day and
wave to greet the ships coming into port. There is some legend that
she was there every day for 40 years, waiting for her love who
has been lost at sea to return.
The old cobblestone streets by the port.
Cute, but difficult to balance on.
Every home really did seem more beautiful than the last.

The spot where Forrest waited on the bench and
told his life story.
The people of Savannah sure do love Forrest Gump.
The guide on our trolly tour was even an extra, but his scene got cut.
Gorgeous trees, as one would expect.
Forrest Gump isn't the only shrimp loving southerner who is
well known in Savannah. Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady and Sons
is also located there in the historic district, along with The Paula Deen Store,
specializing in all things Paula. I love to laugh at Paula's southern drawl and
love of butter on Food Network. I don't generally cook the types of things
that she does, but we couldn't pass up some of Paula's home cookin'.
"Hey ya'll" is the catch phrase on her sign. Hilarious.
The restaurant is a pretty large, three story place in
historic Savannah. You have to go make reservations
ahead of time and they were totally filled up every day we were in town.
Above is the garlic chive biscuit and "hoecake" that comes with
your meal. Paula Deen is such a naughty genius - they tell you
that the hoecake is great plain, but also prove maple syrup on the
table and urge you to have it that way. Pancakes with dinner -
perhaps not something for everyday, but Paula is a genius.
We both opted for the buffet so that we could sample
all the good southern fare that The Lady and Sons offers. This was
definitely the best buffet food I've ever had - nothing dry or flavorless
the way that buffet food generally is. The collard greens were amazing and
I even loved the creamed corn - which I thought was grits. I never
would have tried it if I knew what it was, but I'll hand it to Paula - she turns out
great food and I'm still working on detoxing from the trip.

Paula's restaurant has to make a crazy amount of money, but it still has that locally owned, down home feel. There are family pictures of the Deens by the elevators and I was particularly ticked when I spotted one of Paula kissing one of her sons on his mouth at his wedding. On the ride up to our table on the third floor Leon entertained the other diners by musing about whether they kept Paula in the basement. All in all, it was a delicious, very diet unfriendly gastronomic adventure.