Saturday, February 26, 2011

Award and Stylish Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Life has been a little stressful here the last couple of weeks. I've been pretty busy with school stuff, especially doing research for a large paper I'm writing this semester. I feel badly that I haven't been updating more often and I'm going to try and work on it! I thought that this would be a great study break. My friend Cassie over at Confession of an Average American Mommy gave me the Stylish Blogger Award (Thanks you!). The catch of getting the award is that I must write seven things about myself, so here goes nothin':

  • I love Tina Fey. Like, a lot. She's definitely one of my 'strong, independent woman' role models and I have a lot of respect for her. On a less serious note, I also have a picture of Ms. Fey in my bathroom. I had an extra picture frame and nothing to fill it, so I started looking in some magazines for a nice picture to fill it until I found something better. I found plenty of artsy things, but then I saw an advertisement with Tina Fey on a camel. I mean, what could possibly top that? It initially started out as a joke, but now there's no way I can take her down. So, until further notice Tina Fey watches me pee. And there's something priceless about the moment when someone walks out of my bathroom and says, "Is that a picture of Tina Fey on a camel?"
Isn't this stately?

  • I love bubble baths. Nothing is quite as relaxing for me as lighting a candle, soaking in a warm tub with nice perfumed bubble bath, reading a magazine and sipping on a beer or glass of Riesling. I seriously suggest you try it.
  • I'm too hard on myself a lot of the time, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of you ladies are too. It's good to want to be the best, but try not to tear yourself down too much while you're working on it - whatever "it" is. When you're feeling a little too wrapped up in your faults, try to remember all of the awesome things about yourself.
  • I hate when my friends from back home assume that I spend my days hanging out beachside. Tallahassee is in the panhandle area and about two hours away from a decent beach.
  • I've never been outside of the United States. I have always had a really deep desire to travel abroad, but it hasn't quite worked out yet. One of my great fears is that I'll never get to see as many things around the world as I want to.
  • I'm not super neat. I love having a clean, perfect living space; however, the clutter always resurfaces pretty fast. I recently read that you should devote fifteen minutes a day to tidying up and I really want to strive to do that. I know for some of you that's probably instinctual, but I have a bad habit of letting things get a little too cluttered before I start trying to tidy up.
  • I like thinking about my smart vs. dumb characteristics for the humor value of how they cancel each other out. Example: I like to stay informed about current events and read the news most days. I also like to read National Geographic, New York Times magazine and The Economist. However, I can also tell you very detailed information about the most recent seasons of The Real Housewives and Beverly Hills and Teen Mom (...and Teen Mom 2).

Speaking of stylish, check out this Watermelon Cucumber Salad! I know this isn't something that everyone will want to try, but if it piques your interest then you should definitely give it a shot! I got a pretty good watermelon the other day, but this is definitely something that will only be more delicious as the warmer months come on. It's already in the low 80s around here, so I'm already getting into a summer state of mind.

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

You can make as much or as little of this as you want. I made a good sized plate of it for myself for dinner a few days ago, but you could do a larger scale version. All you need is equal parts of diced watermelon (seedless preferred) and peeled, seeded, diced cucumber. Toss the two with very thinly sliced red onion. Whisk together some lemon juice and olive oil (about a 3:1 ratio with the size varying depending on how much you want to use. After combining those ingredients, top with feta or goat cheese and sprinkle with fine sea salt. It's delicious, healthy and refreshing. I promise.

Chicken Pita Sliders

I saw these in Food Network magazine and knew that I had to make them. I'm a big fan of any mediterranean type food and they're way too cute to pass up. But of course I started looking at the recipe and decided to do things a little differently, which ultimately ended up in me doing something almost entirely different. But they were awesome and I highly recommend that your try my recipe, or Food Networks, or you could put your own spin on it! I had previously seen the mini pitas at our grocery store and thought they were adorable, but wasn't sure what I could do with them. If you can't find the little pitas don't be discouraged, these would be equally delicious as full sized burgers stuffed inside half of a regular sized pita.

Chicken Pita Sliders


For the chicken patties:

1 pkg. (about 1.5 lbs) ground chicken breast
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 cloves minced or pressed garlic
2 tbsps. olive oil

16-20 mini pitas

For the Veggie Relish

1/2 of a large cucumber, diced and seeds removed
1 small tomato, diced and seeds removed
1/4 red onion, diced
1 tsp. vinegar (white or red)
1 tbsp. olive oil
Splash of white wine
1 tbsp. mint, julienned
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

For the Tzatziki:

6 oz. plain, fat free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated, peeled, seeded cucumber
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
splash of white wine
salt, to taste
fresh pepper, to taste


1. You'll want to make the tzatziki and the vegetable relish a little bit ahead of time because they both get much more flavorful after sitting in the fridge for at least an hour.
2. For the Tzatziki: after grating the cucumber put it in a towel and squeeze out any excess moisture. Whisk all ingredients together and taste to check flavor. Cover and refrigerate.
3. For the relish: Make sure to get a fine chop on the tomato, cucumber and onion. Mix together to incorporate. Whisk the salt, pepper, oil and vinegar together separately then pour over the relish. Sprinkle the julienned mint, stir again then cover and refrigerate.
4. Mix the ground chicken and all of the other ingredients together by hand until everything is incorporated. How large you make the patties depends somewhat on how large your pitas are. You may want to do a trial run and make sure that you've got a good size figured out. Cook the chicken patties in a moderately hot pan drizzled in olive oil. They'll cook pretty quickly, so keep an eye on them. My patties were probably about the size of half-dollars.
5. Stuff chicken patties into the pitas and serve with the relish and tzatziki on the side.

Note: I made these for a party and did a double recipe. I did end up having some of the chicken mixture left over, but I made two big chicken burgers with it and Leon and I enjoyed those a couple of days later for dinner.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Balls

I've been working on cultivating an interest in football. For awhile. My family isn't huge on sports, so it's just not something that I grew up with. Leon, most of our friends and the entire city of Tallahassee are football crazy. Generally this is about what watching football with me. But I actually did enjoy the Super Bowl this year - what's better than an evening with good friends, a good game and good food? I made the most sinfully delicious sweet treat for the game: Red Velvet Cake Balls. I warn you - these are only okay to make if you have an exit strategy (such as a Super Bowl party) or an iron will.
Bakerella is apparently to blame for bringing these into the world. They're like truffles, but instead of chocolate inside it's cake...and frosting. The good news is that they're very rich and one (or a couple) are totally satisfying. These would be super cute for Valentine's Day. Just be prepared if you bring them around too many young gentlemen as they conjure an image of a certain iconic South Park episode. The sad part is that these would probably be pretty delicious with a little sprinkle of sea salt on top.
They're a little time consuming, but not overly challenging. These were a huge crowd pleaser and, honestly, probably one of the most delicious things I've ever made. Check out Bakerella's site and start figuring out when you bring your own batch of these into the world. You can bake the cake and roll the balls ahead of time. The chocolate also needs some time to harden, you'll probably want to give it at least an hour.


1 box Red Velvet cake mix, prepared according to package directions in 13x9 inch pan
1 16 oz. can of whipped cream cheese frosting
16 oz. semi-sweet baker's chocolate
Wax Paper


1. Bake cake per package directions. When it has fully cooled, crumble the entire thin in a large bowl.
2. Slowly mix in the frosting. Hands are probably the best way to go.
3. When cake and frosting mixture is homogenous begin rolling it into balls. I scooped out heaping tablespoons for uniformity - there will be around 45-50. Refrigerate the balls for at least a few hours or overnight.
4. Lay wax paper on flat surface. Melt the baker's chocolate four or five squares at a time in a microwave safe bowl for 30 second intervals. Stir until chocolate is all melted.
5. Drop the balls in one at a time and spoon chocolate over them instead of rolling. Lift the cake balls out of the chocolate with a fork so that the excess drops off.
6. Lay the cake balls on wax paper to harden.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On becoming a Valentine's Day convert

It's crazy to think that I've been in the dating world for a decade, but I suppose measuring things in decades is all part of getting older. In those years I've had Valentine's Days of all shapes and sizes, though I seem to have had more bad ones than good. The one that sticks out most in my memory is the first year that I had a boyfriend on Valentine's Day. I carefully selected various cutsie gifts along with a couple of CDs by his favorite punk bands. I spent the better part of the afternoon primping getting more and more excited for my first Valentine's Day as part of a couple. I was fifteen and neither of us had driver's licenses yet, so my father drove me over to his place where I was supposed to meet him after he got off work.
My dad waited as I walked to the door and rang the bell, box-o-gifts in hand. The house was awfully dark and and my disposition became exponentially less sunny as I started to realize that no one was home. Walking back to the car and getting in was the probably the worst part of the whole evening. Fathers aren't supposed to like their teenage daughters' boyfriends anyway; but they're especially not supposed to like the ones who ditch their little girl on her inaugural V-Day. After sitting at home and wallowing for awhile I got a call from the guy, who had been held up late at the office - and by 'the office' I mean his bus boy job at a local pizza place. He was extremely apologetic and thusly forgiven, but this was the first of many experiences that kind of ruined Cupid, candy hearts and chocolate that comes in heart shaped boxes for me.
These days, I'm a recovering V-Day smack talker. I recognize the weirdness of my boyfriend having to buy me flowers every February 14th or face Cupid's and my wrath. I've decided to let Valentine's Day back in, albeit on my terms.
Rule one: Be honest. If you want flowers, dinner, chocolate or any of the other staples - tell your boyfriend. If you tell your significant other that you don't want want to do anything then you're not allowed to get angry when that's what you get. If you have a naturally romantic man in your life then this rule may not apply to you, but the other 90 percent of you need to keep this in mind.
Rule two: Valentine's Day is supposed to be about love and couples. Yes, it's obviously something that ladies get more excited about, but I think a lot of ladies end up disappointed because they put too much pressure on their guys, give little direction and, ultimately, end up disappointed. And in all honesty, I've been there myself.
Rule three: Do not compare your V-Day swag to everyone else's. Remember that episode of The Office where Pam told Roy that she wanted a laid back V-Day, then she got nothing and watched Phyllis get flowers, candy and stuffed animals non-stop? This ties in with rule one, but try to remind yourself how nice it is to be together on Valentine's Day and focus on the good things, not three bouquets, mass of balloons and giant box of chocolates that your roommate got.
Ok, those are pretty much the rules, but I'm becoming much more of a Valentine's Day optimist than I used to be. I've come full circle - I think I may have even written an Anti-Valentine's Day column during my college newspaper days. This year I even made crafts!
What are some of your best, worst and funniest Valentine's Day memories? Are there any rules you would like to add?

I can't help but find these anything but sinfully cute. I'm definitely not crafty;
however, I think these came out pretty cute.
The little mailboxes were a whopping $1 at Target, as were the packs of stickers.

We can leave each other little notes in our respective boxes and pop up
the little flag as an indicator.
Is it just me, or are these super cute and mushy? I sense I'll be pulling these
out every year. I love starting traditions.