Chicken Tostada

A wannabe tostada

A wannabe tostada

The past two recipes I’ve shared have been pretty successful, so it’s time to come clean about a failure. This next recipe was a bit of a dud, so if anyone has the heart to try it out and let me know where I went wrong, I’d certainly appreciate it.

This Chicken Tostada recipe is from the Food Network website, and includes a Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette dressing. If you check out the reviews of this recipe, you’ll notice that most of them praise said dressing as the best part of the dish.  This will become especially important in a minute.

As a fan of all things Mexican food, I figured I would totally love this recipe. Until I tried the Cilantro-Lime dressing. It was revolting. Not quite sure what I did wrong, but whatever I did made it a disaster. No matter how much I mixed the dressing ingredients, they still tasted like all their individual parts put together in the same bowl. And when the individual parts involve mustard and olive oil and lime juice…let’s just say it it was pretty gross.

The picture is misleadingly appetizing. Once the dressing was a disaster, I basically aborted the mission and went with my standard chicken fajitas. Which I guess means that my cooking has come full circle.

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Honey Balsamic Chicken

Finished product looking good. I even made some vegetables and rice to go along with it.

Finished product looking good.

Brace yourselves, people. I actually had to use the oven for this recipe. And shockingly enough, it turned out pretty well! It got two thumbs up from both parents…and they promised they weren’t just being nice to me.

I got this Honey Balsamic Chicken recipe from my SparkRecipes app, which I found by searching “healthy recipes” in the App Store on my iPhone (I know, I know, this is practically rocket science here). It was a relatively quick dish to make, though I am still working on coordinating all the components of my meals so that they finish cooking at the same time. I usually end up forgetting the vegetables and not timing the rice properly. But when you use those frozen microwaveable bags of green beans (sorry…still a rookie here), it doesn’t matter too much that you forgot the vegetable. God bless the microwave oven.

No modifications to the recipe this time around; I followed the directions the whole way. Ignore the photo in the recipe link above, because that doesn’t seem to be matching up with what the dish actually looks like, for some reason. Instead enjoy the pictures of my attempt at the recipe above and below. It was Italian-esque with a touch of sweet from the honey. If anyone tries the recipe out, let me know how it goes!

Overdid it a bit with the thyme on that piece of chicken in the front. Whoops.

Overdid it a bit with the thyme on that piece of chicken in the front. Whoops.

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Some Friday Inspiration from Maya Angelou

Source: Pinterest.com

I found this on Pinterest this morning and it was just a lovely way to start the day, so I thought I’d share it here. Maybe it will start your weekend off nicely!

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May 3, 2013 · 4:33 pm

Back in the Kitchen

About two weeks ago, I decided to chronicle my kitchen adventures on this blog. I put the recipe sharing on hold and had a more somber tone on here recently in light of the events in Boston, but I think its time to get back in the kitchen (Figuratively speaking. My mom is the one cooking dinner tonight, probably while I am writing this post. Thanks, Mom!).

The first new recipe I tried is from a cookbook that I bought my Dad for Christmas: Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip…with Recipes! Because who doesn’t love Guy Fieri and his red convertible?

The recipe I decided to try is Pete’s Rubbed and Almost Fried Turkey Sandwich, from Panini Pete’s in Fairhope, Alabama. I’d like to extend my apologies to Panini Pete himself, because I majorly modified this recipe. I made the changes partially to make it a bit healthier, partially because I didn’t have anything to deep-fry a turkey in, and partially because I made it while I was snowed in during the February Blizzard in MA and was missing a few ingredients (sadly, the garlic mayo, which I bet was delish).

Here’s the full recipe from Guy’s page on the Food Network site. My version is pictured above right. My modification confessions:

  • I didn’t fry the turkey. I just used deli meat. This may or may not make this not actual cooking, but rather, sandwich making.
  • I also didn’t have the Garlic Mayonnaise. See: Blizzard of February 2013, below.
This used to be my driveway and backyard. Hence, being unable to go get the missing ingredients.

This used to be my driveway and backyard. Hence, being unable to go get the missing ingredients.

Overall verdict: a pretty yummy panini! It went well with Downtown Abbey Season 1 on Netflix and the roaring wind and snow outside.

Next time: Honey Balsamic Chicken (I actually used the oven for this one!)

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Boston, You’re My Home

When the explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 2:50 p.m., I was sitting at my desk at work.

I wasn’t at the finish line in Copley Square, or watching runners along the route of the marathon. My town wasn’t one of those locked down during the manhunt last Friday. None of my friends were running the marathon, and thankfully, no one I know was injured.

Like many others throughout the Boston area, I was not directly affected by this terrible tragedy. I know that I feel a speck of the pain, confusion and fear that all those who were at the marathon are experiencing. That fact alone made me wonder if I had any right at all to try to write something about these horrible events.

But as I watched the nonstop news coverage of the bombings, I was plagued by the same sense of pain and confusion and fear that many in Boston were feeling. I was shocked to see the panicked face of a high school classmate, crying as she frantically searched for family members at the finish line, replayed over and over again on the news. I was pained to see the smiling faces in photos of the three innocent victims. Like so many in Boston and around the world, I wondered what brings someone to kill innocent people. Wondered…why?

And we may never know why three innocent people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed. Or why hundreds more were injured and their lives forever altered. But after one of the most terrifying weeks in Boston’s history, it is clear how the city will move on: together.

I am a transplant to this city. My family moved to Boston from New Jersey when I was six years old, for my dad’s job. I don’t have the accent; I pronounce the letter “r” and have never declared anything “wicked cool.” I still get lost on the city’s confusing and winding streets. I was probably the only person in the New England area to cheer when the New York Giants beat the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.

Last Thursday morning I watched a live stream of the interfaith prayer service at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross with my coworkers in our conference room. And when President Obama told the audience, “I join you in saying: ‘Boston, you’re my home,’ ” my eyes welled up with tears that I tried to keep from spilling over.

Because I love cheering on the underdog Red Sox and singing “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park. Because I love riding the Green Line on the T (the oldest subway in America), no matter how many times I lose my balance and fall over as the driver goes too quickly through the narrow and twisting tunnels. Because I love that our mayor checked himself out of the hospital just days after surgery, and took to a wheelchair to go help his city without a thought for his own recovery. Because the spirit of this city, which is often seen as arrogant and even ridiculous by others, couldn’t be crushed by these horrific events.

And that spirit was bolstered by the support of the entire nation. Other Major League Baseball teams—even the rival Yankees–played “Sweet Caroline” at their games the night after the bombings in tribute to the city. Phones were ringing and buzzing off the hook, as friends and relatives from near and far checked in on residents of Boston. I felt enveloped in the love and support of friends, who texted and emailed from around the country to make sure that my family and friends were safe. People donated millions of dollars to The One Fund, created to support the victims of the bombings, in a matter of days.

Part of the sadness I feel is because, sometimes, it is only the most horrific of tragedies that remind people of our similarities, that we do in fact stand united. They remind people that our differences make us a stronger, better country. But I am heartened by the fact that when people tried to divide a nation and paralyze a city with fear, the response was compassion and heroism. The response was running towards the injured or donating to their cause. I’ve heard that bad things can bring out the best in some, the worst in others. We saw the worst in the individuals who attacked Boston last Monday. But we also saw that Boston’s best—and America’s best—was goodness.

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April 25, 2013 · 5:18 pm

Pray for Boston

From Dan Shaughnessy’s column in this morning’s Boston Globe:

“You live here, so you got the calls. And the texts. And the e-mails.
Are you safe? Are you OK? Were you there? Is everybody in your family all right?
This was one of those days when you found out how many great friends you have. Worldwide, word spread that Boston — the Boston Marathon — was under attack, and folks from other corners of the country and the world reached out to find out how you and your family were doing.”

Thank you to everyone who checked in on me and my family yesterday. Keep praying for all those who were at the marathon and all the law enforcement officials, first responders, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who are caring for people in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy.

I also recommend you read the rest of that column. Though nothing can make sense of it, Shaughnessy’s words capture the impact of what happened yesterday. And if you start to lose faith in humanity, here are some words to remind you of the inherent good of people, and of the heroes who were in Copley Square yesterday.

Pray for Boston.

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Chef Maura

As a part of my continual quest to be a competent adult, I have been trying to cook more.  Which is an interesting endeavor, considering I got ZERO of the cooking genes in my family.  My sister has been at home in the kitchen since she was little, often cooking up recipes from Emeril’s kids’ cookbook.  I handled the eating in that situation.  And the dishes.  That’s about all I was capable of.

I once made “slice-and-bake” cookies for my boyfriend and he secretly threw them out on his way home, because they tasted so bad (props to him for being kind enough to pretend he liked them in front of me, ha).  I didn’t realize it was possible to mess up cookies of the slice-and-bake variety (perhaps I should just stick to eating the dough, like I usually do…).

Fajitas is a dish I can safely say I've mastered: cooking chicken and chopping vegetables isn't exactly rocket science.

Fajitas is a dish I can safely say I’ve mastered: cooking chicken and chopping vegetables isn’t exactly rocket science.

But I figure that practice makes perfect, so I have been venturing into the kitchen more often (with some assistance from my mom, who is a great cook).  Though I am no Julia Child,  I’ve pretty much mastered your standard boxed ravioli/tortellini/spaghetti, since that really only involves boiling water.  And I can handle chopping vegetables, so I have been able to make a good fajita dinner as well…except for that one time I forgot about the rice and burned it (see below. It took forever to clean that pot…).  Remember that practice makes perfect, people.

Burned Rice

Burned rice, exhibit A. Yes, all of it was stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Since I’ve been having some kitchen adventures, I thought I’d share some recipes here on the blog. So stay tuned for my “wannabe chef” series, featuring not-that-difficult meals that I have attempted to make with some successes and some failures.  Recipes and photos to come throughout the rest of the week!

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“Wanting to write…

“Wanting to write without wanting to read is like wanting to use your imagination without wanting to know how.”

Powerful ending to a great read from printmag.com about how reading is essential to the craft of writing. Check it out at The Consequences of Writing Without Reading. This lifelong lover of reading couldn’t agree more.

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April 14, 2013 · 3:11 pm

Writing Exercises

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/a-creative-writing-professor-shares-a-few-of-his-favorite-writing-exercises

Some of my favorite college writing professors started our classes with a quote about writing, or with a writing exercise to get our creativity flowing. This article from McSweeney’s, a literature/humor site run by the publishing house of the same name, has some great quotes about writing from famous authors and an…interesting…take on the writing exercise. I got a good laugh, and hope you do too.

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Writing Tips for the Grammar Nerd

Writing Tips for the Grammar Nerd

Here’s hoping some of you laugh out loud at this like I did. #GrammarNerd

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December 11, 2012 · 4:22 pm