Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Miniature Plum Pies

To be honest, I feel like I kind of rocked the domestication quality this week. Although there is a load of laundry yet to be done, and another load that’s been sitting in the dryer for 2 days, my kitchen skills took quite the leap this week. I made dessert. Sans recipe. And it was delicious.

Okay, so I fully realize that I’m not breaking any ground here with this recipe. However, I don’t know if I have EVER looked at my pantry and put together something tasty enough that I would actually share it with people. I think this is the start of something great. Maybe I’ve finally read enough recipes to start coming up with some ideas on my own. Is it possible?

Here are a few reasons I fell in love with this recipe this week:
1. It makes perfect single servings, which means we don’t have sweets and desserts tempting us all week.
2. It feels a little healthy-yup, there’s sugar and butter, but I think the fruit counts for something, right?
3. It reminded me of warm apple cobbler or apple crisp, which is really the only way I like to eat apples. Hmm...maybe I’ll do this with apples next week.
4. I was able to use the cinnamon honey butter on something other than toast!
5. It was delicious. Who needs more reasons?

Miniature Plum “Pies”

serves 2

2 Ripe plums
1/2-3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp Cinnamon Honey Butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp Honey

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Melt the cinnamon honey butter in a microwave safe bowl.
3. Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter
4. Divide the graham cracker crumbs into 2 ramekins and pack firmly to make a bottom crust.
5. Wash and slice the plums
6. Toss the sliced plums in a bowl with the brown sugar and honey and mix everything together
7. Divide the plums between the 2 ramekinsBake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Harvard Food Plate

A few months ago, I shared the new USDA food plate that replaced the food pyramid. Harvard has recently released their own version of this, offering explanations with each category. For more on this, check out the article I found here.

My personal preference leans towards the Harvard version. While the USDA does have a good website offering a lot of details, insight, recipes, etc for their food plate, I've found that people simply will not do the research. I mean, really, how many of you are actually going to click on that link to read the full article? My guess is that not very many will. You'll skim over the image and move on with your day. And I don't blame you, we are all busy. But given this type of behavior, it's really best to spell things out directly without expecting people to do the research. Plus I'm a HUGE lover of water and appreciate that they have replaced the glass of milk with a glass of water.

All this being said, no model is perfect. Food is delicious and should be enjoyed, in my opinion. I follow the "everything in moderation" rule for the most part. However, I do think this is a great guide to help keep people on track. Feel free to keep some dairy (read as "cheese") in your diet. Cheese is delicious. Just make sure it's the low or reduced fat variety.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

26 Before 27

A few weeks ago (okay, maybe it was more like a month or so ago) I saw this post on a friend’s blog. I loved the idea and wanted to make a list of my own right away. Given that I was a few months into being 26 already, I tried to keep in mind that I only had 10 months for this list. I began drafting it right away, but got stuck after the first 10 or 12 things. Over the next few days I slowly added a few items here and there, but I cannot come up with 26 things. How is it that I can’t come up with26 goals for the year? I don’t know if this is good or bad, but if you have some ideas for me on what to add to my list, I’m all ears! Frankly I’m feeling a little pathetic about it right now.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

I’m on a green tea kick. I rediscovered it last Friday and have been sipping on it ever since. It’s hot. It’s comforting. It’s relaxing. It makes me feel good inside. It’s replacing my morning coffee this week, at least during the work week.

I’m going through an internal struggle with baking. One side of me loves it and wants to do it all day long. The other side of me is tired and unmotivated, especially when it’s 8:00 at night before we get done working out and eating dinner. Last weekend I wanted to bake. But then we went on a bike ride and my mind wanted to be lazy the rest of the day. Insert black bean brownies.

Black bean brownies. Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe not. The idea is simple. The preparation is fast. The taste is chocolaty. The texture is…slightly off. These brownies are dense. Chase described them best when comparing them to the Little Debbie cosmic brownies. Overall assessment, a relatively tasty and healthy alternative. I’d make them again. I had mine a la mode (which took away some of the health benefits but ice cream is always worth it).

Black Bean Brownies

1 Box of Brownie Mix
1 Can of low sodium black beans

1. Drain the beans and rinse well.
2. Put the beans back in the can and fill the remaining space in the can with water.
3. Blend the beans with the water in a blender or food processer until all the beans have been pureed. This will be a watery mixture, not a creamy puree.( Just make sure the beans have all been pulverized and don’t have large chunks floating around. Nobody wants actual black beans mixed in with their brownies.)
4. Combine the black bean puree and the brownie mix in a mixing bowl. Stir until moist all the way through.
5. Pour brownie mix into a prepared baking pan of your choice and bake at the temperature/time combo listed on the brownie mix.

My Fall Morning

I woke up this morning to rain. Chase and I were supposed to run, but who really wants to go for a run when the forecast is "heavy rain"? Not this girl. So we put off our run to this evening and I spent the morning making a long awaited pumpkin spice latte.

Homemade pumpkin spice latte? Not as good as Starbucks, but a heck of a lot cheaper. The nutrition came in pretty close to Starbucks for my 8-12 ounce drink when I factored in using skim milk. The problem is, I always forget to ask for skim when I order at Starbucks. I also did not use whipped cream since I didn't have any in the house, but I can rarely say no to the barista when she offers it, so I'm going to call this a healthy win.

I enjoyed my latte with some toast spread with Cinnamon Honey Butter. Yes, fall was good to me today.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
From TheKitchn
makes 1-2 servings

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute - you can halve this amount
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee if you don't have an espresso machine.)

In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don't have a blender, don't worry about it - just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.
Pour into a large mug or two mugs. Add the espresso on top.
Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.

Cinnamon Honey Butter
Adapted from Pacific Harvest Events

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 tablespoons honey

In a mixer or by hand, cream the butter with the salt, cinnamon and honey until thoroughly mixed. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Emmy Post 8

Today is the Emmys. So, let’s finish out this series with taking a look at…well, series.

Drama Series
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Dexter
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • Mad Men

My Vote: Boardwalk Empire will be taking the Emmy home. It’s a show I definitely want to check out given everything I’ve read. Mad Men didn’t fair too well in the Creative Arts Emmys which leads me to believe that its 3-year streak of best drama win might be at end. It’s great to see Game of Thrones up there as a nominee, but genre shows never do well in big name categories. (A genre show is usually a sci-fi or fantasy show.) For some reason these never seem to be worthy of a win. It’s always beneath the regal, pompous sensibilities of the judges.

Comedy Series
  • 30 Rock
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Glee
  • Modern Family
  • The Office
  • Parks and Recreation

My Vote: Like my thoughts regarding Steve Carell, I wonder if The Office will be chosen because of the lead character’s swan song exit. I don’t see The Big Bang Theory or Glee as contenders. I think this will come down between 30 Rock, Modern Family, and Parks and Recreation. I would like to see Parks and Rec win as this has been their strongest season so far, but the critical darling of the judges will probably fall to Modern Family.

Miniseries or TV Movie
  • Cinema Verite
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Kennedys
  • Mildred Pierce
  • The Pillars of the Earth
  • Too Big to Fail

My Vote: The Kennedys and The Pillars of the Earth won’t be making the cut. Cinema Verite has a mild chance because of some of its wins in the Creative Arts, but the potentials I see are Downton Abbey, Mildred Pierce, and Too Big to Fail. I’m not sure how many times a British Masterpiece series like Downton has been nominated, let alone won, but it seems unlikely. Given that, I see Mildred Pierce as taking home the Emmy.

Variety, Music, or Comedy Series
  • The Colbert Report
  • Conan
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Saturday Night Live

My Vote: Melissa and I have watched more SNL this season than we ever have before and I think it’s been because of the quality of the guest stars. But I don’t think that’s enough to earn it an Emmy. Conan could really use this win and its associated publicity because its ratings haven’t been as strong as TBS anticipated. However, I still think The Daily Show continues to put forward a show with outstanding quality and will win.

Reality-Competition Program
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • The Amazing Race
  • Project Runway
  • American Idol
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • Top Chef

My Vote: I refuse to consider SYTYCD, Idol, or Dancing. I think dancing shows are ridiculous and I’ve never seen the appeal of Idol; I have never seen a single episode and I’m proud of that. So, that leaves Amazing Race, Project Runway, and Top Chef. I’ve never seen Amazing Race. The closest I’ve come is watching a French-like version in Blois called Pekin Express. If The Amazing Race is anything like that then it’s a strong contender. With the move of Project Runway from Bravo to Lifetime the show’s running time increased from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. It was kind of a lackluster season. I had started to record this season, but I had a lack of enthusiasm for it and eventually canceled the recording. I’m willing to waste an hour of my life on fashion, but not 90 minutes. Sorry, Heidi. However, I thought Top Chef had a great season. It brought back runners-up and fan favorites of past seasons for a great competition culminating with the Top Chef crown given to Richard Blais (who was my favorite from the beginning). I hope Top Chef gets to take home the Emmy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Emmy Post 7

Today’s post is for Lead Acting Performances.

Lead Performance in a Drama Series – Actor


  • Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson on “Boardwalk Empire”
  • Kyle Chandler as Eric Taylor on “Friday Night Lights”
  • Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan on “Dexter”
  • Jon Hamm as Don Draper on “Mad Men”
  • Hugh Laurie as Gregory House on “House”
  • Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens on “Justified”

My Vote: I think Steve Buscemi is going to be winning this one.

Lead Performance in a Drama Series – Actress


  • Kathy Bates as Harriet “Harry” Korn on “Harry’s Law”
  • Connie Britton as Tami Taylor on “Friday Night Lights”
  • Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden on “The Killing”
  • Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
  • Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick on “The Good Wife”
  • Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson on “Mad Men”

My Vote: Elisabeth Moss. However, since this is Melissa’s blog an honorable mention goes to Mariska Hargitay for SVU.

Lead Performance in a Comedy Series – Actor


  • Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock”
  • Steve Carell as Michael Scott on “The Office”
  • Louis C.K. as Louie on “Louie”
  • Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter on “The Big Bang Theory”
  • Matt LeBlanc as himself on “Episodes”
  • Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory”

My Vote: I think that Steve Carell will get this as a farewell award. My personal pick would be Jim Parsons just for the fact of getting to see his character dance.

Lead Performance in a Comedy Series – Actress


  • Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton on “Nurse Jackie”
  • Tina Fey as Liz Lemon on “30 Rock”
  • Laura Linney as Catherine “Cathy” Jamison on “The Big C”
  • Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn on “Mike & Molly”
  • Martha Plimpton as Virginia Chance on “Raising Hope”
  • Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation”

My Vote: Amy Poehler. Amy Poehler. Amy Poehler. This was a fantastic episode for her being able to play two different, hilarious sides of her character.

Lead Performance in a Miniseries or Movie – Actor


  • Idris Elba as John Luther in “Luther”
  • Laurence Fishburne as Thurgood Marshall in “Thurgood”
  • William Hurt as Henry Paulson in “Too Big to Fail”
  • Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy in “The Kennedys”
  • Barry Pepper as Robert F. Kennedy in “The Kennedys”
  • Edgar Ramirez as Carlos the Jackal in “Carlos”

My Vote: Some time ago I saw a stage performance of Laurence Fishburne doing Thurgood and really enjoyed it. My pick is Thurgood.

Lead Performance in a Miniseries or Movie – Actress


  • Taraji P. Henson as Tiffany Rubin in “Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story”
  • Diane Lane as Pat Loud in “Cinema Verite”
  • Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley in “Downton Abbey”
  • Jean Marsh as Rose Buck in “Upstairs Downstairs”
  • Kate Winslet as Mildred Pierce in “Mildred Pierce”

My Vote: Kate Winslet will definitely win this. Mildred Pierce has been seen in almost every category possible.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Emmy Post 6

This post is for Outstanding Writing.

Writing for a Drama Series
  • Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men”
  • Maria Jacquemetton and Andre Jacquemetton, “Mad Men”
  • Jason Katims, “Friday Night Lights”
  • David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, “Game of Thrones”
  • Veena Sud, “The Killing”

My Vote: Matthew Weiner for Mad Men. A close contender would be Game of Thrones.

Writing for a Comedy Series
  • David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, “Episodes”
  • Greg Daniels, “The Office”
  • Steven Levitan and Jeffrey Richman, “Modern Family”
  • Louis C.K., “Louie”
  • Matt Hubbard, “30 Rock”

My Vote: I’m torn between The Office or Louie. I thought the “Goodbye, Michael” episode had the right mix of humor and emotion and was a good sendoff for the World’s Greatest Boss. But I also like the caustic humor and observation of ridiculous social situations on Louie. Ok, Louie it is.

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special
  • Todd Haynes and Jon Raymond, “Mildred Pierce”
  • Julian Fellowes, “Downton Abbey”
  • Steven Moffat, “Sherlock: A Study in Pink”
  • Peter Gould, “Too Big to Fail”
  • Heidi Thomas, “Upstairs Downstairs”

My Vote: I really hope Steven Moffat wins this. I loved this episode and I thought it was a wonderful retelling of the World’s Second Greatest Detective (Batman is the first, of course).

Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Series
  • Various writers, “The Colbert Report”
  • Various writers, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
  • Various writers, “Saturday Night Live”
  • Various writers, “Conan”
  • Various writers, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”

My Vote: The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are always strong contenders for this award. Though it seems like brothers vying for the same girl. Is that a bad analogy? Oh, well. I give it to The Daily Show.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emmy Post 5

Today’s post is Directors.

Directing for a Drama Series
  • Martin Scorsese, “Boardwalk Empire”
  • Jeremy Podeswa, “Boardwalk Empire”
  • Neil Jordan, “The Borgias”
  • Tim Van Patten, “Game of Thrones”
  • Patty Jenkins, “The Killing”

My Vote: I think either Martin Scorsese or Tim Van Patten will get this.

Directing for a Comedy Series
  • Pamela Fryman, “How I Met Your Mother”
  • Michael Alan Spiller, “Modern Family”
  • Gail Mancusco, “Modern Family”
  • Steven Levitan, “Modern Family”
  • Beth McCarthy, “30 Rock”

My Vote: The nominated How I Met Your Mother is “Subway Wars”. This episode already won Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and I think the director had a lot to do with it. Point goes to HIMYM.

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
  • Olivier Assayas, “Carlos”
  • Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, “Cinema Verite”
  • Brian Percival, “Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)”
  • Todd Haynes, “Mildred Pierce”
  • Curtis Hanson, “Too Big to Fail”

My Vote: I believe Mildred Pierce will win hands down.

Directing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Series
  • Gregg Gelfand, “American Idol”
  • James Hoskinson, “The Colbert Report”
  • Chuck O’Neil, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”
  • Jerry Foley, “Late Show With David Letterman”
  • Don Roy King, “Saturday Night Live”

My Vote: Um…The Colbert Report?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Emmy Post 4

Guess what. The Creative Arts Awards were presented and awarded on 9/10. So, my predictions about them are a moot point now. Oops. The categories I was going to cover were Picture Editing; Sound Editing; Sound Mixing; Stunt Coordination; Technical Direction; Variety, Music, or Comedy Special; and Visual Effects. If you’re interested the winners can be found here. Also, the Guest Performance awards were presented too! Mea culpa.

Since the most famous categories are saved for next week, 9/18, let’s get started with those. This week: Supporting Performances.

Supporting Performance in a Drama Series – Actor


  • Andre Braugher as Owen Thoreau, Jr. on “Men of a Certain Age”
  • Josh Chargles as Will Gardner on “The Good Wife”
  • Alan Cumming as Eli Gold on “The Good Wife”
  • Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on “Game of Thrones”
  • Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder on “Justified”
  • John Slattery as Roger Sterling “Mad Men”

My Vote: I’m a big John Slattery fan. I think he has an air of sophistication in all of his roles.

Supporting Performance in a Drama Series – Actress


  • Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on “The Good Wife”
  • Michelle Forbes as Mitch Larsen on “The Killing”
  • Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris on “Mad Men”
  • Kelly MacDonald as Margaret Schroeder on “Boardwalk Empire”
  • Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett on “Justified”
  • Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma on “The Good Wife”

My Vote: I guess you could also say I’m a Mad Men fan because I’m casting my vote for Christina Hendricks. Melissa and I watched The Killing and found Michelle Forbes’ performance as a mother grieving over the murder of her daughter convincing and realistic for the first few episodes, but that’s all she did. There was no other emotion besides distraught. It was tiresome.

Supporting Performance in a Comedy Series – Actor


  • Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy on “Modern Family”
  • Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel on “Glee”
  • Jon Cryer as Alan Harper “Two and a Half Men”
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett on “Modern Family”
  • Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett on “Modern Family”
  • Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker on “Modern Family”

My Vote: Since when is Jon Cryer a supporting actor on Two and a Half Men? Doesn’t that show’s entire dynamic require a straight man? I choose Ty Burrell.

Supporting Performance in a Comedy Series – Actress


  • Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy on “Modern Family”
  • Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney on “30 Rock”
  • Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester on “Glee”
  • Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on “Modern Family”
  • Betty White as Elka Ostrovsky on “Hot in Cleveland”
  • Kristen Wiig as various characters on “Saturday Night Live”

My Vote: I almost want to say Betty White just as a default choice, but I really love the characters that Kristen Wiig does on SNL. So, Kristen Wiig it is.

Supporting Performance in a Miniseries or Movie – Actor


  • Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke in “Too Big to Fail”
  • Brian F. O’Bryne as Bert Pierce in “Mildred Pierce”
  • Guy Pearce as Monty Beragon in “Mildred Pierce”
  • Tom Wilkinson as Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. in “The Kennedys”
  • James Woods as Dick Fuld in “Too Big to Fail”

My Vote: Wow. Paul Giamatti vs. Tom Wilkinson vs. James Woods? I’m glad I don’t have to choose this for the actual awards. I think Paul Giamatti makes a good Ben Bernanke, so Mr. Giamatti gets it.

Supporting Performance in a Miniseries or Movie – Actress


  • Eileen Atkins as Lady Maud Holland in “Upstairs Downstairs”
  • Melissa Leo as Lucy Gessler in “Mildred Pierce”
  • Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey”
  • Mare Winningham as Ida Corwin in “Mildred Pierce”
  • Evan Rachel Wood as Veda Pierce in “Mildred Pierce”

My Vote: I think either Maggie Smith or Evan Rachel Wood will get this. If not those two, then another Mildred Pierce actress.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Friday List

It's 12:47 and I'm sitting at my desk during my lunch break thinking I should have left work for a bit. I should have spent my lunch hour at Hobby Lobby, or Aldi, or somewhere else that wasnt' at my computer. Since it's too late for that, I thought I would spend the remaining lunch hour blogging!

Things I’m loving right now:
1. Dashboard Confessional-“Age Six Racer (So Long Sweet Summer)” popped up on my shuffle mode this morning and it spoke to my heart. I hate the winter in Kansas City. I’m sure I would hate the winter in Lexington if I lived there too.

2. Green Tea-I think I’m getting a cold. Drinking the green tea just makes me feel healthier.

3. Peace and quiet—Maybe I should work in a library, then I could read all day and get through that big list of books I want to read. Hmm, I don’t think I could handle that “no talking” rule 8 hours a day though. All I know is that my cube mate, my manager, and my director are all out today and work is nice and quiet. Combine that with me listening to Dashboard and drinking my tea, I’m in heaven.

*I think this lady would yell at me if I worked at a library.

4. Missouri Gas and Energy—they were super nice this week and gave us a break on our bill that was extra high due to the recent hot water pipe breaking at our house.

5. Running—Chase and I have been running lately, a lot. I feel pretty good about it so far. Talk to me in about 3 weeks.

Things I’m not loving right now:
1. Mice—we have a little friend at work that keeps leaving us “presents”. At least 6 people have found such presents on their desk but nobody has found the actual mouse yet. Apparently he’s eating something blue because we keep finding teal/blue poop. Gross.

I'm just waiting for the moment I look up and see this:

2. KCP&L—why is our electric bill so high? It just keeps going up, despite our efforts. We use all those special halogen lights, we use natural sunlight as much as possible, and we keep our thermostat at 76 degrees! And yet, it just keeps creeping up. It makes me feel defeated.

Well, back to work. Only 4 more house left and then we're all free for the weekend. Enjoy your weekend. I'm hoping to make some yummy treats this weekend to share with you!