Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crickets and Tilapia

I was going to make halibut for dinner tonight but they were all out at the grocery store so I made the Parmesan Crusted Tilapia again. It came out a lot better this time. Jim said that it was possibly the best fish he ever had!

It looked better too.

Parmesan Tilapia
(makes 4 servings, adapted from allrecipes)


1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon italian breadcrumbs
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 tilapia fillets


1. Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder, paprika, red pepper, breadcrumbs and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.
3. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

But let's talk about something more exciting. Like.... new puppies!

Super cutie huh?

Well, now it's about time to start addressing wedding invitations so I had better get to that. Super busy week ahead! Wish me luck.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Busy busy weekend

Just got back from Raleigh, it was a busy very fun weekend. One of Jim's favorite things to do when we visit new places is stake out the college campuses. So we stopped by Duke, NC, and NC State. It was a lot of fun. We got to see Gerard and Kristin who we don't get to see very often. They are a lot of fun, hilarious to talk to!

They loved the cake pops! This was only the second time I've shared my baked goods with them, the first time was about 6 months ago when I brought Jayhawk Pie, I call it that because it's cherry/blueberry and KU's colors are red and blue. Gerard loved the pie so much that when I said I brought baked goods he was disappointed at first that it wasn't the pie. Once he tasted a cake pop I believe he was sold.

This weekend was kind of a bonanza of eating like crap. We'll call it an "off" weekend. Tomorrow morning I face the dreaded scale and we'll see. For dinner tonight I whipped up just a real quick pasta, Chicken, Sausage and Bow Ties. I totally forgot to take a picture of it, but it was tasty. And we are gonna have a crazy huge amount of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

In more exciting news, Jim and I got a puppy today. Her name is Cricket and she is a Sheltie, or Shetland Sheepdog if you prefer. Or mini-collie if you want to make it real easy. Seeing Jim interact with her reminds me of how good a dad he'll be one day. Pictures to follow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cake Pop Bonanza

Tonight I finished the cake pops. They are unbelievably delicious. I used lemon supreme cake mix and just baked the cake following the directions on the back of the box. I let the cake cool for about an hour in the fridge, then I crumbled it into a big bowl and mixed in about half a can of cream cheese frosting. Once it was all mixed I covered it and left it in the fridge overnight. The next day I formed the mixture into about 40 balls and poked a hole in each of them using a lollipop stick.

I popped them in the freezer for another hour or two. After they were good and frozen I took them out, melted a few vanilla candy melts and dipped the end of a lollipop stick in the melt, and then stuck it in each of the cake pops in the holes I had already made. The candy melt on the end makes the cake pop stay on the stick better.

Once those had set, I melted the rest of the bag of candy melts and mixed in a tablespoon of shortening and some yellow food coloring and melted that down. Then I dipped each of the cake pops in the candy melt, which I would say was the most difficult part of the whole project. I put sprinkles on some of them immediately before the melt dried. After decorating, I stuck each pop into a styrofoam block I bought from Michaels, that was still wrapped in plastic so if anything dripped on it, I could just wipe it off and reuse the block again next time. I let the pops dry in the styrofoam block for awhile...

Then I put each pop in a little treat bag and tied it with ribbon just to be cute. And thus:


And not to be anticlimactic, but after that I made these lime chicken tacos which weren't new for us, but are a favorite around here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just a short one

Busy day today. I made broccoli chicken divan tonight which was great, but I like my own broccoli cheddar chicken a little better (recipe forthcoming). This was probably healthier though! I cooked the chicken breasts in a splash of lemon juice and seasoned them with garlic and montreal seasoning. I used half broccoli and half asparagus, doubled the amount of sharp white cheddar, and added a spoon full of sour cream. Yum! I made wild rice as a side. Hurray!

And of course, after Jim selflessly offered up his own camera for my blogging purposes, I of course finally figured mine out. I think the pics came out a little better this time.

On an unrelated note, I have one gripe today. I really would love to join a book club locally, but I can't find one at all! The only one I've found gives me a little bit of a creepy vibe. I may just have to start my own. Hmm.....we'll see. Anyway, the weekend's almost here, hopefully I'll have plenty of time for a long entry then.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How is it so hot here already?

94 degrees today. In May? Okay so it's late may, and it IS Georgia I suppose, but still. Just on principle, that's a little ridiculous. Jim and I went golfing after work, we walked nine holes and I was so exhausted by the end of it that I literally was too hot to sweat. But, on the plus side I'm sure I burned a lot of calories.

I had pork chops marinating in root beer all day in the fridge and when we got home I had Jim start grilling them while I made bulgur and the sauace for the pork chops. I know root beer pork chops sounds crazy but Jim absolutely loved them. As I sometimes have been known to do, I flubbed the timing a bit and the sauce was a little too thin, but oh well. It was still really good. My favorite part of the meal was the bulgur, as usual though, because it is that good. In my quest for healthier cooking ideas I came across bulgur, which is a barley-type of grain alternative to rice. I like to cook it with chicken granules and then add green onion, pine nuts, dried cranberries, golden raisins and apricots at the end. Absolutely delicious. Jim calls it "burglar".

I think I'm going to break up the cake pops that I'm making for Raleigh into two nights...bake the cake tomorrow, Thursday mix it with the icing, form the balls and freeze them, and then Friday night dip them and decorate them. Yay!

Now I'm off to watch some netflix with Jim and enjoy a skinny cow ice cream treat (I LOVE skinny cow). But really quick, I will mention that I've been stumbling across all sorts of really neat websites, especially cooking blogs (I guess my ideas are rather unoriginal, but that doesn't make them less delicious) which I will add to my list of links I love. Night!

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's been a month since I'd last eaten pizza

Therefore, I figured it was high time to put an end to that! I whipped up these delicious little pita pizzas tonight and they certainly satisfied that craving. They were also the easiest dinner I've made in weeks, not counting leftovers. But as long as we're on the topic, I did use some for these pizzas.

I started off with a whole wheat pita and spread a little bit of pesto on for the base. I followed it up with some leftover fra diavolo sauce I had laying around (deliciously spicy) as well as some leftover ground beef from the last time I made stuffed peppers. Then I added some chopped spinach, feta and monterey jack. They were ridiculously good. I had one but Jim polished off three.

Also, in an unprecedented move, I changed my settings on livestrong from "sedentary lifestyle" to "lightly active", which allows me to eat around 200 more calories a day than I have been eating. I do work at a desk all day for my job, but I work out at least three times a week in addition to golfing/driving range/pilates/whatever else I feel like. It's not strictly consistent, but I figure it's more accurate than "sedentary" which I'm pretty sure means you are bedridden. Anyway, I'm nervous about it because I've had so much success with the way it was before (14 pounds, oh yeah!). But I think I can afford it as long as I just play it smart. I guess we'll see, huh?

I can't remember if it was yesterday or the day before that I was talking about the fitbit but here's a picture of it...so cute and tiny!

That would seriously make me feel better about eating those extra 200 calories per day.

Since I've been blogging more it's come to my attention that my camera is constantly blurry. It's starting to drive me a little crazy. My future sister in law has a really nice camera and is always taken amazing photos of her family, I'll have to ask her advice on a possible future upgrade.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's 97 degrees out and we aren't running the AC

So it only makes sense to cook something spicy, right? Tonight's Dinner was spicy lime grilled shrimp and linguine noodles with broccoli and mozzarella. It came out really well, a little spicy for Jim but I love the spice.

Here's my rendition:

This was Day 1 of what promises to be my most delicious weekly menu yet. Have I raved yet about how much I love allrecipes and especially it's supporting membership features? One of which let's you design menus and then create shopping lists based on those menus. Oh goodness, I can't get enough of it.

Also, I've decided that I'm going to bring cake pops to Raleigh, but instead of using the spice cake mix I had laying around (that's more autumny imho) I bought some lemon cake mix today. So lemon cake + cream cheese frosting + dipped in vanilla candy melts = delicious!

Other things I'm super excited about include, but are not limited to, this awesome heart rate monitor that I want desperately as well as the new and final book in the Game of Thrones series of books by George R. R. Martin called "Dance of Dragons". It comes out the day before my birthday so I plan to finish my current series by then and reread all the other books in his series by that time. As well as study for my big test in July, continue to cook like a crazy woman and plan my wedding. Where does surfing the web for inordinately long hours fit in there? I'm not sure.

Anyway, back to Air Force One on TV. Harrison Ford is my favorite on screen president EVER!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Zombie movies and cooking blogs

Jim and I are watching 28 Days Later, which is one of my all time favorite scary movies. I love scary movies almost as much as I love food, although let me be specific. I like creepy scary movies, not gory scary movies. Like for instance, I hate the "Saw" movies but I love movies like "The Orphanage" or "Sixth Sense". I will add one caveat though, and that would be zombie movies. I just like to think about how I would do everything better than the people in the movies and thus would survive longer/better etc. Anyway, back to the food.

I made Salsa Chicken tonight, which I've made once before and it came out delicious both times. It's great because it gives me my spicy and cheesy fix, and it is SO simple and fast. It satisfies my cravings for Mexican without the added calories of a tortilla. Plus, I'm notoriously challenged when it comes to cooking chicken. I'm always terrified that it's going to be undercooked and give me salmonella so I end up overcooking it and making it dry. The salsa chicken is baked just perfectly though, and it stays moist and wonderful. I also made Spanish rice to go along with it which was easy and tasty, although next time I think I'll add more spices and maybe some cumin.

Finally, to satisfy my baking urges and because I had some sour cream in the fridge that I needed to use, I made Jim's mom's famous sour cream sugar cookies. She sent him some while we were in California together and everyone who tried them just loved them. I bring them in to my coworkers on a regular basis and no one can believe there's sour cream in them. I also submitted them as my first official recipe to allrecipes.com, Eileen's delicious cookies.

We're going up to Raleigh later this month to visit Jim's friends Gerard and Kristin and I think I"m going to bring them a treat...another form of cake pops. This time I'll use spice cake mix and cream cheese frosting, and dip them in vanilla candy melts. I'm very excited, I'm pretty much obsessed with cake balls lately and I think these are going to turn out even better than the ones before. After these, I'm going to attempt Red Velvet with cream cheese dipped in vanilla, then strawberry with vanilla dipped in chocolate, and maybe yellow with nutella dipped in chocolate. Ooh delicious. Anyway, back to the zombies.

Monday, May 16, 2011


...which is what my bakery will be called once I am independently wealthy enough to do what I love for a job, and I'm hereby trademarking the name so watch out!

So Jim and I just got back from a weekend in Richmond VA visiting our friends Emily and Andy and our wedding photographer Brooke. We got our engagement pictures taken, which was much more fun than expected and Jim even cooperated the entire time.

As I am want to do, I baked chocolate chip pecan cookies and cake pops for everyone. I just don't like to show up empty handed. Anyway, the chocolate chips are my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the cake pops were AMAZING.

Basically, I made a butter yellow cake from the box and bought a can of buttercream frosting. I mixed a couple teaspoons of almond extract in with the frosting and when the cake was done baking I cooled it and crumbled it into a bowl and then mixed in about half the can of frosting. I formed them into balls and stuck a pretzel in each one and froze them. Then I melted some chocolate chips and dipped each pop into the melted chocolate and put sprinkles on the outside. Yay!

And my project for tonight was making even more cookies for a colleague who commissioned my baking services. I chose one of the highest rated and most popular cookie recipes from allrecipes website, peanut butter cup cookies. I just tried one and they are delicious, but beyond that I can't get over how cute they looked!

In other news, I took an off day from the diet on Saturday. I'm totally ok with that. There is nothing more annoying than hanging out with friends and trying to have a good time but stressing the whole time about how many calories are in everything. I tried to cut loose within reason. When I got home I ball-parked how many calories it all added up to and I'm pretty sure I was close to my "maintenance" amount of around 1800. So that was good. But I definitely had a chai ice cream cone, jambalaya, a brownie, a mojito and a shot of jameson among other things, so I'm no angel. =P

So I was prepared this morning to face the music when I checked the scale, but it said I was lighter than ever! Hurray! That makes the total since March 30 up to 13 pounds lost. I have two theories here, or rather, I've heard two theories. The first, it takes a few days for what you've eaten to show an effect on your weight. So I may have been light today but I could gain another couple in a few days as a reflection of my "off" weekend. The second theory, and the one I prefer of the two, is that it's okay to sometimes eat more than you're allotted for your diet to prevent a plateau. Theoretically, by me eating about 600-700 more calories on Saturday than I have for each day for the past month or so, I trick my body into believing it doesn't have to hold onto the fat because it's going to have other days where I eat more than usual. So here's hoping for that one.

For dinner tonight I made a delicious parmesan crusted tilapia, mango curried quinoa, and a tomato cucumber salad. All of which was delicious, but I need to work a little on presentation before I put a picture up.

Since I've been making a new meal every night for awhile, we've been spending more than usual on groceries. Granted, we eat like kings and we almost NEVER eat out anymore, plus I've lost weight, so it's worth it, but I may have to let go of a few luxuries to keep it up. Anyway, that's all I've got right now so ta ta!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


So apparently 11 pounds lighter Ashley has an unadulterated love of shopping. Big surprise there. Whereas for the past few years I've hated going shopping because I can't stand the way clothes fit me, today it was the complete opposite. I was looking for a dress to wear for Jim and my engagement photos and I found 3...oops.

This does NOT mean that I'm satisfied and am going to start eating like crazy again, oh no. I'm sticking to the diet until I get down to my goal weight and tone it up as well. We are going up to Richmond this weekend for the engagement photos and to visit a few of Jim's friends, which is going to be lots of fun, and I plan on letting myself cheat a little bit, but not get too out of hand. Also, I'm baking chocolate chip pecan cookies and cake balls for his friends too. I like to bring edible gifts when I visit friends.

Finally, I had my first official commission for my baking skills today. One of my colleagues is paying me to bake her some of my best cookies for her softball team's bake sale fundraiser. I think I'm going to make Eileen's sour cream sugar cookies decorated like baseballs and peanut butter cup cookies. Delish!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

So last night was a Spicy Peach-Glazed Pork Tenderloin, which was absolutely delicious.

Friday, May 6, 2011

10 pounds later...

So I've been religiously sticking to my diet, a side effect of which is a rapidly developing obsession with food, but I've seen some marked success! Since March 30 I've lost 10 pounds! I'm so excited. I wore pants today that haven't fit that well in years.

I've achieved these successes simply, by counting calories. Another factor that helps with both the weight loss as well as the food obsession is that I've been cooking at home about 6 days every week, packing my lunches for work, and eating breakfast each day.

I haven't been exercising particularly more, although I also keep track of the calories I burn through exercise, so if I'm extra hungry one day I try to at least do a little 30 minute circuit training workout to earn some calories back.

My calorie goal has been a net of 1200 each day. I've read all over the internet that 1200 is the magic number that you should "never" dip below, although some days when I golf for like 2.5 hours and end up burning around 500 and I don't always want to eat all of that back. I think it's a little ridiculous for anyone to just throw a magic number out that applies to everyone. I registered on www.livestrong.com which has been a godsend for calorie/fitness tracking as well as weight and body measurements tracking. Also, livestrong is awesome because you can enter your weight each day and it tailors your daily calorie allowance based on your changing weight and weight loss goals.

Now I know I've talked a lot about weight loss. I'm not obsessed with any specific number on the scale, I really just want to slim down and tone up and I want clothes to fit better. I realize that muscle weighs more than fat which is why I'm taking body measurements as well. 125 pounds of mostly muscle takes up a lot less space than 125 pounds of mostly fat.

I mentioned that I've been cooking each night, which has been fun. I used to bake little treats constantly, which I love, but either I eat too many of them or I resent the fact that I can't, so I've throttled back the baking considerably and replaced it with cooking a new meal each night. I also registered on allrecipes which is another *great* site.

Today I made Southwest Chicken, which was pretty good but not fabulous, probably my own fault for not adding more spices. I much preferred the salsa chicken that I made the other day. It was delicious and so so easy. I'll have to take a picture next time I make it.

Finally, I will admit that in part because of my food obsession I've been ogling cake pops and a cakepop maker from bakerella... oh buddy.
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