Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chicken Thighs: Something Other Than Pan-Fried

Finally! I worked up the nerve to experiment with chicken thighs.

Mr. B is a meat-and-potatoes kind of man. He is a huge fan of pork. He really enjoys chicken. And, unlike me, he really, really enjoys chicken thighs and legs. I have a habit of cringing every time I see him place said thighs and legs into the fridge to thaw for a dinner later in the week. I cringe because I know the only meal possibility for this chicken is in a pan, with lots of fat and salt. As much as I like chicken, this is completely unappetizing to me (not to mention, not the healthiest either), which is why Mr. B makes this dish on the evenings I work late. I cringe at the thought of him putting this much "grease" into his body. And don't get me wrong, this isn't an every-day meal, nor weekly. It's more once a month, maybe...but still. I cringe. Also, I'm cringing the whole time I'm trying to clean the darn grease-laden pan. Ick.

But every time I suggest a new way to cook said chicken, Mr. B frowns. He does not want me to "ruin" his chicken with an experiment. Why can't I leave well enough alone? He's eating it. He likes it. Let.It.Be.

Alas, I cannot. So when I saw him lay down some chicken thighs the other night, I plotted and raided the fridge to see what I could possibly do to make the chicken tasty because these thighs, by gosh, were going in the oven. I found goat cheese and lemons. Hallelujah. (I mean lemons alone make everything better....except coffee. Ick.) I grabbed some lemon pepper seasoning--my favorite when it comes to anything meat--and other seasoning items, and jumped to it before he noticed I was "ruining" his chicken. Soon the chicken was in the oven, and I informed him dinner would be ready in less than an hour. No complaints. (Honestly, I think he forgot he set the chicken in the fridge.)

He was quite surprised when I set the chicken, along with a balsamic drizzled tomato salad, down on the dinner table in front of him, but he didn't say one word. Probably because it smelled ah-mazing!

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Goat Cheese

1-2 lbs chicken thighs, patted dry with paper towels
5 oz goat cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and lemon pepper
olive oil, enough to rub into chicken (about 2 Tbsp)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix goat cheese with oregano and garlic until well combined. Lightly rub olive oil on the skinless side of the chicken thighs and sprinkle with desired amount of salt and lemon pepper. Place thighs skin-side down in roasting pan. Lift the skin and stuff each thigh with the goat cheese mixture, using it all. Sprinkle with salt, lemon zest, and a dash of lemon juice. Roast the chicken thighs for 40 minutes or until done. Let rest about 10 minutes before plating.

Yes, this is now Mr. B's new favorite way to eat his chicken. Score one for the wife.

P.S. It's also National More Herbs, Less Salt Day, so celebrate by raiding your pantry and leaving the salt behind when it comes to tonight's chicken!

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Geisel Awards

This past spring, my co-worker and I read all of the Geisel award winners and honors. There are significantly less books for this award than the Caldecotts (and you can peruse that post here), mainly because this award was first given in 2006, so it didn't take very long. As most are unaware, the Geisel Award is in honor of the one and only Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel. It is awarded annually to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children's literature known as beginning reader books. (

The following (in alphabetical order by title) are my Geisel favorites, as reviewed through my account.

AND my favorite Geisel is Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Eric Litwin is fabulous, and Pete is truly the coolest cat around. The illustrations are fun and vibrant, but the repetition found in the text is a winner for interacting with kids. The story keeps their attention and invites them to read along, which they will do. Every time I break this book out in my preschool story time, smiles and eyes full of pure happiness show on their faces. Soon the kids are grooving right along with me. And, of course, you must visit Litwin's web site to hear the songs and discover more Pete the Cat fun! ( there is an actual Pete the Cat beginning reader series.)

*Updated February 2014

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Photo an Hour

7 AM

8 AM

9 AM

10 AM

11 AM

12 PM

1 PM

2 PM

3 PM

4 PM

5 PM

6 PM

7 PM

8 PM

9 PM

10 PM

Yes, this was my yesterday in a nutshell. I had the day off, so my best friend and her little boy spent the day with me. While I was waiting for them to arrive, I put the finishing touches on my preschool yoga program which is on Saturday (today, actually). Once here, Myles had fun exploring the house and our huge backyard and then we headed over to the park across the street, where Jessica and I proceeded to wear him out on the slides, swings, sandboxes, and lots of walking. We took a timeout for his lunch (check out his new lunchbox; he starts daycare on Monday...eek) and shortly after we headed back to the house for his nap. And, yes, Jessica brought the wine and a special treat, lemon bars, for us to enjoy while we caught up. I miss seeing this chick every day. Actually, I've missed seeing her every day for the past five years...really, it's been that long since we lived together?! Geez, where does the time go? BTW, Siamese was not at all happy I had guests over. She let Mr. B have an earful when he came home from work. I spent the rest of the night relaxing with a book, football, and catching up on the latest Duck Dynasty episode. Oh, and I had to clear off my counters because Daddy is installing our new counter tops and sink tomorrow! (I mean today....) *Thought that photo would need a little explanation.

This girl is excited.

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What I'm Reading

Okay, here are some thoughts on my most recent favorite reads of the summer...but first, let's start with my least favorite.

The Casual Vacancy (J. K. Rowling)
Our Summer Book Club read.

Ugh. Ick. As my one friend remarked, and I quote, "How can so many awful people live in one town?" Yes. This pretty much sums it up. This book was just awful. The plot was awful. The character development was non-existent. It took well over 150 pages to get into the book (because there are so many characters thrown at you all at once it takes a while to get them all straight), and the only reason I continued to torture myself was to discover why everyone hated it so much. Yep. I got there. And, seriously, the last 30 pages are the only ones worth reading (and it wasn't worth it at all, by the way). Ugh. Ick. Skip it. Oh, wait. I hear they're making it into a movie. If you must, see the movie.

Now, the favorites....

Okay For Now (Gary D. Schmidt)
Listened to the audio book.

Set in the late 1960's, this book is about a tween boy, Doug, finding his way, which is very hard. Even harder when everyone around him seems to have lost theirs. A new town, a new start...maybe? Doug is witty, emotional, and delightful. A perfect read for 5th-8th graders. And the audio: Lincoln Hoppe, is excellent. FABULOUS. It's very laid back with life lessons around every corner, but not in an in-your-face kind of way. Very subtle. It pulled at my heart strings. I cried. I'm a huge fan and would recommend it to anyone, any age. [This is Schmidt's companion novel to his Newbery Honor book, The Wednesday Wars <--- I have yet to read this.]

Looking For Alaska (John Green)
Our Book Club read for August.

I read this first-love teen novel a few years ago during one of my YA courses in library school and LOVED it. There are quite a few YA fans in my book club, and a few John Green fans, so when this book was suggested we were all in. I was all for reading it again. Besides, I'd been meaning to add it to my home collection. It was just as heart-wrenching and wonderful the second time around. A co-worker saw I was reading it; she told me it was the book that made her want to become a teen librarian. She said "this is the kind of book high school English classes should be reading, but they aren't, and someone needs to get this book into their hands." Awesome. [Click on the title above for a link to a synopsis!]

Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell)
My work's Book Club read.

Another YA novel about first love, but this one is set in 1986. I read this for my work's book club. I haven't "officially" joined this book club because 1) as we all know, I'm in another book club, and the only people in multiple book clubs are librarians...right? Ha! 2) the discussion locations are not exactly close to my home, and 3) I don't always read the book. My co-worker keeps me updated on what they're currently reading, and if I'm interested I'll read it, or add it to my ever-growing Want-To-Read list. Eleanor & Park was already on my to-read list, and I heard nothing but good things about it. I.couldn' And I will try extremely hard to actually make this book club meeting! The drive will be worth it to hear what everyone thinks about the plot, the characters, the ending. I cannot wait to discuss this quirky teen romance.

Revolution (Jennifer Donnelly)
Currently listening to the audio book.

Annnnd....another YA novel. Cough, someone's getting her fill, cough. This is a historical fiction book set in Brooklyn and in Paris, about two girls, two centuries apart, a diary, and the French Revolution. When I first read this a few years ago I remember liking it enough that I flew through the lengthy book within days and marking it as a must-own. It's all about the heart and its struggles. There are many layers. It's dark, sad, dramatic. I'm listening to the audio because it's an Odyssey winner (best audio books). And so far...I am not disappointed. I'm still a fan.

One Thousand Gifts (Ann Voskamp)

I was first introduced to this book through Eat, Live, Run's blog post, and since then I see this book and its reviews everywhere. My cousin strongly suggested I make time for it, and soon. It's about a woman's journey to live life fully, eyes on God, lips speaking nothing but thanksgiving, and seeing the beauty in the ugly-beautiful.

This book has hit home. I'm a very optimistic person. I always try to see the positive side, the blessing in disguise. I'm one of the most grateful and optimistic people you'll ever meet. But it can be hard. There are moments when I don't want to be grateful or considerate or kind or positive. There are many times I want to be selfish, scream, lash out, kick things, and cry until someone fixes it. People ask me why I have such a passion for my yoga practice. My yoga practice brings me closer to God. When I'm on my mat, I'm calm and relaxed. No matter what pose or flow I'm doing, my heart is conversing with my Father, listening to the still small voice. And this book. This book is the extra push I need. The reminder I can reach for when I fall, when I fail. It will do a number on your heart. I would loved to have read this with a Bible study group.

Have you read any good books lately? Share your good reads below!

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lately, I'm Obsessed

Jeremy Renner.
He's a cutie. I can't help it. He's my favorite. And he's a great actor; I was re-watching The Unusuals episodes and am still sad the show was canceled. I really, really would have liked to see what the writers, and Jeremy, did with his character. Oh, and he can actually sing. SWOON.

These things are addicting. I wake up every morning and instead of reaching for my morning mug of coffee, I'm fumbling with the blender trying to get this delicious shake into my body as fast as I can. Soooooo good.

Getting organized.
Now that Summer Reading is over, I have a little downtime at work, and I'm determined to get that office organized, cart-free, and ready to go for fall. I can see my desk, the floor around my desk...and my co-worker is even inspired to organize ;)

Straight No Chaser.
A college friend and I used to listen to this acapella group all.of.the.time instead of studying for our exams while we studied. The other day I found a mixed CD from those days and popped it in. We were reunited and I downloaded almost everything I could get my hands on.

Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Bars.
These are my favorite ice cream bars. creamy. Fluffy. Light. Delicious. Healthy-ish. Yet, I have not been able to find them anywhere, in any grocery store, at all this summer. So I settled for WW's Giant Latte Bars instead. Yes, delicious. Yes, addicting. No, I still prefer the fudge bars.

Trader Joe's Dried Mango Slices.
These things. Why isn't there a Trader Joe's in the Tri-County area?! I must make the hour plus drive to find one. I feel like I need to replenish my co-workers stash.

Young Adult Fiction.
I just finished Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and WOW. I'd definitely recommend it to any teen or's a quirky teen romance. I liked it. [A review post of my latest reads will be up soon!] Also, my book club is reading John Green's Looking For Alaska (which I just finished re-reading; I'm a big John Green fan and would suggest his book, The Fault in Our Stars, to absolutely anybody...the audio book is fantastic). I just put in the audio of Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution. I read this a few years ago and remembered I couldn't put it down. The audio is a 2011 Odyssey Honor-winner so I'm re-"listening" to that. But I've heard good things about Donnelly's A Northern Light, as's somewhere on my loooong list of must-reads.

I always liked YA, but when asked what I mainly read, YA never crossed my mind. It's apparently gaining ground....

Image from Good Reads

 Award Winners.
Now that I finished reading every.single.Caldecott. I'm working on the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Winners...why, I have no idea. Other than the fact they're mainly picture books and quicker to get through. However, I'm discovering most are poetry and quite lengthy....

Mr. B and I decided a month and half ago to get rid of our cable. We've been spending a lot of time watching movies through Netflix. I don't miss cable at all. I miss being able to "watch" my Cleveland Indians. Though, Netflix is helping me fuel my Renner obsession (see #1). There's a balance there somewhere.

And apparently, Zucchini Bread.
Within the last four weeks I  made six loaves. Friends and family are quite demanding. And the neighbor brought over one the size of Mr. B's arm, which I baked three loaves out of AND was left with plenty of zucchini slices to freeze. (*For the record, five of those loaves were Blueberry Zucchini, and I put my foot down declaring I was trying a new bread: Yogurt Walnut Zucchini. Well worth Mr. B's objections.) If you're looking for a way to use up your zucchini, check out my Blueberry Zucchini Bread.

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Caldecott Fever

My coworker, Amanda, and I challenged ourselves to read all 316 Caldecott Winners and Honors, most of which we read within the last few months. (Follow the link, Ama Reads, to see her favorites and least favorites, and a post on Caldecott Medal criteria.) The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. (

Current Caldecott Winner, Locomotive

The following (in alphabetical order by title) are my Caldecott favorites, as reviewed through my account.
Yet, my #1 favorite Caldecott is A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Erin E. Stead's illustrations are perfect, heartfelt, and all-around beautiful with delicate bursts of color. (Also, I have a special place in my heart for wordless pages.) And the lovely storyline about a zookeeper and his relationship with the animals pushes it over the top.

*Updated February 2014

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Classics Revisited: Beef Stroganoff

Welp. It's August 4th and at 1:00 p.m. today it was 68 degrees outside. Crazy Ohio weather, but I am definitely not complaining. It's like fall weather. A beautiful September day, which is perfect considering the Hall of Fame football game is happening tonight (which is about a 25-minute drive from where we live). Turn on the lights, y'all, it's football season!

And since there is a chill in the air, considering it's cough, August, cough, I thought I'd share a classic, comfort, chilled weather recipe with you all. Growing up, beef stroganoff was one of my favorite dinners. It had sour cream. And noodles. Or better yet, mashed potatoes. What's not to love? However, it was usually made with ground beef (which I'm not a huge fan of anymore, unless it's in this), and processed onion soup mix and cream of toxic whatever. I decided to re-visit this meal favorite and add my own healthier twists.

Oh, and I made this super easy side dish to go with it: cut up some grape tomatoes, a cucumber, and drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette; toss and enjoy. (Or it's a perfect first course while you are patiently awaiting your stroganoff.)

Beef Stroganoff

Serves 4

1 lb boneless steak, thinly sliced (any kind of steak you have on hand...except cubed steak)
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
6-8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/4 c beef broth, plus 1 Tbsp
1/2 c water
homemade S.O.S. mix, equivalent to 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
homemade onion soup mix, about the amount in a packet of onion soup mix
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
Parsley, for garnish
Hot cooked egg noodles, or mashed potatoes

Saute onions and mushrooms in an extremely hot pan with 1/4 c beef broth; set aside in a bowl. In same pan, saute the steak in 1 Tbsp of beef broth until no longer pink (if your pan is hot enough, you'll get a crispy steak). Add veggies back to pan along with the S.O.S. mixture, water, and onion soup mix. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt. Serve over hot noodles or mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley.

It's as simple [and tasty] as that, folks.

With Love & God Bless,