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February 27, 2011

Recipe 4: Chicken Tikki Masala

I write this on the eve of a truly craptastic weekend. It involved the smaller of the two dogs getting sick (all over three rooms), the smaller of the two dogs busting up his knee, a third trip the vet in three weeks, a threat of some major $$$ surgery, a steam vac rented, and a house torn apart. I am exhausted.

But in happier news, last week I made Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tikki Masala and it was divine. Also, I was pretty proud of myself because it is my first adventure into cooking Indian food - and I can't wait to try more.

It was also the first time I got to try out my cute new chicken with its teaspoon tail feathers.

Seriously?  How cute is he?  A fabulous gift from my Mama.  Made my day.

Now. Onto the recipe...

Chicken Tikki Masala
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

- 5 chicken breasts
- kosher salt (to taste)
- ground coriander (to taste)
- cumin (to taste)
- cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 6 tbs. butter
- 1 whole large onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 piece (approximately 2 inches) chunk fresh ginger
- 3 tbs. garam masala (this is hard to find, I found it at World Market!)
- 1 can (28 ounce) diced tomatoes
- 1 tbs. sugar
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups basmati rice
- naan bread (optional) 


1. Start your broiler.

2. On both sides, season the chicken breast with salt, coriander, and cumin.  Then, coat with the plain yogurt.

3. Place the chicken on a metal cooling rack with a foil lined backing sheet underneath.  Place in broiler, cook from 7 minutes on each side.  Edges should be slightly blackened, but not charred.  Remove the chicken and chop it into pieces.

4. Start cooking the basmati rice according to your packaged directions.

5. Dice the onion. Mince your garlic.  Grate your fresh ginger.

6. In a large skillet melt 2 tbs. butter over medium high heat until slightly brown.  Mix in onions and saute.  Add the garlic, ginger, and about 1 tbs. salt.

7.  Add garam masala.  Add can of diced tomatos.  Cook and stir.  Add 1 tbs. sugar.

8.  Let simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.

9.  Add 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream.  Stir in the chicken.  Let it heat throughout.  Add some cayenne pepper to taste.

10. Serve over rice.  Some Naan bread would be a great side.



February 23, 2011

Preach Sister!

This video has had me laughing all day. It gives me so much hope for the future.


February 19, 2011

Recipe 3: Hearty Jambalaya

When I told my mom I was making Jambalaya for dinner she said, "Uh, what?"  Jambalaya is definitely a southern food. I had actually never heard of it until I tried it at one of my favorite lunch spots, Tree Birds, and I was instantly hooked.  I decided that I needed to learn how to make it myself and it was, surprisingly, not that difficult. The hardest part was the chopping, the cooking was a breeze.  I highly suggest this recipe.

Adapted from

-1 pound polish sausage cut into 1/2 inch slices
-1 pound cubed chicken breast
-1 large union, chopped
-1/2 cup chopped green pepper
-4 garlic cloves
-2 tbsp. butter
-1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
-1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
-1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
-1/8 tsp. garlic powder
-1/8 tsp. pepper
-1/2 pound of medium, cooked cocktail shrimp
-Brown Rice

1. In a large saucepan, saute the sausage, chicken, onion, green pepper, and garlic in the butter until the chicken in cooked.  Stir in the tomato, tomato paste, and seasoning.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 6-8 minutes.

2. Stir in shrimp.  Cook for 4 more minutes or until pink.  Serve over brown rice. 


Something Borrowed

I am so excited for the screen adaptation of Emily Giffin's "Something Borrowed." They just released the trailer and I am beyond thrilled that it looks delightful. Also, I am in love with Ginnifer Goodwin's bangs and will promptly be cutting mine like that at my hair appointment on Monday. Although, this is slightly worrisome because I think she's supposed to be playing someone rather homely. Whatever.

Check out the trailer and tell me what you think (the movie...and the bangs...):


February 14, 2011

Spreading the Love

I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine's Day. No, I don't think its a "Hallmark Holiday" or anything like that. In fact, I support the concept of a holiday where everybody expresses their love - flowers, candy, jewelry and all. Currently, I am enjoying chocolate covered strawberries.  So overall, I'm a big fan of Valentine's Day.

I guess my issue is that it has become a holiday that is only about romantic love, when it really has potential to be about all kinds of love: romantic, friendship, and family.  I have been single for the majority of Valentine's Days, but I never really minded. In college, my single girlfriends and I would always make a fun day out of it.  But as I got older, and more people got in relationships, caring about anyone else but your significant other became less of a priority.  No wonder people hate Valentine's Day so much.  The fact that you are single gets shoved in your face all day.  The most extravagant proclamation of love wins.  Perhaps we should all focus less on making public spectacles and more on the heart of the holiday (pun totally intended). 

I am not saying that people shouldn't acknowledge romantic love, I'm just saying perhaps instead of just sending a Valentine to your boyfriend, maybe send one to your best friend too? Or drop an email to your mom and tell her how much you love her (love you mom!)  Send your dad a text.  Call a sibling. Also, have a heart (pun intended again!)  Don't parade your flowers around the office in front of the woman who just got a divorce or the girl who can't get a date.  Instead, try to make the day special for everybody.  There is no need for this holiday to one couples love and single people hate. 


February 13, 2011

Book 4: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

After my last two books, I needed something totally mindless. An easy, fun, "beachy" read. Enter: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. I absolutely lost myself in this book (exhibited by the fact that I just did a book review a week ago).  The book takes place in my favorite American city (Seattle) and is the story of two best friends and their relationship that spans several decades.  My only complaint was that the ending dragged out a bit.  Overall, great read.  I would suggest to people looking for a book to fly through.

Make sure to friend me on Goodreads! My user name is DuolyNoted


February 9, 2011

Bedroom Inspiration

Decorating is difficult.

When we moved into this house, we concentrated all our efforts on the living room.  I am happy to report that the living room is finally "together" and it is time to focus my energy on another room: the bedroom.

Currently, our bedroom is kind of a decor disaster.  For weeks, I have found myself starring a the room, trying to envision what I want in a perfect bedroom.  I decided that the problem is the duvet cover; as in we need a new one.  It is too faded and old. But I just can't bring myself to pull the trigger on a new one because I just don't know what color/design I want.  After all, the whole decor of a bedroom is centered around the bedspread, and I just am not ready to commit without a plan for the rest of the room.  

Here is what I know I want in my bedroom: I want there to be red.  We all know I love the color red, but more then that I think red is a very gender neutral color.  I hate rooms that are too masculine or feminine, so I am trying to strike a nice balance.  However, I don't want the room to be too red, and I don't want it to be too gothic when paired with black furniture.  I also want our room to be be modern, sleek, and sexy.  Soft lighting.  Minimal clutter.  A four poster bed would be nice.  Hell, a headboard would be nice at this point.  I also think its important to feel calm in your bedroom, to have soothing images and colors.  To not let the bedroom get messy or dusty.  I mean you sleep in their for god sake, you don't need bad energy all around  you. 

Currently, our bedroom consists of - and ohmygod I can't believe I am admitting this - a brown, Ikea (pho) wood dresser, a crappy televsion (with a hole in it!), a king bed with a feather duvet, a red duvelt cover, black side tables, and damask print lamps.

So yea, it is kind of a mess.

Then, the other day, while watching TV inspiration struck.  So much so, that I paused the commercial and took pictures.  Make fun if you wish, but I have found new color palate:

Apparently, you can get this hotel room for $96 on  I don't know what that says about my taste but I don't care.

In this room,  I love the bed - the white duvet and the red blanket.  The red end seat.  The white, flowing curtains.  The red, striped walls.  I don't like those lamps.  Yuck.  But I do like the black headboard.  Speaking of black, I like that only the furniture is black, and it is balanced with the white, thus not appearing too gothic.

And in this one, I love the lamps and the three black and white photos hanging above the bed.  I feel like black and white photos are very soothing, so this will be a must. 

So now I have an image to work toward.  The first step is getting a new duvet cover and then making the curtains, of which I plan to use THIS FANTASTIC IDEA.  Its going to be a work in progress, but give me a year and it will all come together - and trust me, its going to be one hell of a before/after post.


February 6, 2011

Book 3: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Everybody has been reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and I was so excited to find out what all the fuss was about.  I still am unsure.  Lets just say that throughout the course of reading this book I referred to it as "my homework." I wanted to stop reading so many times, but I kept pushing through to reach this illusive fantastic ending. The ending was totally not worth it. 

First, I don't like things that are boring, and this book was boring.  I can't say I wasn't warned, I knew going into it that it had a slow start - but I didn't realize it would be a 400 pages slow start.  Also, there were so many characters to keep track of and all of them had names that were so similar.  I found it hard to follow.  Second, all the parts that weren't boring were kind of freaky - and I hate HATE freaky things.  I don't watch any horror films or any kind of TV shows where people are murdered, raped, and the like.  I just don't like those images in my head.  So needless to say, the scene with Bjurman and Salander as well as the other scene with room of terrors are images I am trying to delete from my memory.

I certainly will not be reading the other books in the series - but does somebody want to tell me what happens????

Make sure to friend me on Goodreads! My user name is DuolyNoted


Book 2: Decision Points by George W. Bush*

Last year, I read Laura Bush's memoir, Spoken from the Heart, and loved it. Her unique account of living in the White House made me excited to read George W. Bush's memoir Decision Points which was scheduled to be released a year later.  But I have to say, after reading Decision Points, I am pretty disappointed.

Let me just preface this review with the statement that I don't feel like I approached this book with a biased perspective, from either the left or the right.  I have both a strong interest and respect for the presidency, regardless of whose in office. I think it is an incredibly difficult job, I also think that hindsight is 20/20. Additionally, I have a soft spot for George Bush.  I thought he had a really unique opportunity to set the record straight and tell his side of the story.

The book is set up to highlight specific points of his life - his "decision points."  He has a chapter on how he decided to quit drinking, on how he picked his administration, his decision to run for office, his decision to invade Iraq, Katrina, etc.  At first I thought this was smart - that it would keep the book moving - but instead I found it to be choppy and hard to follow. 

I also found the book to be mostly rhetoric.  Excuses and not explanations. I actually think that after reading this book I like George Bush less then when I started. He feeds into all the stereotypes.  Giving countless examples of his cronyism, whiling leaving out key players of his administration as if they didn't exist. I felt like he was rewriting history, but incorrectly.  For example, when he finished the the chapter on Iraq he made it seem like when he left office the war was practically over. Over two years later, we have yet to leave Iraq. Everything just painted a picture that seemed historically inaccurate.  The one chapter I did think was very well done was the Chapter on 9/11. It was interesting to hear his perspective, and his emotion appeared very authentic. 

I don't know that we are ever going to get an accurate picture of what happened in the Bush White House.  All the books either attack Bush in a way that seems unfair, yet his book just attacked everybody else.  I am sure republicans will love it, and democrats will hate it - but as someone who really was reading it purely for historical context I found it to be very disappointing.

Make sure to friend me on Goodreads! My user name is DuolyNoted
Coming Soon: my review of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

* Book 1 on my NYR list was Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets, of which I will not be doing a review on.

February 2, 2011

Recipe 2: Slow Cooked Car Siu Pork Roast

On Monday, everyone and their dog was talking about the impending ice storm. I rolled my eyes and promptly left everything at work, fully expecting to be in the office again on Tuesday morning. Instead, I woke up to this:

Late in the night, it sounded like all of our windows were getting shot out. Ice storms apparently mean business, and for the last two days - and apparently again tomorrow - I have been stranded at home. I am not going to lie, it has been a much needed forced break to have all my work stuck at my office. It has left me no choice but to catch up on Oprah, read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (I am finding it a bit boring...), and making my second recipe of 2010 which was a total success.

I am not a huge fan of pork, but am constantly searching for a version I will like. This one was a major win (and easy too!). Without further ado, I bring you

Slow Cooked Car Siu Pork Roast
(served with brown rice) 

Adapted from myrecipes, orgionally found in Cooking Light, March 2006

-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup hoisin sauce
-3 tablespoons ketchup
-3 tablespoons honey
-2 tsp. minced garlic
-2 tsp. ginger
-2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast
-1/2 cup chicken broth

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, stir with whisk to create sauce.
2. Combine sauce with the pork to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours. 
3. Place pork and sauce in slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
4. Remove pork from slow cooker.  Keep warm in oven (175 degrees).
5. Add broth to the sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes.
6. Shred pork, serve with sauce and brown or white rice.


February 1, 2011

Resolution 10: The "No Sweets in January" Challenge

New Years Resolution number 10 was to go the entire month of January without any sweets.  I am beyond happy to report that (a) its over and (b) I was successful, minus a small setback I shall refer to as "The Cupcake Incident."

Let me just start by saying that this challenge was not done as a "diet." I don't believe in dieting. Rather, it was more of a detox because I absolutely lost my damn mind over the holidays and was eating way too many sweets. You see, I have the world's largest sweet tooth and absolutely no self control.  So, to rid myself of the bad habits I formed over the holiday I disposed off all things sweet in our house and vowed to abstain for 31 days. 

I don't know if I would have made it but for the following conversation I had with my oh-so-supportive husband:

Me: So, I decided I am giving up sweets for the entire month of January.

Dan: Ha, you're kidding right?

Me: No really, I am going to do it.

Dan: Melissa, there is no way you can go an entire month without having chocolate or some form of sugar oriented substance. In fact, I don't think you can go a day.

Me: (eyebrows go up) Is that a challenge?

Dan: Sure, what's the bet?

Me: I go the entire month of January without eating sweets and you have to take me out to dinner in February wherever I want.

Dan: Done. But if you fail we go out to eat wherever I want to go.

This means that I would be at some BBQ place picking through a steak covered in some sauce I didn't like.  In the alternative, if I won, sour cream chicken enchiladas and a sangria fusion margarita from Uncle Julios was in my near future.  There was no way I was losing. 

Now, I know what you are thinking, "Melissa, didn't you lose the bet us a result of The Cupcake Incident?" Well no, not exactly. Let me start from the beginning.

I have been wanting to try Sprinkles cupcakes since we move to Dallas.  However, Sprinkles is pretty far away from me so I have yet to go. Then, in the middle of January, our new intern informs the office that she is bringing in red velvet Sprinkles cupcakes to work on Friday.

So obviously this put me in a huge moral dilemma.  For two reasons, really.  One, because I really want to try a Sprinkles cupcake.  Two, because I didn't want to be that person who snubs her nose at the cupcakes because "I was not eating sweets."  You know who I am talking about?  Luckily, Dan understand the dilemma and we modified the bet to exclude the cupcake.

Here it is:

(insert voices of angels singing) 

Totally worth it, right?  Unfortunately, this was not the only cupcake I ate that day.  This is where the "incident" part of the story comes into play.  You see, I was the last person in the office on Friday, and lo' and behold there are two stupid cupcakes sitting on the counter uneaten.  Now, let me just preface this next part with the fact that THIS WAS THE BEST CUPCAKE I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE, so the thought of letting them get crusty and hard over the weekend was not an option.  So I decided to bring them home - one for me and one for Dan.  No biggie.

My cupcake lasted about an hour after I got home (See? No self control).  Then, Dan comes home and I proudly show him the cupcake.  He looks at it and says "Oh, I don't like red velvet cupcakes. You can have it."

I was then faced with the moral dilemma of eating three cupcakes in less then 24 hours.

I obviously ate it.

So that was that.  Otherwise, I was successful.

Here's the thing.  Not eating sweets was easier then I thought it was going to be.  After the initial night of sweating, shaking, and hallucinations, I feel like I have successfully detoxed my system of the sweets craving and now plan only eating sweets in social settings or during periods of intense PMS.  Oh yea, and for breakfast this morning, because if you don't think I had a Reeses peanut butter cup after the end of my 31 day detox then you don't know me that well. 



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