Monday, February 28

Beauty is only cookie sheet deep

They say love is blind.

It's also said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Well, these totally burnt slightly crisped, falling apart cookies may look ugly to you...

but remember: beauty is only skip deep and it is on the inside that matters...and inside of these are chunks of white chocolate chips and cranberries.

Hello, stress eating. It's so nice to see you again! Thank you for being here while I do copious amounts of school work. I have a feeling we are going to be very close friends this next month.

(I'd give you guys the recipe, but unless overly buttered, flat and broken cookies are your taste de jour, I'm going to save you the strife. Betty Crocker I am not)

Sunday, February 27

52 Flavors Challenge Week 8: My Secret Stash of Saffron

Seriously, folks... What was I getting myself into with this week's challenge? I knew saffron's street rep for being notoriously expensive, but I didn't really know what this would entail until I got the store. It all started out innocently enough in the spice aisle.

I was able to find it at the first grocery store I went to, but then I saw the price tag: £3.86 for 40 grams. That's odd, I thought to myself, they don't typically sell spices by the gram do they? As I stood among the jars of neatly labeled herbs, mentally weighing my options, calculating how many grams I wanted versus how many I needed, things started to feel a bit suspicious.

An older man in a rain jacket crept up to the display next to me. I eyed him apprehensively... was he looking to score some saffron as well? My pulse was racing and my hands were clammy as I gripped the glass jar in my hands. One would have to be enough for now. It was only my first time after all.

After quickly using self-checkout (couldn't let a cashier handle the goods), I rushed home to study my purchase.

Okay, if I wasn't convinced saffron is secretly an illicit narcotic before, I certainly was once I opened the cap.

It's hidden inside an orange pharmaceutical tube INSIDE the glass jar? let me get this straight: saffron is sold by the gram, very expensive, and is discreetly packaged in a plastic vile disguised by a jar? And it's just a spice? You're sure about this?

I had planned to make several different recipes, but the first one completely wiped out my saffron stash. At least it was worth it. I made Ina Garten's Saffron risotto with butternut squash

(photo from Food Network. I couldn't take any pictures of my recipe. You know...
incriminating evidence, probable cause, and all that business )

Although, I will admit this risotto recipe is one of the best I've ever had. The saffron added an element of depth and flavor to it that my usual risotto base lacks. (But if you tell anyone I said that, I'll deny it. And then have to kill you.)

Next week's flavor: UNKNOWN! Sean and I are headed off to Barcelona at the end of the week and I know I'm going to be exposed to a food culture shock. I want to leave myself open and see what I find. If you've been to Barcelona or Spain and have any native cuisine suggestions, send them my way! (You can be guaranteed that sangria and Cava will definitely be on the list!)

52 Flavors Tally:
Foods I like: 6 (Fennel, Indian, British desserts, Chickpeas, Kale, Saffron)
Foods I dislike: 3 (Figs, Quinoa, Hummus)

Friday, February 25

Something's gotta give

Normally I love to-do lists because they help me feel more organized and more in control of everything (and we all know I love being in control).

But when your to-do list is 12 items long before you even wake up and is accompanied by a sad face at the bottom, you know you're really screwed.

Editor's note: Ahem, for all you Nosey Nelley's reading the items on my list. (caught you!) Items #4-11 are articles that I need to have written, not actual things to do. Rest assured, I would not put "drinks" or "marriage advice" on a to-do list. (Although that'd be pretty frickin' sweet if my biggest concern of the day was allocating time for boozin' and schmoozin')

I have six major papers and projects due by April 1st, in addition to the normal daily routine things I need to be responsible for... you know, things like showering on a semi-daily basis (let's not get too carried away here) and attempting to cook a meal that doesn't involve me manically shoving chocolate in my mouth between assignments.

So for the next couple weeks, my blog load is going to be a little lighter. I'm still aiming to post at least 3x/week. However, since no Sugar Daddies have come out of the woodwork to offer me a book deal, something's gotta give or my head is going to explode.

It's okay though, I hear that absence makes the heart grow fonder so in reality I'm just giving you the opportunity to miss me more. See? It's a win win.

I'll be back on Sunday with this week's 52 Flavor Challenge recap!

Saffron, you saucy minx, show me whacha workin' with

Wednesday, February 23

Strength training scares me

This is the face I typically make when stepping foot near the weight area of the gym.

Ehhhhhh, I don't like it here.

It smells yucky.

These big men are scaring me.

I am not a fan of strength training, but I know I should be. Word on the street is that it's good for you. Muscles burn more calories than fat and any activity that allows me to eat more chocolate should be game in my book.

and yet......

I don't do it. Many other women don't do it either. Just pop into any local gym and the ratio of men to women pumping iron is drastically disproportioned.

To me, it seems that there are two fractions of "healthy" people who enjoy working out: those who strength train vs. those who don't. I read a million and seventeen blogs about running, yoga-ing, and oatmeal photographing, but very rarely do I see people pimping out their strength training routines.

Why do we consider running 20 miles the epitome of healthy living, but not lifting 20 pounds? I love running as much as the next gal, but just ask any doctor or sports therapist and they'll willingly tell you about the disastrous effects long term marathon training can have on your knees, joints, and hips. Cardio is fantastic, but it can't be the end all and be all. Are you just as healthy even if you don't strength train? What determines a "good workout"?

I love the feeling of satisfaction after tackling a long run, the breathlessness and racing heart beat make me feel alive. It is a feeling I would never want to trade in. But for my body's benefit, I need more to my workout routine and I'm stalling on it. I'm aware of the factors that prevent from me strength training:
  • gym membership- running is free and is something I can easily squeeze into a spare 30 minutes. With most memberships running anywhere from $20-$80/month, I usually choose to spend my money on different things (like shoes. and wine.)
  • pace- weight lifting is so incredibly boring to me. I see people doing a lot of flexing and mirror-staring in between all those reps. One of the reasons I love running so much is because I'm constantly moving and pushing myself.
  • intimidation (and stubbornness)- I get scurrrrred. And stubborn. I don't like being the newbie at anything, particularly in a place where I'm sweating and surrounding by men in cut-off t-shirts.
I need to get over it though. If I don't start trading in the chips and dip for some tricep dips, these wings are going to be flapping around in people's faces. No one likes a bride with parachute arms.

More importantly though, I need to make a shift in my thinking. I respect my body enough to avoid cigarettes, eat a predominately plant-based diet, and pack in the cardio sessions, so why aren't I treating my muscles with the same regard? Besides, if Pauly D and The Situation can do it, why can't I?

Any strength training experts out there? I'd love to get your input on this.

Monday, February 21

I'mma cut you.

First off, I realize titling my post "I'mma cut you" is not nice, nor is it grammatically correct. However, it is a suitable alternative to the many, many rap lyrics I had flowing through my head that I would've rather used. But in the vein of being somewhat professional and appropriate and all, let's just leave it at that vaguely written threat, mmmkay?

As part of my Valentine's Day present, Sean enrolled us in a Jamie Oliver knife skills/cooking class.

I have a secret love for the prep work aspect of cooking. Chopping and dicing ingredients is really relaxing for me. Give me a giant pile of onion and garlic and I will happily drift off into my thoughts and mince away to my heart's content.

But I am also the same girl who has crashed her car no less than 7 times (Seriously. You should see my car insurance bill.) Lady Grace I am not.

So out of love and concern for my safety and the safety of all ten of my little wiggling digits, Sean and I headed off to Jamie Oliver's joint in Clapham yesterday.

It was a restaurant, test kitchen, and store rolled all into one. When you walked in, you were immediately hit with a waft of orgasm-inducing scented breads and muffins. We made sure to snag some garlic foccacia bread for the trip home.

Scrumptious? Yes. Cheap? No.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any pictures during the actual class due to the whole food sanitation/trying to avoid cutting off your fingers thing. Ironically enough, while we weren't allowed to photograph while slicing and dicing, we were allowed to drink wine.

A lesser wine drinker cook than I would be daunted by this task, but since I've been mixing my booze with dinner for years now, it wasn't a problem for me. (Does that sound as bad to you as it does to me? Errrr....)

I managed to survive the class with a meal in hand and all 10 fingers still intact. Success!

On the menu? Thai mango salad with grilled prawns.

We chopped A LOT: cabbage, peppers, garlic, ginger, cucumber, chile, mango, spring onions, and fresh coriander. We were also supposed to rip the heads off our prawns and pull out the poop trail ourselves, but one look into my bowl and seeing those beady little eyes staring back at me and I said, "uh uh, no way, I'll stick with my wine and veggies ma'am". The end result was beautiful though:

I learned some really cool techniques during the class. Did you know you can peel ginger root with a spoon instead of a knife or potato peeler and it wastes less of the ginger?

One of the most important things I learned was how to properly do the "rock chop", which is one of the basic styles of cutting. I'm sure many of you already know about this (especially Becca and all my other culinary experts!), but it saved me from losing a pinkie or two.

The first thing to remember when using any big, sharp instrument is to protect yourself. I never realized how many times I let my fingers fly all over the place when I'm cutting vegetables. The #1 thing the instructor emphasized was the importance of tucking in your thumb and creating a wall with your fingers.

This morning I was particularly excited to attack a pineapple we had (who gets excited over chopping fruit? Such a nerd.)

I made a short video for you on the rock chop technique they taught us yesterday. Enjoy the bed head!

Untitled from Marie Evans on Vimeo.

(One of the other major things you'll notice in the video is that I'm not holding the handle of the knife properly. I was told it's a bad habit to stick your index finger on the knife the way I do and can be an indication that the knife isn't comfortable enough for you. I didn't even realize I was doing it until I watched the video 2 minutes ago. Woops!)

Hope that was helpful! Now go pour yourself a big glass of wine, grab your sharpest knife, and start cutting! (Wow! Worst. advice. ever.)

In other news, to update the 52 Flavor Challenge post from yesterday...Next week's flavor: Saffron! I've never worked with this spice before, so I'm excited to try it! I've heard it can be notoriously expensive, so I'm going to see what I can find. If you have any recipes or cost-cutting techniques to cooking with saffron, let me know!

52 Flavors Tally:
Foods I like: 5 (Fennel, Indian, British desserts, Chickpeas, Kale)
Foods I dislike: 3 (Figs, Quinoa, Hummus)

Saturday, February 19

52 Flavors Challenge Week 7: Kale!


What can I really say about it?

It is delicious to eat, especially slathered in olive oil and seasoning and roasted at 425 for 18-20 minutes (except when you forget it's there and almost burn the house down). Delicious to eat, but so very boring to write about.

So there you have it.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then this 52 Flavors Challenge post is worth about 58.

Kale. Mmmm, good. (make that 61)

*I hate to dine and dash but I am late for a Jamie Oliver Knife skills class! Be back tomorrow with all the juicy tidbits (and hopefully all ten fingers). We'll discuss next week's flavor then! *

Friday, February 18

Things I Wish Weren't True- Part 2

Happy Friday! Thanks to everyone who contributed to yesterday's flower debate. I really love hearing other people's opinions! I'll keep you posted on what I decide in the next few weeks. In the meantime, let's kick off the weekend with Round 2 of Things I Wish Weren't True. (In case you missed it: Part 1 is here.)
  • Britney Spears new music video.

  • While I give Brit Brit a lot of credit for getting back into shape with abs reminiscent of her early days, I can't forgive the hideous 1987 AC/DC-esque font used in the opening credits. Also, the lack of subtlety in the product placement is nauseating.

    Offfff course, you need to spritz yourself with your self-labeled perfume in the middle of your "earth is ending" themed music video. Be sure to zoom in and get a close up of her name on the front of it.

  • my outstanding student loan debt Who needs a house, a car, or good credit anyway? Especially when you can have a Masters degree from some artsy-fartsy London school and a pile of debt you'll still be paying off when you're grandkids are in college instead?

  • Although incredibly delicious and instantly satisfying, chocolate isn't actually a food group. Damn you saturated fats, damn you and your refined sugars.

  • Victoria's Secret swimsuit models. Marissa Miller, you simply cannot be a real human being.

  • Yeahhhhh, I'm going to go do a million sit ups now, kthanksbai.

  • Ronnie and Sam. Need I say more?

  • macaroni and cheese is nowhere to be found in the UK.

  • How is this even possible? This is the country that brought you tea and biscuits and the Beatles. They pretty much dominated the world for the better part of a century. Why can't they import some Kraft mac n cheese in the blue box into this joint?

  • Kate and Will still haven't invited me to the wedding. It's okay though, I'm sure the invitation got lost in the mail and I'll be hearing from them any day now. I've already got my dress picked out.
What do you think? What is something you wish wasn't true?

Thursday, February 17

Attack of the Bridezilla

This is what happens you start googling bridal bouquets while you should be making your lunch.

Goodbye, fresh kale bursting with potential to be delicious chips.

Hello, burnt to a crisp kale bursting into flames in my oven.


On the plus side, I did manage to find some scha-weeeeet floral arrangements...I'm sorry you had to be the sacrificial lamb, Kale.

Now if it were up to me, my entire wedding would be a vision of Pretty Pretty Princess. However, since I live in the real world and not Barbie's dream house, I am getting my pink fix through the flowers. Here's what I'm loving so far: (all images courtesy of The Knot)



What do you think? Do you have any preference? Or is this one of those things only my mom and the florist I'm paying way too much money for actually care about?

Tuesday, February 15

Best of the British Boob Tube

I think we can all agree that the American culture does not always have the best reputation abroad. It has been criticized for being crass and unrefined in more ways than one. (Jerry Springer anyone?) In many ways, it is true. The fact we are on Season 487 of The Bachelor and have allowed the Kardashians to have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR spin-off shows certainly speaks volumes about our television society today.

But with that being said, I think we need to shift our focus away from those crazy kids in the Shore house (I'm lookin' at you, Snooks) and focus on some popular British television shows, because trust me it ain't all BBC and Shakespeare by the Fireside up in here. Ohhhhh no, far from it in fact. Turns out, Britons and Americans may have more in common than we think.

Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to some of the "best" British television programming has to offer:

The Joy of Teen Sex

According to their website: The Joy of Teen Sex is a documentary series which offers a frank exploration of the love and sex lives of today's teenagers. Ummm...hmmm...uhhh....

So if I'm understanding this title correctly, there is cause to celebrate the wondrous joy of kids engaging in promiscuous sexual endeavors with one another? Judging by the promo shot, we should also be throwing our hats up in salute to the underage orgy while we're at it. Woo hoo! Remember all the fuss over the Gossip Girl promo billboards when the show first premiered in the US? At least that show is very clearly fictional.

I must admit, I haven't actually watched this show in its entirety. Sean and I have seen it on the TV Guide channel several times and stare at it shamefully like a nearby car accident. A couple weeks ago, I finally summoned up the courage to watch it, but I felt so dirty three minutes into it, I had to switch it off and take a shower. And wash my eyes out with bleach. I'm so sorry God. I promise I'm not a pedophile.

Embarrassing Bodies

In this show, three doctors travel around the UK seeing patients who are "too embarrassed" to go to their regular doctor for their medical problems. So let me get this straight: you are too ashamed of your medical ailment to make a private appointment with your general practitioner, but you are totally comfortable having said problem filmed and then blasted all over television for millions of people to witness? The types of ailments and issues you would see on this show are much different then the US as regulations and censorship rules are much more lax here. Balls, boobs, bums...they all make cameos.

Side note: how freaking creepy is that promo picture for the show? Mr. Doctor Man, you are not getting anywhere near this va-jay-jay with that thing. (Sorry for using the v-word on here Dad, but it's true)

Hotter than my daughter

The premise of this show is exactly as the title sounds. It is a reality show where mothers discuss how much better looking they are than their daughters and persuade them to get a makeover. No words. No freaking words.

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Now this is truly a guilty pleasure. This is a show I can get behind.

How do I even begin to describe this show to Americans?

To provide some background, gypsy travelers are typically Irish (sometimes British) families who live in colonies of caravans (trailers) around the UK and Ireland. They have their own culture, customs, and ways of life and very strictly adhere to them. For example, allowing their young girls to dress up like prostitutes and grind it out to techno music at their First Communion.

But don't worry. Girls are not allowed to curse, drink, or go anywhere without their parent's permission until they are old enough to be married...which is usually the ripe old age of 16 or 17.

At that point, the bride-to-be does everything in her power to find the biggest, ugliest dress possible for the ceremony. Bonus points if it lights up or has more than 10 butterflies/flowers/crystal disco balls attached.

Just to clarify, the rules are: at age 8 you must wear neon spandex stripper clothes, but by 18 you need to cover yourself up in 200 yards of cheap crinoline. Got it?

All taunting aside, I cannot get enough of this crap. Every week, I sit dumbfounded at what happens in each episode. The clothes alone are feats against nature, humanity, and all that is holy and good in this world. If I could bring one show back to the US with me, this would most certainly be it.

Please, I beg of you: take 2 minutes of your day, sneakily turn down the volume, and watch this clip from the show. You won't be sorry.

Maybe I need to start rethinking my wedding dress? Hmmm....

Monday, February 14

Valentine's Day

Ahhhh February 14th.

Whether you love it, hate it, or hate that you love's here. But please, don't let today divide or define you. Single vs. Couple. Alone vs. Together. That's not what really matters.

Today isn't just about the love, folks. Love is something that should happen every day. You don't need a calendar to remind you how much you care about the people in your life.

The real root of this inane little holiday? Chocolate.

It's alllllll about the chocolate. And you don't need a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife to treat yourself to a piece. (or two. or twelve.)

So from one chocolate-lovin' gal like myself to you, I wish you a day filled with candy bars, cocoa-laced cookies and sugar comas.

Sunday, February 13

52 Flavors Challenge Week 6: Chicka-Chicka-Slim-Shaaaady

(I've been waiting 3 weeks for this chickpea challenge just so I could use that title)

The chickpea challenge has been an interesting one. I tried 3 different recipes and had different opinions on each of them. First up: hummus.

(psssst! Can you spot the fake, plastic lemon?)

Did not like it. Not even a little bit.

This week was the first time when my true pickiness came into play. The smell and texture completely freaked me out. It was cold and lumpy and that last thing I wanted to do was put it in my mouth (that's what she said).

Perhaps if we had simply bought hummus instead of making it ourselves, I would feel differently. Lucky for you, Sean decided this was the perfect opportunity to capture a video of me trying it for the first time.

There are a couple of things you need to know before watching the video though:

1. It is the weekend. Make-up is not mandatory on weekends. Don't be scared by what you're about to see. I'm just keepin' it real, yo.

2. I swear WAY too much. I swore without even realizing it. Swearing is not classy or ladylike kids. Don't do it.

3. In times of turmoil, chocolate is never the answer. Turn to your faith or a friend/family member for help. (Just kidding. Chocolate is always the answer. duh.)
Moving on, recipe #2 was Channa Masala and it was delicious.

Due to my newfound obsession with Indian food, I knew this wouldn't be a problem for me. I used Jenna from Eat, Live, Run's recipe as a starter but made a few changes. I omitted the jalapenos and added spinach. I also used curry powder instead of separate spices.

Earlier this week, there was a slight, errr complication, as a result of it though. Being new to the Indian food scene, I didn't realize the exact effect eating 2 giant bowls of fiber-filled beans and spices before a run would have on me. Oops.

The final recipe came from Angela over at Oh She Glows and it was a sweet potato "salad" of sorts.

The recipe calls for cinnamon, onions, sea salt and coconut oil to be mixed with sweet potato and chick peas. Recipe #3 was just okay. I think next time I'd use this recipe as a base but mix it up a bit. It had a nice flavor to it with the cinnamon and coconut oil, but it was a little dry. I usually roast my sweet potato with garlic, cinnamon and olive oil and I like that more.

It was my first time using Coconut Oil which was exciting, although I had to pry the jar out of Sean's hands on more than one occasion.

(He used to live in Hawaii and misses it terribly. I found him cradling the jar and sniffing it like a crack addict, mumbling something about floral-printed board shorts)

This week with chickpeas has been a good one. It's certainly better for my waistline and sugar levels than last week's dive into the deep end of dessert land. But I can't end the week without taking a minute to talk about this:

This is water that the chickpeas come in. Am I the only one who finds it to be the most disgusting and repulsive thing in the world? A couple of the hummus recipes I found called for adding the drained water from the can into the mixture and it made me want to vomit on the spot.

Ew. Ew. Ew. EW! Please tell me I'm not alone in this. Someone else out there finds that water to be straight up nasty right?

God I hope so.

Next week's flavor: Kale! I won't lie to you, I'm not terribly excited for this one. To me, cooking with kale is like shopping for shampoo. It's not something you really look forward to buying and using, but you know you need to and that it'll be good for you in the end. So to save me from greasy hair and thunder thighs, please send me any and all kale recipes you have!!!

52 Flavors Tally:
Foods I like: 4 (Fennel, Indian, British desserts, Chickpeas)
Foods I dislike: 3 (Figs, Quinoa, Hummus)
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