Chicken Panini

June 30, 2011

When Steven and I moved in together we had to basically had to start from scratch for everything in our apartment. I was lucky enough in college to always have best friends/roommates who had furniture, plates, pots, pans, etc. that we could use! This was great until Steven and I realized we would be spending a lot of money on basic items right after our wedding. Luckily, our amazing family and friends came through again with some great wedding gifts that we use regularly!

What might you think does this have to do with a chicken panini? Well... one of these gifts was an awesome panini maker! Not only do I use it to make panini's, but I cook chicken and veggies on it too.

Calphalon Grill and Panini Press
So last night I was at the store deciding what to make for dinner and I decided a panini was the way to go. For this sandwich I used thinly sliced chicken breast from our local deli, a red pepper, a red onion, an avocado, a smidge of ranch, swiss cheese and sliced italian bread.

Chicken panini ingredients 
First I plugged in the panini maker so it could heat up, then I chopped up the veggies!

sliced avocado (yum!)
Next I threw the sliced red peppers in a pan on the stove with a little EVOO, extra virgin olive oil. I flipped the slices until I could see the skin start to get cooked (my quick version of roasting them).

red peppers
swiss cheese, sliced chicken, avocado, red onions, red peppers

DIY Paper Banner/Circle Bunting

June 29, 2011

Last weekend a few friends and I hosted a shower for an amazing couple (two of my and Stevens best friends) who are getting married in November! One of the things I knew I wanted to contribute to the party was some decorations. I had seen different versions of paper bunting/banners online, got some ideas of what I wanted and then figured out what would work best for me to make for the party. Here are some cute ideas I found online.

Banner ideas -- yellow on left -,  mixed paper in middle -,  cupcake liner banner -
For the shower I decided I was going to go more with the look of the yellow banner above. To make the banner I grabbed a paper punch and different color card stock. I then spent one episode of the bachelorette punching out circles (lets face it this season isn't that engaging).

Paper punch
Paper circles and scraps

Etsy loves pork chops and so do I!

June 24, 2011

So you have seen a little bit of my love for Etsy in my Etsy Love and my first Etsy Finds Friday posts. Today is a little about Etsy, but mostly about my love for pork chops!  Before I get into the recipe for one of my favorite things to cook, breaded pork chops, I wanted to share a few Etsy Finds.

The first one is an awesome print by Etsy seller Drywell. Alyson, the artist, has some really creative prints that diagram animals and the different parts of their bodies. This particular print is a charcoal rendering of a pig, and for pork chops what is more relevant than a pig print! :)

Charcoal Pig Butcher Diagram Print by Drywell

My next Etsy find was this felted pork chop by YummyFelts (what an appropriate name!). This would be cute for a little chef or some of YummyFelts fruits would be sweet in a glass or ceramic bowl in the kitchen. As a side note - I think felting is the coolest thing and would love to learn the basics one day!

Felt Pork Chop by YummyFelts

Okay now that I have my Etsy fix for the day on to the actual recipe.

Here are the ingredients:
- 2 (or however many, the size can vary but each person will usually eat one) bone in, center cut pork chops
- 1-2 cups of bread crumbs (I usually go with Progresso Italian Style Bread Crumbs, and the amount will depend on how many pork chops you are making)
- 1 bottle of Italian dressing (I will typically grab our local krogers zesty option)
- 2-3 eggs
- some apple sauce (optional)
and a pyrex or other pan to bake in

breaded pork chop ingredients

The first thing to do is to marinate the pork chops in the Italian dressing. Sometimes I will throw them in a gallon plastic bag then just throw it in the fridge. If I don't use a bag I will put some dressing on the bottom of the dish, place the pork chops and then brush more dressing over it. Once this is done I will put the dish, or the bag, in the fridge for a few hours.

Italian dressing
dressing brushed on

New Napkins!

June 20, 2011

In an attempt to be more of a grown up, I decided we needed real napkins in the apartment. Whenever Steven and I have people over for dinner parties we would always use whatever paper towels or napkins we had around. After deciding that wasn't very "adult" I have been on the look out for awesome napkins, nothing to bland, for a while. Nothing really piqued my interest until I walked past these dish towels at Target.

Target dishtowel
First I cut each dish towel in half, then I ironed the raw edges down, and used my sewing machine to sew a hem essentially.

Once I was done with that I ironed all of the creases out.... I was bad and actually should have pre-washed and ironed the dish towels before cutting and sewing them but what can I say? I am a rebel! :)

finished edges
New napkins in the cutest owl napkin holder I found!!
I think the new napkins are great! For next time I am thinking maybe dish towels into pillows??

Bikram Yoga!

June 18, 2011

This week I had my second experience with hot/Bikram yoga! The studio I go to is Red Hot Yoga in Atlanta and I love it! I had been wanting to try hot yoga for a while but the the price tag has kept me away ($15 dollars a class, really??). When groupon came out with a deal of 10 classes for $35 I jumped on it. One of my best friends Carol to get the same deal and we decided we would go together.

Red Hot Yoga

The first time I went to class was last week and I really enjoyed it. It was an experience different than any I have had before and even as someone who doesn't do yoga, I felt like it was a good workout.

The first time I went Carol was unable to make it so I went alone, but this last week she came with. Carol blogs about our experience here, complete with before and after pictures! :)

One of the cool things about this yoga class is that at the end the instructor read an excerpt from The Book of Awakening.

The Book of Awakening
The story the instructor read was "The Spider and the Sage"...

"In India, there is a story about a kind, quiet man who would pray in the Ganges River every morning.  One day after praying, he saw a poisonous spider struggling in the water and cupped his hands to carry it ashore.  As he placed the spider on the ground, it stung him.  Unknowingly, his prayers for the world diluted the poison.

The next day the same thing happened.  On the third day, the kind man was knee deep in the river, and, sure enough, there was the spider, legs frantic in the water.  As the man went to lift the creature yet again, the spider said, “Why do you keep lifting me?  Can’t you see I will sting you every time, because that is what I do.”  And the kind man cupped his hands about the spider, replying, “Because that is what I do.”"

Many people struggle to be kind in a world where so many bad things happen and where some people may seem to be evil... You are more likely to find someone who will turn the other way when a stranger is suffering rather than help, like the man did in the river. However, I was actually reminded on my way to yoga that there are still some people who are caring and selfless when someone in the car in front of me payed for my toll on the freeway. I think we could all use a daily reminder to be tolerant and considerate because that is what we should do and even the smallest gestures can be kind to another.

Free Hugs

What random act of kindness have you done recently?

Etsy Find Friday!

June 17, 2011

Since my hours of searching Etsy do not seem to be coming to an end any time soon I have decided to dedicate a post every Friday to my Etsy finds! Today's Etsy post is about address labels. I know it's not the most exciting thing, but since Steven and I decided to stay in our apartment for another year I thought a rubber address stamp would come in handy. (In fact, I now wish I would have bought one sooner!)

Besides saving the 20 seconds it takes to write out an address stamp, an address stamp would be great because I have what some people call 3rd grade boy handwriting, and I thought it might help the mailmen (mailpeople?) out.

This self-inking rubber stamp is one of the first ones I found. It is by Etsy seller Lovetocreatestamps and is about $40 with shipping. What I really liked about this stamp was how it looked hand written or like calligraphy.

Calligraphy Address Stamp
As I am never one to buy the first thing I see I had to keep looking! I really fell in love with this second stamp because it was so similar to the first, but with almost 3 times the price. This calligraphy stamp is by Etsy seller plurabelle and is about $140.

Calligraphy address stamp
The third stamp I found was super cute, but not a great option for Steven and I. It was a little too feminine but if I was a single gal I would have bought it in a second! This stamp is by Etsy seller Studiolsai and is $45.
Flower address stamp
This next stamp is by the last Etsy seller Studiolsai. This stamp is a little more modern than the last 3 with a modern print that runs down the side of an envelope. As cute as this stamp is the $65 price tag is a little steeper than I was planning on spending.

Geometric address stamp
The last stamp I really liked is another modern version that actually reminds me a lot of our wedding programs and invites. I love the square shape, the dots, and the font. Etsy seller foryoo does a great job and with the price of $25 with shipping there isn't much to not like about this stamp!

wedding program that Steven and I designed
Modern dot address stamp
So which stamp did I get? Wait and see...

The day the straightner died...

June 16, 2011

Just imagine the title of this post sung to the tune of the "American Pie" cover by Madona.

First let me say that I love(d) my straightner! It was amazing and I had it for 4 years and it never let me down. This isn't the exact flat iron I had, mine was similar but in gold.

Chi Flat Iron

The tragedy of my straightner began about 3 months ago... Steven was throwing me a Gatorade from across the room and since I apparently have no hand-eye coordination I completely miss the drink and it lands in the (im)perfect position to crack one of the sides of my beloved Hai straightner.

cracked hai

Now for most people this might not be a potentially life ending event, but for me it was. I have somewhat wavy hair and have been referred to as a lion (by Steven) when I wear my hair naturally curly. (Okay, a lion is not completely accurate, its more like a wet lion...)

wet lion by Chiara Cecchinato
The depressing part for me was that a broken straightner meant that I was no longer wearing my hair straight everyday... and when I didn't have time to curl it with a curling iron that meant I was wearing a bun :)

straight hair
half lion hair!

Okay - maybe the "lion" hair isn't that bad, but I was still dieing without my straightner and didn't really want to spend $90ish for a new one. So after 3 months (I know I am a procrastinator) I finally got fed up enough to do something about it. I grabbed some super glue and decided to see if it would be what I needed to fix one of my favorite hair tools.

super glue and broken straightner
Now, I wasn't very optimistic... I have used super glue for a number of other things, including gluing a rhinestone to Stevens ear to look like an earring for a Jersey Shore party(!), but didn't think it would hold a ceramic plate in place when its job was to heat up to 300 degrees. 

To my amazement, after a few weeks the glue held, the plate still heats up, and my straightner is as good as new! I love the fact that I was able to save about $85 by attempting to fix this issue before going right out and buying a replacement!

good as new!

Woohoo! I love projects that are cheap and save me money!

Scrumptious Salmon!

June 15, 2011

Since getting married I have made a serious effort to learn how to cook. When I was in college, or living with girl-friends after I graduated, my go-to meal was always Purdue Perfect Portions chicken breasts and some sort of veggie. While this was not a terrible meal, it was actually pretty healthy, it definitely got old after a while.

One of my cooking goals for this first year of marriage was to learn how to make fish. I love eating different types of fish at restaurants, but I have never attempted to make it at home. For some unknown reason I have always been scared to try. In the vain of trying new things I picked up some salmon fillets (or breasts as I accidentally referred to them) to bake in the oven.

In addition to the salmon, I grabbed a lemon at the store and pulled some white wine, olive oil, herbs, and garlic powder from my cabinet at home.

salmon, herbs, white wine, lemon, EVOO

To start off I drizzled a little EVOO, extra virgin olive oil, on a piece of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Then I placed the salmon fillet on foil and dripped another light layer of olive oil and some white wine on top.

EVOO & white wine :)

Next I sprinkled the salmon with some extra herbs I had in my cabinet and a smidge of garlic powder. I topped it off with a squeeze of lemon and then put it in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes.

lemon and herbs

5 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of sitting around later we had some very scrumptious salmon!

I added a little bit of green bean casserole on the side and we had a great dinner!

scrumptious salmon with some green bean casserole!

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