Monthly Archives: December 2013

Things I’d like to improve upon in 2014

Christmas tree

I’m going to be cliche and go ahead and share some of my New Year’s resolutions with you, although I like to look at them as ongoing goals. 2014 is right around the corner and although I’m not being too hard on myself, there are things that I want to change and improve upon in this new year. I have some short & long term goals that I’d really like to make happen. Many of my short term goals are a means to reaching my long term goals. Continue reading

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An Ina Garten dinner


I love Ina Garten. I love her show, own two of her cookbooks and just think she’s pretty much one of the most fabulous people around especially when it comes to entertaining and anything food related. Lately I find myself reading through her cookbooks at night looking for recipe inspiration. I often just use recipes to come up with my own ideas and wind up changing them completely but this time I pretty much followed the recipes exactly. I decided to make Ina’s mustard marinated flank steak and her green beans gremolata.

green beans

I am actually really picky when it comes to both steak and green beans. Steak has to be really tender and easy to chew. I can’t stomach it when there are any bits of gristle or fat. I actually rarely eat steak because I’m too particular about it. I’m also particular about green beans. I find they can sometimes be really bland and also really easy to overcook. Some people, like my dad, prefer green beans that have been cooked a long time but I find that this usually just makes them too mushy for my taste. So, needless to say I was skeptical about both of these recipes in Ina’s book. I was intimidated to cook with flank steak because it’s considered to be a tougher cut of meat usually and I’ve never had much luck with tenderizing it enough for my taste. I also was nervous that the green beans would be boring and not flavorful enough. I was wrong on both accounts. The marinade for the steak really DID tenderize it. It also gave the steak a ton of flavor. The gremolata for the green beans was a really interesting concept and one that I will use again on many different vegetables. It gave the beans so much flavor! The two dishes also went perfectly together and were simple to make. Continue reading

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Easy steak & black bean quesadillas

quesadilla 3

Mmm…Quesadillas. These quesadillas are my go to quick, easy and satisfying dinner. What’s not to love about a warm, crispy tortilla oozing with melted cheese and meat or vegetables? The awesome thing about quesadillas is that they are incredibly versatile. You can stuff them with just about anything as long as you start with a tortilla and cheese. You could leave out the cheese but why on earth would anyone want to do that? Plus its the glue that holds the quesadilla all together. So, scratch that. You cannot make a quesadilla without cheese BUT you can make them vegetarian or use chicken, shrimp, beef or any other kind of filling you prefer. Continue reading

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The Happiness Project


I recently finished the book “The Happiness Project”, by Gretchen Rubin. It took me a long time to finish it but I finally did. It was an interesting book and so the content really had nothing to do with the time it took me to finish it. I love to read but lately I just find that for some reason I always wind up on the couch watching TV during my down time instead of picking up a good book. It’s a habit I want to change. Reading makes me happy and it’s something I want to make time for which is one of the points in her book (make time for fun) so it’s fitting to mention here.

Gretchen Rubin makes many good observations about happiness and her book is jam packed with great advice on how to be happier. She points out that trying to improve your own happiness isn’t necessarily a selfish goal. It turns out happier people are more likely to help others and less focused on their own problems. Also, helping others is a sure way to make yourself feel happier. This book is full of interesting aspects I never took into consideration about happiness and although Rubin makes many good points about happiness and gives a lot of great advice throughout the book, my two major takeaways from the book were one of her “personal happiness commandments” to “Be Gretchen” (or in my case “Be Stephanie”) and the other was one of her resolutions to cultivate gratitude. Continue reading

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