Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dinner in review

So last night's dinner was absolutely delicious. I even decided to get fancy and crisp up my corn tortillas, instead of just warming them in the microwave.

Even better, the meal lended itself to the perfect next-day lunch. I used the leftover marinated chicken and black beans, and put them on top of a fresh arugula salad with some cherry tomatoes. I also fried some corn tortilla strips for a crunchy topping. And since I've gotten into making my own salad dressings, I fixed a special dressing for my "southwestern salad." Making your own salad dre
ssings are easy - the two things required are oil and some type of acid (either a vinegar or a citrus juice.) Here was my concoction:

MPLT's Soutwestern Dressing
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- A few shakes of cholula (I figured why not - it has vinegar in there... so it helps with the acid)
- A tiny bit of dijon mustard
- A clove of garlic (not minced - just cut and sitting in there)
- Kosher salt
- Cracked pepper

Here was what I packed up for lunch today:

Sure beats a nasty Lean Cuisine!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick fix dinner

I've been (once again) getting bored with my g0-to recipes. It's just really hard to find quick, healthy and delicious dinners that I can throw together at the last minute on a week night.

So yesterday, I was sitting with my big brother (at our fantasy football draft --- more later) and asked him for some ideas. He gave me a good one I'm trying out tonight.

He told me to marinate skinless, boneless chicken breasts in olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice and cholula hot sauce (one of our favorites.) I assembled the marinade last night (along with a jalapeno sliced in half) and let it sit. Then this morning, I threw the chicken breasts in before work.

When I get home tonight, I'll pan-sear it (if we had a gas grill instead of a charcoal grill, I would grill it) on the stove. I'll slice it up, and we'll serve it on warmed corn tortillas (two of my brothers were lamenting how they HATE flour tortillas and how corn tortillas are so superior) along with some fresh chopped tomatoes and avocado and an extra squeeze of lime... and, of course, a side of black beans. I forgot to get cilantro (dangit) - so I'll have to do without. I'm sure Chad will add cheese and sour cream to his.

Sounds like a plan to me! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


My best friend Kel and I both work in public relations. We get daily emails from reporters requesting sources on a variety of topics. We often send the funny ones to each other.

From last week:

Kelly to me:
Name: Cristabelle Tumola (Olive Oil Times)

Category: General
Email: query-j85@helpareporter.com
Media Outlet: Olive Oil Times
Deadline: 05:00 PM EST - 21 August

I am looking for sources for an article about adopt an olive oil
tree programs both in the U.S. and abroad.

Me to Kelly:
The bigger question at hand is how do I get to be a writer for Olive Oil Times?!?!

Kelly to me: Agreed! If only we had names like Cristabelle Tumola!

Me to Kelly:
Gah I know!!!! Soooo jealous. I'll start calling you Kellabelle!

Kelly to me:

The end.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In Dreams

Sometime in the middle of the night Friday night (errr, early Saturday morning I guess), Chad is snoring loudly (while laying on his back.) I wake him up and tell him to roll over.

Uneventful, right?
I thought so too, until the next morning when:

Chad: "I can't BELIEVE you woke me up last night to roll me over."
Me: "You were snoring and I couldn't sleep!"
Chad: "Well I hope you're happy, because I was dreaming about doughnuts and you ruined it."
...insert hysterical laughter from me...
Chad: "Not funny. I had a whole dozen and I was right about to eat one when you hit me."

Oops. Never mess with a man's doughnut dreams!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fantasy Football season is upon is.

You know how I know?

My dad has gone from calling me about once a week to twice a day. The number of phone calls from my dad always correlates with whether or not we're ramping up our fantasy league.

Our draft is next Sunday - we're doing a big Pancakes and Whiskey breakfast. And I'm hopeful my team is going to be awesome.

And Chad has already figured out what we'll do with our winnings:

Chad: "If YOU win, you're allowed to get window treatments for the downstairs. If I win, I'm buying a new receiver."

I'm not really even sure what a receiver does - except has something to do with the television. And I don't really care about a receiver but I super care about window treatments. Maybe that will be all the motivation I need.

My current frontrunner for drapes:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm back...

I had a very nice and relaxing week at the beach - Topsail was beautiful. It was my kind of vacation - no plans, no schedules, not routines. Just did what we wanted to, when we wanted to.

Now we're back home and adjusting to life as we know it. Hopefully I'll get back into the blogging swing of things soon. Thanks for bearing with me!

Friday, August 6, 2010

See ya!

After a very hectic several months, Chad and I are FINALLY taking a vacation.

We're heading to beautiful Topsail Island for a week with Chad's parents. I contemplated taking my laptop with me... just in case... but after hearing there was only dial-up internet at the house we're staying at, I was happy to change my mind. So no MPLT all next week - don't miss me too much.

I'm ready to do nothing but lay on the beach and read a good book. Oops... I mean, go to the beach and play bocce ball with Chad. (Why can't men just enjoy laying out like women? They always need to be entertained.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


There is nothing like a cool piece of watermelon during a hot, hot summer. Watermelon so juicy it drips down your hands and face. You can't eat watermelon neatly.

Chad's parents sent us home yesterday with a watermelon half my size. I don't know what they thought the two of us would be able to do with that big ol' thing. We contemplated sneaking it into my dad's bed on afternoon before one of his 3-hour long power naps. In the end, we decided to eat as much as we could and give the rest of it away.

But here is a watermelon-eating tip. When I was in college, I went along with one of my girlfriends on a week-long babysitting trip to the N.C. mountains for a well-known family in Raleigh. The patriarch of the family one night was giving us all watermelon slices one night, and I noticed him sprinkling a little salt on each piece. I thought that was the oddest thing, but he assured me that just a bit of salt brings out the sweetness of the watermelon even more. And it does! I've eaten mine like that since!

So if you've never tried it before, sprinkle some salt on your watermelon. You'll thank me later!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recipe Review: Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks

I told you last week that I was going to make PW's Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks.

And I did - and it was delicious... with a few minor changes.

1) I used campagnelle pasta instead of farfalle - because it holds the sauce better. I tried explaining this to Chad, but then he said, "Well why wouldn't you always use it... since you always have pasta with sauce?" Then I said, "I would but YOU like plain old spaghetti best... and that doesn't hold the sauce at all." Point for me.

2) I wasn't digging the way PW sauteed the pancetta and kept it in the pan while adding all the liquids. I was afraid it would become soggy. So I crisped my pancetta, and removed it from the pan before adding the leeks. Then I tossed the pancetta back in at the very end, so it stayed nice and crispy. It was a better contrast of textures.

3) I didn't add butter. I didn't really think there was a need for it, so why not save the calories? Chad got mad that omitted the butter step (just like I did when I made this recipe.) Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

4) Instead of all cream, I did half cream and half half-and-half. Yes that's 4 "halfs" in one sentence. Again... save more calories.

Also - a tip for eating: Try to get a bite of pancetta in every bite - to eliminate the need for adding a lot of extra salt. The cheese and pancetta give it all the saltiness you need!

And you notice that I didn't take a picture this time. I'm ashamed of my crappy old camera and I'm going to withhold pictures (for as long as I can), until I can get a D-SLR camera. We're in the process of researching them... so holler if you have one you like!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another wedding weekend

It seems like for the past 3 years, all we've done on weekends is go to weddings.

But, finally, after this past weekend, we're done with weddings for the fo
reseeable future. Not that I don't love a wedding - I most certainly do. But they take a lot out of you. So we'll get to take a little wedding break for now.
This past weekend's wedding was of two of our close friends, Kyle and Emily. Chad and Kyle have been best buds since they were in first grade (I think.)

Here they are:

I got to be really close friends with Kyle (and Chad) in college - and have so
many fun memories with them. Besides that, I fell in love with Kyle's parents - and have stayed close with them since. Chad and I always say the Turners are like second parents... which is funny, because it's what every other person at the rehearsal dinner commented on. And as special as the wedding day was, I've got to say I enjoyed the rehearsal dinner most. It was just such a special night.

I've blogged before about how Chad went to a small Christian school... and has grown up and stayed best friends with those same guys. It has been so much fun to see them
find wonderful, beautiful, amazing women - and to be a part of their wedding days. It's like one big family that keeps expanding.

But at the rehearsal dinner, the guys would take turns standing
up to speak - sharing stories together, but also words of encouragement for their marriage - and the importance of keeping God at the center. It was just really sweet to hear. There was so much love in the room.

Here are some pictures from the weekend!

Go Pack!
With some girlfriends - love these ladies:

My sweet, handsome husband: