Monthly Archives: November 2012

Creamy Rice, Chicken & Spinach

Total time: 35 minutes

This one’s really simple, easy, and tasty!  

What you need:

  • ¼ cup KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing*
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips, or bite-sized pieces, whichever you prefer
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 4oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Neufchatel Cheese, cubed (it’s essentially just low fat cream cheese)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) baby spinach leaves
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or you can use cherry tomatoes cut into halves, which is what I prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese

 Make it:

 HEAT dressing in Dutch oven or large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in broth; bring to boil. Add rice; stir. Return to boil; cover. Simmer on medium heat 5 min.

ADD Neufchatel; cook 2 to 3 min. or until melted, stirring frequently. Add spinach. (Pan will be full.) Cook, covered, 1 min. or until spinach is wilted. Stir gently to mix in spinach.

REMOVE pan from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 min. Stir in tomatoes; top with Parmesan.

*Note: You can really use any type of dressing that you would think is tasty.  Once I was out of salad dressing all together so I used Buffalo wing sauce, and it turned out great.  

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What I’m Thankful For


Several of my friends, starting on the first of November, posted on Facebook one thing they are thankful for each day, and I didn’t do it, but I thought it was a good exercise in thinking about (or at least looking like you’re thinking about) what you’re thankful for.  So, I want to take a minute and list 22 of the things I’m thankful for, to make up for not doing it along the way.

I’m thankful (in no particular order):

  1. that I’m alive and kickin.
  2. that I’m healthy.
  3. that I finally have health insurance in case I ever become less healthy!
  4. for my apartment that’s warm, cozy, and feels like home.
  5. that I have enough free time to write a blog.
  6. for all of the technology I have that makes my life so much damn easier than it could be.
  7. that I have a family that stressed the importance of education to me and my brothers, and who didn’t leave going to college as an option.
  8. that I went to a small liberal arts college first before moving on to a big research institution.
  9. that I had professors that not only had faith in me, but made me enroll in harder classes, rewrite papers over and over again, and ask the harder questions – all to make me better at what I do.
  10. that I was confident enough to follow my passion (trying to understand humanity) as my career, even if it won’t come with a big paycheck.
  11. that I have a family who’s okay with that decision!
  12. that my hard work at Valdosta State University paid off and I was able to get a scholarship at SUNY Buffalo for my PhD (didn’t need any more student loans piling up!)
  13. that I always have enough to eat (which is good since I love food).
  14. for all the opportunities that I’ve had to travel to many different places.
  15. for all the memories that I’ve made in the past 25 years – the ones that make me chuckle to myself when I’m stressed out in the library.
  16. that I am a pack-rat and I keep way too much stuff, from scraps of paper, to random forks, to every single movie ticket stub, because then I can go through it all – like I did a few nights ago – and relive all of those memories!
  17. for the coffee I’m drinking as I’m sitting here.
  18. for the big, comfortable bed that I reluctantly got out of this morning.
  19. for all of my friends – in all of the different countries – who I’ve shared Thanksgiving with over the past several years.  They’re what makes not being able to go home okay :)
  20. for all of my friends – the ones I’ve had since second grade, and the ones that I’ve only made in the past two and a half years.  They keep me sane and keep me from losing all faith in humanity.
  21. that I found my partner and best friend, who I love, who loves me, and who makes me know that life is going to turn out great.  And I’m especially thankful that he puts up with my ornery ass.
  22. And most of all, I am thankful for my big, loud, and sometimes ridiculous family.  I’m thankful that while we may not be “traditional” in every respect, both sides of my family instilled in us traditional values: respect for ourselves and for others; compassion for those less fortunate and for those who live life differently than we do; a strong sense of responsibility to ourselves, others, and the community; humility tempered with a good dose of self-confidence to go through life, standing up for what’s right and helping to solve situations that are wrong; and most of all: love that acts as the foundation for everything else; it’s a love that sends you handwritten cards, just because; that makes you homemade meals when you come home; that sends you “candy money” even when you’re 25 years old; that worries about turning “your” bedroom into a guest room even seven years after you moved out; that mails boxes of goodies and a Christmas tree across the Atlantic Ocean to make sure that have “that Christmas feel” while you’re studying abroad; that drives 400 miles to watch your play, football game, or awards ceremony; that “likes” everything on Facebook, no matter what; that would rather support you as you pursue your dream 1,100 miles away instead of encouraging you to live closer to home.

So, that’s what I’m thankful for today, and every day.  I know that I got lucky to have all of these things, and that some people don’t get to experience them all.  But, I’m thankful that my family is so open and willing to share that ‘family feeling’ with everyone that comes our way (and I think we have more “honorary” grandchildren, cousins, children, and siblings in our family that we do actual blood relatives)!

So, I hope you all have a good day and enjoy spending it with whomever you’re with!  I’m about to head to the kitchen and do my part for a Turkey Day feast :D

Happy Thanksgiving, Yall!

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Spicy Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir

Makes 2.5 cups.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • Large pinch of Chinese five-spice powder*


  1.  Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cranberries and fresh ginger; stir until cranberries begin to burst, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add wine and sugar; boil until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add crystallized ginger, curry powder and five-spice powder.

Serve sauce cold or warm.

*How to make your own Chinese five-spice powder.  You’ll need: 

1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 star anise
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

Method for homemade powder:

In a dry skillet, roast peppercorns by shaking the pan over low to medium heat until the aroma of the peppercorns is released (about three minutes). Grind the roasted peppercorns and 4 star anise in a blender or pepper mill. Strain the blended seasonings. Mix in ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and ground fennel seeds. Grind the seasonings until very fine. Store in an airtight container.

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Keep on Reading!

Since my partner’s gone to see his family for a few weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on reading for my qualifying exams. Just in case I have any interested folks out there, here’s what’s on my current reading list:  (to see Section One of my lists, go here.)

Modern European History:

  1. Waldstreicher, David. In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
  2. Applegate, Celia. Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn’s Revival of the St. Matthew Passion. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005.
  3. Todorova, Maria. Imagining the Balkans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  4. Mazower, Mark. The Balkans: A Short History. New York: Modern Library, 2002.
  5. Winter, Alison.  Mesmerized:  Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
  6. Geison, Gerald L. The Private Science of Louis Pasteur.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
  7. Kern, Stephen.  The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918.  With a new preface by Stephen Kern.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.
  8. Schorske, Carl E. Fin-de-SieÌcle Vienna: Politics and Culture. New York: Knopf, 1979.
  9. Coen, Deborah R. Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty: Science, Liberalism, and Private Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  10. Schwartz, Vanessa R. Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
  11. Eksteins, Modris. Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
  12. Mosse, George L. Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Modern German History:

  1. Thomas Nipperdey, Germany From Napoleon to Bismarck
  2. Matthew Levinger, Enlightened Nationalism:  the Transformation of Prussian Political Culture, 1806-1848
  3. Lother Gall, Bismarck:  Der weisse Revolutionär
  4. Jonathan Sperber, Rhineland Radicals:  The Democratic Movement and the Revolution of 1848-1849
  5. Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials:  The German Idea of Heimat
  6. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, the German Empire 1871-1918
  7. Vernon Lidtke, The Alternative Culture:  Socialist Labor in Imperial Germany
  8. Geoff Eley, Reshaping the German Right:  Radical Nationalism and Political Change after Bismarck
  9.  Helmut Walser Smith, German Nationalism & Religious Conflict:  Culture, Ideology, Politics, 1870-1914
  10. Margaret Anderson, Practicing Democracy: Elections and Political Culture in Imperial Germany
  11. Lora Wildenthal, German Women for Empire, 1884-1945

The History of Sexuality & Gender: 

  1. Duberman, Martin, Martha Vicinus, & George Chauncey, eds., Hidden from History:  Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past (1989)
  2. Abelove, Henry, Michele Barale, & David Halperin, eds., The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (1993)  
  3. Rosario, Vernon A.  ed., Science and Homosexualities, (1997)
  4. Rupp, Leila. Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Women (2009)
  5. Plummer, D.  One of the Boys:  Masculinity, Homophobia, and Modern Manhood, (Harrington Park Press:  1999).
  6. Stryker, Susan.  Trangender History (Seal Press, 2008).
  7. Lancaster, Roger N.  The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture (2003)
  8. Laqueur, Thomas, “Orgasm, Generation, and the Politics of Reproductive Biology,” in Thomas Laqueur, ed., The Making of the Modern Body:  Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 1987).
  9. Boyd, Nan Alamilla and Horacio N. Roque Ramierez, eds.  Bodies of Evidence: the Practice of Queer Oral History, Oxford Oral History Series, 2012.
  10. Angelides, Martin.  A History of Bisexuality (2001)
  11. Herzog, Dagmar.  Sexuality in Europe:  a Twentieth-Century History (2011)
  12. Houlbrook, Matt. Queer London:  Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957 (2006)
  13. Walkowitz, Judith R.  City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London (1992)
  14. Clark, Anna. Desire: A History of European Sexuality (2008)
  15. Healey,Dan. Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent (2001)
  16. Vicinus, Martha. Intimate Friends:  Women Who Loved Women, 1778-1928 (2006)
  17. Trumbach, Randolph. Sex and the Gender Revolution: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London, (1998)
  18. Kennedy, Pagan. The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution (2008)
  19. Mosse, George L. Nationalism and Sexuality: Respectability and Abnormal Sexuality in Modern Europe, (1985)
  20. Marcus, Sharon.  Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England (Princeton, 2007).
  21. Tampagne, Florence.  A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939 (2004)
  22. Ruehl, Sonja “Inverts and Experts” in Judith Newton & Deborah Rosenfelt, eds., Feminist Criticism & Social Change:  Sex, Class, and Race in Literature
  23. Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, (1980)
  24. Martel, Frédéric.  The Pink and the Black:  Homosexuals in France Since 1968 (1999)
  25. Merrick, Jeffrey and Bryant T. Ragan, Jr., eds. Homosexuality in Modern France, (1996)
  26. Bunzl, Matti.  Jews & Queers: Symptoms of Modernity in Late Twentieth Century Vienna 

And on my Kindle, for a little bit of pleasure reading before I go to bed (if my brain’s not completely mush): Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (I’ve still got mixed feelings about it).  

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Chicken & Vegetable Tortellini Soup

Prep time:  35 minutes (Ready in about 7 hours 35 minutes)


2 medium carrots, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bit sized pieces

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped (or one cup of sliced celery)

1 19oz can cnnellini beans, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

14 oz chicken broth

2 cups water

1 (9oz) pkg regrigerated cheese-filled tortellini

1 cup firmly packed fresh baby spinach leaves

2 green onions, sliced

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

parmesan cheese


  1. In a 3.5 to 4 quart slow cooker, layer carrots, garlic, chicken, fennel (or celery) and beans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour broth and water over top, stir to combine.  (When I made this, I followed the original recipe and put the beans in at the beginning.  But 7 hours later, they had essentially disintegrated, so I would suggest not putting them in until the last hour or 30 minutes if you want to have any beans with texture.)
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. About 20 minutes before serving, stir in tortellini, spinach, onions and basil (I added some red pepper flakes in, too, for a little spice).  Increase heat setting to high; cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until tortellini are tender.  Sprinkle individual servings with parmesan cheese.

Notes:  I checked mine after about 6 hours and 45 minutes and the chicken was already done, and the carrots had just the right amount of crunch that I wanted, so I went ahead and added the other ingredients and cooked for 20 more minutes and was done.  So, depending on how strong your crock pot is, you may not want to let it go the full 8 hours; you may risk everything getting too mushy. 

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Just a collection of nerd-itity that I thought you all might like.  And, have patience – I saved the best for last.

I’ve still got mine: 

a Potter Proposal: the Unbreakable Vow

This happens all the time:

I do love alternate endings!

Here is my childhood (also, my favorite TV shows)

Cant wait to try this!

Some famous historical pictures with color added:

True history:

And are you ready for the climax? The ultimate crescendo of epicness….Nerds, UNITE!

Categories: Humor, Nerdgasm | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Sweet Potato Tacos

I stumbled across this recipe this past summer and love it.  It’s great when you’re looking for something different for supper, and the sweet potato mixture warms up well the next day.


Sweet potato mixture:

  • 1½ Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 large poblano chili or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 medium orange sweet potato, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

To serve:

  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Chipotle sauce
  • Pico de gallo (optional)



Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to pan, then onion and poblano chili or green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized. Stir in garlic and 1 tsp. salt.

In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato with remaining ½ Tbsp. oil and ½ tsp. salt. Add to skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then place pan in oven and roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare tortillas dorado: Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush 1 side of a tortilla lightly with oil and place oil side down in pan. Scatter a generous spoonful of cheese over center of tortilla and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly golden on the underside but still flexible. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese.

Remove skillet from oven and stir in black beans and black pepper (beans will warm through from the heat of the pan). Top each tortilla with sweet potato mixture, a drizzle of chipotle sauce, and a spoonful of pico de gallo (if using).



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Mix n’ Match Enchiladas

Don’t mind how ugly they look. They taste like the manifestation of the word “Mmmmm!”

I grew up eating a lot of authentic Mexican food and absolutely loved every minute of it.  Since moving to Buffalo, though, I haven’t even found a decent Mexican restaurant, let alone someone to cook me cow tongue tacos in their back parking lot.  But, I digress.  My partner and I got the craving for some Green Chili (Salsa Verde) Chicken Enchiladas a few weeks ago, so we started scouring the internet for recipes.  What we found was an astounding number of different ways to cook these damn things.

But then we got excited, because we realized that this was one of those dishes that could be tweaked and customized until the cows come home.  So, below are a few different ways we’ve made enchiladas lately (yeah, we’re that type of people that get a craving for something and then eat it repeatedly until we’re sick of it).  So, thanks to Mexicans for providing us with one of the most delicious, saucy, cheesy, scrumptiliumptios dishes known to man!


You can customize these all you want, but some of the essentials are:

  • Burrito sized tortillas
  • 1 jar salsa verde (green chili sauce)
  • 1 pack shredded cheese (pepper jack, colby jack, cheddar, whatever)
  • 2-3 chicken breast/thighs cut into bite-sized pieces, OR a couple of cans of chicken if you’re lazy or in a rush,  OR 1 lb ground beef (if you’re going the whole carnivore/omnivore route)
  • a large onion
  • any other seasonings you want
  • maybe some beans
  • maybe some Rotels (canned diced tomatoes with diced chilis)

If you want to be a BAMF and make your own salsa verde, you can follow this guy’s recipe here:



  • Preheat oven to 350
  • If you’re using uncooked chicken or beef, you’ll want to cook/sear it in a pan.  Chop up the onion and throw them in there with the meat and olive oil so you get some good flavor.  I life to leave about half of the onion in slices instead of diced up small.  Put any seasoning you want in this while it’s cooking: cayenne pepper powder, garlic pepper, even Cajun seasoning.
  • After the meat is cooked, poor about half, or even 3/4 of the salsa verde in with the chicken, and keep on cooking until some of the salsa has evaporated and cooked into the chicken (it just shouldn’t be very soupy).
  • When that’s done, take a plate or a wide dish and pour some of the salsa verde in it.  Take a tortilla and flop each side in that plate full of salsa.
  • Then spoon the chicken/beef/onion/delicious mixture onto the center of the salsa verde-coated tortilla. Sprinkle some cheese on top.
  • In a 9×13 baking dish, spoon some of the salsa verde on the bottom so that the enchiladas don’t stick while baking.
  • Then, wrap up your topped tortilla tightly and place in the baking dish, with the seal down.
  • Repeat until you’ve used up all of your mixture or tortillas – whichever comes first.
  • Then, once your baking dish is full, pour the left over salsa verde and meat/onion/salsa mixture over the enchiladas.  Make sure they’re covered nicely; you don’t want the tortillas to get all crispy and hard while you’re baking.
  • Finally, cover with shredded cheese, and bake it for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Then stuff your face.  You can serve it with anything you want: salad, refried beans and rice, or nothing at all.

So, that’s the way we made them the first time.  Here is how we made them tonight (we made a couple of variations, including a vegetarian version):

  • We didn’t have any chicken to cook, but we had two cans of cooked chicken breast and a can of cream of mushroom soup. We threw those in a pot and cooked them together, adding curry powder, Cajun seasoning, ginger powder, & garlic pepper.
  • But, here’s a side note: this mixture turned out to be pretty damn salty, which I’m not a fan of.  Not sure if that came from the canned chicken, cream of mushroom soup, the curry powder, the mixture of all of them.  So, if you choose to go this route, go easy on any salt.  If you want to come up with this mixture without the mushroom soup, maybe just use some of the salsa verde.
  • While you’re cooking the enchilada mixture, pour your salsa verde in another pot and heat it up.  We both like our food to have a spicy kick – which the salsa doesn’t have when you buy it – so we threw in some canned chilis and cayenne pepper powder.
  • And then you just follow the directions above on how to assemble them, put them in the baking dish, and bake.

And a vegetarian take on enchiladas:

  • Again, there’s a number of ways you could make this vegetarian.  Use beans or sweet potatoes, for example.  Tonight, we ran out of chicken, but had a can of kidney beans (but any type of beans will do!).
  • So, we drained our beans, and threw it in with a (drained) can of Rotels (a staple in our pantry), heated it up and used that as our enchilada mixture.  And I liked them better than our curry chicken enchiladas!

Now, go forth and make enchiladas!

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Nanny’s Dishpan Cookies

My Nanny’s the queen when it comes to baking, and my Papa’s the one that reaps the benefits.  She’s always coming up with new cookie and candy recipes, and we’re there to pass judgement.  It seemed that with each new batch we had a new winner, and it wasn’t any different with these.  But I think she set the bar too high with this recipe, and they’re definitely my favorite cookie.  They’re called “dishpan cookies” because this recipe makes so much dough that you have to mix it in a dishpan (or some really huge bowl).  Since the recipe makes anywhere from 48-60 cookies (depending on how big you make them), it’s perfect for the holidays or for any party where you want to share a lot of goodies without doing a whole lot of work.


  • 2 Cups light brown sugar
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 Cups Oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups quick oats
  • 4 Cups cornflakes
  • May also add nuts and raisins if you want…and why wouldn’t you want to?


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a very large bowl or dishpan, cream sugars, vanilla, oil, and eggs. Add flour, soda, and salt. Fold in oats and cornflakes (and nuts and raisins if you’re using them).
  3. Use a spoon to drop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheets. This batter might be a little dry and you may have to moosh it together with your hands to get it into a ball when you put it onto the pan.
  4. Bake for ten to twelve minutes or until edges are lightly browned. If you want them to be chewy, bake a little less, crispy, a little more.

 *This freezes well both as a dough and as a finished cookie.*

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