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I love top [insert # here] lists.  They’re quick, easy to read, and often filled with fun reasons for going here or there, doing such-and-such and whathaveyou.  I’ve wanted to do one of my own for a while, so here it is:

Top 8 things I’m seriously digging right now

  1. Cold Snap seasonal brew from Sam Adams cold-snap

Aptly described on their website as follows:

“Stirring from the haze of winter, this refreshing unfiltered White Ale awakens its smooth wheat with the bright snap of spring spices.  From the subtle sweetness of orange peel and plum to the peppery bite of fresh ground coriander, the blend of spices creates just the right refreshing kick to signal that spring is on its way.”

Need I say more?  That is me: stirring from the haze of (what some would call) winter.  It may not have snowed much (or almost at all), but here lately it’s been cold, cloudy and rainy more days than not and it’s seriously cramping my style.  If drinking this delicious beer will bring on spring sunshine and blossoms, count me in.

2.   Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist

 breadandwineshaunaniequist

My friend, Ashley, sent this to me after visiting us recently (due to my love for bread, wine and cooking).  It’s essentially a recipe blog in book form.  I love it!  Favorite quote quoted in the book so far:

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.  “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s the same thing,” he said.

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Well-said, Pooh.  Breakfast is most definitely the first thing on my mind when I wake up.  And it’s always exciting.

The author tells stories of her life, family and friends, and ends each chapter with a recipe.  It’s strangely addicting and very well-written.  I highly recommend!

3.   Borden sliced gouda

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I’ve never seen gouda in pre-sliced form before, and it is very. delicious.  Much easier than messing with a whole dang round with its rind and all.  I eat it with sliced turkey, or just by itself, or on these delicious crackers:

Townhouse crackers

Mmmm…

4.   Tosh.0

Tosh.0

I’ve seen this show many times over the years and have always been amused.  Lately, Dr. Matthews and I have been binge-ing out on it now that we have Amazon Prime.  Let me warn those of you who do not know – it is not for the faint of heart… or stomach…

5.   5/2
Yes, the diet plan I previously blogged about where you eat normally 5 days a week, then fast (eat 500 cals) 2 days a week.  This one is a love/hate.  It actually has gotten easier with practice (less headaches, mood swings, etc.), although fast days are still never fun.  Frankly, I love food too much not to do something like this.  Exhibit a: I just ate almost an entire loaf of bread.  It was a mini loaf, yes, but there was also left-over mozzarella chicken pasta involved (recipe for which is below).  I have not gained nor lost any weight and am LOVING not counting calories on feast days.  Ahhh feast days ❤ ❤ ❤

6.   Fruity gum
Sampling of my hoard

Sampling of my hoard

This was spawned by 5/2, as I was in serious need of something calorie-free to chew on during my hunger cravings.  I hadn’t previously gotten really into fruity gums, but now that I have, I have discovered that there are a plethora of options and that they are almost all delicious.

7.   Game of Thrones books

My brother in law is letting me borrow the first 4 and, so far, so good.  I watched the first season and part of the second on DVD and, while I enjoyed the plot overall, I also found it to be a rather dark and morbid series of unfortunate events, with no foreseeable break in the clouds.  I don’t know why I think that reading it will be any different, but I’ve always loved reading fantasy novels so I’m giving it a shot.

8.   Stuff You Missed in History Class

This is a podcast I discovered not too long ago and mostly listen to while running.  The first podcast I listened to was about the real life Laura Ingalls Wilder, and, let me tell you, I was hooked!  And not only because I grew up on and am a big fan of the Little House on the Prairie books.  The hosts are hilarious and endearing, the subject matter is fascinating, and listening definitely makes my run go by more quickly and enjoyably.  Highly recommend.

OK, now that I’ve gotten that list out of my system, on the the recipe.  I’ve recently signed up for blog update alerts from The Pioneer Woman Cooks on the recommendation of my friend, Rachel.  This blog is adorable, entertaining and has a large library of recipes which is added to often.  The following recipe showed up in my inbox on a fast day and, let’s just say it did NOT make my life any easier!  I have wanted to make it ever since and was so excited when we got back from vacation and I had a chance:

Prep Time:10 MinutesCook Time: 15 Minutes Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Penne Or Rigatoni (this was more than enough – you could probably get away with 1/2 lb)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Plus More For Drizzling
  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Small Bite-sized Pieces
  •  Salt And Pepper
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Finely Diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced (or more…)
  • 1 jar (25 Ounce) Good Quality Marinara Sauce (good quality, to me, means not too much sugar.  I found one at a good price at Harris Teeter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley
  • 8 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella, Cut Into Medium Cubes
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Shavings
  •  Extra Parmesan, For Serving
  • 12 whole Basil Leaves (chiffonade) (I had to look this up, but, chiffonade means cutting into long strips – if you go to her website, she has beautifully photographed step-by-step instructions which demonstrate how to do everything, including chiffonading)

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Allow to cook without stirring for 2 minutes, or until golden. Stir chicken around to brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the onions and garlic and stir immediately to start cooking. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden.

Reduce the heat to low and pour in the marinara sauce, red pepper flakes, and the water. Stir until the onions and garlic are mixed in, then add the chicken back into the pan. Add the parsley, stir to combine, then allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 7-8 minutes.

Make sure the sauce is bubbly and very hot, then gently stir in the mozzarella. Let it sit, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes, until you can see that the mozzarella is very soft.

Drain the pasta and pour it onto a platter. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Immediately sprinkle on 1/4 cup Parmesan shavings (or grated Parmesan.) Pour on the sauce, sprinkle with extra Parmesan and the chiffonade of Basil, and serve immediately!

* NOTE: The mozzarella should be very soft but should still be in visible chunks rather than distributed throughout the sauce. It’s better for the chunks to be on the firm side than the falling-apart side! You can always heat it a little more to get the cheese to the consistency you want.

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta

I pretty much did this recipe exactly as instructed (which is somewhat unusual for me) and it turned out DE-licious!  Loved the chunks of mozzarella and just added a bit of salt to taste.  I didn’t even serve a salad or a side with this, as I wanted my whole entire meal to be just this dish.

Was this meal worth fasting for?  Yes.  Were the left-overs, plus almost an entire loaf of bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, plus my favorite Rodney Strong cabernet sauvignon (thanks to Ash’s parents!) worth fasting for?  Abso-fruitly.

Hope you enjoyed the top 8 and will try this wonderful recipe.  Happy weekend, ya’ll!

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