Archive for May 2010

31 May 2010

Weekend kitchen adventures: Summer recipes!

By: Jessica B.

Now that summer is right around the corner and I’m spending more time in the kitchen, I’m trying to mix up my dinners to try some summer-appropriate recipes that won’t make my apartment too much of a hotbox.

And because the last two weeks were crazy, I took the long Memorial Day weekend as a time to do the following: cook, relax, clean and get my closet organized. Fun!

Actually it was. And I decided to make two recipes to get me back in the kitchen and keep those cooking skills sharp.

I made pizza again (similar to this one) and it turned out really well.

Silly me took a pre-oven instead of post-oven photo. Oops.

Fact: Homemade pizza is definitely starting to become one of my favorite things to make.

Then I made my kitchen adventure for this week, which sounded incredible: Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Mango Salsa from Cooking Light. Right now, I’m loving all sorts of summer salsas and despite not being a huge mango fan, I’m willing to give it a try!

Plus, I’ve never cooked with pork, so it’s two adventures in one.

Here’s how it turned out and the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2  (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2  cups  diced peeled mango (about 2 large)
  • 1  teaspoon  grated orange rind
  • 3  tablespoons  diagonally sliced green onions
  • 2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh orange juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground cardamom
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil

Preparation:

Cut each tenderloin crosswise into 8 pieces. Place plastic wrap over pork; pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; repeat procedure with remaining pork.

Combine mango and next 6 ingredients (mango through cardamom) in a bowl, stir and serve.

Verdict: Yummy, light and flavorful

I really liked this dish. The pork was tender and juicy and the salsa was light but had a nice citrus flavor. I excluded the cardamom and coriander because I couldn’t find it but added in red onion and parsley flakes and I still thought it tasted great. The OJ really added a lot too! I was a little bummed the pork didn’t brown as much as I hoped, but it was still tasty.

What are some of your favorite summer foods? How was your long weekend?

New movie review: Sex and the City 2. Can the girls keep the magic alive?

27 May 2010

The next vacation for one

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food, travel

May has kicked some serious a**. I went to Nola, Vegas, Conan‘s tour and Glee all this month and as I look ahead to Memorial Day and June, I’m thinking: what’s next??

That’s right, I still have more vacation time to use.

And now that my solo Nola vacation went so well, I’ve decided to take another solo trip this summer and I’ve already started looking into a big trip next year too.

Seriously, traveling alone rocks. And now that I know I can do it, there is no stopping me!

So here’s where I’ll be having my second vacation for one in late June:

NAPA!

Hmm, I can smell the wine now. It’s my favorite kind of juice! Napa has been on my travel wish list for too long and rather than wait for another year, I said “f*ck it” and started planning. And before going to Napa, I’ll be stopping in San Francisco for a few days. I absolutely cannot wait! It’ll be a nice week in California full of wine and relaxation.

Sadly, this trip overlaps with the release of the new Twilight movie Eclipse so I can’t do a midnight showing with my Chicago crew (sad face!) but I’ve recruited a certain blogger to join me for Twi-hard-ness in California :)

This will likely be the last big trip this summer but I’ve already started dreaming bigger for 2011.

That’s right: Europe. I haven’t been to Europe since 2000 and in an effort to check more things off my life list, I am focusing on going to this city:

ITALY

When I lived overseas, I wasn’t able to visit Italy and really regretted it and now that I don’t have to stay in awful hostels, I’m ready to see it and soak in some pasta, wine and history.

This is really up in the air, but it’s my goal to go there!

Does anyone else have vacations planned this summer? Any big Memorial Day weekend plans? I cannot wait to RELAX and catch up on movies!

Review blog: Cirque du Soleil’s Ka! I’m a huge Cirque fan and got to check this out while I was in Vegas!

26 May 2010

Glee live in Chicago!

By: Jessica B.

It’s official, I’ve seen the scariest fans ever. No, they aren’t Twi-hards or Trekkies, they’re teenage Glee fans.

And they’re taller than me too. FAIL.

Tonight was the first of two Glee concerts in Chicago (part of a four-city tour) and ever since I heard it was coming to Chicago, I was determined to go. And after some drama, negotiating and tears, I scored two floor seats. YES!

TC and I sacrificed watching the Lady Gaga episode live to see the show and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

The show was AH-MAZING.

Really, the staging, singing and costumes were awesome. We even got to see Bad Romance live (thanks Perez for the tip) and it was insane. Everyone was on their feet but no one was really dancing….except TC and me, who literally sang, screamed and danced the entire time. People must have thought we were insane but we shut it down. Fo sho.

Here are some photos! Note: So that I don’t ruin everything for the New York fans, you can see more photos on my Flickr page.

After the show, TC and I were going to the car when we saw people gathering at the stage door, so we joined for a little bit, hoping to catch a glimpse of the cast. And then the screaming and pushing started because my man, Cory Monteith (Finn) was like, right there, and I thought I was going to be trampled to death. No joke, having girls pushing, pulling at your clothes and body to get closer, was kind of scary. But I emerged safe and in one piece…and with an autograph :)

TC and I even went back into the mess for her man, Mark Salling (Puck) and boom, there was another autograph on the program.

It was pretty f*cking exciting :) And yes, Cory is smoking hot in person (OMG HOT) and Mark was pretty cute too. So awesome.

The entire night was worth every penny, tear, pleading email and hours spent researching to get us there. I’ll be on this high for a few days.

Also, big thanks to Chicago’s I-90/94 express lane for getting us to the show quickly in rush hour traffic!

What about you, did you get to see Glee on Tour? Or what is your favorite Glee song?

24 May 2010

Weekend recap: Vegas!

By: Jessica B.

Happy Monday everyone. Yes, my blog schedule is a little wonky this week because I’m having a Vegas hangover.

What is a Vegas hangover? Well, it’s when you take a day to readjust to non-Vegas life where you can’t buy a 40 oz Miller Lite or mixed drink for $20 and where you have to dress normally and not pull out your “high self-esteem” outfits that cover just your nips and lady area.

Yes, I actually indulged in a “high self-esteem” outfit, more on that later.

This weekend was the second annual Bloggers in Sin City trip to Vegas, but this year, 60+ bloggers made the trek from all over the US to go wild.

If I had to describe the weekend in two words, they would be: crazy and fun (the “and” doesn’t count toward the two words)

So let’s take this piece by piece:

Hotel:

This year, we stayed in the Flamingo’s new wing and it was SO NICE. Holy cow. The beds were crazy comfortable, we had a nice view and the bathroom was insane. It had a hot pink light (perfect for a night light) and a TV in the mirror. Wha? I need that at home.

Food:

I don’t consider myself a foodie but I like to go out for a nice meal (or two) and try new things. Fortunately, my awesome roommate Working Girl Two feels the same way and on our last night, we went out to graze at two really nice places: Todd English’s Olives (at the Bellagio) and Stack at the Mirage.

Here’s what we had!

Olives – Butternut Squash Tortellini with brown butter, Sage and Parmesan cheese (heaven!!) and meatlovers flatbread with Parma ham, chorizo, onions and cheese

Stack – Homemade jelly doughnut munchkin holes (I had this last year and went back specifically for this. It’s THAT good). WG2 also let me sample on her penne prosciutto, truffle and Parmesan pasta (this is also beyond incredible)

Debauchery:

Saturday night, the group dressed in costume for a “I Just Came From a Theme Party” party and Lacey, Katelin and I went in PJs. This is a brilliant idea because we got to dress comfy and could literally crawl in to bed after. And with a little liquid courage, I wore out the skimpiest PJ outfit out, consisting of this top and boxer shorts from Old Navy. I must have been out of my mind.

I’m too modest to put a picture of the full thing up here (and I don’t want to blind you with the fat/pale skin on my legs) so here’s one to show you part of it. Thank god I was drunk and this picture turned out super cute.

Also, Katelin introduced me to the slots and with a $2 investment, I made an $8.75 profit. What can I say? I’m a high roller :)

All in all, it was a fun weekend and a rough adjustment coming back. Thank you to Nicole for organizing this and to the other bloggers for coming! It was so nice to meet so many new people and get to see some of my long-time bloggy buddies!

How was your weekend? What do you love about Vegas?

19 May 2010

Conan’s Legally Prohibited tour!

By: Jessica B.

Conan’s Legally Prohibited tour is in Chicago for two nights and I’m purposely staying up late to tell you all how awesome it was.

For real.

I may be biased though because I love Conan. I’ve been a rabid big fan of his since his former late show on NBC. On my first-ever trip to New York, I requested tickets to his show and got them every night we were there (this was before he was hot.) I love his sense of humor, interview style and overall zaniness. Plus, a masturbating bear? Genius.

I faithfully watched his former late and Tonight Show episodes and when the whole Leno/Conan drama went down, I was hard core on Team Coco.

And with a little luck from Twitter and Ticketmaster, I was fortunate enough to get tickets. And then jump/prance around like a little kid.

So before I head back to pack and get some sleep before leaving for Vegas, I wanted to share with everyone some photos from tonight’s show!

Kendra, Robin, Lauren and me outside the theater (yes, it was packed)

Chicago Theatre marquis

Screen image, yes!

Musical number (Conan did a lot of these)

Andy showed up! And so did a self-loving friend from his NBC show

John C. Reilly showed up to pull the Chuck Norris lever (it was hilarious)

Finale Rockabilly number (yes, that is a huge inflatable bat)

What was really cool after that last photo was Conan rocked out in the audience and even ran up the balcony to give the people in the high seats a treat. Awesome.

Conan said his goal for the evening was to have us leave and feel like it was worthwhile experience.

It totally was :) I left laughing and smiling and I cannot wait to see him on TBS in November.

Are you a Conan fan? I know it’s early to ask too but does anyone have big plans for the weekend? I’m off to Vegas but I promise to behave (maybe!)