Monday, July 30, 2012

Chicken as Unhealthy as You Can Get It

Growing up, did you have a favorite meal that you'd request for your birthday or special occasions? This next recipe is one that I would generally pick for my birthday. Not sure why.... with things like steak, or ....steak (he-he, can you tell my choice now?)

My brother and I ate out quite a bit growing up so I think after a while a home-cooked meal was more a treat for us. My mom still questions how my brother and I know how to cook, and wonders where we picked up our desire to try new recipes. My mom is actually a wonderful cook (when she does it), but she cooked more for efficiency; cooking for an army so we could eat off of leftovers for the weeks to come.

One story we always love to tell is about how McDonalds had a deal when the quarter pounder when the burger turned 25 years of age. McDonalds limited the amount of burgers you could buy at one time to 50, so we would order 50 at the drive through, freeze them and live off them until they were gone. I was about 16 at the time, so luckily my metabolism was working in my favor! As for nutrition? Well, at least we never have gone hungry!

I pulled out this old favorite of 'Chicken Wrapped in Bacon' since the chicken was super on-sale. I'm not really sure where the recipe originated from, but I always requested it for my birthday (along with rice-a-roni and broccoli). I was pretty pumped to be able to use my chives from my patio garden! They are definitely growing like crazy - my next project is to figure out the best way to keep them so I can keep them for the winter until planting again next summer.

Chicken Wrapped in Bacon 

2-lb chicken (we ended up getting the family pack, and I cut each breast in half)
1-lb bacon
Cream Cheese
Butter (if you'd like)

Cut each breast into a size that you'd like for each portion. Beat until flat and able to shape around dollop of cream cheese and chives. In this case - I didn't want to splatter chicken juice all over my kitchen, so I beat it flat a bit, but then dug a hold in the middle and wrapped the chicken around the cream cheese filling.

this looks like a lot of chives, but once they were cooked down, they really lose flavor - so I say add a lot!

Next, I wrapped the bacon around the chicken and laid so smooth part of chicken is facing up. Make sure the majority of bacon is on top so that it cooks more (otherwise bacon may stay too raw). place small piece of butter on top if you'd like.

Make sure to put the majority of your bagon on the top because it gets a bit less-cooked under the chicken.
Also, I didn't do this, but if you like your bacon more cooked,
microwave the bacon to cook it a bit before you wrap and put in the oven.

Finally - Bake at 350 for about an hour. Adjust based on the size of your chicken.

I apologize! Once the sun goes down the images I take with my bad kitchen lighting turn out pretty awful! :)

Hope you enjoy this recipe! It's super easy as far as ingredients. We ended up eating pretty late since it takes some time to put the chicken together, but it's worth the time and effort. Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

B-cycle, We cycle

Chad and I gave in! We signed up for the local b-cycle! For those of you who don't know what that is, there are stations now all around downtown Madison with b-cycle bicycles that Trek has installed around town. It's pretty convenient for if we are out for a drink, or wanting to head to farmers market, but it's not super close to my house (takes about 10 min to get to) so I couldn't justify signing up initially.

Chad received a free membership through work and after looking into it I realized that my membership would only be $20 since I work for the university - score! So I shelled out the Jackson and am so glad I did! After an afternoon of sailing (I finally took Chad out!) we headed to state street for a bite and jumped on a bike back to my place.

I have to say - they are a really nice ride! Also, they have this cute little bell that Chad managed to find immediately and ring the whole way home. Guess we are the best marketing for Trek! My favorite feature? The huge basket that lets you throw tons of stuff on the bike. I always seem to be carrying at least 2-3 bags wherever I'm going so this is quite a nice feature.

 I was amazed at how easy it is to check these puppies out! We received our cards in the mail, which means all you have to do is touch this metal tab on the station in front of the bike you want. You then wave your card over it so it senses it, and the bike is immediately unlocked and good to go! I also believe they have lights on them that automatically turn on, but have yet to ride them in the evening.

As for turning them back in? Just push them into the stall, hear the lock engage and you're on  your way - so easy! I'm sure I'll be writing more of my adventures since I've signed my lease for another year! That means another winter and summer in my place, at least! I sure love it here - always so much to do when you're right downtown Madison.

What has been your favorite adventure this summer so far?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Patio Garden :: Before & After, July 2012

Well, here is my comparison! You be the judge - successful, or not? It's been a tough year for the plants. I have been watering everyday, but am worried I'm going to kill them all when I head on vacation in August. Hopefully we will get some rain before then!

 I'm pretty happy, overall, with how things have gone. I was a pretty lazy gardener. Most of my herbs bolted (no, they didn't run, but they definitely didn't produce as long as I thought they would; live and learn!) but they are definitely getting huge and loving life. My tomato and peppers are also producing some great looking peppers. I need to replant the small pot of peppers, and I've been pretty lazy gardener in this respect.

My major obstacle so far has been the Japanese beetles. They love my brown potato vine plants and have definitely ate most of them, turning the leaves into skeletons. So far I've been picking them off manually and drowning them in soapy water. I'm hoping the carcasses will be an example to the ones that are still eating my leaves. The next step to fighting them off is to get a trap, but I haven't made the effort to do this yet. Maybe this weekend, but I'm not sure if it's too late for these plants?

On a brighter note, my flowers are absolutely gorgeous! I haven't been able to sit out and enjoy them at all since it's been so sweltering hot out, but I sure enjoy admiring them when I'm watering each morning. My next step is to shape them? I'm clueless to this, but everything is looking  a bit overgrown. Does anyone have any pointers on the best way to do this, or should I just keep being lazy and let them grow as they are?

The good, the bad and the ugly: Here are my flowers and veggies along
with the Japanese beetles and the destruction they have created.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: The things we do for fun

Here is a long awaited tidbit Tuesday that's a little bit of random fun. A while back I traveled to meet my new nephew in San Antonio. Chad couldn't get off work to go along, but before I left he challenged me and said, "before you get on the plane, draw a picture of me." I quickly replied, "OK-I'll bite!"

I almost forgot to actually do it, but remembered as they announced the 'turn-off-electronics' that they always do. I quick whipped out my note pad, drew Chad's portrait in like 5 min., and sent a photo from my iPhone before the flight attendant made her rounds. After looking at it, I was even pretty impressed that I could draw it so quickly from memory. Usually, that's something I'm not able to do, but I guess I have Chad's features engrained. Also, it probably helped that I drew sunglasses and a hat instead of his eyes and hair :)

Looking back - I love that he came up with a challenge like this. So original and yet so fun. I guess that's why he's the guy for me: he's good at challenging me and I believe we do a good job of making each other better!

In case you don't know - here is what Chad looks like!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sewing a Success so Far - YAY!

My sewing class is coming to a close! This week was the 2nd to last class and I finished the 1st of the two bags that I was working on. I have to say, I'm very excited with how it turned out and people seem to be impressed. I'm not sure if that's because they didn't expect much to begin with, or if the bag really looks that good! ;)


Here is the image of my completed project! I have to say - I'm pretty happy with the fabric I picked out. Everyone in the class did the same pattern, but each fabric choice was so different. Everyone really did a great job of making these their own. The class was a great learning experience and hopefully this is the first of many bags that I will be completing!

I have one more class next week where I hope to tackle finishing the 2nd bag I've been working on - watch for that reveal soon to come! I also hope to learn how to sew on a button and hem some pants. This has been a long-awaited project because I have a pair of pants that I button with a safety pin. I also have a pair of amazing black slacks that I've had about 5 years and never actually worn because they are about 3 inches too long, even with heals.

We shall see how far I take this sewing thing! I highly recommend the class to anyone - it was much easier learning than I anticipated and I'm so impressed with the finished product! They also may have a class on making a t-shirt blanked that I'm so hyped for in the fall. I have had this bin of shirts collected since college that I have so been waiting to make into a blanket!

It feels so good to complete these projects! I'm that much closer to opening my own Etsy store - YAY! Here's some more picts:

The inside pockets are practical and I love the zipper - it works great with this fabric!

The fabric rocks!
It worked out really great with the 2 patterns and the weight is heavy and soft yet durable.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Art and Science of Being Lazy

I know this blog is called C.Jane.Do, but sometimes you just gotta be lazy! So, I'm sharing one way I love to unwind and a few of my major vices. Today, I needed to catch up on my watching of The Bachelorette. This show and a few other trash reality are some of my favorites to unwind and enjoy being mindless! I don't typically watch TV live if I can help it. It's such a nice convenience to be able to watch what you want when you want it, so I either stream Netflix or watch things on Hulu when I can.

Even though I have a smart TV, Hulu is only free when you watch from a computer, so I work-around this by hooking my laptop up. This is actually a pretty easy thing to do: Just get an HDMI cord (you can get them for about $10 if you Goodle them.) I also purchased a Mini DisplayPort® to HDMI® Video Adapter Converter. I believe I just Googled for the cheapest I could find with free shipping and it ended up under $20 as well.

Here is my typical set-up. I would like to spurge on a longer HDMI cable one of
these days so I can sit on the couch and still use the laptop while watching tv.

You can check Amazon for good deals on these cords. typically.

One tip - in order to get the sound and the screens to set up correctly for viewing. Go under System Preferences and adjust your Display settings from 1 to 2 screens. Also, go into sound and adjust so that it comes out your television and not your laptop. I have a Macbook Pro, so this is what works for me, but you may need to get an adapter that works with your machine. If you're really lucky your laptop has an HDMI outlet on it. If you're really really lucky, you can hook your laptop to your TV wirelessly. I believe my TV has this capability, but I haven't figured out how to do it with my Mac yet. Please let me know if you know a secret I don't!

What goes well with crap TV? Crap food! I whipped up a frozen Tombstone pizza and grabbed a 6-pack of Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. Don't tell (I still can't believe I did this) but I ATE THE WHOLE FLIPPING PIZZA! And, I drank 2 beers. Luckily I don't do that too frequently. That pizza just tasted SO GOOD! Gotta live life, right? I guess this was good motivation for getting to the gym for the rest of this week!

What's your vice and favorite way to be lazy?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Breakfast treat and Veggie Side: I'm convinced they're Healthy-ish

I have to admit - I pride myself on being a master of banana bread. Its pretty often that I find that I have 3 leftover, ripe bananas and I'm quick to whip up my very simple recipe. But, I've come across this new recipe that includes whole wheat flour and flax seed. Total bonus - this is the power grains that I love that actually fill me! So, this breakfast is not only filling, but a treat. That is great for me, since I'm a total sucker for cafes and coffee shops and anything that can keep me from spending money on breakfast treats is a win-win!

Banana Chip Scones:

Original Recipe Location
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats, ground in food processor
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup golden milled flax
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips, plus additional to sprinkle on top
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, ground oats, rolled oats, milled flax, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the stick of butter into chunks and add to the dry ingredients.  Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry mixture.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and use a fork to gently combine until all of the dry ingredients have been moistened.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and pat to form an even layer. Use a knife or a bench scraper to cut wedges in the dough (I tried to cut 12, but the dough was sticky and I wound up with only 10).  Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until set in the middle and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the scones to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan.  After cooling, use a wire rack to flip the scones out of the pan, then transfer the scones to a plate/platter, flipping the scones again so that they are right side up.  Use a knife to cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Later in the day I made this side to go with some chicken that I had leftover. I love that it's packed with veggies I don't typically eat.

Summer Squash Mushroom Casserole:

Lots of chopping, but this recipe is super fast.

I threw all the good/bad ingredients in a bowl to add the veggies to.

The saute didn't take to long - just enough to soften them a bit. I didn't want them to end up mushy.

To save on more dirty pans, I threw in and crushed the crackers in the same pan I sauteed the veggies in.

Dump the whole thing in a bake pan and then smother the top with the crackers.

Success! I loved this with the salad and chicken. Plus, it gave a nice 'comfort food' aspect to this plate.

  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers (about 25 crackers)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
In a large skillet, saute the summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and onion in oil until tender; drain. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture, cheese, soup, sour cream and salt. Transfer to a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. Combine cracker crumbs and butter. Sprinkle over vegetable mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.  
Yield: 10 servings
 Nutritional Facts 2/3 cup equals 234 calories, 16 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 36 mg cholesterol, 564 mg sodium, 14 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 8 g protein.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Family Circus Weekend in Madison!

You know how in the Family Circus cartoons how they show the kids going all over the place on a trek that should have taken a fraction of the time? I'm not sure that this tour could have been avoided, but here is a map of our crazy Sunday extravaganza! It was a day that was not planned - something I don't typically have happen, but boy did it end up being a fun-filled day!

Chad and I began the day at his place and went to late church service. This was great because we could enjoy the morning waking up slowly (one of life's greatest luxuries!) I made this awesome Banana Chip Scone Recipe - look for the recipe later this week. It goes great with coffee and the morning paper or a Sudoku puzzle.

After church we headed back home since Chad noticed something on his shorts and wanted to change them. That's usually me who spills all over themselves! He then humored me by going with me to check out a local vintage flea Market on the east side. Some of the vendors looked pretty awesome so I wanted to check it out since I've never been to one before. On the way, I happened to spot out a cafe that some ladies in my sewing class work at: Crema Cafe.

As soon as I saw it I said, "Turn here, I'll buy you brunch!" I guess, "I'll buy" are magic words because he followed without any resistance. It was a cute cafe - we both ordered the scramblers which were a perfect portion, but a bit light for the $8-something cost. The deal-getting inside of me and Chad usually go for the quantity, or amazing quality. While this dish was very tasty, I don't think I'd make my way out here just to eat for the price. It does have quite a nice view over the lake though.

We then made our way to the flea market. It had some pretty awesome dishes and furniture that I really enjoyed seeing. Also, they had the toy sets that totally brought me back to my childhood. One of the vendors a friend tipped me off on which in-turn tipped me off to this flea market. I just love the furniture that she redoes! She has a great eye for furniture form. I aspire to redo furniture as one of my future projects!

Check out Booth 121 - she does amazing work!
They day was just getting started - we continued on to Dick's sporting goods because Chad had a great idea for us to play some tennis. Neither of us have racquets right now, so we splurged on some cheaper ones that can get us started. Of course we also needed to run to the grocery store to get some Powerade since it still warm out.

Back in the car - we're off to head to my neighborhood where they have some nice courts to play on. It's great how Wimbledon inspires you to get out and play! We managed to get in a few sets and definitely improved as the play went on. We culminated our tennis adventure when I managed to roll both ankles. Luckily they were very mild, but it shook me up a bit so we called it for the day. I come from a long history of ankle rolling. My most recent had me out for about a year so I attempt to be very careful to prevent anymore as much as I can. For next time, not only will I wrap my ankles, but will be sure to wear my flatter/wider cross-trainer shoes instead of the running shoes I was sporting (not smart!)

I was glad to get a shower and put on the pj's early to settle in for a relaxing evening after our fun day. I tried a new recipe to go along with our leftover chicken. It was full of veggies and went great with the salad I made from the lettuce I've been growing in my garden! I'll post the recipe for this Summer Squash Casserole along with the breakfast Scones later this week. Hope you all had a great weekend with your own adventures - Thanks for reading!

This was a great side dish - sort of a comfort food for the summer!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Concerts on the Square for the 4th of July

Happy belated 4th! I hope you celebrated and got to partake in some form of a fireworks show. This year was a bit hot, to say the least. If you're in the Midwest you know that we've been regulars to the heat and humidity in the area of 90-100 degrees.

I was still sick with a sore throat and went to the doctor on the 3rd for some needed relief. After a week of torturous razor-blade pain in my esophagus I was over it and ready to try anything to relieve the pain. He gave me some wonderful medication and told me I have a cancer sore on my throat to top it off for good measure. No wonder this thing has been lagging around for so long! He also gave me this great gungy paste that is quite uncomfortable because it just sits in your mouth. I'm not complaining because it works wonderfully and seems to be diminishing the pain and size of my throat sore.

So, drugs in hand - I partook in a few of the 4th of July festivities. Our morning was a parade in Deforest, Wisconsin with my family. A tradition that we have done for over a decade now, we all meet by the bowling ally with chairs and sip bloody mary's while enjoying the local festivities. My uncle plays in a band - so that's always a fun site to see!

The evening was pretty special and something I was really looking towards. The holiday happened to land on a Wednesday - the night when Concerts on the Square always takes place. I love the music - very patriotic or full of American inspired music like Gershwin and songs like "Oh, Shenandoah". This year didn't disappoint - and there was a nice breeze so it wasn't too steamy! Only thing missing were the actual booms when they performed the "1812 Overture". They usually shoot them off one of the buildings, but I guess with it being so dry this year they went with a dubbed version. Ah well -  it was gorgeous weather and a nice, relaxing night and memory out. If you do anything when you come to Madison, definitely try and make it someday for the Concerts on the Square. They never disappoint!

Everyone comes with friends/family/loved ones and picnics while the orchestra serenades.

Chad and I enjoyed some nice sandwiches and a few cold beers. We definitely avoided cooked food on this hot evening!

I never get tired of a view of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Best Remedy for Helping a Sore Throat is....

This last week has been quite an event. I'm not one to get sick very often and I pride myself on high pain tolerance, but this week I was a total, useless baby. Prone to strep throat, when I had a wretched sore throat on Tuesday I immediately took it easy and tried to rest to see if it would go away. On Wednesday, when the pain still persisted incessantly I called into work again, but also got right into the doctor.

I know the drill with Strep - get swabbed and they give you good drugs that fix you in about 2-3 days. Sadly, I did not have strep which is probably worse news (even the doctor admitted) because there's not much you can do for just a sore throat except rest, try to find releif for the pain, and wait. It's like when you get a sprained ankle - same thing. They can't really do anything and all you can do is rest. My advise: if you are going to hurt your ankle really go and break it because then you can at least get some help from modern medicine.

I know the immediate remedies for sore throats. My grandma and mom always say gargle with warm salt water. This idea totally seems like torture in my head, but when I got around to actually doing it it paid off. Not long enough to keep with the relief, but it defenitely put my tonsils in check.

So, is this post just to blog about my pathetic week of pain? No. I actually feel like I am somewhat of an expert on the different options on how to remedy a sore throat. This week I've definitely tried everything. Early on I burned through a whole pack of those freezy pops. I happen to be a huge fan of these things - they got me through some stifeling summers as a lifeguard, but they were definitely only temporary as far as feeling better.

Ibuprofen was what the doctor suggested to ease the pain. I take this as a whole barrel of whoopla. This drug didn't seem to do anything for the pain. I'm not a pill popper, but I was downing about 4 per 4-6 hours and am not sure that this remedy did anything. I however did continue to take it because I know this helps keep the swelling down. Even though I couldn't tell pain-wise I am hopeful that this at least could help the sore throat go away sooner. Who knows.

Next on the list is Cloraseptic spray and throat losenges. I bought what looked to be the best at the drugstore. They even said things like 'maximum strength' and 'for sever sore throats'. By this time, about Thursday, I was back to work and didn't want to waste anymore time beating around the bush. I needed relief so I could get my life back on track from all the resting I did the two previous days. These were great for instant releif. Although, they lasted about as long as it takes to open your mouth and say something or eat a snack. Everyone also says drink lots of water. As soon as I took a sip, the relief from the spray and losenges did was immediately washed away. I think this wraps up most of what I've been throwing down my throat this week.

There was one remedy that stood out that I was hesitant to try. But, now five days into this pain without any site yet of it ending I went to church and prayed to be healed. I then desperately went to the grocery store and wrangled up the odd concoction that my friend recommended. I pleaded for help on facebook a few days ago and most of what is above was recommended. A few friends mentioned honey and lemon, but this recipe took it a bit further. These ingredients seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum as far as triggers for my tastebuds. I feel like throwing them together and putting them down my throat is like putting all of them into a boxing ring and trying them to beat each other out to the death. Amazing thing is they seem to work! While downing this concoction is a bit difficult. It stings and even with my tolerance for heat, seemed to make me sweat. But, it killed two birds with one stone with that I'm consuming water and also finally am getting some releif.

Altought I'm not yet cured, I finally feel like something is happening in my throat. Plus, this 'tea' doesn't taste half bad. You've heard it here - try this remedy first. You definitely won't regret it and it's probably a lot cheaper than the drugs that only help very temporarily. Hopefully I'll finally be cured by my next post! Who knew sore throats were so exhausting! It's like when Luke Skywalker blew up the deathstar. Just attack the nucleus and the whole planet goes down :)

And the remedy recipe is:
Lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne, and Honey Tea

Who knew putting these ingredients together could work so well!
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • juice of 1/4 a lemon
  • 1 tsp honey

    Warm up and drink. Four cups a day is suggested.
Please know that this has yet to actually cure my sore throat, but it is so far my favorite remedy. Hope it helps! Please let me know of any other options that I haven't listed.
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