Thursday, July 31, 2014

Playlist: July 2014

As yet another busy month comes to an end, I'm sitting here scrambling to come up with a great playlist to share on this blog.  I usually like to have some sort of theme, though I guess "shit I like" is just as good a theme as any.  (Right?)

While this playlist definitely falls under the "shit I like" category, I decided to take it a step further.  In honor of the awesome show I went to last night (more on that in a future post!), I've decided to share some of my favorite songs by bands and artists I've seen live.

Some things you should know:

1.  I've been to a lot of concerts, so this playlist definitely doesn't cover every band/artist I've ever seen.

2.  To make this a little more interesting (okay, this probably only makes it more interesting for me but whatever), I'm testing my memory and only including songs that were played at a show I attended.  Since I've seen some bands multiple times, that makes remembering songs from at least one of the setlists a little easier.  Others ... Not so much.

3.  All of the bands/artists included on this list are fucking amazing live.  If you have an opportunity to see any of them, don't hesitate ... Buy a ticket immediately!

And now for the good stuff:

Click on the link below to listen to this playlist.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Sriracha Chicken Stir Fry

Eric and I love Asian food.  Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, sushi ... We love it all.  When it comes to making Asian style food at home, though, I'm not overly confident.  I can put some simple things together, but I never quite get the flavor combinations to match what I'd get in a restaurant.

Today's recipe is no exception.  Even though it didn't live up to my expectations, it was still a good meal.  It was simple to put together, healthy, and tasty.  I think in the future I'll make more sauce (I like a lot of sauce and the recipe as written didn't have as much as I'd want).  I may also continue to play around with the flavors a bit.  As I said, it was a good meal ... I just think it could be better.

I was pretty proud of my plating.  Maybe Gordon Ramsay would approve?

I decided to share this recipe on my blog anyway because, while it's not perfect, it's good.  It's a quick meal for a busy weeknight, and I would definitely make it again (with a few changes).

Sriracha Chicken Stir Fry

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Stephanie Cooks.

Ingredient List (Chicken Marinade):
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee brand)
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp light brown sugar

Instructions (Chicken Marinade):

1.  Mix all ingredients (except for the chicken) in a small bowl.

2.  Add the sauce to the chicken breasts in a gallon size Ziploc bag.

3.  Toss several times to ensure even coating and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour up to overnight.  (I let mine marinate for 5 hours.)

I think the dish looks nice even with frozen vegetables.  Or, as Gordon Ramsay would say, "Fresh!  Vibrant!"

Ingredient List (Stir Fry and Sauce):
  • 1 package Steamfresh frozen whole green beans
  • 1 package Bird's Eye frozen broccoli stir fry blend (this blend includes onion, broccoli, red bell pepper, celery, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and carrots)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups cooked basmati rice

Instructions (Stir Fry and Sauce):

1.  Add the olive oil, ginger, and garlic to a large skillet and cook for approximately 30 seconds over medium high heat.

2.  Remove the chicken from the Ziploc bag, discarding any leftover marinade.  Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until lightly browned on both sides.  (It's okay if the chicken isn't completely cooked through at this point.)

3.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and place it on a cutting board.  Cut it into bite-size pieces, then return the chicken to the skillet.

4.  Continue cooking the chicken over medium high heat until the pieces are completely cooked through.

5.  Add all vegetables to the skillet and turn the heat down to medium.  (Feel free to use whatever vegetables you like, fresh or frozen.  I just listed the types I used.  Side note: I don't like celery or mushrooms, but the Bird's Eye blend didn't have too many of either.  I'd suggest this blend if you want to go the easy route and use frozen vegetables.)

6.  Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally until all vegetables are cooked through.

7.  As the chicken and vegetables are cooking, mix the water, Sriracha, soy sauce, and flour in a small bowl.

8.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables in the skillet and mix thoroughly.

9.  Turn the heat down to low and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit.

10.  Serve with cooked basmati rice.

Healthy, colorful, and slightly spicy ... Yum!

As you can see from the pictures, I served this meal with a couple of frozen appetizers: crab rangoon and spring rolls.  We'd never tried the frozen ones before, and they were surprisingly good (especially the crab rangoon).  I might try to make my own sometime in the future, but these worked well as a quick side dish fix.  (I'm usually terrible with side dishes, so at least these made the meal more interesting.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Things I Should Like But Don't: Part 4

I've already written three posts dedicated to things I should like but don't.  If you missed those posts and feel like reading them, they can be found here, here, and here.

I feel like there are a ridiculous amount of things that fall under this category for me.  Because of this, I've been giving each item its own post instead of trying to cram a bunch of things into one extremely long post.

This installment covers something I wish I liked, but just can't bring myself to actually want to use: E-readers.

Image courtesy of

I can understand the appeal of E-readers like the Kindle.  They're great for people who travel frequently, want to save space, or want to purchase (and receive!) books with the click of a button.  But, as much as I want to, I just don't like them.

My mom offered to buy Kindles for Eric and me a couple of years ago for Christmas.  He was kind of like, "Eh, I might use it or I might not."  I, on the other hand, responded with, "I'm definitely not interested."  Call me old fashioned, but I love to hold a book in my hands and flip through the pages.  I also love the smell of books (and no, I'm not kidding).  A Kindle will not be able to recreate those things for me.

And what about book shopping?  I've always loved the feeling I get when I go to a bookstore (new or used, it doesn't matter) and stroll up and down the aisles, thumbing through any books that spark my interest.  I do order books on Amazon regularly, but I still would never completely replace the experience of in person book shopping with online book shopping.

I wish I wanted a Kindle.  I really do.  I have tons of books, and my collection continues to grow.  I'm sure at some point I'll need even more bookshelves to house them.  I also love to travel, and a Kindle would be so much easier to tote around than a thick, heavy novel.  Additionally, I'd never have to wait impatiently for my books to arrive from Amazon again.

Maybe one day I'll learn to embrace this technology.  Until then, E-readers just aren't my thing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Creamy French Onion Chicken and Pasta

I've been craving the flavor of French onion soup (or even a good French onion dip) lately.  Since it's the middle of summer, I wasn't really in the mood for a hot bowl of soup.  And chips and dip isn't really a meal (well, it probably shouldn't be).  So I decided to start searching online for some French onion inspired dinner recipes.

I finally came across a couple of French onion pasta dishes (one was actually adapted from the other!) that sounded amazing.  I decided to tweak some things and combine some elements from each of the recipes to create my own version ... And it turned out surprisingly well!

Melted cheese, crunchy Panko, pasta, chicken, asparagus, and onions combine to create a rich, flavorful meal.

Creamy French Onion Chicken and Pasta

Adapted from recipes on Cassie Craves and Stephanie Cooks.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 box penne (I used a 14.5 oz. box of wheat penne, but you can use whatever you like)
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup Marsala wine, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 1-2 bay leaves (I used 2 small bay leaves)
  • 1/2 lb. asparagus spears, cut into thirds
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 packet dry French onion soup mix
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Brown sauces don't always look incredibly appetizing, but this was so good.


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3.  Melt the stick of butter in a large skillet.  Add the thinly sliced onion, garlic, and bay leaf (or leaves, if you're using more than one).  Cover and cook over medium low for approximately 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  The onions should be soft and caramel in color when they're done.

4.  While the onions are cooking, add 1 tbsp olive oil to another large skillet.  Cook the chicken chunks, turning frequently until no longer pink.

5.  Add 1/2 cup of the Marsala wine to the chicken.  Cover and cook over medium low heat for 5-7 minutes.

6.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and add the chopped asparagus pieces.  Drizzle with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, and place the baking sheet in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned.

7.  Meanwhile, add the penne to the boiling water.  Cook according to package directions until al dente and drain.

8.  Once the onions have finished cooking, discard the bay leaf (or leaves).  Stir in the flour until evenly coated.

9.  Add 1/2 cup of the Marsala wine, packet of dry French onion soup mix, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

10.  Pour in the heavy cream, and stir to combine.

11.  Add the chicken and asparagus to the large skillet with the onion sauce and stir well.

12.  Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray, and add the drained pasta to the pan.  Stir in the onion sauce mixture, stirring several times to coat the pasta as evenly as possible.

13.  Top the pasta and sauce with the shredded Gruyere cheese.

14.  In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp olive oil with the Panko breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle this mixture over the cheese.

15.  Set the oven to broil (I used the low broil setting), and place the dish in the oven until the breadcrumbs brown and the cheese has completely melted.  This should only take a few minutes, so make sure you check it a few times!

If you like French onion flavor, I highly recommend trying this recipe!

I know it sounds like a lot of steps, but this really isn't a difficult recipe.  A lot of things are going on at once, but it's not overwhelming at all.  This recipe does require a lot of dishes (which sucks when you're cleaning up after dinner), but it's so good that it's worth it.  I served this with a side of steamed green beans, though I think a salad would also be a good option.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What's the Rush?

This picture is from our wedding last November.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I got married last November.  It was a huge moment for both of us, changing our lives forever.

Here's the thing ... I was in no rush to get married.  At 29, I was definitely not a "young bride."  While tons of other women I knew were tying the knot by age 25 (or younger), I kept wondering, "Why make such a permanent commitment to someone at such a young age?"

One could argue that Eric and I have been together since June 2007 and have been living together since March 2011.  There was obviously a real commitment there, and it was obviously a serious relationship.  But there's a huge difference between dating (even dating and living together) and being married.  And I just wasn't ready to make that jump a few years ago.

So I have to wonder ... What's the rush?  Why do so many women feel like they'll be alone forever if they don't get married by the time they hit 25?

I obviously don't have the answer to these questions.  And I also obviously know that not everyone feels that way.  I mean, I didn't.  I also have friends who are older than I am and single (and okay with that!).  But still ... Between the ages of 22 and 27, it seemed as though every time I logged in on Facebook someone else was announcing an engagement (or posting something even more terrifying: a pregnancy announcement).  It was constantly in my face.  And honestly?  I kind of started to worry that something was wrong with me.  Why didn't I want those things for myself?  Or (even worse) why didn't the man I love want those things for us?

I know, I know ... Those are exactly the kind of thoughts that make women feel like they're going to be alone forever if they aren't married (or at least engaged) by the time they're in their mid-twenties.  And yet there I was, thinking those same things even as I questioned what I really wanted.  It was confusing, to say the least.

So why am I writing this?  Mostly because I'm hoping that maybe someone will come across this blog and feel like they can relate.  Because let me tell you something ... I wish I had come across something like this when I was having all of those mixed feelings and crazy thoughts.  I wish I'd known someone who could say, "Your relationship is your own.  Stop comparing it to everyone else's.  That never leads to anything but jealousy and heartache."  I also wish I'd realized when I was much younger and single (before I even knew Eric existed) that it's okay to be alone.  Being single isn't the end of the world.  It doesn't mean you're ugly or stupid or a bitch.  It means you just haven't found the right guy.  No big deal ... He'll come along when you least expect it.

So here's my advice to any woman worrying because she hasn't found "the one":

Until you find the perfect person for you, enjoy dating.  Enjoy your friends and family.  Enjoy learning about who you are and what you want.  Enjoy living your life doing the things you love to do.

It's okay if you don't have everything figured out by the time you decide you might be ready to settle down.  But trust me ... You actually need to (at least mostly) figure out who you really are and what you really want before you jump into a lifetime commitment with someone else.

Just remember, not everyone has their shit together by the time they're 25.  (I certainly didn't.)  That's okay.  You'll figure it out eventually.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

One of my favorite things to get at a Mexican restaurant is enchiladas.  The thing that makes enchiladas so appealing is the fact that there are so many possibilities when it comes to flavor combinations.  They can be filled with chicken, beef, pork, beans, seafood, grilled vegetables ... Really you can throw almost anything in an enchilada.  And that's just the filling!  There are also countless options for sauces.

Because of this, enchiladas are also fun to make at home.  I love playing around with different ideas to make new and interesting dinners.

The recipe I'm sharing today, though, isn't really new (at least not for me).  I've made it in the past, and I've even shared it on my previous blog.  I made it again while my mom was here a few weeks ago, and I'd forgotten just how good these enchiladas are.

These enchiladas are so cheesy and creamy!  They're perfect.

After looking at these pictures (which are much better than the ones I posted on my last blog), you'll want to make these tonight.  And you should.

Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

Adapted from a recipe on Taste and Tell.

Ingredient List (Shredded Chicken Filling):
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions (Shredded Chicken Filling):

1.  Place chicken, water, and all spices in a crockpot and cover.

2.  Allow the chicken to cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.

3.  After cooking, remove the chicken from the crockpot and place it on a cutting board.

4.  Shred the chicken with two forks (it should be tender enough that it pretty much falls apart).

Ingredient List (Enchiladas):
  • 10 corn tortillas (soft taco size)
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (I used Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican blend, which, according to the package, includes Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, and Asadero cheeses)
  • Cooked shredded chicken (from recipe above)

Instructions (Enchilada Assembly):

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.

3.  Warm the corn tortillas in the microwave (I zapped mine for 15-20 seconds) to make them more pliable.

4.  Place a tortilla on a plate and fill it with some of the cooked shredded chicken and some of the shredded cheese.

5.  Roll the tortilla around the filling and place it seam side down in the 9x13 inch pan.  Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you've used all of your tortillas, taking care to place an equal amount of filling in each tortilla.

Ingredient List (Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce):
  • 3 tbsp low fat margarine or butter (I used low fat margarine)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream to try to lighten the recipe up a bit, and it worked just as well as regular sour cream)
  • 2 4 oz. cans diced green chilies

Instructions (Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce):

1.  Melt the butter in a small pan.

2.  Stir in the flour and whisk for approximately 1 minute.

3.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and cook over medium heat until thickened and no lumps remain.

4.  Stir in the sour cream and green chilies until well combined.

5.  Pour the sauce over the pan of enchiladas and top with remaining shredded cheese.

6.  Bake the enchiladas for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Looking at this picture is making me crave these again!  Too bad I don't have the ingredients on hand right now.

As you can tell from my first picture in this post, I served these enchiladas with some Mexican style rice.  I wish I could say I made it myself, but I didn't.  It's from a box.  Master Chef, I am not.

These enchiladas, though ... They're pretty fucking great.  I'm sure Gordon Ramsay would totally agree.  Or maybe he'd just yell at me for using packaged shredded cheese and canned green chilies.  Whatever, they're still fucking great!

Monday, July 14, 2014

5 Confessions

I read a lot of blogs.

I used to only look at food/cooking blogs.  Once I started gaining confidence in the kitchen, I started searching for new recipes to try.  This of course led me to about a million different food/cooking blogs (okay, maybe not a million ... But a lot).  It wasn't until I started this blog (which is my third attempt at blogging), though, that I realized I should probably start reading other types of blogs as well.

I don't know why I didn't start doing this sooner.  Maybe I was worried I'd feel completely inadequate if I read posts by "big" bloggers (or bloggers with more more followers than I have, anyway).  Who knows?  Whatever my reasoning, I'm glad I got over it.

Since I've started reading more personal/lifestyle blogs, I've discovered that my favorite types of posts are the ones with random personal confessions or facts about the blogger.  Sure I enjoy the recaps of vacations, cute pictures of pets, and recipes (of course I will always love the recipes!) ... But I always find it interesting to learn more about the blogger's personality.  It's what separates them from the countless other bloggers out there.

So, since I enjoy reading these posts so much, I've decided that I should start writing my own "confessions" posts.  I realize this isn't exactly a novel concept in the world of blogging, but I figured if I enjoy reading these types of posts, maybe other people do as well.

So here goes ... My very first "confessions" post.  Enjoy!


I confess ...

1.  I have never made a cake (or cupcakes, for that matter) in my life.  This usually shocks people who know me in real life since they know I love to cook.  I just don't bake.  I want to learn eventually, though!

2.  I love to write, but I'm pretty private when it comes to my fiction stories and poetry.  I've shared some of my poetry in various places online, but I've never shared any of my fiction.  I think I'm just scared that it's not good enough to be read by anyone.  Sometimes I think about the fact that things like the Twilight series have been published (and have, for whatever reason, become bestsellers) and think there's a chance for me after all.  Then I realize that I'm just not ready to share that part of myself with anyone else.  Not yet anyway.

3.  I've suffered from depression and anxiety for years.  This isn't something I typically share with everyone (though the majority of the people I'm close to know about it).  It's also something that people who know me in real life find shocking because I have such a bubbly personality.

4.  I've been asked numerous times in my life if those are my "real" eyes.  I always give the "what-the-fuck-does-that-even-mean" look and say, "Uhhh ... Yes."  Over the years I've determined that it's mostly regarding the color, but I still think it's an odd way to phrase it.  For the record, I've never worn colored contacts (though I do wear contacts to correct my incredibly shitty vision).

5.  I'm a total snob when it comes to movies and music, but I love trashy TV.  Eric teases me about this all the time!  I do actually like some shows that aren't guilty pleasures (DexterModern Family, and Six Feet Under are a few examples that come to mind [even though two of those are no longer on the air]), but I definitely also enjoy shows like Pretty Little LiarsTeen Mom, and Dance Moms.  I should probably be embarrassed, but I'm not.  I like what I like.  Whatever.

This was actually kind of a fun post for me to write.  Although this won't be a weekly thing on Divulge and Indulge, I'll definitely write more posts like this in the future.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Swagbucks: How to Make a Productive Use of Your Time Online

It almost sounds too good to be true ... But it's legit.  Here are some ways you can use a lazy day online to your advantage.

Please note before reading that this is not a sponsored post.  I just wanted to share something I discovered with anyone who may stumble across this blog so that they could also benefit from the site.

I signed up for Swagbucks after reading a post on Not Entirely Perfect about the site.  At first I was skeptical because it seemed too easy.  Earning free gift cards and/or PayPal cash for basically dicking around online?  Really?

Despite the fact that I wasn't too sure about the whole thing, I decided to sign up anyway.  Worst case scenario: they won't send me goods as promised and I would have wasted some of my time.  Best case scenario: free shit.  I figured it was worth the risk.

Now, after only a short time as a Swagbucks member, I've racked up well over 3,000 Swagbucks.  I use the site while I'm binge watching Netflix (Pretty Little Liars has sucked me in once again, especially since I decided to start rewatching from the beginning before diving into the latest season posted), paying bills, searching for random things online, or just whenever I'm bored.  It honestly doesn't take much time or effort, and it's worth it when you start realizing how great the rewards are.

For those who have never heard of Swagbucks, here is a basic rundown of the rewards:

  • 450-500 Swagbucks can get you a $5 gift card to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Sports Authority, Barnes & Noble, and a variety of restaurants (some examples include Olive Garden, Papa John's, and Chili's)

  • 1,000-1,500 Swagbucks will bump you up to a $10 (or $15 for 1,500) gift card to many of the same retailers (along with several others like The Limited, Sephora, and Best Buy)

  • 2,000-2,500 Swagbucks are worth a $20 (or $25 for 2,500) gift card or $25 in PayPal cash

  • 5,000 Swagbucks can get you $50 worth of gift cards (including rewards that aren't available in smaller denominations, like gift cards for gasoline at Exxon/Mobil) or PayPal cash

  • 10,000 Swagbucks will allow you to get a $100 gift card (or the equivalent in PayPal cash) and there are even more options available for the larger denominations (such as travel related gift cards for Hyatt Hotels and American Airlines)

  • And if you're dedicated enough to earn 25,000 or 50,000 Swagbucks, you can redeem them for $250 from Amazon or American Airlines (for 25,000) or $500 from the same two retailers (for 50,000)
Swagbucks also offers "Swagstakes" that you can enter using Swagbucks you've already earned.  I've never entered any of these Swagstakes because I typically prefer a sure thing, but they are available for those who are interested.

So how do you earn Swagbucks?  There are actually quite a few ways, so I'll share the ways I typically earn.  If anyone reads this and uses the site already, please feel free to leave any tips you have for earning Swagbucks in the comments.

  1. Daily Polls - These are only worth 1 Swagbuck, but they're the absolute easiest way to earn.  There is a new poll featured each day, and you only have to answer one question.  There are no right or wrong answers, so you'll get your Swagbuck regardless of how you respond.

  2. NOSO (No Obligation Special Offers) - This is probably the second easiest way to earn Swagbucks.  While this is only worth 2 Swagbucks, you just have to click through about 5 or 6 pages of offers.  There really is no obligation ... You just hit "skip" or "see next offer" to move through and collect your Swagbucks.

  3. Videos - This is one of my biggest "moneymakers."  If I'm using the computer, chances are that I have a screen up playing Swagbucks videos.  You don't even have to watch the videos from start to finish (though you certainly can if something interests you)!  In order to earn, you're required to watch roughly between 10-30 seconds of 10 videos posted.  The site has a ton of videos in different categories, including fashion and beauty, news, entertainment, and food, so there are plenty of options to choose from.  For every 10 videos, you'll earn 3 Swagbucks.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but if you've got them going on in the background while you pay bills or watch TV, it's really easy to rack up the Swagbucks.

  4. Games - While the games aren't the quickest or easiest way to earn Swagbucks, they're the most fun.  I'm completely addicted to Trizzle, and I also really like playing Mahjongg Dimensions, Swagasaurus Run, Key Krusher, and Flip-Out.  It doesn't matter how terrible you are at the games ... You'll earn 2 Swagbucks for every other game you play.  They do stop rewarding you if you play a ton of times in one day, but you can start earning again the next day.  And while I haven't done this myself yet, you can enter tournaments to try to win a lot of Swagbucks.  I plan to eventually enter a Trizzle tournament once I get consistently better.

  5. Swag Codes - I don't usually get the Swag Codes unless Eric sends them to me, but you can find them on the Swagbucks blog, Twitter account, and Facebook.  Some of them are only worth 2 or 3 Swagbucks, but sometimes they've been worth between 8 and 10!

  6. Searching - Treat this site like Google and you can earn a bunch of extra Swagbucks.  I've earned 18-20 Swagbucks within 10-15 minutes just for searching things I'd be looking up on Google anyway.  It's really simple and a quick way to rack up some extra Swagbucks for the day.  (Please note: they don't reward you every time you search ... It's completely random, but it's always nice when a reward pops up!)

  7. Surveys - Surveys take a little more time and effort, but you can earn some serious Swagbucks for completing them.  I usually try to do one each day, and typically earn between 50-125 Swagbucks for doing so.  Most of them don't take very long (10-15 minutes), though some can be kind of lengthy (30 minutes or more).  I usually try to go for the shorter surveys, but if I know I'm just going to be sitting in front of my laptop anyway, I'll commit to taking a longer survey worth more Swagbucks.  One thing to remember: sometimes you won't qualify for a specific survey.  You can still earn 1 Swagbuck for attempting to take a survey (up to 5 Swagbucks in a day), so your efforts won't be completely wasted.

  8. Random Front Page Offers - I don't take advantage of all of the offers on the front page, but I typically scan through and take the quizzes related to health knowledge (you usually only have to answer 5 questions to earn between 1 and 5 Swagbucks) and watch videos/interact with ads (these are usually worth between 2 and 5 Swagbucks).  These are really quick and easy ways to earn, and take minimal effort.

  9. Referrals - I haven't referred a ton of people, but referrals are a great way to earn a few extra Swagbucks.  I'll include a link at the end of this post so if anyone reading this is interested in signing up, they can use me as a referral.  I'd really appreciate it, and you can then refer friends, family, and readers of your own blog (if you happen to have one) using your own Swagbucks referral link!

  10. Hitting Daily/Weekly/Monthly Goals - This is one of the best ways to earn a bunch of extra Swagbucks.  Each day you're given an initial goal to reach.  Once you've hit that goal, you'll get a second daily goal.  Each time you hit a goal (initial, second, or both), you're given bonus daily meter Swagbucks.  Hit your daily goal 7 days in a row and you'll get a 25 Swagbuck bonus.  If you can reach your daily goal 14 days in a row, you'll get 100 bonus Swagbucks.  21 days in a row gives you 200 extra Swagbucks, and if you manage to hit your daily goal for the entire month, you'll get a 300 Swagbuck bonus.  You only have to hit your initial goal each day in order to be eligible for the bonuses, so you don't even have to stress out if you don't have time or energy to reach your second daily goal.  These bonuses (including the daily meter bonus) are paid out on the 5th of each month, so it's a nice little boost to your overall earnings if use the site regularly.
I realize I now sound like I have absolutely no life, but, as I mentioned earlier, it's really not that difficult to rack up the Swagbucks if you're just chilling out in front of the TV and computer anyway.  I earn a ton of Swagbucks every day and still find time to work at least 40 hours a week (sometimes more!), go to the gym fairly regularly, make delicious dinners, read, watch movies and/or TV shows, spend time with my husband and friends, and write in this blog.  I consider myself a fairly busy person, so if I can do it, you can too!

Even if you're not entirely convinced, at least check it out.  The worst thing that can happen is that you don't earn enough to make it worth your time.  If you find you like the site, though, you could end up with some free gift cards or PayPal cash to use yourself or give as gifts.

Finally, if you want to use me as a referral, please use the following link when signing up ... I'd really appreciate it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Tilapia in a Jalapeno Cream Sauce with Rice

I've been completely uninspired to write anything lately.  It seems like every time I have a decent idea for a blog post, I'm unable to write it down immediately (like while I'm driving or working).  Then when I finally have an opportunity to sit down and write, it's like my mind is completely blank.

Fortunately, my lack of inspiration and creativity hasn't completely taken over all areas of my life.  I've been making some amazing dishes lately (if I do say so myself), and I'm excited to share one of them with you today (assuming anyone is actually reading this, of course).

I love the color in this meal, but the real star is the flavor.

Tilapia in a Jalapeno Cream Sauce with Rice 

Adapted from a recipe on

Ingredient List:
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 6 tbsp low fat margarine
  • 3 cloves garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (I mostly seeded the jalapeno because Eric isn't a fan of really spicy foods, but you can always use more and/or leave more seeds in the pepper if you want more of a kick)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups cooked basmati rice


1.  Melt the low fat margarine in the microwave using a microwave safe bowl.  Stir the garlic into the melted margarine.

2.  Pour the flour onto a separate dish or plate.  This will be used to coat the fish.

3.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

4.  Dip each tilapia fillet on both sides in the margarine/garlic mixture and then coat evenly on both sides with flour.  Once coated, place each fillet in the large skillet.  Turn each fillet to ensure even cooking.

5.  After cooking both sides of the tilapia, turn the heat to low and add the white wine to the skillet.

6.  While the fish is simmering, melt the unsalted butter in a small saucepan.

7.  Add the heavy cream, juice from the lemon, diced jalapeno, fresh spinach leaves, chopped tomato, black pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper to the saucepan once the butter has completely melted.  Turn heat to medium low and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until well mixed.

8.  Once the sauce is completely cooked through and well blended, pour over the fish fillets in the large skillet.  You can either opt to keep the fillets whole, or shred them in the sauce.  My tilapia was incredibly tender, so I just shredded it into chunks in the sauce.  Eric and I really liked it this way, but it's really personal preference.

You can see the chunks of perfectly flaky fish in this picture.  Yum!

As you can see from the pictures, I served this meal over cooked white basmati rice.  And, although the pictures don't show this, we also had a side of steamed sugar snap peas.

If you like fish at all, you should definitely try this recipe.  It's incredibly flavorful and, though it does contain heavy cream and quite a bit of butter and low fat margarine, it's fairly healthy and quick enough for a weeknight meal.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: White Cheddar and Fontina Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

The recipe I'm about to share with you is not even remotely healthy.  It contains 12 ounces of cheese, 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream, and 5 tablespoons of butter (okay, 2 tablespoons of regular butter and 3 tablespoons of light margarine, but that's really not that much better).

If you read that and thought, "That's disgusting!" this is probably not the meal for you.  I do post healthier meals on occasion, though, (as well as many other things) so there's still hope that you might enjoy this blog.

If, however, you saw those ingredients and were intrigued, please read on.  Then make this meal immediately.

If you think this looks like heaven in a bowl, you're absolutely correct.

Although this is such a decadent, unhealthy meal, I've made it twice in the past few weeks.  The first time I made it, Eric and I were both like, "Oh my God this is amazing!"  Since it was such a hit (even the leftovers were delicious!), I decided to make it again while my mom was in town.  Once again, it received rave reviews.

Here's the thing ... I've had some homemade macaroni and cheese disasters in the past.  The first time I ever attempted to make it, my roux was so lumpy that I had to throw it out and completely start over.  I've also fallen victim to the grainy sauce that often results when you try to cut corners and use packaged shredded cheese instead of shredding a block of cheese yourself.  Don't do that.  Trust me ... It's worth taking the extra time to shred it yourself.

But this recipe?  Perfection.  It's simple and it's delicious.  It's also inspired by the macaroni and cheese at Panera.  (If you've ever eaten their macaroni and cheese, you'll know exactly why this is a good thing.)

White Cheddar and Fontina Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Smells Like Home.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 box (16 oz.) elbow pasta (or another small pasta shape if elbows aren't your thing)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp low fat margarine
  • 8 oz. sharp Vermont white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp-1 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used 1 tbsp because I really like the tanginess of the mustard, but this can be adjusted according to what you like)
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot sauce)
The cheese really makes this dish, so make sure you're using quality ingredients!


1.  Shred both blocks of cheese.  (This should be obvious, but I'm adding this as the first step because I really recommend buying blocks of cheese and shredding them yourself for this recipe.)

2.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

3.  Melt the butter and light margarine together in a large skillet until bubbly.

4.  Add flour and whisk constantly for approximately 1 1/2 minutes.

5.  Gradually whisk in the heavy cream until no lumps remain.

6.  Reduce the heat to medium low and continue whisking the heavy cream mixture until it thickens and bubbles (approximately 8 minutes).

7.  Add the pasta to the boiling water.  Cook according to package directions until al dente and drain.

8.  While the pasta is cooking, remove the skillet containing the heavy cream mixture from the heat.

9.  Add cheese by the handful, stirring with each addition.  Allow each handful of cheese to completely melt before adding more.

10.  Once all of the cheese has been added, season the sauce with the Dijon mustard, garlic salt, black pepper, and hot sauce.

11.  Place the skillet back over medium low heat and stir in the drained pasta, taking care to mix everything together thoroughly so the pasta is completely coated with sauce.

Since this meal is so rich, it's best to pair it with a simple green salad.  And, going along with the "inspired by Panera" theme, we served our salads with a Panera salad dressing.

I'm completely obsessed with this salad dressing.  The Fuji Apple Chicken Salad at Panera is one of my go-to items, and this dressing tastes exactly like the one they serve on that salad in the restaurant.