Saturday, February 28, 2015

Playlist: February 2015

Since I tried to make "Love and Relationships" a more prominent theme on my blog this month, it was only fitting that I finish February off with a playlist full of love songs.

Back in November I shared some of my favorite romantic love songs, so I decided to change it up this time around.  If I'm being totally honest, my absolute favorite love songs aren't the happy "I've finally found what I've been looking for" songs (though those can be nice as well).  No, my favorite love songs are the ones that shatter my heart into a million pieces.  And, after yesterday's post, I thought it was appropriate to share some of my favorite breakup songs.

When I dealt with heartbreak in the past, I always turned to music.  There was something so oddly comforting in knowing that someone else could so beautifully put into words the exact emotions you were feeling ... That someone really got it.  And, while all of these songs aren't explicitly about love gone bad, they're some of the songs that really resonated with me when I was struggling with a broken heart.

Since I've been trying to get a little more personal on my blog (and because I'm a total nerd who loves discussing what specific songs mean to me), I've decided to share why each of these songs deserved a spot on this particular playlist.


1. Sweet Adeline: From the beginning of the song, Elliott Smith breaks your heart with simple but eloquent descriptions of the days (or weeks) following a particularly awful breakup with the lines "Cut this picture into you and me/Burn it backwards, kill this history/Make it over, make it stay away/Or hate'll sing the ending that love started to say."  A part of you wants to just forget everything to avoid those feelings of bitterness and hate that so often bubble up and take over when someone hurts you more than you ever believed possible.

2. The Walk: This is by far my favorite Imogen Heap song of all time.  The imagery is great, as she finds herself continuously faced with the one person she can never have the way she wants ("Inside out, upside down twisting beside myself/Stop that now, 'cause you and I were never meant to be").  The song so perfectly describes those conflicting feelings of wanting that person in your life even though you know it will only lead to heartache, eventually comforting yourself the only way you know how: by blaming them for everything ("I don't want to feel like this, so that makes it all your fault").

3. Map of the Problematique: This song could really be about a lot of things, but for me, it's about the loneliness you're left with when the life and love you've built with someone else disintegrates ("And I feel like everything I sow is being swept away/Well, I refuse to let you go").

4. Rough Hands: This is one of the more obvious songs about a love lost that covers the feelings from the beginning of the breakup ("Was I left behind?/Someone tell me, tell me I survived") to the realization at the end that it's really over ("Two people too damaged too much too late").

5. Fake Plastic Trees: For me, this song has always been about trying to mold yourself into your most perfect version in order to sustain a love that was never really there in the first place ("She looks like the real thing/She tastes like the real thing/My fake plastic love").  Everything around the couple seems fake because it is ... Their expectations have never truly fused with reality, leaving them disappointed and broken when they begin to see things as they actually are ("If I could be who you wanted all the time").

6. The Ice is Getting Thinner: This is another obvious song about the deterioration of a romantic relationship.  The beauty in this song lies in its simplicity: from the opening lines "We're not the same, dear, as we used to be/The seasons have changed and so have we" to the lovely imagery of the death of things in winter ("We bury our love in the wintery grave/A lump in the snow was all that remained").  And at the end of the song, the inevitable truth that both people need to face is sung: "Then it saddens me to say what we both knew was true/That the ice was getting thinner under me and you."

7. Lua: I struggled with adding this song to the list because there are just so many Bright Eyes songs that are more obviously about lost love (and this is more likely about a struggle with depression and addiction).  It won out in the end because I literally would spend hours listening to "Lua" on repeat when I was dealing with a particularly difficult breakup.  Conor Oberst has always had a way with words, and this song is no exception.  From the loneliness that comes with no longer having someone special in your life ("When everything is lonely I can be my own best friend/I get a coffee and the paper, have my own conversations") to trying to move on when you're not ready ("The love I sell you in the evening by the morning won't exist") to trying to find any way to forget the horrible ache in your heart ("Well, we might die from medication but we sure killed all the pain") to finally admitting to yourself that you're just not over it ("And I'm not sure what the trouble was that started all of this/The reasons all have run away, but the feeling never did"), he perfectly describes all of the stages that come with the end of an important relationship.

8. The Engine Driver: This song fucking breaks my heart every single time I hear it, yet I'd say it's my favorite song by The Decemberists.  The repeated line "And if you don't love me, let me go" is one that anyone who has ever found themselves going back to the person who broke their heart only to leave more broken than before can relate to.  And, as someone who has always found writing to be extremely cathartic, I could always also relate to the line "I've written pages upon pages trying to rid you from my bones."  So true.

9. Himerus and Eros: I listened to this song on a regular basis back when I was dealing with this.  Much like "The Walk," it describes the confused feelings that go along with wanting to be with someone who can't give you the type of relationship you want ("And I fight the urge to explore the vastness of your curves I adore/You know I hate you/No, I hate you more/You know I love you/No, I love you more/Yes, it's true, you've brainwashed me and now I'm more confused/I still somehow hope I end up with you/Yes, it's true, I romanticize every single thing I do/Especially when it comes to you").  This song takes it a step further, though, since it's not just about the feelings but also the sexual aspect when you're unable to break away from someone you're still in love with and find yourself still hooking up with them long after the relationship has ended ("I hope to God I mean a little more than the sounds that escape your tired 4:00 a.m. lips/Oh, how I wish I meant a little more than a symphony of heavy breathing and the friction of hips").

10. Cup of Coffee: When I was dealing with the same breakup I mentioned above, I truly felt like this song was written just for me (minus the part about the cigarettes).  It probably sounds ridiculous, but the words just rang so true for me.  From finding myself walking or driving by his place despite actively trying to avoid him ("I'm walking empty streets, hoping we might meet/I see your car parked on the road/The light on at your window/I know for sure that you're home/And I just have to pass on by") to the realization that we could never be "just friends" until I actually moved on ("So no, of course we can't be friends/Not while I still feel like this") to the black pit of depression I was sucked into for over a year after things had ended ("My friends all say they're worried/I'm looking far too skinny/I've stopped returning all their calls"), this song was one that really helped me work through all of the horrible, confused emotions that went along with that particular situation.

11. Raining in Baltimore: This will forever be one of my favorite sad songs.  Adam Duritz reduces me to tears each and every time he sings the lines "Where you should be, no one's around," "These train conversations are passing me by/And I don't have nothing to say/You get what you pay for, but I just had no intention of living this way," and "There's things I remember and things I forget/I miss you, I guess that I should/Three thousand five hundred miles away/What would you change if you could?" ... So basically I'm a blubbering mess through this entire song.  It's so beautiful, though.

12. Hey Jupiter: This was always one of my go-to breakup songs.  Although it's more about a love triangle than the end of a relationship, the feelings of heartache and loneliness still echo throughout the lyrics.  Tori Amos starts the song off ready to share all of the things weighing on her heart, though she knows she'll only cause herself pain in doing so ("And this little masochist/She's ready to confess/All the things that I never thought that she could feel") and goes on to describe the feeling that goes along with someone leaving their mark on your heart ("Found your writing on my wall/Well, if my heart's soaking wet/Boy, your boots can leave a mess").  She ends the song in much the same way as it began, essentially coming full circle in her realization that she's now truly alone ("No one's picking up the phone/Guess it's clear he's gone/And this little masochist is lifting up her dress/Guess I thought I could never feel the things I feel").

13. Day Old Hate: This is my absolute favorite City and Colour song because it has always held so much meaning in my life.  As with several other songs on this list, the lyrics are simple but heartfelt, accurately describing many of the feelings I've struggled with following a breakup.  The first verse in particular is perfect: "So let's face it, this was never what you wanted/But I know it's fun to pretend/Now blank stares and empty threats are all I have/They're all I have."  He didn't play this song when I saw him last, but the first time I saw Dallas Green touring as City and Colour, I was reduced to tears when he sang this.  (Yes, I'm that girl who cries at concerts.)

14. Rootless Tree: This is one of the best angry breakup songs ever written.  It's not even obviously angry until you reach the chorus, which I used to sing at the top of my lungs while driving in my car, trying to detach myself from the person I needed to get over: "So fuck you, fuck you, fuck you and all we've been through/I said leave it, leave it, leave it, it's nothing to you/And if you hate me, hate me, hate me/Then hate me so good that you can let me out, let me out, let me out of this hell when you're around."  Though the song definitely has its sad moments ("What I want from this is learn to let go/But no, not of you/Of all that's been told"), for me it was mostly a great song to listen to when I needed a release for all of the bitterness and anger that inevitably goes along with the end of a relationship.

15. Get Gone: I had such a hard time choosing just one Fiona Apple song to include on this playlist.  I've turned to her music more than any other artist (even Elliott Smith!) following breakups and general disillusionment with various men in my life, and to this day I even refer to When the Pawn ... as "the quintessential breakup album" because I relied on it so heavily to get me through the agony of my worst breakups.  As with "Rootless Tree," this is one of the best angry breakup songs ever written.  And, once you've moved past the sadness and loneliness, sometimes you just need to put on a really angry song to put yourself in a "Fuck him, I don't need this shit!" type of mindset.  If you're at that point, this is the perfect song for you.  Fiona Apple flawlessly puts into words the feelings that go along with realizing that things have completely gotten out of hand ("How many times can it escalate 'til it elevates to a place I can't breathe?") and that he's just not worth it anymore ("I'll idealize and realize that it's no sacrifice because a price is paid and there's nothing left to grieve/Fuckin' go").  But, for me, the best part of this song is the chorus because it took the jumbled thoughts I'd always have following a breakup and pieced them together, ending with a line I'd always find myself repeating in hopes I'd one day believe it and move on with my life: "How can I deal with this, if he won't get with this?/Am I gonna heal from this?/He won't admit to it/Nothing to figure out/I gotta get him out/It's time the truth was out that he don't give a shit about me."

I know I wrote a lot about these songs, so if you actually read all of that, thank you!  If not, that's okay ... I know everyone isn't into reading someone's personal thoughts on specific songs (especially if they're not songs they regularly listen to).

Even if you're not dealing with a broken heart, these are all great songs.  (I listen to all of them on a regular basis.)  And, if you are, maybe you'll find something here that speaks to how you're feeling and helps you move past it.

Also, if anyone feels like sharing, what are some songs that have helped you deal with heartbreak in the past?

Friday, February 27, 2015

How NOT to Break Up with Someone: A True Story

I originally wrote this back in September, but I was waiting for the right time to post it.  Since I decided to focus a little more on posts falling under the "Love and Relationships" category during the month of February, I figured I may as well share it now.

I was always horrible when it came to dealing with breakups.  Whether I was being overly dramatic when the guy ended things or a complete chickenshit when I did, breakups were not my thing.

I remember envying couples who could break up and remain friends back in high school and college.  I'm not talking about the ones who eventually got past all the pain and bitterness and learned to like each other as people once again ... I can successfully do that.  I'm talking about the couples who broke up and somehow avoided all of the emotional anguish ... The ones who could spend time together (or even just have a normal conversation!) right after their romantic relationship ended.  That I could never do.

I usually avoided my ex-boyfriends after a breakup because I never knew what to say or how to act.  (Or, in one case, I did the complete opposite and just kept sleeping with him and spending all of my free time with him.  That's really not any better than completely avoiding the guy ... In fact, it's probably much worse.)  I hated conflict (I still do), and it was usually just easier to hide from these guys than deal with the aftermath.

With that in mind, I'm now going to share the story of how my first serious, long term relationship ended.  I'll preface this story by saying that it in no way makes me look good.  In fact, I'd say it makes me look like a huge asshole.  And, if I'm being totally honest, I was a huge asshole at the time.  Thankfully I eventually recognized this, made the necessary heartfelt apologies, and now maintain a friendship with the person I'm writing about.  At the time, though, things got really ugly.


The relationship began the summer before my junior year of high school and ended about a month and a half into my junior year of college.  As I said before, this was my first really serious relationship (any other relationship I'd had before wasn't with someone I could actually picture spending the rest of my life with), and I was in love with him.

"B" (I'll keep his full name out of the blog out of respect for his privacy) and I were mostly happy together, but there were a few issues that we just couldn't seem to work through.  Some of them were legitimate (like the fact that he wanted a big family and I wasn't sure I ever wanted kids), while others were probably somewhat legitimate but mostly selfish (like my fear that since we started dating at such a young age, I'd probably always wonder if there was something better out there).

But that's not why I'll come off as an asshole in this story (though that probably doesn't help).  No, the reason I'll look like an asshole is because of the way I ended things with him.

We went to colleges about 4 hours apart.  He drove to visit me one weekend (our last weekend together), and things were really awkward.  We'd fairly recently taken a "break" (à la Ross and Rachel), but decided to try to work through our issues.

Well ... At least neither of us slept with some random person during that time.

Unfortunately, I couldn't let some of my issues go.  And, to further complicate things, I was attracted to another guy I'd become friends with at school.  In addition, I found out through mutual friends that he was also interested in me.  He even hung out with "B" and me a few times over the course of that weekend (awkward!) because we had plans with a group of my friends and he was invited/included in that group.

I knew by the end of the weekend that I couldn't be in the relationship any longer.  I still cared about "B" and even loved him ... But I wasn't in love with him anymore.  We had too many problems to ever really work, and though it broke my heart to do it, I knew I needed to end things.

I should have broken up with him at the end of that weekend.  I remember sitting with him in his car right before he left, talking.  I should have been telling him how I felt and given him all the reasons why I didn't think we should stay together.  I don't even remember what we were talking about ... But it wasn't that.  I just couldn't bring myself to say those words.  And so I kissed him goodbye and watched him drive off, knowing deep down that I would probably never see him again.  (I haven't.  Though we've managed to move past all of this and kept in touch as friends, we've never made an effort to see one another.  All of this happened in September 2004, so it's now been over 10 years since I've seen him.)

Since I failed to say something to him in person, you'd think I would at least have the decency to break up with him over the phone.  I didn't.  (I think we all know where this is headed.)

No, chickenshit asshole me decided to break up with him via email.  Email!  I still cringe when I think about it.  I mean, we'd literally given each other years of our young lives.  We'd been through a lot together.  He was my best friend, the one person I felt I could share anything with.  He was my first real love.  And I broke up with him in a fucking email.

At least I said more than that and didn't break up with him using a Post-It, right?  RIGHT?!?!  (Okay, no ... My way was still super shitty.)

I still feel like a worthless sack of shit when I think back to that time.  I can't believe I could treat someone I cared about so much with such callousness.  I mean, ending a long distance relationship is obviously not the same as ending a relationship when you live in the same city, but I could have handled it better.  I could have given him an opportunity to tell me how he felt, encouraged a discussion between the two of us.

But I didn't because I was scared.  I was scared to hear what he had to say.  And, more than that, I was scared I'd be talked out of making that decision.  Even though I knew, without a doubt, that "B" and I had grown apart and were no longer truly happy, I knew he could remind me of the good times and I'd be willing to give it another try.  And I was determined not to be talked out of ending things with him.

But still ... I should have handled things much differently back then.

Moral of the story: Don't be an asshole.  Don't end a long term relationship via email.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Dijon-Crusted Tilapia

I made Dijon-Crusted Tilapia for the first time about a year ago.  (I actually even posted it on my old blog, along with a horrible picture.  Trust me when I say it's embarrassing that I once believed a picture like that actually looked good!)  I initially came across the recipe when I was searching for some new ways to prepare fish, and decided to make it one evening when I realized we had all of the ingredients on hand.

If I'm being completely honest, I only tried this recipe for that reason.  It wasn't that I thought it would be bad, but I didn't expect it to be great.  I assumed it would be one of those things that was just "okay" ... You know, the kind of recipe you only make once because it's nothing special.

Fortunately, I was wrong!

This meal has so many things going for it: it's healthy, flavorful, and easy to make.  It's a great option for a quick weeknight meal, especially if you're trying to stick with a more wholesome diet.  Yes, it contains mayonnaise, but it's light mayonnaise and only a small quantity is used.  (I don't even like mayonnaise, so don't worry if you're not a fan ... You can't taste it at all.  You can, however, taste the Dijon mustard, so this may not be the recipe for you if you don't like that particular flavor.)

If you're looking for a new way to prepare fish that doesn't require much effort (and you like the taste of Dijon mustard, of course!), I'd definitely recommend trying this recipe.  I just made it last week, and I'm pretty sure it will be making an appearance again either this week or next week.  It's really that good (and that simple!).

I wish I'd gotten a slightly better photo of this dish, but this is still a million times better than the picture I used on my old blog!

Dijon-Crusted Tilapia

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Taste of Home.

Ingredient List:
  • 2-4 tilapia fillets (I used 2 large fillets, but the recipe would work just as well with 4 smaller pieces of fish)
  • 3 tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp low fat margarine or butter (I used low fat margarine)


1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl then add the mayonnaise, half of the Parmesan cheese, and Dijon mustard.  Stir to combine thoroughly.

3.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.

4.  Place the fish fillets on the baking sheet and spread the mayonnaise/mustard mixture as evenly as possible over both sides of the fish.

5.  In a second small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.  (This should only take about 10-15 seconds.)

6.  Mix the Panko breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan cheese in with the melted butter, and sprinkle the mixture over the top of each fish fillet.

7.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.  (I usually let my fish bake for the full 20 minutes.)

As you can probably see from the picture, I most recently served this meal with a side of seasoned rice.  (Okay, it's Rice-A-Roni, one of my food guilty pleasures ... Don't judge!)  I also made simple green salads for each of us, but forgot to include them in the picture.

Monday, February 23, 2015

8 Reasons Why I'm a Bad Blogger

This morning as I was driving to work, I started thinking about the fact that I didn't bother to schedule even one post for this week over the weekend.  That's so unlike me.  I usually try to at least get something scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but this weekend I kept putting it off until suddenly I was out of time.  (Eventually I hope to get an entire week's worth of posts written and scheduled during the weekend, but right now that's just not happening.)

My time management skills have seriously been lacking as of late (though thankfully only when it comes to things outside of work!), and I'm really hoping that next month I can get my shit figured out and stop fucking around.  I had all of these great goals for 2015 (and for the month of February), and instead of being productive and actually completing some of these goals, I'm just wasting a lot of time.

As I was getting annoyed with myself this morning, I realized that my recent lack of focus isn't the only thing that makes me a bad blogger.  So I've decided to list out the reasons why I'm a bad blogger ... The habits I really need to break if I want to continue blogging (and want to gain more followers!).


1.  Obviously my lack of focus is going to be at the top of the list.  I've been so scattered lately that it takes a ridiculous amount of willpower to actually sit in front of the computer and write for more than a few minutes at a time.  I blame this lack of focus on having too much on my mind lately, but I should be able to clear my head enough to write a few short blog posts.

2.  I run out of ideas for posts often.  This is pretty awful, considering I haven't been blogging for that long.  (Divulge and Indulge isn't my first blogging attempt, as I mentioned in my very first post here, but even if I include my previous blogs, I've probably only been doing this off and on for about 3 years.  Well ... Unless you count writing in a LiveJournal as blogging.  I don't, but that's probably because I was uncomfortably candid about everything.)  I think sometimes I just try to write when I'm too mentally drained to come up with anything interesting, and then I feel like I'm a total failure who can't come up with a simple idea for a blog post.  This is exactly why I need to write more often on the weekends because I'm usually more mentally refreshed when I haven't been at work all day.

3.  I overthink every post.  I always imagine that a lot of bloggers come up with something they'd like to write about, spend some time writing on that topic, give it a quick scan, and then either hit "Publish" or schedule it for later.  I kind of do that, but I read it multiple times and make multiple edits before posting.  I also question whether it's even worth posting at least 50% of the time (if not more), and, if it's a particularly personal post, I spend an absurd amount of time agonizing over whether or not I should even be putting it out there for people to read.  Now that I'm reading this, I realize that maybe this doesn't make me a bad blogger ... Just incredibly neurotic.

4.  I don't take enough pictures.  I've never been the kind of person who takes a ton of pictures at every event, but there have been so many times that I've been like, "That would have been a great picture!" hours after I've done something.  Most bloggers take a lot of pictures to help tell a story, but not me.  I'll usually just slap a random picture of myself (possibly making an awkward face) on a post if I have nothing else to use.

5.  I don't spend enough time on social media.  I never promote any of my posts, and my Pinterest account is just sitting there, naked without any pins.  I actually did make an Instagram account for this blog (you can find me here), but I rarely post anything.  That probably goes back to not taking enough pictures, though.  I haven't even started following anyone on Instagram (mostly because I'm so embarrassed of my pathetic excuse for an account).  I also never use hashtags, but that's mostly because I'm lame and don't really get them.  I'll figure it out ... One day.

6.  I let myself get really behind when it comes to reading posts written by bloggers I follow.  I can guarantee that my Bloglovin' account will tell me I have at least 100 unread posts right now.  I try to catch up on posts whenever I have a few extra minutes, but sometimes I won't check Bloglovin' for a couple of days.  When I return, the amount of unread posts is overwhelming and it feels like it takes forever to even skim through half of them.  (And, if I'm being honest, I usually want to do more than just skim.  I actually like reading other people's posts.  That's why I chose to follow them in the first place.)

7.  When I get behind with the reading, I also get behind with the commenting.  I've been trying to make an effort to comment on blog posts more often, but sometimes I feel stupid and don't know what to say.  (This probably also goes back to my overthinking/neurotic nature.)  I obviously want people to know I'm reading their posts and that I actually care about what they're saying (or find it funny, interesting, thought-provoking, etc.), but sometimes I'll read a bunch of posts all at once during my lunch break at work and then forget to come back later to comment when I actually have some time to think about what I want to say.  Or, like I said earlier, I can't think of anything good to say, so I just say nothing.

8.  I'm horribly inconsistent.  Everything I've ever read on how to be a better blogger says that consistent posting is vital if you want your blog to grow.  It makes sense, of course, but this is so hard for me.  I usually stick with posting a recipe every Tuesday, but the rest of the week is very random.  In a perfect world I'd be posting at least 3-4 times each week (and everything I posted would be amazing, obviously).  In reality, I'm lucky to churn out 3 posts a week, and I'd hardly call everything I post "amazing."  I know it takes time, dedication, and a lot of organization, but sometimes I get really annoyed with myself for not making more of an effort to work on this blog.

I'm sure I could think of more reasons why I'm a bad blogger, but I think this post has gotten long enough.  I'll leave you with a few silly pictures of me from Saturday (since I'm trying to remember to take/post more pictures and all):

If you checked out my Instagram via the link in this post, you probably noticed this picture already.  I participated in Trek Up The Tower on Saturday morning for the third year in a row, and this is me showing off my medal.  (You get one for making it to the top, so it's not quite as awesome as it seems.)  It's definitely a challenge, though, so I'm proud that I've been able to do it for 3 years in a row!

I know that a few cities have a Trek Up The Tower challenge, and while Omaha doesn't have any insanely tall buildings (like Chicago or NYC), I think it's pretty hard.  In Omaha, Trek Up The Tower takes place at the First National Bank Tower downtown.  You're required to go up 40 flights (870 steps) in order to complete the challenge.  That may not sound like a lot to some people, but I think I'm in decent shape since I work out regularly and I was definitely wheezing pretty early on.  (Oh, and my ass and thighs were burning.)

After the race, I asked Eric to take some silly pictures of me jumping around at home.  This is the result:

Yes, I'm a huge dork.  I'm also pretty sure it's obvious that I used to dance based on the picture on the far right.

And now I'm going to go obsess over whether I should have put such embarrassing pictures of myself on the internet for all to see because, well, that's what I do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Crockpot Pepper Beef Goulash

I love the simplicity of a dinner that can be made in the crockpot.  It's just so nice to be able to toss everything in and then go about your day, knowing that in just a few hours you'll have a perfectly cooked delicious meal waiting for you.

I know I've mentioned several times that we've been trying to use more beef because we bought 100 lbs of beef from Eric's cousins who own a farm in western Nebraska.  While it's not impossible to come up with meals using beef, I occasionally find it difficult to come up with new and interesting ways to use it.  I mean, sure we could have pasta with meat sauce and shredded beef burritos multiple times a week, but, as much as I enjoy those things, I need variety.

Enter today's recipe.  It uses beef, and it's made in the crockpot ... So basically it's the perfect lazy day meal for us.  It's seriously so easy to make, and the flavors are rich and a little tangy.  While it isn't a traditional goulash, it's worth a try if you're looking for a new way to use beef in your cooking.

This is definitely one of the better crockpot meals I've made!

Crockpot Pepper Beef Goulash

Adapted from a recipe on Taste of Home.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp dry ground mustard
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups cooked rice (I used long grain white rice)


1.  Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray.

2.  Add the beef stew meat, tomato paste, diced white onion, diced green bell pepper, water, white vinegar, garlic salt, cornstarch, dry ground mustard, chili powder, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to the crockpot.  Stir a few times to make sure the meat and vegetables are well coated with the sauce.

3.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6 hours.  (I wouldn't recommend cooking this for longer than 6 hours because you want the meat to be tender, but not falling apart.)

And that's seriously all you have to do.  I served this over long grain white rice with a side of Steamfresh green beans.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Random Valentine's Day Thoughts

As I'm sure everyone knows, Valentine's Day was last Saturday.  If you're curious about the way we celebrated (or, more accurately, didn't celebrate), the day began with Criminal Minds on Netflix and bowls of cereal.  I later finished reading The Pilo Family Circus, then took a shower and got ready.  We went to Half Price Books for some book shopping (I had a 20% off coupon), and after spending about an hour or so in the store, I found 4 books and Eric found 1.  It was only about $32 for all 5 books, so I was pretty happy about that!  After the bookstore, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  Eric made some delicious bacon guacamole burgers for dinner, and I didn't take a picture because I'm a bad blogger.  We watched several episodes of Friends (somehow we're already on season 5!), and then I had a Skype date with a couple of my girlfriends who moved away last year.  I drank way too much wine (1.5 bottles, to be exact), and had a blast catching up for 6 hours.  I went to bed around 3:00 a.m., drunk and happy.

Eric and I aren't really fans of Valentine's Day, so this obviously wasn't treated as a special day for romance.  It was, however, a really great day spent with a few of my favorite people (even if I only got to see 2 of them via Skype).

The lighting is terrible in this picture, but it's the only one I took on Valentine's Day this year.  I took this right before the Skype date began.

I wouldn't say we're anti-Valentine's Day, but we've never considered it to be a special holiday worth celebrating.  I know that a lot of people love it, but we just ... Don't.

Eric and I made our relationship official in June 2007, so we'd been dating for 8 months by the time our first Valentine's Day together rolled around.  (You can read all about how we met here, if you're interested.)  Even then, we weren't really interested in making a big deal out of it.  Back in 2008, we agreed to just make cards for one another.  That's it.  No flowers, no candy, no special candlelit dinner, and, most importantly, no pressure!

Unfortunately, other people felt the need to make up for this lack of pressure by providing pressure of their own.  Every time someone asked what we were doing for Valentine's Day and I said, "Nothing really ... We're just making each other cards," I'd get a response like, "I would be so pissed if my boyfriend didn't do anything for me!"  I'd then explain that we didn't really want to make a big deal out of Valentine's Day, so we'd agreed that making something small for each other seemed like the best way to celebrate.  It's weird that other people cared so much about what we did (or didn't) do for Valentine's Day, but, for whatever reason, they did.

Eric put it best when he said, "Valentine's Day is supposed to be a celebration of love, but I think you can show love any day of the year."  I obviously managed to snag a smart man!

I guess my main point here is that Valentine's Day doesn't have to be a big thing, regardless of whether or not you're in a relationship.  I get that some people just really like holidays or enjoy any excuse for a celebration ... But some of us don't.  And that's okay.

I realize this post was mostly a bunch of random thoughts about Valentine's Day (and a selfie because, well, why not?), so I'll leave you with this very old picture of Eric and me.  This was taken in the summer of 2007, about a month or so after we made things official.  It was his first trip to visit me (if you've read some of my older posts, you may remember that we were in a long distance relationship for a little over 2 years before I moved to Omaha), and I'd taken him for a walk in my favorite park.  Aww, young love (and proof that I should probably always have bangs!).

Eric doesn't really like this picture because he's squinting, but it's one of the earliest pictures of us I could find so I wanted to share it in this post.

If anyone feels like commenting, please feel free to share your thoughts on Valentine's Day.  Are you a fan, or is it just another day for you?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

From the Bookshelf: Recently Read - February 2015 Edition

It's once again time for the Show Us Your Books! link-up (yes, I know the link-up started on Tuesday, but I really wanted to finish another book before posting), and I'm happy to say that I've been keeping a pretty consistent pace with my reading this year.  It took me a little longer than I thought it would to finish a couple of these books (especially The Pilo Family Circus), but I still think I'm on track to finish 50 books in 2015.


The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger - 199 pages

Completed on 01/20/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

I first read this book about 8 years ago.  I thought I remembered a lot of the story, but as I began reading, I realized that I actually remembered very little.  So while this was a reread, it was almost as though I was reading it for the first time ... And that was kind of nice.

The main character in this novel is John Dolan Vincent, though he goes by a variety of names throughout the book.  He's a master of forgery, constantly reinventing himself in order to escape mental institutions, legal authorities, and, most recently, some pretty hardcore criminals who hired him for his talents.

The novel rapidly flips between the past and the present, giving readers insight into John's past and his need to remain on the run as well as his intelligence as he tries to convince the psychiatrist currently interviewing him that he is not suicidal and does not require further evaluation in a mental institution.  Unfortunately for John, this psychiatrist is a little better at his job than some of the others he's fooled in the past.

One of the best things about The Contortionist's Handbook is that it allows the reader a true escape.  What if you could just completely start over without leaving a trace of your old self behind?  Would you do it?  And how many times could you do it before you started to crack?  Before your new reality and the truth began to run together?  Before someone figured you out?  These are just a few of the questions that might arise as you're reading, and they're all (at least in my opinion) interesting things to consider.

I loved this book the first time I read it, and I was happy to find that I still loved it the second time around.  It's one of those books that starts strong and doesn't let up until the very end (and even then you want just a little more).


Deranged by Harold Schechter - 303 pages

Completed on 02/01/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

Like The Contortionist's Handbook, this was a reread.  I read Deranged for the first time during my senior year of college (sometime between the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2006) while I was researching serial killers for my Honors thesis.

Deranged is the only nonfiction book I read during January.  It tells the story of Albert Fish, a harmless looking elderly man who was guilty of some of the most shocking and brutal crimes against children in the 1920s and 1930s.  While he's not the most famous American serial killer, he's certainly one of the most terrifying.

There are things that I really appreciated about this book, such as the obvious effort the author put into researching Albert Fish and his crimes and his ability to paint a vivid picture of the era in which these crimes took place.  On the other hand, I had a love/hate relationship with the way he presented the story.

The author attempted to make the book read like a work of fiction.  This isn't a terrible thing, since I wouldn't want to just read a book full of dry facts.  Schechter was obviously trying to keep the story fresh and interesting, and I could definitely appreciate that.  Unfortunately, there were times when it felt like he was trying too hard to make it seem like a novel.  I don't know if it was an effort to gloss over the horror (I mean, you almost want it to be fiction) or if he just thought it would spice things up to write it this way, but it kind of annoyed me at times.

This is one of those books that you'll probably appreciate if you're a fan of true crime and/or you're interested in learning more about serial killers.  If you're not into either of those things, Deranged is definitely not the book for you.


The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott - 300 pages

Completed on 02/14/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

This book has been sitting on my shelves for at least 2 or 3 years.  I was actually really excited about it when I bought it, but, for whatever reason, I never got around to reading it.  Since I'm really trying to get through 50 books in 2015, I knew I'd pick it up at some point this year.

The Pilo Family Circus is, in a word, bizarre.  I'd venture to say this book would fall under the "bizarro fiction" category (the only thing I could even remotely compare it to is Satan Burger by Carlton Mellick III, which, despite the strange title and odd premise, is actually very good), though it's also been described as "horror."  I'm terrified of clowns, so when I originally picked this book up, I thought I might be in for some nightmares.  (If you're curious, the only novel that has ever given me nightmares was A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans.  It's scary as fuck, but I loved it and would definitely read it again in the future.)

The Pilo Family Circus wasn't nightmare fuel for me, though.  While there were definitely some creepy scenes (and a lot of death!), it was also full of dark humor and interesting characters.  On the surface the book seems like it's just a weird work of fiction, but the underlying themes are much deeper than they appear.

The novel follows Jamie, a young Australian man in his 20s just trying to get by.  He lives in squalor with a few roommates (mostly drug dealers and/or addicts), and goes to a boring job he hates every evening.  One night as he's heading home from work, he sees something very strange: 3 clowns in his neighborhood.  He hides in order to watch them, unseen, and subsequently picks up a small velvet pouch filled with some kind of powder after one of the clowns tosses it into the night.  This later proves to be a very stupid move, as the powder is much more valuable than he ever could have imagined.

After toying with him for a while, the clowns eventually capture Jamie, taking him to The Pilo Family Circus to work with them.  This isn't a typical circus, though ... It's in a strange area of space that's essentially a borderline between Hell and Earth.  It's a dark place filled with violence and insanity, and, as Jamie is initiated into the group of clowns, he realizes it is also a place filled with magic.  When he applies his white face paint, he not only looks like a clown ... He becomes someone else entirely, a wild, dangerous clown named JJ.

I don't want to share much more about the plot than that, mostly because I hope that at least a few people who read this will want to pick up the book themselves.  I hate when books (or movies!) are spoiled for me in a review, so I really try to avoid doing that.  I will say, though, that The Pilo Family Circus takes many common themes (good vs. evil, power and corruption, etc.) and twists them into something fresh and interesting.  Although it took me a while to finish it, it wasn't because it was boring.  (It wasn't at all.)  I just got kind of busy this month (and, if I'm being totally honest, a little obsessed with watching a bunch of shit on Netflix), and reading got pushed down on my list of priorities.

Anyway, I really enjoyed The Pilo Family Circus overall.  I kind of wished it had more horror elements (but I'm weird and actually like to be scared shitless by books, movies, and TV shows) and a better editor (I found multiple typos, which really annoyed me), but I'd read it again in the future.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Stir Fry Spaghetti

Today's recipe is something I threw together after searching Pinterest for meal ideas featuring ground beef.  I couldn't find anything that sounded good, but I did see a recipe for an Asian style beef and noodle dish (even though it didn't use ground beef).  After looking over the recipe, I decided I could easily change it to fit our tastes (and what we had on hand) ... And "Stir Fry Spaghetti" was born.

It may not look like much, but this meal is packed with flavor.

I decided to call this meal "Stir Fry Spaghetti" because it's not a traditional stir fry, lo mein, or spaghetti.  It combines elements of all three types of dishes (along with flavors similar to those found in this Spicy Thai Beef Rice Bowl), to make a delicious, slightly spicy meal.

This is a great all-in-one meal, and, as an added bonus, it's super quick and easy to prepare.  If you're looking for a great dinner for a busy weeknight, give this a try!

It's really hard for me to plate long noodles, but at least the colors make it look a little nicer.

Stir Fry Spaghetti

Adapted from a recipe on KitchMe.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 16 oz. box linguine noodles
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 12 oz. package frozen sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic paste


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

2.  Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks.

3.  While the meat is cooking, add the linguine to the boiling water.  Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente and drain.

4.  Stir the garlic salt, curry powder, black pepper, Sriracha, and chili garlic paste into the meat.

5.  Add the sliced white onion, sliced red bell pepper, and sugar snap peas.  Cook with the meat until just tender.

6.  Mix in the drained linguine and soy sauce, stirring several times to combine everything thoroughly.

7.  Allow everything to cook together for about 2-3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Since this dish includes meat, vegetables, and starch, I didn't make any sides to go along with it.  It doesn't really need anything else, but you could always serve it with a side of steamed broccoli (or another steamed vegetable if broccoli isn't your thing) if you think you'll need something else for a more filling dinner.

Monday, February 9, 2015

And Where Was I Before The Day That I First Saw Your Lovely Face?

I mentioned in last week's Tasty Tuesday post that I'd be featuring several posts that fall under the "Love and Relationships" category this month.  When I was trying to decide what I wanted to focus on in today's post, I decided I'd start with something happy and positive (and probably a little mushy).  It's Monday, after all, and most of us probably need a little boost for the start of the work week.  (I know I usually do!)

As anyone who reads this blog on an even somewhat regular basis probably knows, I love music.  When Eric and I were planning our wedding, this was the one aspect I was most excited about (and probably also the most controlling/Bridezilla about).  That being said, it may come as a surprise to many of you that Eric and I don't really have a song.

Since we didn't have a special song, it probably should have been difficult to choose a song for the first dance at our wedding ... But it wasn't.

When we first started planning our wedding, there were very few things I was certain I wanted.  Of those few things, the two I felt most strongly about were related to music (which probably isn't surprising).  I knew that I wanted to walk down the aisle to the VSQ version of Elliott Smith's "Say Yes" and I knew that I wanted our first dance song to be "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds.

Listen to "The Luckiest" here:

I was in college the first time I heard "The Luckiest."  I remember very clearly listening to it, really listening to the lyrics, and thinking, "I want a love like this."

"The Luckiest" is, in my opinion, the perfect love song.  The music is lovely and the lyrics are sweet without being cheesy.  The last verse is actually really sad, but it's also romantic in that "love that will never die" kind of way.  (If you're not familiar with the song, that verse tells the story of a couple in their 90s.  The man dies, and his wife dies only a couple of days later because she can't bear to live without him.  As I said, it's sad ... But that's honestly the kind of "depths of my soul" kind of love I always wanted.  And now I feel so lucky because I've found it.)

I like a lot of songs by Ben Folds, but "The Luckiest" is by far my favorite.  And now it will forever be one of my favorite songs because it will always remind me of my wedding day and how happy I was in that moment, dancing with my new husband.

This was my favorite wedding photo.  It was taken during our first dance, and we didn't even realize our photographer was taking pictures at the time ... We were just lost in the moment.  We ordered a large print of it, and one day we'll actually frame it and hang it up!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Worst Enemy To Creativity Is Self-Doubt: My February Goals

I keep saying that I really don't like posting on the weekend, but I've been doing it a lot lately.  I guess sometimes it just works better with my schedule (especially if I haven't been able to plan ahead and schedule posts throughout the week, which is definitely my preferred method of blogging).  I don't have the kind of job that allows me time to blog, so I have to use whatever free time I have to write.  While I admittedly have quite a bit of free time right now, I've been using large chunks of it to go to the gym, cook slightly more time consuming meals, read, and spend time with Eric or friends.  And, if I'm being honest, I've also been using large chunks of my free time for less productive things, like watching Netflix and playing Trivia Crack.  This obviously doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging (or writing creatively, for that matter).  When I started considering how I was using (or, in some cases, wasting) my time, I was able to decide what I wanted to focus on for this month's "create" personal challenge.

Back Camera
I'm proud to say that I took this photo back in 2012 when I went to Seattle with a couple of my friends.  (And, believe it or not, this is an iPhone photo!)  I didn't even have to edit it in any way (other than to add the incredibly appropriate quote and my blog's name),  I don't often take such great pictures, so I had to brag a little!

My February 2015 Goals:

1.  Create a blogging schedule for at least the next 2 months.  I'm listing this goal first because I think it's a really important one to stick with.  (It helps that this was also one of my New Year's resolutions, so it's definitely something I want to work on!)  As is probably obvious from my frequent weekend posting (and my introduction paragraph in this post!), I haven't been planning ahead very well.  I've basically just been posting whenever I have some quiet time to myself to put something together and, unfortunately, that hasn't been happening that often lately.  I know everyone doesn't work this way, but I can't write if I'm around other people.  (The only exception is taking my laptop with me to a coffeeshop or Panera, but even then I sometimes find it difficult to concentrate.)  Since this is the case, I really need to start figuring out the best times to work on my blog, which days I want to post, and keep more detailed lists of post ideas to help me when I'm feeling uninspired.

2.  Make an effort to write creatively at least once a week.  This was also one of my New Year's resolutions, and I'm sad to say that I haven't been sticking with this at all.  It shouldn't be that difficult to find at least an hour of time each week to sit down and work on a creative writing project (even if I only manage to get a few plot points organized or work on character development), but for some reason it has been.  I'm still not sure if I want to continue working on a novel I started a couple of years ago, or if I want to start something completely new ... But I really need to start writing something.

3.  Come up with a new way to list out the week's meal plan.  While we don't always stick with a meal plan 100% each week, I always try to have some dinner ideas listed in a note on my computer in an effort to stay organized and avoid eating out multiple times because we can't come up with something to make at home.  While it's not a bad way to make a list, it's kind of boring.  I'm not great with graphics, but I'd like to make something a little more fun using PicMonkey (my go-to site for photo editing and graphics for my blog).  If it looks nice enough, I may even start sharing our weekly meal plans.

4.  Create an original recipe.  This is yet another one of my New Year's resolutions (well, I want to create at least 3 original recipes over the course of the year), and since this month's personal challenge theme is "create," it seemed like the perfect time to start chipping away at this goal.  I actually already have something in mind, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it actually turns out the way I want it to!

5.  My last goal for this month is something I can't share right now because it's a surprise for Eric and he reads my blog.  I'll just say that it definitely fits with the "create" theme, and it's a (very!) long overdue wedding anniversary gift.  (Yes, I know that's sad ... Our anniversary was November 9th and I still haven't finished his gift.  I suck.)

I consider myself to be a pretty creative person, but it was kind of hard to come up with some goals for this month.  As I mentioned in Thursday's post, I'm not a crafty, DIY kind of girl.  I think if I were, it might have been a little easier to come up with some projects for February.  I could have decided to paint a room or knit a scarf or work on a scrapbook (though scrapbooking is actually something I would like to eventually get into, especially after Eric and I start a family) ... But, since most of my creativity is related to writing and cooking, I decided my best bet was to just incorporate those passions/talents into my goals.

Hopefully I'll be able to make better use of my free time and accomplish all of these goals this month!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Monthly Personal Challenge Link-up: January Results

Not Entirely Perfect

I know that everyone says things like this, but I seriously can't believe that January is already over.  The month just sort of flew by for me, and I think that will become very obvious as I share my monthly personal challenge results.

It's ironic, really ... The theme for January's personal challenge was complete, yet I managed to only complete about 50% of my goals.  I'm kind of embarrassed that I did such a shitty job sticking with my goals last month.  And, honestly, I'm not sure why I couldn't bring myself to complete everything (other than the fact that I sometimes have difficulty following through on personal projects, of course).  It wasn't a particularly hectic month, and I feel like I had plenty of free time to finish these projects.  I just ... Didn't.

To recap, my original goals were as follows:

1.  Finish the 4 books on my January "to read" list in an effort to get a good start on completing my 50 book challenge this year.

2.  Write a review for each book I read and feature it on this blog.  Additionally, I wanted to start participating in at least one book-related link-up.

3.  Organize my blog's Pinterest account.

4.  Update my "About Me" page on Divulge and Indulge.

I already mentioned that I only managed to cross about 50% of these things off my "to do" list, but I'll discuss my results in a little more detail here:

1.  I'm happy to report that I actually finished 4 books in January and am currently working through book 5 of the year!  I've attempted the 50 book challenge numerous times in the past, but I've always failed.  I usually fall behind early on and really struggle to catch up, so this was actually very encouraging.

2.  I'll call this goal complete even though it's more like 50% complete.  I shared my thoughts on The End of Everything and The Dinner in this post, and also managed to finish part 2 of this goal by sharing my post in the Show Us Your Books! link-up.  I'll be posting reviews for the other 2 books I read in January (as well as the book I'm reading now if I manage to finish it in the next few days) next week when the next Show Us Your Books! link-up rolls around.  Although I didn't share a review for each book yet, I feel confident that I can mark this goal as "completed" since I have a deadline for finishing the rest of my January book reviews.

These were the books I read last month.

3.  The Pinterest account organization was a big fat failure.  I logged into the account I created specifically for this blog exactly 1 time, stared blankly at the screen as I tried to determine exactly how I wanted it to look/what I wanted to share, and then promptly logged out, logged back into my personal Pinterest account, and started searching for recipes and cute outfits.  Clearly not my best effort.  This is something I'd really like to accomplish at some point this year, but I just wasn't in the mood to work on it at all last month.

4.  When I posted my January goals, I kind of knew I wouldn't be able to rewrite my "About Me" page.  It was by far the least time consuming goal on this list, but when I couldn't immediately come up with at least a few things I wanted to share about myself and my blog, I knew it wasn't going to happen.  It's funny because I post random shit about myself and my life on this blog all the time, yet I find an actual introduction strangely difficult to write.  What do I want people to know about me if they're checking out my blog for the first time?  What was my inspiration for creating this blog?  Why did I choose the name?  Why do I blog at all?  These are all great questions that I should probably be answering on my "About Me" page ... But for some reason every time I try to rewrite it, everything comes out in a jumbled mess and I'm like, "Fuck it, I'm done."  (And yes, I know that's a winning attitude.)  This is also something that really needs to be done at some point this year (preferably within the next month or so), so hopefully I can figure out what I want to say soon.

As I said earlier, I'm kind of embarrassed that I wasn't able to complete more of my goals last month.  I guess that just means I'll have to work harder this month on my new goals!

Speaking of my February goals, I'll be sharing those in a post either tomorrow or Saturday.  Since I started participating in this link-up, I've been writing separate posts for my results and my new goals.  I started doing this simply because it was more convenient (I didn't have new goals in mind when I sat down to review the previous month, I didn't have time to write a really long post, etc.), but I think I prefer to keep them separate.  (And, if I'm being honest, I don't have my new goals completely figured out yet anyway.)

This month's theme is "create."  While I consider myself a pretty creative person in some aspects, I'm definitely not a DIY kind of girl.  (Sorry ... There won't be any amazing craft tutorials or anything like that.)  I really need to figure out what I should focus on, though, because I don't want to set so many goals that I'll never realistically be able to stick with them all.  I don't want a repeat of this month, after all!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Grilled Steaks with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and Red Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Eric and I really aren't Valentine's Day people, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the fact that for many couples, the month of February is associated with love and romance.  (Or, if not the entire month, at least February 14th is associated with those things.)

Because of this, I'm going to be writing more posts that fall under the "Love and Relationships" category this month.  Not all of my posts will be related to this topic (I mean, yesterday's post obviously wasn't), but there will probably be a few more posts than usual on those subjects.

Today's post is no different.  While I'm sticking with my usual "Tasty Tuesday" post, I'm going to be sharing a couple of recipes that are ideal for a romantic night in.  (Assuming, of course, that you want to avoid the crowds and the inflated Valentine's Day menu prices.)

Eric and I made this meal together a couple of weeks ago, though it wasn't for a special occasion.  After eating it, though, we were both impressed with ourselves and agreed that it was almost like we were eating at a nice restaurant at a fraction of the cost.

At that moment, I decided I'd save it to post around Valentine's Day.  It's perfect because while it seems fancy, it's really easy to make.  It also comes together fairly quickly, so you won't find yourself slaving away in the kitchen for hours.

I wish the lighting had been better when I took these pictures, but you can at least get the idea.

I don't think I've ever shared two recipes in one Tasty Tuesday post before, but since both of these are so simple and they pair so well, I figured what the hell.  It seemed like a good idea, and hopefully it will help at least a few people who are struggling with ideas for a home cooked Valentine's Day dinner.  (Or, if you're like us, maybe it will just inspire you to do something a little different with the usual "steak and potatoes" dinner.)

Grilled Steaks with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Tasty Kitchen.

Ingredient List:
  • 2-4 steaks (We only used 2, but this recipe will definitely make enough sauce to cover 4 steaks.  We used sirloin steaks, but you can use whatever type of steak you like for this recipe.)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg


1.  Grill the steaks to your desired level of doneness.  I won't detail how to grill a steak in this post because it's one of those things that most people already know how to do (and everyone has their preferred method).  We simply used our little George Foreman grill and they turned out beautifully.  I will say, though, that Eric lightly rubbed our steaks with a little garlic salt and black pepper before throwing them on the grill.  Please note that gorgonzola cheese is very salty, so make sure you don't use too much salt in your rub!

2.  Add the heavy cream, gorgonzola cheese, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, and ground nutmeg to a small saucepan.

3.  Allow the ingredients to simmer over medium heat, whisking continuously until the cheeses are mostly melted.  (It took about 5 minutes for the cheese to melt in my sauce, and, as you can see from my pictures, there were still a few lumps of gorgonzola.  I was worried about that at first, but the picture from the original recipe I used showed sauce with a few lumps as well, so it's obviously normal.)

4.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve warm.

I mixed some of the sauce into my potatoes after I took these pictures, and it was a fantastic combination!

Red Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Allrecipes.

Ingredient List:
  • 8-10 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Garlic salt to taste (I used quite a bit, but I didn't measure it out.  I basically just added some, tasted, added more, tasted, and so on until it was to my liking.)
  • Black pepper to taste (Again, I used quite a bit, but I didn't measure it out.  I also just added/tasted until the potatoes had the flavor I wanted.)


1.  Place the cubed potatoes in a large pot and fill the pot with enough water to completely cover all of the potatoes.  Bring the water to a boil and allow the potatoes to cook until fork tender (about 10 minutes).

2.  Drain the potatoes, then place them in a large bowl.  You can use a hand mixer if you like, but I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer (I used the flat beater attachment.)

3.  Add the butter, then gently beat to combine.

4.  Stir in the minced garlic and gently beat to combine.

5.  Pour in the heavy cream, gently beating to combine.  (As you can see, you'll want to mix the ingredients with each addition.)

6.  Add garlic salt and black pepper to taste.  (I beat the potatoes gently after each addition here as well to ensure everything was well blended.  Again, make sure you taste after adding the spices to determine how much you need.)

Pair these two things with a salad or vegetable (I made steamed broccoli, as you can see from the pictures) and a glass of wine, and you've got a delicious, flavorful, restaurant quality meal.  This was seriously one of the best things I've ever made at home, and, as I said earlier, it would be perfect for Valentine's Day (or any other day when you want to wow your significant other with an amazing dinner)!