27 January 2013

Buttery Lemon Rosemary Salmon

According to a lot of people with far more extensive knowledge about these things than myself, seafood is good for you. White fish is fine, but the really nutritious kinds are the big ones like swordfish, tuna, and salmon. The catch-22 in a nation of mass produced goods is that the frozen bulk bags and even some of what's found in the "fresh" seafood case at large grocery stores (excluding Whole Foods, of course) are fish from FARMS. 

That's bad.

Besides being raised and "living" in an unnatural environment from normal fish development, the colorful ones, salmon especially, are DYED pink because the improper growth has greyed their meat. And the FDA says that's okay. Gross. 

So when buying fish-- and I know it's not cheap-- go for wild caught.  


Our little local grocer had a nice shipment of salmon a couple weeks ago. They had already cut filets OR you could get salmon (and sturgeon) steaks cut to your preferred size.

That's right: there was a giant salmon body in the case ready for "steaking."  How awesome is that?!  They also have beef feet and sheeps heads-- it's trippy.  So for 10 bucks I got the 2 beautiful filets you see above (did I mention buying local is a heck of a lot cheaper?!).

The recipe comes from Practical Paleo-- a must have for anyone looking into this lifestyle-- and so far everything from that book has been phenomenal.

The original recipe calls for broiling on a low broil setting, but since I can't use my broiler (gotta love luxury apartment living!!!) I baked the salmon at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes.... or cook it to your liking.... do whatever you want, okay! See if I care! 

I also used grass-fed butter (Kerry Gold brand) but you can use regular as well. No pressure. I paired my delightful meal with a loose leaf Yunnan Golden Pu-reh black tea from Teavana. Black tea is great for circulation, your blood, and heart. It was heavenly.

A side of fresh salad and strawberries completed the meal.  Needless to say, it was completely filling, Michael was a happy camper, and it was one of the easiest meals to put together.  Next time you decide to splurge on seafood, try the salmon.

Buttery Lemon Rosemary Salmon


1 lb wild salmon, either whole or in however many portions you need
2 Tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil
1 lemon, 1/2 is for juice and the other half is thinly sliced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp rosemary

Preheat oven to 500 degrees OR low broil setting

In a small bowl, combine rosemary and sea salt. Set aside. Place thinly sliced pats of butter in a baking dish, or spread ghee or coconut oil over the bottom of the dish. Place salmon in the dish and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the filets. Sprinkle with rosemary-salt mixture. Add more pats of butter to the salmon and top with thin slices of lemon.

Bake or broil for 10-12 minutes until prepared to your liking.

25 January 2013

Baked (or Roasted) Chicken

According to cooking experts-- also known as "chefs"-- the true "tell" of a great cook is how well they roast a chicken.  Seriously... I read that somewhere. It's not as simple a task as it sounds-- trust me. Are the white AND dark meats moist but not undercooked? Is the skin crispy with a light brown tint?! Did you use the correct seasonings in the correct amounts?!?!

Lucky for you, I'm a Chicken Whisperer.

Growing up, I ate baked chicken A LOT.  Both of my parents worked at our church-- my dad as the choir director and my mom as the accompanist-- so during the school year, Wednesdays consisted of school, homework, children's choir, home for dinner, back to church to do homework while my parents rehearsed Senior Choir, then home to bed. When I entered junior high, children's choir ended just in time for youth group and 2 years of Confirmation.... yay. Then I matured to high school and joined adult handbells, Senior Choir, and directed the Children's Chime Choir for three years (OMG guys, are you impressed?!?!).

Like I said, we ate baked chicken a lot, especially on Wednesdays.

While I love my mother deeply-- I think it's safe to say we're besties-- her chicken was D-R-Y.  Don't worry guys, I'd never tell you anything about her I couldn't say to her face (and in this case already have-- love you Mom!). My scarred childhood of dry chicken left my badass adult self with two major life choices: never bake chicken again or bake the best damn chicken this side of the Mississippi! 

So here we are today: you wondering why I droned on about a lame chicken story and me about to share my secrets to great chicken.

The photos I have for you are an example of Baked Chicken, but I also use a roasting pan when I'm feeling saucy.

For this guy, I used my Pampered Chef Stoneware Deep Covered Baker. It's a great kitchen piece, and you can even cook a whole chicken in ten minutes using your microwave, but for the best results, take your time. 
There was plenty of room as the chicken was only 2 pounds, so I threw in veggies to take care of a side dish. Doesn't he look cozy? 

You might be wondering what's sticking out of the cavity or what spices I've used-- an excellent question. I first begin the process by crushing a glove of garlic and rubbing it all over the skin (top AND bottom). Then I surround the chicken with veggies and squeeze fresh lemon juice over everything (don't forget to get some underneath). After the lemon, I rub the chicken in quality olive oil and sprinkle a bit more over the vegetables. Place a couple garlic cloves, an onion wedge, and a lemon piece inside the cavity for moisture. You can also use apple pieces.

The best thing about poultry is the meat's flavor adaptability-- try various kinds of spice combinations until you find one you love.  If you're ever stumped, refer back to Simon & Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair.

Just add a salad and voila: a beautiful paleo meal!  It's easy, low maintenance, and utterly satisfying. Be sure to save the bones to make broth.  I hope you give this recipe a try-- it's perfect for dinner parties!

If you're also a Chicken Whisperer and have your own signature chicken recipe, send it my way-- I love to try new recipes! 

Baked Chicken

Serves 2-4 people


1 whole chicken, 2-2.5 pounds
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 lemon, cut into 2 wedges
1-2 Tbsp olive oil (or melted coconut oil) plus a little extra
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste

2 carrots, cut into 2 inch sticks
1 yellow onion, cut into 6-8 wedges


Rub chicken with garlic, place in Deep Covered Baker (a Dutch oven or deep casserole dish will work), and surround with onions and carrots.  Squeeze juice from 1 lemon wedge over chicken and veggies, then rub the chicken all over with olive oil, sprinkling the veggies with some as well.  Sprinkle the chicken with spices.

As I said above: "Place a couple garlic cloves, an onion wedge, and a lemon piece inside the cavity for moisture. You can also use apple pieces."

After baking your chicken covered for an hour at 375 degrees (for a 2-2.5lb bird, you can find a chart of times & weights here), remove lid and put the baker back in the over for another ten minutes to crisp the skin. If your veggies are still underdone, remove the chicken and let them cook another 10 to 15 minutes until fork tender. (The temperature of the meat should be at 165 degrees)

Carve, serve, enjoy!

Hodge Podge Tips
  • If you like using PSRT, feel free to alter the amounts to your taste. 
  • You can use whatever sturdy roasting vegetables you want. I'd recommend any root vegetables cut up similarly to the carrots so they cook, or you can toss in brussels sprouts, potato wedges (if not doing Paleo), broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

24 January 2013

Ordinary Magic: A Book Review

Like I've said in the past: I'm a sucker for a beautiful book cover. So when I came across this baby in Barnes & Noble--

I shouted "COLOR!" in my head and promptly plucked it from the shelf to read a couple chapters.

I was hooked.

Ordinary Magic, extraordinarily dreamed up and written by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, introduces readers to a world where magic is the norm-- everyone has it, uses it, lives with it. Except "Ords."  Ords  are, for those of us who are Harry Potter fans, Squibs: non-magical people born from magic folk.  However, unlike in the world of J.K. Rowling, ords become "its," less than human, looked at by people as expendable, the shame of one's family, nameless things to be bought and sold into servitude (even though King Steve made ord slavery illegal) or simply forgotten.

However, having no magic also means that ords are IMMUNE to magic, making them valuable to "adventurers"-- men and women in search of treasures or relics or monsters to kill. Ords can bypass magical traps, spells, whatever, but are unable to benefit from magical healing and being saved if they fall off a cliff. Bummer.

On page one we meet Abby Hale, the youngest of five children born to a magical baker (or bake-ess, if you will) and flying carpet maker (that's how they travel-- awesome!). Abby is on her way to the Judging, a ceremony for 12 year olds to have their magic level evaluated for school.... I think you see where this is going.

Abby, it turns out, is completely devoid of any magic and one hundred percent "ordinary." At this point, society expects Abby's family to cast her out, sell her to the local Guild, or auction her to traveling adventurers. Instead, the Hales are a loving, tight-knit family who will do everything in their power to protect their daughter. Fortunately, Abby's eldest sister, Alexa-- a bada** witch-- runs a private school for ords in the city of Rothermere, where she can be educated on self-defense, survival, history, math, literature, and how to wash dishes. She meets friends along the way, runs into a couple sketchy adventurers, and has to learn a new way of life.

Ordinary Magic has a well-paced story with dimensional characters and heart-warming relationships, creating a world to which I'm excited to return.  It's for anyone who loves fantasy, YA novels, a great story, and especially Harry Potter fans who are always on the hunt for another book to read after finishing that series. While the story centers around these ordinary children, the magical world is charming and open for even further development in future books.

I absolutely loved this book! Abby is a wonderful, witty girl with spunk, honesty, and a big heart; she's not perfect though: I found myself appropriately frustrated at her naivety and handling of certain situations.... but she's 12! Not only do I love and relate to Abby, but I also connected to the community surrounding our main character. The teachers, especially Becky, have mysterious backstories I'm still waiting to discover, and I'm interested to see how her friends Fran, Peter, and Fred develop.  Oh and I love King Steve. He's just awesome.

Rich themes and an engaging story and characters left me wanting more, more, MORE! I was sad to leave Abby's world, wanting so much to continue my ordinary journey.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Eye of Newts
A big "thank you" to Goodreads for the picture.

16 January 2013

A Visit With Grandma

I realize New Years Day happened... you know... January 1st, but I was busy with a couple projects and therefore (big time) slacking at updating the HPG. So I'm going to reflect on entering 2013 and visiting with my grandma on the first and you can't stop me! (not that you would or anything, I just wanted to create drama)

Though we'd spoken a few months ago after her shoulder surgery, Grandma and I hadn't seen each other since September 2011-- we were overdue for a visit, no?  As luck would have it, the group with whom she regularly travels had planned an excursion to the Rose Bowl Parade with stops in Catalina Island and Los Angeles. 

Hey! That's where I live!

So I drove down to Commerce, CA where she was staying, got lost for 30 minutes after exiting the highway, but still managed to pick up Grandma and her roommate for an afternoon of chatting and showing off our 'hood.  Fortunately my grandma has been to and through LA a few times so she preferred to visit rather than have me play "tour guide" (thank God).  

On our walk through the complex-- where many a picture of trees were taken-- I found these pretty pink flowers had fallen from their tree/bush/home plant. I don't do nature, let alone garden, but Grandma, on the other hand, has a friggin' waterfall that trickles into a koi pond and is surrounded by green stuff-- to say that she likes plants would be an understatement.  Anyway, Grandma insisted I float them in a crystal bowl since that's what you apparently do with flowers dammit! 

(I would like to clarify that the "dammit" is a reflection of my crass mouth and never uttered by my dear sweet grandmother.)

......You've probably noticed that bowl is NOT crystal. In fact, it's a ceramic cereal bowl from Crate & Barrel (let's hear it for wedding gifts!). Not to worry, Grandma said it would do.

Like we do with all our visitors, we took Grandma and Linda (her travel roommate) to the Americana for a paid-for-by-Grandma-because-she-insisted-and-is-awesome dinner at Granville Cafe

I heart this pic. 

Being blessed with seeing family on the First of the Year was a wonderful way to begin 2013. I grew up with a close extended family and therefore a close bond with my grandma. She attended every birthday, holiday, band and choir concerts, graduations, spent many summers at her vacation house in Door County, Wisconsin, and even traveled to Canada on a chorus trip with the family. Not to mention her world traveling has inspired all of her grandkids to get out and experience culture.

You read that right: "WORLD traveling." Grandma has visited all seven continents-- Antarctica was just a few years ago-- most multiple times and her 79 year old awesome self has five more trips planned for this year before her second shoulder surgery, as well as a couple lined up already for 2014. Is she a role model or what?! She uses laughter, love, and family to go through life, not really a surprise considering she's the daughter of Great Grandma Young.

Seeing Grandma, hearing about her travels and future plans was the final push I needed to turn my life around. I want to have children, grandchildren, and, God willing, great grandchildren. I want to know them as adults, I want to have the energy to keep up with everyone, and I want to remain independent. How's that for a resolution?

14 January 2013

Golden Globes 2013 Red Carpet

My first blog of 2013 and it's devoted to criticizing celebrity fashion choices........ off to a great start, I'd say!

This year's Golden Globes Red Carpet could be summed up in one sound effect: *YAWN* I could be dramatic and say something cliche like "I've never been so bored in my entire life!" but that simply isn't true: I took Weather & Climate and Physics in college-- I know 'bored.'

Golden Globes fashion consisted of black, white, nude sequins/lace/sequins AND lace, red, blue, plunging necklines, and a plethora of high slit dresses that made me want to punch Angelina Jolie in the face (What? She started it). Maybe they all had the same stylist? Fashion tedium being the case, you're probably going to hate question my choices because I went for interesting over trendy.  Consider yourselves WARNED. Don't get me wrong, trends are fine, but these beautiful women are supposed to be trendsetters and hardly any of them are taking risks. As a woman whose physically impossible and expensive fashion tastes live vicariously through supermodels and gorgeous celebs, I demand variety, dammit!

Let's go back to the basics for a moment. It's imperative clothing fits otherwise you fall victim to slang terms like "muffin top," "camel toe," or in the case of Alyssa Milano, Debra Messing, Lena Dunham, and Mayim Bialik: fat.

Alyssa Milano - Debra Messing

Lena Dunham -  Mayim Bialik

None of these women comes remotely close to the Hollywood "F word," yet the cuts, fabrics, and styling of the gowns coupled with the camera all add the illusion of extra pounds (or in the case of Ms. Dunham it appears as though she's a little girl wearing mommy's big girl dress). Camera test the dresses first, ladies!

While a great fit is... great (I'm not a thesaurus-- don't judge), hair and makeup will improve, compliment, change, or heinously murder an entire look. 

Case in point: The Bride of Frankenstein Kaley Cuoco.
Normally I'd suggest firing the makeup artist, but let's be fair, Kaley and her posse have eyes and a mirror: friends don't let friends go to a televised awards ceremony wearing a soft dress and goth makeup.

You know what real friends also don't do? They don't let you turn into a plastic surgery monster.
Megan Fox & Brian Austin Green

 Nicole Kidman - Angelica Houston

Beautiful women who would have aged gracefully and instead become increasingly freakish due to the harsh Hollywood criticism and immense pressure. I'm going to spend a blog talking about Botox, plastic surgery, and self-image soon.  Seriously-- Angelica Houston looks like a man.

Time to taste the rainbow of colors (SARCASM!) the Golden Globes offered: black, white, nudes/pale pink (which looks nude on camera so to me it's the same thing), red, and blue. Three of those "colors" are neutrals... someone needs to refresh Hollywood actresses on ROY G BIV. 


Rosie Huntington-Whitely - Eva Longoria

And so begins the decent into plunging necklines and high slits....

Katharine McPhee - Kate Capshaw & Steve Spielberg
.......and it continues...................

Kristen Wiig -  Kate Hudson

..............................oh look, plunging necklines!!!

Guiliana Rancic - Helen Mirren

Like most of the mainstream films released in the last few years, many of the evening's gowns were slightly varied versions of the same thing. 

 Salma Hayek -  Sarah Hyland

See what I mean?

For the sake of practicing decisiveness, Best Dressed goes to Kate Hudson's makeup and therefore her dress because it brings focus to the cosmetic wonder that is her face. I'm awarding Worst Dressed to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for those terrible shoes, poofy collar, and high slit even with the bonus points for dating Jason Statham and having epic side boob.


I like white-- it's classic. As I mentioned above, the dresses are all weirdly similar-- maybe they all had coffee and coordinated? 

Ryan Seacrest & Julianne Hough -  Carly Steel

 Michelle Dockery - Heidi Klum

As you can see, white with gold on the upper bodice was rather popular.

 Francesca Eastwood -  Jennifer Lopez

Perhaps Jennifer Lopez will someday rise above craving attention for her sexuality.

 Anne Hathaway - Lea Michele

Best Dressed goes to Michelle Dockery because I made a sharp inhale when I saw her photo. The  fantastic silhouette coupled with a detailed gold high collar was wonderfully simple: Michelle knows she's beautiful and doesn't need to overcompensate with a high slit (*cough* Heidi Klum!) or showing tons of skin like our Worst Dressed: J Lo. Kudos to her rockin' bod and beauty, but I don't need it shoved in my face at every red carpet event or TV appearance.

Nude/Pale Pink/Sequins

 Hayden Panettiere - Amy Adams

The mermaid compliments both ladies, but Amy is completely washed out. Stick to color, girl!

Isla Fisher - Connie Britton

Anyone else having trouble telling these two women apart?

Kerry Washington's dress needs to figure out its identity. Kristen Bell is an example of how the high collar doesn't work for everyone.

Amanda Seyfried - Megan Fox
There's no Best or Worst Dressed in this category because I fell asleep while trying to decide.

Different shades, different cuts: should be fun :) 

Kathryn Bigelow - Rosario Dawson

Morena Baccarin - Julie Bowen

 Bright and Beaded:
Nicole Richie - Nancy O'Dell

 Dark Blue:
Sally Field - Jodie Foster

Jon Hamm & Jennifer Westfeldt

Best Dressed: Jennifer Westfeldt. Love the cut, color, and different textures. Overall, one cool dress. 
Worst Dressed: Morena Baccarin for the confusing and sad energy emitting from her gown.


First up we have Zooey Deschanel and Jennifer Lawrence wearing the exact same dress. 

Wait.... I'm getting reports that the gowns are, in fact, different.


V-necks with trains.
Claire Danes - Megan Hilty

Sweetheart necklines with trains.
Melissa Rauch - Jennifer Garner

 Tight-busted necklines with men.
Liev Schreiber & Naomi Watts - Carey Lowell & Richard Gere

You wouldn't think the Red Dress category would be dull but here we are, so I'm choosing Claire Danes for Best Dressed because of her awesome hair. Worst Dressed goes to Zooey, Melissa, and Jennifer for picking dresses that need to be accessorized with a steamer. Why are designers sending actresses down the Red Carpet in dresses that wrinkle easily?!

The final category is for the gowns that caught my attention simply by being different. These women tried something different like.... another color or more than one color or a pattern or ANYTHING ELSE.

No, you're not dreaming, Gabby Douglas is wearing canary yellow. And the person she hired to dress her she accessorized with a multi-colored clutch with an emphasis on magenta-- lovely. The dress is simple but in a sea of black, white, and boring, it stands out. 

Hold onto your fascinators, Fashionistas, Jessica Alba also opted for one of the other colors in the rainbow! Is it orange, peach, coral? Who cares?! It compliments her skin, the dress fits beautifully, and I love the orange lip color-- it's hard to pull off. The muppet purse is a risk that works.

I will get slack for this, but I really couldn't care less: I love Lucy Lui in this gown! It's a breath of colorful fresh air. Before you jump on the "it looks like my grandma's curtains!" bandwagon, just remember that Julie Andrews made dresses out of curtains in The Sound of Music and no one questions Dame Julie Andrews who is a grandma!!! 
The well-tailored yet clean cut of the ball gown offsets the busy pattern; add fresh makeup and a fishtail braid to Lucy's "I love my dress!" smile and you've got a fun, interesting fashion choice.

Okay, let's start with the cons: high slit (does every woman want to be Angelina Jolie?!), odd cut out on the left hip, and the ILLUSION of one sad, sagging boob. 
I love this dress and almost gave my overall Best Dressed Award to Halle Berry, mostly because she doesn't age and that deserves major props.  The dress fits her perfectly, the colors accent her gorgeous skin, the pattern is cool, and the silhouette is fabulous. It's modern art meshed with a sari.

Overall Awards
Worst Dressed
It feels a bit hypocritical to call someone the "worst dressed" when you're sitting in a comfy chair wearing stretch pants, a lacy camisole, no bra, an over-sized man's sweatshirt, your greasy hair clipped back, and absolutely no makeup. (Are you picturing me in all my loveliness?!?!)

But dammit, I'm going to do it anyway!

Breasts: the hetero man's weakness and bane of many a woman's existence. Natural ones are untamable and, depending on the size, make wearing certain necklines impossible. While I applaud Jessica Chastain's stubborn resistance against the drooping of her cleavage, alas, the girls are flailing in a sea of blue cloth with no hope of rescue. Add to that the pleating under the bust, Jessica's unfathomable pose pulling the skirt against her legs thus giving herself a pooch, and a color washing out her alabaster skin and you have the Golden Globes 2013 Red Carpet Worst Dressed Winner!!! The face of the woman behind her says it all.

Congratulations, Jessica-- you've earned it!

And the Golden Globes 2013 Red Carpet Best Dressed Award goes to...

Rachel Weisz 

I'm laughing to myself because I imagined some of you while reading the winner's name heard a record scratching and shouted "WHAT?!" in your heads.

Believe me, I'm just as shocked as you are, but I love love LOVE the retro Forties style of Rachel's ensemble. I kept going back to this photo-- the dress wouldn't get out of my head!-- and each time liked everything more and more. From the polka dot netting to the maroon nails & lips to the shoes (and the gorgeous legs attached to them-- flaunt it, girl!), the side swept curled hair, and overall fit... The Lady is a Vamp (Spice Girls anyone?!).  Plus it doesn't hurt to accessorize with husband Daniel Craig. First verse of the SG song says "She's a Bond babe"-- PERFECT!

Normally I prefer classic gowns, but I was lost in a river of boredom until I got to Weisz-- it's a risk that paid off.

I hope you had fun reading and a big thank you to Yahoo and Huffington Post for the photos. I also want to thank the celebrity beauties for being brave enough to walk the Red Carpet knowing their fashion choices will be scrutinized and judged my millions of random people like myself around the world. I applaud you, ladies-- GIRL POWER!

Thanks for tuning in-- Welcome to 2013!!

EDIT 1-14-13 at 1pm PST: After seeing other photos around the Interweb, I now realize that Jennifer Westfeldt's dress is not dark blue, but violet. Whoops! So.... I'm aware. Sorry for the incorrect categorization.