The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies!

You're welcome....

Bacon chocolate chip cookies

Candied bacon
1 pkg thick cut bacon
brown sugar
Chocolate chip cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (room temp)
1 pkg Ghirardelli 60% bitter-sweet chocolate chips

1. Candied bacon: preheat the oven to 350 F. Lay bacon on  parchment covered baking sheet so they are not overlapping. Sprinkle about 2 tsp brown sugar evenly on each strip of bacon. Bake for 12 minutes, remove, flip bacon & drag it through the syrupy liquid collected on the baking sheet. Cook bacon back in the oven for another 12-15 minutes, until it is fully cooked and dark. Remove the strips from the sheet and cool on a wire rack. When cool - chop them or quickly food process into tiny pieces.
2. Cookies: Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips  and bacon pieces.
3. Spoon dough onto ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool! God Bless the pig!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 14 - The End and The Beginning

What made me decide to think I could lost 10 pounds in 14 days DURING the most wonderful foodie time of the year? Well, I'll tell you, as a writer who deplores weather that is not conducive to flip flops, I found it very easy to remain sitting at my desk, my little heater puffing out warm air, while bitter wind lashed at the windows. I became cranky. Sluggish. My writing was starting to suffer. I didn't even feel like walking Diablo who would lay on the floor staring at me WAITING for me to get my walking shoes on. I'd noticed I was eating more than ever, thinking, hey, it's the HOLIDAYS. As the scale creeped up, my normally sunny disposition started to sink and I knew I had to take action NOW.
I gave myself 14 days (ending the day before my birthday) - I worked out at Snap Fitness Lansdale  and seriously cut back on the sweets/fried food/and even - dare I say it - alcohol.
I worked out a total of 12 days. I lost 7 pounds the first week (mostly water weight probably). I HATED going the first few times. Dreaded it. But somewhere around day 5/6 - something clicked and I looked forward to going. It was one of the coldest weeks on record, and yet I had no problem racing out to a freezing car to drive almost 15 minutes to Lansdale.
I loved the gym. You know how when you're out of shape and you think "God, I don't want other people staring at me!" Well - it won't happen here. A) The cardio faces TV's on the wall (not looking out onto the weights). And it's a quiet place. I don't think there was ever a time when there was more than 3 people at the same time I was there, and more often than not, I had the whole place to myself. It's relatively a new gym and I almost hate telling people how much I love it because I don't want it to be crowded, but I want this gym to stick around, so I'm spreading the word.
Mike, the manager, had warned me that losing 10 pounds in 14 days was probably not going to happen and I was setting myself up for disappointment.
Did I lose 10 pounds? Nope. After the water weight leveled out and the hangover derailment (see day 12)  I only lost 5, which is still pretty damn good. But it's what I GAINED that matters. I learned that (for me) it motivated me to have a big hairy audacious goal. My discipline held out for the most part, turning down Five Guys, Daddy Pops, and even lunch at Wegmans. My energy increased after about day 5. My sunny disposition is back and bigger than ever. My creative think tank is back to full speed. My legs are tightening up and my jeans are loose. I have no problems falling asleep (I was having problems before starting the fitness blitz).
During the blitz, I read several "Fitness" books - most contradicted each other "It's all about diet" "It's all about exercise" "Don't eat fruit" "Eat fruit" "Don't eat fat" "Our bodies need fat" -
I think what it comes down to is this: It's good to have a plan. It's good to have a goal and chart your progress. There's nothing wrong with picking a fitness/diet program as long as you realize there's not ONE PERFECT plan out there. I think the smart choice is to choose something and try it for a month. See how you feel. If you feel energetic and happy, stick with it. Switch it out for something else if you've followed it but you're not seeing any results. Switch it out if you get bored. If we weren't meant to have variety in our life, there would only be one season, one fruit, one vegetable, one spice. Don't get locked into finding perfection - instead focus on getting healthy.
Keys to my success: A fitness journal - tracking my workouts/food intake/energy levels.
Blogging about it - I don't care if one person reads it or no one reads it - knowing that SOMEONE might be reading though, kept me going back to the gym and trying to stay focused because I knew I'd have to blog about it.
Going to a gym - it got me out of the house (even on days I really didn't want to leave), the change of scenery and a wide variety of equipment helped keep me on track. Not to mention, it's not so much about the calories I burned, it's about the endorphins I released while working out. Driving home from the gym, I felt GOOD. Like I could take on the world and win!
I'm taking the next four days off - my birthday - thru Christmas - as there are many food feasts planned - but I'm not going to go wild - and already I can't wait to get back to the gym!
If you're thinking about joining a gym in the New Year, consider Snap Fitness Lansdale. I've met one of the 2 owners and of course, the manager Mike, and they are down to earth, no "hidden" motivation or designs to sell you "training" or "diet plans" or anything. Snap is a franchise, and they do not own the Snap in Hatfield, but if you sign up with the Lansdale Snap, you can use ANY Snap Fitness facilities.Here's my review on Yelp which cuts through all the bullshit I blah blah blah about on my blog and gets right down to the details of the gym:
http://bit.ly/eIlhnCIt is totally possible to be a foodie and be fit, but like anything in life, it's all about cause and effect/input/output.
You know the saying "Nothing tastes as good as being fit feels." And, with the exception of bacon mac n cheese, that's totally true.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 13 - Back to Reality

After yesterday's debacle/hangover, I'm up 3 pounds. 3 FKING pounds. Granted, it's probably because I'm bloated from the movie popcorn (did I mention I had Twizzlers too?) which was nice and salty and had all that fake oily yummy in a delusional way butter!
Did I mention The Fighter is a fabulous movie?
Ah, well, that was yesterday - this is today - it was great getting back into the gym. I started doing Todd Durkin's workout. No one was in the gym so I had it all to myself which was GREAT because I had to re-read instructions in the book and use equipment I rarely used before (Kettle balls, resistance bands). But after I was done, I felt awesome and so glad I was back in the gym.
I headed to Barnes and Noble afterward to read a few more "fitness" books (I'm still toying with the idea of trying out a years worth of "fitness/diet" programs month by month), then rushed home as I promised I'd babysit for friends.
I ran into trouble because, in all my rushing around, I neglected to eat. And then a package of Christmas cookies arrived from my mom. And well, of COURSE, I had to sample the Crinkles and rum balls (were they better than mine?? I'm a competitive cook/baker and won't lie when I say it gives me a special thrill to beat my mom's cooking/baking). Then off to babysit. And guess what? On the counter was money and a note that said the kids love take out pizza - and the kids also told me the love beer batter onion rings and fries. Sigh. I probably could have had more discpline had I not broken down and had the cookies earlier - AND, also in the back of my mind is knowing that we're going out to dinner on Wednesday, and then Thursday is the Christmas Eve FEAST. So, what is one little tiny (read GIGANTIC) slice of pizza gonna do? And a few onion rings.
Well, what it did was made me feel bad for a little while. After of course, the initial yumminess of the gooey, stringy, tangy cheese was devoured and appreciated.
But then I got over it. I had one slice, for Gods sake - a few onion rings - it's not like I ate a whole pie and a whole bag of rings!
Tomorrow is a new day. The last day of the Birthday Fitness Blitz. It hasn't been perfect, but it's been a huge learning experience about what I'm capable of - and offered some surprising results.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 12 - Hello, Hangover!

Coconut Cake from Phils Tavern
OH. No.
The good news is: I only had two martini's last night (but because I've been eating clean (for the most part) I think they really knocked me out.
I didn't order any dinner - which was awkward as we were with family, but, I HATE ordering dinner, getting this HUGE plate, having a few bites, and then hauling it home. It seems like such a waste of money. The truth was, I just wasn't hungry. So why order because "it's the thing to do."  This is why I like tapas. Small plates. Variety.
Also- my eyes landed on the dessert menu and COCONUT CAKE (which I was thinking about making for Christmas Eve dinner!) and I KNEW that was what I wanted to eat.
I only had a few bites because it was soooooooooooooo sweet that a few bites was all that was needed.
Now, today, I am hanging like a dog.
I'm thinking if I'm going to be serious about getting in shape, I'm going to have to limit myself to one martini. It wasn't my time OUT that threw me off, it's the next day. When I can barely move off the couch and know I need to eat in order to sop up the alcohol effects on my system. So I ended up having chicken salad and about a cup of gnocchi. Also a few more bites of my cake (brought almost ALL of it home) - and then we went to see The Fighter (which was FABULOUS) and I got a free popcorn with my Regal Card (which was GREAT since I was dying for something crunchy and salty).
So. No gym. Horrible food choices. Was it worth the 3 hours of giddiness the night before? No. Not at all.
Lesson Noted. Learned? I have no idea. We'll have to wait until the next dinner outing!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 11 - Pre-Martini Workout

Knowing that we are going out to eat tonight, I worked out extra hard - 30 minute cardio, then lifted concentrated on legs and shoulders. I had a banana after my workout and for breakfast, John actually MADE me breakfast! This is a HUGE deal as he seldom cooks anything but oatmeal! I had two eggs and whole wheat toast! My energy is most definitely up and I'm sleeping well! I'm hoping to have discipline tonight - 1 martini and eat somewhat healthy.

Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth Meet (Video Cartoon)

Watch all the way through. Apologies to all my friends that live in Texas and NYC. One of my friends posted this on Facebook and I watched it while sitting in an elementary school waiting for a Christmas program to start. I couldn't stop laughing and people stared at me like I was C-R-A-Z-Y. Which I'm not. Quirky yes, Crazy, depends who you ask. Anyway - if you're a Phillies fan - ENJOY!

Bottom Dollar Food Chalfont - A Hit In My Book!

OMG - 2.97$ That's CRAZY GOOD!
Oh Joy. Any foodie knows that the opening of ANY food centered place - whether it be a pub, a cafe, or, in this case, a grocery store, is an exciting day!
Yesterday, The Bottom Dollar Food  store opened in Chalfont and I was there to welcome them to my community!
Small but well lit, bright, pleasing to the eyes. This is not a Foodie "Heaven" like say - Fresh Market where they have things like wine ice cream and practically every spice you could ever want - but it's a great place to swing by if you need to pick up eggs, milk, or snacks. They have an assortment of brand name items -from Breyers Ice Cream (HELLO HELLO $2.97 for a half gallon!!!!!!) to Fritos to Kraft to Chef Boyardee. A small but nice produce section. Limes were 19 cents each - I know at Wegmans they usually run about 3/1.99. The meat looked fresh and appealing.
 They have just about everything - from spices (limited to the basics but much cheaper than the big stores) - to pet / household items - baby items - dairy - frozen - etc. No bakery - but a nice selection of baked goods. Remember people, it's a small place. It was packed yesterday (opening day) and I have a feeling it's ALWAYS going to be packed as long as the staff remain friendly (they were - I tried to go "in" the "out" door and the guy bringing the carts in didn't laugh at me (at least he didn't laugh IN FRONT of me, lol) - and opened the door for me even after I realized I was staring RIGHT AT THE "OUT" sign. DUH), as long as they keep it clean (it was spic and span) and as long as they keep it organized.
Now, after you're done picking up some food for home, hop on over to Astrino's for a slice of pizza (it's most excellent) which was formerly Webbie's (also there tuna wraps are the best in the area) - or Skyline Tavern (also with new owners) for a nice martini or beer.
Excited to see Chalfont growing. Now, if only we could get a fabulous bookstore...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 10 - Birthday Fitness Blitz - What Mike Says

Back in the gym after a day of rest. Couldn't wait to get back to working out! I did 20 minutes treadmill @ 11 incline @ 3.7 mph. Worked my back and biceps.
I talked to Mike about all the different books I'd read on fitness and nutrition on my days off. Mike is the manger of Snap Fitness Lansdale who has been a back up guitar player with a major rock band, an MMA fighter, a pro-football player sidelined by injury, a professional skydiver, and travels to third world countries to set up basketball courts/programs. He's been an extra on the sets of many action adventure movies and wrote the theme song to TRON.
What I appreciate about Mike is that he is down to earth. Tells it like it is. "Most of those guys are snake oil salesmen. If someone says something natural is BAD for you, like oranges or carrots, that's crazy." (I'm totally paraphrasing here).
Mike makes it clear he's NOT a nutritionist. "I'm not a nutritionist. But I can tell you - you can spend a million dollars buying a ton of books that each contradict the other. Or you can just eat in moderation - fruits, vegetables, whole grains. Limit your sugar. Try to stay away from processed food. Exercise. It's really as simple as that."
And that's one of the things I love about Snap Fitness Lansdale. No one is pushing vitamins or protein drinks. Mike says "Hi" and "Bye" or "How's it going?" but that's it. If I have a question, he's available. If not, he leaves me alone. I appreciate that when I'm shopping (God, BATH AND BODY shop is the WORST. As soon as you walk in you're attacked by 3 women smelling like grapes and strawberries that want to HELP you find something in a store as big as a living room) and when I'm at the gym.
Today I had scrambled eggs, a slice of whole wheat toast (with butter!) and a chicken spinach salad.
Feeling GREAT! When I first started, my energy at the gym was low, sluggish, I had to push myself each day to go. NOW - I have a ton of energy (both at the gym and outside of the gym) and look FORWARD to going!
PS- Mike is not actually ALL of those things. He is only ONE of those things. But it's up to you to figure out which one.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 9 BFB- Rest, Reading, Confusion

Diablo & I enjoying a day of rest.
Today I finally took a day off from the gym. I decided to read a few books about fitness/eating. I'd bought Impact by Todd Durkin - a trainer for many NFL football players. His book appealed to me because the training switches every few weeks (it's a 10 week program) and he uses resistance bands as well as a lot of other equipment and has so many quickfire reps that you don't need to do cardio (treadmill/crosstrainer etc) - I freaking HATE cardio (unless I'm watching a good TV show or the Flyers!).
I also checked out Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four Hour Body. FHB is currently #1 on Amazon, mostly because he flooded Amazon with reviews by sending fans copies of his book and asking them to post a review on Dec 14th. Tim is a social media phenom. I mostly like him, but I don't feel he is the last word on fitness. He talks about the slow carb diet, among other things.
Somehow, this led me to the Gluten Free diet, the Paleo Diet, oh, and the French Diet (I like that one - you can eat ANYTHING - the key is to eat very little of it!). My head was spinning. WTF?
I thought maybe it might be a good idea to try a new "diet" once a month for a year. I'm seriously considering it just to see what happens. Because ultimately, every body is different. The key is finding out what works for you. I understand there is no miracle diet. One diet guru swore that whole grains screwed up our system. I do know, there ARE people that can't eat grains. One person said the key is eating fat (healthy fat) because it fills us up and satisfies us. Now, I know that works for me. I can't give up my butter. No FKING way. But I only use it sparingly. A teaspoon when I make my eggs. A small pat when I butter my whole grain bread.
I realized we are a country obsessed with perfection. The perfect diet, the perfect body, the perfect house...we think we need THAT ONE THING ...the one book, the one movie, the one phrase, the one person...but isn't life all about change? So why would we even want to settle for ONE thing? It's all about growing and evolving and enjoying life. No need to stress out to find "the perfect" recipe (maybe the "best recipe though...). I need to quit looking for the ONE ROAD and try many roads - I'd rather a variety of options than one option.
Anyway, it was a good day off. I feel rested and can't wait to get back in the gym tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Birthday Fitness Blitz - Cupcakes Can't Stop Me Now

Wegmans Cookie Monster Cupcake
The day started off with a trip to Wegmans. I could spend as much time browsing the aisles, sighing at an amazing assortment of chocolate bars (bacon, chili, ginger, sea salt), drooling over the fantastically decorated cupcakes in the bakery (someone deserves creative props - from Sesame Street Characters  to seasonal themes, they're almost too pretty to eat. Almost.), as I do browsing at a bookstore or kitchen store.
I won't lie, since starting on this Birthday Fitness Blitz, a trip to Wegmans is a huge test of discipline. BUT, the upside is, it wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I like the challenge of coming up with creative ways to incorporate healthy foods to mimic comfort foods (when I create one, I'll be sure to let you know!). Also, I know this blitz is just that, a fast and furious race to get my mind focused on getting back into shape. I also have 2 big events coming up: Christmas Eve Feast and my birthday dinner @ William Penn Inn. This is what gives me the incentive to be satisfied with taking pictures or wonderful food instead of EATING the wonderful food. And I'm finding vegetables and fruits and whole grains are just as wonderful, if less naughty. For lunch I made a stir fry of the chicken/broccoli lunch from yesterday w/ a scrambled egg and wrapped it in a small corn tortilla. For lunch I finished the stirfry and added wild brown rice. I had planned on taking the day off from the gym, but the Flyers were playing Montreal. I kinda like the whole - long/slow treadmill workout - so I bundled up against the Mother Nature who is about as bitter as the Yankee's over Cliff Lee, and hauled cold ass to the gym. And. The. Hockey.Game. Was. Blacked.Out.
So I watched Survivor - which was great. And then I watched Top Chef Allstars (YES YES YES!!) from 9-11. I varied my speed and elevation on the treadmill and for the last 40 minutes I used the recumbent bike.
When I returned home, I made a cup of tea, read some on my Kindle, and promptly fell asleep, dreaming of rich, moist, chocolate cupcakes iced with white icing and coconut.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 7 - BFF- Martini's, Wings, Flyers Hockey Game

Worked out in the morning: 20 minutes cardio, then worked my chest and triceps. For lunch, John and I went to the BoatHouse in Conshohocken. He's been craving their wings (they're the best). I was nervous because I didn't want to back slide. I ordered a grilled chicken pasta salad - filled with tomatoes, broccoli, black olives, and bowtie noodles. I only had a few bowtie noodles and ate probably a third of the platter (it was huge, no wonder we're so fat!), 2 of John's hot wings, and a very cold martini. I boxed up the rest of the my meal and later feed the dogs most of the noodles.
The Flyers played the Penguins at 7pm, so I decided to go BACK to the gym so I could watch the game. For 3 hours, I walked on the treadmill at a slow steady rate with a small incline. According to the machine, I burned off 700 calories. And the Flyers won. So it was a great night!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 6 - Birthday Fitness Blizt

Today I talked JT into coming to Snap Fitness with me. He has a gym in the basement of the house, but it lacks cardio. He's only complaint was that there wasn't a "free weight bench" because he didn't really like to use the Smith Machine (I think that's what it's called!). He's a hardcore muscle head and has been lifting since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
It's nice to have a partner to workout with, though I find I'm not as focused. Today I worked out legs/shoulders and did 20 minutes on the treadmill at an 11 incline.
Yesterday I ate 2 eggs, whole wheat toast with peanut butter. Snack of peanuts (handful). Lunch/Dinner - Spinach chicken salad, dressing on the side.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 5 - Birthday Fitness Blitz-Down 7 pounds!

Day 5 - Let's see - wickedly rainy day. Sunday. A day of rest. I did not want to workout. However. The Capitals/Rangers game was on @ 7pm and since we no longer have cable...and I love the antics of Sean Avery & think Alex Ovechkin is as talented as he is funny - I decided to hit the gym @ 7pm to workout AND watch the game.
I did cardio for 20 min and then did a circuit of cardio mixed in with working on my back & biceps.
KT worked out again with me today and actually kept asking all day "When are we going to the gym?"
Pretty sore. But I'm finding when it comes to food temptations, my audacious goal of  losing 10 pounds by my birthday (14 days), has reeled in my discipline. The more I eat clean, and workout,the less I seem to be tempted by gooey fudge cake and Cheetos that are on sale for only 1.49 a bag!!!
Oh, and HELLO. We've had a box of Frosted Flakes, (I love you Tony) in the house and I haven't even given it a second thought. Forget that Boston beat the Yankees in 2004 after being 3 games behind - me bypassing Frosted Flakes is truly a miracle!
Yesterday I had a cup of whole wheat spaghetti with homemade sauce (red wine and sausage yum!) for dinner and 2 white egg omelet w/ spinach for lunch/breakfast.
I'm actually looking forward to working out tomorrow. Partly because when I saw that I lost 7 pounds I was ecstatic. I've been told you shouldn't weigh yourself, but for now, I think that being able to track my progress helps me feel like I'm accomplishing something.   I guess it's true what they say, starting is the hardest part!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Birthday Fitness Blast - Day Four - SO SORE!

Today I had a workout partner! We had the whole place to ourselves and it felt like it was our own private gym - uh, minus the cameras, however. It is open 24 hours and for security purposes, they always have cameras on so people feel safe. However, we often forget that we were being recorded and I pray our goofing around footage will not show up on You Tube!
While I adored having KT with me, there was more laughing than actual hard core working out, but that's okay, too, because I read somewhere that laughing burns calories too. Besides that? I was majorly sore. I did 20 minutes on the treadmill (working up to incline 11 again) and tried to do the cross trainer, however, my left hip said GTFO!!! So we moved on to chest/triceps. Did some jump roping and KT, who I used to take to Planet Fitness with me, said she liked Snap better. When we first arrived and walked up to the building she said, "This is it?" And I told her I thought she might like it better, but to judge for herself. By the end of our workout, she said she liked it much better. It was brighter, 'cozier' and the equipment was new and easy to use. I think she probably really liked the fact that we lucked out and no one was around. But all I know is she's excited to go back tomorrow. Me, eh. It is what it is. I'd be lying if I said I couldn't wait to go, but after I'm done, I feel totally awesome and am so glad I pushed myself to leave my desk (or the couch or get out of the kitchen).
Food yesterday: Homemade Acorn Squash Soup with a dollop of sour cream. A small corn tortilla with  chicken and spinach.
Gotta run - It's A Wonderful Life is about to come one, and besides Elf and Home Alone 1& 2, its' my favorite MUST SEE Christmas show:>)

Here's a chocolate peppermint Christmas kiss for you. Since I can't eat it though, neither can you, but isn't it pretty?

Bacon Maple Cinnamon Rolls - Yes, You've Died and Gone To Heaven

Bacon Maple Cinnamon Rolls 
Prepare yourself for unexpected marriage proposals or proclamations of undying devotion from anyone that is lucky enough to have you share these with them!

Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (I’ve used regular flour and it has worked also, but bread flour is the way to go!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 package of  yeast
  •  
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (or MORE!) of cooked crispy crumbled Bacon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  •  
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Dissolve the milk and sugar then added the yeast. Allow to  get foamy on the top (about 10 minutes) then added the salt, eggs, and oil. Incorporate the flour a cup at a time. Mix Well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon and bacon bits.  
  2. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  3. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and salt. As soon as you take them out of the oven you need to flip the pan over which allows all of the yummy cinnamon drippings to recoat the rolls.  Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 3 Holiday Fitness Blitz - No Boom Boxes

Today we went to Wegmans - a true test of my commitment to fitness! Normally I might pick up a sweet blueberry scone drizzled with white icing or one of their fabulously decorated cupcakes like the cute little snowmen to the left. I won't lie, normally I take my time and enjoy every single aisle, but today I rushed through to limit the temptations. But I couldn't help taking a photo of the snowmen cupcakes so I could gaze lovingly at their delicious beauty.
Who takes a picture of them-self in the gym? ME.
Today I really wanted to just stay home and write, but I made myself go (and so glad I did afterward). I did 20 minutes on the elliptical and 20 on the treadmill (gradually amping up to an 11 incline) then I worked my legs & shoulders with a mixture of machines and free weights.I have lost 3 pounds in 3 days, and I'm sure it's due to my clean diet combined with workouts...yesterday I ate about 10 stalks of asparagus, hummus,  a grapefruit (warmed in the oven and sprinkled with Truvia) and a handful of peanuts.I FEEL much better. Happier. Less stressed.
While I was working out, I noticed a sign that reminded people to wipe down equipment, be courteous to others, mp3 players are allowed but NO BOOM BOXES.
LOL. So I guess if you like to bring your Boom Box to the gym when you work out, Snap Fitness is not for you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How I Lost 5 Pounds In One Day @ Snap Fitness

First, off, let me start by saying that I turned down lunch at 5 Guys Burgers, and when I told my trainer, Mike, he said, "What's 5 Guys?"
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But soon, I wouldn't have to choose. 
You see - me - I think I'm a KNOW IT ALL (shocking, right?). I've been working out since I was 16. So when Mike offered me a free training session, I was like, UH, NO!
But then he said he worked with the weight of my own body, and there were some Pilate, yoga, and other exercises he liked to utilize.
So today, I said, you know what, go ahead! Train me! I mean, how hard can those silly rubber band things be?
Okay, seriously? I lost 5 pounds crying. Whining. And the funny thing is, he didn't even push me that hard. And when I thought we were almost done, I said, "So, after this, is it time to stretch?" And Mike said, "Just finish what's on your plate before you think about dessert."
Dude. That was so freaking prolific! I totally told him I'm stealing that line. I love it.
Yesterday I ate asparagus (baked with olive oil and garlic salt) and spicy hummus & two eggs.
And see those cupcakes up there? Yeah, they're white velvet cupcakes from Philly Cupcake.
I've probably lost another pound, crying over their beauty, and knowing I can't have them.
At least, not right now.
If you ever join Snap fitness, take Mike up on the offer for a free training session. Just make sure to bring a box of Kleenex and a towel to wipe up your tears.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Christmastini - The Candy Cane White Chocolate Martini!

Margherita Martini was kind enough to share our favorite holiday drink from Martini's Restaurant in


Candy Cane White Chocolate Martini

Godiva White chocolate
Peppermint Schnapps
Vanilla vodka
Grenadine 

Pour 1 jigger each of Godiva, Schnapps, vodka, over ice, shake. Pour into chilled martini glass, pour grenadine in swirling pattern, hook a miniature candy cane over glass, serve!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gloucester K9 Officer Schultz - RIP

Cpl Mark Pickard and K9 Shultz (left).
In October, Katie and I attended the Police K9 trials at the Willow Grove Navy Airbase. Living with Thor the last few years- a fierce police dog at work, a lovable sweetheart at home- I've learned the police dogs LIVE for the moment their partner puts the uniform on, lives for the moment they jump in that police car.
It's amazing to watch the dogs in action. Their enthusiasm and intelligence and strength never ceases to amaze me.
All the dogs were awesome, and there were some that stood out, and one was K9 Schultz. Schultz took 1st Place in Obedience, 1st Place in Scent Detection, 2nd Place in Agility, and 2nd Place in Individual Overall Competition. He was big, beautiful, and smart.
Last night, Schultz was murdered in the line of duty while trying to apprehend a robbery suspect.
 I did not personally know Cpl. Mark Pickard, and I can't even begin to imagine the loss an officer feels when losing his K9 partner. But I know how much I've grown to love Thor over the past few years. How it drives me crazy that as soon as John grabs his uniform shirt from the closet, Thor begins to get excited, whining and yelping. How he runs around the yard barking at 5:30 in the morning, so excited to be going to work, and that, after 12 hours of being with John, after they arrive home, Thor follows his partner around and rests his big furry face on John's leg when he's sitting on the couch. Good grief! If I had to spend 12 hours a day with John in a car, I'd be locking myself in a room as soon as we got home!
The bond between K9 and Officer is probably one of the most devoted. loving,  relationships, and my heart is heavy with sadness at the thought of a K9 who's life ended at such a young age.
But Schultz died doing, no doubt, what he loved to do, what he lived for. These dogs spend long hours with their human partners, they exercise their mind and their body, and for all their hard work they get a dog biscuit a Kong Ball, and belly rub, and you know what, that's all they need to make them happy!
Though Schultz's life ended much too soon, if he's anything like the K9's I know, his 3 years were full of many biscuits, many Kong Balls, many belly rubs. He probably lived more fully in his 3 years than most dogs, who spend most of their life lying on the floor waiting for their owners to come home from a 10 hour day of work.
If your local police uses a K9 unit, please consider dropping off a small box of sealed/unopened dog biscuits as a small sign of appreciation. 
RIP K9 Officer Schultz.

Note: Thank you for your comments. For some reason, they are not posting to the blog. I'm trying to fix it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jamison Pour House - yes Yes YES!

Every since I moved from the Abington area, leaving behind the Drake (love the long windows that open out to the street – food can be hit or miss, but when it’s hit, it’s grand) and the Vintage (owners are fabulous, bartenders great, food always a hit – but small and too dark) I’ve been searching for a ‘replacement.’
Someone recommended the Jamison Pour House and though it took us a few months to actually get around to going, I think I’ve found my replacement (if only it wasn’t a 20 minute drive!).
Do not let its small stature on the outside fool you. When you walk in, there is a nice dining area to the right and a bar to the left.
Of course, we headed straight to the bar. The bar area is filled with windows (love). It was a sunny day, the blinds were closed, but it was still bright without being distracting. There were many tables in the dining room, but we sat at the bar. Many TV’s throughout – with great crystal clear pictures- this would be a great place to watch sports.
There was a juke box (a MUST for me to be truly satisfied!!) and the bartender knew how to make a “wedding cake martini.” – so it was shaping up to take the lead for my ‘new favorite bar.’  Then the food arrived .
John had mussels in white sauce – which he said was excellent. One feature that I love about the Jamison Pour House is that you can mix and match (half of one sandwich, half of another) your pub sandwiches for a buck extra. 
I had half the porchetta – slow roasted pork with provolone and peppers and half roast beef w/ provolone. John had half roast beef and half cheesesteak. We split fries, and the fries were crispy and hot and seasoned just right! The sandwiches were fabulous and they are known for their porchetta and now I know why!
Service was speedy and the bartender was attentive without being pushy or annoying.
Most excellent place. I can’t wait to return!!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

GalleyCat Participates in Author Victimization

Okay. I like to think of my blog and my books like I think of a bakery – a place to go when you want to lift your spirits – when you just want to feel good!
Well, today is not a day full of warm fuzzies. Because sometimes, no matter how hard you want to dodge the drama, there are some crappy things worth speaking up about.
I’ve been spending some time on the Amazon Kindle Boards – it’s a great place to meet other authors, readers, find great reads, and for the most part, it’s much like a bakery – a place where you feel good.
A few weeks ago, an author that calls himself Christopher Smith appeared promoting his book Fifth Avenue. The community welcomed him, took a chance on his book, and drove his book to the top ten board. The book was labeled a thriller, but as days went by and readers tucked themselves into the book, they discovered some very explicit sex scenes. We are talking golden showers, people using excrement in their sexual interactions…well, you get the point. A few readers spoke up and said while they believed everyone had a right to read any book, they would not have bought the book had they known about the graphic sex that, really, had little to do with the book. The conversation was polite, an educational/entertaining discussion ensued until Smith began to lash out at everyone, even those who supported him! He accused one woman of liking rape because she didn’t voice distaste over Stieg Larssons book.
Well, needless to say, Smith acted unprofessionally, and then accused people of being homophobic when no one even had a problem with the gay characters in the book! Posters continually marked Smith’s posts as abusive, and the threads disappeared. And he disappeared. Or so we thought.
He appeared in an interview on GalleyCat, in which he professed to be the victim of a homophobic smear campaign.  Well, I don’t know what horrified me more, the outright lying or the fact that the reporter MaryAnn Yin, didn’t have ANY facts to back the story up. Nadda, nothing! All she had was the word of one man trying to sell his books.
It is no wonder people are distrustful of news sources.
Amazon Kindle Members responded to this horrible excuse for an interview and stated: 
ZeroGrizz: This is all poppycock. The original post about his book on the Amazon forum was from a reader who was startled by a fetish sex scene in the book that she didn't enjoy. She did not post smearing the book, she posted saying she wanted to let other potential readers know that they may find it offensive and that she wished the book had some sort of content warning on it.
I'm gay. If I thought the original post or the resulting conversation was homophobic I'd certainly speak up and say so. Having been the brunt of homophobia many times in my life (to the extent of losing two jobs because of it) I know what's what. This author is doing as much harm as gay bashers, by using it as a hot phrase to try and sell more of his books and cheapening true gay bashing. FOR SHAME!
William Maxwell: Unfortunately, not too long after that the author himself got involved, coming back onto the thread and posting some very vitriolic and insulting comments (such as the one previously mentioned, where he suggested a reader liked rape, and asked her what that said about her). At this point, the rankings for the book began to fall off, and readers who had previously supported him began posting that they had returned his book, or that they were sorry they'd posted positively about him in the first place. This is the entirety of the "controversy"-- that the author behaved in a rather asinine fashion, and instead of turning away from a few negative comments, let them get to him and started insulting his supporters. There was definitely no "organized campaign" by rabid homophobes-- anyone who's ever spent time on the Amazon boards knows that the posters on Amazon couldn't agree enough on ANY topic to mount an organized campaign.
Deanna Figueroa:
The man wasn't slandered, quite the opposite. He attacked readers and accused people posting of being sock puppets for a rival author. His behavior was despicable. I lost all respect for the man, who has used these threads which no longer exist to exaggerate what was said and is now using the incident to charge other authors for promotion of their books and garner sympathy for himself. If the threads were still on Amazon, he wouldn't be able to make most of these claims. He's quite lucky his own responses are no longer available to be viewed. His own words did him no favors at all.

This was my response to GalleyCat:
Shouldn't this be titled: Readers Respond To Christopher's Smith's Lies? Where are you facts? Because one person said "I was treated this way" and a whole slew of other people disagreed, you assume that one person spinning the story to get his name in headlines is true?
GalleyCat states they are the 'first word in book publishing' - more like last, unverified, word.
Here's a word for you: Apology. You need to retract that unverified story of Smith fighting a homophobic smear campaign and if your parents sent you to college for journalism - you need to apologize to them for wasting their money!
What author Smith is leaving out is that he states "As a critic, I expect honest reviews." Yet when a negative review is left on Amazon Smith leaves a harassing comment demanding why there is no verified purchase tag next to the review. Surprisingly, he does not ask the 'glowing' reviewers why there is not a verified tag next to those reviews.
Smith failed to mention that he held a contest on his website, and if someone left a review for his book on Amazon, they would be entered to win 200.00 worth of movies.
Smith failed to mention that he is so impressed with himself, he is charging authors 400.00 a pop for advertising on his websites and telling them his "secrets" to best seller stardom. Unfortunately, after he started promoting for an author, her sales came to a complete halt.
Smith does not mention that his book is currently ranked 117,000 in Barnes and Noble.
The only way he climbed up the ranks of Amazon was by taking advantage of an open minded community whom he unprofessionally attacked at the first "honest" review.
If someone is considered a bully or homophobe for attacking a person due to his sexual preference, I wonder what you would call someone who uses a very serious sensitive social issue, pretends to be a victim of it, and accuses a community of persecuting him: Oh, you call him Christopher Smith.
I also hope, in the future, reporters will make sure they have concrete facts before they print a story solely based on one person's ill conceived perceptions.

The End. 
Back to our regularly scheduled martini....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Recipe for Happiness: Bacon Bourbon Pecan Brittle!


Bacon Bourbon Pecan Brittle
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 teaspoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (~2 ounces) chopped pecans
1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked bacon bits (6 to 8 ounces uncooked)
  1. Grease or butter a large nonstick baking sheet.
  2. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan. Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 290 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat.
  3. Stir in butter, bourbon, baking soda, pecans, and bacon bits. Careful - the mixture will foam. When the foam subsides, pour the hot mixture onto the prepared baking sheet as thinly as possible. Do not use a spatula. Cool for at least 10 minutes before breaking into pieces. Store in a covered container for as long it lasts. Which won't be more than a few days!