Friday, August 14, 2015

Mandy's Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

1 – 8oz package of cream cheese (softened)
½ cup of Ranch or Blue Cheese salad dressing
½ cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups chicken (cooked and either shredded or chunked)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cream cheese, salad dressing, hot sauce and shredded cheese in a bowl.  Add chicken and stir to combine. Place dip in an oven safe dish and bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Dip can be served either warm or cold.
Serve with tortilla chips or celery sticks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guacamole Recipe

3-4 ripe avocados (cut in half, then sliced horizontally and vertically in a checker board design before scooping out).  Save avocado pits for storing leftovers... if there are any!
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeño, minced (for a milder guacamole, use half a jalapeño, seeded and minced)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Optional: 1 cup frozen corn (cooked in microwave and cooled) or 1 ear grilled sweet corn (cool before adding to guacamole). This is better with more jalapeño as the sweetness of the corn can over-power a mild guacamole.

Serve with corn chips.

Store in fridge in covered container with avocado pits to slow down the browning process of the avocados.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gluten Free Goat Cheese Lasagna Recipe


  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 baby eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bag fresh spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 log of goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, or a few teaspoons of dried (to taste)
  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef, browned
  • 1 jar organic tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 1 package of gluten free lasagna noodles (brown rice w/ ground flax seeds is what we used)
  • 8 oz. shredded romano sheep cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350º F. 
  • In olive oil with salt and pepper to taste, sauté garlic, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and spinach for about 5 minutes over medium high heat. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and set aside. 
  • In a medium bowl, mix goat cheese, basil, and salt & pepper to taste until combined. Set aside. 
  • Mix most of the pasta sauce with browned ground beef. Set aside.
  • In an 8 in. square or 9x13 in. rectangle baking dish, add a thin layer of pasta sauce w/o beef. Add a layer of noodles. Spread noodles with some of the goat cheese mixture. Sprinkle a layer of the vegetables. Repeat layering process (now with the beef-pasta instead of marinara) until vegetables, noodles, goat cheese mixture and beef-sauce are all in the dish. 
  • Top with romano sheep cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40–50 minutes. 
  • Remove foil and broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 3: Wrapping Up Those Initial Thoughts

Ugh, so I've caught a cold.  Or at least I think so.  It may be some kind of respiratory infection due to the pollution here, which it turns out is at an all time high here in Delhi RIGHT NOW:

So, this will be brief since all I want to do is take the Mucinex that Katja (who finally made it here, yay!) gave me and go to sleep.

Just wanted to post a couple pics of my hotel and the yummy breakfast buffets here.  I have to leave for the airport at 4:45am, so thought I better wrap up this hotel before I leave it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2 in India: Out & About

Today was the first day of international student recruiting in India!  I arranged for my hotel to have a private driver take me to the school, which is only about 10-15 minutes away, but since I'm not sure if it's safe & didn't know where I was going the first day, I didn't feel comfortable walking.

Note the little tuk tuk driving toward us on the other side of the road!
There were about 25 representatives from various US universities who all met at USIEF in New Delhi this morning.  We were only half the crowd we were supposed to be because many were delayed by hurricane Sandy :(  

We took two buses to go visit a the Modern High School and then split into two groups, one went to visit Amity High School, and I took the one to visit a prestigious Engineering College, NSIT.

Our buses waiting for us outside of USIEF

Interacting with students at the Modern School after our presentations

Back on the buses, taking an hour long ride to NSIT

During this drive we got to see more of the "real" Delhi

My view from the stage in front of an auditorium full of undergraduate engineering students who are all much smarter than I will ever be.
On the drive back to our hotels, we were really able to see the stark reality of luxury living next door to poverty here.  These encampments were all along the highway.

Apparently today is a special holiday here for women, in which they dress up in red like brides and honor their husbands by fasting w/o food our water all day.  They call it Indian Valentine's Day.  Wonder if these poor women wearing red are also celebrating this day just like all the educated women we saw at the schools?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1: First Impressions of India

I arrived safely in New Delhi last night and feel like I've already had such an adventure just getting here!  I travelled for nearly 20 hours getting here, with two 7+ hour flights in the mix.  Fortunately, I didn't incur any problems whatsoever though, and had a very pleasant experience with all my flights.

New Delhi Airport Arrival:

I arrived in New Delhi after midnight, and didn't get through customs and get my baggage until after 1am.  

As soon as I got through customs, I changed about $100 into Indian Rupees at a currency exchange.  I couldn't buy bottled water in the vending machines until after I got my luggage though, because the smallest bills they gave me were 100's, and the vending machines only took up to 50.  Not to worry though, there was a little shop on the way out, after the luggage pick up, where you can buy water or a snack if you need to, and pay a real person & get change back.

Getting to the hotel:

My hotel had a car transfer driver waiting for me holding a sign with my name.  That was so fun, I've always wanted to be picked up by a driver like that!  He had an ice cold water, ice cold pepsi, and cold towel waiting for me in the car, how nice!

The car steering wheel is on the right side here, like in the UK, which makes sense but I hadn't really thought about in advance.  The roads/drivers here really are as crazy as they say and as you see in the movies.  I just trusted my driver, but if you are nervous, I recommend closing your eyes!  

Stoplights appear to be more of a suggestion then a rule, as my driver just honked on his way right through all the red lights!  They also honk when passing large trucks, and flash their lights as sort of a heads up.  Driving lanes also seem to be more of a suggestion then a my driver didn't seem to feel like following!  He drove down the middle of two lanes the whole way from the airport to my hotel.  Guess he thought we were too important to only need one lane :)


Sorry, you can see the reflection of my hand taking the picture through the window in this one :)

The air here is so thick, you can smell it as soon as you get off the plane.  Even inside the airport the air is hazy, which I really doubt is fog. Pretty sure it's the pollution I've been reading about.  Those with asthema or lung issues (B?) might have problems here.  Not sure what can help with that, though I've heard to drink plenty of water, and perhaps allergy pills or an inhaler would be good to pack?

This morning I finally opened my hotel room window and the air is so dirty you can't even see half a mile, though I am on the 16th floor!  Yuck :(

My Hotel:

I think I'll post separately about how nice my hotel is, including some pictures from breakfast today!  But I just wanted to mention the security here.  When my driver drove up to the driveway entrance, two security guards checked the trunk AND under the hood.  Keep in mind this was a 5 star hotel-owned car with a 5 star hotel-employee driving!  Wow, never experienced anything like this before.

Then, when we had the "all clear" and drove up the driveway, I stepped out of the car and walked up the stairs to be greeted by a man holding his hand out to me.  I thought he was "offering me a hand" but no, he wanted my purse and backpack (a doorman had grabbed my suitcases for me).  He had to put all my luggage/bags through a security scanning machine.  I had to walk through a metal detector just to get in the front door!  Scary, but at least I can feel safe & secure in my hotel now..... I guess.

Trying to not get sick:

I've read a lot about the dreaded "Delhi Belly" and I really want to try to avoid it.  I only ate hot food/bottled water for breakfast (and hot coffee), but it made me soooo sad because the cheeses, fresh fruits, and fresh juices looked SOOOOO AMAZING! I really wanted to try the watermelon juice.  However, I really don't want to introduce new bacteria to my body in these first couple days here as I got a long trip ahead of me.

Speaking of bacteria, I'm so worried!  I made the mistake of forgetting that you are supposed to use bottled water to brush your teeth here (even in as a beautiful and elegant as a bathroom as this), and now I'm very afraid that I will get sick after accidentally using sink water to brush my teeth when I got in so late last night!  B & I had gone to the travel clinic before the trip, and they prescribed some traveler's diarrhea pills, and I have some pepto and immodium packed, but I really didn't want to have to deal with that.  I hope, I hope, I hope it will be ok, but I suppose I'll know one way or another very soon!

Replacing things I forgot to pack:

Even though I purchased some travel sized ones before my trip, I forgot to pack my contact cleaning solution.  At first when I realized this, I panicked!  I had a small amount I'd brought in my carry-on in case I'd wanted to switch from contacts to glasses on the plane (never needed to), but that was hardly enough for more than a day or two, let alone nearly 3 weeks!  I went to my hotel front desk to ask if they had a little gift shop for items guests forgot to pack.  They did not, but directed me to a sort of concierge/luggage assistance person.  

I was all prepared to have to figure out shopping at an Indian pharmacy of some sort, but when I explained what I needed, the concierge asked how much I needed, called some place to confirm they had it, how much it was, and what the cost was.  He then told me the cost, and said it would be an additional 150 rupees for the cab ride, a total of 460 rupees.  That's less than $10 total, for the cab and the contact solution!  

He said he would have it purchased for me and delivered to my room when it was ready.  Within 30 minutes I had it in my hands!!!!  Wow, this is what it must feel like to be rich.  Or royalty.  At least a VIP :)

Electric Currency:

I read in my travel guide (downloaded on my iPad of course!) that the currency here is 220-240V AC.  Whatever that means.  I brought with an adapter/converter universal plug-thing that I'd purchased this past summer for my trip to Finland & Russia... only it isn't labeled for India, and I didn't know if India would be the same as the middle east, Asia, the UK, or what.  I tried googling the situation so I could charge up my laptop before going to bed (I'd actually gotten a lot of work done offline during the last leg of my flight last night, but it of course drained the battery).

Well, of course I had a hard time figuring out which adapter to use and I didn't want to fry my MacBook Air!  I need to stay connected for work for the next 3 weeks, let alone staying in touch with friends and family back home.  I thought about unplugging some things in the room to see if any of them looked like the plugs on my universal adapter, but the only two I could find were connected to clocks, and I didn't want to mess with having to reset the time on them, so instead I called the front desk.

Within minutes the front desk had delivered not just an adapter, but an entire power strip adapter so I could plug in my computer, ipad, ipod, and iphone all at once!  Guess I could have brought my hair straightener after all!

Last "tip"

Last "tip" I learned so far was about tipping itself.  It's very wise to keep a lot of small bills on you at all times in India as everyone expects tips, especially in a nice hotel like this.  I suppose many of their livelihoods depend on it.  A one hundred bill is only about $2, but since it's the smallest bill I have been able to get my hands on, they are going fast, especially with all the extra "help" I've been needing since I arrived!

Monday, October 1, 2012

1 Year & 1 Month Later: What am I?

Labor Day weekend this year marked my one year anniversary of adopting a plant-based lifestyle.  I decided to celebrate this life-change by challenging myself to eat strictly vegan for 30 days.... just to see if I could really do it.

My ideals had been from the beginning to eat vegan whenever possible, but that can be really hard to do when dining out, as a guest in someone else's whom, or at catered work events.  So when I could not eat vegan, I always just ate vegetarian.

Well, I found that more often that not, this rule was allowing me to get pretty relaxed at home too.  It would be easier to get my husband to eat meals with me if they included cheese or eggs, than if they were vegan, so rather than making two meals, we'd compromise with one vegetarian meal that made us both happy.

So, I took the 30-day vegan challenge, which ended last night.  How did it go? I had one cheat the morning of my birthday to combat a hangover with some egg & cheese grease.  And there were a few pastry items here and there that I couldn't prove were vegan, but didn't have the will-power to say no too since I also couldn't prove there were egg or cheese products in them (and a couple I could prove weren't vegan but it was my birthday so I made exceptions there too).  There were also those two Indian meals with cheese that I allowed myself for cultural familiarization purposes before my big trip to India next month.  

All in all, not exactly the super "strict" vegan diet I was committing too, but not bad either.  I hat A LOT of temptations and made a lot of sacrifices on things like butter, mayonnaise, yogurt, and deserts etc.

So where am I now?

While I absolutely believe in and enjoy the health benefits and environmental responsibility of eating a plant-based lifestyle, my personal primary reason for adopting this diet was to take a stand against animal cruelty.  Therefore, anything that was wild-caught or hunted, or from a Farmer whom I could talk to and knew how/where his animal were slaughtered, then I would eat meat too.

So what does all this make me?

Vegan?  Certainly not.

Vegetarian? Mostly, but not always.

Locovore? Often yes, but not soley because I enjoy fruits from far away places too much.

Omnivore?  It's looking like it.... but I feel like I'm not completely in this camp either.

Conscientious Eater!  This sounds like me.  Read on to learn more about what this means:

Conscientious eating means thinking about where your food comes from, what impact it has environmentally, socially, economically, and personally (in terms of health, culture, and enjoyment). It means that if you choose to eat meat that you consider how the livestock were raised, and how far they traveled to reach your dinner plate.

"Local," "grass-fed," "sustainably produced," "humanely raised" and "free-range" are just a few of the phrases that greet conscientious shoppers in the meat department these days. Animal-rights activists jokingly call these products "happy meat."  You have to be careful with these labels, knowing that cage-free might not mean what you assume it does, or that organic might not be as animal-cruelty-free as it sounds.  I still believe it is always best to talk with your local farmers and even visit their farm before you buy.

Now, I do understand that eating this way won't solve the world's problems.  It's true that we probably can't feed the world with small, local, organic, family farms.  And the cost to the consumer is prohibitively expensive to most.  I still believe that if everyone ate as a vegetarian, we could solve most of the worlds problems.  But because of the culture & society that I live in, I still think that using my consumer dollars to buy less meat, and only the kind described above, is the best way for me to take a stand, make a statement, and eat in a way I find convenient and moral.

So there you have it.  I won't call myself a vegetarian anymore, even though I will usually still eat that way.  If people ask me why I'll say I'm a conscientiousness eater and prefer not to eat meat if I don't know where it came from.  It was a year long experiment that I think I can take valuable lessons from and use for the rest of my life.