Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Update

Greetings!  It's so hard to come back from a few days off from work and actually feel motivated to sit here and be productive.  I have lots to do and I've spent too much time looking up online sales that are part of "Cyber Shopping Monday" and looking up other random Web sites.  I'm super thankful for vacation though  - and these past few days that I had off were great.

I need to get a camera very badly so I can take pictures of everything and then post them on here for you to enjoy.  I'm pretty sure that you would all enjoy my cut-out Thanksgiving cookies that I made.  I was really happy with how they turned out and the icing I made was delicious, too!  Actually, the BF's family all seemed to enjoy them, as well.  I personalized a few of them with some of his family members' initials.  (Basically, I was having too much fun with the little frosting tips.)  I found the recipe from another blog and if I find it, I'll share it with you all.  I think I'll be making some more for future holidays.  .  . and letting the frosting sit in the fridge overnight really added to the cookies!  It was really easy to roll out the dough and use the cookie cutters.

The trip to the BF's aunt and uncle's house went smoothly.  We drove to his parent's house and loaded into their minivan for a four hour road trip.  I'm glad his sister came because I really enjoying talking with her.  Her mom brought some materials to make pot holders and that added to our road trip. 

His family is really nice.   The food was delicious.  They live on quite a bit of farmland and actually raised and killed the 30-pound turkey that we enjoyed.  It was probably the freshest turkey I've ever had.  His cousin also came and brought his girlfriend.  They've actually only been dating for under one month, but seem madly in love.  They met on and she was pretty embarrassed to say that. It was funny because I also met my BF via online dating (, so I totally understood her apprehension to mention how they met.  And to top it off, his other cousin who lives in VA met her current boyfriend through online dating.  So I'm not the only one!  I just thought that was kind of funny.
Not too much more to report on Thanksgiving.  I went to my parent's house yesterday and took their Christmas tree and put it up in my apartment.  It looks so pretty and big with sparkling white lights.  My parent's didn't really mind and since we're leaving for Florida in three weeks, they probably wouldn't have put the tree up anyway.

Yesterday was my best friend's birthday so we went out Friday night to celebrate.  It was fun and actually like the first time I've went out to the bars in our city for quite awhile.  It really seems to bother her and my roommate that I am not a huge party animal anymore, but I'm fine with that.  But it's slightly annoying that they give me indirect attitude about it.  I've just been traveling and doing other things the past year versus spending lots of money and calories on alcohol.  I am sick of defending myself, actually. 

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready for Christmas.  I need to start shopping!

-Dining Diva

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Road Trip for Thanksgiving

Hello Party People!

Just a few more hours in the work day and then it's two days off and lots of food, family, and friends!  (I probably shouldn't be listing food first, how should I.  .  .). 

This Thanksgiving will be a little different than in other years.  I'm actually going with TK's family (mom, dad, sister) to his mom's sister's house in PA.  I think it will be about a 4.5 hour drive and we're leaving around 9 tomorrow morning.  This will be my first time meeting some of his extended family.  I hope they like me and the desserts I'm bringing.  And hopefully, my experience is nothing like "Poor Rob's."  Read this to know what I'm talking about. Thanksgiving at my house usually involves me in expandable pants. . . I probably shouldn't unbotton my pants and serve myself thirds at the BF's family, should I? 

Typically I like going back home to my little town and going out with all the people back in town for the Holiday at our local bar.  THAT won't be happening because I'll be in the kitchen tonight.  I had planned to bake my contributions last night, but that didn't happen because out of all the very important ingredients I had to pick up at the grocerey story last night at 8 p.m., I forgot a few of the BIGGIES.  1. Electric mixer, 2. rolling pin, 3. wax paper.

So instead of hitting the gym tonight after work, I'll be be burning things in my kitchen.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

-Dining Diva

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lights on the Lake

That's one of the largest and most popular holiday events/attractions we have in our area during the holiday season.  Last night Lights on the Lake opened to the public and no cars were allowed; walkers only.  It was my first time walking thru it and it was WONDERFUL!  There were thousands of people there, bundled up in winter gear, drinking free hot cocoa and gazing at the jumbo holiday light extravaganza.  It was so nice.
It's a four-mile walk to see all of the light displays. 

Good thing for the distance because afterwards, we went to a local restaurant for dinner.  The bf wanted Snickers cheesecake for dessert, but the waitress broke the news that the restaurant was sold out of the tasty treat.  (God's first attempt to let us know we did not need dessert).  So we leave and make our way to Friendly's for a sundae.  After standing in line by the door for a good ten minutes and not being greeted or acknowledged by the staff, we left.  (God's second attempt to let us know it's just a Monday night on Thanksgiving week; a time to be working out at the gym in preparation for the upcoming all-you-can-eat turkey buffet).  So it's around 10 p.m. on a Monday night by now.  I mentioned the brilliant fact that just across the street at McDonald's we can get ourselves a hot fudge sundae for just $1!  What a steal, right?! So that's what we did.   .   .

This morning I woke up with a food hangover.  (God's little way of letting me know I should have listened to him last night). 

Minus the unneccessary hunt for dessert, it was a very fun night! 

On tonight's agenda: exercise and baking.  I'm going to try and make sugar cookies tonight with my Thanksgiving cut-outs and then frost them tomorrow.

Have a great night!

-Dining Diva

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wonderful Weekend; Short Week Ahead

I love weekends.  I feel so powerful every Friday at 5 p.m. because I have my entire weekend ahead of me and can do whatever I want, whenever I want, with anyone I want to.  Saturdays are great, too.  By Sunday night, I'm a little bummed.  This is a weekly occurrence.  Does this happen to you, too?  I mentioned this to the BF's sister last night when I went over for dinner and she agreed with me.  So after dinner, she and I went to a local park to walk through a major holiday light display.  (Mind you, the light display does not officially begin until tonight, so there were not that many turned on last night; but it was still refreshing to get some exercise and fresh air.) 

Overall, it was a nice weekend. I got to spend quite a bit of time with my best friend and her boyfriend and my BF so that was nice.  (She's a nurse and works every other weekend, so that makes doing things together kind of a pain in the butt.)

Friday:  Came home from work and exercised at my gym for a good amount of time.  Quickly showered and dressed.  Went to the BF's place and met up with my best friend and her bf and we all went and saw New Moon!  That was an experience.  I should have brought a camera so I could take a picture of the hundreds of girls wrapping around and around the mall movie complex in a giant line.  It was craziness.  They had the movie playing every half hour and the tickets were sold out.  Luckily, my friend ordered tickets in advance.  I must say, our men were good sports because they had to miss the end of a very good college basketball game on TV to make it to the movie in time.  Also, it's not like they really wanted to be standing in an overwhelming amount of teenage girls freaking out over this movie.  :o)  But it all worked out and I think they liked it.  I thought it was good; the books are so much better though. 

Saturday:  Slept in!  It was nice.  Went to the gym and then went grocery shopping.  My friend and I made dinner for our boyfriends and we drank beer/wine and watched football with all intention of going "out."  Our journey downtown to the bars never happened, but I was fine with that; I think we all were full and lazy.  What was for dinner you ask: 
-Beef roll-ups (Take thickly sliced roast beef deli meat, stuff with stuffing and pour gravy over the roll-ups in a baking dish. tooth pick hold the beef roll-up together.  Bake for 30 minutes.)
-Green bean casserole
-Garlic mashed potatoes
-Rye bread and dill dip boat
**We had so much food; I wish I would have been thinking and called Miss. Sass to come over for dinner, too!**

Sunday: Went for a walk at a local park with the bf, ate at Quaker Steak & Lube with his friends, met my parents at some local shops, bought icing tips and frosting for my Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies that I'm bringing for Thanksgiving, Went to BF's parent's house for dinner, walked at park, organized bills!

Nothing too exciting, but it was a good weekend!

Just three days of work and then I'm going to PA with the BF and his family for Thanksgiving.  I'm excited!

Have a great Monday!

-Dining Diva

Thanks, Mrs. Bear!

When I hopped on my blog this weekend, to my surprise, I had a message from Mrs. Bear over at "Think Happy Thoughts" (one of my new favorite blogs!).  I was one of the two winners who won her recent giveaway! I was so excited - I never win anything.  And the prize is fabulous and very timely, I might add. (I've recently been attempting to cook much more than usual). Mrs. Bear is working with "A Paper Lane" on Etsy and is sending me personalized recipe cards! The best part is that Mrs. Bear is including some of her own recipes on the cards, too.  I'm looking forward to getting them and cooking some more.  Thanks again, Mrs. Bear!  And I have a few engaged friends that are "followers" of mine, and I highly suggest you check out Think Happy Thoughts; it's totally the wedding I would like to have!  (On the white sandy beach of Florida!)

-Dining Diva

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shake n Bake

Whoever invented that is fabulous.  I actually made myself a tasty dinner last night and I enjoyed eating a real meal versus cereal for once.

After the gym I got back to my apartment and wrote on Thanksgiving cards.  In the meantime, I got out some frozen chicken and put it in a pan with some olive oil.  I covered the pan and put it on low heat and just let it slowly cook.  After awhile I put some light mayo on the chicken and then poured on some shake n bake.  I poured in a good portion of frozen broccoli and kept it slowly cooking.  In another pot, I boiled some water and threw in some Uncle Ben's rice in a bag.  Nothing too complicated, but in the end I had a healthy and delicious dinner.  I was happy.  I had a sugar free chocolate pudding for dessert and then flopped on my bed and got reading.  I already love New Moon.  I didn't get that far though - just like 80 pages.  Right now, Edward left and Bella was found in the woods.  I can't wait to get back to reading.

Have a great day party people!

-Dining Diva

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Better Get Reading!

Isn't that the truth.  I have to read New Moon before Friday night and I haven't started it yet.  I actually think it might be possible to read it in two days because if it's anything like Twilight, then as Pringles says, "once you pop, you just can't stop!" - or something like that.

So it's a little gym time for me and the food and book.  That sounds pretty good.

It's been a BUSY day at work and I'm ready to say see ya!  I did get to do a nice power walk during my lunch break today with a friendly co-worker.  It was sunny and beautiful outside.  I love nice weather.

Have a great night!

-Dining Diva

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Clean Teeth

Not much to report on this Tuesday, other than it's almost 5 p.m. and I can't wait to get out of work!  I need to go to the gym tonight.  I tried an old Pilates DVD last night and realized I am OUT OF SHAPE!  Running is much different than getting "long and lean."  How about my healthy lunch today:  A $1 box of Sour Patch Kids.  Oops!  Thank goodness for my fabulous new SONICCARE TOOTHBRUSH!  Thanks to the bf, I have the greatest electric toothbrush ever!  I highly suggest you add it to your holiday wish list.  It feels like you just had your teeth professionally cleaned - every time! And I also really love the toothbrush because it has an attached UV sanitizer.  It's quite nice.  Thanks babe!

Have a happy Tuesday evening.

-Dining Diva

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Lunch Full of Friendship

So today is just draggging on!  It would have been such a great day to take the afternoon off.  It was quite sunny.   But now the sun is setting (it's only 4:30 p.m.!) so by the time I hit the road, I'll need my headlights on.  Enough complaining.

So for lunch one of my bestest friends from elementary school thru now met me at work and we walked to a cute sandwich shop for lunch and gossip.  She had much to fill me in on.  (She is a ab-fab source of local news.)  So we chatted and talked about her wedding plans and how she is dealing with being away from her fiancee (he is in the Air Force and just left for his station in Texas).    But it was so nice to see her and I just love her dearly.

Have a good weekend.

Dining diva!

Note to self: Add Flavor

So you all know how excited I was about making some fabulous meal for the BF last night. For the past three nights I have been reading recipe after recipe to find the perfect dish to impress the BF. (Well, not really impress, but to show off what he's been missing for the past year since we go out to eat so much or he typically cooks dinner - I know, I'm a slacker girlfriend in the domestic department.) So I choose this chicken and rice casserole that sounded tasty. I was so bummed when we went to eat it and it had NO flavor! I'm hoping that after sitting in the refrigerator today that flavors will magically appear in it and they'll be tasty leftovers. Looking back, I should have not went exactly by the recipe and instead went with my instincts.

I cooked the chicken and rice and set aside. In a large sauce pan I melted butter (I used "I Can't Believe it's Not Butter") and then added diced mushrooms and some rosemary seasoning. Then I added .5 cup of flour and stirred. Then I had to stir in chicken broth (I used the less sodium kind) and half n half. (Right there was the problem. That made it a very fattening dish and I didn't realize I would be adding that much. I wish that I would have added a can of cream of mushroom soup, instead.) So then you let it thicken up and add the chicken and rice. Pour in a 9x13 baking pan. On top add a mixture of bread crumbs and shredded parmigiana cheese and butter. Bake for 30 minutes. (Sounds pretty good, right?) Well, it had NO flavor. I was sad. I also didn't make the garlic mashed because the dish already had rice in it. I did make squash. ( I wish I would have known the BF doesn't like squash!) And a fresh tossed salad and fresh and hot Italian bread.
It sounded good but was heavy and not very flavorful. Also, I didn't have time to go to the gym. How do people who have to put a meal on the table for their families after work get to exercise?! (Probably wake up extra early in the morning.) I would rather exercise and have bowl of cereal with bananas.
I will not be defeated in the kitchen, however! I think I might try to make some chili in the slow cooker this weekend.
On to tonight - I have two tickets to a Gala event that features local foods, wines, and beers from across New York State. The tickets allow access to all you can eat and drink. It should be a good time.

-Dining Diva

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Super Sun

It's amazing what a little sunshine can do for my mood.  It's almost mid-November and that means we could be dealing with a few feet of snow and blistering cold temperatures or a 55 degree day with sunshine.  Thankfully, today looks much more like that ladder.  I like to look out my window at work and see the sun shining.  I feel so motivated.  I really don't like that it gets dark by 5 p.m. which makes it impossible to get some fresh air and outdoor exercise after work.  At least we're getting closer to December 21 which means soon our days will get brighter.  In the meantime, I'll just be thankful the sun is shining right now.

So I went grocery shopping last night to pick up the items I need for tonights dinner and wouldn't you know I left the recipe on my desk at work!  What an idiot!  I did remember most of the ingredients, but did forget a few so I'll have to pick those up tonight.

I'm making Chicken Rice Casserole.  It actually sounds pretty tasty.  I plan on making garlic mashed potatoes and squash as my sides.  Wine with the meal AND for dessert.  :o)

Have a great day!
-Dining Diva

P.S.  Can anyone tell me where the spellcheck went on the edit options?!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dinner Date - What to make?

So I need to go food shopping tonight to pick up the essentials for my date night tomorrow.  (I'll be cooking the BF dinner - which doesn't ever happen).  I'm still not sure what I will be making, even though I have spent the last two nights checking out recipe after recipe in cookbooks!  The choices are overwhelming. Any suggestions are welcome!

-Dining Diva

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Love Muffin

"Time flys when you're having fun."
That's so true, isn't it?  It's been a year since my first date with my lovely BF and it has really happened fast.  We were able to do so many fun things together this year and travel to quite a few new places together.  Here is a list of my top moments with my muffin this year.

1.  Our summer vacation to Cape May, NJ
2.  Trip out west to Lake Tahoe and the train ride to San Francisco
3.  Our family Florida trips
4.  Spending winter weekends snuggled on the coach watching movies
5.  Boating this summer
6.  Memorial Day Weekend with my best-friend blones and their boyfriends at my parent's house
7.  Bike Rides
8.  Making dinner together, especially the lasagna night with lots of drinks and dancing
9.  Dinner at the Braeloch with a crackling fire and acousitc live music
10. When he told me he loved me.  Aww. . .   (p.s. please excuse this lovey dovey, mushy posting.  It's really not like me at all.  But I think it's safe to say that you say and do crazy things when you're in love.)

So this past weekend we both took a half-day on Friday and drove around one of the local Finger Lakes and did some wine tastings.  Then we continued on to meet some of his friends from dental school for dinner and drinks.  We stayed at their house and played Cranium and just had fun.  It was great to meet some of his friends and also a really good time.

We went to my parent's house yesterday to show off my new car to my dad and grandparents.  (My mom had already seen it). I did some laundry, had some home-cooked food, played with Bella (my sister's adorable little puppy), and enjoyed a beautifully warm and sunny day on the lake.  The sunset was breath taking. I should have taken a picture.

Tonight I need to exercise and pick out a recipe to make for the bf some night this week.  Any tasty meal ideas to suggest for a novice in the kitchen?

-Dining Diva

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I like how other bloggers' post a list of things they are thankful for on Thursdays.  'Tis the season to think about what I'm thankful for, so here is a short list in no particular order:

1. Loving family nearby
2. TK - Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of our first date and the first time we officially met.  I don't think I've mentioned before that we met on I know, you're probably thinking we're both pathetic losers.  I use to think that way to.  But it was the best thing I did last year (join  I was in a funk and he was back in the area after being away for five years.  Maybe we'll be the cool people on a commercial one day!  :)
3. 1/2 day of work tomorrow and it's Friday
4. Going out to eat with my parents and TK last night at the restaurant I spent close to 10 years waitressing at to pay the bills through high school and college.  I ate WAY TOO MANY crispy french fries dipped in ranch dressing.  But it was soo good! And it's a seasonal restaurant and closing this weekend.  So I got my fill for the next few months.
5. My fabulous girlfriends (all four are followers of my blog! Thanks ladies! (Sass, Ka., Ke., JT) So that means only six people have actually joined my blog because they wanted to. . .I need to sass this blog of mine up for your reading pleasure!)
6. Holiday music and decorations at the mall already
7. My new car and its XM radio
8. Losing a few pounds (I'll need to get back on the scale after my meal last night!)
9. Home cooked meals
10. All of my travels this year.  Lake Tahoe, NV is by far my favorite spot I went to with Cape May, NJ right behind. 
-Have a great night!

~Dining Diva

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Are you already dancing in your seat.  Feel like doing a little salsa?  :)  That is the feeling I get when I even say Zumba.  Actually, I think I kind of sing it with a sassy latin beat.  It's fun to say and even more fun to do.  However, talk to me like 35 minutes into it and I'm not having that much fun.  It's an hour long and I am having a hard time breathing by the time it's over!  I seem to be able to run better on a tredmill than do Zumba. It's crazy.  I know.

But I went to a new dance studio Monday night with my BFF Jess and we tried out a Zumba class.  It was pretty packed with other females (not one guy was there) and was a fun thing to do together.  I just don't know if I'm going to be losing weight with that class.  I think a weight lifting class or pilates class would serve me better, physically speaking, for an hour, than Zumba will/does.  That may not be a fair assesment however, because I've never done it consistently.  Anyway, if you haven't taken a Zumba class, I suggest that you do.  It's a fun thing to do and it gives you good practice in the hip shaking area.

The music is fabulous, too. 

-Dining Diva