Friday, February 27, 2009

Veggie protein crumbles

Last weekend I was shopping at Raley’s and found myself in the health/vegan/hippy aisle.

Although I am not a vegetarian, I don’t eat a lot of meat. I don’t like the taste of a lot of red meat, it’s a lot of work to prepare, and the idea of eating dead animal flesh turns me off just a little bit. I prefer the vegetarian version of most recipes. I’ve been trying to cook more chicken lately to get protein. But still, handling the raw meat grosses me out.

I picked up a box of Smart Life veggie protein crumbles and was curious how it would taste. It’s a soy product, and seems to be a lot healthier than ground beef (what it claimed to imitate). A serving has 12 grams of protein but no fat. So I purchased the veggie protein crumbles with high hopes (it was about $4 for a 12 oz. container, I think).

On Wednesday, I remembered that I had to try out my imitation beef, so I made stuffed manicotti with this recipe. I would normally make a vegetarian version with cottage cheese and spinach.

When I opened the package, I began to fear eating the veggie protein crumbles. They looked gross. It was very crumbly, kind of the texture of feta cheese.

I made the manicotti anyway, and I’m happy to announce that it was delicious! It tasted like ground beef, but no grease and no disgusting pieces of fat. I think I still prefer vegetarian manicotti, but if I ever have a recipe that has to have ground beef, I may just turn to the veggie protein crumbles again.

I even fooled James by not mentioning anything before he tried the manicotti. After he ate, I interrogated him “Did you like the food? Did you like that it had meat in it? Did you think the meat tasted good?” He was confused, but said that he liked it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

March forth on March 4

On Thursday, March 5, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on the validity of Proposition 8, which robbed thousands of Californians of the basic American right to marry.

Candlelight vigils will be held throughout the state on the night before the arguments.

Sacramento’s event will be at the west steps of the state capitol. There will be a rally from 5 – 6 p.m. and a march to the California Supreme Court from 6 – 6:30.

Events will also be held in Bakersfield, Fresno, LA, Modesto, Roseville, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Stockton and Visalia.

Click here for details.

The Biggest Loser, Week 8

I am up two pounds! I knew I wasn’t eating as well as I had been, and now I have ugly proof. Boo!

Until you diet, you don’t really think about every little snack you consume. Even if it’s just 100 calories, they add up to several hundred calories a day and it really makes a difference. I have to think about everything I eat and know when I’m just eating out of boredom. I did that this weekend – hence the two pounds.

I really like this weight loss thing overall. I like to step on the scale every week and see evidence that my hard work is paying off. It’s a good feeling to have accomplished a goal.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Goal #73: Go dancing with my sister

Last weekend, on Rose's 21st birthday, I went dancing with both of my sisters. See, Sam, that goal was about you!

I wanted to start putting photos in my blog... so here are a few.

left to right: Me, oldest sis Samantha, youngest sis Rose

See my list of 100 goals here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cool band alert

The Undulations: Post-Modern Swing. This band is so FUN! You can listen to their music here, but they’re so much better live.

I discovered The Undulations at the I Street Gallery (my favorite gallery… probably due to their combination of amazing art, delicious food, and this rockin’ band playing most of the time) a year or two ago on Second Saturday. They play there live often.

That summer I became sort of an Undulations groupie. They play at a lot of local restaurants and I went several times. I’m pretty sure they started to recognize me :)

I haven’t seen them in a long time though… it’s been at least since last summer. The only upcoming show on their calendar is Music in the Park in Davis, and you can bet I will be there. I highly recommend that anyone in the area check it out. It’s totally worth the drive.

The Biggest Loser, Week 7

I’m down about a pound. Pretty unexpected since I didn’t eat all that great this week or go to the gym because I was sick. I did get some exercise biking and dancing though. The Valentines Hershey's kisses from my mother in law have not been good for the diet. Total weight lost so far: 5.5 pounds :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Goal #54: Watch the AMGEN Tour of California Bike Race

Okay, I admit, I put this goal on my list because I was hoping we'd be able to go this weekend. But thinking of 100 things is hard! And I think this was a good goal.

The AMGEN Tour of California race is a big deal. It's the other Tour de France. Lance Armstrong was there. Sacramento hosted the prologue today, which, as I understand it, is a short lap before the race actually starts. Kind of a ceremonial run, I guess?

James and I rode our bikes (in the spirit of the event, of course) to the race. It was at/around the state capitol, which is about 1.5 miles from our house. By the way, we absolutely LOVE living downtown! We walk and bike to all the cool events. I want to be an urbanite forever!

The racers didn't all go at the same time. They went about a minute apart and were timed. We could have sat there for a few hours to wait for all the riders to go through. But that would have been boring.

We watched for 3o minutes or so, then took a lovely bike ride through downtown and midtown, and also went to Macy's to get James some shirts for work.

Tonight is my sister's 21st birthday! Happy birthday Rose! We're going drinking and dancing tonight. The first of many nights out together.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

100 goals

100 goals to accomplish before my 30th birthday (in no particular order):
  1. Buy a home.
  2. Paint the interior of our home something other than white.
  3. Update our home to fit our personality.
  4. Continue to blog.
  5. Visit each of the following European countries -
  6. Ireland (see here, here, here, & here)
  7. France
  8. Spain
  9. Italy (see here, here, here, & here)
  10. Greece (see here, here, here, here, & here)
  11. Switzerland
  12. Visit Mayan ruins.
  13. Marry James.
  14. Host a fun, unique wedding.
  15. Go on a vacation with my sister(s).
  16. Do more to reduce my strain on the environment by drying more clothes outside on the clothesline,
  17. Using cloth diapers on my children, and
  18. Riding my bike to run errands.
  19. Get back to my weight in high school, and stay there.
  20. Maintain an honest and loving relationship with James.
  21. Continue to exercise at least 3 times weekly.
  22. Get my weird foot thing corrected before it gets worse.
  23. Take a road trip through the Pacific Northwest; visit
  24. Portland,
  25. Seattle, and
  26. Vancouver.
  27. Host a party.
  28. Have a child.
  29. Have a second child.
  30. Volunteer my time with a nonprofit.
  31. See The Lion King live.
  32. Buy a new car.
  33. Maintain a near-perfect credit rating.
  34. Get promoted to Assistant Account Executive.
  35. Have my back problems corrected.
  36. Pay off my student loans.
  37. Go snowboarding.
  38. Be involved in the fight for gay marriage equality.
  39. Teach my child(ren) Spanish.
  40. Fly in a hot air balloon.
  41. Go to my high school reunion.
  42. Read books.
  43. Breastfeed my babies.
  44. Keep my personal files organized.
  45. Use coupons at the grocery store.
  46. Watch every single episode of LOST.
  47. Be more patient.
  48. Do crafts.
  49. Paint a painting that I like enough to hang in my home.
  50. Design a web site for my dad's business.
  51. Take a winter vacation to a snowy locale.
  52. Buy flowers at the farmers' market.
  53. Eat fruits and vegetables every day.
  54. Watch the AMGEN Tour of California Bike Race.
  55. Go to a San Francisco Giants game.
  56. Go to a Sacramento Kings game.
  57. Go to a Sacramento Rivercats game.
  58. Host Thanksgiving at my house.
  59. Have my whole family over for dinner.
  60. Hang out with my cousins.
  61. Go to Yosemite.
  62. Have a girls day with my mother in law.
  63. Go to Disneyland California Adventure.
  64. Go hiking.
  65. Swim in the ocean.
  66. Swim in a pool.
  67. Buy a bike rack for my car.
  68. Take our bikes on a vacation.
  69. Get a massage with my mom.
  70. Go on a vacation with my family.
  71. Watch fireworks at New Year's.
  72. Get a pretty headboard for our bed.
  73. Go dancing with my sister.
  74. Celebrate with James when he passes the PTA Exam.
  75. Have my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner.
  76. Go to the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin & Harvest Festival.
  77. Go salsa dancing.
  78. Go for a run on the beach.
  79. Buy a really nice suit.
  80. Take a zumba class at the gym.
  81. Take a hip hop class at the gym.
  82. Eat at The Melting Pot.
  83. Eat at Benihana.
  84. Have Michelle and Adam over for dinner.
  85. Spend a day with James' neices.
  86. Spend a day with James' sister.
  87. Pick wildflowers.
  88. Go hiking with my dad.
  89. Visit New York City.
  90. Get more than 1 blog follower.
  91. Buy a nice camera.
  92. Braid cornrows in someone’s hair.
  93. Buy nice curtains for our house.
  94. Go to the movies with James.
  95. Meet James’ extended family.
  96. Go see The Undulations play live.
  97. Go to Music in the Park.
  98. Make new friends.
  99. Always drive safely.
  100. Finish this list.
So there it is… I have over 7 years to accomplish these goals. I think I can do it! These are all things that (a) I’ve never done before, or (b) I want to do again before I'm 30.

The goal accomplishing starts today, so even if I’ve done something (like to go a Giants game), I can’t cross it off my list until I do it again.

I’ll try to blog about each of my goals as I complete them.

UC Davis Biological Sciences Department.
This is Chardonnay; How can I help you?

I posted this on my MySpace blog a year ago, but am inspired to repost here because of the frequency this is happening to me lately.

A couple of years ago, I started to receive a lot of weird phone calls on my cell phone. Seriously sometimes 3 or 4 times a day, I would get a call from someone trying to reach the UC Davis Biological Sciences Department. I am in no way affiliated with this organization.

Even when people got my voicemail, which says, "Hi, this is Chardonnay. Leave a message and I'll call you back," obviously not the voicemail message of a university office, they still wouldn't catch on. I got tons of voicemails similar to "Hi, I have a question about Bio 120. Can you call me back?"

One guy kept calling when I was at work and couldn't answer. He left me at least 5 messages, each one increasingly irritated. "I really need you to call me back!" Of course I never did.

After a few months of daily phone calls, I finally asked one of the callers where she got my phone number. She said it was on the web site, which I visited ASAP. My number is very similar to the Bio Dept… but I’m not going to post any more hints about it because I don’t want any stalker blog readers knowing my phone number! :P

This has been happening so long that I can always tell when it's the beginning of a new quarter at UCD - I start getting several calls a day for the Bio Dept. Depending on my mood and how polite they are, I'll just say "You have the wrong number," or explain their mistake.

I’ve had this phone number since 2004. I think the calls started coming in 2005 or 2006. I’m really tired of it!

Friday, February 6, 2009


I love kickboxing! I started a little over two years ago when I first joined my gym, and when I was in college I went one or two times every week. It’s hard work, but is really fun. When I first started, it was intimidating learning all the moves, but it didn’t take long until I knew what I was doing (usually).

Last summer I started my current job, and my 8:30 – 5:30 schedule had, for the most part, prevented me from attending kickboxing classes. A few weeks ago I decided to change my schedule to 8 – 5. This allows me to get to class every Tuesday and Thursday right after work.

It’s good to be back! It’s such a great work out. I’m convinced that I burn a lot more calories than using the treadmill or elliptical, since I don’t have the motivation to use those for a whole 50 minutes; I get bored.

I’ve also tried cycling and step aerobics classes. They’re good too, but kickboxing is still my favorite. I’m interested in giving zumba a try, and they even have a hip hop class that I’d like to try but I’m a little scared of.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Biggest Loser, Week 5

I’m the same weight as I was last week. How disappointing. I swear I was 2 pounds lighter on Monday. Whatever.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Garlic Parmesan Orzo

This recipe calls for orzo, which is a tiny pasta that looks like rice. I’ve also made it with shell pasta, which James prefers. I like it better with orzo though.

I didn’t think this was possible, but the original recipe may actually call for too much garlic. I can’t believe I just typed that. If you don’t like strong garlic flavors, keep that in mind.

2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

  1. Cook orzo according to the box.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté butter and garlic until tender.
  3. Add to the skillet: Orzo, parmesan, milk, parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Stir the ingredients together until combined and heated through.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

You may have noticed that I tend to make simple recipes. I’m not a fan of food that takes a long time or a lot of ingredients to make – I have better things to do! This recipe is the easiest, fastest chicken I know of. The hardest part is cutting the chicken.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cut a chicken breast into cutlets (in half so that it’s thinner).
  3. Sprinkle the chicken with lemon pepper and a little bit of garlic powder and basil. Really if you just put lemon pepper it would be fine.
  4. Place in a baking dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn over, then bake an additional 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

No Boil Lasagna

This is my FAVORITE homemade food… I’m not sure why I haven’t posted the recipe before! It’s the recipe my mom has always used and is super easy because you don’t have to boil the noodles.

It’s a myth that you have to buy special “no boil” noodles - just use whatever you have and I promise it will work. If you want to make it a little healthier use whole wheat lasagna noodles. I can’t tell the difference because there’s so much sauce and cheese.

So here’s the basic recipe. Sometimes I put mushrooms or spinach or sausage in, but just cheese lasagna is amazingly delicious.

1 16 oz. container of low fat ricotta or cottage cheese (do not use nonfat - it’ll turn out weird and watery!)
1 and 1/2 cups grated cheese
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon basil
1 box lasagna noodles
1 25 oz. container of pasta sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a bowl, combine ricotta/cottage cheese, 1 cup grated cheese, parmesan, egg and basil.
  3. In large casserole dish, spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce. Cover that with 3 or 4 noodles (however many cover the bottom of the dish).
  4. On top of the noodles, put 1 cup sauce. Put ½ of the cheese mixture on top of that.
  5. Put one more layer of noodles, sauce, then cheese.
  6. The final layer is noodles and all of the remaining sauce.

Does that make sense? That was kind of hard to explain. Haha

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour at 375. When it’s done, take off the foil and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Put it back in the oven for a few minutes, until it’s melted.


Zucchini Pancakes

This is my new favorite breakfast, found on my fave site, They’re yummy and a good way to trick yourself into eating veggies. Just don’t put syrup on them - they are not that kind of pancake!

2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion (I left this out)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use whole wheat flour and it tasted fine)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Basil, pepper and garlic salt to taste

Just combine all of the ingredients and cook them in a pan like regular pancakes. Spray the pan with non-stick spray first. Allrecipes suggested to serve them with tomato sauce or sour cream. I like them plain though (that’s how I like regular pancakes too :)