Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Turkey Burgers

The Perfect Turkey Burger

1 1/4 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients until blended. Form into patties. The original recipe says this makes 4 patties. If you go this route, each one will be huge (and will need to be cooked about 8 minutes per side). I made 3 pounds of meat into 18 patties, so about 6 per pound.

Wrap each patty and freeze individually. Spray both sides with canola oil cooking spray, and then grill each frozen patty on medium-high heat for about five minutes per side. Internal temp should be 165. [I've found raw patties really stick to the grill and tend to fall apart.]

from Weight Watchers magazine May/June 2005 page 132

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life, After - Review

Life, AfterI want to thank Aurora for recommending Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman. This is a piece of young adult fiction not to miss. It is the story of 15-year-old Dani Bensimon and her family, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After 9/11 in the US, the markets collapse in her country, her father loses the family business, and her solidly middle class family struggles not to fall into poverty. Her uncle in New York urges the family to emigrate, and after nearly hitting rock bottom, they apply for visas, and leave the only home they've ever known for a new life. Landing just outside New York City, Dani has to learn a new language, a new school, and a new culture all at once.
Though the author could easily have become bogged down in the heaviness of the issues, the book stays positive with Dani showing the funny side of her struggles (for example, one of her new friends at her NY high school takes off his shoe and pretends to put it in his mouth to act out the mystifying idiom "putting his foot in his mouth" when he says something that comes out totally wrong and accidentally insults her.) The book deals with so many issues - domestic terrorism, losing a loved one, depression, bullying, autism - all in ways that are so integrated into the story that there's no judgment or preaching. The result is a book that ultimately leaves the reader feeling hopeful.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Avenue Eat & Drink Review

March 19th hubs and I had an early dinner at Avenue Eat and Drink here in Tallahassee. I had been looking forward to trying it since my friends Jenn and Rich had pointed out their philosophy of supporting local farmers: "Our Goal is to source 70% of our product locally and achieve a product that is 50% organic and green." Our meal was very good, and the service was outstanding. Everyone at the restaurant went out of their way to make us feel welcome. For our appetizer we shared Pan Seared Scallops:
Pan-seared scallops, served on sweet corn pancakes with a smoked bacon cream sauce, sauteed spinach and balsamic syrup

For dinner, Chris had the roasted half chicken with Meyers Lemons [Pan-seared, semi-boneless half chicken rubbed with fresh herbs and served with Anson Mills cheese grits (yum, cheese grits)] and I had the Lemon Grouper: 
Pan seared fresh Gulf grouper with grilled Meyers lemons, seasonal vegetables and potatoes (as you can see I wasn't patient enough not to try it before I photographed it!).

We didn't have dessert but we did each enjoy a nice glass of wine. Our server's wine suggestions were spot on. Next time we go I want to try a drink recommended by Rick: the Pearini: Goose Le Poive, Limoncello, Pear Puree and a Splash of Fresh Squeezed OJ with Ginger Root Garnish. Give Avenue Eat and Drink a visit; you won't regret it!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Peanut-Lime Chicken

We had Peanut-Lime Chicken for dinner tonight. We hadn't had it in a while, and had maybe forgotten how good it is... which made me want to share the recipe.

Lime-Peanut Chicken with Jasmine Rice

For the marinade:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed
4 cups jasmine rice, prepared as normal

Combine the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well. Place the chicken in the bowl and stir well so each piece is coated with marinade. Cover and chill for 2-4 hours or overnight. Stir after one hour. 

Preheat the grill to medium high. Thread the chicken onto wooden or metal skewers. Oil the grill well and then cook 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with jasmine rice; garnish with a sprig of parsley or cilantro. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chocolate Tweetup for Refuge House Recap

What a great fun event we had yesterday for Refuge House! LeRoc Bistro Cafe was a great location with its funky decor and delicious food (I had the pressed Tuscan sandwich - yum - and large enough that I could save half for later). They are also very lucky to have a creative pastry chef who prepared this platter of chocolate goodies for us:
We had such an awesome group for the event - we even overflowed the section that the restaurant had set aside for us! We added extra chairs and had space for all nineteen of us.

Much of the credit for the success of the day goes to Danielle (on the left, below). Not only was having a tweetup for Refuge House her idea, but she also helped organize, and recruited lots of friends and co-workers to attend! It was great to meet some of the people she works with at the Florida Chamber.

Thanks to the generosity of author Elin Waldal, we had a signed copy of her book Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman's Life as a door prize. (Danielle and I didn't take part in the drawing; I held the bag of entries while Danielle picked the winning ticket... and here she is: Jessica was our lucky winner. 

Altogether we raised $125 in cash donations for Refuge House and collected 4 towel sets, a twin sheet set, 2 pillows, 2 bean bags chairs and 2 bins full of gently-used bed linens. Amazing! Here is my attempt to fit it all in one photo:

I want to thank everyone who came out, supported Refuge House, and helped us have such fun! A special thanks to Nicole for bringing her favorite chocolates (Dove, milk and dark) to share and thanks to her and and to Tara for helping take photos. My attempt to embed Nicole's photo aren't working but you can view it at Though they weren't with us in person, Alicia and Jennifer helped behind the scenes and were with us in spirit. And Paula is the mother of tweeting up for a cause in Tallahassee - thank you for your support and for the great chocolate twitter icon for the event!

Related posts: Tweetup preview post and my review of Tornado Warning.

Tweetup friends to follow on Twitter:


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Review

The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A NovelTuesday, my long-time friend and #AXO sister Maura recommended The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A Novel by Sarah Addison Allen. Wednesday I downloaded it to my kindle and read over half of it at bedtime. I had to get up and put it in the bathroom so I would stop reading. Thursday I finished and am ready to recommend it to you too. The author's use of language captivated me!
"He smiled. Then his smile turned into a laugh, which was an ashy roar, like a large fire."
"...charm sparkled around him like sunlight"
This description is courtesy of
"Emily Benedict has come to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew, she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor, Julia Winterson, bakes hope in the form of cakes, not only wishing to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also dreaming of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chocolate Tweetup for Refuge House

Hope you'll join us Thursday April 21st at Lunch for Refuge House with a Chocolate Tweetup. We're meeting at LeRoc Bistro Cafe inside Hotel Duval, from 11:30am - 1:30pm (you can arrive as your schedule allows). The pastry chef is creating special chocolate items on the dessert menu for our event! The first 20 people to RSVP and attend will get a chocolate gift to take home! RSVP at Everyone is welcome (whether you are on Twitter or not).
All we ask is you chip in $5 for Refuge House or bring a twin sheet set, pillow or towels to donate to Refuge House. "Refuge House, Inc. provides direct services to battered women, their children and sexual assault survivors, as well as to works to eliminate the conditions in society that allow such violence to continue." If you'd like to make your monetary donation online, you can do so here.
See you Thursday!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tornado Warning Review and Giveaway!

Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect On A Woman's LifeI started reading Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and its Effect on a Woman's Life as soon as it came out earlier this year. This is the true story of the author, Elin Waldal, how she came to be in a violent relationship as a teen (it's so true that it can happen to anyone), her experience in the relationship, ending it, and the long-term impact it has had on her life.

This is one of the bravest authors you will ever read. Not only does she share her story, she exposes everything she was going through by using excerpts from journals she kept at the time. Here's an example:
"What people don't seem to get is the guy doesn't haul off and hit you on the first date. First there is the falling in love, followed by the extreme need, and then there's this slow erosion of self until without noticing it, the woman becomes unrecognizable even to herself"
The other thing that sets this book apart from other similar memoirs (like Leslie Morgan Steiner's Crazy Love which I recommend here) is the way the author shares the aftermath. What happens to you in a relationship like this stays with you for a long time. Recovery is not easy; it takes time, patience, and determination.

Not only is Ms. Waldal courageous, she is also generous, and has offered a copy of her book to one of my blog readers. She'll even sign it personally to the winner! To enter (one point each)
- comment below (include your email address if you think I don't have it already)
- follow me on twitter: (comment to let me know)
- follow Elin Waldal on twitter: (comment to let me know)
- tweet about the giveaway - use hashtag #teendvbook (if your profile is private, comment here to let me know)
- share this post on facebook (comment to let me know)

Winner will be drawn at random from all entries on Thursday, April 21st at noon EDT. Good luck!

Reading this book could save someone's life.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Go Tribe!

I wanted to blog about the Cleveland Indians for opening day but I was at SEPC and time got away from me. Normally (since moving away from CLE over a decade ago), I wouldn't be paying much attention to professional baseball in April (in favor of FSU/college ball) but my friend Meagan tweeted me a link in March to the social media work the Indians organization set up for the 2011 season. Here's a synopsis:

It got me excited to follow the team (@Indians@tribetalk plus the front office, manager and players are on Twitter, visit!/indians for a full list), and wow what a ride the season has been so far! No expects much of the Tribe, but they have been playing great baseball this April, and it's been a lot of fun to follow along.
my brother and me, ready to cheer on the Indians
I've been to, watched, and listened to a lot of games, in winning times (we played the World Series on multiple screens at our wedding reception in 1995) and not so winning (when we were kids (see photo), my Dad used to take us to a double-header every summer for my brother's birthday; I think I was in college before I ever saw them win in person!). So here's to the Tribe! Give them a follow in 2011 and remember (in the immortal words of Ebby Calvin LaLoosh in the iconic baseball film Bull Durham): "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SEPC Day 3 Recap

I spent the weekend of March 31-April 3rd in Atlanta for SEPC, the Southeastern Panhellenic Conference, one of the premier college women's leadership conferences in the country. Because I have lots to share (and lots of photos!) I'm going to share three posts about the conference, one for each day. [preview post here; day one post here; day two post here.]

SEPC Day 3: Saturday

Saturday started nice and early at 7:45am with an Affiliation Breakfast and t-shirt swap. We had a great turnout of Alpha Chi Omega sisters for the event, in spite of the early start time. I loved the cut-out t-shirt signs that marked our tables!

Sister checking out t-shirts for swapping.

I loved this OMG Phi Mu t-shirt; this sister was really excited to get it in the swap.

a group photo of all of the Alpha Chi Omegas at breakfast

After a fun hour of socializing and bonding with sisters, it was time to put our thinking caps back on. Again today, like Friday, we had a wealth of choices in terms of topics and speakers.

From 9a-10a I learned a ton about Real Change in Kim Novak's session. Kim is an expert in "student–focused risk management, hazing prevention and campus safety," and her approach to looking at issues in chapters and on campuses comprehensively with an eye toward prevention gave most all of us in the room some aha! moments. She would be someone to invite to campus before there's a problem; her insights and techniques could help a good campus take the right steps to becoming great! Learn more about her work:

From 10:15 - 11:15, I sat in on Reaching the People Who Matter to You: Simple Steps to Redefine Your Campus Image with Dr. Tait Martin His use of humor and real life stories from his own life and fraternity experience helped drive home his points. For example, the average person doesn't speak sorority language - so on your Panhellenic and chapter websites and in your other materials, be sure to use terms everyone can relate to. 

Learn more about him at

I took a quick break for the festivities to have lunch with my Twitter buddy and Alpha Chi sister Mandy. We met at Big Chow Grill which is great fun - you pick all your ingredients (rice or noodles, veggies, meat, seasonings and sauce and the cooks stir-fries it all up for you - delish!! and walking distance from the hotel.) She wrote a really nice blog post about our lunch which you can read here. Our hour together went by entirely too fast!

Then it was back to the conference for more learning! From 1-4pm I attended Release Figure Management - Advanced, a session for university professionals and alumnae advisors. Release Figure Management (RFM) is a system that helps all chapters on a campus do as well as possible during sorority Recruitment. The best part is it helps more potential new members stay in recruitment and ultimately join a sorority. If you're interested, Tri-Sigma has a great slideshow introduction to RFM here. The session was great - it is so helpful to hear other people's questions and perspectives on things. I also learned that 410 campuses are now using this method (there are currently 655 campuses with NPC groups but only those that use a fully-structured recruitment model can implement RFM. [Fully-structured recruitment is the traditional model where all potential members attend first round and then attend fewer events as recruitment continues, ending with a preference day after which each women lists her favorite groups in rank order in order to be matched to receive an invitation to join one group.]) 

I spent some time later that afternoon having a snack with Jaclyn and Kate from FSU's Alpha Chi chapter, picking up the item I won in the silent auction, and getting reading for the Closing Banquet, which was a lovely event. Many college Panhellenics received awards at dinner and Julie Cain Burkhard inspired us all to say yes to the sorority experience during her key note speech. Here are some photos from the Banquet: 

Alpha Chi Omega sisters with our past National President, Julie (front row, center, in gray)

Julie with UWF sisters: Christine (Zeta Psi, Loyola-New Orleans), left, and Christina (Kappa Xi, UWF), right

Julie and I with FSU sisters, from left to right: me, Jaclyn, Julie, Kate and Whitney

I wrapped up the conference with some bonding time with Alpha Chi alums Christine and Kassie before a good nights sleep and quick trip home on Sunday morning. See you next year, SEPC!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wedding Fun Recap

We had such a wonderful time Saturday at Kristen & Steve's wedding!

Marc, Chris and Chris

Nate and Tara

Steve and Kristen before cutting the cake

Singing the AXO Sweetheart Song with sisters from five chapters (including Kristen's mom and sister).

A little love from/for the Sweetheart

Britain made us these beautiful song sheets!

Everyone had fun, even the kids who rolled down the hill!

We played corn hole... in our heels!

Love these two photos with the bride!

Best wishes for much happiness to Kristen and Steve!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale

I heard a portion of the Diane Rehm show Thursday, April 7th, during which she interviewed Rachel Lloyd, author of Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale Listen to the episode here.

Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals HerselfI've added it to my to-read list. Here's the synopsis from "British-born Rachel Lloyd dropped out of school at 13 to support her single alcoholic mother. With little opportunity, she soon found herself spiraling into a life of torment and abuse as a sexually exploited girl. Vulnerable yet tough, Rachel broke free of the street and her pimp thanks to help of a local church. But that was just the beginning...Three years later, Rachel arrived in America as a missionary working with adult women in the sex industry. As she began to meet teenage girls who shared her experiences, she decided to found her own non profit,GEMS-Girls Educational and Mentoring Services- on her kitchen table to meet the needs of girls who were shunned by society. Along the way she earned her GED and won a full scholarship to college and a graduate program. Today, Lloyd is the founder and director of GEMS in Harlem, one of the most ground-breaking nonprofit organizations in the U.S. In stunning detail and with cinematic style, Lloyd tells her life story - a harrowing and inspirational tale of suffering, recovery, discovery, and nobility. She reveals the dark, secretive world of her past with clarity, understanding, humanity, and psychological insight. A fierce and passionate crusader, Lloyd explains the factors-including, addiction, abuse, poverty-that lead so many vulnerable young women into sexual exploitation. She explains the seduction of pimps and johns, the biases of cops, the racial stereotyping, the sexism of the courts. And she lovingly talks about her successes, sharing stories of her girls whose lives she has helped. It is these small victories which have healed her wounds and made her whole. Deeply moving, authentic and brave, "Girls Like Us" is a remarkable, deeply moving, and utterly unforgettable memoir."
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