Monthly Archives: July 2012

Red velvet Cheesecake

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Probably one of the tastiest things I’ve had in a long time. I recommend the Key Lime Cheesecake too! But this one…Oh, boy ❤

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Om Nom Nom: Cheesecake Minis

This weeks Om Nom Nom is a slight alteration to a previous post: The No Bake Cheesecake. I used a slightly different recipe and I also made these as individual mini cheesecakes. I actually liked how these turned out better than the whole No bake cheesecake from before. I hope you will enjoy it to if you decide to give it a try. It’s nice because it’s still low fat/low cal and all that. You also don’t worry about eating huge slices (so it lasts longer) because it’s just the individual cheesecakes.

Topped with Blueberries 🙂

Ingredients:

4 oz low fat cream cheese, soften (I use Philadelphia)

2 cup(s) fat-free plain Greek Yogurt (Chobani is a great brand)

1 tsp lemon juice

2 packets of Sweetener

8 (small) individual pie crusts

Fruit for Topping (Optional)

Plain Version

Instructions:

Soften cream cheese then add yogurt , lemon juice and sweetener, and stir until it is mixed. Spoon creamy ingredients in and refrigerate until solid. Then top with any fruit just before serving. Berries seem to work nicely.

Topped with Raspberries ❤

 

I was a little iffy at first when I saw it called for greek yogurt. I LOVE greek yogurt, but I don’t like the plain flavor. It has such a strong taste, in my opinion. Yet, mixed with the cream cheese and everything else…it’s more toned down. I love these little desserts at the end of the day with a glass of milk. Delicious 🙂 I hope you get a chance to try and enjoy these fellas. They’re quick, easy to make and not bad for you either. Eat on my friends, eat on. Happy Munchings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starbucks Summer Mission: Oreo Frapp Re-visited

So. This is not necessarily a NEW frappuccino. I had tried this “Oreo” frappuccino early on in my Starbucks Summer mission…mission. I was happy with it, for the most part. However, I did think that it could benefit from a better chocolate-vanilla ratio. I stopped by a Starbucks today and decided to give it another go. I think I was much more successful this time. As it stands, the “Oreo” frappuchino is a double chocolate chip frappuccino with white mocha syrup instead of the regular mocha. It is good that way. However, the chocolate flavor dominates the vanilla altogether. So I tweaked it a bit.

Part Deux…much better.

The (much better) Oreo frappuccino:

Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino with: white mocha syrup instead of regular mocha syrup, add vanilla bean powder and whipped cream blended in. This is delightfully topped with (more) whipped cream and mocha syrup on top.

This is much better than the original. You still get the chocolate flavor BUT much more vanilla. The combination of the two blend together in harmony and tastes much closer to our beloved Oreo cookie. It’s a home-run, in my book. So I can leave this one alone, now that I tweaked it to my liking. Another 5/5! Happy Sipping! ~Peace, Love, Starbucks~

Music Mondays: The Spill Canvas

This weeks Music Mondays will be another band feature. I had recently discovered this band about a week or so ago when I was listening to music on my iheartradio app on my phone (which I’d recommend by the way, if you like finding new music). I listened to their song “Appreciation and the bomb”, and fell in love. I looked up some more songs from that album on youtube and they’re gaining appreciation by this music lover ❤

The Spill canvas is an emo acoustic band from South Dakota. Hm, never knew anything so awesome came from South Dakota. Seriously. 😛 They started off as a side project for Nick Thomas, the lead singer. As time passed, it was decided that The Spill Canvas would be a full time band.

I wasn’t aware at first that they were considered “emo acoustic”. I did enjoy their acoustic sound and they had pretty meaningful lyrics. Maybe I need to listen to their beginning albums to see where the emo portion is coming in. I normally don’t listen to emo music or …well emo anything. Regardless of where you want to put them, The Spill Canvas is a jumble of beautiful lyrics and sounds. Emo or not, I can call them an ‘honest’ band. You can easily relate to what’s being sung about and that’s sometimes hard to find. I adore them for it.

My Favorite: Appreciation and the Bomb. It speaks about appreciating life while you can, basically…since most people don’t and take it for granted. I LOVE this song. I hope that you do too. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that we never feel the hear until we get burned” ❤

All Over You. Another great song…more awesomeness to love.

Last one: more romantic, and whatnot. Not usually my speed, but it’s not cheesy.

Happy Listening! See you all next week~

 

Om Nom Nom: Greek Islands

This weeks edition is from a restaurant I had heard so much about recently. I’m not sure why I have had such a taste for Greek food as of late but that’s what influenced me to look for some places in Greek town. My best friend and I were going out on another shopping/lunch/Starbucks adventure downtown and I had been asking around for good Greek restaurants. I kept hearing about The Greek Islands. I looked up their menu online and it looked like it was a great place to go. There were also a lot of really great reviews on yelp.com (i love this site btw) for this restaurant. So, we ventured there for lunch.

If you are ever in Chicago (or you live there) and you like Greek Food, You HAVE to stop by here. The place is beautifully decorated in a Greek Theme, the workers are both friendly and quick and the food is the best. I’ve been to a few Greek restaurants and none of them were as good as The Greek Islands.

~Strawberry Daiquiri~

The strawberry daiquiri was really good: not too sweet and had just the right amount of alcohol in it. Expensive, but good. But I wouldn’t get two 😛

We ended up choosing Grilled Octopus for our appetizer. I had never had octopus before and I do like to try new things…even things that people might consider a bit “unusual”. If I’m going to a cool Greek restaurant, might as well try something different. I can get calamari anywhere, so I wasn’t up for that. It’s hard to explain what Octopus tastes like, but it was delicious. It wasn’t squishy as I had thought it would be. It had a tougher consistency than say, squid. It was still really yummy.

Grilled Octopus

After munching on some delightful octopus, I ordered some roast leg of lamb with a side of Spinach and Feta cheese pie. Oh, with a side of tomato sauce. The lamb was delicious: rich, juicy and tender. I love lamb and I always try to get some at restaurants that serve it. I’d have to say it was the best Lamb I’ve had. The spinach and feta cheese pie was also good. Even pouring the tomato sauce over it, it didn’t get all mushy (which I hate). The pastry remained ‘crispy’, if you will. I loved it and they didn’t skimp on the feta.

The random thing in the middle is a potato, by the way. It was yummy 🙂

My friend decided against getting a traditional gyro and ordered some kind of dish alternative type of gyro.

Can’t recall the name, but it was great…I snuck a bite.

Overall, I loved this place. Everything about it from food to service was exceptional. I will definitely try going back again if I have the chance and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something new. Till next week, happy eating! 🙂

My Gripe On…Twitter.

Now, I’ll be clear before I go into this post. I’m not bashing twitter. That is not the point of this post. I’m really more going to blog about those who just go overboard with their tweets. I can’t possibly ever bash twitter since I DO have one. So, don’t get the wrong idea.

Anyway.

There are some things that people on twitter do that just annoy the piss out of me. Yes, it is their twitter. And, yes, they can do with it how they please. I’m just going to gripe about it, that’s all. I think the thing that annoys me most about people on twitter is that they tweet about E V E R Y T H I N G. I mean, absolutely everything under the sun. I don’t even mean interesting things. People seem to use twitter to tell the rest of the world every single thing that they do at every single moment of every single day. It makes me dizzy. I may be guilty of it from time to time, to an extent. I usually tweet about activities for the day (like If I’m going out with friends, or on vacation. etc), or funny stuff that goes on during the day, or stupid (but funny) stuff my friends and I say. Otherwise, that’s about it.

I don’t tweet about the egg salad I had for lunch. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw it in my twitter feed.

Here’s a day of tweets that I would hope to never find…but feel like it exists somewhere in the Twitter-sphere:

woke up today. #praisejesus #mylifeissoamazing

Drank some milk #ilovecows #calciumisyourfriend #refreshing #doesthebodygood

Eggs are fucking delicious #thankgodforchickens

Walked to work today #sofit #teambody #iwouldhavetakenthecarbutithasaflat

Got fired #fuckbitches #ihatemyboss #unemployed #cantpaytherent

Gotta pee #8ouncesofwateraday

Got laid #likeaboss #gettingitin #imnotawhorebag

Bedtime #catchingsomezs #suchalongday #gottafindanewjobtomorrow #praisejesus

Makes me want to punch somebody. Please excuse the exaggerations, but SOMETIMES some people are dangerously close.

Now, this isn’t a rule that applies to everyone necessarily. Some people really DO have lives that are so fascinating, that they probably should tweet about just about everything they do. However, it seems that those that have the LEAST interesting lives have a twitter. Now, whether or not they tweet a lot depends on the person. I know I have recently found out that some people I know have twitters and I’m not sure why that is. Their facebook is a big enough yawn fest…so it makes me wonder why they would tweet about. More uninteresting things?

Sitting at home reading about “super cool” inanimate objects #imsofreakingawesome

No, no you’re not. I’m not telling people how to do their own shit or anything. Just saying. We don’t need to know ALL your business. You might as well send tweets like: Wiped my Own Butt #likeaboss.

Or something. I don’t know. Though, sometimes I do get quite tickled at some of the tweets I see. So I guess I’m just a picky bitch at best. I should write a Tweet Etiquette book or something, for fun 😛 I mean, it’s kind of like when people say they get irritated when they see depressing statuses…and when you ASK what’s wrong…they say they don’t want to talk about it. THAT drives me up a wall. Or, the person who always has a status about the same thing that you can’t stand to begin with. It’s like, YES I know you like school, but don’t you have a LIFE? Or…those who always complain in their statuses. Or…the people who have those really trashy facebook profile pictures. It’s like that…but for twitter. 😛

Don’t take this to heart or anything. Most times I actually just only pay attention to the people I follow who actually have something interesting to tweet about. All the other shit I just pass over. So, it’s nothing personal. 😉 So Yeah…

~Until Next Week!~

Starbucks Summer Mission #10 and #11!

I outdid myself a bit today. 😛 I was out with my best friend and we stopped at Starbucks after both lunch and gamestop. I was in a rather jolly mood so I got two drinks at starbucks today. Yet, I’m not feeling much guilt about it. Pft, who needs restraint.

Right.

Anyway. I went against my first thought, which was to get something…chocolatey. Since that’s what I normally tend to get, even when picking from the ‘secret’ menu items. Instead, I went a different direction.

The Butterbeer Frappuchino!

A Butterbeer Frappuchino is simply a White Mocha Frappuchino with hazelnut and toffeenut syrup mixed in. My Verdict? It’s absolutely delicious. It had a nice butterscotch taste to it…both rich and sweet (without being overly sweet). I loved it. The barista was a pretty cool dude and said he loved when people came in and tried different spinoffs of menu items. He had tried the Crunch berry Frappuchino himself (previously mentioned in another blog) and was also surprised at how such a simple combo tasted like the real cereal. We had a great conversation, needless to say. Anyway. I’d give this frappuchino a 5/5 for sure! If you’re not into the chocolate flavored frappuchinos…this might be more your speed. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a butterscotch taste 🙂

Side note: Saw this sign in the store…It made me smile. I love Starbucks.

Clearly, that wasn’t enough. After sitting there at Starbucks for a few hours…I was thirsty again. But I was too full to consume another frappuchino (thankfully). So instead I tried one of their newer drink items: their cool lime refresher.

*Sip* Ahhh~

I liked this a lot. The Cool Lime refresher was…well…refreshing. To be honest, it tasted like a Mojito without the alcohol in it. Which isn’t a big issue, but I thought it was funny. Next Time I’ll try the Very Berry Hibiscus refresher.

Happy Sipping!

Completed Drinks List:

Item 1: Cocoa Cappuchino

Item 2: Thin Mint Frappuchino

Item 3: Cookies and Cream Frappuchino

Item 4: The Nutella Frappuchino.

Item 5: Iced Caramel Macchiato

Item 6: Twix Frappuchino

Item 7: Oreo frappuchino

Item 8: The Gilligan Frappuchino

Item 9: The Crunch Berry Frappuchino

Item 10: Butterbeer Frappuchino

Item 11: Cool Lime Refresher

~Peace, Love, Starbucks~

Weekend Vacationing in ‘Hotlanta’

So. I got a chance to get away this weekend for once. I have not traveled in quite some time…at least two years or more. I have not had the time, money, or physical health to do so. So You can imagine how happy I was to be able to go away somewhere new, even for just a weekend. Sometimes that’s all you need. I went to a friends family reunion in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend. I was pretty excited but nervous. I’m a reserved person when I meet new people. Granted, I know a good number of them because I know the family well enough…but none of them had really seen me since I had gotten sick a year ago…so I was very apprehensive about the whole thing. I can kind of “clam up” in these social situations. But, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. I didn’t die on the flight (I HAD a fear of flying…) and I was happy with the kind treatment from the airport workers with the powerchair situation. I had not flown since becoming ill, and wasn’t sure how it all worked. Either way, things went pretty smoothly. It was H O T as balls in Atlanta…but then again it was just as hot back home in chicago 😛 And humid too, jesus. It’s very pretty in Atlanta, where we were. I believe we were in the central downtown area. I won’t go into details about the reunion itself cause that part is irrelevant…but I will say I wish I had more time to go and do more touristy things. I didn’t really get a chance to. I mean I saw some things in passing in the car, I got to see CNN studio and went to Hard Rock Cafe. Otherwise, not much else. That’s my regret. I DID have a good time and enjoyed the weather, but I could have done that at home 😛 Next time, I’ll do a lot more. Oh, I also went to Centennial Park for a brief moment. Twas nice.

I’m in!

Hard Rock Cafe ❤

Souvenir Glass ❤

I have now been bitten by the travel bug. After coming back from my vacation, I know have this sense of adventure and want to see what else is out there. I would LOVE to go on another weekend trip before school starts…I really want to and if I can find someone to go with me, I just might. We’ll see. I AM planning on visiting my boyfriend in Canada for the Christmas Holidays this year AND going on a trip to London next summer before I have to start Grad school. I have never really traveled much and now I just want to see everything. If you have good suggestions of places to travel (for both a weekend getaway, or longer), feel free to let me know. 🙂

 

Music Mondays: Math Rock

For this weeks Music Mondays, I wanted to try a different genre. Something I hadn’t really heard of before. I did a bit of google searching and came across this genre: Math Rock. I had heard of it once and didn’t think it was an actual genre. But…it actually is! Believe it or not…Math rock is a rhythmically complex, often guitar-based, style of experimental rock that had  emerged in the late 1990s, influenced by progressive rock bands like King Crimson as well as 20th century minimalist composers such as Steve Reich. I will probably get into progressive and experimental rock at a later date, for the record.Now on to the main event~

Normal Rock music uses a basic 4/4 meter. Math rock, however, uses asymmetrical time signatures such a 7/8, 11/8 or 13/8. They might also use features that might constantly change the meters based on various groupings of 2 and 3. This is seen as “mathematical” and is what mostly gives the genre it’s name. The music of Math rock is mostly dominated by guitars and drums just like traditional rock. However, due to the complex rhythms, math rock groups tend to stick out more than groups of other genres. Also, it’s normal for guitarists in math rock groups to use the “tapping” method of guitar playing and loop pedals can also be used occasionally. Guitar playing is often played in clean tones more than other “upbeat” rock songs. Distortion is sometimes used, depending on the group.

Lyrics are generally not the main focus of math rock; the voice is treated as just another sound in the mix. Often, lyrics are not overdubbed, and are positioned low in the mix, as in the recording style of Steve Albini. Many of math rock’s most famous groups are entirely instrumental such as Don Caballero. Side note: The term math rock has often been passed off as a joke that has developed into what some believe is a musical style.

Influences across the country:

During the 1990s, the greatest concentration of math rock bands was in the urban centers of the Midwest ranging from Minneapolis to Buffalo, with Chicago being a central hub (naturally). The Chicago-based sound engineer Steve Albini is a key figure in the scene, and many math rock bands from around the country have enlisted him to record their albums, giving the genre’s recorded catalog a certain uniformity of sound, and lumping his bands past and present. Also, many math rock records were released by Chicago-based Touch and Go Records.

One of the few math rock bands from the Detroit area was Philo Beddow. The band originally leaned toward an aggressive and dissonant sound that would be more associated with mathcore. They went on to develop a warmer sound that often consisted of more traditionally melodic vocal lines laid over angular instrumentation in patterned mixed meters and triplet-time (sorry for those who don’t have a music background and might be confused). These compositions tended to emphasize the range   between bass lines that were influenced by progressive rock.

The city of Pittsburgh  is home to one of the most defining examples of the math rock genre: the four-piece instrumental band Don Cabellero. Formed in 1991 after the breakup of Sludgehammer, “Don Cab” as the group is affectionately known, blends heavy noise rock sounds with avant-garde jazzy influences. Like many other bands in the style, Don Caballero’s members despise the “math rock” label applied to them by critics. Even so, it should come as no surprise that a temporary bass player Matt Jencik, a member of another former Pittsburgh math rock band, Hurl, also spent time in Don Caballero.

Areas such as San Diego, D.C., The South, and even Toronto/Windsor Ontario have math rock groups that have helped build up this lesser known genre.

As always, let me know what you think. It’s a genre that is new to ME…so It might be new to you. Happy listening!

 

Our Little Friend of the Week: Parasites Pt. 1: The Good

~There will be photos of parasites in this post, so you know. Don’t say I didn’t tell you~

For starters, I like parasites.  I have stated previous times that I’m a microbiology buff and I like all these creepy and crawly. Parasites are not exempt from this list of things that I enjoy. I have taken a Parasitology class and will be taking another one this coming semester…which, needless to say, I’m pumped about. I can’t explain my fascination with these strange creatures. I guess it’s because I like the unusual and “gross”. So, i decided that I’d blog about parasites for today. Now, parasites always get a bad rep. YES, they can be harmful to both humans and your favorite pet. But, they’re not always that bad. Just a lot of the time. So that’s not too bad right? 😉 That thought has inspired this blog post. You’ll see parasites at their best, their worst and most interesting. Since I have SO much information to cover…I’ll do it in three installments. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them in the comments section! Now, Let’s proceed shall we?

~The Good~ aka, some reasons why they’re not THAT bad.

Reason 1: Parasites might cure autoimmune diseases. (Which is of interest to ME because I suffer from one…not that I feel I would ever use them in this way. :P)

In recent years, scientists have discovered that certain parasites have the ability to interfere with autoimmune diseases. For those who aren’t familiar with autoimmune diseases…think Crohns Disease, or a myositis…or inflammatory bowel syndrome. To be very short it’s a disease resulting arise from an inappropriate immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks its own cells. In my case, I have polymyositis. It’s an autoimmune disease where my immune system attacked my muscles as if it were a foreign invader…thus causing my muscles to become inflammed and then weakened significantly.The treatment of autoimmune diseases (at the moment…) is typically with immunosuppresion—medication which decreases the immune response.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that just anyone should go out and intentionally infect themselves with stomach worms as opposed to the current medicine available. That’s a terrible idea. But in some select cases where the benefits outweigh the costs, getting a parasite is a legitimate source of medicine.

One of the people involved in this type of parasite therapy research is gastroenterologist Joel Weinstock, who had a revelation of sorts when exploring the question of why diseases, from asthma to multiple sclerosis, are on the rise in developed countries but not in undeveloped parts of the world. Weinstock discovered a possible answer: our favorite friend, the parasite.

Weinstock’s theory — which is still being tested and has yet to been proven fully — is that there’s a direct correlation between a lack of intestinal worms and a rise in autoimmune diseases. In developed countries like the United States we’ve done an excellent job — some would say too good a job — avoiding parasitic worms, but we may be paying the price in the form of other, even more harmful diseases. We’re “too clean”, so to speak. Especially when you consider how most people, especially in the United States, feel about parasites.

Weinstock, in the early 1990s, noticed how prevalent inflammatory bowel disease had become in North America. At the same time, he realized that parasitic worms, or helminths, have a unique effect on their human hosts. Instead of inducing inflammation (the body’s normal response to invasion), they actually calm the immune system. According to the theory, because people have lived with helminths through much of history, the human immune system has evolved to fight them, and when worms are removed entirely, the body’s immune system turns against itself. Helminthic therapy, or worm therapy, may emerge as a legitimate field of medicine, but it’s still very new and few studies have been done to date. So, there’s no telling what more will come from this type of research. Who knows, maybe that could lead to (or be the) cure to autoimmune diseases. People who suffer from them, like me, can only hope. I can’t say if I’d be the first to jump the gun and TRY out a treatment like that…but if there was enough backing by scientific evidence AND (of course) test trials…I would be willing 😛

For more Information:

http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2007/12/31/his_parasite_theory_stirs_a_revolution/

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29wwln-essay-t.html?_r=1

Reason 2: Parasites could potentially cure allergies.

Some intestinal worms are also believed to cure allergies, which share some notable characteristics with autoimmune diseases. Some people claim that our old friend the hookworm has the ability to cure everything from allergies to hay fever to asthma — but your allergies would have to be REALLY bad to knowingly infect yourself with blood-sucking worms. Though, I personally think that’s kinda cool…but I’m weird like that. A lovely gentleman named Jasper Lawrence made worm therapy for allergies famous a few years ago. Suffering from debilitating allergies and asthma, Lawrence heard about the theory that hookworms could cure allergies, so he traveled to Africa and walked around with his shoes off in several open-air latrines. After successfully contracting hookworms (and probably a lot of other things), Lawrence reported that his allergies had subsided, and he recently told the public radio program Radiolab that he hasn’t had an asthma attack or allergy symptoms since his visit to Africa. What to make of this? I wouldn’t put everything behind this JUST yet…but it’s something to think about, at least.

Unfortunately, the rest of this story doesn’t end all that well.

Convinced that hookworms are the answer to the world’s allergies and asthma, Lawrence — who isn’t a doctor — returned to North America and began shipping orders of hookworms to allergy sufferers, delivered in the form of a patch, for about $3,000 per treatment. But when the FDA caught wind of Lawrence’s little side project, he fled to Mexico and then flew to England, where he was born. Oops? I guess that wasn’t the brightest idea, bro.

Regardless, the underlying fact is that intestinal worms might provide important clues about how allergies work. Because of new research, as well as personal stories like Jasper’s, the hygiene theory, — which states that cleanliness and the lack of childhood exposure to bacteria and parasites leads to increased incidents of allergies and autoimmune diseases — is gaining wider acceptance. Several different studies are currently underway to look at how parasites like hookworms might be able to cure allergies and asthma, but nobody has definitively proven that hookworms are the answer. So again, we’ll have to see what happens in the future…if anything, that is.

Now. I hope that after reading this, you have a better appreciation for our darling little parasite friends. If not, I did try~ Now, next week, I will talk about the easiest portion of my “parasite chatter”…the bad. For every one good thing, there seems to be 10 ways parasites can screw with you 😛 Either way, I’ll see you then!