The “Big Reveal” of Plan B (and I made pasta salad)

She lives, she breathes, she even blogs?

Hi all, ThatJessGal here and I’m finally ready (deep breath) to “reveal” the Plan B I warbled about back in JUNE. (um, yeah that was 4 friggin months ago! What happened?!?) I had this great plan for the reveal that involved videos of my classroom and apartment in which you would oh so cleverly realize that while I tend to post a video of my sweet classroom at the start of the school year it would be clear this year’s classroom is quite different from my science teacher home of the last 3 years.

Right, great plan. And like many of my great plans it totally didn’t happen.  Because while I am indeed in a new classroom this year, it’s not just down the hall; nope, I’ve moved this one woman teaching show a bit south to my beloved Orlando. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for several years now and I even happened to snag a position teaching biology at the high school of my dreams!  Have you ever had the moment when a goal of yours comes fruition and you suddenly get everything you’ve been wanting at once? Ok, yeah, it was a first for me too!  It’s amazing but quite overwhelming for a Type A, concrete-sequential gal like myself. (guess that mean that one of my plans totally did happen? wow!)

Needless to say packing up and moving to a new school, a new apartment and a new*  town has been a bit time consuming. Not to mention my new school year has me hopping with 3 very advanced biology preps (6 classes total, fyi), two of which I have never taught before! Good thing this gal loves a challenge.

*While I’ve spend most of my free weekends the last 4 years in Orlando it’s still “new” since this is the first time I’ve lived here for longer than a month stretch at a time!

Speaking of challenges, now that the first quarter of the school year has officially come to close I think I may have enough of a grip on my schedule to start the challenge of blogging again.  Trust me, I’ve missed it and I have TONS of foodie adventures to share with you, my darlings. My “plan” (ekk, did I just use that icky word again?) is to set aside enough time each week to get one punky little post up for your reading pleasure. Feel free to cross your fingers, for this Irish Lass can use a little extra luck on her side!

Now to start us all off on the right foot I present to you the newest take on my pasta salad which was inspired by a trial subscription to a at home organic produce delivery system which I PROMISE to talk more about soon! For the time being, enjoy!

Yes, I did take this as a screen shot of fbook. The recipe is in my comment on the sidebar. Clicky to enlarge…it’s totally worth it! Baby steps people, baby steps.

Love to all,
~ the happy to be back blogging gal, Jess

Categories: Goal Goddess, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Rad n' Random | Tags: | Leave a comment

A Very Special 100th Birthday

In honor of America’s most famous chef, whom I spent many a Saturday morning with,  I’m happy to share this PBS remix of Julia Child’s best moments:

Bon Appétit, my loves!

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On | Leave a comment

Summertime, Summertime Salads

If you didn’t just read that title to the tune of Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey please go back and do it again. I’ll wait.

Lana is a new-ish obsession of mine, and I’m embracing her low-key (if sad) music, because it’s been the only relaxing or low-key part of my whole summer. Yup, Plan B is still in progress, full revel coming to you in about a month. So, I’ve been pretending I’m relaxing as I try to put my life into a box (which is very rejuvenating and low pressure, right? ha!) to the crooning tunes of Lana Del Rey. The only other things that feel summery to me are of course the heat (!!!), the Olympics and these beautiful salads.

Portofino Salad with Grilled Chicken, Shrimp, Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts

Grilled Salmon Salad with Mango, Grapes and Asparagus

Small Antipasto Salad with Grilled Vegetables

I can’t take credit for their creation, that was all Pomod0ro Cafe, but I can claim the accomplishment of the take down of two of them. Yes, two.

See, what had happened was: Mom & Dad got back from an overly indulgent vacation to Jamaica, and begged for requested that we have salads for dinner.  I LOVE Pomodoro’s Cafe and since I’ll have less opportunities to dine there soon, and they have wickedly good salads, and I always order the Salmon Salad, because it’s amazing, and, well it was a no brainier that we go there. (Was that enough comas for you?)

But when we arrived, the Portofino salad was on special and I just couldn’t turn down the power of Shrimp AND Goat Cheese AND Pine Nuts! So, I noshed on the insalata special and Mom had the Salmon. Dad of course had the Antipasto, and drowned it in balsamic and black pepper before I could get a picture.

Salads for dinner? Done and done..and oh so tasty, refreshing and perfect for a hot summer evening.

Oh, right…I did say I had TWO of the salads above. Now, while I am quite the little FattyFattyMooMoo I did not consume two entree salads in one night.  Nope, I still had that Salmon salad, with it’s savory grilled flavors, crisp asparagus and sweet mango, which all pairs perfectly with the house honey balsamic dressing on the brain after my summertime dinner out with the family, so I did what any crazed Florida Gal would do in the summer, I went two days later and ordered a Salmon Salad all for myself! Nom.

Have you been eating any summertime salads during this crazy heat wave we are calling summer vacation?

And now back to my scheduled blogging absence while Plan B finishes falling in place!

Love to all,
~ the summertime salad nosher gal herself, Jess

Categories: I'll Have What She's Having | Leave a comment

Summer B or Plan B

Living in a college town I’m always acutely aware of the semester schedules. It determines which road to travel on (don’t bother taking Univ Ave downtown during rush week), which bars to frequent (forget any place that offers “free cover for ladies until midnight”…it’s bound to be crawling with wasted undergrads) and which restaurants are worth the wait (no where during graduation when everyone has their family in town to celebrate).

And as a teacher who interns at the university biotechnology labs during most of Summer A for some spare pocket money (aka everything I live on during the July and August-most people don’t realize that teaching is a 10 month job….I am unpaid during the summer even though I’m on “vacation”) and to stay current on my science, it’s Summer B I look forward to travel or relax. Some of you may recall that last summer B I took “time off from blogging” while I was touring about Europe. This summer B I had planned to up my bike training, work on my swimming technique, be a stay at home yogi and just relax. Which of course meant plenty of time for blogging.

Well, life is funny…mine especially, because it seems the powers that be like to take my best laid plans and dump them upside down. Now this particular “dump job” happens to be wonderful one. A few of my goals, both professional and personal, will both be coming to fruition this summer (aka over a year earlier than planned). Which is fantastic news, no doubt…it just means that my Summer B will go from one of being relaxation and pure bliss, to making some major life changes.  Which also means I won’t have consistent time to be bonding with my blog and all you lovely friends of the interwebs. I’ll still be around a little bit and making some random posts when I can and I’m also considering reposing some of my favorites, for your summer reading pleasure!

If you feel like I’m being vague, it’s because I am! I can’t spoil the “surprise” that is Plan B until all the details are ironed out!

So, this is ta-ta for now….sorta. Enjoy your summer, lovelies!

Love to all,
~the gal in transition….aka embracing Plan B, Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Fitness Friday: Swimming Solo

While I might look totally chic in a swim cap…

…I’m quite the (unconfident) spaz in the water.

Now don’t misunderstand. I grew up in the water: the river, springs, beaches, family pools. I have strong “froggie” stroke that does the trick all damn day.

It also results in a “record” swim time of 400m in 17 minutes. Aka redonulously slow. Oh and please don’t ask me to put my face in the water and exhale like the rest of you crazy mermaids.

This summer I have vowed to hit the pool and perfect (or make a little better) my swimming skillz. And considering I haven’t been to the pool once since my turtle time in the Orlando Women’s Tri back in October, I was pretty apprehensive to get back in.  Last week however, Christine and I dragged each other to the pool…and since she is my swim instructor in addition to my best friend, it was only fitting that by the end of our trek I was high fiving her, because I could still swim a length of the pool with out having a panic attack. Hooray. (I know I’m being sarcastic, but I was really REALLY proud of myself.)

Buoyed by my recent success I once again hit up the pool on Monday. And yes, I know that the gym holds a speed swim clinic on Monday and Wednesday, but seeings how it doesn’t start until 6:30pm and I was arriving around 5pm it would be perfect right? Right. Except the clinic ends at 6:30pm…because it starts at 4:30pm! And they have to already share the pool with a water aerobics class.

I was literally retreating back to the locker room when Ed, the instructor, came over and introduced himself. I explained my scheduling error (more like memory error) and that I was a beginner, blah, blah. Even though he ensured me I wouldn’t be in the way, as he guided me over to an lane I could share I really felt like I should be hearing “Welcome to Swim Club. The first rule of swim club is….” since I was not only the singular novice present, I was also the only female.

I did ok at first, having a lane to myself (our pool has “double lanes”…so two swimmers fit in each lane without interfering with each other) working on my stroke and longing for more endurance, so I don’t have to stop for a 10 second breather after each lap. But after a mere 125 yards Ed was asking me to move lanes, to circle with 2 older gentlemen, as more elite men had arrived.

After shyly asking the guidelines for circling (I understood the gist from listening to other swimmers, but had never had to myself) I set off once again. I started pushing myself pretty hard, trying to keep pace with my lane mates. Let’s just say that while it was a good idea, I became fatigued very quickly, resulting in a ragged stroke and my confidence lying at the bottom of the pool. I bailed after another 100 yards.

So, when I hit the pool next, I’ll double check the speed clinic schedule because while I’m ready to master the freestyle and get in and out of the water at my next tri in less than 17 minutes, I won’t be joining Swim Club anytime soon.

Love to all,
~the little guppy gal, Jess

Like what you just read? It’s a sample of my newest series Fitness Friday where I’ll blather on about my attempts at being fit. Yay.

Categories: Get It Girl | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

It’s the Breakfast Club, Baby…and I’m a bit biscuit biased

Ok, not that Breakfast Club. (although really, who doesn’t love the classic 80’s teen-angst classic? I adore it! And yes, I’m an 80’s baby…so sue me!)

MY Breakfast Club. Oh breakfast baby, you and I really are quite bonded. No don’t argue with me. We ARE.

I sacrifice an extra 20 minutes every morning to make a hot breakfast of either scrambled eggs, or waffles or oatmeal every morning. (uh, yeah, that means I get up at 4:45am on a work day. ugh….I do love you bfast)

Oh and sometimes I make really awesome sandwiches to break my fast.

Oh yes baby, now that is what I’ll call breakfast.

Role call: Homemade biscuit (admittedly not by me. I’m not much of a baker. Yet.), raspberry jam, over easy (legit local) fried egg, salami.

Woah. Now that is what I call a good morning. Even if I had to consume it before the sun came up.

But here is a breakfast that you will all want to take note of. No, I did not make it. But you guessed it, there will be more biscuits present.

And since that lovely pile of food (“lovely pile of food”??? Dear God, Jess you need better adjectives. Someone get this gal a new thesaurus STAT!) was prepared for me by the gifted chefs at The Flying Biscuit Cafe on my day off, not only did I not have to cook, I got to eat in daylight. Double win, right?

Well, honestly eating this meal anytime of the day would be winning in my book. As you see the classic Flying Biscuit Breakfast consists of 2 eggs any style (I had mine over easy), the “signature” chicken breakfast sausage, creamy dreamy grits and of course, a massive biscuit!

Now, usually for breakfast I’m a protein gal; I love me some sausage and eggs…but when I go to the Flying Biscuit it’s all carbs, all the time. I downed the grits (and as a GRITS gal myself I can vouch that they are truly both creamy AND dreamy. I’m thinking cream cheese? Well and whipping cream, of course), literally licked bowl and made a decent dent in that beast of a biscuit. Oh and don’t think for a second that I truly neglected the eggs or sausage either, second priorities are still a priority after all.  I also snitched a bite (or three) of my Mom’s scramble of the day which was studded with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese.

And the moral of this story? I like breakfast. A lot. And biscuits. Thank you.

Love to all,
~the biscuit biased gal, Jess

Categories: Break Yo Fast, I'll Have What She's Having | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Killing Three Birds with One Pot

My loves, my darlings, my friends. Welcome to Summer.

It’s hot and steamy down here in NorCenFLA post Memorial Day and after a week of no A/C in the classroom at my school of employment (hello 87 degrees inside and 95 outside= no relief anywhere!) it’s truly a miracle that no teenagers were injured in the production of this post.

Hot summer weather makes me crave two things: tubing down the river/springs and cold pasta salad.

This pasta salad to be specific:

The beautiful pasta bounty above was my brain child last summer when a gaggle of friends came up to spend a weekend in the “woods” and exploring Ginnie Springs and it’s been my go-to “picnic” food since.

So, when the craving for cold, crisp feta and veggie loaded orzo hit, it hit hard.

I rushed to the pantry: yes, orzo I had…but NO black olives. Well, it still might be ok. To the fridge: used up all the peppers in my breakfast scramble, oh and that’s where the feta went too. Pasta salad fail.

Ok, no worries. I’ll just make tuna salad. It’s cool and refreshing. But while rooting around in the pantry (for a second time now) I stumbled across a hidden box of Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar. Oh dear.

Now I wanted tuna, mac n cheese AND my pasta salad. Oh dear, indeed.

So, I did what any rational gal would. I made all three. Sorta. Behold my newest mess:

Tuna Mac (with Veggies) Salad

As you probably guessed, this wasn’t a plotted out meal. I grabbed what components of the three items I was craving that my kitchen had on hand and mixed ’em together.

Some times killing three cravings, by throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and calling it lunch, just works. If you need to take out three random cravings, like a sharp-shooter, here is my suggestion:

Tuna Mac (with veggies) Salad
serves 4

1 box Annie’s Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar , pasta boiled according to package & drained, cheese mix reserved
1/2 cup greek yogurt, such as Cabot Greek 2%
2 cans tuna in water, drained
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup (~3 stalks) celery, sliced
1 heaping tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
black pepper and celery salt to taste
1. After cooking the pasta according to the package, return the drained noddles to the cooking pot. Add the yogurt and cheese mix, plus black pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. (add more yogurt according to your level of “gooey preference”)
2. Mix in tuna, chopped vegetables, and Grey Poupon.
3. Season to taste with celery salt and more black pepper if desired.
4. Serve warm, or chill 2-3 hours. (Great either way!)
5. Garnish with basil if you, like me, have out of control basil plants and are thus adding the herb toeverything.

Now that is what I call a satisfying summer salad. And I didn’t even have to go to the store to make it. Double win, three cravings DONE FOR.

Love to all,
~the cravings killer gal, Jess

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Green Goddess Chickpea Burgers

It’s (nearly) summer-time and in this gal’s book that means it’s time to release my inner goddess.

Maybe it’s naturally getting 8 hours of sleep. Maybe it’s all the fresh market veggies. Maybe it’s all the swim time and yoga on the beach. Maybe it’s hiking around beautiful European cities. (although sadly I won’t be doing THAT this summer) Maybe it’s just that I sweat my brains out here in the hot-hot-hot land of NorCenFla, but by the end of the summer I will be sporting a golden glow and feeling sexily slim(er).  Life is good in the summertime for this gal. Goddess-like in fact.

If you are ready to get a jump start on releasing your inner goddess (or god, I’m totally pro sexy summer gods, gentlemen!) here is a veggie burger so loaded with bright, summery flavors that it will be come your go-to summertime snack.

Um, yes. I promise under the mound of spouts, tomatoes, onions and dill-lemon-yogurt dressing there is a green goddess burger underneath.  Just like my inner goddess is hanging out under a layer of pale, I-eat-when-I’m-stressed teacher flesh at the moment. (Wow if that wasn’t an appetizing description I don’t know what is. Aren’t you glad you spend such quality time with this gal and all her eloquence?)

And just like the beauty of summer, these burgers come together in a casual, laid-back (but quick) kind of way.

Ok, fine. You will get your food processor dirty. But just throw it in the dishwasher when you are done. See, easy. Laid-back.

Just a whir-whir of the pool-side fan blades, a quick slap into patties and little browning by the pool in the pan and you will be one bite closer to revealing your inner green goddess.


So pretty on their own. So ready to be loaded up with more veggie friends, drizzled in yogurt, dill and lemon sauce. (or on a bun. Or topped with an over easy egg….I did that one for breakfast the other day, SO good). Just like you and me. Great as is, but so wonderful come summer when the inner goddess is released.

Green Goddess Chickpea Burgers
inspired by Rachel Ray’s Groovy Garbanzo Burgers

Makes 5 burgers

  • 2 15oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, leaves and stems, rough chopped
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and rough chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. If the mixture is dry add more oil or water. Form into palm sized patties and brown in a non-stick skillet or oiled pan. Top anyway you want! Yum.

Love to all,
~the “yes, you know my inner goddess is cilantro green and slightly spicy” gal,  Jess

Categories: Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Lameo Excuses and Broccoli Bowtie Pasta

I’ve been a touch absent on the ol’ blog-ski as of late.

I could give you all the excuses:

I spend over 30 hours with these children last weekend between the school day Friday and Relay for Life (which is an 18 hour overnight fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.)

I followed up the Relay festivities on Mother’s Day by cooking paella for the first time for my lovely Mummy. (More to come on that soon….ish.)

I’ve been writing my silly little heart out over on the Llamadorks Tumblr, mostly about my newest obsession: Carly Rae Jepsen.

But in lieu of all these lame excuses let me offer you some salad.

A tasty, refreshing and down right irresistible pasta salad that will no doubt be my go-to for the summer.  It’s tangy, sweet, salty and I’ve been (literally) eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I can’t actually take credit for the recipe though. It’s a Southern Living creation I found floating around

I did make some (very delicious) tweaks to it though, which I’m sharing here in italics.

Broccoli Bowtie Pasta Salad with Grapes and Bacon
Adapted from Southern Living

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta (I used a full pound, whoops!)
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I used half mayo, half 2% Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
  1.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems. (This is also when I cooked my bacon and halved grapes)
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, grapes, bacon and pecans. (The recipe said to chill for three hours, but I enjoy warm pasta salad so I dove in right away.)

Since I used a whole pound of  pasta this recipe made a ton of salad, so if you don’t want to be eating off it all week (which obviously doesn’t bother this gal!) I suggest following the original recipe and only use 8oz of dried pasta.

Love to all,
~the filled with lame excuses and lots of pasta salad gal, Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Perks of Being an Only…oh and I made Waffles

I’m an only child.

And while my besties were discussing the other day how they never see me as an only, because I don’t “act like an only child” (ps. still not quite sure what that means….I’m the only only I know) I do indulge in the perks that come from being an only child.

See, my philosophy is, as long as I’m not a brat, I can totally be spoiled.

And friends, I guess I’m not too bratty, because I am so spoiled.

My Mom is the biggest culprit, for sure….but she learned it from the big guns. That’s right. My Pop.

 (Oh yeah. Gra spoils me a lot too. PS. Aren’t they cute? He is 6’1 and she is 5’0!)

Every birthday and Christmas they get me a new kitchen appliance. Seriously, 97% of the stuff in my kitchen came from them. Microwave (which I’ve had since I was a freshman in college-I was the only gal in the dorms with a full size microwave. Pop said “I wanted you to be able to cook a whole casserole.” I can. And I still do!), blender, knives, mandolin, rice cooker, amazing Le Creuset Dutch oven….you get the point.

Honestly, my kitchen needs are getting pretty slim.

But after this newest kitchen gift for my 26th birthday that list is the only thing that is going to stay slim around these parts.

Yep. They got me a waffle maker. (Ok, time to come clean- they “got” me the exact make, brand and model of waffle maker that I requested and Mom proceeded to go order on their behalf from Amazon. Oh what? You want one too? here.)

So, I made waffles.

Pretty, yes? More like pretty dang easy.

I’m not going to fake like I have an actual recipe for ya’ll today. This was my first time making waffles and I didn’t want things to get too complicated.

I used this mix.

But because you guys know me, and I can’t just “let things be” I had to add some blueberries on top of the batter before closing the lid of the maker and giving it an oh so satisfying flip-er-roo. Two minutes later my waffle was done and ready to be halved (Mum came down for the inaugural waffle making) topped with more blueberries, strawberries and then drizzled with lemon curd.

Oh my word. So good. Especially along side scrambled eggs with feta and seared Genoa salami (which tastes like bacon on crack, fyi. Mind. Blown.) plus coffee and Bloody Mary’s thanks to Mum. Now that is what I call breakfast, my babyloves.

It’s like my birthday will never end now. Anytime I want to celebrate I’ll just go make waffles. Happy Yum-day to me! Oh, and if you want to celebrate with me, I’ll share my waffles…even if I’m an only!

Love to all,
~the oh so spoiled, but not a brat, waffle eating, only child herself, Jess

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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