Monthly Archives: January 2011

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

One of my favorite salad toppings, believe it or not, is chickpeas.  I love them.  So when I came across this recipe, I just had to try it.  Eat these toasted chickpeas in a salad, in soup, or munch by the handful.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas


1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 TB. vegetable oil

Ground cumin

Ground coriander

Ground ginger

Ground hot paprika

Kosher salt


*These are the spices I used.  I almost never measure when using spices…I just toss them in according to flavors.  But if you’re one of those that must have a measurement, add 1/4 teaspoon of all to get a good mix of flavor.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss chickpeas with oil and spices (except parsley) until evenly coated.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until chickpeas are golden and crunchy, about 30 minutes.  Shake the pan occasionally to allow for even cooking.  Let cool completely.  Sprinkle with parsley when plated.

These can be stored for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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The Impressionist Book Review

The Impressionist

For the first fifteen years of his life, Pran Nath Razdan enjoyed a life of luxury.  Living just down the river from the Taj Mahal and being worshipped as one of the most beautiful boys in India, he was able to do pretty much anything he wanted.  That was, of course, until word began to spread about his true parentage…namely his father…his common, low-life English father.  Suddenly the life he had known is taken from him as this “result of a one night stand” is cast out onto the street to fend for himself.

Thus begins Hari Kunzru’s first novel, The Impressionist.  Written episodically, this narrative is the ultimate “coming of age” story.  As Pran makes his journey of self-discovery, he ironically begins taking on other identities…becoming other people, in his effort to find who he truly is.  Each section of this book is divided into the various personas, which Pran inhabits throughout his journey.

Although I loved the idea of The Impressionist, I felt the novel as a whole to be too ambitious.  So many strong themes accompany this journey of self-discovery (class, race, colonialism, sex, belonging, and politics) that I often felt lost myself…just as confused about Pran’s story as he was.  However, even though I had trouble connecting with the plot of The Impressionist, I do have to say that the writing is exquisite.  Kunzru’s imaginative style adds so much to Pran’s story…and I feel it would have done more when it wasn’t weighed down with so much extra information.

NEXT WEEK: We all know that saying:  “Less is more.”  Next week, I’ll have you shaking in your boots in 30 seconds or less…

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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7 Clever Uses for Tic Tac Boxes

Don’t toss those tic tac containers!  They can be used for TONS of things around your house when you’re done with “your favorite 1-calorie breath mints.”

1.  Tic tac boxes work wonders for crafters.  Use them to hold small beads, safety pins, glitter, etc.

2.  On the same note, these are great for baking, as well.  Use them to hold different kinds of sprinkles.  You could also use them as spice containers.  They have an easy pour spout and they are great for those of us with very limited storage space in our kitchen.

3.  Just like these are great for crafters, they’re also great for those people who work outside in the garage.  Store nails, screws, and small pieces in these nifty boxes.

4.  Use them to organize your fishing equipment.

5.  Fill various containers with colored sand and arrange on a ledge for a unique art piece…or fill with sand, tape/glue shut and give to kids to use as building blocks.

6.  Organize earrings, rings, buttons, necklaces, and pins…or use containers to easily pack jewelry and money when you are traveling.

7.  Make a 3-D greeting for a friend by turning it into a mini snowglobe or Valentine’s Day card.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.


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Contigo Kangeroo Water Bottle Review

I saw this water bottle reviewed in the Chicago Tribune this past weekend and I thought I would pass it along…since summer (slowly) is coming and people are always looking for easy travel tips and ideas (or even a more convenient way to hold keys, identification, etc. while at the gym).

 The Contigo Kangaroo water bottle is a 24-oz plastic water bottle with a hard plastic pouch for holding identification, money, credit cards, keys, etc.  This ultimate travel companion comes in your choice of colors:  blue, purple, charcoal, fuchsia, and turquoise (my favorite!).

You can find more information about the Kangaroo bottle at  The Contigo Kangaroo water bottle sells for $12.99.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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Chicken Jicama Salad

Need a little spice to start your week off right?  Here’s a salad that’s heavy on flavor and light on calories.

Chicken Jicama Salad


1-2 boneless chicken breasts, thawed and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

Chicken Taco mix


1 15 oz can of black beans

1 medium sized jicama, peeled and sliced into straws

1.  Dice your chicken into 1-2″ cubes and cook in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink.  Add the taco mix and 1 cup water to the chicken.  Turn the heat down to low and let simmer about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

2.  Drain black beans and rinse off under cold water.

3.  Assemble lettuce on a large plate, sprinkle with black beans, jicama, and finally the chicken.  You could also turn this into a lettuce wrap as well.

*Jicama might look scary when you buy it, but it’s really one of the most delicious veggies on the market.  It’s light, refreshing, crisp, and sweet.  It makes a great salad addition and works well with spicy food.  Simply peel with a knife or a potato peeler and cut into long strips.  Store cut jicama in the fridge.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 


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The Secret Life of Lobsters Book Review

I can confidently say that, before reading Trevor Corson’s The Secret Life of Lobsters, the only thing I knew about this deep dweller was that it was delicious with butter.  Like most ignorant seafood lovers, I had no idea what “lobster life” was all about, nor what has been done—and what continues to be done—by both lobstermen and scientists alike to ensure “our favorite crustacean” continues to satisfy our palates for eons to come.

Just south of Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park sits Little Cranberry Island (how cute of a name is that!), a tiny community with one major passion:  lobsters.  In an unlikely scenario, lobster fishermen and marine scientists are coming together to pool their knowledge about lobster fishing and breeding.  With strict fishing rules and on-site studies being done by several lobster-loving scientists, the people of Little Cranberry Island are getting a much better grasp of life underwater and, more importantly, what can be done to protect this coast from over-fishing.

Trevor Corson is our liaison to the lobster world, taking us everywhere from the secluded labs where lobster experiments are being preformed to the several lobster boats where action of all sorts is taking place.  Through is witty writing and often humorous descriptions, Corson takes us deep into lobster life…discussing their very unique mating rituals, the benefits and pitfalls to molting the shell, and the territorial warfare that leaves some blind, defenseless, or worse…

Ironically a lot of the action in this book does not happen under the boat, but inside it.  It takes a special person to dedicate so much time to fishing for lobsters, and Corson does a great job painting a picture of what one might expect while taking in the locals on Little Cranberry.  In this sense, The Secret Life of Lobsters might remind one of The Discovery Channel’s series, Deadliest Catch.  Each job has a player and all the players together put on quite a marine show.

The Secret Life of Lobsters is the tell-all book for anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating industry.  While you probably won’t want to hop a plane and spend a summer on a lobster boat, you might find yourself ordering a better meal next time you go out for seafood…or finding a new appreciation for those men and women behind the scenes who dedicate their lives to these deep sea dwellers.

NEXT WEEK:  For Pran Nath Kunzru, it takes more than a place to feel a sense of belonging…it takes a whole new identity.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Lobster Cupcakes

Whether you’re going to a clam bake, a beach party, or having a going away party for some Maine-bound friends, there’s no denying that these little lobster cupcakes would be a great addition to your menu.

Lobster Cupcakes!

Making these is much easier than you may think.  Here’s what you need (Makes 12 Lobster Cupcakes):

12 cupcakes, frosted

1 1/2 cups candy chocolate (red) You can find these at Michael’s

Wax paper

Jelly roll pan

Heavy duty freezer bag


Lobster Pattern (lobster cupcakes)

1.  Lay the lobster pattern on the jelly roll pan.  Cover with wax paper.  To make it easier, you could tape the wax paper to the pan to see the pattern more clearly.

2.  Place the red chocolate in the heavy duty freezer bag and microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.  Snip a tiny corner off the bag and trace the patterns of the lobsters on the wax paper with the melted chocolate.  Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Chocolate Lobsters

3.  Once dry, simply peel the wax paper off and stick your lobsters into your frosted cupcakes!

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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6 of the Best Lobster Restaurants in the US

I know today is supposed to be a creative day; however, my lobster craft didn’t quite work out for me yesterday…so I’m going to try it again tonight and hopefully will have something for you tomorrow.

In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to look at the coolest restaurants where you can dine on this delicious dweller of the deep:

Dine Under Water!

Topping the list is the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant in Maldives.  Set 16 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean, Ithaa gives diners a million dollar view of life in the ocean.  Enjoy a lobster salad or their signature dish:  “Crab tower with thin ciabatta and truffle mayonnaise and Maldivian banana and chili mascarpone with cream with crushed basil”.

Five Islands Lobster Co.

The Five Islands Lobster Company is a little closer to home for most.  Set in Georgetown, Maine, this cozy restaurant has served lobster to millions of people.  There is no inside dining, so be prepared to eat outside and enjoy the beautiful view of the coast.  My parents went to Five Islands a few years ago and thought it was fantastic.  One thing to keep in mind, these lobster diners have been eating this “sea bug” for years…and it shows.  Watching locals tear into their dinner might be even more entertaining to watch…

Union Oyster House

The Union Oyster House, located in Boston, is America’s oldest restaurant…possibly serving the likes of America’s Founding Fathers.  While this cozy little establishment is known for their oysters, you can also get lobster here…fresh from the coast.  My parents visited this location as well and, while neither are fans of oysters, they said the rest of the food was delicious.

Morse’s Lobster Shack

If you’re looking for delicious lobster on the cheap, head out to Morse’s Lobster Shack in Maine.  It’s a bit of a dive, but the locals are CRAZY about it.  Universal recommendation:  try the lobster rolls.

Pie and Lobster? YES PLEASE!

I have to say that Waterman Beach Lobster is THE place to go if you’re looking for delicious fresh lobster in the US.  Winner of the prestigious James Beard Restaurant Award, this local hub serves some of the best lobsters (and pies!) Maine has to offer.  I couldn’t resist showing you this picture of some of their famous plates…hungry yet?


Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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My Life in France Book Review

When Julia Child stepped foot in France for the first time in 1948, it was love at first bite.  She fell head over heals for the people, the little nuances of her and Paul’s tiny apartment, and the food…oh the food!  It only took one meal for Julia to realize her calling.

My Life in France is a delicious memoir by Julia Child and her grandnephew, Alex Prud’homme.  In this last year of her life, Julia recounts “…some of the things I have loved most…Paul…France…and the many pleasures of cooking and eating.”  This is not 1940’s Paris…this is Julia’s Paris.  This is Paris through the eyes of the lover.  In Julia’s eyes, Paris could do no wrong and the view she gives us of this charming city is enough to satisfy anyone’s palate.

The tone and style of My Life in France is pure Julia.  As you devour each page, you could hear her unique voice uttering such “Julia-isms” as “ta-da!” and “phooey!”  Her love for everything culinary is so apparent and the joy she feels from cooking literally jumps off the page.

It’s quite clear throughout My Life in France that one of the main reasons Julia is so passionate about Paris is because her dear husband, Paul, is there with her every step of the way.  Her “Guinea Pig”, as she affectionately called him, sampled all her dishes, took all her photographs (which you can see scattered throughout the book), and even risked his job and reputation to help Julia succeed.

Besides covering her six year love affair with Paris, My Life in France also covers Julia’s schooling (or lack thereof) at the infamous Cordon Bleu, the start of her own cooking school, Les Trois Gourmandes, the production and eventual release of her well-known book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the launch of her popular TV series, The French Chef, and concluding with Paul’s illness and their eventual departure from their “spiritual home” in Paris.

My Life in France is everything a Julia fan could hope for.  Her exuberance for food and enjoyment is enough to get anyone excited about cooking and her dedication to providing the best recipes she could is proof of how passionate this larger-than-life woman was in educating, teaching, and cooking.

NEXT WEEK: It’s Lobster Week!  Prepare for a week full of everything and anything lobster related.  Why?  Why not!

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.


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10 Clever Uses for Bobby Pins

Whenever I’m cleaning my apartment, I never fail to stumble upon 5-10 bobby pins.  Even when my hair was too short to use them, I would still find them in my laundry, in pockets, under the couch, etc.

While I don’t have as many bobby pins as, say, Marilyn Munster (remember that scene where she loads a cannon with an obscene amount of bobby pins?), I am pretty well stocked…which got me thinking…what else can I do with these little dust bunnies of the hair world?

  1. Bobby pins are great for keeping hair out of your face, but they’re also awesome when it comes to keeping your clothing in line.  Use them to secure ties to your shirt or to quickly hem the bottom of your pants.  They can also be used to help zip a broken zipper or to secure a scarf around your neck.
  2. Going on vacation?  Bobby pins are a great tool to clip money to the inside of your clothing.
  3. Hide your cable and phone wires by using the bobby pin to secure the wire to the wall.  Thread the wire through the end of the bobby pin and push the pin under the baseboard.
  4. In a pinch a bobby pin can act as a lock pick or a screwdriver.  Keep some handy in your car/motorcycle just in case.
  5. Christmas lights will bother you no more when you use bobby pins to secure the strand to the tree.  Embellish the bobby pin with beads or flowers to add some décor to the tree.
  6. On that note, embellished bobby pins can be used to add color to almost anything!  Shirts, shoes, tablecloths, napkins, papers, purses…the possibilities are endless!  If you’re handy with embellishments and a glue gun, decorate some bobby pins and give them away as gifts.
  7. Thread bobby pins on a string to create an Egyptian necklace for your next Cleopatra costume (
  8. Bobby pins can also be used as a chip bag clasp, a bookmark, a paperclip, or as a scrapbook embellishment.
  9. Use bobby pins to keep the straps of your dress from falling down.  Pin your bra straps and the dress straps together on the back of your dress.
  10. Wanna hang something from your ceiling?  If you have pop out ceiling tiles, you can use bobby pins to hang light weight décor.  Use string to tie the object to the bobby pin and then slip the bobby pin under the tile.  Here’s what I did in my office cube:

The butterflies are tied to bobby pins…which I stuck under the ceiling tiles

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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