Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kitchen Adevntures: Boyfriend Pizza

One of the true joys of sharing your life with someone is having help around the house -- especially in the kitchen. Cooking is always more fun when other people are involved and anyone who has a good recipe to share is more than welcome in my kitchen!

My boyfriend is part Italian and being a New Yorker he also loves good pizza. We don't have a sophisticated enough kitchen to make an authentic pie at home, but he shared a family recipe with me that puts all the goodness of the pizza you love right on top of an English muffin! It's now a house favorite.


2 6-packs of Thomas' English muffins
2 lbs mozzarella cheese
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 large can (28 oz) tomato purée
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon red cooking wine
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (for the sauce mixture) then more to sprinkle on top
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast English muffins on a greased baking tray for 15 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges. 

  • Mix together tomatoes, spices, cooking wine, sugar and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl to make the sauce.
  • Slice the mozzarella so you have at least one slice the size of each muffin half (If you make smaller slices, you can overlap them). 

  • To assemble the pizzas, spoon 1/4 cup of sauce onto each muffin half. Cover each muffin half with mozzarella. Then coat with a second layer of sauce and sprinkle more oregano and Parmesan cheese on top. 

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, a little longer if you like your pizza crispier.

This recipe is an easy one to do with kids. It also makes a fantastic starter at an informal party or barbecue. And because the English muffins get nice and crispy in the cooking process, these also reheat well in the microwave. The recipe makes way too much for two people, so I always look forward to leftovers for lunch the next day!

Now since the boyfriend did all the hard work cooking, I get to clean-up. I'll take that deal any day of the week!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back In Training: Finding Balance

I had written earlier this spring about needing to get back in shape after a long absence from the good routine I had established a couple of years ago. With everything going on in my life the last few months, I hadn't made much progress. I needed a challenge to get me back in the game.

Luckily I work for a company that is very committed to the health and overall well-being of its employees. So when I read about a company wide six week wellness challenge I seized the opportunity to get back in the game and -- more importantly get back in BALANCE.

Each week of the challenge matches up two different sets of behaviors -- one is healthy and the other one isn't. You earn points for positive things and lose points for the negative. The goal is to have a positive balance at the end of the day. It's not about eliminating EVERYTHING that's not so great for you. We're all human beings and we're not perfect. The goal is making positive choices about good behaviors to offset the impact of less desirable ones. The most important part is YOU get to choose your behavior. There is no prescribed plan to follow or set of steps someone else has laid out for you. It requires you to THINK about the choices you're making and not mindlessly follow a plan someone else told you would work.

Week one started today and balances TV minutes with exercise minutes. You earn one point for every minute of exercise and deduct one point for every minute spent watching TV.

Hello, old friend...

I set a personal goal of 50 points per day, so this week I'm trying to get 60 minutes of exercise and virtually eliminate my TV viewing other than a few minutes of news. If I did want to watch some TV one day this week -- say, tune in to Big Brother with my boyfriend -- I would have to get an extra hour of exercise to compensate in order to reach my goal. Or I could just decide the show isn't worth an extra hour in the gym!

I got off to a solid start today with 35 minutes on the elliptical and another 15 minutes of circuit weight training, plus NO TV! So I met my 50 point goal for today. One day down, six more to go!

There is a different challenge each week to keep things interesting. Some of the challenges are focused on exercise and some involve healthier eating habits.

I have a lot of choices in front of me, but I'm confident each one will get me more balanced -- and healthier -- along the way.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dermatology For Dummies: In Treatment

If you've been following my blog you know that I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma back in early May. When I last wrote about my encounter with skin cancer, my doctor had done a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and explained I had two treatment options -- cut out the affected area or use a topical treatment to erase the cancerous cells. At that point, I was waiting for the biopsy site to heal so we could make a final decision on a treatment plan.

I went back in early June and the doctor pronounced my lesion a good candidate for a topical cream treatment called Zyclara. So off to the pharmacy I went with hope that one application daily for 30 days would get the job done.

The good news with this treatment is that I could swim, sweat and do everything else I normally could. If it erased the basal cells, it would still leave a small amount of scarring but much less than I would have with surgical removal.

Here's what my lesion looked like when I started the treatment. This is typical basal cell carcinoma -- uneven shape, bumpy, inconsistent coloring, etc. If you ever see something like this on YOUR skin, get to a doctor ASAP.

This is the same spot after 30 days of treatment with Zyclara. The blistering and scabbing is normal and means the medicine is working. It itched a little but nothing I couldn't handle. At this stage, my doctor inspected the area and couldn't see any signs of the basal cells, so we stopped the treatment to give the scab time to heal and fall off.

This is what the area looked like when I had my last follow up with the doctor this past Friday. The pinkness will fade with time but the important part? NO MORE BASAL CELLS!

I'm far from done in the skin care department, because now that I've had a basal cell carcinoma I'll always be at risk for another. Since my diagnosis, sunscreen is a part of my daily routine, I wear hats and long sleeves to protect my skin if I'll be out in the sun for a while and I don't put the top on my convertible down much these days. I'll be back at the doctor in November for a six month upper body check and every April for the rest of my life I'll have a full body screen. If anything else does pop up, we'll know exactly how to handle it.

With any luck, I'll be getting those screenings for a very long time.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


"Lately it occurs to me: What a long, strange trip it's been." - Truckin' by The Grateful Dead

My 2012 has been far from what I'd call "stable," but up until June I had a nice routine going in my life. I had my work, I had my hockey, I had love and happiness. Then at the end of May, it's almost as if the volume on EVERYTHING in my life got turned up a thousand decibels -- and suddenly nothing about my carefully managed routines worked any more.

So what happened in June?

My beloved Los Angeles Kings defied logic and stunned critics by winning their first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history. I was there screaming and cheering and crying in the 11th row of Section 116 for every moment -- and the experience changed my life.

My work got incredibly busy with the kickoff of a project that will consume the next year and a half of my work life. The reality of needing to have a suitcase constantly packed became slightly daunting.

And then came the biggest change in my life in a very long time -- my long distance love came to LA and undid my world in the best possible way. I was the happiest I'd been in a very long time -- and completely unsettled at the same time.

Suddenly there were two people, two schedules and two sets of priorities in the space only I used to occupy. At first, I thought the best way to handle it would be to just power through and get everything settled as soon as possible -- move around the furniture, reorganize the closets and drawers, unpack the boxes. Once all that was "done" everything would be normal again.

Well, that didn't work.

That's because merging your life with someone you love is about much more than finding space in closets and drawers. It's about finding space in your heart and your mind. And if you fully embrace that idea, you soon realize that what looked like "normal" before doesn't work any more. "Normal" becomes something completely new -- and even better than your "old" life.

I realized I had to spend some time experiencing my "new" life in order to figure out how to make it work. So I took some time to step away from the laptop and just live.


What I learned about my "new life" is that very different things are important to me now. New ideas and interests motivate me. There are different ways I want to spend my time. Above all, I think less about "me" and more about "us." Because being part of "us" has changed my life for the better and I'm grateful for every moment of my new life.

Now back to blogging....