Healthy Sesame Chicken

Surprise! I took a short (unintentional) blogging vacation! I’ve been busy, and wasn’t feeling very inspired to write. But I’m back now, and hope to post more regular updates this week! Today I’m sharing a recipe I recently made that was SUPER delicious. It’s one of several I’ve made in the last few weeks that I originally found on The Way To His Heart blog. So for today enjoy Healthy Sesame Chicken!


Healthy Sesame Chicken

From: The Way To His Heart


1/2 cup unbleached flour or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into medium sized pieces

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, use less if you have a sensitivity to salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp dark sesame oil

2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 cup chopped fresh scallions (both green and white)


In a gallon-size plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Add chicken, seal bag, and shake well to coat.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and warm over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minute, or until no longer pink. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Combine soy sauce and sugar in skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes max. Add oil and sesame seeds. Add chicken and scallion. Toss and serve immediately.


I didn’t have any scallion so I used white onion instead.


This recipe was pretty easy to make and the chicken had a lot of flavor. I added a store bought spring roll to this dish and ended up eating way more than I should have. It also re-heated great the next day as leftovers!


My Summer TBR list–How did I do?

A few weeks ago I posted my fall “to-be-read” list, and I thought it’d be good to take a step back and see how many books I read from the summer TBR list. Goal setting is an important part of life–it helps us accomplish the things we want to do. Correspondingly, so is taking some time to reflect back on those goals. Only through this process of goal setting and reflecting can we continue to improve. I’ve posted some of my initial thoughts on the books I read below, and the full review will be posted at a later date. So here it is in all its glory…a look back at the books on my summer TBR list. How did I do?

Books From My Summer TBR List:

  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This classic novel had been on my to-read list for YEARS. It was really exciting to finally read it and be able to mark it off the list. I also really loved it. Usually, when a novel is hyped as much as this one it tends to disappoint me. Not the case with GG. 5/5 stars.

 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I finished this one, but man was it a struggle! The writing was excellent (and the translation I read was good), but the narrative was so gloomy that I just wasn’t always very motivated to pick it up. 3/5 stars.

  Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This was one of the best biographies I’ve read in years. 5/5 stars.

The Alchemy of Air by Thomas Hager

I started this book the day before I made my fall TBR list, so technically I read it during “summer” but I didn’t actually finish it. As of today I am about 50 pages from finishing it, and I have really enjoyed reading it.

X  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I didn’t quite make it to this one, but it is on my Fall TBR list.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I still really want to read this, but I’ll have to push it a little further down on the TBR pile for now.

X  The Help by Kathryn Stockett

See Previous.

X  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

This book has been added to my fall TBR list.

X  The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

This one is still definitely on my to-read pile…but like some of the others on this list it has been pushed a little farther down in priority.

 Bossypants by Tina Fey

LOVED this book. I had the audiobook version (which was read by Tina herself) and I finished it in one day. No joke. 4/5 stars.


So…I read 4/10 books from the list. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in mathematics to know that isn’t a good statistic. There are several reasons I didn’t get to the whole list. First, besides being a perpetually busy graduate student, I also got stuck on Crime and Punishment for over a month…so that kind of derailed my progress a bit. Also, I ended up reading other things that weren’t on the list. I don’t think these diversions are a bad thing…they just happened to be what struck my fancy at the time. And besides, reading is reading right? Here is a peak at what I was reading instead of things that were on my TBR list.

Books I Read That Were NOT On My Summer TBR List:

The Healing by Jonathan Odell

This was a really great book. I’ll post a review soon! 4/5 stars.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Believe the hype folks…this book is really good. I’ll admit that I did start to get a teensy bit annoyed with it right before part 2, but it picked right back up and I was hooked again. 4/5 stars.

White Truffles in Winter by N. M. Kelby

This novel is the fictionalized life of the great French chef Auguste Escoffier. I really liked the premise of this book, and it frequently made me really hungry. However, it was kind of a slow read for me…and perhaps a bit too long. 3/5 stars.


Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Browned Butter Lemon Spaghetti

Lately I’ve been in sort of a food rut. I also work a lot of hours, and don’t always have time to cook a really elaborate meal. This recipe was the perfect solution to my food blues–it’s easy, fast, and super delicious. So without further ado…


Browned Butter Lemon Spaghetti

From: The Way To His Heart


1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp lemon zest

2 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs

2 Tbsp lemon juice

8 oz spaghetti, uncooked

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 oz fresh, finely grated Romano cheese

8 basil leaves, chopped


Cook pasta according to directions.

Brown butter in a small sauce pan and set aside. Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and lemon zest and saute until lightly golden. Add breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour the breadcrumb mixture into the browned butter and add the lemon juice. Whisk the mixture until well combined.

Once pasta has cooked, drain and return to the pot. Pour the browned butter mixture over the pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add Romano cheese and basil and toss to evenly coat.


I didn’t have any Romano cheese on hand, but I thought this was still super delicious without it!

Book Review: Doctor Faustus

“Hell is just a frame of mind.” –Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Title: Doctor Faustus
Author: Christopher Marlowe
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Signet Classics
Publication Date: February 1, 2001
Source: My local public library


Faustus, a brilliant scholar, sells his soul to the devil in exchange for limitless knowledge and powerful black magic, yet remains unfulfilled. He considers repenting, but remains too proud to ask God for forgiveness. His indecision ultimately seals his fate.

Faustus’ story serves as a warning to those who would sacrifice righteous living for earthly gain. But Marlowe’s play is also a deeply symbolic analysis of the shift from the late medieval world to the early modern world—a time when the medieval view that the highest wisdom lay in the theologian’s contemplations of God was yielding to the Renaissance view that the highest wisdom lay in the scientist’s and statesman’s rational analysis of the world around them. Caught between these ideals, Faustus is both a tragic fool destroyed by his own ambition and a hero at the forefront of a changing society. In Doctor Faustus, Marlowe thoughtfully examines faith and enlightenment, nature and science—and the terrible cost of the objects of our desire.

–From Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Chances are you’ve probably heard the phrase “he sold himself to the devil” or “he made a Faustian bargain,” but have you ever wondered where that saying originated? If you don’t already know, it has its origins in the life of Dr. Johann Georg Faust, upon whom Historia von D. Johann Fausten (published 1587) is based. This work was translated from its original German to English in 1592 as The English Faust Book, and it is likely that Christopher Marlowe used this work as the basis for his famous play. Despite not appearing on “The Big Read” list, I have always been eager to read this work since it is referred to countless times in the literature and pop-culture alike (Damn Yankees anyone?!). I eagerly dove into my copy when I checked it out from the library and was not disappointed in what I found.

As mentioned in the synopsis, the play opens with Faustus’s search for a profession worthy of his talent (and ambition). After rejecting the traditional options (law, medicine, philosophy), he chooses instead to become a magician and learns to practice black magic. One of the first spells he casts is a summoning charm, which he uses to summon the devil Mephastophilis. Using Mephastophilis as a proxy, Faustus makes a bargin with Lucifier in which he (Faustus) will receive 24 years of service from Mephastophilis in exchange for his (Faustus’s) soul. Faustus eagerly agrees–during those 24 years he imagines he will be a god among men.  From here the story follows Faustus’s aimless wanderings throughout his remaining 24 years, which include his repeated opportunities and attempts to repent. At the climax of the story, he finally accepts his fate.

You know I can actually emphasize with Faustus to a certain extent. He was a bright, thoughtful scholar who wasn’t born with silver spoon in hand. Faustus knew he was a man who would have to make his own luck. But instead of choosing an honorable profession, he chooses to take the easy way out. His is the ultimate case of “selling out,” and similarly the pays the ultimate price. The worst part is that he has several chances to redeem himself, but he is never quite able to. To me, Faustus is the embodiment of the divided nature of man–he is constantly battling the good and evil forces in the outside world and within himself.

The big question I walked away with was: is it REALLY worth it? Once Faustus has ultimate power at his fingertips he doesn’t really DO anything with it. Sure, he learns a few bits of knowledge from Mephastophilis and plays practical jokes on kings…but his lofty ambitions go right out the window the moment he comes into power. He’s like politicians who make big promises during election season and back out on them after being elected into office. They say absolute power corrupts, and in this case I’d have to agree. I’ve often wondered since I finished this play how I’d react in a similar situation…assuming I was offered ultimate power and didn’t have to sell my soul for it of course. I hope I wouldn’t rest on my laurels, but I guess you never really know how you will react in a situation until you are in it.

Overall I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of this classic play. Despite it’s dark subject matter, it actually has plenty of lighthearted moments and is a very quick read. For those of you who like to do a little extra research on the books you are reading, I highly recommend checking out the very controversial history of this work as well. I actually felt like I learned more by reading up on Christopher Marlowe and the two surviving versions of the play than I did by reading the play itself.

What Others Had To Say:

*Let me know if you have a review published and I’ll add a link to it!

My Review In Four Lines:

  1. Rating: 4/5 stars
  2. What I liked: Reading this classic play, and learning more about its controversial history
  3. What I didn’t enjoy as much: Trying to pick the best version to read…the market is saturated with options.
  4. I would recommend this book for: People who want to read the original “sold his soul to the devil” story


Linking up with Blonde…Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Note: I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for this book review.

Thursday Thoughts 12.0

Happy Thursday friends! It’s time for another round of my Thursday Thoughts.



I’ve been going on a lot of food adventures the past few weeks. I’ve had awesome empanadas, delicious homemade ice cream, and recently made a trip to Kuma’s Corner for one of their amazing burgers. Seriously it was one of the most delightful things I’ve ever eaten. And I mean ever. I mean just take a look at this beauty:

I ate the whole thing. Don’t judge.

All of their burgers are named after heavy metal bands, and I choose the Megadeath for my meal. They also serve super delicious craft beers on draft as well. I had a Two Brothers Cain and Ebel, and it was really really good. Sometimes rye beers can be a little too well…rye…but this one was perfect. I definitely recommended it!

The only thing I didn’t like about Kuma’s? It’s (like most Chicago favorites) a small establishment. Really small. We had 6 people and waited around an hour and half for a table. Don’t get me wrong, the burgers were really awesome. Just don’t expect to get a table quickly here.


Nail Art of the Week:

Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail Polish: Revlon Dreamer

Glitter Polish: Milani Jewel Fix in Gold


In the spirit of trying new things and meeting new people I signed myself up for an alumni event for my undergraduate institution. This is sort of an un-Heather-like thing to do because I am going to this event alone, and will not know anyone there. The president of the university will be in attendance, and there will be food and beverages. I’m hopeful I’ll meet some cool new people there, but even if I don’t I can at least (hopefully) enjoy the food!


It’s one of my favorite times of the year: FOOTBALL SEASON! So far my team (Kansas State) has been rocking it! I’m hopeful that we will continue to “bring it” this weekend as well. Go Wildcats!


Is anyone else loving Alex Clare’s song (i.e. the Internet Explorer commercial song) “Too Close?” It’s one of my favorites right now. Another recent obsession? The audiobook Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. So far this book is addicting and I am HOOKED. The audio version is read by Wil Wheaton if you need any further prodding to check it out!


Linking up with Sarah!

Dear Grandma

Today is National Grandparents Day! While I’m thinking of all of my grandparents and great-grandparents today, I’d like to highlight my Grandma Marion specifically. I know it’s been a difficult couple of weeks for you, but know that I love you and am thinking of you.


Dear Grandma,

Even in my earliest memories, you were one of my favorite adults. You were very approachable, laughed easily, and always had a hug ready for each and every grandchild (which is no small feat considering there would eventually be 17 of us running around). I also loved how you really got into the holiday spirit. Whether it was Christmas, Easter, or Halloween I always enjoyed holidays at Grandma’s house:

Yikes–I was rocking some serious bangs and a really cheesy smile

I was also extremely lucky to live nearby, which meant I got to see you more often. You were also always there to lend a hand, and I know I appreciated you driving me to dance classes, music lessons, and other various activities. I especially appreciated your support of my artistic pursuits. Every show, every concert, every recital…I can’t remember one where you weren’t present. That’s a pretty impressive feat considering it lasted 12 years. I’m glad that at least this once, the show came to you:

Was my hair really ever THAT long?!

Another thing I’ve appreciated over the years is all the good chats we’ve had. It’s very easy to talk to you, and I treasure all the time we’ve had over the years to get to know each other. In looking back through pictures, I think it’s safe to say that conversation is something that is never lacking in our family:

Despite all appearances to the contrary, I’m pretty sure this is not an intense conversation about floral arrangements. But then again you never know…

I’m loving the familial closeness on the couch

In addition to all the good times around town, you also shared (and passed on) your love of travel with all of your grandchildren. We were always fascinated by all the pictures and stories you and Papa shared from your international travel, and I remember how excited I was when I found out the whole family was going to take a trip to Disney World which also included a Disney cruise.  Both Disney World trips, and the Disney cruise are highlights of my childhood:

Yikes! Fanny Packs!

Although maybe this isn’t one of them:

Who wouldn’t want to rescue these darlings?

And of course who could forget my amazing high school graduation present–a trip to anywhere in the world. I choose an Australia/New Zealand trip, and you quickly agreed to it even though you had already been there at least once. To adequately describe my thoughts and feelings from that amazing, life-changing trip I would probably have to devote an entire blog entry to that alone. Thus, although it is an understatement, I will simply say that it was amazing. I saw countless breathtaking sights, expanded my worldview, and quickly caught the “travel-bug.” It was without a doubt, one of the most fantastic months of my life. I am so grateful to you and Papa for giving me the opportunity to see the world.

I realize this apology is about 8 years late…but I’m sorry for casting a shadow on you in this picture

This little guy is still the softest, warmest, most cuddly thing I’ve ever held

A final note–one of my favorite aspects of traveling with you and Papa was seeing how you both can really cut loose while traveling. For example, one of my favorite memories from my trip was seeing Papa participate in a Maori tribal dance on stage during a dinner show. Mom mentioned to me that she enjoyed seeing you participate in the cruise night events on the New York/Bermuda cruise you all recently took:

You’re busted

Thanks for all of the great memories over the years. I hope you have a great day today!

I love you,


Thursday Thoughts 11.0

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks. I have a lot on my mind today so let’s get to it. I apologize in advance if this is the longest Thursday Thoughts post you’ve ever read…



Blogger beware–the lovely pictures you post of yourself on your blog may unknowingly contain the GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken. I recently got a new iPhone and have been downloading apps like there is no tomorrow. Whenever I open an app for the first time and it brings up a prompt asking to use my current location I nearly always say no (because I’ve read a few scary articles about people being stalked by apps that broadcast your GPS coordinates). In other words, I consider myself to be a pretty careful iPhone user. But it was recently brought to my attention by Steve over at Personal Security 101 that my iPhone pictures were geotagged with GPS coordinates. At first I didn’t want to believe it (I really don’t EVER remember giving the camera app permission to use my location), but after downloading a few of the pictures directly from my blog I discovered to my horror that he was right. Needless to say those pictures have been removed from my blog, and in some instances I deleted posts all together just to be on the safe side (i.e. this really isn’t the actual 13th Thursday Thoughts post anymore). So do yourself (and me) a favor and ensure that your photos are not being geotagged (unless you really want the GPS coordinates of where you take each and every picture).


…and speaking of useless technology I have to wonder about the necessity of embedding GPS coordinates in each and every photo that is taken. Have you ever had a moment while flipping through vacation pictures where you thought: “gee I wish I knew EXACTLY where on Earth I took this picture?” Well maybe you have, but I sure haven’t. In the reading I’ve done since I made this discovery I’ve come to learn that sometimes these coordinates are used by law enforcement agencies to catch criminals…and I can appreciate that. But by and large it seems like this feature is overkill and just plain unnecessary for the vast majority of the population. I’m sure there are instances where knowing the exact location a picture was taken would come in handy…I just can’t think of any. Call me old fashioned (and maybe a hypocrite because I have a blog) but I do like to have a little privacy in my life. Maybe I’ll never find the exact location where my super, cool, amazing picture was taken…but hopefully people won’t track me in my daily life either.


Yesterday I presented a poster at a conference for the first time. It was a really long day (man I slept so hard last night), and although I didn’t win the poster competition I feel like I did learn some important lessons along the way.

1. It is very important to carefully read the instructions (which are buried in a 3 page email) regarding the exact dimensions your poster is supposed to be. For some reason while reading the instructions for this conference, my brain read “we will provide a 4 foot by 3 foot easel to display your poster. Please adhere to this maximum size.” I assumed this meant 3 feet high by 4 feet wide since most of the posters I stare at in the hallway every day are in the landscape orientation and not portrait. But apparently what it ACTUALLY said was “4 feet high by 3 feet wide.” When did I realize my error? When I was printing my landscape-orientation poster of course. So I spent most of my Tuesday fixing my poster. Believe me, next time I’ll read the fine print.

2.  Often times at these events you are crowded into small rooms in which the air conditioning does not work well…so wearing deodorant or some kind of perfume/cologne is a must. Especially when you are talking in close proximity to me.

3. It is a really good idea to make friends with the staff at these events. Not only can they help point you in the right direction when you are lost, but they can also sneak you food from the lunch you were barred from attending (more on that in a minute).

4. Those people during the conference talks who look like they are giving the abstract book a very thorough reading? Yea, they are definitely playing Words with Friends (this wasn’t me I swear!).

5. Becoming a professor does NOT improve your presentation skills. I couldn’t believe the number of people who talked entirely to their presentation slides. For 15 minutes.

*Note these observations are in a no way a reflection of the quality of the conference or the research that was presented (believe me there was some good stuff there). They are merely my observations and experiences from the day.


When I registered for the above-mentioned conference, I had my first case of what I’ll call “conference registration fee sticker shock.” Yes, I’ve heard tales of these exorbitant fees before, but I never had the privilege to experience it for myself. When I registered for this conference there were two student options: basic student (no meals) and student (included meals). I choose to go with the no meals option because it was significantly more expensive (like $100 more) to get the meals. In my opinion this wasn’t really a case of me being cheap since the conference fee was already more than my monthly food budget.

So, I’d accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get food at the conference. Fine. I imagined I’d just quietly duck out while everyone else went to their fancy lunch and then I’d magically reappear at the poster session later (“What do you mean? I was TOTALLY there the whole time! The salmon/potatoes/desert was AMAZING”). No big deal. What I didn’t expect was that my decision would be displayed in big red letters on my name tag:

Why don’t they just write “LOSER” in really big letters instead?

Not only did the badge identify me as “Mrs. Heather ____”, (and by the way not only am I not married I don’t even have a boyfriend) but it also broadcast to the world that I was “cheap.” I was a conference-food leper. While it actually ended up being a good conversation starter (“…So you don’t get any food eh?”) AND my new friends on the conference staff actually got me some of the precious food…I still think it was kind of unnecessary to proclaim it in big red letters on my nametag.


Linking up with Sarah!

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