Brunch Bites: Mozzarella Bites

Brunch Bites: Mozzarella Bites

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re all hanging in there. We’re almost to the weekend!

Before I race into morning meetings and play a little catch-up with my e-mail inbox- I wanted to share a quick, easy, and cheesy (in a good way) recipe I whipped up for ‘Girls Day’ brunch this past weekend. You just need a handful of ingredients, a couple of bowls, and about 30 minutes of patience- and you’ve got yourself a crunchy, gooey appetizer that is perfect for pre-gaming for Springtime sporting events or for long afternoons of Netflix-binging. Whatever your Lazy Sunday itinerary consists of!

Think of these as a rounder, slightly-crispier spin on a traditional mozzarella stick.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnishing
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed for dipping

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Line a large plate with several layers of paper towels. In a small pot, heat the oil over medium heat until it reads 360°F to 370°F on a thermometer. (Note: This is a relatively high frying temperature, which gets the outside crust crispy before the inside cheese can melt too much. Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil, and if it gets too hot, turn off the heat.)
  2. Taking the mozzarella, break off pieces about an inch long and roll between your palms to create a round/ball shape. Continue doing this until you have the desired number of bites.
  3. Place the flour in a medium bowl, the egg in a second medium bowl and the bread crumbs in a third medium bowl.
  4. Working in batches, dredge the cheese balls in flour to coat, then in egg, then in bread crumbs. Repeat until all the cheese is breaded.
  5. Fry the mozzarella in the preheated oil until golden brown on the outside, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared paper-towel-lined plate. Season immediately with salt.
  6. To serve, garnish the mozzarella with parsley, then serve immediately with a side of warm marinara sauce.

I love simple recipes that satisfy- so seeing how quickly these cheese bites went and knowing that I didn’t spend an entire afternoon making them was a pretty fantastic feeling. I’m planning another batch for this coming Friday night when I show up to bi-weekly dinner with my family.

I know my niece- who never turns down anything with cheese in it- is going to love these!

But for now, it’s time to hustle and make some money here at work.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone! See you all on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Spring in the City

OOTD: Spring in the City

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Being as pale as I am- I used to never wear white for fear it would wash me out even more and make me look like a literal ‘Scooby-Doo’ ghost. And then, when I attempted to dip my toe into the trend a while back- I had people reminding me that one isn’t supposed to wear white after Labor Day- a rule I never fully understood (and still don’t, really.)

But I’m a perpetual rule-breaker, and with this past weekend feeling like the first, real, legitimate set of Spring days we’ve had in a long time- no jacket required!- I decided to throw on a pair of crisp, white jeans, a bright and billowy floral top, and some pastel pink flats to meet my friends for a day of sunshine and burgers in Charlestown.

The jeans are the Rockstar Super-Skinny cut from Old Navy, while the top and flats are from Primark– all affordable and all able to be paired with other tops/bottoms- but what I love most about this outfit in-particular isn’t just how bright and fun it is, but how comfortable it is, too.

In beautiful, historic neighborhoods like Charlestown, it’s much easier (and much more pleasant) to walk to where you’re going- and when you’re in uncomfortable fabrics or overly complicated shoes- your lovely, leisurely day can be spoiled right away.

I really love breezy, loose-fitting fabrics this time of year- and this top had a fun tier/layered look going on that gave me a little bit of flair with my movements and a neat silhouette.

And although I am perpetually clumsy- I’ve learned to utilize long, thin sweaters when I sit down or as I’m eating while wearing white. I carried a cardigan in my bag for that very purpose- throwing it on before I sat down anywhere and making sure it covered the part of my jeans the napkin didn’t quite reach when it came time to eat dinner. See? Getting wiser with age (I think…)

But it’s time for me to go ahead and sip some coffee, swallow back the Monday blues, and get some work done.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Taking a Bite Out of Season 8 of ‘The Walking Dead’…

For anyone who knows me fairly well, or at the least followed me over here from ‘Legally Redhead’– you’ll know I’m a HUGE fan of ‘The Walking Dead’. While I’ve admittedly fallen a bit behind on the comics as of late (I blame work!)– I’ve never missed an episode of the AMC series since it premiered on Halloween night back in 2010.

Every Sunday night the show is on is like a mini-party at my place- complete with themed-snacks (Michonne-ion rings? Fried CARL-mari? Oh yeah. I’ve made ’em all), Walker-inspired decor, and official merchandise like t-shirts and pajama pants. I’ve speculated, debated, and predicated plot-points and characters’ motives at work, family functions, parties, online- and pretty much any place/outlet where the show is discussed. I’ve cosplayed as Daryl and Negan, I’ve hung out with some of the cast (who are all lovely)– and I’ve made friends and met kindred spirits with other fans from around the globe.

To say this show/franchise changed my life would be an understatement.

Every year, around this time- I always review the season that just wrapped up and make predictions for the season to come in the Fall. In this case, Season 8- which ended on a more sinister note this past Sunday night and included the show’s highly anticipated 100th episode- was a doozy of a nail-biter from start to finish. There’s a lot of unanswered questions- and although I’ve taken issues with the show’s writing/creative direction in recent seasons- I was pretty satisfied with Season 8 overall- save for a couple of major things here and there.

But I know there’s quite a few people who haven’t had the chance to catch up yet- and I don’t want to spoil anything for them- so I’m placing my review/guesses for the 9th season behind a “READ MORE/KEEP READING” cut to prevent ruining any twists/turns/shocking moments for those who still need some time to work their way to the Season 8 finale.

Again, last warning- unless you want to read spoilers for Season 8- DO NOT CLICK THE “READ MORE/KEEP READING” cut.

Otherwise, let Negan’s pained expression invite you in.

Same, dude. Same.

Continue reading “Taking a Bite Out of Season 8 of ‘The Walking Dead’…”

Always Ascending…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

What a busy, bustling week this has been! I’ve been juggling work at my office, prepping posts for Blondie Birdie, getting my car repaired from my recent accident, planning an upcoming day trip to NYC- and tonight I’ve got to make myself look pretty for a mid-week date in Western Massachusetts where a longtime friend of mine is treating me to a night out to help me relax a bit before it’s back to work tomorrow morning!

It hasn’t all been “all work and no play”, though. Last week’s Franz Ferdinand gig at the House of Blues was truly incredible. I’ve been a fan of the guys for years but had only ever seen them live a couple of times here and there (and each time was fantastic, mind you), so to not only get a free ticket to their recent gig at one of Boston’s best venues- but to also get the VIP treatment upstairs in The Foundation Room before the show where I had the best view in the house- was enough to make my month of April, really. I was ecstatic.

The guys still put on one high energy dance party of a show- even after all these years. I sang along, danced with strangers, enjoyed a couple of cocktails- and just took it all in from my perch right above the stage. I was, and still am, so so grateful for the hookup from indie617. Truly unexpected and amazing. Thank you guys!

This past weekend, needing a little pampering while simultaneously mixing up my look a little- I wore the ‘Always Ascending’ tour t-shirt I picked up at the Franz gig to my stylist where I decided to give myself a bit of a Spring makeover and color my previously golden highlighted hair a little more rosy, instead! That’s right- I took the pastel plunge and dyed my hair rose gold- and I am absolutely in love with it!

This color is so fun, so flattering, and is just the right shade of pink where it won’t clash with anything in my wardrobe. The stain will last a few weeks before I’ll have to touch it up again- but when it starts to fade- it will just be a lighter shade of pink instead of an orange-esque color like what I used to go out of my way to avoid back when I was a redhead.

I took my new hair out on the town with my best friend on Saturday for some late afternoon shopping and a little take-out from Mexico Lindo before heading back to the apartment to eat, drink some homemade margaritas, and watch a couple of horror movies. It was a nice, laid-back way to close out the week- and get me mellowed out and relaxed for the season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’ on Sunday night (where my nerves got shot to hell all over again.)

I’ll be doing a full write-up about the season, my thoughts, predictions for the Fall, etc.- and it’ll be up this Friday! And no worries- I’ll put any spoilers behind a cut/”Read More” tag for those who may not be caught up in the series yet and don’t want to know what’s been happening!

But  first, I’m going to go get some work done before I get dolled up and head out to be wined and dined tonight.

Enjoy your Hump Day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Car Accident Management 101

Ouch. 4/13/18

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

And a Happy Patriot’s Day to my fellow Massachusetts folks who have the day off from work/school today. For those of you participating in the Boston marathon- good luck! To those heading to Boylston Street to watch from the sidelines- have fun, stay warm- and be safe!

Heading down to the marathon had actually been on my itinerary for today, but unfortunately I was involved in a car accident this past Friday afternoon (the 13th! Go figure!) on my way home from work when another driver pulled from a stop sign and struck the rear, driver’s side door of my car as I was proceeding in the roadway. The impact was substantial enough to cause some pretty gnarly damages and temporary pain to my shoulder and neck. The damage remains- but my shoulder and neck are thankfully fine as I type this.

Now, I’ve been in a couple of accidents in the past- but it was usually as a passenger in someone else’s car, or the impact was so minimal that there were no damages or injuries. For example, a couple of years ago someone tapped my bumper while they were attempting to straighten their car out in a parking space behind me- and I didn’t even bother calling my insurance company because it was so insignificant.

But Friday’s accident marked the first time I’d ever been involved in a collision where I was driving my own car and there were significant dents/scratches/issues after the fact. I was fortunately able to drive my car home from the scene without issues- but my hubcap snapped. The hatch to my gas tank was pushed in and needed to be pried open with a screwdriver in order for me to fill my tank on Saturday morning. My rear, driver’s side door opens/closes a little funny. Long story short- it needs to be repaired- and claims had to be filed. It’s a lengthy, exhausting process- and one I’m all too familiar with given my job title.

So instead of cheering the marathon runners on this morning- I’ll be getting my car appraised, making arrangements to get it repaired, obtain a rental vehicle, and providing statements to the Adjusters from my own insurance company and the other driver’s carrier in the hopes of getting this resolved as quickly as possible.

Working in insurance/claims has actually been beneficial to me throughout the past few days while I made the necessary calls/contacts and gathered the appropriate evidence to present to the Adjusters- and although I had wanted to share a fun recipe this morning before I headed out for the day- I thought I’d provide some of my tips/tricks to surviving the post-accident process to those of you who may have never had to go through this very same experience (and I truly hope you’ll never have to!) or have gone through it- but may have been flustered throughout everything.

It happens fairly often- believe me!

IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE ACCIDENT:

1. Stay calm and composed: Unless you or a passenger have been seriously injured- in which case getting medical attention takes priority- going from 0 to extremely pissed off is a pretty common reaction following an accident. This is especially true if said accident wasn’t your fault- but you need to remain calm. Take a couple of deep breaths. If you can move your car somewhere safe and out of the way of traffic before you exit your vehicle and speak with the other driver/passengers, do it.

Losing your cool, flipping out on the other driver, or otherwise working yourself into a frenzy can cause you to forget to do crucial steps or gather important information like obtaining names, license plate numbers, contact info, etc. It can also work against you if police are called to the scene and they have to write down in their report/narrative that you were losing your mind at the scene.

Just keep in mind that accidents happen. People make mistakes- and the other driver is probably just as upset as you are. Even if they’re being aggressive, rude, confrontational, or throwing a fit- keep it together. I was fortunate in my accident (a strange sentence to type) in that the other driver was incredibly polite, apologetic, and eager to assist.

2. Get ALL the information. Take ALL the photos- and not just of your own damage: A common mistake I see from insureds at my job is that they don’t get important information or take photos at the scene/of the damages to both vehicles involved- which can assist an Adjuster SO much- especially if liability is being disputed by the other driver or their insurance carrier.

Get photos of everything- their registration, their license plate, their driver’s license, the damages to your own vehicle, the damages to the other vehicle, the street/location where the accident happened from different angles (just be safe!) Anything that will help paint the picture of the events leading up to, during, and following the accident when your claim gets assigned to an Adjuster. They’ll want to see points of impact on both cars, the layout of the street, etc. so they can complete an accurate and thorough analysis of the claim and better assist you.

When speaking to the other driver, be sure to get their phone number (insurance companies will want it in order to make contact with everyone involved- and having it on hand saves them the trouble of having to mail a contact letter.) If there are any witnesses- get their full names, addresses, and phone numbers in case they need to be contacted to provide statements. Get the responding Police Officer’s full name and badge number- even if he/she tells you it will be on their report. Get it anyway.

And if you’re not sure if the information is necessary or not? Write it down anyway. You never know.

3. If you’re not okay- admit it and speak up: Immediately following an accident, adrenaline usually kicks in and any potential injuries might not be noticeable right away until after the fact when you’ve had a chance to decompress and relax a bit- and only then you might notice you’re not feeling so great and want to get checked out by a Doctor. In my case, I didn’t start feeling pain until late Friday night and into Saturday morning when my left shoulder and neck- which had been jerked side to side during the impact- started to feel a little stiff and sore. It has since resolved itself with some light stretches and a couple of doses of ibuprofen.

However, if you’re in noticeable or substantial pain at the scene of the accident- or if you’re feeling too rattled to drive your vehicle to your destination safely- say something. Tell a responding officer, or a witness, or call a friend/loved one to come and help you. Do NOT ignore it and do NOT attempt to drive if you don’t think you can. Getting into a second accident right after the first is not a good look for anyone. There’s no shame in getting help if you need it.

REPORTING THE CLAIM TO INSURANCE COMPANIES:

1. Report the claim as soon as you can, and stay patient while you do: I always recommend calling in a car accident claim as soon as possible- while details are still fresh in your mind- to get them assigned accordingly and processed ASAP to cut down on unnecessary waiting time to get your vehicle repaired, medical bills paid, etc.

The sooner, the better- but be sure that you’re calm and you’ve got the time/patience to talk to the companies at length and provide as much information as possible. It can be daunting- especially knowing that you’ll have to do it more than once (reporting it to your own carrier, and then the other driver’s carrier, and so forth…) but it will ultimately save you a lot of aggravation moving forward.

Also, sidebar- but if the person taking down the information about your accident/damages doesn’t get something right (in my case, it was the location and the actual accident description)– do NOT be afraid to repeat yourself again, and again, and again if necessary- in order to make sure the facts surrounding the accident are being reported and relayed correctly.

2. Write everything down: Much like you did at the scene of the accident- documenting everything you discuss with the insurance companies is crucial, too. Who did you report the claim to? What’s your claim number? Your Adjuster’s name and telephone number? The other driver’s claim number? The other driver’s Adjuster’s information? Appraisal numbers? Contact numbers for the appraiser? Rental confirmation codes? The list goes on.

It’s a lot of information- and you’re going to have to refer to it more than once- so if you take clearly labeled and detailed notes, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor in the long haul. Keeping the claim information on hand means you don’t have to waste so much time talking to automated answering services of dodging the run around with company operators. You can be connected- and quickly- to representatives and Adjusters who will be able to pull up the claim and assist you moving forward!

AFTER YOU REPORT THE CLAIM:

1. Be patient: From experience, it’s frustrating to have someone report a claim and then call the assigned Adjuster an hour later wondering why nothing has been done for their vehicle damage/injuries. Chances are, your Adjuster is reviewing your policy, confirming your coverage, making the necessary contacts and assigning the correct appraisers/team members to work on a claim with them.

Give them a chance to familiarize themselves with your accident before you start blowing their phone/e-mail up with questions and concerns. If you still haven’t heard anything within two business days after reporting an accident- then absolutely make contact- but other than that? Chill.

2. Read each form you receive in the mail- and cooperate with any investigations: It’s standard procedure for insurance companies to send out forms and seek statements from drivers involved in accidents- especially if there’s disputes in liability or conflicting stories. As frustrating as it is- cooperate fully with all companies investigating the accident and be prompt with returning calls, completed paperwork, etc.

The more efficient and upfront you are, the better the outcome and the quicker the results. A lot of times when claim handling gets held up or delayed- it’s because one of the involved parties is slacking or being unresponsive. Don’t be that person. Be the person who is helpful and on top of things.

3. If it’s too much for you to handle- seek out some help: Your insurance company is there to help you out during stressful times like accidents and injuries- so never be afraid to reach out to your own Adjuster to ask any questions that come to mind or check in/monitor your claim status. Many companies also offer helpful resources on their websites, as well- so utilizing those can make all the difference.

And I say this as an absolute last resort- but obtaining an Attorney/Legal Representative is also an option if you’d rather have someone handle all the paperwork on your behalf (and potentially take a good chunk of any settlements you receive.) It’s entirely up to you, of course- and how much of the work you’re willing to do yourself.

4. Take some time to treat yourself/do something good for your morale: Listen, car accidents are an ordeal in themselves- and dealing with the aftermath can wear you out. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat a nice meal. Watch a funny movie. Get your nails done or buy a video game to keep yourself entertained.

Whatever it takes to get you feeling good, less stressed and like yourself again- go for it!

I hope those help anyone who find themselves in my current predicament down the line. Despite my schedule getting botched up as a result of this accident- I’m surprisingly calm and optimistic about the whole thing right now. Things happen, and sometimes those things aren’t exactly ideal- but thankfully no one was seriously injured and I can still drive my car to/from work right now- so it could always be worse.

I’m off to get these tasks done- but I hope everyone has a great Monday!

xx

– Ashley –