Fox Valley Tech’s Best-Kept Secret

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front lately.  I took a hiatus to tend to some urgent matters. I hope you haven’t missed me too much! Sometimes it’s a healthy thing to step away from the keyboard (or phone, or iPad, or whatever device you choose) and just live your life.

As I wrap up my semester (and hopefully my college career), I thought it might be helpful to talk a little bit about one of the best-kept secrets at Fox Valley Tech: Student Employment Services.

Many of us are approaching graduation, and that means FINDING A FULL-TIME JOB!  That thought is a bit daunting for me right now. I really don’t have much to fret about though, because free job placement services are available just for being a student at Fox Valley Tech!  Awesome at its best!

First of all, Student Employment Services has a website called Wisconsin TechConnect, which is a job search site EXCLUSIVELY for students attending WI technical colleges. You can get statewide job listings that are directly related to your program. Once I applied for graduation, those job listings started showing up into my email inbox.  Truly, how much easier could it be?!   There are other job search sites they can direct you to as well.

Student Employment Services also offers mock interviews, to help get the jitters out for the real thing. They also have an expert who will take a look at your resume, to make sure it’s up to par with the competition.

If you really want to get serious, there are 2 very cool programs to help you in your job search: Job Search Investigation and Job Seekers Network (

Here’s a video:

And the best part to all of this? It’s all completely FREE.  Even if you’re NOT a student at FVTC, you are welcome to take advantage of some of these services.

Here’s the website. Check it out. Right now. Go. (Seriously…What are you waiting for? Get movin’ further towards success!)


When a Nook isn’t a Nook

After conducting a LOT of research on the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook e-readers, I took the plunge several weeks ago… into the crystal clear waters of Nook ownership. I bought the Nook Color, and I was as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve, but not for ordinary reasons. Truth be told, I really don’t enjoy reading much. Other than cookbooks, that is. I hate reading because I have the attention span of a 2-year old…and the eyesight of an 82-year old. It’s pathetic, really, but I’ve learned to adapt. Anyway, I bought the Nook for two specific reasons… it has Android app functionality (at the time, I had a Blackberry phone and was jealous of everyone with a Droid or iPhone)… and because the salesperson eloquently explained that I would be able to purchase textbooks for use on my new Nook reader. I was sure he had taken some form of illegal drug before making that statement. I retorted… “Are you serious?! I won’t have to squint to read the font in my 350 page law books anymore, I’ll be paying 30-40% less for e-textbooks than I had been for traditional textbooks… AND I’ll finally be able to play Angry Birds and Words with Friends?! Where’s the nearest cash register??

CHAPTER 2: The Sucker Punch

Many nights were spent in bliss as I downloaded fun, free and completely frivolous apps to my Nook. I even had access to some great magazines like Taste of Home and Martha Stewart Living, while doing my part to keep the earth green (and my living room a little less cluttered.) All the while I looked forward to this week… when my financial aid funds for the fall term would be available and I could finally experience a decent savings on my textbooks. As with any good book, life must also hold a big bad villain. In this case, the salesman at Barnes & Noble was the nasty guy. He either didn’t know his product well, he out-and-out lied to get the sale, or he knowingly misled me, because I learned this morning that unfortunately, none of the textbooks sold at the FVTC bookstore are available for reading on a Nook. *Insert waterworks of sadness here* I pleaded with the sales associate at the bookstore to tell me that she was wrong…all the while believing that it was just an enormous misunderstanding. No such luck. What I COULD do, she informed me, was to download the NookStudy software from the Barnes & Noble website onto my home computer and/or laptop. THEN I’d be able to purchase and use the e-textbooks. In no way, shape, or form do I wish to tote around a laptop, case, and cables all day long. Then try to cram them into my locker while I go to cooking classes. So, I reluctantly purchased paper editions of my textbooks and walked out of the bookstore cursing the skies above.

I still don’t get why the software is called NookStudy when it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Nook, but whatever – life goes on. Since my new Samsung Mesmerize does everything the Nook does, plus 100,000 other things, Brian has claimed ownership of the Nook, proving once again that great books AND life offer happy endings… Now I just need to convince him to accept my Words with Friends request!

I’d better make sure that you’re comforted well after such a sad story. Make a pan of this…. It always helps make me feel better!


To make the stuffing

1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup uncooked baby spinach
1/4 cup diced zucchini
1/4 cup diced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Melt butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add zucchini, mushrooms, and onions and cook about 3 minutes, until onions are softened. Turn off the heat and add the spinach, tossing until wilted. Let cool slightly, and then place into a bowl. Using your hands, combine with the ricotta cheese and egg. Layer the mixture in the middle of the meatloaf mixture (recipe shown above) and proceed with meatloaf recipe.

To make the meatloaf

1 lb ground beef
1/4 red onion, diced
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons chili sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese

Combine all ingredients except tomatoes and cheese in a large bowl, then separate into two equal portions. Place 1 portion into the bottom of a greased loaf pan. Place filling on top of mixture (recipe below) and top off with remaining meatloaf mixture.
Bake at 375 F (325 convection) for 40 minutes. Place diced tomato and cheddar cheese on top of the loaf and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Go for the Goal!

One of my favorite movies is a classic “chick flick”. It’s an awesome love story, with a fantastic soundtrack and the perfect fairytale ending. It features Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Without going further into the description, I’m willing to bet that 99% of you already know the title: PRETTY WOMAN. Who can resist romantic gestures like this?

Or Vivian’s infectious smile?

Anyway, at one point in the movie, Vivian is having a heart-to-heart chat with her friend, Kit De Luca. They talk about the importance of setting and achieving goals. I’ll agree with anyone who argues that there are better outlets for learning important facts of life than a cheesy motion picture, but hey… I believe that the most important thing is that we learn them! Dr. Benjamin E. Mays once said, “It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.”

At this time last year, I was setting some pretty wild and amazing goals for myself. I was in my first semester of college. I set some serious short and long term goals for the sake of time management, studying, and making it through the term in one piece. Thankfully, I had a desire to accomplish them, and nothing felt better than when I completed my first term…and then my first year of college, with a 3.8 GPA. To be successful in your goal setting (and achieving!), I would recommend these tips for students of any age:

  • Set weekly, monthly, and term-length goals – Make sure to set goals for effectively managing the time needed for classes, studying, family time, and work commitments. Oh, and don’t forget to plan time for some social activity. All work and no play leads to stress and burnout in no time. If you don’t own a day planner or have a calendar program on your computer or Smartphone, now would be a great time to invest in one.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keep your goals achievable and realistic so that you won’t be disappointed if/when you can’t achieve them.
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal. This doesn’t have to be anything expensive, and probably shouldn’t be…especially for achieving the small, short-term goals. Make it to the finish line of a long-term goal and then go all out with a big reward. For completion of short term goals, rent yourself a favorite movie, spend some extra time in a bubble bath, or take the family out for dinner.

Another major goal that I set a year ago was my plan to quit smoking. I had been a pack-a-day smoker since the age of 22. I had tried unsuccessfully to quit several times over the years, using pills, patches, filters, gum…anything available. Honestly, I think that my failures came due to a lack of desire to be successful. I enjoyed smoking very much. I didn’t care that my breath and clothes smelled horrible…that’s what mouth wash and perfume were for. I didn’t care that I was filling my body with carcinogens. My feeling was that we’re all going to die of SOMETHING eventually anyway. However, last November, I was faced with less income than I had ever had in my adult life and a $3.10 per pack increase in price. I didn’t want to quit smoking, but I decided I’d rather have a roof over my head than to be a chain smoker living out of a cardboard box under the viaduct. So Brian and I made the decision to quit together (he had been smoking twice as much as I had, for a little longer amount of time. We wrote out our “plan of attack”, including LOTS of short term goals to help us get over the hurdles. We nearly strangled each other a few times over the first 2 weeks, until the nicotine had been depleted from our bodies. After that, we worked on setting goals to get us through the psychological struggle and “habit breaking” that we needed. We posted our daily accomplishment on our Facebook pages so that our friends could encourage and cheer us on to make it through another day. Week by week, month by month, we made it through. On November 12th, we will celebrate a whole year free of nicotine.

There’s no turning back now. I have become a goal-achieving machine!

On to the recipe of the week:

Picture credit:



1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil2.5 cups red bell pepper, chopped4.75 cups black beans, drained & rinsed1.25 cups chopped green chiles1.25 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

3.25 cups mild enchilada sauce

2.25 cups reduced fat sour cream

2.5 cups yellow onion, chopped6.25 cups pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve .75 cups juice)2.5 teaspoons salt6 cups shredded low fat cheddar cheese20 whole wheat flour tortillas (8 or 9 in.)

.5 cups fresh cilantro, chopped (garnish) 


  1.  Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 6″ half-pan with cooking spray. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, green chiles and salt. Cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in 1.25 cups cilantro and 4 cups of the cheese.

2.  Spoon and spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture over sauce on each. Roll up tortillas; place seam side down in baking dish.


3.  In small bowl, mix reserved .75 cup pineapple juice and remaining enchilada sauce; pour over entire surface of enchiladas in dish. Sprinkle with remaining 2 cups cheese. Spray sheet of foil large enough to cover baking dish with cooking spray; place sprayed side down over baking dish and seal tightly.


4.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes, removing foil during last 5 to 10 minutes of baking, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Top each baked enchilada with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon cilantro.

 I hope that you have a fabulous week and come back to see me again soon!


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