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Archive for May, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!!

I hope everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather and enjoying the company of family and friends! I also hope that everyone takes a moment to pause and remember the meaning of this holiday. I want to send a big THANK YOU to our troops and all of those who have devoted their lives to our country. You are constantly in my thoughts, and I am so grateful for your commitment.

Today has been a patriotic day for my food. One of the reasons why I love coming home is to use my mom’s dinnerware. I swear she has plates, cups and place mats themed for every major holiday. The summer months are all about the stars and stripes!I woke up this morning around 7:30am, and geared up to go for on a “Memorial Day Run” with my dad. Before heading out the door I had a light breakfast that consisted of 1/2 of a large banana, strawberries, sunflower seed butter and coffee (in my themed mug!) while reading my horoscope and completing the easy Monday sudoku puzzle in our local paper. Fun fact: I’m obsessed with sudoku. Every time I am home I retrieve the newspaper from our mailbox as soon as I wake up so that I can do the puzzle while watching the news and having breakfast.

My dad and I ran a surprising 5.5 miles (it has been an EXTREMELY long time since I have done this distance, 3 is usually my max.). The sun was hot during our run and we were BEAT by the time we returned home. My dad, aka The Breakfast Man, whipped up some omelets for brunch. My omelet was made with  Swiss cheese, basil, mixed cherry tomato and broccoli with a glass of orange juice and a large carrot on the side (don’t ask, I was craving a crunchy vegetable haha). We had brunch outside on our patio and it was fantastic!  I don’t want to be repetitive, but I LOVE COMING HOME! There is something distinctly  special about family time and good food.The run took a lot out of me, and I decided that I needed a bit more protein. I extended this brunch with a 1/2 cup of Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, strawberries, a handful of roasted almonds and cinnamon.The sun was out in full force today, thus the shadows in many of these pictures.

I’m off to do a few tasks before heading back to school my apartment later today. WHOA! I actually typed school and it took me a minute before I realized that I just completed college and now am in the working world. So the song goes, times are a changin’. I think we will have an early Memorial Day barbecue before I head back. I have to take advantage of our charcoal grill while I can because it’s back to a cast iron grill pan when I return to my mini apartment!

Always Remembering,

Nora

What are your plans for Memorial Day?

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I’m the type of person who cannot be idle. I find that when I have down time I end up getting antsy and think of anything and everything I could be doing. That being stated, sometimes you just need a day where you can stop, smell the flowers and relish in the peacefulness of having nothing on your agenda. Today was one of those days.

After my short country side run this afternoon I took myself on a “garden tour” around our backyard. My mom is extremely devoted to her gardens. She takes such pride and pleasure in them, and spends the majority of her day carefully tending to them. I think her dedication is what makes the flowers so beautiful.After my garden adventure we went to my cousin’s house for their birthday barbecue. I had a plate of grilled chicken, fruit and a mixed green salad with pear slices in a lemon vinaigrette. It wouldn’t be a birthday with out cake so I had a slice of vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and a little mint chip ice cream (can never resist mint chip 🙂 )After the party, I went for a nice walk-and-talk with my mom. When we returned I headed into our back yard to do a cart-wheel,  just because I haven’t done one in ages, and proceeded to lay in the grass and stare at the sky for a while. Sometimes you just have to soak in the beauty.

It was such a nice day that we decided to sit outside and absorb the beauty over crackers, hummus, bread, cheese and a bit of Dr. Loosen Riesling.

Life is good.

Peaceful,

Nora

What are your favorite ways to spend down time?

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Yesterday was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the upper 70’s and there was a consistent mild breeze. My parents and I thoroughly enjoyed the weather along with some amazing food.

After a little bit of this…Two pieces of this Calamata Focaccia and Wake Robbin Cheese.We were ready to sit down for dinner: grilled rosemary pork tenderloin, mixed green salad with a blend of cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and cucumber and steamed broccoli paired with  Diseno 2007 Malbec.Along with fresh herbs pressed on the pork, my dad also puts fresh rosemary right on the charcoal so that it infuses into the meat…delicious!

We were pretty full after dinner and decided to fill our glasses with a splash more of the Malbec and go for a walk around the backyard.After our “garden tour”, we each had a small piece of the brownies I made the previous evening and called it a night.

This morning we woke up at 7am to attend church and came home for our Sunday morning ritual: breakfast, biscotti, cappuccinos and the newspaper. My dad made an omelet for my mom and himself but the strawberries in our refrigerator were calling my name. I compiled a bowl of Plain Chobani Greek Yogurt, sliced banana, strawberries, cinnamon and had half of a chocolate-macadamia biscotti on the side (the other half was used for dunking into my cappuccino…aka the proper way to enjoy biscotti!) This biscotti was so rich! Initially I thought it was chocolate-almond but it ended up being packed full of macadamia nuts! It had a hint of orange zest in it, which made for a nice contrast to the espresso.

With a happy belly I’m off for a day that includes a nice country run, reading and a family BBQ for my cousin’s birthday.

Have a Relaxing Sunday,

Nora

Do you have special weekend traditions?

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I’m a little over excited for this post! I could hardly sleep last night because I had thoughts of fresh produce, artisan bread, flavored pastas and hummus running through my head. Today my parents and I ventured to my version of Disney Land: The Farmers Market. I have always been a Farmer’s Market enthusiast. I distinctly remember a time during my childhood when my family would go to Farmer’s Market almost every Saturday during the summer. I would always willingly hop out of my bed, excited by the prospect of finding handmade clothes for my barbie dolls and tasting locally produced cheese curds (I especially liked the pizza flavored cheese curds…I was a strange child.). There is nothing like waking up at 6am and entering a customer packed venue filled with smells of fried dough and dirt , to obtain “the good selection” of plants and produce. The energy at the market is what appeals to me the most. The vendors are so passionate about their products and you know you are purchasing something that was tended to with care. I always try to buy locally grown/ produced goods when I can because supporting the community is something that is very important to me.

The produce this time of year in Upstate NY is not at it’s best, however; we did not walk away empty handed. My mom bought several vegetable plants and herbs for her garden which will be amazing to have this summer–you can’t  get any fresher than straight from your own backyard 🙂 !

We made a stop at the Mediterranean store at the market for ground cinnamon, goat cheese, fresh hummus and kalamata olives. We also purchased some locally harvested honey and locally produced Bailiwick Cheddar Cheese from Wake Robbin Farm.

Our trips to the market are never complete with out buying a loaf of bread from our favorite vendor. Today we purchased one of our favorites: Calamata Focaccia. This bread never disappoints and has large pieces of kalamata olives under the top layer of airy dough sprinkled with sea salt. Simply stated: heaven in bread form.Because we tend to be Sunday morning coffee, biscotti and newspaper people, we purchased three of these lovely chocolate almond biscottis to round out our trip. I’m looking forward to trying this tomorrow, they smelled buttery and divine!

I’m off to enjoy some bread, cheese and wine with my parents!

Buy Local,

Nora

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After a night filled with good food and conversation with my parents, I sluggishly walked upstairs to my room to settle down for the night. When I opened my door I noticed a mysterious brown package sitting on my desk. What could this be? My parents did not mention that I received a package so I was extremely surprised and excited to see what it was. To my delight, it was a gift from Allie at Live, Laugh Eat! If you haven’t met Allie, check out her blog! She is a genius baker and incredibly kind. Allie is doing some big things in the baking world with her AllieBars and sent me a few of her creations along with a jar of Sunflower Seed Butter. I love my nut butters and have been DYING to try sunflower seed butter! Thank you Allie, you made my visit home even more special! 🙂

I woke up early this morning to attend the Farmer’s Market (will post about this later today!) with my parents. I am a Farmer’s Market junkie. I love buying locally grown and produced items. The pride and love that producers have for their products is truly reflected in the quality of their goods and is never anything short of exceptional! Before leaving I had a breakfast to reflect the “food from the heart” feel of the Farmers Market that incorporated an AllieBar and Sunflower Seed Butter. I filled my bowl with plain yogurt, a large banana, cinnamon, sunflower seed butter and an AllieBar (I ate half before the picture!). HOLY YUM!

Allie–I can finally relate to your love for sunflower seed butter. I will be attacking this jar full force with a fork in hand Allie style.

As if the sunflower seed butter wasn’t amazing enough, the Allie Bar brought a whole new “yum factor” to this meal. Let me just say, the girl knows what she is doing! I loved how it had a homemade feel to it with the hearty oats. It was soft bar with filled with dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds and a whole lot of love. You can’t buy a granola bar like this in a store. I  wish her the best of luck in her AllieBar ambitions. She is destined for big things!

I’m off for a short country side run and will be back to post about my market adventure later in the day. Happy Saturday!

Loving Local,

Nora

Does your grocery store provide an option of purchasing locally grown produce?

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After work today I came home for Memorial Day weekend to spend time with my family. I was so thankful for this break because between graduation and the start of my internship I haven’t had time to relax and unwind. It will be a weekend filled with good food and even better company; my favorite way to spend down time.

Since I was going away for the weekend, I needed to clean out my produce closet. I hate letting food go to waste and had an ample supply of produce in my refrigerator, therefore; lunch today was a simple salad with a tuna topper, Dr. Krackers and strawberries. My salad was composed of 1 romaine heart, 1/4 red bell pepper, 1-2 inches of cucumber, alfalfa sprouts and a handful of grape tomatoes. I prepared a package of tuna with balsamic, Dijon mustard, 1 stalk of celery and chopped kalamata olives. On the side I had a serving of Dr. Krackers and the remainder of my fresh strawberries.

After a long day of work, I made a 1.5 hour drive home and was greeted with a Middle Ages IPA beer. I love this beer, it has an incredible “hoppy” flavor and rich mouth-feel. For dinner my parents prepared grilled chicken, corn on the cob and a mixed green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and blue cheese paired with  Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc. This meal was the epitome of summer: simple, crisp and fresh. Some of my favorite childhood Summer memories revolve around grilled foods and soft serve ice cream.

Dessert is ALWAYS necessary, so as a ‘thank you’ for the thoughtful dinner my parents prepared, I teamed up with my good friend Betty Crocker and baked a batch of brownies. My mom added peanut butter cup sundae ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry for brownies a la mode. Did I mention that I LOVE coming home? I had such a nice evening catching up with my parents.

Family Gal,

Nora

What are your favorite family memories?

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I love to cook but at the end of a long day I want a meal that is easy to put together. When I am pressed for time I often resort to throwing whatever vegetables, proteins and grains I have on hand into a bowl and call it a ‘big salad’. These dinners are okay once in a while, but they are boring and not something I consider a “real meal”. I have had a few of these throw together dinners this week and decided it was time to reconnect with my inner chef and get in the kitchen.

For dinner tonight I made Pan-seared Tilapia in a Lemon-Dill Butter Sauce and  Crunchy Broccoli Salad with Orange-Curry Yogurt Dressing.

When pan-searing, it is important to have everything together before you cook the protein: “mise en place”. Before heating the pan for my fish I assembled the broccoli salad, prepared the fish and set out the lemon-dill butter and herbed olive oil for the finishing sauce.

For crunchy broccoli salad I combined about 3 TBS- 1/4 cup of plain low fat yogurt, the juice and a few segments of 1/4 of a navel orange, curry and cinnamon to taste. I added a large bunch of chopped broccoli, celery, dried cranberries and roasted almonds to the the sauce and placed the mixture in the fridge to chill while I cooked the Tilapia.

To prepare the Tilapia, I lightly dusted both sides of the fish with a pan-searing flour and cracked black pepper. I added about 1-2 tsp of olive oil to a sautee pan over a medium heat until a faint smoke appeared around the edges of the pan (You want to maintain a light smoke around the edges of the pan. If it becomes too smokey, adjust heat!). I placed the Tilapia in the pan for about 3-4 minutes per side until it was slightly golden and crispy. When the fish was finished I turned the heat off and added 1 tsp of an herbed oil and 1 tps of a lemon-dill finishing butter to deglaze the pan and create a butter sauce to spoon over the fish. This method generates a moist fish with tons of flavor!

It was a simple, elegant and refreshing dinner to have at the end of a long (and hot!) day. It was exactly what I was craving. Speaking of cravings, on the way back from my from my work trip we stopped off for soft serve!! Ice cream is my all time favorite food, and in the summer my ice cream of choice is soft serve chocolate-vanilla twist. Naturally, I always have to add rainbow sprinkles to make it a true summer treat! I was a very happy girl. Loving Summer,

Nora

What are your favorite Summer foods?

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