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Before

My friends, I am sad to report that late Easter night, Mr. Chocolate Almond Bunny lost his head. He put up a good fight, but my strength cannot be matched and I ultimately pried him from his cute little package and did some damage.

After

My mom reminded me today that when I was a little girl she would find melted/moldy chocolate bunnies stowed away in drawers in my room months after Easter. I would eat all of the other candy but these bunnies looked like art work. They were simply TOO cute to eat so I would tuck them away and  “save” them. My how times have changed. I was so full from a day of eating, but this little guy was taunting me. A hunk of Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almond Bunny Head = the perfect way to end Easter Sunday. Easter just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t enjoy some of my basket!

After breakfast I helped my mom with her baking and assembled some beautiful Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, Green Shredded Coconut and Jordan Almonds. It was such a mess, and there was frosting EVERYWHERE but they turned out to be really pretty. Thank you Betty Crocker for making baking so easy!We went to my cousin’s house around 2:30 for a late lunch/early dinner. (I never know what to make of strange eating times…I usually always have my three meals anyways). My aunt usually has a Russian Easter spread  for her two adopted sons. It is a really nice way to commemorate their traditions through food. She had: Borscht, Beef Stroganoff, Dilled Scalloped potatoes, a plate of cucumber, tomato, carrots and black olives, hard-boiled eggs, Easter Bread and Kelbasia. My mom also brought over Chicken Kiev. I love beets, and I’ve never had borscht so I thought I would give that a try. It was a mixture of beets, beef, potatoes, cabbage, tomato, celery and onions. I have to say I liked it! I had it with a glass of Shiraz and a side of Easter Bread, dilled scalloped potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, olives and a few pieces of Kelbasia (not on plate but you can see them across from me in the picture…I also snagged some of those M&Ms).The dessert table included: Cheese Cake, Chocolate Cream Pie, Lemon Cake, Cupcakes,  Carrot Cake Muffins and Frosted Sugar Cookies. So many desserts for just 9 people! I had a piece of lemon cake with a lemon-pudding frosting, which was really simple, light and refreshing. I also had a bite of one of my mom’s decorated sugar cookies.

A few hours later it was DINNER time. I decided that I could not consider my 3pm-5pm meal dinner, so I warmed a piece of my mom’s Chicken Kiev in the oven and placed it on top of a big ‘ole salad made up of  spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, Roma tomato, carrot, Parmesan cheese and honey-dijon dressing.After I had a gloriously red and juice Empire Apple and then went to town on said Mr. Chocolate Almond Bunny.

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend, and lots of good eats!!

To Another Week,

Nora

Have you ever been to cultural meal other than your own?

**** CHECK OUT MY CARROT CAKE MUFFIN RECIPE****

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Happy Easter!

Sunday mornings almost always mean “omelets and cappuccino a la dad”. He has been the Sunday Morning Breakfast Chef for as long as I can remember and always makes something special and delicious. One year he got a Belgian waffle iron, and I remember our Sunday Special was waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for months! He is busy working all week, and I love that he takes the time and thought to share his creations with us on the weekends.

In honor of Easter today’s omelet featured: ham, swiss cheese, asparagus, mushrooms and tomato topped with hot sauce and cracked black pepper. I usually have toast but just stuck with some orange juice, and waited for course two: carrot cake muffin, Holiday Biscotti and cappuccino.

Starbucks, WATCH OUT! My dad makes one mean cappuccino! I mean, just check out that foam! It was delicious (THANKS DAD!) and went perfectly with the crunchy biscotti! I was pleasantly surprised at how well the carrot cake muffins turned out. I literally threw a bunch of things together and just hoped that it would work. I wrote the recipe down, so I will have to post it soon! My mom raved at the moist texture and balance of flavor. YAY! The ultimate compliment  is my mom’s approval! Check out the inside:

**Side Note: This muffin was packed with raisins, but the way I cut it you can barely tell! SO moist!**

After breakfast my mom surprised me with an Easter basket! Yes, I am 22 years old, and NO I am not too old for bunny shaped chocolate. She included pastel colored Peanut M&Ms, chocolate eggs, a solid chocolate rabbit and an almond chocolate rabbit. My mom knows my sweet tooth and nut addiction all too well. I love that she put so much thought into this! Cupcakes and cookies are in the oven and our house smells phenomenal. I miss baking so much, I really need to do it more frequently!

Have A Fantastic Day of Rest,

Nora

What are your favorite memories from growing up?

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I woke up this morning with absolutely NO appetite; very strange for me. I’m never starving when I wake up but almost always want a big bowl of oatmeal or granola to start my day. Today, the very thought of oatmeal, or anything sweet for that matter made me cringe. I had a slight headache and stomach ache, and could only imagine that something sweet would add to my yucky feeling.

Why was I feeling like this? Well, last night after dinner I was full and content but the sweet-tooth fairy told me that it was time for dessert. I wasn’t craving anything but went for an old stand by: Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Chunky Apple Sauce, Peanut Butter and Kopali Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs. I was watching TV as I ate this and before I knew it, it was gone. I decided I wanted a bit more and fixed myself a second bowl, this time using Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and Galaxy Vanilla Almond instead of Peanut Butter and Cacao Nibs. About half way through the second bowl I was feeling uncomfortably full but refuse to waste, so finished it. I did not leave myself enough time between eating and bed to digest and it resulted in a “yucky” feeling morning.

I had to get to class, and never go breakfast-free, so I made myself a bit of a light and savory breakfast, aka a Green Monster. Into my blender went 1 cup vanilla soy milk (I like using almond milk better, but had to finish this carton off), 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop Chocolate Amazing Meal, 2 huge handfuls of baby spinach. I used the apple sauce jar (ELR style) that I conveniently polished off last night as my “to-go” cup and headed out. I think I was a bit dehydrated (maybe last night too…should have had WATER instead of extra dessert, oy!) and I drank a few glasses when I woke up. Thankfully my headache and stomach ache were gone a few hours later, and my appetite returned.

For lunch I had a normal campus-dining hall large tuna salad complete with artichokes, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, snap peas, carrots, spinach, balsamic vinaigrette and a few dashes of hot sauce. I love the combination of artichokes, cauliflower and tuna, it has such an Italian feel. If I was able to get a few olives and peppers in there it would have sealed the deal.  I also had a big and crisp Empire Apple on the side. I can’t wait for apple picking season, I have to say I am pretty obsessed with all varieties of this fruit.

Later in the afternoon I reclaimed my sweet tooth with a new favorite combination at Starbucks: Grande Decaf Cappuccino with Sugar Free Hazelnut. Yes, I know the sugar-free flavors aren’t particularly good for you, but they just so delicious every once and a while :). I was actually craving an Awake Tea Soy Latte, but I have kept up during Lent with the “no caffeinated beverages” ordeal. I had a few slip-ups here and there, but I feel AMAZING being caffeine free. I swear I am a whole new person. I love coffee so I still drink decaf but I feel more refreshed and energetic all the time!

Speaking of Lent, IT’S ALMOST OVER, which means Easter is coming up! I’m heading home for a big family get together on Sunday, and hopefully will be cooking up something fantastic to share with my family! I have been thinking of some type of sweet bread, rosemary bread, an asparagus dish, a root vegetable dish, and something lemon/blueberry for dessert. Decisions, decisions.

For dinner I was supposed to go to Sedar with my friend but she wasn’t feeling well, so AGAIN I did not go. She has promised to cook a traditional Kosher meal with me later in the week, so at least I can look forward to that (hopefully!). I wanted to keep dinner light and simple tonight, and decided to make use of the second half of my celeriac and leek. It is still a bit cold out (but won’t be for long!!!) so I decided to make a Leek and Celery Soup topped with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms and Lemon-Thyme Cream. Well…this was a bit more of an “experience” than I had hoped for. When I went to remove the blender from it’s base, my soup came out of the bottom! All of my pretty visions  died. All I wanted for dinner was a nice soup and here it was all over my counter, and BURNING my hand. I managed to save 3/4 of it, garnish it how I wanted and try it’s deliciousness, but it was a sad, sad cooking experience. Maybe my blender just wasn’t meant to be used twice in one day? No more green monsters for a while :(. On the side I had some a simple salad with spinach, red peppers, olive oil-herb roasted carrots, cucumber, sprouts, goat cheese and apple-cranberry chutney.

I can’t decided if dessert is in my future this evening but I have learned a very important lesson: listen to your body not your habits. I get so in the habit of having dessert every night that I often don’t realize if I’m actually in the mood for it. Usually if I am full, I can have a piece of chocolate and be done. Last night was a combination of wrong choices:  not hydrating properly and the decision to mindlessly eat dessert even though I was not craving it. I felt so off today, and it goes to show that the foods you eat really do influence the way you feel. Oh well, live and learn. Hopefully tomorrow my breakfast concoctions will be back on track :).

Savory NOT Sweet Dreams,

Nora

Any ideas for “spring” side dishes and desserts that I could make for my family for Easter?

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The Beginnings

Favorite Study Snack: Turkish Apricots Stuffed with Almonds

Happy Lick-Your-Almond-Butter-Jar-Clean Day Friday. Remember that almost empty jar I pictured yesterday? Well, I made sure to put it to good use today with Oats In a Jar! I have done this before with overnight oats, however; putting warm stove-top oats in a jar makes for an infinitely better melty-almond experience. I used my standard banana-oat mix ( 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/3 cup water, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, 1/2 banana, 1/3 cup steel-cut oats and 1/2 TBS chia seeds), mixed a handful of blueberries in at the very end, added the mixture to my almost empty Maranatha Almond Butter jar and topped with Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, Crofter’s South America Superfruit Spread (Maqui berries and Passionfruit), chopped Turkish Apricots and Galaxy Vanilla Almond Granola. DELICIOUS! There were points were I literally was eating spoonfuls of ALMOND BUTTER! Whoever started this OIAJ trend needs an award. My favorite addition was the Turkish Apricots. I love dried apricots, and often snack on them with mixed nuts. (see picture above, my favorite way to eat them= stuffing with almonds!)  These are the most flavorful, and have the best texture. I find that bagged apricots are some times “gummy” and have a preservative taste. I only chopped 1 or 2 to put into my oats, and despite the other flavors, could taste them in every bite.

I’m headed home this afternoon for an eye doctors appointment. The pink eye I had about a month ago turned into an allergy and I have been wearing glasses ever since! I am glad to finally be glasses free, plus I get to go out for a fish dinner with my parents! (Fish because we don’t eat meat on Friday during lent/ I love fish! Can you believe Lent is almost over? I gave up caffeinated beverages, and only cheated a few times, plus get de-caf lattes and coffee so it’s not all bad! I have to say I have been feeling FANTASTIC being caffeine free.) With traveling comes ROAD SNACKS! It’s not a far drive so I packed some finger foods: 1 large carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 Gala apple and left over mango sprinkled with cinnamon. I ended up eating another Gala apple while chopping all of this! They are so good! I made a spontaneous Lady Gaga CD purchase yesterday when I went to Target. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought a CD. This should be a fun one for the ride; there is something about her music that is….interesting to me.

In other news I am 99% sure that I am going to get a juicer this summer! I’m thinking about getting one from Breville. I found a few that were less expensive, but from past experience buying “cheaper” appliances, I know that they don’t always last and quality is extremely important. If anyone has suggestions let me know!

Have a Safe Weekend,

Nora

What is your favorite music? When was the last time you bought a CD?

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Today has been one of those days where my food cravings have really gotten me through. You know, the type of day that nothing goes well and you cant wait to get home and make something to lift your spirits? I spent a little too long indulging in my carrot cake oats, and was barely ready to catch the 9:10am bus. I was really proud that I remembered my student-ID card, and had all of my books since I haven’t had to carry them around in a week, but the second I stepped out the door I realized I had forgotten my most important item…my glasses. I took them off to put make-up on and since I am accustomed to wearing contacts, it slipped my mind to put them back on. It was 9:09am, so I did not have time to turn around and get them. UGH. I was blind all day.

I have been taking a ballet class this semester from 9:40-10:55 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and today I could feel how out of shape I was. I haven’t done yoga or any form of stretching in a while and can already tell that I am going to be so sore tomorrow…super. After class I had a minor “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY FUTURE?!” Moment, because a group of girls were discussing post graduation plans. No one really know’s what they are doing but it is a topic that has been on my mind for a while. I am majoring in Political Science and Health and Society with a Marketing Certificate, but I know that I want a career that I can be passionate about and makes me feel alive, aka something in the Food/Wine industry. I love this industry and promoting healthy lifestyles. Right now, I am thinking something along the lines of Food Marketing. But eventually have dreams of owning an organic juice bar and cafe. One can dream. I have been looking for jobs but am getting nervous as graduation draws near. (If anyone has ideas or people I could contact please let me know!!)

Even though I forgot my glasses, I managed to remember snacks. I decided to try my new Ruth’s Hemppower Cranberry Trail  Bar to get me through my 11:05-12:20 class (necessary to have a snack to keep focused… it’s a Political Philosophy class.). It was okay. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It was a bit too seedy for me (I felt like I was eating bird seed). It was crunchy/airy and had a nutty flavor. My personal preference for snacking are fruit/nut bars or something a bit more dense.

After class, I went to they gym to PUMP IRON (just kidding…but I’m trying to regain my upper body strength, so I try to do weight exercises twice a week). It was interesting not being able to see anyone at the gym. I kept squinting to see if anyone I knew was there, and probably waved at a few strangers. After my body-building session, I went to a campus “grab-and-go” eatery to pick up lunch (indulging in carrot cake oats also prevented me from packing lunch). I had a veggie hummus wrap, with what I really hope was American Cheese, along with a pint of overdressed mixed veggie salad (baby carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower sopping in wayyyyyyy too much honey mustard vinaigrette…so oily, but I was hungry). It was okay, but this reminded why I pack a lunch when I don’t have time to sit down with friends.

For an afternoon snack I brought a big, juicy, wonderful Jonagold apple. It was dripping with juice and the tart flavor lifted my mood. I had to work from 3-6 so decided a trip to Starbucks was in order. I got…are you ready for my order: Grande, non-fat, decaf, cappuccino with cinnamon dolce flavor. YUM, sweet comfort! Usually my drinks are not that complicated, it was good thing the line wasn’t long because it took me 8 years to say all of that.

The weather was GORGEOUS when I got home, blue skies and sunshine just how I like it. The nice weather put me in the mood for fresh flavors and grilled chicken…well it was makeshift grilled chicken on my cast iron skillet. My mom makes this amazing recipe from Ina Garten called Tequilla Chicken and serves it with Ina’s Guacamole Salad. This is my version of it: Spicy Citrus Chicken with Mango Avocado Salsa.

I didn’t measure, but I whisked together a combination of: Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice, Cayanne Pepper and Honey. I made a large quantity to marinade the chicken in, and reserved some for the salsa. The Salsa: 1/2 small avocado, ~1/4 mango, ~1/4 red pepper, 1/2 Roma tomato and 1/2 tomitillo pepper tossed in the marinade and removed with a slotted spoon. I let the chicken rest and sliced it into strips, topping it with the salsa. I always mix big salads together, but wanted to show the entire plate in picture form before mixing. The remained of the plate is: a handful of mixed greens and spinach, sliced baby bella mushrooms (~5), 1/2 large carrot grated on the large side, 1/4 english cucumber sliced into paper-thin ribbons and roasted  sweet potato rounds. It took me forever to eat, but well worth it and just what I was craving!

Up next, dessert was another daily craving: Peanut Butter Cups and Frozen Banana Greek Yogurt with CinnamonI had one of the peanut butter cups, and realized that I needed something cold, tart and sweet. Peanut butter + chocolate + banana= YES PLEASE. I mashed 1/2 frozen banana and added ~1/2 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt and a dash of cinnamon. Perfection! I love Newmann’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and the tart banana mash was the  perfect accompaniment! Note: these photos were  taken on my Media and Culture book…dont worry, I have actually OPENED it since then.

To Nice Weather and Fresh Food,

Nora

What are you St.Patrick’s day plans? Anyone making Irish eats or GREEN food?

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Chobani Winner

Congrats to Devyn Cannon, winner of my Chobani giveaway. Her story:

My favorite birthday tradition is one I started for my 3 sons! On each boy’s birthday, his brothers get to decorate his cake! It sounds simple enough but the two youngest are 2 and 3 and so their “decorations” can be interesting. I hope to keep this tradition going for years (like you and your bro) so that my boys have a story to tell and so that each year, they take at least a little time out to really celebrate not only their brotherhood, but their comradeship as well!

I found your story extremely thoughtful, and I hope it’s a tradtion your boys carry on!!

Best,
Nora

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Hey Everyone.

Thanks to all of you who participated in my Chobani Greek Yogurt giveaway this week. Entries are now closed, and I will be announcing the winner around 5pm today (I’m traveling so cross your fingers it will be around that time!!). I really enjoyed reading everyone’s birthday traditions and memories, thank you so much for sharing!!

ALSO: check out my “Product Review” for Chobani’s products: https://livelifeeatright.wordpress.com/poduct-reviews/chobani/

I have blogged about the flavors individually, but here is a collection of my thoughts.

Best of Luck,

Nora

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