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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

My reason for coming home on the weekends= free beer.

JUST KIDDING! But coming home to a sinfully delicious and hoppy Middle Ages Wailing Wench beer adds incentive. My real reason for coming home a second weekend in a row is to celebrate my best friend’s birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!

My mom will be another year wiser this Sunday, but because my brother and I have work/school on Monday morning we will be celebrating by going out to dinner on Saturday evening. We are going to a French restaurant that she picked out and I am BEYOND excited! I’ve never been to a French restaurant and I cannot wait to engage in a new cultural experience (complete with a nice Bordeaux wine of course 🙂 ).

I drove directly home after work today and sipped on a much appreciated beer with my dad as my mom prepared dinner. For dinner we had grilled steak with oven roasted potato wedges and an iceberg wedge salad with goat cheese and tomatoes in a red wine vinaigrette. Dinner was also served with a touch more beer. IT’S SO GOOD, I SWEAR!

I’m not a huge steak person, however; from time to time I CRAVE it and nothing else will do. I haven’t had red meat in a while and lately my meals have been fairly vegetarian, so I was long over due. I topped my steak with a bit of A1 Steak Sauce and had an abundance of ketchup on the side for my potato wedges. Home cookin’ at its finest! Thanks mom!

After dinner I proceeded to clean the kitchen. Fun Fact: I’m a freak about cleaning the kitchen. It doesn’t even have to be my own. I have been known to  obsessively do the dishes at dinner parties.

When I finished, I desperately searched the freezer for my favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream but there was none to be found.  I debated baking brownies but it was nearly 9pm. What is a girl with a sweet-tooth to do? IMPROVISE. I mixed ~1/3 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt with 1 heaping tsp of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder and then added a mound of chopped strawberries and cinnamon to the bowl. Not quite ice cream but still delicious!

I’ve been awake since 5 AM and I’m exhausted. I think a ritual Farmer’s Market Saturday trip is in store for tomorrow (weather permitting), so hopefully I’ll be meeting you at the market!

Happy Weekend!

Nora


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Last night I decided that it would be an excellent idea to bake. I have been looking for a new “pre-workout” food to tide me over between lunch and dinner, and Dreena’s Super-Charge Me Cookies sounded ideal. I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand (i.e maple syrup) so I made a few substitutions. Let’s just say they didn’t turn out as well as I would have hoped but the main reason for this was probably my stellar oven.

Looking delicious in the mixing bowl.

Yummy on the cookie sheet

My high tech oven.

Re: My high tech oven.

The aftermath.

Fail.

While the oven was heating, the temperature of my apartment rose to match it. AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL idea! I here by vow to NEVER turn that oven on for the rest of the summer 😦 .

The cookies were a little on the “crisp” side but I’ll love these little disasters all the same (I’m not one to waste). I’m going home for my mom’s birthday this Sunday, so I will be taking full advantage of her convection oven and getting a little baking-crazy. My life is exciting… clearly.

Baking Dreams,

Nora

Have you ever had a major kitchen failure?

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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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I’m MELLLTTIINNGGGGG…. Just like the witch in The Wizard of Oz. My top floor apartment combined with 80 degree humid weather has generated sauna like living conditions. After dinner last night I sat on my futon praying for a cool breeze to pass through my window…..It didn’t happen.  I did what any profusely sweating individual would do and stuck my head in the freezer. While I was hanging out in my refrigerator, I desperately searched for some relief to beat the heat. I had about 15 cups of water, a glass of vanilla soy milk mixed with Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and Red Rhapsody Odwalla (how did I think of this? It was amazing!) and finally discovered the best creation ever: chocolate banana soft serve topped with strawberries.

I needed to iron my skirt for work and the thought of a hot iron made me cringe. I knew that I needed some reward to motivate me through it and all that I could think about was plain ice cream. The only ice cream in my freezer was a complicated peanut butter and chocolate ripple and I was not in the mood. My eye caught a frozen banana and I remembered seeing “banana soft serve” in blogs, so decided to give it a try. I combined 1 large frozen banana, 1 tsp cocoa powder and a few scoops of plain yogurt into my blender at the lowest setting. I placed the mixture in a bowl and allowed it to harden in the freezer as I braved the heat from my iron.  WHY HAVE I NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE?!?!? It was so delicious, I only wish I had time to let it freeze a bit more. This treat made me seriously consider buying bananas in bulk so that I can have an ample freezer supply this summer.

I knew that I couldn’t live in my refrigerator forever and finally ended up on the floor, snuggled next to my mini Honeywell fan from college and more water.

Breakfast today was also weather influenced. I made a smoothie with 1/2 of a Red Rhapsody Odwalla, 1 container of plain yogurt, 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder and lots of ice. I topped my smoothie with ~1/2-3/4 cup of  Heart to Heart and Go Lean Crunch. It was a good way to beat the heat before a long day. I’m off to a morning filled with meetings and a field trip!

Stay Cool,

Nora

What foods do you eat to “beat the heat”?

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Dinner last night was simple and satisfying. For some reason warm weather always makes me crave grilled items and fresh produce. I marinated a chicken breast in barbecue sauce and grilled it on my cast iron skillet. I wish I had access to a real grill but my make shift grill pan over an open flame is the next best thing! My chicken was perfectly moist and delicious. On the side I had a rather big salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes and feta cheese. I dressed this salad in a homemade mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and cracked black pepper. This dressing was so good that it caused an epiphany: If you have the time, MAKE YOUR OWN SALAD DRESSING! My dressing was the simple and the perfect consistency, really highlighting the crisp vegetables.

Once again, I had strawberries on my mind for dessert. I found a Jell-O pudding in the back of my fridge that I’m pretty sure was expired (gross, I know) but it looked okay so I decided to eat it anyways. I topped it with strawberries and whipped cream. NOTE TO SELF: BUY ICE CREAM ASAP!

I woke up this morning with an odd craving for cold cereal. I assembled a bowl of 1/2 cup Go Lean Crunch, 1/2 Cup Heart to Heart, 1 sliced banana, sliced strawberries, 1 TBS ground flax, cinnamon and 1 cup vanilla soy milk.
It was my first day at my internship so I was rather excited this morning. I debated bringing lunch because of my financial situation, however; because it was my first day I wanted to scope out the scene and try the cafeteria. I had a turkey, lettuce, red pepper and mayo sandwich on a whole wheat pita, a side salad with raspberry vinaigrette and an apple. It was pretty good and only set me back about $4 but I’ll probably pack a lunch from now on. It was another intern’s last day with the company and the department had a send-off for him after lunch. I was really excited because it was complete with CAKE! I had a small piece of dense yellow cake with white frosting (I made sure to get an edge piece for the extra frosting 🙂 )

After work I went to the gym. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting home for dinner until about 7pm, so I planned a head and packed a pre-gym snack and an easy dinner. I had a Tropical Fruit Tart Larabar around 4pm. It was such a nice treat for a hot summer afternoon and fueled my workout. I did about 40 minutes on the precor machine followed by crunches and arm weights. I always thought that I preferred morning workouts, but I really liked how it broke up my day. It was relaxing, and having dinner already prepared was KEY!

When I got home dinner was waiting for me. Last night I realized that I had a portabello mushroom cap to use so I created a stuffed portabello mushroom with couscous, spinach and feta cheese topped with grape tomatoes and more feta as the main component of my meal (I’m planning on some simple sides to accompany this dish but took this picture last night.). To prepare, I cleaned the exterior of the mushroom with a dry cloth (aka paper towel), discarded the stem and gills of the mushroom and brushed the outside with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried basil and cracked black pepper. I then placed the mushroom cap side down on my cast iron grill pan, added the remaining vinaigrette mixture evenly into the belly, grilled it until tender and let it rest on a plate before adding the filling.

For the couscous, I placed 1/4 cup dry whole-wheat couscous in a bowl, added 1/2 cup of boiling water and let it sit about 5 minutes before fluffing and allowing it to cool. I added a handful of freshly chopped baby spinach, about 2 heaping TBS feta cheese and cracked black pepper into the couscous and mixed to combine. I placed this mixture in the mushroom cap and finished it with grape tomatoes and more feta cheese.

My internship is absolutely amazing! I feel so lucky to have found a position in the food industry incorporating aspects of social media and marketing. I am extremely passionate about food, family, healthy living and social media (obviously!) and can’t believe that I was able to find an involved internship composed of all these elements and more. I don’t want to go into details but today I was able to learn about and work on projects that dealt with iPhone apps, Twitter and blogging. Seriously, someone pinch me!

Working Girl,

Nora

What tips do you have for balancing work, exercising and healthy eating?

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Saturday was my last day working at the bakery. This job has been one of the best experiences of my life and has influenced me to pursue a career in the food industry. Working in the customer service bakery of a large grocery store has taught me the importance of consumer relations and shown me the dynamics of a large business. I am always incredibly inspired by the creativity and excitement that goes on in the store.

My last shift was all I could have asked for. I was on the schedule from 9:30am-6pm to do “demo” aka providing samples to customers. The employee who typically provides demonstrations had another obligation and was unable to sell on this day. I give her so much credit because it is NOT an easy task to be on your feet talking to people and selling products for 8.5 hours 5 days a week! I prepared for my last shift with the world’s greatest breakfast: oatmeal. (I was thrifty and used my microwave to minimize my gas bill!)

In the mix: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, half of a banana (sliced and microwaved separately for 30 seconds, then added to my oats 1/2 way through cooking.), 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, cinnamon, vanilla extract and 1 TBS ground flax.

Topped with: 2 large strawberries, Crofter’s South America Superfruit Spread, 2 chopped Brazil nuts and coconut butter.

I was sampling our Pecan Raisin Sourdough and Kerrygold Butter. This is such a special bread that our bakers make from scratch on the weekends. I remember last summer when they were perfecting the recipe and I got to bring some home to sample. It is sweet satisfaction to see this bread come full circle. I’m not a huge butter on my bread person (something about disliking it as a child) but I absolutely love Kerrygold. It is so rich and brings out the best flavors in the bread; a perfect combination.

When I got home I had a pre-planned Cold Peanut Noodle Salad for dinner (practicing already!). I knew I was going to be tired after work and want to shower, so the night before I cooked soba noodles, chopped veggies and created a peanut sauce. All I had to do when I got home was assemble, pour a glass of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and enjoy! Easy as pie.In my bowl: 1/2 chopped romaine heart, 1/2 bundle of soba noodles, 1 medium carrot, 1/4 red bell pepper, 1 inch of cucumber, 1/2 stalk of celery, 1 small bunch of broccoli. Topped with a peanut sauce: ~1-2 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, juice of 1/2 a lime, pinch of red pepper flakes and 1 TBS low sodium soy sauce.

This was an amazing meal! I love how well the noodles took to the sauce, and the raw vegetables were so refreshing. It was a large bowl of food that required just a splash more chardonnay to complete it ;).

For dessert I had the last of my Mint Cookies and Cream frozen yogurt ~3/4 cup with fresh strawberries. Shortly after dessert I fell asleep on my new futon at the early hour of 9:30pm while watching the movie Maid of Honor. It was a long day.

I woke up at 7am this morning and knew it was another great day for a run. I stumbled into the kitchen for a quick pre-run meal of a Lemon Zest Luna Bar and Jonagold Apple, and returned to bed to read my book for a few hours. I MISS READING FOR FUN!!!

After my run I had a late “brunch” (11am?) of another thick green monster smoothie ( 1 large frozen banana, 5 ice cubes, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, cinnamon, 1 TBS crunchy peanut butter, a bunch of baby spinach and 1 cup vanilla soy milk. I forgot the Amazing Grass GREEN Superfood today and my smoothie ended up taking on a mint-ting-a-ling color) and a slice of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread with Coconut Butter and Cinnamon.

I did not have any obligations today, therefore; I was on a mission to find a decent Wi-Fi signal so that I could FINALLY upload my pictures and blog! I can’t believe I have been internet-less for an entire week! It is sad how dependent I am on technology, but hey, it’s my life. I spent a few hours at a local bookstore while my pictures slowly uploaded. I was successful but it was an extremely time consuming process. While I was there I snacked on a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar and Iced Coffee that I brought from home. No more $4 lattes for this girl! (I had a gift card to Starbucks thus why I had a few purchases earlier in the week.)

Now that we are all caught up I’m off to make an early dinner and get to bed before my first day at my internship! I’m beyond excited to start and have been waiting for this day to come for so long! I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve, I hope that I am able to sleep tonight.  I’m going to try my hardest to post tomorrow. I can’t wait to officially have internet in my apartment on Wednesday.

The Future Awaits,

Nora

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The last post was actually written on Friday but I was unable to post it because my internet connection was failing and my battery died. I had work all day at the bakery on Saturday, so I’m trying to play catchup with my post.

Friday Post:

I’m not sure how, but I woke up this morning at 6:30am. I felt completely awake at this ungodly hour, and parted the blinds to reveal the radiant sun. I decided to go for a run. I haven’t exercised in weeks and it was the perfect morning to start-up again. I grabbed half of a petrified Chocolate Almond Fudge Clif Bar and strapped on my running shoes.

It felt so great to run again. I saw many other people out and about running, dog walking and biking, taking advantage of the beautiful morning before it was consumed by the sweltering heat of the afternoon sun. I’m not sure how far I ran, but it was a leisurely 40 minute adventure through my new neighborhood. It made me realize how much I miss running. In the past I have run many races, including a half-marathon in the Fall of 2008. I’m not in any sort of shape to compete, however; it is something I desperately want to get back in to.

When I got back to my quaint apartment, I made the most refreshing green monster smoothie. My smoothie was composed of: 1 large frozen banana, 5 ice cubes, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, 1 scoop GREEN Superfood, cinnamon, 1 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, 2 handfuls of spinach and 1 cup vanilla soy milk.

For some reason it was thicker than usual, and completely rejuvenated me after my run. Shortly after I enjoyed a crisp Jonagold Apple as I read through old food magazines on my floor while waiting for the delivery truck to arrive with my futon. They told me they would arrive sometime between 10:30am and 1:30pm. Good thing I had a bunch of paper sorting to do and didn’t mind being home-bound for the time.

The delivery men came around 11:30am and finished assembling my futon just in time for lunch. I got a bit creative with the contents of my fridge and made a wrap with lots of Cedar’s Original Hummus, feta cheese, grape tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, spinach, cucumber, carrots, button mushrooms and hot sauce. I also had the other half of my navel orange from the previous night’s dinner. My sweet tooth was calling me and I had a piece of dark chocolate almond bark for dessert.

After lunch I headed to the mall. I had ANOTHER appointment at the Apple store to “Meet My Mac” and learn some of the basics of using my new computer. I went a bit early with hopes of using the mall Wi-Fi to post my blog, but the slow connection failed me. I snacked on a PB&J Larabar and Grande Ice Coffee with Soy Milk while feeling completely defeated.

After my appointment I came home to make a semi-real dinner. Using my resources, I marinated some shrimp in BBQ sauce and grilled them on my panini maker. I also assembled a broccoli slaw using 2 cups of pre-made broccoli slaw blend mixed with a sauce composed of 2 TBS Plain Greek Yogurt, juice of 1/4 a lemon, 1 TBS Dijon mustard, cracked black pepper, a few dashes of Sriracha hot sauce and topped with ~1/4 cup garbanzo beans. This was such a refreshing meal for a hot evening and I enjoyed it with a glass of Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve 2008 Chardonnay.

Dessert was exceptional. I have been loving the juicy and sweet strawberries this season and wanted to incorporate them into dessert. I ran out of vanilla ice cream but I found a Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt in my freezer. I let it defrost a bit and topped it with fresh strawberries and MaraNtha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread.

I’m realizing with all of these new changes in my life that there are some great expenses. During college, I never had to worry about paying rent, a gas bill, internet/cable bill and a food bill. I have always paid for grocery store items, however; I did have a meal plan so it wasn’t a burdensome bill. I’ve always had car and cell phone expenses, but after factoring in all of these additional expenses I starred at my bank account and financial spreadsheet dumbfounded by the reality that I am broke. I know everyone struggles at some point to “make ends meet” so to speak, but it has forced me to reconsider my spending. I’m not a big shopper when it comes to clothes, shoes and accessories but when it comes to food and food related products I tend to throw my money at it. Honestly, there is no real reason that I spend $2 on a snack bar or $9 on a nut butter jar other than curiosity and a love of food. I’m not going to stop eating the things I enjoy, I just need to make sure that I am being a bit more economical.

My internship position is full-time, requiring me to be in the office from 8am-5pm Monday-Friday.  I want to have time after work to do things I enjoy such as exercising, reading and socializing, therefore; in order to avoid eating dinner at 9pm every night or spending unnecessary money on take out, I need to start meal planning, making things ahead of time and getting creative with leftovers.

My blog writings this summer are going to revolve around the mentality of planning healthy, sensible and easy to prepare meals.

Economically Minded,

Nora

What are ways that you save money at the grocery store? Do you create “make-ahead” meals?

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