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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

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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I have been slightly “missing in action” from my blog, however; I have been enjoying my last few days of college. This evening my friends and I made a simple and delicious meal to share together and have a relaxing evening. We started with a chilled glass of Arctic Fox wine, a salad of mixed greens, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and blue cheese dressed in raspberry-cherry vinaigrette and pesto pasta with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and Italian sausage. I think that pasta dishes are the perfect option for a dinner party. They are affordable, crowd pleasing and easy to prepare. Stuck in the kitchen is the last place you want to be when company arrives!

For dessert we used my favorite boxed brownie mix from Ghiradelli. I had a Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream and a homemade raspberry sauce. I love this mix because it is so decadent and rich! The best part: I only have to mix a few ingredients together and put it in the oven for 45 minutes. It is so easy and feels extravagant!

It wasn’t a fancy or complicated meal, but it was extremely thoughtful and nice to share among friends. I love cooking great meals for one, but there is nothing like enjoying good food in good company. It soothes both the body and the soul.

In recent news, I found an apartment aka a hole to call  my own and I will be moving on Friday! I have never had a place all to myself and I have to admit that it is a bit strange. My new apartment is in an older building and not by any means what I would consider “nice”, however; it does have a small bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living area with an affordable 3 month lease. I’m not sure what I will be doing after August, so I was unable to commit to a nicer place with a typical 6-12 month lease. Even though it’s not the best, at least it is something. I’ll be sure to post some pictures once I have brightened the space up a bit.

Next Steps,

Nora

What are your favorite “ready-made” meals?

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I wasn’t planning on writing another post today, but I ate some food that HAD to be written about. First up Dr. Kracker Klassic 3 Seed Snackers. I mean, just look at them. These satisfied every crunchy,  carby, nutty craving I was having. Where have these been my whole life? I had a serving of these babies with dinner tonight (dinner was too messy to be picture worthy but was a big HUGE salad with a base of mixed greens and spinach, sliced button mushrooms, 1 large carrot shredded, 1/2 a medium roasted beet, 1 golden beet, 1/3 block tempeh, cucumber, clover sprouts, and asparagus dressed with a red wine vinaigrette if you were wondering) and I think they were the highlight of my meal! I loved the sesame and sunflower seeds that are fused on top, they give the cracker amazing flavor. Honestly, these are so decadent that I think I would prefer these crackers naked. No cheese, no hummus, just the good old cracker. Wait…I take it back, I bet jam would be AMAZING on these!

Next my dessert. What is this monstrosity you ask?  I call this dish “Hot Mess”, which would be ~3/4 cup chunky natural apple sauce mixed with cinnamon, 1 chopped medjool date, ~1 TBS Maranatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread, and a Big Scoop of Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt. I heated everything together, and finished it with the cool and creamy yogurt. I didn’t really need dessert but I was cold, and this just sounded amazing. I love warm apple sauce and the date gets extremely soft, “melt in your mouth” if you will, and sweet. The Greek yogurt played with the sweet flavors and warmth perfectly. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go back for a tad more before settling down for the night ;).  Simple throw togethers like this make me happy.

Fun Life Facts: Because I am a loser, I tend to eat dinner at my desk. Not the most ideal setting but it meant that I was able to catch up with my mom via Facebook Chat. Yes, ladies and gentleman, my mom has a Facebook page. And, I happen to LOVE IT!  Technology is an amazing tool to stay connected. The other day was my cat’s (Rose) birthday. Naturally she created an album complete with 5 whole pictures to document the occasion filled with captions such as, and I quote: “Ah, you feed me too well. Just look at my tummy. People are beginning to mistake me for Garfield!” I love my mom! Things like this really make me miss home. Good thing she is just a phone call, or Facebook chat away!

Stolen from my mom's Facebook. THANKS MOM!

Staying Connected,

Nora

What types of technology do you mainly use to stay in touch and connect with people?

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Whew! What a day. I’m not even entirely sure how I still have an ounce of energy left, but with that ounce I must blog.

I arrived home around 7pm to the wonderful smell of our charcoal grill and dinner was underway. My dad prepared some POM cosmopolitans, and we chatted away outside while he cooked the pork tenderloin. My mom was hard at work in the kitchen assembling steamed asparagus and a mixed green salad: mixed greens, mandarin oranges, strawberries, sliced almonds, blue cheese and cherry-raspberry vinaigrette. I love the family aspect of making dinner. It is so much fun when everyone shares in its preparation, relaxing and enjoyable. My dad also paired our dinner with a Diseno Malbec.

Grilling  is one of my favorite things to do in the summer time. I think EVERYHING tastes better on the grill, especially on charcoal because it enhances the meat’s flavor. The pork was perfectly cooked with a slightly pink center.  Good work dad! The wine choice went really well with the meat. Diseno is dryer than most Malbecs I’ve had but has a nice smokey flavor with cherry undertones. My mom’s side dishes were so fresh and clean. I love the combination of fruit and blue cheese on salads.

Dessert was my contribution to the meal. I brought home a slice of Mixed-Berry Open Faced Tart from the bakery. It was so nice to share something from work with my parents! It was crisp and delicious!

After dessert I had the urge to plan for breakfast tomorrow morning. My mom is making cupcakes to take to lunch with our extended family, so I decided to get a jump on my cooking  around 9pm so that I wouldn’t be in her way in the morning. I couldn’t decide between biscotti and carrot cake muffins, so I made both. The biscotti were the Holiday Biscotti that I made around Christmas time and contain pistachios, dried cranberries and dried apricots. My family likes biscotti and cappuccino on Sunday after breakfast, and loved these the last time I made them so I thought it would be a nice addition. Easter reminds me of carrot cake and it is essential that I make some form of it. I decided on carrot cake muffins. I somewhat made the recipe up, so hopefully they will taste okay!My second wind just ended, and I am beat! Time for bed!

Happy Easter,

Nora

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I made it home today safe and sound. It is still a chilly 35 degrees here, but the sun is shining and the sky is perfectly blue, so no complaints! On my way home I picked up a loaf of  Pecan Raisin Sourdough for my parents at the bakery: I love this bread. Over the summer, I was able to sample it  a few times as the bakers perfected the recipe. Now that they have it down, it is a “weekend” bread that they make from scratch on Saturday. I got there around 8:30 am to pick out the perfect loaf and say goodbye to my coworkers before heading home. I’m only an hour and a half away, so the bread was extremely fresh and delectable when I got home. The crust still had the perfect crunch and the inside was soft and flavorful. HEAVENLY! My parents and I toasted up some slices, sipped on coffee (decaf..it’s still Lent, but I feel so great being caffeine free!)  and caught up. After doing massive amounts of laundry and running errands with my dad, I snacked on a  Banana Bread LaraBar.I love Larabars, but was not so impressed with this one. It has dates, banana and almonds, and I think it would have a much better taste if they used walnuts. I brought home some PB&J Larabars for my NYC car ride on Tuesday,  so I was happy to try this one today.

I was so tired from the drive and have had very little sleep in the past few days so I decided to take a nap….well, in all honesty I fell asleep watching the Syracuse Basketball game on TV. I was so comfortable my eyes naturally shut! When I woke up, my brother came home and we went to church . It is always nice coming home and going to church, it reminds me of my childhood and humbles me, making me feel grateful for the life I have. After church we had our usual family birthday dinner. We started with warm bread with a dipping oil, a bottle of Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon and a Maytag Blue Cheese Salad with mixed greens, red grapes, walnuts and balsamic:

Lapostolle (you can see the dipping oil but we finished the bread so no picture)

Always have to smell the cork

Maytag Blue Cheese Salad

The bread was warm with a soft interior and crunchy exterior,  just how I like it. This wine was especially good with the blue cheese. It was a very dry Cabernet, and you could detect oak, red currents and blackberries in its scent. After reading the bottle, I discovered that this wine is aged for 10 months in small oak barrels. The salad was not so great. I’ve been to this restaurant before and have had better. The greens were wilted and overdressed. It was overly concentrated with blue cheese and had only a few pieces of grapes and walnuts. Despite this disappointment all of my woes were carried away when my main course came out: Grilled Harpooned Swordfish with garlic mashed potatoes, ratatoullie and a port wine reduction.

Pretty Plating

The swordfish was so tender, and succulent. The hearty, yet light flavors of the garlic mashed potatoes and the delicate ratitoullie garnish worked wonders with the meaty fish. Surrounding the meal was a port reduction, which was the perfect “sweet” component for the savory dish. I finished every last bite, and could not have been more pleased with my order!

Earlier in the day we decided to get desserts from our local grocery store so we could enjoy dessert at home and open gifts. I decided to get a Mixed Berry Trifle and my brother  Peanut Butter Cup Pie:Hers

His

As good as the dessert menu at the restaurant sounded, I was happy to come home, put sweat pants on and relax a bit before dessert. My dessert had a layer of chocolate cake topped with chcoolate pudding, whipped cream and fresh berries. The cake part was not too heavy, and absorbed the chocolate pudding. I was happy that the main element of this dessert was cream because  I am all “cake-ed” out from my birthday week. My brother isn’t really a dessert person (I know sad, but he didn’t inherit my sweet tooth or love of food.) so we decided on these desserts intead of a  birthday cake. Plus, my entire extended family is coming over tomorrow for MORE celebrations and my mom ordered our usual cakes (mine: Strawberry Whipped Cream, Brothers: Chocolate Chocolate ButterCream), so this was a good way to mix up my nightly cake ritual.

I’m SO stuffed! Off to bed then yoga with my mom in the morning. I’ll be sure to post tomorrow, and won’t forget to add a picture of the strawberry whipped cream cake I have been taking about!!

Glad to be Back,

Nora

What is your favorite part about coming home?

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