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Disaster

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 ran out of time to write a post this morning, however; the pictures were so beautiful that I wanted to share. Breakfast today was inspired by Caitlin and my new Farmer’s Market Honey, ‘Honey I Love You’. I love this name, it’s so clever!

In my bowl: 1/2 cup raw rolled oatmeal, 1/4 cup pumpkin, 1/2 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, ~1-2 TBS chopped walnuts, 1 banana, drizzle of honey and cinnamon.

This was a delicious hearty breakfast for a warm summer morning. I really liked the use of raw oats mixed with the yogurt and pumpkin, it gave off a granola-esque feel. As my flower bowl indicates, it’s bound to be a bright, bright sunshiny day! Enjoy!

And I’m Off,

Nora

Dinner tonight was something that I had been dreaming about all day: Grilled Brown Sugar Barbecue Salmon, Grilled Corn on the Cob and Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Feta Cheese. Before I get into the details, let me just say that this meal was heaven on my palate.

During the Summer I have uncontrollable cravings for barbecue sauce. When the weather breaks the 80 degree mark I simply cannot get enough barbecue sauce in my life. I went to the grocery store last night to do a quick “in-and-out” trip to pick up a few staples for the week (is it even possible to do a quick grocery store trip?). Per-usual, I ended up doing a few laps around the store to browse all of the wonderful products that I did not need to buy. My eye caught a new Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce and temptation struck. I did not need the sauce but my mind started going wild with thoughts of beautiful grilled dishes that it would be PERFECT for. I couldn’t resist, I was sold.

I think that salmon is a fish that is enhanced by just a touch of sweetness. One of my favorite ways to prepare salmon is with a mixture of whole-grain Dijon mustard and honey. I thought that a brown sugar barbecue sauce would have a similar flare and decided that the first way I wanted to use my new sauce was paired with this succulent fish.

I pre-heated my grill pan (and coated with non-stick cooking spray) to a medium heat and brushed one side of my fish with a light coating of an herb-infused olive oil. I placed the fish in my grill pan olive oil coated side down and waited about 3 minutes until the color slightly changed and it had a light, crispy coating. I brushed the top side with the oil before flipping and continued to cook the fish until it reached the internal temperature of 130 degrees (I use an electronic meat thermometer. I find when you cook your protein to the proper temperature that it has the perfect flavor and consistency.) When the fish was done cooking I brushed the top side with an even coat of the barbecue sauce.

My fish was moist on the inside with a good crunch on the outside. The barbecue sauce was a nice compliment to the fish and it was love at first bite–brown sugar barbecue sauce + salmon= match made in heaven.

For my corn I simply coated each side in a light layer of my herb infused oil and grilled it for about 10 minutes (start the corn before the fish!), turning every few minutes.

My cucumber-tomato salad was simple yet elegant. I used about 1/2 of a cucumber sliced into 1/4 inch pieces and quartered, and a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes. I drizzled the mixture with in olive oil, white wine vinegar and cracked black pepper and tossed to coat. I finished this salad with feta cheese. It was cool, crisp and sweet; an easy and refreshing summer salad combination.

I paired my meal with my new favorite summertime wine: Kendall-Jackson 2008 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. I have found that this wine works nicely with grilled foods, especially ones incorporating a garlic based barbecue sauce 🙂 .

YUM.

Lately the  the recipe section of my brain has been going wild.  I have a few new things I want to try in the next few days so stay tuned!

Inspired,

Nora

What is your favorite sauce?

Backwards

Is it just me or does today feel like a Monday? The holiday weekend threw me for a loop and I found myself running around my apartment this morning remembering the 10 billion things I had to do before I went into my internship at 8am. This time crunch left me little time to prepare breakfast and lunch so I went with a couple of easy go-to solutions.

For breakfast I had the heartiest portable breakfast that I know: A Green Monster Protein Smoothie. I use: 1 large frozen banana, 1 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, cinnamon, 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 5 ice cubes and ~2 cups of organic baby spinach. I know that this isn’t the prettiest looking thing, but these smoothies are delicious and satisfying. To be perfectly honest, it is basically a peanut butter, banana and chocolate smoothie that I add spinach to. The spinach is oddly refreshing and it never hurts to get some energizing greens in!My lunch was a bit lackluster, but it works. Usually my wraps are so large that I have trouble closing them, this one was a little…well, flat and crumbly. I packed a sprouted grain wrap with hummus, spinach, alfalfa sprouts and grape tomatoes, an Empire apple and an AllieBar.
I like the Ezekiel sprouted grain products, but these wraps do not hold up as well as other whole wheat varieties that I have tried. In an effort to use what I have and save money, I want to finish the bread/wraps in my freezer before making my next purchase.

In other news, I have a confession. Yesterday afternoon I dusted off an old friend:This little beauty has been hanging in the rafters of my garage for about 2 years now. I was a competitive swimmer for my entire life (I stopped after my sophomore year of college) and took up running after I retired from my swimming career. I entered several running competitions, including a half-marathon in the Fall of 2008. I had ambitions of entering a triathlon and received a road bike for my birthday. I rode it a handful of times but alas, my life went in another direction and storage/time to ride became complications that prevented me from training.

My dad helped me fill the tires and she’s good to go! I’m not making any commitments just yet, but I am debating entering a triathlon. I need to make sure that I train properly and learn proper nutrition for the training/competition. I did not prepare properly for my half-marathon a few years back, and it definitely took a toll on my body. That experience taught me the importance of proper training and listening to your body.

On The Go,

Nora

Have you ever trained for a competition? What advice/training did you follow?

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?

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?

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?