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Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

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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I’m not sure what my deal is but I am having the HARDEST time focusing on my exam. I think it is a combination of uninteresting material and the thoughts of finishing school looming in my head. I have been doing work at a snail’s pace, finding things to distract me left and right. Initially, I had planned to go to 4pm Vinyasa yoga as my “stress relief” after a long day of sitting and working, but I did not get enough done and my mind would have been wandering during the class. I like to go to yoga as a release but if I’m not mentally present during a class it defeats the point.

Anyways, I got to the bookstore promptly when it opened at 10am. Since I would be eating a lunch from home, I decided to be a paying customer and purchased a medium not-fat hazelnut latte. I’m also addicted and the warm, sweet beverage and it fueled a few hours of studying. I wasn’t starving for lunch, but my lack of focus caused me to break into my lunch box around 11:55am. I needed something to distract me /get me through some of my readings. I am such a study snacker. A few hours later I finally broke down and purchased a decaf coffee (I can’t handle THAT much caffeine in a day, but wanted coffee flavor and warmth) with a Kind Fruit and Nut Delight Bar. These are my absolute favorite! I saw them at the register while I was waiting for my latte and couldn’t get them off my mind.  I know from the past if I am thinking about a specific food instead of the material I am reading that I NEED to have it in order to refocus. Plus a snack that is sweet, nutty, crunchy and chewy….hello, ULTIMATE STUDY FOOD!

Side Notes:

1) I drank about a liter of water to sooth my throat during my during my book store camp out. Along with 2 medium coffees and my green monster–let’s just say I think people were starting to assume I had some issues. I literally had to get up, ask someone to watch my computer and walk to the restroom at least 6 times. At least I’m hydrated.

2) Each time I walked to the restroom, I passed by the cook book section, more specifically Martha Stewart’s Cupcake book, and realized that all I really want to do in life is bake, cook, read and write. You can expect billions of foodie things in my post-graduation state.

3) When I got home I noticed that I spilled coffee down my light gray shirt. I have also been sporting the “slicked back ponytail” look all day, so I must have been looking pretty fine.

Oy. I can’t wait for the college lifestyle to be over.

All day long I was subjected to coffee-house smells of dark roast coffee and warm egg and cheddar sandwiches. I have been craving eggs for a few days now but keep  having “food swings”, changing my meal decision each time I go to make them. Since I literally sat in the cafe area for the entire day, the craving finally stuck and I went home to make a basic cheddar, mushroom and broccoli omelet with a spinach, celery, sprout and strawberry salad and half an orange. I usually make egg white omelets but for some reason I love the pairing of egg yolk and cheddar cheese, so I made a two egg omelet. My throat is still a bit scratchy so I wanted something fresh and cool on the side. I randomly had half of an orange in the fridge, perfect for some extra vitamin c!

For dessert I had a Chocolate Chobani Champions topped with raspberry jam, roasted almonds and Kopali chocolate covered cacao nibs. I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate variety. For some reason it is semi-liquefied, a little too sweet and not chocolaty enough for me. Although, it did taste great with these toppings!

I’m back to the books, but think I need to get to sleep early tonight. I haven’t been sleeping regularly because I can’t stop thinking about how much work I have to do. I just have to keep telling myself that I only have one more week of this.

Slowly But Surely,

Nora

What are your study (or work)  skills/ habits?

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It’s official. I am in a breakfast rut. My oat comeback yesterday must have been a fake out because this morning I was craving a green monster and granola. I wasn’t planning on having ANOTHER smoothie this morning, but when cravings call I answer. This is possibly the most uninteresting breakfast to photograph, and I realize how repulsive the green looks but I promise you it really hits the spot. I find that my breakfast cravings tend to reflect the way I am feeling. I had a late night with friends yesterday, which left me dragging when I woke up this morning. Green smoothies are the perfect remedy when I am feeling lethargic upon waking. They are light, yet pack tons of essential nutrition and have an “energizing” effect. In to my blender: 1 large frozen banana, 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, 3 ice cubes, 1 scoop Chocolate Whey Protein, 1 scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfood, 1 cup vanilla soy milk, ~2-3 cups of spinach. I topped my bowl with some Galaxy Granola and raw almonds. I’m glad I have a few deep soup bowls because this smoothie yields over 3 cups!

To add to my lameness, I had another Jonagold and coffee before heading to class. I’m starting to feel like a lame food blogger. I’m in need of some creativity!

Dinner last night was a quick throw together with my roommate. I love cooking, but sometimes it is nice to dig into the depths of your fridge and make a 3 minute plate of food. I ended up having a “Semi-Greek Salad” which consisted of HUGE plate of spinach (I was having a major spinach craving after a green free day haha!) topped with a toasted Boca burger, lots of Cedar’s Garlic Lovers Hummus, pita chips, cucumber, red bell pepper, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and sprouts. After dinner I broke into….EASTER CANDY!! Remember my second bunny?

Last seen.

Well, it no longer has a back pack to carry all of its yummy carrots in. I also made a dent in my peanut M&Ms. What remains:

Hopefully my eats will progressively become more interesting through out the day! Tonight I am going to an “etiquette” dinner with my roommate. Our friends who cooked us dinner a few days ago are in a fraternity, and one of their projects is to host a nice dinner and learn table manners! Somewhat random but naturally, I love this concept. I’m not positive who my “date” will be, but it will be interesting to be educated the traditional ways of fine dining. When it comes to etiquette, I think that stopping to take photos is probably a no-no (whoops!) but I’ll see what I can do with my sneaky iphone photo taking skills!

Happy Friday,

Nora

What do you do when you are in a food rut? Do you go with it or try new and creative things?

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Today was a day filled with inspiration. At yoga, the instructor’s mother recently passed away and she spent the class reflecting on the way she reacts to difficult situations. She recognized that during tough times she has certain habits that she falls into, and she is able to recognize them and let them be. She noted a moment when she visited  Uganda a few years back. She planned the trip, arrived there but didn’t really experience the trip until the group she was with visited a local orphanage. That moment rocked her world, and as her partners were getting ready to go to the next agenda item she knew she had to stay behind. She did all of the things that made her feel grounded: called home to talked with loved ones, ordered room service and a glass of wine, and ordered more room service for chocolate ice cream. She joked that she tends to turn to chocolate, and realized this as she was on her 8th chocolate chip cookie yesterday. She stressed that we all go to different places when our worlds are altered but the important thing is that we recognize our reactions and let it be.  Towards the end of class she played a song that a family friend recorded for her to, “Alleluia” after hearing of her mom’s passing. It was the most beautiful rendition I have ever heard, I started to tear up. It took me to such an emotional place. Her words and attitude were so motivating, it was what I needed to hear.

After yoga I went to the grocery store. I saw some of my co-workers and purchased a few items. When I walked by the golden beets yesterday at work, I knew I had to make a roasted beet salad. I happened to have a  loaf of Twisted Root Bread (dark German malted barley) find it’s way into my cart when I dropped by the bakery. We seriously have the best bakers and the most amazing bread where I work. This bread is made from scratch every day and has the most wonderful malt flavor. It is one of my favorite breads that we carry. Because it is made from scratch everyday, it always looks a bit different depending on who makes it. It looked absolutely perfect today and I knew I had to get it to accompany my salad.

I was pretty hungry on my way home and snacked on a big Jonagold Apple. When I got home I was craving  a smoothie in a bowl for lunch. This bowl has: 1 large frozen banana, 5 frozen strawberries, 1 heaping scoop of chocolate whey protein, 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 handfuls of spinach and topped with Galaxy Vanilla Almond Granola and extra Almonds. I needed some study snacks so I heated Medjool Dates with Peanut Butter and Almond Butter. Why have I never tried this? I almost died and went to heaven! The almond butter was my favorite and I may have gone back for more :). I have a snacking problem when I have lots of work to do. I acknowledge this, but it helps me focus. I had another plate of strawberries, frozen bananas and frozen cherries with almond butter. There were definitely more snacks in there but nothing picture worthy.

When dinner time crept up (seriously where did my day go?), I decided to start on my creation: Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Chevre Goat Cheese, Toasted Hazelnuts and Twisted Root Bread with a Lemon-Basil vinaigrette. I used 1 medium beet and 1 medium golden beet. ~ 1 TBS chopped toasted hazelnuts, ~1 oz Chevre Goat Cheese, and dressed the salad and bread with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and ciffonade of basil leaves. Magical things happened when I added the homemade dressing. It was light but made the beets even more buttery and the toasted bread the perfect texture. I had a tiny glass of paper writing inspiration Spanish Quarter Cabernet Sauvignon with my meal. DELICIOUS. Reason number 1 why I am not a typical college student: I dream of/eat things like this and cherish a good glass of wine to match my food. But hey I AM TOTALLY fine with that!!

Dessert: ACTTACK OF CHOCOLATE EATER BUNNY NUMBER 2 (finished Mr. Chocolate Almond Bunny)

Before

After

I’m cruel, what can I say? I still have to finish my paper but it is shaping up! I just grabbed a few more of those dates to help me get through it :).  For once in my life I am excited for Monday to come. New week….bring it on!

New Beginnings,

Nora

What is your favorite “simple but elegant” meal?

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Mediterranean style dishes are among my favorites to eat during the summer months. I love the fresh flavors and the lightness of olive oil and fresh herbs in dishes. On of my favorite cold salads that my mom makes all summer long is Ina Garten’s  Shrimp and Orzo Salad, full of fresh flavors like dill, parsley and feta cheese. Since I started my day as “throwback Thursday”, I might as well end it similarly.

For dinner tonight I made a simple cold orzo salad filled with spinach, asparagus, red bell pepper, tomato, sliced kalamata olives and cucumber and topped with seared lemon-thyme shrimp and roasted broccoli. I also had a glass of Spanish Quarter Cabernet-Sauvignon on the side.

Orzo:

Bring 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add 1/2 cup orzo pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes.

-Strain the pasta and run under cold water. Place in a medium-sized bowl and add 1/2 TBS olive oil and 1/2 TBS white wine vinegar and toss to coat. Add chopped asparagus (about 2 large stalks) red bell pepper (about 1/4), Roma tomato (about 1/2), kalamata olives (about 5 sliced), cucumber  and torn spinach.

-Top with feta cheese, shrimp and roasted broccoli to serve.

Lemon-Thyme Shrimp

-Defrost 8-10 medium sized shrimp (or use fresh whatever you have access to). Coat with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, cracked back pepper and finely chopped thyme.

-In a small saute pan heat olive oil and garlic. When garlic slightly browns add shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes per side.

-Remove shrimp and place on top of pasta.


This was a fantastic and simple dinner. I had ended up having about 3/4 of the pasta mixture (I forgot how much 1/2 a cup of dried pasta ends up being!) and saved the other part for a nice salad topper or side dish for tomorrows lunch! After dinner I had multiple desserts. I started with one of my new samples from Chobani: Chocolate Greek Yogurt. I received a sample of their Champions line in the mail today and have been dying to try the chocolate flavor. It was delicious! It still has the sour taste of Greek yogurt with a slight cacao flavor. It was a bit too sweet for me but delicious nonetheless. When I finished I needed a real chocolate fix. The yogurt was good but I wanted more of a true chocolate flavor. Another Mr. Chocolate Bunny Attack ensued, along with a mini chocolate egg that was in the basket. What can I say, I really love chocolate!

Last we saw.

Became this at one point.

What remains. officially one bite left!

I am beyond stuffed at this point. Good food for a dreary night.

Happy Almost Weekend,

Nora

SIDE NOTE: I took a picture of my dinner with my iphone, thus the poor quality. I was in the comfort of my own apartment with access to a camera but decided against snapping a photo. My room-mate was also making dinner and doesn’t know about my blog. I am a very open person, my family follows my blog and I have told some of my co-workers, however; my friends have a negative connotation associated with the blog world, so I refrain from telling them. When I mentioned my juicer purchase to my room-mate she ridiculed me for it. Every time I “plate” a dish in her presence I get funny looks, and when I speak of my breakfast I get a “I don’t eat breakfast, and if I do then I just grab fruit or something easy…why do you bother?” reaction. In the past when I have documented food at restaurants I receive similar ridicule, so typically it is just easier not to explain my blog to my friends.

Do you openly discuss your blog? Thoughts? I blog because it is what I believe in, and no one would change that for me. In fact if anyone read the New York Times Dining section yesterday, there are LOTS of people who document their food. One of my favorite sentiments in the article was “In the unconscious mind, food equals love because food is our deepest and earliest connection with our caretaker.” People also mentioned that they liked to show off what they are eating and share it with others.  Ultimately the two most important things in my life family and food. I like to share my discoveries, comfort and love of food with those I am closest to because it represents an element of care.  Okay, sorry for the rant.  CHECK OUT THE NY TIMES LINK!!

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After lunch today, I professed my love to my panini maker. Trust me, if you had this grilled vegetable, goat cheese and hummus wrap for lunch you wouldn’t think it was odd to talk to a kitchen appliance either. Last night I tossed baby eggplant, red bell pepper, portabella mushroom strips and asparagus in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon and cracked black pepper and grilled them on my panini machine. I had some leftover, so I decided to throw them in a wrap with goat cheese, hummus, and spinach. It was such a nice combination. I am a goat cheese fanatic and love when it is slightly warm and creamy. Grilling the tortilla makes it nice and crispy; a perfect vessel for the soft texture of my fillings. On the side I had cedar’s original hummus and a large carrot sliced for dipping. I also had an unpictured apple and more of Mr. Chocolate Almond Bunny for dessert.

Days are numbered.

After my attacking Mr. Chocolate Almond Bunny,  I received and email to pick up a package at the campus post office. What could it be? I have been expecting contacts (that were supposed to come a week ago…I’m not going to get into that) but it was something even better, MY BREVILLE JUICER!I really should re-name this post to “My Obsession With Kitchen Appliances”. I was so excited when I picked this up. I placed my order a few weeks ago after wanting to make juice for MONTHS. I work at the bakery tomorrow evening, so I’m going to pick up some organic produce afterward. When I spoke to Mario Lopez **(he wrote this about juicing for my blog)** he suggested using organic produce so you avoid the occurrence of chemicals in your juice.  I can’t even express how much I am looking forward to using this baby!

Fun Gadgets,

Nora

What is your favorite kitchen appliance/cookware?

What should my first juice combination be?

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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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