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Posts Tagged ‘Dessert’

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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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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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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Graduation Dinner

Graduation Day is finally here. In a few short hours I will be dressed in a gaudy gown and tasseled cap, taking a final walk down the center of our academic quad to receive my diploma.  It has been a long four years but I feel ready to exit this institution and embrace the future with a brain full of knowledge and a strong sense of self. As I sit in my half-empty dorm room reflecting and writing (my final paper if you will), I can only think of how lucky I am. I have been afforded incredible opportunities by my loving and supportive parents, and do not take any of them for granted. THANK YOU MOM AND DAD, I LOVE YOU!

Yesterday afternoon, my parents and twin brother came to help me move from “dorm life to real life”. We spent much of the afternoon packing up my cluttered college apartment and transporting my belongings to my charming one-bedroom.  (I’ll use ‘charming’  as an operative word for rundown. Pictures soon!). We had a light lunch at a cafe near my little hole-in-the-wall and later went to one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate the end of my college career and the beginning of my professional life. I love this restaurant because their menu incorporates local and seasonal items. Their dishes are all fresh, clean and decadent!

To start, I had one of their signature martini’s made with limoncello, a small piece of house made baguette and a mixed green salad topped with goat cheese (I REALLY love goat cheese and immediately started eating. I was about half way through when this picture was taken!)

My main course was a daily special: pan-seared halibut with spring vegetables, fava beans and a tarragon, mint and Meyer lemon sauce. I enjoyed this with a lovely glass of white Burgundy, which provided a perfect balance to the sweetness in the dish.

PERFECTION!

Before moving to dessert, I want to take a moment to share my brother’s meal: the prime rib.

It was an enormous piece of meat and he thoroughly enjoyed it!

We split three desserts between the four of us: Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Sorbet, Strawberry Genoise with Vanilla Butter Cream and Rhubarb Sorbet, and their signature Creme Brulee served in a chocolate bowl.

I LOVE DESSERT! Everything was delicious, but their creme brulee is out of this world! It is not typically my dessert of choice but it is hard to say no when something served in a chocolate bowl. This restaurant has perfected their craft and the creme brulee remains my favorite. They served it with a side of blueberries and chocolate chip cookies. I wasn’t able to get a full picture of the chocolate almond cake before it was devoured, but you can see the small portion on my plate. It was a rich bite and the almond flavor was pleasantly potent. The genoise was similar to a white wedding cake and extremely dense. My favorite part about that dessert was the  Rhubarb sorbet that came on the side. It was tart, sweet and light which provided a nice contrast to the extravagant cake.

It was such a treat to see my family and share this incredible food with them. I can’t believe my time here has finally come to an end. The next time I write I will officially be a college graduate.

New Beginnings,

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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Did I really just complete my undergraduate college education? Ladies and gentleman, at 4pm this afternoon I emerged from the confines of my minuscule apartment looking half-human and walked to campus to hand in my last college paper ever. It still hasn’t hit me yet. Do I really not have any readings to do? Tests to study for? Papers to write? As I sit in my room and type this I am in disbelief  that the past four years have finally come to an end.  It has been an interesting ride to say the least. The knowledge I have gained at this institution expands far beyond the classroom. I have learned a lot about myself and have grown tremendously. I have to take a moment here to pause and thank my parents.

Mom and Dad- Thank you so much for every opportunity you have provided me with. I am so grateful to have your love and support in my life. The road hasn’t always been easy, but you never stopped having faith in me and I appreciate that more than you will ever know. Thank you for never doubting me and encouraging me to pursue my interests. You are my best friends and every day I truly feel lucky to have you in my life. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

On to my day:

Today was such a scramble. I’m always such a mess during finals week between little sleep, weird eating and stressful studying. I’m glad that this marks the end of it! I started today around 7am and was under lock and key paper writing in my apartment until 3:30pm. I literally moved from my floor (everything was spread out on my floor…I couldn’t sit at my desk anymore!) to the kitchen all day long and finally sat in bed for some final editing and to provide relief to my numb “bottom” that suffered from my harsh floor all day. Yeah, it wasn’t a fun time.

Breakfast was exactly what I was craving: Berry Oats. Last night for dessert I had some luscious local strawberries with MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread.

I knew that I needed to have these again for breakfast, so I made a big bowl of oats for breakfast with strawberries and blackberries.Into my bowl:

Base: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 sliced banana, 2 tsp chia seeds, cinnamon, vanilla extract.

Toppings: ~1/4 cup Chobani Greek yogurt (last of it!), 3 strawberries, handful of blackberries and almond butter.

This was SO delicious. I really liked the melted Greek yogurt on top. It made my bowl so creamy and I loved the sour contrast with the berries. When I get more yogurt, I’m going to incorporate it into my warm oats more often!

This is the only meal that I was 100% certain of all day. As I got into paper writing the rest of my food was completely random and consisted of “I can’t focus, go make food” dishes. They were all consumed sporadically between the hours of 10am and 3pm. I really hate mindlessly eating, I never feel wonderful when I do and today was no exception. My stomach was…let’s just say a bit bubbly, but it got me through the day. I’ll try to categorize as best I can the randomness of food:

Morning Snack: Jonagold Apple with Almond Butter.

“Lunch”:

Lunch was a compilation of everything in my room/fridge/freezer that I could think to put together. I’m not sure what time this all actually took place, but I think it was a few hours after breakfast when I was getting into the really tedious part of my paper. I spotted a Luna Cookie Dough Protein Bar and decided I needed a little cookie dough to chug through more work. I ate half of it before lunch and the other half later in the day. Shortly after I decided that I needed to refocus and make myself a snack. I went back into my kitchen and prepared a plate of watermelon and pineapple. I wasn’t full and it was almost lunch time so after maybe 30 minutes I went back into the kitchen to make some real food. Remember that Multigrain bread I picked up at the bakery a while ago? Well it also comes in a Multigrain Currant variety(be still my heart, I’m in love with this bread), and I happened to have a few pieces in my freezer from a long, long time ago 🙂 . The pictures above are a before and after shot. I topped my toast with some natural crunchy peanut butter. After I made my toast, I thought to myself, “Nora, you can not live on nut butters, fruit and carbs alone.” And decided to make a plate of sautéed spinach topped with a runny fried egg, extra sharp cheddar cheese and hot sauce. Maybe I should just call this breakfast number two! It was so delicious, and held me nicely through the majority of my paper writing! I really love the combination of egg yolk and extra sharp cheddar cheese, it is so creamy and flavorful!

I finally completed the bulk of my writing around 2pm and determined I needed some editing food.I needed some greens so I made a mini “sludge” monster with 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk, 5 ice cubes, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop Amazing Grass GREEN Superfood, 1 heaping TBS Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa, and a big bunch of spinach. It looks like sludge, and wasn’t as good as my protein packed monsters, but it was still refreshing. After this freezing beverage I needed something warm so I microwaved a Medjool date with almond butter and cinnamon. I microwaved another unpictured date with just cinnamon after this. Still not satisfied, and now wanting chocolate, I used a random (embarrassing purchase… my campus store sells them so I picked up a bag a while ago.) rice cake as a vessel for MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and Raspberry Jam.

Today was a whirlwind, and I had a bunch more “finger swipes” of almond butter, some raw almonds, another apple and a big carrot somewhere in between. I think it’s safe to say: my paper was a nut butter fueled production.

It was a bit cool out when I finally left my apartment, but the walk was welcome. I was in need of a good leg stretch, and it settled the random bites of my day. I was fortunate to get to the Political Science Department mere MOMENTS before they locked the doors. My professor told us that the paper was due at 5pm, and the department locks  down at 4:30pm! I don’t know what I would have done if I left my apartment 5 minutes later.

I haven’t had time this week to exercise so I did a light 50 minutes on the Pre-core machine before heading home. I was planning to run but was felling a little “blah” when I finally got to the gym. I’ll tell you, paper writing + sitting + eating = exhaustion.

I wasn’t particularly in the mood for anything fancy for dinner, and wanted to continue my fridge cleaning so I used the remainder of my Bush’s Baked Beans for another Baked Beans and Sweet Potato dish. I served it with a fresh green salad and the last of my watermelon. I decided to cook my sweet potato in the microwave for the sake of time, and it wasn’t very photogenic. I ended up mashing it and topping it with cinnamon and Crofter’s North American Superfruit Spread (cranberry/blueberry mix) before adding my baked beans, which was delicious :).

For dessert I had a few squares of Green and Black’s Mint Dark Chocolate and a cup of Decaf Constant Comment Bigelow Tea. I needed something a little cozy to curl up in bed with because The Notebook was on and I had some blogging to catch up on :).

Hopefully, normalcy will resume tomorrow. I still think it is SO strange that I do not have anymore school work to accomplish. I have some personal projects and fun books to read, so I’m sure I’ll find a way to stay occupied. I think the most exciting part about finishing is that I now have time to do the things that I really like. I’m all for academics, but when it is a struggle to love and appreciate the material you are learning the work is tedious and stressful. I’m really looking forward to reading for fun and continuing my food/wine aspirations.

I have MANY more thoughts, but until I gather them I’m going to leave this rather long post be. I have one more week on campus for  “Senior Week”, which is filled with senior class functions (Finger Lakes Wine tour Monday…stay tuned!). I’m officially out of here after our graduation ceremony next Sunday. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Surreal Life,

Nora

Have you ever had a moment or experienced an event that seemed unbelievable?

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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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