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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?

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Lack of internet + no time= my demise. Although I have been completely disconnected for the past few days, I did not forget about my dear blog. My internet is not going to be installed until Wednesday, so I am EXTREMELY grateful right now for free Wi-Fi at coffee shops….I’m also extremely grateful for my parents. They have been my “knights in shining armor” through the insanity of the past week. I can’t believe how much has happened in such a short period of time. To recap:

  1. I graduated college on Sunday May 16.
  2. Immediately after my diploma ceremony I went on a packing rampage and shoved the contents of my college apartment into trash bags and boxes as quickly as possible.
  3. My parents helped me move all of my crazily packed belongings into my apartment and I headed home for a few days.
  4. Early Tuesday morning I left home to get started on apartment unpacking.
  5. Wednesday-Thursday my parents returned to help me clean/unpack/organize my apartment. All day Wednesday was spent cleaning. I had work at the bakery on Thursday and my parents stayed to complete the apartment transformation without me! I came back after work to a beautiful, organized and clean home. I’m not sure what I would have done without them because they completely transformed my hole-in-the-wall into a cozy abode.

When I got back from the bakery Thursday night my body was screaming “GIVE ME VEGGIES! GIVE ME VEGGIES!” The past few days haven’t exactly been produce heavy, and I was dying for some clean eats! It was nearly 8:30pm when I got back to my apartment, so I complied a salad in my new PERFECT SALAD BOWL (This bowl is is deep and has high sides so the contents of my typically gigantic salads mix well and do not fly all over. I’ve always used plates for my salad constructions and they can be messy. I’m very excited about this purchase. Thanks Mom and Dad!) with about 2 cups of mixed greens, 1/2 head of romaine, 1/4 cup garbanzo beans, handful of alfalfa sprouts, 1 stalk of celery, 1/3 of a large cucumber, 3 big and beautiful strawberries, 1/2 of a navel orange, 1/3 block of 5 grain tempeh and feta cheese topped with balsamic. This beautiful large salad was enjoyed on the floor of my new living room while watching Julie and Julia on my tiny TV. After dinner I enjoyed an ice cream sandwich for something sweet and cool.

Previous Eats:

On Monday I ate the contents of my parents fridge which includes but is not limited to the following:

Later that night I shared crackers, cheese and a martini with my dad before dinner. My mom prepared a fantastic grilled chicken breast, blue cheese wedge salad with a tarragon vinaigrette and herbed basmati rice. We enjoyed this meal with a cool and crisp Simi Chardonnay.

With a little help from my friends Betty Crocker and butter, I assembled Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (extra chocolate chips added) for dessert. I had four of these while watching TV with my parents. It was the perfect way to relax before returning to my cluttered apartment.

Running out the door on Tuesday morning I grabbed a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Luna Protein Bar (as if I didn’t get my cookie fix the night before) and headed back. When I got to my apartment I snacked on almonds and dried apricots before assembling my first apartment meal. For lunch I made a simple salad with a slice of leftover pizza. I had an apple and dark chocolate shortly after.

Dinner was a complete disgrace so pictures were not taken. I had a meeting from 5-9 so I decided to fill up with granola, cereal, museli, a frozen banana, vanilla soy milk, and Greek Yogurt. A few bowls later and I was  extraordinarily stuffed. When I got to the meeting the smell of pizza filled the air. The temptation was too much and I had a slice of cheese and a slice of pepperoni. After the meeting I had a dark chocolate almond and a dark chocolate cashew cluster before calling it a night.

Wednesday morning I had an 8am class to learn how to use my new MacBook. I wanted oatmeal for breakfast, but it was out of the question. The gas for my oven was not turned on and my microwave aka the number one cooking device used during my freshman-junior years of college remained in storage at my house. I made a portable breakfast for the drive:

This monster was composed of 1 large frozen banana, 2 large handfuls of spinach, 1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein, 1 scoop GREEN Superfood, cinnamon, 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 1 TBS crunchy PB and 5 ice cubes.

After the appointment I went to Starbucks for a Grande Soy Misto and a KIND Cashew and Almond Bar.

I had a late lunch and my parents finally arrived, ready to get down to apartment furnishing business. I have the world’s greatest parents, I can’t believe how much they have helped me with over the past two days. I’m pretty sure that if I did not have their assistance I would have just lived in a dirty, half-unpacked apartment for the next three months. It was a long day of cleaning that ended in Dinosaur BBQ for dinner. I started with a Middle Ages IPA beer and for my meal I had a chicken platter with BBQ chicken breast and wing, baked beans (so tasty and cooked with pulled pork!), corn bread, and a marinated cucumber and tomato salad. You better believe I demolished the entire plate!

This overdue entry is a bit lengthy, so I’m going to stop here. I have been reflecting over the past few days and have some thoughts for my blog that I want to share. I’m also exceptionally excited about my internship that starts MONDAY! I’ll be back later today (if I have the opportunity to obtain internet!) so stay tuned for more trials and tribulations.

Growing Up,

Nora

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I love coming home to my mom’s pottery. I found this bunny dish (PERFECT for Easter!) and knew I had to have my oats in it this morning. I have a minor obsession with cups, bowls, plates and serving items. It is probably equally as bad as my obsession with nut butter, jams/spreads, granola and bars. I always have to restrain myself when I go shopping because I want to buy MORE and do not have the space. Even when I go clothes shopping I somehow always manage to make my way over to the home goods section and 9 times out of 10 buy a new cooking item rather than the clothes I intended to buy. We eat with our eyes, and having dishes to complement the food really does make for a better dining experience (plus the pictures are always a bit more fun!). My foodie collections are getting a bit out of control though. I recently decided that until I finish my 2 bags of granola, muesli, oatmeal and 2 boxes of cereal I WILL NOT BUY MORE! This also goes for my…lets just call it 7, jars of jam in my refrigerator.

It was a quiet, cold and sunny morning; perfect for a warm cup of copy and hearty bowl of oats. I searched the cabinets and cupboards and decided to make use of some soon-to-be overripe strawberries for my Banana Oats with Peanut Butter, Strawberries and Cream. I used 1/3 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk, 1/3 cup of Water, 1/2 sliced Banana, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla Extract, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1/2 TBS Chia Seeds, 1 TBS Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, Greek Yogurt and 4 sliced Strawberries.

When it warms up a bit I plan on going for a run. I live in a pretty rural area and it is so peaceful to do a ~2 mile run down the street and absorb the natural beauty of older “farm” homes, birds, animals and trees. Coming home is like a mini getaway from the busyness of school and work. It reminds me that true happiness is not a result from success, but rather, derived from life’s simple pleasures: family, food and nature.

I’m heading back to school later, and as graduation nears, I am growing more anxious about what I am going to do next year. I know that my passions rest in the realm of food/wine/family/marketing but I have yet to find a job. I know that whatever I do in life, it has to be something that I can truly own, dedicate myself to and be happy with. A perfect career for me would never be about the money (although the way I eat, money is good to have to pay the grocery bills!), it would be about the personal success and satisfaction I get from knowing that I am making a difference.  Enough with that for now, something will come with time.

Enjoy The Little Things,

Nora

Do you have the tendency to over-buy certain items when you shop?

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The beauty of home: pure comfort. I went to dinner with my parents tonight at The Bonefish Grill. I am a fish girl. Whenever we go out to dinner, I am notorious for ordering fish every time.  Fish is always a treat when I go to restaurants. I cook salmon and tilapia at home because I can get a frozen version that is relatively inexpensive, but other than that I only make fish dishes on occasion.

We started with their Bang-Bang Shrimp; a house speciality that is breaded baby shrimp in a spicy sauce. I had a few pieces, but it’s not my favorite dish. I did get to use chopsticks, so at least it was fun to eat! I also had a piece of warm bread dipped in olive oil. How can you resist a warm bread basket? For my main I had the sea bass with mango salsa and green beans. I love buttery and flakey sea bass and this was pretty good. The beans were a bit over dressed in a butter sauce so I didn’t end up eating all of them. The meal also came with a new signature side of chickpeas and andouille sausage, which was AMAZING (I had about half because I forgot it was Lent and NO meat on Friday. It was delicious, but the reason we went to a fish place was for the purpose of not eating meat.. Whoops!).

It was freezing out so we decided that it was a perfect night for dessert and a movie. We rented The Blind Side and went to our local grocery store bakery for a bit of peanut butter cup chocolate cake. This cake is a dense chocolate cake, topped with a peanut butter frosting with chocolate drizzle. My dad made some decaf coffee and we snuggled up for the movie; perfect way to end a cold Friday!  The movie was awesome! It is the story of football player Michael Oher and the family that helped him shine. It reminded me to have faith and to never give up. It is a must see!

My belly is full and I’m off to bed! Hope everyone had a great Friday!

Nora

Do you have a sweet tooth? What is your favorite dessert?

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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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