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Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Bon Appetit

Bonsoir! (good evening) After a night of French dining, I’m starting to channel my inner Julia Child. The restaurant we went to for my mom’s birthday this evening was a small and quaint venue operated by a team from France. HOW HAVE I NEVER BEEN HERE?!?!?? There are no words for my first French dining experience. It was one of the most delicious meals of my life.

It all started with a piece of fresh rosemary and olive bread with a glass of pinot blanc.Followed by a few appetizers.


Cheese flight:Escargot!!!

My main course:

With a Bordeaux:

And finally, three examples of heaven desserts:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!

One Happy Girl,

Nora

What is your favorite cuisine?

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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?

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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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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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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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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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