Adventures with Oat Bran

April 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Happy Friday!

Last night James and I had plans to go to a new cool pub downtown with some friends but that kind of fell through. We loafed around for a while after I got home from work debating different ideas of what to do. Eventually, we decided we would just get in the car and start driving, hoping a good idea would come to us!

And it did!! We ended up going to a nature preserve not far from our apartment :

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We sat on the bluffs and thumbed through an Architectural Digest mag and pointing out what we loved and what we hated.

Does anyone else do that? We also like to drive around the cute neighborhoods here and pick out what houses we want! I actually have my dream house picked out and drive/run by it every now and then to swoon over it!

On the way home, we swung by Whole Foods and I perused the bulk bins (love these!). One of my purchases was something I had been dying to try for a while: Oat Bran!!

The second I woke up this morning I was eager to test out this new find!

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I decided to make it on the stove top since we have today off from work because of Good Friday.

I used:

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Holy Yum!! I found a new love! Of course oats could never be replaced but this will definitely be integrated into my breakfast mix! The consistency reminded me of grits and it was so thick and creamy. And the charoset was SUCH a fantastic mix in. I mean it had everything you could want to top your oats with : almonds, apples, dried cranberries, dates, cinnamon and honey. I was in breakfast heaven.

This, of course, makes me want to try all the OTHER kind of whole grains in the bulk bins at Whole Foods!! So much good stuff out there I haven’t tried yet!

What is one thing you have to have in your dream house?

For me, it’s a huge wrap around porch. There’s nothing better then sitting outside on your porch on a cool summer night!

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Happy Passover!

April 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

As I’ve said before, I love traditions and things that give that bring back warm memories of the past. One of those things, for me, is Passover.  Passover is a Jewish holy day beginning at sunset and celebrated with a seder (or a special dinner). There are certain foods that you eat, and stories that are read. The dinner usually takes a couple hours and involves participation of all the individuals in retelling the story of the Hebrew’s Exodus from Egypt.

It’s mainly the idea of family that I love about Passover, of everyone sitting together and enjoying simple traditions that have been passed down for so long.

Tonight, James and I decided to have our own small and very informal version of Passover.

Really, I think James just wanted an excuse to eat matzo ball soup! And I don’t blame him 😉

On Passover, you aren’t supposed to eat anything with leavening in it. This is done to remember how the Hebrews had to rush out of Egypt before their bread was able to rise! I’m pretty sure their matzo wasn’t whole wheat though….

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But I’m glad ours is! I really like matzo. I think some people find it bland but it’s basically just a cracker. And what better way to portion control then with these 110 calorie sheets? You can also get matzo in different flavas like onion! Love it!

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On time my mom was trying to dehydrate some stale matzo in our convection oven and ended up setting it on fire! That was fun explaining to the fire department!! Oh Mumsy…

Our pretty seder table:

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Okay, let’s break this thing down.

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First we have the seder plate, filled with different kinds of symbolism.

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First we have Charoset which is described on Wikipedia as “a sweet, brown pebbly mixture, representing mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt” (for recipe scroll down!)

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Next we have the Beitzah : A roasted egg, symbolizing the festival sacrafice that was offered in the Temple of Jerusalem and was then eaten as part of the meal on Seder night”

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Charezet one of the bitter herbs used to symbolize the bitterness and harshness of slavery which the Jews endured in Ancient Egypt.  (romaine lettuce)

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Maror the second bitter herb (horseradish)

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Karpas: A vegetable other than bitter herbs which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of Seder

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There is also supposed to be a Z’ora, which is a roasted shank bone to symbolize the lamb offered at the Temple of Jerusalem but ya know…lambs are cute and I prefer them alive. So we ex-nayed that.

Charoset Recipe:

  • 2 fuji apples, chopped in a food processor
  • 6 dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. almonds, chopped in a food processor
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ~ 2-3 tsp honey (not even necessary!)

Mix all together. Scoop up with matzo and enjoy!!

I looked forward to the charoset every year. There are tonso of different recipes for it. Last year we used all dried fruits and it was also delicious but there is something about the apple base that I so enjoy

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3 pieces of matzo covered:

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 Smoked salmon with capers:

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The potatoes were really simple and easy.

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One good trick to speed up cooking time is to put them in the microwave for 5 minutes or so then I popped em in a 450* oven for 40 minutes while I set to work on the matzo ball soup!

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This dinner was such fun to make. I love sitting down to a meal and talking about all the different components of it! And boy did this have a bunch!

The smoked salmon was divine but we both agreed that some cream cheese was missing. There is just something about the cream cheese + smoked salmon + capers combo that can’t be beat!

I hope you enjoyed a little look into our mini Passover seder 🙂

What’s a food that brings back great memories for you?

Crabby? Not Me!

April 8, 2009 at 1:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

What’s with this cold front?? Yesterday I was using the AC and today I have the heat on! Brrr! I was planning on a run in the morning tomorrow but since it’s going to be 27 degrees I think I’ll pass…I’ve gotten unused to the cold so fast!

I opted for sleeping in this morning and working out after work. I ran about 1/4 of a mile to the apartment gym,  did 40 minutes on the ET, did some PT exercises (aka TONS of lunges!) and ran home. It was an awesome sweat session! I did my lunges + other PT exercises next to the indoor pool so I was sure to keep my muscle nice and warmed up in the sauna-like room. After my workout, I did some foam rolling and started making dinner which came together in about 15 minutes! I love that!

On the menu? Crab cakes, steamed broccoli and couscous.

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 To the couscous I added some peas, a chopped up plum tomato and the juice from half a lemon. I would have zested the lemon too if we had a zester! Still building my kitchen arsenal 😉

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Steamed broccoli:

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For the crab cakes:

  • 1 can white crab
  • one egg
  • 1/3 c. oatmeal
  • liquid smoke
  • old bay seasoning
  • 1/2 of a lemon’s juice

Mix all together and fry up in a hot pan with 1 tsp of olive oil in it.

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This was so light and refreshing. I liked the crab cakes but I think it would be better with a can of pink crab rather then white. We have a can of pink crab in the cupboard too so I will be trying that soon! I always like adding liquid smoke to the fish cakes that we make. It reminds me of the smoked fish dip that we would get on St. Pete Beach.

Well James it out on the town tonight since he has the next 2 days off from work so it’s just me and Toby! But look what I found when I was looking in our room to get into bed….

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BUSTED! Such a bed hog! And of course he lays across all the pillows! But seriously…how can I ask that face to move?? I think I can find a corner of a pillow someplace….

Night!

And….

April 7, 2009 at 1:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Oh and also —

GO UNC!!!

It’s Pronounced N’awlins.

April 7, 2009 at 1:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

My trip to New Orleans was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better. Seriously.

Well except for the fact that my flight there was delayed 5 hours due to bad weather but that can easily be overlooked….

I spent my weekend seeing amazing music, eating delicious food and hanging out with my lovely friends.

I really loved everything about this city. I mean look how cute the houses are???

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Friday night we were lucky enough to have Erin’s dad boil some crawfish for us! This was my first time having crawfish so I was pretty pumped. The frats at my college used to have crawfish boils but really….going to a frat house and eating things poured onto a long table never sounded appetizing shockingly enough.

Live crawfish:

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Can you believe the humungous plates that you get to eat crawfish in?? When I first saw them I thought that was the plate for the table!!

These were AMAZING! It was my first time trying crawfish and Erin’s dad did it up RIGHT! There were mushrooms, potatoes, celery, garlic and tons of seasoning in there. And eating them is such a nice social event. They take so long to peel and eat that we just got to sit in the beautiful Louisiana night air enjoying each other’s company.

Apparently peeling crawfish is quite the art! I got the hang of it eventually. It was like eating little mini lobster tails. I want more!

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Saturday was GORGEOUS and we drove over the Strawberry festival! We took a causeway that went right down the center of a huge lake! It was so beautiful! I miss living near the water!

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Of course we had to sample all the delicious food at the strawberry festival!

Some strawberry custard aka the best custard ever.

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Strawberry daquiris made with FRESH strawberries!! They were so good!

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We really wanted some face painting nachos. We just thought that sounded fantastic! haha joke.

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Then Erin said she just had to have some gator on a stick:

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And Colleen really wanted to try a fried snickers:

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Then we went and had lunch by the water! I got a grouper wrap with mango chutney. It was so good! I think grouper is my fave fish.

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Then that night was filled with even more fun – and began with …

DRIVE THRU DAQUIRIS!!!

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I got the Pina Colada flavor. It was SO good! Definitely not artificial tasting at all. Very fresh and perfect for a nice spring night.

We walked with our daquiris down to the streetcar to go to the French Quarter. (Excuse the hair..it was really windy!)

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And to the infamous Bourbon Street!!!

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And what do you know, there was  a PIRATE festival going on!!!

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There were SO many pirates! It was NUTS!

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Yarrrrr!!!

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We also went to Cafe du Monde and got beignets and Cafe Au Laits.

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Look at that powdered sugar!!! These were basically fried dough with a very large amount of powdered sugar on it. Perfect way to complete my New Orleans experience 🙂

As you can probably tell, I let myself really splurge this weekend. I told myself before I left that I was going to just let go and have fun. It was totally worth it. I had a wonderful time and got to experience everything I wanted to without feeling an ounce of guilt. I got to work out on Friday while I was at Tulane and spent Saturday walking around all day.

This week I am back on track with my eating and exercising. Everything in moderation, right? I think it’s fine to let loose on special occasions…as long as everything isn’t a special occasion!

So I want some more crawfish! Hopefully I can find some around here!

What’s your favorite town/city to go to for food? Every city I’ve lived in has had such good food in it’s own right! It’s hard to pick! I do miss the Cuban food from Miami though….

MIA

April 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hello!!

Sorry I have been MIA all weekend but I had a FAB time in New Orleans!! It was AMAZING! and I now want to move there immediately…

I want to post some pics but, unfortunately, my connector chord for my camera has gone MIA while I was gone! Fortunately James said he would pick one up for me today so I will do a good post tonight!

Some trip highlights:

– amazing delicious crawfish (my first time!)
– drive through daquiris (pina colada — there should be drive through daquiris everywhere)
– beignets at Cafe du Monde
– riding the streetcar to Bourbon St.
– strawberry festival
– amazing time with some of my best college friends.

Hopefully I will be back with pictures later!!

Has anyone else been to New Orleans?? What is your favorite part?

Stuffed Eggplant

April 2, 2009 at 1:11 am | Posted in recipes | 5 Comments
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I love deals as much as the next girl so I was pretty pumped when I found a humungous eggplant on the reduced price produce rack at Harris Teeter. I got a monster eggplant for 75 cents!!!

I searched high and low for what I wanted to do with this beauty. Recently we’ve just been cutting the eggplant up and roasting it so I knew I wanted to do something different from that.

So after a lot of searching I got the idea to do a Stuffed Eggplant.

First I cut the top and bottom off the eggplant then cut it lengthwise.

Then I scooped out the middle of the eggplant, leaving a 1-2” thick layer and cut the scooped out middle part into cubes.

James was nice enough to start dinner before I got home by cooking 1/2 c. of brown rice and 1/2c of lentils in some water with Better than Bullion in it. I walked into a house already smelling delicious!

I sautéed some frozen asparagus from Trader Joes in some olive oil and garlic. I removed those from the pan and put the cubed eggplant, a drained can of diced tomatoes, 1 copped carrot and a big handful of chopped spinach into the skillet.

I sautéed that until everything was soft, adding in some soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt + pepper, and the juice of half of a lemon along the way.

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Then I layered everything up into the eggplant. First the rice mixutre, then the asparagus and then the veggie mixture.

I put it in the oven at 375* for about 20 minutes.

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The eggplant collapsed a little as it got softer in the oven so it wasn’t the prettiest thing. I’m having a hard time with the whole making my food pretty thing!  It sure looked pretty BEFORE I put it in the oven (above) but afterward it all kind of fell apart and the colors weren’t as vibrant. Boo. Oh well, it still tasted good.

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The rice wine vinegar was a nice compliment to this meal. I liked the contrast of the vinegar to the almost gravy like taste of the rice + lentils. Oven roasted eggplant is always delicious too. It takes on such a nice and meaty texture.

This recipe made a ton of food so I know James will have stuff to eat while I’m gone!

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I can’t wait to go to New Orleans tomorrow! I will definitely try to take pictures of some of the delicious eats I know I’ll be having!

Time to finish up packing and go to SLEEP! I’m absolutely exhausted!

Bake-o-rama

April 1, 2009 at 1:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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This Thursday I am headed to New Orleans to check out Tulane Law School. I’m pretty psyched because a friend from college lives there AND my college roommate is coming down AND one of my sorority sisters is coming!!! YAY! I love that my life has been full of friends the past two weeks. It’s been rough since moving to North Carolina. It’s SO much harder to meet people and make friends when you’re not in school!

Another awesome thing: my friend’s step mom is a great nutritionist who has been on OPRAH! Hopefully I can think of some good questions to ask her!

With my impending trip, I knew I needed to use up some stuff in the fridge that James won’t eat which led to me baking up some tofu, acorn squash and rutabaga.

I was inspired to cook up some rutabaga fries after seeing them on Meghann’s blog. I had never  had rutabaga before and I always love trying new veggies so I was pretty pumped about getting one at the store. Per her instructions, I roasted it at 415* but it took a lot longer then 20 minutes! I guess I cut them thicker?? They were still delish when I took them out of the oven after about 35 minutes.

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I also roasted an acorn squash at the same temp for about 30 minutes. All I did was cut it up and put some olive oil on the part that would be  touching the baking sheet. I love acorn squash. It has just enough sweetness.  I usually just cut it in half but this time I cut it up more so I could easily take it to work for lunch.

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Then I baked part of a block of tofu.  Before baking it put some sesame oil, worstechire sauce, and BBQ sauce on it. Delish!

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I figured out what I did wrong the first time I made tofu. I always read how you should put a book on it and dry it really well. I think I went a little crazy with that and dried it out too much. I like it MUCH better after only barely patting out the excess moisture.

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This was such a fun meal! It’s not very colorful though. Good thing I had big ol salad full of veggies for lunch!

To Do Lists:

After seeing ToDoist.com on Angela’s blog, I decided to give it a shot! My planner is filled with tons of post its with to do lists on them. After playing around with it for a while and email with Angela about how exactly to set it up, I am in love! This is a MUCH better way to have all different to do lists easily accessible. You can easily assign dates and times to your tasks and keep them neatly organized under your various projects (groceries, blog, work, school…endless possibilities!!) 

Right now we’re watching Slumdog Millionaire. It’s pretty disturbing so far. After hearing so much press about it I’m eager to watch!

What has been your favorite movie this year?

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