Sisters, State Fairs, and Scrambled Eggs

Hey there! How are you?

Did you have a good weekend?

I definitely did!

This past weekend was all about driving up to see E and making our second annual pilgrimage to the state fair. What made this weekend even more fun is that our best friend T (who is basically our sister in every way but blood) joined in on the fun. Watching T excitedly texting on our drive up late Friday night hinted that this weekend was going to be filled with good times (and hopefully some good eats!).

Our weekend started on Saturday morning with a big fuel-up brunch.

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Scrambled eggs (E’s specialty), sausage, bagels, english muffins, fruit salad, and homemade pumpkin bread (recipe coming soon) gave us enough energy and protein so we could conquer the fair (and not stuff our faces with everything in sight).

But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t eat.

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E and T dug into homemade macaroni and cheese studded with broccoli, bacon, and fresh garlic. They said it was delicious. (since I don’t eat cheese, I had to take their word on it)

My fair food of choice was a baked potato.

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A baked potato loaded with butter, bacon bits, and chives. I thought I was going to die from happiness.

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E and T got their baked potato with melted cheese, sour cream, and bacon bits, which looked also looked awesome.

But we didn’t only eat savory food… we ate some sweet stuff too!

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Like these amazing, WARM apple cider donuts.

Breakfast (and snack and dessert) nirvana.

After our big outing at the fair, we decided that a quiet night in parked in front of Netflix would be the best end to a busy day.

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So while we binged watch a comedy series, we dug into homemade turkey meatballs and mountains of salad (because we needed to balance out the day a bit). And drank some wine – because sister hang outs must include wine (it’s written in some sister manual somewhere).

After crashing at about 10:30PM, we woke up nice and late on Sunday morning… which meant that we would need to get moving if we wanted to make sure we got on the road at a decent time. But then we decided that T couldn’t visit E without going to the fabulous, old-school donut shop that is down the road from her house…

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… it would have been so a travesty if she had to miss out on this.

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They looked beautiful on our brunch table… and tasted pretty wonderful too!

 

It was a perfect weekend full of family, food, and so much fun! We were able to have 48 hours of girl time – no work, no stress, no problems – just the three of us hanging out, making memories, and eating fabulous food. Who wouldn’t be happy?

So, kiddos, what do you like to do with your siblings? Let me know!

oxox,

A Big Sister

Hummus and Vegetable Sandwiches

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Hi there! How are you? How’s life?

Are you enjoying the spring weather as much as I am?

With the days getting warmer and the produce section at the grocery store filling with delicious things, all I want to do it buy it all and cook! My recent food purchases were one beautiful (and perfectly ripe) tomato and a tub of mixed baby greens with herbs in it (did anyone else know that this existed? Where has this been all my life?!).

With some leftover (and slightly stale) ciabatta bread in the pantry and some white bean hummus in the fridge, an easy vegan sandwich popped into my mind.

Hummus and Vegetable Sandwiches!

It starts with slicing up that beautiful ripe tomato.

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And stopping to eat a couple slices before realizing if you keep eating it, you’ll have a tomato-less sandwich. And who wants a tomato-less sandwich?

Then cut a thick piece of whole wheat ciabatta bread and slice in half.

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Spread a good amount of hummus on the bread – I only did one side here, but spreading it on both sides would definitely be better!

Then layer on some of the baby greens with the herbs.

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Fresh and green… just like springtime!

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Then layer on some tomato slices.

Pop the lid on the sandwich.

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And slice in half.

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I love looking at all the layers – the nutty brown of the ciabatta, the white of the hummus, the greens and purples of the lettuce, and the bright red of the tomato.

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A easy lunch that celebrates the changing seasons.

Enjoy, kiddos!

Your sandwich makin’ friend,

C

Hummus and Vegetable Sandwich

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1-3” piece slice of whole wheat ciabatta bread, sliced in half

3 tablespoons of white bean hummus, homemade or store-bought

½ cup mixed baby greens – if you can find the one with herbs in it, try it out!

2-3 tomato slices

 

Steps:

Lay both halves of the ciabatta on a cutting board and spread hummus over both halves (1½ tablespoons on each half). On one half, layer on the mixed greens and tomato slices. Top with the other half of the ciabatta, hummus side down. Slice in half and serve with a side salad or raw veggies.

Enjoy!

White Bean Hummus

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1-15oz can of white beans, rinsed and drained

3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely – more or less depending on your taste

1½ tablespoons of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

½ – ¾ cup of good olive oil

Hot sauce of your choice

 

Steps:

1. Add rinsed, drained white beans, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, ½ cup of olive oil, and as much hot sauce as your heart desires.

2. Puree – add more olive oil (up to another ¼ cup) until you reach the consistency you want.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning – add salt, pepper, and extra hot sauce.

4. Serve with pita chips, raw veggies, or use as a spread for sandwiches and wraps!

Photo Class Day 2

How is everyone’s week going? How was your weekend? Mine was pretty full of fun activities (and some ICU case study work).

I’m still celebrating my birthday each Sunday as I take my food photography class. This past Sunday was day two of three and we worked so much on my lighting skills and photo composition.

And we used a very familiar (and delicious!) subject…

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French fries!

They came in a cool cup, which gave me multiple ways to set up the shot.

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Like fries cascading out of the cup onto a perfectly crumpled paper bag.

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Or all the fries sticking out of the top of the cup… I shall call this photo “Ode to Fried Potatoes”.

And then we worked on shooting from a distance.

This was my favorite shot of a croissant!

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This was fun trying a new perspective!

I am having a great time at my photo class and am learning so much. My next biggest challenge is trying to decide what food to bring in to photograph on Sunday. Cookies or hummus? Brownies or peppermint bark? Let me know what you think!

 

Your food photographin’ friend,

C

Weekend Eating

I ate a lot this weekend.

Well, I normally eat a lot on the weekends, but this weekend was different… somehow.

I think what separated this weekend from the other 51 was that many meals I chose were seasonal and very fall-like. Nothing like celebrating the season with some good food (and good company!).

 

The weekend started with an amazing lunch during my tour of the urban gardens in the Bronx.

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Roasted chicken, sautéed spinach, rice pilaf studded with beans, peas, and corn, and a barley salad full of butternut squash, red bell pepper, and scallions. Delicious, nutritious, and warm – the perfect warm-up break during a soggy day touring through gardens.

Despite my filling lunch, I cannot be in NYC without getting a pretzel.

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No matter what, before I leave, I need to have a pretzel… extra salt, please!

 

Sunday mornings in my house means one thing – a big breakfast. Waffles or pancakes are on the menu, usually studded with chocolate chips. But, in deference to the season, we decided to dive into the world of pumpkin breakfast items.

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These are Smitten Kitchen’s pumpkin waffles. Pumpkin perfection (plus they make the house smell like pumpkin bread)!

I adorned my waffles with the two things that I love to pair with pumpkin – chocolate and almonds.

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Yum!

The best fuel for a morning full of church and a trip to the farmer’s market.

 

My weekend of chowing down culminated in the farm-fresh salads my family made for lunch. We laid out a bunch of salad ingredients and let everyone create their own.

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Mine took a salad niçoise turn… salad greens, tuna, soft-ish boiled eggs, cucumber, and tomatoes. So it’s salad niçoise minus the green beans, olives, capers, and anchovies. Similar? Ehh, maybe not. But it was still a perfect lunch!

 

It was a great weekend full of fall foods, sweet and savory. Now it’s back to reality… PB&J for lunch, anyone?

Your still in a food coma friend,

C

What’s Been Happening – 8/24

A lot’s been happening these past few weeks.

 

  1. Tomorrow I start my Dietetic Internship.

Whelp.

These past two days have been a flurry of printing, organizing, buying external hard drives, getting directions to where I actually need to be, and confirming start times.

And panicking about what to wear, what tote bag to bring, what to pack for lunch… HELP!

 

  1. It is not only my first day at a new place…

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This kid started a new job a couple of weeks ago (albeit, not dressed as Minnie Mouse).

My sister (E) now lives in another state, in her own apartment, with her own car, health insurance, and new life as an employed citizen of the world. And while I am so, so, so proud of her, I’m slightly sad that I won’t be able to share dinner with her every Sunday.

 

2A. The best redeeming quality of E’s new home is that there is a great donut shop nearby.

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Sunday breakfast of champions!

 

  1. E decided to pop back to the home nest this weekend… the same weekend my mother saw this amazing chocolate-peanut butter cake in a magazine.

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E loves chocolate, peanut butter, and cake. So we made it for her.

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I didn’t have any. *burp*

 

  1. Everyone is moving around – jobs, internships, graduate school – so my friends and I have been meeting up and eating a lot of food, drinking wonderful drinks, and getting in a good last visit before our lives drag us in a million different directions.

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My friend E and I met up at our local Mexican haunt and really couldn’t make up our minds on what to order…

 

  1. But throughout all this craziness – E’s move, saying a “see you later” to my friends, organizing for internship, and making cake – I was still able to carve out some me-time.

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With my three best friends… strawberries, chocolate-hazelnut spread, and a good TV show.

 

How have you all been? Are you dreading the end of summer? Or excited for the weather to cool down? Let me know!

Your friend in the slightly perpetual food coma,

C

The 4th of July

Happy post–4th of July weekend (that’s what this is, right?)! I hope everyone had a great day, filled with family, friends, fireworks, and lots (and lots) of food. I am in my hometown for the summer, so it was nice to spend the day surrounded by dear family and friends. My town also has a variety of fabulous Independence Day activities, including a town-wide parade and a fireworks show at night.

My sister (E) and I forewent the parade in favor of a huge pancake breakfast cooked by my father. It was the smart decision – blueberry pancakes are always the correct choice. I didn’t have the forethought to take pictures, but here is the link to my pancake recipe. Just substitute the chocolate chips for blueberries – breakfast nirvana.

With my belly full of pancakes and my veins rushing with sugar, I jumped at the chance at helping my dad build an arbor. It was hot, dirty work and I was glad when E’s BF finally came (he was spending the weekend with us). All I wanted was a shower and a beer.

And this is what came with the beer.

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I love hot dogs and grilled chicken. They are the perfect picnic food – especially if the picnic happens inside an air-conditioned house. We served up the burgers and dogs with awesome pesto pasta salad with farmer’s market tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. It made me happy.

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As much as I loved lunch with all its picnic fixings, what we had for dinner was better.

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If you don’t know what this food nirvana is, this is Carolina-style pulled pork (a vinegar-based sauce). My mother served it with multiple sides.

Like cucumber salad.

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Or coleslaw.

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Or you can put the coleslaw on the brioche roll with the pulled pork and put the cucumber salad on the side. Or put that on the roll too. That’s the amazing thing about pulled pork – there is no right way to eat it. So make it for your next crowd gathering and reap the benefits of an easy meal that pleases everyone.

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Yet for me, the best thing about 4th of July (besides the food) is family. My grandma came out to the town fireworks with us for the first time in many, many years. I had to snap this (slightly dark) photo – she was like a child watching the fireworks for the first time. It was wonderful to be able to share this day with her.

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So dear readers, how was your 4th of July? Did you go all out and have a big BBQ with all your friends and family or a date night with your sweetie?

Have a great rest of the weekend!

C

Last Week of Vegetarianism

So I have been super sick this past week, restricting me to the triangle path from my bed to the couch to the kitchen table, and back. I shall spare you the gross details and instead provide you with an awesome post about my last week of vegetarianism… which is like 2 months late (whoops)!

 

Here are my adventures on Planet Panini… Enjoy. (PS: this was actually written during Week 5, but just not posted…)

I am epically procrastinating at the moment, so I have made focaccia and decided to write a blog post about it. I am currently entering Week #5 of vegetarianism and decided that bread will be the star. The easiest meal that comes to mind presently is PANINIS!!!

As many of you know, I spent a semester in Florence, Italy and learned the art of the panino (the singular form of panini). Nothing says love like fresh meats and mozzarella pressed between two slices of homemade bread. Nothing says graduate school eating like a meal that I can hold with one hand and scarf down while typing a 10-page paper. So it is sandwich time!

Here is my family’s basic focaccia dough. It is super simple to make in the stand mixer (with the hook attachment) or a hand mixer (with the double hook beaters).

Grab a huge bowl and dump in four cups of all-purpose flour. You get extra points if your bowl matches your mixer! On top of the flour, dump a pinch of salt, two packages of rapid rise yeast, and a tablespoon of olive oil.

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Mix the dry mixture together and slowly add in warm water until a slightly sticky ball forms. If you have a stand mixer, you can use this to knead your dough to this stage. My hand mixer works well too, but I usually take it out and finish kneading it by hand on a floured surface. Roll into a ball and place into a greased bowl.

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Cover with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel and let it rise for about four hours or so. Then put it on a half sheet pan, brush with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt, and rosemary. Then plunk your creation into a 425° oven for 10 minutes or until the focaccia is puffed and the bottom is golden brown and delicious.

Here are the fabulous paninis I made this week:

Epic Panino #1: This panino reminds me of my favorite restaurant from undergraduate. Soft rosemary bread topped with mozzarella cheese, sautéed broccoli rabe (with loads of garlic and hot pepper flake), and balsamic vinegar/olive oil drizzle. Tastes perfect with a glass of red wine, a beer, or a lovely margarita (or six).

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Epic Panino #2: My next creation was one of the best things I have ever made. I would not technically call it a sandwich, though, because you have to eat it with a knife and fork. I topped one slice of foccacia with homemade refried beans, salsa, and a fried egg. The top slice of bread was gingerly placed on top of the filling to prevent any premature egg breakage. With a sharp knife, I cut it in half. The beans were warm, the egg yolk was perfectly oozing, and the salsa was spicy. It was amazing.

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“My Creativity Went Away Panino-Like-Thing” #3: Finally, I made pizza on my foccacia. It was a delightful end to my vegetarian quest. A boring way to end, but fit perfectly into my busy finals schedule.

So my dear readers, what do I break my fast with? Double bacon burgers? Filet with mashed potatoes? Or that BLT I have been dreaming about?

C

**Side note: See the last post to check out what I broke my fast with!**

Basic Focaccia Dough

  • Servings: 8 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 packages of rapid rise yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon good olive oil

Lukewarm water

Steps:

1. Dump flour, yeast, salt, and olive oil into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a bowl that your hand mixer can easily move around). Stir for a couple seconds to combine.

2. With the mixer on, slowly drizzle in water, stopping after each quarter cup or so. Continue adding water until a slightly sticky dough forms.

3. Continue to mix for 5 more minutes.

4. Remove dough from work bowl and create a dough ball and place in a greased bowl to rise. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise for about 2-3 hours in a warm place.

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out dough on a greased cookie sheet and let stand for 15-20 minutes.

6. After the dough has rested, press your fingers tips into the surface to make dimples. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle on salt, herbs, etc.

7. Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown and delicious.

Recap!

Surprise! I’m back!! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving… I know I did. But we’ll get to Thanksgiving in a second.

I know I have been absent for the past 54 days, but I have been busy going to school, doing some volunteer work, and blogging for a couple of campus blogs.

For instance, I made Día de los Muertos cookies (see here!) for Halloween. It was so much fun learning about how different cultures celebrate Halloween and the cookies ended up looking pretty cool. I cheated a little and used store-bought cookie dough, but if you have a stand mixer, by all means, make your own. It is a great project to do with kids, or in my case, other graduate students.

In between studying, writing papers, and covering my kitchen with frosting and M&Ms, I decided that a substantial dinner that did not feature Halloween candy was in order. It was also imperative that I started to eat the chicken breasts I have frozen since the beginning of the semester. Since time is limited in graduate school and the ingredients are cheap, I whipped up my version of “Skinny Chicken Parm”. You can find the recipe here! It was the perfect dinner that transported me back to my days in Italy. I also wrote a short piece on five things that you can do with chicken breasts, just in case you have a freezer full of chicken breasts and want some inspiration on what to do with them.

As Thanksgiving approached and the mountain of work began to shrink, I decided that it was time to pull out a fall staple – apple crisp pie (here’s my recipe). It was divine, photographed like a dream, and my mother actually special requested it for Thanksgiving dinner. It was the perfect hybrid between the English apple crisp and down-home American apple pie. Nothing says Thanksgiving than family and apple pie.

I was busy these past 54 days, but am thankful that I got to relax on Thanksgiving break with my family and friends. My family and I started new food traditions, creating a holiday meal that spanned traditional to contemporary, American staples and Greek delicacies. I learned how to roast a turkey, make bread stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce. It was the perfect grad school foodie experience!

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you start any new food traditions? What are your favorite food traditions?