Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vacation Time!

Yesterday was a fun filled day of shopping for the new apartment and getting everything packed for my vacation to Virginia Beach!  My mom and I had big plans to make a labor intensive dish for dinner, but then we decided we didn’t have enough time (aka we were too lazy).  So instead, we got a quick dinner to make from Trader Joe's.  We got:

So good!  I could eat the whole box all by myself!  And we dipped them in 

This sauce is my new favorite! I can’t wait to mess around with recipes just so that I can put this sauce on whatever I make.  We each had a large salad on the side.  I topped mine with Aurora Salad Fixins.  Yum!

Tonight at around 11pm I’m heading to Virginia Beach with my boyfriend and another couple.  I’m going to struggle driving through the night (it's about a 10 hour drive), but it will be worth it when I can nap on the beach tomorrow!
If anyone is from the Virginia Beach area and knows of some good (not too expensive) restaurants, let me know! 
Nap time for me :) Goodnight, all!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Here's To You, Bart's!

Yesterday was my last day of work for the summer.  While I was sad to say bye to the preschoolers, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, as I work with kids all over Connecticut and New York and have to say bye all the time.  What was most strange about my day was closing and leaving the restaurant, Bart’s & The Beanery for the last time.  Why was it strange?  Because I worked there for 7 years.  SEVEN YEARS!! How insane is that?  It was my very first job as a 16 year old, and I have worked there ever since.  Pretty unbelievable, right?  
So, tonight this post is going to be a tribute to the best summer job out there.  There have been some good times, some bad times, some dramatic times, some seriously WEIRD times.  I’ve worked with an.. eclectic.. group of people.  Some awesome, some… let’s just say interesting.  Before I share some of the most memorable moments, I’ll just give a brief description of the place so people who have never been there kind of understand.
One side of Bart’s is a grill - there are hot dogs, hamburgers, the best curly fries and onion rings ever, etc.  I worked on this side for 5 years.  The other side is a bakery/deli with amazing coffees.  I worked on this side for 2 years.  I think.  Something like that.  I kind of bounced back and forth between the two sides.  Anyway - it’s an interesting little place.

So here are some moments that stand out:
Best moment(s):
Well, it’s hard to pick out a best moment so here are a few:
  • There are water guns stashed around the building.. Enough said.
  • Getting to know the regular customers.. Hilarious.  The morning crew is great - most are older gentlemen and we lost some great guys over the years.  We miss them very much! (R.I.P. Sal!!!)
Weirdest Moment:
One afternoon there was only myself and one other girl working.  Unusual to begin with.  So in walks a man with only white tennis shorts on (no shirt), carrying a tennis bag.  He ordered an icecream cone, which he proceeded to drop on the floor, somehow manage to pick up and continue eating.  Gross.  After a while of standing there eating, he pulled out a binder from his tennis bag.  He opened to the first section of the binder, and attempted to sell Ashley and me Wampum jewelry.

Strange? Yes. We politely said no, thank you.  Then it got a little more weird.  He flipped to the next section of his binder and showed us a map of the city he planned.  Where he was planning on building this city? I’m not sure.  After about 45 minutes of attempting to flirt with us and totally creeping us out, he left.  And never came back.  Thank goodness.

I could go on, and on… and on and on and on.  But I’ll spare you guys.  After my last day I came home and had a drink.  And it was delicious:

Italian Wedding Cake
1 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz amaretto
2 oz pineapple juice
Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker.  Shake, shake, shake, and pour into a martini glass! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hi, I'm Meredith and I'm 4 years old.

Maybe it's because I'm working with preschoolers this summer, or maybe it's because I'm back at home living with my mom for the summer, but I'm pretty sure I have reverted back to the status of a 4 year old.  

Proof #1:  I have nap time again.  I haven't napped since I was a preschooler.  (That's kind of a lie - I have. Especially my freshman year in college when sleeping at night didn't really happen often).  Besides that - preschool it was.  Even then, I don't think I actually napped during nap time.  The only thing I remember is being yelled at for peeling wallpaper off the wall when everyone else was napping.  Maybe this experience ruined "napping" for me.  Who knows. 

Proof #2:  When you ask a 4 year old what their favorite food is, what will they say? Pizza. When you ask me what my favorite food is, what will I say? Pizza. 80% of the time.  When it comes to meals and snacks, I don't usually eat a ton - I believe in portion control.  But when it comes to pizza I have ZERO control.  I will sit down and eat 6 pieces.  Its so gross, but sooo good!

So to celebrate my 4-year-old-ness, I have a recipe for pizza dough that literally takes 10-15 minutes to make.  It doesn't need to rise.. you just make it, throw on your toppings, and pop in the oven!  My sister and her boyfriend told me about it - they found it at this site and I added a few things.

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp if you use jarred yeast)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup warm water 
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Stir in flour, salt,oil, basil, and oregano.  Beat until smooth.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round.  Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza stone dusted with cornmeal.  Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

I made this two times.  This first time I made a margherita pizza.  I made homemade marinara sauce - I made up the recipe for the sauce - didn't write it down so I have no clue what I put in it.  When I re-create it I'll post it.


And then I made mini-pizzas!  Pic before I cooked them for these as well:
(Cell phone pic - really high quality, as usual! hah!)


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Don't Judge A Book (food) By Its Cover (appearance).

I have never been so happy to see the weekend. I began working at a preschool in the mornings 2 weeks ago and still work at the restaurant in the afternoon and I. Am. Tired.  Preschoolers are so cute and say the funniest things (i.e. "Um.. I think my ear fell off!" kiddo, your ear certainly did NOT fall off).  But they are exhausting!  So this weekend I decided to do all the things I should have done during the week.. but didn't have a spare second to do.

Yesterday I...

1) Did a boring workout at the gym (ran a few miles and did some weightlifting. nothing good. pretty disappointing)
2) I made Quinoa and Chickpea Pilaf.. and when I was complete the kitchen looked like a disaster zone. Seriously.  Recipe to follow.
3) I cleaned the kitchen
4) I cleaned out everything that had gone bad in the fridge
5) I read a book. (Yes... a whole book).
6) I decided it was time to get off the couch, so I made mini pizzas (ate 1, froze 3)
7) I returned to the couch
8) I went to see Harry Potter!!!! SO GOOD!!!! I'm still amazed that I didn't cry, though.


Today went a little differently..
I was feeling a little groggy this morning from being out so late last night (anyone who knows me is aware of my grandma status.. I am no longer a night owl like I was in my childhood). So I lazed around until about noon, then got my butt into gear!  I mowed the lawn and then went to the gym and did this AWESOME workout created by Fitnessista.  (I am posting what I did today... to get more options look on her page)

(warm up= mowing the lawn HAHA!)

Circuit 1 (repeat 3 times)
- Stability ball hamstring curl (12 reps)
- Stability ball overhead pass (12 reps)
- Stability ball back extension (12 reps)

Cardio blast: 1 minute of burpees

Circuit 2 (repeat 3 times)
-Bench push-up (I did these with my hands on the bench) (12 reps)
-Bench split squat (I held a 12 pound dumbbell in each hand) (12 reps)
-Bench tricep dip (I had my legs so they were almost straight, but not completely) (12 reps)

Cardio blast: 1 minute of mountain climbers

Circuit 3 (repeat 3 times)
-Assisted pull ups (I changed the resistance each time) (12 reps)
-Lateral raises (8 lb dumbbells.. hate these!) (12 reps)
-Bicep curl plie squat combo (12 reps) love these :)

Cardio blast: 1 mintue of squat jumps

Ab Burner (1 time only!)
50 sit ups
50 crunches
25 reverse crunches
25 bicycle crunches

I don't usually post workouts but this one is so worth doing!!

Alright.. on to the food.  This dish is not necessarily the prettiest, but it tastes so good! I prefer eating it cold, but it can be eaten warm as well!

I go this recipe here and didn't change a thing!  She adapted it from "Veganomicon"

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 C quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 C chickpeas, or one can drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 C water or veggie stock
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
"In a medium sized pot heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute till the onion softens before adding the garlic and cooking for a couple more minutes."
 Add all the spices and stir well and continue to cook until fragrant.  Add the tomato paste and mix well before adding the quinoa, chickpeas and water.  Mix again and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer the quinoa mixture and cover with a lid.  Cook for 20 minutes then shut off the heat and leave covered for 5-10 minutes before serving.  I like to serve this with a small squeeze of lemon over top or just a pinch more salt and some herbs chopped and sprinkled over top."

It isn't beautiful but it tastes great!! I promise!  I am officially addicted to quinoa! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Not-So-Traditional 4th of July

First off, happy fourth everyone! I hope everyone is having wonderful bbqs and enjoying some fireworks tonight.  I am not, but I had a day equally as exciting.  My mother and I decided to go to the outlets and purchase some necessary and some not-so-necessary items.  I bought a bunch of kitchen stuff for the new apartment, lots of hand soaps and lotions, and most importantly... NEW SHOES (this was the necessary part)!!!  I have only blogged once about my love of shoes so today seems like a good day to post another.  I had a dream last night that I bought new red shoes, and that was my goal for the day.  I ended up with black ones but I love them!  The pictures that follow are the new shoes.. and my mother being strange.


... SO MUCH!

I think my mom was more fond of my outfit

Anyone watch How I Met Your Mother?  If you don't, you should.. then maybe this t-shirt would make sense.  Thank you Austin for the best gift ever.

Anyway.  I digress.  Main point of this post - there is nothing that makes me happier than new shoes (this excludes people - I don't want to offend anyone..:)...).  To complete the non-traditional 4th of July, we had pizza.  How American.

And here is a recipe completely unrelated to the 4th of July.  I guess you could serve it at a bbq because it is salad-like and made with summer vegetables.  I make things work.  

I got this recipe from here and changed it around a little to suit my taste.  As usual.

1 Summer Squash
1 Zucchini
a few handfuls of fresh green beans
1 can of chickpeas
(1/2 red onion chopped) - I left this out. oops. optional i guess :)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper, a little garlic powder

Trim and halve your green beans, place them in a bowl, and fill with water until the beans are just covered.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes and then strain.

Slice the zucchini and squash in half lengthwise, and then chop into smaller pieces and put in a bowl and fill with water until just covered.  Microwave for 5-6 minutes and strain.

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients so that the vegetables are coated evenly.  Refridgerate, and that's that!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Recipe To Make Up For My Slacking

I have been slacking lately.  Like really slacking.  I've thought about updating the blog almost every day for a month and failed miserably.  I apologize.  But I know that once you see this recipe I'm posting, you will instantly forgive me.

In case I haven't made this clear, I love bacon. LOVE bacon.  I love bacon so much that when I was very young, my mother's friend whose family owns a pig farm gave me fresh bacon as a birthday present. I LOVE bacon.  

Side note number 1: My boyfriend recently(ish) informed me that there is bacon flavored vodka.  I'm still iffy about this, but I am going to try it because I'd just be crazy if I didn't. Check it out. I'll update you on the situation.

Side note number 2: The TV is on in the background and Kevin Bacon was just on HAHA... I laughed out loud.

Okay.  My french toast recipe today does not have bacon in it... but it must be served with bacon.  If you don't serve it with bacon, I will be very, very upset. and sad. and cry. So serve it with bacon.  I made this today when my sister and her boyfriend came to Connecticut for brunch (at 1:00...whatever).  My mom made some delicious potatoes (with bacon and peppers in it) and a side of bacon and fresh fruit.  And still, that wasn't too much bacon.  I would eat it again now if I could. 

Side note number 3: The restaurant I work at just got jalapeno infused bacon.  Inexplicably delicious.

Enough with the side notes and on to the recipe.  

I got the recipe from here and changed a few things to my liking.

Vanilla (Spiced) Rum French Toast
Yields 8ish servings

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
6 large eggs
4 tablespoons sugar
2 (or a little more) tablespoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons of Captain Morgan (or any other spiced rum)
Pinch or 2 of salt
Sliced Bread of your choice

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum, and salt.

Dip bread in the egg mixture for a minute and throw on the lightly oiled and heated griddle.  Cook the bread for 2-4 minutes on each side or until the French Toast is light golden brown.

SERVE WITH BACON.  Maybe even crumble the bacon on top.  And have a few slices on the side.

No picture.  So, so sorry.  It's in my tummy.  Next time I eat it I'll post a pic.