Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Snow-O-Ween!

Apparently the snow we got the other night was just a little preview of what was to come this weekend! I know snow is going to be a regular part of my life now that I’m in Connecticut, but truthfully, I just wasn’t mentally prepared to deal with it so early on in the year!

On Saturday, around 1 p.m., big, heavy snowflakes started to fall from the sky. I was out running errands at the time, but at that point, the snow wasn’t sticking to the ground so I wasn’t too concerned. I made it home by 2:30, ready to eat a late lunch while watching the latest episode of Modern Family, but Mother Nature had other plans for me. As soon as I sat down, the power went out!

I waited all afternoon, keeping my fingers crossed that my power would be restored. By dusk, there was still no power and still no sign of the snow letting up. At that point, I made the tough decision that I would have to cancel on the Halloween Party I was supposed to attend later that evening (I was so excited to have you guys see my costume!). I think I could have made it to the party alright, but was concerned about driving home in the dark during a snow storm with possible icy road conditions.

It turns out that there really isn’t much to do while sitting in the dark in a freezing apartment with a dead phone. As my thermostat dropped down to 55 degrees, I bundled up with two pairs of socks and an extra thick hoodie and snuggled under the covers with Prince and Kaylie.

Bored out of my mind, I tried to go to bed at 7 p.m., but the sounds of tree limbs creaking and snapping off kept me up. I finally picked up a new book that my mother gave me, Freakin’ Fabulous, and read by flashlight while eating mini peanut butter cups by the handful. Looking at this picture, I would estimate that I finished off about half the container. Finally, around 9 p.m. I was able to doze off for the night.

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning to completely quiet surroundings. I bundled up in lots of layers, gloves, a scarf, and a hat and took Prince outside only to be met with this:

There was so much destruction (not to mention the 12 inch layer of snow covering everything)! It looks like my neighbor who lives in the apartment below mine got the worst of it. She had a branch go straight through her living room window!

It was strange to be out walking on such a serene day with so much damage all around. At least I got to put my new, heavy-duty boots into good use!

Another neighbor came out and we got to work clearing the snow off of our cars and dragging the tree limbs in the driveway off to the side.

Once back inside, I snacked on some granola that I picked up the other day while doing a few chores around my apartment to tidy up.

Eventually, I packed up some of my perishable food items (which I had thrown into the freezer the night before once we lost power) and a load of laundry and headed over to Mister E’s house where there was still power, thankfully.

Once there I was able to eat more of a real breakfast (not that I mind granola, or anything) which consisted of toast, cheese, beef bacon, and an egg. The beef bacon is a new item I thought I would try since I’m not a huge fan of regular bacon. The beef one is alright, although it turns out that I just may not be much of a bacon lover, regardless of what kind it is.

After freshening up with a shower, doing laundry, and catching up on some work online, I returned back to my apartment right before dusk, which was still unfortunately power-less. News reports are saying that over 750 thousand people are without power and that it could be DAYS before it is restored to all areas.

Honestly, I could deal with the snow on the ground and the power being out, but it is just so flippin’ cold in my apartment that it’s miserable. Here’s hoping that my power comes back on today! Oh, and if you’re looking for a smile (I know I am), you might want to check out this video of Prince in action in the snow from last year! He’s super excited about having a full foot of snow to play in this year!

Salad Lover

What is going on here? I thought I would sneak in one more post about salads this year before the weather gets too cold and I have to make the switch to talking about stews and such. It figures that it would snow (yes, snow) here as I write this up. Since when does it snow in October?

But just in case it’s warmer wherever you are in the world, please enjoy the post below about salads. If it’s not so warm and you are suffering through the cold like me, there won’t be any hard feelings if you just want to skip the salad stuff and come back next week to read how I will have successfully put myself into a stew and hot chocolate coma this weekend.

Lately (read: before it started snowing), I’ve been enjoying my fair share of salads in tons of different forms, shapes, and tastes. For the past two months or so, I’ve been making a batch of Curry Chicken Salad on a weekly basis. WEEKLY, people. It’s so easy to prepare on the weekend and I love being able to come home after work and just scoop some up into a bowl and dig in with a side of blue corn tortilla chips. I tend to go in cycles with food, but I’m not sure if I see this one going away anytime soon.

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I’ve also been going a more traditional salad route with lots of leafy greens finished off with a wide variety of toppings. Here was my very last Summer Strawberry Chicken Salad that I enjoyed last month.

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This time I changed things up a bit by using a poppy seed dressing instead. I tried this dressing for the first time at a friend’s house where they were serving a simple salad with strawberries alongside this dressing. It was divine! I love putting this dressing in salads that are on the sweeter side. Think of adding things like strawberries, pears, or peaches to your own if you’re going to try out this dressing.

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My other latest salad creation has been in the form of a pasta salad. My Uncle made an Asian inspired chicken pasta salad from Pampered Chef at the beginning of the summer that I absolutely fell head over heels for. Eager to make it myself, I finally gave it a go a few weeks ago.

This is the kind of pasta salad that keeps you coming back for more. I would find myself sneaking it out of the fridge by the forkful from anywhere between 9:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. when nobody else was looking. It was that freaking good. Note that this recipe makes a huge amount, so it’s best made when serving to a large crowd or when you are planning on having lots of leftovers.

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Peanut Chicken Pasta Salad

(slightly adapted from Pampered Chef)

  • 1 box of bow tie pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups Asian sesame vinaigrette dressing
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound prepared chicken, chopped (can use rotisserie chicken if desired)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 carrots coarsely grated (or 1 package of pre-grated carrots)
  • 2 cups of uncooked broccoli florets (approximately 1 large broccoli stalk)
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted (unsalted) peanuts
  • 1 cup basil, chopped

Directions:  Prepare bow tie pasta according to package. Once drained, place pasta in a large serving bowl. To the large serving bowl, add the chicken, diced red bell pepper, grated carrots, broccoli florets, basil, and peanuts. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette dressing, peanut butter, garlic, and cayenne pepper together. Pour mixture over other ingredients and stir/toss until everything is evenly coated. Allow pasta salad to chill in the fridge before serving. (yields 8-10 servings)

Randoms

I take a lot of pictures. A lot. This is mostly due to the fact that I like having my camera handy and having a record of my life. When I take a picture, I usually have no idea if it’ll ever make it up onto the blog or in a Facebook album or if it’ll just live on my hard drive, forever forgotten.

In the spirit of trying to not let anything go forgotten, here are some random photos that just never found their way into a full blog post.

I had every good intention of blogging about these chocolate zucchini muffins. They were healthy and delicious and I was proud of them. Unfortunately, I didn’t take great notes while making them and don’t have a solid recipe to give you. If someone would like to pay me to be a recipe developer and tester, I’d gladly accept your offer.

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It’s not too often that beverages make it onto the blog. There’s just not much to say about them. For example: dark chocolate almond milk, ice, delicious treat. See? How am I suppose to come up with three hundred words about something for a post when all I really need are seven words to tell you what it’s all about?

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I went to a Boston Red Sox baseball game over the summer with Mister E. I mostly remember just the part where it was blistering hot and I was sweating a lot. But the part where I got to eat peach fro-yo and a hot dog and belt out Sweet Caroline was really fun.

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Taste of Hartford is an awesome event where you can go eat a fancy-schmancy three course dinner for really cheap at local restaurants. I went over the summer to Vivo and had this outstanding pistachio crusted salmon.

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Dear Pet Stuffed Toy Companies,

When you say that a toy is actually stuff-less, please let it actually be stuff-less. If you try to sneak stuffing into the head and feet of said stuff-less toy, my dog will find it and destroy it in under 10 minutes.

P.S. 10 minutes ago, this used to be an elephant that still had his face.

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Do you know that there are whole restaurants out there devoted to macaroni and cheese? I didn’t know either until I went to one and ordered the chili mac ‘n’ cheese (that came with Fritos on the side).

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I haven’t talked much about my apartment on here, mostly because things are still coming together. To give you an idea of how far things had to come, here was my starting point.

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My dear friend Jaclyn got engaged (on top of the Eiffel Tower, nonetheless) and I had the honor to celebrate with the newly engaged couple recently. FYI, their names are Jaclyn and Dan. And engagement isn’t spelled engagment. And no, this wasn’t a joke that someone was playing on the couple. #cakefail

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I didn’t mention that I forgot to wear gloves during the spray painting portion of my little DIY session. I had glitter hands for two days straight and it was magical.

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Someone must think that the best part of summer is sugar since I’m pretty sure this glass had about two cups of it mixed in.

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I don’t post all of my meals anymore which I’m thankful for. Otherwise, I would have to confess and explain to you all how I justified eating an entire bowl of mashed potatoes for lunch. But since I don’t blog everything anymore, we’ll just skip the the explaining and justification part and move on.

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I secretly wonder how many of you would have thought that was a gross looking bowl of oatmeal if I didn’t tell you otherwise?

Have anything random you would like to share today?

Pinterest Party

Ha! You thought that my lack of a Pinterest mention in yesterday’s post meant I was actually over my pinning obsession, huh? Well, I have news for you, buddy. I actually took my love for Pinterest to a whole new level of unhealthy and threw a party for it!

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After doing a fair amount of pinning, I realized that I was falling into the Pinterest trap of feeling inspired and creative but not actually doing anything about it. I was starting to accumulate a fair amount of recipes for food that I knew I realistically wouldn’t get around to making for a long time if I waited for the right occasion for it.

Realizing that I had to do something about the situation, I approached my friend Jennifer, a fellow pinning enthusiast, about the idea of hosting a Pinterest Food Party. The concept would basically be a Pinterest potluck – each guest would bring an item or two that they had found off Pinterest. After hitting up a few other Pinterest ladies and getting Jennifer’s friends and coworkers, Caitlin and Lauren, on board – the Pinterest Party was born.

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As excited as I was about the Pinterest Party, I was equally excited about hosting my very own party in my new apartment for the first time. Since my sideboard table was covered in decorations, I decided to use my dining room table as the serving area and had everyone sit in the living room to eat for a more casual and relaxed ambiance. I hooked my ipod up to speakers which shuffled through Adele and Maroon 5 songs for most of the evening.

I didn’t get a close up of the dining room table, but I think you get the gist of things from the photo above. I had set out both large and small plates along with a stack of napkins. I didn’t want to just have a pile of utensils on my table for people to grab from, so I instead placed them in short glasses. I normally use the three tiered serving tray for storing my fruit, but it worked perfectly for displaying our dessert items instead. If anyone’s interested, the stand is from Pampered Chef and can be ordered here. Oh, and the flowers on the table were courtesy of Mister E from a few days prior to the party.

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Ok, but onto the actual food now. Instead of posting the recipes or links to pins, I’ve included a link to the original site where the recipe was obtained from.

We kicked things off with Caitlin’s artichoke dip served with sea salt pita chips. I’m usually not a fan of artichoke dip since the chunks of artichokes kind of freak me out, but this was so good! Caitlin said she broke the artichokes up into pretty small pieces which I definitely appreciated.

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To go along with our appetizer and dinner, we sipped on strawberry champagne made by Lauren. I’ve only had champagne a few times before in my life, and never anything flavored, so this was a fun treat. We all agreed that this tasted like a champagne smoothie which I know sounds kind of gross, but I have a feeling that you champagne lovers out there would love it.

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After everyone had gone back for seconds on the artichoke dip, it was time for our main meal which was made by myself and Jennifer. We had decided ahead of time that we wanted all of our food to be small portions so that everyone would be able to taste everything before getting too full. Jennifer’s chicken and cheese lasagna roll-ups and my stuffed zucchini cups fit the bill perfectly! It also worked out nicely that the two dishes complimented each other very well.

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Even though it may not seem like a lot of food, at this point we were all feeling pretty full! We gave ourselves a little bit of a break before what we were all considering to be the real main course – dessert.

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On the top tier are Jennifer’s lemon bars. Surprisingly, these were made using a cake mix which you would never be able to tell by tasting them. I loved how the bottom layer crisped up so that it tasted almost like a graham cracker crust and I especially liked the crumbly top lemon layer.

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In the middle tier are my vanilla bean latte cupcakes. While making these, I told Mister E that I think these were the most difficult thing that I have ever made but were also destined to be the most delicious that I have made. And indeed they were. It’s a vanilla bean cupcake with an espresso filling, topped with a vanilla espresso butter cream frosting. Please don’t let my description of ‘difficult to make’ scare you off. They are completely doable, there are just quite a few involved steps in the process, so have patience!

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On the bottom tier are Lauren’s red velvet whoopie pies. These were so amazing that I am already looking forward to making them myself sometime in the future. I’ve always been a fan of pumpkin whoopie pies, but I’m not sure if they hold a candle to red velvet now that I’ve tried both!

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The last dessert item on the menu that didn’t make it onto the stand was Caitlin’s chocolate chip cookie and oreo fudge brownie bars. And they were, indeed, every bit sinful as they look.

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Without a doubt, dessert was my favorite part of the party. I loved how the flavors were all so different. It actually felt like I was at a wedding cake tasting and getting to try out so many different flavors at once! Everyone was a big fan of the vanilla bean latte cupcakes and said that they were the winner of the night. Now, of course this wasn’t a competition and I don’t have a Monica Geller complex or anything, so the idea of there being a winner is just silly! Besides, I don’t know if I could choose between the cupcake and red velvet whoopie pie if I had to!

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But wait – there’s more!

Our party didn’t end with dessert, of course. To bring the party to a close, we sipped on chocolate martinis made by Caitlin. These were so scrumptious! Can you see how she even decorated the glasses with chocolate syrup before pouring the drinks? Fancy!

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I would say that our very first Pinterest Party was a huge success and I’m hoping that maybe there will be a second one sometime in the future. I initially was concerned that there were only going to be four of us total at the party, but it worked out perfectly! I had picked up some cardboard to-go boxes from Michael’s for everyone to use to pack up the leftovers which everyone really appreciated. Even more appreciated though was these girls hanging around and helping me do the dishes – so sweet!

Have any of you made any recipes off Pinterest? I’m always looking for good ones if you want to share! Are any of you feeling inspired to host your own Pinterest party now?

Apple Picking

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Well, my wish for Fall came true – I went apple picking!! And not just once, but twice! I feel like a true New Englander now.

A few weeks ago, my cousin, Erica, (who I went to dinner with at ION) invited me out to brunch followed by apple picking with her friend Lauren.

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How cute are those two with their flannel shirts?

We went to Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford which has it’s own marketplace stocked with lots of goodies. It reminded me of Trader Joe’s. You know, just with a whole farm in the parking lot instead.

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day with the sun shining and the temperatures hanging out in the low 70s. We were all persistent about our fall apparel though and insisted on wearing boots and long sleeves when it probably wasn’t all that necessary.

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Have you ever been apple picking before? Is it just me, or does the media portray it differently than what it actually is? For some reason, I thought that we would have to climb ladders to actually pick the apples off the trees. I think I’ve seen it done like that before in a movie before. For anyone with a fear of heights, rest assured, you do not have to climb ladders to pick apples. In fact, apple picking wasn’t that much different from berry picking actually.

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I didn’t have any plans to use my apples for baking, so I only ended up picking seven – just enough to snack on throughout the week! Despite not picking many, I had a great time and was so happy to have my cousin with me for my first apple picking experience!

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Oh, and just because I didn’t have any plans for making any apple baked goodies didn’t mean that I was about to pass up on trying someone else’s apple baked goodies. While checking out, I picked up a pack of apple cider donuts while my cousin sprang for the caramel popcorn. All I’ll say about the donuts is that they were gone in a matter of three days. Let’s just leave it at that, alright?

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Apple picking session #2 was with Mister E this past weekend. The orchard we went to, Scott’s Orchards, was much more rustic looking since it bordered a forest and only had a fruit and vegetable stand opposed to a full-fledge market. Also, this time around the weather was noticeably cooler and much more Fall-like.

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The trees were pretty bare compared to a few weeks earlier when I went with my cousin – I’m not sure if that was the difference in orchards or if the season is already coming to an end. Quite a few apples were already on the ground rotting. This meant Mister E and I had to search hard to find decent quality apples, but we really enjoyed the excuse to walk up and down countless rows of apple trees and spend more time enjoying the Fall weather and scenery. Just check out some of these views!

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How do you like them apples? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

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As you can see, we made sure to pick quite a few apples since this time around, I am definitely going to be doing some baking with them.

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Oh, and on the way out we stopped to have a little fun in the pumpkin patch.

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When I asked a gentleman to the take the photo above of Mister E and I, he replied that he would be happy to, but mostly because he thought it would be embarrassing for us. Psh, he doesn’t know who he’s talking to if he thinks that a little Fall sign made for kids is all it’s going to take to embarrass me. Try walking around the mall with your dress stuck in the back your underwear for five minutes, Mister, and then come talk to me about embarrassing.

So what would you guys make if you had a big pile of apples sitting around? I’m thinking possibly apple butter, caramel apples, apple donuts, or maybe attempting an apple cinnamon coffee cake. I’ll keep you guys posted as to what comes out of my oven!