Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Liebster Award

This is the second notice I’ve received that I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award so I figured, “Oooooh okay, if TWO people now think I’m great then I guess I can indulge my dozens and dozens of readers with some facts about myself.”

#HumbleBrag

liebsteraward

After receiving the nomination, the blogger must:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you
  4. List 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers (as best as you can tell based on the info provided!). They should be bloggers that you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers that you nominated to answer; and
  6. Let all of the bloggers know that they’ve been nominated.  You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

The blogger who nominated me is Holly from Eat Great Be Great! (The first lovely blogger to nominate me was Mama Sonshine but I think I was too busy when I first got the notice to actually write the post and then I forgot… whoops).

Here are 11 random facts about me that you never even knew you wanted to know:
1: I’m not a big fan of kids, and really don’t know what to do with them.
2: I have double jointed thumbs and a double jointed shoulder blade.
3: My drink of choice is a gin and tonic.
4: The happiest moment of my life (to date) was when I found out I got into NYU as a transfer student after having been rejected a year and a half earlier.
5: My favorite place in the whole world is Dublin, Ireland.
6: A very close second is the Adirondacks.
7: When I was a kid my older brother and older cousin called me “Stormin’ Lauren” because I cried all. the. time.
8: It’s always been my not-so-secret dream to open a bed and breakfast in the mountains somewhere.
9: Because of the aforementioned dream, I like to read terrible mystery novels about a bed and breakfast owner in Maine who helps solve crimes like “Dead and Berried” and “Blueberry Blues.” There are recipes in the back and extensive descriptions of the breakfasts the inn owner makes every day. Please don’t judge me.
10: I graduated from college with a double major in English and Journalism, but I started my freshman year as a musical theater major. I was involved in theater my whole life and my breakout role was the sassy maid Pauline in Spry Middle School’s production of This Old House.
11: I am really goofy and my stand-up-comic boyfriend laughing at me is the best compliment ever.

11 Questions from Holly at Eat Great Be Great:

  1. Are you a city girl or a country girl?
    I live in the city but sometimes I really miss sleeping with the windows open and walking barefoot in the grass. Hopefully someday I’ll be a little of both.
  2. What’s your favorite movie?
    Father of the Bride Part 2
  3. What’s your favorite color?
    Blue
  4. If you’re stranded on a desert island, what are your 3 MUST have items?
    My best friend, some booze, and a board game. Because how freakin’ fun does that sound?
  5. What’s your favorite food?
    Pancakes
  6. What’s your favorite destination vacation?
    The Caribbean
  7. Do you have any siblings?
    Yes, my older but not wiser brother who still says things like, “Shut up, dork.”
  8. Chocolate or vanilla?
    Vanilla
  9. Who is the most important person in your life?
    This feels like a trap…
  10. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
    Morning person
  11. What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
    Sunday! It’s always felt like family day and it always centers around food (Sunday brunch, Sunday sauce, etc).

11 Bloggers I Nominate:
1: Love Buck Dispatches from Kerri
2: Crandle Cakes from Randi
3: That Skinny Chick Can Bake! from Liz
4: Mon Ami from Ami
5: Orchard Bloom from Maria
6: Bound from Julie
7: Ben Loves Ting from Ben and Ting
8: Act Like a Lady Eat Like a Man from Sara Ann
9: Her Name is Rachel from Rachel
10: Sarah the Architect from Sarah
11: Ursine Cuisine from Vicky

11 Questions for the Bloggers I Nominated:
1: If you could be any animal, which animal would you be?
2: What’s your sign?
3: Do you have any tattoos?
4: What is your death row meal (aka the last meal you’d choose if you were ever on death row)?
5: What would your friends say is your best quality?
6: It’s Friday night at 9PM – where are you?
7: If you had to pick one city to live in for the rest of your life, what city would it be?
8: What one person has shaped your life the most?
9: What is your favorite candy?
10: What is your greatest fear?
11: Pie or cake?

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If you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, congratulations! You have too much time on your hands and/or your day job is boring. Catch you on the flip side, friends.

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Forks Over Knives

forksoverknives

Just a quick Friday post to let you know about a really interesting documentary I stumbled upon on Netflix (FYI: Netflix has TONS and TONS of documentaries about food if you’re interested – and they’re not even paying me to say that).

Simply put, Forks Over Knives touts the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. It examines how most degenerative diseases can be controlled by eliminating animal-derived and processed foods from our diets (full disclosure: I’m eating a giant black and white cookie as I write this).

Brian Wendel, the creator and executive producer, digs deep to uncover Americans’ misconceptions about food, the benefits of cutting out animal products from your diet, and using food as medicine to cure or control degenerative diseases.

The research is fascinating, and I have to admit it affected how I did my grocery shopping the following day. I filled my cart with red peppers, cucumbers, and apples to take as snacks to work instead of yogurt like usual. I researched more veggie-heavy recipes instead of relying on pizza for a Friday meal. However… I took the messages in the film with a grain of salt. Maybe cutting out animal products really does prevent you from getting cancer, and there is no doubt that cutting out processed foods will help obese people control their diabetes and heart disease. But I think we can all point to an unhealthy vegetarian. Or someone who’s lived to 102, cancer free, but ate steaks and drank big glasses of milk once a week for their entire life. I’ll try to cut down on my unhealthy eating habits, but I’ll never say no to a cheeseburger.

Other incredible food documentaries on Netflix include: Vegucated; Jiro Dreams of Sushi; and Food Fight.

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Parmesan Chicken Cutlets and Warm Mustard Potato Salad

Parmesan chicken and mustard potato salad

This meal is not groundbreaking, it’s not difficult, and it’s not really anything new. But it feels complete, it took all of 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook, and it was delicious. Just add greenery. The asparagus we ate alongside this took forever to cook so we ate it as a kind of dessert. Oh, who am I kidding, we ate cookies for dessert and I put the asparagus in the fridge.

My reason for posting this recipe is the potato salad. Back when I was unemployed I was doing some recipe testing for a meal delivery website and more often than not, the recipes were mediocre and tasted like they were missing something. One in particular was a mustard potato salad that was SO bland and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I found a recipe in Real Simple magazine for a mustard potato salad that had a splash of red wine vinegar… and there was the missing ingredient. I once read on a blog, “if your dish is missing something, it’s probably an acid.” And in this case, it was true. You learn something everyday, kids.

On the menu:
Parmesan chicken cutlets and warm mustard potato salad
Serves 2

Chicken:
1 lb. of thinly sliced chicken cutlets
1 egg, scrambled
3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or my favorite kinda-bread-crumbs, crushed Ritz crackers)
Salt and pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

Potato salad:
2 cups small new potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put egg in shallow dish and scramble well. In another shallow dish, combine parmesan, bread crumbs, rosemary, salt and pepper. Dredge cutlets in egg and then bread crumb mixture. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and breading is browned.

Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot. Add potatoes and cook for approximately 16 – 18 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add mustard, red wine vinegar, oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Serve warm alongside chicken and a green vegetable.

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M&M Cookies

MM Cookies from LaurenFoodE
I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that most of my memories are tied to food, including my earliest memory of eating an apple at the YMCA while I watched my mom take aerobics class. So while I was perusing Pinterest a couple weeks ago, an image caught my eye that immediately took me back… back to the mall. Remember how you’d be walking through the mall on a weekend and suddenly there was a scent… a warm, chocolatey, freshly baked scent that forced you past 5-7-9, past DEB, past Charlotte Russe, past Wet Seal… to The Cookie Place. Did it have a real name? Who cares. To me it was The Cookie Place. I would beg my mom with every ounce of gusto I had in me for one of those beautiful cookies. Sometimes I got one, sometimes I didn’t. But when I did it was always the same: M&M. In the recesses of my mind it seemed like two treats in one, candy and a cookie. See what I did there? Always thinking.

It should be noted that later in life I would work at the mall across from said Cookie Place and I ate so many that I gained some weight… enough weight that one day the button on my pants popped while I was driving to the mall and when I got there I had to buy myself some new pants. It’s amazing how life comes full circle, am I right?

Anyway, I saw the picture on Pinterest and committed myself to making the mall M&M cookies. I did leave the blogger who originally posted them (Liz of the amazingly named That Skinny Chick Can Bake!) a note to make that these cookies are CHEWY and not CRISPY (obviously) and she assured me they are, in fact, chewy. That is, if you eat them within the first day or two of making them. But don’t worry. You will.

M&M Cookies
Makes approximately 18 cookies
Originally from That Skinny Chick Can Bake!

3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Add egg and egg yolk and combine. Add vanilla and combine. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the butter mixture and mix well until combined. Add flour and mix by hand.

Take 2 Tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Place dough balls on cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart (these spread a LOT) and flatten slightly with palm of your hand. Top with 6 – 8 M&Ms and press down a little so they’re nestled in the dough.

Bake for 11 – 13 minutes or until brown around the edges. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Rant: Lay’s Potato Chips

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I have a food gripe and this being my own personal food blog, what better place to air my grievances? I feel like someone just answered, “In your head, you jerk” but I don’t care. Read no further if you don’t like complaints.

Let me start by saying that in my day job, I work in marketing and I’ve worked in the field for six years now at a bevy of companies. I know what it means to come up with a campaign and push it so that your products sell. So when Lay’s announced it would be running a contest to name its newest flavor of potato chip, I envisioned a group of marketing executives sitting around a big conference table in an office somewhere throwing around ideas and running with this one. They hired a couple celebs (a chef for legitimacy and an actress for flair), filmed some commercials, and spent God-only-knows-how-much money to promote it. They chose three flavors (Sriracha, chicken and waffles, and cheesy garlic bread) and produced the chips for people to try. They’re now conducting another vote and the winning flavor will be added to their regular lineup of chips.

So who of you out there has tasted these chips? Because I cannot find them EHHH-NEEEE-WHERRRE. Not only can I not find them anywhere in New York City (Hey Lay’s, not sure if you know this, but there are a LOT of people who like food in this city) but my mom can’t find them in Rochester and according to the Lay’s Facebook page, people can’t find them in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, or Kansas. From the people who have tasted them (every high profile food writer on the internet, apparently) the chips are “meh.” They taste kind of fake, the flavors are weird, and no one wants to eat a whole bag. But gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if we laymen (no pun intended) could try them out for ourselves?

I’m sure some of you out there are thinking, “Duh Lauren, if the chips are limited in quantity then that makes them more in demand and LOOK you’re even writing a blog post about the fact that you can’t get them!” But let me ask you this, dear reader: what good is publicity for a product you CAN’T BUY? Sure, there’s buzz for Lay’s. Their Facebook impressions have probably gone up since this campaign started. But most of the “buzz” is outrage at the poor marketing campaign. Angry customers are boycotting Lay’s because it’s kind of like that hot girl who teases you into thinking you can date her and then cut to three months from now when she’s still playing hard to get and you’re like, “You know what, girl, you are just. not. worth it. Now I’ll date your less-popular-but-way-more-reliable friend because instead of making me run all over town for the possibility of a taste she’ll hang with me on my couch watching television every night of the week.” (Disclaimer: I do not eat potato chips every night.)

Guys, I’m annoyed. I just wanted to try those terrible chips and write about them. I wanted to crumble them up and coat some chicken cutlets with them. I wanted to compare the Sriracha flavored Lay’s with some homemade potato chips I made with real Sriracha. But now I can’t. And I’m kinda ticked.

If you happen to stumble upon this elusive snack, please let me know. I want to hear what you think about it. Meanwhile I’ll be at home eating Cape Cod. They just came out with a flavor called “Feta and Rosemary” and that sounds just fine to me.

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Spinach, Tomato and Chicken Pasta Bake

Spinach, tomato and chicken bake
Is there a better combination than basil, tomato, and mozzarella? There’s something so soothing about the familiar flavor combination and truth be told, I’ll look for any excuse I can to use it. A few weeks back I marinated cherry tomatoes in espresso balsamic vinegar and skewered them with squares of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, and called it an appetizer. Or I called it dinner. Whatever.

This chicken pasta bake is easy as pie and is a great way to use up leftover shredded chicken if you have some in the fridge. And who doesn’t ALWAYS have leftover shredded chicken in the fridge? This is also a brilliant way to get spinach-haters to eat the good greens. The BF barely noticed it underneath all that cheese. #Win

On the menu:
Spinach, tomato and chicken pasta bake
Serves 3

1 1/2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
2 cups fresh spinach
1 medium sized tomato, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to instructions.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until spinach is cooked down. Add chicken and basil and stir until combined.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken mixture, ricotta cheese, and 1/2 the mozzarella. Stir mixture until combined and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a large baking dish (I used a 9 inch round tart dish) and cover with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

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