Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chili Lime Salmon with Pineapple Rice Salsa

This winter seems to be characterized by ever changing, always surprising weather. Today, the roadways are flooded, traffic lights are out across town and I struggled to get out of bed where I was snuggled up with Trevor, nice and warm. But yesterday? Yesterday, you would have thought that winter's weather was gone for good. Tomorrow, the sun and warmth (a high of 60?) is to return.

With it being more or less a sick week for Trevor and I, we decided to spend our Tuesday night in. We had tossed around the idea of seeing Wanderlust but thought it would be wiser to stay home for the night. That being said, we did eventually decide on a last minute trip to Dairy Queen for blizzards later - we were getting a little bit stir crazy. 

Our three day fruit frenzy last week reminded both Trevor and I just how great fresh pineapple can taste. Weis had them on sale last week - buy one get one free. At the time, I rolled my eyes as I put two in my cart. I had no idea what I would do with two pineapples in my apartment of 1. Surprisingly, they were eaten in a matter of days. Especially the second one, since I finally realized that pineapples have a core which must be cut out of them (who knew?!).

Imagine my surprise when I offered to cook Trevor dinner last night and his idea of dinner was pineapple and rice. If you've been following along for any amount of time, you probably know that pineapple and rice isn't an adequate challenge for me. But since the warm weather had me craving fish, I thought perhaps I could make a summer style dish that incorporated both rice and pineapple.

After searching for various recipes, I thought I'd make pineapple fried rice but everything I found required curry, coconut milk or some variation of thai ingredients. Not what I had in mind. Instead, I found a recipe for a pineapple rice salsa and figured that it would do.

Like I said, both pineapples were already eaten though so I had to make a trip to Giant. For those of you not in the York area, let me express to you my anger with my local Giant. They're remodeling and nothing is where it should be. Plus, an entire aisle has been dedicated to kosher foods for passover. (A great place to find gluten free goodies, might I add!) After running into Rachel and helping her find the pancake syrup which was tucked in the seasonal section, I grabbed a few ingredients and looked for fresh fish to use. I had planned to make tuna, or even red snapper if they had it but the only appealing fish was fresh salmon. (It was Giant, after all.)

Rather than simply cooking dinner at my apartment and taking it over to Trevor, he suggested that we cook together. Sometimes, I love having a chef for a boyfriend. Most times, that is. So between half a recipe and our two minds, we came up with the following dish, Chili Lime Salmon with Pineapple Rice Salsa. 

None of these photos are great - Trevor gets frustrated when I take too many photos of our food and it gets cold before we can eat. Do you blame him?
So, long story short - I was in a hurry but it at least gives you an idea of what to expect!
It's a mixture of sweet and spicy, and the perfect dish to welcome in some warm weather. It would be even better prepared over a grill in the summer but we have a few months to go. In the meantime, you can make it like this:

You will need the following ingredients:
2 Cups of Rice (brown, white, jasmine) - I chose to use Minute brand Brown Rice
2 Cups of Fresh Pineapple
6 Green Onions
2 Fresh Limes
2 Fresh Jalapeno Peppers
3 Tbsp of Fresh Cilantro
2 Cloves of Garlic
Chili Powder
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Salt (preferably freshly ground Sea Salt)

Before doing anything else, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

To Make the Rice: 

  1. Make your rice. If you are using Minute Brown Rice, boil 1 3/4 cups of water with a little bit of salt. Add two cups of rice. Return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for five minutes. Then remove the rice from the heat and let it sit until you are ready to add the other ingredients.
  2. Chop the pineapple. Trevor and I couldn't agree on the best way to prepare the pineapple. I do it by cutting off both ends of the pineapple, I then cut it into quarters. Remove the core from each quarter. Cut the quarter down the middle into two halves - remove the skin and chop into fine pieces. You will need about one quarter of a pineapple to get between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of pineapple for this recipe.
  3. Chop your green onions. 
  4. Chop your cilantro. Try to keep your fresh herbs dry, they will cut better. I previously always chopped cilantro in my food processor but yesterday, Trevor taught me how to do it by hand - use whichever method works best for you. Feel free to use the stems and leaves for this recipe, both provide a nice flavor. You'll want about three tablespoons for your rice. Keep the extra for garnish and for future recipes.
  5. Mince your jalapenos. The jalapenos give this recipe a nice heat to it. I find it easiest to slice the peppers into thin slices and then remove the seeds. Be careful when preparing your peppers as the heat will stay on your fingers for hours - careful not to touch your eyes or mouth. If you don't like spicy foods, feel free to only use one pepper or even no peppers at all. You will want to finely mince the pepper slices.
  6. Crush and mince one or two cloves of garlic. 
  7. Mix together the rice, pineapple, green onions, cilantro, jalapenos and garlic.
  8. Add Lime. Take a lime and cut it in half. Squeeze all of the juice into your rice mixture, then place the squeezed half of the lime and bury it under the rice.
  9. Place on the stovetop over low heat while the salmon is cooking. Feel free to add salt and pepper to your taste. 

To Prepare Your Salmon:
We bought a filet of salmon which was just over a pound - this made three nice sized portions of fish. You can feel free to use whatever size you feel is appropriate. You can also substitute a different type of fish if you prefer or if you have better access to fresh fish than we do here in central PA - just note that cooking times will vary if you aren't using salmon.

  1. Skin the fish. The filet we purchased came with the skin still on. You will want to remove this before cooking the fish, obviously.
  2. Make sure the fish is dry. After sitting in a package, your fish filet may be covered in condensation. Take paper towels and make sure to get your filet nice and dry.
  3. Slice into appropriate sized portions.
  4. Rub the filet with garlic. We simply crushed a clove of garlic and then rubbed it on the outside of the filets.
  5. Prepare a rub for your fish. Trevor created his rub out of chili powder but also added his own special blend of seasonings, affectionately called "Trevor Kondor Season All". Feel free to use ingredients like black pepper, lemon pepper, old bay, or whatever you think would work best to create your own seasoning! It's easiest to create the rub on a paper plate which can just be tossed after using. 
  6. Coat the sides of your fish in the seasoning mixture. 
  7. Squeeze one half of a fresh lime over the fish. 
  8. Heat a pan for your fish. Everyone should have a good fish pan and I highly recommend using one for this. If you don't have a specific pan set aside for fish, make sure you choose a fairly large skillet with a handle that can be put in the oven. You will want to heat the pan over medium to high heat. You can see if the pan is hot enough by adding a drop of water - if the water evaporates in a second or two, it is hot enough. If the water skitters around the pan first, the pan is too hot and should be allowed to cool off of the burner for about thirty seconds. 
  9. Add oil to your pan and make sure that its nicely coated before adding your fish. 
  10. Cook the salmon for two minutes without touching it. After the two minutes passes, use a spatula to lift the corner of a filet. If it is nicely browned and releases from the pan easily, flip it over. 
  11. Brown the other side of the salmon by cooking it for one minute. Then transfer your skillet to the oven which should be heated to 400 degrees.
  12. Bake the salmon for 4 - 7 minutes, until done. The length of time to bake your salmon will depend on the thickness of the filets. 

When your salmon is finished, remove the rice from the stove and plate the two together! Feel free to sprinkle the dish with some of the extra fresh cilantro you chopped or to garnish it with a fresh strawberry or a slice of lime. Then, eat dinner with someone you love! (That's the important part.) Also feel free to follow dinner with dessert. In our case, dessert came in the form of a large heath bar blizzard and a mini chocolate cherry blizzard. Can you guess who had which? And did I mention.. this recipe is naturally gluten-free and also free of 7 of the 8 top allergens (peanuts, eggs, soy, milk, wheat, tree nuts and shellfish). Plus, it has no added fat (other than the oil used to prepare the fish) or sugar. Hopefully you'll enjoy this recipe! I know that we found it to be delicious and a great way to start getting in shape for the summer season quickly approaching.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Plus One

Yesterday, I was tagged in a little blogger game - Eleven Things, by Sam who writes over at Wrong Decade. Coincidentally, my answer post falls on a Tuesday and while the theme is typically a list of ten, today's Ten on Tuesday is plus one. The basis for the game is easy, after all, there are only five rules:

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them.

Eleven Random Things:

1. Lately I've been thinking a lot about getting a tattoo. I can't decide what I want to get (a feather, birds, a quote?) or where on my body to put it (my hip, my wrist, my foot, my side, my back?). Recently though, I found out that people with dermographia, a weird condition where you get welts when scratched, shouldn't get tattoos and I'm having a hard time giving up the ideas I had planned out.

2. I seem to become easily obsessed with specific foods and will eat the exact same thing for many meals, or even days, in a row. Last week, for three days straight, I ate little other than fruits and vegetables. Afterwards, I spent three days eating Progresso's "Chicken Corn Chowder". Sometime's it's guacamole, fresh salmon or macaroni and cheese. Sometimes I worry that it's a bad dietary habit and that I will end up like the Chicken McNuggets girl.

3. In the past three or four years, I've managed to shatter three iPhone screens. Despite the ever increasing cost to fix them, I continue to buy and use only iPhones. This afternoon, I will be spending $90 to fix my latest accident. Oops.

4. If I had to pick one thing to drink for the rest of my life, it would be iced chai. My boyfriend claims to have a chai recipe which will change my tea drinking habits and dependence on Starbucks for good. That being said, he still hasn't made it for me.

5. If I could trade places with any celebrity, it would have to be Chelsea Handler. I think she is the funniest woman alive and I love that she's famous for little other than being funny and being a bitch - plus she gets to hang out with Ross Matthews. I'm obsessed with "Chelsea Lately" and Trevor and I make it a point to watch it daily. That being said, "Are you there, Chelsea?" just isn't my cup of tea.

6. Given the option, I would quit college today and not really consider it twice. I really don't think that it's my thing and I'm not sure how I am supposed to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life when I'm only twenty years old.

7. When I have a huge to-do list or exams to study for, I am likely to procrastinate by cooking or baking. Especially since moving to my own apartment, cooking has become one of my favorite hobbies.

8. Speaking of procrastinating, it's one of the things I rarely do. After four years of high school, being unorganized and stressed to complete projects, I entered college with great time management and organization skills. I constantly lost points on assignments for losing important documents, having crumpled forms or simply forgetting to turn them in on time. Now? My papers are hole punched and put in my binder right away, I have two calendars and a day planner, and I color code and prioritize all of my assignments and to-do lists.

9. My musical tastes are constantly changing and evolving. Thanks to Trevor, I have an iPod with almost 16,000 songs which range from Adele to jazz to reggae to Nine Inch Nails. My mood generally dictates what I'm listening to. This week? I'm all about Ellie Goulding.

10. Sundays are my favorite day of the week. I spend all week counting down to them because it means a day of sleeping in, playing with Buddy, going out to eat somewhere fun and spending the whole day just being with Trevor. I probably should use this one day off of work and school to be productive but I think that having a day for yourself and just to relax is important.

11. Recently, I've been doing power yoga a few times each week. I find it ridiculously difficult to spend ninety minutes in a ninety degree room. Though I don't do too badly at the physical aspects and poses of yoga (if you take my heart into consideration), I am far from achieving the mental balance associated with the practice.

Eleven Questions from Sam: 

1. Are you a shoe or bag person, and why? 
I am really neither of the two but if I had to choose, I would say that I am a shoe person. Right now, I'm not even carrying a bag. I don't go out of my way to buy shoes, nor do I like to spend a lot of money on them, but I do have a few obsessions like Sperry's. Plus, I've been really craving a cute pair of Tom's!

2. Do you have a favourite kind of outfit? 
I have a lot of fashion styles that I love including dresses with fun colored tights, but when it comes to my own outfits, I find that I'm drawn to leggings, knee high socks, fun scarves, boots and cardigans in the winter. (Especially in neutral colors.) Come spring and summer, I love thin sweaters, patterns, floral prints, tank tops and strappy flat sandals.

3. What would your dream home look like on the outside? 
I've never dreamed of having a very big house. I'd like a fairly small home with a brick or stone exterior. I would also love to have a wrap around porch with a wooden porch swing or nice outdoor furniture. It would definitely have an outdoor shower for the summertime, a hammock or outdoor bed in the back yard, and lot's of fun outdoor lighting. I would also love to have water nearby - that could mean living near a lake, being close to the ocean or just having a stream or pond in the yard. A garden is a must, as well. I love having access to homegrown fruits and vegetables.

4. Is there a film you can watch over and over without getting sick of it? 
I get tired of movies after seeing them two or three times, unlike Trevor who makes me watch "the Other Guys" at least twice a week. That being said, I can watch films like Black Swan or Inception multiple times because my understanding of the movie changes each time that I see it.

5. What is one of your favourite things about who you are? 
I always took it for granted but apparently, not everyone is creative or excels at creative hobbies and tasks like drawing, photography, or design. I seem to have "an eye" for these things and that has always come naturally to me. As I get older, I appreciate this about myself more and more.

6. What is one of your favourite things about how you look? 
A few months ago, I made the decision to cut my hair short. I think it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. In my opinion, I look older and "more polished" so to speak. Plus, it's fun and easy! I never enjoying spending a lot of time on my hair.

7. Assume you have lots of money and can help out a cause/charity. Which cause/charity would it be and why? 
Given the opportunity to donate money to any charity, I would choose the Penn State Dance Marathon. Ultimately this money benefits the Four Diamonds Fund and children and families battling pediatric cancer. Because of some very special kids in my life, like Kasey, Maddie, Ava, and Becca, fighting pediatric cancer is a cause that I strongly stand behind. THON has also been such an important part of my life in the past three years and I am excited to see it grow and expand in the future. If you didn't know, this year, THON, with only the help of student volunteers, raised $10.68 million! 

8. If you could have any animal in the world as a companion/pet, which would it be and why?
The boring answer to this question would simply be a dog. Thanks to Buddy, I've developed a soft spot for Pit Bulls and would love to have one of my own. I think that they are often misjudged as mean and viscous because of dog fighting but really, Buddy is a snuggly baby who thinks he's nothing other than a lap dog. A pit bull obviously isn't ideal since I'm a pretty petite person and well, Buddy weighs 80 pounds, over 70% of what I weigh!! (But for a more exciting answer, I'd love to have a cute little hedgehog to snuggle!)

9. What are some things that calm you down when you’re feeling stressed? 
Wearing leggings (whenever I have a busy or stressful day ahead, I dress in comfy clothes like leggings and my Sperry's). Snuggling with Trevor and Buddy. A trip for italian ice or a snow cone, even if it's alone. Cooking. Turning on my favorite music and listening to it nice and loud. A free hour at Starbucks with a chai latte and time to browse photography websites and my favorite blogs.

10. If you were to invent your own fancy beverage (say, for Starbucks), what would it contain? 
The only beverage I wish existed that currently doesn't is a caffeine free version of Dr. Pepper. Ideally, Diet Dr.Pepper Cherry, only without caffeine. My life would be complete! I really don't understand why soda needs caffeine added to it, anyway.

11. Burgers or pizza?
I would definitely say pizza except that gluten free pizza can't even begin to compare to real pizza. (The pizza that I make at home is delicious though!) That being said, burgers are delicious whether eaten with a roll, a gluten free roll, or nothing at all and so ultimately, burgers would have to be my answer.

I am tagging: Trevor who just started his own blog, Marisa (a high school friend and author of the College Cuisiner), and Liatra. Feel free to use my questions and participate, too - even if you weren't tagged! If you decide to play along, leave a comment here so that I can view your responses!

The questions for those of you who were tagged:
1. If you could see any book turned into a movie, what book would it be and why?
2. If your home was on fire, what would be the first thing that you would grab?
3. What is the one thing you are most afraid of?
4. What candy bar do you think is most like your personality?
5. If you could learn any skill or hobby, what would it be?
6. If you could be part of any TV or movie family, which family would it be and why?
7. Given the chance to trade places with any celebrity, which celebrity would you pick?
8. If cost was not a factor, where in the world would you choose to live?
9. What is your most memorable vacation, road trip or adventure?
10. What one trait is a necessity for you to find in a significant other?
11. If you could only eat out at one restaurant for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

I had a lot of fun with this little "game" and found it to be a challenge, too. Thanks Sam for tagging me! I hope that those of you I tagged will participate - I'm anxious to see your facts and answers!

I hope you're all having a happy, sunny, Tuesday! It sure does feel like spring, today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm never leaving my bed.

I don't know how many times I've said the words "I'm never leaving my bed" in the past sixteen hours but as more hours pass, the more sure I become of that fact. Though I'm sick with a wealth of bizarre problems most days of my life, I never seem to catch anything contagious. The last time I had the flu? A cold? It seems that until I catch one of the two, enough time passes to allow me to forget just how terrible I am at being sick. I whine. I cry. I beg my boyfriend to buy my tissues. I have to call off work. I sleep, a lot. And today? That's exactly what I'm doing.

My stomach hasn't felt quite right since last week but on Monday, I woke up and could hardly crawl out of bed and drag myself to work. Yesterday? I never made it to my Research Methods class. Today? Today, I'm not leaving my bed.

The boyfriend hasn't been feeling well either so we decided that it'd be a great idea to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for three days, starting last night. After somehow braving snow tubing (more on that later), I wanted nothing more than to crawl in bed but Trevor insisted on a grocery store trip before hand. Somehow, in my sick delirium, I couldn't find my wallet anywhere (turns out it was in my bag.. on the top.. right where I put it.. and looked for it) so that meant a trip back to the grocery store for me this morning. But first, I took three Advil, my heart medicine and begged for a Benedryl but before I had time to be upset about the third, I was asleep. This morning, I woke up feeling even worse. I snuggled Buddy until Trevor was down showering then I called off work and headed to buy myself some fruit and vegetables of my own.

For some strange reason, the registers at Giant were not working and after completing all my grocery shopping, standing in line sniffling, sneezing and eyes watering for forty minutes, I ended up having to put everything back and head across the street to Weis where my shopping cart was quickly filled with two cantaloupes, two pineapples, three oranges, three gala apples, three overly-ripe bananas, two boxes cherry tomatoes, a head of broccoli, an enormous head of cauliflower, a big bag of spinach, baby carrots, and a little foam basket of mushrooms. Plus, a container of Simply Orange juice with pulp. (Trevor hates pulp.)

Perhaps I wouldn't feel quite as terrible if I hadn't braved the cold and wind for a free trip snow tubing. Since I had to do laundry anyway, I figured I might as well go for at least a few photographs to send to Sean. So, it was decided.

At first, I thought it would be easy to spot Aiden headed down the hill - he and my dad were covered in camoflauge. What I didn't realize soon enough was that so was everyone else. It was free tubing night for Warrington Township, after all.

That also meant running into plenty of Aiden's friends - all girls, of course. It took much negotiating to figure out how five six-year-olds would be able to tube together. For whatever reason, I volunteered to take two of them down the hill but after realizing just how icy the conditions were, I begged for help. Plus, my mom had to say "don't let them tip out of their tubes!," just before we were about to go.

One trip down the hill was all that I needed to quench my thirst for adventure and snow. Besides, I wasn't nearly patient enough for the "magic carpet" ride to the top, and the line of people waiting for tubes was quickly growing. Instead, we took cover in the lodge with hot chocolate and brownies, of course.

There are talks of returning for another snow tubing adventure, Trevor in tow but for now? I've got two exams to study for, a project to start and finish (today), vegetables to eat, a box of tissues to use, and a few naps to take.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Valentine's Day

Let's start off with the obvious - it's currently, actually, 10:03 on Wednesday the 15th of February. Clearly, I was too caught up in Valentine's celebrations to make time for a Ten on Tuesday post to honor the holiday. Instead, you'll get the left over version. It's just like the Reese's hearts I bought tonight, half price and just as sweet. Okay, the "just as sweet" part applies, at least!

Yesterday would have been a much better time to write this post, perhaps while I was still high off of chocolate, doughnuts and Valentine's day romance. Now? My boyfriend is angry with me and I feel really terrible about it so, I'm trying even harder to make sure this post tells you just how great he is.

Typically, Ten on Tuesday is easy for me to accomplish. I'm stuck on campus from 11 until 4 and I've got plenty of time to sneak in a little post. Yesterday, that wasn't the case. On Friday, my cardiologist decided to change my heart medication and there was simply no way I could attend school all day and then work a busy, crowded evening at the Blue Heron. So, I compromised.

I woke up yesterday to a chocolate dipped doughnut on a popsicle stick. Better yet, it was adorned with little sprinkle hearts, and the word "luv". I almost demanded a new one due to the poor spelling choice but it was so delicious, I didn't mind after the first bite.

Apparently, Trevor snuck out of bed early in the morning to make it to Starbucks and Maple Doughnuts without me waking up. Breakfast in bed. And better yet, a breakfast that I don't normally allow myself. My doctor insists that I stop eating chocolate and we all know that doughnuts are made from wheat, plus caffeine is a no, too. But...Valentine's comes only once a year.

After indulging, we may or may not have overslept until 10:00. (Oops.)

As a kid, I loved the holiday. There was nothing more exciting than picking out Valentine's cards, scribbling a list of names on them and decorating your mailbox for the party at school. As a teenager, I grew to hate it. Once, I was given a chocolate pig filled with red and pink candy corn. Another time? A video game. The whole thing just seems so silly to me. Despite that, I enjoyed my morning date. (And my valentine? he loved his Ferrero Rocher.. even if it fell off of the roof of my car while I was driving forty miles per hour. Seriously.)

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I would tell you ten reasons why I absolutely adore Trevor. Cheesy? Probably. Like me? Not at all. But hey, this one's different.

1. He calls pizza crusts, "pizza bones". 
If you didn't put it together yet, Trevor has a wonderful, giant, Pit Bull - Buddy. Once upon a time, before January 1st of 2012, Buddy could eat lots and lots of people food. Luckily for Buddy, Trevor is not a fan of pizza crusts. One day, while eating pizza, Trevor told Buddy to go lay down, he could have the pizza bones when we were done. Of course I died of laughter. Pizza bones? I'd never heard the term. According to Trevor, if you have a dog, you know the term. My sources disagree. Never the less, I have to think about "pizza bones" anytime I'm eating pizza.

2. He's a chef!
This is an obvious reason to love anyone, right? For special occasions, Trevor always creates beautiful and delicious meals for us! For my birthday, we had fire roasted pork with mango salsa, roasted asparagus and white chocolate mousse. Just last week, he made gorgeous "Superbowl sandwiches" with a wonderful side of greens and potato salad. What I enjoy more than the food he makes is watching him cook. I miss having him at work where I got to see it more often but there's nothing more exciting than being kicked out of the kitchen when Trevor wants to concentrate or surprise me. I also love when we get to cook together, even if its just midnight pancakes.

In case you couldn't decipher, this is Trevor cooking for my birthday - a day when I was banned from the kitchen.
3. He looks so cute, I mean seriously cute, when he sleeps.
I may or may not have an entire collection of iPhone photos of Trevor and Buddy sleeping. (Is that creepy?) I would be more than happy to show you evidence of just how cute he looks but, he knows this URL and I can't begin to imagine how upset he would be to see a photograph of himself sleeping posted on the world wide web.

4. I've never seen a guy love his dog so much.
And it's so endearing. Buddy is essentially a toddler and Trevor treats him as his own son.. or best friend.. or worst enemy. It really depends on the day. I do know though that Trevor loves Buddy more than anything and I think the feeling is mutual. We tuck him in every night with his own blanket, he only gets small bags of dog food so that it stays fresh, we let him take people showers with us. He's loved. 


5.  He sets every Sunday aside to spend a special, lazy, day with me. And only me.
Trevor and I cherish our Sundays together. If you've ever tried to make Sunday plans with me, you know that I will always turn them down. Our busy work schedules prevent us from spending too many daylight hours together and we usually make it through the week on late night dinners, Chelsea Lately, and sleeping together. When Sunday rolls around, we spend the day sleeping in, taking Buddy to run silly errands, always eating at one of our favorite places, and doing pretty much nothing else. We usually manage to sneak in a nap, too. Today, I'm craving a Sunday. Sleeping in on Valentine's Day was such a tease!

Sunday Brunch at John Wright.

6. He hates York, Pennsylvania as much as I do.
I know that seems like a silly reason to love someone but, there's logic behind it, I swear. I love being with someone who likes to travel, experience new places, and eat local cuisine from many different areas. I also like being able to lay in bed together and daydream about all the other places we could live. Perhaps one day it will be Montana. Or Arizona. Or New Mexico. If Trevor gets his way, Arizona will be off the list, though.

7. He takes good care of me when I'm sick... which is essentially every day. 
If you've ever dealt with any scary emotional or physical illness, you know that being alone sometimes makes it worse. Trevor is wonderful about checking on me when I'm not feeling well, picking me up from the hospital, reminding me to take my medicine, not letting me run at the gym, and always sleeping with me when I've had a bad or off day. (If you couldn't tell, sleeping is really important to us. We love it.) I think that my mom loves him for this reason, perhaps even more than I do.

8. He cleans a lot.
I guess that's sort of a brief summary of my point. I love that my boyfriend is neat and tidy! I know that seems silly but when you hang out in a place called "the third floor man cave", you never know what to expect. I never have to worry, though. Trevor is always cleaning and rearranging. (He's also a self-proclaimed furniture whore.) My favorite cleaning fact has got to be that Trevor chooses to vacuum his couch without a hose. Instead, he uses the whole vacuum. (This picture still makes me smile months later.)

9. He always makes time to talk to me and to see me, too. 
I suppose this goes hand in hand with our special Sunday plans, or no-plans, rather but, Trevor always makes it a priority to spend time with me. We don't do a lot of "dates". Last time, and actually the first time, we went to the movies, I slept through the entire thing! Instead, we laid in bed after and watched it snow. If we both have busy days, Trevor will insist that we go grab breakfast. If I've worked late? We'll go for a late dinner at Round the Clock. He will even put up with me talking super fast and non-stop while he tries to finish paperwork after work. Likewise, Trevor also makes it a point to talk to me during our busy days. At least once, if not twice, each day, Trevor calls me just to say hi and to see how my day is going. Yesterday? He called to say, and I quote, "Happy Valentine's Day! I love Dillsburg and I love you!". These phone calls are the highlight of my afternoons!

10. The reason why I adore Trevor the most is because I could go on and on with this list and never run out of reasons to adore him! I know that sounds cliche but it's entirely true. Did I tell you that he writes? Or perhaps that he is really good at rubbing my back? Or how about the week when I had a non-stop migraine and he drove the whole way to my apartment for ice packs and a heating pad? I wouldn't be exaggerating if I told you he's the best thing that's ever happened to me. And if you know anything about me, you know that I don't say cheesy things like that about guys very often, if ever.

I hope that you had a perfect Valentine's Day with the one you love! Perhaps one filled with lots of hearts and chocolate, too. If that didn't happen for you this year, let me tell you - finding a guy this good? It's well worth the wait. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Walnut Crusted Chicken Salad

Between my restricted diet, living alone and having to pack lunches, I've learned that it's best to make dinners with leftovers that can be eaten in different ways. After all, if I make tacos for myself one evening, I'm bound to eat tacos or taco salad for the next four meals - I hate wasting food. Thankfully the boys at work are always willing to step in and finish my taco leftovers for me.

Last night, I made walnut crusted chicken. At the Blue Heron yesterday, Kristin had created a walnut crusted chicken salad with caramelized apples and bleu cheese dressing for a lunch special. When she served it, I couldn't help but drool. Luckily, I had all the every ingredient I needed for my interpretation already in my little pantry.

With a free night for both Trevor and I, it seemed fitting to make dinner at home. Especially since the night before included an 10:00p.m. dinner date at "Round the Clock Diner" where I ate a mushroom and swiss burger (without the bun, of course) and a copious amount of french fries. But gosh, were those fries good.

For dinner, I served the chicken on a bed of spinach (I made a resolution to eat more dark leafy greens!) with red skin mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. It seems that any dinner I make lately is accompanied by the same sides. Unfortunately, the potatoes started off too starchy, developed in to too salty and after I added cream cheese to cut the salt, neither Trevor or I wanted to eat them. But of course we did.

Knowing that I had to pack lunch for school today, I made sure to bake extra chicken for my own interpretation of the salad which Kristin had created. Though I'm no chef, and certainly not as talented as Kristin, the salad? It was delicious and so I thought I'd share. Oh, and the best part.. my version? It's gluten free.

To make the walnut crusted chicken above, you will need the following ingredients:

2 Chicken Breasts - sliced in half
1/3 Cup of Chopped Walnuts
2 Tablespoons of Grated Parmesan
2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Large Egg White
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Coarse Salt (I use fresh ground sea salt, personally.)

For the salad, you will also need:

Fresh Spinach
Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 Hardboiled Egg
1 Tomato (I recommend on the vine tomatoes during this time of year.)
Additional Chopped Walnuts
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

To make your Walnut Crusted Chicken...

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (F).
  • Take two cloves of garlic and press them with the back of a wide chef's knife. Or if you are fancy and own a garlic press, go ahead and use it!
  • Place the two cloves of garlic in a food processor and chop them into fairly fine pieces.
  • Add 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts and 2 tablespoons of parmesan to the garlic
  • Process all of these ingredients until everything is uniform in size - this will be the coating for your chicken.
  • (If you don't eat gluten free, feel free to add two slices of dried out bread before processing)
  • Dump the mixture into a fairly large and shallow bowl.
  • In a small dish, beat an egg white with a whisk until it is nice and frothy.
  • Next, take your chicken breasts and slice them in half down the center.
  • Take each breast and dip it in the egg white until it is covered.
  • Then, place the chicken in the walnut coating and make sure that it is covered on both sides. It sometimes helps to press the coating with your hand onto the chicken. This doesn't have to be perfect. You should have enough coating for four chicken breast halves.
  • In an ovenproof skillet (ideally one large enough for all of your chicken), add olive oil and heat over medium to high heat.
  • Place the chicken in the skillet and cook it for about 3 or 4 minutes until it is browned on the bottom side.
  • Grind fresh salt and pepper over the chicken breasts.
  • Then, using a spatula, carefully flip the chicken over in the pan and grind salt and pepper over this side of the chicken, as well. (Some of your walnut coating may fall off - once again, don't worry about it being perfect.)
  • Place the entire skillet in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes.
At this point, your chicken is finished and could be served for dinner with any sides that you choose! But if you are looking to create a salad with it, here's what I did:

If you haven't already hard boiled an egg, you should complete that step before working on your salad. When you're ready to start the salad, this is what you do:
  • Place the amount of spinach you need for your salad in a small glass bowl.
  • Drizzle the spinach with a small amount of honey - this helps to mellow out the balsamic vinegar.
  • Adequately cover the spinach with a balsamic vinaigrette. I love this one from Kraft, it's made with real olive oil! 
  • Using your hands, toss the spinach until its nicely coated. Feel free to add as much vinaigrette as you like on your salad.
  • Once you're done tossing, wash your hands - they will be sticky for the honey! (yes, I know that was a silly step but I was shocked when I was done tossing!)
  • Spread your spinach over a fairly large plate.
  • Slice the walnut crusted chicken (hot or cold, your preference), and place in the center of the salad.
  • Add tomato slices and hard boiled egg. Use as much of these ingredients as you prefer! 
  • Sprinkle the salad with parmesan cheese, chopped walnuts and fresh ground black pepper. 

Since I had baked the chicken and boiled my egg the night before, this salad only took five or six minutes to create. This makes it a quick, easy meal and a great packed lunch! You can also try creating this with different greens, with shaved asiago, with caramelized apples or you could even coat the chicken in pecans or almonds, instead! However you decide to create your salad, enjoy it! And know that you're taking the time to do something that's good for you, too - it will make your lunch even more delicious. Or, you could be like my mom and eat TV dinners. (I consider her post a win for me)

If you are interested in other easy to make, healthy and college-kid friendly recipes, check out The College Cuisiner, a blog by my friend Marisa. She posts recipes, different meals she has when out and about and.. as an added bonus, she's currently studying abroad in London, so you can get a glimpse of Europe and her travels, too!  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Winter Wonderland

I'm sitting at my kitchen table and as I write this, I can see through the window that the snow is still falling. Even with less than two inches expected, my yard has seemed to transform itself into a winter wonderland. The three story brick house which I now call home is surrounded by trees on all sides. Berry bushes line the front sidewalk. When the snow falls, it coats the branches of both and makes the entire yard look surreal. Coming home to snow here is always beautiful. Tomorrow's forecast for 45 degrees warranted a quick trip outside to document the splendor that snow brings.

Tonight, I'm staying home to watch the snow, snuggle up with my boyfriend, perhaps accomplish some homework, and make walnut crusted chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. How are you enjoying the snow day?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Wanderlust

[Source: Here Comes the Sun]
The oddly sunny and warm winter weather has me feeling extra creative and inspired lately. (Even though snow is in the forecast for tomorrow.) Last week, I went thrifting and scored a black and white vintage dress while my parents managed to buy me three antique cameras at auction. What I haven't done? Photographed anything. And now more than ever I find myself suffering from a severe case of wanderlust, aching for a trip full of interesting places to photograph, new foods to try and insightful people to meet.

Today's Ten on Tuesday post is all about the places I wish to visit.

New Mexico
[source: Stephanie Williams Photography]
We all know that sometimes when you fall in love with a guy, you find yourself falling for the things he loves, too. With Trevor, that is New Mexico. I spend much of my time with Trevor hearing stories of his time in New Mexico, hearing about how beautiful his favorite places are and how he wishes he had never left. Perhaps my trip to Arizona didn't help, it merely reinforced my love for desert states. The places I wish to visit are Taos, Pecos and Santa Fe. I'm trying my best to make this happen in May but until then, I'll drool over photographs like this one from Stephanie Williams Photography.

Sydney, Australia
[source: Jamie Delaine]
Don't laugh but as kids, my brother and I dreamed of visiting Australia where we planned to meet Steve Irwin. We idolized him. As I grew older, the idea of visiting Australia seemed to slip from my priorities but after posts from a Sydney wedding by Jamie Delaine, I've fallen in love with the idea of visiting all over again. As a side note, since Jamie's post is entitled "Kangaroo Meat" - yesterday, over birthday cheesecake, my mom's co-worker and friend, Katie, told us about a friend whose dog is so allergic to foods that he can only eat expensive Australian dog food made of Kangaroo. Bizarre, no?

Springfield, Missouri
[source: A Beautiful Mess]
As you should know by now, the Show Me State holds a piece of my heart. Despite a few trips to the state, I've never gotten to visit the town of Springfield. After falling in love with A Beautiful Mess, I put Springfield on the list of places I wanted to visit on our last trip. Like usual, it didn't work out and I'm still craving a visit to the Red Velvet shop. Last week, Kinsey from Sincerely, Kinsley (another Springfield resident) wrote this post about her hometown and I found myself falling even further into my desire to visit. Perhaps on our next family vacation.

Whitefish, Montana
[source: Kelli Trontel Photography]
Here's another destination that I can thank Trevor for. A few months ago, he visited Montana to attend the wedding of one of his best friends from the Airborne. The town he visited? Anaconda. Lately, he's been convincing me that Montana wouldn't be a bad place to call home and maybe I should find a graduate school there, instead. Unfortunately, no Marketing PhD programs exist in the state but I've found myself not so against the idea of visiting, especially if its the city of Whitefish. Last week, I fell in love with the photography of Kelli Trontel and this happens to be the town she calls home. She's made it seem like such a beautiful, warm and inviting place and I'm just dying to visit Red Caboose, a frozen yogurt and coffee shop owned by Kelli and her husband.

White Sands
[source: Bryce Olsen]
I know, I know, I already included New Mexico on the list but I couldn't help adding White Sands, too. Months ago, I stumbled upon some portraits of a little girl done for her birthday. She was wearing a beautiful miniature gown (with short sleeves might I add) and running barefoot in what I believed to be snow. The photograph was beautiful, perfectly overexposed, light and airy but I couldn't wrap my mind around her bare feet in the snow. Turns out, it was White Sands, dunes made of beautifully perfect white sand located more than 4,000 feet above sea level. If I ever get the chance to visit New Mexico, visiting White Sands is definitely on my list of things to see. 

[source: Shutter Sisters]
Despite the lack of it this year in Pennsylvania, I have to say that I love snow. I love the way it looks, smells, lays on everything, and most importantly, how beautifully it photographs. For this reason, Utah is on my vacation wish list. I was reminded of that this week when this photograph was shared on the Shutter Sisters blog. It inspired me to glance back at Kelle Hampton's posts about the state from December of 2010. Now I find myself longing from a winter wonderland like the one above. (Perhaps tomorrow's tiny snow storm will deliver a pretty white scene, too.)

Muir Woods
[source: Ten First]
When I worked as a waitress at a tiny little 1950's themed diner, I met Gina - a fabulous friend who originally hailed from California. A few months after meeting Gina, she decided to move back home. Shortly after, she mailed me a card with a beautiful photograph of the Muir Woods full of giant redwood trees. I've wanted to visit ever since. Besides, I've never gotten to see The Golden State and I'd love to say that I crossed the entire country.

[source: Jamie Delaine]
For years I've had a bizarre infatuation with the city of Seattle but after reading "Gluten Free Girl: How I found the Food that Loves Me Back", I was desperate to live in a city with fresh fish, farmers markets and perhaps even rainy weather. Sometimes I truly feel that this is where I will end up living after graduating but as I get older, I find more places vying for that title.


After my posts in October, I think most of you know how I feel about Arizona. With the arrival of Baby Kendall quickly approaching, I'm really itching to plan a late May trip. What could be better than coupling an adventure to New Mexico with a visit to my newest favorite state for time with my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Rob and a newborn babe. Ironically, my aunt Sarah texted me as I was writing this post and I can't help but to believe it is a sign of where I should spend the beginning of my summer break.

Beaufort, South Carolina
Before December 12th, South Carolina hadn't made it to my list of dream destinations but I can't wait to see my baby brother graduate from Parris Island. In less than one month, we will be in the town of Beaufort anxiously awaiting family day and the graduation ceremony. I am excited for a trip somewhere anywhere and getting to finally see my brother only makes a roadtrip seem that much sweeter.

Do you find yourself suffering from wanderlust, too? 
If so, where are you hoping to visit in the near future?