i get around…

Around town, that is!

First, around western Nebraska: a little more in Ogallala and North Platte.

This is a sweet old cowboy cemetery up on (what else) a hil in Ogallala… its really small, but even walking up these stairs gave me flashbacks to my track and xc days :/

Sarah confirmed that they used to run repeats of these stairs at practice. Gotta love xc!

I thought this was a really cool thing to do. They’ve got all the usual suspects in the capsule, but what I loved is that they put in 2 bottles of scotch, one to drink at the inspection, and one when it is exhumed. I for one am already making plans to get back there in 2034… and perhaps in 2084 at age 97!

Next up on my tour was the museum in North Platte, about an hour down the road. I love getting to hear about cool things that happened in my state that I’d never heard of, and this was definitely one of them. During WWII, trains full of soldiers coming from all over the country would pass through North Platte on the way to the West Coast. Right after Pearl Harbor, a group of local ladies got together and cooked a meal for the Nebraska soldiers that were supposed to be coming through. The train that was supposed to be theirs turned out to be one full of Kansas men, but the women fed them anyway. They decided to keep it going, and over more than 4 years, soldiers from all over the country were fed homecooked meals (even birthday cakes!) as they passed through North Platte for 15-20 minutes at a time. It’s a really cool place and I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area, or visiting their website to read about it.

The North Platte Canteen in its heyday

There was a big Nazi flag in the background of this display case with some other war info, and I just thought this was a really interesting position to take.

This was in a “Healthy Eating” pamphlet in the exhibit. My favorite is definitely group 7! I actually do kind of like that green vegetables get their own group, and are the most important. With the recent changes to the food pyramid, its interesting to see a similar image from another time.

These scared Sarah when she saw them! She came around the corner and was totally shocked… she may or may not have screamed.There was also a big buffalo that I wanted to get a picture of me riding but alas they wouldn’t let me.

The walls and ceiling of this barn were covered in brands. I think they are so interesting!

I look awfully happy over my imprisonment…

Thanks to countless hours of watching Gilmore GIrls, Sarah and I have an unhealthy obsession with the DAR… imagine our surprise at finding a sign in little old North Platte!

Sarah and her mom left me at this point, expecting I would happily return to Omaha that night with an hour + the time change already behind me on my trip. That, however, was not in the cards. My car stalled as I was getting food on the way out of town, which was lucky since I avoided having it stall on the interstate, and I was out an alternator.

Being stuck alone in an unfamiliar town is not awesome. Luckily the guys at the parts store were amazing and drove to my car to check it out and helped me get it to them to try to fix it; I found a motel that was not (that) sketchy for only $36, and Applebees was having some sort of special where I could get lots of drinks for not very much money.

Annnd I got back on the road first thing in the morning, with my wallet $300 lighter. Ouch. No pictures… I have no need to document me bawling on a random street corner cuz I am in rush hour traffic and my car isn’t moving. Yuck.

Anywho, on a much happier note: getting around in Omaha!

Downtown Farmer’s Market + La Buvette on Saturday

We like our champagne, what can I say?

Sadly, my first trip of the year. Can’t wait to go back this weekend! I am loving that these are finally getting big in Omaha. There are 3 big ones in different areas of town on Saturdays, 1 on Sunday, and apparently 1 on Wednesdays as well. Plus a local farm has fresh produce trucks out around town every day, and there is always a line when I go. Well done, Omaha!

Lunch: hummus plate for mom. For me, open-face baguette sandwich with tomatoes, black olive tapenade and Gruyere, plus field greens by request. sooo good! For Pam, meat and cheese tray. I may or may not have eaten all her blue cheese. I’m sorry, its just SO GOOD. (As was my sandwich, clearly!)

Every time I wear this shirt, the first question I get is why there is a gorilla on it.

Sunday: brunch at my new obsession: Dario’s. It’s this sweet restaurant with a HUGE Belgian beer list that I’d never been to since I heard it was crazy expensive. I randomly heard they had brunch, and took a friend who was in town a few weeks ago. Since then, it is all I think about.


This time I headed there with a work friend. Coincidentally, her boyfriend is the chef there… and he does an amazing job. Last time I had a crepe with eggs and asparagus, this time I went for the Croque Monsiuer. with pommes. and I ate every last drop of that delicious mayo-like fry sauce. What can I say, it was amazing… as was the sandwich, and my cocktails. Jamie’s eggs benedict with pork belly was insanely good as well. This place may be expensive for dinner, but I think brunch is a great deal. My meal + 2 big drinks came out to just under $30, and there was none of the typical eating out food coma. It was perfectly portioned and delish.

In fact, thinking about it now is making me hungry. I think this will be on the menu this Sunday since sissypoo (my baby sister) is in town!

Peace out girl scout!

What’s on your mind?

Do you have a favorite brunch spot? What’s your favorite part of visiting the farmer’s market… other than the amazing fruits and veggies? Any sweet, little known museums in your area?

Tell me about it!

 

Westward Bound!

Wow, I am behind the times. All that pinterest-inspired crafting got me in the mood, so I’ve spent the last week or so buried in my craft supplies coming up with some projects, scrapbooking the 300 or so pictures I’ve got laying around, and trying to decide what to keep and what to toss. I’m debating getting serious about this and opening up an etsy store. I used to get super crafty and make stuff for people, so I’m wondering if people would pay for it. I guess we will have to see!

Anyway, I mentioned a couple posts ago that I spent a few days in western Nebraska… Ogallala to be specific.

That’s 5 hours of driving each way. Holla for solo road trips!

The occasion? Visiting my college bestie, Sarah. She is currently in law school in Minnesota, and spent her summer in Chile… so we were waaaaay overdue for some bestie time!

Aww, look at us… celebrating Sarah’s 21st in Crete… yay for Cristina’s! For the record, I was *definitely* also 21.

I began my looooooong voyage to Ogallala by stocking my car with necessities: a sweet mix CD and some road snacks.

Some leftover grapes and salami from Jazz on the Green the day before, a pound of cherries I meant to make into cobbler but forgot about and a bowl of some cereal I rescued from the continental breakfast after a hotel party! p.s. this cereal is AMAZING and makes me want to start eating cereal again. HIGHLY recommended.

As for the mix, these are my jams! Some oldies, some high school/college classics, some good summer songs. Plus my awkward obsession, Rebecca Black. I just love that song. Sorry I’m not sorry!

With food and music covered, I headed down the road. First stop: Crete, for Cristina’s! I actually picked up our dinner for the night… that’s just how Sarah’s family rolls: 4-hour delivery for dinner!

Sarah and my favorite hangout. We may or may not have been here once a week during my last year of college.

Cristina’s to-go happy face!

With the food safely tucked in my back seat, and 90 minute detour behind me, I hit the road again. I put the camera away that night, but Sarah’s awesome mom greeted us with this the next morning:

Yummy! She is a smoothie aficionado, just like me, but she has stumbled onto the sweet trick of putting in a spoonful of flax seed meal into her smoothies to beef it up. In return, I think I inspired her to give spinach a chance! Love trading tips like that– and I definitely will be trying that soon. Breakfast was an old, long-forgotten favorite of mine: biscuits topped with butter and corn syrup to make a butterscotch topping. Soooo bad, but oh-so-good!

Lunch was perfect after a long morning of catching up on our lives: Ham and cheese sandwich.

Seriously, sometimes I get so wrapped up in trying to eat all the amazing things other bloggers are cooking that I forget how much I love a simple sandwich for lunch. It’s the perfect amount of fuel for my afternoon, and goes great with some carrot sticks and an apple or some chips and a cupcake. (its all or nothing, people!) I think I need to remember to keep this in my rotation.

That day, though, this sandwich was the perfect fuel for something I was super excited about: TILING! Sarah and her mom are crazy DIY-ers and have fully tiled and painted and decorated and everything-ed two full houses and are starting in on a third. I was super excited to “help” them as part of my trip.

They were working on the wall around the tub while I was there, so while Linda cut the tiles to size with her very own wet saw and Sarah measured, placed and spaced them into place, I was busy picking the best pattern for the glass accent tiles. I think I did an excellent job! I also got to handle the level… sometimes. Either way, I like to think of this as my bathtub since I did all the manual labor ;)

A cell phone pic once it was finished, courtesy of Sarah. Love how it looks, even if you can’t quite tell in this pic!

Spinach deliciousness topped with my favorite condiment: Cristina’s salsa. Let’s not talk about the pile of butter that corn is sitting in… let’s just say it was delicious!

We finished off the night with a trip to a local bar that puts on a revue loosely based on the history of the town. If you didn’t know, Ogallala was a big town for the cattle drives, so the show is about the cowboys and other who settled the town and the girls who… entertained them ;)

The show was great. It’s put on by a rotating cast of local high school and college kids and is a must see if you are ever passing through during the summer. It’s right along I-80, people! Plus, how can you resist a shootout?

Getting silly before the show. My surprised face that I’m outside the jail and not in it; Sarah and I looking totally legit in period costumes, and Sarah’s mom and I.

The showgirls, the shootout, and the cowboys. It was hard to believe these kids were all just high school students!

A great day for my first time in Ogallala!

I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the trip, but in the meantime…

Have you ever been to Ogallala or seen this show?

What do you look for in an etsy shop?

Leave me some comment love! :)

Pinterest Challenge… CHECK!

**Welcome to those of you stopping by from the Pinterest Challenge! Feel free to leave a comment and link me back to your own creations! Thanks for stopping by!**

So way back in the day I used to be a huge crafty person. Over the last few years, though, I haven’t really had the time to get as involved in some of the projects I used to love. I still have my scrapbooking time, but other than that, craft hour is pretty infrequent.

So, when I saw the Pinterest Challenge over at Young House Love, I figured it was the perfect time to dust off my old paintbrushes and get crafty!

My first inspiration was Julie‘s obsession with turquoise, yellow, lime green, and hot pink spray paint and painting mason jars:

Source: joyshope.com via Erin on Pinterest

Then the beauties made by this local artist I saw at the farmer’s market this weekend:
Conveniently in the same color family!
My last inspiration was my need for a new jewelry hanger. My dad made me one a while ago that worked great, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, and it’s currently being used elsewhere. I saw a few of these beauts on pinterest and it got me thinking…
So on it!
p.s. does anyone else have problems embedding pinterest pics? advice for me?
Then, I went shopping and found a mason jar for 10 cents, two wall-mount candle holders for $1.99 each, a little shelf thingie for $2.99, this hideous gold belly chain with awesome decorative plates in it for $6.99, remnant fabric for $1.49, some aqua Rustoleum for $4,99, little hooks for $4.79 and sandpaper for $3.57.
And thus, my project(s) were born!
Candle holder (x2)
Imagine these babies as part of a belly chain. ps these could bend in half… obviously high quality. Also, thanks to Goodwill in Omaha for these steals! While I was there I almost bought a $25 sewing machine, too. If I have it, it means I’ll learn to sew, right?
The green is the other shelf thingie. Notice the already-colored lawn from when the house got painted :/ I sanded the wood a little cuz I’ve heard you’re supposed to do that? I also pre-screwed in my hook holes but you can’t see them here.
Woo painting round one! That would be Rustoleum in Aqua, from Hobby Lobby. Not free cuz I’m not big time enough for that :)  Plus my sweet new phone. Fail-tacular event happened after this when, forgetting I had sprayed the back of the larger (formerly green) shelf in order to get that hole filled in, I grabbed that part to pick it up. Drying + sanding ensued, as will more spraying tomorrow! Whoops!
Because I’m ridiculously impatient and I was on such a crafty kick, I let the usable one dry for like an hour before experimenting with it:
 With the hooks… it’s looking good!
Annnnnnd….
Taa-daaaa!
This guy hold 6 necklaces, and the green one holds eight. My vision is to have the green one in the center flanked by these ones on each side… I’ll keep you posted after everything gets another coat, and dries for the appropriate time. I love the little shelf, since its the perfect place for my chopstick-holders-turned-earring-storage. So excited about this!
And as if that wasn’t enough, I also got to play with those little gold plates a little and end up with this:
I got the fabric remnant at Hobby Lobby and knew I wanted to do a bright color. I had some issues with the spray paint not sticking, so I painted one pink and tried (and failed) to paint 2 others yellow. (Turns out blue + yellow = green. crazy!) So I experimented with the least chippy blues and made these two frames. The larger one is a 4×6 white frame from IKEA, and the polaroid one is from Umbra. Can’t wait to get these two on the wall!
I didn’t quite get to the mason jar (full disclosure: I forgot), but I did get myself a cheerful new flower arrangement next to my sweet bulletin board.
All in all, an excellent and productive “Craft Monday” and totally successful way for me to kick off the Pinterest Challenge! Cannot wait for my future crafty days. I have about 4 projects already bouncing around, plus 200 pics showing up this week. Love it!

Zucchini. Blech.

I despise zucchini.

I spent a year in Germany, and somehow, the family I lived with got the impression that I LOVED it. As in, the mom walked in one day with not one but two THREE FOOT LONG, SIX INCH DIAMETER zuccs from grandma’s garden. She showed them to me and said, in all seriousness, “Look Erin, your favorite food!”

EW.

I suffered through every type of zucchini I could there out of sheer politeness and embarrassment, and spent more time than I’d like to admit coming up with creative ways to dispose of my leftovers-for-lunch so that they wouldn’t notice I threw them out.

And before you try to tell me that it amazing/delicious/terrific and I just need to try it in/on/with/near something else and I’ll love it, let me just tell you that the ONLY place I like to see zucchini is in the trash.

At someone else’s house.

Cuz I’m sure as heck not letting it in mine.

… unless I want to make these cookies.

My old friend Therese made them for me a few summers ago after she read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. They quickly became my favorite cookie, and I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t love them… even if the green bits look a little strange!

I visited my a college friend and her family in Ogallala this week, and whipped up a batch with a zucc they had lying around. Might as well use it up before it turns into a zucchini boat!

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes about two dozen)

1 egg, beaten
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Combine in large bowl. Try not to spill the vanilla all over the counter.

Then don’t forget the most important part: clearing out the cookie jar so there’s plenty of room to fit these babies! You will need your fuel for step 3!

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (that’s in the “coffee” jar)
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Combine in a separate, small bowl and blend into liquid mixture

1 cup finely shredded zucchini (with or without peels)
12 oz chocolate chips
Stir these into other ingredients, mix well.  Drop by spoonful onto greased baking
sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon.  Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes.

This is my zucchini grating secret so that I don’t make a mess everywhere. Maybe not what you’re supposed to do but it gets the job done! Helpful hint: if you don’t have a grater handy, don’t think you can just chop up the zuccs. It will still give you cookies but definitely does not have all the moisture that shredded will. Also, you can see the green in the cookies either way, but its less obvious if you peel them. I’ve made them both ways and its all delicious, so its totally up to you.

Now, a word of warning for fellow zucchini-haters. At some point during this process, you will get a smidge of dough on your finger and lick it off. This will be delicious. Under no circumstances should you use this as an invitation to dig and eat spoonfuls of raw cookie dough.

No, not cuz of that raw-eegs-cause-salmonella-or-e coli-or-whatever drama. Because you can TOTALLY taste the zucchini and while the batter is delicious the veg is not. so just say NO!

NOW you may eat. and eat. and eat. Seriously, these have veggies in them. That makes them healthy, right??

At least that’s what I tell myself… a “healthy” cookie is the only way I can excuse allowing zucchini in my kitchen!

Go whip yourself up a batch and when you’re done, come back and see the rest of my adventures in small town Nebraksa, plus delicious brunch in Omaha x2!

A tale of Two Lunches

So I had friends over for a sweet dinner party over the weekend. Now that I am living in a house, I feel like I should be doing other grown up things too. The menu was pretty simple: my famous pesto with grilled chicken. When I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up the essentials, the first thing I saw was a giant basil plant for $6. I walked inside and there were mini plants for $2.50. So, lucky me picked up basil, chives, and rosemary for my new little herb garden.

Fyi, that’s the basil after I picked off 1.5 cups for pesto AND made tomato-mozz-basil crostini for appetizers. And the chives after I trimmed SIX INCHES off the entire plant. Crazy good deal if you love chives like I do!

The other sweet deal I found was on leeks! Leeks are one of my favorite veggies, and they are impossible to find around here. You can only use the white part, and I typically pay $4 for ~2 inches of useable veg. Not ok. TJs had 8 inch leek stalks that were fairly slim but all beautiful useable whites. That, plus my produce stand potatoes from the other day, and I was ready for a little amuse bouche to REALLY play grownup.

Sadly, my cam was dead so no pictures of the actual presentation in spoons like these, but it was the same as my lunch this afternoon. Vichyssoise… I do love you!

In case you’re not familiar, vichyssoise is a potato, leek and onion soup, typically served cold. It’s pretty hard to mess up since the ingredients are potatos, leeks, onion, chicken stock, and cream at the very end.  I straight up followed this recipe, and it turned out amazing. Well, almost followed it… I mixed it up with my favorite herbs and used chicken stock + water instead of broth. And then I topped it with my new find, cream from a semi-local dairy. Two thumbs up from my taste-testers!

Totally worth the $2 deposit for the glass bottle! Their milk is amazing as well, farm fresh, bottled within 26 hours, and hormone free. So good!

A little spoonful on top, plus a few chives clipped from my newly shaved plant and this soup is good to go… plus, bonus, no heating time! Perfect on a 100+ day in Nebraska.

Last night I was trying to clear out make a dent in my Google Reader, which has reached that sad “1000+” mark, when I came across Nicole‘s latest post: her 100 lunches project. Basically the premise is that she finds 100 people who inspire her and wants to have lunch with them before her 30th birthday. I kind of love love love this idea, so I think I might make my own inspiration list right here. Luckily my 30th birthday is a long way away so this seems totally do-able!

Now my only question is, can I put people on my list who I’ve already had this lunch with? Immediately one man comes to mind, a man who graduated from my alma mater, Don Nyrop. I helped write a paper on him a few years ago and got to interview him– many of his words still stick with me and remind me that no matter where I came from, I can do anything. There’s not much you can find online about him, but his NY Times Obit gives the basic story. As he told me, he was just a small town boy from the Midwest doing the best he could, and it it took him from a tiny town in Nebraska to the head of Northwest Airlines.

Don Nyrop, 1912-2010. Photo Credit

The renamed Don Nyrop Great Hall at Doane College, during the dedication ceremony. Photo Credit

So now that I’ve crossed off number one, here’s the first part of my list:

So there are my first 39… the reast I am still thinking of/thinking of categories for. I had to leave a blank space on the smartest people i know list, since one of those spots would have gone to my grandpa… but since he’s not around, it doesn’t seem right to put him on the list. Luckily, like Mr. Nyrop, I got all the words of wisdom I could before he died.

So, who would you put on your list? What do you think of this idea? Let me know in the comments and make sure to head over to Nicole’s site to comment there, too!

Long time, no see!

Soooo… I’ve been mia for the last few days/5 weeks, and am back with some awesome excuses and a roundup of my life since then… And then I hope to be back for good!

I may have mentioned before going all MIA on you that I was going out of town for a week for classes. I’m working on getting my teaching certificate/masters in education right now, and for this class I had to be in a town about 90 mins away for class 8-2 every day… So I moved in with a friend for a week. This seems like it should give me plenty of time to blog, but instead after class each day I spent 8 or more hours working on the 10 in depth assignments I had to complete.

I looked like this for a week.

Then I came back home, and finished doing those assignments for another week (Good news, I got an A!). THEN, I went to another super-fun class the following week. (I got an A in that one too!).

Then I worked a lot, and got another job and worked even more. And now here we are 5 weeks later!

And now, for your viewing pleasure: a photo post of the last 3 weeks of my life. Words coming soon!

Story of my life: polish, polish, polish, set. repeat!

Best. Thing. Ever. First time cooking millet: boiled per directions, mixed up with carrots, corn, and 1 egg white. At the end add in swiss chard (another first!) and wilt for a minute, throw on top of spinach and CHOW!

I have an unhealthy obsession with Le Creuset. EVERYTHING they make. In fact, the only thing stopping me from buying their entire catalog is that I don’t know what color my future kitchen will be and I don’t want my pans to clash. Problems? My roomie may not be buying brand name yet, but this little gem is inspiring to make my first purchase: a Mini Round Cocette. So perfect for individual cornbread bakes… or peach cobblers! Now I just have to pick a color… :)

Like I said, It’s great for cornbread. Another Edible Perspective modification, and this one was suuuuper delish. Unfortunately, the only thing I remember was for sure in it was corn, masa harina, a sprinkle of cheese in + another one on top, and lots of salsa!

This little baby was the fuel behind my marathon cooking day: A mint julep! This is one of my favorite drinks, and I didn’t get to have one this year for the actual Derby. So once I finally bought some mint, this was a necessity. Yummmmmmm!

On the menu for the cooking day: cucumber gazpacho with shrimp and melon, quinoa stir-fry, millet deliciousness (see above), quinoa with tomato and leeks. Aka my menu for my week away. BTW, Gazpacho was a fail, I thought the mint was overwhelming and I couldn’t blend it smooth enough. The stir-fry and millet were both freaking amazing (obvs since they were essentially the same thing. ps. first time also on the quinoa and YUM!). The tomato/leek quinoa dish was ok… I didn’t love it but I definitely didn’t hate it. Overall the week’s eating was pretty good!

If you were working on a master’s like me, you could spend all your time coloring like me!

Main Street in my college town… I clearly went to school in a booming metropolis. That first building was our favorite bar, Someplace Else.

Part of the trip was also forgoing my college standby of Cristina’s Mexican Food since bestie wasn’t with me and trying the new place in town, Gladys. (Crete is a mill town with a very high Hispanic population, so the Mexican is extra good!) Sadly, this place was a big fat MEH. It was ok but definitely won’t be going back… I’m convinced that Cristina’s is the place for me! Also, the elephant is a shoutout to Young House Love: I read the post about Sherry’s “Elephant in the Room” dream like 2 hours before I went out to eat… and saw that. Hilarious!

Class, Part 2: More Coloring!

And after a hiatus of a few weeks due to extreme poverty and laziness, my first meal back:

Hand-cut and seasoned potatoes bought 15 minutes earlier at a corner produce stand, with a breaded (corn meal, whole wheat flour, spices) buffalo chicken sandwich.

Yummy! And even better once you finish it with this:

Peach Cobbler! Just the way I learned in Germany: fruit (fresh produce stand peaches) tossed with a pinch of sugar and cinnamon, a bottom crust of these awesome animal cookies from Baker’s bulk bins, and top crust of butter, sugar and WW flour, pressed into circles and laid over the top. AH-MA-ZING! This was seriously one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. So good!

And there, In a very large nutshell, is the majority of my last 5 weeks. Hopefully now I will be back on a regular basis so you can get your dose of Erin!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’re still reading… Let me know what you like and what you don’t, and what you want to see!

Looooooove,

Erin Eats!

As promised, a whole week’s worth of (photographed) food!

This was a week of some experimenting, so I actually am really bummed I didn’t get this up sooner. First, I moved so I was trying to use what I had around the house before I went out and stocked up on food so the first few days were not very pretty, but I do have my first eat-what’s-in-the-fridge meal of the week: buffalo tuna salad.

I worked at a popular chain restaurant up until last October, and I’m still somewhat addicted to their buffalo sauce. I know it would be super easy for me to make it myself, but what’s the point in that if friends will bring you 8 oz tubs of it? Yum.

Checking out the cupboards I had tuna, egg whites, cheese, and buffalo sauce. I love me a good tuna salad sandwich, and every once in a while I get crazy and toss in hardboiled eggs. The original plan was tuna on a sandwich thin topped with buffalo scrambled whites, but then I got creative.

I made the buffalo eggs and then softened some tofutti and mixed the two together with a can of tuna. No miracle whip but I have tofutti? What a nerd.

End result: two forks up! As you can see I stole a smear of the roomie’s miracle whip (light, ew) and mustard for some extra flavor. Next time I’d sub dijon and add some spinach and a tomato for some more color, but I will definitely be making this again!

I think I mentioned this when I made the asparagus fries, but I am an avid reader of Ashley’s blog, The Edible Perspective. I discovered her during the Project Foodbuzz contest last year but got hooked for good when she started trying to figure out what was best for her body to eat. Since my body hates me and I can’t eat 98% of delicious food (ice cream and wings, this means you), looking at some of the stuff she has done has really helped me identify alternatives and look at creative ways to find new definitions of delicious food.

The other day when I was grocery shopping, I found some masa harina for a dollar and I remembered she had mentioned using it a few times so I figured I would pick it up and do some experimenting with corn bread.

Lesson learned: stick to the recipe the first time, then make modifications.

1. Not unlike my previous meal situation, I had masa harina on hand but no eggs. Forgetting that eggs were the leavening agent in this particular recipe and not just the liquid, I thought applesauce would be an acceptable substitute and that I’d just get a slightly sweeter final product. FALSE. despite making a pretty picture, this was a total fail.

2. Peanut butter and cinnamon helped save this weirdly apple-corn flavored mush. But I still couldn’t finish it all.

3. In the spirit of experimentation, I decided to make a more correct version using egg whites and masa harina. This actually turned out correctly and became bread instead of mush! Unfortuantely, I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor, and added more PB, cinnamon, and chili powder to spice it up.

4. My fail-breakfast. But man was that water tasty!

Like I said, lesson learned on this one. I would be interested to see how much of a difference the millet makes, and now that I’ve stocked up I may give this another shot. It was a little bland for me, though, so I would definitely include some spices in there and pick up some honey to top it off. I’ll keep you posted on that!

Next up: birthday goodies!

(mom making my amazing birthday cake!)

Apparently I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, but hopefully she did!

Growing up my family had a favorite bakery that we got all our birthday/anniversary cakes from every year. This place specialized in multicolored layer cakes, including the ever-popular rainbow cake that we all still love. After a few years of pink-and-purple layer cakes, I switched to the much more “adult” alternative of almond-flavored white cake with cherry filling.

Though the bakery is now closed (luckily my family holds the rights to all the recipes) and we can’t have the cakes on a regular basis anymore, my mom said she would attempt an alternative. Enter: 3-layer almond flavored white cake with strawberry jam filling (cherry was not good) and light pink buttercream frosting! So good!

I already gave you some photos of the party eats (MYO fruit kebabs with mango, watermelon, canteloupe, strawberries and pineapple, cocktail shrimp, chips, s’mores, cake, and rocky road brownies), but this is an approximation of what I ate that day.

AKA a smore, a brownie, a piece of cake, and about 15 kebabs! My fruit intake has drastically increased over the last few days. For this party I cut up 2 lbs of berries, a whole pineapple, half a watermelon, a whole cantaloupe, and a mango… enough fruit to last a lifetime.

Or at least enough to become a MONSTER smoothie.

In the name of scientific accuracy, I measured the glass. That’s a 24+ ounce power lunch, once you add in the protein powder and ice. And it’s 100% delicious!

p.s. the 5 a day challenge is my goal for the rest of June, to eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies per day, as part of Project Veg-Up! I’m also adding a secondary goal based on my biggest struggle:

I picked up a veg I’ve been curious about for a long time, swiss chard. I’m going to try using it for lunch tomorrow, so cross your fingers it goes well!

After the longest post EVER, I’m signing off. Stay tuned to find out how my watermelon sorbet turned out!