Category Archives: deserts

For the Sweet Tooth

I am currently obsessed with this quick dessert:

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Plain Greek yogurt, frozen organic berries, and honey.

For our Thanksgiving road trip to Wisconsin, I made this banana pumpkin bread:

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It was vegan, using chia seeds and water as an egg substitute, and super moist and delicious. I think Dave and I each had three pieces during our 13-hour drive. Other snacks included organic raspberries, kombucha, cashews, kale chips, potato cakes, and more fruit.

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This may be my favorite banana pumpkin bread recipe ever. I think the reason it was so good is that I used brown sugar and white flour. Usually, I use maple syrup instead of sugar and almond flour, but I was worried that the “chia egg” would be enough gamble. I may have to try combining all three next time.

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Best Snack Plate

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Amazing Thursday night dinner companion: honey drizzled goat cheese on whole wheat crackers plus dark chocolate covered almonds. I’ve wanted more of this pretty much constantly since we finished it!

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Ag Progress Days

Dave had a demanding day today, working on a project for his professor with a very short turn-around. So when I picked him up on my way home from work, we decided to go on a 3-mile hike to get his mind to relax.

On our way through Pine Grove Mills, traffic was backed way up due to traffic inbound from the fairgrounds. We entered the left turn lane, waiting to turn across traffic to go over the hill, but the cop directing traffic was signaling to the middle lane, so we went there only to discover he wasn’t really pointing to us. We were more or less committed to that lane at that point, so we just went on ahead to check out the source of the traffic, which as it turned out was the Penn State “Progress Days” agricultural festival – a long-standing State College end-of-summer event hosted by the ag school and about every farm equipment manufacturer under the sun.

Traffic went on for an insane amount of road, and we wondered if every single person in the state was just now returning from the fairgrounds. Eventually, we arrived at the site and parked. We walked around, enjoyed the view of the green central PA hills, had some vegetarian stir-fry from the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association booth, looked at historic farm equipment, some corn, silos, and tractors, and then finished off our tour with some ice cream from the Penn State Creamery booth.

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Dave had the bittersweet mint flavor and I went with “Peachy Paterno.” Maybe you will find that name as disturbing as I did when I first learned of it (if you’re familiar with the whole Penn State football scandal), but I’m used to it now. Also, I recently learned that the university has been donating the net revenue from the flavor’s sales to a Child Abuse charity. So that’s good, I guess.

Great night in central PA!

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Two Ice Creams

More one-on-one Catan playing occured tonight, and, far from wanting to share resources with my opponent, I made sure we each had our own ice cream.

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I had the coconut milk mint flavor and Dave had coconut milk chocolate and peanut butter 🙂 🙂

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I just had a few spoons of it and some almonds – I decided I had all of the food varieties over the course of the day and didn’t need much more to eat. Drinking Kombucha daily makes me much more satisfied with small portions these days!

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C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E

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We’re going to see an outdoor showing of E.T. tonight with some friends, and I fully plan on falling asleep in my lawn chair wrapped in a blanket due to exhaustion from a crazy week.

But before that, we played some Scrabble at home. I had some wine and some German chocolate – Joghurette. This was my absolute favorite chocolate as a child. I recently met up with one of my best friends from Germany in New York, and she brought me four packs!

It’s really much too sweet for me now, so Dave has been eating most of it. But I had to have some tonight for nostalgia’s sake.

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A Case of the Summers

Woah, I’ve apparently been on a blogging hiatus for a whole week now. That’s mostly because our kitchen hasn’t been its usual self, as in a place of inspiration, but rather a battlefield of take-out boxes and dirty dishes. You know how it is – a trip out of town, an unpleasant stomach virus, and a crazy work schedule can do quite a bit of damage. Plus, it’s June, my absolute favorite month of the year, and I’m having a hard time following routines and pursuing long-term goals right now. I want to be outside, soaking up the sun, smelling the freshness everywhere, and living in the moment.

To add to all that, we’re going out of town again this Wednesday on a driving trip to the Carolinas. I’ve never been and am excited to add four new states to my list of currently 39 – Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. We’re meeting grad school friends in Wilmington for a conference and also just vacationing. I can’t wait to swim in the warm Atlantic. Also, I have some great vegan/vegetarian restaurants I’m eying up for eating, so the blog will thrive off this trip as well.

Right now, I’m sitting on our balcony enjoying this perfect, non-humid Monday night with a glass of red wine, not thinking about much of anything. So here are some pictures I did manage to take in the last week.

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I made this quickie spinach salad to eat next to sick Dave last week. We watched “The Wave” on Netflix while I ate – seriously a movie you should watch, and I’m not just saying that because it’s German.

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Quinoa spinach salad I made for our Memorial Day cook-out with friends. Here is the recipe. The dressing is amazing.

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Memorial Day dinner. I’ve been eating meat again outside of home on occasion, which I have mixed feelings about. My desire to avoid it has taken ethical dimensions as well as health-related ones, so eating it doesn’t make me feel great. I think I need to get over the need to put a label on my diet and just be happy that I have very healthy habits 95% of the time. We shall see.

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Dave and I roasting marshmallows for our Memorial Day s’mores.

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Oh, and the best of all: our friend Mark makes the best cocktails – this one had rum, coke, crushed basil, and maybe other things.

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Dave’s mid-week dinner creation: Barley soup. Really good and really well-spiced.

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Thursday night, we had dinner at Gigi’s, a restaurant in our neighborhood that’s trying to be up-scale, but failing, while we still appreciate its tappas menu and outdoor seating. For desert, we split a pear crisp with vanilla ice cream. Quite delightful.

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Friday night, Dave made green bean casserole. On the balcony, paired with a wheat ale, it made for the perfect weekend starter.

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Saturday breakfast. I felt like I had to compensate Dave for coming on a 3-mile run with me. Poor guy, his allergies were really kicking in, and he was sneezing all the way through. Claritin to the rescue (at least until we find a more natural remedy)! I made coffee, scrambled eggs in almond milk, avo slices, and toasted whole wheat bread with Daiya Cheeze, tomato slices, and scallions.

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After breakfast, Saturday was all about the lake, reading, and soaking up the sun. At nearly 90 degrees, we also needed some good sunblock. But regardless, the 3ish hours we spent here, swimming, playing Yahtzee, and relaxing were glorious.

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Sunday breakfast: banana pancakes with Earth Balance and Pennsylvania maple syrup. I also made some crepes-like creations, which I rolled around Nutella and ate without prioritizing photography.

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Today’s lunch (vegetarian wrap and sweet potato fries), courtesy of my co-worker, which we ate while working through lunch-hour during a 9-hour collaborative excel project in the conference room. Fun times!

I have been sticking to my summer work-out routine every day, which has been especially fun due to my new Asics.

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Such great colors. I’m doing a 3-mile run one day and an interval run with weight lifting interspersed on the next. Friday is rest day. Dave has come to my last three work-outs. Yesterday, he challenged me to competitive interval sprints and I lost every time. How does this guy never exercise and still beat me like that?

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Three-Course Turkish Dinner

After running 6 miles on Sunday morning (first time doing a longer run since my Half Marathon on April 13), I spent most of my day in the kitchen preparing an elaborate Turkish dinner.

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Aren’t my head-band and flowery apron something? Dave was handling the food photography because he got excited to use the tripod and a nicer camera than my iPhone (which I usually use). Anyway, I didn’t know he would put me into 80% of the pictures or I would have chosen to look less ridiculous.

Now to the task at hand: Cook a three-course Turkish dinner for four people in three hours. All three recipes were new to me, but the cookbook Sultan’s Kitchen has been phenomenal so far, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

1. The Appetizer – Grape Leaves Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Rice

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Just looking at this has me wanting to make another batch of these beyond-delicious things. It was my first time making vegetarian grape leaves. In the past, I’ve stuffed them with rice and ground beef or lamb. But no longer. The combination of pine nuts and currants with cinnamon, dill, and parsley is out of this world. Sprinkled with lemon-juice, they’re a fresh, tangy summer treat. They could be their own meal and I definitely devoured the left-overs for lunch on Monday. Triple yum!

We served them with some fresh baguette and Raki – an anise flavored liquor that no Turkish meal should be without.

2. The Main Course – Flounder Fillets Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Spinach, and Scallions

Holy moly. Flounder fillets are expensive. The recipe called for 3 lbs., but that would have meant $45, so I decided to get four and divide all the other ingredients in half too. That was a good choice, since we had so much other food, too.

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First, you cook the pine nuts in olive oil until they’re golden brown, then you add garlic, spinach, and scallions and saute the mixture until it has wilted. After letting it cool, you place the desired amount in the center of the fillet and then fold it over, holding it together with a tooth pick.

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Number one and two.

Then, you steam the fillets in a mix of dry white wine, chopped tomato, lemon juice, spices, and dill for eight minutes. When it’s done, you sprinkle it with parsley.

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We served this course with bread and a choice of red and white wine. Don’t you want to take that piece of baguette and make it soak up the delicious sauce? The dish was the perfect mixture of herbs, fish, and a tangy mix of wine, tomato, and a kick of spiciness due to paprika and red cayenne pepper. So good. So so good.

3. The Desert – Rose Water Pudding

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This was a basic pudding made with whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, and cornstarch, but the rose water gave it a very unique flavor. We actually sprinkled these servings with cinnamon before putting them on the table, but were too absorbed into conversation by that time to remember taking pictures.

It was so much fun to try three new recipes and introduce our friends to Turkish cuisine. They seemed to really enjoy everything. Dave and I definitely loved all three dishes, so we’ll definitely make them again. The leftover grape leaves definitely were a special Monday lunch treat.

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Filed under deserts, drinks with dinner, leftovers, recipes, running, seafood, Turkish