Remember Me?

I’m backkkkkkk!

It has been nearly a year and a half since I’ve written, and while I can’t promise regular updates, I can say that I’ve missed writing.

Well I should clarify. Personal writing. I do a lot of writing. Just normally it’s about brand results or strategy. I try to pepper my personality in it when I can, but let’s be real…that’s not what they’re paying me for.

I often think I live a boring life. If you asked me what’s new, I would probably respond “nothing.” But that can’t be said if it’s been a year and a half since we checked in. So I guess I owe you some updates.

Update #1:
I went to Italy in May of 2014 with one of my closest friends, Jill. Italy?! You might ask. What the hell did you eat in Italy? Tomatoes? Cheese? Well…if that was all I had eaten, I would still be one happy gal. But fun fact – Celiac is so prevalent in Italy that all children are tested at age 5. And if one has Celiac, they receive a government stipend since it’s generally understood that gluten free food is more expensive. And because of that, restaurants are incredibly gluten-free friendly. All I had to say was “Yo solo cheliaca” and I had dishes not on the menu brought out to me.

Jill was such a sweetheart and only slightly judged me the first night when I ordered two main dishes and two desserts because I found out I could have gluten free lasagna AND eat my gluten free pizza TOO. If it wasn’t for all the walking we did, I would have gained, easily, 20 pounds. I had gelato every day (and twice if possible). Jill and I one night each ordered a bottle of wine and got majorly judged by the owner. But hey…when you’re young and in Italy and the wine is good….

And now she’s getting married in less than two months! But that’s a whole other story.

Update #2:
I bought a car. This is much less exciting than Italy, but seems relevant. My very much beloved 2000 gold Maxima that I’d had since high school eventually required so much work that it wasn’t worth the money. It also had some brake issues and made me nervous to drive it. So a few days before my birthday, I bought my first car. Yep…that’s about all there is to tell. Oh. It’s a 2010 Acura TSX. And it’s black. Because you were curious.

Update #3:
I turned 26. So now this blog title is 3 years out of date. Clearly I’m on top of things. Really, this only means I can’t be on my parent’s insurance anymore. Birthdays are officially less exciting.

Update #4:
I bought a house. I guess this is worth spending some time on because it seems like a big deal (clearly I’m downplaying this because I officially feel broke). I decided earlier this year that I should consider purchasing one because the end of lease was coming up, I didn’t want to move just to move, and I had some money saved.

To make a VERY long story short, I got a really good deal on a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house and build a renovation loan into the mortgage. I gutted the kitchen, had everything painted, redid part of the bathroom, got new light fixtures, etc. etc. And no, I haven’t showcased the before/after photos. My mom even realized her artistic gift and painted something for my living room.

It’s been a labor of love with so many people helping me throughout the process. Might sound a little cheesy, but I’m grateful, thankful, blessed.

Update #5:
I got a cat! If you follow me on ANY form of social media, you know this. His name is Edison and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I won’t say too much about him so I don’t get judged too quickly as a cat lady, but he’s pretty awesome. We play tag and fetch and he comes when I call. So basically he’s a dog that uses a litter box.

Update #6:
I’m running a half marathon. Yep. You might want to reread that. I signed up on a whim and then convinced a friend to do it with me. It’s October 11. In Cincinnati. And I should clarify that I’m in the 3:1 group which means I run three minutes and walk a minute. But I think it still counts. My back and hip have held up so far. Oh, and it’s all women which is exciting!

Update #7:
I went to Alaska in February with my friend/coworker, Jordann. That was also sort of a whim decision. It was only 25,000 sky miles and we wanted to see the Northern Lights. We got really fortunate and had the best showing of the season that night. Absolutely breathtaking. They danced! If you have the chance, go see them. It’s worth surviving the -30 degree weather.

I also went to Ireland with my dad. Major bucket list item done – I’ve wanted to go since I was a little girl (I mean…I did Irish Dance after all). I had a work trip to London for just a few days, and decided to extend the trip. And my dad, who I get my Irish roots from, flew over to spend that time with me. We were only there a few days, and I’m dying to go back!

I know I’m missing a bunch of things, but those are the major things I can think of. Also, my creative juices are leeching out and suddenly I’m much less inspired. So wow – aside from Italy, this had almost nothing to do with food. But hey…that’s life. Until next time!

Bacon Wrapped, Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

I wanted a creative title for this post. I really did. But how do you make a title like that any more awesome than it already is? I don’t think it’s possible.

I challenge you.

So while I say I eat paleo (which I do most of the time), I also incorporate dairy in my life when I want it. I know, I know. Give me a hard time. Call me primal. Or whatever. Here’s why I do it:

I can’t eat gluten. Never. Ever. Forever.

So I can never “cheat” by eating gluten. I’d be so sick, it’s not worth it.

I can however, enjoy whole milk or cream occasionally. Or even cheese. Although, I try to limit cheese where possible, unless raw milk cheese. There are exceptions though.

These are one of those.


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I decided to make these after having some AMAZEBALLS ones at The Misfit Bar in Santa Monica. And to think we almost didn’t order them. But I thought they’d be too complicated for me. I talk a big game, but really, I’m not a creative cook. But I really wanted them. So I did some research, and came across this blog post (here!). But I didn’t have toothpicks, and 12 dates wasn’t that many, so I decided to free-for-all it. And the results were delicious. Plus, everyone has been amazed that I did this. Win-win.

So here’s how you impress people and win friends. Just go with it.

Dates have pits. In case you didn’t know. Fresh dates, that is. I’d make some really awful pun here, but truth be told…I hate puns. Legit hate them. And yep…my name is Hope. There’s irony there. Can we all move past that?

So you gots to cut the pits out. Also a great way to put the cheese in. How else are you gonna stuff them with goat cheese? To do that, just cut it open – aka slice it. Don’t cut the things in half, just cut them open enough to get the date out and put the cheese in. See image below for exhibit A.

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Here’s the deal with this recipe. I’m not gonna tell you how much to use of anything.

I know. That means it’s not really a recipe. But the thing is…I don’t know how many dates you have, or how much cheese you like, or what kind of bacon you prefer.

I bought a package of fresh dates at Trader Joe’s, a small container of goat cheese, and had a package of bacon. I used all the dates. About 1/4 of the cheese, and all the bacon.

Back on track.

Take about a spoonful, or however much cheese will fit in the dates, and put it in there you’ve taken the pits out.

Here’s a little thing I learned – more cheese is better here. I didn’t use enough cheese (in my opinion), so it was very much date-heavy. So cram that thing with goat cheese.

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I know that looks like a fair amount. It’s not. Add more.

Then, you take your bacon, and cut it in half. You probably could cut it in thirds, but I don’t know what that’s like. So halve it.

And really, you wrap it around. Make sure the “seam” of the bacon, or where it overlaps, is on the bottom of the date. So it’s resting on the seam. That way the bacon won’t uncurl itself.

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You’ll see that I used wax paper on the baking sheet. Not really necessary. I could have used foil (I was sort of following a recipe that said to use parchment paper which I never have, so I used wax paper, which I didn’t really need). But do note that again, these make kind of a mess, so use a PAN, not a sheet.

And then you cook at 450 for like…17-20 minutes. Mine took longer because I used thick cut bacon, so probably less if you use thin cut. But I only use thick cut. So there.

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And then enjoy!

I actually found these were better the next day because the bacon got crispier. I just put them in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute to reheat them, and voila!

Oh, and don’t pop these suckas in your mouth without checking the temperature. My friend burnt his mouth that way. I warned him.

On a completely unrelated note to this recipe, but still related to bacon, I just burnt a batch while typing this because I didn’t check to see if it was done and I was going to make chocolate covered bacon. So you’re welcome. Any ideas on what to do with completely burned bacon?

You’ll need (INGREDIENTS):

– Package of dates

– Package of bacon

– Goat cheese

You’ll do (INSTRUCTIONS):

1. Preheat the oven to 450

2. Cut the dates open (but not in half) to remove the pit

3. Take as much goat cheese as you want (stuff the sucka full!) and put it in side the date. Squeeze slightly closed

4. Cut bacon in half and wrap each date with a half a piece of bacon

5. Place date with bacon seam down on a baking PAN (with foil, waxed paper, naked, whatever you want)

6. Depending on the thickness of the bacon, cook anywhere from 15-20 minutes

7. You’ll know it’s done when the bacon looks done

8. Remove from pan so it’s not continually soaking in the bacon grease, and let cool enough so you don’t burn your mouth

9. Enjoy!

Disappearing Act

I’m currently sitting in the San Jose airport waiting to fly to LA to spend the next two days working from Cali before spending the weekend with my Kwanster. But when I checked into the airport this evening on Foursquare, it told me I’d had 7 airport check-ins this month.

Sigh.

That’s where I’ve been.

I was (and still am planning on!) writing about my brother getting married, maybe Christmas and the awesomeness of the poncho I bought yesterday.

But for now, I’m tired.

So I’ll write about them. Promise. Oh. And I’ll write about seeing Rev Run. But not about how I sang It’s Tricky to him because that didn’t actually happen. But I do know every word!

And if you stick around, I’ll give you the recipe for the paleo pancakes I’ve been making at least once a week.

Sheesh. I just promised y’all a lot. Guess I have to follow through on all of this!

But for now. In case you’re ever at the San Jose airport, the chairs have plugs in the armrests. It really is the little things.

Chicken Legs, Drumsticks, Whatever Recipe

I’m very much of a “show me how to do it” person. I’m without a doubt, a Kinesthetic Learner. That applies to everything from math to hair to recipes. And because I learn by doing, I probably won’t be including the meat crust quiche that is currently in the oven (but you can get the recipe here!) That’s mainly due to my inability to read through a recipe beyond the first step to know that I should have diced the veggies before putting the butter on the stove with the garlic to melt thus meaning I had to cut like a mad woman. No worries – all fingers are still attached.

However, as promised, albeit it a late delivered promise, I do have the recipe for the chicken legs. Or drumsticks. Or whatever you call them. Just call them delicious for ease sake.

It feels silly posting it because it is SO easy, but I’ve had 3 people, multiple times, ask since that photo, so I am now providing it to the masses. With step-by-step photos! The learner in me is pleased.

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Okay so first. Chicken delicious…this is important. I got the small ones from Whole Foods because you know, they sell happy chickens who get killed. That’s your best bet with this recipe. I tried it this weekend with the huge chicken delicious from Tyson who clearly sells the unhappy chickens who get killed. Major difference. The first time, the delicious were cooked to perfection with ultra crispy outsides. The unhappy chickens weren’t as crispy but the outsides were getting slightly burned. It may be because I used more fat. But anyway, doesn’t eating happy chickens mean you’re happier too? I digress.

Preheat your oven to 475. Yep. That’s not a mistype. You want it hot. Like HOT HOT HOT. That helps the outsides get crispy while the insides still say moist. My friend, Maia, says something like because they’re already fatty that helps them stay moist. I know nothing of those such details, but I trust her. She knows her stuff.

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You’re gonna need some fat for these bad boys. I used butter because I had it. But bacon fat (OMG YUM!) or coconut oil (I was out…bummer) would work equally well. But it needs to be in liquid form. So melt your fat. No weight loss pun, intended. I used 3/4 a stick of butter for 6 delicious. Using delicious as a noun is killing the grammar queen in me. But then..go WILD. Seriously. With your spices. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano, but it’s totally up to you. These are your chicken delicious. What flavors do you want?

Anyway…put that all in a bowl and use your hands to mix it up. Oh…you thought you wouldn’t get dirty in the process? Clearly you missed the part above about me being a hands-on learner. That’s what kinesthetic means.

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The goop won’t stay in true liquid form so it’ll become thicker goop. That’s okay. Just make sure your delicious have it on them.

Put it in the oven.

Oh…this is also VERY IMPORTANT. You must use a baking PAN for this. Not a baking sheet. You knew that…right? The goop will melt and will get everywhere if you don’t use a pan. But you probably already knew that. Just double checking.

So there aren’t photos for these next steps because yawn…who wants a photo of a timer. But you cook these for roughly 40 minutes. And you need to flip them every 10 minutes to make sure each side is getting equal treatment.

AND THE SMOKE. So apparently things start smoking over 400 degrees (thanks Maia!). And by things, I’m pretty sure fat or oil. Yeah…didn’t know that. My entire apartment was a haze of smoke. It burned my eyes every time I opened the oven to flip the delicious. I thought about pulling out my swim goggles. I don’t have a remedy for these…except open windows or doors. But maybe wait until it’s not 10 degrees outside to make these.

When the skin starts to come off the delicious and just in general look brown and crispy, you’ll know they’re done. The happy chicken delicious took about 38 minutes. The unhappy chicken delicious, I probably should have left in for about 3 more minutes, but took out after 40.

And the result?

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You’ll have to trust me. They’re super crispy. Since I essentially only use my phone for my photos because I’ve long given up my dream at being anything more than a sometimes amateur food blogger, it doesn’t show the amazingness.

BUT.

These may be the most delicious things I’ve ever made.

And I’ve made a lot of things.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat all of them in one sitting, and I am still unsure of how to reheat them to make them crispy again. Any recos on that?

Okay…so the formal recipe?

You’ll need (INGREDIENTS):

– Package of 5-6 Chicken legs, drumsticks, delicious

– Some type of fat (again, I used 3/4 stick of butter…but whatever coats the delicious)

– Salt

– Pepper

– Your choice of spices – I used garlic powder and oregano, but I’m sure basil, lemon salt, paprika, anything your heart desires would be delicious

You’ll do (INSTRUCTIONS):

1. Preheat oven to 475

2. Melt fat down to liquid

3. Put chicken whatevers with liquid fat, salt, pepper and spices in a bowl and mix

4. Place chicken whatevers on baking pan spread so they’re not touching. Make sure the thickened fat/spices that remains in the bowl gets put on each delicious

5. Open all windows/doors and take out smoke alarm batteries

6. Cook chicken whatevers for 40ish minutes flipping every 10 minutes

7. They’re done when the skin looks brown, crispy and is pulling away from the meat

8. Eat as soon as they’ve cooled down enough to do so.

Julia Child is rolling over in her grave with my instructions.

Oh and that quiche? Here’s a picture of the final product.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. And I just have to say, the thing that excites me the most about this, is that my blog was viewed in 70 different countries!!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Probi-what?

I hope y’all had a very Merry Christmas! Don’t worry, I’ll post all about mine soon enough.

Before I do that, I wanted to write a little bit about probiotics.

Obviously, digestive health is huge for me. And it’s been an even bigger issue during the second half of the year as I endured multiple medical tests that yielded no results as well as accidentally eating gluten more than once in the past few months.

Have I mentioned how much I hate gluten?

But this post isn’t about that. This post is about those nice, happy bacteria that help me feel better. Or simply put, good bacteria.

Growing up, I never took them. I don’t think I even knew what they were. And every time I’d have to take antibiotics, my stomach would get shredded. Almost worse than having the infection. Then one day, my dad recommended I take these weird things called probiotics to help battle the antibiotics killing all the bacteria in my system.

I refuse to take antibiotics without them now.

Now probiotics are the cool thing. Pinkberry, Yagoot, Activia, all repping these bacteria.

But those have lots of sugar. And you have to eat a lot to get the amount needed. So I take a daily supplement.

After taking whatever seemed the most effective via packaging, my doctor recommended I take Florastar, which is a fungal probiotic. Sounds gross, I know. But here’s something that’s happened since I’ve taken them. I haven’t gotten sick. Not like digestive sick, I’ve gotten that still, but cold/flu sick.

I’ve been around germs, people who’ve been sick, traveled, had to mess with my eyes because of my contacts, and I’m still kicking. I do take Airborne anytime I’m worried I might be getting sick, but I really attribute this to probiotics. If your gut is healthy, your immune system is much more likely to be good, in my experience.

Try them. You’ll never look back.

And nope…not a promotional post. Not popular enough for those🙂

Not Quite Christmas Cookies

Tis the season of baking.

One downside of being gluten intolerant is that this is a time where I typically take a backseat. I don’t even actually really crave Christmas cookies. You know, the ones in the shapes of Christmas trees, candy canes, stars, reindeer with brightly colored icing on top. But I crave them in theory. Christmas treats of sort.


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To be really honest, I’m not a huge cookie person. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them. But with sweets, ice cream is my weakness. Except for Christmas time. Christmas time, I want cookies.

Since my friend Maia made the cookies I posted here, I’ve been itching to make some. But this time, I was craving pumpkin flavor, so I did some investigating, and came across this recipe.

I made it as is, so I’ll let you go check it out.

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Some caveats. They weren’t as good as the recipe I posted about before. The almond flour gave it a much more grainy texture that I didn’t enjoy. Maia suggested next time, I use butter instead of the almond flour to help with that. Plus, I bought creamy almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but it still had some grit to it. So I’d make sure to get real creamy almond butter next time.

Also, I added more pumpkin spice because I love the flavor of pumpkin and want to make sure the flavor comes through.

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The next cookie recipe I have on my list is….drumroll please….these. Just look at those! Seriously!

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Photo Christmas Catch Up

If I’m behind on updating my blog, I’m really behind on uploading photos anywhere. So instead of giving y’all a verbal update on my life, I’ll give you a visual one. But one quick note…towards the end of the photos, you’ll start to see glasses-less me. I’m climbing the uphill battle of giving contacts a try. We’ll see how that turns out.

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After many childhood trips to South Bend to see my grandfather, I finally made it to a Notre Dame game. And since I can’t tailgate with beer, I figured, why not champagne. Mumm…if you need a spokesperson, I’m available!

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Spotted at Thanksgiving. My all-time favorite photo. This hangs in my grandparents house showing all the cousins that were born by that point. I have always been cynical. 

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The brother and I before the annual Thanksgiving hike. Also before our trip planning to Zanzibar next year.

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Took a weekend trip to DC to see my bestest friend. Much needed quality time.

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And I can’t go to DC without seeing my soulmate, Fou. Unfortunately, all our non-blurry photos are not quite as flattering. This girl was the reason I got through my one semester at Centre.

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The Bengals vs. Cowboys game with my girl Jilly. Always gotta make it to one game at PBS. Even if we did lose.

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A work trip took me to San Jose, Cali, and in case you’re wondering, this is how they put up Christmas lights.

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I’ve been going to the Crosstown Shootout my entire life, and always with this guy. A little odd this year on neutral ground, and our team lost (I’ve got a bad streak going on here), but I have now seen this game played at every major arena in Cincinnati.

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This year, Jordann went with us! 

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My hair and I don’t always get along, and when we don’t, it’s not pretty. The hair to face ratio is just not okay.

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Alice, aka Snacks, one of my co-worker’s daughters came in this week to help us spread some holiday cheer. It’s been a lot of work, but we’re finally starting to bond.