My Summer in Spain

Hello all you lovely, freshly baked cupcakes!

If you don’t know me, you haven’t had the pleasure (or as some would call it, annoyance) of my non-stop gush of how excited I am to be spending this summer in Espana! I’ll be taking Spanish classes and finishing up my Spanish minor. If that doesn’t sound dope to you, IDK what will….

Anyway, I’ve actually already left. I’m typing this in another country AND YEAH THAT’S SUPER AWESOME TO ME. The people in the Frankfurt Airport probably think I’m a nutter.

As per request, I’m going to post about all the amazing food and cultural interests during my time here. I just hope my host family is ready for my help in the kitchen!

Ciao for now

Cherry Tomato, Almond, and Feta Salad

I’m going to get to the point real fast for you:

This salad is bomb, so make it

I came up with the recipe on the spot when I had nothing else to eat. It’s a great lunch, and perfect side dish with chicken or salmon. You can also just enjoy the pure vegetarian dish this is

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped kale (Tip on Kale Prep)
  • a drizzle of honey (or just a teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds, raw or toasted in a pan
  • 1-2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (I like to use about 8 or 9)
  • 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves (chopped), optional

Instructions:

  1. Combine the spinach and kale in a bowl. Mix together to form an even disbursement.
  2. Drizzle the honey over the mix, then add the vinegar and ground black pepper. Mix again.
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes, feta, and almonds, this time mixing gently to avoid making a feta cheese disaster.
  4. Serve, topping it with fresh basil if available.

OR:

  1. Throw it all in a bowl, mix it up and eat it!

Either way, you’ll enjoy it.

“Literally Just Banana” Ice Cream

I’m always making banana bread with my browning bananas. Don’t get me wrong; it’s absolutely delicious and I eat the entire loaf. There in lays the problem though!
I needed a better use for my bananas than baked goods or I was going to be made of banana bread. I found out on Pinterest that you can make banana ice cream just by freezing the bananas you have that are ripened!
All you need is a plastic bag, ripe bananas, a freezer, and a blender.

Yes, it is that easy.

I’ll let you in on my favorite recipes later on, but I’ll explain the method real quick so you can start living your amazing new life with banana ice cream included.

Method:

Cut up the RIPE bananas and put them in a plastic bag. Freeze those little suckers until they are hard (I’ll usually just leave them in there for a day or so). Once frozen, throw them into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. This may take a bit and your roommates/neighbors will hate you for it but it’s 100% worth it. It you like it a bit firmer, put it back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Take it out, and enjoy your creation!

Eggplant Parmesan in the Tiniest of Kitchens

During spring break, I spent way too much money on food that also happened to be awful for me. The best meal I had though was with my best friend, Holly, in her single loft apartment in St. Augustine, Florida. Holly and I decided to cook dinner at least one night and she was craving Eggplant Parmesan.

I have to sincerely apologize to every student at Flagler, the college in that town. The grocery stores were lacking a lot in the way of fresh produce and quality in general. Maybe I’m just spoiled by Wegmans in Maryland, but it made it difficult to get all the ingredients together. To me, Target isn’t a grocery store. The store didn’t even have eggplant! We took a trip to Win Dixie, as well as Publix, then retreated back to cook dinner.

…and then I remembered I didn’t have bread crumbs. In Holly’s tiny kitchen, I already didn’t have a lot to work with. There was nothing that was going to stop me though; a hungry girl on a mission is an unstoppable force.

Did you know you can make homemade breadcrumbs? I had made them before. I used holly’s whole wheat bread. All you have to do is pulse the bread in a blender or food processor. Once I did that I added some Italian herbs and parmesan straight into my breadcrumbs.

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I cut the eggplant and gave it to holly, who dipped each slice in egg and then the breadcrumbs. She had to move to another room because I had taken over the little kitchen space there was. I looked for a baking pan, only to find an alarming lack of any cookware besides pots and pans. “SHIT SHIT SHIT,” was all that was going through my head. How was I supposed to cook them? For those of you that have never made this dish before, it’s baked with cheese and tomato sauce in a sort of deep baking dish, which is so delicious.

Again, hungry megan = unstoppable force. I grabbed a pan and some olive oil. We were going to fry them! I guess it wasn’t necessarily eggplant parm, more like fried eggplant deliciousness.

Once we had fried all of the eggplant, I put some provolone on each and broiled them in the *surprise surprise* small oven on a sheet of aluminum foil. And meanwhile, while doing all of this we cooked angel hair pasta and set the bar table for dinner.

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Everything was set out to eat FINALLY. Once we dished out the pasta and eggplant and sauce, I realized how worth it the entire process was. Even in the tiniest of kitchens, we were able to make a masterpiece, a work of culinary art.

If you’re interested, I’ll post the recipe to this dish. In the times I’ve made it again, I’ve found it honestly very easy to cook and decently healthy if you follow my method.

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

This recipe is ridiculously easy. All you need is a microwave, but you can use a stove top too.
I want you to picture your favorite breakfast. You’re about to realize everything you believe to be amazing is sub-par
Okay maybe I’m incredibly over-hyping this, but it’s really good and really easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk* (or regular milk)
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced (you don’t have to peel if you don’t have time)
  • Handful of chopped walnuts, however many you want
  • A sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Grab a medium sized bowl. Combine oats and milk and stir.
  2. Microwave for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes, being careful to make sure the milk doesn’t bubble over. Stir after each minute if this is an issue.
  3. Afterwards, add the apples, walnuts and cinnamon. Let sit for a minute before stirring in.
  4. Mix it all up and enjoy! It it’s not sweet enough, add a little bit or honey or sugar. You shouldn’t have to though, it’s delicious!

Notes*

You don’t have to use almond milk, but I’d recommend it. Almond milk stays better for longer in the fridge. If you aren’t an avid milk drinker, this can really help you save money and reduce waste!

 

 

Eating Healthy is Eating Normal

When you go grocery shopping, what is your cart full of? Where do you spend the most time when you’re there? What do you cook?

If you never cook, you may not even know the answer to those questions. Unfortunately as a student, at least at the University of Maryland, I’m not in close proximity to a proper grocery store. I’m privileged in the fact that I have a car; otherwise I would be eating at restaurants and fast food places all the time. For a lot of people, that’s the standard. Chipotle and Blaze once in a while are okay, but not every day for the sake of your wallet and your body.

I see this as a huge issue among my peers. It’s not that they want to live like this. When you don’t know how to cook though, or what to make even if you can, what other options would you have? Then, what happens when you graduate?

This problem can’t continue to be ignored, and I want to help be part of the solution! I’m investing my time in this blog to help you, either fellow students, graduates, or anyone that just wants to eat normally, get to the point that you can buy the right food and cook for yourself all on your own.

Because eating healthy should be eating normally.

And I don’t mean eating salads for every meal and dieting to the point of pure hunger. I will not allow you to detox. Vegetables are not your enemy. You may have to keep an open-mind to my recipes, but if you test the waters and then dive right in, I promise you won’t regret it.

Peace Pie in St.Augustine, FL

This place was groovy man

I had to say that for my sanity. Peace Pie was absolutely groovy though, I promise. I got so excited when I found it down a little alley way. The store made its mark in St.Augustine with its original take on ice cream sandwiches.

I wouldn’t think to get an ice cream sandwich unless I was in the grocery store and they were on sale, but these were of a different type all together. Between two cookies is a large serving of rich ice cream and pie filling. Fillings were not just fruit based, like apple pie or cherry. Peace Pie used moose of all kinds, caramel, brownies, and the works. I’d never seen anything like it. From red velvet to creme brulee, to a banana cream pie or a blueberry cobbler, this place has it all.

I can’t even count the flavor combinations. It probably took me five minutes to decide, and I was rushed by Holly.  To be honest Holly actually decided for me. I turned to her and said “Which one is most Megan?” (I was speaking in third person, it was awful). She picked a french toast ice cream sandwich. I rushed out of the store as it was about to close. It may have been apparent that I had a few too many drinks as I danced through the streets like a child who just convinced her parents to get her what she wanted.

It was delicious, and it wasn’t because I was drunk that I’m saying this. Holly tried it too, which was just reassurance. We both groaned. You could smell the cinnamon. The pie filling perfectly complemented the ice cream and cookie. It was sweet, but not too sweet.  The sandwich didn’t completely fall apart till the end, and by then I didn’t care at all.

Spring Break in St.Augustine, FL

Hello all you lovely people!
Hopefully wherever you are you aren’t too cold. If so you’re about to be incredibly jealous of what you’re about to read.

I’m in Floridaaaaaa

It’s almost the end of spring break for me unfortunately, but I’m here for the rest of the week visiting my best friend, Holly. We’re getting into all kind of mischief and spending money we don’t have on amazing food. I’m an unpaid intern though, I need to slow down. Fortunately, Holly knows where to take me for cheap but delicious eats.

I’ll be posting some reviews and pictures of the places I go. Might be a little late though because today is a beach day! St.Augustine is so gorgeous and so are you 😉

 

Odd Thoughts: September 26th

As I sit here on my break at work, I am painfully reminded of the time just a month ago when I wished I was back in school and busy. Oh how young and naive I was at 20 years and 8 months old. With almost no free time, except for when I’m not sacrificing my soul to the almighty gods of homework, I have realized there isn’t much time to plan what to eat. What ever is quick and cheap will end up in my stomach because I honestly don’t have time to contemplate the amount of sugar in that energy bar. I think all students with packed schedules can relate to this. It’s an uphill battle to eat healthy, get enough sleep, get good grades, and stay sane.

Where there is a will… Oh who am I kidding! I want to eat healthy, and I don’t need a cliche to tell you that if you really want to do something, you’ll get it done. Recently, I’ve been prepping meals at 10pm, sometimes until 1am, for the upcoming days. I make incredibly boring, but healthy, dishes that I know I’ll eat no matter what. If I have to eat broccoli and chicken for every dinner, so be it! (Unless there’s pizza) I’ve come to notice that it saves me a lot of money too.

You can definitely do the same thing for yourself; you just have to see the benefit of it. It’s like working out, except more fun because you see the physical fruits of your labor right away. When your fridge is full of prepped meals, it shows your hard work in a weirdly satisfying way. You also start to feel the effects of eating better within days. Trust me, it’s worth it.

ron-eating

 

Williamsburg, VA

It’s funny how some people are enthralled by a vacation to Florida or the Caribbean. How can I blame them though? The warm weather and clear blue ocean is a happy place for nearly anyone. It’s a bit overrated thougIMG_20160810_110808h (and by overrated, I mean it’s too damn expensive for a college student). You can find an adventure anywhere if you really want to.

Instead of traveling far and wide, which is honestly what I want to be doing, I took the less traveled road of a twenty year old college student and channeled my inner old soul to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. At the beginning of August, the weather was as gorgeous as Satan’s den; a beautiful arrangement of 90-95 degree days with 65% humidity. I have never chaffed so much in my life.
me-off-to-college
I honestly do love Williamsburg though. My grandmother lives there, the school that I wanted to go to is right around the corner from her, and the food and bar scene is just as good, if not better, than anywhere near me (bes1472153408887ides D.C of course). I was never disappointed in any of the food I got, but I was out of it for almost the entire vacation. My taste buds were probably shot from mojitos, sangria, beer, cider, and the lot. How could I say no if the boyfriend offered to pay?

Anyway, after a long car ride down, I was eager to get going to a bar I had been waiting to try. The Dog Street Pub is a very popular spot right next to1470612837184 College of William and Mary and down Duke of Gloucester street, which I have walked down every visit since I was a kid. This slightly expensive British style pub made it’s way on my list rather quickly. After having a pint of cider and perfectly cooked chicken Tikka Masala, I wished I lived in Williamsburg. Dog Street is known for its fish and chips, a battered and fried cod filet with what we as Americans call “french fries”. Immediately when Justin saw it on the menu, he ordered it with extra chips and another beer. Thank god he did, because everything was demolished. The tartar sauce was fantastic, evidently homemade by the 1470700734192texture and lightness of it. I have little to complain about this place except for the overpriced and unorganized appetizers.Justin and I did return another day for lunch, but it was a bit less impressive than that first night. He ordered the fish and chips again; I, the fried cod sandwich. A pool of oil sat below the soggy under belly of the fried filet on both of our meals. However, I still recommend this place. I would be there every single day for the food, but also because I’m obsessed with everything British. Just let me pretend like a curry and a pint is a normal thing for me and I’ll binge watch Doctor Who in my Hogwarts robes.

Waking up the next morning was a bit rough, but food is always the best cure for a light hangover. Excited and ready to go, I dragged Justin out of the hotel 1472153656499to my favorite place in Williamsburg, if not my favorite in all the land, Aromas! As hipster as it gets, Aromas is a unique sandwich cafe offering a variety of other foods and drinks. Paintings from local artists lined the walls as the beautiful smell of espresso and man bun (maybe not so beautiful) danced through the air. Cramped and condensed, it seems like it is always packed with people making it reminiscent of a Brooklyn coffee shop. I’d argue NYC shops have nothing on this place, but I’d be as biased as Trump telling you how huge his penis is.IMG_20160809_124318

The food and drinks are some of the best around though. The wraps there are to die for, and so is everything else. Justin and I got a southwest omelet and a large cup of vanilla bourbon rooibos, the best tea in the world. A little known secret is the patio in the back, where Justin and I sat to eat and chat in a less crowded space. If I’m ever wishing to be somewhere, it’s Aromas.

 

 

Around the corner from Aromas is a place of magic, The Peanut Shop. All you have to do is walk through this shop to understand what I mean. After 1472153784877breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I walk through to get dessert, for free. To any college student, that’s MAGIC. From chocolate covered peanut brittle bites, to caramel apple spiced peanuts, I’ve tried all the samples in the store. Each counter has a variety of containers with a spoon and the hope that you’ll only take one sample, but you will always take two. My favorite, addictive little treat is the peanut butter chocolate covered peanuts. As I typed that I realized how ridiculous it sounds. It doesn’t matter because the deliciousness of them makes it worth writing out for you. 1470700632348

The shop also has a variety of nuts, peanut butters, candies, honey, jams, and savory peanuts. I am obsessed with the habanero peanuts. My only problem is the Chesapeake peanuts…. As a Marylander, I take offense to any sub-par food that has anything to do with the Bay. If a crab cake is done wrong, you’ll hear from my lawyer. These peanuts were similar to Old Bay seasoned (If you don’t know what Old Bay is, get your head checked and find out), but not as authentic or tasty. Overall though, I’ll let it slide. This is one of my favorite places to go and I don’t want to spoil it because of ONE thing they sell….even if it is offensive to my Maryland taste buds. 1470700295162

Of course, when in Williamsburg, act like a tourist. We went to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, but I’m very reluctant to tell you what I ate. In fact, I feel sick thinking about it. Chicken tenders and cold french fries, mhmmmm. It wasn’t a foodie exploration, just a fun one.

A day at the bea1471017568709ch was the next excursion to check off the list. Virginia beach was never intended to be a food destination, but as it turns out, some of the best food of vacation was right off the boardwalk in a restaurant that looked like a shack. The Mojito Cafe it was called, with a bar the size of my twin bed and a dining room that could fit about 18. Justin and I were starving after body surfing waves and reading all day on the beach to the point where we were about to eat 1471012947931just about anywhere. We didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg though, so the best place was the cheapest place. The Mojito Cafe had cheap, authentic Cuban cuisine and any type of mojito the mirror of erised could show you.

A little on the sweet side, the mango mojito was empty as quick as the waitress put it down. I must say, I prefer the traditional recipe, which this cafe perfected. The integrity of the food was evident in every course, from the tostados appetizers, to the sea salt caramel cake. I rarely put my fork down. As I waited for my main course after another appetizers, the conch fritters, my mouth drooled. Everything was cooked so precisely, with the passion of chef evident in eve1472153198964ry bite. I ordered the “Pernil y Arroz”, a Cuban slow roasted pork that came with a drizzle of garlic aioli and a small bed of rice. It was nearly outshined by Justin’s dish, Marinated Mahi Tacos. If we had been in Florida, those tacos wouldn’t have even gotten close to Justin’s stomach, let alone his mouth.

 

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I didn’t think these same feelings of food ecstasy I had experienced at The Mojito Cafe could be replicated, especially not on this trip; however, I had forgotten my family’s favorite place to eat in good old Williamsburg, Pierce’s! The small-scale, classic barbecue re1472153573430staurant known as Pierce’s is a place sacred to my parents. If I ever visit Williamsburg on my own, It is a sacrilege to not bring back a container of pulled pork from this place. I’m almost positive my dad would sell me for a half a goat, not even a whole goat!, for a meal from this place. I took Justin to Pierce’s, right before we were to see the new Star Trek movie, in the hopes that it would be the greatest night of our vacation. 1471017745763

Both of us got a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, and neither of us spoke throughout the entire dinner. No words had to be spoken. It was incredibly obvious that this silence was in the name of respect of fantastic food. I felt as though I had unlocked an achievement; “Foodgasm reached with maximum efficiency.”

 

The most important food destination though was Farmor’s house. In all of time and space, I would choose the moments I’ve had with family and loved ones over any others, but particularly when it involves food. Farmor, my grandmother, invited us over to eat a few times during our visit, but it wasn’t until the last day of vacation that we were really able to sit and enjoy brunch with her. Well, sort of with her. My grandmother is incredible, as I have written about before. She’s independent and strong-minded. However, all she did all brunch was cook for us. It was only until the last of about 50 crepes that she sat down, took the tiniest of the batch, and ate it with a small amount
of jam. It was strange having someone in my family cook for me (that’s usually my job). I appreciate it so much more looking back a month later. I wish I could be sitting with her right now, eating crepes and talking about books we’ve read.1471107825471

Instead I am here in College Park, writing for my blog instead of doing homework! I should probably get back to that, but first I’ll make some crepes and call my grandmother.

Breakfast Tacos

This recipe is so easy, so I want to write it simply and concisely! I hate when blogs have a long ass explanation on why the recipe has so much spiritual meaning to the blogger’s third cousin, twice removed. Just enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Shredded Cheese (Mexican, White Cheddar, Pepper Jack)
  • Avocado, peeled and mashed
  • Tortillas, taco sized
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream, for topping
  • Hot Sauce (I love Trader Joe’s Chili Sauce)
  • Eggs, scrambled
  • Salt
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder

Instructions:

  1. Prepare all ingredients. If you’re making one or two for yourself, use a handful of each the cheese and tomatoes. Grab one egg for one person, three for two people, and so on.
  2. Take the eggs you’re using and scramble them with a pinch of each salt, chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder.
  3. Put a saucepan on the stove top, set the temperature to medium-low, and cook the eggs. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula until they are fluffy and just a little wet.
  4. Meanwhile, heat your tortillas in the microwave between damp paper towels, about thirty seconds.
  5. Grab a tortilla and smear a generous amount of avocado on it. Place egg on top of tortilla.
  6. Top off the tortilla with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, Greek yogurt/sour cream, and hot sauce.
  7. Enjoy because it’ll be the best part of your day.