Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Oscars!!!

The Oscars were Sunday night, and I thought that I would share just a few thoughts I had while watching. I would like to mention that I did start watching Oscar coverage as soon as it began, at 1:30 on E!, and didn’t stop watching until the Oscars were over at 11:30 at night, which brings my Oscar viewing to a grand total of 10 hours. So I definitely put in the time. Therefore, without further ado, I present the list of my Top 10 Favorite Oscar Things (in no particular order):

1) Billy Crystal SO lived up to the hype.

2) Meryl Streep’s speech will go down in history as the Greatest Oscar Speech Ever.

3) Seeing Sacha Baron Cohen pour “Kim Jong-Il's ashes” on Ryan Seacrest made my life better.

4) I want Cameron Diaz’s dress.

5) Emma Stone mocking Anne Hathaway’s hosting persona was fantastic.

6) Jim Rash mocking Angelina Jolie’s ridiculous pose was also pretty fantastic.

7) Francesca Lo Schiavo, who won for Achievement in Art Direction for Hugo, ended her speech with, “This is for Martin…and for Italy!”

8) Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, who won for Achievement in Film Editing, ended their 10-second speech with, “Let’s get out of here. We’re editors.”

9) The way that Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis chose to enter the stage to present the Oscar for Best Original Song was so great.

10) The following quote from Christopher Plummer’s acceptance speech (which he is directing to his Oscar): “You’re only two years older than me darling, where have you been all my life?” Oh Captain von Trapp, how we love you!

Now Meri is speaking/writing/whatever-as a side note, these pictures show what we and our friends like to do during the Oscars. Yup, we made a fort (we also got Domino's, Doritos, Popcorn, Milano cookieds, m&ms, cookie dough, and chips & salsa to snack while we sat in the fortress).

Hour one of Oscar-viewing.

Ana pretending she is too cool for the fort.

Sam and Sarah at hour six.

We're so cool.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Sister's Friends Are So Cool

My sister had the coolest friends in college (and still has those friends today). I would try to live vicariously through her just so I could claim them as my own buddies. They made me want to go to college because to a ten-year old, everyone at college must be that cool (not actually true).

Anyway, I've known Melissa's best friends from college-Simmie, Elise, and Jen-for about 10 years now. 10!

And I like to consider them my own friends. I hope they're okay with that.

It just so happens that Simmie now lives in Silver Spring, MD, which is not far from me. And, she invited me to her "Around the World Potluck!" I was sooooooo excited. Not only because potlucks involve food, but because Simmie is awesome. And Elise happens to be staying at Simmie's place right now. She is also awesome.

Because it was an "Around-the-World" potluck, I had to bring something from the culture I associate with. Since I know literally nothing about my family's history other than that my mom's side of the family is Italian, the choice was basically made for me.

I agonized for days about what to bring. I thought lasagna. I thought pasta. I though bruschetta. I thought the easiest recipe by Giada. Then I thought focaccia.

I loooooove focaccia. And this recipe looked just delightful (plus, Simmie gave it a thumbs up, so I had my dish).

This recipe-for Rosemary and Red Onion Focaccia-is really simple and was enjoyed by all!

My sister (also associating with the Italian inside) made delicious roasted tomato bruschetta.

I had an awesome time at the potluck. I knew I was with the right set of people when everyone started yawning at 10pm. That's my kinda crowd.

So thank you, Melissa's friends, for at least letting me pretend to be your friend as well. I always feel like I'm hanging out with the cool kids when I get to see you guys. And hopefully I'll get to see you all again soon.


Friday, February 24, 2012

My Brotha is 23!

My wonderful brother Alex turned 23 on February 21. I wasn't there to celebrate.

BUT, he came to visit me with my mommy today and it was fabulous.

It was also stressful.

I was seeing him only a couple of days after his real birthday. That means I had to have a gift ready.

Not that he would actually care. Alex would be totally fine with a delayed present. But it wouldn't do for my peace of mind.

So, when I realized he was coming at the beginning of this week, my brain got to work. I went through a lot of possibilities that I can't remember now and then ended up with an old standby: food.

Alex seems to like my baked goods so I'm more than happy to provide him with sustenance. However, I had limited time and resources as I didn't have time to shop during the week. I decided on something peanut butter-y (since he was the first Reeses-lover I ever knew, and since I could by the stuff at the food store on campus).

I remembered these goodies that I made last year to bring back to my dorm floor after Thanksgiving break. Being sandwich cookies, they're a little twist on the usual and very decadent-perfect for a birthday gift.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get my hands on any vanilla, so these went without. Hopefully the intense peanut flavor will help Alex forget about the missing extract.

Also, the filling calls for peanut butter and powdered sugar. I made half with this classic filling and then made another batch using Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter. A little variety is always good.

These cookies are gooey and yummy (especially since I totally undercooked one batch-it's a problem I have. I prefer foods that might give you salmonella poisoning). They also give you multiple opportunities for dough-eating. You have the original cookie dough, then the filling (then the other filling if you choose to make it). And you absolutely have to taste each. Quality control people.

Here's the full gift after my beautiful packaging (paper bowls courtesy of Sam). I also got him an American University beer mug, for good measure.

I hope he likes it!

Find the recipe here: http://bromabakery.blogspot.com/2010/12/half-way-to-heaven-peanut-butter.html


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Are You Eating?

I must get that question at least three times a day just at lunch time. I get it. I eat weird food. Any lunch not sandwiched between two slices of bread seems to be completely foreign to people-and I take the strangeness even further.

A couple weeks ago for example, I made a bulgar wheat salad for lunch. Bulgar wheat with roasted butternut squash, toasted walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, and dried figs.

A few people asked me if I was eating cantaloupe. Some people just went for the direct-what (on earth) are you eating? And everyone else just stared conspicuously me every time I took a bite to see if they could figure out just what was going on in that tupperware.

So yeah, my general response has become a muffled confusion of words, like "ummm it's just bulgar wheat and some stuff, haha" or "oh, it's bulgar, I eat weird food, haha" etc. (But the awkward "haha" is pretty much always there. Attractive, I know.)

However, for the first time probably in my life, I got a totally new response! My boss at my internship walked by while I was eating lunch. She peaked over and said, "Ooo! Are you a vegetarian?" I responded yes and told her what was on the menu for the day. And she said?

"Mmmm yummy!"

That may have been the most exciting moment of my day. I am indeed vegetarian. I take advantage of my limitations by eating every non-animal product that comes my way. I'll try just about anything non-meat related that comes my way (I'm not vegan though, cheese and milk are right up my alley).

Truth is, it may have looked weird to most people, but my lunch that week was (as my mom would say) DE-licious!

Bulgar Wheat Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Other Goodies

-1 cup bulgar wheat
-about 2 pounds of butternut squash
-1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
-1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
-1/3 cup dried chopped mission figs
-olive oil
-juice from half a lemon
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Put the bulgar in a heat proof bowl. Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil and pour over the bulgar. Stir and let sit about 20 minutes or until tender.
3. Cut the butternut squash into bite-size pieces and put on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and stir to coat. Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Place pumpkin seeds and chopped walnuts into a large pan and put on medium heat until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Be sure to keep the seeds moving, they burn easily.
5. Chop the missions figs into bite-size pieces.
6. Drain the bulgar and place in large mixing bowl. Add roasted squash, seeds, nuts, and figs and stir to combine. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and add salt and pepper to taste. Don't leave out the lemon juice-it adds a brightness and freshness to the salad.
7. Can be served with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and an extra splash of olive oil.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Food and Horse Shows: The Ultimate Debacle

I just got back from an overnight horse show in Alexandria, Virginia, at Hazelwild Farm-where University of Mary Washington rides. And, like at every other show, our team was faced with the ultimate question: what do we eat?

Except, it actually isn't that simple. Horse shows present the ultimate obstacle to a regular meal schedule.

It all starts at 6 am (4 am for non-collegiate shows) when you wake up to a still-dark sky. You are grumpy, confused, and most certainly NOT thinking about food. If you ate food now, you'd probably puke. So you get in the car with the rest of your short-tempered team mates and start on the road towards the barn.

Then you arrive and, even though you're not showing until noon, you continue to neglect breakfast. Your stomach is revolting against its maltreatment, but you've got things to do. And by things I mean stand around. There's this ever-constant feeling at horse shows that insists you stand by the ring. What if someone needs you? What if your over-fences course changes? What if you suddenly need to get on your horse because all of the classes before yours were miraculously canceled?

(P.S. None of this ever happens.)

Yet, you wait there and continue to neglect that tummy.

After hours of waiting, you finally compete. And then you realize that rumbling wasn't butterflies, it was hunger.

It's circumstances like these that lead to near starvation and then complete loss of control at the restaurant. You stuff your face with all the food in reaching distance and deal with the tummy-ache later.

Yup. That's usually how it goes. I've gotten used to this process however, and have gotten slightly better at preparing for the worst. I bring things like Clif bars and pieces of fruit that are easy to eat and require little effort on behalf of the totally-occupied equestrian standing in the cold.

Oh, and I rarely get food from the stand outside of the show. I'm not condemning all horse-show food trucks-though one of my teammates did get sick from her bacon, egg, and cheese. I just try to avoid it if possible.

So, how did we eat on this adventure? We fell victim as usual. But I wasn't quite as desperate as usual thanks to my snacking methods.

Nonetheless, my digestive system was excited to work after a visit to Wawa (Saturday's lunch), Cheeseburger in Paradise (team dinner), and Papa John's (Sunday's Lunch).

Thankfully, I was able to get back on schedule somewhat after arriving back on campus with a box dinner from the dining hall. Ahhhh it's good to be back.

(These pictures are from my phone so disregard the quality. The first horse one is me riding a horse named Watermelon and the second is my riding a horse named Vegas. And up top are my ribbons from the weekend!)


Thursday, February 16, 2012


Everyone should start being very nice to me, because in a few months, I might have the power to destroy you! It’s possible that I’m exaggerating a little, but I did get an internship with the Department of State that starts at the beginning of the summer! I went in for an interview last week, and I guess they liked me because they emailed me the next day saying that I got the job! I guess it was worth it to show up 2 ½ hours early. Yes, that number was 2 ½ hours. The interview was in Rosslyn at 2, and even though Google Maps said that it would take about 45 minutes to get there, I decided that leaving at 10 would be more rational. I was there by 10:30, so I just hung out at a nearby coffee place until it was time. I went in, they asked me questions that were so by-the-books that I think they just looked up “Interview Questions” on Google right before I got there, and I left. The whole thing would’ve taken about 90 minutes if I weren’t such a dork. Anyway, it’s going to take at least three months to get the necessary security clearance (!!!) needed for me to work there, but after the FBI is done investigating me—yes, you read that right—I’ll be good to go! Part of my job will be doing extensive background checks, so like I said—look out!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!!!

Whoops! In a frenzy of homework I forgot to post yesterday about the most awesome bagel I've ever seen.

Her dad brought her this bagel from Einstein's a couple of days before Valentine's Day. It is red. It is in the shape of a heart. It could be creepy. But I choose to think that it's awesome.

You can pretend it's your own heart.

You can smile put it up to your mouth and pretend you have massive lips.

Or you can eat it.

You decide.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

What About Second Breakfast?

I love food.

I guess that's obvious.

Do you know what I love more than food?

Food themed like my favorite movies.

Thus, when my wonderful friend Michelle said that her sister was coming up to visit AND taking her to a Lord-of-the-Rings-themed restaurant, I totally jumped on that bandwagon.

The restaurant, Bilbo Baggins (so awesome), is located in Alexandria, Virginia, about 20 minutes from campus by car-by metro, probably 3 hours. And it is adorable. It has the feel of a small-towney diner/bar, with wooden furniture and closely situated tables waited on by affable waiters. In fact, the cramped dining room almost feels like a hobbit hole. I wonder if that was on purpose...

Moving past the atmosphere, the menu was also drool-worthy. It had all the components of a classic brunch, with a few small adjustments (i.e. Frodo's French Toast). I had trouble deciding between Smaug's Delight and the Vegetable Omelette, but, in the end, the omelette won out. I couldn't resist the biscuit.

Oh, and we got two baskets of beignet. Enough said.

Everyone loved their meals and left the restaurant bursting, but happy about it.

Oh, and that town is damn adorable. I will be making another trip there (even if it means I have to use the metro).


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Puppy Bowl XIII

Some Thoughts on the Puppy Bowl

This Superbowl Sunday, my television has been tuned to Animal Planet so I can watch Puppy Bowl VIII. Animal Planet is playing it on repeat every two hours from 3:00 today until 1:00 tomorrow morning, so I’ve already seen it twice and I’ll be watching it at least once more. Naturally, I have some thoughts I’d like to get off my chest:

1) My MVP (Most Valuable Puppy), who I chose before the kickoff, is Friday. My close second is Tattoo. My sister chose Leroy Brown, and my friend, who watched the Puppy Bowl with me, chose Hunter. If anything, I learned that both the people I know and I are terrible at choosing winning dogs. Friday ran around the stadium three times and took a nap, Leroy Brown just wrestled with the other puppies, and Hunter chased his crush, Holly, around. None of them ever picked up a toy.

2) I’m glad that the officials chose Fumble over Aberdeen to win MVP. Even though Aberdeen had more touchdowns, he had an advantage over his competitors—his size—and he turned into a bully by the end of game. Fumble, on the other hand, was a smart, modest player who turned out some great plays against a tough defense but never got cocky. It was clear that he had been challenged in the game, as he, exhausted, fell asleep in the end zone after making his last touchdown. If Aberdeen had won MVP over Fumble, it would’ve been kind of like when overly-aggressive Gretchen won Project Runway over lovable Mondo.

3) There is absolutely no way that Madonna will ever, ever beat the Kitty Half-Time Show. Sorry.

photo courtesy: www.sodahead.com


Sam's February Post

Meredith has shared what she’ll be looking at throughout the month of February, so I figured it was my turn. Last year, Meredith gave me the world’s greatest Christmas gift in the form of a Yoga Cat Calendar, and I loved it so much that I bought myself another one for 2012. I’m particularly attached to the smaller cat—the white one with the black tail—because every time my mom sees her, she can’t stop laughing:


(Please excuse the horrible photos that my camera takes of food. I hope to get a new camera soon so that my food looks more appealing. I promise is tastes good-unless I say otherwise in the post)

My family is one giant group of foodies.

My mom has been cooking since, I dunno, forever, I guess. And she has been wowing us with her magnificent dishes since before I was born. I was reaping the rewards of her talent since I was in the womb (I ate what she ate, and I could not wait to experience that gravy firsthand).

My dad is less of a chef (he can make a mean piece of reheated pizza), but you can't say that he doesn't appreciate every kind of food known to man. He's awesome to cook for because he's pretty much willing to try anything. Primo's hoagies to spicy Indian, he loves it all.

My sister and I tend to share a love of strange grains, nut butters, and all fruits and veggies. The two of us can get through a pint of raspberries in literally seconds. She loves to cook and experiment and explore the famous restaurants of New York City with her boyfriend.

My brother is an enigma. His male teenager-ness has always allowed him to enjoy the most unhealthy choices at little to no consequence (gggggrrrrrrrrr). As a 13-year-old, I would wallow away in my room as the smell of hot dogs with a toasted bun slathered in cream cheese wafted into my room at three in the morning. Oh, and also those bacon, egg, and cheese, sandwiches. Today, he orders takeout from only the classiest of Philly restaurants and when we are out to eat, he always gets a steak. That fist sized piece eaten by men in suits in a rush to discuss very important things, wanting to get back to their tight schedules-and also by my t-shirt-wearing brother that went to Vermont to go skiing on a whim this weekend.

I could spend hours talking about the other members of my family, as each one has a distinct love of all things food. But, I have homework, so I can cover everyone else in different posts.

However, the point of this long rant is that, knowing how much we love food, family members often give presents to my family in the form of something edible, or something that can make something edible.

For the past two years, my lovely aunt Bethy has sent us artisan pastas from the company Rossi Pasta. The flavors are amazing and I decided that I should take some packages to school with me, because, well, I wanted them. I make myself lunch for the week every Sunday, so I knew I would get good use out of them.

The first flavor I went with was Garlic! Fettucini. And boy was it garlicky. I carried a distinct aroma with me everywhere I went from January 30th to February 3rd. The aroma of deliciousness.

I chose to pair this pasta with roasted brussels sprouts, lemon juice, and more garlic of course! It was a delightfully simple dish that was infinitely pleasing to my tummy. I highly recommend it for a quick dinner or lunch.

-1 package of Garlic! Fettucini, or just regular fettucini from your favorite brand
-2 12-oz packages of brussels sprouts (or just enough to fill a sheet pan)
-1 lemon
-3 cloves of garlic
-olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Start heating up a large pot of water and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Wash the brussels sprouts and then halve them and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place sheet pan in oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. When done roasting, squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the top.
4. In the mean time, mince the garlic cloves and saute until lightly brown in a pan with olive oil and salt. When the brussels sprouts and garlic are done, dump the garlic onto the sprouts and mix.
5. When the water comes to a boil, add lots of salt and then the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the box until the pasta is al dente.
6. Reserver about a cup of pasta water before draining. Drain the pasta and put into a bowl. Add the sprouts and garlic and the juice from the other half of the lemon. Add a drizzle of olive oil and pasta water to loosen the pasta.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

I recommend adding some spice to this dish as well. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes would be delightful.
If I had a zester, I would definitely add lemon zest to the sprouts and to the pasta at the end (I stupidly left mine at home).
When I would reheat the pasta, I added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of balsamic sea salt. It was amazing. Do it.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's February!

Last year for Christmas, Sam gave me a calendar filled with pictures of my favorite famous men (and favorite yoga instructor) for each month. It was the most awesome calendar ever.

And this year, she's done it again. I mean, Darren Criss was January!

Each picture comes with a little subtitle underneath. Darren's was "You make me want to sing!"

This month is Josh Charles who I've had a crush on since I watched him in Aaron Sorkin's first show, Sports Night. His quote is "If we had a sex scene, it wouldn't be awkward at all!" (this is in reference to a Good Wife episode that was indeed very awkward).

Last year, I did my usual "look through each month" routine right when I got the calendar. Then, I learned that Sam has a strict, no-looking rule so that each month is a surprise. This year, I've followed that rule.

So now you'll get to experience the surprise right along with me every month.