Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review and a Fabulous New Year's Cocktail

2013 was one amazing year.  I can't believe all that has happened.  I completed student teaching, graduated from college, ran my first half marathon, got my first teaching job, moved into an apartment with Bri, and became a mom!

For all you readers who just became shocked about that last detail, I have to clarify.  I became a mommy to the cutest cat in the world!  I can't believer I haven't talked about Benny already!  Bri's sister found a kitten on the streets and Bri and I decided to take him in!  His full name is Benedict Ted Cumberbatch.  The Benedict Cumberbatch part comes from Bri's sister who decided it was a great name.  Plus, he is an awesome actor and stars as Sherlock in the BBC version of Sherlock Holmes (great show!).  The Ted part comes from Bri's and my favorite show, How I Met Your Mother.  Bri and I are Marshall and Lilly (he's a lawyer and I'm a teacher) and then we just needed a Ted to complete our apartment!  He's an awesome little kitty and I love him so much! Also, I apologize in advance for any typos in this post...Benny is currently laying on one of my arms while I type and is just being too darn cute for me to move him.

The other most exciting accomplishment for me this year has been my work as a new teacher!  I absolutely love my job, love my colleagues, and love my students.  I am have a great year and, although it is exhausting and often difficult, it is so rewarding and I know that I have chosen the right path based on how happy I am.

In other news, I have continued to cook and run as much as I can.  These are clearly important passions of mine and I am grateful to have kept up with them as I have become more busy with my job.  Although I am very happy, I have made up my mind on a few new years resolutions.  The biggest one is that I want to blog more.  I have continued to cook, but I have seriously cut back on blogging.  I want to change this in the new year and make sure to keep up with my blog.  I also want to work on becoming a better teacher by taking classes to further my education and make sure that I am the best I can be for my students.  In addition, I have set my sights on running my first marathon and I can't wait to start documenting that experience.  This new year is sure to be great and I can't wait to continue to share all my experiences here.

Finally, on a fun note, I am making a fabulous cocktail for tonights festivities.  Some friends are coming over for a potluck and I have decided to contribute stuffed shells (coming to you soon) and a Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail!

Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail
(adapted from Food & Wine)

1 quart pomegranate juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cups limeade
750 ml Prosecco
1 fresh orange, sliced
1 fresh lime, sliced

1.  Pour all wet ingredients into a large pitcher and stir to combine.  Stir in slices of the orange and lime.  Chill.
2.  Serve with ice and additional slices of orange and lime.

Enjoy :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Roasted Tomato Quinoa Risotto with Homemade Pesto

I have a big day ahead of me and I decided that a great way to start my big day would be with a nice blog post about an amazing dinner.  But first, let me tell you about my big day!  I have a lunch at Due's (the famous pizza place) downtown and then Bri and I are gonna enjoy a day of walking around Chicago.  FOr dinner, I am making reservations for us at Hutch, which sounds like an amazing place to have dinner.  After all that, we are getting ready for a big birthday bash out on the town for our friend, Justin.  I am very excited about all these plans and I can't wait to spend a great day with Bri!

I love being able to spend the morning writing this post, eating some breakfast, and going for a short run.  I have been doing a lot of catching up on sleep and working out since it is my winter break.  It has been wonderful!

I have also been catching up with my cooking (and blogging!).  This recipe was a great find.  Bri chose some potential dinner ideas, and this was a huge hit.  I love cooking risotto and this is just risotto with quinoa instead of arborio rice.  It is gluten free, healthy, and absolutely delicious.  Plus, you make a homemade pesto to go with it.  What can be better than that?  Sorry, I am a huge fan of homemade dips and spreads :)

Roasted Tomato Quinoa Risotto with Homemade Pesto
(adapted from Delicieux)

1 1/2 cups whole cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, paper on
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp butter
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1/3 cup white wine
salt and pepper
Basil Pesto:
1/2 cup basil leaves, packed
2 tbsp cashews
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 350, place the tomatoes and whole garlic on a baking tray and toss in olive oil.  Roast for 20 minutes.
2. While tomatoes are roasting, place basil, cashews, parmesan cheese and garlic cloves for pesto in a food processor.  Process until well crushed.  Slowly pour in some olive oil until pesto comes together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a pot, heat vegetable stock until simmering.
4. In another pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, about five minutes.  Take the garlic from the roasted tomatoes and squeeze the cloves from the paper.  Add them to the pot and crush them with a spoon.  Add the quinoa and cook for about 5 minutes.
5.  Add the white wine and cook until it is absorbed.  Add in 1/4 cup of vegetable stock at a time and cook until absorbed.  Continue this until quinoa is cooked all the way.  Add in the tomatoes and crush them so that juices are absorbed.  Serve topped with some pesto.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

PB Crave: Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

I have found the new perfect peanut butter.  Seriously, this stuff is amazing!  I was lucky to sample 4 different flavors of PB Crave and all of them were delicious!  Of course, being the chocoholic that I am, my favorites were their Cookie Nookie flavor and Choco Choco.

This peanut butter makes any recipe better! I made oatmeal peanut butter cookie cups, but I used Choco Choco flavor and it was amazing!  That hint of cocoa in the peanut butter cookie sent it way over the top.  The cookies were a hit and I fell in love with this peanut butter!  With the holidays ending, and the new year approaching, these cookies are a great way to celebrate or send some love to your friends and family!  When you are done with the cookies, you can then snack on that Cookie Nookie flavor with some pretzels, or my favorite, apple slices!  Head on over to PB Crave to check our all the amazing flavors and products!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy, Choco Choco PB Crave
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, salt, and cornstarch.
3. In another large bowl, beat butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.  Slowly, beat in the flour until just combined.
4.  Scoop cookie dough into a mini muffin pan so that each well is filled about 3/4 of the way up.  Place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies have risen and just start to brown.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I'm wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!  May you have a wonderful day filled with love from family and friends! As for me, I am very excited about a typical Jewish Deli-style brunch, Christmas dinner, and then a movie with my parents!  My family is half Jewish and Christian so why not make the day full of every tradition :)

Paper Snowflakes :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Black Forest Cake

Bri's birthday weekend was a lot of fun.  We spent Friday night together for dinner at Mary's Hamburgers and then rented Despicable Me 2 to watch afterwards.  It was a fun date-night!  On Saturday, we had dinner with his family at Caro Mio which was absolutely delicious and then had a fun night with friends.  And finally, the bday festivities continued on Sunday with dinner at Giordano's and then Black Forest Cake for dessert!

Bri loves the cherry-chocolate combination (not my favorite) and so it was the perfect dessert for his birthday.  Here's the thing though, although this is not my favorite, it was really good and so that is saying something.  It was a perfect cake and even looked pretty! Making desserts look attractive has never been my strong suit and I was really excited about how gorgeous this cake turned out.  This has been a great birthday celebration!

Black Forest Cake
(adapted from All Recipes)

For the Cake:
2 1/8 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla
For the Cherry Filling:
30 oz pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 and 1/8 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
For the Frosting:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease 2 9 inch cake pans
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat in the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Divide batter equally into the two pans and bake for 35 minutes.  Let cool completely.
3. To make the cherry filling, drain cherries and reserve 3/4 cup of cherry juice.  In a small saucepan, combine the cherry juice, cherries, cornstarch, and sugar.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.  Stir in vanilla.  Let cool.
4. To make the frosting, beat the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.
5. Assemble the cake: using floss or a long knife, cut each cake down the middle to form four skinny cakes.  Three layers are for the cake, one is for the crumb topping.  Place bottom layer on a plate and top with a layer of whipped cream.  Spoon about half the cherry mixture over the whipped cream.  Place second cake layer on top and then repeat with the whipped cream and the rest of the cherry mixture.  Leave out a few cherries for decorating and place final cake layer on top.  Cover the rest of the cake with the whipped cream frosting.  Use crumbs from the last cake layer to cover the sides of the cake.  Pipe frosting along the top and bottom.  Finally, decorate the top with more crumbs and remaining cherries.

Enjoy :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Brian! Homemade Walker Brothers Apple Pancake

Okay, I think I am going to return to blogging now that I made this recipe.  Bri's birthday was this past weekend and I went all out with his favorite breakfast and one of his favorite desserts.  Today is going to be all about the breakfast.

Walker Brothers Pancake House is a staple here in the Chicago-land area.  Growing up, this is where I met my girlfriends for breakfast on every late start of high school, is is where I drove to for the first time after getting my license when I turned 16 and it also happens to be where Bri likes to have brunch on his birthday!  Now that we live in the city, it is more difficult to make it all the way out for brunch, so I decided to bring brunch to us!  I got out my 12 inch cast iron skillet and made a GIANT apple pancake, Walker Brother's style.

I found the recipe online and then adapted it a bit to fit my skillet and my taste.  It turned out perfect!  Happy Birthday Bri :)

Homemade Walker Brothers Apple Pancake
(adapted from Tastebook)

4 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cloves
8 eggs
2 cups skim milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter

Happy Birthday!
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
3. In another large bowl, whisk the milk with the eggs.  Whisk in the flour until no more lumps remain and whisk in the vanilla.
4. In your skillet, melt the butter.  Add in the apple mixture and then pour the batter over the apples.  Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Place a pan on a shelf below your skillet to prevent anything from dripping onto the bottom of your oven.

Enjoy :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Roast Your Own Pumpkin Creme Brulee

I have been very busy with school and I am loving every minute of it.  This past week I started to teach triangle similarity and how to write proofs and it was fun to see the kids really getting it.  In fact, in honor of Halloween, I had a relay planned where students had to complete so many problems correctly in order to earn their halloween candy.  I think this is sort of ridiculous, but offering candy as a reward made those kids work harder than ever.  It was great to see them really working hard and really doing great work!  It was a fun halloween and a great way to celebrate the holiday with math!

Speaking of Halloween, I also roasted my own pumpkin for the first time!  I ended up with enough pumpkin puree from my pie pumpkin to make pumpkin creme brûlée and a pumpkin pie.  Then I also roasted the seeds to have as a snack!  Here is my recipe for pumpkin creme brûlée.  It was absolutely delicious.

Roast Your Own Pumpkin Creme Brulee
(adapted from Food Network)

1 pie pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a few pinches nutmeg
1 pinch cloves
1 pinch ginger
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup puree
extra sugar for the topping

1. To roast the pumpkin: cut the thing in half, take the seeds out, and place both halves face down on a baking sheet, cover in foil and place in the oven at 350 for 90 minutes.  When done and cool, scoop out the pumpkin and puree in the food processor.  Place in container and place in fridge until ready to use.

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
3. In a medium saucepan, place the cream, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  Place over medium heat until just simmering.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with the sugar.  Slowly incorporate the cream mixture and then whisk in the pumpkin.  Pour into ramekins and place ramekins into a 13 by 9 inch pan.  Fill the pan with water until about halfway up the ramekins.  Place in oven and let cook for about 40 minutes.  Mixture should wobble, but be firm around the sides.  Wrap each ramekin in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
5.  When ready to serve, take out the ramekins, sprinkle sugar over the tops and toast with a small kitchen torch.

Enjoy :)

Oh, and hear are a few gems from my little halloween celebration :).  Lauren and I were cereal box characters, Caryn was rocking the guess who costume, and Brian went with an old favorite: Batman!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Plated! Apricot Chicken with Almond Green Beans

I had a great opportunity recently.  I was able to try Plated for free! It is a fantastic organization where you can order meals online, they send you all the ingredients, and then you cook the dinner.  All the menus are created by different chefs and the menu options change weekly.  It is so fun to look through the yummy recipes! Plus, this was a great way for me to make a non-vegetarian meal.

Bri is a vegetarian and I love coming up with yummy dinner options, but sometimes I just really want a good piece of chicken or salmon.  Whenever we go out for dinner, I order something with meat because I know that it isn't something I get at home a lot. This has also helped me always have a variety of foods and I love that.  I ordered a great salmon dish and chicken dish from Plated.  Both were amazing, but my favorite was the chicken.  It was Apricot Chicken with Almond Green Beans.  This light and healthy meal came with enough food for two meals and so I was able to make myself dinner on a night where Bri was out with his mom and I had a ton of work to do and then I had another meal for lunch one day at school! It was such a great deal and I think you should all check out this fun site!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Oh hey there! It's only been three weeks since my last post.  I just can't find enough time to get everything that I want to do done!  Teaching is crazy since it is so hard and exhausting, but I am also loving it.  This is definitely the profession for me because while I feel tired and overwhelmed, I also feel happy.  However, it also means very little time for anything else!  I'm pretty sure Bri is starting to feel similarly since he just started law school.  I'm pretty sure we are in for a really tough year, but we are also doing what we have always wanted to and that makes it exciting!

I have been cooking (a girl's gotta eat) I just haven't had time to share it all!  I seriously have about 15 "drafts" with recipes that I made that are just waiting to become a post.  Well, here's one!  I am a huge fan of stuffed peppers because I think they are super yummy and you can make them in crock pot!  This recipe took some of my favorite flavors and turned it into a really yummy dinner that did not take that much time or work!  This is wonderful since I don't have much time! I just threw this together on morning and then we had amazing peppers for the week!  They stay well if you keep them in the fridge and they are quite delicious.

Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Peppers 
(adapted fro Avocado Pesto)

5 or 6 red peppers (good stuffing ones), tops removed and seeds taken out
1 cup quinoa
2 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. portabella mushrooms (sliced)
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
handful of fresh basil
1-2 tbsp dry white wine
salt and pepper
shredded cheese (your favorite, I used cheddar)

1. In a medium pot, warm 1 tbsb olive oil over medium heat.  Cook garlic until aromatic.  Add in quinoa and cook until toasted, about 2 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 cups of water and increase heat until boiling.  Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked.
2. In a pan, heat the rest of the oil over medium heat, add in sliced peppers and cook until translucent and soft.  Place in a bowl.  To the same pan, add the mushrooms and cook until soft and fragrant.  Place into the same bowl with the peppers.
3.  When the quinoa is done, add to the mushroom and pepper bowl.  Combine with the feta, basil, wine and salt and pepper.  Toss to combined.
4. In your crock pot, place the peppers.  Stuff the peppers with your quinoa mixture.  Top with the shredded cheddar and let cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Here I am again on a Sunday where I actually get a moment to breathe.  However, this Sunday has been particularly busy since I have so much to do!  I can't believe I've gotten so busy!  This coming week of school will actually be my first week with 5 days of teaching.  Sorta funny isn't it?  We started with a 3 day week, then there was Labor Day and that meant a 4 day week, and then we had a full week with assessment days so I really only taught 4 days.  This week, however, is totally normal.

I have a lot planned for this week and I spent the entire morning typing out my lesson plans, printing off exit tickets, and uploading warm ups and other activities to my school account.  I feel pretty prepared and that makes me feel good.  Also, I like planning an entire week at a time because it ensures that I know where the students are going during the week and where they should be by the end of the week.  This isn't to say that I'm not open to changing my lessons as I go along.  I am constantly adapting plans and changing them from class to class or day to day.  What works in one class may not work in another and that means I have to be flexible.  Lately, I have also been getting visitors in my classes.  My Division Chair has observed a few of my classes and this week the teacher in charge of the mentor program is coming to observe.  This added feedback makes me feel stressed out, but it is very helpful and I keep telling myself to stay calm and open minded.  I can't wait to see how everything goes!

The meal I have to share today was made a while ago, but it was super yummy and I just couldn't forget about it.  I was craving comfort food, Bri is a vegetarian, and I wanted to make something that would last a while.  So, I found this awesome recipe for a Vegetarian Pot Pie, I adapted it to be lightened up, and I made the Sweet Potato Biscuits to go on top.  It was a delicious casserole meal and it was jam packed with veggies!

Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits:
1 medium sweet potato
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup skim milk
Pot Pie:
1 1/2 lbs. brussel sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and cut in half
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 lb. pearl onions, blanced and peeled
1 heal cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
22 sage leaves
8 thyme sprigs
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cream
1 egg

1. Prepare the sweet potato biscuits: Microwave the sweet potato on high until it can be easily pierced with a fork.  Peel the potato and mash into a bowl.  Set aside.
2. Pour the vinegar into the bottom of a liquid measuring cup.  Fill with milk until you reach the 1 cup line.  Let sit for 5 minutes (this is a buttermilk substitute).  
3. In a food processor, process the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Continue to pulse as you add in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.  Add in the sweet potato and then slowly pour in the buttermilk until the mixture forms into a ball.
4.  Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until 1/2 inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to cut out 12 circles.  Re-roll the dough as needed. Set circles aside.

5. Prep all the veggies. To blanch the onions, let them boil in water for 3 minutes.  Drain and remove skins.
6. Preheat oven to 425.  Place cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and onions in a 13 by 9 inch pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add 6 sage leaves and 4 thyme sprigs.  Let roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, throw away sage/thyme and reduce the oven heat to 375.

7. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, onion, 6 sage leaves, and 2 thyme sprigs.  Let simmer, covered for 15 minutes.  Strain the milk into a bowl, discard the onion, sage, and thyme.
8. In the same saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add in the milk and continue to whisk until mixture thickens, 10-15 minutes.  Chop two sage leaves and the remaining two thyme sprigs.  Add the chopped sage, thyme, and cream to the milk mixture.  Season with nutmeg.  Pour over the veggies in the 13 by 9 inch pan.  Add in the frozen peas.

9.  Place the 12 un-cooked biscuits over the vegetable mixture.  Press 1 sage leaf into each biscuit.  In a small bowl, beat the egg and then brush a little over each biscuit.  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned and puffy.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Healthier Mac and Cheese

Well, I knew this blog thing was gonna be hard to keep up once school got started and I guess I was right.

I have now been teaching for a few weeks and I absolutely love it.  It is difficult work and I am always tired, but I love going to school and being in the classroom.  In the next few weeks, I have a lot of my observations starting and I am nervous, but also excited about getting feedback and having people in the classroom.  The beginning of the year is such a crucial time for everything and it has been a blast getting to know the students. Now, I am working really hard to establish a solid classroom routine and classroom culture.  Both of these are important to me as I feel it helps students be better students because they know the expectations and are not surprised by what they have to do.  My latest idea is a small reward for students who do all their homework well for a week.  If the whole class does their homework well for a week I have promised baked goods, but a lot of kids don't do homework so we will see if this happens.  I think kids should do their homework no matter what, but since it seems to be such a struggle I am going to try this system for a little.  I also had my first quizzes and tests on Friday and this assessment allowed me to see what we need to go over and work on moving forward.  Both assessments had a lot of review from last year on them and it was helpful to see what students know and what they forgot.

In other news, I am also LOVING living in the city.  I love my apartment and, although I haven't been blogging as much, I have been cooking a lot!  Bri typically picks out a vegetarian recipe that sounds good, we go grocery shopping on Saturday and then cook on Sunday.  While I do most the cooking, he gets to work cleaning the apartment and it is a wonderful system.  I love Sundays because I get to cook a bunch for the week and then I just lie around and work on school stuff or enter grades while catching up on TV.  There is nothing like a solid lazy Sunday.  One of the things I made on such a Sunday was this Healthier Mac and Cheese recipe.  It was a huge hit (Bri didn't even know it was "healthy") and I will definitely be making it again!

Healthier Mac and Cheese

12 oz whole wheat noodles
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
3/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt (I used Chobani), divided
1 cup skim milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp mustard powder
couple dashes of Frank's Hot Sauce
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Cook the pasta according to directions to al dente, drain and set aside.
2. In a small pan, saute the onions in a tbsp of olive oil until soft and translucent.  Set aside.
3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for two minutes.  While whisking, pour in the milk and 1/2 cup yogurt.  Continue to stir until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese, 1/4 cup of yogurt and seasonings.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour the pasta into your cheese sauce and stir to coat.  Place into an oven safe dish and top with the onions.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tomato Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tart

I just had my first day of new teacher training!  It was a really great day and it made me feel less overwhelmed about school starting.  I was able to meet my mentor and talk with her and another math teacher.  I had tons of questions and they probably think I'm slightly silly, but it was great to be able to ask those questions.  I also listened to some great advice about classroom management and the first day of school.  Both of these topics gave me some confidence in that I know about them and have a sense of what I believe and they made me nervous because I am going to need to adjust based on my classes!  I wish I could know my students, but I know that will come soon enough.  We also took a tour in a school bus of the entire district and I was amazed at how much land is encompassed!  Finally, I got my school ID!  I am officially official!  I still have two more days of training and I am just grateful to have so much time in the school and around more of the teachers.

Today I have a yummy vegetarian recipe that I made the other day to use up some fresh veggies!  I saw this tart recipe on Recipe Girl and adapted it slightly based on my taste.  The dough is almost exact and it was great.  The veggies and cheese are what I was in the mood for!

Tomato Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tart

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
For the Filling:
1/2 onion, cut into thin strips
8 oz herbed goat cheese
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 squash, sliced
1 large tomato, sliced
fresh basil
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. In a food processor, process the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar.  Continue to process as you add in the butter.  Slowly pour in the buttermilk and continue to process until dough forms into a ball.
2. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out the ball of dough until you have a round piece about 11 inches in diameter.  Carefully, place the rolled out dough into your tart pan and trim the sides.
3. Preheat oven to 350
4. Placed sliced onion into a pan with olive oil and sautee until onions become translucent and soften.  Sprinkle onions on the tart.
5.  Crumble the goat cheese over the onions and then top with sliced zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and top with fresh basil.
6. Place in oven and let bake for 45 minutes.  Cheese will be melted and crust will become slightly browned

Enjoy :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Mommy! Oreo Coffee Ice Cream Cake!

It is about time that I got back here!

I have been really busy getting ready for school and moving to the city!  It has been a crazy and exciting time and I have so much to share.

For school, I have been working on my web page, planning the first day, and thinking about my classroom management plan.  I have gone in a few times to set up my desk and binders and get acquainted with the staff.  I got my own key and had some meetings about benefits.  I must admit, I still feel like I have no idea what is going on, but I am excited.  Next week, new teacher training starts and I can't wait to meet some of the other new teachers and become more prepared for the start of the year!

I have been exploring restaurants like crazy now that I am in a new place and it has been great.  Some of our favorites so far have been Glen's Diner and Margie's Candies.  We have been eating out quite a bit since we want to explore, but I have also been cooking in my new kitchen and I can't wait to share some of my creations.

Today, I have to share my latest dessert creation in honor of my Mommy.  Yesterday was her birthday and we had an awesome night out in the city.  We started out at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building.  The view was incredible.

We had appetizers and drinks and it was lovely.

Next, we headed back to our apartment for dinner across the street at Caro Mio.  This Italian restaurant is known for its HUGE portions.  Also, it is a BYOB so that was fun.  Our dinner was fantastic.  My mom got salmon, dad got bolognese, Bri got eggplant parmesan, I got pasta primavera, and Zack got the crowd favorite: Gnocchi.

Finally, we headed back to the apartment for dessert.  Now, this is where I get excited since I made a dessert that had my mom's name written all over it.  I was inspired by a recipe over at BruCrew for Oreo Fudge Cappuccino Ice Cream.  My mom loves coffee ice cream and oreos! So, I decided to make an Oreo Coffee Ice Cream Cake!  I made coffee ice cream, layered it with crushed oreos and topped it all off with a ganache frosting.  It was delicious!

Oreo Coffee Ice Cream Cake

Coffee Ice Cream:
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp instant coffee
about 24 crushed oreos
Ganache Frosting:
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a large bowl, beat cream, condensed milk, and coffee until combined.
2. Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to directions.
3. Place half the crushed oreos on the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
4. When ice cream is done, pour half over the oreos and spread it out to cover the oreos.  Then, place the other half of the crushed oreos over the ice cream and pour the rest of the ice cream on top.  Place in freezer to harden.
5. Meanwhile, make the frosting.  Heat up the cream in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or until just about to boil.  Pour over the chocolate chips in a separate bowl and stir until chocolate is melted and combined.  Next, pour in vanilla and beat with the mixer until ganache starts to form soft peaks.  Pour over your ice cream cake and place back in freezer until ready to serve.  To serve, just push the springform pan out and cut into slices.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Move

I moved!

This past weekend Bri and I moved into our very first apartment and we couldn't be more excited.

Well, to be honest.  It was crazy stressful and we were a tad bit strained.  However, now that we are sorta settled, we are pumped.  We love the place and we finally finished building all our furniture and making it look like home!  It has been so fun and exciting and I'm sorry that I have been so MIA.  We didn't have internet until yesterday afternoon and this is the first time I have been able to blog!

I have not really been cooking because it has been so crazy around here.  I have been trying out a bunch of different restaurants in the area!  My bestie Caryn and her boyfriend Max are staying with us right now and we had a great night last night.  We explored the area and had dinner at Fountainhead and dessert at Yogurt Square.  I had an amazing veggie burger and then indulged in some delish frozen yogurt.  Both places were delightful.  The night before, Caryn, Bri and I all went to a place called Mxtico and had amazing Mexican food.  I got the fish tacos and it was fantastic.

Overall, everything seems awesome around here.  I went for a run for the first time in Chicago and explored a little more.  I found a new lakeshore to run on!  I also experienced my first commute as I went out to Zion for the first time to see my new school and meet some of the people.  I will be doing that again 6 more times for new teacher training and geometry meetings.  I am excited to get acquainted with everything and I am also very nervous.

More news coming to you soon as I try out my new kitchen!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

How did it become August?!?!?

I finally was able to submit all of my teacher certification stuff for Illinois, I received my new teacher training schedule, and I'm moving tomorrow!

It's also the last day of camp and I can't believe it.  Time has just been flying by and camp has been so much fun.  I absolutely love my campers and counselors and I have a great time at camp.  I will miss it all so much.

Today I have a great dinner idea for you!  My mom and I went to Whole Foods and bought some Mahi Mahi Fish Taco Filling from the fish counter.  Then, we made our own Mango Salsa and sliced up some avocado to top it all off.  It was a really yummy dinner and the mango salsa was a great idea to add to the tacos to spice them up a little!

Mango Salsa

1 mango, cut into cubes
1 jalapeño, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp fresh cilantro

1. Mix everything together and toss with the cilantro.

This would be a great little side dish to have as a fresh salad and I would also add it to regular salsa to make it more exciting.  If you want more spice, add the seeds of the jalapeño and if you want less spice, leave them out or put less jalapeño in.