Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Italian Sweet & Sour Chicken

When you move, you try to use up all of your ingredients.  It's no fun to try and move bottles and bottles of oils, vinegars and sauces.  In the last few weeks in your old house, your meals are planned around whatever you have sitting in the cupboard, and frozen in the freezer.  The bottles are emptied as you make salads with champagne vinaigrette, Chicken breast with balsamic glaze and soy sauced vegetables.

When you arrive in your new home, you have to start from scratch.  Collect your oils and vinegars all over again.  And sometimes you plan your meals around items that you think you own, but in fact, do not.  Like when I was trying to make this sweet and sour chicken.  I was in need of a simple red wine vinegar.  While making the grocery list I thought to myself "Of course I have red wine vinegar, I didn't use it all before I left New Haven."  Wouldn't you know, Tuesday night came around and I was without red wine vinegar. 

I did however have a bottle of balsamic vinegar!  So we went in a different direction with the flavors in this dish, more italian, less asian.  It worked out so well, because I recieved a box goodies from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program!  Inside the box were these delicious items...

Look, risotto!  That will work perfectly with my italian sweet and sour chicken!  And it was perfect.  While it's not going to equal spending a half hour at the stove, Bird's Eye did a pretty good job!  The mushroom risotto was what I decided to pair with our chicken dinner.  (Boyfriend ate the rest of the items while I was out of town this weekend!  He said they were good and that the risotto was his dinner one night!)  Apparently they are coming to stores in September, aka, tomorrow!

Pasta a la Boyfriend

I made it home from Buffalo very early yesterday morning.  My day went as follows...

3:00 am - Wake up and take a shower

3:30 am - Wake up parents and take puppies outside (romp romp romp, bite bite bite!)

3:45 am - Head to the airport (Ooo, it's dark out.  Hey, the bars aren't even closed yet.)

4:15 am - Welcome to the Buffalo Niagara Airport!  (It's pretty quiet here, oh, I'm on the first flight out of the airport)

5:23 am - Yes, that's what it said on my ticket, 5:23 am - Take-off in the Dash-8 (Ugh, hate the Dash-8)

6:55 am - Welcome home!  Kinda, welcome to LaGuardia airport!

7:10 am - Figure out how to get to Jamaica Station...  How about a bus?

7:35 am - Well that worked, now I'll hop this subway and get to Jamaica.

7:55 am - Phew, made it to Jamaica!  Ooo, I can catch my regular train to work!  Score!

8:45 am - 5:00 pm - Chemistry chemistry chemistry

5:00 pm - Heading home (So tired....  Fall asleep on the train...)

6:30 pm - Home!  Ooo, boyfriend is making dinner!  It looks delicious (It was).  He is even using all of my Foodbuzz Tastemaker goodies! 

So, not only did he manage to make a delicious meal, he completed some work that I needed to get done! 

As a member of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was lucky enough to receive samples of Crisco's new Olive oils!  I was super excited when I received not one, but three different bottles!  For dinner last night, boyfriend used the traditional olive oil, I have big plans for the Extra Virgin (can anyone say Salad dressings?!!?). 

For someone who doesn't really cook (other than mac'n'cheese and cheesey chicken nibblers), he liked the Crisco olive oil, especially the lid.  It has a different  pour spout than I've seen in any other olive oil.  It allowed it to slowly come out of the bottle, without having to wait forever.  The flavor was light and was great to cook up the mini meatballs!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ganduja & Caramel Candy Bars

Welcome to a new week everyone!  I hope that everyone is safe and sound from this weekends East Coast hurricane.  I am currently still in Buffalo, since my return flight to New York was cancelled yesterday.  That's okay though, it means I get to spend an extra day with my family and the puppies.  The crazy, lunatic puppies. 

They are currently running around the kitchen with me.  Busy romping around, playing with toys and biting each other.  Generally with one puppy you get used to keeping all of your precious things a few feet off of the ground.  This keeps them from geting little teeth marks all over them.  With two puppies, you have to keep up with the nibbling on things and a constant puppy fight.

These puppies are totally spoiled, with more toys than I had when I was little.  There are even doubles of all the toys, so that they can each have their own.  The problem?  You guessed it.  One puppy wants what the other one has.  They will even taunt each other with toys.  One puppy walking up to the other an waving her toy around until the second puppy leaps at it.  Then it's an all-out puppy war over the toy, then the toy is forgotten and they just bite each other.  Puppy war!

According to the vet, they're just like little kids.  Unless one of them comes to you bleeding, they're just fine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chocolate Taffy

Imagine my delight when I read this months Daring Baker's challenge.  Well, just read the blog checking lines...

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Candy? Seriously? I was so excited, because it was like an extension of what I've been doing all year long! I've made so much candy this year (really, have a look under "Candy Challenge 2011" for all of my previous treats!) that I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to make for this challenge. I decided it was finally time to try again with the chocolate taffy. I also thought I would finally make a real candy bar, layers and all.

Today, I'm plying you with the chocolate taffy.  I tried to make this earlier in the year and neglected to read the part about "constantly stirring" the candy mixture.  This candy, unlike most of the others that I've made, requires constant stirring.  With most candies, you don't want to stir them while they are coming to temperature because this might cause crystallization.  This candy will burn if left to self-stir.  Get your arm muscles ready, you'll be stirring for quite some time!

Have fun stretching and pulling the taffy!  Just be sure to cut lots and lots of pieces of wax paper, this recipe makes about 100 pieces of taffy.  The flavor is something of a more chocolatey and rich Tootsie roll, delicious.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nectarine Melba Crumble

Okay, I gave in. I signed up for my companies annual flu shot day. I didn't want to do it, but I think that I have no choice. I mostly didn't want to get the shot because I really hate getting shots.

I'm like a toddler when it comes to needles. I use needles and syringes on a daily basis at the lab, to measure out liquids and inject them into my reactions. They never come in contact with me and I freak out when I think I've poked through my glove with one (mostly because I don't work with the most friendly of chemicals). The flu shot comes in a needle and this is why I avoid getting them.

There are two reasons why I have decided that this is the year I get a flu shot. I spent the last seven years working in an academic lab. This meant seeing the same five people day in and day out. I was rarely in contact with anyone from the outside world. I lived in a safe, little, germ-free lab. Suffice it to say, my immune system is low from not being exposed to lots of worldly germs.

The second reason that I need a flu shot is simple. I am a commuter now and there seem to be lots of sick people on the train. Every mornin an night, there are people coughing and sneezing, looking all miserable and sick. Aside from not touching anything on the train, I think the flu shot is a good line of defense against sickness this winter.

The posters around the office, telling me to SIGN UP! are making me feel like I really should. Does this mean that summer is over? Sad day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ginger Chicken with Snow Peas

Living with a boy seems to mean eating a lot of carbohydrates. This is one thing that I have learned in the first two months of living with boyfriend. Pasta is a totally acceptable meal for every day of the week. But as I've said before, I'd like to continue to fit into my pants, so I'm working on some pasta-free meals.

So, I can't find my camera...  Enjoy some puppy pictures instead!
While boyfriend was out of town last week, I spent the week making tasty pastaless meals. I think this works well for me as a meal, but boyfriend would be wondering where the rest of the food was. That must be the thing, boys have bigger stomachs and need all those carbs to fill them up.

If you need a little something more to eat with this meal I would suggest cooking up a batch of brown rice, should keep you full and happy. It might even keep those male members of your household away from the cookies for the evening as well.

My mom has been taking some pretty awesome pictures of my little, puppy, sisters!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peaches and Cream Popsicles

I had major plans this weekend to make you lots of candy.  Then what happened?  It poured down rain all day Sunday.  And I'm not just talking a little rain, or a light drizzle all day.  I'm talking torrential downpours broken up by constant, driving rain.  High humidity is no time to be tempering chocolate and trying to pull taffy, so it will have to wait until next weekend.

What I did, instead of making candy, is make popsicles!  If you hadn't noticed, popsicles are the new cupcake, at least for summer.  I can't imagine this popsicle trend lasting through winter, maybe in the Souther hemisphere?  Why not join the trend, and cool off a little, in the hot, last weeks of summer.

Please excuse the photograph, I had to run this morning!  I'll fix it later!

Update: my train is ten minutes late, I totally had time to give you a better picture! Nuts... Oh well, have a great Wednesday everyone!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Salad

I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend.  I spent this weekend all on my own, for the first time since I moved to New Jersey.  Since I moved in with boyfriend!  He's away this week, spending time with his parents then off to a meeting in Florida.  I was invited along, but being a newbie at my job, I haven't got access to my vacation time until I hit the 90-day mark.  So, here I am, chilling out in New Jersey on my own.

What did I do this weekend?  Terribly boring things!  Saturday I spent the afternoon in New York City, shopping.  Now that might sound exciting, but I had a shopping list full of boring items.  I was on the hunt for new t-shirts, tank tops and underwear!  Underwear shopping might be exciting for us girls, but I think boys care very little about the actual purchase of these things.  Same thing with my trip to the Gap to buy black and white t-shirts.  Saturday night was spent watching HGTV and eating a huge Panera salad.

Sunday I had big plans to make lots of candy for Candy Challenge 2011.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for me.  The torrential rain that poured down all day Sunday was not the best weather to boil sugar, make toffee and temper chocolate.  Instead, I wandered around my new town, stopped by the library and watched a movie at our local theater.

Boyfriend doesn't come back home until Thursday, which means I can take up the whole bed, sleep with the windows open and turn on all the lights when I wake up.  Generally I try to be more courteous, since I wake up at 5:30 in the morning.  This week I can do whatever I want!  Sadly though, there is no one here to taste test my food or bring me drinks when I'm too lazy to get off the couch.  Who will do the dishes when I make a mess in the kitchen?  Come home boyfriend, I miss you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Orange Cinnamon Bread

While I may be the queen of trains, they don't always like to obey my commands.  This is unfortunate, because I have to rely on two different train systems to get to and from work.  Back in March, boyfriend moved to a great little apartment in New Jersey.  He had transferred to the New York office of his company and thereby moved closer to me (while I was still in Connecticut).  In May, I received the offer for my dream job on Long Island and, as you know, I jumped at it.

So, now I travel from New Jersey to Long Island everyday.  I am subject to the trials and tribulations of both the New Jersey transit and the Long Island Railroad and the two systems do not like to cooperate with each other.  Inevitably one train will be late, and the other will be right on time.  This is a problem and I'm the girl you see, running through Penn station, mowing down little old ladies with big suitcases.  I had to hurdle over a toddler once.

Okay, I'm not really jumping over children and knocking down grannies.  But I am that blur you see out of the corner of your eye.  Why do my trains always come in on the furthest apart platforms?  LIRR - platform 21, NJT - platform 1, blurg!

In the past three weeks there have been three different problems.  1. "Police situation" held up my LIRR train for an hour, then it rained on me.  2. Lightning struck some important train equipment, keeping all LIRR trains from entering New York city.  3. A derailed train in Penn station caused all NJT trains hours of delays and rerouted trains.  And I've only been commuting via train for a month, I can't wait to see what the future of train travel brings me! 

I will tell you this, I know all the ins and outs of Penn station, like which bathrooms are generally the cleanest.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vegetable Risotto

Growing up in Western New York, I got used to driving everywhere for everything.  My parents home is in the middle of no where (i.e. two miles from the grocery store and five miles from the mall).  I would have to ask for a ride to go anywhere, even school was a really long walk.  I took the walk only a few times, on the last day of school.  I love to walk, bike and occasionally rollerblade places.  (I was a much better rollerblader in my high school days).  Hometown, western New York is not a walkable place.

When I moved to New Haven last year, I was so excited that I could walk to work.  My apartment was right downtown and just under a mile from my lab, I could make the walk in just under twenty minutes.  It was rare that I would drive to work, I even walked in when there was a quarter-inch of ice on the ground.  I soon realized that it had been a few weeks since I had driven my car.

My beautiful, gold, Toyota Matrix.  It was the first car that I bought all on my own.  Granted I had just gotten it two years earlier, but it was a big deal (and an awesome car).  I was sad that I had been neglecting my pretty little Goldie, but you save so much money on gas when you don't drive your car!  When it came time to transfer my insurance over to Connecticut I decided it was time to give Goldie away/return her to the dealership.  On March 18th I dropped Goldie off with a nice man at Toyota, he said he would wash her (something I only ever did once) and find her a new family.

I'm now a commuter, or professional train rider, as I like to call myself.  I miss my little Goldie car, but now I can walk everywhere that I want to go.  And I'm saving major dollars a month, insurance in the Northeast is expensive!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Orange Vinaigrette Salad

So I've been meaning to tell you all about my new job.  Well, it has been a learning experience, to say the least.  I know, that might sound like a strange thing to say, especially as someone who just spent the last eleven years as a student.  Don't worry, this all can be explained.

While I was interviewing, I had to make the decision between working in process chemistry and medicinal chemistry.  There is one major difference between the two job, biology.  As a process chemist, you spend your day doing chemistry.  You're trying to make something in a faster, better, cheaper manner than it has been made before.  You need to know a lot about chemistry and how to be extremely efficient.  While I love chemistry, I thought that I would like to work in medicinal chemistry and keep learning.

As a medicinal chemist, you spend your day doing some chemistry, but also thinking a lot about biology.  Medicinal chemists are working very early in the drug discovery pipeline, trying to design the new drugs.  They have to look at proteins and amino acids, think about cell permeability and toxicity, and these are all things that are new to me. 

A synthetic chemist, right out of academia, doesn't know much about these things.  I took biochemistry in 2001 and haven't looked at an amino acid since then.  I was thrown in, head first, into the deep end of medicinal chemistry.  I've been reading tons of papers and books to try and acclimate myself to this new field.  Let me tell you, there are A LOT of acronyms!  I've got a lot to learn, but it's just what I wanted.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gorgonzola Pasta

Hey everyone, I hope that you had a great week!  I can't believe that it's already August!  This last month has brought a lot of change and I'm starting to settle into my new routine.  I've been working at my new job for a month now and I'm loving it.  It's totally different from graduate school and my postdoctoral position, but in many great ways.  I'll tell you more about that next week!

You also know that I've moved in with boyfriend and that I've been getting used to living with a boy (eeewww!  Boys!) and learning his finicky palate.  Boys and girls definitely have different likes and dislikes when it comes to food!  I'm working on finding that happy medium between our two menus.  The main issue being that boyfriend loves all things pasta and I love fitting into my pants.

Another big change happened last week with this loss of our family dog, Zoe.  I realize that this was a bigger change for my parents, who lived with Zoe, but she was still my buddy.  But if you scroll down, you'll notice some pretty little ladies.  I want you to meet Bella and Izzie! 

They joined the Wilde parent household this week to try and fill that big hole left behind from Zoe.  According to my parents, they are crazy.  All I know is that they are super adorable and I want to go home and play with them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Raspberry Truffles

I want to thank everyone for their kind words and sharing some of their own memories of their furry friends.  Our furry best buddies really bring us lots of love and great times.  While Zoe isn't around anymore, at least I have years of wonderful memories. 

As a little bit of a distraction, I made us all some candy.  This week I decided to keep it simple, no boiling sugar, no pulling taffy and no whipping anything.  It's a good old melt and scoop kind of recipe.  Oh, and it's delicious.  Definitely something you can use to distract yourself.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Turkey Burgers and Cucumber Salad

Sometimes, a friend is in your life for just a short time, but they leave a lasting impact.  Your day is brightened a little each day when you see them.  Their day is made when they see you.  You've been in their life for as long as they can remember and you are each others best friend.  You both go on long walks together and confide secrets to each other.  You go on vacation with each other and sit by campfires late at night.  You spend the hot summer weekends outside, digging in the dirt, hanging by the pool and tossing around the frisbee.  And sometimes, your best friend is red and furry.

In the winter of 2001, my parents and I went out on a road trip through Central New York searching for a puppy.  We spent the day playing with little fluffy balls of adorable.  Imagine sitting in a room full of golden retriever puppies, it's crazy cute.  When my mom picked up one particular golden fluff-ball, it cuddled right in.  We took her home and named her Zoe.

Zoe found her place in our home right away.  She stole cookies off of the coffee table.  She sprawled out on the couch and made it all furry.  She looked adorable all day long and we loved her from the minute she got home.  However, for the most part, she was my parents dog.

I was spending most of my time studying organic chemistry in the library and then I headed off to Wisconsin to grad school.  Zoe spent all her time with her mom and dad, she was their buddy, their little shadow.  When I came home to visit, she would be happy to see me, but would quickly lose interest if my parents were doing anything mildly interesting.

Zoe left our lives this Saturday, far too soon.  The house on the hill is a lot emptier now, it's missing its little bit of sunshine.  Zoe was a great dog and she brightened our lives for the ten years that she was with us.  I will miss her very much, but I know two people who will miss her even more.  I'm sending lots of love over to Buffalo, to Zoe's two favorite people, her mom and dad.

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