Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summertime Salad

One of my favorite thing to to during the summer is to make vegetable slaws. I'll put together the ingredients on Sunday and toss the dressing with the veggies when I'm ready to eat. This brocolli slaw is my absolute favorite thing to make in the summer.

Normally, I hate raw broccoli. It just tastes dry and boring to me. When mixed with slivered almonds and dried cranberries, broccoli becomes so much more delicious. This is the only reason I ever have mayonnaise in my house.

If you are heading to a pot luck picnic, having a quiet dinner at home, or want something to eat at midnight, make this recipe. It barely takes any time at all to prepare and lasts for at least five days in the fridge. Well, it will last for five days, but I doubt it will stick around that long. I've been known to eat a big bowl of this stuff for lunch.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Panera

Restaurant Wars 2013 continues today with Panera!  The Boyfriend and I actually live within walking distance to the town Panera, which means we eat there at least once a week.  Usually in the winter, we eat there almost exclusively.  Mostly because it gets cold here in the winter and it's the closest restaurant to our apartment.  Seriously, it's better to walk there than it is to get in a cold car and drive anywhere else.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Asian Chicken Salad

Hello everyone!  I'm back from vacation and recovered, I think.  I know, it sounds strange to be "recovered from vacation" but it's totally the truth.  Whenever Boyfriend and I come back from vacation, I feel like I need another few days off just to recuperate!  The reason is - we aren't you traditional vacation-type people.

Most people look forwards to vacation because it involves an umbrella drink (or five), a beach umbrella and some new paperbacks.  I could handle doing that too, for about two hours.  Then I want to get up and DO SOMETHING!  I either have restless leg disorder (is that still a thing??) or Adult ADHD, because I don't want to just sit around on vacation and relax.  Ask anyone, I'm not really the relaxing type.

Our trip to Morocco was anything but relaxing.  In ten days we managed to jam in all of the following...  A day in Oukaimeden rock climbing, two days in Zagora riding camels, a three-day trip to the beach for surfing lessons.  We toured the medinas of Marrakech and Casablanca and traveled on the highways, rails and tramlines of Morocco.  We ate tagines and couscous by the pound and enjoyed liters of mint tea.

Thankfully we had a direct flight home from Casablanca, I don't think I could have mustered up the energy to get on another plane after seven and a half hours sitting in coach.  Once we got home, all I wanted to eat was a big salad.  And I've been making lots of them since I managed the necessary energy to head to the grocery store!

Maybe our next vacation will be a quiet, relaxing, beach vacation...  More likely I'll plan something like that and BF will find a volcano to hike up and coral reefs to scuba dive through.

Be on the lookout over the next two weeks for Moroccan dishes and photos from our vacation!  I picked up a few tips from the locals and a beautiful Moroccan cookbook of my own.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Olive Garden

The biggest problem with going to Olive Garden? Getting a table. It seems no matter what day of the week you go, you will be waiting for a table unless you arrive at three o'clock for dinner. Yet for some reason, people are willing to wait over an hour for soup, salad and bread sticks. Well wait no more, make it all at home.

In order to test out the OG, boyfriend and I ventured out to dinner on a very specific night. February 13th. This year February 13th was both the day before Valentine's day and Ash Wednesday. When we arrived at 7:30, we were escorted right to a waiting booth. That's a first in my book.

The person who really likes OG in my house is BF. He calls it classic Italian comfort food. What you would want your bowl of carbonara to look and taste like. The dishes are all simple, straightforward and require no fancy words to describe. It's not the food your Italian grandmother would prepare, unless she was cooking for two dozen. 

To keep with that classic OG menu, BF and I both got simple dishes. BF went with a chicken Parmesan and I decided on a chicken and shrimp carbonara. Both meals came with the traditional OG soup/salad and bread sticks, and I ordered a cherry Italian soda to round out my meal.

First, do not order the cherry Italian soda unless you have a real love of children's cough syrup. It was dead on in flavor and probably had twice the amount of sugar. I took a sip and ordered a water as replacement.

Next, the general rule with the bread sticks is a follows - eat them before they get cold or prepare to sword fight with them. Once these little gems cool off, they take on a other worldly strength. I had ideas on how to avoid this issue at home.

Our meals were just as expected. BF dove into his chicken Parmesan whole heartily, until he realized he ate too many bread sticks and couldn't eat anymore. My carbonara came out looking creamy and delicious, and incredibly oily. I found out the next day as I had my leftovers just how much oil was in my dish. I love carbonara and this was good, it's just not something I could eat on a regular basis.

The plan for home. Recreate the OG experience from bread sticks to salad to main course. Lighten the fat load and try to maintain the flavors. 

Olive Garden salad at home is pretty easy.  The salad itself is just lettuce, pepperoncini, black olives, red onions and croutons.  Black olives are gross, so I omitted those.  It's pretty true to when I go to the restaurant.  The dressing has quite a few copycat recipes online that I based my final recipe on and apparently those are very similar to the actual OG recipe (I couldn't believe that they actually use mayonnaise in their recipe).  Where I took a big left turn is with my carbonara recipe.

Want easy and delicious bread sticks?  You need two ingredients.  Pizza dough and garlic salt.  I used a pre-made pizza dough from the grocery store and cut in into eight pieces.  I rolled each piece into a bread stick-like shape and spritzed them with cooking spray.  After a light sprinkle with garlic salt and eighteen minutes in the oven, we had bread sticks that didn't harden up in two minutes.  A little denser than the OG variety, but BF and I both liked the pizza dough sticks better.

The OG carbonara dish I received was covered in cheese and dripping in oil.  I made a simple and classic carbonara with grilled chicken.  BF was a little sad that my version wasn't under a layer of cheese, but it was something I could actually have before going to the gym.  After our dinner at the OG, we went home and melted into the couch.

Next time you want some Olive Garden and don't want to wait for a table, just pick up a few ingredients and make it at home!  Or you could sit in the bar area, they serve the full menu at the bar and the wait is usually much shorter!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Restaurant Wars - Chipotle

I first stepped foot into a Chipotle restaurant over ten years ago in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. I was a first year grad student and had enough of my friend Bhavesh tell me how many burritos he'd eaten that week. I had to try it out for myself. There was only one problem, I'd never had a burrito quite like this before.

In Western New York we grew up eating Mighty taco. There were few other options when it came to quick tacos. Their menu consisted of soft and hard tacos, filled with beef, cheese, sour cream and "Mighty sauce." Whatever that was.

During my college years, at UB in WNY, a burrito place opened up boasting burritos the size of your head. Being of the female persuasion, that didn't really appeal to me. My guy friends were happy to go there and eat six pounds of runny beans, poorly cooked meat and scorched cheese but I begged off and stayed home those nights.

With grad school came a broadening of my palate and the introduction of healthy burrito options. Bhavesh dragged us all to Chipotle, where he really did eat five burritos a week, and introduced us to what would become a weekly treat. Sometimes twice weekly when we had late exams and only time for one meal.

Chipotle has really spread across the country since my first visit back in 2003. Even Amherst, NY now boasts a location and they're always the last to get anything good! I have gone from solely eating soft tacos, to only getting the spiciest fajita burrito. After the advent of the online calorie counter my order swiftly switched to the chicken salad and these days I'll go back and forth between a salad and a bowl. I'm sure your own ordering process has changed through the years too.

I was more than happy to have Chipotle as the first restaurant on my war list. bf and I go there a few times a month and my coworkers regularly visit for lunch. I could definitely go for a burrito bowl or salad without the long drive! I decided to try and recreate my two go-to dishes for this challenge. Here's the verdict.

First, it took forever to prepare everything that I needed to make these two dishes. I made three salsas, salad dressing, chicken marinade. I prepped and chopped lettuce, tomatoes, untold numbers of jalapeƱo pepper and squeezed more limes than I can count. I actually ran out of limes and had to go back to the store for more. I really could have used a staff to help me prep everything. I planned on making this meal for dinner Monday, so I spent two hours on sunday afternoon doing all the prep work.

Next, dinner came together really quickly Monday night, though I nearly drove us out of our apartment. The marinade for the chicken smelled wonderful, but when the chicken came in contact with the grill pan - it was like I set off a pepper bomb. BF and I were both coughing because of the spiciness in air. Maybe grill your chicken outside, or you'll this the police have sent the seat team to your house.

Lastly, adobo seasoning is not the same as adobo sauce. I looked everywhere for a jar of adobo seasoning. I knew it existed because my grocery list app had it programmed into its memory. However, after six different grocery stores I had to give up. Maybe I need to locate a well stocked Hispanic grocery in my area? I wound up buying a jar or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and fishing out he sauce I needed.

You can totally cheat on the prep work and buy your favorite mild salsa or salsa verde. I even shredded my own cheese mixture, which you could skip and buy a pre-shredded Mexican-style cheese blend. For the Chipotle flavor though, you can't skip marinating your chicken, making your own fresh corn salsa, tossing your rice with lime juice and blending up a batch of their salad dressing. At least make the salad dressing, after a bit of tweaking of some other recipes I found - it's almost like being there.

One year ago: Chocolate-Peppermint Marshmallows
Two years ago: Homemade Butterfinger Bars

Chipotle recipes - These have all been adapted from so many different "Copy-cat" recipes online. I changed them all a little to try and get as close as possible to the real thing. Be sure to go out and get yourself a bottle of green Tabasco sauce too, because it isn't complete without a dash of heat!

Salsa verde

4 tomatillos, husks removed
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic
2 Cubanelle peppers
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Juice from 1/2 lime

Turn on your oven broiler.  Place tomatillos, onion quarters, garlic cloves and peppers 4-5 inches below the broiler.  Broil for 5 minutes, turn the vegetable over and broil for another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Peel the charred skin from the peppers, chop in half and remove the seeds.  Combine all of the ingredients except the salt in a food processor or blender.  Pulse to combine, leave the salsa a little chunky.  Give the salsa a taste, season with salt if you desire.  Transfer to an air-tight jar and keep in the fridge.

Mild tomato salsa

4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.  Transfer to an air-tight jar and store in the fridge.
Cheese blend

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
8 ounces Mild white cheddar cheese
Place cheese blocks in the freezer for 10-20 minutes.  This will make it easier to shred.  Shred and combine both cheeses.  So simple!

Chipotle brown rice

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
Juice from 1 lime
Juice for 1/2 lime
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Pour 1 cup brown rice into 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to low.  Let simmer for 40 minutes.  Once the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, add citrus juice and cilantro.  Toss to combine.
Fresh Corn salsa

2 cups corn kernals (fresh or frozen)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced small
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients and transfer to an air-tight container.  Store in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.

Chipotle Chicken marinade

1 ounce dried ancho chilies
3 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 red onion, quartered
1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
4 chicken breasts

Add boiling water to dried ancho chilies and let hydrate for 2 hours or up to overnight.

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and transfer to a large bowl.  Poke chicken breasts with a fork and pierce all over.  Add chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight.

When ready to cook.  Remove chicken from the marinade and shake off excess bits of pepper.  Grill in a well-ventilated area!

Honey-Chipotle salad dressing

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Combine first six ingredients in a blender.  Pulse to combine.  With blender running, slowly stream in olive oil.  Serve over any salad for a tangy and sweet take on your usual salad.
Yum, delicious.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Simple Arugula Salad

It's officially summer in my book!  While Memorial day is the "unofficial start of summer," June 20th is the official start of the summer season, I consider July 4th to be the real beginning of summer.  Why?  The weather has turned hot.  Weekends are filled with fun events.  The sun sits high in the sky during the day and sticks around until late at night.  Fourth of July was also always a great day as a kid.  School was out, there were fireworks and summer was on!

Most of the country has been in a heat wave, with several consecutive days with temperatures reaching over the hundred degree mark.  Here in the New York Metro area, we've been lucky enough to avoid triple digit temps, but it's still been a warm few weeks!  Personally, it makes me very happy. 

I love it hot!  Hot weather means I get to spend the weekends in cute, summery dresses.  Ninety-degree temps send boyfriend and I outside and up into the hills of New Jersey.  The high sun, coupled with some SPF50, has me sporting a tan, something that I haven't done since I started grad school nine years ago. 

Of course, the high temps mean that I have to take a few showers each day and that we've been doing a lot of laundry.  It also means that I've been avoiding my oven and making lots of salads.  Feeling the heat too?  Head to the farmers market and stock up!

What day do you consider the beginning of summer?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Island Sides

The past few days have been feeling more Caribbean-like up here in the northeast. I stepped off the train this morning and was greeted by a hot, humid gust of Long Island wind. Not only is the morning heat very reminiscent of the islands, these afternoon thunderstorms are too!

There is just one big difference between enjoying Caribbean weather while on vacation and suffering through it on a regular day. I try to look presentable when going to work where I don't even bother with mascara on vacation. This humidity is making my hair straightener work overtime! Even after ten minutes with the iron, all of my hard work is undone upon opening the front door!

Luckily I have an appointment at the salon this weekend, where I will cut several inches off my hair. This will make it lighter and easier to curl. The straight-haired days of winter are over. Time to embrace bouncy curls once again! (Which means its also time to confuse my male coworkers with my ever changing hair.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thai chicken salad

We've been back from vacation for a whole week now and I guess we're back into the swing of things.  I could always use an extra day of vacation after returning from vacation, but sadly I had to get back to work.

Thankfully, I had a slow week to return to.  My calendar was unusually sparce as the directors were heading out of town for a big meeting.  This left me with little to do but work in the lab and made me a happy chemist.

Years ago, during my first organic chemistry lab, my lab partner and I would count down the weeks of labs remaining.  From check-in the first week, we would trudge to lab like we were heading to break rocks for six hours.  As the weeks went on, we would break glassware, spill precious product and try to understand why we were doing what we were doing.  At the end of the semester we happily checked out of lab and were so happy the semester was behind us.

As a sophomore in college, I had no idea what I would be doing in ten years.  If you told me that I would gladly spend my hours working away in a lab, I would have told you that you were off your noggin. 

The difference now?  I actually know what I am doing.  When you start organic chemistry labs, you don't understand what is going on in your flask.  As a PhD chemist in the lab these days, I have a much better view of the atoms and molecules at work.  And I love it.

Lesson?  You never know what you'll be doing in ten years.  I wonder what I'll be up to in 2022?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Salad Dressing

I planned the posting date for this Why Bother? challenge very carefully.  With the unofficial start of summer a mere six weeks away, I think this is a good time to start eating lots and lots of healthy salads.  I know that there is a group of people out there who just detest eating salads.  Sitting down to a plate of lettuce just doesn't seem right to them.

And who could blame anyone for thinking that way?  Salads can be boring, unsatisfying and just plain forgettable.  There is another train of thought, the one that I have adopted toward the salad.  Salads can be bright, filling and the main course of any meal, with the right ingredients.  And of course, with the right dressing.

I have had more awful store-bought salad dressings than I care to mention.  The flavors tend to be muted, the salt to everything else in the dressing ratio is way off and the ingredient combinations sometimes wacky.  Sure, there are some pretty delicious dressings out there.  I'm not suggesting you steer clear of the salad dressing aisle completely.  There are just so many reasons to make your own dressings.

1. You know what all of the ingredients are.  As a chemist, I look at the back of a bottle of salad dressing and wonder why they need all of those chemicals.  The main reason?  To make the stuff shelf stable.  Look in your fridge, those bottles have expiration dates.  Granted, they are usually pretty far out from the purchase date.  Please go and throw away all of your old bottles of dressing, you'll have so much more space for the new dressing that you're going to prepare.

2. You can control the salt.  For the same reason that there are so many chemicals in your store-bought salad dressing, there tends to be a lot of salt.  Americans consume far more salt than is necessary for daily life and it affects our health in a negative way.  By making your own dressing, you can add just a pinch of salt (and that's only if it needs it!).

3. Think Fresh.  Those salad dressings sitting on the shelf at your local grocery store can't call any of their ingredients "fresh".  Nothing is better than putting together your own dressing and finishing it off with some freshly chopped herbs (straight from your garden if you're lucky!).  With the flavor that those herbs bring, you'll be leaving the salt shaker on the table.

4. You control the fat.  Along the lines of eating healthy in preparation for bathing suit season, everyone is watching their fat intake.  Store-bought dressings contain primarily soybean oil or canola oil.  There are some true winners out there containing extra virgin olive oil as their main fat source, but you have to be sure to read the labels.  Why settle for flavor-less canola oil when there are so many other delicious options!  From avocado to walnut, there are more options for oils than ever before.

So head out to the grocery store and skip the condiment aisle.  Go to the vinegars and oils section and pick up a few options.  I like to have white wine, rice wine and balsamic vinegar in my pantry at all times.  Specialty vinegars make an occasional appearance and are fun when changing things up, try champagne or pomegranate.

Stock up with a large bottle of extra virgin olive oil, try to catch it when it's on sale!  You'll find other amazing oils, such as walnut, sesame and avocado, often hiding in the natural foods section.  Specialty oils are a little more expensive, but give your homemade dressings amazing flavor.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raw salad & Wagamama Dressing

Our trip around Europe in the fall of 2010 began in London, after a harrowing flight from Newark international.  We just barely got out of the country before a hurricane pummeled the east coast.  In true London fashion, we landed in the middle of a light drizzle which slowly turned into a full out downpour.  This would have been fine, except we had decided to walk from the train station to our hotel. 

According to the map, it looked like we only had to walk a few blocks to get to our destination.  Unbeknownst to us, London blocks are a lot bigger than New York City blocks.  They also seem to twist and turn and lead you in the wrong direction.  At one point we wound up by Harrod's, trying to find some internet to activate google maps.

We finally made our way to the right street and slowly began making our toward our hotel, checking building numbers as we went.  Counting, counting, wait, where's our hotel?  We had passed from one building number to a much higher number, skipping our desired number in between.  We circled the block, thinking that we just couldn't have missed a huge Marriott hotel.  Maybe it was the jet lag, maybe it was the crazy London numbering system (I blame you London!), but had we kept walking to the next block, we would have found the hotel.

Soaked to the bone, we checked into our hotel room.  After changing into dry clothes, we headed out to find what we knew was close, Wagamama.  Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about are confused.  Those who do know what Wagamama is, understand.  Located all over the city, Wagamama tempts you with its noodles, soups and salads.  If you are in Boston, you should get yourself to Quincy Market.  You'll find Wagamama there. 

The soup that I got warmed me through and through.  Boyfriends Chicken Katsu curry (his favorite and the only thing he ever orders there) tempted me too.  Wagamama fueled us for the crazy trip ahead and brought me my first cookbook of the trip.

Thankfully the rain abated (just after we got to our hotel) and gave us a few beautiful, sunny days in London.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Iceberg Wedge & Blue Cheese Dressing

Welcome to the new year everyone!  I hope the first two days have treated you well.  If my first two days of the year reflect how everyone else spent their first two days, I hope you all enjoyed shopping at Walmart and Target, buying storage containers and hangers! 

Yesterday, boyfriend and I spent the day cleaning and organizing the apartment in preparation for our move to a slightly smaller apartment.  We filled up three huge garbage bags with clothes than no longer fit into our wardrobe and dropped them off at the donation bin.  The huge pile of metal hangers made their way to the recycling bin.  The pile of shoes in the bottom of the coat closet got organized and whittled down. 

Along our cleaning journey, we realized that we had accumulated lots of new clothes for christmas and were in need of hangers.  A series of thoughts brought us to getting in the car and driving to the closest Walmart, only to discover that everyone else in the county decided to go there too.  Were you at the big box store this weekend, because I think just about everyone in the world was in my checkout line.  (Warning - if you take a cart FULL of items into the "Speedy Checkout Line" you're going to get quite a few snide comments)

At the end of the day, our closet was slightly cleaner and our bodies were tired.  There was very little energy remaining to prepare anything for dinner.  Chopping a head of lettuce into four pieces was just about the amount of prep I could handle. 

Iceberg wedge & Blue cheese dressing
Adapted from Williams Sonoma - New York

I've had a couple of wedge salads in my time and I've always wanted to make it at home.  The dressing always had the same notes, but I didn't have a good base recipe.  This recipe from Williams Sonoma really hit the spot.  Although, to be completely honest with you...  After I photographed the pretty wedges of lettuce, I chopped it up and tossed it into a big bowl.  So much easier to eat, just less pretty to look at!

1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4-6 wedges

1/2 cup mayonaisse
1/2 cup light sour cream
juice from 1 lemon
dash of Tabasco
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 tbsp fresh chive, finely chopped

1/2 cup candied walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Plate one wedge of lettuce per plate.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the salad dressing (mayo through chives).  Spoon a few tablespoons of dressing over each wedge.  Spinkle with cranberries and walnuts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Newman's Pizza

I arrived home to a package recently.  It was filled with delicious goodies.  I was particularly struck by this pair of items.  Mostly because of the label on the pasta sauce...

Do you see it?  No, it's not those mysterious lady hands, growing out of the bottom of the bottle.  No, Newman's is spelled correctly.  It's up there, on the top left...  See it?  Yep, it says "Industrial Strength."  Why?  I have no idea, it didn't taste like it was extra strength or full of special chemicals (I'm a chemist, trust me on this).  It actually just smelled like tomato, and basil.  Have you ever opened a bottle of "Pasta sauce with basil" and you couldn't taste/smell the basil?  Well, you won't have that problem with this jar.  Mmmm, basily. 

It made one delicious pizza...  Look at all that deliciousness!

That basil flavor persisted, even after being layered over with sausage, peppers, onions and cheese.  Lots and lots of cheese...  Mmmmmm...

Oh, and I made a salad too.  Because vegetable are good for you.  Eat your vegetables.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

By the time this recipe makes its way to the internets, I will be winging my way over the Pacific ocean!  That's right, the Wilde household has flown the coop and we're on our way to Thailand.  It's our first trip over the Pacific ocean and we'll be in the air for sixteen hours.  That's one long plane ride.  I'm sitting here, trying to figure out if the whole trip is going to be in the dark, flying in perpetual night.

The way that I'm thinking my way through this "forever in the dark" question is as follows...  We are taking off from New York at 1:00 in the morning, Thursday morning.  We will be flying away from the rising sun as it comes up over the Atlantic.  As we cross the international dateline (somewhere over the Pacific), we will cross into Friday morning.  We will land Friday morning in Hong Kong, effectively skipping out on Thursday and travelling into the future.  I'm like the Doctor!

Catch you on the flip side!  (heehhheee, get it.  I'm on the other side of the world!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baked Pears & Salad

This whole, Working in the real world, thing is taking some getting used to!  Between the corporate and academic worlds there seems to be an inverse relationship between working hours and meetings.  That relationship has been very apparent this week and it's only Tuesday.  Let me explain.

While I was working in academia I spent the majority of my hours in the lab.  I have friends who worked for professors with set work hours of 9am - 11pm, with an hour break for dinner of course!  Yet, when it came to meetings, they were almost non-existant.  We had once-weekly group meetings for an hour or two every Monday.  During the summer we didn't have any meetings!  Summer was the time to get lots of work done in the lab, not time to sit in the conference room!

Working in the corporate world, my hours have been cut in half.  Sadly, my time in the lab has been reduced by at least 60% too.  I like working in the lab, I like making stuff.  With this decrease in working hours has come an increase in meetings.  In the 16 work hours so far this week, I've spent half of them in meetings.  My butt has been falling asleep a lot, I need to bring my office chair with me to these five hour meetings.

I've been told to get used to all the meetings, because my schedule is only going to get more full as I've worked there longer.  At least I'm learning lots of new and exciting things at these meetings!  Sounds like my working hours are going to increase a little more as I get a fuller schedule, luckily I was given a laptop at my new job!

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!

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.

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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