Thursday v. Friday

Happy Friday! These past two days have been good, in ways both related to food and not. I met with one of my professors the other day to talk about my options after graduation. We talked about teaching in programs akin to Teach for America, or teaching English abroad (We both agreed it’s too bad – for my purposes – that Ireland is an English-speaking country; otherwise I’d be there in a heartbeat). I think that grad school is my ultimate goal; I would love to be a professor; a large part of that is because I’ve had such good ones (particularly in English) here. Either way, I left feeling optimstic rather than anxiety-ridden, which is sometimes the case when I think about what I’ll do after I graduate.

But back to the eats! The past two days have been full of good ones. Let’s look at them head-to-head. There were breakfasts:

Oats with Greek yogurt + strawberries

In Thursday’s mix: 1/2 cup oats; 1/2 cup milk; 1/2 cup water; pinch of salt; pinch of cinnamon. Ideally I’d do this on the stovetop, but for time’s sake, I popped it in the microwave for two and a half minutes. I spooned some Greek yogurt and organic strawberries on top. Usually I drizzle this with honey, but I was out, so I substituted brown sugar. Surprisingly good!

Today was even better, though:

Yog mess + English muffin

In the yogurt mess: Chobani 0% Fat Greek yogurt, Kashi GoLean Crunch, Strawberries, and 1/2 banana. Again, no honey, so I used a little brown sugar to sweeten. I’ve been on a major PB&J kick lately (but how could I not? So classic…). On the other half, I did another tried-and-true combo: PB and banana.

PB&B + PB&J

The winner? Friday. There’s really no beating PB&J.

Yesterday’s lunch was kind of a big deal. It was the first time I’ve had chicken in at least six months (What can I say? It’s a dirty bird). My roommate Lauren is also learning to cook, and Wednesday night she baked a Parmesan/breadcrumb encrusted chicken. She’s a sweetheart and saved me some, too! Being the salad girl I am, I threw it over a bed of mixed greens.

Salad with chicken + English muffin

I dressed the salad in my signature, (lemon juice, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper) adding artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, and feta. On the side, an English muffin – one half with butta, one with PB&J (I know, I know, not exactly ground-breaking).

Still delicious!

Lunch today was better, but I think that was more due to my hunger levels. I ate breakfast around nine this morning and didn’t get back home until 2:30. I was starving, so I knew I needed to make something quick. In comes my newest favorite meal:

Black bean and goat cheese nachos + crudite with hummus

I found this recipe in a Cooking Light cookbook over the summer. I’ve adjusted it slightly. It’s really, really easy and delicious. Here’s the recipe:

Black bean and goat cheese dip:

  1. Drizzle olive oil
  2. 1/2 white cooking onion, chopped
  3. 1/2 C black beans
  4. 1/4 C salsa
  5. 1 oz goat cheese

1. Heat up a saute pan to medium heat. Once it’s hot, pour in a little olive oil. Add onion; stirring occasionally until translucent.

2. Add black beans and salsa. Once the mixture reaches a boil, turn it down to simmer; let it be for 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in goat cheese. Serve over chips, or inside quesadillas.

Today I got to do one of my favorite things – grocery shopping. Lauren and I borrowed a car and went to Meijer. I got so much stuff:

Bounty.

You can’t really see them, but I bought a box of Kashi TLC Pumpkin-Pecan bars that I’ve heard good things about. Those are probably what I’m most excited to eat; well, those and the squash.

I just realized I’ve moved away from the Thursday v. Friday theme, but that’s ok, because I forgot to take pictures of dinner last night (the key player was a big piece of pumpkin cake). Tonight’s dinner, though, was a delight.

Salad + Roasted acorn squash + carmelized (sort of) apples.

In the salad – tomatoes, garbanzos, feta, and my signature dressing, all over mixed greens. I roasted the acorn squash the same way I did on Tuesday (microwaved first, then butter + brown sugar in the broiler for a few minutes). The apples were the best part. I sauteed them in butter and brown sugar. They tasted sort of like apple pie filling; I think they’d be great over vanilla ice cream.

And then there’s my favorite part of the day (eating-wise). Dessert!

Pumpkin cake + dark chocolate

Oh hey there.

Even better: Jackie’s blog debut. Hey girl!

Well, that’s everything. I’ve got quite a bit of work this weekend, but tonight I’m going out (obviously).

Oh, I started Mrs. Dalloway this morning. From the opening sentence alone, I know I’m in for a game-changer: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

And that’s that! Have a good Friday night,

Mary

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Pumpkin-induced bliss

Hi!

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. This week is flying by. Tomorrow is Thursday, which is basically the weekend when you’re in college. Also, I only have one class tomorrow. Done by 11:30 AM. Just keeps getting better, right?

I had something new for breakfast today. This is saying something, as I’m usually quite content to eat toast with peanut butter and bananas. But I wanted to use the other half of the roasted acorn squash from last night…

Squash!

And I did! I stuffed it with Greek yogurt and Kashi GoLean. Then I drizzled it with honey.

Mmm

Money shot.

It was so good. Good enough that I’m bummed I won’t have any for breakfast tomorrow.

All gone!

The only caveat to this wonderful and unusual breakfast: I wasn’t sure how long it would last me (this seems to be a common theme for my breakfasts). So I packed a handful of these bad boys to eat in between classes:

My favorite snack.

When I was a kid, I hated these (though that’s not surprising – I was incredibly picky. So much so that frozen bread was the backbone of my diet). The smoky flavor made me gag. Actually, my friend Brook and I used to have spitting competitions with these (hey, we were eight years old). We’d sit on the edge of the dock at her cottage and see who could spit an object (usually almonds) farthest. Once we used this brand, and I still remember being shocked at the smoky taste. I was so concerned with getting rid of that (at the time) awful taste that Brook easily beat me in that particular spitting competition. TMI? Maybe. But anyway – now I love these almonds. They are my go-to snack; I always look forward to eating them.

Lunch was a bit of a mix-mash today. I like when all my dishes are from the same country. For example, one of my favorite cuisines is Middle Eastern, so I like to have a salad with tabouli and veggies with hummus. More often than not, though, I can’t stick to one cuisine. Today’s lunch is a prime example of that.

Lentil soup + salad + WW English muffin

It included the rest of the Progresso Lentil soup from last night; a Mediterranian-inspired salad with roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, and feta over mixed baby greens with EVOO and balsamic vinegar; and a whole wheat English muffin (one half with PB and J, the other with butter).

Salad + Carbs = Luv

Like my dad, I love ordering soup and salad when I go out to eat. I find it leaves me less stuffed than I would be if I ordered a full-size entree. Today’s lunch was no exception. I didn’t get hungry until right around dinnertime, either.

I knew I wanted to have sweet potatoes with dinner. I had two in the pantry that need to be used up. So I thought I’d have breakfast for dinner (sort of!).

Omlet + sweet potato fries + strawbabies

Can you tell I like ketchup? I also doused the sweet potato fries in it. They’re just not the same without ketchup. The omlet was filled with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and feta.

On the side, I had some crunchy vegetables.

Baby carrots + red pepper + Lentil dip from TJ's

I impulse bought this lentil dip from Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago. They were serving it as a free sample. The taste is interesting – almost like a more exotic version of hummus – and I liked it so much I bought a second tub last weekend.

Dessert was the highlight of my eats today, though. My roommate Sarah’s mom made this incredible pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. I had a big ass (sorry! Vulgar, I know…) slice a while after dinner. It was still gorgeous out, so I ate it outside on the front porch.

Pumpkin perfection.

Bliss.

It took all of my control not to go back for a second piece. I’ve got to buy some canned pumpkin, and soon. I’m just not sure what to do with it, aside from cakes and pies. Any suggestions?

I should really be starting an essay about “Midsummer Night’s Dream” tonight, but I just don’t know if that’s going to happen. I’m almost finished with an article about the President of J. Crew (AKA my favorite store) in the New Yorker. After that, there’s an article about Boardwalk Empire, HBO’s new show, that I’d like to read. I’ve watched the first two episodes, and I’m still not sure if I’m sold. It’s no Mad Men. Has anyone else watched? If yes, what do you think?

Have a good night!

Mary

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Gimme more

Good evening! Did you guys watch Glee? My roommate Jackie and I did, and we spent most of it laughing. It’s Britney, bitch…

Dinner tonight was a treat. I spent most of class thinking about it, actually. The other day, I impulse-bought an acorn squash at Meijer. I had visions of something roasted, buttery, and brown sugary. And I actually accomplished it! With a little help from my mom via the phone, I successfully roasted my first acorn squash.

Chopped.

Mom told me these guys are pretty tricky to cut. She actually texted me later to ask me if I still had all my fingers – she wasn’t kidding. Thankfully, I made it through this first crucial step. Then, I scooped out the seeds. I’m soaking them overnight, and tomorrow I’ll roast them. (Does anyone else love pumpkin seeds?)

De-seeded.

I popped both halves into the microwave for about eight minutes. Once they were fork-tender, I spread a little butter and brown sugar on them, and put them in the oven under the broiler for about five minutes. The end result was gorgeous.

Voila!

I saved the other half. I’m going to try to incorporate it into tomorrow’s breakfast somehow. Stay tuned…

Along with the acorn squash, I had a go-to: a sauteed mushroom and spinach wrap with hummus. This was one of my favorite meals this summer, when I had to pack a lot of lunches.

You can't tell, but I promise there's spinach and mushroom hidden in that wrap.

I also had a bowl of Progresso Lentil soup. One of my goals this autumn is to learn to make soups. Last year I made a mushroom-barley soup that was really simple and great on a cold day. I’d love to learn to make an easy lentil soup, if anyone has a good recipe.

After din, I did some studying. For British History and Culture, I had to read Bernard Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.”

Glee was enjoyed with a side of Mango Sorbet.

Yummm.

I’ll be honest – this stuff took some getting used to. The texture and color are just a little off, but if you let it sit for a while, it’s worth the wait.

The pretty dish makes it even better.

Anne, you asked if my dishes were vegan. Some may be, though not intentionally. For about six months, I was a vegetarian. Only recently I decided to eat fish again, and that soon led to re-incorporating all meat. Most of this takes place at my parents’ home, though. At school, I still haven’t purchased any meat or fish from the grocery store. But I’m hoping to do so soon!

I’ve got to get back to “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” As soon as I finish, I’m going to dig into my new magazines. Also, I finally get to start “Mrs. Dalloway” for my Virginia Woolf class soon. I can’t wait – I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a long time.

Goodnight!

Mary

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They call it Stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad…

Hi again! The title of this post might sound a little melodramatic, but I only used it because of the weather today. Tuesday’s not really so bad. But anyway, check it out: .

I wasn’t looking forward to the walk to class today, partly due to the weather. I woke up to rain, cold and gray. But things got better quickly. Even though it was only 9:45, I had a package in the mailbox. I carried it with me on the way to class, shielding it from the rain under my arm. Inside were two copies of the New Yorker and one issue of the New York Review of Books. My uncle Jimmy started these subscriptions for me over the summer because I always borrow (and usually forget to give back!) his copies. I haven’t changed the addresses over to my house at school, but my mom surprised me and forwarded them to me. So I have three treats to look forward to once I’m done with work today.

Breakfast this morning was good, but it didn’t hold me over for very long.

Yogurt mess!

This is my go-to breakfast when I’m out of cinnamon raisin bread. I layer Kashi Golean Crunch over Greek Yogurt (lately I like Trader Joe’s). Then I add whatever fruit I have on hand (typically bananas). Today I was lucky enough to have fresh (and organic!) strawberries, so I sprinkled those on top of the yogurt and Kashi and drizzled it all with honey.

Close up!

I love this breakfast, but like I said, it doesn’t last me very long. As usual, I had two cups of coffee and a glass of water on the side.

I only had one class this morning: Virginia Woolf. This is by far my favorite class. The professor is passionate and awesome, VW’s books are killer, and I always leave feeling inspired. Today I also felt hungry! I wanted yet another panini, but today I changed things up a bit:

Salad and Sammie

Full lunch: salad, sandwich, Texas Caviar

In the sandwich: goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and spinach. This hit the spot – so much so that this sandwich will now become part of the rotation (along with the classic grilled cheese!). The salad was pretty basic – mixed baby greens, tomatoes, feta, lemon juice, EVOO and balsamic vinegar. The Texas Caviar is a dish my mom taught me how to make. It’s great if you’re vegetarian, because the beans provide a lot of protein. This was the last serving of this batch. In this batch, I included: black beans, northern beans, three roma tomatoes, one red pepper, one jalapeno pepper, tomato-less salsa (from Trader Joe’s), normal salsa, and a little bit of sugar, salt, and cumin. The result is a spicy-sweet dip.

This meal didn’t hold me very long either. I have class at three, and I’m going to have to have a snack before (I’m thinking almonds and an apple).

Well, I’m off. Have a good afternoon!

– Mary

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Hello world!

Hi! Welcome to Salads and Shakespeare! My name is Mary, and I’m an English major who is learning to cook. I wrote most of this in the “About” section, but since this is my very first post, I think it bears repeating.

Up until last June, I thought I wanted to be a dietitian. But I changed my mind, and English it is. I’m swimming in reading, but I’ve never felt happier in my classes.

I love to eat. Like many college girls, though, I feel a lot of pressure to be thin. Last year I used to compensate for that feeling by not eating very much during the day. As a result, I would come home at night after spending hours in the library and dive into a box of cereal. I’d only remember to breathe when my hand scraped the bottom of the box.

This year, I’m trying to eat less like I’m on a diet and more like I’m eating for health. I still struggle sometimes with what I eat, which is part of the reason I wanted to make this blog. I think taking pictures and writing about what I eat will provide a more objective perspective. I’m learning that eating doesn’t have to be associated with guilt or restraint – if anything, it should be used to enhance even the most mundane of days. I wanted to create this food blog months ago, but back then I was so food-frenzied that it wouldn’t have been helpful or healthy. Things have changed though; I’ve remembered that food isn’t only supposed to nourish – it’s should taste good, too!

This all brings me to the number one reason I made this blog: I love to eat, write, and read. Part of that is due to my mom. Not only is she an incredible cook, but she also has a really healthy relationship with food. For years she’s been setting a good example for me. Along with my dad, she’s had a heavy hand in making me an active reader and writer, too. My favorite childhood memories are of reading with my parents before bed and art time in the afternoons with my mom. I still love to do those things. I also enjoy yoga, walking, cooking, (or learning to!) and spending time with friends and family.

So that’s my story – or part of it, at least! I hope you’ll enjoy reading about what I learn to cook, eat and read.

Today was a great day, even though it’s a Monday. Part of this might be due to the two hour nap I snuck in this afternoon… But another part surely relates to my delicious breakfast and lunch. Without further ado, here they are:

Cinnamon-Raisin toast with peanut butter and banana

This is my favorite meal. I would eat this everyday if I could. The bread is from Zingerman’s, a deli/bakery/food heaven in Ann Arbor. On the side, I drank two cups of coffee and a big glass of water.

I ate lunch after classes today. I made it through British History without any
embarrassing stomach growling, but I wasn’t so lucky in Shakespeare. By 12:45, my stomach was pretty noisy. So I booked it home after class, and spent the walk thinking about what I’d have for lunch. These past few days, I’ve been utilizing my housemate’s panini maker, and a grilled sandwich sounded perfect.

Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Feta on a bed of Spinach, dressed with lemon juice, EVOO, and balsamic vinegar; grilled tomato and cheese on whole wheat farm bread

A panini was a good choice. I only recently realized I love tomatoes, and now they’re almost (if not already!) out of season. So I’m trying to eat as many as I can.

Now I’ve got to watch “Jungle Fever” for my Spike Lee film course. Enjoy the rest of your evening!

What I’m reading: For classes, “Testament of Youth,” by Vera Brittain, “Jacob’s Room,” by Virginia Woolf. For fun, I’m going to start re-reading “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” by Junot Diaz, tonight. What are you reading?

– Mary

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