Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nicoise Salad.

"Knee- swa"

If you have never heard of nicoise salad, it is basically a salad that contains green beans, tuna, and some sort of vinaigrette. The salad is light refreshing and reminds me of summer. We have had a lot of snow lately (In May) and this salad was a nice reminder that summer is coming sooner or later. This dish really sits well and is great for next day lunch.

It's graduation weekend at St. Thomas and I can't believe it has been an entire year since I graduated from college. Where has the time gone? In no way does it feel like I graduated a whole year ago. And what a year its been... I could not be more grateful of everything I have. Hope you are able to enjoy the long weekend and get outside a little bit. I am just hoping the rain holds off for a few more days. 

Nicoise Salad

What you need:
- 1 lb green beans, cooked al dente and cooled
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 cans tuna (in water), drained
- 1 12 oz can black olives
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4oz feta cheese (optional)

- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard 

In a small bowl, mix dressing. Combine all salad ingredients and top with dressing. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Raw Summer Salad.

Long time no chat. 

Phew. Has it been a long time or what? So the question is, what have I been up to lately? Well it has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks. Lots of studying, traveling to chicago for my brothers wedding and to visit Kathleen, two visits from Andrea, and lots of walks around the lakes. It's finally warming up here, not that the current weather shows it well, and its so nice to walk around one of the 10,000 lakes here in Minnesota. Today we went for a long relaxing walk around Lake of the Isles and the uptown area. I have to admit it is by far my favorite lake. The beautiful path is lined by vast lake areas, narrow streams, and mansions. Its a must see. 

Food? We have been eating all over the map. We spent the entire beautiful weekend in Chicago eating. An awesome dinner at MK and an even more extravagant brunch at the Waldorf Astoria.  I have a few pictures and hopefully I will do a recap of the weekend soon. At home we have been enjoying simple meals and I have been utilizing Damian in the kitchen as much as possible to maximize study time. Once I pass my tests, which feels like forever away, I will start blogging again all the time. I feel like I have so much to share! Hopefully I will find some time in the next few weeks to do a bunch of recaps. For now, here is a super simple and delicious recipe. 

Raw Summer Salad

What you need:
- 1 large hothouse cucumber, sliced
- 4 baby red peppers, chopped
- 3 orange/yellow peppers, chopped
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- freshly grated garlic and salt (from TJ's)
- freshly cracked pepper

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Serve chilled. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Strawberry Blueberry Oatmeal Bake.

Oldie but goodie. 

I made this recipe a few weeks back (my birthday week to be exact) but I thought I would post it because its so darn good. The extra special thing about this post is its the first time I have used this awesome new Minnesota shaped cutting board! Andrea gave it to me for my birthday and it is just the perfect size for appetizers, cheese plates, and these cool photos. Most days we have overnight oats for breakfast but lately I have been making different oatmeal bakes for busier weeks. Love oatmeal? Love breakfast? Then you would love this. 

A little update on the home front- I am still studying all the time and the test day is getting closer and closer. I really can't wait until its over. This next weekend we are heading to Chicago for my brother's wedding. We fly out on Friday (no work- woot woot!) and are visiting Kathleen for the evening. I am so excited to get away because I honestly can't remember the last time we went somewhere on "vacation". Hopefully I will remember to take lots of photos to share. In the meantime, eat some oatmeal.

Strawberry Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

What you need:
- 2 bananas sliced
- 3 cups oats (old fashioned)
- 1 pint blueberries 
- 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 egg
- toppings of choice: shredded coconut, greek yogurt, raisins, granola

Preheat oven to 365 degrees. In a bowl, combine oats, milk, honey, and egg. Spray bottom of a glass baking dish and layer banana slices across the bottom. add a portion of the blueberries and all of the strawberries. Pour oat mixture in pan and top with blueberries and shredded coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes and let cool. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What I have been up to lately.


It has been so long since I last blogged... probably the longest I have ever gone. So a little update on my life. As amazing and a whirlwind as the last few weeks have been with the new engagement news, I have really been focusing on my studies. If you do not know already, I am preparing to take my Series 7 exam, which is a general securities representative exam. One of the great things about working for UBS is that they are preparing me to become a registered representative. Basically what this means is I can take orders (of financial securities ie. stocks, bonds, options ect) from clients and trade on public and private markets. In order to officially become registered, I will need to pass two exams, the Series 7 and Series 66. I will be taking the Series 7 in May. It is a 6 hour test with a 1 hour lunch break and will test my knowledge and skills on my entire finance career. The best way for me to describe the test is an accumulation of all of the finance classes I took in college. Once I pass the 7 I will go on to take the 66 which will test me primarily on state and government laws. Without a passing score on both tests (72%), I will not become registered. This means I have been studying my butt off. The weather is finally warming up but I am still inside with my giant Kaplan book and online tests. It's a privilege to be sponsored to take the exam but that does mean that I have put blogging, cooking, and free time on the back burner. Most of the weekly meals have been quick and easy and not very exciting in order to pack a gym session, dinner, a study session, and a shower all in 5 hours or less. Bear with my through this process and I will be back to my regular blog posts in no time. 

I thought I would post a few pictures of what I have been up to the last few weeks when I haven't been studying. Hope you had a great weekend and were able to get out and enjoy the weather. Its around 11am and I have already knocked out three chapters of my book + a blog post so I will definitely reward myself with a nice walk around the lake on this beautiful day :)

 Damian parents gave us twins tickets to yesterday's game. It was the perfect weather for a baseball game!

 I also attended the Women Connect brunch yesterday. It is an annual luncheon to honor and network with UST women with amazing careers. It is set up with tables of 8 women, one being the conversationalist. Last year I attended the event (the above picture is this years invite with a picture of me on it!) and sat with the CFO of Piper Jaffery. This year I sat with an executive of Ameriprise Financial. It is really an amazing event!

While in La Crosse for Easter, Damian and I stopped at Del's bar for the best bloody mary's that I have ever had. One of the best parts? The spotted cow chaser!

I got the chance to celebrate a very cold St. Patty's day with Meagan. With both of our busy schedules, our rare encounters are unforgettable. 

Damian's parents helped dog sit for Lu's sister Sophie. I had to go and visit a few times because obviously two goldens are better than one.

This is an oldie but I found it on my phone and thought it was too adorable not to post :) Love you girls!

These are what Damian describes as: The most ugly delicious oats ever. I guess a Mango Kiwi oatmeal bake doesn't look that great but it sure tasted amazing. 

We stopped at the St. Paul Cheese shop a few saturdays ago before a full day of studying in the library. Holy amazingness.

 Damian and I attended the Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon, and Styxx concert a few fridays back with people from my office. It was truly a hilarious and fun night.

I snapped this picture of our back yard on my way to work last week. Yes, last week in the middle of April. 

Study dates with Carly can't get much better than tea at Rustica, a after study reward of walking around Lake Calhoun, and yogurt lab to finish a perfect day. 

I can't guarantee a post will publish this week but I promise I have a few recipes to write about! Have a great week.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Engagement.

What a weekend.

I am not quite sure how this weekend will ever be topped. My birthday weekend started with dinner on Thursday night at 112 eatery (see blog post for more info). Damian and I had the most amazing meal. Friday continued the celebration with a giant group dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. The reservation was for 23 people and I was so happy to see each one of them. The meal was average but it the restaurant is a great place for an affordable meal and is large enough for a big group. I love being able to gather with all my friends in one place! After dinner we headed to our place for a bit before we danced the night away at Stella's in uptown.  I can't express how much gratitude I have for everyone who texted, called, sent cards, gave gifts, and helped celebrate. I truly felt very loved and blessed.

I was up bright and early Saturday morning, showered, dressed, and out the door before 10. I had a wonderful birthday breakfast, thanks to Zach, at Tiffany' Sports Bar. After a nice relaxing day Damian and I headed out to the Timberwolves game. He won tickets from a drawing at work and the seats were amazing! After the end of the third quarter Damian told me we needed to leave. I was so confused but he assured me by saying he had a surprise. We hopped in the car and drove to St. Paul. We arrived at Muffalettas Restaurant on como. This is such a special restaurant because we actually spent our first date there. After a glass of red wine and a cheese platter we got back in the car. Not knowing where we were going, we drove all the way around Como Lake and parked near the Pavillion. We walked out to the dock over looking the water and admired the beautiful evening. Although there is around 6 inches of snow on the ground the night was absolutely beautiful. Being my normal self trying to point out the Big Dipper and other constellations, Damian mentioned he had another surprise for me. When I turned around he was down on one knee. The ring is breathtaking and of course I said yes.

We celebrated with champaign and had so much fun telling family and friends.

This has been the best birthday I have ever had.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Birthday + 112 Eatery.

I don't need all the things I have but I do like to get what I want. 

I have been wanting to go to 112 Eatery for so long, it has probably been over a year since I first glanced the menu. The restaurant reached way past my expectations and was absolutely amazing. When asked where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner, there was no other option then this. Located on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, considered the warehouse district, this quaint restaurant sits among a busy street and overpriced parking lots. When going to a new restaurant I always read the entire menu before arriving. The reason I love restaurants such as this one is because although I thought I knew what I wanted, I let the waiter pick everything that we ate. That was an amazing idea. 

The great thing about the menu at 112 Eatery is that you can order multiple small plates to share. I love being able to try many things instead of each order a single entree. The restaurant was pretty dark so my pictures are not great but I was able to snap everything we ate. 

 They put a candle in our dessert. It was perfect. 

 When we arrived, the table was set with almonds and green olives to sample. The almonds had a sweet and spicy taste with a crunchy consistency.

We started with the Duck and Radicchio Salad. The picture above is a half portion, they split the dish so we wouldn't have to share a plate. The duck was perfectly cooked and the salad was lightly dressed with a touch of bitterness.

Next we shared the Duck Pate Bun Mi. It was served with a side of spicy pickles. The traditional sandwich paired with pate was out of this world. The pate was nice and crisp on the edges and smooth and creamy inside.  

We moved onto cauliflower fritters. I will admit, cauliflower is one of my least favorite vegetables. I don't think there is a way to dislike this dish. The cauliflower is flash fried with pockets of parmesan cheese. It is then topped with additional shredded parmesan cheese. After the suggestion of a lemon squeeze, the citrus paired perfect with the light fritter batter. It seriously melted in my mouth.

I was a big advocate of this next dish, tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs. The meatballs were made with a mixture of foie gras and chicken. They were smooth, tender, and just thinking about them I want more.  

The last dish we ordered was fried bread topped with prosciutto. The dough was similar to a croissant-like flaky pastry. The prosciutto was warmed and slightly melted on top. Delicious.  

 We ended with the Nancy Silverton's Butterscotch Budino for dessert. A budino is similar to a custard or a pudding texture and is pretty sweet. It was topped with a Makers Mark butterscotch topping that was rich and thick. Lastly, it was topped with Hawaiian sea salt. The saltiness paired with the sweet custard was heavenly.

If you still are not full, this homemade carmel corn is brought over with the check. It was rich in cinnamon and nutmeg to help cleanse the palette. It also contained almonds which was a great way to wrap up the meal from beginning to end.

I now have a new favorite restaurant in Minneapolis and I would highly recommend anyone to try it. I am also so grateful to have Damian take me to such a wonderful place :)

Happy Early Birthday to me. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Onion Ginger Pork Burgers.


Ever have one of those weeks where you are exhausted and can't kick it? I already have a feeling that is how this week is going to go. This past weekend was fun (I am thinking about doing a photo post soon) and I got a lot of studying done. I have been swamped at work because tax season is almost over and boy will I be happy when April 15th gets here. In the meantime, I will focus on my birthday this weekend! I am so excited that it actually lands on Friday because as a working professional, it would be pretty uneventful if it were during the week. Ahh Friday can't come soon enough!

This recipe is holy amazingness. I already love ginger pork burgers but adding a ton of onions make them even better. Also, see that corn down there? I took a bag of Trader Joe's fire roasted frozen corn and broiled it for 10 minutes. Yum. It added a nice char to the already delicious corn.

Onion Ginger Pork Burgers

What you need: (Makes 4 burgers)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 buns of choice
- additional toppings: lettuce, tomato, feta cheese, chipotle mayo

Combine all ingredients and form pattys. Broil for 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve on buns with toppings.