Chocolate Berry Granola and some news...

The other reason for the lack of recipe posts on this once legitimate food blog is that, in addition to studying for the bar, traveling, moving, starting a new job, and house hunting,  I have been very preoccupied with the fact that we are expecting!

If all goes well, baby R will be arriving in February.  

The past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions for me, the primary one of which has been total overwhelm.  It's been challenging to have all these big life experiences happening at one time, but I have arrived at a place where I feel incredibly thankful for all of them.  I can't wait to meet our future little kitchen helper.  :)

In the food realm, I haven't had any particularly crazy food cravings.  I think I was fortunate compared to many women in that I didn't get sick too often during my first trimester, but I did experience nausea if I didn't eat every few hours.  Many of the foods that were once staples in my diet become foods that I could.not.stand, including avocados, eggs, and oatmeal.  So sad.  Not many vegetables were appealing to me either, so I ate a lot of cereal, bagels and fruit.  One great thing about being pregnant in the summer time is watermelon.  I ate an entire one myself in three days....

Thankfully, once I entered the second trimester, most of my food aversions disappeared, so I'm trying to eat a more balanced diet now with lots of protein and calcium.

One of my main calcium sources has been yogurt, and on a whim a few weeks ago I bought a bag of chocolate berry granola to top my yogurt.  I was soon hooked, but store bought granola is expensive.  I've come up with my own version, and I'm quite pleased with it.

The freeze dried strawberries are key, in my opinion. You can find them at Trader Joes or on Amazon.

We love eating this granola with plain yogurt, milk, or just snacking on it by the handful--for breakfast or dessert!

Chocolate Berry Granola 

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed 
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped freeze dried strawberries 

Preheat oven to 350. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Add oats to a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine melted coconut oil and butter, cocoa powder, brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. Whisk with a fork until smooth, then pour over oats.  Stir until oats are evenly coated in chocolate mixture. 

Pour chocolatey oats onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.  Bake at 350 for 21-28 minutes.  Set time for 7 minute intervals, stirring and moving the oats around every 7 minutes. Granola is done when toasted and fragrant. 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. You can use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate chips around, which will create delicious chocolate chunks! Sprinkle with chopped freeze dried strawberries. 

Let granola cool completely. (You can put it in the fridge or freezer if you are impatient to speed things up!)

Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction


Our Colorado Trip

Hi friends--sorry for the long absence. Between packing, moving, un-packing, starting a new job, and house-hunting, life has been pretty crazy around here. 

I wasn't cooking much for a while, which made me sad, but in the last couple weeks I've been venturing into the kitchen more. I made this spinach and cheese strata and this banana bread, and then these Mexican sweet potato skins and my mom's spaghetti sauce recipe. (I need to share that one with you!) I'm finally feeling more like myself now that I'm cooking at least a couple times a week, and soon I hope to have a new recipe to share with you.  

In the meantime, here is a recap of our August trip to Colorado!

As I know I've mentioned on the blog before, I've been wanting to go to Colorado for a long time.  I don't know why exactly--it just always seemed grand and beautiful and different. 

And, after a summer spent inside studying for the bar, I knew I would want to be outside in the fresh air as much as possible. 

Vail/Avon/Glenwood Springs

To Do: 

We spent our first three days at a resort in Avon, Colorado, which is about 10 minutes west of Vail.  We spent one day exploring Avon and the nearby Beaver Creek, and the next day we made the 50 minute drive to Hanging Lake--one of the highlights of the trip. 

This is a very popular tourist destination, and there is only one small parking lot that fills up fast.  If you go on a Saturday, like we did, you might end up having to walk an extra two miles to get there if the parking lot is full, but it's worth it. 

It is a 1.5 mile hike up to Hanging Lake, and there are lots of smaller water falls along the way to the top. 

We only spent part of one day in Vail, but I wish we could have spent at least two. I LOVED it. 

We happened to go there on a Sunday, which is Farmer's Market day, and there were so many stalls set up with delicious food and local artwork.

Vail definitely has some German influences in the architecture.

And the cuisine.  These German pastries were absolutely stunning.

We took the Gondola up to the top of Vail Mountain. The price is sort of ridiculous, but it's just something you have to experience.

The views from the top were breathtaking.

I didn't want to leave!

To Eat: 

Crespelle in Vail--The casual crepe place was the perfect stop after coming back down the mountain.  We got the dirty hippy (kale, spinach, bacon, tomato & avocado) and the crespelle (nutella, banana, strawberry & chocolate pearls). I still dream about that nutella crepe....

Colorado Springs

To Do: 

We did some more hiking and hit all the big touristy spots in Colorado Springs. 

Seven Falls--It's 250 steps up to the top of the falls, but the views are great. 

Once you get to the top, there are also several hiking trails with more panoramic views.

Garden of the Gods--We opted to hike a loop around the park, which allowed us to see the rocks from all different angles.

Air Force Academy--This stop was definitely more for Adam than for me, but the chapel was absolutely beautiful.

Pike's Peak--the drive to the top was terrifying and exhilarating. (We were literally driving on the edge of a cliff!) 

I was so happy when we made it to the top. Their famous doughnuts were pretty good too.

As were the views. . .

To Eat: 

Ola Juice Bar--Although we were only in Colorado Springs 3 days we ate here twice. I was obsessed! Their acai bowls were delicious and so refreshing after hiking. 

This salad was yummy and filling with quinoa, spinach, carrots, peppers, red onions, pine nuts, and a peanut ginger dressing.

Other highlights: 

Josh & John's Ice Cream--delicious homemade ice cream in downtown Colorado Springs. 

Red Leg Brewing--great craft brewery with food trucks. We loved the Cambodian cuisine we tried at the Awaken Food Truck that was there one night. 


To Do: 

After doing so much hiking on the other parts of our trip, we decided to do mostly museums in Denver.

Denver Art Museum--This one was our very favorite. It's huge, with lots of great exhibits.

Museum of Contemporary Art--This museum was smaller, but still cool. We enjoyed the rooftop bar at the top.

Museum of Nature & Science--This was a typical science museum for me, and the amount of kids and people there was a bit overwhelming.  If you go, definitely visit the City Park right nearby. It's a lovely place to walk around with great views of downtown.

To Eat: 

Root Down--This was by far the best meal of our trip. The sweet corn risotto was amazing.

Denver Biscuit Co--crazy big and good biscuits. The cinnamon roll biscuit with cream cheese frosting was decadent, but so worth it.


Los Chingones--unique tacos, margaritas, and a rooftop view. What else do you need? I hope to recreate one of the tacos we had here in a later blog post.

Union Lodge--period era cocktails in a fun speakeasy setting. A must-try!

Colorado, you did not disappoint, and we are already ready to go back. 

Simple Eggplant and Tomato Stew

Hi! I've missed you. I've missed blogging. I've missed cooking. 

It's been a bit of a miserable summer of bar studying, but it's finally, finally OVER. 

Summer is always one of my favorite seasons for cooking because of the fresh fruits and vegetables everywhere, so it was hard not to have much time for cooking this summer.  I ate a lot of cereal and take-out. Not great.

Although our squash plants didn't end up having much of a harvest, we've had a ton of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. I did manage to make refrigerator pickles and some simple pasta dishes with tomatoes.

Now that I'm easing my way back into the kitchen, I knew I had to make something with cherry tomatoes, and once my mom gave me this beautiful Japanese eggplant from her garden, I knew just the thing: simple eggplant and tomato stew.

This recipe is inspired from one of my very favorite dishes at Med Deli in Chapel Hill--their eggplant, squash and tomato stew.  It's essentially eggplant, tomato, and onion that are cooked for a long time until everything is disintegrated and delicious.

I'm not sure if everyone is a fan of vegetables cooked until they're totally falling apart, but I can assure that in this instance, it's wonderful.

The recipe here is very loose here--feel free to add more or less of what I have, or add in other vegetables as well. There's no way to mess it up.  To take it in the mediterranean direction, add cumin and paprika and maybe sprinkle it with feta cheese at the end. To take it in the Italian direction, add parmesan cheese and fresh basil at the end.  Either way, serve it with some bread for dipping. It makes the whole experience.

Unfortunately, after just finishing a busy season of studying, I'm now about to enter another season of busyness. In the next week, I'll be starting my new job and we'll be moving. We haven't found a permanent home yet, so we're moving into a sort of temporary housing situation, which we just learned doesn't have a full kitchen.  :(

What this means for the blog, I'm not sure. BUT, Adam and I also just returned from a wonderful trip to Colorado, and I have lots to share about what we did and where we ate. 

Thank you, as always, for reading along. 

Simple Eggplant and Tomato Stew

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 a medium onion
pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 small eggplants, chopped
1 green pepper chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
~1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

For serving:
fresh basil
parmesan cheese
naan or pita bread for dipping

Add butter and olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Once butter is melted, add the onions. Cook for a minute or so and then reduce heat to medium low. Continue to caramelize the onions, stirring every few minutes, as you prepare the other ingredients.

Once the onions have caramelized to your liking (I cooked mine for 15 minutes or so, you can do longer if you have more patience), add the cherry tomatoes. Raise heat to medium and cook tomatoes and onions for an additional 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened and started to burst.

Add the chopped green pepper, eggplant, and garlic. Stir to combine, then cover. Continue cooking the vegetable mixture for about 20 minutes.  Every few minutes, remove the lid and stir. The tomatoes should have produced lots of liquid, but as the liquid starts to evaporate, add water.

I consider the dish complete when the eggplant pieces have started to disintegrate and the whole mixture resembles something you want to scoop up with pita bread. Be sure to season liberally with salt and pepper.

Serve with pita bread or naan and chopped basil and grated parmesan cheese, if desired.


Checking in

Hey friends! I'm sorry for the long absence. I thought I would be able to post at least occasionally during the first part of bar studying, but I underestimated how all-consuming studying would be.  This will probably be my past post until August, but I wanted to check in with a few recipes and restaurants that I'm loving lately. 

Despite spending most of my waking hours studying, I've managed to find time to check out a couple new places around town.  A new favorite is Honeysuckle Tea House, where I got the beautiful smoothie bowl above. This one had banana, dates, mango, coconut milk, bee pollen, and edible flowers!

Adam and I have also become obsessed with Ponysaurus, a new brewery in Durham.  It has a great outdoor space, including this rooftop with string lights. It's a great place to watch the sunset, sip a beer, and maybe work on making notecards.... 

They have sweet and salty snacks on hand and a local food truck is usually there too.

Because most of my mental energy has gone toward studying, I haven't attempted any new recipes lately, but we're still making our favorites.  A big hit recently was my panang curry recipe served over rice noodles instead of rice. It's SOO good. Please try it.

I've also made greek chicken pitas (with grocery store rotisserie chicken) and my favorite chopped salad.

I'm so excited for later in the summer when some of the veggies from our garden are ready for harvest. So far we have lots of baby squash (aren't they the cutest??) and some green cherry tomatoes. Watering the garden everyday has been a good study break for me, and I think it's helping my sanity just a little bit.

What recipes or restaurants are you loving this summer? Any favorite squash recipes? I think we're going to have a lot. . .

Happy Summer!  


Small Batch Kettle Corn (with video!)

If you've been reading for a while, you know that I have a tendency to become obsessed with particular street foods and then seek to recreate them at home.  First it was arepas, then soft pretzels. Today, it's kettle corn. 

I've always been a fan of kettle corn.  It's my go-to at the state fair and the air show, and any other event with vendor food.  Adam and I have been on a homemade popcorn kick for the past few months, but I neglected to make kettle corn until just recently.  I assumed it required special equipment or long baking times, but it doesn't!

Now, because I don't have a real kettle or specialty corn kernels, this isn't exactly like the kettle corn you'd buy at the fair, but I think the favor and texture is pretty darn close. 

Also, because we're nerds, and because I have one more day of freedom before bar studying starts, Adam and I made you a how-to video: 

I call this small batch kettle corn because it makes enough for 2-3 servings, which is perfect for us. Enjoy!

Small Batch Kettle Corn

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons sugar
salt for sprinkling

Add canola oil to a medium-sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat.  Add three corn kernels and place lid on the pot. Listen carefully.

Once one of the kernels has popped, quickly add the remaining corn kernels and sugar. Shake the pan to evenly coat the kernels in oil and sugar. Continue cooking over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Once the popping slows, remove from heat quickly to avoid burning.

Spread popcorn out over parchment paper and sprinkle with salt. Let cool and dig in!


Thoughts on the Law School Job Search

When I finished teaching, I had all sorts of profound thoughts about how teaching had shaped me for the better.

I don't have quite the same feelings about law school. While teaching made me a better and stronger person, law school has helped me to know myself better, and to think critically about what really matters. (Mostly by rejecting what law school has told me I should value.)

In short, I've faced a lot of rejection and self-doubt over the past three years.  I think where I've grown the most has been through the agonizing job search process. I hesitate to share any advice, because I know everyone's experience is different.  But many of my brilliant classmates are still in the midst of their search, and for those who will be job-searching in the future, I thought I'd share what I've learned. 

1. Relax. 
Finding a job is important, but it doesn't have to be EVERYTHING. When I was feeling stressed about not having a job yet, I would think about all the other wonderful things in my life that I was thankful for and that, in the big scheme of things, are way more important than securing employment.  This calmed me down. 

Also, don't let other people's success make you feel frantic. I was one of the last of my friends to get an internship for 1L summer, 2L summer, and in securing a job for after graduation. During each of those periods, I was happy for my friends who got great offers for internships/jobs, but I also felt increasingly discouraged as more friends got jobs while I remained jobless.  I think this feeling is natural, but it's also not productive. 

2. Network.
Ugh, do you hate the idea of networking? I do too. I remember at one of our first career sessions, a career counselor emphasized how important networking would be, and I rolled my eyes thinking, "Nope, I won't need to do that."  Wrong. 

A small percentage of people find their jobs through on campus interviews and a few more find them through postings on the law school employment page, but I think most people end up finding jobs through networking--myself included.  It's hard, and it can be awkward at first to reach out to people that you don't know, but it's worth it.

My main take-away from this experience was that genuine connections with people make a difference. This could be a connection with someone that you've worked with in the past or a connection that you form with a new person over coffee.  Also, never underestimate the power of a kind email. 

3. Don't let rejections affect your self worth.
We have a very dangerous tendency in our culture to equate our jobs with our worth as individuals. I say dangerous, because once the number of rejection letters you've received nears 20, you start to go down a bad path. (me)

I believe that as human beings, we each have unsurpassable worth.  Because we exist in the world, we are worthy of love and belonging. This is not affected by anything we do or accomplish.  It's helpful to remind ourselves of that when we're in the midst of a difficult season.

4. Pursue what you are passionate about.
I was nervous at various points throughout law school because I realized that all of the practical experiences I had were in one particular area of law that I happened to be really interested in.  I feared that this would limit my marketability to employers, and it probably did.  But it also made me more qualified for the jobs I really wanted, and for me, that trade-off was worth it in the end.

5. Don't be afraid to turn down an offer that isn't right for you. 
Law school career counselors would be horrified that I'm saying this, but I think it's true.  In November I received an offer for a prestigious position in another city.  It was an amazing opportunity that I was very fortunate to receive, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to move to that city.

I agonized over the decision for weeks. On the day I was going to send an email declining the offer, I called my mom sobbing. "What if I regret this decision later?  What if this is my lean in moment and I'm missing it?  What if this is the only job offer I'll ever receive?"  My mom told me that she didn't believe in regrets, and that all I could do was make the decision that felt right for me in that moment.

During that time, I also thought a lot about an advice column I'd read by Sheryl Strayed entitled The Ghost Ship That Didn't Carry Us.  In the column, Sheryl gives advice to a 40 year old man deciding whether or not he and his partner will have children.  Sheryl says that when we're faced with such an irrevocable life choice, there's no way to know exactly how our lives will pan out.  She quotes Tomas Transtromer, who wrote that that every life "has a sister ship" that follows "quite another route" than the one that we choose to take. This was helpful imagery for me as I imagined the life I would live if I accepted the offer and life I would live if I rejected it, which was still very uncertain at that time.  Ultimately, Sheryl's concluding words gave me much comfort:

"I'll never know and neither will you of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore."

For those of you still searching for a job, or for your life path, I wish you clarity, courage, and perseverance.

Also, happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there!  I'm especially thankful to mine for her wisdom and unending encouragement.


Green Kitchen Tips for Earth Day


My poor friends. So many of my conversations these days begin with, "So I listened to this really great podcast about....."  

I'll admit it.  I'm a bit obsessed with podcasts. Particularly The Lively Show.  So many of Jess's episodes have given me tidbits of wisdom, spurred self reflection, or changed my perspective.

About a year ago, I listen to this episode about a zero waste lifestyle.  It really challenged me to think about ways to eliminate waste.  Over the past several months, I've taken some small steps to reduce the amount of stuff that I throw away.  Although I still have a long way to go, in honor of earth day, I thought I would share some of the steps I've been taking along with my future goals.

What I'm doing now: 

1. Replacing paper napkins with cloth napkins. Cloth napkins are so pretty!  And this method saves money. It does add some extra laundry, but since napkins are pretty much the easiest thing to fold, it hasn't felt like a lot of extra work.

2. Reusing ziplock bags, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap. As you'll see down below, I want to eventually eliminate all of these items from my kitchen, but for the time being, I've been reusing them as much as I can to limit how much I throw away. 

3. Using plastic or glass containers instead of aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Another easy swap! The small plastic containers are great for snacks. 

4. Recycling.  You're probably doing this one already too. It's easy, especially if someone collects your recycling. When we went on vacation to the mountains over Christmas, the place we stayed did not have recycling. So, like the crazy person that I am, I brought 4 trash bags full of recycling in the car home with us. 

5. Using reusable grocery bags. I keep the grocery bags in the trunk of my car. Although I initially forgot them almost every time, I would make myself walk back to the car to get them. The more you do it, the more easily you will remember.

Future Goals: 

1. Replace plastic wrap with this bee's wrap. It's washable, reusable, and compostable. (I was inspired by this post.)

2. Replace paper towels. I need to buy some cheap washcloths and keep them under my kitchen sink to start to replace paper towels. There's more helpful info about that process in this post.

3. Buy reusable snack bags.  I want these pretty ones

4. Buy a silpat silicone non-stick baking mat for cookies. This will eliminate the need for wax paper when making cookies. :)

5. Start composting. This is hard if you're a renter like me, but I'm going to start doing some research. 

I think to avoid being overwhelmed, it's good to implement these changes one at a time. As you become comfortable with one, you can add in another.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these methods/products. 

Happy belated Earth Day!


Panang Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

I still remember the first time I had curry. It was my senior year of college, and my roommates and I had started a tradition of family dinners.  Each night, one of us would be in charge of cooking dinner. 

One night, my roommate Catherine made curry with chicken, sweet potatoes, and rice, and it was one of the best family dinners we ever had.  I had never had coconut milk or curry paste before, and I was blown away with the deliciousness. 

However, it took several years before I was confident enough to try make curry on my own.

I was recently inspired to make this panang curry after eating excellent panang curry at a local Thai restaurant, finally ordering something other than my beloved pad thai.

My only complaint about the Thai restaurant version is that it has way more chicken than vegetables. (I'm kind of a weirdo about meat, and like to have even proportions of rice, vegetables, and chicken in each bite.) One benefit of making your own panang curry at home is that you can add as many veggies as you like! I added broccoli, red pepper, and jalapeño here.

You can use the regular red curry paste that you find in grocery stores if you like, but I really recommend getting the special panang curry paste for this recipe. You can find it at Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.

I hope you branch out of your normal dinner routine and give this recipe a try--I would love to hear what you think!

Panang Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

For the curry:
1/4 cup panang curry paste
2 cups coconut milk
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 cups chicken broth
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
zest from one lime

For serving:
batsami or jasmine rice
fresh basil

Add the curry paste to a large sauce pan over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of the coconut milk, and stir vigorously to combine with the curry paste. Once the curry paste has started to dissolve, add the rest of the coconut milk and continue stirring to remove lumps. Continue cooking the coconut milk and curry paste over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, then add the chicken.

Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes, and then add the broth, ginger, broccoli, red pepper, jalapeño, fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime zest. Bring to a  boil and cook until vegetables are just tender.

Remove ginger and serve in bowls over rice, garnished with basil.

  • Using 1/4 cup curry powder, this was spicy! (According to my wimpy palate) If you want less spice, add closer to 3 tablespoons of curry paste.
  • Instead of lime zest, traditional panning curry uses kafir lime leaves. You can find these at an Asian grocery store.
  • This recipe easily makes 6-8 servings. 

Adapted from Saveur.