almond joy frozen greek yogurt

Another year, another birthday, another dessert!

I turned 26 yesterday.

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My first birthday wish came from Kevin. He beat my dad by 6 minutes and was quite proud of himself. Once I confirmed that he had the right date, of course.

I had my final exam for my job training in the morning. How many exams have you heard me talk about? This was my last one for real.

I think.

As soon as I was done, I zipped to Harris Teeter to get ingredients for this dessert!

Birthday checklist:

Being a nerd- check.

Grocery shopping- check.

Teaching Body Pump- check.

Making a dessert using Kelly’s new Kitchen Aid (!!!)- check.

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My favorite Baltimore beer (Union Duckpin Pale Ale) at my BFF Ian and Meg’s house- check.

Pretty solid day.

Almond Joy Frozen Greek Yogurt

1 quart heavy cream

2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

1 cup almond slices, toasted

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

Spread coconut and almonds on a baking sheet, and toast at 350 degrees until golden brown (about 10 minutes) flipping half way through. Set aside to cool.

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Place a stainless steel bowl in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream and the almond extract, and whip until you see stiff peaks. Fold in the Greek yogurt until combined.

 

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I like the FruYo Greek yogurt because it’s not overly sweet, and I like the little vanilla bean flecks. Even if they’re fake. The effect is nice.

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Fold in the coconut, almonds, and chocolate. I chopped some of the chocolate and left other pieces whole. I added a lotttt of toppings because I wanted every bite to have something. Hire me, Ben & Jerry.

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Pour into shallow containers- I used two Pyrex containers, you could also use a bread tin. Freeze for 6-8 hours.

I think our freezer is a little too cold, so when I first pulled this out it was hard as a rock and not scoop-able like ice cream. Once it softened a little it was a better texture. The GS said it tasted “healthy” but I think this is a good thing. It’s a little tart from using Greek yogurt, but the coconut, almonds, and chocolate make it a good level of sweet.

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I have about 10 pounds of it so I’ll be celebrating my birthday until further notice.

slow cooker pulled pork

I have spent the entire summer traveling all over the country every week, and somehow the only “famous” person I’ve seen was Jim Boeheim. And that includes two trips to California. This doesn’t seem fair.

When I was in Phoenix, I had a chatty Lyft driver (not the creepy one who picked me up from the airport) and we figured out that he went to Syracuse University! He was all excited that I’m from Syracuse and was telling me how much he misses Dinosaur BBQ. (We’re getting one in Baltimore, by the way!)

I’m not sure I’ve actually eaten Dinosaur since I had it 87 times in the two week period when everyone had their high school graduation parties. Pulled pork for days. Literally.

I also remember going there for dinner once when I was in middle school with our whole Hilton Head vacation crew. At the time I had a big crush on one of the boys in the group. I distinctly remember putting on copious amounts of powder blue eye shadow (copious even for 2002), and wearing my coolest Abercrombie kids t-shirt. By “coolest” I mean it said “Abercrombie” pretty big and had rhinestones on it.

My memory frightens me sometimes.

Anyway, even though I was looking pretty fly for a 7th grader, said crush paid little to no attention to me. I think this is how most boys work when they have a plate of meat in front of them. This includes present day GS.

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But when my Lyft driver was talking about Dinosaur it gave me a craving! And then center cut pork loins were BOGO at Harris Teeter. I am a marketer’s dream.

What I really wanted to do was put the pork in my slow cooker and just dump a few bottles of barbecue sauce in there. But that’s not blog-worthy, and obviously I really needed to share my awesome story with you.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

4 lbs pork (I bought two center cut pork loins)

1 onion, quartered

3-4 garlic cloves

1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed (keep it whole so you can pull it out later)

juice of 2 oranges

juice of 2 limes

1 beer (I used Blue Moon)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

I never think to use my crock pot in the summer, but it makes sense! You throw everything in and just let it go while you’re out doing fun summer things! Or in my case, rehearsing my presentations for my final exam this week. Talking to yourself all day is straight up depressing, so knowing I have pork waiting for me for dinner helps a little.

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I cooked this for about 4 hours on low and then 2 hours on high. You could do 8 hours on low, 4-5 hours on high, etc.

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Ultimately I’m glad I didn’t just slather it in sauce, I was able to make it more versatile. Night 1 was just straight up with some thinly sliced red onion and cilantro. I put it in a tortilla with some eggs and cheese for the GS for breakfast, and then threw some in a grill pan with onions and made quesadillas out of it.

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Do we think powder blue eye shadow is coming back in style any time soon? No? Got it.

ramen noodle salad

This one is coming from Phoenix! Holy hell it’s hot here. I landed last night at midnight and it was still ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN DEGREES outside. Then I had the creepiest Lyft driver ever who kept asking why I was being quiet and I was like “Uhh it feels like 3 AM to me, I was on a wine tour all day for my sister’s bachelorette, and you’re a stranger.”

Okay I didn’t say the last part. I have manners.

Last week I was in Massachusetts, then I flew to Syracuse for Kelly’s bridal shower and bachelorette which was the most fun weekend ever. There was a selfie stick.

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Unfortunately, after said wine tour, I had to spend 6+ hours on planes coming to Phoenix. Let’s just say being drunk on a plane is overrated, especially when you’re hungover on the next one.

I’m using my jet lag as an excuse for the laziness of this post.

  1. I did not invent this recipe in any way. I didn’t even really change it, except for the proportions. More edamame and less ramen noodles. I could eat edamame by the pound. I also used barely any dressing- the recipe makes a lot.
  2. The pictures are rough, I know. Camp lighting is bad? I don’t know.
  3. But wait wait! This is seriously awesome. So yummy that the blushing bride ate the leftovers for breakfast on Sunday.

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It’s healthy and crunchy and has so many flavorful things!

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I’m almost positive this is my last long trip. Looking forward to being done with my training period and getting back in the kitchen. Especially since Kelly got a lot of awesome kitchen stuff for her shower, like a KITCHEN AID.

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HELLO LOVER.

Just in case I didn’t convince you, here’s one of my favorite mini chefs fixing up some ramen salad!

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chicken cordon bleu sandwich

Last weekend, my family came down to visit Baltimore and DC, and then attend a family wedding in Virginia on Sunday. They got to do all the touristy things: the aquarium, the science museum, and an O’s game in Baltimore, and then the DC monuments and Arlington National Cemetery the following day.

We stopped by the GS’ apartment for a drink after scoping out the Lincoln Memorial, and grabbed sandwiches at a little place called Sundevich in his neighborhood. DC folks- must try. It’s literally in an alley, so you have to be looking for it.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Kevin is a really picky eater, so on a menu with 15+ creatively mouthwatering sandwiches, Kevin requested “just plain grilled cheese.”

The woman behind the counter said they don’t do grilled cheese because they don’t have a panini press. She offered him just a plain ham and cheese on a roll. Kid didn’t even want mustard on it.

Kevin proclaimed that he had “never had ham before” and “will never eat ham again because how could it possibly be better than this?”

Easy to please, much?

His high praise put me in the mood for ham, and then I remembered when my mom used to make chicken cordon bleu when we were growing up. I’m pretty sure it was one of those meals that Kelly would gag over because it had cheese in it, but that I would inhale. Although I’ve stuffed chicken with things before, it’s a pretty high maintenance task.

After attending a wedding on Saturday night I was feeling a little.. ill.. yesterday, I needed something easy for dinner.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwiches

2 pretzel rolls (or whatever roll you’re in the mood for)

3-4 very thinly sliced chicken breasts, prepared like this

1/4 pound thinly sliced ham or prosciutto

Swiss cheese

Dijon mustard

This is stupid easy. First fry the chicken (dredge in egg, then mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese).


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Layer the chicken, then ham, then cheese on your roll.

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Place under the broiler or in a toaster oven to melt the cheese. Spread with Dijon mustard, and serve.

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Hangover proof.

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Hey Sundevich, call me if you’re hiring.

tzatziki chicken salad

How is it already August?

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that this summer is flying given that I’ve been flying all over the place every week. This week I’m going to Philly which means I’m driving and I can already taste the freedom of just good old fashioned traffic.

On my red-eye back from California a few weeks ago, I ended up with an entire row of seats to myself. WHAT?! That never happens. I patiently sat with my feet firmly planted for take-off, with plans of pulling up those arm rests and sprawling out with my neck pillow and airline blanket for a solid 5 hours of mediocre shut-eye.

Right before we were taking off, I heard voices behind me. “Is there anyone sitting in the row in front of us?” “Yeah, just one person.”

Before I knew it, a girl scooted around and plunked herself in the aisle seat in my precious row. I thought, okay. I can deal. I still have the middle seat.

But just as we were getting up to our cruising altitude, this devil disguised as a teenager pulled up the armrests and laid down in the middle seat. MY MIDDLE SEAT. And didn’t move for the entire flight.

Even if I were the type of person who could sleep on a plane with my head rested against the window (I’m not) I was so mad at this rule breaker that I almost raised my hand for a flight attendant to report the injustice. Instead I sat there steaming and sleepy.

Another, lesser issue I have with travel is eating. I know I posted about eating and exercising while traveling a few weeks ago, and I still think I’ve been pretty successful with it. (The person I traveled with in Tulsa said the average employee gains 7-15 pounds during their training period- no thank you.) But eating out all the time is still kind of a drag.

I’ve definitely been to some good restaurants and it’s fun to explore the food in other cities, but I like to have control over what I’m eating. I know those of you who know me in real life are thinking, “Wait, she likes to be in control?! I don’t believe it.”

So when I’m home and cooking for myself, I try to make simple and healthy stuff. Enter, chicken salad.

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Tzatziki Chicken Salad

3 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded

1 container plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

2-3 tablespoons light mayo

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped with seeds removed

3-4 tbs finely chopped red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbs chopped fresh dill

1/2 tsp dried oregano

handful cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup crumbled feta

salt and pepper to taste

pita bread for serving (or lettuce cups! this would be great)

This is pretty self explanatory. Cook chicken. Chop other stuff. Stir together. Season to taste. Chill before serving.

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Is there a better word out there than tzatziki? I think not.

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two easy summer staples

GUESS WHAT?

Yesterday was my 4 year Spill the Beans Blog-iversary. Can you believe it? That means you must have wasted hours of your life reading my words over the last four years.

It’s been a really fun thing for me to do, and I definitely think it has forced me to get a little creative in the kitchen. I still have days (yesterday) where I go to the grocery store and feel completely uninspired and end up making buffalo chicken salad for dinner. Crowd pleaser, 100% of the time.

But other days I get all excited about creating something new, taking mediocre photos with my iPhone, and sharing it with you along with some anecdote about my largely unexciting life. It’s all very glamorous.

Speaking of glamorous, tomorrow I get to go to Tulsa. The Paris of Oklahoma! (Name that reference.) (Hint: I only ever reference one TV show).

I’m only going for two days, but I’m pretty excited about it. I’m also really tempted right now to make some sort of segue between going to the panhandle state and using a pan in the kitchen…

But I won’t.

What I will tell you is that Kelly and Aaron and I have had family dinner for the last 5 nights in a row! This is a record. We invited Ethan for the last 3 of them, too. This was night 1. Kelly actually cooked on night 2 and may be making an appearance as a guest blogger with that recipe. Stay tuned.

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I came up with this random collection of spices and used it as a dry rub for salmon (above) and pork chops for another night. It’s got a good smoky flavor that works really well on the grill. I didn’t actually measure anything (worst recipe creator ever) but I’ll guesstimate for you here:

1 tbs smoked paprika

1 tbs garlic powder

1/2 tsp dried mustard

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

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Of course you can increase these quantities based on how much meat/fish/chicken/tofu you’re grilling. I patted the fish/pork dry, then coated both sides with the dry rub and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before grilling. Worked like a charm.

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The second summer staple is pineapple salsa! You know this is my favorite way to have it, but a quick salsa with your main course always makes things look fancier.

1 pineapple, chopped

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tbs cilantro, chopped

juice of 1/2 lime

salt and pepper to taste

I thought about grilling the pineapple on skewers and then chopping it, but didn’t have the patience. I love the look of grill marks, but it definitely makes the pineapple sweeter so I think I would consider adding some diced jalapeno to the mix if you decide to grill it.

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Thanks for sticking with me. Here’s to another four years of my nonsense!

eggplant burrata bruschetta

I saw something very offensive in a grocery store in DC a few weeks ago.

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WHY in the middle of summer is my only option for basil a few old leaves in a plastic container?! I was furious.

This is more like it. A+, Wegmans.

basilI was able to work from home in Camillus last week, and was pleasantly surprised when I returned to Baltimore to find that Kelly had been watering my basil plant for me. Speaking of Kelly…

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Her first bridal shower was this weekend! Three generations of Hale ladies right there. It was really nice, and somehow made the fact that she’s getting married seem very real. More real than when she was trying on wedding dresses? I don’t know why.

Anyway, the bride-to-be had been watering my basil plant, and I knew I wanted to use it for last night’s dinner. The GS and I went to the store in pursuit of other ingredients that go with basil. Otherwise known as, anything.

When you go to the grocery store immediately after reading this post to buy all the ingredients I used and make the exact same thing (that’s how the blogger-reader relationship works, right?), you may be surprised by how pricey burrata is. You’re going to think to yourself, “Wow, she really does have a job now!”

Certain things are worth a splurge. I had it for the first time in Rhode Island over the 4th of July, and fell in love.

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That’s the stuff. I had fresh basil, heavenly cheese, and given that it’s summertime I needed some kind of grilled element. Even though it was 100 bajillion degrees outside yesterday and I didn’t really want to stand next to a grill. That’s what boyfriends are for!

Just kidding!! I went outside to bring him the tongs.

We also grilled chicken thighs with our bruschetta. Bone-in, skin-on. Cheap on the protein, splurge on the dairy.

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Eggplant Burrata Bruschetta

1 eggplant, skin removed and sliced thinly

3 tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped

burrata cheese

baguette

olive oil, salt, pepper

Peel the eggplant and slice lengthwise into about 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Chop the tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Once the eggplant has cooled slightly, chop into bite sized pieces. eggplantStir with tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Brush baguette with butter or olive oil and toast. Spread with a little bit of burrata, and the bruschetta mixture.

I’m leaving later today for California, so I contemplated bringing the leftovers with me on the plane for dinner. I felt confident that whoever was sitting next to me would appreciate both the garlic smell and the mess I would undoubtedly create by assembling my bruschetta in the confines of an airplane seat.

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The GS said this was a bad idea and that maybe I should start using my corporate AmEx to expense my business meals instead of packing my own lunches and dinners because my company is not going to give me an award for being the most frugal employee.

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I think someone just wanted to take the leftovers back to DC.