link roundup for the week

Straight from The Kitchn: the best way to measure fresh herbs.

Allie of Eat Run Read got to attend a fancy dinner hosted Chobani– all the dishes contained the Greek yogurt. Now that is smart marketing 🙂 I may or may not have my own little Chobani posts in the works 🙂 In the meantime, follow my Chobani updates on Twitter!

Still confused about giving up gluten? Here’s a little crash course.

Be careful not to make these 3 LinkedIn blunders when job searching!

From The New Professional- four questions to ask when you’re lacking direction (this one’s for you, recent grads!).

In the mood to shed a few tears? Check out these 75 day-brightening stories of generosity.

I’m going to be the best party guest ever when I show up with these homemade watermelon mojito popsicles! Maybe I’ll bring these bangin’ shrimp skewers too 🙂

I stumbled across the Happiness Project awhile back and fell in love with Gretchen’s approach to life- she spent a year “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.” Here are 7 ways she sparks her creativity {I need these when I’m feelin’ uninspired}.

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field trip to the nc farmers’ market

As I mentioned, we spent Sunday morning at the State Farmers’ Market, where, shockingly, I’d never been. As an avid cook, I knew I would love the selection of unique farm-fresh ingredients. And nothing beats a Saturday morning strolling through the market- it reminds me of my childhood, when my mom and I would wake up at 6am on Saturday to go to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. I would always get a smoky red tea sample and a big chocolate chip cookie 🙂

My first time at the State Farmers’ Market Restaurant. It was a cute atmosphere with great service {the servers wear overalls!} but I wasn’t blown away by the food

 Clearly our family loves half-and-half. The restaurant should use half-and-half quarts instead of the individual packages. Much more environmentally friendly!
 Haha, typical North Carolina…the Battle of Tobacco Road
 The whole place was full of fun, kitschy decor
 Herb section of the farmers’ market
Just thought this looked cool 🙂
 My new hydrangea- my favorite flower besides peonies and daisies
 My dad’s housewarming gift for me: cilantro, basil, parsley, and dill plants. Grant total? $13! Very worth it

Though I didn’t love the restaurant’s food, it was decently priced, so I would go back for a pre-shopping brunch. It was also nice to have a giant cup of carry-out coffee to bring with me through the market on such a chilly day!

I also picked up spring onions and a pint of strawberries in addition to the flowers and herbs, which were both gifts from my dad. Potted herbs are such a good investment {if you can call $13 an investment}. A package of chopped basil is almost $3 at the grocery store, while a plant- which continually produces fresh herbs- is just $3.25.

I can’t wait to go back to the farmers’ market to load up on ingredients. I may also stop by Earp’s Seafood Market, which is a renowned hole-in-the-wall seafood store on South Saunders, on the way home!

kitchen tips

  • Cut end off garlic and push down on the clove with a knife. The skin will pop off easily.
  • Choose a butternut squash that is uniform because there will be more usable flesh.
  • Don’t toss squash seeds- clean them and roast them for 15-20 minutes at 160-170! According to Whole Foods, “By roasting them for a relatively short time at a low temperature you can help minimize damage to their healthy oils.”
  • Buy a wine pump to preserve wine for longer.
  • No fresh herbs in stock? Use 1/4 as much dried herbs.
  • Buy ginger root and freeze it whole. You can easily take it out and grate it for use in a recipe that calls for the fresh stuff.
  • Wash your cheese grater right after use. Scrubbing dried cheese off is no fun!

For more of my kitchen tips, click here!

Image: Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com via Catherine on Pinterest

my (failed) herb garden

My friend’s mom gave me an adorable DIY at-home herb garden (and an herb calendar!) because she knows how much I love to cook. I held off on planting the garden until I moved into my new place, because I didn’t want the plants to die in the move!

Looks great, right? Not so much. Within two days of planting my basil, parsley, and chives, they had grown mold and became infested with fruit flies. What the heck?

Any idea on why this happened?

Plan B: buy pre-potted plants and go from there!

Leek & Tomato Frittata

In my fridge, I had: one leek [left over from Healthy Shrimp Pasta], cherry tomatoes [that were almost past their prime], a ton of eggs [a recent photography assignment was to capture the perfect white of an egg through a technique called bracketing], & all kinds of cheese [left over from my Four Cheese Caramelized Onion Frittata].

What easier, more versatile dish to make then another frittata?

photo credit: marthastewart.com

Leek & Tomato Frittata [based off Martha Stewart’s recipe]

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Throw in 1 trimmed and chopped leek1 chopped shallot, and 1 clove of garlic ; cook for 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of halved cherry tomatoes. Cook for an additional minute.

In a small bowl, whisk 6 eggs. Add a handful of grated Gruyere cheddar melange cheese, 2 scoops of ricotta, 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper, and a handful of ripped fresh basil. Mix well. Fold in 1 tbsp of flour and about a tsp of baking powder.

Combine all ingredients in frying pan. Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 20-35 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.

recipe: shakshuka

Because I’m having withdrawal from Israel, I decided to bring the culinary goodness to my own kitchen! I found a recipe for a traditional poached egg dish, called shakshuka, on Smitten Kitchen. This is originally meant to be a breakfast dish, but it is still delicious for lunch or dinner. My friend, who’s traveled to Israel many times and had many dishes of shakshuka, loved it!

Shakshuka

photo credit: smittenkitchen.com

1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

highlights

highlights of the past few days:

  • today i got a care package in the mail from my former roommate’s mom. she is SO sweet and considerate. it had a calendar with pictures of herbs and related recipes, as well as a “make your own herb garden” kit. and the card made me tear up!
  • i can justify lying in bed reading jurassic park as “schoolwork,” because i can write an extra credit report on it for geology class
  • i had dinner with a new friend. we’re both sick of the standard gw hang out spots, so we explored new places and had some fun little adventures. we plan to make it our new tuesday night tradition after our class gets out
  • i was invited to be a writer for a new website launching at gw. the details are still up in the air as of now, but it was flattering to receive an offer
  • i was invited to speak at an event for my major. specifically, i was asked to talk about interdisciplinary work because of my interest in bridging the gap between business and non-profit work
  • just 9 days until i leave for israel!
  • the livingsocial interns have a fun happy hour planned for tomorrow night!
  • i was interviewed for bgsk college, which is launching soon

lowlights:

  • i’m still sick after almost a week! despite sipping enormous amounts of green tea, drinking theraflu, popping vitamin c drops, and taking nyquil, i’m still not feeling 100%
  • my laundry has not cleaned itself yet! what a shame

frugality at its best

As a college student living in an absurdly expensive city, I have to be frugal (even cheap sometimes). In the last four years, I have accumulated quite a stash of money-saving habits- some from books and blogs, others I’ve gleaned from friends, and still others I came up with all on my own!

To enjoy fun new restaurants without spending a fortune, I periodically purchase LivingSocial coupons (and even though they will soon be paying my bills, I promise that’s a real endorsement).

When I go to Starbucks, I buy a Pumpkin Spice Coffee instead of a Pumpkin Spice Latte (thank you to my friend Dominique for this great tip!). It saves about $2 and tastes pretty similar (even better than the latte, I think). I also have the Starbucks Gold Card, which gives me free milk, free syrup, free refills, and every 15th drink free.

Even better than the tricks above? Brew coffee at home- I’m still working up the motivation to do this 🙂

Cooking at home is an easy and fun way to save money. My policy is not to eat things at restaurants that I could easily make at home. In addition, I try not to buy “grab and go” food. Instead, I will splurge (frugally, of course) on experiences, like dinners out with friends.

There are tons of ways I save money when I grocery shop. Simple things like buying whole carrots instead of baby carrots saves about $.75 each shopping trip. When buying things like spices, take the time to compare prices. For example, Trader Joe’s has spices for $1.99, but they have a very limited collection. Safeway sells bottles that are half the size for twice as much, but they carry spices TJ’s doesn’t. Host a wine tasting party with a $6 bottle limit- you’ll find out about tons of new and affordable wines.

Adding a bit of water to dish soap makes it last longer. Reuse plastic containers, like the ones crumbled feta comes in. Don’t throw away hardened brown sugar- place the open bag of sugar next to a cup of water and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Buy a rubber oven mitt and use it for opening jars too. Grow your own herb plants– you get the great smell and save money.

Split a Netflix account with friends (or just mooch off a friend, like I do!). Cut off your cable and watch TV on your computer. Use iTunes radio or a YouTube playlist instead of downloading songs. Have a “magazine club” with friends (each person subscribes to a different magazine and then you rotate). Get a library card or find cool used bookstores in your area.

Host a bi-annual swap party with friends. The person who brings the most items gets first pick of everyone’s donated clothing, jewelry, books, movies, etc.

Use Mint.com (it’s free!) to track your purchases and multiple bank accounts. Use a credit union (they tend to have better interest).

Take up knitting and make homemade gifts for holidays and birthdays. Make Meals in a Jar for friends.

Follow people like @FrugalGirls, @thriftydccook, @frugalrocks, @kimberlywilson, and me (@cmroman) on Twitter for coupons and tips.

What are your best tricks?