Learning to Love the Kitchen

*Linking up to WIAW to share my recent dinners and journey in the kitchen*

Before I started cooking for myself the kitchen simply, but very importantly, housed food. Let me rephrase that, the kitchen housed already made food. I would walk in, open the fridge, see nothing prepared – only ingredients – and declare there was nothing to eat. Ok, sometimes I still do that. Anyone else?



I was intimated by cooking. Boiling water, a hot oven, tons of sharp tools and raw meat did not appeal to me. Plus, when I did help my mom with dinner, it was stressful, exhausting, I asked a billion questions and still nothing ever came out perfect.


Lemon tarragon chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini noodles with almonds, basil and broccoli in a dijon dressing.

When I first moved into my apartment sophomore year, most of my meals did not taste good. Basic chicken came out dry, burnt, undercooked or flavorless. I ruined my baking sheet and sautéing pan because I didn’t use enough oil and they got overheated. As a result of these “failures,” I ate at Whole Foods multiple times a week. Goodbye, paycheck.


Dijon-lemon salmon, roasted broccoli with lemon, roasted sweet potato topped with coconut oil and cinnamon.

After a year and a half I still have a long way to go, but I’m improving. I’ve gotten to know the levels of my stove, when the burner is ready, and what temperature works best for baking in my oven (although I still have many mishaps with that). I’ve ventured into the spice aisle, tried new-to-me foods and purchased what I consider “extravagant” kitchen gadgets: multiple sizes of knives, a spiralizer, and soon, a food processor.


Honey mustard salmon (which broke when transferring to the plate), roasted sweet potato, roasted cauliflower with turmeric

I still eat generally the same things for reasons of price, taste preference and skill level, but slowly I’ve branched out.While I still have a lot to learn, particularly how to cook protein other than chicken and fish, I don’t get bored with my meals like I did last year. I add flavor, oil, and sauces as well as vary cooking technique. Things actually come out edible…major win!

It takes an effort to get in the kitchen, yet it’s not stressful. When I’m in the mood to cook I really enjoy it. Let’s not jump to conclusions and assume I’m going to cook for myself when I’m home for spring break (sorry, mom) but I might experiment more ;) I’m proud of how far I’ve come but most importantly, I’m excited to learn more, try more and eat more. Who’s with me on that?!

What is your must-have kitchen gadget?

What is your go-to spice (other than salt and pepper)? Rosemary.

(Tues) Day in the Life

I love reading other blogger’s “day in the life” posts for a quick glimpse into, well, the life behind the blog. We’re all nosy, right?

Here is a typical Tuesday for me…including my meals of course. My Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s are the busiest days so next time I’ll switch it up.

*Check out Jenn’s blog for more food ideas*

6:52 a.m. (yes exactly)- Wake up without an alarm. This is the latest I’ve slept in without an alarm in a long time. Sad truth.

7 a.m. - Scroll through social media and watch the opening of the Today Show. I’m convinced I have an internal alarm clock that wakes me up right before the Today Show starts.

7:15 a.m. - Make and eat breakfast (the usual two bowls of oatmeal, peanut butter and fruit). Read some blogs while eating.

The day I don’t eat this for breakfast is the day the world ends.


8:00 a.m. - Finish up my sports law reading for class. As much as I love sports, I just can’t get into the “law” aspect.

8:30 a.m. – Pack lunch/snacks/bags and make myself look somewhat decent. Keyword: somewhat.

9:00 a.m. – Leave for campus

9:30 a.m.- 1:45 p.m. - Class. Fun stuff. First it’s sports law, then communication law, followed by a review-writing class. For that class our assignments are reviews of movies, books, TV shows, restaurants, plays, etc. Actually sitting in class is kind of pointless because all of our learning/work is done outside the classroom.

**12:15 – 12:30 p.m. (in between class)**- Eat lunch, finally. As you can see from my Target plastic bag lunchbox, I’m very fancy. Today I had a salad with walnuts, deli turkey, tomatoes and (hidden) avocado with balsamic vinegar. Carrots on the side.

2 – 4 p.m. – Work. While at work I ate a KIND bar and tried a new-to-me gluten-free cookie (unintentional rhyme). The cookies were stale/cardboard like but it could be because someone left the box open. I can’t fairly rate them yet.

KIND bar

Gluten free cookies

4 – 5 p.m. – I contemplated running but decided I’d rather walk while talking to my mom and sister. I caught up with them while walking around campus. My legs are so stiff after sitting all day so walking felt good.

5:15 p.m. – Arrive back to my apartment and start homework.

6:00 p.m. – Dinner! On Monday I made dinner to (hopefully) last me three meals. I had zucchini noodles with sautéed chicken, tomato sauce, spinach, broccoli and 1/2 avocado. Delicious… I went back for seconds.

6:20 p.m. – Quickly catch up with my dad on his way home from work. Today was the first time in a while I spoke to my entire family. Yes, I even said hi to my dog. I text them 24/7 but talking on the phone is so much better.

6: 30 p.m. – Begin typing this post.

6: 45 – 8: 15 p.m. – Homework, homework, homework. The usual.

8:15 p.m. – Eat an apple with peanut butter. I’ve been branching out with my nut butters and am currently loving plain ol’ Smucker’s. I actually bought two jars – one to refrigerate and one to keep in the pantry. Thank goodness because one will be gone tomorrow…lasted me less than a week.

8:30 p.m. – Read some blogs, answer some emails.

9:15 p.m. – Finish up this post and finalize my spin playlist for class.

9:45 p.m. – Hop in bed and watch last night’s Jimmy Fallon. I TiVo Fallon every night and watch it the following day.  11:30 is just way too late for me. I’m guessing I’ll fall asleep 30 minutes into the show, but I’ll be sure to update you in the morning….

How long does it take you to fall asleep? If I’m not watching TV, 5-10 minutes.

Death By Beets

Warning: Beets are messy. They stain. They look like blood.

I experimented spiralizing beets last weekend and while they came out good, it required more effort than I was expecting. Especially on the clean up side.

IMG_0433 IMG_0434 IMG_0435

Murder scene or handling beets? You decide.

Everything came off (eventually) but required extra scrubbing. I’ll remember that next time I tackle beets.

Now for other food related items..


I FINALLY tried Nuttzo. I’ve seen it on practically every blog for the last year so I wanted to see what the hype was about. It’s really good. But it’s really expensive. I’ve never shelled out anywhere near that much money for a jar of peanut butter in my life. I got the original flavor but would like to try the peanut free one next time. I need to factor this into my budget if I continue on this train.


Last week was all about chicken. This week it was salmon. A few weeks ago I bought a package of frozen salmon from Whole Foods and forgot it was in the freezer. Winner-winner.

This was honey mustard salmon (honey + mustard + coconut oil + salt + pepper), roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes in coconut oil.


Lemon-rosemary salmon with quinoa (cooked with half chicken broth half water) and zucchini noodles sautéed in a rosemary flavored olive oil.


And I now have a food processor on my list of things to buy next because so many recipes require it. But I’m in a dilemma because I’m running out of storage in my apartment (such a #firstworldproblem). I wanted to make an avocado or pesto sauce but I didn’t have a blender. Also, most homemade bars are made from dates and you need a processor to turn them into a paste. (I think??). Maybe I can do some rearranging and figure out a system. I say that now…

What are your favorite nut butter brands? I’ve been a Skippy Natural addict for years. I’m adding to my list now.

Do you own/use a food processor? Is it worth the investment and rearranging?