thesmilinlife

Thoughts of a 20-something


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oh my crab cakes…

I LOVE SEAFOOD

just putting it out there. Life would be bland and boring without seafood and it makes me happy. I once went an entire day having seafood for every meal. Breakfast was a crab omelet, lunch was shrimp and dinner was fish. I was the happiest girl alive. And one of the best things about seafood is crab cakes.

Whoever invented the crab cake is amazing. I want to go back in time and thank them personally. shake their hand and split a delicious crab cake with them. YUM. So here’s a version (gluten-free) that a friend shared with me. I made a few tweaks and added some things, and here’s my version.

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please excuse the messy paper plate – I’m in the process of moving!

Ingredients:
1 can lump crab meat
1 egg
1/2 tsp garlic
dash each salt, pepper, hot sauce
zest from 1/2 lime
3 tbsp scallions or green onions

Drain crab meat and pat dry. In a bowl, whisk all other ingredients together. Fold in crab meat. Using hands, cut in half and form two patties. (Do one at a time so you don’t dirty another dish)

In a pre-heated pan with a tablespoon of oil in it on medium-high, place one of the patties. Cook until both sides are golden brown. Take out and do the other one. enjoy! YUM!!!

I love love love this. it’s not bready. It’s not heavy. It’s kind of omelettey but not eggy so it’s not. ahhhh I love it. And as an accompaniment (gotta get veggies) I made my super easy roasted broccoli:

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also delicious. The only ingredients are broccoli, salt, pepper and evoo. Cut broccoli into spears. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan lined with foil. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the stem part goes in fairly easily. serve immediately. It’s delicious as is, but I top mine with Parmesan shreds. MMMMM

The broccoli is crispy but tender and sooo delicious. Made a great side to the crab cakes. This lunch makes me smile. 😀

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Easiest Buffalo Chicken Pizza Ever & a Delicious Hard Cider

I love pizza. seriously… it’s ridiculous how much I love pizza. It’s so convenient and easy and carb-y goodness. And nothing goes better with pizza than an ice cold beer.

Then tragedy strikes and I’m gluten free! So pizza is no longer as easy as calling Pizza Hut and ordering delivery. Beer is no longer as easy as going to the local store and grabbing a 6-pack. It actually takes some forethought.

So cue last night when I’m STARVING, craving pizza and beer (hello it’s like 9 million degrees outside of course I want an ice cold beer) and don’t want to leave the house. Luckily, I had picked up a few of these the day before:

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OH WOW! They’re so good and gluten-free! I am not a huge fan of hard cider… Most of them I find too heavy and sweet, not light and refreshing. This is exactly the opposite. With only 120 calories per bottle and a light refreshing flavor that’s not too sweet or heavy, I could have a couple of these and not feel so full. DELICIOUS summer drink for those of us who can’t enjoy a Corona.

Then I had to tackle what to eat. After opening my cabinets and freezer, I found a GF pizza crust and decided to throw this baby together:

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Easiest pizza ever, and very good!

Ingredients:
Pizza crust of choice (shown is Udi’s personal pan GF pizza crust)
1 can chicken breast meat
Franks Red Hot
Bleu Cheese
marinara sauce
mozzarella cheese

Before assembling pizza, drain the chicken meat and pat dry. In a bowl, coat with Frank’s Hot Sauce to taste. I then popped it into the toaster oven on broil, to soak up some of the moisture. I don’t like soggy meat!

Prepare dough as instructed. Once dough is done, Top with marinara sauce and cheese. When chicken meat is a little drier, put on top. Put pizza in oven until cheese is melted. Take out and crumble Bleu Cheese on top. That’s it!

I use ranch dressing to dip my pizza in because… I like a lot of spicy and it was overpowering at some points. yumyum.

and on another note: I started packing and moving today and I’ve been super stressed out. I stress badly, as in panic attacks… I found this in an old purse:

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So true, and so needed on a day like today! ❤


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The Best Summer-time Salad

There was a cute restaurant near my family called Noodles and CO. that my aunt and I would frequent. I always got the Thai peanut noodles with chicken and she always got a dumplings and a salad. She would rotate between a few different salads and one day decided to try a new one, the Spinach Pear salad.

It quickly became her go to salad and it wasn’t very difficult to duplicate (as in ridiculously easy). The flavors go together SO well, so I’m sharing this delicious salad with you. It’s so worth making and is fantastic for hot summer days (like it has been recently)

One taste and you’ll be hooked.

It’s basic and delicious. mmm

Ingredients: Baby Spinach
Pear (ripe)
walnuts
Bleu Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar reduction*

Before you start setting up the salad, you want to toast your walnuts. It’s a very small thing to do that really adds to the taste. I just put some tin foil on a toaster pan, crumble walnuts onto the foil and toast them in my toaster oven. You can do it in a regular oven as well. Note that this isn’t a necessary thing to do but it makes the walnuts extra crunchy and oh so delicious.

To put the salad together, set up your bed of spinach and top with sliced (or diced) pears. Crumble Bleu cheese on top. Top with crushed and toasted walnuts. Drizzle with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

*to make the balsamic vinegar reduction, slowly heat balsamic vinegar on the stove until it has reduced by half. You need to do this slow, because it can burn very easily. So worth doing though. I have also used Balsamic Condimenti like this one, which is basically already reduced balsamic vinegar (but it’s expensive. I would never have it if my aunt didn’t buy it for me regularly haha.)

 

That’s it! I was surprised that even T liked this (I made it for him last night to go with our pizzas!) Such a great side and so easy to throw together.

Tonight I need to use up the rest of that bleu cheese. Any suggestions?


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Hummus wrap

While I was living at home with my parents, I got super attached to the fridge. It was always stocked, full of delicious goodies and no one noticed if you stole something.

After my mom’s accident, though, the fridge was not as bountiful as it used to be. So one day I came home from school, starving and decided to make myself something yummy. I opened the fridge and saw… Nothing good. Ugh. After scrounging a bit, I found some Hummus. Opening up the produce drawer, I saw some veggies that needed eating. And thus came my Hummus wrap.

Now, I know its nothing unique or special, really. But its delicious and just what I need on hot days.

Ingredients:
Wrap (I used to use wheat wraps but now use corn to stay GF. Just microwave it for 15 seconds so it doesn’t fall apart on you.)
Hummus of your choice
Veggies (i usually use red pepper, snow peas, spinnach, broccoli… Honestly whatever I have at the time!)
Salsa

Spread Hummus on wrap and top with veggies. Spoon a couple tsps of salsa on top for flavor.

Now I won’t lie, its not the easiest thing to eat. But its so delicious I don’t even mind. One whole wrap is only about 150 calories (and so healthy that it should be 0) YUM!

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(this wrap had spinach and snow peas in it. I ran out of peppers)


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Oh, College

I was thinking last week about how very different my life is since I’ve graduated. It’s completely true what they say, that college is the very best time of your life. I mean, it’s the tine of no cares. You get up when you want to, go to class if you want to, do your homework if you want to, live where you want to… Freedom unlike any other. I’d never had this much choices! Of course, our choices have consequences which you don’t always think of or worry about.

I remember for one of my birthdays, I went out alllllll night, completely aware but not caring that I had a midterm exam the following day. Such is the life of a college student. (I passed it with a B+, btw!)

I think what I miss most, though, is just the accessibility of my friends and convenience of location. Now that I’m an adult, seeing my friends takes planning, driving, money… In college, chances are your friends are just down the hallway or in the next room. At worst, it was a bus ride away. But everyone’s door was always open and you had the freedom of say, going to Friendly’s at 12am because you really want an ice cream. Or going to a bad on a Tuesday and having your friends available and willing.

I miss dancing around my room getting ready to go out at night, enjoying a drink with friends and singing at the top of my lungs to the newest song. I miss study groups at the local coffee shop. I miss dancing at clubs and freedom. I miss knowing that my friends are doing the same thing as I am at that moment, and having everyone’s schedule synced up so that we could sleep in on Thursday in order to go to ladies’ night on Wednesday.

When did I grow up and become an adult, and why did it have to go by so fast??!!!


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French toast!

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Cinnamon raisin French toast…

I love French toast. I love everything about it. The sweet delicious bread that’s cooked a little then topped with New York maple syrup (my grandmother lives on a farm where we get the syrup… I’m spoiled with REAL and delicious syrup)

So then I become gluten free and I was so sad. No more French toast? Luckily rudi’s makes a cinnamon raisin bread (freezer section) that’s surprisingly good! So I decided to make French toast with it.

The secret to French toast is the batter. The staple ingredient is obviously egg, and you can stop there. Personally, I add a bit of milk and cinnamon and my secret ingredient: vanilla. I also add a dash of evoo to the mixture to help keep it from sticking to the pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side over medium heat or until both sides are a nice golden brown.  Yum Yum Yum!


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Grilling Sunday

This weekend was wonderful. T and I went to the delicious dinner theater, Saturday was an impromptu theme park trip and Sunday we spent all morning with his family and all evening with each other. It’s always sad when he leaves.

For our one-year dating anniversary, I got T a charcoal grill. I can’t tell you how much use we’ve gotten out of it since then, but we’ve definitely gone through 2-3 bags of charcoal. As such, we have decided to make Sundays grilling days.

Now, I don’t eat steak. Don’t like it. Chicken? Chicken is delicious. Fish, yum. Occasional burger, but this severely limits my grilling capabilities. Luckily, T has gotten the art of grilling chicken down to a science. He truly is a grill master.

This dinner plate was so full of delicious. We often collaborate when grilling in that I will make the sides which leaves him to focus on the meat. He marinated the chicken in Caribbean Jerk marinade that had a splash of soy sauce in it (all gluten free! check your marinade before you use it… surprisingly the one I had had soy sauce in it!). It was so juicy and delicious that I saved it as my last bite. (I am a big supporter of the idea that the last bite should be the thing you want your mouth to taste like after you’re done eating. Save the best for last!

To make the asparagus easy to grill, I wrapped it in tin foil with some olive oil, roasted red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. I was a little heavy-handed on the red pepper, but it was still good! The quinoa is from a container (I can’t remember who makes it, but I found it at Harris Teeter for about $6. The container said it would feed 4 but it would definitely give a good sized serving to 6-8!) and had sliced almonds and raisins in it and was delicious.

Dinner was… yum. But the best part of the meal was definitely dessert.

These were… so incredible. T was giggling with pleasure (which is hilarious to watch and something I’ve never seen before). The peaches were juicy and so well complimented by the vanilla bean ice cream… YUM.

to make: Cut peaches in half and pit them (I am not good at this that is why they aren’t halves but are in fact slices. This works just as well!)
make a basting mixture of the following:
2Tbsp reduced balsamic vinegar (you can buy this or make it by cooking balsamic vinegar in a pan on the stove on very LOW heat. it’s a slow process but so worth it. it brings out the flavors and makes it thicker. very good)
1Tbsp maple syrup
1Tbsp vanilla
1Tbsp apricot/peach/passion fruit jam (or some other citrusy jam)
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

place the peaches on the grill, brush the tops with the mixture, flip, brush again. when both sides have slight grill marks, take them off the grill, put in bowls and top with vanilla bean ice cream.

I highly recommend them as a dessert. They were light and refreshing and a great way to end a summer night. Needless to say, these will be made again. T actually said he wants to make it for my family the next time we go to visit, and wants to make my sister jealous (even though her husband is a chef!!!)

Everything above is gluten free and was delicious. YUM
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and life is good. 😀