Food Products I'm Loving Lately

Friday, March 8, 2013

I thought it would be fun to share some products that are my favorite at the moment.  I'll write this post once a month to share new items that I discover and become obsessed with... because I loove finding new food items, especially in stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes.  Unfortunately, there are none of those up here in Plattsburgh.. just good ol' Price Chopper and Hannaford (my wallet is very fortunate).  But I make do and am always grateful for care packages from my mom ;) (**hint hint, MOM). 
First up--Trader Joe's Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk.  My favorite part about driving home from NJ (the only part that I actually like) is stopping at Trader Joes in Paramus.  This is my first time trying this product and I LOVE it.  I use it in my cereal and it is creamy, not sweet, with just a hint of vanilla!
 I looove my pumpkin spice coffee from Green Mountain.  It is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.  I'm seriously bummed that the huge supply I stocked up on in the fall is almost gone.  I'll have to wait until September :(
 Yea Yea, I know..I'm a chef so why would I need jarred marinara???  Well, because this marinara is insanely good and ..c'mon I cook all day, can't a girl catch a break?
 This basting oil from Wegman's is my favorite to add to veggies before roasting.  It gives a nice herby, fresh flavor . I found 2 bottles of these in a cabinet at work today while cleaning and thought "JACKPOT!!"  then saw the expiration date was "10/08"..yuck!
 I put this truffle salt from Napa Valley on EVERYTHING!   I <3 truffle="">
 Another favorite from Trader Joe's: Spinach & kale greek yogurt dip.   I love the leaves of kale throughout the dip and the fresh veggies.  This dip is so good for you and is soo soo delicious!
 Egg  beaters isn't the most "natural" product in the world... I do love my whole organic eggs.. but these come already seasoned with peppers and onions already in it... CONVENIENT AND DELICIOUS!  Add some cheese on those and you've got yourself a tasty breakfast!
 I love these fire roasted crushed tomatoes that I get at the local co-op.  I'm usually not a fan of adding the fire roasted diced tomatoes to anything except something like chili, but these tomatoes make a great sauce (when I'm not using the Rao's jarred sauce ;) )
My favorite cheese of all time.. I can't pronounce it, but boy is it good....AND I can get it at the local grocery store in Plattsburgh!   My mom and I ate a whole wedge during cocktail hour one night... I added truffle honey to it and it was absolutely divine with a glass of malbec..mmm.  

Well that's it for now.. betcha wanna go to the food store now and get all of these things huh? 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Looking back on previous posts, I notice that I say "y'all"   A LOT!  Apparantly, when I came back from living in North Carolina I picked up a bit of an accent.   You will not hear that word come out of my mouth lately!  I have stuck to my northern roots and actually migrated even more north to Plattsburgh, NY. 

In August of last year I received a job offer at "Culinary Health Investors" up here in Plattsburgh.  Plattsburgh is wayyyy up north (about an hour south of Montreal)  and VERY cold.   But it is beautiful up here and I have adjusted nicely.  I have an apartment right by Lake Champlain and a short 8 minute commute to work. 

I discussed the nature of my work as an R&D chef in this post last year, but since I am at a different company my work is more concentrated on developing recipes as well as formulating the nutrition label and calculating pricing for the meals.   No more making staff lunch or working on side catering jobs.  Most of my day is spent in my test kitchen, which is adjacent to my work space where I just so happen to have a desk next to my best friend Nikki who just happens to be the purchasing director and just so happened to start working here right about the same time I did.

Right outside of my test kitchen is the big plant where thousands of meals are being made.  It is an extremely sterile enviornment so lab coats and hair nets must be worn at all times.  My mom came to visit a month or so ago and I gave her a tour.  When I told her she had to wear a hair net she was mortified and asked if she can at least stick her bangs out!  No, Mom..this isn't a fashion runway.. everbody's wearing the same thing and nobody will think you look weird :)   What do Y'ALL think (sorry I had to):

I'll get more into some of the meals I make in later posts.   I mostly make diet meals, specifically for a diet program called "Bistro MD", which is based down in Florida and for a new Campbells diet/medical program.  Lately I have also been working on different projects for Marlees Seafood, Ahold, Costco, and Weight Watchers.

I'm off to relax for the rest of the night!  I'll be back with more fun posts! :)

Hello again!

Monday, March 4, 2013

This is an extremely hard post to write... how do you write your first post in 2 1/2 years after spending a year blogging every single day?  Well that's half true because I did start a new blog "culinary diaries" last year, but my heart just wasn't into it.  I have been debating starting my blog again for the past year and needed the right moment to feel that motivation and passion for food again.

Of course going through culinary school and completing a glamorous internship is FUN to talk about.  It was an adventure I've always dreamed about and I loved sharing it with my friends, family, and the world.  However, after my internship I entered the not so glamorous life of working in the restaurant industry.  My life consisted of looong hours, constantly smelling like food, sore and tired all the time from the hard labor, and just plain blahhh.   Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't take back anything.. every job I've had has tought me so much, especially the toughest one of working as a sous chef in a kitchen/catering company.   Man oh man did I learn a lot!

So what made me start blogging again?   I had a moment.   This moment took place over the weekend while I was visiting my parents in NJ.  The Saturday I was there was the best day ever.. you know those days where you're going to bed and you just think "I wish I could wake up and it would be today again because today was awesome!".. yup that was Saturday.   I woke up nice and fresh from a wonderful nights sleep (thanks to some benedryl and cough medicine from a cold I was still recovering from... it may have made me say some straaaange things to my mom the night before!).  I had an awesome workout that made me feel like I was ready to conquer the world!  My mom and I went for a nice walk around Asbury Park and had a healthy lunch at a vegan restaurant in town and then lounged and watched a movie with some hot tea.  At 5:00 it was cocktail hour (things never change in the Zick household) and as always we sipped on some fabulous red wine and delectable snacks (that have become more healthy and gluten free as the years progressed).   Then the three of us were on our way to Portofino, a favorite local Italian restaurant.   I have written a restaurant review in the past of Portofino here.  But have visited several other times and never had the same bad service as the past review reads.   Until this past Saturday night.  The restaurant was busy... but I mean it was Saturday night and they've been open long enough to be able to handle the crowd, right?  Our waiter was clearly stressed out and our food took hours to arrive!   I had no problem with this at the time because, well, there was at least wine on the table right?   My mom and I may have indulged a bit, but it was all in good fun and at least here I am writing again because of it! As we stumbled hand in hand to the bathroom (the single person bathroom) and telling each other "don't look!!!!", I really did appreciate how lucky I am to have my best friend as a mom.. someone who motivates me every day to do what I love, tells me  I'm beautiful, and will do anything to see me happy.   She's also someone I can exclaim to "let's take shots!!!" as we are heading back to my poor dad at the dinner table waiting for his 2 drunks dates to return, and she politely declines, saying "um I don't think that's a good idea sweetie".

As we patiently (very patiently, too patiently) waited for our food to arrive (well, I can't speak for everyone because my mom kept winking at the waiter saying "drinks on the house??????")   we read my review on my blog from the last time we experienced this bad of service.   I loved reading my blog again and it got me to read even more entries.  I noticed the passion in my voice and had a flashback of the excitement I had when I would return home from school or from a restaurant and be soooo excited to blog about it, to write down everything in my head, to share my passion with everyone else.  I want that again.  I still have that passion, the witty sense of humor, and even more knowledge of food and this industry that I want to share with all of you.  Please join me on this journey as I show you how I create recipes (for my job and for just myself).  I can't wait to make this blog new and exciting and full of recipes, restaurant reviews, and stories of my crazy life!

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