Friday, September 21, 2012

Oatmeal and Cream of Chicken Soup

   This is a much overdue and highly anticipated post.  I realized this week that I have not blogged since my first weekend in Nyack...oops.  So much has happened in the 17 days since I last posted!  It's crazy how time seems to fly, yet it seems like I've been here much longer than three and a half weeks.  Since it is going to take many more than one post to catch you up to date on my crazy New York adventures, I decided to start with a food post.  My goal is to make you hungry!
      In my last post I mentioned that I spent Labor Day weekend in upstate New York babysitting my cousin Scott's girls with my other cousin Ruth.  While Ruth did all of the evening cooking, I tackled breakfast every morning.  Breakfast requires more baking skills, while dinner requires more cooking, which is why I was quick to take kitchen duty in the mornings.  The first two days were simply cereal, but I felt adventurous on Saturday, when the adorable Zoe asked for a "special breakfast" like they usually have on Saturday mornings.  I scrolled all the way down to the bottom of my "Yum!" board on Pinterest, where I had pinned a recipe for whole wheat brown sugar banana bread pancakes more than a year before.  I have to admit I was nervous about trying pancakes, since my pancakes usually end up being burned on the outside and doughy on the inside. The last thing I wanted was to disappoint the four year old sweetheart for whom I was slaving away in the kitchen at 7 o'clock on a Saturday morning.  The link for the recipe is here.  I am proud to say that the pancakes turned out better than I ever could have hoped!  I made little pancakes instead of normal-sized ones, which allowed me to ensure they were cooked all the way through.  No doughy pancakes in the house that morning!  The little darlings gobbled them up, especially the 2.5 year old, who usually takes a very long time to eat.  The lovely picture is courtesy of the blog from which I found the recipe...I forgot to photograph mine! 
On Monday morning, I made blueberry and raspberry oatmeal, which was also an instant hit! Again, the picture isn't mine, since the original looks way prettier than the pics I tried to take!
I have a recent obsession with oatmeal.  Maybe because it's cheap, easy to make, and filling.  Hence the reason two out of the five recipes I've made in my apartment include large amounts of oatmeal.  Two weeks ago, I made my own version of apple crisp, since I didn't have all of the ingredients to follow an actual recipe.  As most of you know, I am a huge fan of fall and all of the yummy treats it brings, my favorite of which is apple crisp.  I had bought 4 pounds of apples at the farmers' market and decided they were just itching to be made into an apple crisp.  I cut up four apples, spread them over melted butter in the bottom of a 7.6 x 7.6 pan (8x8 doesn't exist at the dollar store), and covered them with a mixture of old-fashioned oats, raw sugar, and butter.  I dumped cinnamon on the top (thought I was opening the "sprinkle" side...oops) and popped it into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  The result? Yumminess!
      It was the perfect dessert to complete a delicious meal of Crockpot Italian Chicken, which I served over whole wheat penne with a side of sauteed zucchini and yellow squash.  Yes, I said sauteed.  I am the queen of veggies sauteed with olive oil and garlic.  Can't go wrong with that combo!  I must say this meal is the one I am most proud of, since it's really the only time I've cooked a complete meal since being on my own.  I was so proud of it that I invited my friend Quinn to eat with me - cooing isn't nearly as fun if I'm eating alone!  Usually I'm rushing around between classes and babysitting and don't have the energy to cook.  Needless to say, I eat a lot of cereal.
      This past Tuesday, I decided to make another chicken crockpot dish because the chicken sitting in my fridge needed to be used.  I tossed two chicken breasts in the crockpot with three organic potatoes and two handfuls of baby carrots, topping it off with cream of chicken soup, chopped garlic, and Italian seasoning.  This time Kristi, who lives down the hall, took part in this yummy chicken dinner with me.  She brought ice cream for dessert....we were meant to be friends!
      So, those are my cooking adventures from the past 3 weeks.  Except for the failed apple pie oatmeal attempt two weeks ago.  Ick.  That's all for now.  Here are a few teasers for future blog posts: peanut butter and jelly, Bob Marley, ducks, New York City.  Be excited! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Adventure Continues

      So I left off last time with the story of my drive to Nyack.  I arrived in Nyack around noon last Monday.  The first thought I had when I pulled off Interstate 87 and into the city of Nyack was "crowded and dirty."  As I would discover later, that's pretty much the theme of the area.  
      I drove straight to Nyack College when I arrived, even though I wasn't checking into my on-campus apartment until 4:30 that afternoon.  I found the building where I now live and then drove in circles around the neighborhood, trying to decide what to do next.  Food.  That's what I needed.  Easier said than done, my friends.  I tried looking up restaurants on my phone and found a few Chinese places that sounded all right.  After about 20 minutes of driving the wrong direction, I turned around and headed downtown.  The streets were crowded and dirty and people were everywhere!  At that point I was too exhausted to think about finding somewhere to park and tried to focus on getting out of downtown.  I weaved my way out of the mess and back onto a main road, where I found a familiar sight: Walgreens.  "Thank the Lord!" I breathed as I pulled into the parking place and promptly called my mother.  "Mom," I said, "I want to come home."  I was done.  I wanted none of the hilly, crowded, dirty streets and strangers who seemed focused solely on their busy, fast-paced lives.  Now if you know anything about me, you know that I must be pretty desperate and upset if I'm saying that I want to return to Oklahoma.  My mother, in all her wisdom, was well aware of this fact and tried her best to reassure me as tears began streaming down my face.  She pep-talked me the best she could and after ten minutes we had come up with a game plan: call ATS, figure out where the seminary campus was, ask for recommendations for lunch.  Mom instructed me to follow through with the plan and call her back in an hour with all the details.  I hung up the phone and called the ATS admissions office.  A student answered the phone and was quite patient with me as I told her that I had just arrived in Nyack and was freaking out because I didn't know where anything was.  It turns out the Walgreens where I had parked my car out of desperation was exactly in between the college campus (where I live) and the seminary campus on exactly the same road.  After an hour, I was able to call my mother and tell her I had found the ATS campus, taken care of my financial aid, and made friends with the girl in admissions, who had offered to show me around Nyack the following evening.  She even pointed me in the direction of a McDonald's, where I inhaled a Southwestern salad and then sat in the corner on my computer for the remainder of the afternoon.  
     I checked into my apartment at 4:30 that afternoon.  It's a super cute corner apartment, which means I have a window in my kitchen!  I had planned on moving my things in right then, but it began to rain so I decided to find Target and get a few groceries so I didn't have to live on McDonald's for the week.  Also easier said than done.  I found Target fine, thanks to my GPS Pam, but finding the parking lot was a bit tricky.  The Target is in the four story Palisades Mall, which is surrounded by a giant one-way circle.  I circled the entire mall three times before I finally found the Target entrance before I passed it.  The good part was that by the time I parked my car it had stopped raining.  I went into Target and proceeded to choose the loudest cart in the fleet.  Something was wrong with the wheel and it made the a very loud thumping sound.  So not only was I in a strange town in a strange Target surrounded by strange people, each strange person stared at me when I went past due to the stupid cart.  It became increasingly apparent that I wasn't going to find everything I needed at Target, so I rushed through the store and ended up with a paring knife, two small baking dishes, and a few cleaning supplies.  I had passed a grocery store called Stop n'Shop on the way to Target and decided to stop there for food supplies.  By the time I got back to my apartment, I had been gone for 2.5 hours.  I carried my groceries upstairs and then headed back out to find dinner.  I went  back downtown and thankfully found a parking spot close to Subway, where I quickly purchased a sandwich and hurried back "home."  I then spent over an hour lugging one heavy item at a time from my car, up three flights of stairs, and into my apartment, shoving bites of sweet onion chicken teriyaki sandwich into my mouth between loads.  I unpacked the bare minimum, aka my bedding and toothbrush, and collapsed into bed.  
      The next three days were much smoother.  I unpacked my apartment, applied for numerous nursing positions, went back to Target with my new friend Leah, assembled a complicated lamp with sketchy instructions, discovered a better grocery store than the Stop n'Shop, found the dumpster, and got locked out of the apartment building because the lock is janky.  Thursday evening, I crossed the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge to pick my cousin Ruth up from the train station in Tarrytown.  We then made our way to my cousin Scott's house north of Albany, where we babysat his two daughters for the holiday weekend.  So much more to come about my weekend with two and four year old girls - such an adventure!