Chicken Tikka Masala

I never knew my love for Indian food until I moved to the Twin Cites.  My friend Leslie was coming to visit and wanted Indian food.  She did some online research and found The Dancing Ganesha.  The food was amazing! It quickly became my favorite restaurant, and I have celebrated many occasions there.  Since starting to cook, it has been a goal of mine to make Indian food at home.  It took a while for me to track down garam masala, but once I found it, I couldn’t wait to make this.  And it was definitely worth the extra effort.

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Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas

 

The weather here has been going from scorching hot to rather chilly.  Quintessential Minnesota.  Today was more on the chilly side so I decided to make a warmer dish.  Chances are it will be too hot for anything warm for the next couple of months.  I LOVE Mexican food. No surprise to anyone who knows me.  I’ve worked at two different Mexican restaurants and my go-to drinks are mojitos and margaritas.  I am always on the hunt for healthy, Mexican recipes.  This recipe is filling, full of protein, and a healthy alternative to greasy restaurant enchiladas.  We were out of black beans today so I substituted chili beans, but I originally made these enchiladas with black beans.  Both are good!

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Pale Ale Braised Greens with Sausage

It’s been a while.  The last few weeks have been busy.  First, I graduated from law school.  Yep.  I have a doctorate in law.  Feel free to call me Lindsay Cremona, J.D.  or Dr. Cremona.  Or Lindsay Cremona, Esquire. Your choice.

 

I have wanted to be a lawyer for most of my life.  When most kids were dreaming of becoming movie stars or astronauts, I just wanted to be Atticus Finch.  It was a relatively simple life choice for me.  When I graduated from undergrad, I started an internship at the Wisconsin Public Defenders.  My job was simple: I interviewed.  Every morning I walked to jail and interviewed individuals who were arrested the night before to find out if they were eligible for our services.  My afternoons were spent interviewing victims or witnesses in their homes to get their perspective.  Most interactions with witnesses and victims were the same.  Either the door was slammed in my face or the interview lasted no more than 15 minutes.  Announcing that you represented the defendant didn’t make you many friends–especially when it came to the victim.

But then one day I was assigned with interviewing an alleged victim of a domestic assault charge.  It started out typical.  She answered my questions about the events that transpired to our client’s arrest, and after 15 minutes, I had gotten all the information needed and was about to leave.  But she got up and came back with a box of photo albums.  And for the next couple of hours, I looked through her photo albums with her.  Saw pictures of her child, her family, her dogs, her childhood.  And that’s when I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.

Everyone has a story to tell.  I want to help tell that story.  I want to do more than just write an article about it–I want to do something to enrich the story-help someone’s situation.  Give them an opportunity to be heard while giving them an opportunity for change.  And that’s what I do all day now.  Provide an outlet for people to tell their stories and get some resolution.  Yeah, I’ve heard my fair share of lawyer jokes.  And to be honest (and not at all bias), they are misdirected.  There are gonna be those that give the profession a bad name, but at the end of the day, I see my job as giving the voiceless a voice.  I like that.

So last weekend I graduated from law school and immediately went on vacation.  After three years of minimum sleep and stress and cold calls, it was time for a break.  So I went with my husband, my parents, and in-laws to Savannah, Georgia.

Outside our Bed and Breakfast ready to explore the city!

Matt and I went to Savannah on our honeymoon and fell in love with the city.  I love the old mansions, city squares, and slower place of life.  Matt loves the southern comfort food.  Since I try to make healthier food at home, Matt took full advantage of the fried chicken, collard greens, and sweet potatoes.  When we got home, I promised Matt I’d try out a Southern-style recipe for him.  Lucky for him, my friend Kelsey had gone to a beer festival and had collected several recipes that included beer for me to make and one of them had Paula Deen written all over it.  So here is a not so healthy but insanely delicious meal that is worth the indulgence.

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Lemon Crinkle Cookies

My mother’s kitchen is decorated in lemons.  Lemon wallpaper, lemon soap dishes, lemon magnets–the list is endless.  Whenever I come across a recipe including lemons, I have to try it out so I can pass the good recipes along to my mom.  This cookie recipe easily made the cut.  The cookies are fluffy and melt in your mouth with a splash of lemon.

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Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Sandwich

I may have an unhealthy love of basil.   I use it almost daily, and my herb garden can’t grow it fast enough.  To me, it’s what healthy eating is-fresh, bold, and poignant.  My insides feel cleansed whenever it’s in my food.  Might be all in my head.

As a lover of sandwiches, I’ve been trying to find great sandwich recipes that include basil and travel well.  Like many students, my lunch is made at 7:00 a.m.  No one wants a sandwich that is all soggy by noon.  If that unsoggy sandwich includes basil, even better.  This sandwich has only four ingredients that travel well so you can bring all the ingredients with you and easily assemble it when you are ready to eat.  No need to live solely on pb&j’s anymore!

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Mocha Frappe

Who doesn’t love blended coffee drinks? They are delicious, refreshing, and a great way to get your caffeine fix. Matt LOVES these drinks.  And when he spends his afternoons in the wood shop making us furniture, I like to surprise him with a coffee treat.  Unfortunately, the price tag at coffee shops is a bit too steep for me.  This drink is a delicious, money-saving alternative.

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Grilled Chicken and Tri-Color Peppers with Chimichurri Sauce

When I want to splurge, I buy red, yellow, or orange bell peppers.  Matt buys fried chicken.  As much I as love Matt, fried chicken doesn’t have many healthy redeeming qualities so we went for a compromise. Matt whipped up some homemade onion rings for himself, and I made a chicken entree with bell peppers. (although I did sneak a ring or two and they were amazing!)  But what’s with all this splurging?  Well, I had my health law final yesterday, and it went well!  One thing you learn from law school is the importance of celebrating the little victories. So today’s dinner was our mini-celebration.  I found a traditional South American sauce to pair with our chicken and peppers.  This sauce has a bold, herbal flavor that is perfect for summer grilling.

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Mexican Black Bean and Hominy Salad

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited.  While I do not need a holiday to enjoy a margarita or delicious Mexican food, I can definitely get behind the idea to have a day devoted to it.  Unfortunately, people have the tendency to associate great Mexican food with deep fried options.  But that doesn’t have to be the case!  I am in the middle of law school finals (last time EVER!) and to a lot of people that means gorging on unhealthy snack food and injecting coffee straight to the veins.  I do not want to become victim to this habit, but it’s really hard.  Sitting at your computer for hours at a time, pouring over case books, statutes, and outlines, it is tempting to run down to the vending machine and stock up.  But don’t worry that you’ll find yourself hiding in a study carrel shoving Cheetos in your face (it’s hard to hide the evidence when your fingers are stained orange).  This refreshing side salad is a great study snack that will keep the less healthy snacks at bay.  It pairs well with baked tortilla chip and has a little bit of sweet and salty.

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Get on your running shoes–It’s May Day!

May Day.  My favorite holiday of the year.  To me, it’s been a holiday of making homemade May baskets that you fill with candy, flowers, and little trinkets.  The basket is placed on the doorknob of your friend’s house.  You ring the doorbell, and then run as fast as you can back to your house.  If your friend catches you before you make it home, he/she gets to kiss you.  If a holiday celebrates artsy-craftsy gift giving and kisses, I’m in.  When ding-dong ditch is incorporated, even better.

Most kids outgrow these little holidays.  People stop making boxes to stuff Valentine’s in; stop leaving their shoes out for St. Nick, and stop making May baskets.  [Although St. Patrick’s Day never gets left behind–it only gets more fun.]  But I never stopped.  With Peter Pan on my side, I will give out little Valentine’s cards, leave my shoes out for St. Nick, and make May baskets til I die (maybe even longer.  Heaven seems pro-holiday).  And at 26, this year is no different.

My two best friends have always been my targets on May Day.  And Nicky has always taken her role in May Day seriously.  She is determined to catch me.  Lucky for me, our houses are only a couple backyards away from each other so I don’t have too far to run.   But, running through other people’s backyards has not always gone well for me.  In 5th grade, as I ran for my life from Nicky, I ran straight into a dumpster and fell flat on my back.  Things did not fair too well for Nicky either.  As I knocked myself unconscious, a neighbor boy threw a rock at Nicky’s head.  Not sure who “won” May Day that year.  Things were always less dangerous with Hollie.  She lived a half mile away so I would always bike to her house.  Pretty hard to catch someone on her bike.  Still, Hollie isn’t one to give up easily, and she’d try to catch up.  Mind you, that wasn’t too much of a challenge when we lived together in college, sharing a dorm room.  It’s not easy trying to run up a dresser to hide in a lofted bed.

Nicky and me at Hollie’s wedding. [note the creepier in the background. yep. married that one]

Hollie and me on my wedding.

This year I’m hoping for a dumpster and loft free May Day.  Since I don’t live in the same town as Nicky or Hollie anymore, I’ve had to result to mailing their May Day baskets.  Much less satisfying than ding-dong ditch, but who doesn’t love mail?!

So, how do you make this May basket?

First, you need a basket.  You can really use anything.  This year I went with plant pots (from Target), but you could use a cleaned out milk carton (my Mom’s favorite); a cute purse; a vase, mug, a red solo cup. You get the idea.  Then you decorate it.  Let your creativity flow.  I’ve always been a fan of paint so this year I used glitter fabric pant to write “Happy May Day” around the pot and placed scrapbook flower stickers around the middle.

Second, what goes in the basket?  Anything! This year I stuck with the classics.  I made pipe cleaner flowers and curled ribbon that I placed along side the baskets.  Tossing in some fruit snacks, a bouncy ball, and Burt’s Bees, the May Day baskets were complete!

And you got yourself a May Day Basket.  Ready to be delivered! I just have to get on my running shoes first.

 

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Cremona Chili

I LOVE chili.  Love it.  In fact, whenever I cave and decide I’m going to get fast food, I pick Wendy’s so I can get chili.  I have multiple different chili recipes, and I have yet to take a side on the noodles or no noodles battle.  But one thing I can definitively agree upon is using turkey instead of beef (or you can opt out of meat all together and make this vegetarian).  The beans and tomatoes serve as the prominent flavors so any distinguishable taste between turkey and beef is effectively muted.   For only 4 Weight Watcher’s Plus points per 1 1/2 cups, this chili is a healthy and filling meal.

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