Would you like a side of chicken, cranberry salsa, and pomegranate to go along with your walk down memory lane?

This morning it hit me that I am less than four weeks away from being completely done with classes….forever! Well, at least for now that is. I was taking a little trip down memory lane and thinking back to my first couple years of college and how I felt like I would never graduate. I would just be a college student taking classes for the rest of my life. Now that I’m having to face reality and real world decisions, I’m starting to think that could have it’s benefits…no pressure to figure out the next step to take, could devour a whole pint of Ben&Jerry’s with a side of Wendy’s fries and not feel a gut in the morning, and pulling off yoga pants and a sweatshirt look for class everyday with no need to get ready for class. But I am beyond ready to get out there into the world and start the next chapter. I did want to share a couple of my favorite photos from my college experience that made me laugh and smile thinking about how fortunate I am to have met the people I had and have all the opportunities that I did.

 

I hung out with these girls nearly every weekend and we did absolutely EVERYTHING together. All of us are in different places now. Emily on the left is finishing school and recently got engaged and I’ll be in her wedding next summer. Ashley is going to culinary school and is an amazing chef. And Kelsey is living in Singapore and has started a 52-week movement where she and her fiancé do an adventure every week to show the importance of enjoying life to its fullest, even when we have the busiest of schedules. So proud of them and very lucky to have been surrounded by such phenomenal women!

 

Watching Miss America in Las Vegas the year before I was on the Miss America stage as Miss Idaho. What an incredible trip that was and such a wonderful group of women to share it with.

 

 I love that I had a group of entertaining friends who shared my appreciation of being a total goofball.

 

 One of our trips to the hot springs. Hiking through the snow under the moonlight to a body of hot water while listening to horror stories from Ellis, always made for a one of a kind experience.

All my friends are very active and enjoy trying new physically challenging activities. This is us at Boise State’s “Beat Pete” race to beat Coach Peterson and raise money for scholarships.

But I’ll reflect more on that later. I’m getting too absorbed into looking through old pictures! For now, I need to just focus on graduation and getting things all lined up for my next chapter in January. I have been busy looking into places to stay in New York and doing  my research. That in itself has been a project! On Wednesday, Luke and I had our grand opening of Whole Foods celebration by making dinner together. Since he had class until late, my mom and I ventured into the insanity of the grand opening. People were in their cars waiting for parking spots to open up and when you did actually make it in there was hardly any space to move around. But the employees were very helpful and welcoming. There was a good selection of produce, with some options available to taste test before purchasing as well as a nice taste testing selection of cheeses. My favorite was a cranberry cheddar cheese which the woman suggested using for grilled cheese sandwiches…hmmm, I could be revisiting one of my favorite childhood foods sometime soon. They also had a divine salad bar, pizza, sushi, and sandwich cuisine. The desserts, well let’s just say I’m shocked I walked out of there empty handed in the sweets department. I was left drooling worse than Sunni does after a long run! Pomegranates were 4 for $5 which I was very excited about and split a few with  my mom. (They ended up being cheaper than Winco! I don’t know whether to be impressed that I’m that good at remembering prices at grocery stores to ensure I get the best deal or I should be concerned that out of everything I need to remember, these are the little things that take up my memory space.) The salmon looked absolutely amazing so we both got about a pound. I plan on making a maple glaze salmon for dinner this weekend, and I’ve never cooked salmon so we’ll see how well it goes over! Mom also got their homemade muffins and being the salsa lovers we are, we each found a different salsa to try.

I decided to try the cranberry-mango “White Girl Salsa”. Remember when I was on my pumpkin kick? Well, now I’m in a cranberry craze so I decided to try it on my eggs the next morning.

I liked that this wasn’t too sweet, though for me it still could have been more chunky. I love a lot of veggies in  my salsa. The cranberry was a fun twist and I am eager to try more from the “White Girl Salsa” line.

I bought the rest of the ingredients for our dinner that evening for a recipe I found off of Whole Food’s recipes. The baked chicken with spinach, pears, and blue cheese looked far too delicious to pass up and I’ve been wanting to cook with pears lately. The outcome was even better than I expected and Luke loved it as well. Though I think he was more excited about the “Abraham Lincoln” chicken he came across while we were preparing the meal.

Baked Chicken with Spinach, Pears, and Blue Cheese

I adjusted the ingredients to serve 2 people. After making this, I thought it would be perfect for an entrée for dinner guests in the future.

Ingredients
  •  2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups loosely packed spinach (not baby), washed, dried, stems removed.
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ripe Bosc pear
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  •  1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Directions
 

1. Preheat oven to 375°F or warm up your George Foreman to prepare chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes.

2. In a medium pan over medium low heat, pour 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and add spinach. Stir in spinach and allow it to wilt. Remove spinach from pan and place on a paper towel to remove excess olive oil.

3. Wipe out pan and pour apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil into the same pan over medium low heat still. Slice up pears and add them to the pan and heat until warm. Add parsley and heat for one minute.

4. Take the spinach and divide it between two plates. Then, place the chicken on top of the spinach and place the pears and parsley on top of the chicken. Divide the crumbled blue cheese between the two plates and sprinkle on top of the pears and chicken.

Devour and enjoy!

For dessert, we enjoyed one of the fresh pomegranates I had gotten earlier that afternoon at Whole Foods. Until recently, I was thoroughly convinced there was no way to nicely remove the seeds from the pomegranate without making a complete mess, and staining your clothes in the process. I came across a tutorial on how to remove pomegranate seeds not only in a cleanly way, but also quite quickly.

First divide the pomegranate into fourths. Next, place each section in a pot of water that is deep enough for you to fully submerge both hands under water. While the pomegranate is under water (this is important to avoid spraying juice all over your body and your clean counters), slowly start to pull apart the pomegranate and push the seeds out. There will be some of the inner skin that may need to be removed (the white pith). Do this to the whole pomegranate until all the seeds are removed. Then, pour the water and seeds in a strainer to separate. Quick, easy, and no mess!

Why pomegranates are a healthy alternative to sweets and treats

        A whole pomegranate is roughly 100 calories and instead of causing bacterial build up on your teeth, can actually help to prevent plaque build up. You probably should still brush your teeth after consuming these though, just a little suggestion. 😉 These delicious fruits are also rich in antioxidants which may help to prevent forms of cancer including breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.  And for those of us who have “Munchy A.D.D.”, as my roommate and I like to refer to our need to always be chewing on something, it’s a great snack to eat when you are stressed and craving something sweet. They are also rich in vitamin c and vitamin k which means they are an excellent immune system strengthener and then enhance the absorption of iron.

Well, I’m headed to have a date with dad at the Brick Oven Bistro before they go out of business. This was one of my families favorite places to go growing up and I loved their naked pot (a bowl of mashed potatoes with no gravy). One naked pot of taters coming right up!

Random Fact of the Day

Did you know a medium size pomegranate is made up of nearly 600 edible seeds? I love munching on Jelly Bellies when I’m stressed, and if I consumed this many Jelly Bellies it would 2,400 calories compared to the 100 calories that a pomegranate has! Definitely a munch smarter decision and a fruit I will be stocking up on this season!

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