Twin Tuesday

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Get excited!!

I’m starting a new series and I’m calling it “Twin Tuesday,” for obvious reasons. It’s going to be on Tuesdays, and I’m going to be talking “twin life.”

I’m going to use the mid-week day to talk about my life growing up as a twin, with my other half, Laurel, and also posting about her lovely fashion, and maybe some of my style which is less impressive/less flashy.

I want to begin by mentioning that the above picture was of us just the other day, and we showed up to meet each other wearing the exact same clothes, and had a blast parading around target and the liquor store. Guaranteed they didn’t believe we were 21 with our chosen attire, but jokes on them. Young at heart?

Growing up a twin was rough, and it wasn’t until our freshman year of college that we realized just how good we had it. In high school we had the same friends and the same life basically, so it made us very competitive. Then when we went off to college, where we lived across campus from each other, and we made our own friends, separately. It was exactly what we needed. It allowed us to really appreciate that we would always have a best friend in each other even if we didn’t spend all day, every day together. In fact, we only saw each other about once a week during the first semester, but when second semester came around we started to hang out a lot more while still maintaining our separate lives.

The best part about being a twin is definitely the bond we will always have even though we can be separated for months (Me leaving her for Ireland).

We may be best friends, but we are very different in a lot of ways.

She very Type A. I’m a ‘relaxed’ Type A 😉
She’s a finance intern at TCF Bank. I work in customer relations for Greg LeMond’s bike company.
She hates to bike. I love to bike.
She could live off of Ezekiel bread and peanut butter. I can’t eat bread OR peanut butter 😦
She hates to cook, especially for other people. I want to own a restaurant and feed other people.
She likes loud/bright fashion pieces. I prefer simplicity and neutral colors.

We haven’t always been into fashion, but once we got to college we both realized the power of a stand-out outfit. We were the girls that always put an effort into our attire even if we only had one class to go to that day. We always wanted to look our best, and we quickly found that it improved our productivity and confidence as well. No yoga pants and t-shirts for these girls. In fact, neither of us wore yoga pants for an entire semester to class. It was worth the dirty (secretly jealous) looks from other girls.

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These are just some of the fashionable outfits Laurel wears on a daily basis. She takes daily photos in one of the bathrooms at her business school every day and sends them to me. I always look forward to seeing what she’s wearing via bathroom mirror 😉 Her style is usually very girly. She wears a lot of pinks and reds and whites, but sometimes she throws on a casual outfit and adds her favorite fur vest to really throw people for a loop.

That’s just a bit about my best friend 🙂

Stay tuned for next weeks Twin Tuesday!

One (good) reason why Ireland is better than the States

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When I first arrived in Europe I didn’t know what to expect about buying food in grocery stores. I was under the impression that I wouldn’t be able to find any foods I would normally eat at home in their stores, and I also thought it was going to be terribly expensive. I can not express how shocked I was when I actually got there at how incredibly wrong I really was.

At least in Ireland, I found the food to be fairly cheap, and they had all the foods I would ever need. I mean, I’m sure they were referring to weird brands of processed foods when they said I wouldn’t be able to find what I normally eat, but I only eat fruits and veggies and meat, so finding my “brands” for those is unnecessary. I did do quite a few shopping trips at the local Tesco by campus, but quickly realized that making the trek to Aldi was worth it with how cheap the prices were.

I want to do a quick rant about how much I love Irish Aldi. I had no idea it existed until one of the wonderful Irish people in my apartment posted on Facebook saying that he was heading up a group that would take a weekly trip to Aldi on a private bus, directly from campus, FOR FREE! I was ecstatic and quickly became the Aldi Trip advocate for them. I invited all my American friends and ultimately brought a lot of customers to the Aldi. I shop at Aldi here in Minneapolis, but I strictly buy only their fruits and veggies and steer very clear from any meat products because I don’t really trust the quality, and the bad stuff can’t just be washed off like veggies. In Ireland, however, I wasn’t scared to buy any of the meat, because the quality at Aldi was just a million times better there. I’m forever grateful for the Aldi Bus while in Ireland. It saved me money and time and I met a few awesome Irish people riding it. I can’t say enough good things about the Aldi’s in Ireland.

One thing that I miss more than anything about Irish/European food is the eggs. WHY ARE THE EGGS WHITE? It’s disgusting. I miss not having to refrigerate my eggs AND them being a natural BROWN color. Who ever started dying eggs white? I’m almost scared to eat the eggs I buy in grocery stores here. I’m genuinely terrified that they’re white, and I feel like I’m gonna crack it into my pan and it’s going to be black or something… the horror! Thankfully that has not happened (yet), but I can proudly say I buy my eggs from the local farmer’s market now, because I like to know I’m eating “real” eggs and not something unnecessarily modified in both color and taste (I can tell the difference).

Bottom line: Go buy fresh brown eggs, because spending a couple extra bucks will never be so easy.

Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Cake

This is a recipe that I conquered last summer, but I felt it worthy of the spotlight now on my blog.

I made it because my lovely twin sis wanted to test my baking power for a birthday. Here’s some background on how our birthdays as twins go: We refuse to celebrate with our family on the same day, but obviously we have a joint party with all our friends because it would be a bit weird and excessive if we didn’t. Anyways, so in my family we take a weekend around our birthday when everyone is around and we choose our favorite meal that our mom makes and she makes that and we invite our close family over, but being a twin, we each get a day of the weekend so we can both feel special ;). I think it’s just an excuse to drag out our birthday festivities at this point. Although, there’s no way we would ever decide on one meal that we both love for our mom to make.

My mom is an AMAZING…recipe reader. She’s one of those cooks that follows everything in the recipe, because she thinks if you change anything up too much it will completely ruin the dish. Me, on the other hand, I look at a recipe as a base for anything I choose it to be. Since I have so many issues with foods I kind of have to swap a lot of things out, so I’m definitely a trial and error person. My mother is not. I love her for that. I never really had a bad meal growing up, and I owe that to the lovely Ina Garten. My mom has cooked her way through all her cookbooks multiple times, so I’m a firm believer in the power of Ina Garten.

When I was growing up (and chunky) I would always ask my mom to make sweet and sour chicken and fried rice. Then it evolved into Salmon with a creamy caesar salad (I thought it was healthy), but now I’m happy with a grilled chicken and a pile of veggies. However, I do usually ask for her to make her scrumptious popovers (not so healthy/paleo-but worth it).

My mom may be a great cook, but when it comes to dessert she just doesn’t quite cut it. The tradition would be for my grandma to bring a dessert of our choosing, but she’s been busier and busier with age (weirdly), so I’ve taken over the role of making my own dessert for my birthday. I actually quite enjoy using my birthday as a time to experiment with recipes of my choosing. I would never scour Pinterest and pick a dessert that I’m dying to try and then say, “Hey Grandma, buy all these ingredients and try making this.” That’s not something she would enjoy. She makes a mean cheesecake and an even meaner rum cake, but flourless almond cake… I’m not so sure. This way, if it’s nasty, I can only blame myself.

My sister loves to throw me little kitchen challenges, especially if she serves as taste tester, so for her birthday “day” she kindly asked me to make her an Almond and Ricotta Cake. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised she picked something like that, because she is literally almond obsessed. She goes through bags on bags of almonds like nobody’s business, and she’s also an insanely healthy eater, and this cake semi delivers in that department (at least if you compare it to a cheesecake or something). Also, by making her birthday dessert I don’t technically have to get her a present, right?

I highly recommend making this cake from Cakelets and Doilies for you next celebration. It’s incredibly moist from the Ricotta, and sweet but not too sweet. The addition of the almonds on top also adds a necessary crunch if you’re a texture person like my twin.

Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flour-less Cake recipe from Cakelets and Doilies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon zest
4 eggs, separated (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups almond flour
10 1/2 oz. full-fat ricotta
flaked almonds, for topping
powdered sugar, for dusting

// Preheat oven to 325.
Line the base and sides of a 20 cm round cake pan with parchment paper.
Place butter, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla and lemon in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes, until pale and creamy.
With mixer on low, add one egg yolk at a time until fully mixed.
Add the almond flour and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites in a separate, clean bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar to the beaten egg whites and whip until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the almond flour mixture, and repeat with the remaining egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the cake pan and smooth the top.
Sprinkle the top with almond flakes.
Bake for 40-45 min or until firm to the touch.
Allow to cool completely in the pan before removing, and dust with powdered sugar.
Best enjoyed cool or room temperature.
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Interning with Rise Bagel Co.

I’m so excited to finally begin working with sisters behind the very popular Rise Bagel Company in the Twin Cities. I saw that they posted on the University of Minnesota employment page back in early 2015, that they were looking for an intern for their growing small business, and I had heard of them and thought, why not? I know a lot about food, so I felt I could be a good addition to their sister team.

I was a bit skeptical that it would be an unpaid (yikes!!) internship, but decided to meet up with the sisters (Kate & Jen) for coffee to at least see what the internship would entail. I was terrified when they said that the hours would be Friday evenings until around 10:30pm and then we would come back at 3am to bake the risen bagels, and head to the market from 8-1pm on Saturday. I mean maybe they named it “Rise,” because of the early morning hours required for baking…

Despite the shock of having to give up my precious Friday nights to the carbs, I was very intrigued. I have always wanted to get into the food world, and this is a great way to learn the ropes of starting from nothing but a thought and love for bagels and turning it into something much larger. I was also just informed that they are semifinalists in the MN Cup which is a entrepreneurial competition put on by the University of Minnesota-Carlson School of Business. That’s a huge accomplishment for a business that has only been “running” for a little over a year.

I took my roommate, Dani, and we went and visited Kate & Jen at their tent at the Fulton Farmer’s Market on Saturday and obviously had to try one of the delicious, chewy bagels with their homemade cream cheese. I opted for an everything bagel with chive cream cheese and it was one of the best bagels I had ever eaten. Definitely the best in Minneapolis. Bagels aren’t really a thing in the Twin Cities, and they realized that so they took their love for bagels and decided to come up with the perfect recipe and bring it to the people. That’s what creating a great business is all about. I just need to find what I can provide that doesn’t already exist…
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For now I’m gonna learn as much from these awesome sisters as I can, and maybe one day I’ll be under my own tent at the farmer’s market and have the local papers writing tons of articles about how great my product is. I can dream can’t I?

I do highly recommend stopping at the Fulton Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings and snagging a delicious bagel before they sell out (usually around 10)! It’s a GREAT way to start the day!

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That time I made Cheez-It cookies…

Back in the Fall of 2014 I took a class in product design focusing on creativity. I was a bit intimidated to go the first day after realizing that it would be me and probably a bunch of super creative artsy kids stuck in a room for 3 hours, twice a week. I sucked it up and attended the class, late. I couldn’t find the room, so I was that kid that walked in and wandered around trying to find an open seat in a massive lecture room of 150 people. To top off my embarrassment, the room was a circle and the professor taught in the middle, so I had to walk in front of the professor to find the hiding seat.

After almost crying my way through the first 2 hours because I was so overwhelmed by the amount of work I would have to put in compared to the other kids (who were mostly architecture/design students); I was given the first assignment. Mr. Barry Kudrowitz (now one of my favorite professors ever) said that we would have to come up with a novel cookie recipe and attempt it. Could the assignment get any better? As soon as he said food, I wiped my tears away (kidding), and immediately started thinking of delicious food combinations and weird ideas. My first thought was to replace the flour in a normal cookie with something like a potato chip, but obviously it wouldn’t act like a normal flour in a recipe and absorb liquids as well. Then that evolved into a chocolate chip cookie made out of Cookie Crisp cereal  “flour” with a cereal milk frosting. My mind was going crazy with ideas, but that was the first time I was really engaged and excited about an assignment in awhile.

After doing a lot of thinking and wanting to create a cookie that wasn’t just weird, but actually tasted good in a weird way. I came up with making Cheez-It “flour” and using it as the base for a super buttery, apple and walnut cookie. I channeled my midwest roots with the cheese and apple combination. Sweet and sour. Delicious, right?

I went and bought a box of Cheez-Its (which I never was a huge fan of) at the grocery store and came back and started concocting a good ratio of fat (butter) to flour (Cheez-It). I tested the first batch of cookies and they immediately spread into a buttery, gooey mess on the baking sheet, so round 2 was going to have bit more real flour to compensate for the buttery-ness in the cheese cookies.

I’m gonna just go ahead and give you the recipe because I know you’re dying to try my experimental cookie. In all seriousness, it was pretty dang delicious. Especially compared to some of the other kids submissions. It was pretty obvious who had baked before and who hadn’t.

 

Cheez-It, Apple and Walnut Cookies

2 cups all-pupose flour
1 cup Cheez-It “flour” (grind the crackers into a find powder)
2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 granny smith apples (peeled, chopped and diced into small pieces)
3/4 cup walnuts (chopped)

// Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Beat sugars, egg and vanilla in a smaller bowl.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Fold in apple and walnut pieces.
Place 1/4 cup scoops onto parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

I liked them served at room temperature, but they are super tasty right from the oven too!

 

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Pie Crust (grain, sugar-free)

My family considers me the queen of pie crusts after the one summer I went crazy with crostatas, but since trying the paleo diet I haven’t been able to enjoy a good pie. I was perusing the web and came across Against All Grain’s crust recipe using both coconut and almond flour. I was overjoyed because I hate using solely almond flour because it’s more expensive, and I try to avoid nuts most of the time for my stomachs sake.

I decided to make the crust one random night when I was craving something sweet, and I also had frozen peaches that I wanted to use up before moving out of my house for the semester. The filling for the recipe was just to slightly enhance the crust (read: make it not seem weird that I was just baking a crust to eat alone), but the peaches ended up tasting delicious with the crust. The real reason I love this crust so much is because it tastes like a graham cracker, which is easily my favorite sweet treat. Who’d a thought?! I mean it is called a “Honey Graham Cracker Pie Crust”…

The crust comes out nice and golden brown, but make sure you let it cool before cutting into it, or you’re gonna end up with a crumble and not a crust (which honestly would be delicious too, but trust me, you want the crust). I also LOVED eating the pie cold for breakfast. Easily one of my favorite breakfasts to date and it’s basically guilt-free 😉

I’m just going to give you the crust recipe, because the actual peach filling was not anything more than peaches and some honey and cinnamon (not really a recipe anyway).

Recipe adapted from Against All Grain’s Honey Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp coconut flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2-4 tbsp honey (I used 2 tbsp because my peaches were sweet)
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

// Preheat oven to 350.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until completely combined.
Press the sticky dough into a 9-inch pie pan.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let them come to room temperature and serve with your favorite filling or refrigerate and enjoy cold (my fave!!).

Not the prettiest picture or best quality but this pie crust does everything right!

Not the prettiest picture or best quality but this pie crust does everything right!

Paleo Mayo from scratch

I’ve never been much of mayo fan (not miracle whip either), but when I saw how easy it was to make my own and not be eating a gelatinous spread with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce; I had to try it.

I was at the farmer’s market last Sunday and decided to buy some fresh (BROWN) eggs. Ever since leaving the land of non-refrigerated eggs (Ireland/Europe), I’ve been really missing real eggs. I splurged and bought them and then realized I could whip up some mayo with one, and then make coleslaw because I had conveniently bought at cabbage at the market as well. Things were just lining up so perfectly and I didn’t even plan it. I came home and open my carton of real brown eggs and stared at them in awe. I was so happy to have good quality eggs in my possession again.

It’s mayo time! <—- Never thought I’d say that…

“Mayo”

1 egg (room temperature)

1 cup olive oil

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2-3 tsp lemon juice

pinch of salt

optional: pinch of cayenne pepper for heat

// Place egg in blender/food processor with dijon, lemon juice and salt.

Begin blending and slowly drizzle in olive oil.

Keep blending until you get a smooth, “mayo” texture.