Kelley Gaston

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virgina Woolf

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A Late Night Pizza Pie

I don’t know why, but my chef expertise and skills always happen after 11 p.m. Whether it’s coming back from a late night library sesh or heading to the kitchen after a night with friends, I always make the best meals at this hour of the night. So, don’t be surprised when I tell you a couple nights ago (at 11 p.m.) I made probably one of the greatest looking and tasting pizzas a 21-year-old could make. What makes this pizza so much better than others that college kids whip up? Well, it could be the 8 pounds of cheese I sprinkled on top, or it could be the extra layer of mozzarella I placed on the surface of the dough before covering the rest with homemade tomato sauce. I’m honestly not sure where the success comes from, but all I know is that I had to literally hide it from scavenging, hungry sorority girls.

So, what exactly did the pizza consist of for those of you who would like to try and make it (even though I promise it won’t look as good as mine!) Start off with large, frozen pizza dough. Mine was already prepared, I didn’t have to roll out the dough or anything, which makes the cooking process so much easier. As you probably know, the key to a good pizza is cheese. So, I like to put a layer of cheese right on top of the dough and on the crust area. Next, sauce. Lots of tomato sauce. Make sure to spread it evenly. Then, another layer of cheese. Mozzarella will be your best bet, but I also put a layer of parmesan too. After a sprinkle of garlic powder and basil, pop that sucker into the oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes or until it’s lightly golden and crispy (depending on how cooked you like your pizza). That’s it. Simple, quick and delicious!

pizza pizza 1

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict

One of my favorite breakfast dishes is eggs benedict, and when I say this I mean any variety of eggs benedict. I’ve met a number of people who get sick of the classic eggs benedict, which includes a poached egg, Canadian bacon and hollandaise sauce over an english muffin. I am one of these people who has had the classic eggs benedict so many times that I thought I’d spice up the breakfast a bit.

Since crab cakes are my ultimate favorite seafood meal, I thought why not replace the eggs benedict’s Canadian bacon with a fresh crab cake. I didn’t think this would ruin the taste of the poached eggs or hollandaise sauce, but actually enhance both. So, I toasted my english muffin, baked myself a nice crab cake, poached an egg and made hollandaise sauce. Although there’s really not many varieties when it comes to english muffins and eggs, there are different hollandaise sauces that depend on the person’s preference. The hollandaise sauce I prefer comes from the Food Network. What the sauce includes is:

4 egg yolks

1 tablespoon of freshly quizzed lemon juice

1/2 cup of unsalted butter (melted)

pinch cayenne

pinch salt

Now, I always use a little more lemon juice than I probably should because I enjoy the sourness when it is combined with the eggs, english muffin and crab cake. I think it works really well together. But other than that I keep the hollandaise sauce pretty traditional. If you’re feeling a little “iffy” about your eggs benefit capabilities, check out these directions. 

crab cake eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce

crab cake eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce

Easter Eats

With Easter just around the corner, I thought it would be helpful to list a couple of sites I found useful from cooking websites to personal blogs. Here’s some of the best Easter food ideas I found. Enjoy!

1. 55 No-Stress Easter Dinner Recipes  

The article comes from “Country Living Magazine,” and includes 57 photos of Easter treats and meals. From a creamy bibb and herb salad to deviled eggs with old bay shrimp, this article surely won’t disappoint. Besides posting meals, the website also includes how to make simple, yet tasteful, easter cakes and desserts for those with a sweet tooth.

Easter Cakes

2. Love from the Oven 

“Love from the Oven” is a popular blog which has a post on easter sweets and treats. The blogger, Christi, writes about her experience with PEEPS Style Sugar Cookie Pops, Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes, Salted Carmel Easter Popcorn and more. Her blog is fun, creative and definitely gets you in the mood for Easter! I highly recommend checking out Christi’s page if you want to have a little fun while baking this coming Sunday!

3. Easter Cocktails and Virgin Drinks 

Okay, so we have dinner and dessert, but what about drinks? “Chow” offers a wide selection of drinks to whip up if having a small get together on Easter or if throwing a party. Some of these include the classic Mimosa, a refreshing mint Limonata, Bloody Mary’s, White Wine Spritzers and more. The website includes quick recipes and great pictures! Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a little “buzz” on the holiday!

 

 

Thai Chicken Salad

When I go to Panera Bread  I’m the type of person who gets the same thing every time I go. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in a different state or location, I always get the same thing. A you pick two with the chicken cobb salad and a side of broccoli cheddar soup. It’s always been my favorite and I’m honestly not willing to try anything new at the chain restaurant. Well, today was a bit different than my usual trips to Panera. Today I tried something new. I had the thai chicken salad for the first time, and let me tell you, it was bangin’. If you hesitate while you’re in line at Panera, don’t question it, get the thai chicken salad. To be honest, it outdid the chicken cobb salad 110 percent, and I’ve obviously always been loyal to the classic cobb.

So, what makes this thai chicken salad so great? Could it be that it’s less than 250 calories for a you pick two size portion of the dish? Or could it be that it includes the perfect amount of thai chili vinaigrette and peanut sauce? Besides being both these things there’s more. The salad is made up of romaine lettuce, antibiotic-free slices of chicken, fire roasted edamame, red peppers, cilantro, carrots and wantons. If you don’t know what wontons are they are those little crispy noodle like things often given out at Asian restaurants. The salad is not only fresh and delicious but it tastes authentic. If you were to serve me the exact salad at a traditional Thai restaurant I probably would never guessed it came from Panera Bread. All I can really say is well done Panera, well done. I tried something new for the first time and was more than satisfied. It makes me think, maybe I should step away from my usual Panera meal and try something new more often.

salad

Thai chicken salad from Panera Bread

 

St. Patty’s Day Dishes

Although St. Patrick’s Day was Tuesday, I don’t believe the holiday should be just one day long, but should be celebrated for the entire week! To maintain the festive spirit, I thought I’d post some links from one of my online communities (reddit). The St. Patty’s day dishes some of the members in this online community have created and have come up with is just awesome and I believe that the ideas could help many of you who wish to create your own St. Patty’s traditional meals next year, or in the nearby future!

1. This Reuben Sandwich

http://imgur.com/qd1U0Us

http://imgur.com/qd1U0Us

If you don’t know what a reuben sandwich consists of, it basically includes corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and russian dressing compressed between two slices of rye bread. Since corned beef is a St. Patty’s day tradition, there’s no reason why the reddit user, Normativity, would not post this scrumptious picture.  The link got over one million views, and I can see why…

2. Irish Themed Jell-O shots 

http://imgur.com/LTJ9Uat

http://imgur.com/LTJ9Uat

*This St. Patty’s Day festive drink is for those of you 21 or older obviously!* While growing up and learning about the holiday, I realized that many people (especially Americans) link St. Patty’s Day with drinking and partying. To be honest, I read somewhere that this day was actually once a “dry holiday” which is quite ironic. But, speaking in terms of present day, there are many that spend March 17 flocking from bar to bar and party to party. Whether you’re attending an event or hosting your own holiday gathering, these refreshing and rather tasty looking Jell-O shots could be quite the crowd pleaser!

3. Green Hummus Dip 

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12943/st-pattys-day-green-hummus-dip.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12943/st-pattys-day-green-hummus-dip.html

This could be one of my favorite St. Patty’s day links. The best part about this hummus is that it’s just regular hummus but has a bit of green food coloring in it which makes it a festive and holiday treat. “MindBodyGreen” writer Holli Thompson created this post and not only includes her recipe in the link above, but talks about how easy it is to prepare and also recommends replacing the pita chips on the side with carrot sticks or celery for a healthier option. The snack is perfect for any age and I highly recommend this St. Patty’s Day goodie!

 

These were just three of the links that stood out to me while looking at my reddit community today. Basically, I realized if you make a dish that contains either corned beef, alcohol or is green… than anything goes and is considered festive for St. Patty’s!

Spring Break Eats Listicle

Spring break has finally arrived for us Lehigh students. For those of you going to any of the three top spring break destinations (according to U.S. News Travel) I thought I’d help you out by listing a few of the best restaurants (for college students) in these areas.

1. Miami Beach

I recently came across  South Beach Magazine which mentions some of the best places for college kids to check out while vacationing. Sidewalk cafes on Lincoln Road are very popular for spring breakers in Miami. Nexxt Cafe is located at 700 Lincoln Road and offers a variety of dishes that are reasonably priced, which is ideal for the typical college student during spring break. Segafredo at 1040 Lincoln Road and Puerto Sagua are two other restaurants that South Beach Magazine highly recommends for college students. Although the cafes themselves aren’t too expensive, they’re located in a very ritzy and popular area. Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue are often called the “Fifth Avenue of the South.” Wining and dining in warm weather at these restaurants doesn’t sound the worst.

2. Cancun 

Thousands of college students each year travel to Cancun for Spring Break. It is one of the most popular destinations. Although Cancun has a number of restaurants, the area is most popular for their Mexican cuisine. Some of the best Mexican Restaurants in Cancun, according to Travel and Leisure is La Destileria, La Habichuela Sunset and Julia Mia. All three of these Mexican restaurants are authentic and architecturally pleasing to the eye. They don’t only offer Mexican cuisine, but seafood as well. With great food and a lively location, they are definitely three restaurants tourists should plan to eat at during their time in Mexico.

3. Puerto Vallarta  

Known for their nightlife, bar/ club scene and sandy beaches, Puerto Vallarta (often known as “PV”) is a top spring break destination for Lehigh students. I actually know many people who will be spending the next week in PV. In terms of eating, Ocean Grill Vallarta is one of the best restaurants in PV. They won the Travelers’ Choice in 2014. The Ocean Grill provides a variety of cuisine including barbecue, Mexican, Seafood and more. Vista Grill is also a four star restaurant and is known for their great breakfast service. Layla’s Restaraunte has five stars and is famous for their Mexican dishes. Their reviews include comments such as, “great people and great food.”

 

http://www.pcbeach.org/graphics/uploadedimages/Springbreak2015.jpg

http://www.pcbeach.org/graphics/uploadedimages/Springbreak2015.jpg

A Bagel Basket Breakfast

If you’ve ever interacted with the Lehigh student body, I highly doubt that anyone, I mean anyone on this campus including greeks, non-greeks, athletes, student senate members, band members, etc. has never heard of Bagel Basket. And for those of you who swear that you have never heard of the popular breakfast spot, then I’m truly sorry because you’re missing out on one of the greatest breakfast spots in the Lehigh Valley. Although I’ve heard their breakfast sandwiches can cure the morning after a long night out, I believe these sandwiches are suitable for anytime of the day. Bagel Basket is located just over the hill, past the Lehigh athletic facilities. If you’re on main campus than it’s about a 8 minute drive, but it’s totally worth it.

 

Bagel Basket bacon egg and cheese

Bagel Basket bacon egg and cheese

Bagel basket bacon egg and cheese

Bagel Basket bacon egg and cheese

Although I recently wrote a blog post on the Paula Deen’s bacon, egg and avocado breakfast sandwich, in terms of tastefulness, I think Bagel Basket is comparable. With over 10 different types of bagels, the options are endless. They even have chocolate chip bagels if you’re feeling a little risky. I personally wouldn’t get a bacon egg and cheese on a chocolate chip bagel but then again you don’t know how something tastes unless you try it. For me, I enjoy a classic toasted multigrain bagel with crispy bacon, over easy eggs and American cheese. Although some may argue this is too simple, sometimes I order the sandwich with a hash brown inside. Probably not the best choice in terms of calories, but whose counting. So step away from your regular Johnny’s and Dunkin’ Donuts visits and get to Bagel Basket. As a Lehigh student, I guarantee you won’t have a bad breakfast sandwich. There’s a reason so many students talk about the business- “satisfaction guaranteed.”

Let’s Talk About Ice

Well, the unthinkable happened, had all my classes cancelled today. Actually, it was pretty predictable considering the vast amount of ice balls falling from the sky all night. Since we (in the Northeast) have been seeing so much of this snow and ice lately, I figured why just see it when you could be eating it. Since we are on the topic of “ice,” right away the word ice cream popped into my head. So, if you have as much free time as I do today and want to be a bit creative, why not try and make your own homemade ice cream? You’re going to need approximately 4 hours total, but I swear it will be so worth it in the end. Or, with spring break coming up, find a time then!

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream - because mint chocolate chip dominates all ice cream flavors.

I highly recommend clicking on the link above if you’re interested. But, just to get a feel, here are the ingredients you will need.

Ingredients

1. 2 cups of loosely packed mint leaves
2. 2 cups and 2 tablespoons of whole milk
3. 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
4. 2/3 cups of sugar
5. 4 tablespoons of cornstarch
6. 3 tablespoons of cream cheese at room temperature
7. Kosher salt
8. 1 3.5 ounce chocolate bar.
So, if you have these ingredients just sitting around and are satisfied with the idea of ice cream, click the link above for the full recipe. Why not do something on this cold and “icy” day?
http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/mint-chocolate-ice-cream

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/mint-chocolate-ice-cream

Homemade Pita n Guac

On Tuesday night I thought it would be a good idea to make guacamole. So, I grabbed some avocados, red onions, limes, salt and tomatoes. For me, less ingredients is key. As I started to chop the tomatoes and blend the ingredients together, I couldn’t help but think of what I wanted to eat the guac with. I mean, there were so many options. Did I want toast, tortilla chips or any other carb? But then, the unthinkable happened. As I opened the cabinet of my house that should have a variety of chips resting on top of each other, I realized there were no chips. Nothing. The cabinet was completely empty. What was I going to do? You can’t eat guac by itself. You need something to eat it with. I realized I needed to be creative. As I looked through a number of cabinets and drawers in the kitchen I came across a package of tortillas. I’m not sure what sparked the thought, but I decided I would cut these tortillas into little triangles, fry and salt them to create homemade pita chips. The only oil we had in the house was canola oil, so I figured this is what I would fry the tortillas in. Since our house doesn’t have a fryer, I took a large pot and began to heat the oil. Although many people told me these pita chips would be a fail, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try. I was also desperate at this point. I cut seven tortillas into triangles and placed them in the pot of oil. After 3 minutes they began to sizzle and fry. It was working. After I crisped them to perfection, I placed them on a plate and sprinkled a good amount of salt on each. They were ready, and although my friends were skeptical of the idea, the pita chips ended up being a hit. Everyone started to make them, so I would like to congratulate myself for creating a new food trend in our house.

 

pita

Homemade pita chips and guac.

 

“Did You Know” Listicle

I thought it would be fun to write a listicle post on things one may not know about well-known food businesses. I’ve found links on three international chains: Ben & Jerry’s for you ice cream lovers, Mcdonald’s for fast food fanatics and Dunkin Donuts for those obsessed with coffee. Although I don’t want to give away all of the facts for each company, I thought I’d share some of my favorites for each.

1.18 Things You Never Knew About Ben and Jerry’s  

While some of these facts about Ben & Jerry’s may not seem that interesting, I found most of them pretty surprising. The list starts off  saying that Ben & Jerry wanted to open a bagel company (ice cream was out of the picture). Ben also wanted to call the company “Josephine’s Flying Machine.” Why? I have no clue. I think one of the most entertaining facts I read was that there is an actual “flavor graveyard” where discontinued ice cream flavors “go to die.” Check out the link above to see the rest of the fun facts!

2. 17 Things You Didn’t Know About McDonald’s 

Going to McDonald’s as a kid almost once a week, I thought I knew everything about the fast food chain. After reading this article, I was proven wrong. This article lists 17 things about McDonald’s that even a fast food craver like me wouldn’t know! Did you know that McDonald’s originally sold hot dogs and not hamburgers? Or that the company’s golden arches are recognized by more people than the Christian cross? Although I love food, I do enjoy celebrities and social media. So, you can only imagine how shocked I was to learn that Rachel McAdams, Jay Leno and Shania Twain have all worked at McDonalds at some point in their lives. These couple of facts aren’t even the most fascinating. McDonald’s sells more than 75 hamburgers per second and feeds more than 68 million people each day. Read the other 12 facts by clicking on the link above!

3. 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Dunkin’ Donuts 

Dunkin’ Donuts has been around since 1950, but I bet you didn’t know that the company’s name was originally called “Open Kettle.” The name later changed, and by 2012 10,500 Dunkin’ Donuts stores opened up worldwide. When you walk into a Dunkin’ Donuts you can order anything from donuts and munchkins to turkey/breakfast sandwiches. Before this, when Dunkin’ Donuts had first opened, the company only sold four varieties of donuts. Currently, there are 52 different kinds. Although the Huffington Post article talks about the history of Dunkin’ Donuts, there are definitely eye-opening facts included, which makes this article worth reading.

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