A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

My childhood home was always full of the most wonderful smells.  In the morning, I’d often be awoken to the aroma of fresh chocolate-chip pancakes or French Toast.  After school, I’d often walk into my house to the sweet smell of my mom’s special apple cake in the oven.  At night, I cherished catching a whiff of my mom’s homemade tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top.

When I got to college, I missed these familiar smells and the conversations I would have with my mom in the kitchen.  Cooking became a comfort to me– it was my connection to the home I was away from. As it connected me to my home, it also made wherever in the world I was start to feel like a home.  If I could sit down with a home-cooked meal in front of me, it felt like I could belong there.

Today, I’m sharing an altered version of my mom’s chicken parmesan, which I call chicken parm tenders.  

Ingredient List for Chicken:

1 cup of flour

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Trader Joe’s three cheese pomodoro sauce)

1 beaten egg

2 chicken tenderloins (not breaded)

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs (I use bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Place your flour, egg, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls next to each other.  Take each piece of chicken and first put it in flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs.
  3. Once your chicken has been breaded, spray a frying pan with cooking spray and set the pan to medium-high heat.  Fry both your pieces of chicken until golden brown and you can see that they are cooked through.
  4. Place your pan-fried chicken onto a tray and spoon tomato sauce onto the pieces of chicken so you are covering the entire top of the chicken.
  5. Top with shredded mozzarella– you can put on as much or as little as you want.
  6. Bake your chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with your favorite side.

I served my chicken parmesan with my favorite simple pasta dish which I call parmesan pasta.  It’s light while still being filling and takes no longer than thirty minutes to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup of your favorite pasta shape (I used linguine)

1 cup of parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta.
  2. Set your heat to medium-high and drizzle a frying pan with your olive oil and add your cooked pasta to the pan.  Move the pasta around so all of it is covered by the olive oil.
  3. Add your garlic powder and ground pepper.
  4. Add a touch of your parmesan and stir through.
  5. Gradually, add more parmesan, stirring through each time.  Your goal is to get the pasta slightly crispy.
  6. Once you have the pasta at your desired crispy level, serve.

I hope you enjoy these recipes that have helped me feel at home no matter where I am.  They may not be my mom’s amazing recipes, but they are great quick meals that will be done within forty-five minutes of starting.

Finding Time for “Me Time”

Finding Time for “Me Time”

As we enter the holiday season, the hustle and bustle is exciting, but also can be overwhelming.  It feels like there’s always another task to get done, another person to see, and another place to go.  The constant motion is exhausting. In these days more than ever, it’s important to take time to ourselves.  Call it your designated “me time.”

My designated me time is Friday mornings from 10 AM- 12 PM.  During this time, I have no obligations and am free to do what I want.  Sometimes, I’ll watch a television show I’m behind on. Other times, I’ll read some articles I had saved, but hadn’t had time to read.  Then, there are other mornings, like yesterday, where all I want to do is curl up on my couch with my warm drink and think. And for those two hours, I can do that.

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My me time is not at all extravagant– it’s simple and actually, boring.  But, when I cut those two hours out of my week, everything feels off. I feel more stressed out– like I’m constantly running with no end in sight.  Those two hours a week are what center, calm, and refocus me for the coming week.

It’s time to breathe.

I always repeat that self-care is a journey, with successes and failures.  Finding two hours a week to dedicate just to me has been a huge success. However, I want to emphasize that me time doesn’t look the same for everyone.  For some people, their me time will be a walk around the neighborhood. For others, it might be painting or drawing, while there will also be people who elect for meditation as their me time.  

Me Time is not one size fits all.

It’s a struggle to find what works for you.  I had tried making my me time going to the gym– while I still go to the gym, I didn’t find this was a calming time for me.  I tried making my me time when I journaled, but I still felt crazed. I struggle with meditation and so, it couldn’t be my relaxant.

It was in trying all these different methods though that I realized what I needed from my me time.  I needed no pressure and no obligation. I needed the ability to be quiet and loud, depending on the day.  I just needed free time.

And, when in doubt, I listen to Billy Joel’s Vienna, a song that I mention very often on this blog.

Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while

 

 

 

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Sometimes, we just wish for the past.  There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with our present, but something in us longs for an era gone by.  That’s the nostalgia kicking in.

My week started off with a midterm on Monday and has been followed by a packed schedule of interning, tutoring students, and juggling my extracurriculars with my academics.  It’s one of those weeks where there’s nothing really bad happening, but it still feels overwhelming. To add to matters, I’ve been starting to feel stir-crazy at school, just wanting to get out of Washington, D.C. for a little while and breathe.  What is this all the perfect recipe for? A lot of nostalgia for my Disney College Program.

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Working at Storybook Circus with two of my favorite people, Abbey and Amanda

My time at Disney wasn’t perfect and yet, there is nothing more that I yearn for at this moment.  I’m craving the winter days spent at water parks, the days spent laying on the Hub grass with a view of Cinderella Castle, and the unexpected perfectness of random days spent eating all the food Epcot had to offer.  It’s been six months since my program ended and as I’ve finally gotten used to school again, my time in Disney feels like nothing more than a fantasy I created. It’s become my perfect dream.

As I think about my time at Disney and this craving I have right now to go back, I wonder: is it the place I wish for or is it the people?  I have not seen many of my friends for six months now, with no end date to this separation in sight. As I think of the days I am looking at nostalgically, I realize it’s the people who make the stories so beautiful.

It’s ranting with Kelsey over noodles and ice cream.  It’s car rides home, singing Taylor Swift, with Julie. It’s the long talks at 2 AM with Destiny.  It’s gossiping with Sadia. It’s the smiles (and groans) that were shared with Jordan as we passed each other during a work day.  It’s the photoshoots with Jenn. It’s the laughter in the kitchen with Beth Anne. It’s the adventures with Kelly. It’s the random late nights with my coworkers who became my best friends.

I could go on for years, listing the name of each person who made my time at Disney so special.  I realize now that it’s not the Magic Kingdom nor the rollercoasters, not even Mickey or Minnie that I’m so badly craving and am nostalgic for.  It’s my people.

When it comes to feeling nostalgic, I think it’s important not to push those feelings away.  You long for a time for a reason: find that real reason, not just the surface one. However, don’t dwell on your longing.  You cannot live in the past and if you do, you miss out on the present.

I am grateful for my college program and I am so grateful for the people it brought into my life.  However, I will not dwell on my longing to be back in a day gone by. Rather, I will think of my friends and know that as Mickey always says, I’ll see ya real soon.

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A Letter to My Mom on Her Birthday

A Letter to My Mom on Her Birthday

There is no one like mom.  My mom is my world: she’s the first person I want to share my successes with and the person who I know I can call when life falls apart.  She’s the one who has been silently cheering me on since I was small. I don’t say these things to her enough, even at all. I should.

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With self-care, we often look at it as a tool to make the hard parts of life easier but it should also be a tool to recognize the great parts of our lives.  One part of self-care is recognizing those who love us and we’re most grateful to. That’s what this post is about today: recognizing the crazy amount of love and care my mother has given to be.  I felt the best way to do this is a letter.

 

Dear Mom,

I wish I could tell you how much I want to be with you today.  It breaks my heart to hear you say that today is just an ordinary day when it is far from ordinary– it is your birthday, and that is very special to me.  I don’t tell you often enough how special you are to me. It’s hard for me to exactly describe what you mean to me, but I want to try.

In elementary school, you had to come countless times to pick me up from the school nurse’s office because I had gotten myself injured somehow.  You didn’t yell about my clumsiness. You didn’t tell me to stop my tears. You held my hand through it all.

In middle school, when I came home from school crying, you were there.  You sat and listened to me cry about how girls could so cruel. You comforted me as I felt alone and confused in my friendships.  You stayed through it all.

In high school, you dealt with all my mood swings.  You supported me when I achieved success and listened when I failed.  You sometimes yelled, but you never judged. You listened to it all.

In college, things have been different.  I don’t get to go home everyday and sit with you and tell you about my day.  Still, you care. You read this blog every day, you follow up on everything I tell you, even the silly, nonsensical things. You care for it all.

Our relationship isn’t without its flaws.  At times, I feel I am too similar to you to bear, with us both getting irritated at seeing our own faults front and center. Sometimes, I envy the ease of your relationship with my sister, where you don’t have to overcome this similarity.  But these negatives mean nothing when compared to all the love within our relationship. These faults do not stop us from loving or caring for each other. They make our relationship human– it is perfectly imperfect and true.

I hope you know how much you mean to me.  I would not be the person I am today without your unfaltering love and support.  You are my greatest influence and you make me a stronger, better person. If I can live my life giving out to the world just half the love you have given me, I will have lived a great life.

Thank you.  I love you.

 

Today, I challenge us to all to recognize those who give us unconditional love and the effect it has had on our lives.  There are so many people who love us, with no terms or conditions, and they make us better. They pull us through our rough times and into the light.  We cannot achieve self-care or self-love without recognizing these amazing people in our lives who make everything possible.

 

Home is Wherever I’m with You

Home is Wherever I’m with You

Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room?  There was just something in you that told you that you didn’t belong here but everyone else did.  If you’ve ever felt that way, you know that it is the most heartbreaking and isolating feeling. You just feel like you don’t belong anywhere.

 

This feeling of belonging is something we constantly are all searching for.  It’s a feeling of love and appreciation and acceptance. It’s feeling like in that moment in time, you are exactly where you need to be.  

 

Sometimes, having multiple friend groups from different parts of our lives can complicate this.  If I belong somewhere, can I still belong where I have been before? Can I belong with my high school friends if I truly belong at Georgetown?

 

Yes.  Each community may love and appreciate us in different ways, but this is so essential for us to be a whole person and to love ourselves.  You can be loved in different ways.

 

Where do I belong?

 

I belong at Georgetown.  The people here are so influential for shaping exactly who I am.  At the newspaper, they push me to grow professionally and to stand strong for what I believe in.  My sorority sisters are a huge aspect of my support system: they cheer and root for me. I belong with people who help and support me to grow.

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Women of The Hoya, Georgetown’s student newspaper.

I belong with my Disney community.  They saw me not for my plans and achievements, but for the love I was willing to give the world.  I belong with people who remind me to show love to the world and remain empathetic, even when I’m scared of being open.  

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Magic Kingdom, April 2018

I belong with my friends from high school debate. These friends have watched me grow from a young and confused teenager to a slightly less confused young adult and have stood by for every phase.  I belong with people who watch me grow and love me anyway.

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Yale Debate tournament, September 2015

I belong with my childhood best friends. They know me for my best and my worst.  They’ve seen my weird phases and even joined in.  I belong with people who don’t judge me, no matter what.

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My 13th birthday, July 2011.

There is not one way to love.  Different people in life will love us in different ways, but each time it is just as valuable and just as important.  That love is a sign that we belong.

 

If you’re reading this and are struggling with feeling like you don’t have a place in this world, please know that isn’t true.  You have so many people who love you and appreciate you and with you belong with. They may not all be located in the same place, but they love and care about you.

 

If you ever feel alone and need someone to talk to you, reach out to me.