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#CookAtSMU: Veggie Meatballs (aka Veggieballs)

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Long time no blog, huh?

From vacations to being sick to planning other exciting Social Squad projects, blogging and cooking has taken a (regrettable) back burner.

But I’m back! And making Veggie Meatballs!

If you know me, you know I’m not the biggest meat eater (not a vegetarian, but usually gravitate towards the vegetarian options), so I was kind of excited to see veggie meatballs in Lidia’s Commonsense Cooking while I was collecting recipes for this project.

These “meat”balls offer a fresh alternative to regular meatballs and, after making them for this video, are one of my new favorite recipes. (I feel like I’m going to be saying that a lot about Lidia’s recipes)

In the video, I fried them, but, in the cookbook, Lidia says that they can be baked at 375 for 25 minutes. Since filming the video, I’ve made them one more time and ended up doing a combination of baking and frying (20 minutes in the oven, couple minutes on each side in a pan). I liked that a little better than just frying. Experiment with different combinations and let me know what you like best!

Now for the recipe!

To make 36 veggieballs, you’ll need:

  • 4 medium-small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 3 medium zucchini, grated (squeeze the liquid out through a towel after grating)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used parmigiano-reggiano)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Olive oil, for frying (or to grease baking sheet if you are baking them)

What you’ll do:

  1. In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and cook until tender (you can poke them with a fork but they don’t stick).
  2. Drain the potatoes. Let them cool enough to handle (which I DIDN’T do in the video and, let me tell you, it was not fun. Look out for THAT in a possible blooper video in the future!) and pass them through a potato ricer (if you have one. I didn’t and used a grater,  just make sure to use the smallest setting).
  3. Add the zucchini, eggs, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, cheese, scallions, basil, and salt to the potatoes. Mix well (use your hands! Just wash your hands first)
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil to coat the pan. Make patties of the mixture and cook them in the hot oil, about 3 minutes per side. Add more oil if you need it.
  5. Season with salt, while you drain the cooked veggieballs on paper towels.

And enjoy!

As always, let me know if you try out this recipe and how you like it!

#CookAtSMU does Eataly

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Lidia's cookbook display at Eataly.
Lidia’s cookbook display at Eataly.

The last week or so has been crazy. With my summer class wrapping up and a family trip to Chicago, I wasn’t able to put together a recipe for last week. I apologize for that, but I had a fantastic opportunity while I was in Chicago that I HAVE to share with you all.

If you haven’t heard of Eataly, you are missing out. It was started by Lidia Bastianich (as well as past #SMUGala chef Mario Batali and several other Italian chefs) and it is one of my new favorite places in the world. Essentially, it is an Italian market. You can get everything from cookies to meat, just the way you’d buy them in Italy. But it’s also so much more than that. In the Chicago store, there are seven restaurants and two stories of delicious food, coffee, cooking utensils, and more!

"Pappardelle con Funghi", my dinner at Eataly's La Pasta restaurant
“Pappardelle con Funghi”, my dinner at Eataly’s La Pasta restaurant

Being in Chicago, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Eataly. Thankfully, my family was more than happy to go with  me and we were even able to eat at one of the restaurants! Each of the restaurants center around a food specialty (there’s one for pizza, one for fish, one for vegetarians, etc.). We ate at the “La Pasta” restaurant, because, well, pasta is amazing. And fresh pasta (which I had) is even more amazing.

While we were waiting for our table, my family and I walked around the market part. We found a jar of spices that our foreign exchange student who lived with us a few years ago introduced us too, as well as some cookies that are made in the town he lives in. I also got an apron that all of the wait staff at the restaurants wear (look out for it in future #CookAtSMU posts and videos!). I originally wanted gelato, but I was so stuffed at the end of the meal that I didn’t have room. Just an excuse to go back, I guess (like I need one).

Eataly is probably one of the coolest places I have ever been and cannot wait to go back. A huge thank you to Lidia Bastianich and everyone else that make Eataly possible. Where would Italian food in America be without you?

Now that I’m back in town, #CookAtSMU videos and posts will recommence later this week with Cheese Toasts and Savory Broth. Stay tuned!

A panorama of the 2nd floor of Eataly, with the market and restaurants mingling together
A panorama of the 2nd floor of Eataly, with the market and restaurants mingling together

#CookAtSMU: Olive Oil & Rosemary Spaghetti

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Here it is! My first #CookAtSMU countdown to #SMUGala!
For my first recipe I made “Olive Oil & Rosemary Spaghetti” which is in Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master. This book was invaluable when looking for recipes for this project. With delicious and simple in the title how can you go wrong?

This was filmed in the Parsons community kitchen, which is the kitchen on campus I am most familiar with, having spent two years living in Parsons. I really like cooking in the Parsons kitchen (and it doesn’t hurt that you can see the TV while you’re cooking haha). Over the next few weeks, I’ll be moving around to different community kitchens so everyone can see all the great places there are to cook on campus!

This recipe is exactly what Lidia titles her book: simple and delicious. You do have to use a stove, so a trip to a kitchen is necessary, but it’s quick and sooo yummy. So without further ado, here’s the recipe of Olive Oil and Rosemary Spaghetti:

To make 6 servings, you’ll need:

  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Needles of 2 bushy rosemary
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

What you’ll do:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta just as you start the sauce.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter in the olive oil.
  3. When the butter is melted, add the rosemary and cook until the needles are sizzling and the rosemary is fragrant. Use your nose to tell you when!
  4. Add 1 cup of pasta water to the skillet and simmer to reduce by half.
  5. When the pasta is al dente and it to the sauce and toast to coat.
  6. Grated cheese on top to serve

And there you go: Olive Oil and Rosemary Spaghetti, a simple and scrumptious dish for everyone. If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

Up next week: Raw Garden Salad. Stay tuned!

#CookAtSMU’s Countdown to #SMUGala

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#SocialSquad at #SMUGala, November 2013
#SocialSquad at #SMUGala, November 2013

As of last Saturday (5/31) there are exactly 22 weeks until the tenth annual Saint Martin’s Gala. I have been lucky enough to attend the last two as part of the Social Squad. I even have a couple blog posts about this awesome event.

For the past three years, Saint Martin’s has welcomed three awesome chefs to Gala: Mario Batali, Guy Fieri, and Michael Symon. This year, the celebrity chef is Lidia Bastianich and I could not be more excited. She’s the “grande dame” of Italian cooking (my favorite kind of food) and the title is the perfect description. She’s worked with Julia Child and cooked for Pope Benedict XVI, she has four TV shows, and multiple cookbooks full of delicious recipes. One of my favorite things about Lidia though is how committed to family she is. She brings in her mother and grandmother’s recipes, works with her son, Joe, and focuses many of her recipes around family. I’m so excited to welcome her into the Saint Martin’s family this November! You can read more about her on the Gala website.

Lidia Bastianich, 2014 Saint Martin's Gala Celebrity Chef
Lidia Bastianich, 2014 Saint Martin’s Gala Celebrity Chef

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting to know Lidia through her recipes. Just before the semester ended, I requested two of her cookbooks (Lidia’s Commonsense Cooking and Lidia’s Italian Table) through Summit and have been pouring over them, reading her detailed descriptions and stories, and getting more and more excited for November 1. Using some of her recipes from the two cookbooks and her website, I have complied a list of 20 recipes that can easily be made in the community kitchens on campus or even in your residence hall room. Each week, through written blog posts, Instagram videos, and a couple full length videos, I will share my attempts at making Lidia’s recipes. Together, we’ll countdown the months, weeks, and days until the 2014 Saint Martin’s Gala. Look for #CookAtSMU on Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress for all the recipes!

Pre-Career Fair Events!

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Every year the Career Center does a great job of putting on a big career and internship fair for students and the greater community. This year, for the first time, they are including some pre-fair events. This is so we can know what to expect and feel prepared to talk to potential employers, especially for the graduating seniors among us that are participating in#SaintsHaveAPlan and preparing for the not so distant future. All students are welcome to attend. The four pre-career fair events will take place next week (March 31 – April 3) at 6 pm. Each event will feature a different aspect of job searching, from how to dress to meeting real business people, including our alumni. Here’s a little sneak peek of what’s in store:

March 31 | Resume Workshop | NWCC @ 6PM

Work with the Career Center to spiff up and improve your resume so it’s ready for the Career Fair on April 8. I’ve had the Career Center edit my resume before and it definitely improved what I already had. Also, doing it in a “workshop” setting that is face-to-face will make the process easier and more straight forward.

April 1 | Dress for Success | TUB @ 6PM

This one is definitely the most interesting of the four for me. I’ve always been mystified by the differences in dress codes and what’s appropriate when. Thankfully, we have the Career Center to help us out, because this event is aimed to de-mystify these differences and show us how to really “dress for success”. In addition to the Career Center crew, Kathleen Heynderickx will be presenting her tips as well.

April 2 | Mock Interviews | TUB @ 6PM

The saying goes “practice makes perfect” and boy is that true. Thankfully, the Career Center is providing just that for interviews. Interviews are often the most daunting part of the working world and being able to practice answering questions beforehand is a great way to relieve a little bit of the anxiety associated with interviews, which in turn will make for a better interview when you get there.

April 3 | Professional Networking Social | NWCC @ 6PM

The week of pre-career fair events will end with a networking social and give students a chance to interact with people that are already in the working world and begin to get their name out there. People want to hire people they know and a networking social like this is a great way to meet potential employers.

These four events are open to all students and if you’re a graduating senior praticipating in #SaintsHaveAPlan you’ll receive another raffle ticket for each event you attend. Sign up today!

Selecting the Perfect Room

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The year is absolutely flying by. I cannot believe it is already midterms and nearly spring break. Of course, midterm also means it’s time to chose housing for next school year. I’ve lived on campus for the past (almost) three years and been through the room selection process twice. I’ve had the opportunity to live in three different room types here on campus and I enjoyed all three.

My first roommate and I at Winter Ball, December 2011
My first roommate and I at Winter Ball 2011

My first year I, like most other first years, lived in the first year part of Parsons Hall. I was lucky enough to get a room that was directly across from the bathroom, the one thing I was particularly concerned about before coming to school. The other thing I was worried about, originally, was having a roommate that I didn’t know. This too worked out better than I could imagine. I had two roommates my first year (one/semester) and both were Japanese exchange students. My first roommate and I got along super well. We would (with a bunch of friends) all hang out in our room and enjoy each other’s company. My second roommate kept more to herself and spent more time out of our room than in, but we still smiled at each and talked every now and again. I feel extremely lucky to have gotten not one but TWO great roommates for my first year of college. Our room was big and spacious with our beds against the far wall. I am so grateful to Residence Life for placing me with two such fantastic roommates.

My roommate and I at St. Gertrude's Cafeteria, May 2013
My roommate and I at St. Gertrude’s Cafeteria, May 2013

As a first year, when I was going through the room selection process, I and three other friends decided we were going to get a suite in Spangler for the four of us. But when it came time for our selection, all the rooms were taken and we had to quickly choose something different (tip for room selection: have a backup plan). We were able to sign up for two suites in the Upperclassman side of Parsons. Obviously I don’t know how it would have worked out if we had gotten our first choice, but I think that being in Parsons was the best way to go. I loved living in the newest building on campus, I loved having a bathroom I only shared with one of my best friends, and I loved having my own space. In addition, I had a fantastic RA and throughout the year a great “3rd Floor Upperclassman” community formed. We hung out during pretty much all of our free time, had movie nights every Sunday, and planned group outing together). That’s definitely going to be the number one thing I will miss about not living on campus; I won’t be able to walk down the hall in socks and hang out with so many of my friends.

My current roommate and I dressed as Flappers for Halloween Kids Club, October 2013
My current roommate and I dressed as Flappers for Halloween Kids Club, Oct. 2013

Around this time last year, one of my best friends  here at school and I were talking about her recent application to be a RA. Though I was happy she was doing something she was excited about and being involved at SMU, I was a little sad we wouldn’t be able to be roommates. I was insistent that I would be in an apartment and there was just a slim chance that she would be RA for the Burton Apartments. But, low and behold, that’s exactly the position she was offered and I was thrilled. Yet again, I was going to live with one of my best friends and in an apartment to boot. I have been so fortunate with all of my room selections and I’m so happy Saint Martin’s Residence Life has provided three great years of on-campus living. With room selection today and tomorrow what are doing? Are living somewhere new? Are you sticking with the tried and true? Tell me your room selection story!

What to do on a long weekend

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With President’s Day just behind us, I thought it might be fun to put together a small little “things to do in Lacey/Olympia” post. Lot of people go home for long weekends, but for those of us to have to or want to stay for one reason or another, we need something to do. Obviously this isn’t exclusive to long weekends, but with more time comes more want for things to do.

The first place I always check when looking for things to do are local calendars and the first local calendar I check is the SMU Calendar (can’t really get more local than that). Events at SMU can be found on the homepage (under smuEvents), on the dedicated events calendar, and the SMU Events Twitter. Some other good calendars to look at for events outside the university are the Olympian’s and Thurston Talk’s.

MattAtSMU, Alex Hendricks, and I at #SMUDragonBoat, April 2013

When there aren’t any events going on, one of my favorite things to do is walk around downtown Olympia and browse through the shops there, grab a cup of coffee, or just walk around Capitol Lake, Percival Landing, or Port Plaza. Port Plaza is one of my favorite places in Olympia. It’s fun most of the time (sometimes it’s a little to windy or rainy to really enjoy it), but it’s particularly fun during The Dragon Boat Festival. I was able to go last year for the first time (pictured left with MattAtSMU and Alex Hendricks) and I can safely say I won’t be missing one for quite sometime. It’s definitely a fun day. This year, it’s on Saturday, April 26. See you there!

Other than downtown Olympia, there are a lot of amazing outdoor activities in the Lacey/Olympia area. The Chehahlis Western Trail is just steps from campus and  is great for jogging, biking, or just enjoying the scenery.  There are also a bunch of parks in the area with a variety of things to do (like playgrounds, basketball courts, trails, etc.). My favorites are the one that have beach access because I love being on the water. Burfoot Park and Priest Point Park are my particular favorites.

Photo by Kathleen Hendricks
Photo by Kathleen Hendricks

Hands down though, my favorite outdoor activity in Olympia is walking Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. It’s beautiful all year round with views of Mt. Rainier, interesting wildlife, and  a boardwalk style path over the land, which is covered in water in the Fall/Winter and dries to soft mud in Spring/Summer. The picture on the right was taken last fall and the whole refuge is just as beautiful . If possible, bring binoculars, because the birds often hide in trees or far out from the boardwalk.

Of course, Washington weather does not always cooperate with outdoor activities. In that case, I like to hang out in one of many cafes in Olympia, going to see movies, or baking in my apartment. When I tried to think of which cafe I wanted to recommend, I couldn’t decide on just one. They all offer different things, depending on what kind of atmosphere you’re looking for. I would just recommend some trial and error; try one out and if you like it, stick with it and if not, try something else. For movies, I always make sure to pick up my $5 movie tickets from Campus Life and if you’re into baking or cooking too, check out my #CookAtSMU posts for new ideas!

What are you favorite things to do in Olympia/Lacey? I’m always looking for new things to try so if you know any secrets I didn’t mention, let me know!