You Like Me! You Really Like Me!!

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of finding out that I had been nominated for a Liebster Award over on Purple Closet Beauty!  For those of you unfamiliar with the Liebster award, it’s designed for the smaller audience blogs with 200 or less readers.  Hello, my four to five readers, they’re talking about you!  When I went to read the award’s accompanying post, I was surprised and delighted to see my blog posted as:

Witty Commentary from Tip Top Shape

Rule of thumb over here – if you want to me to like you, tell me I’m pretty.  If you want me to love you forever and compose sonnets in your honor, tell me I’m witty.  Don’t worry Nathalie, I’m not actually composing sonnets over here, but I am really excited to be nominated.  So, to accept my nomination I will share 10 facts about me and then answer the nomination questions.  Hopefully I can make this mildly entertaining.

THE FACTS – aka Things You Never Knew or Cared To Know About Me

1) I am a TV addict.  At one point, I was religiously following eight shows at once.  This was when I was in high school and lacked real responsibilities.

2) The word blood makes my feet feel all weird.  Like, right now.  My feet feel weird.

3)  I can give the Gilmore Girls a run for their money in coffee consumption.

4) My favorite book and movie is Gone With The Wind.

5)  Nora Ephron is my favorite writer and her works have inspired me in both writing and life.  When she passed last year, I took it much harder than someone who has never met her probably should have.

6)  I’m a terrible cuticle-picker and will often splurge on manicures because I have the mentality that if I shell out a bunch of money to get my nails done I won’t pick at my cuticles.  This logic proves faulty every time.

7) People tell me a lot that I look like Lea Michele.  They also tell me I remind them of Zooey Deschanel.  As neither looks like the other, you can probably understand my resulting confusion.

8) I don’t like tomatoes but love tomato sauce.

9)  I tried going vegan for about a month but then realized I couldn’t live without bacon.

10)  I’m in law school and planning to pursue a career in medical malpractice defense.

THE QUESTIONS – aka More Things You Never Knew or Cared To Know About Me (The Cherry-picked Version)

1) What is your current obsession?

What is not my current obsession?  I sort of love all things.  I’m an equal opportunity lover.  If I had to choose one thing, though, it’d probably be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It’s sort of a timeless obsession since it’s one of my favorite shows, but I have been bingeing on the episodes more than usual lately.

2) What food do you think everyone should try at least first?

Dates.  People give them such a bad rap because they kind of look like shriveled cockroaches.  BUT, they are amazing.  Especially when stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon.

3) What is your favorite city?

I went to Spain a few years back and fell in love with Madrid.  Everyone just dresses so beautifully there.  Sweats are not an option.  I don’t even think I saw that many people wearing shorts or capries (it was summer).  The entire city was just beautiful and full of history and culture.  I loved every minute I spent there.

4)  What was your biggest surprise?

When I went to law school I was really worried that I wouldn’t make friends quickly.  I usually take some time to warm up to people, but I clicked with so many people immediately here.  And the best part?  I’m still friends with all of them!

5)  Last book that made you laugh?

Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? (And Other Concerns) is one of the funniest books I have ever read.  Her humor is so much like mine and I find myself laughing at every page.  She has an entire bit about why she does not have one night stands that literally could have come straight from my own diatribes to friends on the subject.  Just, do yourself a favor and read that book.  You will not regret it.  And if you do, you can come back here and tell me that I have terrible taste in books.

My Nominations Are:

Rach @ This Italian Family — her posts never fail to make me smile!

Autumn @ Good Eats Girl — her recipes are just fabulous

Fancy This…Fancy That — okay, this one is larger than 200 followers, but Ameena is too fabulous to not include!  Her posts are HILARIOUS.

A Bitchin’ Kitchin – Maggie has some amazing recipes and her blog name may be the best out there

Hope you check these lovely ladies out!

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Roasted Chickpea Tacos

Last night I decided to pretend that I was on Iron Chef instead of doing my work.  In retrospect, this was not the best idea.  I don’t know what it was about last night, but I wanted to do nothing related to law school.  I did everything I could to avoid doing actual work.  That meant washing nearly all the dishes in our dishwasher, which is currently broken.  I then went ahead and made dinner.  Made some random kale.  Cleaned the counters off.  Baked some rainbow sprinkle blondies.  Then it was eight o’clock and I had to watch The Following.

By the way, if you are not watching that show start immediately.  It is SO GOOD.

Anyhoo, then it was nine and I had to face the sad fact that I did, in fact, have work to do and I could not put it off any longer.  I actually ended up being very productive for the next two hours and went to bed without an ounce of guilt.

I mentioned dinner above, and it was one to put in the books.  As you might ascertain from the title of this post, I made roasted chickpea tacos ala Mama Pea.  It’s the perfect weeknight meal that is not only delicious but surprisingly healthy.  Crispy spiced chickpeas are paired with salsa, cheese and soft flour taco shells.  I didn’t even miss the meat in here because the chickpeas were so flavorful.  I have the leftovers on dock for lunch this afternoon, and I am already counting down the hours until lunchtime.

So, the bottom line is you should make these.  But preferably in a week when I am out of leftovers and you can invite me over.  I’ll bring the margaritas.


Roasted Chickpea Tacos

Photo: More tacos is always the correct answer

Ingredients:

1 14 oz can of chickpeas

2 tsps chili powder

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp water

8 taco shells

Taco trimmings:  salsa, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, etc.

Directions:

Mix together all the ingredients except for the taco shells and taco trimmings and let marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roast chickpeas until slightly crispy, 25-30 minutes.  Assemble the chickpeas and trimmings in the taco shells.  

Stuff your face.

Source:  Peas and Thank You

Easy Garlic Bread

Please do not judge me by this garlic bread.  Because I already judged myself a whole lot when I made it.  Garlic bread made with garlic powder?  The inventor of garlic bread…whoever that is…is rolling in his or her grave.

I needed a starch to go with a meal this weekend and I didn’t have time or stove space to make something more substantial.  I thought about infusing the butter with garlic.  I thought about taking a clove and rubbing it directly on the bread.  I even thought of making it fancy with some herbs.  But then my sautéing steak decided to gift me with some exploding oil (no joke – it tried to take my face off) and my company was coming over in fifteen minutes.

I wanted simple.  I wanted easy.  I wanted some bastardized garlic bread.

The great thing about this is that it really is minimal fuss.  Just slice up some french bread.  Slather it with melted butter.  Sprinkle garlic powder.  Pop it in the oven.  When it comes out slather it with more butter until even the old Paula Deen would have been telling you to put the stick away.  That’s the mark of good garlic bread, in my opinion.  Lots of butter so that the crisp of the toasted bread is answered by the soft butter soaked center.

If you’re having a big fancy dinner with nice plates and ritzy wine, then this is not the garlic bread for you.  All those other dinners?  This garlic bread is for them.

Easy Garlic Bread

Photo: The most bastardized garlic bread known to mankind.

Ingredients:

1 loaf french bread, halved and then cut into slices

garlic powder

parmesan cheese

4 tbsp butter

Directions:

Melt 4 tbsp of butter in the microwave and separate half and put to the side.  Place the bread on a baking sheet and brush the butter on top of the bread.  Sprinkle garlic powder on top – using as much as your taste buds like.  Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese.

Broil the bread for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Brush on the remaining 2 tbsp of butter on the bread and serve immediately.

The Murtaugh List

It’s probably not a surprise to you all, after reading just one post of this blog, that law students go out a lot.  It’s the old adage, “Work hard.  Play hard.”  All week we are slaves to our books and the lawbrary.  We read endless pages.  Go through a ridiculously high number of highlighters.

Then it’s the weekend and we like to go out and pretend that we’re normal people.  Or at least I used to.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I really do like going out with my cohorts.  It’s fun.  They’re fun.  But lately I’ve been feeling like it’s more of a chore than a fun Friday night.  The problem is that I’m naturally a homebody.  I like to go out once in a while, but if I’m being completely honest on a Friday night was I really want to do is eat a burger and watch some Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Bridget Jones’ Diary for the eighteenth time.

The problem is, by the not-remotely-old age of 22, I have lost my desire to rage.  I don’t want to take seven shots.  I don’t want to bar hop.  I want to go to one place, have one beer, dance a little, and then end up home and in bed by one.  Basically, my Murtaugh List has been born.

For those of you who are thinking, “What the hell is a Murtaugh List?”, well, let me explain.  The Murtaugh List hails from How I Met Your Mother and is a collection of things you deem yourself too old to muddle through.  The name comes from Danny Glover’s character in Die Hard who repeatedly says that he’s…well…I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

Maybe it’s just a phase or I haven’t settled back into my old school routine.  I’m leaning toward that because last semester I kept up with everyone else and had a blast doing it.  Either way, I’ll keep the Murtaugh List close.  I’m sure I’ll have other things to add soon like my neighbors playing their music too loud or the price of milk going up.

How do you guys feel about going out?  Love it?  Hate it?  Don’t really care and are just wondering why there isn’t a recipe here?

Lessons In Being Awkward

Today’s post is brought to you by my chronic inability to have successful human interactions.  Alright, to be honest I’m not that bad.  I have a lot of friends and from what I’ve heard people generally like me.  Or at the least, they don’t think I’m a bitch or raging kleptomaniac.  I do have my moments, though, and I want to share some of them with you.

1) When you run into your former crush at a bar a good start to the conversation is not, “So, I hear you’re my roommate’s T.A.”   Like seriously, talk about the weather.  Talk about Kanye and Kim K’s forthcoming kid and how it’ll be front and center in Suri Cruise’s burn book.  Literally, anything would be better than resorting to T.A. talk.  I mean ANYTHING.

2) When said conversation goes down in flames, the correct response is not to just walk away in silence.  This just makes you look strange and will ensure that all future interactions will be uncomfortable.  Plus, don’t forget that terrible conversations aren’t one-sided.  He was being just as dull as you were.

image

3)  There will be a time when you think it’s absolutely imperative to show off your signature dance moves to everyone within arms distance at the bar.  Your friends will goad you on and a few people will play along with feigned interest.  Meanwhile you’re jumping around like a drunk monkey while people are actually thinking, “What is happening and how can I make it stop?”

So, seriously, don’t do it.  For the love of all things Joss Whedon, just don’t.

4) Avoid eating salads in public.  You will spend more time figuring out how to get the damn lettuce into your mouth than actually eating.  Then you will overanalyze whether your inability to eat a salad speaks to some deeper issue and if other people notice and are judging you.  And in the end, you’ll just be hungry.  Really. Freaking. Hungry.

What should you take from all of this?  Well, mainly that I should stay away from men, bars and salads.  Particularly when they are all present at once.  As for my signature dance move, ignore what I said.  It’s actually pretty baller.

Any of you hail from the school of awkwardness?  Share your experiences in the comments!

Pumpkin Bars

Earlier this week I had the grand idea to slowly wean myself off of sweets.  This is largely due to the fact that I ate nearly  half of a box of Fannie May chocolates in one sitting that spanned about five minutes.  On a side note, I feel like I need to add that I didn’t have even a bit of a stomachache after.  If that doesn’t impress you, well, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, after I saw the damage I’d done to that box of chocolates I decided that things needed to change.  I don’t typically like to eat that much sweets and I know it’s just a ring of fire where with each innocent mint meltaway I’ll be setting myself up for craving the next one even more.  So, I did what any other person trying to wean themselves off of sugar would do.

I made some pumpkin bars.

In my defense, they were not for me.  Neighbor dinner was last night and it’s just not a true neighbor dinner without some baked good.  Plus, I had a shit load of pumpkin in my pantry.  I only had two today.  So…progress?

I really loved making these bars because they don’t require a mixer.  If there’s anything I love in a recipe, it’s not having to use a mixer, because I’m lazy and really into not having to pull out my mixer and clean the two beaters.  Because obviously that requires so much effort.  Feel free to roll your eyes because I’m rolling mine with you.

These bars end up having a really nice cake-like texture, which makes them feel just a bit fancier than your usual blondie or bar cookie.  I didn’t do a cream cheese frosting, but that would be a great addition here.

Pumpkin Bars

Ingredients:

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup oil

1 2/3 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Combine the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and flour in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until smooth.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until a batter forms.  Pour into the baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes.  It may take longer depending on your oven.  Mine almost took around 40 minutes, but I think my oven is just running wonky.

Oreo Cookie Bark

One of the best things that I did this first year of law school was getting involved with the Student Bar Association.  For those not versed in law-speak, SBA is essentially law school student council.  We plan a variety of events – both social and educational – for the college of law.  I have met so many amazing people through it, and the events that I have helped plan or execute have been really rewarding.  Most importantly, though, I found a new group of people that I can force my food on.

I feel like when you become a food blogger it’s almost a requisite step that you begin to force your concoctions on anyone within arms reach.  To furnish the blog you are constantly cooking or baking, and you get to a point where you really don’t need more cookies in your freezer.  Seriously, four bags is enough.

I bake something special for the SBA meeting each week.  It’s usually stuffed with chocolate and portable as to keep me from dropping it.  Funny story — one time I was bringing cookies to a party at one of my old workplaces and I was carrying them in a Ziploc bag that was in another plastic grocery bag.  As I was walking the Ziploc bag slipped out and I didn’t notice until I was about a block away.  I ran back, picked up the Ziploc bag of cookies, and then served them as if nothing happened.

Note for the SBA-ers…I haven’t done this to you.  Yet.

My first SBA baked good was actually this no-bake Oreo Cookie Bark recipe.  I made a Facebook status about it the night before, and there was quite the buzz among the SBA-ers.  Immediately following my talking-it-up, I then began to worry that it wouldn’t live up to the hype and I’d be that person who oversold their cooking.  I overreacted and made my roommate taste test a bunch of the batch because I didn’t want to do it myself.  Based on their reactions – and my own once I finally had some – I think I can go out on a limb and say it turned out well.  Make it and decide for yourself!

Oreo Cookie Bark

Ingredients:

16 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped and divided in half

14 Oreos, crushed and divided in half

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Melt the chocolate and mix in the crushed Oreos.  Spread out on the baking sheet and place in the freezer for fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile, get started on the filling.  Cream together the shortening and butter until smooth.  Mix in the powdered sugar gradually until a thick filling is formed. Spread on the hardened chocolate and place in the freezer for another fifteen minutes.

Melt the remaining chocolate and mix in the rest of the oreos.  Spread on the chilled bottom layer of the bark and filling, making sure to spread the chocolate to the edges of the bark.  Freeze until hardened.  Serve chilled.

Source:  Cookies And Cups

Peanut Sauce Soba Noodles with Shrimp

I have been the opposite of adventuresome in the kitchen lately.  I’ve been adventure-less-than-some.  Adventure-if-you-eat-a-salami-sandiwch-one-more-time-you-will-turn-into-one-some.  The immediate issue is that when I get home from school the last thing I want to do is cook.  I used to say it was relaxing, but I think that was when I had some semblance of free time or during finals where anything not involving a book was the greatest thing ever.  I actually looked forward to doing laundry, and anyone who knows me knows that is ridiculous.

Anyway, I’m usually a total schmuck when it comes to dinner so I am pretty jazzed to share with you all this super-easy and super-delicious dinner.  This is something that I actually make fairly often because it comes together quickly but is still more filling than a sandwich.  As much as I love sandwiches, I always feel like I get short-shrifted when I eat one for dinner.  I don’t know.  I’m weird.

I usually make this without the shrimp (might even prefer it that way) but you can’t deny the protein-nutrient-punch that the little crustaceans provide.  Also, it makes it look prettier in a picture!  So anyhoo, make this and you can get a taste of what eating in the Tip Top Shape kitchen is like!  All you need for the full experience is to add a cookie, some wine and a chronic lack of napkins!

I really should buy some napkins.

Peanut Sauce Soba Noodles with Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 bundle soba noodles

6 shrimp, defrosted

1 tsp oil

1 cup pea pods, sliced in half

For the sauce:

Peanut butter

soy sauce

Water

Directions:

Boil water in a large pot and add the soba noodles.  Boil for 5 minutes and then rinse and drain in a collander.  Heat 1 tsp of oil in a medium sautee pan and add the shrimp.  Sautee until cooked through, 3-4 minutes.  

In a blender mix together the peanut sauce, soy sauce and water.  I didn’t measure this because it’s really up to your preference in how thick or thin you like the sauce.  I typically err on the side of more peanut butter because I like a strong taste.  Regardless, the technique for the sauce is pretty standard.  If it’s too thick add more water.  If it’s too thin add more peanut butter.  Bada boom.

Combine all the noodles, shrimp, sauce and pea pods in a bowl.  Serve at room temperature.

Happy Thursday!

Let me tell you, syllabus week does not exist in law school.  I am inundated with readings this week, so I don’t have time for a full post with a recipe and all that jazz.  So, I’ll just leave you with this delightful GIF of Alan Rickman which may or may not represent my current feelings on life.

Happy Thursday aka It’s-Almost-Friday-And-Socially-Acceptable-To-Drink-Wine-And-Get-Weird.

Golden Globes Recap

I don’t understand people who don’t love award shows.  It’s like prom for all the really pretty people of Hollywood, and we get to be all voyeuristic and watch.  What is there not to love there?!  I was going to do my usual fashion post, but there was so much about the show itself that I loved that I decided to just do a “My Favorite Parts of the Show” post.

1) Everything Lena Dunham

I don’t even watch Girls, but I was ridiculously happy for Lena and the show to win.  I think it’s so amazing to see this young writer rise up and sweep the show.  It’s inspiring for all us young writers who hope to someday achieve something.

2) Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

Okay, I watched Alias and I shipped Jen Garner and Michael Vartan real hard.  I was pretty devastated when she hooked up with Ben Affleck and then married him.  Over the years, though, and largely due to the adorableness that is their family, I have grown to be a huge Bennifer Part Deux fan.  And his little ode to her at the end of his speech was ADORABLE.  And then her playing wife at the beginning of her presenting just after?  UGH, dead.

3) Anne Hathaway’s Speech

“Thank you again for this lovely blunt object which I will forever use as a weapon against self doubt” – Anne Hathaway.

Enough said.

4) Tina and Amy

   

I’m going to start the campaign now for these two to host the Oscars next year.  Like, seriously, it would be amazeballs.

#FeyandPoehlerforOscars2014

5) Drunk Glenn Close

I feel like this doesn’t need an explanation.

Did any of you watch?  How did you like it??