Monday, July 22, 2013

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

So, inspired by the lovely Sues from We Are Not Martha, I decided to pull a bunch of photos off my Instagram account and let you know about some of my new favorite food-related things, plus a non-food-related thing too, heh. I figure, this week I need to catch up on some recipes now that the heat wave has finally broken, but I don't want you all thinking I checked out in the meantime ;) And, because I don't have anywhere else to put it, a poorly-photographed recipe. Huzzah! Things I got for free are marked as such, otherwise it's all stuff I got with my own money :)

Scroll to the bottom if you just want the recipe! (and check out my No-Bake Heat Wave Survival Recipe Roundup or my Strawberry Balsamic Salad Recipe if you don't like these product-y posts)

First off we have a product I received for free via Influenster. I was excited to finally get a Voxbox with a food/drink related item (last time it was more of a beauty box) and after one snafu where all I got in the pack was a bottle of water, the full box came to me with two Dasani Drops to try. I was skeptical about these, since I have tried other brands of water flavor and haven't liked them, but these were actually pretty cool! I looove the coconut pineapple flavor, and I even snuck some rum in it for a low cal cocktail over the weekend. The berry one wasn't my favorite, but I find myself using them to jazz up my water mid-day at work. Fun fact about me: I really, really do not like water. I never have. With a few drops of this flavor, it's a lot easier to get closer to 8 cups a day!
Note: I got this product for free, but opinions are my own. Please email me at quarterlifecrisiscuisine (at) gmail (dot) com for more information and if you'd like a Influenster invitation!

Next up is my new favorite wine of the summer: Bully Hill Grower's Red. I had this at a friend's house over the spring and LOVED it, but forgot the name. Stumbled upon the bottle, which I did remember, and snatched it up. Now, it is rarely not in my fridge, unless I'm between grocery store trips. I'm not a big red wine drinker, but this mild and sweet wine just really hits the spot for some reason. I would looove to put it into a sangria, but I'd be afraid I'd mess up how perfect it is, so I just drink it plain.

If you're ever in Brattleboro, Amy's Bakery Arts Cafe is just the best place to stop for a snack. They always have the best pastries and their lunch menu is pretty impressive. I found myself wandering aimlessly around Brattleboro while I waited for my brother to be done at his internship, and decided to treat myself to a little pastry--cream puff, my favorite. Plus a nice glass of homemade lemonade. And the seating area has lovely large windows and you can watch the trains go by. It was a nice little date with myself for sure!

Moving on to Office Snacks! Blue Diamond's new Bold flavors are my new favorite snack. The spiciness is a great little kick, and it keeps me from craving less healthy foods during the day. My favorite is actually the lime and chili, but this one was on sale and is my second favorite anyway :) I could eat a whole tin in a sitting, so it's been very hard to portion out snack sizes and not just down the whole lot. So far, so good!

My friend Gilana (she's directing this play and if you live in the Northeast you should go to it, BTW) randomly picked these Real Veggie Chips up for me at her local co-op, because she knew my love of Sriracha... and because I was having a "quarter life crisis" day where I was freaking out about my life--happens often. Anyway, where the Lays Chips severely fell flat, these chips do amazingly. The Sriracha flavor is pronounced and the perfect kick of spice, and the veggie chip is a nice mild backup to the Sriracha. I love these and gobble them down when I want something spicy to dip in hummus or just eat by the handful. They are gluten free, low fat, AND low calorie, so I can snack to my heart's content!

Next up is this month's Ipsy haul! Ipsy is a beauty bag that costs $10/month and delivers full size and deluxe sample sized makeup to your door. I LOVE seeing that bright pink foil bag in my mail box each month, and chatting with other Ipsy users as to predictions for next month's bag. This was a GOOD month and I love all the products I got! Eye shadow, lipstick, SPF, anti-humidity spray for your hair (NOT hair spray), and TWO nail polishes. All for $10! Next to the bag is my face, with all the products, minus one nail polish. This curbs my makeup buying binges ($50 in one go at Sephora in my darkest days) and lets me try products before I buy the full size. I found my favorite hair product ever this way, and they even offer a steep discount if you buy a featured product. I have also tried Birchbox in the past, and while I liked getting products in the mail, the sample sizes were, on the whole, a lot smaller, because the products were more high-end. Meaning I was either upset at paying $10 for something I could get for free at a makeup counter, or I was upset that the full size product was out of my price range. Ipsy typically has less expensive brands, so I'm either excited to get makeup at a discount, or happy that I won't pay an arm and a leg for the full product. It's a win all around, I'm sticking with Ipsy!
Note: I spend my own $10 each month to get Ipsy, but clicking my referral link and signing up via my username referral will give me points towards free products. Sign up if here you'd like!

Recently, I went on a trip to Maine, which is where that photo at the verrry top is taken from. While wandering around Boothbay Harbor, I was roped into checking out the Coastal Maine Popcorn Company with promises of free samples. My first sample was this Dill Pickle flavor and I was just in LOVE. It perfectly captured the flavor of a dill pickle, I was in awe! I tried a few sweet flavors and one more savory before deciding on this as my take home. Now I wish I had more! I'd love to try my hand at making my own, I just am not sure where one would get powdered vinegar...

Also while hanging out in Boothbay, we got lobster rolls at Red's Eats! Apparently, they are famous for their lobster rolls, and are on every Maine Top 10 _____ list there is. I got the butter roll, because I really just wanted that butter and lobster flavor to shine! They aren't joking when they say there is more than a full lobster in each roll--the thing was OVERFLOWING. Next time I think I'd get the mayo version though, since I mostly just picked out the lobster pieces and dunked them in extra butter, not treating it like a lobster roll at all, hah. The fries were also lovely and perfectly crisp. The place was PACKED and the line was LONG, but we managed to find a table on the patio out back. It was a great lunch, and while I was sad I didn't consume a traditional lobster during my Maine getaway, this curbed my craving pretty well.

Finally, these potatoes.

When you're a self-proclaimed "good cook" and have a (hopefully!) forthcoming cook book, you tend to get volunteered to cook meals for friend gatherings. We were camping on a friend's relatives' backyard on an island in Maine and decided to only use their kitchen for brunch in order to be as undisturbing as possible to our hosts. Actually, I am pretty sure I volunteered myself for this endeavor, but after I put together these hash browns (or are they "breakfast potatoes"?) the first morning in Maine, it was decided I'd be making them again. I randomly threw them together in the midst of helping to make bacon and eggs for everyone, not using any sort of recipe, and they came out fantastic. So I had to share, even though I'd left my camera at home.

The pictures were from my phone, so they really don't do it justice. But, here's the recipe, just in case.

Ashley's Improv Hashbrowns
(Enough to feed 7 friends)

  • 1 package of bacon (for the grease!)
  • 5-8 large Russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 3-5 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp assorted herbs (pick what ones you like best! Rosemary works amazingly well)
  • salt and pepper, a few good shakes

-Preheat oven to 350.

-Prepare the bacon and reserve all of the grease. Set bacon aside to eat with the rest of your breakfast--here I had poached eggs with Sriracha on a homemade oatmeal bread.

-Toss potatoes with olive oil and herbs. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping the potatoes about halfway through. When done, potatoes should be fork-tender but not mushy.

-Heat the reserved bacon grease in a large skillet. In batches, fry the potatoes until crispy and drain in a bowl lined with paper towels. Serve immediately.


  1. Lobster rolls sound amazing. I am now officially hungry!

  2. Mmm cream puff. Love those hashbrowns too!!

    and that pic of you with the nail polish-gorge!

  3. Bully Hill wines! Yum - those are made somewhat near me. We have them a lot.

  4. I am hunting down the Sriracha chips..
    Agree with the previous comment, you look cute in the pictures.

  5. I love this fun product roundup! THere are so many things I've never heard of before...those sriracha chips, for instance, NEED to make an appearance in my life!

  6. Drats! I wish I would have seen this hashbrown recipe two days ago! We did biscuits & gravy for dinner and had no hashbrowns. These look easy & delish!

  7. Coastal Maine Popcorn ships :)