Good morning, coffee lovers! In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day. This is a serious holiday on my calendar which required careful calculation and strategy for hitting up the main coffee shops without over-caffeinating myself ;)
Dutch Bros. is a main coffee drive-thru in the PNW and as part of their National Coffee Day celebration, profit from every drink went to our local Boys and Girls Club charity. PLUS customers were given a full “punch card’ which can be redeemed for a free drink on your next visit. Another coffee hut was offering 4 drinks for $10, and my office even created their own coffee bar in the break room. There were flavored foam pumps (I did not even know that existed!), whip cream, fancy creamers, sprinkles, and coffee-flavored chocolates. My heart was very very happy yesterday.
The coffee love just KEPT ON COMING this morning because a brand new coffee shop literally right down the street from me had its Grand Opening today. They advertised free coffee all day, so of course I pulled in on my way to work. I expected the free drink to be black coffee. Nope! ANY drink, fancy as you want, all for free. They have Oreo Chillers and Rockstar Freezes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and something called a “Caramel Blondie.” Creature of habit, I went with an iced nonfat vanilla americano but I just might go back after work for something a little more festive. Depends on if I feel like going for a run first or not ;)
Anyways, what I’m REALLY here for is to share the last bit of fun from my weekend that included a fishing trip and my very first Blue Apron meal. Last summer, my family vacationed in Mammoth Lakes, California and went fishing very early in the morning. I caught nothing. This trip, I caught so many fish that I had to take a break to let my dad fish without having to continually re-set my line! :)
We mostly caught trout, and threw them right back in the river (after snapping a picture first, duh. It’s 2016.) It was so peaceful to stand in the river, look out into the forest and just appreciate the autumn day.
That night, we got home feeling drained and lazy. Then I remembered that my first Blue Apron box had arrived on Friday and I had 3 different meals to choose from! I love that they come in refrigerated boxes with all of the ingredients pre-portioned. The recipe cards are so detailed and I really appreciate the photos of each step. I picked the “Summer Pepper Shakshuka” with eggs and za’atar. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked a Middle Eastern dish myself, and I think it turned out pretty dang close to the picture!
There was something relaxing about dicing up all of the fresh vegetables. I threw them into a large pan and added the seasonings that came with my delivery. The best part? PITA BREAD. You know how much I love my carbs. The actual pita was already cooked, but it came in a circle like pizza crust. I got to slice it into triangles, toast in the oven and add the za’atar seasoning. They came out flavorful and toasty, just like they should!
Fresh pea shoots brought some color into this dish! The protein came from farm-fresh eggs that were added to the pan at the last few minutes. It seemed like a savory breakfast-for-dinner meal, but breakfast is my favorite so I was completely onboard for that!
My favorite part of cooking Blue Apron meals is how aesthetic they are plated! I know I’m not the only one who’s always proud when I serve a dish that looks restaurant-worthy. Especially with the Instagram food porn that makes a bowl of oatmeal look like pure art. Taking an extra minute for the presentation is one of those simple little things that is so satisfying, and I think every Blue Apron meal includes a very beautiful presentation.
A little feta sprinkled on top and voila! I think the whole meal took between 30-40 minutes to create. It was bursting with flavors that were somewhat foreign to me. I’d never cooked with za’atar, shallots, or pea shoots before. Cost-wise, Blue Apron meals are considerably less expensive than eating at a restaurant. The meals are less than $10 each, but seasonal specials and discounts are always popping up in my inbox. Plus everything is delivered to your door and pre-measured. I’m at that weird transitional phase between an on-campus college student with a meal plan and dozens of campus dining options to living completely on my own and “fending for myself.” Since health and nutrition are so important to me, I hardly want to get into that bad habit of resorting to microwave meals for dinner every night.
I learned about Blue Apron through fellow bloggers PBFingers.com and HungryRunnerGirl.com & I think it is the perfect transition for me to start learning to cook whole nutritious meals!
There are two more new-to-me meals from my last delivery to create this weekend and I can’t wait to try the Summer Udon Salad! (I opted for the vegetarian meal plan.) After a whole week of 5:00am workouts, I want nothing more than a lazy Friday night at home with yoga pants, Grey’s Anatomy, decaf coffee, and some time in the kitchen with a new healthy recipe. Plus all those Udon noodles will serve as my carbo-loading for tomorrow’s long run! Shelby, my running teammate, and I are going to try to get in 13 miles before the weather turns dreary tomorrow morning.
Being “new to town” hasn’t gotten old yet. It’s still a continual summer vacation, even though I’m technically home. Every single weekend is an opportunity to explore somewhere new. The Pacific Northwest to the Big Sky is so diverse, ranging from farmland to forests to waterfalls. It feels like we’ve already seen so much but we’ve barely made a dent in the Idaho bucket list. Which is okay. Because we plan on being here for a while. :)
How many times do you go on vacation thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice to live here?” Some day this vacation mentality will wear off but I’m soaking it in while it’s here. I’m so proud of the fact that my family and I take full advantage of our free time to venture out to new-to-us places and explore constantly. We definitely won’t be able to look back and call ourselves couch potatoes!
This weekend’s adventure took us to Idaho City.
Idaho City is somewhat of a “ghost town” about an hour outside of Boise, but it’s a very scenic drive following the Boise River past a giant reservoir through the foothills and up into the mountains. We reached about 6,500 ft. elevation and it’s crazy how drastically the scenery changes in just 60 miles or so.
Idaho City is a tiny western town…as in population 468. The ghost town was historically the largest city in the Pacific Northwest during the gold rush. It’s civil war-era charm is preserved with original buildings like the court, city hall and homes along Main St.
You can’t miss the eclectic antique shop. It’s a pretty picturesque pile of junk.
We walked the entire town…..in about 20 minutes :) I can’t imagine living where everyone literally knows everyone else but it’s fun to think about. We couldn’t leave without iced coffees from Sarsaparilla’s Ice Cream Parlor, complete with a vintage Barbie fridge and huckleberry flavor everything. We stuck to the usual: iced americano’s with sugar-free caramel and even though we all eyed the amazing ice cream, we seriously tested our willpower and fueled ourselves with grapes and apples instead.
We had grand intentions of hiking 6 miles along a creek but A.) My mom and I are terrified of bears….or really any wildlife in general. And B.) We discovered we didn’t have the right parking permit. But we enjoyed the gorgeous views driving along the mountains and creeks listening to country music and sipping iced coffees so no complaints :)
My all-time favorite TV show Gilmore Girls is like that. Their town, Stars Hollow, is that charming New England town with the town square and town hall meetings, one diner and one church. That simple lifestyle is so attractive when nowadays cities are so big and we are so small. The more advanced we get with technology, the more detached we become and it’s refreshing to see actual communities. I know that everyone wants what they don’t have. People from small towns probably dream of living in the big city just like I dream of downsizing. Still, day vacations like these are so fun to see how dramatically different other people live.
We weren’t ready to call it a day yet, so we had a spontaneous detour to Lucky Peak resevoir….the closest thing to a “beach” we’ve got 1,000 miles away from the ocean. :) Next on the bucket list: wake-boarding and paddle-boarding. Time to meet some friends with boats…
Our weekend also included watching Track & Field Olympic Trials (FOUR of my old college teammates competed and THREE are moving onto finals…..GOOO Lumberjacks!). I also had a Pinterest Win with some American flag chocolate-dipped pretzels that I took to a new friend’s BBQ on the 4th of July. (I don’t always nail my Pinterest crafts – but when I do, I forget to take a picture. #bloggerfail.)
Hope you had a fantastic 4th of July weekend celebrating America!