Sep
10

If you made my favorite brown butter + sea salt chocolate chip cookies this past weekend and left me a comment or sent me an email then quite frankly, I love you! I am trying my best to respond to each of you to let you know that your sweet (and funny!) messages make me smile and are sincerely appreciated.

I think the best part is that many have told me that they are the best cookie you have ever had! But most of all I think you should be proud of yourself because you officially now know how to brown butter (which will particularly good for more Fall recipes I have coming)! Hehe.

Of course, I realize that many of you read my blog for my creative, healthy recipes, but I’d like to emphasize that I believe in moderation. I once lived life eating healthy all the time, depriving myself of the things I wanted the most. I ate egg whites, oatmeal, protein shakes, vegetables and lean meats consistently. I rarely touched a cookie or ate pie (my favorite)… shocking, I know. However I realized the joy that came to me when cooking for others and especially loved educating on healthy eating; that’s why most of my recipes have healthy twists while still being creative enough to make you feel like a chef in your own kitchen. Simply put, Ambitious Kitchen is about inspiring you. I’m bringing my passion for food to life through your eyes.

Now, I don’t believe in any one ‘diet’, but I exercise almost daily, eat consistently healthy, and indulge occasionally. So although this blog is not a health or fitness blog, it is geared to those with active lifestyles or of course, anyone looking to learn to cook for themselves.

Or if you just love staring at photos of food like this delicious breakfast (or anytime, really) taco.

This recipe came about when I had an intense craving for smokey, salty salmon with warm, fluffy eggs; a combination frequently found on a typical restaurant’s brunch menu. So off I went to stalk Trader Joe’s where I made about 17 different loops around the store just to drool over everything new. If you shop at Trader Joe’s, you know what I’m talking about.

I was so excited when I found these amazing blue corn tortillas! I am even more excited that I bought two packages so that I can make homemade blue corn tortilla chips for football games I don’t even watch.

While I am not a huge football fan, I am a fan of anything wrapped in a taco that I can devour.

 

Read more.


Jul
25

I promised myself that this Summer I would try to set out some time for myself each day. Lately it’s enjoying a perfectly sweet cocktail while watching tangerine painted sunsets; those moments make me want to savor summer forever.

I’ve also discovered that one of my favorite things to do is to get a little crazy cooking in the kitchen. It’s like a competition with myself; how many dishes can I create in one day?

Last Sunday, I pulled five recipes out of my head and made it my mission to finish them all before the night was over. It’s quite possible that I looked like I was on some sort of drug; every inch of kitchen counter space was filled and my pants had about nine different stains on them. Dough flew, marinades were made, and I probably chopped about 23 vegetables; it was so much fun! And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

Sometimes I believe that good things come from chaos. Just take a look at this buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth salmon.

Mmmm I lovvveeeeeee me some fish and the man behind the butcher counter at my local grocery store knows this for a fact. I have been stalking him for weeks asking when he was going to have walleye in (the Minnesota state fish). Apparently the waters have been too warm in Canada so they haven’t been able to net them. Don’t you worry though, I’ll continue to ask. I mean I’m practically there daily anyway.

Instead of walleye, he suggested I bake salmon for a sensational summer meal. Okay… he didn’t actually use the word sensational, but I felt like that’s what he was voicing to me. Anyway in an effort to make the salmon CRAZY GOOD, I marinated the life out of it with an asian inspired sweet teriyaki sauce.

HOLY. WHAT THE… it’s SO, SO GOOD. Even better than…

Well, you know I’m not sure what it’s better than. It’s just really, freaking good. The marinade is simple enough to make yourself and baking salmon is like baking chicken. No really, it is! Don’t be nervous about overcooking it, just at least give it a try for me. Pretty please?! I’ll bake you cookies if you do.

Oh, you’re convinced now? Well that was easy.

For ease, I purchased teriyaki sauce from the grocery store (soy sauce would also work), then whisked in olive oil, garlic, ginger and a little honey and brown sugar for sweetness. I poured it all over the salmon and marinated it until I got hypoglycemic hungry… like to the point of passing out. I wanted to eat my arm. What? Food is so much better when you’re ready to eat everything in sight.

Oh, and don’t you worry about that quinoa, because we’ve already discussed the ease of making it fluffy and delicious in 15 minutes or less. This time it’s cooked in a little bit of garlic salt for that bit of pizzaz. All you really need to do is stir-fry veggies and drink a little sangria… or guzzle it, I mean, whatever works best for you. I choose guzzle.

See? It’s not complicated or time consuming. And now you’ll have extra time to spend time with your honey. Or just in case your single, catch up on reality TV and pin things on Pinterest. For me? Grocery shopping and butcher stalking… totally normal!

Alright time for you to get a little crazy in the kitchen. Sensational salmon is calling your name.

Sesame Ginger Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir-fry
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner, Salmon, Fish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious, healthy salmon has never tasted SO good.
Ingredients
  • For the Salmon & marinade:
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound salmon
  • For Quinoa Stir-fry:
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • Extras
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if desired
  • extra soy or teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients: teriyaki sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and honey. Place salmon in large ziploc bag and add marinade. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. (I marinated my salmon in a baking pan because I ran out of ziploc bags.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Remove salmon from ziploc bag and place skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork. I found that 18 minutes was absolutely perfect. **See notes for additional information on cooking times.
  3. While salmon is cooking, prepare quinoa stir-fry. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water with garlic salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add quinoa and cover; simmering until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and sliced bell peppers; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes more. Add quinoa to vegetables, then add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes if desired.
  4. Spoon quinoa stir-fry evenly into 4 bowls or plates. Immediately place salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Glaze with extra teriyaki sauce. DIG IN!
Notes
Inspired by How Sweet Eat's Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon
Salmon is very sensitive and can dry out easily if overcooked, so make sure you watch your fish! For every inch of thickness of the salmon, generally it takes about 10 minutes to cook. Usually salmon fillets are about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Preparing quinoa ahead of time makes this dish even easier; simply reheat quinoa and add to stir fried veggies.

Aug
28

Pancakes in the morning. Ice Cream every other Sunday from Dairy Queen. Animal humane society visits. After school reading. Nature walks. Kite flying. Watching scary movies together. Poking fun at Grandma. Doing math homework. Making sandwiches. Watching America’s Most Wanted. Cooking fried chicken. Going to the State Fair.

Those are some of my favorite memories with my Dad.

He was special. No, actually he was more than that…  He was extraordinary.

One of my favorite pictures, my Dad and I at the Minnesota State Fair

 

My Dad had bright blue eyes, a big smile, and a voice that could fill any room.

He was the type of person who loved getting up early in the morning, just so he could enjoy the day longer.  The type of person who knew to enjoy the sunlight and appreciate every hour, every moment.

In my eyes, he could do anything.  He could fix my brakes, paint my room, bake the best yellow cake, give advice on life, and even make me laugh in my worst moments.

 

Four years ago on August 29th, 2007, I lost my Dad.  A day that I never knew was coming until I got a phone call.  I’ll never forget it.

But, I’ll also never forget how much he influenced me and made me the person I am today.   How much he is still present in my life.

I think of him often and miss him.  I wish he could have seen me graduate college, begin my career, and even this blog.  I know he would have been proud.

And so I bake.  I bake for the memories. I bake for joy.  I bake to soothe my soul.

I bake for you Dad.

 

Dad always loved a classic yellow cake with chocolate.

Bake these. Say I love you with them. Say Happy Birthday with them. Say thank you with them.

They’re extraordinary cupcakes, for something or someone extraordinary.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Dad's Extraordinary Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cupcake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A yellow cupcake made special by my Dad.
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup whole or 2% milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh coffee
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. You can also double the recipe to make a 9 x 13 pan cake or 24 cupcakes.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Put aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
  4. Next add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until smooth. Pour batter into cupcake liners, do not fill more than halfway. You may have extra mix left over.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 23-27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out nearly all the way clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes about 12 cupcakes.
  6. For the ganache: put the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and coffee in a microwavable bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring each time until melted. Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache.


Aug
25

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking about the title of this post.  But before I can explain it, I have to tell you something.

I’m completely jealous right now. Like green eyed full of envy jealousy.

The blogger that inspired me to create my own blog, Emily from SugarPlum, is doing something that food bloggers only dream about… She’s cooking with Giada De Laurentiis! Big congrats Emily, you deserve it!

I love Giada. She’s authentic, adorable and she puts Italian words into English conversation. Plus she’s an amazing chef.  I’ve been watching her religiously on the Food Network.  Ridiculously addicting.

The Food Network is taking over.

Sandwich King, Giada, Bobby Flay, Paula… oh and Cupcake Wars! What a great show. I even emailed the people from Cupcake Wars to see if I could compete on the show, but they said you need to have your own business. Well guess what, my ‘business’ is baking ridiculously amazing cupcakes. Just ask my mom, friends, or my dog.

What? Animals have rights. And Lucky loves cupcakes. Point is, the Food Network is missing out on my lovely cupcakes.

But this isn’t about cupcakes or Giada.

This is about potatoes. Sweet ones. With a little bit of spice. Okay, okay and everything nice. Just cause I made them for you. ha.

Spicy sweet potato fries.

Super easy, super healthy. And they are super super yummy. Wait, what? Super is a weird word.

But listen, if you want to eat healthy and you crave fries, these babies will welcome you with open arms.  Sweet potatoes have lower carbs and they are complex, meaning your body takes longer to digest them. That equates to you feeling fuller, longer.

That also means you won’t be going back for that second piece of pie… or third.  And I’m sure you like making healthy choices.

Or maybe you don’t?

If that’s case, we should become friends.  Because you’ll choose these over Mickey D’s fries any day.

 

Alright…  I’m getting to the blueberry part.

No silly it’s not tomato ketchup, it’s blueberry ketchup. It’s sweet, but salty… and it’s good.  

 

Spicy sweet potato fries and blueberry ketchup: A match made in heaven.

 

 

Where are your favorite french fries from? Do you make your own? Buy them? Are they from a restaurant/fastfood place? 

For Blueberry Ketchup, see recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries with Blueberry Ketchup
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Spicy sweet potato fries paired with a cooling delicious blueberry ketchup.
Ingredients
  • 4 Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of chili powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and spray pan with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes to resemble French fries.
  3. Combine sweet potato strips, salt, olive oil, cumin, and chili powder in bowl. Toss with hands so sweet potatoes are fully coated.
  4. Place potato strips on pan.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and bake another 15 minutes or until fries are crispy and golden.
  6. Serves 4
 
 
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