Welcome, I'm Monique! Ambitious Kitchen is a blog devoted to clean eating, healthier baked treats, plus my passion for fitness and nutrition. Bottom line, I love to inspire others in and out of the kitchen! Read more.
How was your weekend? Did you do any holiday baking? I flew back into Chicago on Saturday night then enjoyed a relaxing evening with Tony. We tried to find something to watch on Netflix since we recently finished Breaking Bad, but nothing seemed convincing enough. That and we can’t seem to make a decision ever. What are some of your favorite TV series on Netflix? I thought The Fringe looked really good, mostly because Pacey is in it.
In other news, my birthday is next week (on the 22nd!) and I’ll be turning 26. I don’t know what I want for my birthday treat, usually it’s pumpkin pie but this year I’m kind of feeling a BIG fat doughnut or chocolate mousse. Is it sad that dessert is the most important thing to me on my birthday?
Hi guys! I hope your weekend was absolutely fabulous.
I’m excited and kinda also freaking out about this week. I’m getting ready for the big move to Chicago; but have I told you that I’m the absolute worst at packing? I’m serious! Anytime I go on a trip, I always pack the morning of or late the night before. It’s ridiculous really. This weekend my mom came over to help me pack, while I spent most of my time cleaning out my closet attempting to figure out if I should get rid of any of my clothes, shoes and purses. And then it’s like all I want to do is avoid packing by baking more or shopping myself silly on the internet. Oops.
The exciting part about this week is that I’m heading to Kansas City for Chopped Con, a food blogging conference. My friend Maegan and I are going to stay the weekend and explore all of the delicious bakeries and restaurants in KC, so if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them!
Mother’s day is right around the corner. Each and every day I thank God how lucky I am to have a Mother who is kind, selfless, caring, and encouraging.
My mom lifts me up when I’m down, encourages me to always be the best person I can be, and absolutely loves me unconditionally. After my father passed away several years ago, my mom and I became inseparable. I’ve learned to keep the people you love close, let the little things go, and be appreciative of what you have.
Giving back to Mothers is such a hard thing to do. How can you give someone something who has given you everything? You really can’t. But making her pancakes is pretty close. They’re made with love after all.
These pancakes are incredibly fluffy, moist, and absolutely melt in your mouth. And there’s actually TWO secret ingredients that keep them light, fluffy and tender:
Buttermilk: The tang and richness it brings to baked goods is undeniable. I promise you’ll notice the difference. It’s slightly acidic and so when mixed with baking powder, it will allow the pancakes to rise and keep them from breaking down. The result is a tender fluffy pancake that will leave you speechless – promise.
Greek Yogurt: Adding greek yogurt to pancakes makes them the holy grail of breakfasts, I swear. It helps to thicken up the batter, but still leaves you with the lightest pancake. Pretty magical.
Hey there! It’s been a while since we’ve just chatted. You know about life, fitness, and non-recipes.
Sometimes we have to do that. To just catch up. I hope this doesn’t bore you.
First let me start out by saying that I LOVE salad bars. All of the healthy quinoa salads, kale galore, and every veggie you could imagine is a dream.
Usually I tend to go vegetarian at the salad bars but if I’m extra hungry I’ll get a little chicken. Then there’s always spinach, kale, and romaine for a bit of crunch. I top my salad with chickpeas, grape tomatoes, olives, red peppers, peas and mushrooms. Oh and red onion! I adore red onions. Lastly I drizzle a bit of red wine vinegar and sometimes a dash of sesame oil. TOTAL NOMS.
Oh hi! So if you’ve been making my recipes, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Silk brand milk. Typically I go for their almond milk, but today there’s a new star on my mind: the super delicious Silk Soymilk!
Yes, it’s dairy-free and yes, it’s completely delicious! I love the fact that their soy milk packs protein and good-for-you nutrients! And guess what? Silk is also a part of the non-GMO project! WIN!
So how will you use Silk? Let me offer up a few fun suggestions:
Now that it’s the weekend, I give you full permission to indulge in frozen yogurt with a million toppings. It’s not like you needed my permission or anything; I’m just letting you know it’s a really good idea.
I have A LOT of things to do this weekend and I need to start now! I’m heading to Chicago Monday for a few days plus I’m really hoping to have the new blog design finished within the next month so I’ll be working away. Of course, I’ll be drinking a GREEN margarita at some point.
Anyway I’ll leave you with my favorites from the past week:
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this Irish inspired bread.
Confession of the day: I’m an absolute lover of mini meals because I consider them real treats! For example, my go-to snacks are bananas rolled in toasted almonds, rice cakes with cottage cheese and honey, or cereal with ice cold almond milk. Oh and margaritas! Because those can be considered snacks, right?
Anyway I’m getting back to the point here… I eat a lot of carbs, and that’s a problem. But you guys, I just ADORE nooks-and-crannies english muffins and basically every flavor or Cheerios to ever hit the market (minus Dulce de Leche).
Raise your hand if I just described you, too.
Surprisingly I’ve managed to stop buying both bread and cereal so now the only carb-like food lurking in my cupboards is a pack of rice cakes, low-carb tortillas, and apparently marshmallow creme, which I ate from the jar last night while watching old episodes of Felicity.
I don’t know if you know this but teen drama from the 90s is extremely stressful.
So this whole low-carb thing means that I am forced to give up pasta and opt for something else to pair tomato sauce with. That’s where spaghetti squash comes in handy; it’s gluten-free, low-carb, and freaking delicious! Did you know that one cup of spaghetti squash only has 42 calories and 8 net carbs? I can literally eat platefuls of it!
The real star today isn’t the spaghetti squash though; it’s my homemade arrabbiata sauce — a spicy tomato marinara sauce with garlic and herbs. I was reading somewhere that arrabbiato means angry in Italian, which for me just translates into one mean, spicy marinara! It is sensational, especially when paired with garden veggies.
I enjoy making homemade tomato sauce because I love knowing what ingredients are being used plus the flavors are always bold and fresh. I thought it would be fun to show you how I make my favorite sauce without canned ingredients so that you can enjoy it too! Trust me, once you try this you won’t go back.Read more.
During mid-winter have you ever craved juicy sweet strawberries, bright red raspberries or those blueberries that just burst in your mouth? I think it’s evident by my recipes that I do. I absolutely love enjoying fresh flavorful produce year-round!
My parents raised me to embrace the freshest fruits and vegetables. They also taught me how to be conscious of where my food was coming from; that’s why I love enjoying local in-season fruits and veggies whenever possible. However, when I’m working on a recipe during the holidays, or even if I’m just craving fresh strawberry shortcake or my lemon blueberry quinoa pancakes mid-winter, I’m thankful to be able to find produce from Chile that I can put to good use. I recently stumbled upon the fruits and vegetables that are exported by this absolutely breathtaking country and was utterly impressed with both the flavor and freshness. Recently, I even made my famous apple crisp with some of their apples. It was truly divine.
A unique characteristic of Chile is that their produce is in season when the United States isn’t, plus their richly unique agriculture and nearly perfect climate allows them to export some of the finest quality produce in a safe and sustainable manner. The Chilean geography is a diverse one too, and perhaps is why they’re able to export delectable wine, olive oil, almonds, seafood and much more! It ranges from mountains to rain forests to even deserts; this offers the perfect climate for a wide variety of food to grow.
Oh and Chilean people certainly love their food too! This month Foods from Chile is hosting a blogger contest which offers the opportunity to visit Mercado Central in Santiago, a world-renowned food market, and also other cultural heritage sites. Of course I had to enter, and could not be more excited to be sharing the country’s culture and delicious food with all of you!
So remember next time you’re at the store, look for delicious foods from Chile!
Since Valentine’s Day is next week, I wanted to introduce you to two incredibly sweet people: my grandparents! They’ve been married for over 60 years and are still in love and going strong! Their relationship is truly one of inspiration, and I hope someday that I can have a love as strong as the one they hold together. Gosh, they’re too cute.
In other news, I’ve been pretty much drooling over everything on Pinterest. Did you know that during this past week it was World Nutella Day, National Pancake Day, and National girl scout cookie day? Why do these all happen in the span of a week? Someone needs to schedule these more appropriately for my diet. Ugh.
Guess what else I need to do? My taxes! I plan on chugging like four margaritas after. Anyway let’s get on with it! Here are my Friday favorites from around the web:
I have been craving pizza like a cavewoman. I don’t know what that means, but I want a slice right now. There are no links. I just had to tell you that.
Like peanut butter and jelly? Love donuts? Combine the two and it’s a little magical.
Are you a french fry lover? I sure am! Good quality french fries of all shapes and sizes are one of my favorite ways to indulge on a Sunday.
In my experience, some of the best fries can be found at your local burger joint — you know that hole-in-the-wall spot everyone loves? In Minnesota there’s a small dive bar called The Nook and my goodness… it is completely amazing! I don’t even eat beef burgers, but I would totally devour a Juicy Lucy (a burger stuffed with cheese) if I was there. Oh and their fries? Heavenly, hand-cut, and rich with flavor to balance out that juicy burger. Please go if you ever find yourself in the Tundra.
And now that we’re onto the subject of restaurant fries, we should chat about Manhattan Beach Post in Manhattan Beach, California. This place is one of my favorites and truly has some of the best fries I’ve ever tasted in my life. I should also mention that MB Post makes bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits that are so good they make you want to cry, which is another reason you should stop by. Just please don’t forget the seriously huge steak fries that are so effortlessly perfect for dipping. Mmmm I just lovvveee them!
Now of course, I can’t go around eating hand cut french fries at restaurants allll the time. That’s why I love that Alexia Foods makes frozen fries that come out perfectly crisp when you bake them in the oven. Their sweet potato waffle fries were my go-to snack during the Super bowl and I made an incredible spicy dipping sauce to go with them. It’s essentially love at first bite. And no, I’m not just saying that.
I’ll be working on recipe development for a few partnerships, and also grabbing dinner and drinks with one of my girlfriends. Other then that, my time will be devoted to yoga and getting organized! I’ve been flipping through old photos lately, and stumbled upon this gem of Dad and I at the pool. I wanted to share it all with you because it’s a special memory. The photo was taken in 1990 and apparently my Dad thought it would be cool to wear neon pink swim trunks. What a happy moment.
Anyway since it’s Friday, I wanted to share with you a few favorites links from around the internet. Here we go…
If you’ve been reading Ambitious Kitchen for a while, you already know that I’m completely addicted to grocery shopping. It’s just a thing I do when I’m stressed, or even when I need a little creative outlet. It’s simple: I pace the aisles back and forth, looking at different ingredients and coming up with recipe ideas in my head. And of course, I’m always on the look out for fun new products to tell you guys about, especially if they’re healthy! Or if they have brown butter. Hehe.
This past week The Good Bean company contacted me to see if I’d like some samples of their product and do a giveaway. I usually don’t turn down free food, so of course I said yes!
The Good Bean makes roasted chickpea snacks and Fruit & No-Nut Bars. They’re gluten-free and non-GMO, one serving of their chickpea snacks has as much fiber as 2 cups of broccoli, as much protein as an egg, as much folate as 3 cups of spinach, and they are freaking delicious! Their chickpea snacks come in four different flavors: sea salt, cracked pepper, smokey chili & lime, and sweet cinnamon. My favorite were the the sea salt and sweet cinnamon flavors. I found myself munching on the snacks on my way to the gym. They’re also perfect for topping on salads or even sprinkling on your greek yogurt in the morning!
The Fruit & NO-NUT Bars (made with chickpeas instead of nuts) were by far my favorite. Each bar has 40-60% less fat than the leading Fruit & Nut Bars. They have three varieties: apricot coconut, fruit & seeds trail mix, and chocolate berry. The chocolate berry bar is amazing, and they’re actually filling! The reason the bars aren’t photographed is because I ate them all. Seriously like ripped them open and devoured them. Sometimes I have no self control.