Nov
21

Smashed Avocado + Tomato on sprouted bread.

Manhattan Beach, California

Brunching at MB Post.

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits, The Best  Eggs Benedict, Sourdough Toast. Persimmon Jam. Honey Butter. Turkey Sausage with Maple + Sage. Mimosas.

Big Apple Red from OPI.

Read more.


Aug
27

How was your weekend? Mine was full of cooking! My roommate and I made arugula salads with fresh fruit vinaigrette, chicken stir fry, and spent hours making chile verde and the best apple crisp in the world. Our bellies were happy.

After all of that cooking, I wanted to bring you something simple: a green chile sauce that goes on top of nearly everything! I’m also a huge fan of how easy this recipe is. All you have to do is roast chiles (or you can used canned), put a couple of ingredients in a pot, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

This green chile sauce is slightly spicy, but it reminds me of all things Summer. You can put it on anything, and is now a staple in my diet. I put it in on eggs,  chicken, over enchiladas, in tacos, basically anything… oh and it’s incredible over squash. See?

Doesn’t that look good? I can’t wait to share a million other things that make Fall the best season everrrrr.

Until then, I’ll savor ice cream cones, shorts, the bright blue ocean, fresh fruit, iced coffee, and everything else that makes Summer oh so good. Here’s a look at some photos that I’ve snapped over the past month. (The recipe for the sauce is at the end of this post.)

Won’t you savor the rest of Summer with me? Preferably with this roasted green chile sauce; I’m telling you it’s soooo worth it!

Now, if you don’t know how to roast green chiles, here’s a great tutorial (with photos!) from the Pioneer Woman. Basically all you have to do is place  green chiles under the broiler for 10-15 minutes. Cool, huh?
You’re gonna need this recipe for another recipe I have coming soon!
Homemade Roasted Green Chile Sauce
 
Author: 
Recipe type: sauce, topping
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Roasted green chilies are combined with tomatoes, garlic, onions and spices to make a great sauce.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup roasted hatch green (or Anaheim) chilies, skinned, stemmed, seeded, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken or broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, add olive oil and chopped onions. Cook onions until they become slightly caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Next add the chilies, tomatoes, broth, cumin, salt and pepper to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  3. Gently whisk in cornstarch and cilantro and continue to simmer another 10 minutes until the sauce becomes thicker.
  4. Transfer to a blender and puree sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
Taste test and add honey or brown sugar if the sauce is too spicy for you.

Aug
09

I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for nearly a year! It seems like forever ago, I was sitting in my college house attempting to determine what I would call this blog.

It also seems like yesterday I was helping my Dad in the kitchen; we were always baking together. Our favorite thing to bake was a moist yellow cake with a simple, but extraordinary homemade chocolate frosting (also known as the best birthday cake in the world). Although the recipe is simple, I don’t know it’ll ever taste the same. I’m simply not sure I could ever put enough care, or for the matter, enough love into a cake like he did.

Every time we made chocolate frosting, Dad would always add in a little freshly brewed coffee. When I asked why, his answer was simple, “Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor.” I remember looking at him like I was puzzled, and he responded, “Because that’s just the way it is Loveys (my childhood nickname).”

And I was okay with his answer, because it was Dad telling me so. He made things so easy to understand.

Our days were simple together. We had fun flipping pancakes, flying kites, and reading books. I drew pictures of him while he watched TV. Once we even made homemade butter because I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder for a good six months. Our moments of laughter will never be forgotten in my heart. And yet after nearly five years of life without him, I still ache for our weirdness; our absurd obsession with cake, pickles, and the perfect sandwich. These past five years could never erase any moment with him; it just brings a better appreciation.

Losing him was a striking, bold moment in my life that left me wondering what I was meant to do, how I would survive without a parent… or simply carry on. But I did, and will continue to. I’m pouring my heart into my passion.

You see, there are moments in life when you are blindsided, and it will happen to you, I promise. Why? Because it happens to everyone.  Life is simply a building experience of beauty, tragedy, and significant moments that change us for the better, even if we can’t see it in the present. Our defining moments are our worst moments, yet remembering the positivity behind every life experience can enable us to flourish.

I decided that I would never live my life waiting for the what-ifs; for those unexpected moments to sneak up on me. Of course I’m not perfect; I just want to experience what life has to offer. I know what I’m capable of, where my passion lies, and how hard I have to work to get there. Maybe the odds are against me, but I’d rather try to do something and fail then always wonder about what-ifs.

I also want to enjoy living in the moment… and right now that includes eating pancakes every single morning.

A year ago I didn’t think I would be living in Washington DC. Six months ago I never knew that I would be making my way to California. It never crossed my mind that I’d ever be dreaming of being a chef, or a cookbook author! But these were choices, and I’m choosing to design my life.

I have plenty of goals that I want to accomplish in my next year of blogging. I want to cook more and challenge my abilities in the kitchen. I’m hoping to improve my photography and writing as well. Last but not least, I’m going to bring a more personal touch to Ambitious Kitchen… there might even be some cooking videos!

Anyway, maybe now you can see why I’m so passionate about the things I do: about food, this blog, and mostly just about life. And when I ask myself why I’m a little overly ambitious, I can almost hearing my Dad say, “Because that’s just the way it is Loveys.”

I hope you’ll continue to read Ambitious Kitchen as it continues to grow and change. Thank you all so much!


Aug
06

Is it really August?

Oops! I forgot to do a post on my July favorites!

Instead I wanted to catch you up on my life; what I’m doing, working on, and loving! Most of this involves food.

Obviously.

We haven’t had a sweet recipe for FAR too long. How rude of me.

Butter + sugar + lots of love in forms of cakes and cookies coming soon.

AND PIE…. that’s another obvious.

I’ve discovered that cookie dough is really crazy good and addicting. BUT I think the smell of homemade cookies out of the oven is even better; I would never get sick of coming home to the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

That’s why someone should bottle it up and sell it as a men’s cologne. Instant millionaire!

There are an abundance of zucchinis the size of my arm in my garden. They are not even genetically modified so I don’t know what’s happening there. Good things will come of this though, I promise.

I love creating feel-good recipes with fresh summer produce.

You know, when I’m not eating pie.

This just seems to be the summer of cooking! Every second I get I’m in the kitchen doing way too many things at once.

Just look at that weird brown-greenish sauce! It’s actually an amazing homemade green chile sauce. I put it on everything for a week straight.

Things are getting really good in my kitchen. Like really, really freaking good. I can’t stop having fun. No, no…. maybe life is getting good? Like really, really freaking good? I am 23 after all!

And because I am 23, my veins operate on caffeine.

WAIT… that’s not right, is it? I’m supposed to only need coffee once I have kids. This might be an issue someday.

Until then, I still love a good cup of coffee. To me, it’s the perfect way to start my morning. My roommate introduced me to the French Press annnndddd it could be the best thing ever. I also really love Peet’s Coffee.

Since being in LA, I’ve been trying to check out new restaurants. On Saturday, I had these incredible baby scallops and a fresh summer salad with figs and pea shoots at Hot’s Kitchen. Then delicious watermelon and mint cocktails at Silvio’s BBQ.

But do you want to know my favorite discovery was?

A little social house  with a super creative chef: Manhattan Beach Post. We went there for brunch this past weekend. I ordered a Burrata and Roasted Red Pepper sandwich and my friend had and incredible eggs benedict on top of a bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuit. HOLY… what?! So soooooo good. 


I’ve been listening to Lana Del Rey’s album non-stop; Summertime Sadness is one of my favorite songs. Her voice makes me feel like I’ve been thrown back into the 60’s. Just listen!

My mom made me plantains which are a traditional staple in Puerto Rico. There are countless ways to prepare and use them. Don’t they look like bananas?

Anyway that’s just a little bit of my summer for you. Right now I’m working on a huge project and have been enjoying summer as much as possible. Don’t worry, I’ve got lots of recipes coming soon!

 


Jun
28

June is nearly over, but Summer is just getting started.

I’m excited! The 4th of July is next week and I can’t wait to celebrate. Usually it’s full of cinnamon rolls, grilling turkeys (seriously), watching fireworks, and making an absurd amount of patriotic cakes and jello shots. I wasn’t planning on posting a red, white, and blue themed recipe, but who knows perhaps you can persuade me.

Now quite frankly it’s been a busy month for me. I was jetting around the country. BUT I still found some fun things I want to share with you. Let’s start with this cookbook.

Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is a lovely baking cookbook based on a real life bakery in Savannah, Georgia. Their motto is simple, “Slow Down and Taste the Sweet Life”. I couldn’t agree more! The book is full of simple yet creative baking recipes that make you want to immediately jump in your kitchen and get out the flour, butter, and sugar.

Through reading this cookbook and sampling the recipes, I realized that the owners Cheryl and Griffith are extremely passionate about sharing their love for baking and food with others. Their recipes come straight from the heart and you’ll find yourself pulling out this book to bake every chance you get. I highly recommend it!

Now look at these gorgeous cakes I found while standing in line to order at Alcove, a cafe in Los Angeles. The brunch was superb and worth the huge line and wait. I got the power breakfast, so nothing crazy but I had a bite of a friend’s chicken sausage and goat cheese omelette–just amazing.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a cake home with me. Which only means I have to go back again soon!

For Father’s Day I made my famous brown butter & sea salt chocolate chip cookies. Not for my Dad, but for a friend’s Father’s Day BBQ. Seriously have you guys tried them yet? They are sweet, salty, and perfect over cold ice cream. I served them warm over Breyer’s Vanilla Bean (my favorite). It was magic in a bowl.

Even though my Dad isn’t here with me anymore, I know he would have LOVED those cookies for Father’s Day!

What else have I been up to?

Hmmm… yoga on the beach! It was the ultimate form of relaxation. Well, as relaxing as exercise can be anyway.

I’ve also been eating way too much Trader Joe’s turkey jerky! It’s ridiculous how good it is.

It’s also crazy how much I’m there. I’m a TJ stalker.

Getting ice cream in the Summer is such a tradition. The other day we went to Dairy Queen and Ben got his favorite: a double fudge cookie dough blizzard. I didn’t even know that existed.

My favorite blizzard is still banana cream pie.

I can’t forget to mention all the cute summer accessories I’ve been seeing around. Here’s a necklace from Anthropologie that I’ve been eyeing for quite sometime. I love bright colors paired with a white top or jeans, especially with a nice summer tan.

By the way, I’m on Pinterest. Follow me!

Sooooo I saw these drop dead delicious crispy baked asian chicken wings I just knew I had to make them! They’re very easy to throw together and can be done in just about an hour. Um and they’re really freaking goooooood. Seriously if you are looking for great recipes that your entire family will love, then you need to check out Kelly’s blog Just A Taste.

Kelly and I also have an obsession with this guy right here:

It’s Ari from this season’s Bachelorette! I can’t believe how addicted I have become to that show. I seriously think I would cancel a date to watch it. I normally never watch television religiously either! If you’ve been watching I’d love to know who you are rooting for.

I have a lot of shows I need to catch up on. Revenge, Mad Men, and True Blood are all some of my favorites. I’ll save those for days I feel like baking cookies and relaxing.

Lastly, I found out some disappointing news last night. I didn’t get the job that I desperately have been working hard towards. I guess you could say it was my dream job.

I didn’t necessarily need the job, I just really wanted it. So today, I’m actually completely bummed, but I have to remember that there is so many other things to look forward to. I’m still only 23 and sometimes out of failure or rejection comes wonderful opportunities.

Remember the best is yet to come. 

Have a great weekend everyone!


May
31

Hello. Hiiiii. Hey. Long time no talk.

It’s been a week since the last time I blogged. I’ve missed you all. There really is not a good excuse for this silence other than the fact that I’ve been super busy lately and I’ve had a string of bad luck. I was buried in work, then my computer crashed. Fun times. I didn’t cook for a good five days because Memorial Day weekend was a total blur. I don’t have to explain why.

Poor excuses, but I hope you’ll get over it and read everything I’ve loved about May.

Good, let’s get started then.

First of all I’ve been cocktailing around a bit. Summer patios call for drinking outside.

This picture was taken inside so I guess my previous statement is sort of irrelevant. I did have a really good grapefruit martini though.

Fruit, it’s everywhere. Peach bbq sauce, mango salsa, and my favorite, strawberry buttercream. Somebody needs to have a farmer’s market party.

Gorgeous sunsets on the lake. Ahhh Minnesota summers.

Trader Joe’s creamy peanut butter! I’ve got an amazing recipe coming your way soon.

Seriously this peanut butter could be the love of my life, but then I remembered these pancakes. I have made them alllllllll month long. It kind of went like this: Dinner? Pancakes. Happy hour apps? Mini pancakes. What are you thinking about right now? Pancakes.

I happen to think making pancakes is incredibly romantic.

If you are wondering how flipping pancakes can be romantic, then clearly you need to get in your kitchen Sunday morning with your sweetie and share a plate. Put chocolate chips in them. Laugh. Drink a mimosa while you’re there. Just be with eachother and eat pancakes!

Seriously make it happen.

What about banana breads with crazyyyy additions.

Brown butter strawberry. Bacon peanut butter. Nutella. You name it and it’s going in my banana bread.

My super cute new running shoes with neon laces. I’m picking up running again now that it’s nearly summer.

I’m happy to report that I’m back up to 5 miles. Unfortunately I think my legs might fall off soon. Oh well.

Cooking with kids… it’s like the best thing ever! They’re so creative, it amazes me. Here is Benjamin making homemade baked chicken fingers.

Seriously get in the kitchen with your kids, you’ll have a blast. Promise.

My grandparents! Look how cute they are. Spending time with them is one of my favorite things in the world. My grandma and I went cooking crazy. I’m sharing her famous waffle recipe soon and I’ll have a recap of my trip. I know that was like two weeks ago… I need to get it together.

Besides all of this. I really want you to check out my favorite new artist Lana Del Ray. I’m obsessed. Go listen now!

As always, come chat with me on Twitter and Facebook. Of course I’ll be back soon with recipes.

 


Apr
26

 

Since April is almost over, I wanted to take the time to talk about the things that I’ve really fallen in love with over the past month.

Facebook and Twitter. I use them a lot and it’s the easiest way to ask me questions or just to say hi! Make them your favorite. 

Let’s get into it. I’m nuts for coconut. Head over heels in love with it and I’m not sure why. Maybe because I can put it in banana bread and still keep it healthy.

Coconut flour is AMAZING (more coconut love). It makes gluten-free waffles taste like candy. Especially when you add vegan coconut whip cream on top of them. Any coconut lovers out there?

I purchased Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Wow… it is completely fantastic! I want to cuddle with it everynight and dream about all of the recipes. The gorgeous, vibrant images will blow your mind. Even though the recipes are vegetarian, they are entirely unique, easy to follow, and above all, delicious!

I finished up the second Hunger Games book too. Sadly it wasn’t as good as the first which means I probably won’t read the third. I will however go to all of the movies and bring my own popcorn from my house. That’s what big purses are for.

I started reading Women, Food, and God again. Basically it’s about not opting out of life when things get difficult. I enjoy reading it when I’m in a stressful situation. If you are a woman and in love with food (like me), I suggest reading it!

The beach is always a favorite. And California. So pretty.

I’m very much in love with the blog Bakeaholic Mama. I found it through Tastespotting. Carrie takes some great photos and makes fun meals for her family including Red Velvet Oreo Cake and amazing looking Broccoli and Ham Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I drool like a puppy dog over her recipes!

Mmmm Mexican. I want it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ll never get tired of it. I’m especially excited for Cinco de Mayo. Sometimes I call it Cinco de Drinko. Maybe that’s after a few margaritas though? I dunno. I might have to whip up something special for my favorite holiday. Any requests? Get in my belly enchiladas!

THIS SANDWICH. It’s incredible. Eggs and avocados complete me sometimes. They make a good food marriage. I think I eat eggs at least once a day. I hope I don’t end up having an egg shaped head like Adam Sandler.

Figuring out how to do this yoga move has become an obsession. Can someone please teach me? Either that or I’ll just continue to fall flat on my face and entertain others in class.

Strawberries are in season! My Mom’s favorite dessert is strawberry shortcake. I’ve never been a huge fan but it was practically the only dessert she made when I was growing up. (My Dad was the baker in the family.) If you haven’t noticed, I’ve made Strawberry Bruschetta and even Strawberry Buttercream lately. I’m full of berry love.

Okay, my ABSOLUTE favorite thing this month is the Dairy Queen Banana Cream Pie blizzard. I had it a couple weeks back when I was feeling indulgent, and I’m smitten! I actually want to combine it with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to make it even more out of this world. What’s your favorite blizzard flavor? Or if you could create one what would it be?

I think I’ll probably do favorites every month, so if you have anything you are loving be sure to share!

Let’s chat soon. I’ve got some healthy breakfast recipes coming!


Dec
22

It’s my special day today.  Twenty-three years ago my parents didn’t know what to name me.

They finally settled on Monique Noella. 

It’s feminine version of my Grandfather’s name. He’s a pretty cool guy!

Noella, is a combination of Noel in the spirit of Christmas, and Ella, my great grandmother’s name.

Just some birthday facts.

This past year has been completely amazing! To make the next year just as great, I’ve thought up 23 new things to do.

23 things to add a little more spice in my life.

Take a look at my list.

1. Remind myself that it’s okay to be a kid sometimes and bake more things with excessive frosting and sprinkles. Watch out, donuts are next.

2. Take a vacation with my best girl friends. Asians, Gingers, and Blondes have way too much fun. Obviously.

3. Buy a stranger coffee everyday for a week. It might just make someone’s day. Plus, it’s good karma.

4. Become a Yoga instructor. Namaste.

5. Go to a baseball game. Drink beer and eat a ballpark hot dog.  I don’t drink beer or eat beef, so this will be new!

6. Bungee jump! This scares me like no other. Thinking about it is making me sweat.

7. Go camping! Like real camping. But only if I get to make these babies.

8. Start a food business. I’m not sure how I’ll find time for this… but it’s my dream.

9. Be active everyday somehow. I say power shopping counts!

10. Take the train to New York or Boston all by myself. Visit amazing friends from Australia. I miss you all.

11. Meet someone who has been on Top Chef. I’m leaning towards Spike or those cute twin brothers.

12. Bake a unique banana bread every month for someone new. Totes best idea ever.

13. Go see Beauty and the Beast 3D.  This is serious!

14. Try every new cereal that comes out. Multigrain Peanut Butter Cheerios… I love you.

15. Stay up all night and watch the sun come up at least 10 times. Preferably on an exotic beach or mountain.

16. Go out and pretend I’m turning twenty-one again. Great idea. Period.

17. Try karaoke again. Even though I know I’ll more than likely be awful at it.

18. Have conversations with random people everywhere I go. Listen to their experiences. Learn from their stories.

19. Go surfing more often. Take lessons if needed.

20. Read at least 17 books. Find something unique, don’t read everything on the bestseller list.

21. Go to the ballet. Watching Black Swan doesn’t count.

22. Order dessert more! Life is short and should be sweet. I know you agree.

23. Look around, smile, and genuinely appreciate everything in my life. Every single day.

 

This birthday girl is happy. It’s been a phenomenal year full of opportunities.  The older I get, the wiser I become.

I’m excited to be 23 and to see what the next year brings.

May you live all the days of your life.

As always, thanks for reading.

 

 
 
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