Nov
08

I was planning on giving you a recipe for hummus today, but after making these brownies I knew that I had to share them with you immediately! In fact after I ate half of the pan for dinner, I’m quite certain that these brownies are some of the best I’ve ever had.

I don’t even feel guilty about getting chocolate wasted with these bad boys.

I had heard about black bean brownies before, so I’ve been experimenting for a few weeks with various recipes and came up with this to surprise and delight you.

After baking these, I stood there smiling with chocolate all over my face because I had finally perfected a recipe for fudgy healthy brownies that taste AMAZING. Yeah, okay I know you’re doubting me right now. You might even think I’m super weird (which I totally am).

But can you just trust me on this one?

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Oct
22

Besides my grocery shopping obsession, I have a couple other little addictions.

One is the internet. Twitter specifically; I just love it! Also now that I’m finally getting an iPhone, (I can’t even talk about it), I’ll probably be bonkers obsessed with Instagram and every app that I’ll more than likely forget what it’s like to function as a real human being. I mean, it’s already tough enough for me to keep up with all of the new blogs I’ve been discovering online lately. My new favorite is A Beautiful Mess, a blog about everything from beauty and fashion, to crafts and photography. You totally need to check it out!

Another favorite is my friend Stephanie’s blog Frest Tart. Her unbelievably gorgeous food photography, recipes, and fun writing style immediately invites you in. Stephanie also photographs Andrew Zimmern’s recipes for Food & Wine Magazine which makes it even more fun to follow what she’s up to! Visit and tell her hello!

Something else that has been taking up a lot of my time lately? Baking! So you’ve probably noticed. Well, let me just inform you now that the sweet recipes will continue to live on this blog. I just can’t stop. I’ve always loved to bake but this is getting out of control. Seriously, did I need to make pumpkin muffins, cookies, AND apple crisp this weekend? Probably not. But you see, somedays I find that there is nothing that I would rather do then bake my heart out; my stress seems to diminish while mixing batter and browning butter. Why yes, I am a weird human being, thank you.

Mmmmm now I’m thinking about brown butter. But wait… these muffins don’t actually have any butter OR oil in them! Whatttt?!?! I know, I must explain.

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Oct
15

I have a few foods that I have fond memories of. They continue to be my favorites throughout the years.

This got me thinking… what makes food memorable? It is simply the taste of it? Or more of what we associate with our food experiences?

Every time I have hot chocolate I’m taken back to when I used to ice skate with my girlfriends. We’d grab a cup of rich creamy hot cocoa with excessive jumbo marshmallows, whole milk, and all things that fitness magazines say we shouldn’t have.

When I want to indulge in things like that, I remind myself that I’m just living life. You know, enjoying those simple moments filled with laughter, good food and friendship. In fact, those moments are building memories. So damn right, I’m having that hot chocolate!

With extra whip cream thank you very much.

Often times I wonder why I find pumpkin pie to be the best dessert on the planet. I mean, it’s so simple! But eating pumpkin pie reminds me of the first time I made a pie by all by myself. How I crafted the crust with such determination. In that very moment, I was discovering my passion and creativity for baking. So really it’s not the dessert itself, it’s the memories that come with each bite.

Now it’s my soul food; it feeds me happiness in the form of good memories.

To date, one of my favorite meals was scallops with spaghetti squash, roasted red peppers, with this incredible creamy sauce. It was finished with a chocolate soufflé and rich chocolate ice cream. Which of course I devoured. I think it’s memorable to me specifically because of the person I was with.

Time spent with good people can make food special. This I know to be true. Just think about some of your favorite foods. Or the best meal you’ve ever had. It was probably more of an experience and memory rather just based on taste alone.

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Oct
12

Oh hey there. It’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be happier!

Why? Um, because it’s the weekend which means I can cook the five butternut squashes sitting on my counter, drink wine, definitely bake a cake or something, YouTube Joe Biden’s laugh during the debates, catch up on Dexter, go to the apple orchard and make pie, get a pedicure, run until my legs fall off because my best friend just told me we’re running a race in TWO WEEKS, eat a kale salad because I’m trying to be healthy, and do the obvious stalking of Trader Joe’s for a good two hours. No biggie.

One more thing that needs to be added to my giant to-do list? ABSOLUTELY making more of these cookies. Seriously, snickerdoodles… with brown butter! We need to have a conversation about these babies.

These are extraordinary snickerdoodles. And when I mean extraordinary, I mean that they taste like no other snickerdoodle in the world.

IN THE FREAKING WORLD.

Update: Here’s a fun video I made with Gold Medal Flour on how to make these Brown Butter Snickerdoodles!

Okay… I apologize for that writing in caps, I just drank a shot of espresso and watched the political debates so I’m a little hyped up and I don’t even follow politics. I usually just make cookies for political watching parties and pretend like I know what’s going on. But I don’t know was it just me, or was that debate seriously entertaining?

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Oct
08

Happy Monday!

I thought it would be fun to start off the week with 10 random things. Ready?

1. You should rent the movie The Lucky One. I watched it this past weekend and decided that the plot was weird but that Zac Efron is probably one of the most good looking human beings on the planet and totally worth staring at for 1.5 hours. Do it.

2. WHAT THE FREAKING DELICIOUS… Hasselback sweet potatoes with oatmeal cookie crumble? I need to eat these every day for breakfast. Or dessert. I haven’t decided yet; all I know is that it was love at first sight.

3. Trader Joe’s makes Nonfat Pumpkin Greek Yogurt. It’s like a drug, so plan accordingly. Swirl that in your oatmeal in the morning, dip a pita chip in it, or put it in a smoothie. Addictive. Like really freaking addictive.

4. The 32 Best Things About Being an Adult. I can’t decide what my favorite one is. But probably unlimited access to Toaster Strudel? Yes, definitely.

5. Apparently Monica Lewinsky is writing a book. I really think it’ll be up for a Pulitzer Prize, don’t you?

6. Lemon poppyseed pancakes. Put that on your brunch list asap. With blueberry syrup of course.

7. Here’s a 100 calorie guide to your favorite Halloween candy. A bit depressing yet also very helpful as I think one year I ate like 10 mini Reese’s because they were… well, mini?

8. Check out A Cup of Jo; it’s a women’s lifestyle blog that I’ve fallen in love with. (Hint: you might see a recipe of mine over there if you dig around!)

9. Stay weird.

10. October is National Chili month. Let’s celebrate by eating this chili! It’s vegetarian, hearty, and amazing with a smoked chipotle greek yogurt sauce. Extra points if you serve it with cornbread.

 

I ate this chili all weekend. At first it’s slightly sweet, but has a tiny bit of kick from the chipotle tabasco sauce (a must have condiment in my opinion). It’s also full of a medley of spices including tumeric, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. Ugh it was everything I wanted: sweet, savory, and perfect for a chilly fall day.

I swear you’ll fall in love with it. And it’s hearty enough to last you a couple of days. Or if you prefer, you can freeze half of it and take it out later during the winter when you need a big bowl of comfort.

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Sep
23

I love when my weekends are full of good cooking.

Yesterday I enjoyed the day grocery shopping, eating a huge greek lunch with tzatziki (my favorite!), and drinking a little white wine… or A LOT of white wine. No biggie. For a quality nutritious dinner, I destroyed a giant cup of frozen yogurt with four flavors: pistachio, cheesecake, vanilla bean, and red velvet cake batter. Seriously extraordinary.

But then today a little bit of magic happened.

Cause I made this banana bread.

And I made it vegan.

And gluten-free.

And irresistibly healthy.

Because I love you, duh.

This recipe was inspired by my dark chocolate raspberry oatmeal banana bread, which happens to be my favorite banana bread EVER. The ingredients call for gluten-free oat flour and I love making it myself; all you do is throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Simple and easy!

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Sep
16

I’ll never forget the day I fell in love with baking. I was 7 years old.

My Mom decided that we would make a homemade pumpkin pie for the holidays. We spent hours deseeding and roasting pumpkins. I always enjoyed our time together in the kitchen because she gave me the best tasks.

On that particular day, I was in charge of making the pie crust look beautiful and fancy. Using my small hands, I tried my best to mimic the pie crust I had seen on the Thanksgiving dinner table, which of course resulted in something unsymetrical and pretty funny looking. Nevertheless, Mom was beaming at my accomplished pie crust and I was too! Eating the pie was the best part though; each bite brought me comfort and happiness knowing that I helped create a little slice of magic.

And so my love affair with baking began.

These days I find myself so busy that baking seems like a daunting task. It’s time-consuming, and sometimes a little bit complicated BUT I have to remind myself the results of home-baked goods are always unmatched. Lately I’ve been wanting to get back to real baking, the kind that is more like a project. And what’s more fun and interesting then making bagels from scratch? Seriously!

Now surprisingly, I don’t own bread machine, so I kneaded the dough by hand (talk about a calorie burner!); I felt accomplished and proud. Although, using an electrical mixer (such as a KitchenAid) would also work with this recipe.

Alas! I’m here to convince you to make homemade (handmade?) bagels. I’ll take you step-by-step through the recipe so that you can make these too! It’s a wonderful weekend project and great to do with kids. These bagels also happen to be lower in calories than bakery style, plus they’re chewy and toast perfectly. It’s some serious magic.

And since it’s Fall, we might as well make them pumpkin bagels, right? Then top them with a homemade whipped cinnamon honey butter.

So, here’s how we start: we’re going to proof the yeast (basically activate it)! Begin by placing warm water  in a large bowl and adding the yeast along with brown sugar. The yeast essentially feeds off the sugar.

After a couple of minutes add the pumpkin, spices, and 2 cups of bread flour and mix until a sticky dough forms (pictured above).

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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.

 

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Sep
06

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

I know that the title of this recipe is a little absurd and dramatic, but I couldn’t think of any other way to present this cookie to you.

Quite frankly, this is a chocolate chip cookie that will change your life.

Updated: Here’s a fun video I made with Gold Medal Flour. This video doesn’t include the stuffing of the nutella, but it’s still fun to watch how they’re made.

 

These cookies came about when my friend asked me to bake something that he could bring to an event he was going to. Of course, anytime someone asks me to make a dessert I usually end up baking my famous brown butter + sea salt chocolate chip cookies (because they are absolutely phenomenal); however, I wanted to do something a little different with the cookies that would be surprisingly unexpected and delicious.

So off to the grocery store I went, where I proceeded to pace the baking aisle for a good hour. I kept putting things in my basket and taking them out. No real surprise there, the grocery store is my sick obsession. I think I want to live there.

Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter + Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies from ambitiouskitchen.com

Then I realized that there is one delicious little nut butter that isn’t featured in any of my recipes: NUTELLA! I put a jar in my basket and ran to the check out lane absolutely giddy about what was going to take place. I mean, was I really going to stuff Nutella in the middle of a cookie?! I couldn’t wait! I’m not kidding… I really couldn’t wait; I ate some Nutella on the way home from the store. After all, taste testing is really important.

Once I got home, I popped the jar of Nutella in the fridge so that it would be easy to scoop out and place in the middle of the cookies. Next I begin to brown some butter. I should note that browning butter is a crucial part to the flavor of these cookies; it brings out a nutty, caramel flavor. The French even call call brown butter beurre noisette, which translates to hazelnut butter. How perfect is that since these cookies are stuffed with a chocolate hazelnut butter!?

If you aren’t familiar with how to brown butter, I’ve created a step-by-step tutorial for you.

Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter + Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies from ambitiouskitchen.com

After letting the brown butter cool, I mixed my cookie dough and let it chill for two hours in the refrigerator –another VERY important step when it comes to making cookies!

Now you are probably wondering why you have to wait so long when all you want to do is devour a cookie. I’ll explain: putting warm, gooey dough in the oven will result in a thin and crispy, spread out cookie. Also the longer the dough spends in the refrigerator, the longer it has to relax and absorb the flavors of the butter, which in turn will result in a better tasting, chewier cookie.

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Aug
31

I have a little confession…

I don’t eat a lot of Italian food.

I know, crazy right? I think it’s because I’m a tiny bit obsessed with all things Mexican (enchiladas, chips, guac, tacos… etc)! It’s just too good to refuse.

This past week though I just had a craving for ravioli, lasagna, garlic bread or basically ANYTHING ITALIAN. Unfortunately all I had in my cupboard was tomato sauce, but man, did that sauce look good. Like I sort of wanted to eat it out of the jar and call it dinner.

Is that weird?

Yep.

I thought to myself for a very long time about what I could do with the tomato sauce. I mean, besides spooning it into my mouth or just warming it up and pretending it was tomato soup. At one point I considered ordering breadsticks from Pizza Hut just so I could dip them in the sauce, but decided I wasn’t that desperate.

I ended up searching the freezer and found lean ground turkey. Obviously cute little meatballs came straight to mind!

Just look at that steamy goodness!

I especially love this recipe because it only takes about 30 minutes to throw together. The ground turkey is combined with an egg and the following spices: cumin, garlic salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne, basil, oregano, plus a bit of dijon mustard. Now that may seem like a lot of spices, but it results are drop dead delicious!

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