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!


Jun
26

I’ve always wondered why I am in love with everything that’s breakfast related…or you know, just obsessed with food in general.

I think I finally found the answer after visiting my Grandmother and spending time in the kitchen cooking with her. I’m now quite convinced that a love for food has been passed down to me. I know that it’s something that will be apart of me forever. In fact, cooking for others is absolutely my favorite thing in the world.

My future husband is one lucky man.

Kidding.

Wait… no I’m not.

My grandmother is Puerto Rican, so much of the food she cooks tends to be Spanish inspired; my Nana (Great Grandmother) taught her how to cook everything from scratch when she was a young girl. Ever since then, it’s been one of her favorite things to do. When my Grandma isn’t making homemade pozole, empanadas, and arroz con pollo, she is usually baking muffins the size of my face or throwing together a ridiculous continental breakfast for my Grandfather. Seriously give her a half hour and she’ll make you an incredible meal, but provide her with a couple of hours and you’ll have a masterpiece to eat.

She treats every meal she makes with affection, putting the utmost love into her creations — it’s an extraordinary quality. She pours her soul into stews and she throws her spice for life into spanish rice. Cooking is like an expression to her, and everything is always made with love.

My Grandma and I are two peas in a pod. I admire her in every way. I love her best though when she’s making me brunch, which often includes her famous buttermilk waffles. Crispy on the outside, warm and perfect on the inside.

When she made these incredible buttermilk waffles my Grandpa and I joked that this was probably the healthiest thing she made for us during my stay. I even specifically remember that she once asked me if I wanted waffles and ice cream for dinner. Another day she tried to feed me this pile of pastries for breakfast.

So wrong, but soooo good.

I think I’m still trying to burn off those calories, but hey, you only live once, right? I just have to teach my Grandma about the term ‘everything in moderation’. I mean, at least for my Grandfather’s sake.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you might remember when I mentioned that he’s had a couple of heart attacks. He’s still going strong though!

Did I mention they love each other like crazy? I mean, they are the ultimate romantics. Here’s a picture of my Grandpa attempting to fix my Grandma’s watch after it suddenly broke while we were out. He made it his mission to repair it immediately himself, walking to every shop nearby to see if they had a special pin for the band. Sure enough, he found one!

They both love and take care of each other. I think that’s pretty incredible to be going strong for nearly 60 years.

Cuties.

As I’m writing this, I’m fondly remembering the morning my Grandmother made these waffles for us, partly because they are the best waffles I’ve ever had. It was Mother’s Day and we all enjoyed a breakfast full of eggs with green chile, pastries (ugh, SO MANY PASTRIES), waffles and of course, coffee. As I was spreading peanut butter on my waffles and drenching them with syrup (best combination ever), I looked around the table and thanked God for my amazing family. They’ve taught me so much: to cook, to be determined, to laugh, to love, and to absolutely never give up! 

Now I’m the one pouring my heart and soul into the food I cook: whipping up pancakes with such care, crafting a skillet chicken (with pepperoni sauce) that only kids could adore, and browning lots of butter for the best chocolate chip cookies (the way to win anyone’s heart).

Cooking is my romance and I’m bringing it to you. I hope you’ll stay awhile and eat some ridiculously good waffles with me.

With butter, syrup, and whatever else your heart desires.

Grandma’s Buttermilk Waffles

Cooking Spray

1 3/4 all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, if desired

Directions

  1. Preheat waffle maker. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, butter, vanilla, and brown sugar (if desired) until blended. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients; mix well.
  3. Pour batter into a preheated prepared waffle iron; cook according to manufacturer’s directions or when steam stops.  Top with maple syrup, peanut butter, honey, or fresh fruit preserves

Notes

  • You can add in additional ingredients such as: 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup coconut, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, dash of cinnamon, or whatever you’d like
  • I always spray my waffle iron with cooking spray before cooking each batch, I recommend doing the same
  • Makes 4 cups of batter or 5 waffles

Jun
24

There’s something about pizza that’s irresistible.

Who can just stop at one slice? Especially kids! Seriously, put a large pizza in front of two kids and it will be gone in approximately 5 minutes… then they’ll want cupcakes immediately after. How do they do it?! Bottomless stomachs.

I’d love to go back to that carefree world and eat a whole pizza for breakfast.

I’m being serious here.

I ate bagel bites alllll the time when I was a kid. Cute, delicious little pizza bagels is what they were. And let’s not forget about stuffed crust pizza! Too good. But please NEVER eat a pizza crust stuffed with hot dogs… that’s just disturbing.

As perfect as pizza can be, in any shape or form, I’ve never been a huge fan pepperoni; however, I made a spicy pepperoni tomato sauce, spooned it on top of skillet chicken, and topped it with mozzarella cheese. MIND BLOWING is what it is.

WHAT? The sauce is DAMN good. Quite possibly now the love of my life. No big deal though, I’ll walk you through the deliciousness so you can experience it for yourself in less than 30 minutes!

First we start with the best ingredients for the best sauce: roasted garlic pasta sauce (any type of tomato sauce would work such as marinara), fresh minced garlic, pepperoni, oregano, and fresh basil.

Saute pepperoni and fresh garlic for a few minutes. Savor the smells.

Note: I used turkey pepperoni; it tastes the same but has half the fat and calories of regular pepperoni. You can usually find it at your local grocery store.

 

Next, add your pasta sauce to the pan and add oregano.

Look at that steam rising!

Add red pepper flakes if you desire to make the sauce spicy, otherwise you can leave them out.

But please do add them. My motto: Spice up your food, spice up your life!

Now we add in the million dollar basil. Stir, and get a little obsessed.

Set the sauce aside. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper and cook in a skillet until golden brown and juices run clear.

Once chicken is cooked, spoon the pepperoni sauce on top. Resist the urge to just eat the sauce by the spoonful. I have no willpower sometimes.

Add cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for two minutes.

Remove and garnish fresh basil leaves, extra cheese, and/or extra red pepper flakes!

Even though I’m not a parent, I know that it can be difficult to find healthy meals that kids will enjoy. Just trust me on this: put something in front of them that tastes like pizza, and you’re golden. Using reduced-fat cheese and turkey pepperoni makes it even better for them and you!

Of course there are endless possibilities with this: Throw it on top of pasta or stuff it in a whole wheat pita (pita pizza)!

It’s a truly simple, healthy weeknight dinner that can be whipped together in a flash. I’m all about that.

 

Something else I’m all about? That Magic Mike movie. Drool.

 

Skillet Chicken with Spicy Pepperoni-Tomato Sauce

Cooking spray

2 cloves of garlic, minced

20 slices pepperoni (I used turkey), coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups healthy tomato pasta sauce*

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
  3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes and cook until chicken juices run clear. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Notes

  • *Use any pasta sauce you like, I recommend healthy low-sodium marinara sauce or a roasted garlic
  • Adapted from Cooking Light
  • Leave out red pepper flakes if cooking for kids, or if you don’t enjoy spicy food

Jun
21

I’ve been a bad girl.

…in the food blogging world.

I’ve neglected one of my favorite things: writing and cooking for you!

It’s been so beautiful that hot summer days and beach sunsets are getting my grocery shopping obsession a little bit off track. I just can’t help but soak up the sun and ocean every chance I get.

I’m also the girl who can never turn down breakfast, which is why I’ve been brunching around LA quite a bit. Brunching for hours is good for the soul. And quite tasty too! Fresh squeezed orange juice, dirty chai tea lattes (a must-try!), gorgeous fried egg-avocado sandwiches, acai bowls, blueberry buttermilk muffins; these things make me overjoyed.

I mean, you just know it’s been a good weekend when you can go to brunch and chow down on chocolate chip pancakes bigger than your face. Double points if you’re eating to cure a headache. Come on and laugh… you know it’s true.

It’s unfair that we can’t eat french fries and pancakes all the time, but with incredibly delicious vegan soups like this I don’t even miss them. That’s just a lie; I actually LOVE french fries all the time (especially with these homemade dipping sauces)!

Nevertheless this soup still is exceptionally good. The ingredients make the perfect combination of sweet and savory. It just reminds me of all things summer. Garlic! Onion! Carrots! Chickpeas! Tomatoes! Sweet Potatoes! Cumin! Fresh Basil!

I felt extremely satisfied after finishing off a bowl. In fact, I even told myself that it canceled out all that weekend eating and margarita downing. I only wish that were true.

This soup was inspired by a recipe for tomato-chickpea soup from one of my favorite new vegetarian cookbooks, Herbivoracious. A few weeks ago, I attended a book signing and cooking demonstration by Michael Natkin, author of the cookbook and blog Herbivoracious. The book if FULL of gorgeous vegetarian photos. I can’t wait to try out more recipes; some are even vegan and/or gluten-free too!

Michael sampled delicious stuffed polenta (a recipe in his book) at the event, signed my cookbook, and even told me he LOVED my blog name! Awwww.

One last thing. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving away this cookbook to one of my readers!

All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me your favorite brunch spot (and what you eat there, obviously)! Also, be sure to like my Facebook page; where I’ll announce the winner a week from today!

 Don’t forget to make this soup! You might love it as much as french fries.

 

Vegan Tomato, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Soup
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup, Vegan
Vegan Tomato, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Soup -- healthy, easy to make and delicious!
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1-(16 oz. can) chickpeas
  • 1-(16 oz can) diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted)
  • 2 cups vegetarian broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • fresh chopped basil, for garnish
  • 1 sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in  a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and salt; saute for 2 minute. Add the diced orange pepper and carrots to the pot and saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the entire can of tomatoes to the pot. Next add the chickpeas, vegetarian broth, cumin, basil, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium, add diced sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  3. Serve, garnished with additional basil and/or avocado slices if desired. Serves 4.
Notes
Adding things like quinoa, chicken, pork, or turkey would make this dish higher in protein

Feel free to add parsley or cilantro instead of basil

You can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer.


Jun
12

Hey you! Yes, YOU! I like you… a lot. You brighten my day.

I feel so lucky to have such incredible readers; readers who make me feel amazing and inspired every single day. Many of you have been tweeting with me or posting on my Facebook page letting me know which recipes you’re loving, or what’s inspiring you to cook. Some of you have even sent me an email saying how my recipes have encouraged you to eat healthier. You are all so sweet and I’m OVERJOYED that this blog has inspired you.

I don’t know what to say other than… THANK YOU! It’s appreciated more than you know!

Now, let’s talk about quesadillas.

I love them. Adore them. Salivite over them! Yeah, I’m pretty weird but you’re probably okay with that by now if you’re still reading this.

Quesadillas are a traditional mexican dish that usually involves cheese and a savory mixture of vegetables and/or meat. They’re one of my favorite meals to put together at the last-minute because it involves throwing delicious combinations in a tortilla and toasting or frying it until crispy and golden brown. These days the traditional quesadillas have evolved into something wonderful: breakfast (or dessert) quesadillas!

It’s as simple as this: I am obsessed with the peanut butter and banana combo. Typically when I’m in a rush I put the duo on an english muffin and barely remember inhaling my breakfast, but I was getting a little bored with that. So instead of the usual, I thought I’d make it interesting by making peanut butter and banana quesadillas and adding in seasonal, ripe strawberries for a sort of PB&J twist.

My mind was BLOWN AWAY after one bite. In all seriousness, yours probably will be too.

If you’ve never experienced the peanut butter, strawberry, and banana combo–prepare to be amazed!

First of all–the strawberries in the quesadilla! They almost taste like they were roasted–exploding with flavor and juicyness from the heat. It reminds me of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, except with a fresh, more interesting appeal. The crunch of the tortilla and the warm, creamy peanut butter makes me wish I could go back to grade school and demand ask nicely for this in my lunchbox.

When making quesadillas I always use whole wheat-low carb tortillas because I love the nutty flavor of them, plus whole grains keep you fuller, longer. I recommend using Joesph’s Tortillas, but any whole grain tortilla would work well. This also would be an optimal pre or post-workout snack or meal because of the good carbs and healthy fats.

Additionally I HIGHLY recommend trying this for dessert. It’s pretty guilt-free, perfect for sharing, and kids will even love them. Plus they are vegan, and you could certainly make them gluten-free by using GF tortillas.

The possibilities are endless! Think about it.

Wouldn’t replacing nutella for peanut butter be dreamy? Or perhaps sprinkling in a few mini chocolate chips? What about dipping them in a warm chocolate sauce?

THAT could be like tasting a little bite of heaven. But those are just suggestions, feel free to get creative!

As requested, nutritional information is included.

Just please note that after this quesadilla, you’ll never want to settle for a traditional PB&J again. If you try them, be sure to let me know what you think.

Peanut Butter, Strawberry, & Banana Quesadillas
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Serving size: 1/2 quesadilla
  • Calories: 263
  • Fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 36g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 8g
Recipe type: Breakfast, On the Go, Healthy, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious breakfast quesadilla stuffed with peanut butter, bananas and fresh strawberries. A great on the go breakfast.
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray or butter
  • 2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 whole grain tortillas
  • 1 large ripe banana, sliced
  • 4-5 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and spray pan with cooking spray.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter evenly over each tortilla. Arrange both the banana and strawberry slices over one tortilla, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon, and top with the remaining tortilla, peanut butter side down. Press gently to help them stick together.
  3. When the skillet is hot, add the quesadilla, flipping once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla into halves or quarters.
  4. Serves 2-4.
Notes
For a dessert version try adding 1 teaspoon of mini chocolate chips in
Serve with honey, maple syrup, vanilla greek yogurt, or chocolate sauce
Try with different nut butters, nutella or almond butter would be good
The nutritional information below is based on using a flour tortilla. Using a low carb, whole grain tortilla would lower the calories and carb count. It would also increase the fiber.

Jun
10

How was your weekend?

I was really hoping to catch Snowwhite & the Huntsman, but didn’t get around to it. Have you seen it? Charlize Theron looks unbelievable in the previews. I hope I look that good when I’m 35. If I keep running like I have been I might get there.

On Friday my friend and I were supposed to get up at 6am for a 6-mile run. We’re attempting to train for a marathon… or just run really long distances as I haven’t decided if I’ll actually do it. Anyway neither of us could get out of bed so we opted for an evening run instead… which was awful. Miserable even! I thought I was going to die; the sun was beating on my face and I was literally sweating waterfalls. It was 90 degrees out and instead of 6 miles, we decided to run 9. I thought someone was going to have to scoop me off from the pavement and put an IV in my arm. But we made it!

Even though at times running can be torture, I always feel great afterwards; like I could run another 9 miles… or at least bake some pretty unbelievable banana muffins like these.

Baking muffins seems like the only appropriate thing to do with all the leftover ripe bananas just sitting on the kitchen counter. It happens on a weekly basis. Probably because they’re only 19 cents at Trader Joe’s — and I’m never one to pass up a good deal (especially when you grocery shop as much as I do). It’s why I make an obscene amount of banana bread, banana cupcakes… oh, and my new favorite? Banana Ice Cream. Baking things with bananas just makes my heart beat.

I first made these a month ago when visiting my grandparents. I wanted to bake something special for my grandpa–who happens to LOVE everything banana. I mean, we’re obviously related.

He’s also had a couple of heart attacks so I didn’t want to give him something unhealthy (like the bacon and muffins-the-size-of-my-head my grandma makes him EVERY MORNING). I’ve included the nutritional information for these at the bottom of this post.

Seriously even healthy banana muffins never disappoint.

I don’t know about you, but some mornings I want to enjoy a baked good and not feel guilty about it. These better-for-you banana muffins make that happen with simple swaps to cut fat and calories.

Using very ripe bananas provide natural sweetness for the muffins (meaning you don’t need to use as much sugar). Dark brown sugar is also slighty sweeter compared regular brown sugar, so I opted for that. I swapped out the butter for non-fat greek yogurt (mega protein), which makes the muffins moist and deliciously appealing. Adding egg whites vs. whole eggs reduces the fat and calories.

A brown sugar-walnut crumble was completely necessary though. The walnuts add a touch of good fats and the crumbly topping… DIVINE!

My grandpa gobbled them up in less than two days and my competitor grandma even asked me for the recipe. That says something since she makes everything delicious from scratch.

I don’t think I need to tell you that these are especially good for midnight snacking. Warm them up and spread with creamy peanut butter. Muffin heaven!

But then again, when isn’t a muffin good?

Better-For-You Banana Muffins with Brown Sugar-Walnut Crumble

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large ripe bananas, mashed

2 tablespoons butter, melted*

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt

2 1/2 tablespoons milk of choice (skim, soy, almond, coconut, etc)

For walnut crumb topping:

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper cups or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl combine bananas, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, non-fat greek yogurt, egg whites and melted butter. Stir banana mixture into the flour mixture just until combined and add milk. Batter will be thick. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.
  3. In a small bowl mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, walnuts and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon of butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the muffins. Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.

Notes

  • *Instead of butter, you can use a vegan friendly alternative, or a healthy oil such as coconut
  • Muffins freeze well, simply wrap individually in plastic wrap and stick in freezer
  • You can also sub 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour in for the regular flour, just add another tablespoon of milk

 

Nutrition Information

Servings Size: 12 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 177 Calories from Fat 37 (21%)

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 4g

6%

Saturated Fat 2g

6%

Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 6mg

2%

Sodium 228mg

10%

Potassium 222mg

6%

Total Carbohydrate 29g

10%

Dietary Fiber 1g

6%

Sugars 13g
Protein 7g

14%

 


Jun
08

Sexy is in!

50 Shades of Grey.

Goat cheese stuffed turkey burgers dripping in BBQ sauce.

Better than sex cake? (That’s up to you).

Baking up sexy sweet-n-salty cookies.

Cake Batter Martinis.

… But I heard that few fruits are as sweet, succulent or downright sexy as a peach.

With all of these ideas that you can cook or bake at home I’m wondering why people don’t do it more often!? I mean, I get that you might live near an incredible thai restaurant and LIVE for the blueberry muffins from the local bakery–but when was the last time you made a meal made you feel like a total goddess?

Fortunately for you, I have a 15 minute solution. It requires peaches, french bread, brie cheese, basil, and a little balsamic vinegar.

You’re about to be sexed up.

Seriously I mean it.

Alright you should probably know that I’m a complete romantic. I believe that food has total sex appeal that can’t be ignored. Flipping pancakes for dinner is perfect. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies makes me swoon. Authentic mexican food wins my heart. But putting fresh peaches on pizza? Oh my goodness I can’t even describe it.

But sometimes simplicity is good. Like homemade pizza and a glass of red wine for dinner. I don’t know why but it screams irresistible to me.

Now you’re probably reading this through a computer or some tablet that I’ve never heard of, so I can’t do much convincing. But I can tell you this: cooking is attractive, pizzas are delicious, and making this for an appetizer (or dinner) will be the best thing you’ve done in weeks. And the best part about it? It’s not complicated or fussy — it’s just delicious!

French bread toasted to perfection with loads of creamy brie cheese, ripe peaches, fresh basil, and a little balsamic reduction. Because what’s better than enjoying a meal cooked especially for you? (Well probably devouring 5 of these ice cream cones, actually.) But that’s besides the point–the problem is that many of us don’t make time to eat, drink, and enjoy time with the people we love.

So single or not — Make pizza, drink wine, enjoy life! Get your sexy back.

Fresh Peach, Basil, & Brie Cheese French Bread Pizza

1 french bread loaf (preferably whole grain), sliced in half, lengthwise

2-3 ripe peaches, pitted and thinly sliced

4 ounces of Brie cheese, thinly sliced (I used goat’s milk brie cheese from Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 cup balsamic vinegar

dash of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place bread on baking sheet and brush olive oil over each half. Sprinkle with a dash of salt. Top each half with brie cheese slices and peaches. Bake for 10 minutes. Broil for 30 seconds until cheese gets a tiny bit brown and bubbly.
  3. Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes).
  4. Drizzle balsamic reduction evenly over pizza and top with basil. Cut pizza into wedges and serve.

Serves 2-4


Jun
05

Do you know who this gorgeous woman is?

Well if you aren’t familiar, her name is Chris Freytag–a woman who I look up to for many reasons. Chris is a health and fitness expert, author and national speaker…. oh, and my group fitness instructor!

Chris has been teaching fitness classes and personal training for over 20 years and is currently a contributing editor for Prevention Magazine; the fitness contributor for the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis; and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Council on Exercise. Chris has authored 5 books; has created dozens of fitness DVD’s; and sells her signature line of healthy kitchen and fitness products on QVC.

Ummm… what hasn’t she done!? And course because she doesn’t have enough going on already (kidding here), I asked her to do a interview for my blog. I’m thrilled!

Yoga on the mountain 

If you’ve been reading Ambitious Kitchen, you know that I believe finding a passion you love is something incredibly important. I can’t emphasize that enough! Whether it’s yoga or cooking, I try to do something I’m passionate about every single day. Chris follows her passion for healthy living and exercising by encouraging others to do the same. I think it’s very inspiring.

Now besides cooking massive amounts of food and grocery shopping all the time, I thought you might find it interesting to get a glimpse into my health lifestyle a bit more. First off, I believe in being active and eating healthy (most of the time).  I try to work out 6 days a week which includes a mix of kickboxing, yoga, running, weight lifting, and cycling. Mixing my exercise routine up is important otherwise I get bored too easily. My favorite way to de-stress is to run, but I also love a relaxing mind-body vinyassa yoga. Some of my best work outs are the mix of kickboxing, plyometrics, and weight lifting — with good music obviously!

I especially love working out with others, I’ve found that it motivates me to push myself to work harder. The picture below is of my group fitness class.

I met Chris about a year ago at Lifetime Fitness in Minnesota while taking one of her cycling classes. Chris teaches various group fitness classes including: Hot Yoga, Cycling, Strike! (basically kickboxing with a bar weight), and Total Conditioning. She’s one of my favorite instructors not only because she encourages me to step outside my comfort zone and challenge my body, but because she is incredibly fun to work out with! 

After chatting with Chris, I realized we have a lot in common including a love for healthy living and pumpkin pie, but also sharing our passion with others. I asked Chris to put together some healthy living tips to share with all of you. These tips are some of my favorites because not only do I apply them to my personal life, but I believe that they can be beneficial to many of you–helping to make a huge difference in the way you think, exercise, and eat!

Chris Freytag’s Healthy Living Tips
1. Plan ahead.

Use Sundays as prep days to eat healthy all week. Get enough produce and staple needed for the week. Make double or triple of your meal, and freeze the extra for future use. Grill up extra chicken breasts and use them in salads and one-pot dishes for the rest of the week. Make a batch of brown rice and keep it in the fridge for easy lunches, burritos, and stir fry.

2. Aspire to eat clean.

Focus on eating things that come mostly from plants and trees, sometimes animals, and eat less from boxes, bags, and take-out containers. Try to get the majority of your daily calories from fresh fruits and vegetables, minimally processed whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds and lean meats and fish.  Clean eating minimizes the presence of preservatives, chemically altered fats, extra sodium and artificial ingredients.

3. Cook at home more.

We all know the portions served at restaurants are huge. Plus, you don’t always know what they are putting into your food. Escape the hidden calories and make your own food instead from fresh ingredients. Check out Chris’s recipe for her

4. Find a healthy substitute for your most tempting food.

I love ice cream, but most of the time I will substitute it with Greek yogurt sweetened with a little raw honey and I add berries and dark chocolate chips or walnuts.

5. Don’t  start and stop, just keep going!

One great way to kill your confidence is to constantly start and stop your fitness regimen. It’s common for people to get psyched up and dive in to working out only to drop it altogether when the craziness of life intervenes. If you start overly ambitious, you are less likely to stick with your routine. If exercise is new to you, start off slow and aim for a few workouts per week and then increase as you go.

 

In addition to being active Chris believes it’s important to eat healthy, but realizes that it can be tough; which is why Chris wrote a cookbook to help others.

Choose This! offers incredible, FUN, easy recipes that have kept me coming back for more. Whenever I want something quick and healthy to eat, I pull out this cookbook–even for dessert ideas! The book also offers calorie counts on recipes and nutritional information, which I find very appealing.

 

Now I drink A LOT of smoothies, so I knew this book was destined to be on my shelf when I saw an entire chapter devoted to them.

One of Chris’ favorite breakfast recipes happens to be her Green Machine Smoothie. It’s made with frozen bananas and pineapple, almond milk, coconut extract, kale and spinach. This smoothie has vitamins A and C, calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium and other nutrients–it’s now my go-to breakfast! You can find the recipe on her website here.

Now last but not least, I asked Chris five questions that were on my mind:

1. Where do you find your daily fitness inspiration?

  • Like Zig Zigler said, “People often tell me that motivation doesn’t last and I tell them that bathing doesn’t either. That’s why I recommend it daily”.  That’s why I love group fitness; it’s an appointment to exercise with a whole bunch of fun people and I can’t cancel. When I teach I class I try to inspire the participants to work hard and they also inspire me! I also meditate and do my yoga breathing daily for mental clarity and strength. I LOVE any motivational saying and I save them all on my computer and share them on Facebook with my fans.

2.What is your eating approach (Low carb, low sugar, balanced, etc)?

  • Eat for health, less calorie counting for myself and more about nourishing my body with real food. By eating more fruits, veggies and salads, etc.,  you naturally get less calories, less chemicals, and less preservatives. I try to avoid fake sugars and fake foods. I call myself a flexitarian, mostly vegetarian but I eat chicken occasionally and fish. I also try to eat meatless on Monday.

3. What advice do you have for women who are looking to lose weight or begin an exercise routine?

  • Lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action. Get started and begin with baby steps; strive for progress not perfection. It’s a journey so do be so in a rush for a quick fix. Start moving your body and start trying some healthy food options. The bottom line is in order to see a change you have to GET STARTED!!!  I also advice having a support system –whether friends, a spouse, a virtual group, a trainer–support is a key component to success.

4. What is the one thing you are the most proud of?

  • My children hands down are my most prized possession. No athletic race or product is more satisfying than seeing your children grow up and make good choices and be loving healthy adults.

5. What’s your favorite snack or treat?

  • Oh well I don’t have just one! I love sweets so I have to be careful, but I love to make healthy desserts. I love ice cream and pumpkin pie the most so one of my favorite indulgences is Arctic Zero Pumpkin Spice:  http://www.myarcticzero.com/.  It’s like a protein shake in ice cream form, and it satisfies my sweet tooth. I love to try healthy dessert recipes and find lots of good ones on the internet or from friends.  For snacks I eat homemade hummus and carrots and celery sticks.

 

Connect with Chris at www.chrisfreytag.com

Find her on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ChrisFreytagpage

On Twitter @ChrisFreytag

What are your healthy living tips? Share in the comments below!


Jun
03

Google has the answer to everything.

I mean, have you ever wondered why old people love butterscotch candies so much? I did and I googled it… here is the answer. Please read the entire explanation.

I think the best part is the last sentence. Spot on, right?

I’ve discovered that my soul must be about 70 because some of my favorite sweets include butterscotch candies, Fig Newtons, peppermint patties, and Almond Joys. Simplicity is good in the candy world. The sweet and salty versions and contrasting textures that make up a good bar.

Almond joys are great examples: coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate. I mean, it’s kind of just simple perfection. Or perfect enough for me to want to put the ingredients on top of my ice cream anyway.

When you dream and work in the food world — you always want to experiment with what you create. To be wild and explorative makes things interesting. Adding bourbon to sauces and cookies, baking with brown butter, adding green chile to eggs. These things are totally what I’m about–keeping it fearless and sassy.

Like what about cake? Sometimes baking cakes can be complete experiments. No fear. Upside Down Salted Caramel Apple Pecan and dark chocolate raspberry are so much more fun–to eat AND make. In fact the other day I got some wonderful news regarding my Chocolate-Coconut and Pumpkin Marble Bundt Cake that won a recipe contest last fall. Nordic Ware contacted me and asked if they could use the recipe in their new cookbook coming out this Fall… of course I said yes! There’s even a chance it might make it on the cover.. yay!

Anyway my point is that applying more spontenaity to my actual life could be beneficial. These days I tell myself to pursue the projects I think I might enjoy. If they don’t work out, then it’s not meant to be. Right now, I’ve got A LOT of thing I’m working on… including a guest post from someone VERY special this week!

Opportunities are endless.

Can ice cream be endless too?

Without a doubt. Especially when it’s healthy and vegan. Although I will admit that this really isn’t ice cream — it’s a one ingredient guiltless summer treat. All you need is a couple of frozen bananas and a food processor (or a blender). Once the frozen banana are processed, they turn into a creamy treat that mimicks your favorite soft serve! Make sure you use ripe bananas to ensure sweetness and an irresistable texture. You’ll be surprised by this one.

I’ve even thought up some outrageous toppings to add. Head on over to the Food Network’s Healthy Eats and check it out!

 

Banana “Ice Cream” with Toasted Coconuts, Almonds, & Dark Chocolate

To make the banana ice cream:

Start with 2-4 ripe bananas. Peel your bananas and cut them into small chunks. Freeze for just 2-4 hours on a plate or in a plastic bag. Place into food processor and process (you can use a blender as well), making sure to scrape down the bowl when they stick. Again process the bananas until they create a creamy puree. Serve in a cold bowl or in a cone. Each banana will make ½ cup of “ice cream.”

To make Almond Joy version:

Add 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut, 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon of chopped almonds to a medium bowl. Sprinkle on top of banana ice cream.

 


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.

 

 
 
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