Oct
26

 

 

 

Oh yessssssss. Yes I did.

I made you more cookies made with nutella. Because isn’t it obvious I love that chocolate hazelnut spread in, on, and stuffed in just about everything?

It’s evident that I really love baking you things to make your weekends happy, inspiring, and fun. Heaven knows that trashing the kitchen up on a Saturday afternoon is sort of a necessity at Ambitious Kitchen headquarters (aka my house). But before we discuss all the fudgy love packed into these cookies, I wanted to share with you a couple of my favorite things lately.

Ready?

1. I’m in love with colored pants aka fancy pants. I recently bought really cute wine colored jeans; they were cheap and fit perfectly! Now I’m on the search for a cranberry or wine colored coat, but can’t seem to find any I really like, so I guess painting my nails and wearing wine colored lipstick is doable in the meantime.

2. I was watching the Food Network (what else?) and Giada came on. She was making some gorgeous delicious Italian dish which made me realize that I can’t even remember the last time I had pasta. And then OMG I thought about how much I love melty lasagna and stuffed mushroom ravioli. Oh… and all that bread and cheese! Obviously that needed to fixed so I made this simple fast rotini dish with butternut sage sauce. I may or may not have ascended to heaven afterwards. Seriously, it was THAT good.

3. I went to this restaurant in Minneapolis, and I cannot tell you how impressed I was. It’s my new favorite; so if you ever venture up to the Tundra that is definitely where you should go. Order the scallops… or the meatballs!  To die for.

4. I’ve realized how important it is to never give up.  On life. On happiness. On love. Or… on eating Halloween Oreos. What? It’s just not possible. Especially when they’re covered in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Best halloween treat ever?

5. WAIT and here’s some SUPER EXCITING NEWS: I’m going to meet Bobby Flay in New York City! Yes, it’s true and I’ll have more details to share with you soon!!! I’ve been walking around with this ridiculous grin on my face for the past week. I need a good slap in the face. Maybe even with these cookies? Or just shove them in my mouth.

 

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Oct
25

Learn how to cook quinoa on the stovetop. All you need is about 20 minutes for this fabulous grain to cook.

Learn how to cook the best fluffy quinoa! All you need is about 20 minutes for this fabulous grain to cook on the stovetop!

Random cravings. I get them all the time. In fact, I go through these weird phases where I’ll eat the same thing for a month straight. Does that ever happen to you?

Throughout August I was in love with frozen yogurt topped with cacao nibs and those frosted animal crackers (pink ones, obviously). I also couldn’t get enough of this amazing honey crusted tilapia that I dreamt up and fed to my roommates. During the month of September I found myself digging into the Nutella jar, pouring Tabasco smoked chipotle sauce on everything, eating sushi whenever possible, and chowing down on pancakes every morning.

Now that it’s October, I’ve been obsessing over Trader Joe’s sprouted 7-grain bread (topped with roasted garlic hummus… OMG!), pumpkin muffins, greek yogurt with pumpkin butter, and of course, my favorite little grain: quinoa!

Learn how to cook the best fluffy quinoa! All you need is about 20 minutes for this fabulous grain to cook on the stovetop!

From pancakes to stir-frys, quinoa is a great gluten-free grain to throw into recipes. It’s full of protein and fiber, packs a delicious nutty flavor, and expands as it cooks — meaning that it will take on the flavor of the liquid you cook it in.

Another thing that’s wonderful? Quinoa cooks in only 15 minutes, which makes it perfect to store in the fridge and add to your weeknight dinner menu or toss in your lunch. Of course, making sure you know how to properly cook quinoa will make your meals that much better. Thus, I’ve created a photo collage with steps below to assist you in your quinoa cooking.

Oh, and I’ve also linked to some of my best quinoa recipes that you absolutely need to try! Ready?

Learn how to cook the best fluffy quinoa! All you need is about 20 minutes for this fabulous grain to cook on the stovetop!

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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
18

Today we’re going to talk about a topic that seems to be popping up everywhere: how to get kids to eat healthy. And although, I’m not a parent, I am passionate about the issue and recognize how important it is for children to maintain a healthy, balanced diet in order to promote a positive long-lasting relationship with food.

I could get into the details, and provide you with a million statistics, but really all I’d like to do is to increase your awareness and inspire you to get a little creative with the children in your life. I’d also like to direct you to Lunch Break for Kids, a national fundraiser that highlights ways for parents and kids to come together with chefs and schools to show how simple, good food can make children healthier, as well as build strong family connections.

Below I’ve provided some friendly ideas and suggestions, which are all of course my opinion. I am in no way in expert, I just love kids, so I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to share any tips, ideas, or questions you have in the comments.

1. Breakfast is important: feeding children healthy balanced breakfast is one of the best ways you can start their mornings. 

Below are a few fun and healthy breakfast suggestions:

  • Make a big batch of pancakes during the week using whole wheat flour or oatmeal to sneak in fiber and provide whole grains. You can also blend in fruit into the pancake such as a banana or even applesauce! Freeze the leftovers and simply reheat in the microwave. Try topping the pancakes with fresh fruit, jam, nut butters, or pure maple syrup. A couple of chocolate chips wont hurt either.
  • Muffins are a great way to sneak in fruits and veggies in the morning. Try pumpkin muffins made with less sugar and whole wheat flour or oatmeal. Another tip? Substitute applesauce for some of the sugar and/or oil in the recipe! My Better-for you Banana Muffins are one of my favorites served warm and spread with creamy peanut butter. Kids love them!
  • Breakfast quesadillas are another kid favorite. Eggs with a bit of cheese on a whole grain tortilla are delicious, or opt for something a bit more creative with my Peanut butter, Strawberry and Banana Quesadillas!
  • In a hurry? I have a ton of healthy breakfast ideas for you to try. Try a whole wheat bagel or a slice of toast topped with peanut butter or another healthy nut butter. Another option is greek yogurt with a bit of low-sugar granola. Or blend a smoothie made with chocolate milk (dark chocolate almond milk is delicious too!), a banana, and yogurt.

2. Get in the kitchen with them: spending time with children in the kitchen is a great way to teach them about the nutrition in food and how it works in each meal.

  • Introduce them to new foods and explain how it works in the dish. Children will become even more interested in the food that you have prepared when given the opportunity to participate in the creation of the meal.
  • Offer them a chance to be creative by asking them what they think of the ingredients or if they would add anything to the dish if they could.
  • Kids have a blast when they’re allowed to sample and smell ingredients, or participate. If you are baking, allow kids to try and crack eggs, roll out dough, mix in the blueberries in the pancake batter or even scoop cupcake batter into the muffins liners. Remember its okay if they make messes; they’re still learning!
  • Name food funny names. Laugh with them. Ask them if food resembles anything. Make weird shapes with food. Above all, just have fun!

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
10

Advertisement

There are several things that come to my mind when thinking about chocolate.

Like my favorite candy bar. Or that delicious chocolate frosting that I licked off a cupcake last week (it was too dang good!). Also, how sometimes it saves me on a bad day.

For me, eating chocolate is a lot like falling in love; it gives me a happiness that can’t be explained.

Now since I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate, I was thrilled when Ghirardelli sent me some of their Intense Dark Chocolate Bars to sample. And when I say thrilled, I actually mean that it was significant enough for me to throw a chocolate party. I mean, how often do I have an excuse to eat chocolate on it’s own… or paired with food? Usually the chocolate I’m consuming is jam-packed in a cookie or layered thick between a cake. But you see, that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all along!

Chocolate is supposed to be savored. It’s meant to be carefully unwrapped and broken apart. It’s so much better when it’s enjoyed  and remembered instead of devoured like a lion.

Of course since I am borderline obsessed with sweet and salty pairings, the Sea Salt Soiree completely blew my mind. I can only explain that eating it is an experience that you can’t miss out on. I felt like I was floating in some sort of euphoric dream.

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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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Oct
06

Happy weekend!

I just arrived in Minnesota, but I have to admit that I’m already missing California. I was really enjoying the ocean, running in the sunshine, and the warmth. Last week I ventured down to the pier to snap some photos before the sun set. It still felt like summer with my toes in the warm sand and the salty ocean breeze on my face. 

Even though California is beautiful, I have to admit that there is nothing better than Fall in Minnesota. I can actually enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate filled with jumbo marshmallows. I can go apple picking and make the best apple crisp. Oh and what about soups?! I plan on eating spicy chili for a whole week! Plus who could forget about Fall fashion? I plan on shopping for cute hats. scarves, mittens, and boots.

But do you know what the best thing about Fall is? THE absolute best? Dessert! You know the ones that are served with a cup of hot coffee and good conversation.

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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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