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
07

This Summer I’ve discovered a lot of really good things.

Farmer’s markets. Romance. Gluten-free breads. Coconut flour. Trader Joe’s Fig Jam. Adorable red skinny jeans. Chocolate nut butters. Oatmeal pancakes. Tzatiki. California. Traveling. Writing. Letting go of inhibitions.

I have to say starting brand new has been the best experience yet; because what is life really without a little bit of adventure?

Or crazy weird (and delicious) grilled cheese sandwiches for that matter?

I enjoy living life as it comes. Mostly through food experiences. And let me tell you, raspberry jam is simply the best there is. Seriously grape jelly weirds me out. But maybe that’s because I’m used to seeing it in that creepy Welch’s squeezable container.

Are we on the same page here? Probably not, because I have no idea where I’m going with that. I really just wanted to tell you how much I love raspberry jam. I don’t think I could live a week without it.

…Or a week without looking at Ryan Lochte.

Oh, sorry. Back to the jam.

Raspberry jam is just this thing that goes perfectly with all the other good things in life… you know like cupcakes and whip cream or sandwiched in s’mores. Oh let’s be reminded that it’s the perfect topping for peanut butter pie.

Once I brought raspberry jam swirled-dark chocolate brownies over for a dinner party. They were really, really good. Apparently so good that the guy who ate them tried to ask me out on a date. That’s not a joke. The world is a weird, weird place sometimes.

Especially when you find out that raspberry brownies cast magical love spells.

I can contribute to the weirdness of the world I guess. I mean, I put raspberry jam, goat cheese and peaches in a sandwich, grilled it, then watched the Bachelor Pad.

Help?

Despite my weirdness, the sandwich was delightful. Tart goat cheese, raspberry jam, and bright ripe peaches made it the perfect quick summer meal. Because I realize that we can’t make salmon and pancakes everyday.

If you’re anything like me, half the time you want to bury your face in a bag of Sun Chips for lunch and save the other half for dinner. But let me tell you that I really do like this sandwich, it’s easy to pull together and full of bright fruity summer flavors.

WAIT… are you thinking what I’m thinking?

I hope so…

Crunchy Sun Chips in the sandwich?

Ohhhh yes!

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Peaches + Raspberry Jam

Makes 1 sandwich (double for 2)

1 tablespoon good quality raspberry jam (preferably low in sugar)

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or spreadable kind

1 small peach, sliced

2 slices of good whole wheat sandwich bread (panini would be really good)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of the bread slices. Place one slice of bread butter side down on the pan. Add goat cheese and place peach slices on top. On other bread slice, spread raspberry jam on the side without the butter; place butter side up on top.
  2. Grill/Cook the sandwich for 4 minutes or until cheese begins to melt and the bread begins to turn golden brown. Flip the sandwich with a spatula and cook for another 2-4 minutes or until the bread golden brown on the opposite side and cheese is thoroughly melted. Remove from pan, cut in half and enjoy.

Notes

  • This can also be made with a sandwich maker, if desired.

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!

 


Aug
01

This August marks a year of blogging on Ambitious Kitchen, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m going to do a recap of everything I’ve learned soon, but first I wanted to list YOUR favorite recipes over the past year.

So let’s count them down!

10. Nutty Strawberry Banana Breakfast Quinoa

9. Sweet Potato & Chicken Mexican Stir-fry

8. Asian Edamame Salad with Cilantro & Toasted Almonds

7 . Peach, Basil & Brie French Bread Pizzas

6. Blackberry & Chocolate Greek Frozen Yogurt Cones

5. Skillet Chicken with Spicy Pepperoni Sauce

4. Low-fat Oatmeal Blueberry Banana Bread

3. Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes

2. Whole Wheat Banana Quinoa Pancakes

1. Banana ‘Ice Cream’ with Toasted Coconut, Almonds, & Dark Chocolate

Thanks for reading, baking, and cooking with me this year! It’s been AMAZING. I can’t wait to share more recipes, stories, and laughs with you.

If you have a favorite recipe that you’ve made on my blog, be sure to share in a comment below or on my Facebook page.


Jul
29

In my dream world I’d live on the beach, have a Whole Foods salad bar in my kitchen, and eat magical zero calorie banana cream pie every day for dessert.

I’d enjoy every sunrise with a continental breakfast and buy a German Shepard just because I think they’re really cute. I’d visit Machu Picchu, bungee jump daily, and make s’mores for a bedtime snack. I’d own a banana bread only bakery that serves wine. Oh and I certainly would NEVER spill wine on my white jeans (it happened this weekend).

But that’s all just in my dream world.

In real life I’m making big batches of pancakes on Sundays, chasing dogs around the neighborhood when they run away, and convincing myself to exercise daily.

Lately I’ve been testing out recipes. Usually on kids because they never lie to you; they either like it or they don’t.

Here’s Ava testing out a layered cake I made. I think I need to start renting kids for recipe testing.

Next week I’m headed out to California again! From the moment I first visited, I fell in love with it. And now I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll take a million photographs and update my about me page soon. There are so many things that I can’t wait to share with you.

For now, I made you some healthy pancakes. Wait… are they healthy if they have chocolate chips in them? That’s up to you! I try to keep them lower in calories by using egg whites, high protein greek yogurt, and quinoa. I also recommend using whole wheat white flour.

But first let’s just eat some feel-good super romantic and always delicious pancakes.

My only problem with pancakes? Deciding if I want blueberry or chocolate chip. Since I love both, I added them to my quinoa pancake batter. Yeah my brain is pretty weird; however, my taste buds are not. These are a gift from the universe.

Aren’t you a little intrigued? Maybe puzzled with the combination?

Whatever your thought, I assure you that these pancakes are a whole lot of deliciousness. Blueberry chocolate chip pancakes are kind of just an essential life experience. Something you need to try at least once.

Or a million times. Whatever!

Juicy, warm berries plus über creamy chocolate chips packed in a healthy little pancake. Take it over the top by serving them in pure maple syrup (or peanut butter!) and chasing with a glass of ice-cold milk.

It certainly is a little part of my dream world come true.

 

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Quinoa Pancakes

Makes 8-10 pancakes

1 cup cooked quinoa

3/4 cup all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3 large egg whites

1/4 cup plain or vanilla nonfat greek yogurt

1/2 cup milk of your choice (skim, soy, almond, coconut)

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Fresh fruit or fruit preserves (optional), for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, yogurt, milk, and brown sugar until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add vanilla and whisk again. Next gently fold in blueberries.
  2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter or cooking spray and heat over medium. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter.
Notes

Jul
27

Thank goodness it’s Friday!

I have to admit that this week I was a little bummed. I don’t know if it’s because Bella cheated on Edward, or if it’s because I got rid of THIRTEEN pairs of shoes yesterday. Yes, THIRTEEN! It’s not like I ever wore them, but seriously getting rid of shoes is like throwing away memories.

So I took myself shoe shopping to make up for it.

What?

I’m a girl… it’s what we do. Anyway I feel much better now. I even made myself a cute little appetizer to start the weekend the right.

And I think that you just have to make these little pita pizzas too! They are my new favorite thing.

If you’ve never roasted berries before then now is the time to start; it’s so wonderful! The heat from the oven brings out the sugars and juice, giving you a melt in your mouth sweetness that will make you want to savor every single bite of the fruit.

Roasting berries had been on my bucket list for a while, but throwing them on a whole wheat pita and topping it with caramelized onion, mozzarella, and arugula? Completely spur of the moment and just a little bit heavenly.

I served these at a party and they disappeared in seconds!

Wearing new heels and making delicious pita pizzas with roasted berries.

Someone’s Friday just got better.

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Cherry Pita Pizzas with Arugula

Serves 2-4

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided

1/4 teaspoon of salt

10 strawberries, hulled and quartered

10 dark red cherries, pitted and halved

3 or 4 whole wheat pitas (I use 100 calorie pitas)

1 cup of reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup arugula

Salt and pepper

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss strawberries and cherries in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spread on baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat medium saute pan over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add onions and stir frequently until onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium low and add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cook 1 more minute and then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place whole wheat pitas on a nonstick baking sheet. Brush pitas with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Evenly distribute roasted strawberries and cherries, cheese, onions onto pitas. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees or until edges of pitas begin to turn golden brown.
  4. Top each pita with arugula and cut into triangles. Drizzle with addition balsamic vinegar and top with fresh black pepper and salt if desired.

 

 

 


Jul
25

I promised myself that this Summer I would try to set out some time for myself each day. Lately it’s enjoying a perfectly sweet cocktail while watching tangerine painted sunsets; those moments make me want to savor summer forever.

I’ve also discovered that one of my favorite things to do is to get a little crazy cooking in the kitchen. It’s like a competition with myself; how many dishes can I create in one day?

Last Sunday, I pulled five recipes out of my head and made it my mission to finish them all before the night was over. It’s quite possible that I looked like I was on some sort of drug; every inch of kitchen counter space was filled and my pants had about nine different stains on them. Dough flew, marinades were made, and I probably chopped about 23 vegetables; it was so much fun! And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

Sometimes I believe that good things come from chaos. Just take a look at this buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth salmon.

Mmmm I lovvveeeeeee me some fish and the man behind the butcher counter at my local grocery store knows this for a fact. I have been stalking him for weeks asking when he was going to have walleye in (the Minnesota state fish). Apparently the waters have been too warm in Canada so they haven’t been able to net them. Don’t you worry though, I’ll continue to ask. I mean I’m practically there daily anyway.

Instead of walleye, he suggested I bake salmon for a sensational summer meal. Okay… he didn’t actually use the word sensational, but I felt like that’s what he was voicing to me. Anyway in an effort to make the salmon CRAZY GOOD, I marinated the life out of it with an asian inspired sweet teriyaki sauce.

HOLY. WHAT THE… it’s SO, SO GOOD. Even better than…

Well, you know I’m not sure what it’s better than. It’s just really, freaking good. The marinade is simple enough to make yourself and baking salmon is like baking chicken. No really, it is! Don’t be nervous about overcooking it, just at least give it a try for me. Pretty please?! I’ll bake you cookies if you do.

Oh, you’re convinced now? Well that was easy.

For ease, I purchased teriyaki sauce from the grocery store (soy sauce would also work), then whisked in olive oil, garlic, ginger and a little honey and brown sugar for sweetness. I poured it all over the salmon and marinated it until I got hypoglycemic hungry… like to the point of passing out. I wanted to eat my arm. What? Food is so much better when you’re ready to eat everything in sight.

Oh, and don’t you worry about that quinoa, because we’ve already discussed the ease of making it fluffy and delicious in 15 minutes or less. This time it’s cooked in a little bit of garlic salt for that bit of pizzaz. All you really need to do is stir-fry veggies and drink a little sangria… or guzzle it, I mean, whatever works best for you. I choose guzzle.

See? It’s not complicated or time consuming. And now you’ll have extra time to spend time with your honey. Or just in case your single, catch up on reality TV and pin things on Pinterest. For me? Grocery shopping and butcher stalking… totally normal!

Alright time for you to get a little crazy in the kitchen. Sensational salmon is calling your name.

Sesame Ginger Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir-fry
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner, Salmon, Fish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious, healthy salmon has never tasted SO good.
Ingredients
  • For the Salmon & marinade:
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound salmon
  • For Quinoa Stir-fry:
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • Extras
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if desired
  • extra soy or teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients: teriyaki sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and honey. Place salmon in large ziploc bag and add marinade. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. (I marinated my salmon in a baking pan because I ran out of ziploc bags.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Remove salmon from ziploc bag and place skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork. I found that 18 minutes was absolutely perfect. **See notes for additional information on cooking times.
  3. While salmon is cooking, prepare quinoa stir-fry. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water with garlic salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add quinoa and cover; simmering until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and sliced bell peppers; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes more. Add quinoa to vegetables, then add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes if desired.
  4. Spoon quinoa stir-fry evenly into 4 bowls or plates. Immediately place salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Glaze with extra teriyaki sauce. DIG IN!
Notes
Inspired by How Sweet Eat's Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon
Salmon is very sensitive and can dry out easily if overcooked, so make sure you watch your fish! For every inch of thickness of the salmon, generally it takes about 10 minutes to cook. Usually salmon fillets are about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Preparing quinoa ahead of time makes this dish even easier; simply reheat quinoa and add to stir fried veggies.

Jul
20

I want to declare my love for this banana bread in some sort of outrageous way.

Hmmm maybe I should call Oprah and ask her if I can come jump on her couch like Tom Cruise did when he proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes?

Probably not a good idea. After all this bread is Scientology free and I don’t want people to think I’m nuts. Plus there’s absolutely no way to fall out of love with this bread.

We’ll just have to think of another way to tell the world about the best banana bread I’ve ever made.

In the case of banana breads, the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is completely true. I hadn’t baked banana bread in over a month and was dreaming of a unique recipe for you. Luckily the lovely people at Driscoll’s sent me some coupons for raspberries. I knew right away what had to happen. Raspberries and dark chocolate are a combination I can’t resist, but putting them into a banana bread was like an epiphany.

Since I’ve been trying to eat less wheat lately, I decided that I would use oat flour in my recipe (yes, it’s gluten-free). Can I just say WOW?! The oat flour brought a hearty, incredible flavor to the banana bread! Thankfully oatmeal is naturally high in fiber and protein, which means it’s not only good for you but also super filling. I surprised myself when I didn’t inhale the entire loaf right when it came out of the oven.

Oh and by the way, did you know that making your own oat flour is really easy? Simply throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Done!

I don’t know if it’s biting into the sweet tartness from the raspberries and the creamy bittersweet notes of dark chocolate, or if it’s simply this whole oat flour thing going on, but this banana bread just tastes like heaven. I plan on falling in love with it all over again this weekend.

So here’s what I’d really like to happen: You make this bread and inhale it. Or share it. Just tell everyone you know about it!

Here’s why:  Raspberries are good for your health. And a little bit of dark chocolate won’t hurt you; it’s an antioxidant! There is also zero butter or oil in this recipe, minimal sugar, and the only dairy is from the two egg whites (if you want to make it vegan, try it without them)!

I freaking love everything about it. From the way it smells to the way it tastes. Completely devour-able.

Have a great weekend!

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Banana Bread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Banana Bread, Healthy
Ingredients
  • About 3 cups oatmeal {gluten-free oats}
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup smashed raspberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Make oat flour: Place oatmeal into blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour. You may need to stop blender and stir oats a couple of times to ensure that all oats have been blended.
  3. Measure out just 2 cups of the oat flour and place in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. In a separate large bowl, beat mashed bananas, dark brown sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in raspberries and dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack to finish cooling.
Notes
It typically takes 2 1/2-3 cups of oatmeal to make 2 cups of oat flour, so you may have some leftover. This recipe only calls for 2 cups.

To ensure recipe is gluten-free, use gluten-free oatmeal when making your oat flour


Jul
17

During college I was in love with a salad from a local restaurant. It was always refreshing, consistent, and filling! My best girlfriends and I ate it at least once a week — it was our favorite! I swear the waiters began to know us by name, but that MIGHT have been because we always took at least 10 of the free lollipops they set out in a large bucket. I don’t know why we thought free meant endless supply?

Anyway ordering dirty martinis and a chopped salad with no bacon and dressing on the side was our tradition.

I do have a little advice for you: always eat food before martinis. Seriously remember that.

So, what’s a chopped salad anyway?

It’s simply a salad that includes fresh produce and ingredients that have been ‘chopped’ (or just cut up to fairly equal size), then the salad is typically tossed together. Flavors can be adjusted and dressing may be used. Chopped salads are very popular in restaurants as they make the perfect lighter meal.

I know the question you want to ask me. And the answer is YES, you will look like Heidi Klum if you eat salads like this for dinner… every night… for the rest of your life.

No biggie.

To make the salad I started with fresh romaine hearts then I added protein: pulled chicken breast and chickpeas. The rest? Grilled sweet corn (or whatever you have on hand), fresh grape tomatoes, avocado, crumbled goat cheese, and fresh chopped cilantro. Then tossed (or drizzled) with any dressing you desire. I drizzled mine with my favorite BBQ sauce; it was heavenly.

Seriously this salad is just GOOD. It makes you feel good. In fact I’m starting to think it even makes good things happen. Just the other day I found $20 I never knew I had. Yesterday I made the best banana bread I have EVER made in my life. Today I had an amazing meeting! Oh, and I’ll be traveling again soon!

In any case, I need to eat more chopped salads. That way I can eat more cake.

You see how my brain thinks? It a vicious cycle.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Healthy Chicken Chickpea Chopped Salad
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish, Salad, Lunch, Dinner
Prep time: 
Total time: 
A healthy, delicious salad that's super easy to whip up.
Ingredients
  • 2 large romaine hearts, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup pulled cooked chicken breast
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3/4 cup sweet corn (I grilled mine)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup BBQ dressing, if desired
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl add lettuce, top with all ingredients except for avocado and BBQ dressing. Toss salad gently.
  2. Place into cold salad bowls. Garnish with diced avocado and drizzle with BBQ dressing if desired. Serve with low-fat corn tortilla strips.
Notes
To make vegan omit chicken and goat cheese. Add in roasted diced red peppers for more flavor. You may you any dressing you like. Sometimes I like adding 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and find that I don't need any dressing at all.


Jul
13

I’ve always loved being around kids.  First of all, they’re hilarious. The questions they ask, the stories they come up with — they make me laugh and I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of their sweet personalities and those chubby cheeks.

During college I had a job as a nanny. In between my classes on sometimes on the weekends, I spent my time reading stories, playing hide and seek, going to the park, and of course… baking with kids.

It’s still one of my favorite things to do.

Meet the two adorable twins: Milly and Remy.

I can’t believe how old they are getting… they just turned 5!

Since I’m not a nanny anymore I don’t get to see them as much as I like, BUT when I do get to spend time with my two favorites I try to make it as special as possible.

Everytime we’re together we do two things: bake treats and have a ‘popcorn party’. The popcorn party is usually just a trick I use to get them to clean up their toys fast, get in PJs, and settle down for a movie and a bowl of popcorn. I tell them that we can never be late for the popcorn party and it works everytime!

Last week I attended a book signing for fellow food blogger Shaina Olmanson’s new cookbook Desserts in Jars and was sent home with  a jar full of monster cookie mix. Of course since it was Milly and Remy’s birthday, I knew we’d be baking them right away!

I wanted to share with you how much fun we had making these cookies. Remy even decided to rename them ‘dinosaur cookies’.

The cookies turned out perfect!

I’d say they’re definitely kid-approved.

Want your own Desserts in Jars cookbook? I’m giving a book away to one lucky reader!

From cakes and cookies to puddings and pies, this cookbook is full of inventive dessert ideas, all presented in gorgeous jars. Even if you aren’t entertaining, you can certainly use the recipes to impress your family or friends, as there are recipes for gift giving (I’m SO doing this for Christmas this year).

So how do you enter to win? Head on over and like my Facebook page, then leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite cookie is! I’ll randomly pick a winner next Friday and announce their name on my Facebook page.

BUT seriously even if you don’t have kids to bake with, these cookies are MAJORLY good. Feel free to switch up the candies and nuts; next time I’m using Reese’s Pieces!

Want to know the best part about these delicious cookies? They are flour free (you use oatmeal) and only called for two tablespoons of butter! I’m pretty certain you could get away without using the butter though. Let me know if you give it a try.

Have a great weekend!

Monster Cookies from Desserts in Jars

Makes 1 jar of cookie mix, to yield 24 large cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup candy-coated chocolate candies or chocolate chips

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Note: If you are making the cookies, see the additional ingredients below.

Directions

1. Mix together the granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Pour into a 1-quart Mason Jar.

2. Top with a layer of half of the oats. Add the candies in a layer, and top with a layer of brown sugar. Top with a layer of the remaining oats and then a layer of walnuts. Seal with the lid, decorate the jar if you like, and attach a label with these instructions:

To make monster cookies

3/4 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter (not natural)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla. and eggs in a bowl. Add the contents of this jar. Form the dough into 2-inch balls and set on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the tops of the cookies begin to brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

 
 
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