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.

Read more.

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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Oct
01

Hi! It’s been a while and I apologize for not blogging as frequent. My site has been having issues lately, but just know that we’re working hard to get all of the kinks fixed, so hopefully it will be running faster soon!

Besides that I think we should catch up. You know, just chat about life and such.

Lately I’ve been trying to get back into eating oatmeal for breakfast (I act like it takes effort to eat healthy?), working up to a faster mile, teaching myself new cooking techniques, baking fall goodies, and of course, organizing my life. I’ve been really wanting to get better at blogging more and I have a million recipes written down; it’s just  that writing and editing tends to always take up more time then I expect it to.

Anyway this recipe has been just waiting for you, begging to be cooked. Like for an entire week! I mean, now that it’s October, I feel like I can really break out the pumpkin recipes, comfort food, and oh my goodness… all of the delicious treats involving brown butter just scribbled on my chocolate-stained notebook.

Last week I was craving comfort; warm; ooey-gooey goodness that would make me sink into a food coma in a very good way. But what was it going to be?

I searched around the kitchen. There was a roasted chicken in the fridge, canned pumpkin that was begging to be used, and those million dollar mexican spices (garlic, cumin, chili powder, etc).

It’s a bit obvious what happened, right?

I shredded the chicken to bits and pieces.

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Sep
26

It’s coming to a point on my Facebook where everyone is becoming engaged. I don’t know what’s happening?

I mean, any time I even think about having a boyfriend I can’t help but laugh; all of the guys I go on dates with are either A) committed to work, B) completely awkward, or C) have questionable intentions. But I guess that’s what happens when you are 23.

So for now I think I’ll stick to single lady things until the man of my dreams (who might resemble Joshua Jackson aka Pacey from Dawson’s Creek) comes into my life. Plus if I had a boyfriend I probably couldn’t get away with making him eat quinoa and kale instead of manly beer battered onion rings and cups of BBQ sauce… or whatever Burger King is advertising this week.

What are your thoughts on that?

Blink.

Hmmm, got it.

Let’s move on discuss adult things. Like salads.

My mom used to make a big batch of raw kale salad with lemon, olive oil, garlic, and bell peppers. She would let it still a few hours until the lemon juice broke down the kale and the flavors became melded together; it was sensational.

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Sep
23

I love when my weekends are full of good cooking.

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

But then today a little bit of magic happened.

Cause I made this banana bread.

And I made it vegan.

And gluten-free.

And irresistibly healthy.

Because I love you, duh.

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

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Sep
21

Do you find it really difficult to eat healthy when Fall comes around? I do.

I blame it on the excessive pumpkin spice latte advertisements that make me want to cuddle up on the couch and watch The Notebook while maybe eating eat a pumpkin pie pop-tart.

Please tell me I’m not the only one?

But don’t you worry, I have a solution in the form of food.

Read more.


Sep
19

 

I just wanted to tell you all that I’m in a Starbucks writing this post. I’m hungrier than a lion and those little salted caramel cake pops are staring at me. Seriously, whoever invented those is a genius because I want to destroy about three of them… with my mouth.

Sorry if that was too much, but writing about food, staring at food, and smelling food is making me a little bit weird. Minus the fact that I’m already weird, so this post is just extremely weird. Got it?

Anyway I’ve gathered all of my willpower so we can chat about what’s been actually going down in my kitchen. About a month ago I posted a simple photo of tilapia on my Facebook page. Many of you asked for the recipe, so although I don’t have photos of the finished, plated meal, I thought that you would still enjoy it. But here’s some truth: half of the things I create or bake don’t end up on my blog. Sometimes it’s simply because I didn’t snap a photo; realistically it’s because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist now that I own a nice camera. Most of the food I create is made at night for dinner, so finding time to set up a photoshoot when I’m hungry can be difficult. Not to mention I only use natural lighting, so I’m a little bit bummed that it’s getting darker, earlier.

Let me introduce you what’s been happening. Usually my kitchen is a mess.

 

Mostly because I make a lot of pancakes. Like every morning. They’re always different and damn, they are delicious.

I’ve also been making a lot of brown butter and sea salt chocolate chip cookies. While they are amazing, I can’t say they benefit my waistline. Oh well… WORTH IT.

To balance it out, I eat A LOT of veggies. Roasted in garlic and tossed in olive oil. I could eat the entire pan… and often times I do.

Snack time happens a lot. I’ve been drinking vegan kale green monster smoothies (I have a recipe coming soon).

I think they totally make me kissable. My kale bag thinks so too.

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Sep
16

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

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

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

And so my love affair with baking began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sep
10

If you made my favorite brown butter + sea salt chocolate chip cookies this past weekend and left me a comment or sent me an email then quite frankly, I love you! I am trying my best to respond to each of you to let you know that your sweet (and funny!) messages make me smile and are sincerely appreciated.

I think the best part is that many have told me that they are the best cookie you have ever had! But most of all I think you should be proud of yourself because you officially now know how to brown butter (which will particularly good for more Fall recipes I have coming)! Hehe.

Of course, I realize that many of you read my blog for my creative, healthy recipes, but I’d like to emphasize that I believe in moderation. I once lived life eating healthy all the time, depriving myself of the things I wanted the most. I ate egg whites, oatmeal, protein shakes, vegetables and lean meats consistently. I rarely touched a cookie or ate pie (my favorite)… shocking, I know. However I realized the joy that came to me when cooking for others and especially loved educating on healthy eating; that’s why most of my recipes have healthy twists while still being creative enough to make you feel like a chef in your own kitchen. Simply put, Ambitious Kitchen is about inspiring you. I’m bringing my passion for food to life through your eyes.

Now, I don’t believe in any one ‘diet’, but I exercise almost daily, eat consistently healthy, and indulge occasionally. So although this blog is not a health or fitness blog, it is geared to those with active lifestyles or of course, anyone looking to learn to cook for themselves.

Or if you just love staring at photos of food like this delicious breakfast (or anytime, really) taco.

This recipe came about when I had an intense craving for smokey, salty salmon with warm, fluffy eggs; a combination frequently found on a typical restaurant’s brunch menu. So off I went to stalk Trader Joe’s where I made about 17 different loops around the store just to drool over everything new. If you shop at Trader Joe’s, you know what I’m talking about.

I was so excited when I found these amazing blue corn tortillas! I am even more excited that I bought two packages so that I can make homemade blue corn tortilla chips for football games I don’t even watch.

While I am not a huge football fan, I am a fan of anything wrapped in a taco that I can devour.

 

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Sep
06

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more.

 
 
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