Nov
12

Welp, it’s Monday. I have a lot of things that I need to share with you. So let’s just get to it!

1. I got an iPhone. My life has officially changed… I don’t know if it’s for the better since I’m pretty obsessed. This weekend my godson downloaded like 5 ninja apps. He also read my texts. Yes, quite entertaining. Oh and obviously I now have Instagram. I basically just take photos of food, brown butter, and things that don’t matter. SO COOL, right? Wrong.

2. I’m headed to NYC this week! Eeeek! Can you believe that I’ve never been before? I am SO excited. I’ll only be there a few days, but trust me,you are going to want to see the recap. We’re staying in the Trump tower! I also really need some incredible restaurant recommendations so send them my way puhhhlease?

3. My birthday is in like, a month and 10 days… but who’s counting? ANYWAY due to this immediate holiday coming up, I have to start thinking about what I really want to do. I have concluded that I need an incredible meal, followed by a HOMEMADE pumpkin pie served with real whip cream. Really, it’s all I want. Or a trip to Greece. Either one would work.

4. That being said, Thanksgiving is soon. There will be epic desserts on this blog in the next coming weeks. Bear with me as we expand our waistlines… OR you could just make the recipes for other people and give them yoga pants for Christmas.

5. This HUMMUS needs to be made by you. Also bonus points if you make homemade pita chips and eat it for breakfast because you know that’s what I did. I have to thank the fabulous Giada for the inspiration. I have to thank myself for slathering it over everything in sight.

 

My basil plant is still producing huge leaves, so I decided that it was time to use them up. Holy italian-hummus-love this is GOOD. The basil, garlic, and white bean hummus makes the perfect appetizer and is pretty great on just about anything.

Hummus on sandwiches. Hummus for breakfast. Hummus snacking is totally good. I would know, I dipped carrots, snowpeas, and every veggie imaginable in it. At one point I contemplated putting it on a granola bar, but decided that was taking it too far. But I don’t know. It might still happen.

Oh and the whole making your own pita chips thing? Probably the easiest thing you could ever do. I usually buy the 100 calorie whole wheat pita bread. Western Bagel makes an amazing high-fiber, lower-carb pita bread, but feel free to use any you like!

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Nov
10

I’ve been getting a lot of emails or questions on Facebook from you guys. Some of these really make me laugh! I try my best to respond to each and every one. But I thought it would be easier if I addressed some of them here.

1. Why do you always use dark brown sugar in your recipes? Especially your cookie recipes?

Because it’s awesome. Well, actually dark brown sugar has a stronger content of molasses compared to light brown sugar, therefore it’s a tiny bit sweeter. I will often use it in banana bread as I feel that you can use less sugar in the recipe. When I bake cookies I prefer to use brown sugar vs. granulated sugar as it tends to produce a chewier, more flavorful cookie.

2. Do you have any great dessert recipes that my boyfriend will like?

I have come to realize that men love a couple of things: anything with buffalo sauce, chocolate, OR brown butter. Follow that and you are golden. I’ve got an apple crisp recipe coming to you later this month that my guy friend says it’s unbelievable. Watch for it and make it for your man. Baking for boys is a dangerous thing because if you’re really good at it, they’ll probably fall in love with you.

3. I’m a single parent and I need easy dinners that are healthy for my kids, what can I make?

Read this: How to Get Kids to Eat Better. Start planning and preparing ahead of time. It will make things a lot easier! I’m not a parent, but I do have a lot of experience working with children. I believe in introducing tehm to new foods, being creative, and most importantly, having fun!

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Nov
08

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

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

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

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

But can you just trust me on this one?

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Nov
06

How was your weekend? I know it’s Tuesday, but I feel like we can spend a little time reminiscing.

Mine was of course filled with food. I made Lobster Bisque for the first time; it was soooooo creamy and wonderful with a garlic ciabatta. On Sunday one of my best friends and I went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant where I ordered a skinny margarita and major amounts of chips and salsa. With the amount of political advertisements on the TV, sometimes margaritas are necessary.

Today though, I wanted to share with you another one of my obsessions. You know the latest and greatest.

I’ve been really into this sandwich for the past week or so. Okay actually I dream about this sandwich everyday. I make it for breakfast nearly every morning, and sometimes I have it for dinner too. I’ve been calling it the ‘power breakfast sandwich’ because of how healthy it is. The flavors are fresh, and I simply adore the creamy avocado and slices of tomato topped with fluffy egg whites and bits of sea salt and pepper. Yesterday I even added a little fresh basil on top.

It’s completely simple, isn’t it? In fact, I can’t believe I’m blogging about it. But… it’s sooooo good!

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Nov
02

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I always look forward to it, even if it’s just a bowl of cereal or a slice of peanut butter toast.  But the best breakfast? Pancakes. Obviously.

When I was little my Dad used to make me his famous pancakes; they were the size of a skillet pan, thin, and yet incredibly fluffy. I remember drenching them with rich maple syrup and devouring it in pure bliss. Every single bite would melt in my mouth. I loved waking up to those.

These days I eat breakfast for dinner about twice a week because really, who wouldn’t want to end their day with pancakes? Plus, I love to having fun with flavor combinations! Whole Wheat Banana Quinoa. Lemon Blueberry. Blueberry Chocolate Chip. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip. And now these.

Yeahhh pancakes… I’m just a teeny bit obsessed. 

Since I’m trying to eat healthy while still enjoying my favorite breakfast, I’d thought that I would create a pancake recipe that’s tastes just like banana bread… because in case you hadn’t noticed, smashing bananas in baked goods is kinda my jam.

And besides putting hearty amounts of love into this recipe, I wanted these to be good for you, without sacrificing that amazing pancake taste.

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Oct
30

There are certain things that we all take for granted. We easily forget how blessed we are to have caring people in our lives, to have good food on our plates, and to have opportunities in our future. Little things like a simple conversation with a friend or an embrace with a loved one may seem to always be there. We go through our day to day motions of buying overpriced cappuccinos and putting gas in our cars without a thought. We hardly ever think about how privileged we truly are.

There are days when we even take ourselves for granted. We forget what we love to do, those passions we all have, and get lost in the big world for a moment or two. Often, we put our dreams aside because we’re afraid to fail. We forget to say I love you to those who matter. And sometimes, we just forget to be ourselves. Our pursuit of happiness gets buried somewhere.

And so before we talk about super amazing things with bacon and maple syrup, I thought I’d write you a little inspirational post about how awesome you truly are. Because I think sometimes we all need a little reminder about the things we should never forget.

Never forget you’re beautiful and unique. You aren’t like anyone else on the planet, so don’t even try to be normal. Always, always be yourself. Embrace your quirks and weirdness. Be who you are and then you will find what you want.

Never forget to believe in yourself and those around you. This is life. We’re all just getting along on our journey; figuring it out and taking those uphill battles one day at a time. In some way, we’re all struggling, so offer compassion to those around you. Be encouraging to both yourself and others. Projecting kindness never feels bad.

Never forget to follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid of failure, because it leads to success. Having a passion is daring, but it makes you inspiring and remarkable. Remember that part of life is pursuing a happiness. Forget what others think or say, go after what’s in your heart. Life is short and moments are always passing.

Never settle. On love or in life. You deserve something amazing because you are amazing.

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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!
 
 
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