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.

Read more.


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).

Read more.


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.

 

Read more.


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.


Aug
31

I have a little confession…

I don’t eat a lot of Italian food.

I know, crazy right? I think it’s because I’m a tiny bit obsessed with all things Mexican (enchiladas, chips, guac, tacos… etc)! It’s just too good to refuse.

This past week though I just had a craving for ravioli, lasagna, garlic bread or basically ANYTHING ITALIAN. Unfortunately all I had in my cupboard was tomato sauce, but man, did that sauce look good. Like I sort of wanted to eat it out of the jar and call it dinner.

Is that weird?

Yep.

I thought to myself for a very long time about what I could do with the tomato sauce. I mean, besides spooning it into my mouth or just warming it up and pretending it was tomato soup. At one point I considered ordering breadsticks from Pizza Hut just so I could dip them in the sauce, but decided I wasn’t that desperate.

I ended up searching the freezer and found lean ground turkey. Obviously cute little meatballs came straight to mind!

Just look at that steamy goodness!

I especially love this recipe because it only takes about 30 minutes to throw together. The ground turkey is combined with an egg and the following spices: cumin, garlic salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne, basil, oregano, plus a bit of dijon mustard. Now that may seem like a lot of spices, but it results are drop dead delicious!

Read more.


Aug
28

Everything about Fall is lovely. Warm sweaters, over the knee boots, sipping hot cider, apple picking, pumpkin pie (!!!!), soups, winter squash, lasgana…. I could go on forever. And yes, I understand that it may still be August but I’m already pulling out the fall recipes to share with you.

Out of all winter squash varieties, I’d have to say that acorn squash is probably my favorite. It’s creamy, slightly sweet, and incredibly good for you. Often times on Sundays I’ll roast a couple of squashes in my oven, and then enjoy them throughout the week for my meals. I especially LOVE eating it for breakfast with a little bit of honey and cinnamon and greek yogurt; you’d be surprised by how filling and delicious it can be. Sometimes I’ll even mash the squash and throw it in quesadillas with goat cheese.

Of course, stuffing them with southwest flavors is pretty incredible too.

These are probably one of my favorite dinners I’ve made in a while. The creaminess of the squash combined with the southwest black bean and corn filling and the tangy melted goat cheese is out of this world. And of course it’s healthy, easily vegan (take out the cheese) and gluten-free.

I topped them with my homemade roasted green chile sauce to add a little bit of spicy kick, but they are certainly delicious enough on their own.  Read more.


Aug
27

How was your weekend? Mine was full of cooking! My roommate and I made arugula salads with fresh fruit vinaigrette, chicken stir fry, and spent hours making chile verde and the best apple crisp in the world. Our bellies were happy.

After all of that cooking, I wanted to bring you something simple: a green chile sauce that goes on top of nearly everything! I’m also a huge fan of how easy this recipe is. All you have to do is roast chiles (or you can used canned), put a couple of ingredients in a pot, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

This green chile sauce is slightly spicy, but it reminds me of all things Summer. You can put it on anything, and is now a staple in my diet. I put it in on eggs,  chicken, over enchiladas, in tacos, basically anything… oh and it’s incredible over squash. See?

Doesn’t that look good? I can’t wait to share a million other things that make Fall the best season everrrrr.

Until then, I’ll savor ice cream cones, shorts, the bright blue ocean, fresh fruit, iced coffee, and everything else that makes Summer oh so good. Here’s a look at some photos that I’ve snapped over the past month. (The recipe for the sauce is at the end of this post.)

Won’t you savor the rest of Summer with me? Preferably with this roasted green chile sauce; I’m telling you it’s soooo worth it!

Now, if you don’t know how to roast green chiles, here’s a great tutorial (with photos!) from the Pioneer Woman. Basically all you have to do is place  green chiles under the broiler for 10-15 minutes. Cool, huh?
You’re gonna need this recipe for another recipe I have coming soon!
Homemade Roasted Green Chile Sauce
 
Author: 
Recipe type: sauce, topping
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Roasted green chilies are combined with tomatoes, garlic, onions and spices to make a great sauce.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup roasted hatch green (or Anaheim) chilies, skinned, stemmed, seeded, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken or broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, add olive oil and chopped onions. Cook onions until they become slightly caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Next add the chilies, tomatoes, broth, cumin, salt and pepper to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  3. Gently whisk in cornstarch and cilantro and continue to simmer another 10 minutes until the sauce becomes thicker.
  4. Transfer to a blender and puree sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
Taste test and add honey or brown sugar if the sauce is too spicy for you.

Aug
22

I woke up early this morning eager to bake a banana bread. I silently mashed bananas in my kitchen and watched the sunlight creep through the windows. I mean to be perfectly honest all I wanted to do was turn on Jay-Z’s 99 problems, sing loudly and change the lyrics to “I got 99 problems but BANANA BREAD AIN’T ONE!” Too bad my roommates were still sleeping or it totally would have happened.

Now that I think about it I’m kinda glad I didn’t as I can’t say that rapping is one of my talents. And if you don’t know who Jay-Z is then maybe we’ll just move on and talk about the real star here: Banana bread. With peaches. Annndddd cinnamon. A brown sugar topping too!

It just makes me feel all cozy and wonderful.

Since there are an abundance of peaches in August, I wanted to bring you a fun recipe. Of course peach pie is delicious and peach cobbler is amazing but those are classics, and I wanted to bake something a little creative to make you swoon. The answer happened to be staring right at me: ripe bananas on my kitchen counter! I don’t know, it’s like these bananas just beg me to be mashed into delicious breads or something. Or to be made into pie.

Either way I know that anytime there are ripe bananas around, magic is about to happen. Hehe.

Look at that crust on the top of the banana bread! No seriously, stare at it for a good minute.

The crust is simply perfectly golden brown and the result of sprinkling brown sugar on top before baking. The brown sugar caramelizes and hardens when baked then forms a nice crusty exterior for that superb crunchy topping.

Oh and the inside? So flavorful and moist! Plus who can feel guilty about this bread? Not me considering I already ate 3 slices.

This bread is downright sensational. The peaches add a juicy flavor and a gorgeous addition to the top. Of course the bananas are more prominent that the peaches flavorwise, but nevertheless the juicy bits of peaches surprise you with every bite and the cinnamon really makes the flavor pop.

I wanted to keep this bread lower in fat and calories so I used minimal butter and nonfat greek yogurt. I didn’t have any whole wheat flour in my cupboard, or I might have used some of that in the recipe instead of only using white flour.

Peach Banana Bread. Don’t miss out. I enjoyed mine with a drizzle of honey and a cup of hot coffee. Then I busted out the Jay-Z.

 

 

4.7 from 3 reviews
Low-fat Cinnamon Peach Banana Bread
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 12
  • Serving size: 1/12 of recipe
  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 2.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 29.1g
  • Sugar: 13.2
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Protein: 3.3g
Recipe type: Banana bread, Healthy, low fat
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Succulent fresh summer peaches combine with a low-fat moist banana bread made with greek yogurt and a touch of cinnamon.
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1 cup finely diced peaches (about 2 peaches), plus about 8-10 thin peach slices for topping
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 2 tablespoons butter, browned or melted (you can also use coconut, olive, or canola oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain vanilla greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar until well combined. Add vanilla and egg and whisk again until well combined. Whisk in diced peaches. Add in dry ingredients and yogurt alternatively, folding together well combined.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Top with thinly sliced peaches and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over the top. Dust lightly with cinnamon. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or toothpick comes out almost clean in center.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan gently and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Cut into thick slices and enjoy!
Notes
Can replace some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
Bread is better the next day.
Awesome toasted and drizzled with honey


Aug
21

Since being in LA, I’ve been trying to get out and do as many things as possible. Most days all I wanted to do is eat ice cream but you know I guess I have to get out and do things besides cook. This past weekend a friend invited me to go hiking and have a picnic in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California. We purchased delicious salads at Trader Joe’s (the best place evaaaa) and packed fresh fruit. I mean for heaven’s sake I was eating those peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt allllll last week so sweat and salad sounded pretty awesome.

Ohhhh and sweat is exactly what I did. The hike was uphill and grueling, but the views were absolutely breathtaking! We could see the beach, the bright blue ocean and Catalina Island in the distance. Sometimes there is nothing more fun then getting out and being a little adventurous. It just feels good, you know?

After our hike I was still incredibly hungry, but I wanted a healthy snack since I knew I was going out for dinner that night and would be most likely stuffing my face with warm tortilla chips and a giant Mexican salad. So what did I decided to make? Zucchini chips!

Don’t you look at your computer screen like that. Just trust in the power of your oven.

Zucchini is in season and if you haven’t found a recipe to use with it, here’s your chance! These are easy to make, cheap, and healthy. Who knew zucchini was such a triple threat?

I should also mention that zucchini is low in calories so I love finding new ways to eat it.

To make these I simply cut my zucchini into about 1/4 inch thick rounds, then dipped them in egg whites and coated them in a bread crumb and parmesan cheese mixture. I even added a little bit of red pepper flakes for spice, which I highly recommend!

These would be the perfect side dish to any burger you are cooking up for labor day. However, if you’re chowing down on them for a snack, I suggest dipping them in a classic marinara sauce!

 

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Chips
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish, Appetizer, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Zucchini coated in bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese then baked until crispy and golden.
Ingredients
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cover baking sheet with Parchment paper.
  2. Place egg whites in small bowl. In separate small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and a little black pepper.
  3. Dip each zucchini slice in egg whites then dip each round into the Parmesan bread crumb mixture, making sure to coat it evenly on boat sides. Place slices evenly on prepared baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Flip and bake another 5-10 minutes or until zucchini chips are golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately.
Notes
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping. Feel free to add or subtract spices to suit your tastes.


Aug
17

I have to tell you something.

It’s kinda weird.

Here it goes…

I keep having dreams about cheeseburgers! Seriously… juicy burgers hot off the grill are haunting me every single night.

I’ve had these dreams consistently over the past two weeks. The strangest part is that I haven’t had beef in over two years, so I don’t know what’s going on in my subconscious. It’s translating over to real life too! For example, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself staring at a piece of steak on the grill like a freaking lion about to attack its prey; I almost had to wipe my drool.

I decided it was best if I tried to clear my mind of burgers and all things beef. Dessert always helps.

Sometimes a classic chocolate chip cookie brings an unexplained comfort to the soul. The aroma of butter browning in your kitchen; blending the smooth texture of the peanut butter with eggs, sugar and vanilla; the mess of flour and the delicious flavor of sweet cookie dough in your mouth. Of course, I love baking cookies. And of course I can’t think of anything else when they come out of the oven. Not even how much I’d bake cookies for somebody special if they were here with me. Well, maybe I thought about that a little, but baking cookies always gives me a little romantic feeling.

When it comes to cookies, simple is good. Oh yes, simple is perfect sometimes. But! when you want something unforgettable, then you NEED extraordinary. That’s why we add peanut butter and sea salt.

Mmmm salty sweet peanut butter and chocolate in a warm little cookie; it’s an undeniable magic. I can’t explain how much I love them! They’re crisp on the outside but chewy in the middle. Eating them straight out of the oven is an outrageous experience you must try.

It’s really like this: they’re the type of cookie you want to bring to a party, the perfect cookie to bake for your boyfriend (and his parents), and most definitely the best solution for getting rid of cheeseburger dreams.

 

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookie, Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Creamy peanut butter, chocolate chips, and sea salt combine to make one delicious, unforgettable cookie.
Ingredients
  • 11/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, mix the softened butter and peanut butter together until thoroughly blended. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Next beat in the egg, honey, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes-1 hour, or place in freezer for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Once ready to bake, roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-12 minutes (depends on size of your cookie) or until cookies begin to turn a tiny golden brown and crisp up around the edges. Do not overbake! Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes and sprinkle cookies generously with sea salt. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely or just inhale them like I do. Repeat with remaining dough.
Notes
-Cookies may appear underdone in the middle, but they will become more firm as they cool. It's important to allow them to cool a few minutes before removing them from cookie sheet.
-You may require less or more baking time depending on the size of your cookie.
-If you are using all-natural peanut butter, try adding in another 1/2 tablespoon of flour, as cookies tend to spread too thin when baking with all-natural peanut butter.

 
 
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