Is it normal that I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow? Or that when I immediately wake up I check all of my SEVEN email accounts? Um, probably not.

I need to figure out a way to unplug from all of the communication sometimes. Or just find a balance. When I’m not working on my site, I’m constantly plugged in for my other job. As much as I tell myself that I need to take a break and relax, it’s hard to step away from the chaos of work and the busyness of life; I’m sure many of you can relate!

Usually the only thing that gets me away from all of it is the chaos of my own kitchen — my own little sweet happy spot. As soon as I put on a little music and begin to dice and chop, my creative energy pours into pots and pans, creating good food for loved ones.

This stew was made during an evening when my mind was cluttered and I needed a release. I had a busy day full of meetings. Okay and I was also dreaming about when I would actually get those girl scout cookies I ordered — like how long it would take for me to destroy 5 boxes this year? Whattttttt? Girl scout cookies are stressful to think about.

Anyway there was a jar of lentils that had been sitting in my cupboard along with gorgeous organic sweet potatoes from Whole Foods. It was time to put the iPhone down. A lovely pot of stew was an adventure I was ready to take on.

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photo (27)

Any big plans this weekend?

I’ll be working on recipe development for a few partnerships, and also grabbing dinner and drinks with one of my girlfriends. Other then that, my time will be devoted to yoga and getting organized! I’ve been flipping through old photos lately, and stumbled upon this gem of Dad and I at the pool. I wanted to share it all with you because it’s a special memory. The photo was taken in 1990 and apparently my Dad thought it would be cool to wear neon pink swim trunks. What a happy moment.

Anyway since it’s Friday, I wanted to share with you a few favorites links from around the internet. Here we go…








  • Fun leopard print nail polish design.


  • A comforting whole wheat roasted veggie lasagna for under 300 calories? Yes please!



  • What is this Paleo diet everyone keeps talking about, and should you try it?


  • Twitter launched Vine, a free mobile service that creates videos. Here are five reasons why you should download it.



Have an amazing weekend! xo



The Good BeanIf you’ve been reading Ambitious Kitchen for a while, you already know that I’m completely addicted to grocery shopping. It’s just a thing I do when I’m stressed, or even when I need a little creative outlet. It’s simple: I pace the aisles back and forth, looking at different ingredients and coming up with recipe ideas in my head. And of course, I’m always on the look out for fun new products to tell you guys about, especially if they’re healthy! Or if they have brown butter. Hehe.

This past week The Good Bean company contacted me to see if I’d like some samples of their product and do a giveaway. I usually don’t turn down free food, so of course I said yes!

The Good BeanThe Good Bean makes roasted chickpea snacks and Fruit & No-Nut Bars. They’re gluten-free and non-GMO, one serving of their chickpea snacks has as much fiber as 2 cups of broccoli, as much protein as an egg, as much folate as 3 cups of spinach, and they are freaking delicious! Their chickpea snacks come in four different flavors: sea salt, cracked pepper, smokey chili & lime, and sweet cinnamon. My favorite were the the sea salt and sweet cinnamon flavors. I found myself munching on the snacks on my way to the gym. They’re also perfect for topping on salads or even sprinkling on your greek yogurt in the morning!

The Fruit & NO-NUT Bars (made with chickpeas instead of nuts) were by far my favorite. Each bar has 40-60% less fat than the leading Fruit & Nut Bars. They have three varieties: apricot coconut, fruit & seeds trail mix, and chocolate berry. The chocolate berry bar is amazing, and they’re actually filling! The reason the bars aren’t photographed is because I ate them all. Seriously like ripped them open and devoured them. Sometimes I have no self control.

The Good Bean

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I’m getting to the point today. This bread is downright sensational. My goodness, I’m in love with it! I baked two loaves this weekend, and now sincerely hold the believe that it’s a little bit magical.

Honey Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. Doesn’t the name just scream ‘devour me’? The flavor combination is unique: a perfectly moist interior with a touch of sweetness from the honey with the bits of chocolate. Trust me, it cannot be matched.

Most of my banana bread recipes are healthy, use minimal sugar, no butter/oil, and focus on substitutes. I wanted this bread to fall under that category as well; however, I had never experimented with whole wheat flour in banana bread, nor unrefined sweeteners so I figured I would try something new.

The result? A gorgeous, perfectly moist bread with a golden brown crust! And not to mention, it’s now my new go-to banana bread. I just can’t get enough of this gem.

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My brain is addicted to breakfast. For lunch and dinner. In fact, I could have it at every meal for the rest of my life and be completely content.

In my opinion, there really is nothing that beats an egg sandwich — specifically this egg sandwich. And although it’s as simple as it appears, it truly is the best you will ever have.

Let me put it this way: Eggs + Avocado + Bacon + Tomato + a little heat all on top of thick grainy toast = OMG! It makes me want to cry every time I eat it, in a good way of course. Tears of pure happiness. This egg sandwich will probably be the best party your taste buds will ever experience.

Okay I’ll stop with the dramatic descriptions. This open-faced sandwich just makes me happy. And I want to share the recipe with you!

I make this sandwich open-faced because I enjoy eating it with a fork and knife and soaking up the incredible runny yolk. I like switching up my toppings too!

The following are my go-tos:

  • 1/2 a ripe avocado, sliced or mashed
  • ripe, sliced tomatoes
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg, usually fried over easy, sometimes poached
  • crispy bacon — I use turkey bacon
  • good multi-grain bread for toasting — the thicker the better!
  • pepper jack, havarti, or goat cheese — I like mixing it up
  • good quality hot sauce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Other favorites I’ve added:

  • spinach, arugula, or kale — more good-for-you greens!
  • green chile
  • tomatillo salsa
  • cucumbers
  • basil or cilantro — for that fresh taste!
  • red or green onion
  • chicken sausage, thinly sliced
  • tri-colored peppers, sauteed
  • jalapenos — if you like it hot!

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I’m a little bit late in posting this, but I wanted to share with you the Top 15 recipes on Ambitious Kitchen in 2012. I also was inspired to include some of your amazing comments, as I feel that hearing someone else’s success on a recipe is always encouraging. Ultimately, I feel so amazed and blessed by your readership, stories, comments and emails. You inspire me much more than you know!

I’m looking forward to sharing more photos, recipes, adventures, and cooking with all of you in 2013. If there’s anything you’d like to see more of, be sure to leave a comment or send me an email; I’d love to hear from you. Now on to the recipes!


15. Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes

CC says, “Just made these for my father-in-law for Father’s Day (second time making them) and I wanted to share that you have won him over. He wouldn’t ever consider eating quinoa before today (“too healthy”), but I whisked this cup in under the radar and he LOVED it/them! Love the healthy, tasty recipes you share. Keep up the great work/passion!”

Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes

14. Vegan + Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Arwen wrote, “This is SUPER tasty. Like, shockingly so. I’m not sure if it messes up the healthy factor if you eat half a loaf in a day, but that’s definitely the direction I’m heading in. Not sure I mind too much.”

Vegan & Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Banana Bread

13. Vegan Detox Green Monster Smoothie

Laura said, “I made this on Tuesday and was daydreaming about it all of yesterday while fasting for Yom Kippur, and I had leftovers of it this morning, and I’m making more now to have tomorrow morning!”

Vegan Detox Smoothie

12. Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Kira says, “Just made these for dinner with cornmeal crusted tilapia and mixed greens. The dipping sauce is amazing! I almost considered not making it but I’m delighted I did. Another culinary masterpiece from Monique!”

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce for Sweet Potato Fries from ambitiouskitchen.com

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

Karissa said, “Result: It was so easy to scoop out, even after that amount of time; literally like the texture of real ice cream! Hooray! We didn’t eat all of it, so the rest is still being stored for later. I thought I would have to chip/scrape or thaw the banana ‘ice cream’ after the refreezing, but nope, it was perfect!”

Banana Ice Cream #vegan

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This past weekend I spent my time catching up with a friend and enjoying a short trip to DC. I absolutely love weekend trips! You get in and out of cities with a few fantastic meals, memories to laugh over, and the excitement of travel. There’s only really one thing I despise: travel aftermath.

I always find myself in a state of chaos after an adventure. I’ll even fully admit to you that my suitcase isn’t getting unpacked for at least two weeks. There will also be piles of laundry starting at me, and it will take at least two days to sift through emails. Oh and then to top it all off I have to think about cooking myself dinner after dining out all weekend and guzzling margaritas like I have the metabolism of a gymnast… forget it! At that point all I desire to do is spread out in my bed and watch a marathon of shows that used to be cool in the 90s. Or the Food Network because it’s truly the only channel I need.

This is the time where super lean turkey sloppy joes come in. They’re so easy to throw together — and healthy too! Total travel worry diminished. Really you guys, you absolutely have no idea how obsessed I am with favorite childhood foods, particularly heaping tomato slathered juicy turkey sandwiched between a whole wheat hamburger bun. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. As a kid, I used to eat them with corn chips almost every day. Now that I’m an adult, I hold the hope that someone will create a sloppy joe food truck and park it in front of my house during lunch time.

Okay I admit that’s an unlikely scenario, but I really do adore them! These joes are a quick fix for my comfort food cravings.

Seriously how much easier could dinner get? Minimal ingredients. Healthy and easy. Just awesome flavor in your mouth. They remind me of being a kid! This recipe calls for a bit of BBQ sauce which means the sloppy joes aren’t as sweet, but instead have a perfect tangy, rich flavor with a hint of spice. I recommend using a bbq sauce with minimal sugar, and a spicy flavor, although your favorite sauce would work too. My favorite way to serve them? With sharp cheddar cheese on whole wheat crusty buns. Doooo it.

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Football season is here, and I don’t know about you but I’m more interested in the snacks rather than the game. So when I had the opportunity to partner with Pillsbury to build a Snackadium using their crescent rolls & pizza dough, I was totally in!

Thus I began my mission: throwing the ultimate football party with copious amounts of snacks, dips, brown butter cookies, meatballs, wings and just about anything you can think of.


Ohhhhh yeah.

Now you’re probably wondering what I did to create this ultimate party, and it’s simple really: I built a snackdium (football stadium made out of food) on top of my pool table. Obviously the best thing to known to men who love food.

I’m not kidding. Building stuff + food + football + brown butter cookies = a man’s favorite thing. Promise.


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As you may know (or perhaps you don’t), I don’t eat beef. It’s actually a little weird to think about since growing up I was in love with cheeseburger happy meals from McDonald’s. My dad loved a good burger too, topped high with condiments and every fixin’ in the refrigerator. Burgers were essential year round in our house, yet during my high school years I converted to turkey burgers, and then throughout college veggie burgers filled my plate.



Now there is no question that the tastes and textures between the three of them are completely different—juicy beef burgers, moist turkey burgers, and unbelievable flavored hearty vegetarian burgers. I actually prefer the satisfying flavor from veggies burgers — beans, fresh herbs, spices, and a delicious texture just can’t be surpassed.

Yesterday I was craving one of those veggie burgers made with good-for-you ingredients. Since I’m an Alexia Tastemaker, and have the honor of developing delicious recipes using Alexia products, I wanted to incorporate their new sweet potato rolls I knew they would be perfect with my veggie burgers, especially since they have sweet potatoes in them. Yum!


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Why is it that I feel like pumpkin recipes are only okay to post from October-December? It’s as though January is a big reset button, where we all go on juice cleanses seen on Dr. Oz.

Whatever! I’m a huge fan of pumpkin year round. So yes it’s January, but baking this pumpkin coffee cake won’t disappoint.


This cake! Oh did it fill my home with a wonderful aroma that I’ve never experienced before. I wanted the inviting warmth of it to linger until someone special showed up and wondered what cozy concoction was in the oven. To which of course I would reply, “A melt-in-your-mouth brown butter pumpkin coffee cake… with a pecan gingersnap cookie streusel!”

Sounds dreamy… and I can assure you, it is.


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