vanilla almond milk

16 Mar

ImageToday was a perfect summer day.  Woke up early and beat the sun to the beach for some sunrise yoga (i’m sounding especially hippy today), went for a walk on the beach with an old friend, and sat in our backyard and ate lunch with my husband.   As he swiftly drifted off into dreamland, I got to play in the kitchen.

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He’s going to kill me for this one….but he looks so content!Image

I learned from a classmate of mine that almond milk can very easily be made in the nutribullet.  While I believed her, i didn’t believe just how easy it could be.  Simple simple simple and you end up with the most delicious, wholesome dairy-free and protein-rich milk!  (it scares me sometimes just how excited I get about these things)

vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds

2 cups water

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp honey (or more to taste)

1 large pinch salt

1.  soak the almonds and water in the nutribullet cup overnight

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2.  drain the water, add another 2 cups water to the almonds, along with the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey and salt.  here’s where you can get creative with amounts and make your milk exactly how you like it.

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3. blend for about 1-2 minutes until it gets all nice and frothy

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4. refrigerate, pour and enjoy!

I love using this as a base for my frozen banana and spinach smoothies in the morning.  Add in some flax and chia seeds and a nutritious, filling breakfast is served.  And the best part about it is you only have one cup to clean after it’s all said and done.

Joe and I are off to the Getty Villa and then to my mom and dad’s house for the annual St. Patrick’s Day feast!

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blackberry buttermilk cake

13 Mar

ImageImageI have developed a wonderfully delicious, but dangerous habit.  Cake in the afternoon.  There is something incredibly relaxing about having a cup of tea and a slice of sweet sometime between lunch and dinner, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.  That is, until the reality (panic, rather) of “I have a wedding in Hawaii in May” sets in.  Yesterday, I opened the fridge in search of a little snack and instead just eating the blackberries I eyed right out of the carton, I decided to take a perfectly healthy option and make it into a cake.  Que sera, sera.

ImageThis cake is a wonderful afternoon cake (yes, that is a new category in my world).  It is light, tart and sweet, but not too sweet and the whole blackberries can almost for a second make you think you’re eating something healthy.  You’re not.  Please see ingredients below.

blackberry buttermilk cake

(adapted from Food & Wine Buttermilk Cake with Blackberries)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I make a non-dairy buttermilk by mixing just under 1/2 cup almond milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar and letting it sit for about 5 minutes before use)

1 small carton blackberries

Image1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  prepare a 9 inch round cake pan (i spray mine with Pam baking spray, but the less processed way would be with some softened butter and some flour)

2. mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt

3. in a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the 2/3 cup sugar and butter until light and fluffyImage

4. beat in the egg and vanilla

5. at a low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour mixture until just combined

6. pour batter into prepared pan, smooth the top

7. scatter the blackberries over the top of the cake, pressing them lightly into the batterImageImage

8.  sprinkle the cake with the 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (this creates the sugary crust…mmm)

9.  bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean

10.  transfer the cake to a cooling rack, then flip back around to present the cake  (add some whipped cream and some extra berries and you’re ready to rock and roll!  i skipped the whipped cream in an attempt to stay away from dairy, but it would’ve been delicious)

Make a cup of tea, cut yourself a warm slice and enjoy your afternoon treat!

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kale beet salad with pistachios & guacamole

24 Feb

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Enjoying a salad made with all sorts of yummy farmers market purchases on a Saturday after a bike ride when you’ve returned back into your pajamas and are lounging outside in 65 degree weather….

It doesn’t look like the most appetizing salad based on my iPhone photos, but trust that once you try this very satisfying salad you’ll be wanting it for lunch every day.

For the salad:

1 large head kale (chopped up into tiny pieces)

4 small beets (cooked and diced)

3 carrots (peeled and chopped)

2/3 cup pistachios

1 cup cooked wild rice (or bulgur wheat or quinoa or farro)

For the dressing:

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp walnut oil (or olive oil)

2 tsp honey

1/4 tsp corriander

2 tsp tahini paste

salt and pepper to taste

for the guacamole:

2 avocados

juice of 2 limes

1/4 tsp garlic

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1. mix together the dressing and salad ingredients (minus the rice) and let marinate in the fridge for about an hour

2. make the guacamole by mixing all ingredients together

3. assemble the salad with the kale mixture on the bottom, topped with some rice, followed by a dollop of guacamole

4. mix together and enjoy!

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Super Bowl Bites

3 Feb

Super Bowl ’14 was an absolute bust, but the food was anything but boring.  Chicken andouille sausage and honey mustard “pigs” in a blanket, turkey chili, a crudite platter with a creamy jalapeno dip, the world’s largest platter of nachos AND a large pitcher of margaritas to wash it all down.   We topped it all off with chocolate whopper cookies from the bakery I used to work at in North Carolina, Foster’s Market.IMG_1323IMG_1237IMG_1314IMG_1288IMG_1277IMG_1329We also landscaped our front yard on Super Bowl Sunday.  I can take credit for the eats, but the following was all Joe (and the crew).  Grow, plants, grow!IMG_1337IMG_1338On our honeymoon we bought a 600 lb Siddhartha Gautama stone statue.  What. Were. We. Thinking.   After being housed in our garage for 4 months we had a strong to very strong feeling that it was never going anywhere.  But, with the help of some very strong men, we finally got it into our backyard.  Heeeeeeeey budda!  I can’t help but think about all the noodles we ate, jungle noises we heard, the moto we zipped around on, the monkey paws we held and the wonderful people we met in Bali every time I peep this guy.  We also strung lights above the yard.  Can’t wait for summer BBQs and warm(er) nights out back.  Mmmmm BBQs.  Go Peyton!  IMG_1331

Tangerine-Scented Vanilla Almond Granola

27 Jan

photo 2Every morning at home starts the same way over here:  a 3 egg, turkey bacon sandwich on a toasted bagel for Joe and a bowl of Greek yogurt with bananas, blueberries and roasted almonds for me.  When I’m in the mood for something more, I like to add granola to the mix.  Instead of buying overpriced granola and/or a bag of toasted oats that contains way too much sugar, try making it yourself.   It couldn’t be easier and you have the power to create whatever combination you’d like.  This particular mix has coconut oil, a touch of maple syrup and the zest of a tangerine we got from the farms up in Ojai this past weekend.   I like my granola super almondy, so I added in some whole almonds and also sprinkled the mix with Chia seeds.  Add dried fruit after baking to add some natural sweetness.  Dried cherries or cranberries would be delicious in this batch.

Tangerine-Scented Vanilla Almond Granola

2.5 cups rolled oats

1 T maple syrup

4 T coconut oil (melted)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup raw almonds

zest of one tangerine

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Combine all ingredients to ensure the oats are evenly coated with the oil and syrup.  Feel free to add more syrup, depending on how sweet you like your granola.

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3.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the oat mixture evenly on the pan.

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4. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooking.

5. Cool, store and voila, custom-made granola at a fraction of the price.  Yay!

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

21 Jan

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I found this recipe on a vegetarian blog I recently discovered called Cookie & Kate and decided to give it a whirl considering I was promised I would never taste the zucchini in these chocolatey treats.  And sure enough, they did not disappoint.  The zucchini only adds a moisture to these (considerably) healthy dessert.  Honey is used in place of granulated sugar and whole wheat flour replaces white flour.  Chocolate is not replaced with anything, and there is a lot of it in these little bites!  You can only be so healthy.

I decided to make these in honor of my new (and old) coworkers at Chrysalis.  I recently started working at my favorite non-profit again to help with the Women’s Empowerment Program they coordinate every January through April.   It has been so fun being back– seeing the continued success of the organization, the smiles and warm words of old clients and volunteers, and of course the awesome staff members that do all of the important work.  At lunch the other day we were sharing New Year resolutions and I mentioned my food blog, and just like that they now all have the power to hold me accountable.  So, I thought I would bake something for the team to thank them for the support.  Hope they enjoy these chocolatey, chocolatey, really chocolatey, gooey afternoon snacks 🙂

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

2 cups zucchini (grated)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup honey (can add more to increase sweetness)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 inch baking pan.

2. Place grated zucchini in a colander and squeeze out any extra moisture with a kitchen towel.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, honey and vanilla.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips!

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool and serve!

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Grilled Mediterranean Octopus

9 Jan

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The new year brings new promise, new goals and a new approach to how we treat ourselves and others.  After the roller coaster that was the Fall of 2013 (ok, all of 2013), Joe and I are very much welcoming a clean slate, a fresh start and a hopefully more balanced year ahead! 

Two amazing things happened this holiday season. 

1. Joe and I were able to experience an unbelievable amount of support and encouragement from the friends and family in our lives.  After the high of our wedding weekend (where we also felt the love big time), we experienced the most trying time of our new life together.  And we couldn’t have gotten through it without the people who rallied to surround and support us.  We were given a unique gift:  to understand how we can be there for our loved ones in the future, through the good and the bad.  

2. Danielle and Carlo were in town for 2+ weeks!!!  I just love having them around.  They make everything funnier and more delicious!  And thanks to a cancelled flight back to the frozen East Coast, we got even more time together. 

For New Year’s Eve, the four of us got together at our house for a feast of epic proportions.  A mezze platter, grilled octopus, fish sauce wings from Pok Pok, mussels in a white wine sauce, lamb meatballs from The Meatball Shop, and a lemon bundt cake after we had no room left in our bellies.  Before the “meal”, we popped some champagne and walked down to the beach to watch the last sunset of 2013.  See ya!  ImageImage

D made some impressive Old Fashioneds, which we sipped on while cheering on Duke Football as they almost took town Texas A&M.  We cooked, ate, sat and drank, cooked, ate, sat and drank.  Repeat that a few times and I’d say it was the perfect NYE!  And the best part about it was that D & C spent the night, so when we woke up the next morning we made breakfast and drank mimosas while writing our new year resolutions together.    Image

Back to the octopus.  I went down to the fish market at the Redondo Beach pier and picked up 2 lbs of these little suckers, blanched them, marinated them overnight and then the boys threw them on the grill a few minutes before we were ready to eat.  ImageImageImageImageImage

Grilled Mediterranean Octopus

2 lbs octopus

A few bunches of herbs (I used parsley, oregano, green onions)

6 bay leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

2 T. chopped fresh oregano

1/2 tsp. chile flakes

Black pepper and salt

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the octopus for about 90 seconds.   Remove the octopus from the water and drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line the bottom of a Dutch oven with the bundles of herbs and the bay leaves.  Place the octopus on the herbs, cover the pot and cook until the octopus are tender (about 90 minutes). 

3.  Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and chile flakes.  Marinate the octopus in this mixture for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.

4. When ready to cook, get your grill super hot and grill the octopus until they are nice and charred.  Drizzle with olive oil, some lemon juice and black pepper.  Enjoy with some feta and warm bread!Image

Here’s to a Healthy and Happy New Year!  Cheers!!