excuse me while I love this blog

wish-list-smores So, I found Sara Cornelius' illustrated food blog awhile ago. Then completely forgot about it. Not her though, I've keep tabs on instagram, but somehow missed most of her feed?!

Whatever, we all know I'm a mess when it comes to organizing social media. Anywho, when she posted a beautiful illustration yesterday, I was reminded of her great blog. After reading an fantastic post of podcast recommendations, right when I'm needing new podcasts, I knew I had to do a post on her blog, Cake over Steak. 

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It's unique, beautiful, and aligned directly with my tastes. I feel like a total goober for forgetting about it!

Please forgive me Sara, you are awesome and I've added you to my Feedly. I await more posts...eagerly.

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favorite thanksgiving dish

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The traditional Thanksgiving is one of my favorite meals ever. It's insanely hard for me to pick just one dish as a favorite because, in my opinion, it's the combination of everything together that makes it so wonderful.

However, dressing is by far at the top of my list. Bread, salt, and fat? Yes...

I about died the other day when I watched The Pioneer Woman make this panini with Thanksgiving leftovers...my dream come true

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2014-11-17 20.55.45 Have I ever mentioned that Andrew gives the best gifts ever? Oh, dang, I have...oh well, it's totally true!

I convinced him to let me open my present early the other night and this was it! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

I started off simple and made roasted red pepper and tomato soup last night. Insanely good and easy. If you have a Vitamix out there, how do you like to use it? I need ideas asap! Homemade nut butter here I come!

Trader Joe's: Favorites

2012-11-09_1352490754 There have been several great "what to buy at Trader Joe's" blog posts. Some good ones:

Why I Love Trader Joes // Shutterbean

My Favorite Trader Joes Pantry Items // Shutterbean

Trader Joes Survival Guide

So, naturally, I want to do my own. I think that it's a really fun thing for some reason. So...here you have it, my favorite items (right now) at Trader Joe's:

Some old standbys-staples...i.e, I buy these every time I go:

Charles Shaw white wine Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio...Sauvignon Blanc sometimes as well. YEEEEEEE

Wild Arugula or the organic arugula Crazy price ($1.99) for a big bag of only arugula. Yum. However, one thing: some bags tend to go bad quicker than others. You gotta keep an eye on it and make pesto the second you see it going!

Frozen Wild Boreal Blueberries These are teeny tiny and so good for smoothies.

Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Wake Up blend coffee  Big canister of whole beans. Perfect everyday coffee.

Frozen French Green Beans Throw these frozen into a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a ton of chopped garlic. Then dump onto cookie sheet and roast according to this recipe. Amazing.

All their canned beans, raw nuts, boxed broths, oils, etc. They are amazing for that kind of thing.

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New favorites. There are some products at TJ's that I'll give a whirl, then become obsessed with and burn myself out. Here are some past and present obsessions:

Speculoos Cookie Butter Of course. It wouldn't be a TJ's round up without it. I went hard on this stuff for awhile and now hardly ever buy it. Thank god.

Chile Spiced Mango I still love this stuff.

Triple Ginger Snaps Actually, this should be probably just be "entire cookie aisle." Andrew and I will latch onto one type of cookie and then switch it up.

Dried Flattened Banana I ate so much for this last year, I can barely look at the package right now.

Currently, I am insane over these Roasted Coconut Chips and these Roasted Plaintain ChipsOMG. Ahhhhhh.

Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds. Whoa. They're so tiny, but so delectable.

That's all I got right now...other than a sad collection of TJ's inspired photos from my instagram archive. Ridiculous. I need help.

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Green Gazpacho

2014-06-25 11.07.12 I love love love love love gazpacho.

While studying abroad in Granada, Spain, my host family made the traditional tomato variety all the time. It was so refreshing. Which was good because there were several occasions I might have been sitting on a street corner, slightly under the weather due to too many sangrias...like in this photo I unearthed while packing yesterday: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ANYWAYS...

While eating at Curate during my last trip to Asheville, I ordered their Ajo Blanco, or White Gazpacho, which was insane--chilled almond and garlic soup with cucumber.

I recently threw together a green gazpacho here at home. I've seen similar recipes around, but I made this one up. So easy. All the ingredients are to taste and texture, so just keep adding until it's just right for you.

Green Gazpacho

Ingredients

ripe avocado cucumber, seeds removed baby spinach leaves chopped fresh basil, dill, mint, and cilantro couple heaping spoonfuls of greek yogurt (2% fat or full fat) clove or two of garlic kosher salt + coarsely ground black pepper splash(es) of red wine or sherry vinegar extra virgin olive oil ice cold water

Throw all ingredients except for the oil into a blender or food processor. Be conservative on the amount of water you add in at first. You can always add more if needed. Blend. It should have the consistency similar to a smoothie. With blender or food processor running, begin to slowly drizzle in olive oil. This adds richness. I suggest maybe 1/4 cup for a blender full of soup. If the soup is still too thick for your liking, add more water.

Refrigerate for a few hours, season to taste, and then garnish with more fresh herbs.

 

arugula pesto

2014-02-03 13.07.51 I love love love arugula. This is so easy and so good.

Easy Arugula Pesto all ingredients to taste + texture

few large handfuls of arugula extra virgin olive oil finely grated parmesan cheese kosher salt lemon juice 1-2 spoonfuls of jarred basil pesto couple tbsp minced garlic

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In the food processor, pulse all ingredients except for oil. Once the greens are chopped into bits, turn on processor and begin to slowly pour in olive oil (in a very slow trickle) until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. 2014-02-03 13.11.46

I often put this into an ice cube tray and freeze, pop out pesto cubes and store in freezer bags. Makes a great addition to soups, pastas, etc.

almost vegan homemade peanut butter cups

2014-01-21 14.24.20 I'll always be grateful to blogger + yogini Katie Levans of Honeystuck for posting her Vegan Reese's Peanut Butter Egg recipe. I first attempted it last year and after a few tweaks of my own, it's one of my good-to desserts. Again, like I've said before, I can't bake...I've kinda stopped trying. So if I'm going to try my hand at making homemade dessert, it has to be something like this.

While Katie's original recipe works great, I've made a couple small changes. I'm not vegan, but make a lot of vegan recipes. I use no milk, butter, or cream, so I think calling things "almost vegan" might become a trend on this here blog. I've got a lot of recipes in my "almost vegan" arsenal that I hope to share with you.

Warning: making these peanut butter cups is kinda messy and takes a little bit of practice. Patience might be needed...but they are worth it! They are also very rich, which is great because one can be your whole dessert for the night!

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Almost Vegan Peanut Butter Cups adapted from Katie Levans

Ingredients (all according to taste + texture...feel free to play with measurements)

1 cup dark chocolate chips 1/2 - 3/4 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter 1-2 tbsp coconut oil 1/4 cup nondairy milk (I always use almond) 2 tbsp coconut flour 1-2 tbsp Nutella 1 tbsp agave nectar a sprinkling of kosher salt

In an electric mixer, beat peanut butter with Nutella, coconut flour + agave nectar. 2014-01-21 12.37.37

This mixture will be very thick and should resemble a tough dough.

Take it out and place between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick..look, Nutella swirls! 2014-01-21 12.43.29 Sprinkle kosher salt very lightly over top of dough, replace top layer of parchment and roll over it one last time. 2014-01-21 12.46.46 Freeze dough in this thin layer for about an hour.

After dough is cold, put chocolate chips in a medium bowl with coconut oil + nondairy milk 2014-01-21 13.15.55 Melt in the microwave and whisk until smooth 2014-01-21 13.22.40

Get dough out of freezer and begin to cut your circles. I use a shot glass and it works like a charm. You get perfect, muffin tin sized disks! 2014-01-21 13.27.31 Using cupcake liners, fill up a 4 x 3 muffin pan.

Place a small spoonful of chocolate mixture in the bottom of each liner. Keeping the pan on a counter or table, strongly shake back and forth until chocolate evenly spreads and covers the bottom of each cupcake liner. You might need to get in there and help a little with a spatula. No big, just shake again if you want to even things out. 2014-01-21 13.26.32 Place one peanut butter disk in each liner. Top with another spoonful of chocolate mixture. Repeat shaking process. Use a spatula to cover any visible peanut butter. Place entire muffin tin in the freezer for a few hours. If you have leftover peanut butter dough, wrap up in parchment then plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

After a couple of hours, you can remove them from muffin tin and store in a freezer bag (in the freezer). Because of the coconut oil, when these guys are below a certain temperature, they hold their shape brilliantly. However, the chocolate is not at all hard, but amazingly soft like a ganache. So good. Enjoy!

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homemade Naked smoothie juice

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I used to love those ridiculously overpriced Naked juices. I still do really. But when I realized how crappy they actually are, I could no longer justify spending 3+ dollars on them. So incredibly easy to make at home if you've got a bunch of frozen fruit...also, cheaper and healthier.

However, this still does have a ton of fructose in it...it's fruit! I'm sorry, but the day I start depriving myself of real fruit because it has sugar in it, I'm calling it quits. That's just plain ridiculous in my book. I even add a bit of honey to this thing...which is optional if you're watching sugar.

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I do not own a blender. Yes of course I would love a Vitamix, but I'm getting by just fine without it. I use a Cuisinart Smart Stick hand blender for all my smoothies/juices, but feel free to use your fancy blender. If you're like me, use a high-sided vessel such as a liquid measuring cup and your hand blender for this.

All that's needed...all to taste + texture:

frozen fruit: my favorite combo is wild blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapple.lime juicehoney (I think a higher quality one tastes a ton better, but am not above the big bear)minced ginger...from a jar (of course you can use fresh, but this is supposed to be easy!) coconut water

There is only one trick to this: put fruit in your vessel, or a bowl if you're using a blender. Microwave for 30 seconds to break it down a bit.

Then combine all your ingredients and blend away. Enjoy.

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I make this right after I've eaten an entire bowl of white truffle parmesan popcorn and need something sweet and fruity IMMEDIATELY.

Resolutions 2014

photo 2If you read this blog, you know I love resolutions. I explained why last year in this post. So, I'm doing it again...I completed all five in 2013, let's see if I got it in me for these five: 1. You know how you buy books and then they sit on shelves unread? In 2014, I will read all of those. I went through and rounded them up and was relieved there aren't too many: 2013-12-25 13.15.13 Because this is a really obtainable goal, I would also love to get at least 40 books read.

2. Keep a clean car. No more banana peels, scarves, books, fruit leather wrappers, dog hair (yeah right) and crusty coffee mugs. This is going to be HARD. Photo Jan 21, 7 23 01 PMI have also decided to extend this to my closet...as in, keep an organized and clean closet. I did a purge/reorganize yesterday so I'm starting from scratch...I'm willing to say that this will most likely NEVER happen, but I have to put it on here so I'm accountable.

3. Handstand...get comfortable kicking up to wall. Also, continue to work on getting headstand away from wall.

4. Paint. No specific goal except that I need to get my stuff out and paint more than I have in the past couple years. Also, this includes artwork using the iPad...I have barely scratched the surface of possibilities there.

5. Blog project: 52 Poses in 2014...stay tuned for more on this.

I'm also switching the blog up a bit just like I did last year. No more Camera Workout posts, but will still sprinkle about my "life is better with" posts along with monthly Instagram wrap-ups. However, I'm very excited about the new things I have planned for this little internet space. Do I dare try my hand at regularly sharing recipes?! By no means will this turn into another food blog (not needed in life), but I do cook a ton and usually make up my recipes...seems like a natural space to share them. And my new camera lens might make photographing easier for that kind of thing.

Also, stay tuned for the first post in my "52 Poses in 2014" series. This is going to be fun!

I thought I would a button of one of my favorite fellow bloggers, Melyssa, from The Nectar Collective. I love her idea for monthly, first Monday link-ups related to wishes for the year!

The Nectar Collective

My internet...blogs I've been reading for awhile

2013-03-24_1364143985 I've been reading blogs for quite some time. Way, way back before I started one. I have a few that I've been reading since the beginning, but I also continue to find many new ones that I'll read for awhile then forget about and then go back and find again, etc, etc.

Here are those I've been reading for awhile:

Ree Drummond: The Pioneer Woman  Duh...she's perfect in every way...those bassets, that ranch, her love of movie quizzes!

Gabrielle Blair: Design Mom The name of this blog is deceiving. Yes, she's a mother to six children and writes about that frequently, but she also has wonderful suggestions for websites, books, clothes, shopping...basically sharing beautiful stuff. I particularly enjoyed this blog while they were living in a country house in rural France (!). They've recently moved back to the states. Will be interesting to see where it goes...

NPR Monkeysee Linda Holmes and company write this pop culture blog space for NPR. Always a wonderful source of content that is well-written and well considered.

Tracy Benjamin: Shutterbean Great recipes from cookbooks, original, or derived from other bloggers. They ALWAYS turn out great.

Joy Wilson: Joy the Baker I'm challenged in the baking department so I love living vicariously through Joy. She also shares a lot of the same sensibilities that I do...refreshing to read a beautifully styled blog that is baby free...sorry...just being honest.

This is Colossal Mind blowing art shared daily. My favorite place to look at amazing stuff.

There are two blogs that I've been reading forever....BUT they come with a caveat. Do you ever feel like you've been taken hostage by something? That's how I feel about Rockstar Diaries or lovetaza.com as it's now called and Bleubird Vintage. I've never seen more beautiful people take more beautiful photos of their beautiful homes and beautiful babies. I love their writing because I find myself reading it. However, I've noticed that lately there are a LOT of sponsored posts here and not a ton of other content. I understand that people are trying to make a living with their blog...but suggesting that I buy a $60 candle in order to have a proper "date night in" with my husband? NO. Or just casually ignoring the fact that in order to have this most beautiful life, an investment banker husband might help? I'm not annoyed with them for the life they have, I'm annoyed because of their lack of honesty and self-awareness. Look at Pioneer Woman! She has a pretty insane life, that is completely different from mine, but manages to come across as 100% down-to-earth. Sorry, I apologize, rant over....I just often find myself frustrated for the lack of reality in these blogs, but I can't really say anything because I. keep. dang. on. reading. them...I need. to. stop. So, long story short, if you want to see beautiful people taking beautifully over-saturated photos of beautiful places, products, and babies...these blogs are for you.

Camera Workout: Week 13

Photo Apr 01, 8 54 28 PMFinally got our upstairs finished with a new tv! Also rearranged furniture so that we now have computer-office area at the other end. It's very cozy...and Bagel loves it...Photo Apr 01, 8 54 57 PMJewelry getting cleaned. Photo Apr 01, 8 55 50 PMwhite wine in sunlight...got these glasses as a wedding present...still love them! Photo Apr 01, 8 56 56 PM (1)Checked this out from the library...Andrew wants to start listening to audiobooks on his commute...not exactly sure this is what he has in mind... Photo Apr 01, 9 00 29 PMI made multiple batches of these vegan peanut butter cups over spring break. Delicious and ridiculously easy.  Photo Apr 01, 9 02 35 PM

Waiting for Andrew to get home.  Photo Apr 01, 9 03 23 PM

Found this sticker while reorganizing this week...I love it!Photo Apr 01, 9 04 05 PMAsian for dinner always = a sticky soy/sweet dipping sauce Photo Apr 01, 9 05 41 PMAlso finally got our spare room turned into a little reading room...this chair is a hand-me-down from Andrew's parents...I have always loved it and about died when they wanted to get rid of it...it's comically large. Photo Apr 01, 9 06 30 PMcute attack.  Photo Apr 01, 9 08 00 PMEaster present from my mama...I devoured these in record time. Love Schimpff's! Photo Apr 01, 9 01 30 PMFinally about to finish this one...really loving it! Photo Apr 01, 9 08 34 PM

March

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What a great month!

 

Andrew started new job (and bonus...seems to really like it!), I got a raise + possible benefits at my day job (!!!!), and had great attendance at the studio (I love my students).  However, I have developed an addiction to  Lotsa Pasta frozen calzones that needs to be addressed and the weather was pretty poor (snow on my spring break!? BOO).

 

Unfortunately for Andrew, I have also been listening to the new Blake Shelton album on repeat which is truly deplorable. I think every song has the words "beer," "truck," "blue jeans," "sweet tea," "moonlight," "redneck," about 10 times...ahhh it's good, so so good. I have thrown this song in for good measure...equally annoying in a totally different way.

 

Also my library got about 1000x more fun when my shipment of new books arrived mid-month...now we have all 18 Elephant & Piggie books to read over and over again! Victory!

 

 

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Camera Workout: Week 6

Photo Feb 11, 10 02 31 PM This boy gets tucked in every night. We're not sure why he's so tired exactly...he doesn't do much during the day either... Photo Jan 27, 9 26 09 PM The curry candle is almost gone. Photo Feb 11, 10 03 39 PM

Our main laptop went kaput so this little guy has been getting a workout lately--10 years and still chugging!Photo Feb 11, 10 05 01 PM

A horrifying sight. One load clean and needs to be put away, another that needs to be washed. Why!!??!?!? Photo Feb 11, 10 06 33 PM Not sure how or why this happened. Photo Feb 11, 10 09 39 PM

Putting my feet up, watching Mom prepare for book club. How rude! Photo Feb 11, 9 58 46 PM

A Valentine's book club meeting.

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Finally broke down and bought a real planner. I used to keep a very organized (maybe a little too organized) planner in college and have tried to use electronic versions. It does not work for me! I'm gladly going back to the stone age. Photo Feb 11, 10 11 42 PM

My nails are "forever festive" this week. My hands are suffering from that wintry dry, lizard skin thing. Ugh.Photo Feb 11, 10 08 16 PM

Getting my parboil on for some stuffed peppers. Photo Feb 11, 10 12 31 PM

November 2012

2013-11-24_1385327441 These photos highlight the complete transition of weather and festivity within the past couple weeks. The Thanksgiving break was exactly what I needed...feeling tons better and ready to get my Christmas on!

Three things making me super happy right now: glögg (recipe to come!), Candy Cane Joe-Joes, and new clothes.

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5 healthy foods that taste like heaven

Eating healthy is easy when you have these staples in your kitchen. Recipe possibilities are endless--must haves in my book.

Frozen bananas. They taste like candy  ice cream. period...especially if they are almost too ripe. Have bananas that are covered in brown spots? QUICK--peel them, chunk them, throw them in a baggie, and freeze. Blend them up with greek yogurt and a little almond milk and you have the richest tasting "milkshake" ever.

Canned pumpkin. NOM. NOM. NOM. Very seasonal I know, but I use it September through May pretty much. Soup, muffins, pasta sauce (recipe coming soon!), smoothies, etc. Can never get enough, tastes so good.

Avocado. Enough said.

Light coconut milk.  Again, soups, stews, curries, desserts, etc. So wonderfully rich, tastes so wonderful, but is redonks healthy & vegan.

Toasted coconut.  Between its milk, its oil, and its flesh, coconut is the king of richness. So delicious.....(get it!?)

Greek yogurt.  It's a little ridiculous how often I buy these big tubs. My ultimate staple in the kitchen--always use it in place of sour cream, but also of course in smoothies, desserts, cold soups, etc. This photo is not my favorite brand--if I get my pick, I love Fage.