how I'm dealing with the heat this weekend

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It's haaaaaaaaaawt this weekend.

How I'm beating the heat:

1. I'm making a ton of my homemade skinny girl margaritas...adding fresh herbs and cucumber for extra crispness.

2. Dipping into my stash of ice cold lavender towels for the studio. Nothing feels better.

3. Wearing tank tops that are extremely baggy with my favorite sports bra ever underneath. Can't believe my luck from last weekend when I found two brand new ones in my size at Sassy Fox. That place makes my life so much better.

4. Making spring rolls in a bowl...probably my favorite thing ever. Hope to post the recipe soon, but until then, this one is pretty dang close to what I do.

5. Having extremely short hair. It's pretty amazing in temps like these.

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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.

 

peanut butter chai granola bars...or just granola

IMGP0701 Ok. I've been trying to make decent granola bars for about a year now. They are always okay...but never great. They also never stay bars...more like large granola chunks. So this Sunday I decided to be okay with the large chunks and go for it using my own recipe. As you know, when I cook for myself (not using a recipe) I very rarely measure anything...and of course I am not talking about baking. For that (if I even try it at all) I use a recipe and still fail miserably.

Granola is one of those sweet treats that doesn't require exact amounts of anything, thus I run straight for it. I was shocked how good this turned out. Feel free to play with any measurements given...I certainly do! Happy to share! And before you get stressed out, I know that's a crap ton of ingredients...don't worry, this is not hard.

Peanut Butter Chai Granola

Ingredients

body of granola: 4 cups rolled oats 2 cups toasted wheat germ 3 cups rice crispies 1/2 cup of flax seeds 1 cup shredded coconut 4 tbsp melted vegan butter (I use soy free Earth Balance) 1/3 cup canola oil couple handfuls of raw almonds couple handfuls of raw cashews couple handfuls of golden raisins ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom to taste

binding/coating:

2 tbsp coconut oil 1 tbsp of vanilla extract 1/4 cup of molasses 2/3 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup coconut sugar 1/2 cup of natural, unsweetened peanut butter 1/2 cup of coconut water

In big huge bowl, toss oats and shredded coconut with melted butter, kosher salt, and canola oil. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Once this is finished, add toasted mixture back to big bowl and add all other ingredients in top list. Toss to evenly distribute ingredients and insure that spices coat everything.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients for binding/coating to a boil, whisking vigorously. Once hot and bubbly and fully combined, pour over granola mixture while simultaneously tossing/stirring with rubber spatula. Continue to stir/toss until all pieces are evenly coated with sugar mixture.

Spread granola out on the same rimmed baking sheet and press evenly to all sides. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Let cool and then slice. And inevitably break/crumble into granola. Enjoy! IMGP0703IMGP0700

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.

Happy Valentine's Day!

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/b3/98/3c/b3983c811da4c7613ce80b9e3b2e4c2f.jpg I love this animated short, Paperman, that won the Oscar last year. I've been showing it at all school all week for Valentine's Day. It's the best.

[viddler id=8ab66a9e w=545 h=307]

I just got the call from school that we'll be dismissing two hours early for snow...we ALMOST made it a full week but not quite! This is crazy! I plan to make the most out of it by doing a big yoga practice this afternoon and making these cinnamon-sugar tortilla hearts from Shutterbean.

Happy Valentine's!

 

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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apricot chutney recipe

I love Indian food...especially all the different chutneys. Mint chutney on pappadums is by far my fave and I am so jealous of Mom and Lis who recently got to eat probably the best I've ever had.

Made up a batch of apricot chutney last week. Here's my recipe. Sorry there are no amounts on anything...I never measure anything when I'm cooking and I didn't think about blogging this recipe until after the fact!

Don't worry, you can't mess it up.

a bunch of fresh apricots, pits removed and roughly chopped handful of currants half a yellow onion chopped garlic chopped ginger red chili pepper flakes (however many you want, but watch out, they can get HOT real quick) generous splash of red wine vinegar generous glug of extra virgin olive oil salt & pepper to taste decent amount of water

Set a medium saucepan on the stove w/ heat on medium high...glug in your olive oil. Dice onion and add. Let onions sweat a good while, getting very soft & translucent. Add garlic, ginger, & red pepper flakes.

Let sweat a couple minutes more, being careful that the garlic and ginger do not burn...I stir constantly.

Add apricots and currants.

Add vinegar & water. Stir.  Reduce heat to low and forget about it. I let mine cook on the stove for a few hours...until it is reduced, thick, and melted.

MmmmMMMMmmmMMMMmm...basically this is savory/spicy preserves. Yummers.

I put it on crackers or on sandwiches. You would be amazed how easily this can elevate a boring grilled cheese.

Vegan Banana and Toasted Coconut Muffins

I made these last week and they were (surprisingly) so good! After reviewing my resolutions, I am back on the baking train. I started off with this recipe, but made so many changes that I consider these muffins an original creation.

I have been experimenting with vegan baking for a couple of years and concluded that there is one secret weapon to success:

Everything is better with a little coconut oil, but mostly it adds a richness that is woooonderful.

The other secret to these muffins is toasting your coconut:

Recipe:

  • 2 cups whole wheat white flour (I'm assuming that these could easily be gluten free as well if you substituted coconut flour for the whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  •  1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  •  1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut 
First, toast your coconut in a skillet over medium high heat. Watch it carefully, it can burn in two seconds!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon in a large bowl.
Combine mashed banana, oil, sugar, vanilla, & almond milk in a medium bowl. Add to dry mixture.
Fold in toasted coconut.
Spoon into muffin tin, filling them up about three quarters.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes (another secret: NOT overcooking these)
Enjoy!

weekend

[vimeo 30106710 w=500 h=281] I hope everyone had a great weekend. I had an excellent one.

It's Derby week here -- haven't been around for it in quite awhile, we'll see what fun it brings. 

homemade citrus soda

I have been addicted to this ever since the weather became so unseasonably warm. We moved into our house in November, so this is our first spring here. All the windows bring in so much light and fresh air, I needed a drink to match! I came up with this after drinking a ridiculous amount of homemade margaritas. 

grab some citrus. I used Cuties here...because they available and so cheap right now.

and a juicer.

and some ice.

and to be completely over the top, grab a jar. No, this is not a mason/ball canning jar, but a cookie butter one. HA!

cut several Cuties in half. If using lemons, limes, grapefruit, etc, obviously use less.

juice the fruit, being careful to press slow and steady to avoid losing juice out the sides.

...until jar is about a third of the way full.

top with tonic water (I go back and forth between diet & regular...there is no difference in flavor)

Stir.

and that's it! yummers-- lip smackin'!

grilled pineapple with drizzled nutella

tried out something new last night for dessert. Got the idea from this recipe from Giada de Laurentis.

I did a much simpler version:

cut pineapple into large slices (this probably would have been prettier with rings, but I don't have anything to core it)

grilled for about 3 minutes on both sides, until beginning to caramelize.

while pineapple is on the grill, prepare the Nutella.

I put a couple healthy spoonfuls of the chocolate hazelnut spread into a bowl and added a large splash of milk.

heated in the microwave for 30 seconds and whisked until satiny smooth--drizzle consistency!

Once you can see some nice grill marks on the fruit, take it off the heat, plate and drizzle on!

we ate this with a fork and knife to feel fancy.

Favorites: another snack

I thought I would share another favorite snack of mine. I love to eat this for lunch on the weekends - so good.

Ingredients:

good bread (I used marble rye in the photos above, but I also love these with pumpernickel) goat cheese cherry or grape tomatoes garlic fresh herb or greens

Preheat oven to somewhere between 375 and 400 degrees...I'm not very precise, I just walk over & crank up the oven when I decide to make this...

chop garlic (or just use minced out of a jar) and spread on bread slices

if goat cheese is cold from the fridge, I put it in a bowl and microwave for about 5-10 seconds until it is spreadable spread cheese on slices

top w/ halved tomatoes

place slices in hot oven, directly on the rack and toast until tomatoes pop and begin to get all melty and soft.

drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top w/ the fresh herbs

EAT.

snacking...one of my favorite pastimes

"I don't like to eat between meals."SAY WHAT?! I am a big time snacker. When I pack my lunch in the morning, more than half of it is comprised of various snacks for throughout the day. i have since managed to get this drawer under control, but it was pretty ugly a few weeks ago.

When I was studying abroad in Spain, my host family turned me on to the best snack in the entire world. It's so good that I often make it as a side with whatever we might be having for dinner.

A simple tomato and avocado salad. Its deliciousness is somewhat dependent on where you live (Texas = amazing, Norway = not so much) and if the avocados are good. But even if the produce is subpar, it is still an excuse to eat excessive amounts of salt and olive oil!

Recipe:

cut up tomatoes of any variety you like. cut up an avocado. dump in a bowl. toss with lots of salt, coarsely ground cracked black pepper. drizzle with olive oil. EAT.