Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Events, etc

It's crazy that the holiday season is already here and moving so fast. Next week is Thanksgiving and before I know it, December will be here....and gone. Time needs to slow down.

I am doing several holiday markets this year. If you are around the San Diego or Los Angeles area, stop by and say hello!

This Saturday is the Makers Arcade show in downtown San Diego. There will be amazing local vendors, food, AND a bar. It's going to be a lot of fun. Cocktails always make shows more enjoyable.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Crepes

Crepes are one of my favorite things to make. They're a great weekend breakfast, dessert, or snack.

They can be filled with healthy stuff like fruit (or veggies for a savory crepe) or good stuff like chocolate. When I make them for breakfast I try to be a little healthy and go the fruit route. Sometimes the fruit and the nutella route, but always a little fruit :).

This past Sunday I made apple cinnamon crepes. I used my favorite basic crepe recipe and filled each one with a few spoonfuls of apple pieces coated in cinnamon and sugar.

This recipe makes about 8 large crepes....which is enough for 2-3 people. Or just yourself if you're having a rough morning.

Monday, June 16, 2014

blueberry + vanilla sugar doughnuts

Doughnuts are the best. I cannot find much wrong with sugary, fried, dough.  My husband claims to "not like them" but he's a huge liar because he ate five of these in under ten minutes.. One of his first jobs after arriving in America was working the first shift at Dunkin' Donuts. I think he only lasted a week and developed a supposed aversion to doughnuts/donuts.

Making fried doughnuts can be a bit messy and time consuming, but it is worth it. A fresh, homemade doughnut is such a treat. I recommend not thinking about the future messy kitchen (or cellulite) and just going for it.

blueberry + vanilla sugar doughnuts (makes about two dozen)
-2 cups all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 medium, over ripe banana (mashed)
-1/4 cup milk
-1 cup fresh blueberries
-3/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for the vanilla sugar coating)
-canola or vegetable oil for frying (3-4 cups is plenty)

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well combined - about a minute. Add in the egg and mix for another minute. Finally, add in the banana, vanilla extract, and milk and mix until well combined.
3. Next add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is incorporated. Last, fold in the blueberries. This dough is sticky, so it's helpful to refrigerate it for a few hours before frying.
4. While the dough is in the refrigerator, make the vanilla sugar by mixing a teaspoon of vanilla extract with 3/4 cup white sugar. If you have a vanilla bean, use this instead for a better vanilla flavor. Simply scrape out the inside of the bean and toss with the sugar.
5. After refrigerating the dough for a few hours, flour a work surface. I rolled my dough out on floured parchment paper because I find this helpful for flipping the dough over. Also, the parchment paper helps to cut down on the amount of flour you will have to use.
6. Roll out about a third of the dough at a time and cut with a round cookie or biscuit cutter. If you don't have one of these, use the top of a glass or round lid. The circle I made was about 3" wide. Once you have the circles cut out, cut out the middle with a smaller circle. I used the lid from a bottle of olive oil for the hole of the doughnut.

7. While you are rolling and cutting, have the oil heating over medium-high heat. Use a large pot and allow the oil to heat until small bubbles form along the sides of the pot. You can throw in a small piece of scrap dough to test the heat. The oil will be hot enough when the dough quickly rises to the top. Roll out all the dough (combining the scraps once you have cut the circles) and set the doughnuts aside. If you don't have room to lay out all the cut doughnuts before frying, you can roll, cut, fry, repeat - this is what I did.
8. Before frying the doughnuts, it is helpful to set up each "station." Next to the pot of oil, set a plate lined with paper towels. Next to the plate, put the dish of vanilla sugar (a shallow dish is best for this). Next to that, put a clean plate for the finished product.
9. Begin frying the doughnuts. I cooked three at a time by gently placing them in the hot oil and flipping (with a flat wooden spoon) after about a minute.

10. The doughnuts cook fairly quickly. Each one should take less than two minutes. After removing them from the oil, place on the paper towel lined plate in order to soak up some of the excess oil. While they are still hot, place them on the vanilla sugar plate and coat them with the vanilla sugar. When I finished with all the doughnuts, I fried the doughnut holes. So delicious!

In order to make this recipe go as smoothly as possible, prepare! Once the doughnuts are frying you will need to work fast. 

If blueberries aren't your thing, try substituting strawberries or raspberries or fresh, diced peaches. Yum, peach doughnuts sound pretty amazing - I think that might be my next doughnut project ;).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

chicago - lincoln park zoo

I am heading to Chicago next week for the Renegade Mini Market, so I decided it was high time I got around to posting the photos from my last trip.

Last time I was in Chicago (visiting my sister, bro-in-law, niece, and nephew) we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I had never been there before and it was really fun. It's a small-ish zoo, free, and has great views of the city.  Also, in the middle of the zoo, there is this cute little farm. It reminded me of the Fisher Price Little People farm brought to life. 

If you ever find yourself in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo is worth a visit!

Until next week Chicago......

Monday, May 19, 2014

ten things to do in Ireland

Last week I returned from my 11th trip to Ireland. I have been there enough to have a list of dos and don'ts and favorites. Although a majority of my time visiting is spent seeing my husband's family and friends we always make an effort to get out and do a little something touristy. It is the one major vacation we take every year so we like to make the most of it.

I will admit, about 90% of my time in Ireland has been spent in County Kerry. I have never been to Northern Ireland. I haven't been north of Galway...so my list is a little incomplete. As we visit new places throughout the country I am sure some of my ten things will change but for now, these are my "must-dos" if you ever find yourself in Ireland.

1. Dublin - It's the big city. Your plane will probably land there. We have spent a few days in the city before and after flights. There are amazing restaurants, there are fun bars, and there are a million places to shop. It's a big city so the normal big city things apply.

If you find yourself in Dublin....

...go to Kilmainham Gaol. It's a jail and has a great little museum where you can learn all about the Irish fight for independence, the civil war, and more. The tour is fantastic but cold! So wear a coat.
...Ride a bus - sounds stupid but they're cheap and you can sit upstairs and ride around the entire city. It's an inexpensive way to see the city.

....Shop at Avoca - it's the Irish equivalent of Anthro and has a wonderful little cafe on the top floor.

....Eat at The Rustic Stone - seasonal ingredients, great salads, and one of the best burgers I have ever had, which is saying a lot because I eat a lot of burgers.

...Shop at The Loft Market - it's a great collection of Irish designers and vintage sellers. It's like Irish Etsy brought to life. And don't think you are going to see shamrocks and wooly sweaters. That stuff is only in the touristy shops.

2. Hold a lamb! I know there are things like foot and mouth disease or whatever but they are the fluffiest, softest, cutest things ever. If you get the chance, hold one.

3. The English Market - It's a food market in Cork and such an experience. I love food so much and this is one of my favorite places we have visited in Ireland. I have only been there once and am always asking to go back. Maybe next time ;).

4. Drink Guinness - it's better in Ireland, that's just a fact.

5. Drive The Ring of Kerry - The views and photo opportunities are worth it. If it's sunny, there's nothing like it.

6. Dingle - a great little town on the water in Kerry. It's fairly touristy but this can be a good thing. Ireland has had some major economic issues so the places that see more people tend to have a huge selection of pubs, restaurants, hotels, etc. 

If you find yourself in Dingle....
....go to Murphy's Ice Cream. It's the BEST.

....check out the Dingle Brewing Company. It's relatively new (we just discovered it last year), the beer is really good, and their business model is inspiring. The country could use more businesses like this one.
....look for Fungie - a dolphin that lives in the Dingle Bay. You can take a boat trip out for a chance to spot him. I have never seen him....one day!

7. Galway - this is one of my favorite cities in Ireland. It's a big-ish city - not as big as Dublin but big enough to have something for everyone. It's considered an "artsy" place and I always have fun when I am there. 

If you find yourself in Galway.....
....eat at Ard Bia - a cafe with lots of healthy options that is set in a beautiful and cozy old building right by the water.

....eat at Martine's - expensive and kind of fancy but you will eat the best steak of your life here. Just a note, the Irish tend to order their steaks well done or medium-well. In America, I usually get medium-rare. In Ireland, I order rare and it comes out medium or medium-rare.

...buy a Claddagh ring - the original one came from Galway City

...listen to traditional music - Galway has some of the best pubs for music if this is your thing.

8. Eat lamb and chicken and beef and eggs and cheese. If you're a vegan...not sure what to tell you. Irish beef and lamb is the best in the world. The beef is all grass fed and you can taste the difference. The dairy is also amazing. I am not a huge fan of lamb but lamb in Ireland? SO good. Same goes with chicken. I pretty much never eat chicken at an average America restaurant but in Ireland, it's different. It tastes like chicken.

9. Watch a Gaelic Football game - it's the country's national sport and it's a fun, fast moving game. It is also a really big deal in Kerry. My husband is obsessed. 

10. Talk to people. I am not friendly in general but Irish people are really friendly, which makes it easy. A bartender or cab driver might be all chat and it's fun to listen to what they have to say. Ireland is a very hospitable country and they are good to their visitors.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

healthy pad thai

Whenever I get back from vacation, I have to reacquaint myself with healthy eating. I always go a bit overboard when I am traveling so I decided to jump right back in to my (mostly) Whole 30 eating. I was on the Whole 30 path before we left for Ireland and felt amazing. Four days back and I have been good about 90% of the time. 

I created this pad thai recipe based on a few different ones I found while searching Pinterest. I used zucchini and carrots for the noodles and made a simple peanut sauce that is delicious. I didn't have any chicken at home when I made this and kind of regretted it. I think this dish would be perfect with chicken. Or shrimp, if you're a seafood eater.

healthy pad thai (serves about 5)
-2 zucchinis - cut into "noodles" with a cheese grater
-1 large carrot - peeled into strips
-1 medium onion - thinly sliced
-2 cups thinly sliced kale
-a few radishes - thinly sliced
-a cup or two of bean shoots
-a small handful of cilantro - chopped
-3 eggs - whisked
-1/2 cup chopped peanuts

-1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
-2 teaspoons red curry paste (if you don't have this or don't want to buy it, try a tiny bit of red pepper flakes for spice)
-1 tablespoon fresh ginger (or use a teaspoon ground - but fresh is SO good!)
-1 tablespoon soy sauce
-the juice from three small limes
-1/2 cup light canned coconut milk

1. Make the "noodles." I used a cheese grater for the zucchini and a peeler for the carrot. The cheese grater is a quick option - just make sure to drag the zucchini all the way down the grater top get longer pieces. Put the veggie noodles in a bowl and toss in the radishes, bean shoots, and cilantro.
2. In a large pan, saute the kale and onions until soft. Add in the whisked eggs and scramble them with the kale and onions.  Once the eggs are cooked (this will happen very quickly) transfer the mixture to the veggie noodles. 
3. To make the sauce, just add all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth. 
4. Pour the sauce over the veggies and toss to combine. Top the dish with the chopped peanuts and serve. This dish will last about two days in the refrigerator.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ireland - take eleven

I am afraid I am turning into one of those bloggers who starts every post with "Sorry....I haven't blogged in forever!" I guess I am not really "sorry" because I doubt anyone is counting on my blog posts but this blog is something I want to continue and I get annoyed with myself for not finding the time to post.

Today, I am back from a two week vacation to Ireland and Chicago. It was such a great time. This was my 11th trip to Ireland (can we go anywhere else?? ;)) and one of the best I have experienced in several years. I am thinking thinking spring is the time to go.

The weather was perfect the first half of the trip - low to mid 60s, sunny, and minimal rain. The final few days in Ireland it did get chilly (low to mid 50s) but for the most part the rain stayed away and we were able to get out and do a lot.

No one ever goes to Ireland for the weather but, I have been there in the cold, dark, rainy days and I much prefer a sunny intermittently rainy Ireland. The rain, after all, is a necessity to keep the place looking so green.

In addition to the nice weather, Spring is not peak season so everything is a little less expensive and a little less crowded.

the highest mountain peak in Ireland in the distance
a little friend we met near the beach
the gap of dunloe 
the sun fighting through the clouds
Neil - taking selfies
Neil - being a goof ;)
gorgeous Rossbeigh beach
quiet road

I will be back later this week with a few more photos + a few of my Ireland travel recommendations.

Have a great Monday!

Monday, April 14, 2014

dark chocolate sea salt caramel cookies

I went almost two weeks with NO sugar in my life (besides fruit). For a sugar-aholic like me, that was really hard. My original idea was to last the entire month of April but I am heading to Florida this week to visit friends and then Ireland the week after that. I like to enjoy my vacations and enjoy = indulge in my mind.

For the past two weeks, I cut out sugar, most dairy, grains, and alcohol. I pretty much only ate fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, beans, olives, and nuts. The plan I kind of followed is called Whole 30. I adjusted it here and there by putting a tiny sprinkle of goat cheese on my salads and eating some beans and dried fruit.

Other than that, I did really well and after two days I stopped craving ALL THE FOODS all day long. 

My favorite thing about the Whole 30 concept is that you just eat real food all the time. I don't know if I lost much weight but I felt amazing. I was waking up every day at 6am, wide awake and ready to go.

After two weeks, I was ready to treat myself so I made chocolate sea salt caramel cookies. I also made myself sick with over eating but it was worth it :). 

The cookies are amazing. I used the same base recipe as my favorite cookies and cream cookies and added in chopped dark chocolate and tiny pieces of Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel caramels, which added a nice, salty touch. If you can't find these caramels, any caramels will work and you can sprinkle the cookies with a tiny bit of sea salt to achieve the salty/sweet flavor.

dark chocolate sea salt caramel cookies (makes about 3 dozen)
-2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup butter (softened or left at room temp for a few hours)
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 large egg whites
-1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (I used 1/3 of a bar of 72% cacao dark chocolate but any type of chocolate or chocolate chips will work)

-about 8 caramel candies, chopped into small pieces (I used Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel caramels but any kind will work)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

3. Put sugars and butter in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined.  Add vanilla extract and egg whites and beat for another minute.  Add flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Lastly, mix in the chocolate.
4. Roll the dough into balls about 1"-1 /2" in diameter and press a small piece of caramel into the center. Put the cookies on baking sheets that have been 
lined with parchment paper (or coated with non-stick spray).  
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on pans for two minutes and then transfer them to wire racks or a plate in order to cool completely.  

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