07 July 2013

Morning Quinoa

If you're a regular reader, you know that I am always trying to get fit. I'll do good for a little while, lose a couple pounds, and then something will happen and I'll get out of my routine and gain those pounds right back. Something happened in the past couple days that has inspired me to get fit (once again) and this time, I'm determined to stick to a plan. Part of my plan is to be vegan before dinner. (This was also one of my 25 before 26 goals that I have failed to keep up with.) This morning I made breakfast quinoa, which is a fantastic vegan breakfast option.

1 part uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 parts non-dairy milk alternative (I like unsweetened almond milk)

Optional Add-ins
1 Tbsp chia seeds (if you use these add an extra liquid, as chia seeds absorb liquids)
Dried fruit
1/2 banana, mashed
Honey, agave nectar, or other sweetener

Combine quinoa and "milk" in small saucepan (and other optional ingredients). Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.

If you're using fresh blueberries, add in when almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. I like to add the nuts at the very end. All other ingredients can be thrown in at the beginning.

30 June 2013

Links for Sharing

Tomorrow is July! This year is just flying by.

A beautiful Etsy jewelry shop.

A fantastic article about the value of learning the humanities, with a focus on the English major, and a response to this article, that gives me (as an English major) hope.

Obsessed with this song.

A few cute summer party ideas!

S'more Pie Pops. Must try.

A DIY tie-dye tank that looks easy enough and super cute!

Shrimp recipes to try: one and two.

Summer Wish List: all of these shorts.

31 May 2013

Simple Summer Goals

Lately, I've been feeling a little lost and lonely. In the absence of a specific life or career goal to work towards, I decided I need to focus on bettering myself in little ways. I was inspired by Elsie over at A Beautiful Mess, to come up with four simple goals to create small but effective changes to encourage a richer and happier life.

1. Find new ways to be active. To start, I'm going to my first yoga class tomorrow, and I plan on trying rock climbing soon! If these activities can take place outdoors - even better!

2. Utilize my creativity. This includes using my poor neglected sewing machine, and calling the lady I met at the wine festival who said she would teach me how to make jewelry.

3. Learn to grill and cook a live lobster. Ok, this is really two separate goals, but they're both cooking oriented. We have a nice grill and a really great patio for hosting bbqs, and I need to take advantage of that during these summer months. 

4. Eat less meat and dairy. A friend of mine went vegan for about three weeks, and she said she really noticed a different in her mood and body. Now she's vegetarian (who can live without cheese?!), but she wants to go back to vegan eventually, or alternate vegan and vegetarian months. 

Do you have any summertime goals?

30 April 2013

Semi-homemade: Birthday Cakes

We have a lot of great cooks in my family, but whenever something sweet is called for at a family gathering, it usually falls to me, which I love.

For my grandpa's 75th birthday party, he requested that I make the cake, saying that the cake I made for Easter was the best cake he had ever had (he says that about everything I make). Since I'm kind of lazy, I decided to dress up a box of cake mix, rather than make the whole cake from scratch, and I must say, it was as delicious as a homemade cake.

I started with a box of Duncan Hines devil's food cake mix. I chose devil's food because it's richer and darker than other chocolate cakes. I made the cake according to the directions, except instead of the cup of water it asked for I substituted 1/2 cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of buttermilk. I baked them in two 9-inch pans. I used my standard buttercream recipe and added 3-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder and a couple big spoonfuls of peanut butter to make a fantastic chocolate peanut butter frosting. The cake was a hit! (There wasn't even any leftover.) My cousin Dominic then asked if I would make his birthday cake.

Dominic said his favorite cake was strawberry, so I picked up a box of strawberry cake mix and mixed it according to the directions and added a teaspoon of almond extract for extra flavor. I made two 9-inch round cakes again, and used strawberry preserves instead of icing for the middle layer. I used the same buttercream recipe, but left it plain vanilla and dyed it blue, to make the pink cake less girly. Unfortunately, I dropped the cake while I was frosting it (the cake was fine, the plate protected it from the floor), and it didn't end up being so pretty, so I don't have a picture of it. It was tasty though!

08 April 2013

Happy Rex Manning Day!

What is Rex Manning Day, you ask? Well, one of my all-time favorite movies, Empire Records, takes place on Rex Manning Day. See the movie is about this record store that is selling out to some gross corporate chain and the ever so loyal, lovable, and quirky employees try to prevent this from happening. Rex Manning is a washed out, has been pop star who is signing records in the store on this epic day. Everyone hates Rex, except for Cory, who plans on losing her virginity to him, but doesn't end up going through with it (thank goodness!). So there it is. Happy Rex Manning Day, and if you haven't seen Empire Records, I highly recommend you do so! Cheers!

Totally gross, right? And hilarious.

As you can see on the Rex Manning Day poster on the shop door, Rex Manning Day is clearly April 8.

03 April 2013

Breakfast "Pizza"

It's no secret that I love avocados. I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate avocado into my meals, and when I saw this recipe, I had to try it. I was not disappointed! This breakfast pizza utilizes a pita for the crust, mashed avocado base, topped with a fried egg and garnished with crumbled bacon and cheese, if you like. I used center cut bacon and goat cheese, but it would be good even without them. The whole thing came in at about 400 calories, which is more than a typical breakfast for me, but still in the healthy range.

24 March 2013

Eatin' Healthy: Breakfast Edition

Can we talk about one of my favorite subjects? Food, obviously! I love eating and am always planning my next meal in my head. As I'm eating breakfast, I'm already thinking about what I'm going to eat for lunch. Lately, I've been trying to plan healthy meals and snacks. Sometimes I deviate from my food plan and sneak in too many unhealthy snacks (Girl Scout cookies, ugh), but I'm working on it. Here are a few of the delicious meals I've been eating for breakfast lately.

Spinach, tomato and avocado omelet
I usually use one whole egg plus one or two egg whites when I make omelets. First, I whip the eggs, spinach, tomatoes, and whatever spices together in a bowl while I heat a small pan over medium/medium low heat. Spray the pan with pam before adding the egg mixture. Be patient while you wait for the omelet to settle - it takes a while. After it's almost completely set, flip the omelet over. Sprinkle cheese on half if you feel so inclined, and fold in half. Remove from heat  and carefully open up omelet to add avocado slices (I think I use about 1/4 of an avocado). You could add the tomatoes (or  broccoli, asparagus, etc) to the omelet at the same time as you add the cheese, if you prefer. 

Green Smoothie
I use 1/2 cup almond milk or coconut water, one banana, 1 cup mixed frozen fruits, and 1/2 cup spinach. We have what might possibly be the worst blender ever, and it takes forever to blend, but it's worth it. I'm thinking about buying chia seeds to add to my smoothies. Chia seeds are a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and are supposed to give you energy, which I can always use more of in the early mornings on my way to school.

Scrambled egg on toast
I found this fantastic bread that I've been eating lately. It's organic, and the company strives to utilize sustainable practices. And, it tastes great! Here, I topped it with two tablespoons of goat cheese and one scrambled egg, which I ate with a few halved cherry tomatoes. After I took the picture I added plenty of pepper, too.

09 March 2013

Going Bananas

I used to eat bananas all the time. Ok, not all the time, but a lot. When I was living in Chicago I made a smoothie almost every morning for breakfast, and the best smoothies always include a banana. Also, the darling girl I babysat loved bananas and they always had a bunch at their house, so I usually ended up sharing one with her for lunch. So when I got here (to Los Lunas) I immediately bought a bunch of frozen fruit and bananas to make smoothies with, and in the past three months I've made a total of one (1) smoothie. I just haven't been in the mood. Luckily, the fruit is frozen and will hold until the summer months when I will (probably) begin craving smoothies again. I have, however, continued to buy bunches of bananas, even though I have yet to finish an entire bunch before they get too ripe and brown. 

All of this is to say that I have quite a few overripe bananas chillin in my freezer, and last weekend I thought I should put them to use. I hadn't tried these recipes before, but they came out wonderfully, and I'll definitely make them again!

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

This bread was so fantastic, and I'll definitely make it again and again. I used coconut oil, which I melted in the microwave before dumping in the bowl. From the pictures, it looks like they made a bunch of tiny loaves, but I just made two small loaves (5.75 x 3 inch pans) and baked them for about 30 minutes. I think chopped walnuts would be a nice addition, or maybe walnuts in place of the chocolate chips, if you like your bread less sweet. 

Banana Cupcakes

I added 1/4 tsp of cinnamon (I love cinnamon) to the cupcake recipe, and used this yogurt because it was what I had on hand. Also, I used 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar, because I love the taste of brown sugar with bananas. I then made a honey cinnamon buttercream frosting, instead of the cream cheese one called for in the original recipe. They came out great! 

07 March 2013

Artist Love

The other day, while perusing one of my favorite design sites, I came across some prints by Neiko Art and I just fell in love. The illustrations are so sweet, and she even does custom wedding and family portraits! Here are a few of my favorites. 

My mom loves hedgehogs, and I guess that
 love got passed along to me,

So cute for a baby's room.


When I get my next cat I really want to get one done.

01 March 2013

Reinventing Leftovers

Do you like leftovers? There are certain foods that I love as leftovers, like spaghetti, enchiladas and stews. Typically, though, I get bored of foods after eating them once or twice. This is challenging because I hate wasting food and it's hard to cook for one or two people, when most recipes are meant for families.

The other day I made some wonderfully creamy risotto and a baby spinach/apple/walnut/gorgonzola salad with balsamic dressing. In an effort to vamp up my leftovers the next day, I made risotto cakes. I've never made them before, so I googled up some recipes, but didn't end up following any of them. I chose to form each patty out of a 1/2 cup of leftover risotto, and snuck a couple small chunks of pepper jack cheese in the center of each patty. I then dipped the cakes in egg, followed by panko bread crumbs, because that's what I had on hand. I heated up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and cooked the patties 2-4 minutes on each side, until they were nice and brown and crispy. Towards the end, I sauteed some spinach and garlic in a separate pan. Delicious! Next time I have leftover risotto I want to try these!

15 February 2013

Healthy Hair

I've been lusting after long hair for a long time. I've had a few setbacks, and it hasn't been easy! I've been dying and straightening my hair since about eighth grade, so needless to say, my hair is not the healthiest, which makes for slow growing. You might remember when I was in Chicago and got that awful mullet cut. Well, I thought I had evened it out, but come December, I still had this weird rat tail in the back, and my amazing hairdresser and I decided to just chop it short and start all over. 

I'd rather have a cute, short haircut, than have a half long, weird hairstyle. So by January, of course, I was bored already and decided to get bangs. At first I was unsure about them, but now I really like them! (Also, I get a lot of compliments, so that doesn't hurt.) 

And! I haven't dyed my hair in... months, now. And that's a long time for me. All this is to say that I'm focusing on getting my hair healthy (even though I'm still straightening it), which will, hopefully, in turn, lead to long hair eventually. So I bought a brush with boar bristles, as the plastic brushes with little balls on the ends of bristles supposedly cause quite a bit of hair loss. Also, I only wash my hair every two or three days. Here are some of the products I've been using in my quest for healthy hair.

Find it here
I finally invested in a heavy duty reparative conditioner. This conditioner contains keratin and argan oil, which are fantastic for reconstructing hair.

Sold in salons
My hairstylist recommended this stuff. You spray it in your damp hair before heat styling or swimming. It moisturizes, repairs damage, and prevents split ends, among other things.

Get it here
This spray goes on dry hair. It also protects from heat styling, while adding shine.

Found in drugstores, or  here
I use this after styling to tame my frizz. It truly is amazing, and makes damaged hair appear healthy.

Sold at Trader Joe's
After reading about the numerous benefits of coconut oil, I finally decided to try some. While coconut oil does not make your hair grow, it is an excellent moisturizer, which helps prevent breakage, which promotes hair growth. The oil is also good for your scalp, and a healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair. Here is a good video showing how to use coconut oil for healthy hair. 

P.S. I'm currently doing this, and my uncle just walked in and asked why there was a bag on my head. It's saran wrap, hello

*Make sure you wash and rinse your hair very well. I washed it twice, but my hair still felt a bit greasy in some spots, which is normal, after any deep conditioning treatment, but you don't want to go out with white flecks in your mane.

02 February 2013

Photo a Day: January

The view from here
Something that starts with "T"
1 o'clock
An ordinary moment
Two things
(I forgot Shadow, 1-18-13)
Something you saw
What you do