Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garbanzo Bean Avocado Salad


Lately, I've been really into making summer salads to complement our simple summer dinners (which seem to be grilled fish half the time). A couple weeks ago, I used black beans to make a hearty side salad and this week I'm using garbanzo beans. The avocado and nectarine add so much depth to this dish and, simply put, you just can't beat how easily this comes together.

Garbanzo Bean Avocado Salad
Yield: about 3 hearty servings
Total Time: about 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch chunks
1 nectarine, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch chunks
10-12 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons lime juice
Dash oregano
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients together. Serve and enjoy.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wanderlust: Jamaica








Jamaica. It's an island nation nestled in the Caribbean Sea, but there seems to be more to this country than just beautiful beaches and crystal-clear water. Jamaica has some deep-rooted culture and historical influence. While I hear the beaches are amazing, Jamaica is also home to one of my favorite musical movements: Reggae. I've always been a fan of the laid-back feel-good vibe that reggae music brings, but I also respect it for the message of peace and strength that it exudes. I would love to travel to Jamaica and (of course) relax on a warm, sandy beach, but also learn of the history and the culture there by listening to the hearts of the people.

Click on each photo to view source.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Smiles

I wish I had something more exciting for you guys, but this weekend, I've just been watching a lot of the Olympics. It's just so fun to watch. This week, I'll be playing in an annual 6-Man beach volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach. It's a competitive tournament with really great players, but there's a quirky thing about it: everyone dresses up in costume!

Here are some links from around the web this week that made me smile:

Whoa. This girl has cajones!

Legit French crepes.

Simple yet awesome ad.

Get outside.

Sometimes I wish I wore glasses.

Photo via.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Golden Nights

Pants: Jolt (purchased at Nordstrom Rack), Shirt: Caslon, Sweater: Hollister, Sandals: Billabong, Sunnies: Target, Belt: H&M

It's been a productive week and I'm so excited to start the weekend by watching the Opening Ceremonies tonight. I thought I'd get a jumpstart on the gymnastics events by going out to the nearest lifeguard tower and practicing my balance beam skills. What do you think? Gold, right? 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

And the winner is....

Congratulations, Stevie! You've won the FEST giveawayI'll be emailing you. 

My Favorite Pizza Dough



First things first: A quick reminder that today is the last day to enter the FEST giveaway and win two of my favorite wardrobe essentials. Click here to enter. A winner will be announced later tonight.

Now, onto this lovely pizza dough...

Being able to make a good pizza dough is, in my opinion, a critical step in becoming a successful home chef. While taste and texture are of utmost importance, it's incredibly helpful to find a pizza dough recipe that can be made in 30 minutes (including rising time). This way, you can literally make a pizza quicker than it takes the delivery guy to get to your door.

Homemade pizza is such a great tool to have in your arsenal. Not only is it a crowd pleaser, it's also a great way to use up leftover ingredients. Trying to get rid of your taco leftovers? Make a Mexican pizza. Have leftover chicken and corn? Make a barbecue pizza. Leftover Italian? You can always make the traditional Marinara. Really, the possibilities are endless.

My Favorite Pizza Dough
From: Just Cook Already
Yield: One large rectangle-shaped pizza or two small circle-shaped pizzas
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Rising Time: about 10 minutes
Baking Time: about 15 minutes
Total Time: about 30-35 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

3-3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Corn meal

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Stir very warm water and oil into dry ingredients. Stir in enough remaining flour (about 1/2 cup for me) to make dough soft. Knead on a lightly floured surface, or with an electric mixer and kneading attachment, for 4-6 minutes. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 10-20 minutes.

When you're ready to assemble your pizza, lightly oil your pizza pan and sprinkle it generously with corn meal. Roll dough to fit the pan, add your sauce and toppings, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of pizza and thickness of crust).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wanderlust: London (and some travel tips)





A little over a year ago, Bradford and I traveled to London (we stopped by Scotland too). With the Olympics just around the corner, I've been feeling a little nostalgic for this foggy, regal and historical city. There is so much to see and learn in London. It's hard to do it all, but it's fun to try. London can be expensive which detracts a lot of young people from going, but I have three tips to make your trip to London enjoyable and affordable:

  1. Splurge on one good meal, preferably high tea which is a quintessentially British tradition (I recommend Richoux). For the rest of your meals, buy "picnic" food from Pret A Manger or Marks & Spencer (they're on every corner) and dine in a nearby park or garden.
  2. No shopping. Resist the temptation to bring home a suitcase filled with clothes from London. Even discount stores like TK Maxx aren't a great deal. Instead, take an afternoon to "window-shop" at Harrods. You can marvel at the beautiful displays and plan your future home (you know, when you're a billionaire and can afford to shop at Harrods).
  3. Use the public bike system. Not only will you save money on alternate forms of transportation, you'll get to enjoy some endorphin-inducing exercise and see the city from a different perspective. 
All photos c/o FEST

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hello Yellow


Jeans: Citizens of Humanity, Shirt: Gap, Blazer: Hinge (purchased at Nordstrom), Sandals: Billabong, Scarf: purchased at Nordstrom Rack, Belt: H&M

Yesterday I got my hair cut and, if you can't tell, this picture was taken before the cut. As much as I love my hair most of the time, there are times when it just feels like a nuisance and all I want to do is cover it up. A scarf is the perfect way to do that. This yellow one is a bit longer which literally makes it feel like an extension of your hair (and you can't beat the bright color!).

PS.. Be sure check out my guest post today on A and B C the World. I'm sharing my Travel Tips & Tidbits.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nectarine Tart



Last month on a drive back to LA from Las Vegas, my husband agreed to stop at the Williams-Sonoma outlet in Primm, NV. I was in heaven. Among other things, I picked up this beautiful nonstick tart pan. While the pancake pen was a really cool purchase that I love, the tart pan made me feel legit. I may not have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer yet, but I have a tart pan!

I definitely don't subscribe to the theory that food has to look good to taste good but, boy, it sure doesn't hurt. And anything made in a tart pan, be it a breakfast quiche or a fabulous dessert is likely to turn out looking pretty darn beautiful. Last Sunday, I couldn't contain my excitement for this new pan any longer so I christened it by making this divine nectarine creation. Not only did it look good, it tasted fabulous.

Nectarine Tart
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: one large tart (about 10 servings)
Total Time: about 1 hour, 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

{for the tart shell}

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

{for the pastry cream}

1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

{for the topping}

2-3 large nectarines, peeled pitted, and sliced thinly*

*Nectarines may be replaced with any other type of fruit you prefer: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.

DIRECTIONS:

Start by making the tart shell. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processer or a blender. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Whisk the egg and add it, a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. Once the egg is in, continue to process in about 10-second increments until the dough forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough onto a work surface and very lightly knead the dough just until all ingredients are incorporated. Press the dough evenly along the bottom and sides of tart pan. Pierce crust all over with a fork and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (preferably longer) before baking.

To bake the crust, center a rack in the oven and pre-heat it to 375 degrees. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden-brown. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool.

While the tart shell is baking, make the pastry cream. Bring the milk to a boil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Cover the pan, turn off heat and set aside for 10 minutes. In a heavy-bottomed medium sauce pan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn starch until thick and pale. Whisking all the while, slowly drizzle 1/4 of the milk into the mixture. Then, still whisking, pour the rest of the milk over the tempered yolks.

Put the pan over medium-high heat and, whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, continue whisking for about a minute. Then, remove the pan from heat and scrape into a clean bowl. Allow the pastry cream to cool for about 3 minutes. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the mixture until fully melted and incorporated. Whisk in vanilla extract.

Allow the cream to cool by either placing in a larger bowl with ice and water (stirring from time to time) or placing in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the cream to ensure an airtight seal.

Assemble the tart (the best part!). Once the pastry cream and tart shell is cool, you are ready for the best part, assembling the tart! Spread cream evenly into the tart shell and top with sliced nectarines.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Smiles

Today is going to be a great day. I have a bridal shower to attend in the morning, then I'm headed for the beach to watch the Hermosa Beach Open and hang out with friends and family. Happiness.

Here are some links from around the web that made me smile this week.

Currently loving this song (for all the LA lovers).

Harnessing the energy of teens for good.

Make your own lollipop!

I like this.

A collaboration of photos from Wednesday night's fabulous LA sunset.

Photo via.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wanderlust: Baja California









Let me help you get in the mood for this post. Start by playing this song. Ah, Mexico. I've never really been but I'd sure like to go. 

While that sentence is taken directly from the song linked above, it actually rings true for me. Technically, I've been to Mexico. I stopped there for a few hours while traveling on a cruise with my extended family. But, in my opinion, five hours is not enough to really experience a place. Having grown up in Southern California, I've heard so many great things about Baja California (mostly due to the great surfing there). While many Southern Californians frequent this part of Mexico, I am led to believe that there is still a lot of this area that is relatively untouched. When searching for gorgeous images of this place, I found a few too many amateur photos to think that commercialization has completely set off. This, of course, makes me want to travel there even more! 

How I would love to travel down to Baja California, swim in the warm water, hike through the canyons, relax with a good book and eat some actual authentic Mexican food.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Giveaway!

FEST has officially reached 250 followers and to celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway! I'll be giving away the scarf and sunglasses you see here (also featured in this post). They are both from H&M and are brand-new-never-been-worn, in case you were wondering. I always say, "When you have nothing to wear, just throw on your favorite sunnies and a scarf. It's the most fashionable combo that just about everyone owns." 

To enter, please do the following:

1. Like FEST on Facebook
2. Leave a comment with your name and email address

A winner will be announced next Thursday.

Update: This giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Stevie, our winner.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana French Toast


Last Saturday, I woke up hungry! I understand that most people wake up with an empty stomach and tend to eat something within the first hour of waking, but on this morning, for whatever reason, I felt famished. I needed to eat and I needed to eat something fast. Cereal was not going to cut it for me. I needed something heartier. So I came up with this divine creation. I'm sure you're familiar with french toast. I don't know why I never thought of this before, but if you add peanut butter and bananas to an already delicious french toast breakfast, well, my. You are in for a treat.

Peanut Butter Banana French Toast
Yield: 1 serving
Total Time: about 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 slices of hearty bread
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1 banana, sliced
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
Maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

Start by making the french toast. Head a griddle over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Meanwhile, whisk together egg, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large, shallow dish. Fully immerse the bread slices into the batter and transfer to heated griddle. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes and flip, cooking for another 2-3 minutes or until both sides are golden-brown.

Now for the step that takes this breakfast to the next level. Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter on a piece of cooked french toast. Top with half of the sliced bananas. Place a second french toast slice on top and repeat with the remaining peanut butter and banana slices. Finally, drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy a hearty, indulgent, delicious breakfast.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wanderlust: The Alps







I've always been more of a beach girl than a mountain girl, but lately I've been admiring large mountain ranges--they offer so much to explore and discover. The Alps have long intrigued me as a distant yet beautiful mountain range with quaint towns and localized culture scattered throughout their massive expanse. The Alps stretch across 8 different European countries (Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, France and Monaco) and each country adds its own unique culture. I've never visited the Alps, but I would love to take some time to hike through and discover its lakes, breathe its fresh air, meet its people, ski its steep slopes, and explore its beauty. 


(Click on each image to view the source.)