Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homemade Guacamole



The California Avocado Commission predicts that 26 million avocados will be consumed on Super Bowl Sunday, most in the form of guacamole. That's enough to cover an entire football field, endzone to endzone, 40 inches deep. Haha! That's such a hilarious picture to me!

Basically this stat means that there are a LOT of people in America and guacamole is good! People like it. So if you're looking for a crowd-pleasing dish to share with friends on Super Bowl Sunday, make guacamole! And if you don't already have a good guac recipe, feel free to use mine. (Bonus: it's incredibly simple.)

Homemade Guacamole
Yield: about 2 cups guacamole
Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper

(You will also need a large cutting board and a potato masher.)

DIRECTIONS:

Place avocados on cutting board. Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using a potato masher, mash the avocados until you reach desired consistency. (I like mine fairly chunky.) Spoon guacamole into a serving dish and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I've loved this quote for a long time--for its inspiring sentiment, its rebellious attitude, its beautiful use of words. I thought about laying this out in an interesting format, perhaps with a cool image of fireworks as the background, but then I realized that part of the beauty of this quote, and all quotes, is the picture it forms in your mind, which is something different for everyone. 

Has anyone read the book On the Road (from which this quote is from) or seen the movie

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hooded Denim


It turns out I'm a huge fan of olive cargo skinny pants and grey ankle boots in the winter. I find myself turning to this magic combination often these days. One thing I mentioned that I learned from my shopping fast is that it's okay to wear the same clothes over and over. Case in point.

Another style lesson for today? When in doubt, layer. Throwing on one of my old, ragged grey hoodies under this denim jacket took it to another dimension and I am pleased with the result.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Homemade Cough Remedy



It seems like every other person I talk to recently is sick, getting over being sick, or starting to feel sick. Tis the season for sickness, I suppose. Thus far this season (knock on wood), I've managed to stay healthy and I owe it in part to this homemade cough remedy. Two winters ago, I had a cold for what felt like 6 months. It was awful and it seemed like it was never going to go away. It pretty much became routine for me to start every morning with a cough drop in my mouth. But cough drops don't actually cure colds. They just temporarily soothe your throat until the next cough attack comes along.

About a year ago, I came across this cough remedy and decided to give it a whirl. WHOA!! First off, let me tell you, this "magic elixir", as I like to call it, is strong! It will make your eyes pop the first time you try it but I think that's the point. Just about immediately, you can start to feel this stuff working, soothing your throat and working to eliminate all the nastiness in there that causes those terrible cough attacks. The best part is that you likely already have these ingredients in your kitchen.

I recommend taking this at the earliest sign of a sore throat. Then, take it as needed to help your cough go away.

(Please note, these are only my recommendations based on my experience with no scientific studies to back me up. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be one.)

Homemade Cough Remedy
From Good Food Matters
Yield: about 5 tablespoons
Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon honey

DIRECTIONS:

Dissolve cayenne pepper and ginger in cider vinegar and water. Add honey and shake to mix well. Take one tablespoon* as needed for cough.

*Dosage is for adults.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wanderlust: Amsterdam








Lately, I've been crushing on Amsterdam. The cobblestone streets, canals, bicycles, tulips, the fashion, the colors, the chic hotels... is there anything this European city doesn't have? While I would prefer to visit the Netherlands in the spring so I could enjoy the beauty of the tulips, doesn't this photo of Amsterdam in the snow look dreamy?

Click each photo to view the source.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ballerina



There's something so great about flowy, knee-length skirt. And one that's light pink? What more could a girl ask for? Sometimes I like to channel my inner ballerina and this skirt does just the trick. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Touchdown Buffalo Chicken Pizza



I'm very excited to be sharing this recipe today because I'm just so happy about how delicious this turned out! As I was watching the NFC Championship game last Sunday, I was craving some tasty food, something like buffalo wings but less messy. So I started thinking about a buffalo chicken pizza. I love this pizza because it combines some pretty unique ingredients to create a masterpiece that just tastes so good. I originally made this for dinner, but I'd love to cut it into smaller pieces and serve it as an appetizer at a Super Bowl party. 

Touchdown Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Yield: one large pizza, about 4 servings
Total Time: about 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

1 batch pizza dough
1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped
3/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll out pizza dough onto the baking sheet. Spread buffalo sauce evenly onto the pizza dough. Sprinkle with chicken, bleu cheese, celery, tomatoes and green onions. Top with shredded mozzarella.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and crusted is slightly golden.

Cut into 8 slices to serve as a meal, or cut into 32 small pieces to serve as an appetizer. 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Buffalo Dipping Sauce

The Super Bowl is coming up! While I'm not a huge fan of NFL football (growing up in Los Angeles, I did not have a team to root for), I do look forward to the Super Bowl every year for it's pure display of true American culture. The halftime show spectacular, the rowdy fans, the over-indulgence of food, the competitive spirit. It really is a true American experience. Oh, and the advertising is fun to watch too. But perhaps my favorite part of watching football is the food that goes with it. Somewhere along the line, certain foods became synonymous with watching football: chips and guacamole, queso dips, and buffalo wings. They just go with football like England and tea. Well, I'm here to share with you one simple way to add to your American experience in a couple weeks: Buffalo Dipping Sauce.

This is a great sauce that's fairly mild but with loads of flavor. Serve with cooked chicken wings or use it to create an amazing buffalo chicken pizza. (Stay tuned for that recipe.)

Buffalo Dipping Sauce
From allrecipes.com
Yield: about 1 cup
Total Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons honey

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Weekender Bag

I love the idea of taking weekend getaways. On this blog, I often post about far-off destinations, but the truth is that with a full-time job and living in the United States where we've got two massive oceans separating us between Europe and Asia, it's difficult to make visiting those far-off destinations a reality. So, I'd love to start taking more weekend trips to local destinations. And what better way to pack for a weekend trip than with a great bag?

Some people say you are what you eat. While I whole-heartedly agree with this statement, I also think it can be said that you are what you carry. Learning to pack light was one of the greatest travel lessons I ever learned. Rolling luggage is great for longer trips that require more stuff (and heavier luggage), but a weekender bag is perfect for weekend getaways where packing light is much easier to accomplish. I also love the idea that you can carry a weekender bag across your shoulder, allowing you to easily climb a few flights of stairs or hop aboard a train quickly and smoothly.

I've put together a selection of several "weekender bags" that I think are not only functional, but look great! With a bag like this, you'll not only have everything you need, you'll look classy and smart while you travel. Scroll through the images below to take a look.

Do you have a "go-to" weekender bag that you use? If so, what does it look like and what do you love about it?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Menswear




There's nothing better on a cold day than your husband/boyfriend/brother/father's large, cozy sweater. Trust me, you won't want to take it off.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Breakfast Quinoa Cups



A few months ago, I bought a giant bag of quinoa. Excited about the super-nutritional value of this food, I brought it home and cooked up a batch, intending to eat it like rice. I quickly learned that quinoa on its own does not offer the same tasty satisfaction as rice on its own. To be honest, I hated it and was very disappointed. So for the next two months, the giant bag of quinoa sat on top of my fridge, untouched...until I did some deeper searching for quinoa recipes and realized that quinoa is DELICIOUS when mixed properly with other ingredients. 

Without further ado, I present quinoa for breakfast. This tasty breakfast is nutritious, delicious and can be made in advance for a quick breakfast on-the-go

Breakfast Quinoa Cups
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
Yield: 18 cups
Total Time: about 60 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Liberally spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and spoon filling into muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges of the cups are golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from tin. Serve with salsa and enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli

Roasted Broccoli
Total Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

Frozen or fresh broccoli florets, chopped
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread frozen or fresh broccoli florets on a baking tray and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until broccoli starts to brown.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wanderlust: New Zealand








Ah, New Zealand. 

My friends, if you are a fan of travel and food, you must become a follower of Marshalls Abroad. This blog has been one of my biggest inspirations as of late when it comes to both food and travel. Amanda (the writer) currently resides in Okinawa, Japan, which allows her and her husband to travel to nearby Asian and South Pacific locales. Each new place they travel to never fails to leave me swooning. But their latest adventures in New Zealand...wow. I had always heard good things about New Zealand, but it wasn't until seeing Amanda's amazing pictures that it has fast risen to the top of my travel list.

All pictures c/o Amanda Marshall.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wardrobe Essentials


Since I've completed my year-long shopping fast, a lot of people have asked me if I've been shopping yet. The answer is yes. And it felt so strange. Over the coming weeks, I hope to share some of my thoughts and observations on shopping and building a wardrobe (which is essentially what shopping is--building your wardrobe) as I am now experiencing it with a fresh perspective. 

My first observation is the importance of strong basics in a woman's wardrobe. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's okay (and actually really cool) to have a signature look. This is also a nice way of saying it's okay to wear the same thing day in and day out. 

I once read a quote by President Obama about getting dressed:
“You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” 
I'm not saying we should take all decision-making out of getting dressed every morning. That would be no fun and most of us don't need to save our brainpower to solve the world's problems. But I do think that having a strong set of basics in our wardrobe that fit us well can help us save time and money in those moments when we find ourselves staring at a closet full of clothes saying, "I have nothing to wear".

I've put together a collage of some of my favorite wardrobe essentials. And in case you're wondering what I've purchased since completing my shopping fast, take a closer look at #1, #2, #3, #7 and #8.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Caramel Apple Cider


Sometimes I have a hard time with winter weather. Christmas is wonderful and a great distraction from the cold temperatures but once the holiday hustle and bustle is over, I get easily bummed out. The cold, the darkness, the pale skin. I'm just not my best self in the winter. But this year, I'm trying something different. I'm going to drink as much hot chocolate and caramel apple cider as my little heart desires. Hot drinks do an amazing job of warming your whole body. So far, I've been able to avoid the winter blues and I'm hoping it stays this way. 

Caramel Apple Cider
Yield: about 6 cups of cider
Time: about 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
8 cups apple juice

DIRECTIONS:

Start making a simple syrup. Combine the brown sugar, water and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until brown sugar dissolves. (Be careful not to simmer for too long. You don't want the mixture to thicken.) Remove from heat and let cool. Combine apple juice with syrup in a large container, like a glass bottle or mason jar.

When ready to serve, shake mixture and pour into a mug. Heat in a microwave for about 1 and 1/2 minutes or until cider is warm enough to your liking. If you like, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

FEST is 1!

One year ago today, I hit "Publish" on my very first post for FEST. To celebrate my first "blog-iversary", I've put together a recap of some of my favorite posts from FEST's first year. Thanks so much for joining the journey!






{Sonic's Ocean Water}




Here's to another great year!!