January Inspiration

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This past weekend I was lucky enough to have my best friend and cousin Sophie in LA. We are both complete foodies so the weekend revolved around going to new places that we’ve been wanting to check out in LA. Not only did we check off three restaurants on my “to go” list, but she helped me add some decor to my bedroom (she’s an expert and has a great eye).

Our weekend started off by going to a fun Venice restaurant called Gjelina for dinner and much needed catch up time. We ordered several dishes to share and one stood out as the absolute best: the meatball appetizer. The meatballs came in a delicious tomato sauce with some toasted bread to accompany it. It is a must- get if you are going to Gjelina.

New Wall Decor

New Wall Decor

The next day, Sophie helped me add some fun decorations in my room. She is an absolute genius when it comes to home decorating (check it out on her blog).

After a morning of decorating we indulged in some tea and macaroons from Bottega Louie. Sophie is staying in downtown LA so I knew this was my chance to try a few restaurants that I haven’t had the time to try downtown. Bottega Louie is one of them, so of course we had to stop by during her visit!

Macaroons and Tea from Bottega Louie

Macaroons and Tea from Bottega Louie

That evening we went to Baco Mercat, which is also downtown. It is in a really cool building and the restaurant has a very laid back, fun vibe. We loved the slow cooked lamb and cous cous dish.

Baco Mercat- courtesy of their website

Baco Mercat- courtesy of their website

To top off this incredibly great weekend, a few friends and I were able to attend my favorite bloggers garage sale, Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere. It was so fun look through the sale and seeing her style from the blog come alive. We also snagged a picture!

Meeting Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere

Meeting Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere

I wish all weekends could be like this one! After trying all these renowned LA restaurants, experiencing Sophie’s artistic eye and meeting my favorite blogger, I am filled with inspiration and cannot wait to try some new recipes and DIY projects this week.

Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Tomato Sauce & Turkey Meatballs

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Pasta is one of my favorite treats so I’m not going to lie to you and say spaghetti squash is an equivalent substitute. It’s kind of crunchy and doesn’t have much flavor, but when you add my homemade tomato sauce and turkey meatballs it tastes a lot more like a pasta dish.

I’ve posted about the tomato sauce before, click here to get the recipe. (Also, this sauce is amazing on quinoa- try it!)

Turkey Meatball Ingredients

Turkey Meatball Ingredients

What You’ll Need:

1 Spaghetti Squash

Olive Oil

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 cup mozzarella

1/3 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

Salt and pepper

Ingredients for Tomato Sauce

What to do: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Poke holes all around the spaghetti squash with a knife or fork. Place in oven for an hour.

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Meanwhile, make the turkey meatballs. Mix the ground turkey, mozzarella, bread crumbs, egg and salt and pepper into a bowl. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. When mixed, roll into small meatballs.

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Warm a pan over medium heat with olive oil. In batches, place the meatballs in the pan until they are crisp and browned all over. Place on a baking sheet. Once all the meatballs are on the baking sheet, put in the oven for about 10 minutes to fully cook.

When the spaghetti squash is done, let cool for a bit and then cut in half. I always cut them horizontally but was just told cutting vertically may be easier (give it a try!). Scrape out the seeds and then, with a fork, scrape the spaghetti squash out.

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Put the spaghetti squash, tomato sauce and turkey meatballs together and you got yourself a meal!

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Cauliflower Kale Soup

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Happy 2014! I, like many people, try to start off a new year with healthy eating (especially after the holidays). This is the perfect healthy soup to start with. Do not be turned off by the color- it is delicious! It’s incredibly creamy from the cauliflower and tastes like and indulgence but is really incredibly healthy. I just made a batch a few days ago and am eager to make my next one!

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What You’ll Need:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 cups (56 fl. oz./1.75 l) chicken or vegetable broth (I used vegetable)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with 2 tbs of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and put in the oven. Continue to check and stir. Take the cauliflower out when browned and crisp (about 20 minutes).

In a bowl, toss the kale with 1 tbs of olive oil and season with salt. Place on a baking sheet. Put in the oven until. Check and stir. Take kale out when it is crispy (around 10 minutes or less).

Crunchy Kale

Crunchy Kale

Over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, under tender (about 5- 8 minutes). Add the garlic and stirring constantly for about 1 minute.

Put broth in a medium- large soup pot. Add the cauliflower and the onion/ celery/ garlic mix to the broth and increase the heat to medium- high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium- low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the kale, increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Let the soup cool for a bit. In batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return soup to the pot and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

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Turkey & Spinach stuffed Acorn Squash

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What You’ll Need:

Acorn Squashes (However many you want- this recipe is for 2 squashes- 4 halves)

Butter

Salt, Pepper

1 cup Spinach

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 lb ground turkey

Parmesan

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What to Do: 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the acorn squashes in half and scrape out insides of the squash. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet. Put a tablespoon of butter in each of the acorn squashes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes.

While the acorn squash is baking, sautee the chopped onion and garlic. Add the spinach and set aside. Sautee the ground turkey until fully cooked. Set aside.

When the acorn squashes are fully cooked, stuff with the ground turkey and sauteed spinach. Put oven on broil. Sprinkle parmesan on top and put the squashes back in the oven under broil for two to three minutes (or until the parmesan is crispy).

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Roasted Vegetable Pizza on a Cauliflower Crust

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This cauliflower crust is UNREAL. I honestly couldn’t believe how much it tasted like real pizza crust. And it surprisingly didn’t take too much time. You need to try this if you’re a pizza fan!

Ingredients

Ingredients

What You’ll Need:

1/2 head of cauliflower (about 2 cups, riced)
1 egg, beaten
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Pizza sauce
Toppings of choice (I used Broccoli, Peppers and onions- and one with chicken)
Grated parmesan cheese

Pizza Toppings

Pizza Toppings

What To Do:

1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F.

2. Rice your cauliflower. Do this by removing the stems from the cauliflower and cut into chunks. Place cauliflower into food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture of rice.

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3. Microwave the riced cauliflower in an uncovered in a microwave safe bowl for approximately 8 minutes.

4. Combine the cooked cauliflower, egg, garlic, cheese and seasonings. Stir until well- combined.

5. Spread the cauliflower mixture out onto a pizza pan in the shape of a pizza crust.

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6. Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden and crispy.

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7. Remove crust from the oven and add pizza sauce, desired toppings and parmesan cheese. I added additional shredded cheese, as well.

8. Bake the pizza for 4-5 minutes. You can broil the pizza to make sure the cheese all melts.

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Five Holiday Gifts for Foodies (Under $25)

It’s always hard figuring out little yet meaningful gifts to give (especially when you’re on a tight budget). I’ve put together a list of five “gifts for foodies” that are inexpensive and easy to make and/ or purchase.

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1. “Yes, Chef” by Marcus Samuelsson

I read this book over summer and absolutely loved it. Marcus Samuelsson has had an incredible life in and out of the kitchen. The memoir weaves together food descriptions and life stories- any foodie would love this.

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2. Tuscan Herb Salt

A few months ago I posted the recipe for Tuscan Herb Salt. It has been a great gift and I use it all the time to season vegetables and chicken. It’s an easy, DIY gift that people love!

hamiltonblender

3. Hamilton Beach Blender

The Hamilton Beach Blender is one of my all time favorite kitchen items. It also happens to be the cheapest item in my kitchen! I use it daily to make smoothies and it works like a charm. Great for any health- nut friend or family member who doesn’t yet have a smoothie maker.

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4. Gingerbread Cookie Kit

I found this on Pinterest and couldn’t resist. This is a very cute pre- holiday gift that is great for families to make together. All you need to do is buy a mason jar, the ingredients to your favorite gingerbread cookie and a gingerbread cookie cutter!

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5. DIY Infused Olive Oil

Also found on Pinterest are these infused olive oils and I’m dying to try them. The recipes include chili, rosemary, lemon and garlic infused olive oils. Buy some olive oil, herbs and bottles (can easily be found at Michaels for very low prices).

30 Minute “Kick My Butt Back Into Shape” Run

Treadmill

The last couple weeks I haven’t been in my usual workout routine and I needed something to kick my butt and get me back into shape, hence the name of this workout! I love treadmill workouts because I have control over the pace and the intensity (I’m a bit of a control freak). Here is my “kick my butt back into shape” run workout. If this run is too easy or too hard, see below the run for modifications.

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Modification: If this run is too difficult or easy, add or take away 0.3- 0.5 of the speed.

Flake

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If you’re in LA, you need to check out Rose Ave. There are a few blocks that have some of my absolute favorite restaurants and bars in LA (aka Superba, Oscar’s Cervateca, Venice Beach Wine Bar and Flake). Unlike the other three listed, Flake is a very down- to- earth, casual breakfast place. It has that quintessential cool, Venice Beach feel. Here are a few snapshots from my experience there…

Counter

Counter

At Flake, you are greeted with a friendly hello and a retro counter to order at. Their prices are VERY reasonable and their food is classic and delicious- perfect for anyone on a budget.

Pretty Latte

Pretty Latte

Acai Bowl

Acai Bowl

I ordered a nonfat latte and an Acai Bowl. This was by far one of the best Acai Bowls I’ve ever had- the granola was crunchy and the acai wasn’t too soft and didn’t melt and turn into a soup. Plus, the huge serving of fruit on top was amazing.

Turkey Breakfast Bagel

Turkey Breakfast Bagel

Inside of the Breakfast Bagel

Inside of the Breakfast Bagel

My boyfriend ordered a breakfast bagel– and I snagged a bite. It was delicious. Anything with avocado is automatically ok in my book.

Surfboard Interior Decoration

Surfboard Interior Decoration

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You have to try Flake on a lazy Sunday morning- then maybe head over to Abbot Kinney for a little window shopping after 🙂

Avocado Egg Salad

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Disclaimer: the egg salad tastes better than it looks.

Since I was young, egg salad has always one of my favorite types of sandwiches. Unfortunately, all that mayo isn’t so good for you so I’ve tried a new, healthier version of the classic egg salad.

This makes a perfect 1 person serving so make sure to double/ triple if you’re making this for more than one.

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What You’ll Need:

1 Ripe Avocado

2 Hard Boiled Eggs

1 Tbsp Greek Yogurt

1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 Tbsp Lemon

Salt & Pepper, to taste

What to Do:

Mix the greek yogurt, dijon mustard and lemon in a medium bowl. After mixed together, add the avocado and eggs. Once all ingredients are mashed together, salt and pepper to taste.

Either put on a salad or have a good old fashioned egg salad sandwich.

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Dark Chocolate Chip, Hazelnut & Sea Salt Cookies

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This is one of my not- so- healthy treats. But my mantra is: if it’s homemade, it’s worth eating. Plus, I’m giving them as a gift so I only ate a few 🙂  These cookies are so yummy- the combination of warm chocolate chips and hazelnut give it a Nutella taste. They are so delicious- you have to try them!

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Big Hunk of Cookie Dough

Big Hunk of Cookie Dough

What You’ll Need:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, half coarsely chopped and half finely chopped
  • sea salt
What to do: 
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, beat the softened butter and sugars together with an electric handheld mixer or KitchenAid until the mixture is light and fluffy (about a few minutes).
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to incorporate for about 1 minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Dump the mixture all at once into the butter/sugar mixture and mix until everything is thoroughly combined. (I started with the handheld mixer and then moved to mixing with a rubber spatula at this point.)
  5. Add the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well.
  6. Scoop a heaping tablespoon full of dough onto the baking sheet. Repeat until the sheet is full (about 5-6 cookies). Make sure the dough is rounded so it bakes nicely and leave about 2 inches between each ball of dough. Then sprinkle each ball of dough with a little bit of sea salt.
  7. Bake for 18-22 minutes. The cookies are ready when they start to get golden brown on the edges.
  8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Note: Check the cookies after 15 minutes- depending on how big the cookies are, they could be done.

Finished Product

Finished Product