Caprice & Intellect

Surprisingly my last post was on the first day of August, and today I’m posting on the last day of the month. I didn’t realize that much time had slipped in between. A lot of the reasoning for my lack of posting is that I’ve shifted focus (more on my studies at IIN), and I’ve also been more active leading me to do things that don’t take as long, i.e. writing a post. My writing style on this blog is very much compositional, and I don’t feel comfortable sharing something regurgitated or for the sake of posting. I have multiple drafts with ideas and pictures I want to elaborate on and structure into something that goes well together. For later.

But today… I’m not sure what to say, but I do want to say hello. I think for the past month I haven’t known what I want to share. I have pictures, but not much to say. Or is it too much to say, but don’t know where to start? Maybe that’s what happens when you are constantly giving your energy. Actually, here’s a word that’ll carry through this post…

Arrangement

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Accidental groceries arrangement

Collaborative arrangement

1. Grilled halloumi with fresh mint, chopped olives, lemon juice, and olive oil; 2. a salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, balsamic, and red onion; 3. a salad with radishes, apples, lavender, orange juice, and olive oil.

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Fresh strawberries filled with a raw vegan vanilla coconut cream

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Here’s a dose of what I’ve been up to for Perricone MD on the Daily Perricone.

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Giving Nature Credit

Hello everyone! So I survived the semester and I’m currently at the beach for the week with my ladies. First night was so much fun. I lost my Chat Roulette virginity. Let’s just say that we did our fair share if screaming in shock! I also may not be posting regularly since I’m at the beach and the day I get back is the day I fly to New York!

Anywho, there are a few beliefs I have and one of them is that I don’t think it should cost an arm and a leg to eat well. Especially when essentially most of the things I eat come straight from nature. I’d like to say that I eat well. When I say well I mean that I don’t sacrifice good taste just because something has nutritional value. Shots of wheat grass? No thank you. Maybe I’m a food snob, but I don’t care because I eat what I like and try new things as well. Sometimes I give things a second chance like my beloved brussels sprouts. And there are some things that I loved in my childhood that never get old. As a college student and a lover of food I’ve learned how to cook deliciously on a budget. I’ve learned that hummus is a cinch to make and usually ends up tasting better than what I get at the store–aside from Sabra’s miraculously creamy hummus. Some secrets are just too good to give out I guess. Oh well, I have a few of my own too!

I made my own creamy tomato sauce recipe!

And I am definitely sharing this one! Although I must warn you that the measurements aren’t precise because as usual when I cook, I just put in things by my taste. Mine turned out more like an arrabiata (spicy sauce) since I was generous with the black pepper. Oh! And it’s also vegan. Since I didn’t have any creamer on hand I opted to make a vegan alternative I’ve done many a time and have loved each time: cashew cream.

Vegan Creamy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

Canola oil for cooking

3/4 cup onion, finely diced

1 bay leaf

1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Sea salt

2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1 grated carrot stick

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

Sliced sun-dried tomatoes

A little less than 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice

1/3 cup cashew cream

Fresh ground black pepper

Dried sweet basil and tarragon

1. Heat pan first then canola oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bay leaf, pepper flakes, and salt and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until onion is soft and beginning to turn golden.

2. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high, add tomato sauce, grated carrot, dried basil, tarragon, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring often for about 2 minutes. Add can of crushed tomatoes and bring to the boil.

4. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, stirring often, until sauce reduces and is thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes.

5. When sauce has thickened, remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in the cashew cream, and cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Voila!

I served the sauce with sautéed garlic, yellow squash, onion, mushrooms, and cannellini beans over penne pasta.

Up next…

I also made another batch of granola!

Honey Cranberry-Almond Granola

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

1/4 cup chopped almonds

1/3 cup honey

1 1/2 tbl canola oil

1 tbl almond extract

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Shredded coconut

White chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the dried cranberries, shredded coconut, and white chocolate chips.

3. Spread out the granola on a nonstick baking sheet.

4. Bake the granola for about 30 minutes, stirring every 8 minutes or so. Halfway through sprinkle on the shredded coconut when stirring. Remove from oven, allow to cool.

5. Once cool mix in the dried cranberries and white chocolate chips

It’s so easy! I love coming up with combinations, and they’re perfect as yummy gifts. Just think of the flavors a loved one enjoys and make their very own mix. You can put it in a mason jar with a delightful tag, and I’m sure the lucky recipient will name their first-born after you.

Almonds, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips is one of my favorite combinations.

And…

Homemade hummus too?!

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves, minced and then mashed

2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

1/4 cup avocado oil

Sun-dried tomatoes

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1. In a food processor, combine the mashed garlic, garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water. Process until smooth.

2. Slowly add in the avocado oil. Add salt, starting at a half a teaspoon, to taste.

Serve with anything your heart desires.

Gosh it feels good to share my own recipes with you all again! During the semester it’s hard for me to actually sit down and think about that. Even though I’m an only child, I love to share. So being able to share these recipes is awesome–from my kitchen to yours!

Oh Happy Day

Before I say anything in this post I just want to give a warm welcome to some new readers! I am so glad that you all have found my blog and may it bring a smile to your face. So if you’re a reader and haven’t said hello, please don’t be shy. I love discovering new blogs and learning more about all the interesting folks out there! So let’s all dive right in, shall we?

Leftover pasta + manchego

Simply stated, I am a lover of cheese.

One of my best friends surprised me with a little Valentine gift!
Crispy, milky, and deliciously sweet.

Now that we’re on the topic of chocolate, and I happen to be sitting on a throne made of decadent chocolate, it’s only natural to share!

3400 Phinney Hazelnut Crunch

Wow! Can’t quite recall when the last time was that I bit into a milk chocolate bar with such a great flavor. The crunchy hazelnut, the sweet milky chocolate, and the subtle salty twist won me over with the first bite.

Coconut Curry milk chocolate

Stained wrapper

Wonderfully complex. The curry flavor wasn’t just from the curry powder, but rather a blend of coriander, turmeric, mustard, cumin, fenugreek, paprika, red pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. So you can imagine…

More leftovers!

It’s amazing what one can do with leftovers. I used the rest of the angel hair pasta for this dish. I sauteed some mushrooms with onions and then simmered them in a tomato sauce with balsamic vinegar. Using the rest of the sage and pumpkin seed crust mix I made awhile ago, I dredged some tofu in it and baked it till it was nice and crispy on the outside. I also tossed in some pine nuts and the very very last of the sage and pumpkin seed mix.

Delicious!

Now I ALWAYS pack snacks for on-the-go, because you never know when hunger may strike!

More spicy black bean burger goodness.

I only have one bean burger left! This one I had with roasted red pepper, onions, ketchup, cilantro, pepper jelly, and melted manchego.

I got home from my night class and I just wanted something comforting so I made a cup of hot cocoa with creamy, thick almond milk.

With a warm cranberry Heart Thrive topped with coconut butter.

The last of the manchego put to great use!

I made a sandwich on this delicious bread (has dried cranberries, sprouted grains, and various nuts and seeds). I filled it with melted manchego, pepper jelly, roasted red pepper, onions, and sweet basil. I also decided to sprinkle on some nutritional yeast on the kale.

Close up was in order.

Then it was time to take my dad to airport.

It's not goodbye, just see you later!

I came home, relaxed, and got ready for a date!

We went to his favorite place... a little Vietnamese restaurant.

The woman already knew his order!

A big bowl of vegetarian pho.

I’m usually not a fan of brothy soups, I prefer thick purees. I tried his soup though and I would definitely order it for myself next time I go there. I thought it was really cool that the plate full of herbs, sprouts, and lime wedges were to rip apart and put in the soup; as much or as little as you’d like because not everyone’s tastes are the same.

I ordered fried tofu in a sweet and spicy lemongrass sauce with steamed rice.

The place may seem like a hole in a wall, but lots of times those restaurants have the best food! There’s a place down the street actually that serves Korean food and I swear the owner is a mother to everyone. If you’re sick she’ll give you extra helpings. These places seem so cozy that you could eat there alone and just hang out for hours. As for the date, it went well, but no romantic sparks. However, I’m going to keep hanging out with him because I think he’s a good friend and you never know what could happen!

Tiramisu for breakfast anyone?

I tried to recreate one of my favorite desserts in oatmeal form after seeing all of Katie’s creative recipes on her blog. Seriously, this little lady is endlessly creative and she has so much positive energy I can feel it through her words! I cooked my oatmeal in chocolate protein powder and instant coffee. Since I didn’t have mascarpone I subbed in some cream cheese, and added that while the oats were cooking. I topped it with coconut butter, more coffee granules, and a lady finger. Not quite like tiramisu but definitely reminiscent; delicious nonetheless!

On this sunny and re-energizing day I decided to tackle some recipes I had been eyeing for quite some time.

Those recipes, my dears, come straight from The Conscious Cook. I took a break from this book for awhile because I missed making up my own things.

Tomato bisque--another recipe of Chef Tal's that calls for cashew cream.

And focaccia with caramelized onions.

For the focaccia I opted to do 50/50 unbleached all-purpose flour and whole wheat. The dough ended up being enough for two large loaves. One for me and one for my roommate! Might I also add… I’m just going to say it flat out: this was my favorite meal all week and I don’t think anything can top it. Nope, can’t even try. The tomato soup was thick and full of flavors from the herbs and bay leaf it simmered with. I ripped off another piece of the bread to scoop up the very last drops of my soup. Foodgasm at it’s finest. And a pat on the back for me… on both sides! Seriously, I’ve forgotten how amazing and satisfying homemade bread is. As I was kneading it, I was reminded of how much fun the process is.

Speaking of being proud of myself, I came across a very inspiring post that Maggie wrote about believing. Click here to check it out. Her message really resonated with me and I felt it throughout the whole day as the sun was giving off it’s glorious and comforting rays. Wow, it’s not even Friday and I’m already celebrating! I hope you’re all in the same boat. Where should we sail?

Creative Sweets

First off, I’d like to thank everyone for giving me their input. You’re all right! I also talked about it with some more friends and I’m feeling more confident already. Afterall, people can’t read our minds so it’s up to us to put it out there.

The papaya was extra vibrant because I had frozen it–whoa mama!

I had Oikos plain Greek yogurt, one of my favorite granolas (Hawaiian flavor by Udi’s), and Sunland’s banana peanut butter. This was a creamy yet refreshing breakfast with some tartness from the yogurt and sweetness from all of the above.

Hmm… what could be hiding in one of my favorite dishes?
Voila!

I love making things to put in my casserole dish. In this I just mixed some things together I thought would taste very yummy together. I boiled some kale and rinsed it off then massaged it in olive oil and sea salt. I roasted a sweet potato and butternut squash and tossed it in olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Tucked away and nearly forgotten in my lazy Susan was a bag of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal–love this stuff for savoury things. I finished off the bag since there was a little over a serving left in it. Then I mixed it all in my casserole dish and topped it off with Tofurky’s Kielbasa, sunflower seeds for crunch, and some tamarind-date chutney. This was, to be blunt, amazingly delicious and so satisfying to every square inch of my taste buds. I actually thought of Maya and Eliza when I was eating this because I know they make such wonderful medley dishes!

This breakfast smelled like heaven and tasted like a piece of it too!

I cooked some cream of wheat with a vanilla protein powder I kidnapped from my parents–hey it’s not like they’re using it! I cooked it with half an apple and cinnamon as well. I topped it off with a lot of delicious granola, the rest of the diced apple, Sunland’s caramel peanut butter, and I drizzled it with Apple & Maple syrup. Gosh, I wish I could share the aroma that was wafting through the air from this bowl of comforting goodness. It was a dreary day so this made it a bit brighter and soothed my soul.

My favorite veggie burger plopped happily on a giant bed of kale and corn!

In case you don’t know what my favorite veggie burgers are they’re Sunshine burgers! I still haven’t gotten my hand on the breakfast flavor, but I’ve tried all the others and they all get two thumbs way up. What’s that green gunk?

I made this recipe in forever ago, but I knew this would be perfect for my very ripe avocados.

It’s an avocado-yogurt dip with cumin and it tastes so delicious even by itself… by the spoon full! I put used a little more cilantro than the recipe called for because that’s just how I roll. I love dips, especially if they’re creamy. The first time I made this was for a party we were having at my house and let me tell you–that dip was the first thing to disappear.

I put frozen honeydew melon bits in my tea + more honey.

I love frozen fruits and I am constantly getting them from the freezer throughout the day when I just want something quenching and flavorful. You know what else I love?

Snacking while reading–One Lucky Duck’s Rosemary Quakers are intensely rich in flavor.

That book was actually recommended last semester to me by one of my sculpture professors. Well, I decided to take a class with him again this semester because I think he’s endlessly inspiring and has such a vast amount of knowledge I could just listen to him talk all day. He reminded me of the book and it was funny because I had just glanced at the old post-it note with the book recommendation. Since he didn’t have it on him at the time he said it would be available for me to pick up from his mailbox later in the day. Well I went back later and what’d I find when I cracked the book open? He had written me a note saying that he hopes I enjoy it as much as he did! The book is mine! This means so much to me because I feel like someone sees this potential in me and wants to help me find my direction. When a teacher has faith in you, it’s so encouraging.

Popopop

This time around I tried the original flavor of Popchips. Once again, loved the texture of these chips. They seem like they’re half-way between a crispy thin potato chip and a crunchy rice cracker. This is actually because they neither bake or fry their potatoes. Instead they put enough and heat and pressure to pop them–like popcorn!And these were definitely not too salty.

Dipped in the avocado-yogurt dip of course.

Corn Chowder

I got this recipe from “The Conscious Cook” and I had a feeling it would be delicious because it called for the cashew cream. I love how I can make the cashew cream beforehand and save it for various recipes in the book + my own recipes! Such a versatile thing to have and it gives things a delicious richness, and it’s such a great alternative for making things dairy-free. For instance, with this recipe the cashew cream was used instead of heavy cream. I’ve never had chowder before but I can vouch for this anyway–delectable. This was perfect for my mood because it had been a dreary day and all I wanted was something comforting. I even had barbeque Popchips on the side which actually went really well with the chowder. However, the barbeque Popchips themselves weren’t really that great in flavor. I just wish they were a bit smokier.

I also received a very very very exciting package from a dear friend–can’t thank her enough.

Liz just needs to be a professional surprise party planner or something! These are one of my favorite chocolates and I haven’t been able to try all the flavors out but now I can! Here are the 3400 Phinney flavors (prepare to wipe drool off your mouth in second):

Hazelnut Crunch Milk Chocolate

A generous combination of hazelnut brittle and milk chocolate with just the right touch of salt. Unanimously voted one of our yummiest creations ever by our Theonista tasting panel.

Vanilla Milk Chocolate

A harmonious blend of finely ground Madagascar vanilla bean and milk chocolate.

Chai Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate with a warming blend of chai spices and black tea.

Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate with toasted coconut and savory curry spices.

Fig, Fennel & Almond Dark Chocolate

Crunchy slivered almonds, sweet chewy figs, and a touch of fennel in rich dark chocolate. Satisfyingly delicious, and a Vegan dream come true!

Nib Brittle Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate with organic roasted cocoa nibs in sweet and crunchy brittle.

Bread and Chocolate Dark Chocolate

An innovative twist on a traditional pairing, featuring dark chocolate with buttery, toasted artisan breadcrumbs and the perfect amount of salt

Coffee Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate and a robust locally-roasted organic, Fair-Trade-Certified™ coffee from Caffé Vita combine to create a full-bodied flavor.

So… is your mouth watering yet?

Speaking of treats, do any of you have any raw vegan dessert cookbook recommendations? I’m looking at you Averie! Just sayin’ you should make a cookbook hehe. Anyway, I find that raw vegan cooking is very rich in flavor and creativity–I love that!  In my life journey I want just continue to expand my cooking knowledge, abilities, and eat delicious food while I’m at it.

Hope You Had Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Part II

Hold on to your seats ladies and gentlemen we’re blasting back a little bit further into the past!

Granola girl is back!

I had this bowl of Udi’s Au Naturel granola with the apple grahams Holly sent me, spiced applesauce, Sunland’s caramel peanut butter, and vanilla yogurt. This granola is really good if you want to keep it simple or basically, it would go well with anything! The Au Naturel flavor is basically a wildflower honey sweetened granola.

Looks like I couldn't help but take a bite of the tortilla before I took the picture!

I just stuffed it with black beans, peach salsa, sour cream, nutritional yeast, and cilantro.

Whoa mama!

I hadn’t had banana soft-serve in forever! Size does matter when it comes to this – the bigger the banana the better (you get more)!! My toppings: coconut milk, Artisana Cacao Bliss, and Bekah’s scented almonds. YUM to the 10th degree!!! I’m talking love in exponential amounts.

Have any of you guys ever taken or heard of Zumba? Well this is a dance class I go to whenever I’m down in Florida. My mother and I love to dance and all of those classes have so much energy and happiness from everyone that you can’t help but have fun. There are even some professional ballroom dancers that attend the class. Everyone in that class just lets loose and gets down. For real!

With some friends from the old dance academy.

And with Wilson, one of our old instructors!

We also did the hora!!!

The dance instructor was touched by the students' card and gift to her.

Santa Claus came!

There was never a boring moment in that class!

After the dance class my best friend came over and Matilda got some presents! But I guess she really liked the necklace I got.

I went to go meet up with a friend for coffee.

Keeping it natural.

I tried Udi’s Muesli that morning – muesli is one of my mom’s favorite breakfasts. This was a really good muesli!!! There were lots of dried fruits – which I find to be lacking in a lot of pre-packaged cereals.

Agave-Lime Grilled Tofu with Asian Slaw and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Another recipe from ‘The Conscious Cook’. The best mashed sweet potatoes ever!!! You mash it with a cashew cream, butter, and chipotle pepper. Everything in this dish was incredible and complimentary to each other. I love when a meal touches so many different kinds of flavors. This took my taste buds on a delicious ride.

Pistachios

My dad came home form the store with a container of pistachios! I love these nuts, especially with dried cranberries and golden raisins. I really want to make a pistachio butter. Has anyone tried pistachio butter? Do you like it?

And I FINALLY wore the shorts my mom got me on her trip to Germany.

They gave me two coffees but I had only ordered one! Maybe I should've played the lottery that day.

I've known her since I started middle school!

Later on we went to Target and they had me try on the new Rodarte dresses. I didn’t know Target had such cute things!!!

My friend up at school sent me a little box of treasures!

And the ring lights up!!!

Tempeh Creole

Dinner that night was something special. I made another recipe from ‘The Conscious Cook’. I love the variety of flavors this book has. I usually stick to using the same spices and seasoning when I cook, but this was different from what I usually use. I served it over some brown basmati rice and with a colorful pepper medley on the side.

Breakfast is a calling!

Looks like I had English muffins for breakfast that morning. One slice with butter and the other with pumpkin butter. I also tried the egg nog flavored yogurt with a lot of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Does that count as “sprinkled” still? It looks like it was actually doused! I also had apple slices with caramel peanut butter = delicious.

Yummy snack

I know some of you are always keeping your eyes out for new snack ideas. Well I found one that is not messy and perfect for when you’re on the go! Not to mention it tastes really good. I tried Udi’s granola nuggets! Let me quote them , “Snack-perfect granola chunks made with honey, oats, and lots of nuts.” They contain almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds. I tried the little nuggets with Wallaby’s Downunder Mango Tangerine flavor.

And now we’re going to blast somewhere else into time.

Personally, I like raw collard greens better than cooked.

I tried cooking them the other day but I wasn’t too keen on the flavor. Anyway, these collard greens made for perfect wraps for the leftover Moroccan stew. There wasn’t much liquid left so I didn’t have to worry about stuff spilling out. I also had some Mestemacher bread with mashed avocado, tomato slices, and horseradish sauce.

Check it out!

Look at what my mom made!

We had to use up a bunch of veggies that we had in the fridge so this was a mish-mosh of things! She even cooked daikon radish! I’m not sure what she put in here exactly but I’ll tell you what I do know – besides that it tasted delicious – cauliflower, yellow squash, daikon radish, mushrooms, yellow onion, turmeric, fenugreek, coconut milk, and other things!

Another nighttime snack

A bowl of fruits with coconut milk is something I’ve been eating daily while in Florida. That night I remembered that I still had some Fig Newmans! I love the chewiness of these fig cookies.

So that was the time traveling adventure! Now that we’re all back up to speed, I have a story to share with you all. This was shared with me over Christmas dinner and I thought it was inspirational. They told me about a writer who was diagnosed with cancer but wasn’t going to give up without a fight. So what did they decide to do? They had heard of “laughing clubs” in India and other countries, so they got their wife to go to the library and find a bunch of comedies. Everyday the two would wake up and watch a funny movie. Eventually he was able to cure his cancer with laughter. So never underestimate the power of bursting out in an uncontainable laughter or even just a giggle will do. What’s a miracle you’ve had in your life?