Fig & Nut Bars

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetYesterday was my birthday! I feel so loved by the outpouring of cute messages and heartfelt wishes for my coming year. It has definitely been a period of love and gratitude around here. My mom just got married last weekend and I had the honor of being a bridesmaid! We had a very simple, yet beautiful and intimate backyard wedding in northern California. I don’t think there was a dry eye anywhere. It was so humbling and encouraging to witness my mother and my new step dad exchange vows. They were raw, honest, loving, hopeful and kind. Both of them have kids and have been married before. But I was overcome with joy to see two people persevere through hardship and still have the courage to open their hearts and love again.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetDo you get swept off your feet by witnessing and experiencing love at weddings? I certainly do. Not in the way that I think to myself, “AHHHH…I MUST get married right now!”, but rather, in a way that makes me see more clearly what I already have in my relationship and my friendships. It makes me love harder and appreciate more so than I did before. So thank you mom and Alan for opening my eyes and making me more present and aware of my own joy and happiness. I wish you two the happiest and best years ahead! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSpeaking of love, I have FINALLY figured out my kind of granola bar. It is not too sweet, has a good mix of nuts to oats and lots of flavor! I have been recipe testing a lot at work and this particular mix is my favorite so far. If I am feeling fancy or crafty, I will cut some parchment paper and baker’s twine to make it look pretty. If you package them, they can also make great little gifts!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAlso, thank you Daniel for the incredible birthday dinner at Osteria Mozza. You are simply the best partner in crime. photo 2

Fig & Nut Bars: makes 12 big bars or 24 smaller squares

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

small pinch of salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

12 dried figs, stems removed and chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, chopped (I used pre-toasted hazelnuts)

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (I used pre-toasted nuts) or pistachios, whichever you prefer

1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped

2 tbs coconut oil, softened

1/2 cup +1/4 cup honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8X8 pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl combine oats, salt, cinnamon, all nuts and dried figs. Stir well.

3. Next add the coconut oil and stir to evenly coat the mixture with the oil.

4. Add 1/2 cup of honey and stir really well so that the mixture becomes evenly coated and sticky. Add the last 1/4 cup of honey, making sure to drizzle it over the parts that look dry. Stir well.

5. Place the mixture in the parchment lined pan and press firmly into the pan, making sure it is even. I like to use the back side of a spatula or a piece of parchment paper to help press the mixture down.

6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour in the pan. Transfer to fridge and cool for at least an hour before cutting into bars, which will prevent them from crumbling.

7. I like to wrap them up and give them as gifts!

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

Mushroom GaletteI stumbled upon this recipe while browsing for vegetarian savory galette recipes and this caught my eye immediately. I loved the idea of using mushrooms and fresh herbs. I tried this recipe out at work and served it as an appetizer. I found that if you cut too small of pieces, the crust falls apart a little bit in the middle, so I suggest cutting it into 8 pieces or less. I also highly recommend letting it cool down so that the whole galette firms up and can truly be a handheld snack.

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette barely adapted from Bon Appétit. Serves 4 for dinner or 8 as an appetizer.

Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I didn’t have on hand, so omitted it)

Galette:

1 cup ricotta (I wanted to add some more, so I used 1 1/2 cups total)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 oz. crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 bunch large swiss chard, ribs and stems removed leaves cut into bite size pieces

All-purpose flour (for parchment)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 cup mixed fresh tender herbs (such as flat leaf parsley, cilantro, dill and/or chives. Personally, I went with parsley, dill and chives, but only used about 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions:

For the Dough:

1. Pulse all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; drizzle with vinegar and ¼ cup ice water. Mix with a fork, adding more ice water by the tablespoonful if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together; lightly knead until no dry spots remain (do not overwork). Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours.

3. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For the Galette:

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Season ricotta with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; season with kosher salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add half of chard, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted. Add remaining chard and cook, tossing occasionally, until completely wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment to a 14” round about ⅛” thick. Transfer on parchment to a baking sheet. Spread three-fourths of ricotta over dough, leaving a 1½” border. Top with reserved chard, then mushrooms. Dollop remaining ricotta over vegetables. Bring edges of dough up and over filling, overlapping as needed, to create a 1½” border; brush with egg. Bake galette, rotating once, until crust is golden brown and cooked through, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet.

5. Toss herbs with lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl; season with pepper. Top galette with herbs, zest, and sea salt.

Easy Summer Picnic + Hollywood Bowl

Picnic SpreadIn the spirit of being more spontaneous this summer, Daniel and I decided last minute to go to Reggae Night at the Hollywood Bowl (literally a few hours before the concert started!). So we only had a few hours to throw together a picnic dinner and Daniel also had to play in a soccer game during those hours. I didn’t feel like stressing out about the menu, but also didn’t want to pick up take-out.Bean SaladTabboulehMy happy medium was picking up a few prepared salads (bean salad and tabbouleh), ingredients for a green salad, a loaf of bread, wedge of cheese, bottle of wine and a little chocolate of course. For the green salad, I used arugula, goat cheese, baby heirloom tomatoes, slivered almonds and olive oil and vinegar. I put all of this in a to-go container and tossed it once we got to the concert. I picked up some chocolate peanut butter cups at the store, but also had brownies in the freezer, so brought both for dessert.Picnic SaladBrowniesI pre-sliced the cheese and brought the whole loaf of bread so we could just tear off pieces as we ate. The point is, a good, healthy picnic is not hard to throw together last minute and the stress of putting something together should never hold you back from doing spontaneous things! I encourage you all to go to the Hollywood Bowl if you haven’t yet. It is one of the best summer activities! Don’t forget a wine opener and a blanket :).photo 1 (2)

In My Fridge Week of July 20th

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetEvery Monday morning I go grocery shopping for work. My goal is to restock my fridge for the week with plenty of options for breakfast and beautiful snack plates. Somewhere between the confusion of it not being the weekend anymore and my denial of it being Monday, I try to look out for interesting and fun things to break up the inevitable monotony of breakfast/snacks. This morning I saw lychee, which inspired the fruit and cheese plate above. I’ve decided this is going to be the week of delectable fruit and cheese combinations, so I stocked up on plenty of fresh fruit and cheese. Monday isn’t looking so bad after all!

Hope you all have a wonderful week and find something unique in the grocery store to inspire you.

Happy Eating!

Date Nut Bread

IMG_7353I have been meaning to try more recipes out of the cookbook Good to the Grain and last weekend was the perfect time to carve out some space in the day for baking and catching up with a good friend. I mean, who doesn’t want to catch up over the smell of delicious bread in the oven? That’s my kind of friend date. Scratch that. That is my kind of ANY date. I love cooking so much with Daniel that I will often opt out of going out to dinner so that we can cook together in the kitchen. I think it is so special to spend time together working, creating and sharing what you made. IMG_7368I had to improvise a little bit here because I didn’t have everything on hand for this recipe, but I still love how it turned out. I will write the original recipe and my substitutions below. This bread is arguably more appropriate for fall, but when you crave something, you crave it and you shouldn’t have to wait several months to enjoy it. Thus, I present you with this delightful Date Nut Bread from Good to the Grain.IMG_7386IMG_7400My friend and I MAY have stolen some of the roasted nuts before we could bring ourselves to put them in the batter. The nuts are so simple to make, but they were amazing and something I want to make just as a regular snack by itself. IMG_7480I was a little too anxious to cut into the bread. I highly recommend letting it cool down for awhile so that it doesn’t crumble. I found that it was perfect after hanging out in the fridge overnight, I cut a slice toasted it and smothered it with fig compote. Now put this recipe on your weekend to-do list!IMG_7501Date Nut Bread- slightly adapted from Good to the Grain

 

Ingredients:

Butter for the pan

1 1/2 cups pecan halves (I used 3/4 pecan halves, 1/4 cup cashews, 1/2 cup almonds and chopped them after roasting)

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 large Medjool dates, halved and pitted

Dry Mix:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-grain pastry flour

1/2 cup teff flour (I couldn’t find it, so I substituted 1/4 all purpose and 1/4 whole wheat)

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated (I used pre-ground nutmeg and would drop it down to 1.5 tsp)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet Mix:

4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)

*I also added 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the pecans (or mixed nuts) in the oil and salt and spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet. Toast the pecans/nuts in the middle of the oven until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Set the pecans/nuts aside to cool, but keep the oven heated.

2. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil and pour over dates. Let the dates soften while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

3. Rub a standard loaf pan lightly with butter.

4. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grains or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter and set aside.

5. Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to medium speed and cream until light in color, about 3 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend the dates with the soaking water until smooth. Scrape the date puree and whisk until thoroughly combined.

7. Pour half of the date mixture into the bowl of the mixer and mix on low speed until combined. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the remaining date mixture into the bowl, then the remaining flour, and mix on high speed for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients. Add the pecans/nuts and stir them throughout the batter.

8. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth out the top.

9. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. When it is ready, the bread will smell like it is on the brink of burning; it should be deeply brown and even darker along the edges; and a skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.

10. As soon as you remove the bread from the oven, flip it out of the pan; then flip it right side up and transfer it to a cooling rack. Let the loaf cool thoroughly before you slice into it. It can be kept, tightly wrapped, for 3 days.

 

Berkeley Wedding

imageI swear every time I open Facebook I see a picture of a ring on THAT finger. Besides being overwhelmed by the insane amount of significance we place on the size of the diamond and wedding talk, I am still overjoyed for my friends. This wedding was different though. I felt lucky to be a part of a wedding that placed more appreciation for the love, joy and commitment between two people far above the size of a ring. image

imageDaniel and I flew up on Friday night and had a little time to explore before the wedding on Sunday. We walked around the beautiful neighborhoods of Berkeley and stumbled upon a great brunch spot, Elmwood Cafe. I was pleasantly surprised with this cozy, yet bustling cafe filled with hungry people awaiting brunch. Daniel and I both indulged (we were in vacation mode). I went for the chai tea latte, rhubarb scone with orange marmalade AND the poached egg sandwich with tomato jam and Daniel had the croissant, coffee and breakfast sandwich. Needless to say, we really needed to go for a walk after that.imageimageProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetLater in the afternoon, my sister, mom and I attended a women’s circle for the bride; an intimate gathering of her closest female friends to bestow blessings, hopes, wishes, dreams and lots of love to the bride before marriage. This was definitely one of the most beautiful things I have had the honor of being a part of (besides the wedding). After I locked Daniel out of the house (woops), we picked him up for dinner and went to Cafe Gratitude for a delicious vegan meal. And then finally, the wedding! We arrived after a lot of rushing around the house, trying to get out of the house by 11:00 am, which is truly difficult for my family. The bride and groom spent a week apart before the wedding and when the groom finally saw the bride, he dropped to his knees, overcome by emotion. Let me tell you, I lost it-absolutely started crying from the collective emotion. The whole day was just a big love fest. Congrats Noa and Jack!!! Thank  you for letting me be a part of celebrating your love and I wish you the most joyous and happy life together.photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

jacqui_smoothie001The first thing my sister said when I told her about the flavors of this smoothie, “strawberry and peanut butter together? hmmmm…. how strange”. I’m convinced she still has issues from growing up being a very picky eater. Come on, anyone who ate PB&J’s growing up knows that strawberry and peanut butter love each other.

Anyways, I needed to break up my workout routine, so I signed up for this 30-day Pilates challenge for June and I am loving it so far! I started making this protein smoothie as a post-workout breakfast or snack. Hope you like it! And if you have any fun fitness challenges you do, let me know!

Strawberry Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie: serves 1

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 frozen banana

splash of vanilla extract (1/4 tsp roughly)

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 scoop protein powder (I use vanilla pea protein that I got from Whole Foods)

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Directions:

Throw everything into the blender and blend for 1 minute. You might have to stop the blender and shake it around a bit or add a little bit more milk.

 

 

Lemon Rosemary Tart

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe first time I tried this tart I was over at a friend’s house. She had made it the day before for a dinner party and she pulled the leftovers out of the fridge when I came over. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that my friend and I polished off the rest of the tart. I couldn’t help myself it was AMAZING. So fast forward a few weeks later and I made it for my family. We all declared this tart the new family favorite and the must-have for family celebrations. Fast forward a year down the road and I felt the strong desire to share this tart at work.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHowever, I can’t take credit for this tart. I first saw it on the blog, Happyolks, which had a guest blogger submit the recipe. A few people in my family are gluten free, so I have adapted the crust to be a gluten-free version, but I will include the original recipe below with my adaptations. I also decided to make mini tarts because I got new pans that I wanted to try. I recommend baking it one big pan for your first time. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

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Lemon Rosemary Tart

Ingredients: 

for the crust:

  • 1 1/3 cup spelt flour (I used 1 cup almond flour, 1/3 cup coconut flour)
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoon ice water

for the filling

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

for the topping

  • fresh raspberries
  • lemon slices
  • fresh rosemary

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan and set aside.

2. Place the flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until little pea sized bits start to form. Add in the ice water, starting with just 1 tablespoon. Pulse a few more times, then check the dough to see if it holds together when pressed between your fingers. If not, add the 2nd tablespoon. The dough may still seem crumbly, but as long as it holds together when pressed it will be perfect.

3. Dump the dough out into the prepared tart pan. Starting from the center, work your way out to the sides by pressing the dough firmly into the pan. Make sure you press it up along the sides evenly. Pierce the bottom with a fork a few times and place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before filling.

4. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Place the yogurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon juice and zest. Whisk until smooth and everything is evenly combined.

5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and only slightly jiggles when shaken lightly.

6. Allow to cool completely then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving (I personally like it to chill for a few hours). Tart can be made the day before and kept covered and chilled in the fridge. Serve with fresh whipped cream, raspberries or garnish with fresh rosemary and lemon slices if you’d like.

 

 

Ginger Chamomile Sparkler

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIt is HOT outside. Like WOAH. 100 degree weather should not make an appearance this early in the year :/. It is undeniable that we have to say goodbye to certain traditions we have in cold weather times and drinking hot tea is one of them for me. A cup of hot tea in this weather is no longer comforting it just sounds unbearable. So in an effort to still enjoy my tea and feel refreshed, I have been working on a sparkling water and tea combination. Do any of you already do this? I think it is going to be my go-to for the summer! Definitely play around with the recipe and types of tea you use, I think there is great potential for unlimited combinations! And tell me  your delicious creations :)

Ginger Chamomile Sparkler- makes about 6 cups

Ingredients:

2 ginger tea bags ( I used ginger lemon)

2 chamomile tea bags

2 cups boiling hot water

2 tablespoons honey

At least 16 ice cubes

4 cups cold sparkling water

1 bunch mint or basil, washed and patted dried

Directions:

1. Steep the tea bags in the boiling water for at least 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, gently press the tea bags and take them out of the liquid. Add the honey and stir well.

2. Pour the tea into a large pitcher that can hold more than 48 oz. Add the ice cubes and stir to cool down the tea. Next add the sparkling water and stir. If you desire, add the mint and/or basil leaves and stir. Taste and adjust. Maybe add a little more honey or fresh herbs!

Enjoy!

In My Fridge Week of May 5 + Birthday Brunch

 

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetThis week is special because my sister Nikki finally came home from her trip to Singapore and Bali! Her birthday happened to fall during the middle of her trip, so I promised to make her a special meal when she got home. I gave her the option of brunch or dinner. If  you know my sister, you know she said brunch without a moment of hesitation. This girl LOVES her brunch, just look at her Instagram feed and you will see what I mean. When I sat down on Saturday to plan the menu, I had to remember all the foods that she loves and not everything I had been dying to recipe test, because after all, it was HER birthday brunch and I had to be a little selfless.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetAfter careful consideration, I made my way to the store and walked away with lots of goodies including ingredients to make gluten free scones, lemon curd whipped cream, mimosas, roasted potatoes and a tomato-herb frittata! I could hardly sleep on Saturday night because I was so excited to put this meal together for her. If I could express my love for my sister through cooking, I would be cooking for a lifetime! She is darling, hilarious, wonderful, honest, kind, intelligent, and the best older sister I could ask for. We are so incredibly lucky to live together and actually ENJOY living together.Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetChoosing to live with my sister was probably the easiest choice I have ever made. It was so clear to both of us that this time in our 20s is precious and we wouldn’t get the opportunity to live together in the future. We have created our little cozy sister apartment that is very special to us. I could go on and on about how much I love my sister, but I will save you all and end with this:

Dear Nikki (Sissy Poo Poo Pie, Pookie, Spinster Sister),

I love you ALMOST as much as I love chocolate and MUCH MORE than I love vegetables. Happiest of birthdays to you. I hope this year brings even more clarity and joy than the previous ones.

XOXO,

Your CRAZY sister who loves you to pieces!

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