Tuesday, April 30, 2013

spring casual

shirt: Madewell || pants: Joe's Jeans || shoes: Stuart Weitzman || necklace: BaubleBar

Bauble of the day: BaubleBar's Tropical Gem Bib. This necklace is my current spring obsession. The combination of tropical and shiny gems are so good. I can't get over it. 

Also, this spring, I'm rocking a new, more relaxed hairstyle. I know it's not obvious at all, but I did get a haircut a few weeks ago. Since my hair got trimmed and my layers are finally all cleaned up, I decided to ditch the tighter curls and went for waves instead. The loose waves take less time, but they are also more fussy (aka: always in the way) throughout the day. My hair really has a mind of its own. I can't control it. Trying to find the right technique and the best products to tame the beast have definitely been an adjustment. Some days my hair looks amazing.. Other days, not so much. Then again, with the 90 degree weather right now, my hair is pretty much doomed. Maybe you'll have better luck than me. 

Great loose wave hair tutorials here and here. P.S. I always use curling irons with adjustable heat levels, which will help you avoid a situation like this.

Friday, April 26, 2013

soft pretzel bites with dipping sauce trio

I woke up this morning to learn that my dear Russell Westbrook has to undergo knee surgery. This was is very upsetting. I thought to myself: how am I going to bounce back from this? Hours and hours later, I'm still not sure. But to keep my mind off the fact that my favorite NBA player will not be continuing for the remainder of the playoffs, I went straight to the kitchen.

In my attempt to turn my Friday into a happy one, I decided that it was only appropriate to celebrate National Pretzel Day today. I was passing through one of my favorite blogs, and came across a soft pretzel bite recipe I just had to try. So, I did.. And also made a trio of dips to go with them. If you don't already have Two Peas & Their Pod on your Google Reader, Feedly, whatever.. get it on there immediately!

Soft Pretzel Bites
Recipe by Two Peas & Their Pod
Yields: Too many to count, about 5-6 dozen

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
6 Tbsp (3oz) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour (4 1/2 cups was perfect for me)
vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp cold water
coarse sea salt

1. Combine warm water, light brown sugar, yeast, and butter into bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with dough hook, then allow to sit for about 5 minutes until yeast has bloomed.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Pour dry mixture to wet mixture and incorporate on low speed. Increase speed to medium for 3-4 minutes until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl. If the dough appears wet, add 1 Tbsp of flour at a time. Remove dough from bowl and place on unfloured surface. Knead the dough into a ball with your hands.
3. Lightly grease a bowl with vegetable/canola oil. Place dough ball into greased bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to proof for about 1 hour in a warm spot. Dough should double in size before using.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
5. Remove dough from bowl and place onto a flat surface. Divide the dough ball into 8 relatively equal pieces. The best way to do this is to cut it like a pie-- in half, then in quarters, then in eighths. Roll each piece into a long rope and cut into about 1-in pieces. It isn't important to be exact.
6. Boil the 3 quarts of water in a large pot. Once boiling, add baking soda. Please make sure you are using a large enough pot because water will vigorously boil and foam up once baking soda is added.
7. Add cut dough pieces to boiling water solution. Boil for about 30 seconds, and then remove with a large slotted spoon. Place all boiled pretzel bites onto a parchment lined baking sheet. You will have a lot of pretzel bites, so I needed to bake them all in 2 batches. 
8. On another parchment-lined baking sheet, place as many pretzel bites as you can without them touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Repeat this process with the remaining pretzel bites that could not fit on the 1st tray.
9. Allow baked pretzel bites to cool on a baking rack (or directly on the baking sheet is fine).
10. Serve with your favorite dips.

With all these pretzel bites, it's great to have dip choices..

Here's a trio that will hopefully satisfy your sweet, savory, or spicy cravings. Enjoy!

Ginger Honey Mustard Dip

1/4 cup whole grain dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Mix all ingredients together and serve! Duh.

Sriracha Ketchup Dip

2 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp siracha

1. Combine ingredients. If you prefer more spice, add more sriracha. But this was a good balance for me.

Nutella and Peanut Butter Dip

Peanut Butter

1. This is the easiest dip of all. Just scoop out some Nutella. Then, drizzle some peanut butter directly on top. I use natural peanut butter (where peanuts are the only ingredient), which tends to be a little more liquid-like, so it works well for this.

Monday, April 22, 2013

pesto chicken stuffed portobello mushrooms

Confession. I never get tired of pesto. I put it on my breakfast eggs (or toast if I'm feeling extra naughty). I throw it on lettuce and call it a salad. And, because it's herb-based, it tastes good with fish, red meat, and lean meats alike.

More often than I'd like to admit, I crave homemade fettuccine with pesto and chicken. It's one of the most satisfying cheat meals ever.. until I start feeling like crap from scarfing down all that gluten. Really, I do. It's a love/hate relationship.

Luckily, I love mushrooms. For a vegetable, mushrooms are so meaty and hearty. So, instead of making pasta with pesto, chicken, and mushrooms. I decided to cut out the middle man-- the pasta-- to save myself from gluten misery.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
yields 6-8 stuffed mushrooms

6-8 Portobello stuffing mushrooms (mine were on the smaller side, so about 8)
1 tsp olive oil + extra for brushing
1/2 c. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken breast, largely diced (I use a skinless breast of a whole-roasted chicken)
1/2 c. pesto (store-bought or homemade-- it's always best to use your favorite)
5-6 black olives, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare mushrooms. Wipe them clean with a damp cloth. Mushrooms drink in water very easily, so it's best not to wash them directly under water. You want them as dry as possible. Then, with a spoon or sharp knife, remove the stem and gills from each mushroom cap. Lightly brush each Portobello with olive oil and place onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.
2. While mushrooms are baking, prepare the pesto chicken filling. In a small skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onions, stirring occasionally. Once onions are softened, stir in garlic. Allow the garlic to cook a bit-- about 2 or 3 more minutes. Finally add chicken, pesto, and salt and pepper to taste. 
3 Stuff the Portobellos. Use a spoon to fill hollowed mushroom cap with pesto chicken. Add chopped olives on top. Pop the stuffed Portobellos back into the oven for about 2 more minutes. Then they are ready to eat!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

garlic chicken with cauliflower rice

Being Asian, I grew up eating almost everything over rice. Unfortunately, white rice is full of starch and there is little nutritional value. Though brown rice is a great alternative, I have been loving cauliflower rice for an even healthier substitute. It looks just like rice. And the best part-- I never have to feel guilty.

How to Make Cauliflower Rice in 3 Steps:
1. Place a head of cauliflower (washed) into a food processor and pulse until desired rice-like consistency.
2. Transfer the cauliflower rice into a sautepan or skillet on the stove top. 
3. Cook on medium heat, carefully stirring occasionally until cooked. (I like to use a fork to fluff it up like rice.) Once it is cooked (which happens quickly), it's ready to eat! Season to taste-- I usually just add a little s+p at the very end.

So, now what to eat with cauliflower rice?  The answer is anything. But why not keep it Paleo with my Garlic Chicken Recipe..

Garlic Chicken

2 lbs. uncooked chicken breast or thighs (I used thighs because they're juicier!)
15 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped + more for sprinkling

1. Place all ingredients into a medium to large bowl. Mix everything together well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
2. At this point, you can cook your chicken however you like. I cooked it on the stovetop-- heat skillet on medium to medium high heat with a drizzle of EVOO. Cook a few minutes on each side so both sides are browned and chicken is cooked all the way through.
3. Place cooked chicken on a serving plate. Once all the chicken is cooked, pour the extra pan juices over all the chicken. Top with extra fresh parsley.

The final result is juicy, moist chicken studded with little crispy bits of garlic. The crispiness you get from some of the garlic is the best part. So, really, don't forget to pour the extra pan juices with lingering garlic over the cooked chicken!

When eating Paleo, constantly prepping for meals can get exhausting. Whenever I make chicken, I tend to make a lot of it because it is so versatile. Use leftovers to top salads, throw it in your breakfast egg scramble, etc etc.. you get the point. I never get tired of it.

If you'd rather not cook so much chicken at once, marinate the whole batch as instructed. Then, divide the batch. Seal what you don't want to cook immediately in a ziplock or vacuum sealed bag, freeze, and then defrost when you're ready to make this again. That works, too.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

everything rice krispies treats

Bite-sized treats are my weakness. When I'm craving something sweet, I usually just need one satisfying bite. For days, I've been thinking about making a really intense Rice Krispies treat. My newest creation is nutty, crispy, chewy, chocolaty, toasted, crunchy. The taste and texture is crazy good and each bite has a little bit of everything. And thus, I present to you.. Everything Rice Krispies Treats. I promise you will never snap, crackle, and pop the same again.

Everything Rice Krispies Treats
yields one 9x13in. tray

5 cups Rice Krispies cereal (or something similar)
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
10.5 oz bag of marshmallows (10 oz bag will work, too)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I use the creamy unsalted PB from Trader Joe's with peanuts as only ingredient)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 c. shredded coconut, toasted

1. Prepare your tray. Line a 9x13in pan with parchment paper. To help it stay in place, you can spray the pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray, then press the parchment on top.
2. To toast the shredded coconut: Spread shredded coconut onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. In a preheated 350 degree oven, bake for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Do not burn! Check after about 5 minutes and keep an eye on it. It can darken quickly.
3. Measure out Rice Krispies into a bowl. If you've made Rice Krispies treats before, you know that having everything ready to go is helpful!
4. On medium heat on stovetop, melt the butter is a large pot. Once the butter is melted, add marshmallows. Use a heat-resistant spatula to stir marshmallows frequently until completely melted, so it won't stick to the bottom of the pot. 
5. When the marshmallows have formed a melted goo, add peanut butter to the mixture. Mix well until incorporated. Try to do this quickly. 
6. Turn off heat. Off the stovetop, add Rice Krispies cereal. With the spatula, carefully stir until marshmallow mixture and cereal are blended. It helps to scrape the marshmallow mixture from the bottom and fold it over the top of the cereal, repeating this motion.
7. Assemble: Dump mixture into your prepared parchment-lined pan. Spread mixture, creating an even layer on the bottom of the pan. 
8. In a microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips in 30 second intervals (stirring in between) until completely melted. It should take less than 2 minutes. Do not burn chocolate.
9. Add melted chocolate on top of the Rice Krispies layer. Use spatula to even it out, so the Rice Krispie layer is completely covered. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top of the chocolate.
10. Pop the pan into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is completely set and hardened.
11. Eat: At this point, you're pretty much done. The layered Rice Krispies treat should come out of the pan easily by gently lifting the parchment out of the pan. If you don't want one giant Everything Rice Krispies Treat, then cut into pieces however you like.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

pretzel-topped peanut butter cups

Let's be honest, I'm still mourning the loss of "Gandee Candy". And it's probably best that you can't hear me saying "Gandee Candy" aloud right now in my best West Virginian accent, which shockingly (I know) isn't very good. I can't help it though, that was a catchy nickname and the only two words I could actually make out from the hours of televised gibberish. Needless to say, I've been itching to make myself some candy. Damn, I really wish I had a cool nickname right about now.

But, for these one-bite wonders, you'll need something like this. You'll thank me when you use it. Candy making has never been easier. The silicone candy molds are definitely the way to go. Bonus points, because they look just like Reese's Minis.

Pretzel-Topped Peanut Butter Cups
Yields about 60 mini cups

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I use the kind from Trader Joe's with peanuts as the only ingredient)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup crushed pretzels (I used pretzel crisps, because that's all I had.)
2 1/2+ cups of your favorite chocolate (This will vary based on how quickly you work! Chocolate can be temperamental. To be safe, just have A LOT of chocolate on hand.)

1. To prepare filling: With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat together peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Hell, if you want to fit in a workout at the same time, you can grab a wooden spoon and put some muscle into mixing these ingredients up the old-fashioned way.
2. To prepare chocolate: In a microwavable bowl, melt chocolate in 30 second intervals-- stirring well in between and making sure not to overheat. When the chocolate looks almost all melted (still a few lumps here and there), you can stir a little longer to finish the melting process. 
3. To prepare the cups: With your finger, paint each spot in a silicone candy mold with your chocolate-- covering all sides and crevices. Paint it well, so you have a nice nest for your peanut butter filling.
4. Then go back and place a rounded ball of the peanut butter filling into each cup.
5. With a small spoon, pour more of the melted chocolate on top to fill the cups completely. Make sure it fills around the sides of the peanut butter, too! It helps if you use the back of the spoon to smooth down the chocolate.
6. Immediately sprinkle the crushed pretzel on top.
7. Pop the silicone candy mold into the refrigerator for about 3 minutes until the chocolate has set and hardened.
8. Pop the candies out of the mold and then pop them into your mouth! 

It really doesn't matter how messy this looks, because they will still turn out perfect!

lover of manifesto tees

I have to say it. Manifesto Tees.. I am SO obsessed. Meg Biram is the founder (and absolute genius) of Manifesto. This apparel line is unique, because every month features a new product printed with a new word. They are also limited edition, which means once they're gone they're gone for good. It's a complete bummer if you miss out, but it's really what makes the brand so special. So, don't be a loser and grab one while you can. You can "shop your manifesto" here. If you don't.. well, then you can admire mine below.

The other day, while I was doing some laundry, I threw on my February Lover sweatshirt. It is super soft, comfy, and incredibly cute. It's even more adorable here, here, and omg here. I seriously want to live in this sweatshirt all the time. Yes. Please. Stop judging me.. And my naked bed (the duvet was in the laundry!).

sweatshirt: Manifesto || jeans: JBrand || necklace: Claudia Rowe || cuff: Giles & Brother

The next Manifesto Tee will be the GSD (get shit done) shirt. You can vote for your favorite GSD design now. Or just go ahead and pre-order it, because it's going to be amazing.