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Cheater’s Tomato, Corn, and Avocado Salad

27 May

Sometimes you need to take the easy way out. It can be hard to juggle friends, family, and work while still setting a little time aside for yourself as well. That’s why sometimes it’s okay to skip corners a bit and fall back on tricks that help you save time without anyone else noticing.

From time to time you can rely on packaged brownies for a bake sale as long as you sprinkle some marshmallows and nuts on top so they come off as looking like gourmet rocky road brownies. Or you can count a nice walk as your workout for the day. You can even tweak one of your old ideas slightly to make a new proposal for work.

While you know that you’re taking the easy way out, often times no one else will have a clue! This salad is one of those recipes that tastes delicious, yet it requires just 1o minutes of your time. Impress your family or your guests with this simple salad that relies on the delicious taste of seasonal produce and a combination of textures, not hours of slaving away in the kitchen. Because the taste of the produce matters so much in this recipe, I would not recommend making any time of year except for summer. Nothing can compare to vine-ripened cherry tomatoes and fresh corn at the peak of the season.

This salad is such an easy no-cook recipe, yet it’s such a tremendous hit at summer parties and backyard barbecues that my mom always requests it! Unlike most corn recipes, you don’t have to boil or grill it, simply marinate it (or not). Allowing the tomatoes, corn, and scallions to marinate overnight is purely optional, but it helps soften the raw corn, similar to the process that seafood undergoes in the ceviche-making process.

Tomato, Corn, and Avocado Salad

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 ear corn, husked with skins removed
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Directions:
  1. For each ear of corn, stand it in a bowl and slice downward to release the kernels. Add the tomato, scallion, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Gently toss the salad, then cover it with plastic wrap and allow the salad to marinate in the refrigerator over night. You can skip this, and allow it to marinate for just three hours, or if you’re in a rush, you can skip the marinating altogether.
  3. Up to three hours before serving, add the avocado and more salt, pepper, or lime as desired.
  4. Toss the salad once more, then serve and enjoy!

Eggy Breakfast Muffins

21 May

This weekend was my senior prom and it was pretty perfect. I was so incredibly luck to get to go with my incredible boyfriend of three years, take oodles of photos with my amazing girl friends, wear a 1980’s vintage dream dress, win prom king and queen with Goose, and top it all off with brunch and a trip to the local art show with Goose the next morning. All in all, it was the perfect night.

Now, however, the weekend is over and it’s time to return to the real world. The prospect of waking up to a blaring 6 AM alarm certainly is nowhere as exciting to going to prom with the boy of my dreams, but these little eggy cup help make week day mornings a bit less daunting.

To be perfectly honest, my real reason behind making these egg cups was just to use these adorable Martha Stewart cupcake liners that I found at Michael’s a few days ago. They have cakes and party hats and presents, what’s not to love?

These egg muffins are both adorable and delicious, making hem the perfect way to start any morning. For anyone who struggles to get enough veggies into their daily routine, these are for you! They are as fun and colorful as Lucky Charms, but packed with vitamins from the vegetables and protein from the eggs. These little egg cups are perfect to store in the refrigerator and grab one or two with a piece of toast, fruit, and or a cup of milk for a perfectly balances breakfast on the go. Or if you aren’t going to eat all of them in a week, you can freeze them and save them for later.

I ended up using kale, broccoli, red pepper, and garlic because that’s what I had on hand. I did not end up using the tomato shown because I felt that I had enough veggies already, but feel free to use whatever you want. Mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and almost any other vegetable would also taste great thrown in.

Eggy Breakfast Muffins 

Yield: 12 regular sized muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or cooking spray
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 small crown of broccoli, broken into tiny pieces (feel free to cut the stem into small pieces and use it as well)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 kale leaves, torn into bite sized pieces without the firm inner stems
  • 8 egg whites plus 4 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a regular sized muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners, the cuter the better!
  2. Spray or lightly oil a medium pan, then saute the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add in the broccoli and red pepper and continue to saute for another two or three minutes or until slightly softened.
  3. Next add in the kale along, 3 tablespoons of water, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the vegetables then cover the pan for another two to three minutes for vegetables to soften and the kale to wilt.
  4. Spoon in about two tablespoons of the vegetable mixture into each muffin tin. If you have extra veggies, add them in too or save them for another use.
  5. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, and a bit more salt and pepper. Once combined, pour the eggs over the vegetables.
  6. Bake the eggy muffins for about 20 minutes, or until the tops appear done.
  7. To reaheat, sprinkle the egg muffin with cheese if desired and microwave it for 20-30 seconds. Enjoy!

Homemade Italian Style Vegetable Soup

9 May

The sudden arrival of Spring means two things. One, the weather gets warmer so that frolicking outdoors starts to seem more appealing than slaving away in the kitchen.  Two, the farmer’s markets are full of the freshest, cheapest delicious produce. To take full advantage of the best of both situation, I highly suggest that you make this soup!

Now I know that making soup just as it’s finally starting to get warmer out may seem counterintuitive, but I promise, this really is a good idea… This soup is chock full of delicious vegetables to provide you with energy without weighing you down. By making this soup now, you can have it stored away in your freezer for easy, nutritious meals all summer long. My logic is, stock up now so that you don’t have to think about it later!

Homemade broth

This soup makes a veggie-filled accompaniment to any lunch or dinner. Store it in individually-portioned glass jars in your freezer, so that you can take it out the night before and have a delicious, preservative-free soup ready when you want in.

Mishmash of delicious veggies

This is an incredibly flexible soup to which you can add any vegetables, herbs, or spices that you have on hand. Feel free to add beans and pasta to make it more of a traditional Minestrone. Or top the soup with a bit of pesto to give it a French provincial flavor. You can even substitute the basil, oregano, and thyme for some miso paste and siracha sauce to give it a slightly Asian taste.

Delicious and nutritious and ready to go!

Homemade Italian Style Vegetable Soup

Servings: 8

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of assorted vegetables in less than pristine condition (onions, carrots, celery, bell peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, leeks, ect)
  •  2 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves of garlic, lightly chopped
  • 1-2 sprigs of rosemarry or other herbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 leeks, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen green beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspooon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach or kale, defrosted

Directions

  1. Dump your assorted vegetables, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, and herbs into a large stock pot and fill the pot with enough water to just barely cover the vegetables. With the stove on high, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. In the mean time chop up and prepare all of your vegetables for the soup itself. Use a strainer to remove the vegetables, and then set the remaining vegetable broth aside. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time, you could skip this step altogether and use boxed or frozen vegetable broth.
  2. Using the same stock pot as before, lightly saute your celery, onion, leeks, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add your carrots and zucchini and continue to lightly saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes, green beans, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and broth (from step one).
  4. Allow soup to simmer for 30-45 minutes, then add in the spinach or kale, and allow it to cool for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls and serve (or freeze). Enjoy!

Happy Earth Day and Detoxifying Greens Soup

22 Apr

Happy Earth Day everyone! It seems like in today’s technological world that people have created remedies for everything, even that don’t need cures. Say for example, vitamins. Few people actually need to rely on man-made vitamins, if they simply eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies. Today people have come to rely on vitamin-enriched gummies and cookies for their daily dose of nutrients instead of focusing on the real issue of how to incorporate naturally nutrient-rich foods into their diets.

Caramelizing onions and mushrooms

Greens in the process of wilting

Just one cup of kale fulfills the daily Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K requirements while also providing calcium, iron, protein, fiber, potassium, and many other important,naturally-occuring nutrients. The greek yogurt, lemon juice, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, garlic, and peppers in this soup further enhance its nutritional power.

Non-blended soup

Blended soup

So if you’ve had too much easter candy or indulged in too many baked goods lately, this is the perfect way to get your body back on track the natural way. Of course it’s still fine to take a daily multi vitamin, but try to begin getting most of your nutrients from whole foods rather than man-made compounds. This not only ensures that you get the most out of your meals, but it also is less invasive and wasteful of the planet’s miraculously nutritious foods.

Ready to serve

As a warning, this soup is not for the faint of heart. My mom and Goose looked at it, and could not believe that I was actually enjoying this green concoction. It’s made almost entirely of vegetables, and as a result it looks and tastes like vegetables. I think it’s delicious and comforting. This soup is a delicious combination of bitter, spicy, and tangy tastes.

Detoxifying Greens Soup

Adapted from Stetted

serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 
4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 bunches assorted greens(mustard, komatsuna, mizuna, beet greens, kale, or chard
), chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli, broken into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt

Directions

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic, onions, and mushrooms.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until onions take on a nice brown color, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and increase heat to just bubbling, then add the greens and the broccoli to the soup.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cover the soup. Allow it to cook until the greens have wilted, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Puree soup in a stand blender or with an immersion blender, and return it to heat.
  6. Stir in paprika, cayenne, and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.
  7. Just before serving, add a swirl of yogurt into individual bowls.

Pamper yourself for Spa Week!

16 Apr

Now that the hectic rush of tax day is finally over, treat yourself to a luxurious spa treatment for only $50 during the week-long spa week! Everyday you spend time checking off tedious tasks from your to-do list, so this week give yourself a rest and set aside an hour or two to visit one of the 800 spas across the US that are offering tremendously discounted spa services.

You have from now until Sunday to take full advantage of the amazing deals by scheduling as many luxurious treatments as you want! Simply visit Spaweek.com to see what spas near you are offering promotions this week. This is the perfect time to finally visit that expensive hotel spa or get that long-lasting treatment that you’ve been dreaming of. Participating spas are offering various treatments ranging from your typical hair cuts, facials, massages, mani/pedis, to acupuncture, teeth-whiting, and personal training sessions.

Going to the spa may feel ridiculously indulgent, but seize the opportunity while it’s too cheap to pass up! Going to the spa can have serious mental and physical health benefits. Giving yourself a treat just one day this week can put you in a better mood and increase your general attitude towards others in your life. Massages in particular have been scientifically proven to improve circulation, increase flexibility, reduce blood pressure, relieve tension, decrease depression syndromes, and prevent injury.

If the SpaWeek discounts are not being offered with you, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the wonderful opportunity to give yourself some probably long-overdue pampering. Check out these links for great at-home spa treatments that will cost you next to nothing.

Enjoy! How are you going to treat yourself this week?

Lighten Up with Spring Cleaning

20 Mar

Now that Spring has officially sprung, it’s time to beat those dust bunnies and reclaim the sense of satisfaction that comes from having a clean home. Instead of approaching this annual chore, look at it as a chance to regain balance and control over your own life. There are countless reasons to embrace the tradition of spring cleaning including:

  1. Satisfaction of seeing the clearly apparent toils of your labor. What other task that requires just a few hours of your time gives you benefits that you can see immediately and that you can appreciate everyday?
  2. Release of endorphins from dusting, vacuuming, and making trips back and forth from the dumpster. The physical work of moving is not only a great work out, but also a way to boost your happiness.
  3. Calming effect of walking into a clean house. If seeing toys strewn across the floor and piles of paper filling every surface of the house causes you stress, simply eliminate this unnecessary tension by taking a few minutes to put everything in its right place.
  4. Put your past behind you . Instead of getting stuck in a rut by perpetually reminiscing over memories of past relationships and previous times in your life, chose a few pictures or souvenirs worth displaying, and either donate, throw away, or put into storage the rest of your excess baggage. Instead of allowing these objects to make you dwell on whatever past happiness you’ve lost, focus on the present and creating new memories and experiences.
  5. Allow yourself the time for change. Use this opportunity to repaint your room, refinish your furniture, or finally do whatever home improvement project you’ve been putting off.
  6. Encourage yourself to adopt better habits. Prominently place the materials for whatever aspect of your lift you want to spend more time on, because by seeing them, you will start using them. By forcing yourself to see something daily, you will have many more opportunities to embrace whatever habit you are hoping to establish. This could mean putting your camera by your hand bag, leaving a bowl of fruits and vegetables out on the counter, leaving your journal on your nightstand, or leaving your crafting materials on the top of your desk.

 

Here’s an organizational idea that came to me while I was cleaning up my room. Instead of leaving my art supplies shoved in carious drawers throughout my room, I decided to store all of them in a suitcase near the entrance to my room. By having these materials neatly organized and highly visible, it makes it easier for me to set aside time to get in touch with my creativity.

Portable Art Station 

  1. Round up all of your pens, decorative papers, clay, tape, glue, scissors, and other art supplies from around the house.
  2. Store any materials that you plan to use immediately or on a daily basis in glass or plastic containers so that every time you see them you have to consciously choose whether or not to postpone your latest art idea.
  3. Store you other supplies in an old suitcase. This will not only keeps them neatly organized and compact, but also makes your supplies easily portable in case you feel like getting crafty outside or on the go.
  4. Finally, tie any ribbons you have around the outside of your suitcase, so that they will stay untangled and help to decorate your artsy suitcase. Voila!

Shake Off the Monday Blues with a Chocolatey Antioxidant Kick!

5 Mar

I know that going back to school or work after a weekend of fun is always a bummer. Normally for me Mondays start off with a blaring 6 AM alarm clock to remind me that my weekend bliss is in fact over, and that it is time to return to the tedious world of tests, homework, and project deadlines. This weekend is especially hard for me to return from because I had an extra two days off school while I visited my dream school and had the incredible opportunity to interview for a scholarship and spend time with current architecture students.

Anywho, I decided that this Monday isn’t going to be tiresome or disappointing. I’m going to rely on a few cups of my favorite green tea and a handful of my favorite chocolatey antioxidant mix to brighten my day and start off this week on a good note! I highly recommend splurging on some good green tea because grocery store powdered tea cannot even compare to the taste of high-quality, whole-leaf tea bags. My favorite is the Sencha Uji tea from Lupica. Their tea is so good that top restaurants even serve it! If you are lucky enough to have a Lupica store nearby, you can save some money by buying tea with a blue dot on it, which means that they are discounting the price because it expires within a few months. Here’s an inforgraphic that points out how green tea can induce your work productivity, along with many other benefits in case you need a little more encouragement to treat yourself to a delicious cup of luxurious green tea.

From FrenchSunKiss

Accompany your productivity-enhancing green tea with some happiness-enducing dark chocolate. Indulge your sweet tooth with some dark chocolate with 65% or higher cocoa concentration. Dark chocolate has been scientifically proven to increase the release of serotonin and endorphins. The release of these two chemicals decreases stress and heightens happiness. As it turns out indulging in some chocolate really can make you happier, it’s not just your imagination.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy dark chocolate is by munching on the mouth-watering antioxidant mix created for the Montage spa by Executive Pastry Chef Richard Ruskel. Since clearly we can’t simply go to the spa whenever we are feeling blue, I decided to throw together my own variation of this feel-good mix.

Your regular grocery store may not carry some of these ingredients, but Whole Foods or Trader Joes should have whatever you need.

Realistically you should only have a quarter cup or so of this tasty mix, but if you want to bulk up the serving size of this tasty snack without majorly increasing the cost or the calories, mix it with some air popped popcorn or simple cereal, like Cheerios.

Chocolate, Fruit, and Nut Antioxidant Snack Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups high quality mini chocolate chips (try Guittard or Ghirardelli; Hershey’s probably won’t cut it this time)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
Directions:
  1. Roughly measure out all ingredients and pour them into a mixing bowl
  2. Mix the ingredients together well
  3. Store your snack mix in a cute container that will brighten your day just by looking at it

I hope that with a cup of green tea and some dark chocolate, or whatever fun indulgence you choose, you can start off your Monday on a good note. If you still aren’t feeling it, take a few minutes to jot down one small thing that you are looking forward to each day, or something exciting that is coming up next weekend. By enjoying all of the little things in life, you will find that there is less time to   fall into the trap of the Monday blues.