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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies

As of a few days ago, I have started counting my calories a bit. Nothing extreme, but I am trying to be more conscious of what I'm eating. This means more fruits and veggies, less bread and less sugar.

My body is thanking me, but my brain is not on the same page. I've been having mean sugar cravings! So, I decided to give black bean brownies a try. If you have been on the blogsphere for a while, I'm sure you've heard of these gluten free wonders.

After searching for a low-fat version for a while (there are so many!) I decided to give these Black Bean Avocado Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies. Black beans and avocado? Yes! Of course I switched it up a bit; I didn't have any chocolate chips, so I added some peanut butter and walnuts for texture.

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies (Recipe Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 of a large ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's "Special Dark")
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute of choice
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. Place all ingredients besides chocolate chips into blender or food processor. Process or puree until ingredients form a smooth batter. Pour into prepared pan, swirl in peanut butter and sprinkle nuts on top. 
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out somewhat clean and top of the brownies begin to crack.
  4. Cool pan completely on wire rack then cut into 16 squares.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

ashley goldberg patterns

Really loving Ashley Goldberg's fun and playful patterns. You can visit her blog, flickr, and etsy shop to see more.

Friday, January 25, 2013

juiced up

Around the beginning of the month, I started hearing a lot about juicing. Several bloggers did juice cleanses (like Bri and Anne), Joy shared her love for juicing, my coworkers were talking about it, and I watched the documentary on Hulu, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. I was a skeptic before, but after hearing so much about it, juicing started sounding pretty good! 

Unfortunately, juice cleanses from companies online are expensive. Like, really expensive. Waaayyy out of my budget expensive. So when my dad told me he had a juicer I could borrow, I jumped on it!

I intend on doing a juice cleanse sometime this year. I was hoping to do it this month, but I need to start when I have a few days off work. I have a feeling it might make me bitchy, miserable and tired. I have also heard that some people feel nauseous. These are all things that don't mix well in customer service.

In the mean time, I have been trying to incorporate juice into my everyday diet. It has been fun trying different mixtures of fruits and veggies. So far my favorites things to juice are apples, carrots, mangos, spinach and ginger. Seriously, if you like ginger and have a juicer, juice that ginger up! So yummy.

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? If so, how did it go? I really want to do it, but I'm not sure I have the will power. Also, any juice recipes or fruits/veggies I need to try?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

new culinary endeavors

There are a lot of dishes that I love to eat, but for some reason shy away from making at home. I figure somebody else can make it better, and because of this I get into a bit of a rut when it comes to dinner.

I definitely have my go-tos which include tacos, lasagna, pork chops, soup, and some kind of burger. So when Tommy suggested we make gyros I was pretty excited. I love gyros, why had we never made them?

We bought ourselves a nice little lamb leg and marinated it overnight in wine, olive oil, spices, A1 and worcestershire sauce. The next night we roasted it for a little over and hour at 325. A made some tzatziki with plain yogurt, cucumber juice (from my new juicer!) and seasonings. Pita bread, spinach, tomatoes and feta completed these yummy little greek wraps.

This photo isn't the highest quality, but I just had to share. It was easy, and delicious. Great success! If there is a dish you love to eat but never make at home, give it a try. Maybe it will be better than eating out!

Other dishes I need to attempt (yes, asian dishes intimidate me, haha)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Out and About: The Temple Bar

The Temple Bar is one of my favorite little bars in Bellingham. It's cozy, adorable, and has a great happy hour including a bottle of wine and a cheese plate. While the menu is a bit pricey, the food is high quality and the drink menu offers classics with a twist.

The Temple Bar is the perfect spot for a girls night out, or a drink before dinner. Tommy and I have been many times, and the service has ranged from great to poor. On average, it's definitely on the up. My most recent trip was my best experience yet!

Despite the occasional poor service, I keep coming back thanks to the great cheese plates offering soft and hard cheeses, olives, apples and nuts. All this with a bottle of wine for uner $20? Yup. Count me in.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hoddeok (Korean pancakes with brown sugar filling)

Traditional pancakes are pretty delicious, but these little sugar filled treats are way better (in my opinion, at least). Yes, they are a little more time consuming, but it's so worth it. Brown sugar is placed inside freshly risen dough and fried in butter until the dough is cooked and the sugar has melted into a warm syrup. Yuuum!

The recipe I used came from Maangchi, a really awesome site with tons of great Korean dishes. Maangchi does a great job of photographing every step, and everything looks so delicious! I haven't tried hardly any Korean cuisine before, but I'm excited to try more of her recipes.

Hoddeok (Recipe from Maangchi)

You need:
1 cup warm water
2 cups flour
2 tbs white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1 tbs oil

1/2 cup brown sugar
crushed walnuts (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (I used pumpkin spice) 

Making hoddeok dough:
1. Place 1 cup of lukewarm water into a mixing bowl.
2. Add 2 tbs white sugar, 2 ts yeast, ½ ts salt, 1 tbs vegetable oil, and stir it well.
3. Add 2 cups of all purpose flour and mix it with a rice scoop, or by hand.
4. Let the dough rise. It should sit with the lid closed at room temperature for 1 hour.
5. After an hour the dough will rise to double its size. Knead it to remove the gas bubbles in the dough.
6. Let it rise for another 10-20 minutes.

Make filling (for 8 hoddeok):
Mix ½ cup brown sugar, 1 ts cinnamon powder, and 2 tbs chopped walnuts in a bowl.
*tip: you could use mozzarella cheese for stuffing. Invent your own fillings with your favorite ingredients!

1. Knead the dough again to remove the gas bubbles.
2. Place and spread about ½ cup flour on your cutting board.
3. Put the dough on your cutting board and knead it. Make it into a lump, and cut it into 8 equal-sized balls.

4. Take 1 dough ball, flatten it, put some filling in the center of the dough, and then seal it to make a ball.

Repeat this 8 times to make 8 stuffed balls.

Heat up your non-stick pan over medium heat and add some vegetable oil.
6. Place 1 ball on the pan and let it cook for 30 seconds.
7. When the bottom of the dough ball is light golden brown, turn it over and press the dough with a spatula to make a thin and wide circle (about the size of a CD).
8. Let it cook about 1 minute until the bottom is golden brown.
9. Turn it over again and turn down the heat very low.
10. Serve hot!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

new couch

A week ago I splurged on this beautiful tufted sofa from Urban Outfitters. I'm so, so excited for it to arrive in a few weeks! I'm already dreaming up a whole new living room. 

1. Couch // 2. Lamp // 3 Print by Cathy McMurray // 4. Rug // 5. Bookcase 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mint Marshmallows

Any redditors out there? This year I am attempting to complete the "52 week cooking challenge," on Reddit. Each week is a new theme which may be an ingredient, a type of food, or some kind of inspiration.

Last week was appetizers so I made margherita pastry squares, which were so easy and tasty. But this week's theme was mint, and I was a little stumped. I don't really like mint that much, except for in a cocktail. :)

I started thinking candy, and then it hit marshmallows! All the recipes I found used peppermint extract, but I chose the natural route and used mint leaves. I had never made marshmallows before, but Martha's recipe was really easy. It deserves extra points because I didn't need to buy a candy thermometer.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

You Need:
Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 10-15 mint leaves
  • Confectioners' sugar, sifted, for coating


  1. Lightly spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Dust pan with powdered sugar, making sure to coat the sides as well; set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup,  1/4 cup water and mint leaves. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and strain mint leaves. With the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into gelatin mixture. Add approximately 5 finely chopped mint leaves into mixture, if desired. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes.*
    *Having your beater on for 12 minutes may cause your cat to be really annoying wonderfully curious.
  3. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray. Spread gelatin mixture evenly into pan using prepared spatula or lightly wet hands. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours or overnight. 
  4. Carefully remove marshmallows from pan. Remove all plastic wrap and discard. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares using a sprayed sharp knife. Place confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl and toss to coat.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

PNW love: Ferries

It's no secret that I love Washington, and the Pacific Northwest in general. So I thought I would start making posts explaining this love I have. And so, "PNW love" is born.

When I was little, my grandma lived on Whidbey Island, which required a ferry ride to get to.  Going to grandma's house was always fun (and we would get tater tots on the ferry!), so this is probably where my love of ferries stems from. I haven't had to ride a ferry in a while until recently, but I'm so glad I did! I kinda forgot how much I liked them.

What's so special about riding a ferry? Well, for me it brings back memories, but it's also very calming. I love going up to the top and just standing next to the rail to smell the ocean, feel the wind, and watch the ferry cut through the water. So beautiful.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Margherita Pastry Squares

Pastry dough is a pretty amazing thing. It's convenient, delicious and you can use it so many ways! In my opinion, the best way to use pastry dough is to pair it with cheese. Any cheese really, and a few fresh ingredients.

These little pastry presents are amazing right out of the oven, but make a great lukewarm, kinda-dinner with some wine. I would also highly recommend bringing them to a football get together. Among all the chips and dip, you're gonna look so sophisticated.

A little off topic, this is what my kitty does when I do anything on the counter. He is so flippin curious, it drives me crazy sometimes. I'm constantly pushing, throwing, shoving, and nudging him off the counter with a firm, "NO." He doesn't care at all. He doesn't even care about the water bottle anymore. It's all worth it to him in order to get just a little nibble or smell of food. Ultimately I just put him in the laundry room, but gaaahhhh, heeeelllp. Does your cat do this? How can I make him stop?

Anyway. Cheesy, bready tomatoey goodness.

You Need:
One package frozen square pastry dough, thawed
Fresh basil
Cheese (This is kinda up to you. I used both mozzarella and an herbed monterey jack, and both were great. Goat cheese would probably be ah-maz-zing.)
Cherub tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice tomatoes into small slices (about 3 or 4 per tomato). Mix with a dash of salt, fresh pepper, and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
2. Put a small amount of floor on counter, and roll out pastry dough. I used a rolling pin to roll our my dough just a little.
3. Cut dough into three strips horizontally and vertically, resulting in 9 square pieces.
4. Place a small amount of cheese in center of pastry square, followed by about a half leaf of basil, and a few tomato slices (I used about 4 or 5 per pastry).
5. Whisk egg in small bowl. Pull corner of the pastry towards center, place small amount of egg wash in corner, and fold over the diagonal corner. Place drop of egg wash, and fold over remaining corners.

6. After all pastries are folded, place on cookie sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Some may open a little, or the cheese may melt out. But don't worry, they are all unique snowflakes!
7. Devour.

Friday, January 4, 2013

sister style

Dress: Nordstrom
Flannel: Target
Jacket: Guess
Tights: Forever 21
Shoes: Nine West

I have been living the good life for the past few days. No work for eight days, it's been great. I've been staying up late, rolling out of bed, making breakfast, reading Gone Girl (just finished it yesterday, so good), cooking, watching Parks and Rec, and overall just enjoying myself. This is the life I was meant to lead! Haha. 

Amber came up on Wednesday, and she looked super cute as always so I had to snap a few photos. We went and ate some Thai food with Tommy, and then huddled together for warmth in my freezing house. Yes, heater is not working again. So frustrating. 

Today I'm heading down to Bremerton to visit my two good friends, Brittney and Megan. We haven't seen each other since the summer, so I'm really excited to catch up. It will be a great way to end my week of laziness and fun! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mission 2013

image via pinterest, originally pinned here. 

This year, I'm keeping it simple when it comes to goals for the new year. It's a lot of work to be better in every way in only a year. I mean, com'on, big changes in every domain of your only 365 days? Very difficult to accomplish. I don't mean to be a negative Nancy here, just trying to be realistic. 

I have plenty of things I want to accomplish in the new year  including taking a trip outside Washington, completing a juice cleanse, reading more, and Netflix-ing less. But the one goal I'm going to put on the front burner and really focus on is to be more organized. It's gonna happen. I even bolded, italicized and underlined the word "organized" for goodness sake. That means it's a serious goal. 

It's gotten a bit out of hand. I feel like certain areas of the house (my room in particular) experiences tiny explosions about every three days that I am constantly recovering from. I clean up, get kinda organized and then in three days the space is back to mini-disaster status. 

My plan is to first get my room under control. I need to donate things I don't wear, throw away things I don't use, and organize things I want to keep. This will mean investing in some bins, shelves, hooks and other organizing gadgets. Then, the kitchen, living room and my car. Yikes. this could take a while.