Friday, September 20, 2013

Goodbye Summer, Hello School

Good evening everybody! Or perhaps good day? Or good morning? I try to recognize all potential readers (hello international readers). It's that time of year again, when summer is dwindling and fall is fast approaching. I move into my apartment for school this Sunday and my feeling is bittersweet. I really miss all of my friends up at school and am looking forward to living in an apartment. However, this is my senior year and my major is psychology. So, I am not looking forward to psychology 24/7. I am not looking forward to professor's lecturing about APA citation and how important it is to italicize the name of the psychology article NOT bold it. Compelling stuff, huh? But I won't complain because I am trying to remind myself that this schooling is a means to help me get to where I want to be. This summer went by so fast, it's crazy. My sister got married, I took a short trip to Portland, I cooked a lot, I baked a lot, I did a lot of yoga, I did a lot of bike riding and I did a lot of gardening. All in all, not a bad summer:) I am going to really try to update more recipes once the weather starts cooling down. Recently, it has been pretty warm in Seattle and so I am trying this new thing called, "not turning on the oven so that my house doesn't feel like a sauna". Let me tell you, this requires a lot of control. A lot of control. But I persevered and channeled my urge to bake over to organizing. I can now say that all of my colored pencils are very nicely arranged, my desk paperweights are placed exactly apart from one another and my carpet is well vacuumed. Success! But please stay tuned for many fall inspired recipes! I checked out a bunch of cookbooks from the library and copied down all of the recipes that sparked my interest, many of which were stews, soups and pumpkin-y things....oh crap, I should probably return those books soon...Anyways, I wish you all a wonderful weekend!
P.S. I don't really have any pictures to share with you, but I will leave you with some clips to my new favorite show, "The Soup". Your welcome;)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies-Healthy and Vegan

I am back from a weekend in Portland and I had a wonderful time! My parents and I left Saturday morning and arrived late afternoon. The intent of this trip was to simply get out and explore and so none of us had anything planned. Fortunately, I had researched vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Portland a few days before and made a list of places I wanted to try. The thing is, the food that I want to eat (vegan/sometimes raw/always healthy) isn't necessarily the food my parents want to eat. My parents always honor my food choices, but they aren't always jumping up and down for "raw, vegan pad Thai" if you know what I mean. As we were closely approaching Portland, my parents asked me, "So where do you want to go in Portland, and what do you want to do?" I responded with, "I just want to explore and I want to eat at nice restaurants and shop around". I was really thinking, "I want to eat at vegan restaurants and buy some hip clothes made out of recycled materials", but I restrained my inner hippie. I told my parents that as I was looking up places to go, I noticed a lot of restaurants were located on Alberta Street. Alberta Street here we come! Let me tell you, Alberta Street did not disappoint. I mean, any place that has the words "Go Vegan" with a heart written around it is my kind of place. My parents even liked it too; it also had a lot of wine shops and art galleries. We decided to eat lunch at a restaurant called, "Le Petite Provence". It wasn't vegan but my parents promised to buy me a vegan baked good. It's all about compromise. I had a quinoa tabbouleh salad with fresh bread and farmer's cheese:) Later, we walked around and I got a really good juice from this small juice stand and this amazing vegan brownie from a gluten free-plant based bakery!...Can I move here?! Later that night, we drove into Cannon Beach because we were staying at my dad's friend's house. The house was so adorable that I made the comment, "I want this house! I have to get my career going ASAP so I can make some money!" On Sunday, we spent most of the day in the car, taking the long way back home to see different parts of Washington State. We all had a great time and I loved exploring a new part of Portland. I was happy to be back home, but I was still thinking about one thing. That brownie. That amazing brownie. So fudgy and filled with bits of dark chocolate and cocoa nibs. I looked up the bakery on the Internet to see if maybe they had the recipe for the brownie online...hey, you never know until you try, right? Of course, I couldn't find it, so I resolved to make something else with cocoa nibs and I stumbled upon this recipe from the blog "Oh She Glows" for "Irresistible Chewy Trail Mix Cookies". I was sold on the recipe when I saw the extensive healthy ingredient list. As I was making these cookies, I was thinking, "I really hope that these turn out good and that my parents will eat them." Well, let me tell you, my dad took one bite and said, "Mmmm!! These are so good!" Score. Vegan cookie:1 vs Unhealthy cookie: 0.
The recipe for these cookies can be found here:
I followed the recipe except I didn't have any raw nut butter on hand and substituted applesauce. They still turned out great! Not too sweet, moist and chewy!

Picture Time!

At "Le Petite Provence"

Lunch at "Le Petite Provence"


Juice Truck Menu

Excuse my face, it was kind of windy

Los galletas!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

On the Road Again...

On the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again. The life I love is making music with my friends. And I can't wait to get on the road again. I am currently occupying my time watching the TV program, "Spain on the Road Again" and Willie Nelson's song is on repeat in my head. Watching "Spain on the Road Again" makes me fantasize about moving to Spain after falling in love with a handsome Spanish man and spending my time tending to my garden and winery and raising my two kids. One day it will day. Anyways, speaking of "on the road", this weekend my parents and I are taking a weekend trip to Portland. Although we are not going anywhere exotic or international, I love little weekend trips. They are the perfect way to adventure without getting homesick. Since the drive to Portland will take a few hours, I figured it would be wise if I made something to snack on for the drive there. I had remembered buying a small bag of poppy seeds at World Market a few weeks ago, and so I decided to make Lemon Poppy seed Bread. A classic. My high school used to sell these giant lemon poppy seed muffins in the morning and whenever I saw somebody eating them, I would just stare because it looked so good. You may ask, "Why didn't you just buy one Marissa?" Well, I will tell you, it was very simple. I never had cash on me. However, this bread will definitely make up for lost times. Plus it's made a little healthier with the addition of whole wheat flour and non-fat Greek yogurt! Oh and I also wanted to share with you all the recipe for this baked pasta that I made for dinner last night. It was, as my friend Katie would say, "Yums". It was baked pasta with roasted vegetables and three cheeses. A mouthful but totally delicious. 

Lemon Poppy seed Bread
(Recipe credit to: I followed the recipe exactly except that I also added about 1 teaspoon of almond extract. I love almond flavor with lemon poppy seed bread.

For the Baked Pasta, the recipe was by Giada de Laurentiis, and here is the link:

Oh and p.s., I recently made home made thin mints and my mom took them to work with her. She told me that they were a big hit and that people wanted the recipe. Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of them, but I will certainly share the recipe! They truly tasted like Thin Mints!

And now pictures!!!!

Beautiful Fuchsia's in our garden! We call the hummingbird that feeds off of it, "Jack", after the wonderful Mr. Jack Johnson:)

Bread with marmalade

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Our eggplant in our garden is finally coming in! Can't wait to cook with it!

Oh p.p.s.! Since I am going to Portland this weekend, I would love to receive comments about suggestions on where to go/eat. So excited!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Apple Crisp

I always do this. I always yearn for fall and winter when it's summer and yearn for summer when it's fall and winter. I guess it's all about wanting what you can't have. Although I must admit that this summer in Seattle has been beautiful, there is a large part of me that longs for rainy days and cuddling up near the fire while drinking tea or warm cider. Yesterday, my mom and I drove to one of Seattle's nicest parks (Discovery Park) and had a pic-nic and hike. It was wonderful. The sun was out but the air was beginning to turn chilly and the yellow and red leaves were falling like snowflakes. My mom and I (self-proclaimed hippies) both made the statement, "It's beginning to smell like fall." (Don't judge, you know that fall time has a smell). My dad has been out of town for the past week and so it has just been mi madre and I. Mommy and me time was spent cooking together, shopping together and watching The Godfather series together. My dad returns home tonight and I thought a great way to welcome him back home as well as to celebrate the beginning of fall would be to bake him an apple pie. Now, if you should know one thing about me, it would be that I love pie. Like really love pie. However, I have to admit that I love crisps more. I think it's also because crisps are very's really hard to mess up a crisp. So, I was thinking about which apple pie recipe I should use when I figured that a crisp would be much better. I decided to be gutsy and utilize some experimentation. I did not use a recipe for this crisp, I simply made it up. I consider myself a modest person, but I must say, this crisp is delicious. Plus, it's healthy and vegan! Double whammy! Or I guess triple whammy? So if there is anybody out there that also suffers from "always wanting the other season" syndrome, here is a wonderful apple crisp to fulfill your cravings. Dig in!

Healthy Apple Crisp
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or as much as you desire, I firmly believe you can never have too much cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (at room temperature)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9 by 15 inch pan and set aside.
2) Combine the apple slices, sugar, honey, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in large bowl and set aside.
3) Mix together the oats, almond flour, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. Add in the coconut oil and mix together the coconut oil with the other ingredients using your hands until the coconut oil is thoroughly incorporated.
4) Pour the apple mixture into the pan and top evenly with the oat/coconut oil mixture. As an option, you can also take about a tablespoon of earth balance and sprinkle little bits over the top to make for a nice browned top.
5) Bake the crisp for 40 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.
6) Enjoy with some vegan coconut milk ice cream, pumpkin spice candles and Ella Fitzgerald music. Not necessary but highly recommended.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lavender Orange Granola

I have been wanting to get my hands on some culinary lavender for a while now. This weekend, my parents and I were on our way to the Indian Festival in Redmond (I know, another festival, but families that festival together stay together), and we stopped at a lavender farm. We were instantly charmed by this farm, just picture beautiful rows of vibrant lavender and families gathering around picking some lavender for themselves. The farm had a gift shop and they were selling some wonderful culinary lavender. I had to get it. I decided to make lavender granola. Although I plan on making something more elaborate with the lavender one day, I have been wanting to try lavender granola for months now! The recipe for the granola is the same one I posted earlier but I added a tablespoon of edible lavender buds, added some raw cashews and about 1/2 teaspoon of orange oil. All I can say is that the smell of the granola as it was baking was incredible. Every time I smell lavender, I instantly think of my trip to Provence. What is better than when your breakfast cereal transports you to France?! I am looking forward to experimenting with additional lavender flavor combinations. I did lavender orange for this granola, but I bet lavender lemon, lavender honey and lavender hazelnut would also be awesome! I realized that the reason I love baking so much is because it is the perfect combination of science and art. The science part comes from the precision of ingredients and it is true that sometimes recipes turn out to be disasters (remember that 2 pound brown sugar cake that I made mom). However, once you get a grip on the correct proportion of ingredients, then you can start being creative and makeover recipes to become one of a kind. Often, I hear many people say that they don't like baking because it is too difficult, but I invite all you with a baking phobia to just experiment and not take it too seriously. Plus, if and when you succeed, you can tell people, "Pshh yeah, I made that recipe up." You will look like a very cool cat. Oh, p.s. I just bought some cocoa nibs, so stay tuned for a recipe with those!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good Ol' Banana Bread and Some Homemade Jam, In Case Your Bread Gets Lonely

Hello friends!!! I'm back!! Sorry for the long delay between posts...I wish I had a good excuse like, "I have been volunteering" or "I just came back from Italy", but really my excuse is that I have been obsessed with the new show, "Orange is the New Black" on Neflix. And crocheting. I like crocheting. But this show is so good, and I am so bummed that I have to wait a whole year for the next season. Damn you Netflix! But you want to know the good thing about not updating a post in a while?! I have a lot of interesting tid-bits to share. The first being that I recently got a postcard in the mail from my friend Nicole, and it was the best postcard ever received. Nicole is one of those high energy, super hilarious people and I am so lucky to call her a friend. Nicole has been traveling to Sydney and Indonesia this summer and she sent me a postcard from Sydney. On the back of the postcard she wrote..."All the street signs in Sydney are delightfully stern-'Do the right thing, put your rubbish in the bin!' They are all quite matronly and emphatic. They also take the preservation of their local agriculture VERY seriously. They wouldn't let me bring my dried mangoes off the plane. I was stopped by Pickles, the police beagle, who wears a tiny red vest and sniffs bags for fruity concoctions." I love this girl. And on another note, maybe this was one of those "you had to be there" kind of things, but the other day I was taking my two dogs out for a walk. Now normally, I won't walk both my dogs by myself because they are a lot to handle, but that day I was feeling gutsy. Well, as we were walking, one of my dogs decided that it would be a good time to know what I mean. Grudgingly, I picked it up with a bag and tied the bag to my dog's collar (my mom's trick, in her own words, "She chose to do it, so now she has to carry it"). So my dogs and I were continuing to walk when I noticed the bag wasn't attached to my dogs collar anymore. The bag had fallen off a couple yards back into the middle of the street...and a car was coming towards it. So I ran as fast as I could with my dogs as I was yelling (excuse my French) "All of this for a stupid bag of s***!" Luckily, I got the bag in time before the car ran over it and secured it onto my dogs collar again. At first, I was livid, but then I just burst out laughing. So I know talking about know, is kind of gross on a food blog of all things, but the point to my story is that in sticky situations, you can either get mad and let it bring you down, or you can laugh at the humor in it. The people in my neighborhood probably think I'm weird though. Anyways, thank you for enduring my rambling. I had to share that story. And now the recipe. I love banana bread. I have yet to meet a single American that doesn't like banana bread. It's like mac n' cheese, super comforting. I whipped up a batch of banana bread that is much healthier and still very delicious, and its vegan!
Banana Bread (Recipe adapted from My New Roots)
1/4 cup almond milk
6 tablespoons of coconut oil
6 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups mashed ripe banana's (approximately 5 medium banana's)
2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
A large handful of dried unsweetened coconut chips (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Line the bottom of an 8''x 8'' cake pan with parchment paper and coat the parchment with oil.
3) Put the milk, oil, honey, vanilla and banana's in a blender and blend until smooth.
4) In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add banana mixture and combine using as few strokes as possible. Fold in nuts, chocolate and coconut.
5) Pour into prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. My loaf took around 65 minutes to cook completely, but I would set the timer for an hour and then add more time as needed (usually takes around 60 to 75 minutes to be cooked all the way through).
6) Enjoy!!!

I also made some homemade jam to go along with the banana bread. I am not going to post a recipe for my jam because I would not say that I am an expert jam maker by any means, and I am still experimenting when I make it. However, I will make a few notes about what I put in my jam. I bought a flat of both raspberries and blueberries and made raspberry and blueberry jam. For each flat, I added a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of pectin. I also added a vanilla bean, the zest and juice of an orange and a splash of Grand Marnier liquor. I cooked each jam for about an hour and a half until it had thickened enough where it was sticking to the spoon but still a bit runny.
*A good trick I learned is to put a plate into the freezer for a while and to test if your jam is thick enough, to put a small amount of your jam on the plate, and if the jam holds it shape as you tilt the plate, its done.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Don't Worry

Hello all! I just wanted to reassure you that I have not forgotten about this blog:) I have a lot of recipes to post but it's simply a matter of organization. So please stay tuned for more! The good thing about having a food blog is that you get to make a lot
of food and call it "research". The other day I went to the library and checked out three giant cookbooks. When I went to go pick up some coffee, the Batista told me "Have a good day, and happy studying!" as I was gripping three giant cookbooks in my arms. I didn't have the courage to tell her that they were just cookbooks, but later I thought to myself that cookbooks were my form of studying. So yes, thank you nice Starbucks Batista, I will be happily studying! On a final note, who knew that Washington state had so many festivals?! Last weekend, I went to three festivals in one weekend: the Bastille Day Festival, the festival in International District and the Seafood Feast in Ballard (which was not very seafood-y at all; they had fried alligator on a stick?..) And the festivals have yet to come to a close, this weekend I am going to the Strawberry Festival in Vashon Island. I requested that my family and I go to the mushroom festival but my mom was not too excited about the idea. I don't know why, it's a festival about mushrooms...that's awesome to me! Anyways...I hope you all are having fun in the sun, and especially to all you Washingtoni-ians, make sure you get your Vitamin D! I will leave you with some random pictures:)

Blackberry Bushes
University of Washington Campus...Janani Arangan, you know when this was

My bed has been taken over by my cats

Pensive at the lake

Friday, July 12, 2013

Swiss Chard Pasta

One of the many things that I love about Washington state is the selection of farmer's markets. In Orange County, I remember there was only one farmer's market that was located near the grocery store my mom shopped at. The only thing I remember of that farmer's market was the stand that sold really good rum cakes with bows and flowers wrapped around them. My mom sometimes let me pick out the cake I wanted and I would always go for the one that had the nicest ribbon. Okay so maybe I am a little bit more mature now (I still like nice ribbon though) but I have fallen in love with the farmer's market scene. All the beautiful produce, the food and ice cream trucks and the conversations between customer and seller. I love it all. Yesterday, my dad and I went to the Bellevue Thursday Farmer's Market, and I had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I wasn't able to take pictures (Damn!). I like to think of myself as a good little shopper, and for twenty dollars I bought a bag of fresh basil, two heads of kale, a seeded baguette and a three pound bag of cherries. I figured the baguette would go well with the Swiss chard pasta I was planning to make for dinner that night. I picked the Swiss chard from my garden as well as some of my Italian parsley and used it for a Swiss Chard pasta that has red onions, wine, tomatoes, kalamata olives, walnuts and pecorino. It was so good! Alongside the pasta I made a romaine and kale salad that had flaked almonds, raisins, chopped red bell pepper, olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar. I also cut up the baguette, and rubbed a garlic clove on each slice and drizzled some olive oil on top and baked the pieces in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes (nice crunchy garlic toasts). For dessert? Some of the sweet cherries that I got at the farmer's market.
Swiss Chard Pasta (Recipe from Giada de Laurentiis)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 bunches of Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with their juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I like spicy so I used around 1/2 teaspoon)
Salt and pepper
Whole wheat spaghetti (I used Barilla Multi grain Angel hair-It was perfect)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
2 Tablespoons pecorino
2 Tablespoons pine nuts (I used some toasted walnuts instead)
1) Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the onions and saute until tender (about 8 minutes). Add the chard and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, wine and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cover and simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
2) In the meantime, cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente (about seven minutes).
3) When the pasta is done, drain it and transfer it to a big bowl. Add the Swiss chard mixture on top and add the olives, walnuts and pecorino. Mix well and serve.
*I sprinkled some chopped Italian parsley on top (yum-tastic)
Seeded Baguette

Colorful Swiss Chard

Final Product

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Too Good to Pass Up...

Rosemary in garden

Basil in my garden (all garden pics taken by my dad)

I'm back! And I have something wonderful to share with you all! Today I was making myself lunch, and the components of my lunch just came together beautifully and I felt like I had to post it. I had made myself some potato tacos last night and had some left over roasted potatoes. I also hard boiled some eggs and found some veggies lying in my fridge. So I put together a makeshift salade nicoise. Yesterday, I bought a bottle of fig balsamic vinegar (my new obsession, so sweet and rich), and I drizzled some of that along with some extra virgin olive oil on top of my salad. For the final touch, I added a small amount of herbed goat cheese. So simple and yet so delicious. For dessert, I cut up a ripe peach and drizzled some honey and sliced almonds on top. The lovely Mireille Guiliano, author of the book "French Women Don't Get Fat" has inspired me to adopt a French approach to cooking and eating. I experimented with veganism for a short period, and although I felt healthy, I also felt deprived. I remember having breakfast one morning and I got the strongest craving for eggs, and as I saw others eating their scrambled eggs and cheese, I was jealous of them. Then I thought, "This is crazy! If you want to eat those things, then you should. Eggs and cheese are not bad for you. Just like everything else, they are beneficial in moderation. This is the French approach that Mireille writes about, "the French way of enjoying those foods that can be friend or foe depending on how we treat them. The keys are sensory awareness, portion sense, quality, and an eye to the big picture of overall wellness". She also says, "If you really enjoy something, as I adore chocolate, there is a place for it in your life." And so I went back to being just a vegetarian, and although the majority of my diet is vegan, I find that when I no longer have that label of "vegan", I am much happier; there is no restriction to what I can and cannot eat. I think many people today focus on what they should and should't eat, and I have been trying to move myself away from that mindset. It is more important to focus on how food nourishes your body and looking at the benefits rather than the negatives. After all, food should feed the body as well as the soul. I enjoyed my lunch in the peace and quiet of my backyard/garden. Pure bliss. So in the words of Jamie Oliver, "If your gonna eat three meals a day, you might as well be good at it and make the most of it." So go out there and have a fan-tabulous lunch!
Marissa's Makeshift Salade Nicoise
2 hard boiled eggs
Small handful of fresh haricots verts
Small handful of chopped sweet red bell pepper
About 2 tablespoons of chopped red onion
Shredded fresh Romaine lettuce
Roasted Potatoes (Roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 375 for 40 minutes)
Small crumble of herbed goat cheese
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil