One Pot Tomato and Arugula Farro

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In keeping with the spirit of this recipe (quick and easy), I will keep this post short and sweet. It has been such a wonderful whirlwind of a week... I got proper catch up time with two beautiful friends--Aarthi and Lindsay. Aarthi was able to stay with us for a few nights midweek and take our new guest bedroom for a spin. We had lots of laughs and ate out at some really swish new restaurants in town. I believe I gave her a taste of the sweet, sweet suburban life. Then, my New York, Tuesday-Night-Local-Dive-Bar (TNLDB) friend Lindsay came to visit over the weekend and we got to take the ol' grill out for a test drive. Verdict? Pure, unadulterated perfection. I can't be certain, but you may see some grill-friendly recipes coming your way... 

All in all, lots of laughs and no kitchen time = a restorative little breakey break.

You know how terrible it is to go back to work the Monday after a vacation? Total jolt to the system. This recipe, this recipe is not like that. This little ditty is the perfect way to ease back into the cookery. One pot. Zero rolling of the shirt sleeves. Couldn't be easier. Throw a bunch of ingredients on the stove. Check email. Peruse Facebook. Serve. Enjoy. 

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10 Minute Cilantro Lime Shrimp

A week of thanks, bloody work, mishaps and balancing acts.

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What a week. Car accidents on both sides of the family (everyone is thankfully okay, despite both cars being totaled). Crazy busy work that bled far into the weekend. And, to top it all off, my jet setting sis boarded a plane to the Philippines, only to wake up having landed inexplicably in Hong Kong. Which, quick Googling confirms, is most definitely not in the Philippines. Without luggage. Without explanation. These trials and tribulations are only balanced by the fact that I won the family March Madness bracket. Whoop.

On another note, this weekend was most absolutely a Spring stunner. Warm breezes, birds chirp chirp chirping, smell of flowers in the air. One of those weekends that inspire boy meets girl/love at first sight romcom scenes. Not the type where after 45 minutes you learn that the guy is a afraid to love, and the girl is a manipulative—albeit well dressed—psychopath. No. Weekends like these are for starry eyed, Ferris wheel riding, lovey dovey soul mates.

We tried to get outside as much as possible, but given the aforementioned work drowning, it was a bit of a challenge. Tradeoffs were made. Cooking lost.  

But! Silver linings...

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5 Minute Granola "Crack" Bars

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Sometimes I sit at my desk and my mind drifts away from fraud operations, Porter’s Five Forces and wargaming the crap out of the competition. It wanders to hefty thoughts like, did I remember to close the garage door when I left this morning, and are my hands starting to look old and craggily, and why is our grocery bill getting so big?

Grocery expenditures have been getting seriously out of control. Totally bunk. I’ve narrowed down to a few root causes, one of which is this…granola bars. They’re so handy, and transportable, and quick and easy. They’re pretty much perfection, except they’re crazy expensive and filled with junk. But other than that…two thumbs up.

And so. In a fit of mid-day inspiration, I knew that I wanted to make them better. I wanted to keep the quick, easy and portable part, while making them healthier and easier on the wallet. And so, without further ado, let me introduce you to 5 Minute Granola “Crack” Bars.

These bars tick all the important boxes: quick (5 minutes!), easy (just mix + spread, done and done!), healthy (oats + nuts + almond butter + fruit = healthy heart, body and soul!), and trendy (agave, cacao nibs, and chia seeds to boot!). Wait, what’s that you ask? Oh yes. And they taste even better than the store bought ones. High praise coming from my husband who is a granola and power bar connoisseur, eating sometimes as many as 14 store bought bars a week. He tried one bite of these bars, and has never looked back. They are kind of like crack, I tell you. Hence the name. Calling it like I see it.

The other great thing about this recipe? It’s fully customizable. Think of it as a palette from which you can make 10,000 variations. You don’t like agave? Use maple syrup. You don’t like almond butter? Use peanut butter. Don’t like cherries? Try dried blueberries, goji berries, strawberries, apricots. Want it sweeter? Add coconut and mini dark chocolate chips. Have some more time on your hands? Toast the oats first for some added depth. If you can dream it, it can be. Alright, alright, alright.

Let me bottom line this for you: These bars are pretty magical and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as we do. Let me know what you think in my brandy new comment boxes at the bottom of the posts.

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A Tangy Greens + Grains Salad

#30daysofnostress

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Lately, I have been trying to slough off of the things in my life that don’t serve me. Stress, anxiety, fear. Poison oak.  Things that don’t raise me up.

You know, it’s funny. I went on a hike with my sister in law who was visiting from Raleigh this past weekend, and we were talking about the "happy when" trap. You know, “I’ll be happy when…”  I’ll be happy when I get the job, the boy, the promotion, the fancy shoes, the house with the yoga/ guest room. 

I’ve told myself these little stories over the years. Now I have all those things (well, maybe not the fancy shoes…), and… still I am grasping towards some rosier future state. Funny, non? Still stress, anxiety, fear, shlug. Did I mention poison oak? 

And so, my goal for the next month is to just get rid all the stuff that doesn’t serve. Just let it go. My favorite yoga instructor always tells us that you don't have to believe everything you feel.  You don't have to identify with everything you think. Redirect, refocus, re-write the story. 30 days of no stress. Hashtag. (I am on a self actualization journey and trendy/hip to the social medias. That's just how I roll.)

This salad wont help you become more self-actualized. Sorry. But, it is very very very good. It’s my favorite, in fact. I have been making it on the regular these past few months, and it never fails to make my day. The first time I tried it, I just knew I had to share it with you. I tried to capture it a few (dozen) times, but the photos all came out so dull that I was worried you wouldn’t try it, and that would make me sad. It got to stressing me out. A great salad, and I couldn’t share it! If you can do something to brighten up someone’s day, shouldn’t you? So, in honor of #30days, I gave the photos my best shot, and am posting them anyway. Whatever, whatever if they don’t quite summon up the same holy-cow-this-salad-rocks-my-lunch vibe that I know is in there. The salad is good. And, it’s another portable lunchbox salad. So, maybe, just try it?

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Gingery Carrot Spring Soup

Our move is done, spring has sprung, and all is right in the world.

I am head over heels for the vernal equinox, the promise of spring. The world’s in balance, night and day are equal, and there’s the promise of only more daylight to come. It’s been said that on the equinox—only on the equinox—the world is in such balance that an egg can stand on end. Imagine! Give it a try (let me know if it works).

A lesser known fact is that today the International Day of Happiness is celebrated across the world! In 2012, United Nations instituted a day of happiness, giving a nod to the importance of happiness and well-being as universal goals. How awesome is that? Huge fan, over here.

So, if you follow the plot, the world is in balance, eggs may or may not stand on end, and people around the world are pursuing happiness. The finishing touch? A light, gingery carrot spring soup to gently ease you into spring and leave a smile on your face.

Another carrot soup, you say? You guys. This one is different! The ginger and thyme-infused broth add a surprising and delightful depth and just a touch of heat. The game has been upped. It makes the perfect spring lunch that will leave you feeling all lightness and happiness inside. And, maybe it’s just me, but ginger actually makes me happy. The taste, the smell...instant mood lifter.

What else can I tell you? With only 6 ingredients (save pantry staples), this recipe is a solid testament to how good simple can taste. 

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Buckwheat Pancakes + Blueberry Pucker Sauce

Let’s talk Sunday morning traditions. Growing up, every Sunday my dad took my sis and me out to the Donut Shoppe for breakfast. We’d all three of us sit in a row at the counter, proper diner-style, and go to town…chocolate milk and Boston Cream donuts galore. It was all smiles and stool spins and mad yums.

I love Sunday morning traditions, and have had many different flavors of them over the years, from Sunday morning cafeteria brunches in college to New York, where it was yoga at Jivamukti followed by a well-earned, mind-blowingly good bagel at Ess-a-Bagel.

And now, in California, a new tradition… Blueberry Pancake Sunday. It's become a huge, much-anticipated to-do in our house. It started out as a bare bones venture--Bisquick + frozen blueberries. From there, it elevated into something a tad more swish—white pancake batter, from scratch (it’s not that hard, silly). But this Sunday, things got crazy-wild. Let me introduce you to Buckwheat Pancakes and Blueberry Pucker Sauce.

These pancakes are awesome, an A+ taste profile all the way. The sauce is all warm and gooey in your mouth, cut by the subtlest trace of lemony goodness. But anyone can make a tasty pancake breakfast. The fake-out is that this one is actually good for you! I know! The hubs hasn’t even yet realized that he’s eating “healthy” pancakes. I won’t tell if you won’t. (Please don’t tell.)

How is it so healthy? Glad you asked...

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Multi Vegetable Paella

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Two things.

First, I want to share a new word I recently stumbled across: 

Cockalorum: A self-important little man.

And with that, my life is complete! I’ve already used it once (to great effect).

Second—big news! The hubs and I are moving. Into a real, live house! Whooooop. To this former New York City-300-square-foot-studio apartment-living girl, moving to a house with proper rooms and a yard is pretty fantastical. We will we have a patio + ginormous deck with sweeping views of majestic rolling hills. These days we go to sleep dreaming of a grill (the hubs), and lounge chairs and bonfires (me). We’ll also have extra rooms (with doors!) such that we can assign each space a very specific purpose. Enter the Study and the Guest Room – slash—Yoga Studio. Of course, we don’t have any furniture to fill any of these rooms, so their exact allure may be lost on the casual observer. But still.

In preparation for the move, I launched a Clean Out Campaign, clearing the apartment of the year’s detritus. And that, my friends, is when I saw it… a beautiful glass cylinder of saffron! What can I say? It was like striking gold! Literally. Saffron is one of the world’s most $$$ spices. A single measly ounce can cost over $300; a pound weighs in at a cool $5,000.

Now, before you go into sticker shock, chew on this: Saffron comes from the crocus stigma, each one collected by hand. It takes 210,000 stigmas (70,000 flowers) to yield one single pound of saffron. Wha!? The vast majority of saffron comes from small family farms in Spain, where harvesting practices have essentially remained unchanged for thousands and thousands of years. Picture whole families working together, side by side, united in a common purpose, surrounded by fields of beautiful purple flowers, heads bent towards the earth, pulling tiny stigma’s out of each and every crocus.

If that romantical image doesn’t win you over, I offer you this: you can buy saffron in absurdly minuscule quantities, so it doesn’t break the bank. A little goes a very long way....

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Smokey Beetroot Hummus

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When I first started this blog, I made a solemn promise:

I will not become one of those people who make their own hummus.

love the hummus I pick up at the grocery store, and have been an avid, weekly purchaser of said hummus for ages. And honestly, who wants to spend time faffing about making their own hummus when they can buy perfectly good hummus at the store? Insanity.

Do you see where I'm headed with this? Yep. This week, I broke that solemn promise and made hummus. 

It was awesome.

Now, I tend to place a lot of value on being true to my word—it ranks pretty much up there with Do not hurt people and If you use the last bit of toilet paper, replace the roll.  So naturally, this slip this got me thinking about some of my other solemn promises:

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Baked Apples Stuffed with Pistachios and Pomegrana

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This post is going out to my family and friends out East. Another dumping of snow this week? Holy jeez. Consider this a warm and cozy gift from the West, where it is 70 degrees and sunny today (hint, hint: come join me out West! I miss you, and it is really very nice out here!). 

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Baked apples are the quintessential warm winter dessert to curl up with, and the topping in this recipe kicks the treat to the next level.

I know what you’re thinking, doubling down on desserts this week?  Are there no rules? No standards? Have faith, my lovelies. This dessert is super healthy—apples, nuts, whole oats, cinnamon, pomegranates. Wholesome ingredients covering so many healthy bases—heart, skin, cholesterol, antioxidant and anti-inflammatories. Check, check, check. And…wait for it…. It tastes really very awesome. Seriously. I bet if you had one of those brain scans that lights up when the pleasure center of the brain is tickled, this one would cause all sorts of fireworks.

Enjoy dessert. Stay warm. Come visit.

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Soft + Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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I don’t bake often. Cookie sheets, cake tins and the like are relegated to the very farthest reaches of the kitchen cabinets. If I were a better person, I could say my reason for giving desserts the cold shoulder is because they aren't healthy. But the truth is that I love dessert, and am of the school of thought that everything is okay in moderation. The problem is that my one-and-only doesn’t "do" moderation. And that, coupled with his uncanny ability to sniff out, locate and demolish sweets, is the reason I don’t bake much.

Let me paint you a picture. I picked up a box of Girl Scout cookies on the way home from work a few Monday's ago. Thin Mints. I was going to “present” them on Friday—a special weekend treat. I hid the box in the very back of the pantry, top shelf, behind the spare Brita filters and plastic bag sealer that seemed like a good idea at the time. You would need a stool to even catch a glimpse of that green box, and a stick to reach it. Better safe than sorry, non?

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