Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Favorites

Aloha from Hawaii! I'm on vacation (hello, summer!) to celebrate my 6 year wedding anniversary, my hubby's birthday, and the end of a very crazy season. I'm going to have a couple guest contributors, which I know you will love. But until then, here are my favorites for May:

Image Source: Pinterest
1. 31Bits:
I had to use this image because that's my sis on the left (don't hate me, sis). Gorgeous, right?

I have so much love for 31bits. They employ women in northern Uganda to handmake the products from recycled paper, empowering these women to overcome poverty and support their families. They are making the connection because the product's creator and consumer, and there is nothing more natural than the human connection.

Plus, the jewelry is beautifully designed and really unique. I wear mine all the time. Check out some of my favorites from their new summer line: the Razzle Dazzle for making a statement, the Band of Color for some color-blocking, and the Marmalade for your new go-to piece that works with everything. They're all at

2. Madewell Tote:
This is a perfect resuable tote for groceries, or all your favorite summer activities like going to the beach or strolling through the farmer's market. A little pricey just for a grocery tote, but a steal for Madewell. Buy here.

3. Baggu Bags 
Do your part for the environment - or at least take a step in the right direction - by banning plastic and paper bags. If the Madewell one is too pricey, check out Baggu's line of reuseable bags. They have so many fun designs (neon! stripes! elephant print!). I'm drawn to this one, because stripes and mint will always be a win in my book. Check out the line of bags here.

4. Pevonia Body Moisturizer
My all-time favorite lotion. My skin gets really dry, so its taken me a while to find one that really works. It's light, made with natural ingredients, and has a great fragrance. It's also a bit pricey, but it lasts a while and its worth it for those of us cursed with dry skin. Plus, skinstore often gives 20% off so look for the discount. Buy here.

Do you have any favorites lately? Any summer must-haves?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cooking Class Recipes {Part 1}

Hi friends! As promised, here are several of the recipes from our cooking class. I'm starting with the crostini, roasted carrots and arugula salad because they are so simple to make and definite crowd pleasers. I'm always pleasantly surprised at how people gravitate towards the veggies and the healthy options at parties, and in our cooking class, we couldn't stop eating these 3 dishes. These would be great for a dinner party or potluck, or just any old night of the week.

White Bean and Prosciutto Crostini with Sage
Serves 30

The crostini look beautiful served with a spring of thyme or sage.
Option to make them vegetarian by leaving out the prosciutto.

  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped plus 2 whole cloves
  • ¾ cup finely diced prosciutto
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cans organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 baguettes, sliced on the bias
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sage (optional)

Add small amount of olive oil, about ½ tablespoon to small frying pan.  Heat up oil.  

Add diced prosciutto and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the prosciutto looks crispy but not burned.  Remove from heat.  Drain prosciutto on paper towel and let cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the 3 smashed garlic cloves, prosciutto, crushed red pepper and 3 cans of beans.  Add ¼ cup of the extra virgin olive oil and puree until smooth.  If the mixture seems too thick add more olive oil; the mixture should be fairly loose.  Taste to see if it needs salt (it probably will).  Add the remaining can of drained and rinsed beans and puree just enough to combine.  The mixture will be a little chunky.  Taste again for salt. Remove from the food processor to a large bowl and reserve at room temperature.  The puree will be very creamy but with some small chunks to it.

Preheat a grill pan or large skillet over medium heat.  Grill the baguette slices on both sides on the grill pan.  When the bread looks slightly charred and is crispy, remove it from the pan and rub each crostini with the raw garlic cloves.

Top each toast with a big dollop of the bean puree and a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with sage (optional) on serving platters to serve.


Roasted Carrots
Serves 6
  • 12 - 18 carrots
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbl minced fresh dill or flat-leaf italian parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave them whole.  Slice the carrots diagonally into 1 ½ inch-thick slices.  The carrots will get smaller while cooking, so make the slices big.

Toss them in a bowl with the extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet in one layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste and serve.


Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Peperoncini
Serves 4

The dressing for this salad is a staple for me. Make it for any of your favorite salads!
  • 2 cups Organic baby Arugula (Trader Joes)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ¼ cup drained green peperoncini

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Whisk vinegar and oil in a bowl until emulsified.  Put arugula, tomatoes, peperoncini, and onion into another bowl. Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with dressing; toss to combine. 

*If you like Kalamata olives, you can add ½ cup of the olives (pitted) to the salad.


Let me know if you make any of these & how they turn out! xo.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New York Recap

Hi friends! I'm sorry I've been so absent on the blog lately. I've been traveling a little, working a lot, and getting sick in between.

Anyway, I wanted to share some pics from my NYC trip. We stayed in Brooklyn, which is my new favorite place. It's NYC sans crowds, with the most charming neighborhoods and farm-to-table food. Perfection. We ate a lot, shopped flea markets and found heaven at an all-food market called Smorgasburg.

We only left for Broadway, and Newsies was the ultimate dream. If you get to the big apple soon, you MUST see it. I was geeking out like no one's business, and now I'm scheming up an excuse to get out and see it again. And get back to Brooklyn. Here are some of my insta pics:

The crew.
Best Coffee in Brooklyn.
Charming Brooklyn brownstone.
Ted & Honey for brunch.
Times Square.

Carrying the Banner.
Ange & I at Evita. Channeling my inner Eva Peron with sequins & red lips.
Delicious Colombian food at Smorgasburg.
Farm-to-popsicle pops at Smorgasburg. The strawberry rhubarb was divine.
Posing with our People's Pops.
Brooklyn treats: Mast Brothers Chocolate, candy colored rock sugar & Spoonable chili caramel.

Ending the weekend with a {delicious} bourbon & champagne drink.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cooking Class

{My mom & I}

I had the best time assisting my mom with the cooking class on Saturday. I would say co-leading, but my mom had it on lock down. I've learned pretty much all I know from her, so it was really fun to see her pass along her passion for good food and cooking to others. 

For the class, we wanted to focus recipes that were healthy, simple, and affordable, since it can be challenging to find go-to recipes that encompass all three. With almost 20 of us, it was quite the feast. This was the six course menu:
  • Crostini with White Bean & Prosciutto Puree
  • Arugula Salad with Tomatoes, Red Onion & Pepperonici
  • Roasted Carrots
  • Black Bean Soup
  • Penne Pasta with Homemade Tomato Sauce
  • Honey Vanilla Poundcake with Berries & Chantilly Cream

Everything was incredible, but the crowd favorite was the roasted carrots. Roasting brings out the sugars so they were naturally and surprisingly sweet. I already blogged about the black bean recipe here and I'll continue sharing these recipes in upcoming posts. In the meantime, here are some pics from my iPhone & Lauranne's iPhone (the more stunning photos are Lauranne's).

{Directing the troops}

{Roasted carrots & preparing herbs}

{Assembling the crostini} 
{Arugula salad prep}

{White bean & prosciutto crostini}

{Assembled salad}


Monday, May 7, 2012

Black Bean Soup

This is one of my go-to recipes on the nights when I'm craving comfort food (without the calories). Its hearty but healthy, cost-effective and really easy to make. Crazily enough, while I was working on this post, my mom was putting it on the menu for Saturday's cooking class. Clearly, this soup is a family fave.

Beans are a great source of fiber, protein and antioxidants. You get full quickly due to the beans' high water content, which helps keep your waistline trim. Adding a bit of greek yogurt as a garnish ups the protein even more. You can also skip the bacon altogether for a vegetarian version, but if you do keep it, just make sure you buy bacon with no nitrites added.

As a sidenote - a lot of women ask me what they can make for both themselves and their meat-loving husbands. This soup is great because it helps you keep the calories low, but its hearty enough for him. And if your hubs wants added calories, he can pile on the cheese and have some crusty bread on the side.

5 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
7 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth (I like Swanson's brand)
3/4 cup canned chopped tomatoes (I like S&W brand, no salt added)
1/2 tbl chili powder (optional)
2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
Kosher salt & black pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime

For garnish:
Thinly sliced scallions
Greek yogurt (better for you than sour cream!)
Grated cheddar (optional)

Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook about 1 minute.
Add the broth, tomatoes and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Adjust the heat so soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, pick stems off cilantro, wash and shake dry. Chop cilantro coarsely and stir into soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes.
Cook until soup is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the lime juice.
Serve with garnishes.

This recipe is enough for about 4 servings. Double the recipe if you're making it for a big group or want a ton of leftovers!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Friday!

Photo Source

Happy Friday! This has been such a fun week. You know that feeling when you discover an amazing blog for the first time? Well, thanks to Pinterest, I stumbled across this blog last night, which has very quickly become my new favorite. I mean, just look at the photo above - Sarah has a love for sequins and organic food. And my dream Madewell closet. We are MEANT to be best friends.

Its also been a fun week because I've been developing a Health & Wellness Program at work. We've gotten a running club going, brought in dance and yoga instructors, and are starting a company cleanse on Monday (with a kick-off screening of Forks Over Knives). I love it. Proselytizing about health + investing back into my amazing coworkers = my heaven.

I've also been planning a cooking class for tomorrow with my mom for our interns. I love geeking out with my mom about healthy cooking, so I can't wait to lead it with her.  Its based on how to eat well on a budget, and I'll be sharing the recipes on the blog soon (first up, a super easy black bean soup).

In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with some fun links for your weekend:

A post from my new fave blog on how to afford shopping at whole foods.

Make your own farmers market bags.

A great infographic on food additives.

Warby Parker now has prescription sunglasses. Yes, please.

I hope you all have fun weekend & cinco de mayo! xoxo.