Month: April 2014

Worry-Free Wednesday: Steve Jobs Edition

This past weekend I watched the movie, Jobs and the movie ended with this quote. Absolutely loved it! Didn’t hurt that Ashton Kutcher starred as Steve Jobs! Happy Wednesday 🙂

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Worry-Free Wednesday: Finals Edition

 

Sorry I’ve been super MIA lately, but I promise after I finish my exams I will have sooooo many new recipes to post that you just might get sick of me! For now, I couldn’t let studying get in the way of posting this week’s Worry-Free Wednesday. I know finals week is often the most stressful time of the year, and if you’re a Type A person like me, it’s easy to get hyper-focused on achieving perfection. For me, I often get what my mom calls “catastrophic thinking” where I take one potential failure (i.e. getting a poor exam grade) and let that cause a ripple effect of “what ifs” (what if that destroys my GPA, what if I can’t get a good job after graduation, what if I need to move home….you get the drift). Recently, I stumbled upon this quote (on Pinterest of course) and it has encouraged me to stop this train of negative thinking and instead focus on what positive things might occur.

So with that, don’t stress this week and good luck on finals everyone!beb151946dde1458bf5972b227f202f3

Commodore Cruising

Last Tuesday, my KD little sister and I won tickets to see Wicked through a program at Vanderbilt called “Commodore Cruise.” Until this point, I had not met a single person who has ever won one of these elaborate prizes before, and considering I received the good news on April Fools Day, I had a hard time actually believing it until we physically got on the bus.

The evening started off at City Fire, a restaurant in the Gulch that has undergone three management changes in the three years I’ve lived in Nashville. This was my first time visiting under the newest ownership. Upon arriving, we were given a pre-set menu, so unfortunately I didn’t get to try the tuna tartare (a personal favorite), but nevertheless there was quite the spread to enjoy.

Let me preface this next part by saying that our table was having fun bringing out our inner food critics (think Chopped on the Food Network). So while City Fire was certainly not one that I’ll rush back to anytime soon, it was still an overall enjoyable meal (and it was free so even better, right?).

Each table got a different appetizer and luckily ours was guacamole – probably the highlight of the meal to be honest. But then again, for an avid avocado enthusiast like myself, you can’t really mess up guacamole.IMG_2779

Next course was the salad. At first it seemed promising: mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, oranges (oh wait, everyone else got those except for me) and then much to my dismay it was COVERED in bacon – to the point where it overpowered the otherwise light, refreshing dish.

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Time for the main course. I ordered the salmon, again another favorites of mine and since the fish is so great on its own I figured it was a safe bet. It was cooked to perfection, but unfortunately it was extremely greasy and oily. The side of spinach was also drenched in oil and onions.IMG_2776 Last, but not least, dessert. We chose the sweet potato pie and the marshmallow creme brĂ»lĂ©e. From my earlier post, you know my love affair with sweet potatoes, but this one did not measure up. As my friend put it “they did a poor job transforming the sweet potato.” In other words, it tasted like a dried out baked sweet potato with a thin pastry covering. The raspberry and caramel sauces were its only saving graces. As for the creme brĂ»lĂ©e, it is a rare treat for me but one of my absolute favorites. I’m still not sure what made this one “marshmallow” because it tasted like an average vanilla creme brĂ»lĂ©e. Still tasty, but confusing.

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After that interesting dinner, we headed to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see Wicked. Although I am slightly obsessed with the Wizard of Oz (#tbt to my bat mitzvah theme: Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Danielle’s Bat Mitzvah), I had never seen this show. I had high expectations, but it definitely did not disappoint. Wow. I can’t get over the fact how the entire storyline ties perfectly into the Wizard of Oz. As the plot progresses it gets more and more linked to the movie and watching it all unfold on stage was nothing short of magical. As soon as the curtains closed I immediately wanted to watch it again, but for now, I’ll settle for listening to the soundtrack 24/7.

hanging out with the Australian flying monkey from the show

hanging out with the flying monkey from the show – turns out he’s Australian!

Tabouli Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

If I had to pick one type of ethnic food to live off of I would have to choose Mediterranean. Between the hummus, pita, olives, and salmon, I think I’d be set for life. So naturally, I’ve been wanting to try to make my own lemon tahini dressing, and I thought I might as well go the whole nine yards with the Mediterranean trend and make a tabouli salad as well.

My first attempt at the dressing was a complete and total fail. The recipe I was following added soy sauce and sesame oil, which it gave it more of an Asian feel rather than the tart lemony goodness I was hoping for. But thankfully, a la elementary school, “first is the worst, second is the best…” and my second try was AMAZING.

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 Ingredients
serves 1-2

salad:
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup sliced cucumbers
1/2 cup tomatoes (I used asst. cherry tomatoes)
couple tbsp fresh mint and parsley coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cooked black rice (traditional tabouli calls for bulgar, but I already had the rice on hand)
handful Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas (or canned, but these are more flavorful and add a nice texture)

dressing (adapted from Oh She Glows, one of my favorite food blogs!)
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons juiced)
1/4 Nutritional Yeast (I was very skeptical about the whole concept of nutritional yeast, but I was pleasantly surprised! Definitely made a positive difference in the taste.)
2 tbsp olive oil
3+ tbsp water
salt/pepper to taste

Directions
1. Put all dressing ingredients together and blend until smooth
2. Pour some dressing over the kale and massage for a minute or so
3. Mix in the remaining salad ingredients
4. Top with additional dressing and crunchy chickpeas

Wow, I’m kinda obsessed with this dressing now. The next day, I ate the leftovers with avocado and cucumbers on a rice cake and dipped baby carrots in it, too. Enjoy!

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Spotlight on Sweet Potatoes

Forget butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon as the only toppings for sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be a quick, easy, and filling lunch, and they are surprisingly versatile. Below are some of my favorite, out of the box accoutrements for a baked sweet potato. I know some of them may seem rather peculiar, but just give them a chance and I promise that you will be pleasantly surprised! Also, a lot of people have been asking me recently how I have so much time to cook during the school year. It’s all about finding shortcuts and planning. If you microwave the sweet potato for 6 minutes or so, depending on the size (make sure you pierce it first or it WILL explode, trust me) or bake a few ahead of time for the week, these recipes (except for the last one) will take 10 minutes or less, including clean-up – promise!

1. Almond Butter

Shown here with almond butter, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. Also try dried fruit (my favorite is dried cherries!)

Shown here with almond butter, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. Also try dried fruit (my new favorite is dried cherries!).

2. Guacamole

Shown here with homemade guacamole* and crushed tortilla chips. Also try black beans, peppers, and cheese.

Shown here with homemade guacamole and crushed tortilla chips. Also try black beans, peppers, and cheese.

**For easy homemade guacamole, mix William Sonoma Guacamole Starter or tomatillo salsa with fresh avocados** 

3. Loaded Breakfast Style

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Shown here with arugula, yellow cherry tomatoes, sunny side up egg, rosemary, lemon pepper, and cayenne pepper.

4. Hummus

Shown here with one of my favorite hummuses (...hummi?), TJ Three Layer Hummus - it has roasted red pepper, traditional, and cilantro. Also great with fresh veggies and pita chips!

Shown here with one of my favorite hummuses (…hummi?), TJ Three Layer Hummus – it has roasted red pepper, traditional, and cilantro. Also great with fresh veggies and pita chips for dipping!

5. Curried Sweet Potato

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Shown here with Greek yogurt (instead of mayo), curry, and cilantro, dried cherries, and walnuts. To really infuse the flavor, scoop out the sweet potato flesh and mix thoroughly with yogurt/mayo and spices (a little goes a long way – I used just a tablespoon or so of yogurt), then top with dried fruit and nuts.

6. “Fries”

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The secret to crispy oven baked “fries” is to soak the cut sweet potatoes in water for 30 minutes or more (even overnight!). Then, in a plastic bag put your choice spices (I used rosemary and cayenne pepper) and 1 tbsp of cornstarch or flour per whole potato used. Shake the fries until lightly coated and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over them and bake at 425F for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown, and flip them about halfway through.

I served these with black bean burgers from the blog of my favorite trainer/singer/master chef, Megan Conner. For the recipe, check out her awesome blog here! The only change to the recipe I made was that I used black rice instead of red quinoa because that’s what I had in my pantry. Shout out to my PR/chef partner-in-crime, Julia Gabriel, for helping me out with these – warning these are difficult to make, but so worth it!
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Shown here on a bed of arugula, topped with with avocado, BBQ sauce and honey mustard, which is also great together for dipping the fries (yes, together – don’t knock it til you try it!).

I hope y’all enjoy trying some of these new variations of sweet potatoes, and let me know if you have any cool ones of your own!

Fun fact - sweet potatoes are a healthy, human snack for dogs. And this one sure seemed to enjoy it!

Fun fact – sweet potatoes are a healthy, human snack for dogs. And this one sure seemed to enjoy it!

Fashion Week

Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop, but I mainly just peruse different boutiques and buy whatever I think looks good. With the exception of J.Crew, because I worked there for a year, I’m never the first one to know the latest new trend or an upcoming designer. Nevertheless, I was excited to go with my more experienced fashionista friend to Nashville Fashion Week 2014.

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Friday night’s show was held at Fifth Avenue of the Arts, outside a string of art galleries. Before the show began the galleries hosted a cocktail hour, which gave us a chance to see their latest exhibits while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres. I didn’t realize how many awesome galleries Nashville had! My favorite piece was one crafted with crayon points to form a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, one of my favorite icons. I also found out that during the first Saturday of every month there is an art crawl, so now I am definitely looking forward to going back to the galleries again soon.

top: shrimp with spicy pea pesto  bottom left: fried lobster risotto bites (we nicknamed them lobster "tater tots") bottom right: rosemary carrot cake

top: shrimp with spicy pea pesto
bottom left: fried lobster risotto bites (we nicknamed them lobster “tater tots”)
bottom right: rosemary carrot cake

 

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Can you believe these are all crayon points?!

As for the show itself, I had so much fun! There were five designers on Friday: Skif International, Amanda Uprichard, Samantha Pleet, Vaute Couture, and SW3 Bespoke. Skif International had a lot of pieces that reminded me of Free People, with their cozy, flowy sweaters. Amanda Uprichard’s collection was by far my favorite. She had a lot of dresses in bright colors. I could see myself wearing every piece, so I am definitely going to try to find her in stores. It also didn’t hurt that during her section of the show, Katy Perry was blasting through the speakers. Samantha Pleet had a lot of patterns and jumpsuits, which personally aren’t really my thing, but I could appreciate the design and had a lot of respect for her as a Pratt Institute alum. Vaute Couture also had bright, neon colors, but was a little too mod for my taste. Finally, SW3 Bespoke had so many great leather jackets in a variety of colors and styles, which is very much up my alley, and I knew my mom would have absolutely loved her pieces as well.

My favorite pieces of the night. First two are Amanda Uprichard and the last two are SW3 Bespoke.

My favorite pieces of the night. First two are Amanda Uprichard and the last two are SW3 Bespoke.

The night ended at the after party at the Rosewall, where my friend and I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffrey Rymer, owner of the Rymer Gallery, one of the hosting galleries of the night. He introduced us to his friends, all of whom were so incredibly nice and friendly, which definitely made the party so much more enjoyable, as we were probably one of the few college kids there. Overall it was a great event and I’m so happy I decided to attend on a whim. The highlight of the night was when a fashion blogger, Jessica Gemma featured my necklace on her Instagram account with the caption “nailed it”!

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Sneezing Purple

It’s approaching 2am on a Friday and I’m at Rippy’s on Broadway. I look down at my phone and notice the time and a wave of panic rushes over me. The following thoughts pop into my head: I should NOT have had that last shot, sushi probably wasn’t the best pre-going out meal, I’m STARVING, shit I need to get up to run the Color Run in approximately 6 hours…

Well, luckily a friend accompanied me to Two Boots, the pizza utopia on Division St. And no, I definitely didn’t go my usual V for Vegan, healthier vegetable pizza option, (sorry Megan…) instead I devoured a slice of the Tony Clifton, which has shiitake mushrooms, vidalia onions, red pepper pesto and lots of gooey, delicious mozzarella. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap a picture before inhaling its cheesy, magical hangover curing goodness, but luckily I found the exact slice on google images and it definitely does it justice.

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Fast forward to 7:30am (a mere 4 and a half hours after the pizza escapade): my alarm blares loudly in my ear. Much to my surprise, I wake up feeling GREAT (told you that pizza was magical). I spring out of bed – so excited for the Color Run! Last year, my little sister in KD and I ran the Color Run and decided to make it a yearly tradition because it was just that awesome. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Color Run, it is a 5k and at every kilometer, powdered color is thrown on you, so it’s like running through a giant outdoor paint party.

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the aftermath of Color Run 2013

Just like last year, it was cold and rainy, but it was so worth it. When we got to purple, my favorite station of the run, one of the color squirters got some purple up my nose, which led me to cough, and my open mouth was then filled with even more purple powder. So for the rest of the race (and until the next day), I kept coughing and sneezing purple. Still worth it. And besides at least it was my favorite color – silver lining?

before the purple explosion

happy as a clam before the purple explosion

The run was over before we knew it, and then we got to play with extra color packets, bringing out the inner 5 year old in me. I’m already looking forward to the 2015 Color Run with my favorite partner in crime!

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