Month: June 2014

The Listening Room Cafe

The Nashville live music never ceases to amaze me. Last night was no exception as I ventured over to The Listening Room Cafe for the first time to see a writer’s round with Stephen Salyers, Two Story Road, Johnny Bulford, and last but certainly not least, Megan Conner, the amazing singer/songwriter/producer/personal trainer (seriously what doesn’t she do!?). I had the pleasure of watching these talented songwriters perform their personal songs, many of which have been recorded by the likes of Chris Young, Lee Brice, and Rascal Flatts!

The Listening Room Cafe has live music nightly, bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys during their weekend brunch, and although we didn’t order any food last night, every dish that walked by smelled and looked delicious, so I definitely look forward to going back soon!

Below are some clips I shot last night (sorry for the poor iPhone quality), but I bet they will entice you to check out these artists and visit The Listening Room Cafe ASAP!

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Breakfast for Dinner

I don’t know about y’all, but breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. So why limit yourself to eating it in the mornings? Cooking breakfast for dinner is a great way to switch up your normal routine (and it’s generally cheaper!). This post is a bit of a throwback for me – I made this Breakfast for Dinner feast with my best friend, Stacey a few months back. She’s been galavanting around Europe for the past couple weeks, so I’ve been missing my partner in crime cuisine here in Nashville.

The following recipes are lighter versions of your typical carbo-loaded, sugary breakfast staples. They’re vegan and gluten-free friendly as well.

Chia Seed French Toast

adapted from the blog, Minimalist Baker

Ingredients
1 heaping tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp agave nectar (or your choice sweetener)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your choice milk)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 slices bread (I went with a seeded whole grain loaf, but any bread or GF substitute would work)

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients except the bread in a large, shallow bowl. Place in the fridge to allow the chia seeds to thicken the batter.
2. Heat your choice butter or oil (I used coconut oil cooking spray from Trader Joe’s) in a pan or griddle over medium heat.
3. Dip each slice of bread in the batter until most (if not all) of the batter is absorbed into each side.
4. Place on pan or griddle and cook until golden brown on the underside. Carefully flip and cook until the other side is golden brown as well (approximately 3-5 minutes a side, depending on the thickness of the bread).

Vegan Snickerdoodle Pancakes

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adapted from the blog, Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients
1/2 cup flour (I used Bob’s all purpose GF mix)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk of choice (or more, for thinner pancakes)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Approximately 1/16 tsp salt (don’t omit)
*they suggested using 1 tbsp of sugar, but I omitted it and just drizzled mine with maple syrup afterwards

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Heat your choice butter or oil (I used coconut oil cooking spray from Trader Joe’s) in a pan or griddle over medium heat.
3. Cook each side until golden brown, timing depends on the size/thickness of your pancakes.

Foolproof Poached Eggs

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I struggled with poached eggs for weeks trying to perfect my own. The secret that I found worked best was to stir the simmering water to create a mini whirlpool before slowly dropping the egg into the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes maximum for the ultimate yolk porn. 

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This is one of my favorite go-to meals: sweet potato and kale hash (topped with a poached egg of course) – definitely be sure to look out for that post coming soon! For now just look at that yolk and try not to drool.

Changing Your Opinion of NJ and NY: One Picture at a Time

The Shore

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No, the Jersey Shore is not what MTV would lead you to believe it is. It actually can be clean, classy, and beautiful. Proof. This was taken at Sea Bright, NJ.

Bagels

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I still cringe when people refer to the bagels at Panera as “bagels.” Sorry, they’re not. THESE are bagels. Best when eaten with lox and whitefish salad from Barney Greengrass, my favorite Father’s Day tradition. 

Asian Food

The only place that comes close or surpasses the Asian cuisine of NJ/NY is the west coast. Everywhere else just does it wrong. A prime example of this excellence would be Teak in Red Bank, NJ. Roll over the pictures to see a description of each!

Central Park

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Just a concrete jungle? I think not. This massive, world famous park spans over 50 city blocks and covers 843 acres of land. My favorite parts are the reservoir running track and, of course, the zoo.

Baked by Melissa

Thought I’d end with some bite-sized food porn from the NYC bakery, Baked by Melissa. These quarter-sized speciality cupcakes are a one of a kind treat. They are perfect for satisfying a sweet tooth without demolishing your diet, or the magic bullet for indecisiveness by allowing you to order multiple flavors in lieu of one boring normal sized cupcake.

But then unfortunately, you have to dress like this for 3-4 months and the bagels just don’t seem worth it anymore…IMG_0345

The Beany City

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Chicago to visit one of my closest friends. It was my third time in the city, but my first time in the summer time (…if you want to call 60 degrees in June “summer”). But hey, I’ll take anything above -17 degrees!  Since I could feel my toes when I walked around outside, I was able to do a more in-depth exploration of the city. Below are the highlights of my trip. If you ever make it up to the Arctic tundra (preferably when it’s thawed for the summer months), I highly suggest you visit these places!

The Bean at Millennium Park

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Most people refer to Chicago as the Windy City, while well deserved, I prefer to call it the Beany City. The Bean is an iconic mirrored sculpture stands in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Although I had been there before, I’ve got to say that this is one tourist site that doesn’t old in my opinion – too many instagramable moments to keep this girl away!

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After you’re done with #thebean, be sure to check out the rest of the park, including Lurie Garden, a five-acre garden filled with beautiful purple flowers.

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Garrett’s

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While I do my best to eat healthy, I have to admit one of my biggest weakness would have to be caramel corn. Every year around the holidays, I look forward to the big tins with assorted flavors of speciality popcorns. This weekend, December came early for me as I was introduced to Garrett’s, a 65 year old gourmet popcorn store native to Chicago. They have a variety of cheese and caramel coated popcorns. I opted for the Pecan CaramelCrisp, and let’s just say my bag didn’t last me very long!

Beatrix

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My friend and I had a lovely late lunch at this restaurant in the River North section of Chicago. We celebrated her recent engagement with some delicious brut champagne and a fantastic outdoor view of the city. It was hard to decide what to order because honestly everything on this menu was so up my alley. They had fresh-squeezed juices in uncommon flavors like blackberry lychee lemonade, a wide-array of salads with unique toppings, and amazing ethnic appetizers. We eventually decided on the hummus, which was so great that it inspired me to try making my own (so keep an eye out for that post!). For my entrée, I ordered the crispy kale salad, which consisted of papaya, pumpkin seeds, and dates on top of a bed of mesclun greens and kale chips. My favorite meal of the weekend for sure!

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Lion’s Head Pub

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This was my first time in Chicago since turning 21, so I was able to experience the nightlife. Lion’s Head Pub had two distinct floors, the lower level was a traditional pub, while the upstairs was named “The Apartment” and was decorated as such (couches, bed, and all). The highlight though would have to be the ice luge. It chilled the shots so much that it cut out all the burn. Unfortunately, as we left to go bar hop, it started to rain and rather than wait outside in the massive lines, we opted to go home and drunchie instead.

Old Town Pour House

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Ironically, this was one of the bars we were trying to get into the night before, but instead we turned it into our boozy brunch spot the next day. The place had an awesome interior – great backdrop to rehash the night among friends. I ordered the breakfast burrito filled with tons of creamy avocado, eggs, and tomatillo salsa. The perfect hangover cure.

IMG_4670Special shout-out to Angela for being the best Chicago tour guide – so happy I got to spend the weekend with you!

Raw Lo Mein

WARNING: Reading this may cause you to want to make this recipe all week because it’s just that good. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…

So there’s actually a funny story behind this one. I made it entirely by accident. It all started because I had a ton of zucchini from the farmer’s market and wanted to test out my shiny new spiralizer from Williams-Sonoma. I also noticed I had a small amount of shredded carrots, half a pepper, and some leftover spicy baked tofu (side note: seriously can’t get enough of this stuff, I guarantee even your most avid tofu hater will love this!). Based on the remaining ingredients, it was clear I was making an Asian dish. I started throwing the ingredients together with sriracha, a touch of agave syrup, and coconut aminos (another side note: if you haven’t tried this amazing super low sodium soy sauce substitute, you are seriously missing out!). I had every intention of heating up with the dish with some coconut oil – I even went as far as to heat a small amount up on a pan. Right before I was about to throw it onto the pan, I wanted to have a taste to see if I needed to add anything to the sauce, and I LOVED it. So much so, that I actually decided to turn off the stove and just eat it cold and crunchy. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe I was just really hungry, but now I’m positively hooked!

Just playing around with my new spiralizer.

Just playing around with my new spiralizer.

So now, without further ado…

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Raw Lo Mein

Ingredients
 1 large zucchini or 3-4 baby zucchinis
1/2 bell pepper
1/4 cup shredded carrots
(you may want to try adding other veggies like snap peas, baby corn, bok choy, mushrooms, etc.)
Optional protein (I used baked tofu as mentioned earlier)
For the sauce: coconut aminos (or soy sauce), sriarcha, and agave

Directions
1.  Spiralize zucchini (alternatively you could use a peeler or just slice it in thin matchsticks) and chop other veggies.
2. Mix in sauce ingredients, and definitely feel free to add other spices. Personally, I eyeballed it and poured a liberal amount of coconut aminos to fully coat the veggies, added a small squeeze of sriracha, and drizzled on an even smaller squeeze of agave.
3. Mix well and top with your choice protein.

And that’s it! So simple! Of course, if you’d prefer to heat it up, I’d recommend using coconut or sesame oil on medium to medium high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften to your liking.

Enjoy!

 

Baked Coconut Cornflake Tofu

Growing up, I’d always look forward to when my mom would make Cornflake Chicken. Since leaving for college and becoming a pescatarian, I haven’t had the dish in over two years, so I decided to use the same recipe but with tofu instead. Also, because of my love affair with all things coconut, I decided to add in coconut flakes to cornflake crumbs. It works great with shrimp, as well. In fact, I made the shrimp over winter break for my mom and got her seal of approval!

coconut shrimp

Baked Coconut Cornflake Tofu

Ingredients
1 block firm tofu
1/4 cup coconut flakes (I used reduced fat, unsweetened ones from Whole Foods)
1/4 cup cornflake crumbs (or your choice bread crumbs)
1-2 egg whites

Directions
1. Drain and press tofu for 10-15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Cut tofu into small squares.
4. Place egg whites in one bowl and combine the coconut and cornflake crumbs in another.
5. Grab a handful of tofu cubes and place in egg bowl and then roll in crumb mix.
5. Lay out breaded cubes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure to flip them halfway for an even crisp!

Goes great with the tropical dressing as a dipping sauce!

coconut tofu prebake

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