It’s crunch time! I feel like I’m back in college and cramming for a test…except this time it’s for a race. I’m T minus 2 weeks away from the Nike Women’s half marathon in DC, and this race has really crept up on me. 2014 has been a whirlwind, I’m not sure where all the time went, but here I find myself trying to fit all of my “real” training into 2 short weeks! My roommate caught me Facetiming with my run buddy for the race, Krissi, who has turned into a bit of a serious runner. My roommate Lindsey caught us making dinner and brunch reservations for the weekend in DC, and overheard me talking about how I’ve been slacking on training and can’t find the time. Out of nowhere Lindsey comes up behind me an goes in front of the camera and says “HA! Hailey’s not serious about anything…except blogging…and food.” Thanks Linds, very kind words of encouragement for my race.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the biggest running challenge for me is just getting out the door. Once I’ve gotten through the first (always horrific) mile or two warm-up, I never have any complaints for the rest of my run, and am always glad I made it out. High-energy after-work snacks are the key to success in motivation. When I get home around 6 or 7, I’m always exhausted and usually hungry. I have a few pick-me-up snacks that have become my go-to, but recently these Peanut Butter Oat Power Balls are my favorite. They are super easy to make, taste great and give me the energy I need. They have super simple ingredients, and can be vegan with the right chocolate chips. Best running fuel ever.
Peanut Butter Oat Power Balls
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1/4 Heaping Cup of Organic Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
1/8 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1 Tbsp Almond Milk
1 Tsp Chia Seeds
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
Mix all ingredients in a medium- sized bowl with a spoon, or combine with your hands until a paste consistency is reached. Roll mixture into small balls with your hand. (Note: if mixture is not sticking into balls, add a little bit more peanut butter). Keep refigerated and enjoy!
Hailey and I are really excited and honored to be nominated for the Liebster award by Strictly Delicious! Her blog is sweet and her recipes are appetizing; I’m really glad we “ran” into each other in the food blogging community.
After receiving this award, I did a bit of research on the “Liebster.” Supposedly “liebster” means beloved in German and the award is given to newbie bloggers as a welcome to the community. How kind/sweet/endearing is that?! Here are the questions we were asked:
1. What are you most afraid of in the kitchen?
Hailey: All raw meats. I have no idea how to cook meat, and I’m always terrified I will get some sort of bacteria from undercooking it, so I always end up burning things!
Cathy: Probably roasted/stuffed chicken. I tried to make it once for my Mom’s birthday dinner … 10:30 pm rolls around and the chicken (which had been in the oven for hours by this time) wasn’t done.
2. What inspired you to begin blogging?
Hailey: While I love my job, working in the corporate world (especially at a giant company) can become routine-oriented and stifle creativity and passion. I was so happy to find a creative outlet to express myself outside of work and motivate myself with a new project.
Cathy: I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while. I’ve always really liked baking, but was too lazy/intimidated to start a blog. Then one day Hailey mentioned to me how she also wanted to start a blog … And now I can’t keep my trap shut.
3. What gives you the most joy from blogging?
Hailey: It “forces” Cathy and I to spend a lot of time together :). Not that this was a problem pre-blog, but it’s very rewarding to learn and grow with a friend.
Cathy: I love blogging with my best friend. She has taught me so much about photography and it’s always nice to have someone else in the kitchen to cook or bake with.
4. What does your ideal Saturday look like?
Hailey: A long run to the beach, a stroll at the Brentwood Farmers’ Market to pick up the week’s vegetables and eating any meal outside to absorb some rays!
Cathy: A hike followed by a cute little brunch spot somewhere in Los Angeles … or a day binging on Netflix’s orginials.
5. What pantry staple would you never want to live or cook without?
Hailey: Avocado. It’s pretty much my #1 food staple.
Cathy: Can I choose two? Rice and sugar. Gotta stick to my root: Korean food and baking.
6. Name a place you have never visited, but want to. Why are you drawn there?
Hailey: Peru. I’ve travelled very minimally in South America, and I would love to do a multi-day backpacking trip ending at the breathtaking Machu Picchu.
Cathy: Definitely Ireland! When I was in high school, I created an itinerary for a two week backpacking vacation and have never had the chance to use it. I’d love to discover more about my heritage, and honestly, it’s just so darn gorgeous.
7. What’s the most surprisingly delicious thing you’ve ever eaten?
Hailey: Mac and Cheese Pizza, a late-night staple for University of Wisconsin students (shoutout to my little sister for introducing this to me in Madison).
Cathy: I don’t have a discerning palette so I usually think everything tastes good… but, if I have to choose I would say Pho. As a kid, I refused to eat the stuff, but now I can’t get enough.
8. Who is your favorite “audience” to cook for?
Hailey: My close group of friends here in LA
Cathy: Family and friends … or my roommate because I know she usually wants seconds. 😉
9. What’s your favorite time of day and why?
Hailey: Late morning. Late enough that I am no longer tired, buy early enough that I have the whole day ahead of me.
Cathy: I would love to say the morning, but that would be a lie. This girl loves her sleep. So I’ll say evenings in the summertime. I love when it’s still light out at 7 pm.
10. What are you looking forward to most this year?
Hailey: So many things! My half marathon in DC coming up soon, a trip to Spain with my best friends, summer in Los Angeles, moving to NYC in August and hopefully getting accepted into grad school! 2014 will be a great year.
Cathy: Our upcoming trip to Spain! As I’ve never been, I’m looking most forward to eating at Botin in Madrid (the oldest operating restaurant in the world), taking in the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona and possibly scuba diving some ship wrecks off the coast of Ibiza.
Now time for some of our blog crushes. These are some blogs that Hailey and I follow:
Simple Pairings: We love Lisa’s fresh approach to cooking. Her recipes are always contain a healthy and seasonal twist, yet are so simple and easy to follow.
Ngan Made It: We absolutely love this blog where Ngan not only shares her favorite recipes but books, market experiences and much more. Ngan’s voice comes through in every post, making her blog an absolute pleasure to read.
Tea and Sesame: Sam’s blog is amazing (and the blog name reminds me of these sesame rolls at Bricks & Scones… yum). Her prose makes you want to keep reading post after post and her recipes always leave me hungry. I mean, just look at this! Doesn’t that just make you want to run to your kitchen as start cooking?
Feasting With Friends: Though Nancy’s already been nominated for the award at least once before, we didn’t think that a second nomination would hurt. We love every single one of Nancy’s posts because they look so darn delicious! (I mean, Tenderloin Stuffed Baguette?? Can you say mouth watering?!)
If you choose to participate, here are the questions we would like to ask:
1. If you were told you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
2. If you were any kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?
3. What is the dish on your blog you are most proud of?
4. Outside of blogging, what are some of your favorite things to do for fun?
5. What is your ultimate favorite restaurant, and what city is it in?
6. What dish would you bring to a potluck at the beach?
7. What is your favorite food season and why?
8. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
9. Where do you seek continued inspiration for your blogging endeavors?
10. What are you most passionate about?
Happy National Grilled Cheese Month! As Hailey mentioned earlier this week, we spent a good part of Sunday morning making and eating grilled cheese. Not a bad way of spending a Sunday if you ask me.
This recipe is inspired by my favorite pizza, the Grandma’s Pizza from Joe’s in Santa Monica and Hollywood. On first glance, it looks just like another New-York-style-caprese-by-the-slice. Yet on closer inspection, you’ll find the thinnest slice of pizza expertly topped with thick, melted slices of mozzarella, tomato and basil. Are you jealous yet? You would think that after my brief stint working at the Pizza Factory in high school, I would be sick of the stuff, but that’s definitely not the case. This pizza has made an appearance after many a night out; I’ve even had it delivered to work.
For this recipe, Hailey and I decided to make a heartier version with thick slices of artisan bread, fresh mozzarella and hearty, organic beef tomatoes. They took longer to cook than your typical grilled cheese, but were well worth the wait.
Caprese Grilled Cheese
Two Slices of Artisan Bread, cut in half (we used the Pain Pascale half loaf from Trader Joe’s)
6 Thick Slices of Fresh Mozzarella
1 Organic Beef Tomato, sliced
6-10 Organic Basil Leaves, rinsed
Line up your bread slices with their counterparts and butter one side of each slice. On the unbuttered side, layer mozzarella, tomato slices and basil leaves. Top with the other slice of bread. In a hot pan, grill until each side is brown and cheese starts to melt. *Note: we used a hot pan on low heat to prevent the bread from burning while we waited for the cheese to melt.
Guess what everyone? April is National Grilled Cheese month! To celebrate, Cathy and I will showcase our very favorite grilled cheese sandwiches for you this week. After a very tiring week of traveling to Dallas and Phoenix for work, all I wanted this past weekend was a perfect lazy Sunday. A lazy Sunday for me means sleeping in and lounging in bed with a little tv or a good book, and making some great brunch (followed by a long run to the beach in the afternoon once I overcome the laziness!). This Sunday couldn’t have been more perfect. It was a beautiful 75 degrees outside here in Los Angeles, and I found myself so utterly content with life.
What made my late morning even better was this decadent, sweet grilled cheese sandwich made with challah bread, fresh organic strawberries and mascarpone cheese. It’s even better than French toast, I swear! Challah bread does wonders soaking up the freshly made strawberry preserves and mascarpone, into a gooey, soft goodness with every bite. This is definitely not your average grilled cheese, but it is nonetheless heavenly!
Strawberry Mascarpone Dessert Grilled Cheese (Adapted from Bakeaholic Mama)
4 Slices Fresh Challah Bread
1 Pint Strawberries
2 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup plus 1 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup Regular Sugar
1/2 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted and softened
Slice 4 of the strawberries into thin slices and set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining strawberries and place in a small saucepan with the balsamic vinegar and regular sugar. Bring to boil and then simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until strawberries have turned into a jam-like consistency and the berries begin to break down. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the mascarpone cheese with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
Assembly: Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the non-buttered side of two bread slices, generously spread a layer of mascarpone cheese. Layer fresh strawberry slices on top of the mascarpone spread. On the non-buttered side of the other two bread slices, generously spread the strawberry compote once it has cool. Sandwich the two sides together, and grill on a pan until slightly browned on each side. Sift powdered sugar on top and enjoy!
What?! A post on something other than a baked good? Don’t fret. I’m writing this while Half Baked … eating Half Baked Ben & Jerry’s that is.
A couple weeks ago, Hailey and I were craving something that reflected the warm weather we were experiencing in Los Angeles. I wanted something light, yet packed with flavor and Hailey wanted something with a crunch. It didn’t take us long to decide a green bean salad was the way to go. Tossed with the toasted almonds, feta cheese and tangy heirloom cherry tomatoes, and mixed with a homemade herb dressing made with the most beautiful Meyer lemons I’ve seen… friends, we were in salad heaven.
While the salad is really delicious and quite simple to make, I have to admit the dressing — a product of Hailey’s culinary imagination — is the star of this dish. The perfect mix of tang and herbs, a little bit of this dressing really takes the salad to the next level. In fact, I ate salads for lunch for the following week just because I couldn’t get enough of this dressing.
I hope you all enjoy our green bean salad and lemon-herb dressing.
Green Bean Salad
18 Ounces of Green Beans (Approximately 1 1/2 Bags)
1 Cup of Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 Cup of Feta Cheese Crumbles
1/2 Cup of Toasted Almonds
Rinse and drain green beans. In a hot pan, sauté the beans for approximately five minutes or until cooked yet still crunchy. Remove from heat and place in salad bowl. While the green beans are cooling, wash and slice the cherry tomatoes. Add tomatoes, feta cheese and toasted almonds to the green beans and toss.
Juice From 2 Lemons
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tsp Mustard Powder
1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
3 Tbsp of White Wine Vinegar
1 Tsp of Honey
A Sprig of Parsley
A Sprig of Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously. Toss with salad and enjoy!