Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts


Cinnamon-sugar tea time Biscottis

There's nothing better than cinnamon and sugar combined, well, at least in my book.  Some are chocolate lovers, some prefer fruit to satisfy that sweet tooth, but something about a churro, cinnamon beignets or these cinnamon sugar biscottis that I will always save room for.  Keyword{s} here: Cinnamon-sugar.  My mother in law made these a while back and they quickly became a household staple for us too. We should all be grateful that I was allowed to post this recipe! {Thanks mom!}. These little guys are perfect for a quick breakfast, dipped into tea, or a midnight snack.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

What you'll need:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking power
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • cinnamon and sugar topping
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix dry ingredients {flour and baking soda}, set aside
  • In a separate bowl, mix vegetable oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs, beat with a fork {or mixer}
  • Combine flour mixture with egg mixture using a wooden spoon
  • Mix in 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • On lightly floured surface or non-stick pan, separate into 4 to 5 loaves {see photo, but roughly 2" wide and 5" long}
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture generously
  • Bake at 350 for 35 minutes checking until golden brown
  • Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes and slice at an angle
  • Add more cinnamon and sugar and back in oven for 10 minutes until toasted


Watermelon - Basil - Feta Salad

Refreshing salads during these warm Spring and Summer days are the ultimate epitome of the season. Usually these salads are a breeze, combining unconventional flavors with elements of fruits and cheeses with various herbs. One of my favorites is the Watermelon, basil and feta salad.  Three simple ingredients create a refreshing and fulfilling meal for lunch or dinner.  Thanks to the composition of watermelon being 91% water, you'll quickly slim down just in  time for bikini season! For the dressing: combine 3/4 cup lemon juice; 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; 3 garlic cloves; 1 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp dried mint/oregano.  Bon appétit!


Hummus 101

I'll be the first to admit, I'm an hummus addict.  Its become a weekly yet convenient event to buy, devour, repeat. But last week, we decided to try it homemade.  I had heard the recipe was quick and easy, so I gave it a go.  Step aside, Trader Joe's hummus, I don't need you anymore.  After making my homemade version, I've realized what a shame it is to purchase the grocery store versions that really steer away from that middle eastern flavor I crave. The only thing that held me back at first was the intimidation of the multiple pieces {ahem, blade} of my Cuisinart. Talk about stage fright.  Now, I can easily say we have a nice working relationship. 

What you'll need:
  • 1 22 oz. can of Chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • dash of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons water to smooth
  • Olive oil, paprika or Aleppo Pepper for garnish
  1. In a Cuisinart, add half chick peas, tahini, garlic, cumin and salt and pepper - mix/puree for one minute.
  2. Add other half of chickpeas, lemon juice and tablespoon of water to smooth hummus.
  3. Follow pictures below to add drizzle of olive oil and dash of paprika or Aleppo pepper
  4. Enjoy with pita chips or raw veggies
  5. For an added twist, mix in your favorite Tabbouleh recipe, for a kick! {"Noelle's touch"}
 { Ingredients: Chick Peas // Tahini // Fresh Garlic // Ground Cumin// Lemons // Paprika or Aleppo Pepper // Salt/Pepper }



{ My Favorite Banana Bread }

A favorite treat of mine that immediately brings back nostalgic childhood memories is good old-fashioned banana bread. I've been spending a lot of {much-needed} mommy and me time and recently inquired about her famous banana bread recipe.  She was so thrilled that before I knew it we were headed to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. We compromised real sugar with baking Truvia {less calories} and it surprisingly tasted amazing and exactly the same! Follow the easy instructions below for some homemade goodness for breakfast with coffee or as a delightful afternoon snack!

What you'll need:
  • 1 cup sugar {substitute 1/2 cup with baking Truvia}
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 ripe bananas {found ours on sale for $.29/lb, score!}
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt {we only used 1/4 this time} 
  • 5 tablespoons sour cream or orange juice {we used OJ}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips {we used a little extra, of course}
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts {...and a little extra of this too}
  • First mash bananas manually then, in an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, oil, eggs and bananas.
  • Add flour, baking soda, salt, sour cream/OJ, and vanilla extract
  • With a wooden spoon, mix in chocolate chips and walnuts
  • Pour mixture into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for one hour and voila, yummy deliciousness.


Get Green

I've always been a proponent of healthy living, but also indulging in some sweets every now and then... everything in moderation right?  But, since joining round two of this insane boot-camp, I have tried things I never even knew about, but things that I now love like, kale, chia seeds, spirulina and flax seeds.  These days I start my mornings with a french vanilla protein shake, almond milk, handful of berries, half a banana and scoop of green powder for extra nutrients.  But I wanted to take it a step further for some additional green detoxification. While researching some new and easy recipes to make on my own, I found a Kale smoothie and Greens soup that I thought I'd share with you. Hope you enjoy your glowing skin, slimmer waistline and increased energy.

Kale Smoothie:


  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • frozen banana, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1/2 bunch mint, for garnish


  1. Add bananas, kale, and mango to your blender.
  2. Squeeze about a teaspoon of lemon juice into the blender.
  3. Add chia seeds.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Add a few mint leaves as garnish, and enjoy!
Greens Soup:


  •  1 leek
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 6 kale leaves
  • 1-2 zucchini
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • Handful of Parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash and chop all veggies.
  2.  Lightly heat the oil on low heat, add leeks and garlic and slowly cook.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and vegetables {zucchini, kale, broccoli, celery}, slowly bring to a boil and cook until the zucchini is soft. The less you cook the vegetables the better {more nutrients}.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Use a stick/immersion blender, or transfer to a blender, and process the soup, or you can leave it chunky if you prefer.
  6. Add the parsley, voila!


{ Mix & Mingle }
How to throw a fab Christmas party

{ Table runner and place mats, ZGallerie // Fine China, Michael Aram for Waterford, Bloomingdales }
There truly isn't anything like the holiday season.  Something about the fresh winter scent in the air, the cozy grey days, and the twinkling Christmas lights adorning each home in our neighborhood that always puts a smile on my face.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that I absolutely love Fall and Winter clothing, so seeing the busy streets lined with eager shoppers in trendy coats and scarves always does the trick too ;). When the time came to plan our annual girls' Christmas dinner-party, I jumped at the idea of hosting my closest friends at our home in Santa Barbara for the first time. It's been a tradition we have kept going for over 7 years, and as we grow older, our time together is that much more precious.  With every one's busy schedule year round, it was nice to catch up and have some quality girl time. Endless kir royals and non-stop wine were in abundance along with great conversations, personalized goody bags, Christmas tree shaped brownies and a house fully decorated for Christmas {even down to the scent}. Although we are all twenty-somethings, and the party was of course casual, I threw in some formal touches to spice things up a bit.  Here are some steps to throwing a fab Christmas party:

1. Party favors:
If your headcount is small enough, make personalized party favors.  It's always a nice touch and your guests will really appreciate the effort, not to mention the sweets inside. I used this easy recipe I found on Pinterest, along with red and green festive M&M's, initial ornaments that start with each girls' name, and of course, handwritten notes of the candy-cane story attached on each goody bag. Check out our Pinterest for some more holiday ideas. 


2. Table Setting: 
Use your finest dinnerware and cloth napkins for an extra formal touch. I actually used my fine china for the first time since my 2011 wedding {oh ya!}. You can go an extra step further by setting the seating arrangement for your guests {10 and under} with festive name-tag napkin holders like these from Williams-Sonoma.  I scored my red ornament napkin-ring holders on sale last year and added these black and white Diane von Furstenburg ones for an added pop of color among the red napkins. 

3. Centerpieces: 
Always use fresh garlands as a centerpiece to complete your table decor for Christmas parties and be sure it isn't too tall to block your guest's view. The scent of the fresh pines during dinner is sure to keep up the lighthearted and jolly party mood!

4.  Holiday Spirits:
Of course, a fab Christmas party wouldn't be complete without Kir Royales with fresh cranberries afloat and mulled wine after dinner with dessert. I made homemade baked cinnamon donuts {in bundt cake shape, with pumpkin ice cream on top} from Ina Garten's new cookbook, Foolproof ... a Christmas party favorite.  We definitely couldn't get enough...

What are some of your holiday party recipes and decoration tips?


< Halloween Snippets >

1. Spooky table settings with crawling spiders and pumpkin salt and pepper shakers
2. Cored apples, ready for homemade apple turnovers
3. Warm apple turnovers with Pumpkin ice cream
4. Details of the night: studs, skulls and leather
5.Festive arrangement
6. Masks for the ladies/ mustaches for the men
7. Skull toothpicks and spiders on cheese, yum!
8. Masquerade 
9. Witches Brew napkins
10.  Here's the recipe I followed
11. Itsy Bitsy spider wanted Rose Champagne
12. The infested cheese plate of Brie, Manchego and Goat cranberry chèvre


{ favorite things }

{ Our masterpieces }
Last weekend was an absolute blast. Our dear friend hosted our Annual Pumpkin Carving Party filled with the most creative little details.  From candy corn cookies, spider-webbed 7-layer dip, mini lolli-brooms with adorable orange chevron printed Halloween wishes, and bowls of candy corn stashed in various areas of the Pumpkin scented home...Halloween couldn't have seemed any closer! Unfortunately it's still 2 weeks away, but that's enough time for the weather to cooperate and get colder {fingers crossed}! What will you dress up as this year?
{ Lolli-brooms; Spider-webbed 7-layer dip; my Pumpkin Spice Cake pops; Candy corn cookies}
{ Our matching spooky skeleton blouses...;) }
{ A must have for the season }
{ How adorable are these mini-lolli-brooms? How-to here }
{ My all-time fave Persimmon, Cilantro and Pomegranate Salad }


Everything Cookie

It became a tradition with my sister that whenever we'd go shopping together, we would have to make a pit stop to satisfy our ever-craving sweet tooth's with a cookie. Be it the sugar cookie from Vie de France at South Coast, or the everything cookie from Pain Du Monde at Fashion Island, somehow, we had to satisfy those cravings with one of these decadently scrumptious cookies, {and black coffee, of course}.  Now that OC is no longer home and I am tucked away two hours north, {and without my shopping buddy}, my cookie craving still exists but without Pain du Monde or Vie de France, I'm stuck to fend for myself.  So, I decided to bake it. To be exact these are double chocolate chip, oatmeal, coconut, walnut cookies with a gooey center and a perfect antidote to any bad day.

What you'll need:
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconuts
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar-free or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 335 degrees
  • In a mixer bowl, whip together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, add in vanilla. 
  • In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt and slowly stir into wet mixture until blended.
  • Mix in quick oats, walnuts, coconut and chocolate chips.
  • with heaping tablespoons, or an ice cream scooper, place on baking sheet.
  • Reason they're so good: FREEZE for 15 minutes before baking!
  • Bake for 12 minutes. Center will be perfectly moist and delish!


{ Fiesta }

{ Old Spanish Days Festival Parade on State street }
With the Old Spanish Days Festival in full swing last weekend, our fiesta themed housewarming/birthday fête was very fitting for our many celebrations! Despite the drizzle that covered Santa Barbara early that morning, the sun was shining and it was a perfect 76 degrees by the time the party started.  The day was filled with endless margaritas, sangria, street tacos, colorful lanterns, stringed white lights, hanging piñatas, sombreros, and of course, mustache straws and tattoos for our guests! It was very special having all the people so dear to us at our new house enjoying themselves. They definitely "warmed" our home.  But I think the best part of my birthday last week was the surprise trip to Istanbul my husband planned for us in two weeks! :) Can't wait. xx. 
{ Vino for the Sangria pitcher }
{ Soaking the apples and peaches for the Sangria hours before the party }
{ Tres Leches Cupcakes with Mexican flags and mustache toothpick garnish }
{ Some of the drinks }
{ Hollow pinapple-man for wedged limes }
{ Mustache galore }


Black Bean, Cilantro & Quinoa Salad

You know the feeling... it's so hot that you've lost your appetite.  You only want something refreshing, light and healthy to eat.  Swimsuits are now more frequently being pulled out, and no one ever liked being bloated: enter Black bean, Tomato Cilantro & Quinoa {Keen-wah} salad. This salad is so easy to make, delicious, and surprising light that I wanted to share. On top of it all, it's packed with nutritional benefits.  Quinoa is part of the grain family but is also classified as a seed.  It contains all of the essential amino acids and a high source of protein, magnesium, fiber, vitamin B, and is gluten-free {for all you non-glutenites}.  Here's how to make:
zest from one lime
juice from 2 limes 

juice from 2 lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced or cherry tomatoes
4 scallions, chopped 

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1 Persian cucumber for extra crunch 
Feta Cheese for sprinkling on top
Start off by making the Quinoa: 1 cup Quinoa and 2 cups water.  Bring the Quinoa to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Cool in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, drain the black beans, set aside.  Slice the tomatoes {or use Cherry tomatoes sliced in halves}; Scallions; 1 Persian cucumber; Cilantro; and red onion {if you so wish}.  After Quinoa has been cooled for about 15 minutes, toss in all other ingredients.  Squeeze 2 lemons/2 limes for the dressing along with salt and pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, dazzle with some feta, garnish some Cilantro and voila! Bon Apetit. xx

{ Enjoying my salad with a Kir Royale = Champagne <or in this case, Prosecco> with Chamboard }


Guilt/Sugar Free { Cookies }

With Easter around the corner and all these sweets {Cadbury creme eggs, chocolate bunnies, choreg; an Armenian sweet treat made around this time} all over the place, it was easy to say yes to making these cookies when I found the recipe from Jorge Cruise's, The Belly Fat Cure.  And although they're not gluten free {as the trend has been these days}, they're sugar-free, flour-free and practically guilt free!  I used Xylitol instead of real sugar, sugar-free semi-sweet chocolate chips, and Vanilla whey protein powder.  But the most interesting ingredient I used instead of flour was Almond flour, which tasted exactly the same but with many health benefits.  
Preheat oven to 350 degree before starting and enjoy!
{Ingredients} 2 eggs // 2/3 cup xylitol // 2 sticks of butter softened //1 tsp. vanilla extract // 1 cup almond flour // 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder // 1 cup whey protein powder // 1 tsp. baking powder // 1/2 tsp. salt // 4 oz. dark chocolate or sugar free semi sweet chocolate chips // 1 cup chopped walnuts
{Beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy; add eggs in one at a time. Whisk together all dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Add walnuts and chocolates into batter. Line on cookie sheet and bake for 10 min}
{Store in an air tight container as these cookies are so healthy they crumble easily}