Weekend Inspiration: Tulips


If you follow me on instagram, you know these are the hashtags I believe in. I highly recommend you do the same! Go and get yourself some fresh flowers: surround yourself with beautiful things. 

A side benefit of buying flowers: this will encourage you to clean your living space. Trust me!

Have a beautiful weekend.


Simplest Frozen Treat: Frozen Mexican Chocolate Vanilla Yogurt

Last month I received samples of the latest flavors from Noosa Yoghurt. Mexican Chocolate. Vanilla. Pumpkin. I immediately brought pumpkin containers to work because I only like anything pumpkin related in a savory application. I then tried and fell in love with the slightly spicy Mexican Chocolate flavor and  vanilla bean speckled Vanilla flavor. I decided not to be greedy and shared a few of those flavors with my friend Anna and her family.

Let's be honest: this is not your I'm being healthy so I'm eating yogurt type of yoghurts. I treat these decadent Noosa creations as dessert. Because of this, I wasn't able to eat all of the mini containers before their expiration date. That's when I decided to turn the last three containers into frozen yogurt! This was the first time in two years that I used my ice cream machine!

I simply took two Vanilla containers and combined them with one Mexican Chocolate container in my ice cream maker. I then put the mixture into the freezer. It froze. Hard! I had to scrape the yogurt into my ice cream scoop, so the texture wasn't perfect, but the taste was incredibly rich. 

I think next time I'll simply make soft served frozen yogurt...is there such a thing?

Disclosure: Noosa sent me samples of their product but I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.


Meatless Monday: Quinoa & Chickpea Bowl With Kimchi

This Quinoa & Chickpea Bowl With Kimchi is a super quick, delicious and versatile Meatless Monday recipe you can make for lunch or dinner and have leftovers for the next few days.

This is not really a recipe. It's more of an idea or a guide.

1) Start with quinoa: I sauteed mine in a bit of olive oil before topping it with boiled water and cooking till tender. It takes about 20 minutes. Use red or white quinoa, or mix it up.

2) I topped the cooked quinoa with chickpeas I made in my pressure cooker. You can use canned ones.

3) For the dressing, I mixed mustard with lemon juice, olive oil, a finely minced garlic clove, splash of red wine vinegar and salt & pepper. I used a larger amount of lemon juice and vinegar than olive oil for a more acidic taste.

4) Pour the dressing over the warm quinoa and chickpeas mixture so that it gets absorbed faster!

5) Now for the fun toppings: think texture, color, and flavor. I chose dill, red onions, kimchi and Marcona almonds.

I recommend you keep all of the components separately and put together your bowls right before eating. This way, the almonds will stay crunchy, and the aroma of kimchi will not be super overwhelming ;)


Weekend: Pick a fruit, any fruit.

Whether you are planning on being productive this weekend or indulging in total relaxation, enjoy it!

Don't forget to eat your fruit and vegetables!


Weekend: Happy 2017

Big Sky. Beauty. All you wish for.


Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes: Braised Pulled Pork BBQ & Creamy Corn Polenta

I grew up with a mom who was a fan of pressure cooking. This was back in Russia. No, I don't have any stories of explosions to report. For one reason or the other, however, I did not start using a pressure cooker until earlier this year. I just never thought to buy one. And then one showed up at my door.

So far I've used it to make beans, ribs, pulled pork and chicken tikka masala. This weekend I added two more recipes to my repertoire. Both of the recipes, Braised Pulled Pork BBQ and Creamy Corn Polenta, come from Bren Herrera's new cookbook Modern Pressure Cooking. I received a preview copy of the book for the blog. All opinions are my own as always. 

You could read the book and learn about pressure cooking, pick up tips and techniques, and plan an entire menu made in a pressure cooker, or you could page through and choose a few recipes and jump in. Guess which one I chose!? :)

It's funny that a Jewish girl chose to make a pork recipe. But then I've never kept kosher. I decided to make the Braised Pulled Pork BBQ and serve it with Creamy Corn Polenta. My original plan was to make both recipes in the same day, but it turned out a bit much. I ended up making the pork on Saturday (first night of Hanukkah...oy), and serving it over freshly made polenta on Sunday. 

Braised Pulled Pork BBQ
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups diced Spanish onion (large dice)
1 cup diced green bell pepper (large dice)
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into large dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 1/3 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano {I did not have it, so left it out}
1 cup chicken stock
3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, skin off, cut into 3" pieces

Place all of the ingredients except the pork in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a spoon or spatula. Using tongs, place the pork in the pressure cooker. Ladle all of the sauce over the pork. Do not stir. Close the lid.

For the electric pressure cooker: Use the meat/poultry setting, or set to high pressure (10-12 PSI) and 45 minutes.

When done, turn off the cooker and allow the pressure to release on its own, 10 to 12 minutes.

Here's what I did after opening the pressure cooker: take out pieces of pork and let them cool slightly. Then using two forks, pull the meat apart on a cutting board. Get rid of all the fat!!! This will take a while.

Pour the sauce with the vegetables into another bowl and let it cool. Remove as much fat as you can. Then put the pulled pork into the bowl. 

I found it best to make this recipe the day before serving it. The flavors mingle and intensify and you can remove even more fat once the entire dish has been in the refrigerator over night.

Creamy Corn Polenta
Serves 4 to 6

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk, plus 1/2 cup
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal (noninstant)
2 teaspoons sugar (I did not use it)
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh
1/2 teaspoon achiote oil (optional: I used chili oil)
1 cup corn, canned (drained) or fresh
2 tablespoons salted cultured butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (I used quite a bit more)

Add all the liquid, except the 1/2 cup of milk, to the pressure cooker and stir. Bring to a very light boil using the saute setting, about 3 minutes. {I used meat setting on mine.}

For electric pressure cooker: Set to high pressure (10-12 PSI) and 8 minutes total. I could not figure out how to do this on my model, and used rice setting instead.

Once all the pressure is out, open the cooker. Gently stir in the corn, remaining 1/2 milk and butter. Season with salt. Serve immediately.

Both the recipes were straight forward. Bren provided directions for both the electric and the stove-top pressure cookers. My condo smelled incredible! I served the pork directly over the polenta topped with corn kernels, red onion and cilantro. It was such a comfort meal, and I'm having leftovers for lunch today.

Don't be scared of pressure cooking. Use this book as a guide to make everything from beans to tongue (!!!!) to flan!


Weekend Flowers

Have a festive weekend whatever it is you are celebrating! 


Weekend Inspiration: Sparkle

Wishing you a sparkling weekend! 


Taco Tuesday + Travel Tuesday = Austin Report

Today's post is all about Taco Tuesday and Travel Tuesday!

Oh what I would not give for some breakfast tacos! Writing this quick post brings back awesome memories of spending Thanksgiving in Austin with Anna and Kate. Special shout out to Naomi for excellent food recommendations!

This was my second time in Austin and I was looking forward to good food, good company, and low key time. I got it all and more.

Our first taco stop was at Torchy's. It was fun sitting outside, listening to the birds, and discussing the day's plans over tacos, Mexican corn {off the cob} and one of the best spicy guacamole I've had in a while. This was also the first place I've discovered Topo Chico. {Photo above.}

The photo below is from a taco place we visited twice: Las Trancas. Good food at super low prices, good service, music, spicy salsa. What else do you need? Definitely go for tongue tacos, barbacoa and vegetarian!

For something with more ambiance, go for al fresco lunch at El Alma. I had a fish taco with a side of Bloody Mary and mango fresca, chips and salsa and ceviche. That's where the new blog header comes from too. Don't leave this restaurant without trying their tres leches cake.

And finally, Tamale House East. Yes, despite the name, this restaurant with a super cute outdoor space has tacos! We were surprised that tacos were served in flour tortillas {I prefer corn}, so I mostly ate the insides with a fork. A combination of black beans, avocado, and bacon was great. As was the potato/egg/cheese taco. We also tried one of their tamales with mole sauce.

And for some great news, looks like I would not have to go back to Austin to get my taco craving satisfied: my friend Anna is opening Taqueria Del Barrio right in DC! Cannot wait.


Weekend Vibes: Pantone 2017 Color of the Year

Pantone announced its color of the year for 2017 and I could not be happier. It's called Greenery and it's a bright, happy-looking, and vibrant green. Never mind that the name sounds close to an ex boyfriend's last name, this color has been my favorite for years.

If you've been to my condo, you know my kitchen is a bright apple green color.

This color is also something I love in plants, doors, my wallet and handbag.

I think this is the perfect time to look at some greenery and get excited for the weekend ;)