August 18, 2014

Overnight Oats


I've never been a big fan of oatmeal - the warm, mushy texture just doesn't do it for me.  However, after reading of their resemblance to raw cookie batter, I was instantly intrigued by overnight oats.  They're cold, creamy, and super easy.  Not to mention, each serving is packed with fiber, a must for morning meals.  As with all my favorite recipes, I love that I can customize these based on what's in season (patiently waiting for you, pumpkin) and what I flavors I'm craving.  I'm currently obsessed with PB2, so I've been throwing that in before chilling, and using fresh chopped figs for extra fiber and a touch of sweetness.

Basic Overnight Oats

1/3c rolled oats
1/3-1/2c almond milk
1/4c yogurt (I like this one, or plain Fage)
2 tsp. chia seeds
pinch of cinnamon

Combine ingredients in an small jar or tupperware, stir, and refrigerate for at least three hours (preferably overnight).  In the morning, top with your favorite toppings (mine include flax seeds, crushed almonds, and fresh fruit).

July 9, 2014

Istanbul









 


Last but not least, and after much delay, I'm so excited to share photos from the final stop on our Europe trip.  We had a few issues (a back injury, potential food poisoning...) that held us back from exploring to the fullest, but still took advantage of the variety of activities and stunning architecture that Istanbul had to share.  A transcontinental city (straddling both Europe and Asia) with rich cultural and historical roots, Istanbul is unlike any other place.  The "east meets west" dynamic is ubiquitous, as women in burkas grab coffee at Starbucks, while teenagers in crop tops explore ancient mosques.  Truly a spectacular city that is worth a few days of exploring!

+ Spend a day or two exploring the Old City (Sultanhamet).  Take a half hour to explore the Blue Mosque, but be sure to avoid going during designated prayer times.  Walk around the grounds of the Topkapi Palace and admire the unbelievable tiling in the Harem.  This was probably my favorite site of the whole trip.  And be sure not to miss the Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern.

+ Time to shop!  The Grand Bazaar is where it's at - but do your research and have specific shops in mind if you want to buy things.  I loved the selection of hand made ceramics, Turkish scarves, and rugs.  Be prepared to haggle in order to score the price you want.

+ For a more relaxed vibe, I loved the Arasta Bazaar.  It's probably 1/100th the size of the Grand Bazaar but I thought the shops were higher quality.  Jennifer's Hamam is an absolute must - her Turkish towels and robes are the best!

+ The Spice Bazaar (or Egyptian Bazaar) is another fun market in the Old City area.  Wander around, enjoy some apple tea, and eat as many Turkish delight as you possibly can.

+ One of the coolest things about Istanbul is that it actually straddles two continents.  Take the ferry to the Asian side - from Karakoy (by the Galata Bridge) to Kadikoy - and spend a few hours walking around the market.  Before heading back, eat at lunch at Ciya Sofrasi and chill out with ice cream from Moda.

+ After checking all the tourist boxes, spend the rest of your time in the Galata/Beyoglu neighborhood.  It's a little touristy, but has a more relaxed vibe and is good for the young adult crowd.  Wander around the boutiques of Istikal Cadessi, have lunch at Gram, then splurge for dinner at Mezze by Lemontree (make a reservation!).  Other notable dinner spots are Karakoy Lokantasi and Munferit.

June 18, 2014

Pattern Play



When it comes to home decor (and fashion), my style preferences are constantly changing.  It's the never-ending battle of bold colors and playful patterns versus the clean simplicity of subtle neutrals.  I found so many sources of inspiration during my trip to Italy and Istanbul (um, hello Topkapi Palace & Blue Mosque) that I'm currently feeling the urge to wallpaper my entire apartment and replace my gray rug with something more vibrant.

While I'm still in this color/pattern phase, I have to share an this incredible Moroccan bungalow recently featured on Domaine Home.  It's a little slice of aesthetic heaven, each room with a selection of playful patterns and curated decor.  I can't help but imagine what it'd be like to come home each day to such a beautifully styled home!  For more photos and information, check out full post here.

June 16, 2014

Amalfi Coast - Positano









If it's not obvious by these photos, the Amalfi Coast was stunning.  I mean seriously, seriously beautiful.  I loved everything about it - breakfast overlooking the water on our terrace, afternoons hiking in the hot sun, evenings traversing the windy (terrifying) roads on the way to dinner, and ending the day with a shot of sweet limoncello.  We spent most of our time in Positano, a touristy little fishing village perfectly situated between Sorrento and Amalfi, and stayed at an amazing bed & breakfast right outside the main town.  A few highlights that absolutely cannot be missed:

+ Take an afternoon cooking class at Buca di Bacco - this was one of my favorite days of the entire trip.  We spent three hours with an Italian chef learning how to prepare eggplant parmesan, tomato sauce, profiteroles, and two types of fresh pasta.

+ Southern Italy is the home of Margherita pizza, so be sure to sample a few.  We even drove to Naples one afternoon to eat at the famous Da Michele and Pizzeria Trianon.

+ Hire a boat for a day trip to Capri

+ For absolutely breathtaking views, spend a morning hiking the Sentiero degli dei (Path of the Gods) - we chose the more challenging route starting in Positano and ending in the teeny tiny town of Agerola.  The hike itself is only about five miles, but is very steep and windy, so it seems a little harder than it actually is.  Be sure to bring lots of water!

Shop!  Positano is known for ceramics, leather sandals, and limoncello.


June 10, 2014

Tuscany










For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of going to Italy.  So when we were deciding where to travel between London and Istanbul, Italy was the obvious choice.  We spent the first few days in Gaiole in Chianti, a little Tuscan town surrounded by castles and wineries.  I can't even begin to describe the sheer beauty and magnificence of this region.  Vineyards for miles and miles in every direction, and a relaxed, countryside vibe perfect for unplugging.  Everything was incredible, but here are a few of my recommendations:

+ Relax: In wine country, relaxing is the name of the game.  I'm generally bad at doing nothing, but long, leisurely breakfasts are one of my favorite luxuries.  It was so nice to slow down and enjoy the morning instead of jumping right into a list of activities.

+ Explore: We loved walking around the property of Castello di Brolio (a castle built in the middle ages), wine tasting at Avignonesi and Castello di Spaltenna, and checking out the nearby towns of Montepulciano, Pienza, and Siena.

+ Drive: Driving is pretty much the only way to get around and allows for impromptu gelato or winery stops (which are practically mandatory).  We rented a sweet Fiat 500 and loved speeding around the windy, narrow roads of Tuscany.

+ Indulge: Drink at least one cappuccino per day.  And when you've had enough caffeine, start drinking house red wine (wherever you are, it will be good).  Eat as much homemade pasta as humanly possible, especially when it's topped with shaved truffles - the Tagliolini con Tartufo at Osteria del Ponte was to die for.  Don't forget to sample fresh olive oil and local Pecorino.  And take a cooking class!  We did ours later in the trip, but I hear Falorni has a great school.

June 6, 2014

Friday Favorites // Donut Day!

Happy National Donut Day!  I'm just a little bit excited.  In our house, there's a strange culture of super healthy weekday meals, separated by weekends full of splurge-worthy junk food.  Saturday morning donut runs are definitely not uncommon, and are one of my favorite indulgences.  In the spirit of today's holiday, here's a bit of donut-themed inspiration:

+ I'm a sucker for printed pajama sets (I already own the cupcake ones...)
+ A mouthwatering roundup of America's 50 Best Donuts - road trip anyone?
+ Forget Bloody Marys, the "Donut Sunrise" is where it's at
+ This book: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your "Hole" Day
+ A throwback to my first time making donuts.  These are up next:

Peanut Butter Fluff Donuts
Donut Cupcakes
Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt Donuts
Baked Funfetti Donuts

photo via fancy ever after

June 3, 2014

London






I recently visited London for the first time (it was the first stop on our two week European adventure) and instantly fell in love.  I'll be honest - London hadn't been at the top of my travel list, mainly due to its lack of allure as an adventurous travel destination.  But, after one day wandering around the quaint streets of Notting Hill, I knew there was more to London than gray skies and pub food.  First and foremost, the city is extremely walkable.  I barely set foot on the Tube because it was so easy to get everywhere by foot.  I loved exploring the different neighborhoods, falling in love with the Georgian-style architecture, and of course, enjoying afternoon tea.  Here are a few things you can't miss:

+ Sightseeing - be sure to check out Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace & Gardens, Buckingham Palace, and Picadilly Circus

+ Notting Hill - get lunch to go at Ottolenghi (the carrots with sumac are to die for), then pop into Daylesford for afternoon tea

+ Chelsea - for boutique shopping and a workout at Barrecore (it's seriously tough!)

+ Harrods Food Hall - I'm not normally attracted to big shopping centers when traveling, but this is a must

+ Covent Garden - wander around the market and have lunch at Dishoom

+ Fortnum & Mason - perfect spot for afternoon tea and souvenir shopping

+ To stay - I loved the Knightsbridge, but all Firmdale Hotels are incredible.  Great location and amazing decor make for the perfect boutique experience.

June 2, 2014

The Mill

I've mentioned The Mill a few times before, but after yet another visit this weekend, I think it's time to give my favorite cafe a post of its own.  Set on bustling Divisadero Street, within dangerous proximity to one of my favorite restaurants and definitely my favorite grocery store, this light-filled shop is consistently packed with San Franciscans seeking a jolt of caffeine and a piece of $4 toast.  This joint venture between Josey Baker Bread and Four Barrel Coffee has a very small menu consisting of basic coffee/espresso drinks, and four types of toast, topped with anything from almond butter to homemade rhubarb jam and sea salt.  There are also at least six different loaves and various kitchenwares available for sale (just saying).  Honestly, I could spend all day in this place, sipping cappuccinos and nibbling on my favorite toast - country bread with butter and cinnamon sugar.

A must try for anyone visiting or living in this wonderful city!
photo via eater

May 30, 2014

Friday Favorites

After two weeks of traveling, I'll be using this weekend to catch up with friends and adjust back to my normal routine (that doesn't include eating pizza and pasta for every single meal).  Though our trip was packed with nonstop activity, I feel recharged and ready have an action-packed weekend - I can't wait to hit up my favorite coffee spot, enjoy a workout or two, and eat sushi at least once.  Here are a few recent finds:

+ For spring detoxing, this alkalizing green soup will be a weekday staple 
+ Loved this book - Birds Without Wings - especially in preparation for Istanbul
+ Can't wait to work my way through this list of the best donuts in San Francisco
+ With peonies all over Trader Joe's (and Instagram), here's how to keep them alive

March 25, 2014

Spicy Miso Kelp Noodle Ramen

After discovering kelp noodles at Whole Foods a few weeks ago, I've been trying to come up with creative ways to incorporate them into my weeknight cooking routine (weekends are obviously reserved for real pasta and other delicious indulgences).  Taste and consistency-wise, kelp noodles are similar to vermicelli - great for Asian-style noodle bowls, stir fries and soups.  And calorie-wise, they basically don't exist (seriously, an entire bag has 24 calories).  This miso ramen is packed with flavor and spice, but makes for a pretty light dinner, so I recommend adding some sort of protein (fried egg, shrimp, etc.) to make it a full meal.

Spicy Miso Kelp Noodle Ramen

4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch knob ginger, chopped
1 jalapeño, julienned
32 oz. chicken broth
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. Sriracha
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 bag kelp noodles
10 mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup bean sprouts

In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté garlic, ginger and jalapeño for about two minutes.  Add chicken broth, miso paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, soy sauce, and kelp noodles.  Cover and cook for about ten minutes, until noodles are really soft.  Add mushrooms and scallions, then cook for an additional minute or so.  Taste and adjust seasoning to taste (I added a pinch salt and another squirt of Sriracha), garnish with bean sprouts, and serve immediately.