Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thai Chicken Pizza

thai pizza

Pizza is a universal food. Who doesn't love that gift from the gods? I just don't believe I'll ever meet someone who doesn't love pizza, but then again I can't believe there are non-chocolate lovers running around in the world. 
I made this Thai Chicken Pizza recently (okay, as recent as Valentines - hence the heart shape), and found that it satiated both my pizza and pad thai cravings (I crave both as regularly as water). This recipe is actually somewhat healthy too - if you opt to go with whole wheat dough. Here's how simple it is:

Thai Chicken Pizza
(adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

1 batch of your favorite Pizza Dough, homemade or store-bought
Flour to roll out dough
Cooking Spray
Thai Peanut Sauce (found in the Asian aisle of grocery stores)
1 Zucchini, thinly sliced
Red Chili Flakes
Cooked, shredded Chicken
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (part-skim to be healthy)
Chopped Peanuts (optional)
Fresh Cilantro

1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Lightly knead dough and roll out to about a 1/4 inch thick, or however your like the thickness of your crust, using a rolling pin. Use flour to prevent from sticking. Lay the dough down on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray or a pizza stone.
2. Spread the Thai peanut sauce on the surface of the dough. Not too thick, not too thin. Arrange the sliced  zucchini. Top with the red chili flakes, to your desired hotness, and shredded chicken. Sprinkle with the cheese. Use the proportions of ingredients you like, it's your pizza! 
3. Cook pizza for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on your crust and toppings so they do not burn. Every oven is different. Once the pizza dough is golden around the edges and the cheese is nice and bubbly, remove pizza from the oven.
4. Top with the crushed peanuts and fresh cilantro. Slice and serve.

That's all, folks!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Inspired by the 90's

The 90's had so many diverse musical genres - grunge, Britpop, boy bands, hip hop, feminist singer-songwriters, shoegazing, etc. And since everything that goes around comes around, it seems as though 90's fashions are coming back too, which I think has to do with the fact that our Generation Y of 20-somethings are now the trendsetters and often refer back to the nostalgia and fashions of their childhood.
Music inspired by various genres the 90's is on it's way back too, and I couldn't be happier.
This playlist is a compilation of songs that you could as well heard on your Walkman in the 90's (an indie/Lady Gaga mix):

1. Whirring - The Joy Formidable (late 90's alt-rock)
2. Scissor Runner  - Jenny and Johnny
3. Let's Go Home - Best Coast
4. Ocean of Lust - Devotchka (very Rusted Root)
5. She's Got You High - Mumm-Ra (Britpop)
6. It's Real - Real Estate
7. Alejandro - Lady Gaga (think Ace of Base)
8. Cherokee - Cat Power
9. Falling (Twin Peaks Theme) - Field Mouse
10. Coming Down - Dum Dum Girls (so Mazzy Star)
11. California Daze - Peace (Oasis meets The Beatles)
12. Everybody's Heart's Breaking Now - Lavender Diamond
13. The Great Defector - Bell X1 (R.E.M.)
14. Endtapes - The Joy Formidable
15. Windstorm - School of Seven Bells
16. Eh, Eh, (Nothing Else I Can Say) - Lady Gaga (girly pop)

Here them all:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Albums I Will Always Love: Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous

Rilo Kiley
More Adventurous

2004's More Adventurous really solidified my love and devotion to all things Rilo Kiley and Jenny Lewis. Where their previous albums stuck to a folk rock, late 90's indie sound, this album explored all the possibilities of what kind of band they could be and what kind of genres they could pull off (which they seamlessly do). This is an eclectically put-together album but don't confuse that with non-cohesiveness. I think the title of this album is pretty straightforward of how they were trying to challenge themselves - be more adventurous. The genres range from hard, alt-rock to a soulful ballad to Hawaiian, palm trees-swaying kind of music. What keeps this album together are the biting/truthful lyrics and Jenny's unwavering voice. Each of the songs are little stories with lots of metaphors to make you listen and oftentimes laugh. 
All the reasons above are what makes this album, unarguably, Rilo Kiley's best. 

Any chimp can play human for a day
And use his opposable thumbs to iron his uniform
And run for office on election day
And fancy himself a real decision maker
Then deploy more troops than salt in a shaker
 - It's a Hit

I've been trying to nod my head, but it's like I've got a broken neck
Wanting to say 'I will' as my last testament
For you to be saved and me to be brave
We don't have to walk down that aisle
'Cause if marriage ain't enough
Well, at least we'll be loved
 - More Adventurous

Check out: "Does He Love You?" is a heartbreaking story from the "other woman's" point of view, "A Man / Me / Then Jim" is a story best enjoyed in hammock on the beach with a pina colada in hand, and "Portions for Foxes maybe their most popular song, because of the relatable lyrics and overall badass-ness "Baby, I'm bad news."
Rilo Kiley has upsettingly broken up, but I think devoted fans saw this coming. Their last album, full of unrealized tracks, RKives is due out in April.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gyro Nachos

gyro nachos gyro nachos 
My parents and I have a tradition of making nachos every Super Bowl and we've experimented with everything from the classic Mexican nachos to Italian nachos. Being obsessed with all things Greek and Mediterranean, I couldn't resist making this recipe for Gyro Nachos. 
I think this will impress my future Greek mother-in-law. 

Gyro Nachos
(adapted from Back to Her Roots)

1 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
1 bag whole wheat pita chips
1 bag regular white pita chips
1 batch tzatziki sauce (mix together 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons dried/fresh dill, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste)
favorite gyro toppings: chopped cucumber, chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta, sliced black olives, diced red onion

Preheat oven to 425°.
In a large skillet, brown ground lamb with Cavender’s over medium low heat until cooked through. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
To assemble nachos, layer pita chips on a baking sheet, top with lamb, tzatziki and favorite toppings (except cucumbers).
Bake for about 12-15 min until bubbly and golden. Top with chopped cucumbers and dig in.

gyro nachos
More Greek Recipes:


Monday, February 18, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Workout 1.0

I've been collecting a lot of energetic, cardio-friendly music lately and thought it was about time for a high-intensity workout playlist:

1. I Love It (feat. Charli XCX) - Icona Pop (I heard this song on Girls and was immediately hooked - it's T.A.T.U. meets Lady Gaga.)
2. Look at These Hoes - Santigold
3. Push and Shove - No Doubt (The Queen of Abs deserves a spot on any workout mix.)
4. Come Into My Head - Kimbra
5. Take What You Take - Lily Allen
6. Closer - Tegan and Sara (I am obsessed with their latest album - Heartthrob)
7. One - Sky Ferreira
8. Girls - Santigold
9. XR2 - M.I.A.
10. Schei├če - Lady Gaga
11. When You're Around - Frankmusik (samples Alexi Murdoch)
12. Power & Control - Marina and the Diamonds


There is also an iPhone app for 8tracks - so you can listen to your playlists on the go.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Paperman

I am a day late and a dollar short, but I think this video is very fitting for Valentine's Day. Only Disney can tug at your heartstrings or make you cry with their animation. 
(update: It appears as though Disney has taken down the full version, the video above is just a trailer for the animated short. )

Bonus Jonas: selected lovey-dovey songs from (this and this) mixtapes of Valentines past

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sassy Sugar Cookies

bra cookies
I decorated these sassy little bra and pantie cookies at work a few months ago, and was recently thinking how appropriate they are for Valentines Day. 
Use any favorite sugar cookie or shortbread recipe you like (or store bought dough) and cut out large hearts from rolled dough. Cut off the tip of the heart and bake. When cookies are cool, decorate to look like bras and panties with buttercream icing. 
I giggle every time I look at these, they are pretty hilarious...about as sexy as cookies can be I guess! Unless there are cookies with Tom Hardy's face on them, then those would win - hands down.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mardi Gras King Cake

king cake
Balcony in French Quarter
king cake

How I wish I were in New Orleans right now for Mardi Gras parades and festivities. I went two years ago and it was amazing. Which is a complete understatement because words can't describe it. If you haven't been yet, I recommend adding "go to as many Mardi Gras as possible" to your bucket list. 

Because I won't be in the Big Easy and it was my grandmother's birthday (who was born in Mobile, AL - where Mardi Gras actually originated in the states) I decided to make a traditional King Cake. Growing up in New Orleans as a kid, we had King Cake on the reg at school during the Mardi Gras season (not to mention days off from school - wait, why am I not living there??). I know the real stuff, and I can spot an impostor King Cake before even tasting it. 

I normally have bad luck when it comes to using yeast, but thankfully my dad is an expert at using it (he saved this dough). Knowing Emeril is an expert on all things New Orleans, I decided to give his recipe a try. I loved Cucina Girl's picture-by-picture tutorial on how to craft the perfect King Cake, great for novices like me! 

*A mistake I made was not allowing the active dry yeast to activate, so I recommend using instant yeast - MUCH easier to deal with!
*Also, the King Cake filling, to me, is the best part! So I would double the cream cheese mixture and use a cup of pecans, instead of 1/4 cup

Day Floatsking cake 
The King Cake was a success and almost consumed in one day. I would absolutely use this recipe again - so authentic!
Mardi Gras Beads king cake

Here are some selected songs from my Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras mixtapes to bake a King Cake to:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentine's Day Pins {Pinterest}

{source / pin it}

Here are some Valentine's Day ideas straight from my Pinterest board.
Even as a perpetually single female, I have a soft spot for this commercial holiday. But I guess I love any excuse to celebrate and make themed-crafts and treats.
top: {source / pin it} // {source / pin it}     
bottom: Valentine's Bark {source / pin it} // {source / pin it}

Pinwheel Sugar Cookies
Pink Meringue Cupcakes {source / pin it}  // Cherry Chocolate Kisses {source / pin it}

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Concrete Wall

Lately, I cannot get "Concrete Wall" by Zee Avi out of my head. With it's catchy hook and a caeppla driven rhythm, it exudes coolness. I've complied a playlist all similar to this song - cool, calm and collected with an undeniable beat.

1. Concrete Wall - Zee Avi
2. Twice - Little Dragon
3. Bop Bop  - Mean Lady
4. By Your Side - CocoRosie
5. Because - The Bird and the Bee
6. Ritual Reunion - Little Dragon
7. So This Is Goodbye - William Fitzsimmons (Pink Ganter Remix)
8. The Suburbs (Arcade Fire Cover) - Mr. Little Jeans
9. Crystalized - The XX


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chicago, via Instagram

chicago chicago
chicago chicago
As many of you know, I am planning a big move to Chicago this spring/summer. And since it's been 6 years since I visited there, I decided to rekindle my love for the city by going in the coldest time of the year. If I can love Chicago despite it's freezing weather, I think I can always love it. 
This trip left me with answers and confidence. 

Received great advice and pointers from some girls I went to high school with that live there, and their love of the city makes me want to move sooner ... Led a self-guided tour through the affordable neighborhoods and fell head over heels for Lincoln Park (not the band) ... Rode the "L" train and never got lost! (that's pretty remarkable) ... Met strangers along the way and they were very pleasant and helpful, whether I needed directions or to share a two-top at a crowded cafe ... Saw a show at The Second City and took a improv class there! Since The Second City is a main reason why I am moving there, I am relieved that I really enjoyed the class and show ... Spotted lots of attractive boys, apparently the ratio is 9 guys to 1 girl (another reason to move there) ... Checked out some bakeries, since that's the sort of job I'll probably have when I first get there, and had a delicious funfetti cupcake injected with cake batter ... Ended my stay by being a tourist and visiting the neat-o sculptures at Millennium Park

This move is all so real to me now, even though I don't know the month or where or who I will be living with. I've still got some money to save, because the livin' ain't cheap (especially when you're paying for improv classes). 
I've got these butterflies about it too, but the good kind, the kind you get when you know you're about to be out of your comfort zone. Out of your routine and don't have your best friends or family with you. It's easy to get comfortable and complacent with your place in life, even though you want more and are capable of achieving it. One of my favorite quotes: "Do something every day that scares you" - Eleanor Roosevelt (my first daughter will be named Eleanor, I hope my future husband is on board).
I feel like I am about to go to college all over again. Lately, my mantra has is: If I can move to Charleston, not know anyone, and end up making best friends, I can do it in Chicago too. 
I can't compare the future friend groups to friend groups of the past, because they will all be vastly different, but all serve a purpose for me at that time in my life and the friendships will evolve as we age. The qualities I look for in friends, though, never waivers. 

Sorry, I am now rambling...

BUT bottom line, despite the weird, slushy sheets of ice falling from the sky one day,
I confidently left Chicago knowing that this is the next step, and that good things will come of it.

chicago chicago chicago chicago 
 From my very short stay, here are some recommendations:

Floriole Cafe and Bakery (Lincoln Park) aesthetically reminded me a lot of Tartine in San Francisco. Their menu changes daily - I had a bacon, apricot jam, arugula, and goat cheese sandwich on toasted cornbread. WOW. 
Molly's Cupcakes (multiple locations in Chicago) is where I had that cake batter cupcake. All their cupcakes are filled and were so hard to choose from.
Ba Le (Washington St.) has amazing, fresh and hot Banh Mi's (I think I should write a book about Banh Mi's across America). Spicy and authentic - they also sold French Macaroons!
See a show at The Second City! You will laugh to pieces. Great stuff!
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