Friday, August 23, 2013

{recipe} quinoa black bean veggie burgers

Say hello to your next dinner.

I made these a few weeks ago, but naturally have slacked like crazy on blogging the recipe. I know that these will 100% be put into my cycle of easy weeknight meals from now on. They are packed with protein and fiber, and low in sodium and fat. And they're pretty. Win, win situation people.

When I was eating this veggie burger, the word that kept popping up into my head was "substantial." Weird, but true! These burgers are nothing like your run-of-the-mill frozen who-knows-what-is-in-here patty from the grocery store. They are... substantial. And fill you up like crazy! So, when in doubt.... make your own veggie burger!

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers:
Recipe found on Inquiring Chef
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (made by running 1/4 rolled oats in the food processor until flour texture)
  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer until water runs clear to avoid a bitter flavor once cooked. Place rinsed quinoa in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Set saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and cook 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Add 1/3 teaspoon salt and saute the onions until they are softened, about 5-6 minutes. Place the mixture into a large bowl. Add black beans to the bowl and using a potato masher or fork, mash together until a pasty mixture forms. 
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, egg, corn, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Stir in the cooked quinoa, oats, and oat flour until well mixed. Form the mixture into 6 equal patties.
  4. Place the patties on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. If you are planning on eating the burgers the night-of, stick the tray into the freezer for about 30-45 minutes. If you can wait, put them in the refrigerator for a few hours or over night. This step helps to hold the burgers together when cooking.
  5. When ready to eat, place the tray directly into a pre-heated 400*F oven. Cook 10-12 minutes until the patties are golden brown and crispy. Flip them over and cook for another 10-12 minutes.

These burgers are incredibly versatile. We ended up serving them with guacamole and sauteed onions, but I think they would be delicious with a sriracha-mayo sauce too. You could even switch out the cilantro for a different herb like parsley or basil and serve these puppies with some roasted garlic, goat cheese, and grilled onions. YUM. Also. They are great over a salad as well. Just saying.

xx, Jen

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

{life} a roaring good time - ciro's speakeasy & supper club

I love getting dressed up. Whether it is in a silly costume from my costume bag for sorority functions, or all glammed up in heels and a dress, I'm all about it! I also happen to be slightly obsessed with the 1920s, so when I heard about a fun new restaurant and bar open in Tampa that is themed as a speakeasy I knew I had to try it out. I threw a little wine and apps party with my best friend and college roommate at her new adorable apartment for a group of our girlfriends, and then we headed on over to see what Ciro's was all about!

{dress} H&M in Madrid {heels} TJMAXX - old

My best friend!

One of the appetizers I threw together before the girls came over! It is super easy & delicious. I also made my go-to spinach balls and an addicting jalapeno popper dip by Closet Cooking.

Black Bean, Corn, & Feta Salsa:

  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch green onions
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 oz. feta cheese
  1. Combine sugar and apple cider vinegar. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in olive oil.
  2. Combine corn, black beans, and green onions in a bowl. Stir in dressing. Add cheese. ENJOY!
I served this dip with tortilla chips, but I have a feeling it would be delicious on top of fish or chicken. 

So after enjoying some {cheap} wine & appetizers, we left the apartment to make our 9:00 reservation at Ciro's. In true speakeasy fashion you have to make a reservation in order to get that night's password. When you knock on the front door of the secluded restaurant, you then have to whisper the password to the door guard. So much fun!

The drinks and food are definitely not in my budget for a weekly visit, but they were just right for a fun night out with friends. Ciro's likes to stay true to their era and specialize in drinks with gin, whisky, bourbon, and rye, but you can also find vodka, tequila, beer, wine, and the likes on the menu as well! 

I ordered two gin drinks. They were ridiculously delicious.

So, after entering the restaurant with a password, we were whisked down a dark hallway to the large private room at the end. After our waitress left, she closed the curtains to ensure our privacy. We were all seriously gushing about what a fun environment it was!

I can't wait to go back in December when I'm home again for the holidays!

Have you ever been to a speakeasy or 20s themed restaurant?

xx, Jen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

{recipe} raw dark chocolate almond butter cups

Today is the day that I bring you dark chocolate. Dark chocolate mixed with sinfully salty and sweet almond butter to make a grown up Reese's PB cup. That's right. No sharing allowed. You'll thank me later.

As a kid I was constantly reaching for the peanut butter and chocolate mixture when my sweet tooth wouldn't stop aching for some treats. I loved to mix peanut butter and chocolate sauce into vanilla ice-cream, absolutely adored Reese's Pieces, ate my weight in Reese's Eggs & Pumpkins during their respective holidays, and slathered peanut butter onto my Oreos (still a favorite of mine - YUM!). I don't know what it is about that magical combination of salty and sweet but I couldn't, and still can't, get enough! So, when I saw this recipe on my favorite vegan blog, Oh She Glows, I knew I had to try it!  Her blog is always my go-to when I feel like making a creative and yummy vegan dish. 

Not only are these delicious, but they are also a healthy, no-bake alternative to your favorite sinful sweet. They aren't quite as sweet as a PB cup, but that's why I love them! They are really quite easy to make, as long as you have a food processor. I don't have one in Spain, so I'm using my parents' as much as I can while I'm home. :)

These are best kept in the freezer because the chocolate layer starts to melt onto your fingertips as soon as they are out. But.... that's okay. That just means you have to eat them more quickly. No problem there!

Raw Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
Adapted slightly from Oh She Glows
Yield: 8 regular sized cups or 1 dozen mini cups

for the base:
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds, ground into a meal
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour
  • 2 tablespoons raw nut butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed if necessary
  • 1.5 tablespoons agave nectar (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste
for the topping:
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste
  1. Add almonds and oats into a high-speed blender and blend on high until a flour forms. Dump into a large bowl and break up any clumps with your fingers.
  2. Add the nut butter, coconut oil, agave (or maple syrup), cinnamon, vanilla and salt into the bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined. The dough should be fairly sticky like cookie dough.
  3. Line a regular muffin tin with paper liners. Portion the dough into each muffin cup and press down until even and smooth.
  4. To make chocolate sauce: Whisk together the coconut oil, sweetner, cocoa powder, and salt until no clumps remain. Spoon the sauce over top each of the cups, distributing evenly.
  5. Place in the freezer in a flat area for 30-45 minutes, until firm. These are best consumed straight from the freezer.


PS. I'm guest blogging over at my sorority sister's blog, MC Squared, while she's on vacation in the Florida Keys. Go check it out. :)

xx, Jen

Thursday, August 15, 2013

{fashion} making waves

Hi friends! I have a special guest blogger here today. Meet Meghan, the creator of uber-fashionable blog MC Squared, who just so happens to be my sorority sister from FSU. She left during our senior year to go do an internship in Los Angeles with a small label fashion brand. I'm sure you've never heard of them.... BCBG anyone?! She was offered a full-time position with BCBG after graduation and went on to live her ridiculously awesome life right after. I'm so excited she is on my blog today. Check hers out!

Open Back White Gauze Dress - Henri Girl Boutique
Brown Strappy Sandals - Zara
Cognac Bag - Dooney & Bourke
Honey Wayfarers - Ray-Ban (color discontinued)
Lipstick - MAC "vegas volt"
Nail Polish - Essie "fear or desire" / "e-nuf is e-nuf" 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

{fashion} Sew Sarah R custom clutches

I love discovering new online boutiques and shops, because I am able to purchase unique items that perfectly fit my style and budget. So when Sarah from Sew Sarah R contacted me, I took one look at her website and fell in love. I know that you will too! I'm so excited to share her company with you.

Helllllllo gorgeous, right?! Sarah creates ready-made clutches in a variety of shapes and fabrics, or you can create your own using her custom-made service. I'm in love with all of the different pattern choices on her site. It is filled with polka dots, chevron, ikat, and other adorable fabrics. I love the fabric on my clutch because I think the colors will perfectly transition into my fall wardrobe.

{top} vestique (old) {shorts} tjmaxx (old) {wedges} bebe (old) {clutch} sew sarah r

{don't mind my horrible ipod 4 photos - need an upgrade!}

My clutch is the perfect size for going out! There is plenty of room for all of the basics.

I highly recommend that you check Sew Sarah R out for the perfect clutch - {facebook} {etsy} {website}.

This was a sponsored product review, but all opinions are my own!

xx, Jen

Monday, August 5, 2013

{recipe} crustless goat cheese cheesecake with mixed berries

I love cheesecake. Peanut butter cup cheesecake. Pumpkin cheesecake. Bourbon pecan pumpkin cheesecake. Any cheesecake really. Cream cheese and I are pretty much best friends in the kitchen.

I didn't think cheesecake could get any better... but then I decided to take my beloved cream cheese out and switch in some goat cheese. Yeah. It happened. And it was delicious.

The flavor was great! It was a little bit lemony, and the light sugar coating at the bottom of the cake was a lovely surprise. You could just taste the goat cheese without it being overpowering. The texture was the same, but it was much lighter than a typical cheesecake. I'm definitely not going to try to stretch the truth and call this "healthy," but you won't feel like you oversplurged as much as you do when eating a traditional cheesecake.

This cheesecake was a little more challenging for me to make than the ones I've made in the past. Mainly because of the pesky addition of beaten egg whites. They are finicky little ingredients to include. You have to wait until "soft peaks form" before folding them into the rest of the cheesecake batter. But it's fine. I succeeded and so can you!

crustless goat cheese cheesecake with mixed berries
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite magazine

cake ingredients:
  • unsalted butter (for pan)
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus more for pan
  • 12 oz. fresh soft goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
topping ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. blueberry preserves + a bit more for color
  • drizzle of agave
  • 1 1/2 pints mixed berries of choice
  • sugar
special equipment: 9" diameter springform pan. electric mixer.

cake directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Butter springform pan and dust with sugar, tapping out any excess.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add 2 egg yolks at a time, beating to blend and scraping down sides of bowl between additions. Reduce speed to low, add flour, and mix just until blended.
  3. Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold 1/4 of egg whites into goat cheese mixture just until blended. Scrape into prepared pan and tap pan to level batter.
  4. Bake cheesecake until top is set but still jiggles slightly in the center, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pan.
topping directions:
  1. While cheesecake is baking, wash and drain berries. Pour into a bowl and coat with a little bit of sugar. Put back into the refrigerator.
  2. Once cake is cool to the touch, mix together greek yogurt, blueberry preserves, and agave. Add enough blueberry preserves to create the color you would like.
  3. Spread yogurt mixture evenly onto the cake, and then place the cake into the refrigerator for an hour or longer. 
  4. Just before serving, decorate the cake with your berries. Serve the extra berries on the side.


xx, Jen

Friday, August 2, 2013

{recipe} whole wheat banana bread pancakes

Happy Friday! You look like you deserve pancakes.

Hi, I'm Jen. I suck at spooning batter onto pans and flipping pancakes to make perfect little circles. Also. Sometimes I let one of the sides get a litttttle too brown because I'm scared of ruining my pancake forever mid-flip. But it's okay. We don't have to be perfect around here. 

Flavor is everything. And guess what? These just happen to taste exactly like your favorite loaf of banana bread, except you don't have to deal with the heat stroke you have when turning on your oven in the middle of the blistering hot summer. You can even throw in some chocolate chips if that's your thing. It's usually mine, but I wasn't thinking clearly yesterday. Next time. :)

Stack 'em high, throw some walnuts on top, and saturate in syrup. As Rihanna would say, "cheers to the freaking weekend." 

Whole Wheat Banana Bread Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Mega Bite, who adapted from the cookbook Pancakes by Adrianna Adarme

**The reason why my pancakes are whole wheat is because I only had about half a cup of all-purpose flour left and was feeling too lazy to go to the grocery store. I subbed half a cup of whole wheat flour and made them healthy! ;) So feel free to use one cup of all-purpose if you don't have whole wheat flour.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 T light brown sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t kosher salt.
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananans (about 2)
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Mix ins and toppings:
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • maple syrup and butter to top
  • butter or oil for the skillet.

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. All at once add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the walnuts.
  2. Preheat your skillet over medium heat and brush with butter or oil. Using 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter onto the warm skillet. cook for 2-3 minutes or until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes, then flip. Cook on opposite side for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. Serve with butter, maple syrup, and more walnuts. Enjoy!

PS. I've created a Facebook page for this blog. I'd love you if you would like it. :)
xx, Jen