The Perks of Living Alone and a Plum-Almond Tart in a Buckwheat Spelt Crust

Living alone can be absolutely fantastic.  Sometimes I think I’m borderline hermit, because there’s nothing I love more than crawling into my batcave and not talking to a single person.  A lot of people ask me if I get lonely living alone.  Honestly, some days… YES (especially when I hear a noise on my patio, even though I’m 99.9% sure it’s the fat black cat that likes to hang out).

But then other days, I cherish the fact that I’m independent.  So in case you’re wondering, here are some of the perks of living alone:

1. Permanent No-Pants Party.  Pants are over-rated.  When you live alone, you can walk around with no pants.  There’s no one to hide from or be judged by.  It’s just you and your thighs, hanging out.

2. The peanut butter jar is yours and only yours. 

peanutbutter

You can dip your fingers in peanut butter, eat huge bowls of ice cream, have handfuls of chocolate chips, and pretend like calories don’t matter, because if no one saw you consume it, it didn’t happen.  Ok so I’m kidding, but really you can have ridiculous eating habits and no one will judge you.  Jesse saw me devour a banana with almond butter one day and was completely horrified.  I keep it private now.  (Note: the obvious exception to this is the awesome roommate who goes to the store to get half moon cookies and coconut popswith you at midnight… looking at you Christina!)

3.  You’re the Queen of the Remote.  This is pretty much self-explanatory.  You decide what’s on TV… I’ve watched the same 2 episodes of Catfish like 5 times… When Jesse comes over and I turn it on, he comments on how we already saw that one… Oh yeah…

4.  You can fart if you want to.  Totally not lady-like, but let’s be honest, everyone farts.  It just happens.  When you live alone, you don’t have to worry about anyone else hearing you, because no one is around.  You can keep up lady-like appearances in public when you know you can let loose at home.

5.  You can hog the kitchen and bake whenever you want. 

plumalmondtart1

I’ve been lucky and have generally had roommates who are cool with me dominating the kitchen.  Only one roommate was not ok with it (there’s a reason I live alone now…).  But the best part of living alone, for me, is being able to spend hours with baking experiments, like this plum-almond tart.

plumalmondtart3

I’m going to be totally up front and honest with you.  I have mixed feelings with this recipe so I decided not to share my recipe.  I’m going to try again until I get it to taste awesome.   I wanted to love this tart, because it has all the makings an an awesome blog post: healthy alternatives, unique non-wheat flour, no added refined sugar (does maple syrup count? It’s still sugar).

The crust is made of buckwheat and spelt flours.

buckwheatspeltcrust

Honestly, this crust tastes a little too “healthy” for my liking, and the texture is a little too crumbly, not flakey.  The filling on the other hand, I liked.  Moist but nutty and slightly “healthy” tasting.  It involves almond meal and maple syrup.  And the plums.  Divine.

plumalmondtart2

Ok so at this point, I’ve told you why living alone is great and why it’s not so great.  I’ve also told you why this tart was awesome and also not so awesome.

Do you live alone? Do you love it? Hate it?  Do you have roommates/friends/partners you live with?  What’s best?

 

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I Will NEVER be Joy the Baker

My blog is having an identity crisis, as it periodically does.  Every so often I reassess what I’m doing and try to figure out if it’s making me happy.

Lately, I’ve come to a very important realization: I will NEVER be Joy the Baker.

Image from Joy the Baker (I hope she doesn’t mind that I borrowed her pic)

I feel like Joy the Baker is the blogger that we all (or maybe just me?) strive to be like, because it’s awesome and she takes awesome photos and I pretty much think we’d be great friend.  But let’s be honest.  I will NEVER be Joy the Baker.  I mean honestly, who will I even convince to take an awesome picture of me like the one above?

I’m not hipstery cute enough.  I don’t have enough antique plates or counter space.  I don’t have an orange cat.

And let’s be honest, I don’t really want to be all those things (ok I might want more plates, but who doesn’t?).  I think I’ve reached a point in my life (aka I’m a grown-ass woman- ish) to realize that being my own person is more important that trying to get more readers.

With food blogs these days, I feel enormous pressure to have awesome photos and amazing props and make ridiculous recipes.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 6.19.11 PM

You know what I mean… your caramel-banana-pecan-bourbon-cardamom-date-almond milkshake must have 3 paper straws in it and it must be served in a golden chalice.

Hmm not really my style or in my budget.  So let’s stop trying to be that.   I’ll let Sally keep up the ridiculous recipes with the ridiculously bright photos.

I’ll stick to being Karla at Foodologie and tell you a few things about me so we can clear the air.

1. My life is a constant battle between my love of sugar and my desire to be strong and fit.

2. I love baking almost as much as I love eating, but I have a huge guilty conscious.

3. I got an extra part-time job largely so I could pay for crossfit (we can talk about this more later).

4. My internet is often so crappy that blogs don’t even load for me.  True story.  Often times, I read your blog and don’t comment because I get frustrated after 10 minutes of trying to comment with no avail. (I have no idea why this is relevant).

I love blogging and I’m still trying to find my niche in the blogging world.  But ultimately it comes down to just being me and not caring what other people think.

Ok that’s all I got.  I’m going to go try to make a buckwheat pie crust.  Wish me luck, then tell me which blogger you admire!

Technical Difficulties and My Baking Wish List

Hi All.  I have so many things to tell you about… OC Restaurant Week (that’s happening now!), my first attempt at mac and cheese, gnocchi making.  So many things!

But sadly, I’m having technical difficulties with some photos and my internet just plain sucking most days.  So while I get that sorted out, let’s talk about things I’ve been dying to make lately, but haven’t had a chance to…

(Image from Martha Stewart)

Crepe Cake.  I don’t even really like crepes.  I just want to make tons of crepes, and layer them with some amazingly delicious fillings.  I have so many ideas for a wonderful crepe cake.  I hope it happens soon.  If you’ve made one tell me if it’s amazing or not.

Challah

Bake Bread.  I haven’t made bread in a really long time.  In fact, I think the last bread I made was the Challah in the photo above.  I’d love to make a good, hearty wheat bread, or maybe some pretzel rolls.

Along those lines… bread pudding.  I made some not too long ago, but I didn’t try it and I hated my photos.  That probably means I need to remake it.   Sometimes I still reminisce about this Bourbon Bread Pudding I made a long time ago…

breadpudding3

Memories.

I’m also really curious to experiment with new flours and healthier baking options.  I remember I made that Bourbon Bread Pudding because I made some wheat berry bread that didn’t taste very good.  Back then I used to experiment.  What happened to that?

Well I’m off to take my Dad to the airport.  Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend and making (and eating) lots of tasty things!

What’s on your list of things to make?

Nectarine Tart with Pistachio Oat Crumble

Pies vs Tarts?

What’s the difference?  Great question.  There’s probably an official answer but honestly to me they’re the same thing.  The only difference is the type of pan you make it in.  But honestly, you can make any tart recipe into a pie and any pie recipe in to a tart.  So whether you want to call this a pie or a tart, I’m ok with either.

I took this to a potluck and I think I called it a pie.  But now that I think about it, I made it in a tart pan so it should be called a tart.  A tart sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

nectarine tart1

Pie sounds homey.  Tart sounds regal.  I’m ok with fancy business, but let’s be honest, I’m not a fan of expensive.  My tart pan was $2.50 at the Good Will.  I wanted to keep this dessert low budget too.  I went to the store and looked for the cheapest fruit available.  That’s my strategy because generally the cheapest fruit is in season.

Nectarines were $0.50/lb.  So awesome.  It took about $1.50 worth of fruit to make this tart.   Beautiful and frugal.  I’m into it.

nectarine tart3

Nectarine Tart with Pistachio Oat Crumble

For Crust:

175g All Purpose Flour (about 1 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp Sugar
pinch of Salt
1 stick of Butter, cold
2 tbsp (maybe more) Ice Water

For Filling:

8 Nectarines, diced
1 1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp Cinnamon (optional)
2 tbsp Rum (Optional)

For Topping:

1/2 cup Flour
1/3 cup Oats
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 tbsp White Sugar
1/4 Pistachios, chopped
pinch of Salt
4 tbsp Butter (plus extra for placing on top)
1 tbsp Rum (optional)

Prepare pie crust by combing flour, sugar and salt.  Using your fingers, break the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse crumbs (even pea sized is fine).  Add ice water and bring it all together into a ball using your hands.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours.  You can make this up to two days in advance (or much longer and freeze it).

Once the dough has rested enough (a few hours or days), roll out and place into a 9 inch fluted tart pan (this will also work in a pie dish).  Place in freezer while you make the filling and topping.

nectarine tart4

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Dice nectarines (leave the skin on) and combine with sugar, flour, cinnamon and rum.  Set aside and make the topping.  In a bowl, combine ingredients for filling.  Using your fingers, work ingredients together (feel free to add more pistachios if you’d like) until the texture of coarse crumbs.

Now assemble tart.  Place nectarine filling into prepared tart pan.  Top with crumble topping.  Lay a few thin pats of butter over the top.  Bake for about an hour and a half, or until filling is bubbling and top is golden.

Allow to cool completely.  Serve and enjoy!

nectarine tart2

This was a big hit.  I was a fan.  I loved the crumble topping with pistachios in it, and let’s be honest… nectarines > peaches, but we never see nectarines in a pie/tart.  I’m not sure why, but I’m glad I changed that.  Also, everyone should leave the skin on the fruit.  Just saying…

For some reason I’m thinking plum pie needs to happen sometime soon, because I never see plums in a pie.

What’s your favorite fruit pie?  If you have an awesome recipe, share it in the comments!

My Search for the Best Protein Powder

I read a lot of health and fitness blogs.  I’m definitely a fan, but one of the things that sometimes irks me is that their lives don’t seem real to me in the sense that many of my favorite blogs are run by full-time bloggers.  They work from home, and have a schedule where they can work out at a variety of different times and can prepare their meals just before eating them since they’re at home.  In that sense, I can’t really relate.  My breakfasts don’t normally look like this:

pancakebreakfast

Ok so they don’t have breakfasts like that everyday either, but doesn’t it seem like it sometimes?

During the week I don’t really have time to make elaborate breakfasts.  Most days sleep and convincing myself to get my butt to the gym are more important.  Consequently, most mornings are a little bit like this:

Rushing out the door with a smoothie in a jar, my purse and my lunch bag.  A smoothie for breakfast is great, because I can drink it in the car or at my desk when I get to the office.  Lately, I’ve been trying to add protein to my morning smoothies to help keep me fuller longer.  I’ve had a container of protein powder sitting in my cupboard for over a year and honestly, I hated the taste.

I decided to go on a mission: to find the perfect protein powder.

My criteria are pretty limited: calories and taste.  I don’t want something too high in calories or sugar, but I definitely want it to taste good and keep me full til lunch.  So I went to the store and found as many single serving protein packets as possible.  Let me tell you about some of the ones I tried.

As a control, I mixed all of these protein powders with: 1/2 banana, mango chunks, spinach, kale, water, ice.  I figured that’s what I normally would want to have it with, so if it tastes good with that, I’d be pleased.

Just a note: I bought all of these protein powders on my own, I was not compensated for any of this.  This is just my opinion based on my palate.  I’m not a nutritionist or any type of expert on protein powder, I’m just a consumer sharing an opinion.

1. Garden of Life: Raw Protein

gardenoflife

Flavor: Real Raw Vanilla (they also have a chocolate and vanilla chai, I believe)

Taste:  Good.  A little on the sweet side.  It’s sweetened with stevia, which isn’t terrible.  I guess if you just mixed this with water or almond milk it might be the perfect sweetness (since mango and banana I mixed it with are sweet also)

Texture:  A tiny bit gritty, but not too bad.

Price: the small packet I got was $2.79, which is kind of expensive for a single serving.  On Amazon, a 22oz (approx. 28 servings) container costs $25.83.  That comes out to about $0.92/serving.  Not too bad, price wise.

Calories: 90 Calories for 17g of protein.  Keeps the smoothie pretty low cal, which for me is great.

Overall: I really like this one.  The flavor is great.  It was a little grittier than the others but I didn’t mind it.  I definitely like that it’s vegan, raw and plant-based.  I’m considering buying the large container of this one.

2. Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake

vegaone

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Super tasty!  It reminded me of a milk shake, but that makes sense.  This isn’t actually protein powder.  It’s like an all-in-one nutrition shake, that said it had 15g of protein so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Texture: Super smooth.  I was definitely a fan of this.

Price: Probably the most expensive one.  Roughly 22 servings for $55.99 on Amazon.  That comes out to about $2.55 per serving.  Priceyyyyy…

Calories: 135 calories for 15g of protein.   BONUS: 6g of fiber! 50% of your daily vitamins and minerals.

Overall:  This was really good.  Loved the flavor and the texture.  It kept me full for a long time, but honestly, the deal breaker for me is the price. Woh woh.

3. 100% Whey Gold Standard

Flavor: Chocolate. I’m not really a fan of chocolate protein powder but I gave it a try anyway. My Co-worker gave me a serving of this to try.

Taste: Ok, not too chocolatey when mixed with the fruit and greens.   My complaint is that it has that whey protein after taste that I’m not a big fan of, but that’s subjective and also sorta just the nature of the beast.  I found myself guzzling this as quickly as possible just to get it over with… womp.

Texture: Very smooth!  Not gritty at all.  Definitely a bonus.  If you like frothy (which I hate), this (like other whey powders) gets frothy in the blender (even just mixed with water).

Price: On Amazon, it costs $53.99 for 73 servings.  That comes out to about $0.73 per serving.  Can’t beat that.

Calories: 120 calories for 24g of protein, pretty darn good.

Overall: Not bad.  Don’t think I’ll get it just because of the after taste but I’d be curious to try the other flavors like banana or vanilla.

4. Designer Whey

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Ok so this is the protein powder that started the search.  I bought this one at Trader Joe’s and at the risk of sound harsh.  I hate the taste of this protein powder.  I don’t like the after taste at all.  It’s really hard for me to even finish a smoothie with it, and I am definitely not a picky eater.  A lot of times I found myself adding scoops of unsweetened cocoa powder to my smoothies to cover up the taste.  No bueno.

Texture: Smooth, frothy, not chalky.

Price: On Amazon, 4lbs for $45.19.  Not bad in terms of price.  Comes out to roughly $0.72 per serving.

Calories: 100 Calories for 18g of protein.  Not bad.  I think I’ll take Garden of Life over this one any day…

Overall:  I just can’t stand this one.  I’m pretty much convince I just don’t like the taste of any whey protein powder.  If you mix it with water and chug it, it’s fine, but if you’re going to sip over the course of half an hour (like I do with my morning smoothies), it’s not pleasant.  This one is a no-go for me.

5. Plant Fusion

Plantfusion

Flavor: Vanilla Bean

Taste: The package says “Amazing Taste.”  It’s good but I’m not sure I’d call it amazing.  It was a little sweet for my taste (sweetened with stevia).  To be honest, the taste was sorta “meh” for me.  Maybe I’m raising my protein powder flavor standards?

Texture: Smooth, not chalky or gritty when blended up.  I was a little concerned because there seemed to be a lot of powder in the packet, but it all smoothed out.

Price: On Amazon, it’s $30.31 for 2lbs, that’s about 30 servings.  So about $1 per serving.  Price isn’t terrible.

Calories: 120 calories for 21g of protein.  That’s pretty good in my opinion.  Up there with the 100% Gold Standard Whey, which probably had the best calorie to protein ratio, but I will say I much prefer the taste of this one.

Overall: This one is not bad.  It’s probably my second choice in terms of protein and price.  This one is a blend of pea protein, artichoke protein, amaranth powder and quinoa powder.  I’m definitely a fan of the fact that it’s plant-based.

I think so far, Garden of Life Raw Protein is the winner for me.  I love that it’s plant-based (we love the Earth, right?) and it tastes pretty darn good.  The fact that it’s low calorie just sort of sweetens the deal.

I’m going to keep trying more to find what I like but this was a good set I tried so far.  I’m really interested to try egg white protein powder.  I think I just need to stay away from whey.

Do you use protein powder? If so, what’s your favorite kind?  Suggest away because the search continues for me (maybe)!

Peanut Butter Honey “Bee’s Knees” Pie

Can we talk about TV for a minute?  For my birthday, Jesse got me a Kindle Fire.

I was super excited to have an ebook reader, but then I learned that it comes with a month of free Amazon Prime… That includes the free streaming…

Instead of voraciously reading the classics like I originally intended to, I’ve been watching Downton Abbey.  I get it, I’m like 5 years too late.  But I’m loving it.  To further my recent TV obsession, on Friday night I made Jesse watch 3 episodes of “Orange is the New Black.”  Awesome.

So since I like being late to the party, let me tell you about something I made for a party a while back.  You remember the Peanut Butter Throwdown, right?

I made White Chocolate Wonderful Ice Cream

whitechocpbicecream1

But I also made pie, because pie is always a good idea.

pies

Let me tell you about one of them because you know what else is a good idea? Pretzel crusts.

Along with being obsessed with multiple TV shows, I’m also really into pretzel crusts.  I love the salty and sweet combination, so in pie form it takes it to a whole new level.

beeskneespie

Peanut Butter Honey Pie

1 1/4 cup pretzel crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Bee’s Knees peanut butter
4 oz cream cheese, softened
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
4 tbsp honey

First make your crust by mixing together pretzel crumbs, butter and sugar.  Press into a 9” pie dish and place in the freezer until ready to use.

Next, beat together peanut butter, cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk.  Beat 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream until if holds firm peaks.  Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture until combined.  Set aside.

Beat remaining 1 cup of whipped cream.  Once it start to form peaks, add in 4 tbsp honey.

Next assemble the pie.  Spread peanut butter mixture into the pie crust.  Top with honey whipped cream.  Chill for a few hours.  Serve cold.

Ok now you can forgive me while I go crawl into bed to watch more Downton Abbey.

Which shows are you into these days?

I also recently discovered Catfish.  That’s totally amazing…