2013 Highlights

I hate to be that person, but I’m going to say it: I can’t believe 2013 is coming to a close.  Seriously, where did the year go?

I remember when I was in college, my friend Hazel would laugh at me because I recounted my days through my meals.  So in traditional Karla (Foodologie) fashion, let me recount my year by favorite things I made/ate.

In January, I was all sorts of awesome (modest, right?).  I made two of my favorite things:

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Bourbon Banana Pie

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Orange-Pistachio Biscotti

Seriously, those are probably my two favorite sweets I made all year.  So much so that I made them for Christmas.  After January, I had clearly eaten too much pie and biscotti so I felt the need to do a crazy thing: a 30 day paleo challenge.

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It was a shit storm, for lack of better words.  If you want to relive that (I don’t, but that’s cool), check out these posts:

Paleo Challenge: Day 1
Paleo Challenge:
Day 2
Paleo Challenge: Day 3 & 4
Paleo Challenge: Day  5, 6, & 7
Paleo Challenge: Day 8 (Plus 1 Week Thoughts)
Paleo Challenge: Day 9 & 10
Paleo Challenge: Day 11
Paleo Challenge: Day 13 (apparently 12 doesn’t exist?)
Paleo Challenge: Ending Early  <— spoiler I quit!
Life After the Paleo Challenge

But after Paleo, I became a semi-normal person again.  I tried to make healthy things

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Like Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash

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and Eggplant Rolls to balance out my ridiculous desire to ALWAYS eat cake

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This year, I also made awesome blogger friends.  Now I can say Allison from Sweet Potato Bites and Samantha from Little Ferraro Kitchen are real life friends, which is cool!  Who wants to be real life friends next year?

(photo stolen from Sweet Potato Bites)

This year I also decided food parties were a good idea. So I started with a Fried Chicken and Waffles party.

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Because I had never fried chicken and that seemed like a good idea.  It was.

Then Allison and I teamed up with Peanut Butter & Co and threw a Peanut Butter Party.

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That was all sorts of fun.  Next year, I’d like to do a pancake party, a cocktail party and, if we get crazy, a tamale making party, because why not?

Then let’s not forget how in 2013 I became obsessed with protein powders.  And it continues because I keep putting protein powder in everything, like these pancakes

pumpkinproteinpancakes4But the highlight of the year for me was our trip to Peru

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We hiked, we ate guinea pig, saw llamas, walked everywhere and had a great time.  It was amazing.  I only wish it could have been longer.

Now that 2013 is almost over, I’m excited for 2014.  I hope you’ll follow me along next year as I continue to make sweets and healthy things to cut the guilt.  I promise I’ll keep the crossfit talk to a minimum and I’ll keep taking pictures of myself in dressing rooms and sharing those, like this shirt I bought yesterday…shirt

Just kidding! Well, actually, no I’ll probably still do that, but I promise one day I’ll get over that habit.

Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve filled with Champagne, goodies, friends and family! I wish you the best in the New Year and thank you for following my blog in 2013!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Arugula Salad with Lentils and Spiced Butternut Squash

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a very happy Christmas, ate lots delicious food and spent time with family.

With my family, our holidays revolve around food and this Christmas was no different. We ate tons of tamales

and the only times we weren’t eating were the short walks we took to hang out with the neighbor’s llamas, ponies and donkeys.

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No, I’m not back in Peru.  People in LA County have pet llamas.   But other than llama sighting.  We mostly ate.

I don’t know about you, but after Christmas eating, I need vegetables.  Well really, I just think I need to eat normal, so that’s what I’m trying to do, but adding a few extra vegetables in there for good measure.

This morning, I finally tried Kodiak Cakes.  If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Like Foodologie on Facebook, you’ll remember that I won a few boxes of Kodiak Cakes through their 12 days of giveaways.  I decided to make some this morning

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Along with their red raspberry syrup.  Overall, they’re super tasty! What I especially love is that they use all natural ingredients (and not to mention easy! You just add water!).

Then for lunch, I had this amazing salad.

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It might not look that magical, but I promise it is.  It’s light but hearty enough to be a meal on its own. The mint makes it taste fresh and clean.  I’ve been making this salad for years so to be perfectly honestly, I can’t remember where I discovered it.  Someone deserves credit, I just can’t remember who.

Arugula Salad with Lentils and Spiced Butternut Squash

adapted from somewhere I can’t remember…

1/2 butternut squash, diced
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup lentils, dry
6 cups arugula1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
4 oz (or more) goat cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375F.  Toss diced butternut squash with paprika, cumin, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at bake for 15 minutes. Toss and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. Please note: this cooking time may vary depending how how big you diced the butternut squash and how intense your oven is, so check it every so often and toss to make sure it doesn’t burn.

While the butternut squash roasts, cook the lentils.  Cover in water and boil about 20 minutes (or until tender).  Once cooked through, rinse and set aside.

Once the lentils and squash are ready, assemble the salad.  In a large bowl, toss together arugula, mint, 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Scoop some of the salad on a plate, top with goat cheese, lentils and butternut squash. Serve and enjoy!

Feel free to made adjustments. I love mint so I’m a fan of tons of mint.  Don’t love mint? Omit it.  Out of goat cheese or hate its guts? Replace it with manchego! If you don’t like manchego, then we just can’t be friends.  But if you want to make it vegan and omit the cheese, I’m a-okay with that.

I have a feeling this is going to be salad week for me.  Be on the look out for some healthy eats and New Years resolutions in the days to come!

How was your Christmas?  What was the best thing you ate?

Salted Almond Joy Bark

With Christmas and the New Year on the horizon, I have two goals for today:

1. Clean out my closet/dresser of unwanted garments

I have too much stuff.  I have clothing I don’t wear and even more that doesn’t fit.  One of the fantastic things about lifting weights is that my body shrank.  It’s great! But it means that I don’t own any pants that fit me.  So I want to clear out the stuff that doesn’t fit me any more, because there’s no room in my shoebox of an apartment for clothing that is too big or old.
2. Bake Christmas Cookies for gifts

I love baking and Christmas is the perfect time to bake treats and give them away.  So today and tomorrow will consist of Christmas baking.  I had my recipes all planned out, but then yesterday when I arrived to Crossfit, Allison told me she had something for me.  She handed me a lovely tin filled with homemade salted chocolate coconut almond bark.

At this point it was nearly 6am and not an appropriate time to eat chocolate.  So I put it in my car, got my butt kicked during the WOD and went to work.  I have this rule during the holidays (since there are so many treats floating around) that I’m allowed to have a sweet treat AFTER lunch.

This means waiting til I have a nutritious (or semi-nutritious because yesterday my boss took us to Umami Burger for lunch and that’s clearly NOT nutritious) before enjoying goodies and also cutting down on how much I eat.  I have a hard time stopping once I start, so I found it’s better for me to just start later.  But anyway…

So I waited until after lunch and had a piece of Allison’s delicious bark.

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It was awesome.  Let me just tell you, I gave some to co-workers and to Jesse, but the reality is I ate it mostly myself.  Today, as of 2pm… the bark is gone.  As in, I finished it all after lunch today.

Because this bark was so amazing I wanted to try to make it on my own and give it to my loved ones.  I’ve decided to rename it Salted Almond Joy Bark, because that’s sort of what it reminded me of.

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Salted Almond Joy Bark

from Sweet Potato Bites

10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips  (or chocolate chunks)
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1/2 cup Roasted Coconut Chips*
Coarse Sea Salt

First, prepare your pan by lining a cookie sheet with parchment.  Set aside.

Next, pour chocolate into a microwave safe bowl.

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Microwave 30 seconds then stir.  Microwave another 30 seconds and stir, repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth. You can also do this in a pan or double boiler, but I’ll be honest, the microwave is a million times easier.  It’s also idiot-proof.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my chocolate seize when using a double boiler, because water in chocolate (steam included!) might cause it to seize.

Because of this, I take the easy route and use the microwave.  Once your chocolate is melted and smooth, pour about 3/4 of the chocolate into the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Using a spatula, smooth until it’s a tiny bit thick (if you like your bark thicker, leave it thicker, if you want it thinner, spread it more).  It doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re going to cover it with stuff anyway…

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Sprinkle chocolate with coconut and almonds.  Take the remaining chocolate and drizzle it overs the coconut and almonds.

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Sprinkle with sea salt (be generous! That’s seriously the best part!) and refrigerate or freeze until firm.

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Once the chocolate is completely hardened (it took about an hour for me, if not it’ll start to melt when you touch it), break the bark into pieces.

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Store in an air tight container in a cool spot for up to a week.

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*I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips, but if there’s no Trader Joe’s near you, you can just use toasted coconut.

This stuff was seriously amazing.  The salt really takes this from normal tasty chocolate bark to something out of this world.  Everyone that tried it loved it.  I’m really excited to share this with others along with Orange-Pistachio Biscotti, Molasses Cookies, Chocolate Mint Cookies and maybe another cookie or two.  Any suggestions?

Are you giving Christmas Cookies this season?  If so, what are your top cookies or treats to gift?

My Ideal Christmas Dinner

We’ve reached a critical time in the year.  Christmas is one week away and Christmas dinner needs to be planned.

For us Latinos, we’re in an even bigger pickle because we do Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) dinner.  So that means we have 6 days left to plan a feast.

This time of year is always particularly frustrating for me, because my family doesn’t like anything.  No really, they don’t. An hour ago, I was walking around Sprouts talking to my sister about how I wanted to give up on Christmas dinner.  She pumped me up a bit about it.

We decided on some random menu:

-Chicken with Lemon-Caper sauce
-Ham
-Spinach Salad

-Yucca
-Mashed Potatoes
-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We’ll see how that goes.  I always have grand plans for Christmas dinner, but it never happens because the things I like are 1. too expensive to make for a crowd or 2. generally disliked by my family. Last year, I got close.  I made awesome short ribs braised in red wine (they were a hit) served with mashed potatoes, as well as coq au vin.  Guys, I got fancy.  This year… it’s not looking that way…

So today, in the spirit of dreaming, I’m going to plan my ideal Christmas Dinner.  I’ll probably never make it but let’s just pretend.

Of course, in my ideal world, I would have a beautiful, hipster-chic table setting

Photo Source: Style-Files

Because of course, I’ll have enough logs for everyone to sit on!

We’d start the evening with appetizers and drinks.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Persimmons

Photo Source: Food and Wine

Along with Cheese, Crackers, Nuts and Dried Fruit.  To drink, wine, beer and a fun Prosecco cocktail for those who are so inclined:

Photo Source: Rue Mag

Then for dinner:

Roast Leg of Lamb on a Bed of Potatoes and Wilted Greens

Photo Source: Epicurious

Served with Roasted Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Photo Source: Henry Happened

and Mashed Potatoes

Photo Source: Foodista

And for dessert… My favorite Bourbon Banana Pie

BourbonBananaPie3(which I’m actually planning to make for Christmas!)

and because you can never have enough dessert…

Photo Source: Smitten Kitchen

Gingerbread Apple Upside-down Cake

That’s it.  Pretty much my perfect Christmas dinner.  Mine won’t be that perfect, but it’ll still be great.

I’m being totally dramatic about Christmas Dinner.  I’ll be honest, I really don’t care what we eat.   I’m more excited to spend time with my family than anything else.  We could eat KFC or Chinese Takeout, and I’d be happy.  That said, day dreaming about fancy dinners is what foodies do.

What’s on your Christmas menu?  Share your menus so I can get more inspiration!

Gingerbread Cookies

Let’s let the cookie obsession continue with Gingerbread Cookies!

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As a kid, Christmas cookies weren’t really a tradition during the holidays for us. I think I remember my sister setting out cookies for Santa with me once, but I might be making that up in my head. I know Christmas cookie decorating is a normal thing in most households, but it didn’t really happen in mine. That’s what happens when you have immigrant parents, I guess?

But this year, since cookies are all the rage in my world, I decided to go all out and make Gingerbread cookies.

Allison from Sweet Potato Bites had a cookie party at her house, so I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to make them for.

I baked them in advance and made royal icing at her house for decorating.

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I spent a long time researching Gingerbread recipes, but I found this one from All Recipes to be best.  As usual, I made a few changes to the recipe, so here’s my version:

Gingerbread Cookies

adapted from All Recipes

3 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk (or water)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer bowl), cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in some of the dry ingredients and then some molasses, maple syrup and almond milk, alternating wet and dry ingredients until all combined.   Chill the dough for a few hours (I made this a day in advance and chilled the dough over night).

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Once you’re ready to make cookies, pre-heat oven to 350F.  On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Using your cookie butters of choice, cut out desired shape and place on a parchment paper lined baking dish.  Place a few inches apart on the sheet as they cookies expand a tiny bit when they bake.

Bake 8-10 minutes (this will vary depending on the type of cookie cutter you use and the size.)  Once they’re golden on the edges, they’re ready.  Don’t overbake them or they’ll be hard.  Allow to cool completely, then decorate with royal icing.

Gingerbreadmen1I had never decorated cookies with Royal Icing before.  I’m going to try it a few more times, really perfect it then do a blog post on it.

That means I’ll be making these cookies again.  I really liked these cookies because they weren’t hard.  The ones in an air tight container stayed soft for over 5 days.  However, if you like crunch gingerbread cookies, just leave these out a little longer to harden and you’ll get crunch cookies!

I have some ideas for the next Christmas cookies to make, but if you have a great recipe to share, please share it in the comments!

Molasses Cranberry Cookies

Christmas season is in full swing!  Normally, I’m not that into holidays. But I’m not sure what’s wrong with me this year, all I want is a living room with a Christmas tree.   If you remember back when I told you about where Foodologie happens, you’ll remember that I live in a studio that is teeny-tiny.  That means I have zero room for a Christmas tree.   So because I can’t be festive in my living space, I have to find other ways to make the most of the holiday season.

First, I bought a Christmas dress. A new dress for Christmas is a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember.     Anyone else do that?

I’m thoroughly excited about it.  I also bought myself another dress, because… well…

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Christmas present to myself?  (P.S. When will I get over sending my friends pics of outfits I’m thinking of buying?)

In addition to my Christmas dress, I’ve also been thoroughly excited about cookies.  So cookie making has been happening, starting with these:

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I don’t know about you, but I love chewy molasses cookies with lots of ginger.  They’re pretty much the best, as are these cookies.

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Molasses Cranberry Cookies

adapted from Blue Ribbon Cookies

1 stick of butter + 2 tbsp (10 tbsp total)1 cup sugar (plus extra for rolling)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1 cup dried cranberries

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in molasses and egg until fluffy.  In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Just before ingredients are combine, fold in cranberries.

Chill dough for a few hours.

Once you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F.

Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool  and serve!  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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I took these to work, shared with friends and a boyfriend. They were gone pretty quickly.  I’ll definitely be including these in my Christmas Cookie Gift Tins.   I have a few other awesome cookie recipes coming up, because seriously… I’m obsessed with cookies right now.

What about you?  How are you preparing for Christmas?  Do you have a Christmas dress yet?

The Time We Went to a Monastery Where Nuns Never Leave, and Then Saw Some Condors and Vicuñas…

After our guinea pig lunch, we got our stuff ready and headed to Arequipa (our final destination on our trip).  We went to Arequipa, not knowing too much about it.  Because we’re geniuses, we forgot our guidebook at home in California.  So we got to Arequipa, which is the second largest city in Peru (population-wise) after Lima. We stayed almost entirely in the colonial center which was beautiful. IMG_1753Our hotel, La Hosteria, was adorable.  We decided to splurge on this hotel (a whole $70 per night! haha) since we “roughed it” on the Inca Trail…

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and located right across from the Santa Catalina Monastery, a monastery of nuns of the Dominican Second Order.  Once the nuns entered the monastery, they NEVER left.  It’s hard to fathom, but today there are about 20 nuns still living in the monastery.

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The monastery was beautiful.

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And seeing the aspects of daily life over the centuries was interesting.  After hanging around the monastery for a few hours…

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We made our way to a market for some food.  The good thing about traveling with Jesse is that he loves street food as much as I do.  Peru didn’t have a whole lot of street food, but what they did have was a lot of markets that served awesome prepared meals.  It was all super tasty and cheap, double win!

Jesse was dying to try ceviche the whole trip, but I was worried about sickness so I requested we wait to have it til the end of the trip just in case… raw fish after all… But now it was time to give it a whirl.

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That day we tried ceviche and had some Chicha de Jora (a homemade corn beer).  We spent the rest of the day wandering and asking about how to make our way to the Colca Canyon, which we heard was great.  We booked a last minute day trip to the Colca Canyon to see Condors and Volcanos.

We were picked up at 3am for the 4 hour drive to the Colca Canyon.  The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon!  After driving we stopped at a small town to see a church…

IMG_6725Outside the church there was a woman hanging out with her llama and falcon for people to take pictures with…

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Just another day in Peru…

After that, we made it to the lookout point to see condors.  We waited a LONG time to see Condors.

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We saw a few from far away.  It was less exciting than I would have hoped.  On our way back, we stopped at various lookout points

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There were some amazing views! Also on our way back, we saw lots of wild life…

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Err not wild… But we did see wild Vicuñas! They were too far to photograph (the pics I have are of them looking tiny).  Vicuñas are like smaller, less furry llamas.

When we got back to Arequipa, we cleaned up and went to dinner.  For our one fancy dinner, we went to a restaurant called ZigZag, that everyone told us was amazing.

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I’ll be honest.  After the awesome food we ate at our cooking class, ZigZag was an overpriced let down. Oh well…

For our last day in Peru, we wandered, went to the Cathedral (no photos allowed), visited some museums (and saw a mummy!) and ate in the market again (because that was our favorite).  I tried a Peruvian empanada, a Peruvian tamale (Arequipa style) and Jesse drank two enormous glasses of Chicha.

Finally, to kill a few hours before our flight we had some drinks and potatoes!

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Then we took a flight back to Lima in time to catch our next flight back to Los Angeles.

Overall our trip to Peru was awesome! I was sad to leave.  I wish I could have stayed longer to explore more areas, try more food and meet more people.  I definitely recommend it as a vacation spot for anyone!

Just for a quick recap… I’ll tell you about my favorites…

Highlight of the Trip:  Machu Picchu

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Low Point of the Trip: Day two of the Inca Trail where I got altitude sickness

IMG_1549Lesson Learned: Peruvian sun WILL burn you.  I got massively sun burnt throughout the trip.  By the last day, my face and head was peeling like woah.  Gross.

Best Meal:  This is pretty much impossible for me to answer.  I loved Aji de Gallina

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But pretty  much every meal I ate (except guinea pig) was awesome!

That’s it for the Peru trip recap!  Next I’ll tell you about cookies but before that…

Where should we go on vacation next? What’s the best vacation you’ve taken?  Tell me about it!

Previous Peru Posts:

The Time We Cooked Alpaca and Ate Guinea Pig in Peru

The Time We Hiked Through the Andes to Machu Picchu

Back from Peru

Hello from Peru