crunchy granola hippie

I won’t claim to be the most organic, clean eating, chemical free, crunchy granola hippie out there but I gotta say, I am part of the club. I know there are a lot of buzzwords that float around about being eco-friendly, healthy, organic, pesticide and chemical free and while most of it just seems elitist and confusing, it actually may be something to pay attention to.

I won’t talk too much about food because let’s be real, that’s a huge topic and the whole system is riddled with chemicals, cancer inducing agents, things no one can pronounce, and tampered, poisoned, and contaminated ingredients that unless you want to pay an exuberant amount of money that none of us have or grow your own, is damn near impossible to avoid.

So instead, I am just going to highlight some cool products that have lately been putting some really cool stuff on their labels. It may be a small change but I am glad it is starting and more available than ever before. I am going to make sure I pay attention to it too…and I hope you do too!

The first product I have to say I am giving major props to is….

EOS: evolution of smooth. These little eggs are so adorable and totally badass. They are gluten-free, paraben-free, petrolatum- free, phthalate-free, and still taste delicious and make your lips so smooth and soft that no winter wind or cold sore will ever ruin!

They come in a variety of colors, are easy to care around, and totally affordable! (since they are available at nearly every drugstore and even 5 Below!)

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I also reticently started shopping for a more of my beauty/hygiene products at natural/organic stores especially since I have jumped on the whole shampoo has seriously too many chemicals bandwagon, (I haven’t gone as far as stopped shampooing-oh yes, that’s a serious thing…look it up! Some people have gone years!) I still try to stay away with the ones that are a super loaded with all things I can’t pronounce. They can be pricier but you just have to be a smart shopper. Same goes for face cream which also freaks me out. I was going to pick up an e.l.f. moisturizing stick the other day because they concept and the price both were awesome but when I found out how much parabens were loaded into it, I just could not bring myself to reach in my pocket or bring that anywhere near my face! Instead I picked up a Dessert Essence Cream …look at this label:

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Isn’t it awesome?!  Gluten Free, RENEWABLE SOURCES!!!!!! CRUELTY FREE!!!! and LOOK ALL THE CRAP IT DOESN’T HAVE!!!

 

My last highlight goes to LUNA bars. While they are a energy bar company and I am a mega fan, I am talking about their chap stick today. I am not sure if they actually sell them individually or if they just happen to come as samples in boxes every once in a while but I scored one at a conference called SHEsummit where they had a booth. This stick is a tinted lip gloss of Raspberry Shine and while I took it for granted at first, it is a coveted essential in my bag now. Not only is it a great hint of color bursting with moisture but it also does not contain a lot of crap!

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So I am glad things are slowly changing and while sometimes I intentionally look for these labels, I am glad some of my trusted brands are incorporating  this into their mission without me even knowing! I love it! Will you read more labels now?

How important is this to you? Do you care it products have chemicals in them or are tested on animals? Does it matter where your everyday items come from? Or do you prefer not knowing because something is going to kills us all someday anyway?

Mushroom Monday

I am a terrible recipe writer/giver because, like my mother, I don’t really have measurements or exact specifications. I tend to cook based on taste and guesstimation. I always used to joke it was because of my Indian background. We don’t have measuring utensils, pots with hands, or even any butter knives at home but somehow my mom is an amazing cook, and I have the unfortunate waist size to prove it but this recipe I have for you today thrives on putting your personal taste and flair so I hope you try it!

MEATLESS STUFFED MUSHROOMS:

Ingredients:

mushrooms- I usually use button or Champignon mushrooms and the fresher they are, the more delicious (as per usual)

spinach

garlic cloves

ricotta cheese/mozzarella cheese/Parmesan cheese/pepper jack: as far as cheese goes, it is entirely up to you! The one in the pictures today I used a combo of ricotta and mozzarella but I have done with with just pepper jack and a combo of parmecan and mozzarella. It really just depends on what you are looking for. The Ricotta is very smooth and creamy so I really enjoyed it. With cheese, you can’t go wrong but I have to say mozzarella cheese does compliment the mushrooms very nicely.

onions (optional)

salt

pepper

bread crumbs

Those are the basics…feel free to add anything else to give it a little more zest! maybe some orange zest? peppers? croutons? whatever you want!

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STEP 1: WASH YO SHROOMS!

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I like to pick out the butt of the mushroom here too and thoroughly wash the inside as well. I get all my groceries at a local farm market and u-pick orchard and while I am particular to pick organic/local-grown/non pesticide ingredients, I still like to scrub them down.

STEP 2: BLEND IT ALL TOGETHER

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Set your mushroom caps aside and take your butts, spinach, cheese, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper, and blend in a blender of your choice. My mom likes to start with the butts and add each ingredient separately to help handle the consistency. It should be closer to a chunky paste but again, up to you, just be sure not to make a total soup or it will be hard to contain and bake. Taste it as you go so you know how much cheese, garlic, and salt to add. Garlic tastes much heavier than it looks so start slow. For the one we did today we had about 4 cloves of a bulb and about 1.5 cups ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and almost a whole bushel or more of spinach.

STEP 3: TRY NOT TO EAT ALL THE DELICIOUS PASTE!!!

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Once you have blended all your ingredients, the paste ends up being DELICIOUS! You can stop here and just use it as a dip or a spread but if you want to continue onto stuffing the mushrooms, don’t eat it all! haha

STEP 4: STUFF AND BAKE:

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Now simple spoon in the paste into your mushrooms, sprinkle bread crumbs, and stick in the oven. Anywhere from 300-350 for about 20-50 minutes works. It all depends on how big your oven is and how well cooked you want your final dish to be. Today, we had amazingly fresh ingredients so we did not cook them for as long as we usually do. We also do all of our baking in the toaster oven because in our house, the oven is really just another cabinet for pots and pans so we go with 350 for 35 minutes but like I said, just be aware of were you are baking and adjust accordingly. They will start to brown on top and sometimes even the water will seep out making them look a little shrunken and odd but I promise they are just beyond appetizing.

STEP 5: STUFF YOUR FACE WITH STUFFED MUSHROOMS!

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If you are impatient, dig in, just beware they are hot, hot, hot! Otherwise you can let them cook and enjoy them in a little bit. You can serve them as appetizers or depending on the size of your mushroom and quantity, as your whole meal. It’s all up to you!

 

I hope you try this recipe!  Let me know what you think!!! STUFF ON MY FRIENDS! 
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❤ ac

The Classics

With the million and two holiday recipe options floating around every year, sometimes you just need one go-to that is pretty much always guaranteed to taste great and be a crowd pleaser. I bring you…the chocolate chip cookie. It’s easy, it makes a decent sized bunch, it isn’t super fancy, and hell, who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?

I would love to say this recipe has been in my family for generations (because well, my grandma does in fact use this recipe), however I shall not tell a lie. It is taken from the cookie extraordinaires themselves, Toll House. And well, why fool with something that’s already so good? I present you…the classics:

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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I sometimes like to add things like white chocolate chips and dried cranberries , or coconut flakes to this recipe instead…the base is great for any amazing cookie! I’m giving some to my coworkers as gifts this year…hopefully they’ll like them as much as I do 🙂

Have you made these before? What is your favorite flavor combination?

xo SA

Three french hens, two turtle doves…

And a roasted duck that tastes love-lyyyyyyyy!

Sorry, had to finish the song hehe.

So at my Friends-giving (the better alternative to Thanksgiving, of course) this year, I assisted my masterful chef friend in making duck for the first time. We followed the instructions to a T, and well, the final product can be seen below. While it takes about a million and two hours to complete (and may not be the best choice for those on a tight schedule with the potential to get hangry–yes, hunger+anger), it’s a great alternative to fancy up your meal if you’re having a few friends over for a relaxing dinner. The recipe she used can be found here.

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Not too greasy, totally moist, and really a great first-time-you’ve-tried-duck experience for the more squeamish eaters. Bottom line, it tastes amazing. Just make it!

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Have you tried to make duck before? Did you like how it came out? Would you try this recipe for a dinner party?

Happy Eating!

xo SA

 

If only we could turn all of our veggies into cake

So after a weekend beach trip that led to a last minute pit stop at a Delaware farm stand, I somehow ended up with a refrigerator full of zucchini. For a week I had it baked, broiled, roasted, toasted, and caked, and I somehow still had some of this veggie left. Before I threw in the towel and forced the food upon my roommates, I realized that despite my weeklong zucchini fest, I still forgot to make my favorite recipe with it: zucchini bread. For those of you who now think I’m crazy, it’s kind of the same concept as banana bread, except you don’t really taste it. It just turns out into this moist yummy breakfasty bread that you will gobble up. Because seriously, this stuff is amazing. Chocolate is theoretically optional in this recipe (and its actually quite good without any chocolate), but who sees chocolate as optional??

Enjoy!

xo SA

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2/3 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with a knife
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (do not substitute natural cocoa powder)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (from 1-2 zucchini), gently packed
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place the butter in a large microwave-safe mixing bowl and microwave for one minute, or until just melted. Stir in the brown sugar until completely smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until incorporated. (Be sure to add the eggs after the brown sugar is mixed in, as the hot butter alone could cook the eggs.)
  3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture and stir until well combined. It will be very thick.
  4. Stir in the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips. (It will still be thick — that’s okay.)
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (save for perhaps a smear from the melted chocolate chips). Let the loaf cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

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