August Degustabox

August Degustabox

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.

This month was full of pleasant surprises and reunions. I kicked it off with a low-key birthday with lab mates, a fun weekend with a long-time friend, and my sister’s arrival and permanent move to SoCal (at least for the next two years!)

I’m so behind on posts—including my monthly Degustabox review! And this month surely did NOT disappoint!

August Degustabox
August Degustabox

This month’s box included snack items made with unique ingredients, a throwback to a childhood favorite, a creamy sauce for stirring into warm dinners, a nut butter brand I’ve been longing to try, and an item I was able to easily prepare and bring to my lab potluck.

The pasta chips were the most unique items in the box this month, at least in my opinion…as well as the most flavorful! I received a bag of flat Rosemary-flavored Pasta Chips, as well as “Meatball Parm” flavored Pasta Bow-Ties. Both flavors are vegetarian though, and are made with semolina flour (just like pasta).

Pasta Chips - Rosemary
Pasta Chips – Rosemary

Of the two, I liked the bow ties the best due to their sharp crisp and hollow center. The Rosemary ones had a much more herb-y smell (not surprisingly), they had a nice crisp to them as well.

Pasta Bow-Ties - Meatball Parm
Pasta Bow-Ties – Meatball Parm

I love how there is always something in these boxes—at least one—that can be incorporated in my crockpot dinners. Sharwood’s cooking sauces was something I came across before, but I absolutely loved the Sharwood’s Creamy Coconut Korma.

Sharwood's
Sharwood’s Creamy Coconut Korma topped on steamed vegetables

These Welch’s berry-flavored fruit rolls brought me back to my elementary school days for sure! I do remember the ones I used to have had a thicker consistency. These were harder to peel off the paper…

Welch's Berry Fruit Rolls
Welch’s Berry Fruit Rolls

Of course, I can’t ignore the chocolate goodies! Goya’s Maria Cookies were previously included in a Degustabox, and this time around, the classic biscuits were used to make a chocolate cookie sandwich.

Goya Golden Maria
Goya Golden Maria Sandwich Cookies

I wish they had some more of the chocolate cream filling, but these would definitely work well paired with a hot cup of tea or coffee or hot chocolate!

Cream filling, but where is more of it??
Cream filling, but where is more of it??

When I saw this sample pack of NuttZo in the box, I pretty much jumped for joy.

N
NuttZo 2go – Chocolate Peanut Pro

I have been wanting to try NuttZo for the longest time, and this sample pack was the answer! This flavor was definitely slick and oily, but that made it easy to squeeze out of the packet. I hate it when nut butters get stuck to the sides of their containers—such a waste of material and money, haha!

And these Nature’s Bakery Apple Cinnamon Fig Bars were another snack product I’ll oftentimes pass by in the grocery store but never think to buy. They definitely had a heartier, grainy texture and a dense amount of filling. Nothing like those generic flat Fig Newtons or even those Nutri-Grain bars.

Nature's Bakery Apple Cinnamon Fig Bar
Nature’s Bakery Apple Cinnamon Fig Bar

I’m not a big M&Ms fan, but when I spotted this bag of Sunspire Sun Drops, I couldn’t resist but eat them right out of the bag! Sure, I could have shared them with my landlords (the lady loves to make chocolate chip cookies and these certainly could have made her next batch pop with color), but I enjoyed popping them into my mouth one by one.

SunDrops
SunDrops Milk Chocolate Candies

Before coming across this bag of tostones chips, I was not aware of their existence. Apparently they are twice-fried plantain slices, and are pretty much the definition of a chip. I love how the back of the bag emphasizes that THEY ARE NOT BANANAS.

Goya Original Tostones Chips
Goya Original Tostones Chips

I had to give up trying the Dole Peaches in Strawberry Gel Cups, due to an ingredient I usually avoid, but one of my labmates helped himself to two for breakfast the day I brought them in.

Dole Peaches in Strawberry Gel Cups
Dole Peaches in Strawberry Gel Cups

That same labmate also held a lab potluck a few weekends ago, and along with some store-bought tortilla chips, I “made” some hummus…with some help from Hummustir that is.

Mediterranean hummus ready to-go!
Mediterranean hummus ready to-go!

It was really simple to prepare since the ingredients were all included and fit into the container. It all even came with a small wooden spoon! I basically added the large packet of chickpea puree first, then the tahini, followed by the spice packet. And since I received the Mediterranean flavor, the flavor mix provided a gentle blend of lime and garlic. Even though it joined the ranks of many other bowls of dips and bags of chips at the actual venue, it was still a top-notch quality spread given that it was made with convenience in mind!

Which of these items makes you think of summertime the most?

Turkish Delight!

Turkish Delight!

The semester is coming to a close for most, but I technically don’t become a “fourth year” until after this summer. And this summer is gonna be a doozy with all the work I have planned and have to get done, oh boy.

There’s so many things to do for trip prep and managing work here, I’m proud of myself for not going absolutely crazy and still finding the time to go about my usual daily tasks without worrying too much.

Lab was a necessary task that needed to be addressed on both Saturday and Sunday. E had to come by Saturday morning to help me get into the building since I forgot my set of keys in my desk (lol), but after I finished up, we made plans to have lunch.

She had been mentioning that we check out this Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills sometime, and I thought it would be perfect to finally do so.

The bus we took that was supposed to drop us off at Beverly Blvd cut its route down by Fairfax near Little Ethiopia, so we ended up walking for another 45 minutes due to construction and having to take the most roundabout way to our destination.

Needless to say, we had rallied up a strong enough appetite to chow down on some mouthwatering Turkish food. Our appetites would be appeased at Cafe Istanbul.

inside
Cafe Istanbul

It’s hard to believe I passed by this joint without much thought. I used to frequent this street a year and a half ago, visiting the likes of Panera Bread, Creamistry, Momed, and Beverliz Cafe. I had been meaning to come back, but time flew by!

chips
Pita bread chips and sauce.

Now I was here with E, and I was making the most of this experience. E is Turkish-German, and so she volunteered herself to order in Turkish for the both of us. The servers spoke English, but E wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to show off, haha!

pita rolls
Pita bread and grape leaf rolls

We were served some crisped flat bread with a tomato-based dipping sauce as an appetizer. We also got vegetable dolmas, and for our entree, the Imam Bayildi.

imam_bayidli
IMAM BAYILDI ~ Fried whole eggplant, stuffed with onion, tomato, garlic and slowly baked in the oven, served with tzatziki sauce and with pita bread.

Our entree featured three eggplant strips topped with tomato, onion, and pepper. We were able to cut through the soft, chewy boats, and top them on some pita bread after adding some tzatziki.

I thought we were done after this meal, but E insisted that we finish off the right way—with Turkish tea and Kunefe.

tea-kunefe
Tea and Kunefe

The tea was a dark crimson liquid served with sugar cubes. It paired well with the soft, sticky dough pastry that is Kunefe. It was like a sticky bun rolled in pistachio grounds. The small, rich dessert was the perfect way to complete the feast. I’m glad I trusted E, haha!

We walked around for a bit, and then departed to commute home. I made a stop at Sprouts for groceries, and decided to pick up a pint of Nada Moo to try later as a night snack.

nadamoo
Birthday Cake Cookie Dough

I picked out Birthday Cake Cookie Dough, and for my first time trying Nada Moo, I was mad at myself for not trying this fluffy goodness packed in a pint much sooner! Birthday Cake Cookie Dough has a bright white base of fluffy coconut milk-based ice cream, mixed in with thick chocolate chips and sizable pieces of cookie dough. If you are looking for a pint-sized cloud with a varied texture of mix-ins, look no further!

Earlier in the week, I tried some new items I picked up from Trader Joe’s. One of which was one of the three new RX Bar flavors—Mixed Berry!

mixed_berry
RX Bar Mixed Berry

The eye-catching bright pink wrapper was what caught my eyes first, but the taste of the bar was quite interesting. It had the usual density of an RX Bar, but the flavor reminded me of fruity pop rocks, and it really hit the back of the mouth in regards to flavor intensity. Not sure if it’s my favorite, but the bright pink color made it seem like it would match well with a cute pink dress!

The second item was the Birthday Cake Bar from Trader Joe’s! I first saw it on Instagram, and was ecstatic to find it sitting on the shelf with the other chocolate bars 🙂 !

birthday-cake
Birthday Cake Bar

Sprinkles and cookie crumbs gave the bar its full textured appearance, and the chocolate had a smooth flavor profile. It’s definitely a treat that can’t be missed out on!

Cafe Istanbul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Disclaimer: I was provided samples from Buff Bake and all opinions are my own.

I’ve had Buff Bake spreads before, but when I tried my first Buff Bake protein cookie, I wasn’t sure what I had put in my mouth…

buffbake_wcpb
I thought a cup of coffee would work well with this Buff Bake WCPB protein cookie, but sadly this cookie was pretty stale 😑… definitely does not have soft status like @lennyandlarrys

I didn’t want to waste it, but as I was eating it I couldn’t help but think I had made a mistake in my choice of a morning snack. I thought I was being adventurous for trying a protein cookie different from the likes of Lenny & Larry’s, but to my disappointment, I regretted not picking up their white chocolate macadamia flavor from the campus bookstore…

I expressed my dissatisfaction on Instagram, and to my surprise, Buff Bake actually reached out with a response to immediately send over some fresh cookies to try! They commented that the cookie I had purchased had an older packaging, and that I needed a proper introduction to their product (okay, so I added the last part, but I’m sure they wanted to redo the first impression…)

They immediately sent over five different cookies in crisp, colorful packaging. I was shocked by how quickly they came too…within two days of their commenting on my Instagram! Oh, which flavor to begin with?!

cookies
The colors just popped out at me!!

Because the snickerdoodle Lenny & Larry’s has my heart, I had to try Buff Bake’s version for comparison’s sake.

snickerdoodle
This Snickerdoodle one immediately became a favorite of mine. To me, it looks more like a dense, puffy cake than a cookie (like one of those Pfeffernusse cookies), but it’s incredibly chewy and has a nice cinnamon/nutmeg aroma to it. Oh, and then there’s the nice addition of a thin glaze on top! I’m glad I got the opportunity to give these cookies-more-like-cakes another shot 😉

I would say the Lenny & Larry’s version is still my favorite (specifically if it comes out dense and chewy in the middle, because sometimes even they come out with fluke cookies…), but Buff Bake’s version was pretty good too. Definitely could see this paired with a glass of hot chocolate—the perfect sitting-by-the-fireplace holiday snack.

I then moved on to the birthday cake flavor. This one came with frosting on the top as well, but only a little in the middle? I don’t have an explanation…

birthday_Cake
I love it when birthday cake-themed foods are colorful, mixed with sprinkles, and come with a generous amount of frosting on top. The birthday cake @buffcake cookie is another dense, puffy cake-like flavor. It had a slight dry flavor (wasn’t as moist as snickerdoodle), but the frosting on top helped to some extent 😀🍰🍪

I’d say my second most favorite was Chocolate Donut.

chocolate_donut
I’m a bit surprised as to how this is not the @buffbake Birthday Cake protein cookie flavor. With frosting and sprinkles like this, this is Chocolate Donut?! Well whatever its name is, I’ll take it 😉🍩🍪 #teamfrosting

If I have to pick between team vanilla or team chocolate, I’d go with vanilla only because I can’t handle dark chocolate or chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. That was the case with Chocolate Chocolate Chip. While it had a dense texture and was full-flavored, it was just too much chocolate. There, I said it.

chocolate-chocolate-chip
There is such a thing as too much chocolate, sorry!

And finally, I gave WCPB another shot. I still found it slightly drier and stiffer compared to the other flavors, but compare to the one I originally had, it fared much better.

WCPB
Alien cookie, 😛

It had a quirky shape and lotsa chocolate chips, but it added character.

Which of these cookie flavors speaks out to you?

December Degustabox!

December Degustabox!

With all the cooking ingredients in last month’s Degustabox, I was elated that this month’s box featured a lot more snack-ables—including some sweet treats (hellooooo cookies 😀 ).

december_box
December’s Degustabox Delectables

The Purely Simple baking mix and frosting pack were an interesting find in this month’s box. I haven’t seen this in stores yet, but I’m glad to see that global brands like Pillsbury are attempting to make products that stray away from using artificial ingredients.

purely_simple
Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake & Cupcake Mix and Pillsbury Purely Simple Buttercream Frosting Mix

I didn’t have time to bake with them personally, but I thought it was a good idea to drop it off at a holiday cookie decorating party my running team was having. I did try a bit of the frosting mix though…in some oatmeal.

frosting-oatmeal
Frosting oatmeal…? I try 😛

For some reason, I thought that the frosting mix would “magically” turn into frosting…because that’s what it’s supposed to do right? Haha…I honestly did not notice any difference to my oatmeal after adding a tablespoon or so of the mix. So now you know.

It was the first time I tried roasted fava beans, thanks to Kala Beautiful Beans. These were crisp, salted, and peppered, and added SO much texture to my crockpot bowl already full of shredded cabbage, eggplant, and bell pepper. The whole bag didn’t fit the bowl, so I had to add more as I ate through the contents of the bowl 😛

kala
KALA Beautiful Beans – Simply Peppered Beans

I’ve seen the Good Thins brand around lately, the last time being when someone from the next door lab had the sweet potato ones for lunch. This box was “the oat one”, specifically the sweet oat and flax.

good__thins
Good Thins – Sweet Oat & Flax

Each crisp was perfectly square, and had bits of flax seeds peeking out. They definitely had a malty, sweet flavor to them, and while they made for the perfect snack on their own, I’m sure they would have tasted spectacular with some dip.

A lot of people have been getting sick in my workplace, but these Ricola lozenges weren’t something I was too keen on sharing.

ricola_1
Ricola Herbal Immunity – Honey Herb Lozenges

They were Honey Herb flavored, and the packaging went on forever, haha! And while each lozenge has no artificial colors/flavors or GMOs, as well as being packed with Swiss herbs and ginseng, they could be treated and eaten like candy.

lozenge_
Really, it’s just like candy.

I actually can’t recall the last time I had jam or jelly…it’s been all nut butter for me lately. If you don’t eat PB&J sandwiches regularly, the thought of buying jelly or jam from the grocery store doesn’t seem to stick around (pun intended!).

strawberry_jalapeno
Smucker’s Fruit & Honey – Strawberry Jalapeño Fruit Spread

I received a small jar of Smucker’s Fruit and Honey fruit spread in strawberry jalapeno (yes, jalapeno), which has been sweetned naturally with honey. I think that because of the honey, the spread wasn’t as thick as a regular jam. It did taste sweeter though, which for this flavor was off-set by the jalapeno bits. While at first this mix of flavor profiles was fun, it got annoying pretty quickly. After a while it seems like a chore, having to avoid the jalapeno pieces once they start to get tiring.

The Loacker biscuits were insanely delicious!! Overall, I preferred the coconut flavor over Noir Orange, but both flavors rocked.

loacker_noirorange
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Noir Orange

I love how the coconut flavor had a generous amount of coconut flakes over each biscuit, and that the coating was milk chocolate. The noir orange coating was a dark chocolate, and even though it was a wafer cookie, it had a bumpy puffed rice texture. The nutrition was not as “bad” as one would expect either—120 calories for 3-4 biscuits, but nothing stopped me from eating more than that in one go.

loacker_coconut
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Coconut

I’ve always preferred cookies to be chewy, so I never was a huge fan of Chips Ahoy! growing up. When they came out with the chewy version, I was all about those, but it’s been a while since I first had them in elementary school!

thins
Chips Ahoy! Thins – Cinnamon Sugar

Many years later, the brand is still going strong with a “thins” version of their cookie, which are flatter and crispier, almost like thick, kettle-cooked potato chips. This particular flavor was cinnamon sugar, and it was impossible to complain about there being a LACK of cinnamon sugar! There were even white chocolate chips thrown in. Overall, I liked the flavor, I just wish they were chewier of course.

Another sweet treat was a small bundle of Honey Acres honey straws. There was an assortment of flavors that included clover, lemon, orange, raspberry, and mint chocolate. The mint chocolate was my favorite since it had the thickest consistency of all the flavors.

honey_straws
Honey Straws, yum!!

I ate them on their own, but they could easily be added to tea or on top of oatmeal for some extra flavor and sweetness.

I first tried Wise popcorn when I received my first ever Degustabox back in June. This month’s box included a giant bag of their white cheddar popcorn, but I couldn’t confirm if the enzymes used to make the cheese they use to flavor the popcorn were microbial or rennet based. So unfortunately, I couldn’t sample the popcorn myself, but at least my lab-mates got some free food out of it.

wise_popcorn_white_cheddar
Wise Popcorn – White Cheddar

One odd product in this box was a microwaveable 3-minute meal with a mix of flavored grains. The flavor was noted as “beef burgundy”, but I looked at the ingredients list multiple times and did not see the words “beef” or “meat”. I was certainly surprised, but I didn’t want to take a chance on it in case the natural flavors were of animal origin.  Yet another product left for my co-workers…

urbane_
A meat-less meat product?

There were honestly many great finds in this month’s box, which made up for the few products I couldn’t fully enjoy. Well, I must say that if there are at least three different dessert items that are equally great-tasting, then my needs are met 😉 !

Are you a cookies or crisps/chips kind of person?

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation except for product samples for review by Alwheys Good, and all opinions are my own.

When it comes to cookies, I feel like everyone has their own opinion on what is the best cookie. For me, I prefer soft and chewy cookies, ones with not a lot of nuts (or none at all), and if there is frosting on top I won’t complain!

My favorites growing up used to be those frosted sugar cookies that are in almost every supermarket. I knew to always expect them (with excitement of course!) when someone in my elementary school classes had a birthday. I also remember my Dad baking store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough from time to time, and I preferred eating them right away when they were out of the oven. Warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies that practically crumbled in my hands were >>> day-old, hard, crisp chocolate chip cookies that I tried to pass on to friends.

Nowadays, I like to keep things simple as sugar (or snickerdoodle) when it comes to cookies. I don’t really care that much for chocolate chips or other chunky additions anymore, but that also depends on how I’m feeling. Obviously I didn’t mind when it came to sampling these Alwheys Good Cookies:

Alwheys Good Protein Cookies
Alwheys Good Protein Cookies

I was sent samples of their three flavor to try out, and couldn’t wait to bite into these soft and dense-looking cookies. The are made for cold-processed whey protein, which are ideal conditions for preserving amino acids. The company also donates part of its profits to spinal cord injury research and related charities. Hmm…reminds me of this race I ran a while back. Maybe both groups should connect and work together? I’m sure anyone running Wings for Life in the future would love to see Alwheys Good cookies in their post-race goodie bag 😉

VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP
VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP ♥

Each pack comes with two cookies approximately the size of the palm of your hand. All of my cookies stuck together on their flat sides, so it actually looked like a huge Madeline cookie except larger in size!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP ♥
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP ♥

All of the cookies were extremely soft, and tasted more like a sponge cake than an actual cookie. I actually liked this chewiness, but the people out their who like crispy cookies or thick shortbread may not favor this texture.

BLACK & WHITE ♥
CHOCOLATE BLACK & WHITE ♥

This flavor was surprisingly my favorite seeing that the base was chocolate versus vanilla. I’m guessing because I found it to have the most “character” from all three flavors—white chocolate chips in a chocolate cookie, how’s that for a spin on things? 😉

Which of these three flavors would you like to try?

First Meal Out in 2016

First Meal Out in 2016

Even though I was back to work after my week in Tulsa, my lab mates were still taking advantage of their break, and I literally had the entire lab floor to myself 😛

I did have work to do though, and kept my energy levels up with some Vitamin Shoppe purchases I made prior to my trip…including two of the newest Lenny and Larry’s cookies!

Coconut Chocolate
Coconut Chocolate
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

From these two flavors, my favorite was Coconut Chocolate. It had pieces of dried coconut mixed in, along with the classic chocolate chip cookie base. The DCPBS flavor was delicious too, but in comparison, was softer and more mundane in its flavor profile.

Along with these insanely addicting cookies, I ended up getting a canister of Quest protein powder with the same Vitamin Shoppe order, since it was on sale. Of course, I’ve been mixing it with yogurt and topping it with interesting cookie butter flavors (like this one—a macaroon cookie butter!!), but I also tried it mixed in with a hot bowl of oatmeal which wasn’t too bad!

Quest Strawberries and Cream
Quest Strawberries and Cream

By the time the weekend rolled around, I was able to make it out to the Grove and walk not too far to reach Sweetgreen. I actually learned about its existence that day while looking for places to eat lunch as I was in-between experiments in lab.

Sweetgreen, by the Grove
Sweetgreen, by the Grove

The restaurant is in a two-story building, so while the width was small, the height of the space was the exact opposite. At the front of the restaurant, a chalkboard listed farms and local partners that Sweetgreen gets its produce and food goods from.

That color though...
That color though…

The ordering-style is set-up so that you build your salad bowl like you would a sandwich at Subway. There are combinations all set and listed on the menu, or you can create your own.

Everything fresh and from modern farms.
Everything fresh and from modern farms.

I decided to get the Hummus Tahina, and from there the process was very simple. The girl who was helping me knew exactly was to put in, how much, and I even ended up “skipping” the person in front of me because my bowl was just done that fast 😛

With bowl, water, fork, and napkins in tow, I climbed upstairs and found plenty of seats.

Upstairs seating!
Upstairs seating!

As soon as I was settled in, I was more than ready to dig in!

shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade hummus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt
shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade hummus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt

Everything was perfectly dressed with cucumber tahini yogurt, and just like I save my dollop of nut butter/nutella/cookie spread in my proyo bowls for last, I did the same with my hummus dollop. What took me by surprise the most was how creamy the small pieces of feta tasted, and how doughy the falafel was. Even though this falafel wasn’t green, I actually liked its consitency—at least in this bowl.

Even though it felt like just another week and weekend, at least my first meal dining out for 2016 was a success!

Sweetgreen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pasta on Pizza

Pasta on Pizza

My sister and I spent the rest of our Saturday afternoon, after stuffing our faces with cookies and milk, being emotionally-moved by The Good Dinosaur. I was also touched by the short beforehand (Sanjay’s Super Team). My sis and I agreed that even though TGD was excellent, it wasn’t advertised as much as it should have been. I remember seeing promotional stuff about Inside Out months before it came out, but TGD came up by surprise. It really should have gotten more press…

After our movie, we didn’t want to travel too far for dinner. We thought we’d check out one of the more fancier places nearby (an Italian restaurant), but their vegetarian pizza selection was minimal.

So we opted for the other Italian place next door…

 Mobtown Pizza, Tustin
Mobtown Pizza, Tustin

It seemed less pretentious, had more pizza variety, and easy on the student wallet 😉

mbpizza_icecrm_l&lcookie (3)

It was also brightly-lit inside, unlike the dimly-lit, fancy place we almost dined in.

 Comfy & casual atmosphere
Comfy & casual atmosphere

It also seemed like it was a pretty popular place to go—there was a birthday party going on, and lots of mom/daughter pairs having pizza after a long day of shopping.

 Saturday night pizza.
Saturday night pizza.

My sis and I initially wanted to get a deep dish pizza slice each, but they didn’t have any available that were vegetarian. So we decided to do the next best thing and order a full pizza, with half veggies and half pasta. While we waited for our pizza to be rolled out and baked (which actually took a while…but maybe it was because we were hungry…), we noticed the mobster/Godfather-themed décor:

 Godfather-themed
Godfather-themed

The mobster phrases though!

 Common Mobsta Phrases
Common Mobsta Phrases

Before we got to the point of eating our arms off, our pizza arrived!

 Half-n-Half
Half-n-Half

I helped myself to two slices of the Don Veggie, which was topped with an assortment of veggies, including artichoke hearts.

 Don Veggie
Don Veggie

I tried the Fat Macaroni Pie slice, and it was incredible. It was literally like having pasta with marinara sauce on pizza crust.

 Fat Macaroni Pie!
Fat Macaroni Pie!

Pasta usually isn’t my entrée of choice, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be. Sometimes it’s okay to take a break from the comfortable falafel and quinoa 😉

 Fat Macaroni Pie Pasta Slice
Fat Macaroni Pie Pasta Slice

Our OC Thanksgiving weekend was over on Sunday, when my sis and I parted ways at Union Station and I had to park myself in front of a computer for the next seven hours just to finish a proposal.

At least it was completed by a decent hour, and I was able to treat myself to this exclusive Wal-Mart B&J’s flavor. I was able to stop by the one close to Union Station before dropping my sis off!

 Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ben & Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

Graham cracker swirl. That’s really all there is to it. Sorry to say the pumpkin was not that noticeable!

I also picked up the other Wal-Mart exclusive to try the next day, but I was not a fan. Too much (icy) strawberry and not enough shortbread :/

 Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Not So Shortcake Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Not So Shortcake Ice Cream

But at least L&L’s Birthday Cake Cookie was not a disappointment! I bought a box on Black Friday (most of my purchases that day was solely on food!!), and I had most of them over the weekend…

They taste like a regular, soft sugar cookie, but smell like birthday cake. Put some icing on these and you’ve got a protein-packed Lofthouse-style cookie.

 Lenny & Larry's Birthday Cake Cookie
Lenny & Larry’s Birthday Cake Cookie

Do you prefer pizza from a casual or fine dining place?

Mobtown Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ice Cream, Cookies, Donuts, Coffee

Ice Cream, Cookies, Donuts, Coffee

Who wouldn’t want a bowl containing all of the above 😉 ?

I knew that after “dining” on some sub-par salad, dessert had to be beyond exceptional.

Good thing icdc was only a half an hour walk away.

 icdc front --- stands for ice cream, cookies, donuts & coffee
icdc front — stands for ice cream, cookies, donuts & coffee

Apparently this colorful little hole-in-the-wall has been around for quite a while. I recently learned of its existence while surfing through Instagram one day, and bookmarked it for later travels.

 Colorful interior!
Colorful interior!

But the time had come for me to feast on my first ever donut sundae. Trust me, icdc made it a good one.

 Coffee shop essentials.
Coffee shop essentials.

I first picked my donut, then ice cream, which was all topped with whipped cream and my choice of caramel or fudge sauce. I picked caramel to “lighten” things up.

 Ice cream selection and cups/cones.
Ice cream selection and cups/cones.

The employee behind the counter took her time making the masterpiece, carefully scooping a generously-sized portion of mint chip ice cream and balancing it at the center of a vanilla donut with rainbow sprinkles. She then moved towards the cash wrap area, where she topped everything off with whipped cream and a giant swirl of caramel.

Indeed, it was a beauty.

 View from the top!
View from the top!

There was no seating inside, so I carefully carried my sundae outside and enjoyed it while people-watching/grateful for the fact I wasn’t one of the poor drivers stuck in traffic.

 My customized donut sundae ~ vanilla donut with sprinkles + mint chip ice cream + caramel sauce + whipped cream
My customized donut sundae ~ vanilla donut with sprinkles + mint chip ice cream + caramel sauce + whipped cream

I ate the whipped cream first, and then was met with a pleasant surprise by the flavor of the ice cream. It didn’t taste like that sweet, artificial mint stuff you usually find—it had the flavor of mint leaf infused in it or something, because it tasted refreshing and truly minty!

 Mint chip ice cream, actually infused with mint leaf!
Mint chip ice cream, actually infused with mint leaf!

When I finally got to the donut, the outside of it had taken in all of the ice cream meltiness, but it was resistant to the cutting of my knife. After peeling away at it, I found the donut to be quite tasty, and definitely falling under the cake donut category versus the light/fluffy kind I usually come across.

 Hard to cut through with a plastic knife, but so good to eat!
Hard to cut through with a plastic knife, but so good to eat!

icdc—secret code for dreams in a cup 

icdc Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Please excuse the awkward title…at least it’s not a boring “4th of July Weekend Part blah blah” 😉

So after my sister and I completed our journey for vegan donuts, our next stop was to the beach! We realized that there was a hurdle in our plans however…since we were all the way up in Northeast LA, it was going to take at least another two hours before we arrived in West LA. Oh boy…

But, we couldn’t let traveling time get in the way of our plans. On the brightside, it would be “another adventure” for us.

We caught the train around 3pm, and transferred to a bus at Union Station. From there, things got hazy since I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus while my sister listened to music. The bus was packed by the time we got off, and we witnessed some crazy passengers saying some crazy things when we were on board. Perhaps it was the 4th of July-induced adrenaline?

We got off in Venice, and decided to walk down to Marina Del Rey where the fireworks were taking place that night. Even though we were complaining about the walking we had to do earlier in the day, this stroll was more pleasant since there was an ocean breeze along with it being overcast.

We walked alongside the path that I remember running on one of my team long runs during marathon training season. It was such a gorgeous sight to see the yachts and boats docked in the water…on a cloudy summer evening.

 Boats docked at Fisherman's Village.
Boats docked at Fisherman’s Village.

We stopped at Fisherman’s Village for some photo-taking, and pondered over whether we should stay and wait for the fireworks then and there, or continue onwards to find something to eat.

 Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?
Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?

We chose to do the latter of course, and though the walk continued to be long, we could not help but enjoy the fantastic views of the water…

 Perfect weather & views.
Perfect weather & views.

We eventually made it to Dockweiler Beach, and walked inland from there to check out the small offering of eateries and cafes. We weren’t craving anything in particular, but we were able to find a cute, veggie-friendly storefront in the middle of a strip mall.

 The Mad Carrot!
The Mad Carrot!

The Mad Carrot looked like any ol’ cafe from the front, but the colors inside were extremely warm and inviting.

 Inside...
Inside…

They had menu cards at the front, and my eyes were immediately drawn towards the Not-chos.

 Colorful menu!
Colorful menu!

Unfortunately, they were made with turkey chili, and even though I asked if they could be made without the chili, it ended up being more complicated than it should have been. So I settled for the Vegan Sausage.

The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.
The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.

My sister got the Veggie Melt, which also came with a side of chips…

 This one actually looked pretty good!  :P
This one actually looked pretty good! 😛

Since the cafe was closing early due to the 4th of July festivities, we were given foam to-go boxes. My sis and I found a bench in the strip mall, and ate our meals before walking back to the beach. Both of us agreed that neither of our orders were knock-outs, and that we easily could have whipped something up of that caliber at home. But for the time being, it would do.

By the time we finished eating, we immediately felt weary. We had another two hours or so until the sky would be dark enough for the fireworks show. It felt like it would take an eternity though…

After some back and forth, my sister and I let our inner grannies make the decision to call it a day and head home. I arranged for our ride back with Uber, using a first-time user coupon code for a free ride up to $30! We were glad to be able to be dropped off directly at home. Needless to say, we were exhausted from our jettin’-across-LA-via-public-transit tour!

It was certainly something hot chocolate could fix!

 Yum-ay
Yum-ay

The next morning, we stayed in my apartment until an hour before my sister’s bus was scheduled to leave. After dropping her off at the station, I went by Target to pick up some eggs and a B&J’s pint for later (of course ;)) .

  Hmm...maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this...
Hmm…maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this…

I was thinking of getting another exclusive flavor, but when I saw Milk & Cookies for the first time ever, I knew I had to try it right away!

 Milk and Cookies pint!!!!
Milk and Cookies pint!!!!

It looked like an ice cream core when I opened it, but it just turned out to be a huge chunk of chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I am not complaining when I say this though!

Once I started making my way through the pint, it was slowly transforming from ice cream to milkshake—a “cookie shake” to be more precise.

The rest of the day, and weekend for that matter, was spent relaxing at home, and going to sleep very early. Sometimes the most fun events in life can make you (happily) exhausted.

If you live in the US, did you celebrate the 4th of July with a fireworks show?

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Banana Cream and Chunky Chocolate PB Cookies

Banana Cream and Chunky Chocolate PB Cookies

I was in the mood to use my dehydrator again this past week because of our abundance of strawberries. I was able to finely cut a bowl of them into slices, toss ‘em on a tray with an extra banana cut up into slices as well, and I ended up with some crispy, intensely sweet fruit chips that were a much better alternative to the $3 mini-serving-size bags of freeze-dried strawberries found in the grocery store.

But I also had some other ingredients on hand, and wanted test out a cookie recipe. The result was this:

Banana Cream and Chunky Chocolate PB Cookies
Yields 7
A flavorful oat cookie simply "baked" in a dehydrator.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
10 hr 30 min
Total Time
12 hr 30 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
10 hr 30 min
Total Time
12 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. - 1 cup of oats (80 grams)
  2. - 1/2 cup banana-flavored ice cream (thawed or semi-thawed)
  3. - 1/3 cup of water
  4. - 2 tbsp. of dark chocolate chunky peanut butter (32 grams)
Instructions
  1. Mix oats, ice cream, and water so that a "foamy" batter forms.
  2. Soak the mixture for 2+ hours in the fridge.
  3. Scoop into mounds on a dehydrator sheet or rack (makes about seven good-size cookies).
  4. Dehydrate for 135F for 8 hours.
  5. Stop dehydrating, and (carefully) flip cookies over if still flimsy and limp.
  6. Dehydrate at same temperature for another 2.5 hours.
  7. Eat by themselves, or add more peanut butter/add to ice cream 🙂
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 1. Foamy oats mixture.
Foamy oats mixture.
 After PB added.
After PB added.
 Cookies after 8 hours, and flipped over.
Cookies after 8 hours.

The cookies turned out to be firmer on the outside, but still chewy towards the center after the two rounds of dehydration. The banana ice cream was a good binding agent, but the most flavor came out from the peanut butter. And even though I used a chunky dark chocolate peanut butter, I could barely detect actual peanut chunks or chocolate…it was all about the oats and scent of peanut butter.

 Cookies via dehydrator!
Cookies via dehydrator!

It made for some nice breakfast bites before an 8-hour workday, and my sister helped herself to one for an after-dinner snack. Knowing that the recipe, as simple as it is, resulted in some decent-looking cookies without the use of an oven, I will be experimenting with different flavored ice creams, milks, and flours in the future 🙂 !

Do you prefer simple recipes?

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