Came for the Dough

Came for the Dough

Before leaving for Tulsa for my marathon and Thanksgiving, I wanted to pay my sister another visit in the good ol’ MV because I certainly needed the mini getaway.

I love how the Metrolink train offers a discounted day pass on weekends. One way tickets on the weekdays are pretty steep so getting a $10 day pass that works all day on a Saturday or Sunday was a relief for my wallet. 
 
So I left on a Saturday afternoon after a morning run and packing right after. When I arrived at the Tustin station around 3, my sister was ready to pick me up and from there we drove over to Dough & Arrow in Costa Mesa. 
 
It's not ice cream in there...
It’s not ice cream in there…
 
One of the latest food trends to hit So Cal is scoopable cookie dough, mimicking that of scoopable ice cream shops. Dough & Arrow was a cookie dough lover’s dream, and them some:
 
Dough & Arrow, Costa Mesa
Dough & Arrow, Costa Mesa

It was a small shop of course, but there was plenty of spacious seating and a giant plastic cookie statue in the center, perfect for Instagramming.

Instagram Cookie
Instagram Cookie

My sister and I took a while to figure out what exactly we wanted, but we were firm with our final decisions. She wasn’t quite feeling the whole straight-up cookie dough vibe, so she opted for two chewy unique-flavored cookies and a latte.

A PB-Cup filled cookie, S'mores Cookie, and my Chocolate fudge cookie dough that had white chocolate chips mixed in just cuz...
A PB-Cup filled cookie, S’mores Cookie, and my Chocolate fudge cookie dough that had white chocolate chips mixed in just cuz…

I went for a chocolate fudge-flavored cookie dough in their smallest size. Even at 8oz, the dessert was quite rich and mouthwatering.

Because we came a few hours before “proper” dinner time, we took our sweet time eating our sweet treats and catching up on two weeks worth of gossip.

When it was getting closer to five, we joined the traffic on the freeway heading south to get some dinner in Mission Viejo before heading home. My sis was cravin North Indian food, so we stopped by a local favorite that she tried before: Tikka Curry Wraps and Bowls.

Tikka Curry Bowls and Wraps
Tikka Curry Wraps & Bowls

Since it was now dark outside with a nice chill, I was definitely craving something warm. A chickpea daal curry bowl with basmati rice did the trick, while my sis feasted on a spicy paneer wrap.

Wrap and bowl
Wrap and bowl

My bowl was an aesthetic piece of art, haha!

Interesting bowl size and shape...
Interesting bowl size and shape…

For the rest of the evening, my sis was glued to her laptop lecture notes while I did some data analysis/procrastinated with the cats. They are my sister’s roomate’s cats, but they are two adorable little guys who come in a demanded to be petted and cuddled with.

The next morning, I managed to go out for a six mile run despite feeling sore all over, and managed not to feel too bogged down by the hills! My sister got ready as soon as I got back, and from there we drove towards Santa Ana to meet up with her lab partner at a cafe for a study session. I continued my lab data analysis while they discussed their class work. All of us got some form of latte coffee.

My order was a ginger snap cookie with a warm Spanish latte. It was also pretty chilly out so I also borrowed my sister’s cardigan since we were sitting outside.

Gingersnap cookie and Spanish latte
Gingersnap cookie and Spanish latte

We finished and left close to noon, and headed back home since my sis was working from 3-7pm at her job at one of the stores in the local mall. After taking a quick lunch break at home, we headed to the mall and I set up shop near the food court.

We actually didn’t leave until 8pm because they held my sis back to recover the store. It was frustrating, as I found myself pacing back and forth through the mall, but I recall how mind-numbing and annoying my retail jobs used to be, and I could only feel for my poor sis.

When she did get out, we had dinner at Native Foods in Aliso Viejo and I surely did not complain. By the end of our meal, we were both more than ready to fall asleep. She of course had to Skype with her BF though, so she ended up going to bed hours after I did, haha.

In the morning, she dropped me off at the train station and I made the long trek to lab on a Monday morning. We didn’t have time to pick up coffee, but I managed to get some of the new birthday cake-flavored Quest bars while at the mall the day before from GNC.

The bar itself was softer than the usual Quest bars, but I was in favor of the chewy consistency. Of course there was some of that slightly grainy protein bar flavor, but overall I liked it more than the original flavors.

Quest Bar - Birthday Cake
Quest Bar – Birthday Cake

The rest of the week was busy with work and prepping things so that I my stuff at work would be taken care of on all points while I was out. Once Friday rolled around, I was more than ready to be pampered at home…and I guess, for the Route 66 Marathon too πŸ˜‰

Tikka Wraps & Curry Bowls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

There’s Always Time for Ice Cream

There’s Always Time for Ice Cream

I’ve gotten so distracted by my work lately, that eating out—and even running—have started to retain less and less of my attention. Last year around this time, I was celebrating my weekends with long run victories and skipping all over LA finding good places to eat post-runs.

Of course I’m still eating and running, but this past weekend, I wasn’t in the mood to eat out and I had plenty to do anyways. On Saturday, I volunteered for a STEM-related event my campus was sponsoring. Along with nourishing young minds, I was nourishing myself with this delightful veggie sandwich. It was stuffed with lettuce, tapenade, and layerzzzz of swiss cheese.

one fine veggie sandwich
Free (veggie) food for volunteers!!

Instead of going out to eat afterwards, I made a quick stop downtown to grab some groceries from Walgreen’s and the Whole Foods that recently opened. I found two truffle-jammed B&J pints, and since they were Walgreen’s exclusives, I couldn’t pass them up.

I had Triple Caramel Chunk Saturday night, and fell head over heels for this caramel-insane pint! I loved the mild, sweet caramel ice cream, and the caramel swirl that reminded me of the Karamel Sutra Core flavor. Of course, the mini caramel truffle cups were smallest, but best part!

triple_Caramel_CHunk
Triple Caramel Chunk

On Sunday, rain and thunder were in the forecast for LA. Even so, my marathon training team still drove all the way to the beach to get in our longest, grittiest run pre-marathon of 22 miles. It was the best/worst decision I ever made. I felt strong and amazing for the first six miles, but by mile seven, it was pouring, I was soaking wet, and I loathed the fact that I wasn’t even half way done yet. The last two miles were what killed me…the wind gusts were so great off the ocean that sand was literally sticking to my legs. Not to mention the fact that it was freezing cold! I wanted to smack our team captain in the face for making us go out for the run, but then it was probably one of those things that would help us out on race day…if we survived the monsoon run, we could survive a milder 26.2 in two weeks, right? πŸ˜‰

I came home later that day soaking wet, and ready to dig in into my other pint: Truffle Trifecta.

truffle trifecta
Truffle Trifecta

It was all chocolate ice cream so I wasn’t expecting it to be an all-time favorite, but it was fun trying to find all three truffles that were supposedly mixed in this entire pint!

chocolate_top
It’s ALL chocolate?

I found fudge…

chocolate truffle
Fudge truffle

…and caramel…

caramel_truffle_now_where_is_the_marshmello_truffle
Caramel truffle

…but “marshmallow”? Nope. I couldn’t find any white, pectin-based marshmallow truffles to my disappointment.

Even though I treated myself to some decadent ice creams this weekend, I am looking forward to a lab-free weekend coming up! It’s also taper week, so my long run on Sunday will only be 8 miles…meaning more time for doing what I love best: hopping all over LA and stuffing my face with its good eats!

Do you easily get caught up with work?

Sunday Salad & Sundae

Sunday Salad & Sundae

One 12 mile run, a little over two hours in lab, and sometime around the hour of 3pm later, I was able to give my feet a break and nourish myself with something from Momed in Beverly Hills.

 Momed Beverly Hills
Momed Beverly Hills

I was once again in south Beverly Hills, even though my last visit took place relatively recently.

 Inside Momed.
Inside Momed.

At Momed, I didn’t need that long to decide what to order. Even though the flatbread options sounded delicious, I was craving the fattoush salad, with a falafel substitution instead of chicken.

 ddd
Fattoush salad – Four falafel, lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, tahini sauce was spread on the bottom and all was dressed in sumac dressing

I whipped out a journal paper I was in the middle of highlighting for class while I waited for my order. Other diners that were currently in the restaurant were already finishing up, while I was waiting for my food just to arrive…

 Baked goods counter and seating.
Baked goods counter and seating.

When my salad did arrive, I was disappointed that no pita was served on the side, even though it was described to be a part of the dish on the menu.

 Fattoush salad - sub-in falafel, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion, tahini and sumac dressing. No pita!
Fattoush salad – sub-in falafel, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion, tahini and sumac dressing. No pita!

The tahini was carefully spread very thin on the plate of the salad, and the falafel tasted dry on its own. At least the salad was nicely dressed and flavorful.

 Close up time!
Close up time!

And while it was a decent salad overall, the price I ended up paying for it was severely overpriced for what it was truly worth.

Oh well, nothing a good Sunday sundae can’t fix! Since Creamistry recently opened up a new location just a few doors down, I thought why not pay them a visit?

 Creamistry
Creamistry

All of the grand opening fanfare must have died down, because there was barely anyone inside when I paid a visit. The sweet smell of ice cream, cool temperature, and pop music however, made the ice cream shop still feel comfortable and exciting.

 All those machines, ready to whip up something cold and sweet.
All those machines, ready to whip up something cold and sweet.

I felt like ordering one of the Creations since I was in a sundae mood. Each Creation includes layers of fresh frozen ice cream, toppings, and sauces served in a large (12 oz.) cup.

 Creations menu.
Creations menu.

I chose to get Elemint, which includes mint ice cream, oreo cookies, small chocolate chips and a fudge drizzle.

 Elemint-al beauty
Elemint-al beauty

My Elemint Creation had two organic mint liquid nitrogen ice cream scoops separated by a chunky layer of small chocolate chips, all of which was topped with fudge.

 ICCCCCE CREEEAM
ICCCCCE CREEEAM

And the occasional layer of oreo cookie crumbles.

 Hey there oreo...
Hey there oreo…

There is a reason why nitrogen exists, and it is for making crazy good sundaes.

 Nitrogen has its place in the world.
Nitrogen has its place in the world.

Do you like liquid nitrogen ice cream?

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

Weekend Therapy

Weekend Therapy

This past weekend marked the final weekend of summer, in academic year terms that is. The semester officially begins this week, but since I’ve been in working in the lab all summer, I feel like my routine will pretty much stay the same (other than having class/seminar thrown in).

I did face some highs/lows in the week leading up to the weekend (grad student admin & apartment issues…what else is new?), so my weekend kick-off pint was well-deserved for an assortment of reasons—Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, it couldn’t have been more fitting! Funny thing was I actually bought this in the morning while out for my run. I didn’t have to worry about it losing its “ice cream integrity” since it was able to sit in my freezer all day while I was out at work πŸ˜‰

 Ice cream to melt the stress of the week away!
Ice cream to melt the stress of the week away!

It says there was chocolate pudding ice cream mixed in here, but it honestly just tasted like chocolate ice cream + chocolate cookie bits + chocolate brownies. I mean, that’s not at all bad, but perhaps if there was a pudding swirl, this flavor would be right on up there with the other flavor elites πŸ˜› . Swirl or no swirl, I enjoyed this pint while watching the finale of The Astronaut Wives Club.

I had originally planned to run a 9 miler the next morning, but when I woke up on Saturday, I felt like making a cup of tea and just relaxing before heading out for morning lab work. Sometimes you’ve just got to listen to your body when it comes to these things πŸ˜‰

Unlike the blazing hot weekend before, this Saturday was cooler and cloudier, and so by the time I finished up my work mid-afternoon, I was’t dragging my feet to the train station. I did want to head out to Santa Monica though, so I was prepared to come home dog-tired after this half-day “adventure”.

I hopped off at Main St. about an hour later, and walked for another 10 minutes before I reached my late lunch destination for the day: {Euphoria Loves} Rawvolution.

 Painted blue walls and a juice bar.
Painted blue walls and a juice bar.

The interior was had a cozy feel with some lounge areas with pillows, similar to The Springs. There was a kitchen in the far back, and a juice bar right in front of it that mimicked an alcoholic bar set-up.

It was a pick-your-own-seat kind of place, and I of course found a spot that would allow me to take as many restaurant/food pictures as I felt like taking (duh). When the hostess came by, I asked for some water as she handed me the menu. She came back with this mason jar, filled with lemon-infused water. I guess this eco-friendly trend has been picked up by the restaurant world lately πŸ˜‰

 Trendy water drinkin'
Trendy water drinkin’

I was immediately intrigued by the Nachos Grande option on the menu, even though I thought about getting a full entree plate (like a scramble or enchillada), but when nachos are ever on the menu at a vegan establishment, there is a 95% chance I’m gonna get them πŸ˜›

Though the portion was small, the presentation was grand.

 Nachos!
Nachos!

After cutting through the colorful mash at the center of the plate, I found that the walnut taco meat formed the base layer, with a pile of salsa and a whole lotta guac on top. The swirly drizzle on top of the guac was cashew mayo, and all of this was decorated with blue corn chips.

 Walnut taco meat, salsa, and guacamole!!! And chips for dippin'
Walnut taco meat, salsa, and guacamole!!! And chips for dippin’

The chips themselves were not light and crispy, but tasted more like flatbread chips. Somewhat chewy and bland, they were not something I’d package and sell on their own, but they served their purpose as a vehicle for the better-tasting stuff on the plate.

Other than the plate being watery towards the end due to the salsa, the dish as a whole was filling and delicious. It was awkward asking for the check at the end, since I was given the check at my table, but had to go up to the cash register to pay. No one told me this though, so I ended up sitting at my table for an embarrasing length of time until I realized everyone was getting up to pay!

Before heading home, I picked up some groceries from Haggen, as well as the Banana Split Ben & Jerry’s pint.

 Banana Split -
Banana Split – Banana & Strawberry ice creams with walnuts, fudge chunks, and fudge swirl. 

It says on the pint carton that strawberry ice cream is in here, but I found that it was actually a banana ice cream base with frozen strawberries mixed in, with walnuts and fudge chunks of course. The fudge swirl was not as thick as it could have been, but it there was a plentiful amount of it. It was more like chocolate sauce/syrup, which is more associated with traditional banana splits anyway.

Ice cream therapy on Friday and Saturday, along with a nourishing plate of raw vegan nachos helped me sleep for a solid 8.5 hours that night (only if my weeknights could match up!!), and I had plenty of fuel for my long run the next morning πŸ™‚

What does your weekend therapy look like?

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A Fine Summer Weekend

A Fine Summer Weekend

My favorite kind of weekend is the kind that makes you feel like you’ve been on a week-long vacation come Sunday night. This past weekend had me feel just that, even though taking Friday off helped πŸ˜‰

I left for the airport in Long Beach after taking care of things in lab during the day. I ended up having an hour to finish up packing, and rode the train down to the farthest stop it would go in Long Beach. Even though there was an accident on the railroad tracks by the time I boarded, the delay only took an extra half hour, and so I wasn’t panicking about missing my flight. I actually ended up making it to my gate with a good twenty minutes to spare!

We didn’t depart until ~8:30PM, which meant take-off took place when the sky just turned dark. Needless to say, the view was awesome from my window seat πŸ˜‰ . I was able to sit back, listen to my MP3, and enjoy flying through the night sky. I landed close to 10PM, and my Dad was able to pick me up from the airport. I had no energy once arriving at the house, and promptly crashed into a pleasant night’s sleep.

The next morning, I went out for a 6 mile run along old routes. I was quickly reminded of how hot it gets in the summer, even at 8AM up in my part of Nor Cal, but I was still able to run at a fast-for-me pace despite this.

After the run, I kept things lazy with a nap at noon. Since my sister was also visiting this weekend, we decided to head out to the mall later in the afternoon with our friend who was at home with her family for the summer. We ended up doing some clothes shopping, and stopped at Barnes & Noble for some coffee and reading time (I appropriately read the issues of Runner’s World that I needed to catch up on πŸ˜‰ ).

 Sbux and magazine reading at B&N // Stats from run earlier in the day!
Sbux and magazine reading at B&N // Stats from run earlier in the day!

For the rest of the evening, I sat down to a home-cooked meal and eventually went to sleep after some couch & TV time…it was the best πŸ™‚

On Saturday, my Dad and I went to the gym, where I was able to fit in an upper-body workout followed by a soak in the spa. After running some errands, I had lunch followed by a glorious nap. Funny thing is, when I woke up from that nap, I felt like taking another one! I was certainly taking advantage of the hours of sleep I lost from my busy days in May!!

 Tried on the free tank I got in the mail a few days ago!
Tried on the free tank I got in the mail a few days ago!

I think I ended up napping the day away looking back at it now…but I have zero regrets about that. Upon waking up, I was able to convince my sister  (though it didn’t take much convincing…) to join me in a pint party. She treated herself to a chocolate-exploding flavor from Ben & Jerry’s, while I finally got my hands on and dug into a pint of The Tonight Dough!

thetonightdough!

I was expecting this flavor to be a lot more tastier than it ended up being, but found it to be heavy in the chocolate ice cream when compared to what was available caramel-wise. And the ‘gobs of cookie dough’ were really lacking, just sayin’

 Too much chocolate, not enough caramel, and is that a peanut butter cookie dough gob I see...or just my imagination??
Too much chocolate, not enough caramel, and is that a peanut butter cookie dough gob I see…or just my imagination??

We paired our ice cream party with a Netflix movie, specifically Mary & Max. Our thought was that claymation = a potentially cute and endearing movie, and while it was a good movie from the aspect of storytelling, it was interesting to see “certain themes” imaged through a medium primarily used for younger audiences….yeah, but what else can you expect from Netflix?

— 

On Sunday, I was able to “sleep in” until 7, and immediately got ready for my 12-mile long run after sharing coffee with my Dad. I went out for a 6 mile out-and-back with no music, and felt incredibly refreshed after my workout. I was even more elated to find out that my Dad made chocolate chip pancakes for my sister and I, and I topped mine with some cherry greek yogurt because greek yogurt >>> syrup. Again, just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

 Homemade post-run brekkie fuel (aka, the best).
Homemade post-run brekkie fuel (aka, the best).

The morning fun continued with a stop at the gym, and a quick lunch before heading out for my first ever pedicure!

spa day

I initially went in with hopes of getting rid of two tough calluses that had formed on the sides of the balls of my feet (oh, the side effects of running…), but unfortunately the pedicurist didn’t do such a great job. It did feel nice to have my legs and feet pampered though…especially soon after a long run! 

And to continue my state of R&R bliss, I had another pint–#2 for the weekend!

thatsmyjam

The That’s My Jam Core was calling out my name—Ben & Jerry surely did want to redeem themselves for the sub-par flavor that was The Tonight Dough πŸ˜› . And this core certainly did just that—it had just the right balance of chocolate and raspberry flavors, and the chocolate chunks were appropriately mixed in with the raspberry side of things πŸ˜‰ 

 Okay, so chocolate is finally giving some room for another flavor ;) . Raspberry ice cream and a raspberry jam core isn't such a bad flavor to share the spotlight with though!
Okay, so chocolate is finally giving some room for another flavor πŸ˜‰ . Raspberry ice cream and a raspberry jam core isn’t such a bad flavor to share the spotlight with though!

Unlike on Saturday though, this pint served as my “nap cap”, and I fell into another deep, cozy nap. I accompanied my Dad to the grocery store when I woke up, and after returning, had dinner while watching The Next Food Network Star with the sister. Before going to bed, I finished packing up and before I knew it, I was awake again (though not due to my choosing…) and the blissful, relaxing weekend as I knew it had come to an end. 

This short trip was especially bittersweet for me this time around, since my parents are setting up to move out-of-state by the time summer ends. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it up again before the big move, so it may as well be the final time I stayed in the house that I grew up in for 14 years of my life…I still have ties to my hometown though, at least through my close, childhood friends, but not having a personal “home” in the place I lived most of my life will definitely be something that I’ll need to get used to.

What are your ingredients for a fine summer weekend?

Runners, how do you get rid of calluses? 

Memorial Day Weekend ’15

Memorial Day Weekend ’15

Memorial Day Weekend was such a blast!  Having company over twice this month has made time fly by so quickly, which is great since that means I’m almost done with the specific set of experiments that have been requiring so much time from me as of late…

My weekend started off with a productive Friday in lab, and before heading home, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some essentials so I wouldn’t have to worry about it when my friend arrived. I also “had” to get my pint for the night—Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Froyo! Can you believe that it was my first time trying this?!

ben and jerry's half baked froyo

The mix of chocolate and vanilla frozen yogurt was perfect, and how can you go wrong with moist, chewy bite-size pieces of brownies mixed with cookie dough?! I can see why it’s so popular. In fact, I witnessed a girl clean out a local Fresh & Easy of all the pints they had of this flavor one night, stating to her friends that it’s so hard for her to find, haha. 

On Saturday, my friend drove down to visit me for the weekend! Since she wasn’t expecting to arrive in the city before 2PM, that gave me plenty of time to take of my lab duties in the morning. The timing actually worked out quite precisely since I had enough time to finish, make it back to the apartment, change into some flip flops, and meet my friend to let her into the parking garage.

She was able to also stop by my parents’ house before driving down, so she brought plenty of goods from home for me to unpack (discount yogurts, oh yeah!).  We also spent an hour chatting it up and catching up, since the last time I saw her was back in December/January! 

Once we took care of unpacking, we decided to walk around DTLA and have dinner near Little Tokyo. The weather was overcast—not too cold, not too warm—and so it made so much sense to go out for some fresh air by going for a refreshing walk. 

We eventually made our way to the Little Tokyo Mall, and stopped in Daiso just to browse around. We spotted so many cute things, like miniature silverware, coffee mugs, and happy trashcans.

SAMSUNG

For dinner, we actually ended up eating at Shojin, the vegan sushi place I reviewed three years ago on an old blog of mine. 

shojin

And while there were some minor changes I noticed in this visit when compared to my intial one, the dim lighting was unfortunately not one of them…the menu was though!

the new shojin menu

It was now more sophisticated, simply printed on cardstock in a professional font. Long gone are the days of  anime-style animals and characters on the cover of a laminated folding menu. 

The bathroom was just as cute, pink, and adorable as before…

shojin_

Even though this place is known for their all-vegan sushi rolls, my friend and I chose to get non-roll menu items. Specifically, I went for the Marinated Seitan Steak while my friend feasted on the gluten-free Avocado Tempura Salad.

The marinated seitan steak was comprised of grilled seitan cutlets (with grill marks too!), topped with butter, and served with brown rice and three humble pieces of veggies on the side. The salad had tempura avocado, greens, almonds, wasabi mayo, and sweet tomato dressing.

shojin food

Even though our table was set with chopsticks, I was given a knife and fork to attack my seitan cutlets, haha.

silverware

We walked off dinner by taking a long walk home, and then spent the rest of the evening chillin’ in the apartment before going to sleep around 10PM.

On Sunday, I checked off my usual to-do items such as a long run, and lab duties, but was free once again in the afternoon. We stopped by a local grocery store so my friend could pick up an ice cream pint for our ‘ice cream party’ later in the evening.

Soon after that, we were off on the bus for a late, late lunch/early dinner at Urban Garden near the Grove.

urban-garden

It was an hour-long commute, so we were starving by the time we arrived. We spent a good amount of time staring at the menu. Even though the main offerings were predominantly plates and wraps, there was a wide variety of possible combinations—so it was hard to come to a final decision!

I eventually went with a vegetable hearty plate with spicy falafel, babaganoush, and golden cous cous. My friend also got a plate with hummus and cucumber salad as the ‘main stars’.

 The intricate mural on the wall was so beautiful, it was hard to peel your eyes away from it!
The intricate mural on the wall was so beautiful, it was hard to peel your eyes away from it!
 My hearty veggie plate with spicy falafel, rice, cous cous, sesame oil, babaganoush, sumac paste, and complimentary pita.
My hearty veggie plate with spicy falafel, rice, cous cous, sesame oil, babaganoush, sumac paste, and complimentary pita.

Apparently this establishment takes pride in having serving the best hummus in LA, and my friend was a sure fan. I wouldn’t say they made the best babaganoush I’ve ever tasted, but it was certainly up there, and quite nourishing.

Between the two of us, we did a pretty good job.

SAMSUNG

Needless to say, we left with full bellies and content hearts. We walked over to Vitamin Shoppe, and then stopped inside Sur La Table before continuing our walk down 3rd St. We walked through the park next to the Grove, and stopped to take a look at the Holocaust Memorial.

SAMSUNG

Our super long walk eventually got us to Wilshire, where we decided to call it a day and head back home—ice cream was waiting for us, after all!

We were able to take the train home, and after taking showers and changing into our jammies, we busted open our ice cream pints!

ben and jerry's peanut buttah cookie core

I found the Peanut Buttah Cookie Core the same day I found the Half Baked Froyo pint, and saved it just for this occasion. I was on cloud nine eating through this peanut butter ice cream mixed with crystallized peanut butter cookie bits and a cookie butter core. Swoon!

I couldn’t have asked for a better evening with my friend—eating our ice cream pints while watching 500 Questions may have been the most simplest thing to do, but it felt just right. Sometimes the most unappreciated things we do on a daily basis are much more meaningful when you have company to do them with πŸ™‚

What was your Memorial Day Weekend like this year?

Shojin Organic & Natural on Urbanspoon Urban Garden on Urbanspoon

Coconut Oil Cookie Butter Brownies

Coconut Oil Cookie Butter Brownies

My friends and I decided to have a girls/movie night to kick-off the three-day weekend, and when planning for the night, figuring out who would bring what food-wise was just as important as deciding on the movie. We chose to use a random number generator to pick our movie, with each of us ladies ready with out movie choice if our number was selected, but there was no surprise regarding our menu.

I volunteered to prepare dessert, since I had purchased a new-to-me box of brownie mix from Sprouts a few weeks before. I’ve had it perched on my cupboard shelf since then, waiting for the perfect time to get baking.

European Gourmet Bakery Organics - Chocolate Brownie Mix

This box of European Gourmet Bakery Organics Chocolate Brownie Mix has a simple ingredients list of organic brown sugar, organic wheat flour, organic cocoa, salt, and baking soda, and once I opened the bag, the strong smell of cocoa filled my kitchen (along with a chocolate-sugar cloud πŸ˜› )

brownie__batttter

I still had my Neat Egg Substitute, so I used that instead of eggs. And since I had a full jar of coconut oil and a tempting jar of cookie butter, it only made sense to incorporate those in for some knock-out brownies.

SAMSUNG

Coconut Oil Cookie Butter Brownies
These brownies taste more like coconut fudge (with a "hint" of chocolate), but don't worry...that's a good thing!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. - Box of brownie mix (~360 grams)
  2. - 2 large eggs or egg substitute (I used Neat Egg Substitute Powder)
  3. - 3 tbsp. of coconut oil
  4. - 5-6 tbsp. of cookie butter (I used Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme cookie butter)
  5. - Water (to add after all of the above ingredients are mixed, and until you get a moist, dense batter)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix wet and dry ingredients.
  3. Add water and keep mixing until you get a moist, dense batter.
  4. Pour batter onto a pan sprayed with PAM or onto a sheet of non-stick parchment paper.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes, checking every 20 minutes with the "toothpick test".
  6. Take out of the oven, and let it cool down for 10-20 minutes (you may see the brownies start to bubble, but it will reabsorb back into the brownies).
  7. Put the pan in the fridge to cool down the brownies faster (30 minutes is good).
  8. Cut the brownies into squares, and enjoy the melty, gooey, delicious-ness of each bite!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
After taking the pan out of the oven, I was immediately hit by the strong smell of coconut. I had my roommate taste a piece, and tried them for myself the next morning before plating them for the get-together. Since I love chewy, fudgy desserts, I absolutely loved how the brownies came out, specifically the melty, fudge center. They were somewhat sticky, but they didn’t fall apart, and they still had that “brownie crust” on the top.

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The ladies seemed to enjoy them too. I ended up coming back home with a few, but it was understandable since with all of our contributions, we had enough snackables to feed twice as many people than were present! Our movie choice that night was Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe…it was an interesting story, but some parts were downright creepy/awkward. We had to end the night with an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos  just so that we would leave on a happier note πŸ˜€ !

What do you like to cook/bake for potlucks?

B-UP Bars Review

B-UP Bars Review

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid nor given complimentary product by the company to write this review. This review is based on the products I personally ordered from B-UP. All opinions are my own.

Because of the rising popularity of Quest bars, it’s no surprise that other folks want a piece of the low-carb/high-protein “pie” πŸ˜‰ .

I first learned about the B-UP bars when I was visiting family over winter break. On one of the days I was hanging out with my close friends at the local mall, I stopped by the GNC there with the intention of purchasing Quest bars, but B-UP caught my eye (at least for a moment). It was interesting to see a new brand in the low-carb/high-protein space, and so I kept the name in mind to check out later.

I originally thought there were only three flavor offerings (Sugar Cookie, Chocolate Mint, and Cinnamon Roll), but when I recently visited the B-UP website to place my order, I learned about the three additional flavors that were added to the line-up! I was more than eager to dive in, order the sample pack of six total bars, and see for myself how good these bars really are (and if they are worth Quest bar competitor status πŸ˜‰ ).

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My order arrived in less than a week, and since I ordered the sample pack, I received each of the six flavors PLUS a mini Sugar Cookie bar and a stretchy bracelet. The package also came with a sweet note!

cinnamon_roll (1)

I first tried the Cinnamon Roll flavor on a morning of running and lifting weights. Since it was a 6 miler-kind-of-day, I was tired and hungry by 9AM despite eating something before all of my physical endeavors.

cinnamon_roll (2)

This bar hit the spot, but not without rocking the tastebuds! It was more on the spicy versus sweet side, and it definitely had that chewy, β€œrough protein” kind of taste.

Sugar Cookie had to be my favorite out of all six—so I was glad that the complimentary mini-size bar I got was that flavor!

sugar_cookie (1)

Unlike the Cinnamon Roll flavor, it had a lighter, airy texture, and contained the right amount of sweetness. It would make the perfect base for topping with nut butter, chocolate sauce, whatever! πŸ˜›

Peanut Butter was another favorite of mine, as the peanut butter chunks reminded me of the chocolate chunks well-known in Quest’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar.

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When I observed the bar from its side, I noticed it’s stratified layers (almost like horizontal stretch marks, haha), and while the bar was chewy, it left a dry taste in my mouth. But then again, it is peanut butter-flavored, and peanut butter does have the tendency to make you demand for water…

peanut_butter (2)

Chocolate Mint was less chewy, harder in texture, and the mint flavor was STRONG.

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Not sure if I was a fan of the chocolate ANDMINT!!! combo (it seemed as if the mint was screaming to be noticed πŸ˜› ).

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I had the last two bars—Vanilla Peanut Butter and PB&J—together on Saturday morning.

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I was a fan of Vanilla Peanut Butter for sure. It seemed to be the gentler cousin of Peanut Butter, and while it still had it’s peanut-ty roots, the gentle scent (and taste) of vanilla was able to shine through.

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I love how PB&J actually had a pink layer on top of the bar—such an adorable touch, and it was flavored with beet juice concentrate so no “weird” ingredients were involved. πŸ˜‰

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Overall, these bars had a softer, chewier feel to them when compared to Quest bars, which tend to lean towards being dense, chunky pieces akin to fudge. They also looked to be smaller, so it was disappointing to have the bar disappear from my hands within a few bites…but such is the life of a bar fanatic! πŸ˜‰

Have you tried B-UP bars?

Are you a fan of low-carb/high-protein snacks?

Sweet Endings

Sweet Endings

Before leaving for my trip, my labmates took me out to lunch as a “farewell”—more so for my leaving for graduate school rather than my trip πŸ˜‰ . I brought some homemade dessert over to share as my parting gift. They really enjoyed a plain cashew burphi I brought for a holiday party last year, so I decided to keep with the burphi theme, but let coconut be the star this time around.

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Coconut Cashew Burphi

With the amounts of ingredients I had, I didn’t even have enough to fill a whole pan! Even so, I thought the bars came out fine and would be suitable for three people to share.

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Follow the steps below!
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The recipe…haha noticed a typo here! Should be “18” bars, not “8” πŸ˜‰

Desserts are known to be imperative when celebrating life’s milestones (birthdays, weddings, etc.), but they also seem to be a mandatory component when a departure is concerned. Is it because the sweetness masks the melancholy that may arrive without a doubt?

Whatever the reason may be, desserts bring with them a celebration within themselves! With one bite, they can make a dreary day brighter, or add more sunshine to an already blissful event.

What are your favorite desserts to make for those “farewell” situations?

Kravin’ for Krave

Kravin’ for Krave

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid to write this review. I paid for these bars myself, and all opinions in this post are 100% my own.

Like pretty much any food blogger I’ve come across, I am in love with Quest Bars. Banana Nut Muffin (even though I can’t stand raw bananas), Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Double Chocolate Chunk, and White Chocolate RaspberryΒ were all awesome flavors, and of course there are the original flavors!

But this post isn’t about the Quest we all know in love, but the product featuredΒ is quite similar.

Krave Natural Protein Bars
Krave Natural Protein Bars

I learned about these Krave Natural Protein Bars recently, and after seeing their similarities in ingredients and consistency to Quest Bars, I knew I had to try them—even if it meant dropping $31.99 for the variety pack on Amazon. We all have our exceptions for splurging, right ;)?

The variety pack comes with two of six different flavors: Baked Apple Pie, Banana Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, French Toast, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Raw Cookie Dough.

I had ordered these bars on a Thursday, and was expecting the package to arrive at least a week later, but I found a box at my doorstep (to my pleasant surprise of course!) on the following Monday night. I have to give Pure Fitness Nutrition props for quick shipping!

The bars are also have slimmer look to them, as if they are flattened-out versions of Quest Bars. They alsoΒ do weigh less than what the Nutrition Facts say (the “serving size” is 70 grams, but the bars range from 55-65 grams according to my kitchen scale).

I gave French Toast a try first:

French Toast in bar form!
French Toast in bar form!

The bars all share the common ingredients of a milk protein blend, blue agave inulin, peanut butter, and erythritol, and differ in regards to the addition of other flavors and ingredients, obviously.

French Toast stands out due to its inclusion of pecans and cinnamon, ingredients that hark back to the Sunday morning breakfast classic.

French toast is great, but sometimes bars just taste better!!
French toast is great, but sometimes bars just taste better!!

Apple pie is a breakfast food too, right?

Baked Apple Pie
Baked Apple Pie

No worries, if it’s in bar form, it is.

Baked Apple Pie on a plate.
Baked Apple Pie on a plate.

Funny thing is, this is EXACTLY the French toast bar with the addition of dried natural apples! Laugh out loud worthy :P!

Raw Cookie Dough was ultimately my favorite, even though it is a flavor that’s tossed around and around among food bar companies.

Raw Cookie Dough
Raw Cookie Dough

But how can you not love anything that has cookie dough in its name? And look at the marble-y chocolate swirls :D!

Cookie dough is the best :D.
Cookie dough is the best :D.

After consuming these three flavors, my initial excitement was beginning to wan. Chocolate Fudge Brownie was not too bad though:

Chocolate Fudge Brownie
Chocolate Fudge Brownie

It was softer than fudge, and easy to eat with a spoon even. Along with chocolate chips, there were pieces of walnuts included. I almost forgot to take a picture though, hence the picture mid-bite!

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Unwrapped
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Unwrapped

It does look more photogenic with the walnuts to the side though…

The last two flavors both have chocolate chip in their title: banana and peanut butter.

Banana Chocolate Chip
Banana Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Both bars look very similar to each other, and only differ in their aromas. The banana one obviously has the aroma of a ripe banana (not too appetizing for me, but fortunately the chocolate combination makes up for that), and the peanut butter one has more of a peanut flour aroma.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bar
Banana Chocolate Chip Bar
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

I know any of these bars would have tasted 10x better when nuked in the microwave.

Will I be substituting these over Quest Bars in the future? Probably not, since I can get a variety pack of Quest Bars for a cheaper price, but perhaps if I have a hankering for French Toast or Raw Cookie Dough, I’ll probably make an exception and splurge on a 12-pack of those individual flavors.

Have you tried Krave Natural Protein Bars?

What do you not mind splurging on?

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