Sunday, October 6, 2013

Crema Cafe and the Red Nectar

I absolutely adore Crema Cafe in Cambridge, MA.  I found the coffee shop while on vacation in Boston a few years ago.  I have since been back 3 times- I wished I lived closer because I would definitely make it a daily occurrence! It is the quintessential college coffee shop with great decor, plenty of tables to sit and study at, friendly servers, and a great menu.  Their coffee and tea drinks are phenomenal and they also have an extensive food menu with unique items catering to all diets, including vegan.
   While I am a die hard coffee drinker, my two favorite drinks on the menu are made with rooibos tea. If you want a hot drink - go with the Red Crema Latte which is made with rooibos tea, milk, honey, and cinnamon.

Here I am with my Red Crema Latte pretending I go to Harvard :)

If you are in the mood for something cold -  I would recommend the Red  Nectar, which is, a crisp combination of  rooibos tea and white cranberry juice!

Here is my empty glass of Red Nectar and a shot of the cafe! A perfect place to re-read the Bridget Jones series whole waiting for book 3!

I loved the Red Nectar so much - I recreated it at home, since you know- Boston is just a tad too far away :)

Crema's Red Nectar Iced Tea

Makes 4-6 large iced teas

8 rooibos tea bags ( I used Numi brand)
Boiling water
White cranberry juice ( white grape was yummy too!)

1) Open 8 tea bags and place in a large glass measuring cup

2. Boil 4 cups of water and pour over tea bags.

3.  Let steep for 6 minutes.  

4.  Remove tea bags and chill in the refrigerator until cold.

5.  Fill a large glass with ice cubes and then fill half the glass with the iced tea and half the glass with cold white cranberry juice.  Enjoy!

Next I'll have to try to make the Rooibos latte!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Famous Mercer Family Pickles


Popping in with my ALL-TIME favorite Christmas/Holiday recipe: sweet pickles!!!  My Nanie makes this for the holiday season each year and they are what makes it feel like the holidays for me!  She has been making them for as long as I can remember.  My mom makes them as well and I have begun to make them to hand out as gifts.  They are inexpensive to make, require only a little prep work in the kitchen and involve minimal dirty dishes, and no need to turn on the oven! 

Warning: These are super sweet, crispy, and super addicting!  Beware!

Mercer Family Pickles

1 large jar of kosher dill pickles
3 cups of sugar
apple cider vinegar

1) Drain and rinse pickles.  Slice pickles using a mandolin or a sharp knife into thin slices.   TIP: Beware of your fingers when using the mandolin as the guard will probably not work.  In 2009 I sliced off the end of my pinky finger :( Don't worry - I threw out that batch of pickles ;)

2) Place pickles back in the jar.  Line up your pickle army if making more than one jar - I made 8 this year!

3) Fill jar with 3 cups of sugar.

4)  Fill the rest of the jar with apple cider vinegar and put the lid back on.  If you are having trouble fitting all the sugar in, pour some of the vinegar in halfway through and then add the remainder of the sugar.  

5)  Place the jars on the counter and turn the jar over everyday for 10 days!  After ten days all that sugar will be absorbed and you will be left with a sweet crunchy pickle.  I then divide mine into mason jars for gift giving.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Allison

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Things I'm Loving Right Now


Wanted to pop in with some things I love right now.....

1) These cookies :

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Ambitious Kitchen

ANYTHING with sea salt and chocolate has my attention right now.
I made them for Milos and he went bezerk!

2)  Greek Yogurt - we go through TWO of these containers from Costco per week.

Today I added a spice blend from The Savory Spice Shop in the OC Mart Mix to some of it to make a healthful dip!

  I used sweet potato chips for dunking.  Its like a gourmet version of a childhood party favorite: Ruffles and Onion Dip

3) I saw the space shuttle fly over work on Friday!  It was REALLY cool!!!  Everyone was screaming like they were 8 years old - it was fun!

4)  Waffles and Beer - at Iron Press, Costa Mesa
5) CAPRIOTTI'S has their sign up!!!!  Soon you will see me daily at The District in Tustin since I will be on a Bobbie sandwich diet until my wedding! Haha!
Love, Allison

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Easy 4 Ingredient Enchiladas

Here is a easy dinner recipe I made for Serbian Easter - and a great dish to make tonight for Cinco de Mayo!

Chicken Enchiladas 
 Makes 12 Enchiladas - Serves 4
1 Rotisserie Chicken
12 Corn Tortillas
1 large can enchilada sauce of your choice
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

1) Disassemble chicken.  Take skin off of chicken breasts and shred meat.  Place in small bowl and mix with 1/2 cup enchilada sauce and 1 cup cheese.  This will be your filling.

 2)  Prep your baking dish by pouring some enchilada sauce in the bottom to cover.
3)  Microwave 6 tortillas at a time wrapped in a wet paper towel for 30 sec.  This will make them pliable enough to roll.
4)  Place some enchilada sauce in a pie plate, dip one tortilla in the sauce, add a handful of filling to the middle and roll up tortilla.

5)  Place rolled tortilla seam side down in your baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top.  Top with remaining cheese.  Add olives if you desire.

6)  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. 
7)  Serve with sour cream, shredded lettuce, and avocado.

I served these enchiladas with homemade black beans.  This was my first time making beans successfully from scratch.  I followed Ashley's directions on making beans in the crock-pot, here, but also added a bay leaf to the pot.  They were cooked well inside but lost all of their color - not sure what I did wrong, but I am going to continue to experiment.  I seasoned the beans with salt, pepper, and cumin (my all-time favorite spice). 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

All My Favorites: Banzai Bowls, Seabirds, and True Food Kitchen

Yesterday, I had the best Saturday!  I got to hang out with my favorite people and eat some of my favorite food in Orange County.  

The day started bright and early at Banzai Bowl in Laguna Beach.  The boyfriend and I enjoyed breakfast at the beach watching a ton of surfers, paddle boarders, and cute dogs.    

This is the Maui Sunrise Bowl from Banzai Bowl.  A Banzai Bowl is an Acai smoothie (along with other fruits) with fun, chunky toppers such as granola, bananas, and strawberries.  This is a SMALL size!  It is more than enough and costs around $6.95.  You can make substitutions as well and swap in almond milk, or add spinach to get some of your greens in for the day.  

This bowl was refreshing in the hot sun and started my day off in a healthy direction.  There are three locations of Banzai Bowl - Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, and Huntington Beach.  You should check them out! 

For lunch, my sister and I headed to Irvine's Great Park for the Artisan Food Festival.  The festival itself was a little smaller than I had imagined and was mostly either food trucks or booths representing restaurants.  They did have demonstrations but they were spread out over the afternoon.

What the festival did have was my favorite food truck in Orange County - Seabirds.  Seabirds is a vegan food truck which uses fresh local ingredients.  They often tweet that they just picked up certain vegetables from Tanaka Farms that morning and will incorporate them into their lunch menu.  

The best thing there is the jackfruit tacos.  Yes, I did say fruit tacos :)  They take jackfruit and slow cook it until it falls apart in a meaty texture.  It is then seasoned and added to dishes like these BBQ jackfruit tacos.  They were topped with cole slaw and housemade pickles!.  Check out their schedule here.  

After the food festival, my boyfriend and I headed to my favorite shopping mall - Fashion Island.  It was a beautiful day in Newport Beach to walk around and shop.  We had an early dinner on the patio at True Food Kitchen.  I had an amazing salad - the Farmer's Market Salad - which was a mix of kale and mint with asparagus, avocado, peas, artichokes, and manchego cheese, all in a champagne dressing.  I also split the Sundried Tomato and Olive Pizza with Milos.  This is my FAVORITE Pizza.  Its a thin crust pizza topped with pesto, sundried tomatoes, salty olives, and cheese.  Perfection!  Although True Food Kitchen started in Arizona, this restaurant is the embodiment of Southern California food and lifestyle. 

What could top an awesome food day like this - SPRINKLES CUPCAKES!
 I had a coupon for a free cupcake that expired soon - so we cashed it in on the way home.  Dark chocolate banana for me and coconut for him.  I was only going to eat half but..... I'm sure you know how that ended! 

Hope you get to enjoy some of your favorite foods this weekend!  And be sure to check out these great Orange County eateries!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Philz Mint Mojito Iced Coffee

My friends Marko and Sarah can officially move out of Berkeley because I now know how to replicate the BEST coffee drink I have ever had!

Philz Coffee's  Mint Mojito Iced Coffee has ALOT of fresh mint leaves and a really frothy creamy consistency.  Philz Coffee is known for their "one cup at a time" philosophy - they brew all their drinks one cup at a time and will custom blend a coffee to your preferences.  They have several locations around San Francisco and the South/East Bay.  Now they just need one in OC/LA.

While I patiently wait for my next trip to NorCal, I decided to make my own.

All you need is 3 ingredients:
 - Fresh Organic Mint
- 1/3 cup Cold Espresso
- 1/4 Natural Bliss Creamer in Sweet Cream flavor

Note : While Philz uses coffee, I like espresso, specifically Lavazza Rosa.  My boyfriend brews ALOT of it using a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker and then stores it in this handy jug.  Then I can just take some espresso, ice, and water to make an iced americano whenever I like!)

Note: Natural Bliss Creamer is an all natural creamer with the perfect proportions of cream to sugar.  It has no funny ingredients or hydrogenated oils like other creamers do!  

1)  Add approximately 10 mint leaves into the bottom of your cup.  Muddle them to release the flavor.
2)  Add 1/3 cup espresso
3)  Add 1/3 cup water and 1/4 cup natural bliss creamer.
4)  Enjoy with ice cubes and a straw :)

It tastes even better while working on your "apartment garden"

I think I need to plant mint now so that I have access to this drink 24/7!

EDITED TO NOTE:  I tried just making an iced americano (cold water and cold espresso) ans adding mint - it was incredible!!!  And has no calories or fat!  :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trisha Yearwood's Brownies with Coconut Frosting


  Life Tip:  Do not watch Trisha Yearwood's Southern Kitchen at 8:00 am because you will be thinking of these brownies ALL day long and then have to make them ASAP. 

While I do love country music, I am not particularly a Trisha Yearwood fan, but I did enjoy her show.  Plus, her Brownies with Coconut Frosting were divine.  Its an old fashioned recipe with a cooked frosting - reminds me of something my Nanie would make. 

 Milos and I are on a coconut kick lately, so I thought these would be fun to try.  They are NOT healthy for you - but I made a few substitutions to rationalize making them :)
    The recipe from Food Network is here , but I.....
                    1)Used Earthbalance soy-free vegan spread instead of butter in the frosting and brownies
                    2)Used whole wheat pastry flour in the brownies

Substitutions didn't seem to affect the recipe/taste!

Since I was at Whole Foods getting yet another tub of Earthbalance :)   I got the ingredients to make Angela's Salt and Vinegar Chickpeas!  I have been dying to make these for ages and they were better than I imagined :)  Recipe here.

I had quite the smell combination in my house this afternoon between chocolate and vinegar! 

While I was in the kitchen, I hardboiled some eggs to color tonight with Milos for Orthodox Easter :) 
The good thing about Othodox Easter is that all Easter related products are discounted 70% off at Target since it was the week after this year. 

I did all of this while I sipped my fav flavor of kombucha (Guava!) and listened to the "Mandy Moore" station on Pandora.  Look what popped up!

 I miss the old Jesssica Simpson - I wanted to be just like her - married to Nick Lachey and everthing!