Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Baked Apple Crisp Oatmeal


Oatmeal is without a doubt my favorite breakfast...and lunch...and dinner.  I could happily live off of a purely oatmeal-based diet, and I may or may not have tried to do exactly that once or twice. The thing about oatmeal, though, is that it has a bit of a reputation for being bland and boring. I guess if you're just eating the stuff by itself that's understandable, but why would you? Oatmeal is the perfect foundation for a multitude of fun, flavorful dishes, and this baked apple crisp version proves it. Sweet like an apple pie and enveloped with all the comfort of tradition, this is the perfect way to start your day if you've got a little extra time in the morning.  Or you could be like me and make it for dinner. That works, too.

Ingredients
makes one serving

1/4 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 of an apple
1/2 of a banana
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp vegan butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Once your oven is turned on, pour the milk and water into a saucepan and heat on medium until mixture simmers.  Stir in the steel cut oats, lowering heat and let simmer.  Next, cut a quarter of the apple into bite sized chunks and add into simmering oats. Note: I suggest prepping the apple beforehand because you want it to cook as long as possible. Also add into the oats half of a banana, mashing into the mixture.  Let the oats simmer for a total of 15 to 20 minutes (this may take longer if you double the recipe). While the oatmeal cooks, process the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter in a blender or food processor to create the crumble topping.  Once the oats are fully cooked, serve in an oven-safe bowl and sprinkle a layer of the crumble on top. Bake for 20 minutes.  Lastly, garnish with a few apple slices, let cool, and enjoy! Note: leftover crumble can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week!

You can this recipe being made (and more) on MissGlamorazzi's YouTube channel

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

#GIRLBOSS

"A #GIRLBOSS takes her life seriously without taking herself too seriously.  She takes chances and takes responsibility on her own terms.  She knows when to throw punches and when to roll with them. When to button up and when to let her freak flag fly...I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don't ever grow up.  Don't become a bore.  Don't let the Man get to you. Okay? Cool. Then let's do this."



Here is a book that has been making its way through female-centric book clubs like red wine and gossip.  An odd mix of memoir and business advice, #GIRLBOSS is an inspiring story that encourages women to challenge society's stereotypes and be unapologetically themselves.  With that said, this definitely wasn't the feminist manifesto that I had anticipated.  While surely geared toward young girls and 20something women, Sophia's story and philosophy reads much more "entrepenuer power!" than "girl power!" and that's just fine by me.  

Though I truly enjoyed this book and read it quickly, I will admit that I found some parts to be a little self-righteous and contradictory.  For example, as a person who is all about "sticking it to the Man" and once lived her life as a shoplifter, I wish Sophia had delved deeper into her mindset while she was making deals with investors and incorporating more traditional business practices into her company.  But that's just a minor criticism.  For the most part, I really enjoyed Sophia's refreshing style of writing, and there were a lot of great stand-out moments throughout the book. It'd be hard to write them all down without simply typing out a manuscript of the book in its entirety, so I'll leave you with just a few of my favorites:
  • "The energy you'll expend focusing on someone else's life is better spent working on your own.  Just be your own idol."
  • "One of the best things about life - a reason not to go blindly after one goal and one goal only - is that sometimes it will take you to something that is way cooler than anything you would have consciously set out to do in the first place."
  • "It's cool to be kind.  It's cool to be weird.  It's cool to be honest and to be secure with yourself.  Cool is the girl at the party who strikes up a conversation with you when she notices you don't don't seem to know many people there."
  • "For a long time women wore only dresses and spent hours on their hair because that is what society mandated.  But now we don't have to do it -- we get to do it.  Being a girl is fun."
...I especially like that last one.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Macaroni and Cheese-less


For years my mom and I joked that I have the palette of a four year old because up until the point that I left for college, my diet consisted mainly of chicken nuggets, hotdogs, pizza, and mac & cheese. Not much has changed in that those all remain my favorite foods, but I've grown and matured and developed a taste for a more healthful style of eating.  But mac & cheese, man.  I need my weekly dose of mac & cheese, otherwise life just isn't worth living.  And I'm a mac & cheese purist.  I've tried every healthy alternative there is, but nothing can quite compete with a traditional serving of macaroni with heaping amounts of cheeses.  Until today.

When I saw Ingrid Nilsen's video on cheese-less mac & cheese, I was intrigued.  I was also skeptical. Nutritional yeast doesn't sound all that appetizing, but I'll try anything once...and it turned out to be quite good.  I didn't get it perfect the first time (the sauce was a tad bit mustard heavy), but I'm willing to keep experimenting with this recipe until I get it right.  And you can bet that I'll be enjoying plentiful amounts of macaroni until then.

Ingredients

8 to 12 oz. of gluten-free brown rice noodles (macaroni is preferred, but my store only had penne)
1 clove of garlic
1-1/2 cups of raw cashews
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (this gives it the cheesiness flavor)
3/4 cup of water
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp chili powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of tumeric
**optional: you can add a little almond milk to thin the sauce if it becomes too thick

Directions

Begin by cooking the brown rice noodles in a pot of boiling water, al dente style.  While the noodles cook, mix together all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender that can process nuts. When the noodles are fully cooked, drain and then return to the pot.  Pour the sauce over the noodles, and mix until evenly distributed throughout the pasta.  Finally, plate and serve!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Vegetarian White Chili


It's been a frigid, snowy last few weeks here in Indiana, but thanks to tonight's dinner, I am feeling warm to the bone.  Chili has always been one of my favorite comfort foods, but it's become a winter staple ever since I discovered the healthier vegetarian alternatives.  I also love the fact that it only requires a little bit of time for the prepwork, then I can throw everything into the slow cooker and call it a day. Who doesn't love coming home from class or work and having dinner right there waiting for you? It's the little things...

Ingredients

2 medium poblano peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
3/4 cup quinoa, washed and drained
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp sea salt
Optional toppings: lime wedge, Greek yogurt, freshly grated Monterey jack cheese

Directions

Begin by roasting your poblano peppers.  Note: This is the most difficult step, and as a novice to cooking I still haven't perfected it.  However, I found this video extremely helpful as I'm more of a visual learner than follow-the-directions kind of girl.  While the poblano peppers are roasting and then sweating/cooling, heat the diced onion and green pepper in a medium saute pan with one tablespoon of olive oil until tender (approx. 5 minutes).  Then, add the garlic and spices to the pan, cooking for an additional minute.  Add a cup of broth to the pan, making sure all the flavor is stirred into the mixture.  Next, carefully pour the wet mixture into your slow cooker, along with the beans, quinoa, and remaining vegetable broth.  Now, peel the skins off the cooled poblano peppers and finely dice them before stirring into the chili.  Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 3 to 4 hours until quinoa is tender and chili has thickened.  Note: If you are at home while the chili is cooking, I suggest stirring every hour to two hours to prevent the quinoa from settling on the bottom and burning.  Scoop the chili into your bowl, squeeze a wedge of lime juice on top, and garnish with your favorite toppings...Enjoy!

Recipe originally found here on The Potluck

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Art of the Conversation Starter


There have been a lot of situations I've had to adapt to since entering my twenties, and one aspect of this stage of life that I went into feeling completely unprepared for was networking. Everyone has heard the adage "it's all about who you know," and the only way to get to know someone is through networking and having a conversation.  And the conversation is key.  Can you imagine being the president or CEO of a company and being bombarded with "Hi! Are you hiring?" or "My name is _____.  I want to work for you!" everytime you walked into a room?  The idea is to leave a memorable impression with people, not exhaust them.

Now, if you're a confident, outgoing individual that thrives in social situations, networking might come pretty easy to you.  If you're like me and have had to overcome debilitating shyness throughout your life, then going up to a stranger and introducing yourself sounds like the equivalent of waterboarding.  For me, personally, the introduction is always the most difficult part. I feel insecure and awkward and I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing, but that all fades away as soon as I start talking (it helps if I'm passionate about what I'm talking about, too).  As networking has become more of a frequent event in my life these last few years, I've developed and learned a few techniques for inviting organic conversation into the networking situation, and when done correctly, they can lead to some pretty cool stories and opportunity.

1. Wear a statement piece

You may look polished and professional, but it's going to be hard to stand out in a crowd if you're just wearing black pants and a basic blouse.  Now, I'm all for a wardrobe of classic staple pieces, but that's because it sets the foundation for bold accessories.  A loud statement necklace, a fierce pair of shoes, a great handbag...these can all be conversation starters.  And men need not feel excluded because the world of patterned socks, colorful neckties, and power watches is at your disposal.  I'm telling you from experience, the statement piece to your outfit is a proven method for conversation.

When I attended ICFF in New York City a couple summers ago, I walked in to the Javits Convention Center with complete tunnel vision.  I had heard that Jonathan Adler was going to be there, and it was my mission to find him.  I was going to breathe the same air as Jonathan Adler. Now, I'm not sure if you've ever been in Javits or ICFF itself, but it's a big place.  There were over 500 booths, and I had walked what felt like hours with no reward.  Well, that's not completely true.  The show was amazing and mind-blowing, but I was on a mission.  And then something amazing happened.  A man tapped me on the shoulder (I may or may not have hugged my purse closer to my body...this was NYC afterall), and when I turned around I saw that he was slightly out of breath.  Clearly this stranger had chased me down, so naturally I assumed I had dropped something and he was kindly trying to return it to my possession.  But no.  Instead, the man said to me, "I'm sorry, miss, but I just have to know where your necklace is from!"

To this day I still question why a man was so interested in my jewelry, but it ended up being the catalyst for a great conversation.  I told him where I got the necklace, the story behind getting it, and he found it all interesting enough that he invited me back to his booth to talk about his latest furniture collection and the design process behind each piece.  That booth turned out to be Jonathan Adler.  I never got to meet Jonathan himself (turns out he was actually out of the country), but I was talking to and learning from his right hand man...and isn't that just the next best thing?  I got inside information into the mind of Jonathan Adler, and I was even let privy to some hilarious office gossip.  It was an experience that I will never forget. And to think...it all started with a necklace.

2. Make the introduction seem like an accident

Just like Elle Woods has the bend and snap, you can have your secret weapon for getting someone's attention, too.  I was recently at an event where a designer (Kia Weatherspoon from Determined by Design) gave the keynote speech, and she shared some of her favorite conversation starters.  One technique of hers that I loved was to purposefully wear your name tag upside down.  Chances are that someone is going to come to you and say, "Oh, did you know that your badge is upside down?" and you can respond, "Oh my gosh, thank you for letting me know!  By the way, my name is..." and then you introduce yourself and go in for the handshake. It's genius.

3. Have a signature something

This is a lot like wearing a statement piece, but having a signature something can be really important in starting a conversation and getting people to remember you.  Whether you always go to events wearing a bright color or have a signature hairstyle, that can be the thing that sticks in someone's mind and has them coming back for more when they run into you again.  For me, it's my name.  Even before I knew the significance of having a signature, I would introduce myself saying, "Hi, I'm Krystal.  That's Krystal with a K." It's so simple, but it really sticks with people.  I can't tell you the number of times I've been stopped by someone and heard, "Well, if it isn't Krystal with a K!"  It's hard to pinpoint when, but at some point in time it stopped being an introduction, and just became another part of who I am.  So much so that I even named this blog after it.

4. Use social media to your benefit

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn...these social media platforms were created so you could connect with people and do it from the comfort of being behind a computer screen.  Remember that necklace that got the attention of the designer from Jonathan Adler?  I had actually received it as a gift from the jewelry designers at Towne & Reese after I tweeted them a picture of my final studio project, which had been inspired by their product.  And that event I recently went to and heard Kia Weatherspoon speak at?  I didn't get to meet her in person like the rest of my friends because I was held up in my portfolio review, so I PhotoShopped a picture of us together and posted that on Instagram.  Kia saw it, loved it, and reposted it on all her social media channels. She thought it was funny and memorable and not creepy at all (something I had feared), and she even offered to schedule a Skype session with me (oh my god, would this work with Beyonce?!)  The point is, social media works.  You just have to know how to use it and use it wisely.

Everytime you like, comment, subscribe and follow, you are telling that person that you are interested in them.  And who knows, they may be watching and have an interest in you as well. That's why it's so important to keep your profiles public: you don't want your first impression with a person to say that you've got something to hide.  And if a company is large enough, chances are that they are going to use the Wayback Machine or similar software to screen their employees...so they are going to see everything you ever hid or deleted anyway.  Moral of the story here?  If you don't want Grandma or your boss to to see it, don't post it.  Is that really so hard?

5. Do your research

This is my last tip, but one of the most important.  Anyone can tell a business owner or executive that they enjoy that person's work, but what exactly is it that you like?  Doing your research and proving that you were interested enough in someone to do a Google search and learn a little bit about them really says a lot, and it can open the door for great conversation and questions.  Plus, the longer that a person talks to you, the more memorable you're going to be at the end of the night.  A conversation starter is no good if you don't actually have the following conversation to back it up.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Raspberry Rose Pudding



Valentine's Day is synonymous with boring boxes of chocolate and cliché bouquets of roses. While some people may find those things lovely, I am just not one of those people.  I like to celebrate with things that are a little more outside of the box and thoughtful.  That's why when I found a recipe for raspberry rose pudding, I was immediately intrigued and got to cooking.

In a world full of truffles, brownies, and cake decorating, it seems as though pudding has become a bit of a lost art in the baking industry.  The lack of pudding popularity is actually quite curious, considering that it's innately gluten-free and when created from a purée (like this one is) it can easily become dairy-free as well.  These traits can be hard to come by in the traditional dessert market, so it seems funny that pudding hasn't quite found it's place amongst one of the many growing food trends. 

My favorite part about this homemade pudding, aside from it's tangy flavor and creamy texture, was the fun I had while dressing it up to photograph.  Serving the dessert in heart-shaped marbled chocolate cups helped give a little Valentine's Day spirit to the dish, while a dollop of whipped cream and some shaved chocolate added a hint of sweetness.  The end result is a unique, delicious dessert that will leave you begging for more.

Ingredients

1/8 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 large egg yolk
12 oz. fresh red raspberries
3/8 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon rosewater
whipped cream, to serve (optional)
white chocolate, to serve (optional)

Directions

Whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small to medium-sized bowl, slowly pouring in the cup of water.  Continue to whisk until smooth, adding in the egg yolk.  Purée the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender until liquified.  Pour the purée mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a 3 qt. saucepan, using a spoon to press as much liquid as possible out of the raspberry pulp.  Heat the purée mixture on high to bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Turn off the heat, and whisk about half of the hot raspberry mixture into the bowl of cornstach and egg yolk.  Pour this slowly back into the pan, whisking vigorously while doing so.  Turn the heat back on to medium, bringing the pudding to a full boil.  Let it simmer for 2 minutes, whisking frequently. Turn off the heat and whisk in rosewater.  Immediately pour the pudding into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerator for 2 hours or until completely cold.  Serve with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Adapted from The Kitchn dessert recipe.

Valentine's Inspired Beauty Treatments



Valentine's Day is coming to a close and chances are that you are going to have some red roses and strawberries lying around for some time afterward.  So before you let those flowers die their eventual death or find strawberries going bad in your fridge, why not recycle them and pamper yourself in the process? Here are three homemade beauty treatments that will have you asking for roses and strawberries all year long:

Strawberries and Cream Face Mask

Mash 4 strawberries with a fork and mix with heavy cream and a dollop of honey.  Heavy cream provides great hydration for dry skin, but you can substitute with sour cream (for normal skin) or plain greek yogurt (for sensitive, acne-prone skin).  Generously apply the mixture to the face while avoiding the eye area, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing clean.  The natural salicylic acid, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy acids in the strawberries make this a great mask for clearing up your skin and lightening hyperpigmentation, but they can also be substituted with red raspberries if you have a strawberry allergy.  Note: You can store any leftover face mask in the fridge for up to a week!

Coconut and Rose Hair Oil

Begin by adding a cup of fresh red rose petals to a pot and cover with about an inch of water. Cover the pot and gradually simmer on low heat until the rose petals lose their color (approximately 15 minutes).  Once complete, melt 1/2 a cup of coconut oil in a separate pot, then add 2 tablespoons of the rose water and 1/2 a cup of fresh red rose petals (about one rose worth). Bring the mixture to a low boil, and let it simmer for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let it cool before straining through a coffee filter.  Apply the oil to dry hair and your scalp, letting it sit for 20 minutes - I recommend wrapping your hair in a gentle towel or using a shower cap - before shampooing out.  Note: Be sure to use organic or hand-picked roses to avoid applying a warm bath of pesticides to your hair!

Strawberry Sugar Body Scrub

Mash 7 to 10 strawberries with a fork and combine with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, and as much granulated sugar needed to create a gritty mixture.  Apply to your entire body using small circular motions, and rinse off in the shower.  The oils will help moisturize while the strawberries exfoliate, and the sugar will help shed dead skin cells.  You'll be left with unbelievably soft and glowing skin afterward.  As a person that suffers from moderate to severe eczema, this is a personal favorite!  Note: This is a sticky and messy one, so you should probably stand in the shower the entire time you're applying the scrub!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Valentine's Day, and let me know if you try any of these treatments (and how they turned out) in a comment below!

Watch YouTube beauty guru, Allthatglitters21, make each recipe here.  Also be sure to check out her blogs Dreaming in Blush and I Heart You Coffee for more beauty and lifestyle fun.