Friday, May 31, 2013

Ojai Hippie Granola Bars

This morning, for whatever reason, I recalled a phone conversation I had with a friend during college.  I had chosen to stay in California, and she had opted to attend the University of Montana.
As sad as I was to see her leave, I knew that Montana was a beautiful state full of mountains, and rivers, and...granola eaters?
During one of the first chats we had with each other after going our separate ways, I asked her how she liked Missoula, her college town. She responded promptly, saying, "I like it a lot, but you would love it, Eileen. It's just like Ojai; there are tons of hiking trails, the wilderness is gorgeous, the locals are very "granola eater-ish."
Until that moment, I hadn't really thought about my hometown as being unusually health conscious, or hippie-ish, but the more I looked at it with an outsider's perspective, I realized that it really is! I'm going to miss this little town a lot when I leave for the east coast.

So, this recipe is an ode to my Ojai roots, nuts and all!

You will need:

2 cups oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup shredded coconut
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt (not necessary if using salted butter)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

First, pre-heat oven to 375.  Prepare a lipped baking sheet by both greasing it with butter and lining it with parchment paper (granola gets really sticky!). Place oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, and coconut on a different baking sheet and spread as thinly as possible for balanced toasting of ingredients.  Place tray in oven. Once items are all golden brown in color (it took mine about 14 minutes), remove from oven, lower heat to 300 degrees and pour into a medium sized mixing bowl.

Next, place butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a sauce pan.

  Once mixture has boiled, remove from stove top, and pour liquid over toasted oat mixture.

You can go ahead and toss in the dried fruit at this point.

Mix everything together.

Plop the whole granola blend onto the lined baking sheet and flatten it out into a square.

Now it's ready for the oven!  Bake for about 30 minutes.

Once removed, let granola sit and solidify for about 2 hours so you'll be able to cut it into bars without having it fall apart. 

I played around with shapes a little, but eventually found that squares worked best!


Adacpted from Ina Garten's recipe, found here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rag to Riches

Seeing as the temperature here is soaring close to 100 degrees daily, the angel on my shoulder had a terrible battle with the devil on my shoulder over the decision to purchase a new Rag & Bone sweater.
The devil won.
I came home with what I'm sure will be a wardrobe essential once fall rolls adorable stripey, colorful sweater that goes with everything!

Because my new purchase will most likely be boxed away for a few months (I hear New York summers are less than friendly to wool), I wanted to take it out for a quick test run today.

This is what happened:

Post heel in gopher-hole debacle...

Sweater: Rag & Bone (similar here and here)
Denim: Zara (similar)
Shoes: Via Spiga

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dijon & Vinegar Avocados

Avocados are a dietary staple for Californians.  Their rich and creamy texture enhances any dish, and I've even seen multiple recipes that allow for replacing dairy with avocados (Rosie, I'm talking to you!).

I read somewhere that European sailors used avocados in place of butter during their maritime quest for the Americas.  Who could blame them?  The sad news is, if they had been lucky enough to have Dijon mustard and vinegar aboard, they could have made these goodies.

Kudos for this recipe actually go to my brother-in-law.  I was visiting my sister in Washington, DC last Summer, and as we sat around watching the Olympics, a commercial break offered us the 5 minutes we needed to create (what is now) my favorite go-to snack. Quick, easy, nutritious, and delicioso!

You will need:

1 ripe avocado
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard

First, slice and pit your green goddess.

Next, slice the pitted avocado halves into small squares, which will allow the vinegar to really soak in to the meat of the avocado.

Pour 1/2 tsp. of vinegar into the pitted avocado halves, and make sure it is dispersed evenly.

Once the vinegar has had about a minute to sit, put 1/2 tsp. of dijon into each avocado and spread evenly with a spoon.

Now, this is the part where cutting the avocado into bite-size squares comes in handy...

Allows for efficient and enjoyable noshing, of course!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I realize I'm a little late on the uptake for this one, but I've just discovered a designer that is going to be my summer wardrobe inspiration.  As I was browsing the web the other day, I came across Poustovit's Fall/Winter collection and it is gorgeous.  And then I saw Spring/Summer, which really took my breath away.

According to Poustovit, "romantic conceptualism with ethnic background is a strategic direction of the brand," which I totally get from this collection. It has a sort of bohemian elegance that is so attractive, the use of textiles is exquisite, and the color palette is divine.  Poustovit designs for a very specific type of woman, one who is:  "Charismatic. Tranquil and harmonious. Natural in her ambivalence. Looks harmoniously in any environment. Trendsetter. Doesn’t look back at others. Creates her unique style."  I like it.

Have a look:

All about the drop-waist silhouette right now...and that material...and the shoes.

Really dig these shorts. Perfect for muggy New York Summer weather, eh?

This pattern reminds me of a kaleidoscope. Isn't it absolutely lovely?

This look is my favorite.  Have a feeling the blouse would be killer as a dress as well.

Wow.  Get in my closet, please!

*All photos from Poustovit website

Monday, May 27, 2013

Little Girl in the Big Apple

I have some exciting news to share!  I have recently decided to move to New York City for the summer.
NYC is a great place, and after all of the years visiting it, I can't believe I will actually be a New Yorker myself. 
So, I will keep you updated as I begin my moving process.  Anyone have any fabulous packing tips?
I love this mantra, and try to think about it every time I've got to tackle a hard decision. And of course, New York City is glittering in the background, which is so perfect!
Also, I will definitely be needing restaurant and city tips from New Yorkers who know what they're doing!  Please share your wealth of knowledge with me! 

*photo from tumblr

Friday, May 24, 2013

Salted Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am about to give you some very dangerous information. This information will almost definitely make you feel anxious, excited, desperate, and hungry all at once.  How does one cope with all of these emotions at the same time?  I can tell you now, it's not going to be pretty, and you will feel drawn to act upon these emotions immediately.
Ready for it?  Here it is: I have discovered the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world. I know.  Unbelievable, but it's true.
Salted, chewy, chocolatey sustenance. 
Aaand it's begun.  I can sense your anxious/excited/desperate/hungry emotions starting to kick in.

I have good news.  We can work through this together.  I am tempted to proclaim this recipe's greatness from the rooftops, but I won't.  I'll do the next best thing, which is to tell you baking wizards how to make them.
See?  Not all is lost!

You will need:

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. warm water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Himalayan salt (sea salt works too!)

First, if you're using raw walnuts (like I did), chop them into smaller pieces, and place on a baking sheet.

Set oven to around 350 to toast the walnuts.  Keep them in for about 8 minutes, but check on them frequently so they don't burn.  Pull them out when they look dark golden and crispy.  Leave oven on, because the cookies will also be baked at 350.

Next, place granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.

Melt entire stick of butter in a saucepan on the stove top.

Allow it to simmer until it becomes dark brown in color.

Once the butter is browned and melted, pour it into the sugar mixture, and mix together.

Next, mix warm water and baking soda in a small bowl.

Pour baking soda mixture into batter.

Add egg, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, and flour to large bowl one at a time.  Stir mixture lightly between each addition.

Finally, add remaining chocolate chips and toasted walnuts to cookie dough. Make sure you mix it well so you get a little bit of everything in each bite.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and place tablespoon-sized drops of cookie dough on sheets.  These cookies do spread a little, so give them room to breathe.

Bake for 9-12 minutes.  They will deflate and get a little crackly once you remove them from the oven.

Wait for it...

Yes, please!

Crack a little Himalayan salt on top when cookies are still warm out of the oven.

Take the time for a silly photo opp (but not too much time), and enjoy!