Brie, Tomato & Basil Pasta

On hot summer days when I’m feeling lethargic and unmotivated, I just want a meal that can be made quickly. And you know, one that is also delicious and not filled with fast-food preservatives and grease – it’s a tall order, I know. Enter, this simple but sumptuous Mediterranean pasta. With chunks of gooey Brie and aromatic sundried tomatoes and basil, it takes fifteen minutes to make but tastes like something you’d eat with delicate silverware over a white linen tablecloth. It’s also incredibly easy. Seriously, if you can boil water and have opposable thumbs to tear cheese, you can whip this dish up without a problem! Here’s how it’s done.

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 Wheel of Brie
  • 1 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 2 Chopped Fresh Tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp Fresh Chopped Basil 
  • 1 Package of Pasta (Choose whole wheat variations for extra fiber.)
  • Olive Oil (Use enough to lightly coat all of the pasta.)
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder 
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

DIRECTIONS

1 // Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the package (usually for around 10 minutes). Drain the pasta.

2 // Drizzle olive oil over cooked pasta and toss until all of the noodles are lightly coated. Add the butter and toss the pasta further.

3 // While the pasta is still super hot, tear up Brie into small pieces and add it to the pasta. Stir the pasta so that the melted cheese is dispersed throughout.

4 // Add the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to the pasta. Toss in the sundried tomatoes and basil. 

5 // Garnish the pasta with a little extra chopped basil to make it pretty!

This is one of the easiest (and most delicious) pastas ever. It tastes equally yummy cold as it does hot and the flavours seem to intensify when you reheat and eat it the next day. You can also customize this recipe with any other add-one you want – for example, my boyfriend loves it with chopped up bacon bits. If you’re feeling like having a lazy evening but don’t want another meal that comes in a take-out box, this quick and tasty dish is absolutely perfect. You can also eat it cold as a pasta salad for a light summer’s day dinner.

What’s your favorite lazy day recipe? 

xoxo,

Alicia

Cheap & Easy | Protein-Packed Vegetable ‘Noodle’ Stir-fry

As a student, there are times when I have to cut my grocery bill way, way down in order to afford life. When I can’t afford to splurge on the more exotic items I want (hello Coconut Bliss Naked Coconut Ice Cream and bubbly wine), I have a couple of go-to recipes that I turn to throughout the week to make sure that I’m not, quite literally, eating through my money. One delightful perk of my new-found vegetarianism is how cheap my meals can be if I just focus on whole foods. When you’re buying nothing but fresh produce and canned lentils, you can watch your grocery bills go from $60+ to quite often less than $30 in the blink of an eye. Still, no one wants to eat nothing but plain, raw veggies all day, so a little creativity is needed to transform them into delicious and nutritious meals that will leave you totally full for hours, while still craving seconds because it’s just that tasty. This particular recipe is chock full of satiating protein which will leave you satisfied until your next meal – without the bloat that comes from gulping down a steak. It’s also delicious, free of refined carbs and can be whipped up in 20 minutes. Read on to find out how to make this plant-based plate of heaven.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 2 Large Zucchinis
  • 1/2 Can Beans (I love chickpeas, pinto beans, and black beans the most but the choice is yours!)
  • 1 Cup Extra Firm Tofu (chopped into cubes)
  • 1/2 Cup Tempeh (chopped)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Slices Vegan Cheese
  • * 1 tbsp Peanut Butter (or almond/cashew butter)
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder 
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • Chili Powder (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/3 Cup Soya Sauce 
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil

DIRECTIONS
1 // Wash and peel the carrot and zucchini. Use a spiralizer (follow the directions depending on which model you have) to cut both vegetables into long, noodle-like strands. Set aside.

2 // Grease a skillet with a little bit of coconut or olive oil and add the vegetable ‘noodles’. Cook on medium heat.

3 // Rinse your beans or lentils and add them to your noodles along with all of your chosen spices. The spices I have listed here are my favorite, but feel free to get creative with flavours of your choice – for example, curry, turmeric, cayenne etc. Toss the ingredients and turn the heat slightly down.

4 // Add the diced tomato, tofu and tempeh to the stir-fry, along with the soya sauce and sesame oil. Stir all of the ingredients together. 

5 // At this point there will be a lot of liquid in your stir-fry because all of the moisture will be cooking out of the vegetable noodles and tomato. One way to thicken it up is to add a bit of peanut butter (or any nut butter). This will also give the dish extra protein and enhance the Asian-inspired flavours. It’s totally optional but I really enjoy the creamy consistency and rich, nutty flavour it gives the stir-fry.

6 // Continue to simmer the mixture on low-heat until all of the extra juices have been reduced. Feel free to add some vegan cheese for a little extra flavour and creaminess! 

7 // Serve on its own or with some brown rice or quinoa for even more bite and protein. This dish is extremely filling (contrary to the popular belief that vegetarian and vegan meals leave you feeling hungry) and this recipe makes enough for two or three portions. Again, this recipe is totally customizable depending on your tastes. Swap out the spices and vegetables for your favorites. Don’t like carrots? Spiralize sweet potato or parsnips instead! Not a fan of tofu? Add some seitan and cut up portobello mushrooms! 

I have really enjoyed cooking vegetarian meals and I find that because they do not have meat, the extra effort and creativity that goes into creating these dishes makes them even more delicious then some of the carnivorous meals I enjoyed in the past. It’s also nice not feeling bloated or lethargic after every meal! Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a vegetarian or vegan, keeping at least some of your meals completely plant-based throughout the week will have a powerfully positive effect on your health – as well as your cooking prowess! 

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! Also, as always, I’m always snooping around for new veggie recipes, so please give me a shout my herbivore friends! 

xoxo,

Alicia

t-me-do-ice-cream

Designer Spotlight | Eat Me Do

Foodies, rejoice! This Aussie line of quirky clothes celebrates all things delicious, with each collection centering around, you guessed it, food. Designer Lara Ivachev first launched her brand in June of 2012, with the goal of creating a line of clothing that was unabashedly playful and eccentric. Discarding the idea that clothing should be classic and understated, Lara believes getting dressed should be as fun as it was when we were children playing dress up in our mother’s clothes. Flashy prints, loud, in-your-face colours, and pop-art inspired motifs are this brand’s mainstays, along with accessories and jewelry modeled after your favorite childhood snacks. Just a warning, the gummy bear, and sour worm earrings look so much like the real thing, you’ll have to remind yourself not to eat them! With each collection, Lara manages to connect the dots between food and fashion. This concept feels SO right now, with many popular Instagram feeds showcasing food photographs that are as meticulously and creatively styled as Vogue editorial spreads. In today’s social media-driven age, you will be hard pressed to find a restaurant where someone isn’t taking multiple shots of their meal before they allow themselves to indulge. Eat Me Do takes this concept of food as an accessory and runs with it, creating mouthwatering confections that combine avante garde style with a culturally aware sense of humor. From fashion to food, this lighthearted brand ties these two worlds together, celebrating above all, pleasure, beauty, and fun. Tasty.

lara-ivachev

Designer Lara Ivachev.

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EAT ME DO PICKS

1 // Rainbow Breakfast Skirt

2 // Sunny Side Up Dress

3 // Baked Bean Clutch

4 // Sour Worm Earring

5 // Tiny Teddy Brooch

6 // Ice Scream Dress

7 // Mini Gummy Bear Earrings

8 // Krilling It! Clutch

xoxo,

Alicia

healthy-snacks

My Favorite Healthy Snacks 

I wholeheartedly believe in eating healthy as consistently as possible (with a little room for my favorite indulgences – dirty martinis, pineapple and olive pizza, and cheese plates) and that treating one’s body right benefits every aspect of a person’s life. Since it’s the start of the new year, I feel even more motivated to keep my diet clean and work out more than I used to. While I mainly keep my meals healthy, I have found that one of the biggest diet-busting culprits is snacking. It’s easy to overindulge on decadent treats like chocolate, ice cream, and chips but it’s also easy to over do it on seemingly healthy nibbles like cheese and crackers and even nuts. That being said, snacking can (and should) be a part of a healthy diet, as long as it is done right with nutrient dense, low-calorie options. With this in mind, I have rounded up 7 of my favorite guilt-free snacks.

1 // Dried Seaweed

I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth and I can easily pass on the rich, calorie-laden desserts that make most other people weak in the knees. However, if you put a plate of cheesy nachos or salty fries in front of me, it’s game over. Dried seaweed manages to curb my salt craving without making me forego my healthy diet. It’s crispy, savory, and just as addicting as a pack of chips but with a small fraction of the calories. Rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, and vitamin A, B, and C, dried seaweed packs a serious nutritional punch.

2 // Goji Berries

I decided to give goji berries a try after reading an interview with Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr in which she deemed the tart red superfood one of her go-to beautifying snacks. While no amount of antioxidant-rich berries will transform me into a Victoria Secret angel, I was intrigued to try them and see if they a) would make my skin glow and my hair bouncy and b) if they actually taste good. Well, guess what? They are actually pretty tasty, they keep me sated in between meals, and since I’ve started eating them regularly I do notice a healthier glow to my skin (but maybe that’s just wishful thinking). They are a bit tart, like dried cranberries but a little bit sweeter. Plus they are chock full of antioxidants, fiber, and beta-carotene. I keep this low-calorie, nutrient-high snack in my purse to nosh on at work and when I’m feeling a bit peckish.

3 // Popcorn with Olive Oil & Sea Salt

I’m obsessed with popcorn and it’s my favorite movie-time snack. It’s also surprisingly healthy – so long as you pop it yourself, either with an old-fashioned air popper or a healthy oil like coconut or olive oil. It’s low in calories (1 cup of air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories) and actually has a ton of antioxidants. I choose to skip the artery-clogging butter and instead drizzle mine with olive oil and add a sprinkle a bit of sea salt for an added dose of healthy fats and flavor.

4 // Edamame

My boyfriend loves edamame and is the one who got me hooked on them. Edamame has become a trendy food and its stellar reputation is well deserved. Edamame is a young soybean which has been harvested before it has had a chance to harden. These delightful green gems are low in calories, high in protein, and are packed with vitamins, protein, magnesium, and iron. They are also naturally free of cholesterol and gluten. I also love them because they are delicious and super easy to prepare. Simply steam them on the stove or pop them in the microwave in a bowl with a bit of water. They are delicious on their own but are even tastier with a bit of salt and cayenne pepper.

5 // Frozen Fruit

When I’m craving ice cream but don’t want to splurge, a bowl full of frozen fruit totally hits the spot. Sometimes I’ll blend the fruit in my food processor for a sorbet-like treat that feels like an indulgence but is completely healthy and free of added sugar. Pro-tip: if you are feeling creative, blend a couple of frozen bananas with a couple of spoonfuls of cocoa powder. Voila! Chocolate ‘ice cream’ that is full of vitamins and totally guilt-free.

6 // Plain Yogurt and Honey

I’ve always loved yogurt, but a lot of the flavored versions that are available in stores are way too sweet for my taste and are loaded with unnecessary junk like gelatin and processed sugar. Instead, I prefer to eat plain yogurt (greek yogurt is my favorite) with just a little bit of honey. Sometimes I will toss a couple of frozen blueberries on top for some extra sweetness and added vitamin C. It’s not too sweet but is very flavorful and fills me up without making me feel heavy or bloated. It makes a great breakfast or late snack and is filled with satiating protein and calcium.

7 // Veggies and Hummus

I have to say, I’ve never come across a vegetable that I didn’t love and I don’t need any dips, dressings, or seasonings to make me want to eat them. That being said, if you don’t love veggies, dipping them in garlicky hummus is sure to change your mind. I like to make my own with chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and a bit of salt. I’ve seen recipes with spinach and beets added and they look amazing as well. Hummus can be pretty calorie-dense but it has tons of nutrients. As long as you keep your portions under control, this is a completely diet-friendly, healthy, delicious snack for any time of day.

xoxo,

Alicia

dirty-martini-cocktail-how-to

The Dirtier The Better

I’ll admit it – I rarely go out drinking. I’m 23 but with the soul of a 95-year-old woman and nine times our of ten I would rather curl up with a cup of tea and Netflix or read a book in the bath. One Friday night I was legitimately knitting while watching Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. Did you fall asleep yet? When I’m not being boring or indulging in one of my favorite geriatric activities, I do like to indulge in one (or four) drinks, some snacks, and the company of my boyfriend and/or friends. My tipple of choice? The dirty martini.

Now, not everyone likes the strong, briney flavor of a dirty martini. It took me a while to appreciate the dry, refreshing flavor of gin but now I love it and there are a lot of variations out there that play with different flavors (this one has notes of rose in it – something that totally seduces a flower child like me). The first time I made a dirty martini I couldn’t even finish it. Sure, there are only three ingredients, but the way it’s made, the quality of the sauce you use, and how cold the drink is makes ALL of the difference. Now, I make a pretty mean martini – sometimes I even prefer mine to those that are made in a bar or restaurant! Not to toot my own horn. Now if you aren’t into super sweet drinks, like gin, love olives, and can’t get enough sodium in your life, low and behold your new favorite cocktail. Here’s how to mix an awesome dirty martini that will make you feel like a female James Bond.

dirty-martini-ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 oz gin or vodka (I prefer gin but it’s really your call.)
  • A drizzle of dry vermouth
  • 1 oz of olive brine (I like my martini’s filthy so I add 1.5 or 2 oz sometimes)
  • 2-4 stuffed olives (If you can find them, blue cheese stuffed olives add some extra decadence and kick to an already salty dirty martini)

YOUR TOOLS

  • A chilled glass
  • An ice-filled shaker or a spoon for mixing
  • A spear for your olives

Traditionally martinis are made with gin, but vodka is a very popular substitute. I like both but gin is my favorite. The tree-like flavor of gin (derived from juniper berries) makes the cocktail a little more refreshing and lightens up the salty flavor of the olive brine. Dirty martinis can be ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ depending on how much vermouth you add. I am not a massive fan of vermouth and so I add just a drizzle and like to keep my martini’s on the dry side.

  1. How to mix them? Chill a glass by putting it in the freezer for ten minutes or by filling it with ice and then dumping it out. You can use a martini glass if you’re feeling fancy but we’re not that posh over here and I would drink a martini out of a mason jar if it was my only option.
  2. Next, put your ingredients into a shaker, shake it like Taylor Swift says, and then strain it into your glass. You can also pour the ingredients directly into your glass and stir to mix your drink. Some people believe that martinis should ONLY be stirred because shaking it ‘bruises’ the gin. Whatever that means. It’s your choice. A lot of bars use shakers but I don’t have one and my martinis always come out tasting great.
  3. Strain your mixed martini into your chilled glass and garnish with olives.
  4. Enjoy the salty deliciousness!

Do you have any favorite cocktail recipes? Do you have tips to make an even better dirty martini? Let me know in the comments! I am always down to up my martini game.

xoxo,

Alicia

Saturday Inspo

It’s been a relaxing week from me which, believe me, is rare. Free time is necessary for me to keep me sane, happy and motivated enough to give it my 110% throughout the work week. With this extra time I found myself getting into cooking a little bit more. I just made an amazing peanut and veggie curry, not to toot my own horn! I have also been indulging my online shopping addiction and spent way too much time googling. Are you aware that people used to think tomatoes were poisonous? Or that the Inland Taipan is the world’s most poisonous snake? Now you know. Here are a few things that made my radar this week and that have me inspired.

1// These slouchy pants from Gentle Fawn

While I love a crisp pair of trousers or jeans, I have fallen in love with silky pants this season. This pair from Gentle Fawn feels like pajamas, they are so soft and comfortable. The slouchy silhouette is great for a pared down weekend look. Or, wear them with heels and a slinky tank for a look that is sexy in an effortless way.

2 // Early 2000’s inspired makeup

Let’s face it: the 2000s didn’t do anybody any favors when it came to beauty. From tangerine tinted complexions inspired by The O.C and Laguna Beach to chunky highlights a’la Kelly Clarkson, a lot of it was pretty bleak. There has been a resurgence of beauty trends inspired by the beginning of the millennium and instead of being repulsed I have found myself longing for the days of ultra-shiny lips (that taste like cotton candy of course) and baby blue lids.

3 // The Pursuits of Happiness

As a tea and coffee addict, I love to collect pretty cups and mugs. While my collection of Beatles mugs and Titanic replica china still brings me joy, there is something so luxurious about drinking my coffee out of something that looks like a piece of art. The Pursuits of Happiness is a brand I came across at work. Created by April Brimer and Pavel Cherny, this Portland label specializes in handmade porcelain ceramics with unique, one of a kind details. I just love the brand’s simple shapes and soothing watercolour prints.

1 // Marbled Mug ; 2 // Melty Mug ; 3 // Marbled Mug

4 // This tee that basically encapsulates who  I am

chill-also-psycho-but-mostly-chill

via BALM

I rarely like slogan tees. Before I bought this bad boy I didn’t own a single one but after seeing an acquaintance of mine wearing the shirt on Facebook I was instantly sold. It spoke to my soul. I am pretty sure that everyone who knows me knows how true the shirt’s statement is. My boyfriend sure echoed its sentiments! I got it a size bigger than what I usually wear so that it would be slouchy and relaxed. I can’t wait to throw this on with a pair of boyfriend jeans and converse.

5 // Raspberry Cheesecake French Toast

I love breakfast. I could eat it three times a day, every day. My favorite thing in the world is having breakfast with my boyfriend on lazy Sundays. We wake up late and usually make something sweet. He is pretty amazing at making french toast and chocolate chip pancakes – they honestly taste like giant cookies. I came across this recipe the other day while perusing Pinterest and decided that I would have to make it for our next lazy day breakfast. Who doesn’t want cheesecake for breakfast?

xoxo,

Alicia

Saturday Inspo

From a 3-ingredient strawberry sorbet to an off-beat illustrator that I found on Instagram, here are few things that have kept me inspired this week.

  1. Natalie Foss

Instagram is an amazing resource when it comes to looking for inspiration in fashion, art, decor, beauty etc. I found Natalie Foss, an artist from Orlo, Norway, while scrolling through my feed. Her style is quirky with a slightly dark, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. With bright colours and an aesthetic that reminds me of the psychedelic sixties, @natillustration is a must follow.

2. Vancouver-inspired candles

Okay. I have a candle addiction that borderlines on out of control. There’s nothing I love more than unwinding at the end of the day with some scented candles, a good book, music and a bath. I discovered Vancouver Candle Co. by chance when walking into a delightful little boutique in Abbotsford called Montrose and George. With a range of scents inspired by different parts of Vancouver, neighbourhoods like Kitsilano, Fairview, Mount Pleasant and Gastown have been interpreted into different fragrances. I have always had a soft spot for historic Gastown and love the amber, tobacco, and leather scent that truly does evoke images of century old brick buildings and rustically stylish cafes and restaurants.

3. Ridiculously yummy (and healthy!) three-ingredient sorbet

I love icecream. I really do. So much so in fact, that I have started making my own so that my figure doesn’t reflect my addiction to frozen dairy. This recipe is ridiculously easy. All you need is a blender, frozen fruit, sugar, and water (or coconut milk or yogurt depending on your taste). Simply blend and freeze in a container. It really is delicious and if you swap the sugar for stevia it is actually super healthy.

4. Five awesome tips for a salon-worthy manicure at home

While I love the indulgence of getting my nails professionally painted, I rarely take the time to get it done. One reason being that I have a tendency to chip my nails within minutes of getting them done. Luckily, I am pretty good at doing my own nails and have found that with a little bit of googling and tutorials from Youtube, the manicures I give myself are nearly as good (cost free). It’s also a fun way to relax at the end of the day. I typically paint my nails while indulging in a Netflix binge. This site has a lot of great tips on how to get salon-worthy nails at home.

5. The perfect minimalist, everyday handbag

are-studio-arc-bag

via ARE Studio

It’s sometimes said that you are either a shoe person or a handbag person. I definitely fall into the bag lady camp. I once lined up all my purses on my bed and took a picture. I definitely have more bags than I need but I can’t help but fall in love over and over with different brands and styles. ARE Studios, a brand from Los Angeles, makes the most amazing, sleek, minimalistic styles that are perfect for everyday. For drool-worthy arm candy, no one does it better than the brand’s designer Cecilia Bordarampe.

xoxo,

Alicia