March 27, 2014

EAT: scandinavian almond bundt cakes




Hello all you crazy kids!  During a visit to my hometown (Amarillo, TX!) a couple of months ago, some family friends brought home some heavenly almond bundt cakes from a bakery called Nordic Gallery Bakeri.  SO GOOD - they were so fresh and moist and chewy.  I probably could have eaten the whole box myself - but unfortunately, there were other people around and that would have been frowned upon.

After not being able to get them off my mind a few weeks later, I started doing some research for a recipe.  Here's what I found:  Nordic Bakery > Scandinavian Baker > Scandinavian Cakes > Scandinaivan Almond Cake!  I also had to give myself a geography refresher - for those of you who don't know, Scandinavia is the cultural-linguistic region of Northern Europe that includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden.


I found a few recipes that are traditionally baked in a long Scandinavian pan but went with a mini bundt cake pan for re-creation purposes.

The result - not too shabby!  It's like an almond pound cake almost - still chewy on the outside and cakey inside.  Perfect with tea.  I've made it again since then and am craving it again now as we speak (or as I write).  Not as good as the bakery's, but it will do until I can get my hands on them again.

Ingredients:

- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- powdered sugar


Directions:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cake pan.
- Beat well sugar, egg, almond extract and milk together.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder, then add to mixture.  Add melted butter and mix well.
- Pour into greased cake pan.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes depending on cake pan. Edges must be golden brown.  Cool in pan before removing - cake will break if removed to soon.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar.



Happy Baking!
xoxo, NB

March 23, 2014

WEAR: spring Fever - palazzo pants, crop top and perforated pieces



Spring has officially sprung and decided to grace us with it's much awaited appearance.  Better fashionably late than never, so we'll take it! Anything to finally hang up our fleece-lined leggings and long johns. Bare legs (arms and midriff) season is open!  For this post, we offer two outfit inspirations because we already know mother nature's temperamental ways.  


First, let's talk about getting in your (fancy) pants for this season.  And by fancy, we mean the glorified pajama pants otherwise known as palazzo pants.  Start off Spring FRESH with some comfortable, breezy and relaxed fit fancy pants.  Pair it with a crop top and you've got the right idea along with all the right moves. These pants help you look more elongated and sophisticated while keeping you comfortable in all it's soft, roomy and flowing gloriousness. 




Secondly, let's talk about perforated pieces (the crop trop paired with the leather skirt is perforated if you can't tell in the pictures, sorry!).  Looking to the Spring runways this year,  namely Alexander Wang, it seems like if it's got little holes in it, it's cool - in more ways than one. Aligning with Spring's breezy vibe, perforated anything is perfect, especially since the polar vortex had us all holed-up (pun intended). hah.  Mesh, fish net, perforated - work them holes into your spring wardrobe now! 





Happy Spring! xoxo, NB


Michelle: Striped crop top, Top Shop // Palazzo pants, ASOS // Crossbody, Celine Trio // Shoes, Zara

Margaret: Perforated crop top, Zara // Faux leather skirt, Forever 21 // DIY gold studded belt, Neato Bonito // Green leather clutch, Comme de Garcon // Leopard lace-ups, Schutz

Photography: Andrew Chan 


March 17, 2014

SOUL: the journey is the reward - free printable!



Lately I've been finding myself in the real thick of things - namely work.  I'm getting caught up and riled up and stressed out and burned out.  And all for what?  Well, a paycheck (which is needed) - but other than that I've been asking myself what's really important to me.  And although I do want to do well in my career, there are far more important things on my list of important things (ie. family/friends). 

So, I've been working on slowing it down and just relaxing.  Enjoying the little moments.  And above all else, appreciating and being grateful for the journey.  It's actually not as easy as it sounds - I've actually been getting anxiety about whether or not I'm "maximizing" my down time.  Go figure.  But it's a work in progress just like this beautiful and crazy life of mine.

Hope you're enjoying every minute and every moment of your journey.  

Click here for a printable version.


Oh, and just some succulent lovin as usual.


xoxo, NB

March 11, 2014

EAT: winter citrus salad - clementine, pomegranate and prosciutto salad


Daylight savings time blues?  We have a bright solution that will help ease you into the change. Let this salad liven up the season that was devoted to meats and hearty soups.  Don't worry though, you can still have your soup and eat too - anytime you want, we have a great recipe for that HERE! We just like give you options. And this salad option is like sunshine on a plate!  Simply refreshing AND refreshingly, simple to make!  Boom.  



Ingredients: 
  • 2-3 clementines 
  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds
  • 2 slices of prosciutto (I would add the citrus fruits options below instead of prosciutto if you were going for a no meat version)
  • optional: orange, grapefruit or blood orange, and/or a bed of greens of your choice
garnish: alfalfa sprouts and fresh mint
dressing: all natural miso sesame



Instructions:

  1. Peel clementines and then cut into slices and spread out on a plate.  Another option is to start off with a bed of greens of your choice and start building your salad from that.   
  2. Tear the prosciutto into bits and sprinkle over clementines. You can use other citrus fruits such as a grapefruit or blood orange instead if you are going for a no ham variety.
  3. Deseed pomegranates. My favorite way is to submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of cold water and cut and pull apart the pieces while the fruit is submerged in the water. This is to prevent the bursting juices from getting on everything.  Then, drain the arils in a colander and sprinkle over the clementines.
  4. Top with julienned mint leaves and alfalfa sprouts. 
  5. Drizzle miso sesame dressing over salad for a light boost of flavor but no dressing is really needed as the pomegranate adds juice, texture and crunch.  



This antioxidant-rich salad is perfect by itself or to add to any breakfast, lunch, or brunch spread! I made lunch for a couple days for the week by piling all this on a bed of spinach and stored in tupperware in the fridge.  Brighten up your day with this salad. The dark days of winter will be behind us soon (until next year).  Orange you glad it's March?! haha. 

simple, delicious and nutritious!  
xoxo, NB 

March 10, 2014

DIY: neoprene clutch



Neoprene!  I've been a little obsessed with the fabric of the season - whoever thought of using foamy scuba fabric for tops, skirts, dresses and such was a genius.  It gives everything just a little more depth and fun cushy-ness.  

It took me a while to track down the fabric (at a decent price) for this, but seattlefabrics.com had a ton of color options and good pricing.  I wanted something with a pop, so I ordered this bold blue along with a brighter pink shade (that I'll debut later!).  I also knew I wanted to do a zip pouch which is kind of my favorite purse/clutch to carry around these days.  It's classic, simple and to the point.  Working with this fabric was a little bit trickier because of the thickness, but once I got the hang of it (you really have to just man-handle it) it wasn't too bad.




Materials:

- Neoprene fabric (18"x24" 2mm piece, $13.50 seattlefabrics.com)
- Matching thread
- 12" zipper (craft stores or JoAnns)
- Standard sewing supplies
- Sewing machine


Instructions:

1.  Measure and cut two rectangular 9"x12" pieces of fabric.

2.  Next, you'll want to sew the zipper onto the fabric pieces.  Take one piece of fabric face side up and lay the zipper face side down along the upper edge.  The two pieces should be facing each other now.  Pin the zipper in place and sew along the top edge.


3.  Repeat the step for the second piece of fabric.  You'll have to do some arranging since you already have the first piece sewn on.  Make sure the second piece of fabric is facing the front side of the zipper again.  Pin and sew along the top edge.  After flipping the fabric back over, both pieces should look like the fourth figure above (like wings coming out of the zipper part).

4.  Next, you'll want to sew the other three edges of the clutch.  Flip the pieces back over so the outside pieces are facing each other.  You can use pins to hold it together.  Sew along the remaining three edges.

5.  Afterwards, cut the two bottom corners (without cutting the seams) so that when you flip the clutch inside out the corners with be sharper.  Flip the clutch inside out.  You'll want to clean up any edges around the zipper that are sticking out (this happens easily since the fabric is thicker) - I hand sewed an area that wouldn't stay down.  


Tips:  Using thread that is the same color helps as the seams can be visible in some areas since the fabric is thick.  Sew Delicious has a great zip pouch tutorial and tips for sewing the zipper part - it was very helpful when I was sewing mine!





Happy Sewing!
xoxo, NB

March 6, 2014

DIY: hand painted mug - part 2




I found my old paint pen the other day and decided to have a little blast from the past with one of our oldest (and favorite) DIY's - our hand painted mug!  I ended up giving away the ones I made previously but I wanted to make one to keep at home.  I'm a huge coffee drinker and it's one of the things I look forward to the most in the mornings, so as you can imagine the vessel part is extremely important.  

Our original post and instructions are here.  Get creative with it - names, drawings, sayings….oh my!



Happy Thursday!
xoxo, NB

March 3, 2014

EAT: spicy sausage and kale soup with orecchiette




Winter calls for soup! - and lots of it.  I crave soup alllll the time when it's cold.  It's so comforting and makes the weather a bit more bearable when you're cozying up next to the fireplace with a hot bowl.  I found this recipe (originally made with mustard greens) in Bon appetit's January issue, and drooled when I saw it on the cover.  It's been on my to-cook list since then and I finally got around to making it.  And I have to say, it's much easier than I thought it would be, and tastes much better than I thought it would taste!  It's very flavorful and has the perfect amount of spice (in my opinion - I'm a medium spice kinda gal).  The hubs and I gobbled up the whole pot, and I will DEFINITELY be making it again.  

I replaced the mustard greens with kale, and rice noodles with orecchiette pasta to make it a bit heartier. Throw whatever carb you'd like in there as well as beet or turnip greens - this soup can do no wrong.



Recipe *adapted from Bon appetit's original spicy pork and mustard green soup

Ingredients:

- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bunch kale, torn (about 4 cups)
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pal or nuoc nam)
- 1 package orecchiette pasta

Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions, set aside.

Mix pork, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and cumin in a medium bowl.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add pork mixture; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld, 8-10 minutes.  Add mustard greens, scallions, soy sauce, and fish sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 5-8 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Divide noodles among bowls and ladle soup over.


Slurp it up and enjoy!
xoxo, NB