March 05, 2015

Weekend Getaway: Newport Beach

Last weekend, we headed to Newport Beach to surprise our mom with a stay at The Resort at Pelican Hill for her birthday. Though we'd seen many photos of the five-star property at work, viewing the grounds in person was incredible – 
pictures do not do it justice! 
Golf course with ocean view and rotunda at The Resort at Pelican Hill

Rigatoni pasta with pepper at Andrea at The Resort at Pelican Hill

Cafe at The Resort at Pelican Hill gelato in front of gelato cart

Saturday was spent eating the best handmade pasta & sipping Bellinis and moscato at Andrea, exploring the grounds, decompressing at the spa, laying out by the pool, and spending time in our beautiful ocean-view bungalow – which was stocked with complimentary chocolate-covered strawberries provided by the concierge for mom's birthday celebration. 

Before we left on Sunday, we took part in a meditation flow class and treated ourselves to some of the resort's famous gelato! Even though we only spent one night on property, we really made the most of our time & felt like we were spending the weekend at an Italian villa. We cannot wait to go back someday for another mother-daughter getaway!

March 03, 2015

Nous Parlons Français!

A couple of months ago, we were captivated by the Serial podcast. Not only was the true story incredible and riveting to listen to, but the 20-45 minute episodes made our commute to work so much more exciting. When Serial ended, we looked all over the iTunes Podcasts top charts in hopes of finding a new way to pass the time, but nothing kept our attention... Until we found Coffee Break French!

Twins in Paris at the Louvre museum

We've always been interested in learning new languages, and French has been at the top of our list since Paris is our all time favorite city. K & I both took French in high school and are able to read the language fairly well, but it's been great to learn proper pronunciation so we can get more comfortable speaking out loud and be able to turn thoughts and phrases into full, spoken sentences.

There are currently four seasons of Coffee Break French, and they continue to add new episodes every week! There are 40 lessons per season, and we are currently on Season One: Lesson 25. There is so much more to learn! Since we limit ourselves to one twenty minute lesson per day every weekday, we should finish our lessons in a little less than 7 months!
Our goal at the end of this is to plan a trip to Paris to practice what we've learned!

If you're not interested in learning French, the same program also has lessons in Spanish, Italian, and German. We want to learn Spanish next, and then Italian to build on what I already learned while studying abroad in Milan. 

I hope you love the easy and quick lessons as much as we do!

February 24, 2015

Must-Try Recipe: Slow Cooker Black Bean-Quinoa Chili

If you're looking for a great work-week lunch option, look no further than our adaptation of Tone It Up's Black Bean Quinoa Chili. Since this recipe is cooked in a crock-pot, it's the easiest thing in the world to make – and super healthy! Just put the ingredients into the cooker while you sleep, and voila! When you wake up, you'll have the perfect lunch to keep you energized throughout the day. 

Since there are two of us and we have this meal for four days during the work week, we double the recipe to make eight servings. If you're just cooking for one, follow the below instructions for the four-serving recipe. 
Enjoy & let us know what you think!!

Slow-Cooker Ingredients:
2 Tbs olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can tomatoes
1 can tomato purée
2 cups quinoa, cooked
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
pinch of cinnamon
salt & pepper to taste

Topping Ingredients:
1 avocado, sliced
spoon full of greek yogurt
chopped cilantro

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add in onion & garlic, and cook until onion is soft. Season with salt & pepper.
2. Pour onion/garlic mix into slow cooker.
3. Add remaining slow-cooker ingredients.
4. Set the cooker on low for 6-8 hours.
5. Serve & garnish with a spoonful of greek yogurt, sliced avocado & cilantro.

What are some of your favorite recipes? Share a link in the comments!

February 22, 2015

Oscars 2015: AMC Best Picture Showcase

Last month, AMC sent an email about their annual Best Picture Showcase – 4 Oscar-nominated movies on Saturdays, two weekends in a row – and we immediately bought tickets. Since we'd already seen most of the movies on the weekend-one lineup, we opted to attend day two to see the movies we've been most excited for.

10:00am - Boyhood
1:05pm - The Theory of Everything
3:30pm - The Imitation Game
6:25pm - American Sniper

Since we're notorious (especially me) for falling asleep in movies and getting hungry, we were pretty nervous about sitting in a movie theater from 10:00am - 8:30pm. However, we were pleasantly surprised by how energized we were throughout the experience.

Our 5 secrets for spending ALL day at the movies:
1. Have a big breakfast! (P.S. Is anyone else disappointed that Noah's New York Bagels changed their Jalapeño Salsa schmear recipe?)
2. Get a coffee to drink during movie #2.
3. Have a super-sized Icee during movie #3.
4. Eat a Chipotle burrito between the 3rd and 4th movies.
5. Indulge in movie-theater candy during the last film.

When I went home, I watched Birdman with Nick, making my day full of not just four, but five Oscar noms. 
Definitely a record!

Overall, we enjoyed all of the movies! We're hoping Eddie Redmayne wins Best Actor and are still undecided about Best Picture, but The Theory of Everything was the movie we were most looking forward to and ultimately our favorite. We're already counting down the days until the next AMC Best Picture Showcase and this year's awards haven't even started yet!

Who are you rooting for for this year's Academy Awards? 

Get in on the fun & fill out an Oscars bracket to share with your friends – that's what we'll be doing throughout 
tonight's festivities!

February 14, 2015

The Vegetarian's Guide to Indian Food

Indian food has always been on the top of our list (it's K's actual favorite food!) & I feel bad for anyone who says they don't like it... Most likely, that just means they're too nervous to try it.
K & I have been dining at Indian restaurants since we can remember, but I can see how the thought of enjoying an Indian meal at a fancy-ish restaurant could be a bit intimidating if you haven't. For that reason, I wanted to give you all a mini-lesson in eating Indian in the hopes that you'll go out and try it! 

Pictured here (clockwise from top): Vegetable Korma, basmati rice, Vegetable Thali, and Paneer Masala from Dhaba

Vegetarian Ingredients:
Paneer - Indian of our favorites!!
Aloo - Potatoes
Baingan - Eggplant 
Channa - Garbanzo beans

Common Sauces:
Saag - Spinach
Masala - Onion and tomato curry
Korma - Cashew cream curry
Matar - Peas in curry
Vindaloo - Tamarind-vinegar sauce 
Raita - yogurt-based sauce with blend of spices including cilantro, cumin, mint, and other herbs

Favorite Sides:
Naan - Tandoor-baked soft flatbread (usually stuffed with potatoes or cheese!) 
Samosa - Fried or baked triangular puff filled with potato, onion, and pea stuffing
Papadum - Thin, disk-shaped lentil wafer

If you're a vegetarian, we suggest going with one of our favorites: Vegetable Korma, Paneer Masala, Aloo Gobi, or Aloo Matar (our mom's favorite!). If you're not a vegetarian, our friends would suggest Lamb Vindaloo, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Chicken Vindaloo. You can tell your server how spicy you want your dish too, so don't be afraid to speak up! For an extra kick, add a dollop of mint chutney to your meal!

Be sure to check Yelp before going to an Indian restaurant near you – some really aren't that good – and make sure they have at least 3.5 stars! 
If you're based in Los Angeles, our go-to spot is Dhaba Cuisine of India in Santa Monica. For those in the valley, Shalimar Cuisine of India in Woodland Hills is yummy too!

January 29, 2015

Weekend Getaway: Minnesota

Last week, I took two days off of work to spend a long weekend with my boyfriend visiting his family in Minnesota. It was so great to take a break from the 80-degree weekend in Los Angeles and spend some time in snow country with Nick. Luckily, the temperatures weren't nearly as bad as I had predicted, so we had some fun playing around in the snow, throwing snowballs & building my first full-size snowman. 


Alright this is LA, but it was my first time remembering to put my phone in Airplane Mode, so I had to snap a pic.

Most of our days were spent inside drinking beer & wine, bowling, watching movies & playing with his mom's adorable dogs (& new puppy!). Since the trip went by way too fast, I'm looking forward to going back and hopefully seeing what The Land of 10,000 Lakes looks like in the spring or summertime.

Side Note: 
Who's taken Delta Airlines before? It was my first time & I was so impressed with their service! Nick forgot to assign our seats on the way back, and they were able to seat us together once we got to the gate. 
And...all of the seats had individual entertainment screens so we could watch movies & satellite TV, play games, and listen to music – just like international flights! 

January 24, 2015

Sunday Inspiration

This Sunday, I'm inspired by snacks. I usually stay clear of snacking – apart from The Bachelor(ette) Mondays with the girls – but I am so excited that the Superbowl is next weekend because what's the Superbowl if it's not an excuse to graze all day on anything and everything?

Last year, K & I made buffalo quinoa bites that we found on Pinterest. Let's just say... They didn't go over so well. By the end of the night, the party was littered with rolled up napkins tucked under plates and plants trying to hide the cold "buffalo wing" cheese bites. But this year, our goal is to bring an appetizer that everyone will love to regain our reputation! 

I don't think we can go wrong with any of the hors d'oeuvres below... Right?
Click on the photo to visit the recipe link – we'll be doing the same over the next week!

I just realized that every single one of these options is made up of two main ingredients: carbs & cheese. But, those happen to be my favorite go-to food groups, so I'm not complaining.