Miami Beach

Miami is a city that has so much going on…it is a little sexy, a lot retro, a bit mysterious, and is a whole lotta hot. About a month ago, Derika and I were in Florida for a long weekend. She had to swing up to Miami for work, so I decided to tag along. I really couldn’t pass up an opportunity to spend a quick 24-hours in Miami. The last time I was in Miami was in 2005; we were on our way to Key West and popped into a cafe for lunch. At the time I did not do any research, and I could not even tell you where we ate lunch. This time around I knew that our time was limited, so I did my homework and tried to squeeze as much into the 24-hours as I possibly could. Below are my top suggestions if you want to eat your way through Miami in a limited amount of time.

Spend the Afternoon on Miami Beach

Heart Shaped rock1

Miami Beach surprised the heck out of me. I had no idea that the water was so crystal clear and aqua blue, and that the water temperature would be so warm. It almost felt like I was in the caribbean and I can’t wait to go back!

To maximize my comfort and to save my pasty white skin, I rented two chairs and an umbrella on the beach at our hotel for only $35 for the whole day! I had an amazing time strolling the beach, swimming in the warm water, and avoiding the afternoon storms while tucked under my umbrella. Just look at how cute this heart shaped rock was that I found!

Grab Dinner and Drinks at Cleo

After spending the afternoon at the beach, Derika and I wanted to grab some dinner. With a little research, we found a super vegetarian friendly tapas restaurant just a short cab ride from our hotel. If mediterranean tapas is up your alley, I would totally recommend Cleo. They had awesome craft cocktails, one of the best warm and toasty pita breads that I have ever had, and their lebaneh with feta was to die for.

Sip on Some Tasty Beverages

Sweet Liberty Bar

Just look at all of those bottles! A bar that needs a step ladder to reach ALL of the alcohol is my kind of place. Stop into Sweet Liberty Drinks and Supply Company for an amazing cocktail from their huge bar. If you are feeling snacky, they also have food as well.

Tom on Collins

Before you head home for the night, pop into Tom Collins Caravan Bar and enjoy one of their amazing craft cocktails. They usually have live music, so saddle up to the bar and enjoy a night-cap or two!

Take a Food Tour Through Little Havana

El Pub Tostones

I am not a huge tour person, but when you are short on time sometimes it is a perfect choice. We took a Little Havana Culinary Tour through Miami Culinary Toursand I would highly recommend it. The tour was $59 dollars, lasted 3 hours and we had more food and beverages than we could eat. If you don’t have the time or the money to do the tour, here are the top places to visit in Little Havana.

Go get some tostones (smashed and fried plantains) at El Pub Restaurant and thank me later (tostones with garlic sauce are pictured above).

El Exquisito Coffee

Go to El Exquisito Restaurant and get a cup of cuban coffee. When you order your coffee, you will get a small cup of coffee with a bunch of tiny cups. The small cup of coffee comes with tiny cups, because it is actually a small cup of espresso with sugar in it that is meant to be shared. This stuff is delicious, but it is also like rocket fuel. You have been warned 🙂

El Exquisito Cuban Sandwich

While you are sippin’ on your espresso, you might as well order a cuban sandwich from El Esquisito as well, they are supposed to be one of the best in Little Havana. Thank you Derika for always being my meat taste tester.

Sugar Cane Juice

After your cuban sandwich, stroll down the strip for some fresh squeezed sugar cane juice from Los Pinaderos Fruteria. The juice was sweet and refreshing, and like nothing that I have ever tasted before.

Ball and Chain Mojito

While you are trying to escape the afternoon heat. Go check out the Ball and Chain bar, one of the oldest bars on the strip. It was just recently restored to all of its original glory and it is one of my favorite places on the tour. While you are there, you might as well try one of their world-famous mojitos, listen to some of the local music, dance with some locals,

and don’t forget to go out back to take a peek at the pineapple stage!

Ball and Chain Pineapple Stage

If you need a break from all that eating and drinking, go to the Cuba Tobacco and Cigar Company. Learn how cigars are rolled and also get a chance to meet Senor Bello. Senor Bello is the poster child for this establishment. He is an adorable old man that is on all of the packaging. You will always find him sitting out in front of the store, smoking cigars and waving at the people passing by. It is basically like meeting a local celebrity…

If you still have room, I have two dessert places to recommend.

Yisil Bakery guava pastry

Go to Yisell Bakery and order the lightest and flakiest (is flakiest a word?) guava pastry that you have ever tasted. I know that you are probably bursting at the seams at this point, but just trust me. I don’t even really like pastries and I loved this magical guava one.

Azucar Ice Cream

Last but not least….you have to try the guava, cream cheese, and puff pastry ice cream from Azucar Ice Cream Company. This Cuban Ice cream company is probably one of the best ice cream places that I have ever been too, and this is the only place that you can get this unique flavor.

That pretty much wraps up all of the amazing things that we ate and did while we were in Miami. Take the food tour in Little Havana, but if you can’t I hope that you can at least get to one or two of the places that I listed above.

Sweet Liberty Drinks

Happy Travels!

 

Oahu Cover Photo

In January, Derika and I went to Oahu with a couple of friends to go to the Pro Bowl and to just get some R&R. We don’t often go back to the same place twice for vacation, but as far as I am concerned any day is a good do to go to Hawaii no matter what island. I love everything about Hawaii and would jump at a chance to go. We were also living in NYC at the time, so some sun and warm weather were exactly what the doctor ordered. When we went to Oahu the first time I did not do a ton of research, so I was excited to go back with a list.  Below are ten of my favorite places that we visited while we were in Oahu.

 

Visit Waimanalo Beach

Waimanalo Beach

Waimanalo Beach is hands down my favorite beach on the island. Just look at the color of the water! It is so so stunning! What I really love about this beach is that it is pretty quiet, there is always available parking, and there are a couple of cute places near by to grab food; which also makes this place a great picnic spot. If you want to have a great picnic at this beach, visit one of the two places that I have listed below.

 

Eat at Ono Shrimp and Steak Shack

Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack

Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack is super close to Waimanalo Beach and a great place to check out some super fresh and local Hawaiian food. It is also a great place to grab a bite to eat if you are a vegetarian.

 

Eat at ‘Ai Love Nalo

If you want something super healthy go to ‘Ai Love Nalo for some farm fresh and amazing vegetarian food! This place is super adorable, so you could grab food and eat it there or take it to go for a great beach picnic.

Farm Fresh Sign

Their portions are huge and everything tasted so good, we got a couple of bowls and they were delicious.

 

Watch a Sunset at North Shore

beach

The North Shore had epic waves when we were there, so this is a great place to watch surfers or to go surfing. It is also a great place to catch an amazing sunset. After the sunset go and grab dinner at the north shore food trucks near Haleiwa.

 

Visit the Dole Plantation

Baby Pineapple 2

Did you know that pineapples grow out of the ground!? I had no idea this was the case before I went to the Dole Plantation. This is a very touristy stop, but go here to see all of the cute baby pineapples and then stop and get some Dole Whip.

Dole Whip

This my friends is one of the most amazing pineapple ice cream you will ever have.

 

Cool Off with Shave Ice

Shave Ice Sign

If you are on the East side of the island go check out the World Famous Shaka Shave Ice shop. I like to stop a any place that claims to be world famous. I am also obsessed with shave ice and I have to say that this is one of the best ones that I have ever had! The portions are HUGE!

Shave Ice 2

 

Sip on a Mai Tai and Watch a Sunset

Mai Tai Sign

My only regret is that I did not find out about this place sooner. I would have loved to have gone here a few more times. My advice to you is to run to the Mai Tai Bar in the Royal Hawaiian for one of the best Mai Tais of you life.

Mai Tai

I would recommend that you make a reservation for their patio, so that you can sip on a Mai Tai and also catch a great sunset.

Mai Tai Sunset

 

Eat Like a Local at a Farmer’s Market

Market

If you are in Oahu on a Saturday or Tuesday, do yourself a favor and check out the KCC Farmer’s Market, it is the biggest one in Honolulu. I love a good farmer’s market, and if you want to get a unique taste of Oahu, this is the place to do it. We basically ate our way though the market and I do not regret it one bit. As a matter of fact, I am getting hungry just looking at these photos!

Eat ALL of the Malasadas

Leonards sign

I am not a huge donut fan, but I fell in love with malasadas. They kind of remind me of jelly filled donuts, but they are a bit smaller and a lot more tastier. To get some of the best malasadas on the island, you should check out Leonards. This claim usually means that the line can get pretty epic, but I promise you that it worth the wait.

Try a Loco Moco Bowl

Heavenly Sign

If you are wondering what the heck is a loco moco, then you should definitely try it. 😉 A basic loco moco is white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and brown gravy.I know this sounds kind of strange. It is almost impossible to find a vegetarian version. If you really want an amazingly healthy and delicious meal go have a meal at Heavenly restaurant. This is an adorable place that have a ton of great organic and local options, and I was super excited to try their vegetarian version of the loco moco with an ice cold local beer.  It was so so goooood!

Heavenly Loco Moco Bowl

That pretty much sums up my recommendations for Oahu and now I want to go back!  I would like to send a little shout out to Pam and Missy for joining us on this adventure. When can we go back!?

 

Friends photo

 

Happy Traveling!

 

Chili with text

A big bowl of chili is probably one of my favorite comfort foods. I have been known to make a big pot of chili at the beginning of the week, and eat off of it all week-long. I love that I can add avocado, scallions, cheese, cilantro, jalapenos, tortilla chips, etc. It is kind of like a choose your own adventure dish that just makes me so so happy. We were invited to a potluck last week, while San Diego was having a teeny chilly spell (pun intended), so chili just seemed like the perfect dish. Being a vegetarian at a potluck can be a bit interesting, because you never know if there is going to be something for you to eat there. To prevent this from happening, I always try to bring a dish that is vegetarian friendly and filling at the same time. This is the great thing about chili…it is super filling, really healthy and ALL the cool kids usually love it.

I already have a veggie chili recipe on my blog, but that one has soy crumbles in it. I never know what kind of dietary restrictions I am going to run into at a potluck, so just to be safe I threw in a bunch of beans and added quinoa into this new and improved chili. This way my chili packed a protein punch and was soy and gluten-free. Check out the recipe below for the perfect potluck dish.

Ingredients

*Note* – Feel free to used whatever veggies you have on hand, I just used what I had in the fridge.

  • 1 Cup Quinoa, cooked
  • 2 28 oz Cans Organic Crushed Tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 Cups, Low Sodium Veggie Broth (Make your own)
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Sweet Onion, diced
  • 1 Zucchini, diced
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 Carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tsp. Ghee or cooking oil of your choice
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1TBS Granulated Garlic
  • 1-2 Tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 Tsp Salt, more to taste
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper, more to taste
  • Sriracha, (optional)

Toppings

  • 1 Jalapeno, cut into rings (optional)
  • 1 Cup Cilantro, leaves only (optional)
  • 3 Green Onions, cut on a diagonal (optional)
  • Tortilla Chips, (optional)
  • Shredded Cheese of your choice (optional)
  • Sour Cream, (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook your quinoa. Set aside.
  2. Heat the ghee or cooking oil in a soup pot and add all of your veggies, except for your garlic. Saute for 5 minutes just to take the edge off.Saute Veggies
  3. While your veggies are sauteing puree your crushed tomatoes in a blender or food processor. If you like a chunkier chili, you can leave your crushed tomatoes as is.
  4. After your veggies are done sautéing add the granulated garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Stir for about a minute to release the aroma of the spices.
  5. Once you can really smell the cumin, add the minced garlic, the two cans of crushed tomatoes and the vegetable broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  6. Turn the heat down and reduce your chili to a simmer, cover and let everything simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes, add your beans, and 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Add BeansAdd Quinoa
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, and simmer for 10 more minutes. Feel free to add more veggie broth or water if it is too thick, or add more cooked quinoa if you want it a bit thicker. Also feel free to add some Sriracha hot sauce if you need more of a kick. I like to serve hot sauce with my chili so that people can make it as hot as they want.
  9. Try to make your chili the day before you plan on eating it. This way all of the ingredients have a chance to hang out with one another and it just makes it taste better. If you find that it has become really thick overnight, just add some water to thin it out and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  10. When your chili is finished. Toss it into a bowl and top it with any or ALL of the toppings that I have listed above. If you want to score brownie points with your friends, bring all of the toppings that I have listed above and create a chili bar for them to enjoy!  This my friends is how you win a potluck! 😉Chili2

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Asian Spaghetti Squash Bowls

I am currently crushing hard on anything that I can put into a bowl. I just love piling a ton of healthy ingredients into a bowl to easily create a simple, quick and healthy meal. You can even mix and match the flavors, which is what I love about bowls so much. Today I put this spaghetti squash mixture over greens and tomorrow I might toss it into some lettuce wraps. The possibilities are endless! This recipe originally started out as a spaghetti squash chow mein recipe, which turned out just OK. However when I added it to a bowl it became amazing. Picture the inside of a veggie egg roll on top or a bowl of your favorite greens, topped with your favorite protein, hot sauce and a dash of scallions and you have my amazing Asian inspired spaghetti squash bowl. Let’s start cooking so you can start eating!

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
  • 1/4 cup Braggs Soy Sauce (or coconut aminos to make paleo)
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS. Turbinado Sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 2 Tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 Tsp. white pepper
  • 1TBS Ghee or Coconut Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • 3 Stalks Celery, sliced diagonally
  • 12 oz Broccoli Slaw Mix ( I bought a bag from the store, but you can grate your own)
  • Sriracha or favorite hot sauce
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced diagonally, optional
  • 1-2 Sprigs Cilantro, optional
  • Chili Garlic Sauce, optional

Directions

  1. Follow my spaghetti squash recipe to cook your squash.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, Turbinado sugar, ginger and white pepper; set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add onion and celery, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in broccoli slaw until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in spaghetti squash, soy sauce mixture and protein for choice (I used this tofu) until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  5. Taste and add some Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce if you think it needs a little kick. I am a bit hot sauce obsessed.Spaghetti Squash
  6. Fill your favorite bowl with your favorite greens, I used a kale blend mix, top the greens with the spaghetti squash mixture, garnish with green onions, cilantro and chili garlic sauce if you are feeling sassy.

I don’t think that it can get any easier than that!

Enjoy!

 

Mini Stuffed Peppers

Happy Taco Tuesday! As most of you know, I love a good Taco Tuesday and I am always looking for creative new ways to sass up my Mexican food recipes. I whipped these little cuties up for a dinner party, and they were a huge hit. What I love about  these mini stuffed peppers is that they are gluten-free and vegan! If you want to add a little bit of gooey cheese, you can do so to some or all of them just before you pop these little guys into the oven. I also really liked that I could make them ahead of time, bring them to the dinner party, and pop them in the oven when I got there. They cooked up in no time, and I was able to serve a hot appetizer, while the hostess with the mostess put the finishing touches on the main course. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and please let me know your thoughts.

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag of Mini Rainbow Peppers, I used 6 for this recipe
  • 1/2 Cup of Quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 Yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cumin, or more to taste
  • 1/2 Tsp. Granulated Garlic, or more to taste
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • 2 TBS Cilantro, minced
  • 1 Tsp Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 1 Avocado, pitted and smashed
  • Salsa, optional
  • A few TBS of Sassy Sauce, optional
  • Pepper Jack Cheese, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook your quinoa. You can follow my quinoa recipe, just know that you will have extra to use in your other weekly meals.
  3. Empty, drain, and rinse your black beans. Set a side.
  4. Cut peppers in half, removed stem, seeds and any membrane so that they look like little cups. Set aside.
  5. Add the ghee or olive oil to a saute pan, lightly saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno with the cumin and granulated garlic for 1-2 mins (just to take the edge off). Set aside.
  6. Once the quinoa is cooked toss it into a bowl with the onion, garlic and jalapeno mixture.
  7. Mix in the cilantro and half or a whole can of black beans. It just depends how black beany you want it. Feel free to toss a couple of tablespoons of salsa in this mixture if you are feeling sassy.
  8. Season quinoa mixture with salt and pepper and add more cumin and granulated garlic if you want. Set aside.
  9. Arrange your peppers into your baking dish.
  10. Layer each pepper with a little sassy sauce if you want to keep it vegan, or place a little bit of cheese in the bottom of the pepper. You can also use both the sassy sauce and the cheese in the bottom of the pepper if you want the best of both worlds.
  11. Fill each pepper with the quinoa mixture and set it back into baking dish.
  12. Top with a small thin slice of pepper jack cheese if that is you thing, or don’t if you want to keep it dairy free.
  13. Bake for 25 minutes, just to warm everything up, to cook the pepper a bit and to melt the cheese if you are using it. You want the pepper to maintain its crunch so that you an easily pick it up.
  14. While your peppers are cooking, mash-up one avocado and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  15. Remove the peppers from the oven and top it with a dab of avocado and a few drops of hot sauce if you need more spice. YUM!Mini Stuffed Pepper w cheese

I added cheese to some of mine and both versions were delicious!

Happy Taco Tuesday!

 

NYC to SD Route

After two and a half years of living in Manhattan, Derika and I decided that we missed the ocean, the sand, and the sunsets, so we decided to head back to San Diego for a little change of pace. When we left New York on February 12th it was 8 degrees, and when we got to San Diego a week later on February 19th it was 80 degrees!  As you can see from the photo above, we did not take the most direct route from New York City to San Diego. Who doesn’t love a good road trip!? Our main goal was to hit some distilleries, eat some amazing food, and to get as far south as we could to escape the treacherous driving conditions. Below I outlined our route and the fun things that we found in each city along the way. Enjoy!

New York City

NYC

We left NYC in the late afternoon on February 12, 2016, right after our movers finished up loading up our apartment into their truck.

Absolute Bagels  – On our way out-of-town we stopped at my favorite bagel shop to fuel up before we hit the road. Do yourself a favor and get their garlic chive cream cheese on an everything bagel and thank me later.

NYC Bagel

Maryland

Ristorante Ottaviani – If you are passing through Cumberland, Maryland and you need a bite to eat, we would highly recommend this cute little Italian restaurant. Ristorante Ottaviani has plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options.

Kentucky

Our main goal for Kentucky was to go to Louisville, get Derika some BBQ, and go to some bourbon distilleries…this is exactly what we did.

Feast BBQ – You can’t really go wrong with bourbon slushies, fried pickles, BBQ tofu and pulled pork. Soooooo goood and even the vegetarian was happy at this BBQ joint.

Akasha Brewery – After your BBQ, walk across the parking lot and try this brewery, their beers were great and they also have games for you to play while you are sippin’ on beer.

Akasha Brewery

Kentucky Distilleries

Bourbon tasting is nothing like wine tasting. You have to go on a distillery tour in order to taste the bourbon, so this made it very difficult for us to see all of the distilleries on our list. If you are limited on time or just need a few suggestions,  I would recommend Bulleit, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, and Jim Beam.

Tennessee

Tennesee Sign

Jack Daniel’s Distillery – We went way out of our way to make this stop happen, but it has been a bucket list item for a long as I can remember. This place is an adult playground for Jack Daniel’s lovers, and you can also buy quite a few things that you can’t get anywhere else. If you are ever in the vicinity (which is not as easy as you think, because it is in the middle of nowhere) of this distillery, do yourself a favor and go!

Alabama

We spent Valentine’s night in Birmingham, Alabama and checked out a cute diner in downtown Birmingham for our Valentine’s date night.

Birmingham sign

John’s City Diner – I know that diner food does not seem very Valentiney, but the food is way beyond diner fare and they have so many vegetarian options. We especially fell in love with their mac and cheese and their tasty elderflower old-fashioned cocktails. Holy Cow!!!!

Louisiana

Since we had already went so far south to get out of the bad weather, we decided that it would be a good idea to pop into New Orleans for lunch.  I mean, who doesn’t want to eat beignets for lunch!? If you have an afternoon to spend in New Orleans, here are a few of my suggestions.

To get into New Orleans you have to cross the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. It has been a goal of mine to listen to the Be Good Tanyas, Lakes of Ponchartrain song, while crossing this causeway. So this totally had to happen on our way into New Orleans.

Alberto’s Cheese and Wine – I have always wanted to try a muffuletta sandwich, but vegetarian versions are nearly impossible to find…until now! They make them here and they are amazing! Just look at this sandwich, I don’t even love olives and I loved this sandwich!

Muffuletta at Albertos Cheese and WIne

Cafe Du Monde – You can’t stop in New Orleans without stopping at Cafe Du Monde for a beignet, because they have the best beignets and coffee in the french quarter. This is what powder sugar dreams are made of!

Cafe Du Monde beignet

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – You can’t leave New Orleans without getting a road soda aka a hurricane. I don’t love super sweet cocktails, but I love the hurricanes at Lafittes. The atmosphere is great, their hurricane cocktails pack a punch, and they are the perfect combo of sweet and alcoholic. Yum, Yum, Yum!

Texas

Welcome to Texas Sign

Houston

The Original Lupe Tortilla – We got to meet up with Danie, one of my old culinary school buddies at Lupe Tortilla, which was an awesome treat!

Danie and Dani at Lupe TortillaIf you are hungry and need an easy stop off of I-10, that has good Tex-Mex food with a lot of vegetarian options and great margaritas then Lupe’s is your place.

lupe tortilla houston

Bucc-ee’s – If you don’t have time to stop for lunch and want something on the road. Stop at this Texas institution. Bucc-ee’s is the biggest rest/truck stops that I have ever seen! If you can’t find what you are looking for here, I think you might have a problem.

San Antonio

The San Antonio River Walk – It has been on my list to check out the San Antonio River Walk. This is a great place to stay the night, so that you can stroll the cute River Walk, (which is so flippin’ adorable) and check out some of the cute bars and restaurants. It looks the best when it is all lit up at night. Some of our favorite River Walk places are listed below.

Riverwalk San Antonio

Boudro’s Texas Bistro– Stop at  Bourdo’s for table side guacamole!

Also wash the guacamole down with one of their prickly pear margaritas.

Prickly Pear Cactus Margarit - Boudros

The Esquire Tavern – This is a great place to check out some live music, get a great bite to eat, and sip on some epic cocktails in an amazing atmosphere.

Esquire Cocktails San Antonio
El Paso

Cowtown Boot Company – It was a bucket list item to get a pair of cowboy boots while we were in Texas. We stopped at Cowtown Boots in El Paso to see if I could get a pair of boots….holy cow they had boots for miles!

I also found my next dinner table… 😉

Cowboy Boot Table

We each left with a new pair of boots…Winning!

New Mexico

We spent the night in Las Cruces New Mexico, because I am obsessed with New Mexico’s hatch green chili sauce, and I wanted to get as much of it as I could in a 24 hour period. Below are some of my food and drink recommendations

Andele Restaurante – This was a great mexican restaurant with a salsa bar, homemade tortillas, hatch green chili sauce,  and solid mexican food.

The Shed – We stopped at The Shed on our way out of New Mexico and I have to say this is the best breakfast that we had on the road. Everything is made from scratch and I would recommend ordering a side of the green chili sauce to slather over whatever you get. I have to warn you though, their hot green chili sauce is no joke!

The Shed Las Cruces

The Double Eagle – Take a quick stroll and shop around the cute Old Mesilla, and stop into the Double Eagle for one of their award-winning Margaritas!

Margarita - Double Eagle

Arizona

Dateland

Dateland Travel Center – Make sure you need to stop for gas in Dateland, Arizona so that you have an excuse to get the best shake of your life. I had no idea what to expect, and I didn’t even want one, so I just took a sip of Derika’s shake. At that moment I had wished I had gotten my own. It was seriously one of the best shakes that I have ever had. Look how happy it made her!

Dateland

Yuma

The River City Grill – If you are stopping in Yuma and want something a little fancier than In n’ Out, pop into The River City Grill for a nice glass of wine and a bite to eat. To my surprise, they have a cute back patio and quite a few vegan AND vegetarian options on the menu. I got a tofu curry that was served in a coconut. 🙂

Yuma Dinner

Yuma was our last stop before we rolled into San Diego!

8west Sign

Minus the crazy weather, this was one of the best road trips that we have ever taken. We got to add a few states to our travel list, we went to a bunch of great distilleries, and we ate some amazing food. We also ate a lot of random things on the road when we were trying to save time.

Here are some honorable mentions if you are a vegetarian on the road….

Taco Bell – I got my first ever vegetarian crunch wrap on this road trip, and I have to say that it will do the trick if you are in a pinch while traveling.

Crunch Wrap

Waffle House – I have not been to a Waffle House in decades! This was my first time at a Waffle House as a vegetarian. The staff was super friendly, the coffee was strong and the omelette was decent.

Waffle House Omelette

Big Boy – I used to go to Big Boys with my grandma all of the time when I was little.  I can’t even remember the last time I ate at one.  We stopped off for a quick breakfast, which was decent and I even got to do a quick photo shoot with Big Boy himself!

Me and Big Boy

In n’ Out Burger – This was by far my favorite fast food chain that we stopped at while we were on the road. They have an amazing grilled cheese on their secret menu and make sure that you get it animal style and thank me later.

Thank you so much for following our food and cocktail journey across the US, I hope this list inspires you to get out and do something fun!

Double D Road Trip Sign

Safe Travels!

Bermuda

In November, Derika and I went to Bermuda to catch a little sunshine and to watch the world rugby classic. I am really excited to write about this trip, because this is the first time that we have gone to the same place twice for a vacation. Derika and I started dating in 2004 and in November 2004, we went on our first vacation together to Bermuda. We were living in Michigan at the time; I didn’t have any stamps in my passport and I’d never seen the magical blue-green water that I had seen on TV. So we decided to pick the closest destination that could check those items off of my bucket list and off we went. This was us then…

us w rocks

I mean… look at those baby faces!  We were only 24 years old!

This is us in Bermuda in November 2015.

Dani and Derika Beach

If you ask me, it looks like we are getting younger. 😉

It was ALL my fault that we ended up going to Bermuda for a vacation. Usually our travel policy is that we try to not go to the same place twice, because there are so many amazing places in the world and not enough time to see them all.

Last spring, Derika and I were at a rugby fundraiser for a high school team that she coaches. After a couple of cocktails, I thought that it would be a good idea to bid on a silent auction trip to Bermuda to watch the rugby classic. My excuse at the time was that I would bid on this trip so that people would follow suit, and we would end up raising more money for the team. However, that is not how it ended up working out. The evening progressed and as we were walking out of the event, I noticed our name on the board of winners for the silent auction!? How is it even possible that no one else bid on the trip to Bermuda!? It now looked like we were headed to Bermuda to watch some rugby, and by sheer coincidence it just so happened to be almost 11 years exactly to when we had first traveled there!

The first time that we went to Bermuda in 2004, I didn’t do any research and we pretty much just winged everything. My main focus was to frolic on the magical pink sand beaches and hang out with Derika. For our second trip I had those same goals, but I also wanted to check out the culinary scene and watch a little rugby 🙂  Bermuda is a pretty chill vacation spot and perfect for relaxing. The weather was not the best when we were there this past November, so I did not get to spend as much time on the beach as I would have liked. It all worked out though, because the weird weather just forced us to get out and about to see what else Bermuda had to offer.

Here is a map that you can quickly reference while you are reading this post. I also linked all of restaurants and activities to local websites, so make sure you click on the titles for even more info. Below you will find some of my recommendations for eating and playing in Bermuda.

Bermuda-map-local-attractions

Getting Around

You can’t really rent a car in Bermuda, so the only choice that you have to get around is to use one of their spendy cabs or you can be adventurous and rent a scooter. Renting a scooter is a super fun way to get around the island, but it is also is kind of scary. In Bermuda they drive on the opposite side of the road and they give you very little scooter training before they send you off on your own. Aside from those nail-biting factors, we ended up renting scooters on both of our trips. We didn’t die either time (even though we came close a couple of times) during both of our trips and so I would highly recommend it!

Me in 2004

Me in 2004

Me in 2015

Me in 2015

Where to Stay

In 2004 we stayed at the Fairmont Southampton. It was a gorgeous hotel with its own private beach that you could access via the hotel trolley. The hotel was really close to Horseshoe Bay, which is a great place for snorkeling or just hanging out by the beach.

In 2015 we stayed at the Elbow Beach Hotel, which also had its own private beach. What I really liked about this hotel was that you could either stay in the hotel area of the resort, or you could stay in what felt like your own little cottage with a lanai. We got a cottage and it felt like our own little piece of paradise even with all of the dreary weather…

Dani in Rain

Eat Like A Local

With our scooters we were able to scoot and eat all over the island. Below is a list of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat. I broke it up by cities so that you can find a great place to eat, no matter what part of the island you are on. It just so happens that all of these places are super vegetarian friendly. 🙂

Elbow Beach

Cafe Lido

We got lucky that the hotel we were staying at had a great selection of food any time of the day.  We enjoyed cocktails by the beach.

Beach Cocktail

We even popped into Cafe Lido for breakfast and dinner on the day that we were able to hang out at the beach all day. I enjoyed a great veggie burrito for breakfast and an awesome tagliatelle pasta for dinner.

Hamilton

The city of Hamilton was by far our favorite city to hang out in Bermuda. I just loved the cute streets, all of the great shops and awesome restaurants. Below are a couple of places that we fell in love with during our visit.

Devil’s Isle

Devil’s Isle is a great seasonal farm to table restaurant that uses fresh and local ingredients to create really creative dishes with a ton of vegetarian options. They have a great outdoor patio and their cocktails are totally on point.

Rosa’s Cantina

Rosa’s is a great Tex-Mex restaurant in Hamilton. We ended up eating at this restaurant twice while we were in Bermuda. We stopped off here the first night for a cocktail and some nachos.

Rosas Nachos

We ended up coming back a day or two later for a full meal. I really loved their veggie quesadilla and Derika got lettuce wrap tacos. They have a ton of vegetarian options and how can you go wrong with mexican food.

Cafe Cairo

Derika and I grabbed dinner at Cafe Cairo after one of the rugby games. This place had great mediterranean food, like hummus and falafel and it apparently turns into a hopping night club in the evening. We just went for the food, but you should stay for the dancing and let me know how it is.

Naval Dockyard

On a rainy-ish day we decided to scoot over to an area of the island called the Naval Dockyard to go shopping and grab lunch. It took us about an hour by scooter, minus the time that we lost when Derika’s scooter just shut off while going down hill with a bunch of traffic behind her. With only a few extra gray hairs, we made it there in one piece and the drive was really beautiful. The Dockyard is where all of the cruise ships dock so it is pretty touristy, but we did manage to find a place to grab a beer and a bite to eat.

Frog and Onion Pub

This is a great place amongst all of the tourist chaos to grab a beer and some tasty onion rings if you are feeling snacky, or a burger and a vegetarian shepard’s pie if you need something more substantial. They have a great patio that is perfect for an afternoon beer and people watching.

Frog and Onion Onion Rings

St. George’s

We also scooted over to the other end of the island on another rainy day, the weather in Bermuda in November is kind of a crap shoot. We heard that St. George’s was a cute town to check out so we hopped on our scooters and were on our way. St. George’s is really really tiny, but with a little strolling we found a cute place to get out of the rain.

White Horse Pub

We did pop into a couple of shops and managed to find a place to eat called the White Horse that had a nice patio that you could even enjoy in the rain. We got to enjoy lunch with these guys who were also trying to escape the rain.

Bermuda Birds

I even got lucky and found a veggie burger on their menu that was decent.

White Horse Burger

Swizzle Inn

Swizzle Inn Sign 2

While you are zipping around the island, you are bound to get a little parched and maybe even a little snacky. I highly recommend stopping at the Swizzle Inn for you all of your Rum Swizzle needs. There are two locations on the island and we stopped at both, purely for research purposes. What is a Rum Swizzle, you ask? A rum swizzle is Bermuda’s national drink that has a combination of rums, orange, lemon and pineapple juices, falernum (local sweet syrup) and a few extra secret ingredients. It just so happens that the Swizzle Inn is the creator of this epic vacation drink. Swizzle into this place for a rum swizzle, and be careful because this drink will give you a little extra swagger to your step in no time.

Other Adventures

Rugby

If rugby is your thing I would recommend coming out for the Bermuda Ruby Classic in November. All of the games were held in the evening so you can enjoy the beach all day and then catch a little rugby in the evening. How perfect is that!? If we continue to live on the east coast, I would love to add this event to our yearly activities.

Bermuda Rugby

Crystal Caves

Last but not least, in 2004 Derika and I did the Crystal Cave Tour. I am still thinking about this tour 11 years later if that says anything. If you have some free time on your hands, I would highly recommend these caves. I really loved the underground crystal clear pools on this tour, and you really have to see them for yourself to believe it.

us crystal caves

I hope you enjoyed our adventure and hopefully some of these suggestions will add a little extra sparkle to your trip.

Happy Traveling!

Dani

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced Granola

Oh man, it has been way to long and I am so sorry that I have been so MIA lately. I finished culinary school in August, wrapped up my kitchen internship in October, and since then I have been working at a farm-to-table restaurant in the West Village called Mas Farmhouse. Besides getting my butt handed to me in the kitchen on a daily, I am still teaching yoga, traveling a ton and gearing up for the holidays. I am hoping that I will soon be able to settle into some sense of a routine that incorporates blogging a lot more, and sharing my travels and the fun new recipes that I have been working on. While I get all of my ducks in a row, I thought that I would share this super simple and healthy granola recipe. I have been trying to make a savory gluten-free granola for a while now, that I can eat on the go or add to my granola in the morning. I love granola, but a good gluten-free granola is not cheap when you go through it as quickly as we do. This recipe makes a ton and you will even have left over oats , so that you can easily make a second batch, because you will for sure run out. Also feel free to add whatever your little heart desires to this recipe, this is just what I had on hand at the time.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Gluten-Free Oats (rolled or old-fashioned, not instant)
  • 1 Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1 Cup Pepitas
  • 1 TBS. Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt or (Truffle Salt)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Tsp. Mild Curry Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 4 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, use a spatula to stir together oats, almonds, pepitas, salt, garam masala, curry powder and cinnamon.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut oil and honey. Bring to a light simmer over medium heat stirring constantly with a whisk to get the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to come together. Once it comes together and simmer about 30 seconds, remove from heat.
  5. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the hot liquid mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir well with a large spatula. Spread granola on the cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 300° until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Once or twice during the baking time, pull out and stir well and put back in for the remainder of the baking.
  7. Remove the granola from the oven. If you want to add in dried fruit, add it now. Cool granola completely. If you want smaller chunks, stir several times while it cools so that it doesn’t harden into large chunks.
  8. When cooled, use your hands to break apart to the size you want and store in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.  If you are looking for a gluten-free granola that is paleo and omits the oats, you should check on my Not Your Granny’s Granola’.

Enjoy!

diploma
I am alive!  I am so sorry about my lack of posting, but things have been a little bit crazy with culinary school, teaching yoga and trying to finish up a restaurant internship. I am finally starting to see the light and the end of the tunnel and I have some really good news! It is officially official, and I can hardly believe it, but I have graduated from culinary school and I am now an employed chef working at the Little Beet Table, a gluten-free restaurant in NYC. It is so crazy that I had the idea to attend culinary school in February and by September I am a real live chef!  All I have to say is that if you are thinking of going to culinary school you should definitely do it. Over the past few months, I have grown in so many ways and I have learned so much.

When I was thinking about going to a culinary school, one of my biggest fears was signing up for a two year culinary program. Two years seemed like such a long time, and what happened if I hated it. I knew that I did not want to commit the next two years of my life to going to school, so I was super excited to find a culinary school like the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). NGI was so in line with my personal values and interests and their chef in training program was only five months! My first thought was that I could do anything for five months. So I took the leap and that is what has been consuming my life lately.

As I was going through the culinary program learning ALL of the things a weird thing happened.  I was learning so much and having so much fun, that I started to wish that the time would slow down a bit or that I would have signed up for a longer culinary program. I just felt that the amount of information that we were covering was a lot in such a short period of time. At times it felt like too much for my brain to absorb. Also there were some things in the program that I wish we could have spent more time on and some things in the program that we did not cover that I wish we would have…like cheese and wine. Mmmmmm….cheeeese!

Anyway, I really wanted this post to recap all of the amazing things that I learned and got to do at school and had the full intention to blog about, but never got the chance too. But I realized that I could never accurately recap all of the amazing things that happened while I was in school. So this post ended up being one of my hardest to write. Fortunately, I ended up getting lucky that an amazing classmate of mine put together an awesome video that neatly wraps up my past six months into a lovely seven minute video. I don’t think that anything I write could possibly do a better job of giving you a glimpse of what culinary school is like, so I will just let this video do it for me. Thanks Madeline for putting it together, I will cherish it always!

Enjoy the show!

 

 

Lake TahoeOver Memorial Day weekend, Derika and our friends Emily and Tetler spent the weekend in Lake Tahoe to attend our friend’s wedding. I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, so I was super excited to spend the weekend there. We were only able to stay the long weekend since I am still in culinary school, so I know that we had to make the most of the small amount of time that we had there. We crammed a ton into three days, so I thought that it would be fun to give you a quick recap on how you can squeeze the most out of your time there. We were not that much of sporty spices while we were there, due to the weather, so this is my guide on how to successfully eat and drink your way around the lake.

 

Let the drinking adventure begin 🙂

 

We arrived into Reno on Friday night; it was just a little over an hour drive to our Airbnb. During our three nights in Tahoe, we stayed at this Airbnb and loved it. We could not snag a place on the lake, so we settled for the next best thing. This cute cottage is perfect for four people, super close to Tahoe City for a day of shopping and it has a lovely hot tub for morning and evening dips.
Since we spent one of our free days at the wedding, we only had one full day to be a tourist. Since it was supposed to rain and I had never seen the lake, we decided that it would be fun to drive around the lake. This adventure would only take you about 2.5 hours without stops. It took us the better half of the day after all of the stops that we made. 🙂

1. Start your Day off Right with an Awesome Breakfast/Lunch at the FireSign Cafe.

FireSign Cafe

We actually stopped at the FireSign Cafe on our way out of town, but I highly recommend it.  We waited a little while but they have a really cute coffee shop right behind the cafe where you can hang out. This place is great for vegetarians and meat eaters, their menu is huge, and I will definitely go back on our next visit.

 

2. Stop in Tahoe City for a Beer and some Tots at the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company.

 

3. Check out Emerald Bay.

Emerald Bay
Our Emerald Bay stop was a crowded one, but we managed to find a place to park so that we could snap a quick group photo of us in front of Emerald Bay. This is one of the best views of the lake and I would highly recommend it.

 

4. Twinkle your Toes in the Lake.

Twinkle Toes
The south side of the lake is really touristy, so try to stay away if you can. We ended up stopping in a really cute park just after we passed the south side of the lake, so that we could stretch our legs and twinkle our toes in the water.

 

5. Go to the Hyatt’s Pier 111 Bar at Grab a Cocktail in the Sunshine.

Pier 111
A friend of mine told us to go check out the restaurant at the Hyatt on the north end of the Lake. The restaurant was a bit crowded, but we noticed a bunch of people hanging out on the Pier so we thought that we would go and check it out. Come to find out that there is an awesome bar at the end of the pier. It was the perfect place to enjoy the lake in the sunshine. The first photo on this post is also from this pier.

 

6. Stop at the Lake Tahoe Cali/Nevada Border and Take a Selfie.

Cali-Nev Border

 

7. Grab a Beer, Snacks and Play Some Cornhole at the Mellow Fellow.

Mellow Fellow is located right at the California-Nevada border, so after you are done taking your selfie, you need to stop here. We loved their beer and sausage selection, and their awesome patio where we played cornhole for the better part of the afternoon.

 

8. Stop of at Gar Woods for a Wet Woody!

The stop at Gar Woods was Emily’s fault. She use to go here when she was younger and said that her mom loved the Wet Woody cocktails. Once I heard the name Wet Woody, I knew that we had to stop. This place has a full bar, but everyone in the place is drinking Wet Woodys. These drinks make you feel like you are on vacation, and are so so amazing/ridiculous, and boy do they pack a punch! Go there and enjoy a great afternoon on their patio.

The weekend flew by, but we had a great time in Tahoe and I would love to go back.  I hope you enjoyed my little adventure and have fun trying our some of my recommendations.

 

Happy Traveling!