One of my favorite and easy dishes to make is Rice Pudding, also known as “Katnov” in Armenian. Its texture is soft and creamy and the sweet taste just tops it all off! The recipe is super simple! All it takes is a few ingredients and about 30 minutes of your time.
Cook time: 30 minutes
This recipe has evolved from my grandma, to my mom, to my sister, who changed it up a bit ;) Not that it wasn’t already super delicious, she just modernized it a bit by making it a tad bit healthier with added veggies and nutrients. I was sick for a few days, so I wanted something super easy to make that was delicious, healthy and energizing! Lentils are full of fiber, protein, iron and so much more!
Before you start cooking this up, just make a note to chop up everything very small. This is a somewhat creamy soup, so you want to make sure there are no big chunks in there. In general, I chop up everything small in soups because you get a full flavor of everything in one spoon and also, it’s easier for Kat to eat!
1/2 cup of dry lentils
1 carton of chicken broth
1 espresso cup of round rice
1 large potatoe
salt, pepper, turmeric, paprika, ginger powder (to taste)
1 tsp red pepper paste
1/2 yellow onion
1. Boil the lentils in the Chicken Broth (I add water for plenty of soup)
2. Once the lentils have cooked only halfway through, add washed rice
3. Add carrots, celery & potatoes
4. Add seasonings to taste
5. Add red pepper paste and mix until dissolved
6. While you let the soup cook, chop and satay onions in a seperare pan with some oil until soft
7. One soup is completely cooked through, add onions
8. Pour half the soup in a blender and blend until creamy (let it cool a bit first)
9. Add the creamy soup back into the pot with the remaining
10. Add cilantro for garnish and serve
Both delicious, both easy to do and both nicely served together for appetizing or a grazing table. Make it super pretty by filling it up in the shell of the avocado and a fresh red pepper cut in half. It also looks beautiful in a red and green cabbage cut in half. Serve it with chips and/or veggies, depending on how healthy you want the setup to be. Here I have it in plain white bowls because, well...its just a Thursday! Lol. My peppers and avocados were going bad, so this was the perfect dish to savor the foods & you can store it in your fridge for several days! Buy mini tupperware and take them to work with you for snacks. It's a perfect snack for toddlers too (except my toddler is weird about texture, ugh!). Anyways, I hope you guys find this helpful and enjoyable!
Although my husband and I love trying new places to eat, we have a Top 5 that neither of us will ever say no to on a given night. These are the places we usually go for "date night" because they're special to us and we've been going since we've been dating (over 5 years). As much as I am a makeup lover, I am a food lover. I can't say Im an "eater" or "experimenter" because I am kind of particular with my food, so we will cancel out the word: foodie. However, my husband? He will eat and try anything that crawls, fly's or swims. With that said, we like to go to restaurants that offer versatility.
1. Mr. Chow
This place was one of our first dates (I think the 2nd if I am not mistaken). Till this day, I had never eaten Chinese food like that, ever. So the story is, Mr. Chow was the son of a very famous Oprah singer back in the days. He came from a wealthy family with very high end personal chefs. After the war, they fled the country and were left with nothing. When he came to America, he realized, they didn't have food like the food he used to it. Lo-behold, he decided to bring that flavor in himself. Not to bore you, but after hearing that, all made sense about his food. It really is the most gourmet Chinese food you've ever eaten. Its not cheap, but well worth the money. Its a small place with community seating, but so beautiful! Seriously, this place is a treat. If you haven't been, it's a must!
2. The Bazaar at the SLS
This restaurant is EVERYTHING! And when I say everything, I mean food, service & decor! The SLS itself has one of my favorite decors and this restaurant is a VIBE. It's really big and they have several seating areas with different decors. When you are done with dinner, you can walk over to the other side of the restaurant which is their dessert room. Finish off your night with some wine and delicious desserts. But let's not skip ahead, the food is one of the best foods, hands down. Once you've tried a Jose Andres restaurant, you know. Deliciousness aside, the presentation of the food is just beautiful. They have an open kitchen and you can see them creating the food and its just entertaining and so admirable. One of the managers of the restaurant had heard recently that my husband and I were huge fans and invited us over for a special night. We had a 22 course dinner! I mean, I got till 19 believe it or not. The experience, the service, everything is just perfection. If you haven't been, you are missing out.
This restaurant used to be a liquor store, believe it or not. Now, you walk in on an average night and it is completely packed. David and I love this place for several reasons. 1. It is actually one of the very few restaurants that are open till 2am in LA. 2. We love the outdoor seating 3. The food is delicious. 4. Great ambiance! Sometimes, even if were not hungry, we will just head over there for some wine & cheese; our favorite thing to do. If you are a wine & cheese lover, this is your jam!
Katana is a robata grill, Japanese cuisine. We love the food here and how they have small portions so you get to have a little bit of everything and never leave a dish full. As most of you already know, I am not a seafood lover, so there is plenty bbq options for me. You will love this place if you want good food and a night out to just hang out and enjoy. Again, outdoors is our favorite, of course when the weather is good. Katana has been around for a long time and the fact that it still stands in LA, where restaurants are opening and closing left and right, you know its good!
5. Osteria Mamma
Our friend George introduced us to this place back and David and I were dating and we fell in love. Unlike the above four restaurants, this place is super homey and feels like you are at a restaurant in Italy. Delicious authentic Italian food, great service, great wine options and very family friendly. This is the type of restaurant we go to when were having Date Night wit Kat lol.
Bonus: Gracias Madre
Ok I decided to include this one in there for the Vegan food lovers. A friend of mine has celiac disease and is completely gluten free/vegan. On a night out, she suggested this Mexican restaurants and we didn't just love the place, but we were in shock. Not only is the food delicious, you cannot believe its vegan. The cauliflower tacos actually taste like chicken! The cashew dressing tastes like ranch! I mean ,it's insane what they do with vegan food these days. Healthy & delicious!
This salad is not only delicious & healthy, but super easy! I made it for the first time a few weeks ago for a dinner party at my house and it was a hit. Since then, I’ve made it twice more, including tonight! It’s one of those salads you can prep and leave it in the fridge and either snack on it or use it as a side dish for days. Give it a shot and let me know what you think! Recipe below:
4 Cups Broccoli
1/2 Cup Carrots
1/4 Red Onion
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 Cup Mayo (replace with Greek Yogurt if on diet)
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Sugar
Pinch of Pepper
This is one of my favorite desserts in the world and I had no idea how easy it was to make! I’m a sweet lover and I can have it for breakfast, lunch & dinner (I don’t), ok fine - I do. I’ve made this dish twice already because it’s big enough to last a week in your fridge if you have it every day. OR, I guess you can share. These images are from the first time I made it, and although I have to work on making it prettier, the taste was perfection! I know there’s a few different recipes to make this, but see below for what I used:
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rosewater
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Start boiling water, sugar and lemon juice, let boil for a few minutes, add the Rosewater and Orange Blossom, let boil for a few more minutes and set aside to cool for a little bit.
Toasted bread you can buy in store or toast sandwhich bread and make sure it’s crispy.
Layer the rusk in your pan until your pan is covered and pour half your syrup over all the breads. Layer your second set of risk and pour the rest of the syrup on the second layer of bread.
1 can condensed milk (400grams)
300ml whipping cream
1 tbsp Rosewater
1 tbsp Orange Blossom water
5 tbsp cornstarch
Mix 1/2 the milk with the cornstarch until melted. Combine the cornstarch mix with the remainder of milk, condensed milk and whipping cream in a heavy bottom pan on the stovetop and start mixing on medium heat until it thickens. Once it thickens, add the Rosewater and Orange Blossom water and keep mixing until it has a pudding consistency.
Pour custard all over rusk. Top with chooped pistachios and refrigerate 5-6 hours. I prefer overnight with toasted bread because it soaks up and softens the bread. Enjoy!
I’ve been to fancy dinners. Not because I like fancy dinners (although I do) but hubby and I love the experience of dressing up every now and then, going to a nice place, enjoying not only the food, but the ambiance. We are borderline foodies; however, were happy with simple dinners or cheese and wine, so we don’t pass for one! We equally love cooking at home together and enjoy our time in the kitchen. Our current favorite TV show is “Chef’s Table” on Netflix and on the downlow, it’s what we watch on the daily lol. We love the story behind these successful Michelin rated restaurants, the owners and how they came about, what dishes made them world famous and really just the art of the food. It’s pure genius what some chefs are capable of sometimes. One of our favorite restaurants ever is the Bazaar by Jose Andres. The Bazaar has an open kitchen concept and you can watch them cook and how they create and decorate food with tweezers. I promise you that’s my career in my next lifetime. But hey! I am looking to do some cooking classes with David, so let me know if you know any good ones!
Anyways, my friend Shushan of Ladybugz, Inc. is an amazing chef herself and owns her own catering company. I ALWAYS use Shushan’s services when I have a big party because her food is so good, so nicely presented and she never disappoints! Plus, I need an excuse to order from her every now and then because I miss it lol. So anyways, she had told me about this restaurant in Las Vegas called Joel Robuchon at the MGM. Trusting her taste, last time David and I were there, we booked next door at the Joel Robuchon Atelier. The Atelier is basically the more casual version of their formal dining restaurant (they are next to each other). We had a 13 course dinner at the bar of the restaurant. Seeing the small portions that come out, you think you’re never going to get full. By course 6, we were dying! We were so full we couldn’t breathe but the food kept coming out and it was so good, we forced ourselves to keep eating! Let me tell you...the flavor of every single item that came out was something we had never eaten before and the presentation? Exquisite.
We went to Vegas this week because David had some work to do, so I tagged along because it was Valentines and we wanted to be together. We decided to book Joel Robuchon at the fine dining this time, next to the Atelier. You walk in the restaurant and you think you just stepped into France. First of all, everyone has a French accent, the decor was rich, sexy and beautiful and the service was nothing like we had ever experienced before. The restaurant is also a Celebrity hot spot; there were many photos of celebrities framed all over the place and I also heard its a Celin Dion favorite. Anyway, we felt like we just walked into a Chef’s Table episode. We decided to do the 5 course dinner this time. They first bring out a cart with 12 different types of freshly baked bread that takes you straight to France. We chose our items from the course and it began. The presentation of each dish was so beautiful, you don’t want to touch it; but every dish was beyond. Every spoonful had so much flavor that you can’t even understand what you’re eating. Seeing each others reaction to every flavor of every dish was the best part lol. The 5 course dinner is spread out to 2.5 hours, so the whole dinner is meant to be an actual experience.
I can go into detail with each dish but I’ll let the photos do the explaining, although it was dim and I couldn't get great photos. At the end of our dinner, the Chef came out, introduced himself and wanted to make sure we were all happy with our food. They even gave me a “goodie bag” with desert and a box of chocolates. Joel Robuchon has a 3 Star Michelin rating and truly deserves every star. We knew the restaurant came with a price & boy did it lol. Our bill was $1500! In all fairness, if you remove the alcohol, it will be about $1000 for 2. Crazy? Perhaps. But heck, it was Valentine’s Day and we felt we deserved it! Lol. If you’re not a foodie or into the art of food and you’re the type of person who eats just to eat, DONT go there; it will be a waste of your money and you will not enjoy it. But if you’re one who appreciates such things, it’s an experience you won’t forget!
What are your thoughts on fancy dinners?
Speaking of new habits, lets talk about a old habit for a minute...cake! I made this cake during Thanksgiving and I have yet to share the recipe with you. I enjoy baking so much. I love taking something out of nothing and creating something delicious; makeup, cake - same thing right? haha. At least I think so! Below is a pretty simple recipe of an Almond cake I love. This cake does take time, but just take your time and try to enjoy the process!
First, you will need 4 large eggs, 1 1/5 cup sugar and 3/4 cup plan or greek yogurt. Mix together.
Then you will need 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 3/4 cups almond meal, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon almond extract. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Mix together.
Lastly, add 3/4 cups sunflower oil, grape seed or canola oil. Mix well & set aside.
In the meantime, toast 1/2 cups sliced almonds.
While the almonds are toasting, start making your glaze. You will need 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and 3/4 cup powdered sugar (also use at the end to sprinkle on top! I totally forgot to sprinkle this at the end - but it does make it much prettier!)
Take a 9inch pan, spray it with baking spray and line bottom of pan with parchment paper; I didn't do this the first time and I struggled! It makes it easier for you to flip the cake over later, otherwise it gets stuck in there. Pour the batter into your 9inch pan and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Once it gets a bit red, its ready! Don't overbake it; stick a q tip in the middle, it should come out clean. Pull it out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Once it is somewhat cool, turn the cake over into the plate of your choice and pull out the parchment paper. Take your glaze and spread it all over the cake with a pastry brush, then take your almonds and sprinkle the almonds all over the cake. Add some almonds to the sides of the cake by patting them on, otherwise they will fall off. Once it's cool completely, sprinkle your sugar powder all over it.
Voila! French Almond Cake (minus the sugar powder). Yours should be much fluffier than mine! I was trying to make 2 cakes out of one so I separated the second half into a second baking. Sneaky, I know lol. Super delicious, no overpowering of any taste, simple to make and something your guests are sure to love! Enjoy!
3/4 cup plain or greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups almond flour meal
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cups sunflower, grapeseed or canola oil
for the glaze:
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cups sliced almonds
Tabbouhle is something Armenians have been making for a long time! My mom truly makes one of the best; but I also do know it takes forever to make and it looked way too complicated. But I did learn one thing, every solid ingredient needs to be chopped up as much as possible to the smallest size so that each bite has all the ingredients in there....this is why it would take so long. You can take the original tabbouleh and put it on a crunchy romaine lettuce and eat it “lettuce wrap” style.
With that said, I have a more modern (aka. easier) approach to this salad. Instead of traditional bulgur, which can be very bloating, use quinoa. I also don’t chop it up as small as she does because, well, who has time for that? I’ve been making this salad for a long time and all my guests seem to love it; so, I keep making it. In all honesty, it’s a delicious, healthy salad and easy to make with minimal ingredients! Scroll below for the ingredients and direction.
You will need curly parsley. You can use regular parsley as well but it won’t be as crunchy. Wash and leave aside to drain.
I used red quinoa, but you can use any color. I just love that the red adds some color to the salad. Wash & set aside to drain. Cook it in water with a pinch of salt. Once the quinoa is cooked, leave it closed for 5 minutes, then open and set aside to cool off. I usually put it in the fridge to make the cooling process quicker.
You will need cherry tomatoes. Here I have heirloom cherry tomatoes but regular cherry tomatoes work as well. Try not to use the big tomatoes as that has a lot of water/juice and will make your salad soggy. Cut them in half or if they’re still really big, quarters.
You will need some crispy cucumbers. Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half and chop them up. If the cucumbers are big, chop them in quarters.
Put all your ingredients together (minus the quinoa) and set aside.
Season your olive oil with salt, lemon, cumin and a pinch of cinnamon. Whip your ingredients until it thickens and blends out.
Toss the salad with your ingredients before you add the quinoa.
Once your quinoa is cool enough, toss it with the salad and viola! Ready to serve.
Makes 4-6 servings.
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped curly parsley
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint (optional)
If you follow me on Snapchat, then you know my daughters capabilities of taking down a 12oz. smoothie in one breath. I really don't know how she does it because I myself can't even do it! This smoothie is actually so rich that it takes me a good 20 minutes to actually finish it! In fact, I never finish it. With that said, she's something of a phenomenon. So if your baby is not drinking 12oz. Or more - that is fine and totally normal! Every baby/toddler digests food differently and also depends on how active they are throughout the day. Even if they just start sipping on yours, it's a start.
One of the highest screenshots and most common questions on Snapchat is about Kats juice. What's in her smoothie? Below is a breakdown. However, I suggest you adjust to your baby/toddlers liking. Kat absolutely LOVES fruit! Over ice cream, cookies, chocolate - she's obsessed with fruit, any fruit (I lucked out with this). Vegetables...not so much! And for this, I make her soup every other day with all the veggies she needs - blog post for another time. Kids likings and preferences are constantly changing as they're discovering new things or getting tired of old things. Don't give up if your baby doesn't like it right away - keep trying until you find a recipe that works for him/her.
Because Kat loves fruit, I load up all the fruits she loves in my Nutri Bullet. Then I load up the things she's not fond of: avocados and greek yogurt! Try to add and hide the foods they don't love in their smoothie - but overpower with their favorites! Kat is a very "texture" type of picky (who do these little human beings think they are?!). I always add at least one type of green, usually Spinach or Kale and for added nutrients, I add honey and/or almond butter & chia seeds. Chia seeds are a GREAT source of antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. As always, make sure your baby/toddler is at the right age for any of the ingredients listed. Lastly, you need liquid to water this down a bit and make it easier to drink. I like to add coconut water because it's very hydrating but you can also add Almond milk as well. Kat usually drinks almond milk instead of whole milk throughout the day - so I go with the coconut water for her smoothie.
With this smoothie, Kat gets in all her fruits, dairy, greens, protein and then some! What I also do is make extra and freeze up the rest into a popsicle - she LOVES this! I got the tray super cheap from IKEA. I even freeze up banana, blueberry and avocado in this way so that she eats her avocados and guess what? She loves it! Cruel isn't it? Haha! It's for their own good :) Hope you guys enjoyed this blog post and find it very useful. Let me know your thoughts!
Apple, Banana, Orange, Blueberry, Blackberry, Strawberry, Spinach, Avocado, Greek Yogurt, Honey, Chia Seeds, Coconut Water