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Following my trip to Thailand, I came back not only bloated on noodles and rice, but with refreshed design visions and inspirations, triggered by my everyday surroundings while in SE Asia. I found inspirations in the vibrant life and culture of Thailand, from the silver-etched cups they drink out of, to the eye popping colors present in food markets, orchids, and lush jungle surroundings. The patterns, textures, and natural tropical elements of the country deeply spoke to me, and have molded my personal style in fresh new ways.  I now love incorporating the stylistic elements of such a vibrant country into my interior design aesthetics. Here, I’ve put together my go to list for an instant tropical-bohemian feel.Untitled presentation (27).pngUntitled presentation (26).pngUntitled presentation (28).pngUntitled presentation (25).png

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taste of the tropics

I decided to take some of my favorite flavors and marry them into the goodness of a bowl…pina coladas, coconut shrimp, avocado, and ginger. The result was a beautiful bowl delight which I’m calling a Pina Colada Shrimp Bowl. I hand breaded and baked my own coconut shrimp for a healthy version of the deep-fried, crunchy island classic. I then built a bowl with my favorite salad ingredients, and I tied in a ginger-based dressing for an Asian kick. Coconut shrimp paired with citrus is a no-brainer, so I threw together a quick pineapple basil salsa. The final product was a tropical infusion of Island-Asian flavors. I also added some peanuts last minute to bring in some crunch, but next time I would opt for Macadamia Nuts instead. Though I didn’t follow a recipe, I’ll list the ingredients below, along with approximate amounts and steps.

FOR THE SHRIMP:

1 pound (20-25 count) large shrimp, butterflied
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
~10 crushed whole grain crackers (1 cup ground)…(this is the healthy version, use Panko bread crumbs if you aren’t into the healthy sh*T!)
Olive oil for spraying the baking sheet
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.   2. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil, or spray a sheet with olive oil   3. Put the crackers in a sealed ziploc bag and crush them (with a rolling pin or meat-pounder or some other heavy object) until they resemble finely ground bread crumbs.    4. Set up your breading station: place the flour in a bowl; whisk the eggs and put them in a separate bowl; and mix the coconut and bread crumbs and put them in a bowl.   5. Sprinkle the deveined and butterflied shrimp with salt and pepper.   6. Working in batches, first dip the cleaned shrimp in the flour, and shake off excess; second dip the floured shrimp into the egg mix; lastly dip the shrimp into the coconut-crumb mixture, making sure to press the coconut onto the shrimp so it sticks in place. 7. Transfer breaded shrimp to the baking sheet; Bake for about 15 minutes,until coconut begins to lightly brown.

PINEAPPLE SALSA:

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
Handful of basil, thinly sliced
1/2 small cucumber, sliced
Juice of 1/2 lime

Mix all ingredients in a bowl together. Add more lime juice if desired.  

DRESSING- to make a tangy vinaigrette, I combined:

~1/4 cup of my favorite ginger dressing
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of honey
1-2 tsp of rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime

This is an approximation, so if it tastes too much like vinegar or lime juice, then add more water and honey. If it tastes too much like ginger dressing, then add more of the other ingredients until you reach a good balance.

OTHER BOWL INGREDIENTS:

A handful of lettuce leaves, thinly sliced
Few thin slices of red onion
~4-5 jalapeno slices
~Handful of peanuts OR macadamia nuts
1/2 Avocado, sliced
Sesame seeds for garnish

Arrange all of the ingredients in a bowl, except for the nuts and sesame seeds. Drizzle the salad mix with the dressing until evenly coated. Next add the pineapple salsa, the coconut shrimp, the nuts and the sesame seeds and enjoy.

NOTE: this will make a large batch of coconut shrimp. I ate them as leftovers with a BBQ-jerk dipping sauce. They would also go well as a snack alongside a mango chutney.

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Ingredient Prep

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Coconut shrimp breading station [flour dust, egg wash, coconut]

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Final coconut crusted shrimp ready to bake

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Final Pina Colada Shrimp Bowl: Lettuce, cucumbers, red onion, jalapenos, & avocado slices drizzled with a lime-ginger-honey vinaigrette / pineapple-basil salsa / baked coconut shrimp / roasted peanuts & black sesame seed garnishProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

spring has sprung

I’ll officially be drooling my way into spring. Anthropologie‘s new house & home collection dropped recently, with over 1000s of new arrivals for the vintage-chic-boho-interior-design obsessed girl like myself. There is also a sassy spring home lookbook to go along with it, providing beautiful photo inspirations on how to incorporate their new decor pieces into your interior look. I’m loving the more modern-esque lines used in some of their new furniture pieces, offset of course with vintage details, lush velvet fabrics, and vibrant chic patterns and textures characteristic to the Anthro brand. I’ve sourced a few of my favorite pieces, although everything in the collection is seriously to die for. (Check it out for yourself here) .

from THE INSPIRED HOME // digital look bookimage

 

lemongrass & lime

Lemongrass. Kaffir lime leaves. Galangal Root. Banana leaves. Tamarind. Rambutans. Durian Fruit. Dried shrimp paste (warning: stay away from this one at all costs). These are some of the new ingredients that I uncovered on my most recent adventure/culinary journey across Thailand (read about it here!). If you know me, you know that a post based solely on the food from our trip was obviously in order. I’m a Thai food junkie, so for me, the chance to visit the motherland and uncover rainbows of curries, pan fried noodles adorned with peanuts, and rices laced with pineapple chunks was truly an awe-inspiring experience.

Before venturing to Southeast Asia, I was slightly nervous about the food. I’m familiar with the Western versions of Thai food..but I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. My worry stemmed from the Anthony Bourdain in Thailand episode, where he went cross-country to hunt down a bowl of a Thai speciality, Cow’s Blood Soup. This, paired alongside my ideology that people casually hang around enjoying grilled scorpions on a stick, or deep fried maggots and cockroaches–left me with an anxious feeling.

Half way through our first meal in Thailand, I knew I had entered a full-fledged food Heaven. Everything is so vibrant, flavorful, and rich. Everything also comes served in hollowed out pineapple shells, or adorned with 10 orchids. Eating our way across Thailand was an experience I’ll cherish forever, and it advanced my food knowledge and shocked my taste buds in amazing ways. So, I’ve decided to highlight some of the Thai ingredients and flavors we uncovered (what to try and what to stay the hell away from), along with some of my favorite meals. (Just in case anyone reading this feels like venturing to their local Asian market and getting weird, or hopping on a plane and soaking up the Thai flavors first-hand).

e n j o y !

my photos // meals & ingredients

green papaya salad (top)-one of the most popular salads of Thailand and a must try.  A combo of raw shredded green papaya, carrots, and roasted peanuts/tomato/long beans in a tangy vinaigrette. Kind of like the Thai version of slaw>>>NOTE: The vinaigrette in this salad contains fish sauce, a widely used condiment across SE Asia. Made from fermented anchovies, fish sauce is used in a lot of Thai food, and for the most part it blends in. However, some dishes (often salads) go heavy on it in the dressings, and it is a serious mouthful. When used heavily, it tastes and smells like a straight up fishy-vinegar combo. Watch out for generous amounts of it, seriously. Additionally, a thing called Shrimp Paste exists in these parts of the world. Exactly as it sounds: shrimp, pulverized into a grey-ish goopy looking paste. I’m not very familiar with this item, and I would like to keep it that way. I do know, however, that I made the mistake of ordering a dish one time that highlighted this ingredient, called “stir fried chicken with shrimp paste.” I was trying to be adventurous, and it completely backfired. Do yourself a favor, and stay away from any food that directly identifies shrimp paste in the title at all costs. 

Rambutans (top): a funky looking spike-y fruit. You have to pry it open and on the inside is a soft, sweet ball of fruit. Similar to the texture of a melon. They snack on these little fruit balls and in some bars they use them to chase tequila, in lieu of lime and salt. 

Pad-See-U (top left): a pan fried noodle dish (similar to the national dish of Thailand that everyone knows, Pad Thai).  Pad-see-u is made with a thicker, brown soy-based sauce, is more vegetable heavy, and uses wide rice noodles vs. the thin noodles in Pad Thai. Both are delicious but Pad-See-U is a bit more hearty (perhaps a better choice for a 2 am intoxicated snack). 

Hot banana in coconut milk (bottom left): BEST DESSERT IN THAILAND…this is so simple and exactly as the name implies. Its a hot coconut milk base, sweetened with sugar, and served with warm, cooked bananas. Sometimes they add cinnamon. So comforting and delicious, even on the hottest of days. Must must must have. Also, Mango Sticky Rice (pictured further down) is the other most popular Thai dessert dish. The idea of rice sounds weird for a sweet treat..but it is so soft and sticky, almost pudding like, and its doused in a hot sweet milk concoction. Served alongside perfectly ripe juicy mangos, this dish somehow works and is so delicious. 

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Tom Kha Kai (Thai chicken coconut soup)

Bottom Right, Melonz,  photo credit: Kaley Smith

Durian Fruit (top): large, spiny fruit common across SE Asia. However, the Durian fruit is best known for its horrendous smell. The edible flesh emits a very distinctive and raunchy odor even when the outer husk is still on. It is widely recognized as revolting, and there are signs on public transportation and in hotel rooms that actually ban the fruit, and you can be fined if caught bringing it onto the premises. I’ll leave with this quote, which I think best describes the overall attitude towards the fruit: 

“.. its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia.”  (-Richard Sterling)

not my photos // other delicious Thai favorites 

Top left,  Thai Red Curry Shrimp Noodle Soup  2. Top right, Panang Curry with Pork & Squash  3. Bottom right, Thai Green Curry 4. Bottom Left, Yellow curry with chicken and potatoes

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top & bottom left:  Thai Pineapple Fried Rice with Shrimp,  bottom right: Pad-See-U Noodles

Top: Mango Sticky Rice, bottom left: Thai Iced Tea, bottom Right: Hot Banana in Coconut Milk

top left: Pad Thai,  top right: Making yellow curry paste, Bottom left & right: Laab Moo-Pork Salad

nyc dreams

My lifelong dream of moving to NYC is taking shape…which leads to constant daydreaming and lusting over my dream apartment (which may, at first, translate into a 2 x 4 space in a sketchy alley in China Town). However, I know that with my design touch (and my equally stylish interior designer roommate) and my attention to detail, we can transform a less than perfect space into an urban oasis. Here are a few of my uptown bohemian apartment inspos:

 

bowl’d up

Bowls have officially taken over the trendy food scene (this article confirms it). My infatuation with piling everything into a bowl stems from my deep-rooted love for a jam-packed, rainbow filled burrito bowl. Half of the fun is fixing up the toppings in a stylish, aesthetically appealing nature (food stylist…that’s a real thing. Aka my dream job). I love taking my favorite meals and giving them a face-lift into bowl form. Additionally, bowls are the perfect anchor to load up on vegetables, grains, & fresh herbs—dropping the heavy pastas, breads, tortillas, etc. And, being that bowls are literally an endless heaping pile of ingredients, the flavor profiles are endless. Here a few of my sexy-stylish bowl creations:

my bowls //

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Spring Veg Bowl: Beets, diced grilled chicken breast, pecans, avocados & sauteed zuchinni on a bed of lemon-and-herb dressed quinoa/arugula salad mix

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Chipotle who?? Elevated Burrito Bowl: black bean puree, lime-infused brown rice, and spice rubbed grilled chicken and shrimp. Topped with an avocado-cilantro crema

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Mexican chicken scramble brunch bowl

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Valentine’s Day Smoothie bowl: A berry-banana-rhubarb smoothie topped with raspberry puree, chocolate drizzle and dark chocolate chunks, granola with craisins, chopped walnuts, chia seeds and grapefruit segments

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Asian Salmon Bowl: ginger dressed salad greens, soy-marinated grilled onions, fresh ginger infused brown rice, macadamia nuts and a beautiful piece of soy-citrus grilled salmon

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Summer Sass Bowl: Grilled chicken & zuchinni, pomegranate seeds, chopped almonds, and avocado atop a bed of mint and basil quinoa, all drizzled with a light honey mustard lemon vinaigrette .

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Greek Salmon Bowl: Lemon baked salmon, tossed salad with feta and a lemon & red wine dressing, avocado, quinoa-parsley salad, olive tapenade, and a smear of basil white bean hummus

Beet Bowl: Orange marinated beets, orange segments, avocado, sharp white cheddar, honey roasted peanuts & red onion atop a balsamic dressed lettuce blend and a balsamic glaze drizzle

Thai Citrus Bowl: Brown rice and lettuce mix dressed with a lime-ginger dressing, basil lime baked chicken, avocado, orange, almond slivers, carrots, red onion, and cabbage slaw

Kung Pao Bowl: Chinese chili and garlic stir fried chicken & veggies, a soy glaze, brown rice, peanuts, fresh basil, and avocado.

Greek Chicken Bowl:  White bean hummus spread, roasted red peppers, homemade croutons, chicken, and a quinoa-lettuce mix dressed with an olive oil lemon dressing

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Cinco De Mayo Bowl: Garlic-lime dressed kale, roasted corn, cumin rubbed roasted vegetables, salsa & guac, shredded monterrey jack, chicken.

 

8th wonder of the world

In August 2015, I discovered a completely magical place. A place I have daydreamed about finding for years. A place I have envisioned myself stopping by after a long day of work, as my way of relaxing. No, I’m not talking about a spa, Disney World, or an-all-you-can-drink alcohol buffet. I am talking about the ultimate food lovers dream…a cornucopia of smells, flavors, cultures.  This 8th wonder of the world is better known as BOROUGH MARKET in London. I have been to my share of food havens (coming from a person who used to go wander around the aisles of Whole Foods for fun). I love farmers markets, organic shops and farms. Any place where I can go and aimlessly meander around looking at food, while picking up on new ingredients and flavors and concocting recipes in my head as I go along.

Borough Market is located in the heart of London, underneath London Bridge. It is the only independently run market in all of London. The market dates back to 1756, still in the same location.  I was most astounded at the variety of things going on in this place. The market boasts over a 100 individual stalls, with local artisan meats, cheeses, produce, vegetables, drinks and flowers along with a huge variety of international fare. To top it off there is a food truck lot outside with cuisines galore (goat milk ice cream sundaes, anyone?) There are literally about 17 different vendors here that only sell varieties of cheese. But, let me cut to the good stuff. Here is a sample of what I saw in my 4 hour venture around Borough market:

cheeses raised on local British, French, Italian, Swiss, and Irish farms. Meats imported from Spain, Gelatos handcrafted from the boys in the North of Italy. Locally crafted liquors, Wines from vineyards in France, Whiskeys from Ireland, a beer Shoppe from Germany, an espresso bar from Italy, and teas imported from India and around the UK. A giant selection of the freshest meat and still-swimming seafoods, and an oyster bar. Spice and condiment shops to be paired with freshly baked breads and pastries made by plump French ladies in flour-dusted chef hats. A shop selling fresh pastas (you can watch the guys in the back rolling the pasta sheets out), and a stall specializing in craft sangria flavors. A full on jungle-themed shop, with tropical flowers everywhere. A stall that sells only different varieties of mushrooms from around the world. A craft paella stand. Freshly pressed juices and an organic smoothie bar. An olive oil boutique. A stall specializing in truffles, and truffle-infused oils. There is even a French stall that sells antiques.

Borough Market quickly made its way to the top rankings of my ongoing favorite-places-in-the-world-list.  Just walking around for a couple of hours will entirely expand your knowledge of food and worldly cuisines. The market embodies a hustling, vibrant atmosphere with the buzzing of different languages alongside aromas sent down from the Heavens. This place is a truly gratifying learning experience with lots of free samples. An experience where all 5 senses are awoken and stimulated in new ways. Thank you London, you’ve outdone yourself again.