Egg-Crowned Quinoa

There’s something royal about a colorful dish of quinoa jewels crowned with the whites and bright yellow yolk of a “sunny-side up” egg. It’s a great option for a quick and healthy afternoon snack, or even a full lunch depending on your portion size.

Prep: 10 minutes     Cook: 10 minutes   Serves: 1-3 (depending on portion size)

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 Let’s Get Started:

2 cups quinoa
1 mushroom, finely chopped
½ plum tomato, finely chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
1 sprig of parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Chop up mushroom, tomato, onion and parsley. Set aside.
Put quinoa in a microwaveable bowl. Add two cups of water (or less depending on bowl size,) onion and mushroom.
Microwave the quinoa and veggie mixture for 5 minutes, covering the bowl lightly (I generally use a paper towel or a small plate.)
Remove from microwave and stir, add salt.
Microwave for five more minutes.
Remove from microwave and add salt, EVOO, parsley and tomato.
Fluff up the quinoa in the bowl.
In a greased pan, drop one egg and let cook until “sunny-side up.”
Remove egg from stove and place over quinoa.

Let’s Get Creative:

There’s a lot of leeway in this recipe to cater to your specific taste! I chose to use these veggies because they are what I had on hand and I find them to be extremely yummy together. Any veggies will work with this recipe as long as you chop them up.

Enjoy! Stay classy! xx

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Late Summer/Fall Trends: UD REVOLUTION

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Latest beauty haul thanks to Urban Decay!

According to the fashion world, even though summer has just arrived, it is not too early to start thinking about fall. Believe me, these are not thoughts that I am fans of. I mean sure, I love a good sweater and my black leather boots. But when the leaves start to change and fall off the trees, our color palettes usually turn just about as bare and dull as the empty branches. In the past I’ve experimented with chunky necklaces and statement earrings, both of which I do love and are still trendy. However, downgrading my closet and accessories to take from home to my dorm at school can become stressful, and usually a few important pieces get forgotten in the mix. There’s a new solution to this problem though, an accessory that you can easily wear and carry around with you wherever you go. And fortunately, Urban Decay has created it in the best late summer and fall color palette.

Love the APOCALYPSE shade for fall!

Love the APOCALYPSE shade for fall!

Urban Decay’s new lipgloss collection, REVOLUTION includes fourteen amazing vivacious colors that will brighten any dreary day and complete your look. I have tried five of the fourteen colors, APOCALYPSE, BIG BANG, BITTERSWEET, PUNCH DRUNK and QUIVER and am in love with the collection. The color stays perfectly for hours, so you do not have to worry about re-applying throughout the day. I like to add a clear hydrating gloss over it however, because I could feel my lips becoming chapped as the day went on. All in all, this new collection is fabulous and definitely a must-have for the end of summer and start of fall! Each gloss comes in a really cool looking bottle and retails for $22. I can’t wait to see what UD comes out with next. Check back for reviews of more UD products (blushes, eyeshadows and primers, oh my!) coming soon!

            Stay classy! xx

Classy Chocolate Chip Cookies

A classy spin on a classic childhood favorite. Best if enjoyed warm out of the oven, with a glass of milk.

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Let’s Get Started:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature*
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped Ghiradelli chocolate bar
1 cup chocolate Rice Krispies*

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Let’s Get Cookin’:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking
soda; set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed for about 1 minute or so. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir
in the chocolate chips and Rice Krispies by hand.

Use a tablespoon to scoop and drop small balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with wax or parchment paper.

Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

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Let’s Get Creative:

– Make sure the butter is room temperature… the cookies will turn out much better if you wait an extra few minutes for it to warm up!
– The Rice Krispies add an extra crunch to the cookies. If you prefer a more classic recipe, add another cup of chocolate chips instead!
– This is a big weekend for the United States! NYC is hosting a Pride parade today and it is sure to be crazy with excitement. If you can’t be there but want to show your support, add some rainbow M&M’s into the mix instead of regular chocolate chips!

Enjoy! Stay classy! xx

Little Luxuries

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The best midday snack!

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”

– Barbara Jordan

Maybe it’s a silly concept, but this quote resonates with a lot of us. These are traditions that were so imperative to our childhoods that we took for granted, and now would give anything to get to do each day. Whatever happened to having a mid-day break?

As we get older, it seems to only get worse. Not only do we restrict ourselves to diets and juice cleanses and vegetable cleanses and water cleanses and deny ourselves the delicious things in life — moderation still works guys! — but we also stopped taking breaks. The next time you go to work take a look around your office between the hours of twelve and two. How many people get up from their desks and go to lunch for the standard hour-long break? How many get up to buy their lunch, and then rush back to eat it at their desk? How many actually bring it and eat at their desk in increments throughout the day while doing work? If you haven’t noticed this trend before, I think you might be shocked.

The American mentality is a productive one, in the sense that we strive to look like we are making the maximum use of our time during the workday. Yet it is not a smart one. I don’t believe it to be necessary for all employers to provide nap rooms (complimentary milk and cookies would definitely be a good start though…) but there are other ways to maximize workday productivity that take only a small amount of time!

Did you know that a twenty-minute walk outdoors gives you the same amount of energy as a one to two hour midday nap? Or that five to ten minutes of meditation can increase your mind’s focus and clarity for the rest of the day? Neither of these options require even the amount of time you should be allotting to your lunch break but they end up making a huge difference in your day overall.

Maybe midday walks and meditation are the new “adult” nap time and milk and cookies, the new way to indulge during the workday. But on the weekends, and when these delicious goodies are on hand, this little indulgence cannot be beat, no matter what age you are.

Speaking of this buttery deliciousness with warm gooey chocolate chips nestled into it, nothing beats a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Check out my fool-proof recipe for Classy Chocolate Chip Cookies on The Classy Cook!

  Stay classy! xx

CAB Pudding

One of the biggest reasons people do not think they can maintain a healthy diet is because they believe that they do not have the time to prepare healthy meals and snacks. This may be the case for more complex kitchen creations, but this recipe has a prep time that’s as speedy as a NYC cab! Not to mention, it’s delicious, uses cheap, easy to handle and yummy all-natural ingredients, and it is totally vegan!

Prep: 5 Minutes       Cook: 1 hour       Ready: 1 hour 5 minutes       Serves: 6

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The cute & yummy final product!

Let’s Get Ready:

1 avocado, peeled and pitted
4 ripe bananas
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for garnish

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The cute & yummy final product!

 

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Cut up avocado and bananas and place all ingredients in a blender.
Puree until smooth.
Pour pudding into serving bowls and sprinkle cocoa powder on top for garnish.
Refrigerate for at least one hour for texture and flavor to develop. (The longer it sits the more flavor there’ll be! I left mine overnight and ate the pudding for breakfast and found the flavor to be much more poignant than the night before!)

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Let’s Get Creative:

This recipe can be modified into a smoothie as well!
You’ll just need the same ingredients, and 1 cup of soy, almond or regular milk.

Enjoy! Stay classy! xx

It’s Official!

It may be early to celebrate the actual holiday, but it’s not too early to celebrate that the Lunar New Year will be recognized as an official public school holiday in New York! Today, mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, (yes, I met him! There’s proof in the Photo Album), has declared that all New York public schools will have off for the Lunar New Year starting this upcoming year. What better way to celebrate than with traditional tips and tricks from one of the world’s beloved restaurant owners, Philip Chiang of P.F. Chang’s?

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Celebrating this incredible NYC decision!

Very few things have the power to bring a family together like a holiday celebration. Whether it is preparing the meal together, going out to eat together or gathering at the dining room table, holiday dining is a cherished tradition that helps us to catch up with family and friends by gathering together for a festive cause.

I had the opportunity to meet with Philip Chiang, a dad and the co-founder of P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro, who dished out some fun traditions and recipes for delicious food to help everyone celebrate new beginnings and good fortune. (Lunar New Year might come in February, but this recipe is just as good during any season!)

Behind-the-scenes of a P.F. Chang's kitchen with Philip Chiang himself!

Behind-the-scenes of a P.F. Chang’s kitchen with Philip Chiang himself!

One can argue that food is at the center of many holidays, and the Lunar New Year is nothing different. “Food is a very important way for families to celebrate the Lunar New Year. P.F. Chang’s is inviting people everywhere to share this special tradition with a meaningful meal,” said Philip Chiang, the co-founder of the restaurant chain. Chiang grew up celebrating the Lunar New Year with his family and has fond memories of all the children making dumplings during the wintertime, as well as celebrating with a three-day hometown feast where everyone ate and played mahjong together.

The Lunar New Year is known to bring prosperity, longevity and health, especially

And, of course, Philip Chiang, my plus one and I after the 8-course meal!

And, of course, Philip Chiang, my plus one and I after the 8-course meal!

if one chooses to celebrate with the proper symbols. Chiang gave us the scoop on a couple of traditions that he has followed throughout the years including both dressing and decorating with the color red, which “represents prosperity and also drives away evil,” Chiang explains.

Chiang was generous enough to share the recipe for his best-selling and most famous dish, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, so that everyone can have the option of celebrating the Lunar New Year with their family at home as well. The Cantonese word for “lettuce” sounds like “rising fortune,” which means that “the more you eat, the more fortune you will have.”

So what are you waiting for? Check out this super easy and delicious recipe HERE and let’s get cookin’!

Stay classy! xx

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry Romaine Wraps with Citrus Soy

ginger chicken

Recipe and photo courtesy of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.

Let’s Get Ready:

1 pound chicken
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dry chili flakes
3 tablespoons soy bean oil or vegetable oil
2 heads romaine lettuce, cleaned
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 ounce scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Dice the chicken into tiny pieces. Place the chicken in a mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons soy bean oil, garlic, chili flakes and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Mix together in a circular motion until well mixed. Let marinate in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Mix together the citrus juices, soy, and hoisin sauce with a whisk. Reserve until needed. Clean the romaine lettuce, chopping off the stem, peeling each “spear” and running under clean cold water. Reserve in refrigerator until ready to use. Chop scallions into rings and reserve chilled.

Coat a very hot sauté pan lightly with soybean oil. Lay the chicken around the sauté pan being careful not to lay too many on top of each other. Sear the chicken until crispy and golden brown, about 2 ½ minutes. Once chicken is brown, toss gently in pan and sear another 2 ½ minutes. The pan will appear to “burn,” but that is the carmelization and where all the flavor comes from.

Add ½ of the citrus soy mixture to the sauté pan and coat well. Let the sauce coat the chicken until it is glazed, and thickens on the chicken. Add more or less depending on how “wet” you want your mixture. Spoon chicken onto a plate.

Wrap the chicken mixture in romaine lettuce and top with scallion rings. Serve and enjoy!

Let’s Get Creative:

This recipe will be just as delicious with baby shrimp, fish or beef!

Cookin’ Good

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My perspective from the Art of Pie photo shoot.

There are certain moments in ones life where one can see his or her journey coming together and he or she knows that they are on the right path, despite being naïve to the final destination.

It is not by accident that one comes across a “ping” moment, because the purpose of such moments are to confirm that you are on the right path. In my case, I believe that it is no coincidence that over the course of the month of April through June (and through July) I found myself working at The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton Publishing, which focuses on lifestyle books; mainly cookbooks and guides for wellness. As well as Good Housekeeping magazine, a popular women’s lifestyle magazine that was founded in the early 1800’s. I do not believe it to be a coincidence that I have both met and tasted the amazing food creations of Gail Simmons, head of special events at Food & Wine magazine, as well as a Top Chef Judge and Host. And I believe that it is absolutely no coincidence that these jobs, one way or another, led me into the studio apartment to assist New York Times food writer, columnist and food photographer, Andrew Scrivani, during a photo shoot. (which has now led to a freelance personal assistant and shoot assistant position starting this fall!)

During the photo shoot my eyes were opened to a whole new lifestyle category, one that I love to partake in (as an eater and baker) and now one that I find myself interested in delving into deeper; as a food journalist and food blogger.

I believe that each of these steps has happened for a reason. Be it to help me grow as a person, to aid me in figuring out my true interests and passions, or even to get my foot in the door of my next adventure.

I also believe that it is all of these experiences mixed, blended and folded into one another that cooked up another interest — and possible passion — in me.

Check out the Photo Album for more photos from the New York Times photo shoot (capturing the beauty of homemade pies for a Countryman Press cookbook, The Art of Pie). And be on the lookout for the latest addition to Class and the City… The Classy Cook.

     Stay classy! xx

Weekend R&R

In my last post I discussed burnout and ways to prevent it. Fortunately, I followed my own advice this weekend and gave myself the luxury of spending a day at the beach. The weather was gorgeous, with the exception of a small sun shower, and I spent the day relaxing with my mom and three sisters.

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 Full of naps, yummy snacks, beach walks, and stone collecting and paddle balling (or wave surfing in the cold water for the braver ones of the family) it truly was a day to simply reflect on all of life’s blessings while appreciating the natural beauty that was surrounding us!

I have a Steve Madden beach mat with a pillow that is perfect for lying down and tanning or napping, all of which I did, and I started a new book. So many little things that just add up to a big bundle of summer happiness! I have come to realize that this kind of mental rest and physical relaxation is absolutely necessary in order to continue being successful with what one does during the week. And what better way to do it than surrounded by loved ones?

PC: cczochanski

This is especially an important weekend for this kind of bonding with Father’s Day sneaking up on us tomorrow. Though my dad likes the beach, he would much prefer spending a day at a baseball diamond, which is what we will be doing instead. It’s his day after all and it’s the least we can do to make him happy after all he does for us!

                   Stay classy! xx

6 Tips for Avoiding Burnout

I know it’s not just my lifestyle that is constantly revving at a go-go-go pace. During the week, I jump from one project or job to the next, relaxing only during my commute or the spare hour that I might be able to carve out for the gym. Although it creates a huge flow of adrenaline and productivity, continuing at this pace week after week can contribute to burnout. I can’t even begin to stress the importance of taking the time out to rest.

A few months ago I had the honor of meeting Arianna Huffington, the founder of The Huffington Post, after her keynote lecture in Manhattan. I had already read her inspiring book Thrive and knew the story behind this incredible woman. Hearing her speak brought a whole new element to the picture, not only was she incredible successful in her career, but she had started from nothing, having moved from Greece to the U.S. as a child. Her thick accent was something she addressed from the start; it made her different but did not make her have less value.

Arianna Huffington speaking about the best ways to avoid burn out!

Arianna Huffington speaking about the best ways to avoid burn out!

Arianna’s story changed the day she experienced burn-out, literally collapsing from her desk chair, hitting her eye on the corner of the desk before falling to the ground. What was the cause of this? Burnout.

I do not joke that a little bit of weekend (or weekday!) rest and relaxation is imperative not only to one’s career successes but also to one’s well being. Working each day with a three-hour total commute can be stressful, in fact, it is stressful. Most days I do not get home until around 7:30 and by then making dinner and taking a trip to the gym seem beyond my energy limit. But I do not let my weekdays turn into solely work. Instead, I’ve found some tips to help re-energize the working girl (or guy!) so that you can continue to do the things you love and not succumb to burnout!

  1. Drink lots of water. I know it sounds like something so easy and ordinary, but being hydrated keeps your entire body hydrated, and contributes to giving your mind more clarity and energy!
  2. Sleep! Getting your beauty rest contributes to every aspect of your well-being. It makes your mind sharper and your body ready for the tasks it must endure the next day. Taking the time to unplug and snuggle into your pillows is the perfect way to prepare for anything and de-stress before the next day!
  3. Snack, snack, snack. Bring snacks to work and don’t feel bad about eating them throughout the day. The hungrier you are, the less energy you’ll have, and the poorer quality work you will be doing.
  4. Use you commute to your advantage. If you take a train to work like me you have tons of options to do before and after work. I like to spend this time reading, writing or even power napping before or after a busy day. If you drive, you can listen to audio books! They’re not only for old people, I promise!
  5. Do a job you love. I admit that I have taken some jobs that I knew I would not necessarily enjoy for whatever reason, and they seriously took a toll on my mood. Working at my dream job right now, I’ve learned that it really does make a difference on your happiness. You spend the majority of your week at your workplace, waiting it out for the right one will definitely help you in the long run.
  6. Use your weekends to do the things you truly enjoy. Paint, bake, write, run… or if you’re like me, go to the beach! Give your mind that break it deserves and do the hobbies you love. This is a great way to rejuvenate yourself before the next busy week commences!

These are some of my favorite ways to get through the work week. If you have any other helpful tips, leave a comment, I would love to try it!

Stay classy! xx