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Gone Fishin’ + My First Blue Apron Meal

Good morning, coffee lovers! In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day. This is a serious holiday on my calendar which required careful calculation and strategy for hitting up the main coffee shops without over-caffeinating myself ;)

Dutch Bros. is a main coffee drive-thru in the PNW and as part of their National Coffee Day celebration, profit from every drink went to our local Boys and Girls Club charity. PLUS customers were given a full “punch card’ which can be redeemed for a free drink on your next visit. Another coffee hut was offering 4 drinks for $10, and my office even created their own coffee bar in the break room. There were flavored foam pumps (I did not even know that existed!), whip cream, fancy creamers, sprinkles, and coffee-flavored chocolates. My heart was very very happy yesterday.

The coffee love just KEPT ON COMING this morning because a brand new coffee shop literally right down the street from me had its Grand Opening today. They advertised free coffee all day, so of course I pulled in on my way to work. I expected the free drink to be black coffee. Nope! ANY drink, fancy as you want, all for free. They have Oreo Chillers and Rockstar Freezes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and something called a “Caramel Blondie.” Creature of habit, I went with an iced nonfat vanilla americano but I just might go back after work for something a little more festive. Depends on if I feel like going for a run first or not ;)

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Anyways, what I’m REALLY here for is to share the last bit of fun from my weekend that included a fishing trip and my very first Blue Apron meal. Last summer, my family vacationed in Mammoth Lakes, California and went fishing very early in the morning. I caught nothing. This trip, I caught so many fish that I had to take a break to let my dad fish without having to continually re-set my line! :)

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We mostly caught trout, and threw them right back in the river (after snapping a picture first, duh. It’s 2016.) It was so peaceful to stand in the river, look out into the forest and just appreciate the autumn day.

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That night, we got home feeling drained and lazy. Then I remembered that my first Blue Apron box had arrived on Friday and I had 3 different meals to choose from! I love that they come in refrigerated boxes with all of the ingredients pre-portioned. The recipe cards are so detailed and I really appreciate the photos of each step. I picked the “Summer Pepper Shakshuka” with eggs and za’atar. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked a Middle Eastern dish myself, and I think it turned out pretty dang close to the picture!

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There was something relaxing about dicing up all of the fresh vegetables. I threw them into a large pan and added the seasonings that came with my delivery. The best part? PITA BREAD. You know how much I love my carbs. The actual pita was already cooked, but it came in a circle like pizza crust. I got to slice it into triangles, toast in the oven and add the za’atar seasoning. They came out flavorful and toasty, just like they should!

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Fresh pea shoots brought some color into this dish! The protein came from farm-fresh eggs that were added to the pan at the last few minutes. It seemed like a savory breakfast-for-dinner meal, but breakfast is my favorite so I was completely onboard for that!

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My favorite part of cooking Blue Apron meals is how aesthetic they are plated! I know I’m not the only one who’s always proud when I serve a dish that looks restaurant-worthy. Especially with the Instagram food porn that makes a bowl of oatmeal look like pure art. Taking an extra minute for the presentation is one of those simple little things that is so satisfying, and I think every Blue Apron meal includes a very beautiful presentation.

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A little feta sprinkled on top and voila! I think the whole meal took between 30-40 minutes to create. It was bursting with flavors that were somewhat foreign to me. I’d never cooked with za’atar, shallots, or pea shoots before. Cost-wise, Blue Apron meals are considerably less expensive than eating at a restaurant. The meals are less than $10 each, but seasonal specials and discounts are always popping up in my inbox. Plus everything is delivered to your door and pre-measured. I’m at that weird transitional phase between an on-campus college student with a meal plan and dozens of campus dining options to living completely on my own and “fending for myself.” Since health and nutrition are so important to me, I hardly want to get into that bad habit of resorting to microwave meals for dinner every night.

I learned about Blue Apron through fellow bloggers PBFingers.com and HungryRunnerGirl.com & I think it is the perfect transition for me to start learning to cook whole nutritious meals!

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There are two more new-to-me meals from my last delivery to create this weekend and I can’t wait to try the Summer Udon Salad! (I opted for the vegetarian meal plan.) After a whole week of 5:00am workouts, I want nothing more than a lazy Friday night at home with yoga pants, Grey’s Anatomy, decaf coffee, and some time in the kitchen with a new healthy recipe. Plus all those Udon noodles will serve as my carbo-loading for tomorrow’s long run! Shelby, my running teammate, and I are going to try to get in 13 miles before the weather turns dreary tomorrow morning.

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Happy Free-Coffee-Friday!

XO Kenz.

 

Mammoth Lakes Local Coffee Shop Favorites + Basin Bowl Recipe

Good morning! I’m still in catch-up mode from my Mammoth Lakes vacation but I’m excited to share some reviews of my favorite (and not-so-favorite) local coffee shops.

Mammoth Lakes Local Coffee Shops Reviews Stronglikemycoffee.comYou  might remember from my Southern Road Trip earlier this summer that I have a travel rule: NO chain restaurants on vacation. You can get Olive Garden and Subway at home, so why not try out the locally-owned businesses that are specific to your location while you’re there? The rule applies to coffee too, so we keep the Starbucks to a minimum when we’re away from home.

Like the southern road trip, we intended to try a new coffee shop each day. That was going good and well until we walked into Stellar Brew Coffee House on Main St…..and came back 2, 3, 4, okay 5 times. #oops. The atmosphere, coffees, baked treats, breakfast bowls, staff, and charm made it the perfect morning pick-me-up stop.

But we’ll begin from Coffee Stop #1: Looney Bean

Loved it! The store was pretty crowded and dark inside, but there is a fireplace and outdoor seating. My hot americano was one of the better espresso drinks from a local coffee shop I’ve had. My mom splurged and got the raspberry white mocha which had the best flavors. Cute shop, great coffees, nothing super stand-out about the shop itself. All in all, it was a success.

Mammoth Lakes Local Coffee Shops review Stronglikemycoffee.com

#2: Side Door

Upon arrival, we were warned that the espresso machine was broken. That’s kind of essential for americanos/lattes….we were left with iced coffees as our only caffeinated option. We asked for a couple pumps of sugar-free vanilla and a splash on non-fat milk added to the iced coffees, but I’m not sure what the heck we got handed in our cup. The milk didn’t mix with the coffee, but rather left some stringy fiber-looking strands of white in the dark drink. We definitely tasted the sweetener but couldn’t taste any coffee. I also ordered 3 drinks, but the barista was finished with our order at 2. Rather than remind him that he still owed us another drink, we just tossed ours in the trash and walked out. :( I don’t think you can blame us for being “Coffee Snobs” with this one….it was just really terrible coffee.

#3: Schat’s Bakkery

(No, I didn’t spell that wrong. It’s European.) Oh, this poor barista was a hot mess. Schat’s Bakkery has amazing fresh bread and an adorable European store-front. My order was simple enough: 2 iced coffees with sugar-free toffee flavor.

Schat's Bakkery Coffee Stronglikemycoffee.com

While one barista worked on another order in front of the espresso machine, the girl making my iced coffees stood right next to her. So naturally when she poured the pitcher of coffee and the lid fell off, the coffee spill ruined not just my drink but those other two too.

When she cleaned up her mess and re-made our iced coffees, I noticed she “forgot” the flavoring. Instead, she handed me my iced coffee and a separate sugar-free toffee candy…… not exactly the same. When I clarified my order, you would not believe that she actually DUMPED THE WHOLE CUP OVER AGAIN. She spilled on their counter twice in one order! That’s when I’d call it a day (cry-laughing emoji). Poor girl, I hope she isn’t always this frazzled.

#4: Black Velvet Coffee Shop

This coffee shop is highly-rated on Trip Advisor and sits right along Main St. Seems like it’s set-up for success! I can’t accurately write a full review on this coffee shop because we never made it to the ordering part…

The sterile shop had the tiniest little menu board sitting on the counter. The barista didn’t greet us with a hello. The pastry box was almost empty. No customers sat at the tall tables. The vibe wasn’t what we wanted to waste our coffee stop on so we crossed the street to coffee shop #5.

#5: Stellar Brew

Before I start my rave, I’ll start by stating that I’m not incentivized to say this and I don’t know anyone who works here! Just in case you’re skeptical of online reviews ;) I honestly just believe in supporting high-quality local businesses and this one was awesome. Hippy? Yes. Worth coming back? Yes x 5.

Mammoth Lakes Coffee Shops Stronglikemycoffee.com

The covered patio seating always had a couple dogs with their owners hanging out and enjoying the summer sunshine. The inside has just enough of that “cluttered chaos” look where it’s charming but not overwhelming. Unique jewelry, handmade body washes and oils, and recycled glass bottles sit for sale around the counter. The menu is huge and full of healthy options like fruit & yogurt smoothies, acai bowls, and “Basin Bowls” which we recreated at home Sunday night (recipe below). There were also tons of not-so-healthy bakery items like Almond Chocolate Bread Pudding, Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake and Morning Glory Muffins that were incredibly difficult to pass up. I did cave and get the gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookie though, and I’ve never had anything with that nutty, crumbly texture. Confession: I got a second one the next day ;) #vacationmode

Mammoth Lakes Coffee Shops Stellar Brew Basin Bowl Stronglikemycoffee.com

I tend to stick with hot and cold americanos when I order coffee to-go and I’ll add in non-fat milk, but I couldn’t help but steal some sips of my parent’s more fancy drinks. The Stellar Brulee was all of our favorites, hot and iced. It’s a caramel white chocolate mocha latte ( so basically….dessert in a cup.) but another equally amazing concoction was the Trail Mix Mocha. There is definitely a hippy vibe going on and the service wasn’t particularly speedy but it was definitely worth the wait. By far the best coffee shop in Mammoth!

Aside from the 12 coffee drinks, two cookies and slice of coffee cake we ordered from the little cafe, we really loved the Basin Bowl (and apparently locals love it too. Someone was always ordering one each time we were in  line!) The Basin Bowl is a power bowl of brown rice, kale, carrots, tomatoes, beets, Bragg’s liquid aminos, an over-easy egg, and some tzatziki sauce on the side. It was the perfect blend, with lots of garlic-y flavor and we thought it’d be easy enough to recreate at home. Sunday night, we blended up some raw cauliflower in the food processor to turn into a rice texture and lightly sauteed in a pan over the stove to replace the brown rice. It’s all about presentation ;)

Homemade Basin Bowl Clean Eating Power Bowl Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com

Basin Power Bowl Recipe (adapted from Stellar Brew)

  • 1 head cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into large chunks
  • 3 cups of baby kale, rinsed
  • 1 large carrot, grated into long thin strips
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cup shoestring beets
  • Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 Tbs. garlic
  • 1 Tbs. black pepper
  • Optional: rinsed black beans or garbanzo beans; protein source of choice (chicken, tofu, egg, cashews, etc.)
  1. In a large food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it turns into a rice-like texture.
  2. Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil and garlic, and sautee the cauli-rice for about 5 minutes. It will become slightly toasty. Add in the baby kale and pepper, then cover with a lid for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In your serving bowl, combine the cauli-rice, kale, carrots, tomatoes, beets, beans and protein. Add liquid aminos (if you do not have/like liquid aminos, I would recommend a vinagrette salad dressing!)
  4. Take a picture becuase it’s Instagram worthy ;)

So we’ve covered coffee & running in Mammoth….and I’ve got a few cool adventure stories to share with you tomorrow before we get back into normal everyday healthy living stuff.

XOXO.

TBT #4: Homemade Honey Latte

It’s Thursday again which means another reason to bring up a blast-from-the-past post! I love combing through old posts from a couple years ago, some I had completely forgotten about. Speaking of throwbacks, guess which 90’s idol just made her way onto my Spotify playlist..?

The one and only, Shania. A Buzzfeed article compiled old music videos like Honey, I’m Home and Any Man of Mine. Songs that I haven’t listened to in forever but still know every word.  I started thinking about other 90s music of my mom’s that I used to listen to before I got into my own Britney Spears and N’SYNC phase. Dixie Chicks, The Go-Go’s, Billy Gilman, and Donna Lewis come to mind. Good times.

Before I sign off and leave you with today’s #tbt, I can’t not mention the fact that spring break is 24 hours away!

After the New York trip and my procedures were postponed, I scrambled for new spring break plans. The extreme weather on the East coast made travel too risky, and my friends at different universities all have different spring breaks. Looks like a stay-cation for this girl, which includes:

  • Unplug from technology (or at least use less of it)
  • Read novels, blogs & magazines
  • Go for runs, walks and bike rides outside (getting ready for May’s marathon!)
  • Try something new at the gym or take a class
  • Download new music for a solo car ride
  • Cook a new recipe/create a new cocktail
  • Decorate the graduation hat (!!!)
  • Continue the endless job search
  • Take pictures and write new blog posts
  • Start planning my post-graduation Tour de South vacation

Give or take a few other exciting events I’m looking forward too. The fact that the above list does not contain “group project meeting” or “8:00am digital marketing class” is enough to make me happy. :)

~~~~~

Homemade Honey Latte

Originally Posted on October 22, 2012

It’s been a while since I posted a coffee recipe! Once upon a time, Starbucks made a Honey Latte. They were my favorite, and I was hooked. One day, after ordering an Iced Honey Latte, the barista told me they were seasonal, and no longer on the menu. It was honey heartbreak. (But seriously, what season is honey in anyways?!)  I have waited for them to return with no luck, until this morning, when I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I know honey is practically tea’s best friend, but it sure works with coffee too. If you like your latte’s sweet, this is a perfect alternative to a pump of white chocolate syrup. It’s sweet and delicious and melts into the steamed milk like dulce de leche.

No espresso maker, no problem. All you need is a coffee maker and a stovetop. This was the first time I tried steaming my milk in a sauce pan and it worked out great!

Honey Latte (Version 1)

  • 2 shots espresso or 1/4 cup STRONG coffee (like my title ;) )
  • 1 Cup (8 fl. oz.) non-fat milk
  • 1 Tablespoon pure honey

Heat the milk in a sauce pan. After about 3 minutes, add in the honey and whisk together. Heat until it is steamy, but not boiling. Whisk rapidly to produce a little “foam”. (I also have a “frother” from the gadget section of Bed, Bath & Beyond to make this a little more legit looking.)

Pour your espresso/coffee, into your coffee mug. Pour the honey milk into the coffee.

Wanna twist? Try Honey NUT Latte:

Instead of regular non-fat milk, substitute unsweetened Almond Milk, or add a drop of almond extract to your honey milk mixture in the saucepan. Go nuts!

So there, Starbucks. I don’t need your stinkin’ latte, I can make my own. (But if you want to bring it back anyways, that’d be great too.)

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