Thursday, August 22, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring 2013 Announcement

Hi Everyone,

For a variety of reasons, Esculent Dreams (both the official site and this blogspot page) will be offline until Summer 2013. Thank you for your understanding and support. In the meantime, ED will be on Twitter and Instagram, so make sure you're following there! If you have any questions, just send me a message :)


Monday, February 11, 2013

Popchips Giveaway!

Two things:
  1. Esculent Dreams is currently in the process to become! That's right, no more "blogspot" will be found in that lengthy URL... Unfortunately, I don't anticipate for the new site to be up until mid/late-June - building a website is a lot of work, especially when transferring a ton of content from the old site.
  2. Because most of my attention will be focused on creating the new and improved Esculent Dreams, my posts will be a bit irregular for these next few months. The upside? Popchips was gracious enough to send me a box of their wonderful line of tortilla chips for a giveaway!

My top picks for healthy snacks generally include whole fruits and veggies, but when I have a craving for carbs, it's all I can do to stop myself from reaching inside the cereal box. Cereal is great and all, but it's also my #1 weakness when it comes to binge snacking. Thank goodness for alternatives like these awesome Popchips! Since I already love the taste of (regular) potato Popchips, I was amazed when I sampled their tortilla line at FitBloggin'. What else, these chips are more than just for dipping, the famous Chef Aaron Sanchez came up with awesome recipes for some tasty entrees and apps - included in the giveaway prizes also!

The rules of the giveaway are very simple. From now until the end of February, four lucky foodies will have the opportunity to sample one bag of each of the four varieties (below) plus copies of Chef Aaron Sanchez's recipes. Simply enter by following the rules below! [Note: Although I'm using Rafflecopter, you do not have to create an account to submit an entry. You do however, need to include some form of contact info so I can alert the winners!]

Not one, not two...but FOUR winners will be selected!!! Contest is open to U.S. Residents only, from 12am 02/11/13 to 11:59pm on 02/29/13. Enter everyday for more chances to win!

Even though I love all the flavors equally, Chili Limon is a fun twist on "typical" chip flavors.
So many chips!!!

Best of luck!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Birthday ED!

Oh my goodness. I missed an extremely important occasion last Monday...

The 1 year birthday of ESCULENT DREAMS!!! =O

How was I so irresponsible to forget such a thing? Well around 2pm last Sunday afternoon, I felt this extreme pain shooting through my wasn't serious enough to send me flying down the streets in the back of a flashing ambulance, but my migraine did have me bed-ridden for most of the next three days. Thankfully, my head is feeling much better, but I've also had cold/flu symptoms for the past week, which has prevented me from posting until now. :(

Although the year has just begun, quite a few things have already happened for Esculent Dreams (i.e. myself!). So far, I've spent quite a bit of time (e.g. all of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day) cooking, baking, testing, and retesting a myriad of new sweet and savory recipes. While some are about perfected, others have a trial or two before they're ready for release to the masses. I've also gifted a whole lot of "healthy treat boxes" to some of my coworkers, and froze the rest for part two of past-due Christmas gifts - set to commence at the end of this month. Until those gifts are handed out, all of my gift recipes will stay under wraps (sorry!), to be disclosed at a later time. After all, I wouldn't want to spoil their surprises early, now would I?

My last two "Looking Back" posts have prompted me to reflect on the year 2012 - not just for my beloved blog, but also my personal direction in life. When I first decided to create Esculent Dreams, I would never have thought it would turn out to be such a immense learning experience. Not only am I able to push the limits of my culinary creativity, but my organizational, marketing/business, and managerial skills are constantly called into play because of the level of day-to-day work required. There have been many trying moments; times where I've wanted to "throw the towel in," so to speak, and yet something still keeps me going. I've sustained numerous bouts of criticism and accusation, and have been watched like a hawk to make sure I'm not breaking my (invisible) "pact" to the healthy world. More often than not, I've been questioned about my own priorities, by both the genuinely concerned and the obnoxiously arrogant.

Although the last year did not reflect an easy journey,  I have learned that it is one I will always be committed to nevertheless. Whether this journey continues to unfold in the form of a blog, website, small business, or just everyday life, only time can tell. For now, I plan to move into this next year with all the ambition, motivation, and determination to take life one step at a time. I wish I could promise a regular posting schedule, or even a larger online presence, but the unfortunate reality is that I cannot. However, you have my promise that I will continue to devote as much time as I am able to, because this simple little project has become an integral part I just can't live without.

Once more, I'd like to thank my readers for all the support you've shown this past year. A really exciting giveaway is coming up, so if you haven't already, go to the right hand side of this page to subscribe and follow Esculent Dreams all across the web!

Launching into 2013 - full speed ahead!

P.S. Don't worry, there will be a birthday celebration/blogiversary in the near future with all sorts of fun surprises and treats!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Back: Favorite Savory Recipes of 2012

Now that we've covered the sweets, let's move right along and take a look back at my favorite healthy savory recipes from the year 2012! Well..they might not all be from 2012, but that's when I found them :)

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed-Cilantro Pesto

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed-Cilantro Pesto from Bon Appetit:  Salmon can be paired with such a variety of sauces, and this pumpkin seed-cilantro pesto is no exception! As quoted from the BA Page: "We swooned over deputy food editor Janet McCracken's pumpkin seed and cilantro pesto when she made it in the BA Test Kitchen. Now we use it on rice, pasta, roasted vegetables, and chicken, too."

Vietnamese Steak Sandwich

Vietnamese Steak Sandwich from Eating Well via Everyday Health:  I really love the sweet and sour flavors of Vietnamese cooking. This sandwich recipe is wonderfully simple, and waistline-friendly as well! [Note: Although it's not as traditional, I'd prefer it this sandwich on a whole-grain bread.]

Summer Vegetable Torta from All Day I Dream About Food:  Whether in the form of an omelet, frittata, or muffin, I love a perfectly set egg dish. Unfortunately, most cooks these days are in such a rush (*ahem* my family), they tend to overcook a dish completely and lose the wonderful fluffy texture that eggs have to offer. As you can see from the picture, that wasn't the case for Carolyn! Her torta is low carb, gluten free, and so chock-full of veggies I get excited just looking at the pictures. :)

IMG 7694 thumb   Back On Track Wheat Berry and Bean Salad

Back On Track Wheat Berry and Bean Salad from Oh She Glows:
 After the butter-laden goodness of the Christmas season, it's nice to know that Angela's here to help us get back on track! Her salad recipe makes for a truly cleansing, yet satisfying meal no matter what the season.

Pork Chops with Apples and Thyme from Jillian Michaels:
There was no picture available, so I had to use the one of the one, the only....Jillian Michaels! :) Btw it doesn't matter if you're not a pork fan, because she'll kick your butt into making this dish anyways...hehe~ "With the mercury dropping outside (and, in some cases, the snow piling up), a hearty meal might just be in store. This hearty dish combines lean protein with sweet (and a little tart) Granny Smith apple to make your taste buds happy without messing with your hunger-hormone ghrelin. Add some simple puréed winter squash on the side to round out this delicious dish!"

Just a little over a day until the new year!! Whether you'll be staying in with the family or heading 'out on the town' this New Year's Eve, there's certainly no shortage of reasons for the whole world to celebrate this special occasion. Wishing you all the best that 2013 has to offer (I know there's plenty I'm looking forward to ^_^) and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Looking Back: Favorite Sweet Recipes of 2012

With the new year fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to do a recipe "roundup" of my favorites in the year of 2012. Below you'll find a few of my favorite sweet recipes, broken up by season, from some of my favorite bloggers in the healthy food community.


Cappuccino Cupcakes from All Day I Dream About Food:  Although Carolyn created this recipe in the spirit of Valentine's Day (well, sorta), I would gladly eat these cupcakes any time of year. Not only is this recipe low in carbs and gluten-free, but look how cute the cupcakes fit into the little cups!!!! Coffee lovers, I believe this would be deemed your version of dessert perfection.

IMG 3191   Strawberry Shortcake Stacked Pancakes

I've actually never made these according to Angela's recipe, but this recipe has provided the inspiration for a few of my own tasty breakfast creations. Fluffy pancakes that are bursting with the ripeness of berries in springtime. Layer on the strawberry-banana soft serve and you'll see what you've been missing out on all these years!


Strawberry, White Peach, & Basil Sorbet from FoodBabbles:  Although classics are typically hard to beat, I'm always up for trying new flavor combinations. Back in July, I came across this wonderful recipe while perusing the blog of my Foodie Penpal, Kate. Refreshing flavors harmoniously integrated as a summertime sorbet...forget the fact that it's nearly snowing outside, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Whole Wheat Coconut Tiramisu from Esculent Dreams:  After a year of blogging, this still stands as my favorite dessert recipe creations to date. Because of all the intricacies tiramisu requires, this recipe is a bit more complex than most others. Nevertheless, I can personally guarantee that you'll forget about all of the work the instant you take your first bite....and second...and fifth... ;)



Cherry Crumble Bars from Chocolate Covered Katie:  This September, I learned that "prime" cherry season typically lasts from August - October and nearly flew to the supermarket so I could throw cherries into every edible thing in my kitchen. I've been inspired by plenty of Katie's recipes, but this is probably one of the only desserts I've made verbatim. If you're an avid cherry lover, you'll flip head over heels for these bars!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie from Choosing Raw via Food52:  Last year, I made my first pumpkin pie ever for Thanksgiving, and thankfully it turned out to be a huge hit! This year however, I wanted to go lighter on the dairy (since the memories of digesting last year's feast still haunt me to this day). I came across this vegan pumpkin pie recipe last month, and it soon became my impetus for this year's Thanksgiving (pumpkin) creation.


Gluten Free Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Biscotti @carascravings

Gluten Free Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Biscotti from Cara's Cravings:  I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Cara is a genius. Not only does she create the most wonderful savory dishes, but I am always so impressed with the precision behind her sweet recipes as well! What's more, she's managed to develop a biscotti recipe that's gluten-free, an admirable trait sure to hold the envy of any modern-day baker. [Dear friends of mine, don't be surprised if these end up in your gift baskets next month!]

ultra creamy mocha hot cocoa 8612 thumb   Ultra Creamy Mocha Hot Cocoa

Ultra Creamy Mocha Hot Cocoa from Oh She Glows:  I'm not a huge fan of chestnuts, so when Jack Frost is nipping at my nose, there's nothing I want more than a nice cup of hot cocoa. Unfortunately none of the cafes (or even the ever-sacred Starbucks *gasp*!) can seem to get it right, so thankfully Angela has created a mix suitable for just about anyone, regardless of dietary need. [My sister actually gave me a can of light coconut milk a few months ago...I'm thinking I've finally found the perfect occasion to use it!]

Don't see your favorite healthy sweets on this list? Share them below! I personally think this list should be endless...but had to cap it off before things got out of hand hehe~ Up next, (you guessed it) my favorite SAVORY recipes of 2012. Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! My Top Christmas Foodie Gift Picks

Over the last few weeks, I've seen email after email linking me with "foodie-approved" gift ideas for the holiday season. So after taking a good long look through all of them, I've listed my own favorites below. Seeing as how today's Christmas, it may be just a tad difficult to find these gifts on time...but there's always next year! :)

I bought a similar set for my mom this past Mother's Day, and we still get such a kick out of watching the flowers expand! This is a great present for any tea-lover, and the clear glass adds a level of sophistication to the whole experience.

Okay, this one might be a little weird to the average person. But if you're like me, this would make a great "self" Christmas present any time of year! Good health isn't always about going for a run or lifting some weights. When your digestive system is out of whack, you know the toll it takes on your overall sense of well-being. Personally, I haven't taken one of these tests, but after the crazy struggles of my past, I'm definitely considering it! ;)

From the FOOD 52 Shop
Note: These items are only available for a limited time (usually in week-long periods), so get them before time runs out!

If I really wanted to indulge a little this year, I'd buy myself (or a very lucky someone) a subscription of my own! Alongside a cup of tea/coffee, this would make a perfect afternoon..
This should keep us reading by the fire all winter long. 
This is a truly unique gift for any home cook. Think about it...How cool would it be to own your own olive tree, and cook with the oil it produces?! :)
Your official adoption documents.

Layer Cake Slicing Kit: I actually bought this with some of my OpenSky credit a few months ago, but have yet to use it. Actually, part of me is waiting until I have a place (or business hehe) of my own. If you're a baker, there is no doubt you'd love this product. Perfect, clean cuts. No more uneven layers (and having to hide them with extra frosting)!

Pro Chef's Butchers Block with Prep Bowls: The perfect solution to all of those flimsy, plastic chopping mats. Mark my words: When I finally have a kitchen of my own, this will be one of the (many) first thing(s) I buy.

**For those of you who wish to give back this holiday season, here are two ideas to remember the victims of Hurricane Sandy and the Sandy Hook shooting:


From Roni Noone's "Inspired by #26Acts" post
This year, I'm hosting a game of Secret Santa for my family, and have spent the last few weeks furiously getting all of the details in place. Arranging the gifters with the giftees was the easiest part; the most difficult being the trip I made with my grandparents last Friday to help them buy their gifts.. it was like trying to mobilize a turtle and a snail.. (no offense, of course). >_< After the gift buying came the gift wrapping, card writing, and tree decorating - all of which finally commenced no earlier than late last night. While that may have felt insane, one of my uncles has actually been driving his daughter (haha my cousin) all up and down two states all day. ;) But at the end of it all, nearly the entire family has managed to make it under one roof, and are all settled in for a night of caroling and Hallmark movies. Weather reports have called for a "wintery mix," although we seem to be missing the "snow" part of it.

Merry Christmas everyone, and enjoy this special time of year - wherever you might be!


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