Friday, September 25, 2015

A Veggie Inspired Baked Goodness

Ever since I read this post on Parita's blog at the beginning of this month, I have been telling myself that I need to make this!

So, after writing the Confessions to Self post, I decided to follow through on my intentions.  I craved out some time for myself Monday evening to relax and make Parita's Famous Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Bread

When I started to gather all the ingredients for the recipe, I realized I had a slight problem. You see, the only thing I had picked up from the grocery store was merely one zucchini. I figured we always have bananas on hand and I pretty much forgot to read the recipe for rest of the ingredients. 

I was determined not to let this stop me from following through. I started going down the list of healthy ingredients and ended up having to make several swaps. For example,

-all purpose flour instead of white whole wheat flour
-regular sugar instead of raw cane sugar
-olive oil instead of coconut oil
-pistachios instead of walnuts

**Sorry, this photo does not do this bread justice**

Almonds would have been my first choice to substitute for the walnuts, but this time my reasoning was quiet simple... zucchini is green and pistachios are kinda green. I told myself, I think that'll work! I tend to over think a little too much and worry about every little detail. I tired to remind myself to keep it simple and easy, and just enjoy the process of doing something I loved to do. It was actually quiet therapeutic. 

Since I still wanted a bit of that woodsiness from walnuts in my bread, I decided to use a trick I learned from my sister-in-law. She always adds a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg when making bread, pancakes or waffles, so I decided to do just that. I have never incorporated any veggies into baked goods before, but let me tell you... After trying this bread I am a changed woman! 

This bread was so soft and moist. It wasn't overly sweet like some banana breads I've made previously, but still enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. You can barely taste the zucchini in the bread, but when I really savored the bite, it's actually quiet refreshing to realize what's in it. 

This bread has inspired me to try more recipes incorporating veggies to make healthier versions of my favorite baked goods. For example, my husband is a huge fan of red velvet cake and I've read about using beets to make a healthier version. I was too skeptical to try it before, but not anymore!

This is what I love about the blogosphere! Connecting with amazing people, like Parita, and being inspired to try something new. Although my version is probably not quiet as healthy as Parita's, I'm still so happy that I followed through on my intentions and have been introduced to this new world of baking. Her blog is full of many more delicious and healthy recipes like this one, plus great tips and ideas about personal growth. Be sure to check out her blog, My Inner Shakti and give this bread a try... I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Have you tried a veggie inspired baked goodness?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Things Thursday: My DVR Line-Up

Here we are again... almost at the end of another week! I really can't believe how fast this month is just flying by.

Unless you've been living without a tv for the past few weeks, you know that this week is all about the season premieres for some of our favorite TV shows for the Fall.

So for this week's #3TT, I thought I'd share the top three shows I will be watching. Just FYI: I tend to stick with what I know... so these aren't the newest shows this season, but I know these are a few from my tried and tested bunch.

Let's set the DVR, shall we?

One: Modern Family

This one has almost become a classic show for me. It's like Friends from back in the end... I can pretty much watch each and every episode over and over again and not be bored. Just like Friends, it's also very hard for me to pick my favorite character... Chandler or Ross? I may have to go with Phil or Cam here... but it's just too hard to decide! This season I can't wait to see what happens with Haley and Andy. I call him mini-Phil. Each and every character is so unique and I love that the show always demonstrates that it's ok (if not great) to be different. It screams, be different and own your true self!

Two: Scandal

I'll be honest, I didn't watch this show when it first started and didn't think I could get into it. But after watching one of the very first episodes one evening, I was totally hooked... Chirag and I pretty much binged watched all the episodes on the weekends and last Fall it was so hard to wait a whole week for the new episodes. Towards the end of last season, when I wasn't sure I'd be interested in the show anymore, Shonda Rhimes pulled me in again. I think this season is going to be filled with unexpected surprises! 

Three: Big Bang Theory

So, I know I'm late to this party... as I always am, but I've been watching old re-runs of this show lately and I think it's really funny. Sometimes, you just don't have a whole hour to devote to watching a show. I haven't caught up with all the episodes yet, but I'm still looking forward to the newer ones coming up. I love how my nerdy, star trek-y side can totally relate to this show. But honestly, it's a great show for anyone to watch. I'm slowly seeing Chirag get into the show too. He is anything but scientific! 

Three + 1: Game of Thrones

What can I say? I'm a rebel at heart, but I just couldn't leave Game of Thrones out. Does this one even need an explanation? Peter Dinklage is seriously one of my favorites and I was so excited to see him win his second Emmy this week!

I really wish I had the time to watch so many other great shows I've been hearing about. How to Get Away with Murder is definitely on my list and I'd love to read about some of your favorites. So be sure to check out SalmaRaj, or Nisha's blogs to find out more about how you can link-up and share your top Threes (or Three + 1) this Thursday. ;)

What show will you be seeing your DVR to record?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Confessions To Self

As the title indicates this post is about a few confessions I need to make to myself regarding the past few weeks.

Part of the reason I started blogging was to hold myself accountable and lately I haven't doing such a good job. 

1. I have not gone to sleep before 11pm on any given day in the past month.
2. I have not been my own happy and turned to my husband to make me feel better.
3. I have not gone on a run in the past two weeks... or worked out for that matter.
4. I have not been patient or understanding this past week.
5. I have not counted my blessings recently.

What have I been doing? Working and worrying... a lot! I do love my job very much, but sometimes I  put added pressure on myself to constantly push myself.  Although it does make me feel quiet accomplished at the end of the day, I also start to feel very worn out and obviously there are trade offs I have to make in other parts of my life.

I am also a notorious worrier. I tend to worry about problem even before it occurs. It's my type A personality and need for always have a plan B. I not only stress myself out, but also those around me... or more precisely, the person who spends the most amount of time around me, my husband. In turn, this puts a strain on our day to day relationship.

Pretty much every single point above has bee due a trade off I have made in the past few weeks. I have made excuses for why I need to stay up to finish one more project or why I have let my emotions overwhelmed me instead of staying calm and patient. Majority of my worrier has also been due to the fact that I have failed to appreciate the positive in any given situation. I have failed to give gratitude and count my many blessings.

My hope in writing this post, is to confess these shortcomings to myself and to grow from here. For example, I did go for a jog this morning and I'm already in bed ready to turn off the lights as soon as the clock strikes 11!

Just like everyone else, I'm a work in progress and I'm getting there.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Desert Pizza

Recently, Chirag and I were invited to our neighbors', Shri & VJ's, place for some home-made pizza and drinks. We love hanging out with them because both of them are probably the most relaxed and practical couple I have ever met.

Shri made an amazing Indian-style pizza on naan with fresh home-made paneer (cheese) for me and with chicken for the everyone else. The paneer was honestly the best I had ever tasted. It was so fresh and looked almost like mozzarella balls on the pizza. The sauce for the pizza is similar to butter paneer masala dish by Vahcef. My mouth is watering just thinking about it as I type.

To stick with the home-made pizza theme for the night, I decided to whip up my quick fruit pizza for desert. There are several recipes online with slight variations. Here is my super quick and easy version.


1/2 roll of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough
4 oz of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread (original)
2 TBSP of sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extra
fruit of your choice

I just roll out a thin layer of the sugar cookie dough on a round sheet pan. Keep the layer fairly thin otherwise it will be too thick for your pizza. Depending on the size of your pan you may need more or less cookie dough. I bake it as per the instructions (approximately 15 minutes) and then let it cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Do not move on to the next step before your cookie has completely cooled down. Or else the cheese cream will just melt and you'll end up with a soggy pizza! I learned this lesson the hard way. :( Sometimes, I find it helps to stick it in the fridge for a few minutes after it is at room temperature.

Next, whisk the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract together. The cream cheese will become slightly thinner and easier to work with. I do a quick taste test here. Add more sugar or vanilla to suit your taste. I find that adding more vanilla compensates for using less sugar. Then spread the cream cheese over the big sugar cookie.

Finally, pile on the fruit of your choice. You can stop here or if you want to add another layer of flavor add an orange glaze on top. This is especially helpful when using bananas because the acid from the o.j. helps keep the bananas from browning.

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
2 TSP sugar
1 TSP corn starch

Bring the orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a shimmer in a small pot. Next, mix the corn starch in a little bit of orange juice in a small bowl first before adding it to the o.j. on the stove. This helps prevent the corn starch from clumping up when added to the warm juice. Bring it all to a low boil for a few minutes and then turn off the stove. The sauce will slowly start to thicken as it cools. Adjust the sugar to your taste. Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. Brush the glaze over the fruit and you're ready to eat!

I typically prefer to use fresh bananas, strawberries, and kiwi for this fruit pizza. Unfortunately, the strawberries had gone bad in the fridge so I had to improvise. I just used a can of mandarin orange and bananas at first, but it was missing something. I sent my mom and quick text and she came up with the idea of using maraschino cherries that I had in the fridge. Mom's always come to the rescue, don't they? Now, it was perfect and tasted delicious!

Have you had pizza for desert before?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Floral Skirt

The Floral Skirt

When I saw this floral skirt, I knew that I was attracted to the print right away. It has some of my favorite colors. When I started to play with how I would pair this skirt, I'm drawn to it even more! However, I have few reservations: the cost (although it's 50% off currently), the fit (cotton + spandex, doesn't always work well for my figure), and the shipping/returning. The closest J.Crew Factory store a little out of the way for me and I don't make it there quiet often. 

Although I haven't made up my mind about this skirt completely, I thought I'd still share some of the outfit ideas I came up with. I'm glad I experimented with tops that were anything but bright pink, which is what I would have gone to first. I love how all three looks turned out. The stripped sweater top is way outside of my comfort zone and inspired by this dress worn by Cassie. Ironically, it's also my favorite look. 

I hope I get a chance to try this skirt out in person. If you've been on a hunt for a floral skirt, I think this might be a great one to try, especially with the current sale. Happy (early) Labor Day! :)

LinkUp: #HowISummer

What are you eyeing this Labor Day?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

{Rewind} August 2015

August was a month all about family and friends! At the beginning of the month, we had an early celebration for Chirag's 30th. birthday and took a trip to Georgia to see my entire family.  This also gave us an opportunity to celebrate Raksha Bandhan together. My mom doesn't get to see her brother  very often since he lives abroad, so it was a little extra special that she got a chance to personally tie the rakhi on my uncle's wrist this year. We also saw my grand mother, our old friends with their growing families, and visited my sister in her brand new place. The morning of our flight back, we got the call we had all been so anxiously waiting for... it was time!! And thankfully, we made it back just in time for the arrival of our cute little nephew, Anand.

Having this little guy in our lives has changed us all so much! Anand means joy or happiness in Gujarati and this little guy has definitely brought so much joy in our lives. We are always eagerly awaiting to see him smile, burp, fart, or even cry.... anything and everything he does fills our hearts with joy. My in-laws also flew into town to spend time with the little guy and so it's been a great month to see both sets of parents.

Chirag and I always try to make time for our friends and family. Living so far away from them, it's not always easy, but I'm grateful for every chance I get to see them. It's also comforting to know that we are surrounded by some incredible people here, in Texas, as well. Seeing everyone at Chirag's surprise party really made us both feel so loved. Towards the end of the month we celebrated our friend, Omar's, graduation from a medical program. Plus, enjoyed a relaxing evening with some delicious tandoori paneer pizza at our neighbor's, Sri & VJ's. I also improvised and made my fruit pizza/tart for desert, which I will share here soon.... it was Radha's favorite, I think! ;)

Such an wonderful way to end the last month of Summer! Thank you, August! :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Tech Edition

Hello, September! :) I don't really consider myself a Fall/Winter girl... I tend to gravitate more towards warmer weather, but this year I'm excited for Fall. I'm ready for a change. It's time pumpkin spiced lattes, layering up with cozy sweaters, and feasting around the dinner table with family and friends. I think every season is a great time to re-boot and freshen things up a bit...from my home, to my closet, and even my computer.

This #3ThingsThursday, I thought I would share some ideas to freshen up the technology in your life.

One: Re-format & Re-organize

I have had my Macbook Pro for over 7 years now. It was the first major purchase I made for myself after graduating pharmacy school. I absolutely love it. It has never once crashed on me and has severed me well. However, last year I did notice that it was starting to get a bit slower. So, I decided to back-up all my important files, purge my pictures, and get rid of any and all files or applications that I had never used. Then I totally re-formated my hard drive. 

It was a nice clean slate and my computer felt like new! It was running faster, smoother and I was able to stretch it out for another year. However, last week Chirag surprised me with my brand new Macbook Pro and I'm so excited. Right now there are some great deals for students looking for a new computer or laptop. I also recommend looking for coupons you can stack on to make the most of the savings available.

I already have a new game plan for organizing my files, pictures, etc. I also spent a few hours the first day and went through all my contacts. I deleted people I hadn't spoken to in years or couldn't even remember, merged additional profiles I had on the same person, and also added notes and categories for groups of people. For example, for my in-laws, I added notes like husband's/kid's names, addresses, and birthdays! Sneaky ways to impress the in-laws. ;) I also recommend making it a point to review your photos. I love taking pictures and just in the last 10 days I have a ridiculous number of pictures of my little nephew. So, I've been deleting duplicates and being very selective on keeping just a few. I also synced my google calendar, photos, and in-boxes. This way I can keep track of everything, no matter wether I was updating it on my phone or on my laptop. 

If you are not in the position to purchase a new laptop, I think re-formating and re-organizing your computer is a great idea for a fresh new start. 

Two: Mint

I can almost remember the day I was first introduced to Mint. It was like angles were singing in the background. It wasn't very well-known then and I was very nervous about entering all my information in one place. Since college, I have been very good about documenting my spending habits and keeping track of student loans, etc. I would do this by using an Excel file on my laptop, but it was a very tedious job and yes, I would get lazy and not always keep up with it like I should. That was until Mint. 

I absolutely love Mint. I like how you can set budgets for different categories, roll over your savings or spending, and have a safe place to track all your finances. Every quarter, I like to re-visit my budget categories and make adjustments for upcoming events (i.e. Christmas shopping). 

I would highly encourage any college student to start their school year using Mint. It's a great tool to learn and take charge of your finances as well as your future.  It's also a great way for couples to have everything tracked in one place so that both parties can be involved in their finances together. 

Tip: The best advice I can give when using any sort of on-line program like this is to keep your password complicated and change it frequently!

Three: Unroll.Me

Speaking of Christmas shopping... I'm sure many of us having our email boxes flooding with Labor Day sale notifications from our favorite stores. I use to get very overwhelmed with the amount of emails I would get from stores. There have been times in the past where I have unsubscribed from all of them, but only to resubscribe when I needed a coupon or needed to know when something on my wish list was coming on sale. as totally solved my problem. I have been using it for a few weeks now and I think it's a genius service. It basically takes all your subscriptions and rolls them up in one easy to navigate newsletter.  You can choose the at the exact time you would like to receive your Rollup each day. When you're done you just have to one email to delete. It keeps my in-box looking clean! If I need to re-visit an email or newsletter I just log on to and search my archive for that email. It's so easy and convenient! 

Although I'm still burning up in this Dallas heat, I hope you're having a wonderfully cool Thursday where ever you are! Be sure to checkout SalmaRaj, or Nisha's for blogs to find out more about how you can link-up and share what's on your mind this Thursday.

What's your favorite tech tool or app?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Inspired Style on a Budget: June-August

June-August Purchases

Last three months have been quiet slow in the shopping department for me... and my wallet definitely doesn't seem to be complaining! I have mainly only shopped on three different occasions: right before the  Jamaica trip,  online for the Nordstrom anniversary sale, and a short recent mall trip.

For the Jamaica trip, I added three new items to my closet. I've talked about all three of them in my packing post. This yellow top has become one of my favorites and it goes really well with the turquoise necklace. I've been eyeing this necklace for some time now and love the color. It's a great statement necklace without being too flashy. It was gifted to me by my aunt last month. As for the cover-ups, I think these two will last me for many summers to come. 

I was very disappointed that the Trove leather jacket from my Nordstrom Anniversary sale post didn't work out for me.   The quality of the leather was incredibly soft and buttery, but unfortunately they did not have the camel color in my size. Considering the cost of the jacket, I was not ready to compromise on the fit or color. And so, the search for the perfect leather jacket shall continue. As for the rest of my anniversary sale picks: the leather pants didn't fit as well as I'd hope and were a tad too long and the puffer jacket was also a bit too long on me. I have kept the cardigan for now. After wearing my gray one last winter, I thought about sizing down, but I actually need a size bigger. I'm hoping to be able to exchange it soon and will add it to my next budget post if I'm able to get the correct size. As for these red shoes... well I'm in love! I'm planning on doing a style post with them soon and I think I'll be able to get good use out of them during Christmas time. 

I have been eyeing the  comfy jogger trend for a while now. Recently, on my quick Target run (no such thing in my dictionary), I grabbed these joggers.  I'm not sure that the link for these are the exact ones I bought because mine have a mesh material that gives them some textural interest. I think they will be perfect for a causal weekend look or while traveling. 

As for the clutches, they are a bit more expensive than what I would normally spend on a clutch. However, both of them are great quality and I believe I will get great use out of them both. The silver clutch has great sparkle on one side and the reverse side is a bit of a subdue shimmer material so it's like a 2-in-1 look. I got tons of compliments when I wore it for a party recently. Plus, I'm always reaching for a silver with most of my Indian outfits. I have only had one  silver clutch for the past 4-5 years and wasn't very happy with it. So I'm excited to add this one to my closet. I'm also ready to retire my old F21 black clutch that has severed me very well over the years. This black clutch from Aldo will be super versatile since it's a good size and has some nice textural detail on the flap. Both of these clutches come with detachable straps which are always a must for me. 

Accessories are generally an after thought for me and I never really spend too much money on them. I'm starting to change this as I'm learning more about my own sense of style. A great clutch or a bold pair of earrings can really elevate the look of that simple black dress. I think a few dependable, good quality accessories are a must-have in any closet. 

Regrets & Returns 

Update from my previous budget post. I ended up returning the lace crochet shorts and the white lace skirt. I just decided that I wasn't too happy with the quality or the fit of either of these items. The Sam & Libby sandals are good quality of the price, however the detailed gold rim is already peeling after 4 months of wear. Although the rest of the sandal is in great shape, it's a shame that these sandals probably won't last until next season. 

What's your favorite closet addition or regret recently?