Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What to Eat Wednesday: Blog Edition

I've got my eye on quite a few recipes from the talented world of cooking bloggers. These women amaze me with their ability to turn out fabulous recipes, photograph them beautifully, and post consistently! When I grow up, or should I say when this blog grows up, I want to be just like them. Seriously. I'll even take half as good as them and call it a day.

So here is what I've been daydreaming about lately:

Creamy White Chicken Chili from EatLiveRun. I'm thinking I might sub low-fat condensed milk for the half and half, greek yogurt for the sour cream, and cook it in the crock pot.
3/13 UPDATE: I made this and it rocks! Seriously, so good and easy. I was going to modify it and do it in the crock pot but I didn't since it cooks so quickly on the stove - only about 40 minutes cooking time. I made a few changes to the recipe. I used chicken breast and chicken thigh meat instead of just chicken breasts - mainly because that is what I had on hand. I only added 1 can of green chiles and 1 can of beans and added 1 large sweet potato cut into a small to medium dice. Also she calls for 14.5 ounces chicken broth - I just went ahead and did 2 cups. And to make it healthier I substituted nonfat condensed milk for the half and half and nonfat greek yogurt for the sour cream. I highly recommend you make this soon!

{photo from EatLiveRun}

Salmon in Spicy Garlic Tomato Sauce from BevCooks. This recipe will allow me to break out my trusty cast iron pan, which makes me excited just thinking about it. The only thing I think I'll change is omitting the dreaded caraway seeds. I hate those things. 

{photo from BevCooks}

Shredded Mexican Pork in the slow cooker from Lauren's Latest. So simple. I can't wait to make this.

{photo from Lauren's Latest}

Huaraches from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. I have masa flour in the pantry from the time I tried to make corn tortillas without a tortilla press. No bueno. These huaraches though, look like something I can handle. Adam won't like it, but I'm thinking vegetarian toppings are the way to go.

This little daydreaming of food list was compiled with the idea that I will make all these things this week or the week after we come back from New Orleans. I sure hope my daydreaming comes true because then my tummy would be very happy.

Peace, love, bloggers, and happiness!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sweet Potato Hash and Eggs for Two

Adam and I are trying to cut down or intake of processed foods, sugar, wheat products, white potatoes, and fried foods. I'm surprised at how on board Adam is. He's actually been doing much better than I have.  He's snacking on nuts, and (gasp!) fruit. He discovered he likes strawberries, something I've been telling him he would like for years now. While he has great self discipline, he still has a lot to learn about nutrition and healthy eating. I discovered this when I asked what we should do for breakfast after we finished a run the other morning. He suggested breakfast burritos (giant ones packed with bacon from Nick's Deli), he followed that up with, 'Breakfast burritos are pretty healthy.' Right, I wish. If they were I would be stuffing myself with a breakfast burrito EVERY morning. Duh. So instead of breakfast burritos I whipped up this surprisingly delicious and quick sweet potato hash and eggs. Because remember, sweet potatoes are good for you!

{*one of my egg yolks broke - happens to me every time}

I broke out my trusty, yet not used enough, cast iron skillet for this recipe. It's perfect because it gives the sweet potatoes a nice crisp and goes straight from the stove to the oven to finish off the eggs.*

Sweet Potato Hash and Eggs for Two
Serves Two


2 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 brown onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 vegetarian sausage, regular sausage or other breakfast meat of your choice or none 
4 eggs
1/2 avocado for topping
hot sauce for topping


- Pre heat oven to 400. Peel and dice sweet potatoes. Place them in a pot with warm water over them. Bring sweet potatoes and water to a boil. Place cast iron skillet over a medium flame. Allow skillet to heat up for about 5 minutes. 
- After sweet potatoes come to a boil check to see if just about fork tender. Don't overcook. Drain sweet potatoes. Meanwhile heat 1 tablespoon or more olive oil in pre heated cast iron skillet. Use enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

- Once the olive oil is hot, add the dice onions and sauté for a minute or two. Add the drained sweet potato pieces. Spread sweet potatoes in even layer and season to taste with salt and pepper.

- Meanwhile if using vegetarian sausage microwave according to box instructions.** Cut up cooked sausage and add to pan after the sweet potatoes have cooked for about 5 minutes and you have flipped them.

- Allow to cook for about 3 minutes longer. Crack eggs in a bowl (being careful not to crack the yolk!) and pour eggs over sweet potato mixture. Cracking the eggs in the bowl first ensures they all start cooking at the same time.
- Cook on stove top for 1 minute and then place in oven for about 5 minutes or until whites set but yolks are still runny.

- Top with avocado and hot sauce if desired.

** Any kind of breakfast meat would be yummy in this, I just happen to have vegetarian sausage on hand. Ham or Bacon would be delicious!

Peace, love, breakfast, and happiness!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Food From the Week / Weekend

This week was a good week! My current job is nearing an end and the going is slow. We all had a nice out of the office lunch and it was fun to get out of the building and socialize in a setting without computers. I landed another job and start right after our vacation to New Orleans. This is the first time in my freelancing career that I have jobs lined up back to back. AND it's a job I actually want to do, on a show I'm excited to work on! It feels really good to know I won't be unemployed and to know I can get work. I've actually been staying busy with work. This past weekend I worked on TV Guide's Live at the Academy Awards Red Carpet show. But don't get too excited. No, I did not meet Brad and Angie. No, I didn't get ash on my shoes from Sacha Baron Cohen. I watched the whole thing from the "comfort" of an ice cold air conditioned production truck.

So here is a little recap in iphone photos of the past week / weekend:

Our work lunch outing took us to Clancy's Crab Boiler where I continued my hunt for the best clam chowder. Verdict: this was a very satisfying bowl of chowda with a not too many potatoes. And the bread, oh the bread! It was hot, sourdough, crunchy on the outside, and soft ont he inside.

{Clam Chowder}

As a celebration of my ability to continue earning income I took Adam out to dinner at Michael's Pizzeria across the street from our house. This place is the brother restaurant to the fancy and unaffordable (for us) Michael's on Naples. It's tiny and loud, but you can watch them flip dough and stick authentic Neapolitan pies into a wood burning oven. They make their own cheese and for that they have won my heart. They even have a pizza with pistachios on it! How would of thought that would be so delicious? On this night we shared two pies, a classic margherita and a deliciously salty pizza called Campagnola which married egg, pancetta, and sunchokes in delicious harmony. That pie made Adam a believer of Michael's, despite their lack of pepperoni.

{Margherita up front, Campagnola in the back}

This week's dinners were simple, hence the lack of posting. I made Skinny Taste's Peruvian Chicken which is a nice way to turn a cheap pack of thighs and legs into something tasty.

The episode I produced of the show The Amandas aired on Monday and I got to see my name on screen. Fun!

{Story Producer: Michelle Branch}

I escaped from working in the truck for a quick photo with one of the many Oscar statues on the carpet.

{Oscar and I}

Show day in the truck watching Chris Harrison do his thing on the red carpet for TV Guide.

{Monitors in the Production Truck}

Hope you had a great week and weekend as well!

Peace, love, feeling happy, and happiness!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life Lately

I haven't been doing much cooking lately. Things have been pretty busy. Especially on the weekends, which is when I do all my shopping and planning. There was Superbowl, then I worked all weekend for TV Guide's Live at the Grammy's red carpet show, and then we went to Santa Barbara. This weekend brings another work weekend on the red carpet for the Oscars, and the next is either a work weekend or a trip to visit the parents in Havasu, and finally after that we are off to New Orleans for four days. The first few months of 2012 are already flying by. It's scary to see time go by so fast, but fun to stay busy. With everything going on I've had little time to cook, or at least cook anything worth blogging about. I've been surviving off simple meals and a lot of eating out.

{Cajun Snapper and Grilled Zucchini at Long Beach Fish Grill}

{Smothered Steak Fries from Beachwood BBQ}

{Dinner at Palate with Sabrina}

I do have a plan of attack when it comes to cooking and food for the weeks to come. Currently I'm trying to use up what is in the pantry, freezer, and fridge so that we can start with a clean plate and reassess the way we eat - mainly trying to cut out processed foods as much as possible. Having learned  from my Two Week Challenge, I think it's important to have a diet made up of mainly vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and minimally processed foods. I feel like I've been a pretty healthy eater the last few years, but I'll almost always choose a slice of cheese pizza over a veggie packed salad. But lately my tastes and cravings have been changing. I've found that I'm starting to crave things like spinach, carrot juice, and fruit. The carrot juice is a very new thing. There was this cute little produce market right around the corner from our hotel in Santa Barbara and they had the best fresh squeezed carrot juice. It was so refreshing and such a nice way to start the day that it's making me consider getting a juicer. I love the apple beet carrot juice from Robek's and it would be great to make it at home. But first thing's first. I need to prove to myself longer than the two week challenge that I'm making a change for the good. More fruits and veggies. Every. Single. Day. Then I get to buy a juicer.

What are your tricks to healthy eating?

Peace, love, health, and happiness!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Food From the Weekend - Santa Barbara Trip

How was your holiday weekend? Adam and I went on our 2nd annual tradition of a  January / February quick getaway to the wonderful little town of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is great because it is close enough to go for the weekend but feels so far away. We bring our bikes and abandon the car for the weekend. I love being able to ride around the city and take in the beautiful views. It also doesn't hurt that on a bike you don't have to worry about parking and are free to have a few beers or do a couple wine tastings. Thanks to the holiday this weekend, we got to spend two nights in this quaint little beachside town and we had so much fun shopping at the art fair, relaxing, enjoying each other's company, and eating quite a lot!

Here's a little tour of our trip around town eating and drinking:

First stop was The Brewhouse, a locals only type of place off the beaten and touristy path of State Street. I say locals only because while the service was good and the atmosphere friendly, the waiter opted not to warn us that the Habanero Pilsner is SPICY HOT HOT and is often only served in 4oz pours not pints. It was quite an experience to drink a beer that tasted exactly like a habanero pepper. I had a few sips and was amazed and interested... until I  was consumed with trying to get my mouth to stop feeling like it was on fire. Adam powered through the whole thing while I leisurely sipped my chocolate tasting bock.

{Habanero Pilsner and Bock of Chocolates}

The next morning we woke up early, having skipped dinner in favor of going to bed at 7:45pm (not my idea), and got to enjoy the peaceful quietness of biking up State Street before the crowds hit the shops, bars, and restaurants.

{Adam biking}

We had breakfast at the Cajun Kitchen Cafe and ordered the beignets in preparation for our upcoming trip to New Orleans. I've never had a beignet before, but it's basically a fried piece of dough dusted with powdered sugar, much like a doughnut. Heaven. We figured we should have at least one beignet experience prior to our New Orleans trip so we can compare it to the famous Café du Monde beignets.

{Beignets with Syrup}

The food was quite plentiful, and I only was able to make a tiny dent in my fluffy biscuit with apple butter, but I did manage to get halfway through the omelet and of course ate all my hash browns.


The big breakfast didn't stop us from making the trip to Cold Spring Tavern a few hours later to devour a delicious Tri-Tip sandwich! We abandoned our bikes and hopped in the car for the 15 minute trip up the 154 to an old stagecoach stop turned biker bar / restaurant.

{Ticket and Waiting in Line for Tri-Tip}

On weekends Cold Spring Tavern barbecues up some killer Tri-Tip sandwiches and bands play outside under the cool shade of the trees. After waiting in line to get the goods, people sit satisfied at communal picnic tables with a beer in one hand and a dripping BBQ sauce and salsa filled sandwich in the other. 

{Tri-Tip Sandwich with Salsa}

Next we headed back downtown and back on the bikes for a stop at Oreana Winery's tasting room and a game of checkers.

{Adam - he just lost at checkers}

{Me - the winner!}

After our nice little detour from beer we decide to get back on track and headed to Santa Barbara Brewing Company. Their beers were generic in selection, but good. And we split a rather tasty pizza. 

{Santa Barbara pizza with bacon, basil, and sundried tomatoes}

The next day we headed out of town and back home, but not before we stopped at Romanti-Ezer - a hole in the wall taco shop known amongst yelpers for their mole. And Holy Mole was it good! I'm not even that big of a fan of mole, but Adam had to remind me that it's not socially acceptable to lick your plate. 

{Ole Mole Burrito}

So, basically, we ate and drank our way through Santa Barbara and enjoyed every minute of it. And can you can believe there is even more eating and drinking than what is not shown here? Well, there is. Not pictured is the treat basket Adam's mom sent with us filled with peanut butter cookies and See's candy, a seafood dinner at Brophy Bros, and a stop at Union Ale, which had Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout and Sam Adam's Cherry Chocolate Bock, which tasted like an alcoholic cherry coke by the way, on tap.

Successful trip if I do say so myself.

Peace, love, Santa Barbara, and happiness!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fresh Friday - Cabbage and Managing the Food Budget

Hello! It's been a while since I've done an official Fresh Friday. But don't think that I've forgotten about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables! In fact, I took two weeks to focus on eating more fruits and veggies. Those two weeks definitely helped me reset the way I look at food. Now, a meal doesn't feel complete unless there is something green on the plate. And I'm finding that fruits make a healthy and delicious snack that I can get use to.

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables might make your grocery bill go up, but it doesn't have to. Plan your meals based on what produce is in season AND on sale. Each week, I get fliers from the grocery stores in the mail. I circle the sale items I want to get and then plan my meals around that. This is especially helpful with meat! I almost never buy meat unless it is on sale. When chicken breasts go on sale, I stock up. I'll portion them out into freezer bags and freeze them for later use in a recipe, or I'll marinate them overnight and then freeze them so I can just defrost and throw them on the grill or in a pan for a quick weeknight dinner.

The most helpful tip I have to offer if you are looking to eat healthy and eat at home more is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Seriously. It takes some time. You have to sit down with the computer, your favorite recipes, and the weekly grocery fliers. But it is so worth it! I have saved so much money planning out my meals and therefore eating out less, all while consuming healthier food. I usually plan 3 dinners. Lunches for the week consists of leftovers and possibly a separate meal cooked for lunch only. Breakfast is either the Green Monster Smoothie, egg white scramble, or oatmeal. I never plan 5 dinners because more often than not with our schedule something will happen and we won't get to it, or we will have extra leftovers, or we will just pull marinated chicken out of the freezer and have that. After I figure out what is on sale, I go through the recipes I have bookmarked and decide what to make. I try to pick recipes that share some of the same ingredients so nothing goes to waste. I then make a spreadsheet that breaks down where to get what according to price.  I have three main stores I go to - Ralphs, Sprouts, and Trader Joe's. More often than not I end up going to two stores, mainly Sprouts and Trader Joe's, to get the goods. Click --> HERE to see an example of my spreadsheet. Another great place to shop is Target's food section. If I'm at Target picking up household goods I'll stock up on things like shredded cheese, dry and canned goods since they tend to be cheaper at Target. I get most of my meat and produce at Sprouts on sale. It does take a little bit more work to be a thrifty shopper, but once you get a system in place that works for you, you'll discover it's not that much more difficult and the reward of having more money in your pocket for the important things, like shoes, is well worth it.

Speaking of being thrifty - let's move on to Fresh Friday: Cabbage. Cabbage is super cheap! It can be snagged for less than a $1! And it's healthy for you! Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin C, Potassium, and fiber. Cabbage also contains nutrients known to have anti-cancer effects.* Cabbage is also extremely low in calories. If you're thinking, yes this all sounds great - but cabbage is gross. Then stop steaming it and try roasting it! (For the record though, I do enjoy steamed cabbage.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 head of green cabbage
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive oil spray

- Preheat oven to 375. Rinse cabbage and remove outer leaves. Cut cabbage into fourths.
- Spray roasting pan with olive oil spray. Place cabbage wedges cut side up in pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
- Roast for 10 minutes. Flip Cabbage so cut side is down on the pan. Roast for 10 minutes. Flip one more time if desired and roast for another 10 minutes. 

- Serve warm with desired main dish.

*Nutritional information from here.

Disclaimer: To get the maximum amount of health benefits from cabbage it is recommended to eat it raw or minimally cooked.

P.S. I got a new camera! I real DSLR camera. I got the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. So bear with me and my photos as I learn to use it and work out the kinks.

Peace, love, cabbage, and happiness!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Where to Drink Wednesday: Golden Road Brewing

Golden Road Brewing is right down the street from my work and as a special Valentine's day treat Sabrina and I decided to head over there for lunch, and more importantly a beer. The space is really awesome. Industrial and warehouse like, but welcoming and hip.

I was very excited to try this place since Adam's company will be distributing their beers, packaged in cans by the way, in the Orange County area. Unfortunately, they only had 4 of their own beers on tap. I had the Get Up Offa That Brown. It was very tasty and had a nice depth of flavor. Sabrina had their Hefeweizen, which I surprisingly enjoyed. I'm not a big fan of Hefs but this one packs a nice banana flavor that was unique and enjoyable. Also, their guest tap list was impressive. Overall this was a great place to grab a drink. The outdoor seating was enjoyable and the staff was friendly and informative.

But there was one problem, the food fell just short of good. I mean, it definitely wasn't bad. It just wasn't great. It was missing that special something.

{Pulled Pork}

{Roast Beef}

I look forward to going back to Golden Road for the atmosphere and the beer and I will for sure try some of their other menu items before I write them off entirely in the food department. 

Let me know what you think of Golden Road - the beer and food!

Peace, love, beer, and happiness! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Heart Valentine's Day

I ♥ Valentine's Day. Always have, and hope I always will. Call me sappy, call me a sell out to consumerism, call me whatever, I just love to celebrate love. Why not? Honestly, give me one good reason why we shouldn't celebrate love? You don't have one do you? Because you like to celebrate love too. I knew it.

{My Loves}

We don't go out on Valentine's Day. It's too much of a hassel. And really what's more romantic than a quiet evening in the pleasure of your own home where you can talk as loud as you want, listen to the music you enjoy, dance if you wish (or if you've draken too much), and slip into the sexiness of the bedroom without having to jump in the car and drive home from a restaurant. 

Adam has requested that we do what we call "teppan night." We pull out the electric griddle and pretend we are knife-throwing-onion-volcano-making japanese chefs. Or at least I do while Adam gives me funny looks. The best part of this dinner is that it is interactive. Both of us get in the kitchen and have fun with the whole process, so I'm not just slaving away in the kitchen while he watches TV. I'm going to do filet mignon and lobster. Sides are fried brown rice and teppanyaki zucchini, mushrooms, and onion. I do my best to memorize and copy Benihana's methods, including the shrimp tail in the pocket trick. I'm on the hunt for copy cat recipes of Benihana's sauces. Tips are much appreciated. Plans for dessert are still up in the air.

Here's what I've been eyeing around the web but probably won't have time to make:

{Raspberry Pistachio Cake with Marscarpone Icing - Image and Recipe from Camille Styles}

{Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse - Image and Recipe from Eat, Live, Run}

{Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake - Image and Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod}

Since I won't have much time to bake anything I'm looking for a dessert that could be easily whipped together or done the night before. I have my eye on this Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding because tofu would go with teppan night... not sure how the mexican part would fit in, but oh well! One big problem... Adam isn't the biggest fan of chocolate. Seriously. It's very depressing. I've considered breaking up with him over it, but finally decided it wasn't worth it. So I'm stuck, both with my chocolate disliking bf, and not knowing what to make for V day dessert. I'm thinking about doing something fruit based, either with bananas or apples. Any ideas?

Have a very happy love day and remember to tell those you love how much they mean to you. It's nice to have a day to stop and take time out of our busy lives to focus on love.

Peace, LOVE, and happiness! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Things I'm Lovin'

♥ In honor of Valentine's Day here are some things I'm loving right now:♥  

1. Beyond obsessed with the new Bon Iver album. It's on repeat non-stop.

{image from here}

Fun fact: the name Bon Iver is derived from the french saying Bon Hiver, meaning good winter.

2. Loving Video Games by Lana Del Rey. It's dramatic, sexy, and fun.

{image from here}

There seems to be a debate going on about whether she is actually talented or  a completely manufactured (fake) pouty lipped product of a record label. Pitchfork has a good review of her full album. Regardless, I'm loving the single.

3. This steak from last night's dinner at Lasher's.

The food here was delicious but a little on the pricey side. Good thing we had a Groupon!

4. Mark Bittman's recipe for Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding.
3/4 cup sugar
1 pound silken tofu
8 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
Chocolate shavings (optional).
1. In a small pot, combine sugar with 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
2. Put all ingredients except for chocolate shavings in a blender and purée until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down its sides if necessary. Divide among 4 to 6 ramekins and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you like, garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.

I'm going to drastically reduce the amount of sugar and most likely use agave instead of granulated white sugar.

Happy Love Week! What are you doing for Valentine's Day?

Peace, love, and happiness!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lemony Angel Food Cake

Do you ever have one of those days where you stay home from work and watch The Bachelor on DVR,  rewinding each scene to make sure you digest every single bit of tantalizing dialogue, and then decide you absolutely MUST make a cake. Which has nothing to do with watching The Bachelor mind you, you just decide you want to bake a cake. And not just any cake -  a cake that requires a specific pan that you must go out and buy. No? You never have those days? Well, you should because it results in this delicious Lemony Angel Food Cake, recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart. 


{Cake Before Baking}

{Angel Food Cake - Baked}

{Baked and out of the pan}

{Angel Food Cake - Frosted and Topped with Strawberries}

This cake was delicious - bright and lemony, soft and supple. If you like sweet, you'll love the Lemon Cream Frosting. I made both the frosting and a simple fresh whipped cream, barely sweetened. I preferred the cake with the fresh whip cream and strawberries. It was heaven. Looks like I'll be putting that angel food cake pan to good use!

Check out the Recipe --> HERE.

Peace, love, cakes, and happiness!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where to Eat Wednesday - Palate

Last night I had a nice date with my friend Sabrina at Palate Food + Wine in Glendale. On Tuesdays they have $10 wine tasting in the back room. Side note - this place is huge! Last night it was a California Chardonnay tasting and we got 4 good sized pours of different Cali Chards. Delicious. The good thing about going to dinner with Sabrina is that we like to split so we can get a little taste of everything! So much fun! The only thing we didn't like was one of their "Mason Jar" appetizers - we got the potted pork since yelpers were raving about it. It was cold, and tasted like a mix of shredded pork and that liverwurst stuff my grandpa use to eat. I ate it, but only because I was hungry. Sabrina had one bite and said 'no thank you.' Everything else we were very happy with. Feast on the crappy iphone photos below (it was dark in there so I had to use the flash):

{Cheese Plate}

{Squid with Chickpeas and Broccoli}

{Sea Bass with Melted Kohlrabi (swoon), Endive, Brown Butter, and Hazelnuts}

{Dark Chocolate Pudding with Creme Fraiche and Sea Salt}

My mouth is watering all over again just thinking about this delicious dinner. And who knew kohlrabi was so freaking delicious? I'm hunting that German turnip down and cooking it up ASAP.

Peace, love, dinner dates, and happiness!