Driving Lessons Day 1

Today I went on my first driving lesson and it went surprisingly well. Afterwords I treated myself to lunch at Corner Bakery while I did my Con Law reading.  I had the tomato mozzarella sandwich with balsamic (of course, my favorite). Did you know you can substitute carrots for the chips with no additional charge? Excellent.

I love that the sandwich had arugula on it. So yummy.

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La Serenata

Last semester my classmates and I had Professor Volokh for torts. You might have heard of his “little” blog, the Volokh Conspiracy. Apparently it’s very popular. Anyways. During orientation he gave us a list of his favorite spots in LA to eat. Since we had no clue where to go for dinner the other night we went to one of his selections, a Mexican restaurant called La Serenata.

The decor and interior were nice. The restaurant wasn’t too large, divided into two rooms.

Per the typical Mexican restaurant, we had chips and salsa waiting for us. This turned out to be a good thing. Granted the restaurant was full and we were a party of 6 but man was the service slow. We waited for a very long time for our entrees.

Since Chrissy is being vegan for lent she had yummy guacamole for her entree.

After waiting for what seemed like forever our entrees came. I ordered shrimp enchiladas.

Overall, I thought the food was just average. Combine that with sub par service and it wasn’t the greatest dining experience I’d ever had. After we got our food I wished I’d ordered Michelle’s sopes. They looked so good!

I will say that the rice was very good. It had corn in it and was white rice, not Spanish rice. Overall, I found this place to be unremarkable.

Another Pizza Creation

Everyone knows that one of my favorite busy night dinners is homemade pizza. Usually I split the dough so I get two meals out of the dough. Once I have made the pizza I only eat half and save the other half for lunch the next day. This week I was out of goat cheese so I decided to use my favorite cheese of all time, Brie (not skim).

In addition to brie the pizza added tomato paste, red onion, spinach, garlic, salt, and pepper. The brie was so good melted against the dough. Tomato paste was a surprisingly good substitute for tomato sauce. This pizza would have been very good had there been shallots, but the red onion was a delicious substitute.

Question of the Day: What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Sprinkes Update

Well, I would like to say that I waited several days or at least one day before I ate the other cupcake. In reality I ate the black and white cupcake a few hours after I had the red velvet one… Better to be bad all in one day, right?

So good… I know that I’m committed to health but this cupcake is delicious! Can’t wait for another Sprinkles truck reappearance.

Christmas Comes Early…

…in the form of the Sprinkles Truck!!!

Today is another beautiful day in Southern California. I was enjoying President’s Day with a lazy lunch in Westwood with my civ pro reading. I was walking down Weyburn and I happened upon the Sprinkles truck! At first I thought it was a mirage. I had heard that there was such thing as the Sprinkles truck, but I never expected it to actually show up in my neighborhood. I hightailed it to an ATM and practically ran back, still thinking it was too good to be true.

There were four varieties on the truck. I decided to get one for now and one for a treat later. I got the Black and White cupcake and the Red Velvet cupcake. They come in little boxes, perfect for saving for later!

Anyway, I went on to have my lunch and when I got home I had my first cupcake, the red velvet.

Oh my god, do I love cupcakes. The frosting is perfect. Sugary, fresh, not too much and not too little. The cake is, literally, the moistest cake I have ever had. Yes, this cupcakes cost $4, but you know what? Sometimes it’s worth it and this is one of those times.

I literally may never leave LA. It’s 80 degrees and sunny today and this city has a roving cup cake truck with possibly the best cupcake I’ve ever had. Any city with a roving cup cake truck can’t be wrong. I’m saving the black and white cupcake for later. I can’t wait til later.

Dare I say that Sprinkles is better than Sweet in Boston? It’s a close call…

http://www.sprinkles.com/

http://www.sweetcupcakes.com/

Seared Scallops

This Valentine’s Day I felt the overwhelming urge to sear something. I decided to make a variation on a recipe I saw in Real Simple. I started by cooking my favorite arborio rice in white wine.

Then I got ready to sear my scallops. I bought large size New England scallops (<3 Boston) and defrosted then. I put a large dollop of olive oil in the pan and turned the heat up to medium/high. I made sure to season the scallops with sea salt and pepper before cooking them. I placed them in the pan and let them cook on one side for 4 minutes.

I flipped them after 4 minutes.

After another four minutes I transferred the scallops from the pan onto a plate. The rice had also finished so I transferred it as well. I covered the whole thing with foil so it would stay warm. Then I wiped out the pan. I put a smaller dollop of olive oil into the pan and added snow peas, salt, pepper, and orange zest. I cooked them for about 3 mins.

Holy yumm did it turn out good. I had a slight fear that it would be over salted but that did not happen.

I decided to declare yesterday an “off day” from my commitment to health. Saturday night was Barristers Ball and I woke up the next morning voraciously craving a bagel and cream cheese. Normally when I eat healthy I keep with it until I give myself an off day. One off day spirals into a week and before I know it I’m back where I started. I let myself have the bagel and it was so good. It was the perfect splurge. I went home and relaxed most of the day. I did manage to go on a great run. It was practically 80 degrees and sunny here in LA yesterday and I got into a groove and went over three miles on hills. It felt great and completely kicked my hang over. Overall, eating a bagel was great, but the energy I felt from my run was better.

After my scallops I had a canolli from Whole Foods. It wasn’t as good as a canolli from Mike’s in the North End, but it was still pretty delicious. Happy belated valentines day everyone!

I make steak and fog up my apartment

Being that this is a long weekend, I decided to make some really special dinners. I got Real Simple for March this week and in the mag there was a recipe for steak.

Disclaimer: I love steak, but as you can probably gather from this blog, I rarely cook meat. Not that I don’t love meat, its just more expensive and takes longer to cook. I love steak, especially a nice filet. If I’m eating a filet I like it to be fancy and expensive. Preferably paid for by my parents or a date. Thus, I almost never make steak. But, why not try something new?

The recipe is steak with a potato salad. I start off the potatoes in salted water. Once the water boils I reduced the heat and cover. Let the potatoes cook for 20 mins until cooked through.

Then I started the steak. I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper and added minced garlic (the recipe didn’t call of it, but I love garlic so why not?). I put a dollop of olive oil and then cooked the steak for 4 to 5 mins on each side (so that the meat would be medium rare).

Ok, so it seemed easy enough. I followed the instructions and thought everything should be fine. I had the fan going over my stove and noticed that there was some mild smoking. By the time the 5 mins passed for the first side I noticed that my apartment was oddly smokey (it smelled good, but didn’t look so great). Suddenly my apartment was really smokey! I opened the sliding glass door. Luckily the fire alarm didn’t go off (the ultimate cooking disaster). Not sure that’s actually a blessing though. So, if my apartment was full of smoke there would be no alarm? This made me a bit uneasy but I continued cooking.

Izzy, looking a bit uneasy

Can't win them all

So, I forged on and the steak actually turned out pretty good. I think that the steak smoked so much because of the garlic. After I took the steak off I worked on my salad. Instead of bib lettuce I used spinach, because that’s what I had on hand. I added herbed goat cheese, instead of blue cheese, salt, pepper, olive oil, and cider vinegar. Once the potatoes were done I ran cold water over them and then mashed them with a fork in the salad.

before the potato

And despite the minor smoke crisis, I think it turned out pretty good! I may have cooked too many potatoes for the salad but I can always eat more potato. I’m a hearty German Midwesterner. If there is something we know how to enjoy it’s potato salad.

The meat was perfectly done and so good. Its amazing how just salt, pepper, and garlic can make meat so flavorful. The potato salad was also pretty good and so simple. I am having a love affair with spinach and the vinegar gave the salad a flavor. I don’t usually use cider vinegar in my salad, but now I think I will have to start. I would probably not make this salad if I wanted to represent good, old fashioned German potato salad, but it was pretty delish.

I like this last picture… Izzy is on a low carb wet diet and has rejected all the beef that has been presented to her. However, when I make human steak she is instantly interested…

This is almost as bad as the muffin snatching incident from last month…

Gastro Bus

There is an amazing place on the UCLA campus where food trucks come during the lunch hour. Despite this being “commitment to health” week, I made an exception for this lunch. Gastro bus is a food truck based out of Los Feliz and has fresh food from the farmers market in that eastside neighborhood. They refer to themselves as a “bistro on wheels”. Apologies for the poor photo quality. The iphone really does not compare to my canon.

I ordered sweet potato fries (of course, because they are my favorite!) and the chicken curry sandwich. The sweet potato fires came with tangy honey mustard sauce which was perfect for dipping. The fries were fried as opposed to baked, which is how I normally enjoy my fries. Its been a long time since I’ve had a fry (ok, that’s a lie) but these were perfectly fried and so delicious.

And the sandwich. It was on a dark rye (probably my favorite) and was very good.

Overall, the moral of the story is never to waste money on lunch from Lu Valle. From now on, I will only dine at the food trucks when I forget my brown bag. You can check out Gastro Bus for your self here… http://www.thegastrobus.com/www.thegastrobus.com/home.html

Whole Wheat Pasta and Tomato Sauce

One of my go to meals, which I made this week in between reading, running, and class, is whole wheat penne in a homemade tomato sauce. I measure out one cup of noodles and cook in salted water until done. Then I drain the pasta and use the same pot for my sauce (yay easy clean up)

Once I’m done with the pasta, I put a small dollop of olive oil in the pot and cook minced garlic and onion until cooked though. Then I add as tablespoon of tomato paste and a small amount of water. Normally I use red wine instead of water to loosen up the tomato past, but I didn’t have any on hand last week. The red wine gives a sauce a better depth of flavor. This is when I add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and cherry tomatoes.

When the sauce has cooked for a few minutes, I add in a green. You can use basil or arugula but I choose chopped spinach.

I keep the sauce over heat until the spinach has started to wilt. Then I take off the heat and add the pasta and combine.

Top off with parm. So delicious and so easy.