Things to be Thankful For

Hey Blog World! Today was a good day. I have had such high energy this week and today I was reflecting on all the wonder things I have to be thankful for.

For example: I have great friends, I can run 10 miles and will soon be a half marathoner, I get to study race at a top institution with a one of the kind program, I can and do make choices to make myself happier everyday, I help those around me, and I get to blog for fun. How lucky am I and how is this my life? Things always turn out so much cooler than I could have ever imagined.

And on top of that I sorted out my situation for next summer and took a job offer. Wahoo! This demands a celebration so I went to Susie Cakes (obviously).

Seasonal Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Soft and moist, with light seasoning. The cream cheese wasn’t heavy at all. Simply delicious. The best celebration treat ever!

I might have gotten a cookie for lunch tomorrow to. So shoot me.

Its just too cute.

So you’ve had a cupcake treat, what are you going to make for dinner? Answer: a creation from the brand new, yet to be released Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. This book is completely vegan and emphasizes local, pure food. What do I mean by pure? No preservatives. While I am not vegan I do eat mostly local (all local produce) and eliminated almost all preservatives from my diet in order to lose weight and fuel my runner’s body.

I used the pasta that I had, cut down the recipe, and substituted some major ingredients but I kept it vegan and let me tell you: best white wine sauce ever! In the past when I made white wine sauce I’ve use butter. Let me tell you, this is better. Did I just say better than butter? Why yes I did.

I don’t want to post the recipe because this book literally just came out. Buy it here! I will say that the sauce had grape seed oil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, spinach (swapped with arugula), white wine, and vegetable stock. I wouldn’t have thought about the veggie stock but it was a great addition and gave the sauce a lot of flavor.

So the deal with the pasta: I didn’t have spaghetti. It ended up being a mash up of whatever I had left over but I think it looked pretty good.

As I mentioned above, this white wine sauce was better than the sauce I made in the past with butter. I am still in disbelief and will most definitely be making more from this book. If you are a vegan or just want to eat delicious wholesome food you should get this cookbook. There is tons of basic information about healthy eating and living a more healthy lifestyle. Left Coast Approved!

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Greek Shrimp Couscous

Happy Monday! How was your day? Mine was busy. I was going all day long, which was OK because I was very motivated today. I even got a 4 mile run in. I do my best thinking while running and I got a bunch of work done when I got home. Since I had a lot to do I wanted to make a quick dinner. Luckily I planned ahead for this with a recipe from Cooking Light.

Meal planning is a great way to save time during the week. No thinking, “what should I make?” in front of an open fridge. Just purposeful cooking.

First I prepared two portions of couscous which takes about 5 mins. While it is cooking combine tomato, green onion, olives and a tablespoon of EVO in a separate bowl.

I don’t put measurements. When cooking, if it doesn’t matter, I tend to eyeball or adjust to what I like. Note: this doesn’t count for baking!

Set this aside, fluff the cous cous. Get ready for shrimp!

I got my shrimp from the counter at Whole Foods. Why, you ask? I am not a fan of Trader Joe’s shrimp because it is hard to find the de-vained variety. Trust me, no one wants to de-vain shrimp. I got a half pound of the mini shrimp at Whole Foods for $4, which isn’t bad for two servings. I had it packaged for the freezer and defrosted it today. I salted and peppered before grilling in my brand new grill pan. Thanks mom!

The shrimp cook in about 4 mins. Take off the heat and mix with the couscous. Then add the salad mix to the couscous. Serve with Greek yogurt on the side.

Tonight. Fresh and delicious. Adding the Greek yogurt was an inspired idea. The whole meal was 450 calories.

Tomorrow. I am already excited for lunch!

I took the left over Greek Yogurt and made dessert.

I used Greek yogurt, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and honey. It was a pretty delicious (and healthy) dessert!

The Cal Poly Pumpkin Festival & The Sacred Heart Festival

Today was a rainy adventure! I ventured eastward with the Glendale Girls plus Jackie and Donna to the Cal Poly Pumpkin Festival and for dinner at the Sacred Heart Festival in Covina. We had a wonderful Fall afternoon. It really felt like Fall because it was raining!

The pumpkin festival is held every year on the campus of Cal Poly. It serves as a fundraiser for the school. There is a farm attached to the festival and food vendors! Food vendors make me a happy girl!

Clearly, I had to start with a pumpkin cupcake with a cream cheese frosting.

I don’t know what happened. I saw the cupcake, walked towards the booth and a few moments later I was holding the cupcake and taking a bite of the cupcake.  This always ends up happening to me. I have no self control. For the record: it was from Suite 106 Cupcakes, and it was good.

There were so many snacks to pick from. They even had corn!

The Midwesterner in my was rejoicing.

We walked around the festival for a while before settling on our next treat.

Pumpkin ice cream! How could I pass that up?

Yum! I was real ice cream! Light and creamy and delicious.There was also some shopping in the farm store.

Truth.

Then we moseyed on over to the pumpkin patch.

It was easy for me to pick a pumpkin. I always like the odd shaped underdog pumpkin:

So many pumpkins!

Then we decided that it was time for a little pumpkin photo shoot:

Catie

Emily

Jackie

Donna

anddd me!

After all the pumpkin fun we were hungry and decided to go to Donna’s church, Sacred Heart in Covina. They were having a yearly festival today and it was pretty awesome. I love a church festival!

Did I mention that this was the most epic church festival ever?

Not only were there rides, there was also delicious Filipino food!


After we got our food we headed over to the 21+ beer tent to get adult refreshments to enjoy with our meal. Did I mention that the bar was rocken’? I was raised Lutheran and we never had a tented bar at any St. John’s event! Apparently we don’t know how to party.

They had a BJ’s vendor and I had a Harvest Brew.

For dinner I had egg rolls and a chicken plate for dinner (I didn’t eat all the rice).

Delicious! The chicken fell off the bone and I love me some egg rolls. I was actually craving them this afternoon. I was so glad when I saw them on the menu!

After dinner we hung out and played games. Emily won two gold fish!

The festival was really pretty at night.

But it was time to get going back to the West Side.

But one last thing before I go… how nice does this snack stand look?

That’s right. It looks like the delicious goodness of my childhood! So so so yummy. The smell made me feel like a 10 year old girl at the Lake County Fair. There is nothing like it!

Off to bed! Busy week ahead! How was your weekend?

 

Cheddar and Scallion Scones

Another day, another amazing creation from the Flour Cookbook. These scones are delicious and super easy to make!

It’s as simple as combining the dry ingredients…

combining all the wet ingredients…

I am having a love affair with Creme Fraiche. So much more amazing than sour cream!

Combining the two together and placing them on a baking dish is a circle…

Brushing with yoke…

Wipe the drool with your apron…

and bake. Wait and wait and wait while your apartment starts to smell like cheese. These babies smell ah-maz-ing! And then, they are ready. Everybody out of the oven.

Again, wipe the drool off with your apron. Cut them up and enjoy the best breakfast ever.

This scone is really very light and had cheese melted in the middle. Does it get any better than that? Nope. I am surprised by how easy the recipes in the Flour Cookbook really are.


The treats are special and decadent but totally do able. It just goes to show how little ingredients, like creme fraiche, can make a dish unique and even more delicious.

Melted cheese, soft interior, and crispy crust.

I realize that this is like foodie torture, making such a good savory breakfast item and not sharing the recipe. There is a cure! Order the book and make them for yourself!

I am off to a pumpkin patch so that I can pretend like its really fall! Hope ya’ll are having a happy Sunday!

Butternut, Chive and Cheddar Flat Bread

Good Evening! Today was a low key, but busy day. I managed to squeeze in an 8 mile run in around 1:15 mins. But I couldn’t totally tell because I just used the clock on my ipod. It was nice to only run 8 miles (as opposed to say, 10) and I felt great afterwords. I drank watered down Gatorade and took two shot blocks at mile 4. It’s kinda awesome that I can run 8 miles pretty easily. Next weekend is a 12 mile run. Ah!

When I got back I was starving and enjoyed a cold chocolate milk and then Butternut, Chive and Cheddar Flat Bread. I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza crust, rolled it out with flour. Then I took roasted butternut squash, chopped chive, lettuce, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and grated cheddar cheese and combined in a bowl with a dollop of EVO. I spread the mixture over the dough and baked at 425 for 14 mins.

Delicious post run treat; This recipe is a keeper! We know that I love to put butternut squash on anything but the addition of the lettuce was a brilliant move. Cheddar is always amazing when melted on pizza dough. MMMM. Wonderful. The best part of finishing a long run is indulging in a nice treat.

There is something wonderful cooking in my oven right now. The smell is heavenly! Lets just say I’ll have a savory treat for breakfast tomorrow and to ship to my buddy Carolyn!

Cayenne

Yesterday Kelly and I perfected the art of the three hour lunch at Cayenne for the last day of restaurant week. Cayenne is on Beverly Blvd close to another favorite restaurant, Milk. Cayenne features Mediterranean food.

We had a three course lunch off of the Dine LA menu. As usual we split everything and had a fantastic time.

Cayenne itself is a cute little cafe with open windows and adorable lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

We started with the So Cal chop salad which was a pretty basic but very well executed. There was a lot of parsley and was super fresh. It literally smelled like a garden.

It was a good primer. Not sure I would pay full price for this item, but hey it comes with the meal!

We also sampled potage with zucchini and curry.

This is the appetizer to get at Cayenne. The curry was delicious and the soaked croutons were fantastic. Flavorful, but not overwhelming.

We liked the appetizers, but we loved the entrees!

I knew exactly what I wanted before I even darkened the door of Cayenne: the angus beef burger on ciabatta with caramelized onion, goat cheese & aioli. I mean… it had goat cheese and caramelized onions. It was love at first sight.

Under the hood:

This was a damn good burger. The flavors were perfect together and the ciabatta was crispy on the outside. And don’t even get me started on the fries…

Crispy on the outside with light garlic flavoring. Delicious!

We also tried the blackened salmon with pesto farfalle.

The pasta was pretty solid. The sauce was good and the mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes added nice flavor. The salmon was cooked to perfection. The flavoring was perfect; you could sense the flavor but it wasn’t over powering.

As if we weren’t full enough, we indulged in dessert. Hey it was a fixed course meal, right 😉

We started with Baklava…

As we know, I love pistachio baklava. This baklava was good and not too sweet.

We also tried pistachio rice flan:

Kelly wasn’t a fan of the consistency but I liked it ok. It was very sweet and different.

Finally, we never turn down chocolate so we sampled the brownie.

It was warm and gooey. So wonderful and delicious. This was Kelly’s favorite. I think my favorite dessert was the baklava.

Overall, Cayenne is a great place to check out for lunch. The entrees are large so if I were to go again I would bypass the appetizers and just get an entree and a dessert. I really liked the ambiance and the waitstaff was really nice and friendly. Another successful 3 hour lunch!

And then there were cookies…

As I announced yesterday, I got the Flour Cookbook in the mail. After scanning it I realized that I have to stock up on some basics (like milk, cream, cake flour). I did however have all the ingredients for peanut butter cookies…

I am not going to post the recipe. The book just came out and I want to entice you to buy it!

I will however, share beautiful pictures of butter.

Last night I gathered my ingredients, quietly stood barefoot in my kitchen at 10:30 pm and made these cookies. I have had them many times in Boston and was excited to reproduce them in LA.


Am I the only person out there who thinks the patterns hand held beaters make in batter are beautiful? I hope not.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

The dough had to chill so I put it away for the night at cooked these puppies at 8 am this morning.

I let them bake while I read for Evidence and then at 8:30 I ate a cookie and had a photo shoot.

I normally have peanut butter toast or oatmeal for breakfast so why not a peanut butter cookie, right?

Don’t worry, I had wonderful green things at lunch and dinner. One cannot live on a diet of cookies alone. Lord knows I would like to try. Plus, I had no trouble unloading these puppies at school.

Chewy, thick, buttery and delicious. The ratio of peanut butter to butter, sugar, flour and egg is, dare I say it? Perfect? It is.

Have I convinced you that you must buy this cookbook yet? Don’t worry. I’ll be back with more temptation this weekend. Muhahaha.

Quick announcement: One month from right now I will have completed my first Half Marathon! Eek! So excited for all the calorie replenishing I cannot even tell you.

It’s here!

Today was a fantastic day!

First of all, I had an awesome breakfast. Oatmeal with peanut butter, cinnamon, and honey.

Later today in Wills and Trusts Professor Goodman gave us candy because it’s “that crappy time in the semester before finals and after law school is a fun novelty”. Apparently, he could “see our fatigue in our faces” so he gave our whole class candy!

Sweet. That makes the California Probate Code so much more interesting.

The best surprise of the day came when I got home from school.

For those that don’t know, Flour is an amazing bakery in Boston. I frequented Flour while I was in college and they literally have the best sandwiches, baked goods, and sticky bun on the planet. If I had one meal left I would have flour. In fact, the last time I was in Boston, I had an entire day where I ONLY ate Flour.

 

Doughnuts that are featured on weekends ONLY at Flour in Boston

 

Last summer I discovered that Joanna Chang, the owner of Flour and co-owner of Meyers + Chang, was coming out with a cookbook! I obviously got in the pre-order line right away and today it finally came!

I was so excited when I opened up the cookbook. Literally, all of my favorite treats were represented!

Reading the pages of this book was like going home. This food brings up so many memories. When I worked at the State House I always got a sticky bun on my way to work on Mondays. The week before I moved to LA my mom and I enjoyed breakfast there everyday. Some special Sundays I would go to Flour, read the paper, and enjoy their stuffed doughnut. I watched President Obama’s inauguration with a Flour granola bar. There have been numerous trips with my friends Brea and Carolyn. And for every trip with Carolyn there has been a moment where she and I have looked at each other and just known we were going to have to split a raspberry bar.

Food is love and having a bit of Flour in LA means a lot to me. I was actually moderately emotional flipping though the pages. I was homesick but overjoyed that I have all the recipes. Obviously I am breaking into the book tonight! I have a feeling this will end up being my Julie/Julia. Although it might take me longer than a year, I am going to cook everything at some point.

Off to my kitchen!

Brew Review: Newton’s Folly Granny Smith Draft Cider

As I have been blogging for the past few weeks, I seriously miss fall. Last year, my first LA fall, was a total novelty. It hardly rained and it was 80 into January and I loved every moment of it. But this year I am missing the changing of the seasons. One way I have coped was looking for seasonal beers. I still need to buy myself some Sam Adams Octoberfest. I realize that this isn’t the best fall beer by any stretch but it reminds me of Boston. I also want to find a really killer pumpkin beer. If you have a recommendation please drop a comment! I will likely go to BevMo! to search this out.

One type of beer-like drink that really reminds me of fall is Granny Smith Draft Cider. I had Woodchuck a few years ago at The Lower Depths in Boston (if you love beer and live in Boston you must check this place out) and I loved it! Cider is so light and tasty. Yeah, its kinda a light-weight beer but its so fall-like I thought having some might quell my New England nostalgia.

Since I already tried Woodchuck, and because I frequent Trader Joe’s, I tried Newton’s Folly Granny Smith Draft Cider.

This was a pretty good cider. My first thought is that I like Woodchuck better, but it has been a long time since I had the pleasure of having Woodchuck. Plus, this cider is pretty cheap and thus a good and easy option. It was light, just bubbly enough, and not too sweet or tart.

To recap: it was pretty darn tasty! I would like to taste test it next to Woodchuck to determine the true champion but Newton’s Folly is a good, convenient and a quality replacement. One fall craving satisfied! Now where can I get some cider doughnuts…

The Dinner Dance

Tonight my little friend engaged in the “dinner dance”. The dinner dance happens between the hours of 7 pm and 9 pm, at which time she is actually fed. Literally, if I readjust on couch, yawn, turn a page or make any movement of any kind Izzy goes running to the kitchen making all kinds of noise. She leaps from precarious positions just to get a bite of food.

Exhibit A: Notice the open mouth, indicating loud complaining.

Exhibit B: trying to guilt me into giving her food.

I did manage to make a nice dinner despite the little distraction nipping at my heels. I wanted comfort pasta so I constructed a red sauce with roasted tomatoes, EVO, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.I cooked the onion and garlic and mashed the tomato.

And the final product:

Yum. It hit the spot. I used the leftover Tagliarelle. I generally eat brown pasta (unless I make it myself) so having white for a change was nice. I love putting red pepper flakes in pasta sauce. It gives it that little extra spice.

I also had roasted Brussels sprouts, broccoli and the last of my leftover butternut squash.

No dinner in my apartment is complete without some roasted veggies!

Hope you had a good Monday! Mine was kinda blah but I used my universal cure to raise my spirits:

I’m still a believer. A manicure can cure anything. Don’t you agree?