blog lunch

On Thursday I had the pleasure of eating lunch with Monica from Yellow Brick Beauty. Monica works near where I go to school and live so getting lunch together was a no brainer. If you don’t read Monica’s blog you should. She is the sweetest person ever and her blog is awesome. Monica is going to rule the world one day. I’m just saying.

We went to Nature’s Way Cafe in Westwood which I’ve actually never been to before. They have veggie options and non veggie options too. Plus it was super cheap. I ordered a chicken sandwich but altered it a bit.

I had chicken on a whole wheat bun without cheese, mayo and the bbq sauce on the side. I also had them add an avocado to the sandwich. I had air fries on the side. The air fries are supposed to be low fat and healthier. They were good but got cold fast and I didn’t finish them.

Lunch with Monica was great. We chatted about working out, healthy living and blogging! Its fun to eat lunch with a blogger. Since my blog birthday I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the direction of Left Coast Contessa and different features I might want to incorporate into the blog. Talking to someone who knows me, my blogging style and is also a fan definitely helps my ideas to crystallize. Monica is a great new friend!

I had a crazy busy week last week after a crazy busy weekend. Right now I’m loving catching up on blog stuff. You can see my new picture page and new weight loss page. I’m also watching Clerks. Has anyone ever seen that movie? I watched it so many times in high school I can still quote so many lines for example: “I assure you, we’re open” and “I’m not even supposed to be here today” not to mention the extended discussion of Star Wars. Seriously, if you’ve ever worked a minimum wage job you will appreciate Clerks. What was your favorite movie in high school?

Oh, and by the way, my Mom’s cookbook was the Jello cook book so congrats to Kaitlin and Amanda! We were rather amused at how many people thought my Mother owned the Booze cook book. I picked up that gem at a book store that sells books by the weight.

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out to lunch

There really is nothing like a two hour lunch on a Friday with no class. In celebration of Restaurant Week my dining buddy Kelly and I decided to check out Ugo in Culver City. Dine LA is running some fantastic deals this week and next. We got a three course lunch today for $16! It doesn’t get much better than that!

Ugo occupies a nice big corner spot in downtown Culver City which is home to lots of adorable shops and restaurants. It was a beautiful LA day so we sat out on the patio and soaked in the sun.

Dining with Kelly is great for two reasons: 1) she loves food and is willing to try almost anything and 2) she isn’t shy about breaking into the bread basket. I went to yoga this AM and was starving by the time we sat down:

mmm balsamic, oil, and soft bread. More please!

There is really only one drink for warm afternoon patio dining

Diet coke with lime.

With the Dine LA menu you are able to choose an appetizer, entree and dessert off of a fixed menu. As usual we picked two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts to split. After we ordered we waited for a while and then suddenly as soon as the appetizers arrived so did the entrees. That was a little bit awkward, but I will say that overall the service was excellent. Our drinks were filled on time and the waiter was super attentive.

To start:

So many restaurants do bruschetta you never know how good its going to be but I have to say this was some of the best I’ve had in a long time. The bread was crisp, the tomatoes were marinated, and the appetizer was garlicky.

We also ordered

Arancini! We’ve been talking about these “rice balls” for almost a week in anticipation of this restaurant outing. Basically arancini is  arbario rice + mozzarella cheese + salami all lightly breaded and fried. You just can’t go wrong with that combination in my mind.

As you can see the whole dish was sitting on a meaty marinara sauce which we saved to dip our bread in!

The entrees weren’t as tasty as the appetizers but they were solid, especially for the Dine LA discounted price.

First we had penne del pollo with grilled chicken, leeks, sun dried tomato and a light tomato sauce. I love sun dried tomatoes so that aspect of the dish was good. This was a solid meal but it wasn’t the most spectacular pasta ever.

Sauteed chicken breast, Portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers & fresh herbs in a white wine sauce with a touch of balsamic vinaigrette. Served with a side of spaghetti aglio e olio. While the pasta on this dish was plain, and quite honestly I could have done without it, the balsamic sauce was full flavored and totally to die for. I’m not a huge mushroom fan but when smothered in this sauce I gladly ate all of them.

The desserts at Ugo were epic! We ordered tiramisu and profiterole.

That’s right, it came in a chocolate cup! The tiramisu was smaller but one of the best I’ve had in a while. The powdered chocolate on top was a real, thick layer.

Basically it was a cream puff covered in chocolate. The chocolate layer was thick and the cream was heavy and thick, like good whipped cream. The women at the table next to us ordered this insane epic tall strawberry thing that also looked so good.

Clearly, the standouts at Ugo are the appetizers and the desserts. This was a great Dine LA deal and I would recommend Ugo to anyone who wants to spend an afternoon in Culver City or to anyone who wants a really special dessert. I would definitely recommend going to Ugo at a time when you can sit on the patio. It was a delightful two hour lunch!

** Tomorrow the LA protest in solidarity with Egypt is happening at noon at the Federal Building if you are interested. At the very least read this and educate yourself about what is going on in Egypt. This is a critical foreign policy issue. I try not to be political on the blog but this is a hugely important issue and apathy is unacceptable!  **

for the love of vintage cookbooks…

I love a vintage cookbook. True story: Most of my cookbooks are vintage. I do love my Flour Cookbook and Skinny Bitch but its always fun to find a new old cookbook.

Like these…

My cookbooks are a mixture of cheap finds and inheritance from my mother. Can you guess which one of these is inherited from my mother? I’m seriously interested if anyone can get it right. If you have a guess leave a comment at the bottom of this post! I’ll let you know which one I inherited in my next post!

I might love vintage cookbooks because of the aroma wafting from the pages. Or because most of the recipes are pre health consciousness and call for loads of butter. Or because they are full of fun, inventive cocktails and classics.

Or maybe because they’re full of pearls of wisdom like from the one above…

“Always buy clean food from clean stores”

Duly noted.

A few nights ago (ack late I know. It’s been a busy week. Busy in the “I have a lot of things to do and see kind of way and not in an ‘I have 300 pages of reading to do by tomorrow kind of way) I explored a new to me cookbook:

This is a Veggie cookbook from the 70’s and is an inherited item. My mom has pretty awesome cookbook taste and I was lucky enough over break to get this cookbook from her when she needed to make more shelf room on the cook book shelf. My favorite part of this cookbook is opening pages and seeing her handwriting in the margins of her favorite recipes. For example, “add 1/2 lb bacon to carbonara”. I love my family.

My other favorite part of the cookbook? There are recipes from other cultures. There is a tapas section, crepe section, Mexican section, Italian section and an Indian section. Last weekend I made Dal with spiced potatoes and Brussels Sprouts. I know the sprouts are random but hey I had a craving.

Here are the players:

I started by applying salt, pepper, and EVO to the sprouts and roasting them at 425.

Then I turned my attention to the potatoes. I sliced one serving of potatoes and mixed them in a bowl with canola oil (about 1 tbsp.), turmeric (1/2 tsp), a tiny bit of crushed red pepper and cumin (1/2 tsp). After tossing all the ingredients together I placed the potatoes in a roasting pan and popped in the oven with the sprouts at the same temp. Continue to check periodically. Should take about 20 mins to cook.

Finally, it was time to make the dal. I would just like to put out there that I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the dish and I didn’t have all the seasoning that the cookbook called for but I did my best!

I bought pre cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s. I started by taking a pan and adding water to cover the bottom. Then I added a 1/2 cup of the lentils to the water and brought up the heat to a medium level. I added 1/2 tsp of turmeric, cayenne, and cumin to the lentils and let it simmer. If the water gets absorbed into the lentils you can add a little more.

Once the water is getting pretty absorbed and the lentils have been heating up for a few mins (think like 5 mins) add 1 tbs. of butter to the mix. Let it melt down and absorb.

Interesting note about old cookbooks: When I cook I tend to look at packaging (like on the lentils) to determine portion size. Interestingly, the portion in the recipe was smaller than the portion suggested by the packaging. I went with the recipe but I was left wondering, is this just a difference in packaging or is it a result of the decade difference? Who knows, but food for thought.

I put the lentils on my plate and took my sprouts and potatoes out of the oven. I was going to make cous cous but I only had one serving left and when I went to grab the pot it was hot, I burned my hand a little bit and cous cous went all over my kitchen floor. Can’t win them all. It was OK through because I think my plate turned out pretty well.

Personally, I think the potatoes could have used more cumin but I loved the lentils! They had a bold but not too spicy flavoring and were quick to make. Quick + cheap + seasoned + protein? I feel like this is going to become my “ah I’m too busy but I need to eat something” go to meal. Definitely want buy more seasonings and experiment more with different flavors.

So, Which cookbook did I inherit? And what is your favorite seasoning?

it must be sunday if…

I’m in Brentwood, at the Farmer’s Market.

I bounded out of bed this morning and made an immediate bee line to Brentwood. The farmer’s market was pretty happening today. There were some pretty awesome finds like giant carrots but I stuck to the basics. Afterwords I stopped at my favorite bagel spot: New York Bagel.

New York bagel is on San Vicenti. It’s a little hole in the wall and has some of the best bagels that I have had in Los Angeles.

Why hello giant, beautiful bagel.

I ran 7.5 miles today, obviously I needed to carb load before hand. I placed my order for an everything bagel, toasted with low fat cream cheese, paid less than $3 and waited for it to be ready.

words of wisdom from new york bagel

I did the grab and go thing and enjoyed it at home.

If I could eat unlimited bagels I would. Sadly there are like no health benefits to having a bagel and cream cheese. Boo.

I made it slightly healthier (or slightly less unhealthy… depends on how you want to think about it) by scooping out about 1/2 of the cream cheese. I love New York Bagel. Its definitely a nice Sunday splurge from time to time. You should check it out if you in the hood and craving something carb-ey.

Its been a busy day of reading for school this week and I managed to squeeze in a 7.5 mile run. I can tell that yoga is making a big difference in my running. My legs feel much stronger and my breathing feels more balanced. Also, my joints are less sore which is lovely. Sadly, my Monday and Friday yoga class is ending after this week. The teacher can’t teach on Wednesdays anymore so the studio is going to do boot camp in the morning. While that is all well and good I want vinyasa flow, not another sweat fest. I have some options for what to do after this week so I’m going to take some time to reflect and then make a decision about what I want to do about my yoga classes.

Now I’m watching Big Love, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters.

Do you watch TV on Sunday? What are your favorites? My all time favorite Sunday combo is True Blood and Entourage. Can’t wait til Summer!

party like it’s pie day

You may or may not know this, but today was National pie day. No not 3.14 pi day but national EAT pie day! It was just a happy coincidence that Danielle and I planned a pie bake off for our law school friends last night!

You may or may not know this, but first year classes in law school are organized into sections that you take all your first year classes with. Our section could have been renamed the baking section. Not only did one of our professors make bake us cupcakes but there were several people that would always show up to parties or class with pies, cookies, brownies, or best of all, cookie cake pies. You have no idea. It’s a wonder I managed to lose weight last year.

Anyways, Danielle and I, while on our baking bender, decided that we needed to have an official bake off to determine the true champ. I consider myself to be more or a cook than a baker because I like to be less precise in my cooking but I managed to make a chocolate cream pie from the Flour Cookbook.

I figured anytime I combined this…

you couldn’t go too wrong.

I mean really…

It turned out pretty well.

Confession: I was a lazy blogger at the pie party. There are no pie pics. Whoops. I will say that in addition to my pie we have Linda’s key lime pie, Rachel’s chocolate walnut pie, Danielle’s peach pie and her pear pie (which won!) and we had cupcakes and homemade pumpkin ice cream.

We also had vino which obviously always makes for a happening shin dig.

I did get a photo of Danielle and I. We dressed up as “Stepford Wives” complete with pearls and all!

I think we pulled off the look well. I wore pearls, j crew ruffle tank, white a line Ann Taylor skirt (bought second hand) and while heels from Nordstrum Rack and an apron from Antro.

Seriously. If you marry me, provide me with health insurance and pay my law school loans I promise to bake pie every day in return. Just kidding…… kind of.

In any case, it was a great party and I ate tons of tasty, delicious pie and had a fantastic time!

whole grain spaghetti with garlicky kale and tomato

Happy Friday everyone! How is it going? I’ve had a great day. I got a good nights sleep, went to yoga where I was able to kick up into a headstand on my own. I was pretty psyched about it. Then I went to Trader Joe’s because grocery shopping is my favorite chore. Another great day in So Cal. I’m feeling so mellow and happy. I realize that I’ve had several posts gushing about how happy I’ve been recently, but I can’t help it. I am feeling great!

Last night I made a recipe from this months Real Simple, whole grain spaghetti  with garlickey kale and tomato. This was a quick meal and it had kale, which is a super food!

I started by cooking two portions of whole grain spaghetti (hell ya coupon from Whole Foods) and then got started on the sauce.

I sliced up 1/2 of a red onion and 2 cloves of garlic and sliced up 1 plum tomato. The recipe called for grape tomato but I didn’t want to have way too many tomatoes so instead I just sliced one plum tomato.

Then I sauteed the onion and the garlic in EVO with salt and pepper for 5 mins.

Once the onion and the garlic has cooked I added 2 handfuls of kale, sliced.

Look how green! I let the kale cook down for about 4 mins and then added the tomato to the mix and let it heat up for about 3 mins. I took the kale mix off the heat and combined it in the pasta in the pasta pot.

I also added a handful of slivered almonds, a tablespoon of pecorino. After mixing I served and topped with a little more pecorino.

Yum! Another light and delicious meal. I’m having a major red onion moment and I have to say that kale is quickly becoming my one of my favorite foods. Good thing too because its super healthy. I especially liked this pasta because it had some tomato in it but it wasn’t a full fledged tomato sauce.

Something to read: Monica at Run, Eat, Repeat’s husband wrote the Top 10 reasons to marry a healthy living blogger. I propose we change the title to “top ten reasons to date a healthy living blogger” and have it made into pamphlets to distribute to potential dates. Read it here!

Tomorrow I am hosting a bake off with my friend Danielle! I’ll be making a chocolate cream pie! Get excited!

good day

Howdy blog world.

Today was a good day on many fronts. I’ve been told I’m not allowed to mention or photograph the weather until conditions in the mid west begin to improve. I will say that I went on my second 4 mile run in two days and also claimed personal victory on numerous levels today.

How does one celebrate a good day?

Truffle fries, obviously. As if there was even a question.

For lunch I decided to hit the UCLA food trucks. Luckily the Komodo truck was parked on campus today. I’ve heard good buzz about this truck and was excited to try it.

The Komodo truck serves tacos and burritos made with unique flavors. I went for a combo of two tacos and a side of truffle fries. The line actually moved pretty quickly and I barely had to wait for them to get my order. In my opinion, this is the mark of an excellent food truck. Sometimes no matter how good the food is the wait to get the food just can’t be justified. Not the case with Komodo. This crew is on its game.

First, I ordered Asian marinated chicken taco with stir fried rice and mandarin orange. This was my favorite part of the meal. The flavor of the citrus perfectly complimented the chicken. I think citrus might be my favorite compliment to any meal right now. Good thing it’s in season!

The second taco I ordered was the Komodo 2.0 taco with beef, jalapeno aioli & southwest corn salad. I liked this taco, but not as much as I liked the first taco. I will say that the corn and shaved radish with the beef was unexpected and tasty. The beef was very good. Perfectly cooked and lightly marinated. While I knew I was eating tacos I didn’t feel weighted down by what I was eating. All of the ingredients in the tacos were uber fresh and top notch.

And then, there were truffle fries.

Doused in Parmesan and truffle oil! While I looked for a place to sit I could smell the truffle oil wafting through the air. Definitely a delicious and well deserved splurge. Readers know that while I do aim for health I also aim for balance in my eating. Part of balance for me is allowing myself to have the occasional treat without beating my self up about it. I cannot remember the last time I had fries (maybe one month ago at pop champagne?) so I was long over due for some fries.  These were good and totally 100% worth it!

I did have one concern, do you use ketchup when you eat truffle fries? I’d love reader feedback. I mentally debated it for a good 5 mins before I opened one package on the side of my meal to dip only the least truffley of the fries in. I mean, the truffle is supposed to be like ketchup, right?

After I came home I started my weekend right by going on a 4 mile run. I had a great run. I felt a little bit dehydrated and got a phantom “hungry” feeling which I’ve blogged about before. Clearly I wasn’t hungry (see my large lunch above). My run was still great but I made sure to drink a ton of water after I got home.

Post run I used this foot rubz ball that my Mother sent me. My foot pain had been decreased as of late thanks to a reduction in mileage, yoga, and icing but every little bit helps, right?

When I first opened this Izzy totally thought it was a toy for her.

Exhibit A:

I regained control of the “toy” and used it on my foot.Izzy was still interested.

Eventually she let me roll my foot on the ball in peace. My foot felt great while using it and still feels good. I really like the “spikes” on the ball. The texture felt way better than rolling my foot on a tennis ball. I will keep you all posted on how my foot feels.

My weekend started today and will be a busy one! What are your weekend plans?

seared scallops with crispy leeks

Its been a long time since I’ve seared a scallop. Too long. That’s why I was happy when I got a recipe suggestion from my Mother. The apple doesn’t fall far from the foodie tree. I mean who doesn’t want a crispy leek? Its nice to be related to people who understand the importance of crispy leeks and their need to be shared.

This recipe is so simple, quick and healthy. Seriously, seared scallops sound so fancy but they take less than ten minutes to actually make.

I started by making the leeks. I used one stalk, only the white and light green parts. I cut off the “head” and “tail” and cut the leek length wise in quarters. Then I washed the leek.

I made sure they were toweled off and then I combined in a small bowl with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

After mixing I arranged on a baking sheet and cooked for 10 mins at 425 degrees, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile I used the same mixing bowl I combined salt, pepper, basil, and garlic powder. I left out the flour (whoops). After tossing the scallops I cooked them with EVO for 3 mins on each side.

It was around this time that the leeks came out of the oven and the brown rice that I was making was about finished.

Yum! Let me tell you, crispy leeks are where its at. They have a delightful crunch without breading or frying. Almost like a better, different onion ring. Personally, while I love onions, I really like the milder taste of a leek. The only thing I would do differently in the future is use less salt. It was wicked salty. I’m still working on the $3 bulk brown rice (love you WF) and the scallops were fresh, light and super satisfying. I need to make them more often. They are so easy so there is no excuse not to make them more.

Did I mention that the leeks and the scallops were 185 calories? Yep. More reason to add scallops and crispy leeks to every meal. Who said healthy food can’t taste good?

Want to make this dish? Try it for yourself!

What is your favorite recipe that someone else shared with you?

lunch at home

Sorry for the blogger break. I’ve been having a rough time getting back into school mode. This semester is a little different for me because I have mostly afternoon classes. I’m still trying to figure out when I will work in runs, yoga, homework and blogging. I’m starting to get the hang of it.

One of the benefits is that I was able to go on a glorious run this morning. It wasn’t as hot as its been so it was basically the perfect running conditions. I ran a super speedy 4 miles and after I made an epic sandwich for lunch.

Lets break it down. There was 2 slices of sesame Ezekiel bread, spinach, red onions, avocado, carrots, and a small amount of brie cheese.

Let me tell you: the brie makes the difference. The red onion was also instrumental to making this sandwich amazing. Otherwise it would just be spinach.

This semester is looking better and better.

Belated Birthday

I feel like I bad blog Mom. I totally forgot my 1 year blog birthday! It was the 14th. Apparently I was too busy doing headstands to remember. Either way, happy birthday to me! I plan to celebrate by eating Chunky Lola Cookie Dough later tonight.

But in all seriousness, when I started this blog 1 year ago I had no idea that it would be such a big and wonderful part of my life. Through my blog I’ve been connected to an amazing community and some great people. I’ve been inspired to run longer than I ever thought I would run and I’ve challenged myself to cook things like homemade pasta and baklava. Here is to another great year of blogging!

Yesterday was truly a beautiful day.It all started with waffles with honey and a little bit of unsweetened coconut:

I have a ton of leftover coconut and I’m having a good time finding new ways to incorporate coconut into my diet. I’m thinking my next use will be a tropical smoothie.

After breakfast I went to the FM and then took a walk along the coast.

83 and sunny on January 15th. I love this city.

I made a friend:

See the lizard?

Then I explored a new to me LA landmark: The Brentwood Country Mart. You might know the Brentwood country mart because Sean Penn beat up a pap there about a year ago. I always run by it but I never go in so I decided to explore a little bit on my way home. I poked into some great stores including a wonderful book store which I will have to return to. Also, there clearly needs to be a stop at the Sweet Rose Creamery in the near future. I finally settled at Caffe Luxxe which I have read is one of the best coffee shops in LA according to Laist.

The interior of Caffe Luxxe is small, but very cute. There was literally no one there when I arrived which was mildly shocking for 10 am on Saturday. The menu is small and they are known for having great coffee so I didn’t mess around with anything fancy. I just got a non fat iced latte. The coffee is more costly than Starbucks but, in my opinion, it is much better than Starbucks and thus worth the price. Again, because there were very few people at Caffe Luxxe I was able to snag a shady study spot.

Remedies for security regulation fraud is boring (sorry to those who find it engrossing) but this latte was tasty and made the reading tolerable! One of the best lattes I’ve had in all of LA. With plenty of free parking I foresee this becoming a regular hang out for me.

Now I am watching the Golden Globes and tweeting about it. As you may know, I love award shows so this is kind of like a super bowl playoff game for me (we all know the Oscars are the main event). Hope your enjoying the show!