Huckleberry

After picking up my packet and race info on Friday in Malibu my Mom and I made our way to Santa Monica for treats and shopping on Wilshire. There are several consignment stores very close to Huckleberry an awesome bakery and restaurant. The last time we tried to go to Huckleberry it was super busy and we only got out with a cookie, a very very good cookie. Obviously we went back for more.

Luckily it wasn’t as crowded at 3 on Friday. There were tons of open seats (a good study spot? I think so!) I was hard to pick out our treats because there were so many delectable options. We settled on salted caramel and a pear tart.

Salted caramel was really good. The caramel was cold and placed on a little pie crust. The salt flavor was good, not overwhelming. It really brought out the flavor in the caramel.

Next we tried the pear tart. What can I say, I have a pear dessert obsession.

Really good. This was served room temp but the puff pastry was crispy and played well off of the soft, slightly sugary pear. Excellent selections!

Overall, I loved what I had at Huckleberry. Their menu is chop full of farm fresh breakfast and lunch items so there will be a return trip. Shopping went well too! I got a new trench coat, ruffle top, eyelet dress and a Nanette Lapore silk top in a size 2. I know. I couldn’t believe it either. I blame it on the half marathon training.

Ok! Time to get ice cream and curl up on the couch for Modern Family. Hope you had a happy hump day!

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Super Freak

I saw this at the Farmers Market this weekend and knew I had to buy it. Who wouldn’t want Siamese eggplant? I love the “freak” veggies. I always make sure to give them a good home in my belly.

Tonight I used the eggplant to use it for flat bread pizza with butternut squash, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper on Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat crust.

I only ate half, and saved half for tomorrow.

Carolyn tipped me to a great desert, pumpkin ice cream from Trader Joes. I added mix ins of course! Tonight I chose cinnamon and chocolate chips.

I used the ice cream scoop of my childhood. Many of my kitchen utensils are from my parents house!

Hello dessert. I love you. This literally tasted like fall. Pumpkin-ey, nutmeg-ey, and cinnamon-ey. SO good. Do yourself a favor and go out and buy some tomorrow!

I also had another new kitchen acquisition… a magnet!

Its like a daily Operation Beautiful reminder :). The note it’s holding up has been on the fridge of every apartment I’ve lived in since May of 2008. I originally posted it to get me through the LSAT and have moved it with me since. This is the 4th fridge its been on! To me, it means not to make plans because life always turns out better than your plan could ever be. I know its been true in my life.

On that positive note, hope everyone has an awesome week! I have Thursday classes on Wednesday (woo hoo! No Wednesday busy day!) Thursday I have no class and my Mom lands in LA Thursday to watch my Half Marathon this Sunday. It’s going to be an epic week!

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!

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!

Project Food Blog Round 3: Champagne Luxury on a PBR Budget

Yesterday night I hosted a luxury dinner party for challenge 3 of Project Food Blog. Let’s just say that the theme of the night wound up being, “four guests, crazy honey”.

When I read the prompt for challenge 3 I was initially worried. “Throw a luxury dinner party?” I thought, “how can I do that when most of my friends don’t even have dining room tables?” I have maintained on this blog that just because you are a student and short on cash, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fabulous party! Personally, I think there are two keys to this: 1) use ingredients you already have and 2) use a few, really special ingredients in simple dishes. I did both last night and I think I accomplished my mission.

I decided to throw the party at my friends Catie and Emily’s house because I have a midterm on Monday and it looks like a Wills and Trusts bomb went off in my apartment. Unless dozens of pages of tiny family trees with dollar amounts next to them is your idea of luxury I knew it just wouldn’t work. Plus, Catie and Emily have a big, open concept kitchen which allows for plenty of chef to guest interaction. The kitchen is the heart of every home and I love cooking surrounded by friends. Catie’s long time friend Jackie also attended.

My favorite part of dinner parties is cooking with everyone, sharing stories and laughing. We had to start with wine of course!

Once the vino is poured the party really starts rocken’.

One of my pieces of advice if your on a budget but want to host a luxe dinner party is to use what you already have plenty of. I happen to have a ton of honey leftover from making baklava last week so I incorporated it into every course. Honey was used liberally in the creation of this meal.

Explaining the importance of using what you got

As you might have gleaned from the title of my blog I am a bit of a Barefoot Contessa fan. I love Ina because everything in her world is always fabulous and even challenging dishes are so easy and simple to make. All I want to do is move to the Hamptons and eat leftovers with Jeffrey.

I always take study breaks when Barefoot is on and yesterday was no exception. While watching I decided I had to make a cheese appetizer she was featuring: Baked Brie with Honey and Pecans. I served it with farmers market fresh honey crisp apple slices. I made this first so my guests could enjoy it with wine while I prepped the rest of the meal.

Another Barefoot classic was the entree: Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter.

This dish is amazing because it has very few ingredients and you might actually have some of them lying around the house. One thing that won’t be lying around your house if you are a twenty something graduate student is truffle butter. Lucky for me, it was on sale at Whole Food this week! Even I can afford $7 for “the finest truffle butter in the world”.

Can you believe my friends had never tried truffle butter?

This dish cooks in a matter of a few minutes.

While the pasta was being prepared I honey roasted some fall vegetables. This is a simple recipe that utilizes honey, because I have an excess of it, and some great farmers market finds including the first butternut squash of the season, carrots, parsnips, and walnuts.


If you read my blog you know I’m a sucker for roasted veggies. This is a sweet twist on your typical roasted veggie.

And then, dinner was ready.

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter

and Honey Roasted Fall Vegetables


Dinner is served!

Who says you can’t have a luxurious meal and sit on the floor? I think we proved them wrong last night!

And then it was time for dessert… Vanilla Ice Cream with Drizzled Honey and Raspberries.

Simply delicious.

I am so glad I have made it this far in Project Food Blog and was able to serve this fantastic dinner party to these fabulous ladies! I was able to combine simple and special ingredients with the ingredients I already had to craft a tasty dinner for everyone. The best part of any dinner party is getting together with old and new friends, swapping stories and laughing. We had a wonderful, food coma inducing time. Thanks for being a part of it!

Baklava Oatmeal

That’s right…

I went there…

I had this idea yesterday night and after getting the OK from my friend Carolyn that it wouldn’t be “too weird” I decided it must be done . Currently the baklava is sitting on top of my fridge with the idea being that it is “out of sight, out of mind” and I had been pretty good at not eating mass amounts of baklava.

I’m not going to lie to you, this is the best breakfast I’ve had in a while.

So now here is the big question: Why did I choose the hottest day in LA history to eat oatmeal? I’m blaming this one on the baklava. The high today was 113! I have the AC on now and I swear that its not really working (at least not as much as I’d like it too). Obviously a run didn’t happen today. It wasn’t even worth trying. I choose not to have a heat stroke. Colder food tomorrow!

Project Food Blog Round 2- The Classics

When I read the prompt for round 2 of Project Food Blog I knew exactly which culture I wanted to draw from…

It had to be Turkey! I traveled to Turkey last summer and fell in love with the country. From Istanbul to Ephesus, I loved everything about Turkey. I saw ancient ruins, beautiful mosques, and went wild in the Spice Market.

More than anything, I loved the food! Lets be real, any culture where it is encouraged to eat cheese for breakfast is fantastic. I ate tons of eggplant, hummus, thick yogurt, cucumbers, lamb, beef, cheese, nuts, olives, and of course baklava!

After returning from Turkey I missed the food, but never attempted to recreate it myself. Well, the time has come and I decided to make baklava!

What I love about baklava is that there are so many ways to customize it to your tastes. I decided to make pistachio, walnuts, and walnuts with dates because the only thing I miss more than baklava are Turkish delights. The ingredients for this recipe are almost all local. The only ingredients that aren’t local are the sugar, nutmeg, and the phyllo dough. Yesterday morning I went to the Santa Monica Organic Farmer’s Market to pick up my ingredients and then I set off to making baklava!

To save money I bought whole walnuts and then chopped them myself.

After consulting with the honey man at the farmers market I decided to use orange blossom honey in my baklava.

Delicious honey syrup!

Mid way through construction…

and all together:

Delicious, mouth watering, and sticky sweet.

Yes, I ate all three. I have no self control when it comes to phyllo, nuts, sugar and honey.

Are you convinced that you have to make this right now?

Baklava

Sauce:

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange blossom honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice (from the lemon)

1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

Baklava

3 cups of chopped nuts (I used 2 cups walnuts, 1 cup pistachio)

1/4 cup sugar (divided between the nuts)

1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon (again, divided between the nuts)

8 oz. phyllo dough

3/4 cup melted butter

1 small hand full of dates, chopped, make sure there are no pits

For the sauce

Combine the water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 mins. After 15 mins take off the heat and combine honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Return to medium heat and cook for 5 mins, stirring throughout. Take off the heat and cool completely to room temperature. Set aside.

For baklava:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the chopped nuts with the sugar and the cinnamon. Stir and set aside.

Melt the butter. Unroll the phyllo dough. Be careful! Keep the dough covered with damp towels at all times or it will dry out! I used a casserole dish that is the same size as the phyllo dough. If yours isn’t the same size you will want to cut it down. Lay a layer of phyllo dough in the dish and brush the melted butter on the sheet. I used by fingers, it was like finger painting with butter!  Repeat this 4 times alternating butter and phyllo. Then, layer half of the nuts and dates as you wish! Continue layering the phyllo with the melted butter for two more layers. After adding two more layers of butter and phyllo add the second half of the dates and nuts. Top with four more layers of butter and phyllo dough. Make sure that you generously apply butter to the top layer of the phyllo dough.

Cut into slices with a serrated knife. You must do this before cooking because you will be unable to cut it afterwords. Bake for 30 mins.

Once the baklava is done baking take it out of the oven and pour the cooled syrup over the baklava. Let the baklava cool completely.

Enjoy and afiyet olsun!

Friday Night In

Last Friday the “committee” (Catie, Leanna, Emily, and I) decided that we were ready for a night in after several weekends going out. I drove to the Glendale girls, made dinner and enjoyed some adult beverages. The day before we ex-nayed pizza which is my making dinner in a group go to. Instead we opted for quesadillas.

I made both traditional chicken, cheddar, onion, pepper and tomato quesadillas and “avaunt guard” quesadillas which had goat cheese and prosciutto (because I have an addiction).

Finished product! Canola is the key to getting the tortilla crispy.

These were so delicious and crispy. I love the warm melt-ey goat cheese. Emily said that these were magical, and I happen to agree.

We also made adult drinks using the Constitution shot glass that Emily got from the Nixon Presidential Library. It’s ironic ;).

We also had some of this…

Ladies night calls for peach flavored Andre! We talked and shared stories.

We also broke into this:

After reading Eat, Live, Run’s blog update Friday afternoon I *knew* I had to make these “lazy girl blondies”. I came back from a run around 5 and it took 10 mins to mix these bad boys. They bake for 30 mins and I literally pulled them out of the oven and took them into the car.

They were chewy and delicious. Eat, Live, Run will never steer your wrong, in my opinion.

So that was that. We talked, watched old episodes of “The O.C.”, and played games. Nothing bonds a group of girls like getting tipsy on some peach Andre! Hope you’re all having a happy weekend.

Bagels and Old Pasadena

Today was an adventure.

I was dispatched to a bagel shop in the westlake/silver lake area on behalf of a student org that I’m apart of. This is not close to where I live (at 3:30 it took an hour), but I had a task to complete.

Lets just say that this excursion culminated with me pushing a broken shopping cart with twenty dozen bagels a block and a half through a residential neighborhood with a German Shepard barking at me. Only in my life. I will say that once the task was complete I was treated to a free bagel. Brooklyn Bagel Co. has pretty good bagels compared to what I’ve had else where in LA.

I will admit to going to Noah’s and Panera to get my bagel fix, but Brooklyn Bagels has the real deal bagels. It would have been wrong to turn down a bagel. Right? I went for onion with low fat cream cheese.

Not only was the smell in Brooklyn Bagels intoxicating, but the bagel was damn good. I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch and it was nearly 5. We all know that is the “Katherine gets angry from lack of food danger zone”.

After picking up the bagels I discovered that I had to drive them to Pasadena. I was a little worried about the traffic back west. I was unsure about getting to Pasadena. Overall I was worried. But I arrived at my destination to discover that I was in Old Pasadena!

There was a metered parking spot waiting for me near both a cupcake shop AND JCrew. I am not one to question a gift like this from the heavens. I quickly ditched the bagels and went shopping! Old Pasadena is so cute. Lots of little shops and some big chains including Kate Spade (!). Is it weird that my career goal is to wear Kate Spade shoes to work everyday? I didn’t think so. I was only there for an hour and will have to spend more time exploring Old Pasadena in the future.

First stop, cupcake shop, Dot’s Cupcakes. I am never one to ignore a cupcake shop sitting right in front of me.

Because I had just thrown down a bagel, I got a mini cupcake. When I saw that they had chocolate with caramel and pink salt I knew exactly what to order. I have a documented obsession with salted caramel.

Rich and delish! I really like how the salty caramel was complimented by the dark, spongy chocolate. Plus, a mini cupcake is the perfect size if the treat is rich. I would definitely go back to Dots in the future.

Then I went to JCrew.

If loving JCrew is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Don’t worry M&D, I only bought a sale tank top.

Today’s lesson? You never know where a simple task will take you! Hope you all have a happy Friday!

Study Night

Nothing goes with hours upon hours of reading like salted caramel macaroons from Tavern.

Last weekend was so busy I had no time to read ahead. Normally, I work ahead on the weekends so on Monday and Tuesday I only have to read half of an assignment. Reading for law school is hard. Generally assignments will only be 15 to 20 pages but they will be dense, the court will not spell out why it did what it did and it will take longer than an hour to read. Suddenly you’ve been reading for hours. Your head is spinning and attention waning. After reading one paragraph you realize that you have no idea what the court was saying and you have to read it over and over again. Obviously after reading from 3 til almost 6 I needed a change of scenery. Since my birthday dinner a month ago I have wanted to go back to Tavern and sample their goodies without the impediment of stomach flu. I was not disappointed.

Decaf Iced Non Fat Latte, the perfect thing to accompany a salted caramel macaroon. I think the salted caramel macaroon is my new favorite thing of all time. It melts in your mouth, is salty and the caramel is rich. You can’t have just one.

The food at Tavern is some of the best I’ve had in LA. The Larder, which is next to the restaurant and bar, is light and airy. There was no one around at 6 when I arrived. It gave me the final push I needed to get through the reading I had to do. I will be back to the Larder soon, perhaps to sample their lunch menu!