Flex your mussels

I had something interesting in my fridge yesterday…

So I haven’t really cooked with Mussels before but after realizing that I hadn’t blogged something I cooked myself that wasn’t potato pancakes for 9 days I decided it was time to take drastic measures. I ambled into Whole Foods and asked for a pound of mussels. When asking how I should store them until today I realized that they were alive (uh, duh) and would need to be in water (double duh). Yep,  I am the awkward party. Anyways, that’s how I wound up with a container of mussels in my fridge.

Then I started thinking about how they were alive. Then I started to psych myself out. I almost named them. Almost.

Tonight I made a dish out of a self published French cookbook my Mom found at a book sale and sent me. Isn’t it cute?

All the recipes look tasty but mussels remind me of New England so I made Mussels Marinara.

The first thing I had to do was get rid of the sand, grit, and breads. I dissolved a tea spoon of salt in warm water. Then I mixed the warm salt water in a large bowl with cold water. I scrubbed the mussels and placed them in the water bowl. When they were all in the bowl I cut a lemon in half and squeezed it into the bowl. Once I was done squeezing the lemon I placed them in the water bowl.

Let sit for 20 mins. After 20 mins take the mussels out of the water and drain the water out. Then I got started on the sauce!

The recipe calls for a basic white wine based marinara sauce.

You will need:

Red pepper flakes, 2 minced cloves of garlic, half a lemon (ignore the S&P), half a stick of butter, half a container of cut tomatoes with no salt added, and a 1/4 cup of white wine.

I used this kind from South Africa (and obviously, Trader Joe’s).

Start the sauce by heating a tablespoon of EVO and sauteing the garlic and a dash of red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 min, it should be fragrant. Make sure not to burn the garlic!

Then add the butter. Make sure it doesn’t burn.

Once it melts down add the white wine. Let the white wine cook, stirring occasionally, until it reduces. About 4 mins.

Then squeeze half a lemon and add some thyme (however much you like!)

Then add the tomatoes and simmer for 4 mins.

Now, it is time to put on your brave face.

Please note that this is my nervous face. You will see it when I 1) cook mussels, 2) think about the bar exam or 3) hear a loud thump in the middle of the night

I felt like I was committing a small act of genocide. They were opening and for a fleeting moment I thought about keeping one in the fridge as a pet but then I remembered I already have a pet and I just womened up and did it.

I let the mussels simmer in the sauce for four mins and when I took the top off?

Yay everyone opened up!

This recipe makes two servings. Before I made the sauce I cooked two servings worth of brown spaghetti. Once the mussels opened up I combined the pasta and the sauce. Topped it off with parm.

I also played around with some camera effects.

This was a delicious dinner! It was pretty simple to make despite my nerves. I used only one pot so clean up was really simple. The mussels tasted like a summer day in Massachusetts. Using the white wine sauce as a based made the marinara extra special.  The only change I made from my version and the cookbook version was the brown spaghetti. Their recipe calls for angel hair pasta, but I just used what I had on hand. Mussels are a great treat and actually are pretty cheap when purchased by the pound. A nice little treat for the hard studying souls.

Bon Appetit!

Day One

Today was the first day of reading period. I have a love hate relationship with the first day of finals. Last year Izzy almost choked to death on her food. Last Spring I was worried about getting all my work done on time. I am happy to report that today was nothing but productive! This is the first time I’ve had a car during finals and I have to say, it feels really good to get out of Westwood when studying.

First I went to Panera for a bagel breakfast. Note, the reading you see is maybe half of my Critical Race Theory reading. No kidding.

Oy. Discovery of the day: Panera started listing calories! I felt good about this everything bagel at 300 calories (I also ate an apple). I was horrified by the counts though. I used to, well, binge at Panera. Is binge the right word for consuming 1500 calories? I think so.

Oh well, that’s over now. Moving on.

I was super productive at Panera. I worked diligently and didn’t even listen to music. I took minimal facebook, email, twitter breaks and didn’t watch any Youtube videos. Who am I?! I worked from 9:30 until noon.

Around noon I realized that I needed a break. I drove and parked at the Santa Monica Library and walked to Real Food Daily. The last time I went to RFD was for a blogger meet up and I knew I wanted to go back. Today was the perfect chance! I got a small plate because I had other snacks packed (like a Z Bar). I choose the BLT Tartine.

Look at that avocado! Love!

The sandwich has vegannaise which is totally better than mayonnaise, at least in my opinion. This was an excellent lunch pick me up. Next time I go to RFD I’ll make sure to say hey to Katie who gets to work there! Can you even imagine all the amazing food? Must be the best job ever.

After I ate I ambled back to the Santa Monica Library for more work. I was very, very productive. On the way home I picked this little guy up from Susie Cakes…

He was yummy. Then I went on a 4 mile run which was good but kind of cold. I need to work out a system for when its under 60 degrees and I go running.

Dinner was grilled salmon with salt, pepper, EVO, thyme and cumin (random I know). But it turned out pretty fantastic! I also had roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries.

Side dishes!

The sweet potatoes were left in a little too long but you know, it happens.The Salmon was DELISH and took a short amount of time to cook. I have leftovers and I cannot wait to dig into them tomorrow!

Now I am watching Glee and Biggest Loser. If Ada doesn’t make it to the final 4 I am going to go insane! Hope everyone had a productive day!

Finals: Day 1

Cookies Consumed: 1

YouTube Videos watched: 1 (thanks to vivi. It can be viewed here)

Brentwood Farmer’s Market

Normally I am very faithful to the Santa Monica Organic Farmer’s Market but today I decided it was time to branch out a little bit. I was on Montana in Santa Monica to attend a cooking class taught by my friend and cooking pro Scott. After learning how to make butter (!) I hit the Brentwood Farmer’s Market.

The Brentwood Farmer’s Market has more prepared food and gift items than Santa Monica. I got the essentials and then I wanted a small lunch. There were so many stands to choose from but one caught my eye.

All the sandwiches looked good but I really wanted to try the smoked salmon special! I heart smoked salmon and it was available in a half size which is perfect for me. I have early Sangria Sunday planned for later so I really only needed a small portion to hold me over. I placed my order and had to wait 15 mins. While I waited I watched the sandwich maker. I was completely entranced.

I grabbed the sandwich and made my way home to do some reading and enjoy my lunch.

I enjoy coming home because I can use my own supplemental food, rather than buying more while I’m out. My sandwich did come with a side of olives!

So delicious.

The sandwich had arugula, smoked salmon, dill and a cream cheese on whole wheat.

Worth the wait! This sandwich reminds me of one that I used to get all the time at Flour in Boston. The spiciness of the arugula and creaminess of the cream cheese with the cool smoked salmon was a great combination.

Overall, I love SMFM but I will probably go to Brentwood FM occasionally if the Saturday FM run doesn’t work.

Fish Tacos: the remix

I was able to come home for lunch because its the last week of work and I have very little to do. I have a lot of errands to run in advance of school starting in about 2 weeks that I want to check off my to do list. Can you believe school starts so soon? Time is flying by!

For lunch I took leftover taco ingredients and made a salad:

In the mix: lettuce, yellow pepper, red onion, cucumber, goat cheese, peach salsa, pita chips, and tilapia.

I cannot lie. I have a love for peach salsa with goat cheese. Best combo ever! Off to run more errands and hit a yoga class per my plan!

Fish Tacos

Today I was craving guac and fish so I decided to make fish tacos for dinner. I started with the guac which is very simple.

I used avocado

I also added S&P, garlic powder, tomato,  onion, and lime

and then you mix!


Yum! I love fresh and chunky guac. This was perfectly salty because of the sea salt that I added. I enjoyed it with a guiltless pita chip.

Then I got around to the fish. I used about 3/4 lbs of tilapia (3 servings), dried it and cut it into pieces

S&P and broil for about 7 mins, flipping half way through

While the fish was cooking I heated up the corn tortillas

And prepped my toppings which included peach salsa, the guac, and goat cheese

Prepped tacos:

Finally the fish was finished cooking.

Final product:

Yum! I hate to toot my own horn, but this was DELICIOUS! I love fish tacos as demonstrated here, and this was good. I actually liked broiled as opposed to fried. Its just fresher. The guac was the perfect mix of salt and lime. The peach salsa added a sweetness to the mix and the goat cheese cooled it off. When have I ever not loved goat cheese?

Yummy, quick and simple! I cannot wait for the leftovers!

Assembly Required

Today’s lunch required some assembly…

Don’t you just love leftovers? It makes lunch so much easier. I just had to slice some tomato this morning and I was all ready for work. I noticed that I had gotten into buying my lunch far too often. This way I can save money and have something delicious to eat.

Ezekiel bread, goat cheese, tomato, and leftover salmon cakes. The salmon cakes made for a delightful and very hearty sandwich.

Much better than the typical wheat sandwich that I’ve been getting weekly with stale bread.

After work I ran 5 miles! I haven’t started 1/2 marathon training yet, but I’m feeling pretty confident about it. All a 1/2 marathon really is is the loop that I typically run about three times. I can’t do it right now, but if I work on upping my mileage and taking it slow I should be able to do it.

For dinner I had whole wheat pasta with broccoli, red onion and goat cheese. The recipe calls for ricotta but I really don’t like ricotta (its the only cheese I don’t love). Goat cheese was a wonderful substitute.

Yep, it was a hungry girl portion…

I deserve it after the long run. Tomorrow’s dinner will be a major treat! I am finally checking out Taste which I have heard is amazing. Can’t wait!

Dijon Salmon Cakes with Couscous

As promised, something interesting on Left Coast Contessa!

Tonight Catie came over for our HBO night: True Blood, Hung, and Entourage. Can I just say True Blood is amazing? Franklin Mott is insane and I love it!

Before Catie some over I got cracking on Salmon Cakes, which is out of Augusts “Real Simple”. Combine in the food processor…

1 lb. of Salmon

Scallions

S&P then mix it up! Once you have mixed a little bit add…

Panko (shout out to Catie’s mom who gave me some!)

Dijon Mustard. Then combine in the processor. Mix until combined.

You take the material and make a came out of it. 1 lb of salmon will make 8 cakes (there are 2 cakes in a serving).

How good does this look?

Obviously, at this point you want to get a pan out and put some EVO in it.

Cook for about 2 mins on either side. While this is going on its a good idea to make some couscous. I made a Trader Joe’s couscous mix and I added cut up olives and basil. I also put a small dollop of goat cheese on the cakes, because goat cheese is delicious and why not?

The final product:

Fantastic! These salmon cakes are so easy to make and could be served so many ways! I already have a creative idea for my lunch tomorrow since Catie and I ate all the couscous.

One more glamor shot!

I also made cookies for work tomorrow! Get excited law clerks!

In other interesting news: school starts in one month. This summer is flying by! Today I pledged to myself that I would be seriously committed to reading a few books that I have wanted to crack all summer but still haven’t read. First is “Fly Away Home” which I started today. I am about 60 pages in. Then I want to finish “The Help”, “One Day” and “Poison Wood Bible”. Today I might have spent 2 hours at Borders. I started to read “The Lonely Polygamist”. I have to say that it was a page turner but that I didn’t buy it. I just don’t want to spend part of the rest of my vacation reading about a man having a mid life crisis. Strong female heroines ahoy.

Happy Hour at Hudson

Tonight I met up with Jill for dinner happy hour at Hudson in West Hollywood. Hudson has some great happy hour specials and Jill’s co worker recommended it so I was pretty excited to try it. I love a good happy hour special.

So, I drove to the address and I was kinda confused. See, its off of Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood which is a pretty commercial area, but you turn on Crescent Heights and its all residential. I didn’t see a sign or anything so I double checked the address in my phone and I was correct. I finally found it. Guess this, it didn’t have a sign. How LA, right?

Finally something with name of the restaurant on it…

And that tree on the cover? Actually growing in the middle of the restaurant. Who says you can’t see nature in this city?

I love the jar of water that we were served. Jill and I quickly settled on having red wine. At happy hour the daily wine special is only $3, today the selection was a Cabernet. Happy hour vino Wednesdays for the win! Classy, delicious, and full bodied. I am a fan.

We ordered a total of three appetizers which we split including:

Ahi Tuna Tar Tar. The sweet sauce was really good and the combo of that and the tuna was well balanced out by the avocado. Very good.

Short Rib Tacos. I know, I’ve had a ton of tacos this week. These were good. Short rib is delicious. Seasoned but not too seasoned. The cool dressing was also good.

Heirloom Tomato Caprese. Love the heirlooms and balsamic vinegar. This salad was fresh and summer like. The tomato was perfectly ripe which made the salad even better.

Overall, I really liked Hudson. The prices on the dinner menu were a bit steep for me but the happy hour is a great deal. We both ate for $15 and had wine with our meal which normally makes a meal more expensive. Plus, the decor is really trendy and chic. They had the windows open making Hudson a great place to enjoy an after work drink in the summer. Definitely highly recommended!

go to The Kitchen!

Happy Tuesday!

I am so full right now! I met up with my uncle Joe and my uncle Danny for dinner in Silver Lake after work. Silver lake is the silver lining of my job location. I work only 15 mins away! Tonight went to Kitchen and had an amazing dinner.

Cool wall, huh? The inside of the restaurant is very minimal and they have this awesome round red booth that we got to sit in. There is a great menu featuring a mixture of appies, entrees (lots of delicious fish! I had to say no to salmon, I’ve been a bit of a salmon monster recently with the smoked salmon sandwich’s and stuffed salmon) and sandwiches.

So cool. This turned out to be a truly epic meal. We started with calamari. The calamari was chewy and just crispy enough.

For my entree I ordered a favorite of mine: Mussels with garlic, roasted red pepper and basil.

Holy moley do I love my mussels! I had no problem polishing these babies off. They were light, summery, garlicy and delightful! I also had a treat off of Joe’s plate, goat cheese latkes!!

and here is the money shot…

I mean, do I need to use words to describe this? Goat cheese, check! Potato, check! Fried, check! I love it.

And just when you think the meal is over…

flourless chocolate cake. and if that was not enough…

strawberry. shortcake. I mean… do I even need to leave a comment here? So delish. I love an extravagant meal. And I haven’t worked out today so this is just a calorie wash which is completely fine with me. Today I weighed myself and realized that I have lost 15 lbs since the beginning of the year. I can’t complain. I have races and healthy eats in my future… its all good. Oh, and btw- The Kitchen comes highly recommended from me!

Signs of Summer

Hey there bloggies.

I have an announcement.

Yesterday I successfully ran without pain.

I have child’s pose to thank. I kicked it in this posture until my hip opened up. It hurt getting into the posture but boy am I glad that I did. I think I just was really really tight in my hips and needed to loosen up.

Also, I finished my first “training” week. And it went a little something like this:

Monday: 4.1 mile run

Tuesday: power yoga

Wednesday: off, triceps dips

Thursday: 4.1 mile run

Friday: triceps dips

Saturday: 4.1 mile run

Sunday: triceps dips, yoga crunches, and sun salutations

Wonderful! I wanted to try and make yoga today but I had a Simmons Club of LA event and then I had to go to Target and Trader Joe’s. There just wasn’t time in the day. Plus, I was able to make it to Josh’s place to watch True Blood, which was fantastic!

Then I enjoyed this healthy dinner.

Roasted brussel sprouts and stuffed salmon. Ab Fab!

Good night readers!