Sunday, December 23

Oh, hey there!

I’m back! After a long hiatus and something of a move (to the Pacific Northwest), I’ve decided it’s time to start cooking again. Granted Portland, my new home, is BEAUTIFUL but it can begin to feel a little depressing when winter settles in. After a few weeks of feeling trapped beneath the grey sky I decided not to succumb to what is widely known up here as S.A.D. but rather to use the colors in my kitchen to brighten my mood. The first recipe that I decided to try out is an absolutely delicious Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad. The recipe I played with is easy, straight forward and completely customizable. Feel free to add (or omit) whatever you feel like, just make sure you use as many bright colors as possible so the finished product not only assaults your taste buds but is easy on the eyes as well.

¾ c. quinoa (any kind will do)
1 ½ c. vegetable broth (or water)
a large handful of cherry or grape tomatoes (whichever is ripest)
½ red bell pepper
½ cucumber
a bunch of curly parsley (finely chopped)
10 mint leaves (finely chopped)
½ medium red onion
5 cloves garlic
juice of 1 super juicy lemon
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ c. really good olive oil (or as much as you’d like to add)
salt and pepper to taste

I make my quinoa using vegetable broth, just to give it a little more flavor. Pour the quinoa in a saucepan and add the broth (or water) over high heat. Once it starts to boil cover with the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. You’re going to let this simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa absorbs all the liquid.

In the meantime get your knives out because you are going to spend the next 20 minutes chopping. Chop all of your veggies and throw them into a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top, salt and pepper them, and once the quinoa has finished cooking add the quinoa directly over the top. Combine everything and pour your olive oil over top. You can eat this beautiful medley of flavors right away or you can let your concoction sit in the fridge overnight so the flavors have a chance to soak into each other. I added avocado over the top just to add a little somethin extra. I’d say this recipe definitely worked to pull me out of my rainy day funk. Did it work for you?  

I wish my pictures were as bright and sunny as my ones from LA! But here is a better look at some of those beautiful colors during the day. 

Tuesday, April 24

A Meal Without Chocolate is like a Day Without Sun.

I have been on an UNNATURALLY healthy diet lately (thus the lack of posts), but this weekend I decided to take a break from it and have some fun. I stole the recipe for these almond raspberry cupcakes with chocolate ganache from my new favorite blog: Joy the Baker! They are delicious! Light and fluffy and the frosting is perfect (not too over-the-top like disgusting buttercream frosting). PLUS, they are so easy to make you can knock them out in half an hour. 

Get together: 
1 c. all purpose flour 
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
1/8 tsp. salt 
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 c. sugar 
1 large egg 
1/4 tsp. almond extract [personally I think these could use 1/2 tsp.] 
1/2 c. whole milk 
1/3 cup raspberries roughly chopped
3/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips 
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream 

First things first - preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Next, line a muffin tin with liners [or parchment paper]. 

Now mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In another bowl beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture turns pale and fluffy on a medium speed. Slowly add the egg and almond extract. Then beat in half of your flour mixture, followed by the milk, and then the last half of the flour mixture. Be careful to beat together until just barely mixed. 

And that's it! Pour the batter into your muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes! 

Yum yum yummmmmmmm. How delicious do those look?! The almond extract gives the cupcakes another dimension of flavor that make these cupcakes stand out against others. What I really liked about these cupcakes was that they weren't overly sweet. The raspberries were tart enough to balance out the richness of the chocolate ganache. 

The chocolate ganache is a little tricky, but truly worth it. Set the chocolate chips aside in a small bowl. Take the heavy whipping cream and heat it in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer (be careful not to burn it). Pour the warmed cream evenly over the chocolate chips and let it sit for about a minute before you stir the two together. The recipe says this will be sufficient to melt the chocolate, but of course it didn't work for me. I let the chocolate and cream mixture sit on top of my oven and let the heat from the baking cupcakes melt the rest of the chips (and if even this method fails you the Barefoot Contessa swears by microwaving chocolate so throw that bowl in the microwave!). Then spread heaping amounts over your cupcakes and enjoy! 

So what do you think? Why is the combination of chocolate and raspberries so damn good?! 

Sunday, March 4

Wish List

1. KitchenAid Mixer (especially one in this beautiful cream color or a cool mint color)
Then I would be able to post recipe's for bread and cookies and cakes (once again paying homage to my voracious sweet tooth)!

2. Moroccan Tagine 
Having one of these would allow me to post some of my favorite mouth-watering stew and curry recipes.

3. Nikon D7000 
To make you drool more effectively than my dinky iPhone photos allow for. 

Friday, March 2

Arguably the best pancakes in the world

My mom and I don't get to see each other very often so when she came up to visit me on Sunday we planned an entire day of fun! We ventured out to the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market (which is awesome! if you haven't been I strongly urge you to make a trip) and then we drove out to Playa del Rey and Culver City and began apartment hunting. But what really set the mood for the day was how we started our morning - with these blueberry cornmeal pancakes. I surprised even myself by how good these turned out. You have to try them! 

[clockwise: cornmeal, vanilla, butter, all purpose flour, blueberries, cinnamon, aluminum
free baking powder, corn flour, milk, eggs, syrup] 
¼ c. corn flour (this was kind of hard for me to find, it’s the flour people use to make corn tortillas, but it’s really worth tracking down – I think this might be what makes the recipe)
½ c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ c. coarse grind cornmeal
½ tsp. salt
3 tbls. sugar
½ c. boiling water
5 tbls. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs beaten
1 c. fresh blueberries

Start off by mixing the corn flour, the all-purpose flour, the baking powder, and the cinnamon in a bowl and set it aside. Then in a separate bowl mix the cornmeal, salt, and sugar together. Add the boiling water to this mixture and let it stand for about 5 minutes. In the meantime put your skillet on the stove and start getting it hot. Stir in the butter, milk, vanilla, and eggs and then slowly sift in the flour mixture. Mix the ingredients together until they are just combined. Then throw some butter on your skillet and pour the batter on top. Sprinkle the top with blueberries and cook until the edges begin bubbling. Then flip them over and brown the other side. Don’t forget to butter the skillet in between pancakes ;)

This recipe comes from one of my favorite chef’s – Dorie Greenspan. Google her, you’ll thank yourself.

Sunday, February 26

The Ideal Winter Soup

[clockwise: large yellow onion, green onions, toasted sesame oil, vegetable broth, olive oil,
bunch of carrots, ginger, miso paste, garlic (not shown) ] 

Ok ... I realize that by now you have probably figured out I have an insatiable sweet tooth. But I am going to break the cycle and start uploading some savory dishes. What is better in the cold month of February than soup?! I tracked down this recipe for Miso Ginger Carrot Soup (thank you Smitten Kitchen) and I don't even have words for how good it was. Not to mention how easy it is to make. All you need is a potato peeler, an immersion blender, and some sort of pot to house your delicious creation. 

Start by peeling 1 or 2 bunches of carrots (approx. 2 lbs) and then dice them into small medallions. Then dice the onion and about 4 or 5 cloves of garlic. Throw all of this into your pot with some olive oil and sautee for roughly 10 minutes, or until the onions look translucent (you don't want them to cook for too long).

After your veggies are done cooking you're going to grate about 1 or 2 tablespoons of ginger and add this along with 4 cups of vegetable broth to your concoction. Put the lid on and let simmer for 30 minutes. Your apartment will quickly begin to smell absolutely amazing. 

After 30 minutes have gone by take a fork and test the carrots - they should be tender to the touch (if you have an old apartment stove like I do you may have to let your soup cook for another 10 minutes or so). Now comes the fun part: time to break out the immersion blender. Put the blender right into the pot and start blending! Your mixture will transform itself in a matter of seconds. To add the miso paste take a bowl of the blended soup and a whisk and simply whisk in about 1/4 c. of the miso paste then add this the big pot and VOILA! You are finished. How easy is that? 

Verdict: YUUUUUMMMMMMM! The sesame oil and onions really add another dimension of flavor (although if you aren't a green onion fan the soup is fantastic on its own as well - it has a nice layer of sweetness to it).  

(Go ahead and try to tell me this doesn't make your mouth water from just looking at the photos)

Thursday, February 9


The 40 days of yoga are COMPLETE! 

And it feels so good! I'm still working on my goal pose, but I found a great 'how to' video on youtube that I thought I'd share with everyone in case you want to try to nail this by the end of the year with me. 

She makes it look easy, right? 

Saturday, January 28


I officially quit my job! YAYAYAYAYAYY! Finally! After months of job searching I finally found something that sounds kind of interesting. I'm going to start working for this private jet/private plane concierge service in Santa Monica. Monday is my first day, so we'll see how it goes ;] Although everyone close to me knows how much I hated working at Tada, I did love the people that I worked with (well .. maybe I hated my boss, but he gave me a goodbye and good luck hug on Friday and it kind of melted my heart). I'm going to miss them all! I decided blueberry muffins were as good a way of saying goodbye as any. I got the recipe for these off of one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen. 

[clockwise from top: all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, lemons, baking soda, blueberries, salt, sour cream, sugar, baking powder, large eggs] 

I took myself over to Target and invested in some mini-muffin pans for this recipe (you can do full size if you prefer, but I wanted to make a ton so everyone could snack on them throughout the day). You can use muffin liners or you can do the parchment paper trick, but I just brushed the sides of the muffin pan with butter because, c'mon - who doesn't like a crispy, buttery crust on their muffins?? 

Start by turning your oven to 375 so it can start heating up. Then use an electric mixer to beat together 5 tbsp. of unsalted butter and ½ c. of sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy (this works best if the butter is softened). Then add in 1 large egg and beat the mixture together well. Next drop in ¾ c. sour cream and ½ tsp. of lemon zest. 

Now in a separate bowl mix together 1 ½ c. all-purpose flour, 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. baking soda, and ¼ tsp. salt. The recipe asks you to put this into a sifter and sift it slowly into the wet batter but I don't own a sift so I just added the dry mixture a couple spoonfuls at a time. Mix these together until the flour just disappears. Then fold in ¾ c. blueberries. 

Since I turned these into minis I had to alter the cooking time. The original recipe called for the muffins to cook for 25-30 minutes but in mini-size they only need to cook for about 13-15 minutes. Just keep an eye on them towards the end. 

I am SO glad that I made these! They were amazing (and so easy to make!!!). Let me know how yours turn out ... and if you would tweak the recipe at all! 

Thursday, January 26

Easy Hard-Boiled Eggs

I have never really been a fan of hard-boiled eggs. They have always smelled weird to me and I've never really fantasized about creating any dishes using them. But for some reason I was contemplating what to make for lunch today and I got an instant craving for them! Since I had never made them before I read a ton of ways to make them online and after experimenting a little I think I found the best way to make PERFECT hard-boiled eggs. 

Put your eggs in a sauce pan or pot and cover them with water. Put this on the stove and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling put the top on the pot and reduce the heat to simmering. Set the timer for 10 minutes. When they have cooked for 10 minutes immediately drain the water and put the eggs in a bath of ice water to cool them down faster and to prevent further cooking. 

Et voila! Perfect hard-boiled eggs. They are great to use in salad's when you are took lazy to saute chicken or steak (like I was today).  

Saturday, January 21

Book Club, #1

Talk about twisted endings.


Book: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn

Discussion Questions posed by Gillian Flynn:

1)  “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ…Draw a picture of my soul and it’d be a scribble with fangs.” What does Libby’s opening narration tell you about how she views herself? Do you agree with her description? 
I think Libby Day is a character with nothing left to lose. Yes she is mean and frequently insulting, but these outbursts are not completely unwarranted. Maybe this is just as much a reminder to herself as it is to the rest of the world not to get too close. 

2)  The Kill Club is a macabre group obsessed with true crimes. Why do you think we are so interested in the murders of people we don’t know? Is the fascination exploitive, or does it serve some purpose? 
I think that people are interested in the murders of people they don’t know because it provides a thrill without the consequences.  It isn’t necessarily exploitive, people sometimes because obsessed with things to defer from their own reality. Look at the members of the Kill Club – you can’t exactly make the argument that they are leading fulfilling lives.

3)  Libby became famous as a victim—how do you think this strange fame affected her? Would she have been better adjusted had she never become famous? 
I think she may have been less jaded had she not become famous, but that doesn’t mean she would have been better adjusted. Since her rise to fame occurred at such a young age I think she began associating her self-worth with the level of her fame. Kind of similar to child actors. I think the childhood fame just added another layer of dysfunction to her life.

4)  What do you think of Patty Day as a mother? Is she doing the best she can, or is she making excuses for herself? What emotions ultimately fuel her choices?  Can you see yourself making the choices she makes? 
The ending actually made me cry because it reminded me so much of my own mom. I’m not saying that my mom would go to the extremes that Patty did, but I think Patty truly did what she thought was best. She acted out of desperation and while her decision might have been irrational and over the top she didn't know what else to do. She didn't have anyone else to turn to. I don't think that I would make the choices she made, but I can't say for sure. I've never been in that kind of debt before or experienced that severe desperation, and probably depression, that Patty felt on a daily basis. 

5) What do you believe is Diondra’s motivation throughout the story? Does it change, or is it consistent? Does her relationship with Ben change him? 
Diondra is a hard nut to crack. Of course her relationship with Ben changes him. Love changes everyone and fictional characters are no exception. I think Diondra's motivation stays relatively consistent throughout the story. Her only motivation is self preservation and regardless of what situation she gets herself into that remains her first and only concern. 

Now I want to hear your answers!
Ps, I read her other novel Sharp Objects and it is just as good so if you like her writing style I highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, January 17


To kick off 2012 I embarked on what I like to call 30 days of yoga. 30 yoga classes over the course of 40 days (initially I wanted to do 30 classes in 30 days but after consulting with my yoga instructor Tad we agreed 30 classes in 40 days would be best for my body). Today is my 15th class (20th day) of this challenge to myself. Although I’ve been playing with yoga since I was about 14, my involvement in the sport (yes I said sport) got more serious when I began working in the UCLA psychophysiology lab with the man who single-handedly proved that consistent yoga practice can put moderate depression in REMISSION. Long story short it has turned into one of my passions. My yoga goal this year is to accomplish this pose:

Vrschikasana (aka Scorpion)

I watched my new friend from yoga class, Bobby, perform this one day and I was awestruck. I can do Pincha Mayurasana, the first step to getting into Scorpion, but I am struggling with taking my feet towards my head.

Pincha Mayurasana (aka Forearm Balance)

I can’t wait to get strong enough to do this pose! Is it nerdy that Bobby’s compliment, “You would make a beautiful Scorpion!” made me smile for days?

What are some of your passions in life? Or some of your goals for 2012?

Ps, for those science/psychology nerds out there the name of the study I worked on is Yoga as a Complementary Treatment of Depression: Effects of Traits and Moods on Treatment Outcome and the investigator is Dr. David Shapiro. You can find the full PDF on Google Scholar.