Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!

In case your friends don't send you silly spam emails and you haven't seen this one...

Don't leave beer near your pumpkins! (gross huh?)

We went to a fun Halloween party and I wore a sailor costume I had lying around. I look very tired and rumpled because we took pics when we got home - I forgot to take photos before we left. Next year I am determined to be a cavegirl!

This morning I'm going to the farmer's market to pick up some free range lamb chops I ordered and get some fresh fruits and veggies. Then it's time to watch football (GO TROJANS!) and hand out money instead of candy to the trick-or-treating kiddies.

Happy Halloween to you all! Boo!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Enjoyed breakfast on the front steps watching the squirrels in the trees. Chai tea with a splash of cream.  Scrambled egg with bacon and orange tomato. Nice way to start the morning!

This is my typical weekday breakfast except I often have coffee made in my mini french press. YUM YUM!

Have a fantastic day today! :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I absolutely love information. I don't know how I survived before the internet made knowledge readily available at all times with a few clicks on the keyboard. Since I got an iphone, this access has become even more awesome! Having a debate with a friend over what countries share a border with Greece? Look it up instantly! Trying to remember the spanish word for sweetbreads? It's at your fingertips.

I love it.

But do you know what gives me the information I crave along with a deep sense of tranquility and happiness? A used bookstore!

I LOVE used bookstores, always have. I love their dusty smells and their creaky floors. They are dinosaurs in this internet age. When I find one still in business I am so thrilled!

These are photos of one of my very favorite used bookstores in LA. I was there the other day and I got 10 books for $40. Good books too! Look how the floors have been worn down by years of shoppers wandering the isles in search of information.

I adore the internet, but you just can't get that same sense of quiet peace as you feel in an old bookstore.

Sorry this has nothing to do with food! Just rambling...have a great day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Randomness chicken

Hey all!

Happy Wednesday!

Last night was another randomness from the refrigerator leftovers one pan meal challenge! Man, how can these random dinners be so darn tasty?

Sauteed red bell pepper with lots of chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Adding the red pepper flakes to the oil is a good trick instead of just adding them as seasoning at the end, it creates depth of flavor. When the red peppers were cooked a bit, added sliced yellow and green zucchini, shredded chicken leftovers, chopped olives, and fresh oregano. Easy, simple, done in 5 minutes. I sprinkled a little cheese on top for some salty yumminess.

This was meal #4 from a small roasted chicken. I think maybe there is one more left and then time for stock!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I was supposed to be fasting today but then I just got really hungry and decided to go to the gross cafe in my office building to get something for lunch. Knowing how large the portions sizes are, I thought I'd just ask for a scoop of tuna.

This is what I got. It's not even the size of a golf ball!

I guess the insignificant size was my punishment? I should have just stuck with fasting as planned. haha! I'm still very hungry so I guess it didn't interrupt the fast that much...

Halloween and squash

I love Halloween! Dressing up is so fun and I especially like seeing everyone's costumes at this wild party we go to every year. Here was a funny one from last year!!!

Last year I was a beer girl (appropriate for my German heritage haha) - this year I haven't quite decided...any ideas?

In honor of upcoming Halloween, here is a yummy pumpkin recipe. Well, OK... butternut squash. A very simple recipe!

Dice up the butternut squash or whatever squash you like best. I have to say that this is definitely the hardest part of the recipe, especially if you peel it. What a pain! You need a big sharp knife and strong wrists.

Once you have your squash cut into cubes or slices, throw it on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until the squash pieces are softened and golden. Just before it is done you can toss in some chopped garlic and rosemary for extra yumminess. Or instead of rosemary, try adding a dash of cumin, and fresh cilantro on top with a squeeze of lime. YUM!

This is a great side dish or I even add it to salads. It is a wonderful thing to have in the fridge for making lunches, or eating with leftover meats. It's one of my staples in the fall months.

Do you like butternut squash, pumpkin or other winter squash? How do you cook them?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lamb koftas - Gosht kae Kofta

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing weekend!

I mentioned the other day that I wanted to make lamb koftas from 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra but I didn't have any cilantro handy. Well, I got the cilantro so I tried the koftas. Yum!

A very interesting recipe...You cook the meat with the spices first, then add egg and form it into meatballs and fry them. Hmmm. I had never thought to cook the meat first before making the balls. Ostensibly the cooking is supposed to help remove the moisture from the meat  - I think I screwed that part up. Oops!

I added a bit more spice in relation to meat than was called for in the recipe, so here is my adaptation:

1/2 lb ground lamb
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 dried red chiles (I used chile de arbol)
1 quarter size piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon garam masala
salt and black pepper
1 egg (recipe called for two egg whites - what is the diff?)
oil for frying - I used a mix of coconut oil and bacon grease
chaat masala for sprinkling on top

Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, chiles until the onions are mostly cooked - then add the meat, cilantro, garam masala, salt and pepper and cook on medium-low until moisture has evaporated. Let the mix cool, then add to food processor with 1 egg. Mix until spices etc are ground up into the meat and mixture is sticky.

Form into little balls and fry in the oil. You can deep fry them which would be super tasty, but I just kind of pan fried them.

OK so, these are supposed to be meat balls - they turned out to be meat "shapes". hahahaha!!! I think I didn't get the moisture out and my balls were not sticky enough. I've got balls, cylinders and disks, oops. Not the most photogenic food...

They were tasty though!!! I was going to eat them with a salad or some veggies but I got to eating so late and I was so hungry I just ate them with a little yogurt sauce - yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, mint, cilantro - my favorite lamb condiment. Leftovers too!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Funny junk

Whew! My trip to Las Vegas was tiring! Between work and play I did not get very much rest at all. My feet hurt something awful!!!

I managed to not eat junk at the show, thanks for your words of encouragement! Well, I did try one super spicy dorito, it was delicious and so hot it made my tongue swell!

Lots of energy products and enhanced waters were showcased (one booth complete with a water slide and pool for the bikini clad models to slide into). Water to make you skinny, sexy or smart - energy gum, drinks, candies, mints, even chips! I am not a fan of energy stuff, but a colleague found this energy nasal spray thing that he loved and kept sniffing. I think it kept him going for 48 hrs haha!

Collecting free crap and eating/drinking the samples is very popular at the show and my coworkers always go crazy. Unfortunately this year they were not able to attend so they asked me to bring stuff back for them. I just did not have it in my heart to bring back bags of candy and snacks, so I collected other things that I thought might be useful or at least give them a laugh. You can see for yourself...hehe!

On a side note, there is something cool about Las Vegas that I hadn't really thought about until this trip. Most everyone there is traveling and out of their comfort zone and routine. They are a little more open and friendly than usual. So it is a really great place to meet people! I think I made some really fantastic new friends and have fresh enthusiasm for sin city. Good thing since I am back in a few months for another conference!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Have a wonderful weekend!

I'd like to start the weekend with a quote I heard recently, I think it is one of the most beautiful quotes I have ever heard.

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
-Mark Twain

I hope you all have a terrific weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well, I'm off to Las Vegas again! This time not for fun, but for work. I get to stand in the booth all day and repeat myself 10 million times like the good little sales person that I am! :)

The conference that I am attending is a HUGE one devoted to convenience stores. All the wonderful items that are sold in convenience stores are showcased at the convention: candy, beer, cigarettes, chips, soda, gasoline, hot dogs, pizza, porn, knickknacks, magazines, coffee, gum, ice cream, fried foods, and most of all - energy drinks! A bonanza of junk food sampling.

I'll report back from the front lines of the junk food battles, and promise to take some photos for you of the interesting "food items" at the show! Scary stuff!

Wish me lots of luck in avoiding the consumption of dangerous junk food temptations!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Roasted chicken

Happy Monday to everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

I had a nice trip to the farmer's market and purchased some lovely veggies and herbs, some eggs and a free range chicken. (you can see the raspberries are half gone already. I eat them as I wander the market!)

Do you make roasted chicken? I guess it is one of the simplest meals you can think of, but supposedly it is not foolproof to prepare. The chicken can come out dry as dust, or with flabby skin, or raw in some parts and overcooked in others.

I use my own variation of the Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe and it works beautifully. This method involves salting the chicken and letting it rest for about a day, then patting it dry and roasting in a very hot oven.

First I cut up a butternut squash into large chunks as a bed for the chicken. Then I cooked the chicken breast side up at 475 degrees for about 30 minutes. After that time I flipped the chicken and cooked breast side down for 15 minutes, then flipped it again for 15 minutes to get the breast skin crisped. It came out perfectly done and the butternut squash pieces were soft and filled with the chicken juices. I threw some chopped basil in there at the last flipping, those are the blackish blobs you see.

The chicken doesn't look beautiful enough for Gourmet magazine but the skin was crispy and the meat was juicy. The bottom appears burned but those were just bits of delicious "fond". After pouring off the extra fat, you can make a wonderful pan sauce by adding some wine, lemon juice or vinegar and a little water to the fond. Yum yum!

Driving to work this morning I saw a peregrine falcon chasing pigeons over the 10 freeway. I think it was a good sign! Have a terrific day! :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Duck leg dinner

Of course I love to cook, but sometimes it's nice to go out to a fancy meal for a change of pace.

Check out this pretty plate: duck leg over cauliflower, grapes, dates and I think elderberries?

VERY rich and super yummy-licious with a glass of Poppy pinot noir from Monterey. (do you know how hard it is to type "Poppy"? I typed Poopy like 10x before getting it right haha)

I looked up the wine later - it is $9.99 for a bottle. Not bad since my glass was $11! Whew what a mark up! I'd drink it again, but I don't think it is that much different than my regular cheapo pinot noir from Trader Joe's at about the same price.

Wishing a great weekend to you all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Best burger ever!

I was feeling kinda throat hurt, I felt a little hot, a little cold - you know the drill. I have been around A LOT of sick friends lately so I was very afraid that the dreaded cold was upon me. But I refuse to give in!

Starve a fever, feed a cold? Or is it the opposite? Either way, I was craving a comforting decadent meal. Mmmm, a burger sounded great. I went off to the grocery store for some ground lamb, but they didn't have any so I opted for the grassfed beef. Funny thing, I noticed that I have blogged about ground turkey, pork, bison (ad nauseum) and lamb - but never basic ground beef. haha!

While at the store I was buying feta in the bulk section and saw they had a big tub of roasted garlic. Normally I make my own but I thought I'd throw a bunch of cloves in with my hunk of cheese. An excellent decision!

To go with the burger I thought I would make aioli. OK so I have never made aioli before, because I am a mayo hater. Therefore you can probably guess that I have never made mayonnaise before either! I refuse to buy it at the store because it is made with canola oil which I think is scary. I have seen recipes for olive oil mayo on many of the excellent blogs so I figured I could try it myself. SUCCESS!!! Thank you to everyone who has posted recipes! I am happy to report that it was incredibly easy even though I did not measure anything and I don't understand why the stupid food network etc makes it sound impossible and complicated...

Question for you mayonnaise makers - since all egg yolks are different sizes, how do you know when to stop adding oil? Until it firms up? How firm? or unlike me do you simply follow a recipe? :)

In case you are curious, here are the details for my tasty meal.

Burger: I chopped up a ton of the roasted garlic and mixed it with a blob of ground beef and a dash of salt. Cooked it in bacon grease, and threw a little aged gruyere cheese on top.

Sweet potato fries: love these!!! Sliced up a sweet potato and baked in 400 deg oven until done, prob 20-30 minutes? Salt and thyme added afterward. Threw some onions on the pan to caramelize as well.

Pimenton aioli: mixed my homemade mayo with pimenton de la vera, chopped roasted garlic and a drop of lemon juice. SO DELICIOUS!!! I am so happy to have learned something new and added mayo to my repertoire. Thanks you guys!!!

This was a simple meal, but took more effort than usual because I made several things at the same time. It was worth any minimal energy I put in because it was the best burger ever! The beef was so juicy and tender (I think I am used to bison), and it didn't need the added cheese - I ended up taking it off once I took the first bite. The sweet potatoes were yummy and the aioli was killer. Killer I tell you! Try it!!!

Thanks for reading this lonnnnnnng post! You deserve an award!

Do you have any secrets for a great burger? Try adding roasted or raw garlic to the meat and tell me what you think. And try the pimenton aioli, ok? :) Next time I am having it with fish. YUM!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Arugula pesto, cool kitchen gadgets

Hey my friends! How are you today?

Another simple but yummy meal for you... arugula pesto with fish! This is sole but any fish or chicken would be good for this meal.

Have you made arugula pesto before? It's the same as regular basil pesto, only obviously you use arugula instead! Add garlic, nuts (I used macadamia), arugula, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and blend in a processor. I add a little water if it won't mix up well. You can add cheese too, sometimes I do!

Do you make pestos with different herbs? What's your fav?

I had sauteed zucchini along with the sole. I sliced the zucchini on my mandoline, that way it cooks instantly. I like it to get a little browned too. And some lovely orange tomato for pretty color and tangy-ness.

Do you have a mandoline? I have two. They are cool and cheap, I recommend looking for one if you don't have one already! Don't you love the bright colors? The one on the left makes little shredded matchstick shapes and the one on the right makes thin slices. (my hands look really scary, no I don't bite my nails!)

Enjoy your day today!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Simple one pan meals

Hi my friends!!!

I enjoy cooking, but I don't pretend to be an amazing gourmet chef. I just know what I think tastes good and make things I like to eat. Sometimes I try to go the extra mile and prepare something that requires a bit more effort, but for the most part I make quick, simple meals.

I am sure the vast majority of you are much better cooks than me! But perhaps one or two of you are visiting because you need a little encouragement to get into the kitchen and turn up the heat!

Today I just want to say that preparing food can be so simple and easy.

Here is a meal I made -again- the other night: lamb and peppers. Total chopping time 2 minutes, total cooking time maybe 10 minutes, only one pot to clean. (only one dish if you ate out of the pan! haha) Total ingredients: 8 including salt. And let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS.

Cut up peppers and red onion, saute in bit of bacon grease. Cut up lamb, garlic, and thyme - throw in same pan with a bit more bacon grease. Sprinkle lamb with pimenton de la vera and salt while it sears to medium rare. Done.

Eat. Make mmmm sounds. Lick plate. Pat full belly. Smile contentedly.

Tell me - do you often cook elaborate meals or do you make simple dishes like this? Which do you prefer to eat?

On another topic...

The other day I was listening to NPR and happened upon an interview with Eckhart Tolle. Are you familiar with him? He is AMAZING. Take a moment to listen to the interview if you get a chance,  or watch this video series. I am re-reading The Power of NOW, what a great book. I have not read his more recent book - A New Earth - have any of you?
At the same time I am also reading I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Quite disparate material...haha!

Have an awesome day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Involtini di Melanzane

This turned out to be quite the comical looking recipe!

I had some nice shiny eggplant and decided to make involtini di melanzane. I sliced the eggplant lengthwise and baked in a 400 deg oven for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile I mixed together the following: chopped sundried tomatoes, dash of olive oil, grated parmiggiano, fresh basil and oregano, chopped pine nuts, a little prosciutto. (btw you can totally leave out the cheese) When the eggplant slices had softened, I spread a little (tablespoon or less) of the mix on them and rolled them up.

The comical part came when I realized, whoops!, no toothpicks to hold the involtini together. haha! I searched the kitchen...uh incense sticks...nooooo. AH- metal kabab skewers might work! (everything I make lately is stuck on those dang skewers, probably the best purchase I ever made haha!)

I also made a little tomato sauce to go on top of the involtini. You want to know a little tomato sauce secret? When I was a kid I would play at my good friend's house all the time - she had Atari AND ColecoVision AND a pool! Invariably her Hindu mom would make us spaghetti for dinner. I loved it! Her mom's spaghetti tasted so different and so much better than my mom's! Why?

Years later I realized the secret - she added a dash of cumin to the sauce. Just a tiny pinch gives an exotic flavor. I also add a pinch of cinnamon. Just a tiny pinch. You can't put your finger on it but the sauce tastes yummy! I sauteed some garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in olive oil and then added a can of chopped tomatoes and a splash of red wine, plus the spices. Simmer for 10-15 and you have a nice sauce.

After the involtini are rolled up and stabbed with (hopefully) toothpicks, top with some tomato sauce and pop back in the oven until the eggplant is cooked - 10 minutes or so.

Enjoy! :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Source of Joy

"No one knows what makes the soul wake up so happy! Maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil from the face of G-d...Love is a river. Drink from it."
- Rumi

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Evil peanut butter

Peanut butter...evil or not so evil?

Pictured here is one of my favorite fall/winter snacks  - a small apple and 1 tbsp chunky peanut butter. Probably has some sort of childhood association...maybe snack time in preschool? Organic natural peanut butter, no added crap.

I think the paleo/primal crowd believes that peanuts are bad because they are legumes, not true nuts, and also for the aflatoxins and the anti-nutrients. But I am not 100% convinced that peanuts are any more evil than other nut butters.

Peanuts are not evil?

Nutritional facts for 1 tablespoon peanut butter:
100 calories
70 calories from fat (70%)
8 g fat

3.5 g carbs
1 g fiber
4.5 g protein

Nutritional facts for 1 tablespoon almond butter:
101 calories
85 calories from fat (85%)
9.5 g fat
3.4 g carbs
.6 g fiber
2.4 g protein

  • The main difference I see is that peanut butter is slightly lower in fat and slightly higher in protein than the often recommended alternative, almond butter*. So what gives? Does your body REALLY know that a peanut grows on a vine and an almond grows on a tree? Gimme a break! :)

  • Let's look at the aflatoxin issue. Aflatoxins (toxin from Aspergillus fungus) are very bad for you. According to wikipedia, crops which are frequently affected by aflatoxin  "include cereals (maize, sorghum, pearl milllet, rice, wheat), oilseeds (peanut, soybean, sunflower, cotton), spices (chile peppers, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, ginger), and tree nuts (almond, pistachio, walnut, coconut, brazil nut)."

    Yep that's right - TREE NUTS and COCONUT!!! (and boo hoo chile peppers??? Now I am upset!) So when you hear from the "experts" don't eat peanuts cuz they have aflatoxins, notice that some of the same people say that almonds, ginger, coconut are the best foods on earth...?

Peanuts may be a bit evil?

  • Are there really more anti-nutrients, in particular lectins,  in peanuts than real nuts? This might be one thing that is true. Beans and grains, especially wheat, have a ton of lectins. Nightshades - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant - also contain lectins. And eggs and dairy! I'd starve...haha. Looks like I have to do Jezwyn's amazing carnivore plan!

  • What about Omega-3s? Indeed, peanuts are low in Omega-3s. You shouldn't live only on peanut butter but it seems to me that 1 tablespoon or a handful of "pea-legumes" is OK once in a while.

  • Peanuts are a common allergen and you could die of anaphylactic shock. That's BAD. If you are allergic, don't eat them! haha!

  • For some people, nut butters are evil because they cannot stop eating them. They are super high in calories. But that is not just peanut butter.

If you don't want to eat peanut butter, for whatever reason, DON'T of course! :) But think for yourself! Don't force yourself to make gado-gado with almond butter just because someone said you have to! Yucko! :)

So what do YOU think? Peanuts - evil or not so evil?

*btw not bashing almonds - I love almonds! My fav nut.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sole with chanterelle cream sauce

Hi everyone!

YUM YUM!  I made a simple dinner that was quite tasty. If I had ordered it in a restaurant, I would have said "wow, this is darn good!" so I was pretty happy that I made it myself just with what randomness I had in the refrig.

Warning to you paleos: this has butter, cream and cheese in it. Probably that is why it was so good! hehe!

I had some chanterelles and so I sauteed them up in a bit of raw, pastured butter with a clove of garlic and a bit of thyme...I added a pinch of "truffle salt" to the mushrooms as they cooked. Meanwhile I cooked up two small dover sole filets in some more butter, seasoned with black pepper and lemon zest. Takes seriously 1-2 minutes! LOVE the dover sole - it's mild like tilapia only way better!

To the mushrooms, I added about a tablespoon of goat cheese and a tablespoon of cream along with the juice of 1/2 lemon and stirred until the cheese melted into the cream. Poured the sauce and chanterelles over the fish and dinner is served.

On the side a little orange bell pepper with some basil.

My friends, this was really good! Now I know some of you don't do dairy, but if you do, this was easy, quick, tasty. And not bad for you either, imho (less than 400 calories in case you care). If you did order this type of dish in a restaurant, I bet they would use a hell of a lot more butter, cheese, cream and salt. Plus they would serve it with buttery mashed potatoes and the serving size would be 8x as big.

Just an aside, did you notice there are no hot spices in this dish??? How unusual for me! :)

Have a wonderful day! :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A friend and I had a little picnic snack on the grass the other afternoon. I thought I'd share a photo of the treats with you.

Chorizo (YUMMY!), olives, cheese and raspberries go great with a glass of wine, don't you think? That's what I had in my refrigerator so...

To me, this photo just screams autumn. Maybe it is the fallen leaves or the blanket...?

As we were sitting there, a family strolled by with a cute little girl, probably 4 yrs old or so. The little girl said to her parents "Uh oh, are they having a time out?" We all cracked up. I guess she thought we had been bad and gotten thrown out of the house?:)

Have a lovely day!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Friday!

Hi everyone! Happy Friday!

I just got this t-shirt and I love it. Cute huh? Combines my love for dinosaurs and meats. hehe!

It's almost like I designed it myself!

I thought all you paleos might appreciate it more than your average person on the street who sees me prancing around with a lime green T Rex on my boobs and wonders what is my mental problem. I'm too old for this stuff but I really don't care! :)  (the vegans might get mad too, yikes!)

Thought I'd start the weekend off with a nice nature photo for ya! Here's a beach shot I took in the Santa Barbara area, where I am going next weekend~WOO HOO!

See the cute pelican in the middle? He was so patient, just standing there 10 feet away letting me take his portrait. I didn't even see him at first because he blended in with the rocks. (click the photo to see it larger...)

Laugh A LOT (at yourself, or even me and my stupid shirt if you must) and have a very happy fun weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Uva di Troia

I have to say that sometimes I question why I still live in Los Angeles. The smog, the traffic...BLAH! But on days like today I think well, Los Angeles does have it's good points!

When I was in NYC I tasted a sip of a yummy wine... back at home I did a little search to see if I could locate a bottle so that I could taste it again. Turns out it is a bit of a rare import...?

I found it at this great wine store that is 2 miles from my office! That's the nice thing about the big city - you can find what you need/want! (except nature and breathable air haha)

The guy at the wine store volunteered that they eat a lot of lamb in Puglia where the wine is made. So when I got home I cooked up some juicy lamb and drank some juicy wine while I chatted on the phone with a friend catching up on the juicy gossip! A nice evening!


I'm starting to think I need to take a trip to Puglia, Italy...I love the wines! Primitivo has been one of my favs for a long while now, and this Uva di Troia is pretty tasty! Anyone want to do an Italian wine/food tour with me? :) Read this little article about Puglia...cuttlefish and eggplant? YUM!