the power of pinterest

I'm on day 10.  I hate squats.  However, this plan is really building up my leg muscle memory and I am doing squats for the first time and not hating life.

This is the power of pinterest.  Since I began using pinterest in December 2011, I have "pinned" over 1100 things, I have 32 boards, and 130 followers.  I started out just using it for recipes and quickly my "foodie" board got so full I had to be more specific in my categories.  Now I have "desserts," "vegan," "sandwiches & burgers," "pizza," "breakfast," and "vegan desserts," and I think I need more.

Then of course is my "fitness" board, the entire reason for this post.  This board has changed my workout routine in such a great way.  When I am in the gym, I just have to have my phone with me and I open the pinterest app to find whatever workout I want to do that day.  I used to be that girl in the gym looking at the folded up magazine clippings to figure out how to do the workout routine, now I'm just a normal person with my iPhone.  Everyone has workout apps, so it's not strange to be looking at your phone in the middle of a workout...

If you are a guy and you are reading this, you probably don't get it because pinterest is definitely catered toward the girls in your life and not you.  Pinterest is geared toward those of us who worshipped magazines in our youth, filling our scrapbooks/journals with their clippings, not those of you who played video games and looked at Playboy.


new website, check it out!


After only a few days of work, my website is officially up!  It may seem unlikely for anyone who knows me, but I do know a thing or two about html and css code.  Blame it on me being a total loner at the age of 12 and teaching myself so that I could have a super cool BSB fan site.  Don't judge, times were different in 1997.


The cupcakes you didn't know growing up

Los Angeles had made some impressions on me over the four years I have lived here, mostly just heightening the obscure things about me that were always there and just needed coaxing out: my inner yogi, vegan, foodie, outdoor enthusiast...  But nothing about Los Angeles has changed me more than its immense amount of cupcakeries.

These are NOT the cupcakes that you had at birthday parties during your childhood.  These are made to be savored, sought after, and eaten with a fork.  Yes.  A fork.

I thought of all this yesterday as I moseyed over to the (newish) Sprinkles downtown.  Sprinkles, for those of you don't know, claim to be the first cupcakery.  By that, I mean the first shop that not only specializes in cupcakes, but that is all they do.  Candace Nelson, the owner, had the right idea.  A cupcake is the perfect size and has an appropriate icing to cake ratio.  Cupcakes are hand held, can be made of any flavor combination, and cheaper/easier than a cake.  Cupcakes are genius.

My first year in LA, I became a cupcake connoisseur, and it all began when a vender brought a few boxes of cupcakes to my office for everyone.  That day I learned what Sprinkles was and sampled almost every flavor.  I learned the importance of a Black & White in my life, and that everyone in LA loves red velvet (although I don't really understand why....)  At the same time I was really getting into yelping and in doing so I learned of the many cupcake shops all over LA.  I won't say that I tried them all, because that would be too much of a challenge for me.  However, I did try enough to know that Sprinkles is not overrated like some people think, they are second best in my book to Frosted Cupcakery, which has the moistest cupcakes I have ever tasted.  There is also an annual "cupcake challenge," which I have attended twice, just to verify my connoisseurship.

Yesterday, for the first, I bought a doggy cupcake for Napoleon from Sprinkles.  I usually buy him pupcakes from Three Dog Bakery a few times a year.  The one from Sprinkles had a softer, more human-cupake-like cake and a harder frosting.  It seemed to be top heavy, causing Napoleon to have to save the best for last and eat the icing after the cake.

Some things to know if you live near a Sprinkles: Check their twitter before you step inside, there might just be a "secret" word of the day that will get you a free cupcake or a buy one get one free.  Get their app from ilovesprinkles.com to learn about upcoming flavors of the month like their current Margarita and Salted Caramel (one of my faves.)  And if ever in LA, go to the Bev Hills location if you want the "experience" of waiting in line at the flagship near Rodeo drive, or to use their cupcake "atm," which I have yet to do.  If you don't want to mess with all of that and you just want some delicious cupcakes, go downtown to their new 7th and Fig location and you will not be disappointed.


BIG news for cupcake and coffee fans

I was hanging out downtown today, waiting for Napoleon to be groomed at pussy and pooch, the overly elite pet spot downtown.  He now smells like blueberries because they spray him with blueberry dog cologne...

Before: dirty face, overgrown, smelled kinda of like a dog

After: clean, fresh, smells like blueberries

Anyway, as I was waiting for him to be ready, I ran into the Big Man himself, Chip Brown, owner and creator of Big Man Bakes cupcake shop(s).  I told him I love his cupcakes (true story, they are delish) He told me that they will now be opening at 8 every morning, serving Handsome Coffee.  Um, ok!  That sounds awesome, but wait, there's more: This week if you buy a coffee, either size, you get a free mini cupcake.  Maybe one day after yoga I will wander over that way and be bad with an old school or a black & white with a coffee.

I ordered Big Man Bakes mini's for Danny's surprise party that I threw him in March.  All the flavors are great and I highly recommend giving the cupcakes a try.  Frosted and Sprinkles are still my favorites, but his come in a close third.

While I'm on the topic of treats, let's talk yogurtland.  I always get  Taro with kit kat bits and mochi. Always.  However, this summer they are doing this thing where they have "scoured the globe" to find new flavors.  This flavor quest has brought some really awful flavors, such as the sticky toffee pudding, creme brûlée, and the spiced chai, all of which I tried samples of and all of which taste nothing like what their actual counterparts should.  Therefore, I was a bit apprehensive when trying the Mexican Hot Chocolate flavor last night.  Big surprise, it was delicious!  I actually mixed it up and did half Taro, half Mexican Hot Chocolate, plus the kit kat and the mochi, of course.  I hope that Mexican Hot Chocolate is a flavor that sticks around at my local yogurtland.


yoga in the park

Grand Park is this awesome little spot between City Hall and the DWP building with grass lawns, pink tables and chairs, trees, and fountains.  On Tuesdays, you will find a small farmers market on the eastern-most lawn.  On Wednesdays and Fridays you will find me getting my yoga on in the western-most lawn.

I loved Grand Park from the moment I first experienced it during the grand opening last fall.  While I enjoy living downtown, the West Side was much better about not feeling like one is stuck in a concrete jungle.  Now we have Grand Park, and this girl could not be happier!

As soon as the semester was over, I began going to every Wednesday and Friday yoga session.  In a city where you could pay upward of $40 a class, I don't turn down free yoga!  The classes are from 12:15-1:00, mats are provided if you don't have your own, and it's really relaxing.  This is not the Vinyassa style power yoga that I am used to, this is a slow-paced, muscle concentration yoga.  It is as tough as one chooses to make it, concentrating on holding the poses correctly, the teacher is great at explaining where to tighten, how to breathe, etc.

I'm sad they will be ending yoga at the end of May because of the heat of the summer...  Sounds silly if you ask me.  A week ago it was 90 degrees and I was fine!  Who in SoCal doesn't want a tan?  What am I supposed to do now, start paying for workout classes?  Oy vey!  But guess what?  Soon after yoga ends, boot camp classes will begin!  Starting June 18th, from 5:30-6:30 pm there will be boot camp in the park every Tuesday evening.  Hopefully this will continue until yoga starts back up in November.


for the fickle hearted

Ask my friends, I have a thing about fickleness.  I won't go into my philosophy here, but suffice it to say that when a restaurant named Fickle opens next door to my apartment, I'm going to be intrigued.

Fickle by night, The Sandwich Smith by day.  Fickle's menu changes often, depending on what is readily fresh and available at the farmer's markets.  The Sandwich Smith has a new special everyday (meat and veg!) and you choose how you want your sandwich or salad.  Now you tell me that this place is not fickle!

Here is the best part: As soon as you sit down, the waiter brings out a big bowl of kettle corn.  This is not your typical kettle corn, but so much more.  It's kettle corn with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and butter then sprinkled with two kinds of thick sugars.  It's extra sweet, extra spicy, extra delicious.  Our waiter was kind enough to bring a second bowl once we polished off the first. 

While I have yet to try their dinner (I'm waiting for a special occasion,) their happy hour is great!  $5 house wines (they have a pinot and a red,) $3 draft beer (they have a Hef and an IPA )  $1.75 oysters, if you like that sort of thing.  My favorite (so far) is the buffalo cauliflower with bleu cheese crumbles, $5.  All of my friends got this same thing and loved it as well.  It's a big hit, you must try it.

What else must you try?  The tiramisu cheesecake!  The chef and maitre d' generously sent one to our table, after I told them I am a blogger aaaand my friend Kirsten let them know how she felt about her previous experience with the profiteroles and the panna cotta (she didn't think they were up to par with the rest of their food she had tried)  I'm not a big fan of cheesecake, but I am a huge tiramisu lover, and this is the perfect pairing.  The thick lady finger/espresso crust on the bottom, the dusting of spices on top, and the creamy, not too rich, cheesecake in the middle made for a lovely dessert for me.  We also tried the baked Alaska, which I was not as into.  It is very good, and if you are a fruit dessert person, you will most likely love it.  The meringue was perfect and thick, the strawberry prickly-pear sauce was quite yummy, but I wasn't feeling the passion fruit sorbet in the center.

So going to Fickle is a must, but what about during the day when this very fickle place is a sandwich shop?  The sandwiches are huge, enough for two meals for most people, so don't let the $8-$10 price tag scare you off.  You will have a great sandwich. Here's what I've tried from The Sandwich Smith's menu...
-seasonal vegetable: roasted zucchini and roasted pumpkin, both VERY good.
-meats: Danny has had the fried chicken (which he loved) and the angus beef (not a big hit with him, the meat was pretty fatty/undercooked and just kind of strange on a sandwich)
-breads: honey wheat and walnut cranberry, both delicious.  The honey wheat is really soft, so make sure you get your dressing on the side.  My friend has had the donut bun, which he said is similar to a bagel.  If you were imagining a glazed donut, that's ok, I was too.
-cheese: goat cheese, duh!  I've also tried the chedder, which was great too.
-dressings: habanero lime, garlic aioli, and mint cumin yogurt.  All delicious, I'm not sure I could choose one.  I recommend getting your dressing on the side so your sandwich doesn't get soggy, particularly if you don't get one of the mayo based dressings.
-toppings: all are great and fresh.  Definitely go for the delicious tomatoes, anything else you get will be great, I promise!

elliptifit: the (soon to be) new workout craze

It's sweeping the nation!  Actually, as far as I know, it is currently one-of-a-kind.  I'm talking about a new kind of workout class, elliptifit.  Think spinning class, but with brand new, very high-tech elliptical machines.  I'm a sucker for any kind of group fitness class, (besides "boot camps") especially when there is a groupon deal!  I actually found out about this place from my friend Rachna back at the beginning of the year and was on the lookout for deals every since.  A few months ago I bought a deal for 5 classes for $35 and had been anticipating the end of my semester ever since.

I went last week for the first time, and without even texting her to let her know, Rachna was in the class!  What a small world...  The class is great, 45 minutes of cardio, mixing things up by concentrating on just your arms, just your core, just your lower body, and doing things like sprints/hills/etc.  Rachna told me that each class is slightly different so you never get bored.

The studio is clean and elegantly designed with a nice industrial modern flair.  The front and right sides of the room are lined with mirrors and there are 5 rows of ellipticals split into 3 per side (approx 30 total machines.)  There are kinda cheesy lights around the front mirrors, which my instructor, Jill, changed based on the pace/portion of the class.  I laughed to myself every time they changed, but it's a nice touch and shows that the owners really thought of everything!

After the class I was drenched with sweat and my legs were a little sore the next day.  It's not a killer strength workout by any means, unless you bump up the ramp/resistance far past your comfort zone, but it is a great new cardio workout and really fun!


what a handsome eggslut!

Los Angeles has a food truck for everything.  Eggslut is probably the best one I have found.  Breakfast/Brunch is my favorite meal, which I often eat for dinner as well.  I love eggs, as I think I made clear in this post.

Every Saturday and Sunday, thee eggslut parks itself in front of Handsome Coffee Roasters.  Handsome knows how to do coffee.  Unfortunately, because I don't drink cow's milk, I can only have their black coffee, which is really really great, strong, delicious coffee.  However, they should really carry soy or almond milk, especially being in the Arts District.

Not in the mood for coffee?  Yesterday I was not, it is summer after all, so I just helped myself to a lovely juice from Press Brothers Juicery.  All of their juices are great, but my personal fave is "drop acid" which contains: Apple, cucumber, arugula, lemon, parsley, cilantro, ginger, and habanero!  So spicy, so delicious.

I've had two different items from the eggslut.  The first I ever tried was "thee slut" which is an egg, soft baked in a small mason jar, over potatoes, sprinkled with salt and chives, served with three pieces of toast.  It was really really tasty, but a bit too small for its price.  So the next time I decided to give "the Fairfax" a try, and I have been sold ever since!  The Fairfax is soft scrambled eggs (very tough to do) on brioche with caramelized onions and spicy mayo.  Might I recommend adding tomato and avocado? I always do.

The great thing about this set-up is ordering your eggslut, going inside to order your coffee and grab a seat, then getting eggslut and just hanging out at Handsome with your friends.

You can find eggslut at Handsome Coffee Roasters Sat-Sun 9-1, as well as (I just found this out!) M-F 12-4!!  So i guess one can have her eggs for lunch or dinner if she so wishes...

Big shout out to Jordan Squires for introducing me to the slut!


heart run

my running route yesterday morning.  How cute!

the mighty chia seed

I was thrilled whenever Trader Joes' began selling chia seeds.  I had seen them in recipes all over the place but I didn't feel like going out of my way to search for them.  I use them everyday in my breakfast smoothies.  You can throw them on top of a salad, put them in a healthy dessert to add crunch, or make this pudding.  (Oh She Glows is one of my fave recipe blogs!)

my version of Angela's Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

T-Bone's Everyday Smoothie

1 T chia seeds*
1 banana
3/4 c frozen strawberries
1/2 c frozen mango, raspberries, or blueberries
1-1/2 c almond milk

1. combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. enjoy a delicious and healthy glass of yum!

*If you don't have easy access to chia seeds, you can use ground flax seed, oatmeal, or nut butter for that extra bit of protein and texture.  Today I added peanut butter with chia seeds for extra flavor.  If you choose to add oatmeal, start with about 1/4 cup, blend it first until it is almost a powder, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend together.  Oatmeal will add a different, thicker texture.  Flax seed and chia will add a lot of protein and fiber.  Nut butters will add protein and give a different flavor.  Anytime I add peanut butter it always has a very peanut-buttery taste.


i made quiche!

I don't know why I've spent my adult life thinking that quiche was something difficult, like macarons or soufflé.  I guess I just assumed all French cooking was a task.  Quiche is not.

Perhaps I was also shying away from an attempt at quiche because I'm not a fan of pie crust...  In walks hash brown crusted quiche.  Yes please!

Check out my favorite quiche reference here.  And support marriage equality, because quiche is a brunch item, and no one does brunch better than the gays.

T-Bone's Farm Fresh Hash Brown Crusted Quiche 
(makes 6 servings)

3 c of shredded hash browns (thawed if frozen)
1/3 c melted butter or oil
1 fennel
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of maitake mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you like)
2 eggs
1/2 c almond milk
handful of fennel leaves
salt and pepper
handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1. preheat oven to 425
2. get as much moisture out of the hash browns as you can by squeezing with paper towels. (I am always so bad about this because I lack the patience to do it properly, but if you do it right, you will have a crispier crust)
3. press hash browns into bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan
4. pour butter or oil evenly over hash browns
5. bake for 20-25 minutes, or until hash browns begin to brown
6. in the meantime, chop the fennel and garlic and sauté in a bit of olive oil until soft
7. chop the mushrooms and add to the fennel mixture, continue to sauté for a few minutes until the flavors meld
8. in a small bowl, combine the eggs and milk and whisk together well
9. add salt, pepper, and chopped fennel leaves to taste
10. when hash brown crust is done, spread fennel mixture evenly on top, then pour egg mixture on top of that
11. place tomato pieces evenly throughout the quiche
12. reduce oven to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until egg is cooked to your desired level
13. wait 10 minutes, then cut into six pie slices and serve with a salad


flirting with veganism

I cook vegan a majority of the time since I don't do dairy milk and adding cheese just adds calories.  The main thing keeping me from turning full time vegan has always been the eggs.  I love me some eggs!  Not that I eat eggs everyday, though I probably could, but what is brunch without eggs florentine? a quiche? an omelet? a scramble?  So after watching Vegucated after Christmas break, already starting off 2013 with a vegan diet, just for the health benefits, I freaked out.  I couldn't eat eggs anymore unless I knew the farm they came from.  I won't go into the gory details here, suffice it to say that just because it says "organic, free-range, blah blah blah" doesn't mean you can trust it.  It's really about the terrible things that happen immediately after the hatching of the chicks which will someday produce those eggs.

So...was that enough to keep me vegan forever?  I really really thought so, and I was doing so well, but my busy life at SCI-Arc got the best of me.  You really have to have the time or the money to be vegan, I know others will argue, but for me it is true.  As soon as I have the time: easy!  I'm cooking vegan every day, no problem, I may miss my eggs, but it's totally fine.  If I were rich, I could be vegan during school, I would just eat at RFD, Sage, Native Foods, and shop at Whole Foods.  It would be fine and I could do it.  But when you don't have the time or the money, you do the best that you can, for me that is continuing to be a part time vegan.

Here's a raw vegan dish that I made the other night with some golden beets that I accidentally bought at the farmers market.  This dish is labeled as "ravioli" but let's be honest, raw foodies only do things like this to make it seem like they are eating something other than raw vegetables.  This is NOT ravioli.  In fact, I don't recommend cutting the beets into squares as shown, unless you want to take a pretty picture.  Just slice them into matchsticks and throw it together as the salad that it is.

Golden Beet Salad with Olive-Basil Tapenade
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

2-3 Golden Beets, thinly sliced on a mandolin, then cut into squares (or like I said, matchsticks)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T orange zest (don't grate off half of your knuckle like I did!)
1 c arugula

1 c pitted kalamata olives
1/2 c fresh parsley leaves
1/4 c fresh basil leaves
2 T capers, drained
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t red pepper flakes (omit or use less if you don't like spicy food)

1. toss beets in oil and orange zest, set aside
2. combine all tapenade ingredients in food processor until well blended but still chunky
3. put together the beets and tapenade atop the arugula
4. squeeze fresh orange juice on top
5. enjoy!