home-made burrito bowl

I received so many goodies in my Farm Fresh to You CSA delivery this week and I'm feeling more creative.  This recipe, though simple, was 100% me.  I was inspired by Chipotle's burrito bowls, of which I am a fan.  As I assumed from a quick search online, Chipotle's veggie burrito bowl will cost you well over 500 calories, if you add on just about anything yummy.  My recipe will be less than 500, and if you skip the avocado because yours is not ripe enough to eat yet, which was the only reason I skipped it, this meal will be under 400 calories.

Potato and Gypsy Fajita Bowl
makes 4-6 servings

cooked brown rice
juice from 1-2 lemons, depending on how much rice you use
1 t thyme**
1 T olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
2 t cumin
1 t seasoned salt
1 t thyme
1/4-1/2 t cayenne
4 gypsy peppers, sliced
2 c fingerling potatoes, sliced into small rounds
15 oz can white beans
1 T sriacha
1 t onion powder
1 t basalmic vinegar
lettuce, scallions, greek yogurt*, tomatoes, salsa, avocado, guacamole, whatever your heart desires...

1. heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, add the onions and cook until tender, then add the garlic, cumin, seasoned salt, thyme, and cayenne.  mix thoroughly and cook a minute more.
2. add the gypsy peppers and mix thoroughly, cook another minute.
3. add the potatoes and stir to mix well, add about 1/4-1/2 cup of water and put a lid on it.  Stir occasionally for the next 5-10 minutes, or until water is soaked up and potatoes are cooked. Remove from heat
4. Rinse the beans well and put them in a bowl.  Begin mashing the beans as you add the rest of the ingredients.  You can mash these as much, or as little as you want.  I was going for the "refried" bean texture.
5. Add the lemon juice and thyme to the rice, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
6. Scoop about 1/2 cup of rice into a bowl. Spoon a few tablespoons of the beans mixture on top of the rice.  Place approximately 1/2 c of the fajitas mixture on top of the beans and rice, then finish with toppings of your choice.  I went with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and Greek yogurt.  I would highly recommend avocado, but mine were not yet ripe enough.

**for more traditional flavor, use lime and cilantro.  I normally would have but I didn't have either available at the time of cooking, but the lemon and thyme work well with this dish too!
*I love me some Greek yogurt and have been using it in place of sour cream for years now (even my niece who loves sour cream and is super picky had no idea it was something else).  This is a substitute I recommend to everyone because it is so much more nutritious and if you go with the 0% one, like I do, it has no fat either.  If you are vegan or just want to eat even healthier, I recommend you replace the "sour cream" with this delicious cashew cheese recipe from "Clean Food" by Terry Walters.

Cashew Cheese
1/2 c cashew pieces
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 T canola oil

1. In a food processor, grind cashews to a fine meal.
2. Add nutritional yeast and process briefly to combine.
3. Add oil and process until a moist meal forms, do not over process or it will become doughy.


current in my kitchen

It's been a while since I've posted any recipes. I got into a bit of a funk where I wasn't cooking, but was eating out constantly.  With my budget and desire to stay fit, I have finally gotten back into the kitchen. Here's what I made yesterday:

I've never had sticky toffee pudding before, but I wanted to make something with dates, so I went to one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows, and searched for sweet recipes using dates.  Angela, the writer of Oh She Glows is the one who turned me onto dates in the first place with her delicious riff on vegan twix, which I have made multiple times.

So this recipe intrigued me due to it's claim to be "sinless."  Though it is vegan, I can assure you that it is anything but sinless.  I counted up the calories with my ingredients, and the whole thing is nearly 4000 calories, which means I had to cut it into 12 squares in order for each to be what I would consider acceptable, calorie-wise for a dessert.  Twelve is small, but it is rich and I think this size of serving is probably for the best!  If I made this again, I would probably omit the brown sugar, as it is high in calories and I think the dates provide enough sweetness.

Super Sinful Sticky Toffee Pudding
(recipe adapted from Angela's sinless sticky toffee pecan pudding)
Makes 12 servings

1 1/4 c. dates (chopped)
1 1/2 c. almond milk
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 c oat flour
1/4 c Earth Balance (softened)
1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c toasted pecans
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt

3 T maple syrup
3 T brown sugar
3 T Earth Balance
1 T vanilla

1. Toast the pecans in a preheated oven, 325 degrees for about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make your oat flour by blending oatmeal in a blender until you get 1 1/2 cups of flour (will probably take about 2 cups of oats)*
3. After pecans are toasted, change oven temperature to 375 degrees and grease an 8x8 square pan.
4. Bring almond milk to a simmer and add the dates.  Lower the heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
5. Remove dates and milk from heat and add baking soda.
6. Mix together the Earth Balance and brown sugar in a separate bowl.  Once completely mixed, add to date mix and mix well.
7. Add the oat flour, 1/2 cup of pecans, cinnamon, and salt to the date mixture.  Do not over mix!
8. Pour mixture into greased pan and place in the oven for 28 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, make the sauce by bringing the four ingredients to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce to low and whisk constantly for a few minutes.
10. Once cake is done, let it sit for a few minutes before poking it a lot with a fork.  Poke it all over, really stab that cake.
11. Pour sauce all over the top, allowing it to soak into the cake.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 c pecans on top.  Serve.
*I like to use Country Choice Organic Hot Cereal, Multigrain. It is a mix of rye, barley, oats, and wheat and you can find it at Trader Joes.

I also made this take on a bubble and squeak, which I wouldn't actually call that, but it was really delicious.  I plan to modify this recipe more and have another go at it, then I will post the recipe.  Until then, enjoy the photo of it, and check out the recipe here.


Birthday Freebies

Yesterday was my birthday and I would like to share with everyone the freebies that I have been awarded this year.  There is nothing better than getting free/discounted stuff the month of your birthday.  I would love to know if anyone knows of others that I did not list, I will partake next year and post a new list.

1. Sprinkles
I received an email the night before my birthday with a code to claim my free cupcake at any Sprinkles location on my birthday.  I went to the downtown LA location and was pleasantly surprised to see an "off the menu" cupcake.  I had never seen this before and asked the girl behind the counter about it.  She said they do this once or twice a week, it's never a set day or anything.  This one was belgian chocolate cupcake with caramel frosting and a palm tree shaped sugar candy on top.  It was delightful and made me especially happy to get to try something new on my birthday, and for free.

2. Native Foods
As a native foods member for the past 2 years I have received rewards in the past, $10 credit after $200 of purchases, a few free drinks and desserts here and there... But I was really excited and surprised to get an email about a week ago saying that a $10 credit had been placed on my card to be used 7 days before or after my birthday.  That's 2 weeks around your birthday that you can get a free meal from Native Foods.  Score!  I went on my birthday and enjoyed the new wild jackalope BBQ sandwich, a spicy vegan take on a pulled BBQ sandwich with a hefty serving of jackfruit slathered in spicy BBQ sauce, topped with cool and crunchy slaw.  Free always tastes so good!

3. DSW
With already highly discounted prices, free shipping, and almost always having a $10 rewards certificate at my fingertips, the special $5 coupon they sent to my inbox for the month of June for my birthday makes me want to buy another pair of shoes, even though I really have enough.

4. Anthropologie
I love this store, but the truth is that I only shop there in June because of the 15% coupon they give me for my birthday.  They have such great stuff, it's just expensive.  You have to be an ANTHRO card holder (free membership, see clerk in store to sign up) and you can use the 15% on total in store purchase any day the month of your birthday.

5. Victoria's Secret
In addition to their usual semi-monthly coupons for $10 off bras, free panties, etc.  They also send a $10 off coupon for the month of your birthday (in store purchases only)

Anybody have others that I should be aware of for next year?


Paddleboard Yoga, Marina del Rey

Until last summer I had never been near a stand-up paddle board or the water in the Marina.  Now I can't imagine not being on a sup board again.  Now that I have discovered yogaqua.

Californians always seem to be inventing new ways to exercise outside and this is my favorite.  Practicing yoga on top of the water in the Marina is relaxing, challenging, and breathtaking.  I am in love with paddle boarding, so much that I looked up prices to buy a paddleboard, then quickly wished I were rich.

The classes aren't cheap, but I always find the deals.  It started with a Daily Candy deal I found last summer for 5 classes.  Now that I am on their mailing list, I am notified about other deals they offer, like the 2 for $55 in May deal (still expensive, I know, but totally worth it)

For anyone interested in trying it out, but not wanting to dip into your savings to do it, go to one of their two remaining Newport beach parties this summer.  I plan to attend the July 28th one if I can. At the party, you can try out a shortened version of the class for $15, plus they have all sorts of freebies and fun on the beach.

The instructor for the class I went to last week was Emily and she was really supportive and a fun instructor.  Sarah is the owner of Yogaqua, and was my instructor for all the classes that I did last summer.  She is great too.

Big thanks to Brent for the photos and shout out to the other lovely ladies in class: Allison, Elizabeth, and Rachel.


The Salk Institute

Architect: Louis Kahn
Year completed: 1966
Location: La Jolla, California

All hail Modernism's great material master.


San Diego Weekend

The first time I ever went to San Diego was a turning point in my life.  I was a 6 year old little girl from Doniphan, Missouri and I immediately declared that I would live in California when I was grown up.  My Aunt and cousin's houses were like something out of a movie: big, just miles from the beach, with their own community pools!!!  There was fresh fruit galore, the food we ate was like nothing else I had ever had, I tried Chinese food for the first time as well as Sunchips (in 1996 Sunchips were the healthy alternative to regular chips) I was in heaven.  I knew that the day to day life of San Diegians was like a vacation and I wanted to be part of that lifestyle.

This past weekend we went back to where all of my dreams began.  I finally got to experience Kahn's Salk Institute, we drank absinth for the second time from the same restaurant where we tried it the first time 4 years ago, Currant American Brasserie, and we got to experience everything with Napoleon, because San Diego is the most dog-friendly city on the planet.

The Food and The Dog Friendliness:

Currant was great for happy hour.  We happened to be there on a Friday, so we also took advantage of the $8 Lucid Absinth Friday deal (normally $15)  We could barely get it down.  Why is absinth so gross?  It's like licorice, but worse.  Ah, but I just love the process.  The waitress lights the sugar cube on fire.  The sugar cube is cradled above the absinth and when the flame goes out you begin slowly dripping ice water over the sugar until it has completely dissolved into the liquid below, turning the once green drink into a cloudy white.  Oh Chemistry.  We also munched on the garlic and chive tots which came overflowing in a giant bowl with two scrumptious dipping sauces: chive buttermilk ranch, habanero ketchup.  All for the happy hour price of $4.75.  After all that, we still had quite some time before our dinner reservation, so I ordered the house red wine which came to me in a large glass with enough wine for two people.  Best. happy. hour. ever.  But, the greatest part of all?  Napoleon was welcome to join us on the patio.  That's right LA, ON the patio, not tied up outside the patio on the sidewalk next  to our table, but at our table, on the nice patio.  The waitress brought him water.  Take note LA restaurants, you will have happier customers if you would allow this more.  (Earlier in the day we had a quick lunch at a random Thai place in the Gaslamp District and they allowed this as well.)

For dinner we went to Salvatore's Cucina Italiana.  The maitre de was very pleased to have us and promptly took us to our corner window seat.  We saw that if you checked in on yelp, you got a free glass of Prosecco, so that was our plan! (Danny even got the app just for this reason)  Before we got the chance to do so, the manager greeted us and asked how found out about the establishment to which we replied "yelp."  Then he told us he was going to bring us each a glass of Prosecco because "we love our yelpers!"  The bread, balsamic, and olive oil were all amazing, probably the best white bread I've ever had.  I ordered a salad and Danny a spinach ricotta ravioli, both were delicious and filling, but you know we had to leave room for dessert!  I had the tiramisu, he had the creme brûlée.  Best creme brûlée ever.  Really really good tiramisu.  Oh, did I forget to mention that they filled up our glasses with Prosecco again, on the house?  Love this place forever.

The hotel:

We stayed at the Westin Gaslamp and I normally would stay at the W, but this time they were being dicks and said we would have to pay $25 extra a night and a one time $100 cleaning fee for Napoleon to join us.  That is bs and they should take a lesson from their sister (another starwood hotel) the Westin, who does not charge you a thing for your little one to stay with you.  They also provide a dog bed (as if Napoleon would ever sleep there) and food and water bowls.  They only ask that you not leave your dog alone in the room and you will have to pay if you do that and your dog disturbs others.  Napoleon is an angel, we had no such problems, therefore: free dog stay!  The "heavenly bed" at the Westin makes me want to throw my mattress out the window.  I seriously can't sleep well since we've returned.  Luckily you can buy everything they use to make the "heavenly bed" online, for a pretty penny.  Oh well, I suppose I will have to continue to sleep terribly until I return to the Westin.

More Dog-Friendliness:

There are many dog beaches in San Diego, compared to the one I know of in Los Angeles, plus maybe one other in Malibu?  Come on LA, step up your game!  We took Napoleon to a really popular and huge one called Ocean Beach Dog Beach and he loved it!  It was overcast, June Gloom never ceases to amaze me at how it knows it is June 1st...  Napoleon enjoyed frolicking in the sand and didn't just stand by Danny and I the entire time, which is what he always does at a regular dog park. I think this guy was made to be at the beach.

San Diego, you are a great get-away.  Could I live there?  Maybe, but realisitically I don't think there is much in the way of jobs and things to do like there is in Los Angeles, but you are beautiful and I love you still the same.