Monday, May 31, 2010


Today my treadmill and I hit a significant milestone:

A couple weeks ago, I realized I was creeping really close to the 1,000 mile mark on my odometer, and decided, 'what the heck - I'm going to get it to 1,000 before June.' (Nothing like waiting until the absolute last minute eh?)

Kidding aside, this is a significant milestone for me, not just because 1,000 miles is A LOT of miles (and, does not take into consideration all of the outdoor miles I log) but because, never in my WILDEST dreams, did I think the chubby little girl who used to make herself so sick before school on gym class days, that she got to stay home from school just to avoid failing (again!) at chinups, situps, jog-a-thon, or whatever torture was on tap for the day, would become an accomplished runner.

Running has truly evolved into my hobby. I've been running for 234 days straight as of today, and truly, it no longer feels like 'an obligation' that I have to do, just because I set out on this crazy mission to run every day for the year before my wedding. My runs are something I look forward to every morning, something that feels as ordinary as drinking water, checking email, taking a shower. It is a part of my routine, that is so ingrained now, that I can't imagine ever stopping.

I am so glad I am not that intimidated little girl anymore, who didn't think she could do it. More than anything else (toned legs, cardio endurance, license to eat brownies...) running has given me that, and I wouldn't trade the confidence for anything in the world. Except maybe more brownies.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cooking Club - Brunch Edition

Tonight is a rarity in our household - I'm home by myself for the evening, and have the following girly activities on tap:
- Sipping a glass of white wine (currently in process)
- Making and eating a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with balsamic onion jam
- Devouring a (rather LARGE) chocolate chip brownie (baking in the oven right now)
- Watching a chick flick (It's Complicated, if you must know)

And as I'm sitting here, having the epitome of girl-time, I'm thinking back to the brunch my ladies cooking club put on last weekend.

It was delicious, entertaining, educational (I flipped my first crepe!) and most importantly, really, really fun. This is an amazing group of girls, and I have so much fun getting together and cooking with these women, and sharing a meal.

So, it's only natural that we wanted to share our recipes too.

On last weeks brunch menu:

Liz's Layered Fruit Salad:

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups fresh or drained canned unsweetened pineapple chunks
1 cup seedless red grapes
2 medium bananas, sliced
2 medium oranges, sectioned
1 medium grapefruit, sectioned
1 pkg. strawberries, sliced
2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
1 pkg. blueberries

In a medium saucepan, combine the first six ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for five minutes. Remove from the heat; cool completely.
Meanwhile, layer fruit in a glass-serving bowl. Remove cinnamon stick from the sauce; pour sauce over fruit.
Cover and chill for several hours or over night.

Recipe yields 8 servings.

Kate's Chocolate Filled Buns:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (about 7 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 packages quick-rise yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups bread flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
Cooking spray
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Lightly spoon whole wheat flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, and quick-rise yeast in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Combine milk, 1/2 cup water, butter, and canola oil in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until mixture is warm (100° to 110°). Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir 1 minute. Add egg; stir 1 minute. Lightly spoon bread flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add bread flour to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 2 minutes.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; lightly coat top of dough with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and punch down. Divide dough into 16 equal portions; shape each portion into a ball. Working with one ball at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll dough into a 5-inch circle. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons chocolate in the center of circle. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seams to seal. Place buns, seam side down, on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Tuck ends under; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and chocolate.

Lightly coat dough with cooking spray; cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Lightly brush tops of buns with egg white.

Bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Jami's Crepe's:
To make the strawberry cream cheese filling:
1/2 of an 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup cut-up strawberries
In a food processor, a blender, or with an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, and orange zest together until just smooth. Place the filling and the strawberries in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the strawberry topping:
3 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice

Mix the strawberries, sugar, and juice together in a food processor or blender until the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries are mashed. Some chunks should remain. Set aside in the refrigerator.

To make the crepes:
(You’ll need a good nonstick pan to cook your crepes.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, extract and two eggs together. Add the liquids to the flour mixture and whisk together until smooth.
3. Heat a small skillet or crepe pan until medium hot. Melt some butter in the pan. Pour about a quarter cup of the batter into the preheated pan. Immediately tip and rotate the skillet so that there is a thin coating of batter over the bottom of the pan. Cook until it is light-colored on one side and turn and cook on the second side. Remove the cooked crepe to a plate. Repeat, stacking the crepes between sheets of waxed paper. Cover them to keep warm. This recipe should make 10-12 eight-inch crepes.
(The secret to cooking crepes is to rotate the pan to spread the batter as soon as it hits the hot pan.)

Jami's (crazy delicious) grapefruit sorbet:
3 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice (about 4 grapefruits), divided
3/4 cup sugar

1. Combine 1/2 cup grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.
2. Combine the sugar mixture and the remaining 2 1/2 cups grapefruit juice in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
3. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze the mixture according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spoon the sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 1 hour or until the sorbet is firm. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

Kristin's Fritatta:

(AKA, "the frittata that thinks it's a souffle" puffed up a good 3-4 inches above the pan when we took it out of the oven! And then settled back into something that rather resembled a frittata)

8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs flour
1 bunch asparagus
2 spring onions
Goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat eggs, milk and flour. Saute asparagus and onion until soft. Pour eggs into greased glass pie dish. Add asparagus mixture and crumbled goat cheese. Bake @ 350 for 30-40 minutes or until eggs are fully cooked through.

Elizabeth's Granola:
Cooking Spray
3 cups regular oats or Trader Joe's multigrain cereal
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup agave
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit(I used cranberries)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cover a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.

Combine oats, brown sugar, nuts, and salt in a large bowl.

Combine agave, vegetable oil, and butter in a small saucepan over low heat; cook 2 minutes until warm. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Stir together. Pour over oat mixture. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Gently mix until combined.

Spread onto prepared jelly-roll pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or so, stirring every 10 minutes. Cook until golden brown. Cool completely on pan; stir in fruit.

Variation: For chocolate granola, only use 2 tbs oil and omit butter. Add 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate at the same time as the vanilla extract.

Second Variation: Ginger Snap Granola: Add 1 tsp each ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to dry ingredients. Add 2 tbs dark molasses, zest of 1 lemon to wet ingredients. In place of dried fruit, add candied or crystallized ginger, diced

Serve with greek yogurt.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Open House - Welcome to our Bedroom

The last stop on our home tour!

The bedroom has taken a little getting used to - it's a LOT smaller than the bedroom in my last place. But, now that we've been here a few weeks, I'm growing to like that. I mean, it's the room we generally spend the least time in, and, the most passive time in. So, I'd rather have the extra space in the kitchen and the office.

Really the only piece of furniture we got for the new place is this awesome new dresser. I feel like such an adult (the dresser actually matches the bed frame!)

Did I mention we have a walk-in closet? Or that this is the FIRST time in my life that I've had a walk-in closet? Love.

And finally, the hallway. Behind that door is my prized washer/dryer. And, I love that there is enough room in this hall for my storage bench (which previously had been collecting dust, still unassembled in its' box, because it wouldn't fit in the old place.)

Well - that's it for the Open House tour. Hope you enjoyed it. We love living here, and if you are ever in the Pasadena area, let us know! We love visitors :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Open House - Welcome to our Living Room

I'd been hoping that the weather would clear up a bit before taking today's pictures, because it's been a bit gloomy here all day - rain in May...say wha??

Anyways, seeing as it will be getting dark soon, I caved and took a few shots of the living room.

The living room opens right into the office, which, at first seemed a little odd. But, we took a page from my sister's old house, and used the couch and this table to divide the open space up, and, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like it!

Of course, we had to find a home for our wine rack and wine fridge :)

And some extra seating

And finally, a sneak preview of the hallway leading back to the bedroom, and my prized posession - the washer and dryer!
(And, yes, that is The Hangover on the TV in the background)

Off to make another batch of homemade granola to share with my family - recipe coming soon!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Open House - Welcome to my Office!

Have I mentioned yet how much I love working from home? Oh, I have? Well, you'd love it too if you got to work here:

Notice the space heater sitting right there under my desk? Yes, the same space heater I used to have in my 'actual' office until it was banished from the building by our scary office manager? Just one of the many MANY perks of my 'new' office :) Warmth. (Yes, I know it's May, and 72 degrees. I am still cold. Ok?)

Since we only have 4 rooms in the new place, the office also does double duty as the reading nook:

The library:

And, last but not least, the gym:

(Talk about no excuses...I sit with my back to this thing all day. Every time I turn around, it calls to me. And I usually give in...)

Did I happen to mention that the window behind my computer looks out onto this:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Open House - Welcome to our kitchen!

Welcome to our kitchen.

After the kitchen in that last place, I think almost ANY kitchen would be a vast improvement. But, seriously - did I win the big kitchen lottery or what? Look at that counter space! Look at all.those.cabinets! Sweet storage!

This kitchen is so big and open that we actually had a place to put our dining room table and chairs - to close off all the open space between the kitchen and the living room (p.s. living room teaser in the background there...)

Because our kitchen is so BIG and so FUNCTIONAL, I've been really motivated to cook lately.

If you look closely, in that second picture, you can even see my delicious breakfast cooking as I was snapping away - always the multi-tasker, you know:

A million thanks to Jenna of Eat Live Run for posting this Oatmeal Pancake recipe. I have been living on them since last week, and I think they may have FINALLY gotten me out of my oatmeal funk.

Oatmeal Pancake:
(Recipe shamelessly copied from Eat, Live, Run)

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

salt, cinnamon to taste
1/2 ripe banana

Combine oats, egg whites, baking powder and seasonings in a medium bowl. Refridgerate, covered, overnight.

Just before cooking, mash 1/2 banana, and incorporate into oat mixture.

Cook over low heat approximately 3-5 minutes per side.

I top mine with a little sugar-free maple syrup, and the other half of the banana.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Open House

Welcome to our new home!

This week, I'll be posting a room-by-room series of the new place. Since there are really only 4 rooms though, (I figure I'll spare you all the bathroom...) I'm starting off today with a front-door teaser, and the top 10 things I LOVE about our new place:

10. Our very own washer and dryer
9. My amazing, HUGE, open kitchen
8. Working from home - part I (streaming KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic all day long)
7. Working from home - part II (taking Pilates classes during the middle of the day)
6. Living 2 blocks away from Old Town Pasadena
5. Green everywhere. Green mountains, Green trees, Green Street, Greene & Greene architecture
4. My awesome book club
3. Lots of lovely windows
2. No downstairs neighbors for the treadmill to disturb
1. Having our first place that is really OURS. Not my old place, or A's old place, but OURS together <3

Welcome to Pasadena!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Moving Day!

It's here, it's finally here!

Today, we are moving here:

After 10+ years in West LA, I am ready for a serious change: Pasadena here we come! "Pasadena?" (you may be thinking) "But it's so far!" Well, yes. But, as you may remember from my post last month, I am primarily working from home these days. And, as anyone who has ever lived there knows, moving to Pasadena is kind of like joining a cult. It gets this hold on you, and just won't let go! (and you don't want it to either) But I digress...

This move has been a long time coming. I first put my condo up for sale in SEPTEMBER, yes, that's right, NINE months ago. And finally, (FINALLY!) it looks like I have a buyer with some staying power. My escrow is scheduled to close a week from today.

A's condo sale was a totally different, but no less stressful kind of nightmare. His place sold within 2 weeks, but he had the escrow from HELL. It only took EIGHTY SEVEN DAYS for the lender to approve his (totally overqualified) buyers loan. On a 30 day escrow. Whatever.

Now that all is said and done, we finally get to move into our new apartment in Pasadena. Where we'll be over looking this:

...from our super-cool corner apartment. With lots of windows. And a huge den. And a really nice onsite gym.

I will post pictures soon, once we get all our stuff unpacked and set up. Here's hoping the mover's don't break anything...