Thursday, April 28, 2011


This past month, our cooking club put on a pre-Cinco-de-Mayo fiesta, and ever since, I CAN NOT shake the craving for Mexican food!

The weather was perfect for a little al fresco dining, and we had a blast sitting by the fire and eating some AMAZING Mexican food.

I may have since started frequenting Baja Ranch Market and buying avocados, limes and cilantro in bulk. Perhaps.

(What, you don't have coffee mugs filled with cilantro in your fridge?!)

On The Menu:

Margaritas (of course!)
Pico de Gallo and Guacamole
Agave Cornbread Muffins
Pinto Bean Salsa Salad
Zucchini Black Bean Casserole
Spanish Rice
- 1 c. rice
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 c. tomato sauce (the kind that comes in a can - not pasta sauce)
- 1/2 c. canned, diced tomatoes
- 1 1/4 c. water
- 2/3 c. frozen corn
- 2/3 c. frozen peas
- salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

In a cast iron pot, combine rice and oil. (If you don't have a cast iron pot, any pot will do!)
Turn the heat to high. Stir the rice constantly. As the rice heats, it will start to turn golden brown and start popping in the pot. Keep stirring and don't let the rice burn!
When the rice is a deep golden brown, and before it gets burned, add the liquids, veggies, and spices.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
When the mixture is boiling, cover the pot, and let simmer for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, remove from heat.
Fluff with a fork and serve!

Chicken Enchiladas
-Pulled Chicken
- Tortillas
- Enchilada Sauce (I used Trader Joes)
- Grated Mexican Cheese

Pour about 1/3 cup sauce in a shallow dish.
Heat tortilla in a dry pan, about 15 seconds each side.
Dip tortilla in sauce to coat.
Fill with about 1/4 cup chicken.
Roll up and place seamside down in casserole dish.
Sprinkle cheese on tip, and bake about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Veggie Enchiladas
- 1/2 lb sweet potato, cubed and steamed about 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 1/2 cup + 1 jar salsa verde (I used Trader Joes)
- Grated Mexican Cheese

Combine potato, corn, beans and 1/2 cup salsa.
Follow the same method as for Chicken Enchiladas, using the Salsa Verde as the 'Enchilada Sauce'.
*Note - do NOT skip the heating of the tortillas as I did. Turns out this is an integral step, as it makes the tortilla pliable. Otherwise your 'enchiladas' will be more like a 'broken tortilla casserole'...oh well.

And let's not forget about dessert:

Chocolate Chipotle Brownies
Chocolate Flan Cakes (with some adaptations from here and the chef...)

So delicious!

I can't wait to see what we cook up next month!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Recap

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!

We started our day with the BEST cinnamon rolls:

And then after church, and despite the cold temps and dreary skies (drizzle at times!!!) we braved the back yard to grill for the first time this season:

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for hosting. We may have gone a leeeettttle bit overboard - what, you guys don't have more types of vegetables (7) and desserts (6) than you do people (5)?


Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of our awesome desserts. But here's one of A & me. Hopefully that's good enough!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trail love

The weather here in Southern California the past couple weeks was absolutely beautiful, and what better way to take advantage of the sun than HIKING!

I first hiked the Mt. Wilson trail about 2 weeks ago.

To say I love this trail would be a HUGE understatement, considering I've already been back to hike it 3 times since then.

But really, how could you not love a trail that starts out with this adorable little place:

Has stunning views:

Fun hiking companions (hi Kiki!):

Frequent scenery changes:

And ample shade:

Oh I know. The BOULDER that stopped me in my tracks! Exhibit A:

I was too chicken to go bouldering over this bad boy. (Actually, that is not entirely true...I tried, and then cut my hand in the process. THEN I chickened out).

It was FREEZING this day, and we were ~5 miles in already. The altitude gains on this trail are significant, so it was MUCH colder at the top - about 50 degrees, compared with the 65 at the trail head.

Although the weather has reverted back to gloom, you can bet that as soon as the sun pokes itself out again, I will be back at Mount Wilson.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Carrot cake bites

A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon this awesome recipe on Angela's blog.

Being the sucker for all things 101 Cookbooks, and actually having all the ingredients for one recipe on hand, I decided to go ahead and whip up a batch of these awesome carrot cake bites:

I just made a second batch last night (with a couple modifications) and A thinks these turned out even better than the 1st batch (I go try them both ways for yourself, and see what you think!)

Carrot cake bites: (Inspired by 101 Cookbooks, Oh She Glows)

1/2 cup buckwheat flour (I made this by grinding untoasted buckwheat groats in my VitaMix.)

1/4 cup multigrain cereal (TJ's brand)

1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used partially de-fatted)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger (dried)

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup raisins (soaked in HOT water for about 1/2 hour <--This is KEY. Do NOT skip!)

1/2 cup carrots

1/4 cup maple syrup (I used sugar free)

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl

3. Stir in fruit and nuts

4. Combine wet ingredients in measuring cup (a la Mama Pea - I love this method, do it all the time!)

5. Add wet to dry and mix to combine. Per Angela's recipe, the dough should be pretty wet. I needed to add more Almond milk to my mixture to acheive that consistency, but I think it is the key to a softer, crumblier cookie

6. Drop by the tbsp onto a silpat (or parchment) covered cookie sheet

7. Bake for 15 minutes at 350, let cool on cookie sheet another 10 minutes

So - what do you think? Do you like the orignial version better? Or my modification?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


*Warning - this post contains pictures of FEET. So, if you're one of those anti-feet people who get creeped out by other peoples feet, well, browse-along now.*

It's been awhile since I posted a running update, in part, because there has not been a whole lot of running going on around here. But, I'm slowly easing my way into the world of barefoot running, so I figured it was a good time for a progress report.

I finally got a pair of these for my birthday:

Unfortunately they were a leeeetle bit too small, so I sent them back for the next size up. Which should be arriving....any day now...

So, since patience is not my strong-suit, I decided to take matters into my own hands, err, feet, I guess...

That's right. I've been running completely barefoot on my treadmill a couple times a week.

I worked my way up to 2 miles last week, and when I stopped, what I thought were calluses on my feet turned out to be blisters. Ouch.

So I'm back down to 1.5 miles at a time now.

But here is the strange doesn't hurt! Based on all my research, I was expecting calf pain, soreness in my shins, etc. Maybe because I'd been running in the Nike Free for quite awhile before ditching the shoes altogether...or maybe because I'm a forefoot runner. Whatever the reason, the only thing holding me back at this point is lack of calluses on my feet.

So I'll get there.

In the meantime, my heels are still KILLING me during pretty much every standing/walking related activity, even during Spin. So, I've mom'd-up and ordered a pair FitFlops.

If I promise not to wear them in public, can we still be friends?

In the mean time, more often than not, I can be found sitting at my desk like this:

(Yes, those are frozen water bottles under my feet.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mmm. Jam.

I love peanut butter. LOVE. Eat-it-every-day-loooooove. But sometimes, the peanut butter - it needs a little help. I tend not to buy jam (in part, because I don't like all the added sugar, and in part, because I don't like all the additives.) But last week, I tried making Ashley's buckwheat bakes for breakfast (which, BTW are super yummy!) and it was calling out for some peanut butter and jelly.

I accidentally stumbled on this jam making 'method' (if it is even formal enough to be called that...?) back around Thanksgiving time, when I had a few too many bags of fresh quickly fading cranberries on hand.

Here is my favorite way to make jam that I can feel good about:

Stovetop Jam:
1 lb fruit of choice (I used a frozen berry-blend, but you could also use fresh.)
1/2 cup fruit juice (I used no sugar added cran-pomegranite, but you could do fresh squeezed orange, depending on your fruit, or even water.)

Combine fruit and liquid in a small saucepan. Cover and let simmer on medium heat ~15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Remove cover and continue to reduce, until what's in your pan resembles jam, ~10 more minutes.

That's it. If you don't like lumps, you can blend with an immersion blender, or mash with a fork.

A word of caution - it splatters. And if you use berries? Then it stains. So wear an apron, or stand back! Also, it burns quickly once the lid is removed, so stir frequently, and/or keep an eye on it. Do NOT, go check blogs and 'forget' that you're cooking. (I'm just saying, you might be adding more water and muttering under your breath if you do.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Amazing deal

Run, don't walk to your nearest Whole Foods!

"Why" you ask?

Because look what is on super-sale:

Want to see what's inside?

Curious how much it costs? $14.99! No, seriously. According to the shelf tag, regular price = $32.97. The deal is on until 4/27/11.

What kind of crazy good deal is this? Well, put it this way...there are 15 packets inside the bottle. Usually, these single serve packets sell for $2 in my Whole Foods.

So basically, this package is like getting each of the packets for 1/2 off, and getting a FREE shaker cup. I love my shaker cups!

And lest you think all we buy at Whole Foods is the healthy green stuff, here is why we REALLY walked over there last night:

Yummy Colorado beer. Seriously, highly recommend. Besides, you can wash it down with a chaser of greens. Which most definately balances out the nutritional effects of the beer...