Category Archives: Lifestyle

Wednesday Wishlist

I’m always looking at new cookbooks and in my dream kitchen would have a separate library (and sitting room) for them like Ina Garten.  I recently discovered checking out e-books from the library, and have been looking at several I’d love to add to my permanent collection.  I’m a minimalist when it comes to kitchen appliances, partly because we have a small kitchen, and mainly because the thought of more to clean after meal prep is pretty much the last thing I want to do.  But cookbooks, can never have too many of those.

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion

This cookbook includes grain free and dairy free recipes for a year’s worth of holidays and seasonal celebrations – there are plenty of kid-friendly recipes, holiday sweets, and party foods like sweet and sour meatballs.  It’s kind of hard to not want to make it all!

The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Anniversary Edition by Mollie Katzen

There’s something about the lack of pictures and handwritten style of the recipes that’s always made this book so appealing and comforting to me.  I recently made the Minestrone Soup and it couldn’t have been easier, and more delicious. The cool thing about the soups is they all were tested with water instead of stock, which makes them even easier to throw together mid-week.  I was first introduced to these cookbooks from a nutritionist I worked with in college.  Moosewood is a vegetarian restaurant that’s been around since 1963 in Ithaca, New York — many of the cookbook recipes are pretty easy to adapt to gluten-free and dairy-free.  SIDENOTE:  If you’re looking for an inspiring follow on Facebook, Mollie Katzen, is a great add!

Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

OK, I own this one, and it’s been the best cookbook I’ve read/used in a long time.  Almost all the recipes have tasted great, and they’re all very easy to put together.  I discovered her through some rabbit hole I was down on Instagram one day, and I’m glad I found her.  My favorite recipes are the Chicken Shawarma, Slow Cooker Burrito Bowl Chicken, and Chocolate Zucchini brownies.  The main reason I’ve never like cooking chicken is because I’m horrible at it…until this cookbook.  The two chicken recipes I’ve tried have resulted in perfectly cooked chicken almost every time.  Many recipes also feature tips to accommodate dietary restrictions.  Her website is awesome too, and every week she writes a Dinner Planner for the week.  Her approach has helped me cut down on our food budget, find recipes our whole family can enjoy, and inspire me to try new ways to be organized about the week.  DREAM = taking one of her LA-based cooking classes.

Feeding a Family: A Real-Life Plan for Making Dinner Work by Sarah Waldman

I found this cookbook while searching library books, and it’s such a cool format – organized by Season, and every recipe includes a way to adapt it for a baby to enjoy as well.  What a great way to make meal prep easier!  We’ve tried the Autumn Meatballs and Butternut Squash Casserole – both were delicious!  I adapted both for gluten free, dairy free – they weren’t perfect when tweaked, but the flavors were incredible; especially, the Butternut Squash Casserole.

Feed the Resistance:  Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved by Julia Turshen

I love her earlier cookbook Small Victories for its easy recipes and ways to alter them to be even simpler than they start, not to mention most of the dishes include basic ingredients.  I keep seeing this new cookbook of hers pop up in my feeds, and I’m so curious about the recipes and the content – from what I can tell it seems like an all around inspiring win.

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes by Gina Homolka

One of the best cookbooks out there because the recipes are easy and contrary to the title, you don’t have to own a slow cooker to make the recipes.  Within the first few pages, she includes a chart of how to make all slow cooker recipes on the stovetop or with a dutch oven.  We’ve had the Chicken Pumpkin Chili, Taco Chili and Teriyaki Chicken (adapted with Coconut Aminos).  All are really delicious, super easy, and feel like an indulgence without splurging.  Though I’ve yet to own this cookbook, I’ve looked through it at the bookstore and it has beautiful pictures and the format is easy to follow (even includes markings if the recipe adapts to dietary restrictions). I have her first cookbook, and this one is drastically better – the recipes are easier and more appealing.  

How Do I Find Time to Cook During the Week?

Since starting this blog, I’ve been asked how I manage to cook dinner after I come home from work.  As we look towards a new year, I thought I’d share some of things I’ve learned this year to maintain a healthy kitchen and cooking routine.  What are your best practices?

Lessons Learned to Maintain a Health-full Home 2012

  • PLAN  My most successful weeks have been when I pick a few recipes for the week on Saturday, and decide with Scott on Sunday.  This is followed up with a grocery store trip.  At the store, we usually decide which produce items will need to be purchased later in the week, so they don’t go bad.
  • SHOP  Our typical week involves at least 2 grocery store trips, usually to pick up more salad ingredients.  We eat salad with every dinner!
  • EAT  We go out to eat once a week, usually to Chipotle.  Before we started this tradition, we (I) ran out of steam to cook by Friday, which ended up in eating out at restaurants through the weekend.  Ultimately, this resulted in delaying weekend grocery shopping, and the next week we’d be off balance.  Now, Chipotle night is usually Tuesday – breaking up the week and making it more fun to eat leftovers from Monday night on Wednesday and Thursday nights (or I’ll take them for lunch).
  • EAT AGAIN  For me, the key to enjoying leftovers, is to have a choice of what to eat.  This means, I make two full recipes a week.  Staggering leftovers, helps me enjoy them more.  I used to despise leftovers, now I don’t mind at all!  As long as I can eat something different for lunch and dinner, I don’t get tired of the same recipes week-to-week.
  • PREPARE FOR OOPS!  Realistically, there are nights I don’t come home from work until 8pm.  Sometimes, I’ll cook a meal and we’ll eat at 9, but other nights, we’re just too hungry or tired to cook.  After many nights this year of being a bit ornery from the hunger, I started to experiment with some frozen foods we can quickly heat up.  We’ll make a salad to go with it, and we’ve got a dinner in less than 30 minutes.  The pictures below are some of our favorite frozen go-to’s and where you can find them.
  • PRACTICE KINDNESS  The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is to be kind to myself.  Scott can easily tell you how high of a standard I set for myself.  Learning to let go from time to time, and accept some nights we’re eating late, or having a big salad for dinner, or eating at Chipotle twice in one week, has helped me realize the realities of our life don’t have to be obstacles to the lifestyle we want to keep.  I’m passing this one on to all of you.  Be kind with yourself in figuring out what routine and habits will work for you in your home.  It’s different for everyone.  Embrace it and be kind.  We have one life.  Live it well.

Salmon Surf Burgers
(we find them at Bristol Farms*)

Candle Cafe Tofu Spinach Ravioli
(we find at Whole Foods*, enjoy as 1 serving or split into 2)

*Each grocery store location may carry different products. For instance, one of four nearby Whole Foods carry the Salmon Stix. Check with your local store to see if they carry the items.

Eataly + Mamoun’s

Back in June, we took vacation in New York.  Most who know me, are quite aware this is my favorite place to visit (so far).  For years, my wonderful friend Sarah and I would literally eat our way through the city, as part of an annual tradition.  I’ve still yet to go to a “nice” meal at a “fancy” restaurant in Manhattan, but I am 100% fine with this.  Especially, when Mamoun’s Falafel and Eataly exist.  Mamoun’s is quite possibly as cheap as it gets in NY for a meal – I think it’s $2.50 for a falafel now.  And, Eataly, might not be as cheap, but it sure is as memorable. I think our pictures below say it best.  YUM!

Mamoun’s Falafel

Scott at Mamoun’s

Pinzimonio (Raw Vegetable Antipasto) at Eataly’s Verdure

Portabello Mushroom and Grilled Peach Salad
(so good, we cleaned the plate!)

Happy Halloween + Sandy + Giving

This is what my mom made for us in her free time this week (below).  She continues to be a source of endless energy, inspiration, creativity, and unconditional love – and for that I am incredibly grateful.  Speaking of which, I am grateful for so many other things this week and can’t help but think of those in the Northeast.  I remember vividly the 1994 Northridge earthquake – being in our family friend’s house for two weeks, while we cleaned up the aftermath at our house.  It’s not an easy time, and as human nature often proves, we are strong survivors, making the best out of not-so-great situations.  If you are able, remember to give what you can the the American Red Cross, to help those in need.

Mom’s Halloween Treats

Friday Beats + Bread Crumbs

We’re back today – with bread crumbs and a playlist!

First, the bread crumbs.  I’ve seen Ina (Barefoot Contessa) make them several times, always thinking – really?!  Why have something else to clean (the food processor), when you can just grab some from the cupboard, right?  Well, they were actually really easy to make – and I imagine a blender would work too.  To make them, I put 3 slices of whole wheat bread into the food processor, fitted with the standard blade, pressed “on” and voila!  The difference with homemade is they are much fluffier bread crumbs – and to be honest, I also really like the idea of bread crumbs that are as natural as the bread I choose to use.  I don’t think I’ll go all out and make my own bread and then make those bread crumbs – but it’s nice to know how easy the crumbs are to make.  Although, I do have a loaf of bread in the freezer, so there’s that – since we don’t eat much bread – and I still don’t know if thawed out or toasted bread would make decent bread crumbs.  Looks like another experiment!

Now, your September playlist – I’ve been listening to this mix on shuffle, nonstop.  Good thing October and a new mix are just a few weeks away!  Have a great weekend (and sweet New Year)!  What are you listening to and experimenting with?

September 2012 Mix
Naked As We Came by Iron & Wine
Payphone by Maroon 5
Called Out in the Dark by Snow Patrol
Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard
Mercy by Dave Matthews Band
Time is Love by Josh Turner
Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967 by John Mayer
The Age of Worry by John Mayer
The Fear by Ben Howard
Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons
Ho Hey by The Lumineers
If Only by Dave Matthews Band

Watching whole wheat bread crumbs being made

A Look Into Soul Cycle

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned why I’m loving my Soul Cycle classes.  Since the locations are limited to Los Angeles and New York, at the moment, I decided it would be fun to include a clip Kelly Ripa did for her show about the classes.  It is a good taste of the atmosphere and fun!  I will say, I’ve done yoga and loved it for the strength I gained in mind and body.  Soul Cycle is no different.  The instructors are inspirational and there is nothing that compares to how amazing I feel on the bike.  It’s like I can tackle anything when I’m riding.  The instructors help you tap into your inner warrior (as they suggest in signage throughout the studio) – and it’s no wonder why it’s addicting.  To feel like you have the power to accomplish whatever you set out in front of you (even the most difficult challenge) – who wouldn’t want to feel that way, as often as possible?!

Check out the video here.

Wordless Wednesday

Watermelon Granita from Sweet Rose Creamery

Salad with Blueberries + Yellow Peppers

Self-serve Coffee Label at R+D

Hot Day Cool

It’s getting up there on the thermometer these days.  While I spend most of my day in air conditioning, I often think about what I’d be doing were I not.  Despite the warm weather (I grew up in the heat – 100 degree, what?!), I would certainly be spending my time outside – and perhaps even with a cold (or hot) treat.  I’ve rounded up some of fun links – what are yours?

Apparently, it’s hot drinks that keep us cool in the heat.

A new list of LA’s Best Ice Cream Parlors.

My good friend Claire’s wonderful tale of why she loves Sweet Rose Creamery.

A dairy-free alternative that looks like a cinch to make (if you have a blender + ice cream maker).

A fairly easy recipe for a light dinner on the patio courtesy of Giada.  (Need to try these!)

While I’m missing Jack’s awesome iced coffee, I recently discovered Peet’s new cold brew Baridi coffee.  YUM!

Montauk + July Playlist

Summer mornings are some of my favorite.  Being a morning person already, waking up to a room full of sunshine is just about one of my favorite things.  A few weeks ago in Montauk, I not only woke up to sunshine, but walked out right in it!  Something about this time of year, sitting outside and staying low-key is just right.  My July playlist is a mostly mellow mix for those hot summer days – and if you’re like me, keeping it low-key also means slowing down the pace in the kitchen.

July 2012 Playlist
*Links take you to iTunes.

Champion Sound by Crystal Fighters
Only Love by Ben Howard
Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac
Groove Me by King Floyd
Promise by Ben Howard
Time Is Love by Josh Turner
Love and Some Verses by Iron & Wine
The Wolves by Ben Howard
Assassin by John Mayer
All Fall Down by Shawn Colvin
Payphone by Maroon 5
Hide & Seek by Imogen Heap

Montauk Morning


Matisse and a Journey in Art + Food

I’ve been going to art museums, that I remember, since I was 9 years old.  One of the benefits to being in Magnet schools throughout my K-12 education were extra field trips – most of them to museums.  Perhaps because the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, is the first one I remember, modern art holds a deep spot in my heart.  I love the million ways it can often be interpreted.  Naturally, when we were in New York, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), was a must-see.  Sure, I’ve been several times before, but seeing artworks at different points in my life is like visiting with an old friend – I  always take something different from the experience, learning a little more about myself.  This trip, Matisse’s The Red Studio made a particularly significant impression.

“I find that all these things…only become what they are to me when I see them together with the color red.”

Did the red in negative space quiet the outside noise of things that interfere with seeing what exists in reality?  Whatever he really meant by this, I feel as though my journey the past months has been just this.  One instance is in practically eliminating meat of all kinds in my diet.  With this, I have learned to enjoy many different combinations of foods that are healthful, satisfying, and fun to make – an overall positive change.  Whatever you take from this painting, perhaps it is also a reminder to see the glass half full – and embracing the discoveries that result from blocking out the negative.

*Disclaimer – My experience in (mostly) eliminating all types of meat is a personal choice.  I was brought up “not to look at other people’s plates” and make it a habit not to judge others’ food decisions.

The Red Studio by Henri Matisse