Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recipe Rundown

So, I’m incredibly behind on my recipe posts (sorry!) but we have been doing plenty of yummy cooking! Here is a little rundown of our semi-kind cooking highlights... ENJOY!

Spicy Rainbow Rice and Black Bean Salad + Fish Tacos
My hubby and I still eat fish, it’s the one ‘meat’ that we have yet to give up. Every other week we make the most delish fish tacos with a yummy mango salsa and we’re never disappointed. It’s one of my fave ‘go to’ weeknight meals because it’s incredibly simple to make. We recently decided to kick up our bi-weekly fish taco dish with a side of Oh She Glow’s Spicy Rainbow Rice and Bean Salad. And we LOVED IT! It’s so delicious and the spices really kick up the flavor profile of the dish… plus, it holds really well and you can eat it for leftovers for days.

What You'll Need ...
1 Fillet of Tilapia     (Preferably non-farmed)
1 Tomato – Chopped
Trader Joes Pineapple Mango Salsa
Trader Joes Salsa Verde
1 Avocado – chopped into cubes
2 WW Tortillas or small corn tortillas
½ Lime

1. Spray your frying pan with some EVOO and lay the filet down to cook, flipping sides every few minutes. Squeeze on the lime juice. Continue cooking until it’s flaky and white. Then make your taco with the additional items listed above. (& add in some of the salad below - DELISH!)

Spicy Rainbow Rice and Bean Salad       (Makes 6 Cups) 
Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum Cookbook & Oh She Glows Blog 
What You'll Need ...

1 bag of Trader Joes Brown Rice     (pre-cooked package)
1 tbsp of EVOO
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 tsp Earth Balance, to stir in 

1. Chop all veggies so they are ready before you start cooking. 

2. Prep your skillet with the tablespoon of EVOO over low-heat. Add in the in the onion and    sauté until golden. Add all spices, minced garlic and sauté.
    3. Add in the soy sauce and the drained and rinsed black beans and stir well. Heat for about 5 minutes on medium heat.

    4. Add the frozen peas, grated carrots, and frozen corn and stir well. Heat on low for another 5 minutes.

   5. Stir in the cooked and drained rice and a teaspoon of Earth Balance (or butter).

6. And enjoy .......       

Minted Orzo and Zucchini Salad
I made this super yummy flirt salad from Whole Foods Reipes for the 4th of July with my fam and it was the perfect side dish to the chilean seabass and grilled veggies my brothers made. The mint seriously made the dish - I highly recommend it for a weekend meal (it takes a bit of time) or for a pot luck. Enjoy!
Photo courtesy of WholeFoods.com
Serves 4 to 6         *Make sure to let this salad chill for a few hours before serving.

What You'll Need ...
1 cup dried orzo
2 large zucchini, thickly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 ounces feta cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
Ground black pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, rinse in cold water and drain again. 
2. Meanwhile, arrange a rack about 6 inches from the heating element and preheat broiler. Brush zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Broil, flipping halfway through, until tender and deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to let cool and then roughly chop and transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, orzo, lemon juice, mint, garlic, feta, olives, tomatoes and black pepper and gently toss to combine. Cover and chill for several hours until flavors blend.

Red Quinoa and Black Bean Vegetable Salad 

Enjoyed my yummy lunch with my new book, The Help - Love and Love.
This is another delicious creation from Oh She Glows and it was by far our favorite quinoa dish to date. My hubby seriously had 2 bowls for lunch and 1 bowl for dinner ... on the same day! This is perfect for lunch or a light dinner ... but make sure to double up the recipe because you will want leftovers ... trust. 
What You'll Need for the salad...
1 cup uncooked Red quinoa
1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
2 Green Onions, chopped
1 cup corn     *we only had frozen - grilled it on the stove and then let cool
1 small avocado, chopped into 1 inch pieces

What You'll Need for the Super YUMMY dressing...
4-5 tbsp of fresh lime juice                  (We only had 1 medium size lime...)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste

1. Cook 1 cup Red Quinoa according to package directions.
2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the chopped vegetables and whisk together the dressing.
3. Allow quinoa to cool after cooking for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the beans and vegetables and toss well.
4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Put the salad in the fridge for about 10min before eating.

Night in BarCelona

I really wish that I was actually in Barcelona but i'm not going there anytime soon ... so, i'm settling for second best, tapas & sangria at BarCelona, the appropriately named modern Spanish restaurant & bar in trustee Old Town Pasadena. My girlfriends and I were craving a girls night and with our men busy and the 405 shut down we decided to escape to Old Town for what turned out to be a delicious meal with the best of friends.

I was incredibly hesitant about trying out a new cuisine but I was pleasently surprised as soon as the sangria hit my lips. I loved the vibe of the restaurant and the food was much better then I expected. We tried a variety of tapas including the flat bread with romesco, pine nuts, manchego, grilled apple, arugula (delish!), grilled garlic shrimp (mediocore), crispy eggplant with honey and spiced yogurt (I couldn't stop eating it!) and we finished off with the special seabass with corn relish (amaze!).

Now, my only vice is that their tapas are small and not priced accordingly; we walked out at around $40 each for the above + 2 more tappas ... but after 2 glasses of sangria I really didn't care.  
I get really happy when I drink :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

What iLOVE Now - Summer Fashion

Colored Denim

I love this trend for summer … I personally have way too many black and white tops and colored denim jeans and shorts really help switch up my wardrobe with minimal effort. I’m especially loving this look by Nicky Hilton in JBrand skinny purple jeans… perfect for day with flats and for night with a great pair of heels.

Season-less Jewelry
I absolutely love jewelry! Delicate everyday pieces to chunky statement pieces can transform my look in a snap...but I hate when a piece falls out of trend and I have to switch it up from season to season because quite honestly i'm on a budget and jewelry can add up! For this reason I love these key pieces from Stella & Dot...they can carry me from Spring to Summer to Fall.
(It’s pretty obvi that I’m obsessed with gold – but they have so many versatile pieces in silver.. check out their website!)

I especially love the layered bracelet trend with a combination of the following...alone or together they add character to any outfit and dress up a simple t-shirt and jeans in a pinch, day and night.

My 2006 Bulga Bag

I used to work at a super trendy denim boutique in Santa Barbara (RIP Blue Bee Jeans). Twice a year we had an amazing sale and us employees snagged amazing finds at 70% off and this bag was one of mine. I found it stuffed away in my closet a few weeks ago and don’t intend on hanging it back up for a long time. I love, love the color and how it adds pop to any every-day outfit. I’m on the look out for an amazing black bag for fall… until then I’ll be sporting my bargain find designer bag.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My LOVE Hate Relationship with Dairy

I love icecream, yogurt, quesadillas and so many other comfort foods that are made with dairy products that quite simply hate me. Over the past 6 years I've battled stomach issues that have been incredibly frustrating ... they last 3 months, go away for 1, come back for 2, and well, you get the picture. In college I encountered one to many uncomfortable doctor exams and at the end of it all I put up the white flag and gave up on some of my faves. Needless to say, it was a sad day.
...Until I read the Kind Diet.  Alicia examines the controversy behind dairy and how it can negatively affect our bodies (she claims dairy is linked to asthma, allergies, heart disease and diabetes - check out her book for all the deets). While all of this is just dandy, I was freaking psyched to know that there are so many alternatives for people like me with love/hate relationships with dairy! I apprehensively set out to Whole Foods praying that I wouldn't be horribly disappointed with the pseudo-dairy products I set out to buy and to my disbelief I found some delish new staples. 
Here is a little recap of my purchases ...
(it's worth noting in advance for all who are just as skeptical as I was that my cheese loving hubby enjoys them all!)

DAIYA CHEESE - Cheddar Style Shreds

Daiya is plant-based cheese alternative and i'd personally have to give it a B-. I first had it in a wrap and there was a noticeable change in flavor ... it's also a bit pricier then other shredded cheese alternatives which is an immediate turn off for me.

Galaxy Nutritional Rice Shreds & Toppings

Point blank, it sounds awful but it is SO yummy - it actually tastes like cheese! My hubby and I now buy this in place of real cheese (he seriously loves it!) and it passed the quesadilla test with flying colors - melted perfectly! I give this a strong A+. I have 2 packages of the rice shreds in my fridge now.

Tofutti -  Sour Cream & Cream Cheese
The Sour Cream is seriously better then the real thing and again, it is a new staple in our house, it's an easy A ... so long Daisy Sour Cream!
As for the Cream Cheese, it was awful.  I ended up throwing out my bagel which made for a very unhappy mornng. Fail.

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze - Unsweetened Original Flavor
This tastes much better then soy milk and is a good source of calcium, Vitamin D, A and E. My hubby absolutely loves it ... I sometimes think the taste is a little thick but it's still pretty damn good. I give it an A-.


If you battle GI issues like I do or just want to switch to a more cow friendly dairy alternative, I seriously recommend trying 1 item from the list above. A small change can make a huge difference in the way you feel. I am so thrilled to know I can find relief and that I don't have to sacrifice a night of stomach pain or bloat for a yummy homemade quesadilla.

I'm pretty sure you're now wondering How do you get enough calcium? 
Well, many veggies have calcium especially the green leafy ones which i've come to love (kale included) and you can find loads of calcium in different types of beans (soy included), seeds (think sesame) and nuts. I personally eat a lot of black beans, hummus (it has 60mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving), almonds, brocoli and kale.

I hope this post has been helpful ... If you have any dairy alternatives you'd like to recommend, please let me know!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stop. And LIVE.

I’ve been MIA for awhile primarily because of my 9-5 (better known as my on call 24/7 job) … and on top of that life has just been busy. Over the past two weeks some big changes have happened in the lives of people I’m close to … one of my best friends got engaged and another close friend lost his mom …

Both are reminders of how precious life is, how valuable friendships and family are … and how quickly it can all be taken away.  I grabbed drinks on Friday night with some friends and we chatted about how losing someone makes you question the way in which you live your life and how we stress about the things that in hindsight really don't matter. We all felt we could do better and stop stressing about the unimportant, stop shortchanging experiences and opportunities and live better.

These ideas have been reoccurring for me … I call it my quarter life crisis (25 is slowly creeping up on me) … but I have come to realize that they’re inevitable and healthy. I’m not perfect and I’d rather struggle then be complacent because that’s when I learn the most about myself and challenge my integrity. It's still easy to get caught up in the mundane (bills, bosses, etc.) but I've gotta deal with the crap because it's quite simply part of life...what matters is how well I can stop allowing the crap overwhelm me, find the time to make memories, do what is important to me with people that matter and just simply, live.

.... and this brings me to the quote/saying below. LOVE it.