Tag Archives: soup

Apartment Upgrades

So, this week is… intense, to say the least. I have something planned every single morning before work (except today) and every single night after work. In some cases, I’ve even booked more than one thing after work! Tonight is one of those nights.

I was supposed to go out for dinner last night with Kelley, but when I found myself feeling pretty sick, I sadly had to postpone.

So, instead of a night out with a blogger friend at a restaurant I’ve long wanted to try, it was this kind of night:

Wild and crazy.

(That’s shredded parmesan on top, in case you’re wondering. You probably weren’t, though, since you know I put parmesan on… everything.)

Solitaire and I got craaaazy last night.

I couldn’t even stay up long enough to do a load of laundry. I was in bed by 9:30.

Thankfully, it was definitely the right thing to do; I woke up this morning feeling a thousand times better. In fact, I woke up early enough this morning to do that load of laundry and clean the apartment, which really needed to be done because I have a guest coming this weekend!

I’m not sure I’ll have another free moment to do that, so hopefully Mark and I will be able to keep it up.

(Hint hint, Mark. 😀 )

(Seriously, you all feel so bad for him right now, right?)

Speaking of the apartment (and of Mark), Mark and I have made some fun new changes and I want to share them with you. Now, we’re no Young House Love (and we’re probably moving in a few months anyway, so we’re not doing anything intense or permanent), but I’m still pretty excited about the upgrades.

Upgrade #1: We took down the Christmas lights we’ve had up since… Christmas.

Upgrade #2: I got a new mirror to replace that ugly flower poster I’ve had from IKEA for years.

If I’m being honest, I found out that the mirror (purchased from a yard sale) is an IKEA mirror. I’m pretending it isn’t, though. The mind is a powerful thing.

Upgrade #3: New pillows for the couch to replace those ugly IKEA rainbow pillows I’ve had for years (anyone sensing a theme here?).

Really, though,  I’d also like to replace the couch. And the eating table. And the eating table’s chairs. And the side tables. And the table that holds the TV. Okay. I’ll stop… but I could go on.

(They’re all from IKEA, by the way. Not to hate on IKEA – it’s good for a lot of things and appreciably cheap – I’m just really, really over this stuff.)

Upgrade #4: New “accent pieces” for the awkward should-be-a-bar-but-it’s-not-because-it’s-behind-the-stove area.

Really, most of that is recycled. Each wine bottle represents a memory with said bottle – you may be able to tell that there is something written on almost every one of them. The milk jars are from milk that Mark buys (cute, right?). The only direct purchases were that I got the fake flowers and the decorative rocks/ sea shells from Michaels, collectively for under $10.

The part that I’m really excited about, though, is hidden behind that area.

See it?

Upgrade #5: Two shelves to clear out our pantry and show off our Ball (and other) jars and spices!

Now, this is definitely still a work in progress (some jars need to be cleaned up better, for instance, and we need to label all of the jars), but I’m pretty excited about this one. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, both because I like the shabby-chicness of Ball jars and because our pantry has been entirely overloaded with stuff.

A really small kitchen for two foodies is not an easy thing to deal with.

It may not look awesome to you, but compared to how it looked before, our pantry now looks incredible.

Anyway, you’ve already seen the last one, but I’ll show it to you again just because it’s a part of our whole “upgrade.”

Upgrade #6: A nice TV.

One of the two ugly flower pictures is still hung here, but at least we were able to get rid of one. I can’t wait to replace the one that remains.

Anybody in LA looking to get rid of any artwork? I’d be happy to take it off your hands.

Other than the TV, which was a gift, everything here was super cheap or was a re-utilization of something.

  • Ball jar shelves: $10/ each
  • Mirror: $10 (which I thought was a little steep, but the people holding the yard sale wouldn’t budge even when I tried to bargain… and I wanted it)
  • Fake flowers/ rocks/ sea shell pieces: $10 altogether
  • New set of Ball jars: $15
  • Pillows: free from a friend

Anyway, taking all those pictures make me work up an appetite!

(Yup, awkward transition. Just go with it.)

Breakfast allowed me to break in one of the new Chobani yogurts. It was about to expire. I actually, sadly, let the new Lemon yogurt that they sent me expire. It was an accident and I was kind of devastated.

How did I let this happen? Because I am such a food hoarder. Seriously, it’s a problem. I won’t even let Mark open the new Girl Scout Cookies because I want to “save” them. Similarly, I was “saving” the Lemon Chobani because I was so excited about it. Yes, I know that doesn’t make any sense.

Like I said, I have a problem.

However, since I recognized this problem after tearfully throwing out the expired Lemon yogurt (I checked it and it was definitely inedible), I did manage to use the new 2% Mango this morning.

Hallelujah.

If you haven’t had it yet, you should know that it’s awesome – so awesome that it comes in as a close second to the 2% Pineapple, which will probably be my favorite yogurt for the rest of my life.

It’s a good thing I don’t make broad, sweeping statements about anything.

Into the mix went:

  • 2% Mango Chobani
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • pomegranate seeds
  • Go Lean Crunch! Honey Almond Flax (It’s been so long! Welcome back, old friend.)

Good thing I don’t talk to inanimate objects or food, either.

All mixed up, to prove I had show off the yogurt:

Yum.

Lunch for the past two days has been leftovers of the awesome dinner I made for an impromptu on Sunday night, but I’m waiting for something else to come together before I share it.

So mysterious…

Have you made any upgrades to your apartment/ house/ living space lately?

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Mexican Casserole

Well, it will be a Mexican Casserole when you make it.

When I made it, it was a Mexican Souperole.

I set out to make a casserole the other day, but mine wasn’t quite a casserole. It was too soupy. I am, however, happy with the result as, essentially, a baked soup.

I know, weird.

But, really, I think the answer to this Souperole becoming a legitimate casserole would simply be to add about a cup and a half of cooked brown rice. So I’m going to add that in the recipe below, and you can just pretend that I added it myself.

Mexican Casserole

makes about 5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 8 mini potatoes (I used white, red and purple)
  • 1 1/2 cups green beans
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can corn, drained & rinsed
  • 3 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 container (1 pint) black bean soup (I used Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup)
  • 1/2 cup shredded light cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook brown rice in a pot of water on the stove until it is al dente.

Spread the cooked rice along the bottom of your casserole dish.

Chop and prepare your vegetables, spreading them evenly across the rice in your casserole dish.

Pour the black bean soup over the rice and vegetables. Stir the contents of the casserole dish to evenly distribute the soup and vegetables.

Bake the casserole for 40 minutes, then take out and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake for 20 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Voila! You’re done.

This is what it looked like when I had it for lunch the next day (and after transport in tupperware to work):

Yum! I definitely do think the brown rice would take it to the next level, but this was certainly filling, hearty and healthy all on its own.

Oh, and when I had it next, I added avocado on top. Totally made the dish.

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Rosemary Potatoes & Green Beans

On Monday night, I had dinner with the lovely and talented Lynn!

We went to Panera, which is an old favorite of mine but was new to Lynn! I couldn’t believe it.

I had such a good time catching up with Lynn… and just in case any of you are wondering, she is one of the coolest, most together people I have ever met. If you don’t read her blog yet, you should.

I got the French Onion soup, which I had been super excited about. I’d just had it the day before (don’t judge), so it was kind of all I was craving. I just wanted to repeat the wonderful experience.

However, let’s do a little comparison here, because the soup I got on Monday was far inferior to the soup I got on Sunday.

Sunday:

Looks good, right?

Monday:

Weak.  Everyone knows the cheese and croutons are the best part. Duh.

Another dish that totally proves how a meal can be either weak or great with just a few little changes is the Rosemary Potatoes & Green Beans dish I whipped up the other night.

You see, my lunches on Monday and Tuesday were exactly the same and were revivals of a kind of failed dinner late last week. I had big plans to make these super-exciting salmon burgers with a side of potatoes and green beans. These plans were exciting because I like to tell myself that things I make sound gourmet and also because I was oh-so-sure the meal was going to kick butt.

Wroooong!

The salmon burgers? Hear me when I say this:  I am never making them again. They tasted good in the end, but seeing so much bone in a can = a good way to lose your appetite. At least, it is for me. So, you know, I’m not going to subject you to it.

Anyway, this is what that dinner looked like:

You’d think the salmon burgers would steal the show, but the part I was really interested in was that colorful side of the plate.

The good news was that I had at least two servings of the veggies left, so I knew I’d have the chance to re-work them into better meals.

Rosemary Potatoes & Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag green & yellow beans (TJ’s)
  • ~ 10 baby potatoes (Hanna gave these, which came from her CSA, to me… thanks, Hanna!)
  • 3/4 tbs EVOO
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch rosemary

Directions

Place green & yellow beans and potatoes in a pot of water and bring to boil. Cook the beans and potatoes in the water for about five more minutes in the boiling water.

Drain potatoes and beans from the pot.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add beans and potatoes. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and rosemary. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until they’ve browned slightly, stirring often.

That’s it! Easy, right?

Anyway, the re-purposing of this side dish was a lot better. As I said, I used it for both my Monday and Tuesday lunches.

All I did was add pinto beans (one serving per day) and a generous amount of parmesan & romano.

This lunch actually kind of rocked. I miss it already.

Especially because lunch today should be…. interesting. More on that later.

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Four Course Dinner

On Friday, my friend (and newly fellow blogger!) Claire and I had a date. The plan? A four course dinner!

Go big or go home, right?

Claire, because she’s awesome, had it all planned out. Some of the courses were to be prepared and made that night, and some of them were done already.

Course #1: Antipasto

(hot or cold appetizers)

Caprese Salad

(tomato, mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper)

Oh, and here’s the lovely hostess, preparing the course:

My first taste:

Course #2: Primo

(first course, usually a hot dish)

Minestrone Soup

Claire made it the night before, using this recipe

I loved that this course was light, but filling enough to tide us over while we prepared the next course from scratch.

Course #3: Secondo & Contorno

(main dish, usually fish or meat; and side dish, usually a vegetable)

Secondo

Pork Tenderloin in a Balsamic Cream Sauce


and Contorno

Asian Sesame Glazed Brussels Sprouts


The recipe for the brussels sprouts came from Emily at The Daily Garnish!

Isn’t that fun? It was so cool that Claire had come across Emily‘s blog as a result of reading mine.

Finally…

Course #4: Fromaggio e Frutta

(literally cheese and fruit)

Strawberries & Goat Cheese

I really loved this combination, but was also on flavor overload by the time I’d had about three strawberry halves. Though we kept our portions small, four courses is still a lot of food!

I had such  a good time and enjoyed every morsel of food that went into my mouth.

I love combining good food with good company!

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A Lovely Weekend

I had the nicest weekend. Nothing big, nothing exciting, just…. nice.

One of the best parts was reading all of your comments coming in about food commentary. It was really cool to hear all of your thoughts on the matter – I loved the discussion! I also loved that almost everyone had a similar (and very healthy!) outlook.

On Friday night, I got to see one of my favorite people, Mike.

He was the director of the thesis film I produced in grad school, but he has since moved home to Mexico, so I only get to see him when he comes up to California to visit.

Since we were both in the valley for other things that night, we met at a restaurant/ bar in North Hollywood that I’d always wanted to try, the Eclectic Wine Bar & Grille.

I wasn’t a huge fan, but I will say this: though I thought the food, especially for the prices, disappointed, I thought the staff was awesome.

For my entree, I ordered a bowl of their vegetable soup.

I don’t think you can tell, but that is one shallow bowl. Definitely not enough food for a meal.

So I ended up eating quite a bit of their bread.

Oh, well. At least my company was awesome.

I was supposed to go hang out with some other friends that night, but I ended up being out with Mike late enough that I had to make a rain check.

Saturday started bright and early with a return to spinning. I got back in the saddle again!

Pun intended.

Though last week’s spinning adventure didn’t go so well, I still loved it, so it wasn’t hard to return this weekend. I’m happy to say that I was absolutely fine afterward. Fantastic, in fact! I can feel myself becoming a stronger spinner.

Is that a word?

My post-spinning morning was so nice. It was in the 80’s all weekend – yes, in the 80s, in January! – so I walked around the downtown near my gym for a while, visiting both the local farmer’s market and, of course, Starbucks. I picked up an iced coffee and headed home to enjoy it with my breakfast, which was epic.

Into the mix went:

  • Pineapple 2% Chobani (love)
  • 1 piece Mark’s banana bread, crumbled (and yes, you’ll be getting the recipe soon)
  • pomegranate seeds

Epic.

Hey look, you get to see how high maintenance I am with even a simple iced coffee. 🙂

Anyway, an errand I had to run brought Mark and me to the Americana in Glendale, which I’d somehow never been to before. It’s so pretty! It reminds me of Disneyland.

Plus, they have a store with my name.

Not quite the right spelling, but then again, neither was my coffee.

I was pretty hungry by the time we got there, so I made a stop at the crepe stand.

I got what I thought sounded like a fresh, light, veggie-filled crepe – the Opulence.

Unfortunately, it was anything but light. It was super garlicky and super oily, plus it had way more chicken and cheese than it did vegetables, so it got pretty old pretty quickly. I guess I didn’t realize that the artichokes/ hearts of palm were soaked on oil.

Oh well.

Dinner that night was lots of fun, but undocumented. I went out for Indian food with my friend Amy (whom you may remember from her surprise birthday party), where I got (super spicy!) Chana Masala and shared garlic Naan and brown rice with Amy.

We also saw The King’s Speech, which I loved but also felt had issues. The issues, however, were most certainly not with the acting. All three leads were absolutely phenomenal. See it for the performances. Speaking of movies, I also saw The Fighter, which was also incredible, and The Social Network (for the second time) in the past few days. There were so many wonderful performances across these three movies! The only big Oscar contenders I have left to see at this point are True Grit and Winter’s Bone. This is the first year that I’ve ever seen so many movies before the awards shows, so that’s pretty exciting.

Sunday was just as nice as Saturday. I started it with an almost identical breakfast, and then I headed out to Pasadena to run another errand I needed to do this weekend.

I decided to use the opportunity to visit Great Harvest, which I have wanted to try forever, given how amazing Kath makes it sound.

It did not disappoint. I am absolutely enamored.

I started off trying a slice of Raisin Cinnamon Chip, which basically melted in my mouth. I ate it so quickly that I didn’t even think to take a picture.

For lunch, I got a turkey & swiss sandwich on Dakota bread, which I’ve always thought sounded awesome on Kath’s blog.

After the slice of bread I’d already eaten, I only had room for half of the sandwich! I brought the other half home – don’t you worry.

After eating, I went back to the counter, chatted with the super friendly guy at the register, and I bought loaves of both the Dakota and Raisin Cinnamon Chip breads. I was so sold. Chewy, dense, flavorful, delicious… I never want to eat any other bread again. And I want to try all of the breads they have to offer. Every single one!

I also got to try one more bread – the Cracked Pepper Parmesan.

Wow. So packed with flavor. The pepper packed a lot of punch! I loved the chunks of cheese. This bread would make for incredible sandwiches… with not much else on the inside!

Anyway, if you’re in LA, check them out. And if you’re not in LA, you still might have one near you! It’s worth it. I promise.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading in a park close to my apartment while enjoying these two treats:

A handful of dark chocolate-covered almonds and a Kombucha. This was my first taste of Kombucha and I am in love.

Anyway, the rest of the evening was uneventful but productive. While watching the Golden Globes, I worked on my recipe book, a project I’ve been putting off forever.

A perfect weekend!

What did you do? Did you watch the Golden Globes? See any good movies?

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Family Cooking

It’s great having a roommate who likes to cook.

Mark and I have started a new tradition in which we cook for each other a few times during the week. After all, we eat fairly similarly (with the exception that I occasionally eat meat, poultry and fish, which he does not, which is fine since many of my meals do not include any of that). Plus, we practically act like siblings… so, why not extend that family sentiment into family dinners?

Early in the week, I made us both Lentil Chili, and then, the next day, he made my beloved (by both of us, that is) Vegetable Casserole, and then last night he again treated me by not only making French Onion Soup (the first time I’d ever had it!), but also banana bread, which I was able to incorporate into my breakfast this morning. Whew!

The French Onion Soup…

What you see on top of the soup is whole grain bread, drizzled with olive oil and topped with gruyere, all broiled before being placed in the soup.

I know, right? YUM. I ate every last morsel.

The banana bread he made was also one of my favorite banana breads I’ve ever had. It was doughy, dense and moist, which is exactly how banana bread should be. In my humble opinion, anyway. Plus, it’s actually a pretty healthy recipe.

I used it this morning as the focal point of my yogurt bowl.

Into the mix went:

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Trader Joe’s 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 piece Mark’s banana bread, toasted & crumbled
  • 3/4 tbs natural peanut butter

This bowl was awesome.

The yogurt mixed with the bread reminded me of putting cream cheese on banana bread, which I love.

And not only that, but it kept me completely full until lunch, which I actually ate even later than usual today. I’d attribute that to all of those healthy fats.

So good.

I’m going to have to get those recipes from Mark… I mean, I’m assuming you want them, right? 🙂

Happy Friday!

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Two

I have been the worst blogger lately.

Eesh. Sorry.

Let me get through things kind of quickly. I’ll start with the 22nd and 23rd. Interestingly, in those two days, I did most things in twos.

The first meal totally doesn’t fall into that, though. I just had another yogurt bowl. But what a yogurt bowl it was!

Into the mix went:

  • Strawberry Banana CHO
  • Julie‘s healthy homemade granola
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • 1/2 banana, sliced

Now, for the twos.

I had two coffees. One for each day.

On Wednesday, I had a Toasted Almond coffee from Zumbach’s… on which my mom decided to write a new spelling of my name.

And on Thursday, a soy latte.

Wednesday brought two fish-based meals.

Lunch was fresh Italian bread and tuna salad, both from a local Italian deli & bakery, toasted and topped with cheddar cheese to make a tuna melt. On the side: green beans with EVOO, walnuts, almonds, fresh parmesan and dried cranberries – from the same deli. Delish.

So fresh.

For dinner: leftovers of the grilled shrimp, sauteed vegetables & rice.

On Thursday morning, I made two bowls (well, mugs) of oatmeal – one for me and one for my dad.

Mine:

His:

Into the mix (for two) went:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup 1% organic milk (for the record, I like almond milk much better in oatmeal)
  • 1 banana, sliced & mushed
  • a few dashes cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

On top (of mine, 1/3 of the oatmeal):

  • creamy honey
  • blueberries
  • raspberries

On top (of his, 2/3 of the oatmeal)

  • creamy honey

Then, I had two tomato-based, Italian meals.

For lunch, I had pasta fagioli soup from that same Italian deli/ bakery from the day before. Topped with fresh grated parmesan from there, too.

Then, for dinner, we got pizza from a place nearby called Planet Pizza.

We ordered a Greek salad, the veggie pizza and a ridiculously fresh pizza called Grandma’s pizza. I had a slice of each and a lot of salad.

I also had a blueberry ale. But just one. 🙂

I saw my first snowfall of the season that day. One snowfall. Two pictures.

But it was nothing – nothing – compared to what we got today.

Two fitness classes: one strength class and one kickboxing class. Plus 50 minutes on the Arc Trainer. All on Wednesday. No workout on Thursday.

Two good deeds:

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 22

I actually know I did something else that day, but I can’t remember what it was. But I also left an extra big tip at Zumbach’s, so I’ll list that one.

25 Days of Good Deeds for Christmas, Day 23

At the eye doctor, the nicest old man sat down next to me and just wanted to talk. That’s all! He told me about his sick wife and the fact that they can’t go down to Florida anymore because of how sick she is, and how he’s not used to the cold. I just sat and talked to him for as long as I had until I was brought in for my appointment.

I’ll leave you, for now, with two seriously cute dogs.

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