Month: June 2014

GHEE & BROWN RICE / QUINOA PASTA (#JuneBlogADay #8)

Two things I’m digging lately, ghee and Trader Joe’s brown rice and quinoa fusilli pasta. photo5

1. Ghee.

I’m pretty new to using ghee and have been thrilled to find out that there are a bunch of health and cooking benefits. Basically, ghee is clarified butter, and is made by simmering butter and then separating the liquid part from the chunky party (yes, very technical description) — the liquid part will solidify once cooled, and that’s the ghee! (I smell a future DIY project….). Ghee is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, but can also be used as a replacement for butter or oil.

First impression…tastes a lot like butter, but with a consistency very similar to coconut oil. I used it on top of my pasta tonight with a pinch of salt and some parmesan cheese.

Here are just a few of the great things about ghee:photo6

  • It has a high smoke point (482* F), which means you can cook and fry with it at high temperatures and it will not break down or burn.
  • It does not spoil easily, so it doesn’t really require much refrigeration, if any.
  • Apparently, when ghee is made, the milk solids are separated (that’s the chunky part I mentioned above) and removed, so people who are lactose intolerant can usually have ghee with no issue.
  • Ghee is super nutritious: high in Vitamins A, D, and E, a rich source of K2 and CLA.
  • It’s rich in fatty acids, which are a good source of energy. It also has butyric acid, which aids in digestion and decreasing inflammation in the body.

If you know me, you’ll know I LOVE butter (a friend has even endorsed me for “Butter” on LinkedIn…it’s that serious. But more on that later…), and ghee is kind of butter 2.0. I will never give up the real thing, but ghee is a great (healthful!) addition to my cooking. Order yourself some Ghee: Trader Joe’s Clarified Butter (Ghee), 8oz.

2. Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. (Order here!)

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I’m Italian. I was also an athlete my whole life, which means I used to eat pasta ALL THE TIME…dinner, microwaved for breakfast the next morning, you name it. And being a young, spry lil thing that ran my butt off in soccer practice and other sports nearly every night, it didn’t matter one bit how much pasta I consumed when I was younger. Nowadays, not so much. Today, pasta is more of a treat. I try to eat clean 80-90% of the time, and pasta does not factor into that clean eating plan. The grains I usually eat are brown rice and quinoa. So, you can imagine how THRILLED I was to discover quinoa and brown rice PASTA at TJ’s. And I kid you not, the only ingredients are brown rice and quinoa, and guess what, those count as clean eating! I honestly feel like I’m cheating each time I eat it — it really tastes like the real thing.

First impression…It completely satisfies any pasta cravings I ever have. It’s so good! Now, if you know your pasta, you’ll notice that it’s not EXACTLY the same as the real thing…with normal pasta, it’s smooth and your teeth cut through it easily. The brown rice and quinoa pasta is “stickier” and the tiniest bit chewy, but man, for an imposter, it does the job.

Ultimately, if you’re trying to eat healthy but absolutely needing to get your pasta fix, try this stuff out. Plus, it’s organic!

Tonight, I added a touch of ghee to my boiling water instead of olive oil, and then put a little bit on the finished pasta. YUM.

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Palm Desert Pool Essentials (#JuneBlogADay Post #7)

photo1 (2)We’re heading to Palm Desert this weekend to watch the World Cup, the NBA finals, and lounge by the pool. And that is it. Can’t wait.

Here are some of my essentials for a weekend of lazy pool time…

Dining and Destinations

Santa Barbara Life & Style

California Wedding Day

805 Living

Havaianas Slim Logo Pop-Up Flip Flops (Also on Amazon)

Ray Ban Wayfarers in Urban Camouflage (Blue) (Also in Grey on Amazon)

Manage Your Day-to-Day from 99u

EOS Lip Balm in Sweet Mint

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen with SPF 55

Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner

U Luxury Argan Oil

Lifefactory Glass and Silicone Water Bottle

Triangl Miami Mint Neoprene Bikini

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15

What are some of your key items for a weekend by the pool? (And who do you want to win the World Cup?!)

 

Orange Is The New Black Season 2! (#JUNEBLOGADAY Post #6)

OITNB SEASON TWO, Y’ALL.

Orange Is The New Black cast photo.

Took me just shy of three days to watch the whole second season in its entirety (please see my previous post on my excellent binge-watching skills, thank you very much). And it was good, like really good. I especially loved the last episode — no spoilers, don’t worry — how they tied it all together so well. The ending was coincidental, yet perfectly serendipitous (you KNOW what I’m talking about if you’ve watched).

One of the things that I really like about the show, seasons one and two, is that they do such a good job with their characters! The plot, the writing, the casting, it’s all really good, but the characters and the ongoing character development is just excellent. (I found this to be true with Weeds, too, which was also created by Jenji Kohan). Just when you think you can’t stand a certain character, they show you something about their life in the next episode that makes you really feel for them (well, except for maybe Pornstache). And even the ones you love, sometimes things get thrown in there that leave a bad taste in your mouth. Bottom line, these writers, and then the actors, do a damn good job of creating and bringing to life complex and multi-faceted characters. It’s fascinating and keeps you coming back.

Can’t wait for season three.

BINGE-WATCHING (#JUNEBLOGADAY Post #5)

Alright, it’s pretty clear this is technically becoming “June Blog Every Other Day,” but WHATEVER. This is already way more than I blogged in May, so we’re winning. The whole point in this challenge is to cultivate more consistent habits when it comes to blogging, which I think we’re achieving. (Plus, EVERY DAY is a bit ambitious…)

ANYHOW.

I have always had an impressive ability to multi-task…and to do it productively and successfully. One of the ways that this “gift” manifests itself is in the way I am able to INHALE TV shows. Hardcore binge-watching. (…that sounds dirty). It’s sometimes embarrassing, and once exposed, I feel like I have to really defend the fact that I’m a highly productive person and not some sloth who sits on the couch all the time.

We’ve all got those background TV shows or movies that we watch when we’re getting other things done to have something to distract us or “keep us company” in a matter of speaking. Making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning the house, have a bit of work you need to get done in the evening — you name it — pop on some Netflix and let that autoplay ROLL…

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(PROOF!)

For my fiancé, Charlie, he usually watches really, really cheesy horror flicks or things he’s already seen a thousand times when he needs something on in the background. That kind of drives me crazy. If I’m going to half-watch a TV show or movie, I don’t want it to suck…huuuuge waste of time, right? He, on the other hand, doesn’t mind so much, because if we pick something good, he feels like he has to pay full attention to it. Maybe I’m being disrespectful to the “good” shows/movies by not paying full attention to them, or maybe I just have more acutely developed senses and can take it all in better than his small, male brain, I don’t know. (I’m probably also setting myself up for Alzheimer’s or ADD or something like that and should be doing Sudoku or crosswords on a daily basis, but let’s not go there.)

The point is I can power through TV shows at an impressive speed, all the while continuing to be a fully-functioning member of society. Most recent TV show in question…Season Two of Orange Is The New Black. Started Sunday night, finished tonight (Wednesday). Thirteen episodes, three days (NOT weekend days). TELL ME YOU’RE NOT IMPRESSED.

Healthy & Refreshing Appetizer/Dessert (#JUNEBLOGADAY Post #4)

The other night, I whipped up a VERY TASTY appetizer that was inspired by one of the dishes we ate at AOC. It also doubles as a healthy and refreshing dessert!

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Here’s what you need:

1 peach (sliced)

1 apricot (chopped)

Handful of pomegranate seeds

Dollop of ricotta cheese

Squeeze of half a lime

Mint sprigs to garnish

Aside from the full fat ricotta (you can use low-fat if you want, but trust me the real stuff is AMAZING…and worth it), this is a pretty healthy appetizer/dessert. Enjoy!

HOUSE PAINTER (#JUNEBLOGADAY POST #3)

My family owns a rental house in town, and we recently decided to give the place a mini-makeover. So, for the past two weeks, I’ve been helping out by painting it. It’s a four-bedroom, two-story house…and we’re doing ceilings, walls, and trim all different colors…so, no small feat. THANKFULLY, I was able to convince a friend to help me out. If I had to do it all by my lonesome, it’d take me 2 months and I’d have punched at least 3 people in the face by now…yeah, it’s suuuuuper fun.

I realize that I’ve only had a small taste, but this kind of steady physical work is exhausting! As silly as it might sound, this project has given me such appreciation and respect for people who work physically demanding jobs every day. Yes, your body probably gets used to it to a certain extent, but man…I’m a pretty in-shape person and painting whoops my butt…blisters, paint in my eyes/hair/nose/ears, jacked up fingernails, hand cramps, back muscles all knotted up and spasmy — YES, FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, I KNOW — you get it, though, it’s tough!

(At the same time, there is something almost soothing about doing repetitive physical work like that…letting your mind wander and focus on something entirely separated from what you’re actually doing.)

To commemorate almost being done with painting, here are some really glamorous selfies. ENJOY.

Dinner at AOC (#JUNEBLOGADAY Post #2)

 

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On Sunday night, we went to AOC in Los Angeles for dinner to celebrate Charlie’s sister’s birthday! I’m pretty sure we ate one of everything off the menu. And it was INCREDIBLE.

Here’s some of what we ate (apologies for the photo quality — most of the time we ate them up as soon as they hit the table so snapping pics was tricky!)…

Cocktails

The “Oxaca Sour” – la penca mezcal, angostura, lemon, vanilla & egg white

Appetizers, Small Bites, & Main Courses

3 cheese plate

Bacon-wrapped dates

Marinated olives

Brioche, prosciutto, gruyère & egg flatbread

Grilled peaches, ricotta & pistachio aillade salad*

Curried cauliflower*

Spanish fried chicken*

Hanger steak with gorgonzola butter & shallot rings

Half roasted chicken

Baby broccoli with garlic & chili*

Desserts

 Vanilla pot de crème with spanish chocolate & marcona almonds

Butterscotch pot de crème with fleur de sel & salted cashew cookies*

Chocolate torta with coffee cream*

Medjool dates

Candied almonds & hazelnuts

Assorted house-made chocolates

Mini s’mores bites*

* = SUPER FAVORITE (let’s be real though, I loved everything!)

June Blogging Challenge! #juneblogaday

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I’m doing a June blogging challenge with two of my friends (Madeleine and Jess) in which we plan to blog each day. It’s June 2nd (well, technically June 3rd because it’s past midnight) and this is my first post…so I’m off to a great start…

We’re currently reading through 99U’s book Manage Your Day-to-Daywhich is all about establishing routines that help you maximize your focus and reach your creative potential. The book is a collection of essays from some pretty smart (and successful) people, like Seth Godin, Gretchen Rubin, Stefan Sagmeister, and many more. So far, I’ve found it to be incredibly insightful (I highly recommend it!).

In one of the first chapters, the various authors emphasize consistency when it comes to your creative practice. Don’t wait for creativity to strike you in order to do your creative work. Build a routine for it. Do it consistently, pure and simple. Over time, it will improve. Over time, it will get easier. Over time, you will achieve a lot. This basic idea of cultivating a consistent creative practice resonated strongly with each of us, and thus, the DAILY June blogging challenge was born.

…now I gotta go write day two’s post.

…and probably day three while I’m at it.

CONSISTENCY.