Sunday, October 23, 2011

Carb Central


If you look closely you'll see that there are a whole lotta carbs in the picture up above. I love carbs and it's no secret. Keep reading to find out about my potato and zucchini fries plus a chicken caprese grilled cheese.




As with all my other recipes, measurements aren't something I bother with. First I chopped my potato up into bite size pieces. I then tossed them in olive oil, panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Then I spread them out on a foil-lined cookie sheet and threw them in the oven at about 450 degrees. While those started browning I started work on the zucchini.




For this I took one small zucchini and chopped it into quarters. For the "breading" I crushed corn flakes, added Italian seasoning, a dash of garlic salt, and parmesan cheese. I dipped each zucchini spear into olive oil and then into the corn flake mixture. once the potatoes were about halfway done I took them out and threw the zucchini onto the cookie sheet and put them back in the oven. 




While the veggies were cooking I made the main course. I took two slices of cracked wheat sourdough and put a slice of mozzarella on each piece of bread. On one side I put sliced tomato (seeds removed, right mom?) and some torn up fresh basil leaves. On the other side I put some sliced lemon herb chicken breast meat. I let each piece cook on its own so that the cheese melted evenly on both sides. Once everything was starting to melt I put the two pieces together and let it all cook together.

 It all went together really well. Lots of carbs, lots of cheese, a decent amount of veggies, and even some protein. Nope, not the healthiest meal but it sure was delicious. The sandwich would be really good with tomato soup and the veggies are pretty basic and would go well with anything.



Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas


Chicken Fajita Quesadillas are quite possibly the most delicious food I make. I take shortcuts but they turn out great no matter what, it's almost impossible to screw these up. 


I like to use a variety of peppers to get different flavors. I'm not a fan of yellow, red, or orange bell peppers so I steer clear of them but if you like them, throw them in! This time I used two medium sized green bell peppers, one large anaheim pepper (my favorite kind!), and one medium jalapeno. You'll also need an onion. I don't like onion so I use significantly more peppers, it's all up to what you prefer. Chop up the veggies, I do julienne strips but it doesn't matter once you get them in the pan.
Warning: Be careful with the jalapeno. Yes this should be common sense but I got some juice in my eye making these a couple months back and it was awful. 

There's no picture because raw meat is gross and no matter what I do I can't get it to photograph well but you also want to clean up the chicken breasts and cut them into either strips or bite size pieces.
Then you'll want to cook the chicken in a frying pan. Make sure all the chicken is cooked through before adding any of the veggies or seasoning.


Here's where the shortcut comes into play. I use seasoning packets because it's how I learned to make fajitas. I've made them without the packets and to be perfectly honest, it isn't that much more difficult to do it yourself. It's probably healthier and a lot less sodium if you spice them up yourselves too. If you're like me and you choose the packet route I recommend getting one fajita and one taco. These are just the regular sized packages, I use half of each so I get 2 uses out of them. If you're going to use what you already have in the cabinet try using cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and cumin.


Once you've got your chicken cooked through, throw in the peppers and onions along with whatever spices you decided on. I also like to drizzle some olive oil on to help get the spices mixed in. If you're not getting everything coated evenly with the spices you can add 1/4 cup of water to thin it out and mix it up, the water will cook off and you'll be left with a thicker sauce like consistency that will cover all your veggies.


Once the chicken, peppers, and onions are seasoned and cooked set them aside. You'll either need another pan of about the same size or if, like me, you only have one pan you need to wash it. I don't like to put any olive oil or butter in the pan because it's just added grease that you really don't need. Just lay down a tortilla, then a thin layer of cheese, followed by the fajita mixture you just prepared. Then it's up to you as far as the rest of the fillings go. This particular quesadilla was for Jon and it's rare that my cooking comes out spicy enough for his tastes. For his I add pico de gallo (or just chopped raw onions and tomatoes) and lots and lots of siriracha.
I stopped here and took the picture because it looks prettiest at this point but you'll want to add another layer of cheese before putting the second tortilla on top. If you don't add the extra cheese layer the top tortilla will have nothing to stick to and flipping the quesadilla will be really difficult. Trust me, I ended up with chicken and veggies all over my counter the first time I did this. You want that extra cheese to act like glue.


Once the cheese is melted and the tortilla is as crispy as you like, you're done! I make spanish rice and refried beans to go with mine but any side dishes will work.









Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Favorites

I do have a couple posts lined up from this past weekend but I haven't uploaded the pictures yet. This is easier than finding my camera, getting them on the computer...well, you get it.

Inspired by Lauren Conrad (of Laguna Beach and The Hills fame), I thought I'd do a Friday Favorites post and hopefully make it a regular thing. This week it officially became Fall in Los Angeles when it rained allllll day on Wednesday so I'm going to do a Fall edition.

Favorite Meal
I need a little help on this one. Chili is my favorite Fall/Winter food. Every November my mom and step-dad throw a "chili cook off." It may have started as a real competition - I probably wasn't even alive when it started - but these days it's just a friendly gathering. Tons of family friends come over with their best pot of chili (or side dish, bread, or dessert) and beer or wine to hang out for an afternoon of amazing food. Now that I'm in LA it's my goal to make it back for the chili party to get my fix but I'd love it if I had a simple recipe that I could make when I'm missing home. If anyone can recommend one I'd really appreciate it!

Favorite Dessert
Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares, hands down the best pumpkin dessert you'll have. I'd even choose these over pumpkin pie! I started making them three or four years ago and look forward to making them every year. Two years ago, when I was still living in San Luis, Tessa and I encountered a big problem when we tried to make these - a pumpkin shortage. Who knew that was even possible?? When we finally found cans of pumpkin I stocked up and just opened my last can a couple weeks ago. Yes, I've already made them once but I plan to make them at least one more time and when I do I'll take pictures and post the recipe here.

Favorite Fashion Trend
Now, I'm not exactly a fashionista. Ok who am I kidding? I'm not one at all. Right now I'm in Jon's pajama pants and a tank top. I'll probably wear leggings and an oversized sweater today, assuming summer doesn't come back for an encore. The one fashion trend I do follow in the colder months is boots. I love boots. If I had my way I'd wear boots and big thick socks/leg warmers all year round. Doesn't it just look so comfy?

Favorite Nail Polish
If you know me you probably know that I have a little bit of a nail polish addiction but strangely enough my favorite in this category isn't even a color I own. It's butter London polish in the color "Wallis." I borrowed this from a friend and fell in love. It looks totally different depending on the lighting you're in. When you're inside it's a much more muted shimmery olive and when you step into the sun it becomes a gorgeous reflective bronzy gold with olive and blackish brown undertones. When I'm in a position to buy nail polish again this will be my very first purchase.


Favorite Movie
If you told me that you were a kid in the late 80's or early 90's and never saw Hocus Pocus I'd call you a liar. I can understand if you didn't love it but everyone has seen Hocus Pocus at least once. I don't know if I wasn't allowed to watch it at home but for some reason all my memories of watching it as a little kid are at Tessa's house. To be fair probably 40% of my childhood memories are at her house because she was my second family growing up. I don't remember watching this movie anywhere but her house until maybe 6th grade or junior high when I would watch it on Disney Channel. For some reason I still don't own it. I'm hoping it's on Netflix Instant, if not I'll have to look at the library because I want to make the foods mentioned above and watch this on Halloween this year.

That concludes my first installment of Friday Favorites. Hopefully I'll come up with categories and keep it going next week. Check back for posts on Jon's birthday dinner and my first attempt at baking a cake from scratch! Those should be up this weekend or early next week. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Abandoned Zoo



Jon and I rang in the Fall/Halloween season (on a 90 degree day) by checking out an abandoned zoo site in Griffith Park. It's back past the merry-go-round, which I think is a myth because I've never seen it, off to the left where Crystal Springs Drive splits off towards the current zoo and the Autry Museum.

The first cages we came across. Most of them were open so I obviously dropped my bag and ran straight inside.


You can kind of tell on the left of this picture, most of the cages had doors that connected them to the neighboring spaces.

Once I was done monkey-ing around in this area we continued along the path. At one point it splits off, one way going towards a grassy clearing with some picnic tables while the other goes up a hill to I-didn't-know-what. Guess which option we picked? Yup, up the hill it was. Turns out going up leads you to the back parts of the bigger enclosures. 


This was one of four or five super steep stairwell leading down to a big closed cage door.



Creepy barn past the stairwells.

 Creepy inside of the creepy barn.

Blood?   O___o

Yet another cage thing even further past the barn.

At this point there was nothing more to see so we went back down to explore the grassy area/find where those big stairwells led to. As we got down into the picnic area I saw something moving around on a table a few hundred feet away. I got as close as I could and zoomed in to find that it was a fox scavenging. I got really excited because it kind of looked like my pup and also - hello! wildlife in Los Angeles.



 Yes, three pictures were necessary. 


Finally the more exciting looking parts...




I'm guessing these areas would have been for bigger animals like lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!). They may look familiar to Parks and Recreation fans because they were the set for the Pawnee Zoo in season 2. Scenes from Anchorman were also filmed here, something about a bear? I don't know, I couldn't get through that movie.

The other side of the stairwell I found.

A bunch of props and tables and stuff in one of the enclosures.

While I was busy wondering aloud what the stuff in the picture above was for I hear Jon say "oooh coffins!" I didn't believe him until I turned around and saw this. I made him open one and screamed when I saw BONES. Don't worry, upon further inspection I confirmed that they were fake, as was the hair I saw sticking out of another one.

If you're wondering why there are coffins laying around in Griffith Park it's because they were setting up for the Haunted Hay Ride the day we were there. It runs most nights and evenings through the month of October and costs $25 - $1,325 depending on how scared you want to be. I would never ever in a million years go on it, I mean c'mon I screamed at fake bones in broad daylight. Just going to the website so I could link it above was enough to give me nightmares. I will never understand people paying money to be scared, that's just nutter butter.

Adventures

I've abandoned my blog yet again, whoops. Lets dust off the cobwebs and catch up. I'm all settled into my new apartment but it's currently a mess and I forgot to take pictures when it was clean. Perhaps I'll tidy up and photograph it in the next couple days. It's a pretty cute place if I do say so myself.

Aside from getting moved in and job hunting (which is still crawling along) I've done a few fun things.



Last week I went to LACMA for the first time to check out the Tim Burton exhibit. They had a huge amount of stuff from his personal sketch books as well as a few awesome costume items from his movies. Cameras weren't allowed out in the actual exhibit, I even got scolded for texting, so unfortunately I only got a picture at the entrance.


LACMA is huge and we only went in one of the exhibits but scattered between all the buildings are art installments (ie. the rows and rows of lamp posts you've seen in movies and pictures). This was a square of stretchy, noodle-y, things that you could walk through. Warning: if you go and walk through this <i>do not</i> gather some of the noodles up in your hand and pull on them to see if you could potentially hang from them. a) you can't, they just stretch, and b) you will get a stern look and talking to.





A couple weekends ago Alana (the brains behind the design of my blog) and Tessa, two of my oldest friends, came to stay with me for the weekend. We went to Silverlake, where I had never really been before. It's a giant bubble of hipsters so it's excellent people watching. The stores and restaurants are expectedly over priced but it was fun to go walk around. We got lunch at a place called the Casbah Cafe. 


While this sandwich cost entirely too much for bread, cheese, and tomatoes it was delicious.


Alana had to head back to the Central Coast early but Tessa and I continued our adventures. We went back over the hill via Coldwater Canyon and got slightly lost in Beverly Hills on our way to Melrose & Robertson. Not the worst place to be lost, we even managed to find the Spadena House. It looks like it's straight out of Disneyland, just look at some of the detail.










We snuck around the back into the alley way and could just barely see the back of the house. The detail isn't lacking in the more hidden parts of the house, I caught a glimpse of a really amazing balcony off the back. I didn't take any pictures because I was convinced that they had cameras and security guards that would come take us away to some magical Witches House prison for being weird creepy tourists.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dinner Improv

I had some of the ingredients for about five different recipes but no complete recipes so I did a little improvising with dinner tonight.


I made the chicken and sauce from the Sriracha Chicken Lettuce Wraps and made some plain ol' white rice. The result? Chicken Sriracha Bowls.

This batch of chicken came out extra spicy. I think I was a little too heavy handed on the sriracha in the marinade and/or sauce. Lime juice would be an easy fix to tone down the heat, if I had some. Ideally I would have thrown veggies in with this. I didn't have any fresh and the frozen veggies I had would have taken more effort and another dish to wash since I haven't gotten around to getting a microwave yet.

I think I'm going to go to the store tomorrow for some fresh produce so I can make my Mom's Fried Rice tomorrow or Thursday for dinner.

Tip: If you make this chicken with the intent of having leftovers I'd recommend not breading all the chicken pieces. When you refrigerate breaded things they tend to get soggy. Instead take the chicken our of the marinade and just place it on a cookie sheet (as pictured in the original recipe's post) and bake.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Moving!!

I can't believe it but I've already been in Los Angeles for a year and it's time to move. I love my building and my neighborhood but it's just too expensive to stay here. I finally found an apartment to move to, I get the keys tomorrow and have to be out of my current apartment by Monday. Boxes have been purchased and packing has begun.


My kitchen table has been taken over by boxes. I guess we're eating at the coffee table for the rest of the week, until that gets moved too.


Poor little puppy has no idea what is going on. Her bed has been relocated to the middle of the living room. Disregard the incredibly dusty desk in the background, sorry mom!


The catch? I have no idea how to pack properly. I have boxes labeled "desk" and "movies" but then I have one (so far) that just says "random shit." In the past "random shit" boxes have been a frequent occurrence when I'm left to my own packing devices. I have accumulated so much stuff that sometimes boxes just have to be filled with junk. I've lived alone for a year and a half now and somehow have enough stuff to more than fill a one bedroom apartment.



This chart accurately portrays how I feel this morning. I was up, dressed, and filled with a pot of coffee and some raisin bread by 9am. I got a cashiers check, dealt with some apartment stuff, came home and have been packing for a couple hours now. I'm at the successful!! level right now but I'm rapidly declining. 
Also, if you haven't heard of Hyperbole and a Half, go click the link above. She is a hilarious blogger and the specific post I linked describes my life incredibly well.

So in conclusion let's just agree now that the potential lack of posts for the next week or so can be blamed on the dreadful task of moving.