Archive for Cooking and/or Food

Discussions & Concussions

In the last 4 weeks I:

A) really enjoyed Girl Meets Texas

B) somehow managed to make a vegan version of honey walnut shrimp (sorry for the shitty pic, I ate most of it already)

veganhoneyshrimp

C) got to see Finish Ticket finally play a big stage (they totally belong there)

D) witnessed my friend’s wedding proposal

E) slammed my head into the sharp corner of a wooden crate onstage and ended up in the emergency room (around 9:28…although, you’d never know I had gotten a concussion. The show must go on!)

F) spoke my peace at City Hall (I’m around 5:05:00)

And this Saturday, I’m headed to Reno. Can ya guess why? :0)

Clean Eats and Jam Out

Have I ever mentioned how wonderful life is? I keep having these amazing moments in my life and I can’t believe all these things are happening. Thursday was a pretty awesome day. First, I wake up, get on the scale, and find out that I finally moved past the 4 lbs that I’ve been yoyoing up and down all month and get into losing the 5th lb. Second, I get an email saying that my favorite band, Finish Ticket, is coming by my house to drop off a vinyl of their album, Tears Your Apart. My HOUSE!!! WHAT??!!! The part that was really cool was that I got an email asking exactly when I’d be home because they said they wanted to deliver it to me specifically when I was there because I had been such a long time loyal fan. *THUD* Third, I found out that I won tickets to a concert at the Great American Music Hall where Seeking Empire, Happy Fangs and New Diplomat were playing! I had interviewed Seeking Empire and New Diplomat a few years ago for a website I was helping out on and they are just such great bands. Seeing them perform Thursday night and for free topped off my night! And then yesterday morning, I got on the scale and I had lost another 2.2 lbs. Whut whuttttt!!!?!!

Here are some pics from Thursday:

Brendan Hoye & Michael Hoye from Finish Ticket
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They signed the back but they also wrote on the front!
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Seeking Empire
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New Diplomat
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What a wonderful day. Right now, I’m listening to my new record and some other records, drinking water and roasting veggies. And for the first time, I’m actually really excited about them. I’m roasting potatoes, red bell peppers and colorful carrots which I seasoned with avocado oil, olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, rosemary, dill, and himalayan pink salt. Can’t wait to taste it! Ever since I saw that pic with me and Will, I just felt heartbroken. However, from that broken heart, I rose from my ashes and decided that this was going to be the last year that I’m overweight. My imagination of how I want to look standing next to him motivates me to get healthy. I’ve actually been pretending I’m in a weight loss challenge with Will. And of course, it super helps that it seems he’s been trying to get healthy too. He posted that he was doing a juice cleanse and there were pics of him obviously going out running or something. Gawd, I’m just jealous by how much weight he’s lost, but I will get there. I promise. And if I ever do get the chance to stand beside him and take a photo again, I’d better look good. I don’t even actually care what he looks like, he’ll always be a beautiful person to me.

So, the things I’ve been doing lately to get healthy is mainly working out and eating clean. I’ve been cooking a lot more and researching about clean eating. I started cooking without sugar and making foods that are good for me. I have a Filipino vegan chef friend, Astig Vegan, who has made lots of vegan foods for me to taste and because of her, I am no longer disgusted by the sound of something being vegan or vegetarian. Last weekend, she taught me through text messages how to make cashew cheese and it turned out delicious!

Blending the cashews
Cashew Cheese
Forming for culturing
Cashew Cheese2
Delicious with lentil chips
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Also made gluten free, grain free & sugar free brownies. Sooooo goooood!!
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You know, they say…

Motivation1

However, after eating clean for about 3 weeks now, a friend of mine who I see almost every week told me I did look thinner. What?!!! I was shocked. I mean, I did look in the mirror and thought about whether or not there were any changes but I just wasn’t sure since I see myself every day. However, it’s great to know my efforts are actually working. I always used to just give up after 3 weeks because I never felt like anything I was doing would be lasting. Fortunately, I discovered Amelia Freer through Sam Smith’s weight loss story and I’m so grateful! I’m currently reading her book “Eat. Nourish. Glow.” to help me along. I’ve tried low carbs, I’ve tried no carbs, I’ve tried Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach, oh my god. So many phases of hell I’ve put my body through and it finally said to me, “STOP! Just be good to me.”

Amelia Freer writes “Listen to your body. It’s smarter than you.” I completely agree. I’ve actually said these words to friends of mine who were dieting and yet, I never listened to these words myself. I know the body finds ways to tell you what it needs. If your pee is super yellow, it’s telling you you’re not drinking enough water. If you’re craving veggies when you never have before, it’s telling you that it doesn’t have enough nutrients. If you get sleepy in the afternoons, it’s telling you that you’re not getting enough hours of sleep at night or that you’ve had too much sugar. In my previous eating habits, I never listened. I ate based on scent, thoughts, desires, and cost. Today, I eat to nourish my body rather than for convenience. I also cut out a lot of sugar. Amelia says that sugar has been shown in studies to be 8 times more addictive than cocaine!! I did hear that before and I believe it. Whenever a coworker brings sweets to work and I refuse by saying I’m on a diet, their answer is always “Oh please. One is not going to hurt you.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. One WILL hurt you because you’ll get another sugar craving later in the day and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it until you have it and the worst words you can say to yourself on a diet is “I might as well…” No thanks, I’d rather not spiral down that sugar hill, gang. Go on without me.

While typing this, my veggies finished roasting and they smell and taste delicious!
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Yummy yummy yummy. I never thought I would enjoy a grain with just veggies but I do. Yeah, there are potatoes but since everything else is healthy and homemade, I’m gonna say that’s ok. I ate this with some bulgur rather than white rice. Tastes great! I feel so proud of myself today. Anyway, have a great rest of the weekend and may everything good happen to you. I love life!!

Detox Day 3

I had an epiphany today. One of my absolute favorites to eat is scrambled eggs with fuzzy melon. Seeing as I’m allowed eggs, olive oil, brown rice & vegetables, this was the perfect meal for me. I was so excited about it that I dashed home, weaving through rush hour traffic just so I can get to Chinatown in time to buy my fuzzy melon. One small fuzzy melon paired with 6 eggs can created a few meals. My satisfaction after eating my meal was comparable to the satisfaction I get when I buy a dress that was mislabeled as “25% off” and still get the discount. Yes, I know what that feels like.

Breakfast
Gluten-Free Corn Flakes (Nature’s Path)
Rice milk (Rice Dream)

Snack
Banana

Lunch
Baby carrots
Hummus (Trader Joe’s)

Snack
Almonds

Dinner
Scrambled eggs with fuzzy melon
Brown rice

Weight Lost since 4/2/12: 3.8 lbs

Monkees & Food

My weekend in pictures.

Had Ethiopian food at Queen of Sheba in Davis, CA.
Ethiopian Food

Made dim sum with friends

Raw siu mai
Raw siu mai

Shrimp Har Gow
Shrimp Dumplings

BBQ Pork Bun
BBQ Pork Bun

BBQ Pork Bun filling
BBQ Pork Bun inside

Chinese Sausage Bun
Chinese Sausage Bun

Homemade Dim Sum
Homemade Dim Sum

Finally saw The Monkees in concert (minus Mike Nesmith) on their 45th Anniversary Tour at The Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA. They literally Monkee’d around onstage, LOVED it.
The Monkees

The Monkees 2

Me with Peter Tork
Ava & Peter Tork 2011

Me with Davy Jones (My 1st crush!!)
Ava & Davy Jones

Me with Micky Dolenz
Ava & Micky Dolenz

I drew this logo in college, had it pinned to my bulletin board. They signed it. :0)
Monkees Autograph

Davy performing one of my favorites, “I Wanna Be Free”

Life is good and you know it.

Ice Cream Tour

My best friends and I had planned to do an ice cream tour in San Francisco for a day and we finally had it this past Saturday. We didn’t go to as many as we had wanted to but we still had a great time. The places we hit up were Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, Bi-Rite, Three Twins Organic Creamery, and of course, Mitchell’s Ice Cream. No ice cream tour is complete without Mitchell’s. I don’t know what it is about ice cream but it’s the only tour of its kind that is difficult to get sick of. I could go around on a mac n cheese tour but it wouldn’t be the same. Sounds kind of gross, actually…and fattening…and disgusting.

The locations of the ice cream places we went to were all around the Mission/Potrero Hill area so we thought we were avoiding the gay pride traffic. However, we had no idea that the Dyke March was in the same area as Birite so we ended up driving right into it! Haha!
Dyke March at Dolores Park

Luckily, I’m a pretty chill driver so I don’t stress over looking for parking or congested traffic. No road rage here…unless you steal my parking space while I’m trying to park it. Then, I will lose my shit. That really happened to me. Both times, I was in the process of backing into the space and another car came and swooped right into it. I hit the roof. Luckily, I didn’t have any weaponry on me, or eggs. I probably would have slashed some tires or at least egged the car. Oooh, just thinking about it getting me all riled up.

Next topic: pictures. Here are some photos of me enjoying my ice cream tour.

Mascarpone @ Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous
mascarpone ice cream at mr. & mrs. miscellaneous

Balsamic Strawberry & Ricanelas (snickerdoodles & cinnamon) @ Bi-Rite
balsamic strawberry & ricanelas ice cream at Birite

Salted Nuts @ Three Twins
salted nuts ice cream at Three Twins

Mango @ Mitchell’s
mango ice cream at Mitchell's

Oh yes, and I fit in some soul food from Front Porch.
soul food at Front Porch

The foodie in me is never at rest.

Food, Film & Fab

Well this weekend will be filled with food for me so diet is temporarily going out the window. Last night, I went to Station Cafe, and this weekend, I will be making pot stickers, lumpia, and chow fun with friends, going to The Boiling Crab, and also checkin’ out The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma. Food, food & more food! Oh geezus.

However, what I’m really excited about is going to the Sonoma International Film Festival where I’ll finally get to see The Dungeon Master, a short film made by Shiloh & Rider Strong! I love the geek-friendly premise of the film and I’m excited to see them in person. What I love most about the premise is that they delve into an area of adulthood that is often considered an embarrassment or immature. I read that Rider was quite the expert on Dungeons & Dragons in his youth. It must be so nostalgic for him to revisit & intensify a childhood game like this; coming full circle. I can’t wait to do the same with my own short film; with a different theme, of course. My obsessions are so ridiculous, they’ll have to get expressed one way or another. It might as well be in film, shown to the public! I’ll bet there are others out there with the same obsessions and it’s up to me to find them. Thanks for inspiring my journey, guys. This is going to be a fabulous weekend.

Ava’s Lazy Lasagna

I hate that recipes are so “exact.” I’m not that “exact” of a person, I’m more of a “just enough” person when it comes to cooking. So I just wanted to record a baked pasta dish that I sometimes make and I really love it. It’s kinda like lasagna except I don’t use lasagna sheets. Cooking is so fun for me! I don’t go by measurements so I’m going to eyeball it and make educated guesses. Recipe is for serving about 6-8 people or as a potluck sized dish. I like to listen to music while I cook so that I can dance crazy or sing badly at the same time. Preferably Lady Gaga, Green Day, 100 Monkeys, or Thomas Ian Nicholas Band.

Equipment:
a 9×13 baking pan
a medium mixing bowl
rubber spatula
a large saucepan or a wok

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried penne (or any similar shape)
1 lb. ground turkey (any meat is good)
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tblsp sugar
2 Tblsp light soy sauce
3 Tblsp olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups plain tomato sauce (or marinara works too but no pre-made spaghetti sauce)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tblsp light soy sauce
2 Tblsp sugar
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Optional:
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup carrots, finely diced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Boil pasta per box instructions.
3. Place turkey, cornstarch, sugar and soy sauce in mixing bowl, . Mix well & set aside.
4. Turn pan on medium high heat and add oil.
5. Saute onions until slightly soft. If you are using celery & carrots, add with onions and saute until carrots are al dente.
6. Add garlic & saute for a few more minutes or until onions are translucent.
7. Add meat. Use spatula to scrap every last bit of it. Fry until meat is cooked through. (No pink!)
8. Reserve 1/2 cup of tomato sauce & set aside.
9. Add 3 cups of tomate sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, sugar to pan and stir for about 5 minutes.
10. Add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Turn off heat.
11. Spread the reserved 1/2 cup of tomato suace on bottom of baking dish.
12. Begin layering of pasta, meat sauce, sour cream, cheddar cheese. Amounts do not have to be a full layer.
13. Repeat until you reach top of pan.
14. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese.
15. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted to your liking.
16. Remove from oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
17. Enjoy with a good salad, good friends and a great appetite!

Make sauce, not love.

Mmmmm….cheesy.

Layering pasta just tastes better than mixing it all together.

Tastes good cold too. :0)

Good Food, Good Times

A drive for 2.5 hours in the pouring rain to get to a 1.5 hour dinner at a French restaurant has got to be worth it to make the trip. La Gare was cozy, the service was friendly, and the food was delicious. Although I went to get the $29 prix-fixe menu that was available for Sonoma County Restaurant week, I actually ended up ordering from their regular menu and have no regrets.

I got the Beef Wellington! I’ve always wanted to try this dish ever since I first heard Julia Child mouth these words and it made me curious. I don’t know, I have this weird fascination with wanting to eat foods I see on TV shows/movies. Not really on cooking shows but actual sitcoms or movies on TV or theaters. Because of this fascination, I’ve tried countless items including Peanut Butter with Marshmallow sandwiches (Who’s the Boss?), Bananas in Milk (Sesame Street), Boeuf Bourguignon (Julie & Julia), and Braciole (Everybody Loves Raymond).

I have a love/hate relationship with food. However, I love it more than I hate it, which is why I had a blast last night even though A) the torrential rain I drove through tried to kill me, B) the food is everything that is against my diet, and C) I was wearing heels that were bound to cause a fall in the soaking wet environment I was wallowing in. No mother nature bitch fit was going to stop me from having a good meal. There is just something about food that brings people together at any gathering. It can act as a matchmaker, an educational tool, a definition of oneself, a form of entertainment, or even a form of torture depending on how you look at it.

One equation I’ve always gone by: Good food + good company = a great time. Here are some pics of our meals:

Pea soup – perfect size, won’t fill you up

Butter Lettuce Salad – my favorite lettuce of all time, like velvet on your tongue

Beef Wellington – with pate & ham, carrots, green beans, & country potatoes

Fettuccine Alfredo – made with the most pungent of french cheeses. The French are famous for cheese, you know. ;0)

Coq Au Vin – Chicken in red wine with mushrooms, rice & veggies. Very tender meat.

Chocolate Caramel Dome – This was delicious. Chocolate sponge cake with caramel & chocolate mousse, creme brulee, coated in chocolate ganache, sitting in a pool of raspberry sauce & creme anglaise. Oooh, did you get goosebumps?

Sonoma County Restaurant Week

It’s Sonoma County Restaurant Week! They have 3 different prix fixe menus at $19, $29 or $39, with each restaurant offering their choice of price & menu and it ends on Monday 2/28 so you’d better hurry! I never knew there existed something like this outside of San Francisco; very similar to Dine About Town.

Every year, San Francisco restaurants participate in Dine About Town to get people to come try their food at a low cost, just to get patrons in the door. I believe it began as an upscale restaurant response to the recession 10 years ago. It is organized by the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. For Dine About Town, lunch is a 2 course meal at $17.95 or you can do a 3 course dinner at $34.95. The link for Dine About Town won’t work right now since it has passed but not to worry, Dine About Town should return in June as it used to be a month long event once a year but they have since divided it to be twice a year at a length of 2 weeks each time in January and June. I enjoyed Ruth’s Chris Steak House last month and it was delicious! I did not end up ordering from the Dine About Town menu because they had their own prix fixe menus to choose from that were sounded just as tempting.

It’s nice to know other counties are doing the same. Through Dine About Town, I’ve been given the chance to try places like Mecca (closed), House, Ana Mandara, Chouquet’s, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, Waterfront, Lark Creek Steak, and countless others I can’t remember off the top of my head right now. Ana Mandara is by far, my favorite. It’s so gorgeous inside, absolutely breathtaking. I’ll be fine dining at La Gare tonight. I don’t know what it is about fine dining that makes you feel a little more joyful, giving you an extra pep to your step. Doesn’t really matter what I’m even eating, just serve the betch! Hopefully, I won’t come crashing down on my heels.

Ava’s Mac N Cheesy

So…I decided to make my own macaroni & cheese for Thanksgiving. I’ve never made it before but it turned out great!! So I decided to post the recipe so that I can always refer to it if I ever need to.

Ava’s Mac N Cheesy

16 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
1 T dried oregano
3 T salt
1 1/2 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (Bought at Safeway)
8 oz. light blend of monterey jack, cheddar, & mozzarella cheese, grated (Bought at Trader Joe’s)
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup 2% reduced fat milk
Salt & pepper to taste
1 c frozen peas (optional)
Extra cheddar cheese, grated, for topping

Potato Topping (optional)
3 cups seasoned tater tots, thawed & crumbled (Bought them at Safeway)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta, per package instructions. Before adding macaroni, sprinkle salt & oregano to water at boiling point.
3. Drain pasta and transfer to a nonstick pot big enough to stir around the pasta with the cheese.
4. Add cheddar cheese, blended cheese, sour cream & cottage cheese.
5. Mix in pot until cheese melts, add milk. Add peas (optional).
6. Add salt & pepper to taste.
7. Transfer macaroni & cheese to a 9 x 13 x 2 in baking dish, non-stick preferred.
8. Even out top of macaroni.
9. Sprinkle extra cheese on top & bake until cheese melts, approximately 20 minutes.
10. If adding in Potato Topping, mix together crumbled tater tots with melted butter & grated parmigiano reggiano.
11. Sprinkle on top evenly & bake until tater tots are browned, approximately 20 minutes.
12. Pop in a New Kids on the Block DVD and enjoy with mac n cheese, they go best together. :0)

I have to say, these measurements are just an educated guess for me. I keep tasting the food as I go along to see if I need more flavor or not. I guess this is more of a guide than a recipe then. Either way, good luck! Please comment if you have made it or have made something similar, I’d love to hear about it! :0)

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