February 2011


I’ve posted about these vegetarian enchiladas before but since I now make them all the time, I thought I’d post a full step-by-step recipe. I’ve made many new meals in my effort to cook more, but a lot of them have been just okay. Most, I probably wouldn’t make again. There have been a few keepers though — like this one. I got the original idea from Kath Eats but at this point, I’m making these for dinner nearly every week and I’ve adapted the recipe to become my own!

To start, you’ll need a can of black beans, green chiles, a large sweet potato (or yam), cayenne pepper, cinnamon, chili garlic sauce, salsa verde, and regular red salsa.

Drain and rinse the black beans, then add the green chiles, chili garlic sauce (I use at least a tablespoon), a few dashes of cinnamon and cayenne pepper to taste. In other words, either add a ton of cayenne if you like spicy foods, or just a little if you’d prefer mild.

Mix well!

You also need cheese and tortillas of course. I recommend La Tortilla Factory brand tortillas, especially the low-carb, whole wheat ones. At only 50 calories a pop, they taste delicious and definitely beat every other brand clocking in at 120/140 calories per tortilla. As for the cheese, I love jalapeño Monterey Jack the best.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pop your sweet potato in the microwave until it’s soft enough to mash with a fork (5 to 7 minutes). Cover the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish with salsa verde.

Grate 4 oz. of cheese. Please don’t use pre shredded…this tastes so much better! With cheese, you definitely get more bang by spending bigger bucks.

Add your sweet potato to the black beans and mash everything together until well-mixed. You don’t need any fancy tools here; a fork will work just fine.

Fill each tortilla with the black bean and sweet potato mixture. You should be able to get 8 total. These enchiladas make great leftovers, so don’t worry about making too many even if you are only cooking for two.

Roll each tightly and place side-by-side.

Top with lots of salsa and sprinkle the cheese evenly. If you want, you can make your enchiladas “Christmas-style” and use red salsa as well. I like all green myself, but made this pan half and half.

Bake for 25 minutes and serve topped with cilantro. Have’a Chips work best on the side. They’re perfect for scooping up delicious cheesy bites!

Go ahead and drool! Then I suggest making them immediately.

Growing up, birthdays always warranted a big celebration. I’ve never been able to shake the tradition, but unlike my mom, I often leave the planning to the last minute. This year, I attempted to reserve a table at a wine bar down the street but called a week too late. Luckily, I was able to score an alcove at Copa d’Oro, just 3.5 blocks from my apartment. Even better, all of my nearest and dearest LA friends came out to party.

The boy went out in the rain to pick up dinner, while Rachel, Julia and I got ready with a glass of wine, fake lashes and curling irons. We got to the bar 20 minutes late but were the first of the group to arrive, so I’ll consider that a success!

Copa d’Oro makes drinks with really fresh and interesting ingredients, and I was completely obsessed with the rum and jalapeño concoction I ordered. Called King de Bahia, the drink also had elderflower liqueur and passionfruit. It was sweet and spicy at the same time and perfect for sipping. Of course, it didn’t taste booze-y but the jalapeño kept me from drinking these like water.

Becky finagled her flight from NYC so she could make it in time. She and Katie Jo arrived with Mandy, Angie and Dani in tow!

Steph and her boyfriend made the trek down from Loma Linda and crashed with Lindsay so they wouldn’t have to drive back late at night. I haven’t seen Stephanie much since she moved and I’ve missed her sweet face!

Lindsay brought 24 mini cupcakes from Vanilla Bake Shop. They were super moist and delicious…although my favorite part was the icing!

Even though there is a DJ on the weekends, the bar isn’t typically a dance spot. I don’t know who passed along the memo that it was my birthday, but the music was 100% dance music for most of the night, and since we had our own little section, there was even room to move. My favorite was probably Fat Joe’s “Lean Back,” where I got sandwiched in the middle of the circle. From the looks on our faces, you can tell we thought this was wildly entertaining.

Not one to miss a birthday night out, my former coworker made an appearance after he got off work, and Winston and Chase came by after celebrating not one but two birthdays at parties just before mine. Yup, they’re impressive!

We rounded out the night at Swingers, with six of us making it to last call. Well, the six of us were able to walk to the bar, diner, and straight into our beds, so that might have been a big factor. Swingers is a funky diner in Santa Monica; there is a Norm’s and a Denny’s (all-night breakfast spots) only one block away, yet Swingers always has a wait. It’s just 8 million times better!

I mean, you can’t get Tazo tea and avocado toast at 3AM just anywhere, you know?

Of course, if you want french toast, grilled cheese or french fries, you can certainly get those too! No chicken fingers though…isn’t that strange? If you’d like a turkey burger, ahi sandwich, or tofu sauté though, you’re in luck.

I love how there’s something about birthdays that just brings everyone together. This year, I was reminded that I’m so lucky to have an amazing boyfriend who will babysit my new camera and take 200+ photos to boot.

And I’m lucky 10 times over to have such wonderful girlfriends, my sister included, who will make sure my birthday is extra special.

Also, I love that no one bat an eye at my tiara. Or at the fact that I bought a back up tiara. What can I say? I was born this way!

I woke up yesterday to birthday wishes and some perfectly selected presents. From Rachel and my mom, I got a new camera! It’s a real beauty and the photo quality is amazing. Rachel knew I would never get one for myself; I have been wanting a nice camera for a long time but felt like the purchase was too expensive without enough justification. Already I can tell that I won’t have to struggle to take good food pictures easily. The boy was in on the secret and got me another lens designed specifically for taking shallow depth in low light, which sums up the lighting situation in most restaurants. We took the camera to Huckleberry for a test run, and she passed with flying colors.

We lucked out with a short wait and a table near the front windows. Huckleberry is just the cutest place, with lots of light and small touches, like bright paint, big chalkboards with the menus, and fresh flowers on the tables.

Coffee for me, latte for the boy.

I was so tempted by the egg/greens/pesto dish again, but I decided on tomato, soft baked eggs and white beans instead. I didn’t realize the meal came with bread but it was the perfect addition. The tomato sauce was slightly sweet, which tasted really good with the other savory elements.

I also ordered a homemade english muffin with jam on the side. After eating this last time, I knew I would have to get it again!

The boy got a maple bacon scone, which was as amazing as it sounds.

He also ordered the fried egg sandwich. I gave it a test bite, but I liked my sweet tomato sauce and beans much better!

We managed to do a decent amount of damage.

The camera was a big conversation piece! The couple at the table next to us asked about the model and I had to confess that I had only received it 30 minutes before. I thought it might be awkward to use since it’s much larger than my point-and-shoot but it was actually less so. Having something so hefty in my hands made me feel more like a legitimate photographer, if that makes sense!

We lucked out with a short wait and table by the window, but decided that next time we’d just get pastries and lattes, since the maple bacon scone and english muffin were our two favorites. Their chocolate croissants just scream “dip me in coffee!”

The sunny morning didn’t last and by the time we made it out to the Malibu pier for more photos, the rain had started. Don’t worry, that didn’t stop us from snapping away! I’ll be back later with more pictures and a recap of last night’s drinking and dancing (and tiara-wearing) at Copa d’Oro. When the night ends at Swingers (a diner, what did you think?), you know it’s been a good one. Oh, how I love birthdays!

I’ve been inundated with fashion lately, making me stop and take note of quite a few interesting trends for spring. You’ll be en vogue wearing neutrals and whites or brights and color blocking. Both minimalism and maximization are “in.” That’s only a little confusing, right? Menswear, lace, denim and the 70s are all over the style pages this season. There’s one look though that makes me supremely happy and that’s florals.

Of course I might not be able to afford designer frocks like this sweet D&G dress, but there are plenty of stores rolling out the garden party look for spring. I’ve already started the search for sneaker-style flats.

American Eagle, $25

Forever 21, $11

I’ve also been trying on dresses and searching for a cute pair of botanical shorts. I’m even eyeing an adorable pair of white flower sunglasses…that are less than 20 bucks. I’m debating whether or not it will be weird to buy them, since I already have a springtime pair with purple and pink flowers.

And ones that I declared to be my “winter pair” because they are black.

I swear they actually look different!

What’s your favorite trend for spring? I’m also thinking about adopting maxi dresses and full skirts this year…being comfortable and stylish is a double win!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Err, only a little late.

The boy teased me all weekend about how much I love this holiday, but I think I really just get very excited over special occasions. And, I love love. Family love, friend love, boyfriend love, pet love…I get the warm fuzzies just thinking about it all.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? That must have been what I was thinking when I decided to make the boy’s favorite meal Sunday night: beef wellington. I personally have never heard of this dish, let alone tasted it, but I was sold at the word “puff pastry.” Thanks to a fabulous tutorial, I felt quite prepared, but apparently I’m not that skilled at cooking beef and my medium-rare meat turned into well-done before my very eyes.

Luckily I hit a home run with my dessert, individual flourless chocolate cakes. I bought some 3.5 oz. ramekins at World Market a while back, but hadn’t used them yet. At first glance I thought they’d be too small, but the size was perfect.

Also, it’s easy!

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, beat 3 egg whites on high speed. As they thicken, slowly add 1/4 cup sugar, bit by bit. Separately, melt 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 2.5 tbsp. butter until smooth. Add 3 egg yolks to chocolate/butter mixture. Fold chocolate into whipped egg whites and sugar. You want to combine thoroughly, but avoid stirring.

Pour into 4 buttered 3.5 oz. ramekins. Place dishes on a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Only 4 ingredients and pretty darn awesome.

One of the nice things about meeting up with fellow bloggers is the chance to go out for a good meal. Sometimes you might score some homemade cookies. If you happen to grab a bite to eat with Ameena, you might be lucky enough to get something purple and sparkly.

You may have read about her lovely mother-in-law before but I got to experience her (and Ameena’s!) generosity firsthand. I can’t wait to put this little jewelry box to use!

Oh, you also might spot P. Diddy at the table nearby!

Along with my two lunches at Houston’s this week, I ate a lot of good leftovers. Lately, I’ve been cooking extra food at dinner so I have more than peanut butter or soup for the next day. Thanks to this plan, I’ve completely stopped eating Lean Cuisines in favor of homemade meals. I’m loving it! In an effort to use my rainbow chard from the other weekend, I sautéed some with garlic and added tomato sauce, artichokes and potato gnocchi. It was surprisingly delicious!

I also got to repeat a dinner from Tuesday that tasted JUST like Thanksgiving. My new work acquisition, a cookbook called “Power Foods” from the editors of Whole Living magazine, has a ton of great recipes. The one for “farro and mushroom dressing” immediately caught my eye. I switched it up a bit based on the ingredients I had on-hand and ended up with a mix of pearl barley, cremini mushrooms, shallots, celery, chicken sausage, white wine and sage. I’ve never cooked with barley before and I loved the texture and chewy crunch.

Another favorite this week was the slab of chocolate I got from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s program and Pure Dark. The past few days have been LONG. Between fashion week, drafting last minute press materials, the upcoming launch of a client’s website, and fashion week (yes, again. How can something be simultaneously very cool and the bane of my existence?!) – I’ve really been grateful for a nice piece of chocolate in the afternoon.

Fashion Week has kind of taken over my mind, so I’m very excited that Friday is almost here and that the weekend is jam packed with lots of fun things. Right now, I’m fighting to stay awake through Thursday night TV and crossing my fingers that I have an “easy” day tomorrow!

Superbowl Sunday started off with a walk to the Farmers’ Market and the best intentions to go to a party in the Hollywood hills. Instead, the boy and I hit the ocean and went surfing. I stood up on a wave for the very first time! Well, I did get a little starting push but who cares? I was standing!

After surfing, we turned on the game and made “football” food. Of course, we had chips and guacamole to start. It’s a California must; avocados are literally 45 cents this week! The boy has his own special recipe, adding onion, garlic, green pepper, jalapeño, chili garlic sauce, and salsa to mashed avocado. It’s frighteningly delicious :)

I also made mini sliders with extra lean Niman Ranch beef, jalapeño, and onion. I was hoping for sourdough rolls but the Kaiser buns toasted up nicely and tasted pretty good. I had one burger topped with ketchup and pineapple and the other with a piece of kale. The boy got a slider press pan for Christmas and it worked like a charm. These were so quick and easy to make, they’d be great for a group of people with a toppings bar even. Hmm…future cookout idea maybe?!

Enjoyed with un-pictured homemade sweet potato fries on the side! We did skip out on the game for a bit to watch the sunset.

I love when you can see the sun and the moon at the same time.

Now we’re watching Toddlers & Tiaras. Not even a new episode but a marathon of reruns. I know, so embarrassing but I not-so-secretly love it!

I honestly don’t mind being boring – when it comes to breakfast! I look forward to my daily bowl of cocoa oats w/banana, eaten while checking emails or reading blogs. This week, however, I had the rare chance to get some early eats with the lovely Julia at Huckleberry.

I’ve actually attempted to dine here a few times before, but the line out the door managed to dissuade me every time. Luckily, even though the place was relatively crowded, there was no wait and an open seat – perfect! We started with coffee…added skim milk and Splenda to mine. Julia is fierce and drinks hers black.

Normally I’m never in the mood to order eggs but I changed my mind for poached eggs over fresh market vegetables with pesto, toasted bread crumbs.

Both the pesto and the greens were TDF. The shelled peas were especially delicious and got me so excited for the start of springtime veggie season.

I was THIS close to ordering a maple scone but I couldn’t resist the homemade english muffins with jam. They just looked so warm and doughy (when combined, these two words always lead to something delicious!). Their taste, covered with dark berry jam, has probably crossed my mind twice a day since eating them. Now that’s a meal worth skipping oatmeal!

Of course, Julia couldn’t let me monopolize all the good food, so she ordered the fried egg sandwich with sunny side up eggs, niman ranch bacon, gruyere, arugula, & aioli on country bread.

Well played Julia. I think we should go back to Huckleberry for a rematch. Or just another english muffin, your call!

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