Category Archives: FOOD!

A Cookbook For Those Who Hate To Cook

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sandra lee semi homemade food network

You can find this book on Amazon for under $15. Its a worthwhile investment

One of the best presents Joe ever gave me was a cookbook titled “Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking.” Those of you who know me well are probably thinking “How is that your favorite gift…you hate cooking.” You are correct. But the wonderful thing about this cookbook is that is is made for people who hate cooking but have to do it anyways. You see, as much as I dislike food prep, I don’t want to spend the rest of my eating frozen meals and take out every time Joe has to work a night shift. So, I have to step it up a bit and find a way to make food in the easiest way possible. Enter Sandra Lee.

Now, if you are someone who is totally into organic, super healthy, super fresh, vegan or raw foods, this cookbook is not for you. If you are a total junk food junkie and only like to consume foods with a fat content of at least 50%, this cookbook is not for you either. Also, as you can guess by the title, this book is not for someone who enjoys making up recipes or cooking things from scratch (whenever my husband cooks from this book he changes the recipes and over complicates them. It’s pretty amusing). But if you are, like me, someone who likes everything in moderation, enjoys fresh produce but isn’t afraid of canned goods either, and has no cooking creativity but is just looking to get a good meal on the table, then this cookbook has your name all over it.

There are a variety of recipes in here, everything from breakfast to dessert, kid friendly recipes, slow cooker recipes, soups and salads. Below is a recipe for slow cooker chili that I have made quite a few times and have found it very delicious. Its very easy to make and even easy to shop for…almost everything you need is on the same aisle. It’s a great recipe to make for friends who are sick, just moved in or just had a baby  because its easy to make and transport, and it makes great leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (I always use turkey because it is a little healthier and, in my opinion, doesn’t taste different from beef).
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 can (15 oz) light red kidney beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) butter beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 2 packets chili seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • optional chili fixings- sliced green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream

Instructions

  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef with the onions. Drain fat and add meat to a 4-5 quart slow cooker.
  2. Add light and dark kidney beans, cannellini beans, butter beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, chili seasoning mix and tomato sauce to slow cooker and stir together. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 7-8 hours or on high heat setting for 4 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle into bowls, servie with chili fixings (optional) and cornbread.

Voila! Super easy, super yummy and perfect for the upcoming winter months. Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Tell me all about it!

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The Perfect Breakfast

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Pinterest has introduced me to something amazing: Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie. It’s delicious, filling and very easy to make. I usually can’t eat a lot for breakfast, but if I skip it I always feel tired and blah. This smoothie is just enough to hold me over until lunch but not so much that I feel gross after. Here is the recipe from MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup coconut water (or other liquid, such as juice)

Directions

  1. Place ice and raspberries in the bottom of blender, and all other ingredients on top. Whir until completely smooth. Serve.

Here is a tip. Some people, like my husband, may not like the texture of the oatmeal. It’s a little chewy. However, if you let the smoothie sit in the fridge for an hour or so, the oatmeal will get soft. Also, I use vanilla yogurt instead of plain, it makes it a little sweeter. And lastly, you can use different types of frozen berries. Sprouts has a good mix including strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

OC Restaurant Review: Don Jose’s

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Last night Joe and I had dinner For the first time at Don Jose’s in Tustin. We’ve been meaning to try it for a long time and when we found a coupon, we figured it was the perfect time to go (especially since we didn’t feel like cooking dinner).

Don Jose’s, as you’ve probably guessed, is a Mexican food restaurant. It was only okay. I would compare it to a Mexican Sizzler. They had all the normal faire, enchiladas, tacos, margaritas, etc. Joe had a margarita which was HUGE. It tasted good but only had a bit of tequila in it. I had a chili verde enchilada which was okay, but the rice and beans on the side were gross. They had a weird texture. Joe’s chili relleno, however, was delicious. It was grilled instead of fried so it was a lot lighter and less greasy than others I’ve had. And the homemade tortilla chips and salsa were delicious too!

Like everything else in the restaurant, the service was just okay. The staff was polite, but really really rushed. The restaurant wasn’t very busy so I’m not sure what the big rush was. Plus, the waiter brought Joe the wrong entree the first time. No Bueno!

Overall, not a great experience but not awful either. If friends wanted to go we would oblige, but I don’t think we’ll go there on our own again.

OC Treasure Find: Freesoulcaffe

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coffee shop tustin

white organic peony tea from Freesoulcaffe

The other day I had the privelege of enjoying lunch at an adorable cafe in Old Town Tustin calle FreeSoulCaffe. I had wanted to try it for a long time and when I was forced to wait 4 hours for my car to get fixed, I decided that was a perfect time to try it out.

It is a vegan cafe, which was a bit of a surprise. I’m not vegan, but I love vegetables and appreciate people/restaurants who can cook vegetables in delicious ways. I had a grilled veggie sandwhich on sourdough bread (honestly, you could put just about anything on sourdough bread and I would eat up, but the veggies really were delicious). It came with a side salad of fresh mixed greens, grape tomatoes and THE BEST SALAD DRESSING OF MY LIFE!!! Seriously. It was a mustard vinagerette, very light but full of flavor. That little side salad was one of the best salads I have ever had and even if everything else about that cafe was crappy, which it wasn’t, I would still go back just for that salad.

Along with being a cafe, FreeSoulCaffe is a bakery and a coffee shop. I didn’t try any of their baked goods but they looked amazing. I did try one of their many different types of tea, a white peony tea, and it was really good. I’m a huge fan of floral teas and never add anything to mine, but there was sugar and sweetners available to those who wanted them (no honey though, because of the whole vegan thing.)

Whenever I go out to eat, the atmosphere is just as important to me as the food. Freesoulcaffe has a very laid back, artsy, eclectic atmosphere. There is seating inside and outside. Dogs are welcome to sit with you outside, and can go into the cafe while your ordering. Its storefront faces the street, and I had a great time people watching while I munched.

Freesoulcaffe isn’t cheap, but the prices are reasonable. A half sandwich, side salad and pot of tea was a little over $12. The pot of tea could have easily been shared with another person, so keep that in mind as a cost saver if you go with multiple people. The quality of food and the fun atmosphere made it worth the $12.

Overall, I had a great experience and plan on going back with one of my vegetarian friends. This time I’m going to try one of the baked goods. I wonder what vegan red velvet cake tastes like…

Things That Are Making Me Smile

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1) Dried Mangos. I may have actually found a healthy alternative to satisfy my sweet tooth. I’m usually not a huge fan of fresh mangos, but the dried ones are delicious! They are chewy and sweet, so much so that I can actually convince myself that it’s some sort of candy. I picked some up at Sprouts the other day and ate them all. I definitely have to go back ASAP

2) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I’ve heard all the critiques: “The franchise is burned out. Do we really need ANOTHER pirates movie? Orlando Bloom isn’t even going to be in it, why bother?” Well you know what, I don’t care! It’s an adventure movie with awesome music, mermaids, pirates and Captain Jack Sparrow. That’s enough for me. Admittedly, the fact that neither Orlando Bloom nor Keira Knightly were going to be in it did bum me out, but I saw a 3D preview for the movie at Disneyland and my disappointment is gone. This movie will be epic.

3) Baseball. More specifically, going to Opening Day at Angel’s stadium on Friday!!!! I’ve been an Angel’s fan ever since I was a kid but I have never been to an Opening Day game. As if that isn’t enough, I’m going with my husband and my best friends and I get off work early. WOO HOO!!!!

4) My Film Scores Pandora Station. I’m one of those people that needs almost complete silence when they work. However, complete silence is very boring. I’ve tried tv and music with lyrics, but I always get distracted. So I tried classical, and that was kind of boring. But film scores are perfect! No words, but enough pizzaz to keep things entertaining while I write yet another real estate blog about short sales.

5) Camping. We booked our camping sites and got our vacation time approved. At the end of July we are going to camp in Yosemite!!! We have both lived in California our whole lives and neither my husband nor I have ever been to Yosemite. But we’ve got a 5 day trip planned with some pretty amazing people. I’m excited.

6) The Vietnamese restaurant by my house. There are several Asian restaurants within walking distance of my apartment. I love Asian food, but I always get nervous when it comes to trying unknown restaurants that serve foreign food. My thought process is this: I’m used to American food. I know when a burger or waffles or a bowl of chicken noodle soup tastes funky. But honestly, if an Asian or Mexican or Italian dish was bad, I would probably think it was just some special spice they put in it. I would force myself to eat it because I don’t like wasting money or sending food back. Then I’d be up all night with food poisoning. But on Friday I got the guts to try the Vietnamese restaurant by our house and I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious. So good that I took Joe there on Saturday. I had pan fried rice noodles with chicken. Yummy!

I Need a Corn Dog…NOW!

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So for the past week and a half I’ve been on medication and a pretty bland diet in order to help my ulcer heal. I don’t know if it was the medication or my stomach just shrunk, but I had a significantly reduced appetite. Honestly, I think my body was just saying “it’s not even worth it to eat this bland food. It’s so gross!” That all changed today.

Today started out pretty normal. I had a super busy morning at work during which I managed to eat a rice cake and a bowl of soup(see what I mean about boring?) I picked up Sydney and we got some frozen yogurt (I’ve been trying to avoid dairy but honestly, who can say no to free frozen yogurt?) Then Sydney starts talking about corn dogs. All of the sudden I had the most insane craving for corndogs. I was pretty sure if I didn’t get a corn dog ASAP I was going to die.  All of my diminished appetite for the past 10 days suddenly came roaring back in the form of an insane corn dog craving.

I called my husband, hoping beyond hope that he had not gone to the grocery store yet. He hadn’t, but he said he wasn’t going to go until after his class tonight which ends at 9. WHAT? No way I could wait that long. That was six hours away. I needed corn dogs right then. That crunchy batter and juicy dog dipped in a succulent combination of ketchup and mustard. SO FREAKIN GOOD! I LOVE CORN DOGS!

It seriously took every ounce of adult will power in me not to race over to Wienerschniztel right that second. But since we had already had frozen yogurt, I decided to be a good role model to the little miss and not indulge in fried heaven on a stick. But I kept thinking about them…corn dogs…delicious corn dogs…so crunchy…so full of random reject pig parts…500,000 calories of pure bliss…yummy…

Luckily, my husband knows me well and knew that if I didn’t get some damn corn dogs all hell would break loose(on a side note, this is exactly why my husband is afraid of me getting pregnant. If I’m a psycho who craves random foods now, imagine what I would be like with a child in me? Those will be the worst nine months of that poor man’s life.) He changed his plans and went to the store before class so when I got home, those glorious golden dogs were waiting for me in the freezer. I had three. That’s right, THREE! It. Was. Amazing.

Down for the Calorie Count

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I hate calories. Those little jerks have ruined my life. Every time I go out to eat they are right there on the menu. O, you want that delicious piece of pizza? Well too bad because its 600 calories and that would take you three hours of Wii Fit Super Hula Hooping to burn off. You best go with a salad. But wait, don’t even think about putting delicious bleu cheese dressing on it. That makes it just as fattening as the pizza. You should just eat it dry, with a glass of water, and then go kill yourself.

I never use to have to worry about calories. I used to be a skinny little bitch. And sure, I caused drama and was super stressed all the time and cared alot less about being a decent human being…but dang I looked good! Now that I’m all married and happy with a great desk job and nothing to worry about, I’m plumping up like a turkey near Thanksgiving. And if I hope to maintain even the slightest bit of my rockin pre marriage bod, I’m gonna have to started counting those stupid calories.

You know what I hate most about calories? Well I’ll tell you. They are EVERYWHERE. I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich today and looked at the calorie count for jelly. Do you know how many calories are in a serving of jelly? FIFTY! 5-0. Jelly isn’t even a food, its a condiment and its flooded with an insane amount of calories. Ridiculous.

You know what else I hate about calories? They are insanely hard to burn off. The other day I was doing aerobics on my Wii Fit for half an hour. And I’m not saying I was logged onto the Wii Fit for half an hour but only worked out for 15 minutes…NO…I was running and hula hooping and kickboxing for a full 30 minutes. And that idiotic little balance board pops up and says “Congratulations! You just worked off 100 calories…thats a whole granola bar.” ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME, BALANCE BOARD? THAT’S IT? I can barely breathe, my legs are about to fall off and I can’t lift my arms, and you’re telling me that all I burned off was a snack? A pizza crust has more than 100 calories. This is stupid.

So you know what? I’m just going to forget about calories. I’m gonna eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, drink 8 glasses of water and do some form of enjoyable excercise every day. I’ll also try to cut back on dairy, not because of the calories but because its bad for my cholesterol and my friends are really getting tired of smelling my dairy toots.

SO SUCK IT CALORIES! I’M OVER YOU!