Black Bean Chili

This winter has been especially cold and rainy. During times like these, I gravitate towards noodle soups or just soups in general, stews, and chilis. You know, the comforting stuff! I found this particular recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, which is extra points in my book. Yummy AND “light”? YAAAAAAS.

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I made some tweaks to the recipe, but nothing substantial. I like my chili thicker so I eliminated the water. Also swapped one can of black beans for one can of diced tomatoes because tomatoes > beans. I mean, I know this is called black bean chili, but come on, FOUR cans of black beans?! WHY?

Oh, and a word of caution… When I first made this chili, I interpreted “3 canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce” as 3 cans of chipotle chilis instead of 3 chipotle chilis. Oops. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. I love spicy foods but that was almost unbearable! I use 1 can now ūüėä

2016

2016 was a roller coaster. There were many highs (my promotion) and just as many lows (my toxic relationship with T). But overall, it was a good year. A year of growth, personally and professionally. Before I welcome 2017, let me reflect on all that happened in 2016…

I furnished my place…

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I received two awards at work: employee of the quarter and team of the quarter. Also got promoted! ūüíĶ ūüėĀ

I traveled to…

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I completed some amazing hikes…

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I cooked up some new recipes and made some oldies but goodies…

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Looking back, I really can’t complain. It’s been a good year and I look forward to even bigger and better things in 2017. Bring it on beeeeetches!

xoxo, kc

Pho Is Life

For as much Vietnamese food I consume, I must have been Vietnamese in my past life.

When I was with H, we ate pho almost every weekend.

T, who is Vietnamese, expanded my Vietnamese food horizons. Thanks to his sister, I was lucky enough to have home cooked Vietnamese food basically everyday. And family events on the weekend? Food. Heaven.

Now, with CT, my Vietnamese food cravings are as strong as ever. And though he’s very supportive, it’s usually just me in SD, so it’s up to me to satisfy my own cravings.

So what’s a girl to do? Make her own pho of course. In her¬†instant pot.

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Tadaaaa

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Yaaaaaas. Happy tummy.

Double Fakeout

Ever since I broke out my vegetable spiraler, I’ve been kind of obsessed with zoodles. I’ve made it for lunch numerous times, all with red meat sauce. Buuuttt, I’m really not supposed to have tomato based sauces since, ya know, that acid reflux thing. I’d like to say I’m a “fuck it, I do what I want” kind of person, but in this case, heartburn is a real bitch and something I’d like to not experience frequently. So, of course I was super excited to find a healthy recipe on Instagram that would allow me to have my beloved zoodles without the burn!

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Creamy Chicken Zoodles

The sauce is just mashed avocado mixed with almond milk and pinch of salt and pepper. If you wanna kick things up a notch, add red pepper flakes and Sriracha.

Banana Pancakes

In my almost 30 years of existence, I’ve only made pancakes twice. The first was for an ex, who I was trying to surprise with breakfast in bed. I forgot the occasion (valentine’s birthiversary or whatever), but it doesn’t matter because the pancakes were terrible. Just God awful. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly rush to try again.

As I browsed the internet for breakfast recipes last week, I came across a recipe for flourless pancakes. And the best part? Only 2 ingredients: eggs and a banana! Sold!

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My 2nd attempt…TADAAAAA!

Ok, so I did tweak the recipe a bit. I added powdered peanut butter and ground cinnamon into the “batter” and then opted to smear TJ Speculoos & Cocoa Swirl instead of light butter. Can’t make it too healthy, ya know?

Tupperware Tuesday: Not Just Lunch

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


OK, I know. Bringing breakfast, lunch, and dinner? I should just blow up an air mattress and sleep here! Seriously.

Last week, I attempted to do Whole 30, but failed miserably due to poor planning. When you’ve lived your whole life in non-compliance, it’s hard to turn that around in one day. But that’s my problem, I guess. I commit to things too easily and without much thought.

So instead of Whole 30, I browsed the internet for Paleo-friendly meals…

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Breakfast: Sweet Potato, Apple and Pancetta Bacon Hash (Whole 30 approved!)

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Lunch: Zoodles with Meatballs

I finally broke out my Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer. Yes, it’s been 10 months… This baby is seriously the best thing EVER! SO easy to use. SO easy to clean. And the best part is, I don’t even miss REAL pasta!

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Dinner: Pork Loin and Butternut Squash Stew

OK, I know the stew looks like shit, but let me assure you, it is delicious! And it tasted better the next day after reheating. This pretty much applies to all stews. It’s basically science (and good eats!). Alton Brown said so.

Another Try

I don’t consider myself a picky eater, but there are certain foods I will not eat.

Celery. Cilantro. Peas.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

And for the longest time, avocados were the list. Why? I’m really not sure. I just… didn’t like them!

Call it a maturing palate, reevaluation of life, whatever, but in this past year, I seem to have forgotten my dislike of avocados. I ordered a salad with avocado. Not bad. I ate poke with avocado. Pretty good. Now I’m adding avocados to breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Love!

Unlike celery and cilantro, avocados don’t have a strong flavor; they won’t overpower a dish, ever. The creamy texture provides a richness that is a perfect substitute for butter and mayo. I guess you can say the same for peas, but I’m not ready for that yet. Baby steps…

2014-07-12 12.27.34 1My usual Saturday mornings… avocado toast, Stumptown cold coffee brew, and reading

Back in the Kitchen

Since I’m not driving to LA every weekend, I have time to cook. Like real food, guys!

I’m still cooking for the week, but it’s so much easier now cooking for one instead of two. And THANK GOD for the dishwasher! The one downside is my tiny kitchen, but hey, I’m used to having no counter space.

Here are some meals I’ve made in the past few weeks:

2014-06-24_05-05-04Chicken Marsala

2014-06-24_05-15-01Enchilada Chicken Stew

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And here’s me trying to get fancy…

2014-06-24_05-28-12Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Polenta, Nectarines, Collard Greens, Balsamic Reduction

This dish was inspired by a friend from college who is actually a chef, unlike myself. She posted a picture and I thought it would be easy to recreate… well, easier than anything else she has posted. I’m sure mine didn’t taste nearly as good as hers, but good job, good effort right???

Tupperware Tuesday: Stir-Fried Lemongrass Chicken

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2013.

I substituted chicken breast for chicken thighs since I’m really not a big fan of dark meat. I don’t mind it so much if it was fried, but then again, practically anything is good fried! This was the first recipe I made with lemongrass that didn’t involve broth. I was kind of clueless about what to do with the lemongrass, but that’s what YouTube is for! amiright???

Unless you want a big block of rice noodles in your tupperware, I would recommend vermicelli noodles. However, if you’re making this recipe for dinner then I would serve with thicker noodles.

Tupperware Tuesday: Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2013.

I found this recipe in the January 2013 issue and I’ve already made it a several times! A couple times as lettuce wraps (using Boston Bibb) and a couple times, as pictured above, mixed with quinoa. Both lettuce and quinoa provide a nice contrast in texture and a balance to the flavorful ground chicken and bell peppers. And while lettuce is great when I want to go low carb, I seriously love me some quinoa. I really don’t understand why Henry doesn’t like it. Quinoa is the best thing ever! I think I appreciate it more because it’s not as heavy as say, brown rice, and more importantly, doesn’t give me heartburn.

Tupperware Tuesday: Maple & Soy-Glazed Steak

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2010.

I made the steak pretty much as directed except I used tri-tip, which was on sale at Fresh & Easy, and significantly increased the amount of Sriracha. I also made extra marinade to toss with whole wheat thin spaghetti. Since I had left over baby spinach, I sandwiched leaves between the steak and spaghetti, drizzling extra sauce over to finish. The heat from the microwave wilted the spinach just enough to take away the raw taste.

I loved the sauce. I definitely saved this recipe just for the sauce.

I make: Sole Meuni√®re

I’ve been meaning to spend my $20 gift card to Target that I received as a Christmas gift, but there was never anything that sparked my interest… until last weekend. As I was browsing through the book section, I came across Ina Garten’s Back to Basics cookbook. When I first started watching food network in college, I wasn’t really a fan of Ina’s. I think this was mostly because I wasn’t quite ready for her more mature style of cooking; I was still stuck in a phase where a meal was predicated on convenience. Being a poor college student, ramen noodles and boxed “one-meal” dinners were staples in my pantry. Fast forward six years and I now have the opportunity to splurge on quality ingredients/cookware and as time has passed, my tastes have changed and my cooking style has progressed. Now I can fully appreciate Ina’s culinary expertise and I’m really excited to try every recipe in her cookbook!

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For my first recipe, I chose sole meuni√®re because I happened to have a few fillets of dover sole in the ‘fridge. All of the other ingredients (flour, butter, lemon, parsley) are staples in my kitchen and I’m sure they’re also stocked in yours.

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Simple ingredients, quick preparation and cook time, absolutely delicious. This has now become my go-to dish when I’m in a pinch for time. Lemon + butter = LOVE.

Bon appetit!

Changing Priorities

I’ve canceled my subscriptions for Us Weekly and InStyle in favor of Cooking Light. Yes, you read correctly: Cooking Light. My last few purchases have been an All-Clad 12 inch fry pan, a Wusthof Classic 8 inch hollow-ground chef’s knife and a Wusthof honing steel. I stress not about my outfits for the week, but about my meals for the week. At this point in my life, I feel like I live and breathe food.

My love for food and cooking has evolved from calling 2 packets of beef flavored ramen a meal in college to creating and executing a 5 course meal this past Valentine’s Day. I’ve come a long way, to say the least.

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9,600 ft.

Even though Mammoth is always awesome, I’ve always wanted to go snowboarding outside of California (Nevada side of Tahoe doesn’t really count). So, when Southwest Airlines launched their $30, $60, $90 promotion last year, Henry and I jumped at the opportunity and booked a trip to Colorado instantly. Round trip ticket for $120? SCORE! After much deliberation, we decided to forgo the big pricey resorts like Aspen/Snowmass and Vail for Breckenridge. This decision was based¬†partially on the outrageous cost of an SUV rental: $600. To save about $300, we used the Colorado Mountain Express (CME) shuttle service to get to and from Denver International Airport (DIA). This meant that we relied solely on public transportation while in Breckenridge, which was fine since Breck’s “Free Shuttle” system was easy enough to navigate and very efficient. However, when you have 10 bags of groceries and a 24 pack of water to carry, not having your car can be quite a hindrance. We made our grocery trip work by taking a rolling luggage with us!

We stayed at Pine Ridge Condominiums (#6B), located right on the Four O’Clock run. The condo itself was better than I expected – we had stainless steel¬†cookware and a great knife. It really is¬†the little things in life that matter! ūüėõ¬†We had two options, book through Expedia or book directly through the condo website. The condo website provided a rating system from silver to platinum to help guests gauge the¬†general condition¬†of the condo. Compared to Expedia, the equivalent condo in price booked through the condo website would have been a “silver” – no renovations within the last 5 years. We weren’t thrilled with the few options that¬†we had on the condo website so¬†we decided to take our chances and book through Expedia, especially since it was actually slightly cheaper to do so. By booking through Expedia, the worse case scenario would have been getting the exact condo¬†we expected, but at a cheaper price. Taking our chances paid off because we¬†ended up¬†in a condo that was considered “gold”, which would cost $300 more if¬†we booked through the website!

Poor lighting, I know.

The town of Breckenridge sits at 9,600 ft. above sea level. At high altitudes, reduced air pressure and lower oxygen concentration decreases the amount of oxygen that enters your bloodstream which, for some people, causes the onset of altitude sickness. The day we arrived in Breckenridge, Henry was already experiencing a few telltale symptoms. I didn’t have any symptoms¬†so I thought I was in the clear for the whole trip. Boy, was I wrong. I totally forgot that all the literature I read up about altitude sickness stated that symptoms were usually worse the 2nd day at higher altitude. And like clockwork, we woke up the next morning with pounding headaches and shortness of breath. Henry also had some nausea and light-headedness. We had planned to start our day early and head up to the mountain at 9:30am, but we didn’t get out of bed until 10am because we felt like shit. To save that day from being a complete waste, we decided to go to Keystone for their “twilight” boarding (2pm-close/8pm). Keystone/Arapahoe¬†Basin¬†is about a 20 min bus ride (take the Swan Mountain Flyer/black line) from Breckenridge. Even though only the front side of the mountain stays open for night boarding (starting from 4pm), the runs were great.. and long! I didn’t get bored from the green and blue runs as I had expected. It was actually perfect since I was able to challenge myself to go faster.

I love feeling like I’m the only one on the mountain!

A huge part of our trip, as with all¬†snowboarding trips,¬†was cooking our meals, which explains why we had 10 bags of groceries. We do this because: 1) we love to cook, 2) it saves money, 3) it’s much healthier than eating hamburgers/hotdogs on the mountain. Our favorite meals were the cheesesteaks that we made for lunch, parmesan crusted pork chops (Giada’s recipe) for dinner and the spaghetti bolognese (with arriabata sauce) that ended up being lunch AND dinner.. for me at least.

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Aside from¬†the pounding headaches, our trip to Breck was fantastic. It snowed the whole time we were there,¬†which some would consider a bad thing since that usually means low visibility. But to me, any snow is great.. I ain’t complaining! And its true, the snow in Colorado is different. The snow is really light and dry unlike the wetter snow in Southern California (due to the humidity). My only gripe about Breck is that there are 4 Peaks: Peak 7, 8, 9 and 10 and manuevering from peak to peak¬†can be difficult¬†at times.¬†We tried to avoid that as much as possible by spending one day on¬†Peaks 7¬†& 8 and another day on Peaks 9 & 10. ¬†

I can’t wait to go back to Colorado and check out the other resorts, but I’m shooting for Utah next.