Derby Hats, Dark Books, and Easter Desserts (Or Things that Make Me Smile)

Here are some things that make me smile:

#1 I got my dog’s biopsy results back, and his cancer didn’t spread to his lymph nodes. Sure, the tumors were level 2, which means they COULD return, but they didn’t spread, so there’s that. We are consulting with a veterinary oncologist, but it’s mostly good news for now.

#2 I’m going to Vegas for the Kentucky Derby with two of my besties from college. We’ve been scheming about hats in a group text all morning.

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This little nugget from Nordstrom is my front runner.

Part of me is tempted to have a flower crown made for the Derby, like this fabulous one I’m wearing here:

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I don’t actually know who this guy is.

He just liked my cakeandpunch crown, so we posed for a pic at Malibu Wines. (I think ranunculus are everything. Apparently he agreed.)

#3 In addition to conspiring about hats, we’ve been discussing poolside reading. Kelley and I shared book suggestions all morning and have basically started our own long distance, two-person book club. Most of my friends would recommend me for a padded room if I told them to read these books, so I’m grateful for a kindred spirit in the land of the macabre. (Pretty Girls, The Missing, The Murder Room, and I’m Thinking of Ending Things are our first orders of business for discussion.)

#4 It’s almost time for Easter at 816, an annual tradition that brings the best people on the planet together for food, wine, and fun at our favorite Santa Monica beach house.

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Here are a few of my beautiful bunnies from last year’s festivities.

I’m trying to decide if I want to make the same fennel scalloped potatoes I made last year or if I want to branch out.

This gorgeous geode cake from Buttercream Bakeshop in DC gives me ideas.

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Couldn’t you just DIE from the pretty?

I think I’d put ice cream in the inside instead of cake if I made it. I’ve been scouring this link for ice cream inspiration.

Cake bores me as much as a bad book.

True story.

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Coyotes and Sausage Cream Sauce (Or A Gluten Free Fall Recipe)

It was finally cool enough to take the Bubba hiking today. It felt great to get back out on our old trail and sit on our rock to be contemplative for a few seconds.

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Okay, I was contemplative. Albus was looking for coyotes.

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He wants to play with them.

I’ve tried to explain that they’re not dogs, but he doesn’t speak English except for the word, “chicken.” (This is why he is not allowed off-leash.)

ANYWAY, because it almost felt like fall today, I made a spicy Italian sausage tomato sauce with cream.

I try not to consume gluten (exceptions include: cookie dough and sausage pizza from Mozza), so I served it on roasted spaghetti squash instead of pasta.

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Ugly but delicious.

I added a little vodka to the sauce because renters left some in my freezer and because vodka cream sauces are from God.

If you want to make it, here’s the recipe.

Spicy Sausage in Vodka Cream Sauce

2 T Olive oil
1 lb Spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 Medium onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Red pepper flakes
28 oz Can of plum tomatoes in juice
1/4 C Vodka
1/2 C Whipping cream
Salt to taste

1 Spaghetti squash
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the squash into quarters. Remove the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil. Place on baking sheet and roast until tender and the insides can be removed easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium pot. Add sausage and cook until brown. Add onions and cook until translucent.

Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and vodka. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add whipping cream and salt to taste.

Serve over spaghetti squash.

Garnish with shaved parmesan if desired.

Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup (Or Recipe #472 for Brussels Sprouts)

I have a confession: I’m obsessed with Brussels sprouts.

I also love broccoli and cauliflower, which probably makes me certifiable, but I don’t care. Since I eat them on the reg, I’m always looking for new ways to spruce them up.

Pizzeria Mozza used to have a killer Brussels sprouts pizza with bacon, but they took it off the menu. (Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton did NOT consult with me first. It was criminal.)

At least they still have the Pizza Bianca with sage and truffle cheese or I’d have to find another delivery service that charges me $35 for four slices of pizza.

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I’d probably pay $50 for the sausage and sage, but don’t tell Mario.

I digress….

Back to Brussels sprouts. Some of the variations I’ve whipped up include: bacon, onions, and truffle salt. (NOT together, obviously.)

Recently I tried maple syrup, and I’m pleased to report it was delicious. I think I may experiment with pecans and maple syrup for Thanksgiving.

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Simple, delicious, and not too sweet.

If you want to give it a shot, here’s the recipe.

Another confession? I left out the herbs because I didn’t have any on hand, but I bet it would be awesome if you added them.

And my final confession? I love a Bieber song.

Sure, it is a collaboration with DJ Snake, but it’s still the Bieb… and I LOOOOOVE it.

Here it is.

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Balsamic Buffalo Mozzarella Salad (Or Easy Sunday Lunch)

It’s 98 in LA today.

98 on October 9, people.

You could basically do Bikram on my sidewalk if you were so inclined. It’s too hot to run, too hot to cook, and almost too hot to be alive.

I came home from church absolutely ravenous this afternoon. Since starving myself is rarely never an option, and neither is turning on the stove today, I decided to create a salad for lunch.

I had strawberries, arugula, balsamic reduction, and buffalo mozzarella lying around, so I threw it all together with a little olive oil and Maldon sea salt.

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Buffalo mozzarella makes everything better.

I’m not even kidding. I would probably eat a cardboard box if it had a ball of buffalo mozzarella on top.

If you want to make the salad yourself (and I think you should), the “recipe” is below.

I’m going to turn up my AC and yell at the LA Rams on TV now.

XOXO

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella

1 C Arugula
5 Strawberries, sliced
1 Buffalo mozzarella cheese ball
1 tsp Balsamic reduction*
2 tsp Olive oil
Pinch of Maldon Sea Salt

Place the strawberries and the mozzarella on a bed of arugula. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt to taste.

Nectarine and Burrata Salad (Or Friday I’m in Love)

Yesterday I decided to walk to the grocery store and stock up my (new) refrigerator since I actually live in my own apartment again.

I might have looked like a high end homeless person sporting a Prada bag while pushing my laundry cart full of wine, roses, and nectarines down Hollywood Blvd, but whatever. I was multitasking by getting exercise and groceries at the same time.

Today I made a nectarine and burrata salad with mint, arugula, and pickled onions from yesterday’s haul.

See?

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You should come over for lunch.

I don’t think the onions had time to pickle properly otherwise the recipe was pretty flawless. Next time I make it I will soak them in vinegar and sugar ahead of time and toss them with the peaches at the last minute.

If you want to make it, you can find it on epicurious here.

Happy Weekend!

 

I’m Ready for War (Or the Wreckage of My Calabrian Pork Ribs)

Last night I made myself Spicy Calabrian Pork Ribs from this recipe I found in Bon Appetit. I had high hopes for the ribs, but I have to admit the flavors weren’t life changing.

That didn’t stop me from devouring the dish like a dinosaur, however.

I even got into the cold leftovers for lunch this afternoon.

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And I totally ate them standing up, just like this.

Why?

Because today is Tuesday. And Tuesday is the day to do battle.

I didn’t have time to sit around and have a leisurely lunch. I had to tackle things like a boss.

See, I recently listened to a sermon series Hank Fortener did on the origin of the days of the week, and in it Hank talks about how Tuesday was originally named for the ancient gods of war. The whole series is fascinating (you can find it here), and each talk ends with a guided meditation that is intended to invigorate you. The words that resonated with me in today’s meditation were these, “Thank you, God, for making me for this battle,” and I’m putting action behind the words.

I didn’t wake up looking for a fight because it’s Tuesday. I woke up knowing I needed to fight because the battle has been brought to me, and it’s my job to fight it. My health and my finances have suffered while I’ve been focused writing, so I’m taking action to ensure that I can continue writing with a clear mind that is not distracted by such things.

And even though my hallway looks like a hurricane hit it as I sort through my files, I’m doing the tough stuff necessary to make everything better.

I even have the words of Winston Churchill cheering me on.

It may be frightening my dog, but I have God — and the words of Winston Churchill — cheering me on. 

And even though my body aches, I’m heading out to a park to strengthen my posterior chain of muscles because that’s what I have to do to stop the pain in my back.

I was made for this battle, bitches.

Carrot Ginger Juice (Or Let’s Macerate Some Stuff)

For those of you following along, yesterday was the end of my three-day meditative fast. As it turns out, I didn’t touch my script at all. I had intended to do so, but it just wasn’t the right time.

SO much stuff came up over those three days that was more important to address — and by “stuff” I don’t mean people calling me and asking me to go hiking. I mean I-sat-in-silence-and-worked-through-some-STUFF stuff.

It was hard, but it was worth it, and I feel so much stronger now. I might write more about it some time on the other blog, but I’m not ready yet.

Each fast I do brings new and different challenges, and I’m always so much better off afterwards.

Plus a big plate of spicy sausage nachos tastes even more amazing when you haven’t eaten in three days.

Bonus!

If you're wondering what kind of person breaks a fast with spicy sausage nachos and rose, that person is me.

I was so excited to dive into my food that I don’t even think this photo is in focus.

I savored each spicy, cilantro-laden bite and celebrated by watching the “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones.* (No amount of on-screen slaughter could keep me away from food after three hours let alone three days.)

For good measure, I capped my calorie fest off with two balls of cookie dough because Ghiradelli chocolate chip cookie dough is from God.

All of that was so amazing in my mouth, but around 2 am, my intestines had a difference of opinion. I’m not talking stabbing pains, but there was some slight discomfort involved.

Two hours later I was still wide awake, so I decided it was time to just get up.

Some people actually get up at 4 am on purpose, anyway.

I mean, that’s a thing, right? Getting up at 4 am?

Anyway, there I was up before the sun this morning, and I really, really wanted to write. I was so on fire that I actually made it through 60 pages of screenplay revisions before lunch.

Today lunch involved tuna, basil, and artichoke hearts with dijon vinaigrette on a bed of arugula, all of which I washed down with a glass of carrot ginger juice.

And because I’m me, I made the juice myself….

Get ready to get macerated!

Get ready to get macerated, stuff!

I did the math, and making the juice is cheaper than buying it. Just for the record, I don’t do this kind of math on everything — just on things I consume with shocking frequency like bacon, espresso, and breakfast bars.  (I’m not about to go bankrupt because I don’t like drip coffee and whatnot, so this kind of stuff needs sorting out for economic efficiency.)

It’s also nice to tweak the ratio of carrot to ginger to your own liking.

Rabbits did carrot ginger juice.

The Easter rabbits are down with my carrot to ginger ratio. They told me. 

If you have a juicer and want to give it a shot, here’s my recipe.

Carrot Ginger Juice

2 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped
2 oz peeled, fresh ginger
1/2 lemon

Put carrots and ginger into juicer and let it do its thing. You can also peel the lemon, remove the seeds and throw that in the juicer as well, but I think it’s faster to use a handheld citrus squeezer for the lemon. Maybe it’s just me….

OK, back to my script!

XOXO

*Yes, I know I am woefully behind on the show. Please do not leave comments about future episodes or I might go crazy –King Joffrey-crazy.