Weekend Recap: Land’s End Hike & Zucchini Noodles w/ Pasta

It’s Wednesday. It’s gloomy outside. I’m struggling to get myself up and go for a run. And I’m mopey for a cup of hot Sightglass coffee. Yes, my first world problems are getting the best of me.

Last weekend was a whole different story, though. It was filled with lots of fresh air, good memories and delicious food. My hopes are that by creating this post I can hopefully lift my mood a bit and re-focus my energy on better things like…(drumroll please)…running my longest distance ever on Saturday – 10 miles!

I can’t express how big of an accomplishment this was for me. As someone who could never finish one mile without stopping to walk during my entire school career, running 10 miles straight (and feeling great afterward) is proof that, with a lot of work and mental dedication, you really can do just about anything. Seriously.

But the daily fitness didn’t end there! I ended my run at AT&T Park, devoured a protein bar and banana, then drove across the city (sore legs and all) to hike Land’s End.

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I’ve never done the hike before, and haven’t spent much time at that end of the city, but am happy I could experience the walk/hike on such a beautiful, cloudless day.

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The beach + sunshine + fitness = a glorious afternoon.

After heading back home to Oakland, I whipped up a batch of zucchini noodles and warmed up a few servings of homemade meat sauce. (Stay tuned for the recipe.)

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I threw in an Italian sausage and sprinkled parmesan to top it all off. Ohmygosh, so good.

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Advice: If you’re going through your own case of Hump Day Tiredness, I recommend a big serving of anything covered in homemade pasta sauce.

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Grilled Chicken Tacos

Chicken Taco

I love Mexican food. I repeat: I love Mexican food.

Tamales, chile verde, mole, homemade salsa…I could eat all of it, all day, everyday. However, more than any other dish, I’m currently hooked on tacos.

I made these grilled chicken tacos for Michel and I last week, and we both really enjoyed them. Long, stressful days at work call for a little bit of indulgence, and enjoying a couple of these for dinner was a nice way to transition into the late evening and relax.

All that we were missing were margaritas!

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ½ ripe ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” strips
  • cooking oil
  • corn tortillas
  • lime wedges

Directions:

Combine sour cream, avocado, cilantro, green onion and lime juice in a food processor, and process until smooth. Combine with cabbage in a small bowl.

Combine ancho chile powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder and salt. Sprinkle over chicken. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook through.

Warm tortillas. Serve slaw mixture and chicken over tortillas, along with lime wedges.

Lunch at Gott’s & a Sunday Run

No weekend in my life is complete without good eats and a long run.

On Saturday, Michel, his dad and I went to the San Francisco Farmer’s Market and ate lunch at Gott’s Roadside in the Ferry Building.

The boys had burgers, and I tried the fish tacos.

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My first visit to Gott’s was at the original St. Helena location, back when I was in high school and the restaurant was called Taylor’s Refresher. I had just had my wisdom teeth pulled two days prior and, unfortunately, was still so much in pain that I couldn’t fit anything in my mouth wider than a straw. Why my dad brought me there, I’ll never know. I’m assuming I was in trouble, because watching everyone chomp into their massive burgers while I struggled sipping from my cup of water was more torturous than a Saturday afternoon of chores.

Lucky for me, this experience was so much better.

Marinated, grilled Mahi Mahi served in a corn tortilla with slaw, pico de gallo and jalapeno cilantro sour cream on top, paired with some of Michel’s fries with spicy chipotle dip was a lunch win.

And, naturally, Michel’s double bacon cheeseburger on a toasted egg bun was a thing of envy. I think I’m gaining weight just by thinking about it…

Of course, a meal like that had to be followed up with a good run!

SF Bay Bridge

On Sunday morning, I got some really beautiful views of the bay while running along the Embarcadero.

Training for a half marathon has really pushed me to get out and see more of Oakland and San Francisco, and I feel so blessed to live in an area that offers so many running routes with a view.

Gluten-Free Carbonnade (Flemish Beef & Beer Stew) Recipe

Carbonnade

Now that I have an apartment of my own and the PG&E bill is lovingly addressed to yours truly, I’ve become somewhat of a heat Nazi. Following in my mother’s footsteps, the solution to a cold winter night is no longer cranking up the heater and happily lounging in pajama shorts and a tee. Rather, the new protocol includes suiting up in a big sweatshirt and thick socks and happily spending hours hovering over a warm stove and enjoying a hearty, hot meal.

I came across Saveur’s Carbonnade (Flemish Beef & Beer Stew) recipe and knew I had to make it for a satisfying Sunday night meal. Note: cooking with meat and beer is always a good idea.

Of course, I had to experiment with a gluten-free version, using almond flour to coat the beef and gluten-free beer…and I loved the result!

Carbonnade is a Flemish beef and onion stew that, unlike many French stews, is braised in beer instead of wine. The beer makes the dish extremely rich, but apple cider vinegar and brown sugar add a sweet note and a slightly sour taste that, altogether, melt in your mouth and make you kind of excited it’s cold enough to enjoy a hot bowl of stew.

I served the carbonnade over gluten-free fusilli, but it would be equally good served over polenta or along with roasted carrots.

(Ingredients & directions adapted from Saveur)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. beef chuck, cut into 2″ x ½″-thick slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 cups Omission Lager (technically not labeled as gluten-free, but it is below the established cut-off line for gf products)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Gluten-free noodles and/or bread, for serving

Directions:

Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add almond flour and toss to coat. Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add bacon; cook until its fat renders, about 8 minutes. Add remaining butter, garlic, and onions; cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add half the gluten-free beer; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Return beef to pot with remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Serve over gluten-free pasta or accompanied by bread.

Date Night Recipe: Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza

My dreams came true last week.

My boyfriend, Michel, told me that he wanted to learn how to cook – both for himself and for me, on those days I just don’t have time to step foot in the kitchen. (Considerate Boyfriend of the Year, right here.)

But it gets even better! He suggested we begin cooking a meal together once a week, so that he can become more familiar with basic practices and techniques.

Like many people,  Michel doesn’t quite know where to even get started with his “culinary education.” Cereal and milk can be poured, mac & cheese can be produced (sometimes) and I think he’s just about got the basic burger down pat. But, beyond that, the kitchen is a mysterious place.

So, I decided to start with a food that is simple, fun and a something he loves (almost) as much as me – pizza.

We went lazy this round and bought the crusts from Mariposa Bakery, an AMAZING gluten-free bakery in Oakland. (Truth be told, the crusts were so good, we just may continue with this laziness thing when it comes to homemade pizza.)  All we had to do was preheat the oven, top the pre-formed crust with our toppings and cook for just under 10 minutes.

We topped with pepperoni, mushroom, bell pepper, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese (Michel’s faves). Oh my gosh, this turned out so delicious!

Date Night Pizza Close Up

Our pizza turned out excellent, we both had a feeling of accomplishment we wouldn’t have been able to get from ordering in AND we had so much fun making something together.

Personally, next time I’d love to get a little creative and maybe do a prosciutto, caramelized onion and arugula version.

If you’re planning a Date Night, the two of you can have fun planning the perfect pizza combination together and experimenting with creative toppings, and you shouldn’t have to worry about too much prep. (All we had to do was slice the mushrooms and bell pepper.)

I hope to come up with an equally great “Date Night Recipe” for this week. Let me know if you have any good ideas!

 

My Holiday Season Bucket List

My Holiday Season Bucket List

I’m a sucker for the warm summer sunshine, but my absolute favorite time of the year spans from Halloween to New Year’s. It’s the season of sweaters and scarves, rainy days spent indoors crafting and time spent listening to music while I perfect new recipes and cook copious amounts of comfort foods.

This year, I made a list of 25 things I’m looking forward to doing over the next two months – my “Holiday Season Bucket List.”

1. Bake a pie from scratch

2. Get better at running in the cold…and in the dark

3. Buy red lipstick…and have the courage to actually wear it!

4. Finish my winter reading list

5. Volunteer

6. Run a Turkey Trot

7. Make this stew

8. …and this soup

9. Treat myself to a mini-shopping spree

10. Spend a day in my PJs drinking mimosas

11. Try a new recipe for Thanksgiving dinner

12. Shop local on Small Business Saturday

13. Visit the Renegade and Bazaar Bizarre Craft Fairs in SF

14. Make presents for loved ones

15. Build a gingerbread house

16. Check out the SPCA puppies and kittens at Macy’s holiday Windows on Union Square

17. Convince Michel to let us take one of the animals home…

18. Get my holiday shopping done early

19. Santa Crawl in SF

20. Listen to carolers

21. Cut down and bring home my own Christmas tree (my first non-fake tree ever!)

22. Ugly Sweater Christmas Party

23. Take one more mini-vacay

24. Run a leg in the California International Marathon

25. Start my resolutions early

What other activities are must-do’s this season?

Out on the Town: Homeroom Mac + Cheese Restaurant

Homeroom Trailer Mac

“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.”  – Avery Aames, The Long Quiche Goodbye

It was the first rain of the season and the last day of summer. My morning run was cancelled due to the downpour, so I stayed at home all morning stealing cars and watching Michel successfully pull of a jewelry heist, along with my friend, Sarah. No, we’re not criminals.

The new Grand Theft Auto game is out.

Naturally, all that sitting around doing nothing made us work up an appetite, and the rain nixed any opportunity for a sunny patio brunch.

We set out for Homeroom Mac + Cheese Restaurant.

I’ve heard of this place through the grapevine and know they just released their first cookbook, so, stirred by the buzz, we trudged over, raincoats and all, to enjoy the perfect rainy day food.

Homeroom is a mac and cheese restaurant in Temescal and any nostalgic hipster’s utopia. Enjoy the cheesy goodness of the quintessential comfort food, but with a grown-up twist – like gluten-free mac topped with Gruyere and artichoke hearts and served with a mason jar of craft beer.

The place was packed when we arrived, so while we waited around for a table, I got to take in the decor. With an old school gym locker in the corner, the monthly specials featured on a chalkboard wall and a library catalog that stores frequent eater club cards – so on-trend, yet low-key.

We were soon seated at a long, communal table, in between what we suspected to be a declining first date and a group of girlfriends out for brunch. Overall, the vibe was warm, inviting and down-to-earth.

The menu features about 15 different types of mac. From the classic cheesy stuff to a version that’s made with creamy black truffle gouda, sauteed mushrooms and fresh time, there’s something for every cheese-loving palate.

Plus, they have a full list of add-ons to yummy up your dish even more: chorizo, peas, fried egg, spicy cauliflower, caramelized onion, buttery breadcrumbs and more.

Gilroy Garlic Mac

I had the Gilroy Mac with creamy gouda, sharp pecorino and roasted garlic, made it gluten-free and added bacon.

Michel had the same, but glutenous and topped with breadcrumbs.

And Sarah relieved her childhood and had the Trailer Mac – cheddary mac with Niman Ranch hot dog and topped with crushed potato chips.

Ohmygosh, when our meal arrived, we were all in mac and cheese heaven. Bites of hot, gooey carbs and cheese, the cold, rainy weather and good company made for such a satisfying meal.

We were too stuffed to even think about dessert, but I’ve heard that their homemade Oreos are out of this world AND that they have gluten-free options too.

We all left as happy, maybe-slightly-fatter campers, but we’ll definitely return as the weather starts to get colder and stormy weather starts to become a part of everyday life again.

Homeroom To-Go Box

Until then, remember this?

Easy Frittata

Easy Frittata Recipe

Am I alone in feeling like this time of year makes it soooo difficult impossible to get out of bed in the morning? I live on the first floor of an apartment complex in the most densely populated residential neighborhood of Oakland and am sandwiched in between three other 5+ story buildings, so I already get minimal bedroom light. Plus, I have bars on my windows and am not about to leave my blinds and curtains wide open all night long. (It is Oakland, after all.) But, at least during the summer, some sunlight would creep through by 5:45 am, gently lifting me out of my slumber. These days, I get nada. It’s like living in a tomb until 9 am.

Since it’s been impossible to wake up for early morning workouts, I’ve pushed my runs to the evenings, immediately after work. After I’m done sweating up a storm, I’ve been running some quick errands like hitting the grocery store and doing a little freelance work.

By the time I’ve gotten out of the shower, changed and walked into the kitchen to start dinner, it’s already after 8 pm – every night this week. Late night meals are a bummer for my body and sleeping habits, so, last night I realized I just needed to make something FAST.

Frittata to the rescue! You can’t go wrong with eggs + leftover protein + any veggies you have lying around. It’s the best healthy thing that can be made in less than 20 minutes.

You can throw anything you want in yours, but here’s how I made mine:

Easy Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup leftover shredded pork
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup spinach
  • 8 large eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A few sprinkles of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat your coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add your bell pepper, shallot and mushroom. Sautee until tender.
  4. Add your spinach and pre-cooked shredded pork and cook until the spinach is wilted and pork is heated.
  5. Whisk your eggs together in a separate bowl and season to your liking.
  6. Pour the eggs into the skillet and cook until the bottom of the frittata is set (about 5 minutes).
  7. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes.
  8. Crank up the heat and broil for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  9. Pull the skillet out, transfer the frittata to a plate, slice and serve.

Eat the leftovers for breakfast the next morning or lunch. Serve with some clean hot sauce, salsa, avocado or a little cheese, if you’re feeling naughty.

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Compote (Gluten-Free)

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes on plate

Brunch is seriously one of my top ten favorite things in life.

I love trying out new brunch and breakfast spots in San Francisco and Oakland, but last weekend I woke up with a warm kitten on my chest and the immediate understanding that nothing could pull me out of my pajamas before noon.

Plus, the lyrics to Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” were stuck in my head…”Wake up slow, mmm mm, wake up slow,”…which further mellowed me out and made me hungry for something sweet. I thought, “Hey, this Jack Johnson guy might be onto something.”

So, I decided to crawl out of bed just long enough to feed the cat and make some delicious chocolate chip banana pancakes with blueberry compote.

I adapted my pancake recipe from PaleoOMG‘s paleo banana vanilla bean version and used my own blueberry compote recipe for an insanely simple and crazy delicious treat.

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes Closeup

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Place bananas in your food processor. Puree until smooth.
  2. Add eggs to blend further, until mixed.
  3. Blend in coconut flour, vanilla extract, baking soda and cinnamon. Puree until smooth.
  4. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, pour 3 tablespoons of batter into the skillet. (This should make mini pancakes about 3 inches in diameter, which are perfect for flipping.)
  5. Add a handful of dark chocolate chips to each pancake.
  6. Flip once the top of each pancake starts to bubble.
  7. While the pancakes are cooking, make the compote.

Blueberry Compote

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (frozen) blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • orange zest

Directions:

  1. Combine blueberries, orange juice and orange zest in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes.
  3. Remove orange zest, stir and pour compote over pancake stacks.

I also made some scrambled eggs and turkey bacon to round out my new favorite homemade brunch.

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Total satisfaction.

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Paleo Zucchini Lasagne

Paleo Zucchini Lasagna

Michel and I both had office closures on Friday. He had to pay a visit to the DMV, so I had an extra staycation day to myself. I cleaned my apartment, ran errands, caught up on my writing and went on an afternoon run around the lake.

It was dark and overcast all day, so by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was take a hot shower, turn on one of my favorite podcasts and make something warm and hearty for dinner. I also wanted to make something that Michel would enjoy after a 4-hour DMV trip (no joke). Italian is his favorite, so lasagne it was!

I’ve made a couple gluten-free variations of a zucchini “noodle” lasagne, but this was the first time I adapted my recipe to make it paleo too. And it was sooooo good. Yes, even without the cheese!

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium zucchinis
  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 casserole dish. (I used coconut oil spray.)
  2. Cut zucchinis lengthwise into very thin slices.
  3. Place zucchini slices on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Pop the sheet in the oven (at 350°F) for 10 minutes to dry zucchini out and prevent a watery lasagna.
  4. In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic until translucent – about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the red bell pepper, ground beef and crumbled sausage. Season with oregano, dried basil and cayenne pepper, and cook until brown.
  6. Add tomato ingredients and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Place half of your sliced zucchini at the bottom of your 8×8 dish, then add a hearty layer of meat/sauce.
  8. Add a second layer of zucchini, and top with the remaining meat and sauce.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  10. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

I served my lasagne with a side of steamed broccoli. Asparagus or a spinach salad would be delish too.

Paleo Zucchini Lasagna in Casserole Dish

I already can’t wait to dig into the leftovers!

Paleo Zucchini Lasagna Closeup