Category Archives: About Me

Transitions

There hasn’t been a lot of cooking going on in this household recently. Things have just been too busy. First, I start my new full time job on Monday, so I’ve been trying to get random errands done and just get organized. I know it’ll be an adjustment going back to work and I’ll probably be pretty tired next week! Second, we got engaged on Sunday!! The boyfriend (now fiance!) finally popped the question. 🙂 We are so excited! As far as a wedding goes, we’re thinking somewhere like this…


(Source)

Anyway, I’m hoping to do some baking this weekend, but after that posting might be sporadic until I get a better handle on my schedule. Hopefully I can get into a routine fairly quickly!

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Sushi date night

Date night used to be a weekly thing for me and the boyfriend. We’d try a new restaurant, or sometimes revisit a favorite, and just spend time talking. And talking about work was strictly prohibited! But when I was laid off earlier last year date night kinda went on hiatus. We just cut back on things and that was one of them.

Buuuut, I can now officially confirm that I got a job! We found out some more details on Monday and it definitely warranted a celebration. The whole time I was out of work, we said that as soon as I got a job we’d go to our favorite sushi place in Studio City, Katsu-ya. It’s not even a really pricey place, but it was more the principle of not going there until we had something to celebrate. So last night we went!

(Sorry for the orangey iPhone pictures.) We started with two of our favorites.

Baked Green Mussels: I literally have dreams about these mussels. They are HUGE, always taste so fresh, and are served in the most amazing cream sauce. I can’t put my finger on what exactly makes this sauce so good. The boyfriend and I both were literally sopping it up with the seaweed salad!

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna: These rolls are so simple, but so delicious. The crispy rice adds a great crunch, and the spicy tuna has just the perfect amount of bite. We always get an order of these!

We decided we’d each pick one more roll to get, and were going to order ones we hadn’t tried yet, but we had to get these S.S.C. rolls again. They’re California rolls topped with sauteed shrimp, mushrooms, and asparagus (not sure what the S.S.C. stands for). And of course there is some delectable sauce that it’s all in.

And finally we went with the 4 1/2 rolls (again, not sure of the significance of the name!). They were spicy shrimp and crab rolls topped with tuna filets, spicy mayonnaise, and green onion. These had a really clean, fresh flavor. I just love me some good raw tuna!

It was a perfect dinner, accompanied by two glasses of pinot grigio for me and Sapporo for my man! I haven’t been to Katsu-ya before and not enjoyed everything I put in my mouth. We decided that when I actually start my new job we’ll try out Kiwami, which is the same owner as Katsu-ya but a little fancier/pricier. Just writing this post made me want more sushi!

Do you like sushi?  

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Easy potluck pasta bake

Today was my first day of physical therapy after my knee surgery, and man was it harder than I thought it would be! I knew that working on getting my bend back would be hard, but I didn’t think trying to straighten my leg all the way would be as painful as it was. I spent over two weeks in this lovely thing…

…so my knee couldn’t bend, but it wasn’t totally straight either. So it’s kind of in this weird limbo spot where I can’t straighten it or bend it all the way! It’s a little sore since I worked the muscles in that leg more today than I have in a month, but I’m just glad that it’s slowly on the mend. I can handle some pain now if it will get me back to doing yoga! And I can’t wait to try yoga for the first time without having the knee pain that the tumor was causing. I’m hoping within the month I’ll be able to go!

Anyway, I wanted to post the recipe for the pasta bake that I mentioned yesterday. It’s really easy and completely customizable to whatever you have on hand or want to throw in it!

Potluck Pasta Bake
Adapted from Italian Food Forever 

Start by cooking your choice of short pasta. I went with just over a half box of whole grain rotini.

Then, choose what you want to put in the casserole. We used the 1 1/2 cups of diced ham suggested in the recipe. For veggies, we had a bag of frozen broccoli and a bag of frozen chopped spinach that were both almost empty, so we thawed those…

…and my sous chef chopped everything up!

While he was chopping, I sauteed 1/2 cup of onions and 2 garlic cloves in 3 Tbs of butter. Then I whisked in 3 Tbs flour and 3 cups of 1% milk until the mixture was smooth. Next, add your choice of cheese. We chose 8 oz. of shredded cheddar. Add salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. of oregano. Put the pasta back in the pot and all your chopped components.

So colorful!

Pour cheese sauce into pot and mix everything together. Transfer to a baking dish and top with  1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used panko) and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown and crispy.

We love brown crunchy edges in this house!

This was a great dish – and I think it was even better reheated the next day! I always think that casserole type things, including baked mac and cheese, are better reheated – why is that?!?!

Things I will change next time I make this:
– Add more veggies.
– Use either a combo of different cheeses or try something other than cheddar. The cheddar was great, just not super flavorful. I think maybe some gruyere or fontina would’ve been awesome in this.
– Use less breadcrumbs. I followed the amount in the recipe, but it didn’t evenly brown on top because I think I piled the crumbs too high in some spots.
– more garlic! Because the more garlic the better. 🙂

Overall, very easy, was able to use things we had on hand, and totally customizable!

After eating this for dinner the other night, I promptly pulled this out of the freezer.

Yep. That’s leftover cookie dough from these bad boys. The coconut lime were the boyfriend’s favorite so I made a mini batch for us. They were just as good the second time around! You’d think I’d be trying to lay off the sugar after the holidays. But no. I don’t believe in deprivation. If I want sugar and don’t have it, I get grumpy. 🙂

Do you make casserole-type dishes often? Do you have a favorite or do you just throw in what you have in the kitchen? 

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I’m just going to write.

I’ve been putting off my first post of 2012 because I’m kind of a perfectionist about some things. I’ve been thinking about ways I want to evolve this blog and I haven’t posted because I haven’t fully figured out what changes I want to make. But I think I’ve realized that that’s ok. It’s my blog and it can be whatever I want it to be! It doesn’t have to be, and won’t be, perfect. Ever. So I’m just going to write!

That being said, Happy New Year! The boyfriend and I had a wonderful long weekend. We got a great deal on a new TV, filled numerous trash bags of clothes for donation, took down holiday decorations, and relaxed a lot. I also made a really yummy appetizer on Sunday that we had while we watched the Patriots game. And it’s so ridiculously easy!

Pepperoni Roll Ups
Recipe from Dinner with the Donnells
– 1 can crescent rolls
– pepperoni
– mozzarella cheese (I think shredded melts best, but string cheese works too!)

Just lay out the crescent rolls on a cookie sheet, top with 3-4 pieces of pepperoni, sprinkle with as much or as little mozzarella as you like…

…and roll ’em up! I kind of stretched the dough to seal off the ends, but nothing oozed out anyway. You might want to do this if you add more cheese. (Shout out to my brother – thanks for the new cookie sheets you gave me for Xmas! They’ve already been used many times!)

Then just bake according to the crescent roll instructions, until they’re nice and golden brown.

Mmmmm. Check out that gooey cheesy goodness.

These were so good! Not the healthiest in the world, but super easy to make and very yummy. The boyfriend’s exact words were – “These are basically heaven.” He’s a meat and cheese kinda guy. 🙂

Dinner tonight was leftover potluck pasta bake, which I’ll post the recipe for this week, and a big batch of our favorite kale chips!

What did you do for New Year’s? Did you take advantage of any sales? 

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Kitchen/blogging hiatus

Sooo, I haven’t really posted since Thanksgiving. Maybe you thought I was one of those people who started a blog and then gave up on it shortly after starting it. But I swear, I want to keep blogging. I’ve missed it! And I’ve thought of writing every day.

But here’s the thing. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I had a health scare. I’ve had knee pain for years and just ignored it, because it wasn’t that bad. But earlier this year, I started doing yoga. And I LOVED yoga. But my knee pain was a hindrance, so I finally went to the doctor. After a normal x-ray and six weeks of physical therapy with no improvement, I went to get an MRI.

They found a BIG tumor in my knee, right at the joint where my knee bends. And then we had to wait a week to see an orthopedic oncologist, not knowing anything else. We basically spent a week thinking I might have cancer. It was the slowest, weirdest, scariest week I think I’ve ever had.

But the specialist knew right away from looking at the MRI that it was benign. It was a rare type of tumor that starts in the joint lining. They don’t know what causes it. And mine, because it was so large, had probably been there for years. It had actually started eating away at my bone.

So two weeks ago today, I had surgery to remove the tumor and get a bone graft for the section that had been invaded. It’s been a slow recovery. I’ve literally left my apartment twice since the surgery. It is really hard to get around. I’m in a full leg immobilizing brace. I can hobble around on it a little, but leaving the apartment means involving the crutches which are cumbersome and exhausting to use.

Anyway, sorry for the long story. Basically, I really can’t be on my feet for more than 10 minutes or so at a time. So I can’t cook. I could have done a few fluffy blog posts but it’s kind of been a roller-coaster past few weeks and I just haven’t felt like writing something sub-par. It’s just one of those times where real life gets in the way. 🙂 But more importantly than missing a few weeks of blogging, I’m healthy, healing, and tumorless, and couldn’t be more grateful for that.

The weekend before my surgery, I tried out some recipes that I plan on baking and using as Christmas gifts. The boyfriend and I leave for Boston on Thursday to be with our families for Christmas, and I’m hoping my mom will be my helper in the kitchen so I can get these done. So get ready for posts on…

these…

these…

and these.

I’m guessing I won’t post while I’m back East. There is just too much to fit in for the few days we’re there. But I will definitely be back at it after the holidays. I just wanted to write something to say this isn’t an abandoned blog!

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, relaxing holiday!

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First blog kitchen trial – Bob’s Red Mill Golden Cornbread

Ok. So to recap what I explained in my Kitchen Resolutions post, I have a tiny kitchen, I lack several basic kitchen tools, and I’m a messy cook. Here’s the proof of what I’m workin’ with.


(Please excuse the dirty dishes in the sink.)


Yes, that is all the counter space I have.

And due to the lack of cabinet space…

…we have this super attractive storage rack for non-perishables, appliances, and other stuff. I’m actually sightly embarrassed posting this because it’s such an eyesore! But, you’ve gotta be resourceful when living in tiny urban spaces.

So that’s my kitchen, now on to the recipe! Even though it’s in the high 80s in LA still, I was craving a warm, autumn-y baked bread. So I tried out Bob’s Red Mill’s Golden Cornbread recipe. I love any recipe where it doesn’t require me to make an extra trip to the store – I already had these few, simple ingredients on hand.



To further illustrate my messy cook tendencies, I promptly spilled cornmeal all over the counter and floor. Typical. Anyway, the recipe is super simple. Of course, because of my lack of a sifter and an electric beater, I “sifted” the dry ingredients by mixing them with a fork…

…and nuked the butter in the microwave so I could easily incorporate it by hand into the batter.

I just crossed my fingers that my modifications didn’t affect the texture! (Notice the little dribble of batter that didn’t make it into the pan – another example of my messy tendencies!)

It looked pretty good coming out of the oven…

…and then it crumbled into pieces as soon as I cut into it. This was my second attempt at cutting a piece. (Sorry again for the blurry pics – I get next to no natural light in my kitchen and I’m still struggling with flash settings!)

To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with this recipe. I think I just like my cornbread more on the sweeter side. I added some butter and a drizzle of honey to finish off my piece, and it was pretty good! I’m wondering if the recipe just yielded a crumblier bread, or if it had to do with my lack of sifting and electric beating??

So kitchen trial #1 for this blog was a semi-success – it’s definitely an edible bread, and between the boyfriend and myself, I’m sure we’ll finish it off. Hopefully this weekend’s recipe will be more of a winner!

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First blog post!

Welcome to She Writes, Bites, and Window Shops!

I love to write, and finally decided that it was time to start a blog! I also love food and fashion, hence the name of the blog. I’ll be writing about recipes, fashion trends, shopping deals, and anything else that inspires me.

Happy reading!

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