January 20, 2010


I have moved!! Please visit my new website at its new address www.activefoodie.com


September 28, 2009

"Fried" Chicken with Cauliflower Mash

I love fried and fattening foods as much as the next person, trust me. You can fry anything and I'll be the first in line to give it a try. However, for everyday cooking, I like to try and make things a little bit lighter.

Tonight's experiment, not-so-fried chicken. Nothing beats a great piece of fried chicken, but since I can't eat fried chicken for multiple nights, the next best option is "baked fried". It produces the same crispy texture that I love without the added fat. Just bread the boneless and skinless chicken breast with seasoned panko and...VoilĂ ! Healthier "fried" chicken!

And as an accompaniment? What better than mashed potatoes! Ok, just teasing, no mashed potatoes with this meal. If I am already going lighter, than I am going to go all the way. So, instead of mashed potatoes, the "lighter" alternative is cauliflower mash. While this may not sound very appealing to most people, it is actually quite tasty. The southern carnivore himself(Dave) can vouch for it! In Dave's own words "this is REALLY good! Is there any more left?"

And for your nutritional pleasure, cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C (91.5% of the DV), folate (13.6% of the DV), and dietary fiber (13.4% of the DV). It also is a very good source of vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. And only 30 calories per cup! So dig in, guilt-free!

Baked Fried Chicken with Cauliflower Mash
(Baked chicken recipe adapted from Epicurious.com)


- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 teas. Paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat panko
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon minced thyme
- 2 teaspoons lemon peel
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil spray (like PAM)

Cauliflower Mash
- 2 heads of cauliflower
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup low fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup low fat ricotta
- Salt and pepper

For marinade:

- Fillet chicken breast in half to make thinner pieces, and cut in half again to make smaller pieces.
- Whisk all marinade ingredients (except for the chicken) in large bowl.
- Add chicken and coat in marinade.
- Chill overnight for more intense flavor. But if you are short on time (which I usually am) it is ok to use right away as well.

For breading:
- Preheat to 450°F

- Mix breading ingredients large bowl. Place wire rack on baking sheets. Remove chicken breast from bowl and place in coating mixture. Transfer to rack. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
- Place chicken breasts on rack and spray with olive oil .
- Bake chicken 20 minutes or until coating is browned and instant-read thermometer registers 155°F.

For Cauliflower:
- Cut up cauliflower in small pieces.
- Place in large sauté pan with about 1 cup of water (enough to cover the bottom of pan, plus a little extra to make sure it doesn't all evaporate)
- Cook until tender.
- Combine cauliflower with buttermilk, sour cream, ricotta and salt and pepper.
- In batches, place in blender and puree until smooth. (if it is having a hard time blending, add either some chicken or vegetable stock, or even more buttermilk)

TIP: Since I do all my cooking on Sundays, this meal has to last us a few days. To keep the chicken crispy, reheat either in the oven, or in the toaster oven and the chicken will crisp right back up!

September 20, 2009

Brown Bag: Cous Cous Tofu Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing

I am always looking for new salad to bring for lunch. I walk aimlessly down the grocery store aisle trying to find inspiration and new produce to throw together and call a salad. This week I rediscovered cous cous. I had been neglecting this great base for far too long. I don't know why I don't make it more often. It comes in whole wheat, its versatile, and it cooks in no time flat! The perfect meal base if you ask me!

In Southern California, summer has not ended. With the temperature still reaching in the 90s, I couldn't help but crave a nice, cool, fresh salad. My walk down the aisle this week yielded me some bell peppers, cucumber and tofu. And to dress this fine, fresh salad? A creamy herb dressing.

Cous Cous Tofu Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing

• 1 cup whole wheat cous cous
• 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
• 1 teas. salt
• 1 red bell pepper
• 1 cucumber
• 1 package firm tofu
• 1/2 cup currants
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 4 green onions

• 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
• 1 garlic clove
• 2 tbls. lemon juice
• 1 tbls. white wine vinegar
• few sprigs of chopped dill
• few tbls. chopped basil leaves
• salt and pepper

• Bring chicken stock and salt to a boil. Add cous cous. Remove from heat, over and let stand 5 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Let cool.
• In a large bowl add chopped bell pepper, cucumber, tofu, currants, pecans, green onions and cous cous.
• For dressing, combine yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, dill and basil. Grate garlic with a microplane into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

And yes, I really do bring 3-4 days worth of these lunches to work. I keep them stored in my fridge, and snack away all day! It beats any lunch I can find in walking distance of the office!

FYI: Cous Cous is not a grain *ahem, Tiege* its a form of pasta. But it comes in whole wheat, so you may still enjoy even though it's not technically a grain.

September 18, 2009

Vegan Dinner at the Breadbar with Kim Barnouin of SkinnyBitch

My girlfriends had been talking about it, I had heard whisperings about it here and there, and it had reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. What is this you ask? Well SkinnyBitch of course! Well, not quite of course. I'll be honest, with the little free time that I do have, I have very little time to read, and when I do decide to pick up a novel here and there, it is not a diet/nutrition book (however, recently I have taken to historical fiction).

Because of BreadBar's immense success with Ludo Bites, I decided to check out their calendar for any interesting upcoming events. I saw that Kim Barnouin was hosting a SkinnyBitch dinner. That evening I mentioned the dinner to my friend Erin and she jumped on the opportunity to go. I still had not read the book myself. Then, days before the event I decided that, in the off chance that I got the opportunity to speak to Kim Barnouin herself, I probably should read the book. So Sunday night I cuddled up on the couch and learned everything I needed to know about the "crap" we put in our bodies. The book was actually very good, a quick and easy read and full of interesting little tidbits on how to live a healthier life. No crazy diet plans, just information that is simply based on common sense. I was officially ready to be a SkinnyBitch.

The dinner this evening was a 7 course vegan feast, specially approved by the SkinnyBitch herself, and prepared by Chef Nori. The meal began with a watermelon gazpacho with tapioca pearls. When this came out it looked like a fabulous pink champagne cocktail. Now that's the way to start an evening! Unfortunately, we took our first sip and it tasted like tomato soup - not champagne -- darn! After getting over the disappointment of our first course not being champagne, the gazpacho itself was actually quite good. It was refreshing, flavorful and nicely complimented by the texture of the tapioca pearls.

The meal itself consisted of broccolini bruchette with kimchi; eggplant caviar; ginger and scallion marinated tofu with seaweed salad and white sesame vinaigrette; kobucha squash soup with asian pear, fried chickpea and thai basil pesto and red curry with quinoa and soy tzatziki.

Every element of the meal was so unique and full of flavor. My favorite was the tofu with the seaweed salad. The tofu was fried and had a great crunchy outside with a soft silky center and was complimented with the salty seaweed salad and the creamy and nutty seasame vinaigrette. To top it all off, the entire meal was incredibly filling, and we still had dessert!

For dessert we were served a warm mole chocolate risotto and avocado chocolate mousse. The avocado chocolate mousse was amazing. There was no hint of avocado, just purely decadent and creamy chocolate goodness. I could have eaten a whole bowl of that mousse!

Overall the meal was a complete success. I was amazed at how flavorful, diverse and filling a vegan meal could be. After reading the book, and experiencing such a great meal, I decided to try and incorporate some of what I had learned into my everyday life. An overall "cleaner" lifestyle. No more refined sugar, *less* coffee, more organic foods, less meat, and I have to be able to read all the ingredients on the foods that I buy. That is all that i'm committing to now, baby steps.

Oh yes, and Kim did sent us each off with a to-go package of homemade vegan chocolate chip cookies, recipe included! They made the perfect post lunch dessert at work the following day! Thank you Kim!

Breadbar - Century City
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90067
310 277 3770

September 12, 2009

Southwestern Vegan Breakfast Scramble

Thursday night I attended a special 7 course vegan dinner at the Breadbar Century City hosted by Kim Barnouin of The Skinny Bitch series. It was a great dinner with great vegan food. I was inspired to try my hand at a few vegan recipes of my own.

So how did this recipe come about you ask? Or as Dave asked, "who did you get this from?" Actually, I was wandering aimlessly around Whole Foods (a normal occurrence for me) thinking about what in the world vegans eat for breakfast besides fresh fruit. I looked in the tofu section and I found some breakfast sausage, but what do you eat that with if you can't have eggs? So I wandered around some more, and then it came to me. I would try to put together some kind of vegan breakfast scramble. Now, hurdle one, what in the world do I use for eggs? Hmmm...I went to the egg section and, to my chagrin, no faux eggs (I guess they would have been too easy). Then, I had my epiphany, of course, i'll crush up some tofu! And then...it all came together.

Saturday morning I broke the news to Dave that I was attempting a vegan breakfast, and as I brought out the ingredients he started with the vegan interrogation. "What is tofu? What is vegan cheese made of? What are those vegan sausages made of?" ... I started to get second guess my attempt at a truly vegan breakfast. As I was crushing up the tofu he was watching me with a skeptical eye. I mean, I was forcing this vegan entree down the mouth of a true southern man, I started to get nervous. How was I supposed to know how this tofu concoction was going to turn out? Well, it was done, it was plated, he took his first bite, and his response.... "I would never know this wasn't eggs!" SUCCESS!!!!

Here it what I came up with.

Southwestern Vegan Breakfast Scramble
Print Recipe

Serves 5

• 1 white onion
• 1/2 cup frozen organic sweet corn
• 3 pieces Organic Vegan Breakfast Sausage
• 1/2 cup Hash Browns (organic if you can find it)
• 1/4 jalapeno
• 1 package medium firm tofu
• Organic Salsa
• Vegan Cheddar Cheese  (I used Follow Your Heart, Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative - Cheddar)
• salt and pepper and any other seasoning you have to make it taste yummy

Serve with some whole wheat toast and fresh fruit.

• Dice onion and saute for a couple minutes until soft.
• Add corn, sausage, hash browns and jalapeno to the onions and saute until warmed through.
• Light crumble tofu with your hands and add to the mixture.
• Season the heck out of the mixture.  I used salt, pepper, sweet paprika, chili seasoning and a touch of sucanat (natural brown sugar).
• Cook until everything is warmed though.
• Plate the mixture and top with some shredded vegan cheddar cheese and some organic salsa.

(P.S. - I love that this recipe comes right after my review of Animal!! Hey, everything in moderation...including moderation!)

September 11, 2009

Bistro LQ

In July 2009, Chef Laurent Quenioux opened up Bistro LQ, serving up his French Nouvelle California cuisine with a Farmer's Market driven kitchen. To be honest, I can't say that I am especially well versed in French Cuisine. During my trip to France I think I visited more patisseries than fine dining establishments. Its true, I have one heck of a sweet tooth! So I was pretty excited to try out Bistro LQ with fellow food bloggers and foodie-extraordinaires PepsiMonster, samkimsamkim, LAOCfoodie, olivejina and estarla.

The dining room itself is modern and simple, yet exquisitely elegant. And the waiters, while dressed in their standard black uniforms, spice it up just enough with their bright red converse, adding a little flare and personality to the otherwise clean and classic dining room.

Chef Quenioux offers both a 6 and a 9 course tasting menu (the 9 requires the participation of the whole table). There was a little debate at first, but thankfully we decided to go with the 6 course. That was a good decision seeing as though our 6 courses magically turned into 12 with the various amuse bouche, intermezzos, cheese and desserts. Had we decided to dive in actually go with the 9 course menu, we definitely would have been there long enough to see the sun rise!

My two favorite dishes, hands down, were the lobster tapioca with uni and the touchon-style foie gras. The Lobster tapioca with uni (sea urchin) was simply heavenly. The creamy and slightly spicy tapioca topped with the fresh uni was phenomenal. I savored the flavors of each tiny bite hoping that they would linger in my mouth forever. The Phillo filled with oxtail jam, and topped with Torchon-style foie gras, frisee and pistachio oil left me speechless. The oxtail jam stuffed phillo was rich and savory, and the foie gras was cool and creamy. The perfect compliments to each other creating one absolutely extraordinary dish. I still have dreams about this dish...

Some other dishes included Cuttlefish with chanterelles and quinoa served with a smoked egg; Smoked eel served on top of seared foie gras and topped with caramelized apple; Veal cheeks, corn sorbet, pea shoots, pea guacamole and pea gazpacho; Smoked salmon with a fried squash blossom and cucumber sorbet and Squab with duck hearts, duck gizzard pastilla with pistachios, rhubarb and ras el hanout jus.

Overall, the entrees were very good. A few of the dishes involved smoking, and the smoky flavor was a bit overwhelming and for me and took away from the otherwise fresh and rich flavors.

But now, it was time for everybody's most anticipated course....THE CHEESE!!

The cheese cart as Bistro LQ is no laughing matter. It is a cheese cart to rival cheese carts in Los Angeles. From creamy, to pungent, to firm and to fresh. There was a cheese for every craving. In addition to the amazing array of cheeses, Bisto LQ offers an assortment of breads, truffle honey (oh yes, I said truffle honey!), and various jellies and condiments to accompany your cheese selections.

Finally, to top off our fabulous meal we ended with tea and dessert. I was so excited when the waiter brought out my tea, and along with it he brought two beautiful flavored sugars - coconut sugar and marshmallow sugar. Maybe it is the girl in me, or the child in me, but I loved the novelty of the bright blue marshmallow sugar. Not only did it look beautiful, and smell great, it made the tea taste exquisite.

The desserts, on the other hand, were not the standouts of the meal. They were beautifully plated, however most of them were fruit based, and I tend to stay away from the "healthy" desserts.

Verdict: There were some dishes (including the lobster tapioca with uni and the touchon-style foie gras) that I will continue to dream about and that I will wait in anticipation to try again, and there were also some misses. But overall, it was an experience that I would not pass up. Laurent Quenioux put together an exquisite array of dishes that are more than worthy of sampling.

Bistro LQ
8009 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048-4503
(323) 951-1088

September 4, 2009

Animal Restaurant

In 2008 Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo opened Animal restaurant in Los Angeles. Since then John and Vinny have become the talk of the town amongst Los Angeles foodies, have won Food & Wine Best New Chefs of 2009 award, and received a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant. Quite a year for the duo.

The menu at Animal is based upon...yes, you guessed it - MEAT! More specifically rustic, comforting meat dishes - like their famous poutine (a dish from Canada - french fries topped with oxtail gravy and melted cheddar). The menu is not for the health conscious. Animal is truly for the carnivorous.

Dave and I decided to finally pay this animal a visit.

ROUND 1: Amberjack and Grilled Squid

The amberjack was served with fresh, sweet and juicy peaches, a touch of citrus and chili, and topped with micro greens and mint. The dish was clean, fresh and sweet with the perfect hint of acidity. This is one of my favorite dishes just because of the simpleness of the ingredients and the burst of flavor.

The grilled squid was Dave's choice (over my preference for the foie gras, but we all have to make concessions sometimes :) ) Luckily, the grilled squid was fantastic. The squid was cooked to perfection, not too gummy, and perfectly tender, and alongside the diced potatoes, corn, chorizo and a tangy chimichurri, the dish was the perfect melding of flavors and textures.


This was heaven in a bowl. Petit basque is a sheep's milk cheese produced in the Pyrenees Mountains. This petit basque was served melted atop a layer of sauteed leeks, onions and chorizo, and served with grilled garlic bread. I know, irresistible, and it was.

ROUND 3: BBQ Pork & Sweetbreads

We were having a tough deciding between the BBQ pork belly or the pork belly with kimchi, so on the waiter's recommendation we went with the BBQ. This was one fun dish. A piece of pork belly, slathered with BBQ sauce, topped with coleslaw, and inserted between the most perfect buttery kaiser roll. This recipe is going definitely going in the vault for our next college football Saturday menu!

Our final dish, the sweetbreads (in case you don't know, sweetbreads are the thymus and pancreas of the calf or lamb). The sweetbreads were served with creamed spinach, capers, hen of the woods (mushrooms). Over all, this was probably our least favorite dish. The flavors and overall taste were not quite as impressive as the previous dishes. If I were to do it over again, I would not have ended on this dish. Oh well!

Unfortunately, there was no room for dessert at this dinner. We had a box full of Susie Cakes waiting for us at home, so we had to take a rain check this time.

Overall, we were very happy with our meal. I would highly recommend the amberjack, grilled squid and petite basque. And next time around I will definitely be ordering the foie gras biscuit and bacon chocolate crunch bar!

Animal Restaurant
435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9225