Monday, February 22, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- A Day Early!

Our magical recent B&B experience yielded one long-lasting beautiful thing: a new recipe! The main course for everyone but me (the pescatarian) was Boeuf Bourguignon. And, when we arrived at the Inn, the Innkeeper/Gourmet Cook was sauteeing the mushrooms and oh my god the aromas only got better and better as the hours passed. And, boy was I jealous.

So the first thing I did when I got home was look for a vegetarian version. I googled Mushrooms Bourguignon and found the best recipe! I've now made it TWICE in two weeks!

And, now that Trader Joe's has Tomato Paste (which they didn't have until recently) you can get ALL the ingredients -- except one, pearl onions -- at TJs.

The recipe (check out the link) is seriously delicious and the pictures are absolutely accurate! I did a combo of Portobello and regular white button mushrooms. And, the red wine I used was the same red wine I served it with -- it is the best full-bodied wine (which the recipe specifically calls for) that is unbelievably cheap which is why I bought it specifically for cooking. Then I tasted it before I added it to the recipe, and yippppeeee, a new, delicious upgrade from Two Buck Chuck has been born: CHARIOT Gypsy at $4.99!

In honor of Julia Child who --- if she had been a vegetarian -- would have loved this recipe!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lazy Big Bear Getaway

If you are ever looking for the best most romantic most relaxing most refreshing most rejuvenating getaway within 2 hours of LA, I've got the ticket for you: The Inn at Fawnskinn!

Aaron needed a snowy getaway so we did a google search of something to the tune of "romantic Valentine package snow" and we found this divine B&B. The pictures on the site do not do it justice. You walk into a warm, log cabin with aromas whirling around you. You stomp the shoes off your boots, step inside and are instantly warm and cozy (but not the cozy that usually means "tiny" in ads) like it's instantly your own warm home, as if someone just wrapped you up in a soft blanket. Fresh ginger snap cookies, hot beverages or wine instantly warm the palate and tummy, and then you get to see your room.

We booked the room with the big fireplace and it was fabulous, but another room has an enormous bathtub, and each of the others also have their own cute details.

We were surprised by how much more amazing it was than the website lead us to believe, but more important, we were shocked by how wonderful the guests are. The Innkeepers are Nancy and Bill. Nancy is a gourmet cook who served a five course Valentine's feast on Saturday night, the night before Thanksgiving. We all sat around the big long table and laughed so hard and so constantly that it was hard for us to tear ourselves away from the table.

And, even though were were all couples on romantic retreats, we all chose to have dinner together again the following night at a restaurant! How unbelievable is that? This place just draws the most wonderful people.

Usually when I go away for a three day weekend I am wishing for more time and don't ever feel relaxed by Monday night but I felt truly rejuvenated by the weekend when we returned. It was the most nurturing environment on every level. And, Nancy and Bill ordered the snow to stop a couple of days prior to our arrival, so the roads were clear but it was the perfect amount of snow and the perfect amount of cold to make super cool snowmen.

So, if you ever need a Lazy Womantic Getaway, check out the Inn at Fawnskin. No, I don't get anything for writing this, I just want to share this gem that is just across the lake from the busy Big Bear village where most of the B&Bs are, and not too much further than Arrowhead. This is definitely the best place to stay in the region, I promise, and I wish someone had mentioned it to me because we actually looked at tons of listings in Big Bear and Arrowhead before we found this jewel.

Lazily Yours,
Post Valentine Lovingly Yours,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Comfort Dessert for Less

When I crave comfort food desserts, I crave ice cream or frozen yogurt. I don't allow myself ice cream more than a few times a year, and when I get frozen yogurt I tend to eat too much. So, how does Trader Joe's help me solve my quest for Cold Comfort Dessert ...for less calories?

Three simple ingredients:

Vanilla Non-Fat Yogurt
Toasted Slivered Almonds

I always have a Ziploc bag bull of bananas cut in thirds or halves because I like to start my day with a fruit smoothie. But, the very cool thing about frozen bananas is that they slice up nice and thin if you have a good sharp knife. So, I slice up the bananas and mix it in with the non-fat vanilla frozen yogurt and then sprinkle on some toasted almonds. The textures are all so great together -- creamy, icy, crunchy -- all my favorite elements to a cold comfort dessert.

Also, one personal taste bud issue for me is that I prefer bananas that have just barely turned yellow, so they are just ever so slightly tart, and definitely prevent this dessert (and smoothies for that matter) from being too overly sweet.

So....enjoy and don't feel guilty!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday

It's cozy rainy weather in Los Angeles these days so I was in the mood to make chili. Since I'm vegetarian, I made a scrumptious sans-meat chili. Surprisingly, it was so good that I actually took it to the Super Bowl party we went to because I thought even meat-eaters would like it and they did!

And, all the ingredients can be found at Trader Joe's!

Sautee the following in just a little olive oil:

  • Soy Chorizo
  • Mirepoix Mix (chopped celery, onions and carrots)
  • White Mushrooms (pre-sliced)

Add to this mix some garlic salt, red pepper flakes, one bay leaf, etc. -- in other words, your favorite spices!

Once it's all browned and mixed in add:

  • 2 15 oz cans of pinto beans (drained of most of the liquid)
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans (drained of most of the liquid)
  • 2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can chopped jalapeno peppers

Let it simmer as long as you can...all the juicy wonderfulness steeps the flavor in!

Set up several condiment bowls around the big pot of chili when serving. Fill with the following from the refrigerator section and veggie section:

  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • salsa (my favorite is the roasted chili salsa, but they have several yummy varieties!)
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped chives

I also do a mixture of chopped green onions and flat parsley because I like these flavors sprinkled over my chili, and prefer chives to raw onion..and I love the crunch of fresh flat parsley.

Seriously, the meat eaters didn't miss the meat. It was very flavorful, but you can definitely put meat sausage in instead. This vegetarian version of the chili has so very little fat. I only put enough olive oil in the pan to have everything sautee easily. And, that was it for fat!

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!