Made :: Pasta with Peas, Bacon, and Ricotta

Now that I'm pretty much over that horrible flu, it's time to get back to home cooking. baby steps though. Currently, I have Dinner: the Playbook by Jenny Rosenstrach checked out from the library. I read Jenny's first book, Dinner: a Love Story and enjoyed it, so I was excited to see that she had another book. It's all about meal planning, the value of family dinners, tips and recipes in the back. Like all recipes, it's good to read it in its entirety before trying to recreate and the ones in this book are no exception. I had to reread the recipe steps a few times.
A couple of weeks ago I made the Pan Roasted Chicken and it was delicious. so easy. Last night I tried another recipe from the book and again another winner. It was simple and oh so tasty...although not the healthiest of meals. I adapted the recipe by using whole grain pasta and my own seasoning. The meal would easily feed 4, but since it's just me and the hubby, we get to have leftovers tonight. yay.

xo, jen

dineLA Restaurant Week

If you're in the Los Angeles area and didn't already know about restaurant week, you still have time to take part. It can be a great opportunity to try a restaurant that may be on your "to try" radar. The menus are prix-fixe and set prices for lunch and dinner. My girlfriends and I usually go together, but it also makes for a great date.

xo, jen

Library Loot

As you already know I love libraries and take advantage of the services they provide. Every week new books are finding their way into my home, even when I say "I'm not checking anything out this week." Here's what's currently checked out on my library card:

What's checked out on your library card?
xo, jen

What's the Word?

Even though we're two weeks into January, there's still plenty of time to make resolutions or to think about what you want your 2015 to look like. For the past couple of years at my church, the women have been doing One Word. Have you heard of it? It's when you pick one word that speaks to you, that challenges you to reflect, grow, consider, etc. Picking a word is not always easy and is actually a little scary because the word we chose usually challenges us to our core. I have my word and as much as I'm excited about it, I'm nervous too. The word calls me to step out of my comfort zone and to take leaps of faith. It's calling me to deny myself and not try to control everything. Yikes. So far I've shared my word with some friends, coworkers, and now whoever reads this. So without further ado, my word for 2015 is:

Some synonyms for BRIGHT are: clear, sharp, deep, fresh, intense, brave, colorful, showy. These synonyms are the reasons why I chose bright. They are all a part of who I want to be.

Do you have One Word? Care to share? 
xo, jen

here's a couple of items/resources you may be interested in:
resource 1
resource 2

Listening to Lately :: Podcasts

Since getting my new phone I've been listening to podcasts. Podcasts are not anything new, but there seems to be a resurgence going on. They're the new "it" thing. My husband is always playing a podcast and when we take road trips, they're a must. It's pretty amazing how many there are. There's something for everyones listening pleasure. really. I tend to lean more toward the design, lifestyle, inspiring shows. If you haven't already, check out the iTunes store or Google Play and see what you might be interested in listening to.
Here's what's on my playlist:

The Lively Show / After the Jump / This American Life / And although I haven't listened to this one yet, from what I understand, it's a hot one:Serial

Do you have a favorite podcast that you subscribe to? Please share.

xo, jen

Made:: Almond Milk

Something that I've been making on the regular (two times a week) for the past month is Almond Milk. Before making it, I really thought it would be a daunting process. To my pleasant surprise, it's one of the easiest and tastiest things in the world to make. Seriously, if you make your own milk, it will be hard to go back to store bought. There are many recipes online or you can try the one I use. This recipe is from the beautiful and yummy Huckleberry cookbook by Zoe Nathan. The milk is so creamy, fresh, and tasty. And because there's no preservatives or added junk, you can feel good about what you're putting into your body.

Vanilla Almond Milk
3/4c of raw almonds
4 dates, pits removed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
cold water
Soak almonds and pitted dates in 1 cup of water overnight in the refrigerator. Drain water from the almonds and dates. In a blender place the almonds, dates, salt, vanilla, and 3.5 cups of cold water and blend for a minute or two. Strain the mixture using cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. Bottle and refrigerate. Milk will keep for 4 days. Enjoy!

notes: Vanilla bean can be used instead of extract. Split bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into the blender. Add the vanilla bean pod to the bottled milk. The milk will separate so just shake bottle to mix. Also, I read somewhere that you could use the strained almond mixture for almond meal once it's dried out. I haven't tried this so if you try it, let me know how it works.

xo, jen

Back on the iPhone Wagon

Just over a year ago I jumped off the "iPhone wagon." My iPhone 4 was dying a slow, painful (for me) death and needed to be replaced. Instead of staying on the wagon, I decided to try something different. It was great and I felt free from trying to keep up with what seems like "the constant phone upgrade." although I never upgraded, the self-imposed pressure was always there. The new phone I decided on was cool. There were a lot of great features (especially the camera,) so many that in the 13 months that I owned it, I barely scratched the surface. What I later realized is that most of my family and friends use iPhones. When group texts with pictures were shared, it was disappointing trying to download pictures that would rarely download. Friends would ask did you get my text or pictures and my answer was no. Also, Facetiming was not an option. Needless to say, it was not only a little frustrating, but at times I felt disconnected. Has this happened to any of you? I just had to suck it up...or so I thought.

After the holidays my husband was ready to upgrade. We went to a couple of places and found a great deal with our current carrier. A deal that also allowed me to sell my current phone back and switch back to iPhone. Hooray!
And can I just say that it's only been a couple of days and already I feel better connected to my family and friends and a bit more organized. The phone also has a lot of new, fun features since the iPhone 4. This is a wagon I'm glad to be back on!

xo, jen

Happy New Year

Looking back, 2014 was a really good year for us. Not that everything was easy because it wasn't or that we didn't experience heartaches because we did. Then what made it so good? Really it's simply the fact that we're still here, still pressing forward, hopeful that 2015 will be filled with good health, new adventures, life lessons, and the strength to handle tough times. That's it, still here and hopeful. So welcome 2015, I'm glad you're here.

Happy New Year!
xo, jen