I Should Know Better Than to Trust Rachael Ray

Last weekend I was watching an episode of 30 Minute Meals and Rachael made a recipe that looked not only tasty, but easy and foolproof. Since my husband is THE pickiest eater on the face of this planet, or any other planet for that matter, finding new acceptable meals is a nearly impossible task. This recipe in particular was for lamb shish kabobs, but Rach said you could switch out the lamb with chicken. Hm... Keith loves the chicken kabobs from Daphne's... maybe he will also love the chicken kabobs from our kitchen! My baboon heart began to flutter in anticipation of being able to cook a meal that would not result in Keith 1. grumbling, 2. stomping his feet, 3. moving back to England.

I followed the recipe to a T, except instead of making kabobs, lemon-olive couscous, and yogurt sauce in 30 minutes, I only made kabobs and it took me like 1.5 hours. Now friends, I'm going to share with you a little secret of mine. I'm a bad cook. Something always goes wrong and ruins my honest efforts to make a decent, edible meal. So long story short, this meal was no better than the others. A sign of things to come was when I asked Keith how long I should cook each side of the kabobs if I want them to be medium-rare (like the recipe states). Keith looked at me blankly for half a millisecond before saying "You can't eat chicken medium-rare, you'll get sick." I quickly explained that I was just following the recipe- which was technically using pork, in which case it would be totally acceptable to cook it medium-rare. Well, turns out I actually did undercook it because when i pulled the little chicken squares off the skewers, they were all still raw along the sides. Effffff. I was not having any part in this raw chicken business and no Salmonella was going to ruin my dinner. We put the chicken squares back on the grill to finish off the cooking.

Keith did not want to be the first one to taste death, so he waited for me to eat one so he could see my reaction. To my surprise, they were actually pretty good. They were really flavorful, which I expected based on the seasonings involved. Keith ate a few chickens, but kinda lost his appetite by inspecting every little spot of each bite to make sure it was full cooked. As my side dish, I made Rice Pilaf. And burnt it.

If you decide to try out this recipe, make sure to throw away every item you've used to cook it because there are some intense spices involved. I forgot to scrub the grill after I used it and the next morning the house smelled like I had fallen asleep in Saddam Hussein's armpit.

Happy Cooking!
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Birthdays, Babies, and Beer.

Hello, friends! I had a super busy explosion extravaganza weekend with about a million pix to post. I mean, there are no celebs, or fireworks, or Michael Jackson impersonators, so don't get your hopes up. But it was busy for me and I made sure to document every breathing moment (Keith: "YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE A PICTURE OF EVERYTHING YOU DO" Me: "YES I DO- MY FANS LOVE ME- THEY NEED PICTURES!!!").

Friday night I made coooooookies and they were delishface.

Usually, my oven likes to be a real asshole and burn everything I make. However, I pulled a switcharoo on this mofo and set the temp lower than it was supposed to be. (I got your number, oven...) And thanks to a secret Lawson recipe (Note: I am note actually a Lawson, I just steal their recipes), my chocolate chip cookies no longer come out like Dutch pancakes.

Saturday started out not so great because my stomach from hell was back. I was weak in the knees and it wasn't because I just fell in love. Thankfully, it perked up in time to go to my friend Hana's 30th birthday. She's pregnant so they opted for a low-key board game night at their house.
The birthday girl and her husband, Tom-Cruise-twin.

I brought Orange Chicken- thankfully Hana threw it together and dazzled my pants off by topping it with sesame seeds. Konichiwa, duuuuuudes!

There was also a berry cheesecake that was so good it's still making my mouth water. (I just wasted 15 minutes staring at this picture.)

And just in case you weren't there, here's a recap of the night's events...

"Friends! Hello! It's great to see you!"

"Time for pictures where I show my hundreds of shark teeth!"

"Hey guys, um... I'll catch up with you later. I'm just gonna hang out here in the kitchen..."

The night ended with some vicious rounds of Pictionary. It was Battle of Sexes and the women Took.No.Prisoners. Sorry, guys. Maybe next time. We kicked butt with the following drawings:

Pastry Bag

King Kong


So that was my Saturday night. Sunday, Keith and I took the dogs for a walk somewhere in a hilly, bee-filled area of Chatsworth. It was nice to get out and enjoy the weather, but looking back, gladiator sandals probably wasn't one of my best decisions.

Here's Keith walking Biscuit and Kosmo. I love them like whoa. I was walking Biscuit at first, but my sandals did not have enough grip to handle that tornado. Tornado of love, that is.

On our way out of the park, I did my best Simba impersonation.

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Wazzzzzzzzup! (I say this when I want to feel young and in touch with today's youth.)

It's Friday and it could not have come at a better time. I've had a lame stomach all week and have really been looking forward to a few days off. To start the weekend out right, Chrystal and I met up at a Cuban restaurant in Encino called Versailles. Warning: If you're going to try this place out, KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED because you will drive straight past this place and think I was lying to you and made it up. Friends, I would not do this to you. Chrystal and I know exactly where this place is and we still drive past it every time.

They have free parking, but it's limited. They also have valet, and if all else fails, there's plenty of metered parking all along Ventura Blvd. The inside of Versailles is brightly lit and and has a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. And they get a bonus point for bringing complimentary garlic bread right when you're seated. Chrystal and I both ordered sandwiches- mine steak, hers chicken- that came on cuban bread with lettuce, tomato and a side of fries.

This is a picture of Chrystal's sandwich, but mine looked exactly the same. Yes, it looks a little like it's been steamrolled, but that's just the Cuban way, ok? Chrystal said her sandwich was good and I agree, so was mine. The only downside was that the steak is a little tough. And by a little, I mean I was getting white knuckles trying to rip the sandwich from my mouth. But don't let that discourage you, it was still good and I would still go back. Mainly for this gem...


Chrystal's guanabana shake is on the left and my mango shake is on the right. Seriously, the shakes make the trip worth it all on their own. Hm... Didn't I say the same thing about Taqueria Vallarta...? (Fruit Shake = Weak Spot.)

Worth Noting: The waiters wear Cuban style shirts like Ricky Ricardo style.

...And in Other Nonsense...

Does anyone watch Celebrity Apprentice? Does anyone else think Curtis Stone is a Curtis Stone-Cold-Fox? Because he totally is. Aside from making women all around the world fall in love with him on Celeb Apprentice, he makes women all around the world fall in love with him on TLC's The Take Home Chef. In case you've never seen it, he basically hangs out at grocery stores, approaches unsuspecting women who obviously look they've never cooked a day in their life (PICK ME, PICK ME.), and goes home with them to teach them how to cook a delicious, yet easy meal. (Run-on sentence, I'm aware.) Note to self: Start shopping at healthy/ fresh/ organic/ expensive/ fancypants grocery stores.

Oh hai.
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Today I decided to take a look at the free gems being given away on Craigslist L.A...

Absolutely nothing wrong with getting a free one of these on CL.

Always useful for storage.

Wait- do they realize Hugh Grant is in that...? This has to be a mistake.

WTF. Are they really giving this away? I seriously want this.

Starting a fraternity? You gotta have this.

Planning a road trip? Make sure you start here. (Where's Chrystal's cousin when I need her? She usually loves these things. For reals.)

Umm... Not the best advertising I've seen...

Are you tired of being charged for not rewinding your videos before returning them to Blockbuster? Me too!

For all the knitters up in the house!!
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Aye Dios Mio

These last few days have been a real doozie. Yesterday Keef and I got in a fight. Today, my sister and I got in a fight. Now I'm watching Intervention because I need some lolz (this is my fav Intervention vid). This crazy broad weighs only 92 LB's and she's talking about how disgusting and fat she is. And she's traumatized because someone called her a moron. Ok, I'm being insensitive, I realize this. I apologize to any of my new friends who may have an anorexia or bulemia. I'm not actually this dumb when it comes to les disorders d'eating. But seriously, I just really want some ice cream.

What's happened to me- I've totally lost track of my foodness. Let's get down to brass tactics: My food intake has been total shit lately. Well, I mean, shittier than usual. Thankfully, Keefy made me a big, fat, greaseball of a burger with oven chips and they were just what the doctor ordered. And by doctor, I mean belly. Sometimes I call my belly Doctor.

I know what you're thinking. YES, we're having burgers again. That's what life is like being married to a burgerholic. Had this been 2 years ago, I would have screamed and cried and taken 20 Nytols, but today the Doctor has to come to accept this unhealthy way of living. But to my credability, the burgers were served on Kaiser rolls and only had Lawry's seasoning salt, so they were like totally healthy burgers. And the oven chips were just a generic store brand because Keith is boycotting Ore-Ida. He thinks they suck. In my opinion, they all taste the same. These were ok, just needed more salt. Which reminds me, did anyone else see on MSN that the FDA is thinking of regulating salt? Salt. Salt. Ok, we're talking about SALT, right...? Seriously, are there people out there who need their salt regulated??? This news is blowing.my.mind right now...

Anyway, that's it for tonight, folks. Despite the hilarious comedic roll that I'm on, it's time for bed. And if I don't get enough sleep, people will fear the wrath and I will look like death.

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I know this entry is majorly late, but please allow me to explain... I got lazy. Nobody was in the office on Friday, so I didn't bother to do my hair or makeup. Then I became temporarily paralyzed when Mother Nature came along and ruined my life. With that said, let's get this party started.

Friday night I met up for drinks with a couple friends at Profile in Woodland Hills. This place seems to have an identity disorder- the exterior looks like a cool lounge, the dining area looks stuffy and fancypants, and the bar seemed like a posh pub.

Since I only ordered one Boddington's, I don't have too much to say about this place. Danielle and Chrystal ordered a Grilled Flatbread with roasted peppers, onions, and feta cheese. It actually looked pretty good, like a gourmet pizza or something.

This is Danielle. She's blurry because there was alcohol involved.

Like I said, not much to report on Profile. I wasn't in love with this place and not sure if I would come back.

...In Other Nonsense...
Things I did this weekend:

-Cut my bangs and my mom said I looked like Cheryl Burke.

-Cleared out some stuff from my mom's house for our garage sale. (A few weeks ago I talked my neighbors into having a neighborhood garage sale and i'm hoping to make some big $$$$$ (at least $30)). While going through my closet I found the following items:

A six-pack of Stella.

MacAweenie and Cheese.

And a creepy doll.

Disclaimer: The Stella was a gift that I forgot about. I don't actually hide booze in my closet. The MacAweenie was a gag gift from my Bachelorette party. The creepy doll was mine- I'll probably end up keeping her.

Hope you had a good weekend!
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Blue Table

I've totally redeemed myself!!! Not only is today's entry chock full of pix, I have not one, but two SpEcIaL GuEsTs!!! First, introductions...

Everyone, this is cZimm. We work together. And eat together.

And this is Guy. We also work together. And eat together.

Today's lunch was at Blue Table thanks to cZimm's suggestion. And what a suggestion it was. This was just the all-natural, detox-from-deep-fryness my pores were begging for. BT has two locations, one in Agoura and one in Calabasas (which happens to be right next to a certain famous family's clothing store). It's a small, shabby chic kind of place with some wooden tables inside and bistro tables outside. They also sell cutesy kitchen items like teas, candies, and jams.

I ordered the Roasted Turkey Breast Sandwich which consisted of turkey, brie, arugula, roasted red peppers, and sun-dried tomato aioli all on ciabatta bread. OMG, this sandwich was SO good. I was pleasantly surprised when it showed up at my table and wasn't a big solid slab of turkey breast. I hate that. If I wanted a big fat chuck of turkey, I would have bought myself a Butterball. Instead, this was nice, thin slices of turkey, gooey bites of brie and just the right amount of aioli to soften up the ciabatta. I didn't really touch my salad because that's not how I roll. But if I had, I'm sure it would have been nice. I think my meal and strawberry lemonade came out to somewhere around $11.

cZimm's description of her sandwich:
" I got the Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich with arugula, red peppers, and garlic aioli. It was delish! It was accompanied by a small salad. I think I ate a few leaves of my salad, but was much more interested in inhaling my sandwich. I had a blood orange sparkling soda, which the guy at the counter pointed out, "Oh, nice pairing." So I was excited to take a bite of my yummy sandwich and wash it down with my nicely-paired soda. I definitely would order this again, but I want to sample the rest of the sandwiches there first. Great place and good fun with friends!"

Guy ordered the Steak Sandwich, consisting of steak, sauteed mushrooms, and chimichurri sauce on a baguette. This is what Guy has to say about it:
"At first, I thought it was too small. But it actually filled me up. The steak was better than most and the chimichurri was awesome."

Overall, Blue Table was a smash hit and gets a whopping 5 out of 5 chins! Good work, BT. I forgot to mention, it's located right next to the Canyon Club so it's totally convenient for some totally cliche* entertainment .

And if you're looking for the perfect gift for your Italian friends, look no further...

*I love them with all my heart.

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Okay new friends, I'm gonna give it you straight: We had McDonald's for dinner. I know, I know, I can already hear you saying "We're still in week one and you're already having McDonald's??" This happened because A) Keith was picking up dinner on his way home, B) I was starving and desperate, and C) I don't get paid till Friday. To make up for this all American snoozefest, I will share all of my foods from today with you. Well, all except my breakfast. It was too early for cameras and thinking.

I worked from home today so I had the impossible task of looking for something to eat in my own kitchen. ...wtf? This is like getting blood from a stone.

My depressing lunch consisted of- wait for it.... a baked potato. -That I didn't even cook long enough so it was slightly crunchy. And despite the pounds of cheese/ butter/ salt/ pepper I dumped on top, it tasted like shaz. My suicidal potato was the worst meal ever and ruined my life.

I ended up throwing half of it away (The potato half, that is. Obviously the cheese was still totally edible.) and a couple hours later treated myself to my latest midday obsession: Butter pecan ice cream. Mmmm, I've had this treat almost every day for the past 2 weeks and the honeymoon is far from over with this dairy delight.

After all these sad foods, I was desperate for a dinner I could totally pig out on. Keith ended up bringing home Mcdizzle and eventhough it wasn't really that great, I didn't complain. I couldn't complain because I was busy inhaling my quarter pounder value meal.

So that was it for my day. Less than riviting, I know. But I'm hoping to have some more interesting lunches coming up in the next few days. Hint: I will have my first lunch guest! Exciting, isn't it?!?! I know, I'm the only one who's excited. I don't care.

...Time for some other nonsense...

Has anyone seen this show called Minute to Win It? Keith and I just watched it for the first time and it was total shit. Why is it that they always cast the most annoying assclowns to be contestants on every game show these days? Maybe it was the quarter pounder talking, but Keith and I ended up cheering on the contestant to actually hurt herself instead of to complete the task. Keith even said, "I wish she would twist her ankle." The saving grace of tonight's episode was a challenge called Bobblehead where the contestant had to clock over 125 motions on a pedometer that's placed around her head. I don't even want to link you to the M2WI website because then I would be racked with guilt for leading you to such garbage. However, I will lead you to a youtube of somebody demonstrating it in the comforts of their own home.

You can thank me later for that one.

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adobe cantina.

Today's blog takes us to Adobe Cantina in Agoura Hills. It's been a while since I last ate there and a nice Tijuana Cesar Salad sounded like a good choice for the day. This vato loco spin on the traditional caesar salad has mexican cotija cheese and charbroiled chicken breast. Char marks = Mexican in any language.

It seemed like the Adobe chef went a little overboard with the dressing, so it was sloppier than the way I usually like it. But tastewise, it was still pretty good AND it came with two pieces of garlic bread. :::cha-ching::: They also gave me a big bag of tortilla chips with a side of salsa, which my coworker pointed was pretty generous since I'd only ordered a salad. Overall, I think my $12 was well spent.

After today's visit, I googled Adobe Cantina to see what other people think of it. I was actually kind of surprised by some of the comments:

"...Margaritas tasted syrupy..." -I've had the margaritas (especially the pomegranate) and I always liked mine.

"...They ONLY have valet..." -Not true. I've been there a handful of times and I've never even seen a valet there. Maybe it depends on the time you go...? My coworkers and I usually go at lunchtime or right after work for a drink and there's never been a problem with parking.

"...But honestly, all I wanted was a mojito and empanadas..." -Well, since neither of these are from Mexico, I'm not surprised they didn't have them. Next time, try a Cuban or Argentinian restaurant.

Here's the truth about Adobe: The waiters are pretty dull- don't expect to be served by the Rockettes. But they do their job and that's all that matters. The parking is great, the food is tasty, and their portions are also on the larger side. Oh yeah, and they have great outdoor seating, including an enclosed patio and tables with umbrellas. This is a great place to grab a drink on a sunny day.
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i won't be hanging out with brent for a while.

Today I was so busy doing God knows what (my blog.), that I completely lost track of time and didn't eat lunch. Luckily, I had some Gardetto's in my desk. And with the exception of all those GD rye chips, it really wasn't that bad.

Needless to say, I was STARVING by the time I got home from work. Since neither Keith nor I was interested in playing the always-a-hoot "What do you want for dinner?" "I dunno, what do you want for dinner?", I made the executive decision to go with Brent's Deli. Brent's has two locations- Westlake Village and Northridge. The Westlaker is the nicer, newer version, but the Northridger has more character like you'd probably run into Jerry Stiller or Joan Rivers. That's right. I said it.

One thing you should know about Brent's: Their portions are huge. Like seriously wasteful kind of huge. Keith and I ordered a plain (that's how we roll) ham and cheese sandwich to split with a side of fruit and two orders of steak fries.

The sandwich was meh. It wasn't horrible, but I've had better there. And the fries looked a little like they'd spent too much time in the tanning bed. Also not the best. I'm eating the fruit right now and it's actually pretty good- fresh and sweet. Not soggy and onion-tainted like some fruit selections. (Eating fruit at 10:30pm... I'm practically begging for coeur brulee...)

However, there is another item that I usually get that is always a good deal: French toast with a side of turkey bacon. I think that meal is around $9 and always fills the spot. Also, I have two friends who love the cabbage soup. Maybe try one of those two options to get a real appreciation for this place.

The upside to Brent's is that they have large servings. The downside is that it's kind of on the pricey side for what they're serving- which seems to be on par for deli's en generale- and the food is pretty bland. In tonight's case, bland was what I happened to be looking for. Pricey was not. Our split sandwich and two orders of fries came out to $21. And I just about threw a fit when none of the three hosts/ hostesses would acknowledge my presence, despite me being 12 inches away from them. That kind of stuff irritates me. I worked as a hostess loooong enough to know it's not really that hard to smile and say "Hi, I'll be right with you".

Overall, not my best experience with Brent's. Tonight would get 2 out of 5 chins. Next time, I'll stick with the french toast and turkey bacon. Turkey, you see, because I'm on a diet.
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linner at the counter.

Keith and I took our sweet time dealing with the general public today and didn't actually leave the house until 5pm for linner. Linner is obviously late lunch/ early dinner. It was rainy and gloomy and felt like London weather and what meal better says "London" than... Burgers. Well, if you're married to Keith every weather says burgers.

We went down to The Counter in Studio City. We've been to this location once before and both Keith and I really liked it. There are lots of cool shops nearby and there's even a Baskin Robbins next door, for maximum chin supremacy.

I was less than thrilled with our waitress, but since I'm not here to namebash, I will just say that her first name started with a C and ended with a C. Take that, waitress.

I've been to The Counter around 5-6 times and I've been very happy with all of my choices. My initial exposure was to their namesake- The Counter burger- which consists of a beef patty, provolone, lettuce, tomato, fried onion strings, and sauteed mushrooms. Be forwarned: you will feel like you just ate a Mac truck and by the following morning your face will look like a pepperoni pizza- Meatlovers Style. But sometimes, you just have to accept the side effects and eat a really greasy burger. Today, I opted for lighter fare and ordered a turkey patty, swiss cheese, avocado, mixed greens, and a side of tzatziki sauce.

As you can see by the photo, I didn't really go too light on the "lighter fare" as we started out the meal with cheese fries. They could have been melted for a few more seconds, but overall, they were still a deep fried delight.
The bill came out to around $30 for two burgers (both with a $1 add-on topping), one order of cheese fries, and two sodas.
Great place to check out, especially if you're going to spend the night booze cruising. If you're planning on going to spin class, maybe take a rain check.
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you're the first, the last, my everything.

Here we go, world. A blog dedicated to the one I love: Food. The thought came to me when my mom pointed out to my sister, "Have you noticed Sasha is always taking pictures of her food...?" And I was like, "Frack yeah, good idea!" Well, not really. She gets mad when I cuss in front of her. But in my head, I was like, "Hm... I like where this is going...

My plan is to post a pic everyday of at least one meal I've eaten that day. This should be easy since I love eating and I equally love taking pictures. Some days it may be at a fine dining establishment where I am a regular and known by name (McDonald's) and some days it may be good old home cooking (Keith is already grumbling at the thought of this). The way I look at it, if at least one person offers their patronage to a restaurant I've blogged about, I will feel like a food hero. Ok, even if nobody pays attention I'm still blogging.

Let's start with yesterday's meal. We celebrated my birthday by eating at Taqueria Vallarta in Ventura. It's a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, located next to the Coalition Thrift Store and across from the old Top Hat food shack (R.I.P.). Just based on the location alone, this screams "Legit Food", but you have to try it yourself.

I ordered a carne asada torta, an item I've ordered before. Just like last time, my torta didn't let me down. It's just as good in the vegetarian form, but sometimes I like to spice mine up with a little meat. The basic torta comes with: beans, lettuce, onions, and cheese on a toasty mexican bun.

This picture does not do it justice as the torta doesn't really look like a crusty football. The sandwich itself is delicious, but the liquado alone is reason enough to drive from another country. For those of you (white people) who don't know what a liquado is, it's basically a mexican smoothie. THEY ARE THE BOMB. The one I always order is called the Vallarta Special. It has milk, mango, strawberry, orange juice, and magic. Seriously, though. It really does have magic in it.

The staff at Taqueria Vallarta is always friendly, the restaurant is always clean, and the food is more than reasonably priced. If you're smart, you will definitely check this place out next time you're in Ventura.
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