Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I absolutely love living in southern California, and I honestly cannot imagine living anywhere else. I live 20 minutes away from 4 beaches, less than 15 minutes away from DISNEYLAND, and the weather is usually pretty nice. Today is no exception. The sky is clear, the sun is out, but there is still that nice, crisp winter feeling in the air. And so, I decided to take a break from being cooped up inside the office and ate my lunch outside.

Today’s lunch menu:
Pulled Pork Sandwich I made based on Maggiano's recipe that they provided from their Super Bowl Cooking Class with a few additions – lettuce, TJ’s Lite Celtic Cheddar Cheese, and a spread of TJ’s This Is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese.

With a side of fruit salad topped with Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips

I will be heading to the gym right after work so I brought a pre-workout snack:

As well as my post-workout snack:

It’s loaded with tons of protein and only has 110 calories. But most of all, the flavor of this protein drink is CHOCOLATE FUDGE!!! =)

Kobacha Squash Oatmeal

Kobacha squash is available year round, which is awesome since it’s definitely one of my favorite squashes. I love that it has a long shelf life if stored properly, that it’s natural sweetness, and that it can be used many dishes. Despite this, I usually just steam it, mash it up, and call it a day. However, my mom bought an unusually large-sized one this time and a girl can only eat mashed kobacha squash so many times. And so last night, as I was pondering about what to eat for breakfast, I thought maybe kobacha squash oatmeal? I figured that if people put pumpkin in their oatmeal, why not kobacha? I’m all about experimentation, and worst case scenario I’d eat plain ol’ cereal if I didn’t like it. Well, it turns out that I didn’t need the cereal because this kobacha squash oatmeal was a complete success. It was thick, sweet, and delicious. It is one of the best oatmeal dishes I have ever had and I will be making it again for sure!


1/3 cup of old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup of mashed kobacha squash
3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

Optional: 1/4 cup of granola


Combine oats, squash, and almond milk into a pot over medium heat. Stir the ingredients until they are just combined. Once it reaches to a boil, stir occasionally for another 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and continue stirring occasionally for another 5-7 min or until the oatmeal reaches your desired consistency. Once it is done, mix in the ground flaxseed. Transfer to a bowl or eat it straight from the pot. We’ll call it rustic style =). Add desired toppings and voile!  3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

BTW - I went to Ralph's this morning to pickup the ingredients for a chocolate treat I plan on making tomorrow morning before work. I'm excited!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chocolate Fever

I know that I technically already got my daily chocolate fix from Wild Squirrel's super delicious Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed nut butter that was featured star in my oatmeal this morning, but that was like 2 meals ago. I'm a chocolate fiend and my body is craving for some more chocolate. So, I went on a mini chocolate hunt at the office today. The result? 2 min later, I got me some of dees chocolate-y treat:

Since I went a little crazy with the eating over the weekend, I'm only letting myself eat half of the fun-sized Kit Kat bar. The other half is tucked away in my drawer even though I really really really want to eat it. Must not think about it. Only 45 more agonizing minutes until I can go home and be safely separated from the Kit Kat... 

I guess I can continue thinking about a chocolate dessert I'm concocting for Single Awareness Valentine's Day. My original idea of chocolate coal was nixed by my friends...

I Think I have Died and Gone to Nut Butter Heaven

I had recently heard through the blog world grapevine about a small business company called Wild Squirrel Nut Butter that produces nut butter in very unique flavors - Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed, Curious Cocoa-Nut, Pretzel Pizzaz, and Sneaky Cinnamon). After doing some research about the company and their products, I noticed that all of the reviews have been extremely positive and those who have tried them immediately fell in love with them. Being a huge nut butter fanatic myself, I was intrigued by their variety of flavors and just knew that I had to get them in my possession ASAP. Since I had never heard of this brand before, I went on their website to find out where I could purchase their products. Sadly, they are currently not being sold in California, but luckily for me they sell them directly on their website. After spending a lot of time on deciding which flavors I wanted to try, I ordered one jar of the Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed and the Pretzel Pizazz. (I really wanted the Curious Cocoa-Nut, but sadly it is on backorder until March.) Since this is a very small company, I wasn't sure how long it would take for my order to be processed and shipped. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it arrived fairly quickly.

As soon as I received my package, I opened it like a little kid on Christmas morning. I grabbed the Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed jar first and wasted no time tasting it. I'm talking about "putting finger directly into the jar and straight into my mouth" kind of action. And all I have to say is that this peanut butter is AMAZING!!! It has that sticks-to-your-roof consistency, which I love and is a quality that must be fulfilled in order for nut butter to truly be fantastic. I also love how the nut butter is thick but liquidy at the same time. It is the perfect balance of texture and consistency that many brands fail to meet. And finally, I love how you can actually see and taste all of the flavors. It is a true sign of a good quality product. I haven't tried the Pretzel Pizazz yet, but I am more than satisfied with the Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed flavor. I mean, dark chocolate, espresso, AND peanut butter? Those are all of my favorite things rolled into one! What more can I girl ask for?!!

I really hope that this company does well because this nut butter is superb, especially so in my oatmeal this morning. The two owners, Keeley and Erika, have taken nut butter to a whole other level. I will definitely be ordering more in the future because it has officially become a necessary item in my pantry.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bust Out the Fat Pants

This weekend, I ate to my heart's content. I'm talking about a "bust out the fat pants kind of weekend." On Friday night, I met up with some girlfriends at Chili's (which btw has the best happy hour) for some serious girl talk since I haven't seen them in forever. I ordered their Skinny Malagro Margarita, which I know is kinda silly because if I'm going to drink I should do it right. But it was actually really good. I was half-expecting it to have that awful aftertaste that is usually present in diet drinks; however, taste-wise this drink could easily pass as a normal margarita. Besides, I figured that it justified letting me chow down on their bottomless chips & salsa bowl, southwestern egg rolls, nachos, and queso. =)
On Saturday morning, I went to a very fun Super Bowl & Beer Tasting Cooking Class at Maggiano's in Costa Mesa with my sister. The dishes on the menu comprised of Spicy Chex Mix, Steak Chili, Pulled Pork with Chipotle-Molasses BBQ Sauce, the Chipotle-Molasses BBQ sauce itself, Black Pepper Vinaigrette, Cheddar Jalapeno Bread Pudding, Guiness Stout Float and Chocolate & Guiness Cupcakes. Overall, it was fun (minus some annoying people who asked wayyy too many questions. Seriously people, it's just sauce...). My only complaint is that it wasn't nearly as hands-on as their Thanksgiving class. Most of the time, we just watched the chef cook as he explained all the how-to's for each dish. What I did like was that we got to take home the bread pudding and pulled pork we made so that we could cook it at home. I also liked that they prepared all of those dishes ahead of time for us to eat afterwards and just kept the food coming. Imagine a buffet where the food is brought to you instead of you having to get up and get up yourself. Now that is service! Other highlights: the beer tasting where each dish was paired with a certain beer, the Guiness Float, and ....the Chocolate & Guiness Cupcakes with Guiness Frosting!

Afterwards, my sister and I decided to walk around the mall to walk off our buzz to check out some sales and watch the special Lunar New Year's celebration. We also stopped by Champagne Bakery to get something to drink where I saw these delectable treats I really really wanted to buy but resisted.

 Of course, my sweet tooth wouldn't let me leave the bakery without some yummy treat. So, I ended up purchasing a bag of mini chocolate chip meringues that I definitely will not be eating for breakfast.

And today, after eating some delicious dim sum with my sister and friend at King Lobster Palace in Orange, I went grocery shopping to prepare for next week's meals. After picking up the essential items, I headed over to the sweets section where I bought Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Spread. Now, I am already in love with their Cookie Butter (which has been out of stock for over a month now!!!!) So when I saw this on their shelves, I immediately put it in my shopping cart. I mean, a dark chocolate bar FILLED WITH the cookie spread?! OH MY GAWWWDD!!!!!

 I also bought a Hazelnut Chocolate Cherry bar produced by Bakery On Main. It's gluten free, non GMO, and high in fiber. BUT, most importantly, it has hazelnut AND chocolate in it. I can't wait to try it  =)

Now, I am off to plan/cook the meals for this week and get ready for another week of work. Toodles everyone!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hankerin' For Some Chocolate

For some reason, I always crave for something sweet in the afternoon. Don't know why but this craving always kicks in around 3 pm. I was about to go scavenger hunting around the office for something to curb this sweet craving of mine until I remembered that I had packed half of a TJ's Chocolate Chip Brownie Bar. Hooray!!! 

I must have known this morning that I would be wanting something chocolate-y later in the day. Thank you past Jessica for thinking about future Jessica! But seriously, chocolate is awesome. I am a firm believer that there should be a law requiring people to eat chocolate every day or a chocolate break during work. I mean, who wouldn't want to eat chocolate every day? Other than people who are allergic to chocolate of course...Minus this exception, I don't understand it when people tell me they don't like chocolate. I just can't wrap my mind around it. How can you not like chocolate? I mean it's CHOCOLATE! It's just so wonderful ...and lovely .. .and heavenly ...and there are so many ways you can eat and cook with it. Oh well, I'm almost done with my sweet little snack. But it's okay because it's Friday and it's going to be a jam-packed weekend. Tonight, I'm meeting up with friends for happy hour at Chilis. Tomorrow, I'm going to Maggiano's with my sister for a Super Bowl & Beer Tasting Cooking class. And on Sunday, I'm eating dim sum with my sister and a friend. Happy weekend everyone =)

Parfait + Sundae = Parfundae?

Last night before I went to sleep, I set my alarm clock to 4:30 AM for my weekly Friday morning workout, which consists of 40 min on the treadmill and then an hour of Turbo Kickboxing at 5:45 AM. And every Friday morning, I go through the same thing. I give my alarm clock a very dirty look with my half-opened eyes for rudely waking me up and being confused as to why I have been awokened at such an ungodly hour, especially since the sun hasn't even risen yet. (My theory is that we shouldn't have to wake up until the sun does. This theory, of course, only applies during Fall Back time and not Spring Forward time. ) Then, I quickly remember that it's so that I can work out and indulge in guilty pleasure foods like this:

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cake

and this:

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

I also remembered that yesterday late afternoon (before I had even eaten dinner) as I was planning my breakfast for this morning, I really wanted some Ghirardelli chocolate chips and TJ's Midnight Moo syrup incorporated in it. But since those two ingredients aren't exactly the healthiest, I rolled my fatty self out of bed and went to the gym. Luckily, the Australian Open's Men Semi-Final's was on playing on of the the televisions, so that kept me distracted while running on the treadmill. BUT, time went by slow-poke style and all I kept thinking was how every move I was making was for the sake of those chocolate chips and chocolate syrup-y goodness.

The torture was totally worth it in the end because this morning's breakfast was DELISH! After 4 days of Overnight Oats, I felt like eating something cereal-ish but I also wanted yogurt, peanut butter, and chocolate (mmmm chocolate). The result? Parfait + Sundae = Parfundae =)

Bottom Layer:
3/4 Cup - Nature's Path Fla Plus Multibran Flakes

Middle Layer:
Nonfat Plain Greek Yorgurt
1/2 Medium Banana - Sliced
1 Tbsp - Ground Flaxseed

Top Layer:
1/4 Cup - Nature's Path Hemp Granola

1 Tbsp - TJ's Midnight Moo
1 Tbsp - TJ's Valencia Unsalted & Crunchy Peanut butter
10 Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips

BTW, this kept me insanely full all morning. I didn't even need a mid-morning snack!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dessert for Breakfast!!

Last night after work, I decided to make a very necessary pit stop at TJ's to re-stock up on some much needed chocolate. While purusing down the aisles, I came across these two items - TJ's Chocolate Chip Brownie & Oats Bars and their Organic Midnight Moo! As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to have them and knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.

I present to you, the guest stars of today's Overnight Oats!

Please welcome the Chocolate Chip Brownie Overnight Oats!
 Here is the complete roundup of the regular cast members and guest stars in today's Overnight Oats dish:

1/3 cup of old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup of  non fat plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup of unsweetened soy milk
1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of chocolate protein powder
1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed
                      ...and finally.....
1/2 of the CC Brown Bar bar crumbled on top of the OO
along with a generous drizzle of Midnight Moo.

Breakfast of champions!!

Delicious breakfast? Check!
Daily Chocolate Fix met? Check!!

This isn't exactly the healthiest of breakfast dishes but it sure was tasty. =)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chocolate Fix

It's been a really long time...like days since I've had chocolate because somehow all the chocolate in my house went-a-missing. Okay, so maybe jussttt maybe I ate them all but that's what happens when there is chocolate around and no one to stop me. It gets dangerous because I seriously have no self-control when it comes to chocolate. It's bad. So, you can only imagine my giddiness when I discovered Tolberone milk chocolate at work today!!! GIT IN MAHHH BELLAYYYYY!!!! Totally got rid of the withdrawals I was experiencing.

"I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell chocolate!"

Overnight Oats!

Hello Everyone. My name is Jessica and I am addicted to Overnight Oats. Last night, while I was working up a major sweat during my Turbo Kickboxing class, I couldn't stop thinking about what to make for breakfast because I am extremely in love with food. I am always thinking about my next meal. It just can't be helped. Anyhoo, so since I already had OO for breakfast 2 days in a row, I was debating whether or not I should have it again. My main problem was that I was completely out of oatmeal, so I would need to stop by a supermarket to buy some more. Fortunately, a Trader Joe's is located in the same plaza and is literally 3 stores away from the gym . Unfortunately, that would also mean I would have to walk .03 miles. Yes, I realize that I'm already in the area and it's like RIGHT there. But I'm super lazy okay? So go ahead and judge me. I certainly did, which is why I decided to just walk my lazy butt to TJ's because being that lazy is just ridonkulous. And boy am I glad I went because if not, I wouldn't have had this deliciousness for breakfast.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Overnight Oats in a Jar!!!!

Word on the street is that Overnight Oats taste so much better in an almost finished nut butter jar and I completely agree. It definitely takes the experience to a whole other level, especially if you are a PB lover. There is just nothing like scraping all that PB goodiness mixed in with your oatmeal.

Another reason to be happy? The sun finally made an appearance after the rain decided that it had overstayed its welcome. I guess singing "rain rain go away" does work =)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!!!

National Peanut Butter Day has finally arrived!!!! And in honor of such a grand holiday, I have decided to purchase two jars of nut butter from Wild Squirrel Nut Butter. I had originally discovered this delectable nut butter through katheats.com. After noticing that Kath often uses it in her oatmeal recipes, I decided to head on over to wildsquirrelnutbutter.com to learn more about the brand. Now, if you haven't heard of this company yet, you need to check out their website ASAP. Wild Squirrel Nut Butter was founded by Keeley and Erika, two young and very talented entrepreneurs, who have come up with some extremely creative and cutely-named nut butters such as Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed, Curious Cocoa-Nut, Pretzel Pizazz, and Sneaky Cinnamon. What also interested me is the fact that Keeley and Erika strive to use the best ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. They are very conscious about using natural and organic ingredients and package their products in recyclable containers.  Unfortunately, it looks like as of right now they are only located in Washington and Oregon. However, the good news is that their products are available online to order. I just placed an order for a jar of the Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed and the Pretzel Pizazz and I am super excited for my shipment to arrive. I already have a few recipes in mind and cannot wait to share them with my friends/family so they can get addicted as well . Here are pictures of their nut butters from their website.  =)

My Discovery of Overnight Oats

So as of a few months ago, I became engaged in the food blogging world due to my need for holiday recipes. My family is obsessed with food so we start planning our menus a month before the actual holiday. So while researching for Thanksgiving recipes in early October, I discovered something called Overnight Oats. Now, for the longest time, I was very anti-oatmeal. My mom tried to get me to eat it several times when I was a youngin' but every time it would result in the same disastrous ending. I would took one bite, make a face, refuse to eat it, and re-ignite the War of Oatmeal. Well, over the summer, I decided to give oatmeal along with several other healthy foods another chance due to my desire to live a healthier lifestyle. Like normal people, I only thought oatmeal could only be eaten warm and cooked either in the microwave or over the stove. In fact, I used to cringe and make fun of my friend whenever she would eat her oatmeal cold (which she called spackle because hers literally looked like spackle). After reading a few blogs, I noticed a pattern of Overnight Oats recipes and I decided that this was a sign for me to try it. The possibilities of Overnight Oats recipes are endless, which I absolutely love and I would highly suggest checking out these blogs in particular for some awesome recipes: pbfingers.com, katheats.com, and chocolatecoveredkatie.com.

 The first Overnight Oats I decided to try is a chocolate peanut butter-y concoction. I combined old-fashioned oats with unsweetened soy milk, half of a medium sized banana that I caramlized and blended along with a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder and Better 'N Peanut Butter. I mixed it all up right before I went to bed and this is what it looked like right before I put it in the fridge for the night.

In the morning, I was absolutely giddy try to my first bowl of Overnight Oats. I hopped, skipped, and jumped to the kitchen and immediately took it out of the fridge.

And here it is all dressed up with another spoonful of PB along with some unsalted, roasted peanuts and fresh blueberries. YUM!!

My curiousity with OO was still going strong so last night I decided to make another concoction for Tueday's breakfast. This time I was thinking of experimenting with my matcha green tea powder. Lately I have been craving green tea mochi so I decided to make green tea mochi oatmeal. Weird? Yes. Delicious? Yes!

Here is the ugly sucker right before I let it rest in the fridge for the night. I used 1/2 cup of oats, 1/3 cup of soy milk, 1 teaspoon of matcha powder, and half of a caramalized/blended banana. I decided to use less milk this time to give it a thicker texture in hopes of mimicking a mochi-like consistency.

And here is what it looked like this morning before I jazzed it up with toppings. I know the color looks horrendous but don't let that discourage you because it was pretty dang tasty.   

Now for the toppings! I decided to crush up some unsalted, roasted peanuts and sprinkle that on top of my OO along with some blueberries. It was pretty good but it still wasn't chewy enough for me. I think in the future, I'll try adding less milk and maybe some mochi bits as well.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Update

 Disneyland recently opened the Jolly Holiday Bakery on Main Street; the former location of the Blue Ribbon Bakery. Being an avid Disney lover/food lover/Mary Poppins lover, I knew I had to try it out ASAP. After a few failed attempts, I finally managed to head down there and I will definitely be back to try more dishes on their menu. I kind of forgot to take a picture of the bakery from the outside because I was super excited to eat. However, I did manage to take some pictures...mainly though to distract me from the fact that I was in a very long line. 

Each of the window panels has these cute penguins on them. They are just as cute as they are in the movie.

 Here is a beautiful chandelier that hangs from inside the restaurant. I can't remember if that specific chandelier is from Mary Poppins's room or one of the other rooms in the house. Either way, it's breathtaking. My horrible camera skills don't do it justice.

 A tree that contains snippets of lyrics from various songs from the movie.

Mary Poppins on her carousal horse along with a very cute bird. 

Now, moving on to the main reason I went...the food! I really wanted to try this incredibly delicious looking strawberry lemonade cupcake. However, due to my extreme fondness for chocolate, I definitely wanted my first dessert here to be something chocolate-y. So, sorry cupcake, you'll have to wait until next time to be eaten.

 Some more desserts that I desperately wanted to try but didn't dare to since I wasn't wearing my stretchy jeans and I was already going to go overboard on the calories.
My friend and I decided that this Mickey Mouse shaped Chocolate Tart would be our dessert victim for today. And oh boy! (pun intended) he did not disappoint. My only complaint is that it took a bit of work eating him with my fork. Had I not been sharing with a friend, I definitely wouldn't have used a utensil and eaten him cave woman style. Other than that, the chocolate was rich and decadent.

The entree for the night was their Caprese Sandwich that was blocked by their amazing chips in the picture. The sandwich itself is pretty gigantic so I would definitely recommend sharing this with a friend. It contains tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, lettuce, and balsamic vinaigrette served on focaccia bread. Yum!