Orange You Glad I’m Cookin’?

Hello, my loyal readers. (Who stick with me even when I take unnecessarily long hiatuses…or maybe they’re necessary, who knows?) I’ve had a crazy/rough couple of weeks. I got in a car accident and my car was totaled, so, that was hell. I tripped and thought I rebroke my foot, so I’ve had to walk like a gimp and fight through the pain (I’m such a hero…). Alright, I’m sick of complaining. Are you sick of listening?

Let us move on, then. Cooking-wise, I’ve gotten a bit more in than I have been the last couple of months, so that’s been nice. Here are a few highlights:

I call this the “Orange Medley”

This creation actually came after the next one. I had leftover orange ginger sauce from the stir fry pictured below and decided to make the strangest combination dinner ever, which ended up tasting pretty good. I cooked quinoa, sauteed onions and frozen sweet potato cubes, put it all together and threw in some diced orange pepper and cutie slices. I then stirred it all in the orange ginger sauce.

Chicken Stir Fry

This chicken stir fry is brought to you by the letter F. Friends. Yes, I have a few of those. One came over and we prepared this dinner. I cooked with meat because I didn’t have to touch the meat! This came together fairly easily. We boiled the pasta in one pot while the chicken was sauteed (sans oil) in garlic in another pot. We then sauteed the frozen veggie mix. Lastly, we threw it all together in the pasta pot and stirred in the orange ginger sauce. VOILA. A real meal.

French Toast

Yum. I loved this. Just whipped together 2 eggs with some almond milk and some cinnamon, dipped the bread in and cooked it. Topped with almond butter, chia seeds, apple and syrup.

strawberry smoothie

This was more of a fruit medley smoothie, but it was overpowered by strawberries. It started with a few frozen strawberries, a frozen peach slice, some fresh strawberries, a banana, some cocoa powder, greek yogurt and milk. It made a lot more than I was expecting. Obviously.

Coach’s steel cut oats (a new purchase) topped with banana slices, cinnamon and Erewhon brown rice cereal.

Shrimp Wrap

Yum. I LOVED this. Fresh sliced red pepper, steamed shrimp, avocado, and some sprinkled cheddar cheese on a whole wheat wrap.

My first true attempt at overnight oats

Prior to yesterday, I always had thought that overnight oats were cooked and then put in the fridge. They’re not. You use raw oats and combine them with milk, yogurt, chia seeds and fruit and then leave them in the fridge overnight; or in my case for 20 minutes because I don’t think ahead. They were okay. Flavored yogurt would probably make them great, but it’s way unhealthier, so I try to steer clear.

I have a cooking show callback tomorrow, and I have to demonstrate how to cook an entree. Something easy, but that shows skill…suggestions??!

Hodge Podge

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That describes exactly how I feel. I’m so glad you understand. I am ALL OVER THE PLACE. I haven’t gotten the chance to cook a legitimate meal in I don’t even know how long. I’ve been throwing anything and everything together haphazardly and hoping it tastes good.

I am taking acting classes right now with Lesly Kahn, a very well-renowned teacher here in Los Angeles, and they are really great. The only downside is that it is realllly realllly time consuming. That shouldn’t be a downside because it just means I am spending time on my acting, which I should be doing. It’s only a downside because between the class and work, I really don’t have much time to myself to cook and blog.

#firstworldproblems

But, really, problems are relative. You’re allowed to feel overwhelmed about not having time to cook if that’s what overwhelms you! (At least that’s what I think).

 

My meals look a lot like this lately: (not exactly like this, but a lot like it)…(joke, because these are my meals..)

fried egg with chia seeds on whole wheat buttered bagel

whole wheat waffle with oatmeal, syrup, and sliced pear

bed of spinach topped with fried egg, tomato, avocado, mandarin orange and raisins

whole wheat waffle topped with apple, chia seeds, almond butter and syrup

steamed veggies and quinoa

oatmeal with whole wheat peanut butter cheerios and raisins

fried egg with spinach and tomato

The best part about my “fried” eggs, is that they’re not fried exactly. Well, they are, but they’re not fried in any oil or butter; so they’re totally healthy. I just have a secret weapon pan. It’s tiny and cooks one egg PERFECTLY. Love it.

 

 

I’M ALIVE

I received some seemingly concerned messages wondering whether or not I was  still breathing. I am. Somehow. I guess things have just been crazy, and once you fall off of a bandwagon, it’s hard to hop back on. But hopefully, this is me hopping. I got a “side job” to pay the bills until acting can do so. (Let’s all hope that that’s soon, please and thank you). Because of the job, I’m a lot busier (which most of the time is a good thing). One fallback, though, is that I don’t have time to cook nearly as much, which, in turn, means less blogging. I bought a bunch of fresh produce today, and have a few more open days in my near future, so maybe we’ll see that change.

There are still a number of dishes I have cooked and haven’t shared over the past 3 weeks (1 month…?) ayyyee. I’ll just share some pictures, and if you’re so compelled just ask for the recipe or details =).

The last picture I just had to include because it was my first perfect egg. But, of course, this was the one day I wasn’t making it into a sandwich…typical. So, yes, a lot of pseudo-stir fry, salmon and breakfast sandwiches. Nothing too inventive or exciting, however.

I recently signed with a manager who has a small, boutique company for developmental clients. Hopefully this will help me get myself on track, make some decisions and get into some audition rooms I couldn’t get into on my own.

My mom came to visit last week/end, and it was a lot of fun. It’s nice to have someone to go places and eat with all the time. We ran around a lot, ate cupcakes, shopped, and ate real meals. My whole family is coming to visit in about a month, so I’m very excited for that. I hate being so far away from the people I’m closest to (hate ending sentences with prepositions, too, but sometimes I feel pretentious writing “to whom I’m closest”, and rightfully so). Why is Hollywood not in Chicago, and why is Chicago not always sunny? If those two conditions were met, I’d be a happy camper. Or, if everyone I love, friends and family, moved to LA.

I have gotten in with a nice crowd of friends, though, which has helped tremendously. They’re really good about inviting me out and including me, so that definitely makes things easier.

I’m still having a ridiculously difficult time with all of the decisions I have to make i.e. headshots or whether to go to a student film shoot or take a workshop. How do you deal with decision-making? Tips? It’s probably my biggest challenge and may lead me to my life-ending heart attack. I wish I was kidding. It’s THAT hard for me to make decisions.

I went to my second Yoga Shelter class today. I bought a groupon- 24 classes for $24. I know, I should get on those 22 other classes… Anyway, just as I haven’t been cooking, I haven’t been working out or eating particularly healthfully. I hate when I fall out of that healthy lifestyle!! Needless to say, Yoga was TOUGH today. After I stopped running (because of extremely painful shin splints =/), I stopped doing anything. Running is great because it can be done anywhere, anytime. I need to find another, less painful, form of exercise that has those same stipulations. I used to love the elliptical, but that was when I had access to it at my University’s rec center. I was also a lot more likely to go run when I knew I didn’t have to drive anywhere. Recommendations for workouts that are enjoyable and require little/no equipment? I do have the P90x DVDs…maybe I’ll try those…

 

…turns out this is my 50th post. HEY.OH.

Don’t Play With Your Food (Unless you’re home alone on a Friday night, then proceed)

I think I’m going to have to bite the dust and visit a running store tomorrow. Granted, half of the reason I can’t run is my fault, but the other half I’m going to go ahead and blame on the shoes. I get pretty bad ankle pain and shin splints when I run. It gets worse the further I go and obviously the harder the ground. I’ve been running on a track and on dirt and I am still experiencing pain, so I think I need higher-impact shoes. This week was a strange week in my couch to 5k training because it was supposed to be run 12 minutes walk 2 minutes repeat 3 times. However, last week was run 8 minutes walk 2 minutes repeat 3 times. It was a huge jump. Clay and I thought it made more sense to run 12 minutes walk 2 minutes repeat 2 times since we’re not building  up total time rather running time. Still, I was hoping to follow the plan exactly. Because I ended up running 12 minutes walking 2 minutes only twice, I decided I’m going to push everything back a week and try doing the sequence thrice next week (hopefully with more supportive shoes).

I went grocery shopping today for some fresh produce. I bought:

  • carrots
  • bell peppers (green and red)
  • avocados
  • tomatoes
  • brown rice tortillas
  • black beans
  • bananas

I made quesadillas for dinner.

Black Bean Shrimp Quesadillas

Ingredients: (measurements are completely up to you)

  • 2 tortillas
  • 1 can of black beans, no salt added
  • frozen salad shrimp
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 roma tomato

Directions:

  1. Place frozen shrimp in a bowl of cold water to thaw.
  2. Drain the can of black beans.
  3. Spray pan on medium heat with cooking spray. Place one tortilla in the pan. Allow it to cook for about a minute and then flip. Repeat until the tortilla begins browning. Sprinkle cheese on the browned tortilla. Use as much or as little as you would like. I covered the whole tortilla.
  4. Once the cheese begins to melt, place black beans on top of the cheese. (Again, I covered the entire tortilla).
  5. Place shrimp on top of the beans.
  6. Remove the tortilla from the pan and set aside on a plate.
  7. Place the second tortilla on the pan and brown one side. Flip the tortilla so that the browned side is facing up, and flip the filled tortilla onto the plain one. (The shrimp should be touching the newly browned tortilla to create a quesadilla).
  8. Allow the quesadilla to cook for about another minute or two.
  9. Remove quesadilla from pan, slice and serve with mashed avocado and sliced tomato.

what happens when you're home alone on a friday night... (the only thing I manufactured was the smile)

Enjoy, friends. I explained to Clay that the beans were a bit dry for me, and he suggested that next time I mash the beans up before adding them to the quesadilla. Brilliant, chef Clay, just brilliant. So, yes, that is the alteration that I will include next time.

My next article for The Los Angeles Post will be focusing on healthy smoothies. I tried a new one this morning that will be included, and if you have any smoothies you love to make that you’d like me to try and then potentially include in the article let me know!! 

Jaclyn’s eating salmon (and writing multiple posts a week)? Something’s fishy…

If the frequency of my recent postings alarm you, feel free to wait a week or two and then read on. I guess the more I cook, the more I post. That seems to be the correlation, anyway.

I did all of my laundry today for the first time in a very long time. I just don’t like doing laundry. So, I put it off. (Like everything else). And then I spend an entire day doing laundry because I have 6 loads to do. But, hey, I did it, and that’s what counts, right? RIGHT? After I do my laundry (including sheets and towels), I get very obsessed for a few days with keeping everything pristine. I make sure I am showered before I lay down in bed because I wouldn’t want to ruin all of the effort I put into doing the laundry. I don’t know. It really makes only a little bit of sense. Anyone? Bueller?

I decided to experiment a wee bit with my smoothie this morning by adding a few extra dashes of nutrition in the form of wheat germ and chia seeds. I concocted my standard Choco Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie and then threw a spoonful of the aforementioned health gurus into the blender. Yes, inanimate objects can be gurus too. Don’t be racist.

This smoothie really is a powerhouse with protein powder, spinach, milk, greek yogurt, banana, wheat germ, almond butter and chia seeds. (The cocoa powder doesn’t add to its powerhouse-ness, but it is there). It keeps you full, and its packed with goodness. Oh, and it tastes good. I swear.

I did a little bit of grocery shopping today, in heels. Which is extremely painful; I don’t recommend it. I was at Target picking up a few items when I stumbled (I probably really did stumble in those foot torture devices) upon frozen salmon. Now, I really don’t like fish aside from shrimp, lobster and crab (so, shellfish), BUT I know it’s healthy, and I figured I had to be able to come up with someway to cook the fish that I’d like. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. And might I add CHALLENGE COMPLETED? I have to preface this recipe with two disclaimers: 1. the pictures DO NOT DO IT JUSTICE and I will tell you why. The fish had to cook longer than expected, and so the avocado spread slowly oxidized and turned brown =(. It still tasted perfectly delicious, but the picture isn’t as pretty as it could be. 2. You’re going to have to go with your gut when it comes to cooking time. My fish ended up being just slightly overdone. I started at 350 for 20 minutes, and when the middle was still cold, I turned it up to 400 for 5 minutes after cutting the fillet in half. Then I let it sit and steam in its pocket for another 5 minutes before it was fully cooked. I got the avocado spread recipe from Allrecipes.

I must credit Clay as co-chef on this meal because he helped me determine the cooking method and a few of the ingredients.

Salmon with Avocado Spread

serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen salmon fillet
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic (I used Spice World ready-to-use organic garlic)source
  • Good Seasons Italian Dressing prepared (or any Italian dressing) to your liking
  • FOR THE SPREAD:
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 tsp garlic (Spice World again)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp greek yogurt (plain, fat free)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Place sprayed tinfoil on cooking sheet. Place fillet in the center of the foil. Dress the fillet with garlic, chopped onions and dressing. Use as little or as much as desired. Fold up the tinfoil over the fillet to create a package. All four sides should be folded in with no openings, but there should be room between the fillet and the tinfoil for air to circulate.
  • Place the fillet in the oven. Check after 12-15 minutes. It may take as long as 20-25 minutes (see note on timing above)
  • While the fillet is cooking, combine avocado, garlic, lemon juice and yogurt in a food processor. Puree.
  • Remove the fillet from the oven, let it sit in its pocket for a few minutes. Make sure the fish is flaky.
  • Place the fish on a plate along with the onions. Pour the juice left in the tinfoil over the fish. Dress the fish with the avocado spread.
  • ENJOY

…see what I mean about the browning avocado spread =/?

The Hunger Games I play when I have random food with which to work…

I realized in my last post that I neglected to share an extremely important detail with you:

Clay and I have begun reading The Hunger Games series. 

(source)

We read The Hunger Games together when he was here. I got this idea from Peanut Butter Fingers‘ blog-she read this series with her husband, so I figured it was a good uni-sex book. Since I’ve been on a reading kick lately, I thought it’d be fun for Clay and I to read together, but I knew he wouldn’t go for my usual “girl in big city” novel. I’d say we’re both pretty hooked. We finished Catching Fire individually, and now we’re on to Mockingjay. It really is a great series for pretty much any age and definitely any gender. As far as the age thing, it does get a bit gruesome at points, which is why I wouldn’t go too young. They’re coming out with The Hunger Games movie, for those of you who don’t know…I’d read the books before it comes out! I just watched the trailer, actually, and was a bit disappointed by the acting, but maybe the whole film will be better (I hope!). This is really the first book to movie series I’ve gotten hooked on (no Twilight or Harry Potter for me…).

I also had a gripping revelation. For those of you who have read at least one book of The Hunger Games series, and who watch The Bachelor (I am in both of these categories, no need to feel ashamed), THEY ARE THE SAME THING. Okay, hear me out. The producers for The Bachelor are like the gamemakers. If things aren’t exciting enough, they’ll add more fuel to the fire to ensure the girls get at each other’s necks. Chris Hansen is like the announcer- he acts all innocent and sympathetic, but took part in planning all of the twists and turns (cough Shawntel cough). IT’S A BLOODBATH OUT THERE PEOPLE. THE HUNGER GAMES EXIST. (I’m sure there are other parallels too, but we’ll stick with this for now).

I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while, so I just have random ingredients splayed all about. This can make coming up with dinner a bit difficult, but I did manage. Last night I made a quinoa, shrimp and veggie dish, and tonight a random (but somehow not too bad) salad.

“Italian” Quinoa Stir-Fry

makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c uncooked, rinsed, quinoa
  • 1 c water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • frozen vegetables to your liking
  • 2 handfuls frozen, cooked shrimp (or however much you’d like)
  • Good Seasons Italian dressing prepared (comes as a mix with a bottle-you add oil, vinegar and water) or any Italian dressing

Directions

  1. Place uncooked quinoa and water in a covered pot on medium heat. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer until all liquid has been absorbed. Place aside leaving cover on.
  2. Place frozen shrimp in a bowl of cold water to thaw for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Pour olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic stirring occasionally. After about 2 minutes, add frozen vegetables. (I used 3 handfuls from a huge variety pack from Costco). Cook until onions are translucent and vegetables are browning.
  4. Add shrimp in pan only long enough to heat them (a minute or so).
  5. Add vegetable and shrimp medley to quinoa.
  6. Toss with Good Seasons Italian dressing and serve!

Sunnyside Up Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

serves 1

  • small bowl of fresh spinach
  • 1 egg
  • handful butternut squash, cubed
  • handful fresh broccoli
  • Good Seasons Italian dressing prepared

Directions:

  1. Place the broccoli in the bowl of fresh spinach.
  2. Cook the egg sunnyside up. (Wet yolk)
  3. Microwave the cubed butternut squash for 2 minutes.
  4. Place the egg and the butternut squash in with the spinach and broccoli.
  5. Toss with Good Seasons Italian dressing and enjoy.

I broke my egg yolk as I dumped the egg in the bowl…hence the broken yolk in the picture..

A weird combination of flavors, but it really was not bad.

A little review about Good Seasons Italian dressing…my mom has been making it for years, and I really like it. I’m not a big dressing person, but this is one of the few that I really enjoy. As I sort of mentioned in the recipe, it comes with a container in which you make the dressing. You dump in the contents of the packet, add water, vinegar and oil up to specified lines and VOILA-you’re done. It’s really simple, but just tastes better than the completely store-bought dressing. I mean, after all, it is homemade…

Guest Appearance by the one and only CLAY

“Quinoa burger. Jaclyn’s crabby when you try to add more oil. She’ll try to kick you out of the kitchen. She doesn’t understand that they’ll burn without oil. Ummmm I dont really remember anything else about us cooking. We hiked to a waterfall. I splashed mud on Jaclyn. I threw a rock in the bushes and she jumped like it was a snake. We observed Griffith park. It was a joke because it was an observatory. Tri tip was delicious.”

-Clay

I was face-timing with Clay (the iphone does wonders for long-distance relationships) and told him that he would be contributing to my blog whatever came out of his mouth about our week together. Ladies and gentlemen, the results were poetic, as I’m sure you concluded. He’s a hopeless romantic.

Really though, our week together was amazing as usual. As terrible as long-distance relationships are, they do make the time spent together that much more meaningful.

So, if you used your detective skills, you have deduced that Clay came to visit me!! It was absolutely amazing having him here because I got to do all of the activities I’ve wanted to do in California, but which I had no partner in crime with which to share them.

The only downside to Clay coming was Clay leaving. I essentially had a month “vacation” between my family visiting, going to Hawaii with them, and then Clay visiting. I was with the people I love most for ONE MONTH. It was amazing, but then it kind of all came to a screeching halt, and I was alone again before I knew it.

Enough sob stories, Jaclyn.

I, again, have a ton to catch you up on since inconsistent blogging seems to be my new habit. BAD HABIT JAC-O! The second night Clay was here, we decided to cook a jaxoflife approved meal (that means it’s probably not Clay approved, but he was a good sport). We decided on black bean quinoa burgers with sweet potato fries. It was a nice little winter “BBQ”. Clay made his plate nice and fancy so I could take pictures to share with all of you.

Clay put his burger on bread

Sara’s plate with the more conventional bun-

the delicious fries

our spread

We served the burgers with an avocado and tomato spread. It was a bit bland because I didn’t want to add salt after realizing that the burgers were fairly high in sodium between the chicken broth and the beans. Next time I’ll be sure to get no salt added black beans.

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients:

2 cups of cooked quinoa
2 cups of black beans (Canned is fine as long as it is organic, no sodium. If you’re using dried, rinse your beans and soak them overnight and drain when ready to use.)
1.5 cups of organic low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil

Directions:

  • Place dry quinoa with 1 cup of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Pour a little olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until onions are translucent.
  • Combine the black beans, turmeric, and broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to low, cover partially, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl combine the bean mixture, garlic, and onion. When the ingredients are well combined (mashed), add in the quinoa and combine.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Form the mixture into patties. I ended up with 8 patties.
  • In a large frying pan, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the patties turning over once browned (about 5-7 minutes per side).
  • Serve and enjoy!

Brad, Sara, Clay and I all ate dinner together, and I think the dinner was enjoyed by all.

As I mentioned, Clay and I got to partake in some awesome California activities namely hiking. We hiked Griffith Park all the way to the observatory. And when I say all the way, I mean we started on the other side of the mountain and hiked for about 2 hours. We covered a lot of ground and challenged ourselves. I even hiked an extremely steep hill. See diagram A and B below.

Diagram A

Diagram B

The view:

The better view:

These pictures were taken probably 1/4 of the way into our hike. We did eventually make it all the way to that building, but it was far from a straight shot.

One of my priorities was hiking to a waterfall because I love waterfalls. Deep, I know. We found one in Thousands Oaks called Paradise Falls. Again, it was a difficult but satisfying hike.

That's me in the bright coral sweatshirt; I know, I look FAB

Other views on this hike:

Moral of the story: We were up verrrrry high in beautiful mountains.

We also played a bit of tennis, which I enjoyed thoroughly. On top of all of that activity, we continued our couch to 5k plan. I actually determined that we aren’t doing the official couch to 5k, but, rather some similar plan I found online.

Here it is:

Week 1: Run one minute. Walk 90 seconds. Repeat eight times. Do three times a week.

Week 2: Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat seven times. Do three times a week.

Week 3: Run three minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat six times. Do three times a week.

Week 4: Run five minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat four times. Do three times a week.

Week 5: Run eight minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat three times. Do three times a week.

Week 6: Run twelve minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat three times. Do three times a week.

Week 7: Run fifteen minutes. Walk one minute. Run fifteen minutes. Do three times a week.

Week 8: Run thirty minutes continuously.

I’m on week 6 now. Clay and I completed week 5 together. Week 6 is NO JOKE. Today was my first day, and it was extremely difficult. If I’m being honest, it was the first day that I haven’t completed the run correctly. I’m obviously going to keep working on it throughout the week.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with cuties (the clementines), and so I decided to add one into my morning bowl of oatmeal along with some raisins. I actually really loved it. It seems like a strange combination, but it adds a nice juicy aspect to each bite. 

In conclusion, Clay and I enjoyed our time together, and I’m terrible at consistent blogging.