Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

Every February around Valentines day, Justin Rudd’s Haute Dogs organization puts on the bulldog beauty contest. Justin Rudd and his non-profit groups are amazing and we are so lucky to have him in our city. He does so much to make the city of Long Beach a community with great activities throughout the year like the Turkey Trot and the 4th of July bike parade. For the past few years the Bulldog Beauty Contest has taken place in the Marine Stadium park in Long Beach. We look forward to it every year and the bullies get so excited to be around so many other bulldogs. We usually only go and just watch the contestants for a couple of hours and the bullies are so exhausted the next few days from all of the excitement. The best thing for me is meeting all of the other bulldog owners and seeing how much they too love their bulldogs. Here are a few photos from the day.

They don’t even know which way to look there are so many cute bullies!
Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

We ran into our bullysitters, Marisa and Lisa from PreFurred Pet Care. You can tell Maximus LOVES them!
Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

They LOVE their daddy!
Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

Uncle Kerry visiting from Shanghai. No, that’s not a murse. He’s carrying Alex’s purse for her.
Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

The bullies love their Aunt Alex.
Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

Such happy dogs.
Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

Bulldog Beauty Contest 2014

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Green Bean, Shredded Chicken, and Toasted Coconut Salad with Jerk Dressing

One of my favorite places to eat in LA is Lemonade. The variety, lots of healthy options, and awesome flavor combinations just make me happy. Unfortunately the closest one is in Manhattan Beach and although it’s a quick drive there are so many great choices in Long Beach that I really don’t drive up there often. The last time I was there I had this awesome green bean salad and couldn’t find the recipe in their cookbook so I made my own recipe. It’s great for potlucks, to have on hand of quick lunches, or just because. And, it’s totally paleo.

Chicken and Green Bean Salad With Toasted Coconut and Jerk Dressing - paleo and gluten free recipe

Ingredients
1 lb green beans trimmed, cleaned and cooked
1 lb chicken breast cooked and shredded
1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut

For the dressing combine with a blender or Cuisinart:
2 jalapenos
Juice of 3 Limes
1 tsp Crushed Garlic
1 Tbsp Allspice
1 tsp Thyme
1/2 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:
1. Combine the chicken, toasted coconut, and green beans in a bowl
2. Toss with Jerk dressing

Tips:
1. I cook the chicken in a pan on the stove with a little bit of olive oil and shred it with 2 forks after it has cooled.
2. For the green beans, bring a pot of water to boil. Add the green beans. Mine were ready in 4 minutes.
3. To toast the coconut, spread coconut on a piece of foil and toast in a toaster oven for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Chicken and Green Bean Salad With Toasted Coconut and Jerk Dressing

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Lasagna Soup With Zoodles {Gluten Free Recipe With Paleo Option}

This is another easy and fast meal that can be modified to paleo from gluten free just by removing the cheese. It takes about 45 minutes total but only 30 minutes hands on time. It is delicious and tastes just like lasagna, perfect for winter. Keep the leftovers in the freezer for nights when you don’t feel up to cooking and want a fast delicious meal. Here is a photo of the paleo version with an example of the zoodles, zucchini noodles, on top so you can see what they look like in the soup.

Lasagna Soup

Ingredients:
Olive Oil
1 lb Italian Sausage, Casing Removed
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 Onion, Diced
2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
32 oz. Chicken Stock
28 oz. Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
2 Bay Leaves
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves
2 Zucchinis worth sliced into noodles or Zoodles. (I use the Paderno Slicer and it takes less than 5 minutes)

For Gluten Free Add:
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
8 oz. Ricotta
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan

Instructions:
1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.
2. Add Italian Sausage to the pot and cook until browned crumbling the sausage as it cooks. Drain excess fat.
3. Add 3 cloves of garlic, diced onion, oregano, and red pepper flakes and sauté with the meat.
4. Stir in tomato paste until well combined.
5. Stir in chicken stock, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
7. While the soup is simmering, sauté the Zoodles in 1 tsp crushed garlic and 1 Tbsp Olive Oil. It only takes a couple of minutes if you like your Zucchini still crispy.
8. For Paleo, place zoodles in bowl and cover with soup. Garnish with fresh basil.
9. For gluten free, combine the ricotta and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Place a small amount of ricotta mixture and serving of zoodles in each bowl. Pour in Lasagna Soup and garnish with mozzarella and basil.

Lasagna Soup

Enjoy!

This recipe is modified to be gluten free from Damn Delicious.

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Mama Huizar’s Enchiladas {Gluten Free Recipe}

I am really excited to share this recipe. I asked permission over Thanksgiving to post this amazing recipe from my boyfriend’s mom, Mama Huizar. She is an incredible woman and when you go to her house food just magically seems to appear out of nowhere. It’s magical. It reminds me of my best friend from high school’s mom, Dr. Kellogg. I would go over to her house after dinner and her mom would insist I have dinner number two because if you come to her house you must eat something. I had some of the most amazing Pilipino meals throughout high school with the Kelloggs. And, Mama Huizar also reminds me of my Japanese host mom. She is an amazing cook and food just seems to always magically appear like it is no effort at all. All three of these women have influenced me in so many ways and are definitely still my inspiration. All three of these women worked, had multiple kids, and made it a priority to make fresh and delicious home cooked meals for their families. I think what’s common about all three is the genuinely love to cook for their friends and families and wouldn’t consider otherwise.

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

I first learned this recipe via FaceTime with my boyfriend and his brother translating. Talk about comedy listening to two guys who don’t cook translating cooking instructions. It took a while to perfect it and is still not quite the same as Mama Huizar’s. But, each time I make them they get better and better. You can find all of the ingredients at a Mexican style market like Top Value or Superior if you live in LA. It took a while for me to find the chiles but now I just keep them on hand.

Ingredients:
6 Dried California Chiles
6 Dried Guajillo Chiles
5 Dried Puya Chiles
4 Dried Chile de Arbol
8 Small Tomatillos, skins removed and cleaned
1 Triangle of Mexican Chocolate
1 Clove Garlic
1 Dry Orange Peel about 1″ x 1″ (I slice a piece off of an orange and place it in the toaster oven for about 20 seconds)
1″ Piece of Cinnamon Stick
3 Whole Cloves
8 Whole Peppercorns
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Salt
1-1.5 Cups Water
2 Tbsp. Corn Starch
1 bay leaf
Corn Tortillas
Olive Oil
Cotija Cheese and Mozzarella Cheese shredded and mixed in equal parts

Instructions:
Cover the following with water and boil for 4 minutes after water comes to a boil or until soft:
6 Dried California Chiles
6 Dried Guajillo Chiles
5 Dried Puya Chiles
4 Dried Chile de Arbol
8 Small Tomatillos, skins removed and cleaned
Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Remove the above from water and add to a blender with the following:
1 Triangle of Mexican Chocolate
1 Clove Garlic
1 Dry Orange Peel about 1″ x 1″ (I place mine in the toaster oven for about 20 seconds)
1″ Piece of Cinnamon Stick
3 Whole Cloves
8 Whole Peppercorns
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Salt
1-1.5 Cups Water

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Blend until fully mixed and smooth and add:
2 Tbsp. Corn Starch to thicken, pulse to combine

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Put enchilada sauce in a saucepan with 1 bay leaf and bring to a simmer.

Heat about 1/2 cup of Olive Oil in a pan. Mama Huizar uses Canola Oil, but it messes up my stomach so I substitute Olive Oil.

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Add tortilla to oil and lightly fry both sides until just before crispy. It needs to be fried long enough so it doesn’t fall apart when you place the tortilla into the enchilada sauce but not too long that you can’t roll it up. You may need to test a few to see what works for you.

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Drop tortilla into Enchilada Sauce and coat all sides.

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Place tortilla on plate and put cheese on top third.

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Roll up tortilla to make enchilada.

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

Sprinkle top with cheese and enjoy! We picked up rice and beans from a local Mexican restaurant for $2. I still haven’t mastered Mama Huizar’s delicious fluffy Mexican Rice, but I promise to post about it as soon as I do.

Mama Huizar's Enchiladas

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Gluten Free Walnut Bread Crusty Boule

I found this gluten free bread recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Mintes A Day a couple of years ago. After trying all of the gluten free grocery store breads I could find I wasn’t satisfied. The grocery store brands had no flavor, were dry, crumbled too easily, and didn’t have the texture of the bread I used to love before I discovered my gluten intolerance. So, when I made this bread for the first time I was ecstatic. It has the texture and consistency of premium fresh baked bread and is so delicious. The recipe is super easy. There is a lot of waiting and planning but very little hands on time. Believe me, it’s worth it. It’s especially good fresh and warm out of the oven. After making the basic recipe several times, I started experimenting and making different versions.

Gluten Free Walnut Bread

My favorites are jalapeño cheddar, olive, and walnut breads. I follow the directions exactly as the website lists except I cut the salt in half. Here is how you make the walnut bread:

I don’t have a plastic bucket like the original recipe calls for so this is what my dough looks like when I put it in the fridge. I typically make the dough the day before I want to bake the bread.

Gluten Free Walnut Bread

Use about a grapefruit size piece of the dough and mix gently with 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Shape dough into a loaf and smooth top with wet fingers. Let the dough sit out on a piece of parchment paper covered slightly with a piece of plastic wrap for 1.5 hours.

Gluten Free Walnut Bread

30 minutes before baking, place Le Creuset pot into the oven and set temperature to 500 degrees. Place the dough and parchment paper into the heated pot like this. The pot is very hot and I have a scar from not being careful once and barely touching my arm on the rim of the pot.

Gluten Free Walnut Bread

Place lid on pot and bake bread for 20 minutes. Remove lid and reduce heat to 450 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven.

Gluten Free Walnut Bread

Enjoy!
Gluten Free Walnut Bread

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Roasted Chicken

A couple of years ago I decided one day that I wanted to roast a whole chicken. I don’t know why it sounded good that day but I am so glad I did. I have to be honest I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I had a mental block about cooking a whole chicken and thought it would be way too hard. I thought it was something only real cooks could do. Boy was I wrong. It is really easy and great for leftovers for lunch throughout the week. The chicken comes out so moist and delicious. And, because prep time is only about 15 minutes and the chicken roasts in the oven for about 1.5 hours, it makes it a super easy dinner. In case you haven’t read my previous posts about roasting, it’s just a fancy word for sits in the oven for a really long time while you do nothing whatsoever.

Perfect Roasted Chicken

This is the recipe I use from Martha Stewart. I follow the instructions exactly, but here are the basic steps.

Place onion slices on the bottom of your roasting pan.
IMG_0794

Place chicken on top of onions. Put garlic salt and pepper inside chicken.
IMG_0800

Add fresh thyme and pierced lemon.
IMG_0803

Cross legs and tie together with kitchen twine. Cover chicken with butter salt and pepper.
IMG_0805

Roast in oven for approx. 1.5 hours for a 6 lb. chicken.
IMG_0808

When breast temperature reaches 180 degrees and thigh reaches 190 degrees, it’s done. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Perfect Roasted Chicken

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Coconut Fried Chicken With Creamy Mango Sriracha Dipping Sauce {Gluten Free and Paleo Recipe}

This is a great 20 minute meal and I love coconut fried anything. This chicken is so good and makes a great meal or paleo appetizers for a party. The mango dipping sauce is delicious and easy. Recently i’ve noticed that anything fried in canola oil bothers my stomach so this was the first time I tried coconut oil to fry in and loved the results. I am going to try this from now on. I am a big fan of this unscented coconut oil and buy it on Amazon. It’s great for baking and, now I know, great for frying too.

Coconut Chicken with Creamy Mango Sriracha Dip Recipe

Ingredients:
1 lb Chicken Breast Strips
1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
1 Cup Coconut Oil for frying

For The Sauce:
1 Mango, sliced
1 Tbsp Honey
1/3 Cup Coconut Milk
3-4 Drops Sriracha Sauce

Instructions:
1. Melt the coconut oil in a 2-3″ deep pan and slowly bring the temperature to 350°
2. Place the chicken strips into a bowl with a couple of pinches of salt, fresh ground pepper, and cayenne pepper. Toss the strips to coat them in the seasoning, and set them aside.
3. Set up 3 bowls side by side and place coconut flour with a pinch of salt and pepper in the 1st bowl, beaten eggs in the 2nd bowl, and shredded coconut in the 3rd bowl.
4. Dredge one strip at a time into flour, dip it into the beaten eggs, and then into the shredded coconut. Coat chicken well for each step.
5. Fry the strips in batches of 4-5 strips at a time for about 1 ½ – 2 minutes. Turn them very gently with tongs until they are a deep, golden color. Remove from oil and place onto paper towels or a cooling rack to drain.
6. To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Enjoy!

Coconut Chicken with Creamy Sriracha Mango Dipping Sauce

This recipe was inspired by this recipe.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Popsicle Recipe for Zoku {Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo}

This is by far my favorite popsicle recipe for my Zoku Quick Pop Maker and for some reason I always seem to like to make it around Christmas time. There is something about the holidays that makes me crave peppermint. These are delicious and super healthy plus a way better alternative to any sugar filled popsicle. And with the Zoku, you can have dessert ready in minutes.

Ingredients
1 Can Coconut Milk
1/3 Cup Fresh Mint
1/3 Cup Honey {agave nectar for vegan}
1 tsp Peppermint Extract (or add more mint instead)
Dark Chocolate – look for chocolate that contains 70% or higher Cacao

Mint Chocolate Chip Popsicles {paleo, gluten free, dairy free, vegan}

Instructions:
1. Mix everything except the Chocolate in a blender completely until smooth. The Blendtec or Vitamix blenders are perfect for something like this because they emulsify the mint leaves and you don’t see any small pieces of mint when it’s done blending.
2. Microwave chocolate in a measuring cup in increments of 20 seconds until melted. Or, chop chocolate chips into pieces and pour it into the zoku with the popsicle mix.
3. Drizzle chocolate on top of the popsicles as soon as they come out of the Zoku.

Zoku Time 8-10 Minutes in Freezer

Enjoy!

MInt Chocolate Chip Popsicle Recipe for Zoku {Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo}

Mint Chocolate Chip Popsicle Recipe For Zoku {Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo}

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Easy Mussels {Gluten Free and Paleo Recipe}

I do not cook much seafood at home but love to make mussels especially in the winter. One more reason to love mussels is they are super high in omega-3’s, brain-boosting, cholesterol-clearing good fats. Almost as high in Omega-3’s as Salmon. Always buy mussels from a reputable fish supplier. And, when you bring them home, put them in a bowl in the fridge. Do not keep them in a bag because they need air. Before you cook them, rinse thoroughly with cold water. Inspect each mussel and throw away any cracked ones. And after they are cooked, throw away any that do not open on their own. Mussels are super duper easy to make. And, fast too. I like to serve mine in small vintage Le Creuset pots I found on e-bay. They keep the broth and mussels really warm and the variety of colors make for fun table settings.

Easy Mussels Recipe

Ingredients:
1 Stick Grass Fed Butter
1 Tbsp Garlic, chopped
1 Shallot, diced
2 Cups Dry White Wine, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
2 lbs Black Mussels, de-bearded

For the side:
1-2 Diced Jalapeños
1 Diced Tomato
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley or Basil
Lemons
Tapatio

Easy Mussels Recipe

Instructions:
1. Melt the butter in a large pot.
2. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté until soft but not burned
3. Add white wine and bring to a simmer.
4. Add the mussels and cover pot with lid. Cook for about 2 minutes.
5. Shake the pot and cook another 2 minutes.
6. Place any mussels that have opened into bowls.
7. Cover the pot and cook until all of the mussels have opened, about 1 minute.
8. Throw away any mussels that have not opened. Cover the mussels to keep warm.

Serves 3-4. Enjoy!

Easy Mussels Recipe

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Pomegranate Pistachio Guacamole {Gluten Free and Paleo Recipe}

A few weeks ago I was at the OC Mix having lunch with my brother at Taco Maria. The guacamole was so good I had to go back and have it again. I love that they mix pistachio’s and fruit in with the guacamole. The combination of flavors is delicious. The first time I went they had grapes and pistachios and the 2nd time, they had persimmons, grapes, and pistachios. When I made my version, I decided to swap out the persimmons and grapes with pomegranates.

Pomegranate Pistachio Guacamole Recipe

Here is what the Taco Maria guacamole looks like:

Taco Maria Guacamole OC Mart Mix

Here is how you make my variation of Taco Maria’s guacamole.

Ingredients:
2 Large Avocados
1 Tbsp Chopped Garlic
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Cilantro
2 Jalapeño Peppers Chopped (Reduce or eliminate to reduce spice)
Juice of 1 Lime
Pistachios, shells removed
Seeds of 1 Pomegranate
Tortilla chips or sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, and celery for paleo.

Instructions:
1. Cut avocados in half and remove seeds.
2. Mash avocado in a bowl.
3. Add juice of 1 lime, 1 Tbsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp Cilantro, 1-2 chopped Jalapeños, and stir.
4. Top with pistachios and pomegranate.

Enjoy!

Pomegranate Pistachio Guacamole Recipe

For parties, serve in individual ramekins like this:

Pomegranate Pistachio Guacamole 5

Pomegranate Pistachio Guacamole

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