Monday, April 29, 2013

Pizza Review: Project Pie

The story of this pizza review begins back in December, when my new friend Lauren asked to bring a couple of her good friends, Sharon and Ben, to the holiday party I was hosting.  I didn't mind because we had plenty of food and, after just moving to San Diego, I was low on the friend count.  It ended up being great, because it turns out that Sharon and Ben are awesome!  At some point during the party, Sharon and Dana and a few other people started discussing pizza in San Diego, and pretty quickly a list of pizza-to-be-tried was developed.

For a while, all of us girls were getting together every week to watch the bachelor, but then the season ended. My life felt a little emptier without Sean and a room full of crazy women on tv, but mostly, I missed getting together with my friends.  A few of us decided that, to fill the void, we needed to start going through our pizza list, and we had our first pizza night last week.  We headed over to Project Pie which just opened a few months ago in my neighborhood.  I had a heard a bunch of good things already, but to be honest, the fact that I could walk to the restaurant made it a winner in my book before I even went inside.

Project Pie is a custom pizza place where you can order from a handful of pizzas or make your own.  It's kind of like chipotle, where they slide your pizza along a counter and you can add whatever ingredients your heart stomach desires.

They start with the sauce- you can get tomato sauce or olive oil for a white pizza.

Then you can choose your meat, vegetables, and other fun stuff like pesto.  I got a white pizza with mozzarella and gorgonzola, bacon, artichoke hearts, garlic, and jalapenos.  So fun to make your own!

When you finish adding delicious ingredients to your pie, they pop it in the oven and call your name when it's ready.  They also offered sodas made with real cane sugar- so good!


It was a cool place, but pretty loud.  We were able to snag a big round table where we could fit all eight of us, but you could only really hear the people right next to you.  The walls had quotes all over them, which were fun to check out.  My favorite was:  "If someone breaks your heart, just punch them in the face.  Seriously.  Punch them in the face and go get some ice cream" - Frank Ocean.

Of course, the company was excellent... 

Courtney and Dana
Kat and Lauren
Sharon and me
I missed the last two people in our group (Allie and a new friend)!  Forgive me my bad picture-taking!

I couldn't help but order the nutella and banana pizza strips for us all to share.  So delicious!

Overall, I thought the whole experience was really fun.  The pizza was great and fairly cheap and it was nice knowing exactly what I was eating.  I thought the place was pretty loud, which made for a fun/laid back experience, but on the other hand, I like being able to hear what my friends are saying, so that was less awesome.  Did I mention I can walk there?!  Again, this is probably the best part of the restaurant in my opinion.  I will for sure be back- I saw people walking out with orders to go and I can definitely see that happening in my future...

Sharon thought the pizza was surprisingly delicious and very speedy.  I agree with her, though, that getting through the line was a little chaotic and confusing, but she gave Project Pie two thumbs up!

Dana was a huge fan and appreciated that the pizza was on the healthier side (minimal grease, lots of healthy toppings, thin crust, etc.) She thought the sauce and dough had the perfect amount of flavor and liked the variety of toppings, the quickness, and the price!

We've got our next pizza night on the calendar, so stay tuned for more reviews!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Grandma Jane's Jam Filled Cookies

When I was in undergrad, my grandma Jane sent me a box of her jam-filled cookies- it made my week.  I remember that my dad was really jealous- "She hasn't made me those cookies in years!!"

My grandma had the most beautiful handwriting- something I, sadly, did not inherit.
Grandma Jane's Jam Filled Cookies

1/2 cup shortening (like Crisco)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

From my grandma's recipe:  Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat well.  Add sifted dry ingredients- mix thoroughly. Chill.  [I refrigerated the dough over night after rolling it into a ball and covering it with plastic wrap.]

Roll 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured board.

Cut with round cookie cutter. [I used a wine glass, but my cookies ended up being HUGE.]  Place light filling on half of cookies.  Top with remaining rounds.

[I used a bunch of different jams (and then felt required to eat a bunch of different cookies to try all the different flavors, which couldn't be identified from the outside of the cookie...).]

[Side note: they sell Jackie's Jams at our local farmers market, and I'm totally obsessed.  I used Strawberry Rhubarb and Mango Raspberry in the cookies.  I also love their Pumpkin Jam and I destroyed a jar of their Apricot Jam just this past week- so good!]

Press edges together with a fork.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet- 400 degrees- 10 min.  Prick-slash tops before baking.

[As you can see from the picture above, these puppies expand like crazy in the oven.  My pre-baked cookies appeared to be the right size- I just wasn't prepared for them to double in the oven! I would try using a champagne glass to cut the cookies next time (or actually buy a small circular cookie cutter).]

Baking these cookies will always make me think of my grandma.  I'm so glad she shared the recipe with me.  Thanks Grandma Jane!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! I saw this comic today and it made me smile.  I feel like that's how I celebrated today.  I went for an 8 mile run this morning and really enjoyed the evidence of spring that was all around me.  At least for the first half of the run.  Then I was just thinking about how I should have run at 7am and not 9am because it was already 85 degrees out. Ugh.  

I'm still up in the SF Bay Area today and it seems like a good place to be for Earth Day.  I always think of the San Francisco area as being much greener than Southern California, but that's not always true (although I miss having compost collected by the city- there is only so much my little composter can hold!)

There is currently a huge debate about how best to use California's water supply for the growing population. (Sidenote: I got to work on a really cool project for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, BDCP, which is looking at how to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and maintain water supply.  We modeled the future habitat evolution of the whole delta to help determine how much land could be restored and what kind of habitat it might provide.  Cool stuff.)  I always thought (and I think most Northern Californians do) that Southern California was a big ol' desert that was stealing all of our water to fill their swimming pools and water their lawns and that this was the cause of all of California's water problems.  But this isn't true.  In fact, Southern California water usage is the same as it was in the 1980s despite millions of new residents, thanks to the implementation of efficient practices and technologies.  Crazy, right?!

This figure, from the California Department of Water Resources, shows where the majority of water in the state is coming from (the blue bars) and where it is going (the red, peach, and green bars).  

It turns out all of the water in Northern California is not going to the pools and lawns in LA!  The majority of water in the state is being used for agriculture in the central valley.  Very interesting.

More proof that Southern California is learning to be green? It's illegal to wash your car in San Diego unless you are parked on a grassy area.  Yes, it's illegal to wash your car in your own driveway.  I know, my mind was blown too.  But this helps keep polluted water from entering the streams, rivers, and other water ways.  I don't think they have this law in the Bay Area (although I could be wrong...)

So to conclude, although we don't have composting in SoCal, maybe I haven't moved to the dark side after all...  We're just a different shade of green ;) 


Friday, April 19, 2013

Some things

1. What is going on in Boston?!  Why are bad people hurting others when they don't even know them?  I'm sending my thoughts to Boston this week and I will remain hopeful that all the good out there will overcome the evil. 

2. It's weird to me that it's spring here and it's only early April.  I think it's still snowing in some places...

I see these pink flowers everywhere along the sides of the road

3. I'm going to San Francisco this week to get the first step of a tooth implant done.  This means I'm getting a screw drilled into my jaw bone.  Yeah, I'm getting screwed.

After the thumb incident and since I'm not being put under (seriously, right?!), I decided I needed something to keep me sane.  I imagine it will be hard for the dentist to do his job if I'm hysterically crying.  So I called and they sent me a prescription for anti-anxiety medicine.  I am SO excited.  I know that sounds bad.  I'm just excited to not be terrified and act like a fool.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

4. I've started going to Pure Barre, and I'm obsessed!  Have I mentioned it before?  It's fantastic- kind of a combination of ballet and pilates with good music in the background.  The teachers get us in these ridiculous positions ("Heels together, knees apart, grab the bar, squat down, lean back, now wrap your left leg behind your body") and then we do itty bitty movements ("Lower down an inch, and hold.  Now back an inch and up an inch and hold").  There is also a lot of hip thrusting (pelvic tilting, as we called it in synchro), which when I think about it too much, seems really dirty, but they call it "tucking" (like sucking your abs in and rounding your tail bone under) so it's a little more innocent.  My abs feel awesome and I definitely see tone in places I haven't before (like I have a butt now?!).  There have been days when my side butt has hurt so bad and I didn't even know it could.  I'm loving it!
5. I had some other thoughts I wanted to include here, but I just took the anti-axiety drugs and I'm feeling a little woozy.  Tomorrow I'm going to talk about one of my favorite places... the Exploratorium

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meal Planning

I've been doing a lot of cooking in the last month or so because I discovered this fabulous meal planning website called The Fresh 20.  Every Friday, they put out a list of 20 ingredients (the shopping list) that will make five meals for the week.  I've cooked with chicken, ground turkey, turkey sausage, (skipped the shrimp), and a bunch of different types of fish, and I've been really impressed.  I even made a rockin' flank steak with my grill pan (which I had never used before).  Check out those fancy-schmancy grill lines!

The recipes are set up so that you can do things over the weekend that will help you prep the meals for later in the week (like chopping vegetables and cooking rice).  Then you use the ingredients in different combinations to create 5 different meals.

As a single lady living on my own, I usually cut the recipes in half (they tends to make 4-6 servings) and then I have dinner and lunch for the next day.  Some of the recipes have been a little more time intensive or end up not-so-good, but the majority are quick, easy, and tasty.

Pesto turkey burgers with sweet potato nuggets
Since I just feed myself and I try to be social and go out and eat with other people from time to time, I don't usually make all 5 meals straight.  It usually takes me a week and a half or two weeks to get through them all.  And sometime, if a recipe looks really good, I'll make the whole 4-6 servings and eat that for the next 3 days.  So I'm not actually cooking every night.

The recipes are also on the healthier side of things.  The weekly menu includes the nutrition break down for each meal which is super helpful.  Then I can decide to cut a serving in half or two-thirds if it seems like a little too much.  I even cooked (and ate!) some broccoli in one of my meals. Sidenote: I hate broccoli with a fiery passion. Fact.

Do you see those little green trees?!
I also feel like I'm becoming a better cook just because I'm doing it a lot more.  Plus it makes me feel fancy- I mean, I made ginger chicken lettuce wraps this week!

Chicken fajita burritos anyone?

I imagine if I was cooking for more than just me, this would be even more of a lifesaver.  While I, personally, can eat the same thing over and over again, this planning lets me use a few ingredients to create a variety of dishes- and things I'd even be willing to serve to others. 

I'll try to share some of the better recipes I've found in the next few weeks, but as I mentioned, the best part is how all of the recipes in a week come together.  So check it out at The Fresh 20 if you think it might be your thing.

Have you ever used any sort of meal-planning before?  Ever tried planning like this on your own?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cool Cat

Someone had a birthday recently in my house, and it wasn't me... 

My little girl is one!  So grown up!  And yes, I know this officially makes me a crazy cat lady (or continues it) but I feel like it should be recognized, because this little kitty is one cool cat.

She even got a birthday card!

I definitely paused at the mailbox when I saw the letter addressed to Fiona c/o Lindsey.  I started wondering what she's been doing while I'm at work...

I never thought I'd love a cat so much (I mean, she ain't no dog...) but I've definitely grown quite attached.

She's still a trouble-maker...

But she has grown so much!

Happy birthday Fiona!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eggs Benedict Casserole

Hi, I'm Lindsey.  I used to post on this blog back in the day.  I guess it's been a while...

I spent Easter this year with my aunt and her family.  My sister came down too, so our poor parents were left with no one to hide Easter eggs for this year.  (And yes, even though we're 28 and 22, they still hide Easter eggs for us!)  I was excited to spend a little more time with my family down here and to take advantage of how close we live together.

My cousins' kids
 I was also excited to join my aunt's egg hunt- she hides cash! 

The grown-up egg hunt (we had a separate hunt for the kids)

This is what happens when you don't find the eggs from the year before- you get moldy dollars!
I was the big winner and found 2 golden eggs for a total of $20! Score!
For our brunch, I wanted to make Emily's berry crumble since it's vegan and gluten free (as are some of my cousins), but since it has almond meal in it, I had to skip it because my other cousins are allergic to nuts!  So I decided to go with the Eggs Benedict Casserole that my mom made for Easter last year which is neither vegan nor gluten free.  Oh well- you can't win them all.

Eggs Benedict Casserole

For the casserole:
6 English muffins
10 oz Canadian bacon
8 eggs + 4 egg whites
2 cups milk
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika

For the Hollandaise sauce:
1/2 cup butter
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Spray a 9 x 13 in pan (or something of a similar size) with cooking oil. Cut up the English muffins and Canadian bacon into bite size pieces (about 1 in squares).

Spread the pieces evenly in the pan.

Whisk the eggs and egg whites (set aside the yolks for the hollandaise sauce) and then add in the milk and onion powder. 

Add the egg mix to the bread and bacon.

Place the casserole in the refrigerator overnight so that the muffins can absorb the eggs.

You can either make the sauce when you prepare the casserole or make it the next day.  I made it the night before and just reheated it while the casserole was cooking at my aunt's house.  Start by microwaving the butter in a microwavable bowl/measuring cup for 1 minute or until almost melted.  Stir until the rest of the butter is melted.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. 

Once they are well-mixed, add the yolks to the butter along with the cream and lemon juice. Whisk thoroughly.  Microwave the sauce for 2 minutes, stopping every 20 seconds to stir.

I doubled the sauce recipe (which I don't think is necessary- we had so much extra sauce!), so a 2 cup measuring container is probably big enough- with the doubled recipe, I probably should have found something bigger...

If you're making the sauce the night before, wait for it to cool down, then cover it with plastic wrap and pop it in the refrigerator. 

The next day, sprinkle the paprika over the casserole, cover it with foil, and cook it in a preheated (375 degrees) oven for 40 minutes. 

When it's done, remove the foil and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.  The bacon should get crispy and the eggs should brown slightly. Meanwhile, if you made the sauce the night before, microwave it for 3 minutes, stirring once- but don't let it boil. 

Cut up the casserole into squares once it has cooled and serve with the Hollandaise sauce.  I got about 20 pieces out of mine, but you can cut the pieces as large or as small as you like.