Monday, April 28, 2014

chicken & greens soup w/ cannelini beans and sweet potato

The past year or two, I've tried to cut back daily cooking time by making one big batch of something on a day when my schedule is more free. Soup-stews work great for incorporating lots of vegetables and having a huge vat of something available in the fridge.

I like to buy organic chicken drumsticks from Costco and make variations of this chicken & greens soup-stew depending on what else I have in the kitchen. You can use whatever vegetables you want, though the staples I like to keep are carrots, onions, greens and plenty of minced garlic. The recipe is very adjustable though - some substitution ideas are using kale, spinach, garbanzo beans, canned tomatoes... plenty of options!

Sorry. Hard to get nice pictures when everything's all steamy.

Chicken & Greens Soup-Stew with Cannelini Beans & Sweet Potato


  • 1/2 TB organic coconut oil
  • Splash of grapeseed oil
  • 1 TB dried herbs (I use Costco's Organic No-Salt Seasoning)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/2 bundle of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • ~8 medium carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1 lb of organic chicken drumsticks (~8-10 drumsticks)
  • 16 oz stew greens (I get the southern greens bag from Trader Joe's)
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & rough cut
  • 2 15 oz cans of cannelini beans (white kidney beans)


  1. Prepare vegetables, rough chopping celery, onion and peeled carrots.
  2. Heat up oil in a large soup/stew pot. When a sprinkle of water sizzles in the pot, add herbs, spices and minced garlic. Stir for a minute or two.
  3. When spices are fragrant and garlic is lightly golden browned, add in chopped onion, carrots and celery. Stir and cover to let vegetables sweat.
  4. Check and stir every few minutes until vegetables are slightly transluscent, then add in chicken drumsticks. Stir to cover chicken in spices and veggies. Cover for ~10 minutes.
  5. Add enough water until almost everything is covered and turn up heat to let soup boil.
  6. Add in whole bag of stew greens, poking and pressing them down to be submerged in the water. Once soup comes to a boil, bring down to a simmer for ~40 minutes.
  7. Add in sweet potato ~20 minutes before soup is done if you want them to keep some of their chunk shape. If you want less fuss, you can add them with the southern greens, but just know that they will probably break up to become part of the soup broth by the end of cooking time.
  8. Add in cannelini beans 10 minutes before soup is done.
  9. Stir and add any extra salt or pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with brown rice, crusty bread or enjoy a big bowl alone!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

easy dinner: spaghetti squash w cheesy marinara, veggies & almonds

Just made this this week, and I love the health and ease of the dish! I've been staring in dismay at my recent number on the scale, and it feels really good to go back to homemade and healthy rather than the onslaught of eating out I've been suffering/indulging.

The great thing about spaghetti squash, other than it being a healthy replacement for pasta, is that it's practically fool-proof! You cut it (or not), put it in the oven and leave it to do its thing. Pair with a side of leafy greens, cucumber salad or some whole grain bread, and you've got a delicious meal at the ready.

Plus, because the strands become so voluminous, you easily have another meal with the other half, which you can dress up any other way, making this a perfect one-person meal!

Spaghetti Squash with Cheesy Marinara, Roasted Vegetables & Almonds


  • Spaghetti squash
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Spices of choice, to taste
    • I used salt, pepper & Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning
  • Marinara sauce
    • Again, I use Kirkland marinara - <3 because it has no sugar or sweetener filler
  • Roasted/sauteed vegetables of choice 
    • I had some leftover onions, mushrooms and eggplant
  • Slice of cheese of choice
  • Handful of almonds (~12)


  1. Roast spaghetti squash for 30-40 min according to instructions here. Feel free to cut back on amount of oil - I use a small spoonful of grapeseed oil in each half and rub it around.
  2. If you have space and time, peel & chop vegetables of choice to roast alongside the squash.
  3. After roasting time, take out and carefully flip over, using a utensil or oven-mitted hand.
  4. If saving other half, take out and put to side to cool, then store.
  5. Fill with roasted vegetables, top with marinara sauce and cheese. Sprinkle almonds on top.
  6. Roast again for 10-15 minutes, until cheese bubbles.
  7. Carefully take out and enjoy, in the squash or out on a plate! I like adding some extra fresh ground black pepper and drizzling some extra virgin olive oil on top.
Feel good indulging in some healthy deliciousness!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

deal #oftheday(s): baskin robbins scoopfest, tues 22nd - thurs 24th

Going on today, only until Thursday!

If you scream ice cream, Baskin Robbins is holding a three-day "Scoop Fest" in honor of Sony Pictures' The Amazing Spider-Man 2™.

$1, $2, and $3 scoops, as well as Spiderman-inspired ice cream flavors, will be available throughout the promotion. Anyone with a sweet tooth or a Spidie-crazed child is encouraged to "swing on by" (I know, I know x).

Daily prizes are also being given away all month, with 3 grand prize winners winning a bunch of memorabilia, but most importantly, a whole YEAR of free ice cream! More details at the official website here.

HOW TO ENTER: During the Contest Period, an eligible Entrant can enter the Contest on Twitter or Instagram. To enter the Contest using Twitter, the Entrant must Tweet a photograph of the Entrant performing his or her interpretation of a Spider-Man pose, including the hashtag "#BRHero." To enter the Contest using Instagram, the Entrant must post a photograph of the Entrant performing his or her interpretation of a Spider-Man pose, including the hashtag "#BRHero." An Entrant must be a follower of @BaskinRobbins on the respective social media platform used to enter the Contest (e.g., Twitter or Instagram) at the time of entry and continuing until May 30, 2014 for winner notification purposes to be eligible to win/claim a prize. These Official Rules can be found at

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

my "after Gerhard Richter" demo

A couple weekends ago, I went to my local Blick Art Store and got to do a few really fun demos, learning about artists like Alexander Calder, known creator of the mobile, and Wassily Kandinsky, credited with the first purely abstract paintings.

All incredible artists, but demo-wise, I had the most fun imitating Gehrard Richter (who is actually still alive!), a German artist whose known technique uses layers upon layers of paint squeegeed across a large surface. One of his paintings received the record price for a living artist at an art auction in 2012. I got to do mine on a much smaller, reasonably-sized canvas, using the store's demo tempera paints in red, yellow, blue and green:

Closer shots of  parts in detail.
As I squeegeed across, it was a lot of fun seeing what stayed underneath and what appeared above in the paint. Most other demos were done on paper, which also came out with some beautiful effects. There wasn't the luxury of spending hours to create a series of layers, but it was really interesting seeing how the initial paint slopped on to the canvas left a remnant pattern even when wiped across.

Best part about this demo was that it was fast, looked fantastic and practically fail-proof. Even the paint that got squeegeed off ended up looking kind of amazing.

Also, I went to Europe last summer in 2013, and one of my favorite cities was Cologne in Germany. They have a staggering cathedral called the Dom, and I didn't realize that it was Richter who was connected to one of the stained glass windows in the historic structure! The thing is huge and consists of hundreds of squares of colored glass randomly assorted together:

So if you'd like to try your hand at some modern abstract art and also give your home an interesting new piece to hang up, I kid you not, this may be the way to go.

Works by the actual master:

Huge squeegee contraption in use.

Cute man! Now if you happen to sit by him on a plane, you'll know what he looks like.

The other artists were plenty cool too, so I think I'll do follow-up posts sharing their work and my demos from them as well.

So, what do you think? Any hope of a future for me in modern art? ;)

Leave a comment below with your own modern/abstract art experiences, if you'd like to see the other demos or what you think of my little foray piece!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

what sweetness is this?

The happies from almost a year ago,
back in October of last year!
Another piece of happy photo news!

Remember back in the day when my photo was featured on the Redbubble front page?

Well, a mini return has been made - I just received notice that my work has been featured in the most recent Redbubble blog post highlighting inspirational travel photography!

I'm really happy and honored to be included in such a beautiful collection of photos:

Guess something about the giraffe stuck. But I have been posting up new photography from my recent trip to Europe, so be sure to check my site for new photos. :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

good deal: $1.99 incl. shipping at!

This wandered past my eye on the interweb and, deciding to check it out, was pleasantly surprised!

Cardstore is like an online Hallmark that holds a nice blend of contemporary and mainstream designs, with a lot of great customization options as well. You can include your own photos not only on the front but on the inside of the card as well. I walked through the process, and the online layout is appealing and easy to use.

IMO, $1.99 for a customized card is pretty sweet, and the deal includes shipping, though tax is added (so the final came out to be a little over $2). And the code applies to up to 100 cards :O. Belated birthdays, just because's, summer catch-up, someone on your mind...

According to the site, Friendship Day is August 4, so use the code and try Cardstore out before the promotion ends on Monday the 29th!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

may shenanigans: current starbucks promo + upcoming california strawberry festival!

Go to your local green mermaid and get your frap on! Happening now and lasting through Sunday, May 12, Starbucks is offering half off all frappuccino's every day from 3-5 p.m. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing, placing a large-size venti around $2.50 at the most. Yesterday when I was riproaring thirsty, I picked one up and guzzled it down in 15 minutes in the car. :X

Some flavors you won't see written on the menu but are definitely there. My favorite is the green tea frappuccino, I try to get it lightened with either nonfat or soy milk and I ask for the sugar-free vanilla syrup. I also had their Chai frappuccino recently, which is nice if you want something sweet with a little spice, though to be honest I prefer the one at Coffee Bean. Seems more genuinely flavorful. I've heard a lot of good things about the Vanilla Bean flavor but have yet to try it. Maybe that's what I'll grab today...

 Also, the California Strawberry Festival is taking soon from May 18-19! I went to this back in my senior of high school, and it was a lot of fun.

Okay. I'll be real. I love strawberries, and this was a love even more ardent back in those younger years. So maybe you will not be as into a single fruit-venerating event.

But at the end of the festival day we bought two huge (I'm talking like double Costco-size) flats of these delectable, perfectly ripe, ruby red strawberries for soooooooo cheap. I think they are just giving discounts in full by the end as they try to sell the rest of their produce. That seems to happen at any event, so I don't think it should have changed too much within the past several years.

Every year they have the Berry Blast-Off, their strawberry recipe competition. The nice thing about that is any entrant gets a free complimentary ticket to the festival! Unfortunately the deadline was April 30, so by now you'll probably have to buy a ticket, but it's good to keep in mind for next year.

Here's their Facebook page. They've developed their event every year since I went back in 200something, so there's probably a lot more to do than the goofy pictures we took on bales of hay back in the day. Consider it for a weekend outing!

I wanted to share these events earlier, as the frappuccino deal has been on since May 3, but life has just been crazy. I'll actually be traveling in Europe for a month start next week. This trip totally snuck on me and I'm paying planning-purgatory for it now. Excuse me while I enter back into the whirlpool of continental research.

Have fun, get your frap on and enjoy strawberry season!