Wednesday, August 20, 2014

quinoa muffins with chocolate, banana and coconut


AMALGAM: CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ME: Thank you so much! I'm truly thrilled. David and I are so excited.

AMALGAM: How are you feeling?!

ME: Great!

AMALGAM: You're so chubby already!

ME: Excuse me?

AMALGAM: Wow--I didn't pop that much until 25 weeks AT LEAST. Here, let me show you a picture.

ME: …Oh. Yeah, you looked great.

AMALGAM: How are you feeling?

ME: A-Ok!

AMALGAM: Did you get sick at all?

ME: Nope. I was really lucky that way.

AMALGAM: Do you know what you're having?

ME: A human!

AMALGAM: No, silly.  I mean a boy? Or a girl?

ME: A boy.

AMALGAM: Oh! How fun! Boys are AMAZING. *Whispers* SOOOOO much easier than girls.

ME: Bonus!

AMALGAM: How are you feeling?

ME: Super!

AMALGAM: When was the first day of your last period?

ME: What now?

AMALGAM: Do you know the day you conceived? Like the exact day you guys did it?

ME: Um. Well, there was a range of days in there.

AMALGAM: How are you feeling?

ME: Awesome!

AMALGAM: Was your pregnancy planned?

ME: I don't even know your last name and I just met you.

AMALGAM: I just thought maybe you've been trying forEVER and so you're really relieved you're FINALLY pregnant.

ME: Again, I've never seen you before five minutes ago.

AMALGAM: Turn around.

ME: Hmm?

AMALGAM: Do a 360, Lady! Nice! I'll bet your husband likes that extra back there. More to grab onto. Ha ha ha!

ME: I hope you're right?

AMALGAM: How are you feeling?

ME: Tip-top!

AMALGAM: Wait: how far along are you?

ME: 21 weeks.

AMALGAM: Wow, you still look amazing.

ME: Still?

AMALGAM: Any names picked out?

ME: Believe it or not, I think we've got him named already.


ME: We're not really telling anyone the name.

AMALGAM: What? Why the hell not?

ME: We've decided to keep it under wraps until he's born.

AMALGAM: You can tell ME though, right? I won't tell anyone.

ME: We're gonna keep it a secret for now.

AMALGAM: Boo! Tell me the name!!!

ME: Sorry.

AMALGAM: *Pouts awkwardly*

ME: …

AMALGAM: You feel good?

ME: Yep!

AMALGAM: You pooping?

ME: …That's…wow…

AMALGAM: Are you guys gonna have another one?

ME: …I think we'll start with the one.

AMALGAM: It'd be great if you could have a girl next.

ME: I'll see what I can do.

AMALGAM: You might wanna get on that though, if you know what I mean.

ME: …

AMALGAM: Tick tock…*repeatedly pokes at wrist*

ME: I actually knew what you meant.

AMALGAM: Are you planning on natural childbirth? You HAVE to have a natural childbirth.

ME: It'd be awesome if it unfolded that way.

AMALGAM: Oh, just get the epidural, honey.

ME: …Ok...

AMALGAM: You HAVE to meet my doula! She's amazing.

ME: …Ok…

AMALGAM: And make sure you have your birth plan in order.

ME: …Ok...

AMALGAM: Did you know baby doctors secretly hate birth plans? They totally judge you for them. Just show up and roll with the punches.

ME: …Ok…

AMALGAM: How are you feeling?

ME: Like making muffins alone with my baby.

Quinoa Muffins with Chocolate, Banana, and Coconut
makes about 12

These took some trial and error to get right but were so worth the tinkering. They take a bit of planning (black bananas, leftover quinoa) but man, they are crazy delicious. I'm certain the quinoa and chocolate cancel each other out.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 super ripe (read: black) bananas, mashed with a fork
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup cooked quinoa (this is about 1/3 dry)
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
turbinado sugar (Sugar-In-The-Raw) for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and paper or grease a muffin tin. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk well and set aside. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the bananas and the eggs, mixing and scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the dry ingredient mixture a bit at a time, mixing until just combined. Stir in the coconut, quinoa and chocolate. Use an ice cream scoop to drop the batter into your muffin tins. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake for 20ish minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm for optimal deliciousness.

(Did you know you can also make a batch of these and freeze them? Bake muffins and cool completely. Then place them in a plastic freezer bag, squeezing as much of the air out as possible. When you're ready for a muffin, preheat oven to 350F, pop a muffin or two into a muffin tin and bake/warm until heated through.)


P.S. THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the kind words and congratulations! I am so blown away by all the support and love and I feel it ALL. You guys are the best ever. Giant hugs and love to you……………xo

Thursday, August 14, 2014

a little bit of gigantic news

Well, what do you know? In the best turn of events ever, I am pregnant. Miracle-style, after four years of trying and all we've been through, we were days (moments?) away from beginning an overwhelming, invasive, extensive, expensive hormone protocol for IVF and I got knocked up naturally the cycle before.

It really took me some time to wrap my head around it. For a while, I was in this surreal limbo. I had to keep reminding myself that I was Pregnant(!!) and also not Not Pregnant. There was a ton of momentum in that Not Pregnant story. And then poof! That story was finished. It shifted my perspective on all the other areas in my life where I've felt stuck. It ignited my faith in a visceral way that I've never experienced. Things can feel for so long like they're never gonna change and then one day, before your very eyes, they do. And then you gotta go get yourself a new story. 

It was two days after I found out about my pregnancy that we learned about Lena's cancer and within two more weeks she was gone. The timing was not lost on me. It was like she waited until we had this imminent new love before she chose to make her transition. My tag-team beloveds: one coming, one going. And as tumultous as it was during that time, having new life inside me and this upcoming adventure to anticipate was a blessing of a diversion from my pain over losing our sweet Lena girl.

As if my heart wasn't open before, now it's a wide-receiver. The littlest things touch me and bring me to instant tears. It's like the nail salon post times a million. I have so much to say about all of my experience so far but for now, I think I'll just leave it here. Except to say thank you so much for all of your support and love that were part of getting me to this now moment. Now: pass the kleenex, would you?


"Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty." -Brené Brown

P.S. Keeping in line with new beginnings, our baby BOY is due to arrive New Year's Day, 2015:)

Monday, August 11, 2014


Being a huge Jason Mraz fan, I entered to win free tickets to a secret concert he was giving that was being taped for The Artists Den, a PBS live-concert television show, to promote his new album, YES! I never do stuff like that, so when I won two tickets, I was gobsmacked. We arrived early to stand in a gigantic, snaking will-call line (the top-secret location turned out to be the beautiful Royce Hall on the UCLA campus) and I was so thrilled to be there that I wasn't even bothered by the girl behind us lecturing her companion on the perils of dairy for a solid hour. When we finally got to the front, a guy checked a list, handed us two tickets, and by the grace of the Jason Mraz gods, we were seated IN THE FOURTH ROW!

Needless to say, I was in heaven.

And we had the most fun, special night:)

The concert is airing on PBS stations this week so we just caught the televised version and saw our happy mugs on TV!

Hope you have a wonderful week...

P.S. You are loved:)

P.P.S. My other fave, Sara Bareilles, is writing a musical version of the film Waitress(!) and this is her singing a new song from the show…….*swoon*

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

baked zucchini fries

Hello darling people:)

We just returned from a decadent week-long Colorado mountain vacation. It felt so nourishing to be in that crisp mountain air and see such blue blues and green greens. And the trees! And the meadows! And the clouds! (Oh, how I wish Los Angeles could get itself some dreamy, cottony clouds. Can someone get on that?)

So now we're back to reality and business-as-usual. Case in point: DP and I said a teary goodbye to the gargantuan king size hotel bed and are back to slumming it in our queen. Last night I woke up in a panic when my foot ventured out .0001 millimeters from my side and hit a husband.

We're also (sniff, sob) back to not eating french fries every day. Which is a travesty.

I was Lutheran for a few childhood years (long story) and when I was 7 or 8, our church sponsored a Cambodian family of refugees who had escaped horrible conditions in their country. Somehow they wound up in Boulder, Colorado to attend our little church and I remember our family having a handful of social interactions with them. Once, we introduced them to McDonald's to show them how Americans eat (have you ever?). I will never forget the pained looks on their faces while they inspected and gingerly tried the food, trying to be polite. It was SO foreign to them and so small-minded of us to not only let fast food represent an entire country's cuisine, but assume they would be delighted by it. As a little girl, I remember showing the kids how to dip a french fry into a pile of delicious ketchup while they looked at me like I had three heads. Politely, they followed my lead and proceeded to hate it. One of them had to spit it out in a napkin. And as a 7 year old I could not wrap my head around the notion that a.) someone had never tried a fry with ketchup before and b.) they didn't like it.

That experience is so burned into my memory that I pretty much think of it every time I dip a french fry into ketchup. And seeing how many fries I ate last week, it's like that Cambodian family was right there on vacation with me.

So, okay. These baked zucchini fries aren't truffle-laden or even potato-laden but trust me when I say: they are seriously good. I think even new-to-the-USA Cambodians would like them.

Bonus: they smell SO good while baking--Like a pizza scratch-n-sniff sticker. Another thing that would be really odd to explain to Cambodian refugees. But you guys get it. I know you do.

Baked Zucchini Fries
serves 2-3

2 medium zucchini
2 eggs
juice of half a lemon
black pepper
1/4 t kosher salt
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (FYI: here is a great gluten-free version)
1 T flax meal (ground flax seeds)
heaping 1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 T salt-free Italian seasoning (like Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute)

Preheat your oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil, drizzle with olive oil and smear it around evenly. Trim the zukes, cut them into fry-size wedges and salt them generously. Set aside. In one shallow bowl, beat the eggs and add the lemon juice, a heavy dose of black pepper and 1/4 t salt. In a different shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, flax, parmesan and seasoning. In assembly-line fashion, dip the zucchini wedges first into the egg mixture, next into the bread crumbs, then onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes (no need to turn them) until golden brown. Taste for salt and then serve immediately with ranch dressing or warm marinara. (OR KETCHUP!:))


P.S. Shout out to the Cambodian readers of Joeycake!

Friday, June 20, 2014

chocolate coconut granola

I had a lovely, sunny hour to kill between auditions yesterday and decided to treat myself to lunch outside since it was such a glorious day. The restaurant I chose had a lively and full patio and my sandwich and I parked at the only open spot: smack next to a table of two women having the most LA of LA conversations. Look, I am an LA woman and I cop to having LA conversations about gluten and psychics, but I do it with a full-on awareness of how LA I'm being (here's hoping).

The one who held court was brunette. She was tall and willowy and wore a straw cowboy hat. A bandana was tied around her neck and she had lots of beads on her person. Her blonde companion was petite. She leaned forward on her miniature elbows and her small frame was engulfed in a billowy, puffy shirt. Between them sat a cheese plate that they picked at. Which surprised me because dairy.
"I find myself barefoot a lot in my house and around my garden," Bandana said. "I find it really helps me connect to the earth."
Puffy Shirt folded her legs underneath her on the chair. She squinted thoughtfully at her companion and gave a slow nod.
"I'm sure it's because of my heritage," said Bandana.
"What's your heritage?" asked Puffy.
"'What isn't my heritage?' is a better question."
Bandana launched into a several-minute soliloquy about the copious Indian tribes she had a percentage in. Choctaw Nation was dropped multiple times. She then moved on to pontificate about her Great Great Grandfather's connection to other native peoples. Puffy never interjected, she just let Bandana go on and on. I actually half-expected Puffy to have nodded off, but when I snuck a glance, she seemed as riveted as me. Although possibly for different reasons.

My peripheral vision was killing me so I turned my attention back to my sandwich and took a few bites. Just then, Puffy leaned down to pet her service dog, a little weasel with brown eye gunk who didn't seem to be servicing much more than the restaurant's floor. Bandana clocked this.
"You have to meet Mr. Adzuki Bean," said Bandana.
"Who's that?" Puffy asked.
I was hoping it was one of her ancestors.
"My dog," said Bandana as she swiped her phone, finding the right photo to share. 
"Aw, he is adorable."
Puffy leaned in to get a better look.
"He's just a tiny little chihuahua but he has a giant spirit," said Bandana, fingering her beads.
"I can see that." 
"He's been here before," said Bandana, evenly.
"Oh, to [super delicious gourmet LA lunch spot]?" Puffy asked.
Bandana chucked ever so slightly.
"No. He's been on this planet before. He's an old soul."
Puffy looked genuinely interested. She stood corrected.
"His eyes are the color of topaz."
"They sure are."
Obviously, I could've sat there all day but my sandwich was gone and I had to go pretend to need psoriasis medicine at my next audition. But I will say this:

You're welcome.

How about a super-LA snack, coated in a superfood? It's like, so LA. Bonus: legend has it, granola was a staple of the Choctaw Nation.*

Chocolate Coconut Granola
yields about 7 cups

This is great on plain yogurt, ice cream, or just eaten by the fistfuls. Feel free to tinker with the amount of maple syrup if you like it more or less sweet. And you really can use any nuts you like, these are just my faves.

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup sliced or chopped almonds
2/3 cup walnut pieces (these can be halved or chopped)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t kosher salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup raw cacao powder

Preheat oven to 300F. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, coconut, nuts, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Melt together and stir well. Add the cacao and whisk until incorporated. Pour this wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir stir stir until well mixed. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 60-70 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until toasty and golden. Cool on the baking sheet.


*I lied. But here are some actual traditional Choctaw recipes  if you're feeling inspired.

Friday, June 6, 2014

strawberry yogurt pancakes

Guys! It's National Donut Day! And I just heard that Krispy Kreme is giving away FREE DONUTS! Here's how I look at this awesome opportunity: if you opt for pancakes today instead, you're taking the high, healthy road. (No matter that pancakes are also basically fried pieces of dough.) These puppies even have real strawberries and yogurt so you get extra healthy points!

If anyone needs more healthy points it's me. I've been doing some serious carb/sugar loading lately. I even had a dream last night that I was in a fancy bakery. I was in my sweaty workout clothes, perusing the store, when the owner came up to me. She had a bag in her hand.
"I'd love to give you this bag of fresh cookies," she said, "but on one condition." 
"Okay," I said, intrigued. She ushered me over to an unmarked door and opened it to reveal a full spa bathroom. In the bakery.
"You need to take a shower," she said, "And if you do, I'll give you the cookies." She set them down next to the sink.
"Sounds like a deal!" I said. Then I waited for her to beat it before grabbing the cookies and leaving without holding up my end of the bargain. 


That I need to shower more frequently? That I'm a liar? That I can have my (pan)cake and eat it (a donut) too?

You guys ponder this while I head over to Krispy Kreme.

Strawberry Yogurt Pancakes
makes about 12 3" cakes
inspired by Smitten Kitchen

These super fluffy little cakes are super delicious. And the yogurt is a perfect substitute for buttermilk. Who has buttermilk lying around anyway? I prefer non-Greek yogurt for this recipe but you can absolutely use it. It'll just give your cakes a bit more zippy tang.

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 T plus 1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
2 T milk, maybe 1-2 T more--see note below
4 T butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 t lemon zest
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 heaping cup sliced strawberries
extra butter or coconut oil for the pan
maple syrup for serving

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking powder, salt. Whisk well to combine. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the yogurt, mixing well. Whisk in 2T milk, butter, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over mix. (If you used Greek yogurt, the batter may feel a little thick. Add 1-2T more milk to loosen it up a bit.)

Preheat a cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 teaspoons oil or butter to the hot pan and ladle about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake, spacing them out slightly. Press a few sliced berries into each pancake, flattening the cakes out a little as you do this. Cook a few minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary and flip when golden brown on the bottom. Cook 3-4 minutes more on the other side. Serve immediately with maple syrup or keep warm on a rack in a 200F oven.


P.S. Orange Is The New Black season two is released today!! Celebrate with some orange food:)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

baby cormac's quilt

One of my dearest lady friends, Susan, had her first baby last week (!!) and good thing she did since I made her this little quilt specifically for that reason. It's another one of my friend Alicia's from her Olallieberry pattern and I highly recommend it for beginners. I originally tied it a different way and after washing it, most of the ties untied:/ (Dreadful horrors!) So I texted Alicia a picture of the debacle and said WTF did I do wrong? And she wrote me back this longest text asking me if I buried the tail and hid the knot and a bunch of other stuff that sounded like Japanese. So I asked her if she spoke English. And then (because she's amazing), she made me an instructional video of her sewing these cutest embroidery-floss stars. Not only did they work, they look so so so much cuter than my original plan. I have the nicest, most generous crafty friend. You gotta check out her site if you haven't. I love her. (Thanks, Alicia!!!)

I hope you find a way to be creative today, even just a tiny bit.

P.S. My favorite part is picking out the fabric:


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