Girls on Food

Julianne

Actress and Founder of Girls on Food: I was born and raised in the suburbs of Sacramento, California. I grew up a typical “McDonald’s kid”. I was very picky about what I ate and refused to try new foods. No fun, I know. My Mom started taking me on trips to Europe when I was a teenager and that’s when my palate for finer foods began to develop. Some of my most memorable favorite meals include Veal Bolognese in Rome, Gyros in Athens, Paella in Lisbon and Duck L’Orange in Paris. While this helped me grow out of a fast food phase, I still eat out quite a bit. I know I should be at home cooking, but I love dining out. I started working in restaurants in various front of the house positions at age 15. Since my start, I’ve worked in every casual restaurant setting you can think of: a teriyaki stand, brewery, sushi nightclub, trendy Mexican, family-style Italian, American diner, pizza parlor and even a BLT themed food truck. I can't help but notice that many of the LA food bloggers don't have any sort of background working in a restaurant. A lot of my perspective on food and dining out comes from my years of experience in the biz. Since starting this blog, I have shot appearances on a few cooking competition shows (including MasterChef Junior and another upcoming show). We have also started producing a Youtube Channel. For this site I contribute content from all over Los Angeles (and the world) to showcase my favorite fine-dining spots, steakhouses, exclusive supper clubs, Hollywood nightlife and our very own #GOFx events, which I plan and coordinate.

The 4th Annual Stars of Pinot Raises Funds (And Plenty Of Glasses) For The T.J. Martell Foundation

wineLA, Los Angeles’ top source for wine-centered events and education, held their 4th Annual Stars of Pinot gathering at the luxurious Montage Beverly Hills last week. Over 150 wines were poured for enthusiasts to taste, wine reps were on site to talk about their brands and DJ Richard Blade was also spinning the best in 80’s new wave. This grand tasting also raised funds to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a non-profit that supports innovative groundbreaking cancer research.

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

One might be under the impression that an event like this would be suited for the high rollers at wine auctions, but it was actually much more approachable.

With my general admission ticket (priced at $75) I was provided with a beautiful complimentary pinot wine glass and given access to taste any wine on the floor of my choosing. Plenty of cheeses, breads and Evian water bottles were also included in this ticket.

I believe every event should begin with bubbles and clearly, wineLA does too! Sponsor Champagne Henriot was providing guests with a champagne tasting right at the entrance to start the night on a bubbly note.

Let the games begin!

I’ve been to some smaller scale tasting events in the past, but this was a different beast. The Montage ballroom sets a tone for ostentatious LA glamour, with its operatic balconies and lavish chandeliers. However, the wine reps were all smiles and very down to earth. It was a fun mix of luxury and comfort.

Although this event wasn’t intended for attendees to make on the spot purchases, the reps were readily available with brochures and info on how to buy their wines. Many of the winemakers are also open minded to touring their vineyards, so keep their contact info on file for when you’re in their valley.

Ballroom of Montage Beverly Hills

I started the tasting tour with one of the friendliest faces there–Lindy Willingham, representing A to Z Wineworks–who set a high standard for the night. Their ’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon is lighter-bodied with notes of stone fruits, perfect for sipping on in the summertime. Although this was an earlier tasting, it was one of my favorite pours of the evening.

’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon

Pinot Noir was the belle of the ball, but many makers also offered samples of their rosé and an occasional chardonnay.

Other favorite tastes included:

Wrath Wines’ ’15 Pinot Noir – medium bodied and fruity with a little bit of spiciness

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir – very refreshing, perfect for a pool day

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé – loved the strawberry notes and light minerality

Van Duzar Vineyard’s ’16 Pinot Gris – notes of tropical fruits and a bit creamy

Although I attended this one solo (I was there for this post specifically), I do think it’s more fun to attend with a friend. So if you have a wino partner in crime, bring them out! Luckily I did bump into Chef Derrick Fox (who I have interviewed in the past) and I also got to meet one my favorite DJs on Sirius XM, DJ Richard Blade.

Me with DJ Richard Blade

There’s nothing better than discovering wines for a good cause. Be sure to keep up with wineLA’s upcoming events on their website. In addition to these events, the wineLA program (founded by sommelier Ian Blackburn) also includes wine classes, private dinners and wine travels abroad. We’re looking forward to the upcoming 2018 Bubbles and Rosé Festival, Sat, August 25, 2018, 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Leica Store and Gallery in Los Angeles–keep an eye out on Girls on Food for more information.

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé

Although this general admission ticket was comped by wineLA, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

Julianne: I woke up on the morning of Friday, June 8th, 2018 to a slew of text alerts from various friends and family. My heart sank because I just knew something terrible happened. I prolonged turning on the TV or even looking to see what these texts said until I’d fed my daughter and had a cup of coffee, cause sometimes, I preemptively “can’t even.”

The first alert I saw came from the TMZ app announcing that “Anthony Bourdain passed away at age 61” and I instantly hit a state of shock and disbelief. Was this an error in the TMZ app? There’s just no way this was real. After turning on CNN and seeing the news on TV, it all became very real. We lost him.

I watched the shows, followed his Twitter, admired him not only for his culinary genius but also as a male front-runner for the #MeToo movement. I realized he’s the only person I ever ate at restaurants because they made his show. My favorite being Nonna Betta in Rome which has his image all over the restaurant. Appearing on his show helped this business, as I imagined it helped many.

The famous Jerusalem Artichoke from Nonna Betta

This may be one of the first celebrity deaths to hit me hard. Sure, I’ve never actually met him, and I didn’t necessarily cling onto every single thing he ever said about food (especially his infamous thoughts on vegetarians), but he brought a lot of joy to his fans and had helped re-shape how many of us think about food.  

We’re still in a state of mourning here at Girls on Food, with the news of his death. Below, bloggers Sam and Iman remember the original culinary rebel with a cause, Anthony Bourdain.

Sam: Anthony shined a light on the culinary world, exposing it for all its glory; the truth about being a chef, the connections we have with food, of course, a few helpful tips to us aspiring young chefs.

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go,” Bourdain said, and it’s true now more than ever.

Much like the rest of the culinary world, it still hurts to know he’s gone; it hurts a lot. Finding out he passed away left me with the same empty, numb feeling as I found out when my grandma had passed away. I only met him once, for 30 minutes at most, but it was one of the absolute best 30 minutes of my life, and I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity that so many others did not.

The date was March 18, 2009. Bourdain was doing a presentation in Johnson & Wales University’s Xavier Auditorium. As students were lining up to get a good seat outside, there was one student in particular, while she might have appeared composed outwardly, was panicking internally (in the best way possible) because she was sitting with him backstage, talking to him and interviewing for the college newspaper. 21 year old (back then) Sam was so happy & grateful for those precious minutes, and now, 30-year-old Sam is incredibly grateful and appreciative of those minutes.

Anthony and Sam

We chatted about so much in those 30 minutes; we spoke of the fantastic adventures he’d gone on, the difficulties of being away from his (at the time) young daughter, and of course, the pleasures of sharing a meal with beautiful people. Yes, they’re documented in the articles I wrote about that event, some pictures too, and even an autograph in a book I nervously asked him for. However, they’re permanently engraved in my memory, like my initials in my knives, and I’ll cherish them for the rest of my life. Chef, we’re heartbroken that you’re gone. However, we’ll keep your memory alive and keep you in our hearts as we’re eating, traveling, eating, and sharing. Rest In Peace.

Iman: Like so many others in the world, I was utterly blindsided by the news of Anthony Bourdain’s passing. I’ve always loved and admired his television series No Reservations, The Layover and Parts Unknown, but I don’t think I realized how much he impacted me until he was gone.

I remember watching No Reservations during early morning appointments when I was 14 – so, I’ve basically been watching him for half of my life. I’ve always wanted to travel and explore the world (my list is endless), and through Anthony’s shows, I was able to explore places I never imagined and got to experience the world during times when I wasn’t even able to leave my bed. I was able to explore the phenomenal and the mundane with his narratives. His honest depiction of the culture and the worlds he was in is what drew me in. He wasn’t there as an expert of the food and culture; instead, he relied on experts native to the respective country to guide and teach him – and all of us. His shows combined history, food, culture, and politics while humanizing the people we got to meet every week on television.

One of my favorite episodes was the Punjab episode on Parts Unknown, where Anthony goes through the province and takes the train to Shimla. This province is where my family is from and where my grandparents grew up before migrating to Pakistan during the Partition of India and Pakistan. While watching with my family, I got to learn a lot about my grandparents and great-grandparents from the stories my parents told me throughout this episode. It was also important to me because he showed how vibrant and unique Punjabis are and that they’re more than our perceived stereotypes – like so many other people around the world.

I’ve also gotten to try a couple of places that Anthony has gone in episodes, such as Cochon in New Orleans. Though it’s known for their pork dishes (Cochon means pork in French), I explored other parts of the menu, such as their delicious short rib, rabbit, and alligator. Thank you, Anthony, for showing us how to travel – by immersing yourself in a country’s culture, experiencing new things with a sense of earnestness, and finding the commonalities between all of us. You will be dearly missed.

Beef Short Rib with Tomato, Squash, Pickled Okra, and Slow Roasted Grits from Cochon

We’d like to extend our condolences to Anthony Bourdain’s family and friends. 

If you’re struggling with thoughts of committing suicide, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

We are currently raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on our Facebook page. 

MEDIA TASTING: Chaya Venice Gets A Glow Up

I moved to Venice in early 2013 and Chaya became my main stomping ground after waiting tables at The Firehouse across the street. Regularly, I’d sit at the bar alone and enjoy their happy hour specials after a shift. I could only afford one cocktail (a Lychee Martini) and one Spicy Shrimp roll at the time. Want proof? Check out these fun (and low-quality) shots from my personal Instagram page, here, here and here. When I was slumped over at the bar, I’d dream of dining in the actual dining room. I was mostly lured in by the white tablecloths; since I was a child, they had embodied the word “fancy.”

Fast forward to last Monday night: I don’t live in Venice anymore and haven’t made it out to Chaya in ages. I am invited in to check out the newly renovated Chaya Venice for a media tasting and dine not at the bar, but in the proper dining room. With Danielle, my friend and owner of my favorite LA restaurant blog, Follow My Gut, I was excited to indulge in some nostalgia and taste items outside of the happy hour menu.

Chaya Modern Izakaya 
110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291
http://www.thechaya.com/

The original Chaya, a family-owned teahouse called Hikage Chaya, debuted in Kamakura, Japan in the early 1600’s. After centuries of reinventions and expansions into other locations, the Chaya group eventually opened a Venice location, under founding Chef Shigefumi Tachibe in the 90’s. Current Corporate Executive Chef Yukou Kajino and Executive Chef Joji Inoue are now leading the show.

The appearance of this longtime Venice favorite had not been touched but it finally got its LA glow up and the addition of “Modern Izakaya” to its name. Changes include swapping the vibrant red exterior for a light Japanese bamboo fencing, long communal cedar tables in the lounge, and a more intimate main dining room (they swapped 25 seats for a new banquet room). Sadly, my beloved white tablecloth is gone.

The zhoosh up

I’m not sure if the glow up was necessary for me, since the only reason I hadn’t been in so long is due to proximity. I prefer the former 90’s Japanese-meets-French brassiere vibe, even if was a little dated. I think there’s fun in being formal, in eating like a “grown up.” I realize the rest of LA wants all their favorite spots to be “mod upscale-casual” so I suppose they could make everyone else happy with it.

Although I noticed some changes to the Happy Hour menu — doing away with some of their beloved sushi rolls, like the Spicy Shrimp and the Chef’s Choice — I am happy to report they did not get rid of the classics like the Lychee Martini and the Mac & Cheese. They’ve also added nigiri and sashimi to the bar menu, which I don’t recall from my Firehouse days.

A view from the Kaisen Bar

The bar now boasts a larger selection of liquors, including more tequilas and a more developed Japanese whiskey program. Although I’m not indulging in cocktails (I’m breastfeeding, so beer and wine is more my thing) I will note the specialty cocktail list is perfectly updated with drinks for beachy, Westside vibes and not overly trending. At the Kaisen Bar, similar to a Chef’s Counter, guests can dine on a set omakase menu, featuring the freshest sushi and oysters made right in front of them.

Amuse Bouche

The wines are mostly California-based, with a few European options, and are perfect for pairing with the new menu items. Every dinner should begin with bubbles, so that’s how I started mine. The Schlumberger Grüner Veltliner Brut is minerally, high on effervescence and the floral notes work perfect for the Amuse Bouche and Big-Makase, a five-piece nigiri selectionThe Amuse Bouche of the evening (note: off menu item that changes every day) was an ample portion of a potato stuffed with mussels in a Pommery mustard sauce. If this was any indication of how the dinner would start, I knew I was in great hands. 

Big-Makase and the off menu mackerel roll

Based off image above, the nigiri in the Big-Makase is intended to be eaten starting left and working your way right. Each nigiri piece had a different sauce, starting with Maguro with a savory sauce, Hamachi with a buttery, smoky soy sauce, Sake with yuzu pepper sauce, seared Shiro Maguro with a garlic ponzu and Scallop with a plum paste. Danielle and I both agreed that while all of these were great, the Shiro Maguro (aka albacore) was our favorite bite. We tasted another off-the-menu treat, a roll of cured mackerel topped with ginger and shiso leaf. Fans of the pungent shiso leaf would love this one, since there is an ample amount in the rice, so be sure to ask if they’ll make it for you.

Manila Clams

The next course was my favorite new dish of the evening. The Manila Clams are steamed in a green garlic broth and settle upon silky tofu. Be sure they bring a spoon, cause you’ll want to sip up that broth. Pair this one with the St. Urbans-Hof Black Label Nik Weis Estate Old Vines Riesling, since it’s a sweeter, fruity pour. 

Chrysanthemum Salad

There is now a larger selection of salads and vegetables added to the menu. The Chrysanthemum Salad is a meatier options with chewy bits of bacon, enoki mushrooms and bacon vinaigrette. It’s not listed under the salads but the Grilled Octopus is a lighter dish that comes with a filling portion of green papaya salad. If you’re on a date, don’t fear this salad — it’s less garlicky, compared to others, so you can confidently kiss at the end of the night.

Grilled Octopus

The octopus, braised for two hours with lemon and spices, then bincho-grilled, is charred around the edges but still maintains a marshmallow softness. Although I originally thought I’d be pairing a fuller white or even a sake with these two, server Marcel recommended the Banshee Pinot Noir, which was better since it’s a lighter, riper red, a perfect in-between.  

Pork Chop Katsu

The Pork Chop Katsu, served bone in, is crisp with panko on the outside but juicy on the inside. Since it’s a pork chop cut, it is quite thick and topped with a peanut-mole and Japanese mustard. I paired this with Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Syrah. It’s an intense, smoky syrah, perfect for meatier dishes.

Cherry Parfait with an Earl Grey Mochi Ice Cream

I’m not much of a dessert person but the Cherry Parfait, with mascarpone cream and light chunks of brownie was to die for. Ask Danielle, I inhaled it! The Early Grey mochi ice cream on the side was herbal, creamy and melts in your mouth. Make sure to save some of the syrah for this one, especially after it aerates even more.

The new menu is delicious, thoughtful and very modern, to match the new esthetic.

Thanks to Lawrence Moore and Associates for setting up this media tasting.

Although this dining experience was comped by Chaya Venice, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Los Angeles Mom-To-Be: Julianne’s Top Pregnancy Picks

I’m officially 39 weeks down and I’m ready to pop!

Prepping for the birth of my first baby (it’s a girl!) was already pretty stressful but I wanted to share some of my discoveries that made my LA pregnancy relatively smooth.

BEST BABY PREP AND EDUCATION

Even after I read What to Expect While You’re Expecting, I still felt so overwhelmed about my upcoming birthing process. Like many others, I tend to learn better by having a teacher go through everything with me. I won’t mention the name of my health insurance provider, but after taking one of their complimentary workshops, which consisted of watching a dated promotional video with a nurse who just seemed “over it,” I decided I needed to find something more welcoming.

Photo by Morgan Pansing

I heard about Loom, a childbirth education center, from a friend of mine, who even after her childbirth still takes development classes there. After touring the minimalist (but still warm and welcoming) center in the Mid-Wilshire part of LA, I instantly felt so much more comfortable here.

I have taken both the Prepped and Accelerated classes and the Infant Feeding Basics class. What I like about these classes is that the instructors teach in a way that’s approachable, there’s no such thing as a “stupid question” and you’re encouraged to share what you’re going through. The sharing is is building the growing parent community there.

From taking these classes I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m so much more prepped for the big push!

Use promo code GOFXLOOM10 to deduct 10% from the cost of any class or service, valid until 5/16/18

BEST ONLINE MATERNITY SAVE AND SPLURGE 

Ingrid & Isabel, my favorite maternity clothing, has 2 different lines available. The line that I would consider a “splurge” is available at select boutiques (like Mom’s The Word, in the Beverly Grove area) and the “less expensive” but still super stylish line is available at Target. I stocked up on items from both and had plenty of chic but comfortable options.

My favorite items are in the image above
Cozy Wrap
Active Legging with Crossover Panel

BEST BABY SHOWER LOCATION

So here’s the thing—I did not plan my baby shower—it was a total surprise! I don’t have much to compare baby shower locations to, but I can note that this beats any baby shower at a house. This surprise party planned was by my mom, my best friend Marcie and #plusonebae and they nailed it with the location at The Culver Hotel. I’m a regular here, so I was stunned that they were able to keep it so secretive!

The party was held in The Studio, a part of the Parisian Room, which is elegant and perfect for a smaller gathering. The food and beverages were served buffet style with bottomless mimosas for everyone (except me!). The brunch service was prompt and attentive, and our server was kind enough to take many pictures of the whole gang together without

BEST FOOD DELIVERY SERVICE 

I decided to test out a couple of delivery box services and my favorite so far has been one of the leading services, Blue Apron. Meal prep boxes are great for busy weeknight meals, especially when it’s just me at home cooking for one. It’s also a great way to shake up your cooking routine, cause as much as I love being in the kitchen, I suffered from “pregnancy brain” during all of this! I just wanted to pick something up and eat it rather have to come up with a menu—but with Blue Apron, that’s taken care of for you!

Whole Grain Pasta & Beef Bolognese with Romaine Salad (relax, that’s just juice to the left)

My favorite meal that I cooked from this box was the Whole Grain Pasta and Beef Bolognese. The serving size says 2, but it was much more ample than that.

I realized from testing Blue Apron during pregnancy that my husband and I will be using this delivery system when I’m nursing, cause I’m positive I will need a break from coming up with my own recipes!

 Blue Apron- Get $40 Off Your First 2 Boxes!

BEST SWEET TOOTH CURBER

I picked up my first batch of Bare Snacks at my local Target and fell in love with all the different flavors! These treats are oven-baked when the fruits are at their ripest, bringing out the best flavors. They’re also non-gmo and B-corp certified. My favorite fruit chips were the Chocolate Coconut Chips, made with unsweetened coco powder and sweetened with coconut nectar. The Granny Smith Apple Chips were also tart perfection.

BEST ITEM I HAD NO CLUE I NEEDED

I learned (from my Prepped and Accelerated class at Loom) that it helps during labor to utilize a balance ball. Upon a run to T.J. Maxx, I got lucky and found a Gaiam Balance Ball Chair and I’ve been straightening my core and pelvic floor while running Girls on Food during the day.

Image via Amazon

It’s very easy to start slouching during pregnancy, since you’re carrying so much more weight than usual and I would say that this helped prevent my posture from getting too slouchy. I also didn’t struggle with my back as much as other moms have complained to me about.

BEST FACE OIL

I wish I could give my baby girl the credit for my glow, but I should actually credit Josie Maran’s Argan Moonstone Drops Makeup Priming and Highlighting Oil. I started using face oils when I noticed my usually dewy skin was getting a bit dry (common in pregnancy).

Image via Sephora

Not only is the lemongrass fragrance lightweight and doesn’t clash with my other perfumes, the holographic glow didn’t break me out at all! My skin texture has improved a lot since I started using this oil, and I plan to continue use after pregnancy.

BEST “SOFT COCKTAILS”

Peter Piper

First off, major props to Nomad Hotel for not calling them “mocktails”! LA’s latest renovated historical landmark (love the art deco) has a fantastic array of soft cocktails in addition to their fantastic bites. There are 6 different soft cocktail options and my favorite was the Peter Piper, with pineapple, lime, black pepper, passionfruit and white balsamic vinegar. It was everything I’d imagine a pregnancy craving cocktail would be, due to the tartness of it. So if you have a mom-to-be in your life, you must take her here!

 Be sure to follow Girls on Food on Instagram @girlsonfoodblog

S&W Organic Black Beans with Ancho Chiles Mushrooms and Garlic

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Being a pregnant foodie is tough! Upon finding out I was pregnant, I was shocked to learn how many foods I would be discouraged from eating. I’ve been working on finding substitutes for items like pasta, which is full of carbs but lacking in nutrients. I’ve been replacing the pasta in some of my favorite recipes with healthier starches likes beans.

One of my favorite recipes is from Lesley Téllez’s Eat Mexico cookbook, her Pasta with Ancho Chiles, Mushrooms and Garlic is fantastic with fettuccine noodles, but I decided to try it out with S&W Black Beans instead.

First off, cooking with canned beans is so much easier than cooking fresh pasta, the time shaved off made cooking this dish speedier. Also, S&W Black Beans are versatile as a good carbohydrate category and as a source of protein (8 grams per serving). These beans are also rich in essential nutrients, such as fiber (9 grams per serving) and folate (40% daily value). They have different varieties in their black beans including their main black beans and low-sodium. I chose to use S&W Organic Black Beans specifically because I feel good about eating food that is sourced in natural soil.

S&W Beans have been in my life since I was young. My mom cooked with them when I was a kid and now I’m passing these beans onto my kid. The quality of the beans from their cans have always been solid, beans are in full form with skins still on and never have I gotten a can of mushed beans from them. So not only are they tasty and nutrient-packed, they make every dish look Pinterest-ready.

Get $1 off 2 cans of S&W Beans in any variety here

This recipe can be made as a side dish, but it also makes a great vegetarian cool-down meal if you’re hungry after a workout.

S&W Organic Black Beans with Ancho Chiles, Mushrooms and Garlic

Ingredients

large dried ancho chiles
11 cloves of garlic
1 can S&W Organic Black Beans
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra if needed
1 large bunch (about 13 1/2 ounces) oyster mushrooms, torn into very thin strips (any mushrooms work here)
1/2 cup chopped, lightly briny black olives
1/2 cup grated queso añejo for garnish
Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Snip the stems off the anchos and cut an incision in each. Scrape out the seeds and veins with a spoon or knife. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with warm water. Let sit for about 20 minutes, until the flesh has softened.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the garlic cloves and slice thinly.
  3. Cut the softened chiles into 1/2-inch strips—I do this by rolling them up like a burrito first, and then chopping width-wise.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles and stir quickly, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Lower the heat if you need to.
  5. Once the chiles have become aromatic, stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes, adding salt once the mushrooms have released their juices.
  6. Drain 1 can S&W Organic Black Beans and add to your mushroom mixture, with a little extra oil if you like. Serve immediately in shallow bowls, topped with chopped olives and a dusting of cheese.

See additional recipes from S&W Beans here.

Check out S&W’s site to see if you can find them at a grocery store near you.

Basic Invite: The Perfect Cards For Any Event!

I’ve been looking for the perfect birth announcement card for when my baby girl makes her debut and I found it!

Basic Invite is a small custom print company out of Saint George, Utah offers cards for nearly any event. The best part is, you can preview them online to make sure you love it before you commit!

Events Basic Invite covers range from customizable graduation announcements, to birthday events, wedding invitations, nearly every event under the sun! 

Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51 

What separates Basic Invite from the rest? 

Nearly Unlimited Colors and Instant Previews – Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. Basic Invite is just as colorful with our envelopes as they are with our invitations! Customers can choose from over 40 different colors when it comes to their envelopes so that they can make their invitation stand out even before it is opened. All of the envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed. Foil holiday cards are also available in gold, silver, and rose gold. Customers can choose flat or raised foil on all of Basic Invite’s foil designs.

Custom Samples – Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order. This is perfect for wedding invites, I know what it’s like to be a particular bride! 

Address Capturing Service – Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows customers to simply share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media to request their friends and family’s addresses which will be stored in the customer’s account and can then be selected during the design process. So you can basically build a rolodex and keep it within Basic Invite for your next milestones. 

 

Check out Basic Invite on Facebook and Instagram to keep with up with specials and promotions. 

This post is sponsored by Basic Invites; however, all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own

Spumoni Mama Lactation Bites

Holy moly, I’ve finally hit 37 weeks of pregnancy (insert the nervous looking emoji here).

After reading the research on how oats, flaxseed and brewers yeast are considered active ingredients to help boost lactation in nursing moms, I wanted to come up with a quick bite that was tasty and full of nutrition. Bake-free “balls” and “bites” are trending (do you want to be baking with a newborn?) but I wanted to add a little variety of flavor to the mix. I’ve noticed many of these recipes use dark chocolate and dates as the sweet flavors.

This time around, I went in a more Spumoni ice cream-inspired route with pistachio butter (in addition to peanut butter, cause it’s expensive), dried cherries and milk chocolate. Spumoni is a famous gelato, a gift from Naples, but many Americans will recognize this frothy treat as the palate cleanser from The Old Spaghetti Factory, and that is where I fell in love with it. #noshame!

Please note: if you’re looking for an Instagram-ready, beautiful ball shaped bite, this isn’t that recipe. Frankly, bless those women who have the time and patience to make them so picturesque but I can’t imagine having the energy to make them that perfect when I start feeding.

Spumoni Mama Lactation Bites 

Makes 25 medium-size bites

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons brewers yeast
  • ½ cup flaxseed meal
  • 2 teaspoon coco powder (extra for garnish, to taste)
  • ½ cup organic Italian honey
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup pistachio butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup dried Montmorency cherries (much healthier than Maraschinos)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In the 10.75 qt. Culinary Junction Steel Mixing Bowl combine the oats, brewers yeast, flaxseed meal and coco powder.
  2. Mix in the Italian honey, peanut butter, pistachio butter and coconut oil.
  3. Fold in the dried cherries and chocolate chips.
  4. Spritz hands with a coconut oil spray and roll 2 tablespoons of mixture into balls.
  5. (optional) Dust a little coco powder on top of bites if you’re craving it.
  6. Place bites on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with coconut oil, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set.
  7. Pop them in your mouth and enjoy!

I’ll be coming up with more lactation-boosting recipes soon, so stay tuned for those!

I also wanted to note that you don’t have to be a mom-to-be to enjoy these! My husband couldn’t stop eating these too!

The Best Ricotta Pancakes in LA: Brunch at Odys + Penelope

Last year, while scrolling around on the Renzell app, I discovered the high ranking spot Odys + Penelope, a modern-American Churrasco in the La Brea area of Los Angeles. Girl on Food Cristina and #plusonebae Devon joined me for a fantastic dinner packed with fresh grilled meats and cocktails. When I was recently invited in to taste their brunch offerings, I knew if it was just close to being up to par with the dinner menu, I’d be in hog heaven… but did it come close?

Odys + Penelope
127 S La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Like The Mighty, which I recently stopped into for dinner, O + P (mysteriously named after Greek mythology characters) is also owned by culinary husband/wife team Quinn and Karen Hatfield. This power couple definitely knows how to build a solid spot with great food, consistent service and a busy customer base in LA, which is not easy.

I’m also never one to ever notice really famous people, but just like at The Mighty, I noticed some familiar faces, including one key cast member of The Big Bang Theory. So I do recommend bringing a pal or family member who geeks out over that sort of thing. Bazinga.

Frisee Salad

While the dinner menu focuses on Brazilian Churrasco style meat main dishes, the brunch here is a little more of a North American-meets-South American melting pot.

Chicken Adobo Fried Rice

For the mains, I decided to start with Chicken Adobo Fried Rice—with my mom being half Filipino and all, I’d feel wrong not tasting this dish of adobo-marinated chicken lightly fried with soft poached eggs, radish salad and a mild sambal hollandaise. This isn’t quite the chicken adobo that I remember from my childhood, but is a tasty, lighter take on it. I’m used to a more vinegar heavy adobo chicken, but the flavor is played safely here for the more mainstream LA crowd, which may be a smart move on their end. The Frisee Salad, with grilled salmon, warm fingerling potatoes, avocado and potatoes is like a California take on a nicoise salad, minus the mercury content of tuna and a sunny-side-up egg instead of hard boiled.

Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes with Pudwill Farms Blueberries

My favorite item was the Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes with Pudwill Farms Blueberries. I know ricotta pancakes are trending in the LA brunch scene, but I haven’t been this blown away with them before. O + P also manages to get the same lightly griddled pancake that my dad made me. They’re beautifully crisp on the outside but maintain a soft fluffiness on the inside. Savory from the salted butter, fruity from the blueberries, these are the best I’ve had in town. The side of maple syrup is only optional, it doesn’t necessarily need it.

To answer my question from earlier: yes, O + P’s brunch program is 100% on par with their dinner. I will be returning to Odys + Penelope for those pancakes and other brunchy items soon. I can’t wait to see what other programs they come up with!

Kinilaw For a Mom-To-Be

I’ve finally hit 35 weeks of pregnancy and I can confirm the fast food and other gluttonous urges are hitting me pretty hard! But I have been in the kitchen creating recipes that are meat/poultry-free, clean and using sustainability conscious ingredients.

When asked to develop a recipe with Blue Harbor Fish Co I jumped at the chance!

Their products tuna is MSC certified sustainable and dolphin-safe. Plus, I love the pouch option, they save so much room in my well-stocked cabinet.

Kinilaw is traditionally a Filipino dish similar to poke or ceviche. I wanted to create a pregnancy-friendly recipe for those of us out there who are missing our raw fish.

Kinilaw For a Mom-To-Be

1 serving

In a small mixing bowl, combine the following:

1 3 oz. pouch Blue Harbor Wild Albacore – No Salt Added

2 tablespoons Calamansi juice

1 tablespoon grated ginger

3 tablespoons thinly-sliced red onion

1 tablespoon coconut vinegar

1 Thai chili sliced and de-seeded

1 tablespoon coconut milk

Pinch of fresh cilantro (extra sprigs for garnish, if you like)

Salt and pepper to taste

Serve alone or with tostadas for a crunch.

Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Blue Harbor Fish Co; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Dinner in DTLA: The Mighty

The intersection of 2nd and Main in Downtown Los Angeles is becoming quite the foodie stretch with The Edison, Badmaash, Redbird and now, The Mighty.

From the moment you walk in, it’s tough to not acknowledge that owners Quinn and Karen Hatfield (Odys + Penelope, The Sycamore Kitchen) have one of the most Instagram-able restaurants in LA. The tiles are so cute, it’s impossible to keep your phone down when you’re here, but I had to focus on the food and stop taking pictures of my feet…eventually.

I have this thing with floors…

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Island Mama Lactation Bites With The Culinary Junction’s Stainless Steel Bowls

Being a 31-week pregnant lady, I’m hitting that point where I’m realizing:

A) “pregnancy brain” is very real

B) waddling isn’t exclusive to penguins

C) everything is just becoming so much harder.

Not only am I carrying more weight than I am used to, but carrying items of heavier weight has become tougher for me. Even everyday kitchen items like my standard glass mixing bowls are becoming a pain to carry.

When our friends at The Culinary Junction reached out to me to product-test their 6-Piece Stainless Steel Nesting Bowlsthe timing couldn’t be more perfect! I had an inkling to get a head start on prepping my recipes to help boost lactation (for when the time comes), so I knew I’d make great use of these bowls.

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Interview with Chef Derrick Fox on His “Dinner on Ice” Pop-Up at ICE Santa Monica

Dinner on Ice—a pop-up dinner (presented by Capital One Cafe) featuring five-courses from MasterChef Finalist Chef Derrick Fox, cocktail pairings, ice skating and more—will take place at ICE at Santa Monica on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

A limited number of tickets are available for $100 in advance, and all inclusive of skate rental fee, dinner and open bar. Guests are encouraged to dress in cozy winter attire.

Buy tickets via Feastly here. Want to get 20% off the event? Enter promo code GIRLSONFOOD at checkout! 

This dinner offers a preview of Chef Derrick’s delicious and visually impressive dishes, which will be available at his new residency at Ma’Kai Santa Monica later this month. 

Deconstructed Watermelon Salad with Citrus Compressed Watermelon, Shaved Cucumber, Goat Cheese Mousse, Toasted Pepitas, & Leek Vinaigrette – to be served at Dinner on Ice

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