Author Archives: LA Blogger Gal

Recipe: Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

With all the rich foods of the holidays – ham, cookies, rum cake…oh the rum cake! – we needed to lighten things up tonight.  So I thought I’d try making a black bean soup.

I found this Black Bean and Vegetable Soup recipe on All Recipes (it had great reviews), and tweaked it a bit. I cut down on the veggie broth (reviews said it was way too much), added an extra can of beans (pinto as it was all I had on hand), used roasted diced tomatoes with garlic and I didn’t have chili powder so I used red pepper.  And if it matters, one can of black beans was a Trader Joe’s cuban black beans (already seasoned so I didn’t rinse them much).

Even cutting down the broth it was still a little too runny.  I’m thinking that next time I’d add some rice to thicken it up.  And yes, it was a little too spicy for me, but it was so yummy.  And let’s face it, with enough sour cream, nothing is too spicy!

And no photos as I’m not a food blogger here 😉


  • 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • a sprinkling of pepper flakes


  1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, the beans, corn, and pepper; bring to boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30  minutes or until carrots are tender.
  3. Puree with an immersion blender or save one can of beans to blend/puree with the tomatoes
  4. Serve over rice, with sour cream & a sprinkling of jack cheese

Thanksgiving Preparations

Every year, the husband and I pack up and head on over to his brother’s place for Thanksgiving festivities.  So once again I had to come up with foodstuffs that are not only Thanksgiving-y, but also something that travels well and doesn’t require any cooking once we arrive.

For the past couple years I’ve taken on the salad and corn casserole.  Last year I added some fresh baked no knead bread.  So this year I decided to go that route again.  And maybe throw in a few extras ‘cuz I’m crazy like that.

So we’ve got my now standards: spinach, gorganzola, cranberry and walnut salad; corn casserole; and no knead bread. But I’ve also added on a cranberry upside down cake (it looks so good).  And quite possibly cranberry and brie puff pasty bites – I haven’t yet decided if I have enough time in the morning.  I’m also not quite sure how well they’ll travel, so I might just scratch the puffs.

So what did you decide to make this year?  Any new recipes you want to share?

Warning: Pinterest is Addictive

About a week ago I found out about Pinterest (and yes, I know that I’m so, so, SO very late to the game here).  I find that I spend more “extra” time poking around an pinning things than I spend poking around on Facebook.

I’ve found recipes, art projects, cute clothes, gardening tips, beautiful pictures and motivational quotes.  And that’s just sticking with only 2-3 categories.

It’s some good stuff.  It’s some addictive stuff.  But I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Feel free to…Follow Me on Pinterest

Cooks Menu Pop-Up: Breast Cancer Connections Benefit Dinner

Here in LA we’ve got everything from fine dining, to amazing food trucks to pop-up and underground dinners.  If you like a good meal, LA’s got you covered.

Late one night, two cooks were hanging out at a local bar after their hard night working the dinner shift.  They got to thinking that if they could bring together many of the rising young cooks and showcase their talents, that they’d not only give the people a memorable dining experience, but they could also give back to the community.

…and Cooks Menu was born.

According to one of the coordinators and participating chefs, Howard Ko, “it’s about creating a collaborative effort not by head chefs, but by sous chefs, meat cooks, fish cooks, entremets, garde manger, pastry cooks and the front of the house.”

Chefs, mixologists and staff from renowned LA hotspots such as Mélisse Restaurant, Church and State, Il Grano, Joe’s Restaurant, Katsuya and Bottega Louie will be cooking things up in the kitchen to benefit Breast Cancer Connections.  The featured wines will be sponsored by Palimina and Brewer-Clifton Wines.

If you want to be part of this talk of the town event, be sure to act quickly as they only have 60 seats open.  And as would be expected, they’re going quickly.

Here’s everything you need to know about this sure to be fantastic dinner*:

When: Sunday, November 6th – 7:00PM – 11:00PM
Where: Il Grano — 11363 Santa Monica Blvd
Price: $75 per person, all inclusive, 6 course family style meal including featured wine and cocktails

Dinner Brought To You By:

Howard Ko, Fish Cook – Mélisse Restaurant
Brian Maynard, Meat Cook – Mélisse Restaurant
Charlie Skidmore, Sous Chef – Church and State
Sal Marino, Chef/Owner – Il Grano
en Gell, Meat Cook – Joe’s Restaurant
Dawn McElhare, Mixologist – Katsuya
Eulogio Rios and Ethan Stiffelman, Pastry Cooks – Melisse Restaurant

* sadly, I won’t be able to attend as I have a previous engagement that night.

Calling All You Sassy City Chicks!

Click to Make Larger

One of my favorite fashion events is the Sassy City Chicks event.  And lucky for us, there’s another one coming up on November 3rd.  There’s shopping, there’s cocktails, there’s even spa treatments and goody bags!  It’s a fun night with your girlfriends.

And you can WIN FREE TICKETS: the first 25 fashionistas who enter LAGAL at checkout will win a Sassy Tote Ticket!

*Ticket includes: admission – swag bag – cocktails – spa treatments

And I’ve yet to leave empty handed.  So definitely check it out!

WHO: Sassy City Chicks

WHAT: Los Angeles Fall Fashion Bash

WHERE: 6060 Wilshire Blvd. (@ Fairfax)

WHEN: Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 from 5 – 10PM

Major discounts on Fall apparel & accessories- just in time for the holidays! Featuring deep discounts on major labels like Free People, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Elie Tahari, Denimocracy, Members Only, and LNA. Complimentary cocktails will be served, courtesy of Pinnacle Vodka and Qream Liqueur. Guests can also enjoy FREE mini spa services from a selection of LA’s hottest salons.

It’s Officially Fall!!

Harvest Charlie

And no, I don’t mean autumn.

We don’t have many, full on seasons here in LA.  We’re pretty much either hot with cooler nights, or cooler with cold nights.  And not all too much of anything else.

But what we do have is a rainy fall.  And I love everything about that.

For someone reason, no one (but gardeners) seem to be aware that we rain on and off through most of October.  They might recall that it often rains on Halloween, but not much else.  Yet I remember each year and each year I get so excited when those 90 degree days drop down to the low 70’s.

Today was that first day.

The sky was grey as drove to work.  The air was crisp.  You could feel the humidity in the air.

Then as I was packing up for the day to head home I hear over the PA system “all teachers: rainy day plans are in effect.”  Woohoo!

Mind you, it didn’t even rain long enough to rinse all the crud off my car.  But it was enough to make things uncomfortable as I walked the block to my car.  And now I hear that we’re 100% set for rain tomorrow and I’m thrilled.

Next up, I’ll be putting some soups, chile and stews on.  And I can’t wait.

‘Cause tomorrow’s another day
and I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain.

It’s Time For Tea


I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love tea.

I’ll take a good Irish Breakfast tea any day.  The sweeter, the blacker and the creamier it is, the more I like it. I think half the fun of my trip to Ireland was drinking entire pots of tea throughout the day.  Yes, I love it that much.

Unfortunately it’s really only something I drink at home (unless I’m going “to tea”) and usually only when the weather is cooler…which is any day now here in LA.

A few years ago, when I was involved with Constant Chatter (check out the new magazine that we’ve got going!) I participated in a couple of our tea swaps.  And I loved having the chance to try out some new teas.  Many of which were very new to me (really, I’m pretty traditional with my black or assam teas).

So when one of my online friends (and fellow Tranquilista classmate) Melita over at Gussying Up the Tuttle posted that she was organizing a tea swap, I had to sign up to participate.  And I’m so glad I did.

Not only did I get some fun new teas to try (like a super yummy citrus camomile – dealing with a cold, so I’m avoiding the milk and hence, the black teas), but thanks to Melita’s fun survey she sent each of us, I also got some fun gifties.  My new tea swap friend,  Julie from Savvy Eats sent along some freshly baked pumpkin scones (which the hubs proceeded to eat – these could be them) and some interesting season salts from Garlic Gold Nugget along with my teas (which I haven’t yet tried).

Out of all teas she sent, I think I’m most excited to try the Chocolate Orange Rooibos from and the Green Tea Chai, both from The Whistling Kettle (in NY).  She also included some other interesting greens to check out. While I enjoy green tea, it’s never something I really search out.  So I’m looking forward to trying something new.

Of course, I sent my own package out a little late (oopsie).  I sent along a fun (if not spiritual) read which I don’t recall the name of at this moment and bunches and bunches of tea.  No really…I mean bunches!

A friend ordered me a bag of assam tea from her co-op last year and I didn’t realize quite how LARGE a one pound bag would be.  So I shared the wealth and filled an entire zippied sandwich bag…along with a few other fun selections.  I hope she’ll be happy with what she gets.

And now, all this writing about tea has me craving a cuppa 😉

Are You Looking For a Little Help From SupperNanny?

Seems they’re in the process of relaunching the hit television show, SUPERNANNY.  This time they plan to go with a with a new American born & bred nanny.  And in the meantime, when they fly the finalists out to LA they’re looking for several local Los Angeles families who would be willing to put these potential nannies to the test.  You know, give them your toughest, brattiest, most challenging, problematic kids and problems.

Rest assured, all the women up for the role will first go through intensive interviews and then a select few will have to prove their skills by interacting with children and their parents at home.  These tests will be taped, but they will only be used for viewing by the network and will not be aired.

The ‘Test Family’ Basics:

  • The families will be on stand by and confirmed the day before the shoot.
  • The families will be compensated $300 for up to 3 hours of their time, but we don’t anticipate being there more than 2 hours.
  • Families are needed on 8/31, 9/1, 9/6 and 9/7, but they will only shoot on one of the dates.
  • Families should have at least 2 children in the home and would like the advice of a professional to address a few behavioral issues the parents are concerned about such as potty training, tantrums, pre-teen and teen attitude, etc.

If you are a parent who is frustrated with an issue – it’s an issue for this parenting expert.

Of course, they know that your response is, “What? Up to 3 hours is all I get?  I need a week!”  and they invite all parents to apply for the full help of Supernanny!!!!

If you’re interested in being considered as a SuperNanny Test Family, please call Courtney Marino at (323) 904-4680 and let her know you are interested in the possibility of being a test family.

Best of luck!!

Free Ticket to OC Fair This Friday

This Friday, August 12th, they’ll be free admission and free parking from noon-1:00 at the OC Fair.  They’re also throwing in free, one-way skyrides (my favorite thing to do at the fair), from noon – 4:00.  AND they’re offering up $2 rides, food and games – again, until 4:00!

If money is tight, this is a great way to still have some fair fun!  And if you plan on making a full day of it, you can also get free lawn seating for the Three Dog Night-America show later that night.

Not a half bad way to spend the day.  And as we all know, the OC fair grounds are a good 10 degrees cooler than things here in the Valley.