Baking in Quarantine

I was bitten by the baking bug during quarantine and I’ve made a few things to satisfy some cravings I’ve had over the lock down. Here’s what I’ve made (other dishes included):

Dinner Party!

One weekend I had an urge to cook a 3 course meal… from scratch! And I wanted to make it sort of like a dinner party for the four of us.

This is the invitation I made and sent out:

Sadly, at that time, peaches weren’t in season, so we settled on an apple cobbler. But not even settling because this apple cobbler was BOMB!

To start us off, I made a bean dip from a recipe I found on Pinterest. It was cheesy, bean-y goodness.

And for the main course: homemade margarita pizza!!! It was made with a no-yeast dough (ya girl doesn’t have time for rising yeast) and the marinara sauce was made from scratch. Ugh it was so good. I ended up making it again later that week, since there were enough ingredients left over.

My sister also made us a cucumber vodka cocktail that was perfect for the first warmth of summer we were getting. (Sadly, no picture.)

Breakfast

One morning, my sister and I were craving French toast. So I whipped up these bad boys:

No joke, we were full for the rest of the day. We could’ve skipped dinner later that night but we felt like we had to have something healthy to balance it out.

Banana Bread… CHEESECAKE

You read that right! I made a cheesecake that used banana bread as the crust. This was also my first time ever making cheesecake. If I were to make it again, I would do some things differently, but I’d 100% keep the nut and caramel topping.

That little banana was how I felt eating it.

ME WANT COOKIES!!

Every summer I get a craving for s’mores. I like to find a creative way to combine the graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallows rather than make a traditional s’more. This year it was cookies!

I wanted the cookies BIG with LOTS of chocolate chips. I like to think I succeeded.

Peach Come Back

Don’t worry, the peaches had their day! Finally we are now in peach season and I was able to make… not a cobbler this time, but a PIE!! I completely forgot about a pie recipe book my cousin gave me for Christmas until I was staring randomly at my bookshelf and saw it. This recipe is from Sister Pie, a bakery in Michigan and they had a Ginger Peach Biscuit Pie. It. Was. Perfect.

Got nice and cozy with vanilla ice cream.

So that’s it for now! I have a few things I want to make still and I definitely want to try another pie recipe from that book. (I made the Vote Mustard Dressing for a salad I prepped for lunch and it was so good!)

Have you been making anything yummy during quarantine?


Meals on Wheels helps get healthy food to seniors who may be poor, living alone, and malnourished. During the pandemic, it also helps them get the food they need and check to make sure they’re okay, while social distancing. If you can, please donate here.

Finding Food Balance in Quarantine

I’m using my time during quarantine to work on my 2020 goal of being able to run a 10k. I’ve been researching the best way to do it, so that I don’t burn out and to prevent injuries.

But despite my efforts to get to my goal, including strength training and scheduling longer runs, I’ve gained some weight.

I’ve been at this weight before, about 3 years ago. But I had lost about 10 pounds during the course of a year, really doing nothing but eating clean a majority of the time and going on walks and doing yoga.

Since then, over the last year, I’ve slowly started to gain some weight back, but I was ok with it.

Until quarantine, when the pounds started to pack on faster.

Not only can I see it, mostly on my belly, but I can feel it too, in my arms and in my thighs. I have to admit, it does feel a little uncomfortable. My clothes are feeling a little more snug and I don’t want to get to the point where I have to buy new ones. But even though I’ve been at this weight before, it’s never really felt like me.

I think what caused it was my increased snacking while I work. Being at home, it’s harder for me to say no to a fig bar or gold fish crackers, or both. And looking back, that was definitely boredom eating.

But I think I ate for other reasons too. Reasons that I’ve always gone back to when eating.

One day I took some time to write out reasons why I eat, besides for being hungry of course.

I came to realize that a major reason why I over eat is fear of food waste. I would maybe have an extra cookie or more pasta because I don’t want it to be thrown away.

Part of it is because I don’t want to throw away perfectly good food. Another part of it is guilt for having food in the first place, where other people in the world have nothing. And the other part of it is, it’s like wasting money. I paid for this food only for it to be thrown away? No I’m going to eat it, even if I’m enjoying it less.

It was relief to identify this fear so that I could research and find a way to think differently about it. (I found this blog post that was really helpful.)

The purpose of this exercise I made myself do was to help me not think about food so much. I tend to do that, especially when I want to lose weight. There’s something food related always on my mind: If I eat this for breakfast, then what should I eat for lunch, etc. I’m not exactly hungry right now, but I know we have this particular food in the house, maybe I should just eat if before it gets thrown away? If I eat this healthy food now, then I’ll deserve to have something sweet later

It would just go on and on in my head and I realized it was not good for my mental health. I realized my relationship with food had to be tended to in order for me to finally think of food for what it is: fuel for my body and pleasure for my senses.

I also can’t get hard on myself for gaining weight during this time. We’ve all had to change our routines in the wake of this quarantine. There’s also a lot to worry about. It’s natural for your body to change and adapt. But I’m thankful that I’m not losing weight due to being sick.

As for more encouragement, I found some accounts on instagram of people who show that they’ve gained weight once they’ve stopped focusing so much on results and turned to working out for fun and stopped their strict diet. Now they focus on maintaining a balance diet, which includes those foods that may not be deemed healthy.

Quarantine has brought on some weight gain for me, but it also has helped me take time to dive deep into areas of my mental health that had to be taken care of. The goal is to find balance. And I feel like slowly, but surely, I’m finally finding it and accepting it.

Ensenada Adventure

Last weekend I planned a cruise trip to celebrate mine and my best friend’s birthday. We did a 3 day cruise that stopped in Ensenada. This was my first time in Mexico, ever. And yes, it was quite the adventure.

We originally scheduled an excursion through the cruise that was for ATV riding and wine tasting. Come to find out the day before that the excursion was cancelled. It was going to be through the hills of the Valle of Guadalupe and there was a fire hazard.

One of my friends had been to Ensenada multiple times so we decided to let her guide us through downtown. We had plans to check out some drinking places that the town was known for.

Lo and behold, when the morning came and we disembarked the ship, all of us had a layer of tiredness from the night before (Spice Girls, singing karaoke, dancing and staying up all night can make for a hard morning after).

We made the best of it, first checking out the vendors and doing a little shopping. Some of us bought souvenirs. I bought myself a cozy Mexican blanket.

Afterwards, we wanted to eat, but wasn’t in the mood for one of the more active places. Luckily, my friend had the perfect place in mind and we headed for the most quiet and empty restaurant in town. This place was a life saver for all of us.

The one thing I wanted in Mexico were enchiladas. Bonus points if they were mole enchiladas.

And to my excitement, this place had exactly that.

The sauce was impeccable, it hit the spot like nothing ever. I was in heaven.

After lunch, we attempted to go in a bar. One look at all the shots and hearing the whistles blow in our ears, we were all turned off. We left the place and tried to think of what to do next.

One of my other friends received a recommendation for a restaurant and bar called Cuatros Cuatros, about 20 minutes outside Ensenada.

Not trusting the taxis, we called an Uber and we drove up through the hills.

From the parking lot, we took a shuttle up to where the restaurant was, all while being offered complimentary beers! For some reason, after I had that, I felt so much better.

The shuttle went up a little road and we arrived at the all outdoor restaurant that had SPECTACULAR views of the ocean and the coast. All of us were in awe of the place.

And the best part was that it was quiet, we weren’t running into any of the other cruise members, and we could enjoy each other’s company.

I ordered a Sauvignon Blanc that was so tasty and perfect with the atmosphere of the place.

And of course, put a group of girls in a place with an incredible view and a camera and they’re going to give themselves their own photo shoot. We got so many cute shots!

We planned it so well that we made sure to leave in time to get back on the ship. We had paid the Uber drive to wait for us so he could take us back since would be hard to get another one up there again. And he drove us right to where the port was. He was so awesome!

What happened in Ensenada was nothing any of us planned but it turned out to be the most perfect day!

A Weekend in State Forty-Eight

This weekend we did a mini trip to Arizona. The main event was to see UCLA play against University of Arizona in Tucson. But we were also celebrating my mom’s birthday!

Friday

We left Cali Friday morning, driving into some rain. For those not from the west coast, rain in September isn’t normal, but always welcomed.

We were pretty set on just getting to Arizona in one go, stopping for a bathroom break and to refill on gas. I recently bought a car, a 2016 Honda Civic Touring and let me tell you, it has been a dream driving it. (Coming from driving at 2003 Honda Civic.)

After arriving in Chandler, AZ, we dropped our stuff off at the place we were staying and then headed to the local casino called Gila River Hotel & Casino. They had a very nice lobby and casino area where I lost $10 and then won it back again. (For me, coming out even is winning when it comes to gambling.)

We came across this little gift shop and cafe upstairs, accessible by stairs or escalator. And OMG this cafe. It had some of the most beautiful pastries. There were these mini chocolate cakes decorated with flowers and shimmering with glitter. And these cute strawberry shortcake cakes. And carrot cakes. Cannolis. Just so much to look at and take in.

Since we were going to have dinner in a few hours, I settled on an almond croissant, some apple slices, and an iced chai tea latte. We sat near the window, overlooking a nice water feature down below and the white puffy clouds above.

We hung out for a bit, taking a chance to relax from the drive and then took a walk around the casino.

When we were ready for dinner, we walked over to Downtown Chandler where there’s a selection of restaurants and gift shops. We chose a brewery called San Tan and after being told it was to be a 45 min wait, decided to browse through a nearby gift shop.

After only 10 minutes, our table was ready and we headed over. I ordered the house lager, which reminded me of an 805 and had onion rings and the pulled pork sandwich. It hit the spot!

I had a little bit of a sweet tooth after dinner so we stopped by this new-ish ice cream place called Screamery, which makes homemade ice cream. I taste-tested the banana cream pie and I was sold! Promptly ordered a scoop of that and tried to enjoy it as long as I could.

The walk back was pleasant and warm. I was pretty set to just kick back and knock out, which I did.

Saturday

Started the morning off with breakfast on the brain. We walked back to downtown Chandler and ate at a restaurant called Downtown Chandler Cafe and Bakery. I ordered the French toast platter and was not disappointed. Holy moly, those French toast pieces were huge! I only wished I had more syrup (see the little cup it came in).

After breakfast we headed toward the outlets, which are also by the casino we went to on Friday. They are outdoors, so be weary if you decided to go during one of those hot summer months.

But there’s a good selection of stores that strongly reminded me of the outdoor outlets in Vegas.

A couple of hours later, we decided to head back and get ready for the game.

After a snack and a nap, we made our hour and a half drive to Tucson where the University of Arizona is located.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant that was recommended to us by my dad’s coworker called Cafe Poca Cosa.

And let me tell you, there is no small thing about this restaurant.

For one thing, the menu changes every day. Every. Day. So the waiters have to remember a new detailed description of each dish every day. And there are like, 10 dishes to choose from. I was impressed. Literally, my jaw was dropping throughout this whole meal, starting with the delish margarita I ordered. Can’t remember what was in it, but believe me, it was the best I ever had. 

I’m a sucker for molé, so if it’s on the menu, you better bet I’m ordering it. This dish had two types of molé: a red, more spicy version, and the darker, more sweet version. Both were out of this world but I had to go with the sweeter molé. This also came with corn tortillas, rice and beans. And can we take a moment to appreciate this presentation?! Amazing! 

After this spectacular dinner, I found out that Tucson had their own Screamery, so we headed there for dessert. This time I ordered a flavor called Game Day: A chocolate based ice cream, infused with Guinness beer, mixed with chocolate covered pretzels. Guys, I was in heaven. My tolerance for chocolate-y things has gone down over the years; after a few bites, I have to stop from a chocolate overload. But this was an easy, breezy chocolate-y flavor and it made me feel so happy and comforted. It was the perfect end to dinner. 

BUT not the end of the night! Because we still had a football game to get to!

I have to admit, I respect the U of A fans: they really know how to show up for their team. (Which is true of most out of state teams, but this was my first time being a visitor.)

I enjoyed their band’s half time show: Hella Good by No Doubt. Their stand tunes were also fun, one of them being the theme from Avengers!

But it was also fun being the underdog fan in the audience. And let me tell you, there really was just a handful of us rooting for UCLA. 

After a grueling but close game, the Bruins unfortunately lost to the Wildcats, 20-17. 

At least it wasn’t a runaway game. 

Sunday

We were focused on getting on the road home back to California, but before we left, we went back to Downtown Chandler Cafe and Bakery. This time I ordered the chilaquiles. Just let the picture on the right speak for itself. 

We had a six hour drive back home but I had just enough time to put the finishing touches on this post.

This was a fun short rip, with lots of yummy food. Next time I’m in Arizona, I would like to check out the hiking spots and enjoy the desert scenery. Leave a comment for any must-do hiking trails (or food spots) please!