Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I'd like to thank the Academy.....and Seth McFarlane: My Review of the Oscars

The Oscars & Me: Just to give you all a little bit of background, I absolutely LOVE the Oscars. Oscar Sunday is without a doubt my favorite holiday of the year. I'm not sure if it's because I grew up in LA, so the Oscars were a bigger deal or more exciting than they would be elsewhere, but this day gets me more excited than a kid on christmas morning. I love the red carpet, and critiquing all of the dresses, but I equally love the actual awards show and the entertainment throughout.

The Host: I personally thought Seth McFarlane was an excellent host; I think he was very funny and did an amazing job of walking the very thin line between inappropriately insulting and ridiculously hilarious. Yes some of his jokes might have insulted an entire gender or ethnic group, but this is Seth McFarlane, the creator of "Family Guy." I am pretty annoyed that people are complaining about his jokes, he did a really good job of toning his humor down so that it wouldn't egregiously insult anyone, while still being true to his comedic point of view. I mean the Academy doesn't consist of a bunch of hermits sitting in a cave with no TV or internet......they know who he is and why he's funny, if they didn't want that type of humor then they shouldn't have hired him.

Performance by the Les Mis Cast
The Overall Show: I approve of the "theme" they chose for the Oscars this year. I loved all of the musical performances and tributes and it was so entertaining that I wish they would just have "Musicals" be the theme of every oscars. The little "bits" by all the presenters were great, and just to reiterate, I think Seth McFarlane was a fantastic host. My only point of contention is that it was implied that every Oscars from now on would have a theme, and I just don't see how other themes could provide as much great entertainment as the "musical" theme but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

The Results: I'm not going to talk about the winners of each award because there are just too many awards that I don't really care about; but I will talk about the 5 biggest wards:
- Best Supporting Actress: Putting aside the fact that I love Anne Hathaway (although I absolutely hated her outfit choice this evening) I do think she deserved this award. All of the nominees were great, but she really acted and sang her but off in Les Mis. Even the Anne haters that I know (yes, there is such a thing as an Anne hater.......I know, it's sad) agreed that her performance was very strong.
Third times the charm......
So was the second and the first.....
- Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz........I
 know he's a good actor, but I feel like he's always just playing some weird version of himself. This is called "Jennifer Aniston Syndrome," it's a real thing, I promise. I really would have preferred for Alan Arkin to win, but that's just because I love him and he's awesome. Nuff said.
- Best Actress in a Leading Role: J. Law! I loved the movie and I loved her performance in it. I think this was very well deserved; all of the nominated actresses were great but I think it's awesome that the award went to an actress in a smaller film. I was rooting equally for Jessica Chastain and J. Law, so I was 50% pissed off and 50% over the moon.
- Best Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis (or DDL as I like to call him) definitely deserved this Oscar. He played Lincoln perfectly and I totally understand why he won; however my heart was a little broken because I do think that Bradley Cooper did an astounding job in Silver Linings Playbook. DDL has already won 2 Oscars in this category, and B-Rad hasn't won any, so I was secretly a little  bummed.
- Best Film: This category might as well not exist this year, because that's how I feel about the movie that won it. I know that's harsh, but Argo pissed me off and was annoying and I just think that there were other films that were more creative, well-made, interesting,  cathartic, and compelling than this film. Also Ben Affleck and his stupid Argo-beard annoy me to no end. I don't have anything nice to say so I'll just stop saying anything about this category at all.

The Red Carpet: 
Here are my top 10 hits and misses of the night!

This is Jessica Chastain in Armani Prive. In a word: Stunning! I have to admit that when I first saw her step out, I thought "Oh, she looks good, but played it safe with an 'Old Hollywood' look." But each time they showed her, I noticed more and more details of the dress and I fell in love. All of the lines created by the embellishment work so well for her figure, and it only gets more stunning the closer you look. I also like the little bit of corset-like structure that the top of the dress has. Her styling, hair, and make-up were impeccable, which never hurts. This dress is almost the same color as her skin so it should wash her out, but somehow it doesn't at all. I think she's pulled it off and everyone should be jealous, I know I am.










Sad day Anny Hathaway, sad day. There is just so much wrong, everywhere, in every way. My theory is that she chose a dress with so many barf-worthy flaws that they each distract from one another and the dress almost works because you can't focus on any one glaring offense........but you can't fool me Anne. I see the weird darting that emphasizes your nipples, I see the cheap highschool-prom looking fabric, I see the crazy old cat lady silhouette, I see the awkward pink color that washes you out, I see your chunky necklace that you threw on last minute to try to distract from your omnipresent nipples.......I see it all. What I don't see is your thought process in selecting this dress. Sorry, I love you, but you need to make better life choices. This is Prada by the way, and it's a sad day for them too. The End.




Naomi Watts is gorgeous and edgy in this Armani Prive gown. I love the structure, the asymmetry  and the way the sparkle has a hardware-like edge to it. It fits her like a glove and this metallic works well on her. Her styling is also spot on and I just love structure and lines of the bust/shoulder area! Just the right amount of edgy. Love love love.












This is Nicole Kidman, wearing the evil twin of Naomi Watts' dress. Although the dress is by a different designer (L'Wren Scott) it is just as covered in sparkles as Naomi's, except this time it didn't end well. The sparkles/sequins look a lot cheaper than Naomi's dress, and there are too many competing elements going on here. The bottom of the dress looks like bad coffee shop art from the 90's and the top of the dress isn't much better. The random strike of gold across her midsection looks like it was haphazardly placed there by a 5 year old who wanted to be avante-garde, and the top golden part of the dress is just distracting because the sequins look like they came from a cheap craft store. The silhouette is also nothing special at all, but even if the silhouette were more unique I don't think that the dress would look much better. Everything that Naomi's dress did right this one is doing wrong.....oh so wrong.

This is Kerry Washington in Miu Miu, and I love it! I am always a sucker for Miu Miu and this is no exception. It's always a risk to wear red on the red carpet, but I have to say that in this case it worked out. The embellishment and texture of the top of the dress are breathtaking, and are balanced out perfectly by the strong color of the rest of the dress. The dress fits her perfectly and I like her simple styling. I do wish she had worn earrings with a little more sparkle, but I still think that overall this was a definite hit!









This one was a tough one for me, it's Amanda Seyfried in Alexander McQueen. I normally like what she wears, but this one was just a little bit off. It's not horrible by any means, but I really didn't like the halter/neck part. The material and detailed embellishment are stunning, as is the fit of the dress, but the top part reminds me of an S&M collar........in a bad way. You also can't tell in this picture, but the "breasts" of the dress are higher than her natural breasts; it looked off most of the time that she was walking around the red carpet. I want to say it's breathtaking, but for me, it's just not. That said, Seyfried herself looks gorgeous and I love her updo.







Here is stunning Charlize Theron in Dior Haute Couture. Although the dress is simple, the overall effect is breathtaking, although how can it not be when you have that face? Honestly, Charlize is just so gorgeous that she could probably make a trashbag covered in old fritos & onion rings look gorgeous. I have to say though, that putting aside my near lesbian adoration of her beauty, her dress is beautifully constructed and the silhouette is stunning. It has just the right amount of edgy design elements, and fits her perfectly. Her simple styling allow the dress (and her face) to shine. If only all things could be this perfect........(I'm not even sure what that means, but lets face it, it's true)



I am going to attempt to avoid any size related jokes (although many come to mind) because there are many far more serious problems with this dress. This is Melissa McCarthy in David Meister by the way, but that is of secondary importance. First of all, her hair was HUGE and scary. It looked super dated and was not flattering at all; it also was not very shiny and looked like it had too much product in it. The dress itself is in a horrible shade of grey; there are some gorgeous shades of slate grey and metallic grey out there, but the designer chose to ignore those and went with the most flat, boring grey known to man. In addition, the dress has next to no design, and the little "design" that it does have doesn't really flatter Melissa. The dress is very tent-like, which is the super-stereotypical way of hiding a fuller figure; any designer worth his weight in chiffon known that there are far better ways to flatter a full figure than to throw a tent over it. I'm not going to say any more because I really have nothing good to say, and it saddens me since I do love Melissa McCarthy.


In stark contrast to our previous, full-figured mishap  here is full-figured beauty Octavia Spencer in a gorgeous Tadashi Shoji gown. This is a perfect example of the correct way to dress a full figure. I love the color of this gown with Spencer's skin. The oh-so-delicate wrapped layer around her shoulders is gorgeous, especially with the way the structured and lightly embellished bodice comes out from underneath; a perfect combination of hard and soft design elements. This dress and silhouette are gorgeous and very flattering, and Spencer's styling perfectly compliments the dress.






Last but most definitely not least, is Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Haute Couture. Stunning, gorgeous, stunning, stunning. The dress was simple, structured, and elegant. The architecture of the dress is impeccable, and the way the dress bells out at the bottom is gorgeous. The material itself is also a thing of beauty, you can tell it is heavy and substantial, and the pattern on the material adds a wonderful depth and texture to the dress. You can't tell in this picture, but she has a thin diamond necklace on that was draped in the back rather than in the front, and I absolutely loved that idea. Her hair and makeup are perfect; this look is 100% perfection.





Honorable (or dishonorable) Mention: K. Stew
Kristen Stewart's Reem Acra dress is gorgeous! It was by far my favorite dress of the night, on my least favorite person. K. Stew herself was a hot mess, here hair looked like she had just rolled out of bed. Her facial expression (more like lack thereof) just made it look like she was about to doze off at any second. Great dress, wrong girl.














Aaaannnndd that is my take on the Oscars 2013. Love it, hate it, or most likely be annoying indifferent about it, it is what it is. Let me know what YOUR thoughts were on any and all aspects of the night in the comments section, I'd love to know!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That's just how I roll....casseROLE that is! Easy Mexican Casserole Recipe!

Updates: I was sick with the cold last week so I don't have much running/life news other than that I survived my cold. I went on a couple of hour long runs but nothing too exciting or record breaking. I did go on a gorgeous hike that I'm going to do a separate post about, and I did watch the oscars which were in my opinion quite funny and entertaining. But even more exciting, I came up with a new easy & delicious recipe!
The Inspiration: I was going to make lasagna for dinner, but then I decided I wanted to make something Mexican. I though to myself, "How can I make a mexican lasagna?" I slowly came up with the idea of sautéing some veggies and mixing them with pinto beans to make the filling, and using corn tortillas much like lasagna noodles, and lastly using enchilada sauce somewhat like marinara sauce. And thus the easy mexican casserole was born!
Nutrition Notes: This casserole is pretty rockin when it comes to nutrition. The pinto beans, corn, and corn tortilla make a complete protein. The beans, corn, and zucchini also add a healthy amount of fiber. Lastly the corn and zucchini get in a good serving of veggies! The casserole is free of any added fats or oils, which is pretty awesome. Overall this is a pretty well rounded meal. I also served a side of guacamole which as we all know is one of the best ways to get some fats in your diet if that's what you're looking to do. 

Recipe: Easy Mexican Casserole
Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup diced onions
- fresh corn from 2 ears of corn (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 3 chopped zucchinis (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 15 oz (1 can) pinto beans
- 9-10 medium corn tortilla
- 1 jar (around 14 oz) enchilada sauce (I used Trader Joe's brand and it rocked)
- vegan sliced cheese (optional)
Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large, non-stick frying pan on medium-low heat add the onion. Cook for five minutes or until beginning to soften.
3. Add corn and zucchini and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Add garlic and spices and continue to cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
5. Add pinto beans, mix well, and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
6. Cover the entire bottom of a casserole dish with a layer of enchilada sauce.
7. Layer over enough corn tortilla to completely cover the sauce.
Covering the bottom of the casserole dish

















8. Add half of the bean & vegetable mixture over the tortilla and spread evenly.
9. Cover completely with another layer of corn tortillas.
The Laste Step. Covering everything in enchilada
sauce......SOOO yum!

















10. Use the second half of the bean & vegetable mixture over the tortillas and spread it evenly.
11. Cover  this with one final layer of corn tortillas completely.
12. Pour over the rest of the enchilada sauce over the tortillas and spread out so that it's even. 
13. Place in oven for 15 minutes. 
14. If you choose to use the vegan cheese, turn the oven up to 425 degrees and remove the casserole dish. (If you are not using the cheese ignore these steps and leave the casserole in the oven for 5 more minutes at 350 degrees and then remove it.)
15. Add a layer of vegan cheese to the top of the casserole and place it back in the oven for another 7 minutes. 
16. Remove casserole from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
17. Serve with guacamole and enjoy!
All ready!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trail Blazers....Trail Running 101

What is trail running? Well it's exactly what it sounds like! It is just running on dirt trails that are often referred to as hiking or fire trails. They are most often in national or state parks, but I have run on some trails that weren't technically in a park of any sort, but they were definitely in the wilderness. The whole point is that you are NOT running on or along city streets or on a treadmill.

Why trail running? There are SO many reasons to go trail running.
The trails at Parc du Mont Royal in Montreal, definitely an all time fav.
- First of all there is the fact that trail running, although more tedious, is softer on your joints than running on pavement; it is always bad to run on just one type of running surface, but trails are a much friendlier surface than city streets since they are softer.
- Trail running also works more muscle groups than running on pavement, especially the supporting muscles that you use to compensate for uneven terrain, or uphill/downhill paths that you would not encounter in street or treadmill running.
- In addition to the physiological benefits of trail running there is also the pure joy that comes with running in nature. I love trail runs because running in the wilderness is just such a liberating and euphoric experience. I am going to risk sounding super granola for a second, and say that trail running really makes you feel so connected to nature and mother earth. 
- Trail running is much more scenic than running city streets or treadmill running; most of the trails I have run have pretty great views at some point or another, and it's nice to stop and revel in the beauty of the view to which your own two legs have carried you.

Things to know about trail running (according to me):
Trails to the the Nike Missile Tower.
Starts in Tarzana at the end of Reseda Blvd.
- It is going to be harder than other types of running. Even if your net elevation gain/loss after your run is zero, the uphills, downhills, and effort required to deal with the terrain will require more energy than the equivalent distance run on streets or a treadmill.
- Downhill is not the time to be Speedy McSpeedster: I know, I know, you worked hard running up a hill and now it would feel so awesome to pound down that hill at awesome speeds, but it just doesn't work that way. Pounding down a hill at very high speeds is one of the easiest ways to get injured, if not from wiping out, then from straining your joints and supportive tissue with the heavy impact of speeding downhill. Running downhill will definitely be easier, and A LITTLE faster than running uphill, but the key is to take small, quick steps and always be mindful of where your are stepping.
- There is a sun.....and it burns. I know that this is the case with all types of outdoor running, but it's always good to remember to slap on some sunscreen before heading out for a run.
- You will want water. No matter whether or not you go on 5, 10, or 15 miles runs on streets without water (which is actually never a good idea, hence why I have done it numerous times) I have found that trails have the magical power of making me far thirstier on my runs than I would be had I run the equivalent distance on the streets.
- There will be others......and they will have dogs. I am a dog lover, don't get me wrong. But I am also a runner, and as any other seasoned runner knows, dogs for some reason or another tend to not like runners. Maybe it's the fact that we are moving at high speeds towards them, maybe it's our bright neon running shoes, or maybe they're just jealous of how awesome we look running (yep, most likely this one) but they don't seem to like us that much. Just be ready to have to weave around hikers, runners, and their pets.
- You will want to stop, like immediately.........DON'T. I remember when I went on my first trail run, it was with my freshman year roommate, during my sophomore year of college. About 2 minutes into it I was thinking "Can't breathe........legs feel like lead.....must....stop...." but I just kept running with her, and at some point I broke through the mental and physical barrier I had encountered and embraced the difficulty and the beauty of the run. Once you get over the initial hump of getting started on your trail run, you will hit your stride (undoubtedly slower than the one that you would have hit if you were running the streets) and it will be awesome.
- You know where you are.....make sure someone else does too. It is always important to have a phone and/or identification on you when you are outdoors and running solo. It is also really important to make sure that at least one person knows where you are running, just in case something happens to you. It is just a precaution, but this is one situation where it costs next to nothing to be safe; it takes nothing more than a text message to let someone know where you plan on running.

These are my splits for our trail run.
Clearly miles 4 and 5 were the steep
uphill on the trails.
My Recent Trail Run: I used to run trails all the time when I lived in Berkeley, but ever since moving back to Los Angeles after graduating from college my trails runs have become much less frequent. It is mostly because there aren't as many beautiful trails near where I live, and partially because my running partner in crime (aka my dad) hasn't been open to the idea of trail running. That is until recently, when I harassed him about it so much that he gave in and agreed to go on a partial trail run with me. What I mean by partial trail run is that we would run on the sidewalk from our house to the start of the trail (which is about 3 miles away from where we live) run the trail (which is a 4 mile loop) and then run back home. Now despite being the initiator of said trail run, I was a little bit nervous because it had been so long since I had run trails and I was worried I wouldn't be in the shape I wanted to be when I hit the steep inclines. The splits at the right are our splits for the run; clearly miles 4 and 5 are the steep uphills of the trail, but even the downhill parts of the trail were relatively slow because as I said before: running steep downhills is NOT the time to be Mr. Speedy. Anyhow, I did run the trail a little slower than I have in the past, but it was still a great pace. Although my Dad and I tend to run at different speeds I waited for my Dad before starting the trail itself, and ran most of the trail with him; then took a longer route to meet him back at home. It was a beautiful run with amazing views and best of all my Dad actually really enjoyed it! So much so that he wants to go on longer trail runs with me!
......in the words of Borat: Great Success!

In conclusion, don't be afraid to try something new when it comes to running; whether it be running in a new neighborhood, running on the streets instead of on a treadmill, or running some trails. Any run that doesn't end in tears (and even some that do) is a good run, and you will likely discover something new about running that you love!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jamaican me Crazy.....with Cilanto Lime Rice, Plantain Chips, and Black Bean Patties

Yes.....this is about to happen. Get excited.
Again, apologies for the less than regular posting; I have been on the job hunt and busy with a few other things, but I promise to get back to posting more regularly soon! I have been in a rut, making a lot of the same recipes over and over again and thus have not had much to post about.....but I recently perfected a Jamaican recipe that I would love to share with you all!

The Inspiration: It's cold, cloudy, and rainy.....yep even SoCal gets winter every once in awhile. I know most people tend to crave hearty, warming foods during such weather, but I often find myself craving foods that remind of warmer times and places.......like Jamaica! So that was my inspiration, create a simple, well-rounded meal with Jamaican/Caribbean flavors.

Nutrition Note: This meal is pretty well rounded as far as nutrients go. The rice and beans provide a complete protein, and there are tons of veggies and fiber in the black bean patties and the plantains. In addition the plantains have a good amount of potassium.....and they also just taste really good.

Cilantro Lime Rice and Jamaican Black Bean Patties with Caramelized Plantain Chips

Cilantro Lime Rice
This is the rice after it has been thoroughly mixed.
Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cup dry white or brown rice (makes about 3 1/2-4 cups cooked rice)
- 1 3/4 cups water for white rice (or 3 cups water for brown rice)
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp water or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Rinse rice until water runs clear.
2. Add the appropriate amount of water to your rice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add salt and let steam until done. 15-20 minutes for white rice and 50 minutes for brown rice. When rice is done cooking turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes before emptying pot.
3. While rice is cooking process cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and water (or oil) in a food processor until very finely blended.
4. Place rice in bowl and pour cilantro lime mixture over rice. Mix until rice is evenly coated.

Black Bean Patties
Dived Veggies
Ingredients:
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced bell pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup cornmeal/polenta
- 15 oz (1 can) cooked black beans
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup scallions
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1 minced shallot
- 2 tsp jerk spice
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- juice of one lime
Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Black Bean mixture after being processed, as you can
 see it is still not perfectly smooth.....and that's OKAY!
2. In a large saute pan, cook onions on medium heat until beginning to softe. (About 5 minutes) Add water as necessary to keep from sticking.
3. Add the carrots, celery, and bell peppers and cook on medium heat for another five minutes. Adding water as necessary to keep veggies from sticking.
4. Add the cornmeal to the saute pan and mix in so that all the veggies are evenly coated. Continue to cook until cornmeal has taken on a golden color.
5. Add in all other ingredients and cook for another five minutes or until mixture has noticeable thickened.
6. Remove from heat and process in a food processor until relatively evenly blended. It really does not have to be perfectly smooth, processing it for 2 minutes should be more than enough.
7. Line a large baking sheet with heavy duty tin foil and scoop the black bean mixture onto the sheet. I like to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or ice cream scooper to make relatively equal sized patties.
8. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until outside starts to brown. Alternatively you could fry little balls of these in oil for some black bean fritters; I went the baking route but if you don't mind fryin' it up, the fritters would probably taste really good too.

Caramelized Plantain Chips
Ingredients:
- 1 large, ripe plantain thinly sliced
- 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1-2 tbsp oil (I don't like using oil in high heat cooking, but it is a MUST for these chips)
Directions:
1. Add oil to a large, non-stick frying pan and heat for a minute. Make sure the oil even coats the entire bottom of the pan.
2. Add in the plantain slices and cook on medium-low heat for five minutes or until browned on one side.
3. Sprinkle on half of the sugar and then flip plantains over onto other side to brown.
4. Once the plantains are beginning to brown on the second side (about 4 minutes), sprinkle on the rest of the sugar and leave them alone for another minute.
5. Flip the plantains over one last time, and let them cook for one more minute before removing them from the pan.
6. Let the plantains cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!

All ready to go!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Back to Basics: Portobella Steaks & Sweet Potato Fries w/ Avocado-Arugula Salad

So sorry for basically dropping off the face of the earth for the past two weeks. I have had a lot of graduate application deadlines, as well as random family stuff and starting my job hunt so I've been swamped. You'll be happy to know that although my blogging fell to the wayside for a little, my running and recipe testing have not, so I've got lots of new things to write about! And here is a preview of the recipe coming later in this post:
Yummy Dinner!
Running Updates:
I have been running almost every day, but not with any goals. Some days I'll run fast (which for me is around an 8:30 pace) 7 or 8-ish miles and others I'll run a long, lazy 9 or 10 miles (at around 9:30 pace). I've also been doing a couple of days where I just run 3 miles but at 7 minute pace. I basically just wake up in the morning, and see what type of run my body feel like doing. One really exciting thing is that I ran 8 miles in 70 minutes which I haven't done in a long, long time so I'm trying to do that at least once a week now! I'll have a more in-depth running post soon with some new running discoveries I've made ;)

Recipe Time: Portobella Steaks & Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado Salad
Marinating Mushrooms
Portobella Steaks
Ingredients:
- 2 large portobella mushroom caps
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp freshly grated garlic
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- optional 1-2 tbsp olive oil....if that's how you roll ;)
Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Add the grated garlic, salt, and pepper to the balsamic vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes. If you are using the optional olive oil you an add it this mixture as well. This is the marinade for the mushrooms
3. Clean your portobella mushrooms and lay them on a foil lined baking sheet with the gills face up.
4. Whisk the marinade so that all of the components are evenly distributed and pour/spread evenly over the two mushrooms. Let mushroom sit for at least five minutes and up to an hour before putting them in the oven.
5. Bake in oven for around 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries
Ingredients:
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. After cleaning the potatoes, thinly slice them so that they are long and thing (about 1/4 inch or less in width)
3. Line a long baking sheet with heavy duty tin foil.
4. Spread out the sliced sweet potatoes on the foil.
5. Add the olive oil and spices to the sweet potatoes and mix/toss until everything is evenly coated.
6. Bake in the oven for around 20 minute or until they start to turn golden at the edges. For my oven this always takes a little over 20 minutes but watch them carefully once you hit the 20 minute mark because they burn quickly.

Avocado Salad
Finished Salad, most of the avocados are hiding
Ingredients:
- 3 tbsp champagne vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 grated cloves of garlic
- option 1 tbsp olive oil*
- 2 avocados, pitted and slices into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
- 3 cups arugula
*I usually don't use olive oil, especially since the avocado in the salad definitely adds a good amount of fat to the flavor of the dressing but I know some people love their olive oil*
Directions:
1. In a small bowl mix together the vinegar, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, and optional olive oil (if you choose to use it) to make the dressing. 
2. In a medium bowl place the acovado, tomatoes, arugula, and onion and mix gently.
3. Pour the dressing into the medium bowl and mix gently until the salad ingredients are evenly coated.