Coconut Curry Stew and My New Love

Since moving, I had to start from scratch.

I bought furniture.  So now I have 1 bed, 1 nightstand, 1 table and 1 dresser.

I have 1 large plate, 1 small plate, 4 bowls, 2 cups, 1 mug, 1 old frying pan and this:

This is my new love.  It’s amazing.  Cast iron is every overly-domestic girl’s dream.

So when you have someone over for dinner and you only really have one plate (though luckily a few bowls) and one pot, start from scratch with fresh ingredients.  It’s easier than it sounds, I promise.

Wondering what to make?

Coconut Curry Stew, naturally.

It might wow your guest.  Who knows?  He might just be polite.  But either way, make this stew.  It’s easy, delicious, healthy, and requires minimal utensils without sacrificing flavor.

Coconut Curry Stew

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp curry powder (or more or less depending on how you like it)
1 can light coconut milk
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a pot.  Add onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, bell pepper and jalapeno.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.  Add garlic, cook for an additional minute, then add tomatoes.  Add broth and curry and simmer for about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes soften.  Add coconut milk, garbanzo beans, salt and pepper.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and serve.

I served it with some sauteed kale.  I thought it was pretty tasty and super easy to make.

You can store left overs in a jar.  That’s how I roll.

Just keeping it real… or maybe I have no other storage containers…


Welcome to Orange County

Hi Friends,

I moved.  No, not my site.  Myself.  I am now a resident of Orange County, CA.

I won’t lie it feels weird.

Now I’m a big kid.  I’m not in school.  I have a job.  I bought furniture.

I’ve been super busy the past week unpacking, getting schooled by Ikea and eating salad at my sister’s house.

Don’t abandon me just yet.

New posts coming as soon as I’m settled in.

Anyone in Orange County want to be my friend?

Quick and Easy Pear Crisp

This pear crisp saved my dad’s life.

True story.

That cookies and cream ice cream from Thrifty sitting next to it…  That did nothing for him.

But the pear crisp? Bonafide hero.

Let me tell you why.

Last Sunday, I saw my dad about to serve himself some of this peachy, puddingy-looking dessert a family friend brought over.  I had seen it sitting in the fridge for a loooong time, uncovered, not looking too hot.  I get closer, I see that it’s gray.

Now, I’m all for consuming everything and not letting anything go to waste, but your peach dessert should not be gray, nor should it be fuzzy.   I made him throw it away.  I’m sure we can imagine what the results would have been if he consumed that…

But LUCKILY, this guy saved the day, and you can too.

Quick and Easy Pear Crisp

6-7 pears, sliced (you can leave the peel on)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 flour (or corn starch), for the filling
1 cup flour (for the topping)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
1/2 cup butter, softened

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Combine sliced pears with sugar, cinnamon and 1/4 cup flour.  Put in a greased baking dish.

Make crumble topping by combining 1 cup flour, brown sugar, oats and butter.  Use your fingers break up the butter and combine it with the dry ingredients to make small clumps.

Sprinkle with crumble topping.  Bake 30-45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the pears are bubbling.

Serve warm with ice cream and thank goodness you won’t be calling the diarrhea hotline.

Pepian, a Traditional Guatemalan Dish

Today was election day in Guatemala.  I’m not a Guatemalan citizen and my parents left in 1979, but today turned out to be a super Guatemala day at Casa De Leon.

My cousin hung our Guatemala hammocks

and my aunt made Pepian.

Let me tell you about pepian.  It might be my favorite Guatemalan dish (even though I’m obsessed with black beans and plantains).  It’s basically meat and vegetables in a thick sauce made of pepitas and sesame seeds.  It has a distinct toasted taste that I can’t entirely describe because it doesn’t taste like anything else I’ve ever eaten.

But I will say, it’s absolutely delicious.  I’ll admit, it might be a bit of an acquired taste, but that’s probably because (like I said) it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted.  I definitely recommend giving it a try, especially if you make a trip to Guatemala, you have to try it.  But if you’re making it at home and are worried about finding the ingredients here in the US, find a latino grocery store.  I can almost guarantee they’ll have everything you need.


1/2 cup pepitas, heaping
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 small piece chile pasa
1 small piece chile guaque
1 chile arbol
4 lbs pork ribs*
1 bunch of cilantro
2 onions
6 garlic cloves
6 roma tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
2 slices of toast, well toasted
2 carrots
3 guisquil (known as chayote in Mexican grocery stores)
2 cups green beans

*Note: This is also commonly made with chicken.  If you choose to use chicken, make sure you use drumsticks or thighs with bone-in.

Put the meat in the pressure cooker with the cilantro, 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves and salt.  Cover with water.  Cook 12-15 minutes, until meat is tender.  If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can boil it in a regular pot, it will just take longer.

In a pan, toast pepitas until golden.  Put them on a plate and set aside.  Next toast the sesame seeds and the three dried chiles (pasa, guaque and arbol),

until sesame seeds are a deep golden brown.

Now that your dry ingredients (pepitas, sesame seeds, dried chiles and toast) are all toasted, grill (or blacken?) the fresh ingredients.  In a pan, on medium heat (without any oil) grill the onion, garlic, tomatoes and red bell pepper.

The tomatoes will start to blacken and soften.  The tomatoes will fall apart, that’s okay! Turn off the heat.  By now, your meat should be fully cooked and tender.  Remove the cilantro and discard.  Now you need to blend together all the ingredients.

We do this in two batches since our blender is pretty small.  Using the liquid from the meat (we used all of it), blend together the toasted pepitas, sesame seeds, 3 chiles, bread, tomatoes, red pepper, garlic and onion (you can also blend in the garlic and onion used to cook the meat).  It will take a while to get smooth, about 2-3 minutes.   While it’s blending add salt to taste.  We actually don’t use salt, we use chicken bouillion. This is pretty common in Guatemalan cooking.

You can probably even find this brand at latin grocery stores. But in all honesty it’s probably healthier to just use salt.

Once you’ve blended all the ingredients together, you’ll get a thick sauce.  Pour the sauce and meat into a pot.

Add carrots and guisquil (chayote) and simmer until almost tender.  Lastly, add green beans (since those cook pretty quickly).  We were out of these so we didn’t add any vegetables, but I think it tastes a million times better with them.  If you’ve never tried guisquil/chayote.  Try it!  It’s delicious!  You can probably find it at any latin grocery store (it’ll probably be labelled as “chayote” since that’s what it’s called in Mexico).

Once the vegetables are cooked, serve over rice and enjoy!

Chocolate Pudding Trifle and My Other Pet Peeves

There are a few things that make me inexplicably mad.

I know they’re completely irrational, but they simply push my buttons.  I try my hardest to not get visibly angry but whenever they happen, my blood boils.  Let me share them with you, because well, that’s what I do on this blog.  I hope that doesn’t bug you.

1.  I hate, hate, hate being asked the same thing over and over again by the same person.

Example 1: My brother does it to bother me at this point.  In the past 3 weeks he’s asked me how to make peach pie filling at least 485892849552344 times.  I’m not exaggerating.  The answer is always the same (peaches, sugar, cinnamon, flour).

Example 2: When I made pies in jars for my friend’s wedding, my mom asked me pretty much everyday for a month when the wedding was, where and other details I didn’t know because I was neither in the wedding nor getting married.

2.  Making chocolate pudding trifle.

I get it.  It looks pretty, right?  But it infuriates me.

My mom asked me to make it twice in the past two weeks.  I don’t understand why she loves it so much.  It’s the first thing I ever learned how to make.  In fact, I got the recipe on the Food Network website when I was in high school.  The real recipe sounds nic,e because it comes from Magnolia Bakery but I made it with cool whip and that’s how my family loves it.

The reason this makes me so mad is dumb.  It’s really because I’m a brat.  This is quite possibly the easiest dessert to make.  It requires little-to-no baking abilities.  It’s basically just assembling a dessert.   That’s what makes me angry.  The crazy baker in me that wants to make huge elaborate, fancy desserts hates that this is made with broken chunks of chocolate cake (you can use box mix), crushed oreos, cool whip and instant chocolate pudding from a box.

I tried to redeem it by making the cake from scratch.  But I think I had a sour face the entire time I assembled the two that I made the past few weeks.

3. Wet bathroom floors.  I don’t even need to explain that one.

4.  When my cake gets stuck to the bottom of the cake pan.


Then it all falls to pieces and it doesn’t look pretty.  Lesson learned, always use parchment paper to line your cake pans.

5.  When I run out of corn starch while making a custard.   Runny custard really just means sweet, eggy milk.

Doesn’t that just sound gross?  Yeah.

So the moral of the story is don’t repeatedly ask me to make chocolate pudding trifle, and if I’m nice enough to rise above my distress and make it for you, you better pray that my cake doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (even though it doesn’t matter for that dish) and that I don’t run out of ingredients.

Instead, just pour me a glass of wine (or bourbon, whichever is on hand) and call it a night.

Wedding Favors: Pies in Jars

I have a strange love of weddings.  I’m not sure if it’s the romantic idea of being in love or the fact that they involve a big party, but regardless, I love weddings.

This weekend, I went to the wedding of two of the sweetest people I know.  Not only are they sugar, but they entrusted me with making their wedding favors.  Luckily, they didn’t hire me to be their wedding photographer (although that would have been fun and probably would have taken more pictures if that had been the case!), because I’m horrible and didn’t take a single picture of the bride and groom together.   I’m going to chalk that up to the fact that I was far away sitting in the middle of the row and I’m short.  I did manage to get a photo of the beautiful bride, Courtney.

Everything about their wedding was beautiful and totally fit their personalities.

I loved the flowers

and the cake

and the bridesmaids and their bouquets and dresses

and the table settings

oh my was I obsessed with the table settings…

But back to their wedding favors.

I made mini peach pies in jars.

The fabric on the jars matched each table setting.  Super cute idea!

Truth be told:  I had wayyyy too much fun making these.

I won’t lie, they’re not the quickest thing to make, but I think they added a great touch to this wedding.  I looked around as people sat at their tables and were pleasantly surprised to find a pie.  It made me smile and I think the bride and groom liked it too 🙂

Thanks Courtney and Andy for letting me contribute to your special day!  I wish you all the happiness in the world!

If you, or anyone you know, in the Los Angeles/Orange County area wants pies in jars at their wedding/baby shower/party/event, contact me at! 

Pies, Hair and Billy Balls, not together

Hi Friends.

This weekend has been busy, but busy makes me happy.

I baked 130 pies in jars.

Also got my hurrr did…

Right now, I’m in the omg-what-was-I thinking when-I-told-her-I-could-go-lighter phase.  I’m sure I’ll be used to it in no time.

In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on the fact that I loooooove these flowers

They’re called Billy Balls, and I could pretty much stare at them all day..

I know.  Ridiculous name.  I have no idea how they got it, but I’m all about it.

I’m also all about the fact that they were all over this wedding I went to tonight.

So about those 130 pies and this wedding…  I’m going to tell you about those tomorrow, because I have a date with my bed and a new episode of True Blood.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.  Come find me on Tuesday!

Not Juice

What the f*** is juice?

You know what I’m talking about right?

If you don’t, then watch this:

I apologize if you’re easily offended.  I just happen to have a ridiculous sense of humor.

So speaking of juice (not drink)…

My father and brother are currently obsessed with juicing.  Now I see where I get my nuttiness from.  My sister lent/gave them her juicer a few days ago and they’ve been obsessed ever since.

For some reason, I’m a juice hater.  I know.  I should be supportive of their juicing endeavors, but no.  I’m not.  I just don’t understand drinking juice and I don’t care what you tell me, celery in your juice is just not tasty.  I love vegetables as much as the next person, actually probably more than the next person, but drinking vegetables isn’t really my thing.  I’d rather eat them, but oh wait…

Green smoothie on the other hand…

I’m all for it.  Especially made with 1 frozen banana, half a mango, a few handfuls of spinach, some kale, ice and water.

I vote yes.  So let’s be clear.  This is not juice.