life, love, a recipe & the rest.

Wowzers… been a while right?

What can I say? Just around the time of my last post, I booked a project which rolled into another project… and then another and another and before I knew it I was 5 months in & 13 jobs deep. It was a roller-coaster of a summer to say the least. After months of work, sleepless nights and a few tears I came away with new friends, a great sense of accomplishment and a store of new experience. I actually feel a tinge of confidence in my work now. I don’t come in to a new office with an unsettling fear that I will fail and disappoint the people who hired me (along with those who recommended me). It’s kind of great.

So now where am I?

Professionally, I’m working on a new project with a new PM and new Producer and entirely new crew. It’s a bit strange to come on to a set and not immediately recognize 50+ faces but… that’s the name of the game in commercial production (I was just spoiled by my golden summer).

Personally, I’m spending most of my free time playing video games on a couch I’ve grown extremely comfortable laying on, reading cooking blogs (smittenkitchen.com, amateurgourmet.com & thekitchn.com are my current favorites), and missing my family. All of the siblings are now spread out across the country with the singer and I still in LA, the actor in Davis, the photographer in Chicago and the baller (and littlest of all of us) studying her brain out in Tennessee. What’s worse than us all being spread out? It will be the first Christmas that we can’t all be together. In the past, there were times when some of us were in the Philippines for the holidays but this is truly the first time we don’t really have a choice in the matter. I love this time of year but this really will be a bittersweet Christmas.

“]

my amazing family (mia: photographer, baller & gopher)

Ok, enough sap for one evening.

The real reason I thought about posting is because of a picture of huevos rancheros I posted on facebook this past weekend. Backstory: On Sunday, I was whipping up the boyfriend’s favorites for breakfast (french toast, corned beef & hash + fried eggs) when I was at a loss as to what to make for myself. We’ve really been into Chopped lately so he decided to throw a “secret ingredient” at me which I had to use in my meal (though I really think he was just trying to get rid of something he bought by mistake). It was a can of El Pato’s salsa de chile fresco which translates to “roasted fresh chile salsa”.

After I popped open the can & tasted its contents [pretty much tastes like tomato sauce with a very large kick], all I wanted was to bring back memories of my mini-trip to Mexico and have huevos rancheros for breakfast. Not to toot my own horn, but they turned out pretty good. And apparently other people thought so too! Ever since I posted this picture, I keep getting messages about the recipe. So here goes…

Typically huevos rancheros is made with fried corn tortillas, fried eggs & tomato-chili sauce. Mine? I made it with whatever I currently had in the kitchen. This is a super simple recipe that involves cooking 4-separate parts which is then combined together on a plate.

Ingredients:
1 can of salsa de chile fresco
2 eggs
1 large flour tortilla
1 can of refried black beans
shredded monterey jack & cheddar cheeses
1/2 medium yellow onion (chopped)
butter
vegetable oil

Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF. Or if you’re not fussy like me, just set it to a high-broil. You’re just toasting tortilla’s after all.

Sauce:
I started by melting about a teaspoon of butter in a 3qt sauce pan. Once the butter had fully coated the bottom, I added the chopped onions and sautéed until tender then added the can of salsa de chile fresco. Bring sauce to a simmer and leave uncovered to reduce the sauce and thicken it. Alt: If you don’t care for onions, pour that bad boy into a microwave safe bowl and heat till warm.

Tortillas:
Cut up the tortilla into triangular bite-sized pieces. Toss them on to a baking sheet and pop ’em in your pre-heated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until they crisp and brown. Alt: For extra crispy tortillas, sprinkle them with a bit of olive oil & salt to taste then mix with hands before toasting in oven.

Beans:
In a small skillet, coat the bottom with a bit of vegetable oil (I use stainless steel this is necessary but for you teflon folks, a teeny bit of PAM spray should do it) then add your can of refried beans (I prefer the black variety). Once it begins to soften, add a small handful of the shredded cheese. Continue heating until cheese melts, stir in & set aside.

Eggs:
This already a super heavy meal… so I used a non-stick pan with the teeniest bit of oil (I poured some on a paper towel and spread it on the fry pan), cracked two eggs in, added some salt & covered on medium-low heat until the whites were fully set. Alt: Poach em’, fry em’, boil em’—do it your favorite way… whatever’s clever loveys!

Plate:
Start with the tortillas — put them on the plate so that they sort of cover the bottom. Cover with the heated refried beans and then lay on those eggs. Pour the sauce over everything then sprinkle on a handful of shredded cheese.

ena's not-so-typical huevos rancheros

¡Provecho!

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Lovey Dovey Day

I’ve never understood people who hate on Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s a Hallmark holiday built largely upon corporations making an extra buck off of your significant other’s dime. But at the heart of it, it reminds us to slow down for one day and appreciate the person (or people) who love us despite how fat we might get, or if we have a crazy mood swing or if we have a total air-head moment or a multitude of other crappy things about us that for some reason don’t bother our loved ones as much as they would a random stranger on the street.

Ideally we’d be able to show those we care about how much we love them on the daily, but life distracts or work gets in the way or we’re simply rushing from here to there to sometimes take a breath to make sure that whomever is accompanying us on our hectic paths knows that we love and appreciate that they’re there.

So whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, whether you’re single or taken or in a complicated sort of thing give someone you care about a hug today. Tell them you love them, like them, and/or you’re happy that they’re in your life. Because after all the chocolates and candied hearts and cards and maybe even diamonds… I think that’s all people really need.

Love you, lovelies. Thanks for putting up with me and my mad as a hatter ways.

Wifey Love + Old Friends + Dream Vacations

I saw the wifey 2 days in a row. How awesome is that?

Backstory: Krystle was one of the first friends (after my roommate) that I made in university. We bonded over the fact that we were both from Southern California and that we were both constantly homesick.

Blurry, dancing wives.

We “married” each other on Facebook mainly as a joke but also because back then I was kind of guarded about letting the world know about my relationship status. It definitely made it harder for people to check up on me. I mean, though I like to control what people can find out about me over the intrawebs I’m also pretty open if you just ask me instead of trying to play detective on me. So ask away, just please don’t Facebook stalk… that’s way creepster.

Anyway, she met me at the good ol’ gym last night only to be shot down by the front desk for a free pass since it was past 10pm and the sales managers had all left for the day. It actually worked out since I decided to play hookie from the gym to go and grab a drink with the lovely lady instead. We went to Mad Bull’s in Sherman Oaks which I’ve gotta say is a pretty great sports bar. It reminds me of a bigger version of my old joint in Brooklyn. I think I might just become a regular there if the bartenders keep treating me so nice. I ended up seeing her again this afternoon since she had time to retry getting that pass at 24 Hour. She ended up signing up instead and I’m hoping to convince her to stick with it so I can have a consistent work out buddy, especially on those days that my feet feel like lead—like today.

The rest of my Wednesday was once again lax. I worked from home on a website then went to meet some old friends and the big sister for dinner in Arcadia. The drive was awful… I seriously think I will never get used to LA traffic. The city really needs to start some kind of metro system—I miss my subway cards. Still, it’s always good to seem them. One of those at dinner was Paul… another big-brother-like-friend who is also at times like the little brother I never had, haha. He’s hilarious and seems to always be the first person to comment on anything I post on the web. ;)

On a completely unrelated note, The Daily Post suggestion today was to “describe your dream vacation” which totally reminded me of something I talked about in passing: climbing a mountain. I really wasn’t kidding. My dream vacation would be to take 2 weeks off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I’ve done some research and this company seems the most legit. It’s kind of something I’ve wanted to do for the last 2 or 3 years and I’m thinking of saving up so I can afford to do it next year [unless stupid work gets in the way]. Just think: climb a mountain & feel amazingly accomplished then lounge about and pamper myself in a hotel room for 2 or 3 days. Heaven.

And that’s that. This girl is muy cansada. Curling into bed with Saramago tonight. <3

Food, Fitness & an Afternoon with My Pops

Spent the afternoon with the number one man in my life, my Poppa.

I rarely get to spend time with him these days since he travels so much for work. My dad’s a truck driver and is usually on the road to Canada or the East Coast and when he is home I’m usually off at work and by the time I get back, he’s travelling once again. He’s always sending us photos from the road so it kinda feels like we’re with him—

Poppa Bear on the Road

If you ever see a 6’3″ biker looking dude with long hair and a bandana driving a huge big rig who is ALSO Filipino, it’s probably my dad. He’s definitely not hard to spot in a crowd. ♥

We grabbed some lunch at In & Out and spent most of it talking about our current fitness goals. He’s been working on getting back into shape so I told him about a site that a new friend had recommended to me called BodyBuilding.com. He’s into weight lifting now and has been for years but he used to be very slim during his basketball playing days—

Now a days he’s more likely to remind you of a bodyguard then a 80s baller (though he still is).

My Pops: The Biker

Anyway, I took a look at the site myself the other day and along with articles on training, nutrition, transformations and many others there are also metabolic calculators, forums and how-to guides. I haven’t had a chance to delve too deeply into it but it seems like a GREAT resource. Ugh.. the idea of counting calories though is not something that makes me jump for joy. At least it’s something my dad can definitely use. I think it’ll give him all the nutritional resources he needs to get him back to lifting the weights he used to back in the day.

We also ended up going to Costco where we bought a ton of meat, some Kashi GOLEAN Bars for some extra protein & fiber as well as the vitamins my doctor recommended for me: 1000mg of Vitamin D + a Woman’s One a Day should do the trick. Hopefully it’ll give me that extra boost I need to get my groove on at the gym. I also bought some Natrol 5-HTP to stabilize my mood, appetite and sleeping patterns but if you guys have heard anything bad about it let me know so I can stop taking it. The reviews online seem pretty good though, so I’m not worried. My dad also bought me a little bit of a present (so spoiled ♥)—

We had actually grabbed the slip (and paid) for the 4GB (1 Hour) HD Mino but by the time we were on our way back home I realized the guy had given us the 8GB (2 Hour) HD Ultra. Whoops! I told my dad and he started laughing then said,

I noticed the guy was distracted because he was looking at your legs. I wanted to smack him! Serves him right.

Lol… oh lord. Do you guys think karma’s gonna get me if I don’t return it? I’ll give myself a day to think about it, haha. My Mom told me to just keep it: she reasons that if there’s any karma going on it’s good karma for me… and that if I return it now, the guy will get in trouble. :(

To get back on food and fitness, when I got home I found an article in my inbox from LIVESTRONG about the new U.S. diet guidelines—

What we are encouraged to eat more of are: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese or fortified soy beverages, vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut and soybean, and seafood.

It’s recommended that we eat less: added sugars, solid fats, including saturated and trans fats, refined grains, and sodium.

…The guidelines are not promoting any one type of diet, rather they encourage an eating pattern that is both nutrient dense and calorie balanced.

The article breaks down what foods to avoid in order to decrease solid fats, added sugars, etc. as well as the cost-friendly foods that will help you eat healthier without breaking the bank. I highly recommend reading it: New U.S. Diet Guidelines: What You Need to Know Now

And now for an early din to give me that extra energy for a nice run. Ciao for now, my crazy critters.

She Calls Me ‘Gazelle’

Since I started on this whole fitness kick my sister has taken to calling me Gazelle. Every time she says it, all I can see [& hear] in my head is Prince Edward, hand-bite & all, except he’s saying my newest nickname instead of Jih-ZELLE!!! I know that’s not how you spell it, but it’s certainly how he says it:

Well… I definitely think it would be nice if someone looked at me & thought gazelle instead of rhino which at one point during the course of our relationship my ex definitely took to calling me on the regular [jokingly of course, but it certainly didn’t do much for the self-esteem].

In any case, she called me that again tonight because I had posted on Facebook that I had run 6 miles today [Jess, I’m ready for that half-marathon relay!]. Though I am proud of myself, I really only did it because I felt so bad about not going to the gym for 3 days in a row. Now… I get that some people think I’m obsessing but I’d like to think of it instead as sticking to my goals.

It’s always been a part of my personality to never half-ass anything, ESPECIALLY if I’ve set a goal for myself. In those instances I’m very black and white about things. I’m the same way in any other aspect of my life—relationships, work, hobbies—it’s just that in this instance it’s getting fit. Don’t think I’m crazy. I’m not trying to get down to a size 2 or anything like that. That would just be completely unnatural for my body type. I don’t even really have a number goal either… all I want is to be longer and leaner and to eventually climb a mountain. Is that so bad? No, I don’t think so.

I do promise that when I do a heavy work out—like tonight since I did full weights on my arms, legs, back and abs after my cardio—I take it easy the next day because I do realize that my body needs time to heal. I promise I’m not on some crazy diet or am pushing my body to extremes, though I am pushing it as far as it can go. Honestly, I think if everyone just listened to their bodies it would be easy to eat right and stay active. I still indulge every now and then. Everyone has to satiate their cravings at some point but it’s ALL about balance. Like balancing a few lazy days with a good work out.

My day for the most part before the gym was rather lax. Went to work, had a meeting then spent the rest of the afternoon lazying about at the beach, playing in the sun & sand and at one point doing the wheelbarrow with my cousin, Abs. Guess who made me the wheel?

Anyway, yay me [again]! I’m happy for myself. Next time you see me, give me a hug and tell me I’m pretty. It’ll make me feel super duper nice and make me love you long time. Lol.. <3

Super Woman

The Daily Post suggestion I found in my email box this morning asked me the question, “Who is your greatest hero of all time?” It was honestly almost too appropriate for the date. Though some might find my answer cliché, it’s all to easy: my mom.

My Gorgeous Mom | © 2010 loreleiphotos.com

To understand why would take a novel but suffice it to say, I take the most after her. Both the good and the bad things I’ve inherited from her personality make me exactly what I am today and as I’ve said before… I’m kind of happy to be me. She truly is a real life super hero and has overcome and sacrificed so much for her children, her husband, her parents, her brothers and sisters, her nieces and nephews and all of her friends.

Growing up and watching my mom bring us up from where we first started as immigrants to this country to where we are now, was such a great life lesson. People wonder why I don’t come off as spoiled when I’m so obviously blessed with parents who would give the world to me if they could and the reason is because I’ve seen and appreciate all the things they’ve done over the years to give us what we have today. I will always remember where I come from, thanks to my mom, and because of that I will always be grateful.

The soundtrack to this video is a recording that my dad, my siblings & I made for my mom on February 2nd, 1990 [I was four].

The first person singing is my dad, followed by my brother, then my sister, then of course me [I’m the one singing “Happy Birthday, dear Mommy”]. You can even hear me giggling at the end when we’re all singing together. I was laughing at my dad who had plugged his nose because we were all huddled around the mic. Little kid breath… awesome.

Happy Birthday, Momma! I love you more than words can say. ♥

coming together.

I arrived back from Los Angeles yesterday morning at 5am after a long red-eye flight sitting next to the most obnoxious man alive who couldn’t take no for an answer. You know that old MadTV skit with the guy saying, “Can I get cho numba, can I get cho numba, can I get cho numba?!” Imagine that… except I can’t walk away from the crazy person.

Los Angeles, despite the somber reason I was there, was nice and relaxing—after all it’s home. Sorry to all my friends in California who didn’t know I was coming. The flight was last minute and the time I had was limited as I was home for the funeral of my loving and well-remembered aunt. All of the relatives on my father’s side were there from all over the country and it was so nice to be around my tight-knit family, both immediate and extended.

The last week was really hard since it was the first time that a significant event occurred within my family while I was so far away… so being home and being surrounded by people who loved me, it was a relief to finally let go of all the emotion I had bottled up since learning of her passing a week ago.

And now I’m back in New York and back to the grind. It’s good to be back in the city—I’m really beginning to love this place—but I definitely miss being surrounded by the people who know me best.

family