Wednesday, July 11, 2012


The last month has had a ton of life changes all rolled in to one for me. My husband was transferred from Nor Cal to So Cal into a corporate role, we moved to a new city in a new apartment, I bought a new car after 7 years, began a new job myself and to top it off I chopped off my hair into a bob and colored it red! It feels like I need to solidify a routine and of course finish unpacking to have any sort of normalcy. There's a constant need for me to see friends and family but in the meantime I realize I am getting more and more exhausted by not making time for myself.

Do you ever have the feeling your having a mini self-reinvention phase? Every time I go through these big life changes (especially all at once) I feel like I need to step back and look at who I am and where I'm going. I stack up the basic facts then see where any holes might be missing. While I do this I'm still over scheduling my life which makes it even more complicated. Even so I'm excited as always for what lies ahead, maybe someday I'll slow down.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th!

It's so strange when a holiday ends up being in the middle of the week, like 4th of July yesterday. My husband and I both got the day off but had to work the two days before and after. As usual the day off started with my making breakfast and then moving on to some cleaning (all days off comprise of some sort of cleaning). We then made a mad dash to BevMo for supplies to bring to a BBQ. My husband, Cristian, ended up being the grill master after a quick survey revealed no one else could really BBQ. Luckily he was able to show off his skills even though it was a charcoal grill (we're used to gas). This was the first event in awhile I wasn't with close friends, in fact I didn't know any of the attendees besides my husband. I tapped into my networking skills so I wouldn't be glued to Cristian's hip the entire time.

In the end food truly brings people together. Remember the days of old with traditional party food including chips, soda, all kinds of salads with mayonnaise? The times sure are a changing. This party featured Pirate's Booty, turkey burgers, fresh fruit and water. I felt so 2012 being all healthy. It's probably a good thing since I just purchased a Groupon for Bar Method classes that I'll start in a week.

After the festivities we actually missed seeing fireworks but the sun had zapped our energy. Hoping you all had happy independence days with your families. Cheers to freedom and new friends.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ping Pong

It's happened, I'm back in So Cal. After 7 years + in LA I moved to the Bay Area to be closer to my family and after a year turnaround I'm back. I suppose good old LA wasn't finished with me. My husband got a great opportunity that we couldn't pass up so here we are, again. The "housewife" part of me is in high gear, organizing, buying essentials, unpacking and everything else you need to do when you move. I'm also adjusting to my new role at work. It's a season of change for me so far and while it's exciting I'm ready for some consistency.

Two days before I moved to the new apartment our neighbors broke their sprinkler head which flooded their apartment and consequently ours as well. This certainly added a kink to our moving in plans but at least the damage was minimal. Finally last week they came to repair the walls and we are almost settled in.

In the meantime I've been exploring my new community finding Yelp to be very helpful instead of taking all out risks when it comes to restaurants and services.

Hopefully this is the final pong in the ping ponging we've been doing. LA I'm back, let's do it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Limited Components

I got home last night not wanting to stop at the store since Cristian was there on his break. I haven't been shopping in quite a while so it was find your ingredient and work with it time. That morning I had seen that we had some Bosch pears which excited me. I decided to make some chicken breast which I had frozen then top it with melted cheddar, grilled onions and pears (in balsamic) and spread the pepper jelly I had bought in Gilroy at a fruit stand on it. Low and behold it was delicious! I saw we had a ton of tomatoes too so I made some bruschetta. Instead of grilling some bread though I crisped some polenta rounds in the frying pan. Light and tasty. Here are the results:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Uncharted Territory

In keeping with my challenge to try new cooking techniques and foods I came upon an old classic that I have often wanted to try but never got the chance: Sloppy Joe's. As far as my memory can stretch I can't remember ever eating a sloppy Joe, let alone making some. It was quite an experience. As you can see from the photo I did not use a big enough pan. Luckily it held the contents and was an easy cleanup: one pan to wash. I started off browning the extra lean beef and added vegetables including eggplant, onions, garlic, zucchini and more. Then the sloppy part comes. You add tomato sauce, a can of beans, honey, spices and simmer. Once the mixture was the right temperature and consistency I was ready to plate. I poured the sloppy Joe on top of a whole wheat bun and took my first bite. Delicious! It was certainly messy but honestly a fun and tasty meal. It reminded me of chili, which I love. So get your inner child out and remake your favorites. You'd be surprised how easy, scrumptious and flexible some of the basics can be. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Undercover Veggies

I actually went back to the gym today! I had been maybe once every two weeks since I've been sick so it was difficult and I was lame. My lungs couldn't understand what was happening, my legs, especially my knee, were sore and I was out of breath in an instant. Not to mention the sweat fest...gross. I was happy to be back working out though and hope to continue on. My new quest is to lose the target weight by my last 20-something birthday in April. 10 pounds, 9 weeks. I'm hopeful. Plus, I watched "Heavy" and got fully re-inspired to want to have courage and motivation.

Last night I continued my quest to incorporate more veggies in my diet by starting off sauteing onions, eggplant, baby bella mushrooms and tomatoes. From there I decided it would be a delicious ragu so I boiled some water for my whole wheat pasta shells. I added tomato sauce to my veggies and browned some extra lean turkey sausage.  Then I added a little treat of olive oil/cilantro/garlic spread on french bread and made some delicious crunchy accompaniments. Cristian hardly noticed the extra veggies. The best part was I brought some for lunch today and it was even more extraordinary. Healthy, here I come. And I'm taking my pasta with me!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


If you read my last blog I had some majorly depressing news yesterday. Of course a very happy thing happened at the same time that I tried to be upbeat and supportive for but ultimately had the underlying sad tone that prevented me from being 100% genuine. My husband was promoted at work yesterday after only 7 months with the company. That caused quite a stir. I will preface that he was ranked #4 in the entire sales force for the month of December. That's out of 6,000+ sales staff. The issue is he jumped up 3 levels instead of one and suddenly became his boss' boss. It's great for us but there's been some drama at work. I'm so proud of him though. It's a great thing for both of us. He even inspired a colleague to go back to school now that they're seeing the aftermath of having a degree.

So a silent congrats to my wonderful husband who works so hard and truly deserves this. Cheers!

Another Sad and Scary Update

My grandma is not doing well. Normally I don't like sharing this information but writing seems to help. She has stopped her medication and has met with a hospice nurse. It seems she's planning for the inevitable. I looked up life expectancy of stage 4 lung cancer without treatment and it says the average is 8 months after diagnosis. It's been six. Scared. They're bringing in a hospital bed and morphine/meds to make her feel more comfortable and be able to stay at home and not go to the hospital. I feel like I'm the only one who understands the gravity of this. Fortunately, I received a call today from my Aunt Nina and she feels the same. Apparently all of her step children and husband feel the seriousness of this. My grandma either isn't acknowledging or isn't grasping the real depth. My mom finally "got it" that the cancer is terminal. It's hard to be far from home too. I feel helpless and trapped. My husband is of course wonderful and amazingly so is his family. They really care about me and my family. Even my friends are filled with sadness that I didn't expect.

I had to tell my boss who has been through many of these situations unfortunately and she recommended I read this book: On Death and Dying . I have been through the grievance of losing a loved one but the last time it was sudden and unexpected. This I feel we can prevent.

Prayers are welcome.

A New Journey

I have so far kept to my new years resolution as far as cooking goes. I went to a new supermarket "Sprouts" where I bought eggplant, plantains and other fruits and vegetables. I have never cooked a plantain and it's been awhile for eggplant. Tonight I will be making chicken in a curry sauce paired with the lightly fried plantains. Sounds good, we'll see how it turns out. As for the eggplant I found a Bobby Flay recipe for chicken and eggplant quesadillas that sounded amazing. I'm going to see if Cristian will eat it since he normally doesn't like eggplant. . Also, I've been cooking more healthy. I made lettuce cups with extra lean beef and a bunch of vegetables drizzled with a honey-soy-OJ sauce I mixed together. It was actually delicious. Do you ever find though that without a lot of protein or carbs it's hard to feel full? That's my dilemma right now. But I'm thinking I just need to retrain my stomach.

Outcome of the plantains to be continued...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy 2011!

Hello my fellow foodies! Happy New Year! This is the start of the first full year of being married and I couldn't be more excited. So much to look forward to! I've tried to come up with some good resolutions and goals for the year.

To start here are my cooking goals/resolutions:
1) Use more vegetables, more creatively, more often
2) Try new ingredients
3) Look for inspiration where I can get it
4) Take at least one technique class

I'm ready to get a great start to a healthy and delicious new year.

What are your resolutions?

Williams-Sonoma Meets Rachel Ray?

Well not exactly. But WS has put up a website of one month of 30 minute meals! Click here to check it out. Some great ideas and a good variety. It's gourmet meets my time crunch in the evening.
I'll be trying some this week and give you an update.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quaint Christmas

This was a very unique year for holidays. Yes it was Cristian and my first married Christmas but we also have been working beyond maximum speed, especially him. I have spent a lot of time on my own these days, lots of nights at home cooking for one. Last Saturday my brother, Aronn, agreed to come visit us for the holiday since Cristian wanted to spend our first married Christmas together and he didn't have enough time off to travel. I haven't cooked much for my brother so when he arrived I made stuffed chicken rolls with jalapeno and cheese with a breadcrumb crust and cheesy rice. Our Christmas Eve we took my brother in law, Alex, bowling for the first time in his life. I never thought a 15 year old could lack so many experiences but we were happy to take him. We finished off with PinkBerry (Alex's favorite). Upon coming home we finished decorating the in-laws' Christmas tree. That night we had Christmas at the in-laws. Typical fare was served, four types of meats, mashed potatoes and salad. I had made brownies, which Aronn and I had for breakfast, that was also our dessert. :) We had a few presents and spent some quality time.

Christmas Day was the really interesting twist. Cristian's parents decided to go to Big Bear even though we couldn't join them. We decided we'd have a small celebration of three and decided to invite Nina, our neighbor, over as well. I made the appetizers including guacamole and my own recipe for tex-mex wontons. They were a hit. Cristian grilled flank steak and ingredients for salsa. He blended together the vegetables for a roasted salsa. To accompany the steak he also made chipotle sour cream from scratch. It was delicious. To finish it off we had Caribbean rum punch, an ode to our honeymoon. We played card games and Wii bowling the rest of the night.

As New Years approaches it looks like it'll just be the two of us cooking in the kitchen. A great way to end one amazing year and start a new one!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best wishes from the Darabans!

In Bright Colors New Year's
Create custom new year's invitations with Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back on the Bandwagon

As we all know this time of year is hectic, seasons change (meaning wardrobes as well) and people eat more than any other time of year. Right now I've been fascinated with one ingredient: pumpkin. My new, very young, brother in law requested a pumpkin cheesecake for his birthday. My cousin gave me a recipe for my birthday two years ago and I've learn to perfect it with my own personal tweaks. Since I already purchased the pumpkin I decided to use the squash in a number of recipes. First I made pumpkin soup, a Weight Watcher recipe. It was think and hearty but almost sweet like tomato soup. It was my first time using my immersion blender too, which was amazing. I didn't have to transfer hot liquids into a blender then place it back into a pan to heat up.

Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

Next I made pumpkin pecan cake. I'm no baker but this turned out moist from the pumpkin layer and crunchy from the pecans. Thanksgiving here I come!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wedding Video Highlights

Enjoy this highlight reel of our wedding day, August 21, 2010. Shot and edited by Arune Kital. Music by Wavorly, Summer's Song.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Downhill health

It seems as though I've been sick for a week now and have finally made it to the final stages of recovery. When you're sick the lack of energy is incredibly sad. I have had no desire to much in the last few days but it has given me time to finish the wedding thank you cards (yes they're finally in the mail) and set some post wedding goals for myself. The first is to begin a new, slightly less than before rigorous gym routine and renew my healthy eating efforts. Of all things I heard a quote in Glee that really hit me. Quinn talks about how she has changed her eating habits for her unborn baby and it made her think of why she wouldn't do it for herself. I figures it's time to get back on the healthy bandwagon. My brother inspired me too recently informing me he is interested in possibly becoming a vegan. Next goal is to give back more. Since the wedding I have started tutoring, become a USC student mentor and begun pro bono projects for friends/family with businesses. It's been rejuvenating. Finally, reinstate my interest in hobbies and extra-curricular activities like golf, scrapbooking, snowboarding and searching for a church choir to sing in. All in all not having had energy made me miss my everyday little routines and fun extras. Amazing the amount of time that was spent planning one day, now I get to think about the rest of my life.

Oh and by the way, today was the final step in changing my name... DMV. It went surprisingly smooth and quickly. Now I'm officially and completely a Daraban!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Quickie

I have been feeling under the weather lately, and so has Cristian, so last week I made Cornish hens in the crock  pot. It was so easy. Take out the hens, add carrots, garlic, onions and chicken stock, simmer for hours. The meat literally fell off the bone and was so flavorful from soaking in the stock. To pair with it I made Cristian's favorite mac n cheese (see ingredients below) and some cranberry sauce. Dessert was a berry martini with a bit of orange curacao. Some pics:

His and Hers

This week I made my ultimate burger, a turkey burger patty, whole wheat bun, 2% cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles (lots), onion and avocado. I even made my own sauce, yes it's becoming a theme these days. To the food processor,Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless, I added my fake mayo, ketchup, onion, garlic, cilantro and a number of seasonings. To top it off I made a cocktail from a new found enjoyment, Hypnotic. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. This recipe is called rock candy and includes Hypnotic, vodka and pineapple juice. To make it fun I even blended real pineapple into it. Quite summery and refreshing.

Funnily enough Cristian decided to make burgers a few days later. His were simpler, bun, patty, onion and sauce. His sauce of course was his famous chipotle aoli. I have to say in this case his and hers were both perfect and scrumptious.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Missing Ingredient

On Sunday Cristian and I decided to take out some lamb chops that we hadn't made due to recurring invitations to the in-laws. Last night, yet again, our plan was derailed but in this case to my benefit. I had marinated the lamb chops in Syrah, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper and parsley. After sitting in the bath a few days the flavor was highly intensified. I took out my cast iron grill pan and heated it up with a light layer of olive oil. In the meantime I looked up sauces to go with this delectable protein. I found Giada's very plain, very easy recipe and was very excited to use my new food processor for only the second time.

Measuring out the ingredients I pour them into the bowl - balsamic vinegar, garlic clove, salt and pepper...honey. Oh no. I completely forgot we had run out of honey. What to do? Searching the fridge I decide to be bold and try a substitute, raspberry jam. It's sweet, somewhat tart and should go well with balsamic, but garlic??? I measure it out and decide to go for it. Once the food processor is engaged I slowly and carefully pour in the vegetable oil until the mixture thickens. After only 2.5 minutes the chops have been flipped and the second batch is on the heat.

For a side dish I decide to go with spring mix, diced heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella pearls. Clean and simple. Delish. On my new everyday china I arrange my dinner for one and pour myself a glass of a red Rhone wine. I pause to take a picture of the meal I made for me then sit down. The rain is coming down lightly and the house is quiet. I may have been missing honey but I'm also missing my Honey.

lamb chops cooking in the grill pan
raspberry balsamic sauce

finished chops

finished fall feast

my humble plate