All posts by Curious Koco

A designer, a first time mom, a food enthusiast and a lover of simple things in life.

Simple Pureed Baby’s First Foods | Zucchini

As a first time mom, it’s exciting to start my experience with baby’s first solids. I started to introduce my baby’s first food at 5 months and he’s been enjoying a variety of vegetables and fruits for a month so far. The basic guidelines suggest to introduce a new food every 3 or 4 days rather than mixing solids, to make sure the baby does not have an allergic reaction. When he/she does, it’s easy to determine which food has caused the allergic reaction.

From the list of safe first foods, the traditional recommendations suggest to start off with rice cereal. Basically a very watery teaspoon of fine grain rice cereal with breastmilk. My son didn’t like it much because of its grainy texture so I didn’t stick with it for long. I was more excited to introduce new exciting flavor profiles and he’s been loving his veggies and fruits. He’s tried avocados, bananas, green beans, sweet potatoes, pears and butternut squash.

For this post, I pureed zucchinis which are mildly sweet. I love the purity and simplicity of these first foods. And when you puree them, I love the beautiful variety of colors in the ice cube trays.

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Recipe:

1. Clean and cut off the stems from the zucchinis

2. Cut the zucchini into chunks

3. Boil the zucchini for about 5mins or until tender

4. Transfer to a blender and puree it until smooth texture

5. Let the puree cool before introducing it to your baby

6. Freeze the rest in ice cube trays. I usually give my son 2 cubes per serving.

7. Enjoy the messy fun and have your napkins ready!

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Healthy Blueberry Spelt Muffins

I love blueberry muffins. But usually when I buy them at a coffee shop or bakery, they are laden with sugar. A bit too sweet and full of guilt afterwards.

In quest of a healthier version, I searched for healthier alternatives to try at home and these were the ingredients that I used to make it just sweet enough but guilt-free.

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Spelt : Whole Foods defines it as “a wonderfully nutritious and ancient grain with a deep nutlike flavor, spelt is a cousin to wheat that is recently receiving renewed recognition.” I definitely enjoy the nuttier flavor profile even thought it’s not light in texture like all purpose flour.

Coconut Sugar: I recently discovered coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar and it’s been working great so far. It’s known to be a great alternative sugar and it prevents blood sugar crashes. Coming from a family with diabetes, I never use white granulated sugar. I was happy to find a better alternative to use for my new baking adventures.
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INGREDIENTS
Dry
1 3/4 cups whole grain spelt flour
1/3 – 1/2 cup coconut sugar (I prefer it less sweet)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/8 t nutmeg

Wet
1/4 c coconut oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk, rice milk, or soy milk
1 egg
zest of 1 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

BAKING INSTRUCTIONS 

• Combine dry ingredients and whisk together.
• Whisk together wet ingredients seperately, then add to dry until just combined.
• Fold in blueberries.
• Grease muffin tin or use muffin liners, and fill to almost-full with batter (should make 12 muffins).
• Bake 375 for 20-22 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
• Serve warm and enjoy!

Chunju Han-il Kwan | Korean Food, Homemade Style

Chunju Han-il Kwan is one of my favorite “go-to” Korean restaurants in LA. It’s a smaller Korean restaurant with quality Korean food and I enjoy their variety of Banchans, or side dishes. What’s great about Korean food is the plethora of vegetables and unique side dishes that accompany the meal. The Banchans can be a meal to itself for many people. But for Koreans, these amazing side dishes provide a delicious variety for those who don’t find satisfaction in a 1 main dish deal.

I wanted something spicy so we ordered Ojinguh Bokkeum, which is a spicy squid dish sauteed with onions, jalapenos, green onions smothered in Korean chile paste sauce.

Han Il Kwan | Ojinguh Bokkeum

Also one of our favorite grilled Akta Mackerel. Yum!

Han Il Kwan | Akta Mackerel

Variety of Banchans to share. You can always ask for more. Love it!

Han Il Kwan
Han Il Kwan | Side Dishes
Han Il Kwan | Side Dishes

Prices are affordable. Service is usually good. Food is awesome.

Go check it out =)

Chunju Han Il Kwan

3450 W 6th St
Ste 106
Los Angeles, CA 90020

 

 

 

 

 

Girls Night Out at Towne Food & Drink | New in DTLA

Wednesday. A perfect evening for a girls night out. Long work week deserves good food and drinks. My friends and I decided to check out a new restaurant that opened up in Downtown LA called Towne Food & Drink. For a restaurant that just opened up few weeks ago, the place was cozied up with people. The space itself kind of reminds me a Bottega Louie in downtown, but definitely not that loud. The ambiance was a jazzy and upbeat, bright and spacious.

Hungry as always, we ordered a feast for 3.

For appetizers, we ordered Line Caught Tuna Tartar which was ok. A tad fishy for my taste. For the main course and sides to share, we ordered what it seemed like Thanksgiving feast!

Crispy Pork Shank for 2

Sweet & Sour cabbage, whole grain mustard spatzle with mustard jus. I was shocked how huge it was. It really felt like we ordered a Thanksgiving turkey for the table. The pork was tender and juicy. The meat just fell off the bone. The accompanying corn and spatzle a perfect match for the pork.

Crispy Pork Shank for 2

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

With Tamarid, bacon and apple. I absolutely love this!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Lobster “Mac”

Very rich and creamy version of Mac n Cheese. It’s unique but can only have 2 or 3 pieces due to its creamy decadence.

Other Sides:

Creamed Kale and Rapini. 

Creamy. Plenty to share!

Sides

The Shank Before & After

Pork Share Before
Pork Shank After

TTo finish off with something sweet, we ordered a Blueberry Creamcheese Donut. Score!

Definitely a place to check out again.

Towne Food & Drink

Located at the Watermarke Tower
in Downtown Los Angeles
On the corner of
9th Street and Flower Street

705 West 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
213.623.2366

Caffe Bene opens in Koreatown, LA

I’m a coffee fanatic who loves coffee & tea cafes with a good ambiance. I’m excited to share that Caffe Bene, aka Korean Starbucks, has opened up its first branch in Ktown, LA. When I traveled to Korea last year, I went into one of the Caffe Benes and I really enjoyed the interior design of the place. Part of the decor reminded me of a modern library – wooden shelves and part wooden ceiling hangs over the seating area. There are outdoor seatings where you can mingle with your friends or enjoy your latte with your dog.

I ordered a iced latte, which was a little bit milky to the taste. They serve LA’s früute tart shop’s mini desserts to pair with your beverage. Try a Sea Salt Caramel Tart with your cup of joe or tea. 🙂

Caffe Bene Iced Latte
Caffe Bene Interior
Caffe Bene Outdoor
Caffe Bene Früute Cookies
Enjoying my Latte

O Jang Dong | Korean Comfort Food

It’s been hell of a scorching hot week. The 90 degrees of So. Cal weather is hot, but thankfully not humid. On a sweltering weather like this, spicy Korean comfort food with a cold beer tickles my taste buds.

As one of many Korean restaurants in Koreatown, LA, O Jang Dong is known for their Korean buckwheat noodles (aka naeng myun) in chilled beef broth. But to satisfy my craving, we ordered spicy stir-fried squid and vegetables in chili sauce and an order of Bindae Duk, which is a Korean pancake with ground mung beans and vegetables. These dishes are few of many comfort foods that are traditional to many occasions.

With an icy cold Korean beer, Hite (aka Korean water :)) it was a good blend of spice and ice to ease into the rest of the night.

O Jang Dong | Stir Fried Squid (Ojinguh Chul Pan)
O Jang Dong | Korean Mung Bean Pancake (Bindaedduk)

Food : I’ve had better but pretty good.

Service : Good

Ambiance : Fair  – Casual and nothing fancy. TVs to keep you entertained.

O Jang Dong, 4031 W. 3rd St., Koreatown; 213-365-0097

Dogs of Downtown, LA

Working in the city of concrete jungle, sometimes we fail to enjoy the life around us. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of downtown dog walkers strolling in the busy streets of LA and it’s actually quite energizing to get a daily dose of canine cuteness in the heat of screen gluttony.  Just a quick interaction with these dogs brings a perk to any busy day.

Canine Cuteness | Doberman Mix
Downtown Dogs

Try not to dive your nose so deeply into the computer screen. Rather, take a breather, walk around and get inspired by what’s around you.

Hello Chihuahuas
Golden Retriever

Osteria Mamma | Flavors of Italy

On a busy Saturday evening, we managed to squeeze in a reservation at Osteria Mamma, a cozy Italian restaurant on Melrose Ave., which has been on my foodie bucket list for over 2 years. With positive ratings on Yelp, I had to check out what the hype was about.

Ambiance was lively yet cozy. Dim lighting set the mood for a good vibe evening to enjoy company, to chit chat over a nice glass of Italian wine and of course, over delicious food.

We sat over the bar area which seats about 8 people. I ordered a glass of Italian wine, recommended by the sommelier — Full bodied, 50% Cabernet, 50% Merlot blend that was rich and chocolatey to palate 🙂

The dinner course consisted of 1 insalate, 1 steak dish and 1 pasta dish.

Gamberina – Tiger shrimp romaine lettuce, olives, carrots, Grana Padano cheese and red onions in a aromatic herbs-mustard vinegar dressing. Light and fresh, but I think the salad could have been better. Perhaps it was the haphazard  presentation which made it look like a salad from a cafeteria. In a positive note, I was glad that it was not over-drenched with dressing.

OsteriaMamma_GamberinaSalad
Osteria Mamma Gamberina Salad

Pasta – we ordered Tagliatelle Bolognese with veal, pork, sausage and tomato sauce. It was a hearty amount of pasta with chunks of meat to share.

Osteria Mamma Tagliatelle Bolognese

To accompany the pasta, we ordered Tagliata – grilled and slice premium Angus NY Steak served with arugula and Grana cheese. Initially we ordered our steak “medium” but when it came out, it more resembled a “well-done.” After a simple request to our waiter, we were pleased that the replacement was cooked to perfection.

Osteria Mamma Tagliata

To end a satisfying meal, we ordered 2 flavors of gelato – Pistachio and Chocolate. It reminded me of my travels to Italy, when I indulged myself with gelato everyday. Our waiter, to a pleasant surprise, treated us with 2 glasses of Muscato to end the night. That is what I call a sweet meal!

Osteria Mamma Gelato + Muscato

I would definitely dine at Osteria Mamma, but don’t forget to make early reservations because, this place gets packed.

OsteriaMamma_WineDisplay
Osteria Mamma Placemat

http://www.osteriamamma.com/index.html

Beauty Boost | Hair, Skin + Nail Vitamins

Hair, Skin & Nail Vitamin pack

When it comes to maintaining health and beauty, I’m a major fanatic. As an Korean female in my early 30’s, I’ve been finding the need to discover supplements and methods of maintaining my changing body. I love the saying “women get better with age, just like fine wine.” Not only do I love wine, but I support people who maintain themselves and those who can appreciate and embrace the natural beauty of aging. However, I do believe in keeping myself healthy but having a consistent workout routine, enjoying (not depriving) good food and wine, as well as supplementing my beauty care routine with good products.

Hair, Skin + Nail Vitamins
Hair, Skin + Nail Vitamins

I tend to have natural frizzy hair. Yes, it give me pain to keep my lion mane tame. Straight perms, hair serums, blow drying, hair straightening…the list goes on. With a help of a co-worker, I researched and found a Hair, Skin and Nail Vitamin kit from GNC. The package also came with Collagen and Primrose vitamins, which provide nutrition for a healthy beauty regimen.

I’ve been trying these vitamins for about a week now and surprisingly, I’m noticing good results on my hair. I still have my mane but my hair feels softer and silkier than before! Rather than applying hair products, perhaps maintaining a healthy beauty comes from within. My goal is to continue to take these vitamins and I will update the progress for those interested. 🙂