Another Melissa’s Food Challenge!

Once again,  Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/) put San Diego Food Bloggers’ to another mystery box challenge.  From my FedEx delivered box of goodies, and I had to choose at least 3-4 items from Melissa’s and incorporate 1-2 other ingredients, dealer’s choice (or in this case, cook’s choice).  I could have gone in a few different directions, however, I was leaving for a trip to NYC a few days after receiving the package, so I knew I would need to make something freezer-friendly.

 

Boxed GoodsDry GoodsProduce

Click here to see what other San Diego Food Bloggers’ created: An InLinkz Link-up

Burgers and Fries (. . . For the Health Conscious and Flavor Seeker)

  • Olive Oil, 4 Tablespoons (You can use Canola or Grapeseed Oil, if you prefer.)
  • Panko or breadcrumbs, 1 1/3 cup
  • Pine Nuts, 1 cup
  • Walnuts, 1 cup
  • Shallots, 2, diced
  • Cumin, 2 Tablespoons
  • Coriander, 2 Tablespoons
  • Pepper Flakes, 2 teaspoons (or more, if you like a little more heat)
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground Black Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Dried Cranberries, 1 cup
  • Blackeyed Peas, 11 ounces
  • Garbanzo Beans, 9 ounces
  • Eggs, 4, lightly whisked
  1. Combine Olive Oil through Ground Black Pepper in a food processor until fully combined.
  2. Add Blackeyed Peas, Garbanzo Beans, and dried Cranberries to Nut and Panko mix.  (The amount of beans will equal about 3 cups.  You can substitute any brand of canned Blackeyed Peas or Garbanzo Beans.)  With the pulse setting, combine all of the ingredients until the desired consistency.  If you prefer some full beans in your burgers, go for it – just stop when it looks combined.  I made mine relatively smooth.
  3. Place mixture in a large bowl and add 4 eggs.  If you prefer to use only half of the yolks for a “healthier” version, go for it!  Make sure to lightly whisk the eggs before you add the burger mix.  It’s just easier that way.  Mix all of the ingredients together until they are fully combined.
  4. With your hands, form mixture into the shape of 10 burger patties.
  5. Add about a Tablespoon of olive oil skillet, and heat to medium-high.  Once the oil is hot, add the burgers to the pan.  Once they have browned, it will take about 5 minutes, flip and continue browning on the other side.  Once they are browned, turn the heat to medium-low heat and cover pan with a lid or piece of foil, and continue cooking until they are fully cooked.  This will take about 15 minutes.  Another option, after browning, you can transfer the burger patties to a pre-heated oven (375 degree) for about 15 minutes.  The benefit is that you don’t have to keep an eye on them so closely (so they don’t burn), and you can do many more at one time.  (I had to freeze about half of what I made.  Just make sure to cook them first, then freeze.  Then you have lunch at your fingertips!)

The Finished Product

I kept thinking of that commercial tag line “It’s In There!”

 

 

 

Making the accompanying fries, couldn’t be easier. Melissa’s sent my a 3 pound bag of baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and my husband and I finished them in 2 days. Nobody ever said we can’t eat. I simply rinsed and dried the potatoes. I left the smaller spuds whole, and I halved or quartered the larger ones. I placed them in a mixing bowl, drizzled olive oil over them (about a Tablespoon), and sprinkled them with fresh ground pepper and some salt. This really is about what you like. I like a lot of pepper and not too much salt, so I would suggest eyeballing it. Just remember you can always add more after they have roasted, but you can’t take any away! I place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with foil, place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven, and wait until they have softened. Ovens can vary, so check them after about 20 minutes. Once they are soft, remove the foil cover and place them back into the oven. Roast until they are the golden color you prefer. Make sure to flip and move the potatoes around once while they are browning. This step will take about 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

I could eat these all day, every day!

I could eat these all day, every day!

Now, I can’t eat burgers and fries without ketchup, so I created a “Beanup”. All the hip restaurants opt out of the good old-fashioned stuff, so I am following suit!

Beanup

  • Fava Beans, 8.8 ounces
  • White Kidney Beans, 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • Shallot, one small, finely chopped
  • Tahini, 2 Tablespoons
  • Garlic cloves, 2, finely chopped
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Lemon Juice, 1 Tablespoon (or more if you like it tangy)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until very smooth.  That’s it!

 

Sooo Good!

Sooo Good!

I received the items from Melissa’s, but no other compensation was given and all opinions are of my own.  Thanks must be given to Melissa’s Produce! This was so much fun, and I appreciated a free box of delicious food items deliver to my door just so I could play around with it! Tonight I am using the Butternut Squash in an Arugula and Feta Salad for dinner. I can’t wait. Look for my post next week about my annual trip to The Big Apple. Funny, I never did have an apple while I was there!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

It’s Still Summer, Right?

I was walking around the other day in 86 degree weather looking for new Winter clothes to buy. What the what??? It started getting warm hot sweltering back in May, and I don’t feel a cool down coming anytime soon!  The only glimpse of Fall I’ve seen is around 6am when I get out of bed and the floors feel cold.  Like my favorite TV personality says, “That ain’t right!!!!” I love Turko.  When it’s that hot, it’s hard to get into the cooking mood.  Fortunately, there are some great options for eating out!

Recently, I was invited to Whole Foods La Jolla to check out the new menu at their casual Restaurant & Bar, Torrey Pints.  Having a night away from the kitchen sounded pretty good!  There is a full bar where you can either belly up with a great beer tap list, grab a large tables for big groups, or pick a small table for individuals or smaller parties, or grab food for carry out. They have live music and it’s open to the grocery store, so it has a very energetic feeling. You can go to the website (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lajolla) and find the events calendar to check on when musicians will be performing.

 

Solid List!

Solid List!

Great Pre-Movie Snack: Meatballs and Beer!

Great Pre-Movie Snack: Bison Meatballs and Beer!

 

Tasty Knots Made Even Better With . . .

Tasty Knots Made Even Better With . . .

 . . . Cheese Dip!

. . . Cheese Dip!

If you are in the mood for a movie night, I would recommend grabbing some appetizers and some drinks before heading over to La Jolla Village Cinemas (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/SanDiego/LaJollaVillageCinemas.htm). Entrées are served as well, but I felt like the vibe and menu lent itself more to smaller plates and beverages.

Steak and Brussel Sprouts

Steak and Brussel Sprouts

Shrimp and Roasted Butternut Squash

Shrimp and Roasted Butternut Squash

I must add that I was invited for a complimentary meal by Jennifer at Whole Foods, however my opinions are 100% my own.

 

Torrey Pints Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

If you aren’t in the mood to eat out, here is a recipe that works whether you live in a place that is 35 degrees or 86 degrees. I bought a Crock Pot about a year ago. Yep, it was the first one I’ve ever owned, and I ignore it. I don’t know why. When I use it, I love it. I need to use it more often.

Some Slow Cooker recipes are simply throwing ingredients into the cookware and letting it cook for several hours. This one requires a little prepping of the ingredients, but it is well worth the small amount of effort.  The original recipe is from Cooking Light, but I’ve made a couple of changes.  For the original recipe, go to: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-chickpea-tagine.

Chicken and Chickpea Stew

Not the Best Photo, But, Believe Me, It’s Delicious!

Chicken and Chickpea Stew

1 1/2 tablespoons Grapeseed oil

8 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned (about 1 pound or so)

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

1 cup chopped dried apricots

2 (15-ounce) cans organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Lemon wedges

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle meaty side of chicken with black pepper. Add chicken to pan, meaty side down; cook 5 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan (do not brown other side).

2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stock, honey, and cinnamon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in apricots and chickpeas. Arrange chicken, browned side up, on top of chickpea mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with lemon wedges.

I served the stew with Freekeh.  Freekeh has an almost tea-like flavor, and it is a great source of protein and fiber.  You could serve this with anything, really, in order to soak up all of the flavor: farro, quinoa, or even mashed potatoes.   Hope you enjoy this dish as much as Franz and I did! (FYI, I found uncooked Freekeh at Sprouts (https://www.sprouts.com/) in San Diego.  I had a hard time locating it, but I’m sure it will become more popular soon!

Also, I just received a box of complimentary goodies from Melissa’s (http://www.melissas.com/).  I’ve been put to another challenge to create a recipe!  I will post my creation, along with other San Diego Bloggers’, on November 18th.  Make sure to check it out!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Two For The Price of One

My last post discussed FINALLY going to places that have been on “the list”. You know, that list of restaurants you make that you intend to visit in the near future? The one that keeps growing? The one where Juniper and Ivy was added to it before it even opened in March, but have yet to go? (Side note, I do have reservations there in a couple of weeks – FINALLY! I briefly digress.) That list that continues to grow, but you find yourself, once again, at Pizza Port in OB ordering another delicious pie and a pint? Please tell me you do so that you make me feel better.

I try very hard not to be that way with the dinners I make at home, but there is a particular comfort in making a dish that you know what you need, the steps you need to take, and that it will turn out to be a delicious meal while you watch Brian Williams deliver the news in yet another stunning tie. We love Brian Williams in my house.   I won’t say who loves him the most. So back to the dinner recipes!   With the heat San Diego has been experiencing, it has been hard to think of new and refreshing meals. Grilling or sautéing chicken (because I don’t want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of my house) and serving it over a salad is getting SO played.

I fell in love with this recipe that was emailed to me by Food and Wine. The recipe online is not complete for some reason, so the one below has my changes and additions. If you would like to see the original recipe, go to http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tomato-and-peach-salad-with-crisp-tofu. It is so refreshing, and you can easily play around with the ingredient list if there’s something you want to add or delete. I would really hesitate from deleting any items. I ended up not using all of the dressing that I had made, so dinner for the following night was already on my mind.

First Night: Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu

  • 2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2  tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons canola oil or grape seed oil
  • 24 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained well and cubed
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 peaches, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  1. Put the serranos in a small heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil with the vinegar, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the brine over the serranos and let stand for 15 minutes, until cooled to room temperature. If you are not a huge fan of heat, you can easily omit this ingredient.  However, the sweetness from the peaches and the peppery quality of the arugula tastes awesome with the candied Serrano. Another option, you could finely chopped the chiles and add them to the dressing in order to spread the “heat wealth”.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, mustard and 6 tablespoons of the oil. (Here is where you could add the chopped serrano, if you so desire.)
  3. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until shimmering. Add the tofu, season with salt, and cook over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.  (*Add only enough tofu to the pan so that it can properly brown.  Add more oil if needed between batches.)
  4. Once the tofu has cooled, place the tofu in a large mixing bowl.  Add the tomatoes, peaches, arugula, and basil.  If you didn’t add the serranos to the dressing, add those in at this time.  I added about half of the chiles.  I like things spicy, but I want to taste my food as well! I also added some of the serrano brine.  The amount of the Ginger Soy Dressing you can add really depends on you.  I used about 2 Tablespoons. Gently mix all of the ingredients together.  (*The amount of tofu I sautéed may be more than you will need.  However, if you have leftovers, add it to a salad the next day for lunch:)

 

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A week earlier I noticed, and clipped, a recipe in the local paper. I used that recipe as a springboard for the salad I made last night using the leftover dressing from the Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/09/get-fresh-cool-ideas-cucumbers/).

Second Night: Megan’s Quick Chilled Shrimp, Cucumber and Soba Noodle Salad

  • 6 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp (bought uncooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s and sautéed)
  • 1½ cups sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup (or more) mint
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • sliced serranos left over from the previous evening’s dinner
  • Left over dressing from previous evening’s dinner. I used about 2 Tablespoons of dressing, but you can add as much or as little as you like.  My husband and I eat large portions, so the recipes above were enough for the 2 of us. If you are cooking for 1, I would still make these portions and then you have lunch for the next day or two.

 

  1. Cook soba noodles as directed on the package. If you are like me and buy your shrimp frozen and raw, cook shrimp, let them cool and add to a large salad bowl. If you buy them precooked, just go ahead and add them to the bowl as is. Add cooked and cooled noodles to the bowl. Add cucumbers, carrots, mint, cilantro, scallions, serranos (if you like a little heat), and as much dressing as you like. Mix all ingredients together.

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On a final note, even though it feels like a nice Summer day in the Sahara Desert, Fall is quickly approaching.  Ever since I became a coffee drinker, I haven’t been able to enjoy what used to be a favorite beverage of mine, Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  It just tastes too sweet and fake.  I had a free beverage coming my way, so I decided to try an Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte (Venti because it was free, of course.) but opted out of the 6 shots of flavor (Can you imagine???), and I requested just one flavor shot.  Also, I requested non fat milk and an extra shot of espresso.   Perfection.  The only problem is that it was probably a $6 drink, so I will have to wait for another freebie before I order another one!

 

20140909_124331

It’s like a thesis on the side of my beverage!

Enjoy the last few days of Summer!  Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

Swiiiing and a . . . HIT!

I have a short list of favorite dining establishments. I know if I want pizza, I go to Luigi’s. If I want a great view, I go to Mister A’s (awesome happy hour, by the way). If I want fish tacos, well, that’s still up for debate. Every weekend, the same question arises: Where should we go out to eat tonight? I read about so many new places, and I add the new spots to my list. But when Friday night rolls around, my husband and I usually hit the same old restaurants. Why? Because we know they are good! I hate trying a new place and thinking “Why didn’t we go to Blind Lady for their frites and a pizza?” However, I really do like trying new places, and sometimes I have to force myself out of the rut.

This past weekend, Franz and I got out of our comfort zone and hit places we’ve been wanting to check out. We went to 6 places, and (SPOILER ALERT) we enjoyed every single spot!

First up to bat was a taco truck that I have heard about FOREVER, Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood. More intriguing was that whenever I passed the parking lot for Gala Foods Grocery store, I always saw hoards of people crowding around the truck. I ordered 2 fried fish tacos, and Franz got 2 fried and 1 grilled. There are a few unlabeled self-serve hot sauces, which I greatly appreciated. And unlabeled hot sauces is about as far as I go in adventure seeking, so that was right up my alley. I love the food truck concept, however I’m not a fan of eating in a parking lot. I like the idea of grabbing one or two of these bad boys for a very small amount of money as a way to start my night. It’s what my husband would call an amuse-bouche. Then again, he could call a rack of lamb the same thing.
Taco TruckTacos

Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood on Urbanspoon

Right across the street is The South Park Abbey. Again, we always drive by it, but we’ve never taken the time to stop. So batter number two? Another hit. We only had the opportunity to have drinks here, but the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked tasty. The wings seemed to be a big hit. What I love about this place is that it is super dog friendly, has a great view of the outside world passing by and they have a happy hour. I had a Delirium Red in Brussels over the Summer, so I wanted to try it Stateside. It came out a little murky compared to the one (or 2 or 3) I had in Brussels, but it tasted good. This is a place my dog would love, so this will be visited again in the near future.

South Park Abbey

The South Park Abbey Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Next up was Thorn St. Brewery which hit it out of the park (http://thornstreetbrew.com/). I love the vibe of small tasting rooms, and this fit the bill. There is an outdoor area in the back of the building, so in case you feel like enjoying the San Diego weather, there is a spot for you. It’s also dog friendly, so of course I love this place. They don’t serve food, but there was a sausage truck right outside the front door, and Pho Realz was a few steps away, and you can bring food in (http://phorealzsd.com/).  Franz and I opted for a taster of the beers.  We’ve seen Thorn St.’s beers here and there, but we never knew just how many they brewed.  I will note that they quickly sold out of many of their beers while we were there, so I suggest getting there a little early.
Thorn Thorn 2Pho Realz 1Pho Realz 2

It was a tough choice between the two food trucks, but we saw a guy chowing down on a Banh-Mi and that sold us. In addition to the sandwich, we ordered Bun Cha-Cha-Cha which is a delicious cold rice vermicelli dish with BBQ Pork and egg rolls. The Banh-Mi was super spicy, which I love, and it didn’t feel heavy or greasy.

Oh, and that was just Friday! Saturday, we went for a long, and very needed, run in the morning.  That also helped us to prepare ourselves for dinner later at Sea180.  I’ve wanted to check this place out ever since it opened, but Imperial Beach is a little bit of a haul.  We decided to make the journey South, and we were greatly awarded with a spectacular ocean view.   We arrived a little early for our reservation, so we took advantage of the Happy Hour that goes until 5pm everyday and had a glass of wine and a Hamachi Poke appetizer while watching the waves from the bar area.  We felt like we left our home faraway and went on a tropical vacation.

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Fresh and Yummy Hamachi Poke

Korean BBQ Pulled Flatbread

Korean BBQ Pulled Flatbread

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Not a bad view from our table!

Franz is picky with his Bloody Mary, and he loved this one!

Franz is picky with his Bloody Mary, and he loved this one!

Super meaty Osso Bucco!

Super meaty Osso Bucco!

7 Hour Lamb Osso Bucco

7 Hour Lamb Osso Bucco

Special of the Night!

Special of the Night! I was craving steak and mashed potatoes!

Sea 180° Coastal Tavern on Urbanspoon

Sunday was another hot but beautiful day in San Diego, so Franz and I decided to go for a long walk starting at Mission Beach. My real intention was to check out Draft I have family coming into town next month, and I thought this might be the kind of spot they would enjoy.  I was inside this place before it was renovated, and I had no interest in ever going back.  Thank God someone changed this to a place that is deserving of the location.  It is wide open so that it takes full advantage of the ocean front property.  The inside has multiple screens for sports events, and one entire wall was showing video from someone wearing a video camera while skateboarding down the boardwalk.  There are almost 70 beers on tap, and many of them are actually good!  I associate beach bars with Budweiser and Coors, but Draft had many local brews and even a couple of Belgians.   Franz and I split (unheard of for us, just so you know) a Fried Chicken Sandwich.  The bun was fresh and tasty, and we loved the pickled onions and cabbage on it.   The fries were hot and delicious, and I could have easily had a bucket size portion of them!

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Draft on Urbanspoon

It was so nice to get out there and check out some new places, and it was even better that every place was so good. I think we have found a few places that will be added to our “Usual Haunts List”! Have you checked out any new places lately that you would recommend? Let me know! I’d love to hear about them!

I have a lot to fill you guys in on - trips to Amsterdam and Belgium, Cabo, San Francisco, Portland, OR, a big birthday for me, and some really tasty and easy recipes I discovered over the Summer. I can’t wait to share!

Until next time, take care and happy eating!!

Melissa’s Produce Challenge – The Sequel!

The San Diego Food Bloggers are at it again!  Several of us were sent another box of goodies from Melissa’s Produce http://www.melissas.com/ .  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Check out my blog from March 19th, Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge, to read all about this company.

This time I received a box containing several nectarines, 1 Korean Melon, 8 Rhubarb Stalks, a bunch of Fava Beans, Peaches, a Coconut and an opener, and a jar of Hatch Salsa. There was a delay in receiving the shipment due to the local fires and crazy weather, so the timing wasn’t the best for me. And it was about 100 degrees on the Coast. Enough of my moaning. We don’t get to complain often in San Diego, so just humor me. I loved the challenge placed before me!  Really, I did!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced.  I hadn't had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own.  I still need to open the salsa.  I love Hatch peppers!!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced. I hadn’t had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own. I still need to open the salsa. I love Hatch peppers!!

Melissa's Produce

Very cool to receive both of these ingredients, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Very cool to receive both of these, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Fava Farro Salad

I will post this recipe soon!

I knew when I saw the Rhubarb, that was a must. Rhubarb is one of my most favorite things in the world. I made a rhubarb cocktail last year.  I really need to do that again!!  But back to this challenge!  I decided to create a flat bread and top it with rhubarb, nectarines, peaches, and goat cheese. I had never tried a Korean Melon, and I was limited on time, so I opted to set that aside. I wanted something to serve alongside of the flatbread, so I made a Farro Salad with Fava Beans and Tomatoes.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

Second step: peel away the second "shell".  I read that some say this is not necessary.  I tried a fava with and without that second layer.  I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it.  It does take time.

Second step: peel away the second “shell”. I read that some say this is not necessary. I tried a fava with and without that second layer. I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it. It does take time.

Since I had some goat cheese on hand, I crumbled some more goat cheese into the salad. Why not? If I could get away with goat cheese in my coffee, I would.  This flatbread turned out to be so good that my husband and I ate the whole thing in one night.  Don’t judge us!  You try to stop halfway!!

Yum.

Yum.

Thyme to make the dough!  I can't get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme to make the dough! I can’t get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme To Eat Your Fruit Flatbread!

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

1 package active yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2.5 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Several sprigs of fresh thyme (extra to sprinkle on top)

3 Tablespoon olive oil

6 fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped

2 nectarines, chopped

3 peaches, chopped

4 oz goat cheese (You can really add however much you like. I could easily add way more.)

Cornmeal for dusting

1) In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy.

2)In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, thyme, and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in additional flour until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

3) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover; let rise 30 minutes or until double in size.

4) Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside. Punch down dough. Roll and shape until the dough is the size of the entire baking sheet. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently press the rhubarb, nectarines, and peaches into shaped dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with extra thyme. With a pastry brush, brush remaining olive oil over the flatbread.

5) Bake 18 minutes or until flatbread is the desired color and the fruit is tender. I turned the broiler on for an additional few minutes to get it a little crisper. Remember to never leave the room and keep an eye on it because broilers can work fast!!

Make sure to check out this link and read what the other Food Bloggers created!  And huge THANK YOU goes out to Melissa’s Produce!  Once again, you sent a wonderful box of tasty treats!!  Thanks again! Take Care and Happy Eating!  An InLinkz Link-up

One Heck Of A Meal

If you are free, try to checkout this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It's a fact;)

If you are free, try to check out this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It’s a fact:)

 

How often do you cook dinner? I usually cook dinner 5 nights a week. That’s a lot of meals. As much as enjoy trying new recipes and making some up, I have those dishes that I always revisit throughout the year. As a kid, my mom’s favorite go-to meals were meatloaf, perch, spaghetti with jarred Ragu, and liver and onions. There was always a half-gallon of milk on the table, and it always had this orange plastic holder with a handle. Why? I’m not sure. Where did my Mom even get that thing? And where did it go?

My go-to meals are salmon (either seared or in cake form), big salads with a ton of stuff in it, good old pasta with a tomato sauce (and I admit, often it is Barilla), and some kind of grain salad, like wheat berry or Farro, with roasted veggies and chicken. But because I cook a lot of meals, I don’t want to get too repetitive, so I look everywhere for new ideas.

I made a meal the other night from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/08/Armenian-cookbook-vegan-eggplant-casserole/), and Franz claimed it is one of his favorites. It is so simple to make, it smells awesome, and it is delicious. This will be added to my “go-to” meals without a doubt. The creator of the recipe, Dikranouhi Kirazian, is a local San Diegan who just published Armenian Vegan: A Pure Vegan Cookbook with 200+Recipes Using No Animal Products. I might have come up with a sexier title, but if this recipe is a good example of the rest of her work, I will have to buy this one!

Eggplant Casserole (Any notes in parenthesis, highlighted and in italics are my notes or additions.)

Serves 2 to 4

2 large eggplants

Olive oil (for brushing eggplant)

Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste (or any herbs you prefer that can withstand being broiled)

For the sauce

2 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped  (I added more because I love garlic.)

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I added more because I love mushrooms.)

2 bay leaves

1⁄2 teaspoon oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

8-ounce can tomato sauce (I had a 15 oz jar of tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s, so I added the whole thing. I like it a little saucy!)

Wash eggplant and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick round slices. Place slices on a large tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder ( I had some Santa Maria seasoning that I wanted to use, so I sprinkled that on them.). Turn slices over and repeat on other side. Put under a broiler preheated to between 350 and 400 degrees (I put my oven to 425 degrees to achieve the necessary browning), and broil both sides until a light golden brown. When done, remove from oven and set aside.(I opted to slice each round in half after broiling. I figured it would be a little easier to eat.)

Prepare the sauce while eggplant is cooking: Chop onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes in small amount of olive oil; then add the rest of the olive oil, mushrooms and all other spices. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and stir frequently. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat.

Prepare for baking: Pour several spoons of sauce on the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch or 9-by-9-inch casserole dish. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with eggplant slices. Spoon some of the sauce on this layer; then add new layers, spooning sauce over each. Be sure to keep some sauce to pour over top layer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake casserole dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, as a main dish with rice or any pasta, and with a crunchy baguette. Can also be served cold as an appetizer. (I served this with Barilla’s Linguine.)

Sorry there are no photos.  I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t realize how much I would love it, and the leftovers didn’t look very pretty.  However, if you go to the UT link noted in the beginning, there is a beautiful photo!

I couldn’t leave you without one image.  I found my childhood milk holder!

This is it!!!!

This is it!!!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge!

Recently, I received an email from Barbara from Barbara Cooks (http://www.barbaracooks.com/) asking if the bloggers of San Diego might be interested in receiving a box of items from Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/).  The “Challenge” was to take what was delivered to you and create a delicious recipe.  First, I love getting things shipped to me.  I feel like it’s Christmas!  Second, no surprise, I love food.  Third, I love playing around with food to create something new.  Fourth, I love knowing that a bunch of people out there have the same ingredients and will come up with very different recipes.

I’ve heard of Melissa’s Produce, but I didn’t know much about the company, which the owners, Joe and Sharon Hernandez, named after their daughter.  It’s basically an online grocery store for very unique items.  There’s everything from organic fruit baskets to organic blue agave syrup to Pinot Noir and Chestnut basket.  Can’t find Armenian cucumbers at your grocery store or Farmers’ Market?  Just go to Melissa’s Produce.  There are a ton of recipes online created by their five Corporate Chefs.  Say you bought quinoa at your grocery store and you don’t know how to cook it, or maybe you’ve cooked it a million times and you need a fresh idea for dinner.  Just type in “quinoa” on the website’s recipe search engine, and several recipes are at your fingertips.  Maybe Muscato Cashew Quinoa will strike your fancy.  My only question, are you hiring, Melissa’s Produce???

I must admit that this service is pricey.  Here’s what I received: Fava Beans (shelled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8.8 ounces), Baby Beets (peeled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8 ounces), Brussel Sprouts (10 ounces), Leeks (cleaned and sliced, 6 ounces), Red Quinoa (6 ounces), Dried Chanterelle (.5 ounces), Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes (1.5 pounds), and Ojai Pixie Tangerines (1 pound).  I received smaller quantities than if I were to have ordered the items myself.  I estimate the total amount for the portions I received to be around $40.  For certain items, overnight shipping is required, so you can add almost $20 for the FedEx delivery.  Everything I received was in perfect condition and tasted great.

Melissa Leeks

Melissa Brussel

Melissa Chanterelle

Melissaquinoa

Roasting Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes

Roasting Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes

My mom was visiting from Cleveland, Ohio when the shipment arrived.  She was excited to see what was in the box and what I’d make with it.  A few days after I received the box, I just started sautéing things.  My Mom asked what my plan was, and I honestly wasn’t certain.  It just kind of came together.  We were talking, and I’d roast Brussels Spouts.  We’d talk more, and I chopped Fava Beans.  We’d talk some more, and I sautéed leeks and cook quinoa.  Next thing I knew, I created  Quinoa Stuffed Chicken with a Spicy Soy Orange Glaze and, as I call it, Mish Mosh Potato Salad.

My finished product! This was one tasty potato salad!

My finished product! This was one tasty potato salad!

For the potato salad, I halved the Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes and put them, sliced side down, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  I covered the sheet with foil and put them into the oven at around 400 degrees.  Once the potatoes were soft, I removed the foil, flipped those bad Dutch Babies over and continued cooking them in the oven until they were nicely browned.  I roasted the Brussel Sprouts in the oven at around 400 degrees, as well, until they were browned and softened slightly.  Once I removed them from the oven, I did a rough chop on those lovely mini cabbages.  I placed the potatoes and Brussel Sprouts in a large bowl and added the Red Beets which I roughly chopped, as well.  I took walnut oil and balsamic vinegar, whisked it until it emulsified, and added it to the potato salad.  I usually do a ratio of one part vinegar to two parts oil, but I must admit I don’t really measure.  I added a little salt and pepper, too, and that was it!

The final product for the main course!

The final product for the main course!

Like I mentioned earlier, this was a “do whatever I felt like” kind of cooking day.  I love sautéing leeks and garlic, so that’s where I started.  First, I sautéed the leeks in olive oil over medium to medium high heat until the softened and were golden, probably around 6 minutes.  I added a few garlic cloves I had chopped and continued cooking for about a minute.  I added about 2 ounces of white wine (mainly because I felt like a glass of wine while I was cooking), and I raised the heat and cooked for a few minutes.  Right about then, the house smelled amazing.  I had cooked the quinoa in chicken stock earlier, so I added the leek mixture to the quinoa.  Earlier, I had also reconstituted the Chanterelles. I simply boil water, add the mushrooms, turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let them sit for 30 minutes or until they have softened.  I rinse the mushrooms very well after.  I chopped the Chanterelles and the Fava Beans, and I added them to the quinoa mixture.  I added some ground pepper and salt, to taste.  The amount of quinoa filling was enough for 8-10 chicken breasts.  I didn’t realize just how much it would make, but I love leftovers!

I pounded the chicken and put as much filling as I could in each breast, approximately 1/2 a cup of filling for each.  I folded the chicken breast so that the filling remained inside, and I tied the chicken with kitchen twine.  I put the stuffed chicken into a baking dish coated with olive oil, covered, into the oven (around 375 degrees) for about an hour, or until it reached 165 degrees internally.

While the chicken cooked, I threw together a few items I had on hand for a sauce.  In a bowl, I whisked together orange juice (about 1/2 cup), soy sauce (about 4 tablespoons), agave (4 Tablespoons), white vinegar (2 healthy Tablespoons), and a couple of Tablespoons of chile paste.  If you like it really spicy or not very, this amount can be catered to your taste.  After whisking to combine, I placed the mixture into a pan and brought it to a boil while continuing to whisk.  Once it reached a boil, I reduced the temperature and I let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  It will reduce slightly and thicken.  I added the chicken breasts to the pan and continued cooking at a medium heat while basting the chicken with the sauce.  At this point, the chicken is cooked, I just wanted to really infuse the chicken with the flavors of the sauce.  I got the idea of doing an orange juice based sauce because of the tangerines in the shipment.  I decided to simply eat the tangerines as a dessert.  It was a perfect meal, if I do say so myself!

I can’t wait to read what other local bloggers created!  What a fun idea!  A huge “Thank You” goes out to Barbara and Melissa’s Produce!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Here is the link to see all of the Bloggers who participated: An InLinkz Link-up

Mardi Gras Time!!

Where has 2014 gone?  I feel like I just got back from visiting family and friends in Cleveland, Ohio for Christmas. Yikes.  And now it’s March (start the Christmas ads already!), and I’m awaiting my Mom’s arrival later today.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Monsieur says “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

I remember, as a kid, Fat Tuesday meant a lot more.  Being Catholic, it meant Lent was coming, and that was the toughest part of the year for me.  No meat on Fridays?  No fried bologna sandwiches after I got home from school?  I don’t think I was supposed to eat before church on Sunday, too.  I think I’m remembering that correctly, or my parents were just trying to get me to wait to eat again?  And I had to give something up for the entire Lent season which is about 6 weeks??  No wonder Easter was such a big deal to me!  I searched for that hidden basket of candy on Easter like I was Indian Jones searching for the Ark of the Covenant!   Hey, I loved to eat back then, too.

So if you are in San Diego, and you want to live large today or tonight, here are my top 5 pics.

5) If you haven’t had breakfast yet (If you are a SDSU student and just rolled out of bed and realized you just missed Psych 101 and Intro to Badminton, this is really for you!), start the day off right with a breakfast burrito with chorizo at Dos Brasas (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dos-Brasas/113327022054498).  They pack it full and it is steaming hot when you get it.  Have some chips, salsa and carrots while you wait.  If you’ve had breakfast already, it is perfectly acceptable to have this for lunch or dinner.

4) Venissimo (http://www.venissimo.com/)  What better way to live large?  Really go big and sample a ton of their cheeses, and then buy a bunch to take home.  Eat, and then eat more.  That’s today’s motto.

3) Cookies!!!  I love making my own cookies, but sometimes I don’t have the time.  The recipe I use requires my dough be refrigerated overnight, so it’s good to know where to go in a pinch.  I love 2 companies: Badunkachunk (http://www.badunkachunk.com/) and The Cravory (http://thecravory.com/).  Both companies sell online, but you can find them in San Diego.  My favorite spot to get Badunkachunk is at Rubicon Deli (http://therubicondeli.com/) .  Hey, that’s a great Mardi Gras stop!  A fatty sandwich on house made bread with an outrageously fat cookie is one sweet meal.  I checked out The Cravory at a bloggers’ event this past Saturday.  The owners, Adam, Nate, and Derek, take cookies seriously.  They spent a crazy amount of time (or as I see it, just the right amount of time) making sure each ingredient is the best. Cookies

This Rosemary cookie was one of my favorites!

This Rosemary cookie was one of my favorites!

The owners of The Cravory

The owners of The Cravory (and me!)

The result is a delicious, thick, flavorful cookie. But you have to hurry in because the cookie menu is always changing, and once a flavor is sold out, it could be gone forever, my friend. Previously you had to drive around to farmers’ markets to find their stuff.  All you have to do now is look for the Souplantation (http://www.souplantation.com/locations/restaurant.aspx?store_id=2&store_name=Point_Loma) in Point Loma and you will find their new storefront.  It’s super tiny, so it’s easy to miss, but it’s really cute inside.  Check it out!

2) Garlic Knots (or as they are listed on the menu, Garlic Nuts, but I refuse to order them that way) at Hillcrest Brewing Company (http://hillcrestbrewingcompany.com/).  I haven’t had great garlic knots since I was in NYC.  Talk about an indulgent thing to eat.  There is not one health benefit to eating one (or 6) of these babies.  I was never a fan of the beers crafted at HBC, so I would always stick with the list of guest beers.  However, the bartender explained to me and my husband that the owner was no longer brewing and there was a new brewer on board.  I was very happy to hear this because the Hillcrest area needs to improve its beer situation, and this is a great step!

I will always order these as "Garlic Knots".

I will always order these as “Garlic Knots”.

1) This is tough.  I kept it to five because that is a reasonable amount to cover in a day, right??  I don’t want to list a great dinner place because I’m trying to suggest places where you can eat something and not be full for the entire day.  Hmmm.  And I would suggest Extraordinary Desserts (http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com/) or Eclipse Chocolate (http://eclipsechocolate.com/), but that is just too obvious.  I wish the hush puppies at American Voodoo (https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Voodoo/629546020395414) were better because that would work so well for this day.  I hate to do this, but I can’t help myself.  My final suggestion for tonight is another cheese item, an appetizer at Mozza (http://www.pizzeriamozza.com/).  Whether it’s today, tonight, or in a month, you have to go and order Mozza Caprese and Pane Bianco with extra virgin olive oil.  It’s kind of annoying the two items aren’t listed and sold together because you obviously need this divine (yep, I wrote divine) bread to go with this out of this world burrata.

You will NEVER want Caprese anywhere else after this experience. Period. Burrata. Period. Enough said.

You will NEVER want Caprese anywhere else after this experience. Period. Burrata. Period. Enough said.

I hope this gives you a nice road map for the day!  Let me know you favorite indulgent spot!  Please!!  I love hearing what you guys like, too!

Sir is looking forward to his next meal.  Are you?

Sir is looking forward to his next meal. Are you?

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Dos Brasas Taco Shop on Urbanspoon

The Cravory on Urbanspoon

Hillcrest Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon

Jail House Rocks!

Elvis knew what he was signing about in Jail House Rock! Fun times to be had! Wait, what???

Near an area known as Seaport Village in Downtown San Diego, a major structure has been standing empty waiting to be put to good for decades.  In 1939, a 100,000 square foot Police Headquarters was constructed.  Amongst the five buildings, it housed a crime lab, 274 jail beds, courtrooms, a three-story gym and more.  Eventually a larger space was needed, so the new police headquarters was relocated at Broadway and 14th in 1987.  The original building was going to be demolished, but some wise people fought against that and had it added to the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources and preserved the architectural styles which consists of Spanish Colonial, Pueblo Decor, Mediterranean, and Classical Revival.

Jail Cells

Today, when you go to The Headquarters (http://www.theheadquarters.com/) you will be much happier than the previous “visitors”.  It’s a retail bonanza!  Now you can shop and dine to your heart’s content.   There are 23 businesses and there are a few more to open in the near future.  What I was looking forward to the most was  Pizzeria Mozza, owned by Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joseph Bastianich.  I had the Burrata and Oven Roasted Tomato appetizer at their location in L.A. some time ago.  I still dream about those amazing flavors.  I’m so happy to have the opportunity to dine there with only a 15 minute drive!

A group of us Food Bloggers were invited to check out the new facility this past Tuesday.  The renovations are truly amazing.  Original skylights, clay roof tiles, courtyard pavers, carved-wood doors, ceramic tiles, ironwork on the windows, light fixtures, all have been saved.  Each restaurant and shop very wisely incorporated what was original to the space.  You can take a quick tour of the original jail cells, browse past some Historic Police memorabilia, and look at photos of criminals who spent time behind the bars.  And it lists the crime committed by the people, which is very entertaining.  Again, for you, not them!  My favorite crime listed was “Weed Head”.

I will mention just a few of my favorite spots because there is so much to discover here.

1) Aaron Chang Ocean Art Gallery (http://aaronchang.com/gallery):  Mr. Chang’s photographs are crisp, inviting, and intriguing.  What I love is that he wants you to know the story behind the images.  My background is in Art History, so I’m accustomed  to trying to decipher meaning behind a painting.  I found it very cool that he wants to share the story of his work.  Next to many of the images is a QR code that you can scan with your phone to get more information on the photograph.

Aaron Chang 2

2) Dallman Fine Chocolate Boutique (http://www.dallmannconfections.com/): We weren’t able to try the chocolate, so I can’t tell you how it is. I can share that I love the cute little interior of this shop.  This is a family business that started in Austria in 1954.  In 2006, they opened a shop in San Diego. What I loved about this store is their pairing suggestions.  Since I just had a beer, cheese and chocolate pairing at my house, the Chocolate and Beer Pairing Box caught my eye.  This is a great option for someone who is afraid to make the first step in pairing two of the best things in the world.

Dallman Chocolate 4

I loved that the original spiral staircase is Dallman’s. Prisoners would go through this area for processing.

Dallman Chocolate

3) Kitson (http://www.shopkitson.com/): If you know someone who loves to be an “L.A. Hipster” (I’m thinking my niece would love this place), you will find some great gift ideas here!

Kitson

4) Lolo (https://www.facebook.com/LOLOBOUTIQUES): If you are over the age of 25, this is a great locally owned shop for you. Everything is really well priced and super cute.  This was one shop I had to return to after our tour was over and buy a sweet necklace for $15.  We were told that the owner likes to take ideas from the major runways and make it affordable.  Stop in this place, and you will leave with something.

I loved the wallpaper!

I loved the wallpaper!

5) Pizzeria Mozza (http://www.pizzeriamozza.com/): Originally an L.A. restaurant, it has a full menu, but it is known for its pizza.  As I mentioned before, the Burrata appetizer I had in L.A. was phenomenal.  At this location, we sampled two pizzas: a Mushroom, Fontina, and Taleggio Pie and a Finnochiona Salame, Mozzarella, Tomato and Fresno Chiles Pie.  My favorite was the meat pizza.  The tomato sauce was so bright and fresh with a nice flavor of olive oil and an extra kick of heat from the chiles.  I’d recommend this one!

Mozza 3

6) Puesto (http://www.eatpuesto.com/): I love this place. Quickest review ever: Super friendly staff, amazing Mexican street food, restaurant designed by the well-known Thomas Schoos, mural artwork by Chor Boogie (http://www.chorboogie.com/), and a trifecta when it comes to mixologists - you will not get some crappy Margarita here, my friend.  And that term “mixologist” can be used loosely or just plain incorrectly.  Not here. Check out this bio: http://queenconnerward.com/about.html  Jen Queen told us about some interesting tequila events that are upcoming, and explained that they do table side Margarita mixings.  Who doesn’t love a drink cart that pulls up tableside? Do not miss this place.

PuestoPuesto 2

7) Seaside Home |Paper:  The store combines the best of their La Jolla location (http://www.seaside-home.com/) and their Coronado location (http://seasidepapery.com/) in one spot.  Is a friend about to get married?  Stop in here for wonderful stationary, wrapping paper, or custom monogrammed paper coasters.  There are so many fun things to see here. Don’t pass it by.

Seaside Home|Paper is beautiful inside!

Seaside Home|Paper is beautiful inside!

Seaside's window display was so pretty!

Seaside’s window display was so pretty!

Maybe you can find out what the fox says at Seaside?

Maybe you can find out what the fox says at Seaside?

8) Seasons 52 (http://www.seasons52.com/): Talk about friendly!  I loved this place. We tasted some lovely flat breads that weren’t too heavy while sipping on a delightful Raspberry and Mint Lemonade.  We capped off our tasting with beautiful and very tasty individual desserts.  The Pecan Pie was to die for!  “52″ refers to the 52 weeks in a year, hence many menu items are constantly changing to incorporate Seasonal items.  Having a special party?  Go here and request the patio or their Chef’s Table. The little tastes we got just makes me want to go back and investigate this place further! FYI, if you don’t live in San Diego, they have a bunch of locations throughout the U.S.

Seasons 52

Lobster Flatbread

Lobster Flatbread

The Pecan Pie was amazing!  it tasted like Pecan Pie Crème Brulee!

The Pecan Pie at Seasons 52 was amazing! it tasted like Pecan Pie Crème Brulee!

9) Simply Local (http://simplylocalsandiego.com/): LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this place.  Looking for an extremely cool gift to give to someone that is made in San Diego?  Look no further.  Have a friend who loves local honey?  It’s here.  Love Pub Cakes? Buy their mix here. Don’t even know what Pub Cakes is (http://pubcakes.com/#craft-beer-cupcakes)?  See what your San Diego small business owners  have been up to in one spot!  Need a hip beer t-shirt?  Simply Local has you covered.  Not only are the products for sale so interesting, the shelving has a unique story as well.  Owner Brian D. Beevers made them out of his family barn.  Yep, it’s that kind of store.  I hate shopping, but I can actually spend a day in here.

Simply Local is simply awesome.

Simply Local is simply awesome.

10) Venissimo Cheese (http://www.venissimo.com/): Best cheese store in San Diego.  Boom!  Need I say more?

Apparently Venissimo means Cheese Heaven in Italian.

Apparently Venissimo means Cheese Heaven in Italian.

Possibly the best single bite of the day.  Thank you, Venissimo.

Possibly the best single bite of the day. Thank you, Venissimo.

This Cinnamon Almond Butter paired with Delice de Bourgogne and topped with an Amarena Cherry.  Want to amaze people at a dinner party? Start with this treat.

This Cinnamon Almond Butter paired with Delice de Bourgogne and topped with an Amarena Cherry. Want to amaze people at a dinner party? Start with this treat.

Do yourself a huge favor and check this place out.  The only drawback is parking. There is valet parking for $10 Monday – Thursday from 11am-3pm, and is

Cute gifts to be had at Venissimo, too! And crackers!  And meat! And, ok, I'll stop.

Cute gifts to be had at Venissimo, too! And crackers! And meat! And, ok, I’ll stop.

$15 from 3pm-11pm all day Friday through Sunday.  There is self parking at the nearby Seaport Village.  With a minimum $10 purchase, you pay $3 for the first 2 hours and $2 every 30 minutes after.  Without validation, it’s $8 an hour.  I’m always bummed when I have to pay to park at a place where I am coming to spend money.  Oh well.  Such is life.

I promise to have a couple of tasty recipes coming up soon!  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

Take Care, Happy Eating and Happy Holidays!

I Want To Wake Up In . . .

. . . that city

That doesn’t sleep

And find I’m king of the hill

Top of the heap . . .

Sing it, Ol’ Blue Eyes!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMfz1jlyQrw

What a great song about a great city.  After living in The Big Apple for a New York Minute, as they say, Franz and I agreed that we had to return for a visit every year.  Last year a pesky hurricane cancelled our trip, so we were super excited to return this year.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never stepped foot in NYC, or if you have been so many times you feel very comfortable telling a cabbie about to hit you as you cross the street to stick a knish where the sun doesn’t shine,  it’s overwhelming because there are so many options!

This year we opted to stay in the downtown area, right across the street from One World Trade Center.  Hotels can be a little less expensive, its away from the major foot traffic, and it is easy to get from here to anywhere on the island and beyond with the subway.  Interested in seeing One World Trade Center?  Wait a year or two.  It’s a pain in the butt, especially if it’s snowing or raining, entering the space.  There are so many people visiting and I felt like I was going through airport security.  Not a peaceful entrance to say the least.  You can walk around the two impressive waterfalls, but the museum is not scheduled to open until Spring.  Again, wait a year and then go.  It’s best to make a reservation well ahead of time.  One year we went and didn’t have a reservation and it was booked for the entire weekend.  This time one could get a spot without a reservation, but it requires waiting in an additional line which was very long.  After getting through all of the check points, waiting in line after line, and removing coats and belts, I felt very moved and beyond sad seeing the actual site and all of those names listed around the fountains.  It’s a tough way to start a trip, but necessary, I believe.

One World Trade 6

Between checking into our hotel and making our appointment time at One World, we grabbed the subway and headed over to Brooklyn for a pie at Grimaldi’s (http://grimaldisnyc.com/about/).  Again, this is where one can get very overwhelmed.  You can read websites, blogs, newspapers, Facebook post, whatever – you will get so many great recommendations for pizza.  I like Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn because I love their pizza and I love seeing the Brooklyn Bridge.  The crust is a nice thin, but not too thin, crust.  They put just enough fresh sauce on it to make me smile, and not so much cheese that I want to take a nap.  I like my pie simple: pepperoni with fresh ricotta.  They put fresh basil on it, but I asked for extra on the side.  I like lots of fresh basil.  And pepper flakes.  That’s it. Fold that baby in half (lengthwise) and now we are talking!

Grimaldis Entrance

The location I’ve been to in the past was a couple of doors down from the new spot. I loved the new location. It’s more comfortable, and I like sitting upstairs. Again, I love people watching!!

Grimaldis 1

No Frills Menu

No Frills Menu

We had to include our pup, Monsieur.

We had to include our pup, Monsieur.

Day 2 of our trip was Thanksgiving.  We slept in (which we never do!), polished off some coffee and amazing bagels in the Hell’s Kitchen area called Pick A Bagel. We found it through Yelp, and it was way better than some of the reviews!  Just like the pizza, you can become inundated with recommendations for a good bagel place – and there are bad ones.  Sometimes you have to wing it and you might be pleasantly surprised! Our plan was to walk throughout Central Park after the Macy’s Day Parade was over (we had zero interest getting into that mess), call the family in Ohio, check out our old neighborhood around 71st and 1st, and then meander up to Harlem for our Thanksgiving Buffet reservation at Ginny’s Supper Club.

Pretty sure this is what Heaven smells like.

Pretty sure this is what Heaven smells like.

Now this is the way to start Thanksgiving morning!

Now this is the way to start Thanksgiving morning! We shared an Egg Salad on Rye.

Pick A Bagel even had cupcakes that looked like Hostess Cakes! I really wanted one.

Pick A Bagel even had cupcakes that looked like Hostess Cakes! I really wanted one.

Making plans for Thanksgiving was a huge deal.  I love making a turkey dinner, and I’ve never gone to a restaurant for the special day.  Thanksgiving and Halloween are my favorite days of the year by far!  I didn’t want to screw it up!  I’ve been wanting to go to Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s Red Rooster restaurant (http://redroosterharlem.com/) for years. While trying to find the perfect dinner spot, I discovered Red Rooster has a restaurant on the basement level, Ginny’s Supper Club (http://www.ginnyssupperclub.com/).  My checklist for the perfect restaurant Thanksgiving dinner:

  1. Buffet style.  We didn’t want one plate of food or a silly 3 course option.  Boo!
  2. Not crazy expensive.
  3. Turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing had to be on the buffet.
  4. Cozy atmosphere with a Holiday vibe.

Ginny’s hit everything on my wish list.  And there were fabulous entertainers throughout the meal, too.  I felt like I went back in time.  I ordered a Moscow Mule and let the eating games begin!  I would highly recommend this place.  My only complaint was that we officially had the worst server in the world.  Everyone else around us had great servers. Ours, to put bluntly, sucked.

Here are just a few photos of what was consumed . . .

Ginnys Buffet

The spread . . .

Ginny's Meats

Meat . . .

Ginny's Turkey

. . . and more meat.

The Mac and Cheese was one of our favorites!

The Mac and Cheese was one of our favorites!

I could eat roasted veggies ever single day.

I could eat roasted veggies ever single day.

Never had Catfish on Thanksgiving before!

Never had Catfish on Thanksgiving before!

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup!

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup!

Thanksgiving isn’t complete without these sides!

 . . .but these were just meh.  I think they were mislabeled.  They tasted like a  simple Pumpkin Bar.  Kind of a buzz kill.

. . .but these were just meh. I think they were mislabeled. They tasted like a simple Pumpkin Bar. Kind of a buzz kill.

The Pumpkin Whoopie  Pies were good . . .

The Pumpkin Whoopie Pies were good . . .

Ginnys sign

Two very full customers!

ginnys table

Our table had such a great view of the band – and awesome spot for people watching!

I will give you a few more recommendation in the next post.  One of my goals on this trip was to spend more time in Brooklyn which we accomplished.  It is an amazing area with so many things to do.  I’ll fill you in on some spots not to miss and a couple of places that you can pass by.

Whenever I go to NYC, I always go with an itinerary in hand.  However, the best tip to give on traveling around the city is to be flexible (and learn to use the subway! So easy and so much faster than a taxi!).  If you see an interesting bar or shop, stop in.  If you can’t make it to that amazing cupcake shop you read about in some random blog like this one, who cares?  I love looking back at my itinerary to see which places I never visited.  Hey, it’s a list for another time!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!