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!

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Baja In Your Backyard!

How is everyone? I have had some really good days along with some really bad ones for the past couple of weeks. Thank God for the good ones, right? I want to focus on the good stuff for the moment! I was so fortunate to get an invitation from Carolyn Kates to a Blogger and Media Event at 7th Avenue Pub at Whole Foods Market in Hillcrest. What, you just go to there to shop? My friend, you are missing out. Granted, not every WFM has a pub, but a few in the San Diego area do, and I highly recommend checking it out. I even noticed a Whole Foods Market recently opened pubs in Arlington, VA and Wayne, PA. Check out if your local store has one, and if not, ask for one!
When my local WFM opened its pub, aptly named 7th Avenue Pub, my husband and I were curious as to how well it would do and what quality of beers would be offered – and at what price. (By the way, the La Jolla location’s pub is named Torrey Pints. I love that name, too.) We have become regulars. Usually we stop in for a flight of beer after a run around Balboa Park. You get 4 tastings for $5 during happy hour. And there are always plenty of taps of local brews from which to choose. Often, Franz and I will throw in an order of the delicious Roasted Brussels Sprouts and/or Seared Tuna. Nice way to end a run!

7th Ave Pub Whole Foods 2

I Highly Suggest a Post Run Beer Flight

However, the event I attended focused on the new menu created by Chef Martin San Roman and the wines from Monte Xanic Winery. The menu is Baja inspired, and Chef San Roman has an extensive background in French cuisine.  What better taste combo?? You can taste both influences in the Flautas de Pato, a smoked duck with chile de arbol. Another favorite of mine was the Baja Burger. If you are a fan of turkey burgers, but can’t find a good one, give this one a try and let me know what you think. The Cranberry Cabernet Jam makes me feel like I’m seated with my family around a big Thanksgiving meal.

Baja Turkey Burger

Mini Baja Turkey Burger

There are so many flavors to take in when eating the Flautas De Pato. Just give into it!

There are so many flavors to take in when eating the Flautas De Pato. Just give into it!

It is suggested to pair the Baja Burger with Cavas Valmar Tempranillo.  Yes, please!

It is suggested to pair the Baja Burger with Cavas Valmar Tempranillo. Yes, please!

Rustica Salad - Super Fresh and Delicious!

Rustica Salad – Super Fresh and Delicious!

I’ve always focused on the beers at 7th Ave Pub, but at this event, we sampled wine from Monte Xanic Winery, from the Guadeloupe Valley. Baja wines? Hmmm. My favorite wines seem to come from California, Australia, Spain, and Argentina. My least favorite wines seem to be from areas like France and Italy. I didn’t say I don’t like wines from those areas, I just tend to go for the bolder wines – kind of like my love of IPAs. I guess I like a punch to the taste buds every so often. Hans Backoff Sr., founder of Monte Xanic Winery and Master Enologist, was on hand to discuss the wines from this area.

Mr. Hans Backoff Sr.

Mr. Hans Backoff Sr. (left) and Mr. Juan Tintos Funke, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Baja California (right)

So what did I think?  What an eye-opener – and taste bud opener. I sampled three whites and one red. All were delicious and perfectly paired with Chef San Roman’s dishes. I could eat Molletes Tapas (amazing mini bread layered with beans and three cheeses with olive oil, sour cream and pico de gallo) and drink Monte Xanic’s Cabernet Merlot blend ($6 a glass) all night long!

Baja Wines Baja Wines 2

The great thing about this place is that it feels really comfortable.  I’ve seen many families having dinner and drinks with strollers in tow.  I’ve seen women having a drink before they most likely head out for a night on the town. I remember those days!  Now I call it around 9pm, if I’m lucky!  There always seems to be someone from the local craft beer industry striking up a conversation with random people at the bar.  There are a few televisions, so it’s a great place to watch the game.  Franz and I watched a football game this past Sunday.  For $19, we had a pitcher of Tailgate Dodgy Knight IPA and a pepperoni pizza.  Not bad at all!  And with the huge floor to ceiling windows facing 7th Avenue and University Avenue, you don’t feel like you are stuck in some grocery store.

Trio Of Ceviche

Trio Of Ceviche

Like Bruschetta?  Try Molletes Tapas!!

Like Bruschetta? Try Molletes Tapas!!

Vegan Jicama Wraps with Tofu

Vegan Jicama Wraps with Tofu

I will still order my Brussel Sprouts, but I will definitely add a few of the new menu items to my after-run menu!  And, I would love, in addition to the beer flights offered, if maybe a wine flight might be added??  Just a suggestion!

Chef San Roman and Mr. Juan Tintos Funke

Chef San Roman and Mr. Juan Tintos Funke

Job Well Done To The Entire Whole Foods Market Staff!

Job Well Done To The Entire Whole Foods Market Staff!

I was so honored to meet Chef Su-Mei Yu.  Have you watched her show Savor San Diego?  Have you been to Saffron?  Both are a must!

I was so honored to meet Chef Su-Mei Yu. Have you watched her show Savor San Diego? Have you been to Saffron? Both are a must!

7th Avenue Pub on Urbanspoon
Take Care and Happy Eating!

San Diego Magazine Best Restaurants Kick-Off Party

What’s the best pizza place in San Diego?  If someone says Bronx, do you A) agree because you think it’s pretty darn good B) go on a tirade about how Luigi’s is far superior or C) you can’t name a place because pizza is just too unhealthy so you never eat it?  If you answered C, why are you reading my blog?  If you answered A, pick up the June edition of San Diego Magazine and leisurely peruse the list of Best Restaurants.  If you answered A, pick up the magazine, and do what I do and yell (in your own head) that you completely disagree with over half of the winners.  I say this because I actually like to read lists just so I can disagree with them.  Don’t most people?

Wednesday night, two friends, my husband, and I attended the San Diego Magazine Best Restaurants Kick-Off Party at Fixtures Living off of Miramar Road (http://www.fixturesliving.com/).  I bought a ticket for $40 which included this party and the big blow-out party on August 23rd in Point Loma.  One year, a bunch of my friends and I attend the Point Loma event and we had a great time sampling food and drinks from a slew of places.  I wasn’t even aware of the pre-party!  Big mistake!  Initially, I was weary of the venue.  For those not familiar with the area known as Carroll Canyon Business Park, it looks as exciting as its name.  Fixtures Living will open at the UTC mall down the road in the Fall which will make it more convenient to stop in and browse.  It ended up being the perfect location.  I had never been in this store before.  It is expansive, and it has room after room of high-end items for the kitchen.   It was so fun eating and drinking in staged kitchens with ranges that cost $50,000!  “Oh, this old La Cornue Grand Palais 180? Who doesn’t have one in their kitchen?”  That is a sentence I did not hear once during the evening.

There were only a couple of food stations that I missed.  I was really bummed, but at one point, I could no longer eat anymore.  The highlight of the night was Azucar.  Go to the website if only for the music: http://www.iloveazucar.com/ I find it very interesting that a Cuban Patisserie is in O.B.  I walked into this place some time ago, and, sadly, I never ordered anything.  I am a silly woman.  The desserts they served were fantastic.  If I were alone, the Turron de Havana would have made me weep, but I had to control myself.  However, I did not control how many I had. Three.  Don’t judge me.  The bottom layer is a hazelnut praline crunch.  Is that enough?  It could be, but these baking Gods top that with ooey, gooey caramel, topped again with dark chocolate mousse, and topped again with ganache.  It was heavenly.  My husband loved the Salted Toffee Oatmeal Cookie.  They reminded him of the style of cookies I like to make – on the thinner side, but full of flavor.  The third dessert was a little shot glass with a burst of flavor: white chocolate cake, passion fruit curd, and a pistachio macaron.  I would like to sincerely apologize to this restaurant for not eating your food as often as possible.  I will make it up to you.  There is a small breakfast and lunch menu, so I will have to check that out now.

Azucar Cuban Style Patisserie on Urbanspoon

In my opinion, the best named vendor goes to BadunkaChunk Cookies (http://badunkachunk.com/).  The name fits the cookie.  They are huge and delicious.  When Missy Elliott sings about her badonkadonk, she might be singing about these cookies, or how the cookies created the badonkadonk in the first place.  You can order cookies over the phone, or you can find them at Rubicon (http://therubicondeli.com/) or at MadFix Coffee Cart in Downtown San Diego on C Street between 6th and 7th (http://www.madfixcoffee.com/default.html).

Who Wouldn't Want This Gift Box???

Badunka Chunk 3

Oh Boy!

Another big taste winner for me was Green Acre, a restaurant created by the very popular Brian Malarkey and James Brennan.  It’s in Sorrento Valley which is kind of random, unless you  work here: http://www.sp-land.com/nautilus.html  It’s only open Monday through Friday, 7am until 3pm. ( http://www.greenacresd.com/).  This is possibly a prototype for future work campuses – healthy, delicious, and interesting meals created not for the shopaholics, but for those slaving away in office buildings.  I remember having to choose between Wendy’s and Subway.  Not fair!!  A Beet.L.T was served, and the best part, other than the fact that I love beets, was the Smoked Cheddar on it.  It was prepared like a tuile, so it was super light in weight, but it packed a major cheese punch.  Sadly, this was the first bite I had, and I completely forgot to take a picture.  Oops.

Green Acre on Urbanspoon

Stella Artois and Miramonte Winery (http://www.miramontewinery.com/) supplied the beverages for the evening, and they were gratefully appreciated.  The Sangiovese went so well with my bag of dark chocolate covered nuts, compliments of Marina Kitchen, located inside the San Diego Marriott Marquis.

Don't Mind If I Do

Franz making sure the pouring is done right.  And I’m pretty sure the guy serving the beer was 13. Yep, I’m old.

Hard at Work!

Hard at Work!

Miramonte WineryAnother restaurant that made me really happy?  And now I must go to their location in La Jolla? Puesto! I had read about this place, and then I never got around to checking it out (http://www.eatpuesto.com/).  The chefs made each taco to order.  The tortillas were made on site, too.  God bless them.  They served 2 tacos: Chicken al Pastor (and I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the pineapple in it. It made it very special.) and Potato Soy Chorizo.  I loved that they placed the cheese on the hot griddle which basically made a cheese “tortilla” which held the filling together, and that was placed in the tortilla.  They had a couple different sauces to top it off, and sliced some fresh avocado to top the little devils.  It was sweet, spicy, and fresh.  I loved it!

Puesto on Urbanspoon

Few Things In The World Are Better Than Hand Made Tortillas. She Is Doing God's Work!

Few Things In The World Are Better Than Hand Made Tortillas. She Is Doing God’s Work!

Puesto Doesn't Mess Around!

Puesto Doesn’t Mess Around

Truly Tasty!

Truly Tasty!

Royal India won my category of Best Schmoozing Effort (https://royalindia.com/) .  My husband and I got cards to return to their Downtown restaurant for free meals with a purchase of a bottle of wine.  If you read my previous post, you know I love Indian food.  I requested both condiments that were being offered, just to get a taste of everything they offer!  One was sweet and one was spicy, and I loved both!  I will be heading to their restaurant to try their Saag, my favorite dish of all time!

I will see you soon! Get the Paneer Saag ready!

I will see you soon! Get the Paneer Saag ready!

I don’t want to go on too long about this event.  I’ve probably already lost a few people along the way!  I will say that I was really impressed with all of the participants, the venue, and the people from San Diego Magazine.  I met the Editor, Erin Chambers Smith, at the Puesto table.  She was so nice, and it was great seeing people in the publishing and food industry enjoying mingling and eating.

Sorry my fork was in the way of this delicious squid ink pasta from Bencotto.  It was tough juggling food, wine and camera phone!

Sorry my fork was in the way of this delicious squid ink pasta from Bencotto. It was tough juggling food, wine and camera phone!

The ribs were a little sweeter than I prefer from Brooklyn Girl, but I've been to this restaurant before and I loved it! Eat at the bar!  Great people watching!

The ribs were a little sweeter than I prefer from Brooklyn Girl, but I’ve been to this restaurant before and I loved it! Eat at the bar! Great people watching!

I wanted cheese.  I got cheese.  Thanks, Monello!

I wanted cheese. I got cheese. Thanks, Monello!

One of the few stations I didn't get a chance to try.  I know.  I'm horrible. Everyone was raving about this dish from Roppongi.

One of the few stations I didn’t get a chance to try. I know. I’m horrible. Everyone was raving about this dish from Roppongi.

How cool is this martini sink?  It even has an olive on the handle!  You can buy it!

How cool is this martini sink? It even has an olive on the handle! You can buy it!

I had Rubicon Deli the other week and fell in love with them. I was happy to see them at this event!

I had Rubicon Deli the other week and fell in love with them. I was happy to see them at this event!

I'm not a fan of the half bacon and half beef burgers at Slater's 50/50, but I do like their "normal" all beef burgers. I love their Peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger!

I’m not a fan of the half bacon and half beef burgers at Slater’s 50/50, but I do like their “normal” all beef burgers. I love their Peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger!

San Diego Magazine Cover

I highly recommend attending this event next year.  It sells out fast, so keep a look out for it, and buy your tickets!  And you can still enjoy all of the great restaurants in San Diego in one spot!  The Best of San Diego Party takes place August 23rd at Liberty Station in Point Loma.  Get your tickets!  Here’s the link with all of the information you will need: http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/January-2013/Best-of-San-Diego-Party/.  Take a look at the San Diego Magazine’s Best Restaurant edition as well.  Let me know if there’s a place you love that should be on their list!  I would love to check it out! Oh, and by the way, Pizzeria Luigi’s rules.

What a great evening! And I forgot to mention Cucina Urbana had some killer pizza coming out of their stone oven. Very appreciated!

What a great evening! And I forgot to mention Cucina Urbana had some killer pizza coming out of their stone oven. Very appreciated!

My partners in food crime - Pete and Marilen.

My partners in (food) crime – Pete and Marilen.

Royal India on Urbanspoon

Monello on Urbanspoon

Brooklyn Girl on Urbanspoon

Bencotto on Urbanspoon

Slater's 50/50 Burgers By Design on Urbanspoon

Cucina Urbana on Urbanspoon

Pizzeria Luigi on Urbanspoon

Marina Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Take Care and Happy Eating!

3 Men and a Baby?? Whatever!! Try 1 Lady,1 Review and 1 Recipe!

This is how my mind works (Stick with me. It does go somewhere!) : I knew I wanted to review a particular restaurant. I checked my email first thing and saw that Adam Ant is coming to San Diego’s Balboa Theatre on July 17th. I started thinking about how I LOVED Adam Ant. I proclaimed to my mother while she was driving way back around 1982 that I will love Adam Ant forever. My sister, Beth, was a high school photographer and was lucky enough to go to his concert in Cleveland, Ohio, and she took photos of him backstage. Beth was already a god to me; this just solidified it. It must have been around 1983 when I had a gym routine requirement with Miss MacDonald. God, I did not like that lady. Sorry, but it is true. Miss McDonald, if you are reading this, you were probably a nice person, I just never got a chance to see that side. Well, I picked the song “Antmusic” by Adam Ant, of course! Like, totally! This was back when there were no Ipods, not even a CD! The horror! I asked my sister to borrow her record, Kings of the Wild Frontier. Beth knew that I, being the little sister, had a horrible track record when I borrowed her stuff. Any articles of clothing were bound to get at least one stain on it, so she was wise to tell me I couldn’t bring the record to school for my gymnastic routine. The problem was that I had choreographed (I use that word loosely) and practiced my routine to that song. I couldn’t change it. What could I do? I had to put a cassette recorder next to the record player and record the song. When I played the cassette tape at the St. Christopher gym, you couldn’t hear it at all. Huge failure. And my routine? Let’s just say I was not Olympic bound.

Check out this classic 1980s video.  Aahhh, good memories! Is he wearing lip gloss?


Thinking about Adam Ant made me think about the 80s and all of the stuff I loved back then. For some reason the movie Three Men and a Baby (1987) came to mind. I started thinking about how if three grown men couldn’t take care of baby, that would be really sad. That led me to think that I shouldn’t just write a review today, I should include a recipe. If it took three men to take care of a baby for a month (or however long they had the kid), I could write a review and a recipe in one post. Yep, all of this from seeing an ad for Adam Ant’s concert.

Project Pie 2
My husband and I checked out Project Pie in Hillcrest this past Sunday. Unfortunately, most of our families are in Cleveland, Ohio, so we were on our own for Mother’s Day. We walked in, and we immediately greeted by the pizza makers. There is a list of pies and a description of each when you enter. It’s kind of cafeteria style. You pick a pie, tell the first person which number you want, move down a bit, tell the next person which additional, and free of charge, toppings you would like. They get your name and the pizza details, and the next person writes it on parchment, and the pie is placed into a big pizza oven. I ordered the #2: Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Crumbled Meatballs, Mozzarella and their Signature Red Sauce. I added Ricotta and Artichoke Hearts, but I wasn’t paying attention and the guy didn’t hear me, so I didn’t get the artichokes I requested. Next time I will speak up and watch which topping are on it before it goes into the oven! Franz went with another option and got a ton of extra toppings. Both pizzas were great. What I love about this place is that everyone gets their own pie. No arguments because one person in the group always wants pineapple on the pizza. You know who you are! Also, they offer a gluten-free crust, and I heard from a friend that it was super tasty. The red sauce was really fresh, and the toppings were flavorful.  The crust was perfect as well.  Great taste and I loved that it wasn’t too thin but not too thick either.  My only tiny complaint was that the center of the pie could have been hotter. It was fine, but I like it a little on the well done side. Oh, I almost forgot, you can order a Nutella and Banana pie. Don’t think I haven’t stopped thinking about that bad boy since Sunday! Currently there are only 2 locations: San Diego and Las Vegas (at The MGM), but Project Pies will be opening soon in Atlanta, NYC, Boulder, D.C., and the Philippines.

Pizza Pies are Being Made to Order!

Pizza Pies are Being Made to Order!

Franz's Choice: #6 With A Bunch of Tasty and Free Toppings!

Franz’s Choice: #6 With A Bunch of Tasty and Free Toppings!

My Creation - And I Requested Extra Sauce on Top. YUM!

My Creation – And I Requested Extra Sauce on Top. YUM!

I promised a recipe, too! This is the kind of recipe that would work after a pizza dinner because it is sweet and light in texture.

The recipe, Angel’s Kiss Baci Cupcakes, from Baci was created by Lidia Bastianich. Who doesn’t love Baci??  If you never had one, finish reading this post, and immediately get your booty to a grocery store and buy some.  They seem to be carried everywhere nowadays.  Thank god!

With the first batch, the batter never got stiff and glossy.  I baked them anyway, and they turned out perfect.  With the second batch, the batter was as it should have been – stiff and glossy.  However, the cupcakes baked horribly.  The tops were uneven and shrunken.  The next time I make these, I will stop before the batter gets stiff and glossy.

Angel’s Kiss Baci Cupcakes

Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 Baci, finely chopped

Glaze

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate bars, finely chopped (I went with the recipe recommendation and used Perugina Dark Chocolate Classic Bars)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur (optional)
  • 4 Baci, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to form soft peaks.  With the mixer at medium speed, gradually add the sugar.  Beat at high-speed to stiff, glossy peaks. (**As I noted above, when I achieved the stiff, glossy peaks, the cupcakes did not seem to turn out for me.  You can try either way, but I will stick with keeping the batter at the soft peak stage.  Let me know if you make this recipe, or have made this in the past, and tell me what you did and how it turned out.  Thanks!!) Lower the speed and mix in the vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions, taking care to deflate the batter as little as possible.  Quickly fold in the chopped Baci.  Divide the batter among the cupcake pan and smooth the tops.
  4. Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. (**I never wait for the toothpick to come out clean. The cupcake  will continue cooking for a brief period after it is removed from the oven, so I always remove cupcakes when some crumbs are still attached to the toothpick. If you do this, check the cupcakes after 10 to 12 minutes.) Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the tin to cool completely
  5. While the cupcakes cool, prepare the glaze.  Put the chopped chocolate in to a small bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer and pour over chocolate, shaking the bowl to submerge the chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Stir in hazelnut liqueur, if using.
  6. Spoon the glaze on the cupcakes and smooth to the edges.  Sprinkle with the chopped Baci.  Refrigerate until the glaze is set.  Serves 12

So take that Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson! Try doing that!

Take Tubular Care, Totally Happy Eating, and Don’t Gag Me With A Spoon!

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Bake Sale Success?

Another year, another great bake sale for the San Diego Food Bloggers. I participated last year, but I wasn’t there to see all of the action. This year I was able to watch it transpire. It was fun to see so many friends and random people filling grocery bags full of desserts. Awesome job!! I’m still waiting for the final amount raised for Share Our Strength‘s No Kid Hunger campaign.  However, the sale isn’t officially over.  You can still make a donation on-line.  If we raise the most money, Duncan Hines will donate an additional $10,000 to our total!  Atlanta has been winning this bake sale every year, and we, the San Diego Food Bloggers, would love to put an end to that streak!  If you can, please go to http://join.strength.org/goto/SDFBBakeSale2013 and make a donation. Thank you so much for all of your help!!!

This year I opted to make Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies. Choosing what to make is a daunting challenge. I wanted to make something that would appeal to the most people, and something that can be consumed on the spot or in a couple of hours. Chocolate is always a big hit, and once I saw a preliminary menu of what other bakers were planning to bring, I made the decision to make Whoopie Pies. Sadly, I’d never made them before. I looked over various recipes, and decided upon one from Good Housekeeping, February 2012.

Whoopie Pie 2013

Here’s the recipe (any changes are noted with **):

Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

(** The recipe states to fill the sandwiches with marshmallow crème.  You could do that, but that didn’t sound exciting to me.  I found a recipe that I liked better which is below.  Also, I made another batch of these that I didn’t sell.  I added cinnamon to the batter, and I wish I had done that to the bake sale batches.  I love cinnamon!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  From bananas, mash enough for 1/2 cup; finely chop remaining, and reserve.  (**I mashed 1 banana, and I chopped 1 to add to the filling.)  In another medium bowl, mix mashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until well combined.  Beat in egg until well blended, scraping bowl occasionally.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. (**Don’t over mix! That’s probably the biggest mistake when baking.)
  4. Drop 1 rounded measuring teaspoon batter onto prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining batter, spacing 2 inches apart.  With wet fingertips, flatten tops of balls to form rounds. (**I tried making rounds with a 1/4 measuring cup, and I baked for about 10 minutes.  I got about 7.5 cookies (sandwiches) out of it.  They were really large, especially when you consider it is 2 cookies and filling.  It made my belly kind of hurt after eating one.  The next batch I used a tablespoon of batter, and I cooked them for about 8 minutes.  I was able to get 15 sandwiches out of the batter.  It was a much more reasonable size, and it is that size I sold at the bake sale.)

Banana Crème Filling

  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening (**I used Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening Non-hydrogenated.)
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow crème
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 chopped banana
  1. Whip first 4 ingredients together.  Fold chopped banana into filling. Fill sandwiches with as little or as much as you like, or just eat by the spoonful.  It’s all good.  I preferred the pies after they had been refrigerated.  In general, I would suggest to keep the pies refrigerated.

Whoopie Pie 2013(2)

On another note, it was my brother’s birthday on Monday.  Brian turned 50 on Monday.  A HUGE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!’ goes out to him.  Even though a few miles are between us, I’m thinking of you!!  I hope this is a great year for you, Brian.  The photo below is from my dad’s 80th birthday last year.  I picked the photo below for 2 reasons: 1) Brian was looking quite dapper and 2) for all of the special people present in the photo.  The best birthday wish is to be surrounded by people you love.

Family

Take Care and Happy Eating (and Please Consider Making a Donation)!

Who Doesn’t Love a Bake Sale?

What are you doing this Saturday? Do you want to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather forecasted for this weekend? Would you love to enjoy that weather with a delicious homemade dessert in hand? And wouldn’t you love it if you knew all of the proceeds went to an amazing cause like helping hungry children? I can make all of your dreams come true! And if you can’t make it, or if you live out-of-town, there’s still a way you can get involve and help out a worthy cause.  Keep reading!

Food Blogger Bake Sale 2013

I participated in the San Diego Food Blogger Bake Sale last year for the first time.  It was a truly professional bake sale organized by an amazing blogger (and person – yep, she’s real), Marie of Meandering Eats (http://www.meanderingeats.com/).  Once again, Marie has organized another awesome event.  However, she will be off to Medical School soon, so wish her good luck when you see her Saturday!  If you haven’t gone in the past, let me explain that you are getting yourself into a situation.  The desserts look great, the labeling and packaging are so cute, and there are samples just to make sure it tastes as good as it looks (and it does!).  The problem will be that you will want to buy a lot of stuff, maybe even buy some things to eat before you leave the parking lot, and maybe you’ll buy some things to take into the office to share with those silly people who missed it!  It’s alright because the money goes to Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry (http://www.nokidhungry.org/).  This is a national bake sale, as well, so help us beat other cities!  Take that, Pittsburgh!  Just kidding. Or am I???

The bake sale takes place this Saturday, May 4th, at Great News! Cookware and Cooking School in Pacific Beach (http://www.great-news.com/) from 10am-2pm.  The people at Great News! have been awesome supporters of this bake sale, so a huge “THANK YOU, GREAT NEWS!” goes out to them .  If you haven’t had the opportunity to investigate the store before, this will be a great time to do so!  Make sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can get additional discounts every so often!  And there is a Starbucks super close, so go ahead and make a day of it!  Finish it off by driving down to the beach with the family afterwards.  Seriously, can a Saturday get any better?

If you can’t make it, there are other opportunities to get involved.  Simply go to: http://sdbloggersbake.wordpress.com/  There you can enter raffles, donate money, see a tentative menu, and read more about some of the individual bakers who will be offering their goods.

This is such a fun event!  Please pass this information around to friends, family and co-workers.  In 2011, $1750 was raised, in 2012 we raised $3151, and we are hoping to surpass our goal of $3000 this year.  I’m not suggesting we are a competitive bunch of bloggers, but come on!  We want to raise the most money for this organization out of the entire country!  Again, no competitive bone in our bodies.

Take Care and Happy Eating!

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? I Have My Answer!

Hello everyone!

Two very cool things happened this week.  First, I finally have a new computer!  Woohoo! Thanks, Costco!  Now I can finally post to my blog and read other people’s’!  I’m old-fashioned.  I really don’t like reading very much on my phone.  (I need to get used to Windows 8, too.) The other bit of news is that I finished the 30 day Clean Cleanse – without cheating!  I began this cleanse as a test.  I wanted to see how I would feel after giving up processed foods, dairy, alcohol, etc. I’m so happy I did.  Here’s a list of why I loved this cleanse:

  1. My mind seems a little sharper.
  2.  My mood is much brighter. But like I told my husband, this cleanse will not change your personality.  Sometimes (and only sometimes) I can be a bit annoying.  A cleanse is not a cure-all.  Sorry.
  3. I have more energy.  For some reason, I had zero energy on Saturday.  I have no idea why, but I just felt exhausted.  I went for a run with Franz, and I could hardly run a  block.  Again, this cleanse will not make you perfect.
  4. It was fun going out with friends and not thinking about food and drinks.  Sounds crazy, right?  I feel like I take forever studying menus, taking pictures of my food, thinking about what I could write later, etc.  This month felt like a break.  I went to Alpine Beer Company with a group of people, and it was nice just sitting outside and hanging out.  Hopefully I’ll go back for their beer and food another time.  It looked and smelled amazing.  Check out the menu: https://alpinebeerco.wordpress.com/pub-info/pub-menu/
  5. I love that I lost a few pounds – 12 in total.
  6.  I had my blood pressure taken Monday, and the nurse commented that I must have been very calm.  I’ve never had a problem with my blood pressure, but it was really good!

I’ve got a feeling, and it’s all good!

I must mention that I am so impressed with 3 places that enabled me to stick to the cleanse when I wasn’t home.  I went to Mammoth for a ski weekend (about 6 or so hours from San Diego), and I had a blast.  After skiing one day, we went to the food court at Canyon Lodge.  I was expecting not to have too many options.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The woman in charge of the salad bar made me an amazing kale salad with roasted red beets, grilled chicken, and a ton of excellent fresh veggies.  I just pointed and she piled it into a large silver bowl.  She could tell I was hesitant about the dressings available, so she pointed out the vinegar and oil to me, I added them to the bowl, she tossed away, and lunch was served!  Two other restaurants that impressed me were Point Loma Seafoods and Pita Jungle in Hillcrest.  Fresh grilled fish with a gorgeous view of Point Loma Marina and downtown San Diego is a great way to stick to a cleanse.  Pita Jungle has awesome hummus (which is allowed on the cleanse) and a salmon dish that is truly filling and only $12.99.  I went to C-Level and had a meager salmon dish for $30.  It was tasty and fresh, and you can’t ask for a better view of San Diego, but this meal did not satisfy my hunger.  It’s a cleanse, not Hunger Games! Thirty days went by relatively fast.  I plan on sticking with a few things that I’ve done over the past month.

  1. I didn’t eat a whole bunch of processed foods before, but I will further decrease my consumption.  For example, no more Lean Cuisine and I will greatly cutback on cereal.  I plan on treating cereal as a dessert as opposed to breakfast.
  2. I will continue making smoothies for breakfast.  They really give me the energy I need, and it keeps me full until lunch and beyond, if necessary.
  3. I’m obsessed with cooking with coconut oil.  I love the flavor it imparts.  Seriously, give it a try, if you haven’t already.
  4. I will continue snacking on kale chips, almonds, dried kimchi (Trader Joe’s has made me an addict), unsweetened coconut flakes, hummus and almond butter.  All of these things give me energy as opposed to a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate which just makes me want to eat 4 more squares.

The last comment I will make regarding the cleanse is one that may need to be addressed.  A couple of people have asked, so I’m assuming more people out there might have the same question.  It’s a question concerning bowels.  Yep, you might wonder about this aspect of a cleanse.  I will be straight with you.  I’ve never had a problem in that department.  If you do have difficulties, and you start a cleanse, I would guess you may notice a big change.  For me, I noticed that I would go more often throughout the day – usually after a meal or even a snack.  However, it was never a problem.  Depending on your body, you may or may not need this product: http://www.hulu.com/watch/10308

Some of you have mentioned that you are on a cleanse or thinking about starting.  Let me know how it’s going!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Fabulous Friday Again!

I hope everyone had a great week!  I had a sweet surprise this week.  My husband was craving sweets all week (I’m rubbing off on him!).  Tuesday night he proclaimed that we were going to Jack in the Box for milkshakes.  It was around 8pm, and we were basically in our pajamas.  Life is so good!!  If you haven’t had a Jack in the Box milkshake, I feel very sorry for you.  They are so thick that you have to remove the straw and lick it because the goodness of the shake just won’t flow through the straw.  We always get chocolate.  “Jack” tops the shake with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.  And it’s super cheap!  And you can take it home and sit on the sofa with your family in your pjs will attempting to slurp the cup o’ ice cream and milk down while watching another episode of Law & Order!

Popular Jack antenna ball (Christmas version)

Merry Christmas from Jack!

In keeping with my new Friday “tradition”, I want to tell you about my favorite thing (other than a milkshake) this week: Pomegranate Molasses.  It can be a little tricky to find in the grocery store, but ask around and you’ll find it.  If you have a Middle Eastern market near you, that’s a great place to look.  I bought mine in San Diego at Specialty Produce (http://www.specialtyproduce.com/).

I need another bottle!

I need another bottle!

I love this product because you can use it on so many things.  It has a very tart and tangy flavor, and it is thick (hence “molasses”) so it is a great saucy topper.  You can drizzle it over sweet or savory dishes.  You can take any grain, for example wheat berry, and some dark greens, like mustard greens or arugula, and drizzle the molasses over it.  Or you can go sweet.  The first time I used Pomegranate Molasses was about 8 years ago when I came across a recipe from Big City Cooking: Recipes for a Fast-Paced World by Matthew Kenney and Joan Schwartz.  It is the most simple recipe, but you have to use the highest quality of ingredients.  Hold onto this recipe until the peak of strawberry season.  I promise people will rave!  And, again, it couldn’t be easier!  Don’t wait for strawberry season to buy it! Go out, find a bottle, and start using it.  The next grain salad you make for dinner, pour a little over each serving.  It will be a great addition to your pantry!

Strawberries with Pomegranate Molasses and Fresh Ricotta by Matthew Kenney Serves 4

1 quart ripe strawberries, stemmed and halved

2 tablespoons sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Kosher salt

(My addition: couple pinches of cinnamon.  I love cinnamon and it’s so healthy, so I always try to add it to recipes.)

1 cup whole ricotta cheese (***Remember, do not use the commercial stuff.  Go to a cheese purveyor and get the good stuff!!)

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, or substitute balsamic syrup (***But don’t!  And I believe the amount is to taste.  You may want a lot more!)

12 mint leaves

In a large bowl, toss the strawberries with sugar.  Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon and a pinch of salt into the ricotta.  Divide the strawberries among 4 bowls, top with the ricotta mixture, drizzle with pomegranate molasses, and garnish with mint leaves.

Have you used this product before?  If so, tell me how!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Fabulous Fridays!

Happy Friday! I’ve decided to dedicate Fridays to a particular thing (food related, of course) that I have just loved throughout the week.  I feel like Oprah!  Unfortunately I will not be giving away my favorite things to my readers.  I wish.  Sorry.

Winfrey on the first national broadcast of The...

My favorite and fabulous thing this week is: Cooking Light Magazine!  You get a subscription!! And you get a subscription!!!!!! And you – wait.  I’m not Oprah.  Again, I apologize.

Cooking Light

Cooking Light (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Thanksgiving, Franz and I were still craving something sweet.  I know, I know.  We had left over pumpkin pie and a cranberry/rhubarb cobbler, so we should have stopped at that.  We couldn’t let the craving go.  I had the latest copy of Cooking Light staring at me. Sir even used it as a head rest. I usually cook dinner Monday through Thursday.  And of those dinners, about 80% or more come from Cooking Light.  I even own The Annual Recipes 2009 and 2010 Cookbooks.  The recipes are almost always tasty and relatively healthy.  Occasionally I may tweak a recipe, but it usually isn’t necessary.

CL and Sir

The November cover photo is a slice of Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake.  I ran to Trader Joe’s to purchase 2 items I needed to make this devilish dessert: instant coffee and some whipped topping (Cooking light suggested a reduced-calorie whipped topping, but I opted for regular.).  I had everything else on hand.  Word of advice: always have ingredients on hand to make at least a simple cake or a batch of cookies.  It’s the only way to live.

Once again, CL did me proud!  It was easy to make, and it was delicious!  Here’s the recipe . . .

Baked Chocolate Mousse from Cooking Light

Baked Chocolate Mousse from Cooking Light

Baked Chocolate Mousse Cooking Light, November 2012

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa

1 teaspoon instant espresso granules

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon brandy (**I used Apricot Brandy.  Only kind I had on hand.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

Dash of salt

1 1/2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed

Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy) (**I used butter and flour since I didn’t have the specified spray.)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add cocoa and espresso, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat. Add chocolates; gently stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in brandy and vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally. (**I didn’t stir occasionally and it was fine.)

3. Combine eggs, egg whites, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler, stirring with a whisk. Cook over simmering water until a thermometer reaches 115° (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Place egg mixture in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until ribbony, soft peaks form (about 5 minutes). (**It took my egg mixture about 4 minutes to reach 115 degrees.  To attain the ribbony, soft peaks, it took about 7 minutes.)

4. Gently stir one-third of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg mixture. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with baking spray, spreading evenly. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until almost set (center will not be firm but will set as it chills). Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. (**I buttered and dusted with flour a 9-inch spring form pan.  In my pan, it took about 21-22 minutes for it to cook.  Franz couldn’t wait the recommended chill time.  We cut into it after it was in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. It was fine.  But it was even better the next night!)

OR USE WHIPPED CREAM: If you substitute an equal amount of whipped cream for the whipped topping, you’ll add 62 calories, 6.7g fat, and 4.2g sat fat to each serving. You will also need to bake the mousse about 5 minutes longer.

Take Care and Happy Eating! (And have a fabulous weekend!!)

Guest Blogging Over At Hoptology SD

Hello everyone! I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend or you have planned some time just to wind down from the week. My friend just got married and headed across the pond for his honeymoon. He asked that I do a guest blog for his beer blog. Here’s the link.: p2vJCt-i

If you like beer and cupcakes, I think you’ll enjoy this post.

Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

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