Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lettuce Wraps

I am very aware of my lack of posting in the past month or so but, I have been extremely busy. I have moved to San Francisco (yay North Beach) and along with that comes many weekends devoted to putting together furniture (we all know how much fun it is to argue with Ikea furniture). Thanksgiving came and went, I don't even think I'll post my Thanksgiving recipes because everyone has their own style and my family will reserve our turkey and stuffing for those lucky enough to consume it. I am now settling into a new rythm up in San Francisco and takes a few minutes to do that. However, I am back in full force and hope you enjoy

As I kill a massive mosquito in my new place in North Beach I discover I'm craving something spicy, fulfilling, and low in carbs (hello Thanksgiving pounds). I created this lettuce wrap recipe myself from whatever my mother had in her fridge and we all loved them. You take ground beef and cook it with vegetables, herbs and spices and stick it in a butter lettuce cup and it's a great dinner for people who love to eat with their hands. You can serve it with some jasmine rice if you would like some carbys with it.

Lettuce Wraps:

2 tbsp. peanut oil or EVOO
1 lb. extra lean ground beef (preferably 95% lean/5% fat) or 1 lb. or ground turkey breast
1 medium onion, diced
2 bell peppers, one red, one orange, diced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
2 carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch of ginger, graded
2 - 3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp lime zest + juice of 1 lime
1/2 orange juiced
S + P to taste
pinch or two of red pepper flakes (optional for those who love the spice)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro or Italian parsley
1/2 c. toasted slivered almonds
1 head of butter lettuce

In a shallow sauce pan brown the ground beef with some oil (EVOO or peanut oil). Add the onion, peppers, carrots, ginger, and garlic after the beef has browned and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are softened a bit. Add the soy sauce, citrus juice and zest, vinegar, spices and S + P to taste. Let cook for 5-10 minutes more, depending on how soft you want the veggies. At the last minute add the cilantro and almonds.

To serve, spoon the meat mixture into a bowl and place some cleaned lettuce leaves next to the bowl. Spoon some of the meat mixture onto a lettuce leaf, wrap up almost like a burrito and eat. If you wanted a carb addition, I would serve it with some Szechwan scented jasmine rice.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Garlic Overload!!

This weekend I was lucky enough to host a friend for a night. As the hour approached 6pm, our stomachs became increasingly hungrier. After discovering that he doesn't like certain things (mostly them being green and healthy for you) we settled on Pesto Pasta, roasted corn, a green salad and cheesy garlic bread to honor my new humble abode in North Beach (aka Little Italy of SF). Here is my recipe for my pesto and cheesy garlic bread:

Classic Pesto:

5-8 garlic cloves, pealed (depending on how garlicy you like it)
1 handful of toasted pine nuts (abt 1/2 - 2/3 of a cup)
1 large bunch of basil
1 cup of flat Italian parsley
1 tsp of salt
extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan Cheese

In a Cuisinart (aka Food Processor) pulse together the salt, garlic and pine nuts till it creates a paste. Add the basil and parsley and pulse again till it makes a nice paste again. While the Cuisinart is going, stream in the olive oil till it has a pesto like consistency. If using immediately, toss in a saute pan with some of the pasta water, pasta, and olive oil and cook for a few minutes so that the pasta can absorb the flavor of the pesto.

Cheesy Garlic Bread:

1/2 a baguette
1/2 a stick of butter, softened
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1/4 graded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Combine butter, cheese, garlic, S+P. Slice the baguette long way (think hot dog like) and spread butter mixture on bread. Broil in the oven for a few minutes, make sure not to burn it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Garbanzo Curry

The original recipe came from a family I babysat for. I of course tweaked it and made it my own but ohhh so tasty and super easy. It's a great vegetarian meal and is very healthy for you as long as you use light coconut milk.

Here is my Garbanzo Bean Curry:

Garbanzo Been Curry:

1-2 tbsp EVOO
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 can of light coconut milk
1 cup of chicken stock
1/2 a large white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 stock of lemon grass, bruised
1 tsp. red pepper flakes and/or 1/2 a jalapeno minced (take your pick or use them both)
1 tsp. - 1 tbsp. of curry powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 pinch of cumin
1 thread of saffron
S + P to taste

In a deep sauce pan, on medium heat, sweat the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, till transparent. Add the lemongrass and curry powder and let the curry powder toast for a few minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, bay leaf, and the rest of the spices and stir to combine for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk and stock. Let simmer for about 20 minutes so everything infuses the broth and coconut milk.

Optional: Add some cooked shredded chicken at the end to the dish for some protein and make it a full meal for those meat eaters.

Grown Up Hot Coco

As the days get cooler and cooler, the ever fun season of fall aproaches. With that amazing season comes fun beverages for adults only. Here is my perfected recipe for Adult Hot Chocolate:

1 microwave safe mug
1/2 cup of skim milk
1 tbsp. real cocoa powder (I got mine in Barcelona, just make sure it has a high Cacao percentage)
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. sugar or Splenda
1 fl oz. of dark rum (preferably Meyer)s Rum)
1 fl oz. of light rum (preferably Bacardi)
1 splash (guessing 1/2 a fl. oz.) of Kahlua
1 splash (guessing 1/2 a fl. oz.) of Creme de Menthe
1 dollop of whipped cream (optional)

Heat the milk in the mug in the microwave until hot (please don't scorch it). Add the coco powder and sugar/Splenda and combine. Once the cocoa is mixed, add the booze and top with whipped cream if desired. Drink with a good movie or a great trashy TV show.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 Top 8 Street Foods in the Bay Area

I've had the pulled pork sandwich with a corn relish and it was delicious!!! The pork wasn't overly sauced and the bread had a nice crust to contrast the warm, soft, shredded pork. Only 8 bucks too!
Also try the Meyer Lemonade, comes with a mint leaf, just the way I make mine!!
Meyer Lemonade:
(serves 4)
Juice of 4 Meyer Lemons
Enough water to double the liquid volume
Sugar/Splenda to taste (prob a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup depending on how sweet you like it)
Hand Full of fresh Mint Leaves
Mix and serve, add vodka for a nice summery evening beverage ;)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mixt Greens

My co-worker "Purple Ninja" highly recommended this lunch spot in the FiDi off Sansome St. one of the first days I got here. It is a great salad/sandwich bar that supports healthy eating, sustainable and seasonal foods with compostable to-go boxes and utensils. For those Palo Alto readers, it's like a San Fran Pluto's. The have dozens of ingredients, dressings, and a wide selection of proteins to choose from which all actually look tasty. The problem here is what to precisely pick!

I have been varying my ingredients, dressings, and proteins trying to find a great combo I really enjoy. It's so difficult with so much to choose from. I have come to some conclusions though. The tofu is amazing! Especially with their mango-citrus or Thai lemongrass vinaigrette. The tofu itself is marinated in some soy concoction that gives the firm tofu a nice flavor, rather than just a bland soy product. You can also pick how heavy you would like the dressing (light, medium, and heavy) and they toss all of your selections for you right on the spot. I usually get medium dressing so the greens aren't overpowered by the flavor of the salad. As for the proteins, the steak is OK, it's been sitting at room temp, not grilled right away like at Pluto's, but totally not worth the extra $5 bucks. They also offer Ahi Tuna served rare which is nice but also again adds a whopping $5 to your already $8 salad. (Seriously? $13 bucks for a salad???) They do offer fresh fruits and veggies to "mixt" in. I usually end up getting their "mixt greens" (typical salad mix: spinach, radicchio, arugula, etc) and so far I have tried all these ingredients (not all at once): carrots, cucumbers, roasted red bell peppers, tofu, red onion, avocado, cilantro, chipotle caramelized walnuts, cucumber, asparagus, edamame, caramelized onions and blue cheese. All of these were extremely tasty and flavorful and added a nice component to my salad.

Here is my only concern. They limit the number of add-ins to either 4 of their "staples" or 2 of their "staples" and 2 "specialties." Everything after that is and extra 50 cents to a $1 more, per topping. I'm used to Pluto's where you get 7 different add-ins plus a choice of protein for only $6 to $7, but this is San Francisco and we are in the Financial District so everything has to be overpriced. I personally like lots of different ingredients in a salad so it doesn't seem so bland, but that's just me.
Overall, the salad is quite tasty and fills you up, I have a lot of trouble finishing a complete salad. I'm on an adventure to try all the dressings and as many of the seasonal toppings as I can. Follow me as I go...
Mixt Greens
475 Sansome Street(on Commercial)
San Francisco, CA 94111
p. 415 296 9292
f. 415 296 9290


As I adjust to working at my fabulous job up in the City, the ever exciting task of choosing a lunch spot continues. Today I decided that I would check out 'whichcraft by one of my favorite TV chef's, a Mr. Tom Colicchio. Chef Colicchio is know for his restaurants Craft and Craftsteak in NYC and Las Vegas respectively along with being a judge/critic on one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. He has now opened 'whichcraft with other locations in NYC and Vegas. 'whichcraft is a typical breakfast/lunch stop that the FiDi already has tons of, but their aiming to recreate the ubiquitous with a different twist . The restaurant prides itself on hand preparing breakfast items, salads and sandwiches while you wait and relax in their open eating area. The size of the windows are impressive, you have a great view of Mission Street but after reading the reviews I had to concur with their statement of feeling like you were sitting at a Ivy League Cafeteria. There are some personal tables but you can't help but notice the two large long tables (aka: family style seating) that takes up the majority of the seating space, mimicking a slight cafeteria feel. The space itself is nice, high ceilings, 2 levels and an open viewing of the kitchen space and bar while also being light and airy. But that's enough about the space, lets get onto the FOOD!
I walked the 4 long San Francisco blocks to the sandwich shop which is known for mixing interesting ingredients and putting them in a sandwich or salad. As my quest for the perfect sandwich continues I was hoping that this lunchtime adventure would cease and desist my pilgrimage. I was a tad bit disappointed though. I had "yelped" 'whichcraft and knew what to expect, but I was hoping that I could create my own opinion of this place. I'm sad to say that the reviews on Yelp were similar to mine. I ordered the Warm Turkey Sandwich which came with roasted turkey breast (not a deli slice by any means, you knew it really came from a roasted breast), avocado, bacon, onion relish, and aioli on a cibatta roll. The turkey breast was okay, a little dry and for me missing a nice crust you get when roasting protein, but it went well with the creamy avocado. The bacon slices were obviously cooked previously and just rewarmed upon plating so I missed the crunch from a nice slab of pork product. The aioli was more like a mayonnaise (maybe that's what they were aiming for?) and so I would have personally enjoyed a romesco or pesto to go with it in place for the aioli. However the onion relish was extremely tasty. It was almost a caramelized onion relish but had a hint of vinegar, I'm guessing either apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, but also had some sweetness (either from sugar or the onion itself) to balance out that tartness. The cibatta roll was nice, a lot of bread but held all of my ingredients together properly and not once did my sandwich components fall out in the distance it had to travel from the plate to my mouth.
For me the onion relish and avocado were the standouts in the sandwich. Maybe it would have been better with roast beef. It isn't my favorite place but definitely has potential for a sandwich shop. Maybe next time I'll try a salad.
Tom: I had high expectations, that happens when you're on TV critiquing others food. I know you're a sandwich lover, just wish you tweaked your recipes ever so slightly. They have potential, just need to put some more time into them.
As for me, my pursuit for the perfect sandwich continues. I hope I'll have good luck, and get to eat some really yummy things along the way.
868 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 593-3895

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Sentinel


After finally landing a job in San Francisco (wahoo!!), most of my lunch posts will be about new restaurants I try when eating lunch out. I'm getting really excited to try all these new places. The FiDi has a great array of street food that I am very excited to try. They have a lot of sandwich/salad places that I will write about later when I have the time...but for now I am writing about The Sentinel. This place is great! It's a hole in the wall sandwich shop on New Montgomery in the FiDi. They change their menu daily but have a few staples that I was lucky to try. They are known for making interesting combinations of sandwiches that are out of the ordinary but equally delicious.

After reading Yelp reviews I figured I'd give it a shot. I was a little hesitant to find the line out the door, but they take your order and you pay within almost 30 seconds of one another so you're in and out in about 10 minutes or so, depending on what time you come. The first time I went there (around 1pm, they had sold out of the Special of Scallop Ceviche and the BBQ Beef Sandwich, sad) and the line was still out the door. They are aware that people are on their lunch breaks and need to eat and get back to work within an hour. There is no seating inside but there are tons of places around the FiDi to sit and enjoy the rarity of sun this summer has offered San Francisco.

I decided to try the pork sandwich and oh did it satisfy my lunch hunger. The pork sandwich came with fig jam, frise and Havarti cheese on a nice roll that had sunflower seeds baked in it. The portion was fairly large, I was full after eating it, and they give you a little treat with it as well, I got a Werthers Original that brought me back to my childhood of sneaking them before dinner when I was a kid. The pork was juicy, warm and sliced thin while the Havarti cheese and fig jam complimented the savory/sweet flirtation. I did however wish there was more frise in the sandwich, but I like greens in my sandwiches. At the end, I thought that they maybe put a little to much fig jam because it was getting a bit sweet but it was still delicious and only $8. Definitely trying other sandwiches and coming back. Hope you enjoy it as well.
The Sentinel
37 New Montgomery(between Jessie St & Market St)
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 284-9960

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chinese Concoction

For some reason, I am on a serious Asian food adventure. I have been craving stir frys for breakfast, lunch, and I'm not pregnant but I love the spicy heat and the savory sauces that come with making a stir fry. I've been fooling around with a few different stir frys and I think I've found the perfect one for beef. It's a take on Pepper Steak from and Asian cookbook. I combine peppers, green beans and beef and cook it in sherry and soy sauce. I add some chili garlic sauce and a little jalapeno for some heat. Serve with brown rice and a cucumber salad and you have yourself a nice dinner. I omit the cuke salad and enjoy it for a nice breakfast, come on, who doesn't like Chinese food for breakfast. This meal feeds a lot of people and is super easy to make, takes less than 20 minutes and you have an entire meal.

Pepper Steak:
1 lb of flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain at a bias (about 45 degrees or so)
1 heaping tbsp chili garlic sauce (recommendation Lee Kum Kee)
1 tsp-1 tbsp of mince jalapeno (depending on how spicy your mouth wants to be)
1/2-3/4 cup of amontillado sherry (eyeball this, you want the sherry and soy to coat the meat but not be drowning in it) *if you can't find amontillado, any dry sherry will work
1/4 - 1/3 cup soy sauce (eyeball this as well)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
1-2 tbsp corn starch

Put the sliced beef in a bowl and coat with the corn starch. Add the rest of the ingredients and let marinate for at least 10 minutes, turning once in a while to make sure the beef is coated with everything.

1 red bell pepper, chopped into inch cubes
1 orange bell pepper, chopped into cubes
1 big bunch of green beans or heri covert, chopped in half
1-2 inches of ginger, pealed and sliced into discs 1/4-1/2 inch thick
3 cloves of garlic, smashed, skins removed
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 scallions chopped
5 basil leaves cut chiffonade (thin slices)

Heat a wok up with high heat. Saute peppers and green beans for 1-2 minutes till just starting to cook but still nice a crunchy. Take out with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. Add more oil if needed and then the garlic and ginger and swirl to infuse the oil but making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Then add the beef and the marinade and cook on high high to medium high heat, about 3-5 minutes depending on how fast the meat cooks. About a minute before the beef is done, add back the veggies and stir to combine. The sauce should be nice and thick, if you would like it a little more saucy, add more of the sherry at the end and let cook for a minute or so. The cornstarch will thicken it up. Take off heat when done (don't overcook the meat or it will get really tough), sprinkle with scallions and basil, and serve with brown rice and a cucumber salad.

Cucumber Salad: (for 4 people)
4 Persian cucumbers, ends removed, chopped in half moon shapes (so cut hotdog wise and then thinly slice the cuke)
1 - 2 tbsp vinegar
1/4 tsp splenda or sugar
1 -2 tsp soy sauce
1 -2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
3-4 splashes of red Tabasco sauce
1 scallion chopped

To make the dressing, put the vinegar in the bottom of your serving bowl. Add the sugar/splenda and stir to dissolve. Add the soy sauce and Tabasco and whisk in the sesame oil. Add the cucumber and scallions on top and let sit for at least 10 minutes at room temp.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Solo Breakfast

Sunday morning, starving, nothing is made. I remembered a delicious breakfast "toast" that I created a few years ago in college. You melt some cheese on top of a sliced baguette and then throw a fried egg on top. The egg oozes once split and give the toast a really nice flavor. I know that it sounds weird to use tomato paste but it give this a really nice rich sweet taste that you'll be surprised by.

Breakfast Toast:
2 slices of a french baguette, sliced on a diagonal
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 sprigs of thyme, stripped of the leaves
4-5 slices of Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1-2 eggs

Toast the two slices of bread till a little crispy but not completely stiff. Take out and rub the garlic clove over the bread while hot. It will infuse the bread without being over powering. (If you want a yummy garlic flavor, thinly slice, I mean paper thin, a garlic clove and reserve for the next step.) Spread the tomato paste on the pieces of toast and then sprinkle the salt, pepper, thyme, (and the garlic slices if you desire) and then put the cheese on top. Put the toast back in the toasted and melt the cheese. While the toast is melting, fry an egg or two (I usually only use 1 egg and put it on both pieces, but others that are hungry you can use two and put one on each slice of toast). Season the egg while cooking with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Once the egg is cooked and the cheese has melted, place the egg on top and consume!! Serve with a nice glass of milk and you have one of the best breakfasts ever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today for lunch was one of my old favorites, Pluto's. It is mainly a salad place but they do offer sandwiches and other lunch items but I only go there for the salads. This is not just a salad place by any means, you pick what kinds of toppings and proteins that will accompany your lettuce. I always get a side Farmer's Greens with grilled tri-tip steak. They offer over 20 different "salad fixings" and you get your pick of seven of them. The great thing about Pluto's is that your salad will always been different depending on what they have in season and the tastes will alter slightly but it will always be delicious.

I ordered my side Farmer's Greens with grilled steak along with, get ready: thinly sliced red onion, sauteed mushrooms, cucumber, caramelized walnuts, edamame, sweet summer corn, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with a balsamic vinaigrette and the grilled steak on top, with a slice of rosemary bread completes the meal. Wash it down with a nice cold black iced tea and I'm set. Whenever I'm picking my veggies to put in my salad, I always try and make the salad as colorful as possible, I feel it really tastes better that way, and you eat with your eyes first.

The Counter

Yesterday a friend and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in Palo Alto, The Counter for lunch. The Counter is a upscale burger joint that makes eating a burger not seem or even be bad for you. You can get your protein (turkey, beef, veggie or even a chicken breast) in one of two ways; on a bun or on top of a salad of either mixed baby greens or a lettuce blend. They also have different types of rolls you can get and every month they make a specialty burger and sauce to go with it, this month is a lamb burger. With your order you get a choice of 4 out of 18 regular toppings or specialty toppings that they charge for separately, and one of 18 dressing/spread/sauces to accompany that not so lonely burger. They also make some of the most ADDICTING sides you will ever stuff into your hungry mouth. They call it the "fifty-fifty." They offer fries, sweet potato fries, and the piece de resistance, the onion strings. They are almost shaved onions, battered and deep fried. They are not only the most addicting food you will consume at this establishment, but you will crave them after you are completely stuffed and there is not a single inch of room left in your once empty stomach.

I ordered the 1/3 lb (believe it or not, that is the smallest size they offer, if you really want to get daring get the 1 pound burger and see if you can eat dinner later) beef burger medium rare over a bed of mixed baby greens. I topped my burger with Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, avocado, carrot strings, scallions, and roasted bell peppers. Along with that came a Dijon balsamic sauce that worked nicely in with the salad. My goodness was it tasty! The melted Gruyere cheese combined with a little crunch from the carrot, a sweetness from the pepper and onion with a smooth buttery finish from the avocado and dressing hit the spot!!! My friend got a 1/3 lb beef burger with a garlic aioli, fried peperoncini, and red onion on top of a honey wheat bun. We also split the "fifty-fifty" of fries and onion strings which were completely gone by the time we left to go back to work.

The Counter is not only delicious, but eating a burger without a bun makes enjoying the fries and onion strings that much more enjoyable. They also make a mean shake but I couldn't put any more calories into my body at that time. I highly recommend The Counter, you won't be disappointed with all the different ways you can make your meal, just don't forget the onion strings.


Last night, like almost all Sunday nights my family and I had a BBQ because what else is there to do in California during the summer months? My mother had picked up some buffalo burgers at Trader Joe’s but once my brother realized that there was 18 grams of fat in 1 patty, he said “no way in hell am I eating that.” I didn’t just want to eat the patty alone, so I took 6 of the patties (we got 2 boxes of 4 patties each) and doctored it up with some spices and vegetables. I remade the patties and my father expertly grilled them. We also made some chicken breasts for my brother with a Meyer lemon, white wine, and thyme marinade. Along with some roasted potatoes and a green salad, this Sunday Night Dinner turned out to be pretty scrumptious.

6 patties of ground buffalo, estimating 1.5lbs, try and get leaner buffalo if possible
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
4 roasted bell peppers, finely chopped (get them in the jar, way easier than roasting, sweating, and pealing your own)
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 dashes or so of Worcestershire sauce
5-6 dashes of A1 Steak Sauce
½ tsp – 1 tsp of chili powder (recommendation: Gebhardt)
1 tsp dried thyme

Combine all ingredients and make 6 patties, let rest for a few minutes before grilling. Grill to medium and serve with goat cheese, sliced avocado, sliced red onion, and sliced roasted bell peppers on top. I usually eat this with a fork and knife, if you would like to accompany the burger with a bun, be my guest.

Zest of ½ a lemon
½ cup of Meyer lemon juice
½ cup of white wine
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
6 chicken breasts or thighs

Combine all with chicken and let marinade for at least 45 minutes room temperature. Grill and enjoy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The is a very simple straightforward artichoke appetizer with a yummy lemony buttery dipping sauce.


2 Artichokes
1/2 a stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of lemon juice, preferably Meyer Lemon
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1/4 tsp dried dill

Snip off the tops of the pointy artichoke stems and cut of the top with a serrated knife. Take off the bottom of the artichoke so it stands on it's butt on it's own. Steam the artichokes for at least 45 minutes, depending on how big those suckers are. While waiting for the chokes to cool, melt the butter in the microwave carefully (I have had my fair share of exploding butter that goes all over the inside of the microwave). Add the rest of the ingredients, combine well, and partake in dipping the leaves of the chokes in the buttery goodness.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Perfect Margarita

This is a recipe for the perfect lower calorie margarita.  It's refreshing, strong and enjoyable.


juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 an orange
3 oz of tequila, silver preferred
1 oz of triple sec

Look at that freshly squeezed juice!

Shake up over ice and serve on the rocks with a nice salted rim (if desired, I like it but I know those who do) and a lime wedge for garnish.

Mexican Fiesta

With my brother home from school I am now cooking for 16 people rather than just 3. I'm doubling and tripling up on everything I make because my wonderful 6'4" brother consumes as much food as the three of us combined. My challenge for tonight is to fill up my brother so he's not hungry for the rest of the night. I figured that Chicken Enchiladas with Spanish Rice and a green salad would do the trick. I poached the chicken and then used the broth to make the rice with. I also made some guacamole as a yummy app to munch on.

I managed to do the impossible. I filled up my brother's massive bottomless pit of a stomach and he said he enjoyed it greatly. To warn you, the dish I make is spicy and if you need it to be a bit milder, exclude the jalapeno. This recipe is only for 4-6 people, double it if you have an extremely hungry brother, or another 4 people.

Poaching the Chicken:
1 whole chicken fryer, boned out the breasts, legs, thighs (or a whole chicken, cut into pieces, make sure it's skin on and bone in chicken)
1 onion chopped into quarters
8 cloves, 2 shoved into each onion quarter
2 large carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces, plus celery leaves
handful of parsley leaves and stems
10 whole peppercorns
4 garlic cloves smashed
1 tbsp salt
1 whole jalapeno (don't break the jalapeno, it will make the broth extremely spicy, trust me)
1 tbsp cumin
4 sprigs of thyme
enough water to cover the chicken

In a BIG stock pot put all ingredients and bring to a boil, turn down to medium low and gently simmer chicken for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Take out the chicken and let cook for 15 minutes or so. Drain the stock in a sieve (fine meshed strainer) and measure out 4 cups of stock.

Enchilada Sauce:
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno finely minced
1 small can of tomato paste
2 cans of tomato sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. coriander
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro

While the chicken is poaching, saute onion and jalapeno in olive oil, once translucent, add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the tomato paste and blend in to the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Add the spices, and salt and pepper and then add tomato sauce. Let cook for a good 30 minutes on low, covered. At the very end, add the cilantro.

Enchilada sauce
8 corn tortillas
shredded chicken
1 bag of mixed Mexican blend cheese (cheddar, jack, whatever you wish)

Preheat oven 350 F. Once chicken is cool enough to touch, take the skin off and shred chicken into small stringy pieces and throw into enchilada sauce let cook and the chicken absorb the sauce for about 10-15 minutes. Once ready to make the enchiladas, set up an assembly line. Soak the tortillas in the sauce for about 3-5 minutes to make them pliable (you will get down and dirty with this enchilada sauce, embrace it). Place enough chicken sauce into the tortilla and roll it and place it in a baking dish. Do this with all of the tortillas and once all of the sauce is used, sprinkle the enchiladas with the cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

1 onion chopped, red or yellow
1 green bell pepper chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 a can of tomato paste
1 can of chopped tomatoes, drained the liquid from the can
2 cups of basmati rice
4 cups (just under 4 cups, add the tomato liquid to make 4 cups) of chicken stock (from the stock we just made)
salt and pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Saute onion and pepper in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes add garlic and saute for a few more minutes, add saute to toast a bit. Add tomato paste and chopped canned tomatoes. Stir to combine and then add the stock. Bring to a boil and then cover and turn heat down to low and cook for 25 minutes. Do not open the lid until done cooking. Once the rice is done cooking, fluff up with a fork.

2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 juice of a lime
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup of finely chopped red onion
1 tsp. minced jalapeno
1/2 tsp. siracha sauce
touch of garlic powder

Combine all in a bowl, serve with tortilla chips.

Be careful with the jalapeno. My fingers still burned when I went to sleep that night, oh and don't touch your eyes after dealing with the jalapeno, take it from experience it burns for a good 10 minutes afterward. If you don't like things that spicy, like my father, omit the jalapeno. If you want it even spicier, add some red pepper flakes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Parents Away

Last night a bunch of friends and I went over to our friends house to grill and smoke some tasty proteins. I brought some steaks over and marinated them while my friend smoked some chicken breasts and sausages. We also had some Spanish Rice and Coleslaw to accompany the meat. This marinade has been tested and approved by many people and took a very long time to perfect so I hope you enjoy.

4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 inches of ginger, smashed
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup onions, roughly chopped
3/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of teryaki sauce
splash of rice wine vinegar

Salt and pepper steaks and throw in all ingredients in a zip top bag and marinate for at least 1 hour, up to 6 hours. Grill to medium rare and devour.

1/2 cabbage sliced thinly
1 tsp celery seed
2/3 cup of light mayonnaise
2 tbsp of vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion salt
1-2 tbsp skim milk
1/2 tsp pepper
salt to taste (the onion salt is salty so be careful not to over salt)

Combine the cabbage and the celery seed in a bowl. On low heat combine all the ingredients minus the milk, cabbage and celery seed in a small pot and heat slowly with a whisk. Once the dressing is warmed through, add the milk and take off the heat (it should be a saucy consistency, like a thick dressing). Let cool slightly and pour over the cabbage and celery seed. Let sit for a few minutes and serve. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. This is a great dish to serve with a BBQ and my family makes it every Independence Day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reunion Dinner

It is my last night in the City of Angels. As sad as I am to leave here, I still have friend or two that I need catch up with. I have a great friend that was one of the first people I met at college orientation. Him and I became great friends not just because we lived in close proximity to one another back home but because, we got along really well. Because my parents read this, maybe not a good idea to re-dictate our first encounter.

Anyway, he is now and will always be my "gay husband," a man that understands my mind without even questioning how or why it works. My "gay husband" arrived and we had amazing appetizers of Crostini with Goat Cheese and Roasted Bell Peppers. My resident LA friend (we'll call her LA LADY) invited her own college friend to come over and enjoy a relaxed meal. The second she enters LA LADY'S house, she immediately says to my "gay husband" "you work at my office!!!!" Turns out they work at the same place, barely knew each other but never knew their names, now they do. So glad that LA LADY and I can be great at connecting people.

1 baguette
1 package of good goat cheese
1 jar of roasted bell peppers, red or orange (whatever you wish), sliced

This is the easiest appetizer ever. Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice the bread about 1/2 inch slices and place on a cookie sheet. Lightly drizzle olive oil on bread slices and season with salt and pepper, dried rosemary would be nice here as well. Bake for 7-10 minutes, till the bread is nice and golden but a little chewy in the middle. Spread on goat cheese and some slices of roasted bell peppers and consume. Watch out, it's super addicting.

In honor of good friends, I made a delicious dinner of Lemon Herb Chicken, a Corn and Basil Salad along with a Spinach Salad. The Corn and Basil salad I got from an acquaintance on the 4th, the Lemon Herb Chicken is a take on Martha's recipe and the Spinach Salad was a concoction my mother created.

4 chicken breasts
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped, abt 2 tbsp
2 tbsp of fresh thyme
2 tbsp of fresh sage
4 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil +2 tbsp olive oil for cooking
S + P
1/2 cup of dry white wine

Preheat oven to 400 F. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and combine all other ingredients (minus the wine) in a plastic zip top bag. Let marinate for at least an hour. Heat a large deep bottomed pot with 1 tsp of bacon fat with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Take out breasts and let marinate drain off chicken, sear both sides of chicken breasts for about 6 minutes each or until you brown them on both sides. Dump in the white wine and bring to a boil. Place in oven for 10 - 20 minutes depending on how thick the chicken breasts are. Check the doneness by slicing breast to make sure there is no pink left. Serve and ENJOY!!!

1 bag of frozen sweet white corn
1 small onion diced
1/4 cup of chopped basil leaves
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
S + P

Defrost corn in microwave with a little water. Drain when cooked and add vinegar, enough S + P, onion when hot. Place in fridge and when cooled add herbs. Serve room temp or cold.

2 cups of spinach
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 cup of crispy bacon, diced

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
S + P
1/8 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup of olive oil

Combine all ingredients for dressing and pour on salad when ready to serve.

I hope you enjoy this dinner, I know we all did.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Night Dinner

After consumption of alcoholic beverages from our Nation's Birthday, a few friends and I decided to take it easy today and watch some really bad television. We settled on Independence Day while recovering and recuperating from the long night before. Towards dinner time we started looking through my friend's kitchen to see what we could make for dinner. We had made some spicy mango sausages from a dinner a few nights ago, along with some sauteed peppers and onions. There was some whole wheat pasta that we cooked up and threw in some sun-dried tomato pesto along with some cheese for good measure. It turned out really well.

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Spicy Mango Sausage

1 lb of whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup of sun-dried tomato pesto (recipe below)
3 spicy mango sausages (or any other sausage you want)
1/2 - 1 cup of sauteed peppers and onions
S + P
3/4 cup of shredded cheese such as white cheddar, Gruyere, or pepper jack
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
2 scallions chopped

1 small jar of sun dried tomatoes, in oil, drained (found at TJ's)
1 bunch of basil
1/2 cup of parsley
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
1 tsp salt
extra virgin olive oil

Combine garlic, salt and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add tomatoes, basil, parsley and pulse again. Stream in enough olive oil to make a nice paste. Taste for seasoning.

Boil pasta in salty water till al dente, reserve a 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid. Drain pasta, add back to pot and add pesto, sausages, peppers and onions, salt and pepper. Add enough of the cooking liquid to make a nice sauce. Add cheese and scallions and serve, garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsley if desired.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Naked Sushi

I have arrived in the city of angels...I'm here to visit a friend of mine that recently moved here and what better place to celebrate our Independence day but Los Angeles. We were itching for something yummy, especially from that really long flight from SJC to LAX and decided on sushi. Walking through the canals, which btw I recommend everyone does while in LA, we made it to Naked Sushi in Venice.

We sat outside and ordered a bottle of organic Shochi Sake which came in a nice iced bottle with ice actually put in a blown in portion of the bottle. My friend ordered Miso soup which was really yummy with actual pieces of sliced mushroom and butternut squash!!! We also ordered a seaweed salad to split which was nice but it came with brined carrots which had an off flavor and chose not to consume after trying, my mother always told me to have a "no thank you serving" of something you didn't like to eat just so you can actually taste it. I have to thank my mother because without her "no thank you serving" I wouldn't be eating so adventurous now. The sweetness from the squash added a nice addition and cut through the saltiness of the soup. We then decided to order 3 special rolls: Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll, Mercedes Ceviche Roll, and a Shrimp Tempura Roll. We also ordered Unagi Nigiri and Sake Nigiri which came first as out little appetizer which had a nice temperature, the fish and the rice are room temp, as is should be which makes it taste ohhh so much better.

Now for the SUSHI!!!!!! Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll is chopped up tuna with asparagus, cucumber, sprouts, with tempura flakes around the entire roll served with a sweet eel sauce drizzled on top. This roll was my favorite, the crunch with the sweetness of the sauce and the spiciness of the tuna was a perfect combination and made the roll amazing. Next is the Mercedes Ceviche Roll which I believe had a combo of tuna and yellowtail ceviche inside with cucumber, topped with avocado and ceviched yellowtail with a sprinkle of spicy powder (guessing chili or paprika) dusted on top. This roll was my friend's favorite and called it a "party in your mouth" to be honest, it definitely partied in your mouth. Lastly we had a Shrimp Tempura roll that was with asparagus and baby watercrests inside the roll. This was the only roll that was wrapped with the Nori on the outside. This was a very tasty roll but needed a little bit of a sauce on top of it and also needed to be consumed while hot because of the tempura issue.

We ordered another bottle of the organic Sake which the Auzzie next to us asked about. He was a dad from an Australian family that sat next to us that were taking a tour of California and informed us that we should be traveling to "Down Undah" soon because of the great food and cheaper prices. Later that night my friend decided that she most definitely will be attending grad school in Australia.

After all of the food that we ordered, we finished all of it which we and our server were very proud of. We hobbled stuffed over to a bar across the street which is known for Jim Morrison's signature, well actually it's a carving that has been shellacked over about 6 times.

We then took a cab up to The Otheroom which was a fantastic wine and beer bar. I ordered a White Alagash and my friend ordered some Honey Wheat beer that was very tasty. I took some pics and they will be up shortly when I get back home.

Naked Sushi was a great dinner, a little expensive but it is LA. Highly recommend this place and you have to get their specialty rolls. So far my trip down to LA has been Oh So Fantastic. I hope to write more. Happy Independence Day everyone!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Welcome Home Father

My dad came home from a long exhausting trip to Europe. My mother and I figured that a delicious dinner would make him adjust to not only the time zone but the wonderful comforts of home. I made a stuffed chicken breast with goat cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. I had some leftover roasted vegetables from my Greek Feast and made a home made Caesar salad to go with it. My dad LOVES Caesar salad, I know that the dressing I make is tasty but I think my dad may be addicted to it and we might need to have an intervention sometime soon, jk. I was inspired by Giada on the chicken recipe, she uses pork though, and I added a few extras and made it way healthier, it's the summer after all.

4 skin on boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of light sour cream
1/4 cup of both light goat cheese and light feta cheese
1-2 tbsp. of fresh thyme leaves + 2 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
1/2 packed cup frozen spinach, thawed
zest of 1/2 a small lemon, bout a tsp or so
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes, add a full tsp if you want it a little spicier
1/2 tsp. of both salt and pepper
2 tbsp. of chopped Italian parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
8 toothpicks
3/4 cup of a dry white wine
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil for cooking

Preheat oven to 350 F. Take chicken breast and find the thickest part of it, take a boning knife and slice a pocked in the chicken breast, being careful not to poke through to the end or make a hole in the middle. The pocket should be about 3-4 inches long, and 2 or so inches deep depending on how big the breasts are. Combine the rest of the ingredients minus the toothpicks and white wine in a bowl and combine thoroughly. Then stuff the chicken breasts with the mixture and use 2 toothpicks per breast to seal up as best as possible, there will be stuff the oozes out but it will just make the sauce in the end taste yummy. Season outside of breasts liberally with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken, skin side down in oil in a oven proof pan on medium high heat for 5-7 minutes or so. Then flip and sear on other side for 5 minutes or so. Pour in white wine, and 2 thyme sprigs and stick in oven for 5 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked completely and there is no pink in the middle. Once chicken is cooked, take breasts out of the pan and reduce sauce for 3 minutes on high with the sauce rapidly boiling. Put the breasts back inside and coat with the sauce. Serve, garnish with a little chopped parsley.

3 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup of croutons, home made if possible, recipe below
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp of each salt and pepper
few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
juice of half a lemon, preferably Meyer lemon
1 squirt of anchovy paste, bout a 1/2 tsp.
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil

In a glass bowl that is big enough to sit on a pot as a double boiler, combine the egg, S + P, and Worcestershire. Bring a small pot with about an inch of water to a simmer and place glass bowl on top. Whisk egg mixture until the yolk has turned a light yellow and is slightly thickened, bout a minute or so. Then add everything but the olive oil and stir to combine. Then drizzle in the olive oil and taste dressing for seasoning. When ready to serve, place the lettuce, croutons, and cheese on top of dressing and toss. Serve immediately.
*if you're worried about raw egg in your dressing just add a little more lemon juice and Dijon mustard and you'll get a similar taste

Homemade Croutons:
1 cup of stale bread, chopped into pieces
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder

Heat olive oil up and then saute bread pieces. Add salt and pepper and flip once in a while making sure not to blacken the bread. Once pieces are a nice golden brown, take out and then season with garlic powder. Let cool before putting in salad.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Big Fat Greek Feast

Last night after my exciting day of having some great time outside tanning in the sun reading with a great book, "Big Boy Rules"...all after listening to a dermatologist on NPR and slathering on SPF 55, I decided that I was craving something yummy and something Greek. So from there I decided that lamb would be a good idea along with roasted vegetables, a Greek salad, and a pita chip dip. To be fair, I was inspired by Bobby Flay on the Food Network website, which I get a lot of my inspiration from along with many cookbooks. I made lamb chops with roasted vegetables, a Greek salad and a feta, roasted bell pepper dip with home made whole wheat pita chips.

3-4 small eggplants, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tbsp. of each salt and pepper
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. garlic powder
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine all in a roasting dish and roast for 30-45 minutes until veggies are soft. Taste and season accordingly.

1 rack of lamb chops (10 chops or so)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh Greek oregano, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. of each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. of each lemon zest and orange zest

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mash up all ingredients in a bowl, minus the lamb, and massage into lamb. Let marinate for a 30 minutes or so. Sear in a pan on both sides, transfer to baking dish and cook for 12-15 minutes or so, until medium-rare.

Tzatziki Sauce:
3/4 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp. of lemon zest + 2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. orange zest + 2 tsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. fresh mint, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and serve with lamb.

Whole Wheat Pita Chips
4 whole wheat pitas
4 tbsp, extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minces
2 tbsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. of each salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Chop pitas into quarters and separate to make 2 single layer quarters. Combine the last four ingredients and brush over pitas with a brush. Bake for 10-15 minutes, let cool on a wire rack.

*This Pita Chip recipe is courtesy of Hors D'Oeuveres by Eric Treuille and Victoria Blashford

Feta and Roasted Bell Pepper Dip
1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
4 roasted red bell peppers
2 scallions chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 hand bunch of parsley
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar or Splenda
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. of each salt and pepper
2 tbsp. crumbled stale bread
1/2 tsp. lemon zest + 1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients but the olive oil in a food processor. Once smooth, stream in olive oil while food process is on. Serve with pita chips.

1 head of romaine lettuce, torn
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup of chopped cucumbers
1/4 - 1/2 cup of feta cheese
1/2 cup of pitted olives

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. of each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 clove of garlic minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all in a old jam jar and shake, pour over salad.

It's a feast, invite over lots of people and dig in.


Last night a few (nine) friends came up to the city to surprise a friend of ours for his 23rd birthday. Since our friend is a little obsessed with brewing his own beer, his girlfriend decided that a pub that makes it's own brews would be a great place to share a birthday dinner with his friends and family. We went to Magnolia Pub and Brewery in the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.

While we patiently awaited the arrival of all of our extremely late friends (come on, it's a SURPRISE party!!! What do you not get about being on time?) I sipped on a Prescription Pale, which was nice and medium bodied, but as an inexperienced dark beer drinker I switched to the Spud Boy IPA which I thoroughly enjoyed along with the majority of the table. It was lighter, thus more easily consumed, along with a slightly higher alcohol content (6% rather than the Prescription's 5.5%) that gave the entire table a nice buzz. A few others got the Hefeweizen which was filtered and also quite tasty.

Once the surprise was executed flawlessly we decided to munch on some munchies!!! We ordered their home made beef jerky, pork nuggets, and buttermilk fried spring onions. The home made beef jerky was really good, had a nice flavor and was paper thin and crisp, I almost wanted it on a salad. The pork nuggets were a little intimidating, three golf-ball sized cubes of pork deep fried come out with a spicy honey mustard aioli dipping sauce. We were pleasantly surprised at the juiciness of the pork while the breding on the outside was quite tasty and a nice contrast to the wonderful piggy goodness inside. I mean you really can't go wrong eating any fried pork product. Most people really like this dish. Last and my favorite was the spring onions that came with a really nice bell pepper romesco. That dipping sauce was soo tasty, I wanted to dip the pork nugget in it as well. A few friends got the "Devils on Horseback" which was a date stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon, and fried that came with arugula and a nice sweet sauce which I think had molasses, however my friend thought that it was reduced maple syrup. My only problem with this "munchie" was that there were only 2 to an order, would have liked a few more so I could have tasted them, love the name though.

Next came the entrees. I got the Prather Ranch Hamburger with Swiss cheese. A lot of my friends got the Fish and Chips which had some tasty Cod and a great tartar sauce. Another one got the Carbonara which I enjoyed the most. I had a nice smokey flavor from the bacon and came with a poached egg on top that oozed out when you broke it. A few also got the Sausages and the 2 sides that come with it. Everyone got the Sauerkraut, but I heard that the cheese grits were fantastic.

Overall, it was a fantastic dinner. A many thanks to those who came and were able to surprise our friend. Great meal, great people, great brew.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dinner with Momma

Last night I made dinner for my mother and me. A yummy pork chop with a white wine, shallot, and apricot glaze. We had a side dish of green squash and corn with garlic and onions. After being gone for 2 weeks, it's nice to be able to cook at home while having your mother constantly tell you how "nice it is to have you home baby girl!"

4 pork tenderloin chops, bone out
2-3 shallots, sliced
1/2 cup of a dry white wine + 2 tbsp white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or a pinot grigio
2-3 tbsp apricot jam or preserves, try to get a low sugar variety, or my next door's homemade version (jk)
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 scallions chopped
3 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
3 sprigs of fresh time (roughly 1 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp. bacon fat (or just 2 tbsp of EVOO)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Salt and pepper both sides of pork chops liberally. Add oil to hot pan and sear on both sides for 4-5 minutes, depending on how think the chops are. Add a few tbsp of white wine and place in oven for roughly 7 minutes, until the chops are about medium - medium well (use a thermometer if necessary). Take chops and juice out of pan and place on a platter. Add a little more oil and saute shallots for a few minutes. Then add white wine, apricot jam, red pepper flakes, thyme, and season to taste. Bring to boil, add chops back in to pan including any juices. Cover and let cook for a few minutes till medium well - well done. Take out chops and put them on a serving platter and pour glaze over chops, sprinkle with parsley and scallions and serve.

*This can all be done using only 1 pan, saves you time when doing dishes afterwards, or less pots and pans to sit in your sink for the next week or so until you get compelled to actually do your dishes.

This is one of my favorite pork dishes and tastes soooo yummy. Not too sweet but floral and light, perfect for a summer dinner outside. Serve it with any side dish and a salad you want to complete the meal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Night Dinner

Tonight I'm on my own for dinner. My friend that I'm staying with is out of town so it's just the kitties and me for dinner. I got a great NY strip steak from TJ's and figured I'd make a salad with some yummy and juicy red meat on top. As a side dish I did a green bean saute with garlic, slivered almonds and raisins. As my last night here in DC I enjoyed the meal with a nice Cabernet.


1 NY Strip Steak
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
3-4 tbsp. soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1/2 an orange
3 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. peanut oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes or 1/2 jalapeno diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup scallions

Place all ingredients in a zip top bag and marinate for 1 - 4 hours.

2 cups spinach
1 orange segmented
1/4 cup candied walnuts
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 sliced shallot

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Assemble salad, combine all ingredients to make the dressing and set aside (don't dress the salad until the very last minute).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Let steak sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Sear steak on high heat with 1 tbsp canola oil on both sides for 3 minutes each. Then place steak in oven for 5-10 minutes depending on how you like the doneness of your steak. Take out of oven and place on cutting board to rest for at least 8 minutes. Slice at an angle against the grain and place on top of the salad.

1 package of green beans
1/2 cup raisins
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds
2 slices of bacon
Salt and Pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add green beans for 1 minute exactly. When beans are in for 30 seconds, add raisins. Drain and place in an ice bath. Slice bacon into thin strips and place in cold pan, turn on heat and cook bacon. When crispy take out bacon with a slotted spoon. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so. Add green beans and raisins and saute for a few minutes, add the toasted almonds, bacon and salt and pepper to taste, saute for one more minute and serve.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Things My Boys Teach Me

Last night I ventured down to Georgetown to Mr. Smith's on M Street, the fabulous piano bar. The front room is so jammed packed at midnight it took me literally 5 minutes to walk 15 feet to the back of the bar where the piano is. I met two of my close friends that I had met the first day of my freshman year in our dorm where we lived on the same floor.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the same Piano Man that I had seen 2 years ago, behind that magical machine. (PS: Write down a song you want attached to a $1 or $5 bill and that song magically enters your ears).

My friends and I went into the back, AKA "Beer Garden" with an open roof and a more casual environment versus the traffic jam you encounter upon walking to JUST the bathroom. The bartender was very nice and "enjoyed" our LeBron shot along with us. The recipe for LeBron follows:

James Shot:

2 oz Crown Royale
4 oz Red Bull
2 packets of Splenda (or sugar)

Pour shot, pour Red Bull in a cup (one large enough to hold a shot glass - think Car Bombs). Pour Splenda in palm, throw in air (as LeBron does) then drop Crown in Red Bull glass and CHUG!!!! I hope you enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fish Taco Night

Last night I made dinner for a few friends, 5 actually. I got some yummy wild Turbot Fillet, marinated it and baked it in it's marinade. We also had slow cooked black beans. The fish were put on corn tortillas with slices of red bell peppers, cabbage, avocado, chopped white onion, and a lime mayonnaise sauce. We served it with a dry white wine or a cold cerveza, recipe below:

1.5 lb. of a flaky white fish (such as Turbot or Halibut)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine
the zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup of orange juice
1 cup of chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 tbsp salt and pepper
1 tsp - 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you want)
1 tsp chili powder (preferably Mexican)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine all ingredients in a plastic zip top bag and marinate for 30 minutes but no longer than an hour or the acid will start to cook the fish. Place everything, fish and marinade in a flat baking dish and bake for 10-20 minutes, until the fish is opaque and flaky.

Meanwhile, chop bell peppers into strips, shred cabbage, dice white onion and slice avocados for serving and warm the tortillas.

1/2 cup of mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp skim milk
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

2 small white onions, diced
1 and 1/2 bell peppers, diced
1/2 jalapeno, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt and pepper
1.5 cup low sodium chicken broth
extra virgin olive oil
2 cans of black beans
1 tsp - 1 tbsp chili powder (preferably Mexican)
1-2 bay leaves
Optional: red pepper flakes

Add olive oil to pan, saute onions, both peppers and garlic in oil, add salt, pepper and chili powder to veggies. Saute till soft. Add black beans and bay leaf and saute for a few minutes, add broth and cook low and slow for about 30-45 minutes until beans are soft and the broth as reduced. At the end, adjust seasoning to taste and take out the bay leaf.

Compile tacos with tortilla, fish, veggies, and lime mayonnaise, serve with black beans and enjoy!! Another tip, make guacamole and salsa to go with it, serve with tortilla chips.

Ben's Chili Bowl

Today for lunch my close friend and I went to Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street in the District. Upon entering you are aware that the amount of caloric consumption you are about to encounter is equal to an entire weekends worth of food, including alcoholic beverages. My friend joked that if you're coming here, you're going balls to the wall, ordering hot dogs, fries, shakes, whatever it takes to get the full experience of Ben's. At a place that is frequented by politicians and actors (including President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton), it's almost comical to see the ambiance that includes pushing you down a conveyor belt of ordering, paying, and receiving your meal that also ironically comes with an angioplasty ten years later.

I ordered the Half Smoke with chili, cheese, and onions. A Half Smoke is a slightly larger hot dog with a coarser grind of half beef and half pork, very tasty and usually only found around the DC area. We also got fries topped with cheese. The trick to eating Ben's dogs are you let the chili and other condiments slide down the dog and onto your "plate." You then use the potato chips, that come with every hot dog, to scoop up the chili and cheese, acting as almost a dip for your chips. The famous chili is quite delicious, tastes of real ground beef, with a slight heat as my friend described. I was missing some beans, which I usually put in my chili, but I would never dare to mess with Ben's chili.

Ben's an experience, both with the loud and crazy atmosphere and the yummy, sloppy food. It's a place you must hit up while in the District. Just be prepared to pay with cash and order quickly, they are very proficient about getting your food as fast as possible, so order, pay and enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good Stuff Eatery

So I trekked down to the House side of the Capitol today to go to Good Stuff Eatery, the burger joint Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn opened in Southeast DC to have lunch with a friend. I was pleasantly surprised to see Spike himself bagging and paging customers once their orders were ready to be consumed. Spike in all his glory was still wearing his Fedora hat but looked a little bored or overwhelmed, couldn't tell which but it was a busy lunch rush, so I don't blame him. However, as a big fan of Top Chef, I was almost giddy to actually meet a contestent of the show.

I ordered the Colletti's Smokehouse burger with Applewood smoked bacon, sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, fried Vidalia onion rings, with a Chipotle BBQ sauce. The burger was thankfully not oversized but lacked some vegetables, maybe some spinach or carrots. We also ordred Spike's Village Fries that had thyme, rosemary, and cracked pepper. Both the burger and the fries were equally delicious, but a little heavy, however not many go to a burger joint to eat healthily. The Chipotle BBQ sauce was not to sweet, but lacked a bit of heat which I would have liked and the Vidalia onion rings were oh so deliciously crunchy and sweet which contrasted the nice texture to the soft bun.

I wish I had room for a famous shake, but conserving calories ya know? I reccommend this place if you want a tasty, adventerous hamburger with some fun ambiance. Sitting outside was a great idea also, as long as you can excape the summer rain in DC. Great job Spike, it was a pleasure meeting you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lauriol Plaza

Had lunch at Lauriol Plaza in DC on 18th street with my cousin. Had a special with grilled beef, chicken, and shrimp with a spanish seasoning and lemon that came with roasted veg and Spanish rice. Washed it all down with 2 lime margaritas on the rocks, no salt. I feel that a majority of margaritas are to sweet and lack some serious tequila. Lauriol's margaritas have been pre-made, especially if you're having a blended one. Here's my recipe for lime margaritas:

2-3 oz tequila, preferabily silver Patron
1-1.5 oz tripple sec/some kind of orange liquour
2 limes, juices
1/2 tsp. of Splenda or sugar (optional)

Shake with ice cubes and serve in a fun (salt rimmed) glass, garnish with an ice.

Making a fabulous dinner tonight, post the recipe later thanks to Giada.