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!!!