Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's for Lunch?

What have I been eating for lunch lately? Tasty meals that are easy to whip up in a snap!

The "BEST" Sandwich "Best" also meaning Bacon, Egg, Spinach, and Tomato
on parmesan-parsley crusted sheepherders bread!
How to make: butter one slice of bread and sprinkle with
grated parmesan and fresh chopped parsley. Grill in a hot
skillet until parmesan begins to brown. In the same pan,
crack an egg and cook over hard. Season with pepper.
Assemble sandwich with other ingredients and take your
brown bag lunch to a whole new level :)

Simple Mac & Cheese
You'll never want instant or microwave
mac & cheese after you try this recipe!
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 8 ounces of pasta until al dente.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk and bring to a slight boil. Immediately remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of shredded cheese (I recommend a sharp cheddar and jack blend).
4. Add a dash of worchestershire sauce, dash of thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon of spicy brown mustard. Add pasta to cheese mixture and pour in a greased pan.
5. Top with more shredded cheese and make the topping by combining 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon paprika.
6. Bake at 375* for 30 minutes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer Sangria

Sangria has become one of my favorite drinks of the summer because it is light and refreshing and it combines two great ingredients: wine and fresh fruit. I also love that the variations and combinations of sangria are virtually endless. Most recipes can be tweaked to your personal tastes - here's my simple and easy version:

Summer Sangria

1 bottle Chianti
2 cups ginger ale
1 cup orange juice
1 orange
1 cup blackberries

Combine all liquids in a large pitcher. Cut orange into bite sized pieces. Add fruit to wine mixture and chill for 1 hour. When ready to serve, pour sangria in glasses filled with ice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not Just For Breakfast Anymore: Waffle Cookies

When I came across this recipe, I thought, "Wow. So simple, yet so creative." These breakfast cookies aren't too sweet and will go great with your morning cup of joe!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Waffle Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1. Heat waffle iron. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients.

3. Add oats and chocolate chips.

4. Using a scoop, portion out batter into waffle iron greased with non-stick cooking spray. Cook 2-4 minutes, depending on the heat of the iron. Carefully remove with spatula and tongs and let cool.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Zucchini Banana Bread

When it comes to bananas, I'm pretty picky and really only enjoy eating them when they're a little under ripe. Whenever I have a few that start to develop spots, the first thing that comes to mind is: BANANA BREAD :D Here's a funky twist on a classic:

Zucchini Banana Bread
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 medium zucchini
3 Tbsp. milk
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Peel and mash bananas. Grate zucchini and add to bananas. Combine sugars in a bowl and gradually add oil. Add eggs, one at a time. Add banana-zucchini mixture and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients. Add nuts last. Grease loaf pans or prepare muffin tins. Bake at 325* for one hour (adjust time for muffins) or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Trendy Now: Food Trucks

Food is such a fascinating concept because of what can be done with it creatively, visually, and conceptually. Having said that, food can also be trendy. In recent years, Sprinkles sparked the cupcake craze. Shortly after, Pinkberry and its many counterparts helped put frozen yogurt on the popularity scale. Now, the biggest trend in food service are the ever-growing population of food trucks - or less favorably known as the "roach coach."
Never in a million years would I expect to see myself looking forward to dining off of a mobile truck. Just a few years ago, most people knew food trucks as the run-down, slightly unsanitary vehicles that served unhealthy American and Mexican fare to blue-collar workers. But in the recent year, food trucks have cleaned up their acts, taken on international themes, and become the latest buzz on Twitter feeds. You can find practically anything to eat on these trucks - from Indian curry (India Jones) to ice cream sandwiches (Cool Haus) to Korean fusion tacos from Kogi, the ones who started it all.
This past Friday, a friend and I headed down to Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice for their monthly First Fridays event. At least a dozen food trucks occupied the area and you could easily tell which ones were the most popular by the size of their lines. One of the longest lines was The Grilled Cheese Truck, but let me tell you, their food is definitely worth the wait!
By all means, whatever you do, you MUST get the Cheesy Mac & Rib. No questions asked. Yes it is rich and yes I was only able to eat half of it (along with my dessert melt - also a winner!) but it is one of the most delicious grilled sandwiches my lucky little taste buds have ever come in contact with!!

Cheesy Mac & Rib

Macaroni & Cheese, BBQ Pulled Pork, & Caramelized Onions

Dessert Melt
Banana Puree, Nutella, & Melted Marshmallow

Tater Tots
Garlic Aioli & Chipotle Mayo Dipping Sauces

For a complete list of food trucks in the Los Angeles area, please click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eating My Way Through Japan

Bento Box
The typical Japanese lunch. This one had fried rice, two kinds of
shumai, karaage (fried chicken), eggplant salad, and ginger.
Japanese Buffet*
This was my favorite meal of the trip because it had a selection of
all the popular Japanese foods and a dessert bar! There was
salad, tempura, shabu shabu, saba, yakitori, croquette, seafood
casserole, kabocha, tonkatsu, fried noodles, curry, miso soup,
sushi, a few types of Japanese pickles and salads, fruit,
sakura manju, cakes, and ice cream!
*This was an ironic concept for Japan, since everything
is about portion control and it is customary to finish all
of the food you are served on your plate.

Hello Kitty Water Bottles

American products with Japanese text

Never seen Haagen Dazs Macadamia Nut flavor - not even in Hawaii!

Hot Food Vending Machine

Yes, folks you can even get your lunch out of a vending machine
in Japan! They had drink vending machines EVERYWHERE,
but this was the first food one I found!
(It takes about 2 minutes to heat the food.)
Strawberry Flavored Popcorn
At Disney Sea there were multiple food carts that sold different
flavored popcorn like curry, black pepper, milk tea, caramel,
and strawberry.
McDonald's Value Menu
Most of these items can be found on an American value menu,
except for the Bacon Potato Pie and "Shaka Shaka Chicken"
Also, their Apple Pie is deep fried, not baked like it is here.
Teriyaki Burger and Fries
The "burger" patty wasn't 100% ground beef (probably because
meat is hard to come by in Japan) and tasted more like a
veggie patty. The sizes of fries and drinks are much smaller
than the ones in America.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Economic & Culinary Bliss: K'ya Happy Hour

So I know I've blogged about K'ya before, but last week I discovered that their already budget-friendly, high-quality menu has a HAPPY HOUR. Yes, boys and girls that means from 4:30-5:30 PM it is 1/2 off ALL food items!! Drinks are still regular price, but when you're paying $2.50 for truffle risotto, who cares?

They also updated their menu since December and added a few new items (still none over $15!) like the seared scallops. This fun little tapas spot never ceases to amaze me!

My apologies for the dark pictures, the restaurant was dimly lit...

Flash Fired Calamari with Thai Glaze - $2.50 (Reg. $5)
Seared Lamb Chops with Baby Arugula - $5 (Reg. $10)
Black Truffle Risotto - $2.50 (Reg. $5)
Seared Scallops on Spinach and Mushrooms
with Lemon Butter Sauce & Polenta - $5 (Reg. $10)

K'ya Bistro Bar
1287 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, 92651
(949) 376-9718
Reservations highly recommended.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Amazing Breadsticks and Wannabe Carbonara

When eating out, I usually tend to order menu items that are lighter and healthier (for the most part) and won't do too much damage to my waistline. However, for the past month or so I've really been craving a rich, homestyle spaghetti carbonara. Like how an Italian grandmother would make it with tons of crispy bacon bits and freshly shaved parm...Unfortunately, for some reason I just don't see it on many menus these days.

This past Saturday, I found myself at Dominic's (an Italian restaurant in Cypress) for a friend's birthday and low and behold, they had spaghetti carbonara on the menu. Yahoo!
Most dishes here are served with salad and their "famous" garlic breadsticks. "Famous" I'm not too sure, because I've never heard of this place before, but "AMAZING" yes!! Served hot out of the oven and glistening with butter and garlic, the bread was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Really one of the best garlic breadsticks I've tasted!
After devouring the bread, I anticipated the carbonara even more. Sadly, my craving for this dish was not fulfilled because their "carbonara" was actually served in a cream sauce and really was a carbonara at all. They should have called it "fettuccini with bacon." You see, traditional carbonara is simply made with noodles, eggs, bacon, onion, white wine, and parmesan cheese. There is no sauce like there was in this dish. It was still filling, but slightly heavy and not what I was expecting.

Overall, the garlic bread was the real star of Dominic's. They do have an extensive menu with plenty of other options to choose from. I would recommend the lobster ravioli instead, but as long as there's bread around, I'd be pretty happy.