Friday, December 30, 2011

M is for: My Top Ten from 2011

(Courtesy: CU Independent art/Beth Schonberger)
I've noticed a lot of my favorite food blogs are putting together "best of" lists this time of year. I decided to join in the fun even though my blog has only been in existence for about three months. But I've been busy during that time...65 posts with most of them being recipes! And with "M week," coming to a close, it marks the halfway point for eisforeat.

Since I have a smaller sample size, I was going to just do a Top 5. But it was too hard to pick only five, so I decided to do 10. Some of it I based on popularity on the blog (ahem...jello shots), and part of it was based on my pride in coming up with that particular recipe.

So without further ado...(drumroll please)....I present My Top Ten Recipes from 2011.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

M is for: Mushrooms Stuffed with Crab {a Tailgate Special}

It's crab season!!

I can't believe it's taken me this long to get around to posting a crab recipe, but I'm definitely going to be eating more of this as long as it's Dungeness Crab season in San Francisco.

Stuffed mushrooms are also a favorite of mine. I have a version that includes chopped pepperoni and mozzarella cheese and another that calls for Italian sausage and cream cheese.

These beauties I concocted as I was waiting out a flight delay at LAX. Simple and delicious, the crab is the star here. And I LOVE the addition of cooking them on the grill.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

M is for: Mac 'n Cheese with Roasted Jalapeños and Pancetta

Spicy Mac 'n Cheese: Comfort food with a kick!
Like most of America...I've been overindulging a little this holiday season. Just look back at my posts over the last few weeks. Cookies, jello shots, pasta, pizza...the list goes on and on. (And that doesn't even count the stuff I *didn't* blog about).

Next week...the healthy eating starts. January 3rd...mark it down. (Why not the 2nd, you ask? Because I have something fun planned for that night...stay tuned). But in the meantime, I have one more week to stuff myself with things like macaroni and cheese.  

My friend and coworker Mandy is OBSESSED with mac 'n cheese. So much so that she has her own blog dedicated to finding the best mac in San Francisco. Sadly, she is out of town this week and didn't get a chance to taste my masterpiece. But I'm still dedicating this post to Mandy and her eternal love for all things noodles and cheese.

Monday, December 26, 2011

M is for: Mozza {Los Angeles Restaurant Review}

As I mentioned in my Melted Snowman Cookie post, I spent the holiday with part of my family in Los Angeles this year, soaking up the rays and not missing a white Christmas one bit. Instead of cooking a big dinner like we normally do, we thought it would be fun to hit up one of L.A.'s many great restaurants on Christmas Eve.

My cousin Erin selected Osteria Mozza, which is part of the Mozza Restaurant group, partly owned by Mario Batali. (Also apropos of "M" week).

If you are looking for some of the most amazing Italian food you've ever had outside of Italy, you should definitely check this place out next time you're in Los Angeles. They also have a pizzeria next door, which would be perfect spot for a more casual gathering.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

M is for: Melted Snowman Cookies {& Merry Christmas!}


Well didn't that turn out perfectly? I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas holiday. I'm down in L.A. visiting my cousin Erin and her husband Stu. My mom is here, along with my aunt, and we are certainly enjoying the 70-degree weather and sunny skies.

My cousin shares my love for the kitchen, but got the good baking genes in the family. (She gets it from my Aunt Candy, who made a delicious chocolate torte on Friday. I just might have to bust that out for "T" week).

But for the blog, I have been eyeing these melted marshmallow snowmen cookies I saw on Pinterest for a few weeks. It turned out to be a fun project, as we played around with different icings and used our Great Aunt Ruth Kitchell's sugar cookie recipe.

Friday, December 23, 2011

L is for: Lemon Garlic Aioli with Grilled Artichokes, a Tailgate Special

As my loyal blog readers know, I receive a weekly CSA vegetable service. On accident, I ordered TWO different ones last week, so needless to say, my fridge was overflowing with veggies. 

It worked out, because vegetables are GREAT on the grill, thus making them perfect for tailgating and my Friday tailgating feature. Among my bounty of vegetables, I had four artichokes, and decided I would try grilling them. I also had some leftover lemon juice from making the lemon peel jello shots.

I eat artichokes pretty often, but this is the first time I had tried them on the grill. Like most vegetables, it infuses a smoky flavor that can only be achieved on an open flame. Happy Tailgating and Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

L is for: Lemon Meringue & Arnold Palmer Jello Shots

Before you start praising me for another stroke of jello shot genius...this is not an original idea. Just do a google image search for lemon jello shots and you'll see what I'm talking about.

However, I will take credit for these DE-LICIOUS flavor combinations. Well, one of them anyways...the other one, I have to credit my cousin Erin, who loves jello shots even more than I do.

For those of you who haven't seen this clever trick, you just have to try it. It's super easy, and your friends will think you are the coolest kid at the party.

And to kick up the flavor a notch, consider using whipped cream vodka and lemon jello for a lemon meringue or use sweet tea vodka for a jelled version of an Arnold Palmer.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

L is for: Latkes with Homemade Applesauce

Potato Latkes with Homemade Applesauce
My co-worker and friend Randi has been one of my loyal blog followers from the beginning. Randi is Jewish, so with Hanukkah coming up this week, she passed along her family's latke recipe (a.k.a. potato pancakes).

I did a little research to prepare for this post and I learned that the reason latkes are eaten during this holiday is because they are fried in oil, which commemorates the miracle oil that burned for eight days. Even though I'm not Jewish, I'm honored Randi shared her recipe and tradition with me and was excited to make them. (And besides, I love both potatoes AND fried things, so it's a win-win).

Randi told me that when her family makes this, they make so many that they form an assembly line in the kitchen with "stations" to get them done more efficiently. Sometimes I wish I had an assembly line in my kitchen. Though, I guess there really isn't room in mine.

L is for: Little Saigon

On Friday, as my photographer Rob I were covering the sentencing the sentencing of Home Run King Barry Bonds, I noticed we were in a specific section of the Tenderloin called Little Saigon.

I looked it up, and apparently in 2004, the city of San Francisco officially designated the two-block stretch of Larkin Street between Eddy and O'Farrell streets, as Little Saigon. About 15% of the city's Vietnamese-American residents live in that area, and the businesses in that corridor are predominantly Vietnamese. Enter a little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop called Saigon Sandwich.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

K is for: Kale Salad with Butternut Squash

Kale with roasted butternut squash, pepitas, sunflower seeds, & pecorino
If you've seen my last few recipe posts, you'll notice a common theme: alcohol. 

Yes, I know it's the holidays, and 'tis the season for parties and dinners and desserts, but I feel like I've been overindulging in the holiday food and drink department lately. I needed something healthy, something green, something cleansing. I needed kale. 

If you remember, I made this kale salad for Thanksgiving. This is a recipe by way of a local chef Anne Olson, passed along to me by my friend Devon. It's easy to make and perfectly highlights fall & winter flavors.

Friday, December 16, 2011

K is for: Ketchup Cola Marinade {a Tailgate Special}

Coca Cola Classic is the secret ingredient for this BBQ sauce
I'm not sure where I stumbled upon the idea to use cola in a marinade, but I'm so glad I did because I loved it! It totally sounds like a weird component of a BBQ sauce, but I can personally vouch for it.

I'm a big fan of marinating meats...especially when you're planning to cook them on the grill. It helps keep the meat from drying out, and it infuses a lot of flavors into each bite.

This one is basically a twist on a basic BBQ sauce, with Cola and Ketchup being the main ingredients.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

K is for: Koo {Restaurant Review}

Let me preface this post by saying that San Francisco is by far the most amazing city I've ever lived in for quality of amazing, interesting restaurants.

However, having lived in San Diego for almost five years, I feel as thought San Francisco is sometimes lacking in the sushi department. Don't get me wrong, there are fantastic sushi restaurants in the city. But in San Diego, they are everywhere. In San Francisco, you have to look a little harder. A field trip to Koo in the inner sunset is one of those hidden gems.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

K is for: Key Lime Pie Martinis

Key Lime Pie Martinis...they taste exactly as they sound. The creamy, limey, tropical taste of a key lime pie all wrapped up into a sippable drink.

These were once a staple at any party I hosted...a recipe first introduced to me by my cousin Erin. I haven't made them in a few years, and given my newfound obsession with whipped cream vodka, I thought this was the perfect time to revisit an old favorite.

Key Lime Pie is usually considered a summer flavor, but I think because of the green color, it totally passes for a holiday drink.

My friend Sophia decided to have a girls holiday dinner in which we met at her house for drinks on a Monday night, and moved onto Perbacco Ristorante for dinner. Enter the Key Lime Pie Martinis.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

K is for: Kahlua & Oreo Pie

This is my kind of dessert. It involves no baking, very few ingredients, and alcohol.

These frozen Kahlua and Oreo treats happen to be one of my mom's go-to recipes as well. If you decide to make them, you'll understand why. They are ridiculously simple and dangerously addictive.

I brought them to my friend Andrea's on Sunday, who was hosting a girls painting party. (Which, by the way was a really cute idea...see my masterpiece on the left).

Sadly, I forgot to take them out of the freezer during the party and accidentally left them there. Andrea texted me this morning: "Damn you for leaving me with a 5,000 calorie delicious dessert!" Like I said, dangerous. I'm just glad it's not in MY freezer, or else I would be in big trouble.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

J is for: Jolly Jello Shots

Calling these "Jello Shots" is sort of like an insult to these beauties. As I was told several times last night, they are a work of art. And they are. I took great care and calculated hours to make these as beautiful as they are tasty. And I'm not gonna lie, I was proud.

Yes, they contain alcohol in gelatin form, but these are a far cry from your typical college jello shot in a paper dixie cup. THESE are classy, sophisticated, and totally acceptable to drink/eat well into adulthood. Add in a few holiday themed colors and shapes, and these will become a staple at all of your holiday parties.

Since starting the food blog, I've actually been wanting to make jello shots for awhile. My cousin Erin made some amazing ones for my sister's bachelorette party and I'm a loyal follower of That's So Michelle and Jelly Shot Test Kitchen, so I'm crediting all of them with the inspiration behind these masterpieces.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

J is for: Jalapeño Poppers {a Tailgate Special}

Jalapeños, bacon, and cream cheese. What more do you need?
My dad has a few "signature" dishes that constantly get requested at family gatherings. Among them: artichoke dip, baked beans, chili, and jalapeño poppers. I love them all.

It being "J week" and all, I decided to make the poppers for my tailgate blog. But instead of roasting them in the oven, I thought they would be great on the grill...making them perfect for a tailgate party.  Spicy, cheesy, and smoky all rolled into a single bite.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

J is for: Javier's and Jalapeño-infused tequila {Dallas Restaurant Review}

I'm in Dallas for work this week covering the Baseball Winter Meetings. Mostly this involves me sitting around a hotel lobby stalking people and hoping news will happen in front of me. Riveting stuff. Although not particularly difficult, it's time consuming and allows little chance for leaving the hotel to explore the local eats. Fortunately, we had a little time to do this on Sunday night.

But before I get to what we ate...I need to tell you about the tequila we had AFTER dinner at our hotel bar. They had all sorts of infused spirits available that are made in-house. The one that intrigued me most was a grilled pineapple and jalapeño tequila. The bartender was nice enough to allow me to try it and explained to me how it's made.

They literally grill up some pineapple and jalapeños, and pop them into a bottle with either gold or reposado tequila. She said the flavor only takes about 4-5 days to start taking effect, but sometimes they will leave it in there up to a week or two. The result? A tequila with a smoky hint of fruit and a spicy aftertaste. No limes or salt needed. I just might have to try infusing something myself!

Monday, December 5, 2011

J is for: Jerusalem Artichoke {Sunchoke} & Potato Soup

Since I'm traveling for work this week, I planned ahead, and made this soup a few weeks back. The base for this soup is something called a Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke. I received them in my weekly vegetable bag, and was excited to try them.

I also received some red potatoes that same week, and I decided that together, they would make a great soup, perfect for this time of year. (Yukons probably would've been better, but the red ones turned out great!)

Contrary to the name, they are not related to Jerusalem nor are they an artichoke. However, they do have a similar flavor to the artichoke, with a slightly sweet and nutty taste.

They are actually a species of sunflower, native to North America. The roots are an edible tuber and can vary in color from tan to white or even a pinkish or purple color. They are a great source of potassium.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

J is for: Just For You Cafe {Restaurant Review}

I swear I didn't even plan it this time. My friend Kim and I were running an errand in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco and wanted to grab brunch afterwards. We actually tried to go to Serpentine, but it was going to be at least a 30 minute wait. Instead, we wandered down 22nd Street to Just For You Cafe.

I had been there before, so I could already vouch for the food, and then it dawned on me...J week. Perfect!

It's kind of got the diner/greasy spoon atmosphere going, but the food is outstanding. (Plus, they serve Mexican Coke...which I love). I appreciate the signs on the walls like "We reserve the right to pour coffee on your cell phone" and "We love your baby, not your stroller."

I is for: Italian & the Most INCREDIBLE Ice Cream {Zero Zero Restaurant Review}

Soft serve + olive oil + sea salt = genius
OK, so I was totally just going to save this place for "Z" week, but I simply cannot wait that long to share Zero Zero with you.

I drive by Zero Zero pretty much everyday on my way to work. It always catches my eye and I always wonder how it is or what kind of food they serve. I finally decided to look it up on Yelp, and I was blown away by the amount of positive reviews for this little Italian place. That was a couple months ago. I can't believe it took me this long to check it out.

The perfect occasion arose tonight as I have been wanting to take my co-worker Tory out for dinner. Not only is she one of the people who suggested I start a food blog, but sadly, she's also leaving San Francisco in a week to take a job with our affiliate in Boston. I've worked pretty closely with Tory over the last couple years, she being the main field producer at Giants home games. Inevitably, we end up talking about food A LOT, so it seemed fitting that her farewell dinner get featured on the blog.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I is for: Inside Out Bacon Cheeseburgers {a Tailgate Special}

These burgers give you a delicious surprise when you bite into one!
After trying the awesome burger at Heirloom Cafe last week, I was inspired to create my own version for the blog. I decided to add crumbled bacon and use an aged white cheddar and stuff them both in the middle of a hamburger patty.

The result? Melty, meaty, cheesy, bacon-y perfection on a bun. These would be great for a tailgate. You don't have to worry about packing cheese or bacon because they are already packed inside the hamburger patty. You could also make them with a grill pan on your stove.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I is for: Ice Cream {in a bag!}

When I was a kid, my mom used to make ice cream all the time. It was one of those old-fashioned wooden ice cream makers that spun around with ice and salt on the outside of it.

I think I took for granted how awesome it was to always have fresh, homemade ice cream in the freezer whenever we wanted.

When I was brainstorming ideas for "I" week, I decided I HAD to make ice cream. One small problem: I don't have an ice cream maker. Nor do I have the space for one even if I wanted to go out and buy one. (I'm told they are relatively inexpensive these days).

So I was delighted to discover this super easy technique for making ice cream at home: PLASTIC BAGS!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I is for: Ike's Place

Photo credit: Chase Ottney
If you follow me on twitter, you are well aware of my affinity for one certain sandwich shop in San Francisco.

Not only is Ike's Place my favorite place to get a tasty (and filling) sandwich, but Ike has made a lifelong fan and customer out of this girl by giving me my very own sandwich.

Yup, I have a sandwich. Named after me. How cool is that?!? The day the "Jaymee Sirewich" debuted was one of those days where you say to yourself "Wow, my life is pretty awesome."

Photo credit: Chase Ottney
When people hear I have a sandwich named after me, a lot of them try to guess what I picked for my ingredients. One co-worker said: "Let me guess: turkey, avocado, sprouts, and cucumbers." Ha...the Jaymee Sirewich couldn't be more opposite. While I also enjoy turkey and avocado, I wanted to go for something with a little more "Wow" factor.

Photo credit: Chase Ottney
I told Ike that I love wing sauce, but they already have the Hot Momma Huda...which has chicken, Frank's RedHot, Ranch, and Provolone. So I actually went in for a "tasting" and we sampled about six different combinations. One of them included a yellow BBQ/wing sauce, which is a mustard-based sauce. I loved the tangy and slightly spicy take on one of my favorites, so I was sold.

Photo credit: Chase Ottney
I'm also a fan of Ike's halal chicken, but the FRIED chicken option was just too good to pass up. Add Ike's famous dirty sauce, ranch dressing, and some pepper jack cheese...and you've got yourself a Jaymee Sirewich. I opt for no tomatoes, and add pepperoncinis and sometimes jalapenos for extra kick (on Dutch Crunch of course).

Photo credit: Chase Ottney

And I would be remiss here if I didn't thank my friend and co-worker Adam Littlefield for getting the ball rolling on this thing. So thanks Adam!

In the meantime, if you haven't been, get down to Ike's and check out the Jaymee Sirewich. (You can also sub vegan breaded chicken if you're not a meat eater or gluten free bread if you can't have wheat). And to see some of the other sports-themed sandwiches, check out the open to our SportsNet Central show on National Sandwich Day a few weeks back.

[UPDATE 12/3] I couldn't resist adding a photo of my other co-worker (Matt Maiocco, left). I owed him lunch, and he chose Ike's as the place to settle up this week. This was his very first experience trying Ike's. Naturally, he decided to get the Jaymee Sirewich. Just look at the sheer joy and excitement on his face.

Folks, it really is THAT good.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I is for: Iceberg Lettuce Cups {with leftover turkey}

I may have found my new favorite way to use up Thanksgiving turkey. Asian lettuce cups! Similar to what you might get at a place like P.F. Changs (or Betelnut for you San Francisco peeps)...but better of course because it's homemade.

Also, as much as I looooove all of the Thanksgiving leftovers and turkey sandwiches, by Saturday, I'm usually ready for a different type of flavor. These are perfect because they don't resemble Thanksgiving, but they are a great way to use up some extra turkey if you are lucky enough to still have some.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

H is for: Happy.


That's how I'm feeling right now as I sit with my family...full from our Thanksgiving meal, glass of wine in my hand, and football on TV. (And turkey stock simmering on the stove because I just can't help myself). I'm feeling extremely thankful on this Thanksgiving. I hope everyone is having a fabulous day of food and family. Thanks to my mom (Wendy), sister (Heather), and brother in law (Shaun) for making the trip to San Francisco and for helping out in the kitchen (and with the dishes).

Couldn't help but post a couple (OK a lot) of pics from our awesome day.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

H is for: Hot Wing Dip {a Tailgate Special}

This Buffalo Chicken Dip is perfect for your next party or tailgate.
I have this weird affinity for wing sauce. I love the tangy, spicy and just overall deliciousness of the stuff. If it was socially acceptable, I could eat it with a spoon, but it's not so I eat it on things like chicken wings and in this dip.

This is Buffalo Chicken Dip (or hot wing dip for the sake of the blog). It doesn't look all that appetizing, but trust me, it's awesome. And normally I would never choose a vegetable over a chip for dipping, but in this case, it actually tastes just as good.

H is for: Heirloom Cafe {Restaurant Review}

Courtesy: Heirloom Cafe
The Thanksgiving festivities have officially begun. Tuesday I worked my one day this week (rough life), and my mom arrived in San Francisco. I will have the next 6 days to do nothing but cook, eat, and hang out with my family. Does it get any better than this?

Since I will be prepping Wednesday, cooking all day Thursday, and eating leftovers after that...Tuesday and Wednesday nights are dedicated to sampling new restaurants in the city with my visitors.

After the Delfina fiasco with my mom a couple weeks ago, I was a little gun shy about selecting a place to go with my mom Tuesday. And since we're already going to Slanted Door tonight, I wanted Tuesday's dinner to somehow coincide with the blog. Through my countless internet searches on Open Table, Yelp, and beyond...I discovered this place called Heirloom Cafe in the Mission. I had never heard of it, but it received great reviews and it started with an "H." Sold. (What is my life coming to that I base my decisions off of which letter I'm at in the blog?) I'm actually OK with it. Onto the food.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

H is for: Harvest Pork Stew

We've been having some very fall-ish weather in the Bay Area lately. Definitely a cool crisp to the air, and with some rain mixed in on a regular basis, it's the type of weather that calls for slow cookers, soups, and stews.

This one does not necessarily require a slow cooker, but since I needed to be doing other things that day, I went the slow cooker route. My friend Devon passed it along, and it was originally posted on All Recipes. I made a few tweaks, but mostly followed the recipe posted there. No need to mess with perfection!

What I love about this stew is it combines a bunch of delicious fall fruits and vegetables and somehow they all blend together perfectly. It's also extremely versatile in that you can use whatever you prefer (or whatever's in the fridge), and you could probably sub turkey for pork in a post-Thanksgiving Day meal!

Monday, November 21, 2011

H is for: Homemade Hot Pockets

Homemade hot pockets are healthier and almost as easy as the frozen ones!
I have to give credit to my co-workers Alexa and Richie for coming up with this one. Shortly after I started the blog, they half-jokingly suggested that I make hot pockets for "H" week. I laughed until I realized it was genius!

I remember loving hot pockets as a kid (and as an adult for that matter). But I haven't eaten one in forever because they are jam-packed with gross preservatives and things like imitation meat. Ewww.

But a HOMEMADE hot have control over everything you put in it. And the possibilities are endless! Chicken and broccoli, pepperoni pizza, sausage and eggs, etc. I'm pumped about this new discovery.

And you know what else is great about these? They would be a PERFECT way to use up leftover veggies from Thanksgiving. A little turkey, gravy, potatoes, celery, carrot...and you've got yourself a personal turkey pot pie!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

H is for: Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Thanksgiving is almost here!
I'm so FREAKING excited for Thanksgiving. It might be my favorite holiday. It seriously makes me so happy. Maybe because I always stuff myself so full of amazing food every year. Maybe because I'm surrounded by friends and family. Probably a little bit of both.

As I told you last week, I'm hosting my mom, my sister, and my brother in law. I've cooked several Thanksgiving dinners, so I'm not intimidated at all. I'm just excited to spend two full days in the kitchen. It's my happy place. (And for anyone who's seen my minuscule San Francisco kitchen, that's saying a lot).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

G is for: Glazed Hot Wings {a Tailgate Special}

Hot wings with an Asian twist: perfect for your next tailgate.
Hot wings and sports pretty much go hand in hand. So whether you're grilling them at a tailgate or serving them to a group of your friends while watching your favorite team in the comfort of your own home, wings are a staple.

Now I'll be honest, I'm obsessed with traditional wing sauce. That spicy/tangy combination cooled down by blue cheese just can't be beat. But I loved this variation too!

This was another recipe passed along by my friend Kim, who became a tailgating expert while she was living in Texas. I decided to add some Sriracha to make them a little spicy, but you could leave this out if you want to cut down on the heat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

G is for: Grand Marnier {Cranberries & Sweet Potatoes}

Since it's G week, and since TWO of my go-to Thanksgiving recipes call for Grand Marnier liqueur,
I'm posting them here for your Turkey Day enjoyment.

If you've never had Grand Marnier, it's fantastic. It's an orange liqueur that's been around since 1880, blending true cognacs and distilled essence of bitter orange. (I used it in my Grand Mimosa back in C week as well.) It's a great flavor addition to cranberries and sweet potatoes. (And don't worry, the alcohol cooks out during the baking process :)).

Unlike the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole I posted this week, I will not be making these ahead of time, so I will update with photos of the finished products after Thanksgiving. [UPDATED with photos]

But rest assured, I've made both of these recipes for the past three Thanksgivings, and every time they are met with rave reviews. So if you're on the lookout for cranberry sauce or sweet potato recipes, then give these a try. They have been tested and perfected, and I post them here with confidence.

G is for: Green Bean Casserole {with homemade ingredients}

Some of you may think it's gross, but Green Bean Casserole is one thing I can't get enough of at Thanksgiving. It's seriously like crack for me. We always have to make extra, and sometimes we have to make a second batch just to go with the leftovers.

For the longest time, I just did the standard recipe. I'll give you a involves a lot of cans. A can of fried onions. Cans of green beans. Cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup.

But since I now try to avoid canned ingredients whenever possible, it was my mission this year to recreate this recipe with fresh ingredients.

(update 11/7/13: I've made this the past two years, and my family loves it! Planning to make it again this year, so I updated it with a couple new photos).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

G is for: Greens {Turnip & Beet}

Beet and turnip greens get new life in this side dish.
One of the many benefits of receiving a weekly vegetable service is that it's opened my eyes to a lot of new foods...specifically the several varieties of greens there are out there.

Chard, kale, collard greens are some of the more common ones, but I also discovered that you can eat the tops of beets and turnips, something I would've never even considered before.

Greens are also SUPER healthy. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins.

One week, I received both beets and turnips, which I made in separate recipes, but instead of tossing the greens in the compost bin, I saved them and used them in this very simple and tasty side dish. You could substitute with any type of greens, and double or triple the recipe if you're cooking for a crowd at Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

G is for: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

These are the best garlic mashed potatoes ever!
Today's post will start a series of Thanksgiving-related recipes to give you some ideas and pointers for the big day should you find yourself in the kitchen next Thursday. I'll be hosting my mom, my sister, and my brother in law (BIL :)) and I can't wait!

It's a pretty safe bet that mashed potatoes will be somewhere on your Thanksgiving table. But there are SO many different thoughts and theories on how to make the best mashed potatoes. Over the years, I've poured over recipes and blogs on the subject, and this is what I've come up with as my combination for a go-to, can't-fail recipe. I know it's a bold statement, but I think they're the best ever. Yup, I said it.

Perhaps more important than the potato you choose is your mashing tool of choice. The key to fluffy, perfectly mashed potatoes is not to over-mash. Gluey, sticky potatoes are the result of over-mixing because it breaks down the cells and releases the starches.

Monday, November 14, 2011

G is for: Great Expectations {Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers}

Today is a very exciting day because I'm being featured over on my friend Kyna's blog, Great Expectations. I met Kyna and her husband Matt shortly after I moved to San Diego in 2003. They were literally my first friends in a new city. Now, they have an adorable little girl named Ellie, and Kyna writes a very successful blog in which Ellie is prominently featured.

She also likes to feature a "quick and easy" recipe every Monday...something that is delicious but easy to prepare for busy moms or just busy people in general. When I first started my blog, she asked if I would be interested in posting something on hers, and I jumped at the opportunity.

I decided to make these pecan-crusted chicken fingers. Who doesn't love chicken fingers? And these ones are great because they are healthier and more grown up than traditional chicken fingers, but kids should still like them too. So click here to head on over to Kyna's blog to get the recipe, and thanks again to Kyna for inviting me to be a guest blogger!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

G is for: Gluten Free Spaghetti & Meatballs with Brazilian Cheese Bread

On May 29th, 2009…my friend Devon’s life forever changed. The bad news: she received word that she has celiac disease, which means she had to immediately cut gluten from her diet. (i.e. anything with wheat, barley, or rye). The good news: she finally had an explanation for why she was feeling so awful for most of her life.

There are a ton of gluten-free products on the market these days, so it’s not as daunting as it might seem…but on the other hand, she has to be very careful because there are a lot of things that have gluten in them you might not expect. (Soy sauce, several brands of vodkas, etc).

When I decided to start this food blog adventure, she said, “We HAVE to do “Gluten Free” for G week!”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

F is for: Fringale, a Fabulous French Find {Restaurant Review}

Courtesy: SF Station
It's been a pretty amazing week for me food-wise.

It started off with a bang on Sunday when my good friend Erin was in town with her boyfriend Ryan. His sister is a server at Aziza, which is a hidden gem out in the Avenues on Geary street. (Well, I guess it's not *that* hidden since it's a Michelin Star restaurant).

We did the tasting menu and stuffed ourselves with an obscene amount of food. I regret to inform you I did not take any pictures. Though, looking back, I really wish I had. On the other hand, I was also glad to just sit back and enjoy the amazing experience and the wonderful company. 

(Besides, we sampled SO many dishes, I couldn't even begin to catalog them all.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

F is For: Frito Taco Bags {a Tailgate Special}

Portable taco bags are perfect for your next tailgate!
Happy Friday!

Since many of my readers are sports fans like me (Go Cougs!), I'm looping you in on my *other* food blog.

Today marks the second installment of Tailgate Fridays over on my company's website,

This week...Frito Taco Bags! Thanks to my friend Kim for this great idea.

So enjoy the weekend, and if you happen to be headed out to a football game, check out this super easy recipe. And be sure to check out Authentic Eats on Fridays for more fun tailgate recipe ideas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

F is for: Frittata with Leeks and Potatoes

Potato, Leek and Gruyere Frittata is perfect for any meal
It happened again.

As I was chatting with some co-workers on Monday, someone asked what was on the menu for "F" week. After I listed off my recipes, my friend Mindi says "Frittata!" I tried to resist the urge to add another recipe to my plate this week (see what I did there?)...but eventually, I caved.

I just happen to have a pan in my cupboard *specifically* for making frittatas. And I also happened to have eggs, leeks, cheese and potatoes on hand...all perfect ingredients for making a delicious and basic frittata.

The other great thing about frittatas is they are pretty easy to make, so it really wasn't that hard to add it to "F" week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

F is for: Fondue {baked in a pumpkin!}

Fondue spread baked in a miniature pumpkin! 
I realize I already professed my love affair for Autumn this week in my post about Apple Hill. (In fact I got the pumpkin for today's recipe from that trip).

But I can't help myself. I really do love all of the rich flavors this season brings. And I especially love anything with squash or pumpkin. Combine it with one of my other favorite all time ingredients...cheese...and it's pretty much a match made in heaven.

You absolutely have to make this pumpkin fondue! It is so melty and gooey and delicious and it would be perfect during the Thanksgiving holiday...either as an appetizer to the big meal or at some other point throughout the weekend. And despite the large number of steps, it's actually really easy and looks totally gourmet.

Monday, November 7, 2011

F is for: Fennel Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado and Pistachios

Crunchy fennel and tart citrus blend together in this salad
My friends keep telling me "I love your blog...but I could never make any of that stuff because I'm a horrible cook."


Everyone can make great tasting food with a little help, and that's what I try to do on my blog with the step-by-step instructions. I encourage you to at least TRY to make a recipe. And I'm sharing one today you simply can't mess up.

This is a fennel salad. If you haven't had fennel before, it has a slight hint of licorice taste to it. But I hate licorice and love fennel, so give it a try even if you are not a licorice fan. To add a little more color, you could also toss it with some spinach or arugula, but I think it tastes great on its own too.

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