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 pocket...you 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 hint...it 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, www.csnbayarea.com.

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.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

F is for: FALL!!

I.  Love.   Fall.

I love the colors, I love the weather (especially in the Bay Area), and most importantly, I love the FOOD!

Last week, I accompanied my friend Devon and her mom on their annual trip to Apple Hill (located a little ways past Sacramento). You'll be seeing some of the "fruits" of our journey on the blog in coming weeks. But in the meantime, I wanted to share some of the images from the trip.

Some of the highlights from our many stops: Abel's Acres for pulled pork and caramel apples, Jack Russell Brewing Company for apple beer, and Rainbow Orchards for pumpkins, apple cider, cider donuts, and of course....APPLES! Enjoy!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

E is for: Enchiladas Verdes

Try making your own green sauce for these delicious enchiladas!
It happens every week. I'll have a nice, manageable list of blog ideas, and inevitably I end up adding to it as the week goes on. Earlier this week, I was telling one of my co-workers about my blog, and when I told him it was "E" week, he asked if I was doing enchiladas. Well, no. But I happen to LOVE enchiladas. Clearly, I need to do enchiladas. 

I'll be honest with you. In the past when I've made enchiladas, I cheat and use canned sauce. (I know...gasp!) But seeing as how I cook with fresh ingredients whenever possible, there is really no excuse for not making my own sauce, and as I discovered, it's really not that hard. 

I love enchiladas verdes (green sauce)...but I'm partial to the style and flavor of using green chile peppers as opposed to tomatillos. I couldn't find New Mexico chiles up here, so I went with Anaheim chiles.

Friday, November 4, 2011

E is for: Eggs {a Tailgate Special}

So if running my own personal food blog wasn't enough, I decided to start a food-related feature on my company's website, csnbayarea.com. For those of you who don't know, my "real" job is a sports reporter/anchor at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area in San Francisco. Since I clearly love food *and* sports...what better way than to combine two of my passions?!

E is for: Earl of Sandwich

Photo credit: Chase Ottney
John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich....that is the British statesman we have to thank for coming up with the idea of sticking meats and cheeses between two pieces of bread.

Anyways...today was National Sandwich Day...so to celebrate it at work, we decided to have a little fun with the open to our news show. It's a little cheesy, but fun...sort of like the Jaymee Sirewich at Ike's. (Yup, I have a sandwich named after me...more on that in "I" week). Hope you all celebrated National Sandwich Day!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

E is for: Edible Education 101 {& Gather Restaurant Review}

Last night, my friend Kim and I had the opportunity to attend a lecture in Berkeley called Edible Education 101. It's a credited course for Cal students, but they also reserve seats for the general public, which is pretty cool. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame spoke about her project, The Edible Schoolyard, which is aimed at transforming the health and values of kids by sharing a food curriculum in the school system.

For those of you who don't know about Alice Waters, she is considered a pioneer for starting the slow food movement, which maintains that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. Basically, it's the philosophy used by just about every great restaurant in the Bay Area these days. (And most other places for that matter.)

After the lecture, we decided what better way to celebrate this concept than to check out one of the hottest new restaurants in Berkeley which is the epitome of this philosophy, Gather. All of the ingredients...from the vegetables to the meats to the wine are organic and local. Their menu is constantly changing to reflect the freshest ingredients of each season. Even the liquor they use for their cocktails is organic. (We sampled a few of these concoctions, and they were all fabulous).

Full disclosure: Gather is part of my friend Kim's company, Back to Earth Catering, so they treated us very well on our visit. But I can honestly say that regardless of her affiliation with the restaurant, it was one of the best meals I've experienced in a very long time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

E is for: Elderflower Martini

Sometimes the best recipes come from mistakes or improvisation. This happened yesterday when I created this Elderflower cocktail. After cooking all afternoon (including the delicious Eggplant Parmesan I posted yesterday), I was exhausted from being on my feet all day and decided I needed to sit down and unwind.

I had planned to do an Elderflower cocktail at some point this week, so I had already purchased this pürlikör blossom from a local liquor store. Previously, I had only tried St. Germain, but the guy at the liquor store actually recommended this one instead, and it was about 25% cheaper, so I was sold.

Here's where the improvising came in. As I was getting ready to put everything in the shaker, I realized I was out of ice cubes (aka I forgot to fill my ice trays with water last time I used them). I actually considered asking one of my neighbors for ice, but I thought that might be kind of weird and there was no way I was walking to the gas station at this point in the day. So I looked in my freezer and found FROZEN BERRIES! Score! They served the purpose for quickly chilling the alcohol, and they added this beautiful magenta color to the drink, as well as a bit of flavor.

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