Tuesday, February 28, 2012

V is for: Vodka, Infused with Citrus

Ever since I tried grilled jalapeno and pineapple tequila in Dallas, I've been dying to try my own hand at infusing liquor.

Recently I had lots of extra oranges and grapefruit in my fridge. Besides making greyhound jello shots or Grand Mimosas, I decided they would be great for making flavored vodka.

I did some internet research on the subject, and I found that it really is as easy as just cutting up some fruit and letting it steep in your alcohol of choice for a couple of weeks.

Monday, February 27, 2012

V is for: Vegetable Lasagna in the Slow Cooker {guest post}

I'm very excited to introduce today's guest blogger, Karen Bellessa Petersen. As you might remember from my Pulled Pork Paninis, which I posted on her blog back in January, Karen runs a very successful  slow cooking blog, and has her SECOND cookbook coming out soon. 

Today, she shares a vegetable lasagna that can be made in the slow cooker. How cool is that?!?

Another exciting thing about this post? It's the first recipe containing bell peppers on my blog. As my close friends know, it's the one weird thing I won't eat, but I do feel like I deprive my blog readers of these healthy vegetables that are universally enjoyed by a lot of people. I am definitely going to try this recipe, but substitute zucchini, as Karen suggested as a possible variation. Thanks Karen, looks great!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

U is for: Underdog's {Restaurant Review} {guest post}

When my friends Matt and Adam told me they wanted to do a guest post for "U" week, I'm not gonna lie...I was a little nervous. (Let's just say they enjoy drinking just as much as they do eating). But when the photos started arriving in my inbox today, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. I'll let them take it from here, but let's just say I hope I can join them for some tacos and margs very soon.
Jaymee likes to cook. Like, a lot. But you already knew that. Turns out, we don’t. Or, more accurately, we’d rather someone else do it for us, if the option’s on the table. But, as official “blog supporters”, the least we could do was pitch in with our favorite “U” related restaurant in the city. That would be The Taco Shop at Underdog’s, a hidden gem buried in the deep outreaches of the Sunset, on the corner of 19th and Irving.

We started coming here a year or so ago, when we heard rumor of insane tacos and a killer happy hour, featuring Margarita Madness, a 30 minute free-for-all every Friday, complete with $1 margaritas, brought to your table in rapid-fire succession by pitcher wielding waitresses ready to offer relief from a sad, lonely, empty glass.

Friday, February 24, 2012

U is for: Udon Noodle Soup {gluten free, guest post}

For today's guest post, I'm pleased to introduce you to my dear friend Devon Fox. Of course, if you read my blog regularly, you are well acquainted with Devon already. Devon was one of the first people I met when I moved to San Francisco, and we were immediately joined at the hip and have been ever since.

You might remember Devon from Apple Hill, Gary Danko or our Gluten Free Spaghetti and Meatballs post we did a couple of months back. As I explained then, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease shortly after we met. This means she can't have gluten. Like, at all. She decided to make gluten free udon noodles from scratch. I love that she used a plastic bag to squeeze out the noodles. It makes me feel like I could totally make this on my own. Thanks again Devon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

U is for: Ultimate Jello Shot {for the Oscars}

And the winner for best Oscar party food goes to.... eisforeat!

Unless you've been living under a rock most your life (and not reading my blog), you've heard of jello shots. There's also a decent chance you've heard of vodka-soaked gummy bears. But I'd bet money you haven't tried vodka-soaked gummies INSIDE of a jello shot. Yup. I went there. It's like the ultimate jello shot.

This collaboration is the second of my Oscar party posts over on hellobrit.com. Make these, and you're sure to be the show stopper.

You could even make a drinking game out of it... like, take a jello shot every time they show Brad Pitt or George Clooney. (Come to think of it, that might not be the best idea unless you want to get wasted!) 
Anyways, to get the step by step instructions on Brit's site, click here

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

U is for: Upscale Popcorn Bar {for the Oscars}

It's Oscar week!

For some of you, that means throwing a star-studded Oscar party Sunday night. Since it's an evening all about the movies, why not bring the theater experience to your guests? A candy bar would be fun, but why not show off your creativity and culinary skills with a popcorn bar?

Name each specialty mix after former Oscar winners, and you're sure to be the talk of tinseltown...or at least the talk of all your friends.

Special thanks to the charming Vogue Theater for serving as the backdrop for this movie-inspired post. To get some popcorn recipe ideas, click here for the full post on hellobrit.com.

Monday, February 20, 2012

U is for: Upside Down Cake with Grapefruit & Blueberries {guest post}

Friday I arrived in Arizona for a two-week work assignment covering spring training for Comcast SportsNet. (Yes, I really do have a an actual job...the blog is more my obsession).

Anyways, since I won't have access to a kitchen for a couple of weeks, some of my dear friends volunteered to do some guest blogging for me. I'll still be sprinkling in a few posts I did ahead of time, but for the most part, I'm putting the blog in the capable hands of Devon, Kim, Kasey, and Karen.

Today's blog comes to us from my friend Kim Grubbs. While I'm definitely a cook and not much of a baker, Kim does both very well. Her true love is baking, so we knew some sort of baked goodie was in order. I'll let Kim take it from here, but I can personally vouch for this delicious cake first-hand as we had it for breakfast the day before I left. (Yes, we had cake for breakfast. So what?)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

T is for: Tommy V's & Scottsdale Food Finds {Restaurant Review}

For the next two weeks, my home is Scottsdale, Arizona. I'm covering the San Francisco Giants Spring Training for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. What does this mean for the blog, you ask? Well, it means you will be getting lots of great recommendations should you happen to be planning a trip to Arizona for Spring Training or any other reason in the near future. It also means you'll still be getting some recipe ideas from some of my dear friends. (More on that tomorrow).

For Scottsdale restaurant ideas, be sure to check back on this post periodically throughout the next two weeks. I figured it would be easiest to collect restaurant ideas in one convenient place, so I'll continue to update this blog post as I eat at more restaurants. To be honest, I'm not sure how much time we'll have...so many of my suggestions will likely include a lot of late-night dining, but I will do my best to present a well-rounded assortment of spots. (My co-workers support this plan).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

T is for: Turnip, Rutabaga & Carrot Soup

I know it doesn't sound like the sexiest of soups. But it's good. And it's comforting. And it's a great use of winter vegetables.

You can make it on the stove or you can make it in your slow cooker, but either way, you should make this soup soon.

When placing a recent CSA order, I noticed both rutabagas and turnips on the list of available vegetables. And then I noticed a soup recipe in their weekly email as a suggested use for them. I made a few adjustments and thought it turned out great, not to mention it was super easy to make.

The slightly sweet taste from the rutabagas and turnips were balanced out by everything else.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

T is for: Tasting Menu at Gary Danko {Restaurant Review}

From the minute I moved to San Francisco and started learning about the food scene, I heard the name Gary Danko quite often. It's pretty much hands-down considered the best restaurants in the city and one of the tops in the country.

I knew I would get there eventually, but dropping that much money on food requires a special occasion. Recently, an occasion arose that definitely had Gary Danko written all over it, and I was so excited to share it with my good friend Devon.

I was a little hesitant to whip out my iPhone camera at such a nice restaurant, but everyone there practically insisted. One of the things I quickly came to love about Gary Danko was that, for being such an upscale restaurant, the staff was not stuffy at all. They were accommodating, attentive, and most importantly, they were extremely personable and friendly.

Monday, February 13, 2012

T is for: Toasty French BLTs

OK, so this blog title is a stretch. Especially when the name of the recipe is something more along the lines of "French Toast BLT's" or "BLT French Toast." Oh well. I decided I couldn't wait until "B" or "F" week rolled back around. So forget about semantics and just focus on the sheer genius of this creation.

It's bacon. And french toast. What more do you need in a breakfast food? I had a few girls over for an impromptu brunch on Sunday and decided to make two types of French Toast. I made a sweet and a savory. The sweet was more of a traditional recipe with the addition of some Grand Marnier. (Why not, right?)

The savory was this amazing combination. It was inspired by none other than Martha Stewart of all people. But I tweaked the recipe a bit and cut the bread in half to make them more petite and irresistible.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

T is for: Toast Cups {heart shaped for Valentine's Day}

The third and final installment of my Valentine's Day breakfast ideas is the easiest one of all, and possibly my favorite. While I loved the heart shaped cinnamon rolls and the sourdough pancakes with strawberry maple butter, I much prefer savory over sweet when it comes to breakfast foods.

I've seen regular toast cups before, but as soon as I spied my heart-shaped silicone muffin pan in my cupboard (courtesy of Devon), I knew I had to try making them heart-shaped for Valentine's Day. They turned out exactly how I envisioned them!

While I've also seen the bacon fitted inside the pan similar to how you do the bread, I loved the "arrow" effect. It was as if Cupid was shooting his arrow right through my breakfast....and I immediately fell in love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

S is for: Satay {a Tailgate Special}

Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
I love Thai food. I love the spiciness, I love the flavors, and I especially love anything that comes with peanut sauce. For this reason, one of my favorite things to order at a Thai restaurant is chicken satay. It's marinated chicken served on skewers with a spicy peanut sauce.

Recently it occurred to me...this would be perfect for a tailgate! All you have to do is marinate your chicken the night before, and then in the morning thread the chicken on the skewers and transport it to the tailgate.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

S is for: Shucking Oysters at Drakes Bay

My dad is what you'd call a thrill seeker. He recently drove a NASCAR in Florida, and he went skydiving on a trip to visit me in San Diego years ago. Next on his bucket list is a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley. We attempted this last time he was visiting, but the trip was cancelled before we left San Francisco because of fog.

When he was here last week, we again scheduled the balloon ride. To do this, we have to be in Napa by 6:45 a.m. Let me say I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. But I will do anything for Dad. We called to double-check the weather situation before leaving, and it was all-systems go. Sadly, in the time it took to drive to wine country, the wind gusts were too strong and they once again had to cancel.

Damn. We're 0-for-2 on balloon rides.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

S is for: Simmer and Sear Cooking Class

The best part about being a self-taught chef is that I'm constantly learning new tricks and techniques. Whether it's trial and error, reading other food blogs or actually taking the initiative to sign up for a cooking class...I love learning more about food and how it's prepared.

Recently, I saw a Living Social coupon for half off a class in Russian Hill with Chef Anna Brincat at Simmer and Sear. She offers a variety of cooking class options, but this one happened to be an Italian cooking class taught in her apartment. (BTW....love her "EAT" sign on the wall).

Along with my friends Devon and Kim, we took a lunchtime class and made wild mushroom and chicken risotto with bruschetta. We were allowed to bring wine, and it was neat because you felt like you were being welcomed into a friend's home. I won't post the recipes or reveal *all* of her secrets, but I will share with you a couple of the helpful hints we picked up during our two-hour class.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

S is for: Sourdough Oatmeal Pancakes with Strawberry Maple Butter

Living in San Francisco, we are spoiled to have access to some of the best sourdough bread in the world. But what if you want to make your own sourdough creations?

First, you'll need a sourdough starter. My Aunt Candy was nice enough to bring her starter at Christmas and share it with me, my mom and my cousin. It's a starter that has been in our family for years, and she's kept hers alive when others have failed. The key to keeping it alive is to feed it regularly and use it at least once a month.

If you aren't fortunate to know someone with a starter, you can read about how to make one here, you can get a dried form of one for free here, or you can buy a live one online here.

The possibilities are endless...bread, biscuits, coffee cake...but for my first use of my starter, I opted for sourdough pancakes for my second installment of Valentine's Day Breakfast ideas.

Monday, February 6, 2012

S is for: State Bird Provisions {Restaurant Review}

One of the things I love about San Francisco is the sheer abundance of high-quality restaurants serving interesting and innovative food. New restaurants are constantly popping up, making it hard to keep up, but certainly fun to try.

One of my other favorite things about the city is the amount of friends I've made in my short time here, and I'm constantly adding to my friend groups.

Last week was a perfect example of both coming together as I tried out a new place on Fillmore Street with a group of new girlfriends. It's called State Bird Provisions, and the concept is to serve California cuisine in a dim-sum style atmosphere. It can be a little intimidating if you are indecisive like I am, but it's kind of cool to actually see what you're going to be eating before committing to it. They do have a few items that you order from your waiter, such as their signature dish, quail (the state bird of course), pictured above. Everything is also organic and local, and the menu is constantly changing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

R is for: Ruby Red{zone} Greyhound Jello Shots

Since I launched this blog in October of last year, I've learned a ton about food blogging, photography, recipe writing, and html code. I've also learned that people really love jello shots. Out of the 93 posts I've done, my top two in terms of page views (by a landslide) are the Jolly Jello Shots and the Lemon Peel Jello Shots. And coming in at number 4? ThPomegranate Rosé Jello Shots.

I figured Super Bowl was a great time to roll out another delicious alcohol drink in gelatin form. I thought long and hard about different variations...football shaped shots, referee striped shots, or red and blue shots to represent the two teams playing this weekend.

But in the end, I decided to go more for an interesting flavor combo, and something that you can continue to make long after the Super Bowl outcome has been decided. Greyhounds. Let me also say that I love Greyhounds. Nothing beats vodka with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. I've always liked them, but Lion Pub really sealed the deal for me. (Next time you go there, definitely order one).

Friday, February 3, 2012

R is for: Rangoon {a Tailgate Special}

If you're looking to score big with your friends on Super Bowl Sunday, ditch the traditional fare and go for something a little more outside the box.

This is a healthier twist on crab rangoon. Normally it's fried in oil, wonton style. Here, I baked wonton wrappers in the oven to cut down on the fat and calories and used shrimp to make them a little more budget friendly. Add in a little low-fat cream cheese, some pepper jelly sauce, and you've got a winning appetizer.

For more mini-sized Super Bowl recipes, check out my series of guest posts on HelloBrit.com. Super Slidersmuffin pan mania, and mini chips and dips!

(**UPDATE 1/1/13: Most of the Authentic Eats links on the website seem to be broken, so I'm posting the original recipe here).

R is for: Richmond {Restaurant Review}

I was so happy to have my dad, Dennis, in town visiting this week. My dad is a wheat farmer in Montana, so he's definitely a meat-and-potatoes type of guy.

I've had my eye on visiting The Richmond for quite some time. For some reason, it always comes up in my Yelp searches, and gets great reviews.

We walked into the restaurant on a Tuesday night without a reservation. The place is tiny...so definitely make one if you go. The staff seemed a little flustered when we walked in, but I think it was more of a product of them taking pride in their service and wanting to make sure we were adequately attended to during our meal.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

S is for: Super Bowl Snacks, Part III: Diminutive Dips

Chips and dips are a game-day staple...partly because they are easy to make and also because they are easily enjoyed. But a major party foul is a messy plate of double-dipped chips and dip. 

Why not ditch the messiness and make individual chips and dips all in one bite?!?

Seven Layer Dips are always the go-to at Super Bowl parties, but make them into a sure-fire touchdown by baking tortilla cups and filling them with the seven layer ingredients. Become the party's MVP with tri-color mini potato skins filled them with homemade French Onion Dip. And finally, lift that Lombardi trophy when you make my whole wheat pita cups with homemade hummus.

This is my third and final installment of Super Bowl Snacks, featured over on hellobrit.com. To get the step by step instructions, click here!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

R is for: Random Ravioli Thai Dumplings with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Sometimes I like to play this game where I'm only allowed to use what I have on hand in my kitchen to make a dish or a meal. I had some leftover wonton wrappers from my shrimp rangoon, and some stir fry vegetables in my freezer, so I started brainstorming ideas for ways to use them together.

What I came up with was somewhere between a ravioli, a dumping, a wonton and an egg roll...served up with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. 

Random, I know. 

But the verdict? Success! I actually really enjoyed the finished product and would totally make them again...possibly with fresh vegetables next time instead of frozen. (Cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, ground meat...the possibilities are endless). These would also make a great non-traditional treat for Super Bowl Sunday. 
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