Thursday, August 30, 2012

V is for: Victor's {Restaurant Review}

If either my friend Devon or I are ever having a bad day, we almost always go to Victor’s. And not necessarily for the food.

Sure, it’s decent as far as Mexican joints go, but we go there because you leave the place feeling like a million bucks. The minute you walk in the door, the friendly lady running the place yells out “HOLA GUAPAS!!” (For those of you who didn’t make it through first year Spanish, guapa means “good looking.”)

I suppose we shouldn’t feel that special, as *everyone* is guapa or guapo at Victor’s. But she says it with such enthusiasm, you can’t help but smile. It instantly puts me in a good mood.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

V is for: Veggie Fries {baked} with Sriracha Mayo

Remember the avocado fries I made a few months back?

Well, in the span of five months, they have become the most popular post on the blog, nearing 20K page views and recently exceeding even my jello shots if you can believe that.

So when Brit.co asked me to come up with a healthy take on a traditionally unhealthy recipe, I decided another version of these fries needed to make a comeback.

It's the same breading of panko, pine nuts and Parmesan, but instead of avocados, I used a combo of zucchini, green beans and asparagus. I whipped up a quick Sriracha Mayo to serve as a dipping sauce and was instantly reminded of why those avo fries are so popular. You've got to give 'em a try. Great use of garden veggies and a nice healthy alternative to their potato cousins. Click here to get step by step instructions.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

U is for: Umami Burger {Restaurant Review}

So I'm really bad at making decisions. Like, horrible. Everything from big decisions such as choosing an apartment, to little decisions such as deciding what I want to eat at a new restaurant.

So when someone on Twitter recently asked me about my favorite place to get a burger in San Francisco, I couldn't pick just one. I suggested Marlowe, NOPA, and Mission Bowling Club. Not quite cracking the top 3, but definitely my new addition to the list: Umami Burger on Union Street in San Francisco.

If you're thinking to yourself, "I thought that was an L.A. thing?" You're kind of right. They have a ton of locations in the Los Angeles area, but this is the first in Northern California.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

U is for: Upside Down Cake Jello Shots

You know what else U stands for? 

UNFETTERED FUN.

Seriously.

How can you look at these jello shots and NOT instantly be in a good mood? It makes you think of tropical vacations and sun and smiles and just general happiness.

I came up with this idea as I was brainstorming ideas for “U week.” As you can imagine, the options are limited. Last time through the alphabet, U week was one of the weeks I was in Arizona. Devon did gluten free udon noodles for me and Kim did her own creative twist on upside down cake.

I decided to resurrect upside down cake in jello shot form. Because, when in doubt, just make a jello shot.

Monday, August 20, 2012

T is for: Tomato Salad with Heirlooms, Basil, Capers & Mozzarella

Originally, I had no intentions of posting another "T" recipe. After all, "U week" technically started on Sunday. But I was so inspired by these gorgeous tomatoes I just had to share it with everyone. What can I say? Heirloom tomatoes make me want to break the rules. Can you blame me?

I'll be honest. I don't know much about Heirloom tomatoes beyond the fact that I think they look cool and they taste good. (And they are expensive...I paid $3.99 per pound for these at Whole Foods). I decided I needed to be more educated about them in order to properly share them with you.

A google search produced lengthy explanations about open pollination and seeds. I'm no gardener (although I'd like to be someday), so this mostly flew over my head. Fortunately, I found a pretty layman explanation on The Life in Green blog, which described them this way:

"Simply put an heirloom is a variety of plant (tomato, melon, lettuce etc.) that has been saved and passed from one generation to the next. There may be other criteria that lends one to being an heirloom, such as how many generations a variety has been saved, but leave that to the heirloom aficionados. Let’s keep it simple here, k?"

Thanks Lisa, I couldn't agree more.

T is for: Tropisueño {Restaurant Review} {Guest Post}

Today, I'm excited to turn the blog over to my friend and co-worker, Brodie Brazil. Brodie's "cube" at work is right next to mine, and when we're both actually in the office at the same time, we often talk about food. If you've seen his tweets on the subject, you know that the extent of his cooking skills includes PB&J. But what he lacks in the kitchen, he makes up for in his writing. So when he enthusiastically asked if he could write about his favorite restaurants, I of course happily obliged. Thanks Brodie!
~~~~~
By nature, I am a lazy eater. My decisions for lunch or dinner are often based on how fast I can get food from my hands to my stomach, instead of the prospective quality of the meal itself.  Make a chicken dish in 30 minutes, or make a Salami sandwich in 30 seconds?  I'm sorry Jaymee Sire, but my choice is that simple 99% of the time. I am not particularly proud of this trait, which I thoroughly blame on the rushed nature of my profession.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

T is for: The Hunger Games {Basil Wrapped Goat Cheese Bites}

When I get really into a set of books, I can't put them down. I get sucked in, and I keep reading day or night until I'm finished. I did it with Twilight, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 50 Shades of Grey, and of course, The Hunger Games.

Since The Hunger Games movie is available On Demand starting today, I was excited to partner with On Demand Weekly once again to bring you an easy little appetizer.

If you've read the books, you know that food is a central theme. (It is the Hunger Games after all). I considered attempting the lamb stew with dried plums or even roasted rabbit or groosling soup. In the end, simplicity won out and I did my own spin on Prim's gift to Katniss on Reaping Day...goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves. Happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favor! Click here to get the step-by-step instructions.

Friday, August 17, 2012

T is for: Tomatillo Avocado Salsa with Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

I'm definitely a chips and salsa girl. (Who isn't?)

But seriously, when I go to a Mexican restaurant, I can't stop my hand from constantly reaching for the chip basket and dunking it in whatever salsa is on the table. And if there is queso or guacamole involved? Forgetaboutit. I end up eating so much that by the time my actual entree comes out, I'm already full.

One of my favorite types of salsa is the spicy green kind. It's made from tomatillos with some jalapeno for a little kick. I've never actually worked with tomatillos before this post, and I can't believe I hadn't. They are way easier than they look and they are delicious.

And since I also love guacamole, I decided to combine some avocados with my spicy tomatillo salsa for a creamy take on a Mexican classic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

T is for: Tony's Pizza Napoletana {Restaurant Review}

Overall, my memories of Naples pale in comparison to the rest of my Italian travels. It was 2002, and I had finished up my study abroad program in Barcelona. Afterwards, I traveled for six weeks, hitting up the South of France, most of Italy, the Greek Islands, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Paris, and the Netherlands.

Like pretty much anyone who has visited Italy, I fell in love. I stuffed my face with pizza, pasta and gelato. I got lost in ancient ruins and met some amazing people. I saw Cinque Terre, Florence, Sienna, Venice, Rome, Positano, Ischia, and Pompei.

We passed through Naples on our way to the Amalfi Coast. I remember one of the girls getting accosted in the train station, and I recall it being dirtier than the other parts of Italy I visited.

But the highlight of our short time in Napoli…the pizza.

Friday, August 10, 2012

S is for: Sriracha Shrimp Cocktail

One of my favorite Twitter threads recently was when I tweeted this: "Sriracha + ranch dressing = Mind. Blown." I really was just so excited to share my new revelation with the world. I had no idea it would elicit the sort of response that it did. Replies came pouring in about everyone's favorite use for the spicy condiment.

Sriracha mayo, Sriracha on nachos, Sriracha on eggs, Sriracha meatloaf, and one of my favorites: Sriracha ketchup. (And did you know there's even a Sriracha cookbook?!) So when "S week" rolled back around I knew I had to do something with the beloved "Rooster Sauce."

Since I'm already a fan of mixing it with ketchup, cocktail sauce seemed like a genius idea. I also incorporated it into the seasoning for the shrimp as well...creating a spicy new twist on the popular appetizer.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

S is for: Sushi Zone {Restaurant Review}

As I was sitting at work on Tuesday night, a reminder popped up on my phone for the next day: "Sushi with Sachi."

Sachi and I made these plans the previous week after indulging in a few adult beverages, so I sent her a text asking if we were still on. She immediately responded: "Most definitely still on. 5PM, table for two."

I haven't known Sachi too long, but this is precisely why I love the girl. She's up for anything. A sushi outing at 4:45 in the afternoon with someone she barely knows? Sign her up.

Let me also say that Sushi Zone has been on my "list" for ages. And considering my gripe about the lack of abundant sushi restaurants in this town, I can't believe it's taken me this long to try it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

S is for: Strawberry Balsamic Rosemary Ice Cream

Before you scrunch your nose up questioning this combination of flavors, hear me out. This is the best strawberry ice cream you'll ever have. Hands down. For those of you who have had the pleasure of sampling the balsamic strawberry ice cream at Bi-Rite in San Francisco, you probably don't need much convincing.

The balsamic is subtle, and it really brings out the bright flavor of the strawberries. As for the rosemary, that was a last-minute add, and I feel like it really stepped up this ice cream's game. I'm already a fan of using fresh herbs along with fruit in desserts. My first thought was actually to use basil, but I already had some rosemary on hand after making the Rosemary Chicken Salad last week, so I decided to use that instead. Don't worry, you won't be crunching down on actual rosemary. Instead, I infused the herb into the custard base, creating an ever-so-slight-but-delightful rosemary finish.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

R is for: Rosemary Chicken Salad Cups

My original plan was to share with you one of my favorite summer recipes for grilling chicken. But here's the thing. It's not my recipe. I found it on one of the very first food blogs I ever started reading, Kalyn's Kitchen. I discovered her site when I did the South Beach Diet years ago and I still like to get her updates.

Anyways, it's a recipe that calls for a marinade of Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and rosemary (among a few other things). I love it. Like many recipes, I have altered it over the years to suit my tastes. For example, I started using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, I often omit the celery seed if I don't have any and I sometimes add a little honey. You should totally check it out.

But this recipe is not for the Rosemary Dijon Chicken....it's for a *chicken salad* you can make with the leftovers (or with any leftover chicken for that matter), and more importantly it includes an adorable way of displaying it.
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