Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I left my heart in San Francisco

I didn't really leave my heart there, but I sure had a wonderful time visiting the city for the first time last weekend. Tom has been there a few times and has been wanting to plan a trip for a while. Friends of ours also wanted to go so we decided on a weekend and finally made it there.

Union Square
We stayed at the Chancellor Hotel which is right near Union Square. It was a nice hotel and close to everything we wanted to visit.

view from Top Of The Mark
We visited the Top of the Mark restaurant and bar on the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins hotel in Nob Hill. We had to climb straight UP those famous San Francisco hills to get there but the view was worth it.

Dream Girl and Passion Martinis at Top of the Mark
The martinis were worth it too! This place has pages and pages of martinis in their menu, it was so hard to decide. Tom got the 'Dream Girl' which was Stolichnaya Vodka, Grand Marnier, Lime Juice and Mint. Topped with Sparkling Kenwood Brut. I got the 'Passion' which was Plymouth Gin, Alize Red Passion Campari and Triple Sec. Both were delicious!

walking down
Luckily it was just a nice stroll down hill to get back to our hotel area.

Chips and Salsa at Jasmine
We had to stop for chips and salsa on the way at Jasmin's cafe. Tom is a salsa addict! It was really fresh and pretty spicy for me.

AT&T Park
Of course being baseball nerds we hit up AT&T park for the Giants and Cubs. The park is so much smaller than I thought it would be, Chase field in AZ makes it look downright tiny. The game was great but it was a little chilly for us AZ folks that are only used to 50 degree temperatures in winter.

Peanut Chicken
Later that night we got some Thai food at a place called Chabaa. This is peanut chicken and it was fabulous.

Dungeness Crab Melt at Buena Vista
The next day we went to the Buena Vista cafe where I got a dungeness crab melt. This was so good, and it was my first time having crab! I really liked it.

BLT at Buena Vista
Tom got a BLT, of course.

We did a lot of other cool things but the one place that really made my trip was our dinner at STRAW. This place is a carnival themed restaurant and is pretty unique.

Checking out the menu
You can see the sign on the door and the back of a Tilt A Whirl, which is actually one of the tables in the restaurant.

Creepy Carny sign
The sign is totally creepy, reminded me of something out of a Stephen King novel.

The Big Dipper
My friend's drink glass came lined with fundip. My drink was actually a big ball of cotton candy that they pour the drink over and it dissolves in the liquid. So fun!

Remember in the last post where I mentioned I am pretty open to trying most foods? Well when I saw the 'Ringmaster' on the menu I knew I had to get it. Here is the description "ground chuck burger/home-made glazed doughnut/cheddar cheese". Everything about that says ME.

the ringmaster
I will admit that I ate every single bite of that burger and it was delicious. Everything just worked together in some odd carnival dream world taste explosion. Fortunately we then walked straight up another San Francisco hill so I know I worked off at least a few bites of the donut at least.

It was an awesome trip with great friends and I would definitely recommend checking the city out if you ever have the chance.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mongolian Beef

I love recreating restaurant dishes at home because it is so much cheaper and you can really make it taste just how you want it to. Tom and I both like Mongolian Beef so I thought I would try this recipe I found on the Table For Two Blog. Head on over there to check out the recipe or follow my step by step photos.

The original recipe calls for green onion but I wanted more veggies so I added green pepper and onion. You also need beef, soy sauce, corn starch, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and some cooking oil. I am using rice bran oil.

Chop up your meat nice and thin. This ensures it will cook quickly and evenly.

Coat the beef with corn starch.

I found it easiest to do this with my hands. Once it is coated get it in the fridge for about 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the food.

Peel your ginger.

Mince it with a knife or your trusty microplane.

Mince the garlic as well.

Chop whatever veggies you are using.

Combine the soy sauce, water and brown sugar.

Saute the garlic and ginger in some oil.

Get it in with the soy sauce mixture and let it boil for about 2 minutes then set it aside.

Saute your vegetables.

Get them out of there.

Saute the beef. Don't over crowd the pan or you will end up steaming your beef.

Get the beef out on to a paper towel to drain.

Pour the soy sauce mixture into the frying pan and let it come to a boil.

Toss the meat back in and you will see the sauce start to thicken immediately from the corn starch. Once it is thickened up you are ready to eat. Plate it with some rice or noodles and enjoy.

Mongolian Beef
This is a fast way to get a tasty dinner on the table and brings you all the great flavors of Chinese take out for a lot less money.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Person Behind the Plate #5

I think that I am an adventurous eater and I have tried a lot of things that people give me funny looks about like beef cheeks and tripe. I tend to like pretty much all foods but I do have a few things that I just cannot stand.

1. Cilantro - this stuff is just nasty. It tastes like dish soap to me. I have read articles about how some people can taste the soap and to other people it is delicious. I had never had the stuff until I moved to AZ and found it was in a lot of the Mexican dishes. I hated it from the first time I tried it. I can tolerate a minimal amount in chimichurri or salsa, but that is it.

2. Bananas - this one is odd, I don't mind banana flavor, I just can't peel and eat a banana. Even the smell of a fresh peeled banana kind of makes me gag.

3. Black licorice - this is just a horrible flavor to me. I think its the medicinal aspect of it or perhaps an acquired taste.

And now that you know all about the things I don't like, I leave you with a photo of one of my favorite foods in the whole world...

In the grocery store!

Do you have a food or foods you really dislike?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Crunchy Chicken Fingers with Spicy Avocado

I have been on a big avocado kick this year and have been eating it at least once a week. I was looking through my Robin Miller cookbook and came across this quick and low fat recipe and knew I would have to give it a try.

From Robin Miller Quick Cookbook
I made this just for me as Tom still thinks chicken is totally gross.

Preheat your oven and gather some ingredients.
You will need some chicken, avocado, lime, bread crumbs, hot sauce, hot peppers, sour cream, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, thyme (I forgot it!), cilantro - if you are one of those people, salt and pepper.

Slice your chicken.

Combine your bread crumbs with the spices and the salt and pepper.

Dredge your chicken through the bread crumbs to get it evenly coated.

Drop the chicken on to pan coated with non stick spray or use the wonderful non-stick foil that I love. Get these guys in the oven for 20 minutes.

Chop up your peppers. I used some sport peppers and they were HOT!

Combine the avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, lime juice and hot peppers together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. If you are one of those cilantro eating people you can add that in at the end as well.

After 20 minutes get your chicken out. It didn't brown as much as I wanted but it was cooked through.

Crunchy Chicken Fingers with Spicy Avocado
Plate up the chicken with the avocado and enjoy! This sauce can be used with a bunch of different things and would be delicious on a turkey burger or fish tacos. The chicken was seasoned well and crunchy, but the sauce was definitely the star for me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Favorite Things #55 - Brown Rice and Sweet Potato Triscuits

I don't think I had ever even had a Triscuit before I started dating Tom, but he was a fan so I gave them a try. I have been hooked ever since. When their new red bean and sweet potato flavors came out I was hoping for something great to replace the retired cheddar Triscuits that I used to be in love with. Well, I have found a new cracker love...

Sorry Steve, no onion for dogs! #triscuits
This onion flavor is amazing and so addictive! You can see that Steve is super interested in them also, but lucky for me dogs can't have onions so I don't have to share.

Are you a Triscuit fan and have you tried these new flavors yet?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Food Network Magazine Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles

Summer in Scottsdale is not for the faint of heart. From June to October you can expect the high temperature to be over 100 pretty much everyday. That means I eat a lot of salads and things that do not heat up my kitchen. These cold noodles are spicy and come together with very little prep. Tom has actually been requesting noodle dishes and this one got a thumbs up!

This came from the Food Network Magazine and I didn't have to cut it in half, pretty exciting stuff. Get some water boiling and gather up some ingredients.

You need some carrots, noodles, brown sugar, peanuts, green tea, hot chili sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and some oil. You can top it with cilantro if you are super silly and eat that stuff.

boiling noodles
Toss the noodles in the boiling water. I used somen noodles and they cook in no time at all.

making the sauce
While the noodles cook assemble the rest of the ingredients in a blender or use a hand blender like I did.

sauce mixed
Blend it up until it is a smooth sauce.

drained noodles
Drain the noodles and get them in a bowl.

Stir in the carrots and the sauce
Add in the carrots and sauce and give it a good stir.

Refrigerate for an hour
This is the hardest part of the whole recipe, waiting! Put the noodles in the fridge and let them cool for about an hour.

Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles
After an hour or whenever your noodles cool plate them up with some peanuts and nasty cilantro if you want it. I used some green onions instead.

This was spicy and filling and Tom added this to his list of foods he would definitely eat again. I am turning that guy around one dish at a time.