Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Extended Weekend of Family Fun

Friday night we went to dinner at Il Fornaio after my son’s basketball practice. I had the Insalata Del Fornaio (mixed greens, garlic croutons and shaved Grana Padano, house vinaigrette):

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I also ordered the small portion of Tagliatelle alla Bolognese (pasta ribbons with traditional meat ragu and Grana Padano):

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Delicious!

Breakfast Saturday morning:

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We took my son to flag football practice then we all went to Sea World afterwards. We went with a group that my husband belongs to and they had set up a fabulous day for us. When we arrived, we were able to get up close with the dolphins.

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That was so much fun!! Definitely once in a lifetime. 

I was hungry and lunch wasn’t for awhile so I ate half of a hot dog.

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Eventually it was time for our group to meet for lunch. We ate at the “Dine with Shamu” restaurant. We enjoyed a buffet lunch.

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The best part was watching the killer whales up close!

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Such a fun day at Sea World. I hadn’t been in years!

We picked up Brett’s BBQ for dinner. I had a half rack of baby back ribs, sweet potato fries and cole slaw. 

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Sunday morning’s breakfast:

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Lunch was a turkey sandwich and some random chips that were in my pantry.

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I packed everyone up and we headed to Pelican Hill for a couple of days. The kids were off school today and Monday so we decided to go on a little vacation. My mom and some of Dave’s family joined us as well. 

Dinner Sunday night was at Javier’s. We shared guacamole:

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I had the carne asada tacos.

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Yum!!!

Monday morning we ordered room service for breakfast. I split a breakfast burrito with my husband.

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We enjoyed a beautiful day at the pool. My lunch was a cobb salad that was delicious.

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That night our whole group went to The Yard House for dinner. Our table shared Buffalo Hot Wings and Chicken Garlic Noodles to start. Both were pretty good.

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I decided to order the “Spicy Tuna Roll”. It was explained to me that it wasn’t like a standard roll, it was all stacked. 

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Too bad it was awful. SO salty. Ugh. I couldn’t eat it. Fortunately, they were nice enough to take it off the bill. Bleh.

This morning we did the room service thing again. I split Eggs Benedict with my mom. 

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We went back to the pool for a few hours. I ordered the fish tacos and sweet potato fries for lunch. 

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Excellent!

After lunch, we drove home. It’s back to normal life tomorrow!

 When was the last time you had to send something back at a restaurant?

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Friday, September 25, 2015

144.8...Risotto with Saffron, Quattro Formaggi and Grilled Pesto Shrimp

I had the most amazing risotto in cooking class last week. I knew I had to make it immediately! The recipe from cooking class included pesto shrimp but since my husband doesn’t eat seafood, I served it with pesto chicken. Below is the recipe with the pesto shrimp.

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Risotto with Saffron, Quattro Formaggi and Grilled Pesto Shrimp (Serves 4 to 6)

Recipe from Phillis Carey

Ingredients:

Shrimp:

1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce, divided use

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

12 to 18 extra-large shrimp, cleaned with tails left on

Risotto:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 cups chicken broth, simmering

Few threads of saffron

1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

1/3 cup diced fontina cheese

1/3 cup diced provolone cheese

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

1. For the shrimp, combine 1/4 cup pesto with lemon juice and garlic. Toss in shrimp, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove shrimp and thread on bamboo skewers which have been soaked in cold water for 20 minutes. While risotto is cooking, grill shrimp, 3 to 4 minutes per side or until just cooked through. Remove from skewers and toss with remaining 1/4 cup pesto.

2. For risotto, heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often until tender, 5 minutes. Add the rice and gently cook, stirring constantly until it is opaque, 2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed, lowering the heat as necessary.

3. Remove 1/2 cup hot broth and add the saffron; set aside to steep. Add 1 cup broth to the rice and stir constantly until most has been absorbed before adding the saffron broth. Stir until it is almost absorbed. Continue adding more broth, 1/2 cup at a time until rice is just cooked and creamy, about 20 minutes longer.

4. Remove risotto from heat and stir in the cheeses and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into shallow bowls and top with shrimp and a sprinkle of parsley; serve immediately.

Printable Recipe

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I found another use for the Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip. Last night I put the last of it on a salmon fillet and baked it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Insanely good.

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My favorite breakfast is still holding strong:

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I took the kids to school and had some time to kill before Zumba so I stopped at Starbucks. I decided to try the new Toasted Graham Latte.

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Delicious. It tastes like the holidays in a cup. I will say that it is a bit sweet for me so next time I’ll get it with an extra shot of espresso. 

Lunch was with some friends at Big Bang Sushi. Our standard Friday lunch. Miso soup:

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Chile Garlic Edamame:

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We shared tuna, yellowtail and salmon sushi:

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Plus the Marine Boy roll & Hot Night roll:

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 Now my Friday is complete.

My son has basketball practice tonight then we will grab some dinner and my weekend will begin! Happy Friday!

Have you ever made risotto? It’s quite an arm workout! Lol.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

143.8...Chocolate Chunk Blondies

I’m not sure if you will love me or hate me for what I’m about to share with you. You will love me because these Chocolate Chunk Blondies may be, quite possibly, the best thing you’ve ever put in your mouth. You will hate me because you can’t stop at one. You’ll will somehow manage to eat the entire pan without even knowing it. I apologize in advance. 

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Chocolate Chunk Blondies (Serves 12)

Recipe slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients:

 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (I left them out)

1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks, such as Nestle's

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 x 12 x -inch baking pan.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl after each addition. 

3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold in the walnuts (if using) and chocolate chunks with a rubber spatula.

4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake! The toothpick may have melted chocolate on it but it shouldn’t have wet batter. Cool completely in the pan and cut into 12 bars.

Note: I used a 13 x 9 baking pan. Mine was ready in 30 minutes but start checking at 25 minutes.

Printable Recipe

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Last night I went to a cooking class at the club in our neighborhood with Cathi and Alicia. The class focused on sauces and we watched the chef make Beurre Blanc, Bordelaise, Apple Jalapeño Chutney and Hollandaise Sauces. We enjoyed a meal that let us try each of the sauces. 

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Most of the sauces I was familiar with but the Bordelaise. Bordelaise sauce is a classic French sauce named after the Bordeaux region of France, which is famous for it’s wine. The sauce is made with dry red wine, butter shallots and demi-glace. Did you know that it takes TWO days to make demi-glace!?!

My breakfast this morning:

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After I took the kids to school, I went to Cardio Pilates class. Lunch was a Grilled Chicken Greek Salad at Marketplace Grill.

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I’m looking forward to a relaxing night at home watching football!

Have you ever made demi-glace?

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

144.2...Chipotle Potato Salad with Fresh Corn

If you’re bored of regular-old potato salad, let me kick it up a notch for you! Chipotle Potato Salad with Fresh Corn will renew your love for potato salad with it’s spicy kick and crunch from the fresh corn. Give it a try!

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Chipotle Potato Salad with Fresh Corn (Serves 6)

Recipe from Phillis Carey

Ingredients:

3 lbs. red potatoes, 1 inch diced

1 cup diced red onion

2 Tbsp. chopped pickled jalapeños

2 Tbsp. pickled jalapeno juice

1 cup diced celery

1 cup fresh corn kernels

3 hard cooked eggs, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

2 to 3 tsp. minced Chipotle chilies in adobo

2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Directions:

1. Place potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and add 1 tsp. salt. Simmer until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well and toss with red onion, pickled jalapeños and juice. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

2. Stir the celery, corn and eggs into potato salad. Stir together the mayonnaise with the chipotle chilies, cilantro and lime juice. Toss with the salad and chill until ready to serve and up to 8 hours.

Printable Recipe

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Last night’s dinner was leftover Chili Mac Soup and Buttermilk Cornbread

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Breakfast this morning:

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The kids don’t have school today so it was a nice relaxing morning not racing out the door.

I was a bit creative at lunch. I put leftover pesto on two slices of bread and added turkey slices, provolone cheese, tomato and red onion and grilled it. I had Chipotle Potato Salad with Fresh Corn to go with it.

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Great lunch!

Tonight I’m going to a cooking class with some friends! 

What do you like in your potato salad?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

144.4...Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip is, quite possibly, my new favorite dip. It tastes fabulous with pita chips, veggies or as a spread for burgers! Or you could just eat it with a spoon. 

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Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip (Serves 6 to 8)

Recipe from Phillis Carey

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese

1 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano plus more for garnish

Pita chips 

Directions:

1. Drop garlic into running food processor. Stop and add peppers, olive oil and cheese. Process until chunky-smooth. Pulse in oregano. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Top dip with a bit of oregano and serve with pita chips.

Printable Recipe

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I guess I’ve been on fire in the kitchen lately. No pun intended. Last night’s dinner was incredible. I made pesto chicken (just marinated chicken in pesto and grilled it), Risotto with Saffron & Quattro Formaggi (recipe coming) and asparagus. 

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I had the risotto in cooking class last week and had to make it ASAP! 

Breakfast this morning:

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I took the kids to school, then went to Cardio Strength class. I ran some errands then picked up the kids. They had half day at school so we went to lunch at Mia Francesca.  I ordered the Napoletana Pizza (arugula, cherry tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, provolone, shaved parmesan):

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It was pretty good. It was even better when I dipped each bite into my son’s marinara. :)

Are you a fan of white pizza or pizza with sauce?

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Monday, September 21, 2015

144.8...Chili Mac Soup

This weekend didn’t turn out well in terms of my two favorite football teams: San Diego Chargers and the USC Trojans. They both suffered a defeat and I, in turn, suffered. 

The part of my weekend that didn’t endure pain and suffering was in the food department. I enjoyed so many delicious eats and made some new recipes too! 

One of those new recipes was dinner on Saturday night. It was hot as hell out but I was craving chili and soup. I found a recipe for Chili Mac Soup that combined chili and soup into one bowl of deliciousness!

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Chili Mac Soup (Serves 6-8)

Recipe adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef or turkey

1 yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

Canola oil, for sautéing

1 Tbsp. chile powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

Cayenne pepper, optional, amount up to you

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 (14 oz.) can cannellini beans with juices

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth

12 oz. medium-size pasta shells

Shredded cheddar, for serving

Sour Cream, for serving

Green onions, chopped, for serving

Directions:

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Sauté the onion and green pepper for 3 minutes. Add the ground beef or turkey, crumbling it apart as it cooks.

2. When the onion and peppers are tender and the beef/turkey is cooked through, add all the herbs and spices including the salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.

3. Drain the grease, if any. Add the beans, tomatoes and broth to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste halfway through and season as needed, and again at the end.

4. Cook pasta separately according to package directions. Drain and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil. 

5. To serve, spoon pasta into bowl, ladle soup over top. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and onions.

*Note: can leave the chicken broth out and it will just be Chili Mac.

Printable Recipe

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Friday’s lunch was with some friends at Big Bang Sushi. My weekly sushi lunch started with miso soup and Chili Garlic Edamame.

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Tuna, yellowtail and salmon sushi:

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Alicia and I split the Albacore Delight and Marine Boy rolls:

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My husband and I went to see “Straight Outta Compton” Friday night. We loved it. You have to appreciate that kind of music and have enjoyed it back then to enjoy the movie I think.

We went to dinner afterwards at Davanti. I love that restaurant. One of the reasons is their Focaccia di Recco + Honeycomb (Ligurian style baked focaccia plus fresh soft cow cheese):

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This is carb heaven. 

The carb enjoyment continued on with Tagliatelle with Tomatoes:

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We had to add a bit of protein to our meal so we opted for the Pollo ‘Sole Mio’ (grilled half chicken, chili pepper paste, romaine salad):

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I was extremely happy when we left. Everything was perfect! I could have bathed in that chili pepper paste that was on the chicken.

Saturday morning’s breakfast:

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I went grocery shopping and started prepping for a barbecue with friends on Sunday. Lunch was a tuna sandwich and a salad. 

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As I mentioned earlier, I made Chili Mac Soup for dinner Saturday night. 

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I made my favorite Buttermilk Cornbread to go with it. 

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Sunday morning’s breakfast:

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I spent the morning prepping more barbecue stuff. Lunch was a turkey sandwich and a salad.

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Our friends Jessy, Renee and their kids came over to swim and have dinner. I made Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip (recipe coming) for an appetizer. 

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This was INSANE. SO good!!!!

The main event was Green Goddess Turkey Burgers with all the fixings.

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I made Chipotle Potato Salad with Fresh Corn (recipe coming) to go with the burgers. Another hit!

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I ended up putting some of the Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip on my turkey burger. So delicious. Renee brought over a fabulous black bean salad. I grilled some corn on the cob too but opted out…too much on my plate already.

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I also needed to save room for dessert:

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Chocolate Chunk Blondies. (recipe coming) OMG. You’re going to thank me when you make these. 

Great weekend of food for sure!!! This morning it was back to basics with my standard breakfast.

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I took the kids to school, then to spin class. I ran some errands at the mall, stopping at The Corner Bakery for lunch. I didn’t have my standard chopped salad and chili but instead opted for the half Chicken Pesto Sandwich and a cup of Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup.

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While it was good, I didn’t find it as filling as my regular order. :(  You win some….

What was the best thing you ate all weekend?

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