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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Practice Thanksgiving

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This year for the first time ever Bob and I will be hosting Thanksgiving at our house.  We're only having a small gathering but we decided it would be in everyone's best interest to do a trial run to make sure that a) I could properly cook a turkey, and b) that we approved of the menu.  Good news, Practice Thanksgiving was a HUGE success!  Now we can prepare for the real deal.  

I'm pretty sure that Practice Thanksgiving will now be an annual event because really, why not?  It was awesome and I feel like a Thanksgiving pro now.  To wet your whistle, and get you in the turkey-eating spirit I've collected our foods so you can decide if you too want to dine like we did.

We enjoyed: savory crock pot turkey, spicy crock pot turkey, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, green bean casserole, cornmeal stuffing muffins and a nice heirloom tomato salad.  We ended up having a small party of 5 and I managed to not super over cook!  Amazing!  I cooked everything except dessert.  Our awesome friend Staci brought Paula Dean's pumpkin cake, it was really really good.

Okay so here's how I did it:

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Turkey! (Savory and Spicy)

What you'll need:

Savory Turkey

1 turkey breast

1 packet of onion soup mix

Chicken broth

Chopped onions



Spicy Turkey

1 turkey breast

habenaro sauce

lemon/herb/pepper spice mixture

Chicken broth

Chopped onions


We bought two turkey breasts (because that's the best part in our opinion) and decided to cook them in the crock pot so that I could still use the oven for other things.  Each turkey breast (bone in) was about 2.5 lbs.   Each turkey breast was prepared roughly the same way, slap some butter on the sides of our crock pot, put about a half an inch of chicken broth in the bottom of the pot.  Rub the onion soup mix, or habanero spice mix on the turkey great.  Rub it in real good, and under the skin for extra flavorful awesomeness.  Place the turkey breast in the crock pot and toss your chopped onions of the top.  Place the lid on your crock pot and cook for 1 hour on high, and then 7 more hours on low.  I ended up cooking our turkey breast for about 10 hours and the meat pretty much fell right off the bones.

Sweet potato casserole:

I used the Food Network's recipe for the sweet potato casserole.  I followed it loosely, using less brown sugar and more pecans.

Green bean casserole:

Again, not my recipe, I used the Campbell's Green Bean Casserole recipe.  It's a golden standard as far as I'm concerned and goes with just about everything.  I tried using the recipe on the back of French's Fried Onions once, and it wasn't the same, the soy sauce makes all the difference.

Cornmeal Stuffing Muffins:

I read about how you could make stuffing muffins in an issue of the Rachel Ray magazine and figured I could that, and I did.  Her original recipe has you making everything from scratch and I was not up for that.  I like cheating.  To make cornmeal stuffing muffins you'll need:

1 box of cornmeal stuffing (I bought Mrs. Cubbison's)

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4 stalks of celery diced

Half and onion chopped finely

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

2 cups -ish vegetable broth


In a gigantic skillet sauté the onions, garlic, and celery.  Add the cornmeal stuffing, and slowly poor in the vegetable broth to mush it together.  Let cool a little bit, roll in balls and put in a muffin tin.  Bake them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and then stuff them in your face with or with out gravy.  It's up to you.

Heirloom Tomato Salad:

Spinach leaves (1 cup per person)

Heirloom tomato (about 1/4 per person-ish)

Avocado (1/4 per person)

Parmesan cheese

Balsamic vinegar

Toss everything in a bowl and serve!  Add some pepper for a little kick.


Serve your meal with your favorite wines and then enjoy the fruits of your labor.  I high recommend making the casseroles in advance, it makes things sooo much easier.  And whatever you do, don't forget to set your table, this is a classy affair!



Friday, November 2, 2012

Din Tai Fung Dumplings!

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On our recent trip to Taipei and Hong Kong, Bob and I rediscovered our love for this Taiwanese chain, Din Tai Fung.  We'd forgotten how amazingly delicious their xialongbao was, but don't worry, we ate there three times in our 8 day trip so we got plenty of dumplings.  

We tried the original pork xiaolongbao (tiny soup dumplings), chicken dumplings, and a crab and roe combo.  Our favorite is definitely the original pork dumplings, they're just perfect and mouth-wateringly delicious.  In later trips to the restaurant we'd only order these dumplings as they're our favorite and we wanted to stuff ourselves with as many as we possibly could.

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To go with our pork dumplings we also ordered some greens.  (One thing I really love about Asia in general is the huge assortment of vegetables that are available, as well as all the different ways these vegetables can be prepared.)  So we ordered the cucumbers in chili-vinegar sauce, yum!  And water spinach sautéed with garlic.

We thought about ordering more "healthy" options, but ended up just stuffing our faces with the dumplings.  Who were we kidding, porky- meaty delicious dumplings were what we really wanted.

We only had to wait for a table for a little amount of time, as this place is super efficient.  All the wait staff is really helpful and friendly, and a friend of ours told us that in order to work there you must speak at least two languages to assist customers.  I never lacked for my tea to be refilled, and they brought out a covering for my purse so it wouldn't get grease on it.  Great service and delicious food, really it's a dream come true.

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The other great thing about Din Tai Fung is that if you're not familiar with eating xiaolongbao they have these cute little instruction cards that they place on all the tables so you can figure it out.  Bob and I like to dip our dumplings in vinegar with a little bit of ginger with each bite.  Heavenly!  

And finally, because we're of course in Asia it's ridiculously cheap.  We spent $30USD for lunch and we each ate 10 pork dumplings, split cucumbers and water spinach and enjoyed 6 dessert bao, stuffed with taro and red bean.  We were completely satisfied customers.  

There are a few US locations of Din Tai Fung, and I plan on always eating dumplings if I'm ever in a city that this restaurant exists.  If you've never been before I suggest you add it to your list of great eats!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Fondue Cowboy - Fondue Deliciousness in San Francisco's SOMA

I'd heard about Fondue Cowboy opening up in the city, and as soon as the word fondue was mentioned I knew I'd have to eat there.  I just can't understand why it took me so long.  (I do know, it's because sometimes when you want to go eat and that place isn't far away you still think it is because you live on huge hill in SF and don't want to walk home after a giant meal of cheese.)  Anyway, I finally made it to Fondue Cowboy and I'm pleased to announce it was everything I hoped for and more.

Now, before you "Melting Pot" lovers jump out of your seats and head to Fondue Cowboy let me first tell you that their menu is limited.  This to me is not necessarily a bad thing.  I see a limited menu as a way to show patrons the restaurant is focusing on making a few items awesome rather than many items okay.  There are five cheesy fondue choices and three chocolatey delicious dessert choices.  There are not hot oil, boiling meat choices - go for shabu shabu if you want that.  The other issue I'd like to go ahead and nip in the bud, is the complaint I saw on Yelp about how the portions are small.  Do you really need to be eating more than 5oz of cheese in one meal?  I thought not.

Okay, onto my awesome evening...

I made reservations on OpenTable just in case the place was super hoppin' on a Wednesday night.  Bob and I met up with Jay and Staci for a long-time-no-see dinner, so of course we ended up order two bottles of cabernet throughout dinner, delish.  We ordered two cheese fondues for the table: The Outlaw (Aged Cheddar, Beer, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Roasted Jalapeno, Cilantro) and The Rawhide (Italian Dolce Gorgonzola, Emmenthaler, White Wine, Bacon, Roasted Garlic).  Both fondues were good, but the Rawhide definitely stood out in my mind because of how rich and creamy it was, plus there was bacon.  Each cheese fondue arrives with dippers like: bread, potatoes, broccoli, olives, granny smith apples and gherkins.  We went all out and also ordered the cured meats plate (comes with honeydew and cantaloupe), the tenderloin plate, and the sausage plate.  It was a meat and cheese extravaganza at our table. 

I thought all the dippers for the cheese fondue were great, but I was especially glad we ordered the sausage plate because that night it was Louisiana Hot Links.  The combination of the hot links with the Rawhide was heavenly, the perfect complements.  

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After we'd devoured all our food, and painstakingly scrapped the bottom of the fondue pots to soak up every last bit of cheese, it was time for dessert.  We went with the Happy Trails (Dark Chocolate with Cayenne).  The dessert fondues come with strawberries, kiwi, banana, pineapple, brownie chunks, marshmallows, and spongy-bready-cookie things.  The one dessert pot was perfect for us, and a couple of us enjoyed a nice French Press coffee to go with our dessert.  

Total came out to about $200, and about $100 of it was the wine, so really we're looking at about $25 a person for delicious cheesy, meaty, chocolatey fondue.  The place is cute and intimate, and the service was great.  I had an overall wonderful evening and can hardly wait to return!

Say giddy-up cowboy and gallop over now!


Garlic Chicken with butternut squash and greek salad

I've spoken about it before and I'll do it again, I'm trying to eat healthier.  This dinner is delicious and only (according to 440 calories.  

What you'll need:

1 4oz chicken breast per person

1/4 cup onion chopped

2-3 garlic cloves chopped chunky

2 tsps butter

5oz of butternut squash per person

1 cucumber

1 tomato

Crumbled Goat Cheese

1/2 tsp olive oil


Angelo's Gourmet Seasoning

2 tsps Habanero sauce, or some other kind of spicy sauce (I personally like Mateo Granados' Ahumado)

2 oven safe baking dishes

Aluminum foil

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Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees while you prep your food.  First use 1tsp of butter to grease each baking dish. Coat your chicken breasts in the habanero sauce and Angelo's Gourmet Seasoning.  (I like to use a sandwich bag to do this, so I can rub the chicken really good with the sauce and seasoning.  Place the chicken in one baking dish and cover with chopped onions and garlic.  Put your butternut squash chunks (I'm lazy and buy mine pre-cut at the store) in the other backing dish.  Cover both baking dishes and place them in the oven for 1 hour.

Clean up your work area.

45 minutes later, or 15 minutes until your chicken and butternut squash is done chop up your cucumber and tomato.  Place both in a bowl (together) and add oregano and pepper.  Cover with your olive oil and some goat cheese and then toss it around so everything is nicely coated.  Clean up your work area again, and voila everything is ready for dinner and your kitchen is clean.

I love baking things in the over with garlic and onions, it's always delicious and moist.  Enjoy your dinner!







Thursday, October 4, 2012

Spicy Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

I love pumpkins, they're delicious and apparently a "super food."  I want to have more pumpkin in my life, so rather than bake a pie or make soup I decided I needed pumpkin muffins.  While perusing the internets for pumpkin muffin recipes I found an excellent recipe that required very little work on my part, which is always a bonus.  "Easy Pumpkin Muffins" is a great starter recipe, but I felt like I could better.

The original recipe tells you to use a package or yellow cake mix.  Meh, that's okay if you want boring pumpkin muffins.  I saw someone had commented saying they'd used a spice cake mix and it turned out great and that got me thinking, I could do anything and so I did.  I bought the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cake & Cookie Mix and used it, along with a can of 100% pumpkin puree, a fair amount of cinnamon, and a dash of Ghost Pepper Powder to kick these muffins into deliciousness!  Oh man, they are really good.  I'm eating one right now, and I'm quite pleased.  The ghost pepper adds excellent kick, but not too much.  The only thing that would make them better would be to add some candied walnuts on top.  My next batch will be chocolate pumpkin with cayenne pepper.

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You know you want them, and now you know they're super easy to make, so what are you waiting for? Do it!!!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mandu - Korean Food - DC

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My friend Holly originally introduced me to Mandu when I was living in DC.  I have a great love for Korean food, especially bibimbap, it's delicious.

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What is bibimbap you ask?  Well I'm glad you did, because you're going to want to run out to your closest Korean  restaurant and try it out.  Bibimbap is a bowl of rice with veggies, beef, and a raw egg cracked on top.  The dish is served with a hot sauce that you pour over the top and then stir everything around.  The hot food helps to cook the egg as you stir it around creating a kind of fried rice like dish.  

What I love about Mandu is that I can get a Dolsot Bibimbap which means they serve my bibimbap in a hot stone bowl.  IMG 1233This means that my rice is getting crispy on the bottom and it typically keeps everything a lot warmer for the entire time you're enjoying your meal.  You also get a side of a collection of Korean appetizers, accompaniments to your meal like: kimchee, spicy zucchini, bean sprouts, and a potato/bean combo.  The kimchee at Mandu is pretty good, not as spicy as I would have liked, but still delicious.

The restaurant is small, with a few tables outside so you can enjoy the weather when it's great.  (It was really hot and muggy while I was in DC, so I sat inside with the AC.)  The service is good, and the price is reasonable.  

If you're going to be up near Dupont Circle in DC you should definitely check out Mandu.  Get everything extra spicy, it'll clear your sinuses.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Eating Better, Pedometers and the all amazing FitDesk

So, in case you haven't noticed yet, I've been trying to eat better.  And by better I just mean that I'm not stuffing myself until I'm so full that I need to take a nap to recover from the amount of food I've consumed.  (Although I still can't help myself when it comes to Indian food - I absolutely must always eat the entire garlic naan, it's too good to waste.)  Anyway, the point is I'm eating proportionally-ish, so I've been using a food diary, MyFitnessPal.  

I'm not trying to lose weight per-sey, but I could definitely stand to fit into some of my clothes that are becoming a bit snug.  I bring this up because I looked at a couple of different options when it came to recording my daily intake of food.  I tried out the WeightWatchers app, but to be honest I found it rather confusing and not very user friendly.  A points system doesn't make sense to me, especially when I cook at home a lot and need to add my own recipes.  I also checked out the food diary on my FitBit (more on the actual FitBit later).  The FitBit has a nice selection of foods, but doesn't quite have everything I need.  I've found that MyFitnessPal is easy to use on both my iPhone and in a browser, has a large database of food, and has an easy to add food item option.  Not to mention I can store and save my recipes which is super handy.  You can also use the app offline, and it'll sync everything the next time you have an internet connection.  I'm currently using the "lose a pound a week" option on MyFitnessPal, but you can use it to maintain or to watch your intake of carbs, fats, etc.  I'm mostly using it to stay within a normal calorie range.

To go with MyFitnessPal I purchased a nice little food scale.  It's just little and only measures up to about 12 pounds.  It's got multiple measurement options, and is about the size of small plate.  It's battery operated, and super easy to use.  I've been measuring out my healthy snacks, and all my recipes ingredients.  Having the food scale has also shown me what supposedly normal portions look like - I don't know about you but this has always been a mystery for me.  I've read that your fist is roughly the size of what you'd want as far as meat/poultry goes, but everyone has different sized fists, what if mine are abnormally large or small?  I bought the Ozeri Pro Digital Scale on Amazon.

And finally, I have a FitBit. It's a little pedometer thing that tracks your steps, distance, stairs you've walked and the calories you've burnt.  There's also this "active" number but to be honest I'm not really sure what that is and I don't use it for anything.  I did some research and while the FitBit is not 100% accurate it gives me a good idea of how active I've been.  It unfortunately does not track bike riding, but there is a handy little timer on it so you can record how long you performed and activity and then add it later.  Both the iPhone app and the online system work great.  There's a number of activities already in the database so I can easily ride my stationary bike for an hour and plug in my activity.  AND the FitBit syncs with MyFitnessPal which is awesome because it'll let me know if I've burned extra calories so I can eat more! (Or not, but typically I go ahead and eat more.)  The FitBit comes with a usb dock that you hook up to your laptop and every time you're within about 10ft it will automatically sync, you can also use the little dock to charge your FitBit.  In my experience the FitBit can go for about 5 to 6 days with out being charged.  

Lastly, Bob bought me an awesome stationary bike.  It's called the FitDesk.  And as ridiculous as it sounds and looks, it's pretty awesome. I've used my laptop while riding a couple of times, but really it's just a nice quiet stationary bike.  I have used the desk bit to hold my knitting while I work on it.  It's easy to wheel around in the house and folds up flat.  I will sometimes move the FitDesk out to the back porch and look out at the city while I enjoy a little ride.  Before you say anything, yes, I know I could just ride my bike, but (and honestly I'm a total wuss about this) there are hills everywhere!  I love riding my bike, but just thinking about having to go home up the gigantic hill in front of my house makes me want to take a nap.  The FitDesk is great because I can ride it any time, day or night, and it has an adjustable pressure gauge to make me work harder.  The distance counter that came with it doesn't work, but I haven't tried to fix it because really as long as I'm using the FitDesk I feel like I'm doing pretty good.  (You can check out an awesome video of my sister showing off the FitDesk here.)

There you have it, it's not a huge step towards living a healthy life, but it's something.

If anyone is wondering, I kicked off my health extravaganza with a lovely bout of food poisoning.  On our last night in Moscow Bob and I ate at the Hotel National on Red Square and the next morning was wretched.  We were sick for a week and I lost 7 pounds.  I figured it was a good way to kick-start me being in better shape and eating like a normal person.  It also helped that some of my pants fit me better. 


Drawings of Food: CROISSAN'WICH

I could really go for a somewhat nasty Croissan'Wich from Burger King. The website says it has creamy, American cheese. That's what I look for in a good cheese.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Drawings of Food: Hamachi

My buddy Kevin Lee sent me a picture of a large sashimi plate to draw. I decided to draw the part I really cared about. I'm really wanting some hamachi right now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spicy Veggie Scramble - It's What's for Breakfast

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I'm growing yellow squash and lettuce in my backyard, in a large barrel.  And my first squash of the season was ready and waiting to be eaten yesterday, so I obliged and cooked it up real good.  Now before anyone thinks I came up with the idea to put squash in my scramble all by myself, I'm sorry but you're mistaken.  I had a delicious omelet at Beretta with zucchini and squash in it, and have been thinking about making one at home for quite a while.  While this is not the same recipe, it's pretty damn delish. (That's me with my squash on the left.)



1/2 cup thinly sliced squash, or zucchini

1/4 cup diced onion

Garlic (as much or as little as you'd like)

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup diced tomato

1/4 cup shredded cheese

1 large egg

2 eggs worth of egg whites (I use Lucerne 100% liquid egg whites)

1 tbsp half and half (or milk, or whatever you like to make your scramble fluffy)

Habenaro Sauce (or whatever hot sauce you like, as much as you'd like)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 tbsp butter

Okay, so go ahead and get all your veggies sliced up, I recommend starting with the squash, onion and garlic.  Turn your skillet on to low and butter it up with your 1/2 tbsp of butter and toss in your squash, with a little salt and pepper.  After about 5 minutes add the garlic and the onion and stir everything around.

In a bowl mix your egg, egg whites and half and half together.  

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Once your garlic and onion start to look a little translucent toss in the mushrooms.  Give the mushrooms a minute or two to get nice and warm and then add the egg mixture.  

Let the scramble start to form and then add the cheese, tomatoes and Habenaro Sauce.  Cook until it's ready to eat and then enjoy your spoils.

I was quite pleased with my scramble.  It was very flavorful and delicious, the only thing I would have changed would have been to add more habenaro sauce.  Oh well, there's always next time.

This breakfast was approximately 368 calories.  And you can of course not use cheese or half and half to make this even healthier, but really then it wouldn't be as good.



Spicy Shrimp and Broccoli

I'd like to just say that every time I eat shrimp I love them more and more.  Really, it's absurd how much I like shrimp.  Okay, now that my love for those little sea creatures are out of the way….

Spicy Shrimp and Broccoli-

For some reason I've felt compelled to always have about four different dishes per home cooked meal.  Main dish, salad, veggie, some kind of extra whatever - like garlic bread or something.  But I've realized that this is really rather silly and just results in my having to use more cookware than I'd like to clean.  So I present to you a one wok/pan meal.  (Portions are based on my eating habits, with extra info about this at the bottom of the recipe.)


Shrimp - 1lb (uncooked, shelled)

Broccoli - 1 to 1 1/2 bunch

Spicy red pepper - 1

Garlic - 1 clove

Onion - 1/4 cup 

Chili Garlic Sauce - 3 tbsp

Olive Oil - 1 tbsp

I like using a large deep skillet for this meal.  (You can really use whatever you'd like, I just suggest that whatever you use have a top.)

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Step one - Wash and chop up broccoli.  Put in the skillet and pour a half cup of water over the top of the broccoli.   Add the 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Salt and pepper the way you'd like, and then stir the broccoli around to get everything coated.  Place the lid on the skillet and turn on low heat.

Step two - While your broccoli is getting soft, you can chop up your garlic, onion and red pepper.  I like to dice up the garlic and onion so it's nice and small but really it's up to you as to how large you'd like your onion and garlic chunks.  I like to slice the red pepper into long pieces, almost like shreds.  I leave the seeds in the red pepper because that's where the spice is, and if you like spice you'll want the seeds.

Step three - After your broccoli has been simmering for about 15 minutes go ahead and add your chopped onion, garlic and red pepper.  Toss in 2 tbsp of the chili garlic sauce and stir everything around.  Place the lid back on the skillet, still on low heat.

Step four - Wash your shrimp.  Ten minutes after you've added your onions, garlic and red pepper you can add your shrimp.  I like to clear a spot in the middle of the skillet and dump the shrimp in, then I toss in one more tbsp of the chili garlic sauce and stir the shrimp around.  After the shrimp get a little color go ahead and stir all the ingredients in the skillet together.  You can turn up the heat a little if you'd like, it'll help crisp your broccoli.

Step five - EAT!

You can of course have your Spicy Shrimp and Broccoli with rice, and I often do, but you can also eat it just as it is, and it's damn delish.

Typically Bob and I will split this mean into two servings, but really you could feed 3 people with the amount of ingredients if you weren't super hungry.  According to my food/nutrition journal this meal (split three ways) is approximately 350 calories.  

I honestly don't know how I forgot to take a picture of the final product.  You'll just have to trust that it looks good.


Drawings of Food: Corn Dog

I like corn dogs.

Monday, July 23, 2012


My friend Erica Jones put up a picture of a BLT she had for dinner the other day. I decided to draw this piece of food. That piece of bacon on top of the sandwich looks delicious. I tried to get the glistening oil just right, but may have fallen short. It may be impossible to truly capture the beauty of bacon in any artform other than actually putting bacon in my mouth.

Friday, July 20, 2012

San Marzano - New York City

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 San Marzano - On a recent visit to New York Bob and I got to experience this great pizza place not once, not twice, but three times!  That's right, we liked it so much that we ate there three times and loved it each and every time.  On a previous trip to NYC we'd come across San Marzano, but we'd only stopped in for a drink.  

The restaurant is on the corner of Rivington and Clinton in the Lower East Side.  Like many NYC establishments they have floor to ceiling windows that they can open up on warm summer days to get a nice cross breeze.  The restaurant seats about 34 people, including the 4 seats at the bar.  There's typically one waiter, and some awesome cooks.  This is important because while the place is small, you should probably not go here if you're in a rush.  This is a leisurely paced meal kind of place, and the corner location is great for people watching.

But what about the food you ask!  So all together we tried: the antipasto platter, the brussel sprouts, the arugula salad, the buffalo chicken pizza, the finocchio pizza and the caption pizza.  That's right, we totally went for it when it came to eating.  We paired all our delicious food with Strawberry Abita in frosty mugs.  YUM! 

We discovered that one pizza, and an appetizer (salad, antipasto, etc) was enough for the two of us to be nicely satisfied with out being stuffed.  You can eat one pizza all by yourself, as it's thin crust and about 13 inches, but you'll be completely full.  I do recommend this if you want to try a bunch of different pizzas, and you're going out with a group of friends.

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They have a nice deal during lunch for a Margherita Pizza for super cheap if you're just looking for an easy lunch.

Overall our favorite thing at San Marzano was the buffalo chicken pizza.  The chicken is shredded so it's covered all over the pizza, and it's just the right amount of spicy.  If you like buffalo wings, and you like thin crust pizza you should definitely try this place out.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cauliflower Mushroom and Ham Soup

So, I've been trying to use our Blend-tec blender more often, and I've also been cooking with cauliflower more often as well because it's a nice texture/consistency to add flavors to.  My most recent concoction is a pretty hearty soup.  Now typically I am of the mind set that soup is not a meal.  It's more like a side dish or an appetizer, so I wanted to try to make a full meal kind of soup and here's what I came up with...


Dried Black Eyed Peas





Vegetable Stock


Cayanne Pepper

This recipe requires a bit more preparation than other things I've made, so I recommend that you being the first step of this meal after you eat dinner one night, so that you can get things ready for the next night's meal.

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Step 1 - You need to soak your black eyed peas.  I soaked 1 cup of dried black eyed peas in 4 cups of water over night and into the next day.  (You don't have to soak them this long, but really it's not going to hurt them, you really need roughly 8 to 10 hours of soaking.)


Step 2 - An hour before you're going to eat drain your blacked eyed peas and add 2 cups of vegetable stock and put them on low/medium heat on the stove top.  Watch and stir every once and a while, making sure that the vegetable stock covers all your black eyed peas.

Step 3 - While the peas are cooking go ahead and wash and chop up a head of cauliflower and throw it in

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your steamer.  Do the same with about 2 cups of sliced mushrooms.  STEAM!!!! This takes about 20 minutes.

Step 4 - While your veggies are steaming, and your peas are cooking go ahead and get out a frying pan.  Chop up about 1/4 cup onions, a couple of cloves of garlic, and about 1 lb of ham into big chunks.  Add everything to your frying pan with a tiny bit of butter or olive oil and season with cayenne, salt and pepper.  Kind of push things around constantly so the ham doesn't stick and so that everything gets covered and cooked nicely.

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Step 5 - Place your steamed veggies in the blender.  Drain the peas and pour the chicken stock they've been cooking in, in the blender as well.  BLEND!!!  AFter it's blended to the consistency you like pour the mixture back in the pot with the peas.   Stir in the ham, onions and garlic.  BAM, you're done!

When I made this I didn't have any really good ham in the house, so we just used sandwich meat, which was okay but big chunks of ham would have been so much better.

We had a bag o' salad with our soup, just to add more greens.  As another idea I think you could cook the ham with the peas if you really wanted to, rather than using a frying pan.  But who knows!





Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mama's Fish House

IMG 2615Mama's Fish House is DELICIOUS!  It's also amazingly beautiful and will make you feel like you're living in a Swiss Family Robinson or Robinson Crusoe.  The restaurant is a collection of old sails and weird ship-like things.  The entire restaurant is open air, there is a roof, but you can feel the cool breeze of the ocean throughout the restaurant, and there are gigantic oriental rugs all over the floor.  And the food is phenomenal!

We made reservations for lunch at 1pm, and lounged around until we needed to get to the airport - the airport is only about 10 minutes away from Mama's.  I was driving so I started off my meal with a virgin passion fruit daiquiri, and it was wonderful, not too sweet just perfect.  We ordered: the wasabi crusted calamari, lobster guacamole, and a sampling of their sashimi.  The wasabi calami was absolutely the best, it was cooked perfectly and had a nice citrus bite to it.  The sashimi sampler was neat because it was tuna, salmon and a white fish (can't remember which one) and each choose had it's own special kind of salt to go with it, which I thought was pretty awesome.   There's pink salt, who knew!  The lobster guacamole was good, but I think we could have done with out it.

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We split our main course because we'd ordered so many of the appetizers and we wanted to save room for dessert.  We ordered the House Special which is Stuffed MahiMahi - Stuffed with lobster, crab and Maui onion, baked in a macadamia nut crust.  It was melt in your mouth delicious.  Order this, there's a reason it's the house special.

We were super full but couldn't help ourselves and still ordered dessert.  I had the chocolate pie, and a mocha.  Bob had the creme brûlée.  The mocha was HUGE, had I known how big it would be I wouldn't have ordered one, it was a dessert in itself, delicious but huge.  My chocolate pie was sooooo rich, Bob and I should definitely have shared it.  The creme brûlée was really good as well.  We just ordered way too much food, but it was so good so we kept eating ourselves into a food coma.  It's a good thing we had time to sit there and digest before going to the airport.

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The food is a little more expensive but all the fish is caught that morning so it's super fresh, and our waitress was awesome.  Go here, it's worth every penny, you'll have a wonderful time.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Faux-babs, Salads and Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Mash!

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Tonight's dinner was pretty darn delish, and super duper easy to make.  I highly recommend you give it a try, you only need about an hour and then dinner will be on the table.

As an aside, I decided to make the cheesy garlic cauliflower mash because we're trying to be a little healither but at the same time I have a great love for potatoes, mashed potatoes in particular.  I read an article in the latest issue of Rachel Ray's cooking magazine about mashed cauliflower and it sounded sooo yummy so I thought we'd give it a try.

Okay, so before you begin you dinner of awesome you'll need to pick up your ingredients.


- meat!  (I usually plan on 1/2 lb per person and will typically choose tenderloin)

- 1/4 cup mushrooms

- 1/4 cup red pepper (you can use green but I feel like the green peppers have a really overpowering taste)

- 1/4 cup onion

- 1/2 a tomato

- seasoning!!! (I like Angelo's BBQ rub, it's awesome and super spicy!)

- 1 head of cauliflower

- 1/4 cup garlic jack cheese

- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

- 1tbsp butter

- 1 bag of whatever grocery store salad you'd enjoy

- salt and pepper to taste

- aluminum foil

- cookie sheet

- steamer

- blender

All right, so now that you have everything you need here's what you do.

Step 1 - Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is heating up chop your onion, red pepper, tomatoes and mushrooms into large chunks.  (You can really throw any veggie you want in here.)  Go ahead and chop up your head of cauliflower and set it aside.  Now cut up your chosen meat into kebab sized chunks.

Step 2 - Lay our a large sheet of aluminum foil and place your large chunks of meat on your foil.  Toss your seasoning for the meat over the top of the chunks and roll them around a little to get them nice and coated.  Now place the mushrooms, onions, red peppers and tomatoes over the top of the chunks of meat and place another piece of foil over the top of your yummy creation.  Roll up all the sides of your aluminum steamer and place the foil steamer on the cookie sheet and place it in the oven.  (You'll let this cook for about 35 minutes.)

Step 3 - Butter the bottom of your steamer so it doesn't burn your cauliflower and toss your cut up cauliflower in the steamer and start it a' steaming!

Step - 4 While your cauliflower is steaming and your faux-babs are baking go ahead and clean up your mess, and then cut up about 1/4 cup of your garlic jack cheese.  Get out your blender and get ready.  Mix your bag o' salad and set aside.

Step 5 - Your faux-babs should be awesome, so pull the cookie sheet out of the oven and place it on top of the stove to sit for a minute.  Don't open the foil container yet though, wait until right before you serve it.  While the faux-babs are sitting toss your cauliflower in the blender with the garlic jack cheese and 1/4 cup of whipping cream, add some salt and pepper to taste and BLEND!!!!!  And now you're ready!

Serve and eat your awesome meal!!!!!