Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pop Champagne and Dessert Bar

I read about this restaurant in Pasadena called Pop Champagne and Dessert Bar, and was immediately intrigued. Champagne and dessert are two of my favorite things, and since one of my girl friends lives in Pasadena, we decided to make a girl's night out and try this place. I am SO GLAD we did! First off, the restaurant has great ambience, either for a romantic night with your significant other, or for a fun, "sex-in-the-city-esque" girl's night. The room has a modern feel with exposed ducting combined with the elegance of dimly lit chandeliers and votives on the tables. The food was very tasty as well. My salad was lightly dressed with fresh ingredients, and the bean soup was satiating, but not overly heavy. The best part of the meal, not surprisingly, was the champagne and dessert. The wine and champagne list was so extensive, but we opted for a flight of three to try. There is a whole page of dessert options so I was in heaven, and decided on the chocolate truffles. Two were hazlenut and three were peanut butter. The great food and drinks combined with the company of good girl friends made for a fabulous Saturday night out. Definitely worth the drive to Pasadena!

Monday, March 29, 2010

No-Fuss Marinade

Next time you're at Trader Joe's, pick up the Trader Joe's Island Soyaki Sauce. It's a tasty marinade for meat, vegetables...anything, and is a great timesaver. One quick recipe:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Generously cover 4 chicken breasts with the Soyaki Sauce.
3. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Serve!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

R23 - A Great Downtown Sushi Restaurant

I first heard about this restaurant, R23, from my sister. She and my brother-in-law went there for dinner one night and her description, "a sheek sushi restaurant in a converted industrial building in the heart of downtown LA," intrigued me. Then, a friend from work mentioned that she had been there and really liked it, so I added it to my list of restaurants-to-try. Particularly with sushi restaurants, I will only try them by referral. I figure it's safer that way :). I had an excuse yesterday to try it: my "goodbye lunch" as I leave my current job. My sister's description was perfect...the restaurant is in a converted building with exposed ducts, brick walls, big open windows, hardwood floors, and art on the walls. As you sit down, you realize that the surprisingly comfortable chairs are made out of cardboard. The eight of us ordered enough sushi to feed a small village. It all came out on a beautiful platter and plates, and tasted just as good as it looked. All in all, it was a fabulous lunch at a yummy restaurant that I will definitely try again!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One of my favorite things about spring is planting new plants, flowers, and herbs. There is just something wonderful about kneading your hands in soil and getting all the dirt in your nails. It's definitely a nice break from the concrete jungle. So, I recently went to Home Depot in search of some inspiration, and decided to add some herbs to my patio garden. I picked up rosemary, sage, and lemon thyme, three of my favorites. I use these in practically everything, just to add a touch of flavor. Here's one of my favorite new recipes that I saw in a Weight Watchers magazine:

6 chicken breasts (I use the frozen boneless,skinless, individually wrapped ones from costco)
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (I use Rosemary Balsamic Vinegar)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic (either fresh and thinly sliced or the minced-in-a-jar kind)

1. Preheat the over to 400 degrees.
2. Mix the rosemary, garlic, oil, lemon zest, salt, and crushed red pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat.
3. Place the chicken on a 9X13 inch baking dish (I use a nice white bake and serve dish so I eliminate one added step of moving the chicken to a serving platter). Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Drizzle the vinegar over the chicken. Bake, unocvered, until the chicken is slightly browned on the outside and cooked through the inside (about 10 minutes).

This is a really easy recipe that takes about 10 minutes to prepare and leaves you with time to do other things while it is baking.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kitchen Staples

For vegetarians or those who like meatless meals ever so often, you have to try the Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Grillers Recipe Crumbles. They are in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. These are fabulous in any recipe that calls for ground beef or meat crumbles. I use it in tacos, stir-fry, pasta sauce, and even chili, and continue to find new recipes in which to use it. Just add whatever seasoning you like and you’re good to go!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The EASIEST Hors d'Ĺ“uvre

I tried out this hors d'oeuvre recently for my husband's birthday. I obviously go for tasty bites, but I try to do ones that I can prepare, at least in part, ahead of time. The combination didn't sound that appealing at first, but I figured I would try something new. I'm glad I did! Everyone complimented me on how GREAT they tasted. The combination of sweet date and pungent blue cheese is a nice balance.
Trust me, they'll be gone before you know it!!

Blue Cheese
(I get the big tubs of pitted dates and blue cheese at Costco...Even if you have leftovers, they won't go bad for awhile)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slightly open the pitted dates (if they aren't pitted yet, do that) and stuff a few blue cheese crumbles inside. This step you can do the morning of and leave them in the fridge.

Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet, or put parchment paper down, for about 5 - 10 minutes; just long enough that the blue cheese melts. Serve!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Favorite Salt

When I was studying abroad in Spain in college, my parents and I went over to Mallorca for the weekend. We stopped at the La Residencia Hotel in Deia for lunch (by the way, the best lunch I've ever had...but that's for another post) and the waiter brought over bread, olive oil, and this wonderful sea salt, Flor de Sal Hibiscus, to accompany it. This fuscia-colored salt had such a wonderful taste and hibiscus aroma that we bought a few cans to take home with us. In the years since, I have been rationing it off, literally sprinkle by sprinkle, thinking it would be impossible to find once I had gone through my supply. Well, a few months ago, my mom stumbled upon it while exploring the Surfas Restaurant Supply Store in Culver City. If you can't make it to Culver City, it's available on the web, on sites like Amazon. So, no more rationing for me!! I would absolutely reccommend this to add to your kitchen collection.

P.S. 5 years later, the salt smells just as strongly of hibiscus (in a good way) as it did when we first bought it.