Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Something I Cooked!

So...we bought a house, and remodeled the kitchen.
I should use it. I've actually been trying to use it! Thanks to Pinterest I've found lots of recipes that are just my style (easy). One of the first things I made was really just a side dish, but it was yummy and I plan to keep it as part of my cooking repertoire. Green Bean Bacon Bundles! I love bacon AND green beans, so WIN-WIN! The recipe I used is here (from via Pinterest). I pretty much followed it step by step since, ya know, I am not much of a chef.

So this is how it went down...There were just a few ingredients. (just my style!)

  • Green beans (I don't know exactly how many, however many you need!)
  • Bacon (1 piece per bundle of beans)
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt/Pepper
NOTE: Cut the tips off the green beans BEFORE starting! I forgot... we just cut them off after they were cooked. Wrap 6-8 beans per bundle with a strip of bacon. Toss a little salt/pepper on them and set them in baking dish.
Then melt the butter, add chopped garlic and brown sugar and let simmer for a few minutes so all the flavors can mingle.

Pour (or in my case brush and then pour) the butter sauce all over the bean bundles. I wanted to make sure it got inside every nook and cranny!

Bake for around 30 min COVERED with foil and then another 10-15 uncovered to crisp the bacon. I turned it over during the crisping session to get both sides. I don't like soft bacon.
(The recipe didn't say what temp but I guessed at 375 degrees.)

Ta-da! Enjoy! Which we did. One of the first things I have cooked in the new house, and not bad...not bad at all!

Next vegetable dish I want to try? Brussels sprouts!! Scary....

Linking up with some lovely craft/recipe/DIY Linky Parties today!
Keeping It Simple

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lorna's Italian Kitchen (yum!)

We were recently introduced to this little gem of a restaurant in the University City area of San Diego. We've been there 3 times in the past few months, and it never disappoints!! Lorna's Italian Kitchen isn't fancy, but it doesn't matter. It's tucked into a strip mall, the decor borders on kitschy Italian (red/white checked vinyl tablecloths, paper maps of Italy for place mats, possibly the same exact decor since the 70s even though they opened in 1988), and I can't vouch for how "authentically" Italian it is...but I can tell you it's a great place for a weekday dinner, especially when it's chilly outside. The service is exceptional, the portions are large, and the pricing is reasonable.

My boyfriend likes to get wine every time we go, possibly just for the fun of being served wine in a water glass? I think he likes to pretend he is Ron Burgandy in 1970s San Diego...

On our first visit (thank the food gods) we noticed bruschetta on the "happy hour" menu. We have ordered it each time since. Please excuse the camera phone pic, it does not do this bruschetta any justice. They serve you 3 giant pieces of lightly toasted bread, with the delicious tomato mix, plenty of yummy fresh mozzarella , HUGE fresh basil leaves, and an AH-MAY-ZING balsamic syrupy reduction that I literally licked off the plate (OK, I used extra bread, not my tongue). It is, honestly, one of my favorite things to eat right now.

On our most recent visit the boyfriend was craving lasagna. It is meaty, and cheesy, and still bubbling hot when they serve it. I tried to get a picture of the cheese good. I am not a huge red sauce fan (of any kind) but this lasagna is delicious and I would order it myself if he didn't order it almost every time!

On our first visit I had the linguini carbonara (delicious, rich, creamy, sooo filling!), the second visit entree is escaping me at the moment.. This last time I ordered the "made fresh daily" Joy's Tortelloni with tomato cream sauce. They were stuffed with cheese and herbs and came in quite a variety of shapes and sizes, which I thought added to "made daily" vibe. The sauce was just the right combo of marinara and alfredo sauces, neither too creamy nor too "sour" from the red sauce. I really enjoyed it and even enjoyed it again the next afternoon reheated.

I would definitely recommend this restaurant and we plan on making many return visits. It's just a few miles from our house, so we can easily roll home stuffed and happy. If you live in San Diego, give it a try!

Lorna's Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Harney Sushi 10th Anniversary Party to Benefit Chef Celebration!!

(Bloggers Note: This event was in April 2011...Photos borrowed from since i sucked at taking pics that night. What? It was a party!! )

This was, by far, the MOST fun we have had in quite a while! Long, long ago, when we were young and broke and still living by the beach, we had some awesome neighbors across the hall from us. These neighbors ended up being the owners/chefs of Harney Sushi. Before they opened their Old Town restaurant, they honed their craft at the Japanese Tea Garden tea shop in Balboa Park. They introduced us to sushi, which we had never been very experimental with before. And we have always remembered them fondly. When the restaurant first opened we went fairly often, but it had been a few years. I've followed them on Facebook and seen ads in The Reader and online. The restaurant has been very successful and they have a 2nd location in Oceanside. (And it has turned into quite a night life hot spot! They often have DJs and a very club-like atmosphere.) So... when I saw that one of the Chef Celebration Dinners was going to be there I was really excited and 100% sure we would be going.

The entire night was a totally different experience from any of the other dinners, as it coincided with Harney's 10th Anniversary bash! Instead of a seated dinner, they had a sushi buffet inside their restaurant and bar area. There was some seating inside and on their side patio, as well as at the bar. If you've been there, you know it is not a spacious building. Luckily they had managed to seal off the back parking lot and took over that area with a stage, 2 bars, and a huge tens housing the guest chefs' cooking and serving stations, and some additional lounge seating.

The whole party was a great time! Sometimes the food tables were a bit backed up, and the crowd and lighting didn't lend itself to great (amateur) picture taking, but I was busy enjoying myself, so I didn't think about it much. We reconnected with our old friends/neighbors, ate some great food, and danced to some GREAT (local) music! B Side Players...check them out!!

While I got a few good pics of my boyfriend and I with our friends, I didn't do the food or band any justice. Here are some professional party pics!

Harney Sushi on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cowboy Star Chef Celebration (2011)

BLOGGER'S NOTE: I am the slackingest blogger ever. This is from last spring and has been half completed in my drafts for months. I'm DETERMINED to get back to it!

Our second
Chef Celebration dinner...and it DID NOT disappoint! I have been interested in eating at the downtown butcher shop/restaurant, Cowboy Star, since I saw this review by mmm-yoso! As Homer Simpson might say: "mmmmm, meat. (drool)...." So I was really excited that it was one of the restaurants for Chef Celebration this year. The evening's menu can be seen here, and was exactly as shown from what I could tell.

We were running a little late that evening and were concerned about the parking situation, but there is a decent sized pay lot right across the street so it wasn't a problem. Weekends might be more difficult. I don't usually drink very much but their drink menu had quite a few delicious looking options. I had a mojito and then ordered the drink pictured below, a Broken Arrow. (Blogger's Note: I have been here twice since then and I love that damn drink!! Vodka, grapefruit, passionfruit, champagne, one other ingredient that escapes me...) Loved it! It was refreshing and sweet and tangy all at once and I would have had a few more but the food took precedence. Next time!!

The first course was a beef carpaccio. We have only had this once before, at Ruth's Chris, and this one was very different. This was not a plate of SUPER thinly sliced beef, this was (almost) like a raw hamburger patty, just not ground up as much. I wasn't a huge fan, although with some of the parmesan puree and a piece of the toast, it tasted good. My boyfriend really enjoyed it though, and he even loved eating the little flowers that were on top. :-)

The second course was the one I was least interested in after checking out the menu. I'm not a big seafood eater and I wasn't at all sure about octopus! It turned out to be delicious and a really interesting flavor combination. The octopus was, as anticipated, a bit chewy (but, really, not "too" chewy) and the char on it from grilling was perfectly counter balanced by the sweetness of the grapes and white gazpacho. The ramps (another first for both of us) were yummy, too, and the almonds gave it a great texture. We both really liked this course and I think it was the boyfriend's favorite of the night. Very unique, and he loves that.

MY favorite, though, was the third course, brought to us by Chef Chris Kurth of Grant Grill.
And just like at Pampelmousse, the picture of MY favorite dish did not come out well at all. BOO :-( Anyhow... It was a soft poached duck egg in a spring onion bullion with hazelnuts, mushroom and parmesan. LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT! The bullion was amazing and the runny goodness of the egg yolk was rich and delicious. Everything just tasted so great together and I could have eaten mine and his, but he really liked it, too. If Chef Chris is serving this at Grant Grill, we might have to stop in there soon!

The fourth course was fish. Salmon en croute with lentils, mushrooms and a bunch of other garnishes. All together they were a good combo. The tomatoes were warm and juicy and salmon is my favorite fish. Another one my boyfriend really enjoyed.

The beef course came to us from the Cowboy Star chef (naturally) and was a close second favorite dish for me. The mushroom "cream"/puree was so rich and I only wish there had been more of it. And a few more of the yummy fingerling potatoes.

Dessert was a crumb cake with a lemony sauce (ginger spiced marcona almond crumb cake, to be exact)...and it was all kinds of delicious. I love lemon in desserts. The cake was SUPER moist and full of flavor, and we shoveled it all down even though we were about ready to burst by that point!

We both really enjoyed this place and plan to visit again sooner rather than later. Another fun Chef Celebration night out!

Cowboy Star on Urbanspoon