Sunday, October 31, 2010

Natalie the Nomad: The Dublin Pub

Monthly Feature
Natalie will hit the Ohio-area restaurant scene and fill us in with top-notch reviews.

The Scene
The Dublin Pub is in the historic Oregon District in Dayton, Ohio. While this pub is a block down from the local legend, Thai 9, it could not be any more different. The Pub exudes the atmosphere of a 'typical European pub' - dimly lit, crowded booths, the bar, tchotchkes pinned to the walls and ceiling. There are plenty of tvs around the restaurant, all showing one kind of sport. Also, there is a stage at the front of the restaurant, for showcasing local bands during late nights.

The Bar
I initially started coming to Dublin Pub in college, totally uninterested in what the food had to offer. I was missing out big time, but with the bar with numerous Irish beers on tap and over 10 whiskey choices alone, that was the least of my 21 year old worries. But thank goodness for growing up and glancing at the menu...

The Food
The appetizer that you CANNOT miss is definitely the 'Blarney Stone'. You get four, initially, but can keep adding 'stones' for $1.50. They are huge, so 4 amongst the table is plenty. I'm just going to get to the point - deep friend mashed potato, with the perfect blend of cheeses, AND sausage. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. This was served with a spicy chipotle mayo, and it definitely paired with the stones perfectly. I personally think the Dublin Pub should have this mayo as an option to put on sandwiches...

For my main course I decided on the Huntsman, with a side of garlic green beans. Don't get me wrong, their fries have been voted 'Best in Dayton' but following up Blarney Stones with french fries seemed a little heavy. Plus, the garlic green beans are delicious. Fresh beans, swimming in a vinaigrette sauce and showered with chunks of garlic. The club sandwich was made to perfection. You might think 'well, its a sandwich how hard can it be?' - well Debbie Downer, I have news for you! The bread was toasted, making it vulnerable to 'sogginess' from the sauce spread but this was not. The perfect crunch, the blend of meat and spices; needless to say you overlook the juices running from the corners of your mouth.

While I was full from dinner, I was adamant about getting dessert. My fail safe, go-to option here is the Chocolate Volcano. Yes my friends, it is as scrumptious as it sounds. I usually get this with a side of cinnamon ice cream, but in my blarney stone garlic bean huntsman sandwich induced haze, I sadly forgot... Served with dollops of home made whipped cream, the chocolate molten cake is served in the center of your plate, swimming amongst chocolate and raspberry sauces. Digging your fork into the center of the cake you will be delighted to see even MORE chocolate sauce oozing out onto your plate. Coupled with the dollop of whipped cream, you've got a pretty hard core slice of chocolate heaven.

300 Wayne Ave
Dayton, OH 45410
937-224-7822
http://www.dubpub.com/index2.htm

Friday, October 29, 2010

Finding Balance: Week 3

Life's all about finding that perfect mix of fun and hard work.

Trying To Find a Routine


Keeping a food journal has definitely helped me see where I am making mistakes. It’s helping me realize that a routine is extremely important to getting where I want to go.

Setting the tone for the day with a good breakfast in the morning has been a big key for me. When I take a banana and some pop tarts for breakfast, I tend to eat a healthy lunch and dinner. When I forget to take breakfast, I tend to slip up a bit more and not stay as strict with what I’m eating.

I am an organized person by nature, so keeping lists and maintaining a routine should be easy for me. But for some reason, I get easily distracted and bored with the status quo. There’s my challenge – stay the course. Easier said than done, I know…

I also need to drink more water. I used to have no problem drinking a half gallon a day, but lately I’ve only been drinking 32 oz. a day or so. This needs to be remedied.

As far as exercise goes, I’ve mainly been walking for a half hour or so. But that is starting to wear on me, as far as getting bored. Any suggestions for something new (and take into account, I am a large man – that means no running for now)?

Until next time…

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Ales You?: Warsteiner Verum

Monthly Feature
Wayne and Leah give us the skinny on beer.

Gutentag Mighty Rib Readers, we're back again with another installment of What Ales You. In honor of Oktoberfest in Germany, we decided to review a German beer, in this case, Warsteiner Verum.

Granted, the German Oktoberfest is over by the start of the actual month of October, but damn it the name is Oktoberfest and we are in October. Anyways, Warsteiner Verum is the beer of the month.

Apologies in the case that we prove our ignorance on the topic of beer, for some of our commentary might seem elementary, but we're going to take this monthly entry more as a learning experience. Feel free to correct any uneducated statement on the background and research that we might provide on the beer of the month, some is going to come from the likes of Wikipedia, which can be an amazing resource, but at times, can be an inaccurate citation. One thing we've already learned is that there are many varieties and types of beer out there. Our beer of the month, Warsteiner Verum, is a premium German Pilsner beer. Pilsner can be considered a type of beer, however, to some beer organizations, it is more of a marketing description for many modern brewers. The term Pilsner and Pilsner beers originated in the Czech republic and it is generally acceptable to say that a Pilsner is a pale lager.

Overall Taste
Germany is oft considered one of the best beer producing countries in the world, and is known for their lagers. Apparently the proud German brewers stick to the Reinheitsgebot (purity order) for their beers, which is a good thing. With many contemporary brewers moving towards more complex ingredient sets and taste combinations, it is often difficult to find a simple, crisp, quality lager.

Wayne's Take
I really like Warsteiner Verum, it had a certain crispness, no skunky smell was present and there was no poor aftertaste. There was an adequate amount of hoppy flavor. It's my belief that sometimes brewers believe that because one of the ingredients of beer is hops, that the more the better. I don't agree with that, as too many hops overburdens the taste. Warsteiner had just the right hint of hoppiness.

Meal Pairing
I wish I could say that the first meal pairing that came to mind would be bratwurst and red cabbage, but that would be too easy and frankly it wasn't the first thing that came to mind. I would also loved to have described drinking a Warsteiner whilst sitting in a lovely autumnal biergarten and enjoying the briny salty taste of a traditional German meal, but again, it wasn't the thought that came to mind. I thought that Warsteiner Vellum definitely had a distinctive pleasant taste, but not an overly overpowering one, therefore, it would go very well with a meal that had a distinctiveness about it, but also wasn't overpowering. I think a Persian kabob, with traditional Persian rice would be the perfect complement for this German lager. I know its sounds a little off, but Persian cuisine does have a distinctive taste, but is also not intrusive.

Leah's Take
This is an enjoyable beer. The lighter color belies a good depth of flavor, and it somehow seems "old world-ey", but that may just be the power of suggestion given the traditional label. Its certainly one of those beers that needs to be served very cold in my mind... while you're hiking in Bavaria...in Lederhosen...singing "Climb Every Mountain"....

Meal Pairing
I would drink Warsteiner with something nice and salty like a soft pretzel or some nachos. Its got a strong enough taste that even if there was a bit of spice in the food you could still tell it was beer and not carbonated water, but is crisp and would cut through earthy/salty pairings.

Summary
Wir haben Wersteiner gern. Du sollst dieser Bier kaufen. Gemutlichkeit!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unique Randomness

My random thoughts...brought to you once a week.
  • I had a great time this past weekend in Nashville. We went for my wife's Vanderbilt Homecoming Weekend. Got to catch up and visit with her awesome friends AND ate some outstanding food (for the most part).
  • Nashville struck me as being very underrated in the culinary scene. There's also a high level of food blogging going on.
  • Things I liked about Nashville: cool neighborhoods inside town, very clean, mild climate, friendly folk.
  • Things I did not like about Nashville: actually, just one...terrible drivers. No incidents or accidents on my part, but must every driver in that city get in my blind spot?
On to other things...
  • Why can't they turn the A/C on in airplanes before take off? Is this another cost-cutting technique, because it sucks ass.
  • Pet Peeve: Slow turners: I hate drivers that slow up to almost a complete stop to make a right or left turn.
  • You know what would be nice? Getting out of my car in Houston in late October, and not having my glasses fog up. High of 91 today!
  • I physically can't make it through an entire Black Eyed Peas song. There music gives me the bubble guts.
  • In a battle of who's aging faster, my wife has finally caught up to me in having to take lactaid pills before dairy consumption.
  • Why do I have a house phone line? Oh, I know. It's so politicians can call me 20 times a day. I remember about three months ago an actual human being that I know called me at home. It felt awkward.
  • Congrats to my sister-in-law Rachel, who was just hired to perform for the San Diego Opera in Carmen.
  • Quick...who's head is that up there in the pic? You get this one, and I'll be impressed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mighty Good Recipe: Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

It's Tuesday, time for a Mighty Good Recipe!

I don't usually do this, but it's late and I'm tired. And it's not technically lazy because I did write this. Check out a great recipe for Thanksgiving that was posted today on the Houston Press blog Eating Our Words. This recipe turned out even better than I expected. The chipotle was a great match with the sweet potatoes. Give it a try!

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/2010/10/cooking_through_alton_chipotle.php

Monday, October 25, 2010

Restaurant Review: Nashville (Several)

Tour de Nashville
This week's Restaurant Review will be a little different. Check out some short takes on all the places I hit up in Nashville over the past weekend.

Calypso Cafe
My wife has raved about this place forever. She went to Vanderbilt and visits to Calypso were routine. This Caribbean-style restaurant was a mild hit for me. I wouldn't say it was rave-worthy, but I was pleased with all my items, the service was quick and friendly, and the price was right. Calypso specializes in healthy fare—I had the bbq rotisserie chicken with corn muffins and coconut sweet potatoes. The sweetness of the potatoes worked well with the jerky chicken. I also had some sort of a fruit tea. Interestingly refreshing. I almost forgot...we shared a black bean dip and chips for an appetizers. Very cheesy and very awesome—best thing we ordered.

Loveless Cafe
I was ordered to check this place out by my in-laws. Just kidding. They met in Nashville, lived there for awhile, and rarely tell me to check a restaurant out—so I listened. Located a short 20-minute drive outside of Nashville, Loveless Cafe is world-renowned (Bobby Flay, Conan, etc.) for their chicken AND especially their biscuits. Translation: tourist trap. The cafe is just one piece in the compound-esque puzzle that is Loveless. Small storefronts, a barn, and country store allow visitors to kill some time. Expect an hour wait. We dined at an offbeat hour and still waited 45 minutes. It's fun walking around the area and checking out the shops. But I've got plenty of experience with places like Loveless. All of this glitter usually means average food, small portions, and high prices. Fortunately, Loveless didn't hit the extremes on any of these. Yes, the prices were a bit high... and yes, the portions could have been bigger. But the quality of food was excellent. Sara had the fried chicken. It was lightly battered, deep-fried, and very moist. Not greasy at all. I wanted more seasoning in the crust, but the flavorful sides (mashed potatoes, biscuits, and green beans) brought the chicken up to code. My chicken fried steak was solid, not memorable, but solid. Nat's cheeseburger was very underrated, and and may have been the best thing on the table. That charbroiled flavor really stood out. The biscuits were the star of the show and they did not disappoint. Airy, light, and buttery—I've never had better.

German Town Cafe
We did brunch with Sara's Vandy crew on Sunday morning at the Germantown Cafe. This sleek bar and restaurant was a hit. I ordered a Bloody Mary (it was ok but mine are better), cheese grits and French onion soup. My friendly cohorts allowed me to try the smoked salmon with eggs, the frittata, the banana bread French toast, and the crab cake eggs benny. I had absolutely no complaints about anything, but the crab cake dish stood out. Just a fun experience getting to see all of my wife's old friends and eating some awesome food. I highly recommend this spot.

Noshville Deli
I blame Chompie's in Phoenix for this debacle. Did I ever think I could dine at an authentic NY deli in the middle of the desert? No. I was proven wrong. Did I think I could dine at an authentic NY deli in the middle of Nashville? No. I was proven right. My half-Jewishness can sniff out the real deal in seconds, and Noshville was not it. It was a standard breakfast joint. The service was excellent and the food was average.

Chicago Style Gyros
Bitter sweet dining experience on this one. Met my favorite fellow food blogger Vivek for a late lunch at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. Closed. D@mn! The trusted internet said they'd be open. As Michael Scott would say, “I don't trust technology.” I was really looking forward to trying hot chicken—a Nashville classic. We were shaken a bit, but Vivek suggested this Gyro place—it was close and OPEN. It turned out being a good suggestion. My cheesesteak with pita bread was solid.

Pancake Pantry
The Pancake Pantry, alongside Vanderbilt's campus, puts it all together—a tourist spot with outstanding food! We drove past the place our first morning, but didn't stop. Why? The line to get in wrapped around the restaurant. Sara told me this place was the real deal. No pancake is worth an hour and half wait. Wrong. These were. We went the next day, waited zero seconds, and I ordered the Georgia peach pancakes. My goodness...three, good-sized rolled cakes, topped with peach compote and sweet cream. I've had slightly better pancakes (Lou's in Chicago) but never has the entire combo of cake and topping been better. This was my best meal in Nashville.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Molly's Food Find: Ginger Soother

We're always on the hunt for cool products.

What the product is?
Ginger Soother
A ginger drink with lemon and honey. Can be served chilled or hot.

Why it's so great?
For those of us poor souls constantly plagued with upset stomach and nausea, the Ginger Soother is a life saver and a pleasant alternative to Pepto Bismol. Ginger is a natural remedy for nausea that chemotherapy patents and pregnant women with morning sickness commonly use.

Where do I buy it?

Whole Foods, http://www.gingerpeople.com/, http://www.amazon.com/

How much?
Around $1.55 for a 12 fl oz container

Saturday, October 23, 2010

He Said, She Said: Giacomo's

Monthly Feature
It's near the end of the month...and guess what's due...another He Said, She Said for Carrie and me.


Here’s how it works:
  • We went to the same Houston-area restaurant at different times.
  • It's our first time eating at the restaurant.
  • We read no previous reviews.
  • We write our reviews separately.
  • Once written, the reviews are not changed.
Giacomo's
3215 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77098
http://www.giacomosciboevino.com/

He Said Atmosphere: (5) Star
Beautiful, bright colors abound. Giacomo's had a hip, modern feel—while maintaining some old-school charm. I did take-out and was enamoured with the products available for purchase at the front of the restaurant. I loved the open kitchen, side bar, gelato counter, and chalkboard menu.

She Said Atmosphere: (4) Stars
Comfortable is the best way to describe the atmosphere at Giacomo’s. Bright, casual and simply decorated interior. Chalkboards with the menu and extensive wine offerings line several walls, but these items are also listed on a printed menu (take note, Café Rabelais). Nice outdoor patio, but since it faces Westheimer, it could be noisy.

He Said Menu Selection: (5) Stars
Giacomo's switches things up with a counter, food fast, and slow menu. I liked the concept, if for nothing else, it was different. I was a little short on time so I went with the food fast menu. Excellent selection of pastas, salads, sandwiches, and wines.

She Said Menu Selection: (4) Stars
Lots of options organized by the amount of time you have to wait…I like the concept! Counter items include antipasto dishes, soups, sandwiches and crostinis, “food fast” includes meat and cheese plates, salads, and a variety of pastas, while the “slow food” adds main course proteins, such as chicken, pork, rainbow trout and steak. Extensive wine list.

He Said Taste:
(5) Stars
I got an order of the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, Tagliatelle Giovanni, and a lemon tart—and drove home fast. The smells in the car drove me crazy. Getting take-out was a true test. Could the food withstand the lag time and still hold its quality? The answer was yes. Sara ate the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, but I had a bite...awesome. It was well seasoned and I loved the flat noodles. My dish (Giovanni) was one of the best pasta dishes I've had in Houston. Creamy, but not too heavy—the chicken was moist and flavorful, and the veggies were nothing short of perfection. The brussel sprouts, sweet red peppers, and cauliflower stood out. Again, Giacomo's use of flat noodles was a great choice. The lemon tart was, for lack of a better adjective, lemony. That's a compliment.

She Said Taste:
(3) Stars
I ordered the Gamberi Piccanti, described as “spicy shrimp salad in toasted baguette” and a house salad to go. Concerned that my sandwich may loose some of its appeal by the time I got home, I opened the container for a bite in the parking lot. Bad move. While the flavor of the shrimp was deliciously spicy, my sandwich was swimming in an unappealing pool of oil which proceeded to run down my arms, sending me digging for a napkin, tissue, baby’s burp cloth…anything to sop up the thick oily mess. The benefit? My steering wheel won’t need Armor All for the next six months. Once home, I could really delve into my dish. The baguette on which my oily shrimp were served was chewy and delicious. As you can imagine the bottom slice was soggy, but still…delish. The potato salad, which was in the same take out container as the sandwich, was also tainted by the dreaded oil. Regardless, the flavor of the potato salad was not really my thing. I’m more an American potato salad traditionalist and this caper-olive-vinegar version was just a bit too worldly for my liking. However, if you like a Mediterranean flavored potato salad this would be right up your alley. My side salad was nothing to write home about, but the shaved fennel on top was nice. I would have liked to try the green goddess dressing, but the vinaigrette was packaged up for me.

He Said Service: (5) Stars
I chatted with the owner Lynette while I waited for my food. She was very friendly, and even offered to get me something to drink while I waited. Nice touch. My food was out in fifteen minutes, packaged well, and ready to be consumed.

She Said Service: (4.5) Stars
Given the fact that I was just taking my food to go, the service was exceptional. The gentleman working the counter offered me a printed menu so that I didn’t have to squint to read the wall version. I was also offered a drink while I waited. I was told the wait would be about seven minutes and I don’t even think it was that long.

He Said Pricing: (3.5) Stars
The prices were a little high for pasta dishes, between $12-13. But location matter, and you gotta pay the rent...so the relatively high prices came as no shock. I will say that my dish was well worth $13.

She Said Pricing: (3) Stars
Maybe this is typical River Oaks pricing, but $17+ for a 4” sandwich, a little potato salad and a side salad seems a bit steep to me.

He Said Overall Opinion: (5) Stars
I loved Giacomo's. I am definitely going back and probably ordering the same thing...which I almost never do. It's hard to imagine that I am looking forward to eating brussel sprouts...but I am.

She Said Overall Opinion: (3.5) Stars
Maybe I just ordered wrong…From the moment I walked in I wanted to love this place. It has a good vibe and the service was above average. But my $10 little shrimp sandwich missed the mark and my expectations led me astray on the potato salad. If I were in the area I may give this place another shot, but I probably wouldn’t make the drive over to the Oaks for another go round.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finding Balance: Week 2

If you were hoping to see Back to Basics in this spot, I’m sorry to disappoint. But maybe we can work something out so you can get 2 for the price of 1 on Friday’s. What say you, Kevin?

Anyway, week 2 is in the books and it’s been a bit of a struggle already. For the most part, I’m sticking with my plan. If you aren’t familiar with my philosophy, check it out here.

The difference this week is that I’ve started to keep a food journal, where I write down everything I eat and drink. I figure if I can pinpoint where I’m slipping up it will definitely help in the long run.

I’m also trying to count calories more regularly. Based on my age, height, weight and physical activity, I need to consume roughly 3,700 calories per day to maintain the weight I’m at. For every 500 calories under that number, I lose a pound. So say I eat 2,700 calories a day during the course of a week, theoretically I will lose 2 pounds.

My physical activity this week consisted of walking for 30 minutes, three times a week. I also played 2 games of softball and coached soccer (not a lot of activity, but moderate running while chasing 6 year olds all over the field). I plan on stepping this up to 4-5 times a week while continuing to play softball to break up the monotony.

Food this week has been pretty standard. For lunch I typically have a sandwich and either potato salad or chips from Brown Bag Deli. Before you get on your soapbox, remember I normally consume more calories than the average person, so in the grand scheme of things I am still staying well below my daily allotment.

This week I did have a splurge day where I had some nachos from Taco Cabana. But I think it’s important not to deprive yourself all the time. The thing to remember is to not give in and constantly eat this way.

I didn’t eat out anywhere this week (other than the places mentioned above), so I don’t really have anything new to report in the way of restaurants or reviews. Maybe next time…

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Hour: Beach Bourbon Slush

Time for a drink recipe with a Thursday Happy Hour!

Take notice, the first thing you see in my picture is the lack of slush. I didn't have the time nor freezer space to pull off the granita consistency. I imagine that would have made this drink magical. As it stands, no complaints. The bourbon wasn't overpowering and the lemonade and orange concentrate played well against one another. This drink recipe belonged on the blog months ago, but better late than never. Make a big batch, throw it in the freezer, and you've got a nice bedtime drink for awhile.

http://projects.eveningedge.com/recipes/fred-thompsons-beach-bourbon-slush/

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unique Randomness

My random thoughts...brought to you once a week!

Warning...look away if reading about the happenings of another person's children induces vomiting. I've been there and take no offense. Just come back tomorrow or next week or whenever you check the blog.
  • My daughter (1st grade) had a substitute teacher. Her quote...“Dad, I had a substitute today. She wasn't the best teacher. Actually, she was the worst teacher.”
  • Same daughter...”Hey dad..I like Luke. I sure do like blirting with him.” How long do you think I've got until she realizes blirting is flirting? I just shook my head and agreed with the blirting.
  • That same daughter dropped one of her micro-sized hair “clippies” on the living room floor. Guess who's foot found the clippy?
  • I've got enough Silly Bandz in my house to Silly Bandz a small village of underprivileged children.
  • My 18-month-old daughter sounds like an Ewok. Her pastimes include eating large quantities of mac and cheese and pointing to her nose, and then saying “nooossse”.
  • Is it bad to teach a 6-year-old to say Cool HWhip instead of Cool Whip? I hope not.
Okay...enough about the kids.
  • I suffered my first major kitchen injury about two weeks ago. I was cleaning the seeds out of a butternut squash, and one jammed between my index fingernail and cuticle. That was two weeks ago! It's just now back to normal. Watch out this holiday season for those darn butternut squash innards.
  • Teaser Alert: Next week's restaurant review is gonna be an awesome one. Hint...it won't be from Houston and I haven't eaten there yet. And still know it gonna be awesome.
Quick...what movie is the picture above from? This one should be a lay-up.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mighty Good Recipe: Laurin Stamm's Raisin Bran Muffins

It's Tuesday, time for a Mighty Good Recipe!

The following recipe is from someone named Laurin Stamm, via my mother, cooked by my wife. I was only involved in the eating process. Awesome recipe. Make on a Sunday and you've got breakfast for the rest of the week (freeze the rest).

Ingredients
1 15oz box of Raisin Bran cereal
3 cups sugar
5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 quart buttermilk

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Combine the first five ingredients. Add eggs, vegetable oil, and buttermilk--blend well. Bake for 20 minutes.
Note: This full recipe makes about 48 regular size muffins- huge! My wife halved the recipe and still froze the majority.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dinner Club: The Opposite of Bacon

Each month...six friends get together for great food and good times! Check out the recipes and rundown.

The Jaegers hosted and made the appetizers and entree. The Shalins brought over tasty beverages, and the Shooks were in charge of dessert. The theme was Vegetarian. After last month's Bacon Bonanza, our hearts needed a break. Here's how it broke down:

Appetizers
Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/squash-soup-in-pumpkin-bowls-recipe/index.html

Cranberry-Brie Bites
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/saras-secrets/cranberry-brie-bites-recipe/index.html

Grilled Honey-Orange Figs with Mascarpone and Pistachios
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/grilled-honey-orange-figs-with-mascarpone-and-pistachios-recipe/index.html

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/spicy-sweet-potato-fries-recipe/index.html

Main Course
Potato Gnocchi with Wild Mushroom Sugo
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-chiarello/potato-gnocchi-with-wild-mushroom-sugo-recipe/index.html

Dessert
Pumpkin Brownies (served with vanilla ice cream)
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Brownies/Detail.aspx

Sensational Chocolate Sauce
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sensational-Chocolate-Sauce/Detail.aspx

Drink
Cucumber Martini
http://www.drinknation.com/drink/cucumber-martini

The Rundown: Anytime you eat soup served from a hollowed-out pumpkin bowl, you know life is good. A hollowed-out, soup-filled pumpkin bowl to 30-somethings is like a three-kegger to college students. Staying with that theme, I treated those figs like they were jello shots...I popped about eight of them. So d@mn good. You haven't eaten a fig? Try it. The gnocchi was cooked to perfection and the pumpkin brownies really tasted like pumpkin. Judging by the plates, everyone enjoyed them. Conversation ranged from the Jaeger's dog Nona getting hit by a car (and surviving and back to normal) to head lice (non of us have it, at least at the time of this posting).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kevin's Food Find: Camano Island Coffee

We're on the prowl for great products. We'll give you the skinny on one every Sunday!

What is it?
Great coffee...that's what it is. I'm just a teeny bit addicted to coffee. My opinions on java even approach snob territory, When I want a good K-Cup I order here. When I feel like getting good coffee in Houston, I visit here. But when I desire fresh, whole-bean coffee from a distant roaster, I usually go to Camano Island Coffee Roasters. My brother-in-law Scott recommended Camano a few years back, and I've been ordering ever since.

Why it’s so great?
Listen, I wish I was smart enough to tell you why it's so great. I'm not. But if I must placate you...it's full-bodied with deep aromatic hints of cherried chocolate notes. Actually, it's just great coffee. They get their beans from all the standard growing countries and do a top-notch job with the roasting process. Camano's coffee is shade grown, organic, and fairly traded.

Where can I buy some?
Go to the web site. I became part of The Coffee Lovers Club. It's very flexible and affordable.

What’s the price?
Camano's coffee is very reasonable, especially for high quality roasted coffee. Most of the coffees run in the $11-$13 a pound range. I'm part of The Coffee Lovers Club. It's very flexible and affordable...three pounds of coffee for around $33 (free shipping).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Calorie Worthy: Superfoods

Monthly Feature
Andrea is at it again with another Top 10 List.

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap small buildings in a single bound (and available at your local grocery store), they’re…wait for it….SUPERFOODS! (cue Superman Music)

Unless you’ve been stuck under something heavy for the past few years, you’ve likely come across an article, doctor or Jewish mother who has told you about Superfoods.

Superfoods are foods with a high phytonutrient content which offer multiple health benefits. While “Superfood” is not a legal term and some dispute claims that these foods have “healing qualities” or will make an earth shattering difference in one’s health, I say these are foods that are super healthy and delicious to eat, and I recommend incorporating them into folks’ menus. Whether I’ll live to be 147 because I ingest these Superfoods by the vat remains to be seen. Check in with me in another 42 years.

And now, without further ado:

Top 10 Superfoods and Creative Ways to Cook with Them
(The Superfoods mentioned below happen to be my favorites. I did not include all Superfoods in this list. For example: Yogurt happens to be a Superfood, but in my opinion yogurt sucks.)

10)
Broccoli- This yummy green tree is loaded with vitamins and fiber. Welcome to the
list, broccoli. My favorite way to cook broccoli is to roast it.

Toss together 1 head of broccoli with 2 Tb Extra Virgin Olive Oil, some red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 25 min at 375 degrees. When it comes out you can add some Parmesan cheese to it if you’d like.

For kids who “don’t like broccoli” or other “green things,” try a healthy version of Broccoli Cheese Soup.

Start a stock pot off on medium high heat, sweat down an onion, then add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of skim milk, bring to a boil and add 1tsp of chopped garlic and 1 tsp of dijon mustard. Turn down heat and add 2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese. (I find that low fat cheddar does not melt as well as the regular cheddar.) After cheese is incorporated into the soup, add 1 large head or 2 smaller heads of broccoli (chopped). Cover and cook on low for 20min. Then transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth.

A blended cheesy soup should please the pickiest of eaters. When I was growing up my family taught me this philosophy: “If you can melt cheese on it, you can eat it.”

9) Olive Oil- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is so freakin’ good for you. You have no idea! It’s seriously some good stuff. Don’t buy the cheapy cheap brand, spring for one that has been cold pressed, if possible. If you’re fancy, you can keep two oils on hand; a less expensive one that you cook with and a nice one that you use for dipping and for salad dressing. Now, unless you’re totally clueless, you don’t need me to give you recipes on how to use olive oil. And if you are that clueless, why are you reading a food blog?? Here’s a tip that you might not know about olive oil: it’s a wonderful deep conditioner for dry hair. Yup, no lies. Use your less expensive oil and rub it into the ends of dry hair. Your hair has to be dry; oil won’t penetrate wet hair. After the oil is added, run a hairdryer over it. The heat will open hair cuticles and allow the oil to do it’s job. Leave the oil in your hair for as long as you can stand it, then shampoo it out.

8) Whole Grains- Yawn. Yeah, whole grains can be a little boring. Whole grains give your body much more fiber and protein than their plain white counterparts. It’s worth it to switch from white rice to brown rice, regular pasta to whole wheat pasta, and your bread should be the good whole wheat kind that’s made in the bakery at your store. Make sure that what you are purchasing is not loaded with sugar. Some products say “whole wheat” on the front, but if it’s got high fructose corn syrup in it, it’s probably not the product you want. When doing grains, stick to bread, pasta, couscous, rice and quinoa, skip the donuts that have the “now made with multi grain” label. I know many are reluctant to switch to these “brown” versions of our favorite starches, but give it a try. Here’s a recipe that can help:

Boil some whole wheat spaghetti, and make sure you salt the water! Once the pasta is cooked, drain and throw back into the pot in which it was cooked. In another bowl, whisk together ¼ cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup chicken stock, 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce, and 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce. Add this mixture to the pasta and toss in some chopped cilantro and green onions, if you wish. These spicy peanut noodles are tasty and full of whole grains!

7) and 6) Oats and Berries - I am combining numbers 7 and 6, because the recipe I am going to give you uses both! Everyone knows that oatmeal, (real oatmeal, not the kind that comes in a package and is ready in 4 seconds), is good for you. Most are also aware that fruits, especially berries, are good to eat as well. Here’s a really yummy recipe for homemade granola bars that uses both oats and berries!

Take a pint of your favorite berry and cook down with a little sugar (1 tb) and some water (1/3 cup) After berries have cooked down, blend in a food processor until you have a thick jam and set aside.

Combine : 1 ¼ cups Oats, 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, 1 tsp salt, ½ baking powder, 1/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, ½ cup walnuts. Then melt 1 stick of butter and add to the mixture. In a greased baking pan, pour half of this thick and dry batter into the pan, then add the jam mixture and layer with the remaining batter. Bake for 30-35 min at 350 degrees. Let cool for about 1 hour before cutting. These granola bars make excellent morning snacks!

5) Salmon- This fatty fish has so many nutrients and omega 3s that it will forever have a place on the “Eat these foods, they’re good for you” list. Wild salmon is always going to be more expensive but also better. The farm-raised salmon doesn’t typically get as much exercise and is more often treated with hormones. Some markets sell farm raised yet hormone-free salmon, and this is generally less expensive than the wild variety.

One of my favorite salmon recipes is also super easy! Preheat your broiler. Be prepared for your kitchen to get really hot. Squeeze a lime over your piece of salmon and broil for 3 min. During these three minutes, mix together : 2 Tb honey, 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce, 1 Tb Hoisin Sauce. Take the salmon out of the broiler and spoon over the honey mixture, broil for another 4-5 min and you’re done! This salmon dish with the spicy peanut noodles makes an excellent dinner!

4) Nuts- Nuts are an excellent source of natural fat and oils. I love to throw a bunch of nuts into the food processor and use them to coat a piece of chicken or fish.

A favorite crust of mine involves combining ¼ cup nuts (either walnuts or almonds), some garlic, 1 tsp fresh fennel, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp coriander and salt and pepper into the food processor and coating a piece of salmon with the mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over the fish and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 mins. Serve with the Roasted Broccoli…Oooh, that is good!

3)
Hot Peppers- Peppers contain compounds called capsaicinoids. Capsaicinoids are compounds which have anti-inflammatory benefits. Eating peppers can also help with headaches. Hot peppers or chilis will provide you with the excellent \ benefits. The easiest way to eat a lot of chilis is to make a fresh salsa! You can also add chili into your favorite soup or chili recipe.

You could also try this spicy goat cheese dip: 1 container of fresh goat cheese (with herbs or not), 1 can of white beans, 1 hot pepper, sprig of rosemary, and ¼ cup of chicken stock. Drain and rinse the can of white beans and bring to a boil with the chicken stock. Add the sprig of rosemary (chopped). After the white beans boil, reduce the heat, add the chopped chili or hot pepper and let cook for 3 min. Then remove the pan from heat and add the goat cheese. Stir to combine goat cheese with the white beans and chili, then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.

2) Red Grapes- Red grapes contain phytochemicals that can improve cardiovascular health. They also contain vitamins C, B1 and B6. A lot of people enjoy eating grapes by the handful or drinking them by the glassful (wink wink). Here’s a creative way to devour this fruity Superfood.

Take 1 cup of red grapes, cut grapes in half, and toss into a bowl. Add ¼ cup chopped red onion, 2 Tb chopped green onion, 1 chopped jalapeno (with or without seeds), ¼ cup lime juice, and a chopped avocado. Toss together and then drizzle a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top. This red grape salsa is super with some toasted whole wheat tortillas.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for….
The number one Superfood is….

1) Green Tea- Um, Duh. Everyone knows that green teas have tons of antioxidants. Green Teas also contains polyphenols,( which may help decrease cancer, heart disease and stroke risk). Some say that drinking lots of Green Tea can help support brain health and memory. A very wise container of green tea can also do your taxes for you. It’s great stuff, but how the *$^# are we suppose to cook with it? I don’t think Green Tea Ice Cream counts as a Superfood! Well, my friends, I have found one recipe that I can share with you all which incorporates some brewed green tea. It’s a spicy lemon basil dipping sauce.

Take ½ cup brewed Green Tea, mix with: 1 Tb. honey, 2 Tb. lemon juice, 2 Tb, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a handful of chopped basil leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 chopped chili, and some salt and pepper. This sauce would be nice to dip Chicken Satay in, or to pour over any grilled chicken or fish. Now, this sauce will not give you enough green tea to receive all its health benefits. It’s recommended one have 2+ cups per day.

Well, there you have it kids. Top Ten Superfoods and creative ways to use them. Enjoy the recipes, enjoy the benefits of Superfoods. Hey, maybe you could even wear a Superman cape while you prepare these foods, that would be suuuuuuupppeeerr …Creepy, actually. Please don’t wear the cape. Just eat the foods and steer clear of kryptonite.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Finding Balance

It's Friday, and Back to Basics has been put in the basement. Fridays are now about Finding Balance.

My name is Mike and I’m a foodaholic.

I like food. A lot. But I’ve gotten to a point where some changes need to be made. I’ve never believed in doing things in moderation until recently. My motto has always been, “Go big or go home”. But lately I’ve really tried to modify my habits and change my thinking. To really understand where I’m at and to get a good barometer on my new approach, click here.

I know I need to exercise and I know I need to eat smarter. But I’m also smart enough to recognize that I can’t give up the things I love cold turkey (mmmm, turkey). Nor should I have to.

My promise to you is that I will exercise regularly, reduce my intake of fried and other generally unhealthy foods, decrease my portion sizes and eat more fruits and vegetables.

I’ll update you every week on my progress and tell you what I’ve been eating, where I’m eating out and how I’m trying to order healthier, the type and duration of exercise I’m doing, as well as how much weight I’m losing.

So, to start things off I’ll let you know that as of this entry I have lost 4 pounds since Friday, 10/8. I really haven’t eliminated any foods other than fried ones, but I have really tried to focus on portion size and when I’m eating.

I did try a new place for lunch this week, Café Pita. We ordered hummus as an appetizer (a much healthier alternative to the fried cheese that I wanted). I had a cup of Bosnian bean soup as a warm-up, and then ordered a cevap for my entrée. A cevap is basically a sandwich made with Bosnian flatbread and grilled sausages made from beef and lamb with assorted spices. Really good, but really filling – I ate a little more than half and tapped out.

So there you go - entry #1 in Finding Balance. Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I know I can’t do this by myself.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Hour: Cucumber Martini

Get ready for the weekend with a Thursday Happy Hour!

I hated cucumbers for most of my life. Then something happened. I now rather enjoy them (no phallic jokes please). I made this cucumber martini the other night as a test run. Dinner Club this weekend is vegetarian-themed. I think our club's loyal members will enjoy this drink. The cucumber definitely shines through.I also enjoyed the little mint specs that made it past the strainer. They make for a cool presentation and a wonderful taste. This drink is refreshing and potent. i wouldn't change a thing about the recipe. Nice job on the garnish...right?

http://www.drinknation.com/drink/cucumber-martini

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Unique Randomness

My random thoughts...brought to you once a week!

The 1-A Awards

This week's UR is a tribute to Chicago....aka Second City. But to me, from a culinary standpoint, it’s just 1-A. I promise this will be my last Chicago post for awhile. My H-Town people have probably had their fill. I’ve got so many more restaurant reviews but will hold off, and disperse them throughout the year. Sorry, no links this time around. Just google the restaurant for more info.

Best Meal Award
Sushi Para II
$20 for all-you-can-eat awesome sushi!!! Are you kidding me? Nope. Houston needs Sushi Para.

Best Salad Award
RoseAngeli's Insalata
Check out that picture up top. How does that look? I know...about the best d@mn salad you've ever seen.

Best Atmosphere Award

Tied: Lou Mitchell’s and Al’s
I just couldn’t choose which place had the better Chicago feel…so I didn’t.

Fat-@ss Award

Houlihan’s
The only reason I ate at this Bennigan’s-But-Worse establishment was because it was late, we had just flown in, and it was next to the hotel. Even my salad was covered with fried calamari, except it was more batter than sea creature.

Place I Felt Like I Was Going to Get Shot Award

Ada’s
Nice place, nice neighborhood. But it was eerily quiet for breakfast, and it felt like some mobster was about to cap my ass.

Everyone Knows Your Name Award
Stanley’s
This Lincoln Park neighborhood sports bar was just plain awesome. It has ruined me for all other sports bars.

Best Service Award
Al’s
Just a nice counter guy. It was important to him that we enjoyed our sandwiches.

Worst Service Award
No where
Seriously…great, friendly service everywhere.

Worst Dish Award

Houlihan’s Fried Mushrooms
I’m a bit of a fried mushroom whore. But these were obscenely bad. Too big, too cheesy, and super greasy. Eating just one decreased my life expectancy by a week…maybe more.

When in Rome Award
Hot Spot Dog
I just had to try an authentic Chicago dog. My chronic TMJ (jaw problems) had me worried about this thing…it was loaded with tomatoes, pickles, etc. I’m glad I tried one…the ingredients surprisingly worked well. And don’t get me started with the super soft poppy seed bun.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mighty Good Recipe: Best Cocktail Meatballs

Tuesdays are dedicated to bringing you a Mighty Good Recipe!

I think "best" is a strong adjective to describe these meatballs. Let's call them "very good". More importantly, these meatballs make for a quick and easy appetizer--for anything from a small gathering to a large party. I've made them several times through the years (usually during the holidays). They're always a hit. Try to prepare them the night before and just get the crock pot going a few hours before guests arrive. Watch out for size issues...try not to roll too small or too large. About a tablespoon of meat mixture will do. Break out the toothpicks and watch them go.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Best-Cocktail-Meatballs/Detail.aspx

Monday, October 11, 2010

Restaurant Review: Houston

Mondays are dedicated to bringing you a restaurant review from Houston or beyond!

Pho Sai Gon

The Scene: Pho Sai Gon is located in an nondescript strip center off Tidwell (near 290). I live five minutes away, but have only recently been a regular patron. Thu-Thu is closer to me, and has always gotten my business. Take nothing away from Thu-Thu, but Pho Sai Gon is better.

The Food: What's the appeal to Vietnamese food? Ummm, just about everything. It's inexpensive, extremely tasty, and somewhat healthy. With food, I'm all about diversification. But with this cuisine...I'm type casted. Always expect me to get an order of crispy egg rolls, fresh beef spring rolls, a vermicelli bowl and maybe a rice dish. Don't worry...that's split up between the family. Two things that really stand out about Pho Sai Gon is how incredibly fresh the vermicelli noodles taste, and the things they do to a meat I like to call beef. How do they get beef to taste so good? Their beef vermicelli bowl is a must-order...the cucumbers, sprouts, noodles, beef, and cilantro are a perfect blend of freshness. Dump in a little bucket of fish sauce, and you've got yourself the perfect meal. Speaking of fish sauce...I honestly could drink it in shot form. It's that good. Maybe I'll do a little home experiment with vodka-infused fish sauce.

The Verdict: Let's see....awesome! If you live in this area and love Vietnamese food, you will not be disappointed with Pho Sai Gon. Plus, there's ten Houston-area locations, so go find one...and order a ton of food. All the food I just mentioned came to $20. Can't beat it.

7400 W. Tidwell
Houston, TX 77040

713-462-4935
Open 7 days a week (10-9)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Carrie's Food Find: McCann's Irish Oatmeal

We're on the prowl for great products. We'll give you the skinny on one every Sunday!

What is it?
According to McCann’s, steel cut oats are the result of removing the outer husk from the oat kernel and cutting it into pieces (unlike traditional oats which are steamed and rolled). McCann’s produces regular steel cut oatmeal and this “Quick & Easy” oatmeal.

Why it’s so great?
Due to high fiber content, oats have all kinds of great health benefits…Yeah, yeah…health benefits, but does it taste good? YES! My mom turned me on to steel cut oats awhile ago and although I preferred the taste and texture, I couldn’t justify spending 25-30 minutes making oatmeal! Then, my mother-in-law introduced me to the best of both worlds. McCann’s Quick & Easy has the heartier, less slimy texture of steel cut oats in 5 minutes! Do I sound like an infomercial yet? Top with a handful of walnuts, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup and you’ll be in breakfast heaven. Also delicious with dried or fresh fruit.

Where can I buy some?
I was able to buy this locally once (Kroger), but have not found it since. Can be ordered online through several websites, including http://www.amazon.com/

What’s the price?
Grocery store - $6.99 for a 24 oz can; Amazon.com - $25.33 (and free shipping) for 6 cans

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vegetarian View: Jus Mac

Monthly Feature
Molly gives us a peek at a restaurant through the eyes of a vegetarian.


Overall Vegetarian Selection: (5) Stars
Since Jus Mac serves only macaroni and cheese, I had a pretty good notion there would be a decent selection of vegetarian menu items. Seven out of the 17 unique mac and cheese dishes were vegetarian. So many choices I had a difficult time ordering! For appetizers the menu also offered fried mac and cheese balls, fried mac and cheese rolls and mac and cheese soup. This mac and cheese soup sounds very interesting. I didn’t see anyone eating it…maybe I will get it next time.

Ordered Dish: (4) Stars
I ordered The Puebla mac and cheese which consisted of roasted poblano peppers and Swiss cheese. The dish was brought out in a mini cast iron skillet with a heaping mound of fresh bread crumbs. The Puebla is priced at $7.95 and I felt I got my money’s worth in the amount of pasta piled in. This dish was very flavorful. The Swiss cheese was a nice alternative and the roasted poblano was a perfect amount. My only gripe was the dish could have been served warmer. Don’t get me wrong, it was warm when ate it, but it could have been hotter. That would have accented the gooey cheese a bit more. Maybe I will chalk this up to new restaurant timing woes and it will be better next time. The temperature of my dish is why I gave four stars instead of five.

Healthy Rating: (1) Star
The Puebla mac and cheese dish was not healthy – at all. Actually while I was eating, I mentioned to my friend I wondered how many fat and calories were in our food and she quickly whispered back “just don’t even think about it.” Maybe I got some calcium and a little protein from the cheese? But that is about it. Now from a running standpoint the pasta is helpful but that is neither here nor there because it was pretty high in fat.

Overall Opinion: (4.5) Stars
Considering I went on day three of business during their soft opening and limited business hours, I think the place is running pretty smoothly. My disclaimer to this is Jus Mac opened at 6 pm the day I went and I was waiting in line at the door at 5:55 pm along with other mac and cheese aficionados. Because I got there right when they opened, there was not any extreme wait on my food and no parking problems either. I will say the adjacent parking lot is super small and I am not sure what area street parking is like. The building Jus Mac is in used to be a coffee house so the inside is small and seats up to 47 people.

Final Verdict: After months and months of waiting for this place to open, Jus Mac has won my heart and I will be back. I can’t wait to eat here when the weather gets “Houston cold.” What is better than warm mac and cheese on a cold, blustery day?

http://www.jusmac.com/
2617 Yale, 77008

Friday, October 8, 2010

Back to Basics: Roasted Garlic

Fridays are for the beginner cook!

Roasting garlic is simple and quite versatile. It can be spread on toasted bread, put in mashed potatoes, added to various dips...you name it. Follow these simple steps:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Take a desired number of garlic heads. Place stem side down and cut about 1/4 inch off the top. This should expose all of the garlic inside.
3. Place garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil.
4. Douse with some olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
5. Loosely wrap the garlic with the foil.
6. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool and squeeze out the garlic from the casing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy Hour: A Walk on the Moon

Get ready for the weekend with a Thursday Happy Hour.

Don't ask me how you come up with A Walk on the Moon for a drink name. I could care less about the name. Does it taste good? The answer is "yes" for this one. It's certainly an after dinner dessert cocktail. It's almost like drinking a chocolate malt. Good luck trying to detect any alcohol, but it's there. If you're a fan of the college classic Colorado Bulldog, you'll enjoy A Walk on the Moon.

http://www.drinksmixer.com/drinko12n505.html

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

He Said, They Said

Monthly Feature
Mike takes on the Houston Press with his latest restaurant review.
And speaking of burgers, when is HTownChowDown gonna get over to Leonard's so he can bump a place off his top burger list?

Little Bitty Burger Barn

First Impressions: If you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, you might miss it (the sign is tiny). Little Bitty Burger Barn is in a double-wide trailer on Pinemont, near the corner of Antoine. The inside is tiny, with probably only 6-7 tables.

The Menu: This place does burger joint food. Lots of different burgers are the obvious highlight, but they also feature chicken and steak fingers, steak sandwiches, salads and wings. A plus is that in addition to French fries and onion rings, they also offer tater tots.

What I Ordered: I got the sliders with French fries and an iced green tea.

Okay, how did it taste? Full disclosure – I’ve been to Little Bitty before, but I’d never had the sliders prior to this visit. The sliders were average looking sliders. They were dressed with onions and not much else. A little more caramelization would have been preferable, but not a big deal. The bread was done perfectly – a nice crunch on the inside and still soft on the outside. The flavor of the onions mixed very nicely with the flavor of the meat. The fries were above average – they were nicely seasoned and were slightly crispy. The iced tea was iced tea – run of the mill.

Value: Everything I ordered was $8.12. Not bad, considering I’m a big man and left full (even left a few fries…).

Overall: I give Little Bitty Burger Barn a score of 4.0 stars out of 5. Everything was done well, but nothing was spectacular (other than the buns). But it’s a good value and the owners are very nice. I’m sure I’ll be back to the Little Bitty in the future.

They Said: http://www.houstonpress.com/2008-02-21/restaurants/little-bitty-burger-barn/

5503 Pinemont
http://www.littlebittyburgerbarn.com/

Unique Randomness

My random thoughts....brought to you once a week!
  • I absolutely hate the word “uber”. People using it should be beaten with an uber big stick.
  • You know that little disc icon that's clicked when saving a file? Shouldn't it now be a USB drive?
  • I think Sugar Ray is the worst musical group in the history of the universe. Listening to even one second of Every Morning makes me nauseous. I know this is old music...I'm just saying.
  • According to a recent email I received, I am the new proud winner of the Australian Lottery. Lucky me.
  • I watched Bored to Death and East Bound and Down for the first time last Sunday. I'm now a big fan of both...plus, Boardwalk Empire is heating up.
  • Someone needs to give Alton Brown a double bacon cheeseburger. That man doesn't look well. I hope he is.
  • Watching Arian Foster run is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mighty Good Recipe: Kevin's Jambalaya

You'll get a Mighty Good Recipe every Tuesday.

I channeled Sandra Lee on this one. This recipe has that semi-homemade thing going on. But it's very easy, very quick, and can be very nutritious. Follow these easy steps:

1. Follow the directions on a box of Zatarain's Jambalaya.

2. Chop one red and green bell pepper each, a couple handfuls of okra, and a link of smoked sausage.

3. When the jambalaya starts to boil, toss in everything, along with a cup of frozen corn.

4. Place top on pot and let cook on low for 13 minutes.

There are so many things that can be substituted with this recipe. Don't like bell peppers? Add some zucchini instead. Hate okra? Throw in some mushrooms or onions.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Restaurant Review: Jerome, AZ

Mondays are dedicated to bringing you a restaurant from Houston or beyond!

The Haunted Hamburger


The Background: The Haunted Hamburger sits a mile high, atop the old copper mining town of Jerome, Arizona . The view alone makes it special, but when you factor in the beautiful now tourist town of Jerome, along with the spectacular food...you've got a memorable experience. I'm guessing the only way you'd end up in Jerome is if you were vacationing in nearby Sedona. It's about a thirty-minute drive, but is well worth it. I found out about the Haunted Hamburger from a local at the food market. Always listen to locals!

The Scene: The HH is a small restaurant, with inside/outside seating split right down the middle. A nice, cool afternoon with a great breeze made my decision easy. Like I said, the views are amazing, but a great view can only get a restaurant so far. I was here for the burger I had heard so much about.

The Food: Sara and I split a burger and fries. We weren't extremely hungry but had made it this far, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to eat. Glad I did. The burger was fantastic...a thick patty, loaded with fresh roasted green chilies and crisp bacon. The bun tasted homemade and held its form. The burger was so juicy and flavorful.

The Verdict: I may not ever make it back to the Haunted Hamburger because of its remote location, but I am so thankful to have dined there at least once. Sometimes a great setting makes really good food tastes great. I've been guilty before of letting this affect my opinion...but I really feel that HH's dynamite burger can stand on its own.

410 N Clark Street
Jerome, AZ 86331

(928) 634-0554

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Molly's Food Find: Vitacoco

We're on the prowl for great products, and you'll read about one every Sunday!

What is the product?
Vitacoco...the liquid in unripened (green) coconuts.

Why it's so great?
Served ice chilled, it's more refreshing than water. Coconut water is a natural hydrator, and it's better and healthier for you than commercial sports drinks. One container also has more potassium than two bananas.

Where can I get some?
*Whole Foods, http://www.vitacoco.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/
*Out of all the coconut water drinks, the Vitacoco brand is the most popular (because in my opinion it's the best, and yes I've done side by side taste tests of competing brands) and flies off the shelves when Whole Foods receives a shipment. You are better off ordering online most of the time.

What is the price?
Around $1.65 for a 11.2 fl oz container.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Test Kitchen: Touchdown Chili

I'll try out a new recipe every Saturday...you'll see the good and bad of it!

Description: I gotta admit...the name sold me. Sara is also allergic to beans, so I was on the lookout for a no-bean chili recipe. I love cooking chili this time of year, and it's a perfect dish to make with a few people coming over.

Recipe Difficulty (Scale of 1-10) 5
Chili is easy to make, you just need to exhibit some form of patience. In the end, it's all worth it. Once you finally get everything in the pot, it's just a matter of playing the waiting game. The longer it cooks, the better it is. I went against the directions just a bit and browned the meat and onions separately. I also pulsed the ground beef in the food processor.

Results: Awesome
I've made chili a million times and this recipe ranks near the top. The brown sugar added just enough sweetness, and the green chiles, Tabasco Sauce, and chili powder provided a nice little burn towards the back end. I will make this recipe again...probably soon. Wait for it...wait for it...this chili scores a touchdown. You knew I had to write that. Sorry!

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Touchdown-Chili/Detail.aspx

Food Find

New Weekly Feature
This will be a new weekly feature. I know it's Saturday, but Food Find will be our new Sunday post. Sorry Tip Jar...you're getting the boot. Thought I'd kick off the new feature with a great product I found last week in Chicago. Look for another Food Find tomorrow!

River Valley Kitchens
https://www.rivervalleykitchens.com/index.php

How did I find this food?
Sara and I found a farmer's market in the middle of bustling Chicago. See that picture on the left? That's what drew me in. I've got a bit of a mushroom addiction. I could eat them on just about everything...and think that I have. The friendly gentleman behind the counter told me about their mushroom farm back in Wisconsin. Sounds like a place I wouldn't mind working...they could pay me in portabellas...seriously.

What is the product?
Portabella Chili: I actually sampled this one in Chicago. And it's what hooked me on their products. This is absolutely a great, healthy alternative to a typical fatty version of chili.

Portabella Salsa with Cilantro & Key Lime:
Ahh...my two favorite things in life: mushrooms and cilantro. This is a little thicker than what most Texans would consider for salsa, but it certainly doesn't take anything away from the product. It contains jalapenos, but I didn't find it to be spicy.

Shroomschetta Mushroom Bruschetta:
The best for last. I may never make bruschetta again when I can just grab a bottle of this stuff. It's loaded with white and crimini mushrooms, but the tomato-base gives it that marvelous bruschetta taste . I put some on a turkey sandwich the other day. My god it was good!

Why it's so great?
Did I mention the mushrooms? According to their web site, mushrooms have some health value (vitamins B and D). This product is great for vegetarians or anyone who loves condiments (and more). The products are organic, low in fat, and in some cases fat free. And most importantly...they taste great. My biggest complement for this product is it's versatility. You could put any of these products on chips, sandwiches, potatoes, other vegetables...you name it.

Where can I buy some?
Online if you don't feel like driving up to the mushroom farm in Wisconsin. Don't tempt me...I might! I sampled three of their products, but they offer many more.

What's the price?
Around $5.50 for a 10 oz. bottle.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Restaurant Review: Chicago

Did you think I was done with Chicago? Think again.

Lou Mitchell's

The Background: I did some quick detective work on the computer and found Lou Mitchell's. It was about two miles from our hotel and from the looks of their web site, screamed awesome. Lou Mitchell's sits on the start of famous Route 66, claiming to have the “Best Breakfast in America” and the “World's Finest Coffee”. So much for modesty.

The Scene: LM's was bustling at 9AM on a Tuesday morning. As you walk through the door, you're greeted by a lovely hostess offering up complimentary doughnut holes. I think I may, and I think I might. The place is all Chicago...and it's great. Better not get too caught up in the ambiance. The pace is hectic and although the waitresses are friendly, they don't have time for dilly-dallying.

The Food: I get it...when places claim to have the “World's Greatest Something”, it mainly just makes for some fun conversation. That said, the coffee was excellent, especially for a diner...which is typically known for serving up weak java (east of krakatoa). I ordered the egg sandwich. Oh my...was it good! A sunny-side-up egg, melted American Cheese and fresh sausage links jammed in-between two thick slices of toasted wheat bread. It came with a side of thinly sliced potatoes. One bite into the sandwich breaks the yolk..and it's on like Donkey Kong. A little ketchup, a little egg yolk, a little potato...and there's a party on my plate. Sara ordered the strawberry-stuffed pancakes. They were fluffier than Cartman's @ss and we both agreed they were some of the best we'd ever eaten.

The Price: A little expensive for breakfast. My sandwich was $6.25, but they tacked on a $1 for the cheese (which I think is bush league). I was more than happy to pay a little extra for the memorable experience.

The Verdict: If you're visiting Chicago and crave a good breakfast, Lou Mitchell's is almost a must-go. They even do lunch...maybe next visit.

Tips: LM's gets crowded and is a cash-only place. Kids and women get free Milk Duds. No kidding.

565 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60661
http://www.loumitchellsrestaurant.com/