thursday things – wee eats san diego (again)

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HI HI HI HI HI HI HI!

Those of you who follow on Instagram know by now that FH and I took a quick trip to San Diego last week.  We rented a place on airbnb, which was a perfectly-situated adorable apartment… slightly on the major flight path of the airport (the above picture was taken standing outside the apartment). Every day I waited for the loud crashing sound of the airplane not quite clearing one of the buildings…

While our primary goal was to take care of wedding-planning things, we managed to accomplish my secondary goal of eating our faces off as well.

Seriously. So much eating.

If you’ve never been to San Diego I insist that you go – it’s basically in the 70s all year long with the only downside being the humidity which hovers around 1,000,000% at any given time. But the city is absolutely gorgeous and full of delicious foodstuffs, like these:

Cucina Urbana

We ate here the last time we visited the San Diego area, but this time we “coincidentally” ended up staying just a few short blocks away… so we ate here a few times on this trip. On top of the delicious food, I love the ambiance of this restaurant. I did learn, however, that you must make reservations. They are booked. Always. All the time. However, if you like to live on the edge (like us) and not make reservations for anywhere, you can grab a seat at the bar if one is open and still enjoy everything the menu has to offer along with friendly chit-chat from the bartenders.

Below you will see the formaggi + salumi (a sort of build-your-own charceuterie board) which comes with a pear compote, several mustards, red pepper, and some of the best honey I’ve ever tasted. Amazing. Below that is their ricotta gnudi with arrabiatta sauce which, although it only comes with five little gnudis (to be fair, it’s a “side” item) is actually rather filling. They are light, pillowy ricotta dumplings swimming in a bright and flavorful tomato sauce. Lastly, their giant meatball (also a “side” item, I was clearly feeling snacky this day). I’m a bit of a meatball snob but this meatball is pretty solid. Their pizzas are all amazing as well.

 cucina urbana antipasti gnudi meatball

Craft & Commerce

FH and I stopped in for lunch after walking 23942384 miles around the city and shared their giant panzanella salad and some french fries. Their panzanella isn’t as bread-centric as most, which I consider a plus, however I’m not sure what percentage of a salad is supposed to be bread in order for it to be officially considered a “panzanella.”

This particular salad comes topped with all of my favorite things, including pickled red onions, finely sliced salami, and feta cheese. My tummy is rumbling just thinking about it…

craft and commerce

Fun fact – even though everyone stares at me like a crazy person when I say it, “panzanella” is actually pronounced “pan-za-nell-uh’ and NOT ‘pan-za-nay-uh’. Look it up, I promise. No go forth with this knowledge and do with it what you will.

Pappalecco

pappalecco

FH and I passed by this place on our way to breakfast at Hash House and the aroma nearly took us off our course. We stopped in on the way back to our car and couldn’t resist ordering a couple lattes, a prosciutto sandwich, and an almond croissant to go.

This place has what very well may be the best latte I have ever put in my mouth. Hands down. Their almond croissant was a standard croissant split and filled with sweet almond paste and topped with sliced, sugared almonds. It was to DIE for, and their prosciutto sandwich is lightly-grilled, just enough to warm the insides, and one bite will transport you straight to Italy.

I mean, I’ve never been to Italy, but I’m assuming that’s where it was taking me…

Hash House

Hash House is pretty well-known and I’ve been to their Vegas location before but didn’t realize they had locations elsewhere in the country. The food is good but I think they are more known for their over-the-top portions. These pictures really do the food no justice because these plates are at least 12-inches in diameter… at least.

hash house french toast

FH got the french toast which is dipped in banana cinnamon cream with pecan maple syrup. It comes topped with pecans, strawberries, and roasted bananas. I got the strawberry frosted flake pancakes which are pancakes filled with, you guessed it, strawberries and Frosted Flakes. Because how many times have you been eating your pancakes and wondering why they weren’t filled with Frosted Flakes?

hash house pancake

I’m pretty sure any one menu item here could feed at least four people… just saying.  But of course you’ll never share them because there are so many options that you will want to try…

Extraordinary Desserts

This was on our list to stop at as part of our “wedding cake” investigation. I had planned to try a few flavors of cake but since we ended up here at 10:00 AM on a Sunday morning, my body wasn’t as prepared as I’d have liked it to be. We settled on trying a flavor similar to what we were considering for the wedding and grabbed a lemonade too.

We tried the Ivoire Royale which has layers of vanilla bean-soaked pound cake, whipped white chocolate ganache, fresh berries, and whipped cream.

extraordinary desserts ivoire royale

We did not feel the need to stop at any other cake shops while on our trip.

Panera

Of course we had to go to Panera.

I know that it’s a chain but whenever we leave Arizona we look for Panera. This was an obligatory stop. They did finally build a Panera here in town but a> it’s out of the way of anywhere I go, b> it’s a super tiny downtown location with a limited menu, and c> THEY DON’T SERVE BAGUETTES!!!  WTF IS THAT ABOUT, PANERA!?

panera

Anyway, it was too hot for soup but I got their strawberry poppyseed salad with a flatbread sandwich… AND A MOTHER-EFFING BAGUETTE. BECAUSE I COULD. I think I’m just super not into the bread generally used for “flatbread” anything (lavash and pita are good, anything else… no thanks) but I approved of the salad, and of course of the baguette.

Pinkberry

pinkberry

Oh Pinkberry, God of the Frozen Yogurt. Another thing we don’t have in AZ (not in Phoenix at least… how? Not sure.) I will seriously eat anything if you put that luxe chocolate topping on it – “milk chocolate crunch” is what they call it. It’s like a super creamy chocolate sauce filled with crunchy rice crisps(? maybe?)…. I’m not completely sure what is in it really. Probably crack, though, because that sh*t is addictive. I’m getting the shakes just thinking about it…

Donut Bar

donut bar

Donut Bar was the main thing on my radar pre-San-Diego. It was on my list last time but we didn’t make it to the shop because we were staying way far north up in La Jolla. I did not allow us to make the same mistake again.

Donut Bar is famous for its unique and creative donut flavors, and for being crazy busy, and for selling out of everything super early. I’m not sure if Tuesday mornings just aren’t their thing, if the rain scared everyone away, or if sweet baby Jesus was just smiling down on us from above because we saved this as our last stop and hit it first thing Tuesday morning before we left town. We mucked up the parking a bit (I saw a valet stand and urged FH to pull up to it because I forgot any of my meter change and, hello, VALET!) and it turns out if we had driven like five more feet towards our beloved donut shop we would have seen tons of free street parking. Oops.

The Strawberry Split donut was a must, with fresh berries and whipped cream sandwiched between a light and fluffy cinnamon-sugar donut. This thing is like heaven. It’s also huge, actually, all of their donuts are huge. Their yeasted donuts are probably a solid 5 or 6 inches in diameter. FH and I made a team effort to take this one down and still didn’t make it all the way through.

donut bar strawberryAnd, because sometimes you can’t choose just one… or two…. or six donuts to sample. We went for the bakers dozen, nevermind that there were only two of us.

Decisions are hard but “one of each” is easy. Unfortunately they didn’t have their “Cro-Bar” cronut, so I have yet to see what that hype is about…

donuts

In case you were wondering what $40 of donuts looks like… now you know.  bottom-left is the best apple fritter of your life, you already met the strawberry split, a super delicious salted caramel which is a raised donut topped with salted caramel glaze and a sprinkle of sea salt, and a boston cream pie donut.

Up top we have maple bacon – which is a raised donut topped with a maple glaze and, well, bacon (duh). I thought it would have a filling for some reason but it didn’t, the flavor of that donut was great though – obviously – since maple and bacon were made for each other.

None of the doughs are too sweet, which makes it much easier to consume their sugar-laden toppings.

The music note one is the “Elvis” which has banana cream filling and peanut butter glaze, the criss-cross one is a mud pie which is topped with oreo crumbs, peanut butter, and glaze. Then you see red velvet and cookie and cream cake donuts… the giant pistachio-lemon donut (which tasted mostly just like a lemon-glazed donut with a bit of pistachios sprinkled on top), then going back up the right side is a blueberry meyer lemon which was a blueberry cake donut (not much blueberry flavor going on) with a lemon glaze, an old-fashioned donut topped with a delicious vanilla bean glaze, and their famous creme brulee donut. The creme brulee is filled with vanilla cream, and topped with crunchy bruleed sugar. I thought this one would be my favorite but I found the filling to be too sweet and tasted almost just like powdered sugar to me. /Shrug.

Strawberry split was definitely my favorite, the apple fritter and old fashioned were close behind.

Because these came home with us, I had to make sure to take the utmost care on the trip home to ensure their safety. They had a buffer zone around them to ensure they wouldn’t be squished and since they were my babies I made sure to buckle them in nice and snug.

seatbelt

FH definitely judged me.

thursday things – how to shuck corn in the microwave, how to remove grease stains, and a hedgehog’s birthday party

pusheen ice cream

Happy Thursday~ It is extra happy for me because I’M GOING ON VACATION THIS WEEKEND!!!

We are fleeing the oppressive 100+ degree heat and suffocating 50% humidity of Phoenix’s monsoon season for the cool 70 degrees and ocean breeze of San Diego. Can’t wait.

Meanwhile, The internet…

Earned over $40k for this guy to make potato salad

Taught me how to shuck corn in the microwave

Explained why some of you hate cilantro (with science!)

Reminded me of my love for goats

TheKitchn taught me how to remove those pesky grease stains (since I refuse to wear an apron for some reason).

Food52 helps me learn how to pit stone fruit so that I can stop buying it pre-sliced (aren’t they nice?)

And remember that hamster with the burrito? Well, they just celebrated his hedgehog friend’s birthday.

 

You’re welcome.

 

 

cranberry-pistachio icebox cookies

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Ok, now that you’ve endured weeks of healthful meals from me, I thought I would reward you with some cookies.

These crumbly sables combine salty pistachios and tart cranberries which just happen to pair perfectly with the sweet, buttery cookies. Oh, and then I rolled them in big chunks of decorative sugar for some sparkle and crunch. Because who doesn’t love sparkles – especially when you can eat them and be sparkly on the inside! (It IS what’s inside that counts, right?)

I first made these cookies around the holidays and tucked them away into the freezer so they would be ready for when the holidays rolled around.  I had every intention of sending them out with my Christmas cookies but there were… technical difficulties.

Mostly that I ate them.

And while, yes, the red berries and pale green pistachios were super cute when I first made these for Christmas cookies, no one will complain about consuming them during a non-Christmas time of year.  Not to mention they are ice-box cookies, which means even if you make them around the holidays and stuff them (tightly-wrapped) in the freezer, they will still be every bit as delicious once July rolls around… :)

cranberry pistachio cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 38 minutes

Yield: Appx 24 cookies

Ingredients

    For the cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • For baking
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)

Instructions

    Make the cookies
  1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and orange zest at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add flour mixture in 2 batches and mix on low, just until the dough comes together in clumps, then add pistachios and cranberries. Mix just a few moments longer to combine.
  3. Pour dough onto a lightly-floured surface and press together into a single mass. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, then form each half of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours. (Or you can freeze the logs until you are ready to bake them)
  4. Bake the cookies
  5. If from frozen, let cookies set out about 30 minutes. If from refrigerated, no need to let them sit.
  6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. If baking both sheets at once, put racks in upper and lower third of oven, if only baking one at a time you can leave the rack in the middle.
  7. Beat the egg and pour sugar into a shallow dish long enough to roll the log in (I used a paper plate).
  8. Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends) and press bars into sugar, coating well.
  9. Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (It may be crumbly, just smoosh the cookies back together).
  10. Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets and bake until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total.

Notes

Recipe source: Gourmet, December 2006

http://wee-eats.com/2014/07/09/cranberry-pistachio-icebox-cookies/

 cranberry pistachio icebox cookies | wee-eats.com

thursday things – life after whole30, new kitchen gadgets, and a 4th of july recipe round-up

I DID IT! I SURVIVED THE WHOLE 30!

From now on my desserts will look like these “croNOTS” - made from donut-shaped apple slices and healthy toppings like almond butter and yogurt!

Just kidding.

W30 was fun, and I learned some things about myself and the food I eat, but I’m happy to be able to say ‘yes’ again to things like quinoa, and rice, and peanut butter, and cake.

And these:

reeses oreo pkg

Much to everyone’s surprise (especially my own) I haven’t actually had either chocolate OR peanut butter since I finished the diet, which means I’ve officially achieved a lifetime record of going over one month without either of them!

I haven’t cracked these beauties open yet because I’m afraid that, after all that healthy crap I’ve been eating, they will just taste like pure sugar and chemicals… So I’ve decided to give my taste-buds a week or two to adjust to the real world before I break them open.

After that, MURDER.  May god have mercy on their delicious cookie souls.

Fruit season is upon us and since we’ve been demolishing fruit like its nobody’s business (FH has a serious rainier cherry addiction, if they didn’t have such a short season I may be more concerned). We decided to enhance the speed at which we can inhale our sweet treats by making two new friends: Professor Hullsworth and his less distinguished counterpart Pitts (he likes to pit cherries).

gadgets

I’m more of a minimalist really so for the past few years I’ve been convincing myself that these were unnecessary kitchen items and a waste of money. After about a week of owning them I am happy to say that they may actually be my two favorite kitchen gadgets. Maybe I really DO need that apple-corer after all…

Meanwhile on the internet…

This guy totally wasted his free pet owl by throwing it outside.

Wit and Vinegar made the donuts of my dreams

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Eater began its own cookbook review column ….

We uncovered the truth about cookie butter

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TheKitchn introduced us to the future of food packaging …

Japan again shows us that they are superior in every way by creating a penguin GPS app

And my froyo dreams are finally coming true with the creation of an automatic froyo dispenser (with an awesome f*cking name – THE FROBOT!). At the low, low price of 30K I don’t know how I can NOT invest in one, really…

Finally, with our country’s day of independence just around the corner, who would I be to rob you of a RECIPE ROUNDUP?

4th of July Recipe Round-up

Appetizers

Halloumi cheese bites from A Periodic Table (via Feast Magazine)

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These itty bitty cute caprese bites (add more bits of tomato and cheese and turn them into caprese skewers!)

Pass the Sushi‘s Huli-Huli bacon chicken bites

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Herbed cream-cheese avocado canapes from Natasha’s Kitchen

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Mains

Emma Magazine’s BBQ Meatball Sandwiches with Peach Slaw

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SkinnyTaste’s BBQ shrimp skewers

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 Grilled garlic-basil chicken breasts from yours truly

Slow cooker pulled pork from Kitchen Mason 

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Pioneer Woman’s oven-barbecued chicken

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Or give these 5-chili turkey burgers a try

Sides

Movita Beacoup‘s potato salad

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Herbed quinoa garden salad from Pinch of Yum

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Foolproof Living’s watermelon, avocado, and mint salad with feta

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Fresh sweet corn salad from Our Best Bites

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Desserts

How about a super easy s’mores icebox cake?

Or, if you’re feeling extra motivated, you can make this American Flag Cake from Food52

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Or, slightly less taxing, are these roasted berry napoleons from My Baking Addiction

roastedberrynapoleons

How about these delectable peanut butter s’mores bars from Just a Taste?

oven-smores-bar-recipe

Drinks

Bomb Pop Shots from A Beautiful Mess

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These super easy watermelon margaritas from yours truly

watermelon margarita 1330

This refreshing (alcohol-free) strawberry-basil soda from Striped Spatula

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stuffed peppers

stuffed pepper wee-eats.com

I DID IT! I SURVIVED THE WHOLE 30!

And to celebrate, I saved the best (recipe) for last. This recipe was by far the FH’s favorite Whole30 recipe. In fact, I just made a huge batch of the filling so that we could enjoy these stuffed peppers later this week, even though we aren’t even on the diet anymore!

To make this “W-30 compliant”, I used cauliflower “rice” instead of real rice. These are super delicious as-is, but if you feel like that’s not something you’re into, feel free to replace the cauliflower with cooked rice or quinoa (or orzo, any grain of your choice).  I also recommend topping these with cheese, which I may very well do later this week now that I’m allowed to have cheese again. (Hi, cheese!)

As another bonus, this recipe makes a ton of filling. A ton.

So, if you don’t feel like eating 6 stuffed peppers today, you can make a couple peppers tonight and freeze the rest of the filling for your future self. You know that one, the one who comes home late and has no time to make dinner… yeah, that one!  Or you can make the whole recipe and eat them throughout the week – the leftovers reheat great in the microwave. Just pop them in the microwaved (covered, of course, otherwise you may anger your household microwave-cleaner) for about 2 minutes and Voila – just as good as new!

stuffed peppers

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1 stuffed pepper half

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 pound (1 medium head) cauliflower, riced
  • 4 large bell peppers, halved with seeds and stems removed
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (I really liked this one )
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

    For the peppers:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Place two halves of a pepper, cut side up, onto a microwave-safe plate and cover with wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes until just starting to soften. Repeat with remaining halves of peppers; set aside until ready to fill.
  3. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  4. For the filling:
  5. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef or turkey with a generous pinch of salt until well-browned.
  6. Meanwhile, finely chop one of the bell peppers. Add onions and chopped bell pepper to ground meat and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir to prevent burning. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
  7. Add half to 3/4 of the cauliflower "rice" (it should make up about half of your total mixture) and another pinch of salt. Add chicken broth and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Reduce heat to medium and cover loosely with foil to allow cauliflower to steam. Cook about five minutes then stir again. Continue to cook another 5 minutes uncovered, allowing any remaining liquid to cook off, stirring occasionally.
  9. Reduce heat to low and add about a half jar of tomato sauce (just enough to moisten the mixture) along with the parsley, basil, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let simmer about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Assembling the peppers
  11. Place peppers cut-side-up into baking dish. Fill with meat and cauliflower mixture. Top with more tomato sauce and cheese, if desired.
  12. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes* until peppers are tender.
  13. * If baking from chilled, bake covered for 30 minutes then uncovered for the last 10 minutes.

Notes

Feel free to use cooked rice, quinoa, orzo (or any grain you like!) in place of the cauilflower - I made this for the Whole 30 where grains were outlawed so I wasn't allowed to.

Also outlawed on the Whole 30 was cheese, but these would be even better with a bit of mozzarella, fontina, or provolone mixed in (and on top).

http://wee-eats.com/2014/07/01/whole-30-grain-free-stuffed-peppers/