Monday, February 28, 2011

Zoya: Sabrina

On days like today when I have a lot of calls to followup on, doing my nails while on the phone is mandatory for my sanity.  My customers like to babble so it allows me plenty of time to paint and wait for my nails to dry.  This week I used Zoya's Sabrina with Konad's Black for the stars.  This color looks very similar to what I've been searching for to duplicate OPI's Bubble Bath that Giada De Laurentiis always wears.  The problem with this nail polish though is that it is so sheer that to get this pigmentation I needed four coats.  Four coats!  So far I don't enjoy the Zoya nail polish formula because it is thin, but I did like that it didn't get streaky like a lot of lightly pigmented polishes get without a base coat.


No Flash

Smoked Swiss Turkey Burgers with Eggplant

Last night I made turkey burgers with homemade fries.  I didn't think that burgers and fries would take very long, but from start to finish it took me three hours to make.  I need to start learning to do stuff the Sandra Lee "semi-homemade" way.  I was doing everything off the top of my head so my mom couldn't really lend a hand.  Plus she was tired and deserved to kick back and relax.  What took the longest was getting the burgers cooked.  Originally I wanted to make the burgers double patties, but since they were so big we wouldn't have been able to eat it all.  If I would have decided this beforehand it wouldn't have taken me so long.  I also wanted to make sure that they were fully cooked.  If it were beef I wouldn't be so worried, but since these little guys could have salmonela, I wanted to make sure that they were fully cooked even if that risked them being dry. 

I haven't posted my recipe for fries yet because they haven't been perfected.  This was my first try at homemade fries in the oven and they were just passable.  My mom suggested that I parboil them next time so that they are cooked all the way through before I put them in the oven.  This time some of them were very crispy on the outside and raw in the center or they were well cooked.  I will have to keep experimenting. 


Smoked Swiss Turkey Burger with eggplant 

8 servings 
3 lb ground turkey 
2 tbsp sage, minced 
4 tbsp Italian cilantro, minced 
2eggs, scrambled 
salt and pepper to taste 
1 block smoked swiss, thinly sliced 

1 eggplant, thinly sliced 
3 tbsp EVOO 
Salt and pepper to taste 

1 onion, thinly sliced 
5 mushrooms, thinly sliced 

Optional Ingredients: 
tomato, sliced 

Mix of the hamburger components except for the cheese in a large bowl.  When assembling burgers, make a small patty, place two to four slices of cheese on patty and then cover with more meat mixture.  Make a small divot in the center of the burger.  Sear burgers over medium heat in a nonstick frying pan and cover. Reduce heat to low.  You can also do this on a grill.  Cook until burgers feel firm in the middle. 

For eggplant: Drizzle EVOO over eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  After burgers are completed, add more EVOO to pan.  Pan fry eggplant slices until they are no longer spongy and white.   

For mushrooms and onions: Once eggplant is finished add more EVOO to pan.  Sautee  mushrooms and onions to desired consistency.   

Assemble burgers with desired condiments.  



Friday, February 25, 2011

Infinity Scarves: Leopard Print

This time I tried ironing the seam so that it would be easier for me to work with.  I also found that if I sewed together the end that I was going to shove into the "neat" end that it was much easier to work with.  Look how much I've improved already!



Infinity Scarves

A few weeks ago I had been watching a makeup video and the gal was showing her infinity scarves.  Juni had actually sent me one from China, but since it is knit it is super puffy and way too big for California climate.  It would have been perfect for NY.  I thought that the scarf the gal on youtube was showing looked nice.  It had a vintage feel to it with large runs in the knitting that were purposely put there.  I thought it was really nice until she said the price.  $80 smack-a-roos.  That is crazy.  There is no way I will ever buy a scarf for $80.  I checked on Amazon and saw that they had different brands for around $15.  I didn't think that was bad, but the scarves are so simple that I got the notion in my head that I could make them much more inexpensively.  I set out to find out how to make them and came across this blog called Homemade Mama.  They had simple instructions on how to make the scarves.

The next day I went out to Joann's to buy some fabric.  Now I know why not many people make their clothes anymore.  The fabric was way more expensive than I anticipated.  I almost walked out of the store without anything, but then decided that it would be a good project.  In classic Allison fashion, I went overboard in shopping.  The logical thing to do was to buy one piece of fabric to try it out.  Did I do that?  Of course not.  Not only did I not buy just one piece, I bought three.  The total tab came out to be around $52.  At least all of the fabric was on sale.  Plus they were having a big sale on their scrapbooking stickers so I had to partake in that too.  Out the door I ended up spending $72.72 with a total savings of $31.72 (says the bottom of my receipt).  I could have saved $57.72 if I just bought the $15 scarf from Amazon, but that is irrelevant now.  That was the first night of my project...just getting the material.

It took me another week to even pull the fabric out of the bag.  I am a terrible seamstress and felt overwhelmed by the thought of messing up the fabric that cost me $50 and possibly my pride.  Finally, I managed to muster up the courage to start making the scarves.  I was pleasantly surprised when I cut and pinned my fabric to find that each piece makes two scarves.  I thought to myself, well this is great because I can get two scarves for about the same amount that I would have spent on one scarf from Amazon since they averaged about $17 per cut.  I could make the scarves for about $8.50, which isn't bad at all.  I was feeling much better about making scarves after this realization.  But the kicker is, why do I need two of the same scarf? I decided that I would make scarves for my friends instead of letting the rest of the fabric sit around and collect dust.  Linda claimed one and I have the other two in mind for Bonnie and Abby...that is if they turn out well enough to give to them.  We will just have to make sure to coordinate and not wear them on the same day.

After pinning the fabric, I got the sewing machine out but didn't know how to thread it or where the extra bobbins were.  My mom was busy making dinner so I didn't want to ask her while she was doing that.  Another week went by before I actually sat down to try to thread the machine.  Last night I finally looked at the instructions on how to thread the sewing machine and was able to get it working.  I was feeling pretty confident after I did my one straight line to connect the piece of fabric.  Then came the tricky part.  I had to connect the two ends to make a circle.  On one side it looked okay, but the other did not.  The fabric is also very stretchy so you can see at the seam where it was puckering.  It is easy to hide, but for the next one my mom gave me some tips on how to reduce the puckering.  Hopefully it works!  Stay tuned for the next few scarves I make.  I didn't want to do them all last night incase I messed one up.  I was feeling quite pleased with myself and didn't want to press my luck.  My plan for now is to complete my other two scarves to practice on and I'm hoping by then I'll have it down and the remaining three will look good enough for me to give away.

This is the finished product.  Sorry that it's a little blurry but I was having a hard time getting the whole thing in the frame and holding the camera still by myself.
This is how it looks on.  Just ignore my sweats and imagine it with real clothes.

Okay, so this seam isn't so bad.  It puckers, but is generally pretty straight and pretty good for my sewing skills. 

This is the other side.  Obviously I couldn't see the underside while sewing so the top is pretty straight, but this side clearly suffered from my lack of skills.  If you look on the left hand side you can see a little triangle of piled fabric.  When I was done sewing I had a little wing of extra fabric even though when I first pinned the ends together it wasn't there.  (Told you I'm a terrible seamstress.) I think this was a result of the fabric stretching and being pulled unnaturally.  I folded it over and sewed it into the scarf so that it wouldn't stick out.  Thankfully the Jersey Knit is very forgiving and you can't tell at all that I messed up.  I just put the ugly seam behind my neck with this side facing down. 

These are the other two fabrics I got.  Linda said that she liked the cheetah and I thought that Bonnie would really like the black and white.  I figured that since Abby wears a lot of solid colors that the black one would be best to give her.  Plus, I rarely see her wearing scarves so black is probably the safest option of the three to give her.   Haha I've actually put a lot of thought into who gets what based on personality and preferences.   Abby, if you're reading this, I'll try much harder to make the seams better, but you might have to turn a blind eye to how crooked they are!


This fabric is more like a linen, but I think that it will hang nicely. 

I know that I'm being overly ambitious, but I was telling my mom that if these turn out well and I can make them look professionally made that I can start making them and sell them on  We'll have to see how that turns out, but people are already selling them on there so it's worth a shot.  I just need to get my seams straight before any of that happens!  She also suggested that I make a nice warm one for my grandma since you can wrap this type of scarf up in many different fashions.  I don't know about that.  My grandma was a seamstress for most of her life and would laugh at my sorry attempt at sewing, but I guess it is the thought that counts. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Konad Nail Polish

At first I was hesitant to purchase any of the Konad special nail polish because you can only use it for the templates.  The polish is much thicker than regular brands and can't be worn directly on the nails otherwise it won't dry.  I didn't want to waste $7 on nail polish is a unitasker when my regular nail polishes worked well with the stamp and templates.  I did, however, break down and purchase a black and white polish a couple of weeks ago. The Sally Hansen's French Tip nail polish I was trying to use wasn't working very well in conjunction to the template.  Now that I have finally bought it, I really like it.  I dries instantly and gives a nice bold color to my stamp.  I did notice when using the regular polish that the lines weren't as crisp as they showed in their advertisements.  Somehow this polish gives nice crisp lines and looks almost like a decal.  The best part is that it doesn't streak.  I had noted this before in previous posts that when you put your top coat on the design will streak a bit because of the regular polish.  That was really a pain for me because I would spend a long time getting the stamping the way I wanted and then it would get streaky.  With the Konad polish there is no streaking!  For now I'm going to stick with the black and white, but I think I might be purchasing a purple in the near future.   They have so many colors to choose from.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Samsung Captivate: After Playtime Review

I love this phone.  There are still times when I say, "What just happened? Why is it buzzing at me?  How do I make the sounds go off?" but now I know why so many people practically have their phones glued to their hands...and not their ears.  The Captivate is awesome.  It is basically a mini computer that I can stick in my back pocket.  Well, sort of.  That is one of the major downsides for me.  It is so huge.  I feel like I'm holding a small notepad in my hand and definitely have to use two hands to navigate around.  Just in Nick's car alone I dropped it twice on our way to SF for the weekend.  I got a skin for it that has a little bit of grip, which helps a lot.  Other than that, this is a piece of technology I'm glad I finally bought into.  For as much as I complain about AT&T's service, there are some pretty cool features on here that I'm impressed that they are just giving away and not charging outrageous prices for.  Don't get me wrong, there are still a few built in applications on here that are on a pay-by-usage basis, but they must be pretty outstanding if you have to pay for them.  Here are a few features that I really like.  A/N: I am a new Smartphone user so other phones may have already done this, but I'm still in awe.

  • Navigation: This app comes on the phone and is totally free.  It basically turns my phone into a GPS.  It talks to me and everything!  I can view the directions in a list or the map and the recalculating/rerouting is really fast.  It also works hand-in-hand with Google Maps, which is useful.
    • Talk-to-text: I have had the phone for a week and I'm already getting too lazy to text.  All I have to do is talk into the microphone and it will translate my voice into a text that I can send.  This also works if I want to do a general Google search.  I can press the Google bar that is on my home page and say "Chicken recipes" and it will pop up with all the top links on Google as if you typed it into your search bar.  This feature is particularly handy for the Navigation app, as I can say my destination and it will find it for me and start routing me to the place. 
      • The downside:  You have to speak semi-slowly and enunciate very well otherwise it will make mistakes. 
    • TV Out:  The hole at the top that looks like a standard headphone jack is also a TV-out jack. This is function is one that I'm still squealing and happy dancing over.  All I had to do was purchase an RCA adapter cable for $10 on Amazon and I can watch movies from my phone on our TV.  Now, I know that you are probably thinking, well that's no big deal.  Most TVs nowadays come with USB and HDMI ports galore.  However, I live in a Chinese household and our family TV is pretty out of date and was purchased years before I had even heard the acronym HDMI.  So for me to be able to watch movies and TV shows from my phone with a simple red, white, and yellow cord, I'm ecstatic.  We have always had a problem in our family that my dad will want to watch a movie and Christopher and I will say, okay we'll download it. But then we can't get it onto a DVD because we don't have the programs on our computers to burn .mkv's and .avi's.  As a result, my dad never gets to watch the movies he wants.  Now, all I have to do is load the movie or show onto my phone, plug it in, and ta-da!  Movies!
      • The downside: It really does drain the battery on the phone, but luckily for me, we have a power outlet nearby so that I can have my phone plugged in.  Another downside, minor albeit but it is a downside, is that the cord for the RCA adapter is too short for me to be able to pause and start my videos easily from the sofa. 
    • Charger cable: The man at the AT&T store who sold us our phones told us that AT&T is trying to standardize their power cables.  This phone is included in that it uses a mini usb to charge.  This is great because that means that I can charge my phone through my computer, which saves me from bringing clunky chargers with me when I travel.  It also means that I can use any mini usb charger.  I've been able to use my Kindle charger to charge my phone and vice versa.  Also an added bonus, if AT&T is really moving to standardize power cords, that means that I won't have to buy anymore car chargers.  I've always hated how after I upgrade my phone I'm left with useless car chargers.  I stopped buying them after a while because I rarely use them anyway.
    • Expandable Data:  There is a Mini SD card slot in the back of the phone.  My blue phone had this too, but now it is actually useful.  Christopher bought himself a 32gb Mini SD for all his music, but I think I will stick with my 4gb.  The phone has the capabilities of being expanded to 128gbs but the largest Mini SD cards on the market right now are the 32gbs.  I have read that sometime in the near future Mini SD cards will be able to hold 2tb of info.  That's a lot of memory. 
    • Feeds and Updates:  This feature comes standard on every Captivate and you can chose to turn it on or off.  I have mine on.  I also signed up for a Twitter account just for these feeds.  I had been considering subscribing to an US Weekly or People, but now with my new Twitter account and feeds on my phone I can just follow Access Hollywood and save some money.
    • Camera: The camera on this phone is so much better than on my little blue one.  Now I can take pictures on the go for my blog without them looking horrible.  The camera also shoots video in HD, which I thought was pretty neat.
      • The downside:  Unlike the iPhone4, the camera doesn't have a flash.  The flash on the iPhone is pretty darn bright, and it would have been nice if that was included in this phone too.
    • Display:  All the reviews I've watched and read and people in-the-know whom I've talked to alway gush about the display.  I do have to admit that it is pretty impressive.  It is much bigger than the iPhone4, but since I'm not a game player and rarely watch movies or shows on the actual phone, I don't think I appreciate it as much as some.  The colors are really nice and the Navigation app is really easy to see on it though.  The AT&T guy was boasting about how the screen is made of Gorilla Glass and wouldn't get scratched easily.  I bought a screen cover anyway because I didn't believe him.  Plus, I had no idea what Gorrilla Glass was until Nick told me. Hey, I'm a girl.  Ask me about what nail polish brand I think is best and I'll tell you.  
      • The downside:  It makes the phone huge! ...Which I will stop complaining about now because it's not going to make the phone any smaller.
    • Tons of Apps:  I have already downloaded more apps than I know what to do with and there are still so many out there. 
      • The downside:  So far I have managed to stick with free apps, but I'm sure somewhere down the road I'll be spending plenty of money on apps for this phone.  
    Welp, I think I'm all talked out about this phone.  If I took a break I could probably come back and sing more praises, but for now this is all.  At first it was a little difficult for me to adapt to this phone, but Nick and Christopher ensured me that it really is quite user friendly and that I'm just not used to Smartphones. I was also worried that we wouldn't be able to hook our phones up to our macs, but with a little forum searching I was able to figure it out easily enough.  I highly recommend this phone to anyone who is ready to upgrade. 

    La Folie

    Nick said that La Folie was one of the best places that he had ever eaten at, which is saying a lot because his family eats at some pretty nice places.  Score for me!  We know how they earned their Michelin star now.  This post will be mostly pictures and very little babbling.  The photo quality isn't quiet there because we didn't want to use our flashes in the restaurant, but you can still see how pretty the food is.  I tried to lighten the pictures so that you can actually see what is on our plates so hopefully I didn't totally ruin and overexpose the pictures.  I'm terrible at editing photos.

    We wanted to take a picture in our fancy duds.  The doorman asked us if we wanted him to take a picture, but it was too cold down there and I didn't want to take off my jacket.  Hehe.

    These are two salmon pops that were a "gift" from the chef since it was our first time dining a La Folie.  Before this we also had little appetizers of lobster, which Nick didn't eat because he is allergic, and soft boiled eggs with cream and toast.  Oh man, those eggs were something else.  So delicious!  Unfortunately we were so engrossed with out food that we forgot to take pictures of that. 

    We decided to live it up and each get a five-course meal.  We did pretty well picture-wise, but I think there are a couple of courses missing.  It was nice because you could interchange what you wanted to eat.  If you didn't want something from the soup/salad course you could order a second item from the appetizer menu.  This is what I did.  I did take a picture of the menu, but the words are too small to read exactly what is in each dish.  Luckily, I know how to do basic conversions on my computer and was able to change their pdf menu into a jpg so I can put it as a picture on this post.


    Nick: Burgundy Snails in bone marrow gratin
    Nick: Triple T Ranch Tempura duck egg on sweetbreads pancake

    Allison: Goat cheese tatin

    Allison: Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

    Better picture of the two parts to the Foie Gras...also known as a heart attack on plate.  Can you believe that some poor little duck was fed so much that its liver got this big?

    Nick: Butterfish on asparagus (the night's special)

    Allison: Butter poached lobster over pumpkin ravioli
    This was my least favorite dish because I wasn't fond of the pumpkin.

    Nick: Duck breast with duck tongue.

    Allison: Roasted rack of lamb

    Allison: Artisan three cheese plate

    Nick got the Creme Brulee cake, but I think by then we had consumed enough champagne to remember to take a picture of it.  We brought our own bottle of Mumm's Demi Sec and finished the whole thing.  We didn't want to waste it!  I was pretty impressed when woman corking our bottle immediately noted that she rarely sees the Demi Sec.  I was like "Wow!  This gal knows her stuff!"  because it is not sold in stores and only at the winery.  I just hope we tipped enough at the end of the night because our servers were extremely nice and very helpful.  

    If you would like to spend a small fortune for some really good food, I highly recommend La Folie.

    At the Argonaut

    As I'm sure you all know by now, any little holiday or event (even if it's a silly Hallmark holiday) Nick and I try to make the most of it.  For example, [tangent alert!] in just a couple of weekends we are going to be going to Monterey on a family excursion.  Nick and I have plans to go to the beach to play with Emmy and have oysters in Carmel while everyone else is at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  That way we won't feel rushed because Emmy is sitting in the car waiting for us.  We also were just there in October during our anniversary stay and had been to the Seattle Aquarium in August, so we figured we could skip it this time and play with Emmy instead.  Plus, no one in our family really likes oysters so they wouldn't want to go to the oyster bar with us anyway.  I have also made us a reservation at the Monterey Fish House, which I'm very excited about.  It's a little pricier than what my family is used to, but they agreed to splurge since we haven't been on a family outing in a while.

    Back to the task at hand.  As mentioned in a previous post, for Valentine's this year Nick booked a room at the Argonaut on Fisherman's Wharf and I got us a reservation at La Folie.  As promised, I did take pictures of the room we stayed in before we messed it all up with our stuff.  I am also going to make a separate post for La Folie since we remembered to take pictures of most of the dishes that were brought out.

    The whole hotel is very patriotic.  I didn't take a picture, but against the brick wall with the window is a large metal beam on the floor like what you would see at the edge of a ship.  I thought the detailing was great, but had to be sure not to stub my toes when looking out the window.


    This sofa was surprisingly comfy and I liked how the room was set up like a little house.  There is a tv directly in front of the sofa, though we turned the tv because we were being lazy and wanted to watch it from the bed. 


    Between 5:00-6:00pm they have complimentary wine tasting in the lobby.  The wine wasn't that great, but hey, it was free!

    The view from our room after it stopped raining.

    We started out for San Francisco around 11am so that we could make it there for lunch.  I was so miserable when we were walking around looking for Taco's Sandwiches because of the rain, but by the time we parked and got ourselves into the hotel I was feeling less grumpy, but very food coma-y.  The bed looked mighty comfy when we walked in, but Nick had asked me to take the champagne out of his bag.  I took them out, put them on the desk and started to ask him if we should get some ice.  When I turned around he had his phone up taking a video of me.

    Me: What are you doing?
    Nick: *giggle giggle*
    Me: What?
    Nick: Look in the bag.
    Me: Is that Christmas wrapping?
    Nick: *giggle giggle*

    He got me a Kindle!  A while back he had lead on that he was going to get me one, but then I thought he decided against it because he didn't say much about it afterwards and told me not to get one for myself until after I bought my phone.  There it was all wrapped up in Christmas wrap and I didn't notice it.  It was surprising because Nick never wraps presents, it being a waste of paper and all.  I had been going back and forth on getting one for a while since I didn't think that he was going to get me one, but decided to take his advice and get my phone first.  I'm glad I waited!  Apparently everyone knew he was getting me a Kindle but me.  He was able to keep a secret!  I also wasn't sure if I wanted it because I know that this, and other similar products, are running book stores out of business.  My dream of being a book publisher died a long time ago, but I still don't want to see the printed book disappear!  Oh well, I have one now and love it!

    I'm still learning how to use the Kindle, but I really enjoy it so far.  Putting books on it was so easy I started to load more books than I could possibly handle at once on. I'm just a little confused as to how the numbering of pages and searching works.  It doesn't have the normal page numbers like a book, but something called "Locations" instead.  The problem with the Locations is that every time I "turn" the page the location changes, but it's not in sequential order.  I will have to look into this more because I find it very confusing.  Maybe I should read the manual.

    All the books I so easily downloaded are public domain books.  It's great because if I don't like what I'm reading I can just delete it without feeling guilty about it.  Right now I'm reading Love and Friendship by Jane Austen, which is a series of letters.  A big problem that I'm running into is that a lot of the books that I want to read I already have on my bookshelf but haven't read yet.  I don't want to not use my new toy, but I also don't want to repurchase a book that I have already bought once.  I will still continue to buy books even though I have the nifty Kindle.  I just love the smell of books too much to stop buying them.


    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Makeup Kit for Briana

    I was honored and a little apprehensive when Briana asked me to help her do her makeup for her Senior Ball in April.  She knows that I love watching makeup videos on Youtube and that I own a small drugstore's worth of makeup products.  I'm just not that great at applying it.  Like I've said before, I always apply it thinking that it looks great and then I see myself in pictures and go, Whoa!  I told her that I would love to help her, but we need to practice beforehand so that she doesn't go walking into her ball looking like a tall clown.

    To start her off, I made her a little makeup kit of things that I thought were essential to makeup wearing and were also things that shouldn't be passed from person to person.  Many of these things are my personal favorites and are my own everyday makeup bag.  This is what I gave her:

    This is my favorite mascara.  It turns out it's Briana's too!

    I got these little testers at Sally Beauty Supply.  I thought they were perfect for her to put in a clutch while at ball.

    I got her this in Black Brown

    I love this L'oreal Hip brown gel liner and wear it almost everyday if I'm going out.  Usually it's $13.50, but I got it on sale for $3.25.  I don't care for the brush that comes with it so I had to buy a separate brush at Target, but I will review that in another post. 

    I have also found that blush does wonders so I added a Cover Girl brick to the bag.

    I have plenty of eye shadows so we will be working with mine, but I figured these things were pretty essential for a nice everyday look.  We've already tried a couple of looks and plan to do some more soon so that we are fully prepared for the big day. Plus it's just fun to play around with makeup!

    Finger Paints: Honey Handbag

    This week I wanted to go for something simple after spending so long on the French Tips.  The French Tips were nice, but the Konad White was thin so it chipped easily and I ended up taking it off on Sunday.  I plan to review the Konad polish sometime this week so stay tuned.  I also really can't stand my nails being so long so I had to cut them off before I could really enjoy the French Tip style for my normal week long wear.

    I used Finger Paints' Honey Handbag that I got in the clearance bucket at Sally's Beauty Supply.  I've been very into browns lately, and this certainly fits the bill.  In the bottle it kind of looks like a "blah" color to me, but I like it much better when it's on my nails.  I also understand the name of the color as well.  You can kind of see it in the picture, but in person this color really does look like a light brown colored leather purse.  It has a nice pinkish undertone to it too, which I enjoy very much.  The best way I can think to describe the color is like a strawberry brown color horse.  For $2.00 I really like it, though I'm still mourning the loss of that gorgeous purple.


    No Flash

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Taco's Sandwiches

    To start our weekend Nick and I hunted down this little place on 6th St. between Market and Mission called Taco's Sandwiches.  Nick's sister had worked with Taco when he was the head chef at the Nordstrom's cafe so she told us to try out his place while we where having our weekend in the City.  I was not very pleased that we had to tromp around in the pouring rain, but after we tried Taco's sandwiches, it was so worth it.  I was even inspired to write my first ever review on   Sometimes I think I should start writing food porn. I have pasted my entry below under the pictures of our delicious sandwiches.  Nick better watch out otherwise he's going to have a heffer on his hands.

    For some reason I can't get this to rotate the way I want it, but this is my Philly Cheese Steak.

    Nick's Blackened Fish Po' Boy

    Nom Nom

    These are some of the best onion rings I have ever tasted.  The onions didn't come flying out of the breading and they weren't saturated with oil.

    My Yelp Review:

    I was recommended to Taco's by a friend.  When my boyfriend and I ducked into this little place it was pouring outside.  The hot sandwiches were what we needed for a pick-me-up.  
    I ordered the Philly Cheese Steak.  The steak was nicely seasoned and sliced into bite sized pieces about an eighth of an inch thick. The meat was super tender and easy to eat without making a mess.  The sautéed vegetables were caramelized well, but not limp and lifeless.  The onions still had a little crunch to them while being sweetened up during the caramelization process.  As for the cheese, it's all about the whiz.  In my opinion, a good Philly Cheese Steak is about having good cheese whiz.  It was so flavorful but didn't taste like the gross stuff from the can.  The whiz had the nice pungent flavor of a mild cheddar without over powering the subtleties of the steak.  I loved this sandwich and would  order it over and over.  Living in the East Bay, I would definitely pay BART fare to travel out just for this sandwich.  
    As for my boyfriend, he ordered the Blacked Fish Po' Boy.  I'm not a big fan of fish, but when I sampled his sandwich, it was lovely.  The crusty roll had two large breaded fish fillets nestled in some freshly chopped romaine lettuce and tomato.  The fish was hot and flaky, as a well cooked piece of fish should be.  Though the fish wasn't really "blackened" it had a nice punch of cajun seasoning.
    For the price you pay, Taco's is a steal.  The quality is as amazing as the taste and well worth hunting down amongst the multitudes of sandwich shops in the City.

    Dinner at Jen Jen's

    If you recall, a while back Nick and I were very excited about a Sharks game with Jen Jen and Brandon because we got to sit up in one of the boxes.  As a thank you to them for giving us the tickets, Nick and I made them dinner on Friday night.  (It also helped that we really wanted to use their beautiful kitchen again.  Hehe.) I didn't want to try anything new out for them in case it turned out terribly, so we made them French Onion Soup and Steak Au Poivre with garlic green beans, which I know is a crowd pleaser.  The filet mignon turned out much nicer this time because Nick took the time to hand crush all the pepper with his pepper grinder, where as I tried to take a shortcut and use my Magic Bullet last time.  The soup however, wasn't as nice and melty as the first time.  I think it is because the recipe called for it to be heated for 20 minutes at 325 degrees, but the last time I heated the oven to 375 degrees.  I'm not sure why I didn't follow the recipe last time since it was the first time I was making it, but it turned out better at the higher heat.  Knowing myself, I probably read the recipe incorrectly and thought that it said 375 degrees instead of 325.  Instead of getting gooey and melty the cheese started to bake, which isn't bad, but not what I wanted.  One of these days we'll get the entire meal done correctly.  I think it turned out well though.

    Jen Jen also made a really pretty tiramisu, but I was so full that I couldn't finish my piece.  She used real espresso which made the difference.

    Look how pretty this is!

    Ossobucco Style Pork Tenderloin

    Now that Glee is back we're trying to get back into the swing of things with Tuesday night dinners.  I decided to make an Ossobucco style pork tenderloin from Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever.  Ossobucco traditionally is a piece of braised meat on a bone with a hole like beef or veal shank, so this recipe was basically just a braised pork tenderloin.  I had gotten this book from Costco a while back because it had a ton of promising great recipes.  What I didn't realize while looking at it in the store was that each one requires that you precook your ingredients before putting it in the slow cooker.  This is not okay.  If I'm going to use a slower cooker it is going to be for ease.  I want to be able to dump in all my ingredients with as little prep work as possible.  If I have to cook everything before I put it in the crock pot, I may as well just cook a full meal that is ready in an hour.  As a result, I have used this book very infrequently.  I decided last week, however, to give it another shot but to treat it as a regular cook book.  Instead of using the crock pot, I used my dutch oven and let my pork cook for about three hours before serving.  The outcome was actually very good and it was pretty easy once I got it all in the pot and let it do its thing.

    There are actually four pork tenderloins nestled into this pot to braise.

    I took the pork out so that I could reduce the sauce.  Each person got a nice little serving of melt-in-your-mouth chunks of pork.

    We had some sugar snap peas in the fridge from Costco that we needed to use up so my mom cooked them with some minced garlic like we do with our green beans.