Friday, November 22, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: November 19, 2013

I had actually prepared most of this meal on my baking day because I had the time.  I bought a thick piece of pork chop from Sprouts for Nick and I to share.  One of my favorite wines of all time, Ol' Red from Cosentino, has started giving me headaches right after the first few sips.  It's tragic.  Really.  I don't know how many bottles of this stuff I have consumed in the past.  That's probably why it's giving me headaches.  Over consumption. I had a couple of bottles left hanging around that I couldn't drink. The wine itself is really good so I decided to cook with it instead.

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I first browned the meat with onions, garlic, and cilantro.

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I braised the meat for about an hour and a half with a whole bottle of Ol' Red.
Once the wine had reduced, I added a little bit of water to keep the meat covered.
After the meat had braised, I stuck it in the fridge with the cooking liquid until
we were ready to eat it.  

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I reheated the meat in the cooking liquid and the took it out of the pot to rest.
Meanwhile, I reduced the liquid and added some corn starch to thicken it up.
I also added some half and half to give the sauce some depth and thickness.
In a separate pot, I made bow tie pasta and then threw it into the sauce.  The pork
was a little dry so we cut it in to chunks and tossed it with the pasta.  

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There was so much left over, but because the pork marinated in the sauce it
made for awesome left overs. 

Tonight's Dinner: November 18, 2013

The Fongs had just gotten off a plane from Asia and wanted to have a family dinner.  After Crossfit I headed over to Jason's Hot Pot that recently opened up in our area.  I really enjoy hot pot because it is a very social way of eating and everyone knows that I love to talk.  We haven't gone to hot pot for a while since the one that we used to go to in El Cerrito shut down.

If you've never been to hot pot before, it's a pretty interactive experience.  They come out with large pots of broth that you heat over a flat top heating device.  Once your broth is boiled you add your fillers and cook it on the table top.  Sharing is caring in this type of place. We ordered several different types of protein.

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Mr. and Mrs. Fong ordered the basic clear broth and the spicy broth.

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Melissa, Nick and I had a the basic clear, spicy, and spicy tomato broth.

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I believe this is called Wood Ear fungus.  It doesn't really have that much flavor
but is very crunchy even after it is cooked.  As a kid I hated this stuff and it really
grossed me out.  Now I really enjoy the crunchy, slightly chewing consistency.

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Not sure what kind of fish this is, but it was pretty tasty. 

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These meatballs were my favorite.  I'm not really sure how
these meatballs are made.  It almost seems like they pulverize
the meat and then put it back together with gelatin.  However
they make it, I love the chewiness. 

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Frozen lamb.  A lot of the meats are frozen so that they can
use a deli slicer to make thin slices for quick cooking.

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Beef slices

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I believe this is the lamb, but after cooking the beef and lamb looked very similar.

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Meat and fish balls with noodles. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Baking day: November 17,2013

We've been pretty busy on weekends lately so I knew that today was my only day to process my pumpkins.  The last couple of years I've been buying sugar pumpkins to put on our balcony for Halloween.  I'm all for dual purpose.  I leave them out there until November when I can bake and puree them.  Today was the day.

I chopped them in half and seeded them before sticking them in the oven for an hour.  Once those were done, I broke out my new food processor to make the puree.  Last year it took me forever because I didn't have a blender or food processor so I used my Magic Bullet. As much as I love that thing, it was not the right tool to use when pureeing three pumpkins.  Using the food processor, however, made the work very quick and easy so I had enough energy to not only bake pumpkin pies, but also banana chocolate chip crumble muffins.

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Usually taking the seeds out of the pumpkins is a really
time consuming task.  Maybe because I had left the pumpkins
out on my balcony for a month with no water source, the
stringy parts were pretty dry.  This made it easy just to
shake the seeds out.  

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I brushed the insides of the pumpkin halves with EVOO
prior to baking. 

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I'm not normally a fan of pumpkin seeds, but these are
actually pretty good.  I seasoned them liberally with kosher
salt and also added allspice and nutmeg. 

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I had several frozen bananas in my freezer.  With the holidays coming up, I
needed to free up space in my freezer for leftovers.  I did a double batch of
muffins and I still have a lot of bananas left.  I used the a recipe from for Banana Crumble Muffin and added chocolate chips to
spruce them up.  Nick's office has dubbed them  "Crack Muffins".

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Tonight's Dinner: November 16, 2013

It was a big day of visiting with friends.  After having lunch with Nick's colleagues, a friend of mine from NY was in town visiting.  We arranged to meet up with them at Americano Restaurant for cocktails. After a little while of catching up, we got a little hungry so we decided to go to RN74 where a friend of ours is a sous chef. It was pretty cool because we were able to get a "tour" of the kitchen.  It's a pretty small place so we literally piled into the kitchen and stood in the middle watching everyone work. We didn't stay inside long as we felt like we were in everyone's way while they were in the middle of table service. My friend was pretty impressed that we were able to go into the kitchen at all.  I'm glad we could give her a new experience.

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Since we were a walk-in group, we weren't able to get a table.  They serve the
full menu in the bar area though so we lucked out. 

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Our friends ordered a little bit-sized bun with truffle oil, panchetta and quail egg. 

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Bone marrow 

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Extra toasts for our awesome bone marrow. 

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Braised veal cheek pappardelle .  By the time this came out, I was pretty stuffed,
but the veal cheek was really tasty. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today's Lunch: November 16, 2013

Today Nick and I went out to the City to meet up with a couple of his MBA friends visiting for business from Germany.  The last time we went to Wayfarer Tavern for Melissa's birthday dinner, Nick was too full to enjoy his meal so we suggested meeting up for lunch there with his colleagues.  Holy moly, it was a good choice.  Lately, whenever we eat out things have been tasting overly salty to me.  My braised lamb sandwich with an added egg and brie was delicious.  I scarfed that thing down like I hadn't eaten in months. Unfortunately, Tyler Florence didn't make an appearance, but we had good company so it didn't matter.

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The popovers that they served were actually still a little bit warm.  They were
fluffy and delicious. 

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And this is the sandwich that I will be dreaming about for the next few months.
I normally detest the flavor of raw parsley, but I figured I'd give it a try.  It was
actually quite mild and added a ton of flavor.  As I said before, I did add the egg
and asked for them to add brie.  Originally, I wanted to get the burger which came
with brie and option for the added egg, but Nick really wanted the burger.  We
make it a rule not to order the same thing so that we can taste each other's dishes.
Knowing that they had brie available, I figured it wouldn't hurt to add it to the
sandwich.  It was a great choice. 

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Nick's burger

Friday, November 15, 2013

Today's Lunch: November 15, 2013

I decided to venture out and try somewhere new.  Luigi's Catering and Delicatessen was highly rated in our area. I've been eating less these days and now have bigger eyes than my stomach where I used to have just as big of a stomach as I did eyes.  I got myself a classic Italian sandwich and pesto tortellini.  Unfortunately, the reviews amped up the food a little too much for me.  I was expecting a mind blowing sandwich and this one didn't deliver.  I realize that my tastes have changed and standards have become a little higher, but I still remember what it was like to have an awesome sub sandwich at a local deli in Riverside.  Nick and I visited the sandwich shop when we stopped by UCR to see the new additions to the campus on our way to San Diego about a year and a half ago.  It wasn't as mind blowing as I remember, but it was definitely a really good sandwich and I'd go back there in a heartbeat if we were in the area again. The sandwich from Luigi's didn't deliver the same reaction.

The sandwich itself was built really well and the dutch crunch roll was soft and chewy.  The meats were tasty, but a little salty.  Well, very salty. They put too much of the house-made garlic mayo on and after the third bite, I was overcome with saltiness sliminess that I didn't enjoy at all.  Normally, I ask for no mayo, but since I saw that it was garlic mayo (I love garlic mayo) I left it on.  Big mistake.

The pesto tortellini that I ordered was bland.  Thankfully I tasted the tortellini first as the sandwich was so salty that it blew my palette right off the bat. I found the pesto to be a little bit oily for me as well.

Boy, haven't I turned into a picky eater?  What can I say?  Yelp's reviews had set the bar high and I expected a lot.  I would eat there again, but only if I was really hungry and happened to be in the area.  It's a shame because I really wanted to find a great sandwich shop in my area.

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Tonight's Dinner: November 14, 2013

This week I didn't do any grocery shopping because I knew that I wouldn't be eating much when Nick was out of town so when he did come back, our fridge was pretty empty. We decided to go to Melo's for dinner since I was STILL sore from Crossfit at the beginning of the week.  To be quite honest, I don't have much to say about Melo's as we frequent the restaurant with the Fongs.  I'd say it's pretty standard fare.  I described it to one of my cousins as "one of those mainstream Italian places that seems like it would be a chain, but isn't."  The food is good, but I find it to be a little pricey for what you get.

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Burrata dish.  Nick really enjoyed the jam.  I thought the burrata itself was
pretty good, but it was not as soft and gooey as I like it.

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Nick got the shrimp fettuccine. 

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I had the fennel sausage rigatoni. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: November 13, 2013

I have the best husband ever.  He sure does know the way to my heart.  After being away for a couple days on business, Nick came home with a cured lengua (beef tongue) sandwich and two sticks of salami from Salumi, Armandino Batali's (Mario Batali's father) charcuterie shop in Seattle. I wish he would have taken pictures for me while he was there.  He said that they literally have a cured tongue that they put into the deli slicer.  I would have loved to see that.  Can you imagine being a child walking into this shop with a cow's tongue hanging in the window? I would imagine that it's like how I felt when I saw whole ducks and chickens hanging in windows in Chinatown when I was a child.  Scary but delicious.

He also brought me some artisan cheese from Pike's Market to go with my delicious salami.  I have yet to crack any of it open since the sandwich was enough to fill me, but I will try to remember to take pictures when I do.

I was extremely sore, rather immobile, from the last two days of Crossfit so I had popped open a bottle of Longhand Pinot and did my nails while I waited for Nick to come home.  Boy did the wine go well with the sandwich.  This is love.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: November 9, 2013

Tonight was a rare night in for a Saturday.  For the last couple of months we have been non-stop on the go.  After lounging around for a while after watching Cal get slaughtered by USC, I decided to make ramen for a late dinner.  Inspired by the ramen we had in Hawaii, I actually had to put effort into making the soup dish.

I had marinated slices of pork in a mixture of soy sauce and garlic powder at the beginning of the week.  I also had done a quick toss of tofu and mushrooms in soy sauce before cooking them. I had a little bit of Chinese BBQ pork left over from my Aunt's house so I added that in too.

First, I blanched bok choy in boiling water.  In a separate pot I was heating up the broth.  (I used the first pot of boiling water to par-cook the ramen after the bok choy was done.)  In a small frying I cooked up the pork, tofu, and mushrooms. Once those were done, I put on an egg to cook while par-boiling fresh ramen noodles.  The noodle went into a bowl with all the accoutrements.  On top went the egg and then the broth.  I added some fried garlic on top for extra flavor.  Wa-la!

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Friday, November 08, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: November 7, 2013

Tonight I skipped Crossfit because I was extremely sore from the night before.  I got a little overzealous and did two full workouts after not going for two weeks. That was a big mistake but I felt accomplished while I was at the gym.  When I walked Emmy I was waddling around like an 8-month pregnant lady.  The last 48-hours have been pretty painful.  I don't think I moved in my sleep much either.

So tonight I didn't want to have to do any difficult stirring.  I threw the last of my marinated veggies into the oven with French Fried Onions on top for some crunch.  By the time Nick got home, the chicken had come to temp enough for him to start cooking. We received a new grill pan as a gift and have been loving it especially now that it gets dark outside so quickly.

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Well, the veggies look like mush here, but the French Fried Onions were actually
pretty crunchy.  

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: November 6, 2013

Nick and I haven't really cooked together for a while since I'm always at the gym in the evening. Tonight I got home a little earlier and he had gotten home from work a little bit later.  I had a big craving for loaded hot dogs, but since I did two workouts at Crossfit I thought it was best to have something healthier.  I did have some carbs though. I just can't do an all veg and protein diet.  I tried a while back and was miserable. I still like to have my half a cucumber, tomatoes, and cheese for lunch, but I figure I can calorie splurge on dinner since my body needs it from the work out.

I had prepared a couple of pork chops with a salt seasoning that we picked up in Hawaii.  Having over seasoned grilled shrimp with the stuff, I learned my lesson and only salt seasoned one side of the pork.  For the other side I simply used black pepper.  Nick threw it on the grill pan while I prepped veggies and pasta.

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I love grilled onions with my pork.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: November 5, 2013

Boy oh boy oh boy.  Has it been a long time or what?  I'm not even going to bother trying to catch up on back logged events and meals.  There is just too much to tell in a blog post.

I recently went to a family gathering where one of my uncles has a Sodastream.  I've heard a lot about them and Nick even said that we should get one for ourselves.  I've resisted because I have a water spritzer bottle, but after seeing how many liters my Uncle's produced in a short amount of time, I knew I had to have one.  I have been drinking so much sparkling water and so happy about it.  Nick has tried the actual soda flavors, but I prefer just plain old sparkling water.

Last night I experimented with making fresh pomegranate flavored water.  I blended some pomegranate seeds in my Vitamix and then strained it through a fine sieve (mashing with a spoon).  Nick said that it was pretty good, but could tell that I didn't add any additional sugar.  Why make it unhealthy when I don't have to?

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Nick had gone to a business dinner so after my workout I made myself a grilled chicken ramen and watched Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.  Since I made a food schedule and prepped on Sunday, I had to stick with our meal plan.  I put another meal in the oven for Nick to take for lunch. 

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Asian chicken drumsticks with zucchini, onion, and mushroom on a bed of
snap pea greens.   I froze half of this to give to Christopher.