Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
so i nibbled off krissy's shell, but i wasn't thrilled and secretly glad that i had the bowl. i admit i was a little apprehensive about the mango part of the salad. i was also pleasantly surprised how much i enjoyed it. it was filling, tasty, not too sweet and an overall great salad. i would honestly considering ordering this salad again. the tough part would be not ordering any extras, despite knowing that it's filling without any of the fun stuff without the cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.
yeah, the tortilla bowl was nothing to write home about. it didn't really add to the salad anything but calories. i agree with beth that overall the salad was an agreeable meld of flavors, from the mango to the cilantro-lime dressing. i will say there wasn't much depth; the dish was fairly straightforward, but i don't find that to be a problem with lunch, especially something that i consider in the category of fast food.
if you're dieting or watching what you eat this is a great salad to order (w/o the taco shell and extras) because this is filling and calorie conscious. i think the biggest thing that appealed to me about the salads is that without any of the "extras" is that it is only 355 calories. seriously? only 355? that's a dream for me. let's be honest, i eat far more than i should and to eat this salad, feel filled and only eat 355 is a DREAM!!.
since we thought we should try more than just the salads we also ordered a combo meal (the craft 2) that had 1/2 a quesadilla and 2 tacos. we ordered chicken quesadila and 1/2 pulled pork tacos.
the quesadilla was good. as with the salad, i liked the chicken. it was well cooked and savory. i did not care as much for the pulled pork, and i think beth thought the same. it was a little mushy and not as tasty as the chicken. i read on qdoba's website that the pork is roasted on premise for 6 hours, which i applaud, but the outcome is somewhat mediocre. agreed. we may have been spoiled recently by eric's smoking (meat) endeavors lately....i really enjoyed the quesadilla and would probably order that again. as for the tacos i might try the steak or chicken instead.
we also tried two of the salsas. i should say, beth tried two of the salsas. we had the corn and the medium -- the medium had some kick to it and a smokey flavor. the corn was heavy on the corn and little other flavor.
one thing that we noted was that at lunchtime, we were the only females there eating. the rest of the tables were occupied with men sitting alone, presumably on lunchbreaks from the surrounding strip mall merchants. it was borderline surreal. i want to say at one point there we were with 8 males eating lunch by themselves. kinda funny.
Monday, July 26, 2010
despite my misgivings regarding interactions with whole animals, cooking light's recipe for root beer can chicken proved too intriguing and i decided to give it the old college try.
problem one was that i could not find a 6-pack of root beer in 12 oz cans, only the mini 8 oz cans. emptied a can of la croix we have had hanging around since christmas (who drinks that anyway?) down the sink and replaced it with root beer. problem solved. this is the quick thinking that earned me a doctorate, people.
problem two. preparation of my little chicken involved skinning it. blecht. i got to it, sliding the knife along between the muscle and the rubbery, cold skin. fun fact concerning poultry skin: when a person withdraws from opiates, the erector pili muscles contract causing piloerection, also known as goosebumps. hence the term "quitting cold turkey". these are the things i think about, which is probably why butchering type activities provide me with no joy.
yeah, i know i didn't do a very thorough job and there is still some skin clinging to the extremities. frankly, i was tired of the whole process and had no desire to touch the bird more than absolutely necessary.
after the appropriate time on the grill and basting with reduced root beer periodically, the root beer can chicken was fully realized. it was actually quite delicious and very juicy. i had expected the rub to be more spicy, but if i make it again i can kick it up a notch. the suggested pairing with broccoli slaw and potatoes made the meal complete.i say "if" i make this recipe again, but brian definitely expressed his desire to see root beer can chicken on the table more often. i think he ate half the chicken. maybe next time he can handle the skinning.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
green papaya salad. tangy and delicious.
bubble tea gets its name from the tea being shaken (not stirred) with a fruit flavor, which forms bubbles, and from the tapioca pearls (resembling blueberries) that are submerged in the drink. (read more here) tapioca pearls are an interesting commodity, not recommended (by me) to be eaten alone. they don't have much flavor and are kind of gummy. but they are a unique addition of texture to the bubble tea experience, meant to be suctioned up through the extra large straw.
it is fabulous. if you go to green papaya, give it a try.
that's really all i have to say. for completeness sake, here is everyone else's food, no complaints anywhere.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
the first was grilled pork chops with two-melon salsa.
1 cup chopped seedless watermelon
1 cup chopped honeydew melon
3 tbsp finely chopped sweet onion (i used vidalia)
1 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Thursday, July 8, 2010
behold! the mighty cupcake!
it seemed like everyone at the picnic enjoyed the cupcakes. it's important food be visually appealing, but let's face it, taste is what counts, right?
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
when i came across a recipe from mario batali, "pennette with summer squash and ricotta", it sounded like the perfect way to enjoy pasta in the summertime. i've prepared similar dishes before, but what really intrigued me about this was the addition of mint.
1) cook 1 pound pennette rigate in water salted with kosher salt (i used whole grain penne from barilla)
2) whisk together 1 cup fresh ricotta and 3 tbsp olive oil. add 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano (i used pecorino romano because i do not have mario batali's cheese budget) and whisk till combined. whisk in 2 tbsp warm water, then another tbsp if necessary to loosen the consistency. i also added a splash of lemon juice to give it a little citrus kick.
3) slice 1 pound summer squash or zucchini, or combination, into 1/3" thick half moons (i did not feel it was necessary to get out the ruler. mine were probably all different thicknesses). heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and cook squash until just tender. season with maldon salt. um, i didn't really know what maldon salt was so i used lemon sea salt flakes that i had in my cabinet.
4) drain the pasta and reserve 1/3 cup pasta water.
5) add the pasta and reserved water to the squash, mix well. cover and steam over low heat for about 2 minutes.
6) stir in 6 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh mint, season with maldon salt and pepper, and transfer to serving bowl.
garnish with dollops of whipped ricotta with additional grated parmigiano on the side. the photo in the magazine had this really creamy looking ricotta sauce. mine looked lumpy like cottage cheese, but tasted fine.
the mint gave the dish a unique twist and an invigorating tanginess. perfect for a hot summer night on the patio.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
what does this have to do with skirt steak?
well, i've noticed a lot of recipes call for skirt steak. because the kroger co has to trim the number of cuts available in the meat department to make room in the store for frog-shaped watering cans and tiki torches, i have never been able to locate a skirt steak at the local kroger. i've asked meat department employees, and they have directed me to flank steak.
which i now know is not the same thing.
i decided this week to stop being lazy and actually go to a butcher. wassler meats to be precise. wassler had been recommended to me in the past for breakfast sausage (thanks, john!) so this week i bought all my meat there.
a google search told me skirt steak comes from the "plate" (see below) and is actually the diaphragm muscle. apparently it has a tendency towards toughness but has a good flavor. often it is used in fajitas.
i understand the use as fajita meat. my recipe was not for fajitas, however, but thai grilled skirt steak from the april 2010 food and wine. i marinated the steaks for nearly 24 hrs in the following mixture:
1/4 cup seasame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (tamari)
2 tablespoons each of finely chopped ginger, garlic, cilantro, and salted roasted peanuts
2 scallions, minced (i used green onions)
1 tablespoon each of light brown sugar, lime juice, and chile oil (i used mongolian fire oil, which is a little different)
half of the marinade is reserved for the sauce and the other half coats the meat. to complete the sauce, add 1/4 cup chicken stock to the reserved marinade.
after marinating, the steaks were grilled for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side to keep them rare and prevent toughness from setting in. a light sprinkle of salt and pepper and the skirt steak was ready.
the quick time on the grill was well rewarded - the meat was very tender and flavorful. skirt steak is also a reasonably priced cut, so the ratio of enjoyment to price was favorable.
i paired it with red curry peanut noodles from a 2008 food and wine, using udon noodles instead of the spaghetti the recipe called for. the noodles were good and could stand alone. if i make them again, however, i will probably add more chicken stock and lime juice to the sauce. the peanut butter made it a little thick and sticky. i would rate the skirt steak experience a success.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
we usually stick to the same medley of menu selections - the available breadstick and plain old cheese pizza. some would say we're boring, but i feel there is a certain elegance in simplicity. if we're feeling really crazy, we might add pepperoni. (this does not apply at places such as dewey's when the toppings are quality and do not include mushrooms from a can)
the breadsticks at nypd were basically pizza crust with cheese, cut in strips instead of wedges. call me crazy, but i generally like my breadsticks to be made of a different dough than the pizza. i appreciate a variety of textures in my meal. the breadsticks were actually much better reheated the next day.on to the main event. the pizza in general was fairly nondescript - mozarella, provolone, pedestrian sauce. the unusual part was the crust. the only way i can think to describe it is pillowy. it was kind of the jay leno of pizza crust - puffy and not a lot of flavor. definitely not something i would stay up late night for, either. i think we'll stick with noce's from now on...unless someone else has an excellent pizza suggestion that will deliver on the westside!
speaking of ice cream, i found an embarassing amount of ice cream toppings.from pecorino romano to gorgonzola to kraft singles, there was an equally appalling magnitude of cheese... yogurt...and milk. at least we're getting our dairy. to explain why we have 4 kinds of milk - the almond and soy are for me, the skim for my mom, and the 2% is technically brian's. normally whole milk would be in place of 2%, but i won a fight in the grocery store following an elevated cholesterol panel. you can't see it in the picture, but of course the 2% is expired and i suspect the diesel milk will make it into our shopping cart again.an over abundance of salad dressings. i've no explanation.
and then we come to the really random stuff.
one-time purchases for a recipe that continue to squat, loitering in the recesses of the fridge.who knows what i originally had planned for this. probably something delicious. too bad it expired in 2009.really? someone actually went through the trouble of putting this back?
i'm so proud of myself. my refrigerator is nice and clean and organized. pure bliss. i predict this will last approximately 34 hours.and, the mystery is solved - my refrigerator and i could make an appearance on "hoarders".
next up, the deep freeze. or perhaps the pantry.
maybe some other day.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
we seated ourselves (as the sign indicated we should) and waited for a server to approach the table. after 10 minutes, we grabbed some menus from a nearby stack. and waited. then waited some more. it wasn't that servers weren't obvious, rushing around between the tables, doling out coronas and hamburgers. they were just not coming to our table. it had not even been completely cleared from the previous occupants. finally, after a half hour of progressively increasing thirst, elisa approached the bar and asked for some waters. instead of giving her the waters, the bartender indicated she would send a server over. she regarded our table and asked where we got the menus. elisa replied we had seen a stack and decided to look one over as we waited for our server. the bartender offered this as the explanation for why we had not been served - apparently all the servers would think someone else was helping us because we already had menus.
cabana lesson #1: don't proactively snag a menu to peruse while you wait for a server. you will be waiting for a long time.
we finally ordered, and more importantly received the illusive cups of water, then sat back to chat and watch the river meander past.
first to arrive at the table was jessie's black and bleu salad. the amount of bacon, steak, and bleu cheese effectively cancels out any nutrition from the lettuce, but jessie did say the beef was delicious and well cooked. all salads are served in plastic to-go boxes.
next up is elisa's portabella sandwich. she pronounced that the mushroom was tender and had an agreeable flavor.finally, my chicken salad sandwich. i am generally very apprehensive about ordering either tuna or chicken salad, because i am uber-picky about "picnic foods". i never know what i am going to get, and it may be disgusting. i was orginally going to order the turkey burger, but we sat there for so long waiting for the server that i began to wish for something cool and refreshing. i should have stuck to my original inclination and ordered the turkey burger. the mountain of chicken salad dolloped on the bun could have used more chicken and less relish and mayonnaise. the flavor fell flat. also, until this sandwich appeared on the lunch table, i had no idea kraft made swiss cheese singles. the overall effect was unpleasant, but i was starving by this point and gobbled everything up.
cabana lesson #2: go with your first instinct when ordering.
and, cabana lesson #3: don't pay the extra $1 to top anything with their swiss cheese.i don't know if i've been extra crabby lately or what, but it seems like every restaurant door i've darkened lately has led me astray. hopefully this trend will end soon, cause i'm hungry.