>Another Restaurant.com giveaway!

>Restaurant.com is one of the best websites that I have discovered in the last year, featuring hefty discounts on the best restaurants in town! Their gift cards range in value from $10-$100 (again, amounts are different for each establishment), and are sold to consumers at a discount rate.

After the success of the last giveaway, we are having another for March!!! The winner of this giveaway will receive a $25 gift card to Restaurant.com

To enter: Leave a comment on the blog with your favorite dessert (and where you like to order it). Deadline for entry is midnight PST March 31. Easy!!

Winner will be chosen via random drawing, and announced on Friday, April 1. Good luck!!!

Posted in contest, giveaway, restaurant.com | 1 Comment

>Kensington Grill

>Kensington might just be my favorite little neighborhood in San Diego. Why, you ask? Well, not only is it a cozy, funky little neighborhood reminiscent of some of the more hip areas of Brooklyn, it also contains the best theater to catch an indie flick, The Ken. Hands down, the Ken Theater is my favorite movie place in the city.

But this isn’t San Diego Movie Dish (although I do like to review movies that I love or hate profusely)!

Since we were in the area for a movie, we decided that there was no better time to try out the Kensington Grill. Sister restaurant to the popular Cucina Urbana downtown, the Kensington Grill is a chic, yet low-key, place for a drink, snack, or meal. It’s really the perfect combination of trendy, yet casual. However, the KG is certainly fitting for a special occasion.

The staff was very friendly without being overly so (no offense, but I’m kinda not there to hang out with my waiter), giving us suggestions for drinks and dinner, which was appreciated. Everything looked good! In the end, we decided to go with two of their “small plates,” the sweet chili pork baby back ribs, duck pot pie and the sweet potato and feta fries.

The duck pot pie was the perfect marriage of haute cuisine and down home comfort food. Topped with an adequate pillow of puff pastry, the “pie” was crustless otherwise, with a rich gravy and tender veggies and generous duck.

The ribs were very tender and sweet, and the portion the perfect size (do people take ribs home?) for one person. The salty-sweet fries were the perfect foil for the sweet ribs, with just the right amount of crispness.

I think that I might have found my regular spot for dinner and a movie out night!

Posted in casual, fancy, kensington, trendy | Leave a comment

>Cherry Pie Snack Bars

>

I recently gave up desserts for Lent. Because of this, I’ve put a lot of baking on hold until after Easter (I know that you can bake other things besides desserts, but I’ve not been into bread lately. Horrors!). I’ve noticed, however, that I’ve been eating far more nut butter than I did, and I’ve been looking for other ways to snack other than sweets.

I bought a few Larabars, and discovered that the only one that I really enjoyed was the Cherry Pie flavor. Curious to make them myself (that’s just how I roll), I found this recipe, and decided to share it here.

Recipe adapted from cleaneatingonline.com

Yield is 4 bars

About 7 dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries

2/3 cup of walnuts (pecans would work as well — I just had walnuts)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Am I the only one that thinks that date pits look like something from Star Trek?

Remove the pits from the dates and chop them up into small pieces. Dump into a food processor, then add the berries, cinnamon, and nuts. Pulse until very mushy (see pic for texture example).

Line a cutting board with plastic wrap. Scoop the mixture onto the cutting board, dividing into 4 parts. Pat each part into a bar shape, and wrap securely in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate and enjoy as a healthy snack!

Posted in date, fruit, healthy, homemade store-bought, snack | Leave a comment

>Stilltasty.com

>I haven’t been doing too much baking this week, mainly due to my avoidance of desserts for awhile. In lieu of this, I wanted to share a quick link that I found to be rather helpful. I’m always wondering when the use-by date is for some things, as I really, really hate to waste food. However, I have no desire to eat food or use ingredients that are past their dates. This website has all the answers! How long can you keep apples? They have the answer! Just type in the ingredient, and this site lets you know how long it will keep based on the storage method (ie, shelf, fridge, freezer).

http://www.stilltasty.com/

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>AIRR Supper Club

>

Last Friday, I had the awesome privilege of attending the private event opening for a new Supper Club/Night Club, AIRR.

Located in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, AIRR boasts an upstairs locale with two flavors mixing to create an innovative “whole evening” experience, where patrons are seduced with both amazing dinners and a nightclub for handcrafted cocktails afterwards (the term ‘handcrafted’ when applied to any foodstuff is very annoying to me, but I understand that’s the lingo/lack of better term for carefully thought out drinks).

We were led up the stairs to a waiting room that appeared to be taken directly from an exhibit of Andy Warhol work. Spray-painted graffiti walls, looming red doors, and a spray-painted silver couch (I dared not sit on it, but it seemed okay for sitting and waiting).

We were ushered into the austere, monochrome dining room, opulent in its stark decor. Despite the seeming plainness one would think of with an all-white decor, the attention to detail was incredible. The entire room was cohesive and wooed the diner with promises of a glamorous, evocative experience. We chose two of the cocktails from their short, yet impressive list, the Cobain, a gourmet twist on the Dark and Stormy rum cocktail, and the Revolution, a delicious mix of berries, bourbon, and surprisingly, rosemary.

The appetizers of raw oysters and sushi were well balanced and teasing. Perfectly portioned for an appetizer, the oysters were incredibly fresh and satisfying. The spicy tuna roll was very good, but seemed a little out of place among the rest of the fare.

For entrees, we were served lamb chops and a mushroom risotto. The risotto was wonderfully creamy, full of decadent flavor, with flawlessly prepared and generous criminis on top. The lamb chops were heavenly little bites of tenderness, with just the perfect amount of seasoning to be tasty yet not hide the flavor of the meat.

After such a grand meal, dessert was simple: fresh strawberries topped with delicate whipped cream, dots of vanilla bean exploding forth rich flavor.

Another pair of cocktails, and we headed to the nightclub half of the restaurant to enjoy the “Red Room,” aptly named as the entire room has been doused in red.

I have so say, there is nothing like AIRR in San Diego. I am anxious to see what happens next, but I was very impressed with their approach.

Posted in bar, downtown, fancy, gaslamp district, hip, opening | Leave a comment

>I Give Up

>For the first time in my life, I am giving up something for Lent. I’m not particularly religious, nor do I wish to have a religious debate on my blog, but I thought that giving up something might be a good exercise in will power and make me more aware of the things that I take for granted.

I decided that until April 23, I will abstain from consuming anything that falls into the category of “dessert” and red meat (which includes beef, lamb, duck, and any game meats).

But I’m a week into this, and lemme tell ya, it’s not easy!
Not eating red meat is really no big deal. I’ve not been much of a red meat eater anyway, mainly due to preference, but the dessert! It really makes me realize how inundated that we are by sweets and stuff all the time. Like getting a tea from Starbucks, I was offered a free ‘cake pop’ (I guess that’s going to be one of their new poor excuses for food? That’s another post entirely). I politely declined, but passing up free dessert (even though I was certain it would be gross) was pretty hard. I had to stop myself twice during the time that the barista was making my tea from telling her that I had changed my mind and wanted the awful things.
And work! If you work in an office, you know how much sweets are provided (well at most offices I’ve worked in). Donuts, Danishes, candies, cupcakes…thankfully, most of it is grocery store bought stuff that I wouldn’t touch even if I weren’t giving up sweets for awhile.
Still, I’m determined to make it, and really, it’s not a big deal. I actually already feel better physically (could be the placebo effect, but I’ll take what I can get!), and I’m already a little more aware that I should probably cut sugar more and more.
Posted in fast, food, random thoughts | 1 Comment

>Kinda Healthy SOFT Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Here it is! I’ve been messing with CCC recipes for almost a year now, and I think that I’ve come up with a winner! Reduced fat, reduced sugar, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal! These cookies come together pretty easily, and the date butter is an extra step, but well worth the flavor and texture additions. These cookies are a little fragile, but oh-so-soft! The crumb is incredible

Yield is about 36 cookies!

You will need:

½ cup date butter (recipe here)

½ cup salted butter or Earth Balance

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup oatmeal, ground to powder

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the date butter. Next, add the eggs and vanilla.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, and ground oatmeal, blending completely.

Add the chocolate chips.

Using a large spoon, scoop the dough onto a sprayed cookie sheet or silicone cover. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden. Serve warm!!!

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>Landing Grill

>For awhile, I’ve been searching for the best fish taco in San Diego. Not an easy feat, considering that SD is the rumored birthplace of the fish taco, but a very enjoyable endeavor!  I’ve tried several at some very good establishments, and don’t get me wrong – they were all delicious. However, this weekend, I found the winner, and it’s a place that many have never heard of, let alone visited.

Landing Grill.

Landing Grill is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall café set up along the boat docks of Mission Bay on Quivira Road, very close to Sportsmen’s Seafood. A basic diner set up, complete with stools and a counter, there are only 4 tables inside, and a few on the deck overlooking the bay. Sitting outside would be a serene experience indeed, munching on a fish taco, watching the boats come in at sunset…However, it was cold (for San Diego) the day that we went, and so we opted for the counter service.

We selected three tacos to try: lobster, fried cod, and grilled mahi. Since we were starving, we added an order of fries. Our food came in good time, with each component being parsed out separately, almost as though each item was a separate course. Since it gave us a chance to truly taste each item, the piecemeal service was not problematic at all. The fries were first, mostly pretty standard, but a tasty paprika-laced salt made them special and different from most diner fries. The texture was also spot on, no overcooked or limp fries.

Next came the lobster and mahi tacos. Oh. My. Word! The lobster was plentiful, with a perfect ratio of sauce to meat. Surrounded by the freshest cabbage and tomatoes ever seen on a fish taco, the crunch was perfect. In fact, I wish I were eating this taco again right now.

The mahi taco was excellent. The fish was a good cut, with just the perfect amount of seasoning, and served with that crispy cabbage and tomatoes, the flavor was light and perfect.

After we had finished the mahi and lobster tacos, out came the fried cod. When I ordered, this taco was the one I truly wanted. Classic, with a very delicious salty breading, this fish managed to be decadent and not at all greasy.

Oh, and did I mention that each of these little babies were 3.50? Not the cheapest, but certainly not expensive, and with the fries, was plenty for two people.

Highly recommended.

Posted in cheap, fish, locals, mexican, seafood, taco | Leave a comment

>Super secret ingredient brownies!

>

I love brownies. Growing up, they were my mother’s go-to dessert, and I remember helping her prepare more of those Duncan Hines boxed mixes than I could count. In college, I continued my mother’s tradition of always having a box of brownie mix on hand for a quick and easy dessert. So easy — dump in the mix, add some eggs and oil, mix, and presto! In 30 minutes, you have brownies.

Not to scare you, but have you ever read the ingredient list or the nutritional content of those mixes? Whoa! It’s good that they are so yummy, because man! The calories! The sugar!

It’s true, making a batch of brownies that are reasonably healthy and delicious is quite a challenge. I found that using dark chocolate, wheat flour, and just enough butter to give it that salty-sweet flavor made for a tasty and somewhat guiltless brownie (I know, those words should never be strung together…but I just did). The secret ingredient? Dates. Yes, dates. Their texture and brown sugary flavor was the perfect replacement to reduce both the butter and sugar content. The result? A cake-y, somewhat chewy brownie that will satisfy my brownie craving!

Yield is 9 large or 18 small brownies.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup date butter (store bought or homemade)
1 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp warm water
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using the double broiler method, melt the butter and chocolate together, making sure to stir to keep from scorching.

While that’s going, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the melted chocolate/butter, and combine. Mix in the date butter and cocoa powder.

In a small bowl, combine the water and espresso powder until well mixed, then add the mixture to the other ingredients.

Add the flour, and mix in, taking care not to overmix. Spray and flour a 9 x 9 pan, and pour in the mix. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes, cool completely before cutting. Refrigerate to store.

Posted in brownies, dessert, easy, healthy | Leave a comment

I love to substitute

As many of you may know, I love to swap healthy ingredients for less-than-healthy ingredients in my baking. Sometimes it works out, sometimes, well….it’s time to hit up the pizza place down the street! There are also times that I’m in the midst of making something, and lo and behold, I’m missing some ingredient and there is no time for an emergency grocery run. I scramble to find something with properties that will make up the missing ingredient.

As I was messing about on the Internet, I stumbled upon this nifty link which details tried and true baking and cooking substitutions from the Joy of Baking. Lots of great info in this list, and very easy to use! Enjoy!

http://www.joyofbaking.com/IngredientSubstitution.html

Posted in ah-may-zing, cooking is an art | Tagged | Leave a comment