Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I hope everyone has an excellent Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to eating a delicious meal as well. I'm not traveling back to California this Thanksgiving, so it is weird not being at home where my mom would be cooking the meal and I'd be helping out where I could. On the bright side I get to spend Thanksgiving here in St. Louis, which I love with great people, so I'm excited to see how it goes.

In the upcoming weeks I have several restaurant reviews to write and a few delicious recipes to share. Also, something else to look forward to is the Christmas baking, which I'll hopefully be doing when I travel back to home for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

California Crepe

There is a restaurant in the town I attended undergrad that is a local favorite where during the lunch hours or the weekend you could easily find the line to order practically out the door. This restaurant was one of my favorites in Davis and I find myself, here in St. Louis, craving my favorite dish from there now and then. So, I was feeling somewhat adventurous this week and decided to recreated Crepeville's California Crepe, mmmm. Now don't get me wrong there were many menu items on the menu from crepes that were entrees to dessert crepes, other breakfast dishes, salads, sandwiches, and pastas and they were all supposed to be good; I would even enjoy the Mediterrean Crepe from time to time, was told that the Eggs Benedict were excellent, and my best friend swore by the Country Scramble (scrambled eggs, with melted cheese, and apple sausage), but I would always nevertheless return to the deliciousness of the California Crepe.

Making this was truly an adventure for me considering I had never even made crepes before, but I had heard it was easy and was up for the challenge. I am proud to say that my first crepe, although not perfectly round, came out very nicely and didn't even stick to the bottom of the pan. In fact they all came out very easily and my biggest fear of trying to flip them turned out to be a piece of cake too. However, I will say that the next time I make these, which I'm thinking will be very soon, I will attempt to make them even thinner than I got these to be.
So, by now you're probably wondering what did I fill my crepe with to make it the California Crepe, well I'll admit right away that my crepe was not a perfect replication of the one that I would get at Crepeville. The California Crepe at Crepeville is filled with onion, spinach, avocado, sun-dried tomato pesto, and Provolone cheese. I couldn't find sun-dried tomato pesto and if I did I'm not sure I'd want to pay the price for it, I used frozen spinach instead of fresh, and instead of using Provolone cheese I just used the Monterey Jack cheese that I had on hand. I also made my version of Crepeville's House Potatoes by cubing red potatoes boiling until tender and then cooking them with minced garlic and melted butter.

The beauty of a crepe is that you can fill it with whatever you want and make it appropriate for any meal of the day.

Basic Crepe Recipe
From: Allrecipes

1 c All-purpose flour
2 Eggs
1/2 c Milk
1/2 c Water
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Butter, melted

1) In mixing bowl wisk together four and eggs, gradually add in the milk and then water, stirring to combine
2) Add the salt and butter and mix until smooth
3) Heat lightly oiled pan over medium heat
4) Scoop batter onto the pan and tilt pan in a circular motion so batter evenly coats the surface
5) Cook approx. 2 minutes on one side (or until light brown), loosen crepe with spatual and flip to cook other side
6) Fill with your choice of ingredients and enjoy

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Salmon Tacos

I found myself with some salmon in my freezer and feeling creative I decided to try my hand at making fish tacos. I've only recently started eating fish, so I haven't had a lot of experience making it, but I do enjoy eating it in a variety of ways. Before I get into the actual recipe I should point out that salmon and fish in general is very healthy for you. Fish is full of heart healthy omega-3 fat, which helps to decrease inflammation. What that means is that it helps to prevent heart disease and that is something that everyone should be working to prevent. Okay, now to stop going on about the health benefits of fish and move onto the actual meal I made.

I seasoned the salmon with chili powder, cumin, and lemon juice and then baked it. To make the tacos I flaked the baked salmon and put it into a corn tortilla with shredded lettuce and jack cheese. To go along with the tacos I also made black beans with garlic and onion and seasoned with chili powder, pepper, and cumin.
I have to say for my first try with these they were delicious. The salmon was cooked nicely and you could taste the mixture of spices with the hint of lemon. I actually think the corn tortillas were a nice complement to them and happy that I had those instead of the usual flour ones.Salmon Tacos

1/2 Lemon
1 1/2 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Cumin
Shredded lettuce
Corn tortillas
Jack cheese, grated


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put salmon in a baking dish and squeeze the fresh lemon over it and sprinkle with chili powder and cumin

2) Cook for 15 minutes
3) Let cool for a few minutes and then use a fork to flake it into chunks
4) Warm corn tortillas, so they won't break
5) Assemble the tacos by placing shredded lettuce, and salmon in the corn tortilla and sprinkle with jack cheese
6) Serve with black beans (these could be put into the taco too) or any other side of your choice

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spicy Chili

There are a few recipes where I always have the ingredients (more or less) on hand to make them whenever I either crave them or have nothing else to make. One of these such recipes is my spicy chili. I don't have an official recipe for this, I made it up one day and for the most part play it by ear when making it. I do know that I like to make it nice and spicy, which is perfect for when I am making it just for myself to eat. Another great thing is that I can get more than one day of meals out of it or if I don't feel like eating it for several days in a row I know that I can always freeze it and pull it out to eat at a later date.

A bowl of homemade chili is perfect on those fall (well lately it is starting to seem more and more like winter here) days when you want something that is going to not only fill you up, but warm you up too. Even better this a no fuss meal, meaning you don't have to constantly hover over it while it cooks. Not to bore you here either, but this can be a really healthy meal too, fiber packed beans and antioxidant rich tomato sauce are just the beginning of the benefits from this meal.
As usual when I sat down to enjoy my bowl of chili for dinner it did not disappoint me one bit. It had the perfect amount of spiciness for me, thanks to an ample amount of chili powder and cumin I poured in. One warning with this recipe I have tweaked it so that it makes a smaller amount of chili, obviously if you plan to feed many people with this recipe you can easily scale it to fit your needs by increasing the ingredients accordingly.

1 tbs Olive oil
1/4 lg White onion, diced
1-2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 med Carrot, diced
1/4-1/2 Bell pepper, chopped
3/4 of 24.5 oz can Tomato sauce (I froze what was left)
3/4 of 14.5 oz can Diced tomatoes (freeze what is left w/ leftover tomato sauce)
15 oz can Black beans (you could use any variety of bean kidney, white, etc)
Pepper to taste
Chili Powder to taste
Cumin to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste (optional)
1/3 cup Frozen corn

1) Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, then add carrots and bell pepper and let cook for a few minutes
2) Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes (I used no salt added diced tomatoes), reduce heat to medium
3) Add your spices and let everything simmer for about 15 minutes
4) Next add the beans after thoroughly rinsing them under running water. Add more spices if needed and continue to let simmer covered.
5) A few minutes before serving add the frozen corn to the chili and again add more spices if needed.
6) Serve hot in a bowl topped with grated cheese and diced onions if you want or any other toppings you can think of.

*Note: You can easily use ground beef, turkey, or cubes of chicken in this recipe if you wish, just add that in after sauteing the onion and garlic.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Restaurant Review: Guido's Pizzeria & Tapas

I finally had the opportunity to go to The Hill here in St. Louis. You may remember me referring to it recently when I was talking about the toasted ravioli. The Hill is home to the only AAA 4 diamond restaurant in Missouri, so I think that is a pretty big feat there. Besides that there were so many restaurants that looked like they would be really good and I imagine that they are considering the crowds of people flocking to and from them. To me The Hill really did feel like a close knit Italian community, like it originally was. There were all the houses with Italian restaurants, bakeries, and shops scattered throughout. Not to mention the fire hydrants painted in honor of the Italian flag.

On this particular day I ate at Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas. The restaurant was how I picture Italian restaurants to be. You can particularly tell that this one is family own and they treat you as part of the family. The service there was amazing. The menu claims to bring a little bit of Spai
n into the middle of Italy. The majority of the menu features traditional Italian food with another of the menu devoted to dishes from Spain, especially the famous tapas. Tapas are a type of appetizer or snack in Spain typically eaten in between lunch and dinner, since dinner is not served until sometime between 9-11pm.
Now to the most important part what did I eat...Let me begin with the fact that this was an extremely difficult choice as Italian food is one of my favorites, so everything looked remarkably good that night. I finally narrowed it down between the manicotti and lasagna and eventually chose the manicotti with marinara. The dish came out piping hot in it's own miniature baking dish and I'm not sure I can do justice to this dish with my description. The marinara had a very fresh tomatoey flavor with melted mozzarella, the manicotti shells seemed to be fresh/homemade pasta as they were thin and very tender. The filling in the shells was ricotta cheese with herbs (I'm assuming something along the lines of basil there). You can be certain that I finished my dinner on this night. I am definitely planning to go back to The Hill in the near future and mangiare.

Happy One Month to A Foodie Loves Company! :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Restaurant Review: Blueberry Hill

Blueberry Hill is a landmark in St. Louis. It is a restaurant, bar, and music club all tied into one. They're famous for their pop culture memorabilia that covers the walls. The table that I sat at had the Monopoly game bored screened onto it. Apparently, well so I've heard, John Goodman used to frequent Blueberry Hill and occasionally still pops up there.

Blueberry Hill is home to the Duck Room where you can catch live music on a regular basis. It is said that Chuck Berry plays there once every month. On nights with shows or just on the weekends in general Blueberry Hill will be overflowing with people.

Now I'm sure you've been waiting to hear me talk about the food. The menu wasn't bursting with tons of items, which was actually nice it kept it simpler and easier to make a choice, but it did have many tasty options available. Many people claim that Blueberry Hill is home to the best burgers in St. Louis, so of course I've been dying to try one and see if it lives up to the standards I have for a burger. The burger was cooked to order and was moist and very flavorful. It was served on a sweeter bun, which I wasn't sure about at first but ended up liking, with pickles, lettuce, and tomato on the side. Overall, I have to say that this was a very good burger and I would definitely order one again there.

I also finally tried toasted ravioli's here, which is something that has been on my list of things to do when I got here. In case you were wondering a toasted ravioli is a ravioli that has been fried and legend has it that they were invented right here in St. Louis in the Italian community called The Hill. They were served with marinara sauce for dipping and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The ravioli's were crunchy on the outside and nice and tender on the inside. These did not disappoint me one bit. I'm sure that they are not at all healthy for you, but they were so delicious and I can't wait to eat them again. I also recommend that everyone should try them if given the opportunity.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mint Chocolate Delights

I was so excited when I stumbled upon these festive morsals at Schnucks, the bag is a mix of dark chocolate chips and mint chips. An excellent flavor combination, reminding me of mint chip ice cream. Right away I knew exactly what cookie recipe I would use for them and couldn't wait to get around to baking these.Fast forward a couple of weeks and I'm ready to whip up this cookie recipe. Now here's the thing I knew exactly how I wanted and was expecting these cookies to come out. They were suppose to be on the thinner side and nice and chewy. When I took these out of the oven they were looking surprisingly fluffy and not as spread out as I was hoping. That's when it hit me I had meant to use the Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookie recipe and replace the peanut butter chips for my dark chocolate and mint chips. Instead, I had essentially made the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe with the addition of cocoa powder in it. Were these cookies what I was expecting? No. Were they bad? No. Would I use my intended recipe for them instead next time? Yes.

With that being said, the recipe that I did end up making was very cake like. The flavor was very nice, with a good mix of chocolate from the cocoa powder and the dark choclate chips and a delicious hint of mint throughout. The mint chips definitely did not overpower this cookie.

Mint Chocolate Delights
Adapted from: Nestle Toll House

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) dark chocolate and mint chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
4. Add baking soda and salt and mix in
5. Mix in flower one cup at a time until just mixed in, then add the cocoa powder and mix in
6. Stire in the dark chocolate and mint chips
7. Drop onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 11 to 13 minutes