I’m BACK!!!!

March 28, 2009 by

Hallloooo out there!

Whoaaa…it has definitely been a while, and I’m a gazillion posts behind.  Now that I’m done testing and have caught up on some sleep, I’m ready to talk about some food.  First up Bouchon Bakery!!!  thecaffinatedbear, theseattlebear, and I stopped by before our brunch at Ad Hoc.  It’s a sweet little Thomas Keller bakery that can get claustrophobic really quickly.  But if it’s for tarts and cookies, I don’t mind a wait.  bakery

We started off with some cafe au laits and pear tart and oatmeal cookie for later.  The cafe au lait was bomb.  However, it was a little weird of how they make it.  They leave out coffee dispensers and paper cups, so you fill the cup with the amount of coffee you want in it and bring it to the barista to steam your milk.  A little awkward but worth the turtle.

case

mmmm…looking at these pictures is making me hungry.  Anywho…I also tried the pear tart and oatmeal cookie.  I thought it would be interesting to compare Thomas Keller’s oatmeal cookie to my own.  (see previous post) It was more on the crispy side (which I like) but he uses more white sugar than I would prefer.  Cookie round!  (theyummybear-1 Thomas Keller-0)  hahahahaa I hope he isn’t reading this.

cookie

Next is the pear tart.  It was good but not great.  I expected more from Tom Tom.  Next time I want to try some of cream tarts and see if those are any better.  Overall it was a fun and exciting to go to Bouchon Bakery but other than the coffee everything else seemed quite ordinary.  Until next time…AD HOC!

one of these things is not like the other

February 4, 2009 by

awww…remember that song???  Love it!  Today’s recipe is a iced oatmeal cookie recipe.  thecaffinatedbear had a bake sale, so I wanted to find a new recipe that would be suitable.  I love  mother’s iced oatmeal cookies. Delish! and also bankrupt.  (Let’s hope kelloggs starts distributing the circus animal cookies soon!)  Anway, since those cookies are sooo damn good, homemade ones must be better by at least ten times the power…Right?

happy-cookie-3

This recipe is brought to us by…recipezaar!  and today’s number is 3 for $2.  So how was the recipe? I reduced the amount of sugar used by 1/2 cup and used unsalted butter instead of the shorting.  what else??? a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  I absolutely love oatmeal cookies, but I hate raisins, so this is like the best recipe everrr.  Unfortunately, thecaffinatedbear does not feel the same way.  raisins=nasty. ;P

ok…back on track.  I was worried about the frosting because it tasted nasty by itself.  It just tasted like sugar and in a really bad way.  However, amazingly, after you place it on the cookie it is quite delicious.  It’s like magic!  The cookies shown are more on the well done side.  I love a crispy cookie.

long-cookie

soooo…how did the bakesale go??? I wasn’t there, but thecaffinatedbear said that some guy bought five bags of my cookies at $2 a bag.  If you’re reading my blog and are cute, call me =).

c is for cookie

February 4, 2009 by

I saw this jam cookie recipe on allrecipes and I just had to make it.  Too cute.  Just perfect for singles awareness day too.  I’ve been trying to find a reason to get some cookie cutters, so maybe it was a little too convenient.  hmmmm…

full-plate

close-up-2

So what’s my critique???  it was way too much work for the number of cookies you get.  And on top of that there was too much cookie per bite.  Flavor was spot on, but I did reduce the amount of sugar used by 1/4 cup.  I also noticed that they got pretty soft the next day and really really sticky!  I’m a crunchy cookie kind of girl, so I preferred them the day of.  If you got some time on your hands and want to make something that looks pretty fancy I totally recommend it.  It also helps if you have lots of different sized cookie cutters because it doesn’t look so monolithic when you compose it on a plate.  For next time I will try making a thinner cookie. These were 1/4″.  Definitely too thick.  3.5/5

one down…

January 25, 2009 by

entry

The first stop in the Dine About Town lineup was Ruth’s Chris.  It seems like it’s the go to place every year for dine about town, since it’s such a deal.  And it is!  In my previous entry I estimated the value to be ~$50+.  After going we found the correct value to be $68!  But a deal can only get you so far.  Now it’s time for the food review.  Dun DUN DUN!  And I’m not going to be nice.  grrrrrr (I’m a bear after all)  =)

thebargainbear, his sister and I had reservations for 8:45pm.  We weren’t going to get there in time, so we called in to tell them that we’d be in at 9.  The hostess was very pleasant, and we didnt’ have a problem with being late.  However, after arriving at 9 we had to wait another 20 minutes to be seated.  It was really busy.

The first course consisted of a steakhouse salad.  What can I say?  It was a salad.  Nothing special.  I think Guinea the guinea pig would have loved it but as a person it was just aight.  It comes with 2 cheesy croutons.  thebargainbear enjoyed those.  I thought they kinda tasted like cheeze-its with less crunch.

salad

Next course was the 12 oz rib-eye steak.  The majority of people on yelp have been raving about it.  When you get it, the plate is super hot and has a giant blob of butter on it.  Within seconds the butter has melted onto the steak.  This is not yummybear recommended for people with high cholesterol.  I like my steak medium, and it was cooked perfectly.  Well salted and seasoned.  Very tender.  I can’t really complain about that, but I was expecting more.  I was expecting a steak that was slightly crispy on the outside from the broiler with a juicy center.  That would have totally made this dish.

ribeye

We also had a choice of mashed potatoes or creamed spinach.  I chose the potatoes.  They were good but again not amazing.  They tasted like mashed potatoes with lots of butter.

mashed-potatoes

And lastly dessert.  There was a choice of bread pudding and key lime pie.  I thought the bread pudding was okay.  It was moist with a rum sauce, but it didn’t make me say wow.  The key lime pie fared better than the pudding pudding.  It sweet but not to sweet.  The star in this dish was really the crust.  The thin graham cracker crust was very yummy and made me want more.

key-limebread-pudding

Overall it was a good dinner, but if I had to pay a dollar more above the $35, it would not have been worth it.  That was not a $42 piece of steak.  The problem with Ruth’s Chris is that it’s a good meal, but it’s not a great meal.  It didn’t change the way I look at food or eat steak.  It is completely respectable and a good chain, but don’t expect it to blow your mind.

It’s DAT time of year again!

January 12, 2009 by

dat_header

Did you get it?????  It’s time for Dine About Town! I crack myself up sometimes.  Well, it has been some time since my last post, and technically I’m not supposed to post until I pass my LEED test….but I’m not being productive, and since I’m already looking for the best of dine about town, I might as well write  a post about it.  Was that the longest sentence ever???  I think so.  So it begins….(can you name the movie this line is from??) from January 15-31, 150 or so restaurants participate by providing 3 course pre-fixe menus ($21.95 for lunch and 34.95 for dinner)  If you do it right, this can be a great deal.  If you don’t do it right, you could be paying regular price or more!

Some of the problems with dine about town is that many of the restaurants dumb down the menu, so you are paying for less expensive ingredients and desserts.  I don’t want no sorbet for dessert.  So I took all the 4 star yelp restaurants.  (I’ve been to some of the restaurants on the list, and the overall yelp rating was quite similar to my judgment, so I have confidence that the restaurants in the semifinals are quite good)  Next I looked at the Dine About Town sample menu and compared it to their menu prices.  For me, dine about town is about eating at a restaurant I couldn’t normally afford, so I want the most bang for my buck.  No protiferoles for me.  I thought I would have a top 10, but there were only 4 that actually had a good deal, and some were GREAT DEALS!  So here they are.

1. Big 4 Restaurant (~$46 value)

2. Luce (~$50 value)

3. Plumpjack (~49 value)

4. Ruth’s Chris – there are no prices on the website, but I have a feeling the value is ~$50

There were a few on my 4 star list that did not have sample menus, so I could not caluclate their value.  These were Aziza, Campton Place, Dosa, Foreign Cinema and Jeanty at Jacks.  There are also some places that are normally expensive because of their view and not necessarily their food.  If you’re looking for an ambiance deal, I recommend Forbes Island and the Hornblower Cruise.

BON APETIT!  and make your reservations early!  yum Yum YUM!

Marrakech in Seattle…

January 11, 2009 by

Can you smell it? The wafting scents of ginger, cinnamon, ginger and lamb.   There’s nothing like a soul-warming lamb tagine on a cold night, especially after you get caught in a rain storm 20 miles from home while on a bike ride.  This recipe is taken from bon appetit from the Jnane Tamsna cooking school in Marrakech, Morocco.  The key to the tagine is patience – slow heat infuses the meat with the layers of flavor from the spices, leaving you with a ‘falling-off-the-bone’  lamb shank that brings the desert markets of the East to your kitchen.

Lamb Tagine Ingredients

in photo: 1 cup chopped sweet onion, saffron threads, 1lb lamb shank, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, salt, 1 cinnamon stick

Lamb Tagine (serves 2 or 1 hungry bear)

Ingredients: 1 lb of Lamb (bone-in-shank or stew meat), 1 cup of chopped onions, 2/3 cup of water, spices (1/3 teaspoon: ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, salt, a crumple of safron threads and 1 cinnamon stick), 1 1/2 cups of chopped plum tomatoes, 1 tbspoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh italian parsley.

Directions: This is dead easy once you’ve done the prep work.  Find a nice heavy large pot that will fit your lamb shank comfortably and combine the water, lamb, onions, and spices.  Cover, bring to boil and turn heat to medium low leaving a tiny opening in the lid so the mixture can thicken slowly.  Now set a timer for 90 minutes and wait.  (check to make sure it’s simmering gently, adjusting heat as needed).  If you use lamb stew meat, you don’t need to do anything since there should be enough water to cook all the sides evenly.  Since I’m using a hunk of lamb shank and there’s relatively little sauce, I turned the lamb 1/4 clockwise every 20 minutes, making sure all sides were given a chance to simmer in the delicious sauce.

90 minutes later… Add the chopped tomatoes and the parsley and let the tomatoes break down and sauce reduce for another 30 minutes.  It should look like this…

Lamb Tagine Ingredients

Lamb Tagine Ingredients

Remove the cinnamon stick and place the lamb shank into the center of your dish and pour the sauce all around it. Sprinkle with fresh parley for dramatic effect.

All I Want for Christmas is…food!

December 7, 2008 by

ok…not really, but with Christmas coming up,  I’ve been trying to think of really nice inexpensive gifts.  My secret to gift giving and preventing regifting is to get something that you would really love if you had “so and so’s taste”  This might be a little more difficult if you don’t know the person very well.  But gift giving is much like the golden rule.  I know I wouldn’t want the hickory farms cured meat and cheese gift basket or bath salts from Walgreens, so don’t give them as gifts.  If you do, you or your friends will be seeing them again next year under your tree. ewwwwww gross!  Housewares and kitchen gadgets can be great gifts for that foodie friend of yours.   For my firm’s white elephant gift exchange we have a $20 maximum spending limit, so I’ve been looking for something inexpensive yet of definite quality.  You might think that $20 can’t really get you anything of real quality/use in the kitchen department, but I can think of some really great and great looking gifts.

I love the Bodum Pavina Double-wall Thermo Glasses. Not only are they beautiful, interesting, and very practical, but they are also quite inexpensive.  At 15.99 for the 12-oz glasses, you can get a set for a friend and one for yourself!  I did!  =)  They keep teas hot and juices cold with no condensation or coasters.  However, reviews for the 21oz are not that great.  They seem to break a lot easier than the 12 and 9oz sizes.  theseattlebear and theyummybear both recommend this item.  ok ok…I got to go to a dinner party now.  I will update in a bit with more great gift ideas!

mmmm…mmmm…goood

December 6, 2008 by

It’s Saturday!!!!  I love Saturdays.  I can wake up at noon, have a great brunch, and then take a nap j/k!  But I could if I really wanted to.  Actually,  I did two of those three things…you can guess which ones.  Thebaguettebear is staying with us this week and my roomie works on Saturdays and comes back for a late lunch break.  So sometimes I like to surprise her with a special lunch.

I love breakfast sandwiches, but they’re usually too greasy and definitely not fresh.  I usually feel sleepy and my stomach gets all growly bear on me after eating one of those.  It’s great to make your own breakfast sandwich because you can use all the high quality produce and meats you want.  I like to start off with some really amazing bread.  Luckily cheeseboard makes these large english muffins.  They’re perfect for a breakfast sandwich.

englishmuffin

I got them when they were fresh from the oven and still warm.  Sooo good.  Thebaguettebear says that it’s the bread that makes a great sandwich, and I totally agree.  For this sandwich I chose to make a cajun style chicken.  I love the kick that it gives a breakfast sandwich.  Breakfast sandwiches are also a great way to get rid of left overs =)

chicken

I used a variation on a cajun chicken recipe form recipezaar.com.  After sauteing the chicken in my new All-Clad Saute Pan, I let it rest for a few minutes while I sliced some fresh vine ripened tomatoes and avocado.  I also scrambled an egg and seasoned it with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Then I shredded the chicken into more bite sized pieces and sauteed them for a minute more.  I really like the final step because the cajun seasoning really gets into every bite.  The shredded chicken also gives it a nice texture.  It’s still very filling yet light at the same time.  Absolutely Delicious!  Next time I’ll put some more greens in for a bit of crunch.  Arugula and green sprouts would definitely take it to another level!

mcmuffin

It’s the hap happiest season of all…

December 6, 2008 by

It’s that time of year again.  Time for shopping!  and recession means sales!  Lots of them! Sometimes it’s good to see the glass half full.  Anywho…I’m beginning to start my Christmas shopping and am looking for some good deals.  Today I’m on the look out for the Le Creuset Halo Tea Kettle.  My mom really wants it.

I tried to talk her out of it.  I think an electric tea kettle is faster and more efficient, but she loves the old school look and feel of the Le Creuset tea kettle.  So today I’ll review the Halo and then go deal hunting.

Description: Unique locking handle makes lifting, filling and pouring whistling tea kettle extra easy. Heat-resistant phenolic knobs and handle. Heavy-gauge steel coated with glossy enamel. – Sur La Table

What are the benefits of buying Le Creuset?  Mostly Durability and longevity.  This will be a teapot that you’re never going to have to replace whereas an electric tea kettle will most likely be replaced within 10 years.  Le Creuset’s glossy enamel also makes it super easy to clean.

If you ask me there are really two kinds of shoppers: those who will wait and then pounce when a good deal comes around and those who look for the best deal right now.  I love instant gratification, and I love a good deal.  Guess which one I am?  Anyway…back to things…

The Le Creuset tea kettle retails for $55.00 and getting a good deal on this tea kettle will definitely be a challenge.  When I went to Marshalls the other day, I saw a similar Le Creuset tea kettle selling for $30.00.  If you’re not picky in terms of style and color, I would definately recommend it.  Unfortunately my mom wants the halo tea kettle, but in the cherry hombre pattern.  If you search with microsoft’s live.com an ebay link shows and you can get 15% cashback on your buyitnow ebay purchases.  But no cherry halo tea kettle =(  Boooooo…

Cooking.com has a coupon code for $15 off $100. C88966.  and an addition 6% cash back with ebates.com! That’s a pretty good deal with LeCreuset.  And you can pick up a little something for yourself when you get the tea kettle!  I’m all over that.

Baby it’s Cold Outside

December 2, 2008 by

brrrrrrrr…it’s chilly here and foggy.  A perfect day for soup!  I usually make miso soup, so my soup making capabilities are quite limited.  So today I decided to try to recreate a soup from my past.  Sunday at my parents’ coffee shop used to always be vegetable beef soup.  It was a hodgepodge soup made up of left over vegetables and meat from the previous days.  It was my favorite soup at the restaurant, and since I only worked there on Sundays, it was perfect.  I don’t know the real recipe; however, I think my simple recreation turned out quite successful.

Vegetable Beef Soup

  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb top sir loin steak
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1/2 cup of macaroni
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • garlic salt to taste

Coat the pan with olive oil.  Once it heats up, place in bite sized pieces of the beef.  Before the beef is done, sprinkle it with some salt.  I use top sirloin because even if you only cook it for a short period of time, it turns out really tender.  If you have more time available you can use a different meat and obtain a more braised beef texture.  YUM.  Take out the beef and place it in a separate plate.  Add onions to the stockpot.  Cook until transparent and then add the beef broth and canned tomatoes.  Bring up the soup to a simmer and add the bay leaf and thyme.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and salt to taste.  I would prefer to use a garlic powder, but I only had garlic salt available, so I omitted any extra salt.  Add the macaroni and the green beans.  The macaroni will finish in about 7-8 minutes.  It’s a really quick hearty and yummy soup.

tomato-beef-2tomato-beef-soup

For this piece I used a 5-quart Anolon stock pot.  I bought it 2 years ago at ross for $20.00; however, mine has a glass top.  Amazon is currently selling it for $29.99.  It’s really good quality for the price, so if you’re looking for a budget buy, I totally recommend it.  The beef caramelizes well in the pot.  I can’t really say anything bad about it.  In the future, I do plan to upgrade to an all clad stainless steel stock pot, but I’m content with my current pot until I can afford the all clad.



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