Eats in San Diego

We took a “Food Network” tour in San Diego and it was a cool way to get to the beach town of Ocean Beach which the locals call OB,  We stopped at places Guy Fieri had visited.

The first stop was to a Mexican restaurant called El Indio Shop.  Being from Texas I find it interesting to see what CaliMex is like.  The people from Mexico look different in California.  Their facial features especially.  We do have taquitos (a rolled corn taco filled with meat and fried) in Texas but I just don’t see them served or ordered .  The restaurant is now owned by a third generation family member.  She let us into the kitchen to see how they make their corn tortillas.  They soak the corn for 24 hours and then they grind them and press them.  The only ingredients are water, lime and corn.  And they are amazing.  We had a sample of their tamales also, home made masa (a corn flour) which they make there as well.  The restaurant sits up on a hill over looking San Diego.

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From there we went to OB.  The beach town is very different from the beaches near LA.  For one, it wasn’t crowded.  Maybe because we were there on a Wednesday.  We got to see the original Hodad’s which is a famous burger restaurant.  The original owner past away not too long ago and his son Shane now runs the restaurant.  Hodad is a term they created to describe a guy who pretends to be a surfer.  They have two locations, the one next to the beach was closed for the first time in 30 years to do something with the floors.  We did eat at the one in town.  We sampled a Guido burger which had pastrami on it.  It was really good.  The pastrami was almost like bacon.  It was very tasty.

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We also sampled noodles from the OB noodle house.  They have a special peanut butter whiskey that is so secret they don’t make it on site.  I love peanut butter and it was almost like a kaluha.  They say you can’t taste the whiskey, but I’m not sure I would know since I don’t drink it.  Thumbs up on this place!  The owners are Vietnamese and had to buy up several properties to expand from 8 tables to be able to hold the large crowds that come for their Pho.

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There are still a lot of hippies around.  They took us by a youth hostile where you can rent a shared room for something like $40/per night.  The tour guide recommended staying in the area in an Airbnb property.  I really enjoyed going to the cliffs.  I was thinking of the massive cliffs I saw on the west coast of Mexico in Puerto Escondido, but these cliffs were miniturized.  Cliffs none the less and still a very cool place to sit and watch the ocean or even the sunset.

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Our final stop was for dessert.  We went to a place called Extraordinary desserts and had an extraordinary chocolate dulce de leche cake complete with fresh flowers and some kind of gold dust.  What a treat!!!

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I enjoyed the adventure and will not be converting careers to food tasting…albeit enjoyable not good for the waist line.  Better get back to tennis.

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Eats in San Diego

Healthy snack

I have been searching for satisfying food that doesn’t cost too much and is healthy and low calorie.  A few years ago I went on a weight loss plan “Medifast” and it worked great.  My issue is that in maintenance I didn’t want to continue buying their “food”. Medifast did a really good job offering tasty “meals” that were around 100 calories and satisfying.  My only issue is that I have to buy them, either go there or have them shipped and it was getting expensive.  At least $3 per “meal” and I would have 3 or 4 a day on maintenance.  Specifically I was looking for a shake.  I have tried several recipes on the internet and found that the combination of flavors I was looking for is chocolate and peanut butter.  I love chocolate and thought the peanut butter would add some protein.  After trial and error I found something that I really like!  It doesn’t have too much sugar and the consistency blended well and the taste is satisfying!

I’m guessing it’s probably 125 calories if you add up the individual ingredients, which are:

1/2 banana

3/4 cup of vanilla almond milk

1 tablespoon of Powdered Peanut Butter

1 tablespoon of Natural Unsweetened Cocoa

1/4 cup of crushed ice.

The medifast meals had 11 grams of protein in them.  And 7 grams of sugar.  The peanut powder provides 5 grams.  So maybe I will work on increasing the protein.  Protein should keep you from getting hungry longer.  Powdered peanut butter has the taste of peanut butter and less calories and fat.  My daughter found this little gem!   This shake has about the same fat as Medifast, 2.5 grams.

And the cost, $.68!  Yippee!!!!!!

shake

 

Healthy snack

Happy Mother’s Day

Wishing everyone a wonderful Mother’s Day.  Mom’s are pretty special.  I’m lucky to be one.  On a day like today when I can’t be with mom, the family planned something nice for me.  Which is special.  I do enjoy my time to myself in the mornings with a cup of coffee to get the day started.  The weather is so nice outside, I decided to go for a bike ride around the lake.  It was fantastic! The water was still, so nice not to have to deal with the head wind.  Saw other momma’s with their ducklings in tow.  And all of the people out there getting some exercise.

The plan for today was to go to brunch.  With no reservations, I thought my group would struggle with waiting.  I picked Dish Society which is a farm to table restaurant in a nice area called La Centerra.  They have a few shopping/dinning areas like this around Houston, another one is called City Centre and there is yet another called the Vintage. They have lots of restaurants and shops and it’s all out doors.  La Centerra even has a Trader Joe’s which is a pretty cool grocery store.  Dish Society was very smart about recognizing the crowd they would draw.  It’s a small place on the inside, but they had added a lot more tables outside to accommodate everyone.  We had a 15 minute wait to place our order then found a table.  I had steak tacos and a mimosa!  They were to die for.  With lots of cabbage on top!    They limited the menu to brunch so that helped as well.

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My handsome son dressed up for me!  My daughter who was out late the night before brought me flowers and had no time to get ready before brunch.  She looked a little rough.  I debated if I should dress up because I knew I would be right back outside sweating.  It was worth it though!  It was great to talk about summer plans and spend time together.

A mother’s job is never done!  I got off easy making dinner for the boys.  They had hot dogs.  My daughter and I had fish.  I made a coconut steel head trout with mango salsa and served it with brussel sprouts coated in garlic, olive oil, honey and sriracha sauce.  I think I went a little heavy on the salsa, it turned out really good.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Easter from Texas

Happy Easter!  I woke up this morning to my husband asking me for cornbread.  It was 5:45 AM.  “Your asking me if we are having cornbread today?…this early?”  I really don’t think he was just craving Easter dinner, this is probably the continued effects from being in China.  It takes a while to adjust!

My mother told my children that I would be putting together an Easter basket for them. She LOVED to do this.  And I did for years, maybe you are never too old to receive an Easter basket, however my plan was to make a coconut cake.  Added to this plan is now cornbread and ham.  An impromptu Easter dinner.  Little did I know this dinner was going to take six hours to make.  Ham just needs to be heated, how hard could this be? I’ve always wondered why ham is served for Easter dinner.  Not that I believe everything you read on the internet.  If it makes a little sense, I just go with it.  So, a search said that ham is a traditional dinner in the US supposedly because meat was slaughtered in the fall, before refrigeration pork was cured for spring.  It seems as though Europe and even in Israel, lamb would be more of a traditional food.  Maybe there wasn’t lamb available in the US.  It isn’t really popular in the stores from what I can see.

Here we have traditions, and my husband really likes his family traditional food.  Ham, cornbread, great northern beans and potatoes.

What took the most time was the scalloped potatoes that I prepared in the slow cooker on the “high” setting and the great northern beans (white beans).   The cake took a while too.  I think it’s hard to time things so that they come together at the right time.  My grandmother was excellent at this with her tiny kitchen.

The family starved the entire day waiting for dinner.  Everything was going just fine until I started mixing the frosting for the cake.  I have made it once before and it was great.  This time the mascarpone cheese curdled when I added whipping cream.  The last time I made this the frosting was to die for.  I couldn’t believe it wasn’t smooth and fluffy. Again the internet is pretty helpful!  I found out why it happened and a way to save it. It’s important to have the whipping cream and the cheese at the same temperature.  I had to drain out the whipping cream and slowly heat the two to about room temperature, then reconstitute…It worked!

The ham was good too! It was a boneless half ham because we wouldn’t eat a full one.  It didn’t come sliced like the spiral cuts we have had in the past.  I made this glaze out of honey, brown sugar, rice vinegar, worcestershire, and dijon mustard.  The glaze really dressed it up! Cooking the potatoes in the slow cooker helped by freeing up the oven.  I used gruyere cheese, parmesan, cream and some spices.  I think they needed some cheddar.

The meal isn’t colorful enough for me.  I didn’t have it in me to make any more things to add color though.  We have a saying here in Texas…”Don’t mess with Texas”.  The same goes true with my husband’s traditions…don’t mess with them.

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easter dinner

Happy Easter from Texas

Superbowl LI H-TOWN

It is such an honor for Houston to host the Superbowl this year. Even though neither one of the Texas teams made it, the experience of having the event in town is quite amazing regardless.   We are not Falcon or Patriot fans.  The activities are around the George R Brown convention center which is next to Minute Maid Park.  NRG stadium, where the game will be played, is a distance away from the activity.  I’m always amazed at how many people can park and get into this area in the 4th largest city in the USA.  It took us about 45 minutes at least to get in and thankfully we bought the NFL Experience ticket online because they were sold out.  There was a long line for security check.  Discovery Green is right in front of the convention center with plenty more going on accessible for free.

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The NFL experience had a series of activities you could do.  There was a 40 yard dash, passing targets, kicking targets (punts and scaled down field goals).  There was autographing from varies players, viewing of the Lombardi trophy, displays of Super Bowl rings, plenty of photo opportunities like a 3-d life size player for every team that you can climb up and stick your head in.  There was a stage setup as NFL draft day where you can stand on the stage holding up the jersey for your team!  They had mock up news rooms where you could take pics as if you were reporting live in the studio or at the game.  There was a kid zone, with a football field for the kids to play on complete with stands.  They had a referee area demoing what they do on instant replay.  They had virtual reality, and just so many things.  dash

Outside is Discovery Green, here there was a concert and Fox Sports setup, more stuff to see…even an ice skating rink!  All things NFL are pricey.  The NFL experience cost $40 a ticket, I was able to get in free and also got parking for free, it’s $20 at least to park. All of the sites outside were free and there were so many people there.  Elton John slipped in the back of the Marriott Marque (right in front of us!!!)

I’m really glad we went.  If your city is hosting the Super Bowl, that is special!  There is no way we would pay the game ticket price to be there live, so like the majority we will be having our Super Bowl spread at home and watching the game on TV.  I baked a chocolate cake that I cut in the shape of a football.  Had to freeze it so that I can frost it.  Then our main dish is a stadium snack tray…idea from Pinterest of course!!

I made this cake twice, once was a disaster with an 8inch pan the second time with 9 inch was better using a template (instructions online).  Let me just say chocolate cake is the HARDEST thing to frost.  It takes so much patience!

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I also saw so many snack tray ideas.  When we do snack trays they are so boring.  For Super Bowl we wanted to do something special!  This is the outcome…. Lots of work but my son really liked it so that is worth it!

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Superbowl LI H-TOWN

Taste in Texas

One thing about Houston is the amazing diversity in available food options.   Just because we live in Texas doesn’t mean it’s just BBQ.    As in most big cities, I’m sure, you get a really nice diversity.  You do at least in Houston, especially downtown.   You can get African, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, Cuban, Venezuelan, German, Cajun and of course Mexican it goes on!   Believe it or not Houston is famous for Czechoslovakian Kolaches (breakfast food).   Downtown has more specialty grocery stores and more choices for people interested in vegan and organic healthy choices.  I have noticed in the more rural areas, it becomes harder to find the variety.  In Livingston in particular, you can get hamburgers, fried chicken and fried catfish there are not many restaurant choices.    With the expense eating out, I’d rather eat at home anyway.

I’ve probably mentioned my daughter and I like to eat healthy.  She texted me today a picture of a dish that she got from Ruggle’s Green which has some amazing dishes.  I had some salmon in the fridge and thought maybe I’d make my own dish.   Her cost, $16 . Mine, less.  I think the salmon was around $3-$4.  And I only used a portion of the veggies.

Can you tell which is the restaurant version?  I could have added some crushed pistachios and maybe a little shredded parm. some hummus with pita triangles if I really wanted to be fancy.  (But I had already had some nuts earlier).  Anyway, it was VERY satisfying.  The salmon was baked with feta, chives, cilantro and a lemon vinaigrette.

My son and husband ate What-a-Burger.  A Texas legend!  Interestingly enough my son gets the chicken.  He also refuses vegetables except potatoes and occasionally broccoli.  The only fish he will eat is fried.  I ask him all of the time what do you want to eat?  This week, his breakfast request was Pop Tarts.  I have bought them in the past, but my daughter’s non GMO ways are rubbing off on me.  Really it’s more about the ingredients in our food.  I disagree with her on several things.   I think it’s necessary to make modifications to grow more to feed more (farmers have been doing it for years).  But, to her point, there have been some unsafe additions to the food supply that have been pulled out like transfats.

Anyway, I told my son that  I didn’t think Pop Tarts were nutritious.  What if I make “Pop Tarts”.  He made a face that indicated he didn’t like that idea, but I’m going to do it anyway.  My daughter and a friend did a school project with home made “healthy” Pop Tarts and entered a State contest.  They didn’t win, however, the younger generation’s trends may prevail eventually.   I hope the healthier ones will anyway.

So where did I go? Pinterest of course!  How does homemade compare to the real deal?  Nutritiously, there is nothing nutritious about it!  It’s a desert.  I compared a chocolate fudge Pop Tart to a home made Nutella tart.  For the Pop Tart, it’s 400 calories for 2, 10g of fat, 38 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 74 grams of carbohydrates and 460 milligrams of sodium.  Cost about $3.68 which has about 3 servings (6 tarts).  The home made ones are 320 calories for 1!  Oops!  Come on though!  If they  don’t taste good what’s the point?  I’d rather make them 1/2 the size and taste better if I’m going to compete on the calories.  Cost, it’s about $5.19 …ouch.  I’m not doing good here…  I made tarts that are more expensive and have more calories. I used pie crust for the pastry.  I am going to try some homemade preserves as a filler (at least that is real fruit and should have a little more nutritional value).  Anyway, it was fun.  They do taste better and have about 1/2 the sugar . For $5.19 I can at least get a variety.  And the preserves were a gift.

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Taste in Texas

Will someone please eat my food?

Maybe it’s not the best to write when you are irritated.  I got this really cool pot for Christmas, it’s a Tagine.

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In it  you can make some amazing stews where the meat comes out so tender.  What is so special about this pot is that you cook on low, the juices stay in the pot and there is no overflow.  There is enough room for the air to rise, but it doesn’t need to escape, keeping all of that moisture in.  Once I got the new pot  I instantly thought, wow we are going to put an end to the “what’s for dinner questions” for a while!  My sister-in-law suggested some recipes and I was eager to put them to the test.  First up, chicken masala, then carne guisada.   Chicken breast doesn’t take that long to make, but the sauce takes at least an hour.  And of course you need to marinate your meat for at least 4 hours.  I made this dish, thought it was pretty good and my audience thought it was ok.  Hmmm, well cereal is ok too and it doesn’t take any effort to prepare.   Next up carne guisada, this is a Mexican stew dish.  I thought maybe this really should go in the crock pot because it takes 6 hours, but after reading the recipe online from a person who didn’t have a crockpot, I thought, ok in the tagine it went.  It took all day for this recipe to cook and when it was ready, I excitedly put a plate together for the fam with churro beans and a tortilla.  One said it was good, the other suddenly developed a loss of appetite.  What the heck?  This one that lost his appetite can eat boat loads of Chick-fil-a, What-a-burger and Popeyes.  (His culinary preference).  No problem, I have a bunch of left overs and there will be no need to hit up these places tomorrow because we have food.

Lastly, on my self pity rant, a note about my child who will not eat meat (but will eat seafood).  I get so tired of hearing I want food for dinner.  So, I decided to come up with a recipe for this child to eat.  Think about it, no asking, just a meal prepared for you hot, fresh, home made. Instantly I was asked what it was that I was making.  I responded coconut shrimp, it’s actually in a sauce and served over rice.  It was neither Indian or Thai.  This child (who is an adult) asked for something else instead of my plan.  I said the kitchen was open for her to make whatever.  I am willing to make the dish I purchased the items for.  Here is a decision point.  Do you make the dish you planned to make, or skip it because it was met with some resentment?  Spoiler, made the dish and it is met with total protest.  So, do you waste the time effort and energy making food?  At least I know I have a meal prepared for tomorrow, lunch for me.

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So my exciting sudden interest in cooking time consuming dishes has been satisfied and I don’t need to do it anymore.  The fam is fine with fast food and cereal.  Lesson learned.  I know that my food is not bad.  I would admit it if it was awful.  I just have these really picky people, lucky they are able to be so picky.  Of course I would like some additional recognition that the food is better than the usual if I put forth the time, effort and energy that the food prepared is better than usual.  Short cut methods are just as good if not better in some instances.

I have a friend that says she can’t cook.  This is non-sense.  Some things are a hit some a miss.  Again, I really think the dishes I made were really good.  My favorite show is Naked and Afraid.  If you have ever watched it, two people are dropped in a location and they have to find, shelter, water, food, protection for 21 days.  Most starve themselves for the 21 days because they are unable to hunt or find food.  I’m sure these people would be really happy to eat what I prepared.  So that is what I am going with, someone would LOVE what I make.

Will someone please eat my food?