Monday, May 15, 2017

One day in San Diego, CA

When I started planning my 24 hours in San Diego, I only had one objective in mind: eat all the tacos. I drove off straight from a job interview and arrived just in time for happy hour. 

I started at Puesto by La Jolla. They serve fancy tacos and delicious margaritas. My favorite by far was the garlicky mushroom veg taco on a homemade purple tortilla. Amazing vegetarian tacos are hard to come by (sometimes it's just plain lettuce), so I always appreciate an extra yummy one. 

After much time admiring the leisurely life of seals, I went to go meet up with Evan for drinks at Bali Hai. It was the most upscale tiki bar that I have ever been to with sweeping views of the San Diego skyline. It was also the first time I had a mai tai, which they're infamous for. Real talk though, that drink must've been straight rum. 

We kind of failed on the dinner part. We took a little too long with the aperitif and by the time we got to Salvucci's, it was 8:45, and they close at 9pm. Apparently that's normal. We instead shared several appetizers at Stella Public House before heading to Half Door Brewing Co. and a walk through the Gaslamp District. 

The next morning I headed to Pacific Beach for breakfast at Kono's Cafe, a low key surf vibe breakfast joint with oceanfront seating. This was simply the best breakfast burrito I've ever had. The tortilla was soft and the eggs perfectly scrambled. Ample portions, perfect for a full day out. 

After enjoying the beach, Balboa Park, and the marina, it was time for the long drive back to LA. I went to the nearest Oscar's for a final meal, and man did it live up to the hype! Those shrimp tacos seem so simple, but I have never had more delicious ones. Succulent shrimp topped with avocado is just the best. 

Next time: Tacos El Gordo! 

Breakfast burrito at Kono's on Pacific Beach

Shrimp tacos at Oscar's is a must

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Case of the leftovers: breakfast hash

Happy Easter! As y'all know, I am the leftover queen (case 1, 2, 3). I hate to see good food go to waste, so in honor of Easter and resurrection, here's a recipe of a bunch of leftovers I had in my fridge brought back to life as this beautiful breakfast hash. 

Last weekend, my cousins brought me to eat at the Original Pantry Cafe in DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles). It's one of those very old school menu on the wall, pay at the door, cash only, 24 hr joints that's just a LA staple. Let me tell you how the thick cut buttered sourdough toast just blew my mind away. It was just inexplicably good. And yes, it was just simple thick cut buttered sourdough toast. That's it. Needless to say there are none of those leftover, but I couldn't finish my bacon and homefries because sourdough toast. 

A few evenings ago, my niece and I spent the afternoon exploring the Arts District and after what seemed like endless miles of meandering, we finally made it back to my place to whip up a quick dinner and some necessary fresh mango margaritas. I bought a rotisserie chicken, which I shredded the breast and tossed it with homemade pesto, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls. It was delicious, and we even made it in time to get taiyaki (fish shaped cake traditionally filled with red bean) soft serve sundaes. 

Which finally brings us to this hash. Part Pantry, part chicken salad, all delicious. As always, feel free to free style. 

... how do you all feel about my recent slew of no-recipe recipes? Just got to go with the flow always. 

Breakfast hash (serves 2)
1 cup cooked potatoes
1/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded
2 slices bacon, minced
1/4 cup mozzarella, sliced or shredded
2 sprigs green onion, diced 
2 eggs, beat 
1 tbsp olive oil

Optional: serve with Crystal hot sauce (my favorite) or balsamic vinegar 

1. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add bottom half (white portion) of green onion and bacon. Once sizzling and browning, add chicken and potatoes 
2. As everything in the pan becomes a nice golden brown color, turn the heat down to medium low and immerse the pan with egg
3. As the edges of the egg start to crisp, top with mozzarella. 
4. Dare to flip! 
5. Sprinkle with green onion tops and serve immediately over arugula

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Papaya lime fruit salad

Not going to lie, one of the main reasons I've been slacking on the blogging (in addition to picking my life up and moving across the country for a second time) is Mardi Gras. It's not just a day or a holiday; its a lifestyle. This time around, my krewe had it so together because we are all in our mid 20's and so good at adulting and because the Dinner Club Squad just knows how to throw down. Gone are the days of gas station fried chicken and biscuits (except Ash Wednesday because real life was just too real that day), and in are the impromptu daily brunches and crawfish boils. Just call us over and there will be strata, bacon, french toast, fruit salad, mimosas, rum fruit smoothies, and frozen Irish coffees in no time. 

So here's a recipe for a perfectly refreshing fruit salad that will take you no time to put together and can serve a crowd. As a dietitian, I always feel obligated to bring the fruit or salad just in case no one else does. As a human, everyone loves fresh fruit, so it's the perfect addition to any pot luck. Feel free to improvise! 

Papaya lime fruit salad (serves 6-8) 
1 large papaya, cut into chunks 
1 apple, diced
1 cup green grapes, halved 
1 lime, juiced 

1. Gently toss fruit together in a large bowl with lime juice
2. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve

Optional: pineapple, blueberries 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bowls in Los Angeles

We got so much catching up to do.

Acai bowl and veggie empanada at Ubatuba

I've been going through some life transitions in the past few months, mostly picking up my life in New Orleans and moving it to Los Angeles. Let me ask you, do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Though I can no longer get a shrimp po-boy, fried catfish, or cheesy grits whenever I want, there is quite an abundance of acai bowls, street tacos, and specialty desserts. It's not the belly filling soul warming comfort food that I got used to, but I can get used to this too.

My first pokebowl during my first week in Los Angeles from Sea Salt. Not
gonna lie, there's a bit of a learning curve for building the ultimate bowl!
Now I know to go for the grains + greens and of course ALL the toppings.

A gorgeous and delicious granola bowl at Republique. Highly recommend
brunch here. Everything from the mushroom toast to the shakshouka and
creamfilled doughtnut holes... I can't wait to come back.

Cava just came to Culver City, and it is my homie's favorite. It's a build your
own bowl Mediterranean style with so many veggie options! 

Accidentally stumbled upon my friend photographed in LA Downtowner, so
had to visit him at work for some Taiwanese street food. I will definitely be
back for Lao Tao's Rub a Belly braised pork belly bowl and oyster pancake.
Don't forget the limeade! 

And last but not least, the first thing I cooked in my new home! Of course
it's a shrimp fried rice bowl with garlic sauteed bok choy.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bananas Foster French Toast

I recently had new neighbors from Chile and Argentina move in. They're in New Orleans for a summer abroad to practice English and to work at Cafe du Monde. I told them that I had brunch at Surrey's earlier and had this delicious bananas foster French toast. To my surprise, they told me that they have never had either brunch or French toast before. How one lives life without ever having brunch simply baffles me, but I obviously arranged for us to have a homemade brunch with lots of French toast! 

Because I was making a large batch, I baked the soaked bread in the oven, but I made the recipe again a few nights later for a midnight snack and simply pan fried it all in the skillet. Both came out delicious, but I must give most of the credit to the buttery rummy bananas foster sauce. This is by no means a healthy recipe, just a delicious indulgence. Please don't judge the amount of butter or sugar used in the recreation of my NOLA inspired recipe. 

Served best with a cafe au lait! 

Bananas Foster French Toast (serves 4)
1/2 loaf day old French bread (about 6-8 thick slices) 
2 cups milk
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Bananas Foster Sauce: 
2-3 bananas, sliced
1 stick butter
1/3 cup rum
1/4 cup water
1/4 sugar

1. Mix together milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. 

 - Preheat oven to 325F
 - Line bread on oiled pan/skillet and pour milk mixture over. The bread should soak it all up. 
 - Bake for 25-35 minutes or until edges are crisp

 - Lightly oil pan on medium heat
 - Dip bread into milk mixture and fry both sides in pan until golden brown 

3. In the meantime, prepare bananas foster sauce. 
 - Melt together butter, rum, and sugar
 - Once bubbling, add bananas. Feel free to set on fire. (practice safety!) 
 - Remove from heat after 2 minutes, do not over cook bananas. 

4. Pour sauce over French toast

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Holiday party season: festive roasted acorn squash salad & spiced rum bundt cake

I holiday partied hard this year. From hotel ballrooms to Bourbon bar crawls, I did it all this merry season of joy. There were trays of jambalaya, skillets of bacon mac and cheese, the hams, the turkeys, and of course the endless booze. For our holiday dinner last night, I brought a festive seasonal salad (because I'm a dietitian) and a semi-homemade spiced rum cake for dessert (because time and balance). I wish I had more photos, but the party was too lit and the food too delicious. Blogger fail / priorities, though. Enjoy the recipes, I got many compliments and thanks for the salad. Under appreciated necessity on the dinner plate! 

Festive roasted acorn squash salad
1 lb salad greens (I had a spicy herby mix from the farmers market)
1 acorn squash, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup shaved parmesan 
4 - 5 tbsp balsamic reduction dressing*
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup 
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp all spice
optional: coppa / charcuterie of choice

*Balsamic reduction dressing
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Line baking sheet with acorn squash and walnuts. Drizzle olive oil, maple syrup, all spice, and salt. Toss and bake for 35-45 minutes or until edges of squash browned and flesh soft
3. When ready to serve, toss together roasted squash with greens, dressing and half of the pomegranate seeds and parmesan
4. Top the salad with the optional coppa, parmesan, and pomegranate seeds

✓ vegetables
✓ fruit
✓ fiber
✓ unsaturated fats

✓ vitamin A
✓ vitamin C

Semi-homemade spiced rum cake
1 box spice cake mix
1 pack vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup pecans, crushed
1/2 cup dried cherries 
4 eggs
4 oz buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup milk with 1 tsp vinegar)
4 oz cup rum
4 oz oil (I used avocado, olive / canola are fine) 

Butter rum glaze
1 stick butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup rum
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Lightly oil a non-stick bundt cake pan. Sprinkle bottom of the pan with crushed pecans
3. Combine the remaining of all cake ingredients and mix until smooth
4. Pour batter into bundt cake pan and bake for 1 hour
5. In the last 15 minutes if baking time, prepare the butter rum glaze. Reduce all ingredients in a small saucepan
6. Once bundt cake is prepared, pour a third of the rum glaze over the cake. Allow to set for 5 minutes
7. Flip over bundt cake onto a serving dish, poke numerous holes into the cake, and slowly pour the remainder rum glaze over the cake. Allow to set for at least half an hour for rum to absorb before serving 

Grateful for good food and great friends!