Tuesday, March 27, 2007

No Pho, Dessert for Breakfast, and My Recent Kitchen Creations

Hello folks, well I have continued to extend my list of blogs I read, mainly adding the recipe blogs I find interesting and tasty. I am hoping that as I increase my number of posts and make more connections with others, MY readers will increase.

It is now spring break and I have two restaurants that I have been to in the last week: Pho Saigon and Cinnamon's in Kailua.

Pho Saigon

I had been wanting to revist a pho place because the last time I tried this Vietnamese noodle dish was at least 5 years ago. My memory was that I didn't really like it, but now that I am trying to be more epicurious, I decided to try again. And my memory served me correct.

My fiance and I went to Pho Saigon across from Walmart last tuesday. I wanted to try a couple different things so he ordered a pho with meat balls and strips of beef, and I ordered spring roll and chicken on top of cold noodle salad. The waiter was very helpful in explaining the different things we could have in our pho, and as we waited for our order, we experimented with the different tastes of pastes and hot sauces that are used to accompany various dishes. When our meal came out, the pho came with a big plate of sprouts and (much to my dismay) a heaping pile of fresh cilantro. Randy started on the pho and I dug into my spring rolls which were very good, especially dipped into the lightly sweet sauce with shredded carrots that was brought with my dish. The chicken was a little spicy and had peanuts on top but I enjoyed that as well. Unfortunately, because I was sharing, I had to give half of mine to Randy and eat some of his pho. Even without the cilantro, I did not like it very much. The beef and meatballs didn't have much flavor, and the taste of the broth simply didn't sit well on my tongue. Needless to say, now I have learned my lesson and will stay away from pho next time I eat at a Vietnamese restauramt. I did end the meal plesantly by buying a melon flavored bubble tea drink for us to share.

Cinnamon's Restaurant in Kailua

Being raised in Kailua, I have eaten at Cinnamon's many times for breakfast, and each experience has been very plesant. This time I went with my mother for breakfast on Saturday morning. The inside of the restaurant is nice and homey with a country feel and a large gazebo like stucture in the middle of the main dining room that you can sit inside and look down on the rest of the restaurant. The best part about Cinnamon's is their daily pancake (and now french toast) specials. I have tried (and loved) their carmel banana pancakes and another time their holiday themed gingerbread pancakes.

My mother had already eaten breakfast and I knew I wanted my usual, but we both wanted to try the specials. The gracious waitress allowed us to order just one of each (pancake and french toast) even though on the menu they come in stacks of two or more. My mother chose the french toast special of Sweet Bread French Toast with a Orange Cream Sauce and Fresh Strawberries and Blueberries. I only had a bite, but I wish that I could have eaten more! When it came out, it looked so beautiful and colorful with fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I don't particularly like french toast but this was amazing! The sweet sauce went delicately with the fruit and it tasted almost like a dessert. I could see flecks of orange zest in the sauce and there were also orange slivers to accompany the other fruits. My mother savored every bite and said it was heavenly.

I ordered one pancake of the daily pancake special and when it came out it filled the plate it was so big! (Sorry no picture on it) The flavor was pumpkin with a haupia (coconut) and cheesecake cream sauce. It wasn't presented very fancy like the french toast; it was a slightly orange color pancake with what seemed to be two separate flavored sauces smothered on top. This tasted even more like dessert than the other one and I am glad I ordered something else to balance out the sweetness. But oh, it was soooo good. The pancake was moist and fluffy, a perfect texture, and the sauces were sweet and delightful. The haupia flavor definately came out but the cheesecake flavor tasted more like a cream cheese frosting. I didn't mind though, I nearly licked my plate clean, and my mother had more than a few bites of the pancake.

The other thing I ordered was a half order of a Veggie Sunrise (?). This was a half an english muffin with fresh spinach and a slice of tomato on top, all covered in a rich cheddar sauce. This order came with one scrambled egg and a side of homestyle potatoes. I can be picky when it comes to homestyle potatoes, but these had just enough onions and herbs to give them flavor and I relished the taste with a healthy addition of ketchup. The cheddar sauce is really what makes this dish and its sharp taste is savory but not too overpowering that you can't taste the fresh veggies.

Overall this was a fantastic breakfast and I wish I could taste their daily specials every day so I wouldn't miss one of their original winning flavor combinations!


I made a couple things worth noting this weekend. The lesser of the two I won't provide a recipe for since you can pretty much use any meatloaf recipe you have. Becuase we haven't been food shopping for a while, I was looking for something that didn't require many ingredients and that could use up the 1/2 a lb of ground turkey in the freezer. The solution? Mini meatloaves. I mixed the meat with oats, a bit of bread crumbs, a dash of wostershire, some ketchup, and herbs, and put them in four muffin cups of a 12 cup muffin tin. Like the recipe I was basing my dinner off of said, I made small indentations in the top center of the mini loaves before baking and filled the indentations with a squirt of ketchup. I wish I had taken a picture, but that is a testiment to how good they turned out; I didn't even think about the camera!

The next recipe is something I made for my mom and step dad on friday night, but I had made once before so I knew how it would turn out. I made a carb-concious recipe of zucchini lasagna that replaces the pasta in lasagna with thin strips of baked zucchini. Trust me on this, this recipe is so delicious and has become one of my new favorite homecooked meals. I love zucchini as a vegetable and anything that is low in calories and fat and lets me eat cheesy, tomatoey, zucchini-goodness without having to worry about pasta calories is my new hero. So without further ado, the recipe:

Zucchini Lasagna

Serves 8

Per serving: calories 265, 13g fat, 21g protein (for regular recipe-not my lowfat variation)


4-5 medium-size zucchini OR 3 zucchini and 2 yellow summer squash

1/2 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning (or improvise on herbs like I did)

1/8 tsp salt plus 1/2 tsp

1/8 tsp black pepper plus 1/2 tsp

2 Tbspn Extra Virgin Olive oil

1 and 1/4 pounds ground turkey

2 cups prepared low-calorie chunky mushroom pasta sauce, like Healthy Choice

1 container (16 oz) 1% low fat cottage cheese (I used nonfat)

1 cup fresh basil leaves

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup grated Parmasean cheese

8 (or more) Tbspn packaged Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 package (8oz) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese


1) Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coast two-three baking pans with non stick cooking spray. Trim the ends of zucchini and cut lengthwise into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Spread on prepared pans in single layer; season with Italian seasoning, 1/8 tsp pepper, and 1/8 tsp salt.

2)Bake zucchini slices in 425 degrees oven for 25 minutes, turning over once halfway through baking.

3) Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add ground turkey and cook, stirring to break up clumps until no longer pink. Stir in 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and pasta sauce; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

4)Remove zucchini slices from oven; set aside. Reduce oven temp. to 375 degrees.

5) In food processor, combine cottage cheese, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, basil, egg yolks, and 2 tablespoons grated parmasean. Pulse until all ingredients are combined and mixture is smooth.

6) Assemble: Aprinkle 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs in bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Top with half the zucchini slices, covering bottom of dish. Spread zucchini with cottage cheese mixture. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons bread crumbs. Top with remaining zucchini slices. Sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs. Top with ground turkey mixture. Spread mozzarella cheese over turkey layer. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons grated parmasean.

7) Bake lasagna in a 375 degree oven until cheese is browned and sides of dish are bubbling, about 35 min. Let stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes to cool before serving.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nico's, Paddy's, and the I missed Donna Day Cheesecake

It's so funny that Kathy would post about Nico's right when I'm about to, but that is a testament to the awesomeness that is Nico's at Pier 38. Long have I waited to try the infamous burger and furikake ahi that Reid so adoringly reviewed on Ono Kine Grindz. And finally, last week thursday, I made it there. (I don't have pics of my own so I am borrowing from Kathy's A Passion for Food blog)

When I walked in, there was a line coming practically out the door to order, all the seats under the awning were full, and I was surprised to see those pager things usually given at restaurants at malls like CPK and Ruby Tuesdays. When it was my turn to order, I knew just what I wanted: a double cheeseburger medium rare, and furikake ahi plate medium rare.

When the food was ready I was nearly quivering in my seat because everything smelled delish. I carefully cut the burger in half so things would be fair between my fiance and I, and I took a bite. Now I'm not a big burger person, but when I have had one I like, I REALLY LOVE it! Currently my top burgers have been at In n Out (cali), and Teddy's Bigger Burgers. And this one is now ranked up there with my faves. The pattys were juicy and melted together with just the right amount of cheese. The sauce (not sure what it was, I scarfed the burger too quick to tell) was dripping from the savory soaked buns. The veggies were just the right amount and my optimal consistency between being too crunchy and fresh that the flavors don't mingle well with the burger, and being too soppy you can hardy tell they were veggies. I usually don't like onions (raw) but the onions on this burger weren't overpowering.

The french fries were actually just how I like them...soft but not too thick. They reminded me of a grownup version of mcdonalds fries. They weren't overly salted, and I ate them with ketchup before realizing (a little too late-I had only a few fries left) that they tasted wonderful in the ginger cilantro sauce.

Now to the ahi. I love fish, but don't eat it as often as I like because we don't buy it for home cooking (unless as poke) and I only go out to eat once a week. I was really looking forward to this ahi because of all the hype I heard. The ahi was cooked exactly how I love it, seared but not til dry on the outside, and juicy as sashimi on the inside. I love furikake on a lot of things and it went perfectly with the fish (with its hint of sweet) that I barely used the ginger cilantro sauce on the fish at all. Now speaking of the sauce, I was VERY hesitant to try it because I absolutely DETEST cilantro. So I made my fiance try it first, and he said you couldn't even taste the chinese parsley. In fact he was right! The flavor was a light touch of all the different components (cilantro, ginger, garlic) but not so much that you could really distinct one flavor from another. Needless to say, I enjoyed it very much, especially on my rice. The nalo greens were good as well, with the sweet dressing (that could have been a little less generous); maybe I'll ask for it on the side next time.

Did it exceed my expectations? Without a doubt, and I am counting the days until I can go back. Next time (though I would like to try something new-these items were so good I think I'm in a rut), I want to sit on one of the few concrete tables outside next to the water. I left with a giant grin on my face and my belly bursting with goodness.

St.Paddy's day was spent just like it should for a 21 yr old Irish girl. I started the day off with blueberry and golden raisin scones (using the last of the blueberries from my mom's cheesecake) and a modified Irish coffee using sweet Irish Mist liqour instead of Irish Whiskey in my coffee. For lunch we went green wine/beer tasting and also had some corned beef and cabbage at our favorite little wine shop "The Wine Stop". Then we went to "Tamura's Fine Wines and Liqours" and picked us up a bottle of Bailey's!

And what did I use the Bailey's for? Well as you can see, it was for an Irish style dessert. I searched the internet for a Bailey's cake, and found one that used white cake mix, jello chocolate pudding, and chocolate chips. It also had a glaze to drizzle on top. But I didn't have white cake and since I am a chocolate lover anyways, I switched to chocolate cake mix, omitted the chocolate chips (because I thought it might be a little too much), and decided to frost the cake instead. Now I know for next time not to use cream cheese store bought frosting because compared to the frosting I made for the pink pumpkins (previous post), it tasted too sweet and not as cream cheesy as I would have liked. I mixed Baileys in with the frosting, but after tasting a bit, decided that the whole cake didn't taste enough like the liqour so I drizzled....okay poured it over the cake. Maybe I was a little tipsy by that point. My sister had brought over Irish Cream with a hint of mint which we finished off that night....the three of us.

I also had for dinner a savory Guinness shepards pie that I made with ground turkey (instead of beef or lamb). It tasted pretty good, especially with some ketchup, but the sauce was too watery. I followed directions, it said I could add the marinade to the meat mixture before putting it in the oven, and though I put some cornstarch in, it didn't thicken like I'd hoped. Also the added Guinness sort of drowned out the other flavors of the fresh herbs and wostershire sauce I put in.

***Note to self, chambord is good with irish cream and ceme de cacao***


Hey, Hey, What is Donna Day?

I read several recipe food blogs now and see this universal themed thing called Donna Day...I have come to assume that Donna is a revered chef, even though I have never heard of her. Since I had been seeing all these blogs with a cheesecake theme for Sat.'s HHDD, and I was already making cheesecake for my mom, I thought, what the hell, I'll enter too. But no, I became nervous and wondered if these foodies would think I was butting into their event and since I didn't even know anyone, I just kept my post til later.

And today is later. I made, in addition to the wannabe pumpkin bars, a delicious cheesecake that was part recipe from a Woman's Day mag, and part make-up-as-I-go-depending-on-whats-in-the-cupboard. It was a no-bake, and I was wary, but it turned out so good that I'm glad I left it with my mom because I probably would have binged on it had we taken it home. The tart citrus blend went very well with the sweet blueberries. This is so easy and yummy, I will definately be making this (or a variation) again.

No-Bake Blueberry Topped Citrus Cheesecake


1 Nilla premade cookie crust

2 bricks Neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese) I was short 2 oz and it still turned out fine

3/4 cup sugar-I used splenda

2 Tbsp lemon zest

1 cup plus 1/4 cup OJ

1 pkt unflavored gelatin

Citrusy or your choice jelly (I used a local lilikoi-passion fruit)

Canned/frozen/or fresh fruit for topping-I used canned blueberries (NOT pie filling) but fresh would probably have been less runny


1. Freeze Nilla crust while preparing filling so crust becomes/stays firm. (easier to work with)

2. Beat cream cheese, sugar, zest, and 1 cup orange juice in large bowl until smooth

3. Sprinkle gelatin over remaining orange juice in a small saucepan. Let stand a couple minutes. Stir over medium-low heat until steaming and gelatin has completely dissolved. Take off heat and slowly incorporate gelatin mixture into cheese mixture while beating on low (or gently). Proccess until blended.

4. Spread enough jelly over chilled pie crust so that it thinly covers very bottom. Then pour in cheese mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours until firm.

5. Up to an hour prior to serving, garnish/cover/decorate top of cheesecake with fruit as desired.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Pyramids Lunch Buffet, Pink Pumpkins, and my weakness for cream cheese frosting...

Hello world, not that many people read this anyway. I am sitting here after binging on my pumpkin bars (frozen) with cream cheese frosting, which I will tell you about later. But first I need to get my review done.

The Pyramids

Recently I went to Pyramid's Restaurant (Last Friday to be more exact), and I had the lunch buffet. For $10.95 it was good, but I wish they had more dishes so I could get a better sampling of the Mediterranean food I've never tried like baba ghannouge, grape leaves, and moussaka. I did eat my fill however, and liked everything about it.

This is part of the interior which is very pretty. There are hieroglyphics painted on the walls which are designed to look like a pyramid (blocks). They have these intricate lanterns hanging down and other decor items as well.

My friends and I started with the cold items. There was fresh delicious pita bread cut into small triangles, very smooth hommus, yogurt sauce, a greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, some sort of vinegarette, and feta. They also had tabouli which is made with (i think) parsley, bulgur wheat, tomatoes, and green onions, and it seemed to me like a Mediterranean version of lomi salmon (the texture and use of onions and tomatoes). They also had falafel balls which I was excited to try because I had never had them before. I liked them a lot, especially with a little yogurt sauce, but the flavors were hard to place. It reminded me of a Greek version of a hush puppy.

(In the picture clockwise from top we have...beef/lamb strips; roasted chicken; yogurt sauce; pita strips with hommus; falafel; stewed okra over basmati rice.) I was nervous about the meats. The chicken was good and had an interesting smokey flavor, but I don't like lamb and the little buffet label said beef and lamb. I took a couple strips to my seat and looked at it. Some looked darker than others so I assumed it was the lamb. I took a bite and it tasted only slightly like lamb but not so much that I didn't like it. I was plesantly suprised and asked the waitress which pieces were the lamb. She said that it is ground (?) lamb meat mixed together with ground beef so the product is only part lamb, which explains the subtle taste. SUCH a good idea! I enjoyed putting the strips of meat on the pita triangles with some hommus and yogurt sauce...it made a mini gyro. The okra stew was my least favorite. The sauce was a little spicy and the flavor was alright though the runnyness of the soup like sauce didn't seem to let the vegetables hold in much juice. It went well with the rice though.

The check came in a pretty box, and I took this picture to show the detailed place mats that were under the clear table top. That's the rice pudding to the left which was not your average kozy shack pudding. The pieces of rice were smalled and more round in my mouth, and the flavor wasn't as creamy as kozy shack. I also detected maybe a hint of coconut flavor and the top was sprinkled with nuts.

Overall this was a great lunch where I ate until I was full and had a good time trying different and familiar flavors in a nice Eqyptian atmosphere.


Yeah so, onto recipes...my mom's birthday is tonight and I have this recipe book that claims "Family Favorites Made Lighter". So far I haven't done too well on the recipes from there, but I thought I'd try dessert. I made these pumpkin bars/squares with splenda (not thinking that they might be done earlier than the book said because of the splenda). They came out drier and harder than expected, but maybe its because I was thinking more along the lines of the softness of lemon bars. I made a cream cheese frosting (using real sugar) and lemon zest that was so good, but when I was about to add more vanilla (I was distracted by my fiance) I instead added red food coloring! You know how they all look the same in those little brown glass bottles! So...I had somewhat dry pumpkin bars with pink as a rose frosting. *sigh* Which is why they are pink pumpkins and why I won't post a picture of them. They were less than 90 cals each, and somehow I got it into my head that I could eat the last two that I had reserved for me after getting home from work today...I don't know what it is, but that frosting is so dang addicting...even if it is pink!

So I made also (because the bars didn't come out too great), a no bake citrus cheesecake topped with blueberries....a recipe I invented out of my silly little head. We'll see how it goes and I might just post the recipes and pics tomorrow.

There is one thing that turned out pretty good, the beef tenderloin with port wine sauce and puff pastry. Well...the beef wasn't my fault....it had wonderful flavor, but the meat was somewhat tough and gristly, but I'm sure that if we had bought a more expensive roast it would have turned out perfectly. I had flavored the roast with some spices and rosemary, and added port, beef brother, onions, and rosemary to the sauce. The port wine sauce on the other hand was to die for! I had never made a sauce so sweet, so savory...I am still impressed. It made the whole dinner good...tough meat and all!

....To come...my review on Nico's Pier 38, and my cheesecake recipe. Also, my exciting cooking and drinking plans for St.Paddy's!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Places I've Dined in the Last Couple Months and My Recent Kitchen Experiments

The first picture is of a yummy apple breakfast bake (cake) that was topped with apples and had small pieces of apples on the inside. I didn't leave it inside the oven for long enough so the middle was a little soft, but I kind of liked it that way. I used part whole wheat flour, part all purpose, and also put oats in it. It actually smelled and tasted very similar to the apple cinnamon nutrigrain bar...very tasty.
The second picture is of a recipe I modified from Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals on the Food Channel. It was Chicken Marsala (with three types of mushrooms-button, shitake, and portabello) with a savory tomato-y sauce (that was not like any tomato sauce I had ever had) made with butter, garlic, chicken stock, tomato paste, and wostershire. The pasta I used were shells, but I cooked them too early so they sat in the pasta pot until the rest was ready which resulted in them being a little too soft and stuck together. Also, I put a little too much pepper in the pasta. The marsala sauce and mushrooms, however, tasted amazing and I put shredded spinach on the top for garnish.
The third picture is of something I made this morning because I had some yummy pears I wanted to use in sort of a muffin/breakfast thing (but I'm not supposed to be making/eating desserts for lent). I modified a streusel apple muffin recipe from the food blog Bakingsheet, and I used pears chopped up instead of grated apples, and oats instead of walnuts. It is very good...relatively low in cals (205 per muffin). The flavor of the muffin part itself isn't significatnly sweet, but the streusel topping is, and a light pear taste is apparent when you bite into the soft chunks. I used a splenda blend of brown sugar (1/2 splenda, 1/2 brown sugar), and half whole wheat flour, half all purpose. The recipe was only supposed to make 8 muffins, but turned out 11 for me.
The next picture doesn't do the meal justice! I made a grilled veggie open faced foccacia sandwich. MMM! I used a sundried tomato and cheese foccacia mix (firenze blend from Ross) that was actually rather bland by itself, but paired with the veggies, spread, and cheese, it was just fine. I used provolone cheese melted on the foccacia and then spread with a homemade (by me) cumin mayo that was not too spicy but had enough of a kick to layer the flavors of the sandwich. I grilled eggplant, bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, and onion. It was supposed to have a top (which would have helped it stay together), but the veggies piled so high that I left it open-faced. I would definately repeat this recipe!
Flan...this was supposed to be a pumpkin flan, but upon looking at the frigerated pumpkin, it was moldy, so I just made the flan sans pumpkin. It was pretty good, the bottom (when in the oven, the top) was a little hard (more rubbery than hard-not supple like the rest of the custard), and I think in an attempt to melt all the sugar, I may have burnt the caramel a little resulting in it being not as sweet. Overall I think I will try another recipe next time.
The last pic is of Lemon Broccoli Chicken made with cream of broccoli soup and fresh lemon. The flavor was suprisingly VERY lemony....maybe a little too much so, and I think it overpowered the broccoli taste a little. Also in the picture is Risotto Primavera with chopped zucchini and peas. This was good, especially blended with the sauce from the chicken, but was a little bland on its own. I also wished it had been creamier like the other risottos I like.

Places I've Eaten at in the Last Couple of Months

Kaka'ako Kitchen
I love this place! The price for the quality can't be beat and the food is soo fresh and delicious! I don't remember what my fiance ordered, but I had the calamari spinach salad with sweet chili dressing. I never remembered whether or not I had liked calamari before this, but I loved it! I usually stay away from anything with the name "chili" in it, but the dressing was a harmonious blend of sweetness with a bite. It was the perfect size and filled me up without making me feel too full. MMM can't wait to go back!

Gordon Biersch
This place was alright...i wasn't really impressed. I had some cocktails which were hit and miss. My first one was a tropical cosmopolitan which was not too sweet and very delicious. It was made with Skky melon vodka, midori, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice. I could really taste the melon flavors at the end! YUM I also sipped (and liked it so much I drank 1/2 of it) my dad's pomegranate mojito which I expected to be really tart, but the rum balanced out the pomegranate flavor and it was very good. After not liking or drinking the sangria (could barely taste any fruit) or the rasberry martini (which almost had the taste of cough syrup) I found another drink I liked which was the Cran Bluberi Lemonade. This drink was so good, I had never had any blueberry flavored alcohol at all and this was a perfect blend of Stoli Bluberi Vodka, sour mix, and a splash of cranberry juice with just the hint of the blueberry flavor found in a blueberry muffin. The food wasn't really bragworthy either, I had a gorgonzola pear salad that had barely sweet and too crunchy slivers of pear, and this huge hunk of gorgonzola that was way too much so I had to crumble off bits myself. At least we were treated by my dad. We went on Mardi Gras and the music and crowds were pretty loud so I might not be inclined to go back.

TGI Fridays
I used to come here a lot when I was a kid with my parents, in fact this was where I learned to love baby back ribs, but more recently when I had been (about a year ago), I had ordered a new fave, the Jack Daniels flat iron steak. I'm usually not a big steak person but the barely spicy, sweet jack daniels sauce is amazing. But this time that I went, my fiance and I both got the appetizer, entree, dessert combos. First of all, just one appetizer/entree/dessert combo was enough to share for two, and we ended up taking much of it home, resulting in dinner that evening. We started with drinks (the ones in my profile picture)-GIANT servings of Mojito (my fiance's choice), and mango strawberry (I think) margarita. I asked for it on the rocks, not blended, but the waitress got it wrong so the bar floated extra tequila on the top...so good!

For an appetizer I got the bean fries with cucumber wasabi ranch dip. These were so good, especially with the light hint of wasabi in the dip. They were addicting! We also got fried mac and cheese and potato skins. They were both pretty good, I like the idea of the fried mac and cheese, but they couldn't stand up to the bean fries.

For an entree I went back to my old favorite of the ribs, and my fiance got the pulled pork jack Daniels sandwich, that I tried but didn't really like; it was too spicy. Actually, mine was spicier than I remember it but the sweetness in the sauce offset it just enough that I finished them (with the help of my fiance) in finger licking-pleasure. By the way, I really like the salty spice blend they sprinkle on the french fries, and they go great dipped in the Jack Daniels sauce. I think these ribs are way better than the ribs from Chilis.

We had one dessert at the restaurant (sharing the chocolate angel swirl cake) and took the cinnabon cheesecake home. The angel swirl cake was very light and a good ending because we were so stuffed, but I was kind of disappointed because it only came with a couple strawberries instead of the big fruit medley they show in the picture on the website. I personally liked the cinnabon cheesecake better, that had the delicious taste of cinnabon and the sweet drizzle of the icing, but still had a cheesecake taste. Not that there's a problem with the Cheesecake Factory's desserts, but the one cheesecake I tried from there around Halloween time was really good (peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake...or something), but didn't taste at all like cheesecake. At least this Cinnabon cheesecake still tasted like it was supposed to.
Overall this meal overdid me on the fried-foods, making me feel slightly sick to the stomach, so I think we won't order so many fried foods/appetizers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Recent Eats- Satura Cake Tasting, Ka Ikena, and Super Bowl Spread

Wedding Cake Tasting at Satura Sakes
These cakes were very delish, but I want something dark and sinful at my wedding (temp. date summer 08). All these cakes were very light on the palate and the "cream fresh" was yummy and not very sweet as a frosting, but like I said, not what I would choose since my sweet tooth is unsatiable. I tried a shortcake with fresh tropical berries and vanilla cream, a chocolate cake with rasberry cream, chocolate cake with caramel and mocha cream (the flavors were faint but blended well), shortcake with mango coconut cream (by far the sweetest-which wasn't saying much, but very tropical and coconut), shortcake with mango-passionfruit cream and red currants (this was by far the most delightful, I had never had currents before and the sharp tartness was pleasantly unexpected), and finally my favorite the gently flavored green tea.

Lunch at Ka Ikena-KCC Culinary School Restaurant
This was the best meal I have had in many months. It was fantastic!!! Firstly, I paid a set price (no tip allowed since they are students) of $15 dollars per person (includes roll, coffee or tea, and 3 courses), and secondly the food quality was amazing, I wish I had taken more pictures of the food, not just desserts. Though the service was slightly lacking, the food, price, and beautiful view of Hawaii Kai made up for it.

I started with a duck confit salad with 3 pear slices and my fiance got the vissysoise (wrong spelling i bet). The salad was no more than 8 bites set up nicely in a margarita type glass but it was very tasty, and the cold potato soup was perfect. For an entree I had ordered some dish that they were out of (I think it was Salmon and shrimp or something) so I settled with shrimp and scallops and my fiance got the Veal Osso Bucco with risotto. I have absolutely NO complaints! My entree was presented nicely with 5 shrimp and 3 scallops drizzled in a delicious creamy sauce on top of a puff pastry with sauteed mushrooms on the side. There were garnishes of red fish eggs and all the flavors were delicious and not too heavy. But my fiance's entree was my favorite and was so savory I couldn't get enough! I had never had Osso bucco, let alone veal and the meat was so flavorful and fell right off the bone, melting in my mouth, and the risotto was perfect, just how I like it, creamy and cheesy.

If you take a look at the photos you will see the crowning glory of the meal, the desserts. The presentation was art as you can see on the opera cake there is a shaving of gold and a golden design on the dark chocolate piece of musical notes. The other dessert, my Alaska had a glistening sugar spiderweb topping the white/golden mound. Even though I am a chocoholic, I ordered the baked Alaska (another first) and I prefered it to the chocolate opera cake. The lilikoi and rasberry sauces were the perfect tart compliment to the sweetness of the icecream and the sweet mereingue (spelling again im sure).

Super Bowl Spread

I made a "Dip Fest" table for my super bowl get together. Very fun (yet took a long time) to prepare. I had dark chocolate dipped chips, pretzels, and dried fruits, fresh fruit with yogurt dip, veggies with lemon basil and chive dip, margarita jello shots, and that adorable layered dip set up to look like a football field. (i'll show a more in detailed photo if requested)

Old Post From Xanga- 11/17/07

My Kinda Cook
I'm just getting a feel for this new pair of shoes
The shoes that bring good smells into the house
And new tastes that put a smile on your face
Someday I have dreams of being the perfect housewife
Cooking up storms
But I am just now testing the water
Getting my feet wet with melted butter and cream anglaise
I'm the kinda cook that has to watch what she's doing
Or I'm liable to add too much butter, too little water
I'm the kinda cook that thinks most bake recipes taste better as dough
I'm the kinda cook that can never stick to the way a recipe is written
And has to add my own spice, veggies, or other thing that makes it oh-so-much-better
I'm the kind of cook that thinks any kind of soft dessert is better after being frozen
...more like ice cream!
I'm the kinda cook that gets worried if something goes wrong
Gets giddy if something works right
The kind that hoards recipes until that "someday" when I will attempt it
I am a cook that may be like you...may be like the top chef inside
Who just wants to put a smile on your face and something yummy in the tummy
Things That Have and Have Not Worked

-Experimenting with food is great but when baking do not change oil content...I added peanut butter to a normal brownie recipe and ruined it...they were hard and tasted awful
-Do not use unsweetened baking chocolate for chocolate chip cookies....the dough is yummy but not when baked
- when making cookies, watch ingredients CAREFULLY for rum raisin oatmeal cookies I put twice as much butter and though the dough was yummy...they turned out as flat as pancakes and tasted too much like butter
- with crock pots...make sure they work and don't burn the curry
-Cabernet Marinara sauce with frsh cooked veggies (and or meat) added is delicious over pasta
- Pumpkin stew with rice was awesome (a recipe from Emril live Halloween cookoff)
- mixed berry cobbler/coffee cake was very yummy
- lemon poppyseed cake layered with lilikoi butter was good...a little too lemony though
-even though i added too much butter, dark rum soaked raisins add a yummy twist to oatmeal raisin cookies
- Mom's curry recipe with sherry is good and can be salvaged even if burned and lumpy
- various stir frys of vegetables work well....
- home made steak marinades (ketchup, bbq sauce, steak sauce, wostershire, and spices) and bbq sauce on broiled steak is great
- stuffing is yummy when chopped apples, raisins, and celery is added in

Monday, March 5, 2007

Anna Miller's -Old Xanga Post 10/16/06

Anna Miller's 24 Hour Restaurant

Okay, so yesterday was traumatic....and I hope the eggs in my fridge aren't spoiled. We had an earthquake and power was out until 1am this morning so we went out to eat. Because I had heard so much about Anna Millers strawberry pie, I wanted to go there...and that area had power while we didn't.

Sorry for no pictures, but in the midst of tragedy, I didn't think to bring my camera.

The best part of this restaurant was the atmosphere. The inside was decorated with a 'country style' painted designs above the windows that reminded me or swedish designs. The waitress' outfits were cute but a little short (they all seemed to be tugging the fabric down so it would cover more) and reminded me of a mix between a bar maid and a german hillside country girl.

I ordered a side of soup which was corn chowder and a chicken salad stuffed tomato on salad with cornbread. My fiance had the steak and eggs..scrambled with hashbrowns.

The soup and cornbread came out first and they were steaming hot...I loved it, since it was raining outside I was a little cold. The soup was good, but a little watery for my tastes...when I have chowder I like it thick. The cornbread was pretty good and the soup came with a roll which was also hot and very yummy dipped in the soup.

The chicken salad was piled high in a tomato sliced longways from the top but was attached at the bottom so it opened like a flower. I liked this idea a lot. The chicken salad was overall good with pieces of celery mixed in, but I think they could have used a little less mayo. Underneath the tomato was a heaping bowl of generic iceberg lettuce salad with shredded carrots garnished with one hard boiled egg cut in half and a small sliver of cucumber. The salad was to say the least...dissapointing. The pieces of lettuce were browning and had brown 'old spots' on most pieces, I honestly could have gotten a better salad for a dollar at Mcdonalds. But by this time I was full and didn't really care, so I didn't eat it.
My fiances food was what he paid for. The whole plate came out to 11 dollars so the steak was pretty chewy and had a large slice of fat attached to it. It was also pretty dry so he drowned it with A-1 sauce. He said the flavor reminded him of the steaks he would get out in 'the field' in the military...which honestly to me doesn't sound very appetizing. The eggs were average and I think the best part of his meal was the hash browns which were 'just the way he liked it'.

Much to our dissappointment, the strawberry pie wasn't in season, so we got a piece of cherry pie to go. The bill was pretty pricey when it all came down to it, a little over 30 dollars. We had noticed that the pie was somewhere around $3.25 for one slice and as we were leaving, much to our dismay we discovered we could have gotten a whole pie (5 more pieces) for just 5 more dollars!

When we were home and not as stuffed, we had the pie which was very good but was a pretty small piece for what we paid for. Will we go back? Maybe once the strawberry pie comes back in season.

Mexican Cinna Crisps

Mexican Cinna-Crisps

I tried this recipe I saw as I was standing in line to check out at a grocery store...it turned out great though next time I might use a different oil...or maybe light butter to make it healthier.
Cinnamonsugar (or you could make your own...I used premade and added splenda and cinnamon)
Nutmeg to flavor
tortillas (I used two whole wheat tortillas)
Olive oil
1. This is just an appetizer so you can tailor the recipe to however you want. Turn stove on med/med-high and put some oil in a medium frying pan/skillet
2. tear up tortillas into chip size and one pan is at optimum heat (the 'chips' sizzle and spat when they go in the oil) put about 7 'chips in the oil of the pan.
3. Let each 'chip' cook for about 2 minutes or until crispy and toasty colored then flip to the other side.
4. Once done with that batch you may need to put more oil in for the rest of the 'chips' and repeat until you have crispy torilla chips.
5. in a ziploc baggie add all the powdered ingredients and shake to mix, then put the cooled tortilla chips in the bag and shake to coat them with the cinnamon mixture.
6. when all is coated and sparkling with flavor...enjoy! You have your own version of Taco Bell cinnamon twists!
*note: This is good for tortillas that are left over or expired after the shelf date, or the ones which edges have gotten hard in the fridge. You can also coat them with a cocoa mixture, cheese mixture, spice mixture, or just use them as you would any tortilla chips for dipping or on top of other recipes!*

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Old Xanga Blog- 09/27/06

Formaggio Wine Bar

This is one of my new favorite places to eat. It is located in Market City Shopping Center by Ben Franklin and is a small hole in the wall treasure.

This Restaurant is quaintly decorated with bar tables (those high round tables), wine decor and rustic orange stucco walls reminiscent of Italy. The low lighting and live music (last night was a local guitarist/singer playing Hawaiian and 80's 90's soft music) makes this a perfect place to come, eat, chat, and unwind from the day. The noise level can get a little loud since the place is small and (comfortably) busy, but its not unbearable.

Because this is a wine bar, they specialize in their array of wines and liquors. The first glass I ordered was a Pinot Gris that wasn't dry , yet still crisp and had tastes of pear and apple. The second glass I ordered with dessert was a German Reisling and it was good, and sweet.

The food here is incredible for the price. It took a while for it to come out of the small kitchen, but the quality was unexpected and for no more than 12 dollars for an entree was great. They are smaller portioned, which is good, you can have an entree and still have room for a dessert. We started out with crab cakes, there were only two but the sauce and cakes were good and they were complemented by a small arugula and baby greens salad with a tomato relish dressing. All three entrees were wonderful! I ordered from their panini menu a grilled vegtable panini with eggplant, red and yellow peppers, zucchini, onions, some sort of special mayonnaise like sauce, and Havarti cheese. It was cut into 4 strips (I couldn't finish it all) and came next to a small baby greens salad in a vinegarette. My fiance had what is now my favorite (well they are all my faves) a Kobe Beef panini....all I can say is excellent. My father had a very tasty, creamy lobster bisque..not too soupy, yet not too rich. To finish off...we shared an order of tiramisu...light and refreshing, and an order of bananas foster (without the presentation) in which the icecream was a little hard but the taste of the sauce and warm bananas made up for it!

I highly recommend this place for dinner, dessert, or even just wine, but I know I will definitely be back many times!


I did go back, a few times since then, most recently for Valentines when I was too sick for the $100 a plate price fixe dinner with wine pairings at 21 Degrees North (Turtle Bay Resort, and I am still kicking myself for that). Here are my thoughts on the food that night...

We started the dinner out with two great glasses of wine, a pinot grigio and I had a sparkling wine. For dinner we shared the lobster bisque, and then Randy had the Kobe beef panini and I had the grilled vegetable napoleon. I have experienced the unwavering great quality of the kobe beef, but while I enjoyed the veggies and bruschetta bread, there was far too much strong blue cheese that it overtook a lot of the other flavors. Enjoy the pictures!

Old Xanga Post - 9/26/06

For some time now, I have been getting into the tastes and textures of the world. I have always loved eating, and trying new dishes...and now with my lack of food (I've been one a prolonged diet) and my growing intrigue with cooking and the Food Channel, inspired by the blog 'Ono Kine Grindz, I decided to make a record of the culinary road I have travelled.

Because it is just starting, I will briefly summarize the places and home meals I find notewothy, but in the future I hope to be a source of Restaurant and Dish review and a database for good recipes.

If you have any questions on the below, please feel free to ask me to elaborate.

Recipes I have liked and tried recently:

BBQ baked chicken

Frozen pudding

funfetti cupcakes with jello flavored cool whip frosting

sloppy joe with ground turkey, carrots, celery and cheese

cabernet spaghetti sauce with fresh veggies

splenda cranberry orange muffins

apple banana bread with splenda

Places I have Eaten:

Diamond Head Cove Health Bar- I ordered the Acai Bowl which is a surprisingly filling health dish. With fresh fruit, almost a rasberry tasting tart sorbet of the brazilian acai berry, and chewy costo granola, it is worth the price for a feeling of body freshness and healthy lo cal fullness.

Hiroshi (Restaraunt Row)- This is a Tapas bar which I originally wanted to visit because of the cheap 'foam martinis' (which are just Martinis with a slight topping of foam...nothing special) But ended up loving another drink, and enjoying the dip yourself caesar salad, the house version of bread: rice cakes and wasabi dip was AWESOME!

Moose McGillicuddys- If not for anyuthing else...the drinks are fair and the food is fair...but the drink prices are to die for! Cheap as can be! Started tasting down the drink menue with an electric blue something and a melon electric something else.

The Hano Hano Room (my birthday 06)- The place was amazing...the price was well worth it....the view and music were romantic...don't remember what I ordered though.

Kincaids (anniversary 2006)- Service was horrible at first...didn't get bread or drinks for the longest time. But once things shaped up it was a nice experience. Highly reccomend the macadamia encrusted warm brie...I could eat that as a meal! Also the salad was alright and the wine sauce with the fish was great. As always the complimentary dessert is very welcomed, and it was their signature Creme Brulee on a 'happy anniversary' plate.


Olive Garden (salinas)- If I thought Kincaids service was bad, this was on a WHOLE nother level. We waited 2 hours for our food! But the salad was alright (that took forever to be refilled too) but the minestrone was pretty poor.

Britannia Arms- Because we don't really have English/British fare really in Hawaii, I was dying to go to a British pub. Almost went to another one, but glad I didn't. We ordered a beer (note to self-when you know you don't like something, don't order it hoping it will grow on you cause its a waste of money), but the entree was wonderful! I ordered the Beef braised in Guiness which was a PERFECT tasting beef stew with vegtables cooked into it and a slice of bread, in an almost perfect size. It tasted so good I almost wishes I hadn't filled up on the average tasting salad.

In and Out Burger- This place needs no review...I'm sure that you all know that, but just in case...the fries are good but the burgers are some of the best I've ever tasted...note to self...try the burgers 'animal style'

The Grill at the Pebble Beach Resort- Felt awfully ratty here since this was a high class country club resort. They got the order of onion rings wrong, which turned out okay, the chicken sandwich was fair and I liked the rasberry lemonade. A good place to stop after biking 7 miles.

Krispy Kreme- YUMMY!

Bixby Bisrto (at the Barnyard shopping center, Carmel)- This was a perfect choice to eat at before touring up into Carmel Valley's wineries. I started with a bay strimp cocktail which was mini shrimp spooned into a martini glass with cocktail sauce. Then for an entree I had the Bistro House salad which was a nice salad with spiced walnuts and champagne vinegarette. I also had a half sandwich which was okay but the REAL treat was my fiances Kobe beef sliders. These mini burgers were so yummy I wanted to trade. The things that made them good were the onion jam, white cheddar and roma tomatoes. They were served with yummy spiced fries. We visited again for dessert after going up the valley, and ordered the peach cobbler with vanilla icecream...mmm a PERFECT end to the afternoon.

The Sea Lion Cafe at Pier 39 (san fran)- This fun atmosphered restaurant over looked the bay, alcatraz and the bridge, and more importantly a large array of entertaining wild sea lions, sunning and splashing around wooden docks. Along with the great show was a wonderful breadbowl with a seafood bisque. A yummy (captain's) cocktail was huge enough to split between two.

Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop (san francisco)- This is the best place ever to have a famous sundae. Unless your in a rush. Take time to eat slowly...enjoy the sickly sweetness and tour the 'factory'. The first time I came I had their signature brownie sundae, but the second time was eating a cable car sundae on the run. It was too sweet, even for my taste with rocky road ice cream, fudge, and marshmallow sauce. And as we walked briskly, it melted briskly. :(

Hello World!

Yes I am breaking out of the Xanga shell I have been in since god-knows-when...into a bigger, and better place! I am a groupie, not just a food and wine groupie, but a people groupie and I want to share my thoughts and eats with more people and I want to discover other's food blog as well, so that is why I have migrated. I was currently known by few on xanga as, quizdasaige, but I am now here...so remember where I am!

I have become a self proclaimed foodie and wine-afficionado since the middle of this past summer. I had always loved food before, and eating out, and alcohol, but until then I hadn't made it my goal to seek out new, interesting, and excellent cuisine. Also this fall I became chef extrodinaire (not really, but I attempted) as I plowed through hundreds of dinner, snack, and dessert recipes, teachin myself how to cook, and being plesantly suprised at the tastes and responses from others I got. For Thanksgiving I gave out rocky road squares, for christmas I tried 12 different cookie recipes and gave them as gifts, and just recently I made 3 different kinds of chocolate truffles as Valentines for my friends. I have now become addicted to The Food Channel and various other foodie blogs I read, I pour over pages of local newspapers for recipes and restaurant reviews, and its seems I cannot get enough of my newly-found passion. A few things do stand in my way and make it hard for me to live the lush life I could, my never ending quest for a thin and shapely body (I am not naturally thin like those lucky asians), and my college student budget.

So sit back, relax, and let you tummy rumble with hunger as you partake of this blog. I hope to entertain and inform you of new recipes, eateries, and anything thing else that strikes my food-bone silly. I will post up in the next few days my past posts from Xanga (I don't want those to go to waste), but soon I will be posting current places and menus I have tried. So look out, here I come.