Jul 042014
 

Happy birthday, America!

I love Independence Day, not only because it gives me a (much-needed) short break in the middle of summer, but also because of BBQ parties, grilled steaks and burgers, and fireworks! I haven’t quite yet decided what I’ll be bringing to my friend’s party tomorrow, so today I’m sharing something that I made a couple of weeks ago!

I’m not a fan of bananas – something about the taste and texture is really gross to me – but I’m always up for banana bread and banana pudding. Weird, right? Banana bread is one of my favorite comfort foods, and recently I made a version with Nutella swirled right in!

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Honestly, if there’s anything that can make bananas better for me, it’s Nutella.

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The recipe is quite simple and turned out really nicely. The key is not to overmix the dough after adding the dry ingredients to the wet, or the bread may turn out too chewy – so, mix until the ingredients are just combined, and you don’t see the dry flour anymore.

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Jul 022014
 

A while back, S and I decided to have a date night somewhere close by (as in, UTC area). We wanted to try something new, and he suggested Villa Capri Italian Kitchen, in the Towne Centre Drive plaza. I was craving Italian food, so we decided to check it out.

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This was a spur-of-the-moment thing, so we didn’t have reservations or anything. I was initially worried that we’d have to wait, but luckily there were a few tables open. 

Complimentary bread

Complimentary bread

We started out with a basket of warm bread, which we enjoyed!

The menu was actually quite extensive, consisting of appetizers, salads, pizzas, pastas, and entrées. S and I decided to try one pasta and one entrée.

By the way, I have to apologize for the quality of the photos here. I’m trying out a new lens, but it doesn’t seem to do so well in lower-light conditions.

Penne Villa Capri: penne pasta with Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onion in a pink tomato sauce [$14]

Penne Villa Capri: penne pasta with Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onion in a pink tomato sauce [$14]

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Jun 272014
 

June is National Seafood Month, and even though the month is quickly winding down (I can’t believe it’s almost time to prepare for 4th of July festivities!), seafood sustainability should always be on consumers’ minds. Recently, I was contacted by Rubio’s PR for a giveaway opportunity in honor of National Seafood Month – details for the giveaway will be at the end of this post.

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill is native to San Diego and features the fish taco – an iconic San Diego food item that embraces Mexican heritage with Southern California influence. Rubio’s is one of the fast-casual industry’s leaders in sustainable seafood efforts – just look for the little blue fish icon next to their menu to find the certified sustainable seafood items. S and I have been frequenting Rubio’s lately, adding it to our rotation of go-to places when we’re looking to go out for a quick and simple meal. Here, I’ll share a couple of our favorite menu items, which happen to be in the sustainable category!

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We visited the Rubio’s in the UTC Westfield Mall, close to our home. If you walk in to the food court through the entrance next to Tender Greens and Noodles & Company, Rubio’s is right in front of you.

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We picked a few of their salsas. I really like their Diablo hot sauce and the picante salsas:

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Clockwise from top left: Diablo hot sauce, picante salsa, chipotle salsa, salsa verde

We ordered some of our favorites (which also happen to be eco-friendly):

Grilled Tilapia Burrito [$7.69]

Regal Springs Grilled Tilapia Burrito [$7.69]

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Jun 252014
 

I’ve mentioned before that S and I are going through a Greek yogurt obsession phase (is it still a phase when we’ve been doing this for the past 6 months? Oh well, phase it is). In my previous Snacks Series post on yogurts, I focused on one of our favorite brands, Chobani. However, we’ve also been exploring some other brands, and here is another round-up of some things that we’ve tried.

Dannon Oikos

Dannon Oikos Vanilla

Vanilla is one of our favorite flavors, but I’m actually not a huge fan of Chobani’s vanilla, so I’ve been buying tons of vanilla from other yogurt brands. The Dannon Oikos wasn’t one of our favorites – the yogurt was a little runny, and the flavor had an artificial taste to it.

Liberté Greek

Liberté Greek Lemon

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Jun 232014
 

I recently purchased a Travelzoo deal for Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro – I’ve heard so many things about this place, and being a chocolate-lover, I definitely wanted to try it out. The deal was actually really good – $39 for any two drinks and two tasting trios, with a box of truffles to take home. I asked my friend E to accompany me, since S isn’t a huge chocolate fan.

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I believe this is the new location, in South Park (teehee).

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The restaurant was quite small but really adorable. I wanted to take some more pictures of the place, but there were several families with kids and I didn’t want to put up photos with them…

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Just take my word for it – the place was cute, and you should check it out for yourself, haha.

Lavendar Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Cocktail [$10]

Lavender Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Cocktail [$10]

We started out with a champagne cocktail, which was the waitress’ suggestion (and the best value for our voucher). E and I both thought that the vanilla flavor was quite strong, but we couldn’t detect much lavender.

Sea Salt Caramel Drinking Chocolate (55% dark) [$5]

Sea Salt Caramel Drinking Chocolate (55% dark) [$5]

We also couldn’t pass up ordering one of their famous drinking chocolates. We picked the sea salt caramel infusion, which was quite delicious. I loved how the caramel offset the bitterness of the dark chocolate. It was also served with homemade marshmallows! Yum.

For the tasting trios, we could each order an entrée and choose two sides, soup/salad, and/or dessert. E and I decided to share three sides and one dessert.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates: roasted thick-cut bacon-wrapped medjool date, brute cocoa brown sugar glaze, chive [$7]

Bacon-Wrapped Dates: roasted thick-cut bacon-wrapped medjool date, brute cocoa brown sugar glaze, chive [$7]

The bacon-wrapped dates sounded really intriguing to us. I loved the pairing of the salty, smoky bacon with the sweetness of the dates, although I thought that the cocoa brown sugar glaze made it a tad too sweet.

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For one of our entrées, we picked the beer-battered fish:

Beer-Battered Fish: pale ale beer battered white fish, kale chips, lemon, vanilla bean caper tartar sauce [$9]

Beer-Battered Fish: pale ale beer battered white fish, kale chips, lemon, vanilla bean caper tartar sauce [$9]

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Jun 202014
 

In my post on Craft Pizza Company, I mentioned that they were selling cookies from The Cravory there. I’ve had cookies from The Cravory before at their farmer’s market stand, and they were buttery and rich, with lots of interesting flavor combinations. I was super happy to see that Craft Pizza was offering these cookies and recently purchased a few to try out.

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(Photo from my previous visit to Craft Pizza.)

Cookies & Cream; Sea Salt Caramel; Lemon [$2.75 each]

Cookies & Cream Milkshake; Salted Caramel Cream; Lemon Bar [$2.75 each]

I got the C&C Milkshake because I knew that S would want to try it. It’s made with malted milk, hand-chopped malt balls, crushed Oreos, and Guittard white chocolate – I was initially worried that it’d be overly sweet, but both of us ended up really enjoying it!

Cookies & Cream Milkshake

Cookies & Cream Milkshake

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Jun 182014
 

Here I am with another simple weeknight dinner post… sukiyaki! Sukiyaki is sort of like hot pot in that sliced meat and veggies are cooked in a big pot in the middle of the table, but the pot is much shallower, and the broth is a sweet and soy sauce-based. To me, the quality of the ingredients matter much more for sukiyaki than hot pot, since the cooking broth is simpler.

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Since meat quality is so important, I bought “sukiyaki-grade” pork and beef slices from Nijiya. I also added tofu, oyster mushrooms, green onions, grated carrots, and Taiwan lettuce (aka “A-choy”, very un-authentic I know, but it tasted nice in the broth). 

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I put together a super quick soup base, added the ingredients, and voila! Dinner was served. If you’re really in a pinch, I’ve also used store-bought sukiyaki soup base, which makes it even easier. I didn’t know until reading the Wikipedia article just now, that sukiyaki is typically a wintertime dish in Japan. Well, I still eat it year-round. It’s a simple and delicious dinner option for us. Hope you’ll enjoy it too!

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Jun 162014
 

Common Theory Public House is a newly-opened gastropub on Convoy St - I’ve been following news of its opening on Eater San Diego, and this past weekend was their grand opening. There would be a lot of specials, so I went to check it out with S and a couple of friends.

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The restaurant is located in the same plaza as Yes! Pingo and the also newly-opened Blush Desserts (which I’ve yet to check out). I can’t remember for the life of me what used to be here… maybe a Korean restaurant?

Anyway, the restaurant is pretty big – there is a bar with 30 taps, and two large open seating areas with private booths and communal tables.

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They had some interesting decor… haha. The bird cages were adorable!

Here’s the cask that was tapped for the grand opening, Ballast Point’s Reef Rye Brown Ale with rum oak chips:

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There was a “Keep the Pint” special for the cask, so S and our friends each got one. I had a Lambic Framboise instead (a raspberry low-percentage beer, yes I am a lightweight).

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Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwich: shredded veggie slaw, cotija cheese, cilantro aioli, brioche bun; side of fries [$9]

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Jun 132014
 

So, did you know that June 14th is National Strawberry Shortcake Day?

Strawberry shortcakes are an iconic summertime treat, when strawberries are at their peak – juicy and sweet. I love traditional strawberry shortcake, a simple but delicious dessert. However, when I was presented with an opportunity by Driscoll’s to create a recipe in honor of National Strawberry Shortcake Day, I wanted to try something a little different… and that’s when I thought of strawberry shortcake ice cream!

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 I had just purchased a set of popsicle molds, so I decided to make ice cream pops!

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The colors on the popsicle molds don’t really match the pretty pink of the strawberry… oh well. Maybe I should have gotten a more neutral-colored set. But the bright colors just reminded me so much of summer, haha.

This recipe is as simple or involved as you’d like – you can use homemade or store-bought vanilla ice cream and biscuits or shortcakes. (For the ice cream, I was planning to make my own but ran out of time, so I used Straus Family Creamery’s Premium Vanilla Bean, which is my favorite vanilla ice cream. I made honey butter biscuits for the pops, but you can use store-bought ones or your favorite biscuit or shortcake recipe. I’ll be sharing the biscuit recipe soon!)

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I really loved the crunch that the biscuits provided, and the strawberries were so yummy. I’ll definitely be making these ice cream pops again soon!

Disclaimer: I was provided coupons for Driscoll’s strawberries, and a Whole Foods gift card to purchase ingredients on behalf of The Baddish Group. I was not otherwise compensated for this review, and the recipe is my own.

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Jun 112014
 

I’ve been really fortunate lately to receive several food gifts from friends who have traveled abroad, and I wanted to remember them all, and what better way to document than write a post about it? Haha. 

First, a box of chocolates from Japan that a friend shared with me:

Royce Chocolate

Royce Chocolate

 

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These champagne truffles were rich yet not overly heavy, and were so creamy and luscious. There is a subtle champagne flavor that paired really well with the bittersweet chocolate. My friend said that these are some of the best chocolates he’s ever had, and I must say that it’s at the top of my list, too.

 

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Royce’ Chocolates originated in Sapporo, Japan, and are now quite famous throughout Asia. In fact, when I just checked their website, I noticed that they now have three boutiques in New York City! Hopefully they will be opening up shop on the West Coast as well. 

Thank you V for these chocolates!

I’ve posted about Mister Donut before, my favorite donut store EVER. I guess my obsession is so well-known by my friends now that they actually bring it back for me from Asia!

Strawberry Pon de Ring

Strawberry Pon de Ring

Original Pon de Ring

Original Pon de Ring

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