Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend Dinner - Linguine in Turkey Meat Sauce

So we went out to brunch @ Outerlands & brought home a loaf of their delicious bread.  What can one do with a whole loaf of bread?  We thought: garlic bread!  But we can't really eat just garlic bread for dinner, can we?  So to have something accompany the bread, I whipped together my own spin on the classic spaghetti & meat sauce.

What I dug out from my fridge...
     1/2 box of linguine
     1 pound ground turkey
     2 medium tomato
     2 cups white button mushrooms
     1/2 jar of tomato basil pasta sauce
     Several fresh basil leaves
     Garlic, salt, pepper, &  chipotle powder to taste

How I made something edible from the ingredients above...
     Fill a large pot half way up with water & start getting it to a boil.
     In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey with some salt & pepper to give it some flavor.
     Put some oil into a large pan & heat it up.  Brown the ground turkey.  I found it easier if you let the meat sit for a little bit & then break it up into little clumps.
     Drain the water/juice from the ground turkey and let it sit.
     While the turkey was cooking, cut the tomatoes into segments and remove the seeds.  Then cut them into large dices.  Wash the mushrooms, dry them, & cut them into slices.
     Once the pot of water starts to boil, salt it generously and then put in the linguine.  Cook the noodles to 1 minute less than the instruction on the box (mine took 9 minutes).
     In the same pan you browned the turkey, heat up a little bit of oil & some minced garlic.  Once the garlic turns a little bit brown, toss in the mushroom & let them wilt down a little bit.
     Add in the turkey & the tomato sauce & let the whole thing simmer for 5 minutes.
     Season with salt, pepper, & chipotle powder (optional) & toss in the tomato dices.
     Keep the sauce on the lowest heat possible until the linguine is ready.
     Roll up the basil leaves tightly & cut into thin strips...or chiffonade if you want to get all technical.
     Just before you add the pasta into the sauce, toss in the basil.  Quickly incorporate everything & serve.

From beginning to end it took about 45 minutes & there was enough for 4.  The chipotle powder gave a good dose of spiciness & the sauce was perfect for the garlic bread to soak up.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quick & Easy - No Recipe Guacamole

We had a couple of avocados & a bunch of tomatoes in the fridge that's been sitting around for 1+ week.  Since there are no salads in my near future, I needed to find some way to turn these babies into food.  So I picked up an onion & a couple of limes from the store & tossed them together into a guacamole.

What you'll need...
     2 medium sized avocados
     1 medium tomato
     1/4 large red onion
     1/2 lime
     1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     1/4 teaspoon black pepper

How to do...
     Cut the tomato into 8 segments & remove the seeds.  This will prevent excess liquid in the guacamole.  Cut the segments into stips and then into small dices.
     Keeping the root on the onion, make slices being careful not to cut all the way through.  Then cut into small dices about the same size as the tomato.
     In a bowl or Tupperware container, squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime & add in the minced garlic, salt, and black pepper.  You can substitute the black pepper with jalapeno & add cilantro if you wish.
     Cut the stem end of the avaocado and run your knife around the fruit to cut in half.  You can either use a spoon to scoop out the flesh but I found that by cutting off the stem end, it's easy to just remove the peel all in 1 piece.
     Cut the avocado halves into big chucks & put them into the bowl/container.  Using a spoon, mix together everything & slightly mash down the avocado.  Add in the tomato & the red onion & continue to mix everything together.  I like my avocado still slightly chunky but you can go as creamy as you want.
     Taste & readjust the seasoning after everything has been incorporated.

That's all there is to it!  If you are using tortilla chips, make sure to taste the guac with a chip because when I tasted mine with the "hint of lime" chip, I realized I should have used less lime juice & less salt (because the chip has salt & lime of its own).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Outerlands

Location:     4001 Judah Street, San Francisco, California 94122
Date:            Sunday, May 27th.
Food:           Eggs in Jail
Price:           $9.00
Comments:  The bread was absolutely amazing - crunchy crust but light and fluffy on the
                    inside with just right amount of chew.  The eggs were slightly overcooked
                    to where the white started to get rubbery & the yolks were solid.  The Fried
                    egg open-face sandwich is also definitely worth a try.

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - San Tung

Location:     1031 Irving Street, San Francisco, California, 94122
Date:            Saturday, May 26th.
Food:           Dry fried chicken wings
Price:           $9.50 for an order of 12
Comments:  Actually got this @ Next Door Sweets next to San Tung because the
                    line at the restaurant was way too long.  The wings were not dry as
                    expected but they were not drenched either.  The flavor was slightly
                    too sweet & not spicy enough but the wings were moist & would be
                    a great snack to have with an ice cold beer.

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Anthony's Cookies

Location: 1417 Valencia Street, San Francisco, California 94110
Date: Wednesday, May 23rd.
Food: Cookies & cream cookie
Price: $1.25 each
Comments: The Cookies & cream is not overly sweet & it is definitely a unique flavor that is not often found in other cookie bakeries.  Anthony's recently readjusted his prices & lowered the cookies from $1.50 to $1.25 each; however, he also removed the bulk discount for people who purchase his cookies in dozen(s).  In addition to the cookies & cream, I would also recommend the Cinnamon spice as well as the Toffee chip.

*Please note that due to the increased price of organic peanut butter, Anthony's will not be serving peanut butter cookies until further notice.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - House of Prime Rib

Every year, San Francisco's very own 7x7 magazine publishes its list of Big Eats,100 things to try in San Francisco before you die.  I have wanted to tackle this list for a couple of years now & this year I'm finally going to try to consume as many as I can get my hands on.

Location: 1906 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, California 94109
Date: Saturday, May 19th.
Food: Prime rib
Price: $35-$45 (depending on the cut of meat)
Comments: Prime rib comes as a dinner with salad, potato, cream spinach/corn, & Yorkshire pudding. The beef was absolutely delicious but everything else just was too salty for me.  If you are not one for salt, ask for less jus & maybe sauteed spinach instead.  For anyone who finishes their steak, the restaurant gives free seconds (maybe even thrids & fourths) but it was no steak; this was about 2 ounces of thinly sliced roast beef that sat in way too much jus.  Service was great & it's never a bad thing to add a little cheesy theater to dinner.  We wanted to love it but...

Gone Greek...Still

A few weeks back I wrote about my recent fascination with Greek yogurt.  Although I tried a decent number of brands & determined a favorite, my fascination is still going strong as I found myself standing in front of the yogurt fridge @ the grocery store the other day searching for more blueberry Greek yogurt.

Specimen #7: Open Nature 100% Natural
     6 ounces
     140 calories.  0g fat.  23g carbohydrates.  22g sugar.  14g protein.
     This is Safeway's organic brand & the yogurt is all natural & does not use milk containing rBST (an artificial growth hormone).  The yogurt was semi-mixed together with the blueberries & it was thick but creamy.  In terms of flavor, it was not tart & it was not blueberry'y @ all; it actually tasted kind of artificial. This was by far the sweetest of all the yogurts I've tried.  It shows again that even if something is "natural" or "organic", it can still not be very good for you.

In short conclusion, Fage reigns!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gone Greek

In recent years, it seems that countless numbers of diets, cleanses, health food trends, etc. have been popularized, phased out, & popularized again.  But one health food trend that emerged 2-3 years ago - the Greek yogurt - seems to be sticking around; at least for the next little while anyway.  First popularized as a snack, the Greek yogurt's utility has expanded & it is now a widely promoted substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream, & creme fraiche.

Just exactly what is Greek yogurt?  From my research (a.k.a. Wikipedia), Greek yogurt is a type of yogurt called strained yogurt.  Strained yogurt is exactly what its name says; it is yogurt that has been strained through a cloth or filter in order to remove the whey & excess water.  By doing so, the end product is thicker & has a more substantial texture.  So Greek yogurt = dried regular yogurt, what's so special about that?  According to LiveStrong, Greek yogurt is superior to regular yogurt in 6 ways:
  1. Greek yogurt can have 2x as much protein as regular yogurt.
  2. Greek yogurt can have up to 50% less sodium than regular yogurt.
  3. Greek yogurt has about 44% less carbohydrates than regular yogurt.
  4. Greek yogurt contains less lactose which makes it easier to digest.
  5. Greek yogurt has more utility in cooking than regular yogurt.
  6. The rich texture of Greek yogurt leaves eaters feeling more satisfied.
Recently, I have hopped onto the Greek yogurt train because I really do enjoy its tangy flavor & rich full'bodied texture.  But I have realized that there are quite a number of brands of Greek yogurt out there.  In order to make sure that I pick the best one for the long run, I conducted a taste test using all blueberry flavors & here are my evaluations:

Specimen #1: Yoplait Greek
     4 ounces
     110 calories.  0g fat.  18g carbohydrates.  13g sugar.  8g protein.
     Purchased as a 4 pack, each container has plain Greek yogurt with a blueberry "sauce" on the bottom.  While the "sauce" is made of real blueberries, it was not blueberry'y @ all.  The yogurt had a fairly thick consistency & it was tart; however,the tangy'ness was short lived.

Specimen #2: Fage Total 0%
     5.3 ounces
     120 calories.  0g fat.  18g carbohydrates.  16g sugar.  13g protein.
     This was a blueberry & acai flavor & it was a container of plain yogurt with a separate container of "sauce."  I thought the design of the container was very clever since I could add as much or as little of the "sauce" as I wanted.  The yogurt was very thick & it was tart even after I added in the fruit.

Specimen #3: Trader Joe's Nonfat Greek Yogurt
     5.3 ounces
     120 calories.  0g fat.  16g carbohydrates.  14g sugar.  13g protein.
     This yogurt came already mixed together & it smelled really sweet.  The texture was thick but it was a bit gritty & it was not as tart as Fage.

Specimen #4: Chobani 0%
     6 ounces
     140 calories.  0g fat.  20g carbohydrates.  20g sugar.  14g protein.
     The yogurt was mostly mixed together but there was extra blueberry @ the bottom.  It was too sweet & not very tangy.  It was also very smooth like regular yogurt.

Specimen #5: Oikos Organic
     5.3 ounces
     120 calories.  0g fat.  16g carbohydrates.  15g sugar.  13g protein.
     This was another one that had the fruit "sauce" at the bottom.   While it was not very sweet, it didn't taste like blueberries.  The yogurt was think & it was very much like regular yogurt.

Specimen #6: Lucerne Greek Nonfat Yogurt
     6.0 ounces
     140 calories.  0g fat.  24g carbohydrates.  22g sugar.  11g protein.
     The yogurt itself was sweet, runny, & did not taste anything like blueberry.  In terms of nutrition, it has disproportionately more calories, more carbohydrates, more sugar, & less protein; this is everything you don't want in a Greek yogurt.

As you can probably see, the nutritional content across different brands is pretty similar; except for the sugar so that's definitely something to look out for.  In terms of flavor and texture, the Fage was definitely my favorite, albeit it was the most expensive one.  I will be continuing my search in order to increase my sample size, but in the mean time I am going to grab a Fage out of my fridge & have a little mid-afternoon snack.