Tuesday, June 25, 2013

R&D Kitchen

R&D is a group of Hillstone restaurants that test menu items for consideration at Houston's, Bandera, South Beverly Grill, and the like! I've always wanted to eat at their location on Montana Ave and I finally did.
First of all, I was amazed that it was so crowded on a Tuesday night! The place was packed to the gills, both the tables and the bar area. There was a 25 minute wait for a table so we opted to eat at the bar.
Started with a glass of champagne.
And admired the surfing meerkat at the end of the bar (I think it's a meerkat at least).
Justin and I shared the chicken meatballs with spaghetti and the veggie burger. The chicken meatballs were excellent- seasoned really well with lots of fresh herbs and a light tomato sauce with just enough garlic to make my tastebuds very happy. There was just a touch of parmesan and fresh broccoli on the side (I love that they add fresh veggie with the meatballs and spaghetti)!
The veggie burger patty was made of fresh veggies (seems like a no-brainer, but I feel like lots of restaurant veggie burgers just have beans/grains or tofu these days). In addition to the veggies, it had almonds which gave the patty a unique crunch. And I sense it had some beans and maybe egg for a binding ingredients. All in all,very tasty. It was topped with fresh avocado, vinegar-y greens (yum!) and tomato.
Here it is up close... all Hillstone restaurants have the best brioche burger buns. Best bread ever.
R&D is a winner in my book. It even would have been worth the 25 minute wait had we not been able to slip into seats at the bar :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


ROFL recently opened on Melrose and we've been curious to try it.
They've got a very welcoming space with 'happiness, joy, love, laughter' written all over it. Literally :)
It's even on the water vessels they bring to your table!
We started with the grilled flatbread and dip trio. The flatbread  was nice and crispy and seasoned with herbs and spices. The dips included hummus, yogurt feta dip, and artichoke tapenade. I would buy each of these dips by the jarful in a heartbeat. I loved that the yogurt dip was seasoned with oregano- a nice change from typical yogurt cucumber sauce. The artichoke tapenade won me over immediately simply because it had capers. And the hummus had a perfect refreshing tangy taste.
Next came our entrees. I love that you can get a good glass of wine for only $2.50 with an entree order! I got the beef filet, which was topped with grilled onions and paired with grilled beets, hazelnuts and goat cheese, and brussel sprouts. Everything was well seasoned and grilled to perfection without being doused in butter. I feel like it's rare to get beets grilled and I now which that every restaurant grilled them this way!
Justin's plate was similar, but he opted for kale and mushrooms instead of beets. I saw some garlic chunks in his mix which he was very happy about. Good thing I love garlic as much as he does.
We saved just enough room for dessert. I need to find out where I can buy large quantities of the spicy chocolate ice cream that they serve. It had such an amazing kick to it. We also got a scoop of fleur de sel cappuccino ice cream to mellow out the spicy (though my tastebuds would have been cool with the chocolate spice on its own, too)!
And did I mention the spicy ice cream paired perfectly with Intelligentsia coffee? Well it did.
I see more ROFL'ing in my future. Good stuff.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Secret ingredient lemon bars

I found this lemon bar recipe awhile back and have been meaning to try it (click here for link to ingredients!)
The reason it took me so long to bake it was because it required a special ingredient: silken tofu.
It isn't something I normally have lying around my kitchen, but I found it at Trader Joe's and it was worth it!
I started with the crust- whole wheat flour, powdered sugar and coconut oil with a pinch of salt.
Mixed it well and spooned it into my 8x8 baking sheet.
Then popped it in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes, and got to work on the filling.
Lemon juice and powdered sugar went in the blender.
With some cornstarch, and the special ingredient.
It all got blended well.
And spooned onto the baked crust before spending some time in the oven and turning into this:
As Katie's recipe recommended, I added a pinch of turmeric for color. What surprised me is the yellow color seemed very light before the mix went into the oven. And when it came out, the yellow coloring was brilliant!
Since Justin refuses to eat anything with tofu in it, I get this sweet tastiness all to myself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Healthy cocoa PB&J cookies

I made these cookies for breakfast. Don't judge.
They're full of peanut butter for a healthy dose of protein, jam for a healthy dose of fruit, cocoa for antioxidants, whole wheat, and a little coconut oil for healthy fats. Well rounded breakfast, right? And believe it or not, I made them low-cal by using better n' peanut butter.
-1 cup wheat flour (I like using 100% white wheat flour from Trader Joe's because it's not all grainy like normal whole wheat flour)
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/3 cup cocoa powder
-3/4 cup better n' peanut butter (at room temp)
-1/2 cup coconut oil (at room temp)
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup granulated sugar (I used baking Splenda)
-1/4 cup blackberry jam
To start, I pre-heated the oven to 375 and mixed the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together in a a bowl.
In a separate bowl, I blended the sugar, coconut oil and peanut butter together.
Once blended, I added the egg and vanilla extract to the oil/PB/sugar mixture and continued to beat it.
Next I added in the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt mixture a little bit at a time, until my batter looked like the below.
Then I sprayed baking sheets with coconut oil spray, rolled my batter into approx 15 balls, placed them a couple inches apart on the baking sheets, and made indentations in the middle of each one for my jam filling!
Which I spooned in...
Before baking at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.
And making the kitchen smell dreamy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

One pot healthiness

My dad has an endless appetite, so when he's in town I like to make giant one pot meals that he can dig into throughout the day. Last weekend, I was a little limited in terms of ingredients, but I managed to create a good mix of veggies, sweet potatoes and brown rice. It was a hearty crowd-pleaser!
-1 cup brown rice
-2 cups plus 1/4 cup veggie broth
-1/2 onion chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 red pepper, chopped
-1 large sweet potato, cubed into small pieces
-3 cups (dry) kale
-1/2 tsp oregano
-1/2 tsp dried basil
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)

The key to this dish is cooking the rice part-way through before mixing it with everything else for bake time in the dutch oven within a 350 degree oven.

To start, I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees and got 2 cups veggie broth boiling in a pot. I added the cup of brown rice to the broth, turned heat to low, covered it, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

While the rice cooked part-way, I got out the dutch oven and sauteed the onion, garlic and red pepper with the herbs (oregano, thyme, basil) for a few minutes, until the pepper was softened and the onion was slightly translucent. Then I added the sweet potato pieces and continued sauteeing a few more minutes. Once the rice had cooked for 30 minutes, I added it to the dutch oven (with any excess liquid from the rice pot) along with the beans, kale, salt, and pepper.
I poured the extra 1/4 cup veggie broth on top and put it in the oven to bake at 350 for about 23 minutes (until the rice was cooked all the way through), after which it looked like the below!
This can keep hungry family members satisfied for days!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Street food

Last night I ate "fancy" street food at Street. I love this restaurant because the food is so unique and the plates are so small that you can try a lot of the dishes without feeling like you're beyond stuffed.
We started with un-photographed passed appetizers, including a fresh take on bruschetta- crispy bread with hummus and marinated eggplant and tomato. We also had their famous chicken meatballs breaded with waffle batter and bacon bits and dipped in sweet syrup.
Then we had their famous Kaya toast. It's supposedly a perfect hangover cure. Toast with coconut jam and a side of poached egg in a soy sauce glaze with just a bit of vinegar-y greens. The coconut jam is what makes this dish (at least in my humble opinion). So good.
Next up potstickers with shrimp, pork and chicken, set atop a deliciously spicy sauce. Don't order this unless you can handle spice. I loved it, but I'm a glutton for pushing my tastebuds to their limits with red pepper and the like.
Next up: Jackfruit Bao. This dish was vegetarian, though it tasted like the bao had pork inside! Apparently jackfruit tastes just like pork when it's served at the perfect level of ripeness. The peanut hoison sauce on this plate was AMAZING. I would have licked my plate had it been appropriate.
Here's a glimpse at the jackfruit (above).
Then we were greeted with artichokes. Probably the most flavorful artichoke I've ever had. I didn't even need the tartar sauce.
Followed by salmon that was seared to perfection with crispy edges. And though the fish was very tasty, I have to say it was overshadowed by the soba noodles which were covered in the most delicious miso mustard sauce. After the salmon, we got lamb meatballs and a delectable dessert, but we got these as the patio got much darker, therefore my photos are not worth posting. But you can look at the description on the menu at the top of this post, and you can imagine how good the meatballs and cake were. The cake was made with semolina flour so it was very dense in such a good way. I'd say I want to try baking it at home, but I don't think I could begin to do it justice..  I think I'll just go back to Street another time for more :)