Monday, August 19, 2013


This post is way late. Despite my blogging laziness of late, I went to the effort of photographing an awesome meal at Catal (in Downtown Disney Anaheim). So now I owe it to myself (and you!) to post the photos. Catal is one of a few Patina Group restaurants near Disneyland. My other favorite is Tortilla Jo's. In case you're curious, here's my meal from Tortilla Jo's the night before the Catal meal. Pulled pork braised in citrus with black beans, spanish rice, and salsa. Yummm:
Now back to Catal, I'm starting the post with dessert (though I didn't start the actual meal this way), just because this is the best bread pudding I've ever had.
What I ACTUALLY started with was the heirloom tomatoes. These tomatoes were so juicy and flavorful. The clear beads spread across them are actually drops of white balsamic vinegar soaked in cold oil to form little vinegar pearls. Those combined with the tomatoes and toasted garlic bread were amazing. One piece of this course got left behind, and that was the sardines. Despite several attempts, I've never developed a taste for those things. Yick.
Next up were the main dishes. I got salmon with cauliflower mash and balsamic-marinated eggplant. I wish I had the recipe for the cauliflower mash- it was so unique and so good. I think there may have been some butternut squash in the mix because it had a great sweetness and orange color to it.
Justin avoided the eggplant and cauliflower-y dish like the plague. He opted for the halibut. Served over fingerling potatoes and roasted squash. Both fish filets (the halibut and my salmon) were cooked to perfection- not too cooked on the inside with a crisp outer layer.
And then we had that wonderful bread pudding. With caramelized bananas and cinnamon ice cream. I might have to attempt something like this at home sometime- though I doubt it would measure up.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer cobbler

Cobbler is great year round. And it's especially great in summer when the fresh peaches are at their peak!
In typical Jen fashion I experimented with making butter-less cobbler. Here are the ingredients:
-3 fresh peaches
-1 pint blackberries
-1/4 cup coconut oil
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 cup milk
-1.5 cups flour
-1/2 lemon
Start by beating the coconut oil and 1/2 cup sugar together (reserve the other 1/4 cup).
Then add the flour, baking soda and salt.
 Then add 1 cup milk into the mix.
And continue beating until it's very smooth.
Then get out the fresh fruit!   
 Slice up the peaches.
Pour 1/2 the batter into the bottom of a 9x9" pan.
Spread out the fruit over the batter.
Sprinkle lemon juice on the fruit.
Like so...
Then add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the fruit.
Sprinkle it all on there...
Then add the remaining batter over the top (it's OK if it's not even).
Then add 1 cup of boiling water. Just pour it right on top of the whole thing.
 And bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, so it's light brown on top.
Then cut out a nice big piece and top it with ice cream and/or whipped cream.
 And savor the fruity sweetness!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

BBQ pineapple wraps

This is a great recipe when you need a quick meal. And when you're craving something sweet but it's not time for dessert just yet :-)
I chopped up half a yellow onion, 1 clove garlic, and added them to a skillet with some 1 cup pre-cooked chicken breast pieces and 1/2 cup frozen pineapple bits (I like Trader Joe's frozen pineapple tidbits- they come small so they de-frost super fast).
I added 1/3 cup BBQ sauce to the whole thing and sauteed it all over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
Then I spooned that lovely mixture into 3 of these tortillas.
I rolled the chicken mixture in the tortillas...
And I placed the rolled tortillas in an oven-safe pan and sprinkled cilantro on top.
Then I baked them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes (they joined some sweet potato "fries" that had been in the oven for 15 minutes already).
And I added some greens for good measure. Dinner done in 20 minutes!

Friday, August 2, 2013


I've posted about Aroma before. Well Alcove is pretty much like Aroma transported from Tujunga to Los Feliz. It's got all you could ask for- healthy breakfast and lunch as well as great happy hour options, full wine and beer list, and hearty dinner entrees. Justin and I recently went for a light dinner.
He got the asian chicken wrap- mixed greens with chicken breast, sprouts, carrots, peanuts and miso peanut sauce all wrapped in a spinach tortilla then pressed to make some serious grill marks. He got it with Alcove's signature caesar salad.
Close up on tortilla (above). And Justin enjoying the patio. Or is he not? Well I enjoyed the patio.
My meal looks very similar, but it's not the same. I got the vegan wrap with grilled squash, asparagus, tomato, mixed greens and roasted corn, all covered in homemade hummus which I love (and I've tried many varieties of hummus!) With mixed greens salad on the side. Both the wrap and salad come with Alcove's balsamic vinaigrette- it's thick with tangy mustard, herbs and pepper. Balsamic vinaigrette at its best.
And that's a wrap. (Sorry for the shameless pun- this is the one and only time I'll use it. promise).

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pot roast

A few years ago I took a knife skills class at Sur la Table, and it just so happens we learned to make pot roast as part of the class! Justin and I have saved the recipe and made it many times. We've also learned how to simplify the recipe...
Justin starts with 2 pounds of lean beef. And he cuts off any fat that might be left on it, then cubes it. After he's cut lean cubes, he browns them in a pan.
Next step is the shortcut. At Sur la Table, we learned to make starter from scratch. But at Williams Sonoma, you can buy delicious starter pre-made.
And all you need to do is add red wine, no extra seasoning required.
We had a very old bottle of red sitting on the counter just waiting to be boiled up and cooked.
Our Ratatouille friend Remy had been guarding it.
And now Remy looks on as Justin pours the french wine into the starter.
He brings it to a boil and stirs it up. Then tosses the browned meat in it and gives it 1 hour in the oven at 325 degrees. 
Then he removes it from the oven and stirs again.
The roast then goes back into the oven for another 30 minutes. While in it's second round of baking, cut up vegetables to go in the broth. (I also added some thyme to them here).
And cut up 2 large sweet potatoes into small chunks.
After the 30 minutes oven round, take the dutch oven back out of the 325 degree oven, and add the veggies and sweet potatoes.
Then it goes back into the oven for another 30-45 minutes (ovens vary). It will come out boiling (see my accidental video below).
Make sure the sweet potatoes are cooked all the way through, then serve!
Dinner is even better eaten outside balcony-style on a pleasant summer evening :)