LA eats!

I was determined to go to as many foodie spots as I could during this trip.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try out the famed LA trucks like LudoTruck, Vizzi, Kogi, or Buttermilk.  But we still indulged in some tasty eats!

Warning:  Be prepared to drool or eat your fist during this post.  There are quite a few mouth watering food pictures.

First stop?  UMAMI BURGER.  I’ve been wanting to try this place out since Giada mentioned it on an episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.  They recently opened one in San Francisco, but we haven’t gotten a chance to go to the city to try it yet plus we heard the wait was ridiculous.  Luckily, there are several chains in the LA area including one by our hotel in Santa Monica.  There was a 30 minute wait but the food was SO worth it.  The hubs like it just as much as I did.  Of course, we ordered the Umami Burger because that’s what they’re known for and what Giada was raving about plus we got a Kalbi (Korean Short Rib) Burger.  We split both burgers in half so we could get a good portion to taste, which was a good idea because both burgers were equally scrumptious.  I’m salivating just thinking how juicy and flavorful these burgers are.  I’m going to go as far and say they were better than Good Eats burgers.  YES I SAID IT!

Umami Burger.

Look at that sexy burger.  Umami Burger – Shitake Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Roasted Tomato, Parmesan Crisp, and Umami Ketchup.

Smushed Potatoes

Kalbi Burger – Kimchi and Onion Strings.  This was one of the specials of the day, so I’m not 100% sure what’s on the burger.  

The last time we went to LA, we completely missed Roscoe’s.  We have no idea what we were thinking!  Of course, we had to stop by this trip.  The chicken was amazing.  Crunchy and juicy!  The waffles, DEELISH, light but had a hint of cinnamon to it.  SO GOOD!!!

Ready to feast!

That’s not an alcoholic beverage.  I read reviews and one of the recommendations other the chicken and waffles was to get their juice blends.  This mixed Lemonade, OJ, and Fruit Punch concoction, called the Eclipse, did not disappoint.

After Roscoe’s we drove up to the Griffith Observatory but didn’t get to walk around like we would have liked to because parking was just a disaster.  We would’ve had to walk 15-20 minutes to get up to the Observatory and I was already a bit tired, so we headed back to the hotel and took a nap.  By the time we woke up, it was too late to get dinner and quite frankly were still full from Roscoe’s.  But we were in the mood for dessert, so we went to the Third Street Promenade and grabbed some gelato at Angelato.

Super happy pregnant woman with her Spumone and Green Tea Gelato. 

The next day we met up with our friends from home that live in LA now.  We met up at Moo Dae Po II, an all you can eat Korean BBQ restaurant.  I’m so happy our friends picked this place because I’ve been trying to get the hubs to go to a restaurant like this in the Bay.  At Korean BBQ restaurants, you typically cook your own food, which the hubs is not a fan of.  The restaurant gives you the marinated meats and you cook them on a grill at your table.  They give you rice and Korean sides to accompany the meal.  I used to go to these types of restaurants a lot when we lived in Japan with my friends and family.  I know some people have their trepidations about paying for a meal they have to cook at a restaurant, but it’s about the eating and conversing experience.  This place’s bulgogi was the BOMB!

After lunch we walked around Melrose Trading Post to look for art and whatever vintage finds, but didn’t have any luck.  So we headed back to Santa Monica and went to the pier, where we stuffed our faces with some funnel cake.  You have to if you’re on the boardwalk!  If not funnel cake then some ice cream or churros, but it was too cold for that.

After the boardwalk, we went to a tapas restaurant for dinner, but didn’t end up eating that much because we were still a bit full from lunch and the funnel cake.

The next day, we stopped by Vanilla Bake Shop on our drive back home to the Bay to try out there cupcakes and macarons.  Their cupcakes are pretty good and they have a decent selection of flavors, but their macaron selection was a bit weak.  They had 6 flavors that were okay, nothing spectacular.  Definitely nothing compared to Laduree.  The flavors were basic and didn’t taste as light as they should.  I should’ve tried ‘Lette Macarons, which I read on Yelp was the place to go in LA, but it was a bit out of the way.

Vanilla Bake Shop mini cupcakes.

Macarons.  I got one of each flavor.  I can’t remember what the flavors are.  

The mini cupcakes we got.  From top, left to right (clockwise):  Banana Chocolate Chip, Grandma’s Recipe (vanilla cake with chocolate frosting), Mint Chocolate, Fluer de Sel, Dark Chocolate, and Red Velvet. 

We stopped by Beverly Hills to try out a crepery, Harajuku Crepe, I read about fellow blogger and YouTube Beauty Guru, Anne’s twitter feed.  I was so estatic that they served crepes in a cone shape like they do in Japan, as opposed to flat on a plate… reminded me a little bit of my childhood.

Green Tea crepe with strawberries, chocolate sauce, and ice cream.  NOM!

Tasty weekend indeed.  I wish I could eat my way through LA… actually every city.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Since I’ve been well enough to make myself lunch this week and no longer have to eat soup EVERY SINGLE meal like I did last week, I’ve been eating salad everyday for lunch.  I’ve been doing this in hopes to get into the “healthy eating” mindset (which has been 50-50, I ordered Wingstop for dinner last night because I was lazy to cook.  smh!).  Eating salads does get boring sometimes, but I try to make it fun, throwing in ingredients into a bowl based on my mood and cravings.

In college one of my favorite lunches from the food court was the buffalo chicken wrap.  Soft tortilla with loads of tomatoes, cheddar cheese, chicken strips drenched in buffalo sauce, ranch, and lettuce.  Back in the days, that was considered my “healthy” lunch.  SMH!  I suppose I could’ve done worse.  The other day, I was craving this wonderful wrap but sadly had no tortillas.  What I did have on hand were leafy greens, a ton of other veggies, and some frozen chicken strips (which are always an easy throw-in to any salad or suffice as the Mister’s dinner, accompanied with rice of course, while I’m out of town for work.  I know I could use grilled chicken breast to make it a little healthier, but I don’t have any on hand.  Plus the chicken breast only went on sale yesterday at Safeway.  I’m headed there today to get some to grill and/or roast and then freeze).

No real recipe to this.  In my opinion you should throw whatever you want into a salad.  For my cobb salads, I throw everything into the bowl but the kitchen sink.  Some combinations work well than others, but you won’t know until you try it out.  I will list for you what veggies I do have in this bowl of yummy goodness:  baby lettuce, romaine, carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, bell pepper, croutons (homemade), cheddar cheese (low fat. we’re still watching our figures here people!), chicken strips in buffalo sauce (Follow the back of the hot sauce bottle.  For a healthier option of buffalo sauce, use margarine instead of butter.  For the healthier chicken option, use grilled chicken or roasted shredded chicken & toss that into the buffalo sauce), and ranch sauce (low fat or regular.  not the fat free, that’s straight sugar.  If you do use regular don’t use TOO much, that is if you’re trying to be healthy, otherwise pour away.  I, personally, used a tablespoon of ranch and added more hot sauce.  And then devour!  SO YUMMY!

See, being healthy and eating salads can be fun, it’s about mixing it up and creating something different.  So go indulge this weekend and have this salad on Monday for something a little healthier to start off your week.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Chicken Cacciatore

I LOVE cooking anything with peppers, onions, and garlic.  When sauteeing these vegetables, the smell is AH-MAY-ZING.  Afritada, sausage and peppers, and chicken cacciatore.  SO GOOD.  Actually anything with peppers I think I love.  I have a slight addiction to them.  My dad used to grow them in our backyard when I was younger and it just reminds me of him.  During the summer months, there were so many that bloomed, that we’d grill them and have them for dinner.  So fresh and plain, yet SO.DAMN.GOOD. (pardon my french)

I’ve made Chicken Cacciatore using Pioneer Woman’s recipe and that is delish.  Super classic and yummy.  Bonus?  She feels the same way about braised meats as I do.  See my afritada post.

Recently, I tried Giada’s version.  I wasn’t going to try it because it had capers in it, which seemed a bit odd to me, but I decided I’d be adventurous.  Still good, although different.  When I make this dish again, I’d add some heat (red pepper flakes or fresno chilis) while sautee-ing the vegetables.  The saltiness from the capers and salt and sourness from the tomatoes and wine were there, but there was another depth of flavor missing.   I added a touch of creaminess by sprinkling the pappardelle noodles with parmesan cheese and pepper which just married the flavors so well together.  DELISH!

Giada De Laurentiis’ Chicken Cacciatore

Modifications by me in red

 *I know those are fusili noodles and it says fromvatoca.wordpress.com.  It’s an old picture and I’ve been meaning to share it with you.

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp of fresh cut parsley for garnish 

DIRECTIONS

*Note:  To make the dish lighter I took the skin off the chicken and used only 1 breast and two more thighs for more flavor slash bump up the iron.  

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell peppers, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with red chili flake, salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and parsley and serve with pasta.