Prep Kitchen Little Italy [Restaurant Week]

PrepKitchenMy favorite time of year is upon us! If I lived anywhere else, I would mean the crisp and refreshing drift into Autumn.  But I live in San Diego where seasons don’t exist, so I’m talking about Restaurant Week!

I tried to organize a dinner for all of my nearest and dearest, but after many rounds of reservation changes, it ended up being just me and Beau.  And we had the loveliest time!

I chose Prep Kitchen because I was blown away on my first visit a year ago, and because they open up their entire menu at a low prix fixe cost instead of just choosing a couple of offerings for each course.

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Picking an appetizer was quite a feat.  Their menu changes seasonally but currently they have delights like bacon wrapped dates and burrata with figs.  But I settled with the steak tartare and did not regret it.

It was very rich and flavorful and went superbly with the buttery texas toast.

Beau sprung for the cheese board, which thrilled me because I love nothing more than food that used to moo and even better, he let me eat half.

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We nibbled together on rich cheeses, homemade mustards, pickles, cabernet raisons, walnuts, and seemingly endless other nuggets of joy.

Then our entrees arrived.  Salmon for me and duck breast for my pal.

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Mine was rich and flakey.  It was the compote on his that made it divine.

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We did our damage to each and were nearly stuffed when they came to remove our plates.  Thank God for my separate dessert stomach!  It really saved the day.  To miss this budino would have been a real crime.

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It was like a brownie with fudge sleeping quietly inside, ready to ooze out and delight with just the right spoonful.  Beau went for the cheesecake, which was also fabulous.  He let me steal a nibble and it tasted just like the ones I make (an enormous compliment, in case that wasn’t clear.)

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It was an amazing spread that delighted with every forkful.  Yet another must-try restaurant in San Diego!  But make sure to hit the Little Italy version.  I’ve tried Del Mar and was less impressed.

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Balsamic Roast Beef [in the crock pot]

BalsamicRoastBeefHere it is: my set-it-and-forget it recipe for fall.  Why do I love it?  Well, it’s healthy, I had most of the ingredients on hand, it’s incredibly easy and – oh yeah – totally delicious.  This is not your typical “two cans of condensed soup, side order of a heart attack” crockpot recipe.  Oh no.  It’s so, so much better than that.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • 1 boneless roast beef (chuck or round roast) mine was about 2 lbs but the recipe will work for up to 4 lbs if you’ve got a hungry crew to feed
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped

To start, I trimmed the fat from my roast.  This is not necessary- it would probably be tastier if I’d left it in because, as my old boss (restaurant manager) used to say, “fat is flavor”.  But I thought this had plenty of flavor without it.

When you’re ready to get cookin’, drop the roast in the pot and just dump everything else on top of it like so:

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Set your slow cooker on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8, depending on your schedule for the day.  Then try to forget about it, which is easier said than done because it smells divine!

One word of warning: don’t skimp on time- I checked mine after 3.5 hours and it was cooked but tough as an old shoe.  I was sure I’d ruined the recipe but an hour later it had softened right up.

When the meat it tender, pull it out of the crock pot and use two forks to shred the meat.  It will pull apart easily.  Spoon some of the remaining liquid over top (about 1/3 cup) for extra savory goodness.

The result is sweet and tangy, rich and savory comfort food you can feel good about.

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Meat this good deserves a close-up.

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Best of all, it’ makes some damn good left-overs!

If you like this, you should check out my other healthy crock pot recipes:

3 Ingredient Mexican Chicken

3 Ingredient Buffalo Chicken 

Recipe adapted from Add a Pinch.

CLICK HERE (then scroll to the bottom) to leave me a comment!

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Greek Week [Santorini]

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Our final stop in Greece was the one I was most looking forward to.  Known for its spectacular sunset views and serene beauty, I’ve been aching to go to Santorini for years.

Sailing up we saw the most breathtaking cities perched on the edge of the cliffs.

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Shortly after, we dropped anchor so that we could all take a jump off these ruins.  After watching a couple of my friends go, I couldn’t resist anymore so I swam over, climbed up, and leapt off.  It was thrilling.  So thrilling that I did it again!  One of my friends caught a photo of my plunge but I haven’t been able to get it from him so I’ll have to substitute with this one I snapped of strangers.

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When we’d had our fill, we continued sailing until we docked at a small port without much nearby.  I was a little disappointed because we’d been right in the middle of things at every other port, and I had such high hopes for Santorini.  But I was pacified with a delicious dinner perched on the edge of a cliff with Greek music.

With nothing else to do, we headed back to the boat early and played a very serious backgammon tournament.

The next morning we woke up early and rented cars so that we could see everything the island had to offer.  We started by grabbing a gyro and then headed to check out some of the views.

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The island off to the right there is actually the center of the collapsed volcano.  The rest of the island makes a crescent around it, creating a spectacular panoramic view.

Next we scooted off to the Akrotiri ruins.   Similar to the city of Pompeii, the settlement was  destroyed by an eruption from Theran around 1627 BCE and buried in volcanic ash, preserving it.  It’s been excavated since the 1960s and honestly, it wasn’t that interesting to me.

Santorini6Without any explanation of what we were looking at, we finished up there pretty quickly, leaving us a whole afternoon to kill.  Fortunately, there was no shortage of beach bars to occupy us.

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We perched up at the pool for the afternoon and the rest of the day melted away.

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Before we knew it, it was time to go catch the sunset.  I finally got to see the quintessential Santorini views I’d been craving.  I really don’t think it gets more beautiful than this!

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And it only gets more spectacular as the sun goes down… which explains the popularity.

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Watching the sun set here was the perfect finale to our trip.  We said our sad goodbyes and went our separate ways- me to the airport for a verrry long trip home (made even longer by an Air France snafu that they made no apology for… but let’s not get into THAT story!) It was a lovely trip and I will never forget it.

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Sayonara Summer

This summer has been a whirlwind of excitement.

There have been baseball games…

Summer1And awesome concerts by legends like Journey, Billy Joel, and Cher…

Summer2A trip to Hawaii…

Summer3And of course, Greece…

Summer4And I wrapped it all up this weekend with a wedding in Connecticut.

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While I’m sad to see summer go, I’m also excited about the things ahead of me.  There are big changes coming and I’m welcoming them with open arms.

 

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Greek Week [Amorgos]

Amorgos1Our third port was Amorgos.  The moment we stepped off the boat, we were welcomed into a local seafood restaurant.  The table was set and within minutes it was piled high with plates of octopus, calamari, hand other Grecian dishes.

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These massive prawns were delicious and right up my alley, but some of the other dishes… not so much.

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I was especially proud of myself when I took a deep breath and popped one of these babies into my mouth whole.

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I did not like it.  I did not like it at all.  Some adventures are not worth taking.

Amorgos4One thing you can always count on being delicious – beer.

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After that less-than-filling lunch, Dawn and I wandered around town snapping photos until it was time to fill our tummies with supper.

Amorgos6 The sun set, and we all reunited for drinks (and some WiFi).

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Although it was our mellowest port visit, it was also one of my favorites.  It felt like a quaint Grecian village as opposed to a hopping party destination.  I reveled in the quiet and was sad to sail away the next morning.

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Oh Amorgos, I really hated leaving but I loved to watch you go….

 

 

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Chicken Thighs to Mesmerize

Lemon Garlic ChickenSometimes I really enjoy spending hours preparing a fabulous meal.  There’s something cathartic about rolling out pasta dough or chopping mountains of veggies.  Then there are most days of the week, when I wish my dinner would just cook itself.

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Here’s a recipe for most of the time.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it takes less than five minutes to throw this dish together.  Pop it in the oven, watch a couple trashy TV shows, and enjoy a healthy and delicious meal.

Here’s what you need:

- 4 Chicken Thighs

- 2 Lemons

- 1 Head of Garlic

- Salt & Pepper

- Oregano

- Olive Oil

Start off by setting your oven to 375ºF (that’s 190°C).

LemonGarlicChicken1Break the head of garlic apart and drop it in the bottom of the pan.  Don’t even bother peeling it.  Take your two lemons and cut them in half, then half again so you’ve got 8 juicy wedges.

Drop your chicken in the pan and arrange the lemon wedges around it like so.

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Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.  Then add a generous sprinkle of dried oregano.

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Add a generous drizzle of olive oil and pop it in the oven for about 50 minutes.  Set your timer and do nothing but enjoy the delightful aroma of your dinner wafting through your home (and, of course, the requisite trashy TV).

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When the skin is crispy and golden brown, it’s time to pull it out and enjoy.  I recommend giving it a squeeze of the lemon and a bit of the roasted garlic with each bite.

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Props to my girl crush Rosie for the recipe!

I’ll be back with more Greece photos soon!

 

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Greek Week [Naxos]

naxos1 After waking up and devouring breakfast on Mykonos, Dawn and I caught a bus over to the New Port.

Naxos3We lingered at Taverna Matthew, the tour meeting point, scoping out the other patrons and speculating as to who we’d be spending the week with. Promptly at 4, our skipper scooped us up and led us to our sailboat. We hauled our luggage aboard and set off to bond over some food and wine before retiring to bed, excited for the trip ahead.

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Around 10 the next morning we set sail for Naxos. To be honest, I’d never even heard of it until then, but it’s a gem of an island. Just take a look for yourself.

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As soon as we docked, Dawn and I hopped off the boat to go explore.  We found beauty around every twist and turn.

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Around 8:00 we united with the rest of our group for a large local dinner.  Our skipper ordered in Greek for the table, and we all drooled as plate after heaping plate arrived.  Everything was gobbled up before I could even snap photos!

The next day we rented a couple of cars and set out to explore the island.  We visited some old (unfinished) statues.  I think this one got tired of waiting around for finishing touches and decided to take a nap.

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Then we visited an ancient church, a city made of marble, and an artist village.

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But the best stop of the day was the beach!  As we found our way to the beach, we learned the hard way that roads on Google maps are not necessarily paved.  While we in the Jeep had a blast, the crew in the Fiat behind us were having a significantly smaller amount of fun.

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But they made it unscathed! When we finally arrived at the ocean, we all struck silly poses for photos, and relaxed on the sand after a long day of exploring.

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Eventually the sun set and we headed back to town for beers and supper.  The group agreed- almost unanimously- to return to the same restaurant as the night before where we stuffed ourselves to the gills before meandering back to the boat for some shut-eye.  Vacationing can be so exhausting sometimes!

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