Basic Waffles

DSC_0157My 23-year old brother is a surprisingly good gifter.  Every Christmas and birthday, I intentionally don’t give him any gift ideas because he does so well when left to his own devices.  And this Christmas, per usual, he delivered.  He got me a WAFFLE MAKER.

This weekend, I made my maiden batch.  I don’t want to toot my own horn here, but it was an epic success.

DSC_0161

To be honest, the recipe is just good.  I’ve had better waffles in restaurants,  but this was a great beginner recipe that would be a good springboard for things like chocolate chip waffles, cinnamon waffles, or even chocolate waffles.

I preheated the waffle iron, grabbed a whisk, and got to work.

I beat 2 eggs, and 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil with 2 cups of all-purpouse flour and 1 3/4 cups milk.  Then added 1 tablespoon of sugar, 4 teaspoons of baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  

Then I scooped about a cup at a time of the batter into the waffle iron.  I trusted the little green light on the waffle iron to tell me when it was done.  It made about 4 waffles.

DSC_0156

I was thrilled with how beautifully they came out.  They were light and spongey and they soaked up the syrup beautifully.

DSC_0163I can’t wait to get more creative with this recipe.  Waffles are the new cupcakes. You heard it here first.

 

Posted in Food & Recipes, Indulgences | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iron Mountain in Poway, California

Iron MountainWhile the rest of America huddled in front of their televisions binging on nachos and cheap beer this weekend, I did the complete opposite.  I grabbed a friend and a bottle of water and headed out to Poway to hike Iron Mountain.

Considering the number of hiking enthusiasts in the general area, there are a surprisingly limited number of trails in San Diego.  They each have their respective perks- Cowles Mountain is quick and convenient, Torrey Pines wins hands down for views, and of course no online dating profile is complete without a photo on Mt. Woodson’s Potato Chip Rock.  But Iron Mountain is my personal fave.

Unlike Cowles and Torrey Pines, Iron Mountain has adequate free parking.  It’s also far less crowded, since it’s a little farther away.  If these two perks alone don’t sell it, I should also mention that it’s a really fun hike with spectacular views.  It’s well-marked, excellently maintained, and suitable for a variety of abilities.

But in case you never get a chance to visit for yourself, you can come along with me on this virtual trip.  The only downside is not rewarding yourself with a nice greasy meal afterwards (OK, you can if you want, I promise not to tell!).

image1

The first few hundred feet are my favorite part of the trail.  After being welcomed through these iron gates, you’re treated to a romantic tunnel of trees.  I always want to linger through this portion, as I’m flooded with waves of childhood memories and East Coast nostalgia. It’s utterly beautiful but over too soon as you emerge on an open and dusty trail.

image2

The trail alternates between short steep climbs and slow gradual inclines as you weave your way through the rolling hills and up the back side of the mountain.  You’ll quickly notice the change in geography from soft and green to brown and rocky.

image4

image3MtnPoseIt’s fun to play the cloud game (where you say what the shapes resemble) with the bizarre boulders that look like they’ve been carelessly tossed around.  This was my favorite- a rocky fist fighting to emerge from the Earth’s rocky surface.

image6

Others are just fun to climb and ponder life for a while.

image12

In no time at all, you reach the summit.  It’s only about 2,000 feet in elevation, but the views are spectacular in every direction.  To the West, you can just make out the outline of downtown.  Looking South, you can see parts of Mexico.  And East, the beautiful mountains continue for miles.

image7

I had to climb to the highest point for a proper 360 view… but it was scarier than I thought and I climbed back down almost immediately!

image10

After resting a moment, we headed back down.  We went cautiously, since it’s easy to trip or slip.  Fortunately we both arrived unscathed and made it back to the trees just as the sun was setting behind the mountains in front of us.   We’d done the whole six miles (about 10 kilometers) in about two and a half hours (including a rest at the top and a couple of scenic detours).  And according to the app on my phone, I burned just over 1200 calories- which is what I probably would have consumed at a Super Bowl Party.  Patriots, smatriots… I think the real winner yesterday was me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Spanish Tortilla

SpanishTortilla1Back in 2006 I spent a semester studying in Barcelona.  I opted to live with a local family rather than in an apartment with other foreign students for a more immersive Spanish experience.  I thought I’d be welcomed into someone’s home, treated like family and we’d all share paella dinners and laughs every Sunday afternoon.  It didn’t really turn out as I expected.  My “señora” was a starving artist type, Buddhist, young at heart, you get the idea.  I didn’t see much of her but she always left my roommate and me something to eat.  Unfortunately, it was always the same something: store-bought tortilla or freezer pizza (with a side of iceberg lettuce).

SpanishTortilla7

By the time I returned state-side in April, I cringed at the sight of tortilla.  But now, almost a decade later, I see it in a more sentimental light.  It takes me back to that exciting, carefree time of my life.

And the homemade version is much more delicious than that store-bought crap I lived off.

Here’s what you’ll need to make one:

– 1 large potato, thinly sliced

– 1/4 white onion chopped finely

– about 1 tbsp italian parsley

– Olive oil

– Salt & Pepper

– 5 eggs

– butter, approximately 1 tablespoon

SpanishTortilla2

You’ll want a frying pan about 6-8″ in diameter. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of oil and add HALF of the potatoes, onions, and parsley.  Saute until the potatoes are soft then remove them from the pan and repeat with the other half.

Once they’ve all been sautéed, I recommend washing your pan.  Mine had a lot of crispy bits that would have added a challenge in the next step.

SpanishTortilla4

Add salt and pepper to the potatoes to taste.

Now melt a pad of butter in the clean pan, making sure to coat the bottom and sides.  Beat 5 eggs and pour a thin layer of egg into the pan.  Add the potatoes mixture and distribute it evenly across the pan.  Now add the rest of the egg and cover, cooking over low heat.

Low heat and the cover are important because it will cook the egg thoroughly and evenly, rather than burning the bottom layer and leaving the middle runny.  I also used my spatula to lift the edges a couple of times and let the raw egg run under.

Once it’s fairly firm, it needs to be flipped.  I did this by sliding it onto a plate, coating the frying pan with another layer of butter, then flipping it back over into the pan.

SpanishTortilla5

It was a little messy, but I made do.

Then I let it cook another 5-10 minutes until the egg was cooked through.  Cut into wedges and serve.

image7

It’s an authentic Spanish tapa, found in restaurants across Barcelona that can be recreated in your own kitchen for about $5.

This post is dedicated to my roommate Kelly, mi esposa de espana siempre en mi corazón.

Posted in Food & Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sauce Poached Cheesy Eggs and Ranch Potatoes

SauceEggs1They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I hope that Alyssa from The Glossy Life takes it as compliment that I replicated one of her delicious brunch menus.  And I have to say, that girl knows her stuff!  I woke up, half in a daze, and threw this together in a snap.

SauceEggs3

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • Jar of tomato sauce (or your own, if you fancy)
  • herbed goat cheese (as much or as little as you please… but I recommend lots!)
  • 3 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Bread for dipping (I made mine using this recipe)

And for the side of potatoes:

  • Potatoes (I’d recommend baking potatoes)
  • 1 packet of powdered ranch dressing
  • Olive oil (approximately 1/3 cup)

Get started by preheating your oven to 400°F.

The potatoes take much longer to cook, so I suggest starting off with them.  Chop them into bite size cubes, mix in the ranch and olive oil, and pop them into the oven stirring occasionally.

Then just pour the sauce into the skillet, hallow out space for the eggs and then crack them in.  I added some basil and oregano to my sauce for extra flavor, but it’s not imperative.  Then I added my goat cheese around the edges.  Before baking, it looked like this.

SauceEggs2

After about 20 minutes in the oven (Alyssa’s smaller version only took 10), my egg whites had hardened and it was ready.  The yolks were still nice and runny, creating a deliciously drippy bite with every dip.

SauceEggs5

The whole thing is easy and hearty- it kept me full through a 9 mile hike!  I’m quite sure this will become a weekend staple at my place.

SauceEggs4

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Perfectionists’ Cafe

FoodFly
Heston Blumenthal’s ahead of the curve, yet again

Heston Blumenthal has always been a trailblazer in the world of culinary arts and someone I have always admired from afar. Revered by many as one of the most creative chefs on the planet, Blumenthal has many restaurants, television shows and his global stature has made the British chef a household name across the world. And although his Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England slipped in last year’s ‘World’s Best Restaurants List,’ he still has a portfolio brimming full of interesting ventures that excites me, if not foodies across the world.

I recently found a blog post from Parking4Less, a UK-based company remarking on his latest venture this year during the renovation of the UK’s flagship airport. As we all know Blumenthal is known for thinking outside the box and has decided to launch his new restaurant in London’s Heathrow Airport. The restaurant, which is named the Perfectionists’ Café is located in the newly renovated Terminal 2.

The restaurant features many of the innovative dishes that took pride and place in the wonderful ‘In Search of Perfection’ TV series that Blumenthal starred in. It was launched in July of this year and is said to offer customers a very British menu built on nostalgia and celebrates British culture to its fullest.

I think Blumenthal had many reasons to launch his new restaurant in Heathrow airport, even though people initially scoffed at the idea. Firstly, Heathrow services approximately 191,000 people daily, so the customer base is huge, and I think this was at the forefront of his thinking. The way in which, airport food is being offered is improving rapidly, and for Blumenthal to be at the head of this has allowed him to gain a lot of exposure for the Perfectionists Café.

Blog11-2

The newly renovated Terminal 2 is also said to feature many groundbreaking engineering, architectural design and art. So, it seems Blumenthal and his unique take on culinary creations was a perfect fit for the terminal’s newfangled surroundings.

Since its launch in July, unsurprisingly the Perfectionists’ Café has been a success and it is slowly helping change the dynamics of how airport food is perceived and served. Where will Blumenthal’s next venture pop up? Only time will tell…But one thing is for sure, I’d love to sample the delights the Perfectionists’ Café has to offer.

Written by: Ashley Nixon

Photos from The Perfectionists’ Cafe.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

PrepKitchen2

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.

PrepKitchen3

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.

image_2

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

image_3

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.

PrepKitchen4

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.)

image_5

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.

Posted in Indulgences | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

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:

BalsamicRoastBeef2

  • 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:

image-3

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.

BalsamicRoastBeef3

Meat this good deserves a close-up.

BalsamicRoastBeef4

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!

Posted in Healthy meals & snacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment