Tag Archives: dinner

Sushi date night

Date night used to be a weekly thing for me and the boyfriend. We’d try a new restaurant, or sometimes revisit a favorite, and just spend time talking. And talking about work was strictly prohibited! But when I was laid off earlier last year date night kinda went on hiatus. We just cut back on things and that was one of them.

Buuuut, I can now officially confirm that I got a job! We found out some more details on Monday and it definitely warranted a celebration. The whole time I was out of work, we said that as soon as I got a job we’d go to our favorite sushi place in Studio City, Katsu-ya. It’s not even a really pricey place, but it was more the principle of not going there until we had something to celebrate. So last night we went!

(Sorry for the orangey iPhone pictures.) We started with two of our favorites.

Baked Green Mussels: I literally have dreams about these mussels. They are HUGE, always taste so fresh, and are served in the most amazing cream sauce. I can’t put my finger on what exactly makes this sauce so good. The boyfriend and I both were literally sopping it up with the seaweed salad!

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna: These rolls are so simple, but so delicious. The crispy rice adds a great crunch, and the spicy tuna has just the perfect amount of bite. We always get an order of these!

We decided we’d each pick one more roll to get, and were going to order ones we hadn’t tried yet, but we had to get these S.S.C. rolls again. They’re California rolls topped with sauteed shrimp, mushrooms, and asparagus (not sure what the S.S.C. stands for). And of course there is some delectable sauce that it’s all in.

And finally we went with the 4 1/2 rolls (again, not sure of the significance of the name!). They were spicy shrimp and crab rolls topped with tuna filets, spicy mayonnaise, and green onion. These had a really clean, fresh flavor. I just love me some good raw tuna!

It was a perfect dinner, accompanied by two glasses of pinot grigio for me and Sapporo for my man! I haven’t been to Katsu-ya before and not enjoyed everything I put in my mouth. We decided that when I actually start my new job we’ll try out Kiwami, which is the same owner as Katsu-ya but a little fancier/pricier. Just writing this post made me want more sushi!

Do you like sushi?  

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Juicy hamburgers and baked parmesan garlic fries

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Dinner the other night was super simple, but it came out SO GOOD I just had to blog about it.

Juicy Hamburgers and Baked Parmesan Garlic Fries
(Parmesan Garlic Fries recipe from Iowa Girl Eats)

To be honest, if we want burgers I’ll usually just buy a pack of patties and cook them up. But we had some lean ground beef in the freezer and I just had a craving. You know how those go. So I decided to make burgers from scratch!

All I did was break up the ground beef and mix in salt, pepper, and 3 pressed garlic cloves. (Yes, I finally own a garlic press. I got a Pampered Chef press for Christmas. 🙂 How was I living without one!?!?) I also remembered a long time ago, I think on Food Network, seeing a tip to add water to your beef to keep the burgers nice and juicy. So I added some water (I didn’t measure but it was probably 2-3 Tbs.) and hand-mixed it into the beef until it was absorbed. I formed the meat into 4 patties (2 went right in the freezer) and placed them on a grill pan over medium heat.

After about 4 minutes we flipped them, added mozzarella cheese, and put the buns on to toast.

I noticed the meat was taking a little longer to cook all the way through, so I did turn the heat up to medium-high for probably the last 2 minutes.

The boyfriend’s toppings (bacon and onion).

My toppings (lettuce, tomatoes, raw onion).

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product, but that’s because we devoured these burgers. The garlic flavor was just the perfect amount. And they were so so so so juicy and perfectly cooked. I wish I knew how they turned out so good. It was either the addition of the water or the fact that I started cooking them on a lower heat. I’m not sure! But next time I make these I’m doing it the same way!

Now on to the fries!

I had one medium-sized russet potato and initially wasn’t sure if this would make enough fries for the two of us. But I cut it into really thin rounds and that ended up being plenty. The recipe said to soak the potatoes in water for 1-8 hours to remove some of the starch. I soaked these for about 2 hours.

I then drained the potatoes, and mixed in salt, pepper, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, and extra virgin olive oil. I didn’t measure anything out, just did it by eye. I spread them out on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, flipping the fries over halfway through.

Oh. My. Goodness. These were so good.

The panko bread crumbs added such a great crunch. And let’s be honest, almost everything is better when you add garlic powder and parmesan cheese. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is to cut these a tad bit thicker. Some of them burned because they were too thin. I think the addition of panko bread crumbs will ensure that the crunch is still there, even if you cut them a little thicker.

Overall it was a faaaaabulous dinner!

Do you make burgers from scratch or just buy the patties? I don’t think I’ll ever buy patties again! These burgers were so amazing!

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Easy potluck pasta bake

Today was my first day of physical therapy after my knee surgery, and man was it harder than I thought it would be! I knew that working on getting my bend back would be hard, but I didn’t think trying to straighten my leg all the way would be as painful as it was. I spent over two weeks in this lovely thing…

…so my knee couldn’t bend, but it wasn’t totally straight either. So it’s kind of in this weird limbo spot where I can’t straighten it or bend it all the way! It’s a little sore since I worked the muscles in that leg more today than I have in a month, but I’m just glad that it’s slowly on the mend. I can handle some pain now if it will get me back to doing yoga! And I can’t wait to try yoga for the first time without having the knee pain that the tumor was causing. I’m hoping within the month I’ll be able to go!

Anyway, I wanted to post the recipe for the pasta bake that I mentioned yesterday. It’s really easy and completely customizable to whatever you have on hand or want to throw in it!

Potluck Pasta Bake
Adapted from Italian Food Forever 

Start by cooking your choice of short pasta. I went with just over a half box of whole grain rotini.

Then, choose what you want to put in the casserole. We used the 1 1/2 cups of diced ham suggested in the recipe. For veggies, we had a bag of frozen broccoli and a bag of frozen chopped spinach that were both almost empty, so we thawed those…

…and my sous chef chopped everything up!

While he was chopping, I sauteed 1/2 cup of onions and 2 garlic cloves in 3 Tbs of butter. Then I whisked in 3 Tbs flour and 3 cups of 1% milk until the mixture was smooth. Next, add your choice of cheese. We chose 8 oz. of shredded cheddar. Add salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. of oregano. Put the pasta back in the pot and all your chopped components.

So colorful!

Pour cheese sauce into pot and mix everything together. Transfer to a baking dish and top with  1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used panko) and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown and crispy.

We love brown crunchy edges in this house!

This was a great dish – and I think it was even better reheated the next day! I always think that casserole type things, including baked mac and cheese, are better reheated – why is that?!?!

Things I will change next time I make this:
– Add more veggies.
– Use either a combo of different cheeses or try something other than cheddar. The cheddar was great, just not super flavorful. I think maybe some gruyere or fontina would’ve been awesome in this.
– Use less breadcrumbs. I followed the amount in the recipe, but it didn’t evenly brown on top because I think I piled the crumbs too high in some spots.
– more garlic! Because the more garlic the better. 🙂

Overall, very easy, was able to use things we had on hand, and totally customizable!

After eating this for dinner the other night, I promptly pulled this out of the freezer.

Yep. That’s leftover cookie dough from these bad boys. The coconut lime were the boyfriend’s favorite so I made a mini batch for us. They were just as good the second time around! You’d think I’d be trying to lay off the sugar after the holidays. But no. I don’t believe in deprivation. If I want sugar and don’t have it, I get grumpy. 🙂

Do you make casserole-type dishes often? Do you have a favorite or do you just throw in what you have in the kitchen? 

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Honey pepper tofu

I know a lot of people don’t like tofu, but for me it’s just a vessel for whatever flavors you prepare it with – which means it can taste like whatever you want it to! And don’t give me the argument that it’s squishy and spongy and has a gross texture – not the way I prepare it! It comes out nice and crispy.

I always buy extra firm tofu. Then I cut the block the long way into 3-4 slabs. (The thinner you cut your slabs, the crispier the tofu will come out.) I don’t have a fancy tofu press, so I put the slabs on a cutting board, layer several paper towels under and over the tofu, and cover with something heavy for several minutes to squeeze most of the water out. This time I just piled all my cookbooks on top. Hey, ya work with what ya got.

After 10 minutes or so, I manually press the tofu some more with more paper towels just to get as much moisture out as I can. Then, I lay the slabs on a baking sheet, salt and generously pepper, and drizzle honey over the top. Then I flip the slabs over and do the same to the other side. I really like the contrasting spicy and sweet flavors, so I add a hefty amount of pepper. If you want it to be sweeter, just add less pepper and more honey. I then use a spatula to cut the slabs into little pieces.

Put it into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, flip the tofu over, and then bake another 10-15 minutes to desired level of crispiness.

This is definitely my favorite way to prepare tofu! These little squares are great tossed on a salad or even on their own. And they reheat in the microwave really well too.

Do you like tofu? What’s your favorite way to eat it? 

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5 ingredient pasta carbonara

Last night’s dinner was super easy and quick – 5 ingredient pasta carbonara!

We decided to roll with whole wheat linguine.

While the pasta cooked I crisped up some bacon. I tried Trader Joe’s’ ends and pieces and it worked perfectly. These are just the scraps that are typically thrown away when bacon is cut into strips. There was hardly any fat and it was really cheap (I used probably less than 1/4 of the package for this recipe!).

After draining the bacon on a paper towel, but reserving some bacon fat in the pan, I tossed the bacon and cooked pasta together.

Then I quickly poured 1 egg plus 1 yolk, whisked with salt and pepper, over the warm pasta. Because I forgot to reserve some pasta water like the recipe called for (typical that I mess something up), I added about 1/3 cup of water along with the parmesan cheese and tossed it all together.

This was an easy, quick, and delicious dish. It was creamy, salty, chewy, and satisfying. I wish I had cut the bacon up into smaller pieces, but the boyfriend said he actually liked the big chunks. Oh, and if you try this, no need to add any salt – there’s plenty in the bacon!

I halved this recipe, and got the idea from Iowa Girl Eats.

What’s your go-to easy Italian/pasta dish? Do you use whole wheat, regular, or a different type of pasta?
I’ve actually come to really prefer the taste and texture of whole wheat pasta. 

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Delicious twists on Thanksgiving favorites

Halloween is over, so that means it’s time to start thinking about the holidays! Since we’re flying back to Massachusetts for Christmas, we’re spending Thanksgiving with my cousin down in Orange County, and I’m already thinking about what I want to make. Check out these amazing ideas for traditional Thanksgiving dishes with a unique twist. I’ll let you know what I decide to try out! (All photos/recipes from Closet Cooking.)

Side Dishes

Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes topped with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Onion Gratin

Maple Dijon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Coffee Gravy

Roasted Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola, and Crispy Fried Sage

I must say, I’m partial to anything with goat cheese in it so those potatoes are my pick!

Main Course

Parmesan and Sage Roasted Turkey Breast

Maple and Chipotle Roasted Turkey Breast

Ham Crusted with Mustard and Gingersnap Crumbs

Roasted Lamb in Coffee Sauce

I won’t have to worry about making the main dish, but I think the maple and chipotle turkey and the ham sound the best!

Desserts 

Vanilla Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce

Maple Pecan Pie

Dulce de Leche Apple Pie

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Pear and Cranberry Crumble 

I’m leaning towards the crumble – they are so easy and it’s hard to mess them up!

Have you started thinking about Thanksgiving dishes yet? Do you usually go traditional, or does your family switch things up?

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Easy sausage and spinach quiche

I love me some quiche. Something about cheesy eggs with a flaky crust just does it for me. And it’s super easy to make. I was feeling a little under the weather today, but wanted something warm and comforting for dinner, so I spent 10 minutes in the kitchen preparing this and man am I glad I did! Not sure if this is weird, but I always make quiche for dinner, not breakfast. Anyone else?…Bueller?…Bueller? (80s movie reference for those of you that don’t know.)

I used a frozen pie crust and just started layering in the goodies. First went the sausage – one Aidell’s Italian Style chicken sausage.

Next I added frozen chopped spinach, thawed.

I topped it with mozzarella and cheddar. (You can never have too much cheese in my book.)

Then I whisked together 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, salt, and pepper, and poured the mixture into the pie crust.

After 35-45 minutes at 375 degrees…

..mmmm, ohhh yeahhhh. And I totally forgot to take a picture of a nice cheesy slice because I gobbled it down as soon as it hit the plate…and then went back for seconds. The sausage in this was so flavorful and added a nice kick.

I’ll be living off of this for the next day or two since, like some other baked dishes – including homemade mac and cheese – I think quiche is even better reheated.

What are your favorite quiche fillings? Are there any meals you like better the next day?

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