Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Restaurant Week and a Costa Rican Christmas!

Now that the holidays are officially over, what do I have to look forward to?! Ah, yes... Restaurant Week! That, and My Big Fat Costa Rican Christmas. More on that later.

If you are unfamiliar with said event (Restaurant Week, not my family Christmas), it's when various restaurants construct a prix-fixe menu and you pay a fee of $10-$40/per person (depending on the restaurant) and you get to try a complete meal: appetizer, entree and dessert for a ridiculously great price! It's definitely a great opportunity to try that restaurant that you've been dying to go to, that would ordinarily be out of your monthly budget. I think this year, I'm going to try Pamplemousse Grille and/or MARKET Restaurant + Bar.

I had the opportunity to sample Pamplemousse at a charity event I attended, er volunteered at, but "attended" sounds like I was rubbing elbows with San Diego's elite. MARKET is the sister restaurant of Banker's Hill Bar and Restaurant - my culinary interning Alma mater! Both restaurants are conveniently located in Del Mar. If I play my cards right, I could kill two pigs with one bird. Take a look at the list of participating restaurants and get out there and bring our local eateries some well deserved business!

More information on San Diego Restaurant Week

Onto my BFCRC. Every Christmas, I usually start out by spending time at my Mom's house and make my way to my Dad's side of the family, who, by the way, is Costa Rican. This year, I didn't have the opportunity to visit my Costa Rican family, led by my loud-and-proud-five-foot-tall Costa Rican aunt, even though I spend a MINIMUM of once a week at her house watching Caso Cerrado. She has a turkey that she is chomping at the bit to cook so naturally, we're celebrating Christmas all over again - complete with a tree, gift exchange and a heaping side of guilt.

Stay tuned for that. It promises to be an entertaining Christmas!

P.S. How many times did I say "Costa Rican" in this post? Slowly but surely, I am becoming my aunt's favorite niece.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry The Night

Hello everyone! How is everyone dealing with holiday madness? I like to dedicate one day out of the holiday season to do all my in-store shopping. Other than that, I'm all about the online shopping! Unfortunately, I pulled my neck for the second time this month and I have been too busy to nurse it back to health. Anyone willing to trade unlimited chiropractic care for some yummy desserts, please contact me. Just kidding! Maybe...

My most recent networking opportunity (I prefer it over the term "gig" seeing as I'm not in a high school garage band that plays at house parties) consisted of making dessert trays. With the help of my friend Melissa, I set up a meeting with her parents and together we came up with four different items and a "vision" for the trays. The items that made the cut were: caramels, shortbread cookies, coconut macaroons and vanilla bean marshmallows. You see, Melissa's Dad is a doctor and he wanted to bring his fellow colleagues some edible holiday cheer! That's my cue!

Melissa and I arrived to the hospital on Wednesday night and we were given a special tour! I felt like I was on Cribs: Hospital Edition. We delivered all the trays to their appropriate locations and each shift had their own so hopefully, no one was left out!

Here is a picture of Dr. De Carvalho with one of the trays!

I received word that everything was a hit and I am grateful to have had an opportunity like this! I truly enjoyed every minute of it and I hope that these bite-sized treats gave the hardworking staff a few well-deserved moments of yummy and joy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My French Love

I figured it was high time for me to start sharing which restaurants I frequent around San Diego! One of my favorite breakfast spots is nestled on the corner of 9th and G Street in Downtown. Café Chloe is a charming French restaurant/wine bar and while its patrons tend to pack in mainly for breakfast/brunch, they also have amazing options for dinner. They even have an afternoon tea! I have been impressed with every item I have ordered. It's always refreshing when the owners are present and helping out their employees. Their rich, flavorful dishes and pleasant staff are what makes Café Chloe my go-to breakfast spot, time and time again.

Some of the items I have tried...

Bloody Mary
Orange Mimosa

Croque Madame

Soup Du Jour

Mussels with Pommes Frites

Mayan Mocha with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream


Bon Appétit!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Commence Holiday Weight 2011!

It has been brought to my attention by numerous individuals that I haven't been posting on my blog! I can't believe I let 3 weeks pass by without a single post! I apologize for being E.I.A. (Eating In Action). Actually, a lot has been going on. Between Thanksgiving madness, my birth-week (that lasted 2 weeks), trying new eateries, creating a special holiday card and prepping for a job that I have coming up, the time totally flew by! I also have a pulled neck muscle and can't turn my head to the right. Driving has turned into an act of congress. This experience has shown me how much I take my neck for granted!

This Thanksgiving, I made quite a few items but my favorite were the Cheddar-Parsley Biscuits and Apple-Cranberry Pie. It isn't Thanksgiving without it! I've been baking up so much stuff recently, that it would put the Keebler Elf to shame. Unfortunately, I don't always have the time to have a proper foodoshoot. Slowly but surely, new pictures will make their way up!

Friday, the 25th, was my birthday! I spent the morning hitting up the Black Friday sales and treating myself to a $4+ Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks. On Saturday the 26th, I made my way to Valley View Casino for their lobster buffet. Definitely worth visiting especially since your first visit is FREE! That's right! You heard it here first: FREE! They have a ton of fresh seafood: mussels, lobster, shrimp, etc. Also, the cutest desserts I have ever seen! Everything is miniature, which I love: tarts, French macaroons, cheesecake lollipops, ice cream bars dipped in chocolate, truffles and tons of other goodies! They also make their own ice cream and they have an ice cream bar set up so I asked for a cone to go filled with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Mango Sorbet. Whenever I visit a buffet, I have a set of golden rules for myself. That being said, I think it's time to pass the torch.

1) Don't load up on fillers (i.e. bread).
2) Only order water to save room for food. Let's be honest, you didn't stand in that long line to fill up on soda.
3) Go for the good quality stuff like seafood and meats, first.
4) On the first round: taste everything, eat nothing. Too early to commit to a dish.
5) If you are with another person, assuming it's not a first date, visit each station together. Each of you fill your own plate and use a third "communal" plate and load it with items you both would enjoy trying. One person holds the third plate and the other serves.

And lastly...

6) Take your time! It's not like they're going to run out of food.

For this post, I would like to share the recipe for the Cheddar-Parsley Biscuits I made for Thanksgiving. They are super easy to make and they taste just like the biscuits from Red Lobster! I found the recipe on BigOven.

Cheddar-Parsley Biscuits


2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees - conventional.
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine Bisquick with cheddar cheese, milk, 2 tbsp of butter and 1/8 tsp garlic powder.
Once completely combined, drop large spoonfuls of the dough onto prepared baking sheet.

Combine 1/4 cup butter (melted) with 1/2 tsp garlic powder and parsley flakes.
Brush this mixture over the tops of each unbaked biscuit.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.
Serve warm.

These biscuits are also great the next day for making miniature sandwiches! A slice of good quality deli meat, a slice of tomato and some spicy mustard and you have yourself a delicious snack! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Penguins and Peanut Butter Cups

Hello everyone! How is everyone handling the time change? I don't know how the penguins do it, dealing with complete darkness 6 months out of the year. Did you know that at Sea World, they turn the lights off in the penguin encounter for 6 months since that's what the penguins are used to? A little nugget of trivia that I learned from my Astronomy professor.

I made my way over to my friend Jen's house the other day. I don't like showing up empty handed so I quickly hit the pantry to see what ingredients I had to work with. I quickly noticed that I had bags of chocolate chips that had yet to be used. Those little guys were meant to be used in something other than cookies and I was going to help them reach their fullest potential! For Halloween I bought a bag of Reese's candies and it contained white chocolate peanut butter cups. Since I gave all of my candy away before trying one, I decided now was a great time to make some from scratch!

Since I've never dabbled in the world of peanut butter cups before, I turned to the internet for ideas. The best recipe I came across was on Brown Eyed Baker, but I decided to make some changes to it to really make it perfect!

Peanut Butter Cups

About 42 cups


1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp light brown sugar
8 tbsp powdered sugar 
(3) 11 oz bags of good quality chocolate chips (milk, white or dark)
3 tbsp of vegetable oil


Line a mini-muffin pan with paper liners; set aside. Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper; set aside.

For the Peanut Butter Mixture

In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Heat until completely melted, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Add the powdered sugar, in two parts, stirring until completely combined with the peanut butter mixture after each addition. Set aside.

For the Chocolate Mixture

Using the double boiler method, fill a heatproof bowl with the chocolate chips and set over a pot of simmering water, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula. You don't have to melt all the chocolate chips at once; can be done in sections. The chocolate must be extremely smooth and somewhat runny.*

*A good way to test this is by scooping up some chocolate with the spatula and allowing it to stream into the bowl. If the chocolate is too thick, it will stick to your spatula and will not stream in a fluid motion. If this is the case, add in the 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and incorporate completely. If it is still too thick, which I noticed was the case with the white chocolate, add in more vegetable oil, a tsp at a time, until you have reached the desired consistency. With the milk chocolate chips, I didn't have to use any oil.

Scoop a spoonful of chocolate into the bottom of each muffin cup (about 1/3 full) and give the pan a few firm taps on the counter to even out the chocolate.

Using a tsp, scoop out the peanut butter mixture. Roll it into a ball and flatten it into a disk (I used a bottle cap to flatten them out evenly). Place disks on the prepared baking sheet lined with paper. Once finished with all of the peanut butter mixture, refrigerate the muffin pans and the peanut butter disks for about 15 minutes.

Once chocolate is firm, place a peanut butter disk on top of each chocolate-lined muffin pan. Use a spoon to add melted chocolate* on top and around each peanut butter disk until completely covered. Tap the pan again so that the chocolate fills all the empty spaces and remains even on the surface. If necessary, add a little more chocolate and tap again. If you see any air bubbles on the surface, poke them gently with a toothpick and tap the muffin pan again.

*If the chocolate is firming up, return bowl to the pot of simmering water for about a minute until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Refrigerate finished peanut butter cups again for about 20 minutes, until completely firm. Remove the peanut butter cups from the pan and store in an air-tight container or in the refrigerator. You can even freeze them!

You'll go nuts for these cups!