The Chef’s Table

Birthdays are a blessing! Not only does it mean you survived another year, it also means that you get to go out to eat at great restaurants! To celebrate my brothers birthday we decided to go out to eat at our family’s favorite restaurant, The Chef’s Table. It is located in Rocklin, California and they have food that is to die for! If you are ever in the Sacramento area, it is a must try! Be sure to book about a week and a half out because they are a very small restaurant that is very busy.

As a starteIMG_1449r I had a strawberry and baby spinach salad. It was loaded with pluots (a hybrid of plum and apricot), spiced almond slivers, goat cheese, with a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. To say it was delicious would be an understatement. I have never heard of or had a pluot before and found it quite satisfying. It is slightly crunchy which I liked. It also paired very well with the balsamic in the vinaigrette. They are available at your local grocery store or farmers market. I highly recommend! This salad was very light and refreshing and the strawberry vinaigrette complemented the salad nicely.

IMG_1454For my entree I chose the brie burger. This was the BEST burger I have EVER had! It is made with sun fed ranch all natural beef, double creme brie, applewood smoked bacon- fig jam, arugula, and a whole grain mustard aioli. The picture surely does not do it justice of just how good it was. I ordered the burger medium, and it was cooked to perfection. The applewood smoked bacon – fig jam was smoky yet sweet. The brie was the real cherry on top. I am normally not a huge cheese eater but the double creme brie in this burger was phenomenal. The menu at The Chef’s Table changes frequently so if you see this on the menu, I highly recommend ordering. The burger doesn’t come with fries, but it honestly doesn’t need it. The fries would’ve taken away from the unique flavor combination.

IMG_1458As a dessert we all shared a krispy kreme bread pudding with a fresh strawberry puree. It was topped with homemade whipped cream that was divine. You could taste the donut along with the strawberry puree so it was not overly sweet. They also have a bacon brownie that they offer all the time that is very good as well. They use bacon grease instead of regular oil and it gives the brownie a slight smoky flavor. If you interested in making your own bacon brownie, check out this great recipe here. If you happen to visit The Chef’s Table, make sure NOT to skip dessert!

Share your favorite restaurants with me in the comments section above!

Happy eating,

Dana

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Porterhouse Steaks

IMG_1472Men tend to love meat, so for Father’s Day we set out to find my dad the biggest piece of meat out there! We ended up buying 2 porterhouse steaks for my dad and brother. The rest of the family opted for filet mignon. For the porterhouse steaks we lightly seasoned them with a dry rub. For the filets we lightly seasoned with sea salt and slightly crushed peppercorns.

This meal was cooked on Father’s Day so I let my brother man the grill. He has become quite the grillmaster over the last couple of years! He preheated the grill to about 400°F and cooked them until the internal temperature reached between 130-135°F. We first seared the steaks in direct heat for about 2 minutes on each side and then moved them to indirect heat for about 4 minutes on each side. We tend to cook our steaks medium rare where the inside is a nice pink with a hint of red. For great tips on how to cook a porterhouse steak check out The Meat Source website here. Also, don’t forget to let you meat rest for about 10 minutes after it is taken off of the grill. This helps for the meat to be more flavorful, and juicy.

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For our sides, my dad requested sauteed spinach, and corn. The spinach was sauteed in extra virgin olive oil and two cloves of garlic. If you would like to make the spinach a little sweeter I suggest sprinkling a little bit of brown sugar on top (It’s delish!). The corn was cooked in about an inch of water with a few pinches of salt. We also put together a side salad with everything but the kitchen sink. It is a great way to get rid of leftover veggies!

For our beverage, we chose a Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabs tend to have a very bold and deep flavor so it matched perfectly with the steaks. Wine tends to cleanse your palette so I suggest taking a sip between every couple bites of steak to bring out all of the flavors of this dish. To better understand why red wine pairs well with dark meat check out this site here.

Share your favorite porterhouse or filet mignon recipes with me in the comments section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

IMG_1496Zucchini dishes are easy and simple to make. I decided that stuffed zucchini boats would be a good dish to try and this was fun for me to make. I often find inspiration from surfing pinterest for new recipes to try. My pinterest account can be found here. I also like to try recipes from  Cooking Light’s Website.

The recipe that I used to make these stuffed zucchini boats can be found here. I decided on this particular recipe because it called for bacon. I would normally make this dish with ground turkey but I wanted to switch things up. I changed the recipe a little bit to my liking. Instead of using butter to saute the onions, I used a very small amount of bacon grease. Sauteing the onions in a little bit of bacon grease seemed to add a great deal of flavor to the dish. I also used a purple onion instead of a sweet onion. In the future I think I will be adding some mushrooms to this dish. I felt the bacon, tomato, and onion filling was great but could use one more vegetable.

IMG_1504For my sides I decided to make some quinoa. This is the tricolor quinoa from Trader Joe’s. I like to use vegetable or chicken stock instead of water. I unfortunately was out of both so I opted for water but I certainly recommend stock because it gives it a bolder flavor. I love roasted veggies so I chose to roast broccoli, garlic, and heirloom tomatoes. After I pulled the veggies out of the oven, I topped them with a little bit of lemon juice, lemon zest, and a little bit of grated parmesan cheese. It was delicious!

For my beverage I decided to go with a cabernet sauvignon. I feel that the cab complimented the smokiness of the bacon, and the saltiness of the parmesan. I also feel that it complimented the roasted veggies nicely as well. If you aren’t a red wine drinker then I would recommend a dry riesling or a sauvignon blanc.

Share your favorite stuffed zucchini recipes with me in the comments section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

Thai Basil Chicken Stir-Fry

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Stir-fry is a quick and easy meal to make for the faintest of cooks. I have made stir-fry before, but a very basic version with veggies. I was given this particular stir-fry recipe from a good friend of mine which came from Cooking Light magazine. Her and I got together this week and tried it out. This is now one of my favorite stir-fry recipes because it had a little bit of heat that left my lips a little tingly from the serrano chile that the recipe calls for.

I decided to change a couple of ingredients in the recipe to give it my own twist. Instead of using peanut oil, I substituted it with regular vegetable oil. The only real difference between the two is that peanut oil has a higher burning temperature. I also splurged and bought a bag of pine nuts. I lightly toasted the pine nuts and placed them on top of the dish as a finishing garnish.

As my side to this dish I had made some riced cauliflower. I have been wanting to try Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower that was recently released about a week or so ago. I have heard that it is a pain to make your own riced cauliflower so I opted for the bag this time! I’ll eventually try and make my own homemade riced cauliflower but I was on a time crunch this week. I was overall really impressed and will be definitely buying more of it!

IMG_1378 As my beverage I have chosen a chilled Pinot Grigio. I found the wine to be very refreshing from the slight heat of the dish. If you are not a white wine drinker try and pair it with a smooth and fruity beer, such as a wheat beer. For more information on stir-fry beverage pairings check out Cooking Light’s suggestions here.

Please share your favorite stir-fry recipes in the comments section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

 

Rare Steak Pho

IMG_1365I love to cook, but I am human and I do like to take a day or two off a week to get takeout for dinner. One of my favorite items to get for takeout is vietnamese pho. Pho consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, onions, scallions, parsley, and meat. You are given toppings as you can see in the picture to the left. I am slightly picky when it comes to my toppings. I love the sprouts, lime, hoisin, and sriracha sauce. I stay away from the jalapenos, and basil! When it comes to eating pho, it’s not easy. For some tips on correctly eating pho check out Food Republics blog. I prefer to just use a fork and spoon!

Pho can have many healthy benefits depending on the serving size, amount of noodles, and type of meat. It can be heavy on the sodium but it can also provide about 20g of protein as well. An average bowl of pho can range from 350 to 450 calories. Did you also know that it is a great remedy for a cold, and hangovers?! I haven’t tried pho while having either sickness but I have heard from many friends that it is a miracle worker!

IMG_1371Pho is very affordable, and as a college student that is why I love it! It costs me about seven dollars and I think that is a good deal for how much food they give you. I would like to try to make this myself since it seems rather simplistic.I have been looking through recipes and I think I will use a recipe that allows you to us a crockpot since it seems most convenient for me. The recipe that I am interested can be found here.

My beverage of choice for this meal was a tall glass of iced cold water. I found that I was rather thirsty with all the sodium in this meal. If water doesn’t sound appealing to you try a cup of tea. I have also read that it is good to have a glass of merlot before eating pho because it helps to pull out all the flavors from this dish. I will be sure to try in the future!

Please share your favorite takeout meal or pho recipe with me in the comment section above!

Happy eating,

Dana

 

Mustard Chicken and Sauteed Bok Choy

Mustard chicken is one of my favorite dishes that is quick and simple to make. It only took me about 25 minutes to whip this dish together (I love quick cooking!). It is possible to make good food in a short amount of time! This dish is prepared on a stove top instead of a grill like my previous two posts.

IMG_1337Cutting carbs from dinner is something that I try to implement a couple days a week, especially during the summer months. I found that this dish was light enough that it didn’t leave me hungry or overly full. I bought the bok choy in bulk at Costco so that I could use it over the course of a week and experiment with different ways of cooking it. In the future I would like to try riced cauliflower as a low carb side to this dish.

Bok choys nutritional facts make it a great side to add to any meal, especially if your  are trying to eat healthy. I have prepared it with ginger and garlic in a stir-fry style. I lightly sauteed some garlic, ginger, and bok choy until the bok choy was slightly wilted (About 3 minutes). For more ways to cook bok choy check out William Sonomas blog here.

As my beverage I have paired this dish with a Pinot Grigio. I felt the slight sweetness of the wine paired nicely against the slight saltiness of the dish. If you are not a fan of Pinot, I would substitute for a glass of chilled Chardonnay.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. white wine
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. capers
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • Mushrooms, optional

Instructions

  1. Saute garlic in oil
  2. Add mushroom, saute for 2 minutes
  3. Add chicken and brown
  4. Add wine and soy sauce, cook for 2 minutes
  5. Add capers, and mustard
  6. Cook until the chicken is done

Please share your thoughts about this dish in the comments section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

Brick Chicken

Watching the food network has inspired me to try many different recipes. Recently, I have been itching to try brick chicken. Brick chicken doesn’t mean that your cooking a chicken on a brick, it simply means you putting a brick atop your chicken while it is cooking on the grill so that it will cook through evenly and make the skin crispier. Being able to use items that may be laying around your house is fascinating to me. I have always enjoyed a good chicken dish and brick chicken is a great way to change up your standard chicken entree. For this dish I have used a brick chicken recipe that I had found on the food network website. I did not follow it precisely since I like to put my own spin on things.

For this dish I used two full chickens so that I would have leftovers for the week. I love to have leftovers, especially being a college student! It makes it easier to pack a lunch for school or come home after class and whip together a quick and delicious meal. I also marinated my chickens in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, dried thyme, oregano, and basil.

Grilling chIMG_1354icken can be an art form in itself, I have been notorious for undercooking or overcooking it. I have learned that practice makes perfect! For this dish I made sure to preheat the grill to 350°F. You can see that I have wrapped my bricks in aluminum foil so that no brick particles would get onto the chicken. I cooked them on both sides for approximately 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reached 180°F. The chicken was cooked with the skin on for more flavor; you can always take the skin off before serving to cut calories!

As my sides to the brick chicken I had grilled some zucchini that was tossed with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. It is a great and light side in the summer time! To add a carbohydrate to the meal I roasted some potatoes in the oven and lightly garnished with some parsley. I would have liked to made a chipotle aioli to accompany my roasted potatoes but I suppose it will have to wait until next time!

IMG_1357Being able to pair a beverage with a meal can help compliment your food. I love to keep up on great wine and food pairings. For my brick chicken I decided to pair it with a Cabernet Sauvignon (I’m not much of a white wine drinker). I love cabernets and I think I have my parents to thank for that! Although cabs are normally paired with pasta, or dark meat I enjoyed this pairing. I feel that the deep rich flavors of the wine complimented the chicken and veggies nicely. If you are more of a white wine connoisseur I would recommend a chilled Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

Please share your favorite chicken dish and beverage pairing in the comment section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

Grillin and Pizza Chillin

With summer months upon us it is a great time to fire up your grill for some summer barbecues. A great alternative to hamburgers and hot dogs is grilled pizza! Every week I get together with one of my dear friends and cook a delicious homemade meal. This week we decided to make grilled margherita pizzas. Wow did they turn out delicious! I have always loved margherita pizzas and how simple and delicious they are!IMG_1306

Pizza is a food that is loved by just about everyone. Not to mention that pizza is pretty affordable to make. I am a loyal Trader Joe’s shopper so most of the ingredients in the photos below are from Trader Joe’s. I love the garlic and herb dough that they sell and I highly recommend! I promise you won’t be disappointed! As a side to the pizza we grilled some zucchini which complemented the pizza nicely.

First, we prepped our ingredients. Second, we fired up the grill to 400° F. We made sure to clean it well so that no old food would stick to the pizza dough (yuck!). We lightly coated the grill with some oil and then placed the raw dough on the grill and cooked for approximately 5 minutes a side, or until the char marks were a warm brown color. Make sure to close the grill while the pizza is cooking. Once they looked good we pulled them off the grill and placed the mozzarella, and tomatoes on top. We placed the pizzas back on the grill until the cheese was melted. Lastly, we added the fresh chopped basil on top. For some extra flavor you can drizzle some olive oil or vinaigrette on top!

Be sure to share your grilled pizzas with me in the comments section above!

Happy cooking,

Dana