Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Barcelona - Passeig de Gracia

This is a shot of Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, the equivalent of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris. Big shopping to be found. I took this from the rooftop of Casa Mila as the sun was setting with my old Sony point and shoot. Happy times. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Up until a few months ago, chicken tortilla soup was not on my radar.  I guess if I was ever craving Mexican food, I'd default to a proper burrito or enchiladas.  Recently, somehow, randomly chicken tortilla soup started coming up everywhere.  Totally random places, like on Kourtney & Kim Take New York, where Kris Jenner and Scott Disick to go lunch in Manhattan and she remarks the Kourtney loves chicken tortilla soup (thank you to keep your Kardashian judgments to yourself!) Or at the cafe in our complex where my coworker got a cup for lunch and it smelled like heaven.  Or finally when the Pioneer Woman posts a recipe and you know its over, you're hooked, and you have to give it a shot.  This is my love story with chicken tortilla soup.

Makes one big pot
Loosely adapted from the Pioneer Woman

2 chicken breasts
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes or 3 fresh diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
Tomato paste
Taco seasoning
Chili powder
4 corn tortillas

Optional toppings: salsa, cheese, avocado, sour cream

1)  First step is to heat some olive oil in a dutch oven or big soup pot. Season chicken breasts with taco seasoning and add to the pot. Depending on the thickness, cook 4-5 minutes on each side until browned. Remove from pot and set aside.

2)  Add diced veggies to the pot, stirring around to prevent sticking. If you are using fresh tomatoes, add them now. Cook 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. If you are using canned tomatoes, add them at this point.

3)  Add the chicken broth, tomato paste, and chili powder. Stir and bring to a boil. In the meantime, shred the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and add to the pot when boiling.

4)  Simmer for at least an hour, taste, and add more seasoning if needed (taco seasoning, chili powder, salt, and/or pepper). At the beginning I usually add less than I think is needed to avoid over salting the pot. It's easy to adjust later, not as easy if you added too much!

5)  Let simmer some more - simmering is good here people. If I was making this on a weekend, I would let it simmer for 3 hours.

6)  Last steps are to cut the tortillas into strips and prepare your toppings. This is your chance to make the dish as healthy or unhealthy as you wish. This time I went with salsa, cheddar cheese, and diced avocado. Throw the tortilla strips into the pot for the last 5 minutes.

Dish up, add your toppings, and savor every moment!

Couple parting thoughts:

- In all honesty, I'm semi over the Kardashians. Well, semi in that I think Kourtney and Khloe still cool but I'm totally over Kim. Like unfollowed her on Twitter OVER.

- Sorry for the lack of measurements this time, I will try to remember to write them down next time and update this post.

- If you can find tomato paste in a tube, I highly recommend that over the usual cans. How many times have you opened a can only to need 1 tablespoon of the stuff? That drives me nuts. Trader Joes and Whole Foods have tubes. Go tubes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happiness lately 2-21-12

From left to right:
1) Chicken tortilla soup - recipe post to come soon!
2) Toffee sticky pudding from John Bentley's
3) Angel hair pasta w/ dungeness crab & linguica from Yankee Pier
4) Delicious Maine lobster from Boomtown
Just a few foodie moments so far this month. Intending to post the full recipe for the chicken tortilla soup this week - perfect for a cold night with a dash of heat to warm up your tummy. I've made this a few times now and just love the fun you can have with toppings. Sour cream, salsa, cheese, avocado, onions, ::droooool::

For Valentines Day the bf and I had dinner at John Bentley's, a "seasonal American" restaurant. Food is fresh and gasp - seasonal, service is always on par, and atmosphere is dark and romantic. Their sticky toffee pudding dessert is to-die-for.

Over the long weekend we moseyed down to Santana Row intending to go to Yardhouse - that is until the hostess haughtily informed me that wait was over 1.5 hours. We were waaay too hungry for that business! So we walked to Pizza Antica where the wait was similar, kept walking, and eventually made our way to Yankee Pier. Overall, I much prefer Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay for seafood (i.e. if you live in the Bay Area and have NOT tried a lobster roll from Sam's, you need to get your priorities straight). But this pasta dish at Yankee Pier was noms.

Last but certainly not least, we hit up the Maine lobster buffet at Boomtown on a recent jaunt up to Lake Tahoe. It doesn't have stellar reviews on yelp, so maybe I just got two really dang good lobsters, but I thought this place was off the hizzy! In addition to lobster, they have prime rib, fried chicken, extensive salad bar, Asian food, pizza, mac n cheese, etc. But people come here for the lobster. The couple besides us had no less than five lobsters each. I couldn't eat more than two! After cracking two my hands were sore and scratched! Clearly I need more practice which I will get when we go back up this weekend! :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Update on diet

Okay, so it's not a "diet" in the sense that I'm really dieting, more like diet in terms of what I'm consuming daily.  Have really been cutting back on processed food.  Haven't been eating sausage, lunch meat, canned, or frozen foods.  Found a kind of smoked turkey at Trader Joes that does not contain nitrates.

Courtesy of everyopinion

And I have to say, in a way it makes life easier.  For example, when I used to go to Costco, my eyes would immediately zoom in the prepared foods aisles. Soups, salami, dips, packaged meals, 20x types of meatballs, sausage, lunch meat - it was like crack to me! Unfortunately, my eyes are almost always too big for my stomach and I would walk out with enough food for a family of 10.

Nowadays, I avoid that section all together, stopping by the meat, veggie, and fruit area. In that way, shopping is simpler.  I don't think I'll ever be able to resist the lure and ease of Chinese takeout after a long workday, but I'm not trying to be ascetic about this at all.

Excited to have lunch at Little Sheep Hot Pot tomorrow. This place has dong gua which is a popular ingredient in Chinese soups. It's kind of a squash/melon hybrid that I loooooove.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Obsession with glittery nail polishes

Clockwise from top left:
Revlon Carbonite
Revlon Starry Pink
Deborah Lippman Glitter in the Air
Sinful Colors - forget the name but it's a glittery black