Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bistro 760

Pretty great experience trying out this awesome new restaurant.  The location and curb appeal are both kind of crappy.  It was very hard to find, as it is around the corner from where you would expect.  The address leads you to a small shopping center and while the restaurant is part of the center you can drive up and down it and never see the place.  We finally out of desperation started driving down the side streets and eventually discovered the Bistro hidden almost at the back of the shopping strip.

When you walk in the ambiance automatically puts you at ease and you forget the nightmare of finding the place.  It is a very chill, hip place.  I spent forever reading about the alcoholic drink choices off of the colorful chalkboards.  It definitely feels like somewhere you want to go hangout.

Our server was awesome and very attentive and the place was in pristine condition.  I think they are still having a pretty hard time with recognition though, as we were the only people in the place the entire time we were there.

Vista Roll
We tried the Sunday lunch special; the tempura and several of the rolls.  To start with the food looks amazing.  You eat with your eyes first and what I saw was mouth watering.  The colors and plating worked so well and one of the dishes even came with fire.  Everything tasted pretty good.  The fish was very fresh and the sauces were delicious.  My only complaint is that their sushi is more rice than anything else and if they are going to use that much rice they need to at least cook the rice completely.  Mouthful after mouthful of crunchy rice is not appealing.  I also tried some very delicious plum wine.

I am glad to have given this place a shot.  The prices are amazing; some of the cheapest I've seen for sushi in the area.  I want so badly for there to be a good sushi place in Vista.  I am definitely planning on going back and giving them a second chance; hoping the  under-cooked rice was just a fluke.  The inviting atmosphere and beautiful plates gives this place an A for effort.  If they can just master the food I'll be a regular. Pin It

Friday, December 27, 2013

Low Carb Meatloaf

Yum! The caramelization!
Meatloaf is a great all-American dish.  At face value it sounds like it should be perfect for keto diet: a giant slab of seasoned meat.  However, unfortunately most meatloaf contains cups of breadcrumbs and is packed with carby tomato sauce and puree.  I've been looking at different keto meatloaf options for months now.  Most of them haven't looked nearly as appealing as my mom's meatloaf.  That is when I had the brilliant idea to combine low carb meatloaf with my mother's seasonings.  The following recipe is what I ended up creating.  It is basically my mom's meatloaf with cheddar cheese and low carb ketchup being substituted for the bread crumbs and tomato sauce and puree.  It tasted amazing; all the delicious flavors of my mom's meatloaf with hardly any of the carbs.

Mix, Mix, Mix

2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup low carb ketchup
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
All the Bacon..mwahaha!
1 cup minced onions
2 T horsradish
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
small can mushrooms
Several slice of bacon

1/4 cup low carb ketchup
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons granular Splenda

Low-Carb Ketchup-Blue Label!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat eggs slightly and lightly mix in raw meat. Mix in onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Next add ketchup and the all the other seasonings. Combine lightly but well. Shape meat in loaf pans (usually two or one big casserole dish). Brush glaze over the top of the meat loaf.  Drizzle ketchup on top and then top with small pieces of bacon.

 Bake for about 40 minutes. Check after about 30 minutes. Bacon should be well cooked and it should be bubbling and pulled away from the sides of the pans so you know it is done. Pin It

Friday, December 20, 2013

Swami's Cafe-Oceanside

I loved Swami's!  This place was so warm, cozy and inviting.  The decor was bright and trendy; perfect for a cafe.  They have a community chalkboard, dog water bowls and nice patio.  The place seemed very clean, not a dirty table in sight.  It is the perfect place for a relaxing breakfast on the way to the beach.

The two employees we encountered (a busboy and the girl at the counter) were both very helpful and friendly.  The food was made very quickly and brought right to our table.  The prices were very good also, we spent a little over $24 for the two of us; but we got some of the more expensive menu items.

They have a great variety of drinks from smoothies to espresso to fresh brewed coffee bar with free refills.  The coffee bar had at least 8 different kinds of coffee, 5 different kinds of sweeteners and 4 different milk options.  Clint and I both got coffee and tried several different kinds.

We also ordered the Lobster Eggs Benedict and the Sweet Potato Pecan Pancakes off the specials menu on the wall.  Both were amazing.  I couldn't stop eating.  The pancakes reminded me of eating carrot cake with the sweet potatoes right in the pancakes.  They had the perfect amount of sweetness and the pecans gave them a good crunch.  I love when I don't have to put syrup on my pancakes.  I could quite literally eat this everyday.  The Lobster Benedict was amazing as well.  The lobster was perfectly cooked and the hollandaise sauce was
very rich and smooth.  Also the red skin potatoes on the side were kind of an unsung hero.  They were simple but however they were seasoned made them absolutely delicious.  I highly recommend this place.  It has been a long time since I've had food so good that I was still thinking about it several days later.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chin's Szechwan Cuisine-Vista

Tangerine Crispy Beef
Jeremy has been suggesting this place for two years.  In fact when I moved out to California one of the first things I asked for was a good Chinese place.  I'm not sure why I'm only just now making it here, but I'm so glad that I finally did.  The only real downside to the place was that it is pretty pricey.  I doubt it is somewhere I would go often or for take out.  

The decor was clean and fairly classy.  Definitely more upscale than your normal Chinese restaurant.  Everything had a clean cut, almost fine dinning feel.  Even the garnishes on the dishes were pretty.  Service was very good.  They were constantly filling our drinks and all the food came out quickly and well paced with the other courses.  Paying was a bit arduous as they do everything by hand and we wanted our ticket split up. New tech can be super expensive, but sometimes you can't put a price on convenience (especially when it is for you and your customers).

The food was awesome.  I absolutely loved everything I tasted and so did everyone in my group.  The tangerine crispy beef was to die for.  I'll go back just for that.  Also the fried banana dessert was delicious.  I got the crispy curry beef dumplings for an appetizer, they were simple but good.  Lastly, Clint tried the Pao Hu (Hot Burned Pork) he wanted it to be spicier, but otherwise loved it.  It took 2 years to get me here, but hopefully it wont be two more before I get back!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thai Table-Oceanside

I have been looking for a good Thai place in my area ever since my parents took me to Baan Thai in Manhattan.  I absolutely loved the Mussaman Curry there so I wanted to find a place near me that made it.  This turned out to be no easy task, apparently it is not a common dish.  Who knew?  I was so excited when I found Thai Table.  They had a bunch of good reviews and after quickly scanning their menu I discovered that they also had my curry.

Clint and I got a meal for carry out last night and everything was amazing.  I got the Mussaman chicken curry and he got the chicken fried rice.  My favorite thing about the place is that they have a numbering system for how spicy you want your food.  The ability to customize spice is perfect because I'm a wimp and Clint loves fire; and I haven't been able to find that elsewhere.  I got a 3 and it was perfect; he got an 8 and it was almost too spicy even for him (he took a break in the middle of eating it).

The service was fast and friendly.  They offered us water while we waited for our meal; which only took around 10 minutes to prepare.  The restaurant was small, but decently decorated and seemed very clean.  Prices were exactly what you would expect for Thai food.  We ended up spending about $25 for the two of us.  My ending conclusion is that I will most definitely be back the next time I have a curry craving! Pin It

Monday, December 9, 2013

Keto Snickerdoodles

I found this recipe on Linda's Low Carb website.  I've been wanting to try keto cookies since I started this diet and I'm not really sure why I never have.  I guess it might be because most are made with expensive, hard to find alternative baking mixes, like Carbquik.  This is the first cookie recipe I have found that uses almond flour.  Eventually, I'll get around to investing in some Carbquik, but for now I was excited to try these.

So what was the verdict?  They were...okay.  They weren't as good as normal snickerdoodles, but they were still pretty decent.  I am always worried about texture when I use almond flour, but the texture was great in these.  They were very soft and almost creamy.  The issue I had with them was the sweetness.  I'm not sure if it is just the taste of the Splenda or the amount.  I'd like to try putting less in next time and see if that helps.  Another great thing about this recipe is that it only makes about 15 cookies, so it is easy to experiment and no huge loss if you end up not liking them.

I will warn you the dough is a lot more mushy than most cookie dough.  If it gets too hard to work with just keep putting it back in the freezer.  It was kind of a messy process for me, but you just have to work fast and keep the dough cold.

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick or 1/4 pound)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Almond Flour
1 cup granulated Splenda or equivalent liquid Splenda
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cinnamon Coating:
2 tablespoons granulated Splenda (not liquid)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Put all of the ingredients except for the cinnamon coating in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon until you have a creamy dough. Cover the bowl and chill for 1 hour. Meanwhile mix the granular Splenda and cinnamon in a small dish.

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Drop the dough by walnut-size spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet. Very quickly and gently roll them into balls in your hands. Use a very light touch to handle the dough. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the freezer and roll each dough ball in the cinnamon mixture to coat completely. Place back on the baking sheet. Using the bottom of the dish you mixed the cinnamon and Splenda in, gently flatten the dough balls. If they stick to the bottom of the dish, carefully peel them off and place on the pan. If you work quickly the dough should stay firm enough to work with. If it seems too soft, just place back in the freezer briefly.

Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving. They are very fragile while they're warm.

With granular Splenda:
Per Cookie: 103 Calories; 10g Fat; 2g Protein; 3.5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 2.5g Net Carbs Pin It

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Green Bean Casserole

I really wanted to make green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, but ended up deciding that I didn't need or have the time for another dish.  A few days after it occurred to me that green bean casserole was actually a decent keto dish.  It is on the higher end of my carb allowance so I made sure to only have meat with it.  There a million recipes out there for green bean casseroles, but this one seemed simple and to my liking.  It didn't originally have any cheese in it, but I love cheese and need the extra fat for keto anyway.

1 can Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
Why yes, that is a penguin with a top hat!
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash ground black pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans (I used cans of the french cut green beans)
1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions
8 ounces cheddar cheese

Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, green beans, 6 ounces cheddar cheese and 2/3 cup onions together.  Put the mixture in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.  Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling.  Stir the bean mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining onions and 2 more ounces of cheddar cheese.  Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown. Pin It