Saturday, February 28, 2009

OC Restaurant Week, Part Three

Friday afternoon we went to The Winery at The District in Tustin. I was particularly excited about this one as I thought they would have wine pairings too. Unfortunately, there were no wine pairings, which seems odd at a place called The Winery, you know? However, that was the only disappointing part of the whole experience.

My first course was The Winery House Salad. This was delicious. The dijon vinaigrette was fantastic. It was tart, tangy and paired well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and grapes.

My husband's first course was the soup de jour. Friday it was a carrot/ginger puree soup. OMG, WOW! "this is the best use of carrots I've ever had" coming from the anti-veggie husband. So it really was impressive. The ginger wasn't overpowering, and IMO it was the single best dish I've had at Restaurant week.

I don't really like fish so I got the "Grand Cru" burger which is made with Kobe beef, I chose blue cheese, carmelized onions, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes and bacon. The little frittes were seasoned perfectly, but I only had like 4. This burger is huge! I just stared at it for a minute and tried to figure out exactly how to tackle it. Once I figured out the logistics of actually eating it, I can honestly tell you it was the single best burger I've had in my life. I would have liked more blue cheese, but overall this burger was super!

My husband got the Chili-lime rubbed Mahi-Mahi. It was good. It was cooked through and as previously stated, I don't really like at all. But for posterity sake, I did take a bite and it was good. I don't think I can eat a whole portion, but I could have eaten a couple more bites. The chutney on top of the fish was excellent and really it's what made the dish!

My husband had the apple cranberry tarte tartin. It was good. It was a tarte. It was everything a tarte is supposed to be and was presented beautifully. It was not memorable. I wouldn't get it again.

I would get the Creme Brulee again. WOW! I have been in dessert heaven this week. The flavor was amazing, the texture was perfect, the little chunks of chocolate hiding on the bottom were amazing. This was the best creme brulee I've ever had. The only mildly disappointing thing was that the sugar crust wasn't crunchy, but I can get past it. This was served with a chocolate cookie that was ooie-gooie yummy goodness. It melted in my mouth.

The service was timely. Again, at lunch I'd hope for less time between courses so that the working people could take an hour and a half lunch instead of 2 hours (with drive time incorporated for my husband coming from the airport area). Obviously, this was a very minor detail, but the servers were good.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pot Roast

Pot Roast is one of my favorite meals. I love comfort food. It's easy and I work a lot and Stella was kinda sick so here is dinner. Stella only at the potatoes.

Ingredients for everything:
1 can cream of mushroom $1.49
1/2 cup red wine (free because I had a bottle open)
1/2 white onion $.50
Chuck Roast $3.79/lb...mine was $7.08
Potatoes $2.00
Butter $.50
Seasonings (cost minimal)

Total: $11.57
This makes enough for 4 servings, so $2.89/serving.

To cook the pot roast, I cut my onions up in pretty big chunks and put them in the bottom of a crock pot. I sear the chuck roast and put it on top of the onions. Then I add the can of cream of mushroom soup right on top of the roast (I do not dilute it, I just leave it right there on top of the meat). I add the red wine and 2-3 cups of water. I add water until the liquid level is just above the roast. I cook mine in the crock pot, on high for at least 5 hours. The longer the better :)

Mashed potatoes are the easiest. I peal and cut the potatoes, but them in a pot and cover them generously with water. Once the water starts boiling I continue cooking them for about 12-15 minutes. I drain most of the water, add 1/3 cup of butter, 1/3 cup milk, 1/4 teaspoon of both pepper and garlic powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt. Add it all and mash it up!

Gravy is easy. Don't be scared by it. Take the juice from pot roast. I like gravy so I usually take about 2 cups and let it sit in a fat separator for a few minutes. Add it to a pan, the beef plus the wine and the cream of mushroom is enough and you don't need any other seasoning! I brought the gravy to a boil and slowly mixed in about 3 tablespoons of Wondra.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OC Restaurant Week, Part Two

I have a feeling that all other restaurants this week are going to have to try to live up to The Loft at Montage! Tonight we went to Mozambique which I LOVE and have been to a couple other times before. I've become addicted to the flavors and spices they use. That's a whole different post though. Also, Mozambique is a very dark restaurant, so my camera and the lighting at the restaurant didn't get along. Sorry for the over-exposed photos. The service at Mozambique was good. My glass was never empty, I know this is one of those places that they encourage you to take your time to eat, but I think the length of time between courses was a little long. The waiter was fine, not memorable, but fine.

This is the Caesar Salad. I should have gotten the Mediterranean Salad instead. Another table had that salad and it looked better. This on was fine, but just salad you know.

I ordered the sirloin. I like my meat well done. Everything was cooked fabulously! The flavor in the meat was fantastic! The asparagus was great, the mushrooms and jus were to die for good!!!

My husband got the peri peri rotisserie chicken and giant prawns with a mango salsa. I make a mango salsa (also for another post). My husbands suggestion was that I make mine chunkier like this. The chicken was so tender. The prawns were great and I LOVE that peri peri dipping sauce (the brown one). Unfortunately, Mozambique isn't selling it anymore. Hopefully, I'll get to the bottom of that someday!

My husband and I discovered Mozambique on our anniversary. It was referred by my husband's co-worker. Anyways, they gave us a complimentary bread pudding dessert on our anniversary. This is one of my least favorite desserts ever. My husband and I, who never turn down food, ate the whole thing. This is the dessert I chose for restaurant week. They make it with toasted macadamia nuts, bananas, white chocolate, and amarula sauce. I got one for my mom to go since she watched our daughter again for us tonight. She said it was sinful! If you go to Mozambique, I do recommend trying it.

I love chocolate. I could eat it for every meal if my body would tolerate that! My husband got this warm potted chocolate cake with coconut ice cream. It was like eating fudge. It was so good.

We have one more restaurant on Friday for restaurant week and I haven't been there before. I'm excited and I'm really excited that this one has wine pairings too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meatloaf - Budget Meals!!!

Tonight's meatloaf night, just like my momma makes :)
This momma can't eat at The Montage every night!

1 lb ground beef (I get Morans from Albertsons 3lbs 7.99) $2.66
1/2 lb ground pork sausage (I use Jimmy Dean 1lb $4.49) $2.25
1 cup dry bread crumbs $.50
1 1/4 cup milk $.27
1/2 white onion $.50
1.5 teaspoons salt (I'm not counting this for price)
1/4 teaspoon pepper, celery salt, garlic, dry mustard $.50
1 tablespoon of worcestershire or A1 Sauce $.50

Total Cost: $7.18

Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.

This is all I eat. I suppose I made it with broccoli. This will make enough for a family of 4. My husband will have 2 meatloaf sandwiches. I'll save some for both of us for lunch tomorrow. You can't beat the price. It breaks down to $1.79/serving (plus the cost of the broccoli).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Loft at Montage

It's OC Restaurant Week here! Last year during restaurant week I was busy opening a business. This year, my husband and I have big plans for the week! Today we visited The Loft at Montage in Laguna Beach. We are big fans of Laguna Beach, but had never visited Montage. Wow! That's it...just wow! I'm going to start saving for our daughter's wedding there. She's not quite 4, so I hope that's enough time to save. Sounds like a promising start, right?

So after finding our way to the restaurant within the ginormous hotel, the hostess guided us to our table. Here was the View. There were 3 windows directly in front of our table. I took a picture out each window.

Our first course was BARBECUE-BRAISED LAUGHING BIRD SHRIMP with heirloom spinach and garden herbs, winter citrus vinaigrette. I got the wine pairing for an extra $15 which was well worth it! This course came with a chardonnay. I don't remember the wine producers...sorry.

I'm so not sharing with this guy!!!

The husband got MAPLE-GLAZED SONOMA CHICKEN SANDWICH with wild arugula and aged gouda, local tomato marmalade. The marmalade totally made this sandwich. The bread was perfect!

I got the ORGANIC UDON NOODLES rotisserie suckling pig and wild mushrooms, lemongrass cream. It was great! It was so filling. The lemongrass cream is not to heavy. The flavor was absorbed perfectly by the udon. The mushrooms were amazing. The pork was ok. The pork flavor was great, but it was a little dry. Don't get me wrong, the whole dish was fantastic and I'd order it again in a heartbeat! This course was paired with AlbariƱo, a white spanish wine.

Dessert was a GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE. OMG. I'm not a German Chocolate Cake fan, but there were almost truffles in there. Usually, the coconut jam is too coconutty and overpowering. This was perfect. It was served with a burnt butter ice cream over candided pralines. I LOVE the ice cream.

I did mention I was full after the udon noodles, right?

The service was fantastic. One waiter went way above and beyond and almost gave me an ingredient list for the salad vinaigrette. My wine pairings were thoroughly discussed, and the wait staff was just all around phenomina!

Here is the view from the ocean side of the Montage.

View from the concrete trail behind the resort.

Here is the trail. It's gorgeous. The plantlife is beautiful. The path isn't to steep and I love that it's paved. There is public parking right at the Montage for $1.50/hour. It has a pay station, so leave your quarters at home.

My parents took our daughter to the Wild Animal Park while we were being foodies. She came home EVIL. I had this for dinner. I don't normally have 4 drinks in one day!

New Years Eve

My New Year's Eve tradition started 4 years ago. I was 7.5 months pregnant and didn't want to go out. I just wanted good food, my husband and to stay home. So ever since 2005, this is what we do.

This year the menu was:

Passion Fruit Bellini's
(1-2 ounces of passion fruit juice, 3-4 ounces of champagne or sparkling wine)

Corn Chowder, pork tenderloin with apple chutney, and twice baked potato poppers.

Pork Tenderloin:
1. I butterflied the tenderloin
2. Lined it with the apples only from the chutney (don't use the juice)
3. Roll it and secure it with toothpicks
4. used a bobby flay rub on the outside
5. Grill on each side over medium/low heat
6. turn meat every 15-20 minutes.

Apple Chutney:
1 Tablespoon butter
1 small red onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 cup Orange Juice (or any juice really...please, no Kool Aid)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic. Cook until soft. Add the apples, the juice and vinegar, and cook until the apples are soft. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a bowl and let sit at room temperature for a half hour before serving.

Twice Baked Potato Poppers:
5 small red potatoes
2 stalks green onion
3 pieces of bacon, diced and cooked
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sour creme
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

I don't know how to cook potatoes other than in the microwave. So stick a fork in them and put them in there and hit the baked potato button on the microwave. Once they are done, let them cool until they are cool enough for you to handle. Cut the potatoes in half. Scoop out the centers into a bowl. Add to the bowl, the onion, butter, sour creme, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 the cheese and 1/2 the bacon. Stir mixture and add them to the hollow potatoes. Top the potatoes with the remaining cheese and bacon. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Surf and turf made with bbq short ribs, Shitake mushrooms and grilled lobster tail.

Short Ribs:
1. Rub outside of meat with a wee bit of Olive Oil
2. Season with Season All and Steak Rub from Mozambique
3. Grill to taste. I like things well done!

Lobster Tail:
1. squeeze about a tablespoon of fresh lemon onto the meat side of the lobster tail
2. season with a bit of salt, garlic and rosemary
3. Grill for about 8-10 minutes
4. Serve with a garlic butter dipping sauce

I did not make dessert. This is a triple chocolate mousse from Bristol Farms.

This was a dark chocolate mousse, also from Bristol Farms.

My first post

So let's get to know me. I'm Stacey. I own a business, I'm married and I have daughter who will be four in a month! I love food. I remember the very first thing I made all by myself...Stove Top Stuffing. Really, who messes up Stove Top? Well, me...but in my defense I was in like 4th Grade. I could barely see the top of the pot on the stove. We live in Orange County. I'm the furthest thing from a "Real Housewife" that you can get (although I must admit, I LOVE the show). So here is a picture of my cute little family. The pic is a little old, but it's rare that one of us isn't actually taking the picture.