Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Our Pat's are in the SuperBowl this weekend, so we need some yummy treats to sustain us through all of our shouting at the T.V. screen!  Enter one of my guilty pleasures when working from home...having The Martha Stewart Show on in the background.  I was lucky enough to have it on recently when Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop were on with this recipe for Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.  Now to be clear, I LOVE buffalo chicken wings.  Love them. But, I almost never eat them since they're not exactly healthy...which is why I love these, now I can get that buffalo chicken wing experience I love more often!  They're certainly a healthier take on buffalo chicken wings but still just as delicious and easier to eat.  Don't get me wrong...they still have butter in the sauce and you want a good blue cheese dressing to dip them in but it's certainly an improvement! And most importantly, boy are they tasty!  These will likely be my go to spicy buffalo dish for a while, which makes Christian happy since he loves them as well!
Weekly Menu: January 29 – February 4, 2012
Sunday: Mushroom, Onion & Gruyere Quiche with Sweet Potato Homefries (DIY)
Monday: Steamed Black Cod with Soy-Chili Sauce, Bok Choy & Rice
Tuesday: Leftovers: Quiche
Wednesday: Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette
Thursday: Christian's Posole Soup
Friday: Leftovers: Orecchiette
Saturday: Leftovers: Posole
It's been a while since we've had quiche and I have some leftover pie dough in the freezer from the holidays so we thought it would make a nice easy Sunday meal.  There are lots of quiche recipes out one recommendation when looking for one is to pick one that uses heavy cream in it.  Yes, I know...not as healthy but I really think it makes for the best quiche.  The beauty of quiche is that you can really put whatever you want into it so the options are endless. We'll go with sauteéd mixed mushrooms, onion and gruyere this time.

Our sweet potato homefries are an old standby...we partially bake the potatoes first so they're soft, but still hold their structure when you cut them up into cubes.  Then we sauteé some onions in a bit of butter and oil, add the potatoes with some salt, pepper and rosemary and let them cook for about 10 minutes without stirring.  Then check to see if they're getting crispy on the bottom, if so, they're ready to stir so you can get them crispy on the other sides.  Leave alone again until crispy on the bottom, etc... Keep doing this until they're crispy enough on all sides for you....adding more butter/oil as needed.  In total it usually takes ours about 30 minutes once we start sauteing.

We had one extra meal planned than we actually needed last week (I forgot I had a board meeting & Christian had dinner plans with a friend) so we're making the fish dish from last week this week instead.  The rest of the week finishes off with two of our absolute favorite dishes that you see on our menus quite often.  Broccoli Rabe Orecchietti and Christian's Posole Soup.   Yummm-mmy!
Noodle Theory

I can't believe I haven't written about Noodle Theory yet.  I almost cried when the one in my neighborhood went out of business and now I have a hard time eating anywhere else when I find myself near the one location in Rockridge.  So to be clear, I LOVE Noodle Theory.  I think my love is two-fold.  First and foremost, I am kind of obsessed with noodles, especially when served in a soup.  I crave them at least weekly...particularly Udon, but really any noodle with an Asian-inspired broth will do.  Second, I don't like to feel guilty about my noodles.  So greasy noodles with poor quality meat or barely identifieable vegetables just won't do.  I like my noodles to be dressed up with high-class, respectable ingredients.

You would think in a city like San Francisco with such an deep Asian history and influence, noodles like this would be pretty easy to find.  But I tell you, that just isn't true.  I still haven't found a go-to place since the Noodle Theory in the Marina closed!  So my noodle craving often goes unsatisfied...unless I make them myself which still just isn't the same.
Weekly Menu: January 22-28, 2012
Sunday: Order in Pizza for the Playoffs!
Monday: Steamed Black Cod with Soy-Chile Sauce, Bok Choy & Rice
Tuesday: Grilled Sirloin Steak, Baked Sweet Potato & Sauteed Spinach with Garlic & Chili Flakes
Wednesday: Leftovers: Steak turned into DIY Steak Tacos with Grilled Scallions & Avocado
Thursday: Slow Cooker Bean & Pasta Soup
Friday: Leftovers: Soup
Saturday: In Sacramento for our Nephew's birthday
Go Patriots! Our Pat's are in the Playoffs so Sunday is all about pizza and beer so we can focus on the games.  I say games, plural, because we do live in San Francisco after all, so while we are tried and true Pat's fans we're pretty excited for the 49ers as well.  It would be amazing for this city and our household if those two teams made it into the SuperBowl...although let's be honest, all Pat's fans kind of want a re-match with the Giants. Our fish dish for Monday is Asian inspired and a new one for us.  We may not be able to find Black Cod (or want to pay for it) so we'll likely substitute another firm whitefish...Black Cod is also known as sablefish & butterfish if you're looking for it.  On Tuesday we're going to cook up another one of our Omaha Steaks that we got for Christmas...but we'll make it stretch for 2 meals to spread the red meat goodness out a bit.  Then to finish the week off, a nice vegetarian soup from my favorite Slow Cooker cookbook.  
Chimayo in Park City, UT

Ah, Sundance Film Festival! I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go last year for work and so I thought in honor of the 2012 Festival kicking off this week I'd share a bit about a restaurant we really enjoyed while there last year, Chimayo.  While I'm not necessarily a huge film buff I had so much fun...more than I ever thought I would.  So much so that I think I'd like to go back again in the future, on my own dime even, so I can bring Christian along as well!

If you've never been to Sundance, I strongly encourage you to check it out.  Honestly, I'm not really a huge film buff (I have pretty low entertainment standards...ask Christian!) but I had so much more fun than I ever thought I would.  The movies were great (and only like $25 a ticket...way less than I thought they would be), Park City is amazingly adorable and the people watching was fantastic.  I really wish that I had Christian with me since he's is so good at identifying celebrities and the town is just crawling with them, but I had a few star sightings of my own!  I even got a picture taken with two...cutie Adrian Grenier from Entourage and the legendary Harry Belafonte! But I digress...back to the restaurant.

Weekly Menu: January 15-21, 2012
Sunday: Ginger Pepper Salmon
Monday: Vegetarian Lasagna
Tuesday: Lentil Country Supper
Wednesday: Leftovers: Lasagna
Thursday: Leftovers: Lentil Country Supper
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Beef Udon Noodle Soup (DIY)
So, in theory this week is a healthy week...full of vegetarian dishes and seafood. In reality though, there is a bit of butter in the salmon dish and the lasagna is drowning in Alfredo sauce and cheese. Lentil country supper...über healthy though, I swear! We've made this salmon dish from our SF Chronicles cookbook before and it's really quite good. Some may think it covers up the flavor of the salmon too much, but we eat salmon a lot so we need a change every once in a while. The veggie lasagna is one of our favorites of Christian's it's soul satisfying food for us. A little piece of home. We started making Lentil Country Supper about 5 years it from a magazine, but no idea which to be honest. It's one of those dishes that is so stupidly simple but for some reason amazingly good in it's rustic flavors. We were addicted from the very first time we made it. For the DIY night, I typically dry toast about 1 tsp of chinese five-spice powder in a pot for 30 seconds and then add beef broth and a few slices of ginger and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, shred some carrots and cabbage and then slice up some good mushrooms. Add them to the broth along with 2-3 packages of udon noodles (you can find them in the produce section of your grocer...near the tofu) and cook according to the package. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle on some thinly sliced scallions and there you go...delicious and easy Asian-inspired soup!
Louis’ Lunch

Okay, so can I prove that this is the birthplace of the Hamburger Sandwich?  No.  But Louis' Lunch in New Haven, CT is confident enough in the claim that they put it right on their website and after trying these bad boys I'm not disputing it!  These are some damn tasty hamburgers.  Since I grew up watching my dad make hamburgers at home on the stove-top and throwing them between two slices of white bread slathered with mayo (seriously, so good!) I knew he would love checking this place out too, so last time I was home visiting in MA we took a drive down to CT to check it out.

This place has been around since 1895 and developed the hamburger sandwich back in the early 1900s in response to a customer in a rush who requested something that he could eat on the run.  Ground steak trimmings were thrown between two pieces of toast and the beginnings of hamburger history began!  It's exactly the type of place that I love, too.  Line out the door full of regulars, local workers on their lunch breaks, and of course the requisite tourist or two.  But really you get an immediate vibe that this is a locals place with the staff behind the counter chatting everyone up and calling them by name.  It's super small, but cozy and has a great atmosphere.  Grab a spot as soon as one opens up even if you're still waiting in line to place your order...especially if you can get one of the seats built into the wall, so cool.  

SG’s Favorite New Kitchen Gadgets!

I was a lucky girl during this holiday season...surrounded by family and good friends and healthy and prosperous enough to live a life that allows me to experiment with cooking and travel.  Maybe not quite full-time yet as I would like, but still, I know that I am indeed a lucky girl.  Another reason I'm lucky is because my family and friends know how much I love to cook so the gifts that I get tend to center around the kitchen.  Some women may hate getting household appliances for a present, but as long as it's for cooking and not cleaning I'm all in!

So this year, I got two items that I wanted to share.  Not because I'm promoting specific brands or getting anything at all from the manufacturers but because they honestly have made my life in the kitchen easier and more comfortable.  Both of which are extremely important!  The first was a gift from my mom and the second a gift from the fabulous hubby...

Chotto, a Japanese Izakaya, is a relative newcomer to the Marina food scene having been around for only a little over a year.  But if you haven't discovered this gem yet, you're missing out.  Traditionally, an izakaya is a Japanese drinking establishment with samplings of food and small bites to go along.  Order a dish here and there along the way while you drink until you've had your fill ....both the menu and service are set up at Chotto to fit this traditional izakaya experience perfectly, allowing you to linger and socialize while satisfying your hunger at intervals that suit your fancy.

So, first things first for an izakaya....the drinks.  As expected, Chotto has a great sake menu.  If you're new to sake, the sampler is a perfect way to start off.  They give you enough to share between two people if you want to use it as a way to decide which larger sake to order for the table.  One of our favorites though, is the cold unfiltered Ozeki Nigori...cloudy in apperance with a deliciously complex flavor.  Somewhat nutty while also a bit sweet with a slightly creamy finish.  Divine and pairs so well with all of their food, especially from the raw portion of the menu.  While we don't typically venture into the cocktail portion of the menu, friends always seem pleased with their unique concoctions...all either shochu (distilled liquor, similar in taste to vodka) or beer/wine based.