from Dallas…

Last year, I fell in love with Texas when I was in Dallas.  We were out for lunch during an A&M v. Oklahoma game and the passion for college football was incredible.  Everyone was in their apparel, and the sports bars were going crazy.  We got a lot of stares because everyone was in their respective colors, and here we are, these oblivious Californians hanging out in regular clothes!  And thennnnn I couldn’t have been happier when country music was playing in the restaurants and bars.  Not to mention making friends and enjoying plenty rounds of margaritas…

Now I’m back!  I have been in Texas for a few days for my training at Deloitte University and it is HOT and I love it!!!  I just love the heat.  Ever since I moved from Northern California to Southern California, I have become a complete wuss.  I shiver in 60 degree weather!  God forbid I ever spend a winter on the East Coast.

Anyways, training has been going well.  This place is insane; it’s a 100-star resort.  The building and interior decor is brand new and beautiful, people are always opening the doors and tending to you, there are gourmet buffets every meal, free Starbucks, and free snacks everywhere!

Entrance to DU
Lake in the back
Back patios

My room…. small bed, right?

Crazy, right???!  There’s a pretty nice gym and even a running loop around the ‘campus’.  And yes, along the trail, you run by some cows.  It’s pretty darn awesome.

And of course the food. AMAZING. It’s ridiculous.  Everything they make is pretty much gourmet.  For example, breakfast they have cage free eggs, bacon, fresh tomato and cheddar flat bread, Mexican Chorizo  Breakfast Taco, Whole Grain Flax Seed Pancakes, and Ginger Pumpkin Pancakes.  They also have fresh fruit in massive quantities.  And I’m talking about strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries sitting in huge buckets.  If only I had the guts to take the pictures in the Market, you could see the buckets, but I got a to-go box of them every meal.

Some of the lunch options are Roasted Corn and Frisee Salad with Achiote Lime Vinaigrette, Vegetarian Meatballs with a Red Lentil Ragout, Bison Meatloaf with Cranberry Gastique, Slow Roasted Lamb with Garlic Tzatziki.

Some dinner options are Slow Roasted Prime Rib of Beef, Butternut Squash Gratin, Chicken Tikki Masala, Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish and olive oil, Mussels in basil curry, Shrimp Ceviche .

Not bad, right??! Imagine walking around an entire market with food like that.  Second helpings? Definitely.  Thirds? Most likely yes.  It’s dangerous!

Chilean seabass, curries, mussels, chard, indian veggie dishes

Cioppino, Vegetable Ragout, grilled artichokes

Seafood plate.  Check out the claws, they are already half cut for you….

Unfortunately we are a little far from Downtown Dallas, and didn’t spend time out there, but after training, I am going on a little road trip with my friend Kelsey to AUSTIN!!!!  I finally get to see Austin, and I can’t wait!  More to come from there!

Watermelon Mint Salad

Summer is almost here which means so many delicious fruits come into season.  I can’t resist those dark, plump cherries at the farmer’s market or a juicy watermelon on a hot summer day! Yummmm…

How to pick out a watermelon:

  • Shape: Pick one that is symmetrical.  If it is lopsided or narrow on one end, it might have grown in a tight area and possibly have been restricted from water.
  • Color: Try to pick one that is a deeper green and one that is not pale
  • Field spot:  This is a large splotch of creamy-to-yellow, where the melon sat on the ground.  The deeper the color, the longer the melon was on the vine, maturing and producing sugar. Avoid white or pale green field spots.
  • Weight: Get one that is heavier for it’s size.  This indicates that it is full of juice!!

In April, I went to my friend’s Easter family lunch and had a watermelon mint salad that was so delicious and refreshing!  We later found out it was a version of Paula Deen’s recipe.  Much to my surprise, the recipe was still quite healthy!

Over the weekend, my friends and I recreated this salad for one of the party appetizers and it was just great.  It was so simple and quick to make… I highly recommend this recipe to bring to a party or barbecue.  My apologies for the pictures… I had to use my phone!

Watermelon Mint Salad
1 5 lb watermelon
1 sweet onion (cut in rings)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
4 oz feta cheese

Directions
1.  Chop the watermelon into chunks

2. Add the onions, vinegar, oil, mint and feta cheese

3.  Toss and serve!  It’s that simple!

And while you are eating this delicious salad, know that you are getting these benefits!
 
Benefits of Watermelon

  • It is about 92% water which helps hydrate the body
  • It is low in calories, sodium and fat!
  • High in Vitamins A (eye health), C (immunity and cell damage), and B6 (brain functions and energy)
  • Holds the highest concentration of lycopene than any other fruit/vegetable.  This antioxidant helps in heart disease and preventing certain types of cancers
  • Source of potassium: helps in muscle and nerve function, and maintains electrolyte balance

Pizza Pizza!

I love love love making pizza!  Especially with Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough that gets sooooo crispy in the oven!

For awhile, I have wanted to cook eggs on pizza and I finally got the chance to!  My friends and I had a fun roommate dinner date, where we all cooked various things.  My friend AND roommate both claim they are terrible cooks but everything they make always tastes great! πŸ™‚  We all contributed and it was delicious.

I love making pizza because I get to be creative and put whatever I want on it.  Plus, I get to control how much cheese is on it! πŸ™‚  My favorite is to load my pizza with broccoli, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and basil.  This time, we used a combination of arugula, spinach, tomatoes, goat cheese and eggs.

Basil Base
Arugula and Spinach

We found it best to cook the pizzas until they were almost done, then crack the eggs, and cook them for another 7-9 minutes.

cracking the eggs
Cooked Pizza #1
Pizza #2!  So crispy πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

This pizza was so good.  I think eggs have become a staple topping on my pizzas!  With all these ingredients, we had whole grains, veggies and protein… healthy right?  Check out the delicious feast we had!

Arugula and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Prune and Walnuts with goat cheese and strawbs πŸ™‚ 
Garbanzo Bean Salad 
Chow down!

Couscous Patties

Lehka Hlava’s couscous patties

In Prague, I had one of the top 10 best meals of my life.  Yes, it’s a bold statement, but yes, it is true.  Unfortunately the service was not the best, but the FOOD was unreal.  We ate at Lehka Hlava, a vegetarian restaurant in Prague.  I started my lunch with eggplant tartare which came with arugula and delicious nutty, seeded bread.

My main course was couscous patties with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and celery, served on a bed of lettuce and with a spicy soy dip.  And of course, I accompanied this scrumptuous meal with a nice cabernet.

I couldn’t wait to try to recreate this meal.  The eggplant tartare will come soon, but I attempted to make couscous patties.  I used different ingredients than  Lehka Hlava’s, but I did a version of my own with the ingredients I had.

Whole Wheat Couscous Patties
Makes 10 medium sized patties
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup water
1/2 large eggplant
3-4 small bell peppers
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp cumin
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp basil
6 tsp plain greek nonfat yogurt

cute baby peppers!

Directions
1.  Place the couscous in a bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water. Close the lid and let it sit aside for about 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

2. In a skillet, add 1 tsp of oil and fry the eggplant until soft and golden. Place aside

3. Use 1 tsp oil to cook the onions and peppers.  Cooking them separately helps them cook properly

4. In a big bowl, combine the couscous, eggplant, onions, peppers.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it up well!

5.  Shape them into patties and refrigerate for 15 minutes

6.  Since all the ingredients are already cooked, you can eat them as is, or you can bake them for a little to give them a little crisp.  (I baked them at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes)

There were a lot of patties so I individually wrapped a few in plastic wrap to save for lunch!  Also, I recommend adding more spices, onions and perhaps using non-greek yogurt.  I think they would have been a little less dry.  But I served them to my friends with a few dips from the local farmer’s market, and it was delicious!

A Taste of Spain and Prague

I am home from a fantastic trip to Spain and Prague. I am still riding the high of gracious amounts of tapas, sangria and wine!  Each day consisted of, β€œWhat are we doing for lunch?”  And then right after lunch, β€œOkay…. What should we do until dinner?”  Needless to say, we did not skimp on the food aspect.
The trip was amazing!  I got to hang out with two of my friends sisters, see the sights, hang out with locals, and drink and eat some of the most delicious food.
One of my favorite parts about Spain was the tapas.  We ate almost every meal family-style, which enabled us to try anything and everything.  And I’ll tell you, we got pretty adventurous with some of our meals!  I want to try to recreate some of the dishes, so keep posted for those recipes.
Here is our vacation in (food) pictures! πŸ™‚
We loved this restaurant, Divinus, that had the most monstrous montaditos!  My favorite was this one on the left, smoked salmon with shrimp, for only 2E!
Delicious display of montaditos… this one is the tortilla espanol (tortilla made with potatoes)
Skewered pork and shrimp at Cerveceria Catalana

Calamari
Grilled Cuttlefish.  I was scared to eat this at first, but it ended up being one of my favorites of the whole trip!
Of course, Bev’s staple of french fries with eggs and jamon!
Roasted pepper with cod puree
Only HALF of our meal at Los Coloniales in Sevilla.  The Salmorejo soup was one of my favorites.  I am definitely going to try to make this!  It is a cold, creamy tomato soup, which was very refreshing on the hot Sevilla days!
Chocolate con churros!  And sangria and beer… of course
Potatas Bravas, a Catalonian staple

More potatas bravas…

Gambas!
Too much?  Too little?  You can be the judge!
Boquerones fritos… fried anchovies!  You can eat the WHOLE thing, including the spine.  It was interesting, but if you didn’t think about it, you couldn’t tell! Haha
Ensalada de Pimientos
Espetos… these are sardines that have been roasted on spits and barbecued, which we ate at Chiringuito Maria, in Malaga, right on the beach!
Another Barcelona favorite… eggs served over french fries, mashed all together right in front of you!

Now onto the food in Prague.  The typical Czech food is quite heavy and very protein based.  I am not a huge meat eater, but I found it pretty good, especially the braised pork knee and of course the roast duck.  Surprisingly, there were restaurants of all types… Thai, Indian, Italian, Vegetarian and even Vegan places!

Beef Goulash soup

Braised Pork Knee… definitely one of the most delicious things of the trip!
 
Pork Knuckle
We ate at a vegetarian place recommended by one of my friends, Lehka Hlava.  This food was one of the BEST I have ever had.  I was in pure bliss while eating.  This was the Eggplant Tartare, which I have added to my recipe list.

This brown seeded bread, was simply amazing.  I didn’t even bother with that white one.  This was dense and nutty and seedy and just phenomenal.

Couscous patties were cooked perfectly.  So much flavor and not dry at all!  I want to try to make these too.
I later found that bread at a small market πŸ™‚  Now I can look up how to make it!
Cheers to a fabulous and delicious vacation!