Monday, February 28, 2011


Thou shall not lie...yah, I'm pretty dang sure that's one of those rules you should live by.  Nobody likes to have their integrity questioned, but mine unfortunately was this past weekend when I took my husband to Lemongrass for his first time.

You see, I have dined at this Thai restaurant in Olympia, WA on five different occasions.  Each time, Lemongrass has had it's pros (nice bathroom sink...yes, I just said nice bathroom sink, and excellent entree selections) and cons (sketchy service, dirty tables), but the food was generally quite delicious and I have been telling my husband I'd take him there for months.

My first experience was wonderful.  Beautiful Asian art decorated the main dining area.  The other dining room made me laugh a little. It reminded me of a Chinese disco with purple florescent lights that sent the bar a-glowing.  Gam-bei!!  I, along with several other friends ordered a variety of entrees such as the Honey Walnut Prawns, Lemongrass Chicken and Coconut Chicken.  Prices generally range from $10-$15.  You are able to order your dish using the spice-o-meter on the back of their menu.  Mild to Thai hot. I like spice (cause that's how I roll) so I decided to order mine hot.  I personally fell in love with the creamy, dreaminess of the Coconut Chicken and was amazed at how much I was able to steal off my friend's plate before she noticed. The chicken, which had a nice grilled flavor, and the veggies were cooked in a delicate coconut sauce.  The Lemongrass chicken had a bold zing to it, but the chicken was a definitely overcooked.  The Honey Walnut Prawns were a surprise for me.  I generally do not like shrimp.  I may have been scarred for life when I witnessed my husband throw back about a dozen shrimp cocktails in Mexico one year.  Those poor lil' shrimpees!!  Regardless, even though I have an aversion to them, I actually really liked this entree and was very pleased with the texture of the prawns and the pleasing flavor of the sauce.

On other visits, I have had the Chieng Mai Chicken Salad, which was delightfully refreshing, the Almond Chicken, which was dry and tasteless, and the Pad Thai...ok I guess, for a plate full of noodles.

With so many relatively positive experiences at Lemongrass, you would think it would have been a safe bet to take my hubby there for his birthday.  I mean I have raved about this joint for months!  Unfortunately, we must have hit Lemongrass on an off day and my integrity went right out the window.  The Crab Wontons had hardly any filling to them and at $7.50 one would think they are getting more than a fried wonton.  I ordered the Coconut Chicken and it still is a solid dish in my book.  My husband ordered the Lemongrass Garden with beef.  This dish was a real let down.  The beef was tough and over cooked.  Beef jerky anyone?  The spice (hot) was just right, but unfortunately the amount of savory flavors did not make up for the sweetness of the canned pineapple used.  It was prevalent through the dish and killed the sauce.

I still really like Lemongrass and will continue to dine there, but I cannot stress the importance of  a restaurant providing consistent positive dining experiences.  It only takes 2 or 3 negative ones to turn a customer away.  Luckily my husband said he'll give it one more shot because he trusts my judgment and doesn't completely think I'm a big fat liar.  That's love baby!  Give Lemongrass a shot and hope you catch them on a delicious day!!
Lemon Grass Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A conquering we will go!

 While driving home from doing some errands this evening, I had my charming lil' kiddos screaming singing in the back of the car and I just happened to pass an IHOP.  I had a strange overwhelming urge to pull on over and say, "This is it kids.  Dinner is served!"  I was NOT in the mood to cook this evening.  Needless to say, I resisted...I fought back, and conquered dinner tonight.  I did, however, use IHOP as my culinary inspiration.  Fancy, I know.

German Pancakes

6 eggs or 1 1/2 cup egg subsitute
1 cup milk
1 cup flour (I have used whole wheat on these and actually like it.  Comes out really dense.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Lightly spray a 13x9 pan with non stick cooking spray (you could use 2 Tbsp melted butter, but don't.  It's just more fat and calories.)  Pour batter into pan and cook uncovered for 20 mins.

While your pancakes are baking you can whip up this scrumptious syrup.

Buttermilk syrup

1 1/2 cup sugar (you could even cut the sugar to 1 cup.)
3/4 cup buttermilk (easy sub for buttermilk: 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar OR lemon juice= 1 cup "buttermilk")
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
Told ya I was fancy.  Paper plate and all!

Combine first 5 ingredients in saucepan.  Bring to boil.  Boil 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Dinner was easy, kids were happy and I saved 20 buck-a-roos.  Sorry IHOP...I win!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Intimidated? I think not!

I have discovered that some people are intimidated by thought of  cooking an ethnic meal.  I was!!  I remember the first time I tried to make falafels for my family.  They ended up more like something you would take with you skeet shooting than a crispy little patty of love.   PULL!
Intimidated or not, it's fun to step out of your comfort food zone.  You can learn so much about one's culture by experiencing their native cuisine, or at least the flavors.   When it comes to preparing foods that you may not be familiar with, S.O.S....Start out simple.  Here is a delicious, but simple Indian stew recipe that will tantalize your tastebuds.  It also provides a great source of protein.  Perfect post workout!

Indian Chicken Stew

2 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 tsp. curry powder....don't be intimidated!!
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (opt.)
2 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp.  lime juice
1  9-oz. package fresh spinach
   Hot cooked rice

Lightly coat your crockpot bowl with some non stick spray.  Add chicken, onion, and garlic.  Add all your spices and toss to coat.  Gently stir in drained beans, tomatoes, broth and bay leaf.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10.

After the stew is done cooking, hit it with the lime juice and stir in spinach leaves.  Let the heat from the stew wilt the spinach for about 2-3 minutes.  Make sure you remove your bay leaf and serve it up with rice.

Who's intimidated now?!  The wonderful spices create an inviting flavor.  The lime brings a amazing brightness to the stew, that in all honesty, will make your body thank you for treating it with such kindness.
Hope you enjoy!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Curry Corner

So as a kid I liked chicken...and a handful of vegetables...yep, that was about it. I was what some would call a "picky eater". My mom would say more like a pain in the neck, but all that changed when I started dating my husband. He LOVED crazy ethnic foods, so in my attempt to look like one of the most unbelievably exciting vixens to ever cross his path, I had to be bite at a time. As the different dinner dates passed, I found myself falling in love with, not only that most amazing man EVER, but with bold and adventurous cuisines. One of my favorites has become Indian food. About a year ago, at the prompting of a friend, my husband and I ventured out to try an Indian restaurant here in Lacey, WA. We have been obsessed with it's flavorful offerings ever since.

The Curry Corner is tucked away behind a gas station and rubs shoulders with a dry cleaners. Not where one would necessarily find a place that can legally sell fireworks for your palatte. As soon as you open the door you are smacked upside the head with an intoxicating aroma. That might be all one would need... a few sips of the spice infused air, but I highly encouraged you to pass the threshold and go sit down. The venue is small and cozy, with a portion of the restaurant set aside for retail of authentic Indian groceries. Although we have taken our children here before, I suggest you try to keep it a date night sort of thing. They have always been accommodating to children, but the dining area is petite and even the most well behaved little diners (which mine TOTALLY are. HA!!) could cause a bit of a distraction. The waiters are quiet, but polite and the food always arrives in a decent time frame.

Now the food. Oh my goodness, the food. During our most recent visit, I ordered the Lamb Polack and my husband opted for the Chicken Tikka Masala. Both entrees came with rice or naan (an Indian flat bread). I highly suggest you get both and maybe some extra naan. Do will thank me later. The naan was beautifully cooked in an authentic tandoor oven and the rice was a fragrant basmati with a hint of fennel seed.
When we received our plates, I think I might have cried a little. Yes, it smelled and looked that good. The lamb was tender and flavorful and the polack sauce was a vibrant spinach green that made my taste buds think they were in a Bollywood dance scene. Thank you Curry Corner for using fresh ingredients! The Chicken Tikka Masala, seriously melted in my mouth. The sauce was creamy and rich, but did not coat my tongue like some Indian food can. And the chicken was cooked to perfection. I'll admit, I was a bit brutal to my naan as I ripped it apart and drowned  it in the different sauces. My husband took a more civilized approach, and combined his entree with the precise amount of rice. Both were amazing...yes, that would be the right word. Amazing!

I love the way I felt coming out of this restaurant. Full, satisfied, and my honey next to me feeling (and smelling) the same way.  All of Kali's hands down, this is a place to experience!!

Curry Corner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Presenting...a delish-ush bowl of mush!!

Who doesn't have a favorite comfort food.  Something that, no matter how unappealing to another individual, can simply be love in a bowl to you.  Now, I'm not attempting to get all mushy on you...well, actually I kind of am.  See one of my absolute most cherished comfort food is California Pilaf.  Served up with a big bowl of salad my entire childhood, I don't think I truly comprehended the attachment I had to this recipe until I moved to WA.  After a being served up a plate of homesickness and a side of personal pity, I scavenged my recipe box for this tattered scrap of paper. The result was a delicious bowl of mushy goodness that warmed my soul and provided a taste of home.  I really couldn't care less if Tom Collichio would crucify me for my blob of starch.  It's good to me and who knows, maybe some of you actually will like it.  I've made a few changes to my mom's original recipe.  No offense Mom!!

California Pilaf

2 lbs ground turkey or lean hamburger
2 1/2 cups water
2- 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 gloves garlic, chopped
1 med onion, umm... you guessed it, chopped 
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2/3 cup olives, sliced
1 1/3 cup uncooked brown rice

Saute your onions and then add your meat.  Brown it up an then add all your ingredients to a crock pot.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3.

Yah, it's that easy.  I think sauteing the onions before putting them in helps ensure that they are cooked all the way through before your rice gets too soft.  You can also get creative and substitute salsa for some of the tomato sauce or throw in some green chilies.  It all ends up morphing into something wonderful.  Serve it up with some love and enjoy.
Now, what's YOUR comfort food?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Burger bust!

 Since Norma's burgers were such a let down for me, I went in search of one of my favorite hamburger recipes.  I'll admit, I am a sucker for anything with ginger in it so when I stumbled across the Hawaiian turkey burger on Our Best Bites, I was hooked.  I love this website because you can tell that all these recipes have been through the gauntlet.  These ladies have tried them out on their families and I say, if they can do it, so can I.  I've made a few modifications to their recipe that suit my palate.
And yes, I did say they were turkey, so yes, that does imply that they are a little better for you, but don't go eating two or three of them.  You may want to, trust me, but just savor what you have and try to soak in some sun while enjoying these babies.

Aloha Burgers

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
1/2 c. red or green bell pepper, minced (about 1/2 medium bell pepper)
1/2 c. thinly sliced green onion
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped ginger root
1 small can pineapple slices; reserve juice
1 sauce
 Teriyaki sauce 
Light mayo  (I like to make a Wasabi mayo by putting 1 tsp prepared wasabi in with a 1/2 cup of mayo.)
Whole wheat hamburger buns or extra lettuce to wrap it in.

This is easy...roll up your sleeves and mix together turkey, bread crumbs, bell pepper, green onion, ginger, soy sauce, and about a 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice.  I use less, but that's just me.  Make sure everything is good and incorporated and then shape your 4 beautiful patties.  Apologize now to your beauties cause it's time to slam 'em on the grill.  Baste burgers with the teriyaki sauce the last 2 mins of grilling and don't forget to grill your pineapple.  Trust me on this.  It makes ALL the difference.  Is anyone else salivating?
Oh my gosh, do those not look like a steamy lil' piece of heaven...wait, I'm sure heaven isn't real steamy.  Regardless, get your buns together and pile on the toppings of your choosing.  Red onions go great with these flavors!  I personally am not a big hamburger bun fan (big bun fan, yes...hee hee).  It just seems to get in the way of my meat and me, so I opt for wrapping mine in lettuce. 

So even though Norma's was not my favorite joint around, I'm glad I ate there so I could at least bust out some real burgers.  Hope y'all enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Norma's Burgers...

Every time I get on the freeway, this lil' joint calls to me, "Eat here!  Eat here!  I could be featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives!!"  It's got that vibe.  Run down little diner with the promise of GREAT food...or so one may think.
On entering the diner, my family and I stood  awkwardly  at the "Please Wait to be Seated" sign gazing into the sea of open tables.  When a waitress finally came to seat us, she gave us about 3 different options where to sit.  Lady, just sit us already!! We're hungry!  The decor was All-American.  I think if I would have let them know my shoes were made in China, I probably would have been strung up by my laces and been beaten until I was red, white and blue.  Trust me, I am as conservative as they come, but it was hard to swallow the shelves lined with Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter books.  I'll just make sure I don't invite my liberal friends next time.
The menu offered a large selection of hamburgers and sandwiches.  We had heard great things about the hamburgers, so my hubby decided to order Craig's Bacon and Egg Cheeseburger.  I was lured by the sweet song of the Reuben.  The call of crispy sauerkraut and succulent corned beef was just too overwhelming.  I had to give into temptation.  I did request ground mustard instead of the fatty 1000 Island dressing.  They were happy to make the substitution.  We both made ours a combo, which included fries and a drink (only one refill...lame-o.)
Food came quickly and was good and hot...a plus.  My Reuben...well, the saurkraut was delicious and the rye bread was still soft , but beautifully toasted.  The corned beef was way too thick and fatty and I could have used more mustard because the meat was so tough.  Chad, my dear husband, was kind enough to let me sample a bite or four of his hamburger.  The hamburger itself was dry and alsmost had the texture of gravel in my mouth.  The egg was cooked well and the bacon was the burger's saving grace.  Fries were...meh, ok.  They did have a good "fry sauce" that came with the greasy lil' goodies.
The prices were anywhere from $9-$12 for the combos.  Pretty out of control if you ask me, but we fortunately had a certificate with us, so it helped to alleviate some of the costs.
All in all, not impressed with Norma's.  Food was sub par and I left with the overwhelming urge to go watch Fox news and get angry at something.   To top it all off, I was completely taken back when I read on their menu that they will charge you $5 if your kids leave a messy table.  This was probably the nail in the coffin for Norma's.
Norma's on Urbanspoon

All in good taste...

So I have decided to switch things up a bit here on this blog.  I love food.  There is NO doubt about that.  Trying new flavors, experiencing culture, being adventurous, and, come on,  feeling the love through food is a passion of mine.  So this is what I'm going to do, whether anyone cares or not...I will be sharing my food experiences, be it through restaurant reviews, new recipes, or cool cooking techniques, on this blog.
One of my main goals is to find some decent grub in the area that I currently live, which is Olympia/Lacey, WA.  Now you'd think Olympia, being the WA capitol and all, would be teeming with great eateries.   Well, if it is, I may have stumbled on a few gems, but it's slim pickin's thus far.
I will try to post once a week on a place that my hubby and I or our family has dined at.  I will try to critique the atmosphere, service, pricing, and, of course, THE FOOD!  Good or bad, I'll let ya know.  I can be brutally honest when it comes to food, especially food that I'm paying good money for.  It may be a nice, swanky venue or heck, it may be Arby's.  Nice thing is, this is MY blog and I can serve up whatever I have!!
I also want to focus on how you can eat out and STILL make healthy choices.  NO this will not be a health or diet blog, but I do love having options when it comes to dining and appreciate restaurants that are willing to accommodate.
Lastly, I really do love to cook and experiment with food.  I will be posting recipes that I tried and love.  I probably won't have a bunch of glamorous pics or step by step instructions, but I figure smart people cook.  Y'all can figure it out!
Well, all that being said, I 'll apologize in advance if I offend anyone or the food they like.  I am an open person and willing to take criticism and give it when it is due.  I also love to extend abundant praise when I am impressed.  So...time to DIG IN!!