what’s cookin? spinach edition

Thanks for the kind feedback on my last post. Sometimes I feel like such a child when things like that happen and I get so upset, but writing them out really helps calm me down, so there that is. And maybe I am a child. So what.

Remember the Great Cookbook Challenge? Well..I keep forgetting to restart that. I will one day, but I think I’ll always prefer online recipes. I love seeing a photo of the finished dish. Even if mine doesn’t look like it (nor do I necessarily aspire to), I need to see a picture to see if it looks worth my time.

A few things I’ve made recently:

Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Alfredo

I love italian sausage. It is probably my favorite meat. I would eat it 2-3 times a week if I could. Keith is not a huge fan, but I can sneak it in 1-2 times a month. I hadn’t made it in a while, so when I came across this recipe, I was sold.

It combines pureed roasted red peppers, pasta, spinach, sausage and goat cheese to make a creamy and super flavorful pasta.  We don’t eat pasta too often, so when I do eat it, it has to be worth my while and this definitely was.

alf

If you don’t like goat cheese or are not familiar with it, I think this would be a great starter recipe because it’s not very in-your-face. I didn’t even tell Keith there was goat chese and he probably had no idea. You could also definitely leave out the sausage for a vegetarian version.

The best part is it is all made in one pot!

The second best part is I finally have a use for the rest of the goat cheese when I make another favorite dish:

Chicken apple burgers with cranberry and goat cheese.

These are based off a burger Keith and I had in NYC many moons ago, sometimes I will go all out and shred a granny smith apple, mix into ground chicken, make burgers, top with sliced granny smith apple, cranberry jam* and goat cheese. Other times I totally cheat and buy Johnsonville Chicken Apple Sausage and put those on a bun with the apple/cran/goat cheese. They are a super delicious and quick meal. It probably only takes 10 minutes total when I use the sausage. The problem is, you only use a little bit of goat cheese and then the rest of the tube lingers in the fridge until I become afraid of it and have to throw it away.

This recipe solves that! It calls for 8oz of goat cheese but I used the partial tube in my fridge and it was still great! So now those are going to be two back-to-back recipes in my arsenal. Love when stuff works out like that.

The only critque from Keith about that pasta was that it needed more meat. Of course. Every recipe I make I usually add 50% more meat for him and it’s still not enough. I got about 6 servings from this, so on the 2nd and 3rd go-rounds for Keith, I just gave him less pasta with a piece of chicken on the side and he was happy.

Another recipe I’ve tried is these Spinach Enchiladas.

One morning, on a mad dash to the grocery store for lunch, I grabbed Amy’s Enchilada Verde. It wasn’t until I went to heat it up that day that I realized that they were spinach enchiladas, but I shrugged and soldiered on. AND THEY WERE SO GOOD. I have no idea what they do, maybe it’s the queso fresco, but I like spinach well enough and I love cheese, but somehow this combination is SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. Sorry to yell, they are just that delicious.

But at $5 a pop, a little too expensive for my tastes, so I figured I would try my hand at making some. I googled til I dropped trying to find some sort of copycat recipe, with no luck. Finally I just settled on the above linked recipe. It calls for ricotta, which Amy’s enchiladas don’t have…but I love ricotta, so I went with it.

I subbed verde salsa for the enchilada sauce, regular onion for green onion and only used half the cheese. I only got 6 enchiladas out of the filling. They were not *quite* Amy’s, but they were still great. Keith didn’t eat these, I took them all for lunch. I think next time I will add more spinach, and maybe some chicken. Also queso fresco to see if I can get closer to that taste.

What are you cooking?

 *I still don’t know the difference between jelly and jam but I said jam so you know it’s not a gross can of cranberry jelly, but rather something spreadable from a glass jar. The original burger used cranberry spread but I’ve used cranberry/raspberry spread as well as black raspberry. I don’t think anything super sweet like grape or strawberry would work but anything tart like raspberry/cranberry is great.

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restaurant review: hibachi j sushi grill

Keith and I go out to eat pretty often. Once a week or so. That’s probably not “often” in relation to some, but we never went out to eat growing up*, so once a week is often to me!

We were on a streak of getting sushi on Saturdays but haven’t gone in a while, so last Friday Keith suggested we try a new(er) place near us – Hibachi J Sushi Grill.

We have lived in Gibsonia for ~4 years now and this place has been at least 3 different things…all Chinese/Japanese. I’m not sure if they keep changing owners or if they are just trying different things, but this latest iteration opened a few months back. I was actually sitting in a parking lot taping up a box for UPS when a lady tucked a flyer under my windshield wiper. We’re not huge into buffets and already have a go-to sushi place, so it never piqued my interest until Keith brought it up.

When we walked in, there was a sign stating that they no longer served sushi. Okaaay, hibachi it is.

Now it’s not your normal hibachi set-up with grills in the middle…it’s the suburban strip-mall hibachi where they just make it and bring it out to you and you have to trust that they made the onion volcano and the flying shrimp for their own amusement.

What sets this place apart from others is it’s all you can eat. All you can eat appetizers and hibachi, I think it was $8.50 for lunch and $10.50 for dinner.

When you are seated, you are presented with a small paper menu. It lists the appetizers (crab rangoon, fried oysters, gyoza, salad, miso soup, clear soup, spring rolls) as well as the starch options for the hibachi (white rice, brown rice, fried rice, hibachi noodles, udon noodles).

The cool part about the appetizers were that you could order as few or as many as you wanted and our waitress kept reminding us if we decided we wanted more, we just had to ask. Which was pretty great. I LOVE crab rangoon, but Keith hates it, so I can never order it because I can’t eat 6 pieces of it. Here I can order 2 for myself and go to town. We also got fried oysters, which I don’t care for…but since it’s included in the cost, Keith can have as many as he wants.

For your hibachi, you pick your rice/noodle and circle it on your paper. Then you head up to what used to be a buffet. There are all your meat options. They had chicken, shrimp, scallops (I think), calamari, (fake) crab, maybe some sort of beef/steak I can’t remember.

You grab a bowl and fill her up. Then you head over to the veggies, fill up on whatever you want (they had quite a selection, much more than the standard onion/zucchini/mushroom of most hibachi places). Then you add a sauce in a little ramekin (again, great selection from spicy to plain). Then you hand your bowl off, go sit down and less than 5 minutes later they bring you your plate!

photo

And again, this is all you can eat, so you can go up as many times as you want. Keith and I only ate one plate, but Keith is very excited to go back once he is gaining weight again because he knows he could do some real damage. For 10 bucks!

When we were there it was only us and another table, but the food was great, service was great, it was a super fast and super cheap meal! I get why they ditched the sushi…if business is slow, it wouldn’t be cost effective..but like I said, we’ve got a sushi joint, it’s nice to have a hibachi joint.

And I can forgo the theatrics if it means I get my meal in 5 minutes as opposed to 25.

A+ Hibachi J. I will be back.

Hibachi J Sushi Grill on Urbanspoon

*Minus the occasional trip to Hoss’s with my grandparents.

meatza

On Saturday, I made a meatza. Keith and I have both completely overhauled our diets in the past few years. We both love carbs but have gotten more and more serious about cutting back on them. I still cheat way more often than he does but the thing I miss the most is pizza. I will have it every once in a while but we don’t order it like we used to. I came across a post about *meatza* on reddit and was both kind of grossed out and kind of intrigued.

The premise is that it is a pizza…with a meat crust. Haha, just typing that out is kind of gross. I ran it by Keith and he was into it, so I went for it, following this “recipe.”

meatza

It wasn’t until halfway through adding the sausage to the top I realized how ridiculous that was, but it was already cooked so I threw it on.

I had mixed feelings on it. It didn’t taste like pizza, but it was about 70% as satisfying. (Add enough cheese to anything and it will satisfy me.) Both Keith and I had wished that there were more veggies or something on top. After we finished, I did feel a little queasy for a while from eating so much meat.

Keith ate it for lunch the next day and the last half-piece for dinner, so he said he’s not going to want it any time soon, haha. I couldn’t even think of eating it for lunch the next day, so he has a stronger stomach than I.

For lunch on Sunday I had some roast zucchini/potato/onion concoction with an egg on top to offset all that meat.

zucch

I think if I were to make it again (some day…far down the line) I would use something other than ground turkey. Even all doctored up, it was still a little bland. I would also try to make it thinner, which is tough since it shrinks up in the oven. If you think of it like a bun-less pizza burger it is a bit more appealing, haha.