Monthly Archive: December 2012

Coffee & Tea

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Food related gifts are always my favorites.

Which is why I was so excited when my sister gave me The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread cookbook.  And my parents gave me an aerolatte.

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This may be an even easier way to get my coffee frothy!  I mean, I love my caffe froth, but the clean-up with the aerolatte makes it a million times faster.  And let’s be honest, what’s more annoying than an appliance that takes a year to clean (I’m looking at you juicer and food processor).

I started with my mug half full of almond milk.  Then I whizzed the aerolatte around in it for a while.  And boom, milk with foam!

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It gets bigger if you heat it in the microwave afterwards, so if you’re starting with cold milk, I recommend warming it a little before and then a little after.

Then I added my coffee and a drizzle of maple syrup, and voila!

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What a lovely way to start the day.

I can’t wait to try this with chai tea and milk.  Home-made chai lattes anyone?

Speaking of tea, this is my new favorite.

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I was worried I’d get addicted and never find it again (this was the only box on the shelf in Whole Foods when I stumbled across it randomly).  But Santa gave me another box in my stocking so I’m set for a while.

It’s hard for me to find decaf tea that I love because most of them are herbal and I don’t like chamomile or mint (which are in virtually every herbal tea).  I also don’t really like fruity teas because I usually want to make them milky (and milky fruit tea is just plain gross).  So this organic ginger tea was a huge find.

It’s not as spicy as you’d think (given the name of the tea) and it works when milk is added.  And I can drink it all day long without worrying about the caffeination issue.

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Hopefully my baby won’t come out addicted to java because I have been so cautious in how much I take in.  I wouldn’t mind if he was addicted to almond milk or ginger though.  We’d be quite the pair.

How to get CHO self to the store

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A day after we returned home from Nor Cal, this huge box arrived from Chobani!  CHO ho ho!  It’s like a never ending holiday season. :)

It was kinda the divine intervention needed to get my butt in gear, since we were still in the planning stages of weekly meals (aka we hadn’t yet been to the grocery store after a week out of town).

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Truth be told, I was not in the mood to cook or to go shopping for food or to plan out the weekly menu, but the fridge was in a dire state.  I did a really really good job of finishing off every single perishable item before we headed up to the Bay Area, so the meal options were either PB&J (minus the bread) or grains with soy sauce.  Neither are exactly appetite stimulating. 

We had a baby doctor appointment mid-day, but still avoided the grocery store.  Later in the afternoon we swung by Vons to pick up toilet paper, but still avoided the grocery store.  [Sensing a theme here?]

And then that Chobani package came…and I decided that dinner was going to be something with greek yogurt…and off to the store we went!

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Breaded Dijon Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 block of extra firm tofu (7 oz.), drained and pressed
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (I used the 0% Chobani)
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Press the tofu until there’s no more liquid coming out.  Slice into four slabs ~1 cm thick. 

In a small bowl combine greek yogurt & mustards.  In a separate bowl combine bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, and salt & pepper. 

One by one, dip each piece of tofu into the dijon sauce, covering it entirely, then place it in the bread crumb mixture, until it’s entirely coated.

Place on a baking sheet that’s either lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes (until breading is crispy and browned).

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Oven ready above; after being baked below. 

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I served the tofu alongside peas and brown rice. 

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Is it just me or does the plate look like a TV dinner?  Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of Mad Men…next thing you know I’ll be serving up fish sticks. 

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Yum!

La Boulange in Lafayette

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Here’s the festive Christmas scene at La Boulange in Lafayette. 

They have several stores, actually, all across the Bay Area – including several in SF and Marin. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, the place reminds me of LPQ.  They both give off the casual European bakery vibe, while making your tongue wag at the display case of delicious pastries. 

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Oh, and if you want a bowl of coffee the size of your face, La Boulange is where’s it’s at!!  I will definitely be going back once I’m back on the java train. 

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Instead I got Mighty Leaf tea.  You can see the rest of the assorted goodies at the table (before our main meals arrived).  Breakfast quiches, croissants, cinnamon rolls, and lots of spreads (apricot & plum preserves, plus nutella).

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For this monstrous basket.

Holy carbs!  I was in heaven.  I had a piece of the sweet breakfast roll (apple, apricot & hazelnuts) and one of the savory roll (scallions and herbs), and then a slice of sourdough.  Combined with the lovely spreads, it was like a feast of wheat (glorious wheat!!).

And just look at what I still had to take home!

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I had two more pieces with Earth Balance back at the casa.

I’m sorry Millie’s, but you’ve been replaced by a new L-town favorite.  From now on, brunch dates in my home town will be at La Boulange.

Home for the Holidays behind the scenes

I was going to call this sights unseen, but I took photos, so obviously it CAN be seen!

Here are a few things that didn’t quite deserve a spot in the two-a-day challenge, but were still worth sharing.

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Snack of vegan and gluten free champs. 

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Mary’s Gone Crackers and Daiya cheddar wedge.

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Runner up snack: La Boulange bread with avocado and salt.

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Dad showing his Sabra love. 

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Balsamic Brussels (for the Christmas Eve caroling party).

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My parents’ freezer (aka proof of where I get my OCD tendencies and caffeine addiction).  They’re Peet’s devotees, particularly for major dickason’s blend.

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Crunchmaster multi-grain crackers.  My latest GF addiction.  They are light and salty and terrific.  They kinda remind me of Asian rice crackers due to the sesame. 

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My taco night creation (but multiply this plate times two).

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Granola and fruit.  Nothing fancy about that.

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Waiting for Santa.

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Must. Find. In LA.  ASAP.

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Kona and Milo in identical poses.  Synchronized doggy naps.

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Hideously lit CBQ burger and OCC’s vegan tofu option.

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Here’s a better shot of the leftovers.  So good. :)

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Mia (during a rare moment of not begging for food).  She’s like a dog. 

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Savory oats with avo, eggs, and nooch.  The only breakfast I ate at the house (we had brunch dates for five of the six days we were in Nor Cal!).  Sheesh!

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Speaking of brunch dates…here’s a shot of Elaine and Cooper!  Love that little dude.  He and my little hippie babe are going to be best buds. 

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Grandpa’s holiday pants.  Classic.

Sasa in Walnut Creek

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I mentioned in this post that I went to Sasa for dinner with my family while home for the holidays.  As you can see from the menu above (or clicking on the restaurant the link), their food concept is Asian Fusion with small plates to share.  I love small plate menus because then you get to order a ton of things so you wind up sampling a lot.  And trust me, this menu had plenty I was eyeing.

In fact, the food was so freakin’ good, as a food blogger, I felt it wasn’t cool glossing over it during my two-a-day challenge.  So here’s the full story (with more than two photos).

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Edamame to start.  Standard.  Please note Kyle’s big frosty Sapporo next to it (so jealous I can hardly deal!).

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On the left: my dad’s regular miso soup; on the right: my mushroom miso soup.  I tried both (because his came first and I thought it was my mushroom one due to the obvious and confusing presence of mushrooms).  His was better as it had tofu and seaweed, whereas mine was plain with just mushrooms.  Oddly mine was smaller and cost more.  So to anyone dining at Sasa, order the plain miso.

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This was the Rainbow Cauliflower Tempura which was seasoned with togarashi and nori salt and had a parmesan lemon aioli on the side.  I didn’t try the aioli, but the cauli was awesome.  Not too heavy or greasy, but still crispy and fried.  I think it’s pretty common to like tempura anything (which I do).

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Neither Kyle nor I tried these Ginger Chicken Meatballs with teriyaki sauce, but the rest of my family seemed to enjoy them.  When I go back I want to try the veggie skewer option of sweet potatoes with a sweet sesame glaze (doesn’t that sound awesome?).

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Everyone pretty much agreed that these Roasted Asian Squash Dumplings were the highlight of the meal.  They were so so good.  Warm and oozing with flavorful squash while delicate and crispy on the outside.  They came with crispy fried sage, balsamic-brown butter sauce, and hazelnuts.  I probably could have eaten four plates of these myself.

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This California Roll was the only sushi we got all night and I didn’t even try it (I did steal some of the ginger though) because it came at the same time as the dish below.

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This is the Crispy Tofu Steak which was topped in seaweed, a three mushroom tamari sauce and truffle oil.  The best part was the outside of the tofu (which wasn’t a firm fried shell as the name of the dish implies but rather a kind of chewy coating).  Paired with the sauce and the seaweed it was quite good.  The inside of the tofu was kind of bland and basically just tasted like tofu (I didn’t mind it because I like the flavor of tofu, but it certainly didn’t wow us).

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My dad and Kyle split these Tempura Prawns Lettuce Wraps.  The battered prawns were accompanied by veggies, candied walnuts, and honey-miso aioli.  My dad said there was too much aioli and Kyle (of course) removed the cucumbers with surgeon-like precision, but other than that they devoured them.

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This Pan Roasted Salmon with celery root puree, crispy spinach, and soy-thyme butter sauce was the runner up of favorite dish.  It was larger and heartier, so we all got a sizable piece of fish and the celery root puree was all but licked clean.  I especially loved the crispy spinach.

Sasa really impressed us with their attentive service (nobody’s water glass was ever below 50% full) and diverse menu.  There are still several items that I want to try, so I anticipate going back next time I’m home.  They also have a sushi bar (and entire sushi menu that we basically ignored) and big screen TVs in the front room (where we watched the 49ers lose, boo).

The only teeny tiny critique we had was that we often needed more than chopsticks to split various dishes (so perhaps they should offer a spoon or knife to larger groups with certain plates).  Otherwise it was a lovely evening and we all left content.