Mr. Tall and I have a usual rotation of convenient takeouts from pizza and Mexican to Greek and Indian. We got a good tip from Sam the Cooking Guy (Mr. Tall can attest that I turned embarrassingly red and was incredibly star-struck when we ran into him at a Ralph's) for the best place in San Diego for carnitas--Porkyland's. I'm not sure how many locations there are in the county but there happens to be one conveniently located in downtown La Jolla on Torrey Pines and Girard. Mr. Tall and I usually order the Family Meal (which is supposed to serve 3-4 but we usually polish most of it off, with some leftovers I take to work for lunch). The meal comes with a generous portion of carnitas (diced onions and cilantro as well) and sides of rice, beans and salsa of your choice (we like the salsa verde), and their homemade tortilla (your choice of corn or flour). Definitely a good deal and our favorite spot for a quick takeout.
My new favorite place for a quick dinner (or lunch) is Panera. Mr. Tall's parents had mentioned that they love the one in the Bay Area for their variety of paninis, soups and salads so we tried out the San Diego location in Mira Mesa. I don't remember what Mr. Tall got, but I ordered the combination of French Onion Soup, which was so tasty, panini and potato chips. What is so fantastic about Panera is that all their breads are baked in-house so they are absolutely fresh and delicious. I would try going there on the weekdays or weeknights because the complex tends to get very crowded on the weekend.
Although soup season is over since the cold weather seems to be disappearing, you can still enjoy chili--it's not soup, right? Mr. Tall and I enjoyed this light version of White Bean and Chicken Chili recipe that we found in one of his cookbooks. It was super quick and super delicious. We served it with some toasted bread and topped with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream--and Tapatio, for me, of course! I am quite fond of chili and this definitely hit the spot.
Not too long ago, while waiting for my tires to get rotated at UTC, I made a stop at one of my favorite places, Crate & Barrel. Mr. Tall knows well that nearly every time we go to the mall, we have to make a stop at C&B. Usually, I just like to browse the store, but this time I got lucky! My absolute favorite Food Network personality (right next to Tyler Florence) Giada DeLaurentis' Family Dinners cookbook was on sale so I decisively made the purchase. What I love about Giada's recipes is that they are so simple yet incredible tasty. Most of her recipes requires only a handful of ingredients and this cookbook was no different.
The first thing that Mr. Tall and I decided to make was Flank Steak with Red Wine Sauce. We got the steak from Bristol Farms (of course) and I had just enough leftover Pinot Noir to turn it into the velvety wine sauce. Mr. Tall and I paired up the dish with a rendition of a recipe from the cookbook--Broccoli with Meyer Lemon Olive Oil. Since Meyer Lemon Olive Oil was not so easy to find, we finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon, heat it up with some olive oil in a skillet, stir in lightly blanched broccoli florets and just a squeeze of lemon juice--and you've got a simple and refreshing side dish.
Mr. Tall is not a big fan of seafood (what a shame!) but we would occasionally throw in some salmon for dinner here and there. Also, from Giada's book, we broiled up some salmon with garlic, mustard and herbs, and sauteed green beans with tomato and basil. The salmon recipe called for dijon mustard, but Mr. Tall loves honey mustard so we compromised and got honey dijon mustard. Every relationship is about compromise, right? Again, the recipes were so simple yet very flavorful.
Giada's book also had a recipe for a Quick Marinara Sauce that Mr. Tall and I made and stocked in the freezer. To change up the usual spaghetti night, we made Linguine with Chicken Ragu. Instead of the typical ground beef, the recipe utilized some chopped chicken, which made the sauce a little lighter and healthier. We have also used Italian sausages or even ground turkey to change up the usual Bolognese. As you can tell, I adore Giana DeLaurentis and love, love, love her recipes. They are fantastic and anyone can make them, really!
One last addition on this leg of the culinary journey with Mr. Tall and Little Miss Contrary, we made a stop over at Lucky Buck's in Hillcrest. I had read about it in the Union Tribune and I couldn't resist the sound of their burgers. This relatively new burger joint also serves burritos, but Mr. Tall and I both opted for their burgers. I think Mr. Tall ordered the standard burger with cheese and bacon while I went for the Hawaiian with grilled pineapple. All the burger combinations come with criss-cross cut fries, which frankly I'm not a big fan of. They're neither potato chips nor fries--eh. Lucky Buck's version did not impress me either. The buns were freshly baked and soft; the patty was fresh but tasted like some thing that I could have put together at home. Decent burgers but nothing that I would go out of my way to try again. My love for burgers is devoted to In N Out and Island's. Island's have the best fries, by far, and I love The Hawaiian, of course. In N Out is just plain good. I need to make some burgers at home soon--I feel a craving coming on.
Well, I hope you enjoyed some of the food that Mr. Tall and I have shared. More culinary adventures to come!
Little Miss Contrary