Friday, December 5, 2014

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Outdoor Grill

As you know by now, my husband and I have a New Year’s Resolution to try at least one new restaurant in the L.A. area each month.  (“New” being defined by “new to us” not “just opened.”)  Back in August, we actually tried two BBQ places two days in a row.  Now, my husband’s from Texas, and every time we go there, we have amazing BBQ, so these restaurants are being held up to pretty high standards.  That said, we have yet to find anywhere in L.A. where we think the BBQ is as good as it is in Texas, and we REALLY wanted one of these places to be our new go-to place.

First up is Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.  I’ve read that this is a chain out of Dallas, so we hoped it would be some amazing Texas BBQ.  My husband bought a LivingSocial deal where he paid $10 for $24 worth of food.  We’ve driven by Dickey’s many times on our way to my mom’s place, but we never thought to stop in.  This was the perfect excuse.

The place was almost empty when we arrived around 3pm, but there seemed to be a steady stream of customers, most people probably taking the food to go like we were.

The guy who waited on us was really friendly and helpful.  He told us about the smoked meat and answered all of our questions.  We decided to each order a Meat Plate.  All of the meat plates come with 2 sides, a roll, pickles, onions and barbecue sauce.  My husband ordered a Rib Plate.  He chose mac & cheese and fried onion tanglers for his sides.  I ordered a 2 Meat Plate and chose beef brisket and the spicy cheddar sausage for the meats.  For the sides, I chose barbecue beans and waffle iron fries.

The employee seemed happy that we had a LivingSocial voucher to use, probably glad to know that the vouchers are bringing in new business.

I had looked up reviews on Yelp and saw that there’s free soft serve ice-cream, so we asked if we could help ourselves to that before we left.  We were pointed towards the soft-serve ice-cream machine.  It’s not the best soft serve ever (I personally LOVE the vanilla soft-serve at McDonalds.  It’s about the only thing I get there.), but it’s free, so I’m not going to complain.  It was just a little too soft and not as creamy as it could be. 

We ate our ice-cream cones in the restaurant so they wouldn’t melt on our way to the car.  I looked around a little while we were there.  The restaurant seems very clean, and I like the décor; it definitely fits the type of food.

We took our big bag full of food home and spread everything out on the table to share.   

The spicy cheddar sausage was my favorite meat.  It was actually amazing.  I would totally order that again.   I really wanted to like the brisket, but it was too fatty for me.  

The ribs were pretty good, but I’m not a huge fan of ribs.   

Of the sides, I liked the mac & cheese the best.   

The waffle fries at Chick-fil-a are better.   

The onion tanglers are good but pure grease.  It’s what you’d expect; I’m just not a huge fan of pure grease.  

The barbecue beans were good, but I’ve had better.   

The dinner roll isn’t anything special, but it’s soft and good for sopping up BBQ sauce, which, by the way, was good as well.   

I don’t like super sweet BBQ sauce (my favorite is just Hunts Original), but this was enjoyable.  In short, if I went to Dickey’s again, I’d probably get the spicy cheddar sausage and the mac & cheese.  Yum!

Now, onto Outdoor Grill.  One of our friends gifted us an LA Bite voucher, and we used it to order dinner from Outdoor Grill last night.  I’ve never eaten there, and I’m not even sure where it’s located.  Just a minute; let me Google that.  I guess there are two locations, but I’m sure the one we ordered from was the Northridge location. 

We ordered a bunch of food: a tri-tip plate with baked beans and spicy BBQ sauce, a full rack of baby back ribs with mac & cheese and spicy BBQ sauce, and an a la carte order of beef ribs and regular BBQ sauce.  

LA Bite said it would be delivered within an hour, and it was actually delivered in about a half-hour.  We were definitely pleased with the quick turnaround.  My husband answered the door, and he said the delivery guy was friendly and dressed professionally.  So, kudos LA Bite.  I’ve had food delivered from LA Bite at different places where I worked, but this was my first experience actually having food delivered at home.  It’s super convenient, I must say.

Now, back to Outdoor Grill.  The tri-tip was hands down my favorite meat.  It was really good.  Mmm, tri-tip!  It was juicy, not fatty at all, and just had a great flavor.  I could definitely eat that again.   

The ribs were very fatty, especially the beef ribs.  I know some people love that, but it’s not my thing.  My husband ate most of the ribs.  He said “ribs are ribs” so he thought they were adequate.  He agreed about the tri-tip being amazing though.   

As far as the sides.  Uh, there was like no cheese on the mac & cheese.  It was basically just noodles.  So not impressed.   

The beans weren’t very good either.  I hated both of the barbecue sauces (the spicy and regular), so that’s probably why I didn’t like the beans (since I assume that same sauce is mixed into the beans).  

So, if I had to eat at Outdoor Grill again I’d definitely order the tri-tip.  I’d have to try a different side, because I wouldn’t get the beans or mac & cheese again.

Between Dickey’s and Outdoor Grill, I’d definitely prefer Dickey’s.  The BBQ sauce was tasty, the soft-serve was free, and all of the meat and sides were adequate.

So, did we find a new authentic Texas BBQ joint in L.A.?  No.  So far the most authentic is still making it at home.  And, I’m sure Dickey’s is based out of Dallas, but my favorite BBQ place in Texas is Pappas, ad Dickey’s doesn’t come close to being as good as Pappas.  Just sayin’.

Happy eating!

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Being pregnant and due in early August and concerned that possibly the little tyke would want to arrive early, my husband and I decided to fulfill our New Year’s Resolution for the month of July as early as possible.  Our New Year's Resolution is to try a new-to-us restaurant in the L.A. area at least once a month.  We decided to try Bonefish in Northridge on July 1st, which also happened to be lobster night.  Now, I usually think lobster is over-rated, but still, I mean, who can pass up lobster night?  It’s Tuesday, by the way.  Lobster Tuesdays at Bonefish.  Remember that.

We had made a reservation, but we arrived 15 minutes late (partly because it was so hard to find a parking spot in the crowded parking lot), and they had given our table away.  We were offered a table in the bar right away, or we could wait about 15 minutes for a table in the restaurant.  We chose to wait and look over the menu while we waited. 

Our waitress was friendly and answered any questions we had about the menu.  In the end, my husband ordered off of the “Tuesday Tales of Lobster” menu.  He decided to try the Steak Topped with Lobster Thermidor.  It comes with a 6oz sirloin, but he upgraded to a 6oz filet for $6.  The filet comes topped with (according to the menu) “sweet lobster, lump crab, a velvety sauce with a hint of sherry and garlic.”   It also comes with garlic whipped potatoes and veggies on the side.  I thought about ordering the lobster grilled cheese or the lobster roll sliders, but in the end, I knew that I really wanted to try the Tilapia Imperial, which is described on the menu as “stuffed with shrimp, scallops, crab meat, lemon caper butter, fresh seasonal vegetable + choice of one fresh side.”  For my side, I chose garlic whipped potatoes.

While we were waiting for our food, the waitress brought out fresh bread with an olive oil dipping sauce.  It was good.  I mean, it’s bread and dipping sauce.  It wasn’t amazing or anything.  I could list multiple restaurants where we like the bread better, but this was adequate, and we finished it.  We just didn’t ask for seconds.

It wasn’t too long before our entrees arrived.  I really enjoyed the tilapia, but the filling was a little too rich for my taste.  It was a really good fish entrée, but next time I’d try something else.  The potatoes were a little rich for me too.  What do I even mean by rich? Too much cream/butter, perhaps?  Once again, that’s just my taste.

My husband thought his steak was good, but we both agreed that lobster is still over-rated.  I mean, it’s only good if it’s dipped in butter or drenched in some sort of cream sauce.  There is other seafood that’s actually good all on its own (like salmon, for example, or tuna, or crab, I could go on).  So, he would order something different next time as well. 

We decided to splurge and order dessert.  Crème Brulee is my husband’s all-time favorite, so we decided to order that to share.  It was huge!  Once again, it was too rich for me, but my husband loved it and practically licked the serving dish clean!

We both decided that we would indeed come back.  We liked the food.  We liked the service.  We liked the atmosphere.  We wanted to try some other items on the menu and find something that we actually loved (besides the crème brulee…my husband totally loved the crème brulee and said he’d be happy just coming to Bonefish for that!).

So, we went back to Bonefish with my mom a few weeks later during Bang Bang Shrimp night, which is Wednesday, by the way.  We’d never had Bang Bang Shrimp before, so we decided we needed to try it, but not straight up.  We decided to start by ordering the Bang Bang Shrimp Flatbread.  The special menu (shrimp night) price was for a smaller serving of the flatbread, but that was fine with us.  We just wanted to give it a try.  It did not disappoint.  The flatbread was cut into four pieces and was topped with mozzarella, Bang Bang Shrimp, cilantro and a creamy, spicy sauce.  OMG, I loved it!  I told the waitress that we would definitely be ordering this next time. 

So, for our entrees, I decided to stick to the Bang Wednesday menu (shrimp specials) and order the Bang Bang Shrimp Sirloin, but I upgraded to the filet for $6.  It was basically the shrimp equivalent of what my husband ordered during lobster night.  It was topped with Bang Bang Shrimp and served with garlic whipped potatoes and French green beans.  OMG.  So, I totally found the item on the menu that I love.  I was so impressed with how much Bang Bang Shrimp was included with the meal.  I love the creamy and spicy sauce.  It’s NOT too rich for me.  It’s amazing.  I definitely need to come back to Bonefish on a Wednesday again.  Oh, and the steak was cooked perfectly too.  It was juicy and flavorful.  100% winner.

My mom was trying to eat healthy and low cal, which she was totally able to do.   She ordered the 6oz filet, which was basically the equivalent of my meal but without the Bang Bang Shrimp.  For her side, she chose asparagus, and it also came with mixed veggies, so she was totally super healthy.  She really liked her meal.  If you’re not trying to be super healthy though, and if you like shrimp, it’s totally a better value to get what I got.  My meal only cost $1 more than hers, and it included amazing, delicious, Bang Bang Shrimp!

My husband ordered one of the evening’s specials.  I really should’ve taken a picture of the special menu, but I didn’t.  I don’t remember exactly what the salmon was stuffed with, but it was like veggies and cheese and crab meat or something like that.  Plus it had an amazing sauce.  For his sides, he chose, jasmine rice and asparagus.  My husband really liked the salmon (I tasted it; it was too rich for me), but he said that next time he’d order what I ordered.   So, looks like Wednesday is our Bonefish night.

Oh, and I know, I know, this blog post is LONG overdue.  I mean, I ate at Bonefish a month ago, right?  I usually try to blog about recipes and restaurants the same day or next day.  Well, I went into labor the day after our 2nd visit to Bonefish, and raising a newborn is quite time consuming.  So, that's why this post is overdue.  Looks like we definitely did make a good decision to fulfill our New Years Resolution early in July because the little tyke DID decide to arrive early.

Happy eating!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

White Pizza with Beef Sausage

I love pizza.  Who doesn't?  Sometimes I want a fancy pizza from California Pizza Kitchen.  Sometimes I want Pizza Hut (love their new garlic hand tossed crust!).  Sometimes I just want a quick and basic (or "hot and ready") pizza from Little Caesar's.  But the best pizza ever is homemade.  

I've made a lot of different types of pizza.  I recently improved my whole wheat crust recipe (blogged about in the previous post, which you can find here).  It's light and fluffy, and my husband couldn't stop talking about how good it was.  Well, to top it off, I came up with a recipe for pizza that in my opinion is truly the best.  If you like white pizza, you'll love this pizza.

I'm not really a fan of tomato sauce on pizza.  I prefer fresh tomatoes, but I also know that pizza crust tastes better with a little something on it in place of the sauce.  I've used BBQ sauce, pesto, and wing sauce (this one most frequently), but recently I've discovered something even better.  I just lightly brush the crust with olive oil, sprinkle that with garlic and salt and top that with a thin coating of ricotta cheese.  It's amazing and goes well with so many other toppings.  I use that "sauce" on the pizza recipe below.  When you add onions, mushrooms and homemade beef sausage, it just really can't be beat.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

White Pizza with Beef Sausage
Makes 1 large pizza
1 large pizza crust (I suggest making The Best Whole Wheat Pizza Crust - get the recipe here)
1 thinly sliced roma tomato
1/2 c ricotta cheese
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
16 ounces mushrooms, chopped
½ of a large onion, chopped
TexJoy Spicy Steak Seasoning (buy it online here)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
olive oil
8 ounces ground beef
½ tsp TexJoy Sausage Seasoning (buy it online here)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook the mushrooms and onions in a frying pan until caramelized and all the liquid is removed from the mushrooms (otherwise you’ll have a soggy pizza).  Sprinkle with TexJoy Spicy Steak Seasoning.

Mix the ground beef with the TexJoy Sausage Seasoning and cook in another frying pan.  Crumble as it cooks.

Roll out the crust.  Drizzle with olive oil and brush just to coat the crust.  Sprinkle with garlic and salt.  Spread ricotta cheese over crust.  Arrange tomato slices evenly over ricotta and sprinkle with salt.  Sprinkle a little of the mozzarella cheese over the tomato slices.  Top evenly with the mushroom and onion mixture.  Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella cheese.  Top evenly with beef sausage.  Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake for 10 minutes or until crust is slightly browned and cheese is golden.

Happy eating!

The Best Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Probably about a year ago, I posted a recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust.  Until recently, I used that recipe a lot.  Then I discovered how fluffy the crust becomes when I substitute some of the whole wheat flour for bread flour.  In my opinion, it's totally worth it for the crust not to be 100% whole wheat.  It's still mainly whole wheat, and my husband raves about this crust.

The Best Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
makes 4 large pizza crusts

2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp active dry yeast
3 c warm water
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
5 c whole wheat flour
2 c bread flour

Pour water into a large bowl.  Dissolve sugar in water.  Sprinkle yeast over water and set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes.  At this point, yeast should be foamy.  Add salt and olive oil.  Then add 4 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour.  Mix until dough starts to form.

Switch to dough hook, and add 1 cup whole wheat flour.  Knead dough until all the flour has been incorporated and dough becomes elastic. 

Spray the mixer bowl with cooking spray.  Form the dough into a ball and put the dough back inside the mixer bowl.  Cover the bowl with a towel and put it in a warm place to rise.  Usually the counter is warm enough. Set a timer for an hour.

At this point the dough should be doubled in size.  Remove dough from bowl and separate into 4 equal parts.  Form four dough balls and place the balls in four separate oiled (I use cooking spray) bowls.  Cover the bowls with a towel and place in a warm place.  (You can leave it on the counter if the kitchen is warm, or you can put it in the oven on the lowest setting.) Set the timer for 45 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to your desired size.  Each dough ball makes a large thin-crust pizza.  Wrap the extra dough balls in plastic wrap or put each dough ball in sandwich-size Ziplock bags in the refrigerator.  If you want to stock up on dough for later, you can put the sandwich-size bags or plastic-wrapped dough inside a larger freezer bag in the freezer.  When ready to use the crust, defrost overnight and set on the counter for a half-hour before rolling out to get the crust up to room temperature.

Burgundy Beef Tips

This is a recipe that my husband makes for himself all the time.  I think he learned to make it from his dad.  I love men that can cook!  It's easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.
Burgundy Beef Tips
Serves 1


5.5 oz steak (or whatever meat you want)
5 oz rice (cooked)
5 oz red wine
1/4 tsp of TexJoy Cajun Seasoning (buy it online here)


Cut the meat into 1/2" cubes.

Coat the steak with TexJoy and brown it on all sides, stirring as necessary.

Pour wine over steak and bring to a boil. 

Allow to boil until wine is reduced 50%.

Mix the rice into the wine and steak.

Happy eating!