Friday, April 25, 2014

Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

In a previous post, I blogged about my Everyday Salad, which I eat almost every day, like, at least 5 times a week.  In that post, I included a recipe I found for light balsamic vinaigrette.  Since then, I've modified the recipe enough that I decided to write this new post including the recipe for the salad dressing I really use everyday on my Everyday Salad.  Here is my version of light balsamic vinaigrette. 

Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
makes about 8oz

1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp TexJoy Spicy Steak Seasoning (click here to buy it online)

In a jar or container with a screw-on lid,  add all ingredients, screw on the lid and shake the container vigorously until everything is well combined.

You can store the the dressing in the same container.  Just be sure to shake the container before serving.

Tips: I found the perfect container for shaking and storing your homemade salad dressing!  It's the OXO Salad Dressing 8-Ounce Shaker in Green.  The lid screws on tightly.  The pour spout makes it easy to pour just the right amount of dressing on your salad.  It's also the perfect size!  I got mine at Bed Bath & Beyond for only $9.99.

Note about the Everyday Salad: The Everyday Salad recipe says to put TexJoy directly on the salad, but since I now put TexJoy in the salad dressing, I don't put additional TexJoy on the salad.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Granville Cafe

Last week, my husband and I were in Burbank around lunch time, and we decided to break out of our rut (Porto’s, Market City Café, Chevy’s and IKEA are our usuals) and try a different spot for lunch.  I remembered years back when I worked at Yahoo! that some people went to Granville Café for lunch, so we decided to give it a try.

Granville is located about a block away from Market City Café.  We arrived just before noon and were lucky to get a parking spot right in front.  One of the things I love about downtown Burbank is that the parking is free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to find a good parking spot…especially during the week of Spring Break.

When we walked up to Granville, I was immediately impressed with the casual/rustic décor, yet it seemed classy at the same time.  The hostess greeted us and asked us if we’d had their casual dining service before.  We said “no.”  She gave us menus and explained that we order at the counter and they’ll bring our food out to us. 

We joined the short line of customers and looked over our menus.  A lot looked good.  I thought about getting the Pastrami Sandwich or the Santa Barbara Chicken Sandwich; however, I wanted to eat something healthy, so in the end I ordered the El Gaucho Salad, which is described on the menu as “Fresh Organic Spring Greens, Queso Fresco, Grape Tomatoes, Jicama, Red Bell Peppers, Sliced Red Onion, Fresh Avocado, Spiced Tortilla Croutons and Pepitas tossed with Granville’s Chimichurri Vinaigrette.”  I asked for the vinaigrette on the side and added all-natural chicken to the salad for a couple dollars extra.

My husband went with his gut and ordered what sounded best, not what sounded healthiest.  He ordered the Southwest Burger, which is described on the menu as “100% Fresh, All-Natural Angus Beef, Roasted Poblanos, Cheddar Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Red Onion, Organic Arugula and Granville's Chipotle Aioli on a Rustic Roll.”  All sandwiches come with Housemade Herb Potato Chips, which are described on the menu as “Thick-Cut, sprinkled with Sea Salt and topped with Freshly Chopped Rosemary and Thyme.”  You can upgrade to fries or sweet potato fries, but my husband decided to try the chips.

We were given a number for our order, and then all we had to decide was where to sit.  Considering it was lunchtime, I’m surprised it wasn’t more crowded.  There were lots of tables available in all sections of the restaurant, and each section had a slightly different feel.  It was a beautiful day, so we decided to sit on the patio, which was completely covered and had a fireplace nearby.  The music playing was relaxing, and the whole atmosphere was really mellow.  Having not even tried the food yet, I decided that I’d come back here just for the atmosphere.  It seemed like a great place to meet friends for lunch or dinner. 

When I walked to the back of the restaurant to find the restroom, I noticed that you can see directly into the kitchen.  I love when restaurants have windows into the kitchen.  It makes me feel like they have nothing to hide, and it makes my mouth water watching the food preparation.

It didn’t take too long for our food to be delivered to our table.  I was immediately impressed with the looks of both entrees.  You can’t judge a book by its cover though, so taste would be the deciding factor.

My salad tasted very fresh.  The chicken was nice white-meat chicken with a delicious marinated flavor.  The dressing was on the side as requested, and it complemented the salad well.  No complaints.  It was a big salad, and I actually started to get full about half-way through.  It was delicious, so I finished it anyway.

My salad was fresh and delicious, but my husband’s burger was, let’s just say, a first.  Every time I blog about a burger I end up saying something along the lines of “it was good but not as good as the Kilauea Burger at Islands.”  I took a bite of my husband’s burger 100% prepared to have the same comment.  In fact, the comment went through my mind, but before I could say it out loud to my husband, I changed my mind.  I think this is the first burger I’ve ever tasted that’s BETTER than the Kilauea Burger at Islands.  The bun was delectable.  The meat was juicy, flavorful and melted in your mouth.  The roasted poblanos and chipotle aioli gave it a nice spicy kick.  I could go on and on.  Add in the fact that everything at Granville is fresh, organic and made-from-scratch.  I’m sure Islands can’t say the same.  I have a new favorite burger, and it only took one bite to win me over.

The only negative about the burger was that it was so big and juicy it was a little difficult for my husband to eat.  It came with a stem of rosemary sticking out of the bun (super cute idea), and he broke off the rosemary and put it inside the bun.  He also cut it in half, but it was still a juicy, messy challenge.  He ended up eating half of it with a knife and fork just to make it easier. 

The housemade chips were delicious too.  They had a great flavor and are much better than store bought chips.  I highly recommend trying them when you come here.  No need to upgrade to fries!

I look forward to dining at Granville again sometime soon.  I’m glad my husband and I tried two completely different entrees.  They were both exceptional.  Whether you want something healthy or something sinful, you can find it at Granville and know that it’ll taste fresh and delicious.  I just might have to try the Pastrami Sandwich next time.  I have yet to find a good pastrami sandwich in L.A., but I think Granville is probably up to the challenge!  The menu’s description just convinces me even more: “Not for the faint of heart! Premium Pastrami slices layered with Roasted Poblano Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Red Onions and melted Swiss Cheese, with Granville's Kalamata Tapenade Spread and Garlic Aioli.”  It just might be better than what I remember eating in New York.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Shrimp Quesadillas

Almost a year ago, I started this blog, and my husband and I departed for a business trip to Maui.  One of the highlights of that trip (as far as dining is concerned) was Happy Hour at the Sands of Kahana restaurant.  We loved their Mai Tais and shrimp quesadillas.  When we returned from Maui, I was on a mission to make my own Mai Tais and came up with a real winner of a recipe.  Being pregnant, I'm not able to drink those right now, and that made me a little sad when reminiscing about Maui.  Then I thought about the shrimp quesadillas.  I can't believe I didn't try to replicate those a long time ago!  I can eat those while I'm pregnant, maybe while drinking some orange juice or pineapple juice (or, when not pregnant, one of my Ono Mai Tais), and feel like I'm in Maui.

With a little experimentation, I came up with a simple and delicious recipe for shrimp quesadillas.  Cheese and shrimp are so amazing together.  You just can't go wrong!  The recipe that follows is for one quesadilla, but as you can see from the pictures, I usually make more than one at a time, and it's just as quick and easy.  It's even easy to make a half serving by folding a tortilla in half instead of using 2 tortillas.

Shrimp Quesadillas
(serves 1)

1.5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (or your favorite Mexican cheese blend)
2 flour tortillas
20 small precooked shrimp (and defrosted if frozen)
TexJoy Seafood Seasoning (click here to buy it online)
spray butter


Heat up your broiler to about 400.  Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Put one tortilla on the cookie sheet.  Top with half the cheese.  Then add the shrimp.  Sprinkle the Seafood Seasoning over the shrimp.  Top with the rest of the cheese.  Place the other tortilla on top.  Spray the tortilla with spray butter and sprinkle with salt.

Place the cookie sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the top tortilla is golden brown.

Take the cookie sheet out of the broiler and flip the quesadilla over.  Spray the top tortilla with spray butter and sprinkle with salt.

Return to the cookie sheet to the broiler for another 1-2 minutes or until the top tortilla is golden brown.  The tortillas may also get puffy, which I love.

Place the quesadilla on a plate and cut into four to eight pieces, depending on how big you want your pieces to be.  Top with sour cream and/or guacamole.

Aloha, and Happy Eating!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

TexJoy Turkey Sausage

If you read my blog, you know I love TexJoy and use TexJoy's spicy steak seasoning on just about everything.  Well, I just found a new favorite seasoning, and it's also made by TexJoy.  It's TexJoy Old Fashioned Sausage Seasoning.  OMG.  You have to taste it.  My husband and I mixed this seasoning with ground turkey, and it transformed the flavor of the turkey so that it tastes exactly like sausage, and not just healthy sausage but the kind of sausage you'd expect to find at your favorite breakfast spot...only without all the calories and grease!  You. Must. Try. This!

TexJoy Turkey Sausage

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 tsp TexJoy Old Fashioned Sausage Seasoning (click here to buy it online)

In a bowl, mix the ground turkey and the sausage seasoning with your hands to combine.  That's it!

Then you can break the turkey up in a frying pan to make ground turkey, or you can break the sausage into four 2-ounce sausage patties which are perfect for breakfast sandwiches.  Just cook on a griddle or in a frying pan until cooked through.

A couple nights ago, we made ground turkey and put it on pizza.  So good!

You can also put 2 oz of ground turkey in a breakfast quesadilla (click here for my breakfast quesadilla recipe).  It tastes like a breakfast burrito from McDonald's only way better.

You won't believe the delicious taste of this turkey sausage.  Seriously, you have to try this!

 Happy eating!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mediterranean Deviled Eggs

Easter is less than a week away.  If you plan on making deviled eggs out of all those eggs the kids are busy decorating, why not try this healthy low-cal spin on the classic recipe?  We swap the mayo and egg yolks for hummus for a different but completely delicious Mediterranean flavor.

Mediterranean Deviled Eggs
Hummus (get my husband's easy recipe)
TexJoy Italian Seasoning (click here to buy online)

Boil the eggs for 15 minutes.

Remove the shells, and rinse off the eggs to remove all the bits of shell.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise.

Remove the yolks.

Dab half an ounce of hummus into each half.

Sprinkle TexJoy Italian Seasoning on top.

When testing this recipe, we tried 3 different seasoning toppings, the typical paprika, spicy TexJoy, and TexJoy Italian Seasoning.  The Italian seasoning was the clear winner.  The other two seasonings couldn't stand up to the delicious hummus flavor, but the Italian seasoning complemented it perfectly.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Saltgrass Steakhouse

Our last night in Texas, on the way to the Houston airport, my father-in-law decided we should drive to Kemah and eat at Landry’s.  Traffic was worse than we expected on the drive there.  There was a half-hour wait when we arrived, and we didn’t have time to wait or we’d get to the airport too late to check our bags.  We ended up eating at SaltGrass Steakhouse instead.



I’d never eaten at SaltGrass before, but looking over the menu, I saw many items that really looked delicious.  It was fairly crowded when we arrived, but we were still able to be seated right away.  If we’d been able to wait, we probably could’ve gotten a table by the windows with a water view, but we still had a nice view from our table one row away from the windows.

We told the waitress that we were in a hurry and needed to order right away.  I usually try to pick a “healthy” option at restaurants.  Since I didn’t have time to put too much thought into my order, I ordered the first thing that sounded really good.  What was it that caught my eye?  The Coconut Shrimp, which comes with a side, and I chose Sweet Potato Fries.  Yeah, so not healthy, and sweet enough to almost count as dessert!

I wasn’t the only one in the mood for shrimp.  My father-in-law ordered the fried shrimp, and my mother-in-law ordered the Stuffed BBQ Shrimp Enbrochette, which are described on the menu as “Jumbo shrimp stuffed with cream cheese & a jalapeño sliver, wrapped in bacon & basted with BBQ sauce, served on a bed of scampi rice with grilled onions, chopped tomatoes & poblano peppers.”  They both chose a Baked Potato for their side item.

My husband broke the trend, kind of.  He ordered a steak, the 12oz version of Pat’s Ribeye.  I say “kind of” because he didn’t order shrimp, but he did order a Baked Potato for his side.  However, he asked for all of the potato toppings on the side instead of having them put directly on the potato.

All of our meals came with our choice of a dinner salad, Caesar salad or cup of soup.  We all chose dinner salads.  My in-laws chose honey mustard dressing, and my husband and I both requested ranch dressing on the side.  Our salads were good.  They were basic dinner salads, pretty much what you’d expect.

Our meals also came with Shiner Bock Beer Bread, which my father-in-law sliced as soon as it was brought to the table.  It was a good brown bread, but what was exceptional was the honey butter that was served on the side.  Yum!


Our entrees were exceptional.  I’ll start with my husband’s ribeye.  First of all, it was seasoned with SaltGrass-7 Steak Spice (I’m suspicious that it’s TexJoy under a different name) and topped with garlic butter.  Okay, you had me at garlic butter!  He ordered the steak cooked medium, and he couldn’t rave about it enough.  I’m pregnant and not supposed to eat red meat that isn’t cooked well done, but I had to know what this steak tasted like.  I asked my husband to cut off a tiny piece on the edge without any pink.  OMG.  I mean, now that’s a steak!  It melts in your mouth, and I’ll say it again, you had me at “garlic butter.”  As for his potato, it came dry as he requested with all of the toppings on the side.  The toppings included butter, sour cream, chives, cheese and bacon.  He ended up dumping most of the toppings on the potato because they were all so good.  He said that next time he wouldn’t bother asking for the toppings on the side.  My in-laws kind of smirked, like “duh?”

On to my entrée.  Coconut shrimp is a real treat for me.  I always think it just about tastes like doughnuts.  This was really good coconut shrimp.  Even my husband liked it, and he always says that he doesn’t like coconut.  I didn’t use the roasted jalapeño & pineapple marmalade that came with it for dipping.  I tasted it, and it had a nice kick, but I’m not a fan of citrus dips with meat, even when it’s coconut shrimp.  The sweet potato fries were cut really thin like shoestring fries.  I had never seen sweet potato fries cut like that before.  I prefer a thicker cut for a sweet potato fry, but that didn’t stop me from addictively devouring these fries.  They were nice and sweet.  This meal was a definite splurge for me, and it was worth it.

I didn’t taste my in-laws meals, but their shrimp looked really good too.  My father-in-law had no problem polishing off his shrimp and loaded potato, but my mother-in-law needed a box for about half of her shrimp.

In summary, the SaltGrass in Kemah is located right on the water with a great view, even if you don’t sit right next to the windows.  The décor is very Texas.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  The food is delicious, and next time I just might have to order a steak!

Happy Eating!

Saturday, April 5, 2014


On the drive from San Antonio to Houston, my husband and I decided to stop for BBQ for dinner.  We had been planning on stopping at Pappa's BBQ because we knew we loved it and because we'd gotten burned at Bill Miller's BBQ.  However, we decided to chance it and try something new.  We had seen signs for Rudy's BBQ and Country Store around Texas, and when we passed another sign, my husband decided we should try it. 

indoor dining
outdoor seating area

On first impression, I was surprised at how big the place was.  The decor was very country and outdoorsy with one picnic table after another, but it'd be a great place to feed a hungry family without having to wait for a table.  There was also an outdoor area that looked nice, and inside, the windows looked like they were made like garage doors where you could open them up if the weather were favorable.

We walked through the seating area and up to the line where you order.  There was a huge ice-filled bin with beer and soda.  I looked at some of the sodas and decided to try a Blue Cream Soda since I'd never had one before.  I'd had cream soda but not blue cream.

There was also a refrigerator where you could grab cold sides like coleslaw.  My husband got some coleslaw and banana pudding.

meat being sliced to order
Then we waited for the next register.  While we waited, I noticed that the meat was cut right behind the registers.  It looked delicious.

You order the food by weight.  There aren't any combos, but you could easily make your own combo.  My husband ordered 1/2 a pound of baby back ribs.  The waiter weighed it right at the register to show that it was really 1/2 a pound.  I wasn't sure that looked like enough meat for my husband, so I suggested he order something else too.  He ended up ordering a half-link of jalapeno sausage.

I was torn between ordering a 1/2 pound of pulled pork and a jumbo smoked potato or a jumbo smoked potato topped with pulled pork.  In the end, I decided to go with the potato topped with pork.  The guy at the register asked if I wanted everything on the potato.  "Everything" means sour cream, butter and cheese.  I said no cheese but butter and sour cream on the side.  I let him go ahead and put the pork on the potato though.  The potato really was jumbo!

The guy at the register asked if we wanted any bread to go with the food, and we said no.  He seemed a little surprised that we turned down the free bread, but we didn't need the extra carbs or calories.  I saw some families with practically a whole loaf of white store-bought bread at their table.  I don't remember if it was Wonder Bread, but it looked similar.

fixins bar

We asked for cups for water and took our crate of food over to the beverage station to get water.  There was also a fixins bar.  I grabbed a few sliced onions and some peppers.  I also got plastic silverware.

We chose a picnic table near a window and took all of our food out of the crate.  My husband grabbed some paper towels, and we settled down to dig in.
1/2 jalapeno sausage link & 1/2 lb baby back ribs

jumbo smoked potato with pulled pork

banana pudding

So what did we think?  The food was really good.  We loved all of the meat.  The jalapeno sausage was awesome.  My pulled pork was good and not greasy.  My husband devoured the ribs.  He liked the coleslaw and the banana pudding.  I used a little of the butter and sour cream on my potato, but the potato itself had a delicious smoked flavor that hardly needed anything added to it.  It was too big for me to finish, so my husband helped me out.  He was really impressed at the smoked hickory flavor of the potato.  We need to figure out how to do that at home.

blue cream soda

BBQ sauce, hot sauce & more
What about the Blue Cream Soda?  It kind of tasted like cream soda but with an almost cotton candy taste to it.  It was really sweet.  I'm not used to full-sugar soda, but it was really good.  My husband and I shared it.  It kind of tasted like being at a fair.

And, the negative: we didn't like the BBQ sauce.  There were too kinds of BBQ sauce on the table, spicy and regular, but both tasted too vinegary.  I'm glad we didn't just pour it on our meat without tasting it first.  The meat would've been even better with some good BBQ sauce on it, but it would've been ruined with Rudy's BBQ sauce on it.

In short, we loved all of the food at Rudy's, but since we didn't like the BBQ sauce we probably wouldn't eat here again.  After all, what's BBQ without BBQ sauce?  If I lived locally, maybe I'd bring my own BBQ sauce, but when you're on a road trip, that's not really practical, and I'd rather go somewhere that has good BBQ sauce anyway.  If "BBQ" is in their name, the BBQ sauce better be good!  Next time we'll eat at Pappa's.

Happy eating!