Monday, September 26, 2011

Banana Ice Cream

Last minute dinner party and unsure of what to make for dessert? Well, lucky you froze those bananas thinkin' that at some point you'll make some warm banana bread! For a simple but tasty low-fat, low-lactose, overall low-calorie option for an ice cream delight, imagine this dish. Start it off before you get to cookin' and it will be ready for your guests come dessert time. Enjoy...

Banana Ice Cream with Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Glaze
Prep Time: 10 minutes
6 Servings

3 Medium (7") Bananas, Frozen
1/4 Cup Nonfat Milk
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1Tsp Cinnamon
5 Tsp Splenda

Chop 2 1/2 bananas and place in food processor, set aside remaining 1/2 banana. Pulse until semi-smooth. Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and Splenda, and blend until smooth. 

Chop remaining banana and fold into mixture. Place in freezer-safe container and freeze until desired consistency (3 hours seemed to work fine).  

Keep in mind that you can replace the Splenda with granulated sugar, adding greater calories and a different nutritional breakdown.
Total Prep Time: 10 minutes or less
Nutrition Info (1 serving)
Calories: 60, Fat: .2g, Sat. Fat: .1g, Cholest.: .2mg, Sodium: 4.9mg, Carb.: 15g, Fiber: 2.4g, Sugars: 7.7g, Protein: 1g

Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Glaze

Prep Time: 5 minutes
4 Servings

1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp Water

Heat a small saucepan to medium. Mix dry ingredients and heat in pan. Pour in water until ingredients are well melted and mixed. Set aside to chill to room temperature and drizzle over ice cream.
Total Prep Time: 5 minutes or less
Nutrition Info (1 serving)
Calories: 53, Fat: 0g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholest.: 0mg, Sodium: 4.2mg, Carb.: 13.7g, Fiber: .1g, Sugars: 13.4g, Protein: 0g
Friday, September 23, 2011

Shake Shack


New York City, NY. Remember those days, waiting in line at a theme park, surrounded by a diverse group of people in anticipation of what's to come? This is slightly reminiscent of that experience, with a slight change: the fun happens in your mouth and the wait is in Madison Square Park. The experience can be just as memorable as those roller coasters and possibly more so.  You have probably heard about the lines here. Yes, it is THAT good, but some words of wisdom: even during non-peak hours, prepare yourself for at least a 30-minute wait...if you can endure that then you'll certainly be fine to feast.

Don't let this featured franchise fool you - the food is quite addictive, enough so that you may find yourself going once, twice, or three times in just one visit to New York City. When all you have to go back to are over popularized burger joints advocating healthy and fresh, this is a nice little escape during your escape to offer a range of delicious choices. If I lived in Manhattan, I'd pace myself back a bit (let's hope).

Cheese Fries - Crinkle or krinkle cut fries? I remember these from my school cafeteria and never really seemed to like them but was hopeful I'd like them now. Let's just say that I'm still a fan of other fry variations to these. The fries are saturated with a generous 'drizzle' of cheddar cheese and crispy, at first. Over the time it takes to choose what other items to eat, the fries tend to sog, but the sauce remains fun to dip other food items into to switch up the flavors.

Custard Shake - is probably one of the better milkshakes I've had or allowed myself to have in recent years. The shake is rich, dense, sweet, and creamy...all the things to make it wonderful. It's cold and it's thick, yet it's nearly impossible to wait until it melts a bit more before you take on the challenge of sucking it down. I drank feverishly until I finished with nearly a brain freeze in its wake. Oh...but it was worth it.

'Shroom Burger and Custard Shake
'Shroom Burger - an explosion...simply an explosion of gooey, delicious flavor in my mouth. It's an easy concept: portobello mushroom filled with Muenster and cheddar cheeses, fried to a crunch, topped with lettuce, tomato, and topped with their 'sauce' in a lightly toasted half-sliced bun. It's also an ideal scenario: a bite, an explosion of cheese, the bun catches, and my lap is free from the oily mess that is common amongst burger joints. Even if you're not a mushroom lover, this burger will temporarily make you forget that little tidbit about yourself.

The longer you wait, the more you may want to order, but don't fret, there are a number of locations to get your fix. It can seem a bit unreasonably priced for just an order of burger and fries, but after the last lip-smacking morsel, it just seems worth it.  If you're craving a burger (or a twist on one) make an effort to stop by. If you're visiting NYC, put it in your itinerary. Give it a chance and see for yourself why this 'ride' is worth the wait.

Shake Shack
E 23rd St & Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-6600
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ONYX: restaurant + lounge + bar


Los Angeles, CA. Wandering the up-and-coming streets of Downtown Los Angeles and pinpointing a relaxed atmospheric venue is a challenge. Tastes are questionable and the expectation is met with a rather underwhelming portfolio. Needless to say a low bar was set for this bar, but it won me over by the night's end. Onyx: restaurant + lounge + bar is undoubtedly a spot to try.  The owners of Stray Cat branched out into this evening set-up with dim lighting, candles, high-top tables and well-cushioned chairs. Pillars extend into the restaurant and the bar sits on a far end underneath a few flat-screens. Pay no mind to what they show, like the music selection, after a few beers you'll get why...otherwise, it will continue to make no sense.  Digression aside, it remains clear that the atmosphere is quaint, the set-up is comfortable, and the area is conducive to an early or late night exchange of conversation. 

Spicy Garlic Fries
Spicy Garlic FriesI started off my dine-in experience with this appetizer which seemed just a bit 'off' for the avid fry lover. The fries had a kick I've never quite tasted before - usually it's in the sauce paired with the appetizer or the fries are mildly "seasoned" but when have they ever successfully been spiced? It came paired with a cooling ranch which tamed down the initial bite. I originally shared with a friend but after more bites I found myself getting him to talk JUST so I could eat.

Mexican Cheesesteak
Mexican Cheesesteak - The steak comes wrapped and large but oh so delicious, steamy, warm, and gooey. Our server kept returning to the table, daring me to finish my meal. Could I? Yeah, I'm a man of hunger, so of course I devoured it. It was a typical cheesesteak sautéed (grilled rib-eye, peppers & onions) and layered with a few extras: jalapeño, salsa, cilantro, chipotle mayo....the combination took poor Philly to a new level, an flavorful explosion in anyone's mouth who's willing. The grilled jalapeno holds less punch - so those of you with a preference for the mild, you may not actually mind this.

Mexican Cheesesteak, up close and personal...
The "unique" quality of this bar is two-fold: 1) the chef modified the daytime menu for an evening lounge hotspot; 2) the design exemplifies the name: the tables and pillars are made with onyx (cryptocrystalline form of silica). The pillars actually play host to a warm light, emitting a soft yellow glow for you and your company to enjoy. Staff are either specific to the venue or work next door, but they are all friendly, attentive, and open and honest with with their food cravings. 

With friends or without, to enjoy a happy hour (Daily 4:30p - 7p) or a decent beverage, Onyx: restaurant + lounge + bar seems like an ideal nighttime spot for a drink or just to eat something tasty. I've been looking for an outlet similar to my Portland festivities at a similar cost and quality of cuisine. Although this venue is a bit pricier, I think I finally found a good contender.

restaurant + lounge + bar
118 W 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 891-1144
Friday, September 02, 2011

Firehouse Restaurant


Portland, OR. This place came highly recommended during my visit to PDX. A converted restaurant with a heavy wood interior - quite the interesting place. Rotisserie chicken and fire roasted pizza - all huge pluses. Staff were friendly and although I came for a quick bite, the menu had some interesting eats that I could see myself enjoying in the future. Ordered a few quick options of Fried Cauliflower, Potato CrispsWedge Salad and a couple of beers (like their coffee, Portland and beer = harmony).

The Fried Cauliflower was neutral in flavor but an interesting concept. I found my taste buds going nuts over the citrus creme that it was paired with - though I also found myself dipping the Potato Crisps more so than the appetizer it was intended for...oops.

The Potato Crisps were a mix between french fries and potato chips: lightly fried, tossed with a salty cheese. A cool concept that would've been amped up easily with a fresh garlic aioli or a seasoned ketchup.

The Wedge Salad had a good flavor. Similar in look to the wedge options I've seen in Los Angeles, this dish differs in that their fresh dressing actually complimented the dish in a way that wasn't overpowering. The lettuce was crisp, and the sprinkle of light cheese added a creamy element to the combination.

I enjoy restaurants that feature regular foods in a different way. This restaurant was certainly one of them, playing with texture and flavor combinations to throw a little 'extra' into the dishes. The venue is uniquely decorated and staff are accommodating to your needs as a consumer, but I think next time I want to see what their rotisserie and fire oven are all about.

Firehouse Restaurant
711 NE Dekum St
Portland, OR 97255
(503) 954-1702

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