Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homegrown Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil Makes Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce

This year my tomatoes have taken over.  Maybe it is the mild summer with a few spurts of hot weather.  Maybe it's where I planted the tomatoes this season in the garden.  Whatever it is, all my tomato plants have become bushes.  They are huge and keep giving and giving.  This is my third batch of the season.  Luscious heirloom tomatoes. 

I decided to use some tomatoes to make a different pasta sauce.  And since my basil has continued to grow even now, I decided on a tomato basil sauce.  Here's what I came up with:

2 italian sausage links
8 small/medium sized tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup water
2 cloves of garlic, diced

1. Cook italian sausages in sauce pan.
2. Toss in the tomatoes and stir until they begin to fall apart, ~5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add the basil, olive oil, garlic salt, salt, and pepper.
4. Slowly stir the corn starch into the mixture and cook until it begins to thicken, 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Add water. 
6. Mix garlic into the sauce and simmer another 5 minutes.

And viola!  Topped over some quinoa pasta (for the gluten free diet).  Hmmm...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheeky's Part Deux

Since we were back in PS, we decided to go back to Cheeky's for Sunday morning brekkie. We found this place last year and remember it mostly for the bacon flight!

We had gotten there slightly before they opened at 8 am. There were already people lined up but they had a sign-in sheet which made things easy. We had a nice outside table again. The weather was warm, the sun wasn't in my face, and it was great for people-watching. :)

We started with coffee and tea ($2.50 each). I love the interesting dishware.

Of course we had the flight of bacon ($4):
From top to bottom, it's Jalapeno, Applewood, smoked, Xtra Thick. The side piece is maple. I had a few bites of each. Maple and jalapeno were my favorites.

R was banned from getting the Eggs Benedict. So he opted for the pecan brioche French toast ($10):
I had a few bites and it was very rich but he enjoyed it. 

I love the maple syrup "house":

Even though San Diego does Mexican mighty well, the huevos rancheros ($10) were calling my name.

Those are 2 poached eggs over tortillas and peruano beans. Not a healthy choice, but absolutely a delicious choice.

A very good breakfast before our drive home.

Jake's Ready to Eat

We were looking for a fun place to have dinner that wouldn't break the bank. We were also dressed in hiking clothes so a $$$ place wasn't going to cut it. There seemed to be no shortage of high-end fancy smanchy restaurants in Palm Springs but we found one listed as $$ instead of $$$ or $$$$! Jake's it is!

The atmosphere is casual but comfortable. There is a larger outside patio which looked romantic and a handful of smaller tables inside. We arrived slightly before 6 pm on a Saturday evening and even though the place looked empty, the host asked whether we had a reservation because he was booked for the entire evening. Luckily he found space, and they were able to seat us inside. The service was awesome... not pretentious, attentive and always friendly. They seemed genuinely concerned with whether we were enjoying our meal.

Shrimp cocktail was offered as an amuse-bouche:.

Tasty! Out came our server to deliver a warm dinner roll shortly after.

I started with the Mixed Organic Greens salad with lemon vinaigrette ($6.50). It had a nice variety of vegetables and everything was fresh, but of course, I could have easily eaten 3 plates of this. :)

R had the filet mignon with blue-cheese (are you surprised?). It came atop roasted garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus ($24). It was so delicious he ate everything cleanly - even the vegetables!

Because they couldn't make the Tower of Eggplant without cheese (apparently it is pre-assembled), I opted for the sea bass. It was crusted with hazelnuts and came with garlic mashed potatoes and not enough broccolini ($21). Although it was rich, it was perfectly cooked and excellent.  And even though it may look like a tiny portion in this picture (and I did think so when I first saw the dish), I was surprisingly full after I was done.

After gaping at the display case when we went in, I was determined to have a dessert. I mean, look at them!

This picture doesn't really do them justice (R took the picture - hah!).  The cakes are HUGE layer cakes and the brownies and bars (lower shelf on right and left) are as big as my face!  Okay, not really... but close!

It was tough choosing, but the peanut butter lover in me had to go with the peanut butter cupcake ($5):
It was a giant-sized, moist chocolate cake filled with a little peanut butter and topped with peanut-butter buttercream and roasted peanuts. Although I LOVE peanut butter, I shortly realized this probably wasn't the wisest choice as I also detest buttercream (too sweet!), and am generally not a cupcake fan. I can't really complain because there was nothing wrong with it (wasn't dry or flavorless), but I should have chosen something else!

R had the "hostess" cupcake ($5):

His response: Mmmmmmmmmm.

To top things off, they gave us a couple of complimentary bites of pecan bars:

I definitely left with a happy, full belly. This place is phenomenal AND good value. A similar dinner would have cost us much, much more.  We will be back.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


For my birthday, we went to Whisknladle in La Jolla. I was interested because I had heard good things about the place and they seemed to have some "different" items on the menu (bone marrow and sweetbreads, anyone?).

I like that their menu changes seasonally, they us local produce, and that most items are in small portions so you can sample quite a few. However, this can add up quickly and a few small plates can make for a hefty price tag.

We started with the chorizo date fritters ($11.50):

These tasty morsels were probably my favorite of the evening. They are dates stuffed with chorizo and served with parsley and a spicy tomato sauce. Very tasty!

For the main entree, I had the conchiglie. It contained shrimp chorizo, sweet potato, rapini and piquillo “sofrito.” At $24, I wouldn't describe it as "good value" but it was tasty, if a little too greasy for me.

R opted for the flat iron steak ($29.50) which came with fries, watercress and a béarnaise sauce (soooo rich).

I noticed there were no salt and pepper shakers on the table to been seen and I wondered what the reaction would be had we asked for ketchup. Heh. The service was very attentive, if slightly pretentious.

For dessert, we tried the pumpkin bread pudding ($10). I had read they made their ice cream on the premises and the butter rum ice cream served with the bread pudding was delicious! The bread pudding itself was a little too "bread-y" for us though.

I think we'd go back and try a few other items but would have to save our pennies for next time.
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