Ideas For a Vegetarian Friendsgiving

Veggie Friendsgiving!

Carla here! Thanksgiving season is here and it’s my favorite time of the year! Halloween is a close second but there’s just not enough savory foods involved. I’ve been a pescetarian for 7 years, and while I never impose my diet on anyone, I just serve awesome meatless meals that I would enjoy and after a few bites, my friends eventually forget about having meats as mains.

Thanksgiving is a great time but Friendsgiving is equally important. To celebrate all of the amazing friendships in our lives, I scoured the internet high and low to find out what the best dishes for this year’s Veggie Friendsgiving feast. There are so many delicious options that bring all the flavors and feels of the season without meat! Try them one or try them all!

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Healthy Cioppino with Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

Up in the Pacific Northwest, we are officially entering the gray monotony of wet, cold, and miserable weather until spring. Which means its time for foods that warm me up! This usually puts what I am craving and what I should eat at a crossroads.

Carb-y creamy things may be delicious, but what about all those veggies I should be eating? Is anyone else feeling big time comfort food cravings as soon as the weather turns??

Instead of choosing between comfort food and health, I’m combining them with this cioppino! Its packed full of veggies, fish, fresh herbs, the most luscious broth, and an amazing secret flavor bomb ingredient: slow roasted cherry tomatoes! They are jammy and umami rich in the best possible way! They add incredible complexity and richness to the soup!

It’s the perfect light – yet filling – way to warm up on these cold wet days!!

Now, to the recipe!

Note: The soup is dairy free and gluten-free. The olive oil crostini is optional for serving!

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My Cuban Spot: Authentic Cuban Cuisine in NYC (FINALLY!)

As a proud Cuban-American, I am obsessed with my culture. It’s crazy that a place I’ve never been to holds such a special place in my heart. Cuban culture is unlike any other. I dream of one day visiting Cuba, but for now, I can only go by the stories I was told as a child and the delicious meals I grew up on, living in a Cuban household in Miami.

After all, food brought us together. Between my abuela’s best arroz con pollo on the weekends, sipping a Materva (Cuban soda) and feasting on the lechon (pork)  during noche buena (Christmas Eve), and pastelitos and croquetas from the Cuban bakery that were present at every one of my birthday parties—I was raised on Cuban cuisine!

Now that I am living in New York City, finding authentic Cuban food has been not just a challenge, but downright impossible. Everyone knows NYC is a melting pot of cultures and offers a plethora of cuisines. The best chefs, restaurants, and food in the world can be found here. But my biggest complaint—and that of any Cuban living in New York—will always be that you can’t find Cuban food like the kind you find in Miami in New York City. The places that try to come close are nowhere near as authentic. Needless to say, I have been disappointed in not being able to find these Cuban bites that I grew up on… until now!

My Cuban Spot
488 Carroll Street (Third Avenue) in Gowanus
Follow the fun on Instagram: @MyCubanSpot

I was skeptical of trying this new spot, given that every “Cuban” place in NY has been nothing short of a disappointment. But when a friend who was visiting NYC from Miami said one of our own (Miami people) opened it up and raved about it, I knew I had to check it out. So I made the trek to Brooklyn, with my Miami crew, to see how authentic this place really was. Continue reading “My Cuban Spot: Authentic Cuban Cuisine in NYC (FINALLY!)”

Lounge Here - East Dallas - Culture Map - The GG List - Girls on Food Blog

Lounge Here in Dallas

When I saw that a hip bartender friend of mine checked into a place called ‘Here’ last year –he intentionally misnamed the place to maintain secrecy– a place with a name that begs the question, “Where?”, I was instantly intrigued. Since then I’ve been to Lounge Here many times, sometimes twice in one week because I love it so much but was hesitant to write about it because I too, wanted to keep this little East Dallas gem all to myself!

Lounge Here
9028 Garland Rd., Dallas, TX 75214
www.theloungehere.com

What’s so special about Lounge Here? For starters, it’s easy to overlook its plain, white exterior among the vibrantly painted shops adjacent to it. Second, it’s nestled in a neighborhood known for housing more mature and laid back residents (think Austin vibe before it was overrun with hipsters!) than flashy Highland Park or Uptown neighborhoods.

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James Beard Foundation Presents Taste America: Los Angeles Dinner 2017

On Friday, October 6th, 2017, Vibiana, the former 19th century Cathedral turned prominent event space in Downtown Los Angeles, was taken over by the national non-profit culinary arts organization, the James Beard Foundation and the best in the LA culinary scene. Taste America, the foundation’s 5th annual ten-city touring event, celebrated prolific stars of the food scene.

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Wilbur Mexicana in Toronto

Wilbur Mexicana is where a group of friends can meet for drinks and a taco or even going out on your own for time alone. This is a spot where anyone and everyone is welcomed, while also offering cheap downtown eats with big flavour. Wilbur Mexicana is named after the chemist that discovered the Scoville scale of spicy heat, Wilbur Scoville. They offer an upscale but casual atmosphere serving up fast cheap eats that you would not expect in the downtown core.

Wilbur Mexicana
552 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M3
http://wilburmexicana.com
https://www.instagram.com/wilburmexicana/

Once you enter the restaurant there is a sign up on the menu board that states, “Wilbur first timers, grab a menu at the door”, when you read this, you look to your left and see some menus hanging off the side rack. Once you figure out what you want to indulge in, you simply order and pay at the cash where you give you a numbered placeholder that contains a photo of a cartoon pepper. If you are dining in, just grab a seat at a table to you prefer and sit pretty; if take out, sit comfy on a stool right next to the cash.

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Nick & G’s in Rancho Santa Fe, CA

It’s not very often that I travel up to North County, but when I heard about Nick & G’s opening in Rancho Santa Fe, I was so excited to make a special trip to try it out! Nick & G’s is serving up Mediterranean/Italian fare with well thought out and creative dishes, killer desserts, and cocktails that pack a punch! The interior of this space is truly beautiful, and they offer live music seven days a week!

Nick & G’s
6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 www.nickandgs.com

 

By the time my date and I arrived we were both starving, so we decided to start with Calamari Gremolata with lemon caper aioli and checca sauce, Chilled Jumbo Shrimp with pickled onion and charred pepper sauce, and Crispy Parmesan Brussels Sprouts with balsamic molasses and toasted Marcona almonds. While all three of these appetizers were very good, I’m going to focus on the star of the evening — the Brussels sprouts. I can’t even explain to you how delicious these were… you are just going to have to take my word and go try them for yourself! I love Brussels sprouts but can rarely eat them at restaurants as they are usually paired with a meat like bacon, so I was so excited to see this fresh take. The Marcona almonds make this dish so interesting, and the balsamic molasses had me basically licking the bowl.

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Tasty Takeaways from Music City Food + Wine Festival

The fifth annual Music City Food + Wine Festival was held this past weekend at Bicentennial Park and it did not disappoint. In an effort to keep up with the ever-evolving culinary scene in the Music City, festival programming was expanded to include a Friday Night Grand Taste highlighting more of our local chefs and restaurateurs. One noticeable change this year was the ratio of booze to food. It was overwhelming and for many quite a challenge to remain sober. In 48 hours, I consumed no less than 10,000 calories. Clearly, I was living my best life. With more than 100 vendors at the festival, I had a hard time culling down my list of favorites. So I chose my top tasty takeaways from the festival.

One of my first stops at the Music City Food+Wine is always Barilla Pasta. Chef Yury Krasilovsky always has a spectacular pasta dish featured. It doesn’t hurt that he lives in Chicago and we have a chance to catch up on our favorite new restaurants in the city. This year Barilla brought their A game and one helluva pasta pan! Below you will see Chef Yury preparing Barilla Penne with Tomato “Passata”, Burrata Cheese and Arugula Pistachio Pesto.

Hot chicken…It’s what Nashville is known for, among other things.  Hattie B’s was serving up their delicious hot chicken (and no, it wasn’t too spicy) on top of a pimento cheese grit cake. Of course, no hot chicken bite is complete without a pickle!  Hattie B’s partnered with a local brewery, Bearded Iris, to pair this bite with their Homestyle or Scatterbrained Beer. I found the Homestyle to be a little less hoppy and more to my liking with this bite.

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Going Retro at The Smoking Gun in San Diego

This past week I had to opportunity to head into San Diego’s Gaslamp Corner to check out one of it’s newest hot spots, The Smoking Gun! I was excited to see this new twist on a neighborhood bar and restaurant, offering up a southern inspired menu, nostalgic details, and old school games! I was immediately charmed with the details that greeted us, from the menu in an old school folder, to the drinks presented in this favorite childhood toy, and especially by the oldies playing all night long!

The Smoking Gun
555 Market St., San Diego, CA, 92101
www.thesmokinggunsd.com

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Isabel’s Whole Roasted Chicken

There’s something about whole roasted chicken with it’s the perfect balance of herbs, spices and lemony aroma! It makes my heart sing and my tummy rumble with joy. It reminds me of all my favorite things; my mother’s house, fall, cozy nights playing cards with my family! Not only is it delicious, it’s also one of those meals that produce little baby meals all week long.

To me, the best part of roasted chicken is the crispy skin. I realize that might gross some people out, but when it’s cooked correctly, it’s delicious. This roasting method gets a nice crisp outside but keeps the meat nice and juicy on the inside. No dry white meat here! You can really use any combo of spices and herbs you want, but I personally love the combo in this recipe.

Serve your beautiful chicken with your favorite sides and you have a delicious dinner for the whole family. My favorite sides are quinoa or rice, steamed broccolini or roasted veggies, and a side salad!

Isabel’s Whole Roasted Chicken

1 organic, free range whole chicken (Mine was about 4 1/2 Lbs)
Tons of fresh rosemary
Two or three large garlic cloves
Lemon
1/2 white onion (optional)
Pink sea salt
Lemon pepper
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Paprika
Olive oil
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F (If your oven runs hot or cold adjust it accordingly).
Pat chicken dry with a paper towel so the skin will get nice a crispy-steam=soggy skin.
The wings will be pointing up when cooking so starting on the bottom season starting with lemon.
After lemon, add olive oil and a good amount of spices.
Flip over and liberally season in the same way.
Stuff the used lemon halves, rosemary, garlic and onion inside the chicken.
Truss the legs of the chicken tightly. (Don’t skip this step!)
Bake covered for 25-30 minutes.
-Tip- be sure that the tin foil or lid doesn’t touch the chicken because when you take it off the skin will come off with it wherever it’s touching.
Baste with juices in the bottom of the pan and season with a little more lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt.
Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until internal temp is 165F and skin is crispy.
-I like the skin almost burnt, in some places, as you can see in this photo. If you want it a little less intense just turn down the heat a bit or “tent” with tin foil. This method allows the direct heat to be blocked without trapping steam, which will uncrisp the skin.
Let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting to keep the juices from running out which will make your chicken dry. 
Once you’ve cooked a whole chicken the possibilities are endless as far as where to go next. Plain old leftovers, cold chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, and the best part…bone broth! The process of bone broth involves slow cooking the chicken bones in water with spices, herbs, and vegetables. This takes the nutrients from the marrow of the bones and the vegetables and makes an extremely nutritious broth that can be eaten alone or made into any soup that calls for chicken broth. Homemade is always best in my book! It adds such amazing flavor and depth to your soups that you’ll never go back to store bought!

New Eugene Italian Restaurant, Pastini, Takes a Pizza My Heart

There are three things I love most in the entire culinary universe: carbs, cheese, and wine. So when my husband, Jake, and I received an invitation to attend the new Pastini location’s soft open it was a no brainer as to what our response would be. It was ‘yes’ in case you were wondering.

Pastini
325 Oakway Rd, Eugene, OR 97401
http://www.pastini.com/

The Chef’s Board

Pastini Pastarias are strictly unique to Oregon with locations in Portland, Corvallis, and the newest spot opening in Eugene. They specialize in authentic Italian dishes using local, fresh ingredients. This location had a warm and comfortable interior juxtaposed with dark industrial elements influenced by the high ceiling of exposed pipes. The casual atmosphere was reflected in the servers’ uniform. Each wore a company t-shirt in what appeared to be a soft cotton, jeans, and converses in either black or red. Having worked in the food industry for years I can appreciate a business who puts their employees comfort as a priority. The displayed artwork was large yet minimal to keep focus on the true masterpieces, the food.

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