Friday, November 28, 2008

Cozy Spot. Good Eats.

We go to Yuma every holiday to visit our parents and this Thanksgiving weekend, I was so happy that we tried a local restaurant instead of a big chain. To me, River City Grill was a pleasant change in routine.

While our mom was quite hesitant to give this place a chance, because of it's location, brother-in-law & I were able to convice her. Parking is street side, just like many of the "houses turned restaurants" in Tempe and Phoenix. I liked the terra cotta painted exterior, the stained glass windows in the front, the tchotchke wall decor and large colorful mural inside. (Note: The front desk is situated within an arms reach from the front door. It's a tight squeeze. Perhaps if they had the doors left open and against the walls, this set up wouldn't be cramped.)

All the "Black Friday" bargain shoppers surely flocked to the new shopping center, so we had the place to ourselves. That was perfect, since we wanted to avoid a long wait & a crowd. We arrived a little after 1pm and they end their lunch hours at 2pm.

Everything on the Lunch and Dinner menu was open for us to order from. Mind you, the waitress explained they are planning on changing the menu soon...So, the food we ate today, might not be on the menu tomorrow.

We ordered for appetizers crab&salmon cakes with spicy Thai peanut sauce and Hummus with grilled pita triangles. The cakes were nicely cooked, not overcooked, lightly crispy on the outside. if you like things uber crispy, then you might not like these. Mom & I enjoyed the little side veggies & peanut sauce. if you come just by yourself. You could make the Crab & Salmon Cakes as a little meal. The texture & taste of the Hummus was just right and fresh and plenty to share with our family of 5.

We also were served slices of warm crusty bread with EVOO/balsamic, that the waitress refilled for us later too. Hubby had a tomato bisque arrive that went with his Bacon Bleu Cheese Kobe burger. The bisque had a nice balsamic drizzle for presentation & great texture and was not overly salted. Hubby liked dredging his bread in it as well.

Our food arrived shortly after we finished off the appetizers. Hubby sliced the burger in half & saved the other for take-home. (We were all starting to feel full before the entrees arrived.) He liked the meat - said it was good, but that he realized he's not a fan of the strong taste of Bleu Cheese. They do offer the Kobe burger with grilled onions instead.
Brother Ray loves pesto pasta, so he ordered the Chicken Dijon with penna pasta & cilantro pesto. He was disappointed with it, because he was invisioning more pesto. In hind sight, I suppose we could have asked for a side of pesto sauce.

BIL tasted a bite of my Indian Curried Chicken and instantly wished he'd ordered that instead. I love all kinds of curry dishes and am not snooty or picky about it. I rather enjoyed my dish, and loved alternating bites with the variety of sides offered with the plate. I read some people's reviews about the veggies being "mushy", but, I found that in this curry dish, I enjoyed the soft yellow squash, onions and zucini slices. I think if they were crunchy or more firm, that it'd be wierd in a curry dish. They did have one piece of brocolli for garnish that was appropriately firm.
Dad on the other hand was turned off by the idea of fruit with the curry, so he ordered the Coconut Curry Shrimp served in a coconut shell instead. This dish gets high points for presentation and for the size & quantity of shrimp. Dad counted 7 large shrimp. Dad tasted the Indian Curry and decided he liked coconut with his curry better.

Mom, the one who was the least excited to eat here, enjoyed her choice of Mustard Crusted Salmon (with the same pesto pasta). She didn't care for the vinegary & salty taste of the olive tepanad, but I happily ate it for her. Mom said the salmon preperation was nice/cooked just right. She's not a fan of heavy dishes, not really a big pasta eater, and would have loved veggies, so for those reasons she still likes the grilled salmon at Red Lobster. There are several other Salmon entrees to choose from here, including a Wild Grilled Salmon, which perhaps she would have been a closer comparison for mom to try.

Overall, our experience was above average for local small (non-chain) Yuma restaurants and give this place a thumbs up from each of us. I'm already eyeing the spicy cajun Seafood Gumbo, the Pistachio Crusted Salmon with goat cheese ravioli, black beans & chipotle sauce. On our next holiday in Yuma, we'd eat here again for sure!
River City Grill
600 W. 3rd St.
Yuma, Arizona

River City Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our family started off this morning watching CNN's coverage as we stood around the counter and ate humble pandesal sandwhiches.
For this simple meal, mom made over-easy eggs, sliced & toasted pandesal (from San Diego), and placed cold slices of Honey Baked Ham (that my BIL Ray brought from Mesa).
This Thanksgiving morning, I'm happy to be with family, but am feeling somber and in prayer for those who're being terrorized in Mumbai since yesterday. Please keep the families there in your hearts in the coming days and pray for peace.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

MarMars' Spam Musubi Recipe

For those that cringe at the thought of spam anything, then this post is not for you, so go away. :) But for those that know how addicting spam musubi can be, stay and drool with me. A few months back, my friends & I were in awe of these breaded spam musubi brought to Ryan & Blenda's baby shower. (I can't recall who made them, but I'll update that bit of info, when I find out.) So, Let's just say, the musubi tray was wiped out in the blink of an eye. I was lucky to literally lunge across the sink & grab the last piece. Oh yes, I had no shame. That spam musubi had my name on it. The spam slices were lightly breaded (probably with Panko) & fried; then wrapped neatly in blocks of white sticky rice and seaweed, then cut halfway on the diagonal; drizzled lightly with a teriyaki type sauce. The crunch texture was the perfect contrast to the soft rice and chewy seaweed. These hefty handfuls were so simple, so yummy, and so perfectly compact. And they left a warm fond memory on all our bellies.

Since then, our groups of friends have gobbled up two more variations of this spam musubi: recently Nelly & Ninette made a batch for Mia's birthday party, non-fried, but the spam was marinated in a soy based mixture...oooh yeah. And when it was my turn to cook for When's d Night Dinner. That time, Ron rigged up his own sushi mold by cutting off the bottom of Spam can, and using a slice of spam to compress the rice down. Worked out pretty good. But, wasn't so neat and even though we pinched down the edges of the can, it was still a bit dangerous sticking our hands into the can. Thankfully, all digits were left intact.
This Saturday, Ron had a hankering for Spamsilog: spam, rice with 2 over easy eggs for breakfast. So of course, I obliged and fed my man exactly that. But, I had other plans for my three slices of spam...I'm sure it's obvious what I had in mind.

And thanks to Ninette, my Spam Musubi turned out perfectly shaped with the brand new plexi-musibi maker. It's so pretty! It cost $11 and I think she picked it up at either Lee Lee's or Mekong Plaza. I love it!

My version is basically a combination of all varieties of Spam Musubi that we've enjoyed the last couple months: Marinated spam, breaded and fried spam, plus the extra touches of scrambled egg and pandesal bread crumbs! (Yes, pandesal bread crumbs, baby. I didn't finish the dozen Manila Bakery pandesal, so, rather than let it rot in the trash bin, I gave it a second life. It's final life ended in my backyard compost bin, courtesy of my buddy Myrna, whose passionate about many things, composting is not one of them, which turned out good for me.)

***Disclaimer, I don't tend to follow recipes, so I think it's funny that I'm posting a recipe here, since I didn't really follow any exact measurements. I just taste, things while I cook, adding more seasoning as I go. Hence, my's really a these measurements are guestimations. Good luck!

MarMars' Spam Musubi

Spam Marinade
6T Soy Sauce
2T Mirin
2T Vinegar
2T Peanut Oil
2t Sesame Seeds

Whisk all these up.

Slice the spam to the desired thickness. I used the spam slicer (love this! thanks rod!) Marinade the spam for about 5 minutes. Pan fry the spam 'til nice & crispy. Dry on paper towels.

Breaded Spam
1 can of Spam
2-3 Hard Pandesal (crumbled up) - I bought mine from Manila Bakery, but didn't eat them fast enough. So, instead of trashing them, I figured I'd make it into bread crumbs...and whatever I didn't use went into my compost bin.
2 cups Panko breading (just depends, you may need to add more as you go)
2 egg whites (whisked)
2 cups flour

Mix the Pandesal crumbs with the Panko breading. Lightly cover each fried spam with flour. Quickly dredge in the whisked egg whites, then quickly coat in the Pandesal/Panko mixture. And fry until browned. Set aside on paper towel.

Scrambled Eggs
2 whole eggs
3 T Mirin

Whisk the eggs & mirin thoroughly. Pan fry on low heat. The finished scrambled egg should be very thin. Set aside.

Sticky Rice
1c White Rice (recommend Calrose)I had Jasmine on hand.
2T Sweet Saki (optional)
1T Sugar (optional)
1T Furikake (optional)

Mix the above ingredients together. Set aside.

And, of course you'll need a bag of Nori. I just eyeballed to make sure the Nori equaled the length of the musubi and made the Nori as long as I'd need to wrap around the musubi. So, it will vary, depending on how much rice you like, if you do a single layer or double layer of rice.

Time to Assemble the Musubi

You will need the musubi mold

Or if you want to go MacGyver style, carefully remove the bottom of the Spam can. Use a nose head plyer and pinch down any sharp edges. On our first attempt, we did this...but still got nicked. So, thank you Ninette for the $11 upgrade!

Here's a series of photos showing how I assembled the musubi:

To seal the nori, just dap lightly a wet fingertip along one edge of the nori, then fold. And gobble it up, like me, I ate as I finished wrapping.

Now, if you'd like to try out another Spam Musubi recipe, by all means go for it, there's a multitude of ways to personalize your own Spam Musubi experience. Here's just a few that you might like to try by: Cooking Cute, Rashad Maiden, What's Cooking America, Kathy YL Chan, and a YouTube vid by Single Guy Chef showing the macguiver style use of a can of spam as the mold. This last method is not recommended for the accident prone chef.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh Romeo...

Soup of the Day (sounded really yummy, but passed on it, since it too was creamy like my dish…fortunately, hubby did let me enjoy a spoonful . Yum! Light soupy cream, red bell peppers…a little touch of spice, not salty…was there meat in it? I can’t recall.)

$9.50 - Feta Dill Fritters: A blend of gyros meat, feta cheese, fresh dill, spinach and pine nuts. Served with yogurt sauce. The three of us, all had our eyes on this and it was also our waiters favorite appetizer. He wisely suggested that one appetizer would be good for us…These were lovely every bite: Crunchy on the outside, warm and savory on the inside. The yogurt sauce brightened up the slightly heavy appetizer and made you think you could eat more.

$9 regular price, but had it as a side to my entrée. Bleu Cesar Salad: Tomatoes, spring onions, red peppers and capers, tossed with bleu cheese, Italian dressing on romaine lettuce with homemade croutons. Anchovies. I don’t mine had Anchovies, but this little salad was clean and simply delicious every bite. But, by now, I was starting to get full and worried, I wouldn’t have room for my entrée and dessert!

$15 - Penne Carbonara: Ham and bacon sautéed with red and green bell peppers in creamy cheese sauce with penne pasta . This was the birthday boy’s selection and yet again, I was able to sample a yummy mouthful. I’m a believer in that if the dish has bacon in it, then it’s going to be good. In addition to the bacon, the sauce was my favorite. It was creamy, but not too heavy, which is contrary to the Carbonara I’ve had a few times before. Again, not a bad thing. This was so good the next day too. Plenty of left overs.

$18 - Tortellini Kalypso: Crab meat, asparagus, red peppers, garlic, onions with tricolor cheese tortellini in creamy white wine sauce. This was my dish and it’s a beauty. Colorful pasta and veggies and you wouldn’t know it by looking at it, but every bite, had a large chunk of real crab meat. That alone made this dish a winner for me. While the price tag looks steep, it’s worth it, because this dish was deep. I was thouroughly bursting, but was surprised to see I barely made a dent.

$ 17 - Garlic Pesto Chicken: Chicken breast sautéed with roasted garlic, pine nuts and olive oil in basil pesto cream. My brother-in-law Ray wanted to test out what his favorite dish would taste like here at Euro Café. He liked it a lot, but wasn’t feeling the extra creaminess of the sauce…he also preferred the lighter cream sauce of the Carbonara dish.

Euro Café doesn’t have a set Dessert Menu because the selection varies day to day, depending on how long it takes them to make. While my two companions, were too stuffed to stand, I gleefully mozied over to the dessert counter and ogled at all the goodies behind the glass. I finally decided upon two truffles and a slice of three-layered cheesecake labeled “Fantasy” as an ode to my hubby’s favorite online sports pastime. I let our waiter know that the three of would be sharing the desserts and walked back excitedly to our table. The desserts were served a few moments later, but the waiter teased, by placing a truffle in front of Ron & Ray and the huge cheesecake slice in front of me! LOL! We shared, honest! Ok, well, I finished up the cake…and the chocolate drizzles…As if that wasn’t enough, Ray, ordered a Baklava Cheesecake to-go! He told me later, that it was goooooood. Judging from what we ate that night, I believe him.

Pecan (Fantasy) Cheesecake (I think this was about $5 a slice)
Chocolate Powdered Truffle (This was about $1.50)
Chocolate Ganache Pecan Truffle (This was a little more than $1.50)
Baklava Cheesecake (Don’t know, Ray got this to take home.)
Refillable Drinks:
Wine? (Ray had a glass…I can’t remember what kind.)
Passion fruit tea $2.25 (just a regular flavored tea, good.)

Needless to say, we will go back to Romeo’s Euro Café several more times.

Heritage Court
207 North Gilbert Road

Romeo's Euro Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No more treats?!

Nah, there's plenty of treatin' to be had after Halloween. In my neck of the wood, instead of having to hunt around for it, my friends are bringing them to my door! Have I died and gone to heaven? Maybe not, but friends and food are always a good thing.

First treat bearers, I have to thank, are Ray and Christina...who came by with two huge pink boxes! I knew those pink boxes could be up to no good. And indeed they held some devilishly sweet treats from the local donut shop, Bosa Donuts. They had with them a dozen assorted donuts, some sprinkled, some cake, some chocolate, some glazed. But my eyes zoomed in on two donuts that bring back childhood memories, of cinnamon on my mom's apron and the ring of the bell, as early morning customers stopped in to my family run "Lola Lly's Donutery".

The creations that mom and dad lined their trays with every morning sure could make a girl swoon. But, my first two donut affairs were staring back at me inside those pink Bosa boxes: Cinnamon Crumb and Boston Cream. Oh, my, oh my...I gobbled up the Boston faster than you could say "Lola Lly's Donutery". The donut bread was yummy and soft and filled with oh so good creamy goodness. The Cinnamon Crumb met a similar fate the next day. Unfortunately, I must watch my donut intake, another nuisance of poly cystic ovary syndrome, so I sent the rest of the lovelies to work with my hubby Ron. Lucky co-workers.

This is not the first taste of Bosa, I've had. I went with another friend Ninette, one day, just on her craving for it. This is small mom & pop biz with a drive-through and inside a couple of booths that seat up to 4. We were pleased to learn they also serve bagels, icecream and smoothies. But we focused on donut holes and french cruellers. All soft and yummy. I can't recall what smoothie I had, but I do remember I liked it, but with the combination of donuts and was a bit too mush sweet for me. On the other hand, Little Mia downed a near dozen donut holes! The customer service was friendly and prompt. The food was yummy, fresh and affordable. Simple decor, a little outdated, but it reminds me of my parent's donut shop back in Virginia, so it felt like home.

Bosa Donuts

1016 N Arizona Avenue
Chandler, AZ 85225
(480) 899-7134

Bosa Donuts on Urbanspoon

~ . ~

The 2nd treat bearer that I have to thank is Myrna! She came to drop off Mr. Marley for some hang out time, while she went to do errands...but before she left she revealed a very dubious white (unfortunately styro) container. Can't judge a book by it's cover, right? So, I opened it immediately because I hadn't eaten lunch and it was already 3pm...inside were two half slices of cake that I knew from looking at them...were Better Than Sex Cake Classic and Chocolate Ecstacy!!!!! Myrna & I shared a slice of BTS cake Classic before and the memories of it's moist sweetness made my eyeballs bulge out of their sockets. So, it was without question, skip lunch. Eat desert first! I wanted "Ecstacy" first and plunged my fork into it's moist darkness: Chocolate Cake, Coffee, Coffee Liqour, Chicolate Mocha, Sweetened Raspberry, Topped with Whipped Crream and Shaved Chocolate. YUM! The raspberry seeds, may be off-putting to some, but, I didn't mind the little bits.

BTSCC is located in a quaint little shopping center, off the main intersection of Arizona Ave and Pecos, just south of Downtown Chandler's town center. Park behind the deli, walk underneath the little vine covered arches and follow the path to the left. That's where you'll hit the spot where they make cake that espouses to be better than sex. Now that of course is a topic I won't go into too much detail. But, I will say, that take a bite of their cake, and you may elicit an ooooh! or an aaaaahhh!
Marely sure wanted a taste, but sadly for him, my BTS cake leftovers were saved for my hubby. I am after all a one man kinda gal.

Oh, don't forget you can get a $1.99 BTSCC slice, if you print out their > coupon <

Better Than Sex Cake Cafe

241 S Oregon St

Chandler, AZ 85225


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