26 December 2008

Abuelo's. The Mexican Embassy of my Heart.

One of the restaurants I always look forward to eating at when home in OK is Abuelo's. I used to go there when I was going to school in Norman, and in fact, it was our restaurant of choice for me and my friends (and families) after our law school graduation ceremony. They opened the one in Tulsa sometime in the last few years, and it's so great to go there and get the turkey platter of mexican food!!!

As you may know, gentle reader, I am a fan of the combo plate. I like having different tastes all on one plate, so I can try a variety of things on the menu at one time. I blame this love that shall not be named on the Tour of Italy at the Olive Garden that rocked my youth. It was the ultimate combo plate, and back in the day, it was my hands-down favorite.

Abuelo's is one of those places that doesn't disappoint. The food is always solid. This year, I went for a smaller combo platter, the Sonora...

It's positively petite!!!!!!! This lovely combo was a shredded beef burrito covered in chile con queso, a tamale, a cheese enchilada, beans, and papas con chile. Yum. The tamale was not as good as the ladies who make them in the back of the store in Toronto, but it was pretty good. The burrito was filling, the beans and potatoes where creamy and mild.

I really enjoy going here, and my family likes it as well. It's a win-win. My brother ate the steak with enchiladas and I tried a bite of his steak... oh my goodness, it was crazy flavourful. If you are in Tulsa and looking for reliable tex-mex, this is the place for you.

Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy on Urbanspoon

Going out for Dinner.

One of the things I love about going home to OK is eating out at restaurants that are different from what we have in Toronto. This trip has been no exception.

When my best friend drove up from Norman for the day, I knew we needed to try something totally different. We went for lunch at Kilkenny's Irish Pub. And I am glad we did! The place is fun, really small and really cold when we were there, a little dark inside like a proper pub, and a good selection of Irish specialties and your average American pub food.

Living in Toronto, I have come to miss the great American hamburger. Hamburgers in Canada by and large aren't great. Well, they aren't what I like, which is really just a patty made with nice meat, salt and pepper. Walking into the lion's den of pub food, I had to go for the hamburger with Irish rashers and Irish cheddar. Yum.

Oh yeah. The fries were stupendous. I mean, really really really good. One of the best french fry experiences I have had in ages. Really good. Oh yeah, did I mention, the fries were great! The hamburger was solid. The meat was well-seasoned, it was nicely cooked, but it was a little too wet for my liking...

You can see how wet the bun is. Now I know for some people, that's a total plus, but I am not one of those people. It grosses me out, but the hamburger all in all was really good. The bacon was fantastic, and the half pound or quarter pound option means you can have the amount you want. (I had the half pound. I ain't no fair flower. Ha ha.)

My BFF ordered the Irish Breakfast.

...with scrambled eggs. I am not a fan of the scramble, especially if I am not making it myself. This came with irish bacon and sausage, soda bread, black pudding, grilled tomatoes and grilled mushrooms. Or I think it came with grilled mushrooms because I don't see any in that picture.

Anyway, the bill was reasonable, we each had a soft drink (pepsi- blech), but it was a great meal and a nice place to slow down and chit chat.

The restaurant is down on Cherry Street (which has really had quite the renaissance in the last year, it seems). Lots of good stuff down there. I really enjoyed the pub and would recommend it!

Kilkenny's Irish Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Christmas Dinner!!!

I love Christmas dinner. At our house, it's all tradition. This year, the only new thing on this plate was the peas. Oh, and that David pulverized the onion and celery in the stuffing. That was a change that didn't really work.

G didn't make it to OK this year. Her flight from TO made it to Chicago and then all flights here were cancelled. After much panic and several hours in the airport, she was told that she could get back to TO, which meant a day of travel to Chicago and back. Nightmare.

But Christmas must go on, and dinner is no exception! Mom and I got the turkey ready and in the oven, and then everything just sort of clicked into place... I made devilled eggs...

And stuffed mushrooms...

Yum. The mushrooms are a holdover from my University days. My group of friends and I used to drive to Dallas and eat dinner at this place called Crescent City Cafe. We would always share an order of the stuffed mushrooms. I think this is a fairly close reproduction of those...

Crescent City Mushrooms

Whipped cream cheese
bacon (or 'real' bacon bits)
salt and pepper

You mix the cream cheese, chives and bacon with salt and pepper to taste while the oven heats up to 350. Take the stem out of the mushrooms, clean well. Fill with cream cheese mixture and place in a pan with sides. Pour in a tiny bit of water, place uncovered in oven for approximately 25 minutes depending on the size of the 'shrooms.


I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday! I've definitely been blessed with a wonderful year and excellent family and friends. I know that my blog has its ups and downs, but I really love doing it and enjoy going back and reading through all the old posts. I am back in Toronto on Sunday and am looking forward to New Years and the NEW YEAR 2009 DIET. OH NO!!! Lots of fun blog time then, for sure.


24 December 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!!!

I am sitting at home in OK, having just purchased a Rogers PVR for a good price on Future Shop's Boxing Day Sale, which is weird since it's not yet Christmas but the Boxing Day sale has already begun, and watching the Santa Clause with my family (probably the best Christmas movie ever made). I wanted to wish everyone a very happy and peaceful Christmas...

And give a big Happy Hannukah to G who got snowed out of her trip here and is now Home Alone. (OH NO!)

Food to follow, as always...

19 December 2008

Ho ho ho!

Well, it's that time of the year, isn't it?

Look at my dinner from the other night. Spag and homemade meatballs. Those 'balls were good. Real good.

And when I open up the mail and what do I find but my dinner on the cover of the new Gourmet Magazine! I am channeling something out here...

Today was my last day of work until after the Christmas holidays! I have the heady mix of relief, nervousness over what's going wrong in my absence, and headiness about having an entire block of time that is mostly my own. Honestly, right now, it's just making me sleepy!

In case I don't manage to blog while on vacation, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

14 December 2008

Jean-Talon Market -- Montreal.

During our recent trip to Montreal, G and I went to the Jean-Talon Market with some friends. As you may know, I am a lover of all things 'food market', so this was a real treat! We browsed and snacked and oohed and ahed over all the wonderful things on offer. And, I have to be honest, I bemoaned the fact that I was leaving the market to go straight to the train station to take a train back to TO, so it meant that I wasn't leaving with lots of goodies. Dang it.

But I digress.

Yep. It's that time of the year, pumpkin time, and I didn't think it made sense for me to take a whole pumpkin home on the train, so these babies stayed right where were they were...

And lots of eggs. Our friend P bought some Guinea eggs, I think, but I've not heard how they turned out. It was an amazing assortment.

Random shots:

A great time had by all. I highly recommend it.

G and the Amazing Slow Stewed Meat.

Recently, while browsing the meat aisle at Whole Foods, I came across some short ribs that were on sale. Now, I don't like to eat meat on the bone, and had no idea what to do with such a thing, but I figured that G could sort it out. So I bought them and came home and promptly put them in the freezer.

Turns out, G had an inspiration! After our delightful taco experience (see below), she really wanted to make something Mexican inspired, and found this great recipe at fronterakitchens.com: Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Poblanos and Herbs. And man was it fantastic!

Yeah. I know. It was even better than it looks. We heated up a TON of small corn tortilla shells, warmed through some canned pinto beans, and made amazing tacos with all that delicious and tasty meat.

G really is fearless when it comes to trying new things in the kitchen, and I for one am thrilled no end. This was such a great meal and while G made the viddles, let's be fair... had I not bought the short ribs on crazy sale at Whole Foods, it never would have happened. So yeah, back to me. I rule.

Chinese Takeaway ... or is it?!

G and I have made a concerted effort to not eat at restaurants as much as we used to, and probably the biggest part of that means not ordering takeaway as much. I used to love to have dinner delivery. But then, it started getting really expensive. And taking a really long time. And coming to the house lukewarm. And this is across the board. There was nothing that we were ordering that seemed to really hit the spot, so we've made an effort to just stop doing it.

But that means using up leftovers and cleaning out our overly stocked freezer. And the goal is to do this while still having some fun dinners that are fast, easy, and tasty. Case in point? Our chinese "fakeaway".

This dinner was a cinch to put together! We had some frozen dumplings in the freezer that we bought at TNT. We cooked them in a little water and oil from frozen in our new giant chicken fryer (yeah air miles!) slowly, and then turned up the heat, added some oil, and fried them up. made a quick sauce. And took some leftover rice, added some veg, sauces, and a scrambled egg, and voila! Fried rice! (I use a variation of Nigella Lawson's easy fried rice recipe in the most excellent cookbook, Feast.)

Who needs delivery?!

13 December 2008

New Stat Counter.

I just installed a new stat counter! Good times are afoot. More food related posts to come!

07 December 2008

Hair of the Dog.

I have been really craving a proper brunch lately, and there just hasn't been time enough to squeeze it in. So this morning, despite my cold and the extreme cold outside, G and I decided to bundle up and trek out to the Hair of the Dog for brunch.

I am so glad we did!!!

Oh yes. I had the Breakfast Skillet. Yum. The Skillet is an amazing pile of home fries cooked with peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and ham with cheese put on top and baked off then topped with a perfectly cooked poached egg. Oh my goodness, this was so delicious. I mean, really really good.

Sadly, G ordered an omelet that was too dry, but she ate most of it anyway.

The weird thing about the Hair of the Dog is that when we are in there, it's like you are in the Martian timeslip. It's so strange. I don't know why, but the few times we have eaten there, when we walk out of the restaurant, it's like you've been in another world for hours. It's very strange.

But I guess that can be a good thing, as well.

Oh well... head there and have a delicious brunch and lose some time.

Meals fit for a kid.

Yeah, sometimes you just need to have a junky dinner that hits the spot. This meal last week was one of those.

It is exactly what you see. We ate hot dogs (all beef, healthier version cooked in the oven) on multi-grain hot dog rolls, with aged cheddar and tomato chutney. On the side, we had oven baked fries with US Heinz ketchup.

It's not something that I would eat often, but on a cold stressful day, it really hit the spot.

Just Like Momma Makes!

My Mom makes the best fried chicken. I've said this before. But honestly, it's really really good. Having a daughter who is extremely squeamish about eating meat on the bones (*cough*), Mom started making boneless chicken breasts for us instead. I guess it's like chicken nuggets, but not rubbish, and not crazy breaded.

So tonight, I channeled my Mom and made fried chicken with cream gravy, mashed potatoes and corn. It almost went off without a hitch. We made frozen corn, but it had a really manky taste, so that wasn't going to fly at all. G found a can of creamed corn in the cupboard, it was okay.

Isn't that lovely?!

The chicken is pretty straightforward, and I am going to give you a recipe for it because, if you are squeamish about bones, this is for you... enjoy fried chicken again.

Mom's Most Deluxe Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy

You need:

Two boneless chicken breasts
vegetable oil

1. Take the chicken and rinse and pat dry. Cut into large chunks.

Salt and pepper the chicken.

2. Get a bowl and put some flour in the bowl. Generously salt and pepper the flour. I added a little smoked paprika, as well.

3. Heat a large skillet suitable for frying on the stove with enough oil to just cover the pan.

4. Dredge the chicken in the flour and make sure it's really coated.

5. Once the oil is properly heated, add the chicken pieces to the oil. Let cook until crispy, then turn and keep cooking.

6. When the chicken is brown and crispy all over, place on paper towels on a clean plate. Put in the oven that has been heated to warm but is now turned off.

7. Drain a good chunk of the oil, just leave about a tablespoon full. Take some of your flour and put in the pan over the heat. Keep stirring it, adding flour as needed, until it looks like a proper roux. Keep cooking for about a minute so that the flour taste is cooked off. Add milk until the pan is covered in milk. Keep stirring until it sets up. Add more milk if necessary.


See, how easy was that?!

It's really dead easy and it's such a wonderful way to enjoy chicken that isn't crazy breaded or just really greasy or full of bones. It's a great dinner and I would like to thank my Mom for fixing my chicken woes. (I used to add way too much oil and too little flour. I didn't realize it until Mom and I made it together and I paid more attention.)

Random Eats.

Sometimes, we just end up having a good meal that comes together with little planning. Well, in reality, we often have a meal that comes about with little planning, but again, sometimes it just works.

Take for instance this lovely egg and cheese sandwich with tomato chutney...

A lovely montreal-style bagel (the only kind to eat, really) and some five year old aged cheddar with a fried egg and some Baxter's tomato chutney (the only kind to eat, really). Fully satisfying, delicious and filling, and not a plan in sight.

To carry on the egg theme, we also recently had a kitchen sink fry up.

More fried eggs. Some Heinz Baked Beans (okay, I won't say it again, but they really ARE the only kind to eat), grilled tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms. Yum. Yum. Yum.

So not fancy, but quick dinners that are really delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these meals...


One of the best things about living in Toronto is that there are people living here from all over the world, many of whom bring parts of their culture with them.

I was reminded of this recently when making a visit to the Kensington Market. I was buying peppers and whatnot for my Latin inspired US Thanksgiving dinner, and we stopped into Perola's to buy the goods.

Perola's is a specialty food store with a great little twist, a table in the back where there are always ladies making some delicious food. They used to make papusas, but have since moved onto tacos. G and I poopooed the tacos the first time we went. Please, we smugly said, TACOS? No, thanks. Well, jokes on us and we now fully admit that we are dumber than we look.

On our trip to buy fresh chilis of different varieties, we decided that our stomachs growling was not conducive to a day of food shopping, so we headed back to the back to see what was on order. A woman dressing her tacos began telling us to order these, that they would be some of the best food we'd ever had. She went into a story telling us about how this was how she ate in Mexico and that there's nothing better than these tacos covered in the onion and cilantro mix then drizzled with lime. We were convinced.

I ordered three tacos and a tamale.

It didn't seem like a lot of food. But it was. And it wasn't cheap (about $13) but it was more than worth it...So we placed an order (in the wrong place, but what can you do?!), pulled up a chair next to the canned goods (there are no tables or proper places to sit and eat in this establishment), so it's a fight for the chairs near the ice cooler, but it's all good. The food is fast and the folks are friendly.

First up, the tamale...

Wow. It was amazing. The filling was tender, the tamale coating was savory, the salsa was spciy and the white cheese/sour cream sauce was really unbelievably good.

Then came out my tacos. The woman who was fixing her tacos told us that we had to get the pork because they were the best... and so I did. G got the chicken. The pork tacos looked amazing...

They are soft corn tortillas, filled with just meat and cheese, and then grilled for a few minutes per side. The pork was tender, and really wet, I had sauce dripping down my hand, soaking the four little napkins I had, making me beg for some of G's. But man alive, it was a most amazing lunch!!! I absolutely loved my tacos and can't wait to go back!


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