Category Archives: Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods)

Restaurants/Foods/Food Products

Foodie Friday Giveaway: Mary’s Gone Crackers Love Cookies!

Hi Everyone!! So it’s that time again – Friday giveaways! Wooohoo! These giveaways have seriously been so much fun to do – I love hearing from all of you – thank you so much for entering the last giveaway! We had over 40 entries which is awesome!! 🙂 So that begs the question – who won the 479 Popcorn giveaway?

Congratulations goes to…. Small Footprints!!

Small Footprints – I just need your address – and you will be receiving your very own Globetrotter Sampler Pack in the mail! Thanks again to all of you who entered – I appreciate your interest and support more than you know 🙂 And now all of you have a chance to win again – with the awesome cookies from Mary’s Gone Crackers!

Mary’s Gone Crackers probably have some of the best tasting and healthiest cookies around. And yes – cookies can be healthy and still taste amazing! Mary’s Gone Crackers creates gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free (so basically allergy free!) cookies made with all organic ingredients, no hydrogenated oils, no trans fats, non-GMO, and only low-glycemic sweeteners!

You might be thinking – do the cookies even taste good? Are they “flavor-free” too? Absolutely not! These cookies are delicious. You can’t even tell how healthy they are for you – they are super moist, totally satisfy your sweet tooth, and are less dense than most gluten free products I’ve tried.

Oh and in addition to being really yummmmy, they’re also guilt free too! 2 cookies weigh in at around 120-140 calories, and even have a bit of fiber and protein because of all the “good for you” ingredients!

Mary’s Gone Crackers were kind enough to send me TWO boxes of their delicious cookies to try: The Chocolate Chip and the N’Oatmeal Raisin flavors. The Chocolate Chip is slightly crispy – kind of reminds me of the perfect cookie to dunk in milk, and the N’Oatmeal Raisin is soft and chewy.

How good do those cookies look?? And one lucky reader will WIN two boxes of Mary’s Gone Cracker’s Cookies: the Chocolate Chip and the N’Oatmeal Raisin!

Now the important part:

To Enter: You can enter in one of three ways –

  1. Subscribe to The Picky Eater via RSS or via email
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@pickyeaterblog)
  3. Like The Picky Eater on Facebook

Leave a comment letting me know which option above you chose, and I’d love to hear what your favorite cookie flavor is as well! Note – if you already are a subscriber, follower, or like The Picky Eater on Facebook, just leave a comment indicating that – it will count as one entry :)

For Extra Entries:

  • + 1 Entry if you share this post on Facebook or Twitter
  • + 2 Entries if you invite 5 or more of your friends to like The Picky Eater on Facebook!

This giveaway will close on Thursday, December 16th at 5:00pm PST. I will be selecting the winner at random (via random.org) and will contact them via email. I’ll be announcing the winner on Friday, December 17th when I launch my next giveaway!

Be sure to enter – it’s super easy and these yummy-licious cookies are totally worth it! :)

 

 

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Thanksgiving in Portland and Dinner at The Farm Cafe!

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and the weather is nice and sunny (not like it is here – super rainy and gloomy!) So since we can’t really do anything outside, I figured it would be a good time to write about our trip to Portland for Thanksgiving. While we usually spend Thanksgiving in the Bay, this year we decided to visit my sister/brother in law and our nephews – we left Tuesday night and got back late last night – and had an awesome trip!

One of the best things about Portland is the FOOD – and this trip was no exception. Other than the amazing food my sister (technically she’s my sister-in-law, but I really just think of her as my sis, so we’ll just call her that 🙂 ) cooked, we also ate at the coolest restaurant the night we got in – The Farm Cafe!

The Farm Cafe actually reminded me of a less-fancy Chez Panisse – and they actually have a very similar mission: organic, locally sourced food, totally veggie friendly and super flavorful dishes!

We were pretty hungry when we got there, so we ordered a few appetizers right away (and I ordered a soup for myself hehe). First up: The Williams Baked Brie which is made to order and comes out melty, cheesy and piping hot! The brie was served with warm, toasted sugar, roasted hazelnuts, bosc pears, and a fresh baguette. It almost felt like dessert – but in a good way!

We also ordered the Hummus Plate which came with an antipasto olive mix, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, and warm Greek flatbread. The hummus was sprinkled with sesame seeds and tasted really fresh – like it was made right at our table!

And the soup I got for myself was the “soup of the day” and was a white bean soup served with fresh crostini. The soup was super flavorful (even though it was simple) – it definitely had some garlic and good crushed black pepper in it, was very warming, and had a creamy / chunky texture to it which was just perfect.

For our entrees, I think most of us ended up getting one of two things: the first was a Herb Crusted Tofu with Mushrooms Marsala which was served with garlicky mashed potatoes and a crimini mushroom marsala (the sauce was divine!)

And the second favorite entree of the night: the Butternut Squash Stuffed Ravioli – handmade ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, ricotta and pecorino cheeses, caramelized onion, and crushed hazelnuts, and was drizzled with a brown butter sauce.

And of course, we couldn’t pass up dessert! We ordered two for the table – first: The Sunken Chocolate Souffle with Coffee Ice Cream

The souffle was dense and had the richness of dark chocolate, the center of the cake was molten and melty, and the coffee ice cream was a perfect complement to the warm cake 🙂 Our second dessert was absolutely amazing too – The Marscarpone Cheesecake  with Pecans and Dulce de Leche Sauce…

O.M.G. Seriously – the most amazing cheesecake ever!! The cheesecake itself was fluffy and light, had the hint of vanilla and was baked on a shortbread sweet crumb crust. Toasted pecans were delicately placed on top, and the caramel sauce was to die for! All in all, an amazing meal that was the perfect start to a great weekend 🙂 I can’t believe our trip to Portland is already over! It totally flew by – we had a wonderful time and a great Thanksgiving.

We got back late last night, and have spent most of today doing laundry, errands, and groceries (to prep for the awesome dinner I’m making tonight – Corn & Quinoa Chowder! but more on that later). I’m definitely trying to enjoy the rest of the long weekend as much as possible (and we’re seeing Harry Potter tomorrow which I am so excited about!)

Stay tuned for a post on the dinner I’m making tonight, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway today as well – you only have until tomorrow at noon! 🙂

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Foodie Friday Giveaway: Royal Hawaiian Honey!

Hi Everyone! So as promised, today marks the first ever Foodie Giveaway from The Picky Eater! I’ve been working with the folks at Royal Hawaiian Honey and I’m really excited to share their products with you!

What makes Royal Hawaiian so unique is the fact that their honeys are RAW, ORGANIC, their company is family owned and the honey is made in Hawaii. The fact that the honey is raw and unfiltered really is a special quality: because the honey isn’t heated, the naturally occurring enzymes and antioxidants remain beneficial and “alive” in the food. Royal Hawaiian has a few different varieties of honey, and they were kind enough to let me sample their Raw Macadamia Nut Blossom – which is seriously the most amazing honey I’ve ever tasted.

The rawness is definitely apparent – the honey has a more “rustic” texture and is bursting with flavor. The Macadamia Nut variety is a little darker in color than your traditional honey, is super rich and nutty. It’s sweet but not overpowering – and you can use it in anything! My two favorites so far have been in oatmeal (of course), and on a slice of toast spread with almond butter with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of walnuts on top.

I’d highly recommend trying this product (their other flavors are listed here) – you won’t be disappointed and you can feel good about eating a “healthy” form of sugar 🙂 And of course, one lucky reader will win a bottle of the Raw Macadamia Nut Blossom honey for free!

Now, here’s the important part…

To Enter: You can enter in one of three ways –

  1. Subscribe to The Picky Eater via RSS or via email
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@pickyeaterblog)
  3. Like The Picky Eater on Facebook

Leave a comment letting me know which option above you chose, and if you have any favorite recipes that use honey leave that in your comment as well! Note – if you already are a subscriber, follower, or like The Picky Eater on Facebook, just leave a comment indicating that – it will count as one entry 🙂

For Extra Entries:

  • + 1 Entry if you share this post on Facebook or Twitter
  • + 2 Entries if you invite 5 or more of your friends to like The Picky Eater on Facebook!

Since it’s the holiday weekend, I’ll be leaving this giveaway open a bit longer than I will in the future. Giveaway closes: Sunday, November 28th at noon PST. I will be selecting the winner at random and will contact them via email. I’ll be announcing the winner next Friday, Dec 3 along with my next Foodie Friday Giveaway!

Be sure to enter – it’s super easy and this honey is totally worth it! 🙂

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Amazing dinner at Chez Panisse!

On Monday, my amazing husband passed his oral exam for his PhD. After 3.5 years of studying, he finally moved from PhD student to PhD candidate! Hooray! 🙂 So, to celebrate, I decided to surprise him with dinner at Chez Panisse, which is seriously one of the most amazing restaurants in the Bay Area.

For those of you who don’t know, Chez Panisse is an all organic, locally sourced restaurant with an inventive menu that changes daily. Alice Waters is a pioneer in her field – and I greatly respect her for the work she’s trying to do for the school lunch program and The Edible Schoolyard (but that’s for another post 🙂 ). My husband was obviously super excited when he heard that we were going to Chez Panisse. I’m not usually good at keeping surprises for months at a time (I had to make this reservation months in advance!) But this time I did – which made it even more of a surprise for him 🙂 Our reservations were for the cafe upstairs, because there were more vegetarian options for us there.

I love the warm, inviting ambiance of this restaurant! We were already starving when we got in, so we went right to ordering – after they brought out their fluffy, warm, homemade bread with the tastiest all-natural butter I’ve ever had!

Our first entree was the hand cut herb pasta with wild mushrooms – which sounds simple, but it was the most flavorful pasta I’ve ever had! I’m pretty sure they added a lot of garlic and a variety of herbs to the sauce, along with what was probably a healthy helping of butter and olive oil 🙂 Soo tasty though!

I also ordered a ginger orange soda – which looked like rose wine when it came out! It was a really interesting drink – the soda wasn’t too sweet at all – it was actually quite refreshing with a nice hint of ginger to it.

But back to our entrees. In addition to our pasta, we ordered the pizza with wild nettles and pecorino. My husband didn’t even know what nettles were before the pizza came out – and I had only had them once before and didn’t really enjoy them (nettles can be kind of bitter if they aren’t cooked properly). But these nettles were crispy and really flavorful – with hints of garlic, crushed red pepper and probably a host of other spices that I couldn’t identify 🙂

Yummy! And of course, we couldn’t leave without ordering dessert. We ended up getting the Sierra Beauty Apple and Cranberry Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream. The tart wasn’t too sweet and you could really taste the apples and whole cranberries! The cinnamon ice cream just had a hint of cinnamon and when paired with the sweet crust of the tart and the “tart” filling, rounded out the dessert perfectly.

As usual, and amazing meal at Chez Panisse! My husband and I left very full, content, and happy. And of course – he was relieved that his exam was over! It was the perfect dinner celebration 🙂

 

 

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Saturday in SF & Dinner at The Plant Cafe!

This weekend, the weather was GORGEOUS, so my husband and I decided to take a trip to SF to see The Social Network (which yes, we STILL hadn’t seen yet) and have dinner at The Plant Cafe which is an all organic, healthy, veggie/vegan friendly restaurant in SF. I hadn’t eaten there before but I had heard good things, and on both fronts (the movie + the dinner) we were not disappointed! Since the weather was so nice, we decided to be green and take BART into the city. After a 45 min train ride, we arrived at Powell street!

I love how my husband uses a Yahoo backpack when neither of us work there (although I used to so I guess that’s his excuse 😛 ). Right after we got out of the station we came across these street performers who were doing some amazing things with popping & locking (and borderline contortion-ism)

We headed down Market Street to our first destination – The Metreon!

While my husband was buying tickets, I took pictures to entertain myself…

We saw the 4:40 show! And it was awesome. Really really interesting and entertaining movie – totally worth the crazy price of movie tickets these days. When we got out of the theater, the weather was still gorgeous! At times like these, I love SF at night. We walked to our dinner destination which was on the Embarcadero

SF at night really has a charm to it that no other city does

I love the Ferry Building!! 🙂 Soon after the Ferry Building, we made it to dinner

This restaurant had a wonderful, warm, organic, rustic feel to it. Because the weather was so nice (and they had heated lamps!) we decided to sit outside where we waited for my brother to join us for dinner.

We were sitting right next to the water at Pier 3! And we had awesome views from our table…

So after basking in the warmth of the heat lamps, and catching up with my brother a bit, we decided to order. Everything on the menu looked sooo good – it was hard to decide! But we finally settled on 3 different juices to try (this place has amazing, fresh squeezed, organic juices with inventive ingredients like kale and broccoli in them!), an appetizer, and 3 entrees. When our drinks came out we were really excited because they were so colorful!

My husband’s orange drink is the Immune Builder – carrot, apple, ginger and lemon

My green drink is the Good Start – it had kale, celery, broccoli, apple and ginger

My brother’s magenta drink is the Healthy Sunrise – carrot, beet, orange, apple and lemon

All three were absolutely amazing – you could tell that they literally just ground the ingredients to a pulp and made our juices – and that nothing else was added to them. All were super refreshing in their own ways, but if you like drinks on the sweeter side – my brother’s was probably the sweetest of the three. Now, on to our appetizer course!

We ordered the Grilled Flatbread with cumin carrots, pickled beets, garlic hummus and hung yogurt!

We were all hungry by this point, so of course we were excited to get our appetizer 🙂 It was the perfect way to start out the meal! The flatbread was warm and freshly baked, with the perfect balance of a crispy outside with a soft and fluffy inside. The dips were all different in their flavors – the yogurt was thick and creamy, reminded me of Greek Yogurt; the beets were slightly tart but the pickled flavor wasn’t overpowering, and the cumin carrots were really creamy and had a smoky flavor. But I think my favorite was the garlic hummus. It was spicy but not too hot, had the great garlic flavor running through each bite and was just a little chunky which made me think it was made from scratch!

For our entrees, we ordered: The California Plant Burger…

The burgers are house made from lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews and bulgar wheat. The California version has avocado and white cheddar cheese added to it, and you have the option to get it served on whole wheat bread instead of the bun (which usually has more calories than 2 slices of bread!) It’s also topped with roasted onion, lettuce, tomato, and aioli (which I got on the side of course!) and served with roasted potatoes and mixed greens. The burger was spicy and full of flavor, and the meal overall was excellent – probably my favorite dish of the night!

Next up… Pumpkin Seed and Corn Meal Crusted Tempeh served with coconut mashed yam, sauteed seasonal vegetables, and avocado and tomatillo salsa verde!

I was really impressed with the Tempeh in this dish. Usually I don’t even like Tempeh – but this was cooked so perfectly and with the combination of the salsa verde + sweet potatoes in each bite – it was divine! The sweet potatoes were equally impressive – they were so creamy I could have sworn there was cream in them – but they were vegan so of course they didn’t have cream in them 🙂

My brother ordered the market fish of the day which was the halibut – it was served on a bed of kale with some sort of a lemon sauce underneath

I can’t speak to the flavors – but I think he was pretty happy with it…

And of course, we couldn’t leave without ordering dessert! We got the cranberry sorbet with pumpkin sandwich cookies – which were gluten free and vegan!

The sorbet was nice and tart, and provided a really great complement to the sweeter, soft, creamy cookies. It was a great, light way to round out our meal. Thanks Plant Cafe for a great meal – we’ll definitely be back again!

Needless to say, we were really happy and relaxed after we were done, and the weather was still super nice outside! So I had my brother take a picture of my husband and me with the pier in the background.

We felt like we were on vacation! All in all, it was the perfect day. Great food, wonderful company and amazing weather – we couldn’t have asked for anything more. 🙂

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Great Snack: Two Easy Dips with Pita Chips!

So as most of you know, I’m a huge fan of Trader Joe’s 🙂 This past weekend when I was grocery shopping, I came across two dips that I thought would make a great snack: The Trader Joe’s Organic Hummus Dip, and The Masala Lentil Dip. I’ve had a bunch of different Trader Joe’s hummus dips before, but I had never tried the organic version. The organic version actually has better nutritional information than the regular version (20 fewer calories per serving, with the same amount of fiber & protein). And I’m pretty sure the Masala Lentil Dip is new because I hadn’t seen it before! (It also has good nutritional value – only 60 calories for 2 Tbsp, and a good amount of fiber & protein!)  Both were fabulous, and I served them with home made Pita Chips (recipe below). But you can also eat them with sliced veggies – e.g. carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, zucchini, etc., and you can also combine them with a cheese plate if you pick your cheeses wisely 🙂

Here’s the Organic Hummus Dip…

And here’s the Masala Lentil Dip…

And here’s the Pita Chips Recipe!!

Note: I like making Pita Chips at home rather than buying the pre-made, packaged version. Usually those have either added fats, preservatives, etc. to make them taste good – which end up adding more calories to the pita chips. Also, they’re usually not made with whole wheat pita bread, so you lose the added fiber and nutritional value there as well. It’s really easy to make pita chips at home – took less than 5 minutes!

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat pita bread
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt, pepper, other spices to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a grill pan or panini press over medium-high heat, spray with olive oil spray
  2. Put 1 whole wheat pita bread on the panini press, spray the top lightly with olive oil spray and close the panini press (if on a grill pan, flip the pita once the side that’s down is crispy and browned)
  3. Take the pita out once it’s crispy (like a chip!), season with salt/pepper/or your favorite spices to taste
  4. With a serrated bread knife, cut the whole pita into 8 equal wedges. Serve with dip!

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Evvia Restaurant, Palo Alto – A wonderful dining experience!

This weekend, my husband and I went to Evvia for dinner – a Greek inspired restaurant in the heart of the Silicon Valley. We had been to their sister restaurant in San Francisco – Kokkari – a bunch of times and loved it, but we had never tried Evvia before. As we walked down Emerson Street towards the restaurant, I was really excited – if Evvia was anything like Kokkari, I knew we’d be in for a treat. Luckily, they did not disappoint! The warmth of the restaurant was felt as soon as we walked in the door – which is helped by their rustic, wood decor and ambient lighting. Our waiter greeted us immediately, helped us in choosing two excellent wines and made recommendations that were helpful to us (as vegetarians). The service was prompt and efficient, but friendly – we never felt like we were being rushed. And the food was excellent! Below are the pictures from our meal and the dishes we ordered. If you’re ever in Palo Alto, I’d highly recommend checking out Evvia, especially if you like Greek food with a twist. Enjoy the photos!

We started our meal with a Green Lentil Vegetable Soup, garnished with olive oil. Super flavorful, hearty but still light enough that we were able to enjoy the rest of the meal! The restaurant also split the soup into two bowls for us since we were sharing it, which I thought was a nice touch.

We also ordered crispy zucchini cakes, served with cucumber & mint yogurt as an appetizer. They were perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside with the wonderful texture of shredded zucchini on the inside. The yogurt sauce was a perfect cooling accompaniment to the dish. I think this might have been my husband’s favorite meal of the night!

Oh, and did I mention the wine?? We ordered a glass of the Velio, Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie ’08; and a glass of the Alpha Estate, Axia, Amyndeon ’06 (a red wine similar to a Syrah). Both were excellent. Here’s my husband digging into the soup with the wine glasses on our table 🙂

For our entree, we had the herbed ravioli with heirloom cherry tomatoes, pesto, pine nuts & feta. Note – this dish looks small (only 4 pieces of ravioli) – but it’s actually super filling and very flavorful! For one person it’s definitely enough. For two people though… we were still hungry 🙂 So we ordered another dish – The Evvia Pita with caramelized onions, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, myzithra cheese & Greek basil. We really liked the pita – the sweetness of the onions and what tasted like a honey/wheat dough was balanced well with the saltiness of the olives and cheese. This was a great way to end our meal – the pita totally hit the spot and filled us up!

For dessert, we decided to try the Galaktoboureko, which is a traditional phyllo wrapped vanilla bean semolina custard with pistachio ice cream. It sounded a bit odd, but oh my GOD it was AMAZING. The perfect balance of flavors and a really unique dessert! Note – they also have a healthier dessert option which is the homemade Greek yogurt served with dried fruit, walnuts and honey on the side – which I ordered out of curiosity and that was really good too. But if you’re looking for a real DESSERT – try the Galaktoboureko – I promise you’ll love it 🙂

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