Ally


Can you believe October is already almost over? It's been a busy, busy month here at the casa. For one thing, I turned 40! Yep, the big 4-0. Gah!  To celebrate Mr. S. whisked me off for a fun, romantic getaway in SF the weekend before. We had a terrific time. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt, poked around Japantown, hit up the CA Academy of Sciences and even saw the Blue Angels zoom by. We also stocked up on a few bags of our favorite coffee from Philz.  Mmm!

View from our hotel room
 
Claude, the albino alligator at the CA Academy of Sciences
 

Philz, It's the Best!


On my actual birthday day, I woke up to this awesome scene in the dining room:

 
 
...plus a dozen balloons in my car. 

Then for dinner, Mr.S. planned a lovely night out at Mulvaney's with our friends, Michelle and Pete, for me. Followed by the most luscious, delicious salted caramel cake from Freeport Bakery. If you haven't tried this cake, get yourself to Freeport Bakery right now! It'll make your toes curl, it's soooo amazing. Seriously, it's like cake heroin. Sweet, sweet cake heroin. Ummmm yeah, so let's just say there were no leftovers from this cake in our house. ☺

On a healthier note, I've been making this baked hummus dish a lot on Sundays.  Mr.S and the kidlets have been immersed in watching the 9 billion football games that are on TV. So while they're watching that, Pepper and I are usually watching, "The League," on Netflix in the other room.  (If you haven't seen this show, check it out. It's absolutely hilarious...and this comes from somebody who equates watching football to going to the gyno. Neither are fun.)



 Regardless of what we're doing, we all seem to love snacking on this dish.


Sunday Funday Baked Hummus (adapted from Iowa Girl Eats 5 Layer Baked Hummus recipe)

Ingredients

10 oz. Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus
3 Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausages (removed from casing)
2 medium leeks, white & green parts only (cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then slice thinly)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon McCormick's onion powder
1 large clove of garlic, minced
6 oz. Trader Joe's Feta with Mediterranean Herbs


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Stir up the hummus so the roasted garlic bits get incorporated into the hummus. Spread the hummus mixture evenly into the bottom of a 10x7 baking dish.

3. In a large pan, brown your turkey sausage.

4. Add in your sliced leeks and garlic. Season with salt, fresh ground pepper and onion powder. Sauté until softened.

5. Take sausage-leek mixture and layer it over the hummus.

6. Sprinkle with feta.

7. Place in oven for 20 minutes.

8. Serve hot with chips or warm pita bread.
Ally
109 E Street, Davis, California 95616.  (530) 753-3196
http://www.yakitoriyuchan.com/

It’s finally open!

Six months ago, my friend Kerry gave me the heads up that the design company she works for, Benning Design, had been hired to work on a soon-to-be-opened yakitori place in Davis. The owners, a Japanese couple, anticipated opening Yakitori Yuchan by fall. Since then I’ve been eagerly (and patiently) waiting to eat some yakitori without having to drive to the Bay Area. Last night, I finally got my wish. My friend and I popped in during their soft opening and had a very pleasant dinner. The interior is quite pretty- a beautiful artsy bamboo lighting fixture takes center stage, there’s lots of color splashed throughout the restaurant (I love the bold, sunset orange-red that highlights the walls), and the sake bar is pretty badass looking with its upside down, hanging dispensers.

When you sit down the server gives you a menu and a small list. The list is for marking what kind of skewers you’d like to order. Each order comes with 2 skewers. Yakitori Yuchan offers several different kinds of chicken, pork and veggie skewers. On some of them you can choose to have it with shio (salt) or with tare (a basting sauce made from mirin, soy sauce, sake and sugar).  

If you're unfamiliar with yakitori, here's a textbook definition:

ya·ki·to·ri:  /yäkiˈtôrē/, noun


“Yakitori, grilled chicken, is commonly a Japanese type of skewered chicken cooked over a special kind of charcoal. The term "yakitori" can also refer to skewered food in general. Kushiyaki, is a formal term that encompasses both poultry and non-poultry items, skewered and grilled.”

Here’s a few that we tried:
  
Eringi  (grilled King Trumpet mushrooms with a garlic sauce – the mushroom has a nice “meaty” texture to it when grilled)




Negima (grilled chicken with spring onion)




Chicken Liver (one of my favorite skewers to order- I love the dense meat and slightly iron-like taste)




Grilled chicken drizzled with a wasabi cream sauce ( the sauce had a nice horseradish bite to it but was not overwhelming)




Pork wrapped around a quail egg (perfectly cooked, chewy pork wrapped around a tiny, hard-boiled quail egg)





We also got several appetizers to share:

Nasu dengaku  (miso glazed eggplant)



Takoyaki ( creamy octopus “balls” sprinkled with bonito and drizzled with sauce)




Garlic Brussels (grilled Brussels sprouts with a delicious miso sauce, sprinkled with bits of fried garlic and pepper threads)




And a yaki onigiri  (fried riceball)

All of the skewers were delicious. I also loved both the nasu dengaku and the Brussels sprouts dish, I could have eaten another serving of each. The fried bits of garlic and teensy sliced pepper threads made the savory dish absolutely addicting. Next time I’d also like to try the fried pumpkin with curry sauce and the squid app. One thing about the service that I really liked was that the dishes are brought out in waves as they are ready, in true izakaya fashion. This gives you an opportunity to relax, chat and knock back a drink in between dishes. (They have a nice choice of sakes to make your way through.)

If you get a chance, I highly suggested checking out Yakitori Yuchan. Yakitori is the perfect food to nibble on while socializing. It’s also great if you’re doing a no or low carb diet as most of the skewers are meatcentric. 

Note: Yakitori Yuchan currently opens for dinner at 6pm and is closed on Mondays.




Ally

Ever have those periods in your life where everything speeds by like someone pushed the fast forward button? One minute you’re kickin’ back, a Lady of Leisure, and the next minute, MONTHS have flown by and you’re like, “What the heck? What just happened? How did I get here? Why am I so exhausted?”  That’s what this year has been feeling like to me. Working full time really wears me out. Being a stepmom for a teen 100% of the time and a preteen 90% of the time is a lot of work and very tiring. There's dinners to be made, girl woes to solve and helping with homework...endless homework.  Not to mention moving households pooped me out big time. (I’m STILL unpacking.)  Don’t get me wrong, all of it has been rewarding but I swear I could sleep for weeks. Especially with the rainy weather we’re having today. Crawling out of my cozy bed this morning was excruciating.  Anyhow, tired as I am, I am looking forward to some cooler, crisper autumn weather.  No, not because of the Pumpkin Spice lattes hawked by Starbucks (I hate the stuff, it’s vile) but because it’ll be soup weather soon. There’s something relaxing and luxurious about cooking soup. I can’t wait!  In the meantime, on weeknights when I’m depleted of any and all energy, I've been making super easy recipes and I do mean SUPER EASY. Like this one that I clipped from the Bee recently for mushrooms.  (It originally was featured on food.com.) It’s about as simple as you can get.  (I did add in some freshly ground pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to suit my taste.)

Quickie Mushrooms (perfect topping for steak or roasted pork tenderloin)

Ingredients

½ stick unsalted butter
¼ cup sherry
½ envelope of Lipton onion soup mix
½ lb. sliced cremini mushrooms
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Sprinkle of freshly ground pepper (optional)

Instructions

1. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.

2. Stir in sherry.

3. Add in soup mix, then mushrooms.

4. Add Worcestershire sauce and black pepper (both optional).  Sauté to desired texture.
Ally


1309 Florin Road, Suite F. Sacramento, CA 95831. (916) 421-4259.

Is there anything better than holding a piping hot bao on a cold day? It’s like a mini-hand heater and a tasty, toasty treat all wrapped up into one. I recently introduced the kidlets to bao. When I brought a box home for Sunday breakfast, the little scallywags gave me the stinkeye. “What is this blob of dough you’re handing me?” I’m sure their suspicious little minds were thinking, “Is it full of something disgusting? Anchovies? Natto? Liver?”  When I described it as being a Chinese Hot Pocket (work with me here, they’re kids) and stuffed full of BBQ pork, they let down their guard and took one. Kidlet #2, Mr. Picky Picky, even liked it!

If you’re unfamiliar with bao, they are steamed or baked buns stuffed with a variety of yummy fillings like – cha siu pork, Chinese sausage (lap cheong), coconut custard, egg and mung bean, black sesame paste or pickled, spicy veggies.  The steamed bao are a pillowy white and a bit chewy. The baked ones are breadier, with a shiny glaze.

Baked Bao

For the past year or so, my favorite place to buy bao in Sacramento is at a little hole in the wall shoppe called ABC Bakery in the Pocket/Greenhaven (although Lam Kwong Market downtown is a close second).  ABC Bakery is located off Florin Road in the “Old” Bel Air shopping center. (If you’re looking directly at Bel-Air, it’s along the right side, around the corner of the building.)  It’s a very small store and there’s almost always a line. Items  run out quick- so get there early if you want the best availability. On a recent Sunday, I got there around 9am and bought some of their baked cha siu pork bao, curry chicken bao and a few hot dog bao (slices of hot dog and green onions mixed in with the dough). I'll be honest, I do normally like a little more meat in my bao than what ABC does but I like the fact that everything there is freshly made.  On my last visit, I also picked up some shrimp dumplings which were quite delicious. The egg tarts here (I wish I knew their recipe for their wonderful flaky crust) and (seasonal) moon cakes have also been really good during past visits.



Shrimp Dumplings


Some people I know have bitched about the customer service at ABC citing that’s it’s very abrasive but everyone I've encountered there has always been polite. They aren't usually Chatty Kathys but then again they’re trying to keep the line moving. Here’s a tip, look at the menu and know what you want before you get to the front of the line. That'll keep you from catching flack from the staff as well as the patrons behind you. ☺
Ally

There's some new stuff popping up around town that I thought I'd share:


The Public House Theater will be opening up September 26th at 5440 14th Ave. You can watch movies while enjoying a glass of wine or local brew. They also plan to offer a small menu of nibbles, sandwiches and paninis.

For more info: www.publichousetheater.net


A small Spartan pop-up called Good Eats has quietly opened up inside Vic's Market in SLP. They're serving up some tasty Southern eats (ribs, fried chicken, tri-tip, fried Cajun snapper, red beans and rice etc). The feedback I've heard so far has been very positive, especially about the fried chicken and the mac and cheese. Heads up though- my understanding is they close early- 8pm. So get over there early!

5820 S Land Park Drive.  (916) 949-1850


Bacon and Butter, Billy Zoellin's breakfast joint, is scheduled to open at its new Tahoe Park digs September 27.

5913 Broadway
http://baconandbuttersac.com/





Ally
Looking for something fun and educational to take the kidlets to this weekend? Check out this fantastic event put on by the Food Literacy Center:

FREE FOOD LITERACY FAIR TO CELEBRATE
FOOD LITERACY MONTH SEPT. 14

As part of Food Literacy Month in September, local residents can attend the free Food Literacy Fair from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Sept. 14 at Southside Park across from California’s largest certified farmers market. The fair, hosted by Food Literacy Center and Assemblymember Roger Dickinson in partnership with Southside Park Neighborhood Association, will include live music from The Hoots, live cooking demonstrations featuring local kids and chefs, crafts, kids games, free food samples, veggie costumes, face painting, a photo booth, awards and the announcement of the Veggie of the Year.

Dennis Sydnor Jr.from Ten22 & Kurt Spataro from Paragary Restaurant Group will be cooking with food literacy kids.

Learn about fresh veggies.

There will be Pygmy goats from the Farm Bureau...

and other friendly farm friends.




There will also be food trucks from Mama Kim and Slightly Skewed.



Photos courtesy of the Food Literacy Center, Mama Kim Eats, Slightly Skewed and Madeloni Photography.


Ally


2620 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95864. (916) 977-3997
http://www.theparloricecream.squarespace.com/

Sometimes I feel like Mr.S and the kidlets are Satan's little minions. Like this weekend for example, they "forced" me to go try this new dessert place, The Parlor, that took the place of our beloved Yogurt Monkey. They had gone earlier in the week, had been raving non-stop about it and were eager to revisit. So at 930pm on Friday night, we trek over to The Parlor on Fair Oaks Boulevard. There's a line out the door, a big huge line of teenagers. *Sigh* We stood in line for 20 minutes (listening to the latest high school gossip of who likes who, who's wearing what and the clicking of hundred cell phones taking selfies) and it moved fairly quickly. Once inside, a hyper-happy gentleman with a 1,000-watt smile greeted us and asked our order. For our "ice cream puffs" we had a choice of a regular donut, a glazed donut or an apple fritter. I chose the apple fritter- go big or go home, right? Next it was time to choose the all important ice cream...being lactarded, I should have gone with the mango sorbet but I couldn't help but be drawn to the coffee ice cream with Nutella swirled in (aka the "Midnight in Paris"). Mr. Smiley, sliced my fritter open and slapped a big scoop of ice cream on it and handed my order to his lovely assistant. She scurried off to the back room where...they did something?! I dunno, it was off limits to the public but a few minutes later she handed me my ice cream pressed inside a warm fritter. It was a bit Frankenstein-like as far as desserts go, but it was also flippin' delicious! Since then, I've heard that they started doing ice cream macaron sandwiches as well and plan to do ice creme brulee. Mmmm.....