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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dough Zone

Dough Zone is Bellevue's newest Asian dumpling house, located in Crossroads. The lines are long for dinner but lunch isn't as bad. It's great having a bunch of fellow foodie friends on Facebook so I hear about all the best new restaurants. Mark Mizuno and his wife have been going there a couple times a week and expressing how great it is on their Facebook newsfeeds so I had to check it out for myself. Unfortunately not gluten free but I made an exception to check it out with a couple of my co-workers. One of them also made an exception to their vegetarian diet for the jian buns but I won't mention any names. I think we both agreed it was worth it.

Dough Zone is probably best known for their jian buns (jian bao). They are buns filled with a mixture of pork and steamed and pan fried so the tops are pillowy and soft while the bottom has a nice crispy texture from the pan frying. So tasty and the prices are quite reasonable too. We ordered 5 dishes for the 3 of us off the paper menu in which you check off the items you'd like. Total price, $28. Not many places you can feed 3 people for that price.

There's been a lot of comparisons between Dough Zone and Din Tai Fung which has been Bellevue's most popular dumpling house and still seems to bring in more customers. I also recently discovered Din Tai Fung is a chain located in 10 different countries. Dough Zone is still young and no chain restaurant. Most that have tried it prefer it and their lower prices. So it may not be long before Dough Zone becomes the more popular choice. They are on opposite ends of Bellevue so Din Tai Fung will still be popular due to it's location downtown which has a higher population. I haven't technically been to Din Tai Fung so can't say for sure which I prefer but I did get to taste some of Din Tai Fung's dumplings at a Foodportunity event in 2012 and was not disappointed. Have you tried them both? Would love to hear your thoughts on which you prefer.

Dough Zone serves family style and not everything comes at once so it's nice to have everything spaced out so the hot dishes don't get cold.  Our first dish was the sweet and sour cucumber which was a great way to start the meal. The way the cucumber was sliced was exquisite and allowed the flavors to get inbetween all the layers. It looked kind of like a slinky. I thought it was designed using a machine at first but looking at it more closely I think it was made by hand. Next up were the pan fried leek dumplings which were surprisingly flavorful. The two large dumplings were cut in half and what made it even better was a touch of their homemade hot sauce dropped into the middle of the dumpling. The shape of the dumpling was also very well formed and looked machine made. I was expecting the wontons in szechuan sauce to be a little more spicy but I rectified that by utilizing the homemade hot sauce to spicen it up more. Then there was the famous jian buns which I already mentioned and lastly, the vegetable potstickers. They were the least favorite of the 5 dishes we tried. They weren't that flavorful and the pan frying was not very consistent.

Sweet and Sour Cucumber jian buns wonton in szchuan sauce Pan Fried Leek Dumplings vegetable potstickers

If you like Asian dumplings this is definitely a restaurant worth trying. I'd definitely go back and try some of the other dishes like the juicy pork dumplings and I'd get the jian buns, cucumber and leek dumplings again. At this time they don't appear to be on social media and their website is not in English but there is a phone number and hopefully the person that answers speaks English.

Dough Zone
Address: 15920 NE 8th St, Bellevue, WA 98008 
Phone: (425) 641-8000
Website: http://www.doughzone7.com/ (not English)

Hours (according to Urbanspoon, may change):
Monday: 11:00am-9:00pm
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday - Friday: 11:00am-9:00pm
Saturday - Sunday: 9:30am-9:00pm
Dough Zone Dumpling House 麵貼面 on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 08, 2014

Blue Apron Meals

I received a free trial of Blue Apron Meals from a friend and was holding onto it for a few weeks before I decided on which delivery week to get. If you're not familiar with Blue Apron, they are a meal delivery company that will ship you a box of ingredients to make 3 different meals for $9.99 per serving per meal. I think it's a great idea for those who don't like to meal plan and go grocery shopping which I think is many of us. I usually don't decide what I'm making for dinner until the same day or sometimes even minutes before I start cooking, as I am looking through the fridge and cupboard to see what I can make with what I've got. I would definitely use the service more if they used organic produce and had gluten free options. Until then, I will keep my eye on the schedule and if anything I can't resist comes up I'll be sure to request it.

What I Liked:

  • Being able to choose which weeks I want and don't want to receive easily from the site.
  •  Getting email notifications with what is scheduled for the coming week and review the recipes beforehand.
  • The quality of the fresh produce was very good. Nothing was wilted or spoiled.
  • Photography and styling for the recipes is very well done and on glossy card stuck that is easy to clean if spilled on.
  • Everything you need to make the dish is included in the box in the measurements needed. Most of the fruits and vegetables however require washing and chopping yourself. 
  • Able to choose how many servings for your delivery (options of 2 or 4)
  • The recipes are available online whether you sign up for their service or not. Click the titles below to see the recipes for the three I received.
  • Vegetarian option is available. 
  • Delivery choices of Tues-Sat
  • A history of what you've received previously

What Could Use Improving:

  • Would love to see gluten free meal options.
  • Organic produce would be nice. I try to avoid inorganic and GMO produce as much as possible.
Below is a recap of the 3 meals that I received. Not all of them were gluten free but I chose a week with minimal gluten.

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay Ingredients Chicken Satay
The chicken satay was probably my favorite of the three meals. I don't recall ever having green tomatoes before and it was fun trying something new and definitely something I would eat again. They had a nice crunch you won't get from a red tomato. The sauce had a lot of ingredients I don't normally keep in my pantry so this is where Blue Apron comes in handy. I wouldn't want to go out and buy a bunch of these ingredients and only use them once. Since they only provide the amount you need for the recipe it's no problem. For this recipe the chicken was not pre-cut and the instructions didn't seem clear that you needed to cut them yourself as it wasn't in the instructions. I would have realized that if I had read through all of the instructions before making it which is something you should always do. Marinating the chicken before cooking it kept it from getting dry after frying and it got a nice char on it. It's something I'd make again if I had all the ingredients on hand.

Pan Seared Salmon

Pan Seared Salmon Ingredients Pan Seared Salmon
This was a dish that didn't have any surprising or unique ingredients except maybe the tarragon and fennel which are usually easy to find. So I could have made this dish fairly easily without help from Blue Apron but the recipe was good and everything came out well. I was surprised by the quality of the salmon. I'm not sure what kind of salmon it was but the skin crisped up very well and I didn't overcook it which is very easy to do with salmon. That's why I like using my Sansaire to sous vide it and always get the perfect temperature every time.

 Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Stuffed Pepper Ingredients Stuffed Peppers
This was the last recipe I made and the least favorite of the three. Maybe because I am half Mexican, I expect more from Mexican food. If you like Mexican, I recommend Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless. He isn't Mexican but he's been around and it's good stuff. Anyway, the peppers didn't really hold their shape after roasting so it was difficult to get the stuffing to stay and it wasn't really that good looking of a dish compared to the other two. However, the Mexican Lime-Crema was a nice addition that helped save it. It could have also used a side dish like some beans or maybe a light salad to go with it..

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Ham and Egg Cups Recipe

Ham and Eggs Cup Recipe I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to make a healthy breakfast, especially when eggs are involved. I've got 6 chickens at my new house and they give me eggs every day, more than I can possibly eat. This recipe gave me a chance to do something different with them. I've had a recipe for these pinned on Pinterest for some time but finally got around to making them while my parents were visiting a few weeks ago and have made them a couple times since then. They are fun, quick and easy to make. I like to serve it with a salad but would go well with hashbrowns or fried potatoes too.

Recipe: Ham & Egg Cups

Adapted from: Simple Delights
Yield: 6-12 (2-4 servings)
Estimated Time: 15 minutes

6-12 thin slices deli ham
6-12 eggs
coconut oil or cooking spray
salt & pepper to taste

GARNISHES (optional):
green onions, sliced
cilantro or parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated
Bacon bits

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Coat muffin tin with coconut oil or cooking spray
  3. Place a slice of deli ham in each cup of the muffin tin.
  4. Crack an egg into the center of the ham.
  5. Add salt and pepper to each egg.
  6. Put in oven and bake for 12 mins or until desired doneness.
  7. Add garnishes of choice and serve. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Garden Compass App

It's been a busy few months! I unexpectedly sold my house to my neighbor's sister and managed, within a couple of months, to find a newer bigger and better home that's 15 minutes closer to work. It was a little more than I originally planned to spend but still affordable. I had an awesome realtor to help me with the journey. If you're looking for a realtor in the Redmond area, Mark Mizuno from John L. Scott is your guy! He's got mad negotiating skills.

I was debating whether to get a house with a smaller yard with closer neighbors or a house in the boonies with acreage or somewhere in between. Either way I wanted to be a little closer to work. I decided on a large 3 bedroom that looks like it's in the boonies but is actually only a couple min drive from Monroe. I'm on .5 acres in the Sky Valley and the majority of it is heavily landscaped. There's probably at least 100 trees, flowers and bushes on the property to take care of in addition to 6 chickens and a decent sized garden and greenhouse. The grass looks small in comparison but it appears to take longer to mow than the old house so I may be investing in a riding mower in the near future. It will be more work than the old house but much more rewarding.

I couldn't identify half of the things growing around my new yard so I decided to try an iphone app called Garden Compass. I've read about many apps that you can take a picture and it will immediately tell you what it thinks it is and most of them don't work as well as advertised, very inaccurate. This app however works differently. You take a picture and it emails it to a team of plant identifiers and someone actually looks at the photo and tries to identify it. If they aren't positive what it is they will let you know and may ask you to send in another photo when the plant is flowering to be sure. I only had that happen with one of the plants I submitted and the answers I got all seemed to be pretty spot on from what I can tell.

The pros of the app:
  • Free
  • 20 submissions per month
  • 24 hour response in most cases
  • Accurate
  • Easy to use
  • Some helpful info about the plant is included with the identification response
  • Can also identifies plant problems and how to fix (have not used this feature yet)
The app is great but it also has room for improvement and more features.
  • Not all past answers are viewable in app so keep your email notifications
  • No easy view of past answers. Could use a table view of past answers viewable on PC (outside of app)
  • Lots of ads in app when viewing past answers. Need paid version with no ads.
  • Could use a searchable database of own submissions as well as others and include fields for amount of sun and water needed for each plant.
These were my 20 submissions for the month of August:
  1. Asian Stewartia (stewartia)
  2. Twisted Locust (robinia pseudoacacia) 
  3. Contorted Filbert (corylus avellana ‘contorta’) 
  4. Honeysuckle Vine (lonicera) 
  5. Turtlehead (chelone) 
  6. Meadow Rue (thalictrum?)
  7. Matrona Stonecrop (sedum matrona) 
  8. False Spiraea (astilbe chinensis) 
  9. Japanese Iris (iris ensata) 
  10. Phlox (phlox paniculata)
  11. Lupine  (lupinus species)
  12. Gayfeather (liatris spicata) 
  13. Epimediem & Oxalis (triangularis) 
  14. Variegated Red Twig Dogwood (cornus alba) 
  15. Weigela (weigela cultivar) 
  16. Doublefile Viburnum (viburnum plicatum tomentosum) 
  17. Goldflame Spirea (spirea x bumalda 'goldflame')
  18. Lily of the Nile (agapanthus) 
  19. Smoke Bush or Tree (continus spp) 
  20. Meadow Bistort (persicaria bistorta)
Landscaping Collage
iphone images sent to Garden Compass
Back Yard
The back yard with garden, fruit trees and chickens.
Front Front Yard
The front yard at the end of the drive way
Front Yard Front Yard Another View
The front yard between the house and garage

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pine Creek Nursery - Tastes from the Garden

It was Michelle Newell that introduced me to Pine Creek Nursery via a Facebook post. I practically drive by it every day but never really noticed it before. I decided to visit one day after work a few months ago and picked up a few flowers for a container. While there, I signed up for their mailing list and I got my first newsletter a few weeks ago. They have lots of events from concerts to dinners.  Mark took me to their "Tastes from the Garden" four course meal (technically it was five courses) for a late birthday present. The dinner was outside, straight through the store on a lovely stamped concrete patio. They have a hardscaped stage surrounded by flowers and trees where they must have the bands play. There were several tables set up with place settings topped with a bouquet of rosemary and lavender. We didn't notice until we left that there were name tags on the tables so we didn't actually sit where we were supposed to but apparently the table we sat at was not reserved because it didn't have one on it.
Place Setting Pine Creek Nursery Outdoor Stage

Each table was served a plate of homemade artisan bread with a bowl of compound butter which didn't count as one of the courses. It wasn't gluten free bread so I didn't eat much of it but I did have a little taste just to try it and it was good. Soon after the bread was served, someone from Gregarious Cellars came by with a bottle of white wine. It's not a winery I've ever heard of and probably very few people have. As far as I know the only place you can get it is at the nursery. They have a tasting room there that's open Sat/Sun 12-5. Mark and I are not fans of white wines but it was the first wine that was brought around. You get one glass with dinner and we wanted to save it for a red so we didn't get a full glass of the white but we did get a taste and we were pleasantly surprised. It was probably the best white wine we've had. It was a 2011 Roussanne wine which is a French grape that I'd never heard of. It was so good that Mark bought a bottle on the way out. Even though we really enjoyed the tasting of white we both decided to try the Syrah which is my favorite red wine and it didn't disappoint; it had a strong pepper finish which is just the way I like it. We also got a glass of the red blend which was also good but we both liked the Syrah better.
Fresh Artisan Bread Gregarious Cellars Roussanne

Chef Aaron Brown presented each dish and answered questions about each one. After everyone was served he would also go around to each table answering more questions and asking how everything was.
Chef Aaron Brown

I enjoyed everything and most of the dishes were presented well with the exception of the main course. It wasn't very consistently plated and if it were me I would have presented the chicken on top of the bed of rice. Mark's was plated with the chicken and rice on opposite ends of the plate with about 2 inches separating them. Most of the dishes were made from scratch (except for the yogurt) and most of the ingredients were local (except for the chicken) with most of the vegetables coming from Willie Greens Organic Farm in Monroe.
Grilled Vegetables with Beef Chorizo Green Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette Ceviche Chicken and Rice with Dill Cream Sauce Berries and Vanilla Yogurt

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dairy Free Mint Ice Cream Recipe

Dairy Free Mint Ice Cream It's been hotter than heck in Washington this summer so when I saw this recipe for Mint Ice Cream in the last issue of Paleo Magazine I had to try it. This is my newest magazine subscription and I'm really enjoying it and the recipes section of each issue. Each recipe is a full page and includes a nice photo too. They do recipes rights!

Not only is this ice cream dairy free but it is also refined sugar free. It's sweetened with honey and stevia and tastes amazingly like the mint ice cream I grew up with and you'd never know it was dairy free. It does have some odd ingredients in it which makes it the healthiest ice cream you've probably ever had. Spinach and avocado don't sound like ingredients that belong in an ice cream but it works. It's what gives the ice cream it's minty green color. Mint chocolate chip was my favorite ice cream when I was a kid and haven't had it in a long time so it brought back some nice memories.

The recipe called for adding chocolate chips but since Mark doesn't eat chocolate, I left them out and topped mine with cacao nibs and the new gluten free version of Bob's RedMill Honey Oat Granola which doesn't appear to be available on Amazon yet but can be found on Bob's RedMill site.

I'm not only posting this recipe for you all but also for me so I can find it easily and make it again!

Recipe: Dairy Free Mint Ice Cream

Adapted from Paleo Magazine's June/July 2014 issue: Mint Chip Ice Cream
Yield: approximately 1 pint (4 servings)
Total time: 35 minutes

1 medium ripe avocado, pitted
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 cups fresh spinach
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
10 drops liquid stevia

TOPPINGS (optional):
cacao nibs

1. Scoop avocado flesh and remaining ingredients into a blender, except toppings, and blend until smooth and creamy.
2. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions.
3. Serve immediately and add toppings as desired or freeze in an air tight container until ready to serve. (Thaw 20 mins at room temperature before serving
If you are looking for a good container for storing your ice cream, I highly recommend these containers by Zak Designs. I have two of these that I bought for an ice cream social and they kept the ice cream frozen longer than the others.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Cook Chickpeas and Chickpea Salad Recipe

Uncooked vs Cooked Chickpeas 
I've always bought canned chickpeas aka garbonzo beans but decided to be adventurous and get dried beans. Typically you would soak the beans in water overnight but I discovered a quicker way to prepare them that doesn't take several hours.

Quick Soaking Chickpeas

Time: 3 hours
  1. Pour the beans out onto a flat surface and sort through them, looking for any rocks and other debris and remove them. 
  2. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with a couple of inches of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot of beans from the heat and cover and let soak for 1 hour.
  4. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Put the beans back into the pot and cover with another couple of inches of cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in a bit of salt if you'd like. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  7. Drain and they are ready to enjoy! You may store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few months.
I've always only made hummus with chickpeas and it was the first thing I made after trying this quick soaking method but I came across a recipe for Zucchini Chickpea Quinoa Salad in my Facebook newsfeed posted by A Cedar Spoon. I just happened to have all the ingredients for it too. Love when I come across recipes that I don't have to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for. I even had quinoa in the fridge already cooked. I actually thought I was out of zucchini and had planned on using cucumber in its place but low and behold I found a zucchini waiting to be eaten. I did however make a couple of minor alterations to the original recipe. I added some chopped red bell pepper and I thought it could use a little acid so added some apple cider vinegar. Lemon juice would probably work well with the recipe too.

Recipe: Chickpea Salad

Adapted from: A Cedar Spoon's Zucchini Chickpea Quinoa Salad
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 20 minutes

1.5 Cups cooked or canned chickpeas
1.5 Cups cooked quinoa
1 medium zucchini, cubed
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp tumeric
1 tsp paprika

1. Mix first 6 ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.
3. Add dressing to the bowl of vegetables and quinoa and stir together until well mixed.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

MTHFR and Folate Conversion

MTHFR is one of a few genes responsible for converting folic acid/inactive forms of folate into an active form that your body can utilize. I've written about it a little in the past, see my posts labeled "Health". It stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Having this gene, specifically the C667T or A1298C variations, of which I have both, slows down the folate conversion process. MTHFR is not the only gene that can slow it down but is the most well known. I've been reading a lot about this over the last couple of years as I believe it to be related to some health issues that have come up since I had skin exposure to chemicals in epoxy. As more and more people are overcoming illnesses by supporting the folate cycle, the knowledge of it is spreading and more health professionals are starting to learn about it and introducing it into their practices.

The Folate Cycle

Dr. Ben Lynch who has been researching this for many years has put together a new diagram showing 9 other genes involved in the folate cycle. It appears, based on my 23andme results, I have 7 of the 10 genes which I would guess is more than average so I have more of a need for folate than most. I am homozygous (double mutation) FOLR2, SLC19a1, MTHFD1, TYMS and heterozygous (single mutation) MTHFS, DHFR, MTHFR. The other three are FOLR1, SHMT1 and MTR. Even if you have a lot of these genes you could still live a healthy life by wise food choices, low stress and a toxic free environment. If one or more of those isn't right in your life than you are at a high risk of your genes becoming expressed and having to deal with health issues. It's my belief that the epoxy contact triggered some of these genes to express and start causing my health problems.

Forms of Folate

It's important to note that folic acid is just one form of folate and is the most easily found in supplements and foods we eat but it is an inactive, synthetic form and requires those 10 genes to successfully convert it into an active form so that is the last thing you should take. It's best to get your folate from food sources or active forms of folate because taking a lot of the synthetic folic acid will increase your unmetabolized folic acid (UMFA) which could cause a lot of other issues like an increased risk of cancer.

Active forms of folate: 

  • L-5-MTHF = 6(S)-L-MTHF
  • L-Methylfolate Calcium = Metafolin = Levomefolic Acid
  • Metafolin
  • Quatrefolic
  • Levomefolic Acid
Avoid forms that start with a D or 6R because those are not biologically active forms. Also avoid methyl folates that don't start with L or 6(S) because you don't know for sure if it's active or inactive.  More info on the different forms of folate on mthfr.net. Sublingual and injections are better absorbed than a pill form. There is also a body cream that is made by Neurobiologix that looks to be a good option that I'm going to try. They list 5-MTHF as the form of folate which drew a red flag so I contacted the company directly and in an hour I got a reply stating they use Quatrefolic which is a good active form. The product also contains active forms of B12 (Methyl & Hydroxy) which you may also be deficient in if you have a folate deficiency. You can get this Neuro-Immune Stabilizer Cream from Amazon or directly from Neurobiologix.

Foods high in folate:
  • liver
  • uncooked leafy greens
  • okra
  • asparagus
  • beans, lentils & peas
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds

Are you folate deficient?

How do you know if you are deficient in folate and not getting enough active forms?  You can't really rely on a normal folate RBC test because it tests for both active and inactive forms and if you have trouble converting folate like I do your lab test results will most likely be sky high because of all of the UMFA in your system. Metametrix happens to have a lab test that breaks out the UMFA and Active form of folate which can be helpful in determining if you are getting enough active forms and if you need to reduce your intake of folic acid. I haven't taken this test myself since I am no longer taking any folic acid but it looks to be helpful test. I have noticed my RBC Folate numbers are coming down recently (they've always been sky high in the past) which makes me believe my UMFA is going down and my body is using the active folate I've been supplementing with. 

MTHFR and the other folate conversion genes are just one part of the methylation cycle that helps with detoxification, immune function, mood balancing, energy production and controlling inflammation so it is very important to your well being that it is functioning properly.


If you decide to start supplementing with active forms of folate, start very slow because not everyone can tolerate a full dose due to other issues in the methylation cycle that may need to be supported first. If you take it and feel side effects like aches pains or increased irritability stop taking it and take some niacin and the symptoms should subside quickly. You will need to go back and support some of the other pathways in the methylation cycle before supporting the folate cycle. It's always best to work with a practitioner that is familiar with methylation. You can check these sources for doctors in your area: MTHFRSupport, MTHFRease, MTHFR.net

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dallas Eats

Last month I spent a week in Dallas, TX for a Kaizen event for work. So, the first thing I did was do some restaurant research and made a list of options. I made it to about half of the places on my list and was pretty happy with my choices as were the people that joined me.  Most of my lunches were spent at the training facility's cafeteria and wasn't really anything worth writing home about. The dinners were more fun and exciting.

The Blue Fish

The Blue Fish is a fancy (aka expensive) seafood place with very dim lighting that I pretty much spent all my per diem on for the day. It was one of the places I was looking most forward to. I went with the pan seared Chilean sea bass, topped with balsamic soy vinaigrette and served with shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers and rice. It was a nice light and healthy meal but not worth the expensive prices in my opinion.
  Tempura Tower Chilean Sea Bass

Goji Cafe

Goji Cafe is advertised as "Healthy Asian Food". What makes it healthy? It's 100% vegan! I've been to vegan restaurants before but this was the first Asian Vegan I've been to and was pleasantly surprised with how good it was, especially the spring rolls. They have a great sampler option on their menu with 6 sets of samplers or the option of creating your own sampler with any 2 entrees and 1 appetizer from any of the sets of samplers. I chose that option and got the Salt n Pepper "Pork" Ribs, Kung Pow! Tofu and the Spicy Dumplings. Goji Cafe - Vegan Asian Sampler

Koryo Kalbi

Koryo Kalbi is a Korean BBQ restaurant located in Dallas' Koreatown. It is one of the restaurants that was not on my list but came across it in some restaurant research I did while in Dallas. Texas is known for its BBQ and I couldn't go to Texas without trying some BBQ though I'm not sure they are very well known for their Korean BBQ. I do kind of regret not checking out any American BBQ places while there. I read reviews saying people drive hours just to eat here so I figured it must be good and it definitely was.  I love all the different side dishes they bring out. There's a little something for everyone. I went with the pork belly and they cook your meat of choice on the gas grill in the center of the table along with some onion and mushrooms. It was my favorite meal during the trip.
Plate of Korean Side Dishes Korean BBQ

Pasand Indian Cuisine

This was my last meal in Dallas on the way to the airport. Pasand was your typical Indian fare. They had a buffet set up with just about everything though I couldn't tell you what any of it was. I tried a little of almost everything.
Pasand Indian Buffet

The only other restaurant worth mentioning was Andalous Mediterranean Grill. It was kind of subway style looking. They had tons of different dishes and you had the option of creating your own platter from the various dishes on display almost like a buffet but you only got 4 or 5 options and they served it for you. They had 4 different types of hummus including a spinach hummus which I'm going to have to try making myself one of these days. I got a kabob combo that came with 3 different meats and the lamb was definitely the best of the three and if I went back would just get lamb and skip the beef and chicken. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the food here but recommend it.

Another thing to note about Dallas. A coffee capital it is not. It's difficult to find a coffee shop there besides Starbucks and even those are far and few between. Java Me Up was the closest option besides Starbucks and we drove 8 miles out of the way for it. It was nice that they had a lot of non-dairy milk options. I tried rice milk one morning and coconut milk another morning and it wasn't bad but I still prefer my Seattle coffee. I also found it odd that they didn't have any branding on their cups. They were plane white cups with a cup holder with Claritin advertising on it. It looked like something you'd get at a gas station. It was better than Starbucks but not sure if it was worth driving 8 miles for.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Hummus Recipe

Hummus Recipe I've wanted to make hummus for some time but kept putting it off and putting it off and I have no idea why. It's so easy to make and once I made it, I was hooked and have made it at least half a dozen times already this year. I first made it to snack on during the Superbowl, serving it with carrot and celery sticks. I've made a few different variations of it and like experimenting.  I had a tasty spinach hummus at Andalous Mediterranean Grill in Texas last month and am looking forward to adding some spinach to my next batch.

I've tried both a food process and a blender to make the hummus and found the hummus to be a bit creamier with the blender and is my preference.  Some people go through the trouble of peeling all the beans to make it even smoother but I don't have the patience for that and don't think it would make that big of a difference.

Below is the recipe I've used the last couple of times I've made it and it has gotten rave reviews from people, including Mark, who claimed to not like hummus before he tried mine. You can alter the amount of garlic and spice to suit your tastes. I prefer a garlicy hummus and usually use 3 garlic cloves.

Recipe: Gapey's Grub Hummus

Yield: approximately 2.5 cups
Total time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 can garbanzo beans
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
juice of one lemon, approx. 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

toasted pine nuts
dash of paprika
whole garbanzo beans

1. Drain beans, saving liquid for possible use.
2. Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, adding a tbsp or more of saved liquid or water to thin.
3. Garnish with toasted pine nuts. paprika and/or garbanzo beans.
4. Serve with sticks of carrots and celery or pita bread or pita chips.
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