Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vintage Kitchen - Norfolk Restaurant Week

* While the meals were tasty, bad service tainted our experience. It's too bad because I would have loved to continue supporting a local business. 

Vintage Kitchen is known for it's great views and usage of local and regional food which I always appreciate! They were also voted One of America's Best New Restaurants by Conde Nast Traveler in 2006.
Over the weekend we ventured to Norfolk to get a taste of Vintage Kitchen during restaurant week.  I'll admit I wasn't too impressed with the staff at the front of the house, but once we were seated with a nice view of the Elizabeth River and a friendly server, I couldn't complain.

While they did not have any items aside from the restaurant week menu, it did not disappoint. They offered a $30/3 Course meal for dinner.

Five Points Farm Market Sugar Pie Pumpkin Soup With Cinnamon Croutons
The soup was awesome! Sweet and savory...who doesn't like a good pumpkin soup?
21 Day Aged Beef Tournedos With A. Smith Bowman’s Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce
The portion was small, but filling enough for me. The meat was tender and actually cooked to my asking. It came with a little medley of mixed vegetables which were good too.

A few of my friends ordered the Black and White Truffle Mac and Cheese, it was great! Rich, "truffly," and just perfect!
Bittersweet Chocolate Parfait With Sea Salt Caramel And Newsoms Peanut Brittle
The dessert was sinfully awesome. It was a great combination of sweet and bittersweet, it reminded me of an Almond Roca. I love that it was topped with fresh whipped cream as well. 

Another dessert ordered that was a table favorite was the Twice Drunken Bread Pudding, it was moist and just sweet enough...unlike the bread pudding on Todd's Burger Bar's restaurant week. Their bread pudding was probably the worst any of us had ever had.

I'm looking forward to going back to Vintage Kitchen for a regular lunch or dinner and explore the rest of their menu! If you have a restaurant week coming up in your city, be sure to take advantage of it and go try something new!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Banana/Peanut Butter/Nutella Ice Cream

Bananas, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate...you can't really go wrong with this combo. I've seen this super easy and healthy alternative to ice cream in various magazines and finally decided to try it out in my new food processor.

(This photo looks a little more like FroYo, but you can always pop it back in the freezer and scoop it later)

Ice Cream (Serves 2-3)
Time: 10mins

- 2-3 Frozen Bananas ( They can be sliced and frozen or you can freeze them whole)
- 1-2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
- 1 Tbsp Nutella ( You can use cocoa powder instead)
 Or you can skip the Nutella and mix in some chocolate chips (dark, semi, or milk) at the end

  1. If you used whole frozen bananas, you can thaw the peel by placing it in warm water for about 2 mins. Then you can chop and pull off the peel. 
  2. Place the Bananas in your food processor/blender and start to mix.
  3. Add the Nutella and PB and continue to mix until everything is well blended! You can always mix in some chocolate chips at the end for a little extra indulgence. YUM!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

VB Restaurant Week - Steinhilber's

I love restaurant week! Although my husband never seems to be in town for them, I've been able to share some fun eats with great friends in whichever city I've been living in. I think it's a really great chance to go try a new restaurant or go back to a favorite spot.


I have been hearing about Steiny's for quite some time, so I was excited to try out their restaurant week menu.

The restaurant is tucked inside of a neighborhood, luckily it is well lit so you can't miss it! The interior was that of a nicer old fashioned steak house, there's a lot of wood, simple tables draped in white linens, and a nice fireplace in the middle.  The downstairs had a completely different feel...totally modern. It was primarily white but the lighting helped make the room feel "warm." I believe it was recently renovated and while it worked, it was almost too different compared to the rest of the place.

 Overall, it wasn't the best meal I've had in town, but it was good and I'm glad we got to try it. I'm looking forward to going back with my man during a regular week.

Signature Fried Shrimp - Though it isn't what I wanted, it is one of Steiny's signature items so I had to get it. It was a nice big and meaty fried shrimp, but at the end of the day it was still friend shrimp.

Parmesean Polenta Cakes with Mushrooms -  My friend got this and it was pretty delicious! The mushrooms were great and the reduced balsamic drizzle added a nice sweetness to the dish.

Nothing spectacular, just a house salad that came with a variety of dressings. Very simple and I remember it being pretty fresh, again reminds me of a plain house salad you get at an old fashioned steak house.

 Prime Rib with Aus Jus and a Twice Baked Potato - My steak could've been a little warmer, but it was tender and flavorful.

I had asked for their Sin Pie, but they were still making it so I got the Tapicoa instead. It had fresh strawberries and a mountain of whipped cream...so there wasn't much that could go wrong with it.

A combination of dinner rolls and cornbread. The cornbread was the best part of the basket...I love me some cornbread!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Rainy Day Soul

Aside from snuggling up on the couch with a great book or movie, soup is one of my favorite things for a cold, rainy day. My husband also had the sniffles that week so I figured it would be good for him too.

Depending on your schedule, you can just use store bought chicken stock and a rotisserie chicken for this recipe. If you have the time, I suggest you make it whole shebang! You can set this aside and eat it during the week or even freeze it for later.

Chicken Orzo Soup (Serves 6-8)
Time: 3-4hrs (30min Prep)

- 1 Chicken
- 32z Low Sodium Broth
- 1qt+2c Water
- 2 Gold Yukon Potatoes, chopped (You can use whatever you want here or even a root vegetable)
- 5 Carrots, chopped
- 5 Celery Stalks, chopped
- 3 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 Sweet Onion, chopped
- 1 Bay leaf
- Cayenne Pepper, 3-4 Dashes
- 1/2 tsp+ Curry Powder (It adds a nice sweet and nutty flavor!)
- 1-1 1/2 tsp of Salt
- 1/2 tsp of Thyme
- 1c of Orzo (Optional)
- Pepper, to taste

  1. Add Stock, Water, Bay leaf and Chicken to a pot and set to boil.  
  2. Once the soup is boiling, add chopped carrots and celery, set to medium low and cover for 1-1 1/2hrs.              
  3. Constantly remove the foam and skim the fat with a spoon.
  4. After Chicken is cooked, remove from the pot and remove the skin and shred the chicken.
  5. Return shredded chicken along with the onion, potatoes, and the rest of the spices. Cook for another hour or so on low. 
  6. 20mins before serving, add your cup of orzo if desired and cook on medium until pasta is cooked.
  7. Finally add any other seasonings your soup may require and enjoy! I personally like to add some sriracha chili sauce to mine!           

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homemade Granola

After complaining about how expensive the natural granola is at the store, I finally got around to making my own! I made this easy, crunchy granola the other night to sprinkle on top of our greek yogurt. It came out extra crunchy, but it was my first time making it. Don't worry though I've revised it for you. 

Time: 1hr Prep and Cook

- 2c of Old Fashioned Oats
- 1/3c of Coconut Oil ( You can substitute Nut Oil or Vegetable Oil)
Several of my family and friends have been using coconut oil recently so I decided to give it a try.  I love it! I bought my organic version at the store for nearly $10 but saw it at Trader Joes for somewhere around $5. Definitely worth trying, click here to check out the benefits and uses of Coconut Oil.
- 1/3c of Honey
- 1/3+c of Raw Almonds
- 1/3+c of Dried fruit (I like using cranberries)
- 1/4tsp of Vanilla
- 1/2tsp of Cinnamon
  1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Melt your coconut oil, remove from heat and add your honey and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Place your oats, almonds, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together. You can add in any other type of nuts, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc. at this point.
  4. Add your oil and honey mixture to the dry ingredients and make sure everything is evenly coated.
  5. Once the oats are coated place granola on a pan lined with parchment paper and pop it in the oven for about 30-35 mins.
  6. Halfway through cook time, mix in your dried fruit and toss the mixture.
  7. After the granola browned it to your liking, remove from oven and let it cool.
Enjoy adding whatever you want to this recipe!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Caribbean Room

Finally, a long overdue dining adventure post. My friend and I went to The Caribbean Room at Havana Nights Jazz and Cigar Club last night and it was great! Granted we decided on this restaurant due to long wait times at the place we had planned on dining at, I'm really glad it worked out. "Everything happens for a reason," even in foodie situations.  It is a fairly small and cozy dining space so I would recommend making reservations for your future visit.

Aside from the enjoyable dining, you can purchase tickets to have dinner and enjoy jazz music in their "smoke free" lounge. They also have a members cigar lounge upstairs that includes: cigars, bar, and dining.

Photo Source: www.havananightsvb.com

Chipotle Pineapple Mojito - $11
I really enjoyed my cocktail though it could be a little on the sweet side for some. The chipotle was very subtle and I loved that there was plenty of FRESH, muddled mint leaves. I assume the regular mojitos are pretty good too.


Duck Empanadas - $14
The plate came with two empanadas and a mango chutney. The crust was fluffy and the duck confit was perfect when paired with the chutney.

Butter Roasted Mushroom Bruschetta - $12
The mushrooms had a nice meaty and smoky flavor to them and the cotija cheese added a nice saltiness to the bruschetta.  

We had wanted to try the Tostones with Sofrito, but the chef didn't want to use the plantains. Our server said the shipments they had been receiving were not up to the chef's standards which I can appreciate. 


Grouper Special - $22
The grouper was coffee crusted and served with a hash that consisted of potatoes, duck "prosciutto" and brussel sprouts. It was really delicious and a perfect pairing between the mild grouper and the saltiness added by the hash. I am going to try to recreate that hash at home!

I have to note that they ship their awesome Cuban bread in from La Segunda Bakery in Tampa, Fl. It has a nice light crust and a super soft center. Have I mentioned I love bread? 

If you're looking for a new place to try in town or going on a date night be sure to check out Havana Nights! Cheers!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pomegranate and Pear Salad with Candied Pecans

Happy New Year friends! For our first dinner at home we made the Spicy Honey Chicken (previously posted) and a Pomegranate and Pear Salad.  It's a delightful and fresh salad that I made on 3 different occasions in one week during the holidays. The salad also includes homemade candied pecans and shaved cheese tossed in a light balsamic dressing! If you want to cut some calories you can just throw in some fresh nuts(instead of candied) and exclude the cheese.

Pomegranate and Pear Salad
Time: 30mins
- 1 Pomegranate
- Salad, I used a 5oz Organic Spinach Container
- 1 Pear thinly sliced
- Shaved Cheese , I used a Parm, Asiago, Romano blend

 Candied Pecans
- 1/2-1c Pecans
- 1/2 -1tbsp pat of Butter
- 2 tbsp of Sugar

- 2tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 2-3tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard ( Yellow or Dijon works)
  1. Set aside 1/2-1c of Pecans.
  2. For the Pecans, add 1/2 tbsp pat to 1 tbsp pat of butter and melt on medium.
  3. Once butter begins to melt, add your sugar and let it melt. Keep an eye out so it doesn't burn!
  4. After a few minutes throw in your pecans, turn off the heat, and coat the nuts in the caramel like mixture.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside on parchment paper or a cutting board and let them cool.
  6. Cut off the top portion of the pomegranate and soak the pomegranate in cold water for about 10-15minutes. Next you will use your hands to tear apart the pom and remove the seeds.
  7.  Throw away the peel and drain the seeds to a strainer. They require a little work, but they're so good for you!
  8. Thinly slice your pear and set aside while you make the dressing.
  9. Mix the ingredients above for your dressing with a whisk and sprinkle some pepper if you desire.
  10. Finally, toss it all together and enjoy!
 Hope you all had a fun and safe time ringing in 2012 and made some resolutions to keep this year.  Personally I'm horrible at keeping resolutions so I'm just planning to eat healthier, exercise more, paint more, learn more, and love more.  I'm thinking that it's an attainable plan! Hope to bring you some fun posts and recipes in 2012!