Category Archives: atlanta

Healthy Home-made Pumpkin Cheesecake

hot off the presses

hot off the presses

I am always on the look-out for healthy alternative desserts. Sometimes I buy chemical-laden products straight off the shelves of a supermarket, but I prefer to create my own. When it comes to calories coming from dessert, I’d like to know where they are coming from and what ingredients are involved. Enter my attempt at a Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Here’s a view of all included items:

Plus some whipped egg-whites:

separate and not equal

separate and not equal

whip it

whip it

After everything is incorporated into one bowl, this is what we’re dealing with:
Without any specific measurements, the final product came out better than expected. It was smooth-ish, but also has a semi-pudding consistency that was best used as a yogurt topping, rather than a slice of pie. You can’t expect the best cheesecake when substitutions are widespread, but this was one of my best efforts – 🙂

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Would You Eat This……TAP Edition?

I'm skinny

The above is the unwanted Trout skin from this week’s dinner at TAP. Lauren is not a big fish skin fan, and I gladly accept and consume her discarded seafood bits. While this particular skin was not crispy (the desired fish skin texture), the flavor was of a strong fish concentrate (in a good way). No doubt about it – I will continue to eat fish skin that is served to me as well as the unwanted skin on others’ plates.

TAP: A Gastropub in midtown Atlanta

Thursday evening, I was looking for a nearby restaurant to have a small dinner before a basketball game. After convincing myself not to go back to La Pietra Cucina for the 4th time in 3 weeks, and not being able to obtain a Tamarind Seed reservation, I secured an easy Opentable reservation at TAP.
Located at the corner of Peachtree and 14th, TAP is in the center of the Atlanta midtown scene. The al fresco patrons can watch the rooftop deck at Shout, the comings and goings at the 14th Street Playhouse, and the illegal parkers outside of Starbucks and Chick Fil-a. A self-proclaimed “american gastropub,” TAP aims to supply a “convivial place to have a pint or glass of wine”. Sounds aight to me, but what about the food? To answer that question TAP promises “seasonally driven innovative comfort food”. Let’s get to it –

To start we shared the black bean hummus and pita bread:

As you can see, the pita was charred and had just come out of the oven(or off the stove). It was hot and a wonderful device to scoop up the thick and creamy spread. The black bean hummus was topped with feta cheese and sliced jalepenos – the cheese wasn’t plentiful enough and therefore didn’t add much of anything, but the peppers provided a bite and a spice level to help the unexciting dip.

We dipped, scooped, spread, and wiped until there was no more:

I'm empty inside

We also shared an entree:

Seared trout with rapini and white bean ragout in a parsely, butter sauce. The fish was cooked well and tasted mild. While the barely flavored fish needed a strong sauce as an accompaniment, I felt the parsely/butter sauce was not the right fit. The sauce was green, and led me to believe it would be full of herb-y goodness, but the butter flavor overwhelmed the whole shebang. I absolutely love the combination of rapini (a bitter green) and white beans, but again, the sauce was a distraction (but not a fun one – sort of like cotton candy flavored fluoride the dentist fools you with in order to clean your teeth).

My portion:

The portion was quite large and conducive to sharing. As long as I wiped off a good amount of the sauce, I enjoyed the food.

[

I am


not beer


Obviously, I did not visit TAP for the intended purposes. A gastropub concept is lost on me, unless the food is stellar. The ever-shrinking menu makes it difficult for me to venture back over and over, but that’s not to say I adamantly disliked my food. For the time being, TAP will remain somewhere in the middle for me – not too much to rave about, but there is also no reason to write it off.

Plus, I can pretend I’m cool and say I go to a place that makes its own beer and has a ton of barrel wine selections (is that a cool thing to say?).

A glimpse of how it’s done below:


Tap on Urbanspoon

TAP
(404) 347-2220
1180 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
http://www.tapat1180.com

El Azteca for a work day lunch

During a busy workweek, it’s imperative to get out of the office for an hour or so to grab a bite to eat. This week, I lunched with my favorite work friend, Evie. We ran down the block to El Azteca, a mexican restaurant in midtown Atlanta. Although mexican food gets a bad wrap in Atlanta, the gnarly grub at El Azteca is consistently cheesy, fatty, and filling. It’s by no means great food (and many will argue it’s not even good food), but you do always get free chips and salsa.

I'm free!


The [free] chips and salsa come to the table right away. Hot from fryer and sprinkled with some salt, “it’s good” (says Evie). Personally, I like the non-chunky salsa for the nice amount of heat and the dressing-like consistency. The chips are a cunning distraction from the gaudy decor and the image-filled, Americanized menu.

the drinks are huge and refilled constantly

Evie got the lunch special: a chicken chimichanga with a guacamole salad (ensalada) and a side of [mexican] rice. (what makes it mexican rice, I have yet to find out.)

I'm the special one today!

The deep fried burrito was satisfying to Evie. Here is her review – “The pico de gallo was fresh, however the sour cream became warm and melty from the hot plate. Oh, and you can see the surplus of sour cream they give out in my empty plate picture below.” (Thanks Evie!)

job well done

In preparation for Thanksgiving weekend, I tried to stay healthy (which is quite a feat at El Azteca):

exceeded expectations


Other than the not-very-red-or-ripe tomatoes, the salad was pretty great. The lettuce was crisp, the avocado both firm and creamy, and the shrimp was seasoned well and sauteed to a T.

salsa was my dressing (you can see the extra drippings)

As far as El Azteca goes, it’s all about expectations. I had the lowest of the low expectations, and thus, I was pleasantly surprised.

My advice — come here for a quick mid-week meal with an empty stomach and your lowest expectations. Or, don’t eat the Mexican food and create your own salad.

Update: I was just told by a different work friend (Lauren) that her chicken tacos tasted like Campbell’s chicken noodle soup = FAIL. Quote, “it was even liquid-y and gross”

El Azteca Mexican Restaurant III on Urbanspoon

Buckhead
(404) 249-1522
1784 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Pig’s Face on the grill

I have returned to this photo over and over again. Ever since this little piggy stared me down at the Cabbagetown Stomp & Chomp Chili Cook Off, I have edited and re-edited the pic. And the more I look at it, the weirder I feel. The scorched porkster looks almost content; maybe even happy. Or maybe I’ve just convinced myself of that over the past 2 weeks. I just wonder who ate this guy’s face and if he/she has been thinking about Mr. pig as much as me…

Ice cream social

I bring happiness to the people

You know you work at a cool company when this dude shows up on a Friday afternoon. Time for a ice cream sundae social at work!

We even had a choice of flavors:

who got the sherbert?

and a table full of sugary toppings:

I went with Moose Tracks (vanilla with peanut butter cups and chocolate fudge) topped with rainbow sprinkles and a drop of chocolate syrup. I really wanted to take a picture for y’all, but you know the ice cream rule – eat quickly, before it melts.

Vikings Cooking School: cook your dinner and then eat it

Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School, located inside the Viking store in midtown. This event was a perk that’s associated with my daytime job and happened to tie into my nighttime job (hobby) quite perfectly.

*Updated*
Here’s the menu for the night labeled “Dinner Around the World”:
Tuscan Grilled Vegetable Platter
Thai Spring Rolls with sweet & sour sauce
Roasted Chicken (5 different varieties)
Cuban-style Rice Pilaf with black beans
Chocolate-covered strawberries stuffed with Amaretto cream cheese
And now it’s time for another story by photo segment:

we arrived to some snacks


and drinks


the clean kitchen prior to cooking


our chef gets the lesson started with a raw chicken


Chang and Kenny dove into the poultry preparation


stuffed with an onion, among other things


Brad gets excited by chicken (or knives?)


ready for roasting


Eli gets comfy in his chef whites


and with his knife


the crew preps the ingredients


while some of the guys drink and stand around


Josh gets veggies ready for the grill


and Kim mans the grill


and she grills


and grills


a post-grill rainbow


Don't forget us! Eli and I also grilled


Eli and Josh focus: they learn to make a spring roll


plop in some filling


Kenny demonstrates the roll


ready for the fryer


Kim shows the hollowed strawberries for dessert


tip of the day: use a glass to fill a piping bag


tip of the day demonstrated


berries filled with cream cheese, amaretto, confectioners sugar


chocolate to be melted


Kim and Jenna dip the berries, but the chocolate remains on their hands


taste trumps looks


Brad likes the spread of food


and shows off his personalized plate


spring rolls ready to eat!


chopped chicken


grilled veggies topped with parmigiano cheese


mmmmmmmm


extra desserts that we had nothing to do with

This event was super fun and I highly recommend it for a team-building outing, a girls'(guys’) night out, or just a change of pace activity shared among friends. We ate well, drank plenty, learned a few things, and most importantly – we didn’t clean up a thing!

Full menu will be updated shortly for those who are interested.

The Viking Store
1745 Peachtree Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309-2404
404.745.9064
http://www.thevikingstore.net