{top 5 of 2011}

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! I know I’ve only been here since July, but I’ve had so much fun blogging and sharing recipes and restaurants and a little bit of everything else with you that I thought it would be fun to recap a few of my favorite posts of the (half) year. Before I begin, I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you who stops by be it every day or just every once and awhile–your encouragement and support is what keeps me going!

Okay, onto the top 5.

5. Clam Chowder in Bread Bowls

I’ve always loved clam chowder (and maybe the bread bowls even more!), but it never occurred to try and make it at home. I’m so glad it finally did though because this was definitely one of my favorite meals of the year.

Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl

4. Savor the Central Coast

I was beyond excited when Savor the Central Coast put discount tickets up on Groupon and even more excited when the day of the event actually came. I tried oysters for the first time, sampled way too much wine and beer, and got to immerse myself in the area that I love so much.

Savor the Central Coast

3. Beer Battered Fish and Chips

This recipe just turned out so good that I had to include it. Fish and chips are a staple on menus in this area, but I must say I’ve become rather partial to our own…

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

2. Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas

This was one of those random recipes that just came together without much effort. Don’t you love it when that happens? They also happen to be pretty darn good.

Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla

1. Mission: Smoke Fish Tacos

This was the post that started it all. A trip to Cayucos, a girl with a camera, and the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. Seriously, I still have dreams about how good this meal was.

Salmon Fish Tacos

Here’s to an even better 2012!

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{Homemade Eggels}

Eggel

After visiting Nautical Bean and eating their eggels about a million times, I decided it was about time to make one on my own. This recipe is less a recipe and more an assemblage, but the results were oh-so-good that I thought I’d just have to share. This would be perfect to fuel you up for any New Year’s Eve dancing or could be modified to use half of a bagel thin or low fat cream cheese to make it more waistline friendly. But we have two more days before we have to worry about that, right?

Eggel Recipe:

Makes 1 eggel

Print recipe!

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 everything bagel

1 tablespoon cream cheese

4-5 thin slices red onion

1 tablespoon salsa

1/4 cup fresh microgreens or sprouts

1 tablespoon butter

Salt

Pepper

Steps:

Toast bagel.

In a medium frying pan, heat butter until melted. Add eggs and scramble. Sprinkle with desired amounts of salt and pepper.

Spread cream cheese on toasted bagel. Add egg, onion, salsa, and sprouts.

Enjoy!

{Wild Donkey Cafe}

The Wild Donkey Cafe

Photo from thewilddonkeycafe.com

The Wild Donkey Cafe is another somewhat new restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo specializing in Mexican and Greek food. Odd combination, right? On the menu, the owner explains that since the two cuisines have similar uses of ingredients and methods of cooking, they thought it would be a natural evolution to start a restaurant serving the two. And since they’re two of my favorite types of food, I was pretty excited when I heard about The Wild Donkey’s unique menu!

The Wild Donkey Cafe

The restaurant opened about a year ago, but Jeff and I just had a chance to go check it out a few weeks ago to celebrate the end of our quarter and of my student teaching. Going in, I knew it was going to be a difficult decision: Mexican or Greek? It took be about 25 minutes (over a glass of wine, of course!) to decide but eventually I was tempted by their vegetarian soup special: lentil soup with a tomato broth (don’t judge!). The soup was one of the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant–not too salty and full of flavor. Sorry for the dark photos–they had their mood lighting in full effect!

Lentil Soup

I also ordered a side of pita bread with Melitzanosalata–an eggplant and tomato pureed dip. This stuff is addicting–now I really want to try to make it next time we get eggplant in our CSA box!

Pita Bread

Jeff also ordered a special–their pastistio. Pastistio is a Greek baked pasta/lasagna dish with elbow macaroni, ground lamb, tomato, egg, cheese, and cinnamon. I don’t eat lamb, but Jeff assured me it was delicious!

Patistio

For dessert, we shared the cinnamon ice cream and a side of baklava and it was seriously the best dessert I’ve had in a long time.

Dessert

The restaurant itself is pretty tiny, but has a great cozy feel and friendly, quick service.

We will definitely be back soon! You can check out more about The Wild Donkey Cafe here.

{Barbecue Chicken Pizza}

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

When Jeff and I were dating, we used to love to go to California Pizza Kitchen for their Barbecue Chicken Pizza. When we got older and started cooking on our own, it became our mission to make the best and closest copy at our own home. Now, this pizza is something we make at least once a month, and probably more like once every two weeks. In fact, when I told Jeff I wanted to blog about it, he was so sure that I already had that I had to do a search on my own blog! Like I thought, it wasn’t there, but I’m happy to be sharing the recipe with you now because it’s that good!

There’s just something comforting about BBQ chicken pizza–it tastes like it should be horrible for you, but if you use the right ingredients, it can be a pretty decent meal. We like to use Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce because it actually has real ingredients in it and not all of that processed sugar, but use what you like best. Also, I think the cilantro is the icing on the cake, but I would put cilantro on pretty much everything if I had the choice!

We used our standard pizza dough recipe (below), but you could also use a pre-made one as well. We love the Trader Joe’s dough when we’re feeling lazy!

Pizza Dough Recipe:

Print recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package (1/4 oz.) of active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
Steps:
  1. Measure one cup of warm water (approx. 110 degrees)
  2. Transfer water to medium size bowl
  3. Rehydrate yeast by sprinkling it into the warm water for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast.
  4. Add first two tablespoons of olive oil, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture.
  5. Mix in 2 cups of flour
  6. Turn out the dough onto a clean, well-floured surface
  7. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until no longer sticky. Add more flour as necessary while you knead
  8. Transfer the kneaded dough into a bowl with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
  9. Cover with a moist cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 2 hours).
  10. Punch down and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes before rolling out.
  11. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Let dough rise for another 15 minutes before applying toppings.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza Recipe:

Makes 4 servings

Print recipe!

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (see above), rolled out to about 18 inches in diameter

1 chicken breast

1 cup mozzarella cheese, packed

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Pepper

Olive Oil

Steps:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.

In a small bowl, combine paprika, pepper, salt to form a rub.

Coat chicken breast with rub and place in frying pan. Sear chicken on both sides, remove and cut into strips, then place back in frying pan. Fry until cooked all the way through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken and chop.

Place pizza dough on a large baking sheet or pizza stone. Coat with barbecue sauce then add cheese, red onion, and chicken.

Place in oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust has slightly browned.

Top with cilantro, slice, and enjoy!