Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Med

Happy hour is the best time of day.  College student or not this is the time to relax, have a drink and enjoy some delicious snacks... at least I take happy hour as a time for this.  Some forego the food and just stick to the drinks and others do not relax and use this as the pregame for the pregame, starting the night verrry early.

If you are interested in getting the most bang for your buck while enjoying some of the best tapas around, I highly suggest The Med on Walnut Street in Boulder.  Happy hour is from 3 - 6:30, 7 days a week!!

With 21 cold tapas & 15 hot tapas, ALL priced below $6 each, it easy to find one, two, even three small dishes you love!  And, if you are a big eater I promise you will not be disappointed in these 'small' plates as they are anything but, most come in huge portions and the pizzas are fully-sized! 

And, do not let me forget the drinks!  
The Med has great sangria, $1 off draft beers and $4 wells during happy hour...  
All delicious!  

The last time I was here for happy hour I had forgotten my wallet and only had my I.D. and $20...  what did I order?

Deviled eggs: omg YUM! Made with Harissa, can't go wrong

Gambas Ajillo: Shrimp with garlic & lemon

Prosciutto & Melon: classic, served with basil infused EVOO

Caprese Salad: simple, delicious & refreshing

and a drink!

All for under $20...

I honestly did not need this much food, I shared almost 1/4 of each dish and still left barely able to move.  The service was great and the food came out incredibly fast.  This is a great spot close to the hill for students to try;  the prices are more than manageable during happy hour and the small plates allow you to mix & match, trying a little bit of everything like I did!  

Super Duper Food

I love all vegetables and I truly don't understand those people who claim to not enjoy their veggies!!  There are, of course, a few that nearly everyone dislikes and unfortunately, the brussel sprout is one these despised foods!!


I, on the other hand, love these strange little things and I am a converter.  I have been known to make a dish that is so good you won't even know you are eating brussel sprouts...  And when you make it at home it is yummy and affordable!  If you cook for just yourself you can eat this more than once.

Here is all you need:

1 - 2 large sweet potatoes 
1 bag of Brussel sprouts [1 lb. can be used more than once]
Balsamic vinegar
1 Shallot [as much as you like to taste, I love this flavor]
S&P to taste

I typically will cube the sweet potatoes in 1/4 inch pieces, cut the sprouts in half and mince the shallots.

Then brown the shallots in a little butter in a frying pan, adding the vegetables just before they get too dark.  

I do NOT add the vinegar right away but wait until the end when everything is basically cooked through.  Lower the heat and drizzle some over the dish, mixing it up afterwards.  

I am always a fan of adding bacon to dishes and this is no exception, its reallllly good with bacon crumbled on top or some fried pancetta!!  

This also great brain food, these little mini cabbages are a super food and a great source of fiber, low in sodium and cholesterol free!  A part of the cruciferous family, research has suggested that they have phytochemicals [plant compounds with protective properties] in them also.  

This tasty, fast, affordable and healthy.. A win, win, win, win for the starving student, and trust me!  Try this once and you will change your mind about those brussel sprouts!

Making Mondays Happy Again

I haven't been in weeks but my favorite happy hour and a super affordable option on a Monday afternoon is CENTRO!

This Latin Kitchen has happy hour alllllll day Monday, yes all day!  While many restaurants offer great deals it can be hard to fit that happiest of hours into your evening... At Centro, as long as you can keep track of the days of the week, you are good to go!

Every dish on their Happy Hour menu is amazing, truly.  Last time I went I tried to order and eat one of everything, I could not.

here are a few of my favorites:

#1:  green chili hush puppy [i even re-ordered 1/2 through for 2nds]
#2:  fried eggs, they come in a pool of fabulous salsa, the yolks are perfectly soft
#3:  Smoked Pork Shoulder Barbacoa Taco- OMG!

Also, chips & salsa are obviously a must, if you can handle the heat get the apricot & habanero salsa, it is literally to DIE for.  The other salsas and guac are not to be forgotten... check out this fun video the BigRedF posted for us! 
[The BigRedF owns and operates many, many super delicious restaurants in Denver, Boulder and Ft. Collins-- I highly suggest them all!]


I LOVE a good surprise!

So, for my friends birthday on Monday I decided to plan a little surprise dinner for the next night, and I knew we had to get sushi!!  I already know of, love, obsess and DREAM about Japango on Pearl but on a Tuesday night, with a group it would be a nightmare.  [Tuesdays are dedicated to All You Can Eat, amazing, go!]  truly, best $30 spent. ever.

So...  I decided to try something outside of the norm, and made a reservation at Kasa Sushi at 15th and Pearl.  

Obviously sushi is a little bit of a splurge and might not make the cut for a typical weeknight but for a birthday?  Absolutely worth it.  Or so I thought.

Don't get me wrong, I do not feel guilt over a few spent dollars, but this experience was a little over the top, even for me.

I split just about everything with my friend, Paige and we spent a combined...

for 2 people? yes.

What we got:
A Flaming Volcano [might have put us over the edge: $22]
[boozy rum drink, too much syrup, not enough 151]

Tempura Asparagus Roll [ my #1 ]

Heart Attack [think jalapeno popper with spicy tuna!] mmm

Special Roll [basically their version of Hapa's famous 69 roll]

Moral of the story:  Kasa sushi was pretty good.  Not as good as Hapa, which I believe is not nearly as good as Japango, but good.

If my mom and dad wanted to take me to dinner?  Maybe.  But really, who wants to waste their money on something that is still less than best? 

Next Tuesday's splurge?  All You Can Eat!!

The Food Plate

As a college student I often find myself ignoring what I know to be good for my body and choosing the unhealthy option... this occasionally is true of things other than food as well, oops!  I don't consider myself to be extraordinarily unhealthy but I was totally shocked when I heard that there was a new food pyramid that the USDA was promoting!

Remember this??  I sure do...
This is no longer the voice of reason, apparently.

What is wrong with the original food pyramid [which was revamped in '05] ??

"it created food hierarchies, while many nutritionists complained that it encouraged people to eat too many grains"

The new and improved food "pyramid" looks a little something like this...

This is more of a general guide put out by the USDA but I think we can all learn a little something from this easy-to-read diagram.  About half of each meal should be dedicated to fresh fruits and vegetables, and half to whole grains and lean, mean protein such as chicken.  If you like maybe a small serving of dairy on the side!  

Eating well is the first step to feeling good and getting your brain up and running, try to plan your meals for a week around this plate and see how it goes!

To learn more about this new plan and other related topics check out this fun, interactive website!

Cauliflower Power

After eating at The Taj I was inspired by an amazing cauliflower dish, so I decided to make my own.  I did not follow a recipe and I did not make an Indian-inspired dish.. but what I did make was delicious all on its own.

One of my absolute favorite things to eat is Brown Butter Sauce... sounds healthy, right?  It is not.  I have been eating anything and everything with this sauce for my entire life and the day that my mom showed me how to make it, my life changed.  

So now I will pass this super simple sauce on to you:

1 stick of unsalted butter
1-2 Tbs. (thats TABLEspoons) of your fave vinegar 
[usually I go for sherry but any will do, balsamic is great too!]
if you are feeling daring throw in a little fresh, dried or even fried sage 

You may want to use a size larger pot than you expect to need, it will probably bubble up the sides and make a mess!

it is very important that you follow the directions or you will burn the fat in the butter, you will ruin your sauce and waste a whole stick of butter... not good!

1.  on LOW heat melt the stick of butter, keep melting it, and wait until you notice a little white foam forming on the top/bottom/edges of the pan

2.  keep cooking the butter on low until this white foam [which is in fact the fat in the butter] begins to turn a lovely golden-brown

3.  At this point you have a choice, the longer you are willing to risk letting the butter burn, the more flavorful your sauce will be... but if you are not feeling risky take it off the heat!!

4.  while the pan is off the heat, pour the vinegar [which you have measured out & waiting] into the butter and wait for the magic to happen!

This sauce is delicious with anything, its super delicious with Butternut Squash Ravioli, on a fried egg or really with anything, what isn't better with butter??

One more thing this sauce is delicious on?  CAULIFLOWER!  All you need is a lemon [or lime!], some garlic, butter and cauliflower...

Here's how:

1.  Start by browning a little butter, you don't need a whole stick for 1/2 head of cauliflower
2.  Mince [chop very finely] some garlic while you wait, once the butter is brown add this to the butter
***garlic burns VERY quickly & tastes terrible, hurry to the next step!
3.  Juice your lemon or lime into the sauce
4.  Add the cauliflower & turn up the heat a little to medium/medium-high 
5.  Once it's cooked all the way through you can brown as long as you like 
[i like everything dark & crispy!!]

Cauliflower is not everyone's favorite veggie but it is super healthy and when prepared in such a flavorful way it is easy to disguise what you thought to be a nasty taste.  Who knows maybe you will change your mind!


Snack Time!

Although we swore we would never put ourselves through this again, I think we have all found ourselves in a similar position.

Finals week is creeping up and no matter what your resolutions were this semester chances are you are not as on top of things as you would like to be.  Everyone has that one class they slept through every now and then, the one extra long paper you decided to start 'tomorrow' or the exam you reallllly need a B in to get the grade you want.  It's understandable... with so much going on in and outside of school it can be hard to keep it all straight and get your work done before the bitter end.  

Well, it is now the bitter end and while you are busy devoting a full week of your life to the library why not enjoy a few tasty snacks to keep you motivated?  It is pretty well-known that study breaks improve productivity and keep you refreshed, so next time you and your friends are sick of the hustle and bustle of Norlin, pack up your books and head to one of these conveniently located spots for a quick snack before you get back to it.  

The Taj at Broadway & Baseline in the Basemar shopping center is super close to campus and serves some pretty good Indian food.  My favorite thing is the lunch buffet, I am all about a buffet anywhere but especially at an Indian restaurant.  I used to be a super picky eater and this gives you the opportunity to try a little bite of everything without breaking the bank or wasting a huge amount of food.  Plus, when you have barely slept a wink and you need to get back to the library a buffet is fast, convenient and very affordable.  Not to mention The Taj is literally across the street from Wolf Law and Kittredge!

Hey, if you are really struggling for cash bring a zip-lock and fill your pockets!!  [that was a joke, I do not approve of stealing]

Nobody ever said you had to study on campus, so if you decide to hit up the Boulder Public Library on Arapahoe you are truly adventurous!  Not only have you stepped away from the Hill but you may even see a hobo or two sleeping in the library while you work.  Now that you have had that appetizing experience and you have gotten extraordinary amounts of work done it is snack time!!  [my favorite time]

Because you were adventurous you are now rewarded by hundreds of options around Pearl street, all within walking distance.  But... if you would like to actually return to your work I suggest staying a little closer.  Without even LEAVING the parking lot you have the opportunity to eat the best hot dog in Boulder.  I know that to some a hot dog is absolutely NOT appealing, but Mustard's is a Boulder tradition.  If a hot dog still is not your thing they offer numerous other delicious treats like buffalo burgers, italian sausages, VEGGIE dogs and ... my absolute favorite: their freshly made french fries.  Each order is individually fried and it is oh. so. worth it.