< Blame it on the Food
 

Cafe Gratitude in Santa Cruz

Written by Les on February 23rd, 2014

Have you been to a Cafe Gratitude somewhere in California?

When my bestfriend comes to town from Denver, Colorado she always wants to go to Cafe Gratitude. Mind you, she is a yogi health nut. However, she has good taste in food. She actually said that they only thing missing from her beloved Denver is Cafe Gratitude! She also hits up the Cafe Gratitude location in LA when she goes to work there. In addition there is a Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley.

Cafe Gratitude is vegan and organic that even non-vegans enjoy. I would say, just a head’s up, it is on the pricier side.

My BF’s favorite lunch are the tacos (I am Transformed) and the mint cacao shake. AND, she can never eat all of the taco’s dish, never fails.

I like the Sea vegetables and kale bowl with steamed quinoa or brown rice (or a mix of both), house-made kim chee, carrots and sprouts with tahini-garlic sauce (pictured above).

I will add more to this post soon.

http://cafegratitude.com/


  • 103 Lincoln St
    Santa Cruz, CA 95060


 

Bantam: Santa Cruz

Written by Les on November 1st, 2013

Bantam is a fairly new restaurant in Santa Cruz that serves wood-fired pizzas (with local ingredient toppings), great snacks (appetizers), locavore seasonal creative vegetable dishes and salads (such as Early Girl Tomatoes).  We’ve been to Bantam a few times now and have loved the food more and more at every visit. It is a good place for groups or couples and we even brought our 3 month old son one Friday evening (louder, lively setting).  The setting is sparse with an open kitchen. The ambiance is lively from all of the talking tables as it is just all around a good spot for a fun weekend meal.  We’ve taken friends from out of town and they have really appreciated the local and seasonal ingredients used in the creative dishes.  The snacks are quite creative and we’ve tried them all: Carrot, turnip and green bean PICKLES, AVOCADO TOAST with sesame, chili and lime, Cherry tomato with BURRATA and tarragon, Warm marinated OLIVES (order all of them if you have a group of 4-6).

I just read on their facebook page that Wednesday is Hamburger Wednesday at Bantam, looks super tasty!

What does BANTAM mean you ask?  A small breed of chickens I believe.

Check out their menu online as the food changes a bit by the season.

http://www.bantam1010.com/

Open for dinner only.

Closed on Sundays.

 

Need Ideas for Dinner Party Themes?

Written by Les on October 26th, 2013

We have had a dinner club that we call “Gourmet” for almost 2 1/2 years now.

So this means we have had about 27 meals together.

Many fear we will run out of ideas!

If you need an idea for a dinner party, check out our list of the dinner themes we’ve used so far.

We think ten people works best or five couples (eight people would work well too).

The way we do it is, the host picks the theme and recipes, disperses them to the group, and the host makes the main dish and a special drink.

I’ve profiled the highlighted Dinner Themes that we wrote about in more depth.

Get Creative and let us know of any themes you have tried out for dinner parties!

27 Ideas for Dinner Party Themes:

  1. Big Sur Cookbooks Recipe Dinner (Recipes from Big Sur Restaurants and Places such as Esalen, Tassajara, Nepenthe …)
  2. Rustic Italian Feast
  3. Mardi Gras Dinner (Muffaleta, Dirty Rice, Gumbo Z’Herbes, Hush Puppies, King Cake Recipe …)
  4. Brinner: Breakfast for Dinner
  5. ROYGBIV Indian Dinner (All dishes made up the colors of the rainbow, yes, seriously! + a Blue Drink)
  6. Family Favorite Holiday Recipe Party (Guests all brought a dish that was a holiday family favorite in their family)
  7. Chinese New Year Dinner
  8. Adult Sleepover Dinner
  9. Irish St. Paty’s Day Shenanigans Party
  10. Earth Day Dinner (Fresh from Farmer’s Market Recipes)
  11. Mexican ‘Baja’ Style Dinner + Refried black beans (from Cafe Elote)
  12. 4th of July Gourmet Burger Party
  13. Summer Picnic: With little ants on table (Gourmet Sandwich Bar, Pasta Salad …)
  14. Sushi Dinner
  15. Make your own Fast Food: Fast Food Made Slow (Mini Big Macs, Wendy’s Chili, Frosty’s …)
  16. Spanish Tapas & Couples Interactive Dinner Party Dating Game
  17. Winter Feast: Cookie Exchange (Roast, Carrot Soup w/ Kale Chip, Sun Dried Tomato Crostini, Hot Chocolate Bar …)
  18. Mediterranean Dinner
  19. Crab Crackin’ + Dice (Paper down on table: Crab, Cornbread, Potatoes, Brownies …)
  20. Betty Crocker Cookbook Dinner
  21. Italian Finger Food 420 Munchies + Italian NeoRealist Film (Mozzarella Sticks, Romaine Salad Cups, Spaghetti Squash Alfredo)
  22. Spa Salad Bar (Zucchini Soup, Salad Bar with Toppings, Water w/ Cucumber, Mini-Chocolate Dipped Bananas etc …)
  23. French Theme (Coq Au Van & All Recipes from one Particular French Cookbook)
  24. Fresh Mex (Home-made Chips, Guacamole, Ceviche…)
  25. End of Summer BBQ Ribs (Ribs, Corn, Arugula Salad w/ Mango, Strawberry Shortcake …)
  26. Bring your Favorite Take-Out (Wings from Hooters, El Pastor Burritos, Samosas, Big Gulps from 711 …)
  27. British Pub Themed Dinner (Shepard’s Pie, Chips with Curry Sauce, Sausages, Peas, Banofee …)
 

Drinks @ the PARADOX HOTEL in Santa Cruz

Written by Les on May 23rd, 2013

I know there aren’t many of you looking for non-alcoholic drinks to sip on when your friends go out for cocktails but this is a great NA drink featured at the Paradox Hotel (Solaire Poolside Bar) in Santa Cruz.  I am not exactly sure of the name of this drink but twice now I’ve just asked the bartender to make me a good NA drink and the photograph above shows off what they make!

For your drinking friends, they do offer some local beers on draft (Santa Cruz Ale Works i.p.a. and amber ale) and wine too of course.  At the moment they only have Soju cocktails but they are inline for a liquor license beyond beer and wine.  We like munch on their Marcona almonds.

You can order drinks and sit outside by their pool and sip away!

Cocktail Bar Menu

The Solaire does have a happy hour too:

Solaire Happy Hour

$5 Apps & Drinks
Sunday – Thursday
4:00PM – 7:00PM

Restaurant Hours-

Open Daily

Breakfast 7:00AM-11:30AM

Lunch 11:30AM-5:00PM

Dinner 5:00PM -10:00PM

Happy Hour- 4:00PM- 7:00PM, SUN-THURS

For reservations, please call (831) 600-4545.

Linked Photos of the Pool

 

Aptos BBQ • Best BBQ Around

Written by Les on May 8th, 2013

This winter our friends from San Francisco drove down twice just to eat at Aptos BBQ with us.  These same friends have tried lots of BBQ in San Francisco and say they love the smokey flavor at Aptos BBQ.  They even claim that they haven’t found anywhere else in the Bay Area that can get that smokey taste in their meats.  Their favorite … the smoked tri-tip sandwich. Both times when we finished our meals our friends bought more meat to take back for lunch-time sandwiches for the next week.

At Aptos BBQ you order at the counter and take a seat in the southern style dining room (with live music each night from what I hear). They do have sides such as the potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw that are also tasty. One of the best things about their sandwiches is that they serve them on garlic toast!  In addition they have craft brews on draft with lots of tasty choices.

8059 Aptos St  Aptos, CA 95003

http://www.aptosstbbq.com/

 

Family Favorite: Baked Pasta Sauce Recipe

Written by Les on May 8th, 2013

I made this one again tonight!  It is a really tasty vegetarian tomato pasta sauce that you can throw together in one dish and easily get it on the table in a flash (well, 40 minute bake time).

Baked Pasta Sauce Recipe

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1, 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes + juice (I use fire-roasted)
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 jar (or mixed) black/greek olives &/or green olives
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven 400F.

In a baking dish (9×13), pour olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Then add the tomatoes and all of the veggies (you can add mushrooms too) and mix a bit.  Then top the mixture with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Cook the pasta of your choice and put the baked sauce on top!

 

And…Homemade Ice Cream Cakes that won’t Break the Bank

Written by Les on March 7th, 2013

Have you been to Baskin’ Robbins lately to pick-up an ICE CREAM CAKE?

These are two alternative homemade ice cream cakes we have made that won’t break the bank and they were great!  We made the NERDS & Funfetti Ice Cream Cake for my brother-in-law and he thought we bought it (was he just being nice, not sure). The Peanut Buster Parfait Ice Cream Cake was made by a friend and it was so tasty.

Nerds Funfetti Ice Cream Cake Recipe

- Buy a Funfetti Box Cake, pack of NERDS candy, White Icing, & Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream (to class it up)

  1. Prepare & Bake Funfetti Cake as directed on box in a removable side cake pan.
  2. Let the cake cool. Use knife around sides of cake pan edge. Remove cake pan side. Then cut cake into two pieces on the side (to create a top and bottom piece). Then place the bottom portion of the cake onto a plate.
  3. Next, let your Breyer’s Vanilla ice cream soften a bit.
  4. Spoon the ice cream onto the bottom piece of the cake (don’t let it hang over the edges).  Now place the top part of cake back on.
  5. Freeze the cake for a bit so it hardens (this makes it much easier to frost).
  6. Next, frost the cake on the top and sides.
  7. Sprinkle Nerds on top (and Skittles too if you have want to).
  8. Freeze again until you are ready to serve.

 

Earl Campbell’s Hotlinks (!Chicken, Pork, & Beef!)

Written by Les on March 4th, 2013
Earl Campbell's Hot Links

Earl Campbell's Hot Links

Our Uncle is friends with Earl Campbell and was sent a bunch of Earl Campbell’s HOT LINKS in the mail, which we were lucky enough to enjoy.  When they had us over to try them, we loved them and even passed on a pack to our Texas friends and they loved them too (they are a bit spicy so you have to enjoy that).  So we set out to order a bunch more but this time with cheese: Hot-n-Cheddar Links!  The packs are quite large so we split a shipment with friends.  The links are pretty great to have in the freezer and pop out to make these tasty and easy dishes below.

You can eat these sausages grilled or cooked on the stove top with some sides but we also found three other recipes that worked really well with these links. One is an easy stew from Bon Appetit and the other is an easy Jambalaya Recipe.

UPDATE: The shipping costs are pretty high for these sausages but from our research it says that the Fremont, CA Walmart carries them!

Earl Campbell’s Sausages in these easy recipes:

  • Easy Jambalaya Recipe
  • This is a great weeknight dinner, super easy, fast and it will impress the weeknight crowd for sure, this is not a complex flavored true jambalaya – it is the weeknight, fast version. Serve with a salad.
  • 1 Tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 pound sausage (use links above), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun Spices
  • 2 Tablespoons Tabasco
  • 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
Directions:
  1. Heat butter in larger saucepan.
  2. Add vegetables to pot.
  3. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes.
  4. Add sausage; cook 3 minutes.
  5. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.
  6. Stir in stock, Cajun Seasonings, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil.
  7. Add Rice. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper.