Saturday, April 30, 2016

Heart Healthy Whole Grain Blueberry Oatmeal With Flaxseed & Plant Sterols

Review submitted by: Jane Ong

Even though I love having breakfasts in restaurants during the weekends, making breakfast during the weekdays have always been part of my getting-ready-for-work morning ritual.  Okay, by "making", I really mean "microwaving".  For more than two weeks, I have been having this Trader Joe's whole grain instant blueberry oatmeal every weekday morning ($3.99 for a box of 8 packs), and every weekends afternoon as snacks.  This is the best tasting instant oatmeal I have tried and it tastes like homemade, when microwaved with water according to the direction.  I like to add a couple tablespoons of low-fat milk after microwaving and a drizzle of condensed sweetened milk to add more creaminess and taste to it.  I like this oatmeal so much because it's really flavorful with oats and whole grain.  The blueberries add just a hint of sweetness.  This oatmeal is very mild and subtle on sweetness.  While I hate all the overly sweetened instant oatmeals out there, I do love to add a drizzle of condensed sweetened milk to this unsweetened Trader Joe's instant oatmeal for texture and for the perfect level of sweetness for myself.  For some reason, this instant oat meal is best microwaved with water, not milk.  So milk should be added after microwaving and not during.

I have been suffering from acne breakout in recent months and I suspect that it could be due to my lack of fiber in my diet, (of course my work stress too).   This is what prompted me to start a daily dose of this oatmeal.  Whether having this everyday will help me clear my skin or not, I have yet to see, but I have found that since I have been eating this everyday for about 2 weeks now,  my digestive system has been improved and I'm no longer suffering from constipation.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Avocado Bacon Tomato Egg Benedict

Review submitted by: Jane Ong

For years, I had walked by this cute restaurant for many times near the beach, but I never tried it out because I didn't see the menu being any more special than the other restaurants on that same street. This morning was the first time I got to try this place out.  I tried this place out today because I noticed that since its first location near my old apartment by the beach years ago, this restaurant has become an expanding chain.  I happened to drive by its new location near my new neighborhood on my way to the bank. It happened that on this particular stretch of street, unlike the beach town I used to live; I wasn't aware of any boutique restaurants competing for my breakfast money besides the fast food chains and my usual diner Coco's.  So this restaurant became my only obvious choice when I was craving for the kind of California breakfasts I used to so enjoy when I was living by the beach.

The yellow decor inside looks just as cute as the yellow decor outside.While it looks like a lovely cottage restaurant, the setup is more like the fast food place where customers order the food at the counter, and go find their own seats, with the number tags they are given.  I ordered the Avacado Bacon Tomato Egg Benedict ($12.00) from their specials' board, and an iced coffee ($2.40.)

It took me a while to find the station that keeps the iced water, napkins, creamers, sugar, etc.  The iced coffee was okay, not as good as the one I had from my favorite Asian bakery.  The egg benedict was a little short on hollandaise sauce but it tasted great.  I wish they could drizzle more.  I could have asked for more sauce but since it was a self-service restaurant, I just didn't want the hassle to walk to the counter to ask the cashier (who seemed to be busy taking on new orders) for more sauce.

Bacon is the same bacon and tasted pretty much like bacon everywhere.  The salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, avocado and potatoes were really fresh and high quality though. I could taste the freshness.  I loved the fresh flavor of the potatoes there. They were a lot healthier than the typical hash brown. For those who are used to food with a lot of seasoning, they may find this egg benedict a little bland tasting.  It's because this dish is completely relying on the bacon, pepper, herbs, and a light drizzle of hallandaise sauce for flavor, and there wasn't much salt.  It's good for those who are watching the daily sodium consumption. For others who need more salt, they just have to sprinkle it themselves.  For me, I, every once and a while enjoy food with less salt for a change. 

To me, the only spoiler for that egg benedict was the English muffin.  I didn't like the bread at all because the English muffin tasted stale to me.  I don't think it's really stale.  It's just I was never a fan of the typical grocery store bought English Muffin or bread of any kind.  Such breads just carry that hint of smell and taste that bother me a lot and I always tell my friends that those breads smell stale to me, even though my friends don't seem to be bothered one bit.  For this reason,  I don't usually like to have sandwiches in most of the restaurants.  This egg benedict would have been perfect if only the fresh whole wheat bread from my favorite Asian bakery were used instead of the grocery store quality mass-market English Muffins.   I also don't like the self-service business model, because it's just inconvenient when customers need to box up leftovers or to ask for extra something.

Restaurant: Yellow Vase Bakery, Café & Flowers 
Address: 28902 Western Ave, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Phone: (310) 833-1313

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Portuguese Egg Tart For Sunday Breakfast

Review submitted by: Jane Ong

I admire people who dedicate their Sunday mornings to making home-made breakfasts.  To me, Sunday morning is when I make up the sleep I miss during the weekdays. The last thing I want to do after waking up from my long sleep on Sunday morning is to make breakfast, I don't even want to make coffee. Unless I have some compelling reasons to stay home on Sunday, then I will unwillingly make breakfast.  Otherwise, after I rise and wash up on Sunday, I normally just leap out of the door and drive to my favorite places to get breakfasts. I usually go to different places to have different types of breakfast from week to week, and today, I went to one of my favorite Asian bakeries to get my beloved Portuguese Egg Tart ($1.65), to enjoy with my favorite Iced Coffee (medium 85C Coffee from the same bakery for $2.75, equivalent to Starbucks "Venti" size). 

This Portuguese egg tart is almost as good as the famous one I had from Macau during my vacation there a few years ago.  This is actually the freshest and best tasting egg tart I ever had in America. (Well, the last time I had Portuguese egg tart in America was at a supposedly authentic Portuguese cafe in Sherman Oaks CA, which I didn't care for because it was cold and the pastry wasn't fresh enough for me. I wasn't impressed with the way it tasted either. )

I also like the iced coffee here better than Starbucks because it's not as bitter, but it's more flavorful and aromatic,  and it comes already perfectly creamed and sweetened.  Sunday breakfast like this is one of the reasons I put up with the high rent and ridiculous long commute to live in Los Angeles.

Bakery: 85C Bakery Cafe
Address:1735 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501 
Phone: (310) 320-8585

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

BBQ Ribs & Buffalo Wings

Review submitted by: Jane Ong

I'm not the kind of person who can wait till Memorial Day or July 4th to have BBQ. I'm the kind of person who enjoys BBQ just on any typical day, whether it's a holiday or a workday.  Thank god there are so many places in Los Angeles where I can pick up BBQ on the way home.  Tonight when I drove by Chicago For Ribs on my way to an evening run by the beach,  the air was drafted with the delicious charbroiled BBQ aroma so intense that I could smell it even when I had my car's windows all rolled up.  I admire the other commuter cars which just ignored the aroma and went straight home to cook dinner, or to wherever they needed to be.

When I smelled that enticing BBQ, I just had to make a U-turn to cross to the other side of the road to have my BBQ dinner.  Of course, I ditched my evening run for a BBQ dinner combo instead ($12.95).  The dinner combo came with my choice of 2 meats, which were baby back ribs and buffalo wings.  I like the baby back ribs which were tasty and tender but I wish I had gotten the BBQ chicken instead of the buffalo wings which were just deep fried and smothered with BBQ sauce.  The wings weren't  that much better than the frozen ones I bought from the grocery stores.  Besides,  I'm never a big fan of thickly breaded fried chicken wings drowned in BBQ sauce. I ordered the wings thinking they were charbroiled.  The baby back ribs were great though. The dinner combo also came with 2 sides of my choice, and a piece of corn bread or dinner roll, which I picked corn bread, coleslaw and mashed potato.  The coleslaw was somewhat too bitter for me but the mashed potato and the corn bread were great.  I really enjoyed the corn bread with the whipped butter there.  For $12.95, it was a lot of food on a big plate (which provided enough leftover for lunch tomorrow), and also a learning curve for me with this restaurant.  Now I know what to order  next time to make a more delicious BBQ plate.

Restaurant: Chicago For Ribs
Address: 1637 W25th St, San Pedro, CA 90732
Phone: (310) 832-7427

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Southwest Chicken Quesadillas

Review submitted by: Jane Ong

I have to admit, I'm no expert in Mexican food, I had never had Mexican food until I moved here to Los Angeles.  Even though I like Mexican food, I rarely have it because I just like Asian food more. I like Mexican food enough that I can eat it everyday for the rest of my life if the only kind of Asian restaurant near me is PF Chang.  

The last time I had a quesadilla was probably 3 years ago. When I saw the above box of frozen chicken quesadillas in Trader Joe's freezer ($3.69 for a box of 2), I remembered how I liked it so I bought a box to try out. The flour tortillas are supposed to be filled with white meat chicken, Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack cheeses, corn, bell peppers, spinach and black beans, with mild jalapeño peppers, and Mexican style spices. I wasn't disappointed, the quesadillas tasted rather good for frozen food.

If I have to rate these frozen quesadillas, I will give them 4 stars out of 5.  They make great meals during those times when I leave work so late that all my favorite restaurants are closed. I also like eating one of them for breakfast when I wake up in the morning feeling hungry and miserable. (Each quesadilla has 400 calories).

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