Love Me Tender (Greens!)

I was sitting at my desk last week (hungry as usual) and had a craving. A craving that I knew would not go away until I got the chance to bite into the soft tender steak, dig into some yukon gold mashed potatoes, munch on a salad of soft butter lettuce and finish the meal off with the most amazing cookie I have EVER tasted. I, of course, had a serious stage 5 craving for Tender Greens.

TG

Tender Greens…where to begin. My love affair for the restaurant began a few years ago, when my cousin Jen introduced me to this magical place when I visited her in Santa Monica. She had hyped it up so much, yet by the sound of it, it sounded like another spinoff of Panera. (NOT knocking Panera by the way- that is a good place). Yes, you order at the counter, like Panera. But unlike Panera, you get to watch the production line create your heavenly meal right before your eyes (would you like roasted vegetables with that?).

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You order your protein (in my case-steak every time) in a salad, sandwich or as a hot plate. But everyone who has been to Tender Greens knows to order the hot plate. With the hot plate comes your choice of salad (my go-to is ALWAYS the butter lettuce salad) and the amazingly, incredibly smooth and buttery yukon gold mashed potatoes. As Jenny describes them- “So good it ain’t even right.” You said it Jen. I’m not going to go into detail about how great they are- you just need to try them to experience the magic for yourself. Brady always orders the herb brushed albacore. He loves it. I am just more of a steak fan. And if I am feeling especially hungry/gluttonous, I order the roasted vegetables. They are pretty delicious, just not as delicious as the potatoes. They set their standards high with the yukon golds.

Steak Hot Plate

One day I was feeling especially bold and ordered the Salted oatmeal white chocolate cookie. HOLY DESSERTS! It was exactly as amazing as it sounded- and more. Look it up online and you will see plenty of people raving about the recipe. Even Brady loves them- and he isn’t a dessert fan!

Salted White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie

Tender Greens is a California chain, with four locations in San Diego – Liberty Station, Downtown, UTC and at the airport. The indoor/outdoor seating provides a laid back atmosphere, with art local art pieces decked on the walls. I am hoping- no, pleading-for a location closer to Chula Vista. I think it would be a great addition in the Otay Ranch area.

Welp, there you have it. If you get the opportunity to go to Tender Greens, I have taken it upon myself to tell you exactly what to order: steak hot plate with butter lettuce salad, potatoes being a given, and a delicious salted oatmeal white chocolate cookie – you’re welcome. * Note- everything looks/is delicious.

I think I know where I will be eating dinner tonight…

This post is dedicated to Jenny. The angel, cousin and best friend who introduced me to this amazing place. ;)

www.tendergreens.com

As American as Blueberry Pie!

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The 4th of July weekend full of barbequing, beer, relaxing at the beach and, of course, fireworks, has come and past. I don’t know about you, but the 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Every summer when I was little I would visit my family in Buffalo, NY, and stay with my Grandparents. And every summer I could expect the same great traditions that came with this amazing summer holiday.

My Grandparents live in the adorable, all-American small town of East Aurora, NY- complete with a quaint Main Street, a Five & Dime store (Vidlers!) and amazing 4th of July celebrations. East Aurora would always have their parade and fireworks on the 3rd and my cousin’s town of Orchard Park (the next town over) would celebrate on the 4th. This meant double the celebrations, watermelon, corn-on-the-cob, catching of fireflies and, of course, sparklers and fireworks! Those memories with my grandparents and cousins are honestly my favorite memories of my childhood and make me so much of who I am today. I could go on all day about my love of my grandparents, cousins (who have always been best friends to me) and my love of Buffalo-  but I’ll keep that for another post, because I need to get down to business and share an amazing all-American recipe with you all!

Vidler's on Main St

Rix

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 As much fun as I was having at the beach this 4th, I was feeling “homesick” for my family in Buffalo. I was deciding on a patriotic dish to make to celebrate on the 4th when Brady mentioned pie – and a light bulb went on in my head. Every summer, I would pick blueberries with my cousins at a farm nearby, and my grandma would take the berries and make THE most DELICIOUS blueberry pie I have ever tasted – and instantly I knew I had to share it with my boyfriend, friends and family here. I had never made it before- but thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some Buffalove! Once I tasted the pie- this is going to sound overly dramatic- I felt like I was transported back to those many summers, and was so happy that I got her recipe right!

blueberry picking

Blueberry picking a few years back!

My Grandma got this recipe from a friend from church many years ago, and has been making it ever since.  I am not much of a cook/baker- but the beauty of this pie is that it is relatively simple, and AMAZINGLY delicious. Trust me- if I can make it- so can you!

 Mr. Siedler’s Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:
1 quart of washed blueberries
½ cup regular sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Pie crust (I go with premade- if you wanna make your own- that’s up to you! ;) )

 *For pie crust, follow directions with pre-made crust, or use your own recipe. This is the only time you will use the oven!

1. Mix half of the blueberries with flour, salt and lemon juice
2. Place in heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a soupy consistency (5 minutes or more)
3.  Add the regular sugar and brown sugar, and continue to stir constantly until mixture is evenly combined
4. Add in remaining blueberries, stir for a few minutes to soften up the whole berries
5. Let mixture cool
6. Pour blueberry mixture in baked pie crust, and refrigerate for 3 hours (or more/less to let mixture set)

The end!!

Mixing Ingredients photo 3

I truly hope you guys like- or LOVE- this recipe. My best friend Michelle tried a piece on Monday and loved it as much as I did, and told me I should share this recipe on my blog. If you get a chance to try it- let me know what you think, I would LOVE to hear your feedback, as this family recipe means a lot to me! Enjoy your pie and the rest of our sunny summer months and God Bless the USA!

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Dive in to a Great PB Spot!

The Duck Dive Pacific Beach, CA www.theduckdive.com

TGIF San Diego! Thought it would be appropriate to write about an awesome bar in Pacific Beach- perfect theme for Friday! Brady and I felt like being by the beach (who wouldn’t?) so we headed down to Pacific Beach to get some grub. Walking North on Mission Bvld we stumbled upon the Duck Dive. Just steps from the boardwalk sits this exciting bar that captured my interest. Inside the ceiling has a unique curvature that mocks the smooth shape of ocean waves (totally DUDE!) We knew found a great spot and the perfect place to watch an exciting game- especially with all the World Cup madness going on right now. The Duck Dive The later it got, the more people piled in. As always, we made it there for happy hour and they had some great specials, such as the “Princess Pimm’s Mule,” their special cocktail that night. It was pretty frickin delicious- sweet, but right up my alley. Brady had a few beers- Pacifico’s are always $3.50! Princess Pimms Mule We were feeling extra hungry, so we split the Scallop Ceviche to start, which was paired with avocado slices and house made chips – almost a meal in itself! I had the Herb Roasted Chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies, the $10 Wednesday Night Special. It was a steal for the price and was delicious to boot. Since my first time at the Duck Dive I’ve returned a few times and I must say their drinks are awesome. “Take Me to Mexico” is a margarita-like cocktail with tequila, watermelon and jalapeno. It had a uniquely spicy aftertaste and I loved it! Only $5 during happy hour!

Herb Roasted Chicken Take Me to Mexico

Since I’m always scheming about ways to have fun I wanted to share an idea with you, in case you are ever in PB and want to have a good time! Duck Dive has $30 adult punch bowls (each serves 4-6 people), which would be a fun way to hang out with friends and share drinks… But a better part about the punch bowls? On weekends, Duck Dive has BOGO punch bowls from 3-9pm. Catch my drift? Grab a few friends, head to PB, have 2 punch bowls and see where the afternoon takes you! What an awesome day at the beach that would be.

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One last thing- I feel obligated to mention the World Cup since its all everyone is talking about this month. Duck Dive has a lot of specials for World Cup games, including their own unique “World Cup Cocktails” which represent different countries in the Cup. It’s a nice touch! Next time you are in PB, check out the Duck Dive- and try one of their unique cocktails.  I’ll update my post after I spend an afternoon this summer with friends and the BOGO punch! duckdive-worldcup-sm-R3-02

Best BBQ on Wheels!

Hey SD!

I haven’t posted in a while until tonight but I had to share another something DELICIOUS that I came across this weekend- so why not upload two posts in one day?? Brady and I went to the Air Show at Gillespie Field in El Cajon that commemorated the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. We had an awesome time watching antique World War II planes fly by and I learned what a P51 Mustang was (a WWII fighter plane with a nice sounding Rolls-Royce engine). I felt honored to be among so many brave Veterans, and the entire crowd was very patriotic. I recommend going to the El Cajon or Miramar Air  Show if you have the opportunity. It was quite a touching American event.

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After hours of walking around in the sun, we were starving, and decided to hit up one of the food trucks on site. I was in a BBQ kind of mood, and Super Q Food Truck was calling my name. They had a huge variety of BBQ sandwiches and plates, and after heavy internal debate I went with the Super Q Chicken Melt- hoping I made the right choice.

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Listen up BBQ fans, this sandwich was one of the best BBQ sandwiches I have ever had. Pulled BBQ chicken, mac n’ cheese (that’s right- mac n’ cheese INSIDE the sandwich), and a slice of cheddar was in between two toasted slices of sourdough bread. HEAVEN. The coleslaw was pretty darn tasty too. I was in shock at how amazing the sandwich was. The mac n’ cheese was definitely fresh- and not your typical kraft mac. I am not too interested in looking into the calories involved- slightly scared- but I can definitely say it was worth it.

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If you aren’t quite sure about my taste in BBQ- check them out for yourself on Yelp! Super Q Food Truck has a consistent 4 star rating and pretty rave reviews on Yelp – I would give them 5! I will be hunting them down in the near future. This food truck concept is exploding in our city – and their food is living up to the hype. Just a quick post to say- if you ever see Super Q Food Truck driving down your street- FOLLOW IT and give it a try! You will NOT be disappointed!

http://www.superqfoodtruck.com/bbq/

Unusual Residents on Route 66

Summer is almost here – which means vacation time to explore new places! Following my Vegas post, I wanted to share a unique little town I visited while in Laughlin, NV last month with my boyfriend and his family. If you are a fan of the Wild West, this is definitely a spot to visit if you are in the area!

Across the crystal clear waters of the Colorado River and a quick 45-minute drive East of Bullhead City, lies the mining town of Oatman, Arizona. Besides its western vibe, Oatman is known for another cool attribute – its (extremely docile) wild burro population. As we drove around the corner behind the desert buttes and into the small town (population: 120!), we saw three burros making their way down from the hills and I knew we had reached our destination. We parked behind a deserted schoolhouse and proceeded to walk to Main Street.

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Oatman is exactly the kind of town you would find along Route 66 in the early 1900’s. Picture the backdrop of any Wild West movie (…or… Cars Land at Disneyland for the younger crowd) and you already have a great idea of the town’s atmosphere. The burros were sluggishly walking in the street, following closely behind the tourists who had brown paper bags filled with hay cubes (burro treats!). We wandered up and down Main Street, browsing through the mining exhibits and shops filled with leather, candy and souvenirs. Occasionally I would hear a drawn-out “heeee-haw” in the distance. I thought that was cute! All the stores are aptly named, like “Fast Fannys” and “Jackass Junction,” which added to the town’s quirky personality. A quick note about food- while there is plenty of food around for burros, there are a limited amount of restaurants in town. I definitely recommend eating before heading there.

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At noon, the street was blocked off to traffic for a shootout demonstration between a sheriff and bank robber. Amidst the action, burros would startle onlookers by nudging their arms, hinting for more treats. Completely unfazed by people or the loud pops from cap guns, they were pretty tame for being wild! After the sheriff prevailed, we were thirsty and did what any cowboy would do – we headed to the local watering hole at Judy’s Saloon & Pool Hall.

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During our stop at the saloon, Brady’s Dad and Uncle told us a little more about about Oatman’s history. Oatman once as a bustling gold mining town that mined over $13 million in gold (1920’s dollars). In 1941 the mines were shut down and the prospectors hit the road, leaving their burros behind- hence the wild burro population. But don’t feel bad for them- they are still thriving more than seventy years later! And for you movie buffs- the Oatman Hotel hosted Clark Gable and Carole Lombard as their honeymoon destination. Rumor has it that the hotel is haunted. Pretty neat!

After my history lesson, I bought a few bags of burro food. (Not too bad for $1 a piece). Brady didn’t like the taste, but the burro’s sure did! The money was well spent, because I had an awesome time watching the gentle giants reach and grab the hay cubes from our palms. I felt like a little kid again! By the end of our bags, more had flocked over, and my burro selfie photo shoot began. (#BurroSelfie!) We even got the chance to see a burro that was only four days old! Adorable.

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#burroselfie

 

 

With that being said, we had an awesome time in Oatman. It’s a great day trip for kids and adults alike, and I now have some fun memories with Brady’s fam that I will carry with me always! If you visit Oatman in the future, make sure you tell the burros I said hello!

Baby with sticker alerting public to not feed him!

Baby with sticker alerting public to not feed him!

 

–Briana :)

The Fabulous...

What’s New in Sin City…

A group of us headed to Sin City last Friday, prepared for weekend of gambling, pool parties and of course, buffets. We had an awesome time and I got the chance to experience many new things. For those of you who haven’t made it out to Vegas in the past 6 months, a lot of new additions have made the Strip even more enjoyable!

The Fabulous...

After the five-hour drive that heightened the anticipation, we finally made it to Las Vegas Blvd. We checked into our recently updated Go-Room at the Flamingo with an awesome view of Caesars and the Bellagio and participated in the usual Vegas opening ceremonies (Brady’s favorite part of the trip). I’m pretty sure all Vegas opening ceremonies are the same, but let me break it down just in case.

1. Throw the bags down
2. Set up a makeshift bar by a window (preferably facing the Strip)
3. Line up the shot glasses
4. In the words of a wise man named Kenneth- Do the needful- Take a celebratory shot of choice. This usually ends in wincing faces after experiencing how terrible straight liquor can be!
5. Hit the Strip

The updated Go- Room at Flamingo
 Hittin the Strip

We heard that the High Roller (the London Eye of Vegas) was a really cool sight, and since it was next door to the Flamingo, we headed over to check it out. Between the Flamingo and Quad lies the newly updated “Linq,” an updated outdoor dining and retail area. It has a Downtown Disney feel and I was blown away by how nice it was. O’Sheas is now back in action (but don’t expect $5 car bombs anymore, they are now $11 … what a letdown!). But what brought my spirits back up was the Sprinkles cupcakes shop, smack-dab in the middle of the Linq. The cobblestone street also had a promising pizza place called “Flour and Barley,” the famous Ghirardelli
Ice Cream Parlor (yes!) and plenty of bars. Lots to see and do in that area. I would highly recommend checking it out next time you visit the Fabulous Las Vegas. The High Roller lies at the end of the walkway, which is a glamorous wheel with imaginably amazing views. It was a great start to our trip and a nice addition to an already bustling Strip.

Better shot of the High Roller The Linq

Also open for business- the Cromwell (formally Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall). It’s a pretty swanky place.

The next morning we headed down to the Flamingo Go-Pool. If you are into having a great time by the pool, head there. Insider tip – bring a Frisbee, and you’ll be SURE to make friends while throwing it around the pool (and maybe score a few free drinks too!)

photo 3-13 Go Pool

One Vegas first for me- Downtown Las Vegas. We took a cab over to the Golden Nugget for $25 and wanted to see the sights of Fremont Street. It has a completely different feel, a little less glamorous but still so much fun. The gambling is cheaper, there are tons more neon signs, and it is home to the Fremont experience. The experience is a light show that occurs at the top of every hour from 6pm-12am. The lights and music together were pretty amazing.

Golden Nugget Fremont Experience

On Sunday morning, four of us made a reservation at Hash House a Go Go in the Quad for breakfast. Be prepared to wait – we waited 45 minutes for a party of four. It was definitely worth it though, and I would recommend visiting their San Diego location. They are known for their absolutely ginormous portions. Walking to our table I saw multiple people who ordered the pancake. Yes, only one pancake that filled an enormous plate (the mango coconut pancake piqued my interest!). Many platters of chicken and waffles passed by me as well, literally big enough to feed three people. I’ve heard it’s their claim to fame. While the wait was long, the meal was well worth it and we had plenty to take back to our room for later.

Artichoke Hash

Mike made me a believer in Roulette

Another place I haaaave to mention is Earls (The Earl of Sandwich). Located in Planet Hollywood at the end of the Miracle Mile mall, this place is almost always poppin’. It’s a fast food sandwich chain with a much higher quality, specializing in hot sandwiches. Their sandwiches range from $6-8, which is extremely reasonable for their location on the Strip. My favorite item on the menu? The Holiday Turkey sandwich! Good stuff. Don’t be intimidated by the line, they know how to handle a crowd and the line moves quickly!

The One n Only Earls

We ended our stay with a walk to the beautiful Wynn hotel for their breakfast buffet. This is one of the best buffets I have had in Vegas, and I can only imagine what the dinner buffet would consist of. Unlike most buffets, the seating at the Wynn Buffet is not cafeteria-like, and the garden room was gorgeous.

Dessert Bar at Wynn BuffetSpecialities Selection at Wynn Buffet The Garden RoomOreo Cream Tarte

Well that about wraps it up for this post. Sin City is always a blast. Luckily, I came out even, with the help of an extremely lucky Roulette bet(one of my new favorite table games after my friend Mike made me a believer after winning $200 on black). Next time you head over, be sure to check out these spots…and good luck on the tables. And be sure to answer the poll below!


The Perfect Island Getaway

This post has been a long time coming. I have to share one of my favorite happy hour spots that I don’t think is as well known as it should be. (It’s a hidden gem!) Between the dangerously addictive island fries for $2, the delicious $3 green chile quesadillas and $4 beachside sliders, its pretty dang hard to pass up this happy hour when I’m within a ten mile radius of one of their locations. Heck, I could go for a quesadilla right this minute! The fries might have given this away, but I am of course talking about Islands.

The SoCal chain really lives up to its name. It’s a tropical escape complete with gnarly surf videos, plenty of toucans peaking through plants and unique puffer-fish light fixtures. I have been eating at Islands for a long time, and their food is downright awesome, but I have only recently discovered their happy hour menu. The golden hours are between 4-7pm, so make sure you head to their bar area if you want the specials.

Big Island Ice Tea & Fries

When Friday rolls around, this is the happy hour that Brady and I default to. We have never been disappointed and (pretty-much) always walk away paying a reasonable tab. Throw in a few of my favorite fruity Big Island Ice Tea’s and you are set for a relaxed evening! If you are into sweetly spiked milkshakes, try the “Rusty Anchor.” It’s an adult twist on their Trade Wind milkshake- a combination of coconut, banana and chocolate. What a deadly combination. Be forwarned- its extremely sweet!

When I’m not fortunate enough to make it between the 4-7pm window, my favorite item on the menu isn’t a burger- it’s their Toucan chicken sandwich- complete with grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce. YUM! Their variety of burgers is extensive (and delicious if you ask my friend Michelle or Brady), but I just can’t break away from the Toucan. Once I find something I like, its pretty hard for me to order anything else!

I am posting this on a Monday for a reason. We alllll know that Monday’s can be especially brutal, and we alllll need a little islands getaway every once in a while. (Or once a week in my opinion!) After a long day, an ice cold drink and a basket of their fries can really hit the spot. So the next time you are in need of an island getaway – a few miles from your house that is – head over to their happy hour, grab a refreshing drink and stay a while!

www.islandsrestaurants.com