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The Anaheim Packing House: Black Sheep Grill Cheese Bar


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If you live in the Southern  California area and are looking for a fun thing to check out this summer I highly recommend visiting the Anaheim Packing House. I think it’s my new favorite place to drop in for a quick bite to eat since there are so many delicious places to try. They have places serving up everything from hot pots, waffle sandwiches, beer, cocktails, grilled cheese, fish and chips, gourmet Japanese food, Indian food, comfort food, popsicles, homemade ice cream, crepes and so much more. There are more places yet to open (Ecco, Georgias, Dark 180, Sawleaf Vietnamese Cafe, and a Fish Market) so this will continue to be a growing hub for food lovers.

I’ve been watching them work on this place over the past year or so since a good friend of mine lives right across the street. She’s been the best at keeping us up on the news of the events and details of how things were coming along. They have been renovating this old Sunkist Orange Packing House into what has become the popular new hang out in Anaheim, for quite awhile. The delays in opening have caused much anticipation for what they have to offer and so far they have not disappointed.

The Anaheim Packing House is  located in downtown Anaheim which has been under renovation for many years now as new shops, restaurants and nostalgic style housing is bringing some hope to a part of Anaheim that needed a little TLC and, honestly, people with the Benjamins who could do something about the area. It’s fun to see this part of the city spruced up a bit and treasure a part of its history in a fun way.

20140614_131237I was excited to visit them on opening day a few weeks ago with the hopes of trying out the new eateries. During that opening weekend I visited the PopBar which was good, but because of WW I didn’t try what I should have to really give it a good review. So, I will hold my comments back until me, or someone I go with, tries again and I have pictures to show! You might already be familiar with PopBar since I know this is not their first and only location.

This past weekend I had the privilege of being a first timer at Black Sheep Grill Cheese Bar. I believe it was the grand opening for them so it was fun to support their opening day.

I have been to a few grilled cheese places so I was expecting it to be similar to one of those…The Grilled Cheese Truck (Los Angeles/Orange County area), Melt It (Pasadena, CA), and Valley Shepherd Creamery & Meltkraft Grill Cheese Shop (Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, PA).

This place ended up being mostly like the Valley Shepherd Meltkraft in Philly because it was more gourmet in it’s cheese, bread, and ingredient selection then the other two locations. Those “other two” location specialties are more about adding bbq, mac and cheese, pulled pork, etc. to a grilled cheese sandwich. Also good, but this is a different, more unique kind of grilled cheese that you just know is made with a consideration of the best way to pair ingredients with the finer cheeses available.

I decided to try the first one listed on the menu (let’s work our way down the menu each visit, right?) and was not at all disappointed. I think in eating this sandwich I discovered a new cheese love that I had no idea existed…formage blanc. 20140614_122440Guys…it’s awesome. Awesome mostly if you like goat cheese since the taste had a similar tang to it that goat cheese does. And like goat cheese, it is a cheese loving dieters friend being very low in  fat, calories, etc. The tangy bite in the cheese paired so well with the sweet onions, roasted tomatoes and peppery arugula pesto. It was well balanced as a sandwich…really incredible. As rich as it sounds, it ended up being a very clean sandwich and you were not overwhelmed with a grease ball in your stomach when you were done. Hard to explain but you can’t help but feel it was a sandwich worth all $7 when you were done with it. Since I’m counting points, I think (if I calculated correctly), this sandwich is about 10-13 points (depending on how much butter they use). I would say that’s not bad at all and so so worth the points you would spend on it WW friends. So. Worth. It.

Another treat I have to brag on a bit, because I think they are genius for incorporating them into their merchandise, is the Brown Butter Cookies from The Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos, California.

They had samples out by the register when I was ordering and the kid at the register suggested I try one because they were “soooo good.” I thought…yes, yes. I’m sure you’re trying to upsell me on something that is average. I’m sure they told you to say that.”

Oh was I wrong. He wasn’t kidding. You take one bite into these cookies and stop, look around for someone to share this moment with, and say…”Oh. Oh my gosh. These are so good.” Literally that is what happens. I’m not kidding dear readers….I did that. My boyfriend did that. My friend Michele did that. It’s just what happens. These cookies evoke the same response from everyone. PhotoGrid_1402783501791You know you’re biting into excellence with these cookies. So if you’re not a grilled cheese fan, then just go for the cookies. You’ll get a bag of 6 for way too much but shut your mouth and don’t complain because you will not regret it. I promise you. (WW friends they are about 3pts per cookie but you can enjoy 3 cookies for 8 points…if you want to…I might have maybe done this on Saturday…maybe).

There is so much more to say about the Anaheim Packing House, but I hate to fit it all into one post. I hope to try a few more of their restaurants and be able to say a few words about them on here when it works out. I love this new place and all the work they’ve put into it. I would love to do a small part in helping them generate traffic and keep people coming back. I’m thrilled to see so many people swarming the place each time I go. I  keep telling everyone about it and you guys are the next ones on my list to excite about it. If you’re an out of towner and are heading to the Southern California area sometime soon, try to stop by the APH and have a quick bite to eat.

More to come later on my adventures in the APH!

 

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Resolution Recipe 3: Plum Poppy Seed Muffins



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Plum Poppy Seed Muffins

Okay, we’re back in business! Happy to be blogging once again. Thanks for your patience loyal readers. I hope this is worth it!

I actually just made these muffins yesterday because even though this recipe was next in the book (back in January),  it wasn’t plum season. I figured I would postpone this recipe and come back to it in the summer…well…summer is here. What a coincidence! Small advantages for not having time to blog!

These muffins were pretty easy and delicious. They yield about 12 muffins according to the recipe, but in honor of making things more Weight Watchers friendly, I decided to make mini muffins instead. Using a Tablespoon I was able to make 37 muffins.

 

TIPS: 20140613_1902241. CHOOSING PLUMS: I would make sure to use plums that are not tart or sour. She says you can use any kind of plum ( I guess I didn’t realize there were other kinds then the reddish ones I see in the store, but there are….even Italian plums! Wanna see some pictures?? Click here) I mistakenly used the first ones I bought at Wal-mart and didn’t really make sure to buy those which were sweeter and riper. How does one do that you ask…well let me tell you. According to the helpful blog entitled “Just Plums” you do not look for plums with your eyes, but with your nose. They indicate that plums that are ripe and un-ripe are the same color. They say that a ripe plum will smell sweet and fruity where an unripened plum is not going to have a smell to it at all. Other sites mention that the plum will have a give to it if you press on it and the opposite is true for an unripened plum. If you have unripened plums that you want to use for this recipe, refer to the post from WikiHow about “How to Ripen a Plum.” I found this very helpful….AFTER doing this recipe. Yes, I’m proving very much to be the novice I claim to be when I do stuff like research the ingredients after I work with them.

2. MINI MUFFINS: Yes, mini muffins are just mini versions of muffins. 20140613_195557It’s not magic at all. However, if you are wanting to watch your waistline or you’re a WW point counter, then mini muffins are the way to go. This recipe went from 5 points a muffin to about 2 points a muffin if you yield 37 muffins when you only use a tablespoon of batter. I highly recommend this as an alternative because as WW people know, 2 point snacks are the best things to have on hand. You can still use the same recipe and enjoy, but in moderation that works for you.20140613_193049

3. MAKING BROWN BUTTER: I love that Deb Perelman simplifies what sounds like a potentially scary process of browning…not burning…butter. In her cookbook she takes you to a dessert recipe to learn how to make the brown butter. Her suggestions are as follows on page 202 of her cookbook:

  1. Using a pot, heat the pan to medium low heat
  2. Drop in your butter
  3. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty.
  4. Stir frequently, scrapping up any bits from the bottom as you do.
  5. Don’t take your eyes off the pot. You may be impatient for it to start browning, but the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a min.

She has a lot of other tips and tricks but I have to leave something for you to read when you buy her cookbook!

REVIEW: I think you’ll love this recipe any time of the year. I love how it’s summer but with the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg I felt transported to fall with one waft of amazing from the oven. I would love to see how these turn out with other kinds of fruit. I happen to find the most sour/tart plums on the earth that were most definitely under ripe…now that I know what to be looking for…ugh. The great thing about this recipe is that the sweetness of the muffin batter helps balance out the sourness of the plums so be encouraged if you too end up making these with a few bad plums. You might actually like the way they turn out! Hope you give these a try this summer. You won’t be disappointed and they are fun change to the muffins we all know and love.

Happy baking, friends!

 

PLUM POPPY SEED MUFFIN RECIPE

Ingredients

YIELDS 12 MUFFINS (5 WW Points) , 37 MINI MUFFINS ( 2 WW Points)

6 T. unsalted butter, melted and browned and cooled, plus butter for muffins cups

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c packed dark or light brown sugar

1/4 c. sour cream or a rich, full-fat plan yogurt (WW: use light/low fat sour cream to keep muffins low points)

1/2 c. whole-wheat flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp table salt

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2 T. poppy seeds

2 cups pitted and diced plums from about 3/4 pound of Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do). (NOTE: If doing mini muffins, consider doing 1 1/2 cups instead).

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Butter muffin tins
  3. Whisk egg and sugars in bowl
  4. Stir in brown butter than sour cream
  5. In separate bowl, mix flours, bp, bs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and poppy seeds
  6. Stir dry  mixture gradually into wet mixture “until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy.”
  7. Fold in plums
  8. Divide batter into cups.
  9. Bake for 10 -12 min (mini muffins) 15-18 (regular size muffins)
  10. Allow to cool in pan for a few min before removing to cool on rack

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Resolution. Failure.


Alright.  Let’s face it. I failed. Great resolution but honestly life turned out to be obsessed with school. Obsessed I tell you! Every weekend was about studying and homework and I was bad and barely went grocery shopping.  And if I’m being super candid, I ate terribly too. Fast food was enjoyed way too much and healthy food was ignore in the same way. ” Easy” was my word when it came to cooking….not “healthy” or “home made”.  That also means sticking to my resolution was absolutely not going to happen. *sigh*

My last post was around January…this is June. Yikes. I did make a few recipes over the past 5 months or so but those haven’t been written up yet. I have a lot of catching up to do.

I think I have recovered from my semester a bit and now I’m chomping at the bit to get back to this cookbook goal. I’m excited for what I can get done this summer but it might be quite awhile between posts, folks. Just being realistic here.

In other news, with all that bad eating from this past semester, I’ve been more than a little inspired to start some sort of dieting or weight loss program. The hardest thing for me is moving more often and eating at home more frequently. I figured summer was a good time to start new eating habits since I have time to think about it.

Recently my workplace started a Weight Watchers group and with healthy eating on the agenda for the summer I decided to join in on the fun!

Fun, however, was not exactly what I was thinking  the week after sign ups. When they started explaining the Simple Start program I started inwardly groaning and scolding myself for joining. I was not thrilled with the food they were saying we could eat and I figured this would last me a whole week and I would be done.

The things that stopped me from giving up, however, was the accountability I was going to be experiencing by doing it in a group. My previous WW experience was on my own and I didn’t go to meetings which was probably also why I didn’t last. When I thought about the pressure of showing up next week and having lost nothing or maybe be the one to have gained weight I knew I had to give it a try. My embarrassment and pride is what motivates me :o) Good to know.

The other thing that encouraged me was knowing I could just count points and not do Simple Start to experience results. So I decided to get the first week a try. I am now three weigh-ins into the program and I am happy to report that I am down 7.6 lbs and enjoying the program so much!!

All that to say, I think my focus will switch a little bit on this blog to incorporate a few nuggets of wisdom from the WW world I am now a part of. That way if you also happen to be in a Weight Watchers program you can enjoy this food knowing the point value.

The one thing I love most about WW is that you don’t have to stop eating the food you love. And for me that means I still get to work on this goal of cooking and blogging about these yummy recipes. Should be fun!

Here’s a sneak peek of some recipes I’ll be posting. Get excited everybody! This novice cook is back in the kitchen!!

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