Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aloha Steakhouse - Ventura, CA

Hello Alvin! 

Hello Cassie!
The Ranch crew has been enjoying working with our remuda this week because of the cool weather. It is nice to throw on a sweat shirt in the morning. It makes me feel snuggly. Anyway, the horses are all on their game and are gearing up for upcoming shows to Bakersfield and Paso Robles.

 After long days at the ranch Scott and I get to occasionally treat ourselves to date nights on the town. This particular evening we went to one of our beach front favorites, Aloha. I felt festive by ordering a fruity cocktail - The Kauai Love.

We decided to start with an appetizer of a Stuffed Artichoke with sauteed mushrooms. It was an interactive starter that required a little work with our conversation. I totally recommend it. 

I ordered the Parmesan crusted Orange Roughy and regretted it based on my first saw through the "batter" it was an egg based and it was soggy and tough. A weird situation for such a tender fish. The taste of parmesan was nonexistent. I just ordered bad plain and simple.

Please do not let my entree order scare you away from this place. I usually leave here feeling amazing and totally pleased. Just steer around this order and try something else. I promise you will be content!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hello Fall! - Ojai, CA

Last Saturday was the most beautiful introduction we have had to Fall in many years. The morning air was crisp and the warm, fuzzy it gave me inspired me to get cooking! I love cooking when the seasons change. Goodbye Summer. Hello Fall! Upper Ojai was just stunning, I had to snap a photo from my porch...

I set the table with candles, flowers and cloth napkins. It was just too pretty of a day not to go all out.

 Scott put on music and sweet tunes blasted through our outdoor speakers. 

Hi Scott!

My grandmother's wicker furniture makes for a lovely outdoor living space. We have used this sitting area so much this year. I see many more evenings of front porch sitting in our future! 

What I love most about cooking all day is the ability to have your meal ready and waiting with a fully clean kitchen to work in! Always clean as I cook, I hate dirty dishes. So with my kitchen spotless I decided to start cocktail hour...


Scott requested his favorite, Deviled Eggs, to start. I like making them because it is such a labor of love. You must kindly handle the eggs to boil, crack and peel them without injury to the precious whites. Then whip up the yolks to your creamy desire. It is just such a personal recipe. A little of this, a little of that - add what makes you feel right. This time it was mayonnaise, mustard, sweet pickle relish, cherry pepper juice, salt pepper and a sprinkle (or in my case an accidental downpour) of paprika.

Our sweet friends Dana, Brandon and Ryan came over to enjoy eating with us. It is so nice to have local friends who appreciate good eats like we do! When I called them last minute to come up the hill and dine with us they were good enough to jump in their cars and join in. 

I love this shot of everyone digging in! Scott was in charge of cooking the steaks and salmon on the barbecue and he knocked it out of the park! Scott loves barbecuing so I knew he would love his job. He does get nervous about cooking up my seafood selections but every time he does it comes out perfectly. I love a little surf and turf with my meal.

My plate was complete with a piece of salmon, a big scoop of Melissa's Broccoli Salad, a twice baked potato (made with copious amounts of butter, sour cream, cheese and love...) and a slice of garlic bread. 

What is in Melissa's Broccoli Salad you wonder?
  • Broccoli - 5 heads - finely chopped
  • Red Onion - Only 1/2 - very finely chopped
  • Cheddar Cheese - shaved, 1/2 cup
  • Sunflower Seeds - 1 cup+, I used extra...
  • Dried Apricots - 1 cup, also chopped finely
  • The dressing - Mayonaise, sugar and vinegar - make a paste and adjust to your liking! I overly dress mine because I like my food saucy. But do remember as the vegetables "sit" the will sweat some of their liquids out and make the salad extra wet.
Mix it all up in a bowl and let it rest in the fridge for a couple hours!

Our party was a success. It was low key and last minute just like the best parties are. No fuss, no muss and just enjoying quality time with the people you love. 

Happy Fall everyone! Now get in your kitchen and start cooking!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Miz Shirley Marie's - Wilton, CA

 My Mom dis some guest blogging for me at the horse show while I was away. Miz Shirley Marie's Food Truck was all the rage from what I heard from my fellow cutters. From the jambalya to the wings the food rocked.

Based on the menu alone you know I would have had to the try the Nacho Fries. I can just imagine the boat of deep fried fries smothered in an excessive amount of nacho cheese and then hopefully topped with some sort of sinful protein. Ah yes, I can imagine those fries. 

My friend, Beth was a kind model for what my Mom called one of the "best sandwiches she has ever had in her life"- the Shrimp Po Boy. I thought it was a bold statement but based on the rave reviews from every person who dined with them that day, it must be true.

I like the looks of the sandwich immediately because it appeared to be perfectly sauced. I like a sandwich that is moist and this looks like it is done so. The shrimp were freshly battered and fried, giving each bite a snap. The bun had been warm and browned on the griddle, ding ding! More points earned! But, those fries, look at those glorious fries! I love a good steak fry and those look great.

Ok, my readers if you are located in the northern California area you can check out Miz Shirley's yorself. Their reviews can be found on Yelp: MIZ SHIRLEY MARIE'S and it gives you a link to their locations for the day. Give it a try!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

El Rancho Futurity #2 - Rancho Murieta, CA

 Days came and went with early mornings and warm evenings during the 8 day show. It seemed like it all blended together and I opened my eyes and the last day was upon is. We managed to get off the show grounds a couple times and during one of those trips we decided to give Big Al's BBQ in Elk Grove a try.

Animal hide on the wall, different BBQ sauces to try and an all wood interior got us in the mood to get our fingers messy with some BBQ. The menu was pretty straight forward: Pulled Pork, Brisket, Chicken and Ribs. 

 Scott went for a Brisket Sandwich Special with Beans and Potato Salad. He said the brisket was tasty as he doused the entire sandwich with their BBQ Sauce that is made in house. The potato salad was fresh and the beans lacked the pizazz he was looking for.

I wanted to get down with some ribs so I decided to do a Combination Plate as well. The ribs were fine, nothing that my momma can't do better. The french fries were divine. I was really craving french fries. Dipped in the BBQ Sauce was just perfection. They served a small piece of cornbread that I was not expecting and that was my favorite thing on the plate! Ask for the cornbread...

Back at the horse show...
Cowboy Ron made both of his finals the in the Non-Pro Derby and Amateur Derby. How cool is that? He walked away with a big check and two trophy knives!

Are you curious how Elvis and I ended up?

We navigated our way to Reserve Champions of the Non-Pro Futurity! I could not be any prouder of my horse, help and myself! It was just an outstanding experience. I got to add another El Rancho Futurity buckle to my belt and I could not be any more thrilled to sport it.

Thank you to show producer, Carol Ward and her entire staff... 
Cheers to the memories!

Monday, September 22, 2014

El Rancho Futurity #1 - Rancho Murieta, CA

Have you met Elvis yet? This is my horse, Elvis and I am sure he is thrilled to meet you. Elvis has a back story too long to post but let me sum it up. He was bought in a sale in Texas with my horse show winnings in 2012 and I paid for a shipper to ship him to California. After 3 weeks of being stranded in Texas, he finally made it home. We soon discovered he had no tear ducts and had artificial ones (hence his registered name... "Metallic Tears") put in at UC Davis, twice! He then caught the herpes virus while at Davis and was in quarantine for 3 months! Shortly after we had him castrated at UC Davis and a whole mess of problems with infection hit him after that. So needless to say his start in life was not the best. But, through good faith and a lot of luck Elvis is here today cutting at the 2014 futurities!

I got to show him for the first time last week at the El Rancho Futurity. Just to walk him to the herd seemed surreal, it seemed like problem after problem with him medically sealed his fate of never cutting. But look at us go! I was not nervous to show him, as I sometimes get when I walk to the herd on my horses. I was just happy to be there!

Cutting on him was so much fun! He is a cool, calm competitor that doesn't get rattled during his run. He is small in size but a pretty steady dude. I cruised through the first round of competition with a score of 213, which is just above an average score in the National Cutting Horse Association's five judge system. With the first round over, I felt pretty excited to continue to show my horse well and advance through the rest of the rounds.

My Mom was the one who had to haul poor Elvis to his grueling veterinary appointments. She is the one who received the bad news when his procedures went not to plan. She is the one who kept me upbeat when I thought all was lost. My Mom never lost hope. She was thrilled to watch Elvis show his stuff, I think she was mostly nervous though.  

After we put Elvis in his stall and feed him some treats my mom and I decided to go treat ourselves to a Mexican food lunch that we enjoyed many times before - Coyote's in Lockeford. 

And this is me howling like a coyote portrayed on the menu...
Sometimes I am a little dramatic.
My mom had to actually take my photo doing this.
What a sport! 

Listed as a special on the menu board was "Real Crab Enchiladas" and I knew my mom would order it. It was served with a tangy green sauce. I sometimes regret ordering seafood type entrees at Mexican restaurants because I know they do their shredded beef right. So I leave the seafood section alone when dining la Mexicana! She did not seem to mind it but in my heart I know she wished she ordered her usual order of "Chile Relleno".

I ordered what I always do because on that day I felt like staying on course. One shredded beef enchilada and taco with rice and beans. It was perfect! I loved their enchilada sauce, it was smoky and not heavy on tomato taste. I know that sounds weird but I like a doctored up version. Make it sweet, make it spicy, smoke it up even if it is from the can it does wonders. The rice was fluffy although beans lack luster.

The chips and salsa are worth the drive alone. They sneak in flour chips with their tasty salsa and that is just my favorite! It was a perfect day. Horse show fun, socializing with my mom and eating Mexican food. My idea of perfection! 

Are you wondering how the rest of the horse show turned out? 
Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Capriccio - Ventura, CA

I must apologize for not blogging in like, forever... I was busy being a supportive horse show wife and competitior. I wear many hats! And lets resume with our regular blogging schedule...

 Main Street in Downtown Ventura is a happening place. When I was new to the area I used to stroll the sidewalks and enjoy the blocks of stores, restaurants and bars. One place I had not dined yet was Capriccio so I rallied my two foodies, Dana and Darla for a visit. Inside the corner restaurant it has a lot of local art on its brick laid walls, which made for a lot of visual interest. 

We were starving so torn into the bread the second it was set on the table. The olive oil and basalmic was lovely. We ate more than we should have.

When Dana and I heard the "Soup of the Day" was lobster bisque we got a little excited and ordered it. The bowl was a large one and I instantly knew I over ordered but didn't care at all. The soup was nice and I used the remaining bread as a vehicle to get more of the creamy bisque inside of me. I forced myself to stop eating so I would have room for my entree.

Darla was a good little eater and ordered the Walnut Salad with addition of chicken. It is complete with field greens, roasted pears, candied walnuts and blue cheese. That is my kind of salad! If I was craving lettuce that day, I would have followed her lead!

There was a special of Salmon Almondine served with a Vegetable Risotto and I jumped on that train. I love the trout version so I decided the salmon must be just as delicious. The fish was cooked perfectly and the almond coating was nice. However, I do wish it was served with some kind of sauce. The thick piece of fish and nuts made for a dry bite if you did not include the risotto in each forkful. The risotto itself was nice but the large chunks of al dente vegetables distracted me. I think the pieces should be served smaller and cooked to resemble the rice, soft and creamy.

It was a nice meal, totally comfortable atmosphere and service on point. A great place to stop in for lunch. If you are lucky enough to snag a table outside you will be entertained by the people watching!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bell Street Farm - Los Alamos, CA

On the drive home from the Madonna Inn last week I made a few pit stops on the way home. Most were fashion shopping related but one of them was to the Bell Street Farm in Los Alamos. I had heard any exciting things about their food and concepts so I decided to wheel in and see for myself. It is an order at the counter joint, that gives you a number and then they walk out food. They ask for a tip but I am always confused on how to tip them, considering at that point I was not given any service and have no idea on what they truly deserve.  

I ordered a real Coke and asked for water on the side. I was never given a refill on the water. So I guess the tip I left was pretty hefty given the service. You got me Bell Street Farm, you got me. 

I always love a good soup, you know that. This was ok. Minestrone was fine but in my personal opinion I prefer my vegetables cut into much smaller pieces. I don't want a knife and fork soup, I want soft and silky. The flavor was good despite needing a shake of salt, that was not on the table.

I was torn on what salad to order, on paper they all sounded good but I was talked into the Rotisserie Pork Salad by the cashier so I followed his lead. The menu read"Hot and Crispy Pork belly wrapped Shoulder" and I would love to say it was really that but a more accurate description would be "Warm and Chewy". The butter lettuce was fresh, onion fantastic and roasted potato was just fine.

Did I love Bell Street Farm? I wanted to, I really did. It was darling and the owner greeted and waved goodbye to all the patrons. The food was ok. Maybe I ordered bad, I would give it another shot but it had better deliver!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro - Santa Barbara, CA

Today was a really beautiful day in Santa Barbara, almost to the point of being too warm. Dana and I tried to shop but felt that the heat was really wiping us out so we decided to break for lunch sooner than later. I had never been to Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro so when she suggested it I was game on. The seat outside was worth the price of admission, the people watching was totally entertaining.

I am sure something was amusing me at this point... 

Like I said above I was hungry, a little lunch salad was not going to quite cut the mustard for me. I settled on the Roasted Beet and Farro Salad complete with arugula and goat cheese and the addition of Salmon. It was plenty and did the job right. I left feeling satisfied but not too full. This would for sure be something I would like again. 

Dana went for the Cobb Salad and I am not going to lie it was something that caught my eye. Chocked full of chicken, bacon, tomato, avocado, egg and olive it certainly ate like a meal. I knew it looked good but I was happy to have my salmon.

What a pretty place to sit and have a meal with a wonderful friend. I have walked passed it a bunch of times and was glad to have had the opportunity to have dined there today. It gets a "yes" from me.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Madonna Inn - San Luis Obsipo, CA

Yesterday was a great day! I woke up early on my Sunday morning and took a drive up north on the 101 to have a great visit with my sister. We met at the Madonna Inn for breakfast and I couldn't be more thrilled at our VIP status. Our table was reserved when we walked in and we had the best seat in the house. What fun!

I ordered an Iced Tea in a pretty pink Carnival glass goblet with a rock sugar candy on top. It is mostly just for fun but it is too cute for swirling in your beverages. I like the interactiveness of it all. They are .75 cent s if you want one to go home with you. So worth it...

I ordered Pancakes and was not disappointed. These pancakes were light, fluffy and made specifically for me! The batter is what makes them and they are doing it just right. I love that the butter came out room temperature, there is nothing worse than trying to spread cold butter! The syrup was lovely as well. I cannot brag enough on these cakes!

I asked for my side of bacon to come out crispy and it too was done just right. Sweet and salty bites from the pancakes and from the pork. The one thing I would have wished was the plate of bacon was never ending... 

I really enjoyed this morning meal with my sister because the special time I spend with her is so few and far between.  The Madonna Inn is a perfect place to meet for us as it is almost halfway for the two of us. I see many meals being shared gabbing with her here. 

What a beautiful day!