I’m on a soup kick because my husband will not eat soup unless its clam chowder or French Onion soup.  At lunch is my chance to try something different.  I’m still using up that leftover turkey but didn’t want to make exactly the same soup.

Today I grilled up the vegetables on the indoor grill.  You could grill outdoors or sear in a hot skillet.  Cast iron would work nicely, or maybe sear in a wok.

Put about 3 cups turkey broth and as much turkey (substitute chicken) as you desire into a medium size saucepan.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Heat over medium heat.

Cook your vegetables on the grill.  
one small baby red sweet pepper
one small potato; peel then quarter
one-fourth onion; separate out the sections so they lay curve side down on the grill
one section of carrot about 5 inches long and 1/2 inch wide so that it stays on the grill

Cook until they get sear marks and begin to get tender. Cut potato into bite-size pieces and add to the broth.   Remove the top of the pepper and seeds.  Dice the onion and pepper and add to the soup.  Lastly cut the carrot on a diagonal about 1/8 inch thick and add to broth too.

The soup will cook for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are completely tender.  As the potatoes cook they will absorb broth so make sure to watch and add more broth as necessary.  Mine cooked down so that it was a thickened broth.  Add as much broth as you desire.

I thought I had enough soup that I wouldn’t be able to eat it all, but NO and ate every last drop.  Though I did share a few bits with my Yorkie, Gismo.  She enjoyed the soup too.

This flavorful rice dish is one of my standards to serve with chicken, seafood or pork. Friends will often ask me to cook up a batch of the Greek Rice to serve with dinner. It’s really easy to make and has a nice nutty flavor with the browned Orzo pasta added in.

Left overs can be used for a refried rice by reheating in a little dab of hot oil then mix in some scrambled egg, fresh chopped green onion and chopped meat such as grilled chicken.

Ingredients
3 cups Chicken broth (substitute Knorr’s Vegetable bouillon for vegetarian)
1 1/2 teaspoon Cavendars Greek Spice
1 cup Basmati Rice
1 medium Bay leaf
2 tablespoons Pasta; orzo
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Parsley

Greek Rice
Greek Rice served with Grilled Teriyaki Glazed Yellow Fin Tuna

Preparation
In medium size sauce pan, add olive oil and heat to medium temperature.

Add orzo and brown the pasta until a nutty brown color. Add Basmati rice and coat with olive oil. Stir for a few minutes until rice is warm. Stir in salt, Cavendar’s spice and parsley.

Slowly add chicken broth to cover warm rice mixture. Drop in the bay leaf. Bring to boil and then cover.

Turn down to low heat and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed into tender rice. If more liquid is needed, add water and recover until rice is soft and fluffy.

While enjoying weekend guests at our newly finished cabin in Prescott Arizona, a friend snapped a picture of me preparing Happy Hour and staging dinner.  It turned out to be quite a fun picture and captured me at my happiest…  cooking for friends.  I liked the picture so much that it is now my new gravatar and profile picture.

Gus, my hubby, and I designed the kitchen to follow the industrial theme in the cabin.  The raised counter in front of me in the picture was created from plates of heavy metal that are elevated about a foot above the counter.  It’s supposed to serve as a breakfast bar.  Gus made the counter by welding a platform to posts and then securing the bar to the posts.  Quite creative of him even if I say so myself.

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Me in my Two Butt Kitchen

The kitchen cabinets are also industrial inspired.  The framing is all made of welded metal to create the framework and then cabinet facings were attached.  Gus also made and welded the cabinets.  All the metal in the kitchen was painted an oil rubbed bronze color and the back splash on the wall is of a brass metal over small tiles which gives it that rich glow.

I love cooking in the kitchen as everything is at a close arm length away.  The kitchen has everything that the larger kitchen has but in more confined space.  We even were able to squeeze in a wine refrigerator.

Some areas may be a little too close though.  We had to cut away the drywall behind the stove so that it could push back a couple of more inches.  After we installed the stove we were amazed to find that we couldn’t open the dishwasher.  The handles on the stove came so far out that the opened door of the dishwasher hit them.   We were able to make it work with a little ingenuity and elbow grease. You can probably guess that we built the cabin ourselves and that led to a few fun but difficult moments.

I’ll have been thinking of sharing more about the creations in the kitchen and in the home as a new page in my blog.  This cabin is not your typical and is full of fun surprises.

Let me know if you want to learn more about this industrial cabin called “IRONWORKS”.

This was our second dining experience at Uncle Sal’s in Scottsdale AZ and the dining experience was just as great as the first.  It had been several years since we had first enjoyed the fine food of Uncle Sal’s and I was anxious to see if they could live up to my expectation based on the prior experience.  Our friends Fred and Basia highly recommended the restaurant both times and I quickly said yes when it came up again.   Our first visit was a little on the pricey side because we were in the main dining room and selected from the dining room menu.  I’ve no regrets though since the meal was greatly enjoyed by all and I was eagerly awaiting another visit.  I just wish my hubby, Gus, loved Italian food as much as me which would bring me here more often.

Uncle Sals At Thomas & Hayden Roads, Scottsdale AZ Our second visit was just as great but our dollar output was much lower.  The food was just a splendid as if we were still in the main dining room.  We seated ourselves on high back chairs at the bar since we did not have reservations and the only regret was the hard seats.  Gus was especially sad that we were not in main dining because he has a skinny little butt and complained later to me about the seating.  He would have preferred main dining even if the bar menu was not available.  When dining in the bar you have choice of the full dining room menu or the more reasonable, but limited bar menu. dunclesalsbar-25-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255 All the seats at the bar were also full by 7pm on this Sunday evening with other wannabee’s wandering in and around looking around for a seat.  We had our seats, a smile on our face and a great bartender, Johnny, giving us full attention.  Feel free to order the house Chianti for your choice of wine with dinner if you are more budget minded, however, there is a great wine selection to choose from.  The Chianti is a okay wine, priced reasonable and served by the glass. A freshly made house dinner salad was our starter and was bed of fresh lettuce, tomatoes and mine with a delightful house vinaigrette dressing.  I ordered the Chicken Milanese especially because I had tried a recipe from Big Oven and I wanted to compare the two dishes.  Sal’s Milanese was a delicate lemon sauce over a lightly breaded chicken along with Sautéed green beans.  _mg_5211_small-11-800-600-80-rd-255-255-255Uncle Sal’s was a much more delicate version than the one that I made and this was probably due to the light breading on the chicken.  It lends truth to more is not always better. Gus ordered a Rib Eye that was to die for and so huge it covered most of the plate.  I made him give me a bite and it was delicious.  Cooked medium rare and then with a butter topping of parsley, oregano, garlic plus salt and pepper, it would par with Ruth Chris easily but Ruth Chris would have been three times the price.  The was definitely enough for the most hearty appetite.  Gus had half left which we took home and made a hot steak, mushroom and Havarti cheese on French roll the following day.   In this case more was better since Gus had the pleasure of two meals and both very tasty._mg_5206-24-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255 Basia enjoyed a Pan Seared Scallop dish from the bar menu.  Her choice was priced very reasonable but they did not cut corners on preparation or quality.  It was excellent, of course I had a bite!  There was a nice light lemony sauce with bits of bacon for added flavor.  Fred’s choice was a Meatball Calzone also from the bar menu.  It was incredibly with large meatballs and lots of cheese.  This was the ultimate bar-man’s meal. On a fun side, I’ve heard rumor that Uncle Sal’s was based on a mafia family opening a restaurant to go legit.  Who knows for sure but it does add a little sparkle to the experience.  I can just imagine that Joseph “Joe Dogs” Iannuzzi dined here or led a secret life with Uncle Sal.  More to the truth, the Molinari family brought this fine cuisine to the valley of the sun in 1988.  The restaurant is high action, fast paced with a clientele ranging from their 30’s to 60’s from what I observed.   I would recommend to eat in the dining room where you may be more comfortable but if dollars are an issue pick the bar and let Johnny entertain you. Whether you eat in the bar or in the main dining room you will be sure to enjoy.   All in all this was a great experience, great meals and I cant wait to try something new next time. Here are some samples of other dishes prepared at Sal’s and borrowed from their website; http://www.unclesalsaz.com/ _mg_5239_small-20-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255_mg_5235_small-10-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255epasta-19-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255

Our first early evening in Galveston after a long slow dreadful drive from Houston was completely forgotten when we found ourselves at Nate’s Seafood in Jamaica Beach.  At least the dreadful drive through rush hour traffic on a Friday in Houston was forgotten, not the great dining experiences that day.  About, Nate’s,  don’t be confused by the Jamaica Beach address, it’s a small town along  the main Seawall Blvd from the East End to the West End on Galveston Island.  They are located just at the west side of Jamaica Beach.  The signage can be confusing along Seawall.   You leave Galveston, enter into Jamaica Beach and then return to Galveston just within a few miles.  Our Timeshare location was just a short 1.8 miles from Nate’s and Jamaica Beach.

Nate’s was found only because of stopping at the local market that was short distance from our Timeshare trade. The hotel (if you can call it that) didn’t have a dining facility and hunger had again set in after lunch earlier that day at Lupe’s Tortilla Mexican Restaurant. After filing the grocery basket to the brim with snacks, fruit, Shocktop, Guinness and Ménage a Trios red wine, the car was loaded up and we walked the short distance to Nate’s.  Luckier than most upcoming diners, a table had just been cleared and it was our for the taking.

On an earlier post about Eating Our Way Through a Vacation, I spoke of curbside appeal for a restaurant.  I can’t tout anything special about the façade for this little diner but surely it is not a best kept secret of Galveston.  It was clean, freshly painted outside and had a nice add-on outdoor patio.   It appears to be a regular stop for the locals and seasonal visitors with the bustle of hungry people coming and going to tables.  The bar packed with people noshing on plates of peel and eat shrimp or piled high plates of crawfish. The wait staff is at a quick pace that doesn’t slow the entire diner hour.

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During our visit to Galveston, we dined two times at Nate’s.  Mostly for convenience on the second visit, but the food and service were good enough for a return visit.  The first meal appetizer was Peel and Eat Shrimp which was nicely prepared with a light and tasteful spicing that must have been from a steamer broth.  Then we shared a large hamburger that was cooked exactly as wanted and large enough to share.  Selecting a beef dish may have been a mistake.  The burger was good, but being that Nate’s is a seafood restaurant the main course should have been seafood and I wish we had gone the extra dollars for something seafood.

On our second visit again we selected beef.  Go figure??  The meal was the Smothered Hamburger Steak and it was good.  Small side salads and a glass of so-so wine was enjoyed while waiting for the main course.  The Smothered Hamburger Steak was robustly spiced with a rub and grilled to a medium rare as requested.  Normally their hamburger steak would be covered with a beef mushroom gravy but we requested ours on the side so that we could enjoy more of the spice rub flavor.

Nate’s may not be five star dining, but the menu has enough variety for everyone, the staff is attentive and friendly, the portions are large enough to often split if desired and the prices are reasonable.  A very popular stop for the Galveston West End and worth the extra drive away from the heavy traffic on the East End.  Give them a try.

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Nate’s West End
17575 San Luis Pass Rd.
Galveston, TX 77554
Phone: (409)737-9530

More reviews to come as we travelled from Houston to Galveston and throughout that area during the first week of May 2013.

Our vacations are usually not what one would call the veg out and relaxing one where you sit by the beach and burn to a crisp.  Gus and I love to venture out each day in a rental car and visit antiques stores, stop by a brewery for his favorite stout beers and then find an interesting place for lunch and dinner.

Some of the eateries we visit are a pleasant surprise and others not.  It all depends.  Usually, we let our eyes do the talking as we are on the look out for somewhere to eat.  Does the restaurant have curbside eye appeal.  Does it look clean and uncluttered or is it old and quaint.  Old and quaint is fine if has that homey feel but not so overgrown homey as to reek of greasy spoon.  Once inside the nose takes over and if you feel and take in the aroma of good food then find a table quick.

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Our first stop was on arrival day in Houston was at Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurant.  We had just picked up a rental car from a location that was several miles away from George Bush Airport Houston.  The rental car location was selected because there was a NRA Convention in town and the rental car prices from the airport were $700-800 per week.  By going to an off airport location we were able to rent the same car for $235 a week.  Big savings and that how we found Lupe Tortilla in Houston.  They actually have a really cute website if you want to give them a visit.

Anyway, I digress.  Lupe’s was a pleasant surprise and delightful.  They have the usual curbside Mexican restaurant eye appeal of the Stucco Hacienda restaurant in yellow gold.  Inside it was tastefully decorated and colorful as with most good TexMex restaurants.

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The food was very good.  We wanted Fajita’s and they had a variety to choose from.  The Chicken Fajita dish was selected and we also went with a side of guacamole.  Chips and salsa were enjoyed while we waited for the main course.  Lupe’s serves their Fajita’s with the larger size tortilla instead of small one so there was plenty of tortilla to go around.  I must say that this was one of the better Fajita meals that we have had.  There was plenty of grilled chicken cooked to perfection and enough grilled to caramelized onions to accompany.  They did not overwhelm the dish with onions, peppers and other nonsense so that you had to dig through to find a morsel of meat.  Since returning home, I’ve learned that there are Lupe Tortilla locations all over the greater Houston area.  Lupe’s… when are your coming to Arizona?

More reviews to come as we travelled from Houston to Galveston and throughout that area during the first week of May 2013.