Creature of Habit


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With almost 500,00 people living in Long Beach, I am always surprised by the look of familiarity that the people at Coffee Cup Cafe have in their eyes every weekend when my husband and I visit. We love going to Starling Diner but Coffee Cup is definitely our regular breakfast spot. Reggie works a lot of hours Monday-Friday so Saturday mornings are our time to catch up over a delicious breakfast and the best cup of coffee in town.


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I mean, with a name like Coffee Cup Cafe, they better have a good cup of coffee, right? The consistency is thicker than average, which, for me is ideal. There is always a flavored option and they are not your standard French Vanilla and Hazelnut. Instead you will find rich Cinnamon flavors or my favorite, Chocolate Macadamia Nut.

Reggie and I are definitely adventurous eaters but at Coffee Cup, we always order the exact same thing.


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Pancake Combo for him. We both swear there is a hint of cinnamon in these fluffy cakes. Or as my husband just said “it is like eating a cloud.” Very descriptive that one. 😉


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Juan’s Favorite omelette for me. I order this every time I go here. Seriously. This is pretty standard behavior for me though when it comes to breakfast. When I was a little girl, I loved nothing more than going out to breakfast with my grandfather. It was in those moments where we talked about my dreams. And each week at the same place, each of us ordered the same thing (french toast for me, eggs and bacon for him). I am definitely a creature of habit.


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This omelette, like everything else here is perfection–slightly sweet veggie chorizo, perfectly cooked veggies, enveloped in a thin egg blanket topped with creamy avocado. If you are a fan of spicy, top the omelette with copious amounts of their homemade green salsa. I really do want to try something else…but I probably won’t. 😉


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Friday Night Special

I love Fridays. Not because the weekend is near or a new movie is coming out, though I do love all of those things. Instead, my anticipation comes from the Friday night special at George’s Greek Cafe for kleftiko. According to legend, kleftiko means “stolen meat.” Historically, this dish is made with a lamb stolen from a flock, perhaps one grazing in nearby hillside. Then, the thief would cook the meat for several hours in an underground oven sealed with mud so no steam could escape and give the thief away. The result? The most tender, flavorful piece of lamb. Heaven.

George’s Greek Cafe is also a legend in itself. On a given night you can find George himself standing outside hugging guests as they enter the restaurant. Okay, the hugging is optional but I like it.

In all seriousness, the service is incredible. Everyone is smiling and happy to offer food and wine recommendations and occasionally some (free) samples. No pretention, just free wine. For example, if you want to try some wine before committing to a bottle, just tell your server what you like and they are happy to let you taste several options before deciding on a bottle.

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My husband shares my kleftiko enthusiasm so he joined me for dinner. We started our evening with a Greek favorite, Amethystos. This wine is a solid Cabernet & Merlot blend that pairs nicely with the lamb.

Reg and I were quite hungry but we knew we wanted to order a couple favorites before our lamb arrived. First up was the Melintzanosalata, a baked eggplant dip with garlic and lemon juice. The flavors are light and clean. I dare you to just try a little.

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Then, the Saganaki arrived. This is all about the presentation, baby! Saganaki is an extremeley popular appetizer here. I know this because you can literally see when someone orders it because of the “show” that comes with it. However, as great as the giant fire show is, the actual dish is even better.

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Greek Kasseri cheese is battered and lightly fried then brought to table to be flamed with Brandy and then the whole dish is finished with Kalamata Olives and fresh squeezed lemon juiced. Best served layered on that soft, doughy pita bread.

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Here it is–the famous Kleftiko. Not only is the meat spectacular (I highly recommend squeezing those lemons on the meat to intensify the flavors a bit more) but the sides are equally fantastic. The potatoes are roasted with quality olive oil, onions, and thinly sliced carrots which make the potatoes slightly sweet. George’s famous Greek salad is also served with the dish.

The combination of authentic, friendly service, affordability, and fresh healthy food makes George’s one of my favorite restaurants…period. While Friday has a special place in my heart because it is the only night you can order Kleftiko, any night you visit George’s you will not be disappointed.

xo,

Jenna

P.S. Can’t visit on a Friday? Check out their Monday night 1/2 off bottles of wine special!

Cinnamon Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

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Every time I visit a Mexican restaurant I vow to try something new but I always end up ordering the same thing-enchiladas. There is just something comforting about warm tortillas filled with chicken and melted cheese covered in a slightly spicy sauce. Okay…who am I kidding, I just love melted cheese?

I have been experimenting with my own recipe for quite some time and I think I finally came up with a winner. Using this fabulous recipe as a guide, I made some significant changes to make it my own including the addition of CINNAMON. I believe cinnamon makes (almost) everything better. Anyone else with me?


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After poaching the chicken, I allowed it to cool and shred it into bite sized pieces.


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I combined the salsas, hot sauce, and cinnamon with the yogurt. I really believe 2% makes all of the difference in the world here. You could use fat free but the filling is far more creamy and satisfying with the 2%.

Side note: Normally I do not use yogurt containers for mixing bowls but since I had the perfect amount left in the container, I figured why not? Less dishes to clean for me!


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A little bit of enchilada sauce goes into the bottom of the baking dish.


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The yogurt mixture is then layered with the chicken and cheese on a tortilla. I used the whole wheat handmade tortillas from Trader Joe’s. They make the enchiladas a bit larger than the ones you find in a restaurant but they have a doughy texture to them that cannot be matched.


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Place each tortilla seam side down in the baking dish and repeat with the remaining tortillas. Drinking your favorite beer in the process is just an added bonus. 😉


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Cover with the remaining cheese and sauce and bake for about 30 minutes.


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Cinnamon Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

4 Servings

1 lb. chicken breasts

1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese blend

12 oz. enchilada sauce

3 (rounded) tablespoons Chipotle Salsa

3 (rounded) tablespoons Corn Salsa

4 whole wheat flour tortillas

1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Hot sauce, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Poach chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

3. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, salsas, hot sauce, and cinnamon. Spread 1/3 of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.

4. Take each tortilla and layer 2 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture, 1/3 cup chicken, and 1/4 cup cheese. Roll like a cigar and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

5. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes and serve immediately.


Top with fresh avocado and the remaining yogurt mixture to take the final dish over the top. Reggie is quite particular about his enchiladas and he said these were my best to date. I will definitely be making these again!

Please enjoy! 🙂

xo,


Jenna

Summer Memories & Cupcakes


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When I think of summer desserts, my mind is always drawn to a cake my family used to purchase every summer growing up in New Hampshire. So simple but so addicting–just layers of white cake with fresh whipped cream and berries. Every year I looked forward to enjoying that cake and every year I ate my body weight in it. 😉

Since I am no longer living in New Hampshire, I could not have this specific treat but I wanted to recreate something that would satisfy the craving. Luckily, Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe for Raspberry Cream Cupcakes did all of the work for me. And it may have been the easiest dessert I have ever made. You get to cheat by using boxed cake mix with some little extras like vanilla and almond (!!) extract. Then you whip some fresh cream and fold in some smashed fresh raspberries. So simple and incredibly delicious.


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What is your favorite summer dessert?


xo,


Jenna

Hello I Love…Starling Diner

First of all, I want to apologize for the large gap between posts. Short version of a very long story=we had to move very fast because the water in our old apartment turned out to have a toxic level of bacteria. Ew. I know. Luckily, Reg and I are both healthy and we are now living back in Long Beach.

I love Long Beach and I must say it really feels good to be home. We have moved several times over the last 7 years and Long Beach is the only place we lived for more than a year and I think we will be staying here for a long time. Naturally, my favorite part of Long Beach is the food, particularly the breakfast. For some reason, I have found that Long Beach houses some of the best breakfast restaurants and they are always crowded.


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Case in point–Starling Diner. This place usually has a wait and for good reason. You get fresh, creative dishes in a quaint cozy house turned restaurant served with a smile.

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Free coffee always makes the wait more tolerable.


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In fact, Starling takes waiting area entertainment to a whole new level with the composition notebooks that are scattered around the restaurants for people to write, share their thoughts (about food and life)… or maybe just doodle.


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I thought this entry was awesome. I loved the chain of responses between people who stumbled upon this particular notebook over what to order.


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We started with some old favorites. I missed these Cream Scones so much. They are especially good when topped with the homemade orange butter and homemade lemon curd. They only bake so many each day so it is first come first served. They are brought out immediately after ordering and are perfect to nibble on while perusing the menu.

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I chose the scramble with roasted mushrooms, spinach, and jack cheese. The roasted mushrooms’s deep flavor made this scramble really special. The roasted potatoes and fresh baguette were a great added bonus but I pushed them aside to share Reg’s breakfast.


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Yes, this would be their sourdough baguette stuffed french toast filled with Mascarpone cheese and topped with fresh whipped cream, berries, and Creme Anglaise. Unbelievable! I cannot believe I have been to this restaurant at least 20 times and never once tried the french toast. Now, I don’t think I could order anything else. This is a must try my friends.

As usual, everything was fresh and delicious. The serviced was equally spectacular. Before leaving and walking home (love that I can do that now), Reg had to grab one of the notebooks and write a little message of his own. Do you want to see?


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I guess you will just have to visit Starling Diner yourself to find it! 😉

xo,

Jenna