Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year Cocktail

We're avoiding amateur night, as per usual, making our own little NYE celebration at home. Snuggled on the couch with Depeche Mode tunes and Thai red curry chicken, we must kick off the night with a celebratory cocktail.

We have no idea what the hell this is but it's amusing. It appears to be some sort of white trash cross between a martini and an adult pineapple float. Cheers to the new year - may you always be amused!

CoupleNextDoor WhiteTrashTini

Place a small scoop of pineapple sherbet into a martini glass
Add a few glugs of vodka
Squirt with a swirl of homemade grenadine
Float a few glugs of sparkling wine on top

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice Supper

Nothing suits a cold, damp evening better than piping hot pots of soup. We ushered in this dark winter solstice with our interpretation of caldo de pollo.

There isn't really a recipe so much as a process. That's the way Granny does it, y'know. It always starts with some sort of bone-in chicken. On occasion we use a whole chicken and then de-bone it before adding the veggies if that's what's on hand. Our preference, however, is to use a combination of legs and thighs or leg quarters and then just leave them bone-in.

We dump the chicken into a pot and cover with water. Then we season generously with salt, a good amount of chili powder and garlic, a fair amount of cumin, a bit of cayenne and sometimes a bit of oregano. That simmers gently until the meat is tender and the kitchen smells good.

Large chunks of whatever veggies are handy get dumped into the pot at that point. Usual suspects at our house are potatoes and carrots. Once those are tender, we usually turn off the heat and drown small cabbage wedges into the broth if we have any in the fridge. By the time it's cooled just enough so the kids don't get scalded, the cabbage is done.

We dish it up in wide, relatively shallow bowls. Everyone chooses from diced onion, chopped cilantro, avocado chunks and rice to spruce up the basic soup according to our own preferences and then squeeze limes over the top.

Warm up some corn tortillas and dinner's done.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just A Light Lunch

Listen up all you ladies who lunch. We totally get it that you'd just want a small salad, minding your girlish figures and all. But when you dump a shit-ton of ranch dressing on top it ceases to serve said figure sparing function. This is particularly true when you wash it down with a Jack in the Box-esque deep fried Tupy Taco.

If you're headed to a Mexican joint, we surmise it would be much more enjoyable to drop the delusions. Jump right in with a margarita and savor the salty rice, borracho beans, grilled meaty goodness and nice warm corn tortillas. While you're at it, leave the funky fried tacos to all the drunks hitting up Jack in the Box after midnight.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Steamin' Hot Dumplings

MomNextDoor is a self-admitted dumpling slut and DadNextDoor would give it all up for the perfect bowl of soup. We were giddy with excitement last week when we enjoyed brunch at Jeng Chi Restaurant in Richardson. This glorious hideaway is the perfect place to indulge both our vices. 

The hot & sour soup was the perfect balance of flavors and the broth wasn't laden with thickener like many Americanized places can tend to serve. Tender tofu and crispy vegetables provided a great texture contrast. The dark broth beef soup was both rich and at the same time refreshing. The chewy, tender beef worked well with the wilted greens and complex broth.

                                                                                       Onion Pancake

The most perfect accompaniment to our soups was the onion pancake. This was our first experience with this amazing treat and we were anticipating something more along the lines of a crepe or tortilla. These wedges of goodness are crispy on the outside and oh so chewy in the inside. Dipped in our hot, salty and spicy broth, the scallion pancake was nearly foodgasmic.

Finally, to finish us off, we doubled up on dumplings. One cannot skip the juicy steamed dumplings. These bundles of goodness have a flavorful pork filling, bathed in salty broth, all embraced by a fluffy steamed dumpling. They are the perfect bite all on their own. The pork and napa dumplings rocked our socks too but they definitely benefited from a generous lather in the ginger vinegar dipping sauce.

                                                                  Juicy Steamed Dumplings

We were stuffed and spent at the end of our Sunday brunch, our wallet only about $25 lighter. We have temperamental tummies which showed no signs of MSG induced crankiness.

This unassuming little family restaurant, tucked away at the back of a shopping center at Greenville & Apollo, is one of our new favorite gems. Can't stop thinking of all those steaming hot morsels ... thinking we'll find ourselves there again this weekend.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful for Cocktails

You guessed it - time for holiday cocktails! We're imagining we're somewhere in the Caribbean this week, with rum of course.

Mom's Mai Tai

     Stir with crushed ice:

     3 oz sweet & sour mix

     1.5 oz light rum
     3/4 oz triple sec
     3/4 oz amaretto
     Juice of 1/4 lime

     Float 1-1.5 oz dark rum on top after stirring

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Girl Stuff

Every girl needs a secret stash of stuff that makes us feel special & sexy. Little things do matter. Don't save them for special people or special occasions, ladies. Indulge daily. These are a few of my current feel-good faves that are affordable enough for just about anyone:

  • essie nail polish - Love it in any color! I work in a profession known for some serious, frequent hand washing & this polish holds up better than just about anything out there. At under $8 a bottle, you can afford to stock up on a huge color palate. Make sure you check out the quick-drying "good to go" top coat to set the color & keep it locked in place.
  • HESPERIDES Body Lotion – This moisturizing Fresh formula softens skin without leaving a greasy residue. Perfect to smooth on every day. The delicate grapefruit scent is refreshing & feminine without being sickly sweet.
  • Joico K-PAK Reconstruct – I use this reconstructing conditioner 2-3 times a week. It improves hair texture and shine without weighing it down or making it oily. This is a must have for anyone who chemically treats or heat styles their locks & wants them to stay silky & shiny.
  • Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh – Every woman needs a signature fragrance - something that gives you energy, makes you feel sexy & confident, and makes people think of you each and every time the scent breezes by. This is mine. It’s a uniquely feminine fragrance that blends floral & fruit notes without being cloyingly sweet. Very fresh & feminine.
  • Wella Color Charm – This demi-permanent hair color is the perfect thing for a quick hair pick-me-up. I am horrible at planning ahead & I am the worst procrastinator when it comes to color. This demi-permanent product lasts a good month but gradually fades at the root so I don’t end up with a hideous line that advertises “my hair color is fake!” Once I finally get around to freshening up, it takes all of about 15 minutes to hide those grey strands trying to peek through. Perfect.
Enjoy ladies!

-  MomNextDoor

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Resurrecting Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinner is one of those family traditions that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Remember those days as a kid when you'd go to Grandma's house for a slow-cooked Sunday dinner with the family? The feeling was like a big, warm hug full of love that made you feel loved, important and protected.

We've resurrected Sunday Dinner at our house. This day is reserved for family time at home. With three teenagers, our weeks are pretty busy these days and it's easy to get lost in our own little worlds. Sunday Dinner gives us the protected time and space so important to nourish, center and unite ourselves as a family. It gives us the strength to get through another week.

Our Sunday Dinner menus typically include slow-cooked or indulgent specialties that we might not ordinarily make during the week. One of the kids' favorites is beef tenderloin with bearnaise but grilled ribeye and sweet potato oven fries are a close second. Some nights you just cannot beat roast chicken and veggies but for a great spin on Sunday Dinner, DadNextDoor makes a rockin' Thai red curry with basil.

Tonight MomNextDoor remembers Sundays at Grandma Dorothy's house. Slow-cooked brisket and buttery mashed potatoes will warm our bellies as we gather around the table and find our family's center. This is where we find our strength.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Holiday Cocktails

Every holiday calls for a special cocktail. A little treat once in a while is what life's all about after all. This Labor Day I'm breaking out one of my favorite recipes, the pineapple upside-down cake martini.

This simple nectar calls for one part vanilla vodka, two parts pineapple juice and a squirt of homemade grenadine. If you like the flavor of this martini you might also like to enjoy it over ice with a bit of club soda. Incidentally, I do not prefer Smirnoff and I can't get into the red sugar water that passes for grenadine at your local market.

So what about that grenadine? The homemade stuff is just too easy to cut corners. You just grab a 16 oz. bottle of pomegranate juice from the store, put it in a saucepan with a cup of sugar and then simmer until slightly reduced and thickened. Pour the syrup into your squirty bottle of choice and keep in the fridge for use in your favorite cocktails and teas.

Happy Labor Day!

-- MomNextDoor

Sunday, August 21, 2011

School Lunches

School kicks off tomorrow morning, bright and early. Our kids will each be making their own lunches to take along. Thankfully, they've never been very interested in school cafeteria food.

They're big enough that they can decide for themselves what they would like to have on a given week and then contribute to that week's grocery list and shopping trip. They've also been big enough for a long time now to make and pack their lunches. Their favorites seem to rotate each year, but sometimes it's bento style boxes, lots of times it's wraps or sandwiches and frequently it's leftovers. We've always had good eaters and we do not keep junk in the house so we're usually happy with whatever they choose.

What's up with school lunches at your house?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen

Feeding yourself is probably the most basic self care skill. We are constantly in amazement at just how many of our own peers "do not cook" or "don't know how to cook." Well... um, why not?

We've always felt that one of the greatest gifts we could give our kids is to send them off into the world with at least a basic understanding of where ingredients come from, how to acquire them and how to put them together into a decent meal. Since they were tiny we've always sought their input for the weekly meal plan, taken them along to do grocery shopping, involved them in caring for the family garden and kept them active in the kitchen. 

They've been preparing basic things probably since kindergarten, but having the freedom to create independently has inspired them to try new things. One of our teenage boys bakes a much sought after tres leches cake that he has been perfecting for the past couple of years. The other served our family the most beautifully complex tikka masala for dinner last night. 

Help your kids learn to be competent in their own home kitchen. It gives them confidence, it makes them proud and it's important. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nammi Truck Rocks Bahn Mi

Nammi Truck delivers a mean bahn mi sandwich.

We tried both the pork and the chicken deliciousness. Our favorite part of this tasty sandwich was the homemade pickled vegetables. Actually, next time we might ask for half the meat and double veg. 

Make sure you are hungry because these sandwiches are a generous portion. This is such an amazing improvement over typical bahn mi or chain sandwich shops. It's worth every penny and then some.

Great service from really nice people. We love supporting local small business owners too.   

Check their schedule to see where you can catch your own modern version of this Vietnamese classic!

Favorite of the Week - Tyler at Plano Cycling

Tyler is our favorite guy this week. If your bike just doesn't feel right, if your ride is uncomfortable or if you're a cycling newbie, call Plano Cycling to schedule a bike fitting. In the long run, the investment will really save you a lot of time, expense and unhappiness.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back to School Immunization

Getting shots is probably the very last thing on every family's back to school to-do list. We put it off until the very last minute every time, don't we?

The past couple of years news coverage has highlighted parents standing with their children outside health department clinic sites in long lines. The thing is, there are only so many hours in a workday. Just because you might be standing in line before they open does not guarantee the clinic will have the capacity to see you that day. And make no mistake, schools will not allow children to attend without immunization paperwork in order.

The Dallas County Health Department is urging parents to bring their children in now. Plenty of other free or low cost options are available throughout the area. If you are in need of an exemption form, be aware that you cannot get those last minute.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Another Night at Nana

Every time we visit, we leave feeling that there's just little to dislike about Nana. From the moment you walk in the door, managers Mark and Cesar treat you with care, tending to your every need. From high atop the Anatole, Nana has arguably the best view in Dallas.

Our entrees were the highlight of this delicious dinner experience. The scallops were sweet and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The huge ribeye was cooked to juicy perfection, as always, and was served with the most heavenly bearnaise you've ever tasted. A side of seared asparagus was the perfect complement.

After dinner cocktails in the bar are a fun way to wrap up the perfect date night. With live music playing and amazing artwork on display, we can't imagine anything more romantic than enjoying that fabulous view with martinis in hand.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Poll: Favorite Cycling Saddles

What are your top picks for both men & women?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is Bigger Better? Nah.

NPD: Consumers want smaller portions | Nation's Restaurant News

We couldn't agree more. Nothing is more disgusting than sitting down to a sloppy mountain of food. Bigger is not always better, y'all.

We'd much rather enjoy just enough of a dish done well than take home a doggy bag of something so-so. Actually, we just had an interesting discussion with a food service owner recently about the fact that we'd be willing (and even prefer) to pay the same price for a moderate serving as we paid for a huge one. Finesse and visual appeal are so important in a dish that restraint has value.

Smaller portions please. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rowlett Area Top 5 Summer Family Fun Spots

This summer is really proving to be a scorcher and the relentless heat is enough to make us want to hide in the house all day. We've managed to persevere and have some fun with the kids in spite of the weather. Get out and play!

  1. Wet Zone  Although smaller than other water parks, Wet Zone is inexpensive and easy to access. We also love it that they allow us to bring in our snack cooler at no extra charge. Season passes make it easy to pop in anytime and stay just long enough to cool down. 
  2. Lakes of Springfield Park  This park offers a little something for everyone. Go for a walk or bicycle around the ponds, feed the ducks, bring fishing poles, enjoy the shaded woods, play ball, climb on the playground or enjoy a picnic in the pavilion. This park is complete with restroom facilities. There is plenty of shade to shelter you from the sun.
  3. Rowlett Creek Preserve   The RCP trails are great during the summer because of the extensive shade. Either hike or ride the trails and enjoy a picnic while you're there. 
  4. Rowlett Public Library  The library is the perfect combination of peace, quiet and air conditioning. They offer a variety of activities for all age groups but it's a great family trip too. Grab a new batch of books to feed your literary appetite and while you're there snag a video for family movie night at home.
  5. AMC Firewheel 18 No summer activity list would be complete without a movie theater. To get the best ticket prices, make sure to choose a showtime before noon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frisco's Top 10 Burger Spots

Most of the burger eating at our house actually happens in Frisco. It's not something we chow down on every day, or every week for that matter, but we do like a hassle-free, no nonsense, quick burger on occasion. So here it is, our current version of the ever changing Top 10 Burger Spot List. Check out the ones you've never tried & let us know what your top 10 are.

  1. II Brothers' Grill & Bar
  2. Gazeebo Burgers
  3. Whataburger 
  4. Smashburger
  5. Scotty P's Hamburgers
  6. The Main
  7. Kenny's Burger Joint
  8. Burger Girl
  10. The torta carne asada at Mariana's Taco Shop is our honorable mention as the best sandwich that eats like a burger.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Restaurant Week Strikes Again

Much to our dismay, KRLD Restaurant Week is rapidly approaching. We know, we know, "but it's for charity!" Charity or not, eating out during that time frame is a beat down for everyone involved.

So why is it so wildly popular if it's such a pain in the ass? Well, because it's cheap, that's why. If your pocketbook can't normally fund an evening out at a four or five star restaurant, the thought of snagging a $35, three course meal at one of these hot spots sounds pretty sweet. Reservations opened up yesterday & many locals have likely already booked their whole week long tour of the swankiest food diggs in Dallas.

That means that if you plan to visit one of the participating restaurants, you are likely to be packed in and rushed through. The first time we ever decided to give it a shot for charity's sake, we ended up at one of the area's best steak houses, crammed like sardines into the bar before being seated an hour past our reservation time. The waitstaff were horribly overworked, rushing around like tornadoes & sweating like pigs. We ordered our cocktails at the table since we couldn't actually make it up to the bar through all the people and watched as the kitchen cranked out plate after plate of the same prix-fixe food. It was just so uncomfortable that we left without eating and journeyed back over to enjoy steaks in peace in our neck of the woods.

Maybe simply getting a glimpse of "the good life" is worth it to you. If that's the case, then you'd better head on over to OpenTable quickly to book your reservations before they're all taken. The Couple Next Door will be enjoying dinner at home during Restaurant Week, saving our pennies up for another day. We prefer to savor a slow meal, choosing from the whole menu, in a relaxed, unhurried environment. That's what makes dinner joyous for us.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Old Casa Linda Theater Finds New Life as Natural Grocers

On our way to Richardson Bike Mart this weekend, we noticed interesting new signs of life at the old Casa Linda movie theater location. We were a little surprised to find a Natural Grocers in the space. They've done a great job of maintaining the integrity of the movie theater facade, honoring Casa Linda Plazahistory.

We don't generally do our shopping at "natural" grocery stores unless we are looking for a specialty item but we decided to go in and tour the store's selections for future reference. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a very scaled down version of Whole Foods Market. We checked pricing on Shot Bloks since they were in the energy bar section just inside the front door and found the price to be comparable to what we would expect to pay at a cycling shop.

They had some beautiful organic produce, but the section is small compared to many stores. We found the same to be true of their organic and specialty meat sections (some is frozen and some is refrigerated). If you've got a hankering for grass-fed beef or a nice lean ostrich or buffalo cut then this is the place to go.

Mom Next Door doesn't eat a lot in the way of wheat products lately so we were interested to check out the gluten/wheat-free bread and pasta selections. Their freezer section had a great selection of these breads and also cool items like sprouted breads. If you have not purchased these specialty breads before, expect them to carry a higher price tag than your run of the mill sandwich bread at any store. We noted a great selection of gluten-free products throughout the store.

This is also the place to go if you love great cultured foods and organic dairy. From yogurts to kefir to kombucha, they seem to have it all. Another very cool section in this store is the spices and seasonings aisle. We couldn't recall ever seeing coconut sugar before.

It appeared that the largest area of the store was devoted to nutritional supplements and natural body care products. That's not really something we get into on a daily basis so we did not peruse those shelves but, judging from the massive real estate it encompassed, we'd venture a guess that this store is likely to have most things you might want as far as that's concerned.

We like to become familiar with neighborhood stores like this so that we don't have to trek across the metroplex to pick up a specialty cut of meat or a unique spice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tour Becomes Crash Course

We sat down after dinner last night to watch our recording of the ninth stage of the Tour de France. It seems like we cross our fingers and hope for the best with even more frequency this year. The race has been plagued by multiple crashes, with serious injury to many top riders. The ninth stage was certainly no exception to the trend.

Alberto Contador managed to take a spill yet again in this stage. Although he didn't sustain any serious injury, the impact was to the very same knee he hit previously.

Another massive pileup sent some riders flying off the side of the road, down the hill and into the woods below. Alexandre Venokourov was among them. We watched anxiously as his teammates rushed to his side. His right leg hung helplessly at an awkward angle as he was carried out of the woods and up the hill to the street above. Initial speculation was that he might have fractured his pelvis. Team Astana reports that he is doing well after being transported to Paris via helicopter and undergoing surgery Sunday night to repair a broken femoral head. We are wishing him a speedy recovery.

Three other riders were forced out of the race in that same crash.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck left with a fractured shoulder, Frederik Willems with a fractured clavicle and David Zabriskie with a broken wrist.

As if that wasn't shocking enough, another unnecessary nightmare ensued. A television car riding along side Juan Antonio Fletcha and Johnny Hoogerland swerved to miss hitting a tree. Clearly the driver was not paying attention to the cyclists as he struck Fletcha, sending him crashing to the pavement and taking out Hoogerland as he tumbled town the tarmac. Hoogerland was vaulted, backside first, into a barbed wire fence.

After being bandaged by doctors and getting a new pair of cycling shorts, his others having been torn from his hindquarters, Hoogerland managed to complete the race. Not only did he cross the finish line, blood streaming down his legs, Hoogerland took the podium, in tears, to claim the polka dotted jersey. This King of the Mountains, and his 33 stitches, resumes the race in stage 10 after a well deserved rest day.

After a day of minding the road rash to his arm and leg and toughing out a bit of whiplash, Fletcha was also able to get back in the saddle for stage 10.

Hopefully tour organizers will take note of the tragedy and implement improved safety measures.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feed Me Seymour!

Nothing seems to say summer like bright, sunshine-yellow squash. For the first time ever, we're growing four of these glorious plants in our garden this year. Having no previous experience with them, we had absolutely no idea what to expect.

The most surprising thing for us has been the plants' formidable size and the fact that they seem to actually have teeth. Yep, they're huge and when you pick the fruit, it feels like they're knawing your arm off if you aren't careful. Ours are all named Audrey.

Our variety is a straightneck, rather than crookneck. The plants have also been quite prolific, producing a constant supply for our family over the past few months. The really cool thing about that has been that none of us have ever really been big squash eaters. We hate to ever waste any gift from our garden though, so we've been challenged to find lots of different ways to enjoy this new staple.

Tonight for dinner, we had barbecued chicken legs accompanied by our favorite summer squash recipe. This squash is super easy-peasy to make. It's delicious enough to enjoy alone, but it is also fantastic added to tender homemade pasta or even tucked inside a fluffy frittata.

  • Remove stem and blossom end from each squash
  • Slice in half lengthwise and then slice each half into thin wedges
  • Add chopped garlic, kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste
  • Either roast in 350 degree oven or on a grill until tender

Just like a bite of summer sunshine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Taste of Dallas

Mark your calendars, friends! The Taste of Dallas returns to Fair Park this weekend, July 8-10, for it's 25th anniversary.

Admission is $8 at the gate or $5 in advance, available at area Albertson's grocery stores. Either pay $12 to park at the fair grounds or take the DART Green Line right up to the entrance like we did last year. Proceeds benefit the American Heart Association.

Munchies are all $3 or less so go with a hungry tummy so you can sample plenty of offerings. Enjoy the best of Dallas area food, music, art, sports and more. This is a great family event!

D Magazine : Restaurant Review: Mignon

D Magazine : Restaurant Review: Mignon

We were so happy to see one of our local favorites getting some recognition. Make plans to go visit that lovely patio and, for a real treat, ask if Jaimie is available to serve you!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Le Tour de France

Get ready cycling fans, the big race is on from July 2nd through the 24th. The 3,430.5 kilometer (2,131.6 mile) race will be spread out over 21 stages, starting from Passage du Gois and ending in Paris at the Champs-Elysees.

We were excited to hear that one of our favorite restaurants is offering a signature cocktail in honor of the event. Watch the race at Mignon's bar or enjoy their fabulous waterside patio while sipping a Tour de France martini. This special martini is shaken with Dubonnet Rouge, Liqueur St. Germain, Cointreau and is topped with champagne. What else says 'France' better than that?!

We know, we know. All our mountain biking friends are rolling their eyes at this very moment. It's all good friends, enjoy a classic dirty martini, Get Dirty and get down with Le Velo. ;)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Neighborhood Watering Hole

You know what's missing here in Rowlett? A nice neighborhood pub with good food. We envision the sort of place that's close to home, modern but cozy inside, offering great classic drinks but also a few unique house specialties, with an assortment of small plates and dishes great for sharing. This would be our date night dream.

In the absence of our utopian hang out, we venture over to Houlihan's at Firewheel in Garland for a grown-up evening out a couple of times a month. We don't go until after happy hour is over and we sit in a booth rather than in the bar area. This location tends to be very busy so it's not uncommon to wait for a table for 10-15 minutes.

The decor is modern but warm and welcoming. The booths are cozy and offer a feeling of privacy. We happen to be extremely leisurely diners and the waitstaff are always respectful of our annoying habits. First things first - we never open a menu until we have a cocktail in hand. One of the reasons we enjoy Houlihan's is that their bartenders consistently serve up great martinis at good prices. Their cosmopolitans have the perfect balance of flavors, without being too sweet, and you always know it will taste that way each and every time.

The first section of their menu is devoted to appetizers and small plates. Very, very rarely do we ever venture beyond this realm. One of our favorite ways to dine on date night is to order an assortment of a few different small plates to share. You can never go wrong with Houlihan's flatbread. Mushroom and arugula flatbread to be exact. The soft, slightly smokey crust is just melt in your mouth delicious and the white truffle vinaigrette makes the dish complete. If you are a hummus fan, their white bean and artichoke hummus will knock your socks off. It's served with a grilled pita bread that has the same wonderful smokiness as the flatbread. The bruchetta is another tried and true favorite that adds some crunch to the mix. The cheese and tomato spread is assembed beautifully and is accompanied by chopped kalamata olives and an assortment of baby greens with a wonderful balsamic twang.

Aside from "stuff on bread," the calamari is a great choice. Theirs is unique in it's asian presentation and sesame-ginger dipping sauce. The stuffed mushrooms are nice but be aware that this is not a soft baked mushroom. Anticipate a lot of freshness. The chicken nachos are an option if you have a big appetite because it's a very generous portion. The chipotle chicken adds a little something special and the chips aren't drowning in toppings which is great.

We are not generally dessert eaters so that portion of the menu is foreign to us as well. Who needs dessert when you can have a tasty martini instead?

Even though it's not exactly the neighborhood place we've created in our dreams, Houlihan's meets our date night requirements just fine. It's one of the few places relatively close to home that inexpensively offers an assortment of small plates, good quality drinks and consistency in a cozy modern environment.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lunch at Alejandro's

We spent a relaxing summer vacation day doing a little shopping in Rockwall and managed to work up quite an appetite. On the way home, we decided to stop in at Alejandro's Grill & Cantina.

The lunch special prices are amazingly affordable - not much more than a fast food meal. We decided to try an order of shredded beef tacos with flour tortillas and an order of pork tacos in corn tortillas. Given the price, we didn't expect much but both orders came with yummy refried beans, rice, a cilantro and onion blend, and an amazing spicy salsa. The juiciness of the tender, slow-cooked meats was the most wonderful lunchtime surprise we've experienced in quite some time. Both types of tortillas were tender and flavorful but they also held up to the oozing goodness of juices and salsa.

After experiencing good margaritas and great taco lunches, we pondered how surprised we were that only a few other customers were dining in the restaurant. Lunches this good, at prices this affordable, should be attracting a killer lunch crowd. Our only explanation is location. It's a little out of the way for us and we are usually only in the vicinity on our way to do some occasional shopping in Rockwall. After this visit though, we're definitely willing to go a little out of the way to check out Alejandro's dinner menu.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


It's summertime in Texas & we've got some great reviews coming up. Grab a cold drink or your favorite cuppa & pull up a chair.

Feel free to feed the fish while you wait for more!