Monthly Archives: June 2010

Z’Tejas–Mouth Watering Appetizers

The sun has finally come out in Salt Lake City, and there is only one thing I really love to do on my lunch break: walk from my hotel down to the outdoor Gateway Mall and try to forget that I am in the middle of a workday. Some very important things came together today: 1) it was payday! 2) the sun was out and it was beautiful! and 3) I was craving appetizers!

I walked to Salt Lake’s wonderful outdoor mall with my friend, Kim, from work. The patio at Z’Tejas looked mighty fine, so we decided that was the place to be. We weren’t looking for anything heavy. What we really wanted was a couple of Z’Tejas’ famous margaritas; but alas, we had to go back to work. After looking over their wonderful and varied appetizer menu, we decided on two selections: The Tejas Trio and the Grilled Shrimp and Guacamole Tostada Bites.

Before you get your menu items delivered to your table, you are given a fresh helping of Z’Tejas’ amazing corn bread. I had a good friend whose husband was a chef for Z’Tejas and told me once that they get the cornbread so incredibly moist by using yogurt! Who would have thought? Now, I am not the biggest fan of cornbread in general. Mostly, I find it to be dry and not very flavorful. However, this corn bread is not only as moist as cake, but it also tastes delicious. Top it off with some of the whipped butter, and you are all set!

After the Cornbread, the Tejas Trio came out first. This is one of my favorite things to order ever. It has all of the good stuff: fresh delicious salsa (that isn’t too hot or too mild), homemade guacamole (not of the prepackaged or neon green variety) and the most amazing queso cheese dip! This menu item always makes me a happy girl.

Every time I order the Shrimp Bites, I am impressed with the presentation. They grill fresh gulf shrimp which is then put on top of a toasted seasoned mini tostada which is loaded with more guacamole. The entire “bite” is topped off with some perfect hot sauce and the plate is the adorned with some freshly shredded veggies (these are also delicious).

This lunch was perfect for a wonderfully warm day in the city. If you just need a quick stop off for a small bite to eat, I highly recommend the patio at Z’Tejas. And the price was just right as well–split right down the middle between two people, this appetizer heaven only cost us about $12 each. However, try to go when you can actually have one of their amazing margaritas!

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A Fresh Summer Meal

After arriving home from work a few days ago a good friend called and wanted to get together and cook. This happens to me quite a bit and I am always excited to cook something new (or something I know and love) for a friend or family member. I didn’t have much time, so going to the market before cooking time wasn’t possible. I quickly looked through my fridge and cabinets to see what I could come up with. What I came up with was easy and delicious!

First, I had some organic, free range, chicken breasts that I marinated in lemon juice and garlic. I have recently found this amazing new seasoning that I would highly recommend, California Lemon Peel, that I also used in the marinade.

I only had about an hour and a half to marinate, so I made sure that I tenderized the chicken first.

While the chicken was absorbing all that yummy lemon flavor, I started cutting the vegetables that would construct my sauce: fresh zucchini, roma tomatoes, and asparagus. After slicing and dicing, I combined the veggies in a bowl with more lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, onion and garlic powder, lemon peel seasoning, and a pinch of dried dill. I then let the veggies sit in the mixture for about 45 minutes before cooking them. This allows them to devour all of the seasonings and become a bit soft before cooking.

Once my guest arrived with the wine, I started putting everything on heat. I have this really amazing indoor/outdoor George Foreman grill (yes, it is a “girl” grill) that I used to cook the chicken and then I simmered the veggies over medium to low heat for about 30 minutes. After the veggies got soft, I kept them on the lowest heat until the chicken was done. Cooking the veggies this long gives them more of a “sauce” like quality, as well as texture. I also boiled some whole wheat linguine.

Once the chicken was done, the linguine went on the plate, followed by a large helping of the simmered vegetables, the chicken, and then a sprinkle of all natural parmesan cheese. And just because I love anything with lemon, I squeezed a bit more fresh lemon juice on top. A simple, easy, light, and delicious summertime recipe!

I also had some of the more “masculine” wine I have had in a while. My friend, Josh, brought a local Outlaw Red (that is right, we have a “local” winery in Moab, Utah) and also this Chardonnay that I had never seen before: Gnarly Head. Of course a man picked these out! So amazing. I will say this–Gnarly Head Chardonnay is delicious; very crisp and not as wood flavored as some other heavier Chardonnays I have had. It has light buttery overtones, but nothing that was overbearing. This is a great summer wine and went perfectly with the chicken. I highly recommend you pick up this reasonably priced bottle the next time you are looking for a good Chardonnay. Be aware, however, this is a heavier wine than your run of the mill Pinot Gringo or Riesling. It is in true form, a Chardonnay–just a really delicious one!

Smash Burger: A Colorful Smashing Success

It is rare that I eat a hamburger. Maybe, once every six months, I get a really intense craving for the melty cheese, the crisp lettuce, and yes, the salty taste of dead cow. Oh, and the mayonnaise. The delicious mayonnaise. This week, my mom and I had lunch plans and I was having exactly one of those days–by 10:00 AM, all I could think about was a delicious hamburger, accompanied with salted french fries and of course, Utah’s favorite, creamy fry sauce. My mom had recommended Smash Burger a few weeks back, and frankly I blew the recommendation off because, really, I knew that a hamburger wasn’t in my near future. This particular day, however, I had spent the night before cooking with dear friend and drinking wine (review soon to come), and felt a little–how can I say this delicately–suffered by the wrath of grapes. And what more could a girl ask for, then to try a new hamburger joint with Mom? (Thanks Mom).

Smash Burger is a chain that has recently bloomed here in Utah. On this particular occasion we ate at the closest location to Downtown which happens to be in the heart of Sugarhouse. Upon entering the establishment, I noticed right away that we were probably close to the only females in the joint. Don’t let that detour you though–the atmosphere is very modern and not at all distinctively masculine. In fact, from the aesthetic appeal of the atmosphere only, it might be difficult to decipher exactly what kind of food they serve. I liked this. I liked this a lot.

My mom told me what to order, as she had been there before. And, I am not one to argue with my mom when it comes to food. She usually gets it right. “Ok, Chelsea, you need to order the American Burger, a side of Smash Fries, and you REALLY need the Haystack Onions to put ON your burger.” Done. Mom ordered the “Smashwedge Salad” and of course, we got two sodas to boot. I will say, that I couldn’t find the lids for my Diet Coke, and that made me feel a little stupid. Was it my hazy head? Nah, they were hidden. The old man next to me couldn’t find them either. (Whew).

The food came out and it was beautiful…really, surprisingly pleasing to the eye. Yellows, greens, reds, and delicious textures and smells. Smash Burger touts that their burgers are cooked over a ridiculous amount of heat. Pressing on them as they cook very quickly locks in the juices, according to some customers I spoke with. I was skeptical. How would pressing on something “hold in” juices? Well, let me tell you–whatever they do–works. The basic American Burger (beef patty, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, on a hamburger bun), couldn’t have tasted better. The fries were just how I like them: thinly sliced, lightly seasoned, and hot. The haystack onions were light and barley tasted battered. Those suckers went on my burger and added a lot more flavor. In addition, dipping them in Smash Burger’s tangy twist on “fry sauce” was delightful. If you like horseradish, ketchup, and mayo, then this fry sauce is for you. For my mom, who despises horseradish, she can stick with regular ketchup. No problem there–they have regular mustard and ketchup on every table. The Smashwedge Salad looked amazing. So much going on: blue cheese, bacon, onions, all on top of a crisp light green head of iceburg lettuce. Holy refreshing–and yet, intensely hard core at the same time. You might not eat it all, but what you get through will make you smile. And all you vegetarians out there, don’t pass up Smash Burger as just a meaty burger dining establishment–they have a veggie burger that looks mouthwatering.

The burger went down easy and didn’t make me feel gross. This, my dear readers, is a big deal. Being a *mostly* organic eater, I take a big risk of eating fast food or anything on the more “processed” side because I don’t really feel so great for long periods of time after (thinking of the pizza I had a few weeks ago…). Let’s just say, I felt great. The meal was delicious and filling–but not too filling. It was also very fresh and I felt as though the ingredients used were of good quality and made specifically for me. They were decidedly NOT sitting under any kind of heat lamp, that is for sure.

Next time you get that craving–the one that you can’t kick for a few weeks–just hit up the burger of the Smash variety. You won’t regret it. Oh, and call me to come with you; I am craving a juicy burger right this very minute.