Showing posts with label spinach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spinach. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Leon's Mexican Restaurant

Did you know Leon's Mexican Restaurant was a Rachael Ray's $40 a Day stop in Saratoga Springs? That's right, home of the Burro Ranchero with Rachael's seal of approval. I am obsessed with anything Food Network-related and religiously watched $40 a Day back in its early years. I couldn't believe that J had a special connection to the restaurant when we were first dating. Turns out Leon's was an extended family affair. Consider this our official disclaimer. Yes we are greeted by familiar faces when we walk through the door but having had my share of Mexican food around the Capital Region and San Diego, this is truly a gem that has gotten better within the past few years, even months. 

A change in decor and atmosphere in addition to changes in plating and presentation has improved the overall experience at Leon's. The restaurant has started using seasonal and fresh ingredients, which makes a huge difference in taste. On a recent visit J and I were quite impressed by said recent changes.  A new paint job and open seating with brighter lights made the dining room much more inviting. If you opt for bar seating, Uncle Jimbo the weekend bartender, will gladly make you a killer house margarita. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

La Empanada Llama

We can officially add Peruvian cooking to our list of favorite ethnic eats. Just last week I got I got a chicken empanada from La Empanada Llama lunch stand at the Empire State Plaza. That empanada was so memorable that I had to track down the restaurant and share my find with J. 

I remember reading about the new La Empanada Llama storefront located in the Crestwood Plaza in Albany (same plaza as Spinner's Pizza) and can't believe I didn't make it a point to stop by earlier. J and I got to the place a little before closing time and and the restaurant was sadly empty except for the life size stuffed llamas. We decided to order a small feast to go which seems to be the norm vs. dine-in. 

Since empanadas are the specialty, we ordered one of each kind: beef, chicken, chorizo, and spinach and cheese. For little hand pies, these puppies were packed with flavor. The dough is light and flaky yet not too greasy from being fried. J's a "meatatarian" and the spinach and cheese was his favorite.  My favorite was the chorizo and cabbage empanada, which was different from the bright red and spicy Mexican chorizo that I'm normally use to. I was taken aback by the bites of raisins in the beef empanada but the sweetness worked so well with the spiced beef, corn and rice filling. As for the chicken, I can see why it's a Farmer's Market bestseller. It's cooked in a traditionally aji amarillo sauce, a Peruvian yellow chilli pepper, that is midly spicy but not as sharp as jalapenos. It's a good starter empanada, even for my co-worker who normally isn't adventurous and she loved her first time trying something new. Needless to say, not one bite of any of these empanadas was disappointing. It was a good balance of flavorful filling to crust. What we discovered is that there's so much more to La Empanada Llama than its signature empanadas.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hulk Smash

I get made fun of at work for drinking this glowing green smoothie but it's so delicious! Green smoothies are my way of getting the fruits and veggies in that my body needs in order to balance out all the sugar and bacon food groups that I consume. You can't even taste the spinach with all the fruit and juice blended in. Some people substitute or add kale, but I think spinach is the most neutral tasting green for smoothies. 

My go to green smoothie consists of a blend of a handful of fresh spinach, frozen mangoes, greek yogurt, and Trader Joe's Green Plant Juice, which contains broccoli, spinach, barley grass, chlorella, and spirulina. Looks like pond scum but you mostly taste the fruit in the juice which also contains apple, peach, pineapple, banana and mango. 

For good measure, I add a tablespoon of chia seeds, also  from Trader Joe's. Told you I had an obsession with TJ's. Apparently it's the same kind of chia seeds used for chia pets...cha cha cha chia! But a lil goes a long way; a single tablespoon gets you 6g of fiber, 3g of protein, and 2.9g of Omega-3 fatty acids. That to me sounds healthy and it adds a great texture to smoothies. Chia seeds makes your drink thicker too. When you soak chia seeds, they turn into a very space-age like gel.  Some other great add-ins for these green smoothies are bananas or blueberries. Any fruit really! Go ahead, try a green smoothie! Promise you won't turn into the Hulk. -R