Restaurant Review(s) – SNOB & Mi Xao

This has been a very eventful week when it comes to – my favorite thing – FOOD! Therefore, you can say it’s been a great week. To make things even better, work has continued to be busy making the days fly by. And not the “oh my gosh I’m so stressed I can’t even breath” kind of busy, but the good kind of busy. A couple Sugar Free Red Bulls may have helped too.

Let’s get back to my first thought though – the food!

Greg’s aunt was in town and invited us to dinner at S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad), which is a very well-known restaurant in Charleston. I had somehow never been there before and was so excited to finally check it off my Charleston restaurant bucket list.

We started with some appetizers to share – a delicious fruit and cheese plate and chilled shrimp. We were also given a bread basket for the table with both cornbread and a traditional white baguette.

When it came to my entree, I kept things simple with the Vegetable Plate.

snob veggies1
While this can seem like a boring choice, it was not boring in variety or flavor. My plate was filled with steamed spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, lima beans, green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, a few cuts of cheese, and a small scoop of grits. It could not have been more perfect. 
I had asked the waitress how the dish was prepared, because I wanted to avoid having a plate of super oily veggies. She told me some were steamed and others were sauteed in chicken broth. I loved that idea! I can’t be the only one that has never thought of that, right?? I’m so excited to implement that new-to-me cooking method. 
Slightly North of Broad on Urbanspoon
I finally made it to Mi Xao this week as well, thanks to Christina’s recommendations. It is a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant in Mount Pleasant with the cutest little dining area. 
Greg and I split an order of the spring rolls, which was a great decision. They were awesome on their own, but also came with the best little citrusy dipping sauce ever. Greg had a traditional chicken stir fry with brown rice as his main dish. I had the Tom Yum Kung Pho. Christina has raved about this pho and I knew I had to have it too.
photo 4
The menu describes this bowl of noodle soup as having: Shrimp, rice vermicelli, lime, chicken broth, cilantro and green onion. Oh my goodness, it was just as good as Christina made it out to be! It was one GIANT bowl, that’s pho-sho 😉 I probably didn’t even finish a third of it. The menu says it’s spicy and they’re not kidding. But as long as you like spicy, you will be happy. I can’t wait to finish it off for lunch tomorrow! 
Mi Xao on Urbanspoon

The Calm Before the Storm

Ah! We are two days away from the big day. I just have to get through this one last day of work and then I basically have another weekend. I do have to work Friday, but I’m sure it will be extremely quiet in the office and then after that, I get a whole new weekend again!

With a couple days of cooking madness and overeating in my very near future, I wanted to keep it light and simple last night. The calm before the storm, if you will. Will you? Ok, great!

I picked up a frozen meal from TJ’s last week and thought it would be the perfect night to try it out.

I really don’t shop at Trader Joe’s too much, but I am well aware of the hype. And the items that I have had from there have been pretty good. To be honest though, I have heard plenty of “so-so” reviews as well. But you never know for sure until you try and this looked promising enough.

The Low-Fat Chicken Chow Mein went way above my expectations. It couldn’t have been easier (or faster) to make and had a great blend of flavors. I would have liked a little more chicken, but I have seen worse when it comes to frozen meals. 
The bag indicated it makes three servings, and with a nice healthy serving of sauteed asparagus on the side, the entire package was the perfect amount to fill up both Greg and me. Another plus: Only 210 calories per serving. Obviously if you do the math, Greg+me=2, not 3. But even splitting the “third serving” among the two of us puts it at just over 300 cals each. Not bad. 
For about $2 per person, this frozen entree is a deal. I will buy this again and again.
Think my family will mind if I sub the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole for some Chicken Chow Mein on Thursday? Yeah, I didn’t think so either 😉

Dragon Palace and Sudden Changes

Last night Greg and I went to dinner at Dragon Palace right by our condo on Daniel Island.

Dragon Palace on Urbanspoon
We had a Groupon, so a mid-week date night was perfectly justified.
Our waiter brought us some crispy tortilla-like chips with some sort of sweet and sour sauce (maybe duck sauce??) before we even ordered.
This was a pleasant little surprise to start the meal, but the chips were not anything special at all. Very bland.
We ordered the Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls for an appetizer.
These were good and the fried-ness factor was a nice little splurge for me, because I chose an extra healthy entree.
The Cashew Chicken and Sesame Chicken dishes definitely caught my eye, but I had surprisingly more self-control than I normally do when it comes to Asian food. With my (somewhat) recent commitment to keep a more balanced diet, I went with a meal I knew I wouldn’t regret. 
Buddha’s Feast is a plateful of mixed vegetables including broccoli, carrots, green beans, water chestnuts, mushrooms, baby corn and snap peas, cooked in soy sauce…I think that’s what it was anyway. This plate comes with your choice of white, brown, or fried rice. I had the brown rice. The vegetables were cooked perfectly and the amount of variety made it more than satisfying.

Greg had General Tso’s Chicken that came with broccoli, peppers and pineapple! Mmmm! He got fried rice served with this. 
Both meals were more than enough for us, as expected when it comes to Asian restaurants. 
After wrapping up our leftovers to take home, our waiter surprised us AGAIN with small cups of tea and fortune cookies for dessert! 

How cute! Right?
I remember learning about this in my tourism and marketing classes in school – how giving the customer something extra and unexpected adds satisfaction to the overall experience. Dragon Palace gets this concept spot on. Well, almost. Vamping up the chip recipe wouldn’t hurt 😉
My fortune told me to expect a sudden change in plans that will bring happiness. I don’t like it when my plans change too much, so I really hope the happiness thing is true. I’ll let you know if any big changes come my way!
Have a great Thursday! ONE WEEK UNTIL THANKSGIVING!!!! Who’s excited?!

Healthy Asian Stir-Fry

I always forget about Asian food. Whenever I am trying to come up with what to make for dinner, it rarely enters my head as a possibility. I mean, the only thing I can really make that can be classified as Asian is stir-fry. But there are 275309485 different combinations and ways to make stir-fry. Yes, I counted them all. Each of these ways can taste completely different depending on the ingredients you use.

I had some newly-purchased brussel sprouts in the fridge and was thinking of what I would do with them. Then I realized I actually had a variety of fresh veggies that needed to be used. Onions. Broccoli. Carrots.

Perfect for stir-fry! My dear Asian food, I will not neglect you any longer!

I cut some chicken breasts into chunks to add to the mix as well. I topped it off with a thickened soy sauce and served on top of brown rice.
Everything about this dish- the veggies, chicken and rice- is healthy. Full of fiber, protein and vitamins. From a lot of health magazine reading that I do, I have learned one trick to be sure you are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals is to look at the colors on your plate. Too much brown and white…not so good. Wide variety of bright colors…muuuuch better. 
It just so happened that a lot of the vegetables I had on hand were green. Ideally, I would have liked some red bell pepper or yellow squash for even more color, but the greens were deeee-LISH! 
This was my first time making anything with brussel sprouts and I loved them. I can’t explain it, but the texture just hits the spot for me.

I finished this entire plate-full and was perfectly satisfied….for about ten minutes. But not because I wasn’t full, I just needed dessert!
Like this…
Then I was satisfied. 
Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
Makes 3-4 servings
1 1/2 cups dry brown rice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 pound chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 of a medium onion, sliced (I used yellow, but any type will do)
1 cup fresh broccoli florets 
8 brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
3-4 carrots, sliced
1/3 cup water
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Cook rice according to package directions.
2. Prepare the sauce by stirring cornstarch and soy sauce in a small bowl. Set aside. 
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
4. Once heated, add the chicken breast pieces and cook until almost done, about 4-5 minutes.
5. Add vegetable mixture and water to the skillet. Stir ingredients well and cover for about 3 minutes.
6. Remove lid, add sauce and stir. Continue to cook for another 7-8 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
7. Serve meat and vegetables over rice.
Note: All meat and vegetables can easily be substituted with whatever you have on hand. Even frozen vegetables will do. 
Other recommended ingredients:
-Black beans
-Water chestnuts
-Bell pepper