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Friday, August 29, 2008

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA

Wow......you have got to see this University to believe it. It is huge and beautiful. I mean really big and really beautiful. The place is so big you can get lost. It is a small city unto itself. We ventured through campus like we were students. We went to the campus center and bought drinks and then sat in the main square and enjoyed the sights. The fact that we were wearing Hawaii shirts and hats didn't bother anyone. The football stadium "Swamp" is located right on campus. There is no parking lot. How they get 90,000 people in the place is amazing. We went to the stadium today. It looks like an office building from the outside. There is a small museum that leads to the ultra plush football offices. We got to see Tim Tebow's Heismann Trophy and the 2006 National Champion Trophy along with lots of pictures and other trophy's that Florida has won. This is a big time sports university with a great history. The fans here are not as fanatical as Alabama. I expected parties and tailgateing on Thursday and Friday like Alabama. Not here. There is very little happening. Last night was a dud and so was today. I brought the family because I thought it would be like the Alabama experience. Hopefully things will pick up tonight. It is difficult to know where to go in this town and the place is spread out. In Alabama you have two or three places where everyone goes to party. There will be a University of Hawaii party tonight at our hotel. Lots of old boosters wearing green shirts. My goodness I am one of them.

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

























WAFFLE HOUSE




WAFFLE HOUSE
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA

I have eaten at the Waffle House (Awful Waffle) many times in Atlanta and during our trip to Alabama. Normally around 1:00 in the morning after drinking. This time I took the family for breakfast so they could experience the Waffle for themselves. Waffle House's are all over the South. They are an institution. Small diners where you sit at the counter or booths that are on the cooking line. How to maintain my diet here would be tough. Waffles, eggs with cheese, hashbrowns, steak and hamburger dominate the breakfast menu. While my family went for the chocolate waffles and breakfast burritos, I enjoyed egg whites served with tomatos and one slice of wheat toast. This was really good for $3.00. My girls loved the waffles and burritos too. Everyone must try the Waffle House once in their lives.

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL




CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL
Gainesville, Florida
We don't have Chipotle Mexican Grill in Hawaii so I really wanted to try this place. We passed a Chipotle directly across from the University of Florida twice on this trip. Both times the lines were so long we decided not to go in. As we were driving back to our hotel we saw that there was another Chipotle right near our hotel. We ventured in and there was a very short line. The menu is very simple. You choose either a burrito, fajita burrito, burrito bowl, tacos or salad with chicken, steak, carnitas, barbacoa or vegetarian fillings. Then you go down the line and add whatever topping and salsa you like. Every dish is around $6.00. We ordered soft tacos with chicken, barbacoa and steak. I topped mine with hot salsa, lettuce and just a tiny bit of cheese. My wife went for the quacamole and lots of cheese. The barbacoa is a spicy shredded naturally raised beef braised in chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregeno. The steak taco uses a cubed beef that is marinated for hours in chipotle adobo and then grilled. The chicken tacos are naturally raised, vegetarian fed chicken that is marinated in chipotle pepper, adobo and then grilled. All of the tacos were great. You get three tacos per order and can mix or match them. There were alot of burritos being served. They are huge. By the time we got through the short line dozen of people including the University of Pacific Volleyball team were all waiting in line. This place rocks. It is only a matter of time before you see the Chipotle Grill in your neigborhood and hopefully Hawaii.

UPDATE 5/4/14

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL
3201 ST. PAUL STREET
BALTIMORE, MD  21218
410-662-1701
Note:  There are no Chipotle's in Hawaii

Finally made it back to Chipotle after many years.  I did a blog on Chipotle way back and did not even have pictures.  That blog has received tons of hits and may be in the top ten of all time on my blog hits.  This time I snapped some photos.  Chipotle is a super successful chain that has a cult like following.  Their stock has been on fire for years and now is around $500 per share.  Hard to believe this when you enter one of their stores.  It is pretty simple stuff with basic tacos, burritos and bowls.  Not many selections but all top quality ingredients and fresh.  They can rock out a custom burrito for you in seconds so it is FAST AND FRESH!  I went with a Steak Burrito ($6.84).  Once you order the meat, you can add beans and rice.  After that the guy slides your burrito over to another person who adds sides like salsa, guacamole, sour creme, lettuce and cheese.  I threw it all in along with the "hot" sauce.  The burrito was heavy and rolled into almost a ball.  I added Chips n' Salsa to my meal for $2.13.  A small drink set me back $1.66.  So all in this lunch was around $11.  The burrito was FANTASTIC.  I could only finish half during our visit but took the other half back to the hotel and enjoyed it later that evening.  Every ingredient in the burrito can be tasted because it is fresh.  There are no Chipotle's in Hawaii but boy I wish there was!

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL 
PRETTY BASIC AND CLEAN DINING AREA
ORDER - PICK UP AND PAY AT THE COUNTER
CHOOSE FROM STEAK, CHICKEN OR CARNITAS AND ADD BEANS/RICE IF YOU LIKE
CHOOSE TOPPINGS - SALSA, CORN, SOUR CREME, CHEESE, GUACAMOLE, LETTUCE, CILANTRO
SIDE ORDER OF CHIPS N' SALSA.  THERE ARE MORE CHIPS IN THE BAG 
CHIPOTLE BURRITO
LARGE BURRITO THAT HAS SOME SERIOUS WEIGHT TO IT
STEAK, BEANS, RICE, CORN, HOT SALSA, LETTUCE, CHEESE AND CILANTRO IN THIS BABY

OLIVE GARDEN

OLIVE GARDEN
Gainesville, Florida

After seeing the commercials for Olive Garden for years on television we decided to try the place since it was right across the street from our hotel. We were quickly seated and greeted by a waiter that was excellent. Probably one of the best waiters we have had on a road trip or anywhere else. The Olive Garden menu is filled with soups, salads, pastas, chicken, beef and fish dishes. There is alot to choose from. My selection was made easy because the menu includes several dishes that are marked "Garden Fare". This indicates that the dish is low fat. All of the meals come with all you can eat salad and bread. The salad was actually really good. Fresh lettuce, roma tomatos, onion and olives topped lightly with Italian dressing. We shared a Caprise Flatbread appetizer ($6.35). Tomatos, garlic, basil and mozzarella cheese on flatbread crust. This dish looked like crap on the table but tasted fantastic. They put way too much cheese over the dish and then didn't melt it all the way. This turned out to be o.k. because it allowed me to pull off all of the cheese making the dish less fat. I ordered a dish from the Garden Fare menu. It was Shrimp Primavera ($14.25). Shrimp, bell peppers, onions and mushrooms in a bold arrabbiata sauce over Penne Pasta. This dish was also presented poorly and covered with too much sauce. The flavor however was good. The shrimp were small and most tasteless but the onions, peppers, mushrooms and sauce were good. I could only eat about 1/3 of the plate. The serving is big enough for two. My wife tried the Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto ($14.95). Large sauteed shrimp served over creamy parmesan risotto with asparagus. This dish was a soupy mess. Way to much liquid on the plate and not too good. My daughter ordered Chicken and Broccoli served over Angel Hair Pasta. They forgot to put the chicken in the dish. Dinner at the Olive Garden was not great but I would try it again.

SONNY'S REAL PIT BAR-B-Q


SONNY'S REAL PIT BAR-B-Q

Somewhere between Orlando and Gainesville, FL.

Traveling down the Interstate from Orlando to Gainesville we decided to stop for some BBQ at Sonny's. We had seen Sonny's featured on the Food Network and it looked great. We arrived and were greated with a big hello from the staff. As we were seated, I could not help but notice that most of the patrons were big. I mean 200 pounds plus or more. People were eating like crazy. After looking through the menu I had to make a decision to stay with my diet or bust out and go for the grease and fat. I went with the fat in moderation and ordered the Bar--B-Q Pulled Pork Plate ($9.59). It is served with two side dishes and corn bread or garlic bread. I chose the Corn on the Cob and Cole Slaw sides. My wife and daughter split combination of pork done three ways - Pulled Pork, Sliced Pork and Sonny's slow-smoked Sweet and Smokey Ribs ($11.99 . The Pulled Pork was a little dry as was the Sliced Pork and Ribs. I added alot of BBQ Sauce to the Pulled Pork to give it some flavor. It was just o.k. The ribs were so dry that we didn't eat them. The corn and cole slaw were good. My girls had green beans and macaroni and cheese as side dishes. They were not impressed. While the food here was disappointing, the service was excellent. Judging by the way people were eating around us I am confident that Sonny's does a great job with the BBQ. Perhaps it was our choice of pork. Next time we will try the beef dishes. To stay with my diet, I only ate about 1/3 of the meat on my plate. This was enough for me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

FLORIDA GATORS VS HAWAII

FLORIDA GATORS VS HAWAII WARRIORS
Saturday, August 30, 2008

We are off to Gainesville, Florida to see Hawaii play Florida in the "Swamp". Stay tuned for photos and updates.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY - HALEKULANI HOTEL


HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY

HALEKULANI HOTEL

On a warm sunny Hawaiian Sunday we decided to celebrate the Little League World Series victory over Mexico. The underdog kids from Waipahu, Hawaii are now World Champs. We ventured into Waikiki in search of an outdoor spot where we could enjoy the great weather and ocean view. After a nice walk we ended up at an old favorite where Shirley actually used to work at. The House without a Key at the Halekulani Hotel. The Halekulani is one of the nicest and most expensive hotels in Hawaii. It is located right on the beach. There are three restaurants here. The Five Star La Mer and the beautiful Orchids are the nicest. The House without a Key is a casual indoor/outdoor place where you can enjoy a cocktail, beautiful sunsets and one of the most famous hula shows in Hawaii. I like this place because it is casual and comfortable. The lunch menu includes appetizers, main course salads, sandwiches and entree's that include steak, fish, pasta and chicken. We started with the Spiced Island Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho ($9). Diced tomato, cucumber and onion in a tomato type sauce. Served chilled and topped with a grilled shrimp and tomato. It was good but a bit greasy. Our daughter enjoyed Pasta with Meat Sauce. She loved it and almost finished it all. My wife tried the Portobello Mushroom Club Sandwich ($16). The mushroom is marinated in Oregano and Garlic and served with roasted red peppers, provolone cheese and arugula on focaccia bread. It was served with a small salad and tomato and cucumber slices. The wife liked it. I enjoyed the Grilled Ahi Sandwich ($22.50). The Ahi is served on a brioche bun and topped with vine ripened tomatoes, asian slaw and wasabi Aioli. I asked for the Aioli on the side but the waiter failed to listen to this request. This fish was cooked perfectly medium rare and was delicious. The bun was a little greasy so I didn't eat half of it. The dish came with a small salad with minimal dressing. This was good. The House without a Key is a great place to enjoy a cocktail and afternoon sunset. The prices are pretty high for lunch or dinner.
Clink link below for another post on House without a Key:

ZATARAIN'S RICE DISHES


ZATARAIN'S RICE DISHES

ZERO FAT

We are always looking for tasty and fat free side dishes. Now that Zatarain's has come out with Reduced Sodium versions of their most popular rice dishes we can enjoy these more often. We enjoy the Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, Dirty Rice and Black Beans and Rice with chicken, fish and steak entrees. The rice is easy to make. Add water, boil and simmer. Comes out perfect every time.


LOW FAT STEAK DINNER WITH BISON


LOW FAT STEAK DINNER WITH BISON

Family BBQ on the Deck

Our family loves steak. Prior to going on the diet, we would enjoy nice beef filets topped with butter. Since those days are gone, we have added grass fed Bison steaks to the BBQ menu. Last night we enjoyed a Bison New York Steak cooked up on the grille. Bison cooks in about half the time of beef so you really need to watch it while cooking. The key is to not overcook the meat. If you overcook bison it gets quite tough and can taste like liver. Cooked perfectly medium rare is the way to go. I season the steaks with salt, pepper and garlic powder and then spray them with Pam Butter cooking spray (zero fat). This New York Bison steak was juicy and delicious. At about 10 grams of fat it is perfect for the diet. We served the Bison with Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice (Reduced Sodium Package) which has zero fat. Add fresh carrots, broccoli, zuccini and bell peppers cooked in Pam Cooking Spray and garlic. The entire meal has 10 grams of fat! This is a great meal and well below my goal of 15 grams of fat per meal.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

GENKI SUSHI

















GENKI SUSHI
HONOLULU, HI

One of my daughter's favorite places to eat is Genki Sushi. There are several in Honolulu. We normally go to the one on Kapahulu Avenue. Today we tried the Genki at Ward Centre. The Ward location is big and bright. The sushi comes around on a conveyor belt and you grab whatever looks good. I normally stick to the Ahi (tuna) and Ebi (shrimp) right now because of my diet. Our daughter loves the Tobikko (fish eggs) and California Rolls. One thing good about Genki is the price. You can enjoy sushi starting at $1.50. We tried the Garlic Ahi and it was good. My wife loves the Spicy Ahi too. The Unagi (Eel) is delicious for $3.00. My only complaint is that many of the items are soaked or topped with mayo. Genki also serves a lot of fried items such as Garlic Shrimp, Seafood Egg Roll, Tempura Shrimp and Vegetable Croguette and Fried Calamari. I stay away from these items but they look good. If you are looking for quick (provided there is no line) and affordable sushi Genki Sushi is a good bet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CAFE O'LEI - THE DUNES AT MAUI LANI


CAFE O'LEI

THE DUNES AT MAUI LANI

Located on the 18th hole of the Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course in Kahului, Maui, Cafe O'lei is a hidden gem. If a friend hadn't recommend we eat there I would have never found this great spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We arrived for lunch and the receptionist quickly seated us on the outside lanai overlooking a small pond on the 18th hole. The view was excellent. Service was also great as the host-waiter was professional, courteous and fast. My guests enjoyed the daily special plate lunch. At $6.95 it is a bargain. The waiter said that the special changes everyday. This day it was grilled chicken breast with fresh vegetables served with fried rice and a ceasar salad. Both of my guests loved the food. I enjoyed a fresh seared ahi salad. A perfect piece of fresh ahi tuna seared rare and served on a huge bed of fresh greens and vegetables. The salad was covered with fried noodles which I pushed to the side. At $13.95 it was a bit expensive but worth it. I cannot wait to return to Cafe O'Lei to try some of the other dishes. The restaurant was very busy during lunch and everything coming out of the kitchen looked great. I really wanted to try the fresh lettuce wraps that were being served to the table next to us. The crowd was part local and part tourist. From people drinking beer and champagne to business lunch people like us.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

RUM FIRE AT THE SHERATON WAIKIKI


RUM FIRE
SHERATON WAIKIKI

I don't venture out much but when I do the Rum Fire Waikiki is one of my favorite spots. This awesome indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar is located directly in front of the ocean. It has a nice indoor bar area plus a lanai and outside patio area complete with fire pits and oversized seats. We have sat outside on both my visits. It can be a little hot before the sun goes down but the view and bikinis going by non stop make it the perfect place to sit. As the sun sets the fire pits are lit and the real fun begins. People of all ages go here. Locals and tourists, celebrities and movie stars have been seen here. I have seen famous people on both my visits. Also enjoyed a photo shoot with an amazing model. Rum Fire gets it right for Waikiki. There is good food, a great view and great people watching. As we were sitting in our pit area several people asked if they could join us. We went from three people to seven in our pit very quickly. Made some new friends and enjoyed every minute.
We ate some Edamame which is served with a spicy sauce. It was great. Also enjoyed the Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos (shown above). They were good. Other menu items include; Crab Cakes, Ahi Poke Tacos, Baby Back Ribs, Sashimi, Lettuce Wraps and more. The food is presented well. I love this place for the atmosphere and great people watching. Can't wait to return.

LOW FAT BREAKFAST BURRITO


SOUTHWESTERN
STYLE EGG BEATERS

I love breakfast burritos on weekends.
Thanks to Egg Beaters we now can enjoy our burritos and still stay "low fat". Southwestern Style Egg Beaters are made with real eggs yet contain only 1.5 grams of fat and 40 calories per serving (1/4 cup). The egg product has red and green peppers, onions and spices already in the mix. I saute additional fresh onions, bell peppers and jalapenos in some Pam cooking spray. Then add the Egg Beaters and serve on a nice whole wheat tortilla. Add some hot salsa, taco sauce or green chili for even more flavor and no additional fat. I sometimes lay down a layer of zero fat Zesty refried beans on the tortilla and then add the eggs.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

LOW FAT CHICKEN & BLACK BEAN ENCHILADA

LOW FAT CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS

Made this one up and it was terrific. Started by chopping up some onion, green and red bell pepper. Saute in Pam cooking spray. Add one can of rinsed black beans to mixture. Cook two boneless and skinless chicken breasts on grille. When they are cooked let them cool down and then shred the chicken by hand in strips. Add the shredded chicken to the beans, onions and bell pepper mixture. Add two tablespoons of low fat sour creme. Heat all ingredients until warm. Throw in some chopped cilantro. Warm one can of Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce in a saucepan. Dip corn tortilla in sauce until plyable. Place tortilla on baking dish and fill with chicken mixture. Add low fat mexican cheese mixture and roll tortilla. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with low fat cheese. Bake in oven 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree pre-heated oven. Cook until cheese is melted. Top with a little lettuce for crunch and olive and tomato for looks. You can add low fat sour creme on top if you want. I topped mine off with the Safeway Green Chili Salsa and some canned Jalapeno's. The Green Chili Salsa adds a ton of flavor and zero fat.

TURKEY MEATLOAF

TURKEY MEATLOAF

Wow is this good. My wife found the recipe on the internet and now this is a family favorite. We gave a loaf to a good friend and he said it was the best meatloaf he has had in years. Recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network.
3 cups chopped onions (we used Maui Onions)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato plaste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 large eggs, beaten and 3/4 cups of ketchup. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approx. 15 minutes (we added some bell pepper too). Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. allow to cool to room temperature. Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread Ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until internal temp is 160 degrees and turkey is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.
Click link below to view an update and revised version of this Turkey Meatloaf recipe;

ASSAGGIO RISTORANTE ITALIANO

ASSAGGIO RISTORANTE ITALIANO
Honolulu, HI

Located in the lower level of Ala Moana Mall, Assaggio's is a local favorite for Italian food. I have been there many times and always liked the food. When friends invited us for dinner at Assaggio's, I didn't know if I could stick to my low fat diet. After studying the extensive menu that includes pasta, fresh fish, steak, veal and seafood I settled in on one of my all time favorites. The home made cold Antipasto salad ($8,90) as an appetizer. This salad includes Prosciutto, Salami, Cheese, Anchovies, Marinated Vegetables and Olives over a bed of romaine lettuce with home made vinaigrette dressing. Since we were sharing this salad, I ate only the lettuce, vegetables and anchovies. The dressing and marinated vegetables are fantastic. Others at the table enjoyed crab cakes, fried calamari, garlic bread and fresh clams scampi style ($12.90). All of the appetizers were served with a small amount of the marinated veggies which I devoured. They are great. I did not eat any of the fried foods or garlic bread but did consume a few of the fresh clams. They were big, thick and perfectly cooked in white wine, garlic, olive oil and butter. I avoided the sauce and just went for the clams. Could be the best fresh clams in Hawaii. At this point I was getting full and probably could have went home satisfied. Since everyone was ordering an entree I decided to go with the Linguine Vegetable. This is mixed fresh vegetables sauteed with olive oil and garlic and served with a light tomato sauce. I ordered a small portion ($15.90) which is not small at all. It is a big plate full of pasta that probably could have served two. I ordered the dish "spicy" too. The pasta was cooked to perfection and spiced perfectly for my taste. The sauce was delicious and the fresh vegetables were cut thick and still a little crunchy. There were a lot of onions in the sauce. This was great because I love sauteed onions. This dinner was simply perfect. Probably had a little over the 15 gram of fat allowed on the diet but was worth it. Others at the table enjoyed the same dish and loved it. Our friends enjoyed the Pan
Grilled Scallop and Jumbo Shrimp dish and the Ossu Bucco. I give Assaggio's the big thumbs up for Italian food in Hawaii. A few side notes. We had a table for eight which was located in a small room set up for larger parties. This room has no atmosphere and is out of the main eating area. Our dinner ran several hours as we were enjoying some wine and waiting for one of our friends to arrive. Before our entree's arrived the manager approached our table and politely requested that our table move to the main dining area so they could accommodate a large group of 26 people. She offered us a bottle of wine for the inconvenience. We moved to a great and larger table in the main dining room. The staff quickly moved all of our drinks and appetizers. The manager was there to make sure we were happy. Everyone was happy with the move. Our entrees came quickly and the manager offered everyone at the table a free dessert. I passed on the dessert but did enjoy the free bottle of vino.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

LOW FAT GRILL PARTY

LOW FAT DINNER PARTY AT HOME

Last night we hosted a small dinner party to show our friends how eating low fat could be fun and delicious at the same time. The entire meal was cooked right at the table on a Japanese style grill pan. We feasted on fresh Mahi Mahi, Wagu Beef from Japan, Chicken and a variety of fresh vegetables including garlic and balsamic marinated Portabello Mushrooms, Asparagus, Maui Onions, Napa Cabbage, Bean Sprouts, Bell Peppers, Zuccini and Eggplant. All cooked with Pam Butter cooking spray that has zero fat. The meal included a Japanese Batayaki dipping sauce that really kicked up the flavor without adding fat. Everyone at the table took turns cooking the various meat, fish, chicken and vegetables. This kept the table "alive" and made for a great evening of fun.

THINLY SLICED BEEF
PLACE SOME BUTTER IN THE PAN AND COOK AWAY
SLICED VEGETABLES, FISH AND BEEF
ONIONS, ASPARAGUS AND BELL PEPPERS