Sunday, January 31, 2010

Casa Sanchez Pupusas

Costco sells Casa Sanchez Pupusas! My latest discovery at Costco are these delicious handmade Casa Sanchez PupusasWhat is a pupusa? Well, if you like quesadillas--which I do!--then you will probably like these pupusas. They are made with thick masa harina (like a thick corn tortilla) surrounding yummy, gooey cheese inside. Of course, if you go to a Pupuseria (a pupusa restaurant), you can find all sorts of pupusas made with beans or pork or beans and cheese. The only thing missing from these pupusas is the curtido, the tangy, vinegary carrot and cabbage pickled slaw that is usually served with pupusas. We improvised and just used salsa de molcajete verde (green fire roasted salsa with tomatillos and peppers) and they tasted great! 

Preparation for these pupusas is easy! I simply melted a little butter in a nonstick pan and warmed up the pupusas until the outside got soft and golden brown. The best part? You get 12 of these little gems for only $9.99 at Costco! If you go to a Pupuseria, they usually charge $2.50-$4.00 for one order, which generally consists of two pupusas. Pupusas make a great quick lunch or snack, and each one is only 115 calories! Not too bad for something that tastes like it has a lot more than that!

Here's a Pupusa recipe for you to try at home courtesy of
Makes 4-5 pupusas

  • Masa harina -- 2 cups
  • Warm water -- 1 cup
  • Filling (see variations) -- 1 cup


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoonful at a time if needed, to make a moist, yet firm dough. (It should not crack at the edges when you press down on it.) Cover and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
  3. Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of desired filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that that the filling doesn't spill out.
  4. Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5-6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don't have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin.
  5. Heat an ungreased skillet over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupusas are done. Serve with curtido and salsa roja.


  • Pupusas de Queso: With a cheese filling. Use grated quesilloqueso fresco, farmer's cheese, mozzarella, Swiss cheese or a combination. Add some minced green chile if you like.
  • Pupusas de Chicharrones: With a filling of fried chopped pork and a little tomato sauce. A reasonable facsimile can be made by pulsing 1 cup of cooked bacon with a little bit of tomato sauce in a food processor.
  • Pupusas de Frijoles Refritos: With a refried bean filling.
  • Pupusas Revueltas: Use a mixture of chicharrones, cheese and refried beans.
  • Pupusas de Queso y Loroco: With a cheese and tropical vine flower filling.Loroco can be found in jars at many Latin markets.
  • Pupusas de Arroz: A variety of pupusa that uses rice flour instead of corn masa.
  • Cooked potatoes or finely minced, sautéed jalapeño peppers are also tasty fillings. Try a mixture of different fillings.
  • The above recipe uses masa harina, a special dried cornmeal flour used in making tortillas, tamales, etc. If you are able to get fresh masa, definitely use it instead. The flavor will be much fresher. Just substitute the masa harina and water with fresh masa. One pound will make about 4-6 pupusas depending on size.


  • The pupusa is so fundamental to the cuisine of El Salvador that the country has even declared November 13th "National Pupusa Day."
  • Pupusas are traditionally made by slapping the dough from palm to palm to flatten it out. I find the tortilla press to be quicker and easier for beginners.

Here's a recipe for curtido, El Salvadoran Pickled Coleslaw that I am going to try to make for the next round of pupusas.

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano


  1. Combine the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over the mixture. Allow the mixture to steep for 5 minutes; drain well. Return the cabbage and carrots to the bowl. Mix in the green onion, vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, and oregano. Toss until all ingredients are combined. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pasta Pelican Restaurant

For my husband's birthday, we decided to go to Pasta Pelican Restaurant for dinner, since it has a great view of the Alameda marina and the food is pretty tasty. I remembered that Pasta Pelican always seems to have a coupon in the paper advertising a special for dinner: buy one entree, get the second free. However, I did not have one of those coupons handy since we don't usually go to that restaurant--it's mid to high scale with moderate to high prices with a fancy-like atmosphere. While Pasta Pelican is a "family-friendly-ish" restaurant (they offered Josh some crayons and menu to color), it isn't our first pick to go out to eat as a family since the other clientele are generally on the fancier, kid-free side. However, this was a special occasion and we wanted to eat some good Italian food. Luckily, in a pinch at the last minute, I was able to find a printable Pasta Pelican Coupon! Now that is what I'm talkin' about! A coupon for a restaurant that you can print from the internet!? That's awesome!!!!!! (I think Pasta Pelican must have changed some of the terms and conditions of this coupon, though, because now they will only take up to $9.00 off for the second entree. But still, $9.00 off your check is pretty good and I'm not complaining!)

In response to the downward turn in the economy, Pasta Pelican has generously provided various special coupons in papers and savings magazines. However, I had no idea that they even had coupons on the web! Not only is that a savvy business move, but that's a good way to keep the customers happy by offering the convenience of an internet coupon. I applaud Pasta Pelican for being moderately budget friendly and allowing people to experience fine Italian dining at a discount!

2455 Mariner Square Drive 
Alameda CA, 94501
Phone(510) 864-7427
Fax(510) 521-1274

Lunch & DinnerOpen Daily: 11:00AM-9:00PM
Take outPlease call or fax in your order for pick up. All menu items are available for take out service.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eddie Bauer Exclusive Offer: 20% off Coupon

NOTE: Updated post regarding Eddie Bauer's bankruptcy status. Eddie Bauer is no longer in bankruptcy status!

If you are an Eddie Bauer fan, then I have a great coupon for you! Even though Eddie Bauer has announced that it is going out of business, I have just received an update stating that Eddie Bauer is no longer in bankruptcy status! I have an exclusive coupon for you to use: 20% off your entire order! Just enter the promotional code, JANTRA2 when you check out now through February 8, 2010. 20% off is a great discount, especially considering that their outerwear is already up to 70% off. This coupon works on all sale and clearance items! I think the best time to get new outerwear is at the end of the winter season (which we are in!), so if you have been holding off on getting a new jacket or coat, now's the time to start looking for your new jacket to wear next winter! 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Castle!

For all you Castle fans (me included) out there, I have some good news to pass on:

ABC has ordered two more episodes for Castle this season taking the total number of episodes for Season 2 to 24.

Since Season 2 began viewer numbers have crept up with an increase almost every week, continuing against the trend as other shows continued to lose viewers. On October 20, ABC ordered a further nine episodes to add to the initial season order of 13.

Last week the much anticipated episode “Sucker Punch” in which the murder of Beckett’s mother was revisited, obtained a season high in the 18-49 demographic reaching 2.8 and 9.44 million total viewers. Castle also took the number one spot for the hour and gained more viewers than CSI: Miami in the important “women 18-34? demographic.

This week the ratings rise continued with the episode “The Third Man” reaching a new series high of 3.1 in 18-49 with 10.5 million viewers. No news yet on Season 3 but the signs continue to look positive.

This article is courtesy of

Easy Szechwan Shrimp

The only thing better than good eats, is good eats, FAST! Last night I made Szechwan Shrimp for dinner. This recipe is super easy, super fast and super good! The sauce is made from ingredients that I usually have in my pantry and refrigerator anyway. It turned out okay, except I did a few things different from the recipe below. Instead of cooked shrimp, I used raw shrimp and I since I wanted to add some veggies to it, I added one red bell pepper and one small yellow onion (you can add whatever veggies you have on hand like zucchini, broccoli or even string beans). I swapped out ground ginger for a teaspoon or two of fresh ginger (which gave it great flavor). I also decided to marinate the shrimps in a light dusting of corn starch to help keep them moister while they cooked, and of course I seasoned them with salt and pepper. First, I cooked up the onion and bell pepper in some vegetable oil. Then I added the garlic and green onions and then added the raw shrimp. After the shrimps started turning pink, I added the sauce mixture. 
I think next time I will increase the honey to 1 tablespoon because it didn't seem sweet enough. This may be because I used Trader Joe's organic ketchup which doesn't have added sugar in it, so it isn't as sweet as Heinz ketchup or other brands. There was no problem with the heat level with adding 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red peppers. In fact, I might use real peppers next time, either whole dried red chiles or maybe a jalapeno to add some more heat to the dish. I also added some sprigs of cilantro for garnish to give it a fresher taste and appearance. Overall, I liked this recipe and it was very easy and very quick to prepare. I'll just make those additional adjustments the next time I prepare this dish, but this sauce is super versatile and could be used with chicken or beef or pork. YUM!

Szechwan Shrimp
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup sliced green onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces cooked shrimp, tails removed
1.In a bowl, stir together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Set aside.
2.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in green onions and garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in shrimp, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in sauce. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened.

Szechwan Shrimp Recipe is courtesy of

Wilco, "True Love Will Find You in the End"

In response to my Wilco post, my friend, Yuko, just sent me her favorite Wilco Song, 
"True Love Will Find You in the End." 

It's a Wilco week, what can I say? Enjoy!

What's your favorite Wilco song?

Sephora: FREE 10 day sample of Bare Minerals! Part 2

Just scored my free Bare Minerals loose face powder from Sephora! It was easy breezy! I just took my printed coupon to the register and picked out my shade! No purchase necessary! No questions asked! These are the BEST FREEBIES!

I took some photos of what you get:

1. Mini 10 day sample of powder
2. Mini application brush
3. Directions  for application techniques

This is the perfect size for traveling too!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vitafusion Multi Vites Gummy Vitamins for Adults

Even though I'm a mother doesn't mean that I don't feel nostalgic for kids' treats, like gummy bears! As a splurge and inspired by Josh's Gummy Bear Vitamins, I decided to start taking Vitafusion Multi Vites Gummy Vitamins for Adults. I know I can simply take regular multivitamins, but these vitamins are way more enjoyable (not to mention easier to remember to take daily)! I get to have a little reminder, a teaser taste of "gummy bears" without actually eating candy! It's my daily dose of nostalgia and I don't get that chalky aftertaste that the multivitamin pills have--plus it's something small that I get to look forward to as a daily dessert after dinner! If you have a sweet tooth or if you just want to have fun eating your vitamins, I highly recommend these adult gummy vitamins! What a simple way to sweeten up your daily routine!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sephora: FREE 10 day sample of Bare Minerals!

WOW! Right now Sephora is offering 10 days of free bare minerals foundation and mini brush (click this link, print it out and take it to Sephora). This offer is good online (with a purchase) or in-store, FREE!!! If you order online, you simply have to enter the codes BEBARE (for original) or BEMATTE (for matte) when you check out. Otherwise, find a store near you and score your free sample! I've tried this foundation and it is divine! It's light and blends extremely well and it's not cakey like a lot of powders tend to be. I definitely know why Sephora is giving out free samples of this: it's too good to pass up and once you try it, you'll be hooked (in a GOOD way)!!

Bob Dylan, "4th Time Around"

For whatever reason, I just love this song by Bob Dylan, "4th Time Around." It's not one of his most popular songs or anything like that, but I just love the strumming guitar, the harmonica solo and the cadence of his story telling. It's such a stringent, imagistic, poetic display of the complexities of relationships, without getting too sappy or mushy.

I'm just fascinated with Dylan--he is just such an enigma and brilliant poet, to say the least. (The train shots in this video are an added bonus for our train lover, Josh!)

When she said,
"Don't waste your words, they're just lies,"
I cried she was deaf.
And she worked on my face until breaking my eyes,
Then said, "What else you got left?"
It was then that I got up to leave
But she said, "Don't forget,
Everybody must give something back
For something they get."

I stood there and hummed,
I tapped on her drum and asked her how come.
And she buttoned her boot,
And straightened her suit,
Then she said, "Don't get cute."
So I forced my hands in my pockets
And felt with my thumbs,
And gallantly handed her
My very last piece of gum.

She threw me outside,
I stood in the dirt where ev'ryone walked.
And after finding I'd
Forgotten my shirt,
I went back and knocked.
I waited in the hallway, she went to get it,
And I tried to make sense
Out of that picture of you in your wheelchair
That leaned up against . . .

Her Jamaican rum
And when she did come, I asked her for some.
She said, "No, dear."
I said, "Your words aren't clear,
You'd better spit out your gum."
She screamed till her face got so red,
Then she fell on the floor,
And I covered her up and then
Thought I'd go look through her drawer.

And when I was through,
I filled up my shoe, and brought it to you.
And you, you took me in,
You loved me then,
You never wasted time.
And I, I never took much,
I never asked for your crutch,
Now don't ask for mine.

I also love, love, love this cover by Yo La Tengo from the movie, I'm Not There:


This is still one of my favorite Wilco songs, "California Stars."

Here's another great one, "I am Trying to Break Your Heart."

ad hoc restaurant

This is the next place I fantasize hitting: ad hoc my dreams! It is a part of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, which started The French Laundry, an extremely high end, gourmet, exquisite restaurant in Yountville, California. I've never been there, but I hope to go at least once in my lifetime. It's luxuriously expensive with a fixed price of $250/person (service included, but still, YIKES!!) and a daily menu based on the delights of the season and whim of the chef's creativity.

Thus, ad hoc restaurant was created to soothe the curious palettes of those of us who can't afford a $250 meal, but still want to experience gourmet cuisine. The purpose of ad hoc is to allow family style dining, while still maintaining superior quality ingredients, creative menu surprises and a beautiful atmosphere. Ad hoc also has a changing daily menu and a fixed price of $49/person. Now, that's still not "cheap" but it's not bad considering it's a gourmet four course meal with high quality ingredients, expertly prepared by wonderful chefs! I am on the mailing list (subscribe to ad hoc's menuto receive the daily menu creations, which is the best way to preview their courses to decide if tonight's the night to hit the road and go on a taste testing adventure!

Oh, and I love the banner on the restaurant: "for temporary relief from hunger." This is SO the place for me--I'm always hungry!!! If you ever check out ad hoc, please let me know! I am dying to find out about first hand accounts! Until then, I can continue to dream about their menu...

Here's a sample menu from yesterday:

The Dinner Menu for Monday, January 25th

Warm Mushroom and Arugula Salad

hen of the woods, beech, and shitake mushrooms
rocket arugula, caramelized sweet potatoes
vinegar broth

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

roasted cauliflower, carrot, and broccolini ragout
country biscuits, sausage gravy

Valley Shepherd Creamery's Oldwick Tome

marshall's farm blackberry honey
citrus salad

Two Scoops of Ice Cream

tahitian vanilla with chocolate chunks
dulce de leche with hot fudge and candied peanuts



6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599

t : 707.944.2487
f : 707.944.2275

we serve dinner
five nights a week
5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
(closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

and Sunday brunch
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

to make your reservation

online, please visit

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bemis Whisper Close Toilet Seat

Our toilet seat broke after a few years. It was definitely time for a replacement! My husband came home from Home Depot with a Bemis Whisper Close Toilet Seat and installed it.

At first, I thought he had gone bonkers and over the top with this seat, but then I tried it and I love it! It's really quiet and easy to use. No more banging down noises from Josh, either! It looks like a normal toilet seat cover, but then all it takes is a gentle nudge from your finger and the toilet seat goes down automatically! It makes our bathroom seem so futuristic now! Plus, it encourages everyone to put the seat down, so no one (ME) falls in accidentally anymore! I highly recommend this toilet seat--it's a godsend for women everywhere!

Check out the video demonstrating it--it's really cool!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gevalia, 3 for $3!

My friend just showed me this great offer from Gevalia. If you sign up, you get to try three types of coffees or teas for $3, and you get a free stainless steel spoon as well as free shipping! Now, that's a great way to sample a new coffee or tea! Bring on the coffee and tea!!!

Click here to try Gevalia for $3!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snack

If you are like me and get the munchies or crave something salty and crunchy (like chips?), but don't want to load up on too many extra calories and fat (not to mention carbs), then consider trying Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed snack. Now, I know what you are thinking, seaweed? How is that good? Well, this seaweed is very nutty tasting and salty. It starts out light and crispy and then melts on your tongue. It is so good! Believe me, my girlfriends love this and have admitted to eating three packs in one day! But not to fret because half the package is only 30 calories! That means you can eat the entire package for 60 itty bitty calories and only 4 grams of fat. Plus, you get the added bonus of vitamin C, Vitamin A and iron! If you can get your kids to eat this, even better!! (Unfortunately, Josh won't touch this snack, but that means more for me!). You can find these wonderful diet-friendly, low carb snacks with the crackers (in our Trader Joe's, the crackers are lined up above the freezer section--strange place for them, but that's their store location logic, I suppose). You can't beat the price at $0.99 a bag! I stock up on these when I see them in the store because they sell out almost as soon as they hit the shelves. If you've never tried roasted seaweed, give it a try. It's worth the exploration and it's worth the miniscule calories you ingest while satisfying a craving for salty, crunchy goodness!

Oh, and PS: These are a product of Korea! (I swear some of the best things come from Korea!)

Here's a breakdown of the nutrition facts, just in case you are interested:

Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe's - Roasted Seaweed Snack

50 mg
Total Fat
2 g
0 mg
0 g
Total Carbs
1 g
0 g
Dietary Fiber
1 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
1 g
0 mg

Vitamin A
Vitamin C