Thursday, October 27, 2011


A few weeks ago I went to Southern California for work (terrible, I know!) I had a day to play, so I explored Laguna Beach and had some great food!

Although it was in the middle of October, the temperature got into the 90s while I was there. Why was I wearing a cardigan that day?!?! Maybe because it was 50 degrees when I left Kansas! 

On my first night, I had dinner at Las Barisas, a Mexican Seafood restaurant located right on the beach. Bill's brother lives in Irvine so he joined! Since it was still happy hour I took advantage of their food and margarita specials. I had the pomegranate margarita and house made guacamole to start. For my entree I had the grilled ahi burger with mango salsa. It was delicious and fresh. 

Oh yeah, I also watched the sunset on the beach! Not a bad start to a work trip, eh?

After dinner, John to us to Sprinkles Cupcakes and I enjoyed a delicious red velvet cupcake. I will never turn down a cupcake!

My California trip would not be complete without a trip to In N Out Burger, and since I've never been to In N Out, I had to go! That place is run like a well oiled machine, and having received advice from friends and locals, I knew what and how to order. The bell hop at my hotel insisted that I order everything "Animal Style" and being the naive person that I am, I went ahead with his suggestion. I ordered a Double Double Animal Style and french fries Animal Style as well.

 WHOA in case you are not familiar with their secret menu, "Animal Style" consists of caramelized onions, thousand island dressing and cheese! I don't want to know how bad they were for me, but it was tasty! As I carried the try to my table I was so thankful I had a salad for lunch! The burger was delicious but I think I would get a single patty next time and the animal style was an experience within itself. After dinner I went back the hotel and collapsed!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Labor Day pt 2!

Over Labor Day Weekend I celebrated my birthday with my family and in the Barnes' household the birthday girls pick their birthday dinner. I typically choose my Mom's fajitas but I wanted something I haven't had in probably 10 years. We also get to use the "Special Plate". Damn right I'll celebrate, its MYYYY day!!!

I chose Chicken Fried Steak, my mom used to make it for my Uncle when he would visit from abroad. Since its not healthy AT ALL, she rarely makes it! Most people make Chicken Fried Steak in a cast iron skillet but my Mom (just like her mom) makes it in an electric skillet. I also found the cracker crumbs to be to be an interesting addition.

Mom's (and Grandma Elaine's) Chicken Fried Steak
3 lbs round steak, cut into 6 portions. (You can purchase pre tenderized steak, make sure that it has been machine tenderized, not chemically tenderized.)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 packages saltine crackers, broken down to crumbs 

1/2 cup grease
2 heaping tbsp flour
2 cups potato water
2-3 cups milk
Salt and Pepper

Heat about 1 inch of crisco in electric skillet. Whisk together milk and eggs and place in shallow dish. Place crumbled crackers in another shallow dish. Dredge meat in milk and egg mixture and then dredge in cracker crumbs. Fry meat in skillet and flip once the first side is browned. You will need to do this in batches as to not overcrowd skillet. You can keep steaks warm in a 200 degree oven until serving. While meat is cooking prepare your favorite mashed potatoe recipe and save 2 cups of the potato water. 

Once all steaks have been fried, remove excess grease from pan, leaving only 1/2 cup. Add two heaping tbsp of flour to grease and whisk to make a roux. Once brown and bubbly, add the 2 cups of potato water (say whaaatt?! Trust me, it seams crazy but it works!) Whisk in 2-3 cups of milk and continue to boil until thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with lots of gravy and fall into a deep food coma!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sesame Glazed Salmon

So if you remember a post from last summer, I had a family of caterpillars who enjoyed eating my cilantro and parsley and somehow they found my new place! I felt so guilty to move them, so I cut what I needed and let them enjoy their parsley in peace.

This is a spin on a previous recipe I posted last summer Here. These noodles are so light their great for a summer day (especially when your air conditioning isn't working!!) The salmon is quick to prepare so you can have dinner in minutes!
Cold Sesame Noodles
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 bunch parsley
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 head broccoli, cut and blanched
1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (I have also used Somen noodles, and they are excellent too.)

-For the Sauce-
1/2 cup sesame oil
2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp black vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp samba olek

Cook noodles, rinse and drain. Mix up sauce and save 4 tbsp for salmon. Combine 1/2 of sauce with noodles and veggies and pop in the fridge to cool. Toss remaining sauce with noodles before serving. Top with salmon and enjoy!

Obviously this is a big batch of noodles, but now I have lunch all week! Sometimes I top with grilled steak or shrimp.

Sesame Glazed Salmon
4 oz salmon filet
4 tbsp of sesame vinaigrette 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush salmon with 2 tbsp of sauce and bake for 8 minutes, brushing with sauce half way through. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend pt 1

I spent the weekend in Hutch, celebrating a friend's birthday and kicking off my birthday week with the family. The weekend started off with my friend's birthday party in which I supplied the cupcakes. I will say that her dad's pulled pork was the favorite in my book! 
Cupcakes for Marla's party! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARLA!!!
Since I was sooooo good last week I decided to fall off the wagon! I had lunch with Seth, Kristin and her mom Shelly at Roy's Hickory Pit BBQ. I have not been to Roy's in probably 10 years. (OMG I can't believe I'm old enough to say something like that!)
 When I was little, I remember going with my dad and while I didn't remember the food, I remembered the smell. Oh yes, the smell of barbeque, its the kind of smell that sticks with you. This smell of hickory lingers with you, and  when you are out in public, people know where you've been! The line was already at the door when we arrived, so we hopped in it.  Roy's is a simple BBQ joint, but they mean business, they have 3, maybe 4 employees. They have all the usual suspects, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and sausage They do go conservative on the sides, with each meal you get beans and their "salad" bar which has an assortment of pickled items and slaw. 

Since I couldn't decide, I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with hot sausage. 

 Their sauce is smoky with a little spice and it is one of my favorites! Oh yeah, did I mention that your meat is cut to order and all 3 employees are in the same room as you? I {almost} love that I can see them prepare my meal! I say almost because as I waited in line, I watched them toast the bread and lets just say they don't skimp on the butter.....

Whoa, back to reality, sorry I was drooling over that photo! 

Part 2 will follow with Nancy's Chicken Fried Steak!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Restaurant Review Beignets!

The past 2 weeks have been crazy! August is my busiest month at work so I'm lucky if I am home before 8. I was able to sneak out of Lawrence this weekend to spend time with a few friends in KC and checked out a new restaurant in the Crossroads.

Nica's 320 boasts itself as southern fusion with menu items like build your own mac & cheese and omelets as big as your face served on focaccia. They also have beignets! While I know all about the beignet, this was my first time trying one! The beignets arrived just how I imagined, stacked high covered in powdered sugar, and when I say covered, I mean covered! There was a mountain of powdered sugar!

We ordered the original, but they also feature filled signets like chocolate truffle and brie & berry! They were crunchy, chewy, messy and delicious! I ordered the Caramel Pecan Praline pancakes and OMG they were good. Nica's pancakes are cornbread pancakes and mine were topped with a caramel pecan praline sauce. It tasted like salted caramels! I sure had a sweet tooth that morning, I felt like I had desert for breakfast!

Sarah is finally finished with her boards! More social time and less studying! Huzzah!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Bastille Day! Le quatorze juillet!

In honor of Bastille Day (July 14) here are 3 links to my favorite French things!

1.The French Daiquiri! This refreshing cocktail is great for these hot Kansas summers!

2.French Macarons from Bloom Bakery in KC, MO

They have a crunchy shell and a soft inside. Bloom's macarons come in flavors like Strawberry Basil and Lavender and they are delish!

3.Sale on French items at
Au Marché!
Au Marché is the European Food Market in Lawrence which carries many French items, such as l'Occitaine,Ameline mustards, madeleines & more!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Minnesota Beer Tour : Bell's Two Hearted Ale

As most of my friends know, I love microbrews so I love trying new beers when I travel. I also love bringing them home when I can! While I was in Minnesota last week I tried a couple of local beers and I made my own 6-pack based on the recommendations by locals.

Beer #1: Two Hearted Ale by Bell's Brewery, located in Comstock, MI

I first tried this beer white in MN and loved it, so much so, I brought home a six pack! Its a very hoppy beer but still light making this IPA a new fav. It has a subtle floral note that I can't put my finger on. I'm sad that I only have 5 more left!

Bell's has 8 beers available year round, 15 seasonal and 17 specialty beers and i'm sure they are all great. After perusing their website, I discovered that Bell's is distributed in KCMO so be on the lookout at KC liquor stores!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Horseradish Infused Vodka

One of my new favorite things to do is to infuse liquors. Some of my favorites are Basil-Infused Gin, Limoncello, Orangecello and now Horseradish Vodka! My Dad grew a hot batch of horseradish this winter and I have been trying to come up with creative ways to use it! With a suggestion from my friend Jay,I decided to infuse vodka with horseradish.

I have to admit, I was scared of this project, because earlier in the day I grated some horseradish for another recipe and man, does it clean out your sinuses!

Above is the horseradish root, it looks a lot like ginger root, but a little woodier. Once the outer skin is peeled, the root breaks down and mustard oil is secreted, giving horseradish the the kick that it is known for. Its an interesting kind of heat, not like peppers, it hits the sinuses and is really enjoyable! I like it on meat in Bloody Mary's!

Horseradish Infused Vodka

2 oz fresh horseradish root, peeled
1 750-mL Vodka
2 tbsp black peppercorns

*Peel outer skin of horseradish to expose the white flesh. Peel horseradish and place in a glass jar or bottle that has a tight seal. (I purchased my jars at World Market HERE.)
* Crush 1/2 of the peppercorns and place in jar along with vodka.
*Seal jar and place in a dark, dry place, (kitchen cabinet) for 3 hrs.

The NY Times suggests to let it infuse for 24 hrs but I checked up on it after 3 hrs and this is what it looked like:

This batch was good after only 3 hrs! I tried the vodka in two of my favorite cocktails and was surprised with the results. I first made a dirty martini with horseradish infused vodka and olive juice and the horseradish was waaaaaaay to strong! I advise you to not make this cocktail! My second was a Bloody Mary and OMG it was the the best Bloody Mary I have ever made and is right up there with the Louise's West Bloody Mary

Barnes' Bloody Mary

Tomato Juice
1.5 oz horseradish vodka
Seasoning salt
Worcestershire sauce
2 Green olives
1 Stalk of celery or Dil Pickle

I typically eyeball my Bloody Mary's so next time I make one, I will jot down the measurements and post them!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Horseshoe Lake and Cucumber Salad!

Since its an overcast day at the lake, I think its a good time for me to post the first part of our trip!

I am spending the week at Horseshoe Lake in Merrifield, MN with a group of friends and it has turned out to be a much needed vacation!

After driving all night we arrived in Merrifield around 7:30am. After a quick 2 hr nap we opened a few beers and hopped in the water!


On Sunday we went to Nisswa, a cute lake town about 20 miles from Horseshoe Lake, we had delicious ice cream at the Chocolate Ox and dinner at Rafferty's Pizza

They had a wide variety of pizzas including mashed potato pizza, Lucky Chicken which had a lingonberry sauce that was to die for! I had Alexandra's Barbeque Chicken and it was tasty! I loved the thin crust and who could pass up $1 beers!
After dinner a civic organization in Nisswa gave out American flags shortly before the parade
MEAT RAFFLE?! Sign me up! I remember Andrew Zimmer said this was popular in small Minnesota towns, too bad it was last Friday! I would have wanted to be part of that. In case you are not familiar with the meat raffle, you buy raffle tickets and if your ticket is drawn, you win meat!

We watched the sunset in the paddle boat!

The 4th was spent at the beach and grilling, we found out noodles make great flag poles and the guys celebrated their right to bear arms with a super soaker battle on the dock. Oh, and I wish I had my camera but there was a boat parade in the morning! All the boats in Horseshoe Lake were decorated and each boat had a theme. There were patriotic boats, and Star Wars boats.

What would a food blog be without recipes?? One great thing about vacationing with other foodies: great meals! Sarah's parents stocked the kitchen for us so it was easy to whip up lunch! Today for lunch I made my honey poppyseed vinaigrette for salads and also made a cucumber tomato salad, recipe compliments of Jay :)

Cucumber and Tomato Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tomato chopped
2 tsp dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
----Mix all ingredients and serve chilled!

Honey Poppyseed Vinaigrette
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (sometimes I use apple cider or sherry vinegar)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp poppy seeds
----Add all ingredients in mason jar and shake until emulsified. You may adjust vinegar and mustard if you would like it more tangy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beet Ravioli Filled with Goat Cheese and Chives

The star of this dish by far is the beet pasta, and after seeing how bright it turned out, I want to try it with carrots and spinach! This recipe was adapted from Katie at the Kitchen Door.

Beet Ravioli Filled with Goat Cheese and Chives

Pasta Dough
2 beets
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

1/3 cup goat cheese
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup cream
1 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Caramelized Onion Sauce with Walnut & Thyme
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup chardonnay
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

For the Pasta:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and roast beets for 1 hr. Blend with 1/2 cup of water in a food processor until smooth and set aside. Beet puree can be made a day ahead and brought to room temperature before combining with pasta.

In a large bowl make a well with 3 cups of flour and add egg, olive oil, beet pure and salt. Combine all ingredients until it pulls away from the bowl. Knead the dough and add the remaining 2 cups of flour, one cup at a time until the dough does not stick to your finger and is elastic. (About 10 minutes)

It's not quite ready!

Let dough rest for 30 minutes before rolling.

For the filling:
Combine all ingredients for the filling and set aside.

After dough has rested cut into quarters and dust with flour. Using a pasta roller or a rolling pin, roll pasta into thin sheets.

If using a ravioli press, lay one sheet of pasta onto the press and fill each crevice with filling. Lay another sheet of pasta over the filling and roll over press to crimp the ravioli.

While I thought the Ravioli press was a great idea, it was very easy to overfill and difficult to to crimp at times. Maybe because it was a small press. I found that making ravioli the old fashioned way was easiest.

If you are not using a ravioli press:

Lay one sheet of pasta on the table and scoop 1 tsp of filling onto pasta 1/2 inch apart from each other. Lay another sheet of pasta over the filling and press pasta together pushing out any air pockets. Cut into square raviolis and crimp edges.

For the Sauce:
Caramelize onions in olive oil over medium heat in a skillet for 45 minutes or until brown. Add garlic, walnuts and thyme and cook for 1 minute. De-glaze pan with 1/4 cup of wine and cook for another 3 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, boil pasta for 5 minutes or until pasta floats. We steamed the first batch because they were the "uglies" and very delicate. Surprisingly, I liked steaming the pasta because it was quicker and retained less water.

After pasta is cooked, toss in sauce and serve immediately. I served it with an arugula salad dressed with a tangy red wine vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Blue Cheese & Cauliflower

Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Blue Cheese & Cauliflower

Warning: This recipe is not figure friendly and is perfect for a cold winter night! This pasta is rich and it is likely to put yourself in a cheese-induced coma!

I love the addition of chipotles in adobo to this dish, it adds a subtle smoky flavor and a spicy kick.

For Breadcrumbs:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 head cauliflower, chopped
5 sliced bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
2 tbsp. chopped chipotles in adobo
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp. dry mustard
1 lb. cavatappi pasta
1 lb. extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
1 lb. Danish blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup green chopped green onions
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Toss cauliflower in olive oil, S&P and roast for 25 minutes or until golden and tender While cauliflower is roasting, cook bacon on a wire rack for 20 minutes or until crispy. Remove bacon from oven and pat off grease with paper towel.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees

Melt butter and olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Cook until breadcrumbs are golden brown and crunchy. Remove from heat and let cool.

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan and whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, heavy cream and mustard until simmering, about 3 minutes.

Whisk in chipotles, blue cheese and ½ of cheddar cheese until cheese is melted and sauce is thick. Stir in pasta and remaining cheese. Toss in cauliflower, green onions, and bacon.

Pour pasta into a deep baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

This pasta can be made ahead of time (leave off breadcrumbs) and refrigerated two days prior to baking. It can also be frozen. Allow more time to bake.

I would also suggest baking them in individual servings!

Since this pasta is so rich, I would suggest serving it with a Sauvignon Blanc and a salad with arugula and a nice acidic vinaigrette. This will balance out the creaminess of the pasta