Since I just started the Paleo diet I wanted to get this post out of the way so I don't have a bad craving for french fries while writing this. When I read this recipe it reminded me of when I used to work at Penn Station (worst job ever) and they would fry ALL the fries in the morning and put them in these big tubs. I always thought it was so weird that we had like garbage cans of half cooked fries laying around but now I know why! They would be blanching them in the morning and then take less to cook and made to order. The second fry really crisps them up and makes them more delicious I think. So I  made these a few weeks ago and was really impressed with the final product. The website I used to make these is at the bottom of this page.

This is a process and I totally winged it. The website I used for this said you needed an oil thermometer but I am not that fancy and I really wanted french fries so figured I could test it with a few single fries and go from there. Looking back I don't really think I needed it.

 If you want your fries to look good you have to learn how to cut a potato to size. I cut both ends off and cut the sides off until it created a rectangular block. Then cut that in half and tried the best I could to get thin matchstick like pieces. Now I guess the first thing I should have told you is that it's about 3 hours before your actually going to get to eat your french fries!! But it's worth it !! Make sure to do some squats and jumping jacks while waiting!! After they are cut soak them in water for 1 hour change the water then soak for another hour. My dad says hot water helps pull out the starches better but I haven't tried that yet so don't hold me to it.

Now it's time to heat up the oil! The recipe says to use an inch of oil but I don't like waste so I used enough to barely cover a flat layer of fries and mine were very thin. You want the oil HOT but not too hot to cook the fries this is the blanching process. Blanching is frying something at a low temp to cook it then a high temp to crisp it. I think I blanched mine too long on this recipe it says to cook them but take them out when they were still pale. I couldn't figure out what that meant exactly so I took mine out when they turned light brown. Put them in the fridge as I blanched the rest of my potatoes. I let them sit in the fridge for 20 minutes or so even though it doesn't say to do that. I remembered back to my Penn Station days and it was a big deal to get the fries done early so they could cool.

After you are through the blanching process crank up the heat and let those babies crisp up! Take them out carefully when they reach your desired doneness. I saw a video of a guy rubbing salt between his hands to salt his fries, it looked fancy so I tried it and it coats the fries perfectly. So if you are feeling fancy make sure to try that!

The first photo below is a picture of my fries blanching


See not perfect cut sizes here I was hungry and in a rush to get the potato cut! 

Finished product was AUHMAZZIIINNN!!!! I used some SLAP YO MAMA seasoning on my fries my dad bought me a big can of it. I also have a can of truffle salt that I'm using next time I make these. 

Fun toppings:
-Truffle Salt with Parmesean
-Slap yo mama seasoning (My fave all purpose seasoning)
-Bacon, green onions, and cheese
-Gravy and Cheese
-Mozzarella cheese and Marinara sauce
-Chili and cheese

This is the website I used ----------->
UPDATE: I made the pancakes again today and they turned out much more amazing! If you wait long enough to flip them you won't have a problem. That thing I read about having a thick batter is BS I used a little more almond milk today and they cooked like regular pancakes. Photo below.

OK, I have sooooo much good stuff from Hawaii to write about right now but, I am so excited about my dinner tonight that I am putting all of that aside to tell you all about this.

It all started when I went to Hawaii...
  In Hawaii all of the restaurants serve local organic foods, the fish are fresh, and the coconuts grow on trees. I have never really eaten that way before sure we had bread and rolls when we were there but since they are all baked from scratch you just feel better about eating it.
   When I got back from Hawaii I had no real groceries in my house. Just like rice-a-roni's, lipton pasta packets, and pickles. After eating a prepared rice-a-roni meal I just felt weighed down and figured it was jetlag. The next day I ordered pizza and they don't really sell anything green so I ended up getting the veggie wheat pizza , a salad, bread sticks and still felt like groggy afterwards. Since my house was completely empty of both good and bad foods I decided it was time for a change. A new beginning of my eating habits and stocked kitchen. After doing some research and talking with friends I decided to try the Paleo way of eating. It kind of reminded me of the way I was eating in Hawaii and I just felt so  much better about myself there. I have worked out pretty regularly for almost 2 years and have a decent amount of muscle I was looking for a diet that would not deprive me ending in muscle loss. You can starve yourself and lose fat and muscle but guess what people? The fat comes back and the muscle DOESN'T!
 After a random trip to the store (had no list) I picked up some Paleo staples such as coconut oil, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut milk ice cream, some cauliflower and a lot of other produce. (spent about $80 these things are not cheap!) So from lack of groceries the last 2 days I was more inspired than EVER to get my wheels turning and hands dirty!

  For breakfast I had my first stab at Almond Flour Pancakes with bacon and some strawberries. I was for sure skeptical about the pancakes because I have never cooked with almond flour before and it seemed like a high calorie breakfast. Now these were really easy to whip up! I used 3/4 a cup of almond flour,  some vanilla, an egg, and some almond milk. I read online that you don't want the batter too thick or too thin. Personally mine turned out too thick for me. The key to this is to have the pan pretty hot because they are HARD to flip and they don't form perfect little circles when you put them in the pan either if you can't already tell. From my cooking experiences these cooked similar to a potato pancake with the way they brown and how hard they are to flip. I also read a ton of recipes for these pancakes mostly people are back and forth about what is Paleo and what isn't. I felt good about my meal afterwards next time I will try to beautify them more and post but they tasted good and that's all you need to know. I am planning to make some savory versions of these with chives and olive oil instead of vanilla and coconut oil. At the end of the day I compared the almond flour to my Bisquick mix and its roughly the same amount of calories but you are getting so much more nutrition from the almond flour I read 6 grams of protein for 1/4 a cup and 3 grams of fiber. Compare that to Bisquick and your basically eating ground up cardboard.

This is my second stab at almond flour pancakes they look and tasted much better than the first batch and cooked more beautifully with the extra milk I added. You'll see the black spots on mine I am lazy and a bacon lover so I cooked these in the same pan I cooked the bacon in yesterday. Just wiped it out so I had a small amount of residual grease and they were way better than yesterday. 

For dinner I made Oven Roasted Chicken Breast and Mashed Cauliflower. Somehow I totally forgot cauliflower even existed and how amazing it tastes!! This dinner was amazeballs really I was shocked with how delicious and satisfied I was with this meal. I had just worked out ran in the door and preheated my oven to 425 F and got some water boiling. Cauliflower is annoying to cut up so I just sort of sawed out pieces using a steak knife kept all my crumbs in the bag it came in so no clean up! Boiled that for about 7 minutes and got my chicken washed and dried. I had a plate ready with seasoned almond flour since I haven't really cooked with it ever I wasn't sure if the taste of the almonds would ruin my chicken so I literally put the whole spice cabinet in my flour. I used dried onions, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, oregano, and a dash of Slap YO mama seasoning. Spray the pan with olive oil and after you bread the chicken spray the tops of it with the olive oil as well. I baked mine for about 30ish minutes when it's done it's done. With the cauliflower I used a small amount of butter to flavor it up but I suppose olive oil would be fine too. I began to mash it with a potato masher and it didn't work very well. I came back with a handheld mixer and it seemed to come together pretty well.The mixer gives you more of a whipped texture. I got all of this on my plate and took a bite I was astonished! So much flavor and healthiness going on don't know why I have never done this before. You will save so many calories if you make the cauliflower instead and it's taste is so similar its worth to make the change. I forgot to take a picture before I started eating so the chicken is already cut up. Might not look very good but it was amazing! Will be making this again for sure! 

One of my favorite things EVER is Filet Mignon. Usually every time I go over to my boyfriend's house and cook we make a version of this. It's fun,  flavorful, and easy to pair with wine (and all the good wine is at his house). He had his son and his friend over last night so we bought strip steaks for them (hey the good stuff is for us).

UPDATE 2/25: The next time I made this dinner I created a mind blowing change that will add extra delicious flavor!! After browning the steaks add your mushroom/shallot mix to the hot steak pan and add more marsala wine. The wine should bubble up fiercely and pick up all the yummy browned steak bits at the bottom of the pan. GENIUS!!

At the store I will buy steaks, mushrooms, shallots, baking potatoes, and a green veggie. Also I'll pick up a tray of olives, some aged cheese, and bread for oil dipping. First thing when I walk in the door is preheat the oven to 400F. I cook my potatoes in the oven or grill because of the flavor and texture you don't get in a microwave. It may take longer but if you are in a time crunch try microwaving them for a few minutes then bake in the oven you'll get the best of both worlds. I throw the bread in with the potatoes for a few minutes to get it toasty before serving. Next get a large ziplock bag for marinating meats. Usually I will do some sort of combo of olive oil, s&p, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire and fresh crushed garlic cloves. Leave these steaks in the bag on the counter you don't want to put cold meat on a hot pan or grill. Rinse off the potatoes and rub some butter on the skin, sprinkle with salt and put them in the oven. Doing this will make the skins delicious which is where all the nutrition in the potato is.

Now on to the topping! Get all of your chopping done first if you put the butter into the pan before you start this it might brown and that is an entire different flavor. As far as how much butter you use? More butter = more better so it just depends how healthy you want to be! You can buy already sliced mushrooms and the shallots are small I just peel them and slice them up really quick. While they are cooking they will break up. Go ahead and melt the butter add the shallots. Try adding garlic, parsley (added at the end), or thyme if you like. Just let them sweat out for a few minutes in the pan before adding mushrooms. Once this all starts to caramelize you want to crank up the heat and add a hefty splash of marsala wine. Turn down the heat and let it cool down until you need it.

Oh don't forget to pour yourself a glass of wine while your cooking. That's a very important step!!

For the steaks we will brown these on a skillet with a little butter then put them on a cooling wire rack (shown below) on top of a cookie sheet. Important tip if you line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil you will not have to scrub the cookie sheet later! These can cook in the 400F with the potatoes until your desired doneness is reached.

Turn this into a Sunday Dinner by making an impressive Caprese Salad to serve for an appetizer. You can read about my Caprese Salad tips and suggestions here ------>

There you have it! My amazing steak dinner!!

Steak topping made with onions and Worcestershire. Store was out of shallots and I ran out of marsala.
Steak topping made with onions and Worcestershire. Store was out of shallots and I ran out of marsala. 

Best Marsala mushroom steak dinner recipe
Showing you how the shallots cook you can break them up with the spatula as they cook. When they look like this add mushrooms.

Best Marsala mushroom steak dinner recipe
Cooking the steaks on this rack allows them to cook more evenly. Otherwise you may have to turn them once or twice.

Best Marsala mushroom steak dinner recipe
After adding the wine!! Don't forget to let it reduce before serving!! 

Best Marsala mushroom steak dinner recipe
Browning steaks before putting them in the oven. See all the browned stuff sticking to the pan? That's delicious steak flavor!! Add marsala wine to the pan while it's hot and scrape your spatula along the bottom. Add this to your mushroom topping!! Your welcome :) 

This is what your table should look like while you cook!! A glass of wine, some olives and some crusty bread with oil dip!! YUM!!! 

Best Marsala mushroom steak dinner recipe
Wine and olives at the dinner table. 

After your steaks are done serve and enjoy!! If there is a lot of steak juice left pour it in the mushroom mix before serving. You can serve with any red wine, but I have made some recommendations below. If you don't have marsala wine try this with whatever wine you are drinking or use Worcestershire sauce. try something new! Be adventurous! Remember it's kind of hard to mess up buttery onions, mushrooms, and steak!! Can't find shallots at the store? use sweet yellow onions!! It's good to try new things and mix it up!! Don't have the $$ budget for filet or eat beef? Can easily be made with chicken breast or tofu.
This is one of my favorite dinners to make so I hope you enjoy it!! Personally I think it's much better than any restaurant you could ever try. They charge almost $8 for a mushroom steak topping and use more butter than you want to know about!!(trust me I worked in a few restaurants) That's crazy! Making it at home will give you control over the quality and calorie count of your dinner. You can be eating within 45 minutes if you follow my time saver steps (buying pre-sliced mushrooms and halfway microwaving potatoes) a lot of times it takes just as long to be seated, order and wait for your food in a restaurant!!

Turn this into a Sunday Dinner by making an impressive Caprese Salad to serve for an appetizer. You can read about my Caprese Salad tips and suggestions here ------>

Wine Recommendations: 
Pinot Noir- 
-Meiomi - A mild red wine. For me it has a tad bit of spice and sweetness to it and is perfect for a steak when I am not feeling a heavy bold red wine. You'll feel fancy drinking this at about $20 a bottle.
-Segehsio- A spicy, zesty zin! For me this is when I am feeling a little bold and spunky! Zinfandels always seem to have a little kick to them I think and this balances out perfect with any BBQ!!! Around $20ish you'll be kicking that dinner up a notch and definitely make an impression.
-Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico- Sweeter of the Chiantis I have had but still dry for a red wine. For me sometimes I just need a good ol' Italian wine. If I am feeling sweet and worth $20 I'll buy this. If I'm feeling a little more expensive I might go for the drier $25 bottle listed below.
-Ruffino Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva- For when I'm feeling classy.
-Da Vinci Chainti- My favorite cheap Chianti. (sooo much better than Gabbiano) It's about $10 a bottle.
-Castello Trebbio Chianti- You are lucky if you can find this one. I've only found it in New Jersey and New York.
Louis Martini- Is my favorite cheap Cab. I have no problem ordering this at a restaurant. Especially because it's normally $9 a glass! Or something crazy like that. Why not buy a bottle for $15 and pretend like your all that and a bag of chips? That's what I say!

Happy Cooking :)
Ok people I am 24 years old and have NEVER had my license. Living in a suburb that is near everything and having great supportive friends I haven't had the need for it. Always working in walking distances at restaurants meant even if I didn't have a ride to the grocery I still had food. To get to my point I always just buy random things at the grocery store and make something out of them. I usually try to pick what produce is in season and looks the best or pick up any cravings I had. Keeping my fridge stocked with long lasting items such as capers, olives, canned red peppers, and canned artichokes helps me be able to make more delicious meals at the drop of a hat.

This is what I made tonight below.

When I looked into my cupboard and saw an unopened box of noodles I decided to get creative. One of my favorite things to do is to make my own meals and recipes. Really I wanted to make something with a cream sauce but being as that I am going to Hawaii in 2 days I wanted to make it lighter. Looked in the fridge and saw capers, lemon, and onion. Super sweet cherry tomatoes I picked up the other day were an added bonus!! 

Firstly I boiled my white fiber barilla pasta about 2 servings worth. I envisioned this in my mind with a long noodle but this was all I had. For the sauce I melted a little butter and cooked my 1/2 onion with some garlic powder and dried Italian herbs. I added a little lemon zest and capers then the tomatoes and a decent size splash of some white wine. Let that reduce down until the tomatoes split. Add the pasta and let it all simmer together for a few minutes (the pasta will get a chance to absorb the sauce.) 

This sounds sad but I am a cheese lover and was out of cheese! I had some string cheese sticks in the fridge and I just broke up one of those and it melted beautifully in the pasta. 

Lastly I broke off some parsley and basil from my window plants and sprinkled that on top! Perfect dinner! 

Below is a picture of the sauce I had simmering

If you come to Cincinnati or already live here I highly recommend this place. There is a variety of events and beer tastings to attend here and it's right in the heart of Cincinnati. They capture the spirit of Cincinnati within their menu including pretzels with beer cheese, hot metts, and many other delicious German food options. However if you are not in the mood for German they do have a paella and hamburgers. I really liked it here we did make reservations but were about 45 minutes early and STARVING!! The place was packed but we managed to get a seat at the bar I noticed they had booths with views of the river but I was more concerned with the food. Jay had the dark lager while I had an IPA both draft and we were happy! The service was decent here it wasn't the best but it wasn't bad. Since we sat at the bar we had a quite a few people waiting on us which got confusing because one of the bartenders told us he couldn't help us. Other than that no complaints. I would love to come back here great food and great atmosphere.

I ordered the pretzels right off the bat who can resist the beer cheese!! So fluffy and warm I was happy with this menu item for sure. There was also a spicy grain mustard too but I didn't even try it!

We also got this meat and cheese platter they offer you can choose from like 5 cheeses and 5 meats. Then it automatically comes with saurkraut, pickles, and bread. I really liked this menu item, Jay and I like to just eat slowly and enjoy a nice pairing with beer so this was perfect! We got hot metts, and some kind of ham. Then the solid beer cheese and fresh mozzarella (my fave.)
Below is the corn chowder soup we ordered just a cup but it was COLD good flavor but COLD. No one likes cold soup! I was going to send it back but seeing as how it was only $3.00 and we had already ate alot we just pushed through the meal! 
Finale!!! Below is a picture of our filet with cheddar mashed potatoes. In addition to that is a side of asparagus, angry mac n' cheese with hot metts. (the mac n' cheese was amazing!) Mashed potatoes were gummy, dry, and overcooked. Steak was cooked to temp and the little shallots around it were tasty. I wish they put some parsley on the plate or something to make it look more appealing 0 points for presentation on this dish. 

That concludes my review for the Moerlein Lager House I would recommend anyone to go here. We got good service, good beer, good food at a decent price. You can't beat that. Just don't order the soup and you'll be fine ;) 

Schramsberg is very well known in Napa Valley and Calistoga, it is one of the oldest sparkling wineries in the area. Schramsberg has also played a role in world history. The Blanc de Blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China. Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since. Bottom line is that it's really really really good. I love it here the atmosphere is great and you just feel like apart of their story being there. Wine club members can stop by anytime for a complementary tasting in the wine caves consisting of $100 + bottles. Everywhere you turn there is history and insanely old bottles of champagne.

We decided to open this bottle on New Year's because it came in our wine club shipment. We decided the 04' would have a richer nutter flavor than the 05 and I think were right. I tend to enjoy the nuttier more complex flavor champagne they just happen to be most expensive. It runs $110 while I did enjoy it they have another bottle for the same price that I enjoy more. I would never buy this expensive of a bottle if I didn't know I already liked it. (ignore the 2012 glasses) We like our glassware cheap and our wine expensive!! Got those glasses at Krogers!! haha

The cave tasting

UPDATE: 11/26/2013- I have been collecting corks this past year to make this project. Those cork Christmas wreaths seemed a little too ambitious for me since I don't have any experience in "cork art."  I am not finished yet but wanted to post my progress as the holiday approaches.
Basically you just need a hot glue gun, a bunch of glue sticks (I probably used over 15 sticks for this size,) a bunch of corks (make sure you count them before you start gluing.) So you start with the middle line in this picture I believe it is 15-16 corks wide. The ones directly below and above are just one cork short creating the tree effect. After I finished gluing all the rows I glued the rows together. Some of them I had to break in half and glue half on at a time because the glue was drying before I could get more out!! The synthetic corks did ok gluing to each other but kept falling apart when I tried to mix them with the real corks. I glued these with mostly the red color sticking out on one side to give me sort of a blank canvas on the other side. I am considering painting the other side with red, gold, and green paints. I think for the purple side I will add some crystals to certain corks as "ornaments" and maybe a festive colored bow on top!

The bottom line about this project: It was easy but as I was doing it I was afraid I didn't have enough corks! Get a lot of glue sticks and maybe wear a glove or rubber thimble. Making a tree at this size made my thumb blister using this little hot glue gun I have. I love the outcome!! It is a great Christmas or possible year round decoration!! I am making mini versions as ornaments to give as gifts!! Very personal and cheap!! I like cheap!!

Cork Christmas tree decoration! 

More fun cork crafts!! This year I am doing christmas on a budget. While I might have might the giant christmas tree for  myself I was able to put together something fun and mini to give out to everyone!! So far I've had a great response from these mini cork tree ornaments. People like having something handmade and meaningful for their tree! I've even got some requests to make them for purchase!! So fab!!

So these are really easy to make. For 1 cork tree you will need..

  • 14 real cork corks. 
  • Red, Green, and Gold paint (acrylic) 
  • A few rhinestones, sequins, or shiny objects that could be glued on for oranments (optional)
  • Some kind of thin ribbon to glue on to hang the trees. 
  • Hot glue gun and extra sticks
Start by gluing together corks, you will need 2 rows of 3 corks, 1 row of 4 and 1 row of 2. Glue them on top of each other in this order from the bottom up, 3 corks, 4 corks, 3 corks, 2 corks. Glue one cork on the bottom as the "tree trunk." Glue a ribbon loop with the tied side at the bottom on top of the row of 2 corks then glue 1 cork on top of that as the star. Doing it this way will ensure the ornaments life as an ornament because the ribbon will be extra enforced. Then you can paint as you like. This could be a fun activity to do with kids as it's practically free and memorable. The corks I used on this tree came from a winery we went to in Israel so it's almost like a free souvenir from the Holy Land!!

(Better photos to come)

Where do I get corks? 
-First of all don't buy them..
-Check any local restaurants that serve wine and ask the bartender if they can keep corks for a week or 2 and then you can come pick them up.
-Anywhere that does wine tastings you can do the same thing. Grocery stores, wine shops, and even liquor stores.
-If you go to a winery.. beg them for all the corks you can get out of them. This is usually where I get my mother load. I tell them that I make really cool cork crafts and they just give me a garbage bag worth.
-Save every single cork from wine that you drink..or if you know a friend who drinks a lot of wine ask them to save them for you as well.
-If you are still having trouble try emailing some wineries they will ship them if you pay the handling and it's much cheaper than buying them on ebay or at Michaels!!

I spend a lot of time on maybe too much time. It takes time and dedication to weed through all of the so-so links and things that actually work! One of my favorite things to do every holiday is to pick out some fun new crafts or recipes to do. Since this is a food blog I will be posting about some of the things I cooked. Although I forgot to take pictures of some things I have some great things to show you!

I couldn't find the link for this but I remembered seeing a picture of a snowman pizza and thought Hmmm... I could do that!! So guess what I DID IT!! Super simple and super cute I can't wait to make fun shapes or faces with pizzas in the future. All I had to do for this was buy a small pack of pizza crust (I got about 4 servings out of this enough for Jay and I), a can of pizza sauce, and some black olives. Then I just got creative!! My boyfriend had some leftover peppers in the fridge so I used that for the face and of course he wanted pepperonis so I made sure to put them under the sauce so it didn't ruin my masterpiece! The dough was really pliable and easy to shape. I have made a lot of questionable pizza dough from scratch before so I decided to go with the package stuff this time and it worked in my favor.

SO excited for the next holidays I want to make an Easter Egg pizza!!

The next thing I made I was hesitant about. I don't know why I didn't think it was going to work but I just had no faith in this. These peppermint plates are basically like the coolest thing ever!! We had went to a few grocery places to find the green ones. Pretty much all you do is unwrap them, lay them out close to each other and bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes or until you have your desired look. I found websites that used it with parchment or wax paper. Personally I am more in favor of the wax paper because after the plates cool you can peel it off and they are not sticky on the bottom from the wax. Where as the parchment paper they are really sticky on the bottom. My friend Lucy and I tried to make these swirly green cookies to put on the plates but they didn't come out that great so I will just post a pic no recipe. 

I had limited greens available so the idea is for them to be like ornaments. I made circle ones later too will post pictures if I can find them.   

See the cookies are dry and cracked!! They were OK but I would not recommend this recipe we improvised a little and probably used too much flour when rolling. So I made some regular Christmas cookies and iced them with Jay! :) 
Here are a few these are WAY more entertaining right?

This is my christmas tree on a budget. My large lavish tree is stuck upstairs in the garage attic and I cannot get up there at this time. I found a cheap fake tree we used to use when we were kids and found some random things around the house to make it festive!! Get creative!! I've got a poinsetta hair flower at the top, an old discolored bow I found in the garage, some ruffle trim I was going to use to line a pillow case, some sparkly fabric I found in my fabric drawer, a silver glitter leaf thing I found in my sisters room, some discounted christmas ribbon I found in my ribbon box, and ornaments from a box in the basement left from my ex-step mom! Practically free christmas tree!! I'm happy!! Oh an in the bottom right corner there is a DIY hot glue snow flake ornament that isn't finished yet!! I kind of like it plain though?