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!