Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kansas City, "City of Fountains"

Every year I go to Kansas City, the "City of Fountains", to visit family. Did you know that Kansas City has the second most fountains in the world? It is second to Rome which I find just fascinating. Anyways, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite restaurants that I just discovered on my most recent visit there.

I recommend SPIN Pizza for a casual lunch or dinner. This place knows how to make neapolitan pizzas and this is a great addition to the Kansas City dining scene. Also, do not miss the spinach salad here!
 This pizza was heavenly filled with roasted garlic and crispy spinach leaves!
Another great lunch spot that happens to be a chain is Dean and Deluca. I find it surprising that they have a location in Kansas City and not anywhere in Texas. Anyways, get their tuna sandwich on kalamata olive bread. This is seriously some of the best tuna I have ever had. Keep in mind that the portion sizes are huge so you really only need to order half a sandwich.
For a nicer dinner, Gram and Dun is one of the hottest restaurants to try right now. The only downside to this restaurant is that it is very difficult to have a conversation because it is so noisy here. Anyways,  we started with the french onion dumplings which were absolutely delicious. 
Other appetizers that were noteworthy were the shishito peppers and the "not so standard" potato chips. As for entrees, you can't go wrong with any of them. I had the scallops served with blackened cauliflower and I savored every bite. My cousin got the chicken sandwich and my grandmother got pork chops. We all left here very satisfied. This is one of the few places in Kansas City that you need a reservation even for 2 people so plan ahead or expect to wait.
Of course Kansas City is renown for their BBQ but I refused to eat any BBQ on my most recent trip there. There are so many BBQ places in Kansas City that it is hard to single out a few. I will say that my dad loves Gates BBQ for a no thrills place and you can't go wrong with Jack Stack for a fancier bbq dinner.

Lastly, the shopping in Kansas City is not that impressive. However, I do have a favorite boutique that I always go to. Standard Style has the latest trends in fashion and I can always walk out of there with something I could not find here in Texas.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I went to Kansas City this past week and my trip was not complete without a stop at Trader Joe's! My grandma introduced me to this amazing "chip and dip" combo. I am obsessed. The only problem is that Trader Joe's has not opened yet here in Texas. I am seriously considering contacting Trader Joe's to send me a box of these sea salt and pepper crisps. They are low calorie, 38 crisps for 120 calories, and low fat. I do not know how to describe this dip other than it is amazing and it reminds me of spinach artichoke dip. 

Anyone that has a Trader Joe's in their city better run and get this (if you have not already discovered this)!!! 

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Watermelon, Feta and Mint Appetizer

Happy Memorial Day!

This is the easiest and most refreshing appetizer to make. This would be great for a summer BBQ or if you need something to throw together in minutes!

Watermelon (buy personal size, if available)
Feta cheese block, cut into squares (do not use the reduced-fat feta cheese if you are serving these at a party)
Fresh mint
Slice your watermelon in half lengthwise. 
Then slice into quarters. Using a sharp pairing knife, remove the watermelon from the skin.
Cut your watermelon into cubes.
Top each watermelon cube with feta cheese.
Finally, finish your appetizer off with a tiny sliver of mint and secure with a toothpick.
***You only want to use a sliver of mint (not the entire leaf) otherwise the mint will overpower the entire concoction. I made this mistake and had to redo everything.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pears with Goat Cheese and Cranberries

I love a good appetizer especially when you can throw it together in minutes! This is easy and quite delicious. It would be hard to fill up on these which is why I like them so much. I feel like I always stuff myself with appetizers and then I am not hungry for dinner.
Adapted from Sweet Potato Chronicles
2 pears, cored and cut into two dozen slices
1/2 cup goat cheese
2 tablespoons pistachio pieces
2 tablespoons cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Core pears and cut into slices. 
Toss in lemon juice to keep from browning.
Spread cheese on the widest part of the pear slice and then shower the cheese with dried cranberries and pistachio pieces.
Arrange on a platter and serve.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Arugula, Watermelon and Parmesan Salad

You have to make this refreshing summer salad! We paired this salad with our turkey burgers and the entire meal was delightful.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Seedless watermelon, diced
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese
Place the arugula and watermelon in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 
***Pour enough salad dressing on the arugula to moisten and toss well.
With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, shave the parmesan into ribbons and spread on top of the arugula and watermelon. 
Sprinkle with salt and serve.
***For two people, divide a handful of arugula and watermelon between two plates. Then, add a spoonful of dressing to each salad and top with parmesan. Making your salad this way will ensure you do not have soggy leftovers and you can make a fresh salad the next day with the leftover dressing. Pin It

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Greek Turkey Burgers

I used to be grossed out by turkey burgers and I have no explanation why. This all changed a few months ago when I had my first turkey burger! My mom gave me this recipe and I have to say I am officially in love with turkey burgers. Often times, turkey burgers can be very bland but this recipe has the right amount of seasonings to make it flavorful yet very satisfying (and extremely healthy too)!
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups chopped spinach
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of reduced-fat or fat-free feta cheese
Hamburger buns or iceberg lettuce wraps
Dice your red onion and spinach leaves.
Bring a large skillet with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to medium-high heat on the stove. Add the onion and garlic, stirring often, and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
Add spinach to the skillet with onion and garlic. Cook until spinach has wilted and the excess moisture has evaporated.
Remove skillet from the heat. Once cool enough, carefully blot away any excess moisture from the onion-spinach mixture with paper towels. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine turkey, egg whites, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix well. Add cooked veggies and feta cheese to the bowl. Once again, use your hands and mix until uniform.
Evenly divide turkey mixture and firmly form into paddies. Cover and refrigerate if not cooking immediately.
***The mixture may be runny but do your best to form the patties.
Bring a grill or skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Add patties, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes per side, until cooked through. If using a skillet, work in batches, removing skillet from heat between batches to re-spray. Don't worry if your lid is not a perfect fit when covering!
Eat your patties with a knife and fork or, if you would like, wrap them in some lettuce leaves with onion and tomato.
I prefer making an old-fashioned burger with a bun!

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Roasted Cabbage with Lemon

I am a huge cabbage fan but it is an acquired taste. I have been trying to convince my mom it is good but she still refuses to eat it. My grandma used to cook me boiled cabbage which was delicious but I think roasting is my new favorite way to cook it. Boiled cabbage can be rather bland and you will find quite the opposite when you roast it!
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
1 medium-sized head of green cabbage
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Generous amount of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Lemon slices, for serving cabbage
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a roasting pan with non-stick spray (PAM).
Cut the head of the cabbage into 8 same-size wedges, cutting through the core and stem end. 
Then cut each half into quarters.
Then, cut eat 4th into 8th's, carefully trimming the core strip and stem from each wedge. Arrange wedges in a single layer on a roasting pan. Leave as much room as you can between the wedges.
Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Use a pastry brush to brush each side of the cabbage with the mixture and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Roast cabbage for about 15 minutes or until the side touching the pan is nicely browned. Then turn each wedge carefully and roast 10-15 minutes more, until the cabbage is nicely brown and cooked through with a bit of chewiness remaining.
Serve hot.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Golden Bronze Chicken

This chicken marinade is a winner. It comes from the same cookbook that my other favorite marinade came from. Both are great and you can't go wrong with either. The main difference between the two is the marinade time. This marinade only needs 4-6 hours while the other needs overnight. Feel free to make this marinade the day before but do not soak the chicken overnight. The liquid smoke is too overpowering and will affect the flavor of your chicken if marinated for too long.
3 or 4 chicken breasts (bone-in)
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
I like to pound my chicken because it allows the chicken to took cook faster and more evenly through.
Then, in a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients. Place chicken breasts in a large ziplock bag and pour in marinade. Let sit for 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
Grill over medium heat until juices are clear. We cooked our chicken for 6-7 minutes on each side but your time may vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Smoked Turkey, Pepper Jack Cheese and Basil Panini

I figured I would spice up our everyday turkey sandwich with some basil. It turned out to be a great combination. I swear every sandwich tastes better when made on a panini press.
Adapted from Salad in a Jar
Smoked Turkey
Pepper Jack Cheese, thinly sliced
Tomato, thinly sliced
Fresh Basil Leaves, whole
Olive Oil
2 slices of ciabatta or sourdough bread
Preheat your panini press.
Scoop out the inside of the top half of the bread, if using ciabatta.
Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil.
Layer your turkey, cheese, basil and tomatoes on the bottom half of the bread and top with other half.
Cook on a panini grill on high until cheese melts and bread is golden brown and toasty.
It was surprising to me that this sandwich did not need any condiments like mayonnaise but I am sure it would have tasted just as good if you used some. I'll leave that up to you!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guiltless Butterfinger Pie

Who knew you could make a pie with butterfinger and it could still be healthy? When I say it is healthy, I mean it is low fat and low calorie and you can satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling guilty! If you cannot tell from my previous recipes, I am obsessed with fat-free whipped topping. It has been the base of the last few pies I have made!
Reduced-fat graham cracker crust
1 tub (8 ounces) fat-free whipped topping, thawed
1 Butterfinger candy bar (don't be fooled by the two in the picture)
Hershey's light chocolate syrup
Smucker's sugar-free caramel topping
Crush your butterfinger bar into pieces. I chose to to put the candy bar in a ziplock bag and hammer it into pieces.
Pour half of your crumbled butterfinger pieces into the container of whipped topping and stir.
Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped topping mixture into the pie crust.
Now it's time for the fun part! Use your bottles of chocolate syrup and caramel topping and make a checkerboard design starting with the caramel topping first and finishing with the chocolate syrup.
 Lastly, top your pie with the remaining crumbled butterfinger.
Freeze your pie for at least 4 hours and enjoy!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Roundup

This was a busy weekend for me! I was in one of my best friend's wedding, my sister-in-law got engaged, and we celebrated Mother's Day with family! I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite things from the weekend.

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the wedding but I took a picture of this "prop" which I think is absolutely adorable for an outside wedding. I loved that guests did not have to choose to sit on the "Bride" or "Groom" side and everyone could sit where they wanted.

I am obsessed with this ring cleaner. If you know someone who recently got engaged, this would be a great gift. My sister-in-law was just asking how to clean her ring and I really like this cleaner. It is called Something New. Another great cleaner that I use is Lady Geneva which my mom got for me at the State Fair of Texas but you can get it online as well.

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