Monday, October 25, 2010

Trick AND Treat

Vogue and Cosmopolitan don't seem to speak to me. Food & Wine however, bellows out my name.

I'm a proud subscriber to and follower of just about every food magazine and web site out there. Half of the time I'm looking for ideas...the other half I just like looking at the pretty pictures of food.

Now, I don't always end up finding something new and interesting, or for that matter even appealing. But when I do, I get excited about it. And when Nick will no longer listen to my incessant ramblings about it I blog.

This latest find was so intriguing that I took it to a recent Halloween party and it was as big a hit as I hoped...even bigger in fact.

Still looking for something to take to YOUR Halloween party? Give these fake-out sushi treats a try. They're made of candy...they look like sushi...and they're as much of a trick as they are a treat.
Candy Sushi::

3 tbs. butter
40 regular size marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 package Swedish Fish (2 packages if you like to snack while you work)
1 package Gummy Worms (2 packages if you like to snack while you don't work)
2 boxes Fruit By The Foot (should only need one and a half...munch on the rest when you get
sick of Swedish Fish and Gummy Worms)

This is easy as pie. First make a regular old batch of Rice Krispies Treats by melting the butter and marshmallows together in a large pot over medium heat. When they're completely melted remove from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies.

1.) For the "sushi" rolls...

Take half of the Rice Krispies mix and spread it out in a thin layer on a greased baking sheet. You may need two sheets depending on their size. Be sure to push the layer evenly all over and try to get it as thin as possible.

Next, starting at the end of the sheet tray closest to you, lay bundles of 2-3 worms head to tail the entire width of the pan. Take the edge of the Krispies and roll them over until they completely encase the worms. Squeeze the roll tightly with your hands and cut the roll away from the rest of the sheet of treats. Continue rolling the worms in the treats until the sheet pan is used up. **I should have taken pictures of this process but didn' is my artist's rendering of how the sheet pan and worms should be placed...I'm talented aren't I!?!**

Once you've finished rolling your logs and cutting them out of the pan, measure the width of your fruit strips and cut each long into rolls the same width. Then wrap the fruit strips around each roll and cut to size. The fruit strips will stick to each other so simply press firmly where they ends of the strips meet to seal.

Place the rolls on their back and you've got "sushi" rolls that even the pickiest eater will love!

2.) For the nigiri type "sushi"...

Take half of the Krispies mix and while still warm shape small bits into ovals. To keep it from sticking to your hands grease them (I rubbed mine with butter...yummy!). Once all of the ovals are formed simply press a Swedish Fish on top of each one. Then to secure the fish wrap a fruit strip (cut lengthwise down the center) around each piece and secure the strip at the bottom.

If the nigiri tend to fall over simply push them down rather firmly onto their serving tray and they should get a bit of a flat bottom.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sweet - The Bakery at Sullivan University

The hubby has a sweet tooth.

If it were up to me dessert would be cheese and a glass of bourbon. Actually...DINNER would be cheese and a glass of bourbon. But Nick is a sucker for a little something sweet after our meal so I try my best to accommodate.

Now, not only is it tough to make single serving desserts by yourself, but it's even tougher to make them when you're just about the worst baker known to me. My repertoire is limited to things made with store bought frozen puff pastry, chocolate chip cookies and the occasional fruit tart. Cakes, pies, brownies or basically anything that could fail to rise and/or stick to the inside of the baking container and come out looking like the dog's dinner is wayyyyyy out of my league.

All that being said, Nick eats a lot of the same thing for dessert. Or, at least he USED to!

Now that I've discovered the Bakery at Sullivan University's pastry school while on my way home from the gym one day (seems counter productive huh?) he's living high on the hog. This place is great. Basically the pastry school students bake things for their courses, then they sell the finished product in the shop. The website says that it's the "last stop" for the students so I believe working there is like their senior thesis. Also, the "last stop" thing assures you that you're buying from an experienced baker and not someone like me(where "last stop" would mean the last stop before the trash). Everything is reasonably priced and there's a variety of sweet treats that you can buy a la carte so it's perfect for a single serving dessert any night of the week!

You can eat-in (they've got a cute little cafe) or take-out. But either way, you get to sneak a peek at the students in action through some glass viewing windows in the shop.

So far I've purchased a cannoli, a mini pumpkin cheesecake, jalapeno cheddar bread and a really cool cherry filled monkey-bread-like-thing.

All the treats were, well, a treat! Nick was pleased with all but the bread which he thought was on the dry side (I agree).

So next time you feel like treating yourself head over to the bakery at Sullivan University. For around two bucks you can satisfy your sweet tooth and your wallet to boot.

The Bakery at Sullivan University
3100 Bardstown Rd. Louisville, KY 40205
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday:
7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Dish On Market - Belly pleasing breakfast that won't break the bank

Ahhhh breakfast...the most important meal of my day...two days a week.

I'm not a big breakfast person on weekdays. Perhaps I'll grab an apple or grab a spoon full of cottage cheese straight out of the container, but that's about it. Weekends, however?? Now that's a whole other story.

When I plan our weekend activities they always start with breakfast. After a good breakfast the rest of the day falls effortlessly into place.

So where to eat, where to eat? In my opinion there are two types of breakfast joints...Greasy spoons where you order the fry up breakfast (2 eggs, grits or hash browns, meat of your choice and toast) and pay a low price for back to basics grub...Or the "brunch" joints where you order creative concoctions that bridge the gap between breakfast and, well, everything else, and pay the typically high price for their inventive eats.

This weekend Nick and I might have just found the missing link in the battle for breakfast. A brunch-type menu with a greasy-spoon price tag. Behold, Dish On Market.

Now, this place is a bit of an anomaly. It's open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and happy hour (which I don't think I've ever encountered before). The interior is inviting with lots of wood and tall ceilings, and it honestly makes you expect higher prices than you'll actually find.

We were the only folks in there last weekend when we arrived at 9:30 on a Saturday(it must be noted that 9:30 is early, early, early for us on weekends...this may or may not have been our oh-so-happy-and-want-to-play-right-now dog's fault). However, after 20 mins or so the place slowly began to fill up.

We perused the menu the day before and had pretty much picked out our favorites already. Nick ordered the Steak and Eggs. I ordered the Smoked Salmon Hash.

Nick's steak(pic at top of page) was actually a braised short rib over home fries, topped with an egg and served with a side of horseradish cream. The short ribs were fall off the bone tender and there was even a bit of rich and flavorful red wine reduction drizzled around the bottom of the plate. This is exactly the kind of breakfast fare I flavors...savory ingredients...yummy, yummy, yummy.

My Smoked Salmon Hash was a traditional potato hash with peppers, onions and tomatoes, topped with some lovely smoked salmon and two eggs (I ordered them over medium as always). I've been known to eat my weight in smoked salmon so I was happy to see this on the menu. It too was a savory and rich dish. The egg yolks broke over the hash and coated it in a creamy sauce...the smoked salmon added a salty, smokey element and the potatoes were there to hold it all together.

Our waiter (I think his name was AJ) was fantastic. I don't usually remember waiters names but every once in a while they're so polite and attentive that I in point.

We did encounter a few little hiccups.

Both of us found small pockets of over salted potatoes every once in a while but it wasn't enough to really make any fuss over.

Also, it must be noted that the price for both of our dishes was listed at $5.75 online, however the menus we were given in the restaurant had them listed at around $2 more, making them around $7.25 instead. I'm not sure if this is a weekend price or if they just needed to raise the cost because of the ingredients, but I'm not a big fan of a surprise price change. It also must be noted, however, that $7.25 is still one hell of a deal for braised short ribs, potatoes, an egg and horseradish cream. I mean, truly a great deal, so it didn't really bother us all that much.

A few years ago Nick and I spent a small fortune on brunch at the famed Commander's Palace in New Orleans. It was the best brunch of my life and one of the top 10 meals of my life as well. I mention this because there is a time and a place to spend a boat load of money on breakfast.

Sometimes I feel as though restaurants(like Lynn's Paradise Cafe...I mean...there's a reason they don't list their prices on their web site) try to overcharge you for a meal that should be fun, enjoyable and affordable.

It seems to me that Dish On Market is giving Louisville bang for their breakfast buck, and that should be applauded.

When next weekend comes and you can't decide between that cheap breakfast fry-up or the pricey brunch, relax and remember there's a third option...Dish On Market will be happy they could help.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vietnam Kitchen - Noodle Soup...Just Like Your Grandmother Never Made...In A Good Way

Me: "Ahh, Pho for lunch again?"

Nick: "How did you know?"

Me: "Elementary my dear you've still got half of it on your shirt."

Pho is, without a doubt, one of Nick's favorite meals of all time. He would eat bowl after bowl of it for lunch when we lived in Philly...and then would come home wearing half of it on his shirt. I always knew when he had Pho for lunch.

In case you aren't a Pho Junkie or haven't run across it in your travels, Pho is a Vietnamese noodle bowl.

It's the most complex simple dish I've ever run across. At it's most basic it's just noodles in broth with your choice of protein...raw beef, cooked beef, tendon, etc. But it's really so much more than that.

The broth must be rich in flavor but light in regard to everything else. The proteins should add substance and some flavor but most importantly I think they add texture. Then you spice it up with some Sriraccha sauce and perhaps some chili paste. Throw in some fresh bean sprouts, jalapenos and thai basil for freshness and you've got a one-bowl-wonder of a meal.

Apparently Vietnam Kitchen is no secret here in Louisville because it was packed when we arrive. Much like every other restaurant I've visited that served Pho, Vietnam Kitchen was simple yet homey. Three cramped rows of tables, each piled with spicy condiments, chopsticks and spoons just begging to be dipped in a delicious bowl of Pho.

We seated ourselves and ordered two very inexpensive beers (cheap beer is always a good thing), as well as an order of pork and shrimp dumplings to start.

The dumplings were very flavorful, steamed to perfection and served on a pool of somewhat spicy and very rich sauce. I was expecting an enclosed dumpling but was surprised and pleased to see that it more closely resembled a shu mai type dumpling. They were substantial in size and for $3 were a welcome appetizer. We're off to a fantastic start!

For our mains we ordered Pho and Bun (pronounce "fuh" and "boon" respectively). Nick ordered the Pho with beef and tendon (he loves him some tendon) and I ordered the Bun.

Nick's Pho (pictured at top of page) was just as he'd hoped. A rich broth, flavorful beef and that delicious bite you get from the tendon. The noodles were of good quality as well.

Bun comes in many varieties and I ordered the Bun Thit Nuong, which is Vermicelli noodles mixed with an array of fresh vegetables (cucumber, cilantro, mint, etc.) and topped with char grilled pork and cut up spring rolls.

The pork on my Bun was smokey and delicious (the char really makes all the difference when ordering this dish). The vegetables and fish sauce added wonderful freshness and the portion was ample. The only thing I was somewhat disappointed with were my spring rolls. They were lacking in flavor and substance, but at least they were crispy.

After filling our bellies with cold beer and hot noodles we paid our very reasonable bill and left satisfied. We found comfort in the fact that we could find THIS comfort food in our new town. **P.S. Next stop is Pho Binh Minh for Banh Mi!! (Vietnamese sandwiches...I'll let you know if they're as good as the ones I've had in the past)**

Wherever I go I recommend that people broaden their culinary horizons by trying new cuisines. This is your chance folks. Head over to Vietnam Kitchen for a taste of something wonderful. I guarantee you'll be back for seconds.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Go for the pumpkins...stay for the brandy

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The air is becoming crisp and cool (or at least should be), the leaves on the trees are bursting with color and apples (I eat an apple a day in the fall...with a side of cheese of course!) are a dime a dozen. Mums are everywhere and every time I see one I think of our backyard wedding in Virginia (mums were cheap and in season, and so were our flower of choice). And last but not least, pumpkin patches are bursting with bright orange gourds just waiting to be carved!

I'd have to say that carving a pumpkin (and then subsequently gorging myself on roasted pumpkin seeds) is my favorite part of the Halloween season. I can take or leave the costume part, but there's something enchanting about carving and then illuminating a pumpkin. I simply love it.

Now, it should be mentioned that I probably shouldn't be allowed to carve my own pumpkin anymore. I've had some unfortunate run-ins with knives over the years, and one in particular that sticks out in my mind involves a pumpkin, a carving knife and a puncture wound through the top of my hand. But I recovered and obviously didn't learn a damn thing from that experience because I can't wait to start carving the pumpkin we picked out last weekend!

Looking for a great spot to pick your own pumpkin (with a side of fall fun...and a lot of it)? You've got to check this place out... Joe Huber's

Just over the river in Indiana is a fall wonderland. Want to go on a hayride? How about a corn maze? Perhaps you're looking to pick some apples? Or maybe you're looking to do some wine tasting? All these things and more can be had at Joe Huber's...that is, if you're willing to share the place with about all of Kentuckiana (it was PACKED!).

Honestly? This place has it all. It's a one stop shop fall day trip for the whole family. And even if you don't have kids you can still enjoy the hell out of this place...because they have a winery.

We returned from Joe Huber's with a perfectly round pumpkin, a bag of apples, a slab of fat-back (they had a cured meat and cheese case...I just had to!) and a bottle of Apple Jack brandy.

We haven't carved the pumpkin yet or broken into the fat-back, but I can tell you honestly, the brandy is mighty nice.

They had a large selection of wines, apple spiced wines, brandies and such but we chose the Apple Jack because it was apple brandy that was aged in charred oak barrels...think apple bourbon.

Nick tried mixing it into a few concoctions last night but I think the winner was the apple jack with Ale-8-1 soda (which we just recently discovered I might add). The apple and the ginger married perfectly and made a lovely cocktail. We haven't come up with a name yet (I leave that to the hubby) but when we do I'll be sure to post it. I mean, if it turns out to be the next cosmopolitan or seven and seven, it's going to need a catchy name!
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Friday, October 8, 2010

What a deal. I mean what-a-deal!

I know I haven't done a travel post in a while. Honestly, most of the traveling we've been doing lately has been of the moving variety. But all that's about to change.

Fall through spring tend to be our big travel months. We take a week trip in the fall, a 4 day trip for New Year's, and another week in the dead of winter (to warm up of course). Then there's always the odd long weekend peppered in here and there.

Our fall trip this year is to Belgium and The Netherlands and it's rapidly approaching. I just booked our hotel for Brussels and I simply had to share it with you. I got some kind of deal on our room, and you can too! So here's another refresher course on how to travel cheap...courtesy of the most frugal traveler!

I've posted these tips in the past but it's never a bad idea to get a refresher course on bidding for travel, so here we go!


Airfare is the only thing you can never really get a great deal on. It IS possible to bid for it but the rules state that they can put you on just about any flight in a 24 hour period with layover times as long as 5 hours. No thank you. I'm willing to give up some control over my hotel room but keep your hands off my flight plans.

I always use Kayak to search for flights. It searches the search engines. It's the best. It's a one stop shop for flights and will always find you the best deal.


Now here is where you can save a boatload of money, and trust me, I do. Bidding for your hotel room on PriceLine is the only way to go if you ask me. Not 10 minutes ago I won a bid for a 4 star hotel room in the center of Brussels for, get this, $45 a night!!! 45 dollars, not euros...a night!!! Why wouldn't you do this!?!?

Now I've got my sights on a hotel in Amsterdam for $65 a night. It's a bit pricier but it is a more well known city and that makes a difference. Here's how I do it.....

Step 1.) Go to

Bidding for travel is a huge bulletin board where people post their winning bids, failed bids and hotel specifics. When you bid on Priceline all you get do do is choose the area and the star rating...the rest is up to chance. But if you read posts on bidding for travel you can narrow down which hotels you might get. I knew it would be one of two and I was right.

Step 2.) Bid on

Priceline only allows you to bid one time per star rating in a 24 hour period. Yesterday I tried to get a room for $40 in Brussels and lost, so today I raised my bid by $5 and won. Sometimes you can even get lucky by just re-bidding the same thing the next day. The closer it gets to your travel date the better your chances are because hotels want to sell unsold rooms for whatever they can get. It's better than nothing at all right!

Now, all sales are final. They charge your card the minute a bid is accepted and you have no idea what hotel you're getting until after they charge your card, but a 4 star hotel is a 4 star hotel wherever you go so you really can't go wrong.

Think you can't afford to go away for New Year's eve? Or maybe you're just looking for a weekend away (Nick and I are thinking of doing a weekend in Nashville soon). Please, pretty please give Priceline a try. If you're a little scared about the whole not-knowing-which-hotel thing then start small. Just bid for a weekend getaway somewhere close. I promise you'll be hooked. I am!

I know I sound like a walking advertisement (unpaid of course) for Priceline but that's because I've never, ever had a problem with them and they've allowed Nick and I to spend the money we save on more important things...drinks are on us!
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weekend activities..."Thank You Louisville, Love, Jessica"

Dear Louisville, Thank you. Thank you for all of the festivals, gatherings, concerts and such. Thank you for all of the recreational opportunities. Thank you for making so many of them free, and all of them cheap. Lots of love, Jessica

If the weekend comes and the hubby gets bored, god help us all. Practical jokes get pulled. Exorbitantly expensive computer games get bought. The dog gets so much attention that she passes out for the day around noon.

Since we've moved to Louisville and been busy every weekend, life has been good.

Have someone with ants in his/her pants in your household? Here are a few things happening this weekend that caught my interest::::

The Louisville Cardinals' Homecoming

I've never really gotten into college football, mainly because the university I went to didn't even have a football team, but "when in Rome!". So we're fixin' to go to the Cardinals' homecoming game this weekend. They serve beer there right????

The Garvin Gate Blues Fest

I'm no stranger to music festivals. I've been going to them since I was a youngin'. Here's some photographic evidence (yes...I was that darn cute).

Even if you don't like blues (and I mean come on...who doesn't like blues!) it's free, so why not make an appearance.

Maker's Mark Six Year Anniversary

My mama is the queen of coupons and good deals. When I was a kid she used to use coupons and radio contest winnings to treat the family to some amazing times.

When Nick and I moved to Philadelphia she found this web-site that offers fantastic discount coupons for fine dining restaurants and sent us a welcome package of them. She did the same thing when we moved to Louisville and it was thanks to her that we found (and LOVED) Lilly's. In that same package was a coupon for the Maker's Mark Lounge downtown.

Nick and I haven't ventured there yet as the prices seem a bit high, and sometimes we can be a bit frugal. Today, however, I read that they're having their six year anniversary and using it to raise money for the Susan G Komen organization that's working to find a cure for breast cancer.

My mama had breast cancer years ago, and is happy and healthy today. As much of a cheapskate as I can be at times I think there are some things worth spending money on. This happens to be one of them.

So consider heading over to the Maker's Mark Lounge this weekend. Not only can you enjoy some damn good bourbon...but you can also contribute to a damn fine cause. I can certainly drink to that.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hillbilly Cafe - The food here is anything but backwoods

The term "hillbilly" conjurers images of toothless rednecks in overalls...think Cletus from The Simpsons (by the way...the hubby does and excellent Cletus...cute and disturbing all at the same time). But for me it also conjures images of fun times and excellent food.

I've personally been to many a hillbilly party in my day. I've been to pig pickin's so far in the middle of nowhere that the damn radio doesn't work. And Nick and I have even shared a bowl of beer with some fine locals while camping in the woods of West Virginia (they forgot to bring cups but kindly offered us bowls of beer...who were we to refuse!?).

As much as I love haute cuisine, I appreciate rustic cooking much, much more. Making delicious meals out of simple ingredients is a tale as old as time and I really believe it's the mark of a truly talented in point...Chef Apri of Hillbilly Cafe.

Nick and I put off dining at the Hillbilly Cafe for a few weeks because a place that serves tea instead of booze didn't quite sound like our idea of a Friday night out. Boy were we wrong.

We arrived at Hillbilly Tea around 6:15 last Friday night. Located in a cute and unassuming storefront downtown, with a downright charming decor inside, the restaurant immediately makes you feel welcomed and comfortable. Once you open the menu, peruse the dishes, then glance at the amazing prices, you feel more than feel downright at home.

We perused the tea menu and decided on one of their many flavors of iced tea (which are delightfully displayed along the wall), Big Earl's. We shared a quart of it and at $2.75 it was a refreshing (and high quality to boot) beverage for a fraction of the cost of my typical martini. The waitress brought us our tea and some deliciously flaky biscuits and we were off and running.

We perused the menu and I realized that during lunch they offer things a la carte, but in the evening they put together "Tea Dinners". For the low, low price of $15 we each chose a salad or soup, an entree, two sides and they threw in some corn pone because what's a hillbilly meal without it!

Now, I know what you're probably thinking...offering a soup or salad and letting you choose your sides is more Blue Plate Special and less highfalutin cuisine. Nothing could be further from the truth here.

The salad that evening was sorghum roasted squash(who knew sorghum was so good!) with arugula, walnuts, some amazing (really really good) goat cheese and the most lovely sweet vinaigrette. I would order that salad a la carte any day of the week. The fact that it came with the meal made it even tastier.

The soup was parsnip. Nick ordered it because he always orders the soup. He thought it would be pureed but was pleasantly surprised when it arrived at the table as more of a chunky vegetable soup. It was rich and satisfying with a depth of flavor that you don't typically find in a veggie soup. Nick concurred...he too would order that soup a la carte any day.

For his protein, Nick chose the cider glazed cornish hen. I chose the stuffed trout with cornbread dressing. For our sides we both chose the roasted sweet potatoes and I picked the braised greens while Nick decided on the chow-chow.

Nick's cornish hen was honestly what I would expect to see at a high-end restaurant. It was glazed beautifully with a slightly sweet sauce and cooked to perfection. I know this should be reserved for KFC, but it really was finger lickin' good. As for his chow-chow...I was jealous, and will certainly order it next time I go. It was crisp and refreshing, a far cry from some soggy chow-chow I've had in my day, and packed with flavor. Honestly...yummy.

My trout was a pleasant surprise. I expected the cornbread dressing to overpower the trout both in quantity and flavor but neither was true. The trout was moist and flaky, and to my surprise, it's delicate flavor was only amplified by the perfectly seasoned cornbread dressing that sat atop it. It came with a teeny, tiny little shot glass of sauce. I have no idea what it was but if we weren't in public I would have drank the remaining sauce directly out of the container. My guess was creme fraiche with a touch of lemon juice and secret, but delicious third ingredient. I overlooked it at the beginning of the meal and towards the end was literally pouring it on everything I had left on my plate.

Both of our sweet potatoes were cooked to crispy sweet perfection and my greens were prepared almost exactly as I do them at home so you know I'm going to say they're good!

When the waitress (whom was extremely pleasant and helpful I must add) came around for our dessert order the hubby hardly let her finish her sentence before he ordered the bourbon bread pudding. It was a pretty traditional pudding with some pretty nontraditional accompaniments...a marshmallow-like topping and a sweet bourbon sauce that I would bathe in. A fantastic end to an even more fantastic meal.

We forgot to order the crispy fried liver bites to start and I really want to try their frogs' legs so it looks like I'll have to go back for seconds (did I forget to order them for that very reason?? perhaps).

I would be happy, no, delighted to return to Hillbilly Tea for seconds for so many reasons. The prices were more than reasonable. The technique was wonderful. The quality of the ingredients were second to none. And perhaps the thing that kept us away this long...the lack of liquor...was actually a blessing in disguise...because honestly...amidst the charming decor, the delightful cuisine, the refreshing tea and the wallet friendly price tag...I didn't miss it one bit.

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