Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Work with what....

....your Momma gave ya pantry has in it!

And child, the pantry contents were slim after a weekend gallivanting around WPB.

Crack open those cans and toss it all together with 2 hard boiled eggs.

The mix of tuna and navy beans, was coming together a little bland, even with the addition of olives and spices.  Usually I would reach for a lemon here, but 3 guesses if I had a lemon in the whole abarnment.

No worries, the bare cupboard called in backups from the refrigerator.

Perfect little zing I was looking for.

Just like Tim Gunn says, make it work.
 Yes sir, done and done!

Love to all,
~the "hey, I can get creative too" gal, Jess

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Picture is Worth One Thousand Words?

Sorry Mr. Barnyard, I don't have any pictures to share from my fabulous weekend, however I promise to keep this under 1000 words!

Why My Weekend Was Wonderful (aka WMWWW)

5 hour long drives (2x) are a breeze with the right company: one Chubby Checkers mutt plus the crooning voices of Mumford, Janelle and Florence.

My best friends are the strongest people I know, both physically and emotionally.

Checking out the cuties at the NAGA contest, while supporting said friends.

Going out with said friends for a night on the town.

Free drinks and no cover during the night on the town.

Great outdoor benches (if wobbly) and cider, also found on our night out.

Whole Foods salad bar and corn bread for breakfast. wahhhhh, why is the closest WF 2.5 hours away?

Wedding hair.

Gossiping about being young, fabulous, fun teachers over soup, salad and sandwiches.

Shopping, even if unsuccessful.

Speed dog walking.

Spending time with my "big brother" and having my childhood and adult friends meet to share a beer and some crazy "junkyard" fries!

Using a 3 day weekend to my best advantage....if only every weekend was 3 days long.

Happy President's Day!

Love to all,
~the "I sure hope that was under 1000 words, I hate to break a promise" gal, Jess

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Daddy Always Told Me....

.....that you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's Pistache.

Actually, that makes no sense, mostly because he said friend's nose, not Pistache. But trust me, you my dear, dear friends, would much rather pick to have brunch at Pistache, than your friend's nose.

Let me show you why.

What did you say, cute French waiter? Would I like a cocktail?

But of course I would.

This Bloody Mary may be short in stature, but it certainly is was not short on flavor! So tasty, I nearly ordered another, but then got my self control in check.

That self control thing was very short lived when this joli bébé (pretty baby) arrived.

Veggie and Gruyere cheese omelet with the tastiest potatoes I've had in a long while. Délicieux!

Makes me want to visit West Palm Beach again soon just to pick my best friend's noses have brunch on the patio of Pistache. Oh wait, I am going to WPB tomorrow. How convenient. 

Love to all,
~the "just because I don't speak French doesn't mean I can't appreciate a French breakfast feast" gal, Jess

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sketchy is as Sketchy Does?

And sketchy does amazing!

This adventure brought to you by Groupon.

I give you Steamers; the home of Gainesville's Cheapest Fried Rice, Curry or Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich? Yes, it's random.

Yes, it's pretty damn sketchy.

(don't let the Christmas lights fool you....this is by a grungy liquor store on a back alley in the student ghetto)
Yes, it's a massive amount of food.

I got the veggie fried rice, "mild with a pinch" spice level.
(I was going to order "medium" spice, until I noticed the description: it will make you cry. No thanks!)

Yes, it was very tasty.

And yes, it made a ton three servings of leftovers.

Seen here, reheated with mixed greens and topped with a fried egg.

The verdict: I'll take my fried rice with a side of sketch! Can't wait to go back and have $5 Curry!

Love to all,
~the "oh the places your Groupon will take you" gal, Jess

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Change is Good...

....and good can be so tasty.

Or rather change is guaranteed to be tasty when you try something new at beloved Liquid Ginger.

See, I visit Liquid Ginger with decent regularity (say, once a month?) and I always get the same thing. The oh, so, decadent but light "Veggie Saute." 

However, at my last visit, since I convinced Steph and one of her fellow vet school pals, Jane to try LG as something new, I figured I should follow my own advice. So, in the spirit of new things I perused the Asian Saute portion of the menu and chose:

Garlic Hot & Spicy Chicken described as chicken wok-stirred with peppers & onions in a sweet chili sauce.

Here we go:

Miso soup and ginger salad as the traditional starters

Spicy chicken is served! 
the sides of the day: roasted sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, pickled zucchini and ginger noodles.

Overall I really enjoyed the chicken and veggie mixture. The sauce was a tad bit salty and could have been spicier in my opinion, but it was a nice change from the straight veg and tofu rut I've been in for the last year or so! While I would order this dish again, I'm still craving wok cooked vegetables drenched in that luscious vegan coconut cream sauce. Anyone down for another LG run? Anyone?

One thing I will not be ordering again is this bizarre take on sake.  I think they called this the Moonbeam? Based on the sake menu description I thought it was going to be sake infused with coconut essence?

Um, yeah. 
This was a pina colada gone wrong, and I'm not even a fan of good PCs. 
Sake FAIL.

Moral of the story? It's good to try new things, even when you have a favorite dish in mind preset in stone. You might not always find a new lover, but new friend is good to have.

Love to all,
~the "change my mind if you can" gal, Jess

Monday, February 7, 2011

A French Birthday Celebration....

...for a wonderful Thai birthday boy!

Meet Michael. He is a really fun guy, as evidenced by this classic photo of us at Halloween.

He also rivals my love of food, and celebratory events that revolve around food. Basically, his birthday's (or any other party/event) are always worth the 150 mile trek down to Orlando.  This special 26th anniversary of his birth was no exception.

The Location: Winter Park
The Venue: Cafe du France
The Menu: a special selection, just for our party

The company: A wonderful mix of 25 food fanatics. We basically took over the tiny cafe with not only our table, but our chatter. Sorry fellow patrons.

 Here is the Man of the Hour, with Stacey. 
(Sadly, I didn't get any pictures with Mikey, as I was playing photographer, even if poorly!)

The Wine: A lovely, full bodied but smooth, Cotes du Rune

The Starter: Of course I had to go with the escargot, even though all the options were tempting. I was a little disappointed that my snails came "naked" (without their shells) as was looking forward for an excuse to play with my food, but the generous portion was very tasty, tossed in a heavy butter/garlic sauce.

I'm glad I ordered the escargot, but if I return to Cafe du France I'll branch out onto some of their other starter options.  I tasted Jesse's French Onion soup, which was classic and lovely. Steve shared one of his mussels with me also, but I'm very glad I didn't order them, as they were steamed in chicken stock, creating chicken flavored bites. Tasty, but very odd if you are expecting a classic white wine broth.

The Main Course: Noix De St. Jacques or Seared Diver Scallops, served with an orange beurre blanc, and tarragon, with shallots creamy Israeli couscous.

Rich, sweet, creamy, buttery, fresh, crisp, divine, surprising, amazing.

I loved this dish. The scallops were huge and perfectly seared. Forget about those stereotypes that the portions at French restaurants are tiny; this plating of scallops was so generous, I ended up being generous myself and sharing them with my neighbors. There was no way I was sharing the asparagus or couscous, however. Between the creamy pearls of the pasta and the surprise notes of citrus, I was in heaven. I could eat an entire bowl of just the side dishes at Cafe du France for the rest of my blissful days.

Overall the experience at Cafe du France was excellent. While the service was "slow" for American standards we did have a very large party, and this meal was meant to be an "event." The staff were absolutely wonderful, true masters of their profession, something that is being coming more and more rare in the modern hospitality world.

Happy Birthday Michael! I can't think of a better way to celebrate.

Love to all,
~the, "yes, birthdays are my favorite holidays" gal, Jess

Friday, February 4, 2011

When I Grow Up, I want to be a 50's Housewife.....

....who can still tell her husband to go make his own damn sandwich.

Lucky for me, my best friend Jenna (who is getting married to the love of her life, Jesse, in just a few weeks!) feels the same way. So it is only fitting that her Bridal Shower was 50's housewife themed, from the crustless chicken, ham and tuna salad sandwiches right down to the best dressed contest.

Dry your hands my fellow housewife wanna be's and enjoy the photographic evidence.

If you think these classy women know how to throw a bridal shower...well, just wait for the bachelorette party!

Love to all,
~the "I'm totally down with my best friend getting married since I get to host fun, themed events!" gal, Jess

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Singing the Blues...

 (Please read the following in a sexy, Barry Manolo kind of voice)

Hello ladies. Is a overly brothy soup got you down?

Turn that frown around, and sing the blues, baby.

The blue box blues.

For this successful makeover meal I strained the chicken, veggies and other "goodies" from the soup, reserving the broth for my spoiled pup. I then prepped the mac and cheese per the box instructions and mixed in the soup "guts" with the cheese, etc. I added a little more milk than usual, but I never measure out the milk, so it was probably an extra 1/8 cup, if that?

This might not be the most photogenic meal ever, but it worked for me, especially when pared with a chopped salad and some random tortilla chips.

Another successful meal turn around, and not a moment too soon. I was ready to sacrifice the entire soup pot to the dog!

Love to all,
~the "yes, I found a way to eat two of my favorite food simultaneously" gal, Jess