October 1, 2014

Taste Test - A "Blushed" Beverage for Girl's TV Night

It's that time of year.... Season premiers of Fall TV!   And hopefully cooler weather soon.  Another great reason to sport your "loungewear" (as my BFF calls it).

What shows do YOU watch or are looking forward to this season?

I went to my BFF's house to watch a couple of fall season premiers.  I don't know about you, but some movies and TV shows require a buddy.  Whether it's to gossip about the drama or to just be in the same room if you're scared outta your wits.  We couldn't watch scandalous, murder mystery-laden shows without alcohol to maintain our sanity.  Or wait, does it add to the insanity and fun?  Hmm. Either way, it was necessary.  So we hit pause on the DVR and headed to the kitchen to start mixing and of course to grab a few snacks.  Who really wants to deal with commercials anyway?!

I started with a pint glass filled with ice for each of us.  I poured vodka about half way up into each glass, then split a can of lemonade between each glass.  It was a tasty adult lemonade but something was missing.  After a couple of initial sips, I noticed some new water enhancers on the counter and decided it couldn't hurt to add a splash of the white cherry flavored one.  Wow! It took the drink to a whole other level of deliciousness.  AND it tinted the drink a girly blush pink.  So there you have it. Blush.  My friend mentioned she made another drink the next day and added a splash of Sprite and she enjoyed it even more than the first recipe we made.  I like that idea of giving it a little fizz.   Try it out and let me know what you think!

The "Skinny Girl" water enhancers are pretty tasty.  They're located in the grocery store with the other water enhancers and powders.  We've discovered 3 flavors so far: Acai Blueberry, Fuji Apple and White Cherry.  Apparently the Fuji Apple is harder to find than the others as it's not in any of the grocery stores near my friend.  Either it's really popular or just not the preferred flavor in that area.  My favorite is the White Cherry.

Skinny Girl has a nice variety of products such as vodka, cockatils and wine.  They have some easy recipes for girly cocktails on their website.  All low-calorie.  Next, I'm planning to try their White Cherry Vodka.

(*This post is not sponsored by Skinny Girl.  All comments are my own opinions.)

Beverage Ingredients: 

- Ice

- Lemonade

- Vodka

- Skinny Girl Water Enhancer - White Cherry (You can really add as little or much as you want. They are powerful so start with a tiny squirt and work your way up to flavor and color of your liking.)

- Splash of Sprite or 7up (optional for a nice fizz, if you prefer)


I would love to hear what cocktails you've mixed up and enjoyed.

September 25, 2014

Review: Grain Restaurant Provides Local Farm-to-Table Menu

Originally featured on Dallas Food Nerd.

We were invited to attend a menu tasting at Grain Restaurant located in Hilton Dallas Park Cities Hotel.  Chef James Music and his team at Grain have developed a farm-to-table menu showcasing fresh produce & meats produced and provided by several local sources.

Their menu is updated seasonally to reflect what is currently available and fresh from the farm.  The next menu change is planned for mid-October to feature fall flavors and it’s bound to impress just as this menu did.

During our tasting, we were provided with a couple of dishes from each of the 3 courses of the dinner menu.   They also serve breakfast, lunch and brunch so you can stop by for something delicious at any mealtime.


Texas Watermelon & Feta Cheese – Seedless Red & Yellow Melon, Feta, Aged Balsamic Glace, Mache

The colorful presentation definitely screams summer.  I enjoyed the bite-sized cubes and how the flavors & textures between the melon and cheese paired well together. The tang of the balsamic glace tickled the taste buds.

Heirloom Tomato Salad – Proximity Farms Organic Heirlooms, Dallas Mozzarella, Basil

I’ve never been a fan of tomatoes.  Until now.   I’m not sure if it was the thick tender slices of the plump produce, the local companion of melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella or the fresh basil.  But it all worked for me.

Buffalo Chili – Ground Buffalo, Caramelized Onions, Redneck Cheddar

A couple of tasters playfully shamed Chef Music for adding beans to the chili AND not mentioning the taboo ingredient in the description on the menu.  He just smiled while he continued to entertain and humor us with stories. 

Some of us know that most Texans don’t approve of beans in chili, let alone black beans.   It was spicy but tasty and the buffalo meat melted in my mouth.  I enjoyed it but I’m also not from around these parts.   I myself, add things to my chili that most likely wouldn’t be approved by others such as cocoa powder.  I say just go with whatever works for you.


Crab Cakes  - Texas Blue Crab, Red Pepper Jam

These were the most crab-filled cakes I’ve ever had.  And that’s a good thing!  The red pepper jam didn’t stand out to me as much as I wanted but I enjoyed the crab cakes nonetheless.  Some chefs tend to add too much breading and/or seasoning that it overshadows the already little amount of crab it contains.  These tasty cakes were seasoned just right in my opinion and I believe I showed my love for them by eating several more when no one was looking.

Bacon BBQ Shrimp – ‘Po Boys’ Gulf Shrimp, House Made BBQ Sauce

The BBQ sauce had a nice bite to it and the shrimp were huge.  Other than that, this dish wasn’t anything special to me.  I’ve never thought to pair shrimp and BBQ sauce.  I joked that this could be called “Redneck Shrimp”. 

Being from a huge family of Oklahoma rednecks, I’m allowed to joke about it.  They love to put barbeque sauce on pretty much anything.  I’ll have to call mom and suggest she try it but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s already been there, done that.

Tenderloin Tips – Ft. worth Light, Asadero Polenta, Tobacco Fried 1015s, House Made BBQ Sauce

Ok ya’ll.  Seriously. This is comfort food at its finest.  A couple of us enjoyed more than enough bites of this dish.   The tender beef tips and creamy polenta are a dream team for your mouth.  Asadero is a rich Mexican-style melting cheese and added a great flavor and creaminess to the polenta.  The crispy 1015s (aka onions) on the top were a tasty treat.  Now I know why Chef Music mentioned it was one of the house specialties.  I get it.


Born & Braised Short Ribs – Tobacco Fried 1015 Hash, Farm to Table Vegetables

Another comfort food dish done right.   The thin, crispy hash on the bottom totally gives this a sinful dimension of flavor.    Who doesn’t love a 13-hour braised meat!  And the delicious sidekick of Texas shitake mushrooms were grown on logs in Denison, Texas.  That’s ruggedly local cool in my book!

‘Line Caught’ Gulf Red Fish – Creamed Corn, Lime Butter

The fish dish didn’t disappoint.  The thick slices were delectable and served over a sweet thyme cream corn and topped with lime butter.    The sneaky addition of the thyme in the corn enhanced the dish. I don’t normally order fish at a restaurant but I would definitely order this again and enjoy every last bite.

September 19, 2014

Weekly Produce Prep and Easy Veggie Salads

We all try to eat more vegetables.  But how easy has it been for you to eat them at home?   For me, not so much.  I realized it takes a little work to get them ready to grab on the go or when searching for a light snack.  If veggies aren't easily available, I find myself leaning towards not so healthy options.

However, I'm proud to say that I haven't bought as much junk food over the past couple of years. And also I try to limit our processed foods to items such as canned beans, tomatoes, condiments and a few others. But for the most part, we eat freshly prepared meals daily.  The meals I try to make consist of a protein with a fresh or frozen vegetable side or maybe just a vegetarian meal once or twice a week.

Anyway, I've been more diligent about purchasing more produce during my weekly grocery shopping.  The issue I came across was that I didn't have (make) time to cut up or prep any for snacking or lunch.  I decided to just pick a day to cut and portion out veggies for the week.  I guess normal people would probably do all the work the day they actually buy the groceries.  Meh.  I'll try but grocery day is usually the day I plan to accomplish a million other things on my to do list.

I recently discovered Sprouts and how many awesome deals they have.  Now I mainly get my produce there.  Wednesdays are awesome because you can get last week's ad prices AND the new week ad prices.  That's great to know so I can compare veggie prices and get everything in one trip.

It seriously only took me about a half hour to get everything washed, cut, portioned, packed. AND I also thought it would be a good idea to make quick lunches such as Caprese salad and pickled cucumber salad while I was at it.  I feel pretty good about myself right now.  Let's see if I can continue this each week.

*I had more veggies and forgot to take photos of those and the salads. Boo.  I took a photo before I used some of the prepped veggies for dinner.  I had cut carrots into sticks for snacking and just diced them up for a dish for dinner.


4 oz mozzarella, balls or cubed
1 medium tomato, sliced
Fresh basil leaves (*I had 4 little leaves. You can use more to your liking but that's all my little in-home herb garden had at the moment)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Balsamic reduction (1/2 c balsamic vinegar boiled in small saucepan until reduced to half. Takes about 10 minutes.)

While balsamic vinegar is reducing, prep mozzarella and tomatoes and place in a small bowl.  Thinly slice basil and add to salad.  Add a small pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil.  Taste and add more seasonings as desired.  If serving right away, drizzle a little balsamic reduction on top.  I would keep reduction in small container separate from salad if serving for lunch or snack the next day.

*Balsamic reduction will make more than you need for this one dish. It takes just a small drizzle to add flavor.  It keeps forever so store it in a tightly covered container to use later.  Drizzle on steaks, salads, brie and more.


1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced then halved
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Whisk rice vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Taste and add more seasonings to your liking.  Add red pepper flakes for a kick.

September 16, 2014

Seasoned Roasted Potatoes - Recipe Recommendation

I have a super quick recommendation for you.

I was searching online the other day for an easy side to make with a couple of russet potatoes I bought for a steal (.49/lb).  I haven't had potatoes in so long and I wanted to try something different. I came across this SUPER easy recipe on Pinterest.   It was just what I needed.  I highly recommend trying it out.

Head on over to Kristin's page and check out her other tasty recipes as well.  I creeped through her website and have a few on my must-try list.

Note: I forgot to take a photo because I was too busy shoving the goodness in my mouth.  The photo below is Kristin's delicious photo so you can see why should try her recipe.

Seasoned Roasted Potatoes by Iowa Girl Eats