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Archive for Food Photography

::eating out:: Radio Maria, Champaign, Ill


If I ever have to go to Champaign, Illinois again, I know where I will have Sunday brunch.  I won’t deny, we didn’t have the best service when we visited Radio Maria.  In fact, some might say it was downright bad.  But it was Easter Sunday (overdue post?), and maybe the staff was slim pickings.  It was really only our waiter that was bad.  Anyone who walked by that was asked for something (utensils, creamer, etc), was more than happy to oblige.

Wouldn’t you forgive a forgetful waiter when a meal like this sits in front of you?

I ordered the Smoked Pork Torta.  Let me just tell you…if the waiter has agreed to my non-corn wanting, it would have been perfect.  But I still ate it all.  The orange chipotle bbq sauce was INCREDIBLE.

PTB’s meal wasn’t so pretty, but the Masa Boat Surprise did not disappoint.  It was also delicious.  And the potatoes were yummy too!

This restaurant had an odd mix of Tex-Mex and Cajun style.  I will happily admit, they seem to get the Tex-Mex a little better than the Cajun.  We ordered Beignets for the four of us.  The girls both wanting to try both the cinnamon-sugar and the powdered, so we decided on an order of each and to share.  The powdered were perfect.  The cinnamon-sugar… Let’s just say they forgot the sugar.  Have you ever had a spoonful of cinnamon?  Well, don’t go try it just because I said so.  You’ll never come back.

One of our friends ordered a cajun dish.  I want to say maybe the shrimp and grits?  Maybe not.  It was all a blur.  We received three of the dishes, and then the waiter soon asked the meal-less one if he wanted anything…  “Yeah, the meal I ordered…”  We all assumed for a few minutes that his was still coming, until that moment.  That was fun? But I promise, this just seemed like that particular waiter was the problem.  Remember, I had to ask someone for cream for my coffee?  Everyone else was SUPER NICE.  Oh…and the creole dish, I believe it got a disappointing review.  But it was rushed. Maybe if it had been prepared with our meals it would have turned out better?

Radio Maria on Urbanspoon Ok, so the moral of the story is, if you ever end up in this strange little college town, there are so many places you should go.  If you are there on a brunch day, you could give this place a go.  I have a few other things about our trip to Champaign that I will be posting eventually.  I just couldn’t resist sharing these gorgeous meals  🙂  And if you ever have friends in the Champaign area, visit them!  The town is incredible and perfect for a weekend visit.

Champaign isn’t big enough to have any Open Table or Urban Spoon listings. My defaults as a city-liver.  But I did find them on Yelp.  Let me know if you ever end up in this tiny town.  And if you area already there and find this tiny blog… What is your favorite place?

::more curry:: Coconut Basil Curry


Mother’s Day can’t be all about baked goods can it?  My dad doesn’t like spicy at all, so this won’t be on our menu, but…IF I had a group of people to serve and I wanted to make everything ahead of time, this curry might do the trick.  It only gets better with time.  This is one of those recipes that inspired this site as well.  I adapted it from my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. The first time we made it was around the time of our wedding. I may have made it a few times.  Unfortunately, it as one of those recipes that I remembered what it tasted like, but didn’t remember where I found it or how to make it.  So I hadn’t made it in years.  I was so excited when I found it again! If you are making this a day in advance, I would wait to add the basil until ready to serve.

Someone felt like I was intruding on their space to take a photo of the basil – so I had to share.  🙂

What You Need
Step One
2 lbs chicken, cut into bite size pieces
3 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper

Step Two
1 Tbsp olive oil
med-large red onion, chopped
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 or 2 jalepenos, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (depending on heat preference)
Step Three
1 can light coconut milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Step Four
handful of fresh basil, shredded
1.5-2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated

My trick for recipes that call for bite size chicken pieces is easy.  When I buy chicken, I purchase whole chicken breasts.  When I trim them and get them ready to freeze, I separate each breast, and I separate the tenderloins.  I freeze the breasts together in pairs since that is normally what we need, and then all the tenderloins get thrown in together.  When I have a recipe that calls for small pieces, I pull out the tenderloins and it save me a ton of time cutting.  Typically, we buy 3-4 whole breasts at a time, so two “sets” are the perfect amount for a bigger recipe.

Ok!  So – cut your chicken into bite size pieces and coat with the spices in step one.  Cover and stick in the fridge.  Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (I am not good at prepping in advance, so this is usually the most it gets from me).  Up to a day is fine, the more the spices penetrate the chicken, the richer the flavor, but we like it with my 30 minute can’t prep style  🙂

Heat oil over medium high heat in a wok or large skillet.  Add step two ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a bit more oil to the pan and cook the chicken until no longer pink.  Cooking the chicken half at a time helps so that no pieces get over-cooked.  Remove chicken from the wok.

Combine coconut milk and cornstarch and pour into pan.  Use this to deglaze the pan if necessary and continue to cook until thick and bubbly.  Add everything back to the pan including your last ingredients (basil and ginger) and cook for about 2-3 more minutes to make sure everything is nice and hot.

Serve over hot white rice and enjoy!

Serves: 4     Cost: <$4/serving

::ideas & inspiration:: Mom


These photos are from one of my very first foodie blog posts.  I originally posted them April 27, 2008 following our 2nd annual Mother’s Day Brunch.  This was the year that officially started a tradition since it was the second year in a row right? To make things easier (for me) on Mother’s Day, we invite both sets of our parents down so I can make brunch for everyone. Everyone shows up, we eat, we play video games, some people nap, and then we say goodbye.  It turns into a generally relaxing day, filled with good food, so there isn’t much room for anyone to complain.  🙂

my favorite/only frittata recipe

Every year so far, I have made a frittata of some sort, have some fruit platters, and some sort of baked yumminess.  This year, we will only have my set of parents joining us, and hopefully some siblings.  PTB’s parents will be away for the weekend, so they will be missed.  Also changing it up this year, we will be participating in the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure that morning.  This puts a small crimp in my typical “wake-up-at-7am-and-start-cooking” routine.  This year it will be “wake-up-at-6am-and-get-to-the-art-museum” and then immediately after host brunch.  Hmmm….interesting.

what a perfect wine for mother\'s day

So this year, my plans are to find recipes that will be great if I make them the day before and have them ready to go once we get back.  A frittata that bakes for 50 minutes just isn’t going to cut it.  We may just end up with a buffet of snacks.  For the next two weeks I am going to try to post items that are meant for brunch or for hosting in general.  Anything that would work when trying to please company for an informal get-together.  Suggestions are MORE than welcome  🙂

I have come a long way in food blogging since this post, but maybe this will inspire your family to change the Mother’s Day ritual?  What do you do each year?

** Want to donate to our team’s Race for the Cure?  It would be appreciated! **

::summer love:: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The first sign of rhubarb in the store is an exciting one for me.  I grew up on a farm and rhubarb just grew uncontrollably.  I could just go steal some from my brother…but I would spend more on gas than a pound of organic rhubarb would cost me at the store.  So I buy it.  And organic strawberries – because MY GOODNESS – they are so much better than conventional strawberries.  WOW.

I haven’t found the perfect pie crust recipe for me.  And I really do believe it is a very personal thing.  So I am not going to share my crust recipe with you yet.  But these photos just make me so happy.  So this post is mainly for happiness.

My strawberry rhubarb pie is a pound of each.  Sliced strawberries, and I cut my rhubarb just like celery.

my current desktop picture  :)

I mix them together in a bowl with about 1/4 cup tapioca and 1 1/4 cup sugar.  They stew together while I make my crust.

My favorite trick to an easy crust… Form it into a ball (one per bottom/top), flatten to about 1/2″ thick & refrigerate your crust for about 30 minutes.  Then place the round between two sheets of floured parchment paper to roll it out.  This makes it incredibly easy to roll, and place in the pie plate.

Don’t want a soggy bottom pie?  Sprinkle your bottom crust with a bit more tapioca to help soak up extra juices.

See what I mean about the parchment paper helping to place the crust??

I start my pie at 450F for 15 minutes, then drop it to 375 for about 30 more minutes.

See what I mean about such a happy post?!  Since I am on a mission for the perfect pie crust (this summer will probably be filled with pies to test…) Can you share yours or a link to your favorite crust?  Thanks!

::fun food:: Citizen’s Bank Park’s Bull’s BBQ


I love to go to sporting events.  WHAT?!  OK, yeah….not entirely true.  I love to eat at sporting events.  Ok, I guess it is a combination of both, because it isn’t like I have any desire to go to a football game.  I would have been more willing to go to the Sixers this year if they weren’t begging us to go.  Dear Sixers:  Having to sit up top in an empty building is dumb.  Discount the lower level seats if you want attendance.  I don’t want chicken fingers from Chickie’s & Pete’s that badly…

The Phillies, however, can get us to attend many games throughout the season.  It helps that it is outside, and we will probably only go if it is gorgeous.  Well – if it isn’t gorgeous, we won’t stay very long.  I’m willing to wait in line for crab fries that I could get at Chickie’s & Pete’s anytime.  But will I?  No.  In fact, I have NEVER been to an actual stand alone Chickie’s & Pete’s.  Don’t worry Phialdelphia – I don’t actually think of myself as a Philadelphian.  Don’t curse me for saying that I have never been.  I did try to go once…come on people – who gives a 4 hour  wait time?  Who do you think you are?  The Cheesecake Factory?

Anyway!  Last night was Opening Night at CBP.  Luckily, unlike last year, it did not snow.  But the temperature did drop and the game was going mighty slow, so we (read I) did not last past the 5th inning.  Luckily we were able to get home in time for the end of the game.  Once again this year’s tickets came with food money.  LOVE IT!  I have been on a barbeque binge since we experienced some of the best barbeque I have ever had in Illinois.  So our food money went towards a dinner in the sun before the game at Bull’s BBQ.

Being the genius that I am – I thought we would create our own sampler with 3 sandwiches.  But forgot to mention that I wanted the sampler size sandwiches.  So here we go.  Two full size Pulled Pork Sandwiches and a full size Roast Turkey sandwich.

These sandwiches are not to be messed around with.  This is not painfully hot bbq.  It is just the moistest pulled pork possible ever.  These are truly sandwiches you need a wide open mouth and both hands for.  And even then you are dropping most of it.

I don’t need any fanciness.  We left the hot peppers and other nonsense for the rest.   The turkey sandwich….ahhh the turkey sandwich.  I couldn’t doo it.  It was simply too much meat:bun ratio for me.  Once I had help to devour the skinny half you see below I couldn’t take it.  My exact quote was “There is too much meat.  You would need two more buns for all that meat.”  Are you done laughing now?  Don’t get me wrong, it was delightful, I just need bread with sliced turkey.  Couldn’t do it.

Next time maybe we will give in and get half a roasted chicken or the massive kielbasa (the bull dog).

Bull's BBQ on UrbanspoonAt least we will know not to get three full size sandwiches for two people.  All I could say towards the end of my half eaten, half spilled everywhere, second pulled pork sandwich was meat pile.