Food | Somewhere in Middle America

When you buy a vat of blueberries at Costco, you have to be creative with how you use them so that they don’t go to waste.

We recently had some leftover blueberries, which inspired J to make some of the yummiest blueberry buttermilk pancakes I’ve ever had. Click over to Elizabeth Anne Designs Living for the recipe.

Oysters at Felix’s

Not pictured: Char-grilled oysters that were BEYOND insane.

Beignets and Hot Chocolate at Café Du Mondé

My dad was the only one of the group who accidentally sniffed the powdered sugar. And suffered.

Pretzles, Boudin and Sweet + Spicy Brisket Sliders at Butcher

We also ordered a muffaletta (never did make it to Central Grocery) and duck pastrami sliders. The guys drank LA 31 Biere Pale while my mom sipped a “Peel-n-Squeal” – vanilla vodka, satsuma juice and mint.

Pecan Waffles and the Chef’s Omelet (chili on the side) at The Camellia Grill

At the French Quarter location, we got a kick out of our server, who kept referring to the six of us as “New York.” Was it that obvious?

French macaroons (my first ever!), Gelato and Cappuccino at Sucré

We gave ourselves permission to enjoy dessert before lunch when we passed by this charming “sweet boutique” while browsing the shops on Magazine Street.

Po-Boys at Domilise’s

At the very last second we managed to score a table for six at this hole-in-the-wall shop, and we passed around shrimp and oyster po-boys to share. My dad, who doesn’t eat shellfish, had a catfish po-boy all to himself. (Note to future customers: These po-boys are expensive! Was not expecting to pay around $15 for a sandwich!)

Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace

A trip to New Orleans would not have been complete without a visit to Commander’s Palace. We were seated for nearly two and a half hours, which should give you an indication of how much we ate! Apparently I was too busy stuffing my face to take any photographs of our food, but my sister captured this table shot while we were still deciding what to order. Thankfully my mom, who snagged a menu, was able to remind me what we all ate (some of us ordered the same thing): Turtle Soup, Smoked Chicken and Oyster Gumbo, Open-Faced Croque Madame, Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish, Scrambled Eggs and Crab, Commander’s Mixed Grill, Pecan Pie, Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake and Baily’s Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Parfait. And now I feel stuffed all over again!

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Our first night in NOLA, before my parents, sister and brother-in-law arrived, J and I had dinner at Dick & Jenny’s. I wish I could’ve taken photos of the amazing food we ate, but it was too dark inside the restaurant.  We started with the Gumbo Du Jour (shrimp and blue crab) and the Filet Mignon Meat Pie (a pocket stuffed with beef tips, red potatoes and smoked mushrooms and topped with a garlicky cream sauce). After stuffing our faces with oysters at Felix’s earlier in the evening, we weren’t hungry enough to each get our own entree, so we shared the Seared Duck Breast with Louisiana alligator sausage (surprisingly tender!), dirty rice and southern greens. (The greens were not my favorite.)

What do you love about traveling? A novice foodie, I love experiencing the local cuisine of whatever city I’m visiting. Which is why my taste buds have already begun salivating in anticipation of my first trip to New Orleans in just a few short weeks.

A couple of months ago, my father suggested that the entire fam plan a weekend getaway someplace warm during the winter. Some how my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, husband and I all agreed upon New Orleans. Granted it won’t be bathing suit weather, but it will be warmer than Omaha!

But who needs beaches and bikinis when you have po’ boys, jambalaya and gumbo? Of course we’ll have to try beignets at Cafe Du Monde, but I’m actually more interested in checking out the local hot spots rather than the typical tourist traps like Emeril’s restaurants.

Since the Food Network always seem to be on in my house, I’ve been paying attention to any time somebody mentions New Orleans cuisine, especially on “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Ate,” and jotting down the names of the restaurants suggested. Here’s what’s on my list so far:

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen for Blackened Louisiana Drum

Cochon Butcher for Boudin Sausage

Domilise’s for Shrimp Po Boy

Now I need your help. Have you eaten in NOLA? Leave your restaurant recommendations in the comment section below!

(photo by FNP via Flickr)

“You must eat a lot of steak and corn.”

That’s what I hear when I tell fellow East Coasters that I’m living in Omaha. I suppose that’s because the brand Omaha Steaks is now a household name, and the University of Nebraska’s football team, the Cornhuskers, has the word “corn” in its name.

Truthfully, my diet hasn’t changed much now that I live in the Midwest. I very rarely ate corn before and I don’t often eat it now, although I have enjoyed fresh corn on the cob at various food festivals and from the local farmer’s markets (see above photo).

I’ve always liked red meat but don’t eat it too frequently either. I’d like to say it’s for health reasons, but the truth is that good cuts of meat can be costly and I don’t know how to prepare them at home.

But when I’m in the mood for steak, there are no shortages of good restaurants in Omaha serving it. My favorite is The Drover. It’s where I take all of my out of town guests, and where J and I will go if we’re craving some read meat. Their Whiskey filet makes my mouth water just thinking about it, and this summer, when my 80-year-old grandmother was in town, she called it one of the best steaks she’s ever eaten.

Which is why I was surprised to read in Travel + Leisure that fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul goes to the French Cafe for steak. J and I enjoyed brunch at the French Cafe a couple of times when he lived downtown prior to my move but we’ve never had a steak dinner there.

I was also surprised to hear that the Travel Channel’s Food Wars was coming to Omaha to check out two Italian steakhouses I have never patronized, Caniglia’s Venice Inn and Piccolo Pete’s. Apparently there has been a decades-old family rivalry between the two; the owners of Caniglia’s and Pete’s are cousins. SPOILER ALERT: Warren Buffet, whose favorite steakhouse is actually Gorat’s, may have gone on air to support Piccolo Pete’s, but Caniglia’s won the food war.

For all the Omahans out there, where’s your favorite place for steak?

And just to clarify… It is my understanding as a transplant that just because restaurants in Omaha serve steak, they aren’t necessarily serving “Omaha steaks.” As I mentioned above, Omaha Steaks is a brand. However, restaurants may be serving beef that was raised locally in Omaha, in other parts of Nebraska or in Iowa. Or not. I usually don’t ask where my meat comes from, although maybe I should start.

PS – Did you watch “Food Wars” last night? Everybody, including the Caniglia brothers, pronounce “Caniglia” like Ca-nig-lee-a, but the super annoying host kept calling them Ca-nee-lee-a. And talking with her mouth full.

(image 1: circa 2007, image 2)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for summer to end. It’s just been too dang hot, and the sooner it transitions to fall, the sooner I can start taking Briscoe on long neighborhood walks, the sooner my hair will stop frizzing, the sooner I can take photos outside without my camera lens fogging up and the sooner J returns home from his deployment. Really, J’s return is what I care about the most. It’s been a LONG (hot) summer without him.

What are your weekend plans? On Sunday we’re celebrating my friend L’s 30th birthday with brunch at The Woodcliff Restaurant in Freemont. I can personally attest to the fact that 30 is not as bad as people make it seem — or as I believed it would be. Actually, I will be turning 30 and A HALF in just over a month. Woot for making it almost halfway!

Now onto some of my favorite posts from around the web:

I have a girl crush on Christina Hendricks.

A clever photobooth proposal.

These candy colored mugs would brighten my morning — and my white dishware. (via Design*Sponge)

I miss Manhattan. (via MyConey)

Brunch is my favorite meal because of recipes like this.

One day I will have so many shoes that it will take me an entire afternoon to organize my designated shoe closet.

Another amazing tattoo.

PS – Happy Friday the 13th!

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My weekend with Ali was fantastic. Just what I needed as we’re coming up on the halfway point of J’s deployment.

We had 48 hours together and did a lot of eating. I took her to some of my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, including Lisa’s Radial Cafe, Rivera’s, Dixie Quicks and The Drover. Saturday was our “day of pampering” with pedicures at The Nail Shop and massages at the Omaha School of Massage. You really can’t beat the price — $35 for a 1-hour massage. Seriously.

But back to The Nail Shop. It was my first time there, and I can honestly say that it was the best pedicure experience I’ve ever had. The leg and foot massage was blissful, my toes are perfect and the space is just so zen. Instead of noisy, vibrating chairs, you sit in oversized, cushy armchairs like these from Pottery Barn and listen to the soothing sound of Sade. I didn’t even want a magazine to read. I just leaned back, closed my eyes and relaxed.

(my photo… I realize that The Drover isn’t necessarily a hole-in-the-wall, but it isn’t a “fancy steakhouse” either.)

The secret is out: My new favorite liqueur is featured in today’s New York Times!

I discovered St-Germain earlier this month while having dinner at Taste with Stephanox. She ordered a drink aptly named the St. Germain, and we were so intrigued by the flavor that we had to ask the waiter about the ingredients. He brought us a glass of St-Germain on the rocks to taste. It was delish on its own! My very untrained palate picked up on the exotic fruit flavors and a subtle aftertaste of tea (herbal). I could picture myself elegantly sipping it from the crystal I received as wedding gifts and instantly declared it my new summer drink.

The next week I picked up my very own bottle at Spirit World. Cocktails, anyone?

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This ice cream photo by Raymond Hom is so delish — and perfect for National Ice Cream Day! In 1984, Ronald Regan deemed July National Ice Cream Month, but I received an email from Cold Stone Creamery proclaiming today, July 14, National Ice Cream Day… which means I can indulge guilt-free in a “scoopini” from eCreamery after dinner tonight at PITCH.

In honor of National Ice Cream Day, tell me… what’s your favorite flavor? You all know mine.


Dear Mr. Ben and Mr. Jerry,

I miss my Chubby Hubby.

No, not J. He is far from chubby. I mean my other hubby, Chubby Hubby, the world’s best ice cream flavor.

Sadly, B&J, I can’t locate a pint of your vanilla malt ice cream rippled with fudge and peanut butter and dotted with fudge-covered, peanut butter-filled pretzels anywhere in Omaha. CH has always been my go-to comfort food for when I’m feeling blue, and when my hubby is deployed there are occasionally times I need a little pick-me-up in the form of a frozen treat.

I’ve tried Triple Caramel Chunk and Coffee Health Bar Crunch, but they just don’t have the same “feel good” quality as CH. They lack the luxurious combination of sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy.

So tell me: Where can a girl get some Chubby Hubby in Omaha? If it’s not available in fine retail establishments in the area, I’ll gladly accept a shipment from you that I can store in my garage freezer for emergencies.

Yours Truly,


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What’s better than fresh, ripe strawberries? Fresh, ripe strawberries covered in chocolate! But what do you do with the excess melted chocolate? Raid the pantry, discover a box of uneaten Nilla wafers and then cover them in chocolate too!

Best last minute dessert idea. Ever.