Dirty Restaurants

I have an obsession that I'm more than okay with.  It's an obsession with the health inspection scores of restaurants that serve me food.  Everywhere I go I scour the windows and entryways to make sure they have the score posted.  This comes after years of a segment on the NBC affiliate in Charlotte (where I grew up) called "Eat, Drink and Be Wary."  Apparently health inspectors won't eat anywhere that scores below a 96 (out of 101).  I sometimes allow 94 but below that and I can't.  WHY WOULD I DO THAT TO MYSELF??  These places have stuff you can't see because it's in the kitchen-- like dirty ice, cleaning solutions stored above food, RAT FECES.  YUCK.  This week's low scorer had FLIES in the ice.  FLIES.  Yuck.  Tell me this report doesn't make you want to check every window door or website.  I hate the states like VIRGINIA and FLORIDA that don't require posting.  You can find it on the health inspector's website in your state or county.  Check your favorites.  I DO.


Chai Eggnog

This recipe by Erika Lenkert was on the Everyday with Rachael Ray website.  Chai + eggnog???  I'M DOWN! 

    Snappy Chai Eggnog
  • 2 cups eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup powdered chai tea
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 gingersnaps, crushed


  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggnog, vanilla, chai powder and brandy.
  2. On a small plate, stir together the brown sugar and 1½ teaspoons water. Place the crushed gingersnaps on another small plate. Coat the rims of four rocks glasses with the brown-sugar syrup, then the gingersnap crumbs. Fill the glasses with the chai eggnog.

    Results:  Since it was the middle of the day, I modified this for a non-alcoholic version.  (Boring, I know.)  I warmed up the eggnog and vanilla then steeped a chai teabag.  I also omitted the second step.  DELICIOUS!!  And I will definitely be using this as an after dinner dessert Christmas day!


Restaurant Review: 101 Cantina

A new Mexican restaurant has opened in town and you know what that means? I had to try it out. Yes indeed! The prices were a bit outrageous for a Mexican restaurant, especially one right across from campus. But with 35 margaritas on the menu, there was no question I was going. 35??? Are you serious? A must.

First, let's talk about the website and atmosphere. There are NO HOURS on the site! Why have a site if I have to call ahead to make sure you're open??? It has separate menu links for margaritas, tequilas, island drinks and pitchers which all went to the same thing. The only differences in the lunch and dinner menus is not price, it's that the lunch menu has a few sandwiches and wraps. In their place at dinner were 3 entrees. That's not going to work. Lunch is supposed to be a more cost-effective option. The inside is far too small. We were forced to sit outside because the restaurant was full. I wouldn't be surprised if it only seated 30. If memory serves me correctly there were no more than 8 tables against a wall and a bar. If we'd sat at the bar, perhaps we would've gotten our drinks more promptly. The outside bar took an obscenely long time

I saw several ceviches on the menu but I'm not a fan of shrimp or scallops so that eliminated a few. I decided to try the tuna ceviche which was Asian-style. The chunks of tuna were way too large and didn't have enough acid which made it taste flat. When the server asked me about it and I said there wasn't enough acid, she said, "I think the traditional ceviche has more of the acid taste, but because this is more of a non-traditional take on it, that's why." Yeah, no. It's ceviche and should therefore still TASTE like ceviche no matter what other ingredients you put in it. I've had multiple ceviche preparations including about a dozen at a restaurant dedicated to AND CALLED Seviche in Pittsburgh. And ALL of them had plenty of acid. That recipe needs to be fixed. Especially at that $10 price tag. The portion was huge, plenty to share among several people, but probably a tad ambitious for 2.

We had the 101 margarita which was the best one. The key lime margarita tasted almost powdery. Very strange and not appealing. The peach margarita didn't taste very peachy. The sangria margarita was definitely the worst and it didn't taste like sangria. Harsh reviews. But perhaps there should've been more taste tests of the ahead of time. I am absolutely still willing to make myself available if they would like someone to help them taste the margaritas as they tweak them.

Rashan had the chicken poblano pasta and liked it though it was a bit dry. I thought it could have used some heat. It didn't have to be mouth on fire hot, but something to perk up the flavor. It got better when he squeezed some lime juice on it. I had the cactus and corn and chicken fuego chimichanga. O.M.G. After a series of poor restaurant choices, the chimichanga was AWEEEEESOME!! I mean so good I couldn't keep Rashan's fork off of my plate! Delicious!! Loved it. Could eat it on a regular basis. And it was huge. Very much a fan. It's nice when the entree is fantastic. Now if they could only get more of the menu together.


Fall 2009

Classic Black
but not in your basic form.
Get the LBD but make it black sequins!
black liquid leggings (if done right; AWESOME),
short, ruffly skirt.

Oversized buckles are in.
on your boots
on your faux fur hobo
on your trench coat

rock your plums, cranberries, eggplant, magentas, and even your dusty roses.
Giant maroon handbag
statement necklace in rubies and garnets
leather gloves in royal purple
fuschia tights

I don't know why it won't go away.
I did see Monica rock a leopard scarf and I thought it was fly.
I will say this, leopard print shoes are always hot
Maybe you can mix it up and do black and white leopard

A plaid, tweed trench. I want it
Plaid tote bag
plaid trumpet skirt (with a solid, wrap top)

rider boots
flat boots
We're not doing the sky high heel this year.

And I think that's it!


Restaurant Review: The Top

All the hipsters are doing it: going to Gainesville's most "cool cat" esque restaurant, The Top. The prices are a bit up there for a college population, but at least you feel like the menu is more creative than The Swamp restaurant in town. The Swamp is right across from campus and the love of the (white) fraternities and sororities. It has a very normal menu with some crazy prices. It's pretty good, but I always like The Top way more. It's not just that The Swamp feels preppier, that's not a problem to me. Preps need a place to go, too, but the food at The Top seems to be a little more creative. That might be because a lot of the food has a vegetarian or vegan option.

Last night I got the southwestern spinach fettucini with tofu. I'm not a vegetarian and love meat but since my fellow Disher is a veg-head 93% of the time, I'm more open to the idea. Good move! It was delicious! Though I need more texture than meat substitutes too often fail to provide. The Top also has AMAZING burgers. Rashan and I will likely be heading here again some time this weekend to get one of those. Good times, good times. Oh! But two fails for me at the Top are the corn nuggets and fried green tomatoes. The nuggets are pretty popular but I'm not a fan of corn kernels in my food. These are basically like mini hushpuppies studded with corn. I did not appreciate the extra hard tomatoes with the cornmeal crust, either. My tomato pickiness should have been a clue to me but I wanted to try them. I think I'll pass on either of those henceforth.


Pink Shrimp & Black Bean Enchiladas


soft taco flour tortillas
1/2 pound fresh or thawed shrimp; a couple whole, most halved
two cans of black beans
1 can of enchilada sauce
1 cup of fresh salsa
3/4 cup of corn
1 lime
colby jack cheese
sea salt and pepper
sour cream

Mince several (I used 5) cloves of garlic and place in bowl. Add peeled, rinsed, and cut shrimp to bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and liberal amounts of cumin. Roll a lime, cut and squeeze out about 1 tablespoon of juice onto the shrimp mixture. Tear cilantro from springs and rough chop to equal 1 tablespoon. Add to bowl. Stir to coat and incorporate. let sit.

In a medium sized pot, pour enough oil to coat bottom of pot plus some. Add several minced garlic cloves then turn burner on to medium-low heat. Let garlic infuse the oil for several minutes. Add two cans of black beans plus 1/4 a can of water. Add sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and cumin. Stir. Add 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped cilantro and all the juice from 1/2 lime used in shrimp bowl. Stir well. Turn heat up to high and let boil. Begin using spoon to mash the black beans. Mash and stir till water has evaporated and you're left with chunky applesauce consistency. Turn heat off and let water continue to evaporate.

In frying pan, cook shrimp mixture on med-high till they are ALMOST done. Remove from heat, add corn, and salsa to pan and stir.

In baking dish, pour enough enchilada sauce to cover bottom. Place one flour tortilla in dish. Scoop and spread black bean mash on tortilla. Using a slotted spoon, scoop and spread shrimp/corn/salsa mixture on top of black beans. Shred (or add shredded) cheese to the dish. Add next tortilla and repeat black bean, shrimp mixture, cheese steps. Repeat till desired layers are reached. Pour half of remaining enchilada sauce, all over and around the tortillas. Flip top tortilla and pour the rest on dry side. Top with copious amounts of shredded cheese.

Place baking dish in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve in wedges with dollops of lime infused guac and lime infused sour cream. Garnish with lime wedge and cilantro sprig.


Where Dey Do Dat At?

As you may or may not know, I went to an upscale party about two or three weeks ago. The invitation alone was something serious! First of all, there was a teaser's teaser. Then a teaser. Then the actual invite. The event was called 'Paparazzi' and on the invite, it said, "a Celebrities Only Red & Black Affair"

Cool! I love a party with a dress code or theme! Notsomuch the 'White Out's that are SOOOOOOOOOOO 2002 and are NEVER done right... ugh. I digress.

Seeing how I don't like to wear red that much, I had my Pentecost dress that I wear ONCE a year and hella black clothes. Ix-nay on the church dress. Little black dress would've been too boring so I opted for my short editor shorts and a thin long sleeve shirt. I am a firm believer in balance. Since all my legs were going to be out and I was going to wear heels, I knew better than to come out the house in a tube top or even a slinky camisole. For my red, I knew my patent leather pumps would be my pop. How boring would I have been if I wore black shoes?!!?
Even my camera matches.

Anyhoot, there were some ladies who must not have internet and did NOT get the cyber memo.

Exhibit A
REALLY!?!? A faded maxi camouflage dress!??!?!

Where Dey Do Dat At?!!?

1. it's not red and/or black
2. it's faded
3. It's camo. I changed into a camo dress at my Sweet 16 back in 1998. Maaaaaybe you could've gotten a pass if this was 2001 and 'Survivor' was at the top of the charts. Maybe.

and what's going on with your friend!?!?!??!

Exhibit B

So perplexed by her. And for some weird reason, she's hiding the ginormous garbage bag of a purse she had...

Yo, what is UP with her shirt!? I just want to know

Where Dey Do Dat At?!!?


Walk of Shame

I am so disappointed in myself. I can't believe that despite how tired I was from moving in all day yesterday, I was already out of the house, but too lazy to go too far for food. And I wanted some Mexican. So instead of a 5-minute drive, I settled for Taco Bell. Please don't beat me. I got the volcano nachos and a ranchero taco. The former is what made me realize that walk from my car to my apartment with that bag in hand was indeed a walk of shame. And I SHOULD be ashamed! How can I call myself a fan of Mexican food and eat these half-stale sorry excuses for tortilla chips with yellow processed cheese spread product (vomit), red dye 40 tortilla strips, a mashed mess of refried beans and ground beef essence? The best thing was the pickled jalapenos. Those were delicious, but not enough. I know Taco Bell technically serves its purpose somewhere (Maine maybe?) but there's a delicious drive-thru Mexican joint in town so I will have to call this what it is: sad. The taco wasn't bad, I can admit, but that does not negate the walk of shame. *hangs head*


Herb Butter-and-Goat Cheese Linguine

  • 4 Servings
  • Prep 10 mins
  • Cook 10 mins


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound linguine pasta
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups chopped multicolored heirloom tomatoes


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.

  2. While the pasta is working, in a serving bowl, add the crumbled goat cheese. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the white wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley, dill, tarragon and thyme. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water.

  3. Add the pasta to the goat cheese. Pour the herb sauce on top, season with pepper and toss for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and toss gently for another minute; season with salt and pepper.

I loved how easy and yet impressive this Rachael Ray recipe seemed and knew I wanted to make it. I'd never cooked with shallots, tarragon or fresh dill before so I wasn't nervous, more curious. Tarragon smells a bit like licorice and/or tea and can be a bit of an overwhelming flavor. Shallots are an awesome hybrid of garlic and onion taste. Amazing. I had skipped them for years, using onions instead, for so long because they looked scary and unfamiliar. But once you get the skin off they look very similar to an onion. Plus I've seen Rach cut enough of them that I knew what to do. Anyway the recipe was delicious. It would've been even heartier with some mushrooms, chicken or shrimp (or all 3 if you really want to go crazy).


Lime Margarita Cupcakes

If you know nothing else about me, you know I love lime and margaritas and lime margaritas. Perfect complements to my fave cuisine: Mexican food. Mmmm. All day mmmmm. So I decided to try these cupcakes from Rachael Ray magazine. DELICIOUS!

  • 24 Servings
  • Prep 55 min
  • Cook 25 min


  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Grated peel of 4 limes, plus 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gold tequila
  • 1 drop green food coloring
  • 1/2 cup large multicolored sugar crystals
  • 24 lime wedge candies


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 cupcake pans with baking liners. Using an electric mixer, beat 2 sticks butter and the granulated sugar until creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, egg white and oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. In a large glass measuring cup, stir together the milk, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. On low speed, mix in one-third of the wet mixture, then one-third of the dry mixture. Repeat twice, ending with the dry mixture. Mix in half of the grated lime peel.

  3. Fill each baking liner about three-quarters full with batter. Bake until the cupcakes spring back when gently touched, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, using the electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 stick butter until creamy. Beat in 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Beat in the tequila, and the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, lime peel, 1 teaspoon salt and the food coloring until smooth and creamy. Beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar one-third at a time, until just soft enough to spread.

  5. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes. Add the sugar crystals to a bowl; lay each frosted cupcake on its side in the bowl and gently rotate to form a rim of sugar. Top each cupcake with a lime wedge candy.

I made this as a cake because I realized my boyfriend didn't have cupcake tins. No problem. Just doubled the length of time in the oven and checked with a toothpick in the center. When it came out clean, it was ready. I thought the tequila would be stronger. It gave an interesting flavor to the frosting wasn't expected. I still liked it and Rashan really liked the cake.


Diner Disaster

Several new restaurants have opened up near my mom's house so we of course had to try some out while I'm home. Our first stop was to Sweet T's Diner. In a brand new building, the diner was a modern version of a retro cafe. It was cute. Above the "lunch counter" there were 3 giant flat screens but you couldn't hear any of them and they didn't have closed captioning... why? There's music on so what's the reasoning behind the tvs if you can't hear them and there is no sports programming? They could've at least had CC or even those boxes on the table where you tune to whichever station to which you want to listen.
The decor led me to believe the menu would be much more interesting than it was, but it took a page from most diners and spread the gamut of food options. The worst was definitely the Metro Cafe outside Atlanta near Stone Mountain. That menu had at least 4 different cuisines on 10 pages (Stop with the menu schizophrenia! You can't possibly keep that much fresh food.) and the worst service I have ever experienced.

But back to Sweet T's, since breakfast was served all day, my mom and I decided to go with the make your own omelets. I had cheddar, ham, spinach and mushrooms with a side of sausage, grits and a biscuit. The biscuits didn't come out with our meal but there was no explanation for why not and then I couldn't find my waitress to tell her. When we first got there, she seemed to be a good waitress but by the time we left she had too many tables apparently because she seemed overly harried and unable to focus... though there weren't that many people in the restaurant.

We sent the grits back before she got them on the table good because they were in clumps. When they first approached our table, I thought they were lumpy mashed potatoes. That's how thick they were. Not going to work. My mom and I got the home fries instead. After a period which took almost as long as our original meal, we got the home fries and they were undercooked. The biscuits were ugly and overly dense but tasted okay if a bit crunchy. No flake at all. I've seen frozen biscuits in the supermarket that looked better. (The kind that come individually frozen are AMAZING!!) You can't serve breakfast all day with that biscuit, though. This is the south. It needs work.

And worst of all: my omelet. WAY too much ham and a heavy hand with the salt. The mushrooms and spinach inside were delicious when I could find them but the salt in the egg and the salty ham combination forced me to massacre the omelet to get to the mushrooms and spinach, leaving an abundance of ham and egg on the plate. The side of sausage was good, but I had to ignore most of it as well to overcome the salty omelet. And it repeated on me. I woke up the next morning with heart ache. Thanks salt. I won't be going back.


Booty Bonanza

Open-toed booties are attacking me! With fringe, ruching, ties, grommet, woven, tall, short, heel, flat. Mess. These are all from Steve Madden, Nine West and Aldo.

I don't know whose idea it was to create these monstrosities but I beg of all of you: STOP!!


Not Picky, Aware of My Tastes

I have very specific likes and dislikes when it comes to food. I'm very open to trying (most) new things (I am not a fan of most Asian cuisines). A sample.

Tomatoes: only perfectly ripe. over or under and I won't eat it. And it must be on or in something. You will not see me eating tomato slices. And tomato soup? Disgusting.
Onions: Only cooked.
Nuts: yes, but not in or on my food.
Carrots: only raw, never cooked.
Broccoli: only cooked, never raw.
Apples: As long as they're not Granny Smith. Apples should be sweet. My fave are pink lady.
Peanut butter: yes but not as an ingredient in food and not with jelly.
Cheese: Love it! But only real ones, no Kraft singles or Velveeta for me.
Lettuce: as long as it's not iceberg.
Spinach: yes but I prefer baby spinach.
Turnips, beets, radishes, liver: No in any form.

That is a very, very short list.


It's Haute


Yes, the bakery concoction is what I'm talking about.

They are what's HAUTE.

Everywhere in Aventura, little kiosks of cupcakes are everywhere.

French Vanilla, Red Velvet, Death By Chocolate...

and don't start on the icings

well, I won't cause I don't like icing.

But yeah, get on that. No one is buying cakes, pies, or slices anymore. Its all about the mini cake.


Spring and Summer Forecast

I feel it coming and it's going to explode. Well, maybe not EXPLODE, but if you're smart and fashion forward, you'll hop on this.


But not just any floral. Floral with a stark white background. Like the dress in the middle which is actually not a good representation. I'm not sure about the gauzy-ness which you'd think would go with spring.  Naw, the fabric I see is a much more study cotton, and the style is a more traditional A-line. Something a woman in the 50's would wear.

Oooh, look at this link I found!!  It's a perfect picture of the look!  Spring floral

The next thing I'm going to say is a delicate one.  Like polka dots and stripes together, only the savviest of the savvy should attempt it.  Some will try, most will fail and be talked about.

I've seen it too many times EVERYWHERE for it to not be the hot thing for the season.  I'm trying really hard to conjure up how to be fly in it... Maybe a tank-top with minimal colors??  I can't get with the rainbow brite look... 

IDK, I'll make it a project with my class and we'll see how it looks!

Happy Shopping


Wow.  I went to this jean site and look what showed up for women. I knew I was onto something...  it's still ugly.  Maybe the rainbow would be a better look IF you dare to try.


Cowboy Hash

I had been wanting to try this recipe since I saw it in one of the Rachael Ray books I bought myself for Christmas at the crazily low price of $5 each. Those books never go on sale so I snapped them up with the QUICKNESS even though I was supposed to be buying gifts for others. It had to be done. The cowboy hash was DELICIOUS!! For the spices we used cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano, rosemary. All yummy. I would have used a touch less cayenne but Mr. Hot Food Rashan loved it. We even made the fresh salsa and included the juice of two limes which made it so unnecessarily full of love. Look! The eggs are in the front and oh yeah we subbed chorizo for the bacon in the hash. The salsa is in the back.


Funeral Attire

I've heard two points of view.

It's a celebration, a homegoing party. Wear your brightest colors cause the pain and suffering of living in this world is over. Now the good life begins in heaven.

Its a time a mourning. The world has lost an angel. Black or navy for the somber occassion.

Which side do you take?


Patterns for Life

My favorite restaurant growing up was Pizza Hut. Looking back to those days when reading 10 books got you a personal pan pizza, I was there at least twice a month. Anyway, knowing who I am now, I probably loved that place because of two things:

the Tiffany style lamps over every booth (okay, the ones I went to didn't have the names all over them)


the gingham tablecloths on every table

I mention these with particular interest in the latter.

As a person who's wardrobe consists of solid dresses, pants, and shirts in different colors, there are 3 patterns I do own.

Leopard (and I have that dress in pink)
(thanks Xpress for expanding my wardrobe)

The one fabric I love the most and for some weird reason do not own, is gingham. It is so refreshing and springy. So fun and easy. In the QG I got yesterday, there was a spread in homage to the pattern of my youth. Paired with a solid tie, gingham is the way to go for spring. And since we're on the subject of patterns for seasons, gon head and get your lumberjack plaid this winter. Thank me later.