Where Will the Next Top Chef Be??

>> Friday, February 27, 2009

I don't if anyone is as intrigued as Jef and I, but we want to know where the next Top Chef is going to be!

Thoughts anyone??? I've got a couple, but I will keep them to myself; I want to hear what my dear foodies have to say :)


Chocolate Cherry Pie Martini

Chocolate Cherry Martini

Got your attention didn't I? I have to admit I love a good chocolate martini (choc-mar as they are affectionately known), and this recipes adds a little touch of cherry - love it!

1½ oz. Zodiac Vodka
½ oz. Dark Cacao
½ oz. Disaronno Amaretto
¾ oz. Half & Half
Sink ¼ oz. Cherry Juice or Grenadine
Combine ingredients 1-4 in shaker w/ ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into martini glass, sink ¼ oz. cherry juice or grenadine and serve.
Combine. Shake. Strain. Pour. Drink.
Got it.



>> Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ok there has been some problems with the comments and I am fully aware of this and am working to fix it, I promise!

Until then, if you wish to make a comment here are the following steps to take:

1) Write your comment
2) Select the account under which you would like to have represented (for most this will be google)
3) Post comment
4) Type in the word in the box
5) Ok this is where a lot of people have trouble -- if the word DOES NOT APPEAR, hit finish, then try to post again and for whatever reason that seems to work and the word will appear.

Big post tomorrow that will require some feedback so just wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page when it comes to commenting!!


Lexington Barbeque

>> Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So in the biggest fat kid move I have made in a while, Jef and I drove an hour north of Charlotte this weekend to a little place called Lexington for some of their famous Barbeque.

I have long been fascinated with barbeque ever since I went to the University of Alabama for my undergrad. Growing up in Texas I simply referred to barbeque as brisket, because that was primarily the type of barbeque served. It wasn't until one fateful day at lunch that Elizabeth Poindexter corrected me and informed me that I was not eating "brisket" but I was eating "barbeque." Since then I have discovered that there are really several types of BBQ ranging throughout the South:

  • Memphis
  • Alabama/Georgia/Tennessee
  • Lexington (North Carolina)
  • Texas
The difference comes from a plethora of factors, but in my book it's all about the sauce. Each region has their own spin on a sauce, and of course they think there's is the best.

Listen, I've done Texas, Memphis, and Alabama, and I'm sorry I am not going to dislike pulled pork of beef, I'm just not. They're all good and based on where I am that day, that will be my favorite.

There was only one kind of BBQ that I had yet to try -- North Carolina. Jef told me I had to wait to get it from Lexington, so time passes and there was never really a good weekend to go, that is, until recently.

So we set off on Saturday for the hour drive to Lexington. I was told that this was going to be a restaurant on the side of the road and I would know when I would see it...he was not kidding. Popping up like a lighthouse ready to weather and guide me through my hunger storm, was the white building with the simple sign that said "Lexington Barbeque."

Immediately we parked in the lot next door because the restaurant lot was full (Um, it was 2pm mind you) we stood in line behind 20 other patrons all ready to get full on some good ole BBQ.

Time passes quickly and we are seated in about 10 minutes. Jef already knows what he wants and I do too, as I had been staring ever plate that passed by down, making a mental note of all the good stuff.

We both ordered a Cheerwine soda, which is like a cherry cola but NOT like a cherry coke. It's just awesome, try me. Now its off to the races, I ordered the BBQ plate, with a chopped salad and french fries and Jef got a pulled-pork sandwich with beans and onion rings. This is meal that the contestants on the Biggest Loser would gladly sell their soul for.
Lexington BBQ

The food arrives. It was just shocking.

That is really the only way to describe it. A mound of pork, and fried golden goodness arrives and I just can't contain myself. I didn't know where to begin. I went the safe route - onion ring. Oh, sweet mother. It was hot, and perfectly cooked so the onion was soft and didn't fall out of the ring when you bit into it.

Next, I went for the fries. Good, nothing like the onion rings though. They would be eaten last. Finally, it was time for the main stage. The barbeque. I threw on a little sauce, a little au jus, and let it rest for just a minute absorbing all the goodness. Then, it was time. It was time to eat.

Either I haven't had barbeque in a while or that was just really ridiculously good. It was so tender and smokey I couldn't believe it. I just knew that the pork had been on the smokers (is that the right terminology?) for hours.

Overall, I would have to say that this was 110% worth the hour drive. It was good, obviously filling, and a unique experience overall. Lexington Barbeque has been owned by the same family since it opened and I am sure then intend to keep it that way.

If you are ever on the hunt for the best barbeque in North Carolina, Lexington Barbeque is the obvious (dare, I say only?) answer.

Hwy 29-70 South,
Lexington, NC
(704) 249-9814


No Reservations - Disappearing Manhattan - The Follow Up

>> Tuesday, February 24, 2009

As you may recall, on Monday I told you about an episode of No Reservations focusing on classic New York eateries that are slowly vanishing off the radar...well I watched it...

As your expert in all things culinary (HA!) I feel it is my duty to guide you through the episode in case you missed it; here are the highlights...
  • Hell's Kitchen - Esposito's Pork Shop - Sweet mother. Pork-lover's heaven.
  • Hell's Kitchen - Manganaro's Groceria - Italian grocery store. I feel I would do a disservice to my people if i don't eat there.
  • Harold's Square-ish - Keen's - Apparently this is a true New York steakhouse.
  • Lower East Side - Russ and Daughter - Fish store that started as a push cart and looks like it packs a mean Lox.
  • Lower East Side - Katz's Deli - This has been on my list for a lonnnnnnnng time and now I have a completely irrational sense of urgency to eat there soon. Close to now. If I could right now.
  • Flatiron - Eisenberg's Sandwich - Soda pop and sandwich shop. Looks adorable.
  • Upper East Side (Yorkville) - Schaller and Weber - Wow. I'm awkward that they serve beer in a glass shaped like a foot, yet oddly intrigued. The pork shank looks ridiculous.
  • Chinatown - Hope Kee - I have to be honest, I am SO excited about this. With so many Chinese restuarants it's impossible to know which ones are good and which ones are just deep fried meat, full of MSG and thick syrups. I will say this - I always knew there were two menus at Chinese restuarants because that is the one that my dad ALWAYS orders off of.
  • Midtown East - Le Veau Dor - French eatery that appears to have never been changed...the man who runs the restaurant (Robert') looks beyond adorable. I mean I would go there just for him. He is like a sassy Grandpa. And he carves table-side! Too cute!
  • East Village - McSorley's - Again, a place that I have wanted to go for a long time. I actually took a picture of this for my mom because she loves Irish pubs, and aparently this is one of the oldest in Manhattan. I'm not actually sure that is where he went, but they showed it a lot.

Well there you have it, 40 minutes of TV wrapped up in a neat little bow. Since I haven't eaten at any of these places I can't suggest them, but as soon as I do, I promise I'll let you know!


New Poll

Simliar, but different...

Whoever voted for Fabio last week, was clearly wrong (that's ok, he was on my team).

So this week I really want to know -- Who do you think will be the next Top Chef????

Don't forget to watch Wednesday February 25 at 10 EST on Bravo.

If you haven't read Tom Colichhio's Blog I highly suggest it! It offers lots of unique insights into the eipsodes: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs/tom-colicchio


No Reservations - Disappearing Manhattan

>> Monday, February 23, 2009

I am so excited to check out this episode of No Reservations tonight. Since I am still a new New Yorker/Manhanttanite (I guess a year and half is still new right?) I can't wait to see which restaurants I must eat at before they "disappear".

Did anyone catch the episode from last week? Philippine cuisine looks interesting, but in a good way. I never really thought about how it was kind of left out of the whole "Asian food" scene...

Anyways, I would definitely suggest checking out the Disappearing Manhattan episode tonight at 10 EST on the Travel channel!


Pomegrante Harvest

>> Friday, February 20, 2009

Someone from Zodiac Vodka sent me this recipe and it sounds incredible!! Definitely appropiate for Friday or really any day of the week when you need a drink.


oz. Zodiac Vodka

¾ oz. Pomegranate Schnapps

1 oz. Sweet & Sour

1 oz. Apple Juice

1 oz. Pineapple Juice

1 oz. Sierra Mist


Couldn't be easier -- Mix Zodiac vodka, pomegranate schnapps, sweet & sour, apple juice and pineapple juice then simply top with a splash of Sierra Mist.

Hello delicious!

Happy Friday and have a good weekend!!!


Red Wine Vinaigrette

>> Thursday, February 19, 2009

There are so many variations of a red wine vinaigrette, its hard to have a favorite. However, this recipe has quickly moved up in my ranks. It's a small recipe so its perfect for one or two salads and if you like what you taste -- make more.

It's a variation on this recipe I wrote about a while ago.


  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano (really just a pinch)
  • 1 small shallot (use half of one if it seems big)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Honey


Combine red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, oregano, shallot and just a touch of honey and whisk together in a bowl. Once that combination is mixed together well slllllllooowwwwwwwwly stream in some EVOO, I would say about 2-3 tablespoons worth, and whisk away.

It's really that easy, the only hard part is trying to hold the bottle of EVOO and whisk at the same time, but you'll manage.

Now if you wondering "why honey?" Good news. I'll tell you. I've made this dressing more times than I can count and I love it, but sometimes the red wine is just too bitter for me. So I find that adding the honey cuts out that bite a bit.

If you like your dressings a little less sweet and a little more, garlic-y (sure, why not), instead of shallow chop up a clove of garlic.

This is great on any salad!


Spice Rubbed Salmon

>> Wednesday, February 18, 2009

spice rubbed salmon

A little spicy, a little smokey, a lot of good.

This whole meal can be put together in about 15 minutes and is tasty, healthy and delicious.


- 1 salmon filet
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt
- Pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix together cumin and chili powder (really just a dash of each).

Rub EVOO on salmon, salt and pepper filet, then sprinkle spice mixture on top and pat into the salmon filets.

Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes, and there you go. Done.

Come on how good does that sounds/look?


Lotssssssss of Improvements

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So today I spent a good part of the day updating the Frugal Foodies Facebook page and hopefully there will be a lot more to come. If you haven't become a fan I think you should...immediately. Like right now.
Frugal Foodies Facebook page

Also, I have created a twitter account and am somehow going to connect it to this blog so there will be a mix of RSS feed of post and my own special commentary. 

Frugal Foodies Twitter
In addition, you will note that there is now a POLL off to the left hand side, asking you to cast your vote as to who will be the next Top Chef. 

So here is what I need everyone to do: Join my facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and of course, take part in this very scientific and important poll. 


No Reservations - Philippines

>> Monday, February 16, 2009

So I am going to try out something new here on the Frugal Foodies…every Monday I am going to be writing about the upcoming episode of "No Reservations" which airs on the Travel Channel and features one of my favorite celebrity chefs (although I am sure he would hate me calling him that) Anthony Bourdain.

For those of you that are not familiar with the show, Anthony (or Tony rather), travels around from place to place submerging himself in local culture and cuisine. His no-nonsense attitude makes for an opinionated fair sure to entertain anyone slightly interesting in traveling or food.

This week he travels to the Philippines and form the preview (seen below) it looks like it's going to be a good one!

To read more about Tony's adventures you can check out his blog here.

Let me know if anyone watches the show, I would love to hear what you think!!


Course 3: Sake and Soy Marinated Rib-eyes

>> Thursday, February 12, 2009

So for the third course I was thinking that nothing says “Be My Valentine” than a nice thick, big hunk of meat (rib-eye that is). This is a great marinade courtsey of the “real Frugal Foodie” Jef. Like the butternut squash raviolis this can be made ahead of time and needs to marinate about 24 hours before you intend to cook (ok not really 24 hours, but the longer the better, I would minimum of 2 hours).

It’s so easy, only 5 ingredients (including the steak) and I promise, you and your valentine will both love it.


  • Soy Sauce
  • Sake
  • Orange Juice
  • Minced Garlic
  • 2 Ribeyes (make sure they are good and marbleized)


Basically all you want to do is combine equal parts soy sauce, sake and orange juice and pour over steaks (generally for two steaks I would do a ¼ cup of each, which seems like a lot but whatever). You can do this in a large plastic bag or Tupperware.

Then toss in about a tablespoon of minced garlic and let that mixture soak on the steaks for 24 hours. Be sure to flip several times in between.

Then once the 24 hours are up, I say fire up the grill or grill pan and cook till desire temperature. I think any steak above medium is a crime, but cook it however you like.

If you aren’t sure how to long to cook you steak, click here for a chart that will explain everything.

Now as for sides, I think something simple that can be done while the steaks are cooking is best; something like Rosemary Roasted Potatoes.

The potatoes take about 30 minutes start to end so plan out your timing accordingly.


Course Two: Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

>> Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Listen, if your valentine wasn’t in love with you after the first course, they DEFINITELY will be after this. This recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge (if same day) or even frozen for up to a month or so.


  • 1/4 of butternut squash (basically 15-20 1 inch cubes)
  • 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 large shallot (2 smaller ones)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 package wonton wrappers (or eggroll wrappers)

    For Sage Brown Butter Sauce:
  • Butter (salted or unsalted)
  • Sage leaves


Ok, I am not going to lie, this is pretty intense and there are a lot of steps, but again you can make this ahead of time so its fine, and it’s delicious, therefore totally worth it.

First things first, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While that is preheating chop your butternut squash into 1 inch cubes. 15-20 cubes will be perfect (there are more in my picture because I am making double).

Toss those some extra virgin olive oil and heavily salt and pepper and leave in the oven for 22-25 minutes. Be sure to check about 15 minutes in and shake the pan. Once the squash is fork-tender set aside and let cool.

While that is cooking, start chopping your garlic and shallots. A course chop will be fine, since they will be going in a food processor. Next, turn skillet on medium heat and skillet drizzle EVOO (enough to coat the pan). Toss in garlic and shallots. Let them cook down for about five minutes then set aside.

Ok, so once everything is cooked and cooled. Toss the spices (cinnamon and nutmeg), ricotta,

squash, shallots and garlic mixed into a food processor (a blender would work, but you will have to push down the mixture a lot). Blend until everything is smooth.

Next take a spoon full of the filling and place in the center of your wonton wrapper. Brush the sides of the wonton with water or egg wash (I have done it both ways and they both work fine) and place another wonton wrapper on top and press firmly on the edges keeping the filling in the center.

Once you’ve made all the raviolis (I think four per person will work, unless your date is really hungry) simply drop into a boiling water (be sure to add salt!) and wait till raviolis float to the surface, 2-3 minutes. If you are making these ahead of time, line parchment paper on a tray and lay ravioli flat cover and put in the fridge until you need them (same day only). Make sure they don’t touch or they will stick together.

Ok, so this might make more than you and your date want. Again, this is ok; you can freeze these for up to a month. So just do the same thing, line parchment paper and put in Tupperware. Done. Easy.

Now for the sauce...

While your raviolis are cooking, take 3-4 tablespoons of butter (depending on how much sauce and raviolis you have, about 1 tbsp of butter is good for 3-4 raviolis) and drop into skillet on medium heat.

Once butter has melted drop in sage leaves that are removed from their stems. Once, the butter will turns an amber color its ready.

The next part is the easiest of all; spoon over raviolis and serve! You can throw some parmesan cheese on there if you want.

Ok so there you have it. Course two.

Going to be honest...I have a big night tonight so I don’t know if I can make course three for tomorrow, but I promise you, it will be here by Thursday!



>> Monday, February 9, 2009

Ok, so I am going to try a new thing out here on the Frugal Foodies...and I think you'll like it...

My friend Frances is an incredibly talented and takes beautiful, beautiful pictures, most of which can be seen here.

Anyways, I've commissioned her to do some artwork for the site, and to start off she took some gorgeous shots of my favorite things - food.

Anyways, here for your enjoyment is one of my favorite photos that you can set as your screensaver. All you have to do is right click the image and there should be a "Set as Background" option.

If the image doesn't work or looks distorted in anyway, just email me!


Course One: Ricotta and Honey Toast Appetizers

>> Sunday, February 8, 2009

This is a great easy recipe that only takes about 20 minutes to make and can be made for two people or many!


  • Loaf of French Bread

  • Ricotta cheese

  • Honey

  • Olive Oil

  • Salt

  • Pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Next, cut toast into ½ inch slices, however many you and your valentine will eat J

Line the slices of bread on a cookie sheet and drizzle with some olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Once the bread is warm and a little crusty, spread a dollop of ricotta cheese on top, and then drizzle with some honey. Throw a little dash of pepper and salt and serve.

Boom. Roasted. Done.


Valentine’s Day Menu

So with Valentine's Day approaching, I thought this would be the perfect time to put together a simple menu (I promise nothing TOO fancy, but just enough to be special). I'll be introducing a new course each day this week; so be prepared, Monday-Thursday will have a new menu item, with Friday recapping it all.

I am really excited to do this menu and hopefully everyone will enjoy it!


Top Chef Talk

>> Thursday, February 5, 2009


That is really all that needs to be sad. If she didn't have the worst attitude next to Leah, I might be sad...

However, this does cause reason for concern -- Is Stefan really going to win???? Undoubtably he is the best, but there is something to be said about a chef inspiring those around them, and I sincerely believe that Stefan does not do that.



Anthony Bourdain Talks Briefly About Blackbird Restaurant

>> Monday, February 2, 2009

As some of you may remember a few months ago I wrote about Blackbird Restaurant in Chicago.

Well I was catching up on one of my favorite chefs, Anthony Bourdain, and in his blog post about Chicago he mentions the wonder Blackbird Restaurant.

Check it out here!



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