Nobody likes a sad, skinny baby...nobody!

Whether I’m ordering a meal at a restaurant or cooking up something at home, enjoying what I eat brings me immense satisfaction. On the other hand, being disappointed in a meal sends me into tantrum mode.

I expect certain things out of a dining experience. I’m realistic about the standards I hold for each place, from the local taco bar to the five star steak house. What I've decided is that it's about a perfect balance between service, food quality, ambiance and price. That may seem like a lot to juggle, but Houston is a big city with a plethora of restaurants to choose from. There’s no reason to expect anything less than the best.

If you strip my needs down to the bare essentials, you'll find I'm very much like a baby; I love tasty food and I love to be happy. If an experience doesn't generate a sense of fulfillment for those two basic're gonna hear me cry.

Nobody likes a sad, skinny baby...nobody!

Homemade Pesto & Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

The Skinny: Roll your sleeves up and get ready to earn your meal.

The Fat: Blah, blah, blah about the economy and how we have to keep an eye on spending and cut down on dining out. WE GET IT. But dining in doesn't have to feel like punishment, it can be a fun activity that helps you really appreciate the food you put in your body.

You know I'm not exactly a health nut, but I don't eat fried food every day either. It's all about balance and enjoying yourself. I do love when I can almost cook a whole meal from things I already have at home...makes me feel so "old world."

I have a basil plant that was just asking for a pruning..and so it was "Pesto Night". I thought, since I'm already making the Pesto from scratch, why not play full out and make the pasta too. So my 15 year old goddaughter and I put our aprons on and set about creating the best meal ever!

Here's what you'll need: (besides some time to kill and elbow grease)

To make the Whole Wheat Pasta: Takes about 1-2 hours. I would start making the pasta first, then while the dough is resting turn out the pesto.

  • 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • little bit of water on hand
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl or on a large clean workspace. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the olive oil and mix. Add eggs one at a time, while mixing quickly with a fork until the dough is wet enough to come together. If it's still dry and some flour has not come together, add drops of water and continue mixing until it comes together. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is stiff and elastic. Cover, and let stand for 30 minutes to relax. (this is a good time to make the pesto)

I like to cut the dough into three manageable pieces and roll them into balls. I take one ball at a time and set the rest aside. Keep your surface floured so the dough doesn't stick. With a rolling pin I roll it out - flip- roll it out- flip and repeat until the dough is as thin as possible.

Use a sharp knife (or my favorite pasta making tool - a pizza cutter) to trim just enough of the edges to make the rolled out dough into a square or rectangle. Put the scraps with the extra dough. Use the cookie cutter to cut the dough into thin strips..aka your pasta.

Repeat this process until you've used all the dough, laying each batch of pasta out to dry on a clean cutting board or kitchen towel until they've dried (between 15mis & 1hour)

Right before you're ready to eat- add pasta to boiling water, cook for 3-4 minutes & drain. Mix pesto into hot pasta and the two will be ready to eat fresh off the stove.

Pesto (takes about 15 minutes to make)
  • Two (tightly packed) cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbs pine nuts
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2tbs soft butter
Some recipes will say "drizzle this slowly over this" and "put this in first and this in later". I say just throw all the ingredients all into a food processor and push the button. When it's all processed and looks like got PESTO.

Pour desired amount over hot pasta, mix and serve....ugh! so yummy!

Super Lazy Sloppy Joes w/ Field Green Salad

Didn't feel like chopping anything, didn't feel like much of a cleanup either. I just wanted a simple dish to make at home for me and my 15 year old goddaughter who was too busy updating her Facebook profile to weigh in on dinner options.

This recipe was little more than the result of a survey I took on my kitchen contents. I had ground turkey, buns, and a pantry full of spices & condiments. That being said; it was fun, simple, and not terribly unhealthy.

(This recipe could serve three, but in this case it served two with some meat leftover)

lb: Lean Ground Turkey (brown completely)

1/2cup: Ketchup
2tbs: Olive Oil
1tbs: Red cooking wine (just cause I had some)
dash: White Vinegar
1/8cup: Worcestershire sauce
1/8cup: Brown sugar
tsp: Garlic Powder
1/2tsp: celery seeds (just because I had some)

Salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

I made the sauce separately while the ground turkey cooked completely and browned in a pan, then I stirred in the sauce and let it cook into the meat. (medium heat)

I threw a couple of whole wheat buns in the toaster. While I was waiting for them to toast up a bit, I got a big bowl and filled it with about two hefty hand-fulls of Field Greens, tossed in some olive oil(about 2tbs), rice vinegar(about 4tbs), pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste and then put the servings on their plates.

Buns popped up, threw them on a plate and used a table spoon almost like an icecream scooper, to serve tight portions of the loose meat on the bun. I packed it on and let it spill over a bit onto the plate, then I took the top of the bun and pressed it on to hold the meat in.

Grab a fork, napkin (make that two) and a glass of cold water. It was great!

Wildflower- Made Me Cry (Bastrop, TX)

The Skinny: We were there for over an hour and we left hungry.

The Fat:
I'm a Houston gal, but we drove into the Bastrop for the weekend to attend a friend's graduation. On Sunday, six of us headed downtown to grab some breakfast. Were were actually on our way to Maxine's when we ran into some friends that suggested we try Wildflower. They said it was less crowded and less expensive so we thought we'd give it a go.

When we walked in the door the place was about 50% full and there were three servers standing up by the register. No one greeted us, so we looked around for a place to sit and just assumed we could choose for ourselves. Just then one of the waitresses nodded for us to take any table.

Our dull waitress took about 10 minutes to even greet us and give us menus, then another 5 minutes to take our drink order. We knew this was going nowhere fast so as soon as we got our beverages, we made sure to order our food.

We chatted and waited, took pictures and waited, watched people come in- waited, watched people leave-waited... Finally, I took my friend's 8 year old son out for a walk downtown while we waited. If I was getting bored, I knew this poor kid must have been.

After about 45 minutes we went up to our server and asked how much longer it would take to get our food. She said we were next in line. This place had 3 servers and and only about 7 tables occupied...what, exactly, was the problem?

About 10 minutes later she burst out of the kitchen with steaming plates of food. We all sat up straight in our chairs, moving napkins and drinks to make way for our feast. Too bad that food was for a table that had arrived AFTER us! When our wait hit the 60 MINUTE MARK, we politely asked to pay for our beverages and we left.

P.S.: Good Service and basic communication can go a long way. Had our waitress said "sorry, the kitchen was backed up", offered some bread, offered some friendly service, or (after more than 50 minutes) even offered to comp our meals - we may have been more empathetic and toughed it out.

Instead we walked right out the door, right across the street to (the very busy) Maxine's and were seated & eating our meals in under 15 minutes.