Sunday, September 30, 2012


Since my last post was a re-creation of the rosemary and olive oil fries served at Smashburger (my all-time favorite chain burger joint), I figured I should pay homage to the original creator.
Smashburger is a fun fresh restaurant that's popping up in random cities across America. Unfortunately, there's none within a 30-mile radius of my location, so I have to travel a ways to get my hands on the deliciousness. Fear not, like all great loves, this restaurant is worth going the distance for.
So, this weekend, I trekked across our fair state to go to Smashburger visit my boyfriend in Kalamazoo, where the lucky inhabitants have access to a Smashburger. Of course, we had to go there at least once to grab a burger. (psst - I went twice)

For those of you unlucky enough to have never been here before, let me break it down for you:

The menu is divided into smashburgers, smashchicken, salads, hot dogs, and sides. If you're going for a burger, you can choose a preset recipe or a build-your-own option. They also come in three different sizes -
 small, regular, and large.
You walk up to the counter, joyously place your order, and, of course, add on a side of smashfries. Then they hand you a number and bring it to your table.

I opted for the build-your-own smashburger option - it's only $4.29 for a regular-sized burger, and most basic toppings and sauces are free.

When the burger tray arrives at your table, you'll be in awe of its beauty.

Fresh beef 'smashed' together with my generous plethora of toppings - pickles, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, and smashsauce - all held together by a buttery egg bun.

Let me warn you - they're generous with the toppings here. Which means your hands will likely be covered in whatever sauce you put on your burger after the third bite. Dress appropriately, or wear a bib.

And don't let me forget the olive oil and rosemary french fries that I'm so giddy about.

Simply delicious.

The boyfriend opted for a more tame burger than mine - cheese, ketchup, mustard, and smashsauce. 

Is it just me, or does it look like he got more fries than me??
Perhaps I just ate mine too quickly to tell.

If you're looking for a smashburger in your area, they have a great directory here.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rosemary and Olive Oil Ovenfries

One of my favorite cheap burger joints is Smashburger. You walk in, look at the menu, pick out what you'd like, order at the counter, and they bring it to your table. Quick, delicious, and no tip necessary - it's like a Panera, but with burgers.
Besides the convenience, however, my favorite part about Smashburger is their delicious rosemary and olive oil french fries. Crispy and delicious without the weight of heavy oils.
So, naturally, I tried to create my own version at home.

As you can see, it turned out pretty well.

To make a heaping plate of fries like this, you will need:

1 russet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Start by peeling your potato. If you like a more rustic feel to your fries, leave some of the skin on, like I did.

Next, slice your potato into matchstick strips, about 1/4 inches thick. I promise, this gets them nice and crispy (but if you like a thicker steak fry feel, just keep them in the oven for an extra 10 minutes or so).

Put your fries into a large plastic bag. Add your olive oil and shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your frie-ies.
Next, add your cornstarch. Repeat.

Spread your fries out on a baking sheet and pop em in the hot oven. 

Set your timer for 25-30 minutes, pulling your fries out halfway through cook time and flipping them.

When you're about ready to take your fries out and serve, grab your sprig of rosemary.

Pluck the leaves off of the stem and chop them into little pieces for sprinkling. When your fries are done, add your rosemary and toss to coat.

Fresh, delicious, and oh-so-crispy. The creators of Smashburger would be proud.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Please Sir, Can I Have S'more?

The other day, I decided to redeem my free birthday drink coupon from Bigby Coffee. I was intrigued by one of their fall drink offers.
A S'more Latte.
Yup, you heard me. A S'more Latte.

For all of you out there who want your morning/afternoon/evening coffee to be a dessert as well as a caffeine boost, I highly suggest this scrumptious latte smothered in graham crackers, marshmallow sauce, and chocolate sauce.

Mallory and I grabbed two as we sat down to Skype with Katie and hear all about her merry times in London town thus far.

And my photo attempt ended up blending all our faces together in a crazy collage of awesome.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mastering the Art of French Apron-Wearing

In my household, I was notoriously famous for making messes.
Spilling syrup on the brand new carpet? Done.
Spilling yogurt as soon as we moved in to our new house? Done.
Spilling black ink in my room? Done. (I went through a Harry Potter phase and bought a quill pen and ink. Literally had to cut the carpet out and replace it because we couldn't get the permanent ink out of the white carpet.)

Needless to say, I haven't grown out of this trait (although I've become more careful). However, every now and then, particularly when I'm in a hurry, I've been known to spill a drop or two on the couch, the carpet, or my clothes. And I always seem to be in the mood for spaghetti whenever I'm wearing white.

Fortunately, I've found a solution - my first ever apron!

A must-have for all those with occasional klutzy hands, I picked this one out because of its adorable design. Flared skirt, black bows, and delicate Parisian designs. I snagged this Bon Appetit Apron here.

I'm absolutely in love with these little French-inspired doodles. 

If you find yourself spill-challenged like me, but hate the look of plain aprons, here are some other ones I can recommend:

This Alice and Wonderland-style apron is excellent for the quirky cook. Check it 
out here.

I also love this egg-and-bacon version of the skull and crossbones logo.
Find it here.

What are your favorite dressy aprons?

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chickpea Poppers

I adore Indian food. Unfortunately, being of European descent, I'm not very seasoned (pardon the bad pun) at using spices found west of Poland. Fortunately, I was able to use one of my favorite Indian spices when developing this recipe.
Remember several weeks ago when I posted about The Grange? And raved about how delicious their fried chickpea recipe was? And said that I would be re-creating it sometime soon?
Well, the time has come.

I call these bite-sized balls of crunchy and spicy deliciousness "Chickpea Poppers" because they pop and sizzle while they're cooking! Think of them as a spicy alternative to popcorn and feel free to make a bowl during your next movie night.

To make this recipe, you will need:

2 cans chickpeas, drained
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil

Start by patting your chickpeas dry and putting them in a bowl.

Sprinkle your curry powder, half of the paprika, and the salt and pepper onto your chickpeas, stirring with a spoon to equally distribute the spices.

Next, pour oil into a large flat-bottomed pan until the bottom is covered with a thin layer. Heat on medium-high until hot, then drop your chickpeas in. Make sure your oil is heated enough, otherwise it'll start to soak into the chickpeas instead of frying their outsides.

Heat the chickpeas for 15 minutes, stirring often, until they turn crispy, golden and bubbly. Like I said, you'll hear them popping as the oil fries them up into airy little spice balls.

Once the chickpeas are browned and covered with a crispy bubbly skin, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika over your chickpeas and stir. Pour them out into a dish and munch away!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

21 Foodie

Yesterday was my 21st birthday, so I was understandably excited for this week to begin. After all, here in America, there are only a few milestones in your life that you can be truly excited about. Turning 16 is eventful, because you get to drive a car, symbolizing your freedom. Turning 18 is eventful, because you're considered a legal adult, symbolizing your independence. Turning 21 means you get to drink, symbolizing the hangover that will last for the next 70+ years of your life.
Unfortunately, since my birthday fell on a Monday (which happens to be my busiest day of classes), I didn't get to celebrate my 21st with hours and hours of binge drinking like most of my friends plan to do.
But, in order to make the most of my day, I decided to do a spree of birthday deals leading up to my birthday and on the special day itself.

For those of you fortunate enough to own a Starbucks card, be sure to register your card online and sign up for their rewards program. Just signing up makes you eligible for a free drink on your birthday - any drink, any size.

I started out my birthday morning joyously with a venti Salted Caramel Mocha - yum!!

Unfortunately, the fun was halted shortly after when class, studying, a work training meeting, and more studying interrupted my otherwise delightful birthday.

Fortunately, when the evening rolled around, the fun was finally able to begin. I spruced up quickly and opened up a round of presents. One of my favorites was this tiny whisk necklace from my sister.

 After presents, my family, Maria and I went off to dinner.

The Jolly Pumpkin is one of Ann Arbor's best gastropubs. With its own line of home brewed beers and a selection of quality food, it's the perfect place to go when you want excellent food and excellent drink without snobby waiters raising their eyes when you don't order a wine or cocktail.

These kitchen utensil chandeliers were my favorite part of the decor - I'd love to have one at my place!

Maria and I overlooking the huge menu. This place has a separate book just for beers, cocktails, and seasonal menu items.

Since I just couldn't bear to pick only one drink for my 21st celebration, I got five of them!

The beer list from right to left is listed on the coaster below. The Bam is their classic and a very smooth light beer, but the chocolate stout was the most surprising. With an after bite similar to dark roasted coffee, it was definitely a memorable taste.

We selected an appetizer of truffle fries - thin shoestrings topped with truffle salt and rosemary. At only $5, these were absolutely to die for.

Next up came our entrees. Maria selected a delicious looking brie and chicken sandwich with a side salad...

I got shrimp and grits with succotash... 

Mom got whole-wheat gnocchi and veggies...

And Dad got an amazing carnivore pizza that came with slab bacon on top...

For dessert, I selected the vegan chocolate cake and coconut milk chocolate ice cream. Absolutely sinful.

Maria grabbed herself these adorable little pumpkin whoopie pies with a cream cheese filling.

Clearly I was very excited about something Maria said.... but I composed myself for a dignified portrait.

After I said goodbye to my parents and Maria, I headed over to Lisa's house for some champagne on the porch to celebrate my 21st and Eammon's 25th.

And eventually, I crawled back into my bed and recognized my newfound adulthood.

For those of you who liked the pics of the Jolly Pumpkin, be sure to stop in sometime. Most of their pizzas and sandwiches are around $10-$15, which is incredibly cheap given their quality, but their seasonal menu gives you a classier dish for a slightly higher price.

Also, if you'd like to get some extra freebies on your birthday, be sure to sign up for Brueggers, Coldstone, and Noodles and Co. rewards that send you e-gift coupons for free stuff (usually lasts up to one week before and after your birthday).

Also, if you're an Ann Arbor local, sign up for an Ashley's bar Friends-of-the-Owner card and get a free pizza loaded onto your account for use during the month of your birthday!

I'm off to go be an adult!

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