Saturday, August 29, 2015

Top 5 Eateries in Gainesville

I know I usually review good restaurants in their own, separate posts, but in honor of all the freshmen rolling into town I thought I'd do a quick post detailing some of the best food in Gville, most of which won't break the bank.

In no particular order, here are five of my loves.

  1. Relish
    Get to know it. Relish has some fantastic burgers; beef, veggie, even salmon! They have a topping bar that puts all others to shame (think sriracha, peanut butter, and pineapple). They also have some wonderfully salty fries which you can dip in curry ketchup (try it). It's also very conveniently located across from the Murphree area (holla atcha gurl. {does anyone actually say that?}) in midtown.
    Average meal cost: $9
  2. Midnight Cookies
    Lin twins as hand models again
    If that picture alone didn't convince you, let's talk about Midnight Cookies for a hot second. These lovely people will DELIVER fresh baked, hot cookies to you IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Yes, really. It's what you need and deserve in the middle of a long night of studying (or watching movies). They have funky flavors like chicken & waffles or red velvet. So, so good.
    Cost: $1.30 per cookie but they have deals on dozens or half dozens.
  3. Peach Valley
    Two words: Sunday. Brunch. This place is the place to go. Let me just tell you, they have such good food. They have the best chicken & waffles EVER. So good. Wow. They also have lunch food, but honestly, it's the breakfast stuff you want. There's usually a long wait, especially on Sundays though, so be ready for that.
    Average meal cost: $9
  4. Vello's
    This place actually is pretty expensive. However, if you need a place to go to dinner with your parents (to celebrate straight A's, or an A, or straight B's, or ANYTHING), this place is incredible. They have a grill and let me just tell you, the food coming off that grill is spectacular.
    Average meal cost: $30
  5. The Flying Biscuit
    I couldn't resist putting another brunch place on here, sorry. Everything this place makes is homemade and oh so good. Have the grits and a biscuit. And other stuff, but those are must-tries. Their shrimp and grits is flawless too. Eat up.
    Average meal cost: $10

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

White Pizza with Arugula Salad

White pizza is sort of one of my favorite things, but I hadn't made it from scratch until now. It's garlicky and savory and wow so good. The arugula pushes it over the edge. It's peppery and I topped it with lemon and olive oil for a tangy twist.

Already looking awesome

I made my pizza with the dough they sell at Publix. If you want to make it homemade, you can, of course, but I didn't have the time or a rolling pin. I also didn't have a pizza pan, so instead we're having a weird oblong oval pizza. You end up with oddly shaped slices, but oh well.

Hello beautiful
You need to make this. It'll fill your kitchen (and potentially the entire residence hall) with an amazing smell. Praise. You can eat it naked, as above, or add the arugula salad like I did. So so good either way.

Salad Pizza
1 pizza dough
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
1/2 cup arugula
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

  1. Stretch the dough to fit the pan. It should be about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Drizzle about 2 tbsp of the oil on the dough. Add 2 tbsp of the garlic.
  3. Spread the ricotta onto the dough.
  4. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top, then add half the Parmesan.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.
  6. Once out of the oven, add the remaining garlic and Parmesan.
  7. Cool slightly, then add the arugula to the warm pizza.
  8. Drizzle lemon juice and oil onto arugula, and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

College Cooking Tips

So you're all moved in at school, you don't have a meal plan, and you also aren't 100% sure how to cook. Let's chat for a sec about how to avoid a) burning your kitchen down, b) making food that doesn't taste good, and c) living on Lean Cuisine and Chikfila for a year.

  1. Plan your meals in advance.
    I'm not saying you need to schedule them down to the minute or anything, but at least have some idea of which days you want to eat out and which days you want to cook. If you leave it all up to chance, it's easy to get to December without ever cooking a meal.
  2. Pick simple recipes at first.
    It's tempting, but don't make the first meal you cook by yourself fancy. Start out with something simpler, like spaghetti or burgers. Making familiar food is comforting, and also harder to mess up. As you learn your way around in the kitchen, you can make crazier stuff.
  3. Find a friend to cook with.
    If you find someone who loves cooking AND knows what they're doing, you're golden. They'll teach you. If you find someone who also doesn't know what they're doing, that's okay too. You'll have an extra pair of hands, and a new friend. You can learn together.
  4. Make a grocery list and STICK TO IT.
    This goes back to the meal planning thing. You should pick a recipe, and then figure out what you'll need to buy for it. Then make a list and buy those things....instead of five bags of chips that will go stale before you can get to them.
  5. Get everything ready before you even turn on the stove.
    In my residence hall, the kitchen is on a different floor from my room. When I cook, I carry everything up before I start. You don't want to realize halfway through a recipe that you left the spatula in your room. It's inconvenient and unsafe.
  6. Scale down recipes or make food for one.
    Your room isn't that big, so your mini fridge probably isn't either. You don't want to use that precious space for leftovers that you probably won't even eat. Either scale down your recipes or make ones that only have a serving or two.
  7. Don't let it intimidate you.
    You've got this. I believe in you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'm-Not-Good-At-Naming-Things-Don't-Ask-Me Hummus

The name for this post came from my former roommate, who, when I asked her what to name this hummus responded with, "I don't know. It's delicious, but I'm not good at naming things. Don't ask me." So that's the name.

This recipe is also super exciting because it's the first recipe I've made in my dorm kitchen. Also, I know these pictures aren't the prettiest, but lighting isn't great in here, so bear with me. This recipe is also the first one on the blog that's vegetarian AND vegan. So exciting.

Taking pics on the water fountain because that's where the light is
I made this hummus in a blender, which takes awhile, so if you have a food processor, that's probably the better idea. However, I feel like most college students are more likely to have a blender? Anyway, it's totally doable. So is cooking in college, even in a dorm. You've got this.

I made a pretty normal hummus and then topped it with tomatoes and green onions because 1) yum. and 2) pretty! and 3) summer.

Nameless Hummus
2 cans chick peas
2/3 cup olive oil (I also think sesame oil would be really good if you feel like spending that much money on oil)
juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup green onions, chopped

  1. Blend together the chick peas, olive oil, and lemon juice. You're probably going to need to stir around a few times, especially if you're using a blender. When it's smooth, you're done, but it might take a little while.
  2. Pour into a bowl, then add the salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir/mash around.
  3. Sprinkle tomatoes and green onions on top. Serve with pita chips or whatever else you like.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

College Kitchen Essentials

So. You're all set to go to college, and you think you want to try your hand at the whole cooking thing. But you don't want to buy stuff you don't need, and you don't want to be halfway through a recipe and realize you don't have a piece of equipment you need. Let me help you figure out what to buy.

You simply must have mixing bowls. This is the Pyrex 8 Piece Mixing Bowl Set. They are $21.95 at Target. I like them because they come with little lids, which is helpful if you make something that needs to be refrigerated. The lids also tell you how much each bowl can hold, and that's nice to know when you're trying to pick which one to use.

Everyone needs a frying pan. I don't think you need a whole set, though. One is plenty and typically all you'll need for a recipe. I like this one, again from Target, for $15.

Measuring cups and spoons are also essential, and this set has everything you need. It's only $10 from Macy's, and I'm in love with the space saving design (dorms are not roomy) and the colors.

There are some kitchen utensils that you might not think of, but you almost definitely will need at some point. This set has all of them, including measuring cups and spoons. So if you weren't a fan of the ones above, here's another option. The whole set is $40 from (you guessed it...) Target.

You'll also want to have a pot set, or at least one "all purpose" pot. They come in handy for everything from pasta to hard boiled eggs.

You need at least one sharp knife and a cutting board, but I'm loving these which I've seen priced anywhere from $30-$60 online. THE COLORS THOUGH.

Those are all of your absolutely essential items. Good luck with your classes and your cooking!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Spicy & Salty Potato Salad

It's so good
Need a side dish for a barbecue? Are those over? I really hope not because that would mean summer is over and my classes only JUST ended so that would be a problem. 

Potato salad is something every occasion involving grilled food needs. It's cool and refreshing. However, I eat a lot of potato salad that's....lacking. Sometimes it's too sweet, sometimes it's bland, sometimes it's swimming in a pool of mayo. Ugh. Fear not, this recipe is not that. There is mayo, but it's used sparingly, and this is anything BUT bland or sweet. I like my potato salad savory.

I like using red potatoes because they're pretty and also the peels tend to be thinner. I'm one of those people that doesn't peel my potatoes for potato salad because that's tedious and the peels don't bother me. You are, of course, welcome to do whatever you want.

Alllllll the flavors
As you can see above, I like to add lots of stuff. Nothing (at least in my opinion???) is too un-traditional, but oh my gosh it's good together. I also threw in sriracha. The amount suggested makes a potato salad with a little kick. That being said, I have a pretty high spicy tolerance, so take that with a grain of salt.

Sweet & Spicy Potato Salad
7 red potatoes (or about 7 cups), cubed
2/3 cup mayonnaise (you might need a little more)
2 ribs of celery, chopped (or about 1/4 cup)
1/8 cup red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 tbsp sriracha (add more or less depending on your spicy tolerance)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Emeril's Essence (mentioned in the guac post)

  1. Add the cubed potatoes to a pot of water, place over high heat. Add a dash of salt to the water, then boil until the potatoes are soft enough to easily stick a fork into. Remove from heat, drain, and allow them to cool.
  2. Once the potatoes are only slightly warm (NOT HOT), add the other ingredients and mix, without breaking up the potatoes.
  3. You can either refrigerate until cold or serve lukewarm. I like it both ways. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

What Should I Eat? 2

Food presented by the lovely Ginnie and Fanning
So, I feel like here in Gainesville we get stuck in a repetitive loop of two breakfast/brunch places; Peach Valley and Flying Biscuit. While I love both of those places, they can be expensive, and sometimes you just need a change. I'm here to tell you about a place you probably haven't heard of: Bagels Unlimited.

Bagels Unlimited is on 34th, in the same plaza as the Winn Dixie, meaning it's closer to campus than Flying Biscuit is.

As the name suggests, Bagels Unlimited is home to some beautiful looking bagels. However, they also have typical (and atypical) breakfast food.

My favorite thing I ate was my double chocolate muffin. They have homemade muffins, which are already fantastic, but instead of traditionally toasting them, they butter them up and grill them on the cook top. So good.

They have a HOT SAUCE WALL.
If you're looking for somewhere super classy with traditional "brunch" feel, this is not the place to go. It definitely has a very humble, eclectic feel. It's also very small, so be ready to wait on weekend mornings. Despite all that, the waitresses were very friendly and attentive, and made us feel very welcome.

If you're in the Gainesville area, I cannot recommend this place enough. Go, go, go.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Shirley Temple Floats


These floats are exactly what you need in your life. Drink them to celebrate a high test score. Drink them to soothe the pain of having to run home in pouring rain (this happened). Share them with friends or keep them for yourself. They're delightfully pretty and colorful and sweet and creamy.

I found this grenadine in Target. Target is, of course, one of my favorite places, but it doesn't exactly rush to mind when I consider places to find fun new ingredients. That being said, I was in there a few weeks ago and grabbed this on a whim, sure I could figure out what to do with it. Shirley Temples are sort of the obvious thing, but I decided to play with them a little(!).

These are quite a sugar rush, but I'm a fan of that. Adjust the amount of grenadine according to the strength of your sweet tooth.

Pretty in Pink Floats
1 can lemon-lime soda (I used Sprite Zero because it's what I had, but you can do whatever you want)
1-2 oz. cherry grenadine (I used just under 2 oz. It's a very strong, very sweet flavor. You can use less if you aren't as crazy as I am)
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream (I let it soften for about one episode of Friends because I wanted it a little melty)

  1. Pour the soda into a measuring cup, then gently add the grenadine.
  2. Add lime juice to the soda mixture.
  3. Add a couple spoonfuls of ice cream to the bottom of a glass.
  4. Gently pour soda into glass.
  5. Add a scoop of ice cream to the top. You may have a little extra soda, so make a baby float or just drink it plain.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Favorite Food Bloggers

Do you already have a beautifully cultivated list of food blogs you follow? If so, I feel blessed to have made the cut. Are you new to the food blog scene? If so, I'm here for you. Here are my favorites:

How Sweet It Is This is the very first food blog I ever found and subsequently followed. Jessica is truly inspiring and churns out delicious looking recipes every day. Her baby is also incredibly cute. She's self taught and incredible.

Joy the Baker Joy is beautifully real and funny, and has worked professionally as a baker for years. If you have a love affair with your oven, this blog is the one for you. Her pictures are gorgeous and are cure to whet your appetite.

Sprinkle Bakes If you only like eating desserts which are simultaneously beautiful and incredibly tasty, this is where you need to go. Heather's recipes are very involved, for the most part, but she includes lots of pictures to help you along the way. Her foods are works of art.

Picky Palate Lots of baking here, too. You're probably starting to see a pattern. Jennie's recipes are easy and really yummy too. Easy to pull off in your dorm or apartment's kitchen.

There are SO MANY food blogs out there. These are just my favorites. With some exploring, you can definitely find some favorites of your own. Happy reading!