June 10, 2011

Link Love: June 10

by Amanda

I’m a mess in the kitchen. A literal mess. I always pick bowls too small for the ingredients that need to go in them, and flour, juices and who-knows-what go flying everywhere when it’s time to mix. I will say that most of my messes still translates into delicious (or at least edible) products. There was this one time where it didn’t. For Christmas dinner in 2009, my sister and I decided to make three kinds of gluten-free mini cupcakes for dessert. We really wanted to make red velvet cupcakes, but my sister wanted to make it red the natural way, and not by squirting the food coloring into the batter. So, we used beets. They didn’t turn out. They weren’t red. They weren’t anything actually because the whole gluten-free baking experiment failed. It was a hilarious failure. When I saw a post for all natural red velvet cake, I knew had to include it in this week’s link love. Unfortunately, it is not gluten free, but I am sure people with more experience than us in gf baking (which is everyone) can modify it to get similar results.

All Natural Red Velvet Cake from Sophistimom

Banana Curry Chicken Foil Packets from Clean Eating

Strawberry Balsamic Flatbread from Joy the Baker

Strawberry Pie from Gourmade at Home

Black Bean, Quinoa and Citrus Salad from Eat, Live, Run

Is anyone not a messy cook? More mess, more fun, right? 

June 7, 2011

Big Sky Cafe

by Amanda

Thank you for your well wishes and words of encouragement on my post-grad plans post! I’m very excited about the years ahead of me, and I can’t wait to rejoin the residents of St. Louis. Perhaps now is a good time to finally post one of the meals I had when I was recently in St. Louis prepping for my transition.

Most nights, my job in the family is to pick out what we’re going to eat for dinner. I’m not complaining. This also puts me in charge of finding restaurants when we’re in the mood to eat out. I’m still not complaining.

I have a long list of places I still want to try in St. Louis, but my parents’ tastes are very particular. They love classic meat and potatoes food done well, and that list of restaurants is a little bit shorter. When I found Big Sky Cafe, I knew I had a winner. I ignored the many Yelpers that declared this a great place to take a date.

I was excited to see an outdoor patio, even though the weather wasn’t going to let us eat outside that night. Dining outside may be one of my favorite things to do.

I was also excited to find Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing Company on their menu, a beer that I have been trying to track down for months. It was quite smooth with a strong caramel and nuttiness taste to it.

Big Sky’s menu offers “revitalized American favorites.” It’s basically upscale comfort food in an unassuming environment.

I ordered the Rosemary & Red Wine Braised Pot Roast–naturally raised Angel Acres grass-fed chuck roast slowly braised with red wine, rosemary, carrots, onions and celery, served on garlic mashed potatoes.

Sign you know it was too cold to eat outside: I ordered pot roast. Winter comfort food at its finest. Don’t you love when restaurants have longer descriptions of their menu items? I’m a huge fan of local food and whatnot, but now when I’m dining out, I can’t help but think of the hilarious clip from Portlandia where a couple asks where the restaurant got their chicken.

My dad and mom both ordered burgers. My dad’s choice was a blue cheese burger while my mom went for one of their specials, a Bloody Mary burger.

They both like their meals. All in all, I’m happy to have found Big Sky Cafe, and I’m sure I will be visiting it again. There are many things on the menu I want to try, and I need to come back and dine on that patio…instead of at the table next to the window closest to it.

So close, but so far away…

What do you think about dining out? Is it fun and does it make you feel French (ignore the fact that I’ve never been to France) or do you hate dealing with the sun making you sweat, wind blowing your napkins or bugs buzzing in your ear? I know, I make it sound really appealing, don’t I? 

June 5, 2011

Post-Grad Life: Updating the Context of Eating Up

by Amanda

Dear reader,

Some not-food food for thought.

I admit there has been an absence of posts these past few months due to the all-consuming task of getting my life in order post-graduation. Finally, I have news. And a new direction.

I’m on the move. In exactly two weeks, I will be packing up my apartment in Chicago and headed to St. Louis. While I’ll miss Chicago’s neighborhoods, people and food offerings, I will not miss the cold.

At all.


Why was it 45 degrees the last week of May?

Get me out of here.

I couldn’t be more excited about returning to St. Louis. It has taken me a longggg time to figure out where I wanted to be after graduation. Three years ago, I was moving to NYC. Then I realized I like nature, personal space and the ability to afford food. I next thought Pacific NW for sure (Portland, Seattle). Then I realized I like sun. I like sun a lot. After that, I was convinced Austin was the place for me and everyone else. I honestly should work for that city’s tourism department with the way I talked about it. I went down there in March and had a blast, but coming from Chicago, I was surprised at how small it was and realized how far away I was from my family and friends.

Ultimately, the things I wanted in my city: family and friends nearby, seasons (and warmer weather), affordability, history, professional sports teams, attractions, small town feel in a medium/big place and a growing food movement all led me to my new home. Which was my old home. I place this realization in the category of my life titled: Things You Never Realized How Awesome They Were Until After They Ended/You Didn’t Have Them. Unfortunately, that list is a little longer than I’d like it to be, but that’s not important.

Because we are talking about the present.

The present consists of me graduating college in two weeks with a degree in journalism, a piece of paper that says I love writing so much that I made a public declaration in the form of a diploma that will inevitably hang on some wall somewhere. Maybe my future classroom…cue my transition to announcing my post-grad plans.

I am pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching for elementary education starting this fall. Becoming a teacher and working in the education system is my cliché millennial decision to “follow my dreams.” Luckily, I don’t have to give up journalism completely in order to do this. I recently accepted a great position at the university I’m attending where I will be working with college undergrads as the general manager of the school’s paper. Journalism + helping teach at an educational institution = dream job.

So that’s my present. And a little preview of my future two years. Now it’s time to edit some of my biographical information on this blog.

Soon-to-be St. Louis food blogger (say hi if you live in STL!)

May 9, 2011

Gooey Butter Cookies

by Amanda

I respect people who have different opinions than my own. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that I know very little. I’ve learned that you really should stick to the recommended dosage on the cough medicine bottle, that diet and lack of sleep does contribute to daytime fatigue and that wearing volleyball spandex shorts when you’re playing in a basketball game can look very odd to a lot of people. One thought I do like to express loudly and frequently is my love for my hometown, St. Louis, MO. One of the many ways I do this is by feeding people what St. Louis has to offer-figuratively, as well as literally. These gooey butter cookies are my go-to food to get people a little more excited about STL since they’re a St. Louis specialty.

Gooey Butter Cookies

from Allrecipes.com

gooey butter cookie ingredients


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix (I recommend using butter cake mix)

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Add cake mix, and stir until well blended. Roll into 1 inch balls and roll the balls in the confectioners’ sugar. The dough will be very sticky-place it in the fridge to make it a little easier to roll the balls. Place 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes in the preheated oven. Do not overbake! The cookies are called gooey for a reason. Remove from baking sheets to cool.

gooey butter cookies

gooey butter cookies

gooey butter cookies

It took me leaving home and living in Chicago (and briefly NYC) to see what all St. Louis has to offer. Now I can’t get enough out of my visits there. My friends couldn’t get enough of these cookies. Think there’s money in being a city’s cookie ambassador? It sounds like a sweet job.

What dessert comes from your hometown?

May 6, 2011

Link Love: May 6

by Amanda

I know it’s finally spring when my standard banana oatmeal with peanut butter for breakfast starts to seem less appealing, hot coffee gets traded for iced coffee and I want lemon flavored everything. The problem with my sweet tooth is that I can’t handle anything too sweet and lemon can come off very tart and/or sugary sweet. A recipe from Cooking Light for a lemon muffin seems to have perfected my call for a not-so-sweet sweet. I guess the only way I’ll know for sure is to whip up a batch and taste them myself!

Tuscan Lemon Muffins from Cooking Light

Tuscan Lemon Muffins Recipe

Chicken with Quick Mole Sauce from Eating Well

Mexican Brownie Bottom Cheesecake from Pennies on a Platter

Maple Cinnamon ABU from Oh She Glows

Maple Cinnamon ABU

Tomato-Basil Lasagna with Prosciutto from Cooking Light

How do you know it’s spring?

May 4, 2011

Eating Up Returns

by Amanda

Guys, I’m back.

kitchen appliances

food processor/blender

And more equipped. Like any good sequel, this blog now features the main character–ahem, me–with much better (kitchen) tools. Let the adventures continue!

Yes, I hug my appliances. What’s the kitchen appliance you’re most likely to hug? 

March 12, 2011

The Breakfast Bracket of Champions

by Amanda

Well, I did it. Done with school for good. I’ve celebrated by working a lot of hours at my job. Well first I celebrated by imbibing in some celebratory drinks: Two Brothers Domaine DuPage and O’Fallon Sticke it to the Man.

Anyway, now that I don’t have to write papers about existential concepts or stay on top of 500 pages of reading a week, I get to spend my free time working on things that interest me. Like creating this NCAA-basketball-tournament-inspired Breakfast Bracket. I like to think my bracket is better than the NCAA tournament (although I do love March Madness), because all of my breakfast “players” are winners.


Technically, waffles won. But this really isn’t a technical game. Try it for yourself! I created a blank bracket for you to fill out. Just click the link to download the Eating Up Breakfast Bracket. Feel free to fill it out and post it on your blog if you have one! Or your refrigerator. It also makes a nice menu when you forget about some old favorites. I have to start making my own Pop-Tarts. They need to be brought back into my life.

March 7, 2011

My Last Study Snacks

by Amanda

Today marks the beginning of my last week of school. I’m excited to finish my last assignments and allow myself to do things that aren’t homework when I have time off from work (like blog!). I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ll be back later this week with a fun post. Until then, I leave you with what I hope was not a representation of my food choices these past four years…

college food pyramid

March 2, 2011

Save Up: I’m Craving Another Cheap Dinner

by Amanda

When I posted my Chobani + rice + beans + sautéed banana combination, I received a few requests for more frequent posts of my dinners. I’m not a food blogger that documents every meal because most of my eating is pretty simple. As a college student with limited resources (in terms of money and kitchen appliances), I tend to make fast meals with inexpensive ingredients. My crazy schedule normally has me throwing together dinner quickly because I’m running to go somewhere or I’m getting back late from somewhere and too tired and impatient to cook a decent meal. I also never cook meat myself because it’s too expensive, and as a former pescetarian, I don’t think it’s necessary. Here’s another peek at what I can be found munching on anywhere from the hours of 5:45-9:00 pm.

cheap food

That would be sauteed spinach, black beans, salsa and an overeasy egg with a side of homemade pita chips for scooping (cut pita into pieces and bake in the oven until crunchy).

I’m not gonna lie to you. Most nights I crave this.


Sushi and Chipotle are my two consistent eating out food cravings. I have to get both a couple of times a month. I try to make my own Chipotle bowls at home, but they really pale in comparison to the real deal. And while I would love to take a sushi class, I don’t think I would ever start making it myself regularly. And that’s probably a good thing, according to this older article from The New York Times. When I lived in New York last summer with my sister, our default dinner was sushi. Followed up by a pint of coconut milk ice cream, or better yet, a visit to my favorite place in NYC: Stogo.

What restaurant cravings do you get? In the summer, I normally become addicted to frozen yogurt and McDonald’s soft serve ice cream cones. I have my mother to blame for that guilty pleasure.

February 27, 2011

The States of Craft Beer

by Amanda

I’ve professed my love for craft beers already. But when I saw this graphic GOOD magazine put together featuring the most popular craft beers in each state, I had to share. You all know how much I like maps of the United States. To those of you who have never had a craft beer, seek out the winning beer in your state and start there. To those of you who think you don’t like beer, seek out the winning beer in your state and reassess.


[Click to enlarge.]

Did you know that Americans prefers beer as their alcoholic beverage? The rest of the world likes spirits the most. They don’t know what they’re missing.

Have you tried your state’s craft beer? Did the GOOD readers correctly pick “the most awesome, best-tasting, sustainably brewed, independently owned, community-oriented craft beer brewed in your state?”


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