Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cajun Potatoes

What goes better with a Blackened Red Snapper than a side of beautiful Cajun Purple Potatoes?  Well if you need an answer that would be nothing 🙂

Loaded with spices and slowly roasted, these potatoes pack a nice punch with any meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb purple potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp thyme leaves
Start by quartering the potatoes. Toss with the olive oil and garlic.

In a separate small bowl mix together all the spices, toss with the potatoes to coat.

Spread the potatoes onto a baking sheet and place into a  375° oven for 30-35 minutes.

Remove from the oven when crisp.

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is Gluten-Free.

Tilapia Tacos, Gourmet Tots and Free Beer

Live music, delicious food and free beer make for a great little spot, but let’s be honest you had me at FREE BEER!

Before I left Oklahoma my brothers girlfriend invited me to lunch at this little spot known as Cafe Nova. It wasn’t until I arrived that I found out about the free beer at happy hour. Had I known about that prior I would have suggested a late (like 4 pm late) lunch!

Yes, from 4-7 PM Mon-Fri if you purchase a $5 appetizer you receive as much free domestic draft beer as you can drink. That could make for a fun Wednesday evening next time I come to visit 😉

But enough about this amazing happy hour that I didn’t get to experience, let’s get to the delicious food that I did experience while lunching with the “FSIL” at Cafe Nova!

We ordered The Fish Taco, Super Nova Salad and Tilapia, as well as their famous happy hour appetizer, the Gourmet Tots!

The Fish Taco was my favorite! The poblano aioli was killer and the tilapia was seared perfectly.

The salad was also delicious.  I give them mad props for loading it up with tons of blue cheese and dried cherries!  Nothing worse than a skimpy salad 😉

I won’t lie, I wanted to hate the Gourmet Tots just for the sake of our otherwise decently healthy meal being ruined.  But those little golden nuggets of goodness, filled with cheese and ham, fried to a golden perfection were pretty outstanding.

Dipped in the homemade ranch… not too shabby, even for this weirdo over here who doesn’t like ranch! (I know, I know, call in the authorities, there must be something wrong with me!)

And finally the Tilapia, served with whipped potatoes and wilted spinach.  While this was delicious, I felt the cream sauce and potatoes were a little heavy for lunch, but if you’re looking for something to fill you up mid-day, this would be the plate to get!

Come for the great food at lunch or the ultimate combo of great food and FREE beer at Happy Hour, either way Cafe Nova is a great place to go in OKC!

Moussaka

Oh My Moussaka!!! In an effort to diversify my recipe portfolio I decided to have “Greek Night” at home last week.  I prepared a Hummus Trio with Pita Bread, Stuffed Grape Leaves and Moussaka. For those of you unfamiliar with this delicious little dish, Moussaka is the Greek version of an Italian lasagna, layered with eggplant, meat sauce and béchamel sauce.

My nephew walked in on Greek Night and asked “what’s for dinner?”  I said Moussaka and the look on this 9-year-old Oklahoma kids face was priceless.  It took me back to the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding when she talked about all the other girls taking Wonderbread Sandwiches to school and she took Moussaka and the other girls said, “Moose Kaka, ewww” haha.  But obviously these girls, nor my nephew had ever had Moussaka because there is nothing “eww” about it!

I convinced him to try a bite because Aunt Whitney made it. Two plates full later I think he changed his mind about Moussaka!

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 large eggplants (sliced, unpeeled)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper (divided)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup whole, peeled canned tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups (2% or whole) milk
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup pecorino romano
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese

(Ignore the lemon pictured, not sure how that little guy snuck in between the 23 other ingredients 😉 )

Start by slicing the eggplant and placing on a large foil lined baking sheet. Next, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt and pepper.

Next, cover the eggplant with foil and roast in the oven at 475° for 25 minutes.

Now cover a baking dish with cooking spray, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the bottom to form the crust of the Moussaka.

Now begin preparing the meat sauce.

Start by cooking the onion in 2 tbsp olive oil for 3-4 minutes.  Next add the garlic, cook for an additional 1-2 minutes then add the hamburger meat.

Once the hamburger meat is cooked through add the ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice, oregano and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

Next add the tomato paste, red wine, tomatoes and bay leafs.

It’s about this time the house starts smelling REALLY good! Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Now begin making the béchamel sauce. Start by melting the butter in a small skillet.

Next, add in the flour and whisk well.

Remove from the heat and add the milk.

Pour the mixture into a separate container to cool.

While the béchamel sauce is cooling, start assembling the moussaka.

By this time the eggplant should be out of the oven and nicely roasted. Start by layering the slices on top of the bread crumbs.

Next, remove the bay leaves from the meat sauce and add a layer to the dish.

Then, another layer of the eggplant.

Another layer of meat sauce and then it’s time to finish up the béchamel sauce to pour on top.

Once the béchamel mixture is cool, add the egg and egg yolks.  Whisk together well then pour on top of the Moussaka.

Finally top with the pecorino romano and feta cheese.

Place in the oven at 350° for 45 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Moussa-mazingness!

♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute 16 oz canned lentils and/or chickpeas for the ground beef to make a Vegetarian Moussaka.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute Gluten-Free flour in the Béchamel sauce and use Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs for the crust.

Words To Live By

When I began the Little Leopard Book I really had no idea where to start. One thing I knew was that I didn’t want an empty blog, so I decided to add a “quotes” page to enhance the content (and my previously naked menu bar).

Less than a year later I have a menu bar that is quickly filling up!  With the soon-to-come “Restaurant Reviews” and “Bucket List Items” I have decided to retire the original quotes page.

I did, however, want to share the page as a post so that it will forever remain on the LLB. I also took this opportunity to add some of my favorite, as I like to call them, “quote pics” from Pinterest.  I hope the following will inspire, enlighten and delight you all 🙂

“You have choices in life, so choose to be happy” – Me

 
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti
 
 
“You have to know what sparks the light in you so that you can illuminate the world.” – Oprah
 
“There’s nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway.” – Mark Burnett
 
 
“If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy!!!”
 
“We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” – Adelle Davis
 
 
“Since I’m not sure of the address for which to send my gratitude, I put it out there in everything I do” – Michael J Fox, Adventures of an Incurable Optimist
 
“Everything happens for a reason.”
 
 
“Live in the moment, every second you spend angry or upset is a second of happiness you can never get back.”
 
“It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.” – Julia Child
 
 
“An eye for an eye and the whole world is blind” – Gandhi
 
“The only thing you get from worrying about wasted time is more wasted time” – Me
 

Blackened Red Snapper

As a food blogger I have an ongoing list of dishes I want to make.  Either I’ll see something on the Food Network, eat something out that I want to re-create or come up with a random idea to make crouton baskets (coming soon!) while taking a shower!  Inspiration for the blog comes from everywhere and the list keeps growing!

This particular dish has been on the list so long that I don’t even remember where the original inspiration came from!  It would be a safe bet to say the Food Network though. It’s always on at my house!  If it weren’t for sports, Guy Fieri and Next Food Network Star I would have absolutely no use for cable or a TV!

This dish finally came to fruition after making the delicious Squash Puppies.  What better reason than to go all out on a Cajun dinner complete with Blackened Snapper and Blackened Purple Potatoes.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 2 large red snapper fillets
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano

Start by combining all of the seasonings together. Use a mortar and pestle (if available) to grind the thyme and oregano.

Next, spread the blackening mix generously over both sides of each fish.

Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the seasoning to marinate in.

Next, fire up the grill to medium and place the fish on top.

Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Be sure to watch it because being a thin and delicate fish it cooks very quickly.

After it’s grilled to perfection, it’s ready to serve.  I topped mine with lemon butter. Simply melt 3 tbsp of butter then add to it the juice of 1 lemon. Voila! We also served my Mango Avocado Salsa on the side and it was amazing with the snapper!

Time to eat!

♣ If a member of your family doesn’t eat fish (my Mom) you can repeat the exact recipe using a chicken breast, just increase the cooking time on the grill. We made this for her and she loved it!

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is Gluten-Free.

Spicy Eggplant Stuffed Peppers

When your daughter is a food blogger, you not only get Fathers Day Brunch, you get Fathers Day Dinner! I told my Dad to let me know what he wanted for dinner. He finally decided on my Mexican Meatloaf (with a little persuasion from me, it is just so good!)

I decided to change it up with a couple new sides including these delicious Spicy Eggplant Stuffed Peppers.

Ingredients (makes 3 stuffed peppers)

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant (peeled and cubed)
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 bell peppers (color(s) of your preference)
  • 1/4 cup queso fresco
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (chopped)

Start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the eggplant, onion and jalapeño and sauté 3-4 minutes.

Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes.

Evenly distribute the mixture into three bell peppers.

Place the peppers standing in an oven safe dish. Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and top with the cheese.

Place back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove, top with the cilantro and serve.

A little close up of these colorful beauties!

These could be easily made for 2 or 20 and add a colorful and flavorful dish to any Mexican dinner or fiesta!

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is Gluten-Free.

Cinnamon Sugar Crepes

I was always too intimidated to make my own crepes. Will they be thin enough? How will I flip them? But on Fathers Day I got up the courage to make them… for my Mom!  Yes, it seems a little backwards, but my Mom (the picky eater) doesn’t like eggs and since I was making the Farmers Market Mini Egg Omelets for my Dad, I wanted Mom to be able to join us for brunch, thus I added the crepes!

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (makes 8 crepes)

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (divided)

Start by mixing the flour, baking powder, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a small mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl melt 2 tbsp of butter and add the vanilla, milk and eggs.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix well until all lumps are gone.

Pour a small amount of batter into a skillet heated to medium temperature, lift and turn the skillet to thin out the batter.

After 2-3 minutes use a spatula around the edges to loosen it up, then flip.

Remove from the skillet and spread each crepe with the additional tablespoon of butter.  Mix together the additional tbsp of sugar and tsp of cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the crepe.

Ready to serve for your favorite Dad (or Mom!)

Click here for printer-friendly version: Cinnamon Sugar Crepes

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

Farmers Market Mini Egg Omelets

When leaving the Caprino Royale goat farm, the owners handed me a half-dozen fresh eggs from their chickens. I knew I had to make these the star of a new dish, and what better time to make a new star dish than Fathers Day! I also visited the Farmers Market in my hometown of Edmond, OK before the big brunch.

While it was a bit smaller than the Los Angeles Farmers Markets I’m used to I did get some beautiful vegetables to use with my farm fresh eggs! I combined eggplant, red onions and green tomatoes for a miniature egg dish packed with flavor!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients (makes 9 mini omelets)

  • 1 large eggplant (peeled and diced)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp black pepper (divided)
  • 1 tsp salt (divided)
  • 1 tomato (chopped)

Start by cooking the eggplant in olive oil, 1/2 tsp of pepper and 1/2 tsp salt.

After 3-4 minutes add the jalapeño and onion.

While the vegetables are cooking down prepare the egg mixture.

Those are some beautiful fresh eggs there!  Now add in the milk, parmesan cheese and additional salt and pepper.

Next add the chopped green tomatoes to the mixture.

At this time the vegetables should be cooked down.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray for easy removal of the mini omelets. Place a small amount of vegetable mixture in 9 spots of a muffin tin.

Fill approximately 1/3 full.

Next, add the egg mixture to each.

Place in the oven at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until egg is cooked through.

Use a small knife around the edges to remove the mini omelets and serve.

I served mine with cinnamon sugar crepes.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Farmers Market Mini Egg Omelets

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is Gluten-Free.

Squash Puppies with Jalapeño Cream Dip

Squash Puppies with Jalapeño Cream Dip {Little Leopard Book}

After eating at Sissy’s Southern Kitchen while in Dallas, I became obsessed with re-creating their Squash Puppies with Jalapeño Jelly!

Healthy Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

I started playing around in the kitchen this week and came up with a similar version of their hush puppies recipe that is gluten-free and baked, not fried!

Healthy Squash Puppies Ingredients

Ingredients (makes 24 puppies)

  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp butter (softened)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)

Start by slicing the squash into cubes. Next, boil the squash in a large pot of water for 10 minutes (or until soft).

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

Then combine the cornmeal, sugar, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

In a separate bowl combine the milk, eggs, butter, diced onion and jalapeño.

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

Next, drain the squash.

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

Add the squash to the mixture and puree.

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

Next, add the cornmeal mixture.

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

Combine well then form into balls and place on a baking sheet.

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350° then remove when firm.

Squash Hush Puppies Recipe

Next, make the jalapeño cream dipping sauce.

Jalapeno Cream Dipping Sauce Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 jalapeños (de-seeded and roughly chopped)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lime (juiced)

Start by de-seeding and chopping the jalapeños.

Jalapeno Cream Dipping Sauce Recipe

Place the jalapeños, as well as the other ingredients into a food processor and puree into a creamy consistency.

Jalapeno Cream Dipping Sauce Recipe

Serve on side of the squash puppies for dipping.

Healthy Hush Puppies Recipe

These are the perfect guilt-free alternative to the delicious seafood side dish favorite!

Healthy Hush Puppies Recipe

Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, slightly salty with a little jalapeño kick!

Baked Squash Puppies with Sweet Jalapeño Sauce

These squash puppies are perfect as a snack or side dish!

Gluten Free Squash Puppies

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is Gluten-Free.

Squash Puppies with Jalapeño Cream Dip

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen squash puppies

Squash Puppies with Jalapeño Cream Dip

Ingredients

    Squash Puppies
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp butter (softened)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • Jalapeño Cream Dip
  • 4 jalapeños (de-seeded and roughly chopped)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lime (juiced)

Instructions

    Squash Puppies
  1. Start by slicing the squash into cubes.
  2. Boil the squash in a large pot of water for 10 minutes (or until soft).
  3. Combine the cornmeal, sugar, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the milk, eggs, butter, diced onion and jalapeño.
  5. Next, drain the squash.
  6. Add the squash to the milk and egg mixture then puree.
  7. Add the cornmeal mixture.
  8. Combine well then form into balls and place on a baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350° then remove when firm.
  10. Jalapeño Cream Dip
  11. Start by de-seeding and chopping the jalapeños.
  12. Place the jalapeños, as well as the other ingredients into a food processor and puree into a creamy consistency.
http://whitneybond.com/whats-for-a-side-squash-puppies-with-jalapeno-cream-dip/

Russell Westbrook Birthday Cake

June is an eventful month around the Bond household with the birthdays of my Mom, Dad, Brother, Aunt and Brothers girlfriend, as well as Fathers Day and my parent’s wedding anniversary (34 years today!)

After completing a successful gluten-free birthday cake for my brother, it made sense to make the cake again for his girlfriends birthday. But being the girl who has to make everything a little bit different I decided to turn his delicious Chocolate Gluten-Free Cake into a work of OKC Thunder basketball art. Enter, the Russell Westbrook Birthday Cake.

Russell has been talked about a lot in the playoffs for his interesting press conference attire. It started with the lense-less red glasses, which led to an article on the front page of The Wall Street Journal “Fashion Plates of the NBA Make Specs of Themselves: At Finals, Hoops Stars Also Compete Over Stylish Eyeglasses; No Lenses Needed”. Then came the Lacoste fishing shirt which sent sales for the popular clothing brand through the roof when everyone in Oklahoma decided to emulate the look. And I mean everyone!

I met this amazing older couple during the Western Conference Playoffs and they told me they were “trending on Twitter”, the look had definitely caught on!

My first idea was to just add the red glasses onto the cake, then I decided I had to add the shirt as well!

Russell Westbrook Cake Ingredients

After the cake is baked and cooled use a piping bag with the cream cheese frosting to make the shirt design.

Next, add the chocolate frosting to a separate bag and pipe onto the remaining parts of the cake not covered by the cream cheese frosting.

Next, add about 6-8 gummy worms to the shirt.

Now, to make the glasses place a toothpick between each end of a Twizzler, slide through until the two ends meet and the toothpick no longer shows.  Repeat this step to form the two lenses.  Next place another Twizzler on top and attach with the trimmed off ends of 2 toothpicks. Place the glasses gently on top of the cake and voila! The Russell Westbrook cake is complete!

Everyone, including the birthday girl, loved the cake! Just another fun way to celebrate OKC making it to the NBA Finals! Game 3 tonight, Thunder Up!!!

The Mile High Pastrami Sandwich

When I set off to Houston, Texas for the next stop on my Summer Adventure Travel Schedule, I went to Twitter to find out where I should eat while I was in town!

The producers of one of my favorite Food Network shows, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, replied to my tweet to Guy Fieri about where to eat.  They gave me several great recommendations and started a serious Twit-versation!

My favorite of their recommendations I visited was Kenny and Ziggy’s.

A New York style Delicatessen right in the heart of Houston, boosting the best pastrami sandwich I’ve ever had!

I created my own sandwich with half pastrami and half turkey. I spread a little Russian Dressing on top and that was all this mountain of meat needed!

My Dad got the #1 half pastrami, half corned beef, swiss cheese, cole slaw and russian dressing. He let me snag a bite and it was also a killer choice!

My Mom had the roast beef with au jus and sweet potato fries.  Her sandwich was good but the sweet potato fries were awesome! I find that sweet potato fries can end up soggy and not as crisp as traditional fries, but these were more like sweet potato strings, thin, crisp and delicious!

Nana got the Reuben.  Looks like she liked it!

Guess it runs in the family…

That was just the beginning!  Half way done…

I couldn’t stop there, the rest of that sandwich of meaty deliciousness was staring me down! Then this happened…

Yup, that entire monstrosity of a sandwich was gone! Little girl, big appetite strikes again!

Thanks to the Match Cut Crew for their tweet on this amazing spot!  Will definitely be back next time I’m in town!

If you want to visit Kenny and Ziggys to get in on the Mile High Pastrami Sandwich action, go to their website for the location and hours.

The Goat Milking Adventures of a City Girl

Pulling up to the Caprino Royale farm is like pulling into an adult petting zoo. We were greeted at the door with a glass of wine, excited doggies, chickens running everywhere, cock-a-doodle-doing roosters and a 10 day old baby goat. Now that is my kind of welcoming!

Although I grew up in Oklahoma, we were definitely more city folk than country folk, there were no goats, cows, pigs or roaming buffaloes in our back yard.  The closest thing we had to wildlife were some goldfish I bought at Walmart!

When I started planning my “Summer Blogging Adventure” I knew I wanted to take some time in Oklahoma and Texas to see where the meat and dairy I was consuming came from. I was given my first opportunity to do so when I met Eric Tippit. I knew it was meant to be, when he told me his farm was named after the James Bond movie Casino Royale. My name is Whitney Bond y’all! Eric invited me out to his farm and the rest is goat milking history!

It’s amazing how much your level of appreciation for food rises after visiting a farm. There are about 1,000 components that go into making that little block of goat cheese for your favorite dish. From feeding the goats to milking the goats to turning that milk into cheese and the hundred things that come in-between each one, these farmers are working around the clock, 365 days out of the year to make the cheese we all love so much!

At Caprino Royale, husband and wife team Eric and Karen are taking things to a whole new level with the time and love they give to their goats.

As a consumer of food (which I’m pretty sure all of us here are, unless you’re on one of those juice diets and if so, why are you reading a food blog, that’s just being mean to yourself!) we should all know where our food is coming from and what we’re putting in our bodies.

I believe in eating meat and dairy, I’m not a vegetarian or vegan.  With that said, I do believe in buying local meat and dairy from farmers that treat their animals with love and respect.  I believe you can taste the love put into the animals, just how you can taste the love I put into all of the dishes I create! And if love is a key ingredient in great cheese, than Caprino Royale may just have the best cheese out there!

Each goat is called by name and fed and milked individually twice a day, yeah that’s 24 goats each given individual love and attention = 5 hours of milking and feeding a day!  That’s 35 hours per week, that’s 1,825 hours per year, just for the milking and feeding, we haven’t even gotten to the actual cheese making yet!

While I was at the farm they let me attempt to milk one of the goats… and this happened!

Well now that we’ve all had a good laugh for the day, lets meet some of my farm favorites!

This little guy was only 10 days old and so sweet!

He was so cute and playful, I could have just hung with him all day and been so happy… but he needed his rest!

While he rested, the other kids came to play!

And for my favorite picture of the day…

Thank you so much to Karen and Eric for introducing me to all the goats and a special thanks to Cachet the goat for allowing me to attempt my first goat milking experience on her!

To find out more about the farm, the goats or the amazing owners Karen and Eric, visit www.CaprinoRoyale.com.

5 Ways to Summer Travel on a Budget

When I got the crazy idea to move everything I own into storage and take off on a “summer blogging tour”, I never realized the #1 question I would be asked is “How can you afford to do this?”

While at first I was a little caught off guard by the nosiness of people, I then realized that people were just curious how I was able to visit 3 countries and multiple states on a very limited budget.  And when I say limited, I mean less than most people make in a month!

My theory has always been experiences and relationships over money and possessions. For me, traveling on a budget and making sacrifices along the way is well worth the experiences I encounter and the relationships I make.

I will warn you that this is not super plush traveling on a budget.  This is like sleeping on couches, cooking for friends, spending days volunteering instead of trips to amusement parks and giving up things like shopping, kind of budget.

These are my 5 Ways to Summer Travel on a Budget:

1. Cash in those Frequent Flier Miles.  Try to fly the same airline for work or vacation throughout the year, that way you will start accumulating enough points to earn free flights.

No, this is not a road trip, I’m flying, train riding, subway taking or bussing it everywhere I go.  I do not own a car that would make it from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, so I can most definitely tell you it wouldn’t make it from Los Angeles to Canada!

I also love that mass transportation allows you to meet new and interesting people.  It would be a little difficult to strike up a conversation with someone new when sitting in a car by yourself!

2. Trade in your Debit Card for an American Express. An American Express is not a credit card, but rather a bank card in which you must pay off the balance each month. By using this instead of my debit card each month I’ve been able to earn hundreds of dollars in gift cards to restaurants, airlines, hotels and more in the past year!

I recommend this to all my friends because it will give you the points that lead to free stuff for your travels without getting you into debt!

 3. Call in your couch crashing favors for the year. This summer there’s no hotel, motel or Holiday Inn for the LLB, rather couches, air mattresses and twin beds at the parents house.

Hotels are an extremely expensive part of travel.  At over $100 a night (and well over that in some places) my entire summer travel budget would be used up in about 2 weeks if I were staying in hotels!

I am very fortunate to meet people who live all over the country and are willing to let me “crash their house” for a couple of days. But, the great thing with social media is that almost anyone can do the same! By putting out a simple status update, “does someone have a place I can crash in Boston for a couple of days?” may get a response from a second cousin or an old friend that you could stay with and take the opportunity to catch up with while you’re in town! That’s what I like to call a “Budget Travel BONUS!”

 4. Trade in a day at a theme park for a day of volunteering. It may not seem like the “fun” option, but in the end I promise you will remember that day you volunteered to help build a home in New Orleans or helped serve food to the homeless in NYC, over the memory of riding a couple of roller coasters and eating some funnel cakes and corn dogs.

 5. Cook dinner for the friends you are staying with instead of eating out.  This is a great way to save money and say “thank you” to your gracious hosts!

Some of my favorite budget friendly meals that can easily serve 4-6 and take less than an hour to make are:

Happy Travels Y’all!!!

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Bacon Wrapped Dates

These little “parties on a stick” first came into my world at Cafe Sevilla in San Diego.  I became beyond obsessed with them and started making them for every party, event, Monday, you know, whatever!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates

The kicker with these is, my Mom loves them!  When the certified pickiest eater in the world likes something, you know it’s good!  I’ve started making them every time I go home for a family event. They are quick, easy and make a great appetizer or party dish!

Bacon Wrapped Date Ingredients

Ingredients (makes 20 dates)

  • 20 dates
  • 10 slices bacon
  • 4 oz blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Slice half way through the dates and remove the pits, then add the blue cheese.

Bacon Wrapped Date Recipe

Slice the bacon in half then wrap a 1/2 slice around the date.

Bacon Wrapped Date Recipe

Next, slide a toothpick through to secure the bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Date Recipe

Repeat 19 times.

Bacon Wrapped Date Recipe

Place in the oven for 20 minutes, turn the dates over then continue to cook 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crispy.

Blue Cheese Bacon Wrapped Dates

Depending on the event (and how many new recipes I’m trying to conquer that day!) when I have time I add an Apple Cider glaze on top.

Apple Cider Glaze Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (apple butter preferred)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp apple cider
  • 2 tbsp half and half
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

Start by melting the butter in a small saucepan, next combine the additional ingredients and whisk well.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring consistently. Remove from the heat and let stand 3 minutes.

Use a pastry brush to glaze the dates 3-5 minutes before removing them from the oven.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Date Recipe

♣ Vegetarian Option: Replace the Bacon with Vegetarian Smart Bacon.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This Recipe is Gluten-Free.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 20 bacon wrapped dates

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Ingredients

  • 20 dates
  • 10 slices bacon
  • 4 oz blue cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Slice half way through the dates and remove the pits, then add the blue cheese.
  3. Slice the bacon in half then wrap a 1/2 slice around each date.
  4. Next, slide a toothpick through each date to secure the bacon.
  5. Place the bacon wrapped dates on a baking sheet.
  6. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, turn the dates over then continue to cook 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crispy.
http://whitneybond.com/whats-for-a-side-bacon-wrapped-dates/

#19 Fly on a Private Jet

This was one of those items on the Summer Bucket List that’s been on the life bucket list for years now. It took a random meeting with a pilot in Los Angeles that lived in Oklahoma to finally make it happen.  That pilot, my friend Chad, not only took me on the jet, he also took me to a OKC Thunder playoff game in San Antonio. Needless to say he is on the top of my “favorite people” list right now!

Boarding the plane, Texas bound!

I love the little GPS video tracker so we knew where we were in the air at all times!

Gotta sport my “Westbrook glasses” on the way to Thunder Up!

Landed in San Antonio after a perfect flight with my favorite pilot!

We headed down to the Riverwalk for a margarita, then over to the game!

Definitely a day I will never forget and will always be grateful to Chad for turning this bucket list item into a reality!

Tomato Basil Double Cheese Crescent Triangles

Tomato Basil Feta Crescent Bites

These Double Cheese Crescent Triangles are adapted from the Pillsbury version I’ve been making for years!

I added fresh tomatoes and basil for an extra burst of flavor which make these the perfect side or appetizer at any Italian dinner!

Double Cheese Crescent Triangle Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 oz tomato basil feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil (minced)
  • 1 tbsp tomatoes (minced)
  • 1 tbsp green onions (chopped)
  • 1 egg (divided)
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 can Crescent rolls

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Start by combining the feta cheese with the fresh herbs and vegetables in a small mixing bowl.

Tomato Basil Crescent Triangle Cheese Filling

Next crack the egg into a separate small bowl and whisk well. Measure out 2 tbsp of egg and add to the feta herb mixture along with 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.

Roll out the crescent dough and press perforations together. Cut into 24 squares.

Now place a small amount of the cheese herb mixture in each of the squares.

Next fold the crescent dough over the cheese into triangle shapes and place on a baking sheet.

Now brush the tops of the pastries with the additional whisked egg, then top with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Place in the oven for 11 minutes.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Crescent Triangles

These were perfect with chicken parmesan for dinner last night!

Tomato Basil Feta Crescent Bites

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Gluten Free Mom has a recipe for gluten-free crescent rolls that could be used in place of the traditional Crescent rolls.

Tomato Basil Double Cheese Triangles

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 24 crescent triangles

Tomato Basil Double Cheese Triangles

Ingredients

  • 4 oz tomato basil feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil (minced)
  • 1 tbsp tomatoes (minced)
  • 1 tbsp green onions (chopped)
  • 1 egg (divided)
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 can Crescent rolls

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Start by combining the feta cheese with the fresh herbs and vegetables in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Crack the egg into a separate small bowl and whisk well.
  4. Measure out 2 tbsp of egg and add to the feta herb mixture along with 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.
  5. Roll out the crescent dough and press perforations together.
  6. Cut into 24 squares.
  7. Place a small amount of the cheese herb mixture in each of the squares.
  8. Fold the crescent dough over the cheese into triangle shapes and place on a baking sheet.
  9. Brush the tops of the pastries with the additional whisked egg, then top with the remaining parmesan cheese.
  10. Place in the oven for 11 minutes.
http://whitneybond.com/whats-for-a-side-tomato-basil-double-cheese-triangles/

Cafe Momentum: A Project of Progress

When this summer journey began I planned to interview chefs and bloggers about food, cooking and all that comes with it. My first chef interview led me to something much bigger.

Chef Chad Houser of Parigi Restaurant wanted a way to help the Dallas Youth Village and he found that way through a new and innovative culinary program. As he explained the concept to me, the famous Chinese Proverb came to mind, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

The concept of Cafe Momentum is to give the members of the Youth Village, non-violent criminal offenders ages 10-17, an opportunity to work in a restaurant and gain the experience, references and confidence to pursue a career after their time in the Youth Village.

Chad introduced me to Chris Quadri, Director of Opeartions and Development at Youth Village Resources of Dallas. Chris is responsible for developing programs such as the nutrition and culinary arts and horticulture at the Dallas Youth Village. He invited me to see first-hand where the young men are growing several herbs, vegetables and organic farm raised Tilapia, and to meet the young men currently enrolled in the culinary program and watch as they prepare a meal of poached chicken with fried green tomatoes and mixed greens.

The tour began at the Hoop Houses which are home to several important items in the horticulture program.

Inside the hoop house are things like green tomatoes which the young men used in their dinner that evening.

They also had a crop of jalapeños which I was very jealous of 😉

And some delicious cucumbers.

The next hoop house was home to the impressive contraption containing the organic tilapia.

They place plants on the top two levels which filters in the fish water that is extremely nutritious for the vegetables growing up top. So cool!

They had just harvested the plants up top, but you get the idea!

Now lets check out those fish!

They also just harvested a huge crop of the first organically grown garlic in the area. It smelled so good! The Italian girl in me wanted to just dive in and start making lasagna right then and there!

We next visited the crops growing outside.

It was a warm Texas day out there!  I give these boys props for all their hard work in that Dallas summer heat!

Many of their herbs and these beautiful squash blossoms are growing out here.

Chris timed it just right for us to meet up with the young men right as they were plating the dinner they had prepared during their culinary class.

From slicing the chicken, to plating the fried green tomatoes and mixed greens.

And to the other side of the kitchen where they were serving up the dessert.

The presentation was beautiful and the pride the young men put into the details was impressive.

In the two years since Cafe Momentum was first developed the participation by young men in the program has reduced the re-offense statistics from a state average of more than 50 percent, down to just 14 percent. Over 156 young men have graduated from behind-the-bars culinary classes since the program began, and that number continues to grow monthly.

This program works and the statistics speak for themselves. Eighty percent of the young men have never had a legal means of income before entering the programs provided by the Youth Village Resources of Dallas. After participation in one of the programs and within one year of release from the Dallas Youth Village, 73 percent are employed. Saving just one youth from becoming a chronic offender results in $1.7 million to $2.3 million in avoided lifetime costs to taxpayers and victims.

At this time Cafe Momentum holds monthly “Pop Up Dinners” at local Dallas restaurants sponsored by different chefs each month. The  goal is to soon open a permanent location where young men released from the Dallas Youth Village will be able to intern for a year building important relationships, learning valuable life skills and culinary expertise. Once operational, the restaurant will be able to self-sustain without any additional donations.

To join the cause visit www.cafemomentum.org and donate today!  You can also follow the organization on Facebook to learn more about their “Pop Up Dinners” and upcoming projects.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Pulling in double duty today on the LLB with a new recipe and another cross off the summer bucket list!

Almost a year ago my brother was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Although I’ve learned how to incorporate a gluten-free diet into most recipes I cook, I was yet to bake gluten-free. I decided it was time to go big or go home and attempt my first gluten-free baking experience with my brothers 30th birthday cake!

Growing up my brother was always a chocolate addict so when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, of course his answer was chocolate. That’s when the Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting was created!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free baking flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond milk

Start by combining the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder in a small mixing bowl.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 sugars, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla. Next, add the almond milk.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Then add the flour mixture and combine well.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Spray an 11 x 7 baking dish with olive oil cooking spray (be sure not to use a “Baking Spray” as it has flour in it, almost had a catastrophe with that one!)

Next, pour the cake batter into the dish.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Now it’s ready to go in the oven at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Not going to lie, this was the longest 30 minutes of my life!  Since I had already tasted the batter, I knew the flavor wasn’t the problem.  The problem was, will it rise?

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

And it did! You should have heard the screams when I opened the oven door to view this beautiful baby basking in the oven lights!

Now it was time to let it cool down before I frosted it up!

To make the Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Frosting Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk

Start by melting the butter in the microwave or on the stove.  Remove the butter from the heat and stir in the cocoa and vanilla.

Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Frosting Recipe

Next, alternate mixing in milk with powdered sugar until you get to your desired consistency. The measurements I listed worked for me, but if you want a thinner or thicker frosting you can add or take away milk or powdered sugar.

Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Frosting Recipe

Now it’s time to frost that delicious, fluffy, gluten-free cake!

Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Frosting Recipe

I felt like a proud Momma looking at that cake!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Brother made his birthday wishes (pretty sure he wished for his little sister to get a show on the Food Network because he was so excited about the cake 😉 )

Gluten Free Chocolate Birthday Cake

Then it was time to slice it up and dig in!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Thick and rich just like a normal chocolate cake with NO GLUTEN!!  I feel like I found the 8th wonder of the world by making this cake 😉  (and the way I’ve been bragging about it, you would think so too! haha)

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Go to your kitchen immediately and make this cake for your favorite gluten-intolerant!

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Pretty sure by this point you’ve gotten the fact that this recipe is gluten-free!

Pineapple Goat Cheese Prosciutto Wraps

While I loved “Meatless May”  I am very excited to re-introduce meat to the blog now that it is June!

The idea for this recipe came from a combination of my favorite pizza in Oklahoma and Pinterest.  I saw a pin for avocado with goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto, then the following day I had a slice of  “Maui Magic” from Hideaway Pizza in OKC which combines pineapple, mandarin oranges and Canadian bacon, and that’s how the Pineapple Goat Cheese Prosciutto wraps were born!

I decided to pair the delicious wraps with a Honey Lime Mint Glaze to give it that extra fresh, light, summer flavor!

Ingredients (makes 15 wraps)

  • 1/2 fresh pineapple (cubed)
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 3 oz prosciutto (sliced)

Honey Lime Mint Glaze (makes app 3/4 cup)

  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint (finely chopped)

Start by slicing the prosciutto and cutting up the pineapple.  Next, take a small piece of goat cheese and place on a cube of pineapple.

Then wrap the prosciutto around the pineapple and goat cheese.

And repeat 14 times.

Next, make the glaze by whisking together the 4 ingredients.

Drizzle the glaze over the wraps or serve on the side for guests to pour on their own.

♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute the prosciutto with Veggie Bacon.

  • Vegan Option:  The glaze can be made vegan by substituting the Honey with Agave Nectar and poured over pineapple cubes, omitting the cheese and prosciutto.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

Songs about Beards, Thunder Basketball and Woodward, OK

It only took 30 seconds of watching their video for me to decide I HAD to meet these guys.  These guys I refer to are the brothers who created the incredibly catchy song about my favorite NBA team and the most famous beard in the nation, “Beard Like Harden“!

For my first interview of the Summer Adventure I hopped in my Moms jeep the morning after OKC Thunder vs. LA Lakers Game 5 and headed to Woodward, Oklahoma.

In the 18 years I lived in Oklahoma I never made the three hour drive down country roads to the town of Woodward, so today I was in for a treat. A new adventure AND an interview with the artists that brought me my new favorite song!

Adventure it was. This is not like a “hop on one highway and be there in 3 hours” kinda drive, it’s more like a “blink and you’ve missed the next road that you were supposed to turn on because they all have 15 signs and they all look the same” kinda drive!

Yes I realize it’s ironic that I can maneuver around Los Angeles with the worst traffic in America but finding my way through the Oklahoma countryside was nearly impossible!

Although the roads were a little difficult to maneuver it was a beautiful drive that took me past the rows and rows of giant windmills (alternative energy, yeah we’re hip in Oklahoma!)

It also took me past many of the animals that make up the majority of the population in Oklahoma… yes, cows… and no I did not tip any!

Three hours later I arrived to meet Chris and Daniel Castor to talk all about “the Beard”, the sweet dance moves in the music video and how the “Beard Like Harden” sensation all came about!  Check out the interview here:

The video for their new original hit song, Came to Play,  is now on YouTube and the song is available for download on iTunes.

Looking forward to keeping in touch with these hometown celebrities to see what they come up with next!