Category Archives: Non-Booze

Buda Juice Cleanse

Being a food, drink and travel blogger, I often eat and drink … a lot. And a lot of it isn’t healthy. (“Yes, I’ll try all four desserts. Thanks much.”) That said, after returning from a two week tour of England and Ireland, I needed some extra help righting myself after all of the fish & chips and Indian food before heading to Kauai for a week.

Enter: Buda Juice’s cleanse

Since a lot of the foods we eat “contain additives made from petroleum products, pesticides, and other toxins”, sometimes it’s nice to flush your system and get rid of all of that ick. Their cleanse helps to do just that. Other pluses? It can help you lose weight, boost your energy level, brighten your skin, think clearer, sleep better, improve your immunity, and even increase your … ya know … desires. (Bingo.)

Buda Juice’s products are all certified organic, cold-pressed at 35º, pesticide-free, and not pasteurized, so they all bare an exacting expiration date that should be respected. They bottle everything in glass bottles to avoid potentially harmful plastics, and you can return the bottles for a $1 credit per bottle.

I chose to do a three-day cleanse to give myself a couple days to sweat it out at Camp Gladiator before starting my juice-only diet. (You’re not meant to work out while doing the cleanse, so I just walked for the three days.) Each day was the same six juices, and each flavor was unique and purposeful.

– Breakfast: No 01 Green Juice (spinach, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, ginger, kale, parsley) – this was a great way to start the day and gave me a little boost of energy
daily veggies + vitamins, detox + alkalizing agent, gut soother
– Mid-morning: No 04 Blue Lemonade (apple, cucumber, lemon) – this was my favorite of the juices, which is great because I got to drink it twice a day!
post workout electrolytes, alkalizing energy elixir, hangover cure
– Lunch: No 02 Red Juice (celery, apple, beet, ginger, parsley) – a filling option as a lunch substitute and it happens to be an absolutely gorgeous color
stamina booster, stress reliever, blood purifier
– Mid-afternoon: another Blue Lemonade
– Dinner: No S1 Basilato Soup (tomato, cucumber, sea salt, basil, olive oil) – This was a treat every day of the cleanse. I warmed mine and added a bit of pepper a couple of the nights. (And it was nice to have something to chew!)
healthy heart lover, kidney flusher, detox + digestive aid
– Dessert: No M1 Almond Milk (water, almond, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom) – sweet and definitely as good a nightcap as you can get without adding booze …this was a real treat each evening. I added a bit of cinnamon to mine.
healthy cholesterol support, balanced vegan protein, smart hunger quencher

All in all, I felt refreshed and a bit lighter (both physically and spiritually) after three days of (albeit delicious) juices. But I was ready to eat all the pineapple, mai tais and fish Kauai had to offer … not because I was hungry (the juices give you enough calories for a healthy daily intake and I never heard a grumble from my stomach), but because I just wanted to chew something!

BUDA JUICE
budajuice.com
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MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

1 day cleanse: $65 (6 juices, 16oz each)
3 days cleanse: $195 (18 juices, 16oz each)
5 days cleanse: $325 (30 juices, 16oz each)

Pictures courtesy of Buda Juice

They do warn you that, as with any detox, there are some potential side effects. While ridding your body of toxins, you could “experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, skin blemishes, constipation, as well as other digestive issues. All should be temporary …”

Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts

The holidays have come and gone, and that means the one gift you agonized over has been given. So … what can your go-to gift for the year be?  You know … for the person who has everything. Do your friends like to cook? Or as a minimum … do they like to eat? I have the perfect (read: delicious) solution for you: give the gift of a culinary education, with a little help from Chef Tre Wilcox and American Kitchen Cookware.

At the end of 2016, Julia Pearl‘s Chef Tre Wilcox (you may also recognize him from Bravo’s “Top Chef”, or impressively taking down Iron Chef Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef America”) opened Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts: a beautiful event venue in Plano, featuring a state of the art demonstration kitchen with four cooking stations. Cooking Concepts offers everything from themed cooking classes, to team building events, to catering services. Cooking Concepts’ partnership with American Kitchen Cookware is a match made in culinary heaven, giving would-be Wolfgangs and Giadas the opportunity to experiment with some beautiful cookware that is actually affordable.

I had the opportunity to participate in a cooking class with Chef Tre and his crew, and here are a few things I can share:

  1. This is not one of those “cooking classes” where you sit back and watch someone else do all of the heavy lifting while you half-watch amidst socializing with your friends and sipping mediocre wine from a plastic cup. Oh, no. I have very few pictures from this event, and this is because I was constantly chopping, stirring, sautéing, or pan-searing something. You are going to earn your dang dinner.
  2. That said … you will not be thrown to the wolves. Each of the four demo stations were staffed with one of Chef Tre’s kitchen minions, who were A) extremely talented, B) extremely helpful, and C) REALLY INTO FOOD … kind of like that Central Market deep voice guy but remarkably less annoying.
  3. You may learn that you’re doing everything wrong in the kitchen. Just accept this heading into the experience. There can’t really be a “wrong” way to chop an onion, right? Oh, on the contrary. There is, and it’s the way you’ve been doing it all along. Get ready to make some adjustments, and you will learn some time saving (and injury saving and perhaps even watery eye saving … ) hacks you will want to use at home.
  4. You can cook a delicious, impressive, restaurant quality meal. Ok, so maybe it’s under the watchful eye of someone who is slightly more well versed in the kitchen than you are, but that’s a technicality.   Shrimp and grits … pan seared scallops … Thai coconut salmon … yeah, I created all of these dishes. (Me, the UberEats Queen.)
Picture courtesy of American Kitchen Cookware

Here is a list of upcoming cooking classes, with themes running the gamut from sushi, to Southern cooking, to knife safety.  Note: Cooking Concepts is offering a couples’ cooking class for Valentine’s Day, which is coming up quickly. So, make your plans! Online registration is available. Classes are small, and will fill up quickly!

If you’re going to surprise the aspiring chef in your life with a Tre Wilcox cooking class, you may as well give them the right tools to be successful once the class is in the books. Check out American Kitchen Cookware to peruse some of the cookware Chef Tre uses in his demo kitchen. You’ll want to take some home with you.

Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts
trewilcox.com
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8200 Preston Road, Suite 135 (Plano)
(214) 296-2168

A great, big “thank you” to Chef Tre Wilcox and American Kitchen Cookware for inviting me out to get schooled … and fed! It was so much fun!

Now Open: Smashburger in The Colony

Smashburger, the quality-obsessed, Colorado-based, “better burger” chain, is spreading like wildfire. In November, they opened their most recent Dallas-Fort Worth location in The Colony on State Hwy 121, just east of Josey Lane.

If you’ve never experienced Smashburger before, you’re not doing it right. Smashburger’s commitment to building a “better burger” starts out with high-quality ingredients. Fresh, never frozen, natural Certified Angus beef is “smashed” for exactly ten seconds on a 385º buttered grill top. The burger perfectionists at Smashburger have the “smashing” down to a science; this time and temperature has proven to be the secret to locking in that juicy goodness, while crisping the bottom of the burger to a crispy, caramelized shell. Hungry yet? Your burger is then nestled between a soft, buttery artisan bun, and topped with fresh, high-quality ingredients.

What kind of ingredients, you might ask? Well, that’s up to you. With burger offerings that include spinach & goat cheese, spicy jalapeño Baja, and buffalo blue cheese, the sky is (more or less) the limit. Feeling inventive? Take your shot at BYOB (that’s building your own burger), instead.

If burgers aren’t your thing, Smashburger also offers delicious chicken (grilled or crispy) sandwiches, as well as a black bean burger in their lineup. If you’re inclined to ditch the bun altogether, try indulging in one of Smashbruger’s fresh, plentiful salads. If you’re looking for a little something on the side, four equally tempting varieties of fries are available: Traditional French Fries, Smash Fries (seasoned with olive oil, rosemary, and garlic- my personal recommendation), Spicy Buffalo Fries, and Sweet Potato Fries. Also available: Onion Rings and Fried Pickles. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, try the Veggie Frites- a flash-fried side of green beans and carrot strips.

If you do opt to demonstrate remarkable discipline and choose the Veggie Frites for your side, I think it’s only fair to reward your responsible decision with a delicious hand-spun milkshake. (That’s how this works, right?) Smashburger handcrafts all of their shakes with Häagen-Dazs ice cream, in a range of irresistible flavors like Nutterbutter, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Oreo. I highly recommend stopping in for their seasonal shake offering, the Belgian Cookie Crumble- sweet cookies blended with vanilla ice cream and notes of cinnamon and caramel, topped with cookie crumbs and whipped cream. Holy yum.

Smashburger serves a variety of rotating local craft beers from the likes of Deep Ellum Brewing and Rahr and Sons, to name a few. You will want to keep this in mind, come warmer weather. Conveniently located just a stone’s throw from Lake Lewisville, I’m hard-pressed to think of a better way to conclude a day on the water than indulging in a juicy Smashburger, a piping hot stack of Smashfries, and an ice cold local craft beer on Smashburger’s new patio. Note to self: This is happening.

SMASHBURGER – The Colony
smashburger.com
214-618-0880
-multiple locations- & 4940 State Highway 121, Suite 125 (The Colony)

Open  daily 10:00 AM- 10:00 PM

 

State Fair Treats & Walmart: a Marriage Only Texans Would Understand

The State Fair of Texas ends today, … didn’t get a chance to make it out there this year? (Or, you just simply weren’t in the mood to navigate a sweaty sea of humanity in the sweltering heat, intermittently pausing to open up your wallet and shake it until it’s empty?) Well, I have good news for you and your taste buds … but, bad news for your cholesterol count. A variety of deep-fried, State Fair favorites are now available, indefinitely, at none other than … Walmart. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s such a delightfully perfect pairing (and I do not think I need to elaborate as to why that is). State Fair Treats has opened up shop inside of the Coit Rd. location in Plano.

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Isaac Rousso, three-time winner of the Big Tex Choice Award for “Most Creative” deep-fried offerings, is the mastermind behind this amazing marriage of commerce and culinary delights. (You can thank Rousso for the imagining of past delicacies including the Fried Pop-tart, Smoky Bacon Margarita, and Deep-Fried Cuban Rolls.) State Fair Treats features a 45 snacks and treats from the requisites like corn dogs and nachos to indulgent sweet treats like Funnel Cake Fries, Fried Oreos, and the Texas Bluebonnet (a cream cheese-stuffed, deep-fried blueberry muffin topped with whipped cream and more blueberries). I may have had one two, and it was admittedly delicious. Rousso’s award-winning Cookie Fries will join the lineup of goodies this week.

While you won’t find any livestock or midway games at State Fair Treats, it’s definitely worth stopping in for an indulgent goodie or two … and bonus: you’ll still have enough cash left to buy whatever a goodie from Walmart on the way out.

State Fair Treats
StateFairTreats.com
Facebook
425 Coit Road., Plano (Located inside Walmart)
(972) 612-9637

Hours: daily, 7am (yes, they have breakfast) – 9pm

***Thanks to State Fair Treats for inviting us in to check out the fried goodness!***

Tropical Smoothie Cafe

I am a Native Floridian (though this year will mark my 10th living in Texas … at what point does one become a Naturalized citizen?), and I am nothing short of delighted to discover that one of my favorite Florida lunch spots finally made its way to Dallas. In fact, Tropical Smoothie Cafe now has three locations in the Metroplex; one in Dallas, one in Frisco, and one Fort Worth along with new locations coming soon to Plano and Lewisville.

The name “Tropical Smoothie Cafe” might lead one to believe that this spot specializes in smoothies- and well, you’d be right about that. But, In addition to more than 25 smoothie creations- with an assortment of 16 supplements and add-ons you can choose to add to your sippable masterpiece- Tropical Smoothie also features a pretty awesome food menu. Tropical Smoothie’s Dallas location gave us a sneak peek to check out some new menu additions- and I was relieved to find many of my old favorites remain on the menu, as well. Whew.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has always offered a great variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Their ingredients are chef-inspired and far from mundane; for instance, wrap options include a Thai Chicken variety, with wontons, carrots, sesame seeds cilantro, scallions, and Thai peanut dressing, and a Jamaican Jerk Chicken variety, prepared with southwestern rice, corn, black, beans, asparagus, read onions, mozzarella cheese, and of course, a zesty Jamaican Jerk sauce (each $6.99). Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s best selling sandwich is the Rustic Turkey & Apple Club, which consists of turkey, cheddar, gorgonzola, bacon, dijon honey mustard, and house-made kale and apple slaw piled high on a thinly sliced seedlicious bread ($6.99). 

New menu offerings include a lineup of Tacos with creative varieties that include Korean BBQ Steak (steak, house-made cucumber & kale slaw, sweet and spicy Asian BBQ sauce) and Smoked Jalapeño Chicken (grilled chicken, bacon, cabbage, tomatoes, red onions, smoked jalapeño spread; 2 for $5.49 or 3 for $7.99). Also new to the menu are a lineup of toasted flatbreads with offerings like the Tzatziki Steak (steak, red onions, sliced tomatoes, romaine, cucumbers, tzatziki sauce) and the Chicken Pesto (grilled chicken, tomatoes, parmesan, mozzarella, pesto; $4.49). 

Yes, the food menu at Tropical Smoothie Cafe is greatness, but, I can’t possibly go on without saying a bit more about the smoothies they’re serving up. TSC’s smoothie lineup includes a variety of classics (the Jetty Punch– strawberry & banana, and the Sunrise Sunset– strawberries, pineapple, mango, & OJ are two guest favorites), “Superfood” options (ingredients like açai juice, goji berries, pomegranate, kale and ginger), and “supercharged” options featuring added boosts of functional ingredients like protein, fat burner, or energizer. (Smoothies range from $4.49 to $5.49all smoothies are 24 oz.) TSC sweetens their creations with Turbinado (a raw sugar) unless otherwise noted, and sugar substitutes are available on request.

Tropical Smoothies Cafe4

My favorite part about Tropical Smoothie Cafe is the variety of supplements and add-ins you can toss into your smoothie creation for a small up-charge. Feel like you’re coming down with a cold? No problem; Add a shot of Vitamin C immune to your smoothie. Not enough time to sit down and eat a real lunch? Toss in a shot of whey protein, and suddenly you have a well-balanced, sippable lunch.  Most importantly, I asked owner Robert Causey what he would recommend to nurse me back to health after a long night of, well, Drinking Dallas. He recommended an antioxidant rich Superfoods Smoothie like the Acai Berry Boost (acai, pomegranate, banana, blueberries, strawberries), with a shot of naturally energizing Vitamin B-12, for good measure. I will definitely be trying out his recommendation…probably sooner, than later!

Tropical Smoothie Cafe features a “Happy Hour” of their very own, with half-price smoothies from 6:00 AM-9:00 AM and 6:00 PM-8:00 PM.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Dallas
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4560 W. Mockingbird Ln., Suite 118, Dallas
(214) 351-7037

A great big thanks to Robert Causey and Tropical Smoothie Cafe for having me out. I’m so glad to see a little slice of Florida here in Texas! 

True Wilcox Cooking Concepts

You know that saying, “Those who can’t do, teach”?  Tre Wilcox completely disproves that one with the recent opening of Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts in Frisco last month.  The space will serve as a cooking school (for group cooking classes, private sessions, and even team building exercises), a catering prep kitchen, and an event space.

You may remember Tre from his time on Bravo’s “Top Chef” or one of the amazing restaurants around Dallas he’s lent his expertise to over the years–ahem, Abacus, Marquee Grill, Loft 610.  Oh … and he was a nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef” award … twice.  I mean … whatever … he’s real damn talented.

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The 3,200 square foot space has a full commercial kitchen that the team will use for prep and event catering.  The sleek spaces also has a wall lined with top-of-the-line ranges and ovens begging to be fired-up and used to make one of the unreal dishes dreamt up by Chef Tre.  The shiny appliances will be put to good use in the group classes and even for the aforementioned team-building games–choose from the “Iron Chef Battle”, “Market Basket Challenge”, and the “Family Dinner”.  Sounds like a fun way to get back at Janet in accounting who keeps eating your lunch.

Don’t enjoy the thrill of competition?  Grab a spot in one of the upcoming events where Tre will team up with other local chefs or even wine experts for tastings.  His casual teaching style makes the techniques feel more approachable–even perfect, homemade risotto seemed attainable after his demonstration at our media preview.  (I may need a refresher before trying it again myself.)

One pro tip he gave us was, if it takes less than 20 minutes for a restaurant to bring you risotto … they’re making it wrong.

TRE Cooking Concepts
www.trewilcox.com
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8200 Preston Road, Suite 135, Plano
844-776-8200

 

The Original Pancake House

Written by Anna Tomczyk

Most great nights out leave me surprisingly hungry, despite any late night burger runs. When Susie asked me to visit the newest location of The Original Pancake House in Irving for a Saturday brunch, I was a bit confused. (I mean, one would assume that a booze-less brunching normally wouldn’t be Susie approved. As it turns out, OPH truly sets themselves apart with high quality ingredients and top-notch hangover mitigating breakfast favorites.) Their menu offers a large selection of breakfast and lunch dishes and there’s something on the menu for everyone.

The staff at the Original Pancake House in Irving was eager to please and greeted me quickly. After being seated, I was given a full breakfast and lunch menu along with their specialty coffee menu. This particular location has a full service espresso and brew bar to serve up your favorite coffee beverages all day. PRO TIP: order a pick-me-up drink at the bar while you wait. Their brews are locally sourced and their espresso (a blend of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Brazilian coffee) is brewed in-state. I ordered a vanilla latte and it was perfectly balanced with a surprisingly savory finish.

Every great brunch place has to get the basics right, so I started out with the sugar-cured, thick-cut bacon and buttermilk pancakes with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. I can tend to be pretty picky about my bacon and it didn’t disappoint–it was perfectly crispy. Some places have a hard time freshly squeezing juices and managing to chill them the same day before serving, but not OPH. It came out chilled and very refreshing. And the best part of this plate, of course, is the pancakes! The owner of this location let me know it takes five days to make their famous pancakes and guaranteed they would not disappoint. I buttered my pancakes with their soft, whipped butter and smothered them next with in-house pancake syrup … and they were indeed delectable and just as fluffy and flavorful as I was promised.

Since I have a strong European ancestry and my hubby is 100% Polish, it’s comforting to see dishes such as the OPH potato pancakes and the Dutch Baby on the menu. For those who are unfamiliar with potato pancakes, they’re shredded potato, egg, onion, and flour all pan fried to golden brown resembling the more popular (but less delicious) hash brown. My mother-in-law makes traditional Polish-style potato pancakes and they are a homemade favorite for everyone in our family. Amazingly enough, OPH serves really fantastic potato pancakes with your choice of savory sour cream or sweet apple sauce–I’m convinced they would be mother-in-law approved. The Dutch Baby was just as amazing (if a bit more oddly named), and I was eager to try this signature sweet offering. This traditional German pancake has a slight lemon flavor without being overpowering. The flaky, golden baked treat is topped with whipped butter, lemon, and powdered sugar.

Dutch Baby (Picture courtesy of OPH)
Dutch Baby (Picture courtesy of OPH)

OPH offers quite a few other breakfast dishes–omelets, crepes, dutch pancakes, other egg specialties, and some really fantastic sandwiches and random other lunch items. The restaurant truly made me feel like a friend of the family and I was able to see the fun culture and pride that everyone from the servers to the owner to the head chef have for the food they make and the guests they serve.

This is the place to keep in mind to frequent with friends and family alike when you want to give your kitchen a rest but still enjoy made-from-scratch, hearty goodness.


The Original Pancake House

ophdfw.com
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LOCATIONS

***OPH invited me in for brunch.*** 

Lord Levington’s nuts are great … but they’ll leave a mess on your hands

There’s always been something a little off-putting about sharing a tiny cup of cocktail peanuts in the middle of a crowded bar while mingling hands with strangers (or even drinking buddies). The experience always gets easier with a few drinks, but, when sober, bar nuts fall somewhere between stale bag of crackers and mushy banana on the snack spectrum.

Luckily, someone decided bar mix could reach an actually enjoyable level, and all it takes is a good product and a ridiculous amount of kitsch to drive home the point. Meet Lord Nut Levington, made in Dallas. (I, however, am still coming to you from Rhode Island.)

Before we even move forward, it’s probably worth poking around the website for a few minutes. The packaging style is a mix of old timey artwork, sex puns and random STD penicillin references – but regardless of whether or not you get a chuckle out of it or not, the product inside is seriously good.

The flavors are fitting over the top, ranging from Zesty Chile Lime to Thai Curry & Lemongrass to Spicy Bloody Mary (Susie’s favorite). Each flavor is covered in a dust that is clearly derived from some version of crack that makes you keep chowing down while your hands slowly get covered in a thick gunk you haven’t seen since you stuck your wet fingers in a Cheeto bag as a child. PRO-TIP: use a spoon or lid to tip the nuts directly into your mouth to avoid looking like a large adult son who had too much Mountain Dew before snack time.

Since this is a booze blog, it’s also important to point out the flavors paired pretty well with their corresponding drink. The Spicy Bloody Mary and Hot Buffalo went great with spicy cocktails, the lemongrass was tangier and went with anything, the Zesty Chile Lime was good with tequila, and White Cheddar & Jalapeño went well with beer. My personal favorite was the Hot Buffalo, but there really wasn’t a bad flavor in the pack. (And my wife quickly stole most of the Thai Curry & Lemongrass and refused to give them back. I’m letting her have that one since she recently gave me a child.)

So yeah, I’ve spared you about five different “deez nuts” jokes and a couple of other puns, so I’ll just end by pointing out that you should either look for this snack in stores or order a sample pack online today. It’s a nice break from the usual drinking snack fare and, assuming you can avoid making a mess of the place, might be a nice snack to keep around your home bar or for parties.

To find a store near you that carries Lord Nut Levington, just use their store locator tool: http://www.whoislordnut.com/locate/.

Oh … and this brand was on “Shark Tank” at some point … if you care about that sort of thing.