2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup cacao powder
1-2 tsp stevia
4 tbs coconut oil, melted

Blend nuts, cacao and stevia well in food processor, blend in oil until moist. Roll into small balls and refrigerate.

I am interested in using cacao nibs and different nuts in this recipe too. Perhaps add some almond butter?

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. Why? Because of the food, of course!!!  This Thanksgiving I am planning a Paleo friendly (or Paleo inspired) Thanksgiving meal. While not everything follows Paleo 100%, it is very close. Everything is definitely going to be much lower carb than a normal Thanksgiving meal.

Well, except for the desserts. I have promised I will make regular, favorite desserts. They are NOT low carb, low sugar or Paleo in any way, shape or form. 

Below you can click on the link to see the recipes. I can't say I totally made up the recipes myself, but I put them together from a lot of different recipes and thus adapted them so that they no longer truly resemble the original recipes I started with. So, in a way, they are my own recipes. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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If you don't know what Paleo is, it is a diet that is supposed to be like (or more like) what our "caveman" ancestors ate. Basically, it is very much like a low carb diet. The main difference would be that with a low carb diet, you can eat processed low carb foods, with Paleo, you don't do processed. Also, with low carb, you can do dairy, not with Paleo. Some goat or sheep's milk dairy is okay in much moderation, but not regular cow milk or cheese. With low carb you can't eat fruits, while you are not supposed to do that with Paleo too much either, it is okay to work some fruits in (such as berries, tomatoes, avocados and other fruits that we often think of as vegetables). So, I hope to add more blog entries here over the next few months about how it goes as I go Paleo. I plan to work up to a complete Paleo Thanksgiving.

Yes, I have been neglectful. I have broken a blogging commandment: Thou shall not neglect thy blog for more than a month. And, yes, it has been almost 2 years since my last food blog.

So, why come back now? Why not? It is a lazy Saturday and I don't have too much other work to do, so I thought I'd update on some recent foodie experiences.

1. I got to eat at Michael Symon's Lola in Cleveland last month. He is, of course, my favorite Iron Chef. This certainly started because he is an Ohioan, but I have grown to enjoy him as just a loveable TV character. But, getting to actually experience his food means that I can now love him because I had an awesome meal at Lola. I didn't go all out and go crazy, but I got to sample a few friends' dishes as well as my own Wild Boar Cavatelli. The flavors were AMAZING!!! Everyone around me had steaks and large pork chops and I was afraid I would be jealous of their very substantial meals. But I definitely did not end up pinning and begging like a stray dog. Because their meals were so large, I got to taste all of theirs and they were quite delish. But I would not share my cavatelli. It was too good and a little on the small side to give up any of the unctuous creation. Call me selfish, a food hoarder, what you will. I practically became Golem with his "precious" when it came to sharing any of my cavatelli.

2. As I am addicted to all things Anthony Bourdain, I was excited (no, ecstatic) that No Reservations recently started up again with season 8. After watching the Mozambique episode, I was inspired to try my own hand at Piri Piri Chicken. It turned out great! It had great flavor and moist meat! I used this recipe:

Fresh Lime Juice from 3 limes, plus pulp
White Vinegar to taste (about 2 TBSP)
4 Fresh Garlic cloves (more or less depending on your love of garlic)
3 Thai Bird Chilies (more or less depending on the heat level you like)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 TBSP Paprika
1 TBSP ground Coriander Seed

*blend all above in a blender until mixed thoroughly and garlic and chilies are broken down.

1/2 cup of water

*blend again for a few seconds.

Marinate chicken in the above overnight in the fridge. I use gallon size Ziploc bags. I also used bone IN and skin ON to help with flavor and keeping moist when on the grill. But I am sure the healthier skinless would work too.

*Take chicken out of fridge one hour before you plan to grill and let come to room temp.

*Heat grill to medium heat and place chicken pieces skin side down to start. Reserve the marinade for basting.

*Leave chicken to cook on skin side for 5-7 minutes and baste the side that is up. Then flip the chicken pieces and cook and baste the other side for 5 minutes. Flip and baste each side twice. Depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces, you may need more time. My Chicken Breasts were HUGE, and I ended up finishing them in the oven while we all chowed down on the legs and thighs for dinner. The breasts made a lovely lunch the next day.

3. Back in November 2011, I traveled to Shanghai, China to visit my friend, Wang Li. While I would not say that I had any kind of orgasmic food experience, I did get to experience traditional Shanghaiese food and enjoyed it very much. Perhaps my favorite was an afternoon tea with house specialty dim sum. Below are some pictures of the food and the place we had this traditional Chinese tea.

4. While also in Shanghai, i got to experience a traditional North Korean restaurant, complete with entertainment. Here you can watch a video of the entertainment:

I would not say the food was much different from South Korean meals, but it was still very good!

5. In June, my husband, Mark, and I went to Oregon for a friend's wedding. I must encourage everyone to go eat at a Peruvian restaurant called Andina. The ANTICUCHO DE CORAZÓN, or marinated beef heart kebobs, served with a spicy salsa de rocoto were to DIE for!

In addition, while in on the Oregon Coast, we visited a most delightful winery, The Flying Dutchman. We arrived right before they were closing, so thought we might not even get to try any of the wines. not only were they happy to stay open for us  for a bit, but the vintner came out and asked if we would like to join a tour and barrel tasting he was going to do with a couple of friends. Uhhh, yes please! It was a really great experience! I took the picture above while there. I have posted a better one below as well. The one below would not conform to the banner pic size above!
As you can see, we sampled quite a bit of the dim sum. All was good!
This is the tea house where we ate. It is outside the Yu Gardens in Shanghai. The bridge you see in front is famous. It is called the 9 turns bridge. Many bridges in China will have many turns so that people can get wonderful views at each turn!
The Flying Dutchman Winery is located in Otter Rock on the Oregon Coast. Literally. On. The. Coast. This is the scene from the winery's "backyard."
So, this past week I was in Colorado for my sister's wedding and my one year anniversary. Needless to say, i ate some good food! Most notably was at the Greenbriar Inn just north of Boulder. My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary there on Sunday, July 11. this restaurant is situated in the country and looks like an old farm house, yet is right off the main road coming out of Boulder. It is very picturesque. 

We were first served a duck liver pate with a Bearnaise sauce on crostini. This was absolute perfection! I thought that that was in lieu of bread, but no. We also got a beautiful basket of bread. We ordered the escargot just because neither of us had ever had it. I don't think we'll get it again. Not that it was bad, just not our thing. A texture issue I think. They served a lovely little palate cleanser before the main course. A lemon sorbet I think it was. I had the filet mignon and Mark got the Beef Wellington. Both were superb, cooked perfectly. We did not get dessert as we had ice cream waiting for us back at the hotel. Overall I highly recommend this restaurant!
I'm going Mexican on food this week, yet making it more interesting by fusing it with healthy Californian type food and then down right cholesterol clogging Cajun food.

I will start tonight with a fresh tomato, cucumber and avocado salad with a tequila-lime vinaigrette.

Then I will have some spinach and poblano pepper saute, spice rubbed flank steak, cilantro garlic ricotta, and salsa verde as the ingredients we can stuff inside our soft corm tortillas to make tacos.

Of course, there is always chips and homemade salsa!

Later this week I will make crawfish enchiladas. I'll have to come back and tell you all how that went.
So, my parents went to Hawaii in March and got me a cookbook for my birthday featuring recipes from famous Hawaiian chefs. This weekend is Hawaiian meals galore! Last night I made Kaluha pork tacos with a spicy black bean side and mango salsa.  Tonight will be a Thai crispy chicken dish from the book. And Sunday will be duck breasts with a sweet potato puree from the book. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I rarely just follow a recipe. They are more of a idea guide than something I feel I need to follow religiously. This is why I am a terrible baker. I always say, I love to cook, not bake.

The pork tacos were very good, but I actually followed the recipe for the amount of salt in the pork, and I will NOT use that much next time. I then did NOT follow the recipe for the black beans and I added 2 hot peppers and it was way too hot, so I shall NOT do that again. But everything else worked out nicely.

I will update again after the Thai chicken and duck breast!
My husband always makes reservations at a restaurant in the area that I have been wanting to try for my birthday. This year we went to Sage American Bistro on North High in Clintonville. It was delish! We shared the braised pork belly appetizer. Don't do it! Each get your own! It was delectable and not very big, so really sharing it was not nearly enough. Of course this is pork belly we are talking about and we all know that health-wise we should NOT eat our own. We actually each ordered the same entree as well. If I can't decide between two items on a menu, and my dinning mate is ordering one of them, I order the same because I am afraid I will be jealous of what they have. So, we both had the Bistro Steak "filet" with braised mustard greens and sweet potato fries. The steal was perfect, the fries were awesome and while a bit salty, the greens were also very good. We also ordered dessert, which tends to only happen on birthdays. I ordered the chocolate espresso mousse and donut and my husband had the cheesecake. Both were very good. The chocolate mousse was very rich and really did not need the donut along side it, but I'm not complaining!
So, I was in Cincinnati for 4 days last week for a conference and had a chance to eat at a few good places. On Wednesday I went to McCormick & Schmick's. This is an upscale seafood chain. The food was okay, I had a nice fillet Mignon, cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, the Alaskan King Crab legs that came with it were horrible. They were overcooked and had no taste. The thing that displeased me the most in this restaurant though was the service. They seem to be trying to demonstrate that they have impeccable service because they have two people serving every table. All wait staff is dressed in coat and tie. But, if you have that kind of service and the kind of prices they do, a patron should NEVER have to ask for water or bread. These should be staples for every table. They never brought the water, and we had to ask 3 times for the bread. So, I can't say i would recommend McCormick & Schmick's. You can get a good steak at many places. In fact, you can order steak at the next 2 restaurants below.

On Thursday we went to Palomino's. I have learned that this is a chain restaurant out of Seattle. The food was good. I liked that there was a variety of price ranges. Small plates, large plates, wood fired pizza to die for!!! Best I have ever had. The service was great. Shout out to our server, Steven! He had to put up with a lot because there were 5 loud women at our table ready to start the night off partying. The best thing about Palomino's though, was the Lavender Cosmo!!! It was really, really good. I highly recommend Palomino's!

Then, on Friday, the same 5 women went to Via Vite. Shout out to our server, Evan, who also had to deal with us, but provided very good service. The chef came out to say hi to us. Not sure if it was because we were so loud, or what, but he did greet us warmly. Sadly, I did not catch his name. He is a Northern Italian and makes food like his mama used to make, but with his own twist. Boy was it good!  a friend and I got the rosemary infused pappardelle with "pasta e fagioli" and spicy Italian sausage with a hint of tomato sauce. "fagioli" means beans. I do not usually like beans, but I went with it. I ate everything on my plate and could have eaten more. I've got to figure out how to recreate this dish. It was phenomenal. Everyone else at the table seemed to really enjoy their dishes as well. So, I highly recommend Via Vite!
So, my first post will be about our meal at Bel Lago last night. Bel Lago is located by the Hoover Dam in Westerville, Ohio. The setting is wonderful, but the parking situation may leave you in a bad mood. There is very little parking near the restaurant. This certainly happens at many restaurants; however, most restaurants that have little parking will do things to aid the patron in finding parking. For instance, having a valet at Bel Lago would have been very helpful. It is definitely a prime spot for having valet. The hostesses (there seemed to be like 5), were not at all helpful when asked where else we could park.  If Bel Lago is not going to provide a valet, it would be nice to either have a sign saying where else people could park or make sure your employees have some ideas.

Once we got inside, the atmosphere is nice, although the live jazz music was a little loud. The outside patio was packed, so we were not able to get a seat out there. Our booth was very tight, I could barely move my arms while eating. I had to make the decision to NOT get the Alaskan King Crab legs because I didn't think I would have enough room to eat them.

I had the crab bisque, which was very flavorful, but had many pieces of shell and cartilage in it. On the bright side, I suppose that means the bisque was freshly made, on the downside, it made for difficult eating. But once again, I did like the flavor.  I also had the scallops with lobster mac n cheese. This was good. Nice, big, pieces of Maine lobster and the pasta was not too cheesy, more alfredo like. 

My dining companions had the lobster spaghetti and the ribs. Everyone seemed to like these dishes.

The big question:  Will I go back? Probably not. I think I can find a similar atmosphere elsewhere and get more elbow room and friendlier greeting, better parking elsewhere.

    Diana Tucker

    I enjoy a nice meal and love to cook! In this blog you will find everything from restaurant reviews, recipes and descriptions of meals I have made.


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