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Tomato and Hass Avocado Salad

7 Jul

This past Tuesday, I coordinated and attended a cooking segment at FOX 59 for one of my clients, Seasons 52. The head chef of the recently opened Indianapolis location did yet another in-studio cooking segment where he talked about the new summer menu items (menu changes weekly & four times a year) while preparing a delicious salad for FOX 59 viewers. I knew immediately after my first bite that I had to try and make it myself, and… I did- successfully! I would also recommend adding some citrus juice to preserve any leftovers and then enjoying them the next day on a bagel with cream cheese or as a sandwich with slices of the ciabatta bread.

Ingredients for Salad:

2 ripe tomatoes, cut in 1” chunks
2 avocados, peeled and cut in 1” chunks
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 ounces sherry vinegar
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of black ground pepper

For Plating:

4 thick sliced pieces of grilled ciabatta bread
2 cups arugula (wild organic)
Balsamic vinegar (aged) to taste

1. Place avocado and tomato chunks in a large bowl; combine all other salad ingredients and toss well, carefully combining all ingredients.  Allow salad to rest one hour at room temperature.

2. Season ciabatta bread with extra virgin olive oil and toast until golden brown, cut in thick slices and place on plate.

3. Add 2 cups organic arugula (or as much as desired) to marinating salad and toss well to coat leaves.

4. Spoon salad over the ciabatta bread slices, add a little of the juice on top.

5. Drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar and serve.

** While this may seem like a shameless plug for my client, I really wanted to share this with everyone because it is one of those restaurant recipes that is so easy to make at home. Now, of course, mine didn’t taste exactly like it does at the resturant, but close enough. Enjoy.


Resturant Radar

5 Jul

While we definitely enjoy hitting up the farmer’s market and making most dinners at home, I’ll always have the urge to check out what’s new with Indy’s dining scene. I’m a huge fan of the local food movement and am always curious to try new places.  Before the end of the year, I’d like to make it, at least once, to each of the the restaurants listed below. If you’ve dined at any of these before, please leave a comment with a few recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Bon Appetit!

First Taste of New Orleans

6 May

Shrimp n' grits at Lüke

Last week I headed out down to New Orleans with my boyfriend and one of our friends to hit up the Jazz & Heritage Festival and explore the deep South. This was my first trip to New Orleans and I was pleasantly surprised with just about everything. From the food, to the music on every street corner, to the southern hospitality- I was loving every bit. We went to the Jazz & Heritage Festival on Friday and got to see one of my favorite bands right now, Mumford & Sons, along with the Avett Brothers. Both bands killed it and the entire festival was phenomenal. We ending up meeting some great people from all over the country, tried some tasty food including crawfish and alligator pie, and jammed out to some incredible tunes.

Highlights of the trip included the Jazz & Heritage Festival, John Besh’s Restaurant August, John Besh’s Lüke Restaurant (best bloody mary and shrimp n’ grits EVER), Cafe DU Monde, wandering around Jackson Square, Frenchmen’s St. and the gorgeous houses in the Garden District. There were lots of cute shops around the city too! Here are a few pictures from the trip. Enjoy!

Betty Crocker Wanna Be

6 Dec

Cooking… I do it, I enjoy it, and I like to think I’m somewhat decent at it, but to be honest, I’m not the one to just ‘wing it’ and come up with those exquisite 5-star dishes. That is left to my talented, amateur-all star-chef boyfriend. Typical Sunday ritual, we rummaged through several old issues of SAVEUR (our favorite culinary magazine), and after an hour of “no, this looks better”, “no that does”- we finally agreed on Chicken Paprikash.

My job was measurements, making the dumplings and stirring. Total cook and prep time was an hour. Then voila- we were devouring a juicy chicken breast stewed in a sweet paprika pepper tomato sauce with a side of dumplins mixed in with fresh parsley.

I highly recommend this dish, and thank you Olga Kolozy. Full recipe here at

Meet one ‘Wise’ guy

6 Aug

I have wined and dined at many restaurants in my lifetime, and I can assure you there aren’t too many whose entrees and ambiance stick in my mind. However, during my third TasteCasting adventure I had the privilege of meeting one bar owner who’s got it right. Ladies and gentleman, I introduce you to Scott Wise, president and CEO of Scotty’s Brewhouse.

By positioning himself as Brewhouse’s ‘go-to man,’ Scott has been able to connect with his customers in a way most only imagine. A true believer in word of mouth and “top of mind” marketing, Scott stands behind each and every aspect of his restaurant. He takes suggestions to heart and accepts responsibility for any mistake- as a customer himself, he values what each individial thinks and feels as they walk through the door.

Social media is one tool that has allowed Scott the chance to quickly respond to feedback while being active in the dining process. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have given Scott another platform to share salent information with his customers while participating in two-way communication.

Scott Wise

Scott Wise

“I think the power of social media is so expansive that even the ‘experts’ don’t know how far-reaching this can go. The more you work with it, like anything, the more adept you become in using it,” said Scott Wise. “Having a background in marketing and PR definitely helps me, so I grasp a few intricacies that the average restaurateur probably wouldn’t see as it pertains to marketing to our consumers.”

Scott has swiftly adapted to new technology and used it to his advantage- interacting with customers on a daily basis, no matter where he or they are located. I constantly see @Brewhouse popping up on my Tweetdeck or in my inbox. Scott wears many hats but it’s evident his true passion comes from engaging with the customers in new and innovative ways.

As you might have noticed, the engaged, customer-focused approach of Scott Wise (and everyone else at Scotty’s Brewhouse, for that matter) is what caught my attention.  When you combine that with good food and great beer options (because let’s face it, it’s a brewhouse), it’s pretty hard to walk out without saying “let’s do this again soon”. I leave you with this message from one ‘Wise’ guy: “Most importantly, I love what I do and enjoy the interaction.  Social media has been a way for me to keep my brand alive while letting my personality shining through.”

Indy Favorites

1 Jul

After living in Indianapolis for almost 23 years now, exploring the food and culture of the city has always been a favorite past time of mine. Anything unique and locally owned has a special place in my heart (and wallet)! Here is a list of some of my favorite Indy favorites. Feel free to chime in and share your own!

811 E Westfield Blvd

Bazbeaux Pizza (Broad Ripple Village) By far the best pizza Indianapolis has to offer. The BR location is perfect with outdoor seating both on the roof & the patio. Other than its delectable pizzas, Bazbeaux offers a wide variety of Italian cuisine. Definitely start off your meal with a carafe of house red vino & the award winning garlic bread. For dinner, I recommend the Bazbeaux Special with pesto sauce and andoullie sausage or the BBQ pizza. And don’t forget to order the side salad- so worth it!

543 Indiana Avenue

543 Indiana Avenue

Zing Two words: love it! The modern décor, trendy atmosphere and upbeat jams all contribute to this outstanding and unique dining experience. The concept of ordering ‘small plates’ allows you to try more dishes at a cheaper price. With over 75 choices on the menu, you can’t go wrong. My favorites include: pan seared pork tenderloin wrapped with capocollo w/ mustard ale sauce over grilled vegetable salad with mint pesto & pine nut gremalata AND zing zing shrimp buttermilk battered with garlic chili dipping sauce AND warmed goat cheese served with tomato sauce. Check out the website for the brunch menu and a ton of awesome drink specials. And best of all, both of the owners are Butler University graduates.

6327 Guilford Ave

6327 Guilford Ave

Artifacts (Broad Ripple Village): Located next to the Corner Wine Bar (another local hot-spot), Artifacts is a unique gift shop with high quality, inventive products. If you are looking to step out of the box and give an artistic/inspired gift, Artifacts is the place to go. I love the wide selection of jewelry, ceramics and knickknacks. Of all the gifts I have given and received from Artifacts, I couldn’t be happier. The hippie/nature loving feel keeps me coming back time and time again.

The Lawn at White River

The Lawn at White River

White River State Park: To be perfectly honest, words cannot describe the tranquility that comes with stepping foot on the grounds of White River State Park. With so much to do in one place, you could spend a whole weekend exploring this one area. Besides the canal, trails and grassy pastures, you will also find the White River State Gardens, Eiteljorg Museum, IMAX Theater, Indianapolis Zoo, and Victory Field. Not to mention, Indy Jazz Fest, Taste of Freedom and an awesome summer concert line-up on the Lawn.

Chicago Dog

Chicago Dog

King David Dogs (Downtown and Airport) I have to admit, I have only been here once but that was all it took. I was fortunate enough to participate in Indy’s first Taste Casting event at KDD. Developed from a recipe over 70 years ago, these signature ¼ lb. all beef hot dogs are served grilled or steamed to perfection. Depending on your taste buds, there is a dog for everyone, and if you not- you can build your own. I recommend the Chicago Dog, tater tots and onion rings. So whether you live in the area or just here for a visit, this is a perfect, in-expensive treat everyone can enjoy!

Other local favorites include: Brugge (order the Triple de Ripple and Moules Frites), St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail, Broad Ripple BrewPub, Connors, Indianapolis Museum of Art and Yats!

I am always looking for new places to go and new foods to eat, what are your Indy favorites?

Ultimate Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

24 Jun

Check out this great article from Jolene Ketzenberger, Indy Star food and wine columnist. Dip, scoop and smile your way through portable, potluck favorites features excellent recipes for summertime entertaining.

I was on Twitter and just happened to see her tweet: “What’s your best pitch-in dish (potluck, carry-in, covered dish), the one that always disappears on the buffet table? Any great recipes?” Naturally, I replied with my favorite, spicy buffalo chicken dip. Next thing I know, Jolene is having art director, Jenny French, call me to set up the photo shoot.

I was first introduced to this dip from my boyfriend, Evan Strange. His family had been making it for years and after I finally realized just how wonderful it was- I began making it too! We added our own personal touch with the onions and bleu cheese crumbles. Below is the recipe and the pictures from the front page of the Indy Star Extra section of the June 24th issue. For this and other great pitch-in recipes be sure to pick up a copy of today’s Indy Star!

Ultimate Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 cup of ranch dressing
3/4 cup chopped red onion
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
2 10-ounce cans of chicken
3/4 cup of Frank’s hot sauce
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 container of bleu cheese crumbles
Tortilla chips or crackers for dipping

Directions: Sautee onions in butter until slight color change, and remove from heat. In a skillet, warm chicken. Add hot sauce, cream cheese and ranch dressing. Blend. Add half of the shredded cheese and sautéed onions. Mix until consistent throughout. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle rest of cheddar cheese on top. Top with generous amount of blue cheese crumbles. Bake in oven at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers. Goes best with a nice cold beer! *Adapted from a recipe by Mary England and Susie Cromer Clements.

Picture from the front page of the Indy Star Extra section

Picture from the front page of the Indy Star Extra section

Ultimate Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ultimate Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip- picture by Rob Goebel