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Top 14 Posts of 2014

I can't believe it is almost 2015!  Really just crazy to think that 2014 has come and gone in what seems to be the blink of an eye.  I was reviewing my "Facebook year in review" compilation they put together for you and 2014 was really quite an amazing year.  My husband and I both started new jobs at the beginning of the year.  Several of my friends had or are about to have adorable little babies.  After years and years of talking about it, we finally went to Europe for vacation and it was amazing!  And my little sister got married.  

It has been a fun year of blogging too!  While I did take a bit of a hiatus while life was a bit busy, there have been a lot of great new recipes added to the "recipe book".  Also, some new kinds of posts this year including some fun lists about Columbus.  So, without further adieu, the top 14 posts of 2014...

broccoli chicken alfredo pizza

1. 40 Things to Do in Columbus When It's Cold or Rainy
2. Summer Bucket List - 20 things to do in the Cbus
3. Salted Caramel Mocha Brownies
4. Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Pizza
5. Creamy Salmon Pasta
6. Grilled Asparagus and Poached Egg
7. Creamy Springtime Pasta
8. Green Yakisoba
9. 26 Easy Vegetarian Recipe Roundup
10. Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Granola Bars
11. Seared Scallop Alfredo
12. Rosemary Chicken
13. Grilled Caesar Salad
14. Veggie Calzone

chocolate covered peanut butter granola bars salted caramel mocha brownies

Throughout the year, the Columbus related posts have remained the most read posts of the year.  So, while this is a recipe blog, there may be some more Columbus posts coming your way in 2015.  Stay tuned!



And of course the number one post of the year...

Thanks for reading and have a happy New Year!!!  *cheers*

Top 13 Recipes from 2013
Top 12 Recipes from 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and time with family over the holiday weekend!  Ours was pretty laid back considering we started the Christmas celebrations three weeks ago.  Of course, once Christmas is over, then comes the realization that the year is almost over as well.  Still can't believe it!  2015 is only a few days away, so I started thinking about what my New Year's resolution could be.

Now I know resolutions are hard to keep and it seems silly that there is so much focus on "becoming a better person" for one day out of the entire year, but I am a goal setter, so I like them.

picture from

Here is a list of the top ten New Year's resolutions made every year...

1. Lose Weight
2. Getting Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family

You know what resolution would cover over half of these?  Meal planning!  I've been planning meals at the beginning of each week for about five years now and can say that there are tons of benefits to getting organized and cooking at home.  

1. Save Money - Because you're not eating out and when you go to the grocery store, you know exactly what you need (saves time wandering around too).
2. It's Healthier - Chances are good that you don't have a deep fryer at home.  Also, since you know what is going into the food you're eating you will probably think a little more about it.
3. Spend Time with Family - Eating around the kitchen table is 100 times better than eating on the go.  Savor your food and the conversation!
4. Knowing the answer to "What's for dinner?" - Ugh, I used to hate that question!  My response was always "food" because I didn't know yet.  Now I just point to this week's meal plan.  :)
5. Learn New Things - When I started meal planning, I was a beginner level cook at best.  You learn as you go.  Your meals get better, fancier... soon people are wanting your recipes and asking you to cook at their house.

To make it easier, I'm working on some curated meal plans for you... with organized grocery lists!  There will be a couple categories to choose from... 30 minutes or less (all recipes are quick and easy), vegetarian, and seasonal.  Each meal plan will have six meals and a weekend breakfast recipe.  And the first three are ready for you!

Chocolate Cherry Bombs - total time 50 minutes

Chocolate Cherry Bomb

I looove cookies... but seriously, I need a break from them right now.  Too many Christmas cookies!  

So we were running through the produce section of our grocery store the other day (really just to grab some lettuce for tacos) and I noticed cherries.  I have always associate cherries with summer.  Cherries are the kind of fruit you can't have year-round in the produce department, so I looked into it, and it is currently the Southern hemisphere's cherry season (makes sense)!  I guess Australians associate cherries with Christmas, which made me think... Christmas is really different down under, wearing shorts in the height of summer season and celebrating Christmas... strange thought!

Any way... there are a lot of birthdays around Christmas and I have been thinking about making cake pops, but instead of a pop, a cherry stem.  So I grabbed a bag of cherries and made these super rich and chocolaty cherry bombs!  And I mean they are really gooood.  This is coming from someone who doesn't typically like chocolate cake or cherries... but these are the bomb!  (Haha... pun intended!)

Just so you know, the stems are a little finicky.  I really wanted mine to look like little cherry bombs, so I tried my hardest to keep the stem on throughout the process (specifically when dipping them in the chocolate).  These would be just as delicious balled up without the stem or even put a pop stick in them.

So before your New Years resolutions are set, get in one last indulgence!

Triple Almond Cookies - total time 1 hour

Almond Cookies

Happy Winter Solstice!  It was actually sunny today, but it has already been dark for hours (it is making me so tired).  The darkest day of the year means the more sunshine in every day after!  :)

Hope you're wrapping up on your holiday related shopping, baking, and giving, we just celebrated Christmas with my husband's family over the weekend.  I was planning on making my mom's famous "melting moments" cookies made with almond extract.  It took so long for her to share her recipe with me since it is one of those family secrets you just can't share willy nilly.  I looked through my old recipe box that holds tried and true recipes I wrote down before I started this blog and before I had my recipe binder... I could not find the recipe!

At that point I had it in my head that I needed to make these cookies, I could almost taste them.  During our vacation in Europe, I realized I pretty much love any almond related pastry!  So I had to make some kind of almond cookie... came up with this recipe... and it was a hit at our early Christmas... and since it isn't a family secret recipe, I can share it with you!

These cookies have three different almond layers to make sure to satisfy that almond craving!  It starts with the crumbly, almondy, shortbread-like cookie.  Inside is a pocket of almond paste (new discovery!) that gives the cookie that soft, almost gooey center I love in cookies.  And to finish it off with an almond sugar glaze.  If you like almond, you'll love these cookies!  (Then try it with coffee!)

Weekly Menu

I didn't post a menu last week because we were basically out for dinner all week!  In between all of the dinners out, we managed to decorate our house.  Fully loaded Christmas trees have been taking up most of my newsfeed since Thanksgiving.  We don't have a ton of decorations (but perhaps using my mom's house as a comparison is unfair since she goes a little overboard) so it didn't take too long, but it really feels like Christmas officially.  

And, good thing it feels like Christmas... because we already had one!  Over two weeks early, I know.  After opening gifts, we headed to Ohio Village for Dickens of a Christmas, a tradition we started back in the early '90s.  Everything in Ohio Village is like it was in Ohio back in 1860.  My favorite part is the carolers singing in town hall all dressed up in period clothing singing carols from back in the day (with no mention of Santa Claus).  Then for some hot cocoa and chestnuts roasted over an open fire, we walk around the village seeing how thing were back in the day.  Dickens of a Christmas is only open two weekends in December, so check it out this weekend!

This week is going to be just as busy starting with going to the Lindsey Stirling concert with my parents in a few hours.  

Love all of the time with friends and family lately, but need some home cooked meals in my life again.  So I was busy yesterday prepping some food for lunches this week and making some homemade granola for breakfast.  We'll be home for dinner three nights this week, so here is our mini menu of quick meals...

chicken fajitas
shrimp po' boys
stuffed shells

And then trying to get some Christmas baking in this week too!

Chestnuts Roasting Over and Open Fire Ohio Village Carolers
Ohio Village Hand Pies

She is making little berry hand pies and baking with lard!

O Christmas Tree Christmas mantle

Snoop is confused why there is a fake pine tree inside the house (and then warming his butt by the fire).

Top 5 Cookies to Make for Christmas

Top 5 Christmas Cookie Recipes

I can't believe Christmas will be here next week!  The season has really flown by (as did much of the year) and now I'm rushing around to buy meaningful gifts for everyone on our list.  At least the tree is up and our house is modestly decorated (compared to my mom's house, where people take tours of the Christmas explosion).  And now it is time to bake...

Most people think of those hard press cookies or sugar cookies decorated like Christmas trees when they think of Christmas cookies.  I'm pretty selective about my desserts, might as well get the most enjoyment out of those sugary treats, and shortbread and sugar cookies don't make the cut for me.  Instead, I make the cookies I prefer, but a little holiday twist on them, and it turns out, other people like them too.  So here are five non-traditional Christmas cookies that you'll actually enjoy.

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip
There is no question these are holiday cookies when you add some green M&Ms to the dough.  Red and green... check... delicious and soft... check!

Thick Mint Cookies
Ditch the dull candy canes and opt for these chocolate mint cookies instead.  Kind of inspired by the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie, these pack even more flavor.

Buckeye Bark
Maybe it is an Ohio thing, but buckeye candies are expected every Christmas.  They aren't hard to make, but they are pretty tedious.  Try Buckeye Bark instead and save yourself time in the kitchen.

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip
Mmm... Nutella!  Just think of biting into the perfect chocolate chip cookies with an ooey gooey chocolate center.  These really don't have much to do with Christmas.  It is the fact that they are the best cookies ever that gets them on this list.

Cake Batter
Hold the fruit cake, we're talking buttery yellow cake.  These cookies stay so soft for days and days!  Which makes it the perfect cookie to pack in a tin and take it from this party to that gathering.  Add the red and green chips to make them festive.  :)

Have fun baking!

5 Tips to Keep the Winter Weight Off (without depriving yourself)

Tis the season of cookies, candy canes, and over eating.  With all the temptations and not enough time to work up a sweat, it is easy to pack on the lbs during the holiday season. 

After day three of being sore from my workout at the Dance Factory, I realized I had not worked out in over three months!  Quite a long stretch!  The ironic thing is... I actually lost weight during those three months.  Now I am not advocating to stop all physical activity... and I'm also not a licensed nutritionist by any means... but I have a few tips on healthier eating that can help keep the winter weight off even if you don't have time to get to the gym with your busy holiday schedule.

1.  Don't deprive yourself.  I have the worst sweet tooth.  I can't help it, I need something sweet, like all of the the time!  My go to sweet tooth solution is gum since it stays sweet for a while.  If gum doesn't work, I like to go with fresh fruit.  I know, I know... fresh fruit will not fix most cravings, which is why I usually pair a banana with a spoonful of peanut butter and some dark chocolate chips.  Totally satisfying, filling, and not bad for you.  If that doesn't work for you, then try eating ONE cookie or ONE small scoop of ice cream.  If you give yourself a small serving and put it away, you're less likely to keep eating after your sweet tooth is satisfied.  But if you don't give yourself a little bit, eventually you'll cave, eat too much, and feel guilty.

2.  Eat only when you're hungry.  This can be a tricky one during the holidays... well... any time really.  When you're eating with family or going out to dinner with friends, you feel obligated to eat full entrees with them even when you're not hungry.  Opt for a side like a baked potato or side salad, then you can have a small meal at home when you are actually hungry.  Also, we tend to eat based on a specific schedule or when it is most convenient to eat.  Just because it is noon doesn't mean you have to eat lunch.  And have a healthy snack easily accessible, like an apple or carrot sticks, so you don't feel tempted to go to the nearest vending machine.

3.  Cook as much as you can at home.  My guess is that you don't own a deep fryer.  That cuts out some of the most unhealthy food out there!  Cooking at home doesn't mean you're a slave to the kitchen.  In fact, the healthiest food is usually the quickest to prepare!  Don't be scared of spices either... they add tons of flavor without adding calories.  Also, make more than you plan on eating, then set it aside for lunch the next day so you don't go back for seconds.

4.  Change your mindset.  This one is probably the hardest and will take time to work on, but think about what you are eating as fuel for your body, because that is exactly what it is!  Do you think you're body will perform better with a side of steamed broccoli or fried potatoes.  Think about the nutrition involved.  But also keep it balanced.  Don't deprive yourself.  Obviously a full plate of raw vegetables is great for you, but if that's what you eat everyday, you will either hate eating or eat an entire cake in one sitting.  If you have something like croque du riesling, keep it to a small portion size and balance it with a salad.

5.  Speaking of salads, make a healthy salad!  Too often we drown our salads in dressing and cheese, but consider it a healthy meal because it is a salad afterall.  Well, not all salads are healthy.  My favorite salad to make at the salad bar includes mostly spinach and mixed greens, then I top it with some sunflower seeds, feta cheese, bell pepper slices, bean sprouts, and just a little bit of crumbled bacon.  I gradually cut out using dressing.  I realized I didn't need it to enjoy my salad if I had the right mix.  Everyone's mix will be different, but there is always a way to make your healthy choices healthier.

Those are my top five tips to keep in mind this holiday eating season.  Enjoy the time with friends and family, but keep the pounds at bay.  Swim suit season is just around the corner (or at least that's what I keep telling myself every time I bundle up to go outside)!

Weekly Menu

Thanksgiving weekend is officially over.  So is November.  Can't believe it will be December in a few hours... my Facebook newsfeed is filled with pictures of Christmas trees already!

So before we move on to Christmas, just a moment to recap Thanksgiving.  We had several of them, with the last one ending just a few hours ago at our house.  The house is filled with aromas of roasted turkey, butternut squash, and sage!  Mmm  :)  So full though!  We passed on a couple classics, but had a traditional roasted turkey, crispy roast potatoesbutternut leek soupbrussel sprout gratin, and caesar salad.  I couldn't decide on a dessert to make, so I got some cookies from our neighborhood bakery and some Jeni's ice cream... I think everyone was satisfied.  ;)

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Now we have tons of leftover turkey to move through and turkey stock simmering on the stovetop.  So this week's menu has a couple leftover recipes and some beef/lamb recipes that rarely make the list just to change things up enough from the back-to-back turkey nights.

turkey, apple, and cheddar paninis
thanksgiving enchiladas
thanksgiving loaded nachos
steak tacos
lamb kabobs

Seems like tex mex has a takeover on the menu this week, but it is just too easy to turn leftovers into non-traditional tacos!  Some kind of soup will make it on to the menu next week to utilize this yummy smelling turkey stock.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday in Columbus Ohio

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!  I'm sure you have your menu planned, ingredients in the fridge, some things prepped, and oven schedule written down.  Don't forget that even if things don't go to plan, that the day is about spending time with your family even if the turkey isn't perfect.

So even though I work for a major retailer and Black Friday is super important to our business, personally, I would rather participate in Small Business Saturday.  Black Friday is focused on deep discounts which is harder for small businesses to participate in.  There are so many benefits to shopping small!  You will likely get better service because the associates are much more vested in the store and could also be the owner or related to the owner.  You are supporting your community.  By spending your money in your town, you get to see the success in your town.  And the products you are buying were most likely made in America and were not trucked across the country, lessening the impact on the environment.  Plus, you will find unique items you can't get in a big box store!

Now that you're planning on shopping on Saturday, might as well work on that Christmas list!  There are so many gifts to buy at local stores, you can certainly find something for everyone on your list.  Here are a few places around Columbus to get you started... 

Fun for Kids and Adults
Big Fun - this store opened last years and has a great collection of nostalgic toys and games
Bink Davies - with a couple locations around Cbus, you can find a range of cute, funny gifts including things for babies, kitchen gadgets, and jewelry
Baer Wheels - bikes are on a lot of Christmas lists and my family has been going to Baer Wheels since I can remember
Celebrate Local - a collection of all things Ohio in one store at Easton
Simply Vague - if you don't find what you want at Celebrate Local, you might find it at Simply Vague at Polaris

Not everyone loves giving or receiving clothes as gifts, but if you have a fashionista on your list, then check out a couple boutiques in the Short North; Baby Bird (for the little ones), Rowe Boutique, and Ladybird

Endorphin Highs and Some R&R
The Dance Factory - buy a month pass for a gift or yourself to have fun while getting your workout in
Charles Penzone - the ultimate place for pampering in Columbus
Shadowbox Live - purchase tickets to an upcoming show for your friend that loves to laugh

Food & Drink
Cookwear Sorcerer - love this store and all the fun gadgets, perfect place to find something for the cook or baker on your list
Green Olive Company - need a host or hostess gift for a dinner party?  these specialty olive oils are a great option
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream - Columbus' most famous dessert, buy a pint for yourself while getting a cookbook, salty caramel sauce (mmm), or sampler pack for a friend
Cup O Joe - end your small business shopping spree and celebrate being done Christmas shopping with a coffee drink or rainbow mojito (if you still a few people left, they'd probably appreciate a gift card for their morning coffee)

Bridal Shower Brunch

bridal shower brunch food and games

When your friends know you cook and bake a lot, chances are likely you might find yourself hosting some parties.  Whether it be dinner parties, baby showers, birthday parties, or... bridal showers.  My little sister asked me to be her matron of honor.  Of course I immediately set up a secret pin board and started thinking about shower, bachelorette, and other wedding ideas! 

The food part comes pretty easy.  I usually stick to individual sized foods so there is no cutting or portioning out.  That definitely makes things easier to grab and is less messy.  Now some showers can get pretty corny and the games can be kind of embarrassing, so I try to think up games that are a little more unique and would have fun playing myself.  

So for my sister's shower we had a mimosa bar with several different juices and champagnes.  That way each guest could make their own combinations or just drink juice (or just drink champagne!).  The shower was at noon on a Sunday, so the food was very brunchy.  Cinnamon strussel muffins, cucumber salmon bites, fruit skewers, parfaits, mini spinach quiche, cinnamon french toast, and maple bacon.  Just the right amount of options that even the pickiest eaters will find something to eat.

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bridal shower brunch food and games DSC00132 

For the games, I usually stick to about three, but this time I ended up with four.

1. How Old Were They?  This game you take about a dozen pictures from both the bride and groom's childhood, number them, and have the guests guess who is in each photo and how old they were.  The funniest part is having the moms announce how old their kids were in the photos.  They may not get it exactly, but mom knows best, so go with her answers!

bridal shower brunch food and games bridal shower brunch food and games

2.  Who Has the Groom?  - This game is kind of like Clue and Guess Who combined.  Print out several male celebrity photos and one of the future groom.  Place each photo in an envelope and pass out the envelopes.  Everyone peeks at who they have (make sure the groom's picture has his name on it or something since there may be a few people that haven't met him yet).  Then everyone asks each other questions trying to find the groom.  It is a great ice breaker and fun to play while people are still finishing eating since everyone eats at different paces.

bridal shower brunch food and games

3.  The Almost Newlyweds Game - This is just entertaining to watch, but make it a game for the guests too.  Have them guess the couples answers to score points.  It the second round, they can score double the points by guessing the couples answers AND guessing if they will they will guess correctly!

1. Who is the better cook in the kitchen?
2. Who gets to control the TV remote?
3. Who usually gets their way with things?
4. How many kids are you hoping to have someday?
5. How many pairs of shoes does Kathleen own?
6. Who decided on the wedding song for the first dance?

The last six questions, write down what you think is their answer and also think about what your answer is!
7. If your house was on fire, what one thing would your spouse grab before leaving?
8. What is the first thing your spouse would buy if you won the lottery?
9. If your spouse was a superhero, what would be his or her super power?
10. If your spouse was an animal, what animal would s/he be?
11. Where would your spouse want to go on a dream vacation?
12. What is your spouse's dream job?

bridal shower brunch food and games bridal shower brunch food and games

4.  The Passing Game - Last, but not least, is the passing game.  You have a couple prizes that are easily passable.  Explain to the guests that you'll read a story and any time you say "right", they should pass the prize to their right, and "left" means pass to their left.  Then read the story as fast as possible and listen to everyone laugh as they start getting mixed up.  It doesn't matter the accuracy, just that everyone has fun!

<Bride's name> knew RIGHT away that she had found Mr. RIGHT and the RIGHT date was set. Now seemed to be the RIGHT time to start so she LEFT RIGHT after lunch and went RIGHT to her mother’s house. She LEFT in such a hurry that she LEFT her to do list RIGHT on the living room table. But there was no time to turn back. She knew she needed to get started RIGHT away to make sure nothing was LEFT undone.

With only <##> days until the wedding day, there seemed to be little time LEFT to spare and so much LEFT to do. She asked her mother to WRITE down a guest list because she knew mom would make sure no one was LEFT out.  <Bride's name> LEFT to find the RIGHT invitations. On her way, she LEFT a message at the florist and then RIGHT into the bridal shop she ran.

RIGHT in the window was the perfect dress. “Oh no, I LEFT my checkbook RIGHT in the car.” “Hold that dress, I’ll be RIGHT back.” With that accomplished, she called Mr. RIGHT and LEFT him a message to call her RIGHT back. She LEFT to meet the florist who had LEFT her a message that they had the RIGHT flowers for her.

Mr. RIGHT called her RIGHT back and said he LEFT a message for the preacher RIGHT down the road to call them RIGHT back and that he had just LEFT work and would be RIGHT over. She LEFT the florist and ran RIGHT over to meet Mr. RIGHT. RIGHT away they discussed what was LEFT to do. “Who will be the RIGHT best man?” She LEFT that up to Mr. RIGHT. “I’ll get the RIGHT maid of Honor.”

RIGHT away they started shopping for the RIGHT rings. With that done, the next stop was to order the RIGHT cake. Mr. RIGHT could clearly see his future Mrs. RIGHT was on the RIGHT track.
After a long day, they were both LEFT exhausted. All that was LEFT to do was get RIGHT home to see if any messages were LEFT while they were out. Sure enough, Mom had LEFT a message that the church RIGHT down the road was available so she requested it RIGHT away. Now that was not LEFT to worry about. “Lets call it a day.” “Whatever is LEFT to do, can be LEFT until tomorrow.”

So, now there is nothing LEFT to say except enjoy the rest of your day.  Just for fun though, pass once more to the LEFT.  Now see, that was fun, RIGHT?

Planning for Thanksgiving

It's time for the biggest cooking day of the year!  When experienced and novice chefs alike plan out a menu, buy tons of food, work hard in the kitchen, and serve up something delicious for their friends and family.  

Of course it is also time to give thanks, and not just for the feast and family in front of you.  Too many families are in need, especially this time of year.  And that is why Whence is partnering up with Godman Guild to provide Thanksgiving meals to families here in Columbus.  Please consider donating through the Whence app this week to help others have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!

Since we are all planning for Thanksgiving, and our Bowman Landes turkey will be delivered by Green Bean Delivery, which means I need to start planning space in my refrigerator!  So here is a list of some Thanksgiving must-have (and a few unique) recipes to have on your Thanksgiving table...

cranberry-orange glazed turkey
stuffed turkey tenderloin
turkey cheddar apple panini

crispy roast potatoes
butternut leek soup
brussel sprout gratin
stuffing muffins
butternut mac and cheese

caramel apple struesel
mini pumpkin pies
baileys brownies
apple pie chips

Here's to a fun day of cooking!

Weekly Menu

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It's time to get back into menu planning!  After a couple months of kind of crazy weeks and a long bout with a cold, there was no way to really plan more than a day or two at a time, things are finally settling down again.

Anyone else surprised by the snow this morning?  I heard it was coming, but I really didn't believe it.  Usually Columbus magically gets passed over by some of these storms.  Some of the trees in our yard still have most of their leaves... which means they are holding even more snow than they should.  Hope their branches can withstand the weight!  And I guess it was good timing that we tore down my vegetable garden on Friday.  I still had a few peppers growing from summer!  Couldn't believe it!  One of the peppers ended up on our pizzas tonight (pictured below).  

Alright, here is this week's menu... 

pizza night
creamy salmon pasta
sticky drumsticks and brussel sprouts
asian meatballs and steamed broccoli
chicken & sour cream enchiladas

What are you making?


Eating in London

It's hard to believe it has been almost two months since we were in London!  Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since then, but is finally starting to slow down... right before the holidays.  :)

While Paris was my favorite city and Switzerland had my favorite moment of our European vacation, our days in London were full of planned events we could only do in England.  It started with seeing Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors in the Globe Theatre (a rebuilt replica of the theatre Shakespeare got his start that burned down to the ground, twice).  Then two shows at London Fashion Week (Fyodor Golan and a trend catwalk show, the song Habits by Tove Lo always takes me back to this moment).  And then to a English Premiere League football match between the Tottenham Hotspurs and West Brom (although we were hoping to see ManU play in Old Trafford).  

While in London, I had to go to one of my favorite chef's restaurants... Jamie Oliver.  We actually went to two of his restaurants, Jamie's Fifteen and Jamie's Italian.  And then, of course, we had to have some fish and chips.  Outside of those three must haves for me, London is kind of a melting pot of food culture.  We went to this bakery every morning that was on our way to the closest tube stop and had croissants (couldn't get over the French lifestyle).  There were Italian, African, French, American, Indian, and Asian restaurants.  And there were TONS of old pubs.  Many around for centuries (a couple we saw had been around for over 400 years)!  But if you're looking to eat out on the weekends, you better know someone who has reserved the restaurant for the night because apparently that's a thing.  We walked around for a couple hours on Sunday trying to find a pub that didn't have a 'closed for private party' sign on the door.  

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Our first stop in London was basically as soon as we got off the train.  We went to Jamie's Fifteen for a late lunch and by the time we were done, we had the place to ourselves.  Jamie Oliver's idea for the restaurant is to take 15 "troubled" youths and train them in the culinary arts and start their careers.  Our table was close to the wood fired oven and pastry prep area so we were able to witness some of the training moments while we ate.  On the walls they had pictures of the "graduating classes" with Jamie.

I had one of the lunch menus, which is a preset 3 course lunch.  Ordering from each section (appetizer, main course, side, dessert) is technically called a la carte.  My lunch included a salad with fried egg, smoked salmon and potatoes, and cantaloupe sorbet.  I also had a Southside, which was their interpretation of a mojito.  My husband had rabbit and potatoes.

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Like I said earlier, we couldn't get out of the French way of doing breakfast.  Once we had the almond croissants in London, we couldn't help ourselves.  I started putting almond extract in my pancakes about a year ago, but those almond croissants made me think I should be putting that extract in everything.


Our first full day in London we went to Jamie's Italian for lunch.  It seemed like Jamie Oliver's fast-casual chain since there are several of them throughout England.  We ate outside since the weather was so nice (and not normal for London), but I noticed on the way out that the restaurant had a small grocery area too.  

We had some drinks and bruschetta to start our meal, which wasn't your typical bruschetta.  In fact, the only thing it had in common with the wiki definition is the toasted bread, but it was still very good with gorgonzola, prociutto, pear, and walnut.  For the main course I had gnudi, which are basically ricotta balls, or as Jamie explains it... "naked ravioli" (recipe here).  Oh, and cime di rapa as my side dish, which is cooked broccoli rabe and leafy greens.  My husband was finally able to find some lasagna after searching all over Rome for some.

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On our touristy day that we didn't have anything planned but to see all of the famous sites, Harrod's was a must on my list.  You could spend days in that department store.  And you'll most likely get lost too... but you won't mind since there is fun shopping on every level and every corner.  So I looked online for some places to eat in the area and found Richoux rated highly and had the fewest dollar signs by the name.  London is an expensive city, if you don't do your research, every meal will be over 100£ (which is about $175 USD).  We had sandwiches and afternoon tea while we rested our feet.  We also enjoyed a couple rich pastries.  All for under 35£ which felt like a steal!

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And for the mandatory fish and chips we went to the Anchor after literally running through Tate Modern and before the play started at The Globe.  We also grabbed a couple pints... my favorite, which I have to assume is an English classic, Black Velvet, which is Guinness floated on top of hard cider.  After running around to what seemed like every pub in London and seeing "closed for private party" on every door, we settled for these "salad pizzas" at Pizza Express.  And then we found another pub by our Air Bnb apartment where we enjoyed a few more pints and bagpipers playing (ironically, right after Scotland decided to continue being a part of the UK.

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All in all, London both defied and explained the stereotype that London has the "worst food in Europe".  There were so many examples of great food, but there were also the occasional duds and areas it was hard to find places to eat.  Stick to a few restaurants that are trending (and likely expensive) and fill in with some neighborhood pubs for a great range of English food.


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