Welcome to my food blog! I am your average home cook and I want to share my love of food with the world. I'll divulge my recipes as often as possible. Feel free to comment or to email me at nodessertpodcast@gmail.com! Don' forget to come by often for new posts... I love having you visit me!

January 16, 2013

Restaurant Review 13 - Chili's Grill & Bar

I like to get out there and explore independent restaurants, but sometimes the chains can be comforting and predictable, and offer you a good meal for a fair price.  I was thinking of this when my companion and I went to eat a late lunch on Sunday afternoon.  We decided on one restaurant but then saw Chili's Grill & Bar and decided we'd rather eat there.
For those of you have not been to Chili's or don't have one in your are, Chili's is a bar/grill which originally started as a place that would feature different types of hamburgers.  In today's time, while they still have burger options, they are more of American food establishment that has certain Tex-Mex influences.
Chili's serves burgers, salads, soups, pastas, chicken dishes, nachos, tacos, fajitas, and quesadillas among other dishes.  They have a wide range of appetizers and feature many special drinks, as well as the classics because they have a full bar.  It is a casual dining restaurant, and features a good Happy Hour.
Right now Chili's has been offering a 2 for $20 deal, that includes an appetizer (select appetizers only, make sure you check the special section on the menu) to share and then each person receives their own entree (also out of a select list).  While $10 is not a bad price for an individual meal, to add an appetizer in to share makes this a worthy deal.
We chose to sit in the bar area on our visit.  The bar area has multiple TV's in which they were playing football (perfect for my date), and you don't have to wait to be seated, if there is a table available you just sit down.  Also in the bar area all day on Sunday's you get free chips and salsa so we ordered some to munch on before we received our meals.  I love Chili's tortilla chips, they are my ideal tortilla chip.  They are super thin and super crispy and are absolute heaven when they are still warm and freshly salted.  Their salsa is very good, perhaps a tad more spicy than I prefer, but with a great flavor, and seems very fresh, which I like in a salsa.
On our visit we did go with the 2 for $20 deal and decided on the Crispy Onion & Jalapeno Stack (forgot the picutre!) as our shared appetizer.  They are thinly sliced onions which are battered and fried, and fresh jalapenos that are also batter and fried served with ranch dressing.  The onions were perfectly crispy and the batter had a nice spice blend.  The jalapenos were sometimes spicy and sometimes not (you kind of roll the dice with fresh jalapenos!), and both the onions and jalapenos tasted good dipped in the ranch.
For my companion's entree he ordered the Bacon Ranch Quesadillas, which come with with two quesadillas (quartered, so there's a total of 8 pieces), sour cream, pico de gallo, and lettuce.    I chose the fajitas for my entree and although the menu only says chicken and specifies no substitutions all three Chili's I have ordered this at have changed mine to the beef fajitas for $1 more.  Well worth it for me.  The meat comes in a cast iron pan with green peppers and onions, still sizzling.  You also get three small flour tortillas, and a side plate containing pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese, lettuce (which I asked to be omitted), and upon request, guacamole.  I always get the guacamole (and I didn't see an extra charge for it). 
It was a delicious and filling late lunch.  And very reasonably priced.  Because we sat in the bar area we didn't have a wait, and absolutely enjoyed our meal.  If you would like more information about Chili's Bar & Grill please visit them at Chili's Website.

January 11, 2013

Special Post #4 - Game Night

My friends and or family have been instituting game nights lately.  I love playing board and card games so I am all about this recent trend within my loved ones.  Number one, it's a cheap way to get together and have some fun, especially in this current economy.  Number two, it satisfies part of my competitive nature.  And number three, it gives me the chance to spend time with people I enjoy the most.  We play all sorts of games including card games, Catchphrase, Cranium, Scattegories, Apples to Apples, Battle of the Sexes, Dirty Minds, and are looking to forward to trying new ones.
Another part of these get togethers is the food and beverages.  We vary what we eat from simple snacks like chips and cookies, to elaborate holiday meals, to nice home cooked meals.
The last game night we went to we had quite a spread!  Our friend's Mom made all sorts of delicious dishes for us to enjoy in a sit-down dinner, and we also got to snack on veggies, chips, fudge, and cookies.
The dinner included a delicious salad with lettuce, chickpeas, radishes, cheese and other goodies I chose to eat mine with a homemade Italian dressing that was super yummy), peas, corn, cheesy potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers seasoned with herbs and garlic, breaded baked chicken tenders, and a delicious steak dish that was cube steak that was breaded and grilled (this was prepared a way I hadn't seen before and I really enjoyed it) and served with a bruschetta type tomato sauce.
It is such a treat to have a homemade meal, especially a delicious one!  There was obviously a lot of work that went in to preparing the meal for us, and I know we all enjoyed and appreciated it. I wanted to share the pictures with my readers in this special post, because this is another aspect of food I enjoy, other people's home cooking!
Full spread (a little blurry!)

Cheesy potatoes (and corn)

Tomato and Cucumber dish

Delicious salad!

Breaded and Grilled Cube Steak (tomato sauce in background)

Baked chicken tenders

January 4, 2013

NRFD 2012 In Review

As promised, I am writing my post today about the most popular items on No Room For Dessert.  2012 was a year filled with restaurants, both good and bad.  I was also able to bring you some brand new recipes of items I had never made before, as wells as what have been classics in my life, such as Mom's Mac N Cheese.  I also want to note during this post some of the interesting things I have learned while working on this food blog.
First, we hit over 7000 views of this blog towards the end of 2012.  That excites me and I hope we can double that in 2013.  I learned that many of my friends are closet foodies, and have told me that they read my posts (with some people reading some, and some people being avid readers!), and that makes me feel so good, especially when they want to try something I have written about.  My whole point in creating this blog was to share my love of everything food, and I'm glad to see that's what's happening. 
Second, I have learned that in addition to my US readers, I have the most views from readers in Russia, Germany, the UK, and France.  I have even had people in Latvia peruse it!  I think it's cool that NRFD is worldwide.  I was a little surprised I didn't have more Canadian readers since they're so close to the US, but I did have a few.
I get the most traffic from people Googling a search phrase, but people who have seen my Facebook posts come in second, and people on Pinterest make up a large portion of my readers as well.  I was surprised I didn't have more Twitter traffic, since I have the most "friends" there.
As far as posts go, the top 5 most popular in 2012 were as follows:
1. A lot of people were interested in my Kobe-style Dinner, which I actually posted in 2011.
2. Apparently there is a big following for Authentic Mexican Enchilada Sauce, judging my the number of views this post got.  This post was originally written in 2011 as well.
3. Another 2011 favorite that carried over to be my third most poular post in 2012 was my recipe for Tuna Kobachi.
4. Crab Rangoon was another one of my recipes which was originally posted in 2011 that was still popular in 2012.
5. My fifth most popular post in 2012 was actually written in 2012 and that was the recipe for my Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breasts.
This tells me a couple of things.  One, I need to write more Asian-themed posts since three out of the five had to do with variations on Asian cuisine.  Two, people love anything bacon wrapped.  And three, homemade authentic enchilada sauce is something people are really interested in, and I'm going to see if I can make different variations of enchilada sauce in 2013 to keep up with reader demands.
I got the great opportunity in 2012 to visit and write about Panera Bread and I hope I get more Tastemaker offers in 2013.
My top three articles about food trucks in 2012 included my post for the Silver Bistro, Winter Park Food Truck Stop, and the Gastro Truck.  I visited all of these trucks/places in 2011, and wrote about them in the same year.  I did not get to visit as many food trucks as I would have liked in 2012, and am going to try to do better in 2013, especially since there are SO many of them out there now!
As far as my favorite recipes in 2012, I wanted to give you two.  One is inspired by another food blogger, and one is a recipe I saw on TV, while watching one of my favorite programs, The Chew.
My recipe from The Chew is not one that and Iron or Top chef came up with.  It was Clinton Kelly's recipe for Pan Fried Chicken with Brown Butter Caper Sauce.  A new recipe for chicken is ALWAYS something I am looking for, and I just adore lemons and capers.  It is fairly simple to make, especially if you set up all your ingredients ahead of time, and is absolutely delicious.  I think I'll be making it frequently in 2013.
My recipe from a fellow food blogger was the recipe for Goat Cheese & Red Pepper Fettucine.  I love pasta, I love being inspired from fellow foodies, and I love simple recipes that taste great.  Goat cheese is by far one of my favorite cheeses, and I like to try to incorporate ingredients like roasted red peppers in new ways.  I look forward to seeing what other kinds of recipes pop up in 2013 from other food bloggers, and I hope I'll find some new favorites to make in my own home.
I have lots of great ideas for new recipes to make this year.  I am looking forward also to trying new kitchen equipment, I want to bring my readers many more special posts, I plan to visit new restaurants and food trucks, and I will be doing a lot of research/reading/TV viewing that all has to do with food this year.  Most importantly, I hope to keep my blog readers interested by bringing you many new recipes and ideas about places to visit.
I hope everyone has wonderful year, and thank you so much for visiting my site!  Please keep coming back :-)

January 2, 2013

Savory Cheese Pies - Home Cooked Recipe 36

Happy New Year Everyone!  I hope all my readers had a wonderful holiday season, and wish you all a Happy 2013 filled with love, happiness, prosperity, and good food!
Today I am going to be giving you a recipe that I made with one of my Christmas gifts.  And then on Friday I am going to be doing a special post noting the most popular recipes on this bog in 2012.  So make sure you come back later this week to read that.
I mentioned in my last post that for Christmas I received a gift called My Lil' Pie Maker.  It is a kit that has a silicone baking tray that holds 4 mini pies, 4 silicone disks to put in the bottom of each cup to vent the bottom of the pies, two cutters (one that cuts dough to form the base of your pies, and one that is dual-sided and allows you to cut a plain dough top or turn it over to cut a decorative dough top), and a instruction/recipe book.
I thumbed through the recipe book and saw a recipe for cheese pies that looked absolutely delicious.  I decided that would be my first cooking experience with my new kitchen equipment!
What prompted this gift in the first place was that I was browsing through the stores just after Thanksgiving and saw a Bella Personal Pie Maker.  For $15, it was it's own device that you could bake mini pies right inside without having to use the oven.  How convenient!  Especially for someone like me who is not an expert baker.  I did some research and saw a YouTube video and it looked like something I could enjoy in my kitchen.  I also saw that Keebler makes one as well, and that retails for around $20.  So I had mentioned to some friends and my boyfriend how enthralled I was with this device, and for Christmas, my boyfriend went shopping, saw in Target they had the My Lil' Pie Maker, and here we are!  Unlike the Bella and Keebler models, this is not self-contained, and you still have to use your oven.  But it was along the exact same vein of what I wanted, and after using it, I am hooked!
The kit is easy to use, and did exactly what the package said it would (which is not always true with the "As Seen On TV" products).  My pies easily came out of the dish, clean-up was a breeze, and the pies themselves were perfect!
These cheese pies in particular were EXTREMELY easy to make, and would definitely make a great brunch item, a nice lunch if paired with a salad or soup, and were the perfect side to our dinner that I made them for.  We both agreed the recipe was good, and I was impressed that the pies came out perfectly.
I don't normally endorse specific product brands on this site, but I'm telling you, this is a good one.  You can make sweet or savory pies, and I think you might be seeing a lot of mini pie recipes from me in 2013!  I'm excited to make some sweet versions, some quiches, and some pot pies with my new equipment.  And of course we will be having these cheese pies again!
Here is the recipe, I am doing it as the mini pie version, but I am positive you could adapt the filling to make a regular pie.  So don't be afraid to try it (and email me if you have any questions about making a full-sized version at
nodessertpodcast@gmail.com, I'll be happy to help!)
Savory Mini Cheese Pies
***recipe slightly altered from My Lil' Pie Maker actual recipe***

1 9in refrigerated pie dough round (or make your own dough)
6oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan (use fresh or the cannister kind, both work)
Fresh ground black pepper (I like a lot, I used a tablespoon, but adjust it to your taste)
1 tsp onion powder

Preheat oven to 350.  Place silicone baking tray on a cookie sheet.  Place vent discs into each cup.
Using cutter that comes with kit, cut out 4 bottom rounds (you can get 3 from the dough round by itself, then reroll the dough and cut your fourth, there should be more than enough dough for this) and press into cups in baking tray. 
Make filling.  Combine all cheeses with pepper and onion powder in a bowl.  Mix well.  Spoon filling into each cup (I went all the way to the top of each cup with no problem).

If desired, make crusts for top of pies using leftover dough from round.  Use the top cutter, decorative side or non decorative side.  I did two with decorative top crusts and two without top crusts.  I did not put a whole top crust on any, but if you do, cut slits in top to vent steam.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Let cool before removing from tray, at least 10 minutes.