1279904669_orange-cupcakeCupcakes, SugarMamas and Nene Takes The Cake

So, I recently had an article published on  Here’s an excerpt:

Everyone’s caught cupcake fever. So if you’re looking for new and fun cupcake ideas from the pros for your next delicious cupcake adventure, read on.

Big things come in small packages. Small, individually wrapped packages and topped with delicious frosting, fun shapes, and sometimes even sprinkles.  Yes, right now there is no bigger dessert craze than cupcakes.

Over the past few years they’ve gone from homeroom snack to gourmet staple, with cupcake stores appearing on every street corner, master bakers producing volumes of cupcake recipes and designs, and cupcakes have even found their own show on the Food Network, “Cupcake Wars.”

Read the rest on!

In that article, I talk about two great Kansas City cupcake places: SugarMama’s, which has a storefront in old Overland Park, and Nene Takes The Cake, which features @Ms_Nene delivering amazing cupcakes.

Even cooler, Ms_Nene is working on a project to start a mobile cupcake truck which will drive around the city, delivering sugary goodness to all who desire it.  Click on the link to donate to her Kickstarter project and get free stuff, plus your name on the truck.  (Or else!)

And in general, eat more cupcakes!

(Oh, and if you want to see one of Ms_Nene’s cupcake recipes, check out my article.)

Image duly stolen from

Laughing Cow PIzzasThere’s a new sensation in my house

Grilled Pizza

I know, we came to this one a little late since grilled pizzas are showing up everywhere, but that’s okay.  While I will never be confused as being cutting edge, I do tend to make a mean dish once I finally hop on the culinary bandwagon.

And I have jumped on this bandwagon with both feet.

Grilled Pizza – The Beginning

To begin my initiation, I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some of their regular pizza crust (regular as in note whole grain.)  My wife makes a mean pizza crust, but frankly both of us had had long weeks. Thus we made the not-terribly-difficult decision to pay the $3 and let the fine folks at Whole Foods take care of all our crust needs.  Plus,  Whole Foods pizza crust is pretty darn good.

When I got my crust home, I figured we’d want to have pizza with caramelized onions, so I got them started.  Then, I divided the pizza dough into four smaller balls, rolled them out flat, and let them rest.

But what to do about toppings?

Grilled Pizza and Laughing Cow Cheese

A long, long time ago the good folks at Laughing Cow cheese sent me a coupon for a free sample, which, of course, I accepted.  Because I am kind of a big dummy, I never actually used the darn thing, but that’s okay since my wife keeps a pretty steady supply in the house.  (Sorry for the anecdote, but for FTC purposes, I wanted to say something.  I mean I did receive free product, I just never really used it.  Silly FTC.)  Anway, she loves the stuff and puts it on toast, crackers, tomatoes, etc.  Edit: that never happened.  It was Alouette and Chavrie that sent me coupons.  They’re obviously much better for it. 🙂

I wasn’t even thinking about it at first.  As I was trying to figure out how to top my resting crusts, I settled on doing a balsamic/caramelized onion jam and goat cheese pizza.  The problem: no goat cheese!  But, as stated above, we did have Laughing Cow Swiss cheese. 

You know, sometimes it’s okay not to have all the ingredients you wanted…

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Like Loaded Fries, how about

Steak and Eggs Loaded Fries

So a couple of us from Twitter (myself, @elleskitchen, @RJFlamingo among others) decided to pool our collective talents and write about a topic near and dear (and sometimes in) our heart: loaded French fries.  Check out everyone’s posts and let us know which one you think is best.

For my part, I went with something a little out of the ordinary, not only because it was what I had in my refrigerator, but because I thought it would taste good.  In fact, this could have been my #FridgeFriday post, but that just seemed like cheating.  Anyway, here’s a very Kansas City style version of steak and eggs, using smoked brisket and BBQ sauce.

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#FridgeFriday Persian Lime Scampi

Hi everyone and welcome to my first #FridgeFriday post!

Now, I know what you’re either wondering what, exactly, is #FridgeFriday??? and/or you’re thinking “Great, he’s gone and done another another of those weird Twitter things.”  Thinkers: you are correct.  I have done another one of those crazy Twitter things.  Wonderers: allow me to explain.

My ridiculously crazily awesomely talented tweep, @sbsbea, has gotten all of us crazy food bloggers to take pictures of their refrigerators every Friday.  We are then instructed to write a post about the meal we made from the contents therein.  Since I love a challenge (and Mrs. WellDone hates wasting food), I couldn’t resist doing it.

However, my first foray did run into one little problem…Mrs. WellDone has both the camera and my iPhone, meaning that I am cameraless.  However, in the spirit of the challenge, I made a meal with only ingredients I had in my house including some frozen shrimp that needed to be eaten, some spinach that needed to be eaten, and some blueberries…that needed to be eaten.  A pic of my less than organized fridge will come later.  Promise.

All I can say is thank goodness for The Tasteful Olive‘s balsamic vinegar and Persian lime infused olive oil (of which they so tastefully gave me sample bottles) because even with less than ideal shrimp, spinach, and blueberries, I had a good meal.  (Well, the butter helped, too.)

Oh, and as near as I can tell, this meal was gluten free!  The one sticking point might be the balsamic, but that recipe is another post!

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Gluten Free Update #3: Troubles, Oh Yeah I Got Them

Okay, so at some point I figured that the wheels would come off this experiment.  Not that I’m quitting, I just realize I need to be smarter about what I eat. 

Suffice it to say, my mistakes are wholly my fault.  I should know better, but if I was really Celiac, I’d be in trouble.

Amongst my gaffes:

  1. Soy Sauce.  It’s made with wheat.  I knew it was made with wheat.  I tend to choose tamari because it has a milder flavor due to the fact it’s made with rice.  D’oh.  The bigger issue, though, is soy sauce finds its way into a lot of things I like to eat including unagi sauce on sushi and BBQ pork buns at the Asian market (of which I have had several due to their rice dough.)  Ugh. 
  2. Maltodextrin.  I’d like to get more opinions on this.  I’ve heard it can be a problem because it’s made from wheat in some countries.  Generally, though, since I am still learning about gluten free foods, I should have followed the rule if I don’t really know what it is, I probably don’t need to eat it. 
  3. The biscuits at the Bristol.  The biscuits are delicious.  Sweet, yet doughy.  And oh yeah, they’re made from gluten.  Because enjoying them is a force of habit, I totally wasn’t even thinking as I was munching away tonight at dinner.   Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My consolation is that I had to write a similiar post after becoming vegan where I realized I was chowing down on a whole lot of animal products I couldn’t see and weren’t in the dish.  Still, I feel bad… so learn from my mistakes in order for me to feel better about life.  K?  Thanks!

In all seriousness, I think part of the gluten free experience is learning what to look for in labels.  It also means thinking before I eat anything.  I’ll get better.

Anyway, enough berating myself for now.  I did want to share one quick recipe.  I realize it’s simple, but it’s so darn tasty.

This was the topping I put on my bunless burgers over the weekend.  It uses Miracle Whip (which according to is okay), but if you don’t want the dairy, swap it out for some veganaise, 1/2 of a lemon’s worth of juice, and a healthy pinch of sugar.  It also uses sriracha, which according to, is cool, too.

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Blueberry Balsamic ChickenSorry, everyone, I had intended to give updates about my month of living gluten free more often, but last week was hectic, especially with having to interview Chef Holli Ugalde, write the interview, make sure FOX was cool with it, etc.

That’s  not to say I haven’t been off the gluten free diet.  I just haven’t had the time to blog about it.  Well, here goes.

Gluten Free Update #2

Let’s see, I have Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to blog about.  On Friday, I had my first experience in dining out gluten free.  I went to 75th Street Brewery for lunch and had 7 hour roasted pork with green onion risotto and asparagus.  The pork had a date sauce on it that was amazing and used no flour (I checked.)

For dinner that night, I made a blueberry balsamic chicken (recipe follows) because I had some blueberry wine I needed to drink up.  I served it with rice noodles and peas.  The peas were good.  The rice noodles were not a perfect side.

On Saturday, we had bun-less burgers.  They consisted of a slice of tomato with 18-year balsamic from The Tasteful Olive (FTC disclosure: I got a discount on that balsamic so I could make recipes from it), a 1/4 pound patty, a slice of mozzarella cheese, some homemade sriracha mayo, and carmelized onions.  They were so good we had them for lunch on Sunday.

For dinner Saturday night, I had a chicken breast, mashed potatoes (no gravy), and creamed corn.

On Sunday, we made burgers again, and then my wife made gluten-free pizza for me.  It was good.  Texturally, it was a little different, but not too bad all things considered.  Recipe will follow, but I want to try to experiment first.

Today, for lunch I made Mexican rice casserole.  Basically, I made Mexican rice, then added sauted chicken and some frozen vegetable medly.  I didn’t want to add frozen vegetable medly, but I am trying to eat more veggies.

What I Have Learned So Far

I’m hungry more often.  I keep thinking that has something to do with the fact that the grains and fiber expand, making the eater feel full.  Since I’m not eating them, I’m not getting the benefit. I don’t know, I may totally be making that up.  Still, I know I am getting more protein and vegetables, I’ve just been hungry.

All in all, though, I don’t really miss gluten.  I kind of don’t like the fact I can’t have cookies and bread with Oregon Growers preserves, but I’m not at the craving stage.  See, because I can have corn and rice, I can eat my two favorite dishes: chips and salsa and sushi.  So really, life is good.

Note, that comment about not missing gluten should in no way diminish the plight of those who are suffering Celiac disease or any of the other illnesses which gluten irritates.  I’m just finding that as I plan meals, gluten free doesn’t feel like a vise (and so far, it’ not nearly as restrictive as being vegan.)

Of course, so far I’m only doing gluten free.  I am still eating dairy and drinking caffeine, unlike some of my friends who have been forced to give that up, too.  That may come later in the month.  We’ll see.

Anyway, here’s that recipe for gluten free blueberry balsamic chicken.

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Cajun ChickpeasLooking for something spicy, how about

Cajun Chickpea Mash

What is Cajun Chickpea Mash?  Well, quite frankly it’s one of those dishes that got created one night because I had leftovers and a hungry family.  (A hungry family that, as it just so happens, loves chickpeas.)

To make the cajun mash, I basically started off doing exactly what I would have done if this were a jambalya.  That meant starting with a trinity (carrots, onions, celery).  However, I didn’t want just another rice dish, so I added potatoes, a few dried peppers , a little tomato sauce, and finally, some chickpeas.

All in all, it turned our pretty darn good.

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Pickled Vegetables
Pickled Vegetables

Have you been to

Andy’s Wok

and had their pickled vegetables?

If you live anywhere in the Kansas City area, you have to try Andy’s Wok.  It is, hand’s down, the best Chinese restaurant in town (sorry Panda Express.)  They have amazing appetizers like onion cakes and vegetable spring rolls, which are very flavorful without the meat because of all their wonderful spices, including a hint of mustard.

My wife usally orders the sauted asparagus, while I gravitate between the Sichuan eggplant and moo shu shrimp (extra spicy.)  BWD, Jr., of course orders noodles and rice (what else) and we all come away with an outstanding meal.

But one of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about the restaurant is that before dinner, they give out little bowls of pickled vegetables.  The good news for me is that no one else at the table likes pickled vegetable (BWD, Jr. doesn’t like them because they are vegetables, and Mrs. WellDone doesn’t seem to like the pickled part.)  So I happily munch away on the somehow-still-crunchy, sweet, yet sour pickled cabbage and carrots all by myself.

And fear the day my family wises up.

Anyway, never one to let a good recipe go unrecorded, I finally broke down and asked the owner how she made the pickled vegetables.  This is what she told me.

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StrawTrophyGroupOregon Growers and Shippers Preserves and BBQ Sauce

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,
gather round and hear a tale
of one a plain cardboard box
shipped to me via the mail.

Can you see why I got a B in poetry?  

Anyway, have you heard of Oregon Growers and Shippers?  They are a direct specialty food store based in Oregon (you probably guessed that) that buys seasonal ingredients from local farmers and turns them into sauces, preserves, butters, etc.

If you hadn’t heard of them until now, it’s okay.  I hadn’t either until they offered to send me some goodies, which I felt compelled to accept.  Now, I am so glad that I know about them.  They make some truly outrageous products.

When it arrived, in my not-so-little cardboard box, I was sent six items to try (which isn’t really scratching the surface of their catalog).  They sent: pumpkin butter, marionberry preserves, pear and hazelnut preserves, strawberry pinot noir preserves, and two types of BBQ sauce: regular and mesquite.  I grabbed six spoons and got set to try them all.

I started with the BBQ sauce and found it was good.  There’s always a danger in sending someone from Kansas City BBQ sauce and to be honest, I found the regular sauce to be a little too sweet for my taste.  Maybe it was the whiskey, maybe the cane sugar, not sure, but there was a definite sweetness.  That doesn’t mean it was bad, merely not to my liking.  On the other hand, the mesquite BBQ was far less sweet with a bolder, spicier flavor that I could see smearing over some ribs or brisket.  In other words, nicely done!

Really, though, the treasure of the package I received was the preserves and I’m not  much of a spreadable fruit kind of guy.  I find most of the time, jams and jellies come into two forms.  The first is when the fruit is cooked down so much the final product has almost no taste.  The other form is fruit that has been cooked down so much the final product has almost no taste AND they dump a metric crapton of sugar into it so that all you taste is sweetness as your teeth rot off.

Guess what, Oregon Growers & Shippers Preserves have started a third category.  Their preserves were so good.  The pear preserves were nicely sweet, actually tasted like pears, and had great crunch from the hazelnuts.  The marionberries started off tart, but finished amazingly sweet like raspberries, only better.  The pumpkin butter was good with nice seasoning and probably would have been the star of many gift boxes, but it was a familiar flavor against the exciting newness of the preserves.

The strawberry pinot noir was also great, though pinot noir fans should be forewarned, the preserves didn’t deliver a big wine taste like I thought they would.  Instead, they offered a strong strawberry flavor (no complaints there) with a hint of earthiness from the red wine, but just a bit.  Quite frankly, I’ve not tasted anything else like it and I can’t stop eating it.

Normally, when I get ingredients, I try to offer recipes or suggestions on how to serve it.  My suggestion for the Oregon Growers & Shippers preserves is get some shortbreak cookies and just smear.  Even toast might overwhelm the flavor and you don’t want to do that.  If you don’t have shortbread cookies, go with a spoon and eat it straight.  They’re that good.

Anyway, obviously I liked the preserves.  The sauces were good, but the preserves were EXTRAORDINARY.  I highly recommend hopping on the Oregon Growers & Shippers site and getting your own basket of goodies.  You can try the preserves I had or experiment with Cherry Zinfadel preserves, Northwest Peach preserves, or lemon pear marmelade.  Your call.

And, as you might have guessed, I ganked the image from the Oregon Growers & Shippers site.  Thanks for letting me try your products.  I can’t wait until we get a fresh package of shortbread cookies.  I’ve got more preserves to eat.

EspinacaAfter my last Abuelo’s incident, I figured it was time for

Espinaca At Home

(Quick side note: welcome back to #MeatlessMonday.  It’s been awhile, but the drought is finally over.)

So, you may be wondering what is this espinaca that I speak of.  Alternately, you may have ordered espinaca before.  Either way, let me assure that cardboard or no, if you have not ordered the espinaca from Abuelo’s, you haven’t had espinaca as good as it can be.

See, most of the time espinaca is a white cheese dip that has been swirled with spinach, spices, and sometimes other vegetables like corn or red peppers.  As is, it’s delicious.  However, Abuelo’s took the concept and blasted it to new heights of flavor when they devised the devilishly delicious espinaca casserole which looks a little like what’s pictured above (and looks exactly like the picture in the other link, which I need not display again.)

Either way, what the good folks at Abuelo’s did was take the original cheese dip concept, add some different flavors, spices, etc.,  top it with cheese and finally bake it.  Yes, there are a few steps to make the dish, but it’s not terribly difficult to execute.

And it’s worth it.

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