Monday, March 22, 2010

My little blog is all grown up.

Well kids, it was time for me to move on to greener and larger pastures.  I haven't been posting, because I've spent the last 2 weekends moving my blog to a WordPress format, getting it hosted at my new domain, and making numerous tweaks and changes.  The Food*Sparks blog can now be found at:

So, come join me there for my trials and tribulations that revolve around food, friends, home decorating, my dog Frankie, etc.  You can follow my RSS feed now, follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at if you've got questions/suggestions.  It's all there on the site.

Oh, and I should mention that I'm now a columnist for Modern Dallas, and will be writing a regular column about 'food+design'.  The whole idea is to talk about the branding and concept that went into the design of a restaurant, the creative process behind the design, and well, a few snippets about the food, of course!

I have to thank my architect friend, Bob Borson (, who helped me so much with the technical side of wrangling all of this.  Not sure I would have made it thru without his advice and guidance - thanks Bob!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Review: The Porch, Dallas, TX

In tinkering around the city this weekend (more antique shops for cake pedestals and other things I can't live without), I found myself hungry while over in the Knox/Henderson area.

I'd just come out of a store, glanced across the street, and there was The Porch.  I'd heard a lot about this place, that is was down home comfort food w/ a laid back atmosphere.  And that it was.  I loved how their space was laid out, about 3 rows of booths, some the popular combo of 1/2 booth, 1/2 table w/ chairs, red, cushy, roomy booths.  Love that.  Their bar lined the entire back wall, and the kitchen serving window made up the majority of the adjacent wall, below a large black board of specials, simply called "The Big Black Board." 

On this day, I decided on a cocktail, because they were offering their version of an Arnold Palmer, which they called an Arnold Collins.  There is a huge trend in Dallas right now, and maybe everywhere, to offer this sweet tea flavored vodka 7 ways from Sunday.  I've found that I only like it mixed with lemonade - it's sure to become my new summer drink in a few months.  :)  The Arnold Collins was perfectly tasty.

After persusing the menu, I was conflicted between the BBQ Brisket Sliders or the Garlic Chicken and Avocado BLT.  I went for the BLT because, well, isn't everyone doing a brisket slider these days (hello Jack's Backyard)?  I chose the pasta salad as a side, after I found out it was actually orzo with feta cheese, minced purple onion, and red pepper.

When the plate arrived, I knew I had made the right choice.  First of all, just look at the crusty exterior of the bread...totally slathered in butter and grilled for a bit.  Tastebuds were watering at this point. 

At first bite, the garlic was subtle, but it was there, and not too overpowering.  The avocado schmear, combined w/ the tomatoes, provided just the right amount of moisture - not to mention the chicken was perfectly moist.  Imagine that, a chicken sandwich that wasn't dry for once!  The arugula as the lettuce was a nice touch.  But there was something about the applewood smoked was chewy, almost like jerky.  At first this threw me off, thinking maybe it was overdone, but if that were the case, it would have been crunchy.  I picked a piece off and shredded it lengthways, it was most certainly like jerky, more 'shreddy' than chewy.  I decided I liked the texture.

The pasta salad was a nice touch as well, just needed a little S&P.  Another little detail I liked, they use commercial bar mop towels as their napkins!  I'm diggin' that.  Completely unpretentious, and adds to the branding of the whole place at the same time.

Another chair.

Okay, this is becoming ridiculous, either that, or someone's trying to give me a sign.

Saw this lil' number in Century Modern in Deep Ellum on Sunday. 

It was marked $95, and I barely glanced at it and the shop owner said he'd make me a really great deal on it, and offered $50.  I'm not really in the market for a chair, I just bought this chair last weekend during a thrift store dive.

Now, like my friend Ben said: "One chair is a converstaion piece, something decorative.  But if you buy and refinish more than that, you're gonna' have to do something with them!"

lol  Well said my friend, touché, touché.

So, that got me to thinking, and I mentioned to him that I've been wanting to paint my dining room table a flat/satin black, then rough up the corners and legs a bit w/ some 1,000 grit sandpaper.  And since 4 of the 6 chairs that came with it are kinda' wonky (oh, and plain, and I'm so over them), what if I started collecting these 'farmhouse meets modern' styled chairs?  Chairs from the 40s-60s, I'd be okay with that.

Then that idea morphed into me saying to Ben, "But I had envisioned parsons style chairs for that table...something covered and skirted, but clean lines."  To which he replied, "Well, then, why don't you buy 4 chairs like you want, and use the one you bought last weekend - and go buy this one - for captains chairs?"

Again, brilliant my friend.  I think I like it!

Now I have gone from having one chair refinish project, to giving myself 3: strip, stain, and refinish 2 chairs, and paint my dining room table!  Now, I just have to go back and get that chair...I think I'll offer the guy $40 for it.  Y'all know me!  lol

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Red velvet cake for karaoke!

We went to karaoke last night, & I was asked if I'd make a cake for Dorothy's birthday. Being as how it was my birthday week as well, I was in the spirit.

Of course I doctored the mix, even adding more red food coloring. I like my red velvet cakes to be luxuriously red! :o) I layered it with cream cheese frosting, & choc cream cheese frosting for the decoration.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My antique store finds this past weekend.

So, in addition to the chair I found, I continued in my search of vintage cake plates and pedestals.

Another customer at a thrift shop suggested Lula B's on lower Greenville.  So that was my next stop, where I found this little jewel.  It's a cute 'lil wood pedestal bowl with lid, made of Myrtle wood.  Not a cake stand, but too cute to pass up!  Will look great on a bookshelf.  $15.

Turns out Lula B's also has a larger shop on Riverfront, which I had already been to a few months back, but didn't realize it was their store at that time.  I returned to see what they might have.  Ricky, one of the vendors at that location, promised to bring me a few cake pedestals if I could come back on Sunday.  So, of course I did, and he had the most unique white milk glass cake pedestal with concentric circle grooves and gold fleur de lis detailing:

I abosolutely adored it!  And I thought it was a nice price at $16.  The while milk glass serving dish next to it I scooped up at Antiques & Architecturals for $10.  Perfect to load up w/ jams and put out at breakfast, or Christmas candies.  It's just too sweet.  :)

Another friend of Ricky's mentioned that he had another cake stand in his car he'd picked up at a recent estate sale.  He ran out, and brought this jewel in, which is a cake pedestal that converts into a punch bowl.  Shut-UP! 

Of course I was loving it.  You simply flip the cake pedestal over, and the glass ball handle of the cake dome fits snuggly into the open base of the pedestal.  This was even in its original Anchor Hocking box, and had some wear/tear, but couldn't pass on it for $15!  I think it's late 70s or early 80s.

I also picked up a an old glass trifle dish at Lula B's for $16, and a large glass cake plate at White Elephant Antiques for $21.  All in all, it was a great haul!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My thrift store find today!

Today I had one of my Kerrie Does Dallas days...don't let your mind go there! These are days when I want to wander neighborhoods I haven't been to yet, or check out local dives or shops I've seen as I whiz by, but have never stopped.

I've been on my endless quest to find cake stands and pedestals that are vintage or unique. And today when I stopped by a thrift place that was a lil' junkier than the antique stores I'm usually in, I fell in love w/ this oak chair and it's possibilities. It's an old office desk chair, and I'm gonna' strip it and refurb it. It's in great shape, talked them down to $30.

Now I just have to make up my mind on the stain/color. Do I stain it the same color of the era, or go darker with an ebony stain and satin gloss? Or do I completely paint it in say hi-gloss black, white, or something punchy like orange or lime green???

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Frankie being Frankie

When I picked Frankie up from boarding, on Valentine's Day, they had given her a cute lil' bandana of V-day fabric w/ hearts and glitter.

Of course, I couldn't get her to be still for the photo b/c her bag of food she'd had while boarding was on the counter.  So, excuse the demonic nature of the photograph!

And that night I did some laundry, including my goosedown duvet.  Frankie just LOVES when I bring the warm laundry basket in, so when she saw me come back with the duvet in my arms, that was all she wrote.  She climbed right in, plopped sideways, and tucked in for the night.  I could swear she is smiling!

Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes!!!

I think there are few things in the world greater than the comfort a cupcakes gives!  It's the perfect portable, all-in-one, completely versatile problem solver!

Bad day?  Eat a cupcake!
Feelin' blue?  Eat a cupcake!
Friend had a crappy day?  Take her a cupcake (or a dozen)!


Last night I came across a cake mix I had in my pantry, and wouldn't you know I had a pudding mix too, and a block of cream cheese in the fridge.  Well, of course I had the other pantry staples like eggs, veg oil, butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa - so let's GO!

Used white cake mix and vanilla pudding for the cupcakes, and sifted cocoa w/ the powdered sugar for the choc cream cheese frosting.  Don't skimp here, use your finest quality cocoa...your tastebuds will appreciate you for it.  :)
Uhhh, no comments here about the choc frosting looking like soft serve poo...I was in a hurry and didn't use a decorating tip!  lol
Ready to go to the office!

And I reaped the rewards when I brought them to the office today (okay, twice...oh, and once last night.  Cupcakes...we're talkin' cupcakes here people - gutter minds!)
Just look at that spongey/chocolatey coodness!

"Thinkin' of you's workin' up my appetite, looking forward to a little afternoon delight.  Rubbin' sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite, and the thought of rubbin' you is getting so exciting.

Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon delight. Afternoon delight."
Cupcakes people!

Monday, February 15, 2010

PHX-Postino Wine Café

Sat: On my last day in PHX we went to my FAVE place in all of Central PHX, Postino Wine Café, known simply as 'Post'.  Postino's is a wine bar, with 2 large roll-up Overhead doors that open up one whole wall of the space!  It's an old post office (get it, post office and vino, Postino's?) that was converted, keeping the existing structure/brick, and adding on elements to beat the PHX heat like overhangs and stretched canvases to block the sun:

Postino's is nestled in an area called Arcadia, or more common among the locals, The LGO.  And that's because Postino's makes up part of the corner where the LGO's 'strip center' of restaurants and flagship grocery store are.  LGO stands for La Grande Orange, and there's an LGO Grocery, a cute lil' shop/bakery that sells fresh baked bread and sweets from local LGO'ers!

Okay, lemme' explain:

LGO Grocery gives way to LGO Pizzeria, which backs up to Grateful Spoon Gelato, who neighbors with Tammi Coe Cakes and MJ Bread (husband/wife bakers team), and they're all rounded out by Paper Joy.  CUTE-CUTE lil' strip center, if you can even call it that, b/c it's unlike any strip center you've ever seen!  And completing the LGO Hospitality Team are restaurants Chelsea's Kitchen and radioMilano across the street on the adjacent corner lot.  It's quite the little incestuous concoction of players, but it works out great!

Phew, that was a lot!  But I said it all to say this: when you go to PHX, visit 'The LGO', and for sure go to Postino's in that location (also one downtown, but LGO one is better.)  Post is known for $5 glasses of wine any day between 11am-5pm - Uh, HELLO!  And they have the best, best, BEST (read: BEST) assortment of bruchetta you've ever seen.  11 kinds to choose from, 4 kinds to a board, perfect to share amongst friends.  Oh, and get the raspberry/walnut chicken salad - to die for!  I have also eaten at LGO Pizzeria, and it's some of the best pizza I've ever had - and the orange and fennel salad is super yum!

Post uses MJ's bread for their menu, and Tammi Coe serves up her single serving treats at the LGO Grocery.  Talk about getting your stuff local, you can't get more local than the LGO backyard!  :)


Fri: So after we hung at the house all day with drinking and debauchery abounding, we met up with Kelly and Rich to eat at AZ/88 in the Old Town part of Scottsdale.  Now, I've been to AZ/88 before.  It's a very hip/trendy, yet small restaurant.  They're known for great martini's, and simple foods like their grown-up grilled cheese served with fresh fruit and waffle fries.  This time I had the chicken, goat cheese, apples, and pecan sandwich, and it was super yummy!  They always have these cute biz cards insize their menus w/ quotes - click to enlarge:

And they always have some sort of crazy art installation they're featuring.  The first time I went, there were 6 stantions with acrylic boxes that enclosed life size dog sculptures encrusted in rhinestones and crystals!  The stantions were in a circular formation around the largest table in the center of the room, and the expressions on the dogs faces, and their body alignments, suggested they were ready to attack.  It was quite crazy!  Here's a pic from that visit:
A few months back the installation was pieces of a NYC taxi cab with all the numbers of each taxi driver in NYC on the bar's back wall.  As the story goes, the owner was in a taxi accident in NYC, and this was his revenge.
This time there were manequin legs suspended from the ceiling with thigh-high stockings and garters.  I'm sorry I didn't snap a pic of that, but you can imagine - very sexy and haute.  :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

PHX-Hangin' @ the house

Fri: This morn we kept it low key w/ coffee & breakfast burritos from Accacia Cafe, brought 2 us by Mark. ;o) We're goin' out to AZ/88 w/ Kelly later so we wanted to store up our reserves.

But David got busy on a Bon Appetit recipe, Ham, Artichoke, Potato Gratin. While that's cooling, we're partaking of libations!

PHX-St. Francis

Thurs: We had a late dinner @ the new St. Francis restaurant. It was a really neat concept, a restaurant built around a wood fire oven, mostly constructed of raw materials like sheet metal & rough timber, contrasted by large, sleek removable glass windows & a roll-up see-thru Overhead door that let the outside in.  The building used to be an old bank, and therefore they repurposed the exposed brick of the walls, and hung things like old butcher knives and stacked clay serving pots on top of the brick oven.  Very rustic, yet streamlined at the same time.

Sorry I don't have pics of the food, my BBerry was on the charger back @ the house. Mark snapped a pic of me w/ the cute menu. I had the ahi tuna sandwich w/ garlic aioli & avocado, Mark the roasted chicken, & David the green chile pork stew w/ cornbread. But what stole the show was the creamy corn polenta I ordered at the last minute. So creamy & mellow...I will be copying it soon!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Thurs: Spent the afternoon @ FEZ, our fave spot 4 martinis & harissa spiced french fries-the inspiration for my harissa roasted potatoes a few posts down. :o)

Cherry bomb & pomagranate martini's...mmm!

PHX-Bertha's Cafe

Thurs: In PHX visiting the boys. I got in late last night, narrowly avoiding the 6 inches of snow Dallas is getting today!!!

We went to Bertha's Cafe for lunch & I had the salami/pesto/goat cheese sandwich w/ arugula & sun dried tomatoes on yummy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Watch out boys, there's a new gal in town! And she's loaded down w/ some new playlists w/ some mighty fine songs. And she's bringin her boys 5gigs of that music on her handy-dandy thumb drive when she saddles up for PHX tomorrow! Yippe-ki-yi-yay!

Translation: finally got all my music in one place (moved stuff from work PC to my Mac @ home), organized, and loaded onto the new Nano I got for Christmas! It was a 2 day affair, but it's done. When I get back, it's all about hooking up the 500G FreeAgent portable hard drive I got on sale this past weekend for $150!

I'm gettin' serious y' music collection is my life! I'm up to 23G' I just have to import those 1,000 CDs in tubs in my spare closet.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

I was tardy for the party...

...b/c I was finishing up the cup cakes! I was on cupcake duty again...and I love it!

We had a group get-together tonight b/c there are so many of us w/ Feb b-days. I was asked by Kanita for something strawberry. So I did strawberry banana w/ strawberry jam on the inside & cream cheese frosting.

And since it's so close to Valentine's, I made everything pink, including baking candy heart confetti into the base of each cupcake & dipping the tops of them in choc Jimmies & sugar crystals...see below.

PW's shrimp pasta.

Okay, this is another recipe from Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, and I'm mobile blogging, so I will have to give the link later. But trust me, it was so good!

It's basically shrimp, red sauce of crushed tomatoes & sauteed onions, finished off w/ a bit of cream & poured over linguine. So simple, so easy, & easy to adapt to a healthy version by swapping FF cream or half and half.

Recipe here - I used linguinne, b/c it's what I had.  PW uses penne.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

All in a day's work.

You know, I don't usually mix biz w/ pleasure & choose not to talk much about work on here or my Facebook. But a lot of people, including some of my friends, are always asking, "What is it you do again?"

Being a Communications Coordinator can mean a lot things, & things I do in my every day pretty much run the whole gamut. But I usually sum it up by saying I handle all the print & e-media.

Well, the print side of things, specifically a magazine we produce in-house that I'm art director over, is what encompasses @ least 50% of my time. And I guess I'd have 2 say it's my baby. I took it under my wing when I first came on 7 years ago, when it was just a lil' newsletter pup of about 20 pages, & only a 2-color format! I even sold the advertising for it for 5 years. And over the years we've massaged it into a 60-page full color magazine that's published by an outside company I work very closely with. I have an amazing editorial team & publications committee that make the content so great!

So today when we sat down for a mtg & I had tagged the current issue to the wall, I thought it would be a great image to share...b/c what's on the wall is 1/2 of what I do! Oh & the 2nd image is our fall '09 issue up against DMag's...both covered the new Dallas Arts District. Of course I thought ours was better...but I'm partial to my baby. :o)

Yep it was pizza again.

And it was still yummy! Again, the dough was from Jimmy's. I made my own sauce by sauteing 1 diced onion w/ 1 can Marzano Italian plum tomatoes that I mashed up in the pan. I let this reduce down 4 about 45 mins w/ a few teaspoons of kosher salt & sugar.
I made margherita again this time & another version w/ chicken sausage. I always use fresh mozzarella in the cherry tomato size, cut in half, & lots of fresh basil. I brush the crust w/ evoo & bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly brown & all the cheese has melted. Watch it as it's usually under 10 mins. Remember, fresh takes less time.

Yes again...

Something yummy is in the making here...I can't get enuff of it! Finished pics 2 come. :o)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Perfect roasted potatoes

So I finally found a tip online about how to get really good, and crusty, roasted potatoes.  After you've cut up your potatoes and par boiled them for 5 minutes (and 5 minutes're not cooking them fully, just getting them started), drain them and return them back to the pot.  Then, SHAKE-SHAKE-SHAKE the potatoes vigorously in the pot until they start to "fuzz" - meaning their edges start to get rubbed down and the wonderful flaky starchy-ness coats the poatoes.  Like this:

It is this lovely coating that will that will become the crusty exterior when you bake them.  I then tossed mine in a generous coating of EVOO, and harrisa spice:
If you don't have some of this, get ya' some.  It's fantastic - but not for the weak at heart, it is spicy.  It's basically Hungarian paprika, cayenne pepper, and a few other things.  It's so yummy!  I get mine at the Dallas Farmer's Market from the spice lady at Kurry King - love them! 

Mmmm, yumminess waiting to be baked up!  I've tossed in a few cloves of crushed garlic here as well for some flavor:

Then I bake them at at 375 for about an hour.  I check them 3-4 times, flipping them so each edge gets a crusty coating.  And baby, these are SO crispy pillows of spicy goodness!  :)  The par boiling technique beforehand ensures the potatoes won't dry out during baking, in addition to slightly breaking down the edges of the potato so you can create that crust coating in the end result.  Try some!  :)