Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dog Watchin' and Snooze Eatin' :)

One more week left of this great adventure I've been on. It seems like it has been a long time since I've been home...but sometimes it feels like the time has flown by. Hopefully this week will allow me to go out "with a bang!" It will be hard saying good-bye to these awesome people. I've decided that Coloradans might be the most friendly people west of Iowa ;)

This beautiful pooch is Sadie--I am dog-sitting this last week for an awesome couple I met at work. I think she's a corgie(? spelling)...not really sure. One day I will be better with knowing dog breeds!

Sadie is very well-mannered and practically drug me on our walk this morning! It is fun thus far!

Also...I'm not ashamed to say that I have an addiction--to Snooze A.M. Eatery! Let me just start by saying I didn't mean to begin this habit...but I fell into the routine of eating at Snooze and then going on a walk the past few weekends. I'm not letting myself feel bad though...because I THOROUGHLY enjoy it! It's research, right? hehehe

Iced Chai Tea...SUPER good! Not too sweet--and "cinnamoned" ice cubes to boot :)

Don't be alarmed! Yes, those pancakes are blue! These are the Blue Mesa Pancakes: blue corn and buttermilk pancakes studded with sweet corn and topped with a pinion (pine nut) butter and green chile maple syrup. This may sound weird...but I was drawn to it. I was so happy to find out they were delicious! They kind of had a cornbread flavor. No...I couldn't finish them in one sitting, which is saying something ;)

I will leave you with my breakfast from last Sunday: Vanilla Almond Oatmeal Brulee--WOWZA! This was exceptional and served with a little pot of cream. Again, Snooze does a great job with embellishing food without making it too sweet--which I appreciate.

Don't judge me...if you were here you'd get sucked into the trap too! Enjoy the rest of your weekends and have a pleasant week to follow.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Denver Food Trucks

It was a hot day in Denver, but my co-workers and I decided to brave the heat and explore the Denver Food Trucks for lunch today. Civic Center Park in downtown Denver is where they are located.

Every Tuesday and Thursday during the summer through September food trucks (and vans!) set up for an on-going event called Civic Center Eats. There were many people in business attire that stopped during their lunch break.

We went around and looked at ALL of the food before we made our decision on what to eat. There was BBQ, hot dogs, tamales, Argentinian fare, Mexican chile bowls, slow-cooker meals, biscuit bowls, pizza and ice cream.

With it being so hot...I settled on a roasted turkey sandwich with romaine, chipolte mayo and cranberry salsa. I found it at the Street Eats venue (pictured above). The sandwich did not disappoint as it was FULL of flavor!

 My supervisor got chimichurri fries from the truck above...she also got avocado and cheese arepas. Someone got a beef arepa. I think I'm spelling this dish is basically a corn-based, dense pocket of dough that is toasted up like a panini and filled with various fillings. They looked good!
 Finally, our last person ate at the "Crock Spot." She got a bowl of couscous with slow-cooked shredded beef mixture that was prepared in a crock pot.
Above is the truck where they got the arepas :)

This was so much fun to experience! It will have to take the place of the Iowa State Fair for me this year!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Winter Park, Colorado

Greetings again family and friends! This weekend I went on an adventure with one of my co-workers. She wants to have her wedding ceremony near Winter Park, CO and wanted to check out some locations this past weekend. She asked me to go along...and I was very willing!

I knew I wanted to go back to see this area as it's been awhile since 5th grade when I saw it last :) It was just as I left it! Minus the bad beetle rot that has gotten ahold of several trees around the area-it's such a shame!

 We ate Mexican for lunch...I love fish tacos! I get them at practically every Mexican restaurant. These were delicious!
 Here we are at one of the locations...I really liked this one! It was nice and secluded.
 Along with it being the weekend for the music festival (Brett Michaels was playing), it was also "Minis in the Mountains!" Here is a fleet of Mini Coopers we saw...there were fifty in a row! That was pretty cool...I already knew I wanted one :)
This is a blurry picture of Berthoud Pass...there were better ones but this one will have to do for now. It was a fun trip!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I had a great experience getting to test some more recipes this week! Getting to learn that process and see how each dish transforms is so much fun :) Also, the testers are really fun ladies...we have a lot of giggles!

My favorite recipe of the day is the one had so many steps and blue cheese, which I'm normally not crazy about. First there's the caramelized red onions, then the Blue Cheese/chive butter, then the pan broiled flat iron steak, and finally...I sauteed the buns in oil on the stove to add extra love. The umami was flowing! All of those flavors really went well together.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snooze A.M. FAVORITE restaurant in Denver!

When I asked around to see what places I should be eating at, everyone mentioned Snooze. It is a downtown Denver-based restaurant that has made its way to multiple locations around the area. It opens at 7 AM on weekends (week days it's 6 AM I believe) and closes by 2:30 PM. To me...I view that as a genius business idea. The popularity of this place is amazing; it's not out of the ordinary to have to wait 2 hrs on the weekends for bigger groups.

I was sure to take my family here when they visited. It is extremely lucky that there is a Snooze location at Southglenn Shopping Center. After I fell in love after the initial visit...I had to take Anna!

It all started with Vanilla Lattes served in honey jar-looking mugs. I couldn't resist and bought a mug on this visit :)

 This time...I ordered the Breakfast Pot Pie. Dad had gotten this when he came. I knew I should get it because he hasn't steered me wrong yet :) It was very, very tasty. The sausage gravy had some rosemary in it and the hashbrowns are wonderful!
Anna got the Peaches and Cream French Toast! There was a mascarpone cheese was great, not too sweet.

I have thoroughly enjoyed her company, what a blessing it has been!

Friday, July 29, 2011

IKEA...Swedish Meatball Combo Meal :)

We ventured out to the new IKEA for lunch...which was pretty brave for it being the third day open! Traffic is still being directed on the roads by police and the amount of people inside of that place is insane! I work with very ambitious people we trudged up the road and had the advantage of WALKING to IKEA.

One of my co-workers is from Illinois and told us about the Swedish our plan was to order the meal just to say we've had them. Once we got through the huge line our meatballs were the reward :) I will give the workers credit, the line moved fast for how many people were in it.

We all got the Swedish Meatball Combo, but I was the only one who got the lingonberry sauce and all! It was only $5.33 with tax and included: Swedish meat balls, mashed potatoes, gravy, lingonberry sauce, side salad, and a fountain drink. I may have to go back...I was a very satisfied customer. The Swedish meatballs were WAY better than I expected.

I actually left my hair down today...Mel this pic is for you (we are having a friendly hair-growing competition for her wedding). What do you think, is it a tie? :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boulder, CO & this week!

Last weekend I took a BIG step and drove on I-25 around Denver. The reason for me doing so, was an invitation to come to see a friend who is staying in Louisville. She commutes to Denver daily for an internship. This is the same girl whom I went to the Museum of Art with.

Those who know me, know that I like to put boundaries up for myself and stay in a safe is safe to say I burst that bubble! Driving in five lanes was good for me, I am however holding off on driving in that until the drive home... in which I will be headed the other direction.

Traveling to Boulder was great fun though! It was our first experience of hiking in the mountains. These were called the Flat Irons (no, not the beef cut-ha) and part of the Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark. We hiked a ways and then took an "air conditioning break" at Starbucks :) Later we drove up the mountain range towards what people were calling Flagstaff (look-out maybe?); the views were breath taking.

We found some lunch on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder at the aptly-named Boulder Cafe. It was delicious--I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with melted fontina cheese, served with chipolte-rhubarb BBQ sauce. That sauce I will most likely try to replicate!

 Anna was so great and kept pushing me to climb higher! We just kept going...and met some people from Texas who were in the same boat of being "first-timers."

I also wanted to mention an experience that was pretty exciting for me this week. My boss had asked me to be apart of recipe ideation involving a popular Midwestern food chain. I was delighted to be able to go through the process of creating new menu ideas...we shall see if any of them come to be.

So, on Monday we flew into Omaha, NE and drove to Des Moines, Iowa to get ready for our meeting on Tuesday. I got to see my parents and eat at the Machine Shed (what a treat!). Tuesday went well...and then we headed back west. It was literally a flying trip, so I'm sorry I didn't get to see more of my Iowa folk. Soon I will catch up with as many people possible!

Tomorrow I give my internship presentation to the, has the time gone quickly! A few more weeks and I will be headed back home. My co-workers want to celebrate by eating lunch at the new IKEA food court=Swedish Meatballs :) I'm going to miss my new friends...they are quite the characters!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Klug Studio Photo Shoot!

Wednesday and Thursday were spent in downtown Denver at a Professional Food Photographer's studio!!!! I had such a great experience getting to see the recipes I helped write, test and develop being put under awesome lighting. It was a four-person team: Food Photographer, Food Photographer's Assistant, Food Stylist and Food Stylist's Assistant. Watching them work was entertaining :)

There were so many different "gadgets" found in a huge tool box to help the food along. Browning pigments, tweezers, cake pedestals, and more were used to enhance the look of the meat as well as put the plates together. Every so often they would ask for our input on how the dishes should look or how the beef should be portrayed.

There was a stand-in plate to get the placement correct on the lense and then there was the "hero" plate. This is a picture of them staging the Beef Tikka Masala.

Another job of the crew was to keep me and my co-worker fed and comfortable--in which they did with flying colors! They made us breakfast, stocked the fridge with beverages and ordered us in lunch.

The second day we ordered food from H Burger, a restaurant that serves gourmet burgers and nitrogen ice cream shakes!!!! I knew I always wanted to try buffalo...and they had a buffalo burger on the menu. Everyone urged me to order it...and two others ordered the same thing! This picture displays me being scared of what my Dad would think of me eating a buffalo burger (haha)!

The photo below is taken from H Burger's website: This is a picture of what the burger looks like up close...buffalo burger, jalapeno jack cheese, green onion, BBQ sauce, and onion rings. It was tasty, but I most definitely will stick to beef from now on (quite gamy). Dessert was the bomb though: nutella toasted marshmallow milkshake (nitrogen ice cream-style). It was fun!

As you will find out from me, I am adventurous with my education as well as food...but everything else I am a little hesitant about :)

What a great experience to get to speak to professionals who have clients such as: Kellogg's, Werther's, Silk and Domino's Pizza to name a few! Fun times!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family Visit

Hello all! I know it's been a while since I've blogged...but I've been having fun :)

My family came last weekend and we had a blast! The best part was seeing each other. We explored around Centennial and made our way to Colorado Springs for a day.

We decided we would "kill two birds with one stone" and horseback ride through the Garden of the Gods. It was a beautiful 97 degree day and we spent it on horses for over two hours! My horse was named Easy...far from the truth! Basically I freaked out at all the eating it was doing and holding up all the other riders. Hattie nearly got bucked off when a horse fly was pestering her horse King. Maemie's horse DeeDee was very well behaved. Let me tell you it didn't seem like a beginner's ride as we were taken up and down steep inclines and drop-offs. We survived anyway :)

I wanted them to have the experience of eating a tri tip Hattie and I grilled it and served buttered red potatoes and fruit to go with it. Later we enjoyed mini cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery. They were aired on the Food Network and are delicious! We chose to sample chocolate-chocolate chip, red velvet, and white chocolate raspberry.

The five-ish days that they were here went way too fast, but I was glad to show them around to my favorite places! They also met some of my co-workers and saw my cube.

We had fun!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

French Pastry Lesson!

Let's just start this post with...I LOVE PASTRIES! My love for French pastries in particular started when I went to the Des Moines Farmer's Market with my friends. There is a pastry stand from Le Mie Bakery (business found in Des Moines) that has the best pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants). Of course Hattie chose that one to purchase and I chose a blueberry pastry the first time. When we went back I was sure to get the chocolate one. Hattie struck GOLD! Chocolate croissants are now my favorite :)

A couple weeks ago the Pastry Chef for NCBA/Beef Checkoff noticed my continued interest in what she does (make amazing desserts). She asked me, "Cassie, if there was one thing you would like me to teach you to do before you left...what would it be?!" I of course answered that I wanted a pain au chocolat lesson! That turned into us preparing various pastries for the morning meeting today! Later we hope to experiment with making beef fillings for these babies!

This process is a labor of love and the end result is well worth it. She wanted to show me how to make regular croissants and brioche-style croissants. Brioche incorporates eggs and more milk into the dough. It results in a more dense, bread-like texture whereas the other dough yields an airy and flaky texture. I prefer the regular croissants :)

 After we made the doughs and punched them down we were ready to go. Rolling out the first layer. There is a total of 3 folds involved with 30 minutes of chilling in between. This ensures that the butter stays good and cold and doesn't melt into the dough. The more the butter stays in tact...the flakier the result!

Adding the butter; it needs to be spreadable, but still cold. The key is to not warm it up too much with your hands. It's best to be quick with this! I rolled out the brioche "rich" dough while my buddy the Pastry Chef rolled out the croissants. She is a master :)

 Making the first fold; the technique is called a trifold. After you make the initial fold, you roll the butter in and fold it again. This starts the count of the three folds; we folded two more times after this. Kinda confusing...but you get the hang of it!

 Ready to be wrapped in Saran wrap and chilled! We labelled the dough with when we needed to take it out to make another fold and roll; also we put what type of dough it was.

After cutting off a piece of chilled dough, you roll it out and make shapes...and fill those shapes with various things. We made these fillings: blueberry-lemon, strawberry-lime, cream cheese, and CHOCOLATE! Also we made traditional croissants and mini cinnamon rolls!

Brushing all of the fruit-filled and cream cheese ones with an apricot jelly glaze...the chocolate ones got a drizzle and a light sprinkling of powdered sugar! I enjoyed a sampling of the different kinds...but my favorites were the cream cheese done with the brioche dough and the chocolate done with the traditional dough.

 Can you tell which one is the brioche dough? It is the one on the right!
All-in-all it was my dream come true! I will never forget this experience. I enjoyed every minute...and need to keep practicing! I'm sure I could find some people to sample my work :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pork Chops with Cherry BBQ Sauce

Mom asked where the meat was in my last here it is :)

I participated in a pork competition at DMACC (Ankeny, IA) last semester which was a blast! It's a great feeling to collaborate with friends to make a killer dish. I was in a group with some adventurous palettes and creative ideas. We came up with a pork chop injected with apple cider and chai tea concentrate. Then we created a compote of dried cherries, green peppers, apples, apple butter and sage.

Needless to say I have been craving that dish ever since we made it last! So I made my own version...except with a cherry bbq sauce! Cherries were simmered in chai tea concentrate and ground sage along with some apples and green pepper. Pumpkin pie spice and onion powder were added at this point. After that reduced, I added a few tablespoons of hickory BBQ sauce. The pork chops were seasoned with salt and poultry seasoning and pan sauteed. I brought my spices with me to Colorado!

I work for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association...but I still enjoy pork!

My heart goes out to the farmland and people of Marshall and Grundy County Iowa. It makes me sick to think of what the area must look like right now. Someone posted a picture of a grain bin in Green Mountain and it made me sad. Hopefully things will turn around, I know it is hard to be optimistic at this point.

Until next time...cook something nice and your spirits are bound to turn around!