[12.5.14] Ending With a Bang!

mi love

It’s the end of the semester, which means this is my final blog post. I had a really fun time writing about different food places around Metro Detroit, and if I have the free time in the future I may continue this blog (but on a much less strict schedule.)

I decided that my final blog would be about the different foods that Michigan is known for. After all, that’s what this blog was dedicated about! So, I’m going to give the run down of some well known Michigan delicacies. Prepare yourself!

BREAKFAST CEREAL

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My breakfast practically ever morning.

Kellogg’s Cereal was a mistake. A delicious mistake! In 1898, W,K, Kellogg and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg were attempting to make granola when they accidentally flaked wheat berry. They continued to experiment until they flaked corn, and Corn Flakes were born!

The company was founded in Battle Creek in 1906, and a legend was created. Since then, they have created 245 products, including my personal favorites: Crunchy Nut Cereal, Eggo Waffles, Apple Jacks, Cinnabon Cereal, Frosted Mini-wheats, Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, and Pop Tarts. Wow, they make pretty much everything that has to do with breakfast, and then some. Is there really another company that makes cereals?

Oh right, General Mills. They’ve got some pretty good ones too, but I’m sticking with Michigan today.

PIZZA

Everyone knows about New York vs Chicago. Thin crust vs deep dish. East coast vs midwest. However, we Michiganders have never worried ourselves with picking sides. That’s because we’ve never had a bad slice of pizza! Michigan is the home of practically every pizza franchise you can think of!

Dominos: The first one was established in Ypsilanti. They’re made a huge comeback, especially with those parmesan bread bites.

Little Ceasars: Garden City is the happy home town! $5 hot and ready’s all around! And that pretzel crust pizza is awesome!

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The perfect (free) lunch!

Buddy’s Pizza: A Detroit original! And if you go to an Oakland University basketball game, there’s a good chance at winning coupons for free 4-square cheese pizzas!

Jets:  Sterling Heights pride! Personally, they’re my favorite pizza. Who doesn’t love their square pizzas? And the antipasto salads are the best!

Hungry Howie’s: A native to Taylor, Michigan. They have the best crust by far.

Passport Pizza: They’re littered all across Macomb county! They can make pizzas that serve up to 2,000 people!

Cottage Inn: They were founded in Ann Arbor! I’m sure it’s a favorite among U of M students.

So yeah, I think Michigan beats out New York and Chicago. Deal with it.

SNACKS

To continue with the theme of Pizza, let’s get straight to bread sticks. You know the delicious cheese filled bread sticks you get at school or at high school football games? They’re called Bosco Sticks, and they’re Michigan made! YES! One of my favorite snacks hails from here.

So many flavors to choose from!

Another snack you can get at any sporting event is a hot dog. Ball Park Franks are a Michigan brand that is super delicious (when I’m in the mood for one.) I’m a ketchup and mustard girl myself (I’m not one for onions and pickle relish,) and it’s great to know that the number one ketchup brand, Heinz, is also from Michigan! We’ve covered all our bases (wow look at all these puns.)

You know what else Michigan is great at? Chips. That’s why they’re called Better Made. See what I did there? No. Oh well, i’m just saying that our chips are really good. Maybe not Lays good (because Lays is the king) but Better Made is the queen. Their bbq flavor is the hottest, most intense version I’ve ever stumbled upon. Lays has the sweet mesquite flavors going on. Better Made has hell fire mixed with lava mixed with “wow my mouth is burning but I can’t stop eating.” And I don’t even like hot foods.

POP

It’s POP. Not SODA. Michigan is known for creating really delicious drinks that are in high abundance here, and really not anywhere else. I was shocked to learn that Faygo Pop, a true Michigan classic, isn’t available everywhere around the country. My Californian friends were shocked to learn that at every gas station and grocery store, we have vending machines dedicated to Faygo products. We’re living in a strange Faygo world in Michigan.

Buy 'em by the bottle!

Buy ’em by the bottle!

We’ve also created Towne Club Pop (again, I emphasize the POP) and Jones Soda (Ehh, we’ll let it slide this time.) Even though I don’t drink a lot of pop, I do enjoy the different fruity flavors that they have. I always tend to go for strawberry or orange, although the “blue” flavors (that taste like blue, not a fruit) are also delicious.

Of course, we’re also famous for Vernors. It’s a special Ginger Ale that tastes like no other Ginger Ale. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan. It’s too gingery for me. I like Canada Dry better.

RESTAURANTS

I was surprised to find out how many restaurants have started in Michigan. I’ve also covered quite a few of them previously in my blog! So, I won’t go into much detail, but check out this list.

Olga’s Kitchen. I never would have guessed! Olga Loizon was the founder of the restaurant. It opened in 1970 and began as a small 10’x10′ booth at the Continental Market. Since then, the franchise has opened more than 30 restaurants. Good job, Olga!

You can only choose one.

Coney Island. Those who aren’t from Michigan might think that it originated in New York City. Nope! The first was American Coney Island in Detroit, followed by Lafayette, and then a dozen others after that.

One place that Michiganders claim as their own, even though it originally started in California in 1936 before moving to Warren, MI in 1987, is Big Boys. You can read more about it in my previous blog post.

One that I was surprised to learn started in Michigan was BD’s Mongolian Grill! What? The stir-fry restaurant was founded in 1992 by two Michigan State alumnus, Billy “BD” Downs and his wife. They were inspired by a restaurant they visited in London, and the rest is history. The first BD’s was built in Royal Oak, and now has 32 more locations!  Ironically, it is also the first American-franchised restaurant in Mongolia.

DESSERT

Achatz Handmade Pie Company is an absolutely phenomenal place. They’re the guys who feed the Detroit Tigers burgers (they have expanded to Achatz Burgers, and they sell their pies there as well.) They have three categories of pie: sweet, cream, and savory. Honestly, you can’t go wrong. However, my favorite pie that I’ve had from them was the Michigan 4-Berry Crumble Top, which included cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Yes please. I think I need to stop by and grab a slice…

Give me a box of California Clusters, or P'nutties Delights, or Peanut  & Pretzel Bark, or Torties and I'm set.

Give me a box of California Clusters, or Cashew Torties, or Peanut & Pretzel Bark, or Torties and I’m set.

You know what would be great on top of a warm slice of pie? Ice cream. Which brand is pure Michigan (see, another pun, i’m just so good at these things)? Stroh’s. Thank goodness it’s a brand I can easily find at CVS! Move aside Ben and Jerry’s, Stroh’s is cheaper and just as delicious. Plus you get more for the value.

Don’t even get me started on chocolate. Oh, you really want me to get started on it? Okay. Morley Candy and Sanders are also Michigan classics, and I have such a sweet (ha) fondness for Morley. It’s a piece of my soul. Seriously. It’s a horcrux. We had to sell Morley Chocolate to try and raise money for fundraisers in elementary school. We sold our soul away for prizes like bikes, and basketballs, and a 1-pound bar of chocolate (it’s real, I held it once.) I’d do it all over again if I could. I need more California Clusters in my life.

UPPER PENINSULA

The UP is it’s own magical place filled with wonders beyond our wildest dreams. At least, it is for those who live under the bridge. So it only makes sense to give it a special section.

I’m not sure if I’d eat this with Ketchup. Looks more like a gravy kind of treat.

Of course, the first thing I think of is Mackinac Island fudge. Now, I’ve never been to Mackinac Island (pronounced MACK-in-aw, you uncultured swines)
and I’m honestly not much of a fudge fan, but I have tried some when I visited Frankenmuth and WOW it’s really really good. You can’t beat it.

And, going with the theme of the UP, lets talk about those pasties. (PAST-ees, not PASTE-ees, I’ve learned.) They’re kind of like a hand held pie crust filled with diced potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, onions & seasoned ground beef. I was surprised at how good it was! The next time I go to the UP, I’m going to buy another one.

BABY FOOD

Yeah, we’re the home of Gerber. I mean, I can’t really say much about it because you won’t see me eating any. But knowing that we’re home to basically the only name brand baby food that people immediately recognize it pretty neat.

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[12.1.14] Over 21

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Alcohol scares me. People get sick from being too drunk all the time. Mom has told me horror stories about how she drank too much peppermint schnapps and threw up in the parking lot when she was my age. I never want to go through that kind of experience ever.

My entire life, certain events made me nervous for that reason alone. Concerts were a bit nerve wracking, even though they’re one of the funnest events I ever attend. People drink and smoke pot and cigarettes at concerts, especially at Pine Knob/DTE Energy Theater. Being surrounded by drunk people who could vomit at any moment can be taxing.

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Julie drinking is one of the funniest things ever.

Carnivals with beer tents are another place for anxiety for me. Not only do I have to worry about kids eating too much and then riding rides until they’re sick, I have to worry about adults doing the same thing but with alcohol in their system! Yuck!

Even family events can be stressful. The younger the person drinking, the more I panic. One of the worst instances of this was at Eddie’s 21st birthday party when he was dared to drink a Jackson 5 after already having other drinks. It was the most drunk I had ever seen him (and honestly, it wasn’t even that drunk) but it was my second time dealing with a loved one who was knew to drinking having so much alcohol. The first time happened when my friend Ana got drunk at her birthday party. She was only 18 (which is the legal age in Mexico) but it scared me out of my mind. I’ve learned since then that I can’t handle my friends getting drunk. It scares me too much.

My family isn’t as bad, because I’ve grown up with them drinking.  I know when I was little I was given sips of beer if I fetched one for my uncles. My aunt always gets super drunk at parties, that if she doesn’t it’s almost a let down. There was one particular event, however,  where I broke down into tears because everyone was drunk and it occurred to me that everyone had to drive home. I realized that someone could get in an accident and get hurt. I panicked.

This is why I will always be the Designated Driver. I can’t afford to get drunk. Someone could get hurt driving home (which is horrible) or I could get sick (which is even worse.) I feel better knowing that if someone needs a lift home, I can give it.

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My first ever drink of alcohol, and it was barely a sip.

Now that I’m old enough to drink,  I’m often asked if I want anything. I always say no, for obvious reasons. However, I will try sips of things.

When Eddie and I go out to Crackerjacks, a bar in Clinton Township, for drinks, billiards, and karaoke, I will take sips of everyone’s drinks just to see what they taste like. 9/10 they taste bad. Just like with tea and coffee, where I can taste bitter flavor, I can taste the alcohol no matter how much pop or fruit flavoring they mix in. The best thing I’ve probably had was a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at my birthday party, and that’s because I already like lemonade, but even that was a bit too tart for me. Vodka with cranberry isn’t too bad either, but I still can’t drink a whole one.

In the end,  casual drinking doesn’t scare me, and I’m happy being sober. Besides, I’m already a blast to hang around with. I don’t need to be drunk to be fun.

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[11.28.14] Happy Thanksgiving!

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It’s the one time of the year that is dedicated to eating delicious food, stuffing yourself as fast as the turkey you just devoured, and falling into a deep food coma as you watch the football game.

It’s Thanksgiving.

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My brother, Dad, and I sitting at the bar on Thanksgiving 2013

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was the worst time of the year. When my emetophobia was really bad, eating with the family was a challenge. I usually ended up snacking throughout the day, feeling pressure to eat dinner although I was full, and then eating way too much and feeling sick afterwards. Which usually meant I spent a couple hours laying upstairs in the bedroom watching TV or sitting in the bathroom trying to relax, all the while knowing that my family was downstairs either having a good time or worrying about me. I didn’t want them to think I was a freak, or that I was antisocial. It wasn’t that at all. I just…had a hard time with the food thing.

I know my family just wants to me to be, well, normal and happy and not afraid of food. Thankfully, I’ve gotten much better since those dark times. I’ve learned to eat small portions of everything, rather than filling my plate. I can now get myself feeling overstuffed and not completely freak out. Granted, most of the time I do freak out, but only in my head.

My first cheesecake came out perfect.

My first cheesecake came out perfect.

Now that I’m dating Eddie, I get to have two Thanksgiving dinners a year. Whoa. That’s a lot of food. This year, we went to Eddie’s family first. I baked a cheesecake for them.

Remember how I mentioned that Mom had the best cheesecake recipe? I was putting that to the test.

Thankfully (ha puns?) they enjoyed it a lot! I still had leftovers to take back to my family as well. Their family dinner was really delicious with all the fixings, like turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and cranberries. I put little dollops of everything on my plate and went to sit in the dining room to eat.

Not only do I eat small portions, but I eat fast. I was finished in only a few minutes, which caused one relative (whose name I can’t remember) said “wow, you’re already done eating? And not much either.”

The buffet table that holds four turkeys, three stuffings, mac and cheese, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes,

The buffet table that holds four turkeys, two stuffings, mac and cheese, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

I nodded and laughed awkwardly, worrying that gossip would spread that I don’t eat much (when in reality I eat a ton when I don’t feel anxious.) However, I still had my fill of food and had a good time with Eddie’s family.

Then we drove back from Holly for round two.

At my uncle’s house, we ate more turkey (we had four of them, one of which was deep fried), potatoes, stuffing, mac and cheese,and green bean casserole. The stuffing that is first to go is my uncle’s White Castle stuffing. I don’t eat it because I don’t like White Castle, but it’s essentially a ton of sliders ripped apart and mixed in with regular stuffing. Hey, whatever makes the family happy, right? I also saved room for apple pie. I didn’t overdo it this year! Hooray!

However, I woke up the next morning to go to Barnes and Noble for Black Friday and started my period. Life just can’t be easy.

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[11.24.14] TGI…Monday.

I feel like the only time you should go to T.G.I Friday’s is…well…on Friday. However, it is Monday as I write this blog post, and the last time I went to eat at that restaurant was on Sunday. I’m allover the place. Where is the organization. I’m a mess.

Sunday, I had to go to school to shoot the Volleyball Championship game and the Women’s Basketball game for The Oakland Post. My aunt and cousins were meeting up with us in between the games to go out to dinner.

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I’m dying to have more!

Before I jump to dinner, let me tell you about the volleyball tournament because it was amazing. The tension was crazy as Oakland lost the first set to University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. However, the girls came back to win the next 3 sets, making them the champions of the Horizon League Tournament. When they made the match point to win the tournament, the crowd rushed the court to celebrate with them. I was able to get fantastic photos of them playing (and hopefully you’ll see them in the next issue of The Post, coming out December 3rd.)

Now, back to food.

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The meal of a champion!

The only time I had ever been to T.G.I. Friday’s before was once with my god mother, and I wasn’t a big fan. The burg er I had ordered has horseradish on it. Gross. This time, I wasn’t feeling 100% (still coming off my cold) so I went for simple white cheddar broccoli soup and a side of fries. Wow, this was the cheesiest, most delicious soup I have ever had. I only had a small cup, but it was enough to completely fill me!

My cousins ordered a more standard dinner: Leah ordered steak, mac and cheese, and potato wedges, and Tara a sandwich, chips, and soup. My mom ordered a salad of some sort that had chicken and tortilla chips on it. I’m assuming it was of the Mexican variety.

After dinner, my cousins were craving dessert. I was too, but I was way too full to eat. However, I did steal a bite of their Oreo Madness and Salted Caramel Cake. The oreo dessert was “cookies and Cream ice cream sandwiched between layers of Oreo® cookie crust. Garnished with Ghirardelli® chocolate sauce.” Wow, I wish I liked chocolate more.

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I need to start ordering dessert before dinner!

The salted caramel dessert was more up my alley, with “vanilla cake layered with vanilla bean pudding and caramel crunch drizzled with a salted caramel glaze.” To top it off, it was served with vanilla ice cream. Wow.

After dinner, I was struggling. I had eaten too much, and was feeling overfull and sick. I had a hard time calming myself down, because I knew I still had the basketball game to shoot. I wasn’t looking forward to walking around the court with a full stomach, trying to take photos of the game.

Thankfully, it did manage to ease away, and I was able to grab some great photos and was even able to snack on popcorn later. Because the girls scored five 3-pointers, we were all given $5 off coupons for BD’s Mongolian Grill. Good thing I know I like it now! I’ll be happy to use those coupons.

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[11.21.14] Feed a Cold…

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“Feed a cold, starve a fever.” That’s what Mom has always told me whenever I get sick. Even though there’s no real proof that it works, I feel like I’m starving, so I’m going to run with it!

This is the second time this year that I’ve gotten a cold, which (thankfully) doesn’t cause my anxiety to spike. Colds don’t lead to throwing up, so I feel relatively safe, if not completely annoyed by the fact that my throat is killing me and I can’t breathe right. But I’m cranking up the humidifying, cooking up some delicious comfort food, and enjoying the fact that I have no homework this weekend.

Of course, some foods are better than others when it comes to soothing a cold. I’ll go through the list of foods I usually indulge in (and some of the ones I just can’t.)

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No box mac to make? Home made is always good.

As everyone knows, the top food for a cold is chicken noodle soup. I’m a big fan of the chunky soups like Progresso instead of Campbell’s, but when you’re sick you can’t be choosy.  My personal favorite is when Mom makes her homemade soup with egg noodles, chunks of chicken breast, and hunks of vegetables. Yum! Mrs. Bunch (Eddie’s mom) made me her version of homemade chicken soup last year when I was sick. It’s interesting how different the two were! My mom’s is very brothy and light, while Mrs. Bunch’s is thick and creamy. Both to die for.

This morning, I didn’t have chicken noodle soup in the house, so I downed my cold medication (because I’m that desperate to be able to breathe) with bacon and potato soup. Not exactly what I was looking for, but still really good.

Macaroni and cheese is another food I eat nonstop. As I’ve said before in previous blog posts, it’s a comfort food for me, and I always feel safe and secure when eating it. The creamier, the better. Kroger deluxe is the best on the planet when it comes to boxed macaroni and cheese. Otherwise, Panera is king. Although, my baked four cheese mac is also pretty killer…

Macaroni and cheese is always good. End of story.

I also eat pickles. It may sound weird, but pickles are great for sore throats. It’s similar to gargling with salt water. The salt and vinegar in the pickle juice is soothing. Although, I can’t drink the juice right out of the jar (unlike my cousin, Jaclyn, who does that just because she likes it), I do eat pickles more often to try and heal my aching throat.

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NO PULP ALLOWED.

Honey is also apparently good. I’ve tried honey and cinnamon, but it was too gross for me (too sweet and the texture was gross.) People usually put honey in their tea, but I can’t do that either. I don’t like tea, or any hot beverage for that matter. Tea is too herbally and bitter, coffee (whether it’s hot or iced) is just gross,  hot chocolate burns my tongue and is too sweet.

I also don’t drink pop because it’s too fizzy, milk unless it’s in cereal, energy drink (because no), or alcohol for many reasons…

I’ll just stick with water and lemonade.

Although, I do like orange juice, especially when I have a cold. It’s not something I drink often, but when I start to feel a sore throat coming on, I’m happy to guzzle this down. The vitamin C will cure me, right? Maybe not, but it does soothe my throat.

Crunchy foods are also good for me when I have a sore throat. I feel like it scrapes off all the bad yucky stuff and clears my throat. Cereal is a huge help in the morning. You know that feeling when you wake up and your voice is hoarse and you feel like there’s stuff stuck in your throat? Cereal like Frosted Flakes or Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a life saver. If you drink something hot on top of that, I’m sure it’d work even better.

In the end, if you’re feeling hungry, feed your cold. Stick to comfort foods, and you’ll be cured in about a week or so.

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[11.17.14] Having It My Way

On occassion, I like to splurge and treat myself to some good old fast food. The problem I face is where to go. There are a ton of chains littered around me. The choices seem endless. Thankfully, I do have a #1 Top Favorite No Matter What place to go, and that’s Burger King.

Ever since I was little, Burger King has been special for me. McDonalds was simply too boringand lacking the fixings I love, like lettuce, tomato, and pickle. Wendy’s wasn’t even an option, simply because I was an ignorant fool and didn’t know it existed. White Castle was an abomination (and still is, my stomach will never agree,) and Arby’s was mainly roast beef which is gross (except when mom make’s it at home.)

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The Whopper Jr. in all its glory.

So I was left with Burger King. A very wise choice on my part. It had everything I wanted: a delicious burger with all the fixings, hella good fries, and food that didn’t upset my stomach. It even the dutch apple pie: score.

Back in the day, when I was a wee little thing, my mom would take me out to Burger King once a week after ballet or tap lessons. I would go home and watch Spongebob while eating my Whopper Jr. To me, it was the closest thing to a Krabby Patty. McDonalds could never dream of making a burger that could compare.

Sometimes, when I was really hungry, I’d ask to get a Whopper instead. I was always surprised how they were barely any bigger in size. Just last year, I learned that Mom would trick me and order a Whopper Jr. for me anyways. I’ve grown up thinking Whoppers were no bigger than their smaller cousins. My entire life is a lie.

Now that I’m all grown up (sort of) I have more variety when it comes to fast food. I’ve decided that every chain has their perk.

Long live the chicken fries.

Burger King has the best burger. McDonalds has the best friends. Wendy’s has the best chicken sandwich. Arby’s has nothing for me except curly fries, which are a nice change.

Of course, Burger King has one ace up their sleeve, one that they tried to discontinue for a couple years until the internet demanded their return.

The Chicken Fries.

The night I learned the chicken fries were back, I nearly lost my mind. I had seen on tumblr BK’s twitter post that simple said “Soon.” Everyone was trying to guess what it meant. My favorite theory was that BK had finally taken control of the fast food business and was planning there world domination. I wasn’t prepared for the news they had.

The next day I was at Eddie’s watching a movie. I happened to remember the tumblr post and thought “oh yes, I need to check what happening that was so important.” I googled “Burger King News Today” on my phone, and chicken fries popped up.

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Eddie ordered a chicken sandwich. Not as good as chicken fries, and not as good as Wendy’s, but still delicious.

I began to wheeze as I dropped my phone and curled into the fetal position. Eddie panicked, wondering what was wrong. I started to laugh and cry, babbling nonsense about how my prayers were heard and that life is good.

“The chicken fries are back!” I gasped, shaking Eddie by the shoulders. “I need them NOW.”

Of course, it was too late to go out to get some. Eating fast food at 11:00pm isn’t good for my stomach. I had to wait until the next day where I ran out to buy some, and my god they were just as delicious as I remembered. I must have had them three times that same week.

I haven’t had them since, simply because I don’t eat fast food often. It usually makes me stomach upset, and I stay full for the rest of the day. However, if I had to choose my favorite fast food place, Burger King remains – well – the king.

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[11.14.14] Breakfast or Lunch? Why not both?

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“Be the taco girl” is what Eddie and I say to each other when we want two different things and can’t decide which to choose. That sounds odd, but it makes perfect sense. Simply watch the commercial where it originated, and you’ll understand.

Go ahead, watch it. I’ll wait till you’re finished.

“Why don’t we have both?” The golden answer to life’s long unanswered question. That’s why I love iHop so much. Breakfast or lunch? BOTH IS THE ANSWER.

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The classic breakfast. I’ve only just realized how good it is.

After church on Sunday, Mom and I went out to iHop to treat ourselves to this idea. Normally, I don’t like breakfast food. For the longest time, I didn’t like sausage, bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles, etc. I just liked cereal. End of discussion. If I had to have breakfast, waffles were my next choice – everything else wasn’t an option.

Now, I’ve grown fond of sausage and bacon (eggs are still a no for me) and pancakes are nice, but they leave me feeling too full and bloated. Waffles are still amazing, and cereal is still my standard.  However, when I go to iHop, I don’t get any of these things. Instead, I get the stuffed french toast.

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Sometimes, I even pour on more strawberry syrup and mix in blueberry syrup. That’s right, I’m a wild child.

Because of the whole issue I have with eggs, I was scared of french toast. Okay, scared isn’t the right word, but I didn’t think it would taste good at all. Seriously, dipping bread into eggs and cooking it? Gross.

In high school, after one of my midterms, my Physics teacher, Mr. Ellul, pulled out a small griddle from behind his desk, yanked out french toast ingredients, and we all had breakfast in the middle of class. I thought, “sure, why not try it?”

I was floored.

iHop is even better. You have the choice of normal french toast, or the french toast brioche, or the stuffed triangles. This time, I went for the stuffed. Thick french toast filled with sweet cream glaze topped with strawberries. Yes please.

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I’m a sucker for clubs, and this one was not to spicy for me!

However, I was also in the savory mood. When I go with Eddie, he gets chicken and waffles (which was ironic the first time we tried it, and now it is a staple) because it satisfies the savory and the sweet. I decided to go for the french toast combo and had bacon, hashbrowns, and scrambled eggs (which I tried but didn’t eat much of) as well. It was the perfect amount of food, and it definitely hit the spot.

Mom went for the lunch route. Another reason why I love iHop is because it caters to both breakfast and lunch. Not feeling up for pancakes? Get yourself a sandwich. Mom ordered the southwest chicken club and a bowl of minestrone soup. I had a taste, and it was really good! Normally I think southwest would mean spicy, but it doesn’t. It’s just enough for extra flavor without burning my mouth.

Overall, iHop is a great place to go after church, or late at night, or in the middle of the day. Anytime is iHop time to be honest.

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[11.10.14] Progressive Dining!

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To celebrate our two year anniversary, Eddie and I spent our Saturday together at Twelve Oaks mall. It was nice to go somewhere new and explore, yet at the same time doing something familiar. Our first date was at Lakeside M all, and we had a great time together (evidently.) So, walking the mall together again seemed like a great idea. Not only that, but Twelve Oaks had some killer food places to try out!

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Eddie and I (with our new haircuts!)

Last year, we dressed up really fancy and went to Villa Penna. It was special to dress up nice and go somewhere high-class to eat. Not only was the food at Penna fantastic (he got parmesan chicken, and I got manicotti,) but it was also served ridiculously fast! Our entire dinner took us only a half hour from the moment we walked in until the moment we left.

This year, we decided to try something called progressive dining. The concept is a lot like bar hopping. We went to one restaurant and ordered an appetizer. Then we went to another one and ordered an entree. Finally, we went to one more to order dessert. That way, we could get our favorite meals.

Our appetizer restaurant was Olga’s Kitchen. A couple months ago when Eddie and I were trying to figure out where to eat, he suggested Olga’s because of their snackers. Since then, I’ve been hooked. When we arrived, we were seated right next to the entrance (and we joked that we were in the prime spot to dine-and-dash, which is something we would never actually do.) We ordered a basket of Spinach and Feta Dip Snackers and struggled to not completely devour them. I didn’t want to get full on those and not be able to complete the next two courses, which was a fear of mine.

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Oops, forgot to take a picture of the snackers BEFORE we ate them! They’re just too good.

Right across from Olga’s was Max and Erma’s. Originally, we were going to go to Terry’s Terrace by my house, but changed our minds when we learned that two of the three restaurants we want to go to were at the mall. Max and Erma’s was a great decision. We ordered a bacon cheeseburger to share, seasoned fries, and a cup of tortilla soup. Eddie loves the tortilla soup, so I let him eat all of it. The burger was absolutely delicious, and the fries were to die for. I’m a sucker for fries, and I would have eaten them all, if I wasn’t already full from the snackers and the burger. Then they served the cookie and I was a goner. Instead of eating the warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie right then, we put it in my purse to save for later. After all, we had a very special place in mind for dessert.

The Cheesecake Factory.

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Burger + Bacon = gone in a flash.

Now, I’m not a huge cheesecake fan. Or at least, I wasn’t in the past. I’ve never actually tried many chesecakes, and it’s one of Eddie’s favorite desserts. So I thought, “hey, it’s the only one in Michigan, why not give it a shot!”

The fact that it’s the only one in Michigan means that it was PACKED. We could barely walk into the line, and when we reached the front desk, they told us the wait for a table for two was two-three hours. Yikes. We decided to move over into the line to buy the cheesecake right from the front counter instead. Who needs to sit down in a restaurant to eat a slice of cheesecake anyways?

We ordered four slices (one for us to share, one for my parents, and one for his mom); two were the Original with Strawberries, and the other two were Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake.

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I would have had added more strawberries.

We were both really full from dinner, so we decided to walk the mall for a while before heading home and digging into our dessert. We stopped in a few stores, looked at jewelry and clothes, and then I saw the pet store.

I had to play with the puppies.

We went in and found the most adorable puppy playing in the kennel! He was a Bernese Mountain Dog, and he was the fluffiest, most precious, and loving thing I had ever seen! We asked to play with him, but we were told that we couldn’t play with him because he was actually the most popular and had a limit on how much he could be played with. So, we decided to play with the little Cockalier, a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Cocker Spaniel. He looked so lonely in his kennel! The three other puppies were playing and rough housing with him, and he sat quietly in the corner. He needed love!

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Now THIS is a chocolate and peanut butter lover’s dream.

At first, he just crawled around, licked Eddie’s hand for a couple minutes nonstop, and then eventually started making this coughing gruff noise that sounded like my cats when they had a hairball. Of course, I instantly started getting nervous. What if he got sick? It probably wouldn’t send me panicking, but I’d definitely be uncomfortable. However, I think it was his bark, because all of a sudden he got super frisky and playful and started attacking Eddie’s shoes and pants, and then eventually the toys.

When we were done playing with him, we went to the games store to buy some board games to play when we got home, and then spent a while in Brookstone sitting in the massage chairs. After walking around in heels for hours, my feet needed a break.

Then, it was time for cheesecake. I was still full, but I needed to try it. We got home and broke right into them. I must admit, it was pretty darn good! I don’t think I would have liked it without the strawberries, because the texture was too creamy. I needed more stuff to crunch into. My parents tried it and decided that Mom’s recipe was better. Eddie’s lucky that I’m going to be the one to inherit that famous recipe.

 

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[11.7.14] It’s Good in the Neighborhood!

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(Wow, look at that lens flare from dirty windows.)

This post is a bit outdated. Eddie and I went to Applebee’s a couple weeks ago while killing some time between classes. Applebee’s is right across the street, so we figured it was relatively cheap, close, and had good food.

To start off, our waitress was really nice and polite (we ended up giving her a 20% tip, which is standard for me.) Her patience while we decided to order was great. After all, neither of us dined here often and were unfamiliar with the menu.

Whenever I went with Mom, I would usually get the spinach and artichoke dip and simply eat that. It was filling enough, and I wasn’t fond of the menu. Everything was too “hoity-toity” and upperclass. What I mean by that is I felt like I couldn’t walk in an order a simple burger. Everything had a spin to it. There wasn’t much that interested me. But their spinach and artichoke was to die for.

Penne + chicken + tomato + alfredo = heaven.

Penne + chicken + tomato + alfredo = heaven.

Something great about Applebee’s is the “2 for $20” menu that they have. Two entrees and an appetizer for only $20. It’s a great deal! Plus, the spinach and artichoke dip is an option. Score!

Although Eddie and I chose the 2 for $20 option, we didn’t order the dip because we were trying to choose something healthier. We ended up getting side salads that were given to us on dinner plates!

This is such a small pet peeve of mine, but I really don’t like when I get a dinner sized salad as a side. I end up eating the entire salad and then I’m full when my meal comes. That’s exactly what happened this time. I managed to stop myself from eating it all, but I still ate a bit too much.

Of course, when my three cheese chicken penne arrived, I couldn’t stop myself. I ate until I was bursting at the seams and suffering from some stomach pain. It was ridiculously good! It’s my new standard order when I go there now. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it.

Eddie ordered the chicken freshcado, which he said was absolutely divine as well. I’m not a huge fan of avocado, but the idea of it sounded great! I tried a bit of the pineapple avocado topping though. Even though the pineapple was stronger, the texture of the avocado still came through for me.

Even though I don't like avocado, this looks super yummy.

Even though I don’t like avocado, this looks super yummy.

Now, the best part of the meal was the price. Both of our dishes on their own were over $12. That already bumps us over $20. Plus we had the “not-so-side” salads as well, for free! A meal that would have cost us easily $30 was merely $20, with a bit extra for drinks. You can’t beat a deal like that (except dining and dashing, which I don’t recommend.)

Of course, since I mentioned earlier that I ate way too much of Applebee’s deliciously rich food, I was suffering from some panic attacks later on. They weren’t horrible, but they were definitely strong enough to have my whimpering in fear as Eddie squeezed my thumb (I’ve heard that doing so cuts off the nerve to the gag reflex; whether it’s true or not, I do it because it works as a placaebo at the very least.) Thankfully, the anxiety only lasted for a half hour or so. Instead of being strong and quick, it was mild and long. It could be worse I suppose. I could actually get sick (cue shuddering.)

But if you’re looking for a good date dinner, go to Applebee’s and get these dishes! You won’t regret it!

 

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[11.3.14] Youmacon!

Are you confused by the header? Don’t be, it will all make sense in due time. Prepare yourself for a photo heavy post, because I have a lot to share.

As I mentioned in my Halloween blog, I went to Youmacon this year. I’ve been going since 2009, making this my fifth year attending (although in total, this is my eighth con ever.)

My first costume: Izaya Orihara.

Not everyone is familiar with Youmacon (pronounced “YO-mah-con”). Think smaller-scale Comicon. It’s a convention held in Downtown Detroit at the Renaissance Marriot Hotel and Cobo Hall. It’s held Halloween weekend every year. They celebrate anime, video games, movies, and comics. People attend to go to panels held by celebrities (mainly anime voice actors), shop at the dealer’s room and artist alley for merchandise, dress up in cosplay, attend the rave and concerts, and overall have a great time for four days. It’s a blast.

The first time I ever went to Youmacon, my emetophobia hadn’t returned yet. I wasn’t afraid to stay in the hotel room an hour away from home. I had absolutely no anxiety. I was able to eat whenever I wanted without fear. I wasn’t plagued with insomnia. I also wasn’t afraid to ask strangers for pictures. I took about 300 photos that first year. It was a great experience.

Psyche and Delic from Durarara!!!

However, my second year was a bit more complicated. By then, my emetophobia had returned with a vengeance. I was very nervous to stay in the hotel room, because I was afraid of what I would do if I were to get sick in front of all my friends. The only person to ever see me in a panic attack (or get sick for that matter) was my mom. Thankfully, I didn’t have too many incidents, and the weekend went smoothly.

My third year was tougher. I must have been too exhausted and dehydrated to function, because I felt extremely sick while sitting at dinner at Andiamo’s. MY anxiety attack was too strong, and I and had to leave early and climb 25 flights of stairs to get back to the hotel room. FYI: elevators are rarely an option; they are far too packed to use and the wait it horrendous. It’s better to climb.

I met one of my favorite bands, Steam Powered Giraffe! They play ever year as the concert headliner.

My fourth year, and perhaps one of the best years, I was struggling because my period had started that weekend, so I was fatigued most of the time. However, Eddie was with me at this point (for our second date) and he helped me not get too exhausted while traversing the several stories of the convention. I nibbled on crackers and muffins for most of the convention, and I managed to keep hydrated enough to not pass out.

This year, we followed the same routine. By this point, my friends and I no longer had a con-mom (an adult who supervised us) because we were now over the age of 18. We have a strict set of rules and guidelines to help us. One part of that is the food.

My dream costume: Danny Phantom. I’ve been wanting to do this one since I was a kid.

Every year we bring a dozen Big Apple Bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, bananas and apples for a snack, lunch meat and sandwich fixings for lunch, and loads of snacks and drinks for in between. We rarely have to eat at the food court because we bring all of our own food. This saved me on many occasions, because fast food and grease does not always sit well with me.

As usual, safe foods were brought, and we had two beds this year (no one slept on the floor, thank God!) I did have my period however (TMI, I know) but thankfully it didn’t slow me down much.

The one problem I had was anxiety. For the few days before the convention, I was having stomach problems. Everything I ate made me feel queasy and overall gross. Eating during the first day of the convention was hard. I ate my bagels and sandwiches, but it just made me feel bloated. Thankfully, Thursdays we don’t do anything except get our badges, so I was able to relax in the hotel room for the night.

Roxy LaLonde from Homestuck (post alcoholism)

We did have strangers in our room with us, though. Julie knew them, but I didn’t. That made it difficult for me to sleep, because I was nervous about feeling sick. I was comfortable (for the most part) with Julie and my friends, but strangers didn’t help me feel relaxed. (By the next day, I walked in on them breaking one of our strict rules, and they were kicked out of the room. I was back to having a safe zone again.)

Friday was still a bit of a challenge with food for me. But I didn’t let it stop me from doing what I was looking forward to all weekend: the Steam Powered Giraffe concert. Ironically, I really love concerts. Normally I don’t like being surrounded by people or feeling trapped in a space after buying a “ticket.” However, I love the atmosphere of concerts, and I even enjoy the bass rattling my chest (once I get used to it.)

The Danny Phantom Gang! Eddie as Danny, Me as Sam, KT as Maddie, Josh as Jack, and Kaiden as Tucker.

The Danny Phantom Gang! Eddie as Danny, Me as Sam, KT as Maddie, Josh as Jack, and Kaiden as Tucker.

By Saturday and Sunday I was eating normally again. I had a few more cases of dehydration and stomach pain from hunger, but I was able to face my fears of sickness and was able to keep eating and going on with my day without having to stay cooped up in the hotel room. I didn’t have any major panic attacks, but I was anxious a couple of times. Thankfully, I had my friends and Eddie to help me relax.

I’m not sure if I plan on going next year. With how expensive it is, and my gradual pull away from the anime culture, I think I might take a year off. That will make my next Halloween much more relaxed. Besides, I want to pass out candy one year!

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