Food Writing & Food Photography from a self-proclaimed Foodie

Archive for March, 2011

Global Peace Factory (Frisco, Tx.) – “Every Cup Counts”

When I went out in today’s dreary weather, the grey and drizzle of the day didn’t bother me at all, knowing that I was off to visit what I hoped to be a warm and cozy coffee house for the first time.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, knowing that the place is situated in an upscale little corner of Frisco, right on the NW corner of Highway 121 and Legacy; but when I arrived, just seeing the outside of the place reminded me of some cool, eclectic shop that you might find in Austin or parts of D.C.  

I walked in right at noon, and there were only a couple of tables that had patrons at the time – but within fifteen minutes or so, there were more and more customers coming in and staying to enjoy their coffee and/or lunch.  The building looks smaller from the outside than what you walk into – there is not only the main dining area with tables and chairs (as well as a couch and small lounge chair), but also a stairwell that leads to a loft area with more seating above.  I was greeted by Myshel and Jared, who were working together behind the counter.  They readily answered my questions and made recommendations and suggestions for good lunchtime fare, as well a nod to a pastry of choice.

So I knew going in that I would want a coffee drink.  My drink of choice at the competition’s coffee house is a caramel/mocha frappucino made with soy milk, and I wanted to see if they had something comparable here at Global Peace Factory.  They indeed do have a similar beverage – the frappe’.  I asked what kind of dairy alternatives they have, since I have a pretty bad dairy allergy.  I normally use almond milk at home, to cook with and for smoothies and such; those other guys that make coffee only have soy milk as their dairy alternative.  I was pleased to hear that not only does GPF have the soy milk as an alternative, but also rice milk – at least there are choices!  I ordered my first caramel mocha Frappe’ with rice milk, which I have also never had.  They said it was good and I would like it, so I thought I would give it a  go.  It doesn’t seem to be as creamy as soy or almond milk, but the flavor was good and the change in type of milk was barely noticeable at all.  The caramel and mocha came through separately as well as mutually, making for a nice frozen coffee drink.

I then asked for suggestions for lunch, given that it was noon and I was getting hungry.  Immediately the word “Panini” came out of their mouths, so I figured I should trust them again and go for it.  I ordered a roast beef panini on sourdough bread (usually comes with cheddar cheese, red bell peppers, onion, roast beef, and a creamy horseradish sauce) – mine was made minus the cheese and bell peppers, with extra horseradish sauce.  They brought it out to me on a real plate, with real flatware, and it was fresh and steaming hot.  The roast beef didn’t appear to be just the typical deli-sliced lunchmeat that you or I would get from our local grocer; it was thick and very flavorful, like a Sunday roast that had been cut into sandwich slices.  The sourdough bread was infused with herbs on the outside, which added richness to the flavors of the sandwich.  I was able to eat half of my panini, and then had to have the other half packaged up to take with me – very filling and satisfying. There were several other choices for paninis:  Italian Turkey, Pomodoro Formaggio, and Turkey Club, to name a few.  I had a choice of breads as well for my sandwich:  Artisan Wheat, Sourdough, Jewish Rye, Health Bread (with nuts and sunflower seeds cooked into it).  There were four choices of cheese and several add-ons (double meat, chips, etc.), making the decisions unique to each patron who orders.  The last option that I saw on the menu was their salad, which could be ordered as a side salad, a full meal house salad, with or without meat.  This was so nice – to walk into a coffee house, but have the option to have more than JUST pastries or muffins to go with my beverage (and the “real” food isn’t just popped into a microwave, but cooked fresh to order).

One of the things that Jared suggested trying, if I were going to try one of their pastry treats, was the Almond Croissant.  It looked amazing, but I was too full from my panini and frappe’ to get one today – but am planning on it the next time I visit.  It was a HUGE croissant, with a flaky looking top, almond slices, and powdered sugar.  There were other baked goods in the case, and I believe that I saw an ice cream case (but am not 100% sure of this one).  But there were so many other things on the menu that I want to try, so I’m guaranteed to go back many more times.

Some of the other offerings that you will find at Global Peace Factory that you WON’T find at other large-chain coffee houses are “spirited” coffees, like Irish Cream and coffee, for instance.  They also have wines (sold by the glass OR the bottle) and specialty beers.  They have the standard coffee house selections, of course:  drip coffee, latte’s, cappuccinos, espressos, teas, hot chocolate, juices (fresh-squeezed), and smoothies.  They have a drink of the month – for March it is an Irish Cream Latte’….of course!  There are several different flavors for coffee drinks, sauces, and fruits to choose from.  And icing on the cake is that Jared is a master, professional barista, well capable of creating fantastic blends of coffee drinks with foam artwork on top, while carefully mixing and balancing flavors!

I really enjoyed my visit to Global Peace Factory – and am looking forward to returning to try more and different selections.  The prices may have been a little – and I mean only slightly – higher than the other guys, but the quality of food and service was on another level so as to afford the extra cost.  The Wi-Fi was free (but you have to ask for the security network key), and another plus:  they deliver!  Yes, if you can’t make it to them, they will bring it to YOU!  One thing I do know, I have NEVER seen a coffee house that offer this service – definitely adding another unique notch to what sets them apart.

 

Global Peace Factory   

1377 Legacy Drive, Suite 100 / Frisco, Tx. 75034

Phone:  214.705.2664

http://www.GlobalPeaceFactory.com

“…a world in peace, not in pieces.”

Mom’s Cafe (Carrollton, Tx.)

This morning we went for Sunday breakfast at one of our favorite hole-in-the-wall spots in town.  As we sat, waiting for our food (which turned out to be more like brunch, since we went at noon), I thought to myself, “Now why haven’t I ever done a write-up on this place?”  We’ve been there tons of times, and I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten anything that we haven’t liked.

The menu is very cut and dry, as it is straightforward, homestyle cooking like you would get at your mom’s or grandma’s.  We go there almost exclusively for breakfast on the weekends, but have eaten lunch a couple of times, and enjoyed it just as much as breakfast.

The offerings are pretty basic, but there is something for pretty much everyone.  Classic buttermilk pancakes – one type, one style.  For less than a dollar extra, however, you can add pecans or bananas to your pancakes and they will not only cook them into your batter, but also serve them atop your stack.  This morning I had pancakes with bananas, and was quite pleased when they arrived to find them cooked into the pancake as well as stacked on top.  They also have one other type of pancake dish, called Branson’s Saddlebags – a pairing of pancake with breakfast meat(s) that equals AMAZING.  In this order, there is one pancake with sausage cooked into the batter, along with one pancake with bacon cooked into the batter.  They are served atop one another, with a braised egg on top of the pancake stack; slap some butter on the pancakes and drizzle maple syrup atop the whole thing, and you have sweet, savory, salty altogether in every bite.  This dish may not be the most dietetic that is out there, but it is worth the carb-blowing treat every once in a while!

If you’re not a pancake fan, they have most breakfast stand-bys and standard fare:  eggs, waffles, French toast, biscuits and gravy, grits, omelets made-to-order, Eggs Benedict, corned beef hash and eggs.  They have breakfast meats, of course:  bacon, sausage, ham, corned beef.  I’m sure that I’m forgetting something, but you get the idea.  I have had eggs in pretty much every way that they make them, and the French toast is amazingly good – made from Texas Toast sized bread, cooked to perfection, and sprinkled slightly with cinnamon and powdered sugar.  Sometimes we put butter and syrup on it, sometimes we just eat it the way it comes!  The biscuits and gravy remind me of the kind that my grandmother made from scratch when I was a kid, every time our family all got together for holidays at her house:  biscuits baked from scratch, and white gravy with chunks of sausage cooked within its creamy yumminess.  I have had an omelet a couple of times, as has guests that I have taken to Mom’s with me; all agree that the omelets are amazing and pretty much made-to-order however you like it…but also HUGE.  I’ve never seen anyone finish an omelet at Mom’s.

Another aspect of Mom’s that I like is the fact that they also serve dishes that are sometimes considered outside the traditional, homestyle breakfast.  They serve Migas (scrambled eggs with tortilla strips, onions, tomatoes, and sometimes green peppers), Breakfast tacos (sausage/egg, steak/egg, bacon/egg), Machacas (these are basically migas with steak cooked in) served with tortillas and salsa, etc.  I have had all of these varieties and have yet to find anything bad to say about them.  Everything is cooked to order, so you are always assured that you are getting your order fresh, just-made, from the kitchen.  I’ve had the Eggs Benedict, which I was hesitant to order, but surprisingly pleased with the rich, full flavors of their Hollandaise sauce served over sliced ham and English Muffin.  On more than one other occasion, I have enjoyed the corned beef hash and scrambled eggs, which are cooked with diced onions – adding a salty savory flavoring combo that pairs well with juice.

As I mentioned before, we mainly frequent Mom’s for the amazing breakfast fare, but have on a couple of occasions ordered lunch while dining there.  I have had their catfish, which I found to be quite tasty – not over-breaded and not over-fried – and served with coleslaw and fried okra.  I have also been there at “brunchtime” and wanted breakfast while wanting lunch at the same time.  I ordered, one time, a fried egg burger (that is NOT on the menu), and they made it exactly to my specifications – once again another amazing meal.  The flavors of the hamburger – patty cooked perfectly, with mayo, lettuce, tomato – paired with the rich flavors of a fried egg over-medium created for me the perfect combination of breakfast and lunch.

The service is always fantastic, and we’ve been going there long enough now that the staff and servers know us when we walk into the door, where we are greeted with a wave, a “hi, come on in and sit down,” or even a hug from our favorite server and friend.  The prices are very affordable, as this is a no-nonsense hole-in-the-wall that is nestled in between a nail salon and a karate studio in a strip center.  You can take kids there and not have a problem finding something on the menu that they will like.  Tables and chairs, as well as booths, line the small space, plain but functional and lending to the old diner feel of the place.  They’ll provide you with never empty coffee, as well as water, soda, tea, or juice.  Definitely worth putting into your GPS and going to check them out – and don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a table on the weekends….the place is busier than most probably realize, judging from the average look to the place.  If you go, ask for Melissa, and tell them Tanya and Erikka sent you.

Mom’s Cafe  

3108 Old Denton Road, Suite #112 / Carrollton, Tx. 75007

Phone:  972.492.0004

Tanya’s French Comte’ Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese

Not too long ago, I made my first ever mac & cheese from scratch.  Prior to this experience, I had always and only made mac & cheese from a box labeled Kraft.  Well, after making my own from scratch – twice now – I will NEVER make or eat mac & cheese from a box again.  It’s just too easy to make it myself, and it tastes oh so much better!  The first time I made it, I watched a chef on Food Network make a fancy three-cheese version, and I tweaked it to our tastes and made it with Smoked Gouda, Gruyere, and Sea Salt Cheddar.  It was OMG SO GOOD.  This afternoon I decided to make it again, but didn’t want to spend as much on the cheese as I had before, so off to Market Street I went.  With some help and samplings from the amazing cheese goddess, I was soon on my way home with ingredients in hand.  She showed me a French version, somewhat, of Gruyere cheese (which is Swiss) – the difference was amazing:  softer, creamier, milder, and WAY less expensive.  I was sold, and you will be, too – this dish was amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 1 block of Smoked Gouda cheese, grated (yields 1-2 cups)
  • 1 block of French Comte’ cheese, grated (yields 1-2 cups)
  • 2 cups milk (I used Almond Milk, Vanilla unsweetened – helps with my allergies)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • Sea Salt, about 1 tsp.
  • White Pepper, about 1/2 tsp.
  • Heart Healthy Pasta, the shape of your choice (I like the kind that looks like corkscrews)
  • Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Bacon Bits

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In saucepan, cook pasta until water is boiling and pasta is tender (add 1 tsp. of oil to prevent sticking)
  • In a large pot, melt butter and mix with flour
  • Pour all of the milk in; cook until just about to boil, stirring occasionally
  • Mix in grated cheese and stir until all cheeses are melted and blended well with the milk sauce; add sea salt and white pepper
  • Mix in cooked pasta with cheese sauce; stir together well
  • Pour cheesy pasta into casserole dish; top with Panko Breadcrumbs and Bacon Bits
  • Cook in oven until top is crunchy and cheese sauce is bubbling slightly
  • Serve and enjoy!

Healthy Potato Latkes

Last year during Hanukkah, we were trying to teach our youngest some of the traditions of the holiday, along with stories, games, and food.  We had been eating a very low-calorie and low-carb diet for a couple of months prior to that, so we were perplexed as to how we could make traditional Hanukkah fare:  Potato latkes.  Well, we found a recipe on Real Simple’s website for latkes that you bake, rather than frying in oil – yay!  Here are the stats (per serving):

  • Calcium:  5 mg.
  • Calories:  50
  • Carbs:  8 g.
  • Cholesterol:  18 mg.
  • Fat:  2 g.
  • Fiber:  1 g.
  • Protein:  1 mg.
  • Sodium:  104 mg.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large pkg. shredded hash browns (or you can make your own, using 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes)
  • 1 med. red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Applesauce and sour cream, for serving

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 450 degrees; spray baking sheets and set aside
  • Place the thawed hash browns in a large bowl with the onion, flour, salt, pepper, eggs, and tbsp. of oil.  Toss to mix well
  • Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets and press lightly to make patties
  • Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom; turn the latkes with a metal spatula and rotate the baking sheets.  Bake another 5 minutes or until golden
  • Transfer to a platter and serve with the applesauce and/or sour cream

Wayne’s Pumpkin Smash

This is a recipe that we found this past Thanksgiving, posted online by Hungry Girl.  We had been fiercely dieting and losing weight, and didn’t want to blow it when confronted with all of the holiday foods from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  So we found a recipe to a crustless pumpkin pie, and then we tweaked it to be able to use Truvia rather than sugar or Splenda.  Here are the stats (per serving):

  • 65 calories
  • <0.5g fat
  • 81 mg. sodium
  • 12g carbs
  • 1g fiber
  • 7g sugars
  • 5g protein
  • Points value:  1

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk, reduced fat or fat-free
  • 1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters)
  • 18 packets Truvia sweetener
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Fat-free Cool Whip

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients in large bowl or mixer and mix thoroughly
  • Place mixture in a baking dish (8″ x 8″ works well) sprayed lightly with nonstick spray; bake for 45 minutes (it will remain a little soft, like pie filling)
  • Once ready to serve (it’s delicious eaten hot or cold), cut into 9 pieces.
  • Spoon Cool Whip on top and serve.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have had many different chicken tortilla soups over the years, but truthfully and unashamedly I prefer my own.  I don’t have the stats on this, but I know it is fairly low-calorie, and if you want lower carb counts, you CAN leave the tortillas out of the soup and it will taste almost the same (and yes, I’ve done it both ways).

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 (6 inch) white corn tortillas, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1 (20 oz. ) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 5-6 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into small pieces
  • Tortilla chips or homemade tortilla crispy strips (I do the latter)
  • Shredded cheddar-jack cheese
  • Avocado slices

Directions:

  • In a large stock pot, heat vegetable oil.  Add tortillas, garlic, cilantro and onion.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  • Add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, and chicken stock.  Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add salt and cayenne.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes, remove bay leaves, and stir in chicken pieces.  Heat through and serve.
  • Ladle into individual serving bowls; garnish with shredded cheese and avocado slices, to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips or homemade crispy tortilla strips.

Low-Cal Coleslaw

When making the low-cal pulled pork, I wanted to find a recipe for coleslaw, since it goes hand in hand with bbq, as far as I’m concerned.  Well, bless her heart, Hungry Girl came to the rescue again with her “Slaw of Attraction” recipe.  Here are the stats (per serving):

  • Calories:  49
  • Fat:  <0.5 g
  • Sodium:  304 mg.
  • Carbs:  9.5 g
  • Fiber:  2 g
  • Sugars:  5 g
  • Protein:  1.25 g
  • Points value:  1

Ingredients:

  • One 16-oz. pkg. cole slaw mix, dry
  • 1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijonnaise
  • 2 no-calorie sweetener packets (I use Truvia, but Splenda, Stevia, etc. can be used also)
  • 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt (I didn’t use it to try and keep sodium down)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • To make the dressing, combine mayo, sour cream, rice vinegar, Dijonnaise, sweetener, and seasoned salt; Mix well.
  • Place cole slaw mix in large bowl; add dressing and stir until all of the slaw is thoroughly coated.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (for best flavor, make slaw the night before you plan to serve it).  Then give it a good stir, add season to taste with salt and pepper.