Coal Vines Opens in Plano

Did you know that Americans eat 350 slices of pizza every second? Pizza is a $30 billion-a-year industry. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?

Today, Coal Vines, a coal-fired pizza bistro from restaurateurs Joe Palladino and Phil Romano, opens at The Shops of Legacy in Plano. The original Uptown restaurant and wine bar opened in 2006. Executive Chef of the original Coal Vines as well as Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse and Nick and Sam’s Grill Samir Dhuradhar developed and oversaw the menu.

The menu offers a Smoked Salmon Tartar, a gorgeous and delicious tower of ruby salmon cubes layered with goat cheese, fresh avocado and splashed with a pomegranate vinaigrette. Other starters and appetizers include prosciutto-stuffed Mozzarella Sticks (which were good but I couldn’t taste the prosciutto), delicious Seafood Risotto Cakes, fresh Bruschetta and cheesy Garlic Bread.

Smoked Salmon Tartar
Bruchetta, Garlic Bread, Seafood Risotto Cakes, Mozzarella Sticks (clockwise)

Coal Vines limits its menu to six traditional pies. They’re simple creations: four are vegetarian-friendly and the meaty remainder — a Bolognese version with a thick blanket of meat sauce and a very tasty sausage with roasted red peppers. The crust on the pizzas are thin and crispy. The prices are very reasonable, and a perfect place to go for a first date or a girls’ night out.

Sausage & Roasted Pepper Pizza
Coal Vines
7300 Lone Star Drive Suite
Plano, TX 75024

Texas Restaurant News Update: Larry Klinghoffer, the developer of this Coal Vines, said they are looking to open more Coal Vines in Texas soon…Austin & Sugarland, you’re next 🙂

Healthy Habits Help!

Today about 1 in 3 children (ages 2-19) in the United States are already overweight or obese. 

Obese & overweight children are at risk for serious health problems like type 2 diabetes, asthma and heart failure. Extra weight can make it harder to breathe and can inflame the respiratory tract. Also, being overweight or out of shape makes the heart work harder. This breaks my heart to hear that children are suffering, and WE can do something to change this.

How can reverse this trend? 

Health and nutrition starts at home. Make sure your children are eating five or more servings of fruit and green vegetables. There are great cookbooks coming out like Deceptively Delicious that help you incorporate this into your child’s meals. Don’t expect the schools to feed your child well, as we see on TV shows like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Get rid or at least minimize your child’s fats, sugars, salt and calorie intact. Some of the easiest foods to feed our children are the worse for them. They may help you now, but there will be consequence in the long run.

Finally, get your kids out and moving. Did you know that 92% of elementary schools do not have daily physical education (PE) classes year-round? On top of that, nearly 1/3 of elementary schools do not schedule recess on a regular basis. Hello?! Recess is every child’s favorite subject 😉 Recess is not merely “child’s play,” but rather that it’s hard for children to learn without a morning break as they get antsy and less focused after long periods of sitting.

How are you going to help stop this epidemic?

Cupcakes Are A Smashing Success!

With Cupcake Camp Dallas less than a week away, I think it’s fitting for me to share my top 5 cupcake bakeries found courtesy of Bizzy, a local business recommendation website & mobile app based on the favorite places of people like you. To test the strength, accuracy and reliability of Bizzy recommendations, they created “Top Secret Mission #1: Cupcakes.”

Mission: Use Bizzy to identify your Top 5 recommendations for cupcakes. Further identify the best recommendation based on the quality of the cupcakes available at those five venues.

Details: Cupcake quality is to be determined by this specific methodology.

  • Obtain one “specialty of the house” cupcake from each bakery.
  • Observe and document the aesthetic beauty of each cupcake.
  • Note the “enticement of smell factor” of each cupcake.
  • Determine the “smashability” of each cupcake by smooshing it on your face.
  • Assess the flavor by sampling what is left of the cupcake.

  • Here are the results:

    Fortunately for me, none of these places will be at Cupcake Camp Dallas. The family looks forward to trying out more local bakeries and “amateur” bakers’ cupcakes this weekend. What is your favorite cupcakery? What’s your favorite flavor?

    Whiskey Cake Impresses!

    I was pleasantly surprised by the new addition to Plano called Whiskey Cake.  Since I’m known amongst my friends as a locavore (a person who are interested in eating food that is locally produced),  I was recommended this place because it is known for its farm-to-kitchen cooking and boosts local grass & grain fed cattle.

    From the folks behind Bolsa comes comfort food with rustic touches like stacked firewood and dangling bulbs. We started off with fried green tomatoes, which were crispy, well-seasoned and not too thick to overwhelm the tomato. To read more on this appetizer, click here

    We ordered grass-n-grain-fed beef OMG Burger (topped with an onion ring & roasted crimini mushrooms), BBQ Bahn Mi (smoked pulled pork, sweet & tangy veggies, arugula and cilantro between a crispy baguette) and Shrimp with Grits which were perfection.


    Finally, you can’t go to Whiskey Cake without trying their Whiskey Cake. It is absolutely FABULOUS! It is served warm and is moist and very flavorful. It comes with homemade whipped cream on the side.

    Whiskey Cake
    3601 Dallas Parkway
    Plano, TX 75093

    FREE FryDay & Other Hot News

    As a mom who frequents Chick-fil-A, I’m excited to see them expand their breakfast menu to offer the Spicy Chicken Biscuit. The Spicy Chicken Biscuit revealed itself to be the same spicy chicken patty Chick-fil-A uses for lunch, minus the bun and pickles. Did you know that they prepare their biscuits in house? The Feast shows you how they make the Spicy Chicken Biscuit. The flavor of Chick-fil-A’s biscuit gets masked by the chicken patty’s spiciness, as well as the crispiness of the breading. Today only before 10:30 a.m., all 70+ Dallas/Ft. Worth-area Chick-fil-A locations are giving away FREE Spicy Chicken Biscuits, but you must say “Eat Mor Spicy!”

    Want to win free Chick-fil-A breakfast for a year? Enter the Bovine Breakfast Brigade by liking ChickfilADFW on facebook or following ChickfilA_DFW on twitter and use the hashtag #BovineBrigade before Friday, March 11, 2011!

    For those of you not up early in the morning, don’t fret! Nationally, Chick-fil-A is offering a free medium order of waffle fries from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today in celebration of the launch of Heinz® Dip & Squeeze™ Ketchup. The packages allow customers to either, well, dip or squeeze their ketchup. It also holds three times more ketchup than a traditional single-serve packet. Mention you’re trying the new Heinz Dip & Squeeze and get one free medium order of Waffle Potato Fries™.

    Tell me what you think of the Heinz® Dip & Squeeze™ Ketchup 
    or the Spicy Chicken Biscuit!

    How Big is Starbucks Trenta?

    “Trenta” means thirty in Italian. Starbucks announced earlier this year their largest-ever drink size: the TRENTA. Right now, it is only offered for iced coffees, iced teas and iced lemonades. But how big is it?

    Have any of you tried a Starbucks Trenta and lived to tell the tale?

    Bravo’s Top Chefs Must-Have Ingredients

    Last night, I was the host and provided commentary on a “Quickfire Challenge” between Top Chef Season 7 contestants Tiffany Derry & Ed Cotton to benefit Dallas Furniture Bank. If you are not familiar with Bravo’s Top Chef, a Quickfire Challenge is where the chefs must create a seafood dish in 20-minutes. They are able to request items that they’d like in their “pantry” to make their dish.

    This lead me to wonder what are the must-have items that chefs always have at home. Chef Tiffany Derry always has on hand dijon, creole mustard, champagne vinegar, kosher salt and Creole seasoning.

    Chef Ed Cotton focuses more on the big picture and prefers ground meat, taco shells, fresh produce and some canned beans to create a Mexican fiesta.

    What are your must-have items at home to season up your food or items needed to make an easy meal?

    P.S. Chef Tiffany Derry is busy planning her next restaurant in Uptown across the street from Bread Winners called “Private Social” this summer.

    Rosebud’s Restaurant Is Sweetness

    Officially known as Rosebud’s Giftique & Bakery, the sweet little family-owned cafe was packed at lunch time when I decided to dine. The restaurant serves homemade soups, salads & sandwiches, and the bakery counter is full of freshly made brownies, cookies, cakes & ice box pies. There were a couple of regulars who told me that they love the “Turkey Reuben” and not to forget to enjoy a slice of fresh pie.


    I ordered “The Rosebud Plate,” which offers four finger sandwiches, a cup of soup, deli salad, fresh fruit salad and a choice of dessert or truffle. I really enjoyed Brian’s Special Chicken Salad which included red grapes, pineapples, dried cranberries and walnuts.  The corn chowder soup was delicious. But, the show stopper was the chocolate cream pie, filled with a wonderful balance of bitter & sweet chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream. It was the  perfect ratio of filling to cream.

    I will definitely be back to enjoy this sweet cafe if not just to stop by the bakery and pick up a pie to share with others.

    Rosebud’s Giftique & Bakery
    5600 West Lovers Lane 
    Dallas, TX 75209 

    Dallas Gets Lucky with The Clover®

    Only once in a while does a true innovation like this come along.

    A few years ago, The Clover® brewing system changed the game on coffee brewing. It’s an “innovative design that lets you discover new layers and dimensions within a coffee’s familiar aroma, flavor, body and acidity. The result is a deeper experience – one that’s carefully prepared and made to order, one cup at a time.” So far, the only place in town that you can find the Clover® is at the Knox Street Starbucks.

    *It should be noted that I am not being compensated by Starbucks for this review, only caffeinated! This is just an opinion of a coffee aficionado. 🙂 Let me know what you think!

    Creamy Corn Casserole

    4 tablespoons butter, softened (or microwave 1/4 cup, but allow to cool before mixing with egg – or will scramble the egg)
    2 eggs
    8 oz. package of cream cheese
    1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    1/2 cup finely chopped red or green bell peppers
    1 pkg frozen whole kernel corn, defrosted
    1 (14.75 oz.) can cream style corn
    1 package (8.5 oz.) corn muffin mix
    1/2 pound cheddar cheese
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 can green chiles, chopped
    Crumbled bacon (optional)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Pull out butter, eggs, and cream cheese out of refrigerator. Set aside to reach room temperature and soften. Open cans of corn and chiles. Chop onions, bell pepper and shredded cheddar cheese.

    In a small skillet, add 1-2 tablespoons of butter, saute peppers and onions, until tender. Set aside. Combine the softened butter, eggs, and cream cheese in a large bowl, stirring with whisk until smooth. With a spoon, stir in the onion and peppers mixture, corn and chile. Stir until combined. Add muffin mix, cheese and black pepper.

    Butter 11×7 baking dish and pour in the mixture. Sprinkle with the optional bacon, if desired. Bake for 55 minutes or until the top is golden brown.