NO WAIT….that’s too much!

Hi everyone.


Back again.  I finished up my ‘bucket list’ item from about 10 days ago, and have mostly recovered from the experience.  The event was a 4-day beat-a-thin where I attempted to earn my Krav Maga Black Belt.  For those unfamiliar with the fighting system, it’s tough as nails, seen by most as the system most effective for street fights, and is exceptionally hard for one to earn the rank of Black Belt.  The test was 30+ hours of a barely controlled street fight over 4 days, featuring a variety of weapons (baseball bats, handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives, etc.).  That’s where I’ve been; in the land of overindulgence.

That’s why I thought today’s post might be a good way to talk a bit about portions.   We’re going to use soup for that.  The dish is a homemade recreation (by my GF) of that Italian chain restaurant’s famous pasta e fagioli soup.  This one featured turkey instead of beef, and was made to be a tad lighter.  Otherwise, you pretty much can find a good recipe online.

I plated it two ways, and you’ll note based on the asymmetry of the placemats on the table, it was done quickly.  It’s served with a mixed green salad, some breadsticks, and an Arnold Palmer beverage.  This is one of my favorite dishes that my GF makes, and I was exceedingly hungry, which is why I rushed the presentation on the table!  🙂

Here’s the first plating, and is a smaller portion, for the times where you’re going to serve the soup as a straight appetizer.



The soup is served in a nifty square bowl (I think I got them at Macy’s), and just by putting it on a diagonal on another plate, you have some interesting things happening to make the dish look a little fancier.  It’s an easy way to add something else to the food itself.  Not much garnish was necessary.  I just added a touch of shredded romano cheese for a little savory flavor to cap off the soup.

Now, if you’re planning on soup being ‘the meal,’ you’ll want to plate up a bit more.  I reached for my GF’s main soup bowls which are beautiful, simple, and elegant.  You could also do the same thing, and add a plate underneath the one holding the food.  When mixing geometric shapes, you’ll have to play it by instinct.  Some people don’t like mixing shapes.  You do whatever you want!  It’s your food, and your home!  If it feels right, plate it up!


Same setup with the salad, breadsticks, and Arnold Palmer.  But its definitely a bigger plate.  That’s the cool thing about having slightly different plates available to you.  You don’t need to buy everything at once, either.  I learned a good tip from another blogger.  If you want to show off your food, or plating skills, buy a pair of whatever dishes you want, and really use them on your table, or in your photos for a few months. Then if you like how they work for you, splurge and complete a full set for 4-8 adults, as you desire.

Now get out there, do some good cooking, and make it some soup this week.  It’s getting cold again out there for most of us in the US.  Soup is an excellent way to keep everyone warm and comfortable!





Who ya got: Denver or Seattle?

Yes, its time for THAT game again!  I don’t know about you, but it always breaks out the need to make some killer grub and have some buddies over to watch.  So, how do you balance the elegant ‘simplicity’ often desired by your male friends, while you respect the ladies may not want to risk you double-dipping in the nacho dip?

Got an idea or two for you.  First one come from the lovely Jess over at “Forgiving Martha.”  Here’s the link: The caprese bites are right near the top of the page.  You’re gonna love it!


The caprese bites are delicious and always add some great color to whatever plate your guests are eating off of.  I know plenty of dudes that dig these ‘eats,’ although the ladies are usually drawn to them, as well.  It has the benefit of being gluten free, and veggie-adjacent.  Yeah, yeah, bull milk for the cheese, yeah yeah.  It’s just good, and looks fantastic on the plate.  This one would be a great one to have a kid from ages 7-11 help out, since they’ll have good enough coordination to assist at that age.  Then during the game, you can give props to your kid for the great help.  It’s a win-win for the family; doesn’t get any better!

Second one today couldn’t be simpler:  Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus.  C’mon…everything is better with bacon!  You’ll look like a total king serving this dish at your place!  Thanks to the the lovely Michelle over at Healthy Recipe Extacy for this great suggestion.  You’ll find the pic about 1/4 of the way down the page:


This is so easy to make, even a knuckle-dragger like me can get it done, and look classy while rocking my team shirt for the big game.  Note that this is served on paper plates, and like most of my football-related events, that’s just fine.  For a guy, this is heaven!  Oh, and sorry, guys…she’s not single.

Don’t worry, I’ve got one final treat for you to sink your teeth into for an appetizer.  The lovely Brit Moran over at Brit & Co serves up a great football themed version of potato skins created by Nanette Wong.  It’s near the top of the page here:

The only thing here that sort of violates my general principles of plating here is that there’s event-specific plates involved.  Note some of the appetizers are served on a plate that looks like a football field/pitch (some of us like soccer/football too), which is a little ‘fancy for the sake of being fancy,’ and you know how I feel about that.  But c’mon, how great does that LOOK??


In this case, I don’t so much mind the paper plates.  Football Sunday usually means eating on paper plates anyway, so why the heck not?  Think of it as dressing your food appropriately for the crowd you’re expecting.  This page also has a neat idea for deviled eggs that are football shaped, too, even if it looks like a bit more work to get done.  I’m quite sure the recipes are insanely great!

I’m going to go silent through the weekend, as I’ve got a bucket-list activity coming up over the next 4 days.  See you early next week, as we start looking at some easy to prepare/plate romantic options now that Valentine’s Day approaches!


One fine piece of fish (Salmon)

Hi Gang!


Ordinarily, I’m not the biggest fan of taking an image of a meal plated by a chain restaurant, because typically the photo shoot is highly produced, and may give a false sense of the speed of plating once a meal is completely cooked.  Having said that, I’m going to make an exception here, because this is just ridiculous!




That is plating perfection.  You basically take the cooking implement (cedar plank) and place it on the plate itself.  Totally simple.  Throw in some grilled vegetables and you’re totally set.  I believe this would probably qualify as Paleo as well, but for the tasty stuff riding on the salmon.  The recipe shows it to be lump crab cake, so I’m guessing there will be something in there that’s non-Paleo.

Just fine for our purposes.  Making the comment about the diet since I have many friends/readers who are into this lifestyle.

The pic itself comes directly from the He-Geek/She-Geek blog found at:

They apparently went to Carraba’s Italian Grill for that meal, so I’m going to credit that chain as the origin of the photo, although I’m referencing He-Geek/She-Geek as the spot where I found it. 

I’m also going to look for something similar as far as barbecue goes.  Remember, I’m a Texan, so that will mean beef, and not pork.  Barbecue is about the cow, and not the pig, to Texans.  Be nice!  They’re both delicious critters, and will get credit over the life of this blog.  🙂

Now get out there and have yourself a great Monday!




Dusting good stuff on your plate (Part Deux)

Hi guys/gals!


Short post today, but it was important to follow up the last one that had several nifty ideas.  Here’s a post from the lovely and talented Beti Vanills (  She takes adding a dusting of good stuff on your plate one step beyond.




This is such a great idea, and so easy to pull off.  You guys should give it a try for dessert tomorrow!  Okay, I’ve got to get going for the evening.  Posts the next 2 weeks will be sporadic as I’m in the home stretch of training for my Krav Maga black belt test.  It’ll be 40 hours of serious pounding in the days leading up to (and including) Groundhog Day this year, so I’ll be a little preoccupied in my waking hours until it’s done.  Once that’s over, we’ll get back to more frequent postings about plating.

The GF & I are working up some great recipes and will be stocking up photos of our meals to share with you, so stick around!



Dessert garnish ideas: Beautiful AND Easy!

Okay, these ideas are SO good, I’m not even including food pics in most cases today.  What we DO have are pics of simple techniques to garnish your dessert plate look crazy-good, with a minimum of effort.

As always, not fancy for fancy sake.  But if you happen to have something around that’ll take all of 5 seconds to add a little splash to your plate, you win!

Up first is a pic from the good peeps at “More Style than Cash.”  Don’t worry, as usual, I’ll include the link in a sec.  What they did is basically cut up a piece of construction paper, laid it across the plate, and dusted cocoa/chocolate powder on the plate.  Probably took all of 10 seconds to get the scissors, cut the paper, another 10 seconds to lay it across the plate and sprinkle on the cocoa.  What could be easier?


You can find the original photo, and other great ideas on this link:

Next is a variation on this idea, special for the kids.  This pic is from “Mealtime Success” and does the same basic trick with either pre-baked cookies laid on a plate, or possibly  the exact same technique of a hand-cut piece of paper.  When its this easy, why WOULDN’T you make your plate pop?


The power couple running this site (Sri & Anu) have several easy ideas for how to make the plate fun and interesting for kids and adults, too.  Be sure to check out their site for great garnish ideas!:

In earlier posts, I used techniques similar to what you see here on Emily Tatak’s web site (


This doily idea for improving the plate surprised me.  It’s a slightly more involved version of what you saw in the earlier pics, but WOW does it make the plate look great!  I’m keeping this idea for a dessert down the road, but I’ll wait to tell you what I’m using it on.

You’ll recognize a couple of techniques she demonstrates on her page from some of my earlier blog posts.  Great ideas are hard to keep down, and all you need is a few extra seconds to make a meal visually appealing!

Okay, today’s post sends you to some great sites, so be sure and stock up on dessert ideas for future use!  We’ll get back to main dishes in another day or so.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!


Empanadas (Sweet AND savory)

Hi everyone.

So a little background.  Growing up as a Mexican/American in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood, I grew up enjoying empanadas.  The interesting thing about this little factoid is that I grew up enjoying SWEET ones only; usually pumpkin and sometimes pineapple.  It never occurred to me that you could make savory ones until I got to college.  I know, I’m occasionally slow.

Anyhow, today we’ve got some vegetarian empanadas (asparagus/fava bean) right at the top.  These come to us courtesy from (


The 1/2 moon shape of these delicious treats looks fantastic on a plate.  These look to have a pie-crimp style of sealing the empanadas.  So if you’ve baked pies before, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting these to ‘pop’ on your plate.

You’ll notice that most of the plates I’ve shown thus far are white, and basic shapes.  This plate fits the food perfectly.  It’s a highly patterned plate which compliments the fine crimping work done on the empanadas.  Again, it’s not fancy for the sake of being fancy, but it IS done well!

So on top of your normal plates you use daily for your kick-butt plating, keep a set of fancier plates for special occasions and holidays, so when you go all out on making the food look/taste amazing, you’ll have plates that have just a bit of flourish to compliment what you’re cooking.

Up next, we’ve got a recipe for baked chicken, bean, and cheese empanadas.  These look a little less

adorned along the edge where they were sealed; yours truly likes to use the fork to get a good crimp/seal on my own empanadas.


This is another case where the plate isn’t a solid color.  But again, please note the plate isn’t so ‘busy’ that it detracts from your food that you spent a good amount of time cooking.  Before I forget, here’s the link to the $10 Buck Dinners site – where you will find this great (and inexpensive) meal.  A touch of salad, and the nicely browned empanadas give your plate plenty of color for eye appeal.

This next one was my favorite for the day.  It’s a baked beef empanada brought to you from the good people over at The Little Ferraro Kitchen (


As much as I liked the first plate for serving this dish ‘family style,’ I like this presentation better.  While I’m not 100% certain empanadas are seen only as ‘peasant food,’ I know they are definitely a delicious and rustic meal in most cases.  So the simple cutting board plating method is a cool way to add a little relaxed, old-world style to your meal.  And hey…who doesn’t have a cutting board lying around?

We’ll get back to using a nifty presentation tool for food in the next couple of days.  For your Friday, simple, delicious, and self-contained food for you to enjoy.

Be sure to try these recipes for yourself and let me know how it goes.  Have a great weekend, everyone!


How about some Stir Fry?

Hi folks.

Welcome to 2014!  Been on vacation visiting the family and wound up under the weather for a good chunk of the holidays as a bonus.  For me, it made a good deal of sense to not publish lousy posts in the interim.  That’s all past now, so let’s get back to some killer plating.

In my experience, plating stir fry is VERY “guy friendly” because it’s one of the types of meals that you can really put on a variety of plates, and still have it really POP on the dinner table.

The GF and I took a stab at making a simple chicken & vegetable stir fry with a lemon sauce, and we plated it on our basic white plates, as you see below.  We have both an individual serving (which we served on salad plates for some reason), and the larger family-style dish.

Stir Fry (Single)Stir Fry (family)

They were quite delicious and I won’t bore you with the intricacies of the recipe here.  Oh, BTW, the sauce on the plate…store bought (GASP!).  I know, you’re shocked.  🙂

I like the plating because it only used a biscuit cutter to make the rice look cool.  I thought the GF did a better job with her plating than I did, so no pic of my dish this time.  Hey, when the GF is right, she’s WAY right!

Up next are samples of plating a similar dish (chicken & veggie stir fry).  The different colors of the vegetables means that you can really put this dish on almost any color and shape of plate, and it will match up and not look odd.

And guys, I’m talking to YOU here!  Some of you, if you were anything like me, inherited a mashup of different kinds of plates once you got out of college.  Some stuff you may have picked up when you got “into” Asian stuff (be it furniture, plates, wall hangings, etc.).  Or, maybe your sister got married, her friends gave her higher-end plates from a somewhat fancy schmancy store like Sur la Table or Pottery Barn, and you wound up with her leftovers.

It’s cool!  With a basic stir fry recipe (and yeah, you can buy a stir-fry-in-a-bag thing from the grocery store’s frozen food section), and almost any kind of plate, you’re going to look fantastic.  So here are a few examples of plating this dish on different plates.  Some of the stir fry images are Thai, Chinese, and I think there’s a pic of a chain in here.

5f5b47b5-2629-4d04-bc01-3554aea1d73d orange chicken chinease resturant food with stir fry vegetables and brown rice with words picqngYu8 stir-fry-3

My apologies to the “orange chicken” image owner.  I think that one belongs to a chain, but I’m having trouble finding the link again to give proper credit. If anyone can find that pic and give me a link, I’ll happily insert it here to give proper credit.

But do you see what I mean about the different KINDS of plates here?  Some are squared, some are curved, and another is rectangular. The very cool thing is that because of the wide color variety in the dish itself, it is very easy to put it on different plates, and since many bachelor’s are in the shoes I wore in my 20’s & early 30’s…guys, trust me: THIS type of dish will pop, no matter what plate you put it on.

So bring your gorgeous date over for a home cooked meal, even if it started in a bag. You’re going to look like a BOSS when you plate it up.

By the way, I totally recommend using a biscuit cutter or a bowl to portion and then serve the rice (inverted) on your plate if you’re not going to use the rice as a ‘bed’ for the stir fry!

Thanks for not going away on me and please help spread the word for this blog so we can grow it together in 2014!