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Herb and Goat Cheese Red Potato Pierogi

January 27, 2016

Homemade pierogis take time, but they are always worth the effort. In this recipe, each pierogi is filled with fresh herbs, goat cheese and mashed red potatoes. It’s a meal that is complemented by the crisp, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc I received from Cultivar Wine.
Herb and Goat Cheese Red Potato Pierogi Recipe | Fake Food Free
My husband and I have been together for 19 years, and I can’t recall going out to dinner on any Valentine’s Day. 

Despite being a big fan of the holiday, the idea of going out has always been unappealing. The pressure to make it special, being surrounded by loads of other couples, the same food we could get the weekend before for double the price. 

Have I made my case yet?

Instead of all that, I cook. Usually it’s something that takes a bit of work; a favorite food made from scratch.

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Berlin Christmas Markets: Raclette and Baumkuchen

December 11, 2015

Baumkuchen at WeihnachtsZauber auf dem Gendarmenkt | Berlin Christmas Markets | Fake Food Free Travels

I like to say I travel for food instead of saying I travel to eat. Many people probably think there isn’t a difference, but there is. At least that is what I tell myself. 

I don’t set out on a trip with the goal of eating copious amounts of food, but I do set out to explore as many unique food experiences as I possibly can. If that means also eating the food, well so be it. I won’t complain. 

It’s hard to explain how inspiring it is to make a brand new food discovery that you haven’t seen in your travel to 20 countries if a person just doesn’t get it. But I’ll keep trying because it’s experiences like these that motivate me to travel to new places.

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What to Eat and Drink at Berlin Christmas Markets

December 9, 2015

What to Eat and Drink at Berlin Christmas Markets | Fake Food Free Travels

After visiting our first Christmas market in Europe in 2013, I feared this might happen. Then we went again in 2014 and I knew there was no escaping it.

My brain has permanently redefined the holiday season.

Now, if you look up the definition of the holidays in my head, you will find Christmas markets in Vienna, Krakow and also Copenhagen and Berlin.

This is Christmas. 

The lights, the jolly attitudes, the crowds, an evening standing in the freezing cold and actually enjoying it, and of course, the food and drink.

Now, nothing says Christmas to me like experiencing one of those markets. 

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Krakow Christmas Market

December 10, 2014

Our holiday visit didn’t stop in Vienna. The Krakow Christmas Market in Poland was equally as exciting with one of a kind food experiences!

                                     Krakow Christmas Market | Fake Food Free #travel #christmas #Poland 

As I stand in the town center of Krakow, I wonder why a visit to Poland had not been higher on my travel list. It was always there, but tucked beneath what I thought were more intriguing destinations.

I take my first steps into the market and I see a stand selling pierogi. No surprise there. I am in Poland after all.

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Visiting Vienna Christmas Markets

December 8, 2014

If you have ever been tempted to visit Christmas markets in Europe, I hope this post will convince you to finally book the trip. We spent time in Vienna last December and the experience left me speechless. After a year to gather my thoughts, I’m sharing the highlights with what to drink and eat when visiting Vienna Christmas Markets.

Visiting the Vienna Christmas Markets | Fake Food Free

I haven’t fully decided how I feel about the term bucket list. I’m not a huge fan, but that might just be because it is so popular and overused. At the same time, I lack an appropriate name for my list of places to see in this world.

Must-go, must-see, travel list? They all feel rather boring. Especially with the places that I have on my list. I feel like the name needs to match the magnitude of the experiences.

So while I’m searching for a name, I’m slowly progressing through my list (whatever it is called).

A big, and I mean huge, destination for me, became a reality last December. We’ve been to Vienna a few times now and it remains one of my favorite places in the world, but I’ve always wanted to go in December to see the Christmas markets.

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8 Best Cocktails for New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2013
After two weeks of travel to visit New York City, explore the Christmas markets in Vienna and Krakow, and spend time with family in Indiana and Kentucky, I’m back at my computer. 
2013 has been so amazing I can hardly put it into words. I’m sure I’ll miss some things, but here are a few highlights.
Aside from how wonderful it is to now be a California resident, I also live by the water with access to fresh seafood and salty air. Something I’ve always wanted to do.
I ran my first marathon. (And I ran it across this.)
My husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage.
I landed my first magazine column. (You can find it at Hobby Farm Home.)
I’ve finally (successfully) transitioned into a full-time freelancer. Writing about food, developing recipes and taking food photos is now my job. 
I got to gaze in awe at Lake Tahoe for my 35thbirthday. 
I was able to show my family around the Bay Area on their first visit to California.
I saw New York City at Christmas time.
I explored the Christmas markets of Vienna and Krakow.
What a year! I have no idea how 2014 is going to top it, but I’m convinced that it will.
A great year deserves a special toast. So here are 8 of my favorite cocktails to help you close out 2013 and ring in the New Year. Some are here on Fake Food Free, and others are from the work I’ve done for the blog the Daily Squeeze. 
(Just click on the drink name to get to the recipe.)
Grapefruit Moon Beer Cocktail 
The Spicy Citrus
Cherry Margarita
Red Wine and Navel Orange Sangria 
Spiced Old Fashioned 
Coconut Lime Dessert Martini
Orange Bourbon Apple Cider 
Orange Cosmo on the Rocks  

What will you be toasting to on Tuesday night? Any favorite memories from 2013?
Happy New Year!!

Guinness Braised Kale with Roasted Potatoes and Poached Eggs Recipe

March 13, 2013
Guinness Braised Kale with Roasted Potatoes and Poached Eggs Recipe | Fake Food Free
It’s that time of year. The time when food bloggers everywhere pull out the Guinness, Bailey’s, Jameson and potatoes to create an Irish-inspired recipe for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m no exception.

If you’ve read my blog much at all you know that Ireland has a special place in my travel-loving heart. I’ve had the opportunity to visit three times, exploring gorgeous landscape, overdosing on amazing food and drink and even meeting bloggers. So I can’t let March 17 pass without making something that uses a few flavors from Ireland. I’m always tempted by the incredible desserts that pop up on other blogs, but I decided to go savory. This is a super simple meal, but the Guinness adds a deep flavor to the kale that tastes so good with the eggs and potatoes. Bonus, it’s perfectly suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner.


Guinness Braised Kale with Roasted Potatoes and Poached Eggs

Makes: 4 servings


10-12 red or white new potatoes, quartered
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tsp dried dill
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper

1 lb. kale, stemmed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup Guinness Extra Stout beer
¼ tsp sea salt

4 poached eggs


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, dill, sea salt and black pepper. Stir to coat the potatoes with the oil and spices. Transfer the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir the potatoes. Return to the oven and bake 15 to 25 more minutes, or until the potatoes are tender with crispy edges.

While the potatoes are baking you can prepare the kale. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the kale and garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring to coat the kale in the oil.

Add the beer. Cook 30 seconds more, or until the kale begins to wilt.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sea salt.

To assemble, divide the potatoes into 4 serving bowls, top with ¼ of the kale and finish it off with a poached egg. Serve warm. 

Guinness Braised Kale with Roasted Potatoes and Poached Eggs Recipe | Fake Food Free

I leave you with two short PSAs for this Irish holiday that we all enjoy so much in the States. # 1 It’s St. Paddy’s Day, not St. Patty’s Day. I learned this just a few short years ago, but definitely click on that link. #2 Skip the green beer and order a Guinness (or a Kilkenny, or a Smithwicks, or a Bulmer’s Cider).


Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes or images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.

Stuffed Cabbage Roll Recipe

March 6, 2013

I’m into my third month living in California, and aside from the typical missing of friends, family and horses, things are going wonderfully. Ok, a move across the country probably doesn’t include missing horses for most people, but it does when you move from Kentucky.
We’re fully unpacked, the house in Kentucky finally sold and I’m happy to say I actually feel kind of settled. As a result, we looked ahead to our travel schedule for the year. I feel a little like my entire life in California is one big travel adventure; there is so much to see here. But I’ve been aching for Europe. 
Christmas 2012 was a bit of a bust. There was no Christmas tree and very little baking due to all the packing. We squeezed in a quick trip to celebrate with family only to have it cut short by an impending snow storm. Three days later we were on a cross-country drive to California. 
I won’t lie; I’ve done my fair share of pouting ever since. I know many people are overwhelmed by the stress of the holidays, but I absolutely love that time of year. So when we talked about where we would travel this year, I insisted that Christmas be a big part of it. 
As a result, we are now scheduled for one of my ultimate, must-do, bucket list worthy experiences – the Christmas markets in Europe! Not to mention that this will be preceded by a few days in New York City to see the tree there. Then we will head over to Vienna, still one of my favorite cities in the world, and then off to Krakow, Poland. 
I don’t want to wish a year away, but I can’t hide my excitement for this trip!
In addition to all the Christmas action, my husband comes from Polish descent so we are very excited to finally travel there. And I have my mind on Polish recipes. I thought it was high time I try my hand at stuffed cabbage rolls.
Aside from the multiple steps, they are much easier to make than I expected, and this is coming from someone who is awful at rolling foods. Burritos, spring rolls, wraps – I might get one good looking roll out of 10. I’m happy to say that cabbage rolls are very forgiving when it comes to rolling them up.
This isn’t exactly a traditional recipe. It’s one I made by combining a quick look at recipes on the web with what I had on hand in the kitchen.

If you’ve never made stuffed cabbage, there are quite a few things going on at once, which I wasn’t expecting. You have to boil the head of cabbage, make the sauce, and then add some of that sauce to the filling. Just take your time and you won’t get overwhelmed. I suggest getting your cabbage leaves cooked and separated, and then concentrating on the rest of the recipe. 

Grass-fed Beef Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

1 small head green cabbage
1 tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
14 ounces diced tomatoes (fresh will work, no-salt-added if you used canned)
¼ cup red wine
1 tbsp mascavo sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ of the sautéed vegetables from the sauce (see preparation below)
½ lb grass-fed ground beef
1 cup cooked rice
2 tbsp cabbage roll sauce (above)
1 tbsp hot sauce
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Fill a large soup pot ¾ full with water. Bring to a boil. Remove any dirty or bruised outer leaves of the cabbage. Place the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water. Let it boil about 2 minutes, or until the outer leaves begin pull away from the head. 
Remove the cabbage from the water (I used a ladle). Use kitchen shears to cut off the outer leaves at the stem. They should be partially cooked and flexible. Set them aside to dry and cool. Return the head of cabbage to the boiling water. Repeat this process until you have 10 to 12 cabbage leaves.
Reserve 1 to 2 cups of the cabbage cooking water.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to brown and soften. Remove half of the vegetables from the pan and place in a glass mixing bowl. (This is for your filling.)
Back to the skillet, add the tomatoes and wine. Cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, basil and pepper. Cook 1 more minute. Stir in the 1 cup of reserved cabbage water.  
Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Add more cabbage water if you want a thinner sauce. (I used only the 1 cup.) Pour the sauce back in the skillet to keep it warm.
Add the ground beef and rice to the bowl with the reserved vegetables. Add 2 tablespoons of the finished cabbage roll sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Use a fork or your clean hands to mix the filling well. 
First spoon about ¼ cup of the tomato sauce into a 5 quart Dutch oven and spread it over the bottom of the pan. 
Place a cabbage leaf on the counter top with the inside facing up (it should curve up like a cup), and put about ¼ cup of the filling towards the stem end of the leaf. You will have to judge how much filling to use based on the size of your leaves. I had a huge variation so I used anywhere from 2 tablespoons to a ½ cup. Just ensure that it isn’t so much that it squeezes out the side.
Fold in the both sides, and starting with the stem end, roll the leaf around the filling. Place seam-side down in the Dutch oven. Repeat the process with the remaining leaves.
Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls, and cover the pot with the lid. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the cabbage has softened and the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Serves 3 to 4.

Chocolate Covered Marzipan Cookies

June 10, 2012

These marzipan cookies have a chocolate cookie outside made with raw sugars and whole grain flours that surrounds a generous filling of sweet marzipan.

Chocolate Covered Marzipan Cookies | Fake Food Free  

I love marzipan. And I realize every time I say this that I am often alone. 
I know far more people who dislike it, than those who are as crazy about it as I am. But I’m convinced there are others out there, or I wouldn’t be able to find it in chocolates and pastries every time we travel to Europe.
It all started during our first trip to Vienna, thanks to Mozart. Apparently it was his favorite, too, so anything that contains marzipan there is often called Mozart.
My favorite is the Mozart croissant, and while it isn’t exactly the same, I’m happy that I can find almond croissants here with a similar sweet, nutty filling. 
My second favorite are Mozart chocolates, or Mozartkugeln. It’s a marzipan filled chocolate or truffle. Some are a little more complex than others with different colors and even additional layers of chocolate inside. 
I think about these treats often so on our last trip to the international market, I finally picked up some marzipan. I thought of making croissants, and then chocolates. I finally ended up going a different direction – cookies.
Chocolate Covered Marzipan Cookies | Fake Food Free
These simple chocolate cookies have marzipan tucked inside. Anyone who loves it will be pleasantly surprised!

Chocolate Covered Marzipan Cookies

Makes: 12 large cookies


1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup mascavo (muscovado) sugar
1/3 cup raw sugar, plus extra for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp white whole wheat flour
~3 oz. marzipan 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Combine the butter, mascavo sugar and 1/3 cup of the Demerara sugar in the bowl of a mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium-high for about 2 minutes. Mix in the egg and the vanilla.
Next, add in the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Mix on medium, just until all ingredients are combined and a cookie dough forms. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough while you prepare the marzipan.
Divide the marzipan into 12 pieces and roll each into a small ball. Divide the cookie dough into 12 portions and surround each piece of marzipan with cookie dough. Roll the cookie in raw sugar. 
Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, cool for a couple minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely. 
Chocolate Covered Marzipan Cookies | Fake Food Free
 Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out. 

Dublin: Food Bloggers and L. Mulligan Grocer

August 10, 2011

A recap from a quick trip and an outstanding meal in Dublin, Ireland.

L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel  

We were in Dublin for all of about 15 hours. A short stop, I know, but fortunately I’d been there a couple times before.

Enough times to realize just how international the city feels. Enough times to discover some of my favorite green spaces in the world. Enough times to immerse myself in the history of attractions such as Trinity College and the Book of Kells.

And finally, enough times to know that it’s difficult to find really good food in the city center. In saying that, I mean the kind of food that doesn’t have a sign out front beckoning tourists and promising to serve real Irish cuisine.

Now, I’ve had some great food and drink in Dublin from coffee and chocolates at Butler’s to Leo Burdock’s Fish n’ Chips to scones from Queen of Tart. I’m just saying it’s difficult to find a unique dinner in 15 hours.

Unless, of course, you know a food blogger.

And I just happen to know a food blogger.

It was my pleasure to spend one of my 15 hours in Dublin with Aoife of The Daily Spud. The Daily Spud is one of those blogs I’ve been reading since my own blog began. For me, one of the originals, and one of my favorites.

During our conversation, you might expect that one of my questions was – where should we eat dinner?

As we discussed different places, Aoife kept coming back to one of her favorites – L. Mulligan Grocer. With such a glowing recommendation from someone who knows the area (and good food) well, we didn’t feel we could it could pass it up.

The location ended up being about a 20 min walk from Temple Bar. At that point in the day, we welcomed it because everywhere from Grafton Street to Temple Bar was packed with people to the point where you could barely move. It was nice to get out of the crowd.

L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

We got there for an early dinner so we were lucky to get a table. We later found out that almost all were reserved. We must have looked desperate for good Irish food.

And good Irish food it was. I encourage you to head over to their site and read a little about the restaurant to get the full story. To simplify, they use as many Irish ingredients as possible from rare-breed pork, to grass-fed beef, to seafood.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

When we sat down and I found the menus were old books in type-writer print, I couldn’t wait to read through all the selections and decide which of these local foods I wanted most.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

They also had a wonderful selection of craft beers, something we were exposed to for the first time this trip. Often we are so enamored by fresh Guinness (yes, it is completely different on draft in Ireland), that we’ve overlooked craft beers on previous trips.

So let’s start there.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin. Craft Beer - Galway Hooker | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

I had the Friar Weiss because, well, I love wheat beers. As you would expect, this was perfect for me, sweet and crisp. My husband tried the Galway Hooker, an Irish Pale Ale that he really enjoyed.

We didn’t consider appetizers to be an option. We would risk leaving overly full in order to try all we could.

My husband had been daring me to eat a Scotch Egg the whole trip, something I had never had before. Mulligan’s version is a free range egg wrapped in delicious sausage and fried.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin. Scotch Eggs. | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

I now love Scotch Eggs.

My husband had the Potted Crab. If you are new to this dish like we were, the best way to describe it is delicious, tender crab with a layer of clarified butter on the top to create a bit of a seal or a lid on the crab. It is chilled and served with bread. It was a really unique dish for us.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin. Potted Crab. | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel
A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin. Potted Crab. | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

It took me forever to decide on my meal, and I mean forever. There were just too many great options.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin. | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel
Despite the fact that I simply cannot make myself like beets, I went for the Lamb Burger which had a beet slaw. I refused to be the picky eater who asked for it to be removed so I sucked it up expecting to scrape it off once at the table.

First, I loved the slaw. It didn’t have that dirty taste I’m used to with beets and it added a gorgeous color. The burger itself was outstanding – juicy, tender, not to mention, wrapped in bacon and topped with goat cheese. The twice cooked chips were my favorite of the trip.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin. Lamb burger with beetroot slaw. | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

My husband went for the Pork Belly. The belly itself was beautifully plated, but what really interested me was the mash which had black pudding in it. It’s taken me a while to get over the idea of blood sausage, but I love black pudding. The dish was matched with a kraut or type of slaw which had a lot of caraway seeds. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t care for caraway seeds and it was even a little overpowering for me, but otherwise the meal was delicious.

A meal at L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin. Pork Belly. | Fake Food Free | Food and Travel

I’m still so surprised we managed to find ourselves in such a great place considering our short stopover. When in Dublin, L. Mulligan Grocer is a must. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

L. Mulligan Grocer
18 Stoneybatter
Dublin 7

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes or images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.