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11 Dec 16:33

Meet Noodles

by Erin in Indy

Struggling for a place to get a quick dinner on Sunday, I remembered reading about Meet Noodles and so we headed over there. It was impressive to see such a large crowd for a small local place in Castleton on a Sunday. It’s a warm feeling interior—more so than many of the Asian places we like on this side of town. The wood tables are cute, but strangely awkward to sit at if you are on the booth side as you can’t cross your legs under the table. But I switched to a chair and was good. 

So they specialize in ramen and noodle bowls made with homemade noodles. We got 2 of the ramen choices—the tonkatsu ($12) and the shoyu ($12) as well as the lanzhou la-mian with the hand-pulled noodles ($12).  Honestly, they were all good, but if I had to pick a favorite it was probably the shoyu ramen. It was a clear soy-based chicken bone broth base with the classic ingredients—sliced pork belly, corn, bamboo shoots, soft boiled egg, scallions and black mushrooms. I loved the crispy garlic bits that were sprinkled on top. I really enjoyed the salty taste of the broth and even if the noodles aren’t hand-pulled, they are quite tasty. And I preferred the soft-boiled egg to the one that came with the hand-pulled noodles. 

The Lanzhou la-mian was also very tasty—these were the hand-pulled noodles and I liked the slightly different texture to the noodles—not sure how to describe them exactly, but they were a little softer and more delicate. The beef bone broth in this dish was really good—deep and rich even though overall it was a more delicate flavor as well. The thin sliced marinated beef was very tender even though it was thoroughly cooked. It was paper thin. While I appreciate the idea of the soy marinated egg, it was more like a hard-boiled egg and didn’t have that rich creaminess like the soft-boiled egg. I liked the freshness of the bok choy and the cilantro. It needed a little of the chili oil from the table to jazz it up a bit, but it was good. Simpler but good. It was more like a pho than a ramen.

The tonkatsu ramen was similar in toppings to the shoyu but had more of the garlic and was in a pork bone broth. I am not sure why, but this was my least favorite—the broth had a slightly fishy taste maybe? Maybe fish sauce? Maybe from the nori in there? It was just a little unexpected I guess. The rest of the ingredients were really good—and the pork that they use in the ramen is cut very thin, making it easier to eat with chopsticks and a large spoon.

All in all, a really nice addition to the Castleton area which is so notorious for bad food and chains (with some distinct exceptions of course). It’s beer and wine only if that matters to you—and when they say wine, they mean sake and that’s it. The service is fast and friendly and the place is already seemingly very popular.  Who else has been? I am curious about the appetizers… what have you tried?

Meet Noodles
6368-B 82nd Street
Indy 46250

02 Dec 16:21

Spoke and Steele

by Erin in Indy

Recently hubby and I were looking around for a good date night spot and I was somewhat uninspired by the menus I was looking at. It’s partly the season and that I didn’t want anything heavy…I just wanted something lighter and brighter even though it was Fall. Spoke and Steele has been a place I keep meaning to get back to try again since I knew that Greg Hardesty had a hand in creating the menu and when I looked at the menu and the abundance of seafood on there, I was sold. 

It’s an interesting menu—there are some definite Hardesty-ish menu items (remember that endive salad that came from Elements and then would pop up on the Recess menu?). And a big hearty burger. But there are also some interesting Asian influences as well as Cajun influences as well. All things that make me happy. The current head chef is Erin Gillum, which is a new name for me, but I like her ideas on paper.

At the recommendation of our server (who was very helpful and professional), we started with the biscuits with Vermont creamery slated butter and local honey ($7 for 2). Loved the creamery butter with just the right amount of salt, but I can’t say the biscuits on their own were super special. I mean, nothing wrong with a solid biscuit, but these could have used some gravy or something to really take them to the next level (maybe on the breakfast menu?). The butter and honey together added nice flavor though. We ended up just sharing one and taking the other one home.

The biscuits actually came out with the lobster and shrimp potstickers ($19), which were the clear highlight of the meal for me. But this course also reminds me of one of the things I would be vocal about when ordering—the timing and spacing of items. The food came out really fast and the salad was one of the last courses, which is not what we wanted. So if you go and you would like a more spaced out meal, I would order one or two things at a time and if there is something you want to start, let them know. Anyway, back to the potstickers—so, so good. There were 5 of them, stuffed with lobster and shrimp in a light wonton wrapper that was perfectly seared on one side. The broth though—wow—full of ginger, miso and soy—and topped with some peppers. I instantly wanted a second order, but hubby restrained me. The only complaint I had about these was I wished they were just a little warmer, but even so, I inhaled them. And then we dipped our biscuit inappropriately into the broth.

The next course we got were the pork belly and shrimp bao ($16). I love a good stuffed bun, but these were a bit of a miss for us just based on execution. They were 4 large buns—2 were filled with a large piece of shrimp and 2 with a small piece of pork belly. The meat quality of both was very good—the shrimp had nice flavor and was plentiful to fill the bun. The pork, while tasty, and perfectly crisped on the outside was way too small for the large bun. There was just one small maybe two inch by two-inch piece in mine and it was dwarfed by the bun and the excessive amount of spicy mayo. These could be perfected for sure. First, the amount of filling should match the bun. So either more filling or less bun. Then, less mayo—just a drizzle would be plenty as it is very rich (I would add a little acid to this as well). And finally, while I really liked the pickled cucumbers—and they are the things that make these little buns to me—you couldn’t really taste them due to being overwhelmed by the other ingredients. But like I said, there is definitely room for improvement. And I appreciate that they are doing something different. 

The next (and originally, we thought last) course was the endive salad ($11) and the broiled oysters ($20). Like I said, ideally, I would have liked my salad in the first course, but maybe that’s just me. The salad is described on the menu as having endive, blue cheese, candied pecans, granny smith apples and white wine vinaigrette. So the heavy drizzle of balsamic was a bit of a surprise but it was fine. You couldn’t really get much of the white wine vinaigrette flavor though. Loved the combo overall though-some of my favorite combination of things in a salad. It was well-dressed and topped with lots of goodies.

At this time we also got the broiled oysters which were 6 small oysters (I so much prefer them on the small side) topped with Cajun butter and parmesan cheese. They gave you a nice juicy piece of lemon to squeeze over them as well, which was the perfect addition. I prefer my oysters cooked, and these were cooked just right. Gave the oysters even a little more creaminess. Totally worth ordering. 

At this point we felt like we could use one more dish, and hubby was forcing me to try something new (because I really wanted more potstickers!) so we went with the “deconstructed sushi roll” ($24) from the raw section of the menu. This was interesting—it was a patty of rice that was seared on the sides like a crab cake, adding some extra texture. It was topped with some slices of avocado (would have loved a few more) and then ahi tuna marinated and cut into cubes. There were two crunchy spicy chili shrimp on the side. There was a bunch more of that spicy mayo on the bottom of the dish as well. Again, the mayo was a little over the top for me—super thick and rich, but the rest of the dish was really good. The shrimp were cooked just right and I liked the other ingredients combined together for a nice little bite.

Our server was excellent as well and knowledgeable about the menu. She also immediately brought a new bottle of wine when the one we ordered tasted off. No questions asked. I appreciate what seems to be a well-trained staff (although I would like the pacing to go just a bit slower). It's pretty loud in there when it is busy (which it was) so we were happy to be in a table near the bar without too many around us).

At this point, we felt like we had enough to eat and we were generally very pleased with dinner. There are so many things I would like to try (along with my potstickers) on future visits. I love all the shellfish on the menu---am intrigued by items like pickled shrimp with pimento cheese and the Brussels sprouts salad with crab and shrimp. Let me know if you have been and if so, what items you have tried—good or bad. I need to build my next order. 

Spoke and Steele
123 Illinois Street
Indy 46225

27 Nov 18:37

At Home with Natalie Ensor in Nashville, Tennessee

by Jacki Moseley

Today, we’re beyond thrilled to share Natalie Ensor’s Nashville home with you. The hardest part about putting this post together was picking out which photos to use—every room is so creative and inspiring. You’re in for a treat!

“We purchased our Southern Colonial home in February of 2017. We had been searching off and on for 2+ years (basically since our move to Nashville from sunny Southern California). This house in particular had sat on the market for about a year, and once we stepped inside it was clear to see why. The previous owners ran a rehab called “Teen Challenge,” which means anywhere from 9-12 men lived in the house at a time. Every door had been kicked in at some point. We found hidden knives above doorways and when we opened the walls, we found empty bottles of booze and leftover cigarette packs. Regardless, we were able to see the potential through the mess, so we began to remodel with a mighty fury!

I homeschool our kiddos, and we had completely underestimated the need to have space in the house for the kids to play when we are shut in for the winter and on rainy days throughout the year. This last requirement caused us to add additional criteria to our home search; that being light, bright, open spaces and more light! You will notice this theme woven throughout the house. l have incorporated bright colors along with fun and unique elements that pay homage to my California roots, love for vintage, and Tennessee’s rich musical heritage.

Console / Gray Chairs / Pink Sofa

The ”rainbow room,” as it is affectionately called, is our primary room for low-key hangs and movie nights. This is the only room in the house with a TV and has plenty of seating for all on this cozy sectional which also is a pullout bed for guests. The rainbow wall was inspired by a kids educational television program called The Who Was? show. I wanted the space to be bright, fun, lively and welcoming to both kids and adults all at the same time.

We refer to the formal living room as the “pink room” and I am not exactly sure why. I think it’s because for the longest time the only piece of furniture we had in that room was the crescent pink velvet couch. Haha! My family and I love to travel and we love hotels. My approach to this room was to set it up like a swanky hotel lobby with multiple seating areas that can encourage smaller intimate conversations and still be able to facilitate large gatherings. The gallery wall features pieces of art we have collected on our travels, pieces from our dear friends and even pictures created by our littles. Above the fireplace is a fave of mine. It’s a custom made weaving I had commissioned from the amazing talented Rachel of Smile & Wave.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. This room experienced the most change during the renovation process. We tore down the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room, we sealed up a doorway that went to the hall, and blew out the pantry. The footprint of the kitchen changed from a confined square to a long galley. The tiled backsplash wall was actually mine and my husband’s first foray into tiling. Completing this wall gave us the confidence to tackle our master bathroom floor.The focal point of this space and my favorite appliance ever, is the matte black and gold oven range. At one end of the galley kitchen we built in a green velvet lounge with two bistro tables. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee or a French 75 depending on the time of day.

Chandelier / DIY Frame / Pink Dining Chairs / Lucite Chairs (thrifted)

On the opposite end of the galley kitchen is the Marble Sarineen Tulip dining table. The dining table opens up to the grand pink room, which makes this space perfect for hosting and entertaining.The room l was most excited to go wild with is the downstairs powder room! For this space, l wanted to go big, bold, bright and of course, use florals. l wanted something that represented California to me. A nod to the nostalgic San Pedro of where my parents grew up and l spent most of my life visiting my grandparents. True old classic Californian style with a modern twist.

Embarrassingly enough, trying to find the perfect wallpaper to get THE look took months—like six months to be exact. I sampled 15 different wallpaper options before landing on this gem! The artist behind this is actually a native Californian, like myself and felt she just “got me” and my style, so we were a match made in wallpaper heaven! A homage to California would not be complete without a wink to Disneyland—l found this Alice In Wonderland doorknob on Etsy.

Bed / Night Stands / Chandelier / Wool Throw / Neon Sign

My favorite space in the house was a toss up between the master suite and the powder room. We have moved many times as a family and the master bedroom has always taken the back seat to be the last room to get any love. In fact, this is the first time in 16+ years of marriage that we have selected furniture that was not thrifted or gifted, so this space holds a special place in my heart.

The living plant wall is an homage to Elvis Presley’s infamous “jungle room” at his home at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. The pink velvet bed is such a dream and l am stoked to have a husband who doesn’t mind pink or velvet, for that matter. A fun addition was the neon light above the bed reading “Melt With You,” which reflects our love for ’80s music in all of its forms.Mirrors / Sconces / Light Fixture / Abstract Painting

The “piece de resistance” is our master bathroom. Prior to renovations, this bathroom was actually three separate rooms: shower/bathtub and toilet in one room, double vanity in another, and a second closet in a third. We blew out all of these walls and extended the room just beyond one of the existing windows in the bedroom so the bathroom would have its own natural light. This gave us room to plumb the clawfoot tub where the closet once lived (my favorite item in our home) and we built a glass framed standing shower where the old bath once lived.

My husband DIY’d a 1920s buffet into this dual vanity with quartz top. l am so proud of how he repurposed this piece, bringing it back to life!  The tile in the floor is by far the biggest conversation piece in our home. We were already in DIY mode when it was time to tile. We knew what we wanted but quotes were coming in around $15,000 in labor for this amount of detail (border and wording). So what did we do? YouTube “how to tile” and my husband and l did this ourselves and l couldn’t be more excited about how it came out!

Tiger Rug / Record Console 

Across the hall from the master is the big kid’s room, their shared bathroom, and the nursery. I love having our fam all up on the same level. We knew we wanted to create a magical and whimsical room for the kids but also something they are able to grow with. The ceilings in this room are low (like so low) so l had to tamper expectations quite a bit of the designs I dreamed up, but we took some measurements, l sketched out a rough design on a napkin and my brother did an absolutely amazing job building the loft house beds! My daughter’s loft bed features a reading nook on the top level and a desk on the lower level. My son’s bed has space below for reading and building Lego creations.

In the kid’s shared bathroom, my husband repurposed a mid-century dresser into their dual vanity where there had been a single vanity previously. He also followed A Beautiful Mess DIY transforming their once ugly linen closet door into a fun pop in here. We wanted this bathroom to be fun for the kids but not “kiddy” and still flow with the rest of the house.

Wallpaper / Rocking Chair / Crib

As far as the nursery goes, we had no idea we were actually going to need a nursery when we started the remodel. It was going to be a playroom for the kids, but God had other plans (surprise baby!) It is still half playroom, half nursery, so it’s kind of a work in progress as I’m constantly trying to balance big kid toys versus baby items. But it’s the only natural toned space in our entire home, making it have a completely different vibe and feel, which l love that about this space.

The greatest blessing we have realized with our home and these spaces is that we are finally able to host events, invite people over and foster community with those around us. There is still work to be done and projects to tackle, but for now we will pause and enjoy this season of life in the colorful spaces we have created. I hope you have enjoyed our home tour and if you are ever in Nashville please stop in and say hi!”

Pure magic. Follow Natalie on Instagram for more inspiration! 💛

Credits // Author: Natalie Ensor. Photography: Amber Ulmer.
19 Nov 17:55

This Might Be the Perfect Skillet Cornbread Recipe

by Elizabeth Licata
Its moist and a little grainy, with crisp edges and a flavor so buttery you might not even need to spread butter on it at the table. (But you can if you want to.) READ MORE...
19 Nov 17:49

roasted cabbage with walnuts and parmesan

by deb

I began making variations on this dish about a year ago and since then it has become — and I’m sorry, I know how annoying unrelenting, gasping praise of every recipe that crosses your social media threshold can sound, despite feeling certain that here it’s warranted — everything. It’s a warm salad for cold weather. It’s Starter Cabbage for people who are cabbage suspect (savoy is lacier and less heavy than the white/red stuff). It’s a quick vegetable dish that’s not a salad or bland broccoli that my kids, by some rare miracle, agree to (they like the crispy crackly outer leaves). It’s even better from the tray (which keeps it hot) than it is from a plate, which is basically a reward for being as lazy as I prefer to be. With prep and even oven-warming, it takes exactly 20 minutes to make. Finally, it’s the kind of humble, economical dish that feels good at a time of year when we need to shell out for so many extra things.

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19 Nov 14:38

Green Bean Macaroni Casserole

by Emma Chapman

This green bean macaroni casserole was my favorite dish from Friendsgiving this year. I’ll admit, casseroles are not the most photogenic dish, but to me, being from the Midwest, casseroles are an ESSENTIAL part of Thanksgiving. This one is extra special as it combines my husband and I’s favorite side dishes. Yes, that’s right, this casserole is like if green bean casserole and baked macaroni and cheese got together and had a casserole baby. 🙂

Fresh green beans are essential in this casserole, as we’ll blanch them and then bake them—and you don’t want them too mushy.

Then everything gets topped with the good stuff—French fried onions! Which is a very classic topping for green bean casserole and it makes a great replacement to breadcrumbs which is what I normally top baked macaroni and cheese with.

There are two additional things I love about casseroles for Thanksgiving, and this one in particular. You can easily make this ahead and refrigerate overnight. Then just top with the French fried onions and bake before your big meal. Make ahead dishes are essential to me as I don’t like feeling rushed or stuck in the kitchen ALL day, even if I’m hosting.

Second thing, casseroles are my favorite leftovers from Thanksgiving. I know, I should be making some kind of crazy sandwich from the leftover turkey, or eating these pie bars for breakfast the next day. But to me there’s nothing better than rewarming this casserole the next day, when family is still around or while I start my (online) Black Friday shopping. So if you have been tasked with bringing a casserole to your Thanksgiving this year, I highly recommend this green bean macaroni casserole. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Janae Hardy and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Green Bean Macaroni Casserole

  • 12 ounces fresh green beans
  • 6 ounces baby Bella or button mushrooms
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 16 ounces macaroni noodles
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 16 ounces shredded cheese (divided)
  • 6 ounces French fried onions
  1. Prepare the green beans by cutting off the ends and chopping into bite-size pieces (maybe 1/2 inch or smaller). Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Strain and immediately rinse in cold water (to stop the cooking process). Set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles according to the package directions to al dente. You want them a little hard in the center still as they will absorb more liquid when they bake in the casserole later.
  3. Clean and slice up the mushrooms, discarding the center stem. Mince the garlic. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the mushroom and garlic and cook for just a minute or two until the mushrooms begin to soften. Whisk in the flour and cayenne, this will become a paste. Season generously with salt and pepper. Then slowly whisk in the milk and vegetable stock so it incorporates well (you don’t want a bunch of chunks of flour paste floating in the mixture). Then stir in 12 ounces of the shredded cheese. Once it begins to look melted, or mostly melted (sort of stringy on your mixing spoon), then stir in the green beans and noodles.

  4. Add this mixture to a greased casserole pan (9×13 or close to that size if it’s a different shape, like an oval). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then top with the remaining cheese and French fried onions. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil from the top and bake another 15 minutes.

If you want to make this ahead, you absolutely can. Just don’t top with the French fried onions until you are ready to bake. What kind of shredded cheese should you use? Really any kind you like. I prefer a mixture of pepper jack and sharp cheddar.

12 Nov 19:29

Los Arroyos

by Erin in Indy
One of my son’s favorite types of food is Mexican. He has his preferred places (La Hacienda, Nada and Livery), but we are always looking for new Mexican places. Recently we tried Los Arroyos which has been open a few years but is new to us. It’s a small chain out of California and Carmel is their first location outside of the west coast. It has a little different feel than other Mexican places—a little more upscale I guess. A little on the sparse side décor wise, and we got sat facing the bus station and kitchen which always makes hubby a little grumpy.

Anyhow, we got our complimentary chips and dip. I like that they give you two different salsas—one is a littler spicier than the other and has a bit of roasted flavor to it, while the other one is fresher and milder. I actually think I preferred the acidity of the fresher one but they were both fine. The chips were just meh—not warm and nothing particularly interesting about them. We started with the queso dip as well, which if I am honest was probably our favorite part. It came with chile and chorizo and once you mixed it all up was quite tasty. The homemade corn tortillas are a nice touch. Drinks-wise, hubby had a Cadillac margarita ($14) and we both thought it was good (you can also buy a margarita here that costs $350 if that’s your thing). I made the mistake of ordering a blood orange margarita ($14), which took about 3 times as long to get and which has this spicy salt mix on the rim that did not go with orange to me. It reminded me of a drink I accidentally got once that was orange juice and pepper flavor vodka. No bueno for me. I would not order this drink again just for the wait, but especially for the taste. I didn’t finish it and I switched to wine at this point.
The menu looks a little more interesting than many Mexican places—I find so many just have the same 5 ingredients recycled into different tortilla formats. This one had various seafood items. Like for instance, hubby had the langostino quesadilla ($18). It was a quesadilla stuffed with three kinds of cheese, langostino lobster, caramelized onions and avocado and topped with chipotle sour cream and guacamole. Sounds intriguing right?—and all things I like. It was good, but nothing that blew your mind or anything. I could have used a little kick or a little acid with it. But not bad. 

I had the tacos Gobernado ($15.50), which were three shrimp tacos sautéed with green chili and cheese and served with guacamole and a green salsa. Once you doctored them up with enough of the salsa and guacamole and some generous amounts of lime that I asked for, these were tasty. The really needed the lime though. The shrimp themselves were well cooked though and I liked the way the taco shells were sort of lightly fried to give them a little texture. 

The kids both had giant burritos—one had chicken and one had beef  ($13.50). They were definitely large and neither finished. I think I would have gone with the grilled chicken or steak vs. the shredded versions they got. The meat was clearly slow cooked and had that kind of stew-like flavor, which if you like, you would like. If it’s not your thing, this is probably not the burrito for you.

All in all, it was an interesting place with some nice variety on the menu. There are certainly more things I would be interested in trying, but nothing I had on this trip really wowed me. And my son doesn’t understand why we ever go anywhere but La Hacienda for a simple Mexican meal. I will agree, you certainly can’t beat their prices. This place is not cheap, but they do use a lot of fresh and unique ingredients. Will I rush back? Likely not, but I wouldn’t refuse to go either. 

Los Arroyos
11503 Springmill Road
Carmel, IN. 46032

08 Nov 17:13

perfect apple tarte tatin

by deb

[Welcome to the second episode of the Sous-Chef Series, a sporadic feature on SK in which I invite cooks I admire over to my small kitchen to teach me — and thus, us — to make one of their specialties. Spoiler: I’m the sous! Previously: Making potato vareniki with Kachka’s Bonnie Frumpkin.]

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29 Oct 01:17

Hoagies and Hops

by Erin in Indy

Recently a friend suggested Hoagies and Hops for a quick lunch—it was crazy because it is just a few blocks from my work, but I had never even heard of it. It’s a cute little place that serves local beers as well as Philly-style hoagies, cheesesteaks and hot dogs. The owner (I believe) mentioned to us that it was the Hog Island sandwich that inspired her to open the shop after living in Pennsylvania. They are importing the bread from South Jersey and chips and pickles from Philly.

We shared a pretzel and beer cheese ($2.79) to start. I liked the beer cheese pretty well. The pretzel was good too, but I wish it had been heated up.  I ordered the 7” chicken cheesesteak with fried onions and sharp provolone. They cook it up fresh and bring it to the table. The ingredients were good, but I sort of wish I had gotten the “Philly Special” that comes with banana peppers, tomatoes, parmesan and spicy sauce just to add a little more flavor to it—I was itching for some acidity or something more. I think the tomatoes, onions and peppers would have done it. But I can’t say I am any kind of cheesesteak expert so I would love to hear what others think—I bet for people who grew up eating these types of sandwiches, this would be a welcome sight—it feels authentic, even though I am not really sure due to lack of experience. 

The cold hoagies seemed popular and that is what my friend had. It was the Hog Island that I mentioned earlier. This includes salami, black forest ham, prosciutto, capicola, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions and oil. I liked the lettuce and dressing to add some of that flavor I was looking for, although I would put a little vinegar or something in there too. Or maybe some of the whole grain mustard they mentioned in the menu. Loved all the fresh onions though. 

Overall though, like I said, the shop seems to be a labor of love to the owner (I think) who it sounds like ate these types of sandwiches in Philly and was inspired to open a sandwich shop. The people were really friendly and the service was fast. There were lots of working people grabbing a sandwich here and I love how close it is to my work. I am sure I will give it another try to see if I can create my perfect sandwich. 

Please share what you think if you have been here.

Hoagies and Hops
4155 Boulevard Place
Indianapolis, IN 46208

21 Oct 19:08

Pumpkin Banana Muffins You’ll Love

by Gemma Bonham-Carter

Who doesn’t love freshly baked muffins? It’s something I love to do every Sunday so that we have some snacks to throw in the kids’ lunches or for breakfasts, or on the go! These pumpkin banana muffins with chocolate chips are super yummy. Total win with the kids! 



  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup melted butter, cooled
  • 1 ⅓ cups canned pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pumpkin Banana Muffins (with chocolate chips!) Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners or grease with oil or butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bananas, pumpkin, eggs, butter, and honey. Stir together wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
  4. Fold chocolate chips into the batter (skip the chocolate chips if you want a healthier option).
  5. Divide the batter into 12 muffin cups. 
  6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to rest in muffin tin for 5 minutes before moving to cooking rack.


Taking these fresh out of the oven and having one with a cup of tea? Heaven.

They are the perfect Fall snack! 

You can skip the chocolate chips if you want a healthier, sugar-free alternative. You can also replace the honey for other sweetener options if you want (maple syrup or applesauce are both great!).

Will you be trying out this recipe?


Want more recipes? You might also like…

The post Pumpkin Banana Muffins You’ll Love appeared first on THE SWEETEST DIGS.

21 Oct 18:27

Inspiration : Dark Woodwork and Light Walls

by Scoops
Holy crap. That’s what I say to myself as I scroll through this amazing four square home of Hillary and Jim Straatman, designed by Lisa Staton and photographed by Haris Kenjar. Have you ever had that experience with inspirational images? It’s only happened to me a handful of times where something I see hits me like a ton of bricks. This is probably three tons of inspiration all at once!
02 Oct 19:39

Common House Supper Club

by Erin in Indy

If you haven’t heard about Common House, it’s a pop-up supper club run by Alan and Audra Sternberg (he was formerly the chef at Cerulean and the founding chef at Field Brewing). Recently they started doing these pop ups (usually at Ukiyo as far as I can tell) and some friends asked us to go. The menu looked good and we bought tickets. If you call it “Simply Summer,” I will have a hard time passing that by. The entire dinner cost about $90 per person (drinks additional).

The first three courses were amazing. Truly. First was a scallop “tamale,” This was so tasty, it was basically a scallop mixture with whole chunks of scallop that was cooked like a tamale (steamed in a corn husk). Loved the texture of this and the delicate flavor, but also the broth underneath with leeks, scallions and corn dashi. This was unique and it was really good. 

Next came grilled squash salad, which if I am honest, was the one I was least excited about, but which turned out to be one of my favorites for sure. There were various types of squash that was lightly cooked with sweet onions and then tossed in a slightly acidic fish sauce-based sauce—at least that’s how I remember it. It was so good—just the right amount of umami. I loved this one.

The third course was tempura skate wing sitting in a tomato butter with powdered ramp powder. I love skate—truly love it. Skate is the wing of a type of ray in case you haven’t had it before. This was the first time I have had it tempura battered and it was fantastic. Super light and crispy. Clearly a great way to do skate. 

The next course was poached chicken with a strawberry miso side, with chicken fat and pine. This one was good but didn’t stand out the way the first courses had. I liked the crispy edge to the chicken though. I also liked the corn stuffed pasta for the next course with octopus slices and tomato, even though by this point, I was getting full and pasta was a tough one!

The next one lost me. I love tuna, but this “ember roasted” albacore with squid ink bbq, carrot and Thai basil wasn’t doing it for me. The preparation of the fish was such that it had a sort of caramelized crust on top, but the fish got so tough that you could really barely cut it. The last savory course was brisket with egg yolk steak sauce and bok choy. Honestly, but this time I was just purely stuffed. I had a bite or two but had to throw in the towel. I did like that sauce though.
The dessert was interesting, but again, I just tasted it because I was so full at this point. It was rice pudding with honeycomb candy, fermented pine honey, and blueberry sherbet. Interesting flavors and I really liked the texture variation from the light, but crunchy honeycomb in the creamy rest of the dessert. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this meal. Would I prefer maybe a 4-5 course meal next time? Yes.  I was losing steam toward the end. But I would definitely do a next time. I hope to see a restaurant in this couple’s future. 

Common House
twitter and Instagram: @commonhouseindy

24 Sep 21:11

Quick & Easy Zucchini Tuna Cakes

by Gemma Bonham-Carter

If you’re looking for a high protein, carb-free, nutritious snack (that even the kids will love!) then these zucchini tuna cakes are perfect.

Easy to throw together and the perfect way to use up a zucchini you might have in your fridge that you don’t know what to do with!


Zucchini Tuna Cakes Recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes
  • Servings: 8
  • Serving size: 1 cake 



  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded and liquid pressed out
  • 12-14 oz of tuna (6 of the small cans)
  • ⅓ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste 


How to make zucchini tuna cakes: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 370 F and line a baking rack onto a baking sheet (like this one). If you don’t have a baking rack, place them directly onto a baking sheet and flip the cakes carefully halfway through. 
  2. Shred zucchini and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl add tuna, shredded zucchini, breadcrumbs, egg yolks, onion and garlic powder, and salt.
  4. Knead with your hands, integrating all the ingredients.
  5. Grab about ⅓ cup of mixture and make a ball with your hand, flatten them a little to make patties, place it onto a baking rack. (tip: spray baking rack with oil in spray to prevent the patties from sticking)
  6. Repeat the process until you utilize all the mixture.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, then broil for another 3 minutes. 
  8. Remove from the oven carefully, serve warm. 


They come out of the oven looking seriously tasty! Eat them warm with a dollop of greek yogurt and fresh lemon. Delicious!

Want more recipes?


The post Quick & Easy Zucchini Tuna Cakes appeared first on THE SWEETEST DIGS.

17 Sep 14:59

We Tried 6 Methods of Caramelizing Onions and Found a Clear Winner

by Jill Waldbieser

Baking soda - i had no idea

We compared the results by speed, flavor, and texture. READ MORE...
17 Sep 14:57

Easy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Crock-Pot Meatloaf

by Patty Catalano
The secret to juicy meatloaf has been on your counter the whole time. READ MORE...
17 Sep 14:54

stuffed eggplant parmesan

by deb

I might be deeply ambivalent about:
* fall (less the weather cooling off and more how long it insists up staying cooled off for; doesn’t 8 months seem excessive?),
* stuffed vegetables (the good ones are great but the bad ones a very underseasoned-rice-in-green-peppers-cooked-until-soggy-and-gray, you know?),
* and eggplant parmesan (mostly the staggering amount of effort made to fry and crisp rounds of eggplant only to burrow it in crisp-cancelling sauce and cheese, why)

Read more »

10 Sep 16:19

I See Dead People: Charter Schools in Indiana

by Doug Masson

This should probably be a hearse.

The joke is that dead people vote in Chicago. Apparently they go to school in Indiana. Stephanie Wang, reporting for Chalkbeat Indiana, has an article about the Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathway Academy which, among a number of other abuses, kept a dead kid on their claims for state money for two years after he died.

Five years after two students moved to Florida, they reappeared on enrollment records for Indiana Virtual School and its sister school.

And nearly every one of the more than 900 students kicked out of Indiana Virtual School and its sister school in the 2017-18 school year for being inactive were re-enrolled the next school year, included in per-pupil funding calculations that netted the two online schools more than $34 million in public dollars last year.

These were among the ways that Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy allegedly inflated their enrollment to at least twice its actual size, according to the findings of a state examiner’s investigation released Monday.

Definitely click through to see the whole article. If the allegations in there are true, someone should go to jail. Heads would roll if this was a public school manipulating its Average Daily Membership (ADM) in this fashion. The virtual school superintendent responded by reminding everyone that these weren’t great students and also freedom.

In a written response to the state education board, Clark did not address the enrollment discrepancies but defended the online schools for serving “last-chance students” who have dropped out of or been expelled from traditional public schools — even if they weren’t active.

He accused state education officials of trying “to remove educational choice and force students to remain in school environments in which success has evaded them and where hope has abandoned them.”

“The beacon of hope has just been doused,” Clark concluded.

Also, I’d add that if you make public money for voucher schools contingent on providing actual services to actual students then the terrorists win. Obviously.

There are studies that suggest that, with rigorous oversight and a generally solid public education system, charters can sort of work a little bit. That is not at all the route Indiana is going. Subsidizing religious schools, busting teacher’s unions, and diverting public money to friends and well-wishers does not require that sort of oversight. So, we’re not likely to get it.

[Edit: I improperly used the word “voucher” in the title, edited to reflect that these schools were charters. As the article points out, “Daleville Community Schools, the rural district that oversees Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy . . . receives 3% of the virtual charter schools’ state funding, a fee for monitoring the schools that amounted to about $1 million last year.”]

10 Sep 16:14

Mandatory Firearm Insurance Re-revisited

by Doug Masson

After Sandy Hook, I wrote a blog post with the modest proposal for mandatory firearm insurance. There is a cost of firearm ownership imposed involuntarily on innocent third parties in the form of their injuries and deaths. Injuring or killing someone is a statistically unlikely event for any given firearm but one with high costs when it does happen — costs that you don’t see at the same level in other Western countries without our abundance of firearm ownership.

I envision something with strict liability that runs with the weapon — your firearm injures someone, your insurance policy pays. I think there would be some kind of cap on an individual policy and then, something like the medical malpractice system in Indiana where a state fund pays out for damages in excess of the individual limits. I would also suggest a tax on firearm dealers and/or manufacturers with different rates based on type of firearm and the experience of that particular dealer/manufacturer. If the guns you sell don’t often wind up being used to kill or injure people, you wouldn’t pay so much. If your shop somehow winds up with a lot of guns being used for criminal activity, you’re going to have to pay more. (A bit similar to the unemployment system. If you end up firing a lot of people, you pay more into the unemployment system.)

This is the relevant portion of what I wrote at the time:

We mandate liability insurance for cars. Why not for firearms? Bring market forces to bear on this issue. More firearms make things safer? Insurance rates will go down (if true).

Anyway, what I envision is a requirement that a firearm owner obtain liability insurance that covers injuries caused by that particular firearm. (Runs with the weapon – provides an incentive for people to secure the weapon in a way that ensures, for example, kids don’t have access to the weapon.) I would also envision a policy surcharge used to subsidize coverage for uninsured losses, treatment of mental illness, enforcement of existing regulations, and safety education efforts.



05 Sep 20:45

picture this: abstract art.

by victoria

pastel bauhaus art print. / sfgirlbybay

this week i’ve curated a collection for picture this that’s bold and graphic. i love every one of these works of art because they allow you to figure out how they make you feel because they are completely abstract and most of these make me feel very happy. there’s a looseness to them, and those that are colorful help us hang on to summer just a little bit longer as we head into our last hurrah — labor day. from classic pieces from matisse and calder to contemporary works from artists like Maureen Meyer and kat klerks, have a gander at abstracts graphics.

abstract art poster. / sfgirlbybay

black and white abstract art. / sfgirlbybay

abstract art print. / sfgirlbybay

abstract art prints. / sfgirlbybay

clockwise, l to r: matisse via forest london; Tiny Little woodblock on vintage paper by Kate Castelli; kat klerks; Najia Mehadji’s Végétal N°2, 2000; Vintage Sun Print from american posters; Pablo Palazuelo’s s.d. Painting Goauche on paper via macba; Maureen Meyer Plans Original Work on Paper from the tappan collective; kat klerks; Bauhaus Anniversary 1919 Print from american posters; Puzzle paper collage by Berit Mogensen Lopez from Stilleben Print Collection.

black and white abstract art print. / sfgirlbybay

matisse abstract art print. / sfgirlbybay

black and white art poster. / sfgirlbybay

colorful abstract art poster. / sfgirlbybay

• all other credits in order of appearance: Bauhaus Exhibition Posters from 1923 German Exhibition from american posters; portland opera la traviata by ellen higgins; Alexander Calder’s Untitled 1946 via jenn wren; minimalist wall art print from american posters; Masha Miteva acrylic on paper via ornamelle; Henri Matisse Exhibition Poster from american posters; When life gives you lemons art print by hôtel magique; best days by Waldemar Stepien.

The post picture this: abstract art. appeared first on sfgirlbybay.

04 Sep 14:57


by O-Dub

Prison rock, blues and soul songs/albums are a genre unto themselves but prison jazz albums aren’t nearly as common. This early ’70s album is one of the rare exceptions. Recorded by inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus, OH, Hard Luck Soul, despite its name, is a modal/spiritual jazz album, comprising of just four songs, all between ~5-10 minutes in length.

The background behind this album was chronicled when it was reissued by UK’s Jazzman Records in 2012; I’ll just quote a bit from what I assume were the reissue’s liner notes: 

“Band leader Reynard Birtha was originally from North Carolina, where he played in a band called The Outer Limits… [He] ended up in Cincinnati, and through a mutual passion for music, he met fellow musician Logan Rollins, nephew of jazz legend Sonny Rollins. They became friends and jammed at local clubs before both ended up in the State penitentiary, for reasons not entirely clear. At the time it was customary for musicians to visit the prison and give concerts…these visits were not only a source of entertainment for the prisoners, but they were also a source of inspiration for musicians like Reynard. He and Logan formed the 511 Jazz Ensemble, incorporating the remnants of the prison Pit Band. Reynard recalls that “the number 511 was the P.O. box address of the prison, and we would perform in the yard during every holiday, while the prisoners marched around and got their food.”

I was very fortunate to luck into an original copy of the album,  signed by all the inmates/players but what was mostly notable was that it also came with a mimeographed two-sheet that was a memo sent by a trio of inmates to the prison warden to propose the creation of “‘511’ Jazz Society,” which was a different entity from the 511 Jazz Ensemble. To summarize:

The ‘511’ Jazz Society was originally proposed in November of 1970 by a trio of inmates (Cartier, Cook and Chappell). They were fans of the “Jazz Roundtable” radio show, put together by the Columbus Jazz Society, for air on WOSU (which I assume was the college radio station at Ohio State Univ.). The three inmates wrote:

“Music-wise, Columbus is predominantly “Country-Western” oriented; consequently, we devotee’s [sic] of jazz, America’s only original “ART FORM” suffer from lack of exposure to our preferred medium of musical entertainment.”

(Is there a racial subtext here? Oh my yes.)

Therefore, Cartier, Cook and Chappell proposed the formation of a jazz appreciation group in the prison, aka the ‘511’ Jazz Society, that would regularly meet to “hear the latest innovations in this particular field of the ‘Musical Arts.'” They suggested that they would hold “panel discussions between the members…concerning the artist, his style of playing, improvisational and expressionistic ability; the general progress of Jazz, harmonically and culturally, since it’s inception early in this century.” 

They had already gotten permission from Rabbi Zelizer to hold society meetings inside the prison chapel (“either Monday’s or Friday’s… From our point of view, Monday’s would be the most suitable.”) 

On the second page is a list of rules for the Society, established after the warden had given his permission. One of the rules stated “25 members should be the quota. As a member leaves the institution or drops out, another man can fill the vacancy.” The inaugural group of 25 members, listed by inmate number and surname, are included.

Best as I can tell, almost none of the players in the 511 Jazz Ensemble were part of the inaugural Jazz Society (the only exception could be George Williams, lead guitar, as there was a “Williams” listed as a Society member). However, it’s entirely possible that the Jazz Ensemble players joined the Society later; the liner notes for the reissue don’t mention the Jazz Society at all which is curious but it’s possible that Ensemble leader Reynard Birtha simply didn’t recall the Society some 40 years after the album had been recorded. In any case, this kind of random ephemera that sometimes comes with vintage records is one of the great things about collecting said vintage records.

And in any case, even without it, this was still a wonderful find. The music by the Ensemble makes for a sublime end-to-end listen. There’s a lot of atmosphere in the sound that I assume is a product of the acoustics of the chapel they recorded it in and that enhances my experience of listening to it, especially since, overall, the engineering is pretty solid for an album that wasn’t taped inside a proper studio. I dig all four tracks but the ~10 minute songs that begin each side – “Psych City” and “Counterry Bosa Davan” – are my favorites given how they unfurl over time. Enjoy! 

20 Aug 19:45

ultimate zucchini bread

by deb

I have a few complaints about zucchini bread and I bet you cannot wait to hear them. I bet you were thinking “I was hoping to hear more complaining today than I usually do.” Or, “Wow, Deb is really going hard on the zucchini content this summer, isn’t she?” It’s all fair — and true. But if you, like me, couldn’t help but notice that a lot of zucchini bread recipes could be better, well, pull up a chair, you’re among friends.

Read more »

20 Aug 19:45

salted caramel pretzel blondies

by deb

My son went to sleep-away camp two weeks for the first time this summer and it was terrible. Oh, I don’t mean for him. I got the full, joyful report when we collected him the first second they let us fly through the gate on Saturday, but even the bits and pieces we’d heard sooner sounded ebullient. He was having the time of his life! But I found it agonizing. Whose idea was this? (Mine.) What was I thinking? (That he’d enjoy it.) Wasn’t he just born? (He’ll be 10 next month.) How was he leaving us already? (You literally talked him into it.) Stop using reason with me! (I am having a full blown conversation with myself.) They were two very long weeks. I was shocked by the slack created when one person slips out of the rubberband that snugs you sometimes crushingly together, and the sheer amount of angst I could pour into this void. Friends with kids in camp went on vacations, went out every night, took up tennis, cleared out their backlog of stuff that never gets done. I did some of that stuff but a tremendous lot of mentally counting the days since he had probably last brushed his teeth, wondering if he’d even unwrapped the packing seal on the sunscreen cans, joking way too many times that we’d sent the wrong kid away (acting out means you miss your brother in 4 year-old-ese, right?) and reloading the parent portal with the occasional camper photos so many times my computer thinks it’s my homepage. (Pauses to check it again. Why stop now?)

Read more »

20 Aug 18:17

Will Bryant and Cody Haltom – Owners / Creative Directors of Last Straw bar in Austin, TX

by Theselby

Will Bryant and Cody Haltom - Owners / Creative Directors of Last Straw Bar

in Austin, TX

20 Aug 18:02

The Russell in Nashville, Tennessee

by Jacki Moseley

We are so honored to feature this space on the blog today! Elsie and Emma recently attended the grand opening of The Russell, a gorgeous new boutique hotel in Nashville. This isn’t any ordinary hotel—it’s actually housed in a 115-year-old building that began as a church and they support an amazing cause (more on that below). The original stained glass windows are SO incredible, and it’s such a colorful, bright, and magical space.

Here’s what it looked like before:

Keep reading to learn more about the space (and see some amazing photos) from Brittany Wilson, the hotel manager.

“The entire design of The Russell was based on and inspired by the stained glass windows in our lobby! We knew when we saw them we wanted them to be the cornerstone of the entire design process. They are incredibly unique, with custom stained glass created in Venice, Italy.

We cleaned them and kept them exactly how they’ve always been, designing the rest of place around them. The most difficult part of converting a church into a hotel was that our building is located in the historic neighborhood of Edgefield in East Nashville. This building has been a part of this community for 115 years, so we wanted to make sure we heard and worked alongside the neighbors in the area while planning out The Russell. Once all of the planning was finished, the hardest part during construction was all of the hidden costs that came up throughout the project that we needed to do to preserve as much of the history and structural integrity of the building as possible.

However, both of these “most difficult” parts of this process were so worth it. We firmly believe that not just being in, but being a part of the East Nashville community is worthwhile. Our building has served the East Nashville community by providing refuge, safety, and belonging to people in need. We love this legacy and believe in continuing it, which is why we decided to expand our Rooms for Rooms program to The Russell.

We give away a generous percentage of each night’s stay to local nonprofits who are helping those experiencing homelessness here in Nashville. All of these organizations love Nashville’s homeless community by providing a safe place to find relief, resources, and the support of a community. The average weekend stay provides one of the following options:

-6 nights in a bed
-100 free showers
-30 free meals

We love that The Russell turned out so colorful and full of character; it’s unlike anywhere else.”

If you’re in the Nashville area, you have to visit! We’ll definitely be back. xo.

Credits // Author: Brittany Wilson. Photography: Amber Ulmer, Andrea Behrends, Caroline Sharpnack, Ryan McLemore, and Schuyler Anderson.
06 Aug 15:18

Caffe Buondi

by Erin in Indy

Trying to get back into the swing of things and try some of these new places that are popping up, I met my friend Suzanne at Caffe Buondi the other day for lunch to catch up with her as well as try something new. Caffe Buondi is owned by the same folks that brought you Convivio next door. 

The menu here is quite large—maybe a bit too large it you ask me—a little overwhelming. But as soon as I saw it, I knew I was ordering the “Ickx” ($11.95). Apparently, this section of the menu is named after Italian race car drivers. There’s another section named after actresses and another named for soccer players. You can order breakfast all day or lunch—they have several sandwiches and salads as well. 

So the Ickx is a buckwheat crepe filled with ham, swiss and a sunny side up egg. This is one of my favorite dishes of all time and pretty much anywhere I see it on a menu, I will be ordering it. In fact, I searched out a crepe restaurant that specialized in buckwheat crepes in Paris because I love them so much (more on that in a future post). This was a very solid version. The crepe was thin and somewhat crisp, and the egg was exactly perfect—firm white, totally runny yolk. The cheese had a since salty distinct flavor and the ham was good quality. If I had any complaints about the crepe, it would be that maybe there was just a little too much ham and it overpowered some of the bites because you couldn’t get a little bit of everything in every bite. However, that being said, I will likely order it again if I return. I chose the little arugula and almond side salad for my side (there are a couple of options). It was disappointing because there seemed to be no dressing on it at all. I am not sure if this is purposeful or not, but a little acidic vinaigrette would be a perfect accompaniment to the salad and the crepe. Next time, I would ask if it comes dressed and ask for some extra on the side. Or get something different.

Suzanne had the Crespelle ($13.95), which is on the lunch section of the menu. It is two savory crepes (but not buckwheat) that are stuffed with chicken, spinach and ricotta and topped with parmesan cream sauce. These are almost like enchiladas or burritos Italian style. I liked the flavor of the spinach in there, but they were maybe a little too rich for me.

Overall, I liked this place—ok, mainly because I LOVE a buckwheat crepe cooked thin and with an egg in it, but I thought the quality was good and the menu is interesting. Even if it didn’t blow my mind or anything.

If you have been here and really loved something, let me know. Maybe I will get hubby or the kids to order it. Since I’ll be getting my crepe.  Oh, and let me know what sides are good. 

Caffe Buondi
11529 Spring Mill Road
Carmel, IN 46032

31 Jul 20:58

Tour a Stylist’s Mid-Century-Meets-Traditional “Farmhouse” Full of Thrifted Treasures

by Arlyn Hernandez
Creekwood Hill 1 121 CropEmily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 1 | Photo by Erin Francois

It’s been a while since we shared a guest house tour around these parts, but we’re back in action today with Lea Johnson’s beautiful Minneapolis home. If you’re into a light, casual-yet-glam eclectic mix of mid-century modern and traditional meets farmhouse aesthetic, you’re in for a treat today. Lea, a stylist in her own right, can be found over at Creekwood Hill, a blog she started as a “digital diary” to document the build of her home. What was really just for herself and close friends transitioned into a full-blown passion after about a year or so and her site and Instagram account sort of evolved organically from there. She started styling more for family and friends, and then eventually, for clients. But back to her home that we’re giving you a tour of today. Lea and her husband never actually intended on a new build as they really loved and admired homes from the 1920s-1940s, but after many failed offers (and realizing their lack of renovation experience might have ended up being too much for them), they started looking at empty lots and thus began their home building journey.

To make sure it didn’t end up feeling like a “builder grade box” essentially, Lea has filled the home with so many enviable, thrifted treasures. Read on to get a look into all her rooms, how she was able to add character to a new build and how she effortlessly mixed-and-matched retail and vintage finds. I’m going to step back and let her take it from.

Take it away, Lea:


Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 2 | Photo by Erin Francois

Side Chair (similar) | Lamp (similar) | Wood Hooks | Large Woman’s Face Art Piece | Rug, Umbrella Holder & Varied Art (Vintage)

Our entryway is tiny and since we have an open floor plan in a very modest-sized home, you pretty much see the entire home from walking in the front door. One thing I knew when building was that I wanted to create a sort of “hallway” so that, one, it creates a little privacy from the kitchen and, two, we could install a closet to stash coats, shoes and gear. I like to keep things fairly organized in our home (as in everything has a place). It’s something I learned growing up with my grandma who lived through the Great Depression and I would say that is probably why she kept and reused everything but it was always SO fanatically tidy you would never have guessed that she had so many things. So I found a little desk (from World Market but no longer available) that was small enough to fit and that is where we keep mail, keys, sunglasses, change, etc. To that, I added a few pieces of art as I have yet to master the art of the gallery wall (I’m working on building up a collection). The light fixture was my first DIY in the house, one that was inspired by my love of Schoolhouse

Living Room

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 3 | Photo by Erin Francois

Rug | Marble & Wood C Table (similar) | Side Chair | Rust Lumbar Pillow | Sofa | Bookshelves | Blue & White Table Lamp | Wood End Table | Brass & Black Metal Side Table | Curtains (custom) | Curtain Hardware (Custom) | Roman Shade | Black Side Table | Black Poufs | Wall Color | Decor, Art, Busts (Vintage)

Because of this home’s open concept, I really had to take into account that all spaces needed to flow cohesively with one another from a design perspective. You’ll see a pretty consistent color palette throughout (mostly neutrals, pops of rust, brass, blue), starting n the living room, which sits right off the front door. In here, we added paneling to the walls for texture and a trio of bookcases from IKEA as I wanted to store books and other tchotchkes that I’ve picked up from my many thrift store jaunts. Almost everything displayed, I found thrifting. I make a habit of thrifting before buying new. It’s my way of balancing high and low as well as one way I can try to help keep the planet a little greener.

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 4 | Photo by Erin Francois Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 5 | Photo by Erin Francois

I knew I wanted a neutral sofa and one with a bit more interest to it, however, we also have a dog and two cats and we want to LIVE on our sofa (not just look at it) so when I found that this one came in this amazing woven performance fabric, I was like yesss! Style, comfort and performance (the trifecta for sofas).

Okay, let’s talk curtains. I would typically go with a neutral solid but I was ready for something bolder. I found this fabric which has a traditional feel to it but the pattern is more whimsical (there are pandas! I mean who doesn’t love a panda?!) The rug was sourced by a really good friend of mine.

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 6 | Photo by Erin Francois

Dining Room

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 7 | Photo by Erin Francois

Table | Rug | Arm Chairs | Side Chairs (similar) | Chandelier | Ceiling Medallion | Art & Decor (vintage)

Our dining room is located in between our kitchen and living room. We live in the city where houses are built really close to one another so I had piano windows installed because they reminded me of an older home and also provided privacy from the house next door. I mean, I really like them a lot but I don’t necessarily want to eat dinner with them every night. Another “form and function” decision that was made was installing a ceiling medallion. We had to move the electrical box and were left with a hole that needed to be covered, which the medallion hides. It’s also beautiful and again reminds me of the older homes I love so much. 

The corner cabinet was one I found in an antique store about 15 years ago; we had moved it from house to house and it was in storage for about three years until we finally found it would fit in our current dining room and provide storage as well as character. One goal of mine while building on a budget (similar to ballin’ on a budget—sidetrack note, there should be a TV show called that) was to keep our home from feeling too “builder grade” so I tried to incorporate pieces that would provide interest and keep it from looking too boxy.

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 8 | Photo by Erin Francois

Because I love mixing styles, I found a mid-century Saarinen-style Tulip table to keep the space from feeling too traditional and then I found these beautiful black and cane armchairs. I didn’t want all four chairs to match so I went thrifting for side chairs and miraculously found these vintage Thonet chairs that were almost too good to be true ($15 each). They looked like they were always meant to be family.

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 8 | Photo by Erin Francois

Vintage Armoire | Mirror | Globe Table Lamp | Sconce | Ceramics (vintage)

I love supporting local family-owned businesses so when I discovered Golden Age Design, I ran (literally) to find a sideboard for this space to hold all our dishes, barware, and it also acts as our liquor cabinet. The owners make two trips to Denmark twice a year where they source vintage pieces and then containership everything they find back to the US. They completely refinish and fully restore the pieces, and they truly are heirloom quality. Ours was a bit of a splurge (to me) but it was one investment piece I that really spoke to me and I knew would last forever.


Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 9 | Photo by Erin Francois

Barstools (similar) | Pendants | Cabinets | Backsplash Tile

When building our kitchen, I added a large kitchen window to our must-haves list though it didn’t leave much room for cabinetry. We couldn’t fit fully custom cabinets into our budget so we went with a semi-custom version which allowed me to create very tall “uppers” to flank our kitchen window which creates a sort of hutch look. Since the kitchen sits at the back of the home and every view from the front door looks into it, I wanted it to look as clean-lined as possible.

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 10 | Photo by Erin Francois

Originally, the kitchen design was drawn out with a peninsula but I changed it to squeeze in an island, and because of that, it created an L-shaped kitchen style that left a big blank wall on one side of the room. I hated that it looked really unfinished as well as looking like an afterthought (which it sort of was) but there wasn’t enough clearance to fit full cabinetry and provide enough walking space around the island. Determined to find a cost-effective solution, I found these really shallow cabinets (9 inches deep). They provide enough storage for things like pet food, supplies, kitchen towels and food storage bags. I also love the look of open shelving so I added these three VERY inexpensive floating shelves to fill the wall space. 

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 11 | Photo by Erin Francois Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 12 | Photo by Erin Francois

Hardware | Sconces | Rug | Faucet

One thing we originally cut from our budget was a tile backsplash so instead, I asked the builder to install shiplap but we were inexperienced and didn’t seal it and it started yellowing in the knots of the wood (it also became really greasy and grimy after a couple of years). I ended up working with another local (woman-owned) business when it came time to replace the original shiplap. I originally met Mercury Mosaics‘ owner, Mercedes, at a couple of events and she reached out to collaborate on our kitchen project together. They make beautiful handcrafted mosaic tiles right here in Minneapolis. I was over the moon, as she and her team are amazing to work with. My friend Morgan with Construction2Style—another local family-owned business who had previously worked themselves with Mercury Mosaics on a project—installed it for us. To me, it’s more than tile. It’s the symbol of three Minnesota women in business who came together to support one another and create something meaningful, one-of-a-kind and beautiful.

Laundry Room

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 13 | Photo by Erin Francois

Flooring | Sink | Faucet | Cabinets | Countertops | Hanging Rack | Lighting & Decor (vintage)

Our laundry room is still under a bit of construction in that I would love to add cabinetry to frame around the washer and dryer. In here, I tried to maintain that classic look with the shaker cabinetry and vintage looking farmhouse sink. We were able to save quite a bit in here because we went with inexpensive flooring (VCT tile) that made me think of my grandma’s kitchen floor and a laminate countertop that really mimics the look and feel of a butcher block. I really love the hanging drying rack especially living in Minnesota so we’re able to hang up all our wet winter gear here.

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 14 | Photo by Erin Francois

Peg Rail | Leather Fly Swatter | Broom & Duster via HomeGoods

I most recently added a peg rail on the adjacent wall to provide some storage solutions for things like brooms, aprons and baskets (below).


Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 15 | Photo by Erin Francois

Blue & White Blanket | Lumbar Pillow | Flushmount Lighting Fixture | Curtains (custom) | Curtain Hardware (custom) | Rug | Wall Color | Bed (no longer available) | Dresser, Chair, Chest, Nighstands, Decor, Art (vintage)

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 16 | Photo by Erin Francois

We started to work on our bedroom about a year ago. The bed, we’ve had for around 15 years and I love it so I didn’t want to change it. The dressers and nightstands were all thrifted. I love mixing materials and styles so here again you see traditional mixed with mid-century and vintage. 

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 17 | Photo by Erin Francois Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 18 | Photo by Erin Francois

Powder Bathroom

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 17 | Photo by Erin Francois

Wallpaper | Mirror | Sconce | Vanity Cabinet, Sink, Faucet, Decor (vintage)

The powder room may just be my arch-nemesis as I recently just wallpapered it and it’s so tiny in here I could barely fit a ladder so being the non-DIY-er that I am, naturally, I thought it was a good idea to put my kitchen stool on top of the toilet seat to try to hang the paper. I completely wiped out faster than I could even realize and hit the floor. I may have even checked myself over to make sure I wasn’t impaled. As if that weren’t enough, I also electrocuted myself while I was cutting wallpaper out around the electrical outlets (okay, I shocked myself. Not fully electrocuted myself but it felt like it).

The only good thing that has come out of the powder room is the vanity. It was an old child’s dresser I found on Craigslist. I knew it was narrow enough to fit into the tiny space but it was really low. My dad is handy (unlike me) so I brought it to his house where he stripped it of the many, MANY layers of chalk paint down to its original beautiful oak and then cut it around ¾ of the way up and added another drawer to add the height we needed and then reattached everything. He stained it (without consulting with me, my heart sank a little when he told me what he’d done) but now I find that I love it and it reminds me of him all the time.

Hallway & Family Room

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 18 | Photo by Erin Francois

Vintage Wood Drawers & French Opera Print Via Fooshoppe

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 19 | Photo by Erin Francois

Rug | Shelves & Brackets | Barn Door & Hardware | Flushmount Lighting 

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 19 | Photo by Erin Francois

Blue Sofa | Chandelier | Curtains | Curtain Hardware | Motorized Window Shade | Pillows (left to right on blue sofa): Tweed Lumbar, Check Pillow, Mustard Plaid | Coffee Table, Floor Lamp, Side Table, Art & Decor (vintage/thrifted)

Our upstairs hallway is pretty wide so I added a few inexpensive bookshelves for more of our book collections and other thrifted pieces. We added a barn door to close off a little room that we use as our TV room. It was supposed to be an office but I like working from all over the house and having one dedicated room would make me feel too closed off so instead, we made a small area where we kick back and watch our favorite shows. In this room I wanted it to feel cozy, so my dad and I worked on paneling a wall and added a vintage fireplace (that doesn’t really work). Here, I again mixed in mid-century, vintage, some rustic and traditional pieces.

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 20 | Photo by Erin Francois

Thank you so much Lea for opening the doors of your beautiful home to the EHD universe. Make sure to check out Lea’s blog, Creekwood Hill, and follow along with her on Instagram.

***photography by Erin Francois

Emily Henderson Creekwood Hill Home 21 | Photo by Jennifer Kamrath
photo by Jennifer Kamrath/Sage Imagery

For more guest house tours, check out these great posts: 

An Exclusive Home Tour from Leanne Ford | A Stylist “Undecorates” a 1929 Tudor(ish) Cottage | A Before & After House Tour Full of DIYs You Might Actually Do Yourself | A Home Crush a Year in the Making | A Mid-Century Modern Inspired Home | A Warm Scandi Inspired Home

The post Tour a Stylist’s Mid-Century-Meets-Traditional “Farmhouse” Full of Thrifted Treasures appeared first on Emily Henderson.

25 Jul 16:54

On the Street…Paris

by The Sartorialist


24 Jul 17:40

Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers

by Erin in Indy

Recently I asked people to give me a list of favorite burger places and a couple of people mentioned Freddy’s for smash burger. It intrigued me—even though it’s a chain, I was feeling smash burger-ish and was with the kids (no Workingman’s Friend for me) so we decided to give it a try.

So it sort of reminds me of In-N-Out Burger on the inside—all red and white and you go up and order at the register and they call your number when it’s ready. However, food-wise, it is more in the style of Steak ‘n Shake (wow, I just noticed the coincidence of the use of “n” in both names). Flat griddled patties with crispy edges, skinny fries and battered onion rings.  They do shakes too—but they are simpler and made with custard. They also have a large menu like Steak ‘n Shake but I think are more successful because of no table service (and the potential of bad service). The food comes out pretty quick too.

The burger was really good—I had a single with their standard set up, which is mustard, pickles and onions. I added a bit of ketchup to it as well. It was really good ($6.49 for single combo meal with fries and drink) . The meat had the crisp lacy edges but was still nice and tender in the middle. My kids both had double cheeseburgers ($7.69 for combo) and were happy to see that they added the extra slice of cheese that they used to have to ask for at Steak n Shake. I liked the long cut thicker pickles as well. The skinny fries were pretty identical to Steak n Shake and served their purpose (Freddy’s gives you a more generous portion though). Freddy’s stands out for its special “fry sauce” though—so I think it is sort of like a special sauce of mayo, ketchup, pickle juice and their burger seasoning—which is a seasoning salt. I really liked some of it on my burger as well as my fries—guessing this is why they don’t put ketchup on the burger since it has ketchup in It (by my estimate anyway). My daughter thought it was distinctly pickle-y, but I really liked it. But I love pickles. Kind of surprised they call it fry sauce though instead of using it as special sauce on the burgers. 

We got some onion rings as well ($2.29) and they tasted pretty good. Again, very similar to Steak n Shake, although these were cooked quite dark. They may have felt a little over done for me, and could have been hotter, but not bad. I am not sure if they are supposed to be cooked like this, since I have never been before, but I would prefer them a little lighter. My daughter got a chocolate shake ($3.79) which she liked, but it wasn’t as interesting as others—it seemed like it wasn’t a hand dipped shake, that it likely came straight out of a machine the way it was. But I don’t  know for sure. They do make sundaes, and Blizzard-like drinks as well.

Overall, this is a very good option for a crispy-edge burger. I am not sure why they are so far only out in the outskirts of Indy, but especially with all the Steak n Shakes closing, they would probably do themselves (and all of us) a service opening a more central location. And Steak n Shake could learn from them and probably be more successful ditching table service. 

So yes, it’s a chain, but yes, I will be eating here again. It’s a solid crispy-edged burger.

Freddy’s (multiple locations)
2740 E. 146th Street
Carmel, IN 46033

08 Jul 17:25

Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder

by Lindsey Johnson
Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder |

Anytime we try a new restaurant, Ben Blair checks to see if there’s any kind of slow-cooked meat on the menu, because if there is, it’s a good bet that I’ll order it. I don’t know if it’s the texture, or that the meat has had a chance to soak up the salt and spices and herbs, but I inevitably love it.

Ages ago, Lindsey told me about her Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder recipe, and I was immediately on board. I’ve been begging her to share it, and today’s the day!

Here’s what Lindsey says:

Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder |

I’ve been wanting to share this Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder recipe for months and months and months… maybe even two years. (Ahem.) It’s been sitting in the draft folder for long enough!

The delay seems to be that every time I make slow cooked pork shoulder with the intention of taking photos, it magically disappears. It starts with me telling my husband he can sneak a little taste. My kids think that means I’ve given blanket permission and it becomes a free-for-all. And then poof! Gone in a flash.

Making the slow cooked pork shoulder all those times has given me ample opportunity to fine tune the recipe so that it has just gotten better and better. I think this is by far the best Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder I’ve had. I’m sure the authentic Mexican chile verde is even better, but for now, this recipe is a keeper.

The sauce is comprised of Mexican-style salsa verde (made with tomatillos and green chiles), onion, ground cumin, garlic, a little brown sugar, and vinegar (the secret ingredient). The other secret ingredient is nothing more than time.

Chile Verde Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder |

The beauty of this recipe is two-fold. First and foremost, it’s easy to make in a slow cooker, on the stove-top, in the oven, and I assume in an Instant Pot. (I don’t have one yet.) I’ve made this all three ways and the difference in taste is minimal. The stovetop and oven slow cooked pork shoulder is a tiny bit more flavorful. ; )

Second, it’s one of the most versatile big-batch recipes you can make. That means cook it once and enjoy it several times during the week or freeze in portions to use later.

If you need some ideas on how to use slow cooked pork shoulder, here is a short list: nachos, enchiladas, soup or stew, tacos, burritos or wraps, over polenta or rice, taco salad, a base for tamale pie, etc.. And the photo above shows a tostada piled high with Chile Verde Pork and a slew of toppings.

Traditional Chile Verde is a Mexican stew that uses most of the same ingredients I’ve included, but is definitely more stew-like. This slow cooker pork shoulder doesn’t have as much sauce or liquid, which makes it more versatile in that array of dishes I mentioned above. But you could add an extra bottle of sauce, plus some chicken broth, and turn it into stew, if desired.

How To Make Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder

The cut of pork used makes a big difference with slow cooking. The leaner cuts, like pork loin, dry out too quickly and that long cooking time doesn’t help. So I tend to use a shoulder roast because it has more marbling and ends up super juicy and flavorful.

Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder |

Tomatillo salsa is my favorite salsa of all. I could drink (and I have) the green salsa from Trader Joe’s. It’s very mild, so it’s super kid-friendly, and has great flavor. I also recommend Frontera, Herdez, La Costeña, or LaVictoria. There are others, but these are the brands most readily available in grocery stores.

Frontera is probably my very favorite because it tastes almost the same as my favorite simmered tomatillo serrano chile sauce recipe from Frontera’s founder, Rick Bayless. It’s just incredible. I’ll link to the recipe in the notes.

Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder |

Talk to me about green chiles. Are you a lover or a hater? Does it depend on how spicy the green chiles are? I’m 100% on board with them. I think my family may even be a little tired of me adding them to so many recipes, but I’m not tired of it. No, never!

Bottled, canned, or fresh green chiles can be used interchangeably in this recipe. The canned or bottled are super easy and taste great. Fresh takes a bit more effort, and even more so if you go the extra mile and roast them first. In the summertime/early fall when Hatch chiles are available, I stock up and freeze them to use during the rest of the year. Trader Joe’s also usually carries frozen fire-roasted Hatch chiles. It’s all about how spicy you want to go.

I experimented with adding vinegar and bay leaves to the green chile pork after looking at other slow cooker recipes for pork roast. I’m not exactly sure what the science is behind the vinegar, but it really makes a difference. The pork doesn’t end up tasting vinegary at all. The bay leaves add another layer of flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you’ll miss if it’s not there. I sometimes add brown sugar depending on how I’ll be using the pork. I recommend adding it the first time you make it and see what you think.

Chile Verde Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder |
Tostadas with Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder


  • 6 corn tostadas (see recipe note)
  • 28 ounce can black or pinto beans, drained, or refried beans
  • 1 1/2 pounds Chile Verde Pulled Pork Shoulder
  • 1/2 cup cotija, queso fresco, or other Mexican cheese, crumbled or shredded
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix combined with 1/4 cup each: sour cream and mayo or Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon each: honey or other sweetener and apple cider or white vinegar, and a pinch of salt
  • Other topping ideas: roasted corn salad (see notes), avocado, tomato, quick-pickled red onions, cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream or Mexican crema, sliced green chiles, etc.

1. If desired, heat tostadas briefly in a hot oven to crisp them up a bit more. Otherwise, place the tostadas on serving plates.
2. Layer the following onto each tostada:
-1/3 to 1/2 cup whole or refried beans
-1/4 pound Chile Verde Pulled Pork
-1/4 -1/2 cup prepared coleslaw
-1-2 tablespoons crumbled or shredded cheese
-Any other toppings
3. Serve immediately.

-Use store-bought or make your own by lightly coating corn tortillas with oil and baking in a 425°F oven for 6-8 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

-To make the corn salad, preheat oven broiler. Place 4 cups fresh or frozen corn, 1/2 cup diced red onion, and 1/2 cup fresh or canned diced green chiles on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Broil for 3-4 minutes if using frozen corn, or 2-3 minutes for fresh corn. Remove pan from oven and turn everything over and broil again for 3-4 minutes or until corn has blackened in spots and smells toasty. Transfer to a bowl and season well with salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a big pinch each: ground cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. Serve warm or cold.

Chile Verde Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 pound pork shoulder roast
  • 16 ounces salsa verde, store-bought or homemade
  • 7 ounce can chopped green chiles (fire-roasted; mild, medium, or hot)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and let heat for 10-15 seconds. Sear the pork shoulder in the hot pan on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in slow cooker.
  2. Add onion and garlic cloves to the skillet. If needed, add a little more oil or water to prevent burning. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the ground cumin and allow to toast for 20-30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  3. Add the salsa verde, green chiles, vinegar, brown sugar (if using), and bay leaf. Stir well and add salt to taste.
  4. Pour the sauce over the pork shoulder and cover with lid. Cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW for 8-10 hours.
  5. When pork is tender, use two forks to pull the pork apart into shreds. Use immediately or store in fridge in airtight container for up to 5 days. Shredded pork can also be frozen for several months in a freezer-proof container.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large Dutch oven with tight fitting lid, heat olive oil. Add pork shoulder and sear well on all sides, about 3-5 minutes each. Remove pork from Dutch oven and set in a bowl or on a plate.
  3. Add a little more oil and onion to the Dutch oven. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic and ground cumin. Cook for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Remove from heat and add the pork roast back to the pot. Pour the salsa over the top, followed by the green chiles, vinegar, and brown sugar, if using. Tuck the bay leaf down into the liquid and sprinkle well with salt.
  4. Place lid on top and put in the oven. Cook for 60-75 minutes. Remove from oven. Take off lid and stir well. Place back in oven with the lid off and continue cooking for another 30-45 minutes, or until the pork is tender and falling apart and the liquid has thickened a little.
  5. Using two forks, shred the pork. Stir well, cover again, and let stand for 10-15 minutes to allow the chicken to absorb some of the sauce.
  6. Use as desired or cool and store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to several months.

Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder |

Oh my goodness, Lindsey. This looks so good. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you. And hey Dear Readers, if you get a chance to try this recipe, I’d love to hear how it goes. I’m especially curious if you prefer it with or without the sugar.

Photos and recipe by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.

The post Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder appeared first on Design Mom.

28 May 15:28

Ukiyo- Revisit

by Erin in Indy

This week hubby and I had a date night and decided on Ukiyo. I was interested to see how the menu had shifted now that we are going into summer. I was not disappointed. First of all, one of the first things they told us were the specials which included soft-shell crab. So instantly, I was happy.

We ordered two soft-shell crabs (there was one per order) ($13 each). Loved the pickled ramps with it—added a saltiness to the crabs that was tasty. They were just lightly fried with corn starch—a very light batter. These were super meaty crabs too—love it when you get a nice bite of crab with the crunchy soft shell. I will admit, I did dip it into some of the sauce from the gyoza—which was a soy/vinegar sauce with a bit of heat.

So those vegetable gyozas ($15) were also so good. They were wontons stuffed with scallions, mushrooms and glass noodles—it was minced inside so it still came across similar in consistency to a pork dumpling even though it was veggie. The filling was super flavorful and the dumpling itself was perfectly seared on one side. Like I said, the slightly spicy vinegar soy dipping sauce was really, really good. I could sit and eat those little dumplings all day. And I am glad to see they finally have dumplings on the menu. Maybe they will do a seafood one someday—that would be so good too.

We had the negiyaki ($13) as well which was a potato, leek, and green onion pancake with a ginger miso sauce and a fried sunny side up egg and fish flakes on top. I enjoyed the flavor of this one a lot, but the stringiness of the leeks and green onions made the texture a little off for me. That egg was perfect though.

We also had the tuna nigiri tasting flight ($16), which was a fun thing to try—you got one piece each of the lean tuna, the fatty tuna, and the really fatty belly tuna. Honestly, I probably liked the first two the best—and even that lean piece just melted in your mouth. The belly tuna was actually a little too fatty for me—made it a little chewy. But hubby loved it. Although he did say he would be perfectly content with either of the first two as well. It was fun to compare them.

Lastly, we had the crab fat fried rice ($17). This might have been hubby’s favorite thing of the evening. I loved the way they put the warm egg yolk in the middle of it to mix in to the rice, which cooked it a little bit more, but still stayed runny, as opposed to scrambling them into the rice. It gave it a luxurious creamy texture. And you can’t go wrong with the big chunks of crab in there. There was also a sweet/tanginess from yuzu and saltiness from miso. 

All in all, this was the best meal I have had at Ukiyo to date. I have always enjoyed it, but I feel like the menu is continuing to evolve and it has been for the better. If you have yet to check it out, now is the time. And hopefully they will still have the soft-shell crab.

4907 49th Street
Indy  46205