10 Questions I Have For Norman, Oklahoma

10 Questions I Have For Norman, Oklahoma

(Odyssey Article 26)

“5. Will someone bring me a Swirl?”

Norman, Oklahoma isn’t just a college town; it’s a community. It’s a place people might call home for a semester or (like me) their whole lives. However, regardless of your time spent in this lovely city, we all have some questions running through our heads as we travel in, around, and through this town from day to day.

From food to fandom, here are the top ten questions I have for Norman, Oklahoma.


1. What’s with all the construction?

2. Will I ever find a parking spot on campus?

3. Can I move in with Bob?

4. Who wants a turkey leg?

5. Will someone bring me a Swirl?

6. Tigers or Timberwolves?

7. What are seasons?

8. Do you like green eggs and ham (and beer)?

9. How do you actually pronounce gyro?

10. Is it football season yet?


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10 Festive Cocktails Guaranteed to Make Your Christmas Merry and Bright

10 Festive Cocktails Guaranteed to Make Your Christmas Merry and Bright

(Odyssey Article 22)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, everything was lit, from the tree to your spouse.

Ah, Christmas…

Except for the cold, it is my favorite time of year. During the holidays, so many cool events take place, people have lifted spirits, and the air just seems a little lighter.

But do you know what else lifts spirits and makes the air lighter? Alcohol!

Check out these ten fabulous cocktails assured to knock your stockings off! (See what I did there?)


1. Apple Cinnamon Cranberry Mimosas

Apple Cinnamon Cranberry Mimosas

Mimosas aren’t just for brunch, y’all.

2. Apple Cider Moscow Mules

Apple Cider Moscow Mules

Time to break out the copper mugs!

3. Cranberry Orange Margaritas

Cranberry Orange Margaritas

Feliz Navidad!

4. Cranberry & Rosemary White Christmas Sangria

Cranberry & Rosemary White Christmas Sangria

We tried this recipe last year. It was delicious!

5. Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer

Rudolph's Tipsy Spritzer

No reindeer games with this one.

6. Salted Caramel White Russian

Salted Caramel White Russian

As sweet and salty as retail workers on Christmas Eve.

7. RumChata Egg Nog Cocktail

RumChata Egg Nog Cocktail

As surprisingly tasty as your head sewn to the carpet.

8. Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Red Wine Hot Chocolate

I love wine. Wine is my favorite.

9. Poinsettia Punch

Poinsettia Spritz Punch

As boozy as it is beautiful.

10. Silent Night Martini

Silent Night Martini

Even Santa can’t keep quiet after a few of these!

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays! Enjoy!


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The Best Thing(s) I Ate Thanksgiving Weekend

The Best Thing(s) I Ate Thanksgiving Weekend

[Odyssey Article 19]

Just living the foodie dream.

Y’all know by now I’m a foodie through and through. I love food, and I love sharing my “foodventures” with you guys. Needless to say, and apparent in my previous article, the holiday season is a foodie’s favorite time of year, and this year’s Thanksgiving goodies did not disappoint.


I’m from Norman, Oklahoma, but I always spend Thanksgiving with family who live out of town. Most years, we travel south to my aunt’s house just north of the Oklahoma-Texas border; however, with my parents recently moving from Tennessee to Missouri, I spent Thanksgiving this year in the Springfield area.

My mom made Thanksgiving dinner, and she stuck to the traditional dishes, as usual. We had turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, Hawaiian sweet rolls, a simple gravy, and the star of the show – my crispy, crunchy green bean casserole. (All the fried onions…)

For dessert, she made a no-bake cherry cheesecake (which my fiance inhaled) and our family’s gelatin salad recipe. The gelatin salad isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing dessert, but it tastes great, and it’s special to me because my mom only makes it this time of year, and it reminds me of all the holidays growing up.


We spent Friday at Silver Dollar City in Branson, and if you aren’t there to ride rides (we weren’t), it’s a foodie’s paradise. I had two types of succotash: a harvest skillet [country ham with a green bean and carrot base] and a southwest skillet [seasoned chicken with a corn and okra base]. However, my mom and I kicked ourselves because the succotash we really wanted hid in the back by the barbecue restaurant, and we were too full by the time we got there. It had brisket with a drool-worthy skillet potato and onion base.

Aside from the skillets, I indulged in some of the best apple cider I ever had (but their wassail is better), various types of fruit butters including blackberry and cherry, the flaky goodness that was a caramel apple turnover, a caramel apple with nuts, house-made fudge and peanut brittle, a ranch burger and fries, and my favorite treat of the day… a giant s’more.

Let me tell you guys about this s’more though… First and foremost, you can get a combo with a large hot chocolate. (It was cold, so I was all over that.) However, the real magic is the s’more itself. They make it with two, thick chocolate chip cookies inside of graham crackers, and then you get to roast your own marshmallows!


Saturday, we bummed it on the couch and watched football games all day, but my mom still made a fabulous beef stew for lunch (one of my favorites), as well as an easy Velvetta queso with chips.

Yet, without question, Sunday gave our stomachs the true test…

We ate a light breakfast (eggs, bacon, Texas toast with fruit butter), and then we had early dinner at Lambert’s Cafe in Ozark, and you never leave there hungry.

They serve stick-to-your-ribs country classics in huge portions, but they’re most famous for their table to table appetizers or “pass arounds” [black eyed peas, fried potatoes and onions, macaroni and tomatoes, fried okra, sorghum, and apple butter] and their “thrown rolls”. (Yes, they literally throw them at you.)

I ordered the roast beef with mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn, and then I sampled some fried potatoes and onions, fried okra, and (of course) the hot rolls.

I honestly didn’t think I could down one more bite… until I remembered they had blackberry cobbler with ice cream (a.k.a. our kryptonite). However, I was glad my dessert stomach came through because it could honestly be the best I ever had.

(Not sure if you guys are as much of cobbler connoisseurs as I am, but the crust is what makes a good cobbler, and this cobbler had the perfect crust.)


My sweet tooth is huge, so it’s no surprise the desserts topped my list, but fried things always come in a close second (tied with wine spritzers and mimosas). All in all, my stomach and I are pleased with the holiday weekend. Nothing is better than family, football, and festive food.


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A Foodie’s (Ideal) Thanksgiving

A Foodie’s (Ideal) Thanksgiving

[Odyssey Article 18]

A collection of our favorite Thanksgiving foods and food recipes.

Mikayla and I might be long distance best friends, but the holidays always bring people together. We also make the perfect pair because Mikayla likes to cook, and I like to eat. (No shame.) We always talk about food and recipes, so with the holidays right around the corner, we decided it’s only fitting we put all our favorite traditional recipes and food finds in one place. If we had it our way, this would be our perfect Thanksgiving feast. (Just try keeping your mouth from watering!)


Appetizers

Thanksgiving Appetizers

Mikayla: “Apps are awesome, but I always eat way too much of them and forget to save room for the main course… Regardless, I like switching up the appetizers. They’re generally quick recipes, so it’s easy to make a small variety. Here is one of my go-to’s.”

Carson: “You can’t go wrong with a good veggie tray and creamy ranch dip. However, my cousin often makes amazing cream cheese and bacon-stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers to start the meal.”

Main Course

Turkey

Roasted Turkey

Mikayla: “I love cooking, and I look forward every year to what I’m going to do with my Thanksgiving turkey. I started brining them a few years ago, and I’m a pretty big fan of the brine technique now. This is the turkey recipe I’m trying this year. I can’t wait!”

Carson: “Turkey is the Thanksgiving staple, but my favorite turkey, aside from the one my uncle deep fried a few years back, is actually from a barbecue place called Rudy’s. (Pair the smoked turkey with their house pickles, and you’ll never go back… except to buy more.)”

Ham

Roasted Ham

Mikayla: “I’m not a huge fan of ham (except on rare occasions). However, this recipe sounds pretty ‘ham’ good.”

Carson: “Honey ham is one of my all-time favorites. Throw a couple slices of pineapple and some Hawaiian sweet rolls into the mix, and the taste buds will sing your praises!”

Side Dishes

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Mikayla: “This dish isn’t one making my leftovers list. Like Carson mentions, it’s just not the same without that fried onion crunch. Nonetheless, this one with fried shallots looks great!”

Carson: “To me, green bean casserole is special because it’s only as good as it tastes on Thanksgiving day. Otherwise, the onions (my favorite part) lose their crispy crunch. My mom makes this easy and delightful recipe.”

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Mikayla: “I could live off just potatoes for the rest of my life and not complain. But even to that extreme, I never get sick of my mom’s mashed potatoes. She “secretly” puts in a little bit of ranch dressing when mixing them up… (but you didn’t hear that from me.)”

Carson: “I’m what you call an ‘equal opportunity potato eater’, and I never met a potato I didn’t like. (Y’all know what I’m talking about.) However, I do prefer my mashed potatoes with the skins and then loaded up with cheese, bacon, and the works.”

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole

Mikayla: “Sweet potatoes are awesome. As much as I love standard potatoes, you must have both on Thanksgiving. Here’s another recipe finding its home on my table this year – Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon.”

Carson: “My mom typically makes a really simple, pecan-less sweet potato casserole, but I saw a video the other day for these sweet potato bites, and they are too cute not to mention!”

Carrots

Rainbow Carrots

Mikayla: “I’m usually not a fan of cooked carrots. (Raw and covered in ranch dressing, I tolerate them.) However, this recipe was killer. It even made my cousin, who hates carrots, go back for a second helping.”

Carson: “Like Mikayla, I’m not a big carrot person, but this recipe for whole honey-roasted carrots on Pinterest definitely caught my attention.”

Corn

Roasted Corn Cobs

Mikayla: “I live in Wisconsin, and the second you leave the city, it turns right into corn fields. Granted, sweet corn is WAY better when you have it fresh-picked in summer, but I have nothing against creamed corn either.”

Carson: “When it comes to corn, y’all… I’m on a starchy cloud. One of my favorite creamed corns also comes from Rudy’s (copycat recipe here), but I do have a weakness for buttery, parmesan-crusted, grilled corn on the cob, as well.”

Rolls

Dinner Rolls

Mikayla: “I don’t bake much, but my dad, brother, and I have a tendency of making everything possible into a sandwich. Thanksgiving is no exception. Toss me a roll, and watch me go!”

Carson: “If you guys didn’t realize by now, all carbs are fair game, so any form of bread is the same story. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has dinner rolls on another level, but (on a side note) I do miss J.R.’s Bar-B-Q’s sweet, jalapeno cornbread muffins which were out of this world.” (J.R.’s closed its doors awhile back, but here’s another scrumptious jalapeno cornbread muffin recipe to satisfy your cravings.)

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Mikayla: “I can go for a smooth or chunky cranberry sauce, but if you look to switch it up, you should try these sugared cranberries. They’re incredibly photogenic and give you the perfect combo of tart and sweet.”

Carson: “I prefer smooth, jellied cranberry sauce over the chunky kind, but you can give your cranberry sauce an upgrade with a little port and orange!”

Add-Ons

Stuffing

Stuffing

Mikayla: “Due to a series of unfortunate events (a.k.a. college), I refuse to eat box stuffing ever again. However, I still love stuffing on Thanksgiving, and this apple cranberry rosemary stuffingpairs perfectly with my turkey for this year.”

Carson: “Whether you refer to it as dressing or stuffing, I don’t care for mushy bread, so feel free to call it whatever you please. Nonetheless, don’t think I left you hanging! Here’s a recipe for a delicious (looking) French bread stuffing.”

Gravy

Brown Gravy

Mikayla: “My advice: pour it on everything, and (a little leftovers tip) hot gravy and cold turkey together are a new kind of wonderful.”

Carson: “Before it closed, we had a seafood restaurant down the road called The Shack. It had what my mom referred to as “crack gravy”, and (true to its name) it was the best gravy to every touch my tongue and clog my arteries.”

Dessert

Pumpkin Pie

Mikayla: “I eat my pumpkin pie the right way – smothered in whipped cream. Yet, if I had my number one dessert pick, it would be an apple-cherry crisp. This recipe is pretty close, but I suggest using your favorite kind of apple (about half to three quarters the amount) and then adding tart cherries.”

Carson: “I know pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan pies are traditional, and I do like them, but they aren’t my number one pick. At the end of the day, Marie Callender’s cherry pie is my absolute favorite, and I’m super sad the one by my apartment closed down. (R.I.P.) However, if we aren’t talking pie, I’m completely hooked on my aunt’s 7 Layer Delight.” (Check out a similar recipe here.)

Leftovers

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Mikayla: “Put EVERYTHING on a sandwich. That’s what I always do, but you must layer it just right, so the gravy ends up in the middle. Otherwise, it’s just a sloppy mess leaving you feeling like you wrestled a turkey… and lost.”

Carson: “My mom likes to eat her Thanksgiving leftovers cold right out of the fridge (*gag*). I have to at least throw them in the microwave… but if you feel fancy, definitely give this turkey panini or beer batter fried turkey recipe a try!”


The holidays will be here before we know it, but let us not forget the true spirit of this time of year. Spend time with the people who mean the most to you, sample all the foods you enjoy, and live/love every moment. It’s time to get away from the hustle and bustle of summer and fall and slip into the comforts of the upcoming new year. Happy Holidays, everyone, and good eating!


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Hidden Gems for Foodies in the OKC Metro (Odyssey Article 14)

Hidden Gems for Foodies in the OKC Metro

Because food is life.

If you love food (like me), you know nothing’s better than experiencing a restaurant for the first time. The atmosphere, the food, and the feelings are all brand new. Luckily, through curiosity and hunger, I discovered a few special places tucked away in the hustle and bustle of the OKC Metro.

So fellow foodies, sail away with me into food paradise as we uncover the treasures that are these hidden gems, and don’t forget your taste buds!


Breakfast

Ozzie’s Diner

Ozzie'sDiner

Concealed inside OU Westheimer Airport in Norman, Ozzie’s Diner is a staple in this college town. Serving traditional diner cuisine, the restaurant is best known for its All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast (which includes their famous Biscuits and Gravy). Bring your appetite, but leave your plastic at home because Ozzie’s is cash only!

Juan del Fuego

Juan del Fuego

Tucked away in the Red Bud Plaza aside Sam’s Club in Norman, Juan del Fuego offers breakfast favorites with a Mexican twist. I recommend the Fiesta Plato with Fuego Fries (house skillet potatoes) or the Ranchera Omelet. Both are so good, you’ll lick your plate clean!

Lunch

Victoria’s Pasta Shop

Victoria's Pasta Shop

Back in the winding one-way streets of OU’s Campus Corner (and nestled next to Crest off 104th Street in SW OKC), Victoria’s Pasta Shop puts a modern twist on Italian classics. Their Two-Piece Cheese Bread takes up an entire plate, and the Lasagna Rolls are a must have. You won’t regret anything, except wishing you wore bigger pants.

The Stuffed Olive

The Stuffed Olive

Next to Brown’s Driving School off Penn in a fairly remote little business plaza in West Moore/South OKC, The Stuffed Olive is a foodie’s dream come true. Everything on menu is made from scratch daily, and the menu also changes seasonally. The chef-owner has a set menu; however, you can come back each day for a different, delicious special. I never ate anything from here I wouldn’t order again.

Nosh

Nosh

Hidden in the “Storage Strip” off 19th Street in Moore next to Showplace Market, Nosh is sophisticated home style cooking. In addition to the usual beverages, they have a hot/cold tea service, a daily fruit infused spa water, and a daily flavored lemonade. On my most recent trip, I enjoyed Wednesday’s Pineapple Lemonade (I had three… or four… glasses), The Best Chicken Sandwich in the World (They aren’t lying) served with Ranch-Dusted House Chips, and we ended the meal with their seasonal Pumpkin Tart a.k.a when a cinnamon roll and pumpkin pie have a baby.

As Nosh is my favorite restaurant on this Hidden Gems List, I also recommend their Pot Roast Pot Pie and Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese. (They have a featured Daily Mac every day, but you can request any of them on the days they aren’t featured.)

Dinner

McNellie’s Abner Ale House

McNellie's

Squeezed next to Syrup Breakfast Boutique in Downtown Norman, it’s easy to miss McNellie’s among the neighboring shops, unless you look for it’s bright red paint job. While the pub is mostly known for it’s 200+ beer selection, it also offers quality bar food. I suggest going on Wednesday for their $4 Burger Night. The Charburgers are fantastic when paired with Beer Battered Fries and your cocktail or ale of choice.

Jamil’s Steakhouse

Jamil's Steakhouse

Veiled among the business and medical buildings of Lincoln Boulevard in OKC, Jamil’s Steakhouse is small, but it is mighty. The restaurant serves conventional steakhouse fare with an added Mediterranean flare. Their in-house pita bread was the best I ever had, they cooked my tender steak to perfection, and my baked potato was just the right amount of crisp on the outside and velvet on the inside.

(Jamil’s is on the pricey side, but they offer a half price Steak Dinner for Two or a discounted Lobster Dinner for Two via Groupon.)

Vast

Vast OKC

This restaurant is better known in Downtown OKC; however, it’s location makes it a perfect addition to this list. Vast, housed on the top floor of the Devon Tower, is prime spot for a date night, anniversary, or special occasion. It is expensive, but it’s well worth it. The food and cocktails are on point, the service is excellent, and the view is breathtaking (especially at night).

Dessert

il Dolce Gelato

il Dolce Gelato

Located discretely in the Robinson Crossing Shopping Center in Norman, il Dolce is as cute on the inside as it is sweet (literally). The dainty shop offers 24 flavors of gelato daily, as well as Italian Lavazza coffee and espresso. It’s the perfect place for a study break or an after dinner sweet treat. (I recommend anything with chocolate!)

Crimson & Whipped Cream

Crimson & Whipped Cream

Right next door to Victoria’s Pasta Shop on Campus Corner, Crimson & Whipped Cream is the bakery to make all your sweet dreams come true. They serve a variety of coffee and baked goods, including five different types of cookies per day, and then various daily specials. Nonetheless, my weakness is cupcakes, and they have the best Red Velvet I ever had.


I highly recommend all of these lovely and local restaurants and shops, so if you haven’t visited them all, you have places to be! Also, keep your eyes peeled for other secret eats because, as you know, they’re always bigger than your stomach. Bon appetit!

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