Buche de Noel

Wanted to pop in with a photo of our Buche de Noel from this weekend.


The hardest part of this cake was making time to finish it. When I first started the process on Wednesday, I realized midway through creating the ganache filling, that I’d run out of powdered sugar for the outside buttercreme.

So I put off finishing it. I filled, rolled and placed it in the fridge. I didn’t forget about it, but life got really busy for 2 days.

Then last night happened and we all kind of got jostled, and so I said, today is the day, we finish the cake. We do it with style and we finish icing it it with the love for our French friends who originally created this cake.

Je t’aime Paris.

Welcome Back : A Quick Year Review in Food Pictures

Hello Everyone!!

Let’s talk about blogging. It’s been a rough year for blogging, but an amazing year for food! We went on hiatus, as life got a little busy during my “day job” and have been keeping up with food and what not purely on the Instagram.

Here’s a run down of all the goodies we went to, but didn’t make a blog out of, which you can also see on the Facebook Fan Page, as we’re loading those right now and creating new photo albums. ūüôā

Last holiday season, we made some standards: Chocolate sheet cakes, cream cheese bars, scones, cloverleaf rolls, creme brulee and meringues.

Over the Summer…. we BBQ’d our tongs off, creating a corn cob smoker, making delicious ribs and enjoying a ton of ravishing drinks. We celebrated one of the Culinary Rebel Dining Companion’s 65th birthday in July… and we couldn’t think of a better birthday dinner than amazing corn cob smoked ribs.

Aside from my day job, or running around town eating foods, I have the opportunity to work for the City of Mission, and help run their Farmers Market. I got to enjoy working with some amazing volunteers, and getting to know some local farmers. It was hard work, but I loved every minute of it, and can’t wait to get back out there next summer with them. Here are some photos of the Farmers Market.

There were a LOT of great food trucks this year, and we were all more than happy to eat some of their mobile delicacies.

We also met with some delicious drinks, great appetizers, and happy times with family and friends. Most of all, we missed writing and missed sharing all the fun with you. So we’re back.

A couple new things coming, not just reviews, but some adventures in cooking, traveling mischief and tasty new recipes. We’ve got a couple new places to explore, including some new favorite BBQ joints, and I’m excited to share some “we can cook like a pro” recipes that ended up turning out pretty good.

Visit the Facebook page at:  www.facebook.com/culinaryrebelconfessions
Visit the Instagram page: TheCulinaryRebel (which is not just food but fun life stuff too!)

Stick around, we’re gonna get tasty!! Welcome back!

Local Dinner Hero: Fireside BBQ


Fireside BBQ is a must eat in Overland Park

I’m a huge supporter of local emergency services personnel, and anyone who can combine my favorite things: BBQ, Firefighting and Family… has my vote.

Which is why, when The Kansas City Star did an article on Fireside BBQ, explaining the basis of the restaurant were those three things, I was there in a heartbeat.

When I was living in Maryland, way many years ago, I started out as a volunteer fire administrator, and then went on to be a firefighter. It’s a BIG DEAL in Maryland, they are the land of fire, and to this day, I miss my fire family. Once you’ve been in that line of work, you understand the value of family (not just blood family, but your fire family) and the value of a good meal (usually pretty quick).

Walking into Fireside BBQ, you know you’re going to get a good meal. It’s on the corner of a strip mall across from my high school friends dance studio, where she taught me how to tap dance. Being in that area brought back some good memories, and the warm welcome from the people behind the counter just made you feel all warm and fuzzy. The owner, Mr.Barnes, was right there with a warm smile, wearing a Shawnee Mission West tshirt, and talking about everything. The friendliest man I have ever met, he made you want to sit down in line right there and just listen to his stories. I’m sure there are lots to be heard, but at that moment, BBQ was on everyone’s minds.


Simple menu, delicious sides, and affordable!

Introducing us to the house made sausage, a combination of ground beef and meats with a splash of spices, we were already salivating when he did this…


Cutting up some house sausage for us to try.






That’s right, he cut up some of the deliciousness for us to try, on the house. It hit the spot.

My dining companions each got their favorites, pulled pork, burnt ends and the sausage, while I decided I’d get my standard order of beef brisket. When I order BBQ for the first time from somewhere, the beef brisket is my go to piece of meat. It’s how I weigh and measure BBQ, because it’s very cut and dry… it’s either really good or really bad. Fireside BBQ did NOT disappoint. The beef brisket was delicious.


Beef Brisket sandwich with a side of cheesy potatoes and a scoop of apple dump cake.

Pulling apart and tender, the brisket had a full flavor palate without being overdone or smokey. I started forming my sandwich, like you do, by pulling some pieces off, so everything would fit on the bun. I almost didn’t stop eating the meat itself, thinking I could leave the bun behind, but I didn’t want to waste good bread. The massive size of the regular sandwich left me wondering just how big the large sandwich was, but I didn’t have time to think about that, as I dug into it. The beef was so delicious, it didn’t really need any sauce, but I decided to go with one of the 3 local sauces they had on tap. The sauce only kicked up the sandwich a notch, and I was in heaven.

The favorite of the table however, was the cheesy potato side. A mound of shredded potato, creamy cheesy goodness and of course, bacon, leaves your mouth wondering, “Can I eat a gallon of this?”

If you’re chatting around with the man in charge, you’ll find out his regulars have created a “tri-fecta” with the sides, featuring a 1/3 of a scoop of each: cheesy corn, cheesy potatoes and beans. I went straight for the cheesy potatoes, however Ma went for the tri-fecta and highly suggests the beans. She also ordered the deviled egg potato salad, which I snagged a bite of and recommend it as well. It featured a really enjoyable yellow mustard based potato salad, with thick chunks of potato and just the right amount of spice. It’s definitely not yo’ Mama’s potato salad, but you’re gonna love it (we promise not to tell her that).


Inside the Fireside BBQ, check out all those trophies and cool memorabilia.

When all is said and done, the scoop of apple dump cake rounded out a well cooked BBQ meal. The pricing was just right, and could reasonably feed a family of four. Other fun items on the menu included a “BBQ Sundae” featuring your favorite meat and two sides in a to-go cup, which was a unique and mouthwatering deal. I’d highly recommend that if you’re on the go.

Looking around the joint, you realize that it is minimally dressed, with the trophies of BBQ challenges the owner won throughout his career, mixed with photos/memorabilia of a long fire career. The light decoration helps you realize that this is a family run operation, staying true to the point of opening it’s doors; bringing good tasting BBQ to the community.

If you head down 69 Hwy, stop off at 103rd street, take a left, and take the first right into the little shopping area there. Make the stop at Fireside BBQ, say hey to Mr. Barnes and his crew, and enjoy some true Kansas City BBQ. Support your local joints (even if he is a SMW fan… we can’t fault him for not being a NorthWester ūüėČ )!

The Final Tally

Atmosphere : 9.5/10
Staff : 10/10
Food Plating/Taste : 10/10
Menu Variety : 9.5/10
Rebel Favoritism: 10/10

Total Score: 98/100
(A new high scoring joint! We don’t get high 90’s that often!)

If you’d like to visit Fireside BBQ pop this address in your GPS: 10400 Mastin St. Overland Park KS 66212
Check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firesidebbqllc

Buying Local: Farmers Markets

Merriam Farmers Market

Merriam Farmers Market

Farmers markets range from small to large, someone’s driveway to parking lots to covered city spaces like the one above. The one big thing they all have in common is that they bring the best local (and friendly!) producers, all to one place for your shopping experience.

Being a Farmers Market Seller

I had an awesome opportunity to be a producer at the Shawnee Farmers Market for a couple Saturdays this year. I loved it. There’s something about taking items that you’ve home grown or crafted, and sharing them with others. It’s a great feeling, and that same high that you get when you’re in the kitchen, knowing someone is going to enjoy your favorite dish.

It’s not just talking to your customers though, there’s a whole world of fellow farmer and producer comraderie that you don’t get anywhere else (except maybe in the culinary industry). When you’re a first time seller, the others are a little wary, but there always seems to be that one guy or gal that comes around and kind of bonds everyone. He’s usually been there for a while, he’s got years of farmers marketing under his belt, his truck is outfitted to hold all the waterproof boxes you’ve ever seen, and his tarp/tent/table setup is like a well oiled machine. When he comes to your table to ask you “20 questions” you give the best answers, and when he tips his hat with a smile and looks around with a nod to everyone else, you know you’re okay.

Maybe that was just my experience with the little old couple in Shawnee, but that’s what it feels like, because after that, everyone from the other booths come to check out your wares and get to know you. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of the market and sit around cheering each other on.

Local Community Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets are a great source of not only local produce, but a builder of community among neighbors. It helps you figure out whose farm that is that you pass with all the pretty sunflowers, or what’s really going on with the local honey bee population. The Farmers Market brings you local, fresher than fresh produce, that helps you combat your allergies (true story) and you’re not paying crazy high prices to the “man”, it’s going right back to the local farm.¬†Around here, there are a few local Farmers Markets that have really put themselves out there on social media, asking people to come visit. I’m only going to dive into the closest three to my location, but feel free to pop your city and the words Farmers Market into Google to find your closest option.

Merriam Farmers Market

We recently visited the Wednesday night Merriam Farmers Market, which was a little sparse on sellers, but we suspect that was because it was about 100 degrees, and a weeknight. We were surprised to even get a parking spot, because on Saturdays, you have to park all over Downtown Merriam and walk.

Featuring different produce available during different seasons, feel free to check out their website for more information and a produce calendar: Merriam Farmers Market.

They’re open Saturdays from 7 am to 1 pm (May 3rd – Oct 11th)
Also for 2014, they feature Wednesday nights from 4 pm to 7 pm (June 4th to Aug 27th)

To get there: From Interstate-35, take the Johnson Drive exit and head west.  Go over the railroad tracks, and take a right on to Merriam Drive. Go approximately three block north on Merriam Drive and the Marketplace pavilion will be on your left.

Overland Park Farmers Market

Another local market is Overland Park Farmers Market where no matter what day you go, you will be fighting for a parking spot because of its popularity. I’ll tell you right now though, it is worth the walk/struggle/parking madness. OPFM features over 70 vendors, live music, and they’ve been doing this for over 30 years! They have it all down to a fine science, and their vendors bring some of the freshest produce and baked goods I’ve ever seen. Unique to their market is that the OP merchants come down into the market area as well and get into the fun.

More info: Overland Park Farmers Market

They’re open¬†Saturday: April 12-Sept. 27 – 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m
Saturday: Oct. 4 to Nov. 22 – 8 a.m. to 1 p.m
Wednesday: May 21-Sept. 24 – 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m

They also have a Holiday Market that will be announced later in the year. Find them on Facebook for photos and fun!

To get there, pop this address into your gps: 7950 Marty St. Overland Park, KS 66204

Shawnee Farmer’s Market

Last, but certainly never least is a smaller market, but packs a big punch and that’s the Shawnee Farmers Market. They congregate in the parking lot of Shawnee City Hall (NW corner of Johnson Drive and Nieman Rd) on Saturday mornings. The staples of the market include a husband and wife team with their jams/jellies, a husband and wife team with their fresh veggies, and the honey lady (or honey guy, depending on who comes to the market). There’s also a couple of best friends who have been embroidering together for years, and a very unique craftswoman who features fairy sculptures. All in all, it’s a plethora of delightful vendors, and as the season gets longer, more join the already packed little parking lot. Park to the west side of city hall for good parking, and short walking distance, and get there early!

For More Info: Shawnee Farmers Market

They’re open Saturdays (May thru October) 7 am to 4 pm
(Sometimes they pack up early, so get their before 1pm for the best selection)

Where: Shawnee City Hall Parking lot – Corner of Johnson and Nieman, you can’t miss it!

In the end… get out there and support your local farmers and producers! Make a friend, eat good food and enjoy your time in the sunshine!


Gert’s Grille: College Fans Unite!

The Bar at Gert's Grille

The Bar at Gert’s Grille

When you see Gert’s Grille, you don’t really think anything of it, another hole in the wall sports bar across from a college campus. Set in a strip mall ( a reoccurring theme in the places we eat) and tucked back from College Blvd, you find more than what you came for when you open the doors.

The bar area was packed with sports fans as you can see, crowded around a big set of televisions playing the usual sports stations. There was a varying amount of college pride, stretching the gambit of Kansas colleges, and of course being across from the community college, seemed to draw a good clip of students.

The dining area was pretty sparse (though it was still early in the day) and I could see where this place could get packed pretty darn quickly. We were there to dine because of a Groupon that the Norb had bought online. Four of their famous sandwiches or salads for $20. Not too shabby.

When you hear sandwich though, you don’t expect this…

Massive Sandwich

Massive Sandwich

Gert’s Grille is known for these massive sandwiches. The bread is like heaven, and after an inquiry with the server she said that the bread is locally baked, and brought to their location daily, which was kind of cool. I’m glad they put the chips on the tray next to it, so you get the full image of just how huge these sandwiches are, and they don’t let you down. The meat, cheese and fixin’s all taste extremely fresh! The chips are also provided by an inherently Kansas company (I can’t remember where, but the back of the package showed the locale) and I love when restaurants use products from their home states.

Don’t forget though, it mentioned you could choose a salad, and I was grateful that someone at our table wanted one, because they were just as huge:

Big Salads

Big Salads

The atmosphere as I looked around further was that of, again, a typical college bar. Well used fixtures but dwarfed by excellent food, and massive televisions. I particularly enjoy when you get a take away, and the take away here is a cup.

IMG_20140723_170139 Which has come in handy on numerous occasions for outdoor sipping of your favorite beverage, and watering plants.

What can I say, I’m a stickler for free.

However, don’t get too excited, as only 1 refill on these bad boys before you’re cut off, so drink wisely. This is hard for me because I’m usually a pretty thirsty person, and can take on a couple glasses of iced tea, but I digress.

All in all, Gert’s Grille is the atmosphere you’re looking for, if you enjoy sports bars and hanging with a crowd at the bar. Go early for easy dining/seating, and enjoy massive sandwiches. The menu does feature other products such as burgers and snacks, but I’d suggest the sandwich. The staff is awesome and the lady who helped us answered all of our crazy questions.

I would definitely eat here again for great flavor.

The Final Tally

Atmosphere : 7/10
Staff : 10/10
Food Plating/Taste : 8/10
Menu Variety : 6/10
Rebel Favoritism: 8/10

Total Score: 78/100

If you would like to visit Gert’s Grille they are located at: 12018 College Blvd, Overland Park KS
Their website is under construction, but their menu is up at:  www.gertsgrille.com

Recipe: Spinach Balls

Tasty Green Things

Tasty Green Things

I love Pinterest as much as the next girl (find my pinterest, instagram and facebook page in the side bar later), and sometimes you have wins, other times you have fails. Today’s win was inspired by Pinterest, but liberally changed to create what I think turned out to be an even tastier version of a “spinach ball”.

These little guys pack a pretty big punch, and I think they’d be great as an appetizer. I was even trying to figure out what kind of dip they would be good with, most likely a homemade marinara, or even used in your spaghetti sauce.

The original recipe called for boxes of frozen spinach; why use that when I have a massive bag of fresh spinach? Also called for Pepperidge Farm brand bread crumbs; again, why use that when I had some day old garlic bread? See what I’m doing there?

I’ve never been a huge fan of leftovers, but when you can take what you have on hand or in your fridge and create something new, that means you’re on the right track to chef-dom. Remember when we talked about what we use Herbs for a couple months ago? THIS is the perfect recipe to incorporate some of that beautiful basil, a dash of chives and a couple ruffly bits of parsley.

Here are some photos and we’ll talk through it along the way.

1. I chopped up the two pieces of garlic bread I had left into 1×1 cubes. Tossed them on a pan, and placed them in the oven for 20 minutes on 350 till they were crunchy and brown.

cut bread The best part about this recipe is that you can add/subtract any part of it. The basic factors need to stay roughly the same. They asked for bread crumbs, I had bread. This was one of those big garlic french breads from the grocery store. I was very lucky that the family had eaten all but the last two slices. It was already pretty seasoned.

However, if you are using a more dry bread, something not so seasoned, feel free to cube, toss with a little olive oil and your favorite seasoning. If going with this method, you may need to let it go into the oven for 20 minutes, toss and then another 20 minutes to get it crisp.



2. While your bread is drying out and crisping in the oven, let’s chop up our herbs and spinach. I took a big handful of spinach out of the bag, 4 big plump basil leaves, about half a dozen chive strands, and a nice little clip of parsley… here they are as a whole (chop the herbs pretty fine, chop the spinach roughly into small bits).

spinach and herbs

These herbs are fresh from the garden (the spinach is Popeye brand if you must know, it’s the one thing I don’t grow).

If you haven’t created a container garden of fresh herbs, you should really give it a try (or even try it in your home). They’re a delightful addition to every meal, and when they really start growing, your friends will love you too, because you can give it away.

For a packet of chopped up chives like the ones I have here, only shorter to get into the little plastic container, the grocery charges you around $8 bucks a pop. That grouping of chives is one of a dozen I’ve clipped so far, and the plant itself was $2 at the local nursery. Think about it.


3. Shred that cheese up! ¬†We’re using a nice hard Parmesan, fresh grated on the small loops of a box grater, and a dash of Romano as well.

parmesan cheese

Noticed I’ve eyeballed all of this (its because we’re just going with the flow here)… about a half cup or so all together.

I love fresh grated Parmesan. It’s a nice hard cheese, grates well, and has a touch of salty tang to it. That grated crap you get in a shaker can is not worth your time or effort. I toss about 3 tablespoons of Romano in for a nice edge to it all. Keeps the flavors moving.

Keep some blocks of cheese in the fridge, invest in a nice four sided box grater, and you’ll save every time. Especially when it comes to the “bags” of cheese you’re spending 5 bucks on, they’re covered in preservatives, just let them go. Keep it fresh.

4. Blend it all up with some butter and eggs. Here’s where I get into some measurements.

all the indgredients

When the bread was crispy and warm, my “sous chef”, Ma, crunched it all up with a fork and her fingers. It came out to be about a cup of bread crummies. Half a cup of the cheese, and while it looks small, there’s about two cups of green stuff hiding underneath all of that.

To this bowl we add about 4 tablespoons of melted butter and mix all around.

Take 3 eggs and crack into a separate bowl. Whisk the eggs, and then pour into the main bowl. Which the melted butter having been mixed with the cheese, spinach and bread crumbs should be cooled down and happy now.

To all of this, add some fresh ground pepper and a couple dashes of garlic salt, if you have it. It will give it a little extra flavor.

Blend around… and now comes the FUN!!


5. Make some BALLS!!

spinach balls on the pan


This is the fun part… I took an ice cream scooper, and packed it with the mixture. You can put them pretty close on the pan if need be, as they don’t spread. They just kind of sit there.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

When I took them out, I shoveled them onto a plate to cool, and I have to say, once they were, they were a hit. I thought I’d be the only one eating them.




What do you eat with the spinach balls? How Do I serve them? What do they taste like?

Here’s what I plated my spinach balls with to make a nice well balanced meal:

chicken dinner

Roasted chicken breast, cucumbers and spinach balls

What do they taste like?

They taste like a cheesy meatball almost. If you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative to meatballs, this may very well be the ideal candidate for your next spaghetti.

How do I serve them?

Serve them any way you’d like. I’m thinking as a side dish, just like I did, or as an appetizer. They could be a good fancy dinner party moment, or even just as a snack. They’re pretty filling, so a couple spinach balls will do you nicely.

Next time you’re looking for something random and delicious, try out creating a spinach ball. They firm up really well, and just like a meatball, they freeze very nicely too!


Paulo & Bill: What Did I Pay For?

Bread...? Maybe.... or styrofoam? and olive oil with balsamic.... jet fuel?

Bread…? Maybe…. or styrofoam? and olive oil with balsamic…. jet fuel?

When you first walk into Paulo & Bill, you think, “oh this is delightful…” because the atmosphere seems to be on par with a very upscale Italian restaurant. I was feeling slightly under dressed and then I remembered that this restaurant is sandwiched in a parking lot along with a brewhaus and movie theater. As I looked around at the other patrons, I realized my capri jeans and dress shirt were quite fine for the occasion.

After the waiter took our drink orders, he brought us back a plate of what I can only describe was styrofoam in disguise of a very flat unreasonably dry lightly seasoned with no flavor bread. I would feel bad for saying this if it weren’t true, but I am a woman who makes her own focaccia bread when she wants it, so there’s no reason a decent restaurant can’t get it right. The olive oil was dull and tasted like standard cooking oil, while the balsamic tasted of a tar jet fuel flavor that made me think it had been left open to sour in the little silver carafe that the man poured it from.

What I soon realized after the waiter spilled half the martini from the shaker before pouring the rest in Dad’s glass waiting on the table, was that they were playing a very odd blend of music. It was not unlike someone’s bad IPOD mix track had been plugged into the surround sound system. So bad that when they brought out our food, the music started blaring, “Let it Go” from the Frozen soundtrack (this was of course after a few very old school Whitney Houston ala The Bodyguard had just finished up).

What you would think to be playing in this very beautifully done up restaurant was maybe some old rat pack tunes, a good Frankie or Sammy swooning their little hearts out, not a rendition of the latest Disney Radio songs. It soured the atmosphere, but not as much as what happened next.

By shear luck, all three of us at the table ordered some form of chicken dish, and none of us were quite pleased. I will say that all of us had the same time with our chicken, even though all three pieces were cooked in different ways, they were all dry and stingy. It was as if the outsides had been heat lamped for quite some time and thrown into whatever sauce they had decided was best.

I had the Chicken Piccata, which was described on their menu as, “saut√©ed chicken breast, spiced roasted tomatoes, artichoke¬†hearts, capers, mashed potatoes, lemon cream sauce”.

I loved artichoke hearts, capers and lemons… they are all weaknesses for me, as the combination when done well, has a very sweet sour salty flavor to it. Especially when you tell me you’re making a lemon cream sauce. This is what it looked like:

Chicken piccata soup?

Chicken piccata soup?

The worst part was the overwhelming sour taste of the almost rancid tasting artichoke hearts, flourished with the tangy pungent caper and topped off with the over lemon “cream” sauce that took over the whole plate. I understand that you want the flavors to meld, but dumping half a saute pan of sauce over everything is a bit much.

The potatoes were like soup, slowly melting into the sauce that had taken over the plate. It was so sour and completely off balanced that I nearly burnt my mouth with the acidity. Let’s just say I left most of it on the table.

I’m not going to go into the other two dishes, but I will follow up with the dessert. Out of all the things on the dessert plate, we chose something unique, trying our hardest to get back what the bread and dinner had completely ruined. It very nearly made up for it, but the cost of all of this horrid food could not be helped by a meager attempt at an almost delicious dessert.

It didn't have a name, but it was the most unique thing on the tray.

It didn’t have a name, but it was the most unique thing on the tray.

This is the nameless dessert. It was without a doubt, the best thing on the dessert tray, or rather the most unique looking item on the dessert tray, to tempt us to turn the dinner around.

Nestled inside a very flaky filo dough was a brownie wrapped around a cookie, baked and then topped with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate and caramel. Yes… a cookie center, wrapped with a brownie, wrapped with filo dough. The very pretty execution made me think that this was going to be the ultimate dessert. That it would all come together right here and the dinner would be forgotten.

Alas, it was good, but not great. The brownie and cookie dough gooed out of the center, as if it hadn’t been baked at all, and overwhelmed the filo within the first squish of it all onto the plate. The ice cream was delightful.

I looked around at the wait staff, the clientele and the manager, who flitted around as if she hadn’t a care in the world. I wondered where her shoulder pads were, to go along with the now jaunty Whitney Houston 80’s/90’s mega-hits that were playing on the overhead. At this point, I was beyond the restaurant, and thinking about how much we had just spend on the worst tasting plates I’ve had to date here in the Kansas City area.

Aside from the food, the atmosphere is passable at best, and the teenage crowd is high in the afternoon, playing with cell phones and talking loudly about getting drunk at their latest party. The waiters are very cordial, but have no idea how to mix a proper martini. The ambiance is horrible due to a very loudly playing mix tape track, and I see no reason to stop in ever again.

This was my second time at Paulo & Bill in Shawnee, and I have to say, when I first came here many eons ago, it tasted much better. I’m not sure what time has done to this once enjoyable restaurant.

The Final Tally

Atmosphere : 4/10
Staff : 7/10
Food Plating/Taste : 2/10
Menu Variety : 5/10
Rebel Favoritism: 2/10

Total Score: 40/100


If you ever find the need to visit this location yourself here is their information:
Paulo & Bill Restaurant – 16501 Midland Drive, Shawnee KS 66217