Garrett & Kenzie Keck

Restaurant Review: Empire Slice House

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Photo taken from Google Images

At the beginning of this year, I found a list on Pinterest of places you should eat if you live in Oklahoma City. I went through the list, got rid of all the Mexican food places and a few of the really expensive places, and still ended up with a pretty decent sized list. Hubs and I tend to get in a bit of a slump when it comes to going out to eat. Let’s just say that we have been to Panera and Smash Burger way too many times. Plus, I was definitely interested in trying some local restaurants!

Last weekend my dad came to visit and he wanted to take us out to eat. It was gorgeous all weekend, and I wanted to go down to The Plaza District so he could eat at The Mule (another GREAT restaurant). We went late at night, so all the shops on the street were closed. We decided to go back the next day so my dad could check out some vintage record shops. Empire Slice House was on our list of places to eat, and I had no idea that it was on 16th street — right where we were! We stopped in for lunch.

Best pizza I’ve ever had. I’m serious. I usually am pretty indifferent about pizza. Can’t tell one from another. This definitely stood out. We ordered the Fungus Among Us. It has 3 different kinds of mushrooms, some spinach, and is sprinkled with truffle oil. SO. GOOD. It was reasonably priced at $22 for what would be considered an XL pizza from a delivery chain (they only have one size of pizza). The slices are huge, about twice the size of a “normal” slice of pizza. All the pizzas on the menu had interesting ingredients with a lot to choose from — not your typical choices of pepperoni or sausage. They also have an extensive drink menu. My I washed down my pizza with a bottle of Angry Orchard, and my dad got a Chicago Old Style beer.

The only thing that I didn’t like was that not every pizza was available by the slice. They have a few different kinds of pizza per day that are, but not all of them. It didn’t matter when we went since there were 3 of us eating and we all wanted the same pizza, but if Garrett and I were to go by ourselves, or if you were going to meet a friend there and didn’t need a whole pizza to yourself, or if your group couldn’t agree on the same pizza, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to get an individual slice of the pizza that you wanted. 

If you are tired of your local pizza delivery place and are looking for some more original ingredients to try on your pizza, I would definitely recommend trying Empire Slice House! There are lots of great shops close-by so it’s the perfect place to stop for lunch after a morning of shopping at some local Oklahoma stores. 

Check out Empire Slice House’s menu here!

Enjoy!

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Free Kitchen “Upgrade”

Garrett and I moved into our first house in December of 2012. We had a pretty tight budget, but we really wanted to stop pouring all our money into paying rent. There weren’t many houses available in our price range. We looked at one that had a great yard and kitchen, but only one bathroom and the bedrooms would not have fit our big bed. The one we bought was literally the only one we looked at with 2 bathrooms and a decent sized master bedroom. However, I made huge compromises on the kitchen and yard. I told myself that we wouldn’t have big kids in this house and that we live super close to a great park, so the small yard was ok. But, there’s really nothing to be said about the kitchen. 

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Here it is when we first moved in. Note the serious lack of cabinet and counter space. I’ve tried several things to remedy this issue. I tried making the laundry room closet a pantry, and put a shelving unit up against the side of the fridge to store bowls, cutting boards, etc. This was ok when we didn’t have a dining room table, but once we did, the extra shelving was in the way, and walking back and forth (although only about 5 steps) from the kitchen to the laundry room to get all the ingredients I needed drove me absolutely insane. So, we took down the shelves and moved all the food from the pantry into the kitchen. We moved all bowls, small appliances, cook books, etc into the laundry room closet. This set up seems to be working a lot better. 

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Yes, that’s a book shelf inside of the closet. I have no idea what this closet was supposed to be used for. I’d say coat closet but there’s not a coat rack. Anyways, for me, it’s just not as bad to grab the blender or a bowl out of this closet as it was to have to drag a bunch of food out of there. However, there was a new issue. Not all of our food fit in our cabinets. Because of this, we constantly had food on pretty much every surface. Bread, fruit, bags of chips, boxes of crackers, and anything I had recently baked that didn’t need refrigerated littered every inch of the counters and the top of the refrigerator. I dealt with this for about 4 months and then last night, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Honestly, how much junk was on top of the fridge was bothering me more than the lack of counter space. So, we moved a shelf from the garage into my craft room, and the book shelf from there into the kitchen. Now we have this:

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I’m not in love with it. I don’t actually think I gained any counter space. The microwave used to be on a small hutch where the bookshelf is now, but the hutch only had one shelf inside of it, so it was pretty useless for storing stuff. The bookshelf isn’t deep enough to put the microwave on one of the shelves. The bread, produce, and extra food used to pile up where the microwave is now. But, I do think having the microwave on the counter just looks nicer than a pile of food. 

My favorite part is now, our roommate has a shelf for his food that isn’t the top of the fridge:

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See? All clean up there!

It’s not perfect by any means, but it will hold me over for now. Garrett pointed out that I have a breakdown about our kitchen about once every 4 months, so we’ll have to see if this is still working for me in June.

 

Do you have a small kitchen with limited space? What ways have you made more room or made the limited space work for you?

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Life, Lately

Here we go. I’m trying to revamp my blog. I see all these blogs that are written by seemingly normal people, some of whom I went to college or grew up with. I read their posts and enjoy their writing, and I always think, “Hey, I could do that!”
I’m hoping to write posts about my everyday life, including
posting recipes, craft ideas, restaurant reviews, etc.

We’re doing great here in Oklahoma! Hubs and I are both working jobs that we enjoy. It’s been great weather this week, so we have been spending a lot of time outside with our dog, Zoe. Here she is trying to be good and not chase the ducks at the park:

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Hope you enjoy the re-vamped blog!

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Spinach Artichoke Dip

Every time I go to a restaurant that has spinach & artichoke dip on the menu, I order it. I love the stuff. Last Easter I needed a snack to take to a party and thought it would be fun to try and make some myself. I have made it several times since then, and it’s about A MILLION times better than any I have had at a restaurant. It is a challenge not to eat the entire pan full in one sitting.
The recipe I use is from the Pioneer Woman website, and can be found here.
I leave out the hot pepper cheese, feta, and cayenne pepper because I don’t like feta and Garrett isn’t a big fan of spicy food. We just increase the amount of Parmesan to 1 1/2-2 cups.
We usually enjoy ours spread on tortilla chips or triscuits.
Enjoy!!

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Zoe!

After many weeks of begging and researching and puppy dog eyes…Garrett finally agreed that it was a good time for us to get a puppy. We found a great breed online went to Red Rock, Oklahoma to look at 7 different lab/husky puppies. I noticed one right away that I loved. She was super shy but very sweet. I picked her up and said, “this one!!!” We named her Zoe.
Our life has already changed so much! We used to spend evenings on the couch watching tv, but so far we spend so much time playing with Zoe that we don’t even have time to think about that. We try to wear her out so she will sleep at night. We are very tired, but very happy with our puppy!

So far she hates her crate and baths. She likes to play and is getting better about going on walks. She likes to nap in piles of dirty laundry, which I just don’t understand. She has a love/hate relationship with the car.

We love her!

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Dining Room Re-do

When we moved to this house, I didn’t buy a whole lot of extra things to decorate the rooms with. When you look at square footage, this house isn’t much bigger than our old duplex. The layout is much different and that provides more space, but we did not have a difficult time filling up the extra space. I bought a few bins for my new craft room, a few pictures for our bedroom, but beyond that, we didn’t buy a whole lot.

The dining room however, was something we did not have at our old duplex. We used to have a kitchen table there, but we got rid of it because we usually ate on the couch while watching TV and the kitchen table because an extra space to stack our piles of crap. However, in an attempt to be more civilized human beings and watch less TV, I decided that we really should have a table. Also there was an awkward space in our house where a table should be.

Luckily, my old roommates were cleaning out their spare room and offered me a table and chairs for free! They are so great. The table had a few scratches so I decided it would be the perfect victim of “Mackenzie’s First Home Project.”

I went into this project with tons of motivation and dreams of eating at the table within the week! I’m sure all of my readers out there who have ever re-finished anything are now laughing to themselves … as well you should be!

The table started out looking like this:

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On my next day off work, I got started sanding the table. After about 30 minutes I came to the realization that I can do just about any boring task as long as I can watch TV or listen to music at the same time – neither of which I could do over the noise of an electric sander.  I was BORED. All my previous motivation left me and I didn’t touch the table for probably 2 or 3 weeks. And yes – I did complain about losing my car spot in the garage to Garrett even though it was no one’s fault but my own. Then I happened to have an entire week off of work. I decided that I really should finish the darn thing! So I did. I made myself stay in the garage until that stupid thing was all the way sanded, and then I read on the back of the paint can that wood primer sticks to anything – no sanding necessary. So that was great. -.-

Anyways, here is what it looked like after a couple coats of primer.

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Here is what it looked like after I painted it blue! After letting the paint cure for 3 or so days, we moved it inside!

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I bought some red curtains and some shelves for the dining room wall. Here is a terrible iPhone picture of the table inside our dining room. I turned on every single light surrounding the dining room and it’s still so dark! I guess I could have opened the curtains …

One day, I hope to paint the chairs white (right now they are a dark green color) – but I have no idea when that will happen.

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Here is a close-up of the dining room shelves. I finally have a space for all of my elephant collectibles! I got the picture frame and candle from Target to tie in with the red curtains, and the mason jars are filled with a vase filler stone type stuff that is similar to the color of the table.

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I really do like how it all looks now – but I definitely don’t see any more furniture refinishing in my near future!

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Valentine’s Day Dessert

I am obviously a few weeks behind in blogging!

I wanted to do a post about the dessert I made for Valentine’s Day. I wanted to do something a little bit fancier than chocolate chip cookies for the big day!
I started out by pouring some melted semi-sweet chocolate into some silicone baking cups. I coated the sides simply by tilting the cups at different angles.
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After putting them in the freezer for about 30 minutes, it was really easy to just pull the petals of the flower and separate the chocolate from the baking cup. (PS – I found these baking cups at Hobby Lobby. I couldn’t find any at Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond.)

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While the cups were freezing, I had mixed up some cream cheese, lemon juice, powdered sugar, and vanilla. I honestly don’t know exact measurements – I just added ingredients until it looked and tasted good. I scooped the mixture into a Ziplock bag, shoved it all into one corner of the bag, and cut one of the corners off. Then I just piped it into the chocolate cups.

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For the top, I got about a 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries and mixed them up with some sugar over low heat in a saucepan. Once the strawberries are thawed, you should have a nice syrupy-strawberry mix, similar to ice cream topping. I just drizzled it over each cup and then added some fresh blackberries and raspberries.

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Let me tell you – these were good. I don’t like to brag about my cooking or baking, but I will make an exception for these! They were so delicious. They look complicated, but they were actually fairly easy to make!

My mom said that they looked professional and that she bet people would pay for them. I had been thinking about selling some of the desserts I can make, especially because I know so many moms that order desserts because they just don’t have time to make them. So, if you are a busy mom reading this blog, and you need some dessert for a dinner party, baby shower, or birthday party – please let me know.
I will say that I cannot decorate cakes – but I can make a mean pound cake! I also enjoy making cheesecakes, cookies, or desserts like the one above.

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25!

I turned 25 on Tuesday. My first indication that I was older was when every single joint popped while I was dragging myself out of bed. I know 25 isn’t old, but my body sure felt old that morning!

I had to work on my birthday, which normally would be a drag, but as work days go, it was a pretty good one. 

Garrett was able to meet me for lunch, so I loaded Maggie up into the car and we went to Smashburger. If you happen to have never been to Smashburger, I suggest that you find the closest one to you and drive there as soon as possible. I recommend the sweet potato fries. Their burgers are phenomenal. Unfortunately, Maggie had to have peas and carrots .. so sad for her.😦

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In the afternoon, we picked up Jason from preschool and we went to get birthday cupcakes at Sara Sara. Jason’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day and last year we went to get cupcakes the week in between our birthdays and we decided to carry on the tradition this year. Here he is with his strawberry milk and strawberry shortcake cupcake. 

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Garrett and I both got home from work a little bit later than expected because of traffic, so we were both frazzled and exhausted. Driving in Edmond rush hour traffic is something that I would not wish on anyone. So, we ordered pizza from our favorite pizza place, Marcos, and then we were able to Skype with my family. Unfortunately, my brothers and dad were sick so they didn’t stick around for long, but we got to talk to my mom, sister, and niece for quite awhile. Our niece just turned one, and she is as cute as ever. She waved, blew kisses, showed off her hot pink baby Converse shoes, said “hi” one million times, and tried to share her sippy cup with us through the computer screen. I think that was the best part of the day!

We finished the day with a slice of cake that Garrett made me over the weekend. I wasn’t going to have a cake, because who wants to make their own birthday cake? Not me. Garrett decided he would try to make it. I stayed out of his way for the most part and he did great! He cooks dinner quite a bit, but I think this was his first time trying baking. It tastes as delicious as it looks.🙂

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Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

This weekend, my dad is coming to visit, which is something he has done around my birthday for the last couple years. We have plans to eat out at Cattleman’s Steak House, go to the zoo, and lounge around watching multiple episodes of Wonder Years on Netflix.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Last Week’s Adventures

Man, I suck at thinking of titles for these things.

Here are a few things that happened last week.

I made avocado sauce for noodles and it was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten for dinner. Recipe. here
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We started our first major house project-sanding and painting this table and the four chairs that go with it. I was really excited about this at first but man is sanding boring. It’s hard to get motivated to finish this project.
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I made glaze for chicken using garlic cloves and brown sugar. An odd combination but it was delicious! Recipe here.
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I signed up for the Color Me Rad 5k race. I have never run a 5k before but this one sounded fun! Also, since I had to pay for it, I’m less likely to blow it off. Basically you run while having paint bad thrown at you. If this seems like something right up your alley, check out their website to see if they come to your city! www.colormerad.com

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Before i’m 25 — Update

On my old blog, I made a list of 9 things that I wanted to accomplish/work on before I turned 25. I turn 25 in 21 days, so I thought I should update on how I’m doing. Even if no one reads this, it will give me a chance to evaluate and see what I still need to work on.

1. Realize that 25 isn’t that old.

HA. I still need to work on this. I have considered completely ignoring that it is my birthday just so that no one will acknowledge it except for people that really know me. I’m debating taking it off Facebook and just having the day be completely normal. No going out to eat, no party, no nothing. I am actually having a really hard time turning 25.

2. Complete my yellow and gray bedroom! 

Mostly done! The only thing left to get are white nightstands. The house is almost decorated how I want. Once we have the guest room set up I will post pictures on here of the new house!

3. Get more involved with God.

Always working on this. I started teaching the kindergarten class at church. It gets me out of bed for church and I really enjoy doing it. We have been making some big personal decisions lately as well, and we have really been trying to remember that God is in control and that it’s a good thing to ask him for help.

4. “Bloom where I’m planted.”

I am … slowly … beginning to be a little more ok with the fact that we bought a house in OK and will definitely be living here for at least the next 5 years. Of course, one of my best friends moving here definitely helped!

5. When I tell people, “I’ll be praying for you!” actually do it.

This is something I will have to continuously work on – but I’m getting better! It helps me to say a little prayer for them either out loud or in my head right after I tell them that we will be praying for them.

6. Go somewhere that I avoid because of bad memories and make a good memory there. 

I still need to do this – and I know exactly where to go!

7. Eat healthier. 

Mostly a success if you ignore the fairly large bag of sweethearts that I ate this weekend. We have been trying a lot of new and healthier recipes for dinner and so far we have liked them all!

8. See a midnight showing … we have been avoiding them ever since Captain America. Saying “no” to invitations to midnight premiers makes me feel old.

I was hoping to see the midnight premier of Les Mis but SOMEONE *cough cough* said no. Obviously he (or she haha) is holding me back from completing my goals. How rude.
Actually, I don’t think this is going to happen, mostly because midnight showings are always on Thursday nights and I work at 7:15 on Friday mornings. Les Mis coming out on Christmas Eve was pretty much my only opportunity to do that. Oh, well.

9. Play more piano when other people are around.

An epic fail. I still only play when I’m alone.  I have 21 days to get started!

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