Sundays with Friends: The Hungry Irishman

Irishman2 copy

I know! I know! I know! I’ve been away for way too long, and my sincerest apologies to you, because I love you all dearly and have missed you! Don’t forget you can always keep up with me daily at my Facebook Page, The Onyx Plate. No telling what I will update next with on there (yesterday was my Bacon loving cat, Cinder).

Things have been absolutely fantastic here in the Food portion of my world with another magazine article published here in November, and another one on the way in December. (I’ll post the November article shortly for you on here.) I’ve bought new dishes to take photographs with (so excited!), and have been looking for newer recipes that have a healthy twist to put in them (it’s time). My two “Foodie” part-time jobs are going great as well! Did I mention I get to meet Curtis Stone Thursday??????????!!!@#$!%!#%!@#$!#$^#&???? *enormous smiles!!!* (I’ll post photos, no worries. *wink*)

With all of that going on (including meeting a handsome Aussie Chef on Thursday), the most important thing about today is introducing you to a Chef/Caterer/Blogger that has become a good friend of mine and a source of inspiration (who just happens to be quite the handsome Irish Chef). I always like to think that if someone can provide me inspiration in my own life, just by being themselves, then that is someone I want in my life. It’s time to share him with The Onyx Plate, and I’m so proud to feature his writing.

Thank you, Brandon, for all of the inspiration you have provided me, and for writing this thought provoking article for us. Take it away, Brandon….


Hello everyone!

My name is Brandon O’Sullivan, and I run a catering company and food blog by the same name The Hungry Irishman.  My friend here at The Onyx Plate and I have been discussing guest posts for about 8 months now, and I finally got a concrete enough idea to share with you. But first I want to introduce myself a little more thoroughly. I have been working in kitchens for almost a decade, and started off as a dishwasher, have climbed the ladder at each restaurant, and moved on to bigger and better locations. My culinary career, though, really got its start, at Andiamo. This was the first “real” kitchen I worked for, and was lucky enough to be surrounded by such generous talent, and picked up my passion for food as an art form. I currently am working at The Toasted Oak, in Novi, Michigan, where my craft continues to grow under some excellent guidance. I started this catering company by accident, really, and it has led me to a job that I love and an opportunity to connect with some truly amazing people. We specialize in private dinners and wine tastings, which as some of you may know, draws a crowd of a different sort, like me and Jennifer here :).

There has been a lot of negative buzz going around lately, regarding genetically modified foods and all sorts of other things. I wanted to take the time to share some solutions and options that are readily available, for those who are concerned and wish to put the absolute best fuel in their bodies.

I want to start with the importance of eating fresh, local ingredients. If I go to an average run-o-the-mill grocery store, and buy a six dollar bag of spinach, in three days, it’s slimy and inedible. Or, I can go to a local farmers market, prices of course depend on where you go, but for example, I can go to Detroit’s Eastern Market, and get a larger bag of spinach, for four dollars, that will last a week to a week and a half before showing signs of spoil. Not only does local food last longer, but by supporting the few remaining farmers, who aren’t making their living specializing in massive crops such as corn or soy, you are helping your local economy, and perpetuating community. I don’t know if you have had the pleasure, but if not, try this: eat a tomato, grown industrially, harvested mechanically, and then eat a tomato grown by an individual, who put his life and energy into the nurturing, care, and harvest. Tell me there isn’t a very clear difference in taste and texture. Here is a great resource for finding local farmers markets in your area: Local Harvest.

There is also the very feasible option of gardening. Most people don’t have land they can till to put food on the table, but there has been a huge surge in popularity for Urban Farming. There are also plenty of community gardens, way more than one might think. Many churches and similar establishments have gardens you can rent plots from, or trade a little time for charity, or by helping clean up the community garden to pay for your space. And if even that is too much, grow some fresh herbs on a balcony or a windowsill. Fresh herbs are, in my opinion, a chef’s best arsenal. The right or wrong fresh herb absolutely can make or break the best of cuisines. Farm to Table is a great page with tons of information on getting your own project started. I am also a fan of the growing “farm to restaurant” community, where restaurants are joining forces with many local farmers, to provide the freshest ingredients possible and help support local business.

Some of you may be looking for a better way to utilize the food you do have, or will acquire, and I feel Sprouting and Preserving are some of the most cost effective and healthy ways of getting to most out of your food. Sprouting consists of germinating seeds and grains, and unlocking all the nutrients inherent within, and turning it all into a much easier to eat (and digest) vegetable. Preserving can mean anything from jarring, canning, pickling, curing, smoking, etc. but for today, we will just discuss the basics. I would like to start by saying that ANYTHING can be preserved. There are just different techniques and steps, whether its a fruit, vegetable, or protein. The above link has all the information you will need to get started. But imagine having, say, three jars in your fridge, one with jalapeño pickled garlic, one with your favorite bread and butter dills, or perhaps some balsamic pickled cippollini onions, to bust out the next time you are entertaining guests. Imagine their surprised faces when you tell them it’s all homemade! Also, I feel it goes without saying how great it is to have your own homemade jellies, preserves, apple butters, pumpkin butters, and whatever tasty condiments you can devise at your disposal.

The biggest part of a healthy diet is greens, dark, leafy, delicious greens. This is the hard detail for most to swallow, since the American philosophy on salads seems to be 10% lettuce, 75 % toppings and cheese, and 15% creamy dressings. Many studies have shown greens to be the most incremental part of your diet, and should make up the bulk of what you eat. The nutrients abundant in greens are also great for your Heart. Most people are intimidated by greens, some are bitter, tough, etc. so here is a very useful source on where to find greens and how to cook them.

And I feel this last section won’t be quite as far reaching, but deserves an honorable mention nonetheless, but for those of you who are starting to question your dietary habits, I urge you to look into incorporating Raw Foods into your diet bit by bit, as thousands of people have testified to its ability to dramatically increase energy levels, and help with all other manner of health concern. Here’s another website with some great Raw Recipe’s.

Another heated topic for most, is protein. We have millions of vegan and vegetarian humans on this planet, who are living happy, healthy, successful lives, but the biggest argument against these dietary choices is the misconception that your body requires animal proteins and byproducts to do what it has done so well since birth. We are the only mammals that consume milk after infancy, not to mention the only mammals consuming milk from another species. If milk is so good for you, and detrimental to your bones’ ability to fortify themselves with calcium, then why don’t we drink human milk our whole lives? If it was the best, most natural way to gain nutrients, it would be a part of the natural order of things, and to me, consuming milk formulated by nature for calfs, doesn’t seem very aligned with nature. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ribeye or burger every now and then, but I prefer vegetables. I recently made a vegetarian Mushroom “Brie-ger”, that as a good friend of mine (an avid carnivore) said was the best burger he has ever had.

The point I’m trying to make, is everyone should be more open with their diet, see what feels right to you. But for those who are interested check out Happy Cow, a good resource, and a list of proteins that are non animal byproduct. I would also highly recommend the documentary Forks Over Knives. Keep in mind, an elephant is a vegetarian, how do you suppose he survives and nourishes all that mass without eating other animals? Then there is always the fact that the cattle industry, as it stands, produces a very large portion of the air and water pollution we are experiencing the effects of everyday…

But anyways, here’s a site with a few Lighter Cooking Techniques for those just looking to make small changes to their cooking habits to effect large health changes over time.

I hope some of this information has been helpful! Also, I must recommend the book that made me look at food as a livelihood, and not a compulsion, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

Till next time,

The Hungry Irishman

A Simple Savory Saturday Veggie Quesadilla


Happy Valentine’s Day weekend, everyone!

I don’t know about you guys, but I enjoy a simple Saturday. You work all week, and sometimes it’s just nice to do something for yourself…relax. *relaxing sigh*

Along with relaxing Saturdays comes relaxing food. I’m not the one that enjoys a lot of food prep on Saturdays for lunch, but I do enjoy a tasty meal…with minimal food prep.

Today, I made Veggie Quesadillas. This isn’t like crazy-stuffed veggie quesadillas with everything under the sun…it’s simple. Remember what I said about relaxing?

It was a great combination, and it is quite a common combination. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t forgetting how common, and “normal” food can be just as exciting as creating some sort of crazy fusion recipe. *smiles*

Simple Savory Saturday Veggie Quesadilla

(This recipe made 2 quesadillas, 5 WW Points Plus per quesadilla)

  • 1/2 cup(s) fat-free canned refried beans
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium uncooked scallion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 medium whole wheat tortillas


  1. Place pan on burner and allow to warm on medium-low to medium while you prepare the tortilla.
  2. Divide the beans in half on each tortilla and spread to the outsides (much like putting pizza sauce on a pizza crust).
  3. Place in pan, bean side up, and sprinkle 1/2 the cheese, 1/2 the jalapeno, 1/2 the scallion, and 1/2 the cilantro evenly on top.
  4. Allow to stay in the pan until the cheese just begins to melt towards the center. The outsides will already appear melted. Maybe 5 minutes? Just keep an eye on it.
  5. Then fold in half and leave in pan for about another minute. Remove from pan and serve. I didn’t cut these in slices. They were easy to eat all in one piece so you didn’t lose any of the insides if you were to cut them in slices.


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My Incredibly Happy Mind, Body, Soul, and Palate


We all get to the point where we just need a break. It can be a variety of things that break us, or it could be just one. Sometimes you feel like you have it all together, and then something reminds you that you don’t. It’s those times that you need to get away and put some perspective on the things that are causing you unhappiness. As always…perspective is the key.

With that being said, let’s catch you up on my recent adventures since it seems I haven’t posted in almost two weeks. Well, two to be exact.  This is a long one folks.  I didn’t feel it needed to be broken up.  I just let it flow out of me this morning.  Enjoy!

The first one, we have begun a new adventure in our fitness world. I will be the first one to admit I am not a skinny cook. I’ve got quite the curves – a little too many depending on what I ate the day before. *smiles* However, it has come time to improve life, and what better way to do it than to become healthier. We have begun…wait for it…you might want to sit down for this one…the P90X program. No, you can quit asking yourself if I am crazy. I think it comes with a stigma because you see all these super-fit participants on the videos, but it’s completely doable. I may not be able to do every single exercise perfectly right now, but as my trainer said before I embarked on this psychotic – oops, fabulous – mission, “Don’t be a hero.” Long story short, it has been 10 days now, and I do see a difference. Therefore, my body and mind are incredibly happy.

The second one, our day trip yesterday. Growing up, I don’t remember many beach trips. I mean a few memories stick out. But, our family wasn’t very “beachy”. As an adult, – ugh, I haven’t been liking this term very much lately – I have grown to enjoy the never-ending world that lies before me, across the ocean, that I have yet to enjoy. I just think to myself, Spain is right over there – and then I contemplate on how I will obtain money to even set foot on another continent. There’s things I want to do, places I want to see, people I want to meet! *smiles*

First and foremost on this excursion, parking was a beast. I never thought it would be so frustrating finding a parking place, then having to pay for the parking place that you just spent tons of gas on to find. It probably didn’t help that I had drank a bottled water on the way down, and had to use the lady’s room for an hour before we got there. After about 45 minutes – on top of the hour I had to go to the lady’s room, and the 3 hour drive – we found a parking place. We walked out onto the refreshing beach. Let me just say this…DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, do the Legs and Back P90X before having to walk in the soft sand. I don’t ever remember walking in the sand being so difficult and painful. Ridiculous people, ridiculous! But, I digressed and plopped my painful tail into my chair in front of the crashing waves.

Sadly, there are wildfires going on at our beautiful coast. You can certainly see a haze, and at some points I felt I could tell it was a little bit more difficult to breathe because of the air quality. Nonetheless, there was a brisk wind blowing, the sun was shining, and there was the random cloud covering as a low front moved through. Don’t worry, this redhead wore her sunscreen like a champ. Note to self: don’t spray the sunscreen in your face – it eventually runs into your eyes.

After my eyes cleared up, and I was able to bask in the beautiful sun like Cinder does at home, smell the interesting beach smells that make you wonder what in the world that was that just wafted by your nostrils, see the graceful seagulls as they randomly littered the beach with poop, and hear and watch the waves crash upon the sand leaving seashells rolling as the wave rolled back out, it was time to walk back to our car. There was nothing I dreaded more that day…the walk back through the sand. But, luckily, the hub found a closer road access that we made a b-line for. I feel like a bad dating ad – loves SHORT walks on the beach, and I don’t like Pina Coladas! *smiles*


On the way into Wilmington, headed back home, I did a search through TripAdvisor on my phone for restaurants. This is where I HIGHLY recommend TripAdvisor for all of your travel review needs. Since I used to be told my hair was the color of a copper penny when I was younger, I felt compelled to choose the #5 of 154 restaurants in Wilmington…the Copper Penny. Their website boasts “Located in historic downtown Wilmington, the Copper Penny offers an eclectic mix of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches along with an extensive selection of mixed drinks and beers.” This was right up our alley! If we hadn’t of been looking for it, we would have missed their gorgeous historic blue building. This would have been a true shame.

I found two new loves in this pub….the coleslaw, and the DW Burger – sans hamburger patty. First up, the coleslaw. It was that crunchy coleslaw. It had crunchy ramen noodles in it. Yeah, some of you may have “heard” of this recipe. But, have you ever “had” this recipe linger around your taste buds??? Wow, is all I can say. The recipes I googled didn’t seem to be the actual make up of this recipe. But, this was the best coleslaw I have ever had, hands down, and I live in barbeque country. That has to say something! I will be on a quest for this recipe. Amazing!

Next up, the crazy combination of a burger I had. They had it normal, I made it crazy. Crazy can be amazing sometimes!  *smiles* No, I’m not a vegetarian. However, I am trying to cut the unnecessary fat where I can, and the black bean burger seemed delightfully tasty. This is what I ended up with. I chose their “DW” Burger with the black bean burger instead – black bean burger, with fresh jalapenos, crispy bacon, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, fried onion straws, and I added guacamole – which their guac is amazing as well – all on a delicately toasted Kaiser roll. I know this sounds a little crazy, but I wish I could describe how incredibly happy this made my palate. It was a taste explosion. I could taste every little morsel of flavor this burger packed. Would this be worth driving the 3 hours just for this pub? You betcha! Will we be doing this daytrip more often? You betcha! Dangit, I’m hungry now just thinking about it! Ugh!  Oh yeah, and can’t forget the Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding!  Contrary to the smells of the beach…I could smell this fresh out of the oven all day every day!  It tasted equally wonderful!  Yeah, I know, that just smashed all the fat I saved from not eating the hamburger patty.  Oh well!  My palate thought it was worth it! *smiles*

All in all, every ounce of this day made my soul incredibly happy. I can’t remember the last time that I laughed incessantly the whole day. It has a lot to do with the company beside you through the journey as well. And, I thank my hub for sticking by me through this craziness I have been inflicting upon him recently. Even foodies have rough moments…..

I wish I had better pictures for you of the coleslaw and burger, but it was dim, and the best my phone cam could do. Are you drooling for the Copper Penny yet?

Copper Penny on Urbanspoon

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New Vegetarian Love…


I recently posted that I was going to attempt to have at least two vegetarian meals a day.  I also said that if I didn’t succeed with the challenge, I wasn’t going to lose motivation to try it.  So far…it’s working out pretty well most days.  I start out with either oatmeal, cereal, or scrambled eggs or egg whites cooked with sautéed mushrooms, peppers, and onions.  So right there is one out-of-the-way.  Lunch can definitely vary, as can dinner.  Either way, I am enjoying it, and so is the hub (surprisingly)! 

There are a few items that we have tried, and there are many more we want to try…We have had the Chik’n Patties, Buffalo Chik’n Nuggets, the Grillers “hamburger” patties, and the “hamburger” crumbles.  The Chik’n items have been our favorites so far, and we didn’t even miss the actual chicken.  The Grillers have worked out wonderfully.  The hub used the crumbles tonight…we weren’t very impressed.  Although, they may be ok if used in a chili. 

Below are a couple of items we have prepared with the substitutions….YUM!  This new love is highly suggested…especially a chik’n patty on a fresh Southern biscuit in the morning…nomnomnom!

Thanks to Beaux for all of the vegetarian love inspiration!

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It’s time to stop being complacent…


New year, new you, new resolutions to break.  We constantly set ourselves up for failure.  A majority of us set goals that are HUGE goals.  Goals that could possibly be realized, but the fact that we may fall off the plan on the way to realizing that goal can seriously sidetrack us with frustration and risk us giving up on the plan we set forth in front of us.  In turn, once we give up on these goals, due to setting them a little too far out to appreciate the gradual accomplishments in front of us, we become complacent in our old ways because they didn’t challenge us or cause us grief. 

According to Merriam-Webster, complacent means being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to change them.  Oh sure, being complacent makes life easier.  It makes it so that we can stay in our everyday comfort zone and not be challenged by everyday life.  But, doesn’t complacency lead us to eventually miss out on life?  It’s because we are so set in our own ways and “complacent” that we are unable to see that adventure waiting in front of us.  There is a whole world for your taking, and you are the only one standing in your way. 

It’s time to stop blaming others, and it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of your own complacency…yourself.  You are holding yourself back more than you know.  You are afraid…afraid of what?  That you are going to fail miserably?  That you are going to end up broken hearted?  Afraid that you will succeed and that life will forever be different?  What if that failing, broken heartedness, and ultimate success brings you to a different path in life that will bring you further happiness you never believed existed?

Yes, this is the pot calling the kettle black.  I need and am going to take my own aforementioned advice.  There is no reason I can’t become the person I envision.  I am the only one standing in my own way.  My first step to reclaiming life…was this blog.  My second step was to see the impact I am making on myself and others…already seeing it.  The third step…becoming a healthier version of myself.  Like I have said and Mom says all the time as well…not everything Southern is fried.  There is no reason I can’t become healthier.  To me, cooking like a Southerner is embracing what nature can provide to you.  Eating off of the fruits of your labor.  Being able to dig in the dirt (yes, I said dig in the dirt you prissy pots), get dirt under your fingernails and mud on the knees of your jeans, dig a hole, plant a seed, and watch it grow with all of the love you and God can provide.

With all of this above in mind, I have decided to make myself a little short-term goal.  Along with my fitness plan, I have decided to eat two vegetarian meals a day.  In the evening, I will have a balanced meal.  But, breakfast and lunch will remain meatless.  I am going to do this for one week to begin with.  I will add a week as the previous one closes.  And, IF I fall off the wagon for some reason, I’m not going to beat myself up.  This is life, we are humans, and God loves us regardless…..

So, as the first day of my challenge…For breakfast, the hub made Egg Substitute Omelets stuffed with sautéed jalapeno, onion, garlic cloves, and shredded low-fat cheddar cheese.  For lunch, I prepared (let me get the package so I can tell you exactly) Morningstar Grillers Prime patties and sautéed some fresh asparagus with the leftover jalapeno, onion, and garlic clove from this morning.  I also sprinkled in a little sea salt and black pepper with the EVOO, and served it with a little side of Siracha (that’s the spicy red sauce pictured).  The patties were delicious surprisingly!  I cooked them on the stove top on my grill pan.  I highly recommend these patties.  The asparagus…amazing!  I don’t think I have ever had asparagus that I have enjoyed so much.  Next time though, I will be snapping the dry ends off before cooking, as Mom advised me to do.  Hey, you’re always learning something in the kitchen.

Folks, it’s that time…it’s time to stop being complacent and start living your life!  What short-term goal are you setting this week???

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