4 Ways To Score Free Food at a Restaurant

Now I’m no expert on this topic, but either I had really good luck in the last year, or people just feel bad for me. I like to think it’s because I look so skinny that people think I need to eat more so they give me free meals at their restaurants.

Yeah, wishful thinking on my part.

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Duo of mischievousness just tryin to get our free food!

In the last year I’ve received 3 free meals while dining at local Minneapolis restaurants. I consider that a TON since in my previous 21 years of living I had NEVER been given a free meal or “comped” (as they say in the restaurant world) a meal from a restaurant. I’ve also worked as a waitress for 2 summers and the likelihood of me giving you a free meal for a kitchen mistake is pretty unlikely never. Granted, that isn’t my call. It’s the managers call, and if it were my choice; FREE MEALS FOR ALL! Just kidding! I’ve worked strictly at golf clubs, and if there’s any group of people that can afford their meal, it’s those people.

I want to preface by saying in none of my situations was I expecting a free meal. They were all simple mistakes, and after working in restaurants I know how common mistakes are, so I usually let them slide.

However, seeing as I have some knowledge on the topic at hand, here are my tried and true ways to receive some free grub:

1. Have a very specific and complicated way you want your food prepared, and mumble the order so they miss the specifics. Such as, asking for something on the side, not inside. Also, especially when ordering pancakes, make sure you order more than the menu lists so they are sure to not give you the right amount in your stack. This is especially helpful when dining at Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis 😉

2. Order one of the “all-day breakfast” items during the dinner service. This is sure to frazzle the line cooks who usually only prepare dinner items, and cause them to mess up your un-orthodox order. Frankly, I don’t see how they would mess up because EVERYONE should ALWAYS order breakfast for dinner, so they should be well-seasoned in making your favorite cornmeal pancakes by now.

3. Pick a restaurant that is sure to be understaffed for the day/event. This is a tricky one, because the only way to really tell is if you ask the front of house when you get there, but that’s not recommended/very rude. The service also needs to be known to be good almost all the time. They can’t constantly get reviews for slow and inattentive service. If you want that free meal for waiting too long, for your seemly 5 min from egg crack to your mouth food, they can’t be known for their awful wait time. I want to mention that this is more relevant to breakfast spots, but is possible to accomplish over dinner service, I would know 😉

4. Eat out during your cities “Restaurant Week.” With a culmination of stressors on both the kitchen and wait staff, you’re bound to get a free meal for waiting insanely long, or at least some extra bread to calm your blood sugar why you wait. In that case, the food better be good when it does come because otherwise no free food AND a long wait are no bueno in my book. My standards have become a bit high in the last year though…

I almost felt like my name was being passed around the Twin Cities food scene as someone who needs to be kept happy with either a free meal or a snack if a long wait is upon me.

One thing to NEVER DO to try to get free food is complain about your dish AFTER you have finished it all! At that point there was no way it could have been salvaged by the kitchen (unless you regurgitate it, which has happened but that’s another post). As a former waitress there was/is nothing I hate more than someone not speaking up when their dish is brought to them and I ask “Is their anything else I can get you?/Does everything look good?” You’ve not only made me look bad, but now there’s no way for me to not leave you with a bad memory of the restaurant without saying “The kitchen will be comping your meal this evening.” That’s last resort though. You have to have a really good reason for consuming the entire plate without mentioning a word to me about your dislike of the food.

If you’re from the Twin Cities area, Restaurant Week is going on now so get out there and claim your free meal!

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Rachel Makes Dinner & Third-Wheels

Normally when someone asks you to come over for dinner that doesn’t mean you bring ALL the ingredients AND cook it in THEIR kitchen, but that’s exactly what my sister meant the other night when she invited me over for dinner. She insisted I come over and make dinner with her and her boyfriend, but I knew it was going to be me making dinner for the two of them. It’s just what ends up happening. It’s probably because I’m the better cook, but I don’t mind as long as she provides her insanely sanitary kitchen (she’s a clean freak).

I trekked over to her apartment on Sunday night with my ingredients to make a nice twin-approved dinner. Our apartment buildings are kiddie-corner from each other so it’s pretty convenient of a trek.

I came bearing gifts of the sausage and sweet potato kind. I insisted she provide something for our “potluck,”, so she picked up some cauliflower and jalapeños, so I could whip up a spicy cauliflower “hash.” I use the word “hash” lightly because it was supposed to be cauliflower rice, but the texture was too chunky, so hash it is! I made the recipe up on the spot with the ingredients she had on hand, but it was pretty tasty, minus the cauli and jalapeño. The true test came with her bf because frankly, Laurel and I eat ANYTHING (if it’s healthy). He had thirds, so I’d say it was a success.

I’m gonna add this recipe to my repertoire for the next time I happen to have a cauliflower sitting around, which is weirdly very often…

Cauliflower “Hash”

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced finely (leave as much seed as you’d like for spice)
salt & pepper
juice of lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

// Place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl with a splash of water for 7-10 minutes, or until it’s easy to mash. Mash with a fork or potato masher until there’s still a little texture left.
Put olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Put onion, red pepper, garlic, jalapeño and pepper in the pan and cook until tender.
Add a large pinch of salt and add the mashed cauliflower to the pan.
Squeeze the lime into the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan.
Take off the heat and add the cilantro.

All done!!! I served it with roasted sweet potatoes and Trader Joe’s Jalapeño Chicken Sausage! Yummmmmm

This dish is best served as the third-wheel, I would know!

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Twin Tuesday: Things To Know About Twins

I’m not gonna gloat about how great my twin is, and talk about her impeccable style sense today. I’m gonna clear some things up about the twin life.

We didn’t always get along. In fact, up until our Freshman year of college we basically hated each other, but were best friends at the same time (??). I used to say being a twin was like having a stalker that you can’t get rid of. We had the same friends, played the same sports, and did the same activities so it was really hard to separate our lives. That started to really wear on us in high school, and it turned into us almost getting in fist fights at the school lunch table! Sorry friends who witnessed that… but we’re bestie again so no worries 🙂

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1. Twin Telepathy is kind of a thing: If something happens to either twin and the other isn’t there, we can sometimes feel the pain. We aren’t mind readers by any means, but everything we think is so similar, that if someone asks her a question I will likely have the same answer. We were once asked what the creepiest/scariest thing we ever saw was, and I can still remember the both of us immediately thinking of the same exact situation that had happened almost 10 years prior. It was a true telepathy moment!

2. Does it really matter who’s older?: Upon finding out we are twins, the next stupid questions from people is usually who’s older. She is, okay? By 3 lousy minutes, and I blame that on me being the bossy one and just kicking her out of the womb. She claims it’s because I was the “fat one” and needed more space, but honestly I was only 5 lbs and some odd ounces… I don’t believe that’s fat. Do those 3 minutes matter, people? Yay, she has 3 minutes more life experience then me. Congrats!! No. Don’t look at me like I’m the naive younger sibling just because I was soaking up the single-womb life for a few more minutes. I still won’t understand why that’s the second question people ask. There’s so many more questions about twins that would be much more interesting. Maybe, who started walking first? Now that’s an accomplishment (I don’t even know the answer though.)

3. We have way different tastes: In love, in fashion, in life. We may technically be “identical” twins, but we definitely have our differences. We don’t tend to like the same type of guy which makes it nice to not have to compete for the same guys. Her fashion sense is very colorful and it definitely stands out. I’m only wear neutral colors and like to blend in but stand out for other things. One thing that is completely similar is our food taste. We usually order the exact same thing at restaurants and generally eat them same food for most meals. Oddly we both have a major infatuation with Octopus of all foods… We know we’re weird, but honestly, weird is good!

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4. Any boring event is more tolerable: This is a huge plus of being a twin. It doesn’t matter what we’re at or what we’re doing, we usually always have each other to entertain ourselves. At any family event you will usually find us making jokes in the corner or off doing our own thing (like taking mirror selfies in the pic above). We usually feel bad for others who want to join in with us, but it’s usually more fun with people who actually understand our inside jokes (and there’s a lot of them.) Basically anyone who hangs out with us will probably feel like a third wheel most of the time, and for that we’re sorry, but being a twin is a hard balance sometimes.

Those are just a few things that I’ve come across in my last 21 (almost 22) years of being a twin. I have plenty more, so stay tuned for next week to read some other great (or awful) things about having a stalker for life 😉

Honestly though, everyone without a twin is missing out, so get on that!!

Apple Scones (dairy, sugar and grain-free)

I’ve noticed something about paleo baking in the last couple months that I’m going to have to just get used to.

The foods will taste delicious but the baked goods will likely never compare to baked goods using flour and butter. The texture will always be different. You can pretty much achieve the same taste in most recipes though.

After getting drinks on Friday night, I came home and really had the urge to just eat any cookie I could find hidden in the depths of my apartment, BUT NO. First of all my roommates would never forgive me for eating their sugar despite my rants about how “sugar is the enemy,” and secondly my stomach would despise me even more. Lose, lose! So my third option was to make myself a treat that wouldn’t put me to bed by 9 pm with stomach pains.

Apple “scones” to the rescue!

Recipe adapted from Colorful Eats “Grain-Free Strawberry Scones”

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Apple Scones (dairy, sugar and grain-free)

2 1/4 cup almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill but Honeyville is a better texture for baking)
2 eggs, room temperature
4 tbsp coconut flour
4 tbsp coconut milk
3 tbsp coconut oil (butter or ghee)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of salt
1 medium apple, diced into small pieces
juice of 1/2 a lemon

// Combine all ingredient except for the apple and lemon juice in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly using either a mixer or spatula.
Combine diced apple and lemon juice in a separate bowl. Make sure apple is coated in juice.
Fold the apples into the scones batter.
Chill the dough for 30 min to an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon small balls onto a greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 min or until slightly golden but still not firm. They will set when they cool.

FullSizeRender-12I made mine a bit small, but I’m into bite-size foods.

I can definitely say it was way better than eating a pack of Oreos too!!

Will.Power.

My Greatest Discovery: Thrive Market

I came across the jackpot of health food stores online. It’s called Thrive Market. I feel like I discovered Atlantis (or has that already been discovered?). I was perusing one of my favorite food blogs, Elana’s Pantry, and saw that she posted about this online store that sells “my kind of food.” They specialize in organic, vegan, paleo friendly foods, but honestly I would have shopped here long before my strict diet came about.

I’m notoriously cheap when it comes to buying anything, be it clothes, food, entertainment. If the benefits don’t highly outweigh the negatives then there’s no chance I will pay my hard earned money for it. Food is no exception.

When I saw Elana’s post on Thrive, I was like, why not just check it out. Well about 30 seconds into my “checking it out” and I found my favorite Hemp Protein Powder, that I just happened to run out of yesterday, for an insanely cheap price compared to my Whole Foods version. It’s 40% off of the retail price!!! You. guys. I’m in shock.

That’s what sealed the deal for me, but then I was scrolling through their “Paleo” section and found Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour for almost 30% off retail!! I instantly put 2 bags in my cart. I was committed at this point.

The best part is that you get 25%!!! off your first purchase at the Market, so I got two bags of almond flour for the price of one!!

I’m running on an insane grocery shopping high right now! This could be you too!

I also purchased some Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips so I can finally make me some grain-free CC Cookies, and some Great Lakes Gelatin and guar gum-free Coconut Milk to make some more of my coconut milk “cottage cheese.”
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They have tons of other great things that I probably had in my cart at one point, but the elimination process got the better of them. That’s what I do. I put everything I could possibly want in my cart then at the end I go through and basically either delete is all and buy nothing, or leave with the cheapest thing.

Some other great buys I found are:

Epic bars (Turkey with Cranberry are my favorite)

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Tons of Coconut oils and Coconut butters

Maple syrup for sweetening baked goods

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Raw Almonds for super cheap as well as a bunch of flavored nuts

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Go “check it out” like me, and maybe you’ll leave with some delicious finds!

“Hotdish” (dairy-free, grain-free)

Growing up in Minnesota, there’s this thing called a “Hotdish.” They come in all forms, but I was told that it can only be considered a true “Hotdish” if it contains a can of Campbell’s soup (usually cream of mushroom). Well I don’t like fake gel/liquid, aka Campbell’s soup, so I usually turned my nose up whenever my mom made it. I believe the rest of the world considers it a “Casserole,” in case you’re confused.

I had one especially bad experience with this typical Minnesota dish growing up. I’m not going to go into detail but let’s just say the tater tot hotdish served one particular day for school lunch didn’t quite settle in too well. I’m forever scarred by that day. Also, I found that according to google, tater tot hotdish is quite popular…

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 12.10.21 PMOnce my sisters and I got older (and less picky) my mom started making us real food for dinner, instead of canned foods and more Tuna Helper than I would like to admit. I’m very grateful for her change in menu, but I recently felt like I should rid myself of my Hotdish hatred.

I came across Fed & Fit’s recipe for a 4-layer Casserole. Seeing as it fit all my dietary restrictions, I felt it was the perfect time to make a new Hotdish memory, and I was confident it wouldn’t end in some form of tater-tot vomit again (too much information?).

The recipe is super simple even though it seems like a daunting task with all the layers involved. I turned to my trusty microwave for most of the steps which allowed me to save a lot of time. From start to finish it only took me around 45 minutes. I also swapped out the ground beef for ground turkey, because it’s super expensive for me to buy good, grass-fed beef as a college student.

Adapted from Fed & Fit’s 4-Layer Casserole

Sweet Potato Mash:
6 small sweet potatoes
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp dried sage (I used thyme)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cauliflower Mash:
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Ground Turkey:
2 lbs ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

// Sweet Potato mash: Make holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave for 5-7 min, until super tender.
Pull from microwave and let cool completely before peeling off skins.
Mash in a small bowl and add coconut milk and seasonings.

Cauliflower mash: Place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl with 2 tbsp water and cover in plastic wrap. Cook for 10 min or until tender.
Place in food processor and blend with coconut milk and seasoning or use a potato masher to create a mashed potato consistency with the cauliflower (less dishes).

Ground turkey: Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and break it up.
Once it’s almost cooked through but still a bit pink, add the garlic, onions and mushrooms. Let cook for a couple minutes before seasoning, to avoid drawing the water out of the mushrooms.

Assembly:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place half the meat layer in a 9×13 inch casserole pan.

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Top it with the cauliflower mash.

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Place the remaining meat evenly over the cauliflower layer.

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Top with the sweet potato mash.
Cook in oven for 12-15 min.

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Let cool and set for 10 min, and enjoy!

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Twin Tuesday

I want to take this moment to mention something that I’ve been dreading admitting ever since I started this blog. I’ve stolen most of the pictures I use… Not my travel or recipe pictures, but if it’s a picture from a Twin Cities restaurant, it was likely taken by the other half. I hate those people who make sure they snap a picture before they eat their food, but I’m grateful for the twin doing it because now I can use her pictures. It also helps that we have eaten at all the same restaurants and order the same food, so the pictures could have easily been of my meal. Why would I be “that girl to Instagram” my meal when I know she can be “that girl” instead? Sometimes she even puts me in her pictures though.

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I’m trying to justify my lack of picture taking, okay?

Now that I got that off my chest, I want to talk about another talent my twin has besides the ability to take a food pic before diving in (that’s me). She has a pretty good fashion sense. You probably realized that in last week’s post, and her bathroom mirror selfies. She claims the bathroom pics are the easiest way to keep track of what she wears, but I still don’t get why she doesn’t take the picture in her full length mirror in her apartment instead of a bathroom…

One of her more recent clothing obsessions are loose printed pants. I can not pull them off like her. I found that any evidence of a butt, combined with a loud print, equals not flattering, so I leave the weird pants to her. She likes to pair them with either a crop top, or a tighter, tucked-in top to make sure she doesn’t look too frumpy.

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Ever since going to Europe and having to live out a tiny suitcase for four months, I began to understand the concept of “minimalism.” It would have been very impractical to bring a bunch of random colored bright clothes, because the chances of me being able to mix and match those colors is almost impossible, if not incredibly ugly. Therefore, I chose to only pack neutral colors (black, white, gray, navy). I loved being able to mix and match literally all my clothes together. Upon coming back to the States, I now mostly only wear neutral colors. It saves me eons when it comes to deciding what to wear in the morning.

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When celebrating the Fourth of July this past weekend, it was pretty evident that we do not agree on the “minimalist” fashion idea. The twin chose to wear a red, white and blue striped dress, and I’m gonna come out and say that she might only be able to get one wear out of that dress. Whereas I chose a black shift dress, which is insanely versatile and super comfy. She may have been more festive, but I’ll at least be getting my money’s worth. No one will ever be able to take away the twins love of color. She definitely prefers to stand out, and not blend in.

Stay tuned for next week to see what I mean about standing out…