Monthly Archives: February 2013

Eat Here! The Grilled Cheeserie Food Truck!

I’ve had this post for a while and I just hadn’t had  good time to throw it out there, until today!

This food truck, The Grilled Cheeserie, has been on my radar for some time. I had heard great things about it and when they started parking their truck near my office on occasion, I had to give them a try.

They were parked there today but because it STILL HURTS TO EAT SOLID FOOD!?!?! I was not able to go. To my dismay, when I went to run an errand at lunch, I pulled out into the road and I was right behind them. Life’s a bitch.

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Anyway! The only reason I hadn’t tried this delicacy on wheels before, is because at local concerts and events where they park, the line is always about 50 people long. I’m patient but I’m not that patient.

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This truck has got the greatest grilled cheese sandwiches. If you have super power eyes, then here is their menu.  The day I went their special was a Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese. Wow! I wanted to try it but another sandwich caught my eye.

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I decided to go with the The B&B of Tennessee. Melty buttermilk cheddar with caramelized onion, bacon and apple chutney. All served on multi-grain bread. WHAT-IS-UP? It was better than I had anticipated.

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I also tried a cup of their seasonal tomato soup which was so delightful. I really wasn’t starving on this day but I’m not gonna lie, I  feel like if you are eating a grilled cheese, you have to have soup too.

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If you want to find out where the Grilled Cheeserie will be next, keep a watch out or Text Cheese to 88000

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Jambalaya

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(like my fancy new app that writes on your pictures?!)

Mardi Gras has come and gone but I see no reason why we should ever stop celebrating Cajun food!

I’ve never made it to the Louisiana swamp lands(!) but I must have some Cajun in my blood because I love the food almost as much as I love Mexican food and I like it hot.

I don’t know much about marsh, gators or Province’s though so maybe I’m not as Cajun as I’ve led on.

I tried to write this post in Cajun slang but it was too hard to read.

True Cajun food is like an art form and I’m not sure I have the most authentic recipes but I have Jambalaya that you will want to make on a weeknight or to feed a crowd. I served mine with Garlic Cheese Biscuits.

This jambalaya is a one pot recipe! Who can resist that?

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Start off by heating olive oil in a large pan or dutch oven and saute onion, celery and bell pepper

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Add andouille or smoked sausage

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Saute with the vegetables until they are soft

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Season with old bay and tomatoes

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Add uncooked rice and chicken

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Then you just simmer, cover and stir

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The canned tomatoes and green chilies give it a zing

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Next time I think I am going to do shrimp instead of chicken but that is just my preference. You can try whatever you like!

JAMBALAYA

serves 4-6

ingredients: 

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 celery stalks, finely diced

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced

1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1  (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with juice

1 (10 ounce) can rotel (i used hot but you could use mild or regular)

1 cup long-grain rice

instructions and directions: 

Heat oil in a large pot of dutch oven. Add vegetables to pot and cook, stirring often, 5-10 minutes.

Add sausage and cook 5-6 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in chicken broth, Old Bay, tomatoes, rotel and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Add rice and chicken.

Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Cover with a lid and remove from heat. Let stand until rice is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Beef Stroganoff with Sirloin Filet

I hope your weekend was a blast.

I had my wisdom teeth out on Friday, so my life has been consumed by ice packs, heat packs, pudding, milkshakes, smoothies, applesauce, and movies.  I’m ready for some solid food.

Just looking at this recipe right now is making me hungry.

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Beef Stroganoff  has Russian origins and although I am not Russian, it was a childhood favorite of mine growing up.  Sirloin filet makes it a continued favorite at my house.

Back in the day I am pretty sure it was often made with skirt steak or ground beef (?) and canned mushrooms but we’ve kicked those guys out to keep it fresh and delicious. It’s still comforting though!

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You start out with all your ingredients.

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Saute the steak (that has been sprinkled with flour) on high heat.

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Simmer the steak with fresh mushrooms and beef broth.

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In a small bowl, to thicken up the sauce, you are going to make a slurry with a bit of the broth and flour.  When you add this back to the pan it will get thick and creamy.

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Then the addition of sour cream will finish it off.

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I have always served my Beef Stroganoff with what some people call a “weird salad”. It’s really just pineapple rings with two small dollops of  mayo and some grated sharp cheddar.

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Has anyone else ever tried this?

I swear it is good. Though, it may take some getting used to.

BEEF STROGANOFF

serves 4

ingredients:

1 pound sirloin filet, very thinly sliced (i prefer shaved when possible)

one 12 ounce package fresh button mushrooms

10 grinds fresh pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 (10 ounce) cans of beef broth (i use campbell’s)

4 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided

1/3 cup sour cream

salt and pepper

egg noodles, cooked al dente

instructions and directions: 

Sprinkle sirloin with 1 tablespoon flour and 10 grinds of fresh pepper.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook sirloin 5-6 minutes or until little pinkness remains. Add mushrooms and broth to pan and simmer with steak 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup of broth taken from the pan. Whisk until thick and smoothly combined. Add mixture back to pan and whisk until smooth. Add sour cream and whisk again.

Serve over warm egg noodles.

Eat Here! Rolf and Daughters

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Are you looking for a great place to eat this weekend? Well….it probably won’t be Rolf and Daughters (they are booked sometimes weeks in advance for Saturdays most of the time) but you should go ahead and make a reservation a few weeks away because this place is on point.

To start, it is tucked into a cozy spot at the intersection of Taylor and 7th in Germantown.

From the moment you pull up you can feel the good vibes coming from this building. It also looks like during the warmer months they will have more seating available outside (?) which might help with availability or might make it worse. This place is fabulous.

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The decor inside is varied: dark wood, light wood, stainless, exposed ceiling and the buzz is moderately loud, in a good way. It feels alive.

We started by having a charming server.  Her name was Avon. She soared through the endless question portion that I am so sorry I subject every one to. (Although clearly not sorry enough to stop) She knew the menu backwards and forwards. She was willing to make suggestions and applauded choices she thought were well made. I basically let her order most of my food for me and she was oh so right.

Everyone tasted everything on the table. It was all wonderful but some were favorites.

(it was also dark, as you will see)

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The Milan Mule was a favorite among the drinks.

We ordered most of the appetizers:

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Crostini with Whipped Ricotta (So good!)

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Brussels Sprout Salad

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Sourdough with Seaweed Butter (awesome!)

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Chicken Liver Pate (also awesome)

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Artichoke Salad

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Farro Gemelli (my favorite plate on the table)

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Pasta with Pancetta

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Lamb Pasta (The Special)

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Yorkshire Pork

apple rating

I give it 9 out of 10 apples.

I can’t wait to go back again!

Risotto with Kale and Bacon and the 80’s.

salad bar

(borrowed photo)

Wasn’t kale on the plate as a garnish or surrounding/covering the ice on the salad bar offerings  in the 80’s and 90’s? I wonder what took us so long to realize how awesome kale is!

I mean, someone discovered Paula Abdul and Debbie Gibson, but we had to go 30+ years without kale!!

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Well, at least we have found kale now and tonight you’ll find an easy way to make risotto. No more being stuck standing over the stove and stirring for 30 minutes

Plus this recipe has bacon and bacon makes everything bettah.

(even the disappointment of just now finding out about kale)

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Begin by dicing the onion and tearing the kale of the stalk into smaller pieces

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Cook bacon and remove, then cook onion in bacon drippings

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Arborio is an Italian short grain rice. It is high in starch, which is what makes it creamy and chewy. So you add the rice and stir, then bake.

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When the baking is over, you come back to the stove for a few minutes and add the kale, a little broth and the cheese

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Serve and sprinkle with bacon

It is creamy and satisfying and I bet you won’t miss the old way you made risotto one bit

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I ate mine with these guys

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And a little pork tenderloin

Risotto with Kale and Bacon

ingredients: 

4 slices bacon, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Arborio rice

3 cups low-salt chicken broth, plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)

3 medium curly kale leaves, stemmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

1 shallot, finely sliced into rings

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

instructions: 

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large heavy saucepan or dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel.

Add the onions, salt and pepper to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and the shallot and stir for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of the broth and the lemon juice. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover with a tight lid and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Remove the lid and stir in the kale and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Stir until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes, adding extra broth, as needed.

adapted from giada delaurentis/food network

Kung Pao Chicken with Fried Rice and The Fast Food Weekend

Hope everyone’s weekend was happy as can be.

I went out of town to a bridal shower in honor of my sweet cousin Susan!

The shower took place in the town where she is from, which is also a town I grew up visiting my entire life.

Now I am not much on fast food as a rule, but all the places I grew up going to in Columbia, SC are just that. I couldn’t miss a trip down memory lane so I made multiple exceptions!

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I started my days off like this so that I could feel a little better about the bad choices I constantly made!

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To add to my super exciting life, they had my favorite workout machine at the hotel. Hampton Inn for the win.

One day while we were there, I ate breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. I wish I was joking.

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Lunch was two hot dogs “all the way”, served up by these lovely ladies from this Exxon Station, Jimmy’s Mart. This place should be on Diners, Drive In’s and Dives. Apparently they make a fantastic Catfish Stew, but I have standards and have never tried it.

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I’m not even kidding. It is amazing the rules you will put aside for a childhood memory. Best hot dogs on earth!

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Dinner was Rush’s, a South Carolina fast food chain that makes you feel like you stepped right into the 80’s!

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They serve the best cheeseburgers and make a true hot fudge cake, which are hard to find these days.

I covered new experiences too.

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I had Chipotle for the first time and loved it!Hello-Veggie Burrito Bowl.

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And I had a meal at a local Italian restaurant, Rosso’s,  too!

Now, I’ll be eating at home for the foreseeable future although I think I am still full.

If you are like me and (typically) try to resist take out- then this week, take a cue from my recipe sub-category that I like to call “Don’t take it! Make It! ” This is the Chinese Take Out Edition.

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I really like Chinese takeout but often times, it leaves me with a fast food hangover.

It’s just that it can be so greasy and so full of salt that I feel like my mouth is the Sahara and there will never be enough water.

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I combat this problem with homemade takeout. Today, Kung Pao Chicken.

No fast food hangover here.  While it still has more salt than the average meal, it left me feeling light, satisfied and excited about leftovers.

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Start out by marinating the chicken (i marinated the chicken with green onion too, but then those onions were too done by the time it was finished cooking)

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Cook the chicken over medium high heat

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Add the remaining sauce, I used 2 tablespoons of Sriracha but you could definitely use more (or less!) and carrots.

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Toss with cashews (or peanuts) and green onion

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Veggies for rice

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Egg

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Don’t take it!

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Make it!

Kung Pao Chicken and Fried Rice 

ingredients: 

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, small cubes

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic,  minced

10 twists black pepper

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup water plus 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons sriracha (more or less depending on spicy preference)

3 tablespoons

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced in rounds (using a veggie peeler)

1/2 cup cashews

3 green onions, sliced on the diagonal

instructions and directions: 

In a small bowl, combine: garlic, pepper, corn starch  two tablespoons of water, sriracha, brown sugar, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Whisk until blended.

Pour 1/2 the liquid into a large bowl and add raw chicken. Toss to coat and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Add the 1/4 cup water to the remaining liquid. Whisk and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat sesame oil. Add marinated chicken and cook through, about 8 minutes. Add remaining liquid mixture and carrots and cook 2-3 minutes until the liquid thickens.

Sprinkle with green onion and cashews and toss together.

for the rice:

2 cups brown rice, cooked (you could also use 10 oz bag of steam rice)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 cup frozen, mixed vegetables (corn, peas, limas, green beans) thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

10 grinds fresh pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

instructions and directions: 

In a large skillet over medium, heat sesame oil.

Add garlic to oil and cook one minute. Add thawed vegetables and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add egg and cook 1 minute more. Add rice, pepper and soy sauce and cook 1-2 minutes until everything is cooked through.

Add more soy sauce if desired.

Serve with Kung Pao.

Italian Turkey Meatball Sandwiches

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Meatballs have always creeped me out. I don’t like the idea, the shape or the consistency. But these meatballs converted me. They are flavorful and made with turkey.  I love it when my mind is changed.

Still the same shape, so I guess I am going to have to get over that.

They make a few more than are needed for the sandwich and those leftovers are fantastic on-the-spot snack.

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Gather ingredients

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Assemble meatballs

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Bake meatballs

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Sample meatballs (the moment where my mind was changed)

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Marinara

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The hoagie line up

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Stuff

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Melt

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Italian Turkey Meatball Sandwiches 

ingredients: 

1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7)

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

1 egg

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 chopped fresh parsley

20 grinds fresh pepper

1 teaspoon salt

6 ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, grated and divided

1/2 cup panko seasoned breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 hoagie buns or soft baguettes

marinara sauce (recipe below)

instructions and directions: 

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine: turkey, onion, egg, garlic, parsley, pepper, salt, 1/2 of the grated mozzarella  bread crumbs and tomato paste. Form mixture into small 1 inch meatballs. Should make about 20-25 depending on the sizes.

Line meatballs on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Line up hoagies and sprinkle/stuff half of the remaining cheese along the bottom of the bread. Top cheese with two tablespoons of marinara. Line with 4-5 meatballs. Spoon 2-3 more tablespoons of marinara over the meatballs and sprinkle hoagies with remaining cheese.

Bake sandwiches for 2-3 minutes or until cheese has melted.

to make marinara: 

Ingredients: 

1-16 ounce can tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced or 2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon sea salt

10 grinds fresh pepper or 1 tsp pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

Instructions and directions: 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Let simmer 10-15 minutes.

Eat Here! Rizzo’s (Memphis) Review and The Weekend

This weekend we traveled down 1-40 to visit with friends and family from west Tennessee area.

There isn’t much to see on the straight drive there but there is a Dairy Queen at a regular stop that we like to call “the 108” because we are super creative and it is mile marker 108. See what we did there?

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An Oreo blizzard was our selection and we shared it to get us through the last stretch.

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The weekend was filled with yummy breakfasts from our hosts.

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Local veggie pizza on Saturday night from Lucci’s!

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My dear friend Megan recently  had a precious little girl and  I spent plenty of time holding her and almost meant every apology I gave about the fact that she wasn’t going to want to go to sleep without being held, when I left.  She was too cute to put down and Megan is a great mom already!

Rizzo Logo

Friday night on our way down we met up with some friends, Kacy and Jordan, to try out one of their favorite Memphis restaurants, Rizzo’s Diner.   Rizzo’s has recently been featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives!

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Because of it’s size, it is more like a hole in the wall. With less than 10 tables,  it serves up gourmet fare at a fair price. They also serve up lunch and weekend brunch.

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The restaurant is mostly BYOB (with a very reasonable corking fee)  but they are beginning to bring on wine’s to purchase in case you don’t feel like bringing your own or you just want a glass.  You can see straight into the kitchen and we sat right outside of it which was fun.

It’s sort of creole/fancy/southern. Chef Michael Patrick has an impressive resume, is super friendly and you can tell he loves what he does.

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This was delicious. First of all, it’s tempura fried lobster. Secondly, it has a dijon aioli that rocks.

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We also had the Vegetable Platter and I can’t say enough good things about their black bean hummus. Yum!

The South Main Salad has a plum vinaigrette and was delicious.

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I had the Scallops with a delicious lemon buerre blanc

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My side kick had Ancho Chili Brisket with a corkscrew mac and cheese. I was so glad this wasn’t served with potatoes! You can’t really see it but trust me.

Needless to say there was nothing left on our plates!

apple rating

8 out of 10 apples for this surprising but humble and  inconspicuous spot.  Cheers to Rizzo’s!

Quick Chicken Piccata

When I go out to a good Italian restaurant I am likely to order something with a cream based sauce rather than a tomato sauce. I think it is because I don’t make cream based sauce at home that often and if I can’t see how much butter, cream and cheese they are putting in to the pasta, then it’s not there. Right?


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This recipe is neither cream based nor tomato based but is packed full of flavor and is on the table in under 30 minutes!

I infuse the olive oil with garlic before I get cooking. This is easy, while you are waiting on the oil to heat in the pan, just take two cloves of garlic, that have been sliced lengthwise, into the oil, cut side down. Once the oil starts to heat up it will begin to cook the garlic. Right before you cook the chicken, take the garlic out. At this point it will have flavored the oil and will be fragrant. You could also use garlic olive oil, if you have it.

raw chicken

Using chicken cutlets helps with quick cooking and fast flavor.

(Trying to make raw chicken look sexy is nearly impossible)

breadcrumbs

Spread breadcrumb mixture over a plate. Using regular breadcrumbs and panko together is key.

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This ensures a lot of breadcrumbs stick to the chicken and helps it achieve maximum crunchiness.

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Capers make this sauce salty and help with authenticity

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The pan sauce takes only minutes to make with even little stirring

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I used rotini because I had it in the pantry already.  Topping with parmesan cheese before you lay the chicken on top of it helps it melt to its full potential.

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Top with chicken and sauce.

QUICK CHICKEN PICCATA

ingredients: 

1 pound chicken breast cutlets

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

8 twists freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, halved (or use garlic olive oil and omit garlic)

1/2 cup chicken broth

4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

12 ounces rotini noodles, cooked (or another short pasta)

instructions and directions: 

Combine breadcrumbs and lay evenly on a plate.

Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper; dredge in breadcrumbs.

Cook half of chicken in 1 tablespoon hot oil (that has been infused with garlic) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and juices run clear. Remove chicken to a serving platter, and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Don’t layer chicken or it will sweat.

Once all the chicken has been cooked and removed from pan, add broth, capers and lemon juice to skillet, and cook, stirring to loosen bits from the bottom of the skillet, until sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from heat; add butter and parsley, stirring until butter melts. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken, and serve over warm noodles.

adapted from Southern Living

Puff Pastry Chicken Pot Pie

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As a child, I was a big fan of Turkey Pot pie. I’ve had champagne taste all my life and always enjoyed things that seemed a little glamorous. Hey, when you’re six and you have your own pie in a cute silver pan, it seems fancy. Drinking orange juice out of a wine glass is another good example.  I can’t be blamed, the babysitter let me watch Days of Our Lives.

Over the years I have reduced my pot pie consumption for obvious reasons but every winter I have to indulge myself. My husband and fellow pot pie lover, thinks pot pie is like a fancy version of chicken and dumplings so he is of course on board.

Although this recipe is somewhat traditional, it also has a twist. I use broccoli  onion, carrot and chicken in my pot pie and they are all roasted before everything is assembled.

Instead of a traditional pie crust, I just top them all with puff pastry which gets so fluffy and I just love it.

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Check out that fluff!

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Start out by roasting your chicken and veggies.

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Make a roux

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The thick gravy gets great flavor from the chicken broth

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Assemble in bowls

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Top with puff pastry

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Brush with egg wash

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Bake

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Now all we need is that wine glass!

Puff Pastry Chicken Pot Pie

ingredients: 

1 large broccoli crown, cut into small florets

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 large onion, diced large

olive oil

3 cups chicken broth

5 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

15 twists of freshly ground black pepper

dash of hot sauce

2 small roasted chicken breasts, cubed

2 tablespoons cream

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

instructions and directions: 

Heat oven to 375.

Toss vegetables with olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

Divide cooked and cubed chicken breasts and roasted vegetables, among 4 oven safe bowls.

In a nonstick skillet, over medium heat, melt butter and add flour whisking constantly to create a roux. Whisk for 5 minutes until the flour taste has cooked out. Slowly add chicken broth one cup at a time until smooth and thick, about 10 minutes. Sauce should not have clumps. Add thyme, salt, pepper, cream and hot sauce.

Ladle sauce equally between the four bowls filled with chicken and vegetables.

Beat egg and one tablespoon water in a small bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, cut puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares.

Place one square over each filled bowl. Brush the top of each pot pie with egg wash.

Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is fluffy and brown.