Nashville Noshing

About a month ago, my wife and I visited our daughter in Nashville, TN for a week. We had a great time. We got to be in the booth when she was interviewed on Lightning 100 and got VIP seats for her show at The Basement East. Since we had never been to Nashville, she really wanted to show us some of the traditional sights (like the Country Music Hall of Fame), but also some lesser known places that where big down there.

She took us to a lot of local shops selling all sorts of things. The one that caught my attention was called Chocolate F/X. It’s a local chocolate shop that specializes in mixing hand made chocolate with Hollywood special effects. The results are amazing. Here’s a werewolf they had on display.

Chocolate F/X - Werewolf

It’s difficult to get an idea of scale from the picture. It was probably about 10 inches across the shoulders and stood almost as high. I don’t think it was for sale though. They did have some smaller pieces that were available. I opted for one of my favorite horror characters, Freddy Kruger.

Chocolate F/X - Freddy Kruger

The week was topped off by a visit to one of Nashville’s best restaurants – Kayne Prime. I knew it was supposed to be high end, but I really got a better sense of what that meant when we pulled up and a McLaren was parked out front.

Kayne Prime - McLaren

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the McLaren, it’s easily $250K and was such a sweet ride that I couldn’t help but get a picture of it even though I’m kind of partial to Lamborghini. Then again, I’ll never be able to afford either of them.

When we went inside, they had a team of waiters and assistants that served you. Oddly, the assistant waiter turned out to be from a town neighboring our home. He joked that we could talk about anything but football – our High School always beat theirs. They had some really nice steaks on the menu. My wife went with the Prime Rib, and I decided on the Flat Iron steak. We got a bunch of appetizers/sides for the table including risotto tater tots and a delicious macaroni gratinee. There were others, but they didn’t interest me.

Kayne Prime - Dinner Kayne Prime - Meal

The meal was awesome. The only steak I have had that was better was at Murray’s Steakhouse in Minneapolis. If you are ever in Nashville, and want a nice upscale dinner, I highly recommend going to Kayne Prime.

Ran Like a Mother, Ate Like a Dad

On Mother’s Day, my wife, youngest daughter, and I all participated in a charity 5K run called “Run Like a Mother”. It was the first 5K for all of us. My wife wanted to do it both for the charity Kelly’s Angels (which supports children who have lost their mothers), and also as part of her health and fitness journey. I did it for the charity (my mom died when my sister was only 7) and to support my wife.

The day started pretty early for a weekend. We had to be there at 7:30 in the morning and it takes a half hour to get there. I hadn’t preregistered, so I did so when we arrived. Then we each got our number. I was 602. I’m sure there were more people that registered after me.

The run started at 9:00 and we were a good ways towards the back of the crowd. My wife and I weren’t planning on running fast so we didn’t want to get in the way of others. Since we were so far back, it started as more of a walk until things opened up a little. Kate took off running at this point while I stayed with Linda. Shortly afterwards, Linda started jogging. We jogged a bit then walked a bit throughout the entire hilly course. Generally we walked uphill and jogged down. Around 51 minutes later we arrived at the finish line with Kate cheering us on. Apparently the numbers we wore were tagged in some way. Shortly after we finished, they posted the standings. Kate came in 218th. I was 444 and Linda was 445. According to the web page with the stats, there were 566 runners so we beat over 100 people. Not bad for our first 5K.

When we got back into town, we stopped in for breakfast at a local cafe. The coffee wasn’t great, but my Challah French Toast pretty good. After breakfast we went home and chilled out most of the day. Later on, I went to the store to pick up some steaks. Earlier in the week, I had seen a new seasoning I want to try at BJ’s Wholesale Club, but I didn’t want to spend $7 on a huge container of it. Well, as luck would have it Hannaford had a small packet.

Brown Sugar Bourbon MarinadeI don’t drink bourbon, but I do like brown sugar so I wanted to give it a try. I seasoned Linda’s steak with the usual garlic powder, onion powder, and Nature’s Seasons, but I used the new marinade on mine. As it cooked, it appeared that some of the marinade may have come off. The steak looked great, but I didn’t think the flavor was very strong. It was good, so I am definitely going to use the rest of the packet on my next steak.

Brown Sugar Bourbon SteakOverall, we had a great Mother’s Day. We ran our first 5K and had some great steaks.  I ran like a mother and ate like a dad. Who could ask for more?

Decorative Cupcakes of Washington

It’s been a while since my last post. A few weeks ago my Mother-In-Law had a heart attack. She pulled through physically despite being 88, but it did kind of bring together a lot of family members that we don’t often see. Linda and I went down to Virginia for several days to be with her mother in the hospital. I have never been more impressed with a hospital than I was with Mary Washington Hospital. When we pulled up they had free valet parking. When we went inside the security staff were friendly and helpful in pointing us where we needed to go. And the nurses! The nurses that cared for Doris were incredible and caring. Many of them had also dealt with dementia patients before – a condition that is still making the situation more difficult to deal with than it otherwise would be. I don’t envy them, but it takes a special kind of person to do that work.

Anyway, among the many family members we saw at the hospital was my niece Danielle. Linda told me about her cupcake business and I’ve seen some of the pictures she’s posted on Facebook, but I hadn’t really seen or tasted her work. I guess I never really thought of cupcakes as much more than mom made growing up. Well, cupcakes have come a long way since then.

Cupcake with Fairy Wings

She didn’t bring anything fancy like the fairy wings with her, but she brought several flavors including chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet. I had a pretty good sampling of them and they were delicious.

Apparently cupcakes are becoming a big thing these days. I shouldn’t be surprised by that considering my wife and I watch “2 Broke Girls” which is about a couple of girls starting a cupcake business. Not only are cupcakes getting more creative, they are also starting to take the place of the more traditional sheet cake. Our niece Danielle makes these pull-apart cakes as well. Some look like sheet cakes and some are much more interesting. The puppy below is one of my favorites.

Pool CakeFootball Field CupcakePuppy CupcakeSponge Bob Cupcake

If you are in her area and are looking for something delicious and creative for your next party or event, check out Decorative Cupcakes of Washington.

Whole Wheat Waffles Recipe

Linda had a bunch of the whole wheat flour leftover after making the rolls last night. She found a recipe for waffles and so we decided to try it out this morning.  She mixed all the ingredients up and poured the mix into the waffle maker. I think these are the first real waffles we’ve made in it. We’ve only done cinnamon roll waffles before.

Colonie-20130210-00195

 

We weren’t really sure of the timing, so the first one was kind of an experiment. It was a bit soft, but it still looked and tasted great. It was a little difficult to get out , but stayed intact.

Colonie-20130210-00197 Colonie-20130210-00198

 

We left the next 2 in for a little longer to let them get just a bit crispy on the outside. They were a bit easier to get out of the waffle maker. They looked great and were quite good. I never used to like whole wheat foods, but I’m finding more and more that I like them now .

Colonie-20130210-00200

 

I was kind of full and didn’t quite finished the second waffle. We put the last one in a food storage bag  for later since we had to get ready for the movies. We went to a matinee of Identity Thief. We love Melissa McCarthy in Mike & Molly and she was great in Bridesmaids too. We both really liked the movie and thought it reminded us a little bit of Midnight Run.

Anyway, if you want to make the waffles, you can look it up on Betty Crocker’s site or just use the recipe listed below. We skipped the honey-peanut butter syrup so it’s not listed below. Not because I wouldn’t like it. I just didn’t feel like it considering we were heading out to the movies.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Heat waffle maker. If necessary, brush with vegetable oil before batter for each waffle is added (or spray with cooking spray before heating).
  2. In medium bowl, beat egg whites with egg beater until foamy. Beat in remaining waffle ingredients just until smooth.
  3. Pour about 3/4 cup batter from cup or pitcher onto center of hot waffle maker. (Check manufacturer’s directions for recommended amount of batter.) Close lid of waffle maker.
  4. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle. Repeat with remaining batter.

via Whole Wheat Waffles with Honey-Peanut Butter Syrup Recipe from Betty Crocker.

Whole Wheat Rolls Recipe

On Friday night, Nemo came to town bringing a bit less snow that we originally expected. It was still a good 6 inches or so, but not the 18 we could have gotten. I have cousins in Connecticut who had closer to 30 inches. I’m glad we didn’t get anywhere near that. We have a rather long driveway and a few years back our snow blower died and I’ve been shoveling every year since.

Nemo - Driveway Before

 

What you can’t tell from these pictures is just how big the area at the top of the driveway is for the cars. We fit 3 cars across and have an area for backing up to turn around. I think that is probably more square footage than the rest of the driveway. It certainly takes longer. You have to walk the snow over the the side to dump it.

Nemo - Driveway After

Since I was going to be outside shoveling, my wife made hot cocoa for me during a break I took and also when I finished. She even puts little marshmallows in it. Because I was working so hard, she also planned a nice hearty dinner. There are a couple of meals she makes that I really look forward to and this was one of them – meatloaf with Betty Crocker’s  Butter & Herb Mashed Potatoes.

Nemo - Dig Out Meal

But, as if the smell of meatloaf in the house wasn’t enough, she went a step further. She made homemade whole wheat rolls to go along with dinner. They seemed pretty simple to make but do take some time to rise. They didn’t rise much during the first rise period, but the really did double during the second. Linda didn’t notice how many rolls it was supposed to make so she had 9 large rolls instead of 12 smaller ones. They cooked up quite large and nicely golden brown.

Whole Wheat Rolls Fresh From Oven

 

We think that because they were so large they came out just a little doughy in the middle, so we probably should have lightly covered them and given them a little more time. Still, they came out really delicious. There is nothing like a nice hot fresh buttered roll to go along with meatloaf. I was quite full then I was done.

Buttered Whole Wheat Rolls

 

My wife puts a lot of love into her cooking and it really shows. She has a bunch of wheat flour left over and plans on making a few more treats. I can’t wait. For now, if you want to make some whole wheat rolls yourself, here is the recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, optional

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, yeast and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120°-130° add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened.
  3. Add egg; beat until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Punch dough down; shape into 12 balls. Place in a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush tops with oil if desired.
  7. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 dozen.

via Whole Wheat Rolls Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes.

Superbowl Snacks and Steaks

Since the light went out during the third quarter, I’m taking the time to post a little but about the snacks and steaks we had during the game.

Superbowl - Chocolate Ecstasy

Last night my wife, Linda, made her famous Chocolate Ecstasy. It’s a pretty simple dessert to make and it goes fast. All you need is some chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, brownies, and Crunch bars. Start at the bottom of the dessert dish and line it with brownies. Then add a layer of pudding, a layer of Cool Whip and top it off with broken up pieces of Crunch bar. Then do it all over again for as many layers as you want. It is probably my favorite dessert that my wife makes. Scratch that – it IS my favorite dessert she makes.

Superbowl - Chocolate Ecstasy PlatedAn hour before the game started we prepped some homemade mozzarella sticks. We’ve done them before and  it’s always hard to get them to come out right. This time I did pretty well. Slice up the mozzarella into sticks and dip it in egg then in bread crumbs. Set them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then heat some cooking oil. I cook just one at a time so they don’t get away from me. I dip them briefly until they get golden brown and then pull them out. This is where we usually have problems. It’s hard to cook them all the way through without running into problems. This time I decided not to worry about that. I just made sure the outside looked good.

Superbowl - Homemade Mozzarella SticksWhen they were all done, I put them in the oven at 400 for a few minutes to let them melt a bit more on the inside. I think this is how I am going to do them from now on because they came out better than they ever have this way.

Superbowl - Mozzarella SticksA little before the game I fired up the grill and cooked up a nice rib-eye for Linda and a New York Strip for myself.

Superbowl SteaksI made up plantains for Linda and some fries for both of us to go along with the steaks. It was a great meal, but I made sure to leave room for dessert.

Superbowl Strip Steak

Neither of us really had much serious interest in the game since our teams didn’t make it in. Since the Ravens beat the Patriots (who I wanted to see in the game) I figure they deserve to win the Superbowl. So far things are going their way.

Anyway, the lights are back on and so is the game, so I’m headed back to the couch to see more of it and those hilarious commercials. The M&Ms “I Would Do Anything For Love” commercial is my favorite this year.

Football Food Frenzy

In our house, football means one thing – big playoff parties with lots of food. When the kids were in High School, we would invite each of the kids friends over and some of the parents we knew and throw a great big feast. As the kids have grown, we have at times missed our tradition. This year we didn’t. We did it and in a big way – including two TVs to make it easier to watch from anywhere in the room. With 17 people watching, that helped a lot.

Double the Football - Double the Fun

Linda and I started cooking the night before since some things keep pretty well. We made up a bunch of rice and shredded Colby Jack cheese. This morning we cut up the chicken and seasoned a bunch of it for my famous chicken tenders. We also sauteed a bunch for several tins of chicken fried rice. Linda scrambled at least 18 eggs, maybe more for that dish.

The shredded cheese was for cheese fries. We shredded at least 4 pounds of cheese and cooked up around 3 pounds of bacon. We picked up a big bag of fries at BJ’s Wholesale Club and cooked the whole thing. Linda layers fries first, then bacon, then cheese and then repeats for a second time. We bake them for about 10 minutes at 425. We made 3 tins of them because they go fast.

Football Feast 1

I’ve always been a fan of Nathan’s Lil Smokies. Sometime we’ll make them with baked beans. This time we made them with Jack Daniel’s Original Recipe BBQ sauce. We put them in a crock pot on low heat for about an hour before people arrived.

Football Feast 2

Our son and his girlfriend brought over a lasagna. Although I didn’t have any people said it was really good. One of our son’s friends brought some pulled pork and green bean casserole. He also brought rolls and corn bread. Our daughter brought over guacamole and tostitos. All in all, it was a great spread.

Football Feast 3

One of our daughters friends brought over some desserts. The first was a small chocolate cake drops with either peanut butter or Oreo toppings. The Oreo was good, but the peanut butter ones were awesome. They also brought something call Hello Dolly that consisted of a later of graham cracker on the bottom with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, chopped walnut and condensed milk. I’m not a fan of walnut so I haven’t tried it yet, but we did set some aside so I will shortly.

Football Feast 4

It was a great time of food and friends. The dogs were pretty well behaved too. Except for my Patriots losing, it was a great night.

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