R Davidson Chophouse Review



My wife and I had the opportunity to go out on a date to Tuscaloosa the other night (something we don't get to do much) and try a place called R. Davidson Chophouse. I haven't heard of this place, but I wanted to try it out after looking at the menu. We were pleasantly and wonderfully surprised how good this place is!

1. The atmosphere: As we entered the restaurant we noticed how decorative the place-setting was on each table. We also noticed that there was giant projector screen TVs that could be used for presentations or to turn on a ballgame. So the feel we got when we first entered is the look of an upscale dining restaurant with a casual tone in it. We actually enjoyed and appreciated it.

2. The service: The service was excellent. We had a waiter that gave recommendations and also was pleasant and personable. On thing we appreciated is that the waiter actually tries the specials so he can give his personal input on it. He also memorizes the specials so he can recite them.  He constantly came to our table and checked on us.

3. The food: The food was spot-on. We had some dishes that I believe I would have trouble reproducing at home:


We started off with portabella  mushroom fries with a spicy horseradish dipping sauce. They were great and had a good texture and feel.  A great starter!



We actually got a surprise when our waiter brought out a complimentary rosemary bread loaf with pimento spread. It was delicious! It was a great mixture with the sweet bread and the salty pimento spread. Great combination!


The sides were al a carte, so we ordered the roasted seasonal vegetables and the lobster mac and cheese. The size of the al a carte items were big enough to feed both me and my wife. The seasonal vegetables were zucchini, onions and peppers. They were cooked great and seasoned well. The lobster mac and cheese was excellent. You would get hunks of lobster in some bites and it was perfect.


I ordered the pan roasted chicken and my wife ordered a large bone in pork chop.  In all my times ordering chicken out, this was one of the best chicken dishes I have had. It was a moist piece of chicken with a nice brown crust on the outside. I tried a bite of my wife's dish it was flavorful as well.

The only minor thing that was with the dishes is my wife's pork chop was a little under-cooked but it was still tasty.



For dessert we had bread pudding with caramel sauce on top. YES! This was an excellent bread pudding, and one order was able to feed both of us.  I would actually come here to just order this dessert!


4. Price: To have the feel of an upscale restaurant it actually was not as pricey as one would imagine. We paid a little over $60 not including tip. So the prices were reasonable for the quality of service and food.

5. Overall: Great atmosphere, great service, and great food, made for a great experience. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone in the Tuscaloosa area. I would like to highlight the service. That is what made the experience. Great job!

You can find R Davidson Chophouse at:
 
2330 4th St, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Sriracha T-Bone



We celebrated our daughter's Gotcha day by doing what we do best. Eating steaks!  I decided to do a little something different with my T-bone I  purchased, and I was very pleased of the result! I never knew putting sriracha on a steak before you cook it would turn out so well.

1 T-bone steak
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp clarified butter
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sriracha

The day before you cook your steak, remove from package and pat down with a paper towel. Sprinkle 1/2 of the amount of kosher salt to use on both sides and set in the fridge uncovered overnight. This will pull out any excess moisture.

The next day, about 20 minutes before cooking your steak, remove from fridge and pat down again with another paper towel. This next step is an optional step, but I did it anyway. Take a fork and poke small holes in both sides of the steak, then beat slightly with a meat tenderizer mallet.  Take your garlic powder and mix with your melted clarified butter.Add a pinch of salt to the butter. After doing so divide the butter evenly into two small bowls. Take a brush and generously brush both sides from only one of the bowls.  Sprinkle the rest of the salt on both sides of steaks, and add pepper and paprika.Brush sriracha evenly on both sides.

Take a skillet and turn to medium high heat. Cook steak for 6 minutes on first side and flip.  Take your unused garlic butter and spoon over the top of the steak and cook another six minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

The result was one of the most tender, flavorful steaks I've had in a while. So tender I could tear it apart with a fork.  The Sriracha  gave the steak a rich flavor with just a little bite to it. Try this when you get a chance!

Chocolate Delight


As we try to maintain our diet, every now and then we get a sweet craving. For me, its primarily chocolate. We found a recipe on a diet board online (I wish I had a link to share) that gives us great chocolate flavor without so much of the guilt that is involved.  Here is what we did:

2/3 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

If you are not  a honey person, you can substitute for maple syrup. 

First, begin by making sure the coconut oil is liquid. If it is not, warm it in a boiler until it melts on low heat. 

Add cocoa powder, honey vanilla extract and salt to coconut oil. Mix well.

Take a mini-muffin tin and spray with cooking spray. Fill each tin about 1/3 of the way full. This should make about 20 chocolate pieces.

Place tin in fridge and let harden for at least 2 hours. After they are set, take then out of the tins, but I would keep them in a container in the fridge, due to melting.

And there you have it! They are tasty, and help with craving every now and then. Try it sometime!






Coconut Flour Waffles



We decided to have breakfast for dinner and try using some coconut flour we received as a gift. After we found a recipe on the Girl vs. Dough website, I must say these are great! The are light, fluffy,and tasty. Put your favorite (light) syrup and some cooked apples, and you have some good waffles. I also made some homemade sausage to go with it. In all, this dinner is gluten free and Paleo approved!

8 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk


The original recipe called for coconut milk, but we substituted for regular milk.

Break eggs into a mixer and mix together. Pour melted butter and mix for another 10 seconds. Add your milk, then dry ingredients and mix until incorporated well.

Pour batter into a waffle maker, about 1/4 cup and cook until desired doneness.

It was a delicious breakfast for dinner!

Seared Pork Chops


This recipe is another Whole 30 favorite that is simple and flavorful. I cooked up some sweet potato fries and apples with it to make a great combination. For this recipe the ratios are approximate for the chops.

5 pork chops (thick cut)
2 cups apple cider
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp clarified butter

Take your thick cut pork chops and butterfly them so they are flat. In a fridge safe container, place all your pork chops and cover with the apple cider. Marinate 4 hours to overnight.

Remove pork chops from liquid and pat dry with a paper towel. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika on both sides evenly.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat and add clarified butter.  Cook pork chops for about 4 minutes per side or until the chops are cooked medium-well. Don't overcook!

The result is very flavorful pork chops that are moist and tender. The apple cider is the key!


Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream



We are having a social/swimming  party at church and it gave me a good excuse to try my hand at some chocolate ice cream.  It turned out great! Creamy, chocolaty, goodness! Here is what I did:

2 cans chocolate sweetened condensed milk
1 can pet milk
1 ½ cups sugar
1 quart half n half
4 eggs, to be tempered
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate syrup

In a small boiler, take two cans of the chocolate sweetened condensed milk, one can pet milk(evaporated milk) and sugar and bring to where all contents are hot and sugar has dissolved but not boiling.

Take four eggs and whisk. Take hot mixture and slowly temper the eggs. Once eggs are properly tempered, mix eggs in mixture and remove from heat. Add vanilla. Pour mixture into four quart size ice cream maker. Pour in half n half. Stir and place in fridge for two hours or longer.

When thoroughly chilled, use electric ice cream maker as per instructions.
This is one you need to try! The chocolate condensed milk is the star of this recipe.

Old Hickory-Columbus, MS Review


Image via Yelp.com.  It was raining when I tried to take my pic.

My dad's birthday is coming up Sunday and we decided to take him out for a steak. We decided to take him to Old Hickory in Columbus, MS. I wanted to also review the restaurant while I was there, because Old Hickory is a happening place in Columbus. Here are my thoughts:

1. The atmosphere: The atmosphere is a very rustic, old-fashioned restaurant. If I had one word to describe it, I would call it a "manly" restaurant. I would not call this a fine dining restaurant, and would not take someone for a "date night" dinner. It has a much more casual feel to it. 

2. The service: The service was average to above average. The waitress was very pleasant and checked on us periodically. She had a smile on her face when she waited on us. 

3. The food: 

Sirloin for two.

You will realize quickly the only food you can order on the menu is beef.  From rib-eyes to large sirloin to filet, you have beef galore. Every main meal comes with a salad, potato, and bread. 

We noticed right at the beginning that the salad only came with three types of dressings: ranch, blue cheese, or thousand island.  My wife does not like mayo or cream based dressings so she had to eat her salad with no dressing. Also, we noticed that the dressings are "community" dressings. The dressings came out in three large bowls to the table that you dipped with a spoon.  Now I am not sure of the protocol, but we noticed two possibilities happening with the dressings. 1. They were wasting a huge amount of dressings by bringing that amount out  and then discarding it. Or, 2.  They were re-using the same containers at different tables,  in which how do we know someone didn't lick the spoon and put it back in the dressing? That seemed a little off for us, either way.

We had the sirloin for 2 and it had a good flavor to it. However, the sirloin was very thick and had a very large amount of silver skin that made about 1/3 of it not edible or hard to cut. The pieces that did not have the silver skin were very good. It was cooked perfectly medium-rare.

The potato was just an average potato that came with the meal. 

4. Price: At almost $25 for a steak, it would need to be a near-perfect steak. Unfortunately, due to the toughness of our steak we didn't feel it was worth the $46  steak for 2  that we purchased.  We feel this was probably more of a $30 steak. My parents whom were with us had rib-eyes, and said they were cooked very well. 


5. Overall: For a casual experience with one of the better tasting steaks you can go out and eat, this is a good place.  The price is a little steep, for I could buy the same steak and cook at home for a fraction of the cost with just as much flavor.  I would not recommend this as a "fancy" date you would take a first date or for your anniversary.  It is a man's man restaurant. If you don't like beef don't go here. With just a few minor criticisms, however it is a good place to eat. I recommend you try it a least once if you are in the Columbus, MS area.

Visit their Facebook page here.

Old Hickory Steakhouse
1301 Hwy 45 N
Columbus, MS 









Smoked Chicken Thighs



It was a challenge to continue to be on Whole30 and celebrate the 4th of July. So I decided to do some research and find a recipe that sounded good and was still Whole30 compliant. I found a recipe on Recipe Diaries and tried it out on a wing and a prayer. Or a thigh? Anyway, it turned out really good! Smoked and then finished in the oven. I adjusted to recipe due to spiciness and amount of thighs.

    12 chicken thighs
    2 tbsp clarified butter
    2 tsp paprika
    1 tbsp chili powder
    1 tbsp thyme
    1 tbsp garlic powder
    1 tbsp cayenne
    1 tbsp salt
    2 tbsp black pepper

 Take clarified butter, melt it down, and rub or brush each thigh thoroughly with it. Mix all of your spices together and coat all thighs well. Place your thighs skin side down on a smoker cooking indirect at 225 degrees(if you don't remember my indirect method, click here). I used hickory chips(about 1/4 bag, soaked) and charcoal to smoke the chicken. I smoked the chicken  1 1/2 hours on the smoker(only turning once) then cooked in the oven 1 1/2 hours at 225 degrees.


I will say now, that this was BETTER than the recipe where I marinate it in Dale's Seasoning. Yes, it is that good! And it is Whole30 compliant!

Blueberry Lara Bars



We were introduced to a new kind of snack while we were doing our Whole30 program that became a game changer for us. What we liked about the Lara Bars was that there is no added sweetener to some of their bars, therefore making them Whole30 compliant.

The recipe we made was blueberry. These were very tasty, and a good alternative to snack or protein bars.

1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1 1/2 cups almonds
1/2 cup dried blueberries
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
1 tsp lemon zest

Take all of your ingredients and place in a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until they are blended well but still chunky. The bonding of the ingredients will work better if it is not over processed.

Take the mixture and place in any refrigerator safe container lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly on paper, about 1/4 inch thick. Place in fridge and let set for 2 hours.

Remove from fridge and cut with a pizza cutter the size you would like. In the size we cut, we made them about 4 inches long and got 12 bars from it. Individually wrap with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place back in fridge until ready to eat.

These are a tasty treat and Whole30 approved if you just leave the chia seeds out. Try this sometime!

Shrimp Romesco With Zoodles via Whole30



In sharing some of our favorite Whole-30 recipes, we begin with Shimp Romesco. You will begin by making the Romesco sauce that I previously posted here. After you make the sauce, you can construct an easy meal that tastes wonderful.

2 large zucchini
2 tbsp clarified butter
1/4 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp parsley leaves

One thing I suggest investing in if you don't have one is a spiral slicer. It does a wonderful job on the"zoodles". If you don't have one you can use a peeler and a julienne peeler. Make the zucchini in noodles and place on a plate. One thing I noticed in this dish is that the zoodles tend to get very moist and watery after you noodle them. I sprinkled about 1/2 tbsp kosher salt on the top, then placed a dry towel on it and let it set for a few minutes. It will draw a lot of moisture out.  I then place them in a metal colander.

In a skillet, add clarified butter and put on medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add the raw (or cooked, whatever you prefer) to the pan and mix the shrimp well with the garlic and onion. Add 1/4 cup water and let simmer with a lid o top for about 6 minutes or until shrimp is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

With the zoodles I left them in the metal colander and placed them over a boiler filled with water and steamed them for about 5 to 7 minutes on high heat.Once the zoodles are heated through, transfer to a plate or pan that has a dry towel on it to remove excess moisture.

Place zoodles in a bowl, and heat your Romesco sauce so it will be hot throughout. Place the Romesco sauce on top of the zoodles, then place your shrimp on top of the sauce. Top with parsley. Enjoy!

This was one of our favorite dishes while doing the program. Try it!

Paleo Pancakes Via Happy Healthy Mama



As we have reached the end of Whole30 we are looking for good alternatives to foods we at one time ate. Thanks to Happy Healthy Mama we found a great Paleo recipe that was tasty and not to difficult to make. The ratios were altered a bit for our tastes.

2 bananas
1 medium size sweet potato, cooked until soft
4 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder

I put the bananas, cooked sweet potato, eggs in to a mixer and blended until smooth (about setting 4). I would probably break up the bananas into small pieces before putting it in the bowl. After it has mixed smooth, add your cinnamon and baking powder and lower speed to stir.


In a pan add the oil or butter of your choice (we used clarified butter) and turn to medium heat.  Add about 1/3 cup of mixture at a time for each pancake. I noticed that it does take a little longer to cook, so I cooked the pancakes for about 5 minutes on the first side and about 2-3 minutes on the other.

What I can immediately compare it to is banana bread. It had a great texture and actually cooked up like a pancake. It was tasty with some fruit.

Try this when you are looking for a good alternative to regular pancakes or have a sensitivity to gluten. It was enjoyable!


Peanut Thai Chicken via Sweetlife.org



Here is a recipe that I found via Sweetlife.org that is good for you, and good for company. It has a good mixture of a little bit of sweet, and a little bit of heat. The recipe calls for these to be grilled, but I used a good cast-iron grill pan and the oven to do the trick.

1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos ( I used soy aminos)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks
Salt and pepper to taste


I took all the mixture ingredients and blended them until smooth. I took my drumsticks(placing them in a fridge safe container) and lightly salted and peppered each one. I poured the mixture over all of the drumsticks and let sit in the fridge for about an hour. When I take them out I lightly salt and pepper each drumstick again.


On medium high head with place the drumsticks on the cast iron skillet and brown on both sides, which will take about 6 or 7 minutes. I recommend the side with the most skin down first.Take your pan and place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees.

It was a great dish. With a cool cucumber salad to go with it, it was great!



Cajun Steak


I wanted to pump up the spice a little with a steak dish, and with this recipe I did just that. I primarily am focused on the steak for this recipe, but also roasted spicy rutabaga and seared zucchini went well with this dish. Here is what you will need for the steak:

2 strip steaks
4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Louisiana Cajun Seasoning

A couple of hours before cooking, take your steaks and sprinkle each side equally with your kosher salt. Place back in fridge uncovered. This will help pull out any excess moisture.

About 20 minutes before cooking take steaks out of fridge and let set at room temperature. This is a good time to be finishing up your sides.

Take pepper and sprinkle equally on both steaks, and also sprinkle equally the Cajun seasoning.

In a very hot skillet on high(you can use a mixture of vegetable oil and butter), sear each side of the steak for about 3 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes after both sides have been cooked.

It was great!

UMI Columbus Review



My wife and I went out on a date to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary and we decided we wanted sushi. A place that we had been many times before is a place called UMI.  I do, however need to give a little backstory about this place and were it all started at UMI for us.

Earlier in our marriage we lived in a little city called Columbus, Mississippi and we were distraught that there were no good sushi places there. We looked up on the internet a small sushi place in Starkville, called UMI. It was located in a small lot in a strip mall. We weren't sure at the time how it would be. When we arrived we were escorted in to our own little room. In fact, here is a picture of me looking at the sushi menu:


It was Christmas Eve, so it wasn't very busy, and the owner spent a lot of time with us. In fact, he let us try some sushi he had been working on. We ordered, and all the sushi was wonderful. The only thing that made us sad that night was that Starkville was a little but of a distance away for sushi. It was great.

Fast forward about seven years later. Now UMI has grown in Starkville, and now has its own restaurant in Columbus! It is a full restaurant with dining tables and  hibachi tables as well.

As many times as we have been there, I thought I would share a review of the restaurant.

1. The atmosphere: The atmosphere resembles any typical Asian flare restaurant that has hibachi and dinner tables. The restaurant was acceptably clean and the designs were nice. There were flat screen TVs located at every corner of the restaurant for those interested in sports. The hibachi areas were located on opposite side of the dinner tables so there is not much distraction when eating at a normal table. Since we were eating just sushi, we sat at a regular table. The atmosphere was quite good, and it was a very happening place, due to a large amount of people coming in and out of the restaurant.

2. The service: The service was average to above average. We did have to wait just a few minutes after ordering our drinks, but it was not overly long. We noticed our waitress had a whole section so we knew she was busy.

3. The food: The food was excellent.  We started out by ordering the vegetable tempura, which is coated and fried mushrooms, sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, and onion. It was a great starter before our main meal.

Our main meal was sushi, and UMI delivered. They brought out a very decorative plate of assorment of sushi, and also had a blinking light in the middle!  Here is a picture of our dish:


Here are the rolls we received: Philly Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, Dynamite Roll, Volcano Roll, and Orange Dragon Roll. Every one of the rolls were great. What made the rolls even better was the YumYum sauce that is provided at every table to dip your sushi in. 

What was my favorite? Probably the Volcano Roll. It was cream cheese and tempura shrimp stuffed sushi with spicy crab salad on top. I believe they put panko on top of the crab salad and bake it. It was phenomenal. My least favorite? Probably the Dynamite Roll. I have eaten other dynamite rolls that have been better. Plus dynamite rolls at every Japanese steakhouse seem to be different.

4. Price: The price was very reasonable. Some of the rolls were only 5 dollars a piece. Only one was more expensive. However it was the most tasty. 

5. Overall: A great place for a family, a date, a business meeting, or whatever reason you can make up to come. It has great food, good service and its not too loud to have good conversation. They also have the hibachi, which is entertaining as well. If  you are ever in Starkville or Columbus, Mississippi, try this place out!


COLUMBUS

1721 Highway 45 N STE 1
Columbus, MS 39705
Mon-Thu: 11:00am-2:30pm
4:30 pm-10:00 pm
Fri: 11:00am-2:30pm
4:30pm-10:30pm
Sat-Sun: 11:00am-10:30pm
(662) 570-4769

STARKVILLE
315 Highway 12 West
Starkville, MS 39759

Mon-Thu: 11:00am-2:30pm
4:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:00am-2:30pm
4:30pm-10:30pm
Sat-Sun: 11:00am-10:30pm
(662) 323-5258

Website:UMI



San Angel Inn-Epcot-Review



We made reservations a long time in advance to eat at San Angel Inn, a Mexican restaurant located in Epcot. I made this reservation in advance due to the fact that I had probably the best Mexican dish I ever ate there. Period. I built this story up in my head. It was going to be great. I can remember the dish: A duck stuffed poblano with pine nuts, almonds, and cranberries in a sweet sauce. Yum! So after I made the reservation I decided to check out their menu to see if anything was new. I noticed something. The stuffed poblano with duck was no longer there. No worries, they had a similar dish that was stuffed with pork. So here is my thoughts of San Angel Inn since I visited last:

1. The atmosphere: The atmosphere is made to resemble a Mexican cantina. It has a temple in the background with a volcano next to it. There is a boat river-ride that goes right through the restaurant. You will notice it is very dark in the restaurant. Almost too dark. I could see my food, but it was difficult due to lighting.  

Another thing I noticed about the restaurant was it was loud. Very loud. If one hopes to have a quiet, romantic evening here, it probably won't happen.  This is probably because the gift shop is right above the restaurant, where Epcot travelers come in and shop.

2. The service: The service for the restaurant was about par-level. It was nothing stellar, but nothing mediocre. He took our orders, and brought out our food. They didn't go out of their way for exceptional service.

3. The food: I will have to say the food was a disappointment for me. I ordered a Chile Relleno, which was a poblano pepper stuffed with pork, pine nuts, and almonds, topped with roasted tomato sauce:




It was decent. For the price of almost $30 per plate, it did not live up to the standards that I once held this restaurant. The pork was very bland, like it had been boiled in salt water. It was also very limited on the pine nuts and almonds, and there was no sweetness to balance the plate.  While this did not taste bad, I know here in my hometown I can get a stuffed poblano for 6 bucks that is just as good or better than this one.

Overall:
This was an expensive decent meal in a loud atmosphere. At one time my most cherished dish was at this restaurant, but it is no longer on the menu. I hope the best for the restaurant in the future, but as for now it is not as good as it once was.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival-Impressions



 I had a great opportunity to attend the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World in Florida recently. The festival included vibrant topiaries with character sculptures, garden destinations, and outdoor kitchens. I didn't get to observe the entire festival, because it is an event you would probably want to spend a couple of days experiencing. Here are a few things I observed during the visit:

Butterfly Exhibit


I was able to observe Butterflies on the Go, that had many different varieties of butterflies.   

Topiaries


 


Throughout the park, where were many decorative flowers,caricatures and gardens. It was a beautiful display of art that was created by world class horticulturists.   

Food

 My favorite part! I was not able to try everything there, but I was able to try a few different things here are a few:

 

 

Urban Farm Eats

 

 
Watermelon Salad with pickled onions, baby arugula, feta and balsamic reduction.





This plate was a very cool and refreshing plate, that blended quite nicely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cider House


Pear cider-brined shredded corned beef with braised cabbage and pears and Branston dressing
This was probably my least favorite dish that I tried. However, it was not a terrible taste, just one that someone would need to acquire.

House-made potato and cheddar cheese biscuit with smoked salmon tartare
Probably my favorite of all the dishes I tried. The biscuit was amazing, and the smoked salmon and the crema was fantastic.













Fleur De Lys

 

Macaron Chocolat Framboise-Large raspberry macaron with chocolate fudge and raspberry jam
 A heavenly french dessert that was not too sweet. The jam was a sweet surprise in the middle.

 

 

Florida Fresh

 
Non-alcoholic watermelon cucumber slush
Cool, crisp, and refreshing. I did not know you could ever mix watermelon and cucumber! Will have to make a copy-cat at home!











 

 

Taste of Marrakesh

Harissa chicken kebab with sweet couscous salad

Spicy chicken with cool couscous, it was great! The combination is what made the dish.












 

 

La Isla Fresca

 

Jerk chicken with mango salsa,chayote and green papaya slaw with lime-cilantro vinaigrette
A great finish. I love anything mango and papaya. I also had a non-alcoholic frozen Simply Tropical Juice drink to go with it.

 

 

Conclusion

It was a great visual and culinary experience. Not all of the food was perfect, but I didn't expect it to be.  I will, however try to create some of the recipes I have tried. This is me doing my Epcot happy dance:

  

 I enjoyed the experience, but I believe I enjoyed it more because we were able to experience it as a family.





Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins


My wife left me a nice going away present for me to enjoy for breakfast. These blueberry with cream cheese muffins were great!

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp vinegar
1 ts. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 cups flour
1 cup blueberries


For the filling
4 oz. cream cheese
3 tbsp  sugar.
Mix together and place in small bowl. 

For the Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
Mix all topping ingredients together and mash with a fork until combined.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix eggs until frothy for about 2 minutes. Add sugar and oil and beat until creamy. Add vanilla. Stir in vinegar, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Add Greek yogurt and stir with a spoon until mixed. Add flour, one cup at a time and continue to stir with a spoon. Batter will be lumpy. Add blueberries and gently fold in. Fill greased cupcake pan (or muffin cups) with about 2 tbsp. of muffin batter. Top with 1 tbsp. of cream cheese mixture, and then cover with a little more batter (a little less than 1 tbsp.). Sprinkle topping mixture over each muffin and place in oven for 15-22 minutes.

These are perfect to put in the freezer or fridge and take out and warm up on the go in the morning. Try these sometime!

Chocolate Chip Cookies


We had a fellowship at church tonight and we were asked to bring a dessert. We decided on one of the best desserts ever discovered by man: homemade chocolate chip cookies. These came out full and soft, and quite delicious.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine brown sugar, white sugar, butter and oil until creamed. Add eggs, one at a time and vanilla.
Sift baking soda, salt, baking powder and flour into a small bowl. Mix a cup of flour in at a time until well mixed.
Add milk chocolate chips and stir in with a wooden spoon. The mixture will look crumbly, but that is how it is supposed to look.
Roll into a ball the size of a walnut and placed on a greased baking sheet (or one lined with parchment paper). Bake for 8-10 minutes. 

These were probably the best homemade cookies I've ever eaten. Yes, they were that good.


 The recipe should yield: 3 1/2-4 dozen, depending how much dough you eat before you cook them.

Breakfast Frittata


My wife just recently prepared an awesome breakfast and I wanted to share the love. This is our take of a recipe that floats around on the internet that we decided to try. This recipe is not only delicious, but also diet-friendly. Yes. Its great for those dieting. In fact, I can eat half of this and I'm not supposed to feel guilty. In fact, I did eat half of it. Anyway, on to the recipe:

7 oz. sausage
5 cups baby spinach
4 oz. sweet potato, cubed
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup sweetened almond milk
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a fry pan on medium heat, cook sausage, chopping the sausage as it cooks. Transfer the sausage to a bowl, but leave the precious fat in the fry pan.  Saute the sweet potato in the sausage fat and cook until they are almost, but not quite, tender. Depending on the size of your potato cubes, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Saute onion and bell pepper as well until cooked through.  In a separate bowl, mix almond milk, eggs, and spices together. Take cooked ingredients and transfer to a pie plate, add egg mixture. Place into your preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove and let rest for about 5 minutes. You are done! It was a great recipe to prepare beforehand. All you have to do for breakfast is warm it in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Tasty!

Spatchcocked Chicken


We were in a dilemma Sunday afternoon when we didn't have anything thawed for dinner. I had a meeting in town, and decided to pick up a whole chicken to cook. I decided to do a low and slow spatchcocked chicken, where I removed the backbone and cooked the chicken flat in a cast-iron skillet. It creates a very flavorful chicken and a crispy skin. This was perfect due to us being at church and not worrying about finding something to cook when we got home.

1 chicken
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 leaf basil
1 sprig lemon thyme

With a sharp knife, remove the backbone of the chicken. When removed, the chicken will be flat and butterflied. If you need help with taking the backbone out, click here for a video. I put the backbone in the crock-pot to make chicken broth later.

Season both sides of your chicken evenly with all of your spices. Place your sprigs and basil on the side where the backbone was and place breast up in a cast iron skillet.

Roast your chicken in the oven for 3 hours on 225 degrees. The last 2 minutes you can broil if you want more crispy skin.

It is done! It was delicious. Try this method when you have to run errands and don't have to watch your food cook.

P.S. Save the bones so you can make some tasty homemade broth!

Philly Cheese Steak



My wife asks me on cheat day what I'm craving, and about every time I mention I want a Philly Cheese-steak sandwich.  It seems, however,  that I rarely get one. Well, one day I finally was given the precious opportunity to eat one it all of its glory. Amazing. It was cheesy, salty, buttery, and delicious.

2 onions
2 bell peppers
1 14 oz package sirloin (thinly sliced)
1 package sliced provolone cheese
1 tbsp Worcestershire
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
1 package ciabatta or french dinner rolls

Slice your peppers and onions. Place onions and peppers in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Saute for 3-5 minutes.

Create a space on the other side of your skillet and place  your sirloin. Let it cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder your onions, peppers and the sirloin. After 3 minutes turn the sirloin over and sprinkle a little more salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Let the meat cook another couple of minutes then sprinkle Worcestershire only on the meat. Let the sauce reduce them incorporate ingredients all together. Turn to medium low and let cook about 5 minutes.

While that is cooking melt 2 tbsp of butter in a microwave safe bowl. These dinner rolls I had did not have a face, so I used a bread knife to slice them open, but not cut in half.Take  your dinner rolls and place in a skillet or pan. Pour the melted butter over all the rolls. You are welcome. Let them warm for the remaining 5 minutes.

Take out your buns and put two slices of provolone on the bottom. Take the steak mixture and place on top of the cheese. If you want mayo, now would be the time to put on the upper part of the bun. Then place two more pieces of cheese on the top of the mixture. Close the sandwich. Place the sandwich back in the buttered skillet and turn to medium, and cover with a glass lid. Let the cheese melt for about three minutes.

Tip: Be sure not to be around people when you take this off the skillet, because they may steal it. It was so good! Try this Alabama Philly sometime!



Bread Pudding



As I stared at some left over Sunbeam dinner rolls, I had an epiphany. Why not on our cheat day have possibly the best thing to cheat with? That's right-bread pudding! Moist and sweet on the inside and that little crispiness on the top, you can't go wrong with this. Also, it is insanely easy to do!

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups milk
6 Sunbeam cooked dinner rolls, broken up in pieces
2 tbsp butter

In an 8x8 pyrex dish, tear your dinner rolls in pieces about the size of your thumb. It you have really big thumbs, then about the size or a marble or a little bigger.

Mix your eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon all together with a whisk until blended well. Pour mixture over the rolls and mix together.

Take the 2 tbsp of butter and melt. Drizzle butter over the entire top of the pudding. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pudding has set.

Buttery, sweet, tasty, and wishing I had more dinner rolls to cook another batch!


Barbecue Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust




This is a variation of a recipes we found online. We are always looking for alternate ways to eat pizza without having the gluten crust. This was enjoyable; in fact, it was better than I imagined! We may make this one a regular because of its yummy factor.

3 cups sweet potatoes
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 eggs
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
pork shoulder, cooked
1/2 cup diced onion, sauteed
3 tbsp barbecue sauce
1 cup spinach
1 1/2 cups mozzarella

Take the sweet potatoes and peel and cut in cubes. Now you can either boil them or microwave them, but we roasted them to give them a fuller flavor. Cook for about 25 minutes on 400 degrees.

Take sweet potatoes and let them cool a few minutes them mash up. Mix minced garlic, Italian seasoning and eggs (make sure they have cooled some before placing) and mix well. Place sweet potato mix on a cooking sheet and form with a spoon any pizza shape you like. Make sure the surface area is as even as possible. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

I had a pork shoulder I had cooked overnight and some sauteed onions to place on the pizza. Place a small amount of barbecue sauce on the potato like a marinara for a regular pizza. Place pork on top, along with your sauteed onions. Cover with mozzarella. Place back in the 425 degree oven and bake an additional 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle more barbecue sauce on top. Top with spinach.

The pizza has a softer texture than regular pizza but the taste is great. I was afraid of too much sweetness of the barbecue sauce and the sweet potato, but the cheese and Italian seasoning cut it down. It was great!

Rutabaga Pancake with Beef, Onions, and Asparagus



I had some rutabaga in my fridge and wondered, "What should I do with this?" I finally decided on something I found to be quite delicious. I basically turned it into a pancake and put some yummy carne asada steak and onions on top with some roasted asparagus. This recipe will make about 3 servings.

1 rutabaga
9-12 asparagus spears
1 medium size onion
beef, any cut, particularly very thinly sliced-about l lb.
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Take your rutabaga and peel, and chop into small cubes. Place into a pot of 6 cups of boiling salted water and let boil on medium-high heat for about 25-30 minutes, or until the rutabaga is tender. While the rutabaga is cooking, place your asparagus in a 400 degree oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. All you need for the asparagus is a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Let the rutabaga cool for a few minutes.

While the rutabaga is cooling, season your thinly sliced met with 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp of smoked paprika, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a skillet on medium-high heat, do a flash sear to get the meat browned.Then add sliced onions and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn stove-top off and let meat sit.

With a fork or a masher begin to mash the rutabaga into a consistency like lumpy mashed potatoes. Add 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp smoked paprika, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shape into round patties, about the size of a large hamburger.

This part is optional, but I fried my rutabaga pancakes on the stove-top to get more crispy on the outside. You don't have to do this, and go ahead and plate, but I think it added a little to the dish.

Place your pancake gently on your plate, top with the meat and onion, and place your asparagus. You are done! This is good as is, or if you are adventurous sprinkle some sriracha over the top. It is great!


Breakfast Pizza



I always try to find creative ways to do breakfast, and today I found another tasty one. I use the term "pizza" because of the round shape of the tortilla when you place your items on it. It was quite yummy!

1 corn tortilla
2 egg whites
1 fried egg
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
spinach
Hollandaise sauce
sriracha

Spray both sides of tortilla with cooking spray and place in preheated 425 degree oven for 5-7 minutes or until brown and crispy.

Scramble your egg whites and place on tortilla and place mozzarella cheese.

To make your Hollandaise sauce, take 2 egg yolks (should be left over from whites) mix with 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp honey. Place in a double boiler and stir until mixture thickens. Normally its cooked on medium heat with a light simmer.

Place spinach on top of tortilla then add the fried egg. Top with the Hollandaise sauce and also some sriracha if desired.

Great breakfast!


Smoked Ribs



I try to find any occasion to give an excuse for cooking on the grill. Well, we had my parents over and I found that excuse! I love to smoke ribs, and the flavor that comes from them. Here is what I did for them:

1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
3 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Chipotle seasoning
1 tsp dried yellow mustard
Spareribs

You may be thinking, there was no salt added! I did something professionals and bloggers have told me not to do with ribs: I brined them! That's right, I did a wet brine. I took about one gallon of water, 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, one cup of kosher salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar.  I brined the ribs overnight.

When I removed the ribs I noticed the meat turned to a different grayish tint. This is normal. I rinsed them off, then I dried them off very well and added all the dry ingredients.

On a prepared smoker using a mixture of charcoal and hickory, have your temp between 185-225 degrees. This actually was achieved with little effort once you get the fire right. Smoke the ribs for 8 hours. Yes, 8 hours.

While they are cooking I had a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey and mopped it every hour or so.

What you get are very flavorful ribs, very tender, but not fall off the bone. I like ribs tender, but not so cooked that they turn to mush when you eat them.

These were great ribs. Try them and host a party. Or maybe two.

Chicken Tacos



This recipe is a easy, yet delicious dish. It as simple as using your crock-pot to cook the chicken and the oven cooking the taco shells. There is nothing like great, tasty slow-cooked chicken inside a crispy hard shell you cooked. Now there are two methods for cooking the shells. You can use the "Quick Taco Shell Maker" as seen on TV (all of that stuff works, right?) or you can simply use the racks in your oven. This recipe will account for 2  tacos, even though I made more. The measurements are approximate,so if you want to add more spices you can! Here is what I did:

2 boneless chicken thighs
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 corn tortillas

Take chicken thighs and remove skin. Place in crock-pot and add spices. Add water to bottom of crock-pot to add moisture, just enough to cover the bottom. Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours.

When chicken is ready, take the corn tortillas and spray both sides with cooking spray and cook in a 400 degree oven on your taco maker or simply hanging on your rack face down for 8-10 minutes or until it is brown and crispy.

Shred chicken and place in shells, add toppings if desired. You can put cheddar cheese, cilantro, onions, etc. Whatever floats your taco boat.

These were really good!

Homemade Bacon



Every now and then I make a discovery that brightens my day.  My wife and I had went to Sams and bought some pork butts that were relatively cheap. We decided due to the size, we would cut the butts in quarters and make 2 small roasts, and two batches of pork steaks.

As I was trimming the meat, I noticed a nice fat cap on one side. I usually remove this and discard it, but I noticed something. As I cut the cap off I actually cook a layer of the meat with it. So I ask myself the question, I wonder if I could slice it thin and make bacon? The result? You bet your bacon you can! This is what I did.

1 Boston butt
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
grill, used for smoking and hickory

Take the fat caps from the Boston butt and remove them, but leave some meat on it. Then slice long -way down the cap and slice into about 1/8 of an inch pieces.Take your kosher salt and put generously on your caps and do the same with the brown sugar. Place it in the fridge, covered, over night.

After you have seasoned it, take the bacon out and rinse it off. You can store it in the freezer for later or you can go ahead and get it ready to cook.

On a smoker grill with hickory smoke,try to regulate your grill temp to about 200 degrees. Smoke bacon for about  1 1/2 hours.

Take back and place in a oven on 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

No joke, this bacon was better than store bought! This should yield you about 10-12 pieces. Try it sometime!