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Restaurant Review...Rock N' Roll Sushi




I took my wife for a Valentine's outing and we decided to try something new. I had heard good things about Rock N' Roll sushi. Us being the sushi nerds we are, and the interesting concept of the names of the sushi being named for rock stars, we tried it. How was it? Great. Here is a short breakdown of everything:


1. Concept: This is a really cool idea. Who are the ad wizards that came up with this one? Sure, it appeals to a certain niche, but its a rather large one. As I noticed on their menu, they carefully named the rolls after rock stars that would reach a broad audience. Sorry folks, there is no Air Supply on here.

2 Atmosphere: You will realize quickly that this is a college town hangout. Yes, it is right there around the University of Alabama. So what you expect to see is college students. Howbeit the atmosphere of the restaurant is exactly what they want it to be. You have rock playing over the speakers, flat screen TVs going on the walls, and rock decor everywhere:


Looks like he is going to "slash" here in a minute.



Here is a monkey.

Menus.

One of the coolest parts of the restaurant was the menus. The menus are actually album covers! My wife had Michael Jackson and I had Queen, but my picture was not clear.

3. The service: The service was good. We had a waitress that verified our choices as being beautiful and yummy. They even had a deal when you sign up for a text club we got 10% off our order. That was sweet.

4. The food: The food was on point! There was not one thing we had that wasn't tasty.


Crab/Cream Cheese Wontons.

Beef Tataki: Thinly sliced filet mignon with 3 different chef sauces. Yum!

Four different rolls from left to right:Japanese Bagel, Tommy Lee, (top) Spicy Tuna, Guns N' Roses

Overall: This was a great dining experience. Not a wine and dine romance place, but it is exactly what you would expect. With cool concept, good atmosphere, and excellent food, we will be coming back again.




Philly Cheese Chicken Stuffed Peppers



This recipe is a simple one. However, it is also very tasty!

1 large bell pepper halved
2 chicken tenderloins, cooked and cubed
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 of a large yellow onion
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil

In a cast iron skillet, place about 1/2 tbsp vegetable and turn on medium heat. Sear the bell pepper halves on both sides.  Cook them for about 5 minutes per side, just enough to begin breaking the pepper down.

Remove your peppers off the heat and let them cool. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Dice your onion and saute in your same skillet until they begin to caramelize. 

Evenly place chicken in both halves of the bottom of the peppers. Stack the sauteed onions on top of the chicken and then evenly place the cheese. Stack in this order twice until the cheese should be on the top.

Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown. 

It was great!

Review...Flourless Peanut Butter Mug Cake




Link to recipe:


I decided to be adventurous and try the three ingredient, no flour, peanut butter mug cake for dessert tonight. We had tried this recipe before and it didn't turn out as well, but I wanted to try this again with another method.  This is the recipe:

3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp sugar plus one tsp sugar
1 large egg

At this point I took the egg and divided the yolks from the whites. I whisked the whites until peaks started to form and added the sugar.  At that point I mixed the yolk with the peanut butter and mixed well. I added the whites to the peanut butter mixture and mixed until all was incorporated and smooth. I placed the mixture in a microwave safe mug and microwaved for one minute.

The result? Drumroll!

It was actually very good! If you are having a sweet craving and need something not "quite" as bad as other desserts, try this! However, as I was eating it, I was thinking how good it would be with a scoop of ice cream with chocolate syrup on top. Well, that kind of defeats the purpose...but anyway! Try this dessert out. I recommend it.

Homemade Turkey Stock


We try to do many things around the house foodwise ourselves. The reason is we know exactly what is in our food when we prepare it. When we have turkey, bone in chicken,  or a whole chicken, we do a little happy dance because we are going to make broth or stock with it. We were given a turkey around Thanksgiving, and it was the same turkey I did the brine recipe with. So here is what you will need:

Roasting pan with adjustable heat setting or crock-pot
Carcass of a turkey-backbone, leg bone, etc.
1 gallon water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves
one whole onion
3 stalks of celery
1 cup carrots
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (pulls marrow from bones)
1 sieve drainer


Place your carcass, water, and vegetables in roasting pan. Turn on roaster to 225 degrees. Place all your spices and mix well. Add your apple cider vinegar. Put top on roaster and cook for a very long time.



This was around 4 hours

This was probably around 8 hours

24 hours

I let the stock cook for exactly 24 hours. Let the stock cool for a few minutes Take your sieve and drain all the bones and vegetables. You may have to run liquid through twice to catch excess fat.


When the mixture was cool we placed 2 cups in a quart size freezer zip plastic bag. This made about 8 bags or so.

This broth is great! We use it in so many dishes. 

Sriracha Grilled Cheese



Do you want to "spice" up your grilled cheese? Here is a good way to do it.

2 pieces of wheat bread
1/2 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp mayo
1/2 tsp sriracha (YES!)

Brown your bead in a skillet with butter. At this point lightly brown it, don't over cook at this stage. About 2 minutes per side on medium heat.

Take  your sriracha and mayo and mix together in a small bowl. spread on one side of each piece of bread. Lay one piece of bread with mixture facing up. Place the cheese, then the other piece of bread.  Cook on medium low on both sides until nicely brown or cheese has melted through. Excellent!



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Molten Lava Cake


Finishing up our Valentines dinner was a dessert so good, you wish that you could have two more. Gluttony aside, this desert was one of the greatest I've cooked, and I'm not a great dessert cook. When looking at the ingredient list, and seeing how its cooked, I'm surprised I haven't cooked this dessert more often. Here is what you will need:

3/4 cup nestle dark chocolate (53% cacao)
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup flour

In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate.


Whisk sugar and eggs together.  When thoroughly whisked, add flour and whisk  well.



Add egg mixture to melted chocolate and fold together. 
Take 4 small ramekins and grease well. Evenly place the mixture in each ramekin, almost to the top.

Place each ramekin in a 13x9 baking dish. Pour one quart of water in baking dish, covering 3/4 of ramekin.

Bake at 390 degrees for 18 minutes or until top has set.








Immediately place vanilla ice cream on top. In this instance drizzle caramel and sprinkle with  coarse salt.


Enjoy this! It was a wonderful Valentine treat!

Printable recipe here.

Breadless Buns


I found this creation on a website called A Seat At My Table. You can visit their site here. How amazing would it be if you could have a great tasting burger without a bun? Well, now you can, with this lovely recipe. These "buns" are so light and airy and go very well for anything you would use bread for.  Let's first go through what you will need:

8 eggs, divided into whites and yolks
1 block of low-fat cream cheese


Note: Please let your cream cheese warm to room temperature. I did not and thought I would use my super powers to mix the cold cream cheese and the egg yolk seamlessly. That was not the case, however and a couple of my clouds had some lumps.

Mix your room temperature cream cheese and egg yolks together well.


Whisk or use an electric blender to blend whites until soft peeks form.




Gently fold whites into cream cheese and yolk mixture. 
Spoon mixture on baking pan lined with parchment paper. Make them the size you want.

Bake them in a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.



These "buns" are so versatile they can be used for almost anything. I made a turkey burger and used them. It was fantastic! Gluten free and low carb friends will love it!

Printable recipe here.


Braised Pork Steaks

This was an experiment I tried and didn't know if it turn out well or not.  Our family went on our monthly trip to Sam's to get groceries and I found a good deal.  They had two large boston butts on sale for $20. That's like $10 per butt! So when we got home I took one of the butts and cut it in fourths. I took two of them and made pork steaks with them.


Looking at the pork steaks I wasn't sure of the tenderness. So I thought to myself, "How would I be able to cook these and make them tender?" Well, I found a way, and it was tender and delicious. In fact, it was some of the best pork steaks I have ever had. So here is what I did:

 4 pork steaks about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth(we made our own)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cornstarch

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic power on both sides of the steaks. Sear the pork steaks on each side, four minutes per side. Make sure they have a good brown crust on each side.

In a separate boiler warm chicken broth on medium heat. Add cumin, mustard cayenne and cornstarch. Pour liquid into cast iron skillet.

Place skillet into a preheated 375 degree oven. Let it cook for one hour.

When I pulled these out they were so moist and tender. The broth turned into almost a thick gravy that was delicious over the top of the pork steak. It was a delightful experience.

So, if you have a piece of pork meat that you think might be tough, try this! It was great. I'm definitely doing this again!

Download or print recipe here.

Stacked Eggs and Corn Tortillas


This recipe is one of great flavors combined to made a delicious breakfast dish. It happens to be a simple one as well. 

2 small corn tortillas
2 eggs
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup bell and red pepper, diced and mixed
1/3 of a cup of mozzarella cheese
1 tsp Greek yogurt
Non-stick spray

Take your non-stick spray and spray lightly both sides of the tortilla.  Cook tortillas in a preheated 425 degree oven until golden brown and crispy. I recommend flipping them once during cooking. This will normally take between 5 to 7 minutes.

Saute your vegetables in a pan with non cook spray on medium heat. Cook until tender. About 7 minutes.

Fry your eggs over easy. Lay a layer of the sauteed vegetables on top on one tortilla. Add 1/2 of the cheese. Place fried egg on top of the cheese. Repeat the steps again with tortillas, veggies, cheese, and egg. Place Greek yogurt on top of egg. Sprinkle sriracha over the top.


It was delicious!

Daddy-Daughter Date-Kelly's Story

As Valentine's day approaches, I try to not only do something special for my wife, but I like to do something special for our 17 year old adopted daughter, Kelly, as well.

Us as we embark on Daddy-Daughter date.



Kelly's story is a story of being blessed.  Now this not a story of how Kelly has been blessed since she has come to live with us.  It is Kelly that has been the blessing to us, and to people all over the state of Alabama.

Kelly was raised in a small town in Alabama in a place that had no running water, no regular toilets, and no proper shelter. Her "houses" were rental storage sheds. She mentioned one time to us that she was in charge of  "the bucket". I didn't realize what that meant until she explained it was her job to take the "waste" bucket to the woods and dump it out. 

Kelly is also intellectually disabled.  She physically has no disabilities, but intellectually struggles to comprehend and retain information.  

She needed to be taught how to bathe, how to wash her hair, how to eat healthy and eat veggies. With the help of great special education teachers, we worked on teaching her strategies to help her in areas she struggled.  We tried to help her socially by getting her involved in social clubs at school and church. 

In all of this, she was a sweet 12 year old girl (at the time), and was willing to do anything to please you. She did it with a smile on her face. Everyone around Kelly loves her.
Let's Roll!


My wife and I decided to become foster and adoptive parents before we even got married.  So after we were married we went through the process in the Department of Human Resources to become foster and adoptive parents. And for a year and a half, the paperwork for us seemed to never come through. So we had basically decided to give up being foster parents. Until one day, we received a call from DHR and said they had a child they thought would be a good fit. So we expedited the paperwork and finally got licensed. Little did we know that the little girl that was a good fit would be Kelly. She was our first foster child. 

We go to her favorite place, Cracker Barrel.
We had Kelly for over three years as a foster child. There were a few times we thought we were going to lose her. After three years of waiting, the parental rights were severed and there were no family members that were able to adopt her.  We had the option to adopt her, because we took the foster and adoptive classes.

This is a song that never ends for us.

Finally the day come where we adopted Kelly. She was 16 years old and was a part of our family from the first day she came through our door.  She wanted to change her last name to ours, and she has been with us since. It has even been said she favors us!


Kelly getting her favorite breakfast.
Some people have said we gave her a better life.  I believe that the lives that have been made better and blessed the most are ours and the ones she has come in contact with.  People, from all over the state, know and love Kelly. She has taught me how to be a father, learn patience, and how to give an evil eye to boys. Our lives are changed forever because of her, because she is now a part of our forever family!

She wanted some Tutti Frutti for dessert.

What is next for us? Kelly said to us not long after we adopted her, "Now I want a little brother". We are planning over the next two years of adopting internationally from China.  We are hoping and praying we can get the process started soon.

Kung-Fu Panda 3 in the dark!



So there is a little detail on Kelly. This barely scratches the surface of the things we have experienced as a family. It seems that God put everything together for us to be together. And for that, we are thankful.


 She is actually the second adoption for us. We can leave out the other girl...

Molly. Don't forget Molly!


Oh, and what did I have at Cracker Barrel? French toast with eggs over easy!














Rosemary Steak


Ingredients:

  • 1 package flank steak, cut in three small steaks
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary

Who doesn't love a good cooked steak? I love steak about any way you can cook them. However, sometimes there are cuts of steak that are a little less desirable that others. In the case of our family being on a tight budget, and eating healthier, we have to go with the less desirable. So even though the cut of meat was not as good as a ribeye, this came out very tender and flavorful. I think it was because of two reasons.One: the method how it was cooked, and two: NOT overcooking the steak. So here is what I did:



  • With any steak, take the steaks out and let them sit at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes. As you set them out to warm, sprinkle both sides with kosher salt. You can be liberal with the kosher salt, as long as you use kosher, not table salt.
  • Take a cast iron skillet and turn the stove on medium high. Let the pan get really hot. Add a small amount of olive oil, about a tsp,  The oil will be begin to smoke, so put your steaks on quickly. Sear on both sides of the steak for two minutes.
  • Take the steaks and put into a preheated 350 degree oven. When the steaks are placed in the oven and the door is shut, turn the oven OFF. Let the steaks set in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Take steak out of oven and slice. Plate, eat, and enjoy! This piece of meat was very flavorful, moist, and not tough at all! Please enjoy.

    Get printable recipe here!

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    Lasagna Zucchini Rolls


    As we continue our Extreme Makeover lifestyle change thanks to Chris and Heidi, we find recipes that are actually good, along with being low carbohydrates and good for you. I have to admit, I wasn't so sure about this recipe before I tried it. After trying it, I was pleasantly surprised of the visual and palatable qualities it possessed. This may become a regular.  I have tweaked the recipe to make it  more to my tastes, so add any spices you feel may go well with the ingredients.  So this is what I did:

    Five ounces ground turkey
    One tbsp minced yellow onion
    One tbsp minced garlic
    1/2 cup spaghetti sauce(low sodium)
    2 tsp Italian Seasoning
    One teaspoon agave nectar
    1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
    One medium size zucchini

    Take zucchini and cut both ends off. Using a mandolin cutter on level three, cut the zucchini long ways to create thin strips. These should be less than a 1/4 of an inch. 

    In a boiler, bring six cups of water to a simmer. Place zucchini in water and simmer for five minutes. Have a bowl with cold ice water ready and place zucchini in ice water to halt cooking process. Once they are cooled they should be tender and flexible. You will know if you overcooked or under-cooked. One will be mush and the other will be hard and not flexible. Once cooled, drain and set to the side.

    In a fry pan  add 1 tsp olive oil and cook onions and garlic on medium heat. After about thee minutes add the turkey and cook thoroughly. 

    Add spaghetti sauce, agave, and Italian seasonings. Turn off  and remove from heat. 

    Take a small spoon and cover  one side of the flat zucchini. Not too much or it will not roll up. I would say about three tsp. Gently roll the zucchini away from you and tuck under itself after each turn. It should roll into a sushi style roll. Place on a greased baking pan. 

    Sprinkle each roll evenly with mozzarella. Broil in over for three minutes or until the cheese has melted and is brown. 





    Very tasty! Try this. It is pretty and tastes good!






    Barbecue Chicken Salad



    We are continuing to try the recipes found in Chris and Heidi Powell's "Extreme Transformation" book and today we tried barbecue chicken salad. It was a very tasty meal with only a few tweaks. Instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, we used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Here is what we did (this recipe made three bowls) :

    Three boneless, skinless chicken thighs cooked
    Three tbsp low-sodium barbecue sauce
    Four cups romaine lettuce, chopped
    3/4 cup black beans
    3/4 cup fresh corn
    1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
    One tbsp ranch dressing mix
    One tsp lime juice
    Cilantro
    Three extra tbsp barbecue sauce

    Cut up cooked pieces of chicken thighs and  mix with three tbsp barbecue sauce. Build your lettuce, beans, corn, and chicken.

    Mix Greek yogurt, ranch dressing mix, lime juice together. Spoon one tbsp on top of each bowl, Add more barbecue sauce if needed. Top with cilantro.

    The chicken thighs were very good in this dish! Try it for a good lunch one day.