Monday, April 7, 2014

Crockpot Ranch Mushrooms

If you're a mushroom fan, then this should make it to your table ASAP! 

We had some friends over for Sunday Steak Night, and I remembered this pin, courtesy of Riches to Rags, from awhile back. We also had roasted Brussels sprouts and pasta salad....but this was the star side dish! It's super easy with tons of flavor.

I scooped out the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and then drizzled some of the sauce over my steak. Oh my.

Look at that yummy sauce!!

2 packages whole button mushrooms, halved
1 stick butter, melted
1 package dry Ranch dressing mix
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Place mushrooms in the slow cooker. Mix together melted butter and Ranch dressing mix. Pour over top of mushrooms. Top with Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Cook on low for 2-4 hours. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Eating & Drinking in Nashville, Part III

Source: Dreamstime

On the recommendation from our Uber driver on Friday night, we spent Saturday night in the Germantown suburb. (Big shout out to Hoyt, a retired restaurant consultant, who not only provided the name of one of the "hot" restaurants in town, but also picked up the phone and got us a hard-to-get last-minute reservation! That's service!)

A Yelp search of the neighborhood led us to Silo, a chic bistro with another very knowledgeable (and young) bartender. More great bourbon info for Pat!

This picture pretty much sums up our trip!

We still had some time to kill before our reservation, so we walked down the street to the Germantown Cafe for a snack/appetizer.

We had the fried green tomatoes, which were served with a red bell pepper sauce and topped with a dollop of goat cheese. Delish!

Our dinner location was a few blocks away, and the walk there afforded us the opportunity to check out all of the quaint houses in the neighborhood. 

Thanks to Hoyt, we were expected and warmly greeted by the hostess at City House, which is housed in a funky building that we almost walked right past until we saw the sign.

Hoyt had insisted that we order the house-made pork belly pizza that was topped with a fried egg. My eyes would have glossed right over this on the I'm glad I had an insider tip because this pizza was AH-mazing. 

We also ordered the gnocchi with lamb ragu, chard, and pecorino cheese. The gnocchi was light and airy, and the sauce was so divine that we found ourselves running pieces of the pizza crust around the dish to get every bit. 

This was, hands down, my favorite food and dining experience of the trip! If you take only one suggestion from my three blog posts on Nashville, THIS should be the one.

When we mentioned getting a nightcap in the neighborhood, both the couple sitting next to us and our waitress heartily agreed that we should walk down to Rolf and Daughters

This place was hopping...we couldn't even manage to get a seat at the bar, so we took our drinks outside and enjoyed the mild night. The hostess made us promise to come back for dinner to have their signature squid ink pasta. 

So...for our last stop on the trip, we headed to Husk for brunch on Sunday morning. This was a name that kept coming up all weekend when we asked for recommendations. (And this is the best way to find great local spots...Pat and I are chatty and talked to everyone we sat by!)

If you don't have a reservation, I suggest getting there right when they open at 10. 

While we sipped on coffee and looked over the menu, they brought us a basket of fresh, warm Parker House rolls with the most delicious butter. Wow.

We decided to share an order of the White Lily biscuits with sausage gravy. The gravy had the perfect kick of heat/spice. It's one of the best I've ever had.

We could have/should have stopped right there...but because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, we didn't. I ordered the Monte Cristo with a fried egg and potato and smoked sausage hash. The egg is the key to this dish. When broken open, it gave this open-faced sandwich the most delicious "sauce." 

So...there you have it! Our whirlwind tour of Nashville that included hitting 12 spots during our brief time there. We hit the road back to Birmingham vowing to come back soon for more food and drink adventures in this great city!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Eating & Drinking in Nashville, Part II

Source: Dreamstime

We woke up Saturday morning and made a beeline for The Pancake Pantry, a Nashville breakfast institution. There's always a line, but it moves quickly (and there's complimentary coffee while you wait). 

I'm not much of a sweets person, and that includes I was thrilled to see this savory option: Sante Fe Cornmeal Pancakes, which was three cornmeal pancakes with bacon, Cheddar cheese, and roasted green chiles cooked inside. It's recommended with maple syrup, hot picante salsa, and sour cream. 

What a fantastic combination of flavors/ingredients! I tried it with all of the toppings, including one recommended by the waitress (honey), which turned out to be my favorite! The only issue I had was that these were a little crumbly and fell apart pretty didn't hurt the taste, though!

After breakfast, we crossed the street to BookManBookWoman, a new & used bookstore I had spotted while we were waiting in line. 

I could have easily spent hours in there...I'm a moth to a flame when it comes to bookstores. I went straight to the cookbook section. I always buy a local cookbook (preferably one from the Junior League) from every city I visit. Here was this trip's find:

I'm in a great group of girlfriends, and we call ourselves the this seemed completely appropriate! 

Speaking of the 'Cluckers, several of them had sent me up to Nashville with a wish list from Trader Joe's (we don't have one in Birmingham), so we headed over to grocery shop.  This was my first visit, and I was in HEAVEN! 

Pat had heard about an area of town called The Gulch, so we went to check it out. It's a very neat urban area with condos, offices, shops, and restaurants. It was the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, so we stopped in for a green beer at The Pub

It was an unusually warm day for March, so we were able to sit on the patio and people watch, as revelers started showing up in their SPD attire.

At that point, we were starting to get hungry again (time to move on to another spot!), so we walked across the street to Bar Louie and snagged the last table on their crowded patio.

I got the Short Rib Sliders, which had asiago and swiss cheeses, spinach, balsamic onions, mushrooms, and a smokey horseradish sauce. The meat was incredibly tender, and all of the accompaniments added so many levels of flavor. YUM!

Stay more more post to go, as I recap Saturday night and Sunday brunch!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eating & Drinking in Nashville, Part I

Source: Dreamstime

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend had a weekday work conference in Nashville, and we decided that I'd drive up and we'd make a weekend out of it. We packed in so much from 5 p.m. on Friday to noon on Sunday! I'm sharing all of our spots, broken up over three posts. 

Our basic philosophy was that we weren't going to spend an entire night at just one location...we visited different places for pre-dinner drink, dinner, and post-dinner drink. It was a great way to see and experience as much as possible in a short period of time!

At the top of his wish list was The Patterson House, which has been named one of the top 55 bourbon bars in the country. We had some time to kill before it opened (it's a small space, and it fills up quickly, so get there early), so we headed down the street to The Red Door Saloon, a college bar on the edge of Vanderbilt's campus. 

We ordered two pints...and four appeared before us (Happy Hour is two-for-one)...with a whopping total price of $7.50. (We still talk about this. What a deal.)

Love the penny-topped bar!

I can't resist posting a picture of the mirror in the ladies can just make out the sunglasses on top of my head. Apparently, it's a strategic placement to keep girls from lingering and causing a line. Hilarious!

 Back down the street we went...and talk about going from one extreme to the other!

The Patterson House is a gorgeous and intimate space, with bookshelf-lined walls, an expansive bar, and cozy tables. I'm not a bourbon person, so I had a glass of wine. Pat had a delicious (I sampled!) concoction of Belle Meade bourbon, pineapple syrup, and bitters.

We then headed to East Nashville, an eclectic and historic part of town that we fell in love with. It's an area described as being in the midst of a renaissance. 

While we waited on our table for dinner at The Silly Goose to be ready, we went next door to Two Ten Jack, a new Japanese-inspired pub (that is already incredibly was packed!). I want to go back and have the Nashville Roll, which is made with catfish, tartar sauce, pickled okra and cornbread. Wow!

Back to The Silly Goose...

How cute is the bandanna-wrapped silverware and clipboard for menu?

We started with The Claw, which was grilled wild gulf shrimp, applewood bacon jam, lemon, tuscan bread, fennel pollen, parsley. Light and delicious!

For dinner, I had the Darth Vapor, which consisted of porcini crusted black grouper, lemongrass broth, carmelized parsnips, brussel sprouts, shitakes, cauliflower, cashews, and cilantro rouille. Get out of in my mouth! I particularly loved the nuts on top. This was out of this world!

For a nightcap, we headed over to Holland House Bar & Refuge, another spot named on the best bourbon bars list. 

We were initially disappointed to be led to the "back bar," but this turned out to be the best place to be! We had a very knowledgeable (and young!) bartender, who gave Pat plenty of great bourbon advice. One of the waiters from the neighboring restaurant Pharmacy (a stop next time) was working his way through the menu, and it looked delicious. (And that speaks volumes. I love knowing where restaurant people eat...always a good recommendation!)

We finished off the night with a few songs at The Big Bang dueling piano bar on Broadway! I can't ever pass these establishments up...and we had to hear some music in the Music City!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Roasted Balsamic Asparagus & Tomatoes with Feta

Now that we're (finally) getting some sporadic springtime weather, my boyfriend and I decided to start having Sunday Steak Night. As the grillmaster, he's in charge of the meat, and I'm in charge of the side(s). 

I saw this idea over at For the Love of Cooking, and I knew it would make a great accompaniment to the filets (that he wrapped with bacon) we had on hand. It called for cooking it on the stovetop...but I decided I'd rather be chilling on the porch with a glass of wine than babysitting the side dish. Luckily, Pam also had a roasted version (minus the feta) further back on her blog, so I basically combined the two ideas.

After roasting and tossing in the dressing, I added some of the feta directly to the mix so it could soak up some of the flavor...and then I also topped each serving with additional feta. 

This had such a bright, clean, and fresh flavor...perfect for spring! Feel free to dip some bread directly in the dish to sop up all of the balsamic goodness!

Printable recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into thirds
1 container cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and pepper

Feta cheese to taste

In a 9x13 baking dish, toss asparagus and tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 300 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Mix together dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables after roasting. Top with feta.