Archive for the tag “clemson”

Tailgating Together: Welcome, Louisville. The ACC, and Clemson in particular, welcomes you!

While not a true “She Ordered What?” experience, I did have some terrific tailgate food on my trip to Clemson last weekend! But, let’s face it, I just want to take a little time to boast on my weekend in Clemson and show my pride for my Alma Mater!

For my first Clemson game of the season, my friends and I decided to join up for “family weekend” when the Louisville Cardinals visited Death Valley for the first time as ACC foes.

I want to commend the Cards fans for showing up in spades for the game.  There were a lot of red jerseys, shirts, etc, and a lot of Cardinals pride on campus last weekend.  We had some Cards fans in the lot in which we tailgated, and they were as lovely as Clemson fans are notoriously known to be!  Gracious and polite folks.

Speaking of gracious and polite, here is a photo of my friend and game weekend hostess, Cindy.

Pink Twins!

Pink Twins!

 

I took this shot on Friday night at my friends’ Cindy and Alan’s house.  We were preparing some of the fixin’s for the next day.

 

BBQ and bourbon!  It's how tailgating is done in the south.

BBQ and bourbon! It’s how tailgating is done in the south.

 

I had offered up over Twitter to cook while Cindy led her “Gypsy Life” (commuting between Hilton Head (the job) and Spartanburg (the house and hubby)) and Alan recovered from preparing a home to sell.  Our friend Dennis offered to pick up steaks to grill – and, a plan was hatched!  Until, I bailed on my end.  (sort of)

After Alan graciously picked me up at the airport, he and I stopped at the market on the way back to the house. I bought some pre-made salad (weak!), green beans (which we forgot to make!), Golden Delicious apples for my “favorite snack recipe“, baked potatoes, and a couple of other treats for the weekend (hello – jalapeno artichoke dip!!!).

Dennis had already arrived at the house by the time Alan and I were heading back.  When we got back, it was quickly decided that more booze just might be required – namely bourbon. Dennis is a bourbon aficionado (aka: polite snob), so I was happy to send the men to the liquor store while I took a nap!  And, they did well!  Woodford Reserve found its way back to the counter.

Our steak dinner on Friday night was fantastic!  I was so wrapped up in enjoying time with my friends that I didn’t take any pictures – but, trust me, it was delicious!

And, on Saturday, we had a great time, beginning at ~8AM (may or may not have been a bit later than planned (read: was later than planned, but I will not publicly disclose why)).  Our tailgate spot consisted of a tent, some chairs, a couple of tables, loads of food, and one really relaxed “Southern Gent”…

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

As evidenced above, Cindy had ensured we had Southern style pulled pork, brisket and Calabash chicken, which we shared with our tailgate neighbors.  SO GOOD!!  We also had a plethora of side dishes and snacks (again, I was remiss in taking photographs).

Then, came game time… My favorite college roommate, Bill, came by our tailgate area and offered up tickets to the West End Zone Club (catered suites with a private bar (which, after that game, I OWE HIM!!)).

 

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

West Zone Club

West Zone Club

 

In response to comments from Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, Clemson fans were “#ClemsonLOUD” from start to finish.  The atmosphere was incredible, as Clemson always is!

Pregame festivities.

Pregame festivities.

Though there were certainly some negatives to the day (losing our QB1 for several weeks, botched plays, etc), the positives far outweighed those negatives, and ultimately, the Tigers pulled off the win!  And, I would find myself without a voice for two days following that game!

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw - a Clemson post-game ritual.

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw – a Clemson post-game ritual.

Win or lose, Clemson fans have a tradition of “Gathering at the Paw” to sing the Alma Mater and show our Clemson pride!

Another wonderful weekend of fun, friends, and football in the books!  And, to those friends with whom I wasn’t able to meet up, hopefully in November!

Cheers!

Ker

My Favorite Dining Experiences of 2013…

I wrote about my favorite experiences of 2012 last year, and it has been fun to go back and revisit some of them periodically.  So…I thought I’d make another list for 2013 – the first full year of “She Ordered What?”.

First, let me say that 2013 has been a fantastic year!  I left a job that, to put it nicely, was un-fulfilling, moved to Milwaukee (a city that I am LOVING!), am working for a supervisor I respect – and like, and have coworkers I enjoy (so much so that we opted to spend time together after the holiday party this year).  I am living in downtown Milwaukee, and am thoroughly enjoying metropolitan living (as are my (now 13-year-old) dogs!). I am also traveling a bit more again, allowing for some interesting dining experiences.  For me, change has been very good!

So…I started compiling my top 5 choices of 2013, but the list quickly grew beyond five.  I’ll list my “top 5” and a few honorable mentions – which provided great memories with a bunch of friends and colleagues.

5) Melt Bar and Grilled: This is a bit of a cheat, as I actually posted this on December 28, 2012.  However, I think Melt deserves a mention since the sandwich was so very good!  Full of carbs and comfort, the “Mom’s Meatloaf” grilled cheese was excellent, and very filling!  I did end up having the second half of the sandwich for lunch the next day – and I ate it cold.  It was really delicious as a cold leftover!  I’d also like to thank Melt Bar and Grilled for posting a link to my blog on their website.  I really appreciate the additional traffic!  I’m looking forward to hitting up Melt when I make it back to Ohio next year.

Melt

4) AJ Bombers:  As I mentioned, I had been following AJ Bombers on Twitter ever since I read about their social media program a couple of years ago.  So…when I moved to Milwaukee, I was really excited to walk over and check the place out in person.  After all, the place promises “Happiness, with a side of burgers”.  Not only is the food far better than your average bar food (let’s face it, it’s NOT healthy!), but the Bloody Mary drinks are the best in town – I don’t care what WISN readers say!  Finally, the service is always outstanding – though I tend to favor being a customer of this girl.  😉

AJB

3) Braise: I was introduced to Braise through a local food blogger, Phi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dining experience with her and another food blogger, Shanon.  The atmosphere is so cool.  This used to be a bowling alley, and the owners repurposed a lot of the old elements to create a unique and inviting space.  But, the food…is SO good!  The menu is changed up regularly to incorporate the best ingredients, and it’s not an overwhelmingly large menu so one doesn’t have to feel pressure to sift through pages of options, hoping to make the right decision.  I’ve been to Braise several times now, and in my opinion, any decision is a good one!  Also, Braise just opened a second floor bar/lounge area.  I’ll need to check that out!

Braise

2) Bacon Bros. Public House: Another locally sourced restaurant makes the list!  I have Yelp! to thank for introducing my friends and me to this hidden gem.   While visiting South Carolina to see my Clemson Tigers beat Boston College, we stumbled upon Bacon BrosThe food:  the meat is locally sourced, and spectacular, and the side dishes have a definite southern flair to them, but with a new twist.  The service was fantastic.  And, their motto is “Powered by Bacon”!  What’s not to love about this place?

BaconBros

and…the top “She Ordered What?” dining experience of 2013 was…

1) The Publican:  The fact that I drove ~90 miles each way to and from Chicago on a Tuesday night (in traffic and weather) could not even put a damper on this meal!  Our server, whom I mentioned a few times in the post, was very good – and he was totally on board to surprise us that evening.  The food was expertly prepared.  Again, The Publican is a restaurant that sources its ingredients locally – must love that!  All in all, the atmosphere, the service, the food, and the company (Chanda!) were top-notch.  I loved this place that is off the beaten path, so to speak, but may be home to the best meal I’ve had in Chicago (and I’ve had some REALLY good meals there!).  I highly recommend The Publican if you’re looking for an excellent dining experience.  The menu changes up frequently here as well, but here is the selection from which we had to choose.

Publican

Honorable mentions:

I kicked the year off by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in Detroit.  I was able to meet some of her other wonderful friends, and we just had a fantastic time enjoying a city that tends to be “off-limits” after work or late at night. Detroit does indeed have some safe and fun spots to enjoy “after hours”.

I also enjoyed celebrating my own birthday with friends – in Massachusetts.  My friends gave me a perfectly balanced weekend.  We had fun “out on the town”, enjoyed chilling at home, oh, and we ran a 10K in the middle of it all!  I’m looking forward to seeing this crazy crew when we meet up for our other friends’ wedding in Memphis this February.

Finally, categorize this under the “last, but not least” header… I had some fun times traveling with my new coworkers this year.  We had some really fruitful business trips, but always seemed to sneak in a good meal or two! There was the “first meal in Nola”, the “marathon trip”,  the “French food in Montreal”, the “mussels in Brussels”, and the “pork in Paris”.  We’ve had other dining adventures, but not all warrant a “She Ordered What?” post.

I will say this, I’m grateful for the way my colleagues have embraced me, and I find it refreshing to enjoy having a meal and/or a drink (or two!) with my coworkers. It certainly makes work more enjoyable!

“She Ordered What?”: 2013 by the numbers:

I wrote 22 posts to contribute to the overall number of 83 posts. The readers and I have posted 221 comments to the blog.  There are over 1,800 “She Ordered What?” followers who viewed the blog almost 17,000 times.  And, from all over the world…83 countries, actually (led by the US, Canada and Singapore)!

SOWmap

Thank you again for your support and readership.  As I mentioned last year, if you would like to write a guest post, please let me know.  I enjoy sharing others’ experiences as well!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014!

Cheers!

Ker

“Powered by Bacon” – Bacon Bros. Public House, Greenville, SC

It’s taken me a week to write this post, and it’s a shame, because this meal was one of the most wonderful surprises I’ve had in a long time! I was back in South Carolina to visit with friends and to see my Clemson Tigers win their sixth game of the season, and we decided to grab lunch in Greenville after I landed at GSP! It was my choice – uh oh! So, I turned directly to the Yelp! app on my iPhone.

I scrolled through the list a bit, and one name stuck out to me – Bacon Bros. Public House. I’m not going to lie…it stuck out because so many of my friends, and in particular the guys I was to be meeting up with the next day, are bacon fanatics! (hashtag #BACON)

I knew that the restaurant’s name alone would inflict a little pang of jealousy! Aside from that, this fairly new establishment averaged 4.5 stars and had some very positive reviews. My friend Cindy, who was my hostess, taxi driver, and friend extraordinaire, was all in for Bacon Bros., so we headed in that direction. We were meeting up with our friend Greg for lunch on Friday since we weren’t sure if we’d be able to meet up at our tailgate the next day (Greg is a reporter for Clemson and has a pesky job that gets in the way of tailgate fun). 😉

We found Bacon Bros. Public House in a small strip mall. We would soon discover that this is a hidden gem on Pelham Road!

2013-10-11 11.53.05-1

We waited for a few minutes for an outside table, and for Greg to arrive. As we waited, I was able to check out a bit of the restaurant’s atmosphere. The meat locker immediately caught my eye.

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

It was nice to be able to see the (locally sourced!) pork, beef, etc that would be served up. Not that I’m generally suspicious of restaurants, but transparency like that really inspires confidence in my mind.

I’d also like to give shout-out to the beautiful sink in the ladies’ room. I didn’t take a picture, but it was a very nice sink/faucet.

When we sat down, we were warmly greeted by a gentleman who poured us water. His voice was so calm and sweet that I found myself (somewhat jokingly) asking him to sit down and join us! He politely declined, since he was at work, but he clearly had a good sense of humor about it.

We were then greeted by yet another gentleman (hey, this is the south, y’all!) who “threatened” to sit down and join Cindy and me if Greg didn’t show up soon. Greg did show up just moments later.

In the meantime, at my request, a third gentleman, in the form of our server, Tanner, chose a red beer for me. From start to finish, Tanner proved to be a really engaging and attentive server. He added to the overall experience in a very positive way.

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

He then chose my lunch. Tanner was very cool about the whole process – not a single flinch. It was clear that he and the other gentlemen that work at Bacon Bros. not only know the menu well, but are confident in the food that’s being served.

Tanner chose what he called the sandwich that “is becoming our signature sandwich” – the B.E.T., with a side of Farro Verde.

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

Y’all, this sandwich…maybe it should be called the O.M.G. instead of the B.E.T.! The sandwich consisted of pork belly pastrami, Swiss cheese, fried duck egg, green peppercorn mayo, arugula, and yellow tomato. A fantastic combination – and expertly prepared! Note: the sandwich can get a little messy due to the runny egg yolk, but it’s worth a little finger licking to clean up!

Image (3)

A close up of the B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The side is definitely not one I would have picked out on my own since it’s centered around boiled peanuts – a snack I never really developed a taste for when I lived in SC. I’m here to tell you that when boiled peanuts are mixed with field peas, tomatoes, and hominy, they are DELICIOUS!

Cindy and Greg were more than happy with their respective choices as well. Cindy chose a burger and onion rings (perfectly battered), and Greg chose the Pulled Pork Shoulder (served with waffles that have country ham in the batter!).

And, I couldn’t resist taking a piece (or two – Bacon Bros. recently increased their dessert portions – the one thing about this restaurant that I would change – revert back to smaller servings of sweets) of Orange Dreamsicle pound cake home.

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

I didn’t end up eating the pound cake until Sunday, and by then it was more dry than I would have liked. However, the flavor was very good – not too overwhelming with the citrus, but light and tasty.

So, in addition to being amongst great company, Bacon Bros. Public House offered fantastic service, a unique and comfortable atmosphere, and spectacular Southern style food. We all agreed that it’s a place to go back and visit.

Note to self: next time, I’m going to get one of those “Powered By Bacon” t-shirts! I should have picked one up last weekend.

And, through Twitter, I learned that my colleagues in the Greenville area had also recently discovered Bacon Bros. and frequently visit for lunch. They had been holding out on me!!!

Because this trip was planned around meeting up with good friends to see my Clemson Tigers play, here are a couple of pictures from campus.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

It was a wonderful weekend – as time in South Carolina always is! If you’re in the Greenville area, I highly suggest finding time to make it to Bacon Bros. Public House. Have you been? What was your favorite Southern style dish?

Cheers!

Ker

A Girls’ Weekend that Always Centers Around the Guys…

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to travel to Greenville/Spartanburg to meet up with some of my favorite ladies (and men) for our annual trek to Dabo Swinney’s Ladies’ Football Clinic. Y’all, this is not a “tell me what 3rd down means” football clinic. This is a gathering of 1000+ women with pretty high football IQs (well, most of them know the sport!). The coaching staff is generally quite impressed with the passion for: coaches, players, hometown heroes, and the sport, as well as the knowledge demonstrated through the intelligent questions being asked.

They are equally (okay, probably more so) entertained by the giddy “teenage girliness” that is evident in every session of the “locker room visit”. Some of the women are downright inappropriate (I’m nodding your way – woman who shoved dollar bills in Adam Humphries waistband – with a phone number on one! Incidentally, the money was PROMPTLY returned so as not to violate any NCAA regulations!)

photo (19)

CW from upper left: Kathleen Swinney and Ali Rogers, Kesley and me, 2013 “All In” token, and Mama Watkins (left), me, and Mama Boyd – all very lovely ladies!

CW from Upper Left: Adam Humphries, Daniel Rodriguez, Zac Brooks, Daniel Stone, a whole mess of gigantic football players - and me!

CW from Upper Left: Adam Humphries, Daniel Rodriguez, Zac Brooks, Daniel Stone, a whole mess of gigantic football players – and me!

The Ladies’ Clinic is a fundraiser (in its fifth year with Dabo, and twelfth year overall (I believe)) to raise money toward breast cancer research. That’s a cause near and dear to my heart, as well as to the Swinney family. 25% of the registration fee goes toward research (and is matched by Dabo’s All-In Team Foundation) and tens of thousands of dollars are raised through silent and live auction items such as a ride-along with the team from the hotel to the game, participation in Tiger Walk, and tickets to the game ($21,000 total for 3 pairs – one donated by Coach Swinney to match the other two fan purchases), signed jerseys (Nuk Hopkins, anyone?), personally signed helmets (2 x $1,400), and many more. It was a fantastic day – as always!

But, alas…this blog is about adventures in dining – and friends – I had some!

After spending some time in my company’s Greenville manufacturing facility on Thursday, my “second family” and I went to R.J. Rockers for the Thursday night tasting tradition. I’m actually not a big beer drinker, but we always feel the need to get a “double-fisted Ker” shot – for posterity’s sake, I guess. (note: it was HOT and MUGGY that night…not a pretty sight for the chick w/ blown out naturally curly hair!)

My American Red Glare on my right, and Cindy's Strawberry Wheat on my left.

My American Red Glare on my right, and Cindy’s Strawberry Wheat on my left.

We then headed down the street to Wild Ace in downtown Spartanburg – with a small group of friends who gathered at Rockers. I quickly made friends with the bartender while we were waiting on the rest of the group to arrive. It’s what I do. 🙂

As a result, he was kind enough to come upstairs and take care of everyone’s drink orders while we were acquainting ourselves with the menu. Wild Ace offers a lot, so I quickly gave up. I turned my fate over to our server, Devin. He started to ask a few questions, but I simply gave him the “talk to the hand” gesture – along with an encouraging smile.

When I was served my meal, I was informed that I was receiving the “Sopwith Camel” (aka: Wild Ace version of the French Dip). The sandwich was fine. I wouldn’t say it was any better or any worse than any other French Dip I have had, but it was good. It was served with chips, which were actually quite tasty (maybe because I had already had the equivalent of three beers at that point, and salty food just tasted good! But, I do think the chips were good stuff).

image (2)

On Friday, Cindy, Kesley and I were determined to meet two of our favorite Clemson men in Charlotte for lunch. A mere 90 minutes away, give or take! We met the guys at Duckworths in Ballantyne. We arrived shortly before the guys did (after we amended the meeting time because we were running late!), so we started with some Buffalo bleu cheese chips (OMG!)

Chips

We were meeting my friends Anthony and Daniel, who both work in the Charlotte area. I first met Ant several years ago. I’ve lost count now how many years ago that was. He’s the sweetest, most charming guy – but he bucks that description every chance he gets! He has hash-tagged himself the #LargeAngryBlackMan on Twitter (it’s a joke, y’all…look at that smile!).

Ant

Ant

And, Daniel…well, he and I met through the Clemson Twitter fam as well, but we had a real-life connection as well! One of my most dear friends, Chanda, grew up with Daniel in Orange County, CA! It is indeed a small world, folks! I dug this man since the minute I met him. And…he’s a proud member of the #FKC (Fat Kid Club). See how excited he is about food? (sadly, I went the other way…from skinny kid to not-so much…but we’re both still happy!)

Dnaiel

Former FKC, Daniel

Both Daniel and Ant were very excited to see my indecisiveness play out in real life. When our server, Sandy, came by to take orders, I simply let her know that everything on the menu was fair game, and that she should choose her favorite lunch item for me. She was a little panicked, but ultimately agreed to order for me.

When she came back, she informed me that she had chosen the Fajita Chicken Philly (marinated fajita chicken served on a Philly roll with cheese, peppers and onions).

Fajita

It had great flavor, but it was HUGE! I knew that I could count on Ant to finish the leftovers, and he did. With a smile! After a nice, long lunch, we headed out in different directions. It was so nice to see the guys though!

Daniel, Cindy, Kesley, Ker, and Ant at lunch at Duckworth's.

Daniel, Cindy, Kesley, Ker, and Ant at lunch at Duckworth’s.

Later that evening, we were meeting another favorite Clemson friend, beat writer Greg, for dinner in downtown Greenville (one of my favorite cities in America!). Greg chose Nose Dive (a Table 301 restaurant – of Soby’s fame (the place I had my graduation dinner so many years ago)). Nose Dive is a newer Gastropub, with an inspired menu! Again, everything looked fantastic, so I just turned my order over to Brian, our server. I let him know early on that I’d have him choose my meal, and that I would like a glass of white wine to pair with it.

Brian was totally game. I could tell he was really considering what to bring me, but he wasn’t worried when I gave him carte blanche. He first came back with a glass of Pinot Grigio – which was nice and refreshing since I had asked my friends to sit on the hot and muggy patio!

NoseDive1

Then, he brought the Roast Chicken which was really half of a chicken served over a bed of croutons and tomatoes (yummy!) and topped with herbs and Dijon sauce. The portion was ridiculous, so half of it went home for Cindy’s daughter (who is a gymnast with a never-ending appetite!). The half that I did eat was delicious! The chicken was so moist and tender, and the herbs and Dijon were perfect accents. Although there wasn’t much in the way of “healthy” sides (I love veggies!), the crouton salad was very tasty!

I’d definitely go back to Nose Dive (although Greenville has so many good restaurants to choose from!). It was great spending time with Greg too (whom we’d also briefly meet up with after the clinic on Saturday – and whom I neglected to take a picture of! Shame on me.)

Saturday, we hit the road nice and early to make it to the clinic, and then just took it easy that evening. We hit up Thai Taste, with Daniel, his wife Kate, and their baby girl, Ella. She is, incidentally, the only child I’ve held in a long time who did not cry! She must be the perfect baby! 🙂 And, she’s stinking cute too!

It was so nice to get down south again, spend quality time with several friends, and have a bit of southern cookin’! What’s your favorite taste of the south?

She Cooked What?!?

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take time to visit with my most dear friends from Clemson.  Beth and I met while working in the on-campus restaurant Seasons by the Lake.  We bonded over a pitcher of Killian’s one night after working a shift together.  The rest, as they say, is history!

I was honored to be asked to serve as Beth’s maid of honor when she wed Jason in Charleston, SC. Beth and Jason have been together since they were sixteen! Therefore, Jason was a part of the package for me (and a fantastic part!), as I was for him.  They are two extraordinarily lovely people, and they continue to be one of the strongest couples I know.

They lived in Manhattan after college for ~12 years before moving to a gorgeous home in Sparta, NJ.  That’s where I went to spend a week visiting with them.

Looking back, my most vivid memory from their wedding was of me constantly chasing them around and shoving a bite of food into their mouths at each brief opportunity between the obligatory conversations with every guest who participated in the celebration!  It was my duty to help them enjoy everyone’s company, but also to ensure they enjoyed the food!

Beth was beautiful, as always. And, Jason, is a good-looking man - whether dressed up or casual.  And, I forgot how good-looking my boyfriend at the time was (back right).  He's happily married and I will always wish him and his family the best!

Beth was beautiful, as always. And, Jason, is a good-looking man – whether dressed up or casual. And, I forgot how good-looking my boyfriend at the time was (back right). He’s happily married and I will always wish him and his family the best!

Last week was a bit more of the same – keep Beth focused on doing what she needed to do (rest), and help life continue as normally as possible for her and Jason.

As always, Beth and Jason were gracious and welcoming hosts.

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Beth had surgery a few days before I arrived, and she was ordered to take things easy, rest, and not exert herself.  That’s where Jason and I came in.  We took over the household duties – including cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc.

Now, Beth and Jason are both accomplished cooks, so preparing meals for them was a bit daunting!  However, I knew that I had the old adage going for me…food tastes best when someone else cooks!

Some of my friends will recognize these recipes, and I promise it’s not that I have such a limited repertoire!  It’s really that a few of the meals I prepared have been “crowd pleasers” in the past. People often ask me for the recipes.  So…I thought I’d take a slightly different tact on this post and share the recipes of some of the food I cooked while visiting with Beth and Jason.

On Monday, when I arrived, Jason prepared grilled chicken for us.  He introduced me to his Big Green Egg  (my friend Bryan also uses the BGE to make masterful creations!), which I ended up using later in the week as well.

Breakfasts and lunches were fairly easy and nondescript, so I’ll focus on what we had for dinners.  Although, I would be remiss not to mention the Banana Bread recipe (please note that this does not take 2 hours to prepare – maybe 20 minutes!) and the Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake recipe.

Banana Bread (Food Network recipe)

Banana Bread (Food Network recipe)

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake

Here’s the recipe for the coffee cake: (it’s from a Holiday Baking magazine purchased at The Home Depot last year)

Here you go:
For the caramel topping:
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 c chopped toasted pecans

For the streusel:
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

For the cake: (taste the batter when you’re done!!)
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 eggs
1 (8 Tbsp)stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9″ round cake pan w/ non-stick spray

Stir together 3/4 c brown sugar, cream, and salt for caramel topping. Pour caramel into prepared pan and spread to cover pan. Sprinkle pecans over caramel.

Process ingredients for streusel in food processor until sandy, w/ no clumps. Set aside.

Whisk together dry ingredients for cake and set aside.

Whisk together buttermilk, yogurt and eggs in a measuring cup (w/ pour spout) and set aside.

Using a mixer, cream together softened stick of butter and sugar until combined. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Blend only enough to incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter.

Spread half of the batter over the caramel in the cake pan. Then, sprinkle with half the streusel. Repeat one more time with remaining batter and streusel.

Bake coffee cake until the center comes out clean – 50-60 min. Cool on rack for 5 min, then loosen and invert onto serving plate (while hot). Slightly cool before serving.

On Tuesday, I threw together one of my favorite snacks.  It’s a recipe I saw on “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”, and have made several times since.  It’s an easy dish to bring to a summer party.

Y'all need to try this simple snack recipe - it's so YUMMY!

Y’all need to try this simple snack recipe – it’s so YUMMY!

2-3 Golden delicious apples, sliced

Lemon juice

Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

~6 basil leaves, finely chopped

Mix lemon juice and Dijon until emulsified.  I usually use 3-4 Tbs lemon juice and ~2-3 Tbs of Dijon, but I doctor it until the taste is a nice blend of the two.  Add apple slices to liquid.  Add salt and pepper (I usually just do a quickly once around with the grinders).  Toss apples and continue to doctor the flavors to taste.  Add basil and toss again.  Serve immediately.  Keep in a Tupperware container for munching later in the week.

That evening, I made grilled Cod with mango salsa, grilled asparagus and grilled lime-pepper corn (a recipe from some friends from Corning, Inc.).  I actually made this meal again this week for my family and friend so I could get a picture.

Tuesday night

Tuesday night

The cod is simply marinated in lemon juice with salt and pepper.  I let it sit out at room temperature for 3o minutes prior to grilling for ~10 minutes (until flaky).

Grilled corn before being sauteed.

Grilled corn before being sautéed.

The corn is set directly on the grill (no husks) to give it a slight char and then I take it inside to slice the kernels off into a saucepan with a couple of pats of butter.  I then add a tablespoon (or so) of lime juice, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.  And, the asparagus was drizzled with olive oil, and salt and pepper, and then grilled for 3-4 minutes.

On Wednesday, Beth marinated the leftover (uncooked) Cod, and baked it in parchment paper.  We had leftover salsa to add to it.  We also had the apples and green beans.  It was an easy meal – but it was also after I made the banana bread and the coffee cake, so the break was a welcome one!

Thursday, I ran to Kroger (I had secured “my parking spot” at this point – lots of runs to the grocery store!) to pick up some Sockeye Salmon. Beth was going to brine it and Jason would cook it on a honey coated Cedar plank.

For dinner that evening, I made a variation of a recipe my friends and family always love.  Usually, I make it with a full pork tenderloin, but this time I used the pork chops Beth and Jason had on hand.  We also grilled up some leftover cornbread that Beth had made Monday.

Grilled Garlic Lime Pork with Onion Jalapeno Marmalade

Grilled Garlic Lime Pork with Onion Jalapeno Marmalade

Here is the standard recipe: (note: I generally try to make the marmalade a day in advance in order to let it “heat up”)

Grilled Garlic Lime Pork Tenderloin w/ Onion Jalapeno Marmalade (from a Vera Bradley cookbook)
 
The pork:
6 lg cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs fresh grated ginger root
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 c lime juice
1/2 c olive oil
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 (3/4 lb) pork tenderloins
onion marmalade (recipe below)
 
Process first eight ingredients in food processor or blender. Place pork in large Zip Loc bag and pour marinade over pork. Marinate in fridge for a day or longer, turning occasionally.
 
Let pork stand at room temp for 30 min before grilling. Drain marinade.  Place pork on oiled grill and cook 5 min per side (20 min total).  Let stand on cutting board 5 min before slicing.  Serve with onion marmalade.
 
Onion Marmalade:
1 large red onion, sliced into rings
3 Tbs olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced
2 Tbs honey or sugar
4 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 c water
 
Saute onions in the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until softened.  Season w/ salt and pepper.  Add the chiles and saute for a minute.  Add honey and cook for a minute.  Add the vinegar and simmer until almost all of the liquid had evaporated, stirring constantly.  Add the water and simmer ~10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.  
This can be prepared ahead of time – the longer it sits, the spicier it gets! If refrigerated, reheat prior to serving with the pork.

Here is the proof that I used the Big Green Egg!

Pork chops on the grill.

Pork chops on the grill.

On Friday, Beth asked if I would make another loaf of banana bread so they could freeze it for later.  I gladly obliged.  And, friends…I’m serious that the recipe I linked to above is a really good basic banana bread recipe. Yum!

As mentioned previously, we were set to have salmon for dinner.  Salmon is generally my least favorite fish, but this tasted more like a steak than fish.  It was not the slightest bit “fishy”! Very tasty.

Beth’s brine consisted of water, coarse sea salt, soy sauce and brown sugar.  She placed the skinned salmon in a TupperWare container.  She covered the fish with ice and added the brine.  The fish was refrigerated overnight (1 hour would be the minimum recommendation).

Then, the fish was placed on a soaked Cedar plank, coated with honey.

Brined Salmon on a Cedar plank.

Brined Salmon on a Cedar plank.

Jason grilled it up, using some additional smoking chips as well.

Since Beth was feeling a little bit better, she decided to make a side dish of Quinoa and Grits.  It was a delicious side, flavored with Pepper Jack cheese , giving it a slightly spicy kick to it.

Salmon, salad, and cheesy quinoa/grits.

Salmon, salad, and cheesy quinoa/grits.

All in all, we had a wonderful, relaxing week together.  I got some severely overdue QT with my dear friend.

Beth and me (in our "uniforms" for the week)

Beth and me (in our “uniforms” for the week)

I also got to meet their new “kid”, Buddy.  He has a very different personality than their beloved Toes Kitty, but I think I ultimately won him over!

Buddy.  He's a beautiful cat.

Buddy. He’s a beautiful cat.

We should all be lucky enough to spend a week with our best friends!  I’m so fortunate that I was able to jet over to NJ for a while and see Beth, Jason and Buddy!

And, readers… If you happen to try any of these dishes, please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear what you think about the meals.

Cheers!

Ker

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