The Best Slow Cooker Roast Chicken Ever (in my humble opinion of course!)

A few weeks back I shared a recipe for a Roasted Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese and Farro dish that I made for my girlfriends on a night that we were all trying to detox a bit from the holidays. In that post, I also promised to share the amazing slow cooker chicken that I served with it. Well, guess what? Here it is!

That day in early January was my first attempt at cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker, and luckily, it was a HUGE success. Since then, I’ve made this recipe no less than 5 times. That means that I’ve made this at least once every 2 weeks, and believe me, that’s saying something. Sure, there are a few recipes that I enjoy making time and time again, but I don’t think I’ve ever done one quite that much!

Over those weeks, I’ve tweaked it here and there, but in the end, I’ve come back to exactly how I made it that first night. (Which – because that’s the way I roll – was already slightly tweaked from the original recipe).

A couple of things I want to stress: (1) you must use garam masala (2) you must create the “paste” as instructed and not just try to do a dry rub. The beautiful flavor that you get from the garam masala on this chicken is just incredible, and the paste under and on the skin keeps it evenly distributed and perfectly moist.

Now excuse me while I go mix up my spices to make this lovely bird yet again….



The Best Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

Serves 4-6. Slightly adapted from America's Test Kitchen


2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 (3.5 - 4 lbs) whole chicken, giblets discarded

1 lemon, quartered


Microwave oil, chili powder, garam masala, garlic, salt, and pepper in bowl, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute; let cool slightly.

Use your fingers to gently loosen skin covering breast and thighs of chicken; place half of paste under skin, directly on meat of breast and thighs. Gently press on skin to distribute paste over meat. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with remaining paste and place chicken, breast side down, in slow cooker. Add quartered lemon quarters to the inside of the chicken. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low (or until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees).

Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve chicken and serve.



The “Tennessee Flavors” benefit for the Culinary Arts Program at Nashville State Community College, is a week away. Are you planning to attend? I have to say, with over 70 local food and drink artisans (see below) preparing “Homegrown Tennessee Products”, this is certainly a tasting event you don’t want to miss. I went the first year and thoroughly enjoyed myself, but sadly had to miss last year because I was out of town. Luckily, this year, I’m around and will most certainly be there!

Tennessee Flavors

Thursday, March 13, 2014
5:30 – 8:30 pm

Nashville State Community College
120 White Bridge Road
Student Services building


For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call the Nashville State Community College Foundation at 615-353-3222.


55 South
8 Lavender Lane Catering & Events
Amber Falls
American Born Moonshine
Arrington Vineyards
Beachaven Winery
Beans Creek Winery
Bonnie Blue Farm
Brown Forman
Café Fontanella
Century Farm Winery
Cielo, Old Hickory, Lonely Cow Wine, Heroes Vodka
City House
Collier Wine Group
Cork & Cow
Cornerstone Market Catering Company
Corsair Distillery
Culinary (NSCC School of Culinary Arts)
Cumberland Cask Tennessee Whiskey
Gaylord Opryland
George Dickel
Germantown Café
Gray’s on Main
Grinder’s Switch Winery
Hap & Harry’s
Hutton Hotel
Jimmy Kelley’s
Keg Springs Winery
Kickin’ Coffee
Lotus Energy Drink
McConnell House
Midtown Café
Morris Vineyard
Music City Center’s Chef Max Knoepfel
Natchez Hills Winery
Nola Granola
Noshville Deli
Olive and Sinclair
Oma’s Sweets
Pick Tennessee Products
Picker’s Creek Winery
Popcorn Sutton
Provence Breads
Puckett’s Boathouse
Red Pony
Ruth Chris
Second Harvest
Short Mountain
Steve Chapman/Signature Health Care of Nashville
Stonehaus Winery
Sunset Grill
Tenn South Distilling
Tennessee Valley Winery
The Hermitage Hotel
The Nashville Jam Company
The Pharmacy
Tin Angel
Urban Grub
Valention’s Ristorante
Whisper Creek
Wild and Local Foods
Winery at Belle Meade Plantation


So now that you’ve seen that impressive vendor list, you want to go, right? Well, as luck would have it, I’ve got a set of tickets to give away!

~ Contest Closed ~

And the winner is…..

#16 David Greenbaum

To enter, all you have to do is this:


1. Leave a comment with your favorite memory or story about any of the participating food and drink artisans listed above.


For up to 2 additional entries, you can do either or both of the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.

2.  Follow @TennesseFlavor on Twitter and tweet “Get a taste of @TennesseeFlavor by winning a set of tickets to the event from @betheats! Enter here: ” then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

3.  Like Eat. Drink. Smile. on Facebook and come back and tell me you did so (or just tell me you already do if that’s the case!)

Contest ends on Monday, March 10th at noon CST. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll make contact via email and post the name here on the blog. If that person doesn’t respond within 24 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!



Mae Love Mule at Gray’s on Main in Franklin, TN

For those of you that have been hanging around here for a while, you might remember that I used to work down in Cool Springs (for over 9 years!). Back in those days, I dined in downtown Franklin quite often. However, now that my job and location have changed, I rarely ever get down that way anymore, and that’s really too bad. It’s too bad because there is an absolutely awesome new restaurant and bar that I probably would have been going to at least once a week if downtown Franklin was still only 5 miles miles away from me!

Gray’s on Main has found its home in the historic building (1876) that for many years housed Gray’s Drugs, a pharmacy and meeting place for local residents. The 3-story building now has a first floor devoted to dining, a second floor where the bar and stage reside, and a top floor with a private members-only supper club.


Gray’s Shrimp & Grits, Fried Pimento Cheese Balls, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Not only do I love the atmosphere and history behind this place, but the food and drinks are incredible as well. If I just say “fried pimento cheese balls with moonshine pepper jelly”, would that give you some understanding of what I’m feeling? And the shrimp and grits…oh, yes. Completely unlike other versions of shrimp and grits I’ve had before, they’re served as individual little grit cakes with a shrimp on top. Actually, a better description: shrimp with mustard butter on top of braised collards on top of smoked cheddar grit cakes. Yum.

After enjoying my nibbles on the first floor, I headed upstairs to the bar to finish my experience with a drink overlooking Main Street. As I made my way toward the staircase, I noticed something really interesting. The hallway was wallpapered with hundreds of what seemed to be old prescriptions. Turns out they are definitely old- from the 1930’s to be exact! When renovations on the building began to create the new restaurant, those prescriptions were discovered, so they decided to decorate with them. How cool is that?


Now, to the drinks. I’ve pretty much admitted that I’ve become a cocktail snob in recent years (though I really hate to use the word snob). I like to think that with age comes wisdom, so as I grow older, I become ‘wiser’ with my cocktail choices.

Mixologist Jon Yeager of Pour Taste created the cocktail program here, and it’s outstanding. One section of the menu is particularly interesting and absolutely perfect for this cold, dreary time of the year: French press cocktails. On my visit, I chose the Cider Press, a comforting mixture of apple brandy, rum, allspice, organic cider, clover, and cinnamon.

These are hot cocktails created in a French press right in front of you, so you can actually watch the magic as it happens. And then, within a matter of a few short minutes, taste the magic –the best part!

Not only does Gray’s serve really interesting, inventive cocktails, but they have also started offering cocktail classes for the curious cocktailer.

Gray’s Cocktail Classes

Back in the fall, they launched a “Vintage Spirits Series” for their private club members, and they were so popular that they decided to open the courses to the public. For $35 per person, attendees will sip on spirits and corresponding craft cocktails—all the while learning about the featured spirit. Information for the next upcoming class is below:

What: Vintage Spirits Series- focus on Marquis de Montesquiou Armagnac
When: Thursday, March 6th, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Gray’s on Main, 3rd floor Society lounge
Cost: $35 {Food is not included in the price}
To Reserve Your Spot Call : (615) 435-3603

Can’t attend this Thursday? Well, how does your calendar look for March 13th? That’s when the next class will be held, and it’s focus will be on French and Italian wines. To keep up to date on all future classes, be sure to check out Gray’s on Facebook!


Gray’s On Main

332 Main Street
Franklin, TN 37064
(615) 435-3603

Closed Mondays
Tues–Thur 11 am -10 pm
Fri–Sat 11 am – midnight
Sun 10 am -9 pm


A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting several local product makers at a special happy hour held at the Batch Nashville headquarters. The reason for the gathering was more than just to chit chat and hobnob — we were bringing goodies for a giveaway!

And believe it or not, my presence there was not for my awesome food blogging skills (ha!) but instead for my day job with Goo Goo Cluster. We are just one of about 20 Nashville makers taking part in this incredible giveaway, made up of over $700 worth of locally made goods! You can see from the photo above that there is some really great stuff in there, but for the line by line details and to enter for your chance to win, visit

The contest ends at the stroke of midnight on March 1, so be sure to do it soon!



Last weekend was the Tiny But Mighty bake sale, and I had really good intentions to come up with some outrageously creative treat to donate. But as often seems to be the case in my life these days, time got away from me.

Approximately 48 hours before the sale, I realized that I wasn’t even exactly sure when I was going to have time to bake, much less concoct some amazing creation that would have everyone talking for weeks after. So what did I do? I went to my pantry, opened it up, and took inventory. There sure were a lot of chocolate chips in there. Oh yeah, those were left over from all those Christmas treats I never got around to making. (I’m telling you, this is my life now. Always great intentions….)

Then from the far recesses of my mind, I remembered one time reading somewhere that the #1 item that sells at bake sales are chocolate chip cookies. And our goal was to raise as much money as possible, so really, it was a no-brainer: I had to make chocolate chip cookies.

Of course, they needed to be the very best chocolate chip cookie ever. And they had to have some sort of unique spin – I couldn’t resist.



I’ve mentioned my love for salty sweet things many times before, so a sea salt chocolate chip cookie was my vision. After combing the internet for the best of the best recipes, I finally settled on The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever. The writer was very confident in her cookie, and I liked that it already had some sea salt incorporated into the dough. I just knew I wanted a little bit extra sprinkled on top.

One of the other changes I made was only out of necessity – I didn’t realize until I was preparing to mix all of my ingredients that I didn’t have enough vanilla. So instead of using the full measure of vanilla, I subbed in half almond extract. I ended up loving the hint of almond it gave the finished cookie and even though I now have enough vanilla on hand, I’ve since made a second batch the same way I made the first.

So were they a success? Well, I was happy to receive some very complimentary feedback. Words like “holy crap”, “amazing”, “magic” and maybe even some x-rated things were referenced…. so yeah, I guess you could say they were a success!


Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Savory Sweet Life
Makes approximately 40-48 cookies.


1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract*
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, divided
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

*can use 2 tsp of vanilla extract and no almond extract if you choose


Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed). Add both eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed.

Use a medium cookie scoop to measure and drop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (if you don't have a cookie scoop, a scoop should be about 2 Tbsp).

Bake for 14-17 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat, immediately sprinkle all cookies evenly with remaining 3/4 tsp sea salt. Allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving.


pairings 2013


Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!

You may have noticed that I didn’t create a Valentine’s specific post this week. I figure there are enough images of heart shaped cookies, cupcakes with red and pink icing, pizza with heart shaped pepperonis, and heart shaped carrots for soup – yes really. I’m not making this up - that I don’t need to add to the clutter. Just visit Pinterest if you want some of those tutorials.

As for restaurant recommendations for dining out on Valentine’s Day – I don’t have any of those either. Honestly, I could not tell you the last time I dined out on February 14th. Nope. Not interested. Instead, my husband and I usually choose to have a special dinner on some night shortly following the big day.

And that’s why I’m here today. I’ve got an awesome idea for those of you that are like me. That idea is Pairings! While it’s a week away, it’s still in the month of February, so if you ask me, it’s a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate your love for your honey. And, of course, there’s wine. Lots and lots of wine. And that’s something to celebrate in and of itself, right?

Saturday, February 22, 2014
1 – 5:30 pm

Pairings by Nashville Wine Auction

The Factory at Franklin
Liberty Hall
230 Franklin Road
Franklin, TN 37064

Cost: $125/person, Casual Attire

At Pairings, you’ll have the opportunity to taste over 70 different wines, and all are $30-$150 bottles being poured, so we’re talking quality stuff here. There will be awesome Silent and Live Auctions full of cool trips, luxury items and dinners/tastings (Josh Habiger cooking for 14, Lisa Donovan making dinner for 10, Matt Bolus doing a lunch for 22 people just to name a few!) that will raise money to fight cancer in Middle Tennessee.


So, all that said, I encourage you to buy tickets and participate in this special event.  Of course, you might first want to enter for your chance to win 2 tickets to the event- my Valentine’s gift to you!

~Contest Closed~

Congratulations to the winner!

#1 Kristen

All you have to do is this:


1. Leave a comment telling me who the special someone is that you’d take to Pairings with you if you win. Will it be your honey, your BFF, your brother, your sister? Who loves wine as much as you do?


For up to 2 additional entries, you can do either or both of the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.

2.  Follow @NashWineAuction on Twitter and tweet “Love is in the air, and wine is too! Win tickets to #Pairings2014 from @betheats! Enter here: ” then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

3.  Like Nashville Wine Auction on Facebook and come back and tell me you did so (or just tell me you already do if that’s the case!)


Contest ends on Monday, February 17th at 9 pm CST. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll make contact via email and post the name here on the blog. If that person doesn’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!


If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen my declaration last Sunday that I had just prepared perhaps the best steak I’d ever grilled at home before. In fact, I can’t wait to make this exact dish again. And again. And, well, again.

It’s hard to say exactly what made this steak better than any other. Was it the marinade? Was it the topping? Or was it the meat? Actually, I’m sure every part of it played an important role. But I definitely do need to give proper credit to the meat.

A couple of months ago, 44 Farms, an institution in the world of Black Angus production, reached out to me and asked if I’d like to try some of their steaks. After I spent some time reading about their history (they’ve been based in Cameron, TX for more than 100 years and are still family owned) and their philosophy (ethically raised, 100% natural steaks, aged a minimum of 28 days), this red meat lovin’ girl couldn’t pass up the offer.

Before 2013, 44 Farms only supplied to the restaurant trade, but then they launched, where home cooks like me (and you!) can now purchase their awesome steaks. Since I was so impressed with the product- and told them so- they’ve allowed me to share a special, exclusive promo code with my readers for FREE shipping. If you’d like to order, just use EATDRINKSMILE when you check out.




Now, back to the recipe. The marinade is one that I came up with after tweaking a couple I’ve used in the past. The topping is a recipe that  44 Farms shared with me. The steaks that I used for this were their 8 oz Flank Steaks, so a total of 16 oz of meat in the marinade. That said, I think you could probably put up to 2 lbs of meat in this marinade, as there was plenty of it.

I think a big part of my love for this dish was the tangy topping. I’m so soooooo tired of this rainy winter we’re having, and really craving not only sunshine, but also the foods that come with warmer weather. This steak’s bright flavors definitely provided a little ray of sunshine in our house on an otherwise dreary day!


Grilled Marinated Flank Steak with Lemony Parsley Horseradish Dressing

Serves 2-4


2 8 oz flank steaks

Marinade ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Topping/Dressing Ingredients:
Zest of 1 large, un-waxed lemon
1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste


Combine the marinade ingredients. Place steak and marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag. Seal the bag and make sure steak is coated well with the marinade. Marinate for at least 3 hours (or up to overnight).

While the steak is marinating, mix all dressing ingredients together. Set aside.

Preheat the grill with high, direct heat. Take the steak out of the marinade bag and sprinkle generously on all sides with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Place steak on the hot grill. If you are using a gas grill, cover the grill. Grill for 4-6 minutes on each side. (We prefer our steaks medium rare, and that is what I would suggest for flank steaks or else they could get a little tough).

When the steak has cooked to your preferred level of doneness, remove from the grill and place on a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice the flank steak against the grain and top with desired amount of dressing before serving.

Disclaimer: While I was given free 44 Farms steaks to sample, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are solely mine.

otaku south XLRG 2013 bowl


If you saw my post on Monday with the round up of food & drink events happening here in Nashville this month, then you saw Otaku South’s EXTRA LARGE in the mix. What I didn’t share in that post was this  awesome lineup of participating chefs:

Sarah Gavigan/ Otaku South NASHVILLE

Shigetoshi Nakamura/ Sun Noodle & Ramen Lab NEW YORK

Edward Lee/ Milkwood & 610 Magnolia LOUISVILLE

Yuji Haraguchi/ Yuji Ramen NEW YORK

Mihoko Obuni/ Mibo Loves Ramen ATLANTA

Jessica Benefield/ Two Ten Jack NASHVILLE

Akiko Moorman/Gohan Society NEW YORK

Seriously, I’m super stoked about this group! How in the world do I decide which bowl of ramen to eat??? Hmmm, I guess the smartest plan would be to round up 6 friends so the 7 of us can get one bowl from each and pass around….


Otaku South EXTRA LARGE 2


Saturday, February 15, 2014
5  – 9 pm Ramen is served
8 – 10 pm Music from Guilty Pleasures


Marathon Music Works
1402 Clinton St
Nashville, TN 37203

How Much:

Varies ($11 – $23 for individuals). Purchase tickets here.

otaku south XLRG 2013 tables

Last year’s EXTRA LARGE event

And guess what? One of you lucky ducks is going to get to go for free!!! The lovely folks at Otaku South have provided me with a set of two (2) combo tickets to give away (which means you & a friend get to eat ramen AND see Guilty Pleasures!).

~Contest Closed~

Congratulations to the winner!

#43 Kelly

All you have to do is this:


1. Leave a comment telling me about the best ramen you’ve ever had – OR – tell me which of the participating chefs’ ramen you’re most excited about eating.


For up to 2 additional entries, you can do either or both of the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.

2.  Follow me on Twitter (@betheats) and tweet “Slurp for a cause at #OtakuXLRG event with @betheats & see Guilty Pleasures! Enter here to win tix:” then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

3.  Like Otaku South on Facebook and come back and tell me you did so (or just tell me you already do if that’s the case!)


Contest ends on Sunday, February 9th at NOON CST. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll make contact via email and post the name here on the blog. If that person doesn’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!
Images courtesy of Otaku South Facebook page.