After overdosing on cookies and other sweet treats over the holidays, it’s now time for me to do a little detoxing. My body is seriously screaming for vegetables and crisp, clean flavors.
Last week I had some of my closest girlfriends over for dinner and I knew they were feeling the same way, so I wanted to come up with a meal that left us feeling good. This recipe is one that I’d torn out of Southern Living several weeks ago and though I’d been dying to try it, I’d had no real opportunity to do so. My husband isn’t such a big fan of butternut squash, and since the recipe makes quite a bit (and didn’t seem like a dish that would be good as leftovers), it didn’t make sense to make it until I was cooking for a larger group.
Served alongside an amazing slow cooker roasted chicken (will post that recipe soon!), this colorful, flavorful dish was a huge hit. So much so that one of my friends texted me early the next morning and said she dreamed about it!
Roasted Butternut Squash and Farro with Almonds and Blue Cheese
Serves 6 as a side dish. Adapted from Southern Living.
1 cup uncooked farro
1 small butternut squash (or 2 large sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1.5 lbs)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 shallot, minced
3 cups chopped radicchio
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, torn into pieces
3 ounces crumbled blue cheese< (or to taste)
1/4 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped/p>
Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add farro, and boil, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain farro, and spread in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan to cool (approximately 30 minutes).
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°. Toss together squash, next 4 ingredients, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl. Spread squash in a single layer in a lightly greased jelly-roll pan, and bake 10 to 15 minutes or just until tender. Cool in pan 30 minutes.
Stir together next 4 ingredients, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Let stand 10 minutes.
Stir together farro, radicchio, and parsley in a medium bowl. Spoon desired amount of vinaigrette over farro; toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter. Top with roasted squash, almonds, and, if desired, blue cheese. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the nice folks at Blue Chair Bay asking if I’d be interested in hosting a review and giveaway this month. I first tried their rum back in September at the Music City Eats Festival, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I figured – why not? Let’s give it a go. I’m always willing to experiment with cocktails and, of course, I love being able to share my finds with you guys!
Blue Chair Bay’s Smoked Coconut and Pineapple Fizz at Music City Eats Festival
Blue Chair Bay Rum is relatively new to the marketplace, as it just launched this past summer. Interestingly, the brand was created by country music singer Kenny Chesney. Unlike some celebrities who just give their name to brands to use for promotional purposes, Kenny really, truly had a hand in creating this spirit.
There are three flavors – white, spiced coconut and coconut. I had a really tough time deciding which one I’d like to play around with, but ultimately decided that the white would allow for more flexibility. (I’m still dying to try the spiced coconut, as I’m a coconut fiend!)
After several attempts at creating something unique and appropriate for this time of year, I finally came up with a dessert cocktail that was inspired by a blackberry cream cheese coffeecake I first had in wine country a few years ago. The coffeecake has become a favorite brunch item for my friends and I, so I tried to replicate some of those flavors in my drink – blackberry, cream, and almond. And, because I love ginger so much, I threw that in there too!
Blackberry Almond Dream
Makes 1 cocktail.
1.5 oz Blue Chair Bay White Rum
9 blackberries, divided
1/4 oz Amaretto
1/2 oz ginger syrup
2 oz whole milk or cream
In a shaker, muddle 6 blackberries. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake very well and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with skewer of 3 blackberries.
Congratulations to the winner!
Now, for one of my very special readers, I have a bottle of Blue Chair Bay Rum for you!
All you have to do to enter is this:
1. Leave a comment telling me what you’ll make with your rum. Share the full recipe in the comments, link to one that you love, or just provide a list of ingredients you think would make the perfect white rum cocktail. I need more inspiration for cocktail experimenting in the weeks to come!
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 “I just entered to win a bottle of Blue Chair Bay Rum from @betheats and you can too! http://bit.ly/1fVWXj1” then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.
3. Like Blue Chair Bay Rum 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 Thursday, January 2nd at noon CST. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll make contact via email and post the name here on the blog. If they don’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!
Winner must be over 21 and a US resident.
*I was not compensated monetarily for this post, though I was given a free bottle of Blue Chair Bay Rum to experiment with, and another to give away. All opinions, as always, are my own.
My friend Sherri and I tried to convince Archer that it would be fun to get his photo taken….
His reaction: not sure I like this Mama.
So what do we do when we don’t like something? Scream, naturally!
Ah, all better. Wait, maybe this IS fun after all!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Hoping yours is filled with friends, family, laughter, and lots of happy clapping!
So apparently Bourbon Milk Punch has been around for a LONG time. I, however, had never even heard of it until our recent trip to Asheville. We had been bellied up to the bar at The Imperial Life for a while after dinner, and I was ready for dessert to cap off my evening. Not dessert to eat – but something sweet to drink.
The bartenders had been doing a good job of creating special drinks for us the entire evening, so I simply said, “I’d like something creamy. And bourbon is good.” In what seemed like mere seconds, a glass was in front of me and the savvy mixologist was telling me that this was one of her favorite drinks.
Perfection. This was exactly what I had in mind.
I knew this was a cocktail I’d like to recreate on occasion, so I began researching recipes, of which there are many! I can’t even say that there was one specific one that I used in my creation- they all just guided me in my experimenting.
Luckily, I was recently sent a sample bottle of Angel’s Envy Bourbon (which I’m really digging by the way), so I had plenty of booze to work with through the trial and error process. While none of the drinks were bad, it did take a few tries to find exactly the right combination that pleased me. So, without further adieu, my new favorite dessert drink, Bourbon Milk Punch….
Bourbon Milk Punch
Makes 1 serving
1.5 - 2 oz bourbon whiskey
3 oz whole milk
2 tsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg
In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the bourbon, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. Shake well. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over 3-4 ice cubes and grate fresh nutmeg over the top.
Inn at Biltmore Estate, our digs for a long weekend in Asheville
A month ago, my husband and I went away for what was our first vacation alone together since I was pregnant with our little guy in 2011. Since I’m still not ready to go too far away for too many days, Asheville seemed like a good spot for us. Although Ravi grew up fairly near there, he hadn’t been since he was a kid, and I had never been before. (which is crazy since it’s a pretty easy drive from Nashville!)
Asheville had been on the front of my ‘to travel to’ list since last winter when, as I was sweating away on the arc trainer at the Y, I read all about their food and drink scene in Food & Wine magazine. (side note: everyone knows that working out while reading food magazines is the best motivation to burn more calories, right?)
From that article, I began putting together my list of places to try while visiting. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I gathered more intel from Sweet Betweens and a few others on Twitter. What follows is every restaurant and bar we visited and recommend. Some were, of course, more impressive than others, but all are worth checking out.
11 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
Serving a real, authentic Spanish tapas menu,
Cúrate was our first stop upon arriving to Asheville. I was probably more excited for this place than any because, as you know, I’ve been moaning about our lack of tapas in Nashville for ages now. It did not disappoint! We ate so much – these photos aren’t even 25% of what we ordered – and left there stuffed and happy.
Rebujito cocktail at Cúrate Asheville – manzanilla sherry, bitter lemon, mint
Cúrate’s Piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese
Cúrate’s sauteed spinach, apples, raisins, and toasted pine nuts
7 SW Pack Sq
Asheville, NC 28801
Wood grilled broccoli rabe at Rhubard – pig bread and pickled red onions
Okay, I’ll be completely honest. This was dining experience was a bit of a letdown because our service was severely lacking. I’m not sure what the issue was – if the server had too many tables or what. All I know is that we sat with empty water glasses for way too long, no one stopped by between courses to check on us, and no one came by to ask if we needed another drink from the bar (which we did).
Our food came out fast, so I can at least say they were efficient with that. But we were in and out the door in less than an hour- which for us wasn’t necessarily a good thing. We would’ve liked to savor our food a bit more and enjoy another drink.
All that said, the food was great. The broccoli rabe, grilled lamb ribs with collard green kimchee and goat cheese gnudi are all dishes I’d love to have again. Despite the service hiccup, I’d be willing to give Rhubarb another shot.
Rhubard’s goat cheese gnudi
roasted shallots, local mushrooms, yellow branch cheese, wood grilled radicchio, toasted pumpkin seeds
400 Haywood Rd
Asheville, NC 28806
Hands down, by far our favorite meal of the entire trip was at The Admiral. This place epitomizes the saying “looks aren’t everything”. The cinder brick building and completely no-frills dining room gave absolutely no indication of the incredible food and service we would receive. From the simple arugula salad to the escargot with romesco, basil pesto, and pecorino on lemon risotto to the last sweet bite served with the best French press coffee I’ve ever had, my taste buds were giddy.
The Admiral is a do not miss when in Asheville!
The Admiral’s arugula salad with granny smith apple, hazelnuts, humboldt fog
Pork Belly at The Admiral
sweet potato puree, braised red cabbage, crispy rutabega, smoked maple syrup
teriyaki duck leg with pimento cheese fries, orange fennel slaw; angus flat iron steak with bacon and green onion rasti, grilled romaine, bearnaise foam, creme fraiche; Espresso brulee, tiramisu with lime milk fudge
(Note: wish the lighting had been better so I could give you photos that did justice to the food!)
733 Haywood Rd
Asheville, NC 28806
Two words: Butter Bar.
Yes, Biscuit Head has a butter and jelly/jam bar that is insanely ridiculous. I learned a trick while dining on this first visit that I can now pass along to you. Order one of the biscuit sandwiches, but ask them to put all of the toppings on only one side of the biscuit.
You need that other half of the biscuit to partake in the butter bar. You can thank me later. (and thank the local that I overhead sharing this tip with her friend. Only wish I’d heard her BEFORE I ordered so I didn’t have to scrape all kinds of stuff off one half of my biscuit)
Biscuit Head Asheville’s Butter Bar Selection
1 Roberts St #101
Asheville, NC 28801
If you’re looking for a casual lunch spot in Asheville, White Duck Taco is a fun place to go. It’s a little off the beaten path, but that definitely doesn’t seem to deter anyone, as there was a long line out the door before, during and after we left!
Bangkok Shrimp Taco at White Duck Taco Shop
10 S Lexington Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
On our first night in town around 9 pm, we walked past French Broad Chocolate Lounge and saw an incredibly long line snaked out the door and down the street. I knew this place was popular, but until I saw that, I didn’t realize just how popular. We weren’t in the mood for dessert at that moment anyway, but I was glad that I saw the line because it made me readjust my thinking about when we would visit. I’d planned to try it out after dinner the next night, but instead decided to hit it mid afternoon on Saturday instead.
Perfect plan! When we got there around 3 pm, there were a few people inside waiting to order, but the line moved quickly and we got our coffee, cookie, and tart within a few minutes of arriving. So keep that in mind for your visit. Daytime desserting is better than late night desserting!
91 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
I’m not a huge beer drinker, but Asheville is a beer brewing town, so I wanted to try at least one of the breweries. Wicked Weed seemed to be the most highly recommended, and it turns out, there’s a good reason.
I love this place. Fire pit outside, a giant mural of King Henry the VIII inside and a high alcohol beer aged in whiskey barrels for 4 months. What’s not to love?
Troy & Sons Old Fashion at Wicked Weed Asheville - dare I say THE BEST beer I’ve ever had?!?
The 9.8% old ale brewed with sweet cherries and orange zest, then aged in whiskey barrels for 4 months to capture the essence of an old fashion.
19 Wall St
Asheville, NC 28801
MG Road is the basement bar and lounge of Chai Pani, an Indian street food joint. The cocktail list contains interesting ingredients like lemongrass, cardamom, and sabji masala, just to name a few. Really cool, relaxed vibe.
48 College St
Asheville, NC 28801
The Imperial Life bar in Asheville, NC
Oh, this place. For a cocktail lover like me, it’s a MUST.
I won’t say how many drinks I ordered, but I’ll tell you that every one was fantastic. My evening ended with a request for a “bartender’s choice” dessert drink, which turned out to be a Bourbon Milk Punch, something I’d never had before. It is also something that I will now be having often.
Bourbon Milk Punch at The Imperial Life, Asheville
1 Antler Hill Rd
Asheville, NC 28803
We really enjoyed our stay at the Inn at Biltmore Estate. It’s a little bit of a drive to get into town, but the views and atmosphere are great. It was exactly the kind of place I needed to force me to relax and truly get into vacation mode.
Biscuit Love Marketing Makeover Reveal
Wednesday, December 11th
Dinner service from 4 – 8 pm
2908 12th Ave S
(corner of 12S and Kirkwood)
Nashville, TN 37204
The TODAY Show (yes, that TODAY show!) will be in 12 South tomorrow filming a segment on the marketing makeover of our very own Biscuit Love truck!
The Marketing Makeover is the creation of the marketing and branding guru Martin Lindstrom and is part of a series being filmed for the TODAY show featuring small businesses across the country trying to take their business to the next level.
If you have a dream of being on television, then head on over to 12 South tomorrow evening because this might be your chance! Biscuit Love will be open for business with a delicious (as always) dinner menu:
“hot” chicken, topped with housemade pickles, housemade mustard, local honey, on a scratch baked biscuit
The East Nasty
Buttermilk fried chicken, Sweetwater Cheddar Cheese, local Bear Creek Farms housemade sausage gravy, on a scratch baked biscuit
Local Jake’s Sausage patty, Bloomsbury Farms fried egg, and Sweetwater Valley Buttermilk cheddar, on top of a scratch baked biscuit
House-ground peanut butter, caramelized banana jam, Olive & Sinclair chocolate gravy, topped with pretzel crunch, on a scratch baked biscuit
Creamy Grits topped with Slow Roasted Beef Brisket
It may be cold out, but I’m quite sure this food will warm you up. And if you need a little more warmth, pop into the brand new White’s Mercantile to do a little holiday shopping while you’re there!
Last week I shared a list of locally made products with you in case you wanted to put together your own gift baskets to give at the holidays. Well, this week I’ve got a couple of gifts for people like me who have very little time on their hands for shopping, but still want to give something local. I would personally love to receive either one of these gifts at Christmas! (hint, hint)
Local Eats Gift Card
Local Eats recently launched a gift card program specifically designed to promote locally owned restaurants. Unlike a typical gift card that must be used at one location or one certain chain store, Local Eats has created a national network of restaurants that will accept their gift card.
Here in Nashville I can use it at some of my favorites like Holland House, Cupcake Collection, Woodlands, and 1808 Grille just to name a few. Check out this list to see all of the current spots where the gift card can be redeemed. They’re constantly adding new restaurants, so even if your favorites aren’t there yet, stay tuned. They may very well be soon!
Now is the perfect time to buy some cards too, as they’ve got a special going for the holidays: You get $10 FREE for every $50 you spend! Even if you don’t have any gifts to buy, you might as well buy some for yourself, right? This bonus deal ends on December 31st, so take advantage and purchase online now!
Batch Nashville launched a few months ago, and while I missed the boat on getting the very first delivery, as soon as I saw my friend Leah’s post about her experience, I immediately hopped online and signed up for the 3-month delivery option (October, November, December).
So exactly what is Batch Nashville? The best way I can describe it is a grab bag (errr, box) of artisan Nashville goodies that delivers to your doorstep each month. While many of the items are food related, they aren’t limited to that. So far I’ve been delighted with the candle, cards, and a cute Tennessee ornament I’ve received.
Recently, when it was time for me to send a birthday gift to a friend who was born and raised in Nashville but now lives in Denver, I couldn’t think of a better gift than a little taste of home courtesy of Batch!
I hope this doesn’t sound lazy, but I never in a million years would have been able to find some of the really cool locally made products that Batch Nashville has gathered. I don’t really enjoy shopping, so I’m happy to let them do all the work for me!
For the holidays, Batch has a few options to choose from, starting with subscriptions:
Seasonal Subscription (3 months) – $90
Half- Year Subscription (6 months) – $180
Annual Subscription (12 months) – $360
If those are a little more than you’re looking to spend, but you still like the idea of a Nashville goodie box, then check out these:
Rise and Shine Gift Batch – $50
Hint of Bourbon Gift Batch – $35
Smell Like a Man Gift Batch – $35
Note: For the Hint of Bourbon and Smell Like a Man Gift Batches, you must order by December 15th to ensure delivery by Christmas. Quantities are limited, so pre-order today!
Edley’s Celebrates 2 Years in 12 South
Wednesday, December 4th
4 pm – close
2706 12th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37204
TONIGHT ONLY!! I know it’s short notice, but if you don’t already have dinner plans, might I suggest dropping by Edley’s on 12 South? They’re celebrating their birthday with two-for-one pulled pork sandwiches, a (free) tasting of Yazoo brews and some great music. Party goers also get to take home a commemorative Edley’s glass.
Saturday, December 7th
10 am – 6 pm
Track One Building at 4th and Chestnut
(around the corner from Fort Houston)
I remember being really jealous of all the great items people bought at Porter Flea last year, so I definitely wanted to make sure I got it on my calendar this year. The free artisan market showcasing modern handmade apparel and accessories, home goods, furniture, jewelry, prints, posters, and paper goods is the perfect spot to find unique items for those hard-to-shop for friends and family members.
This year Porter Flea joined forces with Hey Rooster General Store to create “Porter Pantry”, an artisan food tent featuring packaged consumable goods from local makers. In addition to these food vendors there will also be plenty of food trucks on hand so you can nosh before, during, or after your shopping spree!
For more information, visit the Porter Flea website.
Grilled Cheeserie 3rd Birthday Party
Sunday, December 8th
3 – 6 pm
519 Gallatin Ave
Nashville, TN 37206
There’s another big birthday celebration happening here in town, as the Grilled Cheeserie turns 3 this weekend!
They’ll have their full menu for sale at Barista Parlor on Sunday afternoon, including a special ‘melt of the moment’ using local ingredients donated by Porter Road Butcher and Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. The best part: the first 100 customers will receive a free melt!
And that’s not the only free part. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream will also be on hand serving up free scoops of Cloverton ice cream with honey cornbread gravel (that stuff is soooo good). In addition, they’ll have other flavors available for purchase.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard the weather forecast for the weekend – rain, ice, freezing temps – but don’t worry, you can eat your melts and ice cream in the warm interior of Barista Parlor!
Publicity Lazy Magnolia Beer Dinner
Tuesday, December 10th
7073 U.S. 70S
Nashville, TN 37221
$50/person (includes tax & gratuity)
For the beer lovers out there, Publicity in Bellevue does some really great beer dinners on the second Tuesday of every month. Representatives from the brewery come to talk about the beers, and a four-course meal with pairings is served. This month’s featured brewery is Lazy Magnolia based out of Mississippi. There’ll be cornbread salad, cheese straws, beer battered catfish and pecan pie on the menu, plus (of course) plenty of delicious beers!
Seats are going fast, so call or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve yours!
Table Talk: Ladies Night Out
Wednesday, December 11th
Kocktails and Kouture
316 11th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
Nashville Lifestyles’ Table Talk this month is themed “Ladies Night Out”, combining food and fashion. While nibbling hors d’oeuvres and sipping on specialty cocktails, you can shop til you drop at Kocktails and Kouture in the Gulch. The $15 ticket also includes touchups from the Babe Beauty Bar and a 20% shopping discount.
Piedmont Regional Dinner Event
Tuesday, December 17th
210 25th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37203
$50/person plus tax and gratuity
I get a lot of emails regarding special dinners at restaurants around town. Unfortunately it is completely impossible for me to share every one of them with you. However, when I see a menu that I’m absolutely drooling over, I just have to share!
That’s the case with this four-course dinner happening at Sardinia in a couple of weeks. Check it out:
polenta, corn meal bread with robiola cheese, mushrooms and truffle oil
baby lamb meatballs with swiss chard
pumpkin ravioli with butter, sage and black truffle
risotto al Barolo, risotto with Barolo wine reduction and asparagus
scaloppine ravioli, veal medallions with artichokes and sage
pork ossobuco with pesto couscous
Torta di nocciole, walnut cake
Each course will be paired with a wine tasting and brief remarks to educate diners about the meal and the Piedmont regional influence. Reservations required in advance by calling 615-320-9147.