bulk-section-whole-foods

 

It’s April! There is just something about this month that really invigorates me. Even though spring technically starts in March, April looks, feels and even sounds more like the beginning of spring to me.

In addition to April being the real, true start of Spring (in my mind at least), it’s also Earth Month. Appropriate I think. The flowers are blooming, the grass begins to turn green, the Earth is coming alive around us!

A few weeks back, I got an email from the Bulk is Green Council (BIG), asking if I’d like to participate in their Earth Month challenge, a pledge to Love Bulk Foods. It didn’t take much convincing, as I already understand that purchasing from bulk bins can provide significant environmental benefits. However, until they threw out a few fun facts and figures, I don’t think I really grasped the magnitude of it. Check this out:

  • If Americans purchased all of their coffee beans from bulk bins for one week during Earth Month, 5,000,000 lbs of foil packaging would be saved from landfills. That’s the equivalent of 1,916 compact cars!
  • If Americans purchased all of their almonds from the bulk bins for just one week, 1,500,000 lbs of waste would be saved from landfills. That is equivalent to 130.6 elephants. In one week.
  • If all American families bought their peanut butter from the bulk bins for one week during Earth Month, 14,403,350 lbs of waste would be saved from landfills. That number is staggering!

I would absolutely love for you to join me in taking the pledge to love bulk foods and purchase them once a week during the month of April. All you have to do is visit LoveBulkFoods.com and sign up. By doing this, you will automatically be entered into a weekly drawing to win a prize pack filled with useful items for your natural bulk pantry. (Full disclosure: I got one of the packs for helping to spread the word about this challenge. Great stuff! A cute tote bag, glass storage containers, seasonings, rice, granola, and a few other fun things).

At the time I am typing this, there are only 4 people from Nashville that have taken the pledge (and that # includes the 2 adults in my own household), and only about 20 from the entire state of Tennessee. Help me raise that number and show that we love the Earth!

 

coffee ice ball

Coffee Ice Ball made using Arctic Chill Ice Spheres

In 2009, I discovered ice balls. It all began when The Patterson House opened here in Nashville and introduced our city to a plethora of ice options, each of which complemented a particular style of cocktail.

Not long after experiencing that first one, I searched the internet and found an ice ball tray online to buy my better half for our own home bar. We’ve been using that tray ever since.

So when Rizzi at Arctic Chill reached out and asked me if I’d be willing to do a review of their silicone ice ball makers, I was game. I knew that I already loved ice balls, and while our tray had been getting us by all this time, I’ll admit it has its issues. It’s a hard plastic that is prone to cracking, and it’s not always easy to get the ice balls out of the tray. Sometimes you have to run water over them to loosen up.

arctic-chill-ice-balls

I’m happy to report that the Arctic Chill molds are super easy to use and the balls pop right out since they’re formed in the flexible silicone shell.

Of course, the most important part is they look amazing in your cocktail! (okay, so maybe it’s also important that they melt a lot slower than normal ice cubes so your drink stays cooler longer)

ice balls with flowers arctic chill

 

While creating a clear ice ball with plain water is fun, I took it a step further and played around a bit. I made coffee ice cubes to put in my after dinner drink of Dancing Pines Chai Liqueur and cream – so delicious. This might sound a little weird, but I also froze a flower inside of one! It looks so pretty – would be a great idea for a shower or just a spring party of some sort.

If you’re looking for a unique gift and the person is a cocktail enthusiast or likes to entertain at home, this is perfect! You can purchase on Amazon for $19.95.

 

 

Disclaimer: While I was given a free set of Arctic Chills Ice Spheres, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are solely mine.

 

 yazoo-delta_large

Cooking with Yazoo featuring Delta Bound

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
5:30 pm doors open; 6 pm dinner begins

Yazoo
910 Division St
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: $40/person (includes all food & drink)

Next week is big week for special food truck events, and it kicks off on Tuesday with Delta Bound’s Chef Jessica Mobley bringing her comfort food to the Cooking with Yazoo series at the taproom.

She’ll be using Yazoo beers to prepare her dishes and guests will enjoy Yazoo pairings to go along with each course too (or you can choose your own from the tap if you’re so inclined). Check out this mouth-watering menu:

‘‘Cravin’ the Delta’’

Delta ‘Hot‘ Tamales
Spicy beer-braised pork filling rolled in creamy corn masa & husk with cheese crisps & beer-infused chili sauce

‘Tennshootoe’ Ham Salad
Fresh arugula, roasted red bell pepper, shaved TN prosciutto country ham, sweet pepper cornbread croutons with hot pepper jelly beer vinaigrette

Stuffed Collards in Ragout
Collard leaves stuffed with seafood boudin on okra & tomato ragout with diced Andouille sausage & beer-battered gulf shrimp garnish

Pecan ‘Blondie’
Brown sugar blonde brownie, beer caramel sauce, Chantilly cream & beer-candied pecans

Hurry and reserve your spot now before it fills up!

 

Root53

 

Root 53 Foundation Spring Friendraiser

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
5 – 8 pm

Yazoo
910 Division St
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: $20/person  (presale price)

If you can’t make the Yazoo dinner on Tuesday, on Thursday you’ve got another chance to load up on some Yazoo and more fine street food, this time from Riffs. This spring “friendraiser” is a benefit for Tennessee Titans’ linebacker Moise Fokou’s charitable organization, Root53, which focuses on offering healthy living workshops for youth in underserved communities.

So what can you expect at the friendraiser? Well, for the $20 entry fee, you get a pint of Yazoo & delicious appetizers from Riffs Catering, you get to meet & hang with Moise himself, and you get to learn more about the organization. Last but not least, you get to leave feeling good knowing that 100% of your ticket price goes to this awesome non-profit!

Note: If you reserve your ticket before March 24th, the cost is $20, after that, it goes up to $25.

biscuit-love-nashville-logo

Pop Up, Schmop Up

Namaste Ya’ll

Saturday, March 29th, 2014
6 – 8 pm

Nashville Farmers Market
910 Division St
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: $20/person

Reservations are encouraged: popupschmopup@gmail.com.

 

And the last event of the week will be Biscuit Love’s first pop up in their “Pop Up, Schmop Up” series at the NFM Grow Local Kitchen.

Biscuit Love owners Karl and Sarah are collaborating with high school student Charlie Hilly to serve a meat & three style menu that represents his own food truck concept. How did this come to be? Well, Charlie met Sarah at a recent career fair and proceeded to tell her all about his plans for owning his own food truck one day. Sarah was so impressed by him that she and Karl continued the conversation, ultimately coming up with the idea for this event – Namaste Y’all, a fusion of Indian and Southern cuisine.

On the menu:

Fried Chicken Tikka Masala over Beaverdam Creek Farm Grits

Catfish Curry

Collard Saag Paneer with housemade Cruze Buttermilk Cheese

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Vadouvan

Indian Banana Pudding

Mango Mint Sweet Tea

 

Tickets will be available at the door for $20 per person, with proceeds benefiting The Nashville Food Project. BUT….. you know how much I love you, so I’ve got a set of two tickets to give away to one lucky reader before then!

~ Contest Closed ~

And the winner is…..

#30 Jill Chisam

To enter, all you have to do is this:

Mandatory

1. Leave a comment telling me what kind of food truck or street vendor you think Nashville is missing. What’s YOUR idea for the best food truck ever?

Optional

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 (@betheats) on Twitter and tweet “Namaste Y’all. Win tickets to @BiscuitLuvTruck’s Indian/Southern fusion dinner from @betheats! Enter here: http://bit.ly/1diqDdC ” 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 Tuesday, March 25th at noon CDT. 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!

 

Broccoli-Cheddar-Bites-Toddler-Friendly-Recipe

 

Usually it takes a couple of weeks for me to get a new recipe posted here on the blog after making it for the first time, but I decided to share this one as quickly as possible. After the response I received to the photo I posted on Instagram last night, it seems like there are a few mamas out there as desperate as I am to find new ways to get vegetables into their kiddos!

While yesterday was the first time I’d ever made these Broccoli Cheddar Bites, it definitely won’t be the last. Now, I’m not going to tell you that these are going to win any culinary awards, but they’re good. And Archer gobbled them up, so really, that’s all that matters to me!

As for me, I’m a tough critic when it comes to broccoli. Some of you may remember that I developed an aversion to it while I was pregnant and I’ve never fully gotten over it. However, I’ve discovered that I do like it tossed in olive oil and lemon zest then roasted, so we’ve been eating it that way a lot lately. Recently though I’ve noticed that the little guy seems to be getting bored with it served that way, eating fewer and fewer pieces each time I make it.

So, I searched for new inspiration – something that he’d get excited about – and this recipe seems to have done the trick!

Another great thing about this recipe is that it makes enough that you can throw a few patties into a freezer bag and freeze them for another day. From the research I’ve done, it seems like they reheat well if you just pop them into the oven for a few minutes. Once we’ve had a chance to try that, I’ll share the results here. Swapping out the broccoli for other vegetables, and using panko and various other spices in place of the Italian bread crumbs might be future experimentations as well. Will let you know how it goes! If you beat me to it, please share your experiences in the comments.

 

Broccoli-Cheddar-Bite-Toddler-Friendly-Recipe

Print

Broccoli Cheese Bites

Makes approximately 15 patties. Adapted from Stacy Snacks

Ingredients:

16 oz package of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and completely drained
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 large eggs, whisked
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. With your hands, form small patties and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip the patties over, and bake an additional 10 minutes.

 

best-slow-cooker-roasted-chicken

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….

 

Print

The Best Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

tnflavors_ad

 

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!

What:
Tennessee Flavors

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

Where:
Nashville State Community College
120 White Bridge Road
Student Services building

Cost:
$50/person

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

Participants:

55 South
8 Lavender Lane Catering & Events
Amber Falls
American Born Moonshine
Arrington Vineyards
Beachaven Winery
Beans Creek Winery
Bonnie Blue Farm
Brown Forman
Cabana
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
Etch
Fido
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
Masons
McConnell House
Midtown Café
MistaDale’s
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
Prichard’s
Provence Breads
Puckett’s
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
Yazoo

 

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:

Mandatory

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

Optional

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: http://bit.ly/1icY5jg ” 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!

 

Grays-Franklin-Mule

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.

   Grays-Franklin-Shrimp-n-Grits-Pimento-Cheese-Balls

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?

Grays-Franklin-French-Press-Cocktail-Bar

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

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

 

giveaway
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 Batch.is/nm.

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