A few weeks ago I received an email with the subject line “Nashville Bacon Takedown” and my heart began to flutter. A cooking contest featuring bacon? I could do this. But to my great dismay I soon discovered that the event is next weekend when I’ll be visiting a friend in Pittsburgh. Why, oh why? And what kills me even more? It’s being held at Aerial, where my husband and I got married last year. I love Aerial, I love bacon, I love cooking. Very sad I can’t attend.
So some of you amateur cooks out there- I beg you- please, please enter this competition! It’s completely free to enter your recipe, and I desperately want to hear all about it from someone who experiences it first hand. Ryan or Erin – I have strong faith in both of you….
Even if you aren’t interested in showing off your cooking skills, at least go and eat as much bacon infused goodness as you can possibly hold. It’s only $15 to sample all of the bacon creations and vote for a winner. The views of the downtown skyline from Aerial’s rooftop terrace on Broadway are enough reason to go even without the added incentive of mouth-watering bacon.
Speaking of mouth-watering, check out this recent video from ABC – spicy bacon truffles, bacon bourbon ice cream, bacon tamales, oh bacon!
Nashville Bacon Takedown
Sunday, September 13th
(private club above Paradise Park Trailer Resort)
$15 to taste all of the entries
Free to enter a recipe
$100 prize to the winner!
To inquire contact Matt Timms:
Photo Credit: BACON! by Dave77459
The weather here in Nashville has been a bit bizarre recently- August is normally pretty scorching hot and humid – but not this one. Much of the month felt like October, our most pleasant month of the year. As we enter into September, same thing. The cool, crisp mornings totally remind me of the San Diego coast, so believe me, I’m not complaining!
Today’s cold dish recipe was created way back when it was so hot and muggy outside that nothing warm sounded appetizing to me. Do you remember those days? I’m not asking for them back again, but just in case we get a few more, these noodles will be making a repeat appearance at my house. Actually, hot or cool outside, it’ll be back soon since it completely satisfies those intense peanut sauce cravings I often get….
Asian Noodles with Chicken and Spicy Peanut Sauce
Serves 4. Adapted from Bitten by Mark Bittman.
8 oz boneless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 medium cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick, then cut into matchsticks
1 cup shredded carrots
12 oz long pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti because that's what I had, but you could use linguine or chinese noodles)
2 Tbsp sesame oil + splash
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sriracha chile sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (While the water is boiling, you can cut up your cucumbers) Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 6-8 minutes. While noodles are cooking, in a medium bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp of sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic, sriracha, and black pepper.
When pasta is done, drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Toss with a splash of sesame oil. Add shredded chicken, cucumbers, and carrots to noodles.
Pour the sauce over the noodle mixture and toss. Add salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with roasted peanuts and cilantro.
If you’re only cooking for two like I am, you’ll have leftovers for the next day’s lunch. The noodles might start to stick together a bit, but I’ve found that if you squeeze a little fresh lime juice on them, it loosens them up and adds a kick of flavor. Enjoy!
Remember that 6 week wine series
at Fido I told you about a few weeks ago? Well, I cannot quit gushing about it to everyone I know. Originally I had scheduling conflicts with Classes 2 and 3, but ended up completely rearranging my calendar after Class 1 because I so thoroughly enjoyed it. There was no way I was going to miss even one class in this series!
There’s no doubt that they will offer this again in the future, so I’ll keep you abreast of the details and dates. If you have even the slightest bit of interest in wine- I mean even the slightest- you should not let this unique opportunity pass you by. Even if you can only do one or two classes, it’s worth it.
For only $25 each week, you get some amazing wines and phenomenal food. Oh, the food. I’m pretty sure that to the average Nashvillian, the mention of Fido brings to mind coffee, not food. But Chef John Stephenson is definitely doing more than blurring the line between coffeehouse and restaurant. Here are what I consider some of the standouts from the first 3 weeks:
Green Goddess Chicken Salad Croute with Avocado, Bacon and Fennel Mustard
Green Chile-Coconut Tamales with Black Beans and Mole Espresso
Medjool Dates with Chorizo and Spicy Tomato Sauce
Handmade Pizzas with Local Organic Heirloom Tomatoes, Organic Peaches, and Gremolata
Green Chile Empanada with Chorizo and Yellow Gingered Salsa
Watermelon, Heirloom Tomato, and Mint Salad with Feta
Local Casserole of Yellow Squash, Shitake Mushrooms, and Red Onion
Fresh Linguine with Lemon Cream, Benton’s Country Ham, Rainbow Chard, and Roasted Carrots
Local Blueberry and Hazelnut Cobbler with Whipped Cream
This is just a small sampling of the dishes we’ve had so far, and I have no doubt that Chef John will continue to outdo himself with our weekly menu.
And of course, I can’t not mention the wine! Vinea Wine Shop is responsible for bringing in our 7-8 wine selections each week, and as a class member they give us 10% off our orders. I’m making my list as the weeks progress and plan to reward myself with a graduation present by stocking my wine rack with all of my new finds. Being more of a red wine kind of girl, white or sparkling wines don’t often touch my lips, but surprisingly, I’ve found more than a few that tickle my fancy:
Castellari “Rovereto” Gavi (Piedmont, Italy)
Astoria Prosecco (Veneto, Italy)
Rivetto Nebbiolo d’Alba (Piedmont, Italy)
Chateau Le Gay ‘Festival’ Rose (Bordeaux, France)
Delheim Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Lancatay Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza, Argentina)
Villiera Pinotage (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Syan Shiraz (Pyrenees, Australia)
As we hit the halfway point of the series tonight, I’m a little sad that we only have 3 classes left to go, but I’m also excited because we’re finally to the topic I’ve been most looking forward to – “The Fruit”. Wine speak can be intimidating, and my friend Melissa and I have struggled each week to come up with the right words to communicate our thoughts on the various wines. Damian, our instructor from Omni Beverages, has promised that it will all come in time– that by the end of the series, words will be flowing as freely as the wine. This evening he’ll be laying out a variety of fruits and teaching us how to use them as descriptors, so the next time any of you drink wine with me, be prepared to watch me show off my new-found language skills. I’ll be waxing poetic about the aroma, bouquet, body and flavor profiles!
If you’re reading this and so fired up that you can’t wait until the next series rolls around, send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
to see if there are any open spots in the remaining classes (Sept 1st (tonight)
, 8th, or 15th). I promise you will not be disappointed!
1812 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212
Hosted by Omni Beverage, Vinea, and Fido
Photo Credit: Wine Glass by mhaithaca
Some girls like shopping for clothes and shoes- me, I prefer shopping for food. On average, I am in a grocery store, gourmet food store, or farmers’ market 5 out of 7 days a week. It’s crazy, I know, but it makes me happy.
On each of these expeditions, I usually buy something, which isn’t a problem when I’m purchasing non-perishables, because I can put them away in the cabinet and use them at leisure. What’s a problem is when I go nuts buying lots of fresh fruits and veggies during a time period when I have very few free nights at home in my own kitchen to cook. On weeks like those that I’ve packed my social calendar with restaurant outings and events, I often find myself with food on my hands that is about to go bad.
This is when I play a little game. It’s sort of my own version of Iron Chef – except I’m not battling anyone. Pen and paper in hand, I stand at the door of the fridge, making a list of all ingredients that need to be used soon. My challenge: To create a meal using as many of those ingredients as possible. That’s how this meal happened.
My must-be-used ingredient list:
Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Feta Cheese from Kira’s Kids Dairy, Yellow Squash, Garlic & Basil Ricotta from Eastside Cheese Co., Onion
I recalled Kathleen, my cheese makin’ friend, mentioning that she recently created an Eastside Cheese Co. blog where she would be posting recipe ideas for her customers. Since one of my challenge ingredients was her Garlic & Basil Ricotta, I decided to check out the site to see if there were any ideas I could swipe. Lucky me, there was this recipe for stuffed squash using 3 of the items on my list, and a handful of other ingredients I had in the house already! Main entree- check. Now a side dish.
I wanted to get some more protein into this vegetarian meal, so I decided to use quinoa, which is not only high in protein, but supplies a complete protein, delivering all 9 essential amino acids. Add the tomatoes and feta to the quinoa as well as a bit of basil from my backyard, and within minutes I had an easy summer salad. Meal plan complete!
6 yellow squash
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp chopped basil*
2 tsp minced garlic*
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup whole wheat panko crumbs
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pyrex dish. Slice squash in half lengthwise. Slice a little off the bottom so that the half will lie flat in the dish. Scrape out seeds.
Heat oil and cook onion and then garlic until soft. Cool. Stir in ricotta cheese, 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into squash shells. Sprinkle tops with remaining Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and more salt & pepper to taste. Bake 25 minutes then broil until tops brown.
*if you use Garlic & Basil Ricotta like I did, then you don’t have to add the garlic and basil!
Summer Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1 cup chicken broth (or water- I prefer the broth as it gives more flavor)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
In a medium pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover and simmer over low heat until all of the broth has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
After cooling, add the tomatoes, basil, and feta. Toss with the quinoa. Serve with baked squash. Serves 4.
Tomorrow morning you’ll find me with tomato juice dripping down my chin at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. It’s time for the Ugly Tomato Festival! In addition to a contest for the Ugliest Tomato in town, the market will also be hosting the city’s largest tomato tasting. A huge variety of locally grown heirloom tomatoes will be free to sample, and I plan to do just that.
Sadly I have no tomatoes to enter in the contest, but can’t wait to see what kind of fuglies show up. Does your garden have anything similar to the mutant shown above? If so, bring it along with you and you just may win some fab prizes! For more details, click here.
Photo Credit: tomato mutant by westerndave
When it comes to food, I have a very short list of dislikes. For many years, slaw was at the top of that list, but not too long ago I began to realize that I shouldn’t just instinctively turn my nose up at the mention of that word.
Definition of cole slaw: a salad dish of shredded raw cabbage in a dressing.
I like cabbage and I like salad, so technically I should like cole slaw, right?
Here’s the problem- when I hear “slaw”, I immediately envision the creamy mayo-laden version. For someone that really detests mayo, that’s not a pleasant sight. You should see how my face kind of scrunches up as I type that. It’s really that unpleasant for me.
Several months ago, a commenter on the Nashville Scene Bites blog mentioned a blue cheese slaw that was always a hit at dinner parties. When I saw that the recipe had not a hint of mayo, I thought, now I can get behind some blue cheesiness. So when tasked with creating a side dish to go along with burgers and hot dogs for a weekend at the lake, I searched through the Bites archives until I found the link to this recipe. Of course, as is the case with pretty much every recipe I try – I tweaked it a bit. The end result was this creation:
Colorful Veggie Slaw
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
freshly ground pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 cup raw snow peas
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese or blue cheese
In a mixing bowl, whisk the olive oil into the mustard until slightly thickened. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the vegetables. Toss to coat all the vegetables. Top with cheese to serve.
The veggies are super crunchy and the dressing is tangy, so I think it’s a perfect dish for our steamy southern summers. It caused quite a sensation at the lake house the weekend it made it’s debut, and since has made several encore appearances at our house. Blue cheese, the ingredient that initially attracted me to the recipe, has been replaced with feta in my last few preparations. Surprisingly, even being a major blue cheese lover, I think I’m digging the feta version even more. But hey, you make the call- either way, I think it will change your mind about slaw- I know it did mine!
Know what you get when you cross a room full of girls with a box of Cupcake Collection cupcakes? Noises that are almost obscene, that’s what.
You should know that I’m not one of those girls that got all caught up in the cupcake craze. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good cupcake, but I also like a rich piece of pecan pie, a really awesome peanut butter cookie, a heavenly tiramisu, an amazing peach cobbler…well, you get the picture.
I’m not going ga-ga over cupcakes just because they’re cute. They have to taste good too. So even though I’ve eaten several cupcakes around town over the past couple of years, I hadn’t yet found one that evoked such an impassioned response. Until now.
My friend Leslie was in town visiting from NYC for a mutual friend’s birthday celebration this weekend, and she was thinking cupcakes would be the icing on the cake to make the party complete. Her mom suggested The Cupcake Collection. Well, actually it was the mere statement that TCC’s strawberry cupcakes were as good as her own strawberry cake that sent Leslie to their doorstep. A cupcake as good as her mom’s homemade cake?
In addition to a dozen decadent cupcakes, Leslie came out of there with tales of long lines and near riots when a fresh batch came out of the oven. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a teeny bit, but there really were enough indicators that before even tasting one, she could tell she had something special in her hands. Our assortment included red velvet, coconut, strawberry, lemonade, wedding cake, banana nut, and several chocolate flavors that I didn’t have the opportunity to try. I’m not even sure I can pick a favorite, but I know I was definitely blown away by the lemonade- the perfect amount of lemon flavor without being too tart. And each of them is the perfect ratio of cake to icing, not to mention that the icing is incredible!
From now on, this may be my new go-to for parties and birthdays when I don’t have time to bake myself. Lucky for me (and you), HalfOffDepot.com currently has $20 gift certificates for only $10. That means over a dozen cupcakes for $10. That’s less than $1 a cupcake! And I know I said I don’t go ga-ga over cuteness, but they are pretty darn cute too….
If you’ve been to a farmers’ market recently, chances are you’ve noticed baskets overflowing with peppers of all sorts, and this is a great way to take advantage of the crop!
Let me tell you- they are scrumptious, and I’m not the only one that thinks so. A sure sign that your dish is as good as you think is when strangers at a party go out of their way to track you down and get the recipe. This weekend I took a tray of these to my friend’s birthday soiree and they were a huge hit- not one, not two, but multiple guests inquired about the ingredients.
Grilled Pepper Poppers
Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 2 peppers). Adapted from Cooking Light.
7 oz soft goat cheese (I used garlic and herb flavored)
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato
2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onions
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/2 tsp kosher salt
16 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded*
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
Combine firsts 7 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. Spoon cheese mixture into each pepper half. Place pepper halves, cheese side up, on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill peppers 5 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned. Carefully pick up peppers with small tongs and place on serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Keep in mind that being jalapenos, these pack a little heat, and although I think the cheese really helps temper it a bit, they may be a smidgen much for some folks. I’m happy to report that the filling works just as well in other small, sweet peppers. Last week a co-worker gave me a big bag of banana peppers, so I experimented with a few of those, and they were definitely a different flavor, but just as good. Actually so good that I ate 4 of them within 5 minutes of taking them off the grill!
*Tip: Wear latex gloves when seeding or chopping hot peppers. You don’t want the oils on your skin or in your eyes- believe me, I’ve had firsthand experience with this, and it’s not pleasant! To remove the gloves after handling, turn them inside out and dispose of them in the trash can, then wash hands thoroughly.