Whew. I survived. I just made it through probably the most intense few weeks of work that I’ve ever experienced. There were days that I didn’t know which end was up, and had trouble forming complete sentences because I was so tired. But I made it! There are still plenty of things on the Goo Goo calendar for the rest of the month that will keep me busy, but nothing like the insanity that just passed.
As hectic and exhausting as it all was, it was still so much fun!
I attribute part of the energy I had to get through these last couple of weeks to the constant sugar high I’ve been on after sampling many of the sweet treats from restaurants participating in the Goo Goo dessert promotion.
If you haven’t gotten out and ordered some of these amazing creations, you absolutely must do so before the end of the month! I’ve been able to try at least 15 of the 40+, and let me tell you, there are some absolutely swoon-worthy, to-die-for creations! Check out the Goo Goo Cluster Facebook photo album where I’ve been posting photos. Just be prepared to drool.
In the midst of eating all of the restaurant desserts, I also needed to come up with my own Goo Goo inspired recipe, as last week I was booked for my very first LIVE cooking demo on Channel 5′s morning show, Talk of the Town!
Oddly enough, when Thursday morning rolled around and it was time for me to head over to the station, I wasn’t even nervous. Quite likely this was because I was so crazy busy that I never even had a chance to stop and think about being nervous.
It also helped that the Ooey Gooey Goo Goo Bar recipe I was demonstrating is super, super easy. Plus I got to talk about topics that have consumed my life recently – Goo Goo Clusters and the aforementioned restaurant dessert promo we’ve got happening right now. Want to see for yourself how I handled the segment? Click on over to Talk of the Town’s website to watch the video!
Showcasing some of the restaurant desserts along with my own Ooey Gooey Goo Goo Bars on set.
Back L to R: Flyte’s Clusters Last Stand, Coffee, Lunch.’s Goo Goo Turtle Bars, Prime 108′s Molten Lava Goo Goo Cake
Front L to R: my Ooey Gooey Goo Goo Bars, Cupcake Collection’s Goo Goo Cupcakes
Ooey Gooey Goo Goo Bars
Ooey Gooey Goo Goo Bars
Makes 16-20 bars.
Adapted from Kevin and Amanda
1 18.25 oz box of yellow cake mix
6 Goo Goo Clusters, chopped
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300 and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan. Spread chopped Goo Goo Clusters evenly over the dough.
Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins. Pour on top of Goo Goo Cluster pieces. Bake at 300 for 45-50 minutes until top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.
I may be stating the obvious, but in case you missed the news, Nashville’s own Goo Goo Cluster Original is turning 100 years young in 2012. In fact, October is the official celebration month!
If you’ve read my bio, then you already know I’m the Senior Marketing Manager for Goo Goo Cluster. For the past few months I’ve been completely immersed in planning events, activities, and giveaways to ensure that the centennial is a Goo-Gantuan success!
But, like any good mom, I want to make sure the younger siblings are never left out.
The Goo Goo Supreme, born in 1982, lives up to its name by featuring fancy pecans. While the Peanut Butter Goo Goo, born in 1991, is the rambunctious baby of the family and has the irresistible combo of real milk chocolate, peanut butter, and peanuts. And, oh yeah, both share the Original’s inherent Southern Sass!
While these younger flavors may not receive as much attention as their big brother, they are just as delicious, and I’m sure you’ll agree, are equally worthy of our undying affection.
So if you’re out shopping and see one of these Goo Goo treats, let’s help them feel the love and buy one. You can thank me later!
Peanut Butter Goo Goo Brownies
But there are some others you should be thanking too. Namely, my friend Amanda and my friend Leah.
Amanda made some insane Peanut Butter Goo Goo Cluster Brownies for the SFA Potluck a few weeks ago and let me tell you, they may just be the best brownies ever! To get the recipe, hop on over to her blog.
And then Leah. Dear Leah. I found a recipe for Goo Goo Supreme Cupcakes on her blog many moons ago. She was baking with Goo Goos before it became cool to bake with Goo Goos! Leah knows what’s up.
C’mon, you know you wanna do it. Go bake one of these recipes. Or heck, BOTH of them. Then blame it on the older one. He’s 100. All’s forgiven when you’re that age, right?
Goo Goo Supreme Cupcakes (photo credit: Leah of So How’s It Taste?)
My CSA share has produced several eggplants in the last few weeks and I was stumped by what to do with them all. One of the best recipes I’ve found to date is this Eggplant Parmesan.
But (here I go sounding like a broken record), I don’t have much time to cook these days. And that dish takes too much time. Anything that requires several steps in the prep process doesn’t get a moment’s consideration from me right now. I need easy. I need fairly quick.
Enter this recipe.
A call out to the Twitterverse for new ways to use eggplant resulted in my friend Jen sharing a link to a Bon Appetit dish. The original recipe made what seemed to be enough to feed an army, so I cut way back since I only have to feed a party of two. I also made a few other adjustments to the ingredients, but luckily I didn’t screw up the deliciousness of the dish along the way!
Even though it takes a little while to bake, overall the prep is pretty simple and painless. Served with a side salad, this is a very filling, meatless comfort meal that is sure to show up at our house quite often from here on out.
Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Saffron Rice Bake
Serves 4. Adapted from Bon Appetit.
1 Tbsp + 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup arborio rice
Pinch of saffron
1/8 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups store-bought marinara, divided
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
Preheat oven to 425°. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Stir in saffron, then wine. Cook until wine reduces slightly, about 1 minute. Add broth; season with salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until rice is very al dente and still crunchy, about 8 minutes; remove pan from heat.
Meanwhile, arrange eggplant on rimmed baking sheet, overlapping slightly. Drizzle 1/2 cup olive oil over; season with salt and pepper. Bake, turning eggplant halfway through, until tender and golden brown, 20–25 minutes.
Cover the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 1 cup tomato sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella over, then 1/3 of Parmesan.
Cover with a layer of eggplant rounds. Add saffron rice, spreading out in an even layer. Sprinkle over another 1/3 each of mozzarella and Parmesan, then 1/2 of the remaining tomato sauce and another layer of eggplant. Top with remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover dish with foil.
Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Uncover dish and bake until golden on top, about 20 minutes longer. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to set before serving.
Signage for participating restaurants- be on the lookout this month!
Remember how I said I’d been really busy with work and I’d soon be telling you all about what I’ve been doing? Well, I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce one of the big projects that has kept me occupied for the last few weeks!
For the entire month of October, over 40 Nashville restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and bakeries will be wishing Goo Goo Cluster a Happy 100th by creating and serving a dessert inspired by the candy.
I personally delivered a case of Goo Goo Clusters to every single one of those restaurants in a two week span of time. Every. Single. One. Whew.
Biscuit Love’s “The Howell Campbell” bonuts – fried biscuit dough filled with marshmallow cream, rolled in peanut butter dust, drizzled with caramel and served with chocolate gravy
But I really can’t complain, because I’ve already started reaping the rewards of all of that hard labor.
Yes, I’m talking about sampling. I’m trying not to think too much about the pounds I’m likely going to pack on this October. Goo Goo Cluster only turns 100 once, so I’m going to live it up. Bring on the chocolate, caramel, marshmallow and peanuts!
I’m sharing some photos with you today of just a few of the amazing dessert creations I’ve been fortunate enough to taste so far. Decadent, delicious, incredible, heavenly, ridiculous – those are just a few of the adjectives I found myself uttering aloud as I savored each of these desserts. Wow. You guys are in for a real treat.
F Scott’s peanut butter and Goo Goo Cluster tart with Benton’s bacon, marshmallow meringue, graham cracker crust
For a full alphabetical list of participating restaurants and links to their websites, you can visit the Goo Goo blog. Since I had to run all over town delivering to these places, my personal list is sorted by area of town (yes, I’m anal like that), so I thought that might be helpful for you as well!
Smoke Et Al
Hit & Miss Ice Cream
The Sportsgrille at the Hilton
Prime 108 at Union Station
The Cupcake Collection
Pied Piper Creamery
The Ultimate Goo Goo Gift from Nero’s Grill – puff pastry filled
with crushed Goo Goo pieces, accompanied by drizzle of caramel, chocolate, and
fresh whipped cream
Green Hills/Hillsboro Village/Sylvan Park
The Painted Cupcake
Turnip Truck Urban Fare
Goo Goo Pie at Bound’ry – Chocolate cookie crust, chocolate nougat, salted caramel, peanuts, marshmallow cream, raspberry sauce
The Wild Hare
Fido’s “Cuckoo for Goo Goo” Cheesecake – cheesecake with coffee, caramel, goo goo cluster, graham cracker crust, and toasted marshmallow topping
The dessert celebration is among the many events scheduled to commemorate a century of Goo Goo Cluster. Additional events will include the Goo Goo Cluster Jog ‘n Hog, The Great Goo Goo Scavenger Hunt, online contests, and appearances at Nashville area events. Visit googoo.com for more details.
If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ve seen mention of my buddy Chris more than a few times. When I first met Chris, he was in the printing business and I was in the publishing business. At the time he was also (and still is) writing for the Nashville Scene Bites Blog. I was a frequent commenter on Bites, and had just recently started my own little food blog.
My, how times have changed!
Chris took the plunge to become a full time writer a while back, and I made a career jump to become the Senior Marketing Manager at Goo Goo Cluster. Now we are both fully immersed in the food world 24/7, which, if you love food and drink as much as we both do, is a very good thing.
While I was birthing a baby and adjusting to motherhood these past few months, Chris was also busy giving birth to his own “baby” – his first published book!
Chris’ The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat In The South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous) is my kind of read.
Part travel book, part cookbook, part food porn, it explores foods in the South beyond fried chicken, grits, and cornbread. Don’t misunderstand, those are definitely in there too, but right alongside dishes like Flaming Butterscotch Bourbon Creme Brulee, Creole Eggplant, Foraged Mushroom Gratin and Roasted Heirloom Pumpkin with Mulled Sorghum Glaze.
Roasted Heirloom Pumpkin with Mulled Sorghum Glaze from Nashville’s own Capitol Grille
If I could, I would hop into my car and road trip across the South to a good chunk of the restaurants featured in this book. But, since I can’t exactly drop everything and do that, I’ll do the next best thing – make some of these incredible sounding recipes!
Country Ham Fritters from Proof in Louisville are speaking to me…..
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could get an actual taste of this cookbook before purchasing? Well, guess what? You can! Meet Chris in person and taste some of the recipes straight from the pages of The Southern Foodie at Chef’s Market in Goodlettesville.
Book Signing and Guest Chef Appearance with Chris Chamberlain, author of The Southern Foodie
Thursday, October 4th, 5-8 pm
900 Conference Drive
Goodlettsville, TN 37072
Recipes from The Southern Foodie that will be featured at Chef’s Market October 4th-6th:
Pecan Chicken in Bourbon-Maple-Mustard Cream Sauce from Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, Kentucky
Sweet-Tea-Brined Pork Chop with Ginger-Blackberry preserves from 29 South, Florida
Red Beans and Rice and Sausage from Lasyone’s, Louisiana
There will be copies of The Southern Foodie on hand to purchase and have Chris sign, but if you can’t make it to Chef’s Market, you can purchase the book on Amazon or locally here in Nashville at Parnassus Books.
Last year I did a roundup of my favorite Nashville coffee shops. It’s a great list, but now there’s a new player in town that I definitely can’t leave out: Barista Parlor.
Once again East Nashville scores a cool new spot. And when I say cool, I really mean it. From the second you pull up to the building, you’ll know exactly what I’m saying. A visually stunning exterior immediately had me excited for what was in store.
Of course, as our mamas taught us, it’s what’s inside that matters. And the inside definitely does not disappoint. This is a real coffee house with baristas who are passionate about coffee.
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert when it comes to coffee, but I know when the stuff is good and when it’s not. And this stuff is GOOD.
Barista Parlor is a place to go and hang with friends while you leisurely sip a lovely cup of joe. It’s not a place that you rush into and out of because you need a shot of caffeine to keep your eyes open. This is about savoring the moment. Lingering. Enjoying.
And because I’m at the point in my life that these things matter, I should also mention that they’re family friendly! When I was there, there were at least 3 toddlers hanging out with their parents, and no one seemed to mind one bit.
In addition to their interesting selection of coffees, they also have a breakfast menu featuring Porter Road Butcher, The Bloomy Rind, Dozen Bakery, and Foxy Baking.
And that’s not all – follow them on Twitter and Like their Facebook page to see the specials they run from time to time. Recently they’ve been serving up Hot Chicken and Waffles and Porter Road Butcher smoked pulled pork sliders with local pear compote and house-made pickles. Judging by the quality of the coffee, I have no doubt that the food is incredible as well!
519B Gallatin Ave
Nashville, TN 37206
Mon-Fri 7 am – 6 pm
Sat-Sun 8 am – 6 pm
Brunch in East Nashville
While I’m on the subject of coffee & breakfast food, I thought I should mention some of my favorite spots for brunching in Nashville. I often get asked by readers where they should go for brunch, and 9 times out of 10 I find myself pointing people to East Nashville.
Recently I wrote a piece about all of these places for Style Blueprint, so head over there to read about them in detail.
Marche’s Cheese Plate with their incredible, I-have-died-and-gone-to-heaven Tomato Jam
Marché Artisan Foods
1000 Main Street
Nashville, TN 37206
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Note: you can also get breakfast Tues – Fri from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Mad Donna’s Crab Cake Benny
1313 Woodland Street
Nashville, TN 37206
Brunch Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Sky Blue Cafe’s Nutella and Banana Stuffed French Toast Pancakes
Sky Blue Cafe
700 Fatherland Street
Nashville, TN 37206
Breakfast served Mon-Sun 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tomato Tart at Margot
1017 Woodland Street
Nashville, TN 37206
Brunch Sunday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Lately, and in the weeks to come, you guys may notice that I’m not posting as much here on the blog or spending too much time on Twitter. The reason? I’m all wrapped up in prep work for the big 100th anniversary celebration of Goo Goo Cluster in October!
There are going to be lots of fun happenings and events to commemorate the centennial, all of which I’ll be telling you about in due time.
Today, it’s the Goo Goo Clusters Jog n Hog!
Run, eat, run. Or jog, munch, jog. Or heck, even — walk, nibble, walk. We don’t care how you do it, we just want you to have fun while you’re doing it!
Here’s how it works: Runners will jog 1.5 miles through Shelby Park, stop at the eating station for a bag of 6 Goo Goo Clusters, and then jog 1.5 miles back to the starting line. I know what you’re thinking – 6 Goo Goo Clusters????
Of course, I’m hoping we’ll discover the next Sonya Thomas or Takeru Kobayashi, but for all the rest of you, there is no need to worry, no one is going to be force feeding clusters into your mouth! You can finish as many or few as you like. Again, it’s all in fun!
What: Goo Goo Clusters Jog n Hog
When: Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8:30 a.m.
Where: Shelby Park
How Much: $40
Of course, for my special blog readers, I’ve got a discount for you! Get $5 off the race price by using code “JOGNHOGBLOG” on your entry form.
All runners will receive a unique race t-shirt and a commemorative “Hog Tag” and the very lucky person that grabs the bag with the “Golden Goo Goo” will receive a $100 gift certificate for the Goo Goo online store!
Open to everyone age 10 and up. Hurry, go ahead and sign up now at www.jognhog.com, because registration closes on October 7th at midnight!
This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where I have a monthly feature in the Taste section!
Cheese, Glorious Cheese
Cheese has the power to lift us up, transport us to another time and place. It’s a comfort food and a celebration food.
Most of us have some sort of childhood memory involving a cold winter day, a sniffly nose, our mom, and an ooey gooey grilled cheese served with a steaming bowl of tomato soup. Perhaps there were times that you were rewarded with a great big cheesy pizza for a good grade, or maybe even went out for cheeseburgers after winning a ball game.
Some of the best meals of my adult life – an amazing mac & cheese made with a nutty gruyere, a creamy mushroom risotto with Parmesan cheese, an incredible tomato tart with fromage blanc – have involved cheese.
But while I love cheese as an ingredient in a dish, I also love it all by its lonesome.
Ah, cheese, glorious cheese. There are stinky cheeses, nutty cheeses, sour cheeses, and salty cheeses. There are soft cheeses and there are grainy, crumbly cheeses. There are assertive cheeses and there are mild cheeses. There are white cheeses, yellow cheeses and blue cheeses. There are single, double, and triple cream cheeses.
Shall I go on?
It can all be a bit confusing. Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the gourmet cheese counter feeling intimidated or overwhelmed? I know I have.
With so many shapes, sizes, and labels in front of us, how is a person (especially a person who grew up eating Kraft singles) supposed to make a decision? In my wise old age, I’ve figured out the answer:
Seriously, let your mouth be your guide! In order to do that, you need to first find a cheese shop/counter with a knowledgeable staff that can help guide you in the right direction. Then, every time you have the opportunity, sample a new cheese. You never know what you might discover!
Because I’m a pretty adventurous “taster”, one of my favorites now includes Barely Buzzed, a cheese whose rind is rubbed with a blend of espresso coffee and lavender. Sounds weird, right? But it really, truly, works! If you want to see for yourself, or try a variety of other interesting cheeses, go visit my friend Kathleen at The Bloomy Rind, an artisan cheese counter located inside Porter Road Butcher in East Nashville.
Over time I’ve also developed a real fondness for blue cheeses, with two of my favorites coming from just up the road at Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Barren County, Kentucky. For folks that like more assertive flavors, their pungent Kentucky Bleu is perfect, and for those that want something that’s not quite so in-your-face, their lighter Kentucky Rose is heavenly.
Are you taste buds tingling now? Well, it just so happens that you’re in luck, as there are two great opportunities on the horizon for you to get your fill of all sorts of glorious cheeses!
Wednesday, September 19th
New Belgium Beer & Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese Tasting
Turnip Truck Urban Fair – Gulch
321 12th Ave S
Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese will be serving up samples of their Norwood, Kentucky Rose, St. Jerome, Aged Cheddar, Gouda, and a few other interesting flavors to pair with New Belgium’s beer selections.
This event is free and open to the public; no registration necessary.
Saturday, October 6th
3:30 – 7 pm
Southern Artisan Cheese Festival
Nashville Farmers’ Market
900 Rosa Parks Blvd
The 2nd Annual Southern Artisan Cheese Festival brings more than 20 regional cheesemakers and food artisans from all over the Southeast. Attendees will sample more than 150 cheeses, wines, craft beers, and artisan foods that go well with cheese such as crackers, spreads, jams, honey, cured meats, pickles and much more.
Festival tickets are $44 each. For more information on the festival, the VIP package option, and a complete list of participating vendors, visit www.southerncheesefest.com