Years ago my friend Lauren passed this recipe along to me after she discovered how delicious it was, and I stuck it in my recipe box where it sat until yesterday. Shame on me for not making it before now, because Lauren is a very wise woman, so of course she was absolutely right about this. She and I both have a weakness for Indian food, and this dish definitely has some Indian flavor to it. Even the hubby who isn’t a big fan of pumpkin thoroughly enjoyed it- even asking for a second bowl! Mmmm, I can’t wait to eat the leftovers this week.

Go ahead, make a big pot and let it warm you on one of the fall or winter nights ahead!


Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Adapted from Rachael Ray, Food Network. Serves 4 -6.


2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
2 cans (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Coarse salt
Fresh ground pepper
20 blades fresh chives, snipped for garnish


Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin. Stir to combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes, add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve garnished with chopped chives.

Venus and Mars may be having the best Halloween Party in Nashville this weekend, or at least the one offering the best in food and cocktails! Their “Peer Through the Looking Glass” Party will include Patterson House hypnotic cocktails ($10 entrance fee includes 2 complimentary potions) and treats from Peace, Love, Tea and The Cupcake Collection. That’s right, no tricks here, only treats- really, really awesome treats!

You may recall my affection for Cupcake Collection and my obsession with Patterson House, but you haven’t yet heard me squawking about Peace, Love, Tea. That’s because they are a very recent discovery – just a few days ago in fact. Yes, they were another wonderful find at the Produce Place Fall Fest! Their Earl Gray Hot Chocolate was fantastic, as were the Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Chai Buttercream Icing I brought home. (The icing was so delicious that I sent out a tweet wishing for a whole vat of it- and they tweeted back saying they could hook me up! Probably shouldn’t take them up on that offer though if I want to keep my girlish figure)

Anyway…these ladies do alot more than hot chocolate and cupcakes- they throw modern tea parties and offer lots of catering options (that look scrumptious by the way), so I’m looking forward to getting to know their products better in the future, and Friday night’s party seems like a good place to start. Wonder what’s on the menu?

Click here to buy tickets in advance for $10 (or pay $15 at the door). Tickets are also available at the Venus and Mars store on Belmont or at Third Man Records. I’ve heard there are limited tickets left, so it might be a good idea to buy yours now!

Friday, October 30th
7 pm – 11 pm
“Peer Through the Looking Glass” Halloween Party
Venus and Mars – The Showroom
2009 Belmont Blvd, Nashville

If you live in Nashville and claim to be any sort of foodie, then you’ve heard of Olive & Sinclair Chocolate. They’ve been the buzz of the Nashville Scene Bites blog for some time, were named “Best Chocolate” in the Scene’s recent Best of Nashville issue, and The Tennessean featured them in an article on local artisans last week.

So exactly what is “Southern Artisan Chocolate”? Their wrapper says it best: “Slow roasted and stone ground in small batches, select single origin beans are combined with pure brown sugar for a smooth and robust flavor that’s unique to Southern Artisan chocolate. Our combination of traditional methods, modern European technique and classic southern flavors make Olive & Sinclair the new old fashioned chocolate.”

For even more details about the company, click on any of the links in my first paragraph to hear how the company got it’s start and what they’re all about. Plenty of others before me have done a good job at covering that stuff.

Today all I’m here to talk about is the ridiculously amazing new chocolate bar they’re launching this week: the Mexican Style Cinnamon Chili (62%). Goodness gracious, just when I was trying to cut back on my chocolate consumption, they go and pull this thing out. And you’ve probably noticed my predilection for spicy things…especially a little sweet-n-heat.

When I stopped by their table at this weekend’s Produce Place Fall Fest I had my sights set on sampling the Salt & Pepper bar I’d heard so much about on Bites. Since I’m already a big fan of the Sea Salt bar, I was pretty sure the Salt & Pepper would win my heart as well. Well, it did, but then they introduced me to it’s hotter cousin and I was at a loss for words. The other bars I could see myself dating, but this one, this one, could make me settle down. I might just want to carry on a long-term monogamous relationship! The rich, intoxicating chocolate soothed me, the warmth of the cinnamon enveloped me, then the chili tickled my throat a tiny bit- ah, such a tease.

For those of you that might be afraid of the hot factor, don’t be. It’s a very, very subtle heat. The cinnamon creates a great balance for the chili flavor, so the combination is truly heavenly.

Deliveries of this new bar should be made to The Produce Place in Sylvan Park this week, so drop in and buy one to try for yourself. Indulge. You deserve it.

Where You Can Find Olive & Sinclair Chocolate:

The Produce Place on Murphy Road
The Green Wagon both locations Five Points & Murphy Rd
The Turnip Truck on Woodland
Imogene + Willie on 12th South
Bongo Java S 11th St/Belmont Blvd
Caldwell Collection Bandywood Dr
Grimeys 8th Ave S
Fido on 21st Ave

Crema downtown Nashville
Marche’ Artisan Foods Main Street East Nashville
Lazzaroli’s Germantown
Whole Foods Green Hills & Cool Springs
Hen Peck Market Franklin

You don’t live in Nashville but would like to purchase? Don’t fret! Just send them an email to

Other Available Olive & Sinclair Chocolates: 67% + Kosher Salt & Cracked Pepper, 75% + Coffee Bean, 67% + Cacao Nibs, 75% + Sea Salt, 67% Ghana/Dominican, 75% Ghana/Dominican

Olive and Sinclair
1404 McGavock Pk
Nashville, TN 37216


It’s apple picking season and even though I’m not one to go tromping through the orchard for them, I’m more than happy to buy a few at the farmers’ market, which is exactly what I did last week.

So what’s the first thing most people think of making with an abundance of apples? Apple Pie, of course. But me, I’m not a big fan of apple pie (I know, that’s almost un-American). And besides that, I don’t really consider myself a baker.

Cooking and baking are two very different creatures. What I love about cooking is that I can get creative, sometimes just throwing a bunch of ingredients together to create a fabulous dish. Or I can take an existing recipe and use it merely as a guideline, making all sorts of modifications to suit my own personal tastes. But not baking. Baking requires a level of precision for things to turn out right; exact measurements are key to the success of the product. Some have likened it to a chemistry experiment. And if you had been in my high school chemistry class, you would never, ever want me to bake anything for you.

But when I saw this cake pop up in my Google Reader, I got pretty excited because- A) it looked scrumptious and B) the final product seemed a bit messy and imperfect. I figured even if I messed it up and it turned out ugly, it would probably still taste pretty awesome. And I was right! Moist and delicious with the perfect caramelization of the sugar and butter….mmmmm….


Iron Skillet Apple Cake

from The Pioneer Woman Cooks


4 small Granny Smith (or other tart) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into six equal slices
1 3/4 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream*
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped finely


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 9 to 10-inch skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar to the pan and stir around, then place apple slices, curved side down, in the pan. Don’t pack them too tightly, but try not to leave overly large gaps. Allow this to cook over medium-low heat while you make the cake batter.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another large bowl using an electric mixer, beat 1 stick of softened butter and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Add sour cream and mix well. Gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in 1 chopped apple.

Remove skillet from heat. Drop the batter in large spoonfuls over the top of the apples as evenly as you can. Then with an offset spatula, carefully spread the batter evenly over the apples without pressing too hard. (The butter will bubble up on top of the batter in spots, and that's okay, because remember, it doesn't have to look perfect). Next, put it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and bubbly.

Now you have two choices- you can serve straight from the skillet, or if you're serving to guests and want a prettier presentation, you can transfer to a cake plate.

Just allow the cake to sit in the skillet for five minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Ta Da!

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream

*I used light sour cream. Not sure that the light sour cream really “lightens” the dish since there are almost 3 sticks of butter, but hey, save calories where you can, right?

My haul from today’s trip to the Nashville Farmers’ Market Harvest Celebration and the Produce Place Fall Fest!

Green Bag Lady FREE bag, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Eggplant, Broccoli, Local Dark Wildflower Honey, Rebekah Grace milk, Sweet Potatoes, Green Peppers, Bobby John Henry Best Baked Goods Roasted Red Pepper Garlic Parmesan Focaccia, Noble Springs Goat Cheese, Olive and Sinclair Sea Salt Chocolate Bar, Peace Love Tea Chocolate Cupcakes with Chai Buttercream

Stayed tuned in the weeks to come for more details on some of these local businesses!

I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of the pretty pumpkins and gourds at the farmers’ market.
I love Fall!

Tomorrow is going to be a fun, food-filled Saturday in Nashville!

I’ve got my plan mapped out and it involves all of the below. If you happen to see me, please ignore the ridiculous grin plastered on my face. These things turn me into a complete nerd!

Produce Place Fall Fest

4000 Murphy Road (Sylvan Park)
9 am – 2 pm

Free samples from all sorts of fabulous local vendors (see list above)

Nashville Farmers’ Market Harvest Celebration
900 Rosa Parks Blvd.

10 am: Shopping with the Chef
Farm Shed 1, Smiley’s
Chef Tiffani Rozier will give tips on how to shop like a chef and use local and in-season produce. Dan from Smiley’s will also answer questions about food from a farmers perspective.

Free seasonal selection from Smiley’s for the first 20 attendees

10:30 am: Late Harvest Sampling
Chef Tiffani will then do a demo using items she chose from the market.
Free sampling (one plate per person)

Ten Thousand Villages Choctoberfest

3900 Hillsboro Pike (Green Hills)
10 am – 6 pm

Free homemade desserts prepared with fair-trade chocolate and recipes for the store’s chocolate selection.

MAFIAoZA’s Italian Fest
2400 12th Ave S
3 pm-10 pm

Food demos, wine tastings, meatball and sauce contest, live music, kids carnival games, AND for you die-hard football fans, they’ll even have the UT vs Bama game on big screens!

See you there~

If you’re out on the “scene” in Nashville very often, chances are you’ve spent some time in at least one of Chris Hyndman’s hot spots. Maybe you’ve munched sushi at Virago, sipped a jalapeno caipirinha on Lime’s patio, or danced the night away at the bygone Layl’a. Me? I’ve done all of the above, more times than I can count. So when I learned of his “M Street” plans for the Gulch, I guess you could say I was more than a little excited.

Earlier this month, the first business in the new dining district, Whiskey Kitchen, opened its doors. Since then, I’ve visited three times, but my first two visits were strictly for liquid sustenance, so I waited to blog until after I’d actually had the opportunity to try the food as well.

That said, I’m still going to talk about the cocktails first. I mean, with a name like Whiskey Kitchen, that’s the proper thing to do, right?

There’s something I need to confess. I’ve turned into somewhat of a cocktail snob. It’s very hard for me to go out to just any bar and order a drink. The mixologists at Patterson House, Rumba, and Lime have ruined me with their unique creations. Now Whiskey Kitchen joins their ranks. It’s obvious they’ve spent some time perfecting the list of libations, and that’s a very, very good thing.

First up is the Maple Manhattan, with Four Roses Bourbon and maple syrup. I’ll admit that in looking at all the offerings on the menu, I’m not sure it would have been my first choice. But sometimes things work out….On this particular evening, my husband disappeared while I talked to some friends on the patio. Before I knew it, he was back with drinks in hand. For a second I was a bit annoyed that I didn’t get to choose for myself, but when he told me that bartender extraordinaire, Austin, chose it for me, my worries disappeared. You see, Austin has spent time behind the bar at all of Chris’ ventures through the years, and he knows what I like. This time was no different. From the description you might think the drink would be too sweet (maple syrup, hello?), but I am happy to report that it’s not. It’s actually a very smooth, pleasant drink that may go down too easy. I could see myself sipping these all night long!

But what kind of a review would that be if I only tried one drink? Instead I moved on to the Amber next: Buffalo Trace Bourbon over ice with cinnamon and autumn strawberries. This was really delightful and you can definitely tell that these are REAL strawberries, not some fake syrup. Next on to the New-Fashioned: Old Forester Bourbon with peach bitters and fresh seasonal fruit. It was also quite good, but of the three, the Maple Manhattan was the favorite of night.

Of course it’s not smart to drink a bunch of cocktails without a little food in my belly, so we ordered a couple of appetizers to begin: yam fries with spicy mustard and fried green tomatoes. Both were delicious and filling, but the standout for me was the tomatoes. Three to an order, served on a bed of arugula with tangy goat cheese, they were totally full of flavor, and I could have easily made a meal out of them. But on this night I was sharing, so sadly, I only got one. Next time, the whole order will be mine!

Since the yam fries and tomatoes put a dent in our hunger, hubs and I decided to split an entrée . Much debate over the main course ended with me ordering something I thought would make him happier than it would me. Turns out, I was pretty happy too. The Carolina Rock Shrimp hit the spot and was the perfect size for sharing.

Fried Green Tomatoes ($7)
(pictured above)
with apple butter, honey pecan goat cheese and country ham tapenade

Tennessee Whiskey Yam Fries ($6)
sweet potato fries in sea salt, brown sugar, hot Jack Daniels mustard dip

Carolina Rock Shrimp & Dip ($12)
crispy rock shrimp and green beans tempura with a trio of dipping sauces

I’ve heard through the grapevine that the brick oven pizzas are really tasty, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big pizza eater. Too much bread in my belly makes for a sleepy girl, and when I’m out on the town to socialize, yawning is no good.

But there are several items on the menu that I can’t wait to try:

Brick Oven Veggie Wrap
fire roasted veggies, Bonnie Blue goat cheese, local arugula, roma tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil

Ahi Tataki Wrap
rare seared tuna, citrus Asian veggie slaw, avocado, Thai peanut-lime sauce

Southern Sliders
a basket of hot buttermilk biscuits with blackberry-peppercorn butter, peach horseradish jam and honey pecan goat cheese. Choose from: steak, grilled chicken, smoked ham or fried green tomatoes
(Okay, so maybe these are a little carb heavy too. I’ll just get them on a night when I’m ready to hit the hay early. They just sound too scrumptious to pass up!)

I have a feeling Whiskey Kitchen will be seeing me often…..

Whiskey Kitchen
118 12th Ave S

On my latest trip to the farmers’ market, I picked up a butternut squash thinking I would make a soup this week, but when I saw this recipe on the Whole Foods website, I just had to try it. If you’re a blue cheese fan like me, then this dish may become a fall dinner favorite. Serve it as a side dish, or even as a first course instead of salad.

In order to make the featured recipe, you first need to roast a butternut squash, so I’m also including the instructions for that. Even though it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, it easily stands on it’s own as a yummy side dish as well. I actually couldn’t resist taking a few nibbles of the little caramelized bites while I prepped the main dish!

Roasted Butternut Squash
adapted from Whole Foods


1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve the squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds.
Cut into big chunks and keep steady on the cutting board while cutting off the peel with a knife.
Cut into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil, salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender and golden brown, about 40 minutes.

(Serves 4 )


Butternut Squash with Wilted Spinach and Blue Cheese

Serves 4. Recipe from Whole Foods.


1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 (5 oz) package baby spinach
4 cups cubed and roasted butternut squash, warmed


Use a fork to mash together blue cheese and lemon juice in a large bowl to make a thick smooth dressing. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook, tossing often, until slightly wilted and warm, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer contents of skillet to bowl with dressing, add squash, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Butternut Squash on Foodista

Photo credits: Butternut Squash by levork
Butternut Squash with Wilted Spinach and Blue Cheese by Whole Foods