Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bella Napoli



Tucked in the quaint Edgehill Village lies a plethora of fun, unique restaurants, one of which is Bella Napoli.  This Italian treasure, whose chef also creates delicious delicacies at Valentino's, is exactly the type place I want when that undeniable craving hits for pasta, pizza and all things Italian!  Dining al fresco on the patio, sipping on sangria, wine or your choice of libation is only part of what makes this place special.  I ate here for the first time in the spring and have been wanting to go back ever since so when my dear friend Lucy suggested we find an inexpensive place to grab dinner I was thrilled when she suggested Bella Napoli!  Try the pizza, try the gnocchi, sip the sangria and enjoy the ambiance because for a brief moment you will not realize you are only seconds from Music Row, the Italian psyche will grab you and you will be transported to Southern Italy if only for just an hour!


 
Bruchetta
Caprese Salad
 
Sorrentino Pizza

Parma Pizza

YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Whiskey Kitchen


118 12th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203

Pulsing somewhere between a favorite neighborhood restaurant and a thriving specialty bar beats the essence of Whiskey Kitchen.  Located on 12 South in the Gulch, this lively, relatively new restaurant reveals the new direction and fresh ideas that encapsulate modern dining in Nashville.  Offering Southern favorites such as shrimp and grits and homemade mac 'n cheese along with fish tacos (which my father claims are the best in Nashville) and pizza's that make you wish they delivered at 3 a.m., this local favorite truly has a little something for everyone.   And if the food weren't enough to make you want to come back (though it will) the service is some of the best in town!

If your goal is not to eat, but rather to drink your dinner then you are also in luck as this could be one of the most extensive whiskey bars in this bourbon soaked region of our country!  With knowledgeable bartenders offering liquor drinks of all kind, whiskeys that need to be mixed with nothing more than a block of ice and enough wine and beer to please the consummate wino's (L, you know who you are) and beer connoisseur, Whiskey Kitchen is nothing if not an awesome bar!

Nachos Nirvana with Chicken and Chili
 
Jalapeño Fried Pickles
WK House Wedge 
WK Hot Chicken
Margherita Pizza
Blackened Blues Wrap
Rocket Salad

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Mushrooms Stuffed with Brie - The Pioneer Woman



As I have mentioned before, I LOVE STUFFED MUSHROOMS!!!!!  It doesn't matter what's in them, I love them!  Since I have become a little obsessed with The Pioneer Woman's blog (and it seems she loves them just as much as I do) I have been able to get some really great recipes from her that I had not thought of before!  After trying the French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms the other day we knew that we couldn't go wrong if we tried another of these enticing recipes so for Sunday dinner here is what we made....

Mushrooms Stuffed with Brie

1 package White Button Mushrooms, Washed And Stems Removed
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
4 whole (to 5) Green Onions, Sliced (up To Middle Of Dark Green Part)
Splash Of White Wine (optional)
1 slice (wedge) Of Brie Cheese
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Melt butter in large saucepan. Add mushroom caps and toss to coat in butter.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan and place upside down in a baking dish.  In the same saucepan (without cleaning it) throw in garlic, parsley, and green onions. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and splash in wine, if using. Stir around until wine evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.  Cut rind off of brie wedge, then cut pieces of brie to fit each mushroom cap. 

Place inside, lightly pressing to anchor each piece of brie.  Top mushrooms with parsley/garlic mixture.  Place into the oven for 15 minutes, or until brie is melted.  Note: mushrooms are best when they've been allowed to cool slightly. Delicious

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Veal Marsala with Mushrooms


Here is another one of those old family recipes that we have had for years!  It seems that it has been a long time since we have had it but it is definitely a favorite either way!  The great thing about this recipe is that if you aren't a big vela fan (I must admit it isn't my favorite meat though I am not likely to pass it up) you can easily substitute the veal for chicken if you want and it is just as delicious and tasty! 

Veal Marsala with Mushrooms

1 pound veal scallops
flour
salt and pepper
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 bunches scallions, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups (ish) or marsala (or red)
1 can beef consumme
1 can beef broth
Parsley, minced

Pound the scallops between two sheets of waxed paper until very thin, about 1/8-inch.  Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess.   
In a skillet, saute scallops in half of the garlic and olive oil over  high heat until brown on both sides and transfer to a dish.  Add remaining butter to skillet and cook the mushrooms, scallions and garlic over moderate heat for about 3 minutes.  

Transfer mixtre to dish and add to the skillet the marsala, beef broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil.   Return veal and mushrooms to skillet and simmer for ten minutes.  Serve with noodles and sprinkle with mince parsley. 
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eggs Benedict

I posted this recipe several months ago as I sat on my screened in porch and overlooked my now seeming enormous backyard.  Today, on a lovely Wednesday of Spring Break, my friend and I sit on my front stoop and enjoy this same dish, with just a little different view....still tastes AMAZING!


There is nothing more to say about this except that it is delicious!  This is my all time favorite breakfast...in fact if it is on the menu I can't bring myself to order anything else!  I finally had the courage to try it at home and it was incredible!!

Eggs Benedict
8 eggs
4 English muffins, cut in half
8 slices Canadian Bacon
Hollandaise Sauce*
Paprika

* Since the Hollandaise sauce I previously tried made a little too much than what I needed and only worked for me half of the time I decided to try another recipe I found on the blog The South in My Mouth.  I think the main key is to make sure the egg yolks are at room temperature and the butter is piping hot.  Here is the recipe:


*Pam Koban's Hollandaise
3 egg yolks at room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and hot



Blend together the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper in a blender. With the blender still running, slowly stream in the hot, melted butter.  Let blend in the blender for one minute to allow it to thicken

On a cookie sheet lay out the English muffin halves and Canadian bacon.  
Lightly butter the muffins.  

Place under the broiler until the muffins are light brown.  
Make sure not to dry out the bacon.  

Fill a poaching pan up to the fill line on the cups.  
Pour in a teaspoon of vinegar and bring water to a simmer.  

Note: I must first thank Trish Simpson for a lovely poaching pan which is my new favorite kitchen item!  On the back of the box were wonderful directions to how to poach the perfect egg and that is precisely what I did...
Add eggs, one at a time, to each cup.  Cook 3-5 minutes depending on preference (I did 5 minutes and it was perfect).  Remove egg from individual cup and layer the Canadian bacon, poached egg and hollandaise on top of the English muffin.  Sprinkle paprika on top of each.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Peach-Whiskey Barbecue Chicken


Here is another recipe from ThePioneerWoman.com that I absolutely love!!!  Any time I can find a new way to cook chicken I am a happy girl.  Since there were only four of us for dinner this particular night we decided not to use the quantities listed but the great thing was that it was no hassle to half!  This recipe really needs no introduction as it can plainly speak for itself.  I strongly recommend taking a look at the Pioneer Woman's blog as there are ample recipes that will fit any occasion from a summer supper, a mid-week meal or a dinner party for 25!

Peach-Whiskey Barbecue Chicken
12 whole Chicken Thighs, Bone-in, Skin-on
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Yellow Onion, Diced
1-½ cup Whiskey
12 ounces, fluid Barbecue Sauce
1 jar Peach Preserves
½ cups Water
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
4 cloves Garlic, Peeled
3 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.   Place chicken thighs, four at a time, in the pot, skin side down.  Brown both sides, then remove to a plate and repeat until all chicken is browned.  Pour off half the grease, then return pan to stove. Add onions to pan and stir, cooking for 2 minutes.  Pour whiskey into the pot, being very careful if you’re using an open flame.  Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, allowing whiskey to reduce for a minute or two.  Pour in barbecue sauce, peach preserves, water, and Worcestershire sauce. 

Throw in garlic cloves. Stir until combined, then return chicken to the pot, skin side up. 
Cover and put pot in oven.

Cook for 1 1/2 hours, then remove from oven.

Serve pieces of chicken over a big pile of smashed potatoes. Sprinkle sliced green onions over the top.   
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French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushooms - Pioneer Woman


For years I have heard about The Pioneer Woman's blog but have never really taken the time to subscribe until just recently.  A friend of mine at work came in one day raving about the recipes, the writing, and the photography included on this blog and just knew it was something I would love.  Well I quickly went on her blog and was hooked!  Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) makes everything from cooking Thanksgiving dinner, to herding cattle, to taking breath-taking photos of a western sunset all seem within our reach.  Her writing style is like having a conversation in the kitchen with your best friend over a cocktail and the stove.  She says everythign we all think, she makes the dishes we all crave, she includes all aspects of daily life into a blog that is now a staple in my daily reading!  This is the first (of soon to be many) of her recipes that I have tried and it was AMAZING!!!  


French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushooms
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 whole Large Onions, Halved And Sliced Thin
¼ cups Beef Broth
7 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
Splash Of Red Or White Wine
½ cups Grated Gruyere Cheese (can Use Swiss)
Kosher Salt
24 whole White Or Crimini Mushrooms, Washed And Stems Removed
Minced Parsley

In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft. Splash in wine, broth, and Worcestershire. 

Cook for another 5 minutes, or until liquid is cooked down. Set aside.


Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in mushrooms and toss around for 2 minutes, just to start the cooking process. 

Sprinkle mushrooms with salt.

Place mushroom caps face down in a baking dish. 

Heap cavity with sauteed mushrooms, then sprinkle Gruyere over the top. Bake at 10 minutes on 325 degrees. Turn on broiler and broil for a couple of minutes, until the top of the Gruyere starts to bubble and slightly turn brown.

Sprinkle minced parsley over the top and serve

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pesto Pasta with Mozzarella and Tomatos


While the menu for our Annual End of Summer Party I had a thought for a side....I had recently harvested all of my basil and made copious amounts of basil aioli and pesto.  I have had a pesto pasta salad before at Food & Co. in Green Hills which I love and thought I could recreate that in my own way!  So I pulled out the pesto, got myself my favorite kind of pasta and dumped a few more toppings in as well.  Here is what I came up with...

Ruthie's Pesto Pasta Salad
1 pound bow tie pasta, cooked a little bit more than al dente
2 heaping tablespoons of homemade pesto
1/4 cup pasta water
1 container small mozzarella balls
1 package cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta for 11-13 minutes.  Before draining the pasta, retain at least a half a cup of the pasta water.  Drain pasta well.  Return pasta to the pot in which it was cooked (removing it from the heat) and add the pesto.  Stir to combine.  Add the pasta water until it is creamy (between 1/4 to 1/2 cup).  

This will keep the pasta and pesto from drying out without having to add any more oil.  At this point you can let the pasta sit in the fridge until you are ready to serve.  Just before serving, add the tomatoes and mozzarella.  Toss to coat with pesto.  Serve immediately.

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Buffalo Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers


The best part about this recipe is that I am a total wimp when it comes to hot and spicy, but I know so many of my friends love it so I keep trying to find recipes that will push their limits while keeping a safe distance myself!  In the late summer my jalapeños have absolutely being thriving!  I have more than I could ever manage to eat so for this year's End of Summer Party I thought I would try something new.  I did a little research, found some recipes I thought would be good and decided to combine a few of my friends favorites....buffalo sauce and jalapeño peppers!  Though there were mixed reviews as to weather the flavor was worth the heat, the entertainment it brought was well worth the price of admission!

Ruthie's Buffalo Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers
large jalapeno peppers (I used around 20)
1 block cream cheese cream cheese
1/2 cup of your favorite Buffalo Sauce
Cut the tops off of the jalapeno peppers and core them using a knife or pepper corer.  In a sauce pan, combine cream cheese and Buffalo sauce.

Stuff each jalapeno pepper with cream cheese mixture, until full. The amount will vary by the size of the jalapeno.  I have found that dumping the cream cheese mixture into a large ziplock bag and clipping one corner of the bag works best to squirt the cream cheese into the peppers (though be warned, this can get kind of messy).

Let sit in the fridge for several hours to reset the cream cheese and then bake the jalapeno poppers for 20-30 minutes instead at 375 degrees.  If you can manage to get the peppers to stand up straight that is best, whether by using popper stands or aluminum foil.

Serve with a side of beer or milk....your friends are going to need it!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cabana



One of my favorite aspects of the restaurants in Nashville is that there doesn't seem to be a night of the week where one can't find a special of some sort!  Whether it be two-for-one drinks, 25% of entrees, or two-for-one pizzas, there is typically something somewhere, it is just a matter of finding all of these places and deals.  One such deal is Cabana on Monday nights.  It was two-for-one pizza, two-for-one Yazoo and Bud Light draft beer preceded by the happy hour which they do every day from 4:00 to 7:00.  Such an amazing deal made Cabana the perfect spot for nine girls to gather for a "Welcome to Nashville" dinner for Kaylee Osland!  It was ball getting to know some of Kaylee's friends.  They were fun, young, energetic, all of which seems to be the personality of Cabana's patrons!  Such a trendy open atmosphere lends itself well to cocktail hour while the separate "cabana's" allow for an intimate dining experience among friends (complete with your very own TV and iPod hookup).  With such an amazing deal on their delicious pizzas that is what most of us ordered but to see their full menu simply visit their website here











Welcome to Nashville Kaylee!  We are all thrilled to have you here!



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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Road to One Mile


Have you ever met someone who became such a dear friend that you could simply not imagine your life without them?  Well in the past few years my friend Amber has become one of those people in my life.  Her zest for life, optimism in everyone and everything, her faith in the goodness of people and her willingness to allow herself to be completely vulnerable is what makes her truly one of the most remarkable people I have ever met.  I count my blessing that her life's path brought her to Nashville and into our family of friends.  Recently we had a conversation about running that could have possibly changed my life even if just a little bit. Over the last year or so she has become an avid runner, completing the half marathon in Nashville and full marathon in Las Vegas.  Such lofty achievements really seemed out of my reach but the more we got to talking the more she convinced me that there truly is "a runner inside all of us".  As enthusiastic and supportive as she was, how could I tell her that I simply couldn't run?  After much thought and prayer on the matter, I thought it was time for this power walker to become a runner!  She gave me all the information she had started with and sent me on my way to Fleet Feet in Brentwood to be fitted with good running shoes (evidently this is a very important factor).  On my way to getting my new kicks I talked to my best friend, Nicoll.  Having just completed the half marathon herself this past spring, she was nothing but more support and motivation.  She promised me runs in the park, 5Ks we could do together and an open ear and words of advice should I ever need them!  With so much love and excitement behind what is essentially me getting over a fear of running, I felt I could really do anything so I trotted myself into the store and my journey truly began!

After being fitted by Tracey at FleetFeet I was well on my way to a new era....the running days of my life!  My biggest regret after I purchased my shoes was not buyers remorse, but rather that I had already showered and had too much to do that day to shower again but alas Monday came and my new work out routine began!  I started with a small goal, to just be able to run one mile by October (I have never in my life been able to run a mile without walking...simply put I have never been chased by a pack of rabid dogs for that long and that could be the only thing that could have made that happen). So here is my story of the road to one mile.....

Monday, August 15, 2011 - Day 1:
Today was the first day of my running/walking regiment.  I walked 3 minutes and ran 1 minute.  To my surprise it was the walking minutes that seemed to take so much longer (not to point out the obvious but I thought they would fly by and the running portion would be torture, boy was I wrong!).  Every time I ran I felt I could breath easier, but still my legs felt a little heavy....hoping that will go away with more training!  Each running minute seemed to fly by but when I pushed myself to running a minute and a half I realized there is a reason for incremental training....small steps make the goal that much more attainable!  Stay tuned for more of my running adventure!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - Day 2:
This morning I got up ready to go (as much as one can be at 5:30 in the morning) and excited about seeing how far I could go today.  Since I made the decision to try to run a mile so many people have been incredibly supportive, offering my advice on what worked for them, different things to try,websites to reference, the list really goes on and on....even my neighbor who I pass every morning while she runs stopped me this morning to offer her encouragement and tell me about what had worked for her when she started running 8 years ago!  People are honestly good and only want to help....that is so refreshing to be reminded of sometimes!

Some of the best advice I have gotten is that running really requires that you listen to your body.  Running for 1 minute doesn't mean you have to sprint for a minute.  Find your own pace and go with it.  Sometimes it may not be much more than walking but your posture is changing, you are using different muscles and your heart rate is different when you run.  Another piece of advice I have found is great is that if you can push yourself a little longer, just try.  My friend, Mary Morgan, said that when she started interval running she wouldn't stop until the car that had passed her was out of sight so they wouldn't know she had stopped.  I thought that was hysterical but tried it this morning and without realizing it had run 3 straight minutes...a true feat for me in my quest for one mile!  So today I ran 3 minutes and walked three minutes, though I threw in a couple shorter runs doing one two minute and one 1 minute run.  All in all I am feeling really good about my October goal!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - Day 3
I have found that the first running interval seems to be the easiest so it is when I really push myself to stretch the time.  I have to make rules for myself like if I check my watch and a new minute has started, then I have to keep running until that minute is over, if a car passes me I won't stop until they are out of sight and if my body tells me that one minute running is enough, then I only run for one minute!  This morning I ran for 4 straight minutes and was convinced for a brief period that I must have counted wrong because there was no way I could have done that so easily!  Most of my running intervals this morning were 3 minutes, with one 1 minute run thrown in there but it felt great and as I stood in my backyard upon my return stretching every muscle in my legs I realized that I no longer was sore, my back no longer ached, my legs no longer shook and I thought it wasn't the bed that was the cure to my soreness, it was getting back out there and running some more!

Thursday, August 18, 2011 - Day 4
After a handful of Advil yesterday afternoon and a couple glasses of wine with dinner my muscles were relaxing and my back was no longer throbbing!  This morning as I put my feet on the floor I was pleased to realize that my legs no longer shook, I could stand up straight without any pain in my back and I was ready once more to venture out for my morning run/walk.  I start each morning walking and as I approached my run I wondered if I was going to be able to do 4 minutes again like I did yesterday and this morning I surprised even myself....I ran for 5 minutes!!!! I am thrilled with the progress I am making and even more hopeful that a mile run is not simply dream but rather a future reality!

Friday, August 19, 2011 - Day 5
Today I ran 6 straight minutes and was surprised at the end when I really felt like I could have kept going!!! My running is definitely getting easier and my intervals are getting longer and longer.  I plan on taking the weekend off for our Annual End of Summer Party and hoping I don't regret that decision on Monday...stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - Day 7
After taking the weekend off for some end of the summer fun, Monday arrived and I wondered how easily I was going to be able to run.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to run 7 minutes without feeling like I was going to die....one of the million benefits to being a non-smoker for the past (almost) 4 years!  After I finished the 7 minutes I realized that my goal of 1 mile was not too far off....the finish line was within sight!!!!  Though my later running intervals were a little more of a struggle I was not deterred, I was making progress!

This morning when I woke up and thought about an 8 minute run I was a little bit intimidated by the daunting task at hand!  With each minute that I accomplish I am amazed by the thought that if someone had told me, as Amber had, not too long ago, that I would be running close to 10 minutes straight I would have absolutely laughed in their face.  To my pleasant surprise the 8 minutes was not as painful as I expected and I realized that the goal is within reach and I couldn't be more thrilled!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - Day 8
Well I must be the most stubborn person I have ever met because today I reach a goal that I can only equate to when I quit smoking.  Something I didn't think I even had the motivation to do (not to mention didn't think I could do) just weeks ago was achieved today!  I RAN A MILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I was set to run 9 minutes today and woke wondering how hard it would truly be.  As I was running and in minute 6 I miscalculated and thought I only had two minutes left (give me a break, it was 6 in the morning) and when I realized my mistake, I became discouraged, wondering if I was really going to be able to add my minute today.  It was like when I was a child an we would be on a family road trip and (as the normal kid with a tiny bladder) I would constantly be asking when we were going to stop again to which the answer was always "15 minutes".  Well I felt like there were two minutes left, two minutes ago...if that makes any sense!  As I came close to finishing minute 8 I passed a neighbor walking the dog and something about the distraction from my time gave me that extra burst of energy and in 11 minutes and 5 seconds I ran a mile!!!!  Anyway, the point is that in a week and a half I was able to achieve a goal I had given myself a month and a half to achieve.  Not to toot my own horn but I am one proud lady....oh to hell with it....TOOT TOOT!!!   
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The Melrose



One of my favorite parts about living where I do is that I am not far from an establishment that serves, in my opinion, some of the best bar food in town!  The Melrose is a great neighborhood bar with deep booths, allowing for as many as ten people to sit together, a large variety of beers and bar food that doesn't leave you feeling like you have just eaten the broad side of a barn!  Whether you are eating dinner and staying for trivia or stopping in for lunch on a Sunday, this local favorite has everything on the menu you could possible want, spirit or otherwise.  

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Black Bean Salad with Grilled Chicken
Chicken Quesadillas
BLT with Avocado (and waffle fries....YUM)
Blue Cheese Burger

The decor of this establishment is what gives it such an incredible personality!




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