Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's For Dinner

Rustic pizza is for dinner tonight since the fridge and pantry are nearly bare. This is a great example of using what's on hand for a darn good meal! Using my trusty pizza dough I purchased from Sam's by the case makes this a quick and easy meal.

I stretched my dough ball out to form the rustic size-no perfect pies here! I pre-baked the dough with olive oil, garlic and Italian spices on 450 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. I let cool for a few minutes then added sauteed onions in olive with salt & pepper, sliced roasted red peppers from the jar, mushrooms, hot pepper rings, shredded Swiss cheese, shredded smoked Gouda cheese, basil and drizzled with more olive oil. Baked for approx. 15 minutes. Absolute heaven!

Rib Dispair

It has happened again-rave reviews from acquaintances on a BBQ joint that failed to deliver. Dreamland BBQ based out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama has been touted as a great example of Southern barbecue started by Big Daddy” John Bishop in 1958 as an answer to a prayer to make a living other than being a mason. Dreamland now has seven locations in Alabama with franchises available according to their website.

We visited the Dreamland located in Huntsville, AL since we were in town for a couple of days. We had driven by numerous times over the two days, salivating at the aroma of the smoke coming from the joint. I usually don't order ribs since nobody seems to compare to the ribs (and brisket) my brother smokes. The aroma and accolades got the best of me and I gave in, ordering a half slab with two sides. The ribs arrived and I swear my plate with the huge pork ribs weighed five pounds and were thick, not skimpy ribs I have seen at other restaurants.

I took my first bite and the disappointment set in! There was more smoke infused flavor in the air than in the ribs! The sauce didn't get my vote either as it was a vinegar based thin sauce. I know I'm in the south and the south seems to favor anything vinegar based, so I was prepared for that. The sauce was not bad by any means and definitely not the worst I have had, however, just isn't my preference. The pork ribs were also very fatty. I ate only one rib and got fat in each bite of that rib which is not a pleasant thing. The sides were good, especially since I was given the choice of a creamy slaw vs. a vinegar slaw. The creamy slaw was probably the best I have had here in the south.

I had to ask my husband what he thought of the ribs since I seem to always be the one who gets the plate that is sent back for not being up to par. My husband will usually order ribs if it's on the menu and is not as picky when it comes to what goes into his mouth. He actually agreed with me that they were probably one of the biggest disappoints he has had in awhile. He was so looking forward to these ribs that he ordered a full rack with no sides and only ate half the rack.

I do have to be optimistic though, that the original Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa probably is outstanding. When franchising, restaurants seem to lose some of the greatness that made them great to begin with. If I am ever in Tuscaloosa, I will visit the original and then give my final verdict.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Grilled Bulgar Turkey Burgers

An absolutely perfect day-sunny and 72 degrees-just screams to me to be outside and grilling. I have been craving a good burger and had picked up some ground turkey at the store yesterday and pondered what I would create with it. I must brag on myself, as I am great at just going through my pantry and throwing great meals together. That was just the case tonight! This burger recipe will be even better after the garden is producing in a couple of months and I can just step out the back door and pluck my hopefully bountiful harvest. I served this in a wheat pita pocket with lettuce and drizzled more olive oil over it.

Grilled Bulgar Turkey Burgers

1 pound Ground Turkey

2 cups Chicken Broth

1 cup Bulgar

2 cups Baby Carrots

1 bunch Green Onions

6 cloves Garlic

1 bunch Fresh Parsley

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 tablespoons Chipotle Powder

2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika

8 oz. Shredded Cheese Blend or Feta

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Bring chicken broth to a boil; add bulgar and reduce heat to medium. Cook until all liquid is absorbed. Set aside until cooled.

In food processor blend carrots, onions, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, chipotle powder and smoked paprika until finely chopped.

In large bowl add ground turkey, cooled bulgar, vegetables and cheese and mix , trying not to overwork mixture.
Form into fairly thick patties and chill so that burgers hold well.

Brush with olive oil and grill.

*May also need to spray a non-stick olive oil spray on grill so that burgers don't stick. Grill needs to be very hot to sear the burgers to prevent sticking as these are very moist and delicate.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Birthday Love

Ok- I haven't been feeling so well over the past few weeks and just knew I would would be ill when my birthday rolled around. I was already dreading the big day because of it's nasty number and my husband was out of town that week on business to boot. So go ahead, bring on the illness, might as well.

As I'm laying in bed basically dead to the world for two days straight, my daughter was thinking of me and working her magic in the kitchen. The one thing I always ask for on my birthday is Red Velvet Cake with COOKED frosting. Thank goodness my daughter loves to bake and can function in the kitchen solo. Unbeknownest to me, she baked a double layer Red Velvet Cake just for ME. As puny as I was that weekend, you can bet I sat up in bed to blow my candles out and have that piece of cake!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Cheese Please

Cheese, cheese and yum, even more cheese than you can imagine! This is what my family and I encountered on our way back from the Smoky Mountains. I noticed a billboard along the interstate for Sweetwater Valley Farmstead located in Philadelphia, TN, just outside Knoxville-home of the University of TN. The billboard touted tours so I thought this might turn into a learning experience for us city folk.

When we arrived at the farm and got out of the car, the aroma was quite overwhelming. Remember, we are city people so the cow fragrance was not one we were accustomed to (nor do I want to be) and being the mature adult that I am, I joined the kids in gasping for fresh air and plugging our noses as we were whining and screaming "eeewwwwww" while racing to the retail store. Once inside we could once again fill our lungs with fresh air and focus on the wonderful cheeses.

The first thing that caught my eye was the big glass window behind the cheese case that housed the production area. I was excited to see how this worked, however, either they weren't producing that day or the area had already been shut down. As I browsed the cheese case, I hear the kids getting excited because they have found the table with the samples! A table was set up with Tupperware looking containers that I bet housed 25 different cheeses. I was ready to dive in with the other customers who were tasting. I must admit that I had to taste some of the cheeses a couple times because I had tasted so much that they all started to just flow together. Of course, my family and I all liked a different cheese, some of us more than one, so we proudly made our purchase of eight different varieties to tote the three hours or so back home.

Sweetwater Valley Farm also offered jam and jellies, local t-shirts and some other gift options. Another attraction to the farm is their dairy farm tour. A short video is viewed before the tour and then the staff will gladly escort you to the barns to show you how cheese goes from cow to store. The tour takes about an hour and we didn't really have the time for it that visit. Maybe next time we go through to the mountains I will bring my nose plug and see how the local dairy farm actually works.