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Just popping in…

Friends! Hi!

Allow me to be the very last person to wish you and yours a very happy Halloween, Thanksgiving and holiday season. It’s a Hallogivingmas miracle! All hope is not lost, however, because I’m dropping in here at the end of the year with one last munchie for you to add your New Year’s Eve spread. More on that in a sec.

So let’s see. Where did we leave off. Oh! That whole growing a human thing. Well, I’m in my 38th week and this baby girl is still tucked in tight. We celebrated our first Christmas together this past week. This little pumpkin is spoiled already! And her daddy looks awful proud!

Mama is doing as good as can be expected. A little uncomfortable, a lot anxious. Things that used to be easy have become quite difficult. Putting on socks, for example. There’s something you take for granted. I need to set aside a least a full two minutes to get my socks on. Yesterday I went to the grocery store and got winded bending over to get the stuff out of the cart and on to the checkout. The teenager behind the register had himself a little chuckle over the whole thing. Heh. But, despite all that (and all the other minor pregnancy annoyances) I am over the moon excited and Baby Girl is doing well. She should make her grand entrance any day now. I’ve never been so ready for anything in my entire life. Labor? Bring it! Let’s do this!

So I guess tomorrow is New Year’s Eve although I must admit I’m not paying much attention. There will be no parties. We have no plans. I’ll probably ring in the new year fast asleep on the mound of pillows I use to keep the heartburn at bay. But you! You probably have all kinds of big plans. There will probably be sparkly spiked drinks and mounds of finger foods made with all things perfect like goat cheese and puff pastry. Maybe you’re even getting all dolled up. Put on some glittery nail polish and have a drink or two for me. I’ll live vicariously through you.

Now, if your New Year’s Eve get together involves more Bud Light and bean dip than Champagne and caviar, allow me to tempt you with one more easy and irresistible treat. Make a big batch of this stuff, put it in bowls on every coffee table, end table and TV tray in your party space and marvel at the way your guests find themselves powerless to keep their mitts off it. It’s pure, crunchy, buttery, sweet evil. I’m talking about…homemade caramel corn!

Caramel corn is my ultimate snack food weakness. Once I get started, I cannot. stop. eating it. I actually made this batch a few weeks ago to give away as part of a “My favorite things” gift exchange with the girls at work. Is caramel corn seriously one of my favorite things? Why, yes. Yes it is. In fact, let’s just go ahead and remove “whiskers on kittens” from that song and put insert caramel corn there instead. Much better. 😉

I’ve tried several caramel corn recipes over the last few years but I keep coming back to this one. I like it because it doesn’t involve a candy thermometer and it’s low and slow bake in the oven allows the caramel to melt evenly over the popcorn. The end result is a light and crisp sweet snack and not a gooey, stick-to-your-teeth clump. It also keeps insanely well in an airtight container. Not that it’ll hang around that long. Try this stuff. Fall in love. Addictive. You’ve been warned.

HOMEMADE CARAMEL CORN (Recipe Source: As seen at Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from Christie’s Corner)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped*
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (try a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste for an extra flavor boost!)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pop the popcorn using your preferred method. (Do you have a Whirley Pop yet? We LOVE ours and haven’t bought microwave popcorn in almost two years. Recommended!)
  2. Place the popcorn in a very large bowl. You may need two very large bowls. You know what? Just use two bowls. You’ll need a lot of room to stir the caramel into the popcorn.
  3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. To make the caramel, melt the butter in a two-quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture is boiling, let the mixture continue to cook for 5 minutes without stirring.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will bubble and get frothy. Pour the hot caramel over the popcorn in the bowls and stir or toss to coat. (This takes a little patience, just keep after it!)
  6. Spread the popcorn evenly on the prepared baking sheets. It will be clumpy, but will spread out as it bakes. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, tossing/stirring every ten minutes and rotating the baking sheets if needed. After 40 minutes, test a piece of cooled popcorn. It should be light and crispy when you bite it. If it’s still chewy/gooey feeling bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Allow the popcorn to cool completely on the baking sheet before storing in an airtight container.

ENJOY! 🙂

*If you prefer to use microwave or already popped popcorn, I would estimate you’ll need somewhere between 30 and 32 cups of popped popcorn for this full recipe.

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Always Be Prepared

I am nothing if not perpetually unprepared.

Well. Wait. That’s not completely true. I always come prepared for things like big speeches and final exams. I bring the materials and the points I’m responsible for to meetings at work. I’m usually prepared to answer work-related question when presented with one. I am a responsible adult, after all. Or I do a pretty darn good job pretending to be. Whatever.

But I never have an umbrella handy when it’s raining. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had an umbrella handy once in my entire life. I don’t think I even *own* umbrella. If I do, I have no idea where it is. In fact, if it’s pouring rain, not only will I not have an umbrella, I’ll have no jacket, no hood and I’ll being wearing wildly impractical footwear (silk ballet flats, perhaps?) and super long, draggy pants.

Need to put gas in the car when it’s five below? Sure wish I had a hat. Freight train stopped dead on the one set of tracks I absolutely must cross or there’s no possible way I can reach my office short of donning a Superman cape and leaping over tall buildings in a single bound? Should have left 10 minutes earlier. Also, should have peed first.

I have no extra batteries. No emergency needle and thread handy to fix a wayward button that fell off a shirt. We’ve run out of toilet paper before. Like totally and completely out, not a square in the house out. I know. I know.

I don’t have my important papers stacked together neatly in a file ready to grab at a moment’s notice. No stash of bottled water and canned goods. I’m not exactly sure where the flashlight is and we don’t have a weather radio. Oh, a first aid kid? I think there’s some loose band-aids under Eric’s sink in the bathroom and maybe some ointment in the laundry room. If someone’s bleeding profusely, I’m likely zero help anyway, so it’s not like a first aid kit is going to do any of us much good.

Don’t cut yourself at my house, please and thank you.

I’m also unprepared when it comes to having my blogging ducks in a row for foodie-type holidays bloggers go nuts over. Like Cinco de Mayo. This shredded beef for tacos would have been much more appropriate if presented last week. Posting it on May 7th makes me quite lame. But it doesn’t make the beef any less delicious.

This is one of my favorite things to come from the crock pot to date. To be honest, I don’t use my slow cooker that often because I find most of the meals to come out of it to be meh. I like my meat tender like anyone else, but there’s a difference between tender and mushy. The slow cooker crosses that line too often for me. This beef stands up well to extra long cooking time, and the flavor is so fresh and yummy. It’s perfectly seasoned and spiced. We stuffed it in tacos the first night, then I made Mexican-inspired stuff shells and some pressed sandwiches with pepper jack and hot sauce with the leftovers over the course of the week. Easy, versatile, and tasty. Even when you’re unprepared. 😉

SHREDDED BEEF FOR TACOS (Recipe source: As seen at Elly Says Opa!)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (2-3 lb.) boneless beef roast (rump, chuck, whatever you have)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the oil. Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper.  Once the oil is hot, add the roast to the pan and brown on all sides until a nice crust forms, about 2 minutes per side.  Place in the slow cooker.
  2. To the pan with the beef drippings, add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the beef broth and spices, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the seasoned broth and onions over the top of the roast.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until fork tender.  Shred meat with a fork and moisten with a bit of the cooking liquid. (To soak up any extra liquid, you can turn the crockpot to high for a little bit after shredding the beef.)

ENJOY! 🙂

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A Test of Wills

A common question I get asked as a food blogger is “what do you do with all those cookies and cupcakes and treats you make?”

Well. I’m going to answer that right now. And I’m going to be honest. For the most part, we eat them.

Gasp! Pearl clutch! Faint!

So there you have it. I make my cake and eat it too.

You’ll hear a lot of bakers say they make a treat and usher right out the door to neighbors, to husband’s offices, to parties and events. I certainly do that too (all of these firework cookies went on platters and off to our new neighbors) but during a normal week, I’m usually baking for us. Halving recipes and scaling down are a normal occurrence. I don’t need 24 cupcakes, but 12 for the two of us to share over the course of 7 days or so. Okay, sure.

Of course, there are rules. Strict guidelines as to what can be eaten when and how much. For the most part, my willpower remains strong around the treats in the house until it’s time for a little indulgence.

However. Sometimes. Yes, sometimes something comes along that really tests me. Sometimes there’s something in the house I can’t resist. That’s when the nibbling starts. It’s not the usual suspects that get me, the brownies, the chocolate chip cookies. It’s the things that shouldn’t be THAT good, but somehow just are.

Things like this Sunflower Cookie Brittle.

These shards of buttery shortbread cookie are stuffed to the brim with sweet mini chocolate chips and salty sunflower seeds. A very simple cookie dough is pressed into a jellyroll pan and baked. Once cooled, it’s broken into jagged, rustic pieces that are perfect for popping in your mouth every single time you’re in the kitchen. Something about the the soft, sandy texture and the sweet/salty flavor made these absolutely irresistible to me. Simple, but wonderful.

I had mixed emotions when the brittle was gone. On the one hand, I could return to my regularly scheduled carrot sticks, but on the other, I sure was sad to see it go.

SUNFLOWER COOKIE BRITTLE (Recipe Source: Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig pg. 230)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purposed flour
  • 1 cup salted, roasted shelled sunflower kernels
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and extract and beat until creamy. Add flour gradually, beating until blended after each addition. Fold in sunflower seeds and chocolate chips. Press the dough into a 16-1/2 by 11-1/2 by 1-inch jelly-roll pan.
  2. Bake the cookie for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Break the cookie apart like peanut brittle. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks. Makes about 3 dozen pieces.

ENJOY!

One Year Ago: Chewy, Fudgy, Triple Chocolate Brownies
Two Years Ago: Strawberry Blueberry Buckle
Three Years Ago: Crispy Oven “Fried” Chicken

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And the Winner Is…

All! Thank you SO much for the great response to the Heartland cookbook giveaway. There is so much food and tradition to discover right here in the US of A – thank you for sharing your favorites with me. I’m not very well-traveled (how Midwest of me, right? Ha.) so I have yet to discover many of your favorites but I’m totally up for an epic road trip where we don’t stop to do anything but eat. You in? We’ll just gather new friends along the way. Like Dorothy in Oz. We’ll sing and maybe skip a lot. No flying monkeys though. Too scary. And I don’t trust those things with my snacks. Sticky monkey fingers and things.

Anyway…

Let’s get down to business. The winner!

Random.org used it mad number scramblin’ skills (how does it do that?) and chose…

Comment 32! The lucky winner is Sally who said…

Congratulations, Sally! I’ve never been to Cincinnati myself but from what I’ve heard about this chili, I need to get out there and try it. I’ll be dropping the book in the mail to you after the long weekend! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks again to everyone for entering! Most of all, thanks to all of you for reading. I love our time here – laughing and eating together. Makes me smile every time I think of it. You are all awesome sauce. Don’t ever forget it. 🙂

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Vote for Luxury

Hey all! Voting is open for the third round of the Project Food Blog challenge! If you liked what you saw of my luxury dinner party (or if you were there! Holla!), click on over right here and cast a vote for me! 🙂 It would mean ever so much to me. For real. Do you know how many dishes I washed this weekend?? LOL.

Thanks again to all of you for all of your encouraging comments and support. You are all SO great. The food blog community is so friendly and welcoming. I wish ALL of you could have come for dinner this past weekend. 🙂 Thanks for the votes!!

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Voting times two!

Well, well, well. Here we are again. Anyone else have that creepy deja vu thing going on. No? Just me?

Alrighty then.

It’s that time again. Time to vote! I was so honored to be chosen to move on to round two in Project Food Blog, thanks to YOU! You guys rock my socks. For realsies. 😉 Now let’s see if we can go for the three-peat here.

If you liked what you saw with my Dobos Torte, a classic Hungarian dessert, click on over here and give a little votey-poo to your cake-loving bloggy friend.

Ahem. That is, vote for me.

If you do it, I will love you more today than yesterday…but not as much as tomorrow. 😉 Thanks again!

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Blog UPGRADE

Happy Monday, friends!

Happy and Monday in the same sentence? Is that legal? On the plus side, Monday is about over, so that’s good. On to Tuesday and bigger and better things.

I have no recipe tonight. Lame, I know. Hey, it’s Monday and I’m tired. But I just wanted to pop by and say I updated the About Me section of the blog! Added a few pics, a bit more about me and the blog. Check it out if you’d like!

Click on The Milkman’s Wife tab at the top of the page or go here.

Happy cooking, baking and eating! More delicious eats coming later this week! 🙂

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Blog UPGRADE!

I’m just all over this social networking stuff these days. Woo hoo! I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with myself….as it took me until at least 2005 to figure out how to work a DVD player. So yeah.

Anyway, make your way over to the right hand coloumn and clicky the link to become a fan of Milk & Honey on Facebook! Find the latest posts, photos and random foodie thoughts from me!

Stay tuned for holiday cookie recipes! Coming soon! 🙂

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So Long, Farewell…

Friends. It is time. I must bid you adieu.

It is that time of year again. November. I can’t believe how fast it’s come around again but yet here we are, staring down the barrel of the end of the year. And so I must say goodbye to blogging for 30 days.

I have decided once again to put blogging on hold in the month of November while I tackle the NaNoWriMo 50k novel in 30 days challenge. Last year I did it and I won. That’s right. I WON! All I won was the satisfaction of a job well done, but apparently that was enough for me to get the urge to try this crazy little thing called writing all over again.

As much as I love blogging and sharing my recipes and stories with you, I must spend November completely and totally focused on this project. I just can’t put my creativity, words or spare time into anything else. NaNo WILL consume me for the next 30 days. It WILL torture and torment me. Each keystroke more painful than the last. Hamburger Helper may or may not be consumed as I rush to put something, anything in my stomach so I can write in the evening when I get home from work. Ideas and characters and plots will tumble out onto the page at lightning speed and when it’s all said and done – I’ll be blurry-eyed, exhausted and five pounds heavier. But I’ll have a novel. A craptastic novel, no doubt. But a novel nonetheless.

Two words: Worth. It.

As I prepare to step away from the food blogging world for the next 30 days, I just want to encourage anyone who’s ever had a story floating around in their head to consider giving this challenge a try. Writing is extremely therapeutic and a lot of fun. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. You’ll be amazed at how awesome you feel when what’s in your head is out of there on paper. It’s…life changing.

Inspiration is everywhere. Can’t help but smile when you think about that childhood friend who had a knack for getting the two of you in trouble? Write about their adventures. Still feel that little tug inside when you think about the one who broke your heart? Let it all out. Change the ending, if you want. Heck, plop your characters right smack dab in the middle of a restaurant kitchen, bakery, or culinary school and see what they cook up. Think about what inspires you, think about what you love, think about what you know. Think about what you wish you knew then. There are no rules. There is no right or wrong. There are just words. Your words.

Just start writing. That’s what I’m going to do. So what if you’re no Shakespeare? I’m not either. I’m just going to throw caution to the wind and have one crazy, rowdy, writing November. I hope you do the same!

So anyway, I hope you’ll all bear with me in my absence. I will return in full force on December 1 armed with a mixer and bowl to take on the upcoming holiday baking season. I hope to check in at least once or twice throughout this process.

Oh, treats for a sugar pick-me-up are welcome! Please send care packages and good thoughts to:

Disgruntled Wannabe Novelist
c/o: A dark corner in the public library
Iowa, USA. 🙂

See you in 50,000 words!

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A Yankee Girl Heads South

I’m the first to admit I haven’t spent much time “down south.” With the exception of a few trips to Florida, Eric’s hometown in southern Illinois was as far south as I’ve ever been.

Until now! Eric and I just got back from an AWESOME trip to Nashville, TN! We decided to road trip from Iowa and with a stop over at the in-laws in southern Illinois, it wasn’t a bad drive at all! Even if you don’t have a place to stop, this is a one day drive from the Midwest easily. 🙂

I loved everything about this city. Everything. I never thought I’d want to leave the Midwest but I’d make an exception for Nashville. Yes. I would live there. This is HUGE for me. Huge. I’m not even kidding. I fell head over heals IN LOVE with Nashville.

Let me tell you why I like it. Ready? Great! Take a trip with us to fabulous Nashville, TN!

1. It’s a big city without being too big. All the great things about a big city are there without all the hassles. Case in point – we were downtown early in the evening on Sunday night…there was a Titans game about to start, a pretty big name at the Ryman and the streets were packed with people. We still found a place to park without much searching AND got a table at a restaurant right there in the middle of the action without evening without waiting more than 5 minutes. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! LOVE it.

2. I loved the mix of old and young. The city totally has a young, hip vibe with cool places to eat/hang out/shop with a nice splash of history and old-timeyness thrown in. I loved that we heard a young guy play Hank, Sr. in a honky-tonk. I loved that the people at the next table were our parents age. There is truly something for everyone there and it’s all mixed up together into a melting pot of wonderfulness!

3. Live country music. Ice cold beer. And NO cover? Yes, please!

4. And, last but not least, there is a ton to do and see…and EAT! Here’s some highlights from our trip to Music City.

First, let me hype up this AWESOME deal from the Nashville CVB – The Total Access Pass. $45 gets you admission into four attractions of your choice. There are 16 to choose from including the Country Music Hall of Fame. This was a GREAT find. With two Total Access passes, it was like getting into all the attractions at two for one. This is a must. I mean, it’s 20 bucks to get into the CMHoF alone – this thing pays for itself in three attractions. Worth it. With our passes we went to the Hall of Fame, toured the Ryman Auditorium, went to the Hermitage and to the Belle Meade Plantation. The pass also included free admission to the Parthenon (yes, there’s a replica of the Greek Parthenon in Nashville! Who would have thunk it?!) but we ran out of time and didn’t get over there.

We loved the Hall of Fame – especially the exhibit about the Williams family. Fascinating!

The Hermitage (home of our 7th President, Andrew Jackson) was really interesting too. I learned a lot about him I didn’t know from high school history!

The Ryman was truly amazing. No wonder they call it the Mother Church of Country Music. We kind of went in there on whim and I’m so glad we did. I need-NEED- to see a show here someday. I bet it’s beyond amazing. I’m already on their mailing list. Next trip to Nashville WILL involve a show here.

Belle Meade (home of the bloodlines of such famous racehorses as Seabiscuit and Secretariat, among others) was great because they let you wander around the entire house and get up close to the items inside (most of which are original.) Very cool!

Other highlights – we drove down to Lynchberg to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. This was probably the highlight of the trip for both of us. SO amazing – you can read about our trip down there here.

And we saw a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Wow, was that like stepping back in time or what?? The modern artists on the stage that night – Josh Turner and Montgomery Gentry. Both awesome. It was fun to see some old timers too. Eric is more familiar with those folks than I am, but I enjoyed it too. It’s a live radio broadcast (complete with sponsors and commercials!) so the announcer would prompt us to cheer and clap every now and then. So much fun! They actually let you come right up to the stage and take pictures if you want. I didn’t, but that’s pretty neat that you can get that close to the stars!

We also had our very first pro-hockey game experience with the Nashville Predators. We are hockey virgins no more! I’ve never been much of a hockey fan but it was actually a lot of fun – even though the Predators didn’t play that well this particular evening. Helpful tip – we waited until the day of the game to get tix and we got cheap seats for only 10 bucks each! Can’t beat that with a stick. Apparently they sell a hundred tickets at a reduced price the day of the game. Great deal! Sure, they were nosebleeds but they were far from bad seats. I liked being up high because we had a nice birdseye view of what was happening. It was easier for me to follow along that way. I learned all about penalty boxes and power plays. Hee. This game was a treat for sure! The zambonis are my favorite part. Of course.

And now the reason why you’re here – the FOOD!

Big, HUGE thank you shout out to Erin over at Erin’s Food Files. Erin’s blog is FAB! One of my favorites for sure. Her recipes are so creative-I love when she features the goodies she gets in her CSA baskets! Please be sure to check it out! She gave me the low down on all her favorite local eats and provided us with some GREAT recommendations. See, this is what’s so great about the food blogging world – although Erin and I have never met, we are acquainted through our mutual love of food – and blogging about it! We’ve connected through blogging! When she heard we were headed her way, she quickly came to the rescue with her recs as I was at a complete loss on where to eat! Thank you, Erin!!

Here’s just a sampling of where we chowed down. I could go on and on forever about every single place we ate but I’ll spare you and just mention the highlights. 🙂

Jack’s BBQ – 416 Broadway, Nashville

Okay. Jack’s ROCKS! It’s located right downtown in the heart of the action and has cute little flying piggies on the marquee. Hee. This a counter service type place, where you order at the counter and then take your food and go sit down. It was SO good. Now, I LOVE barbeque, but I really don’t know much about it. What I do know is that it’s serious business. Especially in the south. This was our first meal in Nashville and it was a great way to kick things off!

As I pondered my choices (had plenty of time do so, the line was pretty long!) I thought I’d probably end up with pork. I always get pork. But the smoked turkey was speaking to me. Calling to me. I went for it – in sandwich form. Mmmm. Like butter it was so tender. Perfect smokey flavor, lots of charred, crunchy edges to enjoy. Yum. I got baked beans on the side. They had a nice kick of spice to them – just how I like ’em. 🙂

Eric got the pork. I didn’t even end up trying it, I was so enthralled in my turkey, but he really seemed to enjoy it. On the side, he got mac and cheese (homemade and very cheesy and delicious) and cinnamon apples (like pie-sans crust. YUM.)

We got little cups of all the sauces to try before deciding which one to pour on our sandwiches. Eric liked the mustard-based sauce the best. I liked the sweet/spicy/tangy vinegar sauce the best, with the mustard coming in a close second. The tomato based sauce was good too but there’s something about vinegar and mustard sauces that always outdo the tomato sauces for me – not sure why that is!

This was probably my favorite place that we ate. Also one of the cheapest! Ha. I’m a cheap date, I guess. 🙂

Cabana – 1910 Belcourt Ave., Nashville

Cabana is on Nashville’s west side near Vanderbilt University. The neighborhood over there is totally cool. Very hip and vibrant. Once I got over feeling like a country bumpkin trying to fit in with the rich kids, I really enjoyed myself. Ha ha…I *think* Vanderbilt is a little fancier than what we public state school grads are used to (Going out on a limb and guessing they probably don’t have classrooms with scary looking live wires hanging out spaces where the ceiling tiles have disintegrated like we did? Am I right? Ha ha.) The area around campus is really beautiful.

On to our dinner! Well. Let me just say, if we go back to Nashville, I would absolutely try Cabana again. The food was excellent and I LOVED the atmosphere. We liked how the menu was a bit more upscale but there was still a couple giant TVs on hand to watch some football and keep things casual. Very cool vibe.

However. Yeah, there’s a however here. Just hear me out though!

We debated back and forth about getting a couple smaller plates to share or getting entrees. In the end we each went with an entree. I kind of wished we went with the smaller plates so we could have had more variety. The entree I chose originally was a pasta special. They were out. I know that’s no one’s fault but….you know….when you have your heart set on one thing and then you have to choose something else it’s like a major bummer. I ended up getting the braised bison short ribs with gnocchi. I liked the flavors a lot and the meat was insanely tender and delicious – but there was like four gnocchi on my entire plate…and I gave one to Eric when he tried a bite! I wanted more soft, potato-y goodness. There wasn’t enough contrast of textures without more gnocchi. Eric got a tri-colored cheese tortellini with Italian sausage and a crushed tomato sauce. It was for sure delicious, but it wouldn’t have been my choice when there were so many other interesting things to choose from! He’s kind of scared of the unknown, so no surprises that he chose that. It’s okay – I still love him. 🙂

Also, our server told us it was happy hour and that draft beers were a dollar off – I had a draft and Eric didn’t so I don’t think he knew how much it was supposed to be when he got the check. I looked at our receipt after we left and we didn’t get the drink for a dollar off. In the grand scheme of things, does one dollar matter? No, of course not. But still…you know…yeah….

Again, I will absolutely give Cabana another shot. The menu is so eclectic and fun, I can’t wait to get back and try it a second time. Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves there.

Jackson’s – 1800 21st Ave. S, Nashville

Jackson’s is also on the west end near Vanderbilt. We stopped in here for brunch on Sunday afternoon. It was getting late – close to 2:00 and this place was still packed to the brim. This is actually the only place we went on our trip where we had to wait to be seated. I’m a big believer in following the crowd and the crowd for sure knew what they were talking about here. There were so many things on the menu that sounded good, we really had a hard time choosing! Eric got an omlette (I can’t remember what was is in it!) and cinnamon toast. He seemed to enjoy it. I tried a bit of the cinnamon toast and thought it was just so-so. Just a basic buttered toast with a bit of cinnamon sugar on top. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I don’t think it was that. Oh well. Everything else was good.

I just had to get the monte cristo – ham, cheese, sandwiched between what tastes a lot like french toast and deep fried. I got mine with a side of bypass surgery. LOL. Kidding, of course! I knew I was only going to be able to eat about a quarter of the sandwich because they are always so so SO rich but I couldn’t pass it up. My prediction came true…I couldn’t even finish half of it but it was decadent and delicious. I’m big on the sweet/salty combo so this was right up my alley. Dipped in maple syrup, this is treat is salty, crunchy, melty and delicious!

I had a side of french onion hash brown potatoes. Onions, potatoes and cheese? I’ll take two orders, please. 🙂 These were good too – thick chunks of potatoes, fried up crispy and topped with lots of melted swiss. Loved the sweet background from the onions. Eric ate what I couldn’t finish of those. 🙂

Big River Grille and Brewery Works – 111 Broadway, Nashville

We came out of the Country Music Hall of Fame around noon absolutely famished. We wandered down Broadway and saw people pretty much streaming into this place. We need to follow that crowd, I told Eric. So we did. I was just expecting your basic bar food and sandwiches, which is all well and good, but I was actually pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed my meal here. First of all, they’ve got real, fresh-squeezed lemonade on the menu. Two big, enthusiastic thumbs up from me right there. I’m sold! You don’t see that nearly often enough. I ended up with the fish tacos. Grilled mahi-mahi kicked up with spicy cajun seasonings, lettuce, fresh pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese and an avocado sauce. All that yumminess came stuffed in a crunchy blue corn tortilla and then wrapped in a flour tortilla. Mmmmm. Very fresh and delicious. It came with a spicy rice and delightful black beans. And with ice cold lemonade to wash it all down, I left there a happy camper with a full tummy.

Oh, Eric had a bacon cheeseburger, I think. He enjoyed it. 🙂

So there you have it! Erin and Eric’s Excellent Adventure in Nashville. Let me just add here that everything expressed in this post is my personal opinion only. I received no compensation in any way shape or form, monetary or otherwise, from anyone mentioned above. We just had a really great time in Nashville! I hope anyone else planning a trip finds this post useful!

Bye y’all! 🙂 (Does that sound authentic? Do I fit in yet?)

One Year Ago:

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