Sapphire

We got a very rare date night a few weeks ago and ended up at Sapphire located in the Factory at Franklin.  Sapphire boasts locally grown products in an “intimate restaurant with an urban feel”.  We ended up being seated very close to a few other tables, so it did not quite feel as intimate, but the food was fantastic and the decor was definitely  upscale Southern.

Dinner began with a New South Caesar salad.  The salad had country ham and Parmesan cheese over chopped romaine lettuce.  It was drizzled with buttermilk Caesar dressing and blackstrap molasses. Now, if you don’t like blackstrap molasses and ham, this is probably not for you, but I thought this salad was genius.  The components melded together well and really screamed Southern cuisine.

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I selected the Southern Belle Plate, which basically meant I could pick any four sides and sample them.  I chose the green bean shallot saute, turnip greens, white cheddar mac and cheese, and stone ground grits with a creole meuniere.  The turnip greens were a little spicier than I expected, but they were done quite well.  The green beans were pleasantly crunchy and the cheddar mac and cheese was fantastic.  My favorite was the grits. It never occurred to me to add a meniere sauce to my grits, but it was fantastic.IMG_1990

Cary had the chicken fried chicken.  A pan fried chicken breast was presented beautifully over white cheddar mac and cheese and was topped with a country ham gravy.  The gravy had a nice peppery flavor which went well with the mac and cheese, which was very smooth with a nice little kick of spice.  The chicken was pounded thin with a fine crispy crust.  This was a nice take on a dish that is such a staple of the Southern kitchen.

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We finished our meal with a piece of bourbon chocolate pie, topped with whipped cream and a strawberry.  It was a perfect Southern ending to a perfect Southern dinner.

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Blushing Berry

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Oh, y’all…  I am in trouble.  A new chocolate shop Blushing Berry opened up in Nolensville.  Their tagline is the Luscious Life of Chocolate.  It’s like they know me.

When you walk in you can see the chocolatier and owner Regina Pinto making the chocolate confections in the back of the shop.   She was so kind when we visited.  Another patron suggested we take home the Pecan Bourbon Glazed Cinnamon rolls.  We bought a pre-bake pack and Ms. Pinto came from the back to explain the best way to bake them.  So very nice.

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We picked out a variety of truffles:  Caramel Himilayan Salt, Pistachio Creme, Raspberry, Toasted Hazelnut, Dolce de Leite (Dulce de Leche), Pecan Bourbon, Champagne, and Gran Marnier.  We also took home a truffle 4 pack with two Peanut Butter and Jelly and S’more truffles.

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The peanut butter and jelly truffle was nothing like I have ever tasted.  I don’t even think I can accurately describe the taste.  Amazing.

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They also have beautiful hand painted heart truffles.

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Here’s another picture.  Just so pretty.  Tasty too.

So, if you happen to be in the Nolensville area (or really anywhere in Nashville), stop in.  The chocolate is definitely worth it.

 

Gumbo

Happy New Year!  While many of our friends are eating collard greens and black eyed peas, Cary and I decided we wanted something a little different this year.  We decided to try our hand at gumbo!  And by “we”, I mean Cary.  All I did was make the rice (following the directions on the package).  :)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of crawfish tails
  • 1 pound of crab meat
  • 1 and 1/2 pound of andouille sausage, sliced and browned
  • 2 cups of trinity mix (celery, bell pepper, and onion)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of Tony Chachere’s Instant Roux Mix
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to taste
  • garlic to taste
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of file powder
  • Rice

To start, we sauteed the trinity mix until all the vegetables were soft.  We added the roux mix and 2 cups of water.  We stirred until it boiled and started to thicken.  Then we added 2 cups of water and the chicken broth and let it boil.  At the same time, we sliced and browned the andouille sausage and added that to the mix.  We then added the crawfish tails and crab meat.  Then we added garlic, Tony Chachere’s seasoning, and file.  We brought everything back to a boil and then reduced heat so that the mixture was simmering.

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We let it simmer for about 30 minutes and then served it over rice.

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It was delicious.  While we were initially really concerned about the pre-made roux mix, we really loved the flavor.  It was so good.

P.S.  Tony Chachere’s doesn’t know who we are.  We just like them.  :)

Red Velvet Marble Cake

When I was looking through my Southern Living Magazine and saw a red velvet marble bundt cake, I knew I had to try it.  The recipe combined two of my favorite things: red velvet cakes and bundt cakes.  We have discussed my love of red velvet cakes previously. We have not discussed my love of bundt cakes.  There is just something about them.  They are so very pretty and fairly easy, which I am all about.

Here are the ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (I added more cocoa.  The recipe in the magazine only called for 1 tablespoon and I didn’t think that was enough.)
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring

And for the icing:

  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the cake, preheat oven to 325°. Cream the butter and shortening at medium speed in a stand mixer. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Then, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add that to butter mixture alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then transfer 2 1/2 cups batter to a bowl.  Stir in cocoa and food coloring.

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Drop 2 scoops of plain batter into a greased and floured (16-cup) Bundt pan, using a small cookie scoop. Top with 1 scoop of red velvet batter. Repeat around entire pan, covering bottom completely. Continue layering batters in pan until all batter is used.IMG_2225

Bake at 325° for 1 hour. Cool in the pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from pan to the wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

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Drizzle with the “Snowy White Vanilla Glaze”.

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To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth.  Because it’s Christmas, I topped the cake with red sugar.

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Here is a picture of the inside of the cake.  It’s not quite as marbled as the picture in Southern Living, but it’s still nice.  I think I could reduce the amount of red and get a little closer to their picture. 20131226-073236.jpg

The cake had a great light chocolate flavor, so I am glad that I upped the cocoa from 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons.  This is such a small thing, but as far as texture the cake was a little dry. Any suggestions on how to make a bundt cake more moist?

Cheese Grits Casserole

Here is a huge confession:  I am not really a grits fan.  I grew up in the South, but I much prefer Cream of Wheat.  At one of our wedding showers (almost 7 years ago!), a family friend of Cary’s made a cheese grits casserole.  It was fantastic… like nothing I have ever tried.  When I asked for the recipe, she kindly gave it to me.  She said it was the recipe on the Jim Dandy bag of grits.

Ingredients

  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Jim Dandy® Quick Grits
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray 2-quart casserole with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the water and salt in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Gradually stir in the grits and reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook 7 to 9 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Add 1 1/4 cups cheese and butter; stir until melted. Add milk, eggs and pepper; mix well. This order is really important.  I switched the order once and the texture wasn’t right.

 

Pour the mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese on the top and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until set and golden brown.

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I like to make this the night before Christmas and then heat it up on Christmas morning and serve with our Puffy Muffin Quiche.

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Pancake Molds from Williams Sonoma

I have a close friend who does a holiday breakfast for her kids.  She has a spooky breakfast for Halloween, makes French toast with strawberries for Valentine’s Day, and has a Mardis Gras breakfast complete with King Cake.  When I heard about this almost 8 years ago (waaaay before Pinterest), I thought it was awesome.

Fast forward to present day.  I love the idea of special family breakfasts.  Last year, I bought some Halloween pancake molds way on sale after Halloween at Williams Sonoma, thinking they would be perfect for my spooky breakfast.

File this away as something I just can’t get to work.  I didn’t even take pictures of the Halloween molds.  The instructions said they were nonstick and you didn’t need to spray the molds.  Mine stuck, in a big way.

So, take two.  I had some Star Wars pancake molds on hand.  We tried those this morning.  I sprayed them liberally with nonstick cooking spray.  Here is what Williams Sonoma advertises:

Star Wars™ Heroes & Villains Pancake Molds

Here are my pictures. Now, I was trying to make blue pancakes for fun, so do not let the color throw you off.

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So far so good.   I removed the molds and tried to flip.  Here is what I got…

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Not the pretty picture.  They still taste good though.

Anyone have any tips or tricks to get these things to work or did I waste my money?

*Williams Sonoma does not know who I am.

Potato Skins

It’s no secret that we love the recipes that come from Ree Drummond’s kitchen.  I made these potato skins from a recipe in her first cookbook.  I can’t believe her third cookbook is due out sometime this month.  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it!

For the potato skins, you need:

  • 4 potatoes
  • canola oil
  • salt
  • 2 cups of cheddar cheese (I prefer Four State Cheddar from Sargento)
  • Bacon pieces (You could make your own. In a pinch, we buy the bacon pieces.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rub the outside of the potato with canola oil.  Truth be told, I think this is the secret to great potato skins.  We’ve tried vegetable oil and cooking spray.  None give the crispy crunch of canola oil.  Bake at 400 for 45 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool.  Cut them in half and scoop out the inside.  Rub both sides with canola oil and salt.  Cook on one side for 7 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for 7 more minutes.  Fill with cheese and bacon and put back in the oven until the cheese melts.

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Personally, I like these with ranch dressing.

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Cary though, likes his with black bean turkey chili.

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PS.  Pioneer Woman doesn’t know who we are.  Neither does Sargento.  I just like ‘em.