Sunday, January 31, 2010

Football Food Part 2 - Caribbean Chicken Wings


Caribe Chicken Wings

Prep Time:
15 min

Inactive Prep Time:
4 hr 0 min

Cook Time:
40 min

Serves:
4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

* 1 habanero, seeded and chopped
* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1/4 cup honey
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 2 tablespoon sugar
* 2 teaspoons fennel seed
* 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
* 2 teaspoons allspice
* 2 teaspoons dried thyme
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 4 garlic cloves, chopped
* 4 green onions, chopped
* 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
* 1/4 cup lime juice
* 1/4 cup orange juice
* 7 pounds chicken wings

Directions

In a food processor, blend together all the ingredients but the chicken until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of marinade. Place chicken wings into a large resealable plastic bag and pour remaining marinade over them. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet trays with parchment. Remove chicken from bag and place on the baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring reserved marinade to a boil. Reduce by 1/3 until it thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove chicken from oven. Brush chicken with the glaze. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and cook chicken until cooked through, another 20 minutes.

Football Food Part 1 - Soft Pretzels


Soft Pretzels with Queso Poblano Sauce and Mustard Sauce

Prep Time:
30 min

Inactive Prep Time:
1 hr 35 min

Cook Time:
20 min

Serves:
8 pretzels

Ingredients
Queso Poblano Sauce:

* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 cup whole milk
* 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
* 2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Mustard Sauce:

* 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
* 1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
* Honey, to taste

Soft Pretzels:

* 1 1/2 cups warm water
* 2 tablespoons light brown muscovado sugar
* 1 package active dry yeast
* 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
* 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
* Vegetable oil
* 3 quarts water
* 3/4 cup baking soda
* 2 whole eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
* Coarse sea salt

For the Queso Poblano Sauce:
Directions

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the Monterey Jack cheese, poblano chiles, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the queso sauce into a bowl and sprinkle with chopped poblano.

For the Mustard Sauce:

Whisk together the mustards and honey, to taste, until combined. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

For the Soft Pretzels:

Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and spray liberally with vegetable spray.

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape: take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 2 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the warmed water using a spoon. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula or a spider. Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Dip into desired sauces.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Calling all cooks. Time to share


So another cold blast in just hours away. What are you cooking this weekend to take the chill off? I have not seen a lot of comments lately, so now is the time to speak up. Got a recipe for the chilly days? Visit a restaurant that you want to tell us all about? Let's hear from you.

Mediterranean food is being touted as the new healthy choice (good fatty acids and aminos). I found this recipe and thought it was interesting. It's outside of the norm for us and sounds good. If you try it (or have another) please SPEAK UP!

Mediterranean Turkey Stew with Artichokes

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey, defrosted if frozen

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas

1 (2 1/4-ounce) can sliced black olives

1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts (see note)

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic and spices (see note)

Crumbled feta cheese for garnish, to taste

HEAT the oil in a 4 1/2-quart Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the pot as you chop. Add the turkey and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir frequently, breaking up any large chunks of turkey and making sure it cooks through. While the meat cooks, add the garlic powder, oregano, thyme, bay leaves and black pepper.

OPEN all the cans while the turkey continues to cook. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Drain the artichokes and olives. Add the tomatoes with their juices to the pot. Break up any large tomato chunks. Add the chickpeas, olives and artichokes. Stir thoroughly but gently.

COOK, stirring frequently, until the turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors and reduce liquid slightly, about 10 minutes or until ready to serve. Spoon into bowls and garnish with feta-cheese crumbles.

NOTE: Use artichokes packed in water, not marinated artichokes. Any diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic will work.

Yield: 5 servings

PER SERVING: 385 calories; 26g protein; 41g carbohydrate; 14g fat (31% of calories; 3g saturated); 45mg cholesterol; 1,028mg sodium.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pizza on the cheap


What night is pizza night at your house? Is it Friday after a hectic week? Is it Saturday with friends or family? Or Sunday afternoon, when the games are on?

Any night can be pizza night, and surprisingly, any night can be homemade pizza night in as little time as it takes to wait on a delivery.

No-knead doughs made in advance are the key to homemade pizza anytime. They can keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator (some will last longer, or can be frozen) and can be used not only for pizza, but also for bread, calzones, garlic bread, focaccia or bread sticks.

While you can reach for a frozen or packaged crust, such as the prepared pizza doughs available at Trader Joe’s, the simplicity of making homemade dough may convert you. The ingredients are as simple as flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water and oil.

Focaccia or Pizza Dough

From cooking teacher Kathy Lehr. Lehr recommends not oversaucing the dough so the crust bakes all the way through in the center.

6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon salt

1 package dry yeast (scant 1 tablespoon)

1/3 cup olive oil, plus additional oil for preparing crust

3 cups water, divided

PLACE flour, cornmeal and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir together. Add yeast and stir to combine.

COMBINE olive oil with 2 cups water and add to the flour. Mix, adding more water, until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Once desired consistency is reached, knead with dough hook for 3 to 4 minutes.

ADD more water if needed. The dough should be a little tacky but pull together after kneading. The dough should be a little wet, which will result in an airy and chewy crust.

COVER bowl and place in refrigerator. Let rise overnight. Pull or punch down dough at least once. (Two nights will give it a chewier texture. Dough can be made up to five days ahead of time.)

PREHEAT oven to 475 or 500 degrees. Remove a portion of the dough from the bowl. Working on parchment paper, shape dough into desired size and thickness. Brush with olive oil. Cover with desired toppings. Transfer to pizza stone or pan and bake on the lowest rack of oven until crust is browned and cheese is melted and browned. Baking time will vary depending on oven and size and thickness of pizza. Check at 7 to 10 minutes.

NOTE: If using a pizza pan or baking sheet, you also can shape the crust, bake 10 to 15 minutes, then top with sauce and toppings and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield:

Up to 6 pizzas, depending on size and thickness of each.


Have fun with the toppings, use only quality cheese (add provolone and parmesan for extra flavor) and avoid pre-made pizza sauces. They are full of sugar and preservatives. Use crushed tomatoes with some italian spices if you don't have homemade sauce.

Family pizza night at home


What night is pizza night at your house? Is it Friday after a hectic week? Is it Saturday with friends or family? Or Sunday afternoon, when the games are on?

Any night can be pizza night, and surprisingly, any night can be homemade pizza night in as little time as it takes to wait on a delivery.

No-knead doughs made in advance are the key to homemade pizza anytime. They can keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator (some will last longer, or can be frozen) and can be used not only for pizza, but also for bread, calzones, garlic bread, focaccia or bread sticks.

While you can reach for a frozen or packaged crust, such as the prepared pizza doughs available at Trader Joe’s, the simplicity of making homemade dough may convert you. The ingredients are as simple as flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water and oil.

Focaccia or Pizza Dough

From cooking teacher Kathy Lehr. Lehr recommends not oversaucing the dough so the crust bakes all the way through in the center.

6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon salt

1 package dry yeast (scant 1 tablespoon)

1/3 cup olive oil, plus additional oil for preparing crust

3 cups water, divided

PLACE flour, cornmeal and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir together. Add yeast and stir to combine.

COMBINE olive oil with 2 cups water and add to the flour. Mix, adding more water, until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Once desired consistency is reached, knead with dough hook for 3 to 4 minutes.

ADD more water if needed. The dough should be a little tacky but pull together after kneading. The dough should be a little wet, which will result in an airy and chewy crust.

COVER bowl and place in refrigerator. Let rise overnight. Pull or punch down dough at least once. (Two nights will give it a chewier texture. Dough can be made up to five days ahead of time.)

PREHEAT oven to 475 or 500 degrees. Remove a portion of the dough from the bowl. Working on parchment paper, shape dough into desired size and thickness. Brush with olive oil. Cover with desired toppings. Transfer to pizza stone or pan and bake on the lowest rack of oven until crust is browned and cheese is melted and browned. Baking time will vary depending on oven and size and thickness of pizza. Check at 7 to 10 minutes.

NOTE: If using a pizza pan or baking sheet, you also can shape the crust, bake 10 to 15 minutes, then top with sauce and toppings and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield:

Up to 6 pizzas, depending on size and thickness of each.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New restaurant coming to Hickory - Summer 2010



Mellow Mushroom will open its first Greater Hickory-area restaurant this summer in the former Rock-Ola Cafe building at 1185 Lenoir-Rhyne Blvd., SE.

Leslie Knapp is owner-operator of the Hickory franchise.

Mellow Mushroom, which operates about 100 restaurants in 15 states, features a menu with a variety of pizzas, salads, hoagies and calzones and a full bar.

Founded by three Georgia college students in 1974, Mellow Mushroom began franchising in the mid-1980s.

The Mellow Mushroom collection of restaurants features an eclectic mix, with each location offering its own decor. Even the marquees of the restaurants vary from location to location. The menus, however, offer the same food.

North Carolina locations include Blowing Rock and Boone.

Knapp said more information about the Hickory Mellow Mushroom — including hiring details — will be announced as the opening nears.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monterrey Mexican Mooresville Mmmmm

Sorry, got carried way with the letter M. It seemed like fun at the time. For those of you that know what a ValPak coupon envelope look like, then you have seen coupons for Monterrey. If you discard the ValPak, you are literally throwing money away.

The most recent ValPak has a BOGO coupon for lunch and one for dinner. We went late Saturday afternoon, so we were in the dinner mode. The coupon is buy one entree and two soft drinks, get one entree free. We had our daughter - still within kids menu age - so this deal works for us. My wife gets a tea and my daughter gets a soda (I go cheap with the water). The specialty platters have some of the best value, so that's where we looked.

I ordered the Enchiladas Verde ($8). This is something I have ordered from Monterrey periodically for the last 12 years. They are as good today as they were then. Is that saying they were bad then and bad now? No. They are good now (and were then too). My wife ordered the Yolandas ($8). That is their specialty red enchilada (chicken). Mine came with rice and beans (oops), and hers came with rice and guacamole salad. Lucky for me that she does not like guac. BONUS! Our daughter got a taco/enchilada kids plate ($4). Of course, we all enjoyed the two baskets of free chips and salsa.

There are only two knocks on the visit, so let's start with a plus. The service was amazingly fast and friendly. The chips were fresh and warm even for a slower period in the day. Knock number one is that the mild salsa lacked a lot. It was really like tomato puree, needing some salt and cilantro at minimum. Luckily, add a little of their hotter salsa and all is good again. Knock number two is that in fact getting the food quickly hurt the corn tortilla wrappers opportunity to soak in the sauce a little more. Corn vs flour is a battle in our house. The corn tend to be tougher, needing that extra TLC to make sure they soften enough before serving. When we reheated the left overs (oops), you could see the improvement in texture to the tortillas. They were soft and delicious, full of sauce and cut easily with the side of a fork.

As always, portions were great. Our daughter had enough on her plate, while we both had enough to bring home enough to eat a lunch the next day. Everything reheated well, a testimony to the initial preparation of the rice, beans, chicken all not being overcooked. Again, the reheating actually made the tortilla better. It must be the beef stew theory.

Price wise, we got out for dinner, with tax and tip for just over $20. Thank you ValPak. I am going to use the school teacher approach and give it B+.

Monterrey Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 24, 2010

DaVeste Vineyards


Okay, if you don't like wine (or it doesn't like you) - stop reading. For the rest, here's the scoop. Stevie kidnapped my debit card last time we were there. Purely accidental I am sure, but none the less, she got to see us twice in one day. Wow... that sounded better in my head. Anyway, we just went back for a tasting to see what's new. Here's the cool part - there is a lot of new. They brought in a new wine maker about a year ago and tasting his touch on the 2008 wines show the changes in store. The 2009s will be 100% his creations and will be a clear reflection of his style.

To really see what his tastes are, they are hosting a tapas dinner with wine pairings on Thursday night. It's January 28th at 6pm sharp. You will need to call on Weds to reserve a spot. Talk to Stevie. Tell her you know the guy who's debit card she stole and that should get a laugh. Anyway, it's some seafood and meat dishes, a dessert. All the usual suspects really.

Beyond that, if you like wine, take some time to do a tasting and get ready for the Dulcinea. There are two - the 2007 and 2008. I am a huge fan of the 2008. It's a chilled red dessert wine and it is fantastic. Overall, all of the wines are good. They are putting the remaining 2006 bottles on sale to clear out stock. That was their first vintage, and they are all quite dry. At $10 a bottle - it's a deal.

Watch for info coming in February for their new wine releases. We expect a party. I hope they know that.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lowes Foods is King of the BOGO

So, I think it is quite obvious that I enjoy food. I prefer when someone else does all of the hard work, but groceries are a must in any house. Lowe's Foods is one of those stores I only hit when there is a great sale. Well - GREAT SALE ALERT! Here's the list of the BOGO (Buy 1 Get 1 Free) stuff that caught my attention:
Boneless chicken breast
Boston Butt pork roast
Ground turkey
London broil
Breyers ice cream
Shredded cheese
Cheez-it crackers
New England coffee
(the Chocolate Cappuccino is awesome)
There is other stuff like apple juice, rice, etc...

They have a couple deep discounts too:
Pepsi product 2 liters 69 cents
DiGiorno Pizzas $3.99
The have limits, so bring the whole family :)


Check out the flyer on your way in. The new one at the corner of Williamson and Brawley has some Grand Opening specials every day. Don't miss out.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Brixx on a Budget. Novel thought :)


So after nearly completing my MBA at Brixx, I get some good emails now and again. This one came as two parts. Copy and print the screen shot above for the deal listed. A FREE salad (they have a few great ones to choose from) with the purchase of two dinner entrees. We tend to take our daughter, so the salad will double as her meal. Add some chicken/shrimp/salmon and it's a good meal.

The second part is their Double Date offer. We can all use one of them now and again. Buy 2 pizzas Get 2 Free! It actually is for every two you buy, you get two free - dine in. Bless you if you can eat 4 and get 4 free, but that's the deal too. Take a group, take your co-workers out, something. One thing is for sure - my favorite kind of food is free, so I will take it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Restaurant and Travel discount all in one

So Restaurant.com is trying to make it cheaper to travel in 2010. Not only do you get 75% off on Gift Certificates, they have added an Orbitz travel discount as well. Us the discount code FEAST when ordering and you will receive a $50 off certificate for Orbitz. The Orbitz discount is off of a 3 night (or more) stay booked through Orbitz.com

Offer ends Tuesday January 26, 2010.

If you need any help using this discount, refer to the instructions on the December 2009 post for restaurant.com (titled 3 DAYS TO SAVE) or send me a post. I am more than happy to help.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kobe (just not the one you were thinking)


So being a lover of all things sushi, living away from the ocean is tough. Living near the lake has several options for the seafood lover - and yet I work nowhere near it. So the next best thing... Hickory, you guessed it. Okay, maybe you didn't.

Kobe in Hickory looks (on the outside) much like the Kobe Hero in Cornelius. Inside is a lot different. Kobe Hero went for a lot of dark, rich granite surfaces and such. This one is simple and light. What really matters is the food though right? Of course.

I love to start off lunch ordering a garden salad with ginger dressing. Theirs (like most) are bagged "american mix" salad greens with some shreds of carrot. A little tomato, a large dollop of dressing and we are in business. Certainly not to the quality or quantity of Joels or Sushi at the Lake, but the price is $2 and that makes me happy.

There were two of us for lunch, so 4 rolls typically gets the job done. In December, they ran a great Buy 3 Get 1 Free promo. It was like buying tires - only with a lot more flavor :) We got ordered a Spicy Tuna Roll (extra spicy), a Spicy Salmon Roll (that had cream cheese - yum), a Shrimp Tempura Roll and a roll I don't really remember other than it had tuna, cucumber and cream cheese. It was the most forgettable really.

All of them were good. Not the super-thick rolls that make you OPEN WIDE, but good for the $4-$4.50 that we paid. The fish is very fresh, the veggies were as well. Overall a good deal for lunch. For the sushi-impaired, they do offer Teppan teriyaki or hibachi lunches of chicken, steak or shrimp. All of them are in the $7-$8 range (about the norm).

As far as service, I have only sat in the sushi bar side, and had one waitress every single time (6 in total in the last 6 weeks). She is absolutely on it every time. I mean IMPRESSIVE service. She is not the hostess type, not the chatty Cathy type either, she is a waitress almost in the style from an old diner [Do you remember Alice at Mel's Diner???]. The soda never goes low, the napkins come without asking, the checking in and taking plates is automatic. The bill does not show up until she is sure you are finished. Very efficient and consistent. That is a plus for a lunch visit when you need to get back to work. I am a fan for sure and will continue to go.

I still have to get my Kobe Hero certificates from Restaurant.com and get back there to see how the two compare now.

Have a great night and remember - Eat because you want to and not because you have to.

Kobe' Japanese House of Steak on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Boeuf a la Bourguignon Challenge Completed


So there you go all. It is done. 1 hour of prep, 3 hours of cook time and OH MY GOODNESS. That was yummy. In my efforts to stay true French, I used a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothchild Bourdeaux.

I am thinking of doing the stuffed duck for the next one. I figure I will do the recipes that Julie thought were tough on "Julie and Julia." Personal competition really.

Have a great night and eat well.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I have accepted the challenge!!!

Julia Child's Bouef Bourguignon and I are doing battle tomorrow. Stay tuned. Do not try this at home (yet). If you hear fire trucks, bring the wine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Booster Club vs. Bad Service


So how do you get a little help for the athletics boosters in a tough economy... seek funds and prizes from local businesses. Before I go into my story, let me just say how awesome Lowes Home Improvements has been to Troutman and Iredell Schools. They have supplied, funded and supported several projects at the local schools. Not little stuff, tens of thousands of dollars in support - repeatedly. AWESOME!!! Thanks.

So where was I? Oh yeah Texas. Not the state, not the Roadhouse. Texas Steakhouse (stuck back behind the hotels and Golden Corral area off 150 at Exit 36). So our little student athlete gets a coupon for being a great student, then a mystery value gift card for her athletics. The long and short - we took the bait and got caught in the hook.

We were greeted immediately (arriving there around 6:40pm). The parking was about half full, and so was the restaurant. There was a large staff working, so there did not appear to be any rushing around. That will come up later. We get seated, greeted and place our drink orders; get the appetizer offer (declined) and looked at the menu. All of their low priced options from several months ago are gone. Sandwiches are in the $7.99/8.99 area, but the under $10 steaks are gone. Most were $14 and up.

We order healthy, so it's a pair of black and blue salads and a soup/salad combo. It's hard to go to a steak place and not get some form of steak. Here's where it starts to fall off... bread (a normal instant) was "offered". I don't really care about bread, but just get it and drop it off. Our daughter tends to have a hollow leg, so something to tide her over is always a plus. In the course of our 20+ minute wait for salads... yes, salads... my glass stayed near empty. There was NO contact from the server. She actually walked by our table on multiple occasions to see other tables, so I really did not appreciate the lack of service.

Food arrives: The soup and salad combo for our daughter was nicer than expected. Soup comes in a bread bowl. Potato and bacon soup had thick texture (like a good potato soup), and the salad was a decent size to compliment the soup. The steak on the salads was not hot, so that feeds my 20 minute question, but back on task... I order my meat medium and accept variations of temp with ease. This was rare. Chewy rare. Sirloin is not a quality enough meat in many cases to be cooked rare and not be chewy. Certainly this situation makes that case. Everything else about the salad was very good. Plenty of blue cheese, good dressing, onion frizzle things, all of the fixings.

Hey guess what? Glass still near empty half way through the salad. A person wearing an Army t-shirt came and filled our glasses, so we were happy. Hopefully she worked there. That drew me to look around and all of the servers wore white oxfords, but there were all kinds of people wearing whatever shirt and jeans that fit their mood I guess. Nothing that fit a restaurant setting. Just odd - sloppy dress leads to sloppy work.

Bill comes, overall price was fair for what we got. Total time there was over an hour - FOR SALADS. I did get a survey which will save me $5 on my next visit. What do you think, should I take the hook? Let me know. Without a coupon, it's off my list. Not sure that $5 will get me there either.

Texas Steakhouse & Saloon on Urbanspoon

Local economy strikes another

While many of us know downtown Statesville has made an effort to change and improve, down goes another victim. Small shops, bakeries and such have all disappeared over the last year and Maestro's Restaurant becomes the latest victim. A partner in the restaurant was the owner of Wine Maestro (hence the name), but nothing can seem to change the fact that the economy is still hurting the mom and pop business owner.

In an effort to add new life, Grouchos (out of SC) is coming to downtown Statesville. The sandwiches get good reviews, but the sauces seem to invoke the greatest reviews. Inside scoop says about two more weeks until they open. I can assure you I will be all over those sauces and let you know.

To anyone that has a favorite local spot, remember that they need you. Coming from a resturant family - it really makes a difference. Look for their specials and show your support.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chili's on a budget


Like anyone, a good dose of chips and salsa can make me happy. We do a salsa at home based on the Chili's recipe (and it's great), but we never have chips as good. Well, if you are like me - Sunday is for you!

Chili's has an unadvertised special in the "lounge/bar" area on Sundays that is their Happy Hour menu. You can get it on weekday afternoons, but work seems to get in the way of that. Number One Rule: Sit on the left side. It's non-smoking now (YEAH!), so it's really all the same - add TVs.

The Grilled Chicken Sandwich is my favorite. $4.99, topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato; comes with fries and it's normally $7.99. I am all about saving 3 bucks. Same goes for the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad - just $4.99. There are burger minis with fries, various appetizers, and draft beers all dollars below regular price. The only catch is where you sit. I presume the "bar" moniker is still difficult to overcome on a Sunday in south, and from the looks of it, the restaurant side does well because of it.

They knock a little off the chips, but the bottomless part is where I make my mark. The servers are so nice, they will pack you a bag to go home with too. How can you beat that?

Please remember to save the soda for home. $2 a soda is the norm, and kills the dealing feeling when you see that on the bill. Water helps the salsa go down anyway. Using the water plan, 4 of us ate there yesterday for $30 including tip. I tip well, so yes, this is a GREAT deal.

Want to know a secret on getting the best service possible whenever you go to a Chili's anywhere??? Here it is - the restaurant side is where they train new servers. If you sit on the lounge side, no rookies, only the best servers that they have. You may get someone on a bad day, but they are the most experienced. In some cases, on a light day it may be the bartender. If so, sit on the right side of the bar section (closest to the middle of the restaurant). It's closest to the opening on the side of the bar. It's easier for the bartender to get to you, and other servers come to that side to get their drinks i.e.: They will top of your drinks/chips to help the bartender out and get their stuff faster.

Ahhhh. All make sense now? Good! As Wolfgang Puck would say: Live, Love, Eat!

Chili's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 8, 2010

Duckworths coupons



I completed a survey on our visit last month to Duckworths - one of those that comes with your bill. It obviously got me on their mailing list, and I was pleasantly surprised to get these coupons. We are in the process of picking another date night (for the budget concious) and may jump right back for some fajitas.

I will continue to post the coupons as they come, and encourage you to do the survey yourself if you go. Give them your honest feedback and save money in one shot. Not a bad way to go.

If you can't get the image to print well enough, shoot me a message with your email and I will forward to you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

So on a take out note - we all had an opportunity to try the new Domino's recipe pizzas for the football regular season finale. They state they have improved the cheese by using 100% mozzarella and add provolone for flavor; they have added 40% more herbs and spices to the sauce; added flavoring to the crust (in it and brushed on with garlic dressing).

First note - the sauce definitely has more bite. You can tell there is a difference. The crust is a huge improvement. It's still not like Hungry Howies flavored crusts, but it is the biggest improvement in this change. The cheese did not really seem any different. I love provolone, but could not taste it. Not a big deal, this is a convenience pizza - not my usual fare. I just wanted to share some feedback.

My football season has ended, so there will be no more of that for a while.