Dining Outside the Home: Ernestine and Hazel’s in Memphis, Tennessee

Dining Outside the Home: Ernestine and Hazel’s in Memphis, Tennessee! Housed in a building steeped with southern history lies a gathering place where the burgers are greasy, the music is hypnotic, and the liquor is smooth. People connect with the heart and soul at the mere thought of Chuck Berry or Ray Charles, listening as the jukebox plays on. Upstairs an aura of mystique practically oozes from the heavily color-draped walls. That’s no coincidence, especially after hearing murmurings of shadowy figures and other unexplained phenomenon based on the dozen or so tragic deaths that occurred there. Perhaps that is why the seasoned bartender keeps his head down, humming under his breath, and serves up a stiff one.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Green Bean Casserole!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Green Bean Casserole! Can we ever get enough of this all-time favorite side dish? I think not! It seems there are all sorts of variations on this classic holiday casserole. Some of my friends only use French-style green beans while others prefer freshly snapped. And the seasonings are all over the map from Hawaiian sea salt medleys to crushed Midwest garden herbs. I keep it simple because, honestly, once you add the French fried onion rings, everything else takes a back seat.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

2 cans whole green beans, drained and cut-up

1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup light cream

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash herb and garlic seasoning

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 1/2 cups French fried onions

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a medium casserole dish with nonstick spray. Combine green beans, cream of mushroom soup, light cream, herb seasoning, and salt. Mix well. Fold in 1/2 cup of French fried onion pieces. Place in casserole dish. Spread evenly. Arrange remaining French fried onion rings over top around the edges leaving the center open. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Dining Outside the Home: Roscoe’s Coffee Bar in Richmond, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: Roscoe’s Coffee Bar in Richmond, Indiana! For a nice stop on the east side of town, go for impressive organic coffees, fruit smoothies, and gastronomic food. Although the atmosphere might be laid back, the menu compensates with imaginative options. Take a seat inside at one of the warm wood communal tables while sipping on a nitrogen-infused cold coffee or perhaps an imperial brown ale. Friendly strangers might join you for a little conversation. The food is locally sourced, using a quality blend of fresh ingredients. Overall, Roscoe’s East Side is pretty down-to-earth and easy on the pocketbook.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: “Quazy” Carrot Cake!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Quazy Carrot Cake! “What’s up, Doc?” is something we’ve all heard Bugs Bunny say more than once. You may find yourself asking the same question when you take a bite of this tasty version of Carrot Cake. It’s loaded with fresh carrots, pineapple tidbits, and chopped pecans. The crowning moment comes when you smack your lips together over the wonderful cream cheese icing. I have seen expressions of jubilation over this award-winning dessert. Treat yourself to something special this weekend.

QUAZY CARROT CAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 cups carrots, grated

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup pecans, chopped

Ingredients for Icing:

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add oil, eggs, carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Transfer to baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and Neufchâtel cheese. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. When cake is cool, top with cream cheese icing. Garnish with a pecan half.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Judy’s Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Sauce!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Judy’s Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Sauce! I always get excited when I receive the gift of food. My friend, Judy, thrilled me beyond measure when she shared this treat from her kitchen. It’s the perfect combination of sea salt caramel and pumpkin purée. It not only transforms a cup of coffee into a pumpkin spice addiction, but it also tastes incredible on a breakfast muffin. If you ask my husband, he’ll say you can eat it over ice cream by the spoonful.

JUDY’S PUMPKIN SEA SALT CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup pumpkin purée

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring often to avoid scorching. Continue cooking until sugar turns light amber in color and all sugar crystals have dissolved, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and mix well. Change utensils to a heat-resistant whisk and quickly whisk in the cream and pumpkin. Lastly, add cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth, removing all lumps. Transfer to a jar. Cool at room temperature, seal, and store in the refrigerator.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Cranberry Loaf!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Cranberry Loaf! Like the magic of sugar plums dancing in your head, ordinary bitter-tasting cranberries are transformed into deliciously sweet quick breads simply by creaming butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. The sugar and vanilla extract enhance the flavor while the walnuts give it a nice crunch. If you prefer an orange glaze or dollop of cream cheese, be my guest. Once the Cranberry Loaf popped out of the oven, I slathered on a thick layer of French sea salt butter and forgot about anything else.

CRANBERRY LOAF

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, one at a time

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup light cream

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, slightly chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Set aside. In a food processor, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing to mix. Add vanilla extract and pulse again. Stir together flour and baking soda. Beginning with flour mixture, gradually pulse into food processor with creamed butter, alternating with light cream. Repeat until combined, being careful not to over-beat. Fold in walnuts and cranberries. Spoon batter evenly into two loaf pans. Bake 60-70 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. The loaves will have a rich, golden color.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays: Yuletide Favs!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays: Yuletide Favs! Good times naturally accompany good food. Every family has its favorites. Some indulge in time-worn traditions while others enjoy modern classics. As you embrace the holidays with companionship, nostalgia, food, or festivities, celebrate the spirit of the season. In the next few weeks, join me as I share favorite foods as well as healthy options. Bring it home for the holidays with Yuletide Favs! Follow me on Instagram @gail_dorna or check in with me on Twitter @Snapshotsincursive. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Zingy Weeknight Pasta! Don’t you love it when everything you need for a quick meal is right at your fingertips? Well, I do. This was one of those nights when everything in the fridge “must-go” simply because we were leaving on a trip the next day. I already had a jar of homemade marinara sauce, but feel free to substitute a store bought variety you probably keep in your pantry, next to the package of spaghetti. The chicken strips are frozen, grilled, and precooked. Don’t judge me. It works. Oh, and I actually served freshly grated parmesan cheese as a garnish, but we sprinkled it on at the table. 
ZINGY WEEKNIGHT PASTA
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green pepper, chopped 

1 small onion, chopped 

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups prepared marinara 

2 cups precooked grilled chicken strips, cut into chunks

1/2 pound sliced salami, cut into pieces

4 ounces spaghetti, cooked

Parmesan cheese for garnish 
Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped green pepper, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add marinara sauce. Meanwhile, microwave frozen chicken to thaw. Cut into chunks. Add chicken and salami to sauce. Stir to mix. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, but remove the pasta 4 minutes earlier than directed since we are going to add the spaghetti to the sauce to finish cooking. Once the spaghetti is prepared to that point, ladle some of the pasta water into the sauce, about 1/3 cup. This will add wonderful flavor and help thicken the sauce nicely. Now drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce mixture, without rinsing. Let the spaghetti finish cooking until it is al dente. Serve in pasta bowls. Garnish with parmesan cheese. (Freeze any leftovers to serve when you return from a day of travel.)