louisville – day 2

after a quick visit to the famed churchill downs friday morning…

…we ventured on over to biscuit belly, another sara-recommended spot.  if i could only say one thing about biscuit belly, it is that we LOVED it.

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but!  i’ll of course say more than just that.  now, after being overcome by what my dad called an “ordering frenzy,” we all settled in with our coffees, both hot and cold brew style.

as i snapped a picture of the cute mugs and glasses, clark so kindly educated us about what the kids are saying and doing these days when it comes to social media.  yes, kelsey, it’s more than just regular blogs like yours.  i learned about “camera eats first,” which about made me die, and then also “influencers in the wild.”  it’s funny how we were victims of these trends without even realizing it.  thank you, clark, for helping your 32 year old sister stay current.  🙂

we put our devices down briefly as our food started coming out, and i think we all felt our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  so, what exactly did we order?  well, let me tell you.  for the table to share, we ordered the bonuts, the gravy train, and the pancake corndogs.  if you want the inside scoop, try dipping the bonut into the chocolate gravy from the gravy train.  you’ll be in biscuit heaven, i guarantee it.

but don’t forget that we all also had our entrees, as if we needed more!  we tried the love shack, the basic biscuit, and the rockwell.

i told you we ordered a lot!  we were at our table for nearly two hours just eating and drinking and solving all the world’s problems.  it was a homerun, and i think we all left wishing we had a location in each of our hometowns.

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louisville – day 1

like many folks these days, our plans have been canceled or rearranged, and while some days we might feel down about it all, others you just have to make your own happiness happen.  phillip and i did just that this past weekend with a quick getaway to louisville, ky.  it was a good halfway point to meet up with my dad (who drove up from alabama) and my younger brother clark (who flew down from chicago).

phillip, clark, and i got in around lunch, so after we dropped our suitcases at the hotel, we took a walk to the highlands to try out el taco luchador.  this spot was recommended by my friend sara, who lived here for several years, and is bright and fun, serving up delicious food and beverages.

round one was a couple of coronas, of course, while clark tried the frozen watermelon margarita.  clark said his drink was tasty and only made better with an order of chips and queso.  apparently, the only way they serve queso in chicago is fundido-style which, although good in its own way, cannot quite compare to the runny, mouthwatering white queso you find at mexican restaurants in the south.  i think clark was in heaven with each bite!

as for the tacos themselves, we all three tried the baja fish taco and declared it the uncontested favorite.  between the perfectly battered filet and crispy cabbage, it was a taco that would satisfy any taco-lover in town.

baja fish tacos & the al pastor taco.

also tried (and devoured) were the al pastor, carnitas, and chicharron tacos.  they, too, were a tasty trio, and for me, the chicharron was so perfect and tender that i had to order a second!

the carnitas & chicharron tacos.

later that day, milo rolled into louisville and, inevitably, it was time to eat again.  if you’ve ever been on a trip with my family, you know the plans largely revolve around food.  surely we aren’t the only ones?

we wanted something good but not too fancy and soon settled on trying feast bbq.  how did we decide on trying feast?  i’d be lying if i told you it wasn’t because of the bourbon slushies they prominently feature on their site… 🙂  also, it was a short drive from the hotel.

dad had the brisket sandwich, which he rated as an 8 out of 10.  i feel like that’s saying a lot seeing as how he has lived in the south over 30 years now and has tried his fair share of brisket.

clark went for the pulled pork sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries.  he commented that it all was perfectly satisfying.

phillip and i were in a sharing mood since we were still full from lunch, so we munched on the simple salad (gotta get some greens, somehow, some way) and crispy mac & cheese balls (which, in our opinion, didn’t need the overpowering horseradish sauce at all).

overall, we ended our first day in louisville two for two.  not a bad start!

it’s doughp, yo!

like many folks these days, i have taken the opportunity to seize moments i couldn’t otherwise. like deep cleaning the house. or really tackling the yard work. or ordering stuff just because i want to. this post is related to that final category. 🙂

as i have alluded to previously, i am a sucker for a good marketing campaign. the p’zone and cheez-it pizza squares by pizza hut? tried ’em both. the shaqaroni by papa john’s? had it just the other week. the famous popeye’s chicken sandwich? devoured it. the list goes on and on. truly. just ask any of my family and friends. my latest foodie adventure, though, is a little on the sweeter side with edible raw cookie dough by doughp.

the reasons i wanted to try doughp included…

  1. the founder’s name is kelsey. that honestly should be enough reason.
  2. it’s cookie dough. i like cookies. i like dough. ’nuff said.
  3. and there’s a good cause behind each purchase.

oh, and i had a sweet-ass bogo coupon from my favorite daily newsletter morning brew. that had a little something to do with it, too.

regardless of why i was motivated to place that order, how was the dough? was it as doughp as i wanted it to be? in a few short words, yes, it was.

we ordered the self control cookie dough box and at first did just eat the dough by the spoonfuls right out of the containers. the general consensus (between phillip and i) was that the dough was tasty and the different flavors were fun, but i wasn’t getting ready to smack my mama over it.

it then dawned on me that we should probably bake the dough and see what we thought of it then. oh, honey, was that just the best idea we’d had all day? i think so. i’ll be honest, i loved doughp SO much more when baked. i’m talking a junk ton more. the first batch we underbaked slightly, so they were warm and ooey and gooey right out of the oven. the second batch we let go a little longer, and each crispy bite was still delicious.

phillip’s favorite was “i need smore” while i could easily put away a whole tub of “cookie monsta” myself, and i definitely recommend the variety pack if you want a little, yes, variety. lawlz.

so, if you’re in the mood to treat yo’self and do a little something good at the same time, go order some doughp right away. as far as i see it, your satisfaction is guaranteed. 🙂

staying busy

extra time at home these days has created extra opportunity to tend to things i’ve neglected.  these could be things i’ve wanted to do or, just as easily, things i have avoided.  either way, there is no time like the present, and i’ve tried to balance rest with productivity over the past several months.

this post includes snapshots of some crafts we’ve done, foods we’ve tried, or activities we have enjoyed.  with so many circumstances being less than desirable these days, it’s important to find that silver lining and focus on the things that can still bring a smile to your face.  🙂

first, no project can start off without the perfect beverage to set the mood, right?  right!  whether a summer fad, an old standby, or a new favorite, here are some of the tasty treats we’ve concocted recently.

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with thirsts quenched, phillip and i have tackled countless improvements and chores around the house.  one of the most labor-intensive yet rewarding has been the transformations in our yards.  over several weekends now, we’ve nursed our variety of rose bushes, mowed that grass, potted some impatients, moved some shrubs, laid out some pavers, and spread some mulch.  we also got to watch some birdies build a nest on our front door for their five chicks.  maybe we do have green thumbs!

and when it’s too hot to work outside, we take things inside to do stuff like paint mason jars to hold all our flours

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and turn a tired footrest into a charming stool

and clean up some silver from my grandparents

and craft a sign for our nephew’s playhouse

the first official craft in our craft room. 🙂

and hang up some frames.

might be time to change out that trio of pics, lol.

now, i think all that hard work deserves a reward, and you all know by now we are self-proclaimed foodies.  take a look at some of the eats we have treated ourselves to lately.  disclaimer:  none of it is healthy, lawlz.

if you’re interested in any of the recipes or locations mentioned above, you can easily find the link below.  and if there is an at-home must-try you think i just cannot live without, leave a comment to let me know!

mozzarella!

earlier this month i wanted to plan a little date night in for phillip and me and was inspired when my coworker sue told me about a creamery in pennsylvania that offers mozzarella-making kits and instructions.  no sooner were the words out of her mouth than i had placed my order for a pound of our very own curds.

you want to know the most interesting thing i learned about making mozzarella?  that once you have the curds, it really doesn’t take long at all!  rynn takes you through the mozz-making process step by step in an adorable online video you get access to once your curds arrive.  to echo her suggestion, i highly recommend pouring yourself a drink, kicking back, and simply watching the process first before diving in to make your own.  rynn is charming and entertaining and informative all at the same time and really does give you deep insight into cheese and, of course, mozzarella.

once we felt prepared, we inched our aprons and shred our curds and boiled our water and sprinkled our salt and got to work.  the process, again, really isn’t too difficult, and i ultimately think the most important step is getting your water hot enough.  i don’t know that ours was because our mozz balls were a little lumpy and not as smooth as i think they could have been.  however, it was still a fun time watching those curds clump together and then pulling them with the spoon for that picturesque waterfall effect.  i mean, i think they look pretty good for first-timers!

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so now that we had our fresh mozzarella available, how did we enjoy it?  well, we sliced up one of the balls and enjoyed it on its own, and some things just taste better when you make them yourself.  next up that night were individual pizzas with our lovely mozz plopped on top.  each bite was super cheesy and super delicious.  then, we paired the mozz with some fresh tomatoes, basil, and vinegar for a little caprese salad.  how gourmet!

if you like cooking and you like cheese, please order yourself some curds and join in on the fun.  it was a delightful evening in and almost makes me feel like i’m right in italy alongside the experts.  almost.  🙂

daily harvest

for several months now i have been reading an e-newsletter from a group called morning brew.  a free newsletter like this is, of course, to a degree supported by advertisements, and a sponsor they’ve had recently is daily harvest.  i’ve seen their commercials on tv and after several weeks finally gave in and ordered our first box.  yes, i am okay that i gave into the marketing overlords’ motives.  and yes, this is one of those times it was worth it.

why do i suggest giving daily harvest a try?  because they make it easy to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies.  because they have all sorts of smoothie options.  because everything really is ready within minutes.  because they also have bowls and lattes and flatbreads and soups and snack bites.  the reasons could go on and on.  phillip and i have our third box arriving this week, and we’ve loved just about everything we have tried.  wait, is this a daily harvest commercial?  i think it could be.  just look at all the yummy treats we’ve enjoyed!

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if you’d like to get your own box delivered and begin your healthier-eating routine, let me know.  i’ll shoot that referral link your way.  😉

quarantine calories

i feel like most folks are doing a handful of things with their time these days:  working (if lucky enough to do so), cleaning, hobby-ing, childcaring, and eating.  among all those things, the last one might be the most fun.

over the past two weeks, we’ve been hosting phillip’s sister natalie and her doggie wyatt, and as a household of individuals who love food, we have been fortunate to support some local businesses and adventure into some new recipes together.  today’s post includes mouthwatering photos of all our eats.  get ready to drool!

nat and wyatt.

our first stop after picking up natalie and wyatt from the airport was zaxby’s.  natalie doesn’t have zaxby’s up in nyc, so it was definitely a homecoming meal.  oh, and in case you want a pro tip, check out this recipe to make your own zax sauce.  it’s super easy and worth the minimal effort, i promise.

hhhnnnggg, homemade zax sauce.

the next night, phillip and natalie were together to celebrate their 32nd birthday!  aw, it made my heart so happy.  we started with a specially delivered dinner from alessio’s restaurant & pizzeria in norcross.  from the lasagna and garlic knots to the tortellini cardinal and the chicken francese, it was quite a feast, and i don’t doubt we’ll go dine in once we can.  and, no birthday is complete without a cake!  thank you, publix, for the fudge and strawberry filled chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.  🙂

the mornings were definitely prime opportunities for some tasty treats over the past several days.  from whipped coffee (i promise this trend is worth the work)…

to avocado toast…

to simply done donuts

to dirty horchata

to mimosas…

cheers!

and finally chrissy teigen’s banana bread.  it was some good eatin’.

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we didn’t leave dinner out at all.  we became kroger recipe experts, first with their arugula, goat cheese, and olive pasta salad.  i couldn’t keep natalie away from it, lol!  on Easter sunday we also tried out and really enjoyed their pork & peach tacos with ginger brown rice.

alongside the tacos we chowed down on my favorite corn dip.  i don’t know where on earth i got this recipe, but i’m glad i have it.

our tex-mex dinner that day had been preceded by a monkey bread breakfast and a deviled egg snack.  om nom nom.

in addition to trying out several kroger recipes, we also busted out the blue apron cards and loved the pork burgers with potato wedges and beef and rice bowls.

beef rice bowl and those pickled radishes. yum.

at some point over the past several days, i also whipped up this spicy pasta salad by ree drummond.  anything with gouda in it just makes my heart sing.

the evening was, of course, always an opportunity to nosh and also spend some of our hard-earned dollars at the nearby establishments.  we had mcdonald’s on our anniversary, freddy’s on thursday just because it was thursday, noodles from lon u on friday because we were craving pad thai, and marco’s pizza on saturday because who doesn’t love some ‘za.

and of all the sweet treats we had for dessert, i think phillip’s homemade ice cream sundaes were my favorite.  ❤

so, have you discovered any tasty recipes you’d like to share?  or have a local restaurant you think we just must try?  let us know and, above all else, stay safe.

p.s. i realize that many people out there are not currently in a position to splurge on food and groceries or even acquire the essentials.  if anyone out there needs a helping hand, i hope we can either assist or that you are able to find what you need right when you need it.  let’s keep everyone in mind these days, especially those severely impacted by everything that surrounds us.

and she made pasta

i’m sure many of us are trying to occupy our suddenly copious amounts of free time, and i am no exception, especially since i have a week of pto coming up.  i’ve already done a little tidying and organizing, but the other night i got a flash of inspiration to make my own pasta dough.  sure, why not!

with flour in the pantry and eggs in the fridge, i set off to follow this recipe by gemma stafford.  i’d perused a few sites before settling on her approach, and i’d be lying if i said her charming smile and accent weren’t a couple of the deciding factors.

i grabbed my ingredients and cleared off the counter and got to work at about 10:30 on friday night.  i’m not in charge of when inspiration strikes!  i just answer when it calls.  🙂

the kneading itself wasn’t particularly difficult, but it did take some patience and those few splashes of water like gemma recommends.  i also should have probably let the eggs come to room temperature, but i was flying by the seat of my pants here and couldn’t wait.

the dough did come together nicely, don’t you think?  once all wrapped up, it sat overnight in the fridge.

now, when it came to rolling out the dough and getting it prepped for cooking, i definitely should have let the dough rest out of the fridge for a bit.  the first half that i rolled out was a bit tough and had me breaking a sweat!  the second half was more pliable and, i think, ended up thinner than the first.  this is called the “living and learning” process.  i lived it and i learned for next time.

i will say it was extremely satisfying to cut up the dough into noodles once it was ready.  look at that happy little pile!

i boiled up a big ‘ole pot of salted water and cooked the noodles for only about two minutes.  remember, because it’s fresh pasta, it doesn’t need too long.  per gemma’s recommendation, i topped our bowls with butter, pepper, and a healthy showering of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  my review?  it was a delicious saturday afternoon snack.  the pasta really was divine, and i can imagine with a homemade sauce on top it would be that much more enjoyable.  sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that bring a smile to your face.

bon appetit!

dining in duluth

with our recent move to duluth, one should not be surprised that phillip and i have started exploring the nearby food scene.  your typical chain restaurants are easily accessible, but we like to try and keep it local when the opportunity presents itself.  here’s a quick overview of the spots we’ve tried so far!

one of the firsts was sara donuts, which was recommended to us by our friends bank and liz.  it’s quite close by, so one morning after my eye appointment i stopped in for a couple coffees and picked out a little sampler.  the traditional glazed donut was pretty solid, but i think i liked the chocolate glazed cake donut better.  i believe my response to the first bite was “ooh, yum.”  i saved the sausage roll for last, to which i commented “yep, that’s good, too.”  you can bet we’ll be regulars at sara’s soon enough.

keeping with the breakfast theme, valentino’s bakery was a fun adventure into authentic venezuelan cuisine.  i wasn’t really sure what we were ordering, so the customer in front of us helped translate so that i could make some choices.  first was a cute box of assorted cookies, and then we tried the cachito, which basically was a tastier version of a hot pocket.  we did eat up just about everything, and i’d like to go back and try the pressed sandwiches some day.

only one more breakfast stop (for now), and i promise we’ll move on.  the maple street biscuit company was our first visit to downtown duluth, and we met our friends grant and tabri there for a sunday brunch.  we started with an order of biscuits for the table, which were deliciously buttery and extra tasty with a dollop of jam.  phillip and i split the grit bowl, which unfortunately looked better than it tasted.  from what i know, tabri enjoyed his picks, and i know grant liked his firebird biscuit sandwich, which might be what i get next time.

bizkits for everyone!

as for good lunch spots, i don’t think you could go wrong with either armando’s caribe (another recommendation from bank and liz) or armando’s taqueria.  the former is a sit-down spot with delicious cuban sandwiches while the latter is a bit more fast-casual with a nice variety of street tacos.  i wouldn’t recommend the tamales (not much flavor) but know phillip would love to tell you about the cow stomach taco he tried!

tacos from the taqueria.

if you’re lazy like we sometimes are, you can order a gyro plate from opa! to be delivered right to your house with doordash.  phillip and i both liked the gyros, which were busting at the seams with creamy tzatziki sauce and meat.  however, we agreed this meal would be better at the restaurant, fresh from the kitchen.  guess we’ll just have to go there!

our first fancier dinner out was at roma italiano ristorante.  it’s an intimate spot with friendly service and delicious dinner rolls.  you know we love our carbs!  phillip started with a cup of wedding soup, perfect on a winter night, while i scarfed down a wedge salad.  our entrees included the fettucine alfredo with grilled chicken and spaghetti with meatballs and marinara.  although maybe not my first choice for italian in our city, i wouldn’t complain if someone suggested it for a meal.

now, i believe i may have saved the best for last.  i don’t know what drew us there, but one night after a workout, phillip and i wandered into the halal guys.  why do i suggest it is the best of what we’ve had so far?  it could be because phillip ate his queso and lamb filled burrito so quickly i couldn’t even get a picture of it!  i myself munched on french fries with the white dipping sauce along with my falafel platter.  although the healthier choice, i’ll admit i was a little jealous of phillip’s burrito – i only hope it is not a limited time item so that i can go back and try it also!

so, there we have it.  our first batch of duluth eats in our first couple of months.  if you have any other must-try (or don’t-try) spots in our new neighborhood, please let us know!

a new year’s adventure

first things first – i’ve had my blog for 5 years!  and it is time to pick back up in this new decade with a fresh, new post.  here’s to great things in 2020 for us all.  🙂

somewhat on a whim, my mom and i decided to have a mother-daughter roadtrip after she spent the Christmas holiday with my younger brother clark up in washington, dc.  as you will find, this trip was just as much about our appetites as it was our time together, and i wouldn’t change a thing about it!

day one was a drive from the nation’s capital to norfolk, va.  for many reasons, it is a sentimental spot for my mother, and seeing as how i had never been, it was the perfect first stop on our trip.  during our drive south on i-64 we caught up on anything and everything and solved all the world’s problems at once.  if only someone would ask for our opinion, lol!

it ended up being quite a drive with lots of traffic and roadwork, so by the time we arrived in mermaid city, we were a hungry pair.  we dumped our luggage at the hotel and had a mostly forgettable dinner at guy fieri’s smokehouse.  even though there admittedly were generous lumps of crab meat atop our waffle fries, the best part may have been watching people trying to ride the mechanical bull.  that’s always good entertainment.  thankfully, dessert on the other hand was a bit better with a sweet treat from the fudgery, which my mom remembers from when she tended bar at a nearby waterside restaurant.  isn’t it neat how we can recall things like that?

after a good night of rest, the next day we started with some breakfast at yorgos bageldashery.  it had glowing reviews on yelp, and since i love a good bagel, we decided to give it a try.  it turns out we have taste just as good as the locals, as they were swarming the place right upon our arrival.  we chatted it up with another patron in line who recommended the chicken salad, so we split some of that along side a couple of bagels.  mom had a pumpernickel bagel with olive spread (an ode to her mother florence) while i enjoyed a classic plain bagel with veggie cream cheese.

while we waited on the bagels, we dug into the chicken salad first.  was it tasty?  yes, but when you come from alabama and georgia, your chicken salad tastebuds are a little different.  i don’t think we would order it again, but everyone does chicken salad differently, and theirs was all their own.

mom loved her bagel, especially because there was an abundance of olives, both green and black!  my bagel was also delicious.  i think i would have gone with a different spread (and maybe doubled up on the cream cheese because we all know i love cream cheese) but still ate up every bite of mine.

fueled up with full bellies, our tour of norfolk continued as my mom drove us past a couple of houses her parents owned when they lived there.  we even found the church where my parents married nearly 35 years ago now.  even though the town may not be exactly as she remembered, it was still fun to be with her as she took a trip down memory lane.

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