Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gourmet Dining At RouXbarb’s

Bev makes good use of Groupon and the other similar deal-offering services and recently purchased one for “RouXbarb” restaurant in Knoxville.  The deal offered a $130 value tasting for $65 and we recently cashed it in for an early dinner.

The building is small and has contained several restaurants that we can remember, but upon entering, it was obvious this was a pretty upscale place – at 5:30pm we had the place nearly to ourselves, but it was pretty full when we left.  This is part of the inside and chef/ owner, Bruce Bogartz, is at the computer - he had on tomato pants similar to the ones I wear. 

Our server, who was as elegant as the dining room, came by to advise about the tasting, take our drink order, and give us a menu to look over to see if there was anything we didn’t want – Bev advised the duck.  We ordered water and a bottle of Poggio Anima "Belial" Sangiovese and the evening was off.

The menu is comprised of small plates, salads, entrees, and desserts from which we were to be given a selection of the chef’s choices – we got one dish of them to share. 

Even though I had the camera sitting there, I got so caught up in the food I forgot to take shots before we started eating, except for two of them.  Rather than do their beautiful presentations an injustice, I’ll only show those two but provide the menu description for those available.

Our meal began with these two, neither of which were described on the menu:
SOUP OF THE MOMENT, which was a curried chicken and rice soup containing and assortment of vegetables

Next came a plate containing both of these:
Lemon aioli 

Pepper jelly  

The next serving was a plate of lightly battered and deep fried flounder and shrimp served with a light sauce – it was also not on the menu, but here is a shot after only a couple of bites:

About this time we realized we needed to pace ourselves, especially when the server advised there was lots more to come, so we began boxing about half of each dish – but we were already pretty full.  Our last small plate was:

Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and leeks with truffle oil and parmesan cheese 

At this point, Chef Borgartz came by to see how it was going and asked what we wanted for our entrée, advising that in addition to the menu choices he had a nice ribeye steak, and a Waygu beef flank steak.  Since I’d been wanting to try Waygu, we agreed on the flank steak before he even got to the seafood dishes.
While it was being prepared we were served the salad course of:
Macona almond praline, goat cheese, and truffled lemon vinaigrette

The FLANK STEAK was cooked medium rare and served with horseradish mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Since there had been easily enough food for four people, we were way past full at the end of the savory dishes and just took the CINNAMON APPLE COBBLER home – we got a taste then Madison ate it.
We loved the flavors of every dish and it was great to try so many at one sitting.  I especially thought the flounder was outstanding with the light batter and it was perfectly cooked.  It was nice to try the Waygu and I can see why people rave about it.  And after this soup I may have to rethink my so-so reception of curried dishes.

I really like restaurants that have daily dishes prepared at the whim of the chef or what's in season.  I hope we can get another tasting deal, but we will be going back either way, as it was a excellent dining experience, with atmosphere, service, and food all being top notch.  I hate I blew it on the photos, but if in this area, we recommend you consider a meal at RouXbarb.

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10/25/12 event date

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hoisin Chicken & Shrimp Stir Fry

We had some shrimp left from the Caribbean Shrimp appetizer, some chicken Bev had grilled, and the other makings so we decided on a stir fry for supper - we had many veggies as some needed to be used.  Since Jenn from Jenn’s Food Journey makes many Asian dishes, I headed over to her site to get ideas and decided to use her Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry recipe as the basis for our dish.

Hoisin Chicken & Shrimp Stir Fry
Adapted from Jenn's Food Journey

1 lb. boneless, cooked skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
10 large cooked shrimp, rinsed, halved lengthwise
1 small head broccoli florets
1 carrot, sliced
1 sweet pepper, stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 med. red onion, sliced and separated into rings
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into wedges
1 can sliced water chestnuts
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 C. hoisin
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. Sriracha (you can use less if you want it to be less spicy)
2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil

1. I prepped the shrimp and chicken and let them sit on the counter about 30 minutes to warm some after being in the fridge.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the last five ingredients and set aside.
3. In a wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat and when hot, add the broccoli and carrots and stir fry about 3 minutes.

Add the pepper and onions and continue to stir fry for 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, zukes, and water chestnuts and stir fry for 2 minutes. 

Add the sauce mixture and stir to coat everything. 

Cook a couple of minutes and stir in the shrimp and chicken.  Cook a couple more minutes, stirring a few times, remove from the heat, toss again to coat, and serve over rice. 

It turned out very well with a nice sweetness in the sauce.  As you can see from the last shot, I get my veggies more done than many folks, so it you prefer them crispier, just cut back on the cook times for the various items or add them at different times.

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10/23/12 event date

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Humor - Deer Crossing Signs

My daughter sent this to me and if you have 3 1/2 minutes and want a good laugh, check out this video.  If it's a spoof, it's funny, but if it's for real, it's hysterical.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Caribbean Holiday Shrimp & Burgers

Our friend Holly brought this shrimp appetizer to our wine club and we’d been looking for an opportunity to try it and since we had some RVing friends over to discuss recent trips, it was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

We began the meal part of the afternoon with the shrimp as an appetizer using the following recipe from Allrecipes.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
2 limes, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds large cooked shrimp, peeled, tails on (I added only salt to the water)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl combine oil, ginger, lime juice, garlic, soy sauce, sugar and red pepper; mix well. Stir in shrimp and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours before serving (I did 4 hours in a plastic bag). Stir occasionally while chilling.

We served them on a bed of lettuce/spinach along with some Ina Garten Cocktail Sauce (which is my new go-to version) and some garlic toast.  I also added a few plain boiled shrimp for those who may not like the marinade. 
After this shot I added a half dozen lemon wedges which made the presentation better, but I didn't get a shot of it. 

It was a big hit and for the main meal we had burgers (courtesy of our beef raising neighbors), fresh green beans, and "Bush’s Bev Beans" which she made by combining:

1 can of grilling beans
1 can of black beans
1 cup of our leftover pinto beans
½ medium chopped onion
5 strips of cooked, chopped bacon. 

She mixed it all together and nuked until warmed through - I thought they were delicious and not so overly sweet (for me) as the grilling beans alone.

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10/21/12 event date

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ferrets And Yawnee

In an effort to give the ferrets a place to play and protect the house from them, and them from Coco, Madison bought them a playpen with a plastic bottom. 

They sure are full of energy and love to play so I can see why you need more than one as pets.

Friend Joe was here with his Pomeranian and he put her in the cage with them.

The ferrets seemed pleased but Yawnee wanted out, while Coco was running around the cage outside whining to get in.

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10/19/12 event date

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Potato Cakes For Breakfast

For the country rib supper, I made plenty of mashed potatoes for leftovers, especially to use for breakfast.  I didn’t mix in anything else and just formed them into patties and fried in a butter & oil mixture.

Then came the unique part of this meal - two over easy eggs on top.

It was a delicious and these potatoes made excellent potato cakes.

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Two Years Ago: Shrimp Remoulade Salad


10/19/12 event date


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Go West Old Man – Headed Home – The Final Day – 2012

The last day of our RV trip west was a long driving day of over 400 miles and mostly on I-40 across TN.  I didn’t realize how nice it was to drive the light traffic roads of the West until we got on the very crowded I-40, making the drive long and tense.  But we got home safe and sound around 5:30pm on Sep. 28, for a 29 day trip.

Here’s a few of the things we learned.

1.    Roads and traffic are generally much better in the less populated western states.  South Dakota’s roads were the best and Iowa’s were the worst (but still not as bad as we found in Arkansas last year) – going thru Missouri and Kansas will be our preferred route.

2.    Avoid large cities like the plague as the road surfaces are terrible, there is always construction going on, and there are lots of drivers in a big hurry.

3.    Make a long driving day 300 miles and the normal more like 200-250 miles, so a nice evening and afternoon can be spent exploring the area – especially for one night stays.  We did a 75 - 100 miles/day longer on this trip.

4.    Rather than trying to see so much area, with only 2-3 days allotted per stop, go less places and spend 4-5 days, or more, to be able to really see an area.

5.    Try not to be on the road on Sundays and holidays as road service is much less available.

6.    September is a good time to travel where we did as the weather had cooled and there were no crowds - we had some places nearly to ourselves.

7.    If we plan to continue RVing, we must get a car that can easily be towed without the dolly as it is a pain to fool with.

8.    Get the RV in as good a condition as possible before hitting the road.

9.    It’s hard to imagine the vast mid west’s food producing ability until you’ve seen some of it.

10. Over 3826 miles, the RV got 8.5 MPG or about 47.7 cents/mile in fuel cost.

11. Thoroughly research the area to be visited to maximize our time there.

12. Get a Truck Route Atlas and know where the fuel stops are on the non-interstate roads.

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One Year Ago: Eggplant Parmesan

Two years Ago: My Last Day In Marco


9/28/12 event date

Monday, October 22, 2012

County Ribs, Kraut, And Mashed Potatoes

I was at the store the other day and they had country pork ribs on sale so I was ready for some pork and kraut.  If you’re not familiar with them, country ribs are just pork shoulder cut to look like a rib and sometimes they have a small bone in them – which these did.

I used the crockpot to cook a package of ribs with some of our homemade kraut.

We sided it with mashed potatoes using the recipe Penny, from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen, used to top her French Shepherd’s Pie.

Everything was very good and the potatoes worked well as a stand alone dish.

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10/11/12 event date

Friday, October 19, 2012

Imported Steak & Cheesy Potatoes

We’d bought and grilled some strip steaks from Ramey Grocery while in Nevada, Missouri and were pleased enough with them that we went back to the store bought a couple of packages to import to Almost Heaven South – they were just pre-packaged Black Angus steaks.

As it turned out, the hand cut steak in their meat case was from Creek Stone Farms, which I’d never heard of, but after going online that night, I wish we’d bought some of those $11/lb. strip steaks – they’re $22.22/lb. plus shipping when mail ordered.  The ones we brought home were plenty good.

Nothing new about this meal but the potatoes turned out so well, I wanted to document what we did.

4T butter
4T flour
1 cup white wine
1” of Velveeta, small chunks
¾” sharp cheddar, small chunks

Make a roux from the butter and flour and cook a few minutes.  Whisk in some wine then slowly whisk in the Velveeta – add more wine if it gets too dry.  Whisk in the cheddar cheese.

5 large potatoes, diced
2 med-large onions, medium chop
1-2 sweet peppers, medium chop

Spray two 18”x18” sheets of heavy duty foil and add the veggie mix to one of them.  Pour the cheese mixture over the veggies and mix as well as possible.  Leaving about 2” of foil around the edges, make an even pile of the mixture, top the second sheet of foil, and seal the edges well. 
Put the foil pouch on the grill over direct low heat.  When the pouch begins to swell up, carefully flip it and even out the mixture with your hand.  When it swells up again with steam for about 5 minutes and you can smell it, it should be done. 
Remove from the grill and let it rest about 5 minutes before opening.  The meat and the potatoes were both delicious.

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10/5/12 Meal Date

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Go West Old Man – Headed Home Across Missouri & Lambert's Cafe– 2012

On Thursday we crossed southern Missouri taking US-53, MO-13, and US-60 and all were very good roads with hardly any traffic.  Much of the terrain reminded us of home and it was mostly rolling pasture land as we drove thru the Ozarks.

That is until we passed Poplar Bluff and it got dead flat – similar to approaching the southeastern seacoast.  It was covered with soybeans, rice (which I’d never seen growing), and a little cotton - I wondered what the yellow rolls were until I could see they were picked cotton.

We stayed at a very nice campground called Hinton RV Park and it’s at the intersection of I-55 and I-57/US-60 along with a lot of motels.

I can’t believe we keep stumbling into pretty neat places to eat and I can’t say we saved the best for last, but this was a good one.  As we drove across Missouri, I suggested Bev use her IPad to do a search on Sikeston, Mo and the first thing to pop up was Lambert’s Café and it got good ratings on Yelp.

We’d skipped lunch and when we checked into the campground mid afternoon, the lady at the desk advised that Lambert's good and only about a mile down the road, so off we went to find the little café.

Talk about a shock, their waiting areas are bigger than most cafes and the parking lot is huge.

As it turns out this place is famous and the Home of Throwed Rolls – just search on nothing but Lambert’s Café and see what you get – my first three pages were this place or one of the other two offshoots (Ozark, MO & Foley, AL).  I thought throwed rolls referred to some part of the baking process (like hand-tossed pizza), but it’s not.  A young man walked around the large room calling out “hot rolls” and when you raised your hand, he throwed one to you. 

Other servers went around the room with various pass-outs that go with all of the meals – fried okra, black-eyed peas, and fried potatoes and onions, plus the roll thower had apple butter and sorghum molasses - this is the black eyed pea girl.

This is about half of the seating for over 300 people and they show up here by the tour bus full or semi as seen above.

I had the fried chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and turnip greens.

Bev had the round steak which is really chicken fried steak, topped with mashed potatoes, topped with cream gravy and her sides were cucumber salad and white beans.

Here was the real surprise – we thought it was all very good, not Bobby Flay good, but home cooking good and I considered staying another night just so we could go back – I would have had catfish.  My chicken was crispy, moist, and flavorful and both side dishes were very good and cooked with southern flavors - like bacon.  Bev’s was also very good plus she had about four servings of the fried okra pass-out.
They have a menu slate of southern comfort food as seen on their menu and I can easily see why it's a tour bus stop.  If you have the opportunity, you should give it a try, but take cash and even if you think the food is just so-so, the experience is worth the price.  Per Wikipedia – “The Travel Channel named Lambert's Cafe as the "World's Best Place to Pig Out", edging out Beth's Cafe, The Big Texan Steak Ranch, Primanti Brothers, Cluck-U Chicken, and other notable restaurants.”

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9/27/12 event date

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Residents At Almost Heaven South & Chicken Noodle Soup

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may remember that our granddaughter Madison, who went by Alex then, lived with us for a year and at nearly 15, she has returned to bring some excitement to our life.  It has always been important to her to have a pet to love and for some reason she has this strange desire to have ferrets and since we are pet people, we ok’d her getting a couple.

Their names are Roscoe and Mitchell – she has always come up with unusual pet names.  While they may be furry little pets for Madison, to Coco, the puppy, they are playmates and she goes wild when Madison gets them out.  One of them actually seems to enjoy the playing except we’re afraid Coco will injure him when she gets his body in her mouth.  Here they are hard at it.

Coco was Madison’s pet last time around and they are still special friends – she’s watching over her while sleeping.

Madison grew up believing Campbell’s Chicken Noodle (you know the watery stuff with a couple pieces of chicken and a counted out number of noodles) represented good soup and I was surprised when she wanted our homemade version.  Now this is chicken noodle soup.

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10/10/12 meal date