Recipes

The Main Cheese

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in eating/food, Lucky Mama, reviews | 6 comments

Margarita Mama (Heidi) and I were very fortunate to get a sneak peek of The Main Cheese on Monday night.  And according to the restaurant’s website, you can go check it out for yourself now! WooHoo! Cheese for everyone!

A Main Cheese booth

A Main Cheese booth

I LOVED the orange chairs in the waiting area

I LOVED the orange chairs in the waiting area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like Heidi, I have been sooooo excited about a restaurant dedicated to cheese. I love cheese in so many of its varieties, except for bleu cheese — just never been a fan of that one. And grilled cheese has always been one of my favorite sandwiches. So The Main Cheese sounded great to me. I’m pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint.

Heidi and I decided to split an appetizer and then try different sandwiches and desserts so we could give you guys a better picture of the restaurant. What can we say, we’re givers. ;)

We started off our meal with the Caponata, which included eggplant, diced tomatoes, black olives, capers, garlic and basil, and was served with pita chips. The Caponata was our second choice — we both really wanted the Artichoke and Cheese Dip.

The Caponata wasn’t my favorite. It was served cold and I think it might have been tastier at room temp. Also, the pita chips were seriously too hard and thick. It was very hard to bite them, which isn’t a good thing when you’re eating a messy dip.

Caponata, $5.25

Caponata, $5.25

Next up for me was The Big Dipper sandwich. I love a good roast beef sandwich with au jus to dip in. This one was pretty tasty. The roast beef was sliced thin, which is always a good thing in my opinion. The homemade au jus had a great flavor — yum! I do wish there had been a little more provolone cheese on the sandwich. I would say The Main Cheese used about the same amount of cheese on their dipper as everyone else does on theirs. I wanted more cheese from a cheese restaurant! So the sandwich was very good, but didn’t cross over into the realm of truly special. More cheese please!

The Big Dipper, $8.45

The Big Dipper, $8.45

Close up of all of the yummy roast beef on The Big Dipper

Close up of all of the yummy roast beef on The Big Dipper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I might be one of the few Southerners in the world who doesn’t like coleslaw. So I swapped my coleslaw for seasoned chips and a dipping sauce. Oh my word, those were some tasty chips! They had a little kick, but not enough to require one to guzzle a glass of water. They were crisp, but not burnt. All in all, definitely worth the extra $1.

Seasoned chips and dipping sauce, $1 substitution

Seasoned chips and dipping sauce, $1 substitution

I also had a bite of Heidi’s Gulf Shores sandwich. That was heaven on a plate, y’all. There was so much delicious cheese and seafood in each bite, I’m drooling a little bit just thinking about it. And the fries were also delish, definitely worth that $1.50 substitution charge.

Now it was time for dessert. I admit, I had been dreaming about The Main Cheese Donut since I first read about it. I love donuts and I love cheese — but the two of them together. I was curious and determined to try it.

It didn’t disappoint. A young man at the table next to us described it as one of the best things he had ever eaten. He wasn’t exaggerating. A glazed donut was cut in half and toasted, with cheese (I think they were using fontina last night) melted between the two halves. I don’t know WHO thought a donut and cheese would go together — but they were a genius. The sweet and the cheesy goodness were the perfect compliment. Yum!

The Main Cheese Donut, $3.50

The Main Cheese Donut, $3.50

All in all, my meal at The Main Cheese was really tasty and the staff was really friendly. They have a small, but good, beer and wine list — my Blue Moon went well with everything I ordered. There were a couple of small tweaks I’d make to certain dishes, but for a soft opening, The Main Cheese seems to have already worked out a lot of the kinks. I’m already making plans to go back and take the family. :)

A very pleased Heidi

A very pleased Heidi

A sneak preview of The Main Cheese

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in eating/food, Food, lady stuff, Margarita Mama | Comments Off

Deep breath, friends. The Main Cheese is open!

Just about every woman I know has been talking about this restaurant for weeks now. It’s all about cheese! A cheese-centric restaurant! That serves wine!! And dessert!!

Lucky Mama Yavonda and I got a sneak peek last night at a soft-opening event, and whoo, this place is not going to disappoint.

We attempted to start our meal with the artichoke and cheese dip, but it had unfortunately been all gobbled up already. So we shifted gears and went for the caponata instead. It was pretty good, but it didn’t knock my socks off. Perhaps because there was no cheese in it.

caponata with garlic pita chips

caponata with garlic pita chips

The star of the night was clearly the Gulf Shores sandwich I picked out. It wasn’t listed on their sneak peek menu, so it threw off my game plan. (Seriously, I was way too excited about this. Spent hours thinking about what I was going to eat. Clearly, I don’t get out much.)

Gulf Shores sandwich, with fries (an upgrade)

Gulf Shores sandwich, with fries (a $1.50 upgrade)

Now, this may not be the prettiest looking thing I’ve ever had. But it’s surely one of the best — slightly chewy, slightly crusty bread with crab, shrimp, cheese and just a super slight touch of jalapeno. It’s a lot like the similar dish at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, although I dare say this was significantly better. I spent the whole time saying “mmm mmmm mmmmmm” to myself. Embarrassing but true. It’s not cheap at $9.25, but that was money gone to a good cause.

They accidentally brought us out some slaw, as well, in a small mixup with Yavonda’s order. It’s standard with all meals —  chips or fries are an upgrade, and fruit, salad and soup is on the menu separately — so I’m glad I got to give it a try. I’m not a huge coleslaw fan, so I’m a bit on the picky side about it. This one was slightly sweet but a little bland. It probably would have been helped with a zing of citrus, which I noted on my comment card.

A veggie slaw to balance out your cheesy meal

A veggie slaw to balance out your cheesy meal

And last but not least, by far, was dessert. Yavonda had been drooling over the idea of a cheese donut, so I veered in another direction. (She shared a couple of bites, and that donut was FABULOUS. Sounds bizarre, but someone is a sheer genius to put those things together.) In keeping with my Gulf Shores selection, I picked the key lime pie.

key lime pie to round out the experience

key lime pie to round out the experience

I’m not generally a crust lady, but this one was pretty darn good. It was buttery thick and had a teensy bit of coconut in the crust. The filling was on the mild and creamy side. I’d appreciate a bit more limey zip, but Ava, who’s also a fan of key lime pie, is going to go gaga for this.

We left happy!

Happy and full Yavonda!

Happy and full Yavonda!

National Margarita Day

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in anniversary, cocktails, Margarita Mama, Recipes | Comments Off

Here’s a fake holiday I can get behind — the newspaper informed me this morning that Saturday is national margarita day. Yes! I’m a few days ahead, of course, but just consider this a “Thirsty Thursday” post.

We’re pretty traditionalist about the margaritas in our house. Just Jose Cuervo mix with Jose Cuervo Silver, on the rocks. Done.

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If you like to experiment, however, here’s a few Pinterest finds that speak to me.

The Best Skinny Margarita Recipes from Family Fresh Meals.

Pink Lemonade Margarita from The Incredible Sometimes Edible Egg.

Fresh Pineapple Margaritas Recipe from Sasaki Time.

Raspberry Margarita from Or Whatever You Do.

The weekend’s almost here, everyone. Hang in there!

Banana carmel bread

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in breads, breakfast/brunch, Food, Margarita Mama, Recipes | Comments Off

We had some overripe bananas to use up this weekend, which almost always means making banana bread. Just for fun, I threw in some carmel chips we had laying around — and it was such a hit!

The kids gobbled this down after dinner and again at breakfast. I’m thinking the rest of it will be great after dinner tonight with a scoop of ice cream, a few slices of fresh banana and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

banana carmel bread

banana carmel bread — what’s left of it

I use the recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Garden New CookBook, a slightly updated version of the book our moms and grandmas used.

Banana bread:

  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 medium bananas
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 2 tbs. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. chopped nuts (which I subbed in this case for Kraft carmel chips)
  • This is not in the book, but I also add 1 tbs. real vanilla for kicks

Combine 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then add mashed banana, butter and milk. Beat on low until blended, then on high for 2 min. Add eggs and remaining flour; beat until blended. Stir in nuts (or carmel chips … or chocolate chips … or even blueberries or raspberries; all work great).

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Cool and enjoy!

Baked Lemon Cod

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in main dish, Recipes, seafood | 1 comment

Yes, ’tis another recipe from Pinterest. We made this the other night. Simple and delicious!

Ingredients:

 1 lb cod fish fillet
1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
paprika

Directions:
1 If fish fillets are large, cut into serving pieces.
2 Mix butter and lemon juice.
3 In another bowl, mix flour, salt and white pepper.
4 Dip fish into butter mixture; coat fish with flour mixture.
5 Place fish in ungreased square baking dish, 8x8x2 inches.
6 Pour remaining butter mixture over fish; sprinkle with paprika.
7 Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven until fish flakes easily with fork, 25-30 minutes. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon slices if desired.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in Recipes | 1 comment

Hey, Arkie Mama here!

I know it’s still blistering hot outside, but I was in the mood for soup the other night. I found this on Pinterest and it was both easy and tasty! I used a Rotisserie chicken. I also used extra spices.

Ingredients

2 quarts chicken broth (I didn’t use that much!)

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup shredded carrots

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup dry white wine or additional chicken broth

3 cups cooked wild rice

2 cups cubed chicken

Directions

In a large saucepan, combine the first nine ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. In Dutch oven, melt butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in broth mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in soup and wine. Add rice and chicken; heat through. Yield: 14 servings (3-1/2 quarts).

 

A twist on tacos

Posted by on Sep 7, 2013 in daddy, Food, main dish, Margarita Mama, Mexican, Recipes, seafood | 1 comment

My husband whipped up these blackened shrimp tacos for dinner one night this week (post-stove debacle) and they were FABULOUS! Pretty quick for a weeknight, too.

Good good good stuff!

Good good good stuff!

We added the bagged southwestern salad from the produce section at Kroger that’s kinda like Mexican coleslaw, and dinner was done in no time. It’s also a great match for a margarita, of course.

We adjusted the recipe a bit to account for our tastes/ingredients on hand, but check out the original from Cooking Light here.

To tip or not to tip

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in eating/food, In the news, Lucky Mama, musings | 4 comments

that is the question…

moneytipPete Wells, a food critic for The New York Times, has written a very interesting article raising the question of whether or not it is time to say adios to the tipping system.

“I could go on against tipping, but let’s leave it at this: it is irrational, outdated, ineffective, confusing, prone to abuse and sometimes discriminatory. The people who take care of us in restaurants deserve a better system, and so do we.”

He cites a handful of restaurants that are doing just that — eliminating the tip in exchange for elevated menu prices that go toward a higher salary for servers or instituting a surcharge that also increases the staff’s salary.

He also notes that the disparity between what servers make (the front of the house) and line cooks, bus boys and dishwashers (the back of the house) is also driving this change.

So what do you think? Should restaurants increase servers’ salaries and dump the tip? Or do you think the tipping system works just fine?

Back to School Bash fun

Posted by on Aug 3, 2013 in Activities, Ava, eating/food, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, Recipes, school, shopping, The Promenade at Chenal, twins | 1 comment

We LOVE shopping — especially for school!

We spent most of the day at the Promenade at Chenal’s Back to School Bash today and had a really great time! There were a ton of things going on and lots of sales on top of Arkansas’ sales-tax free weekend benefit.

We were lucky to be among the first 100 people in line to get these coupons for free movie passes, free kids lunch and free ice cream — an AMAZING deal!

We were lucky to be among the first 100 people in line to get these coupons for free movie passes, free kids lunch and free ice cream — an AMAZING deal!

There was also a Goodwill booth to drop off gently-used clothing your children have outgrown. If you missed it, here’s a list of donation centers in Little Rock. I always keep a running donation pile, and when a few bags pile up, we head to the Markham Park Drive location. Donating there is SUPER easy — you drive up and pop the trunk, they help you unload and hand you a tax receipt, then you’re on your way. It’s never taken me even 5 whole minutes.

These wonderful ladies sat outside today, collecting donations and entertaining children with games and giveaways.

These wonderful ladies sat outside today, collecting donations and entertaining children with games and giveaways.

The shopping was pretty great, too. First we hit up Justice, which has everything your tween (or kindergartener who thinks she’s a tween) could want.

Polka dots rock!

Polka dots rock!

Nail polish, complete with nail art accessories

Justice headbands

Justice headbands

Lots of adorable dresses, perfect for school

Lots of adorable dresses, perfect for school

Every kind of accessory you could think of, even pencil toppers

Every kind of accessory you could think of, even pencil toppers

Next up was Bravo!, where we used our free kids lunch coupon. I’ve never realized it was such a great place to take children before. They have both big kid and little kid selections, which was fabulous for our group. They even brought the girls out some dough to shape while we waited for our food, then baked it up later.

Kendall, drawing fiercely while we wait for lunch to arrive

Kendall, drawing fiercely while we wait for lunch to arrive

The Children’s Place was our next venture. I always forget just how good their prices are. We brought home quite a haul from there, including cheetah-print dress shoes that made Daddy cringe just a little bit. (They’re in!)

A headband Ava couldn't live without

A headband Ava couldn’t live without

THE shoes, at bottom right

THE shoes, at bottom right

Not a bad price for long-sleeved shirts

Not a bad price for long-sleeved shirts

Gotta get a backpack, for sure

Gotta get a backpack, for sure

Crazy 8s is one of our go-to stores, so that was a mandatory stop. Always a good deal to be had there!

Sales are the best!

Sales are the best!

Jeans are a MUST for most everyone

Jeans are a MUST for most everyone

Not on our list, but lots of great boy clothes, too!

Not on our list, but lots of great boy clothes, too!

Buy one, get one half off is hard to pass up

Buy one, get one half off is hard to pass up

Watching Smurfs 2 was next on the agenda, thanks to our free kids movie tickets for the Chenal 9 Theatres. Surprisingly, no one was scared — even of Gargamel and his magic powers. I have a feeling that popcorn helped, along with all the catchy music in the movie. And so did the promise of free ice cream afterward. We LOVE Maggie Moo’s!

The fountains outside the Chenal 9 are really nice

The fountains outside the Chenal 9 are really nice

Ava and Kayla, chowing down

Ava and Kayla, chowing down

Kendall, enjoying a scoop of peanut butter ice cream

Kendall, enjoying a scoop of peanut butter ice cream

One last visit couldn’t be helped — the Nike store. I even picked up a pair of cushy sandals for me, tax-free!

Ahh, I love it

Ahh, I love it

The tax-free weekend continues Sunday, so head out and take advantage! Here’s the list of items included.

Note: This is a compensated post, but all opinions are my own!

Company’s coming

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in breakfast/brunch, daddy, eating/food, Margarita Mama | 4 comments

Some family friends and their two little boys are coming to visit this weekend, which means there’s a lot of cleaning going on. And thinking about food, of course.

We always like to come up with a great breakfast spread for overnight guests. (Daddy’s mainly the breakfast chef in our house.) Anyone have a tried and true egg casserole to share? Or something fantastically sweet?

I’m thinking about trying these easy-sounding sausage-ball biscuits off Pinterest — yum, right? Get the recipe here.

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