Have you been to Sam’s Club lately? I’m not there as frequently in winter, but picnic and party season has arrived, so that’s my kind of jam.
I headed in recently to pick up a ton of supplies for work, along with a few things for us and was pleasantly surprised to see family sized grab-and-go meals that were both fairly healthy and delicious.
This caprese chicken pasta salad was a hit at a reunion-style potluck we attend in each June in a tiny township near Camden. It’s also something that could be easily duplicated at home for guests — chicken and pasta in a creamy pesto sauce, topped with mozzarella balls, fresh tomatoes and basil. (Just let ‘em think it was all you.)
Now, for dinner. This chicken parmesan wasn’t at all on my Type A, OCD meal-planning schedule for the night. But it was getting late, Daddy was out at a work event, and Ava — who NEVER eats outside her comfort zone — took one look and said this looked yum. Sold. We paired in with a bag of Sam’s frozen, microwavable broccoli, which is a staple in our house since its florets are so much better than most of the bits and pieces you get from most brands. All three kids made a happy plate, and so did mom. There was also plenty leftover for dad to have a late dinner plus a lunch the next day, which is a big win in my book.
Now, I’ll admit I didn’t bring this green bean side dish home, but I really wanted to. If Daddy had been home for dinner, it may have been another story, but I knew those onion slices would have wigged out my crew. Those monsterously huge chunks of butter also gave me pause — I’m sure I’d have removed at least half of that. It seems like a good dish to add to the mental recipe file, however.
If anyone else out there knows of great places to jet in and pick up family dinner while running errands, I’d love to hear them. I know Whole Foods sometimes has family sized pastas, and they’re pretty good, too.
Had a GREAT time last night at The Promenade at Chenal‘s Ladies Night Out! Every mama needs a break now and then for a little kid-free relaxation with good friends.
The rain put a little damper on the fashion show, unfortunately. But it cleared up just in time for us to enjoy the very best part of the rain-free portion of the festivities, free cocktails and desserts. The mini strawberry shortcakes were totally my jam.
Then we had a delish dinner at A.W. Lin’s, where the server told us that they’re going to start doing Ladies Night specials every Thursday. Whoo hoo! Who doesn’t get excited about half-off appetizers and drink specials? The sangria was quite good, I must say.
Next up at The Promenade will be a men’s heath weekend in June. Stay tuned for more details, and have a great weekend!
Note: This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
- 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!
Yes, ’tis another recipe from Pinterest. We made this the other night. Simple and delicious!
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
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
that is the question…
Pete 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?