Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vietnamese Virgin

A couple nights ago, Kara and I met a fellow foodie friend who I’m sure many of you know as Atlanta’s Foodie Buddha at Pho Dai Loi on Buford Highway per his suggestion. We love dining with The Buddha because he knows great places that we most likely would not venture to without his all-knowing guidance.

Now, I had never eaten Vietnamese food before this week. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try it, but like many people just had no clue what to order. So, with FB and Kara's vast knowledge of this particular food genre, they guided me and covered all the bases. We started with two types of steamed spring rolls: one filled with freshly shredded, spicy pork and another standard steamed basil roll with shrimp.

Both rolls and their respective dipping sauces were delicious. The pork spring roll (my personal favorite) came with a light, sweet and sour fish sauce that was delicious and even more delicious when poured over my Com (broken rice with chicken marinated in lemon grass) but we will get to that later….the shrimp spring roll was served with a tantalizing peanut sauce.

Then came the Pho. FB wanted me to try a version with tripe (stomach lining), but being a Pho virgin and all, I felt I needed to ease into it a bit. So, we agreed that I’d order the #12, a small bowl of Pho (anything but small) with flank steak and marble brisket. YUM! As Kara and FB chatted about how soup is actually good for you when it’s hot outside because of its ability to balance out your body temperature and what not, I was busy devouring my Pho with a vengeance. Word to the wise: Pho is not the best first date meal. Lucky I was amongst fellow foodie friends who don’t judge you when you’re stuffing your face.

Next came our Com, #43 marinated lemon grass chicken over broken Jasmine rice and my personal favorite, #27 vermicelli rice noodles with marinated grilled shrimp, grilled pork and crispy spring rolls.

The Com with the lemon grass was not my favorite despite covering it in the extraordinary sweet and sour fish sauce (which, for all you virgins, you are supposed to do FYI). I found the dish to be a bit dry and underwhelming. However, it was an off night for that dish according to our friend and Pho Dai Loi regular FB.

Now on to the Bun. The Bun was particularly delicious to me. It was the perfect blend of grilled pork (that almost tasted sweet), vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, grilled shrimp and crispy fried spring roll filled with pork – again, all covered in tangy fish sauce. The perfect bite. The combination of textures in the dish really appealed to me. What I will add next time: egg (no runny yolk, please). What will I subtract: the shrimp. No need to take away from that pork.

Everything we ordered was under $10, and Pho Dai Loi doesn't serve alcohol, so it's BYOB. FYI: the kind restaurant staff is happy to supply a can opener from the kitchen if you forget your bottle opener.

Pho Dai Loi will definitely see more of me. In fact, you might walk in there and see me sitting solo at a banquet table in the back (what our waiter suggested for our party because we ordered so much food, and he was right!) eating my Bun with extra pork and egg :) Oh and don't forget the “small” Pho!

Pho Dai Loi II
4186 Buford Hwy NE # G
Atlanta, GA 30345-1067
Phone: 404-633-2111
NOTE: there's another location in Forest Park

Friday, July 16, 2010

Foodie Flash: Delicious trouble just moved in next door

The Highland Bakery is wrapping up the soft launch of its new location in Midtown today. Since our office building is located right across the street, AF stopped in for a quick afternoon snack and snagged an adorable box of four mini cookies for $1. With all the delicious eclairs, cupcakes and croissants staring at us from the glass case, it's a wonder we made it back to our desk at all.

Highland Bakery Midtown officially opens for business on Monday, offering breakfast, lunch, coffee and of course, pastries.

Highland Bakery
1180 Peachtree Street NE, Suite #C
Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: 404-835-3130
Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (for now - they are considering staying open for the dinner hour and on the weekends)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summertime Staple

My family always does a big 4th. We all gather at the lake. There is a boat parade, "the games" (a twisted sort of Olympic games, heavily competitive and usually fueled with cocktails), and then there is the food. Lots and lots of good food. Highlights being beef tenderloin, potato casserole, always some type of fresh seafood fare, and delicious tomato pie. Now, I could write about all of these recipes and probably will write about them eventually (actually we featured the tenderloin recipe in a past post), but in honor of summer I am going to focus on this tomato pie.

My Aunt Alva always makes this every 4th of July. I can see it now . . . me, my mom and my Aunt Alva sitting around our kitchen table at the lake, laughing, chatting, tired from the sun - albeit a bit tipsy - and peeling tomatoes, always with a boat drink in hand.

Ahhhh tomato pie . . .there is nothing quite like it. So southern, so summer, and so delicious. Now, I'll have you know I'm not trying to brag, but it's a fact that this is THE BEST tomato pie recipe, and to this day I have never had a better one. In fact, I dare anyone to challenge it. Below is the recipe, so please enjoy. Try it once and you will make it a summer staple as my family has. Happy belated 4th. Enjoy the pie . . . I know you will :)

*And for those that have had a bad experience with a mayonnaise soaked tomato pie . . . you will not find that here.

Ingredients (makes one pie)

6 - 8 large, ripe, fresh tomatoes
1 bunch of green onions, roughly chopped
1 jar of Zatarans spicy creole mustard
1 deep dish Pillsberry pie crust
Dried basil
1 1/2 lbs of white extra sharp cheese, freshly grated
1 teaspoon of mayo (just enough to bind the cheese)
About 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese (enough to sprinkle over the top of the pie)
Kosher slat
Fresh cracked pepper
Paper towels


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Follow the directions on the pie crust package to prep the pie crust for baking. With a fork, poke pie crust dough along the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. Cook pie crust for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool.

As pie crust cooks, add 1 teaspoon of mayo to grated cheddar cheese. Mix/bind with hands and set aside. Peel skin from tomatoes and cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch slices. Place tomato slices on paper towels to drain. Once all tomaotes are peeled and sliced, I find it easiest to run each slice under water to remove the seeds. After the seeds have been removed from each slice, place tomatoes back on paper towels to drain excess liquid and sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and dried basil - this method guarantees that you won't have a soggy pie. Flip slices and repeat.

Once tomatoes are ready and crust is cooked and cooled slightly, begin construction of the pie. Spread an even, thin layer of Zatarans spicy creole mustard on the base of the pie crust. Layer tomatoes, then green onions,then cheese mixture in the pie crust. Repeat process until you reach the top of the pie pan, ending with the cheese mixture. Cover the top with the freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 7 minutes.
*Tip* Remove pie from oven after 25 mintues and soak up any excess grease on the top or sides of the pie with paper towels. Repeat process every so often until the pie is finished cooking. This will prevent your pie from becoming too greasy and soupy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I've Met Someone...and His Name is Cubano

I decided to splurge (in more ways than one) on lunch yesterday and convinced my friend, Audrey, to join me at Bocado on the Westside. It's true that I had a hankering to get out of the office and indulge with a leisurely lunch, but I had another motive. I was dying to introduce Audrey to my latest love interests: the Bocado "burger stack" and the "cubano" pressed sandwich.

Let's start with the burger: we're talking two juicy beef patties, each topped with melted American cheese and sandwiched between the softest, most buttery toasted bun you can imagine. Maybe it's the extra butter that MUST be in the patties, but something happens to me when I bite into this thing. My eyes close involuntarily, I get butterflies in my stomach and I just want to sneak away to get some alone time with my burger.

The cubano sandwich is equally crush-worthy. With its crispy warm bread, thick slices of roasted pork loin, thinly-sliced ham and house-made pickles that are slightly spicy, this sandwich is addictive and hard to get off a gal's mind. I'm absolutely amazed by the pork. Bocado leaves the fat on the meat, and as it cooks, it carmelizes and the edges crisp to salty perfection.

For good measure, Aud and I split a bowl of Bocado's crisp house cut fries with a refreshing ranch dipping sauce, spiked with plenty of refreshing dill.

Here's the thing: stalking a crush usually comes at a price. In the case of Bocado's sandwiches, you'll most likely pay more than $10 for lunch - tax, tip and fries included. The burger is $8.75 and the cuban is $9.75 during the lunch hour.

There's good news's totally worth it. So, pick a day to splurge on lunch at Bocado and balance it out by saving on dinner. Also, let me know what you think of my sandwich crushes. I definitely have Audrey's approval!

887 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
Phone: 404.815.1399
Lunch Hours: Monday - Friday 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Monday - Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

And the CakeOff Winner Is...

Not sure if y'all have noticed but AF has been on summer vacation for the past couple of weeks. But never fear - we're back and ready to announce the winner of The Great Atlanta CakeOff!

Remember our last post from like a month ago? Anywhoo, we were invited by the folks at Hands on Atlanta to attend a friendly competition among some local pastry hounds. All CakeOff contestants were asked to bake and decorate a multi-tiered cake that represented the mission of Hands on Atlanta and recognized the organization's 20 years of service to the community.

And now, a photo essay of the winners (all photography by Jack Miller of Jack Miller Photography, who did a much better job behind the camera than we did):

Aisha Cheeks and her hard-working partner from The Cake Closet beat out the competition to take first place with their creative and colorful school house/tool box cake.
Props also went to Shellane Pickett and the team from Apple Butter Bakery, who was named the Runner-Up. Check out the details! We loved the painted fingernails and the funky jewelry on the hands.

Kelli Taranto from the Ritz-Carlton won the Audience Favorite Award. We watched as one of Kelly's assistants painstakenly applied about a billion little silver sugar beads to the middle layer, invoking the twinkling lights of Atlanta's skyline.

Congratulations to the winners and happy birthday to Hands on Atlanta!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Foodie Flash: Better Bring Your Cake Face

This Saturday, pastry chefs from across the metro Atlanta area will compete in the Great Atlanta CakeOff. The competition is part of Hands On Atlanta’s 20th Birthday Bash – a first-of-its-kind fundraiser that will benefit the non-profit's year-round programming.

CakeOff participants include pastry chefs from the Ritz Carlton Buckhead, The Cake Closet, Edible Greetings and Apple Butter Bakery. Their birthday cake creations will be judged by Jovita Moore of WSB-TV; Mary Moore, founder and CEO of Cook’s Warehouse; and Elizabeth Moore, president of Green Olive Media - those lucky ducks!

The competition kicks off with a Spectator Exhibition from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are only $10 each (children under 12 are free) and can be purchased on the Hands on Atlanta website. AF will be there watching the action take place! Stay tuned for a recap next week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Southern Favorite

Lately, my social calendar has been booked with engagement parties and bridal/baby showers. I've co-hosted several of these affairs, most recently a shower for my dear, very pregnant friend, Audrey. To avoid the often ridiculous price tag that comes with the luxury of hiring a caterer, we tackled the cooking ourselves. Each hostess volunteered to bring a dish for brunch, and I chose pimiento cheese sandwiches. I'd actually never made pimiento cheese before, so I turned to an expert: my friend, Samma.

Kinger and I met Samma Faye while we were all students at UGA. She hails from "East Tennesee" (as she likes to say) and can whip up Southern food like nobody's business. Samma has a fantastic blog called Spice and Sass, where she posts whatever's on her mind at any given moment - this occasionally includes her favorite recipes.

The ingredients for pimiento cheese are minimal and super cheap (less than $10 if you have mayo and your favorite hot sauce on hand), BUT Samma has a couple of hard and fast rules about making it from scratch, and I was sure to follow all of them.

1. You must grate the cheese by hand if you want the mixture to "clump" properly. Do not use pre-shredded cheese and do not use a food processor to do your dirty work.

2. Samma insists that you must use a fork to mash the pimientos after you drain them. Apparently, this step is of the upmost importance. Samma's isn't quite sure why, but the act of mashing this key ingredient affects both the flavor and consistency of your pimiento cheese.

3. Acknowledging that this rule is the hardest to follow, Samma says that you should let your pimiento cheese chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving/eating. You have to allow time for the flavors to combine and meld together.

Thanks to Samma, my pimiento cheese was a hit at the shower, and Audrey (along with many others) asked for the recipe. We love you, Samma Faye!

Samma Faye's Southern Pimiento Cheese


1 block extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated by hand
1 block extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated by hand
1 can pimiento peppers, drained
Half block of cream cheese at room temperature, cut into chunks
3 tbsp. mayonnaise (like Samma, we prefer Duke's mayo)
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 or 3 shakes hot sauce
2 or 3 shakes cayenne pepper


Place freshly grated yellow and white cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Drain canned pimientos, mash them with a fork and chop them up a bit. Add pimientos and remaining ingredients to bowl and mix well, being careful to integrate the cream cheese. If the mixture seems dry, add more mayonnaise to taste. Chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve on sandwiches or with crackers or celery.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Basil's Revisited (In the Light of Day)

A little background: last time AF visited Basil's, it was "after hours," and we weren't looking for food. On a random Friday evening, we rolled up to the joint around midnight. We poked our heads through the screen door and asked if we could have a drink or two at the bar while the staff finished cleaning up. Not only did the owner invite us in, he shared a few bottles of vino with us and even gave us a bottle to go!

After experiencing such an amazing bout of hospitality, we chose Basil's as the location of a recent girls-only brunch. Basil's has long been one of our favorite restaurants in Buckhead, and we wanted our friend Cathy, who was in town from San Fran that weekend, to sample their Mediterranean fare.

Located on Grandview Ave., a small side street off of Pharr Road in the heart of Buckhead, it would be easy to drive past Basil's if you weren't looking for it. The restaurant is almost hidden by the beautiful flowers and potted plants that surround its outdoor patio area, which is covered and heated in the winter. Our group requested seating on the patio when we arrived around 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday, so we could enjoy the Spring weather.

On average, you'll spend about $10 - $13 for brunch at Basil's if you forego alcoholic bevs. The menu offers traditional breakfast items like omelettes, french toast and several different takes on eggs benedict as well as sandwiches and Greek specialties like kafta, tabbouleh and hummus. Our whole group ordered something different.

First, we started off with homemade blueberry muffins in lieu of a bread basket.

Anne ordered the Chicken Balsalmic Salad, which included grilled chicken, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, cherry tomatoes, sliced pears and orange segments served over a bed of fresh mixed greens. The homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing is to die for!

We weren't letting Cathy leave town without tasting the lamb burger. At $12, this sandwich delivers a bigtime bang for your buck. Along with the super-flavorful burger (thanks to the lamb meat and spices), you get roasted potato wedges and fresh fruit.

Another of our favorites is the mesa platter, which comes with a refreshing rendition of tabbouleh, creamy hummus, super tasty baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves and grilled pita bread, all for $10.

If we had to describe Basil's (and the owner) in one word, it's this: charming. It remains one of our favorite casual dining haunts in Buckhead for brunch, lunch, dinner or even a night cap. If the owner will oblige us again, you'll find us sipping wine at the bar after hours on any given night!

Basil's Restaurant and Bar
2985 Grandview Avenue in Buckhead
Atlanta, GA
NOTE: The brunch menu that's posted online seems to be out-dated.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's National Doughnut Day! Get Your Free Doughnuts!

The first version of this delicious fried dough was brought to us by Dutch immigrants, originally called ‘oily cakes.’ The love affair grew from there and at Chicago World’s fair in 1934 (I’ve always been intrigued by these . . ) the doughnut was declared “the food hit of the Century of Progress.” My, how we have grown!

That brings us to Doughnut Day, which was created by a group of thoughtful women from the Salvation Army. During WW1, as a fundraising effort to bring some Americana to our boys in France, the ladies sent free coffee and doughnuts for all the troops. Hence Doughnut Day was born.

Now that you've had your history lesson for the day, go forth and consume the fried goodness. Below are locations where you can get free doughnuts. Only two apply to our area (Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts) but I thought I would give the other delicious spots a shout out!

Krispy Kreme: All customers receive a free doughnut. No purchase necessary.
Dunkin' Donuts: Free doughnut with the purchase of a beverage.
LaMar's: All customers receive a free Ray's Original Glazed doughnut. No purchase necessary.
Shipley Do-Nuts: Free glazed doughnut with purchase until noon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Secret's in the Cheese

I lived in Washington, D.C. for about a year, and during that time, it was nearly impossible to find a Mexican restaurant in the city that served white cheese dip. Sure, restaurants had cheese dip on the menu, and I made the mistake of ordering it a couple times. When a bowl of bright orange glop (sometimes with diced, canned tomatoes or ground sausage mixed in) was brought to my table, I would think, "Who ordered this? I asked for cheese dip!" Call me picky or snobby or whatever you want, but the only cheese dip I'll eat is queso blanco, a.k.a. Mexican white cheese dip.

Now, I live in the Dirty South again, where white cheese dip is the norm - whew, thank goodness! Also, select restaurants in D.C., like Los Cuates in Georgetown, have caught on to the white cheese dip phenomenon. But back in the day, I used to quell my frequent cravings by making my own at home in my teeny, tiny apartment in The District. Turns out, it's a super simple process that takes 15 minutes to put together and costs $10 max. For those of you who have always wondered how those Mexican restaurants do it, the secret is in the cheese, my friends. I use white American cheese from the deli counter (Land O'Lakes brand), but you also can use Asadero or Manchego.

I made a batch of queso last night for "Glee Club" at Molly's house, and she made Mr. C's Enchiladas with pulled, roasted chicken instead of beef.

Try out the following Queso Blanco recipe the next time you have a fiesta!

Note: Obviously, cheese dip is best served warm. Consider cooking and serving it in a crock pot if you have one, especially if you're making a large batch for a big group of friends - it's easier than making multiple trips back and forth to the mircowave!

Homemade Queso Blanco with Fresh Jalapenos (Serves 8)


1 lb. white american cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped


Place first two ingredients in a small pan or crock pot. Cook over low heat until melted and well blended, stirring occasionally. Once the cheese is fully melted, check the consistency. If the mixture is too thick for your taste, add more milk and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

Transfer to a bowl or serve the dip right out of the crock pot. Garnish with fresh jalapeno and serve with tortilla chips and salsa.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Foodie Flash: Fill the Grill For 8 at Whole Foods

Beginning today and running through June 1, Whole Foods is offering a package deal of 8 burger patties (1/4lb), 8 buns (white or wheat), 8 cabot cheddar slices, one seedless watermelon (10-12 lb) and a grilled vegetable pasta salad (2lb) for $20. It's a great deal available at a Whole Foods location near you. We'll know where we'll be all weekend...boozing and eating:) Happy Memorial Day! Get your grill and drink on!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pasta Pioneer Style

Here at AF, one of our favorite bloggers, who inspires us day in and day out, is none other than The Pioneer Woman. We admire her photographs, her take on life and especially her homestyle cooking . . . oh the cooking. . . I have tried quite a few of her recipes and love them all, but her shrimp linguine recipe really stands out. Unlike my blog partner, the self proclaimed "pasta-a-holic," I'm not a huge fan of noodles. My last meal on earth would definitely not be spaghetti and meatballs (no offense, Kara)

This shrimp pasta recipe, however, is perfect for those who do not like the heavy feeling you get in your belly after downing a portion of spaghetti cabanora. It's fresh, it's light, it's SO easy to make and it's delicious! It also involves minimal cleanup and is super affordable. Whole Foods was running a special for fresh GA coastal shrimp at 9.99 lb. last week, which was helpful to our budget. Side note: weekly specials as good as that one tend to run out by Wednesday, so be sure to shop early in the week.

Our lovely hosts and dear friends, Anne and Martin, allowed us to surprise them with the dish on a Tuesday night where we could show our appreciation for all the many times they let us come over to their house and "be naughty" as Anne would say. Try this dish during the summer for a group of friends - you can't go wrong.

Below is The Pioneer Woman's recipe, albeit with a few AF tweaks . We paired the pasta with a Caesar salad and coupious amounts of wine per usual!

Shrimp Linguine (serves 8)


1 16 oz. box of linguine
3 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I used low sodium)
4 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
Fresh basil (use the whole package)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
Tin foil (or as my dad says, "Silver paper")
1 cup of white wine


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Devein and wash the shrimp; remove the tails. Cook the linguine to al dente, until the pasta is just cooked and still firm when you bite into it. The only way to get it right is to taste the pasta along the way. Drain the pasta and set aside.

As the pasta is cooking, mince the garlic cloves. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and cook until it starts to brown. Add the diced tomatoes, white wine, salt and black pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Your kitchen will begin to smell intoxicating at this point. As the sauce cooks, give the parsley and basil a rough chop.

Now, assemble your foil pouch, making sure it's very large and very secure. After the 10 minutes are up, take the sauce off the heat, add the shrimp, pasta, herbs. Give it a light toss and pour the mixture into the foil pouch. Secure the foil parcel and place it in oven. Cook for 15 minutes exactly. Remove when done and serve hot.

We served the dish right out of the foil! Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes, and leftover fresh parsley and basil to taste. Please enjoy the step by step photos (a la Pioneer Woman) below.

Saute garlic in olive oil.

Add diced tomatoes, white wine, S&P. Cook for 10 minutes on medium high heat. Intoxicating aromas are about to ensue.

After the 10 minutes is up, take the pan off the heat and add the shrimp. Then add the pasta. Give it a quick toss.

Pour into foil packet. Sorry for the blur - this was an action shot.

Add the parsley and basil. I would actually do this when it is in the pan and off the heat after you add the shrimp and pasta. I meant to and just forgot. Now, tightly wrap up the foil packet. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven. Serve right out of the foil packet and enjoy!

News Flash: Grand China Deal On Scoutmob

Not only is the owner my landlord (sounds strange, I know), but they make the meanest General Tao's chicken in town. I order it extra spicy with extra veggies. Take advantage this weekend, perhaps for a rainy day delivery or a hungover Sunday dinner, which is my favorite way to enjoy Chinese food. If you are not already on scoutmob we highly suggest you sign up today. They have great ATL food deals at all the best spots! You can download the app to your iphone for free.

Scoutmob 50% coupon at Grand China.

Monday, May 17, 2010

News Flash: Atlanta Beer Week in Full Swig

Calling all craft beer connoisseurs, brew lovers and boozehounds! The first ever Atlanta Beer Week started yesterday and runs through Saturday, May 22. Don't miss the opportunity to take advantage of beer specials, tastings and special pairing menus at beer bars, beverage stores, restaurants, brewpubs and breweries in Atlanta and Athens. Participating venues include Sweetwater Brewing Company, the 5 Seasons Breweries, Young Augustine’s, Green’s Beverage stores, the Brick Store Pub, Abattoir, Bocado, Taco Mac and Muss & Turner’s, among many others.

Tonight, flights of beer from Southern Tier and Hopping Frog (two breweries that are new to the ATL) are being served at Leon's Full Service, and you can score $3 Peronis and a free glass at TAP in Midtown tomorrow. We're planning to head to The Porter on Thursday when Schmaltz and Mikkeller breweries takeover the bar.

Check out the event Web site for more details. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ole! Shrimp Taco Salad

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! In honor of this lively holiday, we wanted to post a recipe that you can prepare at home this evening if you decide to forego the crowded Mexican restaurants. Kinger and I invited our friend, Lisa, over last night for shrimp taco salads and Coronas. Lisa happens to be an amazing cook/fellow foodie and has her own blog with her fiance, Andy, so we were aiming to impress her. We also wanted to make a healthy dish - our calorie intake has increased significantly since we started AF, and we're trying to watch our figures in anticipation of bikini season.

We adapted the following recipe from one we saw in this month's issue of Cooking Light, substituting honey for maple syrup to sweeten the shrimp marinade/salad dressing and non-fat greek yogurt for light sour cream. We also grilled our shrimp on Fire & Flavor's Alder Grilling Planks rather than on metal skewers. You will be amazed by the intense, smoky flavor these planks add to the shrimp. It makes a huge difference! Fire & Flavor's founder, Gena Knox, recommends using alder rather than cedar for shrimp because it brings out the delicate flavor of the shellfish. The planks retail for $9.99 for a pack of two 15-inch planks, but Kingsley got a set for free simply by taking advantage of a deal that was advertised in the company's e-newsletter.

The ingredients for this dish came to about $30, and the recipe makes enough for six people. Since there were only three of us, we ended up with tons of leftovers. Pair the salad with ice cold Corona Lights with fresh lime slices. Here's the best part...each serving was a measly 228 calories (minus the beers). We guarantee you'll love this meal, and you won't feel like a total heifer after inhaling it!

Ole! Grilled Shrimp Taco Salad


1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. chipotle hot sauce
3/4 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 ears shucked corn
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 oz. baked blue corn tortilla chips (about 1 1/2 cups)
non-fat greek yogurt
1/4 cup diced peeled avocado
1 jar prepared salsa
1 container non-fat greek yogurt
Lime wedges (optional)


Soak two small cedar planks in warm water for at least 15 minutes.

Combine lime juice, olive oil, cumin, garlic, syrup, and hot sauce in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place the shrimp in a shallow bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the lime juice mixture over shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Reserve the remaining lime juice mixture; set aside. Place chopped lettuce, green onions, cilantro, black beans and tomatoes in a large bowl; set aside.

Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Place shrimp on cedar planks. Once grill comes to temperature, place corn on grill. Grill about 10 minutes. Turn corn and add shrimp planks. Grill for 10 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm. You do not need to turn the shrimp as they cook.

Remove shrimp and corn. Cut kernels from ears of corn. Add shrimp and corn kernels to bowl with lettuce and other ingredients. Drizzle reserved lime juice mixture over the salad, and toss gently to combine.

Divide tortilla chips evenly among shallow bowls; top each serving with salad. Serve with lime wedges on the side. Guests can top their salad with greek yogurt and salsa to taste.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wright’s Bacon – Oh, How I Love Thee

Wright's Bacon...oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways.

1) You are so crispy and delicious.

2) You are the perfect combination of smoky and salty goodness.

3) You are the best bacon I have ever tasted in my life.

I love bacon, and I am a true believer that bacon makes everything better. I'm not sure if you all have ever tasted Wright's bacon? If you have, you would know it. In my humble opinion, it is simply the best bacon in the world. My mom got me hooked on Wright's. I am not quite sure at what point she started using it, but I can distinctly remember standing in the kitchen, tasting it and asking with enthusiasm, "Mom, what kind of bacon is this? This is different. This is delicious!" She replied in a matter-of-fact tone, "It's Wright's - the best bacon out there."

So, I'm addicted...everything in moderation of course. It is my suggestion whenever you are in need of some bacon, whether it be for a Sunday morning breakfast or to make some fresh crumbles for your potatoes, turn to Wrights. At AF, Wright's is our preferred brand of bacon. You won't be disappointed. It's available at a Publix near you. A 1.5 lb. package costs $4.99, and a 3 lb. package sells for $10.99.

Happy frying!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Food Paparazzi

One of our friends and followers, Casey, was kind enough to send us a link to this ABC News piece about "food paparazzi." Check it out!

As food bloggers who value the visual component of dining, we've been taking part in this growing national trend. Given that humans eat with their eyes first, we feel that it's important to include photos of the dishes we sample at local restaurants. Per The BA Foodist, a.k.a. Andrew Knowlton, Restaurant Editor for Bon Appetit, we try not to disturb other diners when we're out in public by keeping flash photography to a minimum.

What are your thoughts on food paparazzi? Are you cool with food bloggers and other patrons taking pics in restaurants or do you get as angry as Britney Spears during her shaved head phase?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

News Flash: Time to Stock Up on Wine at Whole Foods

Heads up wine lovers! Whole Foods offers 20 percent off cases of wine a few times of year, and all stores are holding a Spring sale from April 26 through May 2. Here's how it works: put together a collection of 12 bottles that you like and see significant savings at the register. You can mix and match 12 or more bottles, and the discount even applies to sale prices. There are a few exceptions (like Veuve Clicqout), but most vintages are eligible and there are great deals to be had. I picked up a bottle of Redtree, a fantastic pinot noir out of St. Helena, California, last night for only $7.99. Kinger and I are going back later this week to put together a case of cheap bottles and split the cost. Call to reserve a case or stop by your neighborhood Whole Foods and talk to one of the wine specialists, who will order and set aside your wine. Happy drinking!