Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Italian Drunken Noodles

I found this recipe on Pinterest and the original came from the blog The Cozy Apron  Her pics are much better than mine ... beautiful pics... but Course my hubby has a hard time waiting for me to take pics so they are usually taken in a rush.  I changed it up a tad just because hubby loves Hot Italian Sausage and its a little bit too hot for me so I did half Hot Italian Sausage and half Organic Ground Beef ... here's my version... it was amazing.  If my hubby will eat it two days in a row (leftovers on second day, of course) then its got to be awesome believeyoume!!!  Love love love this recipe!

Drunken Italian Noodles
(Serves 6)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Hot Italian Sausage Links (1/2 lb), casings removed
1/2 lb Organic Ground Beef
1 lrg Onion, sliced thinly
1-½ tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
½ tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 Orange Bell Pepper, cored and thinly sliced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
½ cup Chardonnay Wine (real stuff, not cooking wine)
2 cans Organic Diced Tomatoes with Juice
2 Tblsps Parsley
¼ cup Fresh Basil Leaves, julienned, divided
8 ounces Pappardelle Noodles, uncooked (next time I will only add 4 ounces of the Noodles ... 8 was too much for our taste)

Place a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat.  Add about 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Once the oil is hot, crumble the Spicy Italian Sausage and Organic Ground Beef into the pot in small chunks (you want to keep the sausage fairly chunky).  Once the crumbled meats are browned, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl and set aside.

Next, add the sliced Onion to the pan with the drippings and sprinkle with the Sea Salt (which helps in caramelizing veggies), and allow them to caramelize ~ roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning (add a touch more EVOO, if necessary).  Once Onion is caramelized, add Italian Seasoning and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper and stir to combine.  

Next, add in the Sliced Bell Peppers, and allow those to sauté with the Onion for about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden; next, add the Minced Garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add the Wine and allow it to reduce for a few moments; next, add in the Diced Tomatoes with their juice, and return the browned meats back to the pot, and gently fold the mixture to combine; allow it to gently simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat down to low as possible.

To finish the sauce, drizzle in about 2-3 good tablespoons of the EVOO, and add in the Chopped Parsley and about half of the julienned Basil; stir, and keep warm while you prepare the noodles.

Prepare the Pappardelle noodles according to instructions on package; then, drain the noodles very well, and add them directly into the sauce, using tongs to gently toss and combine the Pappardelle noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it; check the seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.

Garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining julienned Basil and top with shaved Parmesan, if desired.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Blow Fly Inn ~ Gulfport, MS

Let me start this out on a positive note … Lucy and I were sooo very excited about trying this restaurant in light of the great reviews and heck “it was on Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives … gotta be awesome, right?”

This is the kind of restaurant review I don’t really like to do but hey somebody’s gotta say it … disappointed in Blow Fly … BIGTIME!  Here’s my take on the place …

First off I’ve gotta say this place is recommended by a lot of reliable sources … WHY I DO NOT KNOW … maybe when these places/people ate here it was a different owner or cooks or something … or maybe it was reviewed years and years ago … I don’t know but even Yelp gives it 4 out of 5 stars … ME?  Well I wouldn't even give it 1 star!  Well … maybe 1 star cause it was edible just no flavor and dishwatery tasting.  Their menu boasts “Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Emeril Live” along with stating that “USA Today named us one of America’s 51 Great Burger Joints” and “Southern Living named us one of their ‘Favorite Seafood Dives’” and Guy Fieri’s profile pic is on ‘bout every page of their menu!!!  I’ve eaten at a few bad restaurants in my life but I think this one takes the cake … it will be very hard for me to trust any ‘well-known’ reviews after eating at this place!!!!

Lucy and I both got a bad feeling about this place from the get go … we should have followed our guts and left right then but we didn't and of course, regretted that decision later.

The parking lot was pretty filled up (we thought that to be a good sign) and there were large groups of people waiting to be seated as we walked in to request a table for 2.  The place wasn't very clean … definitely not a place where the 5 second rule would apply!!!!  Well it wasn't filthy either … just very ‘divey’ which there ain’t a thing wrong with BUT there is divey and clean and divey and dirty …  All joking aside … the menus, the chair seats and the table were grimy and sticky as heck … another bad sign.  We stayed anyway …

See?  Its built up on steel piers because its on a bay.

Typical 'dive' table setting ... but nothing wrong with that.

Looking through the menu there were numerous recommendations by Guy Fieri with his profile pic right next to the dish … seriously!  I thought … hmmm "I’ll stay safe and order only dishes that he recommended" so I ordered a cup of Creole Gumbo and Lucy ordered a cup of the She Crab Soup.

My Creole Gumbo was, like I said, recommended by Guy Fieri.  It really didn't have a lot of flavor … no spiciness and a little watered down … in other words, more water than tomatoes … no okra in it at all and when I got to the bottom (I was hungry so I did eat most of it) there were two strange looking things that caught me off guard … I had to actually put on my readers to even recognize what they were … BOILED SHRIVELED UP OYSTERS!!!  There was probably two MAYBE three teeny tiny shrimp in it … the kind of shrimp you get in a can!!!  At this point I’m thinking “WTH Guy Fieri? … but maybe its just an off day … a new cook or something".  It wasn't AWFUL or INEDIBLE but it sure was not something I’d attach my name to … EVER!!!

Creole Gumbo ... so they say!
Lucy’s She Crab Soup … first off it looked milky … I mean like a cup of warm milk!  It wasn't at all pink or orangey tinted as I’ve always had anywhere else I’ve eaten it.  Again … tasteless and again very disappointed and mostly MILK … seriously … I didn’t even get a piece of crab in my one taste!!!

She Crab Soup ... so they say!

At this point we are both thinking maybe we shouldn’t have ordered entrees until we had our appetizers but we had so we felt we couldn’t just cancel the orders … wish we had though!!!

I had ordered another Guy Fieri recommendation … Red Beans and Rice and Lucy ordered the Crawfish Etouffee which she loves but this one she didn’t … in fact she took a couple bites and was so over it … tasteless … we’re like “do they not own any spices in this place?”  My Red Beans and Rice, and believe me I love Red Beans and Rice, tasted as if they opened up a can of Red Beans, warmed them up and threw two sausage links (cooked separately) into them and then scooped up some watery rice and dumped it on top.  This is the WORST part … both of us thought our entrees tasted as if they were cooked in dirty unwashed pans or served in dirty unwashed or improperly washed bowls!!!  You know … like dirty dish water … NOT that I’ve ever tasted dirty dish water LOL.  We didn’t eat more than a couple bites and though the waitress insisted on ‘boxing’ them up to go … we left the to-go boxes sitting on the table when we left.  It was that bad!

Red Beans and Rice???

Spiceless 'Crawfish Etouffee'

I don’t know what the requirements are in advertising and boasting that you were featured on so and so or recommended by so and so … if its something a restaurant can brag about indefinitely or what but this place was awful.  I would hope that those who have made great recommendations would at some point return for a second or third or even yearly to make sure this place is still top notch cause top notch it WAS NOT!!!

Our meals, 2 cups of soup, 2 entrees and 2 waters totaled $32.06 … money that I feel I just threw away CAUSE we left HUNGRY!!!

To top it all off … on our way down the metal outdoor stairs (the building is built up high since it is on the bay) someone (or a couple someones) had thrown up all over the staircase.  Eeeeew!!!  We had to sidestep to get past it!
Our view ... which was actually nice!

Sorry ya’ll (for being so blunt) but I do not recommend this place at all!!!  In fact … the name Blow Fly is soooooo very appropriate!!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Phoenicia Gourmet Restaurant ~ Ocean Springs, MS

I first ate at this restaurant the last time I visited my daughter and I have actually dreamed about their Hummus, Grape Leaves and other dishes (last time my entrée was their Napoleon Chicken, a traditional Greek dish … to die for good!!!) … OMG … this is a MUST TRY restaurant when in the Biloxi, Mississippi area AND if you’ve never crossed the bridge from Biloxi over to Ocean Springs … you do not know what you are missing … what a beautiful, little quaint town … downtown is actually a great HOT SPOT for both restaurants and night clubs and during the day, great boutiques and unique shoppes … love love love this little town!!!  So back to the Phoenicia … their menu is both Greek and Lebanese cuisine … traditional and Greek/Lebanese infused dishes.  It’s sorta upscale so you might feel a little uncomfortable wearing flip flops and shorts but they will still serve you anyway.  The décor is typically Greek … columns, white walls, mirrors, gold gilt … you know the look but think upscale.  Prices are a little upscale too so expect to spend about $20-30 a person for entrees (more if you order an appetizer) BUT ya’ll this place is sooooo worth every penny!!!

Lucy and I took her boyfriend who had never eaten Greek food before … NOT even Hummus …  He LOVED it … every single bite!

We started with Hummus and Fresh Pita Bread which are complementary … you can even ask for more and they will bring it to you … the Hummus is the very BEST I have EVER had in my life … I am not kiddin’ you!  I could lick the bowl … its that dang good!!!  AND the WARM Fresh Pita Bread … Lord have mercy … melts in your mouth (course I’m a sucker for fresh bread of any kind).  I’ve tried to replicate the Hummus at home but I can’t EVEN get close … Lucy and I joked and said they must stir it with their Greek fingers to get it just right … kiddin’ of course LOL

Hummus with Warm Fresh Pita Bread ... the BEST Hummus EVER!!!
I ordered Stuffed Grape Leaves (with meat) for an appetizer to share … it comes with 6 Grape Leaves and is served with a yogurt sauce … I could literally make this my meal … love them!!!  We all loved them so much so we gobbled them down without me snapping a single pic!!!  Sorry!

Lucy and I each had one of their MANY ‘specials’ which aren’t on their regular menu (but both Greek inspired) so I cannot tell you what they were called cause I didn’t make note of it but I can sorta describe them both … here’s pics.

Lucy's dish ~ Lemon Fish topped with a Crab Meat Sauce served with
gently sauteed Fresh Veggies and Rice Pilaf
(the fish was PERFECTLY cooked and their Rice Pilaf is so good I could eat it alone)

My dish ~ Blackend Shrimp (very spicy) and Fresh Crab Cakes
on a bed of Aioli Grits with Asparagus and sprinkled with Fresh Chopped Tomatoes
Boyfriend had the Combination Sharwarma (Beef, Chicken and Shrimp) … a very good traditional Lebanese dish with a Tahini Sauce … excellent dish!

You will NOT be disappointed when you try this restaurant … its definitely gourmet and like I said … worth every penny!!!  My mouth is literally watering just blogging about it … literally!!!

Oh and they DO take reservations which you might want to make cause the first time we went we didn’t know that and had to wait about 45 minutes to get seated … there was a line out the door and a large party (without reservations) ahead of us.  And unfortunately they do not serve wine, beer or liquor so its BYOB and there is a charge for that.

If you’d like to check out their menus and even more food pics here is their website link Phoenicia Gourmet Restaurant

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Crepes ~ Ocean Springs, MS

While visiting my daughter over Labor Day Weekend … this was the first place she took me to for dinner.  She described it as a ‘girly restaurant” because her boyfriend calls it that … why?  Cause one, its walls are painted HOT PINK with black trim and two, crepes just aren't a meaty man’s meal … you know what I mean … the meat and potato kinda man LOL
Most people, me included, think dessert when you think of crepes … well this place has both … Savory and Sweet Crepes and my daughter and I had both … and they were soooo delicious.  If you are ever in the area and hungry for something sorta light and “girly” this is a great restaurant to try.

The décor was pretty cool … an Art Deco sorta vibe … Hot Pink Walls with Glossy Black Trim, Black and White Movie Photos projected on the side walls, the Tables topped with White Linen with a vase of Hot Pink and Black ‘daisies’, an old Black and White film playing (with subtitles) on the back wall, beautiful Art Deco light fixtures, and an open ceiling … industrial look, you know all the pipes and vents showing … all painted Black.  AND then, of course, the menus were covered in brushed chrome metal.

Menu ... pretty cool!

She had the 'Orleans' savory crepe which is Pork Tenderloin, Gruyere Cheese, Spinach, Caramelized Onions Topped with Apricot Chutney.  I tasted, of course, and it was delicious … the pork was so so tender and the Apricot Chutney amazing and not too sweet.  I’d definitely recommend it.

'Orleans' Savory Crepe

For my savory crepe, I had the 'Lucien' which is Spinach, Sautéed Mushrooms (and yes I actually ate them and I HATE mushrooms … it’s the texture more than anything, these were sliced very very thin … my daughter was absolutely SHOCKED that I actually ate them and didn’t pick them out), Feta Cheese, Topped with Tzatziki Sauce and Pine Nuts.  I loved it and was in the mood for vegetarian so this hit the spot!!!  A great crepe to have if you are a vegetarian or just aren’t in the mood for meat.
'Lucien' Savory Crepe

Her sweet crepe, which was dessert, obviously, was the 'Charlemagne' which is a Vanilla Mascarpone Cheese filled Crepe Topped with an Espresso Infused Nutella Drizzle, Finished with Macadamian Coconut Crunch and she had a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream on top … oh my goodness … I’m not a Nutella fan but this was amazingly good!!!

My sweet crepe was the 'Augustine' which is Caramelized Bananas Topped with Chocolate Espresso Sauce and Toasted Coconut … and I had it topped with Fresh Whipped Cream … heck, might as well go the whole shebang LOL

Sorry ya'll ... I don't know how I missed taking a pic of our Sweet Crepes but trust me ... they were delicious ... we both ate every last bite!!!

Dinner time Savory Crepes range in price from $11-16.00 and the Sweet Crepes range in price from $6-8.00 and Fresh Whipped Cream and Ice Cream is extra.

An enjoyable meal … I’d recommend it for sure but only if you want a ‘light’ sorta meal and not something more hearty … like meat and potatoes LOL

I couldn't find a website for this restaurant but it is on Facebook, Yelp and Urbanspoon.