Monday, November 10, 2014

Southern Girl Eats and Cooks: Thai Esane

Southern Girl Eats and Cooks: Thai Esane:      Thai food is something that I crave on a regular basis. Which is great because Nashville has its fair share of Thai restauran...

Thai Esane

     Thai food is something that I crave on a regular basis. Which is great because Nashville has its fair share of Thai restaurants. When Thai Esane opened I was super excited. Not just because it was Thai but also because of the Laotian influence as well. When Nina Sayasack sets out to open a new restaurant, people follow in droves. Kind of reminds me of Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come and oh do they. Thai Esane is located on 12th South just before you get into the Gulch.

       I had the pleasure of going with a good friend from Texas who also enjoys spicy foods the way I do. We ordered a whole table full of food to ensure that we could get a taste of everything. My favorite drink to order in any Thai restaurant is a Thai tea. And theirs is the best. The dark black tea is laced with spices and made creamy with coconut milk which makes it decadent and refreshing with spicy food. Before we ordered our appetizers I opted to get an order of Tom Kha Gai. I love the savory combination of coconut based soup with chicken, carrots, peas mushrooms and green onions, which are accented by kaffer lime leaves and lemongrass
   For appetizers we ordered the Esane sausage, meatballs dumplings and the chicken satay. The sausage was my favorite and the dumplings a close second. The sausage was made in house with lemon grass, ginger, other seasonings, and pork. Then cooked until the outside was crispy and the inside was moist and tender. This dish is served with a mustard sauce, a spicy ginger sauce, sticky rice and lettuce cups. The dumplings were  stuffed with chicken, mushrooms, celery, carrots, cabbage, onions and served with a sweet soy ginger dipping sauce. This is one not to miss in your order. The chicken satay was marinated in a curry, quick fried, and served with a delicious home made peanut sauce. The beef meatballs are mixed with Thai seasoning, deep fried, and served with a sweet chili sauce that goes perfectly with the crispiness of the meat.

                                                                     Chicken Satay

Esane Sausage
Esane Meatballs
For the main part of our course we ordered the drunken noodles, pad Thai, and tiger tear salad.
The tiger tear salad is one of the best, well-seasoned tiger salads I've had in Nashville. The beef was paper thin, seasoned and seared, then mixed in with thinly sliced onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, carrots, herbs and dressed with fish sauce and lime juice. The pad Thai was traditionally prepared and exceeded my expectations in the flavor department. Drunken noodles were the next to meet their demise. And they were unbelievable. Having never had this dish I was impressed and liked this even more than the pad Thai. Unlike the pad Thai, they used flat extra wide rice noodles tossed with broccoli, jalapenos, bell peppers, basil, and onions which are stir fried in their house sauce, Gai Lan.

                                                                     Tiger Tear Salad

                                                                     Drunken Noodles
                                                                          Pad Thai

     If you're wanting a great place to get a belly full of amazing Thai, Thai Esane is the place to go. The interior is sleek and modern and can accommodate large parties or a dinner date of two. They also deliver if you live within a 3 mile radius and order at least $25.00 worth of food. Thai Esane is a casual/dressy place and you can get away with wearing jeans.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Battle of the Burger Nashville, TN

   My friend Steve and I love burgers! I mean beyond a normal love, it might be an obsession. So when we heard they were having a Battle of the Burger competition, hosted by the Nashville Lifestyles magazine, we were so in. Nashville has a huge amount of burger restaurants and restaurants with signature burgers. As far as burgers go for Nashville, there really is something for everyone. As the day approached I would get a daily reminder about the event and the anticipation was killing me. We purchased our tickets in advance for $20.00 each, which considering the amount of burgers we ate was a steal.
As we got our wrist bands for proof of being 21 and older, we could smell the yummy goodness of meat cooking and cheese dripping onto the coals and burning. There is nothing more American than grilling and when its burgers its even better!

      First up was Kitchen Notes, their "Tennessee Patty Melt" was amazing and compared to what everyone else was doing it was different. It was their take on a southern patty melt and it was delicious. Their burger was served on grilled rye and topped with pimento cheese, applewood smoked bacon, a special sauce and caramelized Dickle No. 8 Whiskey onions.

      Next up was the Hard Rock Cafe and their Local Legend, which left us wondering why they hadn't pulled out the big guns and used their Tango Burger or Hickory Barbecue Bacon Burger? This was a plain burger with mayo, fried onions, lettuce and tomato. Basic but I guess good in the standards of a burger but definitely lacking the extra specialness for a burger competition.

      M.L. Rose was next on the list with their Nash Vegas burger. Their burger was on a sweet potato bun and topped with barbecue sauce, pimento cheese and fried sweet tobacco onions. They also served a side of their famous potato chips, my favorite! This burger was amazing and the flavor combinations was nothing short of wow. This was a burger built for competitions.

      Urban Grub served up a monster and by this time I could only take a bite of Steve's burger. Their burger was a topped with pulled pork, salami cooked like bacon, bbq sauce and a special sauce. The sandwich was great over all but for a burger competition this over shadowed the burger it self. 

      I saved the final two for last and not to mention the Second and First Place winners! Hoss' Loaded Burgers is one of my all time favorite food trucks and burgers in Nashville. I have followed them since the day they opened and their burger combinations are out of this world. Not to mention they stuff every burger with cheese! They served the Jackalope, which was full size burger is 1/3lb stuffed with pepper jack, topped with Benton's bacon, avocado, and made from scratch jalapeƱo honey mustard. Dallas Shaw is a burger genius!

      Burger republic served their signature burger called The Tennessean. The burger is topped with Jack Daniel’s honey bourbon sauce, American cheese, maple-glazed Benton’s bacon and quick-fried onion crisps. Having had this burger plus every other burger they have I knew it would be between them and Hoss'. 


      The winner, Burger Republic, My favorite place to grab a burger and spiked milkshake, They will be competing in a few months at the World Burger Championship in Las Vegas! We wish them all the luck in the world and hope everyone else loves them as much as we do.

Next year I'm hoping more local places that are known for their burger will come out to participate. I'm calling out Burger Up, The Pharmacy and Gaby's.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Crawfish Boil

      Every spring I think about the new things that will pop up in my garden and in my life. There is nothing more that I look forward to than a fresh start and a new spring. This includes crawfish! I love them and all things new that come with spring; like morels, ramps, spring peas and flowering bulbs. Since moving to Nashville six years ago we are way closer to the Gulf  and to Louisiana, where they farm crawfish in the spring season.

       I was lucky enough to find a great purveyor of these little fresh water bugs, Steamboat Bill's Louisiana Seafood. They also carry Gulf shrimp, soft shell crabs, boudin and andouille sausage all straight from Louisiana, all a day away. You can order already cooked or live crawfish. I prefer the live because I like to season mine really well and the boiling part of it is the whole reason to invite over a plethora of people to drink cold beer and hang out while the food is cooking.

      When I get my crawfish home, I rinse them off and sort the dead ones out and then throw them into a clean cooler of bucket with ice on the bottom. They then go into the fridge; if I plan on cooking them the day after I get them. If I'm cooking them the day of I then just keep them in the buckets, in the fridge until cooking time.

      You can buy the pot to boil the crawfish at Home Depot or Lowes. I get my seasoning from Gulf Pride at The Factory in Franklin. It's close to my house and they always have fresh seafood, the seasonings and dressings for great seafood. I use two seasonings: Zatarain's powdered crab boil and Zatarain's liquid crab boil.
        I also add about 5 peeled and sliced white onions and about 6 whole bulbs of garlic just cut in half. I also added about 6 lemons halved and you can add sliced hot peppers to the mixture too, if you like it spicey. I left these out because most of my guest are newly southern and the seasoning I use is spicey enough without them.The reason I use these two seasonings is they both have completely different flavor profiles and they both work in different ways. The powder has some heat and the liquid has a bit of oil and also some herbs that really stick to the crawfish. Once you are ready to start fill your boiler up with water, I would do about half way. Add your seasonings and start heating your mixture. Once the mixture is boiling you can add your sides for the crawfish such as cut corn on the cob, red skinned potatoes and sausage. I let these ingredients boil for a good 20 minutes before I add the crawfish. Once your sides are about done add the crawfish. Only boil them for about 5 minutes or until they are just pink. Drain and serve on new paper and be sure to provide buckets for the shells. I usually serve ramelade and cocktail sauce for dipping and also some Tony Chachere's creole seasoning for those who want more of a bite. Needless to say everyone enjoyed it! I plan on doing this every year as an annual get together.

Have questions, leave a comment and I will personally respond.

Photo credit: Joelle Quandt, Jessie Schultz, Bucky Elliot and Stacey Sides

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Clean Eats: Fast Food Edition

  Everyone by now, knows I'm a firm believer in putting only clean healthy foods into your body. For me its easy. I'm organized and make all my meals on Sunday and have them in tupperware and ready to go for each day. But there are times I forget to grab my meals in the morning or on the weekends I'm running errands and need to eat and do not have my snacks with me. On such occasions I usually have been grabbing a low carb, no sugar(made with honey) protein shake from Smoothie King. To which I have been addicted to since I was in middle school in Texas. Having them in Tennessee has been a God sent especially when I'm sick and can't get food down or keep it down. These are perfect and get my body the fuel and nutrition it needs. That being said you do need to be aware that they do have smoothies that are not as healthy for you and are more for indulgence. There are days I want something other than a smoothie to fuel me up, my solution, Panera. That's right! Panera Breads!!!! They have come out with a new line of foods geared towards us health nuts and clean eating freaks. Finally! Someone is getting the bigger picture and jumping on that band wagon in the food industry. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably have seen my post of these "bowls". I'm obsessed with them and all their goodness.
    I came across these bowls around Christmas time when I ran in to get something for breakfast as a "treat" meal. I saw this little sign by the register advertising for breakfast Power Bowls, I was hooked! I haven't seen any advertising for these items until I came across an article about their secret menu. Why the hell is it a secret? I have no clue. I believe if they advertised it more and made it known, more and more people would order them. Hence, why I'm dedicating a whole blog post to it! In the hopes that you, my friends and consumers will start eating them. Also, to start a  frenzy so they will actually have these on the menu full time and visible, no less. These bowls are created with out carbs in the form of bread aka. GLUTEN! They are packed full of nutrition and protein and on top of that taste freaking amazing, unlike anything I've ever had at Panera. Here is a link to the article from their website along with the menu. I have also posted pictures of the menu and my pictures of the items I've ordered off the menu. Enjoy! And hey go try one, you will be amazed at how good they really are.

     I personally have had both breakfast bowls and they are both amazing! I favor the turkey one with roasted turkey, spinach, egg whites, roasted red pepper and basil pesto to top it off. YUM! The other breakfast option is a take on a southwest omelet with steak, over easy eggs, tomatoes, avocado and topped with salsa.

    The third bowl I have tried is off their Lunch/Dinner menu, The Power Chicken Hummus Bowl. I have yet to try the other three but I love this one!!!!! Its is made with spinach, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, roasted Antibiotic-free chicken and topped with cilantro jalapeno hummus and a lemon. I love hummus, no I'm obsessed with it! So I lean towards this one but the other bowls look amazing too.These recipes are pretty simple to recreate at home and I have on many occasions. The ingredient list is on the website in the link above and for the bowls they just top them with fresh squeezed lemon juice. So simple!

    Be sure to stop by your local Panera and give these a try, eating healthy and fast has never looked or tasted sooooo good! And be sure to check out all the links!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Clean Eating Pet

Gunner and Shelby
    You are probably asking your self, "What the hell?" Well as I have been researching dog food and the harmful effects it has on my pets I wanted to be sure that I'm feeding the most natural thing they can eat. Having lost two dogs to cancer over the years there is a direct link with feeding them table scraps (in the form of processed foods and candy) and processed dog food. After listening to a few fellow schutzhund goers in my group that they feed their dog a raw diet I was intrigued! Most high end breeders and showers feed their dogs this and for a reason. It the closest thing to them eating in the wild and it provides raw enzymes along with other important nutrients that are left out or cooked out in regular dog food. So I decided to do some digging on the benefits and reasons for feeding your dog raw. Be sure you weigh your options but I thoroughly enjoy cooking so this was up my alley plus I'm controlling what is in.
The Reasons:
1. The fist and most important reason for me was their teeth!!! I can't afford to pay to get all three of my dogs teeth cleaned twice a year at $300.00 per dog! I do brush and us an enzyme plaque busting gel on them every week. Feeding raw helps their teeth stay white and rid them of plaque, most of the plaque build up is from dry dog food and the products they use to keep the food together during drying, aka. preservatives. I have a rule if you wouldn't eat it or feed it to your kids why give it to the dog?

2. The second most important to me, their breath becomes odorless. This is because of their digestion becoming more normal and easier to digest the food and to process it quickly. Most of the products I put in it help aid in digestion, breath and other stomach issues. They systems are way more delicate than ours.

3. Brilliant and shiny fur/hair and skin. ever notice some dogs just stink, like German Shepherds? Gunner no longer has that weird oily smell, as I can describe it best. It also helps keep shedding to a minimum.

4. Better digestion and passing. A huge benefit is that you don't need to have their anal glands cleaned out cause when they eat this way it bulks their poop up and the result is a suppressed gland in exit.

5. Weight control!!!!!! This is the most biological identical appropriate diet for your dog and they use all the calories that are in it so there is no waste, and you will also notice their poop is smaller too because of this.

6. They are sick less, this is due to a lot of things aka, CARBS: corn, wheat, grain and other byproducts and fillers that they can not digest and can't process these foods so it passes through them or they throw up. Feeding them raw eliminates this.

7. Cost, this can be more expensive or cheaper depending upon where and what you put into it. I is half of what I was paying a month for premium organic dry dog food and they love it even more.

    As with everything do the research for your self because what works for one doesn't always work for them all and usually the results take a month or two to see a noticeable difference. I purchase my grind at Nashville Pet Product, they place a monthly order of 40 lbs. for me. A grind is a mixture of meat, organ meat and bones all things your pet needs and would have ate in the wild and it's all organic of course.

10 - Tubes of Blue Ridge Beef Grind - 2lb. each
1 - whole Salmon Filet (I usually find this at Costco, it's a pretty huge piece not the typical small filet. It's about 16 inches in length)
2 - bunches of kale
16 - carrots
4 - green apples or any apples
2 - 12 oz package of fresh blueberries (I also get these at Costco due to them being the same price as one small pint at the regular grocery store)
2 - bunches of parsley
4 - cans of organic unsweetened pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling
4 - roasted sweet potatoes
12 - whole eggs, boiled (shell and all)
1/2 cup - Coconut Oil
1/2 cup  - Flax Seed Oil

    I run all the ingredients through a food process in batches except for the beef, this insures that everything will be in a small edible bites for the dogs and will get mixed evenly into the mix. I dump all the ingredients into a large bowl and add the beef and oil. Make sure you mix and incorporate all the ingredients well. I portion out the food into plastic bags for each meal. My German Shepherd will eat two cups for each meal so he will eat a total of four cups per day. My Yorkie girls will eat 1/4 cup for each meal so 1/2 cup per day. This will last me 2 to 3 weeks. Be sure you freeze them all after packaging and be sure to take some out the night before for the day of serving. Please if you have any questions let me know. You can mix this up and add papaya, broccoli, spinach, strawberries or raspberries. I just compiled my ingredients from a few websites I searched and if you dog gets really constipated or even has the runs give them a scoop of pumpkin, this is a miracle saver for poop issues in dogs and it settles their stomachs. You can also add in some vitamins and supplements too. My favorites are: coconut oil, flax seed oil, fish oil, probiotic for dog, Bragg's Nutritional Yeast, Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, Solid Gold Sea Meal, Solid Gold D-Zyme.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gluten/Celiac Disease


    I'm getting a lot of questions about gluten and noticing that a lot of you are trying to cut it out. Well if your on the fence about gluten let me lay out some reason to cut it out on a trial basis. I challenge you to cut it out for 30 days to see if you notice a difference even though you  might not see the full difference, which means cutting it out for 6 months! Yes, 6 months! This is due to how gluten breaks down in the body and how we store it.  Like most of you who are lactose intolerant you will find you are also gluten intolerant and its only a matter of time before your body completely rejects gluten all together due to the over storage of it your body. That rejection is know as Celiac's Disease. Celiac's Disease affects 1 in 133 people, that's a lot and I'm sure a lot of them don't even know. Not sure if you have Celiac's or even a Gluten Intolerance, here is a list of symptoms to keep a look for and to see if any of these go away after giving up Gluten for those 30 days or 6 months if your a warrior! As with everything please do your own research on this too and ask your doctor! The test for Celiac's is a simple blood test.

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance:
Skin Issues, including rashes, breakouts and more
Brain fog
Joint Pain (gluten is a known inflammatory!)
Numbness in your extremities
Constant Bloating and Gas
Asthma - gluten has been linked to this a along with Celiac's Disease

Symptoms of Celiac's Disease:
Attacks your immune system (specifically your small intestine, this results in intestinal damage, Celiac disease is also associated with other autoimmune conditions, including autoimmune thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes. ) 
Smelly Diarrhea
Constant Abdominal Pain
Abdominal Bloating with Gas
Can Develop: pancreatitis or gallbladder disease 
Endocrine System Issues (Fertility) _ it's linked to thyroid and infertility issues
Joint and Bone Pain: Linked with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis 

See the Website Link below for six signs you might have a gluten intolerance.

Six common symptoms of gluten intolerance

(1) Obviously, there are gastrointestinal (GI), stomach, and digestive problems. These can include one or some of the following: Gas, bloating, queasiness, abdominal cramping, constipation, diarrhea, or an alternating combination of both - IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

(2) Headaches and/or migraines.

(3) Fibromyalgia is not a disease, it's a syndrome. Getting a medical diagnosis is bogus. You don't need to be told you have muscular and connecting tissue aches and pains. That's what fibromyalgia means. Fibro= Connective Tissue; Myo= Muscle; Algia= Pain. Thus fibromyalgia.

(4) Emotional issues involving chronic irritability and sudden, irrational mood shifts.

(5) Neurological issues, including dizziness, difficulty balancing, and peripheral neuropathy affecting nerves outside the central nervous system and resulting in pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in the extremities.

(6) Fatigue, whether chronic or almost after every meal. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is, like fibromyalgia, a syndrome, not a disease. If that's what you're diagnosed with, it means your doctor can't locate the cause of your fatigue.

Yes, all of these symptoms are common to other health issues and diseases. That's why symptoms alone as a diagnosis is perplexing.
    Fixing this is so easy! But most of you are shuttering at the thought of giving up carbs in the form of bread, pastas, cookies, cakes and other flour based products. Trust me, I know how hard this is. Being a daughter of a Czech/Polish/Russian mother who grew up in a Italian community we ate pastas all the time! There are solutions to these problems. First don't tell your self its going to be hard because then your setting your self up for failure, your mind is a very powerful thing and you can over come anything as long as you put your mind to it. Second, is it worth it? Seriously sit down and ask yourself this question. Is it worth stuffing your face with a poison or ridding your body of it and loosing a crap ton of weight at the same time? I'll take the latter! I have given up gluten and it was easy, but I had tools and did a ton of research to find out what I can replace in my house. I will save you the trouble and actually list and link the products to help make the switch easy and delicious. Now I know some of these products are going to cost more but it's worth it. I will tell you every once in a while and that is like once a month, I will have a slice of baguette with some really good brie on it or make a pasta dish with whole wheat pasta. But after I consume it I feel horrible and my whole body breaks out. I seriously look like a 12 year old going through puberty again! Yuck! Ask my friends they have seen and heard me complain about it. There are some times I miss it but all in all its so worth it and in this day and age its so easy to find replacement products!

What to AVOID:
Barley (including Malt flavoring and Malt Vinegar)
Durum Flour
Graham Flour
    And any foods made with these products, unless they are marked gluten-free, including: Beer (if you want an adult beverage drink wine or hard alcohol not made with rye or barley), breads, cakes and pies, candies, cereals, cookies and crackers, croutons, french fries (yes, a lot of places batter them in flour before frying! so ask!), gravies (thickening agent), matzo, pastas, processed lunch meats (this is what helps make the meat stay together and slimy, yummy right!), salad dressings, seasoned rice mixes, seasoned snack foods, self basting poultry, frozen vegetables in sauce.

Some great alternatives for food swaps:
Flours for baking, sauces and more:
Oat Flour, Quinoa Flour, Cup 4 Cup (my personal favorite cause it cooks like flour and it can be used in anything!), Buckwheat Flour, Flax Flour, Almond Flour, Millet Flour, Rice Flour. I buy most of these on Vitacost and purchase Bob's Red Mill brand. This brand makes a ton of Gluten- Free Mixes, like for bread, pizza crust and even pancakes. I use the pancake/waffle one a lot!

Udi's is one of the only few Gluten-Free products I have been able to find outside of the Whole Foods Market in major grocery stores like Kroger. Food for Life, aka Ezekiel Bread also makes Gluten-Free but you will have to ask your grocery store to order some, if they already carry the brand it's easier for them to order it. I love love love their products.
If making your own, use Cup 4 Cup or oat flour, if you need to add some elasticity to it add some xanthan flour. I have tried a ton of Gluten-Free pastas and my favorites are the Quinoa and Rice versions. They are very similar to the wheat pasta textures and wont disintegrate on you after cooking.

Believe it or not there is Gluten-Free beers and here is a list: The Alchemist, Celia Saison; Green's Gluten Free Beer, Endeavor; Sprecher Brewing Co., Shakparo Ale; Estrella Damm, Daura; Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Tweason'Ale; Omission Beer, Lager; Harvester Fresh Hop, IPA; Epic Brewing Company, Glutenator; New Planet Gluten Free Beer, Raspberry Ale; Lakefront Brewery, New Grist; Brad's Craft, Sorghum Beer

    If you have any questions always consult your doctor and get tested! You never know if you could have Celiac's and its a simple fix. Try the challenge and leave me feed back on your results.