Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down What?!





When I was a kid, for some reason  my mother never gave me pineapple!  It wasn't until I was in high school that I tried it for the first time in a fruit salad.  There were so many words I could use to describe it; juicy, sweet, fresh, delicious-- far too many descriptive words to list here, actually.  So needless to say I became a fan of the pineapple.  Generally for most people, the go-to pineapple infused eatable would be Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  While, yes, I did enjoy the hell out of pineapple upside down cakes, I also loved pineapple on my kebabs when we grill, extra pineapple juice in my frozen pina coladas, I ever came up with a pineapple-onion marinade/sauce once on accident- and loved it! 

Lately I had been on a breakfast kick making chocolate chip waffles, then stumbling upon a recipe for brownie pancakes I became intrigued.  Brownies are amazing!  Pancakes are alright, too.  Why not combine the two and have an amazing creation??  Welp, I took it one step further and decided to make brownie waffles.  Then I thought harder on how I could make it super amazing, and decided I would make Triple chocolate waffles.   So I made a chocolate waffle batter, but used less sugar than I would normally, and then pour in about a quarter cup of Torani White Chocolate syrup, and threw in a half cup of milk chocolate and semi sweet chocolate chips, then noticed I had a large supply of bananas that I had meant to dip in chocolate for valentines day.  Idea!  I mashed up two bananas, folded them into the batter and proceeded to iron out Triple Chocolate Banana Waffles!  The results were amazing, topped with whipped cream and rainbow jimmies, so I took them to work with me in the morning and everyone loved them there. 



After my Triple Chocolate Banana Waffles were such a huge hit, I decided to make another dessert style breakfast.  The genius idea came to me out of nowhere-- Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes!  Complete with a pineapple ring and maraschino cherry  in the center of it!  

So a few days after my genius idea, I get my new Bon Apetite magazine-- always an exciting moment for me :)  What is the first recipe I see,  you ask?  A recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes!  Blast!  I was going to be an innovator!  A cutting-edge culinary genius!  Not so much anymore.  

So anyways I made them and they were totally amazing, I made some Buttermilk Syrup to go with them and my eyes rolled up in my head as I ate them, it was so delicious!  The buttermilk syrup was the perfect complement to the pineapple upside down pancakes-- Mission Complete!  The biggest pain in the ass about the whole ordeal was that you  need to cook the pineapples first, other than that, not too much different than regular pancake making!

Recipe taken from Bon Apetit Magazine

Pineapple

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 large pineapple, peeled, cut into eight 1/2" rounds, cored
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
 

Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray


Pineapple

  • Melt butter with cinnamon stick in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices; cook until light golden brown, 4–5 minutes per side. Remove skillet from heat; add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple to a plate; let cool. Reserve syrup.

Pancakes

  • Preheat oven to 325°. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; whisk until smooth.
  • Heat a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto griddle. Cook each pan- cake until golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Top each pancake with a pineapple ring. Flip; cook until pancake is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place pancakes on prepared rack and bake in oven until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  • Rewarm reserved pineapple syrup. Divide pancakes among plates; drizzle with pineapple syrup.

I however, did mine a little differently, of course :)  I doubled the recipe, omitted the rum used in the cooking of the pineapple slices and substituted it with pineapple juice; did not use a cinnamon stick or any ground cinnamon, either, for that matter; I used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour;  I added 1/4 cup of pineapple juice to the batter; and used 3x the amount of vanilla, but substituted Butter Vanilla instead.

For the buttermilk syrup, I got inspiration for the recipe from Secret Life of A Chef's Wife's food blog.  I did change it up a bit, I added vanilla and used brown sugar and changed the amount of baking soda added, as well-- which turned out perfectly for me, yay!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Weird Snack

I don't know about you, but I do not care for chips.  Not a fan of pretzels either, really.  Mostly I just don't like salt on anything.  If there is a bag of chips and I'm hungry enough to want to eat them, I take the time to either brush all of the salt I possibly can off or attempt to blow it off.   Usually a combination of the two actions works best, blow on the chip(s) and then brush off the excess salt for optimal (desired) taste.  Lately  I have been eating sweets again, I feel like I'm twelve years old again!
With that said, when I was a kid I used to read an insane amount, and I have always remembered that one character in one of the books I've read had a favorite snack of Oreo cookies topped with peanut butter.  That sounded just crazy enough for me!  So I got oreos and creamy Peter Pan peanut butter and took the risk.  When i first tried the treat I was not a fan in the slightest.  But I'll be damned if just last night I was craving an Oreo McFlurry, but didn't want to leave the house because it was super cold out! 
After raiding my baking supplies cabinet I emerged with a package of Oreo cookies.  I had to search the entire first floor of the house to find some peanut butter, though, but I found it!  I spread the peanut butter on about nine Oreo's and went to my room to enjoy them in my bed whilst watching TV.  They were far more delicious than I ever remember them being, which is crazy because when I was a kid I liked peanut butter, just not on an Oreo, but now in adulthood, I hate peanut butter,  except for when on an Oreo.  It's funny how your taste buds can shift and you can begin enjoying things you never even wanted to give a try, previously.  One thing I adored as a child, and I feel would go rather well with the Peanut Butter topped Oreo, was a glass of 2% milk mixed with Cinnamon-Sugar.... Mmmm I can just taste it now!! Ugh, if only I hadn't developed a lactose intolorance :(  
Well, If you ever have Oreo's, give them a try with peanut butter.  And please do try cinnamon-sugar milk.  I like to think that I am the only person who has ever done that, but I'm sure there's someone else out there just like me.  Do you have any weird snacks, treats or beverages that you crave-- whilst not carrying a child? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Holiday Crafts Part One!

Okay, I know it's fall, but last year I really did not have a full Christmas season so I am starting my Christmas season early this year!  I usually wait until the week of Thanksgiving before I start holiday decorating and all, but I felt the need to start on the first day of November!  Last year my whole scheme of time was out of whack, I had just had my stroke (ischemic and hemorrhagic) in August and was in the hospital until almost September, then throughout the entire month of September and part of October I was in recovery.  I still couldn't remember things, I was sleeping probably about fifteen hours a day and watching TV and that's all. Literally.  I ate a lot of Snack Packs during that time, let me tell you!  But after your brain goes through that much trauma it takes a while to get back to normal, so when I finally went back to work it took a lot out of me.  Then the first week in November last year is when they found the Pulmonary Embolism and those are potentially fatal, and really hinder your ability to breathe normally, so since I'm (relatively) healthy this year I am going balls to the wall, I am fucking up this holiday season-- in a good way!
As I mentioned in my last entry, I joined a website called Pinterest and I am completely obsessed with it and the prospect of crafting to my hearts content this winter!  There are links to so many blog entries about such random things, crafts, clothes, recipes, etc!  So I "pinned" a bunch of things and realized I had none of the supplies to make any othem! haha
I decided to start small and didn't actually craft anything that I found on pinterest, though I'm sure somewhere there are pins of wreaths!  I went by the local Dollar Tree and bought a plain wooden wreath, they didn't have any garland, but lucky me, I did!  I also already had my own gold ribbon and gold tinsel/wire stuff.  So I'll tell you how I did it (so easy!) and show a couple of pictures and then you can make even more awesome wreaths!  I am going to make more awesome wreaths than this, it was just an experiment to see if I could somehow do it :)

Supplies Needed
10ft garland
Plain wooden wreath
Ribbon
Tinsel
Bow
Scissors

1.  Take your garland and tightly go around the perimeter of the wooden wreath until there's no more garland left and the wood is completely covered
2.  Wrap your ribbon around the same way you did the garland, try to keep it evenly spaced (which I did horribly at)
3.  Wrap the tinsel around in the same manner, they should all stay secure without the use of any adhesive or anything
4.  Attach the bow to the front with some of the ribbon, like your wreath is wearing a bow tie

5.  VOILE!  super easy right??  I know!  and btw I also know this is an awful picture, but the sun was shining, wasn't much I could do :-/

 


Honeycrisp Apple Pie!



So one of my favorite things about fall is apples.  I've always wanted to go apple picking but have never had the opportunity, which saddens me.  Oh well, good  news guys, grocery stores carry apples!  And since it's fall guess what kind of apples I'm super stoked about?? OH yes, the coveted Honeycrisp Apple!  The sweetest, juiciest, most delectable apple that has ever been chomped.  Okay, so I don't actually chomp on them myself, I'm sure someone has before.  I like to peel the skin off first and then slice it in half and use a melon baller  to scoop out the seedy center before i slice it into cubes.  Then I proceed to eat with a toothpick while (this year) obsessing on Pinterest.
As you can see, I enjoy a good Honeycrisp :)  So I took one love and combined with another love;  Fall is time for pie, to me.  So I decided that I would make an apple pie with Honeycrisp apples.  I like to be a little fancy sometimes and use a variety of apples for the texture factor, so this year I got Honeycrisp (duh) and Granny Smith.  I don't think I have ever used Red Delicious in any pies before and now I'm wondering why not...
Anyways, back to the pie.  I have a large quantity of whole wheat flour so I ended up making the crust out of it, which is healthier and still awesome, so why the hell not?  I also added cinnamon and nutmeg to the crust, just to give it a little something extra, but other than that, just used my good old apple pie recipe that I developed in 2007!  I had to search through notebooks because I wrote it down in one instead of being smart and putting on my computer somewhere-- and I have a lot of notebooks. 
I ended up  only making a small pie and saving half the dough and half the filling for a later date when I'd want pie rather quickly and won't feel like going through all the trouble of peeling, slicing, chopping, etc.  It turned out quite amazing, I must say.  I don't generally eat a lot of cake or cookies, but let me tell you, I f&$# up some apple pie when it's homemade and available!  Next time I think i may try to make some apple pie empanadas, because that would be so much easier than to have to take time slicing pie, just take a Hot Pocket of apple pie on the go!  So here is my recipe and a couple pictures to drool over while you contemplate running out to Giant for some Honeycrisp apples.



Crust
2 1/2 Cups of Whole wheat flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup frozen sweet cream butter
1/3 Cup cold water
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon cinnamon

1.  In a large bowl, sift or whisk together flour, salt and sugar
2.  Take frozen butter and your cheese grater and grate the butter over top of the dry ingredients
3.  Next, take a pastry blender and cut the frozen butter into the dry ingredients until mixture consists of lumps no larger than peas
4.  Begin adding the ice water one tablespoon at a time and work it in with the pastry blender until dough comes together
5.  Split dough in half, pat them into balls and wrap them in plastic cling wrap 
6.  Place dough in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes; meanwhile you now have time to prepare the filling!

Apple Pie Filling
3 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, cubed)
3 Honeycrisp apples (peeled, cored, cubed)
3 Tablespoons All-Purpose flour
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons apple pie spice (combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice)
1/2 Cup sweet cream butter
1 Large egg
1/4 Sour cream
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1.  Take your apples after you have peeled, cored, and sliced them into chunks and toss them in the tablespoon of lemon juice, this prevents browning and also adds a nice flavor
2.  Mix together the apple pie spice and sugar and add to the chunks of apple, being sure to thoroughly cover all the apple bits
3.  Next, sprinkle the flour and toss in the apples
4.  In a small bowl whisk the egg and pour into the apple concoction
5.  Add the vanilla extract and sour cream to the apple concoction and mix thoroughly

Now time to assemble the pie, yay!  
1.  Take (half) your pie crust dough out of the refrigerator and on a floured surface, roll it out with your rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick
2.  Fold the rolled out dough in half twice, then carefully place it in the pie plate; unfold the dough once in the plate and press it in
3.  Pour the filling into the pie plate on top of the crust
4.  Take the other half of the dough out of the refrigerator and roll that out on a floured surface like you did with the bottom crust
5.  Take the stick of butter that you still have yet to use and chop it into cubes; place them evenly on top of the pie filling
6.  Place the top crust over the pie filling and pinch together the top and bottom crusts
7.  You can take a whisked egg white and brush it over top crust, or heavy cream, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if you so desire
8. Bake on the top rack in the oven and 375 degrees for 55-60 minutes, until apples are tender and crust is cooked
 ** If your crust is browning too quickly you can put a tent of aluminum foil over the pie, loosely
***If you would like to use the lattice technique on top instead of the traditional full top crust, slice your top crust dough into even strips and weave on top of the pie and pinch the ends together

9.  Cool on a wire rack, completely (or until just warm) before serving.  You can add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for a delicious apple pie a la mode, mmm yum

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jamaican Rum + Cupcakes = :)



Wow so I definitely have not posted a blog entry in a good six months   All the planning and excitement of my birthday distracted me back in April, and my birthday and party wasn’t even until the end of May.  But let me tell you, it was freakin' awesome!  Then, in the beginning of August that marked my One year of survival from the thrombotic and hemorrhagic stroke I suffered in 2010, which was a super exciting occasion :) I had two celebratory dinners, one with some friends at Carrabba's, which, i LOVE their Spiedino de Mar (scallops and shrimp lightly breaded in Italian breadcrumbs, sauteed and drizzle with lemon butter sauce) it's amazing...  Mmm...   Then, another night, with other friends, we went to Mimi’s CafĂ©, which I generally love because it’s the only restaurant that serves pot roast and steamed white rice, but the pot roast was extra fatty and not so awesome on that night; bummer, but whatever, it was still nice.  In  September I was busy baking cheesecakes and putting all the profits towards St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital– I raised $1,031 in five weeks!   I was unable to participate in the festivities last year, because I was in the hospital and then in recovery, so I had to make up for lost time.  As you can see, I have still been baking, just not blogging about it, whoops :) So we’ll get back in the swing of things with some fall based baking, soon.
Today I’m not doing any sort of seasonal baking, but I do, however, need to make some Appleton’s Cupcakes.  A month or two back, I had a friend ask me to make some Vanilla-Rum cupcakes for her sister’s baby shower (I know, rum cupcakes at a baby shower are not the norm), so I did, however, she then forgot to tell me when she needed them and so I created the recipe for nothing.   I bought the rum for nothing, we all know I do not drink– and if I happen to indulge, it’s going to be a good Riesling or Moscato, not liquor   Oh, how I love a good German wine...
Okay, enough getting sidetracked, it’s someone’s birthday today, and that is the kind of treat he wants for his birthday.  He is turning 13 today, but don’t fret, when you cook and/or bake with liquor it cooks out the alcohol content, so no one will be getting a buzz off these.   I call them Appleton’s Cupcakes because I use Appleton’s Jamaican rum in them (along with some rum extract).  I use the “gold” or dark rum, not the white, since I feel as though the flavor doesn’t have as strong of a presence as the gold, and since that’s where most of the flavor is coming from (the rum), it needs a strong presence.

Appleton’s Cupcakes

3 Cups All-purpose flour
2 Cups granulated sugar
3 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 Cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt (sour cream)
1 Cup unsalted butter
½ Cup of Appleton’s Dark Rum (or any other dark rum)
2 Large or extra large eggs
4 Yolk from large or extra large eggs
2 Tablespoons of vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
1 Teaspoon rum extract

Preheat the over to 350 degrees; then set out all chilled ingredients so they can become room temperature.
Using a flour sifter, whisk or sieve, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set to the side.
The bowl of your standing mixer (in a bowl with a handheld mixer) put the (room temperature) butter and sugar and cream together for ninety seconds or until white and fluffy.  
Add the Greek yogurt and mix until incorporated.
Add the eggs and egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat until just incorporated.
In three additions, add the dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
Finally, add the Rum, extracts, and paste and beat thoroughly.
Fill 24 paper-lined cups about 3/4 full and bake for approximately 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcakes comes out clean.
After letting the cupcakes cool for about five minutes in their pan, remove them and let cool completely on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.  
For an even more prominent rum flavor, you can brush the tops of the cupcakes with more rum before icing them :)
Since I am never satisfied with icing I make from scratch, I didn’t even bother, with these :) There’s no shame in my game, I admit I took a large can of Vanilla Buttercream Icing and put it in a mixing bowl with a half teaspoon of rum extract, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, and two tablespoons of rum and mix together with my stand mixer.  It makes the icing fluffier, tastier, and it goes with the theme of the cupcakes   Simple, too.  One day I will actually take the time to perfect my icing, but that day has yet to come.  I really just don’t have the patience to do it, currently, and I don’t feel like wasting the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar.  Eff that mess, this works just fine!
So since I’ve slacked so much in the past half of the year, I will be trying to do at least two or three blog entries a week... but we’ll see if I remember to do that, haha, keep your fingers crossed for me!










Saturday, April 9, 2011

Operation: Brownie Perfection

For about the past four or five months, everyone I work with has been bitching about the fact that I have not made any treats for them to consume in a long while.  Then we got a new girl at work; she's young, she bakes.  At first I rolled my eyes when I was told she bakes.  I am the baker.  She couldn't possibly compare.  Right? Yeahhh, about that.  I tasted a s'mores mini cupcake she made-- it was delicious.  Then, mere days later she brought in vanilla cupcakes with marshmallow filling and topped with chocolate icing.  It was extremely sweet and also, delicious.  I may have met my match.  I haven't baked legit cake or cupcakes in probably two years.  I have recently been focused on cheesecakes-- no one can touch me when it comes to cheesecake.  The boys kept demanding a bake off, I continuously declined.  Then one day I decided I would make whatever one of the boys wanted me to make, any treat he could think of. 

Brownies.  He wanted brownies.  My smile dropped along with my spirits.  I have never made a batch of brownies that were even remotely good.  Brownies were my nemesis. 
I began to have flashbacks of when I was working at Ruby Tuesday's a few years back.  My friend and manager requested marbled brownies.  I thought nothing of it, "Okay, I'll bring them on Wednesday," I had agreed.   Wednesday morning as I set out with a brownie recipe, I decided at the first taste that brownies from scratch were no where near as good as brownies from a box.  For a week I tried to alter this recipe to make edible brownies; I bought cocoa powder, dutch processed cocoa powder, bars of unsweetened, semi-sweet, and bittersweet baking chocolate, and chocolate syrup.  Nothing I tried would work.  Seeing as this was a few years ago I couldn't tell you where I went wrong, all I know for sure is that nothing went right.  After I wasted two days worth of tips on chocolate, flour, and extracts and seven days of my life, I gave up.  It can't be done.  That was the only thing that kept me at ease, my self assurance that it couldn't be done.  With that said...
Brownies.  I had to man-up; face this challenge.  I wanted to buy a new cookbook since Borders is going out of business and it would be at least 40% off.  After hours bojangling between four or five cookbooks, I chose, "Baked. New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. The cover said they had the best brownie as voted by a The Today Show, so it seemed promising.



Day One  
I decided to try to make The Baked Brownie, from the Baked cook book.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbl dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

I didn't actually have dark unsweetened cocoa powder, just regular.  My dark chocolate was already sweetened and I chose to omit the espresso powder, 1. because I had none, and 2.  because I didn't want it to taste like a mocha frappuccino.  I altered the amounts of sugar to help it not create instant cavities upon first bite, other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.  The result was the most chocolatey thing I have ever tried.  Wayyy too much chocolate!  So dense, so sweet, so chocolatey!   That was not a winner.  Even my stoner brother didn't really want to eat them, best-brownie-as-rated-by-the-today-show-my-ass!  So far Operation: Brownie Perfection was not off to the best of starts.

Day Two

I decided to switch things up and just alter this recipe.  Instead of using sweetened Venezuelan dark chocolate I opted for plain unsweetened Baker's chocolate bars, and used only eight ounces of it, along with the unsweetened cocoa powder and the original amount of sugar; I also doubled the vanilla and used one less egg.  Biting my lip, I made my brother try it again.  "Better than yesterday, but I don't know what's wrong with it.  Definitely needs to be gooier, though."  To me, it was still too chocolatey.

I did some research on the world wide web about brownies, the science of them and all, and got a few pointers.  For a chewier brownie, use more flour.  Fudgier, add an extra egg yolk.  Never use cake flour, it makes too light and crumbly of a texture for brownies, amongst other tips.  I took it all in, tried to clear my mind, and then went to work on another batch.

Day Three

 
 I really felt as though this was going to be my perfect recipe, so I pulled out my Perfect Brownie Pan that I received two Christmas' ago.  



I used even less chocolate, only six ounces this time, and left everything else the same as Day Two's modifications.  I let it bake for almost five minutes less to insure a "gooier" texture.  I tried one of the brownies while they were still hot and it tasted pretty good to me, but I can' t trust my own opinion in this.  


I had to wait until my brother got home from band practice to try one.  I wrapped one in a napkin and set it where we keep the keys, to make sure he didn't miss it.  Having to rush to work and only having a minute or two at the house before heading in, he took the brownie with him.  I waited.  An hour later I had still not received any feedback at all about the brownie, what the hell!  I texted him myself  "so?", and the equally short text I received back had just one word: "bomb". Finally!  I acheived what I set out to do, I was so excited I decided to make more brownies :) 





The next brownies I made were even better than my original perfect batch.  Since each time I made brownies I used a double recipe, they were super thick, but for my next batch I just made a single.  I started out with a graham cracker crust, mixing graham cracker crumbs with butter and vanilla and pressing them into the bottom of the pan.  After I baked that for about ten minutes I put the single batch of brownie mix on top and baked it for about fifteen minutes, as opposed to the thirty minutes I'd take to bake the double batch.  I wanted to garnish the brownies with some sort of marshmallow topping, but someone in my house apparently took it upon themselves to eat my marshmallows and marshmallow fluff.   I tell them the third shelf in the pantry is not to be touched, but no one ever listens to me, smh.  Without the marshmallow topping they were still good,but I really feel like that would have put them over the edge and made them that much more orgasmic.  Next time there will be a marshmallow topping.  Next time...

So since Operation: Brownie Perfection was such a success, I feel like I want to perfect white chocolate brownies.  That's not a cute or fun name, so I thought that could I call them... eureka!  Whiteys.  I could make brownies and whiteys!  I told one of my friends my amazing idea on the book of faces chat and the response I got was less than enthusiastic.  Yeah, that's definitely a racial slur... Oops! so I am going to make white chocolate brownies, but I am still working on the name.  Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Great American Restaurants

My favorite restaurant in the world is Mike's American Grill.  Hands down.  Thus far nothing else can compare, in my opinion.  Every time I try to go there I get horribly lost.  This time it wasn't so hard to get there, luckily-- though I got myself a bit lost at my refusal to take the highway.  I don't like driving in NOVA (northern Virginia), so I try to avoid the highway as often as I possibly can.  Stupid sprint navigation kept telling me to get on the highway, which didn't make any sense to me because I thought we were just one exit away from our destination.  I was mistaken, we were eleven miles away, awesome.  So after wasting about thirty minutes driving around Woodbridge, Lorton, and Springfield I finally bit the bullet and took i95.   

Upon arrival (before putting on all of my make up in the parking lot, of course-- can't look bad for Mike's)  we (my friend Bre and I) got front row parking to add to our excitement.  I just knew this was going to be an amazing experience, yet again.  I had not been to Mike's in almost two years, not since I spent my twenty second birthday there with sixteen of my closest friends.  I was long overdue for a visit.  We got sent upstairs to be seated, which we were, promptly, in a little two seater booth.  Our server's name was Chris, so I asked if he had a nickname or middle name that I could call him by, because I just don't care for names that are so generic.  CJ, our newly named server, was great, though it took him a while to warm up to us.  Now, on to the food.

We started off with these amazing rolls, I believe he called them Ozzie rolls.  I probably heard wrong though, now that I think of it. They should really be called Little Tufts of Delight-- they are round, warm, perfect balls of the best bread you will ever have.  Ozzie rolls come with ramekins of amazing poppy seed butter; as you can see Bre was a little eager to grab more and ruined my picture. 


We each ordered a Chopped House salad, which has grilled corn, diced tomatoes, amazing croutons and a phenomenal buttermilk herb dressing.  Literally, the best house salad I have ever had.  I get so excited to get it every time I go there; sometimes I get it with bacon and cheese, but it's not necessary, that is just extra calories you don't need because it's so good in its simplistic state.  


We had to force ourselves to stop eating our amazing salads and ozzie rolls when another server brought out the main dishes.  Usually, I opt for the 5 ounce Filet Mignon and crabcake, but they do not offer that at lunch time, ugh.  Instead I got the two crabcakes meal, which comes with french fries and coleslaw. I changed out my coleslaw for asparagus, because I can't have vegetables, but most importantly leafy ones, for medical reasons (sucks!).  Bre got her usual, 10 ounce Filet Mignon with redskin mashed potatoes, button mushrooms, and extra side of asparagus


Bre gets her steak medium well, which I find to be insulting, but she loves it.  In her own words, she said her food was "pleasure in my mouth".  




You can just look at my food and know it was delectable!  Hands down, best remoulade ever.  Not too thick, not spicy, just perfect.  I know they have to make that mess themselves.  The crabcakes were perfectly sauteed (I think), made of lumps of crab meat, hardly any filler.  The asparagus is huge.  No, seriously, at least three times the size of the asparagus at Cheesecake Factory.  The fries are fine, I'm not a huge fan of shoe string fries, I'm more of a steak fry kind of girl, but still, they were good fries.  

We had intentions on getting the White Chocolate Bread Pudding for dessert, but after eating only half of everything we were still decently stuffed.  Opting for boxes instead of dessert was a melancholy occasion, but we vowed to get it next time.  Yet again, a completely perfect experience at Mike's American Grill.  Bre mentioned that she has never been to any of the other Great American Restaurants, which is the "chain" Mike's is part of, so this only means we will next have to try Sweetwater Tavern or Carlyle's next-- So stoked about that!