Restaurant Rewind: Max Brenner & the Family

The weekend before Mom’s Day, my sister & I met up with my parents for Sunday dinner. Kerry decided on Max Brenner, a global chain focused on inspiring a new “chocolate culture.” Many a man has named a restaurant after himself and this bald guy seemed a bit suspect. But in the spirit of celebrating Mary Ann’s birthday, it made sense to give our family chocolate lover an indulgent experience. And that is was!

The menu consisted of familiar items with a “Max Brenner Chocolate Culture” twist. It was hard to focus on savory dinner items with a bible of chocolatey confections tempting you, so we made up our minds on dessert before placing our dinner order. I ordered the Veggie Conscious Burger. The soft, herb-flavored patty topped with tomato & avocado engulfed a brioche bun smeared with avocado-cilantro mayo. chili-chocolate powder dusted waffle fries with some yummy spiced mayo dipping sauce sat opposite  on the long oblong wooden serving plank. My dad ordered The Brenner Burger and we loved both!

NOTE: 2 pickle spears and I didn’t even have to ask!

Veggie Conscious Burger @ Max Brenner

Dad & I decided to share a side dish as well and were fully impressed with the Black & Tan Beer Battered Vidalia Onion Rings w. Dark Chocolate Ranch. You heard that right – time to get some chocolate Ranch dip in your life!

Black & Tan Beer Battered Vidalia Rings w/ Dark Chocolate Ranch Dressing @ Max Brenner

Kerry was underwhelmed by the fish tacos, but Mary Ann seemed to really enjoy her Deep Bleu Cobb Salad. A sampling on my part deemed it quite tasty & crisp. Rabbit food (complete with ears) done right!

Deep Bleu Cobb Salad @ Max Brenner

Now, on to the important stuff, CHOCOLATE! We were quick to place our dessert order since our minds were already made up. Spoons in hand, the four of us waited for our two selections to arrive. Mary Ann went with the Melting Chocolate Heart, a classic chocolate bomb with a oozing raspberry filling, for a tart & rich end to a great meal.

Melting Chocolate Heart @ Max Brenner

I chose my favorite approach to a dessert crepe – Banana & Hazelnut – finished with a side of ice cream, berries & molten chocolate syrup. Took me back to the La Crêperie truck of my Temple days. I loved it –  every last bite & every moment with the fam!

Banana & Hazelnut Cream Crepe @ Max Brenner

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARY ANN!

Advertisements

Quickie: Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries + BLT w. Sriracha Mayo

Seeing that I work 6 day weeks for 5 weeks straight, I had to make the most of my one & only day off this week. Once I peeled myself out of bed after a much needed sleep session (interrupted too often by allergy/cold induced coughing fits), I knew I needed some fuel to get through the chores on my list. I set out for the kitchen on a quest for Sunday Brunch for 1. 15 minutes later, I came out with a bowl of Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Yogurt topped with Cascadian Farm Oat & Honey Granola and fresh whole blackberries for the breakfast half of brunch.

Vanilla Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries

A classic BLT with Sriracha mayo was a perfect match to complete my brunch couple. And so the rainy day laundry & cleaning & bloggin begins…

BLT w. Sriracha Mayo

Leftover Lightning! Roasted Chicken Sammie & Rustic Vegetable Soup!

I had to work this past Saturday and needed a warm lunch before I headed out into the cold. I still have alot of leftover chicken from Thursday (and still do) and plenty of the roasted vegetables, too. Pulled chicken breast, lettuce, & mayo on sliced bread is in my top 10 favorite sandwiches, so that was an easy leftover solution.

The veggies were kinda gelatinous and freaking me out a bit, so I quickly removed the chicken and began heating the pan of veggies on the stove. I wasn’t too excited about a sammie with a side of roasted vegetables, so a roasted vegetable soup only made sense. I dug out my Grandma’s 70’s Era Cuisinart Food Processor, and after indulging its typical neediness, whirled the roasted vegetables and pan jus into a wonderfully tasty and perfectly textured Rustic Vegetable Soup… and I still have plenty of leftovers…

Homemade Rustic Vegetable Soup w/ a Roasted Chicken Sammie

P.S. I gave a shoutout on my Twitter – Re:  Dating & finding info on my Grandma’s old Cusinart Food Processor. Please shoot me a message if you can help!

My Grandma's 70s Era Cuisinart Food Processor

Leftover Lightning! Roasted Chicken & Swiss Cheddar Biscuit!

I had of leftover Roasted Chicken and was stuck with the Cheddar Biscuits turned Pancakes from our snow day dinner. Leave it to Dre to have the brilliant idea to use them as bread on a chicken sandwich. I toasted the biscuits in the toaster oven, smeared them with light mayo, and piled on romaine, Lorraine swiss, & leftover roasted chicken breast. Turned out to an easy & tasty dinner!

Roasted Chicken & Swiss on a Cheddar Biscuit

To Taste: Catfish & Shrimp Po’Boys

Last Sunday, the Colts took on the Saints for Superbowl XLIV. I wanted to cook up a dinner in the spirit of the game, but even though we were rooting for Peyton Manning to pull out a win, there’s not much to say about the cuisine of Indiana. Dre suggested a New Orleans flair and requested Po’Boy sammies. We had just gotten thru the first round of Snowpocalypse 2010 and it was a slow, slippery trip to Acme to pick up the rest of the supplies.

Thank goodness for Dre! He found the Green Bean under 28"+ of snow!

I’m still very much in the honeymoon stage with my new Deep Fryer, so I was excited to fry again! I defrosted (2) Catfish fillets & a half dozen U20 Shrimp, rolled them in Cornmeal Flour seasoned with Tony Chachere’s, dipped them in milk, and rolled them in the Cornmeal mixture again for a double layer of flavor & crisp. The Catfish & Shrimp fried up perfectly in only about 5 minutes!

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish Fillet

You can’t make a Po’Boy sandwich without a delicious Remoulade to spread on your roll. I deferred to Emeril’s recipe and pretty much followed it exactly (which is a rarity for me!). The batch ended up being WAY more than we needed for our sammies, and I certainly wished I had cut the recipe in half until I realized I’d have a delicious spread for other sammies all week. I ended up using it on a Griddled Ham, Turkey, & Swiss Sandwich for dinner Tuesday night and on a Ham, Egg, & Swiss Sandwich on a leftover long roll for my snow day breakfast. It was perfectly creamy & spicy with LOTS of flavor!

Spicy Remoulade w/ Shallots, Celery, & Green Onion

I discovered some amazing fresh long rolls from the corner store when picking up salt for the sidewalks.  They were no Louisiane French Bread, but were soft & crusty. We split them, spread them with the Spicy Remoulade, and topped them with Romaine, Roma Tomatoes, and our Fried Catfish & Shrimp. Dre prepared Zatarain’s Dirty Rice to pair with our Po’Boys for a perfect New Orleans dinner. Way to go Saints!

Shrimp on our Superbowl Po'Boy Sandwiches

CATFISH & SHRIMP PO’BOY SANDWICHES w/ SPICY REMOULADE

  • Cajun Fried Catfish & Shrimp
  • Emeril’s Remoulade Sauce
  • Romaine Lettuce, Sliced Roma Tomatoes, & Crusty French Bread
  1. Split French Bread or long roll and spread Remoulade Sauce on both sides.
  2. Add Lettuce & Tomato Slices and top with the fried Catfish & Shrimp
  3. Enjoy!

Cajun Fried Catfish & Shrimp

Prepared for (2) people

  • Catfish Fillets – (2) whole fillets – rinsed, patted dry, & cut in half
  • U20-25 Raw Shrimp – (6-8) – de-veined, de-shelled, & de-legged
  • Cornmeal Flour – (1.5) cups
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning – (3) T
  • Milk – (1.5) cups – you choice on fat level & use buttermilk if you have it!
  1. Pre-heat deep-fryer or pot of oil to about 350 degrees. Set prepared Catfish & Shrimp aside.
  2. Combine Cornmeal Flour & Tony Chachere’s in a bowl and then spread evenly on a plate.
  3. Lay Catfish Fillets on seasoned Cornmeal mixture and flip to coat each side. Dip each fillet in a bowl of milk and return to Cornmeal mixture to coat again.
  4. Drop coated Catfish filets into hot oil and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes. While cooking, prepare the Shrimp with the same coat with Cornmeal then dip in milk then coat in Cornmeal process.
  5. Remove Catfish once crispy and drain on paper towels. Make sure the oil comes back up to temperature and drop in coated Shrimp. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until crispy. Drain.

Emeril’s Remoulade Sauce

Makes about 1.5 cups from Emerils.com

  • Mayonnaise – (1) cup – prepared or homemade
  • Ketchup – (3) T
  • Creole Mustard – (3) T – I used Inglehoffer’s Original Stone Ground Mustard
  • Hot Sauce – (1) tsp – I used sriracha, but any kind you’d like works fine.
  • Celery – (1) T – julienne, then minced
  • Shallots – (1) T – minced
  • Garlic – (1/2) tsp, minced
  • Green Onion – (2) T, minced
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper – to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Chill in fridge at least 15 minutes or until you are ready to use.

Catfish & Shrimp Po'Boy w/ Dirty Rice

To Taste: Red Curry Chicken Pitas & Mashed White Beans

Friday night, a blizzard was heading our way so I wanted to make a spicy dinner to warm our bellies. I drew inspiration from my Summer Feast with the ladies and decided on to make Chicken Breast marinated in Red Curry Paste & Greek Yogurt again. I whipped up a simple Tzatziki with fresh Dill, Cucumber, Scallions, Garlic, & the remaining Greek Yogurt. They combined perfectly with some Romaine & Tomatoes on Whole Wheat Pitas.

Red Curry Chicken Pitas w/ Cucumber Dill Tzatziki

I came across a recipe for Mashed Cannellini Beans on elly says opa and thought it’d be a perfect side dish for my Red Curry Chicken Pitas. I switched up the rosemary for fresh thyme and simmered the beans with Garlic & Chicken Stock. They look good enough eat even before I mashed them!

Simmering White Beans

After a few smashes with the potato masher & a dash of chili powder, the White Beans were a perfect consistency & pairing for our snowed in dinner. Next time I have to remember a splash of white truffle oil!

Mashed Cannellini Beans w/ Garlic & Fresh Thyme

RED CURRY CHICKEN PITAS w/ MASHED WHITE BEANS

  • Red Curry Chicken
  • Cucumber-Dill Tzatziki Sauce
  • Chopped Romaine Lettuce & Roma Tomatoes
  • Whole Wheat Pitas
  • Mashed White Beans w/ Garlic & Fresh Thyme
  1. Stuff Pita halves with Lettuce, Tomato, & Red Curry Chicken. Top with dollops of Tzatziki.
  2. Pair with a hearty scoop of Mashed White Beans and finish them with a dash of Chili Powder on top.
  3. Enjoy!

Red Curry Chicken

Prepared for (2) people

  • Chicken Breast – (2) breasts – rinsed, patted dry, & cubed
  • Greek Yogurt – (1/3) of a 6oz container – I prefer Fage Total 0% or 2%
  • Red Curry Paste – (1) T
  1. Combine Chicken cubes, Greek Yogurt, & Red Curry Paste in a mixing bowl and coat thoroughly. Marinate in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a saute pan on Medium and add (2) T of Olive Oil.
  3. Once the oil is glistening, add the chicken and brown each side until cooked through. Or you can kebab the marinated Chicken cubes and throw them on the grill.

Cucumber Dill Tzatziki

Makes about (1/2) cup

  • Greek Yogurt – (2/3) of a 6oz container – I prefer Fage Total 0% or 2%
  • Cucumber – (1/2) cup – peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise, & sliced thin
  • Garlic – (1) T, minced
  • Shallot – (1/2) bulb, sliced paper thin
  • Fresh Dill – (1) T , chopped
  • Lemon Juice – (2) tsp
  • S&P – to taste
  1. Put sliced cucumber in a colander and salt generously. Toss to coat and allow to rest in sink for about 5 minutes to draw out moisture.
  2. Combine drained cucumber and other ingredients in a mixing bowl and fold gently.
  3. Chill for at least 15 minutes in the fridge before using.

Mashed White Beans w/ Garlic & Fresh Thyme

Adapted from elly say opa!’s recipe

  • Cannellini / White Beans – (1) 15oz can, drained
  • Garlic – (1) T, minced
  • Chicken Stock – (1) cup – feel free to use veggie stock instead
  • Lemon Juice – (2) tsp
  • Fresh Thyme – (2) tsp
  • S&P – to taste
  1. Bring a saute pan or wok to medium heat and add about (2) T of Olive Oil. Once glistening, add Garlic and brown about 1 minute.
  2. Add beans and saute about 3 minutes.
  3. Pour in chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer over Medium-Low heat.
  4. Once stock has almost completely evaporated (about 10-15 minutes), add Fresh Thyme and combine.
  5. Immediately turn off heat, add Lemon Juice, and mash beans with a potato masher or puree in a food processor until desired consistency. Add splashes of additional chicken stock to smooth if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately with a dash of Chili Powder on top.

Quickie: Southern Catfish Burritos

With Dre getting done work at late, I have to think of quick, easy dinners for us. Last week, I whipped up what I call “Southern Burritos.” I seasoned Catfish Fillets with Minced Garlic, Tony Chachere’s seasoning, Sriracha, & Olive Oil and pan-fried them in bacon fat.

Burritos aren’t complete without rice & beans, so Dre made some Rice-a-Roni (read: quick) with sauteed Red Peppers & Onion to jazz it up a bit. Glory Foods Seasoned Blackeyed Peas are a favorite go-to side dish and were a perfect addition. After adding the Catfish, Rice, & Beans to a Whole Wheat Tortilla, we topped them off with Romaine & Sour Cream for delicious Southern Catfish Burritos!

Southern Catfish Burrito