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!

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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

To Taste: Grandma’s Chicken Divan

I grew up with the luck of enjoying my Grandma’s home-cooked dinners every night. My favorite of her dishes was the Chicken Divan – a casserole of broccoli, pulled chicken, & a cheesy sauce. If she wasn’t making it fresh for dinner, she was always sure to have portions frozen to indulge my divan requests. Not too long ago, I finally convinced her to share her recipe.

Grandma's Chicken Divan

We had a serious surplus of broccoli in the fridge so I had to get creative with ways to get rid of it. A giant casserole of my Grandma’s Chicken Divan seemed perfect. The first direction on the recipe was to blanch broccoli and layer it in a greased casserole.

Broccoli Base

I thawed half a chicken worth of white & dark meal STILL hanging out from my Rustic Roasted Chicken dinner. I can’t believe how many Leftover Lightning! meals came out of it!. I pulled it & layered it on top of the broccoli.

Pulled Chicken layered on the Broccoli Base

I was missing some ingredients from the next step, so I improvised with what my pantry staples could offer. I only had (1) can of Cream of Broccoli & Cheese Soup, so I combined it with mayo, lemon juice, & some water to loosen it up. Grandma’s recipe called for smoked paprika, but all I could dig out was some chili powder. My spice cabinet is really a disaster right now. Once the cheesy mixture was combined, I spread it on top of the pulled chicken & broccoli layers.

Cheesy Soup Blend over Pulled Chicken over the Broccoli Base for Chicken Divan

I melted some butter, combined it with seasoned bread crumbs, & sprinkled it over the whole casserole.

Breadcrumbs over the Cheesy Mixture over Pulled Chicken over the Broccoli Base

And then I realized I missed a step in the recipe. What’s new. But this was an important step. The CHEESE! How could I FORGET THE CHEESE? I quickly shredded mild & sharp cheddar cheeses and had no choice but to layer it on top of the breadcrumbs. It was only a minor mistake, just a good thing that I caught it. The casserole looked & tasted so delicious. I know I did my Grandma’s recipe proud!

Grandma's Chicken Divan

P.S. Follow along with my steps & feel free to recreate, but my Grandma’s actual recipe will remain a secret among family 🙂

VDay Din: Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu, Tarragon Dijonnaise, & Champagne-Asparagus Risotto a la Dre <3

Dre always has a plan. He had a shopping list prepared for our grocery trip, did prep work Saturday night, and researched recipes for cooking on Sunday. I dig that kind of organization in a man.

The breakfast he made me was amazing, so I was looking forward to the dinner on Dre’s Vday menu. I was especially impressed with his ambition. Saturday night, Dre trimmed chicken breasts & marinated them in a habanero-buttermilk mixture. We both almost choked to death, not realizing how crazy hot those peppers are!

On Sunday, Dre seasoned & double-breading the breasts before frying them to perfection in my Cool Daddy. He topped them with crisped slices of prosciutto & Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, paired them with his homemade Tarragon Dijonnaise, and proudly declared it fried chicken cordon bleu!

On our shopping excursion, Dre picked up a bottle of champagne. After no mimosas for brunch, I got curious about it’s part in our Vday. Little did I know, but not only was Dre making a creamy batch of risotto, he was perfecting it with the bubbly and some fresh asparagus. I’m so proud of my Valentine!

Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu, Tarragon Dijonnaise, & Champagne-Asparagus Risotto

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