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 🙂

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