Restaurant Rewind: The Very Best…

…Wiener Shop, that is! I grew up spinning on the counter stools at this Pottstown institution. While Sunshine & I love our shopping adventures at Zern’s in search of insanely cheap produce, Lebanon bologna & $1 vintage jewelry, it’s not necessarily a place we stay to eat. On our way out of town, we decided instead to stop for a bite at The Very Best, a downtown deli known for its chili dogs for almost 90 years. I LOVE their perfectly textured tangy chili atop a flat-top seared dog with raw onions & cheese (add mustard for an “everything dog”). With a side of macaroni salad, a fountain coke, & the debate over a slice of their homemade cakes, you can’t ask for a better greasy spoon lunch. It is still is one of the “very best” places to grab a bite in Pottstown…

The Very Best Counter Companion

The Very Best Chili Cheese Dog

The Very Best Aftermath

The Very Best Weiner Shop | Since 1921
252 East High St. | Pottstown, PA 19464 | 610-323-5224
http://www.theverybesthotdogs.com/

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To Taste: Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans

I got alot accomplished today considering I spent Monday sick in bed, so I needed something quick & healthy for tonight’s dinner. A “buy one get one” spinach sale had left me with a whole bag to get through before it spoiled. I’ve been trying to get more protein, less carbs into my diet so lean chicken breast & white beans seemed like perfect accompaniments. I poked around the pantry for some added flavors and got to cooking. With the richness of balsamic vinegar and the aroma of thyme, I came up with a delicious, filling dish that was rich in iron, protein, & fiber and only 550 calories per serving. Enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans

Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans

2 Servings – 550 Calories each

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – (2) breasts, about 4 oz each
  • Olive Oil – (0.5) T + (0.5) T
  • Balsamic Vinegar – (2) T
  • Dried Thyme – (0.5) tsp
  • Chicken Stock – (0.75) cup
  • S&P
  • Garlic – (2) cloves, minced
  • Onion – (1) medium, sliced thin
  • Fresh Spinach – (1) pre-rinsed bag or (0.5) lb
  • White Beans – (1) 15.5 oz can, drained & rinsed
  • Worcestershire Sauce – (1) tsp
  • Sriracha – a few squirts of your fave hot sauce
  1. Heat (0.5) T of Olive Oil on medium in a non-stick saute pan (with lid for later).
  2. Rinse chicken breasts under cool water & pat dry. Sprinkle one side with S&P.
  3. Place seasoned side down in hot pan. Sprinkle other side.
  4. Brown for about 4 min. Flip & brown other side.
  5. Add Balsamic & Thyme to pan. Bring to boil & flip chicken to other side. Reduce liquid for about 3 min.
  6. Add Chicken Stock. Bring back to boil. Reduce liquid to half for about 5 min.
  7. Remove chicken from pan & set aside.
  8. Add (0.5) T of Olive Oil to pan & heat on medium. Add garlic & saute for 1 min.
  9. Add onion & reduce heat to medium low. Allow onions & garlic to simmer for 5 min, stirring occasionally.
    • If you want to add chopped tomato or bell peppers, this would be a good time. Saute for about 5 min before moving on to the next step.
  10. Add a few handfuls of spinach & place lid on top. Return heat to medium.
  11. Once spinach reduces by half, stir & add more handfuls. Return lid.
  12. Continue adding handfuls of spinach until all is wilted
  13. Add Worcestershire & Sriracha. Add White Beans. Stir.
  14. Simmer on medium for about 5 min.
  15. Place chicken on top of Spinach & White Bean mixture. Return lid & heat for about 1 min.
  16. Serve & Enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans

Saturday w/ Sarah: Ansill’s Menu @ Ladder 15

This past weekend, Dre & I went on a mission to the bookstore for Dalai Llama wisdom, food rules via Michael Pollan, & hopefully a continued subscription to Cook’s Illustrated. He headed off to work at 3 and I ventured across Broad is pursuit of a long-overdue Saturday w/ Sarah.

I’m glad I recalled that David Ansill (of Pif & Ansill restaurant notoriety) had revamped the menu* at the relatively new Ladder 15 – 1528 Sansom Street. Our waitress was great and beyond adorable, so I took her recommendation on the Pear Complex from their (also newly revamped) cocktail menu. DELICIOUS! We started off the meal with the Curried Lamb Empanadas. The three rich, crispy, & dense pockets were  savory and perfectly paired with an Apple Chutney & Mango Yogurt.

Curried Lamb Empanadas w/ Apple Chutney & Mango Yogurt

Ahh, the new buzz menu item around Phily – the Ladder 15 Burger! This burger is on a new level of decadence. Eff a kobe burger… a sizzling bone full of marrow & truffle sauce are where it’s at! For those that can’t handle it, they have a classic burger, too. Both are paired with perfectly crisp fries & parmesan mayo dipping sauce… with caviar on top?!?!

Burger 15 - Prime Sirloin, Braised Short Rib, Red Wine Mushrooms, Grilled Red Onion, Bone Marrow, & Truffle Sauce on Metropolitan Bakery Brioche**

Ansill’s self-titled restaurant (that unfortunatley closed last Summer) had a buzz menu item of its own – Korean Tacos! I never had the opportunity to try them, so it was exciting to have a second chance. The order came with (2) soft tacos – a Pork Belly one & a Braised Short Rib one. They were of a richness beyond my imagination with a fatty Korean BBQ marinade, kim chi, scallion, & sesame seeds. I WILL be back for these again soon… and to try whatever flaming dish I envied as it was delivered to another table.

Ansill's Korean Tacos - (1) Pork Belly & (1) Braised Short Rib

The highlight of the experience was not one, but two visits to our table by Chef Ansill. He made a welcome point to show Sarah his vision on topping off the Burger 15 and popped over again to see how we were enjoying everything. Now that’s a chef I can surely respect & support!

*Check out Ansill’s full new Ladder 15 menu HERE!

**Thanks to Metropolitan Bakery for their Twitter shoutout of my Burger 15 pic on Flickr!

To Taste: Baked Toni

I prefer to cook what my dinner guest craves, so I indulged Dre’s request for baked ziti. I was low on spaghetti sauce and had some veggies that needed to be eaten. I blanched broccoli florets, sauteed mushrooms, onions, & garlic, opened a large can of crushed tomatoes, and warmed them together with seasonings in a saucepan.

Fat Rigatoni

While the sauce simmered, I decided on large rigatoni and boiled them until al dente in salted water. I like fat noodles when making baked pasta dishes as they tend to fill with your sauce when tossed. The jumbo macaronis for my Smokey Bacon Mac & Cheese worked great! I folded ricotta cheese & shredded mozzarella into the warm sauce, tossed it with the cooked rigatoni, and dumped it into a greased casserole. Once the sliced mozzarella I tiled on top began to brown & bubble, I pulled it from the over and served Dre a big, hot scoop of Baked Toni.

Baked Toni

Baked Toni

  • Crushed Tomatoes – (1) large can
  • Broccoli – (0.5) head, trimmed into small florets & blanched
  • Mushrooms – (1) cup, sliced
  • Garlic – (1) T, minced
  • Onion – (1) medium, sliced thin
  • Dried Basil – (1) T
  • Red Pepper Flakes – (1) tsp
  • S&P – to taste
  • Ricotta – (1.5) cups, part skim
  • Shredded Mozzarella – (1) cup, low moisture – part skim
  • Fresh Mozzarella – (6) oz, sliced (or enough to cover most of the dish)
  • Grated Parmesan – to taste
  • Rigatoni – (1) lb, cooked al dente & tossed w/ olive oil
  • Olive Oil – as needed
  1. Heat about (2) T of Olive Oil in a saute pan. Add garlic & onion and cook until caramelized, about (5) min.
  2. Add mushrooms & saute until browned on both sides, about (3) min per side.
  3. Dump entire contents of the canned crushed tomatoes into a sauce pan. Add cooked mushrooms mixture, blanched broccoli, dried basil, red pepper flakes, and S&P. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  4. While sauce simmers, bring a large stockpot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook rigatoni until al dente, about (10-12) min.
  5. Drain rigatoni and return to stock pot. Add a bit of olive oil & toss to prevent sticking.
  6. Remove sauce from the heat and dump into a large mixing bowl.
  7. Fold in ricotta & shredded mozzarella cheeses unti combine.
  8. Add rigatoni and toss to coat completely.
  9. Pour the rigatoni & sauce mixture into a greased casserole dish.
  10. Tile sliced fresh mozzarella on top.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for (25) min or until the cheese is browned & the casserole is bubbling.
  12. Let cool for about (3) min and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Leftover Lightning! Sunny Fried Chicken Breakfast Wrap! A la Dre!

Wow, I’m one lucky girl! Dre made me a delcious breakfast two days in one week. First, were his savory Bacon, Egg, & Gruyère Toast Cups for our VDay breakfast. This time around, he embarked on a Leftover Lightning! adventure of his own. He sauteed red bell peppers & onions and scrambled them in eggs, melting the sliced Gruyère atop the last two whole wheat tortillas. He finished the wrap with crispy bacon & leftover fried chicken breasts from his VDay Dinner for another sunny breakfast a la Dre ❤

Sunny Fried Chicken Breakfast Wrap

To Taste: Rustic Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

Last week, Philly was graced with its 2nd major Blizzard in under 6 days. The whole city pretty much shut down on Wednesday = SNOW DAY! Luckily, I also had off on Thursday as Philly is completely unmanageable under 30+ inches of snow & ice chunks. Dre still had to trudge to work and I wanted to make sure he came home to a warm house and a warm dinner! I had defrosted a whole chicken and searched for a recipe online. My first stop is to see what Kayotic Kitchen has up her sleave. Rustic Roasted Chicken? Sounds perfect to me!

I have an odd obsession with the process of butterflying a whole chicken, or spatchcocking it. I had my first adventure with it last summer for my grilled Chicken Under A Brick. It’s easier to slice & serve and makes sense if you aren’t planning to stuff it. Kayotic Kitchen’s marinade for the chicken was a beautiful crimson (in real life) and super tasty.

Marinating Chicken nestled in Raw Vegetables

I improvised the veggies and such with I had available including baby carrots, shallots, onions, Idaho spuds, green onion, smashed garlic cloves, fresh thyme, & turkey bacon to keep it straight poultry.

Fresh Thyme w/ Vegetables

The 7lb bird took about 2-2.5hrs to cook and had the house smelling delicious when Dre got home from work.

Rustic Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

I whipped up what were supposed to be fluffy cheddar biscuits to serve with the chicken. Instead, I got cheddar pancakes. What more could I expect from mix I picked up from Acme for $1. They were still tasty with some melted butter and reheated perfectly for a quick Leftover Lightning! (in the form of a yummy chicken sammie the next day!)

Cheddar Biscuits turned Pancakes

P.S. I highly suggest you click through to the Kayotic Kitchen blog. Kayleigh’s photos are beautiful and recipes are really amazing & easy to follow. I could only aspire to take ones that great. Her love for food is certainly sincere ❤