Visit from the Dowes

It was another one of those weekends where the time just flew by. Today’s post will have to be more food-centric than life-centric, because I forgot to take pictures of people. Oops!

I got up early Saturday morning to get my hair color retouched, hit Goodwill for my Halloween outfit (Robin Sparkles), cleaned, and went grocery shopping, finishing up just as Dave’s parents were pulling in the driveway. Was the last time I saw them really last Christmas? Oof. We had plenty to catch up on–my mother-in-law Kathy had taken a trip to Europe with Dave’s sister and her wife, and she brought back some lovely souvenirs for us, including a lovely Celtic necklace, a Guinness candle, beer, and whiskey.

We had a very foodie afternoon; we started at O’so Tap House for some beer samples, stopped at Great Northern Distilling for a cocktail, and then meandered over to Father Fats for an amazing dinner. We tried to take his parents here last year, but it was so packed that there was a huge wait. This time, we bit the bullet and went at 5! No trouble getting in then.


We started with Crispy Plantain and Yuca Chips which were served with guacamole and mango salsa. I’ve had plantain chips in the past that I didn’t care for, but these were fried perfectly crisp and paired wonderfully with the guacamole and mango salsa.


Next up, New Orleans Firecracker Shrimp with grilled bread. True to its name, the shrimp was very spicy, but the broth served with it was excellent, especially with the grilled bread.


Our wild card was Creole Cornmeal-Fried Crawfish and Gator. Dave wasn’t a big fan of this one, but I really liked it. The gator tasted just like chicken! I thought that the veggie slaw and remoulade it was served with was even better than the gator.


My pick was Lamb Meatballs with cucumber salad and tzatiki sauce. Lamb may be pretty expensive, but remind me why I don’t make tzatiki sauce more often. I love it! I usually don’t care for meatballs, but these were wonderful–jam-packed with flavor, juicy, and perfect with the sauce.


Up next, Craisin Molasses-Glazed Pork Belly served with butternut squash and cauliflower. Dave and I weren’t sure at first what the squash was until Dave’s dad filled us in, and then we promptly stopped eating it. Ha ha. I guess we’ll just never be squash lovers. The pork belly was wonderful, though.


Last but not least, Chicken Leg Confit Salad served with spinach, goat cheese, and fig jam. Since confit is such a heavy dish, I like that it was paired with plenty of fresh spinach and fig jam for counterbalance.

For dessert, Dave and I split the Salted Caramel Parfait.


With layers of devil’s food cake, caramel, and toffee, it was a perfect end to the meal.

Dave’s parents went to check in at their hotel after dinner, so we elected to walk home from the restaurant since it was such a beautiful night. We ended the night with plenty of conversation and a few episodes of one of Dave’s favorite internet shows: My Drunk Kitchen.

We had a very leisurely Sunday morning before going to Emy J’s for brunch.


I ordered a Matcha Latte, which is my go-to drink at Emy J’s–iced in the summer, hot in the winter. I love the leaf on top of my beverage–so pretty!


I ordered Huevos Rancheros for breakfast with a side of wheat toast. I loved that it was served on top of a small tortilla so by the time I got to the bottom, I could eat it like a piece of pizza.

Dave’s parents had a long drive back home, so they left soon after breakfast, giving me plenty of time to play in the yard and in the kitchen.


This was the only pepper we got from our pepper plant this year…and it was supposed to be a red bell pepper!


I was really happy with the amount of Brussels sprouts we got, though. Brussels are notoriously hard to grow in warm weather, and, while they aren’t huge, I’m sure they’ll be like popcorn after they’re roasted and perfect with some gnocchi and blue cheese sauce.

Dave asked me to make some soft pretzels, so I made four…and then made a pretzel dough pizza crust as well.


Here it is boiling in the baking soda bath.


And post-baked. I made this pretzel crust half whole-wheat, so the dough was a little dense to work with, but the bread man helped me turn it into something beautiful.

I decided to make a caramelized onion and mushroom pizza with gorgonzola cheese and a little good balsamic drizzled on top.


It tasted as good as it sounds.IMG_7727

Spinach salad with roasted broccoli on the side, topped with diced hardboiled egg.

Dave and I had a good grocery shopping trip on Saturday, so I’m excited that I have so many good ingredients to work with the next few weeks. I even did meal prep last night, so, if it turns out, you’ll see a recipe for slow-cooked apple cider chicken on the blog tomorrow!



Shelby for a Weekend

Hey guys! I hope you had a good weekend.

Mine was splendid but, as usual, was over far too quickly. The visit that had been put off far to long was finally here.


Artwork by C. Morgan



I was off-the-wall excited for Shelby’s visit. I hadn’t seen her since the day after Thanksgiving, which is far too long to be away from one of your best friends. It’s amazing how close we have become in such a short period of time, and I can’t imagine where Dave and I would be without our Shelbster.

Friday we had a pretty low-key night. We stayed in, had some beverages, ordered out, and watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

We were in bed pretty early Friday night, which left us all day Saturday for bumming around. We started our morning with coffee and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and took turns showering before we started prepping for dinner.



Dave sauteed some onions for French onion rolls and for a Potato Tian that he put Shelby and I to work on.



Shelby loved that she got to mix the potatoes with the oil and spices by hand.



I’ve never made a tian before, but it was gorgeous. I was especially glad that I finally got to use the casserole dish I got thrifting the day after Thanksgiving.

With the potatoes prepped and the bread dough rising, we decided to do a little thrifting ourselves.



This was our first time at Nice As New, a resale shop sporting mostly clothing. We each ended up with a few things, including a new sweater for Dave that I was most excited about.

We needed a pick-me-up and something to nosh, so we headed to Emy J’s.




I ordered one of my favorites: a Matcha Latte with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.011


Because friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.009


I wanted something light, so I ordered a Greek salad with whole wheat toast and balsamic dressing on the side.



Emy J’s has really delicious wraps and sandwiches and while this salad was really good, I was kind of surprised that it was the same price as a wrap. For $8, you should get a salad the size of your plate. Still, it was the perfect amount of food.

We headed back home for a little bit to beat down the dough and let it rise a second time. You really have to babysit bread! Dave is better at babysitting than I am; that’s why he’s the baker.

We wanted to fill our growlers for that night, so we headed to O’so Tap House.

013 And of course we had to have a beer (or two) while we were there…



I tried a Sweet Lady Stout for the first time, which was rich and smoky with a hint of sweetness. It was good, but not as good as Night Train, which I chose to fill one of the growlers with.

For the second round, we all ordered Holy Wah, which ended up filling our second growler.



Shel and Chel at O’sos! Notice how we’re wearing matching shirts. Most of my friends and I get our clothes at thrift stores or Target, so we have quite a few of the same tops. I guess I don’t really have original style…

When we left O’sos, we were all hungry but dinner was far off, so I made a snack plate to tide us over while the roast, potato tian, brussels sprouts, and rolls cooked.



Toast points made from the rest of Dave’s homemade rye bread, carrots, celery, pickled brussels sprouts, pickles, cheese curds and homemade ranch dip with Greek yogurt.








I love these people so much.

At long last, dinner.



Everything was so delicious. The brine that Dave used for the roast was amazing; the same one that he uses for his ribs. Unfortunately, the potatoes were a little undercooked and crunchy, but the caramelized onions and mushrooms underneath the dish evened that out.



As did the crunchy cheese on top.

Wine + food coma = sleepy Chel. I was in bed before midnight again, which resulted in me waking up early to finish the rest of Allegiant. I haven’t really been impressed with the last few book series I’ve read. Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: they all seem to start out really strong, but the second book is weaker, and the third weaker still.

My conclusion: there is no next Harry Potter series.

So we started Sunday morning with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

After showers and a quick trip to the store for vodka, we headed over to Dan and Em’s for Sunday Bloody Sunday. Dave wore his new striped sweater.


So handsome.

Game of the day: Pass the Pigs.


This was a housewarming gift from our friend Jake, and this was our first opportunity to play it since we received it.

The game is pretty simple: throw the pigs like dice and earn points (or lose points) depending on how they land.


So simple, yet so fun.

For a late lunch, Dan and Em promised us curry, so we chopped, stirred, and sauteed our way through the afternoon.


Dan bought most of the ingredients for the Chicken and Mushroom Curry from a local vietnamese market, including this 20 lb bag of Basmati rice.




Heavenly. I’m definitely going to be making my own curry more often, although I made Dave promise to make some naan to dip in it.

We finally had to say goodbye to Shelby and send her on her merry way, as much as I didn’t want to. I distracted myself with knitting before Dave and I watched the final episode of Sherlock season 3.

AAAAAGGGH! Is how I felt after I watched it. And how I felt when the weekend was over.