Review: Stillhouse — Where the cocktails shine

I knew when I started this blog that I wanted to include restaurant reviews. I am a very active Yelper (ahem, Elite even) and love trying out new places so why not? Plus I do not cook every night of the week and when I don’t, we are usually at a restaurant.

Now I know that not all my readers are in Atlanta so these will not be applicable to you, but hey, if you ever are in town for any reason, be sure to check them out. And of course I do travel, so there might be the occasional non-Atlanta review worked in as well.

As you might be able to tell from the title of this post, I am talking about Stillhouse, a new cocktail bar and burger joint in the East Andrews part of Buckhead. My friend Lauren from Pretty Southern invited me to their media event last week so of course I jumped at the chance to go with her. I got there first and sat at the bar and immediately began chatting with the bartender. Part of what Stillhouse is known for is their housemade moonshine. Some people hear “moonshine” and think of people in the country during Prohibition drinking high-proof booze out of mason jars. This is not that kind of moonshine.

photo 1 photo 3

I tried two cocktails, both of which were off menu so I can’t recommend a specific one. But if these are any indication of the quality of the other cocktails, they are bound to be delicious. The first one was a concoction with moonshine, whiskey, muddled blueberry and mint. It was almost like a tasty take on a mojito. The second was my favorite — a coconut, pineapple moonshine mixture. It was  better than any pina colada you have ever had.

Lauren and I both decided that we would return to Stillhouse with our husbands. It is a very chill place that would be an excellent choice to grab drinks whatever the occasion. I supposed I should mention the food as well, even though the drinks were the standout for me.

The menu features just burgers with an array of while toppings. From peanut butter hummus to duck confit, there are a lot of combinations I have not seen before. I got the Skeeter Branch Duck Burger with green tomatoes, goat cheese, duck confit, pickled beets and spinach.

photo 2

It was good, but not the most amazing burger I’ve ever had. Whenever I go back, I’m going to try one of the beef burgers because, as much as I like duck, I don’t think it makes a good burger. The standout food item we tried was the mac n cheese. It was made with orecchiette pasta and had a little zip to it. Totally delicious.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening and someplace I look forward to returning to.

Note: I attended a media event where my meal was covered. 

Advertisements

Friday Five: Fails Edition

So I am trying something different with this week’s Friday Five. Instead of sharing with you five things I am liking or want to try, I am going to share with you some of my cooking fails.

No one is perfect and cooking isn’t always easy. Sometimes things just don’t work out. But that is the best part about cooking — you can always try another time. These are all recipes I have tried before and haven’t exactly gone as planned for whatever reason.

1) Nutella Rice Krispie Treats. Sounds pretty delicious, right? I made these to bring to work back when I lived in DC (I instituted Treat Tuesday in my office because, well, I wanted an excuse to be a fatty). While they had the delicious Nutella taste I was looking for, they were hard as a rock. They didn’t have that chewey bite that Rice Krispie treats are known for. I am not entirely sure what went wrong, but it might have had to do with the marshmallow to Nutella ratio. Next time, I might try using marshmallow fluff and see if that makes a difference.

2) Balsamic Vinegar Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes. This dish held so much promise. I love balsamic (even though Eric does not) and anything with basil and tomatoes together should be excellent. But this was just…meh. I followed the directions as written, but it turned out with zero flavor. It was just dry chicken. I’m not sure if this recipe deserves a second chance or not.

3) Crock Pot Jerk Chicken and Thai Curry. I am including both of these as one because they suffered the same fate — being almost too spicy to eat. Eric and I both love spicy food, but I think the combination of the spices cooking all day infused a tad too much heat in to the final product. Maybe next time I will cut the spice mixture in half or the cooking time and see if there are better results.

4) Blackened Salmon. Who does’t love blackened salmon? Granted it isn’t one of the easiest things to make at home, even though you might think it is. When I tried this, blackened didn’t mean flavors, I meant the actual fish. BLACK. The finished product has a nice black and burned crust on it. It also set off the smoke alarm in our apartment quite a few times. No bueno.

5) The final fail isn’t necessarily one recipe — it is one particular ingredient.

baked-spaghetti-squash-garlic-butter-4564

 

For the life of me, I just cannot find a way to do spaghetti squash right. I’ve cooked it in both the microwave and the oven. I’ve served it with my homemade pasta sauce, a take on alfredo, in a stir fry. It just never turns out in a way that is edible. I’m not entirely sure if I am doing something wrong or if I just don’t like spaghetti squash in general. The whole “oh this is an awesome substitute for pasta” might not fly with my inner Italian.

Greek Steak Kabobs

Eric and I do some of our best menu brainstorming at the kitchen table while we are eating dinner. Usually on a Monday, we talk about our plans for the week and what meals we should cook, when we’ll eat apart, when we’re eating out etc. We think about if we have any thing in the freezer or pantry we want to use up. And then we think up an idea. This recipe is a result of one of those dinner think sessions.

We had two sirloin steaks in the freezer that we got from Costco. They came in a pack of four and when we grilled them up the first time, I barely at half. So instead of just throwing them on the steak once more, we came up with the idea for kebabs. Kebabs are a great way to cook both protein and veggies at the same time. I am now a kebab convert.

1240604_629717887060917_364188302_nI took the meat and veggies off the kebabs and made a salad. Eric ate the meat and veggies together with a small salad on the side. These would also be good with chicken or even tofu if you are in to that sort of thing.

Greek Steak Kabobs
(Makes four kebabs)

2 large steaks (we used sirloin, but any kind of meat should do), cut in to 1.5 inch pieces
1/2 cup Greek salad dressing (We used Ken’s)
1 tbls oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Various veggies, cut about the same size as the meat (We used red onions, red bell peppers, button mushrooms, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. Would also be good with zucchini or squash. Use whatever veggies you want).

1) In a large plastic bag, combine the salad dressing, oregano, lemon juice and garlic powder. Season the meat with salt and pepper and place in the bag. Let sit in the first for a few hours. I think ours sat for about four.

2) If you are using wood skewers, be sure to soak them in water beforehand. We used metal skewers we got as a wedding gift. When the time comes to assemble, put the chunks of beef and veggies on the skewers. I like to place onions and peppers right next to the beef so they infuse a nice flavor while on the grill. But there is no set method for setting up your kebabs. Meat, veggie, meat. Meat, veggie, veggie, meat. Whatever you feel like. Make sure to leave room at each end of the skewer so you will be able to turn the skewers.

3) Turn on your grill (or grill pan) and heat to medium high heat. Once hot, place the kebabs on the surface. Be careful not to overcrowd the grill top or you’ll have trouble turning the kebabs. For medium-well, cook about 7 minutes for each side. For medium-rare, about four. The good thing about this recipe is that even if the steak is cooked more than you like, the marinade helps keep the beef tender.

4) Carefully remove the kebabs from the grill and to a plate. Use a fork to push the pieces of food off the kebabs with care — the skewers will still be hot. Serve with a green salad or even a side of roasted potatoes, couscous or quinoa.

Pumpkin pancakes — and a confession

It is finally fall! And while I am waiting until next Tuesday and the beginning of October to give in to the pumpkin spice latte craze, I have already embraced other pumpkin delicacies. Mainly pumpkin beer and pumpkin pancakes.

Best part of weekends in the fall. Well besides football.
Best part of weekends in the fall. Well besides football.

I posted the above photo on Instagram and a few people asked for the recipe. So today y’all are in luck.

93044-pumpkin-pancake-waffle-mix

 

Yes, I admit it. I don’t make pumpkin pancakes from scratch. I’ve tried! I have. But the truth is that Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake mix blows all of my homemade endeavors out of the water. I could have sat here and shared a real recipe with you, but I want to be honest.

Sometimes I don’t make things from scratch. There are some night when we have frozen pizza. Or one of those Bertolli frozen concoctions. I’m human. I work a full time job. I can’t always devote a lot of time to prep work and cooking. I also know when to admit where I am not as strong, and baking from scratch is that area. The thought of making a pie with homemade crust or baking a cake from scratch terrifies me. OK, maybe not terrifies me, but you get what I am saying. These nerves have turned me on to semi-homemade baking (thank you Sandra Lee), doctoring up store bought mixes to make s’mores cookies and such.

But that is the great thing about this blog. Being able to try new things and share my triumphs and tragedies with you all has made me want to try new things. So I foresee more baking in my future. I mean, that challah turned out pretty amazing and certainly helped with my confidence.

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.

 

Friday Five

Fair warning — this week’s Friday Five might be sort of lame. Well at least part of it. Some weeks are just better than others.

1) Totally obsessed with grilled fish at the moment. Between the soy and brown sugar salmon we made last week and the pesto mahi mahi we made this week (both marinades discussed more in depth here), I just want to make all seafood on the grill now. It just gives the fish such a depth of flavor. I think next I want to try out some grilled shrimp skewers. The only issue is that the fish sticks to the grill like CRAZY. If anyone has any tips for avoiding this, let me know.

2) I try not to keep a lot of sweets in the house because, well, I don’t have a lot of self control and I have one heck of a sweet tooth. That is why when Eric came home from the grocery store with this, I knew I was in trouble.

photo

IT IS SO DELICIOUS. Chocolate and peanut butter is one of the best combinations of all time and this ice cream does it perfectly. The little chocolate-covered peanut butter footballs are the best. Apparently it is limited edition, so you should check it out while you still can. BRB, off buying six more gallons…

3) Fall officially beings on Sunday. We’ve even had a few chilly evenings here in Atlanta. It has really put me in the mood to whip up some delicious fall treats. Mostly this apple crisp with pecan topping and these pumpkin spice biscuits. Eric has mentioned a trip up to north Georgia to do some apple picking so that crisp might be happening in the near future.

4) On the fall track, I just wanted to update everyone that I have yet to have a PSL from Starbucks. Tuesday was the first day I was really tempted…it was overcast and a tad chilly here and I had an appointment right across the street from a Starbucks. But I was strong. I think I have made it this far so barring an incredibly cold snap, I will make it until October. But you best believe I am going to Starbucks on October 1st, regardless of the temperature.

5) I think I am in the market for a mezzaluna, strictly for the purposes of making salads a la Chopt. I just love how everything in those salads is so finely chopped and mixed together. It is delicious. Despite my best efforts with a regular ol’ knife and fork, I can never replicate the results. For those who are wondering, this is a mezzaluna:

41GpGrbp1GL

It kinda looks like a medieval torture tool, but it would help me make amazing salads.

 

Recent recipes

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Five the crockpot jambalaya we made to watch during the Redskins season opener and someone on Facebook asked for the recipe.

1208486_625243537508352_663334494_n

The basis was this AllRecipies version that I found, but we made some tweaks. Here’s our version below.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

1 pound of chicken (we used tenders, but breasts or thighs would work too), chopped in to 1 inch pieces
1 big link of smoked turkey sausage (which we used instead of andouille, but feel free to use it), chopped in to 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound of shrimp, peeled and with the tails off
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes (you could use plain or fire roasted)
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 cup of chicken broth (or water)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp Cajun seasoning (We used Zataran’s)
1 tsp cayenne (you could use more if you like it spicier)
1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked rice (we used a rice cooker) or 1/2 to 1 cup uncooked rice

1) Combine the chicken, sausage, onion, tomatoes, chicken broth and spices in to a crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6. Check on it every once in awhile (if you can) to see how the seasonings are coming together and feel free to add more spices.

2) If you are going to cook your rice in the crock pot, add it with an hour left. If you are cooking your rice separately, start the process at about the same time.

3) Fifteen minutes before serving, add the shrimp. Cook them until their are pink.

4) If you are cooking the rice in the crock pot, once the rice is cooked through, the jambalaya is ready to serve. If you are cooking the rice separately, mix in the cooked rice one scoop at a time until there is enough rice for your liking. I usually like to keep it to the consistency of a stew rather than a soup.

5) Serve hot. Garnish with parsley or Tabasco if desired.

Be warned: this recipe makes A LOT. We had two friends over and the four of us each had multiple helpings AND we still had leftovers. But it was delicious. Eric and I decided it was probably about a 4 SPORK rating.

And since I am sharing, here’s the recipe for what I made on Monday night. I was inspired by this Real Simple recipe. The big change I made here is how I cook the gnocchi. Instead of the traditional boiling, I crisp it up on a pan a la Iowa Girl Eats. It is delicious and much quicker than waiting for water to boil.

553594_628332557199450_1181359547_n

Crispy gnocchi with squash, tomatoes, basil and goat cheese

1 package of store-bought gnocchi
1 large yellow squash, diced
1 package cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 tbls olive oil
1 glove garlic, chopped
Crumbled goat cheese
Fresh basil

1) Split the olive oil up between two pans. Heat both over medium heat.

2) In one pan, dumped the package of gnocchi. Make sure the pan is big enough so the gnocchi can sit in one layer. This helps maximize the crispyness and minimize the cooking time. Let them sit for 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to crisp up on one side and then stir. Keep cooking and stirring until the gnocchi get browned on each size. At this point they should look more like tater tots than gnocchi, but they should still be tender on the inside.

3) While the gnocchi is cooking, put the yellow squash in the other pan. Add the chopped garlic along with some salt and pepper and cook until the squash is almost tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Cook until the squash is tender and the tomatoes have cooked and wilted. It is OK if there is some liquid from the tomatoes in the pan — it will be a good sauce for the gnocchi.

4) Dumped the squash and tomatoes in to the pan of gnocchi and stir until combined. Scoop servings in to bowls and top with goat cheese. Eric and I both like A LOT of goat cheese so we put on a decent amount, but use your discretion. Top with ripped or sliced basil leaves.

Some variation of the above dish is one of our go to meals when we are looking for something quick. I always try to have a package of gnocchi in our pantry. I am a big fan of homemade gnocchi as well, but for the purposes of crisping, the store-bought kind works best. You could also serve this with a traditional red sauce or a pesto if you wanted, or even an olive oil and parmesan sauce instead of the using goat cheese. One you get the technique of the crispy gnocchi down, you can make it however you want.

Easy Marinades

There are just some nights when you don’t feel like pulling out a recipe and going through all the steps. These are the nights where I whip up some sort of protein (chicken, fish, steak, etc) and an easy side of vegetables or quinoa or something along those lines. When I do this, I like to use one of my go-to marinades to add flavor to whatever I am cooking. These are marinades that require ingredients I usually have on hand and infuse flavor in a short time. I just used one of them last week for some salmon.

photo

For the salmon, I used a soy sauce and brown sugar marinade. I had two medium-sized pieces of salmon so I used 1/4 cup of soy, 1/4 brown sugar and about a half a teaspoon of garlic powder. You can adjust it based on how much fish you have, but a one-to-one ratio of soy to brown sugar is a good bet. I mixed it up in some tupperware (a plastic bag would work as well), put the fish in flesh side down and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. Then I popped it on the grill. Easy peasy. I love using this marinade on the grill. The brown sugar caramelizes a bit and the top of the salmon gets a tasty crust on it. The flavor of the soy and the brown sugar really penetrated in to the fish. It was quite good.

Another one of my favorites is one I learned from my mom. One of her go-to marinades is extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. It is a great quick way to infused flavor in to chicken breasts or thighs. I will toss the chicken in a big storage bag, pour in enough olive oil to coat (1/4 to 1/2 cup usually), squeeze in half a lemon (or a couple squirts of the kind that comes prepackaged), shake in a teaspoon or so of oregano along with salt and pepper and toss it in the fridge. Let it sit for a bit (I usually like to have it in there for an hour) and then cook it however you want. This is also a great way to marinade veggies. I’ve used this with asparagus and eggplant before with good success. As I type this, I think I would like to try this out on tilapia as well.

The last marinade I’m sharing is pesto. Just straight up pesto, mixed with whatever protein you want. This summer I made both pesto shrimp and pesto chicken using this marinade. I grow my own basil , so I usually whip up homemade pesto (a handful of basil, some olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper. No need for pine nuts or walnuts, unless you have them on hand). Mix it up until it gets the consistency you want. It shouldn’t be too liquidy, but you can add olive oil as you like), but you could just as easily use a jar of the store-bought kind. Rub the pesto on and let it sit in the fridge for a bit and then cook it up. I like pair this with pasta.

The last little bonus tip I’ll share is how to make your own spice rubs. These are especially great for steaks, but you could easily use these on chicken and pork as well. For steaks, I like to take a tablespoon of rosemary and a tablespoon of salt and grind it all together with a mortar and pestle. Using a mortar and pestle isn’t a necessity of course, but it’s a great way to break open the spices and get all the flavor. But of course you could just mix the spice and salt together without grinding and apply it to the meat. You could use this same method to make a chili-spiced rub for chicken or even a Chinese Five Spice mix on pork. No need to buy fancy spice rubs when you can easily make your own. Just experiment with what you have and with what sounds good to you.

UPDATE: Someone asked me to breakout the recipes so here you go.

Easy Marinade Recipes

Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar (Best with salmon)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

— Place all the ingredients above in a plastic container or bag along with the salmon (or whatever you are using). Leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Oregano 

1/2 cup olive oil (doesn’t need to be extra virgin)
Juice from half a lemon (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper

— Place all the ingredients above in a plastic container or bag along with the protein. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, more if you have the time.

Pesto
1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 glove of garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
Handful of walnuts or pine nuts if desired

— Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Consistency should be somewhat of a paste, but the key is for it not to be too liquidy. Coat protein in pesto and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.