Thursday, August 28, 2014

Recipe: Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

Two of my favorite people welcomed their first child almost a month ago, so many of our friends have taken turns bringing over dinner to the new parents to help ease them into craziness of what I can only imagine parenthood to be.

It was my turn on Tuesday, so I cruised their Pinterest accounts a few weeks before to plan and found this gem: Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

I'm pleased to say it was a hit. The feedback was, and I quote, "It was freaking wonderful, even good for breakfast."

Now, this is obviously not vegetarian approved, but I'm regularly surrounded by carnivores, so I made this one in hopes it could become a staple go to recipe. Winner, winner - literally a chicken dinner!

A few things to note:

  • At its highest temp, my oven didn't get to 500 degrees - so the potatoes cooked between 400 and 450 and still turned out just fine.
  • This took almost an hour and a half to prep and bake, so it's not a quick evening dinner. Plan ahead.
  • The grocery bill for all ingredients (sans salt, pepper, EVOO, paprika, garlic powder, and hot sauce -- had all those on hand) was just over $20.

The recipe linked above made a full baking dish and a small side baking dish worth of food, so Johnnie Bud gets to try it as well tonight when he returns from business as usual in Charlotte. (He's pretty excited to come home to bacon... it's not often that happens in our house!)

If you have the ability to serve it hot, this will make a great fall tailgate dish that's sure to please. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Date Night: Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre

Gather around to hear the story of a time and place where people went to "drive-in" movie theaters rather than megaplexes to see a movie on the big screen...

See all the pictures here!

On Saturday night, Johnnie Bud and I made the hour+ drive from just south of Downtown Raleigh to Henderson, NC (44.8 miles to be exact) to check out Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre, one of the only six remaining drive in movie theatres left in the United States. The rain from earlier in the day had moved out of the area for the most part (ran into one small shower on the way to the theatre), but the movies are shown rain or shine and both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy were playing, so we figured no better night to go!

Not considering the investment of the drive itself, this place is a great value. They are open almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night between March and December and all evenings are double feature movies for one price per person attending, rather than per vehicle - which was totally fine by just the two of us. The two tickets we purchased online before leaving home were only $16.70 total - that's only $8.35 per person to see two new movies! The concessions sold on site are also incredibly value priced, probably 1/4 to 1/3 of the cost of a large Raleigh-area movie theater complex. You definitely cannot get a small popcorn and soda at a modern movie theater for less than $5.00!

The incredible deals on the movies and concessions does leave the facility itself with much to be desired. The concession trailer, food pick-up area and restrooms (only one restroom for each gender) were incredibly dated and don't seem to have been well-maintained in recent years. The movie screen itself and sound quality were great, however. The sound is played via 90.3 FM in your car, or you can roll your windows down and listen to the sound played via various speakers located all over the property. Which brings me to one our only chief complaint of the evening... the people parked on both sides of us had really lost all good movie-going sense.

The family to our left chose to bring a young baby who cried and made noise the entire time. No exaggerating here - this happened even through the 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. second movie! Not only did they not walk away from the viewing area with the crying child, but they also stayed through the late show. We finally had to roll up our windows and listen to the audio during the second show through our car's radio, which was less than ideal because Johnnie Bud had to crank the car every 10 minutes when the accessory status automatically turned itself off. The family to our right chose to smoke and were offended when other patrons came over and asked them to stop because their smoke was blowing in other vehicles. (In their defense, the offended other vehicles did not politely make their request. So everyone was just rude. Welcome to Henderson, I guess!) Their children also talked through the entirety of both films.

So at the end of the day, the only real downside to this date night were some crummy other attendees, but all in all, we thought the movie-watching experience was very cool and we'll definitely be back when there are more movies being shown that we want to see at a great price from a neat vantage point.

Visit the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre website for weekly updates about what's being shown during the upcoming weekend and enjoy your trip just outside of town!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Brunch at Tazza Kitchen: No Syrup Needed

Johnnie Bud and I have been big fans of Tazza Kitchen since it opened in Cameron Village earlier this year. They've got a great cocktail menu and and a foodie menu made for sharing each other's plates, so of course we were excited to hear they were adding Sunday brunch to their tasty lineup.

We called ahead around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday and were thrilled to hear there was no wait to seat two, so we drove over to Cameron Village, sat at the bar, and quickly ordered a Sunday afternoon staple - mimosas, please! (Very happy to report that they used fresh squeezed orange juice and a very generous pour of prosecco at $6. Next time, we'll go for the $12 1/2 liter carafe option.)

The brunch menu wasn't super vegetarian-friendly, but still super appealing nonetheless.

  • Johnnie Bud ordered the French Toast: house-made brioche, cashew praline butter, blueberry vincotto sauce, basil, whipped mascarpone - $9.5
  • I chose the Broccoli Rabe & Smoke Mozzarella Sandwich: oven roasted tomatoes, smokey tomato mayo - $9.5

Neither disappointed, but Johnnie's choice was clearly the brunch champ this go around. The blueberries and praline butter made a great sweetener - no syrup required!

My sandwich was a good choice with the mayo on the side, but would have been a better breakfast item with a fried egg or egg over medium/well added in between the ciabatta slices.

We got plate envy watching the Huevos Rancheros (corn tostadas, chorizo, sofritto, baked eggs*, salsa verde, pico de gallo, crema, cranberry beans, hash browns - $10.5) and Breakfast Pizza (b├ęchamel, bacon, mozzarella, grana padano, baked local eggs - $13) being delivered to nearby tables, so you can bet we'll be back in the coming weekends to try those options A.S.A.P.