20 December 2006

Sidetrack Bar & Grill, Ypsilanti, MI

Last week I heard about this place from one of my classmates. She said we had to try the fried pickles and sweet potato fries, and that the burgers were award-winning. We dropped by for beer and dinner on Monday night when a couple friends were in town.

First, the burgers. I don't really get what makes a burger award-winning. The burger was good, but... I don't know. Well, one cool thing was that they bring this bucket of condiments to your table, including a jar of pepperoncinis. Those are too hot for me but a few folks at the table loved 'em. And I can still appreciate free garnishes.

The pickles were fabulous. The first time I had fried pickles was at a diner in like... Iowa or Illinois or Wisconsin or something. I don't know, we were on a roadtrip from Chicago to Waterloo, IA. Why, you ask? That's another story--unrelated to food. The pickles, however, were fabulous. The only other placed I've had them is at Dave & Buster's, where they're served in slices, also good. Anyway, the ones at Sidetracks were spears and of course they were great. How can fried pickles be bad?

The sweet potato fries were also great. They were served with this horseradish/mayo/and maybe something else sauce. Yum...

There were animal heads mounted on the wall but they were pretty goofy, like bears and moose. Not being outdoorsy types, we couldn't figure out if they were real, but if so, moose are frickin humongous.

Anyway, I'm sure we'll head back to Sidetracks sometime in the future. It's a fun place, with a good selection of beer. And some of them are served in 25 oz. (aka huge ass) mugs.

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17 December 2006

30 Minute Shepherd's Pie via Rachael Ray

This recipe has been in my file for like a year. It looked kinda labor-intensive--I generally like recipes where you do the whole thing in one pot. I decided to do it now though since school's out.

It wasn't bad, though I did dirty a lot of dishes. It was my first time making mashed potatoes, my first time making shepherd's pie, maybe even my first time eating shepherd's pie. I don't think I even heard of shepherd's pie until high school or college, but it sounded good!

I used chicken broth rather than cream in the potatoes, but I think I would try it with cream next time. Cooking with cream is just foreign to me. Cooking with butter is even kind of new for me. I think I was a vegetarian when I first started cooking.

I couldn't find sweet paprika, so just used regular, but I think that's just for looks anyway.

We also threw some parmesan on top since the mashed potatoes were a little bland.

I would also put the onions in earlier than it says because I ended up overcooking the meat while waiting for the onions to cook.

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15 December 2006

My Mom's Chili

My husband and I don't fight often, but two things that have been major issues in our relationship are shopping and chili. I crave my mom's chili. I don't know where she got the recipe from--probably some Local cookbook, which would explain why the instructions say to eat it with rice.

This is one of the first things I had to learn how to make when I moved out. But my husband thinks it's too sweet! His mom says "Orientals" like our chili like that. *sigh*

Their chili though--feh! It's just hamburger, tomato sauce and chili powder!

My mom's recipe is so good. It's got three types of meat--bacon and Portuguese sausage, in addition to hamburger. If you don't have access to Portuguese sausage, I find that kielbasa or other smoked sausage works well. Don't use Eckrich's though. I don't know what is up with that brand but it's nasty.

And yeah, the recipe's got brown sugar. You could try making it without and see what happens, but I'm not about to risk a pot of chili for that. (I do use honey though, since I never have brown sugar in the house.)

One ingredient I think is weird is curry powder. I don't know why it's there, but I'm also not about to risk a pot of chili to see what happens if it's left out.

Now you mainland folks might think it's weird to eat chili over rice. *shrug* I guess we need something to prevent three-meat overload.

Mom's Chili
1 lb. hamburger
4 pcs bacon, chopped
1/2 ring Portuguese sausage
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 rnd onion, chopped
1 can kidney beans
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 T chili powder
2 T brown sugar
1 t curry powder
dash of salt

Fry hamburger, bacon, sausage, garlic and onion.
Add kidney beans, tomato soup, chili powder, brown sugar, curry powder and salt.
Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot rice.

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