Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dining in L5P & Surrounding Areas - Part 2

An old pledge sister of mine  (LIOB) came to town this week for a work conference. I was lucky enough to see her and spend some time catching up. She graciously invited me to dinner with her boss and asked for suggestions on Atlanta's best cuisine. After inundating her with a ridiculous amount of restaurants, she decided upon Rathbun's. Yes, I've been once before, but I was on a budget. This time, I decided I owed it to myself to enjoy the evening, the company and the food. Which I did.


This upscale well-known Atlanta restaurant is one of the Atlanta "must-trys." Not to be confused with the prime steak house, this restaurant is more modern American cuisine. Brittany's boss and I decided to split a half bottle of cab that our waiter was raving about. At $50/half bottle - it better be good. It was excellent. Faust Cab: 2008 Napa. Yes, we ordered another as the meal progressed.

We each started with salads. I ordered the Greek Wedge. Toasted oregano vinaigrette, shaved onion, black olives, roasted red peppers, crumbled feta and diced cucumbers. Awesome.

Following my salad, I decided to order the rosemary basted flat iron steak with Corona beans, arugula & lemon oil. It definitely lived up to my hopes. Medium rare juicy goodness.

Brittany ordered my second choice, Sea Scallop Benedict on country ham grits with asparagus & spiced hollandaise. There was a lot of pepper, but aside from that, the dish was delicious.

We were now ready to wind down at the bar with an after-dinner cocktail. I ordered a Dark & Stormy with their house-made ginger beer. Pretty potent, but good stuff and a nice way to settle the stomach after a large meal. Overall, Rathbun's gets an A- in my book!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dining in L5P & Surrounding Areas - Part 1

As of last weekend, the move-in became official. The dreaded unpacking is now complete and the paintings have been hung. I am now a resident of L5P/E Atlanta/Old Fourth Ward/Edgewood/Inman Park/etc. (the exact area in which we live is up for debate) The point is, we have a ridiculous amount of new dining adventures in our future! The sheer amount of new restaurants, pubs and dives begging for our patronage is almost overwhelming. But no culinary task is too large for this lover of food. So, let the culinary adventure begin. Expect many counts of disappointment, disbelief, elation and blissful contentment to come. Here are three to water your taste buds. Enjoy and check back for more updates soon.


1. The Vortex - L5P

This iconic Atlanta restaurant landmark is one of the South's most talked-about burger joint. My expectations weren't that high as I typically end up disappointed after dining at restaurants that are over-hyped. This was not the case. The sheer amount of toppings, fixins, styles and sides were enough to blow my mind. Add to that a skull and cross-bones decorated interior with a quirky, tattooed staff and comical menu - I was in heaven before an ounce of food even graced my lips.

Sure, there are a number (20+) of signature burgers, but I consider myself a purist. I decided to build my own with standard ingredients that would bring out the true taste of the meat. Onto that half pound slab of sirloin, I added Swiss, red onion, pickle, lettuce and mustard - all piled between a sesame seed-egg bun. While I waited on my meaty pile of goodness, I tried the fried zucchini. Which is a meal in and of itself. Perfectly fried, hot and delicious. Quickly thereafter, my burger came. It was perfect. Not over the top, but big enough that I almost couldn't finish. Add a huge helping of fries and pickle spear to accompany the meal and you get one happy, satisfied and sleepy Shelly.

2. Ru Sans - L5P

Ru Sans has a number of locations throughout Atlanta. We decided to walk to the one in the Edgewood shopping center, a hop, skip and jump from our front door. In conversation with Atlanta locals, the words "cheap," "fast," and "sake bombs" usually accompany any mention of Ru Sans, regardless of location. So, we decided to give it a shot. Cheap is right. You can get small sushi rolls for a dollar. Nigiri and vegetable tempura are also equally priced. The menu is a total cluster - they are in serious need of a re-vamp, but once you claw your way through the pages of Japanese inspired fare, you are bound to find something that tickles your pickle.

Take my advice on the Fire Cracker Make (pictured below). Don't forget to stuff your face with a load of nigiri and $1 rolls and tempura as well. Wash it all down with a famous sake bomb - complete with a cheer from your waiter and various restaurant customers to encourage your antics.

3. Noni's - Old 4th Ward

Good old Noni's. I had been wanting to go here for quite some time. I've heard infamous stories of Noni's late night dance throw-downs, incredible food and eclectic drinks. I wanted to experience it all. I have yet to pull a late-nighter there, but was able to have dinner and drinks there one evening. We started with the  meat & cheese tasting platter. By far - the best part of the meal. I still dream about this platter of salty meats, creamy cheeses and apple sauce...

For our entrees, Dustin ordered the famous Muffuletta with a serious mound of Noni's fries (a glorified version of parmesan garlic goodness). I built my own pasta with grilled chicken, mushrooms, bowties and a ridiculous pancetta cream sauce. So filling, so rich, so salty, so... sleepy. We washed everything down with a great bottle of wine and went to bed. Thank you Noni for your inspiration! Next time, I'll wear my danicin' shoes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grilled Portobello Goat Cheese Burgers & The Square Pub

When you find out that a restaurant down the street is offering "FREE Green Chili Cheese Tots," you will probably do just about anything in your power to get there as quickly as humanly possible. Which is exactly what Dustin and I did. Thank you ScoutMob for your yummy app. We discovered a little Decatur restaurant called The Square Pub. How were the tots, you ask? They were as good as they sound. Yes, you should go immediately! Make sure to wash them down with one of their many brews or a tasty dark & stormy. In addition to the gloriously cheesy, delicious tots, we each had killer entrees. I had green chili chicken enchiladas and he ordered the portobello mushroom burger. He raved about it all night! Thus the inspiration for my newest recipe addition.



3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 cup olive oil
Kosher salt
Cracked pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 large portobello mushroom caps, wiped of any dirt, washed and quickly dried
Crumbled goat cheese (enough to top 3 mushrooms)
Handful arugula
Sliced red onion
Roasted red pepper
3 English muffins

Preheat the grill or grill pan. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, toss the garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and dash of salt. Wrap the garlic cloves in aluminum foil and place in center rack of the oven. Roast 20 to 25 minutes.
Once garlic is done and cool, in a pan, whisk together the balsamic with the 3/4 cup olive oil,  & dijon. Squeeze the garlic pulp out from their skins and whisk it vigorously into the dressing. Place mushroom caps in pan and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate until the grill is hot. Once ready, place caps, stem side up, on the hottest part of the grill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes on each side. When they have about a minute left, add the goat cheese to the stem side. Also add the English muffins to the grill to toast. Let cook for one minute and remove from grill. Assemble burger by stacking the mushroom, arugula, red onion and roasted red pepper atop the bottom piece of muffin. Place top and enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Banana Whoopie Pies

Watch out world - I baked!

Although highly unsuccessful in prior endeavors, I decided to be the world's most thoughtful girlfriend this Valentine's Day and try my hand at a dessert I knew my boyfriend loved. I searched for recipes that were simple, yet authentic, and found the following. To my dismay - it worked! Needless to say, I think he was impressed and a little surprised, which is all I could ask for :) Hope you enjoy these as much as we did. Check out the tips for some helpful hints.



Ingredients for the Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups (3 medium to large) mashed bananas
    2 large eggs
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients for the Filling

1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk as needed

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
Cookies: In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugars, and salt until light & fluffy. Add the vanilla, and the bananas. Beat in both eggs, one at a time.  Whisk together the flour and baking soda; add to the banana mixture, mixing until evenly combined. Scoop the dough by the quarter cup for large cookies, and by the tablespoon for small cookies. Allow plenty of space between them.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly touched with your finger, and the edges are a very light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on parchment paper for 10 minutes before transferring the cookies to a rack to finish cooling completely before filling.
FillingBeat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add just enough milk to make the mixture a spreadable consistency, if needed.
Assemble: Go through each cookie and match them up into pairs that are sized most alike.  Spread (or pipe) the bottom of one of the cookies per pair with 2 tablespoons of the filling.  Place cookies in refrigerator until filling has set (about 20 to 30 minutes).  Place the other cookie from the pair on top of the filling, bottom side down. 
TIPS - After enjoying, we both discussed making smaller cookies for the next batch, bite-sized if you will. The cookie is very decadent, so a smaller portion may be better in this ircumstance. Additionally, consider adding a handful of chopped walnuts to the filling for a delicious crunch!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pasta Fagioli

It's pouring and cold outside. You're hungry, but don't have much in the kitchen. You want something warm and filling, but don't want to make a trip outside. Try this recipe! I reviewed quite a few recipes before coming up with my own take. No meat. Substitute veggie broth for chicken broth and you have one heck of a vegetarian meal. This is one of my new absolute favorite soups. Thick, hearty and full of fiber. Perfect for a cold day! This is one of my own, so feel free to experiment and enjoy.




  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1 medium spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 medium-large cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • Dash salt and pepper
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 regular sized can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 qt chicken stock (or vegetable)
  • 1/2 qt water
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 3/4 cup ditalini pasta


In a large, heavy pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add celery, carrots & onion. Cook 5 minutes or until veggies are transulcent. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.
Stir in the seasoning, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. Stir cooking for 5 minutes.
Add the stock, water and bay leaf . Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add beans, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Bring heat back up to medium and add pasta. Cook for 15 minutes longer then reduce heat to low once more, cooking 30 minutes longer.

TIPS - Some recipes call for bacon or pancetta. If you want to add protein, brown in olive oil first, then proceed to recipe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce

After a crazy weekend with lots of driving (Nashville for Melissa Howell's bachelorette party, then on to Birmingham for Caroline's baby shower), it would be an understatement to say I was "tired" this past Sunday night when I arrived at my parents house. The last thing on my mind was cooking or even thinking about what to eat for dinner. Lucky for me - my mother took very good care of me. She and my dad saw the following recipe being created by Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network Channel. After the inspiration - my mom logged into  and downloaded the recipe.

It was phenomenal! I could have eaten the sauce alone. Fresh, healthy and delish. You could substitute chicken or even fish with this sauce - make it your own, but make it often. Highly recommend! I served alongside thin french beans and homemade pinto beans. Enjoy!



  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 boneless (2-inch-thick) pork chops (about 2 pounds total)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning meat
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
  • 2 fennel bulbs with fronds, thinly sliced (about 8 ounces or 2 cups)
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/3 cup
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons capers


In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 cup parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the pork back into the pan, nestling the chops between the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Place the pork on a serving dish. To finish the sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley,capers, and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately.

TIPS - Add chicken stock to create more "broth."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Foods for Your Heart

We all know what foods are bad for us and our hearts - but instead of finding foods to avoid, have you ever stopped to find foods that are actually good for your heart? This link provides a variety of foods that keep your ticker going, and going well. Consider these options next time you plan a meal or have to decide on an afternoon snack. With choices like avocado, salmon, olive oil and even berries - heart healthy foods are no longer difficult to find.

Best Foods For Your Heart