Tuesday Reviews-Day: Breakfast

Tuesday Revews-Day

We’re big fans of breakfast around here, though we seldom eat it at the “traditional” breakfast time. During the week it’s all about the race to get out the door and to the office, and on the weekends I’m more for sleeping in than getting up early to eat.

So super-informal brunch happens a lot, as does brinner (breakfast for dinner). We do that at least once a week, so when I told Todd we’d be having a lot more breakfasts his response was “oh, twist my arm.”

Why the uptick in egg-laden meals? Because I received a copy of Breakfast: the Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day for review. And if you’ve read this blog long enough, you know I feel duty-bound to make several recipes from a cookbook before offering up any sort of review.

I opened the book with a pad of sticky-notes in hand, expecting to flip through the book and pick out the promising menu items and move on quickly to creating my grocery list but found myself, quite a while later, barely having scratched the surface.

Some cookbook fans love to read a new cookbook like a novel. Others wonder how that’s even possible. With Breakfast, it’s more like reading a collection of essays. Created by the editors of Extra Crispy, Breakfast is easily half information and half recipes. There are infographics, history lessons, personal anecdotes, and comparison guides galore. And lots of eye-catching, slightly retro-feeling photography, too.

But the recipes, how are they? We sampled six of them, ranging from the more traditional to the how-does-this-classify-as-breakfast, and the overall feeling is they were all tasty, indeed. I did have some issues (like the recipe that serves 4, shows an egg on top of each serving, but only calls for 1-2 eggs… Oooookay) or lacking salt and pepper in other recipes, but the key pieces are there and you can generally infer the rest.

The luxurious Ham & Cheese Dutch Baby…

I was first introduced to the Dutch Baby shortly after graduating high school. Sense then I’ve made them many times, but never–for whatever reason–did it occur to make them savory, topped with black forest ham and cheese. That was unfortunate because the Ham & Cheese Dutch Baby was amazing. Even without the savory topping, the density of the custard (in part because my pan was a bit smaller than called for) was heavenly, and the leftovers reheated beautifully for lunch.

Next up was the Squash and Spam Hash. I had never had Spam before, but figured this was as good a time as any to rectify that issue. While it won’t be making my regular rotation, combining it with yellow squash, zucchini, and corn was not a bad introduction to the spiced ham in a can.

This next one got a bit of a brow-raise from Todd, but I had to try it! Ramen Carbonara–billed as a hangover cure to end all hangover cures–was quite tasty. It does not call for those sodium-packed seasoning packets, so fear not on that score, and I had some gluten-free ramen noodles in the pantry which worked just fine. I’m a big fan of carbonara in general, so adding a little more egg was not a hard sell for me.

The Mojito Pancakes might have been one of the more involved recipes I made from Breakfast, but only because it included making a flavored butter and doctoring the syrup in addition to make this actual pancakes.

But the effort was worth it! These pancakes were so amazing and the lime and rum-spiked syrup was just a thing of beauty in and of itself. This was probably my favorite of what we’ve sampled so far.

Next up was the Texas Red Chili and Eggs. I’m all for a no-bean chili (which is why this recipe appealed to me to begin with) but–and I never thought I’d hear myself say this–I missed the tomatoes. The meat was great, the chili blend on point (though why we soaked the anchos but not the guajillos I’m still fuzzy on), but I think I would have liked this just as much with the meat shredded and on a bun rather than in a bowl topped with an egg.

Finally we have the Instant Pot Burrito. As with many Instant Pot recipes, it’s more the novelty that you can make it in there than the pressure cooking really adds to the recipe in any way. Sure, it was nice that I could leave it to cook while I went and hung up laundry, but it wasn’t necessary, either. They were good burritos, though!

Thus we close the book on Breakfast… for now. I still have several other recipes marked to try at some point in the future. This book makes a great gift for a brunch-loving foodie that won’t be relegated to the shelf. It’ll be perfectly at home on the coffee table, the breakfast table, or the reading nook and could spark quite a few lively discussions around the table or elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Breakfast in exchange for an honest review. All opinions (and errors) are mine and mine alone. Affiliate links have been used in this post, should you choose to support the book and this blog at the same time.

Tasting Thomasville: Andy’s and Q Cafe


If it seems like I’m dragging these tastings out, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. While we were deciding where to go for dinner last Friday night, I grabbed the phone book and the restaurant listings only take up a single page! Most of the places we’ve yet to try aren’t open for dinner, so I guess we’ll have to concentrate our efforts on weekend lunches in the future.

But that’s for later. Right now we’re winding the gustatory clock back to the end of November.


Small town radio is a wonderful thing. Morning after morning I kept hearing an ad for Andy’s and I was intrigued. Todd had never heard of the place, but they advertised having wings and that was something we hadn’t found a local source for, so I wanted to try them out.

The Friday night before Thanksgiving, after unloading and unpacking the large boxes of my grandmother’s china and silver my aunt had shipped down from New Jersey (early inheritance), we headed down Madison and, just over the overpass, was Andy’s–some place we probably wouldn’t have stumbled on, on our own, since it was outside of our usual routes. We almost didn’t make it in time to order as, even on a Friday night, they were closing at 9pm (as do many places here, we’ve found). It was nearly deserted inside, but looked clean and well-maintained, so we placed our order to-go.

Andy's Wings

Andy’s Wings

Their menu (which you can download from their Facebook page) reminds me of a Dairy Queen–ice cream, novelties, and fast food. This is not a bad thing, mind you, just an observation and a change from what I was expecting based on the one ad I’d heard (I was thinking more like a Wing Zone or Wing Stop).

Their garlic parmesan wings weren’t the best we’ve ever had, but they were certainly tasty and we’d definitely go back. I want to say the other flavor was BBQ, but looking at their current options it might have been teriyaki. The fries and onion rings were basic, reliable sides. Good for a “brown foods” night, as we like to call these sorts of noshes.

Q Cafe

The next day was jam-packed. I was co-hosting a baby shower that afternoon and tried to squeeze in a site visit to a piece of commercial property that was available on the edge of downtown. The building was in rough shape but at the moment we were considering taking it on (spoiler: we didn’t). After meeting with the realtor and taking pictures of the building, I was ready to head back home and finish getting ready for the party but Todd proposed we try out another downtown spot–who was I to turn down brunch?!

Q Cafe--the view from the entryway.

Q Cafe–the view from the entryway.

The Q Cafe is one of the spots we’d often pass on our walks downtown, but always when it was closed. It’s open for breakfast and lunch only, so this Saturday morning seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try. It was doing pretty swift business this morning, but we didn’t have to wait too long for a table to open up (there’s a line of tables just to the right in the picture above).

Q Cafe--Little Bit of Chicken Fried loaded potato skillet

Q Cafe–Little Bit of Chicken Fried loaded potato skillet

We both ordered from their Loaded Potato Skillet selections, Todd getting the “Little Bit of Chicken Fried” while I went with the “Big Boy” (sans onions). Mine was perfectly tasty but, oh, y’all, Todd’s was amazing. I had a little bite of the chicken on top of his and it was better than a certain “Christian Chicken” chain we all know and love. Seriously, it was so good. That same chicken is available on biscuits if that’s more your speed.

Q Cafe--Big Boy loaded potato skillet

Q Cafe–Big Boy loaded potato skillet

Since we had things to do with the rest of our day we didn’t linger too long downtown. But I wouldn’t hesitate to bring friends to the Q Cafe for breakfast, brunch, or lunch.

Looks like the next Tasting will be another out-of-town one, judging by the pictures in the queue. We also spent a lot of time going back to favorites (Moonspin, George & Louie’s, and Fallin’s) before trying a few more new-to-us spots.


Daring Bakers: Beautiful Breads


Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?

Fluted Cinnamon Twist

Fluted Cinnamon Twist

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but thank goodness our taste buds are blind as my “beautiful bread” wasn’t quite sure of its designation.

This month we were given the option of a couple different breads to choose from, mainly focusing on the technique of cutting and folding the sheets of dough layered with sweet (or savory) fillings to make pretty platefuls. Of course I substituted a gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose the recipe called for, curious to see how this recipe would fare compared to yeast doughs I’ve tried so far.

The basic assembly went surprisingly well....

The basic assembly went surprisingly well….

I was quite surprised at how malleable the risen dough was, as each quarter easily rolled out on a sheet of wax paper into a circle about an eighth of an inch thick. They also released from their respective sheets fairly well after each was buttered, sugared, and cinnamoned, and I thought I was doing so well, even to neatening up their edges a bit before proceeding.

It was just the twisting technique that didn't go quite as planned. More trials will be needed (aw, shucks!)

It was just the twisting technique that didn’t go quite as planned. More trials will be needed (aw, shucks!)

That’s when things got a little dicey. I’m not sure if I used too much cinnamon-sugar, separating the layers too much, or if the dough was still not malleable enough (even with the help of the xanthum gum), but my layers wanted to break rather than tuck and roll, so I sorta kluged it together the best I could, exposing the folds as was the point and giving them a milk bath before placing it into a very hot oven.

The layers do add quite a bit of visual interest, though.

The layers do add quite a bit of visual interest, though.

After 20 minutes and two different temperatures, the cinnamon bread came out of the oven golden brown, but not so much magically transformed–I suppose it’s not my turn for a miracle this month! A drizzle of a coconut oil-based icing (the suggested sweetened condensed milk is a lactose-bomb) and we were ready for the final test: the taste?

Breakfast or dessert, your choice!

Breakfast or dessert, your choice!

It tasted delicious! I went for the optional cardamom in the dough and it pairs nicely with the cinnamon filling. Even though the more demanding fold didn’t work this time (oh, I will prevail, eventually), I think this dough worked well enough that it might be this year’s King Cake dough for Fat Tuesday. Paired with a steaming mug of Earl Grey tea, this is not a bad way to start (or end!) a day.

Tuesday Reviews-Day | Cruzan Velvet Cinn



***This is a sponsored post. I was provided a sample of Cruzan Velvet Cinn for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own and no additional compensation has been received. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…***

And now for something completely different!

Yes, I’ve got another rum to review but, oh, dear friends, this isn’t just any rum, this is Cruzan’s Velvet Cinn, a rum horchata flavored with cinnamon. Horchata is a Mexican drink often made from rice or other grains, and milky in appearance and texture. This horchata uses dairy milk and their premium rum and evokes memories of rice rice puddings, cinnamon buns, and all manner of delectable treats.

In fact, while Cruzan was kind enough to send some recipes along with their newly-launched rum, I took it upon myself to go in a slightly different direction:

French Velvet Toast

2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Cruzan Velvet Cinn
1/8 tsp ground Cardamom
6-8 slices Bread
Coconut oil for the griddle

Whisk together eggs, horchata, and cardamom. Heat an electric skillet to 350 degrees F and brush with a bit of coconut oil (or butter, if you prefer). Dip the bread into the egg and rum mixture, making sure to coat both sides thoroughly, and place on the griddle. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden and lacey and any eggy bits are firm.

Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

French Velvet Toast

French Velvet Toast

While I’m certainly not against sipping Velvet Cinn neat or using it in cocktails–in fact, I know both of those options are definitely in our future–I though it would be fun to see if it’s amazing flavor would translate on the plate as well as the palate. Because Velvet Cinn contains milk, replacing the milk in the standard French Toast recipe was a no-brainer, and I’m really starting to crave some rice pudding now.

In case you would prefer a cocktail over breakfast foods, try out these recipes courtesy of Jesse Card, Cruzan’s Master Mixologist.

Cruzan® Cinnful Cherry

3/4 parts Cruzan Velvet Cinn Horchata with Rum
1/2 parts Cruzan Black Cherry Rum

Method: Combine all over ice, stir, pour into shot glass.

Cruzan® Cinnful Martini

1 1/2 parts Cruzan Velvet Cinn Horchata with Rum
1 parts Cruzan Aged Dark Rum
1/2 parts DeKuyper® Blood Orange Liqueur
Float DeKuyper® Hot Damn!® Liqueur
Flamed Orange zest

Method: Combine Cruzan Velvet Cinn, Cruzan Aged Dark Rum & Blood Orange Liqueur in a tumbler over ice & stir for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Float a small amount of DeKuyper® Hot Damn!® Liqueur on top & finish with a flamed orange zest.


Our Tasty Brunch Tasting!

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Going into this wedding planning adventure, we knew that food was pretty high up there on the priorities list. Perhaps even the most important. So it might surprise you to know that we had never tried our venues food before our tasting last night.

And yes, I was a smidgen apprehensive over that point.

But Honey Lake Plantation fit everything else we needed so we took a leap of faith and signed the contract, hoping that our faith would be rewarded.

As of last night, I say we’re golden.

When we arrived we were shown to our table in the Gathering Hall’s main room with two places set and a printed menu in a clear stand so we could follow along. Of course, since we were so familiar with the menu already (having created it ourselves), we didn’t really need it but it’s nice to know they do that for their tastings.

Our menu for the evening (all photos personal)

Our menu for the evening (all photos personal)

During the tasting we would also be having our second planning meeting, so our DoC was present to chat with between courses (which gave us the opportunity to update her on things like the napkin change and verify some details we’d previously left vague). As soon as Chef Bill came out, though, it was his show.

the wonderfully accommodating Chef Bill

the wonderfully accommodating Chef Bill

Our first course was the soup and I was so glad to see it was a small portion. I was a little nervous we’d be serving ridonculous portion sizes and definitely didn’t want that, and a soup bowl or plate would have just been too much of a good thing.

Just the perfect amount of rich, creamy soup to start off brunch!

Just the perfect amount of rich, creamy soup to start off brunch!

The first try of the soup—a blend of butternut squash and sweet potatoes with coconut milk, cinnamon, sea salt, and pepper—was nice and velvety smooth, but missing something. We talked it over, I suggested adding cumin, and Chef Bill went and doctored up another two bowls for us with cumin, coriander, and Chinese 5-spice powder. It was perfect, and it turns out it was his preferred method of preparing that soup, he just didn’t know how comfortable we were with spices. To which I say: flavors, we wants them!

This quiche was possibly the best I've tasted. The smoked Gouda really makes a difference!

This quiche was possibly the best I’ve tasted. The smoked Gouda really makes a difference!

Moving on to the second course, the crust-less quiche featured both ham and apple wood-smoked bacon and a hearty amount of smoked Gouda. It, too, was very smooth and rich, so the accompanying salad of mixed greens with fruit and berry vinaigrette was the perfect foil to all the richness. The salad was also topped with some toasted sunflower seeds, something I’d suggested instead of nuts just to avoid other people’s potential allergies while still adding another layer of texture to the meal.

Oh, and did I mention that Honey Lake has their own chickens? These are super-fresh eggs Chef Bill gets to work with!

Country-fried steak, Tomato and Squash Terrine, and Biscuits with Gravy (it's the eggs in the gf biscuits that make them so golden yellow)

Country-fried steak, Tomato and Squash Terrine, and Biscuits with Gravy (it’s the eggs in the gf biscuits that make them so golden yellow)

Finally it was time for the third course—Chef Bill’s challenge: wheat free, lactose-free, onion & garlic free country-fried steak, biscuits and gravy. I think he met the challenge well! The steak was dredged in a mixture of arrowroot and rice flour, then pan-fried in bacon fat. No, it doesn’t have the characteristic coating we’re used to, but that actually worked in it’s favor since I think (I didn’t ask at the time) he used something other than the traditional cube steak, so the quality of the meat was highlighted instead of masked by breading.

For our tasting we both had the gluten-free biscuits (made from GF Bisquick per the package recipe—might sound chintzy, but it’s the best option I’ve found so far, especially when you only need to make a couple at a time) but at the wedding the guests will have traditional buttermilk biscuits and only I’ll have the gf ones. The gravy was Andouille-sausage gravy made with a safe-for-RT-tummies stock instead of cream (velouté vs. béchamel, for the foodies of the Hive), though again, guests will have the regular. According to both Mr. Road Trip and Chef Bill, they actually taste about the same; it’s just that one looks a little different.

Since those dishes alone would have made for a very beige plate, Chef Bill suggested and I accepted a terrine of tomatoes and squash topped with a bit of cheese. You also see bacon on top—I mentioned that our goal was to have bacon as many places as possible and he definitely took that to heart!

In fact, the only item we didn’t get a chance to try—the most popular if the comments on the last post are anything to go by—was the bacon-wrapped breadstick. We’re still working on that one but I did bring him a pizza dough recipe I thought might work so we’ll see if he’s able to experiment. Most guests will receive a conventional breadstick wrapped in bacon (I’m envisioning barber pole-style, but we’ll have to wait and see) and I’ve opted to skip that if he cannot find something that meets his standards and is safe for me, too.

Because while he wants to do the best he can to please me and my palate, he also wants to make sure our guests walk away with a good impression of Honey Lake, and it does take some time to adjust to certain food substitutions, especially the non-wheat variety. And as a fellow chef I can totally get behind that.

We Road Trips trundled on home with full bellies and quite a lot to look forward to for our reception.

What was your menu tasting experience like?