Tuna and Chickpea Pasta Salad

Leftover elbow noodles can lead to a great pasta salad.  Just check your pantry and fridge.

  • Cooked elbow noodles
  • Can of your favorite tuna fish, drained
  • Can of chickpeas, rinsed
  • Celery, diced
  • Onions, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Lime juice
  • Fresh dill
  • Salt & pepper

Everything is to taste and your preference.  There really is no right or wrong.  I had about 1-2 Tablespoons left of an Italian dressing so I added that too.  Serve with a green salad for a nice summer time entrée.

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Grilled Pork Loin Roast

When the weather is hot outside the last thing you want to do is heat up your house with the oven on.  Today we are going to take that pork loin roast and grill it whole.

First thing first…you need to season your roast.  Overnight is best but it will still taste good even with only a few hours.

Rub:

Dijon mustard:  2 tablespoons

Olive oil:  1 cup

Lime juice:   1 Tablespoon

Salt and Pepper:  1 teaspoon each

Fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano:  1/4 Cup of each

Minced garlic:  2 Tablespoons

Mix all together and rub all over your roast.  Cover and put in the fridge overnight or how ever long you have.  Take out of fridge about 40 minutes before grilling.

Heat grill to medium- high.  Turn off half of the grill and keep the other side on about medium. Place the roast on the side of the grill that is off.  You are using indirect heat.  I could have put the roast directly on the grill but I placed it on foil and that side.

Close the cover and let it cook for about 1 1/2- 2 hours or until 145 degrees in the middle of the roast.  It is expected to be slightly pink.  Old school pork rules used to say no pink (160) but the rules of today say pink pork is ok.  If you are on the fence…when it gets to 145 degrees shut off the grill and leave the pork on it while you are getting everything ready to serve .  Another option is to take the pork off the grill and use the foil to wrap it around the pork.  It will continue to cook a little more but won’t get over cooked.

The pork will be so moist and flavorful.  Serve with a salad and your favorite veggie.

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FYI:  I don’t know why some areas showed up reddish in picture as nothing was red.  Guess I should have used the regular camera instead of the cellphone.

Mac’s Speedshop

A trip to Charlotte is not complete without a stop at Mac’s Speedshop for some BBQ.  I found this place when I lived in Charlotte for a short time.  Now whenever I am back for a visit I have to go.  I have been to the South End and the Lake Norman locations and both aim to please.  It is a fun atmosphere with many events and food to die for.  The carry a wide wide variety of beers both on top and in bottle.    Whenever I go I always have a new specialty beer to try.  This time it was Hobgoblin.

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We can never go with my daughter without ordering the tabasco fried pickles.  What is funny is I never had fried pickles that is so popular right now until I lived in Charlotte.  Their pickles are lightly battered rounds with a kick served with ranch.

On this trip I decided to try selections I haven’t had in the past.  I ordered the wings in smokin’ burn out.  The wings are smoked and not fried.  Some people do not enjoy smoked chicken because they can’t get over the pinkish color.  WELL get over it!!!  I try wings everywhere I go and these are not to be missed.  I even dare to say they may be the best I have ever had.  The smokin’ burn out started off not spicy and then slowly finished hot on the back of your tongue.  I thoroughly enjoyed them although others we looking for water.  At first they were YUM then after a few minutes hmmm what a kick!!

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My main selection was the Brisket Philly Wrap.  What can I say…the brisket was tender and flavorful and paired with peppers, onions, and cheese.  It was messy, juicy, and abundant in brisket.  I paired it with green bean casserole.

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My daughter had the pulled pork with mac and cheese and collard greens.  This classic combo is always a hit and sure to please.  The collard greens are cooked with bacon and touch of brown sugar.  Her friend had the brisket, which as you can see were large slabs on top of texas toast.   The tables all have 4 options of BBQ sauces (Vinegar based, Carolina BBQ, Red BBQ, and SC Mustard) so everyone in your party can find their favorite.  I usually end up using all of them because I cannot decide which one is best!

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With so many delicious options at Mac’s you can keep going back and try something new.  What is especially nice at most Charlotte restaurant’s with Mac’s being no different is the outside patio seating option.  I have never seen it not busy there and even the first time I went we saw a lot of police cars.  Well if the officers eat there you know it is good!!!

Pinky’s Westside Grill

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Whenever I travel I like to try local restaurants.  On a recent visit to Charlotte North Carolina, I stumbled upon Pinky’s Westside Grill.  Pinky’s is located on 1600 W Morehead St and you can’t miss it.  It is on the corner of Freedom Dr and Morehead St.  Parking is adventurous and you need to park around the side and walk.  I was actually lucky enough on got one of the spaces in front.  The menu offers salads, sandwiches, burgers, and various hot dogs.  I even saw a sandwich called the Tony Baloney which was a thick cut quarter pound slice of bologna.  I asked the server the most popular items and she said either the Mammoth burger or the Maddy’s patty melt.

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I decided to give the Patty melt a try.  All items are served ala carte so I also ordered the Cilantro-Honey Slaw. I wish I went with others so we could of tried more.  The slaw was a very large portion but was just OK. I don’t know if it was fresh and it had an odd taste.  I probably should of stuck with the southern slaw or fries.  That being said the Patty Melt was delish!!!  Presentation is very simple and is inline with the atmosphere and décor…The patty melt was juicy and tasty.

There is nothing fancy about Pinky’s.  It is very comfortable and has a great outside patio.  The cocktail list was extensive and I could see that this would be a great hangout with friends place.

This is only a partial menu as they also have your appetizers such as hush puppies, wings, crab puppies, or hummus.  They also have a selection of salads and vegetarian options.

I will definitely go back to try more options.

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My Favorite Wine: Amarone

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I don’t recall the first time I ever had an Amarone, but it is by far my favorite.

Amarone is from the Veneto region of Northern Italy and is considered as one of Italy’s best reds.  What I love is the sweet aroma followed by the intense full bodies flavor of cherries and plums with a smoky chocolate or coffee finish.  I have had different Amarones and some are more bold and full bodies than others but I thoroughly enjoy each and every one.

At an average price of $50-60 per bottle, many way wonder if it is worth the price tag.  I have to say I don’t always believe in high priced wines as I have found many great deals, but if you want to treat yourself or have an opportunity to try this incredible red, take advantage of it!

I have tried many different Amarones from $40-$100 and they have been worth the price.  Below are a couple I have had the chance to enjoy. The Alpha Zeta was lighter than other Amarones but still enjoyable.  Try with a steak, spicy tomato pasta dish, or another dish that can withstand the boldness of an amarone.  If drinking alone try with a piece of dark chocolate.

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Here is a great explanation I found on http://www.winefolly.com

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Chocolate Cocoa Toffee Cupcakes With Grand Marnier Orange Buttercream

Since I am not much of a baker and usually focus on savory I wanted to share this recipe with my readers. It looks simply divine. Check out her blog for other sweet treats!

Stephysweetbakes

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Certified Yummly Recipes on Yummly.com

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Hey guys!!   I want to first caution anyone not to make these for the kiddos, lol.   It’s packed with alcohol,…… Grand Marnier to be exact.   Not in the cake part, only the Buttercream.   You are good to go if you make a different Buttercream to go on the cupcake.   Any of my cake or cupcakes recipes you can check out for Buttercream recipes.

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The cake part is an awesome chocolate cake with Heath bits stirred in and sprinkled on top with mini semi sweet chips.   It also contains some coffee to enhance the cocoa flavor.   The sugar and butter are cooked instead of creaming to make the batter thicker, smoother, almost fudge like.   It’s packed with flavor.

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The Buttercream of course has Grand Marnier, alot, the most I’ve ever put in Buttercream lol,…… HEY, DON’T JUDGE!!   It’s not a sin to indulge every once in awhile lol.  

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Roasted Garlic

I can’t imagine anyone not liking garlic.  I use it in most of my dishes.  Raw garlic can be pungent but roasted it develops this mellower and almost sweet flavor. I cannot talk about garlic without mentioning The Stinking Rose in San Francisco.  I was in San Francisco and fell in love with this restaurant back in the late 90’s.  It is considered the garlic restaurant.  Now I can’t vouch for it today considering it has been over 15 years, but I see on their website they have another location too and merchandise so I am assuming it is still going strong.  Needless to say it is worth a try if you are in the San Fran area.

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The Stinking Rose is where I was first introduced to roasted garlic.  Probably one of their signatures items is the roasted garlic served in a cast iron skillet with olive oil to spread on the bread…or to add even more garlicky goodness to the already garlic laden entrees. I was addicted!! They have the recipe on their website and apparently they add butter and anchovies.  All I can say is you have to get it.  The cloves just melt on your bread and have such a wonderful caramelized, buttery, sweet flavor.

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To end your meal they have a variety of desserts, but if you are going to The Garlic Restaurant I think you need to do it all the way and try the garlic ice cream.  Yes!  You heard me correct……garlic ice cream.  I had my doubts too, but it is so subtle and hey you can tell everyone you had garlic ice cream and they will think you’re crazy too.

Now I must warn you.

You will be keeping the vampires away the rest of the day/ night and probably the next day too.

I must have brushed my teeth and gargled a million times.

Garlic was coming out of my pores the next day.

But it was worth it and I would do it again!

Easy, Roasted Garlic at Home

  1. Peel off most of the outer layers of the garlic (the “paper”)
  2. Cut the top to see the cloves (about 1/4 inch)
  3. Place in foil
  4. Drizzle with olive oil so it gets down into all the cloves…salt and pepper optional
  5. Fold up foil so garlic in all covered
  6. Roast in 400 degree oven about 30 min or until soft and fragrant.  Depending on size it can be anyway from 20-40 minutes.  If it doesn’t seem done then put it back in.
  7. The cloves should easily come out when done.

Alternatively, you can separate the cloves before roasting.

You can serve simply with bread or along side a main entrée.