The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It


Blue Bank Fish House and Grille and Resort-Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

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If you live within a hundred miles of Reelfoot Lake, there are plenty of things to do while visiting.
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You can fish. You can visit the museum and pet a snake or an owl named Luna. You could swim, although I wouldn’t. You can shop for redneck souveniers. Whatever you do, there is one thing you are supposed to eat when you visit there-fish and only fish.

For years growing up, every holiday observing a parent (Mother’s or Father’s Day) seemed to be celebrated at Reelfoot Lake. The preferred place to eat by the older crowd is Boyette’s where you eat family style. It is a very good place to eat, but the lines are long. While at Boyette’s you might eat ham, or if you are feeling adventurous and open to ridicule-chicken, but fish is the dish to eat.
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For some reason several years ago, our family visited Reelfoot Lake and went against the norm. We ate at Blue Bank. Going further from the norm, we ate steak, and it was the best steak around.

Then, they sold the place and moved. Boo and hiss.
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For a while, we were wandering around the lake when we visited for lack of a place to eat. It wasn’t long, though, before the Blue Bank opened in a new, improved place, resort-style.

We ate there early one Saturday night. It was cool and a little windy at first, and then the weather turned fierce. We had a great table by the window, so we got to see it all.
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Luckily, dinner was not the disaster that the weather was. We didn’t wait in line even a minute, and we started out with the fried pickles, which were fine.

Mr. Picky had an order of hush puppies and chicken strips. Mr. Opinionated and Miss Helper ordered the fried fish. I guess some fish-ordering habits die hard.
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They liked the fish. I got a bite, and it was good stuff.
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I ordered the steak with sautéed mushrooms. Dadgum, it was good. It was nice to have a good steak from what felt like an old friend.
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We are so glad that Blue Bank is still around. The old-fashioned fish places are good, but nothing beats a good steak with a great lake view.

Walking around the lake.

Walking around the lake.


Blue Bank Fish House & Grill on Urbanspoon



Lambert’s-Sikeston, Missouri

For pigging out, there is no comparison to Lambert’s. The fixings, the portions, the extras, the pass-arounds. One can get full and then some. As a matter of fact, Lambert’s was named “The Number One Place to Pig Out” by Food Network, so that is not just my opinion.

I, however, am not a fan of the throwing of the rolls. I think I was scarred by the thrown rolls experience when I was in high school. We always stop to eat there while on our way to St. Louis, and this particular time was one of my first of many stops. I had caught one roll, but little did I know I was supposed to catch another one.

It hit me in the stomach. Ironic, I say.

The thought of hot dough hitting me has been a fear of mine since, and I haven’t attempted to catch a roll since that fateful day.

Tragic.

We still stop by there every time we pass through that part of Missouri as well as once in Foley, Alabama.

It may be scary, but it is just plain good.
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My favorite pass around is the fried okra. It is never bad.
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I almost always order the chicken wings. However, who could eat all that food? I try, but a girl has her limits.
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My favorite, favorite thing around this town is the greens. Good grief, they are sooo good. I don’t know why they are so special (it probably has something to do with something that is terribly unhealthy) but they are dang good.

Lambert’s is a favorite. Delish.



I Did It! Operation: ShakeDown

So, who drank all twenty-five milkshakes from Sonic this summer?

This girl! Whoop! Whoop!

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I consider it a feat, and something that I am very proud of. I considered making a t-shirt, but really, I don’t want to brag.

Not too much, at least.

It was great fun to eat all 25, and not just because they are delicious. Several times this summer, we would be lazing around the house doing nothing important. But, come 8:00 when the milkshakes switched to half price, we were in the car and off to Sonic to get whatever milkshake was next on the list of 25. The kiddos enjoyed helping me out, keeping track of the milkshakes, and getting a treat for themselves, and I think we grown-ups enjoyed the drive and the time together.

And, of course, the 25 milkshakes.

The most often asked question about this little experiment is which one was the best. The answer, in my opinion, is pineapple followed closely by cherry cheesecake tied with any of the milkshakes with peanut butter.

My least favorite was the chocolate cream pie that was an overdose of coconut. Blech and blech.

I even liked the peanut butter bacon, which I saved for the last one. It was like eating a Butterfinger candy bar, except that it was cold and you had to chew a lot more. It wasn’t gross at all as most people would think.

I mean, it’s bacon, for Pete’s sake. Wrap bacon around road kill, and most people would chow down. Myself included.

I am kinda sad my milkshake journey has come to an end. I have already started on some repeat favorites, but I am going to resist redoing all 25 as someone suggested I try to do.

I will go ahead, though, and look forward to next summer. Bring on the milkshake challenge, Sonic!



Seriously? This Is Getting Ridiculous: The Pioneer Woman’s Blue Cheese Steak

The PW is coming out with a new cookbook in the fall!

I am not sure if excitement is appropriate though.

The PW’s book is all about celebrations. That could be a great thing, as I see it. Paula Deen’s cookbook about celebrations, Paula Deen and Friends is one of my favorites. I have many tried and true recipes from it. Of course, all that was before Paula went and destroyed her career the old-fashioned way-by crying on national TV. Still, I like the recipes, so celebration recipes may be a plus for PW.

Also, the last PW cookbook was full way too many animal/kid pictures. I could just imagine the cat hair in my food as I looked at Miss Kitty while cooking. Same thing with all the dogs. And the kids. Blech. Plus, all the dang cows. Do you know why we call Beef beef? Because calling it cow is a little too uncomfortable. Know what? So is looking at beautiful pictures of them while cooking them. Too close to home, my friend.

Another thing, I have tried too many recipes from PW #2 that have not turned out like I (and hopefully PW) had planned. Case in point:

Rib-eye Steak with Onion-Blue Cheese Sauce.

My spin on this little recipe here went like this:

I decided to follow PW bit by bit except for one thing-the onions. Instead of one onion in a skillet, I made two on the grill along with the steak.

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Lovely. We grill onions all the time. I followed everything else to a T. I added the cream and the seasonings. I had high hopes.
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I also tweaked the steaks just a small bit. Instead of smearing the butter at room temperature, I melted it first. No big deal.
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At the end of the grilling time, I added the blue cheese to the sauce as the steaks were all but done.
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How was it?

Now, I love blue cheese. This was not quite what I expected, however. One could argue that I fixed the dish wrong because it was prepared totally on the grill.

One could also be wrong.

I used two onions over very high heat. I allowed it to bubble as the recipe said. So the sauce should have been thick like the non-cat photo of the sauce, right?

It wasn’t. It was a thin, liquidy, blue cheese gravy-type thing. Not what I had planned.

Taste-wise, it wasn’t bad, but the runniness nullified the deliciousness. A good steak needs very little help from a sauce. I can make a great steak without the extra work of making a sauce that may or may not be worth the effort.

So, the new PW cookbook is something I will purchase with caution. She’s just burned me one too many times with recipes that aren’t worth the pictures of her dogs.

On the bright side, cookbook number three might be the charm. We’ll just have to wait and see…

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The Cheese Stands Alone: Making Homemade Mozzarella

Once upon a time, there was a girl who thought she could cook. That girl had taken a cooking class once about the finer points of cheese and how one would make cheese. So, the girl, thinking she could do such, ordered a cheese kit from Amazon.

Isn’t that how all great stories start?

003So, my cheesemaking kit came in the neatest little package with the happiest little cows on it. Happy cows are a great sign, I always say.

When it came time to make the cheese, I followed the directions pretty easily.
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It wasn’t hard at all-more like chemistry than cooking. I just added some things and stirred and such.
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Everything went well until I got to the stretching phase of the cheese making. I am not sure what went wrong, but my cheese was not stretchy and smooth. It was more gloppy and awkward.
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Still, it was yummy beyond words. When I cut the cheese (he he!), it was warm, salty, and chewy all in a good way. I loved it. It took a whole gallon of milk to make it, which is a sacrifice for us. Still, it was great.
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I was proud of myself for making cheese even if it wasn’t perfect.
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I just love happy endings….



Second Opinions at The Old Bay Steamer-Destin, Florida

When we went to Destin, we saved our meal at The Old Bay Steamer for the end of the week. We were saving the best for last after our last experience there a few years ago. We Loved it then, and we couldn’t wait to be there again this time.

However, the best was not to be last and the second time was not a charm.

The place hadn’t changed a bit but most places don’t. We even sat at the same table as last time. Unlike last time, we ordered the dip combo for an appetizer.

The tuna dip was good (not as good as Harbor Docks though), but the tortilla chips that came with the dip were awkward and not as good with it as the crackers from the table. The blue crab dip was blech. Now, I have watched Chopped a time or ten, and it is my understanding that fish and cheese should not mix. This dip had fish, too many onions, and cheese. Weird.

I may not be a smart woman or a judge on a food competition, but I know what bad crab dip is.
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The house salad was as good as last time. I had three helpings. Yum. However, we didn’t drive all this way to visit the Gulf for salad.
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Miss Helper had the ribs again, and she picked them clean. Then she helped us with our supper. Time to move her off the kids’ menu, I guess.
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Mr. Picky had the Mac and cheese. He didn’t like it. He said it was weird and the macaroni was too big. Now, he will not eat a lot of foods, but he knows Mac and cheese. If he said it was weird, you can take that to the bank.
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The Hubs and I ordered the Big Steamer for two. I was so looking forward to this. I used to dream of the experience of sharing a Big Steamer with my man-that doesn’t sound very romantic though, does it?

Anyway, we were so excited about it.

Then, we tried it. The crab legs were to die for. The best ever.
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The shrimp? The mussels? The clams? The oysters? Not good. They had a twang that should not have been there. The oysters were especially off. The mussels were my favorite part last time, and I didn’t even eat my share. We left several shrimp in the bowl, uneaten.

Now, that is just a crying shame.

After all was said and done with this meal and the uneaten shrimp were taken away, I noticed Mr. Opinionated, the man I had looked so forward to sharing this meal with, eating a cracker with hot sauce on top. He was still hungry, and so was I. This meal set us back a lot of money, and we walked away hungry. Boo and hiss.

That may be the saddest part of all. Our second opinion of The Old Bay Steamer?

Well, I won’t be fondly dreaming of it until the next time.
Old Bay Steamer on Urbanspoon


Fort Walton Beach on Dwellable


Blue Cheese Tomatoes on the Grill

Inspired by our recent meal at McGuire’s Irish Pub, the hubs and I decided to try to recreate their tomatoes.
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Not having a clue or a recipe, we improvised. We sliced four tomatoes in half around the middle and scooped out the insides.
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Then, we drizzled olive oil across the tops and stuffed each one with blue cheese.

Actually, it was gorgonzola, but who would ever notice, right?
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We grilled them for just a few minutes over my sister’s charcoal grill. They could have used a few more minutes, but we took them off when the cheese melted and the tomatoes were just starting to turn on the bottom.
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They were good, but the crowd consensus was that they were for blue cheese lovers only.




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