When a new job gives you biscuits, make a breakfast casserole

Just one of many loads of biscuits CNET Appliances bakes to test ovens.
Just one of many loads of biscuits CNET Appliances bakes to test ovens.

A dream job seemed like a fantasy. For the past few years, I’ve assumed that a job was something I had to tolerate for eight hours a day so I would have enough money to pursue the activities about which I was really passionate. I was lucky enough to land somewhere that wasn’t too bad. My co-workers were fun. The work was new. I gave up the idea of earning a paycheck from doing what I love and loving what I do (a first-world mantra that glosses over things like taxes, rent and savings accounts) and settled into a content cubicle life.

Then my dream job showed up, slapped me in the face and reminded me that you can do what you love and get paid for it.

Last week, I began working at the technology and review website CNET as a senior associate editor. I test and review ovens for a living. Seriously. I can’t make this up. A food writer landed in a job that requires boiling water, broiling burgers and baking biscuits in order to recommend which ranges are a good fit in consumers’ homes.

Y’all, I’m living the dream. Let’s pause for a praise break.

seinfeld
giphy.com

So anyway, back to these biscuits.

We take appliance testing seriously at CNET, so seriously that we go through cans and cans of refrigerated biscuits to test how evenly ovens will bake them. I hate seeing food go to waste, especially when it can be repurposed into something even better than the original. So I grabbed a bag full of biscuits and made a strata, which is French for “breakfast casserole made out of leftovers.”

Biscuit strata.
Biscuit strata. Don’t mind the “cajun” edges.

This recipe is versatile enough to work with all sorts of leftover bread. For example, I adapted this recipe from one in the Kentucky Fresh Cookbook that calls for cornbread. Using stale bread for strata is approximately 100 times better than just throwing it away or tossing pieces into the grass for birds (spoiler alert: my dog Roscoe is eating your bread scraps). You can also through in whatever meat, vegetables and cheese you have on hand. This is a great clean-out-the-fridge dish.

Cut the biscuits into cubes for the recipe.
Cut the biscuits into cubes for the recipe.

I hope you enjoy the first fruits of my new job. I’m still learning how everything works, so it might be a little bit before my first review is up. In the meantime, find yourself some biscuits and enjoy.


Biscuit Strata

Adapted from the Kentucky Fresh Cookbook by Maggie Green

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 pound bulk sausage (pork or turkey)

3 cups milk

6 large eggs

1 teaspoon dry mustard

8 cups biscuit cubes (any thick, stale bread will also do)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook for five minute until the onions are softened.
  2. Stir in the sausage until it is cooked through, and drain off any excess fat.
  3. While the onions and sausage cook, whisk together the milk, eggs and dry mustard in a medium bowl.
  4. Assemble the strata: Put half the cornbread cubes into the baking dish. Cover the cubes with the sausage mixture and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Pour half of the milk mixture as evenly as you can over everything in the dish. Cover with the rest of the bread cubes, the remaining milk mixture and the last cup of cheese.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dish for 2 hour or overnight.
  6. When you’re ready to bake the strata, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the strata for about 50 minutes or until the cubes on top are golden brown.
  7. Let the strata stand for 10 minutes before you serve it.
  8. DEMOLISH THE STRATA

Event Alert: Take your pup to Bark Brunch at The Cafe tomorrow, 8.2.14

This is a face that deserves brunch.
This is a face that deserves brunch.

Brunch is wonderful on its own. Add pets, and we’ve achieved next-level glee.

The Café, a restaurant at 712 Brent Street in Louisville, will team up with 102.3 The Max and The Flea Off Market for a Bark Brunch this Saturday, Aug. 2. It’s your chance to bring your dog to the lovely patio of The Café for a meal.

From the folks at The Café:

Bark Brunch is for people and dogs alike. Enjoy a delicious brunch before heading to The Flea Off Market with your pooch! There is no cost to attend, but reservations are encouraged. To make a reservation at The Café, call 502.589.9191.

The event, which is sponsored by Southern Indiana Animal Rescue, Duffy’s Dog Training Center and Bluegrass Kennels, sounds like a lot of fun. Even if you and your pooch can’t get in (sorry for the short notice, y’all), I recommend checking out The Café with a two-legged friend. Have you heard about their chicken salad?

Chicken salad sandwich at The Cafe.
Chicken salad sandwich at The Cafe.

Delicious.

Bark Brunch

The Café, 712 Brent Street, Louisville, Ky.

Saturday, Aug. 2 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Reservations: 502.589.9191

It’s cold. We’re cranky. Bring on the delivery guys and gals.

Dressing for this winter weather makes me as miserable as the little squirt from “A Christmas Story.”

Courtesy of moots.com
Courtesy of moots.com

There are tights, socks, pants (preferably corduroy). A tank top, a long-sleeved blouse, a cardigan. Boots, down-feather coat, hat, scarf. Maybe another scarf for good measure. I look like a stuffed sausage by the time I’m fully clothed.

This routine makes me hesitate to venture outside, even to go out to eat. There are new restaurants I still haven’t tried (looking at you, El Camino) and favorite restaurants that I’ve missed (oh, Mussels & Burger Bar, I’ll be back as soon as I thaw) all because the cold brings out my inner curmudgeon.

God bless delivery people.

These folks take it to the streets to deliver the goods to weather wusses like me. I have a genuine admiration for the work they do to bring home a paycheck.

If you hate the cold like me, here are some places to consider for your next night in:

 

Bearno’s/Spinelli’s/Wick’s

Wick's.
A pie from Wick’s.

Oh, pizza. How I love you so. With all those toppings, you dominate the food groups. Bearno’s Pizza and Wick’s Pizza Parlor pile on the toppings Louisville-style with a layer of cheese on top. Depending on your choice of toppings, you might be tempted to eat a slice with a fork and knife (hint: don’t). Spinelli’s Pizzeria operates well through the night and into the morning (delivery until 4:30 a.m.!), should your cravings strike at odd hours.

 

Café Lou Lou

A meatball sandwich with a side of Cajun crisps from Cafe Lou Lou.
A meatball sandwich with a side of Cajun crisps from Cafe Lou Lou.

Maybe the guy who answered the phone that day didn’t realize that my apartment is just slightly out of the delivery area for the Café Lou Lou in St. Matthews. Maybe he took pity on me. Either way, nothing beats a hot meatball sandwich at the door.

    • Café Lou Lou has a location in the Highlands along with the St. Matthews restaurant. Click here for information on delivery.

 

Baby D’s Bagel and Deli/Jimmy John’s

A happy message, courtesy babydsdeli.com.
A happy message, courtesy babydsdeli.com.

Baby D’s “will gladly deliver” its bagel sammiches to Downtown, UofL/Bellarmine Campus, St. Matthews, Clifton, Germantown, Butchertown, and of course, the Highlands,” where the deli is located. I’m not sure how glad Jimmy John’s is to deliver sandwiches, but they’re freaky fast about it.

 

Manhattan Grill

I’ve never visited this downtown eatery. But the dedication of the older gentleman I see delivering breakfast AND lunch to folks in my building makes me want to give this place a try.

    • See a Manhattan Grill menu and order online here.

 

What restaurant do you turn to for delivery?

Take it to the comments!

Dunkin’ Donuts has a bacon doughnut sandwich. But did Kentucky do it first?

Photo courtesy Dunkin' Donuts.
Photo courtesy Dunkin’ Donuts.

I guess the marriage of bacon and morning pastry at Dunkin’ Donuts was inevitable.

The chain first introduced the Glazed Breakfast Sandwich in April, Eater National reported. But only customers in Massachusetts got to try this sandwich made up of a fried egg and bacon between two glazed doughnuts.

Last week, DD debuted this new breakfast item nationwide, and the internet seems surprised that a restaurant would offer something that just seems so bad yet so good.

But lest we not forget that Kentucky’s been doing this meat-and-doughnut sandwich thing for years.

My donut burger from the 2010 Kentucky State Fair. It should have come with a bottle of Mylanta.
My doughnut burger from the 2010 Kentucky State Fair. It should have come with a bottle of Mylanta.

I think I just finished digesting the doughnut cheeseburger I ate at the 2010 Kentucky State Fair. Even though the dish was pretty tasty, I don’t know if I have the gumption to eat another one this decade. But I’m willing to give DD’s version a whirl.

I felt the regret 10 minutes later.
I felt the regret 10 minutes later.

Will you try Dunkin’ Donuts’ new doughnut sandwich?

Wild Eggs has all-you-can-eat pancakes this month. Challenge accepted.

Pancakes from Wild Eggs.
Pancakes from Wild Eggs.

February is National Pancake Month. I’m not one to shrug off seemingly unnecessary proclamations such as this, and neither is Wild Eggs.

In honor of this glorious month, the breakfast/lunch/brunch restaurant will offer all-you-can-eat pancakes $4.99 through February.

Heck. Yeah.

I’m a frequent Wild Eggs patron on lazy Sunday afternoons. I tried their pancakes for the first time a few weeks ago, and I was smitten. I’ve been on a pancake kick ever since. I’ll even order a pancake as a side dish — I’m not ashamed. Wild Eggs serves their hot cakes big, buttery and fluffy. I agree with Michelle at Consuming Louisville — it’s hard to finish a regular order, let alone an unlimited supply.

That doesn’t mean I won’t try.

Check out Wild Eggs’ Facebook page or website for more details. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing some pancake-eatin’ for my next visit.

The baby fist pump meme plus pancakes equals triumph.
The baby fist pump meme plus pancakes equals triumph.

The $10 Challenge: Terri Ann’s

Biscuit and gravy from Terri Ann's
Biscuit and gravy from Terri Ann’s

A restaurant like Theresa’s doesn’t come along all the time. Neither does its breakfast special.

Theresa’s is a diner in Bowling Green that serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday; Sundays are reserved for the staff to spend time with “the Lord and their families,” the menu says. The smoking section takes up the majority of the restaurant, but the cloud of secondhand smoke inevitably wafts over to a non-smoker’s table as waitresses hustle by with full trays of orders. Because the doors close at 3 in the afternoon, the booths and tables are full of blue-collar workers still in cover-alls looking for breakfast after the first and third shifts.

Breakfast was my favorite thing about Theresa’s. They had this incredible breakfast special that I ordered every time I visited as a Western Kentucky University student. For four dollars and some change, you get biscuits and gravy or toast (but seriously, who chooses toast when biscuits and gravy is an option), your choice of a meat, two eggs any way you want them, and hash browns.

I’ve spent three years trying to find a dinner in Louisville that I love as much as Theresa’s.

Terri Ann’s is pretty close. It’s a diner in southwest Louisville, just down the street from the beauty shop my parents own. Terri Ann’s offers a hearty line-up of meat-centric Southern diner fare that will set you back well less than $10.

My dad comes in most Saturdays with a carry-out box filled to the edges with some kind of breakfast combo he’s picked up from Terri Ann’s.

“You want some of this?” he asks, mouth full of egg and potato.

Yes, Daddy, I indeed want some Terri Ann’s, I decided one Saturday.

Instead of picking out of my dad’s to-go box, I went down to the restaurant after my shampoo and set to enjoy an early lunch with Rob.

The diner lacks some of the charm of Theresa’s (the city’s smoking ban probably has a lot to do with that), but it’s just as unpretentious. Guests seat themselves in vinyl booths or small tables under the dull glow of fluorescent lights. Waitresses don’t wear uniforms – just T-shirts, jeans and a smile.

We started with a couple of mismatched mugs of coffee ($1.50). I wasn’t expecting Starbucks, but I wasn’t expecting the thin beverage I sipped. Even though it was the cheapest coffee I had in weeks, I quickly decided I would stick with just water the next time.

Terri Ann’s food is more robust than its drinks, but take note: this is a restaurant where New Year’s resolutions come to die. All of the appetizers ($3.25-$4.95) are fried or covered in cheese. The only vegetarian option on the lunch sandwich menu is the grilled cheese on Texas toast (served with fries, $3.50). And don’t get me started on the country fried steak. But there’s a certain charm to this disregard providing healthful options. This isn’t a place to count Weight Watchers points. Terri Ann’s is a place to fill your belly on the cheap with some good, greasy, cheap food.

My general rule is to order breakfast whenever a restaurant serves the most important meal of the day all day. Unless you had your heart set on waffles, which aren’t on the menu, Terri Ann’s has just about everything I could ask for in a breakfast menu. I could be full for hours with one of the egg plates, which come with fried potatoes, a biscuit, two eggs and one of seven different meats (ranging from $5.95 for smoked sausage and eggs to $9.95 for steak and eggs). The short stack with meat ($5.35 for two “hot cakes” and your choice of meat) and old-time French toast ($3.50 for three piece made with Texas toast) would satisfy my sweet tooth. And if all else fails, there’s always biscuits and gravy ($3 for two biscuits).

To get a little taste of a lot of food, I ordered the “Two Egg’s & Taters” (sic) that came with two eggs cooked to order (over medium for me), fried potatoes, country gravy and a biscuit ($3.95). Rob went with the Traditional Western omelet and fried potatoes ($8.70).

Biscuit and gravy, fried potatoes and eggs over medium from Terri Ann's.
Biscuit and gravy, fried potatoes and eggs over medium from Terri Ann’s.

The meal made up for my earlier disappointment with the coffee.

The fried potatoes were like the fat cousin of hash browns. The heftier hunks had the crispy edges that I like but more of the potato’s “meat.”

The eggs and biscuit were very good, nothing out of the ordinary, but tasty nonetheless. The country gravy, however, was some of the thickest I had ever had. I only needed to plop couple of heaping spoonfuls onto my biscuit. The gravy was a day away from being the consistency of a Jell-O mold.

A bite of Western omelet from Terri Ann's.
A bite of Western omelet from Terri Ann’s.

If I ever go to Terri Ann’s on an empty stomach, I will get the Western omelet that Rob ordered. The three-egg dish includes bacon, sausage, ham onion, tomato, mushrooms, green peppers and cheddar cheese. It was like someone dumped the toppings of a supreme pizza onto a pile of eggs. This dish is guaranteed to give you a severe case of the itis that you can only remedy with a nap.

Terri Ann’s won’t have the nostalgia that I’ve attached to Theresa’s any time soon. But it is a restaurant where I can afford to make plenty of new memories.

Terri Ann’s, 2605 Rockford Lane, Louisville

Coffee: $1.50
Two eggs, fried potatoes and a biscuit with gravy: $3.95
Total (with tax): $5.78

Mission: Accomplished

Treat Yo’ Self: Brunch at BLU Italian Grille (and a giveaway)

(Blogger’s note: I’m giving away a brunch for two at BLU. Read this post for more info.)
A portion of the brunch buffet at BLU.

I got the chance to celebrate brunch last week at BLU Italian Grille in the Marriott in downtown Louisville. The restaurant is promoting its new brunch concept and invited me to try it out on the house.

The brunch buffet at BLU is $22.95 per person, which puts the BLU buffet firmly in Treat Yo’ Self territory. But the upscale atmosphere, attentive wait staff and wide variety of delicious food choices are worth scrimping during the week to have a nice Sunday brunch, especially if you have some hard-to-please guests to entertain.

BLU offers a variety of dishes to satisfy urges for breakfast, lunch or both. The buffet provides a satisfying preview of what the regular BLU menu offers. Here are some of the foods that were available during my visit:

  • Omelet station
  • Egg benedict station
  • Carving station (a chef carved slices of beef at your request)
  • Antipasto platters
  • Selection of fresh fruit
  • Continental breakfast selections (yogurt, cereal, pastries, etc.)
  • Hot breakfast offerings (eggs, sausage, bacon, waffles, etc.)
  • Premium entreés
  • Desserts
My first two plates at the BLU buffet.

In about an hour, I had sampled from three plates full of food (I was researching for this blog, so I absolve myself of guilt). Some of my favorite selections were the beef filet and scalloped potatoes from the entreé section of the buffet, the scrambled eggs and the fresh fruit. A slice of moist carrot cake was a good cap to my meal.

But it wasn’t just the food that made my experience at BLU enjoyable. A jazz trio played upbeat tunes throughout the afternoon. Our waitress, Mei, was never more than a step or two away with fresh coffee or cold water. These little extras made my brunch a little more classy than what I’m used to, and I’m OK with that.

BLU Italian Grille, 280 W. Jefferson Street, Louisville

Brunch buffet, $22.95 per person

10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sundays

BLU would like to offer a brunch for two to one Ashlee Eats reader. Just answer the following question in the comments between now and next Thursday, 10.25.12, for your chance to win:

What is your favorite brunch food?

Eat your heart out at the Wild Eggs Pancake Eating Championship

Photo courtesy of smittenkittenorig via Flickr.

Any competitive eaters in the audience?

Wild Eggs, a brunch restaurant based in Louisville, is having its first National Championship Pancake Eating Championship Sept. 29. Applications to enter the contest are available at all Wild Eggs locations.

Laugh if you want, but I got a little giddy when I saw the flier for this event because:

  1. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day
  2. Wild Eggs is my favorite place to get breakfast
  3. I love Man vs. Food, a show that features a host competing in eating challenges at local restaurants

Even if you’re not that into the gluttony of eating challenges, visit Wild Eggs anyway. It’s tasty and $10-Challenge friendly.

Wild Eggs National Pancake Eating Championship

Competition at 2 p.m., family activities from noon to 3 p.m., Sept. 29

Wild Eggs at Westport Village, 1211 Herr Lane, Louisville

Happy Valentine’s Day, and a foodie’s musings on love

My Valentines.

I’ve griped about Valentine’s Day, but I’m really nothing but a big sap with a caramel center. 

I’m blessed to spend today with not only my new husband, but a supportive family, fun-loving friends, and a dog who is never short on kisses.

All these people have showed me what love really is:

  • Coffee in bed
  • Catching up over Sunday brunch
  • Washing the dishes, even when it’s not your turn
  • Homemade chicken soup when you’re sick (or feeling fine)
  • Potlucks
  • Giving up the last piece of cake
  • Your favorite meal for your birthday
  • Birthday trips to Huber’s
  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Homemade cookies with Ghirardelli chocolate chips
  • Packed lunch boxes with love notes inside
  • Splitting a pizza
  • Table scraps*

*Roscoe’s idea of love

Happy V-Day. Share it someone (or some animal) you love.

 

Bits and pieces: Happy Meals, colorful cauliflower and other food news from the web, 8.1.11

  • Starting in September, McDonald’s will add a serving of fruit or vegetable and reduce the portion of french fries in Happy Meals. The company is making the changes in response to criticism from health groups and parent organizations about the nutritional value of Happy Meals. When I was a tike, I had a cardboard box full of Happy Meal toys from all the Happy Meals I ate. Yes, I was a chubby kid. (LA Times)
  • A group of scientists say that drinking wine could help prevent sunburn. Like I needed another reason to make a pitcher of sangria. (The Telegraph)
  • One in six people change their order when a fast-food restaurant menu includes calorie count. But folks only reduce their intake by about 44 calories, the equivalent of one McNugget. (MSNBC)
  • A supermarket chain in the United Kingdom is selling cauliflower in colors like purple, yellow and green to get kids to eat more veggies. I don’t care what color you make it — I am a cauliflower hater. Yuck. (Daily Mail)