Thursday, August 28, 2008

The last of the mini-vacation...finally

So, since the Apple Barn was so filling and we ate such a late lunch, we decided to eat a late-somewhat light-dinner. We ended up at The Diner in Sevierville, which we found out is actually Christian-owned. The food was great and the place was super clean! I had an authentic cherry coke, bbq sandwich and fries and Jason had a cheeseburger (of course!) fries and a diet coke. What a great experience we had, even at 10:00 at night!! :)

The Log Cabin Pancake House = The best pancake/breakfast place I have ever eaten at (I have never had breakfast at the Apple Barn, so this is a safe statement). Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me so I cannot show you my yummy breakfast in all its glory. Here is the description, though:
*Cherry Supreme Special: a tart cherry compote rolled inside three thin pancakes and topped with more cherries, whipped topping, and powdered sugar. Served with sausage links.

Jason had the

*Log Cabin Cornmeal Pancakes: tender golden cornmeal cakes topped with whipped margarine and served with honey or hot syrup.

Both were yummy! (you know I just had to try Jason's too!) :) We were stuffed upon leaving the pancake house, so we headed into Gatlinburg to "walk off" some of our many-consumed calories. While in Gatlinburg we toured the Guinness World Records Museum and the Hollywood Wax Museum, and played a game of indoor "blacklight" mini-golf.

After a fun-filled, exhausting "last" day in the Smokies, we decided to top off our trip with a nice dinner. Since we hadn't really splurged on meals the entire trip, we thought we deserved a treat. So, we headed over to the Pottery House Restaurant (the "grill" part of The Old Mill Restaurant).

We had smelled the wonderful aroma of a big slab of meat grilling to a juicy perfection the day before when we were visiting the "strip" of little shops next to the Old Mill and desperately coveted the rich meaty goodness of one of these steaks. We checked out the menu and decided to head on in. I asked Dena, our waitress, if it was too early to order a steak (it was 2:00 pm and dinner was not served until 4:00 pm), and she said "I'll see what I can do." Needless to say she must have a good rep with the cooks because here she came with a Dinner menu for us! She explained that the baked potatoes were not ready yet so we had our choice of two sides instead of she fixed us each an amazing salad and brought out hot, fresh bread! Here is Dena:

Isn't she precious?? She was so sweet and a GREAT waitress -- one of the best we have had in a looooonnnggg time. She went out of her way to make sure we had an awesome experience...and it was just that. Take a look at our "special meal":

Hers -- Pottery House Sirloin: 10 oz. Black Angus Sirloin lightly marinated in our own seasoning blend then grilled to order.

His -- Old Mill Sirloin Steak: 10 oz. Black Angus Sirloin grilled to order or blackened.

Each meal was served with a Pottery house salad, baked or sweet potato, and fresh hot rolls. I had mac-n-cheese and mashed potatoes and Jason had steak fries and coleslaw. Let me tell you....that was one of (if not THE) best steaks I have ever had in my life. It was so juicy and tender and marinated just right. You could practically cut it with a fork! We were definitely satisfied and full!

But not too full.... We just had to stop by the Old Mill Candy Kitchen for a Caramel Apple to go...

Heaven...pure Heaven. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Apple Barn (Day 2 of mini-vacation, continued)

As I said in my last post, this post is dedicated to the Apple Barn (Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, to be exact) and the rest of our mini-vacation. Now you have to understand, when you go to this restaurant you had better be hungry. The meal you will receive has 5 courses! (If you go for lunch it is only 4, but still!!) Plus, this restaurant beats the Cracker Barrel, hands down! Check out their menu.

So, Jason and I decided to have a late lunch at the Apple Barn (as I said in the previous post). This is a tradition of ours (in fact, this is the ONLY thing I wanted for my birthday this year). Not only is there a country-style restaurant here, there is also a Applewood Farmhouse Grill which has a slightly different menu than the restaurant. There is also an Apple Barn and Cider Mill, candy factory, The Creamery, The Winery, and even a lodge. At the Creamery you can get a hot caramel apple dumpling with homemade ice cream...what more could you ask for??

Jason and I were in the mood for some real country cookin, so we both ordered the Roast Turkey and Dressing. Jason had green beans and I had mac-n-cheese.

Okay, it's picture time!! I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them...and eating the food!

Here I am pondering the menu...

The 1st two courses: Apple Fritters w/homemade Apple Butter, Applewood Julep

The 3rd course: Homemade Vegetable Soup

The Family-Style Mashed Potatoes

The Main Course plus one side and a biscuit

How awesome does that look? Trust me, none of it made its way into a "take-home" box. Now since we went for lunch, we did not get a dessert with our meal (you do at dinner-time). That's okay though. We did not leave there hungry!! Here's proof:

So, if you are in the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area, you just have to stop by the Apple Barn. But if not, you can still order their famous apple butter and fritter mix from their online store. We snatched up a bag of the fritter mix as a souvenir. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Smokies (and not those little cocktail weenies either)

Have you ever had one of those "spur of the moment" ideas? You know, the "it's 2 in the morning and I just have to have ice cream" idea or the "let's sell the car and buy a boat" idea, or the "let's drive down to Tennessee and rent a cabin for the weekend" idea. Well, I can't say that I have participated in the first two, but my husband and I did decide to head down to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee a couple of weekends ago for a little getaway.

If you have never been to the Smokies, you have got to go! The mountains are absolutely beautiful and there is so much to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Now I will say that a short trip to the Smokies can turn out to be a pretty expensive trip, but there are plenty of good deals if you can find them. First of all, there are coupon books everywhere! Just about every place we visited we had a coupon for -- restaurants, museums, etc. Also, you can either stay in a hotel or a cabin/chalet -- both are about the same price. We found a nice little cozy cabin about a mile from the Pigeon Forge "strip" but very private for about $90 a night. Here are a couple of pictures of it:

The Kitchen

The Cabin from the outside

Some of the things we did while on vacation (besides eat, of course!) were: played indoor blacklight miniature golf, toured the Hollywood Wax Museum, toured the Guinness World Records museum, had a blast at WonderWorks, walked the streets of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and did a little shopping at the Tanger Five Oaks outlet mall. But...enough about that. Let's get to the good stuff -- the food!!

Okay, what is a vacation (even a mini-vacation) without eating at some unique restaurants? Not the "chain" restaurants that you are used to eating at (McDonald's, Applebees, etc.). Jason and I actually made a rule that we would not eat at any chain restaurants or restaurants we could find in Louisville while we were on vacation. Let me tell you, it was pretty hard, especially at 8:30 at night when you are starving! (That was only the first night though).

Day 1: "Not so Happy Days"
After traveling for 4 hours, finding our cabin, and settling in; we finally found a little diner called Happy Days on the strip in PF and scarfed down a hamburger and fries. I don't have pictures (because it was late and we were hungry), but I will tell you that I do not recommend this place. Not too clean, not too friendly, and the food wasn't that great (and you know that says something when you are so hungry you could eat a cow!).

Day 2: Flapjacks, Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, and The Diner
Since we were on a "mini-vacation" we decided to get up pretty early Friday morning to take advantage of the day. We headed down the strip to a little place called Flapjacks Pancake Cabin. It is very cozy inside and we were welcomed by a black bear statue. Our waitress was great! We both had pancakes with eggs and bacon (Jason) and sausage links (me). Unfortunately I don't have a picture of them -- they were gone too fast! Everything was delicious.

After Flapjacks, we decided to do a little walking and shopping. At about 2:00 pm we decided to go to the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant (our favorite restaurant of all time) for a late lunch. Since I have several pictures of this place, and it is my absolute favorite restaurant, I have decided to dedicate the next post to the "Apple Barn" as I call it.

(And, since this post is getting quite long and I don't want you to lose interest, I will post about the rest of our trip in the next blogpost as well.)

Stay Tuned!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

How could I forget...

Cheesecake Brownies??? My friend Kim made me these DeLiCiOuS cheesecake brownies for my birthday!! They were soooo yummy! In fact, they went so fast I did not get a picture of them. Here is her post with the recipe. Thanks Kim!!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Apologies & Birthday Week, continued

I apologize for being MIA for the past week or so in "blogworld". Things have been super busy around here...not to mention I was on vaction for a few days -- woohoo!! I will blog about that very soon. For now, please enjoy a few pictures of my "Birthday Week, continued". :)

Yes, I know. I only have one real birthday. How much fun it is to have your birthday extended for an entire week, though! Or even two weeks! My sister came to visit me this past Sunday and brought me one of her special cakes for my birthday. I had requested a "wedding cake" birthday cake -- white cake with buttercream frosting and strawberry filling. It was DeLiCiOuS!!! Here is a picture of it:

Isn't it beautiful?? I still have a little piece left of it. It was soooo good!! The people I shared it with thought so as well. :) While my sister and bro-in-law were up, we took them to Lynn's Paradise Cafe, played miniature golf at Putt Putt Fun Center, and had ice cream at Graeter's. We had so much fun!! Plus, she got me a beautiful silver business card holder engraved with my initials. :)
My mom and dad sent me gifts as well. Here is a peek at them (minus my turtle necklace and two purses):

Now, let's go back in time about a week or so. I never had a chance to show you my other gifts from my wonderful friends! Here is a short breakdown of what "birthday week" entailed:

Birthday Week = 3 cakes (only one for me) + 1 special dessert + lunch with 3 friends + dinner with my wonderful husband + a "pizza party" with more friends + gifts + a partridge in a pear tree

Needless to say, I am BLESSED!!! I had lunch with Kim at Fazolis, lunch with Melissa at KT's, and lunch with Donna at The Cheesecake Factory. I had dinner with my amazing husband, Jason, at Texas Roadhouse. We had "Pizza Mia" pizzas from Pizza Hut (I do not recommend them) and an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. The other two cakes were a dark chocolate cake w/cherry sauce that I made for my boss's birthday (July 28) and a Paula Deen chocolate chip gooey butter cake I made for Beth for her birthday (July 29). Here are two of the cakes:

The Monkey Cake (ice cream cake)

Beth's Birthday Cake (Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Cake)

Since I cannot put all of my "gift pictures" on here, I picked out a couple of my favorites to share with you. Beth got me some Ultra Fine tip sharpie markers (because I love making little cards --even though they are definitely not as creative as hers) and she decorated my desk!! My boss got me one of those Rocket blenders, and my sweet friend Laura made me an apron and chip clips and gave me a box of soup mix - yum! How awesome is that!?? :) Take a look:

Me sporting my homemade apron (check out the detail)!!

Homemade chip clips (how cute!) and soup mix

I could not have asked for anything more. However, on top of all of that, I received an awesome recipe book (that matched a recipe box I received for my wedding...6 years ago!) from my friends Chris & Ellen, some beautiful sconces and awesome-smelling candles from my friends Zach & Missy, and 2 cartons of Ale-8 from my friends Ryan & Melanie. My little sis also gave me a carton of Ale-8, vintage candies, and balloons. husband got me a ..... Nintendo DS!!! With two COOKING games!!! :) Yes, cooking games: Cooking Mama and Cake Mania 2. They are so much fun!! Again...blessed.

Anyway, that was the story of "birthday week". I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and I apologize if I left someone out! I am very grateful for all of the gifts, lunches, cakes, and everything else that made my birthday so wonderful. Thank you!! :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

How do I love cheesecake? Let me count the ways...

1) Cherry ... 2) Strawberry ... 3) New York Style ... 4) Chocolate ... 5) Turtle ...... 1,345) .... this list could go on forever!! Cheesecake is one of my absolute favorite desserts of all time. Not only is it rich and creamy, there are soooo many different types you just cannot go wrong. Case in point: The Cheesecake Factory. This restaurant has over 30 kinds of cheesecake, not to mention desserts. Plus, their menu is huge!!

My dear friend Donna (and fellow co-worker) treated me to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory last Wednesday for my birthday. It just so happened that Wednesday was also National Cheesecake Day and $1.50 cheesecake day at TCF! Am I lucky or what?? We made sure we were at the restaurant when the doors opened (we only get an hour for lunch) and we are so glad we did. The line was very long and the place filled up quick. But no worries - we were in there and out with cheesecake in hand in less than an hour.

I know you are wondering about the food. Did I mention that this restaurant has a huge menu? This menu is a book -- with over 15 pages of selections from appetizers to desserts/cheesecake. Well, I had only been to TCF twice before that day so I really did not know what to get - and I didn't want to get the same thing I had before. Donna had mentioned that the Crabcake Sandwich was awesome and very filling, and was what she was ordering. So, I decided to try it as well since I love crabcakes. Let me tell was WoNdErFuL!!! Very filling, as promised, and very tasty. In fact, it was huge!! It was so big that I only ate half of it and half of the fries that came with it (besides, I just had to save room for cheesecake!).

Speaking of cheesecake...if you have never eaten a piece of TCF cheesecake, you do not know what you are missing! It is extremely rich and they are not skimpy on their slices. Plus, you get a mound of rich whipped cream on the side, depending on which type of cheesecake you get. On this particular day, I opted for the Dutch Apple Caramel Streusel. Here is the description:

DUTCH APPLE CARAMEL STREUSEL --Our Original Cheesecake, Baked Apples, Caramel and Brown Sugar Cinnamon Walnut Streusel.

And here is the picture:

Donna opted for something on the chocolate side. And if you are wanting chocolate, why not go for the richest chocolate around? Donna ended up getting the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake- yummmmmm! Here is the description:

GODIVA® CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE -- Layers of Flourless Godiva Chocolate Cake, Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse.

And here is the picture:

Is your mouth watering yet?? :) Needless to say, that was one of the best lunches ever -- good food, good fellowship, and fun times. Well...the cheesecake was pretty good too. :)

Birthday "Week"

This has been an amazing week! Sorry I haven't posted recently, I have been very busy with birthdays. My boss's birthday was Monday, July 28; my friend & coworker Beth's birthday was Tuesday, July 29; and mine was Thursday, July 31. So....needless to say, it has been a whirlwind of cakes, presents, and lunches! I will be posting more later about this series of events, so stay tuned!! :)