Memphis plays host to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest each year as part of Memphis in May. The event itself spans three days and is open to the public, but none of the teams are allowed to sell barbecue (health concerns I’d imagine). So, the only point in going is if you know someone with a tent.
All hope is not lost, however, as last year’s championship team Natural Born Grillers has a restaurant here in Southaven. I just recently heard about it and decided to give it a try yesterday with Keith, Airica, Matt and Laura. I was so impressed that I went back again tonight with Josh, Adam and Kiwi for round 2.
Since there were three of us (Kiwi showed up later), we decided to try the BBQ Lovers Feast which consists of a full rack of ribs, 1/2 pounds of pulled pork, three wings and four side items (barbecue beans, cole slaw, potato salad and french fries). The meal was supposed to come with chicken legs or something but they were out and gave us more pulled pork instead, but I think they short-changed us there because what we got in the package was certainly not 1/2 pound.
Either way, the food was really good. I used the extra pulled port to make a nice sandwich with sweet and spicy sauce. The meat was extremely tender and absolutely delicious. The ribs were also good, although the ones Keith had the night before were a bit better I believe. Potato salad is hit-or-miss but thankfully I really liked their offering.
I’m not entirely sure I would order the group meal again as it seems you could get more for your money buying separate meals, but it was nice to get a sampling of everything. Individual meals only come with a single main course and two side items. After tax and tip, each of us chipped in $15 which isn’t too bad for some world class barbecue! I will certainly be going back here again as it is closer and better than Cork’s IMO.
Keith, Airica, Josh and myself all decided to try something new for dinner. After pondering for a bit, we decided on Crescent City, a casual New Orleans style restaurant. I had never even heard of this place, and furthermore it has a horrible location in the middle of a shopping center facing away from the main road. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting much.
When we arrived, the parking lot was a ghost town and we had our doubts if it was even open, as there was nobody inside either. But fortunately it was open and all I can say is WOW!
We started out with three different appetizers:
The first was fried okra, which if you aren’t from the south, odds are you have never heard of it. Crescent City served it with a great seasoning that made it some of the best okra I have ever had. Oh and the size of the bowl was huge.
Airica ordered the fried green tomatoes, another southern classic. Again, some of the best I have ever had and more than enough for an appetizer.
Josh went with the crab cakes, which were pretty expensive considering only two were included. I sampled a piece and while it was really good, I don’t think it was worth the $14 asking price.
For my main course, I selected the Creole Tour, which is a sample of any three gumbos. From left to right, I picked the seafood gumbo, jambalaya and shrimp gumbo. The jambalaya and shrimp gumbo were fantastic but I didn’t care for the seafood gumbo at all. It had a really fishy taste and wasn’t anything like the other two.
My total bill with appetizer was only $16.24, nearly as much as Josh’s appetizer lol.
Crescent City is like a well-kept secret among local dining options. The place was totally dead at dinner time and not a single person came into the restaurant while we were there. This was good as we got prompt service but bad because well, a restaurant can’t survive without customers! Let’s hope this was simply because it was a Sunday evening and maybe people were at church.
If you like New Orleans style food or are looking for something different, I would highly recommend Crescent City.
I love variety and trying new things, which is something I have learned over the years. As a kid, my parents would get on a fix and make the same thing for dinner nearly every night. The look on my friend’s faces when I told them I was sick of steak, pizza or even ice cream was priceless, but it was true - you can only eat something so much before you get absolutely sick of it!
Now that I’m grown and buy / cook my own meals, I run into this problem quite a bit. There are some things I would like to cook, but A) it’s not cost-efficient to cook a full meal for a single person, B) I don’t really have hours to spend prepping and cooking and C) I haven’t really been exposed to a ton of different foods, so half the time I can’t ever think of anything new and unique to try.
So, before my last trip to go grocery shopping, I asked around for some dinner recipes / ideas and was given a gem: French Friend Onion Baked Chicken!
The recipe is extremely easy and can be ready to eat in under an hour! First up, gather the supplies which consist of: thawed chicken breast(s), two eggs, a package of French Fried Onions and Lemon Pepper seasoning. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Next, beat the two eggs in a bowl, which will be used as your batter.
Now coat the entire chicken breast in the egg mixture. This will help the fried onions stick to it.
Then, pour a generous amount of onions on a plate and crush them into tiny bits. If you don’t have other plans for the onions, you can simply crush them while they are in the bag which makes it much easier.
Remove the chicken from the egg mixture and roll it around in the crushed onion. This serves as the breading, much like fried chicken. For an extra bit of taste, sprinkle each piece with a bit of lemon pepper seasoning.
Bake the chicken for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until the insides are white and juicy then server with your favorite sides!
Myself, Keith and Airica made this last Friday along with mashed potatoes and corn and it got rave reviews from everyone - so much so that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product! The chicken had a great flavor and was extremely juicy on the inside. I have no doubt that I will be making this again very soon!
Today marks the two year anniversary of this blog! It was on January 20, 2007 that I made my very first post to this blog. I started this blog just after attending the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show where I met some really beneficial people, like Bob Buskirk, a fellow tech site owner.
Since that time, this blog has seen 745 posts and 1940 comments over the past two years, which is pretty decent for a non-niche blog. I have really enjoyed updating the blog, sharing aspects of my tech site and personal life with my readers.
I have toyed with the idea of monetizing this blog or perhaps starting a niche blog (probably personal finance), but thus far, I haven’t acted on either of those ideas. We shall see what happens in 2009.
Updates as of late have been few and far between, which haven’t been on purpose. It just seems that I have less and less time to devote to the blog, but I will look to change that from this point forward. So, what’s been going on since my last update?
A CES 2009 No-Show
This was the first year since I started going to CES that I didn’t make it to Vegas for the annual technology trade show. I tossed around the idea of attending late last year but ultimately decided against it, mostly for financial reasons. CES is such a blast and equally as beneficial for my tech site, as I get to network and make new contacts with potential sponsors and other site owners which is invaluable. But, I didn’t let that get me down and did what I could from home and managed to secure a relationship with Intel, which is absolutely huge!
CES 2010 is definitely in my future, granted the show doesn’t go the way of COMDEX and cease to exist next year. Attendance was down this year but let’s hope they give it a few more years to rebound.
Ole Miss Wins 2009 Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss shocked the country and took Texas Tech to the woodshed in the 2009 Cotton Bowl on January 2, coming away with a 47-34 victory and proving once again that the Big 12 is overrated. The Rebs finished the season very strong, with a 31-13 win over LSU in the 1st annual Magnolia Bowl and absolutely dismantled Mississippi State 45-0 in the Egg Bowl. Ole Miss finished 15th nationally and is already being ranked as high as 5th in preseason polls for next year.
These accolades are well earned. After all, Ole Miss was the only team to beat Florida, the eventual National Champion. 2009 will be a great year for sure. Can you say SEC Champions?
I told myself I would probably never buy another gaming console, especially a current-generation unit. They are just too expensive and I don’t play games enough to warrant the expense. But here I am, with a 360!
I ended up buying a Pro model from Josh after our last LAN party. He purchased two additional units for use at the party but turns out, we didn’t need them. I got a heck of a deal which is really the reason I bought it. And thanks to Left 4 Dead, I have actually been playing it quite a bit, as a group of about 5-6 of us play multiplayer almost nightly. If you are on Live and want to add me, just leave a comment with your Gamertag or e-mail me at: email@example.com
Paying Off Debt
Since I started following Dave Ramsey about a year ago, I have cut out a ton of useless spending in my budget and have been working very hard to pay off debt that I have accumulated over the years. About 85% of my debt is student loans and I have been paying those off as fast as I can. I have only a single payment left on the one loan I have been attacking which is pretty exciting. My focus after that is the one remaining credit card balance I am carrying, then it is full steam ahead on my large student loan.
At first, it was really tough to cut back on unnecessary spending and trying to save money, but now that I have been doing it for almost a year, it is actually fun. I enjoy seeing how frugal I can be each month and how little I can get by on. Odd, yes, but it is very motivating.
Keeping Busy With Work
Many people wish they could work for themselves at home, create their own schedules and be their own boss. The reality is, it is tough. The reason I say this is because you are never “off work”. With a traditional job, once you leave the office, you are free. You don’t have to worry with work until the next day or after the weekend. When you work for yourself, you are always thinking about work and what needs to be done and when you are going to do it. I love what I do but it is pretty stressful and there is a lot of responsibility. I don’t think most people could do it.
Anyway, things with OCIA.net are still going strong. I have been focusing on attaining more sponsorships for the site, which means sharing the latest and greatest hardware with our readers. Things look bright for 2009 and I can’t wait to see what the year brings!
I have been looking to hire an additional reviewer and have taken a chance on two people in the past several months, both of which have screwed me over and basically stole the review items without doing any work. Its frustrating when someone with no morals comes along and throws a monkey wrench into what you have worked hard to do just for a free product. Its even more frustrating when you see these people move on to the next site they plan to scam.
On that note, if you are into the tech scene and think you might be interested in writing for my site, shoot me an email and we can talk.
I have also been doing some freelance writing for another tech site based in Mexico, Techspot. Things with this site have been going really well and I have had a good time reviewing for them and look forward to continue our relationship in 2009.
I had never heard of a Texas Pickle until just recently. Adam had been telling me about then for a while and finally decided to make a batch.
Basically, you take jalapenos, remove the insides, fill with cheese then wrap the entire thing in bacon. Bake in the oven or cook on the grill and you end up with what you see above!
I love trying new foods and the Texas Pickle was no exception and in fact, it was very good. I am not a huge fan of spicy foods but once gutted and cooked, the jalapeno was not spicy at all. I would recommend you give them a try sometime for sure.
Turkey Day 2008 is finally here, and that means one thing: FOOD! Ok, so it means a lot more than just food, but that was the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving Pregame the day before Turkey Day.
Josh and I have been planning to cook some deep fried turkeys for a few weeks now. Josh took the day off work and so it began!
Things technically kicked off Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. Jared’s mom was nice enough to cook us a pecan pie. This is the first homemade pecan pie I have had (that I recall) and I must say, it was phenomenal! A big thanks goes out to Jared and his mom for the delicious pie.
After doing some last-minute shopping for fresh turkeys and some fire extinguishers, we decided to call it a night at 4:30 am. But we were up bright and early (1:45 pm-ish) on Wednesday to get things started.
A deep fried turkey, much like any other turkey, deserves a good dose of seasoning. Josh picked up three different flavors of injectable turkey marinade for us to try. After it’s all said and done, we will have made five turkeys, so we needed plenty of seasoning.
Here is the deep fryer of choice. Josh selected this one over a propane fryer for safety reasons. This unit operates indoors and is extremely safe compared to traditional fryer setups.
We decided to first cook a turkey breast, which doesn’t have drumsticks, wings, etc. We figured this would be a good test subject. It is shown above after injecting and seasoning rub.
The oil took about an hour to heat, and once it reached 400 degrees, our bird was ready for action.
Strangely enough, the instruction manual directed us to cook the turkey breast, roughly 8 pounds, for much longer than a regular (and larger) bird would cook. We couldn’t figure out the logic behind this, but went ahead and followed the directions like any good chef would.
In the meantime, we tossed this blackberry cobbler in the oven for dessert. With vanilla ice cream in the freezer, this was sure to make a great finish to our meal, which also consisted of some Stove Top stuffing. I never realized how quick and simple that stuff is to make.
After cooking for nearly an hour, the bird was done! Yes, it looks a little crispy, but hopefully the meat would still be good.
My first helping of deep fried turkey for the year!
While the turkey was good, it didn’t live up to its full potential. We made two mistakes on our first try.
We overcooked the turkey. Our next turkey will be cooked per online instructions - 3 minutes per pound plus an additional 5 minutes. Our second mistake was not injecting enough seasoning into the turkey. We only used one plunger full of marinade which clearly wasn’t enough. Good thing we have several more turkeys to fry!
Even though the turkey wasn’t perfect, that didn’t stop Josh, his dad and myself from finishing off the turkey breast!
Mmm, dessert looks good to me!
We ate our dinner and dessert while watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a Thanksgiving movie classic. If you haven’t seen this film, do yourself a favor and go pick it up today. It’s beyond hilarious.
And that pretty much wraps up our Thanksgiving Pregame. It’s time for me to hit the bed and get ready for tomorrow - the main course! Check back for another complete update soon!
Another month, another UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Pay Per View event. Instead of going to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch this event like we usually do, we decided to just invite everyone over to my new place and order the fight. We ended up with nine people total, and charged $10 per person to cover food, drinks and the price of the PPV.
By sheer coincidence, I ended up with three full size couches the day of the event - talk about good timing! Keith’s boss was selling two nice couches (not thrilled about the color but they are in great shape and very comfortable) so we picked those up earlier in the day. After that, it was time to hit the store and get snacks and such for the evening.
Yeah… so we went a bit overboard at the store and doubled our original food / drink budget. I think the problem was, we were in the mindset of shopping for a LAN party, which is typically 24 hours or more, and not a 3 hour UFC event. Oh well lol…
At least the food was a big hit - and props to Josh for making some killer Rotel!
Don’t think Jacinta liked people food too much.
Kinda weird, half of the room was hot and the other half was freezing cold!
Still eating! She def. got her money’s worth hah!
Somehow I ended up braiding Astrid’s hair… although I didn’t do a good job.
Overall, a pretty successful night. I think most everyone enjoyed this more than going to Buffalo Wild Wings. The atmosphere was much more laid back and comfortable and you could actually talk to everyone, not just those sitting beside you. I’m game to give it another try but not buy near as much food lol.
As for the event itself, I was satisfied. Brock Lesnar completely dominated his fight, only his 3rd ever MMA bout. Georges St. Pierre retained his title by pretty much battering Jon Fitch for five rounds. Good fight, good night!
As some of you know, today was my birthday. I didn’t really do a whole lot out of the ordinary for most of the day. I started the day off by spending a few hours doing some random website work, then Keith and Airica came by to hang out for a few hours. After they left, Astrid and her cousin Dinorah decided to stop by to check out the new pad. Around that time, I got a call from Molly so I invited her over as well. Then, Sarah was in the neighborhood and came by too.
We spent some time playing with Jacinta who was a big hit.
For someone that claims to be allergic to cats, Astrid didn’t shy away from playing either!
I’m usually not one to make a big deal out of my birthday, but Molly wanted to take Stephanie and I out for dinner (Steph’s birthday is Friday). We eventually decided on Logan’s Roadhouse. On the way there, I got a call from Josh so I invited him as well. I originally thought it was just going to be the three of us (Steph, Molly and I), so I didn’t invite the whole gang - my bad.
You can’t go to a steakhouse without ordering a nice steak, which is exactly what I did. This 12 oz. Rib Eye was delicious, as was the mac n cheese!
Don’t you just hate those embarrassing birthday dinners where everyone comes out and sings to you? I know I sure do.
All of us, sans Josh who was taking the picture.
After dinner, Josh, Astrid, Dinorah and I went to Baskin Robbins (with Jacinta lol) for dessert then back to my place to hang out a bit longer.
Overall, a nice birthday spent with some great friends. Thanks to everyone for everything, and to Molly for picking up my tab at Logan’s
Last Sunday during Music Fest, we stopped in at Bigfoot Lodge for lunch. Bigfoot Lodge is located a few blocks from Beale Street in downtown Memphis, TN.
This was my first time at the Lodge and unfortunately, I had already eaten just a few hours before so I wasn’t hungry at all. Bigfoot Lodge is famous for their seven and a half pound Sasquatch burger - four pounds of fresh ground-chuck, two pounds of their handmade hamburger bun, and one and a half pounds of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and cheese…SEVEN AND A HALF POUNDS TOTAL.
If you can finish it all in under one hour, it’s free! This is very similar to the deal at The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas that Josh tried (and failed at) back in 2007, were you are required to eat a 72 oz. and all the side items in under an hour.
You can check out the video below to see what everyone ordered at Bigfoot Lodge. I just wish I had been hungry, because that prime rib sandwich looked outstanding!
Sarah came down yesterday and brought some leftovers from a wedding shower at her house. Among the random food was some chocolate-covered pineapples. I had never had pineapple covered in chocolate, but wow, they were great! This got me thinking about other fruits that are good covered in chocolate…
I had to go shopping later in the day, so I decided to try my hand at making chocolate-covered treats. First up, frozen bananas!
I discovered frozen bananas a few years ago at the local fair and I have been hooked ever since! All you have to do is freeze the banana then dip it in the chocolate sauce. The chocolate hardens pretty quick since the bananas are so cold… and then, it’s ready to eat.
Next up, I tried some strawberries. You don’t really need to freeze these - just chill them in the freezer for half an hour or so.
These turned out even better than the bananas!
The Banana Pops kit was only $.99, which is a lot cheaper than I anticipated. This is an inexpensive way to make some great appetizers for a group function or just some tasty treats for yourself to snack on