COOKING AT HOME: Jim Beam Beef Filets

When I saw the Jim Beam Beef Filets in Costco, I was really excited about them. Obviously, I am a sucker for marketing. They come in a box, so you cannot really see them. Yes, they show a picture, but does that really tell you what they look like? It’s more like the equivalent of the hamburger picture from <insert the name of your favorite hamburger joint here> that never, ever matches what is plated and ends up on your table.

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I decided to try them though, because the box did look so good. For some reason, I had really thought that when they said “beef filet” my brain translated that as “Angus Filet”. This is the part where I make my Homer Simpson “DOH” sound.

Inside the box were the peppercorn bourbon sauce packets but, at least this time, I didn’t want to “sauce it up” in order to taste the true flavor of the meat. It already was marinated in a glaze as it was so let’s not complicate matters, right?

knorr-chddar-broccoli-riceFor a side, I chose a package of Knorr Rice Sides. Melanie was already giving me a look of disapproval because we’ve never tried these before and she was more skeptical than I was. I started the grill and, after a little garlic powder and Mrs. Dash, soon had the filets cooked to hoffman sharp cheddarperfection. The rice was simple. Just add water, a cube of butter and pop it in the microwave for 8 minutes. I added a couple of slices of Hoffman’s Sharp Cheddar, garlic powder, salt and pepper then put it back in the microwave for two minutes.

IMG_1139At the first bite, I realized that this was not Angus beef nor was it filet mignon. It’s just a small, but thick, chunk of sirloin. It was not a bad piece of meat for sirloin, but it wasn’t what I was expecting and certainly not worth the premium that I paid for it. The bacon wrapped around each filet, was precooked. By the time the steaks got done on the grill, some of the bacon was rather crispy. The bacon that wasn’t was so fatty it was inedible.

IMG_1138The rice was the show stealer! I could have made two packages and still not had any left over. Needless to say, I am preparing another Amazon Prime Pantry order now. But, I can assure you, my next trip to Costco will not include me buying another box of Jim Beam Beef Filets. You’re much better off getting Angus Filet Mignon out of the meat department at Costco or your favorite grocery store. Guten appetit!

ROAD TRIP: Barnsley Gardens, Woodlands Grill, #Adairsville GA @BarnsleyResort

IMG_1082.smIMG_1100Less than two hours north of Atlanta near Adairsville, is a small resort called Barnsley Gardens. If you’re into golf or just looking for some weekend solitude, we think it’s pretty cool. We found this place while driving back from Cave Springs and it was raining. The gentle rain that day didn’t keep us from walking around and taking pictures but we’d been wanting to return. I decided to mix a little business with pleasure and check out The Woodlands Grill that afternoon also.

IMG_1073.smWhen we arrived, the temperature was 93° and I knew that although I didn’t feel the heat right away, I would by the end of our tour of the ruins. Barnsley Manor is the ruins of an antebellum home. Today, it plays host to weddings and other events. The boxwoods in the garden that exist today, were planted in the 1840s, twenty years before the Civil War began. We walked all over the gardens and the ruins taking pictures and by the time we left, we were ready to head to the car for some well-needed AC.

We drove around for a bit checking out the community and then went to the restaurant. When I walked in, I realized that my shirt was soaked and I looked like I had a bucket of water thrown on me. I’ll tell you one thing, the people there are very nice. We were greeted warmly by our hostess and our server greeted us right away with ice water and prepared to take our drink orders.

IMG_1112.smWe arrived between lunch and dinner so we ordered off the Lounge Menu which is a collection of wraps and sandwiches made to order. Melanie had the chicken salad wrap and the fruit cup. I chose the chicken salad sandwich, on toasted white bread with horseradish sauce, and the garlic fries. Our young guest ordered the Jack & Coke wrap which is chicken marinated in, you guessed it, Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola. She opted for a small side salad with ranch.

The view from the dining room out onto the golf course is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a very comfortable restaurant with a casual yet upscale feel. I felt better just getting out of the heat and my shirt was actually beginning to dry out when the food arrived.

IMG_1118IMG_1117The food was prepared as we had ordered and was very enjoyable. The chicken salad wasn’t complex. No grapes, raisins or anything weird in it. One nice thing was that it wasn’t shredded and it was nice and chunky. The garlic fries was not quite small enough to IMG_1116IMG_1115get named “shoestring fries” but they weren’t steak fries either. They were served right-out-of-the-fryer hot! The seasoning was not overdone and the fries were cooked perfectly. The Jack & Coke wrap was a hit as was the fruit cup (that everyone shared).

IMG_1121It was a very nice light lunch followed by a single Brownie Sundae we shared among the three of us. For such as simple dessert, it wasn’t cheap $12. Another “gotcha” that I almost missed when signing the check was they automatically add 18% gratuity to the bill. I didn’t notice that this was printed at the bottom of the menu. If I hadn’t caught it, I would’ve ended up tipping twice without knowing it.

All in all, it was a fantastic afternoon at Barnsley Resort. We had fun, in spite of the heat, and got some great pictures. The food was delightful and gave us time to cool down and rest before hitting the road to come home. It’s perfect for a day trip from Atlanta and would make a super weekend getaway. Guten appetit.

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REVIEW: Pablano’s Mexican Grill, #Snellville, #Lawrenceville, #Gwinnett

Mexican food and Melanie clash at times so it is rare that I get to enjoy some great Mexican cuisine as much as I do. It’s particularly more trouble convincing her to go Mexican when she is still reeling from an experience like No Mas Cantina. Sometimes though, an unquenched desire crys out to be satisfied.

Pablano’s Mexican Grill is one our go-to place for Mexican because they have great food, spectacular service and a large dining room, making sure that you never have to wait for a table but for very rare occasions. I am happy to report that today did not disappoint.

IMG_1055I love the chips and salsa here. It’s just the right amount of kick in the salsa and the chips are served warm. The chips are just thick enough not to snap when you load them with salsa but not too think to where they spoil the meal.

On this outing, Melanie chose a cheese quesadilla, a beef taco and refried beans. I went with the Camarones al Chipolte which is grilled shrimp in a peppered cream sauce. When the meal arrived, Melanie’s plate had rice instead of beans but our server quickly rectified the problem within minutes. Unlike our last Mexican adventure, our meal arrived HOT was was truly muy delicioso!

IMG_1058IMG_1059One thing I always look forward to at Pablano’s is the smoky flavor of the grill that is infused into the meat. These shrimp didn’t need any sauce to go with them. They were awesome right off the grill! But, the sauce was a big hit. Melanie doesn’t normally like anything spicy, but the sauce had just enough kick it made me smile and she could still tolerate it.

IMG_1057Pablano’s is your typical American-style Mexican restaurant. There aren’t any surprises other than everything is done right! Great food, spectacular service and they can handle a lot of people so you normally don’t have to wait. You’ll enjoy Pablano’s! Guten appetit.

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REVIEW: Provinos Italian Family Restaurant, #Snellville, #Gwinnett

If you’ve been around South Gwinnett for any length of time you know the place to go for your birthday dinner is Provinos because your birthday dinner is free, the meals are hearty and the service is fantastic. It was just such an occasion that we were invited to a birthday party as part of a group of 30.

IMG_1045Parking is never a problem but be prepared to wait. Reservations are accepted only for parties greater than eight. We avoid Provinos on the weekends because this is when you generally experience the longest wait times.

To begin each meal, salad is provided that comes with gorgonzola beans, beets, tomato wedges and covered with shredded mozzarella cheese. I personally don’t care for the beets so I pick around those. The salad is all you can eat, as are the garlic rolls. Caution: the garlic rolls are dangerously addictive. Make sure that you hang on to some though to stuff into your to-go box!

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Sausage

Sausage

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Meatballs

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Sautéed Mushrooms

Our favorite is an unlisted menu item called The Cody Special. The Cody consists of angel hair pasta, your choice of shrimp or chicken, and a mix of marinara and Alfredo sauce that is covered with cheese and baked. You can also add sausage or meatballs to your dish as well. It comes with sautéed mushrooms, but we always get these on the side. The portion size is HUGE! We normally cannot finish it off and have the rest for lunch the next day although sometimes it never survives the night! On this night though, we decided to share a single portion and found it to be fully satisfying.

Melanie selected the meatballs to accompany her meal and I chose the sausage for mine. You just cannot go wrong here! Everything is cooked to perfection. The sausage is definitely far too spicy for Melanie’s delicate palate but I was in heaven.

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Still reeling from the guilt of having dessert at The Diner at Sugar Hill, and feeling that just-right fullness, we chose not to have dessert with our meal that night.

Provinos is a sure bet for Italian if you’re around South Gwinnett, Snellville, Grayson or Loganville. There is also another location near the Mall of Georgia but we haven’t been there yet. Guten appetit!

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