Kincaid’s Hamburgers: Serving Up Responsibly Fried Nostalgia

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If you’re like me, you’re always looking for the next great burger joint.  Somewhere you can go to get a quality meal at a decent price and still feel good about yourself after you’ve inhaled the bun.  Look no further, Kincaid’s Hamburgers has 6 locations in Texas.  I would be willing to bet all are covered in nostalgic signs and welcoming red and white checkered table cloths that beckon you to sit and get ready for meal reminiscent of what food used to be.

I’ll have to admit, the red, white, and green color scheme at the Arlington location started growing on me. It just works somehow.

In case you’re wondering, I almost solely devoured all of the fried goodness in front of me with little to no help from Danny. The fried okra tasted so fresh and reminded me of my Nana’s that still comes farm fresh from her garden to her table.

Kincaid’s takes pride in the food that they serve from their high quality beef to their incorporation of local ingredients.  Burger lovers rejoice because here you can get your guilt-free beef fix thanks to their daily fresh ground U.S.D.A. choice chuck. The beef is vegetarian-fed, hormone, antibiotic, and preservative free!  Just like grandma and grandpa used to make…okay, maybe it’s more like great grandma and great grandpa by now, what with all the preservatives and quick-fixes that have been introduced into society generation by generation.

Kincaid’s Jr. Cheeseburger made with 1/4 lb. of vegetarian-fed, hormone, antibiotic and preservative free beef!

The quality ingredients all come together on a slightly toasted bun to produce one tasty burger.  You can even tell that the cheese is real….no slick, vegetable oil based cheese-like creation here.  This is the good stuff.  The price also seemed reasonable and Danny and I would have been able to get out of there for a fairly decent price had I not wanted to order one of everything, as I have tendencies to do.  Between the burger, okra, fries, specialty deviled egg, and banana pudding, I created quite a meal.

Deviled eggs, a Kincaid’s specialty. Packaged in two’s (only $.99) and ready to be devoured. Sweet and savory at the same time.

Banana Pudding

The banana pudding was good and had minimal bananas, which is always a plus for those of us that are a little allergic.  There was a thick enough consistency and the extra layer of vanilla wafers was a nice surprise as I dug my spoon into the bottom of the bowl.  The pudding was good, but not mind blowing.  I think in this case, I’d choose a deviled egg over the banana pudding if given a choice.  Perhaps next time I’ll try one of their fried pies instead.

I am always looking for restaurants that think a step ahead and choose high quality ingredients over cheaper food and larger profit margins.  Kincaid’s is definitely one of these such restaurants.  Hopefully more and more restaurant owners will discover that doing the best thing for animals, people, and the environment alike is not only responsible, but profitable.  I support these places whenever I can and hope I can help inspire others to do the same and think before they eat.  Next time you are craving a thick, juicy burger, try Kincaid’s or do an Internet search for another restaurant that makes conscious food choices…your body, and our environment will thank you.

What to Order:

1.  Fried Okra

2.  Cheeseburger – try the 1/4 Jr. size if you’re not that hungry….or to save room to try other items like I did.

3.  Deviled Egg

The Age-Old Question, What’s for Dinner? Revamped.

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When Danny gave me the opportunity to pick “anything I want” for dinner, as he often does, I had the usual “Oh-goodness-no” response.  Then it’s followed by a complete and overwhelming feeling.  I mean, what does someone mean when they say, “Pick anything you want for dinner and I’ll make it.”  Are we talking, tacos or spaghetti, or some other item in the usual repertoire?  Am I supposed to know what we have on hand and pick something practical?  Is he wanting me to find a new recipe?  Oh, the pressure!  And then I always think, “How does he think I have time to do make a decision like this while I’m at work?”  I take my food-related decisions quite seriously and they can be time consuming to get it just right and try to please several palates.  Anyone that knows me, knows that at work…I work.  My brain is completely engulfed in whatever task I’ve got in front of me and I spend typically zero amount of time thinking about home-related issues and this includes dinner.  So these are the kinds of topics that are left to fight about when you marry someone like Danny, the fact that he wants me to tell him what to cook and I feel like I’m unable or ill-equipped to do so.  Hey, it is what it is.  Every couple must fight about something.

Kelly (Darling, Queen of Smores, Lamb-loving, little sister…not to mention one of the only people I trust dog-sitting my precious Daisy) and I enjoying a glass of Malbec at Terra Mediterranean Grill

On this particular day I thought about who I wanted to come to dinner and let the invited guest’s likes guide me.  What to cook for my sister, Kelly (#3), who just got her first ‘big girl apartment?”  It’s a little bit easier when you look at the menu this way.  Kelly likes meat and veggies and she was quite fond of Terra Mediterranean Grill in Ft. Worth when we took her for dinner not too long ago.  So for Ms. Kelly, Mediterranean food it is!  Nevermind that Danny has not prepared a Mediterranean dish to date; this is just the type of challenge he was looking for when he asked me to pick anything I wanted for dinner.

Danny chose to recreate the best dishes from Terra.  Starting with homemade, organic whole wheat pita.  Here’s a peak at the process.

Organic, whole wheat pita dough rising

Pita dough balls

Ready for the oven

Warm, organic, whole wheat pita bread right out of the oven.  It’s addicting!  It was the perfect compliment to the Baba Ghanouj that Danny whipped up.  Baba Ghanouj is a dip much like hummus but with the additional of eggplant and a few other items.  Danny was quite proud of it, as he managed to remove the paste-like gooeyness and replace it with a smooth and creamy texture that had no resemblance of paste.  I asked him for the recipe, but he is not telling.  This one will remain a secret for now.

Baba Ghanouj and a new (to us) go-to Pinot Noir.  The name automatically gives you permission to indulge any day.

Kelly and I could not get enough of the warm pita and dip, but we managed to save room for the Greek salad and main course….Lamb Kabobs!

Greek Salad – no filler lettuce necessary.  It was super fresh and the type of salad that saves easily for a few days.

Any time a meal starts off with this many fresh vegetables, you know it is going to be flavorful and healthy.  Arrange them along a stick with lamb nestled in between and coat with a sauce based from Greek yogurt and you have a recipe for success.

Lamb Kabobs

Now Kelly is a fan of the lamb.  So much so that when one scrumptious piece shot off of her kabob and landed on the floor, I completely thought she was going to shout 3 second rule and snack it right up.  Fortunately, she was able to show some restraint, at least in front of us anyway 😉

No pictures of Kelly and I on this particular day because dinner was served the best way possible…while we were in our pajamas.  My favorite weeknight dinners will always be the ones where no makeup is required and cotton clothes are mandatory parts of the dress code.  Thankfully, Kelly had no objections either.

It’s not you asking, “What’s for dinner?” at Danny’s Kitchen, he asks you “What do YOU want for dinner?”  When the question is posed to you, you had better have an answer waiting up your sleeve.  If you pause for more than a moment, he just might get out of the cooking mood altogether…and then you’re on your own.  Definitely not ideal for a non-cooking, food-lover like me.

Palio’s Pizza Cafe: Just Might Make Moving Worth It

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I’ve been lied to. Well, maybe not lied to, exactly, but the horrors that awaited me were not adequately portrayed by those that have been there before me. All I can compare it to is the shadow of mystery surrounding what awaits you in childbirth. Women that have given birth seem to feel it is their duty to keep the awful truths under wraps so as not to completely bring humanity to a hault. Perhaps they make you sign something at the hospital? I don’t know, and I’m quite sure I can’t even trust my best friends on this one.

By this time you’re most likely wondering what in the world could possibly be this awful…you see, I moved. I was distracted by the excitement of NEW and DIFFERENT with no regard for the work that it takes to go from the OLD to the NEW. Friends tried to warn me that perhaps letting Danny handle everything with the movers on moving day was perhaps not the best plan. Danny and I talked it out, and we thought that he could surely handle where to put couches, beds, etc. How hard could it be? Sure, for a typical husband this may prove difficult, but I was confident a Super Husband could handle such a task. WRONG.

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-Danny came up with the idea of “clothing cocoons.”  Just wrap the clothes in moving plastic wrap with hanger in tact and tote to your new destination.  Easy and clothes actually stay on the hanger!  He was pleased as demonstrated by his weird grin.

Our best laid plans failed, closing dates were pushed back, and we ended up with a day and a half to get out of our old home and into the new one. Moving took everything we had working 12 hour days, so much so, that we had to call in reinforcements and we are not referring to the movers that we hired. We needed MUCH more help than they could provide…this was a job for….Super Mom. I can’t even describe how wonderfully she came through for us. I’ll just say that anything from packing to unpacking was done, and done with a smile.  I had no idea that I would need so much help just setting up the new place. Not to worry though, Super Mom was there, as well as Kristin (sister #3) to put the kitchen and bathrooms into fully functional (and decorated!) order!

In the middle of moving, I learned that my brain had turned to mush when it came to anything outside of home-related issues. Picking out patio furniture…check. Curtains…check.  Remembering how to perform the most familiar functions at work….ummm…not so much. The first day back to work was awful, as my mind betrayed me time and time again. Gradually, I’m feeling like I’m back in control of my cognitive abilities again.  In summary, moving, much like pregnancy, can mess you up.

When moving, eating becomes more difficult.  Everything you own is packed and the last thing you want to do is make the kitchen messy.  Let’s just say we’ve eaten a LOT of pizza lately.  Good thing for you, it just so happens that it’s led to me discovering the most wonderful pizza place in Mansfield, TX:  Palio’s Pizza Cafe.  This BYOB pizza-delivering restaurant establishment is my new LOVE!  The prices are fantastic, the atmosphere is cozy, the pizza is perfection, and you can bring your favorite wine along with you.  I think I could stop this blog post right here and you would amply get the picture of how amazing I think this place is just from that last sentence.

Serve yourself wine bar

This is a fast casual restaurant where you place your order at the front before you sit down.  They have an every day Manager’s special where you basically buy one gourmet pizza at regular price and get the second one 50% off.  They also have lunch and Mon-Wed dinner specials too.  For two large pizzas we paid about $25, which is not bad for a dinner out for 4 people.  While I was busy working on a Greek salad, Danny took off to the wine bar to serve us up ZY Zin Zinfandel, 2009 Vine Age Series from California (purchased from Oliver’s Fine Foods, which is also in Mansfield).  I am greatly enjoying the sweetness of the Zinfandels (note this is a red wine, not the pink colored wine you might be thinking) and have been supplementing them for Pinot Noirs come lately.

Greek Salad

Palio’s values high quality ingredients and this is evident with each bite.  After researching a bit, I found that chicken is a well-loved topping here and knew that I wanted to try it out so we opted for the Molly’s and The King.

Molly’s:  Roasted chicken, baby spinach, fresh roma tomatoes, oregano, sesame seeds, virgin olive oil, mozzarella, and feta cheese

The King: Pepperoni, sausage, ham, fresh mushrooms, black olives, onions, and red and green peppers

Oh, how I wish there would have been better lighting because these pictures just do not do the pizza justice!  The King pizza was good, but nothing extra special.  The best pizza of the evening award goes to Molly.  Perfection from the crispy bottom of the crust to the slightly chewy top of the crust to the dancing flavors blending with cheeses.  With one bite, you know you will be returning time and time again.  I’ve found myself numerous times trying to figure out an excuse to get to Mansfield to have this pizza…and this is coming from a girl that has just moved and eaten her fair share of slices over the past week.  Palio’s is different.  They prepare their gourmet pizzas in such a way that even if a person has already had pizza for lunch that day, they most likely will still be excited if the option of Palio’s presents itself for dinner.  It’s a great place to sit and catch up with friends over a bottle of wine.  It blows my mind that pizza this good is available for delivery.  Really??!!  The chain establishments in Mansfield should be out of business by now.  No one in their right mind would choose generic old delivery when Palio’s is an option!

The move was exhausting and it will take weeks to recover I’m sure.  If I EVER have to do this again, rest assured I’ll happily follow through with Danny’s move in tradition of having pizza the first night in a new home.  With any luck, it’ll be from Palio’s Pizza Cafe….it just may be the only way to ever get me to move again.

Moving day: My goodness all 3 of us look beat!

What to Order:

1.  Molly’s pizza – if you like chicken on your pizza….or even if you don’t, you might be surprised wit this one!

2.  Greek salad

….and don’t forget to bring your own bottle of wine!

I’d love to know what other items people have tried and loved?  I’ve only been once, but I’m sure I’ll be back time and time again 🙂

Weekly Traditions

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Who needs to wait til the holidays to start a family tradition that can add bits of happiness all year long? Not Mrs. Jean (Bambi as she’s known to her grandchildren–a.k.a. Danny), she’s the kind of person that carries the Christmas spirit year-round. She happily shares meals with her loved ones every chance she gets, which lately has been every Thursday afternoon.

Weekly lunches are a recently added tradition in Danny’s family thanks to his grandmother. The freshly prepared menu changes weekly (prepared by chef Bambi herself) and the guest list can go from exclusive to extensive with the drop of a hat. Reservations are recommended, although thankfully not strictly enforced, which is how I was able to attend one such recent Thursday lunch. Danny and I didn’t feel too badly about showing up on short notice since this weekly lunch took place at Kolache Depot Cafe and Bakery in Ennis, rather than Bambi’s Kitchen.

Left to right: Jean (“Bambi”), Donald, Dylan, Nancy, and Danny

Czech last names beautifully displayed on the walls of Kolache Depot Cafe and Bakery

The Kolache Depot (and Ennis) has ties to the Czechloslovakian community as pictured in the surname display at the restaurant. Not everyone in Ennis is Czech (I’m 50%), but if you live in the town, you’ve been influenced by the culture at least to some degree. There is something kind of neat about seeing your family’s last name up on the wall. The display is a nice way to make the community feel welcome.

Chicken Pot Pie was one of the specials of the day, as well as a loaded baked potato.

Loaded Baked Potato

The Greek Salad is also one of their better salads and can be ordered solo or in combination with a soup of half of a sandwich.

Greek Salad

My favorite salad is the Strawberry Almond Salad. Avocados, grapes, almonds, and strawberries all combine quite nicely. I paired it with a toasty panini filled with melted cheese and I was quite pleased. The Margherite was a nice grown-up grilled cheese.

1/2 Strawberry Almond Salad and 1/2 Panini Margherite with mozzarella cheese, roma tomatoes and basil pesto on sourdough

Now for the main reason I love Kolache Depot….their homemade banana pudding! It is fluffed to the perfect consistency, not too runny and more like a custard or greek yogurt texture with a few banana slices (which is lovely since I’m mildly allergic to them), a vanilla wafer crust at the bottom, and it is topped with airy whipped cream. It is banana pudding that is as good as ice cream, and you know for me, this is saying a lot! I stop in as often as possible to pick up individual servings to-go. They also make a Kahlua Chocolate Pudding that would delight any chocolate lover. If you ever had a reason to go to Ennis, it is now. These puddings are worth a special trip any day of the week! Be sure to check their hours on the website, though, it would be just too disappointing to miss out.

Here it is in all its homemade custard glory….BANANA PUDDING!!!!

Hope this inspires you to start your own weekly family tradition. There is no need to wait until the holidays to start making the memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks, Bambi!

Where to Go/What to Order:

Thursday afternoon (or Wednesday, it looks like they’e switched days per grandson request) at Bambi’s of course, for whatever she’s serving up for the day. For those of you that aren’t on the Thursday family meal plan…

Kolache Depot Cafe and Bakery:

1. BANANA PUDDING! Buy lots of this stuff. Pick it up and take it to a friend’s house to share, purchase it in lieu of making dessert for dinner…the options are endless.

2. Strawberry Almond Salad

3. Margherite Panini

Restaurant Week at Abacus: No Math Skills Required

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Hooray!  It’s Restaurant Week in Dallas!  A time when top notch restaurants flaunt their stuff and lure you in to their establishment with promises of three course meals all for the low, low price of $35 per person.  If you don’t believe me, check out the regularly priced menu and you’ll see what a spectacular deal this week is!

First stop, Abacus.  My foodie father-in-law has mentioned his fondness for this establishment, and this alone was enough to land this restaurant at the top of my Restaurant Week to-do list.  Thanks to the goddess of Restaurant Week, my sister Kristin (#3), restaurants were chosen and reservations were made and I did not have to lift a finger.

A producer’s life never stops. Kristin (#3) can do it all commercials, video games, even coordinate Restaurant Week reservations for her siblings…which I’m sure she’d tell you is the most difficult job by far (we can be difficult to manage).

What’s a girl to do when she arrives 30 minutes earlier than her reservation?

I didn’t eat the wasabi peas. I thought about it and I was almost positive they put out the tiny container just for me when I took a seat. Then I thought about all the TV shows I’ve seen in the past where patrons were heckled for eating the “scary bar nuts” and I just decided to pass.

Nope, I didn’t mind a little down time while waiting for my two fabulous sisters to arrive.

Kandace (#2) and a nice glimpse of the restaurant.

Each restaurant that participates in Restaurant Week has their own special “take” on it. At Abacus, we were to choose one small plate, one big plate, and then share a dessert sampler.  Figuring out what to order so we all get a taste, takes a little discussion and negotiating.  For instance, Kandace and Kristin are happy with eating half their plate and then switching plates with each other to finish it off.  Me, on the other hand, well I really don’t like the idea of my plate disappearing.  No big deal to those two, they were happy to take a bite of mine and move on.  I much prefer the “share a bite” over the “split-an-entree-in-half” option.

For small plates, we chose the (1) Pimenton Seared Scallop with Spanish Chorizo, Okra, Texas Tomatoes and Sweet Corn Cream, (2) Crispy Roasted Duck with Garlic White-Anchovy Gnocchi, and the (3) Arborio Rice Crusted Rock Shrimp in a Citrus-Fresno Syrup.  The freshest dish was most definitely the Pimenton Seared Scallop.  It’s hard to get fresher than okra and tomatoes in Texas.

My duck and gnocchi small plate had a nice blend of flavors and just enough to gnocchi to both keep you satisfied and wanting more at the same time.  I could have downed a big plate of this dish in no time.  There was just enough sauce not to dry out the duck; however, it is not my favorite duck dish thus far (if you’re interested, that honor is reserved for Sangria’s).

Choosing our big plate entrees was less complicated.  Steak and Shrimp.  Kristin and Kandace split both thanks to their handy little pass off system.  I got to eat my entire steak plate, plus a bite of Kristin’s amazing Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp and Roasted Poblano-Cilantro Grits.  The shrimp and grits completely reminded me of a casserole and so of course, I was in awe.  There was a mix of poblano and cilantro with a nice sweet pop of corn.  Here’s a bit of extra good news…these grits are standard dinner fare for the restaurant.  If you don’t have Restaurant Week reservations…no worries, you can taste these tasty grits anytime!  If you have never tried grits, I’d recommend starting here.

Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp and Roasted Poblano-Cilantro Grits

The Hickory Grilled Kobe Hanger Steak was cooked to absolute perfection!  At first glance, I could tell Kandace was rethinking her “medium” request.  The steak was way more pink than I’m typically comfortable with too, but (and I’m not quite sure how they do it—actually, everything in the kitchen, as you know, is a mystery to me) it was cooked completely through and perfectly tender.  I’m talking every bite went down smooth, no leftover bits or fat or anything.  Bravo.  If this is what they can do with hanger steak, I can only imagine the heavenly beef that awaits you in their Niman Ranch bone-in filet mignon (now this is a farm-fresh item I’m happy to see on the menu), ribeye, and Kansas City strip that is on their regular menu.  Skip the fingerling potatoes, though.  Nothing special there as they were a little overdone.  The steak, asparagus, and farmer’s cheese were so good you could definitely overlook the potatoes.

Hickory Grilled Kobe Hanger Steak, fingerling potatoes, grilled leeks, roasted asparagus, and farmer’s cheese

Dessert was served up in miniature portions that were perfect for sampling:  Brazos Valley Yellow Grits and Lemon Poundcake in Texas Peach and Roasted Poblano Jam (Kandace was a fan of the jam; however the poundcake was a little grainy, guess that’s from the grits), Frozen Raspberry Parfait (it was discovered that us girls are not a big raspberry fan, so now we know it may be an inherited trait), and the best thing was the Burundi Coffee Ganache, Mocha Sable, and Cocoa Caramel Rice Crispies.

Shared Sampler of Goodies (Sweet Plate)

Favorite dessert of the evening: Burundi Coffee Ganache, Mocha Sable, and Cocoa Caramel Rice Crispies (think more coffee-like than chocolatey)

What makes this dining experience even better is the fact that at today’s meal at Abacus, I was able to feed 21 people with the purchase of my one meal!  The three of us feed 63 people (you know, with the help of the North Texas Food Bank)!  Oh yes, finally eating and doing “God’s work” is synonymous.  Charity work has never tasted so delicious.

What to Order:

1.  Hickory Grilled Kobe Hanger Steak

2.  Roasted Poblano-Cilantro Grits

3.  Pimenton Seared Scallop with Spanish Chorizo, Okra, Texas Tomatoes and Sweet Corn Cream