Saturday, October 26, 2013

DJ's Hotdog Company

A couple weekends ago, Ian and I wanted to try something different. We had heard about this new place in the Allisonville and 82nd area called DJ's Hotdog Company. We'd driven by it a couple times also, so, we thought we should actually stop in and try it!
DJ's Hotdog Company is an Indianapolis based company with five locations in the Greater Indianapolis Area. They mainly serve hot dogs, brats, and polish sausages, but they also have Italian Beef sandwiches. 

As soon as we walked in the door, we saw the menu above the counter. The menu seemed a little bit on the over whelming side. The print is a bit small. Even Ian said to me, "Can you read that? I can't really see it!" As we waited for the people in front of us to order, we tried to read the menu. There's a beautiful skyline cut out on the main wall. The menu is back on the wall behind the counter. The person behind the counter, whom I'm assuming is the manger, started talking to us right away. He saw me taking pictures, and said, "That's what you want a picture of!" while pointing to the skyline above the counter. When we got up to the counter, he asked us if we had ever eaten at DJ's before, and we said no. He started explaining the menu to us. He showed us the different sizes of hot dogs, which there are two: original and jumbo.  He told us about the three different kinds of buns.  There's the plain, the poppy seed, and the pretzel bun to choose from.  (That takes us to America's latest obsession with the pretzel bun, but that would be a whole different blog entry!) He also talked about their Italian Beef sandwiches, and how great they are! He was really helpful in helping us understand every aspect of the menu and making sure we ordered something we would enjoy.
Many of the hot dog styles are named after cities, like the Chicago Style, Kansas City Style, and New Jersey style. 
Ian with his Meal
Ian ordered the San Antonio Dog on a pretzel bun. The hot dog was the jumbo size. He got a side of fries. The San Antonio dog has on it chili, nacho cheese, and jalapenos. It's a little on the messy side. Ian ate it with a fork. The chili on this hot dog is really chili, not a coney sauce. The jalapenos give the hot dog a spicy kick! He really liked this hot dog!
A Closer Look at the San Antonio Dog
The Crinkle Cut Fries
  The fries were O.K. They were normal crinkle cut fries. I'll come back to the fries later.
  I got the New York hot dog, jumbo size, on a pretzel bun. The New York comes with spicy mustard and sour kraut. I really enjoyed this hot dog. I love good sour kraut! Even though the kraut may have been a little on the over cooked side, it didn't hurt the flavor of this hot dog. The pretzel bun made for a slightly chewier texture. The hot dogs at DJ's are all beef. This made for a quality product.
The Onion Rings
The sad thing about the sides is, I saw the cook pull out the Gordon Food Services bag after I ordered them. I would have skipped the onion rings had I known they weren't going to be anything special.  As Robert Irvine always says on "Restaurant Impossible," FRESH IS BETTER! Ian's fries came from a GFS also. After eating my onions rings anyway, I said to Ian that, if I had known, I would have ordered two small hot dogs of different varieties and and skipped the onion rings! 
I give DJ's Hotdog Company 2 and 3/4's pizza pies out of 4. We'll go back! I will definitely skip the side items and will just be getting a sandwich or two next time we go.  The price for two people ended up being close to $20, with two sandwiches, two sides, and two drinks. This feels a little on the high side for me, being that they are selling hot dogs, all be it they are "gourmet" hot dogs. The person that greeted us at the counter was kind and helpful. He gave us great customer service!
Since we are fans of Portillo's in Chicago, it's hard not to compare. The concept for DJ's Hotdog Company is basically the same, but I don't think there's anything else close to what DJ's does in the Indianapolis Area.
DJ's is worth checking out! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cauliflower Pizza Crust "Experiment"

Lately, I've been trying to do a low sugar/low carb diet.  I was trying to find ways to still have pizza while practicing this! One suggestion I found online was Cauliflower pizza crust.

Ingredients for Crust
2 12 oz. Bags Frozen Cauliflower
1 Egg
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
2-3 Tbl Olive Oil (Or More)
1/2 Cup Mozzarella
Pizza Toppings
*Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

"Riced" Cauliflower
First I started out by ricing my cauliflower. This was no easy task! I started by cooking my cauliflower in the microwave and draining off the water, as suggested.  Then, original blog I read said to use a blender or food processor.  My blender was not strong enough! The bottom next to the blades was mush, and the top got no processing what so ever.  So, then I moved to chopping up the cauliflower by knife.  I did this for almost ten minutes!  I did this until I thought the pieces started looking small enough... or how about, I gave up when I got tired of doing this by hand!

Mixing the Crust Ingredients
After accomplishing the "ricing" of the cauliflower and I use that term loosely, I put all of my crust ingredients in a bowl to mix them.  Those ingredients were: egg, about a table spoon of the olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and the 1/2 cup of mozzarella.  This is were I probably failed.  With the two about 12 oz bags of cauliflower, I tripled the amount of that ingredient.  I did not triple the amount of every other ingredient, however.  This is probably why my dough did not form into a "crust" very well.
Crust Mixture
This is what my "dough" looked like mixed together.  I was a bit weary at this point!  It did not look anything like dough was supposed to look like.
Pan Prep
I'm using Stoneware to make my pizza.  I brush on olive oil to prep it before putting on my dough mixture.  You can use a cooking spray of some sort, but I personally prefer the olive oil to any kind of cooking spray.  If I wanted to, I could have used the crust trick on this, but I wanted to try the original dough without adding anything extra to it.  I kind of with I had done the crust trick now! Maybe the extra garlic would have subtracted or masked some of the cauliflower's flavor. 
Crust Mixture in Pan
I used the back of a spatula to press my crust mixture into my pan.  I tried to make sure there weren't any visible holes in the mixture, to make sure my toppings wouldn't leak through later. 
Cooking the Crust
I put the crust mixture in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes.  Then, I checked it and gave it a couple more.  I probably could have left it in there up to 25 minutes due to the large pan size.  The crust came out sizzling!  This is probably because of the amount of olive oil I used. 
Topping Time!
I started by putting a freshly made basil pesto on half of my crust and a small can of tomato paste on the other half of my crust.  
Add more cheese please!
I add the rest of the bag of cheese I started the recipe with, and I probably added more, knowing me.  
I topped my pizza with bacon and tomato, two of my favorite toppings!  When in doubt, always add bacon! After get all of the toppings onto the pizza, then, I placed them under the broiler on High until the cheese was all bubbly and starting to brown.  

After the "pizza" was done, this is what it looked like.  I wouldn't really call this a pizza though.  I would put it more in the realm of a pizza bake or pizza casserole.  Also, because of the amount of olive oil I used in the crust, on the pan, and in the pesto, it was a bit on the oily side, even though I love olive oil!  The oiliness didn't really bother me that much, but it may bother someone else. 
I give this "pizza" a half pizza pie out of four.  I can say I've tried this once.  I probably will not be making this again, unless someone tells me they've found an awesome recipe for it! 
On top of that, maybe I should have followed the recipe more closely instead of improvising, but I can't help it!  I'm an improviser!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Route 66 Diner in West Lafayette, IN

The Route 66 Diner in West Lafayette, IN is owned by the same people that own and operate the Triple XXX on the famous Chauncey Hill at Purdue University. If you don't know about the Triple XXX, maybe you  live under a rock, or maybe you don't watch "Diners, Drive-Ins, Dives" on the Food Network.  The Triple XXX opened the year my dad was born, 1929.  The Route 66 Diner opened in 2003.  (Wow! I didn't know it had been around for that long!)  My family was craving a good burger on Mother's Day, so, we immediately thought of the Triple XXX.  But we started to think about it, and realized, we didn't know if our mother, who's 79 would want to sit at a diner counter.  So, we called Triple XXX about the seating, and they recommended their Route 66 Diner, which has real tables and chairs.
The other nice thing, it's about three minutes from my mom's apartment! (Which we turned into a healthy ten minute drive! HAHAHAHA!)
Silverware in a Oil Can
We got there and were greeted by a kind hostess.  She seated us, and left our silverware in a can on the table and gave us our menus.
The Menu
The menu has a lot of choices.  They serve everything from burgers to what Indiana is famous for, tenderloins!  The server came up and took our order.  She was really nice.

 Root Beer in a Frosty Mug
One thing the Triple XXX restaurant is known for is Root Beer! When you order a root beer at the Triple XXX, it is served in a great big frosty mug!  Everyone at our table ordered the root beer for their beverages. 
Deep Fried Mushrooms with Mayo
As an appetizer, my sister ordered the deep fried mushrooms. They came with a side of mayo.  I ordered a side of ranch to dip them in.  I don't know why the diner serves Miracle Whip as a dipping sauce, but it didn't sound very good to me. The mushrooms must have been they only "frozen" food on the menu. I don't know if this is a new item they are trying out, or something they have always served.  It's not something they are famous for, as far as I know.  The outside was cooked so crispy, but the inside, or the mushrooms were blah.  They were hard to bite into, and they were a ball of mush on the inside of the breading.  They mushrooms are something I can skip the next time we go. 
Ian's Meal... on a Frisbee
Instead of the normal baskets that are shown on the restaurant's web site, our meals were brought out on yellow frisbees. I didn't realize that's what they were. So, when the server came to take our trash, she said, "You get to keep that!"

 The Bernie Flowers Pro.
My Mom ordered the Bernie Flowers Pro. She ordered hers with onion rings. That burger is "a 1/4 lb. of 100% ground sirloin with onion, lettuce, tomato and Miracle Whip served on a toasted sesame seed bun."
The Triple XXX seems to have a thing for Miracle Whip. It's not only on their burgers, but comes with the mushrooms as mentioned above! 

 Michael with his Biscuits and Gravy
This restaurant serves breakfast all day long!  Michael got an order of biscuits and gravy with a side of onion rings!  That sounds pretty awesome to me! 

 The Bert Burger: Look at the Bacon!!!
I ordered the Bert Burger: A 1/4 lb. of our delicious 100% ground sirloin covered with American cheese with 2 strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato, and Miracle Whip on a toasted sesame seed bun. (From their web site)  The bacon was the best best part of this sandwich! I don't think that getting a burger here was much different from getting a good burger at most restaurants or even making them at home.  (I do that a lot!) The onion rings were pretty good.

Root Beer Cake with Ice Cream
They had a sign up that said, "Try our Root Beer Cake!"  So, we did! That suggestive selling worked.  We got two pieces of cake, and split them between the five of us.  Most of the "root beer" flavor was the syrup that was drizzled on top of the cake.  The actual cake itself was not overly root beer flavored. It was more of a spice cake! I tried it once.  That was probably enough for me.  I just hoped the root beer flavor was more consistent through the cake. Also, if it's a drizzle, why not drizzle it on top of the ice cream too?  Just an idea. 
I give the Route 66 Diner 2 and  a half pizza pies out of four.  Going there was an enjoyable experience.  We could actually sit at a real table with my mom.  The food was on the so so side. Maybe if we had gone to the real Triple X, this would have been a completely different experience.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Melting Pot or Our Engagment Story

Sorry for no posts last for the last month, but my month has been crazy!  My mind was not exactly on my blog!  Here's why: 
On April 6th, 2013, Ian decided we would go to the Melting Pot to celebrate our third anniversary.  He made a reservation ahead of time. When we got there a couple minutes ahead of schedule, we did have too wait in their little waiting area.  Usually, when we go, the wait isn't too long though.  This time, the wait was probably around five to ten minutes.  Ian was acting a little nervous, but not overly nervous.
When we were seated, they took us to a little private room/table that had a curtain to separate us from the rest of the world.  We had sat at the same table last year on Valentine's Day.

When we sat down at the table, this is what it looked like.  As soon as you get seated, the hostess will turn on the burner that's on the table to warm up the cheese pot.  We were then handed menus.  This is when we discovered they had completely changed their pricing structure.  We usually order the Big Night Out meal for two.  Well, now, all of the meals/meat dishes/main dishes are priced by person.  This worried us a little at first.  Then, we started adding it up, and it turns out to be pretty close to the same price per couple. The server took our drink order first.  She went and got those, and after, took our order for dinner.

We started with the Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue.  It is so good!  It has Fontina and Butterk√§se cheeses, spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic.  When you eat at the Melting Pot, the server mixes all of the ingredients for the cheese fondue at your table.  I asked our server if she's doing her own personal cooking show every time she mixes the cheese. She laughed at me and said, "Not really!" Usually, you have to wait a few minutes for it to get completely melted.
With the cheese come things to dip in it, of course!  Here are tortilla chips, bread, veggies, and green apples.  The green apples are amazing in the cheese!  The other things didn't stay on the fondue forks very well, but still taste extremely good!

Caesar Salad
Ian had the Caesar Salad. From the web site: 
Caesar SaladCrisp romaine lettuce, shredded Parmesan cheese, crispy croutons and an added touch of Parmesan-encrusted pine nuts, tossed with Caesar dressing.
It is really good.  It had a really tasty dressing on it, and the croutons are crunchy with a great garlicky flavor. 
I had the California Salad.  From the web site:
California Salad
Mixed baby salad greens, Roma tomatoes, candied pecans and Gorgonzola cheese with Raspberry Black Walnut Vinaigrette.
I love this salad!  The cheese is just perfect with the tomatoes and the dressing.  I truly love the candied pecans!  They make this entire salad!  I'm pretty sure that's why I order it every time we come here.
While your finishing your salad, the server will bring out the broth in the cooking style you choose.  The broth needs to come to a full boil before you can start cooking the meats.  That's why there's so much steam! We chose the Mojo style.  The Mojo style is "Caribbean-seasoned bouillon with a distinctive fresh-garlic flavor and a citrus flair." I usually like this one because it has the "citrus flair."  You can watch the server squeeze the orange into the broth at the table.
If you didn't know, your main dish comes to your table raw.  Remember, this is part of the experience!  When the server brings the raw meat to the table, she gives a speech about not touching the raw meat with the fork you are going to eat it with, and definitely don't let it touch your cooked food plate!  When the meat and veggies plate gets to the table, we immediately throw the veggies in the broth.  They will need to cook longer than the meat will.  The plate feature here is the Fondue Delight.  This has "Premium filet mignon and a succulent cold water lobster tail paired with all-natural breast of chicken, Pacific white shrimp, and wild mushroom sacchetti."
You can see here, the veggies are cooking, and I've put my first to skewers of meat in to cook.  The butter for the lobster is left on or close to the heating element on the table to get and stay warm. 
Having so many meat options on one plate can get over whelming. There are also four or five different sauces to dip them in.  I think my favorite is the Green Goddess. It's a yogurt based dip with a few different spices in it.  When you are doing this, you are cooking the meat to your preferred doneness.  I usually just let mine cook until they are Well done!
They give you these cute little plates so you can keep your food separate.  Here, I have the Greek Goddess, an Asian sweet and sour, and a teriyaki type sauce.  I have shrimp, beef, mushroom, and chicken on the plate.
The chocolate is phenomenal at the Melting Pot! If you just want to go there for dessert some night, it is totally worth it! We ordered the Ying Yang chocolate, which is white and dark chocolate together.  You can order milk instead of dark, but we chose dark. 

Before the rest of the dessert came out, Ian got really nervous!  He started saying, "The last three years have been great!"  Then, he said, "I'm just gonna do it!"  He got down on one knee, and said, "Will you marry me?!"
I thought he was going to hyper ventilate! I said yes!
This is the ring!  I love it! 

The server rushed out afterward and said, "Is there cause for celebration?"  We said yes! Then, she brought out a champagne to toast! And the rest of our dessert!
The things that come out on the dessert plate to dip are awesome!  You get strawberries, bananas, cheese cake, rice crispy treats, brownies, red velvet cake, and marshmallows with cookie crumbs on them.  I think my favorites are the marshmallows and rice crispy treats!  The Ying Yang chocolate is awesome!  I would recommend that one to anyone! 
Going to the Melting Pot is definitely an experience!  If you choose to do the whole shebang, it's totally worth it!  We go maybe once or twice a year to celebrate an occasion.  Of course, this was an extremely special occasion!
It is extremely pricey, at least in my opinion.  It ends up being around $100 for the full four course meal for two people, plus if you get drinks, it goes up.  Then, you have the tip on top of that.
I give this restaurant 4 pizza pies out of 4. Don't doubt it until you try it.  You may say, "If I wanted to cook my own dinner, I can do that at home!"  (I've had people tell me this!)  But it really is about the experience!
 After Dinner
We are super excited about the engagement! Thank you to the Melting Pot for facilitating our engagement evening!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Making Deviled Eggs Using the Oven Baking Method

I've been craving Deviled Eggs ever since Easter last week.  That would be the normal day I would eat them, but we went to Ian's Family Easter, and they had pickled beats and eggs, but not deviled eggs.  I'll have to make a mental note to bring them myself next year!
I tried a new way of making my eggs.  I baked them in the oven instead of boiling them! I started with the instructions from this blog. I decided to go with the higher heat of 350 degrees, because my eggs had just come out of the refridgerater.  I was afraid they wouldn't get done at 325.  (You can see how perfect her eggs turned out!)
Here's how mine turned out.
Eggs in the Cupcake Tin
I started by putting my eggs in the cupcake tin and putting them in the oven at a 350 degree temp.  I set my timer for 30 minutes, and went away! 
Brown Speckled Eggs!
When my timer went off, I went to get them out of the oven.  This is how they looked!  
Cold Water Rinse
I imediately put them under cold water.  The blog I was using said to use ice in the water, but I skipped it.  I just let the water run for about 3-5 minutes.  Then, I left them sit in the bowl for about twenty minutes. 
Then, I started peeling them. 
Burned Eggs?
Once I started peeling them, I started seeing the brown spots.  I panicked!  What the heck?!  Are they burned?  The original post I looked at had none of this!  I decided to look at another Pinterest post where there were the "Alton Brown" instructions to make the eggs.  In this post, she explains that that eggs will have brown spots on the shells and on them when they are peeled!  This eased my mind a little! So, I decided to forge ahead and make deviled eggs!
*From now on, I'll stick with the 325 degree oven temp. 
12 Hard Boiled Eggs (Or even baked!)
1/2 Cup of Whipped Salad Dressing (Miracle Whip!)
2 tsp Yellow Mustard
2 tsp Vinegar
2 pinches Sweetner (Sugar if you prefer) 

Yolks Separated from Whites
First I dried the eggs off with a paper towel.  Then, I separated the egg yolks into a bowl, and put the whites onto my pretty tray... that's for only six eggs.  But hey, I'm making it work! I mean, why would someone only make 6 deviled eggs?!  Why did I not notice if was only for six when I got it off of the clearance rack?!  They answers, we may never know! 
Mashed up Yolks
First I mashed up the yolks with a fork.  You can mash them to the consistantsy you like!  My sister even does this whole process in her food processor.  This may be one of the secrets of hers I'm not supposed to tell, along with the whole, using Miracle Whip is always better for deviled eggs than mayo! Oops... hope she doesn't mind! 
Ingredients in the Bowl
I am not a good ingredient measurer!  I learned the hard way that, deviled eggs need to be pretty close to exact, or they turn out pretty awful!  I mean, get just too much vinegar or mustard and these, and it's hard to correct! Put all of the ingredients in the bowl except for the Paprika.
Mix together with a Fork
My preferred method of mixing this is with a fork!  Then, if I need to get a few of the bigger lumps out, I can.  Take a little taste after it's mixed, and adjust as needed.
Sandwich Bag Method
If you want to get all fancy smancy, get out a cake icing decorating bag and a pretty tip.  Put your egg yolk mixture in there, and fill the eggs.  I, on the other hand, didn't want to dirty a cake icing decorating bag this morning.  So, I put my mixture into a sandwich bag. I cut a small hole in the tip of the bag.
Filling the Eggs
I filled the eggs whites with the egg yolk mixture by squeezing/piping it onto each egg.  If you don't want to even get that fancy, spoon the mixture into the eggs! 
Deviled Eggs
Here's what my deviled eggs looked like when they were filled.  They actually turned out really good!  
I personally like paprika on my deviled eggs.  It's mostly for decoration.  It doesn't change the flavor a lot.  I have an aunt that likes to put red pepper on her deviled eggs.  The sad thing is, paprika and red pepper look exactly alike when on an egg in the middle of the buffet table, but taste completely different! My mom and sister would always warn me when she brought the eggs to the family parties, "Remember, that's PEPPER!"  
These eggs are going to go really well with our left over Easter ham from last week!  I can't wait!