Tag Archives: Salad

TK’s is much more than OK

11 Jan

It’s hard to find a restaurant that makes fresh and flavorful American cuisine and bar food favorites without compromising service, quality, or atmosphere. A restaurant that feels like a home kitchen filled with gourmet flavors and concepts but that offers something different from a local self-proclaimed fast-casual concept chain. If simple, good eats is what you’re after, then TK’s Urban Tavern is the place.

TK’s Urban Tavern is a moderately priced casual eatery offering everything from comforting bar classics like mac ‘n cheese to grilled halibut filets that might just put your favorite seafood restaurant to shame. The bar hosts a variety of craft beers, a familiar wine list, and some unique specialty cocktails. The atmosphere is just like a tavern should be – dark wood floors, exposed brick walls, a vaulted ceiling with small spotlights, and floor to ceiling windows for natural light when there is some.

During the warmer months, outdoor seating is located on a small patio and offers guests an even better people-watching vantage point while they enjoy their cuisine. During our visits, the staff and service was truly refreshing and added to the enjoyable and relaxing atmosphere. Every person we encountered, whether one of the friendly owners, Tom Kelly and Brian Pierce, our server, or someone clearing the table, made sure our dining experience was perfect.
Our server treated us like we were all friends hanging out for the first time in years. She welcomed us to the restaurant like we were at her house and she was the one cooking the meals. She answered questions with ease and made us very comfortable – water glasses were always full, and empty plates never lingered.

On one occasion, we chose the barbeque chicken quesadilla. Not being the biggest fan of barbecue flavors, I was skeptical to put something smoky in what should be a spicy Mexican dish. The appetizer came out hot, fresh, and presented in way that you would find at most upscale restaurants. It came with a delicious side of guacamole and had the perfect combination of meat and cheese. This is the kind of quesadilla that requires some fork and knife attention. It’s gooey, messy, and flavorful. Excellent.

Our gang of four ordered the Cobb salad, the pulled pork sandwich, yet another barbeque chicken quesadilla, and an order of the special that night: mahi mahi street tacos.

Admittedly, Cobb salad might not sound like anything fancy; particularly when most dinner salads these days come with five parts greens to one part toppings. TK’s Cobb salad came already tossed with large pieces of tomato, avocado, and tender chicken breast. Bacon, egg, and mild blue cheese crumbles served as the perfect complement to the mixed greens. The salad is served with tasty ranch dressing that beautifully brings the flavors together. While a simple dish, it was a memorable salad.

The fish tacos were a special that night and could be ordered individually or as an entrée. The entrée came with four small tacos. There was some sort of seasoning on the fish that didn’t quite mesh with the other ingredients like theguacamole. But the mahi mahi was grilled perfectly and each street-sized taco was amply filled with fish. The entrée wasn’t large by any means, but enough for one person to be very satisfied.

The pulled pork sandwich is a TK’s Tavern favorite and has made quite a name for itself with frequent visitors. On top of a large toasted baguette comes a heaping portion of pulled pork, topped with Havarti cheese and cold apple slaw. Served up next to this monster sandwich is a mound of homemade French fries and a spicy ketchup accompaniment. Unlike most pulled pork sandwiches, which offer more sauce and mess than meat, this sandwich is all about the protein. And then French fries are hot, crispy, and worth every calorie. Out of the four items we sampled, this was the clear winner and easy to see why it was such a favorite among regular visitors.

Once again too full for dessert, our eyes did happen to glimpse (or maybe stare) at some of the desserts on our neighbors’ tables. We did see a root beer float, served up in a chilled mug with vanilla bean ice cream. And for chocolate lovers, a decadent layered chocolate cake is served with caramel ice cream – and definitely big enough to share.

Overall, we enjoyed our dining experience at TK’s. Even though the restaurant was closing by the time we left, we never felt rushed to order or eat; and we even lingered a bit afterwards. TK’s Tavern is a great place to eat quality food in a relaxed environment. Almost like your best friend had become your very own personal chef, and happened to re-do his living room to look like a dimly lit, yet modern tavern. For lunch, dinner, or happy hour, TK’s Urban Tavern is worth the visit. Your taste buds will thank you.

Chicken Spinach Salad

10 Jan

Sometimes, having leftover chicken in the fridge is the perfect answer to a quick weeknight meal. Simply shred or chop up the chicken breast. Next, add your favorite veggies. I like to add tomatoes and cucumber. If I have it, I’ll add avocado, blue cheese or feta crumbles, and even granny smith apples. You can also add some hard boiled egg too.

We use spinach for our greens, but you can use any that you like. We prefer spinach for the nutrients and health benefits. And for dressing, well that’s when this salad goes from average to amazing.

First swiftly whisk together 2 parts lemon juice with one part olive oil. Next add 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1tsp onion powder, and a dash of pepper. Note, those measurements are for 2 servings for entree sized salads.

You might want to adjust to your own tastes and preferences. We like vinegar, so I tend to add some more towards the end. If you don’t have lemon, you can substitute lime, but it will obviously result in a different flavor. I also added some parsley for additional flavor.

For me, food tastes as good as it looks – so presentation is everything. Even for a quick and simple meal like this. Sure, I could have tossed all the ingredients together. But when I came up with the idea of serving my meat and potato loving husband an entree salad for dinner, I knew I needed a better plan. So a-l-a-cobb-like-salad, I lined the ingredients up in thick, colorful lines. I also used serving bowls as opposed to a regular sized bowl or plate. Picture below is my salad with chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, granny smith apples, and mozzarella cheese (not my first choice, but had no other cheese on hand).

Make your dressing beforehand and let sit while you assemble the salad. Or better yet, make the dressing in the morning and let the flavors incorporate while you’re away. Either way, keep the dressing in the fridge until right before you serve. No one wants soggy lettuce!

This can be a really healthy and light meal too. Its totally refreshing to feast on fresh ingredients like raw spinach and apples and feel full. Let me know how you like it in the comments below. Enjoy!

Recipe Lovers

2-3 cups Shredded or Chopped Chicken Breast
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup of additional toppings (carrots, eggs, avocado, and blue cheese crumbles are my favs)
1 bag fresh spinach (if you can, use the spinach within 2-3 days after purchase for freshness and flavor)

2 Lemons
2 tbsp White Vinegar
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp parsley
Pepper to taste

My Cranberry Holiday Salad

29 Dec

About a week before Thanksgiving, I decided to grab a bag of fresh cranberries at the store. My original thought was to make a cranberry sauce, but that was to easy for me. So I began to look for a recipe that included fresh cranberries and gelatin…because now it was two days before Thanksgiving and I was not going to the store for a package of jello. Luckily I had some orange juice on hand and began my experiment. First, I rinsed the berries.

Before I added the cranberries to a pot, I wanted to let my gelatin bloom. I added three packets of gelatin to 1/2 cup of very cold water. This makes for a super ugly photo. But to show you, it will look like a off-white paste. Don’t stir, just let it sit until you need it.

Next, I added 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Then I added the berries to the water and turned the heat to medium-high.

Once the cranberries started to pop, I added 2 cups of sugar to the mix. I stirred the mixture frequently to make sure the berries were popping right. They don’t make a popping sound, but they will become noticeably softer.

I also added some orange juice to infuse the cranberries as they softened too. I then grabbed some lemon juice and zest to give the sauce some zip as well. It was tangy and perfectly sweet and I was starting to get excited. Now it was time to add the gelatin/water mixture. It will be like a thick paste. Try to get as much of it in the pan as possible. Meanwhile, I only had a can of chopped pineapple on hand. Turns out most recipes call for crushed pineapple. So I crushed it with a wooden spoon…perfect. I reserved the pineapple juice in a glass, in case I needed it later.

Then I chopped up one red apple. I love my apple corer/slicer. If you don’t have one, be sure to invest in a stainless steel model. Plastic just won’t hold up.

I carefully added the apples to the now very full pot of cranberries. I think I needed a bigger pot…what do you think?

After the apples had incorporated into the mixture, I removed the saucepan from the heat and added them to the crushed pineapple.

After stirring the mixture together and tasting it, I felt like it needed something else. So I added the reserved pineapple juice. And then I caught a glance of my homemade marshmallows on the counter. What a great addition!

So I chopped up the marshmellows and added them to the still warm mixture.

So they quickly melted. Whoops. Gotta remember that for next time.

I gave it a final approval taste and poured it into a smaller bowl to refrigerate and jell together. Note to self, buy jello mold for prettier outcome!

After the jello had set overnight, I needed to make sure it came back out. I found a great solution. First, turn on your sink to the hottest that your water will run. Then, fill up a slightly larger bowl with hot water in the sink. Remove the plastic wrap from the jello. Carefully place/hold the bowl of jello in the warm water for about 30 seconds. Then, take an offset spatula, plastic knife, or other long and flexible utensil. Next, place a large, flat plate on top of the bowl. Firmly grasp the bowl and plate with bowl hands, and in one quick, swift, cautious movement, flip the bowl over.

This jello gets better the longer it sets up. We first ate it about 24 hours later. When my husband had it the day after, he liked it more than on Thanksgiving. So if you have a chance to make it more than 24 hours in advance, do it!

Recipe Lovers:

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
3 packets gelatin (4 packets come in one box, usually)
2 cups water
1/2 cup cold water for gelatin
1 can chopped or crushed pineapple, juice reserved
2 cups orange juice
1 red apple
1 tbsp lemon juice
Lemon zest to taste
Marshmallows, optional

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