Places We Love: George’s

I tried to put this off as long as I could but any discussion regarding our favorite places in Waco couldn’t avoid George’s for long.  Aside from being a classic Waco institution honored in song by Pat Green, George’s is a fantastic place to hang out with your friends, or make some brand new ones.

The menu contains a wide array of options and everyone from our crew has a different favorite.  Thus far, I haven’t managed to find anything less than satisfying.

My mother, something of a chicken fried steak enthusiast (which is surprising considering her slight frame) insists on eating at George’s whenever she visits.  My sister – the vegetarian – was a little less excited until she turned 21 and found joy in a “Big O” of Dos Equis with all the dressings (Leah’s favorite too).

Aaron – my roommate, sometimes coworker, and general Olive Branch cohort – loves the Crazy Wings so much that he makes his own for Baylor tailgates.  Who could resist pieces of chicken breast stuffed with jalapenos and cheese and then wrapped in bacon?  Anna prefers them as Bear Bites, which are simply half a Crazy Wing stuffed inside a dinner roll.

Danny lives in Hewitt and loves their second location out there.  With the outdoor deck, it’s a fantastic place to hang out on a summer night.  And when it was Jonathan’s turn to cook for family dinner… well he took us to George’s and paid for everyone’s appetizers.  No one complained that he had cheated because we were too happy to be at George’s Bar and Restaurant with all our friends.

Whenever we want to get together for dinner or just to have a beer, George’s always get mentioned at least once – and usually more than that.

Cooking to Impress: Chicken with Goat Cheese

This past year, we have started doing “Family Dinner” each week, something Leah explained in detail before revealing her delicious dark chocolate and coconut cookie recipe.

 

So my first time through, I made my go-to dish, the already-covered Penne a la Vodka.  There are a few other dishes in my arsenal, but nothing that would be easy to serve to 7-8 people.  So I started digging.

 

I wanted something that would stand up to all the outstanding food everyone else has made, but was also easy enough for me to make after my once-every-other-week chemistry lab. (I promise I washed my hands afterward!) I settled on my mother’s chicken with goat cheese, toasted almonds, and roasted peppers. Honestly, I don’t care for peppers with this dish and I picked them off as a child so when it came my turn to cook, I didn’t include them. I’ve kept them in the recipe for anyone who might like them.

Final-Pic

Chicken with Goat Cheese

 

1 bell pepper

4 oz. goat cheese, cut into 8 slices

Toasted sliced almonds

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. chopped shallots

1 tsp. garlic

½ cup white wine

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried, crumbled

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

 

Toast almonds: place in heavy ungreased pan over medium heat and stir until lightly browned.

 

Place chicken breast(s) between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

 

Preheat broiler. Arrange pepper on baking sheet and broil until skin blackens. Place in a plastic bag and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove, peel peppers and cut into strips.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 2 Tbsp. olive oil in fry pan and cook chicken just until cooked through, about 4 minutes a side. Transfer chicken to a foil covered baking sheet.

CGCZ-CHX

Top with pepper strips, cheese rounds and toasted almond slices. Bake chicken just until cheese is heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plates.

CGCZ-chxpan - Copy

Meanwhile, heat remaining ¼ cup olive oil in the fry pan over high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add wine and rosemary and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

CGCZ-Sauce

Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

 

Places We Love: Vitek’s and Uncle Dan’s

While listing out all the local places I love, I came to an impasse: Vitek’s? or Uncle Dan’s? The question about whose barbecue is best surfaces occasionally, becomes a heated debate, and then disappears as the individuals become preoccupied with eating the barbecue of their choice.

On one hand, you have the tender, delicious brisket and ribs at Uncle Dan’s. Everything is cooked to perfection and the barbecue sauce rocks. On the other hand, you have the Gut Pak – the undisputed king of college eats – and all of Vitek’s fantastic homemade sausage. Aaron loves the sausage so much he drove out to Vitek’s to add it to his gumbo for family dinner.

 

We watched the Baylor-Wisconsin game on the Vitek's patio.  Aaron refused to pretend to be happy.

We watched the Baylor-Wisconsin game on the Vitek’s patio. Aaron refused to pretend to be happy.

How do I decide where to go? Honestly it just depends on which side of town I’m on. Is that a cop-out? Sort of. But I’m just a man who loves good food – something Vitek’s and Uncle Dan’s both have in spades.

Cooking To Impress: Panko Crusted Tilapia

Ben is continuing his series of “cook to impress” recipes.  This sounds delicious and perfect for any quick, but impressive, meal! I agree with his observation that salmon can be tricky.  It is delicious, but its naturally pink color can cause doubt as to the fish’s “doneness,” especially for a casual cook.  It is also a rich fish with a strong taste.  Finding sides to pair it with can make a difference in the success of a meal with salmon as the star.  I love Ben’s choice of Tilapia for this recipe.  You guys enjoy!

-Leah

 

So early on while Anna and I were discussing our favorite foods, she mentioned that she really loves fish – particularly salmon and tilapia.  In my experience, salmon can be pretty tough to work with.  Despite what my mother and others may say, I feel it can be unforgiving and I’ve never had much success.  However, I’ve had quite a bit of success working with tilapia (and it’s cheap!)

So, the first time I made tilapia for Anna I went with one of my grandmother’s old standbys in her rainbow trout recipe, then made a few modifications of my own.

Panko Crusted Tilapia   (serves 2)

2 Tilapia filets

Panko-style bread crumbs

Seasoning Salt (Once again, I put Tony’s on everything)

4 tablespoons butter

Lemon juice

Dill

Til-Panko+HandTil-Panko+Fish

Pour panko crumbs onto plate and roll filet in them.  I really press down to get the crumbs to stick to the fish.  Once they’re coated in the crumbs, place them both in a properly sized baking pan.  Add the seasoning salt on top of the filets to taste.

Melt the butter in a bowl, and then add lemon juice to taste.  Pour the lemon butter over the filets in the pan, and then place the dill on top.

Til-Butter+FishTil-Oven

Bake the tilapia for 8-10 minutes or until it’s flaky when you cut into it.

I like to serve it alongside any kind of rice or couscous. (Yes, you can buy it from a box at the store.  Not every single thing has to be from scratch in order for your lady to love it!)

Til-Finish