Tag Archives: grass-fed

Charlottesville, VA cont.

Charlottesville Weekend Part 2 (to check out what we did on Saturday)!

We woke up Sunday morning and although it was a bit chilly out- we went for a run around the UVA campus.  It was so pretty, we ended up walking through and taking some pictures later in the day.  It’s definitely a bit hilly, but it makes for a good workout!

UVA is a public university founded by Thomas Jefferson, and established in 1819.  UVA was the first university that offered specializations such as astronomy, architecture, botany, philosophy and political science.

This is the Rotunda on a beautiful sunny day.  The library was housed in the Rotunda until a fire destroyed the building in 1895.  It was rebuilt twice since then, the second time it was was changed to Jefferson’s original design.

Jefferson’s orginal design revolved around the “Academic Village” which specified the stretch of lawn and the student rooms on both sides.

We walked around a bit and took some pictures, enjoyed the weather and imagined how gorgeous it is here in the fall.

We also stopped by for brunch at Boylan Heights for some brunch.  Although we came to this place for brunch, it actually prides itself on being a gourmet burger restaurant.  The place is very relaxed, with extra seating upstairs.  When we were here there was a mix of college students as well as families with kids.

Although I have not tried the burgers (we’ll have to do this on the next trip down), Boylan Heights gets its beef from organic farms in Virginia.  All of the beef is supplied through The Organic Butcher (traditional butcher in Charlottesville), ground daily and is hormone free, antibiotic-free and grass fed.  You can build your own burger, or try out one of the one’s which they have noted on their menu.

Sam ordered the Eggs and Toast, with a side of the Housebrowns.  The Housebrowns were definitely rich, but so good.  A different and delicious spin on hashbrowns.

The other side you could choose were grits, so I ordered those so we could swap and share.

I ordered the Egg Benedict- the Garden.  It had an english muffin with a poached egg, spinach, mushrooms, black bean corn salsa, goat cheese and a chipotle hollandaise sauce.

I think we’ll have to try making our own hollandaise sauce one Sunday morning.  This was delicious.

After we finished eating, we needed a little walk in order to digest our food.  So we walked around for a bit before getting into our car.

As we walked on Main Street, we saw these adorable pups outside one of the shops:

Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen?!?  I wish our cats would cuddle like that.

We enjoyed our weekend trip to Charlottesville, and have already made plans to come back in the spring or summer.  I’m looking forward to sitting outdoors on the Pedestarian Mall, or walking through the beautiful campus!

A Delicious Birthday Dinner

Over the weekend our friend B* had a birthday, and we decided to treat him to a delicious dinner.  I’ll give Sam all of the credit- this was all done by him! 

Filet Mignon with Bourbon Sauce, Cheesy Shrimp ‘n Grits, and Oven Roasted Broccolini

Oven Roasted Broccolini

This is definitely the easiest part of the meal, but delicious nonetheless.  Roasting (rather than steaming) maintains the crunch, while adding wonderful flavors of caramelization.  Incidentally, substituting with asparagus, brussel sprouts, or baby red potatoes is a scrumptious alternative.

2 bunches of broccolini (regular broccoli works fine too)
Extra virgin olive oil
Bacon Salt®

On a cookie sheet, coat the broccolini (use your hands here) in olive oil and season liberally with the bacon salt.  Add to a preheated, 400° oven for about 15-20 minutes.  Once the broccolini florets begin to brown, remove from the oven and set aside.

Shrimp ‘n Grits

A southern classic!  The deep flavor and richness of this one is certain to impress.

1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb smoked bacon (we bought ours at the Farmer’s Mkt)
½ lb shredded sharp cheddar (we recommend a higher-end cheese, not just the yellow block cheese; ours was from Cowgirl Creamery)
1 cup of dry grits  (instant grits are sacrilege)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, diced (don’t even think about discarding the seeds!)
1 quart whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large pot, bring the milk and butter to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pan cook the bacon until crispy, then set aside on a paper towel to dry.  Roughly chop once cool.  Leave the bacon fat in the pan.

Next, add the onion and peppers to the hot bacon fat and cook until the onions are translucent.  Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the milk.  Add the grits and chopped bacon to the simmering milk as well, whisking occasionally.

Coat the shrimp in salt and pepper and add to the bacon grease for about 4 minutes, or until pink.  Remove them from the grease and stir into the grit mixture.

Once the grits are thick, stir in the cheddar cheese, and season with salt and cracked black pepper.  You can also add more butter if you like.

Filet Mignon with Bourbon Sauce

Filet mignon; that heavenly cut of beef you’ve probably only eaten in restaurants.  Believe it or not, it is surprisingly easy to cook and will rival anything you can find at an expensive steakhouse.  One note: now is not the time to go cheap!  Splurge and get the best, grass-fed, organic meat you can find.  It really does matter.

1 filet per person
2 cups Bourbon
1/2 cup of half-and-half

A half-hour before you plan to cook, season the filets liberally with salt and pepper, and allow them to come to room temperature.

In a very hot skillet, cook the filets for 3 minutes on all sides.  Then add the skillet to a preheated 400° oven for about 6-10 minutes, depending on how rare you like it.  I like to put a slice of butter on top just before I add to the oven.  When done, remove the pan from the oven and set the filets aside on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest.

Bourbon Sauce

First off, let me state that this step involves igniting alcohol vapor and can thus be very dangerous.  Read and familiarize these steps before you begin.  If you’re uncomfortable with dealing with an open flame, substitute the bourbon with a dry, red wine (Chianti works well), which will not ignite.

After you’ve removed your now perfect filets, put your skillet on the cook top and turn your burner off.  Add 2 cups of good bourbon to the hot skillet.  Cover the skillet about ¾ of the way with a pan lid or cookie sheet.  Using a long match, set the alcohol vapor ablaze.  Adjust the pan lid or cookie sheet such that the flame is allowed to burn but that it is not too high.  Turn your burner back on to low.

After about 10 minutes, the alcohol will burn off and the fire will extinguish itself.  If you’re using wine instead, just allow it to reduce by about half, no ignition necessary.

Next, add half-and-half, 1 tablespoon of butter, and a little salt and pepper (about 1 tsp of each) to the bourbon.  Reduce the sauce by about half, whisking occasionally.  When done, plate your finished meal and coat each filet with the rich sauce.

Bon appétit!