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Oh I definitely want seconds at Bad Brad’s BBQ!

31 Oct

Written by Kim Cherie Fowlkes

I rarely leave a restaurant completely satisfied and with a smile on my face. My belly was so full when I finished eating that I had to relax before I could get up to walk to my vehicle; which was basically parked at the door. I was stuffed. Probably overstuffed. The outcome here was a total surprise to me and my co-worker Sonya when we took our first bites from our respective food trays that they serve the food on.

Like a lot of restaurants and eateries, I learned of Bad Brad’s on social media and I was immediately interested because of the photos that were posted of delicious looking food. Of course I followed them right away. I really wanted to keep up with what they were doing and when they were doing it. And, now I think I have had my eye on this place for at least 6 months and I decided that I was going to see “Brad” this month; more specifically, this past weekend.

Juicy Smoked Chicken Wings

I probably had looked at the menu once or twice when I initially followed them on “The Gram“. But, this week leading up to my foodie visit I looked again and again. That menu is huge. A huge menu to me is rarely a good sign to me.  But, I could tell that they had it together and this time a large menu was a positive thing. Almost everything on the menu had barbecue involved somehow. Ribs, Chicken, Brisket, Shredded Pork and Chicken, Pizza, Nachos, Fries, Chili and Chowder were all infused with something to do with smoked meats or a BBQ sauce.   I could not decide on what I was going to order because I wanted to try almost everything! Even the things I don’t want to eat on any other occasion I wanted to try at Brad’s.

We made it to Bad Brad’s on a misty and cold Saturday afternoon. It was not a bad drive from Flint and only 20-25 minutes from Grand Blanc. We got off the express way and encountered a traffic jam right on Baldwin Rd due to road construction going north bound towards the restaurant. There was no wait when got there and we sat right down. When entering the doors you will notice that the ambiance in the restaurant is a modern, rustic blend. It was very pleasing to my eyes. The guy and girl servers were dressed in green camo apparel as if they were out hunting. It all seemed to work together.

Perfect Sweet Potato Mash

Our server Trevor came right over to introduce us to the restaurant and gave us overview of what they were about when it came to cooking. He highlighted that everything there was made from scratch and then educated us on the different bbq sauces they had to accompany the smoked meats available on the menu. All of the sauces were centerpieces on the table so that you could try them on all during your meal.

Pig Candy 

Finally we were ready to order! My friend Sonya went first but, we had both decided that we each wanted to get and order of the BBQ TRIO which included  2 bones of St. Louis style ribs, 2 nice size Chicken Wings and, 3 slices of Pig Candy.  Ok y’all, when I tell you that the meat on the ribs was oh so tender, BELIEVE ME THEY ARE. They were perfectly seasoned not too much and not too little. I didn’t use any sauce. I didn’t need it and I wasn’t interested once I had taken a bite. The chicken wings were the same way except, I tasted more seasoning and smoke in the chicken even more mouthwateringly delicious. Last but not least in the trio was the Pig Candy. When I first read Pig Candy on the menu I thought to myself, Oh that’s a cute name” and fitting because the bacon is cooked/smoked with sugar and bit of chipotle powder and then turned into what must be sweet pork pieces. But, bacon is bacon. I love bacon, I will eat in anytime so, just bring it on…. And, what a surprise I got when I tasted this bacon!! It tasted just like candy!!!  It was definitely bacon but after being marinated in the sugar/chipotle blend and then smoked it was made it to a wonderful sticky delight. For this bacon a little goes a long way so share with your friends and family.

Fall off the bones Meaty Ribs

Sonya sides included the Bad Brad’s Pit Beans, Sweet Cornbread and the Collard Greens that were dotted with Black Eyed Peas. She could not stop raving about the greens. She said she knows there has to be some southern roots back there in that kitchen.  My co-worker was just as pleased as I was with her meal. We both agreed to wear clothing with elastic in the waist the next time we return.

Sweet with a spicy kick Cornbread

I was also impressed with the side dishes I had ordered. I was stumped there too but, lucky for me they had a Side Sampler which included any 3 sides. I got 4, Fries, Coleslaw, Sweet Potato Mash and Cornbread.  So, I always have to know how the French Fries are wherever I go and the fries did not disappoint here. I wanted more fries.  The Coleslaw reminded me of the coleslaw my Grandmother used to make when my mother would barbecue. They gave me plenty of that, enough for leftovers. Next I tried the Sweet Potato Mash. There was no description on the menu so I was not sure if this dish was a savory mash or sweet mash. I learned upon its arrival at my table that it was a perfect mash. When I asked Trevor what was in the side dish he wasn’t sure but he did find out for me. He let me know that it was cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, salt & pepper. I agreed to try it and when it came to the table I mixed in the spot of sweetened butter that was intended for my cornbread. I hadn’t even tried the sweet mash yet. But, when I did….It was a winner. It was again perfectly seasoned; not too sweet, not too savory. I could taste definite sweetness but the little taste of saltiness balanced it right on out. I wanted more of this too. The perfect mix into this outrageous meal was the Oh So Sweet Cornbread that is sprinkled with pieces of hot pepper throughout and is baked in a the form of a small round disk as if it was baked in a tiny cast iron skillet. I didn’t know if this was a side or dessert. It really didn’t matter though. I should have got one for each course.

The one thing I knew for sure before I got there is that I was going to get the dessert of Sugar Donuts that is served with a trio of sauces. But, after that meal of meals, there was no way I could think about dessert. That festival of food that landed at my table had me finished for the day. I may just have to work my way backwards next time if I plan to make it to dessert.

Coleslaw like my Grandmother’s

Bad Brad’s is taking the Culinary and Barbecue industry to school and I learned all about it on Saturday. Check out Bad Brad’s BBQ menu and let me know how you like it when you go!

I had to take some Sweet Potato Mash Home! 🙂

Made From scratch: A passion for baking leads Kim Fowlkes to success in and out of the kitchen – The Hub Flint

19 Oct

I googled myself today and this is what I found. I did this interview back in April I think. Today was my first time seeing the article that was written. What a surprise!😊😊😊😊😊

Click the link to read!


Made From scratch: A passion for baking leads Kim Fowlkes to success in and out of the kitchen – The Hub Flint
— Read on www.thehubflint.com/made-from-scratch-a-passion-for-baking-leads-kim-fowlkes-to-success-in-and-out-of-the-kitchen/

Effortless Creamy Caramel Apple Dip

18 Oct

Hey Peeps!

I got a good one for you today!!!!…This recipe is so quick and effortless to make. Put this in the 5 minute or less recipe section of your files. A little bit ago I wrote about my favorite foods for Fall and Winter and I probably listed 3 or 4 foods that had apples involved in the recipe.  Foods with apples are favorites of mine that stay at the top of my list. Since this is the beginning of Fall and today’s weather is so reflective of it here in Flint, Michigan I thought I would share this comforting and Effortless Caramel Apple Dip.

Make sure your cream cheese is softened prior to mixing.

And your brown sugar!

Use a large bowl to mix them together with an electric mixer.

Mix in pure vanilla extract next.

Go ahead and give it a taste!….. I did. 

 

This easy peasy dip is a favorite of mine because of its taste and its simplicity. It is very simple to mix this up but, plan to make it a day ahead if you can because it tastes better when served on the next day. Serve with sliced apples, fresh strawberries and crunchy pretzel sticks. You may garnish it with finely chopped peanuts but, I did not because my daughter has a nut allergy and I am always cautious whenever she might be eating anything I make.  Feel free to make two batches; one with nuts and one without. Just be sure to label the dishes *with nuts* or *nut free*.  Prepare this bowl of cream cheese heaven for your upcoming potlucks, holiday parties or tailgates. You will  love, love, love the taste of the blended cream cheese and brown sugar together. And, more than that you won’t believe is basically, that’s all it takes! Smile.

Effortless Creamy Caramel Apple Dip

2 (8oz) bricks of cream cheese softened

1 cup light brown sugar packed

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts *optional*

Using an electric handheld mixer blend together the cream cheese and brown sugar in a large bowl, on a med-low speed until combined. Add in the pure vanilla extract and mix on low.

Transfer the brown sugar mixture into a serving bowl and garnish with *peanuts* if using. On a complementing serving platter prepare sliced apples and fresh strawberries.

***If making ahead, transfer mixed dip into a plastic container with a lid and refrigerate until ready to serve***

Happy Dipping!

An apple slicer/corer is a life saver. Use this for anything that requires an apple.

Use 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice to keep your apples from turning brown.                        They will keep overnight too!

Perfect Slices in the making!

More Slices.

These fresh strawberries are bright red and so sweet! Delicious!

Can’t wait to share this yummy treat with my family! 

 

Chicago Food Adventure in September Day 2

30 Sep

Saturday began with an empowerment workshop and ended with a visit to Eataly. Hold on, I’m going to share all the deets. I’ve already shared with you about the Manifest Your Vision workshop in a post from last week. If you missed it you can find it here.  After the workshop we planned to connect with my Uncle and Aunt who live in the Chicago area. Before we met up with them my sister wanted to show me a place called the French Market. I had not looked it up or checked it out but, she said they had food and really that is all that mattered. The market was still in the downtown area not too far from the hotel but far enough to grab another Uber. We Ubered all over the Chicago.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got there. I didn’t know if this was a grocery store, a farmers market or what? What I learned is that it is what is called a food hall.  Upon arrival at the French Market the first thing you see is several places to get hot food. All different kinds of food from a variety of vendors. This place would remind you of something just above a food court. With hot food being made and sold and a place to purchase fresh meats and vegetables also. This is where I would like to have lunch everyday. I would alway be able to have something new.

My first purchase at the food hall were pirogi’s. I fell in love with perogi’s at a food festival and I think it was in Chicago too. I had to try them. I picked potato and cheese and spinach and potato. They both were melt in your mouth delicious and I didn’t even use the sour cream this time. My next purchase was an apple pie empanada. Ok, I love empanada too. I had my first one in Chicago too a few years ago. That one was a beef and veggie one. Ok there might have been more than one on that day. But, let me just say that anything with a warm filling and some type of pie crust attached is getting eaten by me.

The next thing I wanted to purchase but did not was a lobster roll. I did not get the lobster roll because I knew I couldn’t eat it all and the ticket price on that baby was not cheap. I didn’t want to be full when I knew we were going to have an early dinner with my aunt and uncle very shortly. But, Lobster Roll I’ll be back for you.

Inside the Food Hall you could find canoli’s, corned beef sandwiches, donuts, sushi, crepes, belgian fries, alcohol, cajun food, vegan choices, cheeses, breads, candies, espresso and more. This place is the perfect place for foodies.

Next we caught our ride over to Oak Park for Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles. It was right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. I mean how lucky can one get to be able to walk right across or down the street for some straight up soul food? That would be my dream…. We all sat at a table for four and caught up on each other’s lives, celebrations and new beginnings. It was a very nice outing. I decided not to get the waffle because I had pancakes the day before but boy, it was a hard choice. I again got the basics, chicken wings, greens, sweet potatoes and macaroni & cheese.  Everything tasted just as it should. Nothing surprising except the super fast turnaround on the food. My uncle got almost the same as me except he got the potato salad. He ate it all. So, I would have to say that he enjoyed his too. My aunt did get the chicken and waffle with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. They did not get her order right the first time but did immediately correct it. It looked very delicious with those strawberries on top. The restaurant did not have anything on the menu for plant based eaters so my sister just enjoyed the water and the conversation. The menu was very well rounded with soul food and could probably please the palate of almost anyone looking to fill their belly with goodness.

After dinner they took us on a tour from Oak Park to our hotel in downtown Chicago. It’s nice to be shown the area by people who actually know the history behind it. We made it back to the hotel decided for one more outing before calling it a night.

The last stop on our foodie hit list was a place called Eataly. An Italian food lover’s paradise. Groceries and restaurants are housed inside this building. When we got inside I was confused. Is this a grocery store with a hot food station that serves wine? Nope. They have groceries, housewares, wine (yes, you can shop and drink at the same time) and several restaurants for you sit down and eat at if you choose; including a bread shop and a sweet shop. This place was meant for me and could not be conquered in one trip. Saturday was just an introduction and I will be coming back to Eataly for the full experience. This place was the bomb.

On Sunday I made a quick trip to everyone’s favorite Garrett’s Popcorn just to see if I had been mistaken all this time when I thought I didn’t really like it. I thought I try it and compare it to Nuts on Clark, the kind my mother preferred and requested that I bring some back. After the taste test I have determined that I too prefer the Nuts on Clark caramel popcorn. I like a hint of salt with my sweet and N.O.C. has got the ratio of sweet/salt just right.

From now to on that’s my stop right off the train….

#septemberwritingchallenge

Day30 -1

Chicago Food Adventure in September

30 Sep

Alright, if you have been keeping up with me for the last 7 days you know I spent last weekend in Chicago….. Eating. I took the train from Michigan and my sister flew in from Texas.

When I first arrived I went straight to the hotel. I was greeted by a picket line of striking hotel workers. I had just found out the day before I was to leave that there was a strike. I wish we had learned this earlier. We would’ve made arrangements somewhere else.  Although this was going on outside of this historic hotel; management tried to give the illusion that everything was business as usual on the inside. I’m just going to say that it wasn’t the worst service I had ever seen but, it was not the level of service that I had reserved for.

Anyway, I got to the hotel and had my bags held until check in time. I had already decided that a meal was in order and I had my sights set on Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe’… I found this place online while searching for best breakfast near my hotel. I was captured by the menu headline: Pancakes. I love pancakes. Who doesn’t love pancakes? Who doesn’t love breakfast? Pancakes are like justified dessert, you don’t have to explain or justify a stack of pancakes with syrup, fruit or whipped cream do you.  So, I ordered pancakes. And, bacon, hash browns and an order of biscuits & gravy. Don’t judge me.

Usually when I go to a new restaurant, I go for what I’ve heard was a good menu item or I go and try the basics. If you can pass the basics test then I will move on to something more interesting on the next visit. I did the basic test at Wildberry. I wish I had been more zealous immediately after placing my order.  I was sitting at a table in the middle of the cafe and the people around me at other tables had just started to get their orders. Every plate of food that went by me looked so delicious. There were egg and cheese dishes, breakfast hash plates, and pancakes with all everything…. I was so hungry..

Finally my food came…I got just 2 pancakes since I ordered the biscuits and gravy. The pancakes were hot & fresh, generous in size and fluffy. The taste was perfect. I topped them with the standard butter and syrup and went to work on them before remembering about the biscuits and gravy.

The biscuits I don’t believe were made from scratch but they were not from a can either. So I won’t give them a failing grade on that. But the gravy… it was yummy… It was spicy and flavored with fennel, and what I think was sage. Wildberry passed the gravy test. The rest of my meal was bacon and potatoes. You really can’t mess those two up unless they are not done and I always ask for mine well done. I was perfectly pleased with Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe. I hope to return on my next visit to Chicago.

Later in the day when my sister arrived we took an Uber to another part of Chicago to visit the Brown Sugar Bakery. I first heard of this place when it was shared on social media by my cousin or aunt who live in the Chicago area. Every picture posted by the Brown Sugar Bakery made me so excited. It was always of what looked to be a three or four layer cake frosted so beautifully.  And when we got there that’s exactly what they had cakes on top of cakes. I picked a slice of caramel layer cake and a slice of “german chocolate” cake. I tried both cakes when I arrived back at the hotel. My top pick would be the caramel cake. The cake was fresh, tender and just sweet enough. The caramel icing tasted just like caramel. That makes it a winner all by itself.

Next we went to Molly’s Cupcakes in Lincoln Park….I love the ambiance at Molly’s. The decor and set up reminds you of a class room from the lockers and lunch boxes to the tables and chairs in the bakery. The books and posters were all once a part of someone’s classroom. This stop was my sister’s pick as she was looking for vegan cupcakes. When we arrived they had one flavor left in vegan. I’m pretty sure it was vanilla. She had it topped with butter cream and chocolate icing…I opted out of vegan this time. I chose to try four others though. I picked peach cobbler, red velvet, chocolate chocolate and birthday cake..My favorite of the night was the peach cobbler… plain cake, topped with a whopped icing flavored with nutmeg and topped with a real peach slice. Actually all of the cupcakes at Molly’s were delicious. I would go back there again too.

That was my Friday Food Fest in Chicago… Stay tuned for Saturday…

#Septemberwritingchallenge

#day30 -2

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