Balter Beerworks #KnoxvilleLocal

My fiancé and I finally had the chance to visit Balter Beerworks, a recent addition addition to Knoxville’s growing micro-brewing scene. We’ve been aching to go since the day we drove by and saw their brewing vats amidst the construction. On a corner of downtown Knoxville that has long been begging to be revitalized, Balter has turned an abandoned service station into a wonderland of scruffiness, glassware, and fantastic craft beer.

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Determined to get the full experience, Jon and I tasted several beers each and felt ourselves swelling with pride with each sip. Plus the namesakes are all dedicated to our beloved city! Balter has created a selection of classic beers that are well balanced, flavorful, and drinkable. I tried the Good Neighbor Kolsh, which was crisp and lightly malted; the James White Wit Belgian Witbier, which had all the tart wheatiness we know and love in a Belgian wheat; and  lastly the Jackson Abbey Belgian Dubbel, was a super malty dark ale, with a robust flavor and light body. And since I’m not a fan of pale ales, I’ll defer to Jon’s descriptions of the Maypop American Pale Ale as “a very light, bready malt bill supported by soft resinous american hops,” and the Firebelly India Pale Ale as “a classic Southeastern IPA with a rather light mouthfeel and well-balanced showcase of bold american hops.”

On top of having a fantastic beer selection, they have a menu full of classic bar foods, prepared and served in the classiest way. We shared the street tacos appetizer – four small steak or fish tacos topped with pickled onions, cilantro, crema, and charred salsa. But we couldn’t stand to stop there! I went for the classic burger (highlights being a perfect cook, Sweetwater Farms cheddar, and the black pepper aioli) and a side of fries which were seasoned to perfection and fried to the perfect combo of crispy outside and tender inside. Jon went for two cheesy southern classics: grilled pimento cheese sandwich and cheese grits. I don’t like either of these things, but they were amazing! The grilled cheese was served on sourdough with bacon and tomato, and the grits were thick and creamy with their wonderful blend of cheeses.

 

In conclusion: 10 out of 10!

Great, classic beers. Drool-worthy eats.

Scruffy atmosphere. Fantastic service.

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Save Money. Eat Healthy.

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There are so many reasons why I struggle to eat healthy, but I’ve realized my excuses are pretty weak. “Quality food is more expensive.” “I don’t have time to cook every day.” “It’s too much effort to cook for myself.” If any of these thoughts sound familiar, keep reading! I’m going to share my tips and tricks for how to prove yourself wrong.

Quality food is NOT more expensive:

My favorite places to shop are Aldi and Kroger. Aldi not only because they has amazing prices, but their produce is fantastic. There are some limitations as to what you can get there, but my method is always to get as much as I can at Aldi and get the rest at Kroger. If you do shop at Aldi, don’t forget a quarter for a cart (you get it back when you put the cart away) and reusable bags (they charge a tiny bit for the bags they do have). Things I always get at Aldi:

  • Frozen fruit
  • Pasta
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Eggs

I have also found that there are great ways to say money at Kroger between keeping up with sales, using their online coupons, and using your membership card every time you shop. You can easily register online, and once you have an account you can read their weekly sales, download coupons that are automatically applied when you use your card at the register, and get member discounts on certain items. ALSO! Look out for the “Wahoo! Manager’s Special” sales. I often get specialty breads, salad greens, spinach and mushrooms on these sales.

In addition to conscientious shopping, I also use an app called Ibotta to get rebates on items I buy. The amounts are small, but they add up over time if you stay vigilant. You can also save money when you know how to properly store different produce items and even learn about vegetables that regrow themselves!

Cooking doesn’t have to be a daily chore:

The other big thing that gets in the way of eating healthy is the dreaded chore of cooking, but it doesn’t have to be a daily thing! Prepping once a week can be a big help, as well as making more than you need for one meal when you do cook. Things that I often prep in advance are rice, black beans, vegetables, fruits, and stock. Here are some specific tips!

  • Freeze berries for smoothies when theres a good sale.
  • Make 3-4 cups of rice to use throughout the week.
  • Make a whole pound of beans to use for two weeks!
  • Cut half the carrots you buy and store in water for snacks.
  • Freeze vegetable scraps to make stock later.
  • Freeze spinach for use in soups and smoothies.

You can also cut back on the amount of cooking you have to do by making more when you do cook. This means you have leftovers for later in the week! Soups, mashed potatoes, rice, beans, and meats are all good examples of this. If you are baking chicken one night, make everything you have and make wraps, salads, burritos, or chicken salad later on!

I know that this can all feel a little overwhelming, but it’s exactly the opposite once you get the hang of it. No more last minute trips to the grocery or being so hungry after work that you resort to fast food because you don’t have anything ready at home. If you simply have trouble with cooking, check out my recipes and keep an eye out for more to come! I try very hard to keep it simple and use ingredients that you would generally keep around. I hate making a grocery trip just for one recipe.

So go out, buy some pyrex containers, and get healthy. I believe in you!

-Shelby

P.S. If you have any requests for recipes you’d like me to post, message me through my contact page and I’d be happy to do so!

P.P.S. You might also be interested in my post on meal planning.

Knoxville Local #BeMyValentine

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Photo credit: Shane Hunter

If you’ve ventured to my about page you know that I live in Knoxville, Tennessee; affectionately known as Scruffy City. My fiancé and I just moved into an apartment downtown that we love because we are in the heart of the scruffiness! I like to think that Knoxville has the brain of an entrepreneur and the heart of an artist. There are always musicians playing, artists showing, comedians joking, and always new places opening!

In honor of my beautiful city, I have decided to start a #KnoxvilleLocal series, dedicated to all my favorite places and things to do. I’ll feature a new place/activity every week, giving you locations, websites, and reasons that I think its so awesome.

BUT! Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I won’t leave you hanging! I’ll start with a succinct list of some great downtown date night ideas for dinner and drinks, along with all the info you need to make it happen!

DINNER

Tomato Head Downtown is a great place for a casual date with great vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. They have amazing sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and much more! Some of my favorites are the #13 pizza, the Southwest Salad, the Kepner Melt, and the keylime pie. They also have a great selection of craft beer and wine.

$$ – 12 Market Square

Nama Sushi Bar can be casual or classy, but their sushi is fantastic and the atmosphere is great for conversation and quality time.

$$ – 506 S Gay Street

Babalu Tacos & Tapas is a tacos and tapas bar that just opened on Gay Street. I have yet to visit, but I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun and their food is great! They use fresh and locally sourced ingredients for a flavorful and unique experience.

$$ – 412 S Gay Street

Stock & Barrel is the place for you if you’re looking for the best burgers, fries, and whiskey in town. They also source a lot of their ingredients locally and while whiskey is what they specialize in, they also have a decent selection of craft beer. Things I love here are the Black & Bleu burger, the Deadhead black bean burger, and their fried mushrooms!

$$ – 35 Market Square

Sweet P’s BBQ has amazing BBQ (as you would hope) and a really fun atmosphere! They serve up their soul food cafeteria style and leave you to your whims with their house made sauces right at your table. P.S. Don’t forget to get their mac’n’cheese, it’s heavenly!

$$ – 410 W. Jackson Avenue

Oodles Uncorked has fantastic food, but if you’re a wine enthusiast this is the place to be! They have a great atmosphere whether you’re going out with friends or getting a table for two. If the weather permits, they have a great patio, but either way be sure to try their house cabernet!

$$ – 18 Market Square

Knox Mason has an intimate atmosphere with ample southern charm and modern chic.  They serve all the traditional southern comfort food we know and love, with the gourmet skill every foodie craves. They also work closely with local farms and businesses to source their ingredients locally and fresh! It’s terrible but… all I can think about as I’m writing this is their homemade ice cream haha!

$$$ – 131 S Gay Street

 

DRINKS

Crafty Bastard is a new local brewery in Knoxville that has their own line of fantastically crafted beers in addition to some of Knoxville’s favorites!

Public House specializes in craft cocktails but also has a great selection of craft beers and a fantastic wine list.

Hops & Hollers has one of the largest varieties of beer in downtown, with 32 craft beers on tap and over a 100 in bottles and cans! Their atmosphere is super chill and is a beer lover’s paradise.

Peter Kern Library (known to the locals as the library) has many interesting stories floating around, but following the red light down the alley way to the door is enough to make it feel like a speakeasy. If the atmosphere isn’t enough, the uniquely crafted cocktails are sure to make you fall in love. To read more about the library, check out this article on Average Enthusiast.

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!

-Shelby

Breakfast Nacho Casserole

 

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I have to credit this one to my fiancé! He comes up with some fantastic breakfast concoctions. This one is essentially an enchilada egg scramble baked over tortilla chips and topped with sharp cheddar.

Serves 2-3

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained & rinsed)
  • Cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, & pepper to taste
  • 3-4 eggs
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Sautée tomatoes, black beans, and onions in olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add spices to mixture.
  4. After about 5 minutes add eggs.
  5. Place a generous layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of a casserole dish.
  6. When the eggs are done, pour the scramble over the chips, shred cheese on top, and place in the oven for about 5 minutes.

So easy, and SO delicious! Sometimes the creativity of a former bachelor can have fantastic results in the kitchen. 🙂

Cheers & Enjoy!

Shelby

Oh-So-Easy Sweet Potato Fries!

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Sweet potato fries are one of my favorite indulgences, and I have tried SOOO many recipes to get just the right texture and flavor. This is by far the simplest and quickest recipe you’ll find. No more “bake for this long on this temperature and this long on another” or “soak the potatoes for 24 hours” no, no, NO. When a girl wants some fries, she WANTS some fries!

What you need:

  • Frying pan (cast iron preferred)
  • 1-2 Sweet Potatoes (1 is a good amount for 2-3 people)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Sea Salt

What to do:

  1. Fill your pan with vegetable oil until there is about 1/2 an inch of oil.
  2. Heat on Medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  3. While waiting for the oil to heat, peel and cut potato(s) into fry size. I find it easiest to cut the potato in to quarters, each quarter into 1/4 inch slices, then each slice into strips…. maybe I’ll post pictures of that later. 🙂
  4. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the future fries into the pan, DO NOT drop them in!! You’ll want to do a couple batches so your fries don’t overlap.
  5. Fry the fries… 🙂 for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This very dependent on the pan, stove, and how long the oil has been heating up though. A good way to check is to poke the biggest ones with a fork and see if they’re tender.
  6. Transfer to a plate with wax paper or a paper towel and immediately sprinkle with salt.
  7. Lay another piece of wax paper on top of the finish batch and keep frying until they’re all done!!

Viola! So easy and super tasty! Cheers!

Shelby