Honeysuckle Lane Cheddar Cheeseburger and Sweet Potato Fries at The Root Cafe

I had only been to The Root Cafe once. Last March, four of my co-workers and I took a trip over to S. Main Street to this tiny little local joint I had never even heard of. I was excited, but kind of overwhelmed with how to order and what to do my first time. We got there a little after eleven- and thank goodness we did. The line was soon out the door and people were shuffling around looking for seats in the little space! Although it was cramped, the eclectic decor and artsy hipster feel appealed to me. And even if the venue hadn’t left an impression, the food sure did.

A little over a year later, I was itching to go back. It had been too long! Granted, we had spent the last fourteen months trying new places popping up around Little Rock… but it was time to go back to The Root. So two of my super awesome co-workers/friends and I piled into my car and made the drive through the city.

I try not to be a creature of habit when it comes to eating out- but this place is kind of known for their burgers (and brunch items). That being said, I was intentionally going there to devour an onion-mustard-mayo-pickle-cheese slathered fresh slab of beef. I ordered the Honeysuckle Lane Yellow Cheddar cheeseburger- as did my companions. Apparently cheddar is trending, guys. Take note.IMG_9797The burgers come on delicious buns from Arkansas Fresh Bakery and are served with a fabulous little side salad made of a bunch of fancy green earthy things. (I’m no herbologist. Yes I use Harry Potter terms in real life). The meat is tender and juicy- made from freshly ground grass-fed beef from Simon Farms in Conway. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the key right there. This beef has a particular taste that’s rare to come by. I had never had a grass-fed cow burger until The Root, but man is it something else! If you have never experienced this, I really recommend it. I’m not saying it will replace your need for a regular burger, but it’s something you totally have to try!

Along with my burger, I had some hand-cut sweet potato fries. They were hot and fresh and went perfectly with the spicy homemade Hickory Chip mayo. Let it be known that I do not like sweet potatoes. However, I’ll find myself trying sweet potato fries from different places on occasion because sometimes they taste right. And let me tell you, this was one of those times. I have tried sweet potato fries in other local places around Arkansas, but nothing compares to these.IMG_9792 Maybe it’s the green atmosphere that makes me feel like I’m making good decisions for my body that inspires my taste buds. Maybe it’s the actual fact that I’m eating local food and that local food tastes good. But these fries aren’t too sweet and are just the right amount of softness. The creamy mayo adds a pinch of pizazz to your classic sweet potato and it’s just the glimmer my tongue desires.

SYNOPSIS:

I’m not a person who eats local food for every meal. In fact, I’m more of a poster-child for processed things and whatever’s quick and easy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love supporting Arkansas businesses and enjoying what our lovely state produces. And, when you can afford it on occasion, it’s a great way to give back to the community! I love going to places like this because the people who work here have a passion for what they’re doing and they really make you feel at home. I love local businesses and I love food- so if you combine the two, you bet I’m going to check it out! 

That being said, just because a place is cute and home-grown it doesn’t necessarily mean the food is good. But The Root? The Root is pretty darn delicious. I’m a little picky when it comes to my beef and I’ll try any place once. The truth is in the action of going back to a restaurant. Did I have a good experience? Did it fulfill my appetite in a unique way? You bet. I’ll be back.

EAT ON.
COLLEEN

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake | Mother’s Day Recipe

I had planned on making her breakfast in bed… but once that idea leaked, mom told me to bake her a pineapple upside-down cake instead. She claims she never makes them because dad doesn’t like them. So whether that’s the case or not, I was determined to exercise my rusty baking skills and try my hand at my first EVER upside-down cake.

I rolled out of bed on that cloudy Saturday morning, tied my hair up, and set to work on collecting the various ingredients needed for such a concoction. After pulling down our old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and arranging ingredients accordingly it was game on.

Here’s my slightly-altered version of the recipe.

Ingredients:
8oz. of pineapple slices
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1½ cup all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ granulated sugar
1 egg
1½ teaspoon vanilla
9×1½-inch baking pan (round or square)

Do this:
Drain pineapples; reserve the liquid.

Melt butter in a 9×1½-inch baking pan (I used a square brownie pan).
Stir in brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the reserved pineapple liquid.
Add water to remaining liquid to make 2/3 cup.
Arrange pineapples in pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt (in a separate bowl from your mixer).

Beat shortening about 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar; beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla; beat 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients and the 2/3 cup pineapple juice/water liquid alternately to beaten mixture, beating after each addition. Spread in pan on top of pineapples.

Bake in a 350° oven for 40 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Flip the cake over onto plate or cooling rack.

You can serve this warm and fresh. My mom likes hers chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Serves: 8

Personally, I don’t think it looks too pretty. But it tasted wonderful! Obviously there are probably more delicious versions out there, but I think I did well for my first pineapple upside-down cake. What was most important was that mom enjoyed it. I learned that no one (in the family) was a huge fan of it besides mom, but they happily ate their pieces. 😉 More for mom!

BAKE ON.
COLLEEN

Feta, Potato, & Rosemary Pizza at ZAZA

I’m no newcomer at ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood-Oven Pizza Co. I was actually first introduced to it by one of my best friends back in college. She took me to dinner there for my 21st birthday. And in the year to follow, ZAZA provided a great atmosphere for friend lunches and special celebrations. It was somewhere the vegetarians and carnivores alike could find something to munch on. And yes, we did make solo trips just for the mouth-watering gelato. Hey, it’s as close as we’re getting to the real stuff in Central Arkansas.  So, in a way, ZAZA will always bring back those good memories of college.

Along with great memories come opportunities for new things and new adventures. At the end of April, birthdays were piling up and we actually had a legitimate excuse to dine out for lunch. My work team gave me the title of ‘Food President’ and left me up to the task of choosing where to eat. Now let me just say, I’m not the picky one when it comes to restaurants. The tricky part was choosing a place everyone could agree on. Alas! College social skills were coming into play in the working world. To ZAZA we went.

So there’s this food dilemma we find ourselves in sometimes: to try something new or order something we know we like. After some debate, it was decided to branch out a little and try the FETA, POTATO, & ROSEMARY pizza.

I’m so happy we tried something new! The crust just crisp enough- and fresh as any other ZAZA pizza I’ve had. The feta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses melted right into that bread in a mouth-watering abyss of salty savory flavor. The cherry tomatoes had just enough crunch to complement the bits of caramelized onion and traces of rosemary. And the potatoes? Oh they were on point- cooked to perfection.

SYNOPSIS:

I would recommend this dish to someone who likes their pizza on the artsy side. It’s definitely a little more out of the box than you’re typical pepperoni slice. But, hey, sometimes you have to go for the new things because you may end up liking them a lot! I may order this again some day but it’s not a staple. It’s one of those things you have to eat with the right company. And personally, I’d like to add some more toppings. 😉

EAT ON!
COLLEEN