Big Belly Deli – Sykesville, MD – 3/18/20

These last few weeks have been very different. This past week in particular, even more so. With everything going on, a lot of stores are closed, but some restaurants are open for Carry-out, Drive Thru, and Delivery. I think that the larger corporations will be able to weather the storm, but the small businesses are going to struggle.

During a normal work week, I work from home and don’t go out anywhere until the weekend. I decided to change things up this week, to try and show some support to the small businesses while I can. I’m still cautious and making sure that I am okay before leaving the house. Yesterday, I decided to make my way over to Big Belly Deli, which is a favorite of mine.

I had checked online earlier in the day and saw that their special was blackened chicken nachos with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. That was reason enough for me to get out of the house after work. Although I really enjoy the food there, the people who work there make it even better. The person who greeted me immediately called me by my name, which made me feel more welcome. I asked if they were still serving the nachos, and they confirmed that they were. These were really good nachos. The blackened chicken has a great flavor. The chips were warm and crispy. The cheese was melted just a little, but not too much that it was all gooey. And the bites with the accompaniments were even better. This was a great batch of nachos, so I was happy that I went out and got these.

They also had some nice looking desserts. I went with the Saint Patrick’s Day themed cake. The cake itself was very moist and the frosting was light and fluffy. The lucky charms marshmallows were a nice touch, and this was a great way to end the night. I’ve always enjoyed their desserts, and this was no exception.

I was happy to support one of my local favorites. And with the people that work there greeting me so enthusiastically, it was definitely easy to stay positive.


Early to Rise

Just a little play on words today. I did wake up early this morning (before 4 AM). I had planned on doing a couple of quick errands in the morning, but was thinking about a place to go for breakfast. There was a new restaurant that opened in Columbia, MD not too long ago called Rise. The menu sounded good, but the timing just wasn’t right. This morning, the timing worked out.

As you can see, it’s Rise, but also includes Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken. They also make donuts, which is an added bonus. There are some tables outside the shop, and some window side seating in the front. This is a small place, but it looks big. There is a window where you can watch them making the biscuits and they have a display case of the donuts. As tempted as I was to get a Creme Brûlée donut, I was there for a breakfast sandwich. They even have biscuits and gravy on the menu, but I still went with the breakfast sandwich.

I decided to go with “The Build”, where you build up your sandwich. I started with a buttermilk biscuit, then with the righteous chicken, American cheese, and a fried egg. This is a large sandwich. The biscuit is about twice the size of what I was expecting, and the piece of chicken was also huge. I tried the flavor of the biscuit by itself, and it was very good. I then took a bite of the chicken, and it was extremely good. The the crunchy exterior and smooth interior, were perfect, and the flavor was outstanding.

I then decided to eat the sandwich like a normal breakfast sandwich. The biscuit, chicken, egg, and cheese all worked really well together. This was a fantastic sandwich. The options for building your own sandwich look great. I might try a cheddar biscuit the next time I have a sandwich, just to see how it tastes. Maybe I’ll try their Boom Boom sauce. Maybe I’ll get pimento cheese on it. Maybe I’ll try something from their biscuit sandwich menu or maybe I’ll get their chicken strips. There are some nice sounding items there. This is a place I plan on going back to again. I’m glad that I found out about this restaurant, and even happier that the food was so good. The staff was friendly and the service was fast, which also made for a good experience. It makes it easy to have a positive day when you start it off with some good food!

Homemade Chicken Curry

Yesterday, I managed to make good use of the leftover chicken from the Roast Chicken I had made on Sunday.

I made chicken curry. There were a couple of extra steps that I added, and I think that they worked for me. I didn’t do strict measurements for everything, so some of the measurements listed are going to be rough estimates.

INGREDIENTS, Part I (roast cashews):

1 cup raw unsalted cashews for roasting

INGREDIENTS, Part II (cashew curry paste):

1 cup raw unsalted cashews

1 piece of fresh ginger, roughly 2 inches long, roughly cut

1 piece of fresh turmeric, roughly 3 inches long, roughly cut

3 cloves of garlic, roughly cut

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon curry powder

INGREDIENTS, Part III (curry):

4 medium size carrots, cut into chunks

5 red potatoes, cut into small chunks

2 pieces of fresh turmeric, finely chopped

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 pieces of fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 large onion, diced

1/2 stick of butter

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 cups of chicken broth

12 ounce can of evaporated milk, minus 1/4 cup (for cashew curry paste)

3-4 cups of boiling water

1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1/2 roast chicken (cooked)

The first thing I did was roast the cashews. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I put one cup of cashews on a tray lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray (I don’t think it really needs the cooking spray). Depending on your oven, this should take 10-15 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it, since you don’t want these to burn. Remove from the oven and set aside. Once these are cooled, place in a storage bag and run a rolling pin over them. This is what I used for a topping.

The next step was the paste. I put in the cashews, ginger, turmeric, garlic, curry powder, and evaporated milk into a blender and then blended until it got to a nice, thick consistency. If you want a spicier curry, feel free to add something that will give more heat to this mixture (more curry powder, more ginger powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, etc.). Regarding the evaporated milk, I bought a 12 ounce can and used 1/4 cup in this mixture and saved the rest for later.

The next step is to prep the veggies. I cut the carrots, potatoes, ginger, turmeric and garlic and set aside in a bowl.

Start cooking the onions, butter and oil on medium-high heat.

Stir often. Once the onions are translucent, you are ready for the next step.

Add in the curry paste mixture and start stirring until it is all incorporated.

Add in the veggie mixture, 1 Tablespoon curry powder, ginger powder, and the broth. Continue to stir until it is well incorporated, and then add in the rest of the can of condensed milk.

Bring this to a slow boil and then add in the water. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can start with 1-2 cups and keep adding later until the desired consistency. Bring this to a boil again and then let it boil for 30 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in one teaspoon of curry and then add the chicken. Bring the temperature down to medium heat and cook for another 30-60 minutes, until the curry is the desired consistency. I waited about 10 minutes after I added the chicken and then started cooking the rice.

Once the rice and the curry are ready, you can plate your food. I prefer my sauce to be a little thinner on the first day, since it tends to thicken with time. I also like to have my curry over my rice, but if you prefer them side by side, then do that. I topped it with the rough chopped roasted cashews. You can have peanuts, hard boiled eggs, bacon, chutney, pickled veggies, hot sauce, etc. Whatever makes it unique to your tastebuds, I say go for it. I really enjoyed making this and eating this yesterday, and looking forward to eating the leftovers. A very positive Monday for me!

If you’ve eaten or made curry before, what types of veggies have you put in there? What kinds of toppings have you added? I’d be happy to hear from you.

Roast Chicken

There are times that I have a couple of meals planned out, so I start to buy the ingredients and think about how I can use them for a couple of meals. I did this yesterday and made a pretty good roast chicken.


1 whole chicken – 5-6 pounds

1/2 onion, cut into rings

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

3 red potatoes, coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon Poultry Seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 cup orange juice

I preheated the oven to 300 degrees. I wanted this to cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.

I started off by chopping the vegetables. I then placed them in a roasting pan that was lined with aluminum foil. I positioned the vegetables so that the chicken could rest on top of the onions, while the potatoes and carrots would be in the surrounding area.

The seasonings and orange juice are all rough estimates. After removing the bag of giblets, I made sure to rinse and pat the chicken dry before placing on top of the onions. I then poured over the orange juice, making sure it got on the back and front of the bird. I put the seasonings into a small bowl and mixed them up. I then put rubbed them into the back, the front, the inside cavity and a little under the skin.

I baked the chicken for about three and a half hours. The meat was fall off the bones tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The skin was nice and crispy, with a robust flavor from all the seasonings. The potatoes and carrots were soft and pleasant tasting. The onions were really sweet and rounded out the meal very well.

I made two different broths from this chicken. The first broth was made using the giblets from the bag. I boiled those on medium-high heat in about 3 cups of water, with some diced fresh ginger, diced fresh garlic and diced fresh turmeric added. Once this got to a boil, I let it boil for 20 minutes and then turned the temperature down to medium-low heat. I let this continue for another 30 minutes and then it was ready to save.

The second broth was made after the meal was over. I removed the meat from the bones and set aside for a separate dish. I used a pasta pot, since it has a strainer. I put the bones in the strainer and then added water until it was covering all the bones. I boiled this on medium-high heat. Once this got to a boil, I let it boil for 30 minutes and then turned the temperature down to medium-low heat. I let this continue for another hour and then it was ready to save. Since this had flavor from the chicken bones (with some skin and seasoning still in tact), I did not feel the need to add anything else to the broth. I saved some of the broth in the refrigerator, and put the rest in storage bags in the freezer. These will provide me with some quick broth for a future meal.

The flavor of the chicken was much better than I was expecting, and I was very happy with how tender the meat was. It was an easy way to keep me staying positive!

Mission BBQ and More

Yesterday, I had some errands to run. My iPhone has been giving me problems, so I had set up an appointment at the Apple store in The Mall in Columbia (Maryland). It took a bit more time than expected, so I was able to get in a lot of walking around the mall. I was even able to try one of the seasonal drinks at the Nordstrom Bar. I tried the Peppermint Ice Storm with an extra shot of espresso. The consistency was really good. The flavor was great. They used a vanilla base and added in the peppermint flavor (sprinkles?). It was a nice, smooth peppermint flavor that really brought memories of a peppermint stick. I was happy that I tried it and look forward to hopefully going back and trying their other holiday flavors.

As far as the iPhone goes, they were able to put in a new battery, so my 6 has some legs left. Much better alternative than having to spend a lot of money on a new phone (even if the cameras and the extras are much nicer). And one day later, I’m happy with the difference. My battery has only drained 30% in 21 hours. It was only lasting about 6 hours before the switch, so a definite improvement. Now I just hope it will continue to perform well for at least another year or two.

After my time at the mall, I had planned on heading over to Mission BBQ. I just ended up eating an hour later than I had expected.

The cool thing is that they have big vehicles outside of their stores. The owners opened the first Mission BBQ on September 11, 2011 and proudly serve Those Who Serve. The inside of the restaurants are decorated with community donated memorabilia from military and public response forces. This past Veterans Day, they provided free sandwiches and cake for all veterans and active duty military personnel.

My usual go-to sandwich is the Chopped Brisket, but yesterday I wanted to change things up. I went for a Pulled Chicken sandwich with Kickin’ Collard Greens (a limited time only side), and accompanied that with a Grape Nehi (they also have some cool sodas available). There is a very short wait time to get the food. They make it to order and you can see them creating in the kitchen while you wait.

When you sit at the tables, you have six barbecue sauce options. There are regional options, so you can try different flavors, which is exactly what I did. I added some sauce for each of my first six bites. I thought my favorite was going to be the Memphis Belle, but the Smoky Mountain sauce went really well with the chicken sandwich. KC Classic was my second favorite with the chicken, and then the Memphis Belle. But all of the sauces were good, so there were no losers there.

I was happy to eat some good food and make my taste buds happy. But I really appreciate the mission statement (pun intended) of the restaurant and it was definitely easy to stay positive with the great experience I had!