Our nephew just moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for graduate school, and my kids were so excited when we planned to visit over a long weekend.
We ran into difficulty while booking our hotel room - apparently we were in town the same time as a Tennessee Walking Horse event and a huge soccer tournament, so our accommodations were not as luxurious as the Five Star hotel we had discovered in Memphis on Priceline the night before.
Although we got the most pleasure out of spending time with Evan, with his passion for History, lovely personality, musical ability, interesting, intelligent conversation and a kitten that my kids remembered from a summer visit to his hometown of Slidell, we also enjoyed several local restaurants. The Blue Cactus Cantina, an interesting combination of Cajun and Mexican cuisine, The Boulevard Bar and Grill, a typical sports bar, and the most fascinating for us, Demos Restaurant. The parking lot was full to overflowing, and we were intrigued to see what was drawing such a crowd. Established in 1989, by Doris and Jim Demos, following early experience in the family restaurant business - it was good Italian food, obviously made with love.
We also visited Stones River, where a decisive battle was fought in the Civil War, attended an interesting presentation from the ranger and drove around the battlefield filling in an activity book the kids had been given.
We love to spend time with family, and there were a few attractions we weren't able to see, so we would definitely re-visit this college town, right in the geographical center of Tennessee.
On the way home we spent a night in Nashville, and after visiting with the Concierge of our hotel, walked to Amerigo West End for dinner. We had relished fun, family Italian for lunch in Murfreesboro, and savored sultry, contemporary Italian for dinner, and I always appreciate when an elegant restaurant features a menu for the children, which Amerigo had. There was a gorgeous, extensive list of food to choose from, but we couldn't resist starting with the cheese fritters, which had been featured in Bon Appetit magazine.
I didn't the the fritter recipe, but made these Tennessee Tea Cakes in honor of our visit.
TENNESSEE TEA CAKES
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 350F.
Line mini muffin tins with paper liners.
Measure butter and sugars into a heavy saucepan and set over medium heat. As the butter melts, whisk in the sugars. Cook, whisking constantly until sugars are completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.
Beat in eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour and salt until just combined. Do not overbeat. The batter will be thick and sticky.
Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full with batter. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until cakes are glossy and crisp on the outer edges but not completely dry in the center. While still warm, sift confectioners' on top if desired.
Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August 2013