The Original Gringos {Webb City, MO}

Did you know that yesterday was Taco Tuesday? It was also National Taco Day (Oct. 4). What does that mean? Well obviously you need to have Tacos for dinner. I guess lunch would have sufficed or better yet, both meals! :). My friend Jody met me at Gringos in Webb City for dinner. We know the owner and he came and talked to us a little bit. I mentioned how crazy it was to get into the parking lot just to park and he said that it’s typically like that on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Tuesdays there is a special for 2 Tacos since it is after all Taco Tuesday. Friday’s the special is Taco Salad. I’m not sure what was Saturday’s draw. I didn’t pay attention to the menu I guess.

Here’s the thing though, someone asked on Jody’s Facebook where the best place in Joplin is to get Tacos and we were like Webb City. That would be Webb City Gringos in case you wondered. It really is.

These tacos are awesome. I personally like crunchy tacos. The cheese is partially the whole reason for the taco but truthfully, the tacos are awesome. And my drink. I know you can’t see it but if you’re wondering what it is… Brown Sugar Sweet Tea. Yes, Brown Sugar Sweet Tea. The only place in town to serve it. Yum!

If it hadn’t been Taco Tuesday and/or National Taco day, my food of choice is this… Waffle Nachos. It’s everything on Nachos but on Waffle Fries.

So what am I telling you? Go. Eat. Here. NOW! You can thank me later!!

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Jose Peppers {Belton, MO}

Earlier this year after a string of unfortunate events revolving around trying to purchase a truck, Mark and I found this restaurant in Belton, MO. On a Monday night we had to wait 20 minutes to be seated… Wow. Must mean it’s good, right? Oh yeah! So good in fact that last night after leaving the Chiefs game, where they won by the way, we decided to eat dinner at Jose Peppers.

I absolutely LOVE stuffed jalapeño peppers. I highly recommend these because I’m not sure you can find better…. seriously! Although I’m willing to keep searching! Like I said, I love stuffed jalapeño peppers.

These particular peppers are stuffed with chicken, jalapeño cream cheese, wrapped in Monterey Jack cheese, breaded, then deep fried and served with Tomatillo Ranch. Can you get any better? I think not… but like I said, I’m willing to try!

The tomatillo ranch is also good on tortilla chips. And speaking of their Tortilla Chips… they are the thin, light and crisp chips. They are my favorite.

So the first time we ate here I really liked what I got. When I ordered last night, I ordered Spinada Enchiladas thinking that’s what I ordered the first time. It wasn’t, but boy did I make the right choice! Two flour tortillas stuffed with spinach, jalapeño cheese, and a touch of onion in a creamy white cheese sauce. It was served with rice and beans. I could do without beans, but they didn’t kill me… lol.

Oh wow. Okay, I really think I’m sold on this restaurant because so far I haven’t found anything I didn’t like. YUM!

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Homemade Spaghetti Noodles

It must be the thought that we’re heading into the fall season or something, but the other night we thought spaghetti sounded good for dinner. Now… I’m not sure if you’ve ever made your own noodles, but oh my gosh, they are so awesome. And it’s really just as easy to make your own as to buy the store bought ones and cook. Seriously.

Now here’s where I might have a hand up on making pasta, but trust me, I’ve made it before with a rolling pin and a knife. Your pasta might be a bit thicker or not nearly as even, but I’m telling you, soooooooo worth it. And if you have a KitchenAid mixer, just go buy one of these. You’ll be glad you did. They also have hand crank ones I found on Amazon. It’s worth the investment… but seriously, a rolling pin works miracles. And for a more uniform noodle if you go that route, just use an herb cutter. See I have multiple solutions.

But if your noodles aren’t uniform, just call it rustic and you’re golden.

So the secret to make these gems….

What you need:
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1-3 tbsp of cream, milk, or water (or a combination of the aforementioned)

What to do:

  1. Whisk your egg with the salt.
  2. Add 1 cup flour and mix well.
  3. Add 1-3 tbsp of your cream, milk, or water. At first you’ll think you need to add more water but really you want it more dry. I wouldn’t go more than 3 tbsp of water. Just mix well!
  4. Spread flour on the counter and hand knead the dough. It’s best!
  5. Then roll the dough thin.
  6. Cut into pieces. if you’re using a knife, cut as thin as you can. My cutter made uniform noodles.
  7. Shake the noodles out and let them air dry as long as you can. I didn’t let mine dry this time at all, other times I let them dry at least 1/2 hour.
  8. Salt your water, bring to a boil, and cook your noodles 18-20 minutes.
  9. Then add your sauce
  10. Eat and enjoy.


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O’Charley’s {Paducah, KY}

Saturday night we decided to cross the river to the other side… or at least go across the Ohio River from Metropolis to Paducah, KY. Same difference, right? After a day long diving at Mermet Springs, we were hungry. On Thursday night we saw this restaurant and decided on Saturday night to try it.

We started off with yummy rolls. The joke was, were they that yummy or were we that hungry? Truthfully, they were pretty darn good!

There were huge murals all over the walls and neon signs all over too. One of the neon’s was actually for Prime Rib. Speaking of Prime Rib, Mark and Jared went for the Prime Rib. They were really happy with their choice too.

I went with the Tuscan Chicken. A grilled chicken breast topped with parmesan spread, melted Monterey Jack cheese, and a savory crumb topping. This chicken was served on a bed of linguini tossed with parmesan cheese, garlic butter, and roasted tomatoes. While it might not have been the best thing on the menu, I need to tell you it was pretty darn good! YUM!

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Where to Eat in Metropolis, Illinois

Hello, welcome to the guide on where to eat, or maybe not eat depending, in Metropolis, Illinois. Now Metropolis is the home of Superman, but I’m not sure if this is the actual town that the show/movie was filmed in… but it’s Metropolis, Illinois, none the less.

First off, El Tequila. After diving at Mermet Springs all day on Friday, we were trying to decide where to go for dinner. Mark and Jared asked Glenn, the owner of Mermet Springs for suggestions and he said El Tequila in Metropolis. If that’s a suggestion, of course we’ll take it! It had a 4 out of 5 stars on Trip advisor, so that’s good, right?

Glenn said to make sure to get the cheese dip, so of course we did. Now, the salsa was good, the cheese dip wasn’t bad, and the two combined made for a pretty good combination. Memaw (my mother in law) wished that the cheese dip wasn’t so runny, but as it started to cool down it thickened. Mark said that’s why it was so thin at first, so it allowed room to thicken.

I ordered the Chile Relleno plate. It was 2 Chile Rellenos and rice and beans. I opted out the beans. So what’s a Chile Relleno? It’s a pepper stuffed with cheese, battered and fried, then covered with ranchero sauce and cheese. WOW! It was spicy. I love these things but wow, this thing made my mouth on fire. I had to eat cheese covered chips to void out the spice. But would I get it again? You betcha.

Overall the food was good. The service was a bit lousy. Hopefully it was just a bad night. They were fairly full… One of our party, Nelda ordered a Taco salad minus the onions. Instead of getting her that, the waiter brought her a Fajita Salad minus the onions, then argued with her that’s what she wanted/ordered. Later he said there weren’t onions on the Taco Salad so he just figured that’s what she meant. It was a bit of a mess. Let’s just hope they were having an off night.

Next up is Fat Edd’s. We didn’t actually eat here on this trip, we ate here last year. A group of us ate here this year though. It’s kind of a tradition. Definitely a place to go, especially if you like Peel and Eat Shrimp.

So the sign tells you what to do. This is a bit of a strange way to order, but it works for them. You order/pay for your food at the counter. Drinks are ordered at the table and paid for there. They do have a full service bar, so maybe that’s why the separation? I don’t know. In the past we’ve had really bad waitress service on the drink order. I never heard what the service was like this year.

You order at the menu. When you order the shrimp, it comes to the table with you, but the rest of the food, including appetizers, you get called to come pick up. You pick your food up by your number they give you.

They are known for their Peel and Eat Shrimp. I don’t like it, but that’s what they’re known for and a lot of people do. So if you like it, definitely come for that reason if nothing else.

A meal can be made off the appetizers. These are Firecracker’s. They are Jalapeño Cheese Sticks. They are out of this world! Amazing.

JT told us we needed to order this the first time we ate here. This is Buffalo Chicken Dip. Oh yum! Between this and the cheese sticks, I’m not sure you need anything else. The good thing to do though is to come as a big group and share appetizers with everyone!

I went with the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich. Turns out, I’ve ordered it every time we’ve eaten there which is quite funny. It’s good, but the appetizers are better.

Breakfast. Breakfast. Everyone needs Breakfast! If you’re in need of Breakfast, go to the Huddle House. It is actually right next to the Super 8 Hotel we stayed at so hey, that’s close. The hotel has complimentary breakfast, but it’s definitely nothing compared to Huddle House.

I went with the Philly Cheesesteak Omelet, loaded hasbrowns, and wheat toast. The omelet is a 3 egg omelet filled with steak, onions, green bell peppers, mushrooms, and cheese. I like Philly Cheesesteaks so there is that…. The loaded hashbrowns are a must. They are hashbrowns topped with cheese and bacon. Bacon makes everything better. And Wheat Toast because I kind of gave up eating white bread a few years ago. I actually prefer Wheat bread.

There… this shows what it looks like. Holy YUM!

And that concludes this issue of Where to Eat in Metropolis, Illinois.

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Italian Grill on Broadway {Paducah, Kentucky}

Once upon a time, my friends and I took a trip to Metropolis, Illinois, to go SCUBA diving at Mermet Springs. When we were finished one night, we were hungry, so we googled restaurants around after deciding upon Italian and came up with the Italian Grill on Broadway in Paducah, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River.

We loaded up in our vehicles, made the 8 or so mile trek, dropped one of our party members off to go get us a table and proceeded to find a place to park. We weren’t having luck finding a place to park and then got a phone call from Mark (who was the lucky sole dropped off) that there was a 4 hour wait. Man do we know how to pick restaurants or what?!?!

Jump forward a year and we planned on making reservations because if the wait was that long, the food must be excellent! That year jumps us forward to this past weekend. Thursday we loaded up and headed to Metropolis, Illinois, again only this time we had reservations to eat at Italian Grill on Broadway Thursday night. There were 6 in our vehicle and John and Nelda joined us for dinner so we had a great group of 8 people enjoying Fine Italian Dining.

The waiter came to get our drink orders and then brought those as well as Olive Oil/Balsamic Vinegar for dipping our delicious bread in to. (ours looked like a smiley face at one point)

The bread was Italian with a Garlic butter on top topped with Parmesan Cheese. YUM! And the dipping oil was excellent with it.

The waiter mentioned at the beginning before he took our orders that salads were no longer included with the meals. He said they had so much waste, and instead of doing the salad, they’ve added in extra meats that are in the dish of your choice to make up for the lacking salad. Although you can add a salad to your meal for an additional cost.

Now the food. Oh the food. So one thing we learned last year when researching this restaurant is they make all noodles in house that day. Yes, those are FRESH Noodles. Will we be able to go back to pre-packaged noodles ever again?

So this is my meal. I ordered Steak Gorgonzola Pasta. Now the waiter said that any of the pastas already made had no substitutions. If you wanted something or wanted something left off, build your own pasta was the route to go.

My Steak Gorgonzola Pasta is a hand cut NY Strip, grilled your way (not over medium, I went medium rare), in a creamy gorgonzola sauce, sautéed spinach, onions & mushrooms, and served over fresh pasta.

Mark and Jared got the same thing. Karen and I laughed and asked if it was bad that they tend to order the same thing, but I don’t think it is :). It’s just fun :).

So they went witht he Cajun Pasta with Crawfish and Sweet Italian Rope. So it’s the fresh pasta with roasted garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, cajun spices, and extra virgin olive oil. So I tried a bite… I’m not a seafood type person and it was a little fishy for me, but they ate ever last bite. Then complained they ate to much but couldn’t quite because it was just so awesome.


Our reservations were for 7pm that Thursday night, but we arrived early and they seated us early. The waiter said that the restaurant opened in spring 2015 and when new restaurants open, people from the tri-state area flock to try new restaurants.

They gave us the option of eating downstairs which tends to be a little more quieter or up stairs for the better view. We went for the view.

This is where they were making pizzas when we left but I assume this is also where they make the noodles? It was fun to sit there and watch them working on the pizzas. We stayed a few minutes to watch before moving on down the street to check out this area of Paducah, Kentucky.

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Rancho Grande {Carthage, MO}

A week ago or so when I posted about our meal at Maria’s, that night I really felt like Beef Nachos. Those Beef Nachos at Maria’s are awesome!

Mark got home from work and we were discussing dinner. I mentioned those nachos and we decided to go to Rancho Grande in Carthage. We haven’t been there for a while so it was time to revisit it. We started with Chips and salsa like most Mexican restaurants and ordered a small cup of Queso.

Can you guess what I got? If you guessed Rice and Beans you’d be correct. Oh wait no I don’t eat any beans but green. Okay okay, so I ordered Beef Nachos. Now their beef nachos are different, different restaurant :). They were good. I have to say I think I like a good Cheddar on Beef Nachos a little better, but there were enough here for leftovers and I ate them a couple days later for lunch. Yum.

Mark went with the Super Chimichanga. Basically it’s a Chimichanga with the Rice and Beans inside of it, and then supersized. Best way I can think to describe it. It is Beef I believe. I should have had him cut into it for a better shot of the contents. I didn’t want to bug him though.

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Stables Casino Restaurant {Miami, OK}

If there’s one thing I’m not crazy about, it’s seafood. That being said, my family and most of my friends love it. For almost a month my mom was talking about wanting Crab Legs. Dad happened to see that stables Casino had a Crab Leg Night on a Wednesday for $19.99 all you can eat + sides and a soup or salad so they asked if we wanted to go eat with them.

I’m pretty sure Mark’s response was is the Pope whatever nationality he is? That meant yes, we’re going. We started off with bread. The Italian bread is excellent. I’m a carb lover sadly….

My meal came with a salad as well as theirs. I was the only odd ball out not eating Crab Legs. My salad was just okay.

What did I eat you’re wondering? Well remember I like carbs so I went with Chicken Scaloppini. Sautéed Chicken Breast, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, bacon in a lemon butter cream sauce tossed with linguini. I can’t even begin to describe how dreamy this dish was. I like chicken but sometimes it’s not cooked right. This was cooked to perfection, it was moist and tender. The linguini was cooked to al dente (I’m sure) and the addition of the tomatoes and mushrooms with the lemon butter cream sauce. Oh yum! The bacon was the perfect addition to this dish.

Now, probably the reason you’d come here, that is if you like crab legs… the crab legs. It was crab legs, all you can eat. Let’s just say, everyone both at my table and tables around us were devouring the crab legs faster than the kitchen could keep up.

The saddest part of this meal was it took forever to get our food. I got blamed because I didn’t get crab legs, but I’m not 100% sure it wasn’t because the kitchen couldn’t keep up. I guess we’ll never know.

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Maria’s Mexican Grill & Cantina {Joplin, MO}

I’m sitting here in my nice air conditioned house, under a ceiling fan that makes the room feel nice thinking about taking a nap. But this time last Friday, I was in the Hot. Hot. sun. Why you might ask? Well Horses gotta eat! That’s right, I was out in the hayfield helping my dad and husband pick up 189 bales of hay. I have no idea why we didn’t get 190 or 200, but we got 189.

After we picked up the hay, we delivered 10 bales to some friends before diving into their pool. While the pool was a nice 90 degrees, so you didn’t cool off, it was still nice to hop in for a swim. I’ll bet in the same conditions our pool was maybe 84 max. Our pool is never warm!

Anyway, close to 9pm, we realized it was getting late and we still  hadn’t eaten yet so we dried off and headed to Maria’s Mexican Grill before rushing off to fight the crowds at Walmart. Fun Friday night, right? Hey I don’t mind hauling hay!! and a dip in the pool and dinner was GREAT. It was the Walmart part I might have liked to have avoided.

Anyway while at Maria’s I decided to order Beef Nachos. Oh goodness was this a tasty choice. Chips, good, cheese, good, beef good, and the toppings, YUM. Although I heard it was bad manners to say yum but I just can’t help myself. Yum! Truthfully this sounds good just sitting here thinking about it. Oh goodness… Mark, Beef Nachos Stat!

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Copycat: Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole

If there is one thing that it seems like everyone likes at Cracker Barrel, it would be the hashbrown casserole. There is something about that hash brown casserole, the potatoes, the cheese, the onions, just all of it.

So the goal was to set out and recreate this. First off, onion. Now, Initially I was going to dice the onion up with my knife, but then I decided to get my food processor out and let it do the work for me. In hindsight, I might have stuck with the knife.

Using the food processor is kind of a newer concept for me. Back when I was in college, my parents had satellite tv. I would come home on breaks and I got really into watching Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals. She made Pesto all the time. At the time, this was back in the early 2000’s, I wasn’t real sure even what Pesto was. It was a new concept for me, but I sure knew I wanted to try it! So glad I did too! Anyway, that year for Christmas I wanted a Food Processor. I got one and then it sat in a box for a while because I didn’t have my own kitchen.

It came with all these attachments I didn’t know how to use. One day I sat out to hand grate cheese and Mark was like, why don’t you just use your food process. I’ll tell you… my life was forever changed.

The next thing that is needed for this recipe is potatoes.

After I peeled them, it was time to grate them.

Oh wait NO! Food Processor! It’s time for the food processor and this thing is frigging awesome! In a matter of no time I had all 6 potatoes grated and ready to go. If I’d have hand grated them it would have taken me every bit of 30 minutes…. this was done in like 5 minutes or something.

So I threw the potatoes, cheese, and onions into the bowl and time to mix. It is easiest to mix by hand.

Now comes time to mix the milk, melted butter, and seasonings. In hindsight (it’s always a learning curve when you cook) I would mix my seasonings in with the potatoes, cheese, and onions instead of the liquid. You get a better distribution of seasonings that way.

Then it’s time to bake.

It bakes for an hour, at 30 minutes yank that puppy out of the oven and stir it. That helps distribute and get a more even cooking.

Finally, the masterpiece is finished. Now this is a picture of this recipe tripled. In a normal helping you get an 8×8 pan of this deliciousness. Triple the ingredients though and you need the big thick lasagna pan to hold all this deliciousness.

Cracker Barrel Hash brown Casserole
2 large potatoes, peeled and grated
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup milk
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 425˚F.

In a large bowl combine the potatoes, cheese, onion, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Lightly coat an 8×8 inch square baking dish with butter (because everything is better with butter!)
Spread the potato mixture into the prepared baking dish.

In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, melted butter, and broth. Pour the liquid mixture over the potato mixture.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes.

Cool a couple minutes to allow the potatoes to firm up. Serve and enjoy! You’ll be thankful you did!

Copycat: Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

by Nicole Willoughby
Prep Time: 10-30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Ingredients (serves 9)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
In a large bowl combine the potatoes, cheese, onion, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Lightly coat an 8×8 inch square baking dish with butter (because everything is better with butter!)
Spread the potato mixture into the prepared baking dish.
In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, melted butter, and broth. Pour the liquid mixture over the potato mixture.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes.
Cool a couple minutes to allow the potatoes to firm up. Serve and enjoy! You’ll be thankful you did!
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