Restaurant Revisited: Muskrat Mayhem at Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
In Smyrna, Del., the Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant is indeed a family-run business, owned and operated by three generations of women: grandmother, daughter and granddaughter (Patty Gallegos, Sheila Furman and Jessica Furman, respectively). Their restaurant is known for its classic preparation of a local delicacy — muskrat — but beyond that, it has struggled to succeed, serving primarily frozen food in an old-fashioned space. If their business was to have any hope of thriving in the future, Patty, Sheila and Jessica would need Robert Irvine‘s support to revamp the menu with crowd-pleasing dishes that go beyond muskrat and to enliven the interior with a fresh, welcoming design. In just two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team helped this family learn to work together and ultimately reopened Wagon Wheel as a made-over eatery that they could be proud of. We checked in with Jessica a few months after the transformation to find out how the business is doing today.
Her mother, Sheila, is no longer working at Wagon Wheel, so Jessica will be relieving Patty and running the restaurant immediately after her graduation later this month. “I am excited to get back to work, to do what I wanted to since the beginning: make the Wagon Wheel profitable,” she tells FN Dish. “I want to become more involved in the community and create a place that people can go with their families to have a nice dinner with a great vibe.”
She plans to institute a system of guidelines at the Wagon Wheel, which she hopes will in turn create a more positive work atmosphere for the employees and pleasant dining experience for customers. “I feel that setting standards is an important part of returning the restaurant to profitability,” she explains. “Everyone is doing what they can and also what they want, because no one is in charge to reward good behavior or reflect on negative issues.” Increased communication between all workers at the restaurant — managers, front of the house and back of the house included — will also help to equalize expectations. “With open communication from not only owners and managers but with the entire staff, no one is left in the dark to wonder what is going on,” she adds.
Since reopening, the updated decor at the Wagon Wheel has been well-received by customers and staff alike. “My favorite part of the new design is the hostess stand and the divider wall,” Jessica admits. “It makes the restaurant look more professional and is a great thing to see when you first walk in the door.”
In terms of the menu, they’ve kept muskrat on the list of offerings. According to Jessica, “It is what we are known for and it is only seasonal.”
Looking ahead, Jessica tells Dish that she’s confident Restaurant: Impossible has given her and the business the foundation they need to succeed. “I feel that the show has really helped to set a basis of what I want to go back there to achieve.”
More From Restaurant Revisited:
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)
Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering (March 24)
Soup to Nuts Diner (March 17)
Caseyville Cafe (March 13)
Maniaci’s Italian Restaurant (March 10)
Dinner Bell Restaurant (February 27)
Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin (February 20)
Sapori D’Italia (January 23)
Windseeker Restaurant (January 16)
Whiskey Creek Steakhouse (January 2)
Rising Sun Bistro (December 19)
Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri (December 9)
Bronk’s Bar and Grill (December 5)
Rohrer’s Tavern (November 28)
Poco’s on the Boulevard (November 21)
Oleander Bar and Grill (October 17)
Valley Inn (October 10)
Whistle Stop (October 3)
The Maple Tree Cafe (September 26)
Michele’s (September 19)
Paliani’s Restaurant (September 12)
Frankie’s (September 5)
Gusanoz (August 29)
3 Ways to Make Meatloaf More Kid-Friendly
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Who doesn’t love meatloaf? Well, plenty of people, actually — especially kids. The other issue is making it healthy enough to feel good about serving to your family. As the mom of three kids under age 4, I also need quick and easy techniques for getting dinner on the table fast. These are some of my favorite tricks to use (bonus, these work for meatballs, too):
1. Use organic whole oats in place of breadcrumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe. Or combine half breadcrumbs with wheat germ to boost the nutritional value of your binder.
2. Add extra veggies. If your recipe calls for cooked onions or carrots, add 1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed, or finely chopped peppers. Neither will be detected. Even simpler: Just double the amount of veggies in the recipe.
3. Make it miniature. I always cook several small meatloaves instead of one big one. Everything is done (and smothered with ketchup) within 35 minutes, and everyone gets their own meatloaf.
Try this recipe: Food Network Magazine‘s Mini Skillet Meatloaves (pictured above)
Making Mashed Potatoes More Kid-Friendly
Macaroni and Cheese Made Even More Kid-Friendly
Charity Curley Mathews dreams of raising kids who eat (and enjoy) real food. A former VP at MarthaStewart.com, she’s a contributor to The Huffington Post and heads up Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. Together with her husband and three small children, she now cooks in North Carolina.
VOTE: Introducing the Star vs. Chopped Summer Showdown
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
To have a little summer fun with some of our favorite Food Network chefs, we challenged two prestigious groups — Chopped judges and Food Network Star winners — to a recipe showdown. All summer long, we’ll present head-to-head matchups of mouthwatering summer recipes from each team — from refreshing cocktails to fresh farmers’-market salads to the juiciest backyard burgers. By voting each week here on FN Dish, you’ll determine the winning recipes.
At the end of the summer, the team that tallies up the most wins will celebrate with an all-star Labor Day party menu. Who will prevail as Summer Showdown champion — Star or Chopped?
We’re kicking off the heated competition with three summer all-stars: frozen drinks, grilled steak and corn on the cob. Who made it best? Cast your votes below!
Frozen Drinks: Jeff Mauro’s Spiked French Vanilla Milkshake vs. Alex Guarnaschelli’s Blackberry and Gin Slushie
Jeff’s decadent milkshake offers nostalgic flavors with a grown-up twist. It’s made with French vanilla ice cream, malted milk powder and a raspberry coulis spiked with raspberry liqueur.
Alex blitzes macerated blackberries, gin, club soda, lime juice and ice in the blender for a cool adults-only summer treat.
Whose chilled, blended drink are you craving?
Grilled Steak: Geoffrey Zakarian’s Rib Eye Steak With Romaine Marmalade vs. Guy Fieri’s Tequila-Lime Flank Steak
Geoffrey’s grilled steak is amped up with a bright sauce made with romaine, watercress and cilantro. He crowns each juicy rib eye with a pat of butter for an Iron Chef-worthy summer dish.
To take his grilled flank steaks to Flavortown, Guy makes a tequila-spiked marinade, reserving the extra for a tasty sauce. He serves the sliced steak with warm tortillas so everyone can wrap it up, fajita style.
Who wins this steak-off?
Grilled Corn on the Cob: Melissa d’Arabian’s Spicy Grilled Corn vs. Aarón Sánchez’s Corn With Chile-Lime Butter
Melissa gives her corn a kick by coating it with butter mixed with smoked paprika and red pepper flakes before grilling it in foil.
Aarón takes this summer staple to the next level by slathering the corncobs with a chile- and lime-spiked butter and charring them on the grill.
Who makes the better side?
For more favorite summer recipes, check out Food Network’s Grilling Central. Head back here to FN Dish next week for a new Summer Showdown matchup!
Easy Raspberry Tiramisu — Most Popular Pin of the Week
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
The secret to making this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, Giada’s five-star tiramisu, is layering the ingredients so that the raspberry jam and mascarpone-cream mixture turn crunchy lady fingers into soft, cake-like bites.
For more everyday recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Cook: Recipe of the Day board on Pinterest.
Get the recipe: Giada’s Raspberry Tiramisu
Lactose Free vs Dairy Free
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
There are a variety of non-dairy “milks” and products ranging from “cheese” to “ice cream” to “yogurt” available at most mainstream supermarkets. Depending on your reasons for choosing them in place of conventional cow’s milk, you may need a refresher on the difference between dairy-free and lactose-free products.
Lactose-free milk and milk products are beneficial for people suffering from lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is very common, especially in adults. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 30 million Americans have some degree of lactose intolerance by the age of 20. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk products. In order to digest lactose properly, the body produces an enzyme called lactase. In people with lactose intolerance, the body stops producing adequate amounts of lactase, causing symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea and nausea. Individuals with lactose intolerance may find that they are able to eat small amounts of products that contain lactose without experiencing symptoms. Sometimes they may be able to tolerate products such as yogurt or goat’s milk more easily than cow’s milk. Lactase tablets are also available for lactose intolerant individuals to help them digest lactose.
If a product is labeled lactose-free, that does not mean it is necessarily dairy-free. People who seek dairy-free products may be vegan or have an allergy to dairy. Vegans avoid all animal products, including eggs and dairy, for a variety of reasons, including health, religious or ethical views. Individuals with a dairy allergy are allergic to either one or both of the milk proteins, casein and whey. Milk allergies are more common in children and some people grow out of them. Symptoms may include hives, wheezing and vomiting, and in some severe cases, anaphylaxis. The only sure way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid all products containing dairy. Vegans and people who have or are caring for someone who has a dairy allergy should become comfortable with reading food labels because whey and casein are often present in unexpected places, including some canned tuna, certain protein powders and some non-dairy cheese products.
When it comes to purchasing lactose-free and diary-free foods, it’s best to read the ingredient list on the food label so you can identify things like casein in a product. However, once you know what ingredients to avoid, it can be fun to try the various lactose- or dairy-free options your grocery store has available. Experiment with coconut, almond, soy or hemp milks, ice creams and yogurts like So Delicious products (a personal favorite; I avoid diary due to lactose intolerance) which offer a variety of dairy-free frozen dessert options, as well as milk and yogurt options and Silk products which offer a variety of dairy free milk options. There are also a variety of sliced, shredded and cream cheese products available like those from GoVeggie! which come in lactose-free and dairy-free options which are color labeled depending on the line. This makes for easy, worry-free purchasing.
What are your favorite lactose-free or diary -free products?