These wedding cake white cake mix cookies are sweet, buttery, and almond-flavored. They taste just like the cakes at Federal Bake Shop, my favorite bakery!
Nothing Stays the Same
In these fast-paced times of technology and social media, it’s rare for things to stay the same for long. Our attention spans are so short. We’re constantly seeking something new, something different, something better. Right or wrong, it’s just the way that our society is these days. It’s the reason that websites must update their look every few months and stores and restaurants seem to be in a constant state of remodeling. It’s rare to walk in to an establishment that looks the same as it did two years ago, much less ten years ago…or twenty. Even rarer is to find a spot that still features essentially the same menu that they did a generation ago.
Federal Bake Shop
Federal Bake Shop in Hixson, Tennessee is one of those rare places, though. Now, when I was a kid – like, a non-driver – it was located in Northgate Mall, so that’s where my earliest memories come from. However, when I got a little older, it moved to its current Hixson Pike location. I can honestly say, though, that besides the location, little has changed there in my nearly forty years (shhhhh….I still have a couple of years to go).
My Favorite Bakery
Once I attained my driver’s license, my best friend, Angie, and I began our constant visits to Federal Bake Shop, or “The Fed”, as we called it. Eventually all of our friends adopted that moniker for the shop too. Their white, almond-flavored cakes were absolutely the best, so we would each order two of the 50 cent cupcakes with white icing from the case and round out our order with a gigantic chocolate chip cookie to cut the sweetness of the icing. I feel certain that after we ate our sweets we probably met up with our friends at the McDonald’s down the road and ate quarter-pounders then went home and lamented our weight (oh, teenage self…).
Cupcakes = Love
Not much has changed, at least as far as Federal Bake Shop is concerned. It still looks the same on the inside, with the bakers and decorators clad in their white uniforms and hairnets. The smell of almond extract oozes from the walls and boxes of thumbprint cookies topped with colorful jolts of that rich icing call to you from tables when you walk in the door. You can, of course, purchase a whole cake (on which they will scrawl the message of your choice in icing) or even a slice. They sell doughnuts, cookies, bundt cakes…lots of assorted confections. My choice will always and forever be the cupcakes, though…that icing on their white cake just cannot be beaten. Forget flowers; when Philip wants to buy me something to show me how much he loves me, he comes home with half a dozen cupcakes (seriously). My sister and I buy each other Federal Bake Shop for our birthdays, two weeks apart. Everyone needs to be on a sugar high throughout their birthday month.
Cake Mix Cookies
Cooking and baking from mixes is not something that I do often. I certainly do not have a problem with boxed mixes; I just find an element of catharsis in starting from scratch, building a cake or pie or cookie from the ground up, so to speak. However, on a recent trip to the grocery store, something made me think of cake mix cookies, which used to be one of my favorites, then I thought about white cake mix cookies. With almond extract stirred in. Topped with white almond-flavored icing. Wedding cake white cake mix cookies. I wanted a cookie that tasted just like Federal Bake Shop’s cakes.
I made one batch of white cake mix cookies as a “test batch” in case they didn’t work. I’ve attempted to make icing that I thought tasted like Federal Bake Shop’s before, unsuccessfully. I’m not sure what happened, but this recipe clicked the first time that I made it. I excitedly texted my sister, who was just as excited as me. Later in the week, I made a double batch of the cookies and divided them up into three plates, taking one to Angie, one to a friend who recently moved away and was driving through on vacation, and keeping the third (we did share with some friends who came over for dinner). Everyone who has eaten them has declared them a victory.
Yield: 20 cookies
The proportions for the eggs and oil in this recipe came from the blog Somewhat Simple .
10 minPrep Time:
10 minTotal Time:
- 1 box white cake mix
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1-2 teaspoons milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, mix together the cake mix, eggs, oil, and almond extract until a dough-like consistency forms and no clumps of cake mix remain.
- Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet using a 1 1/2 inch scoop or a tablespoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until light golden around the edges, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Allow to cool completely.
- When the cookies are cool, make the icing. Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and almond extract using an electric mixer. Add enough milk to get a spreadable consistency. Ice the cookies. You should have just enough icing for one batch of cookies. After standing for 20-30 minutes, the surface of the icing will have a dry consistency.
You probably wouldn’t think to check on E. 23rd Street in Downtown Chattanooga for great pizza, but Home Slice Pizza has got you covered!
Have you ever noticed how some of the best places to eat are the most unassuming places? Perhaps the place that you have driven by 1000 times and never even noticed, let alone bothered to stop into. Or the little Thai place in a strip mall somewhere that you literally had to search out on Yelp when you were not feeling a downtown excursion in an unfamiliar town. Or the pizza place that you might have heard of but then forgot about, located in a little corner of a hotel just off the interstate, in the midst of a bunch of fast food places and gas stations.
That, my friends, is Home Slice Pizza. I think that I had seen something about it when it opened, but then kind of forgot about it. A search for somewhere to eat downtown or in North Georgia so we could make a quick getaway to Beverage World for Philip to look for some loot turned it up and off we went.
When we got to Home Slice Pizza, located on one end of The Chatt Inn on 23rd Street, I wasn’t even sure it was open. There were no cars out front and from the outside it didn’t appear that there were any lights on. I was wrong, though, and we went on in to be waited on by Jimmy. He explained the menu to us and made some recommendations.
The space is tiny – a counter for ordering and four tables. Jimmy explained that, right now, most of their business is take-out. They also work with a local delivery service so patrons can have their pizza brought to their home. Jimmy told us that the owners of the hotel had been trying to bring in a restaurant that would last to that location. They hired a general manager with lots of restaurant experience to come and build it from the ground up. While the owners are involved, they allow the team working in the restaurant lots of room to create and experiment. They are hoping to expand to a second restaurant, hopefully in the Hixson or Red Bank area. The second restaurant would have more space than the current restaurant.
When we see garlic knots on a menu, we are basically required to order them. When Jimmy told us that their garlic knots were pretty much fantastic, it was settled. For $5, we got an order of soft and pillowy rolls coated in garlicky butter and a crap ton of Parmesan cheese, plus a cup of warm marinara sauce with a generous serving of cheese sprinkled on top of it too. My criteria for a great garlic knot: soft on the top with a tiny bit of crunch on the bottom, a little chew to the bread inside (but not too much), and tons of flavor. These checked those boxes nicely.
The Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch pizza sounded amazing, but I decided ultimately to go with the Meatball Meltdown. This may sound crazy, but I have never eaten a pizza with meatballs on it. I can’t think of a chain pizza restaurant that offers them, nor can I think of another locally-owned pizza joint that I have noticed offering them, though that could definitely be an oversight on my part. The Meatball Meltdown was made with Home Slice’s sweet and savory sauce, double cheese (!!!!), fresh garlic, and fresh, sliced meatballs. The small was $7 and a perfect size for one person. Actually, since I had eaten the garlic knots beforehand, I was only able to finish 3 of the 4 slices. The pizza was exceedingly (but not excessively) meaty. The cheese made for a perfect cheese pull – too bad I didn’t get a picture of that! The crust was a little crunchy and perfectly chewy with a good amount of garlic seasoning on it.
Philip when with Jimmy’s recommendation and got the Oh Captain, My Captain pizza (also $7 for a small). The Oh Captain, My Captain is made with their sweet and savory sauce, cheese, pepperoni, spicy sausage, chicken, bell peppers, diced onions, and mild wing sauce on a garlic crust. All the flavors went together perfectly and the wing sauce provided a great finish to an already delicious pizza. One thing I was particularly impressed by was the freshness of the chicken. Often, when I eat chicken on a pizza or in a pasta dish in a restaurant, it tastes like it has been sitting in the fridge for a few days. This chicken did not taste like that at all.
Home Slice Pizza also serves sandwiches, wings in a variety of flavors, and desserts (deep-fried Oreos! Deep fried Twinkies! Cinnamon knots!). Unfortunately, we were way too stuffed from our pizza and garlic knots to get a dessert. But that is a good thing, right? That means that we really enjoyed the pizza. By the time we left, the restaurant was full and we were actually rushing to move from our table to make space for another couple that had come in. We found the prices to be very reasonable and especially liked that they offer a personal-sized pizza. We tend to prefer different toppings on our pizzas and that can be problematic when you are forced to share a larger sized pizza. Additionally, Jimmy was extremely friendly, helpful, and customer-oriented.
If you are out on 23rd Street, check out Home Slice Pizza. Actually, make a special trip out there to try it. It’s definitely not what you would expect in this area and it is 100% worth the trip!
Home Slice Pizza is located at 2000 E. 23rd Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37404. Their hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. You can call them at 423.531.3500. For more information, you can check out Home Slice Pizza’s website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
2 Sons Kitchen and Market, owned by Chef Nathan Flynt of Famous Nater’s food truck fame, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Downtown Chattanooga.
I’ve been meaning to get down to Nathan Flynt’s (of Famous Nater’s fame) new restaurant ever since it opened earlier this year. We don’t get out much, at least not during the week. When 2 Sons Kitchen first opened they were not open late on Saturdays, which meant that we weren’t going to make it since Philip was working every Saturday morning.
Ironically, they are now open later in the afternoon and evening on Saturday but I actually visited for brunch. Becky from A Calculated Whisk and I like to meet for coffee or lunch or dinner or whatever excuse we can make to get together from time to time, so we decided to do some brunching at 2 Sons Kitchen. By the way, breakfast/brunch is served until 10:30 a.m. on weekdays but until 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
When you enter 2 Sons Kitchen, you grab a menu off of the counter (specials are listed on a blackboard on the wall as well) and order from a cashier. You are given a number, you choose a table, and your food is brought to your table.
The promise of a homemade biscuit is really all I need to be happy, and if there is chicken on it, even better. I didn’t even have to think about my order of a fried chicken biscuit ($4) with a hash brown ($2) on the side, plus a coffee ($2.50 because I wanted a lot of coffee). Unfortunately, the cashier misheard my order of “chicken biscuit” for “bacon biscuit” so that’s what came out at first, but the mistake was quickly corrected and I got my oversized fried chicken biscuit with a drizzle of hot sauce and housemade pickles. The pickles and the fried chicken batter were both just a little spicy, and paired with the hot sauce it made for a pretty spicy biscuit sandwich (I would have actually preferred for the hot sauce to be served on the side as indicated on the menu, but it was still delicious). Nathan cuts his biscuits with a knife instead of cutting them with biscuit cutters, which results in having to work the dough less and therefore a more tender biscuit (this is the trick I use, too). The biscuit was pretty perfect – flaky and tender…I consider myself an expert biscuit maker and I was definitely impressed. The hash brown was incredibly brown and crispy, well seasoned, and SO good. I could have eaten nothing but hash browns.
Becky went for the quiche of the day ($6.50), which was listed as a wild mushroom quiche but turned out to be a kale and cheese quiche. Since there were greens in the quiche, she subbed hash browns for the mixed greens with lemon vinaigrette. She said that the quiche was very tasty but she did feel that it could have been just a little bit warmer, and while she liked the greens in the quiche she was disappointed that they didn’t have the wild mushroom quiche. She too really liked the crispy hash brown.
The service at 2 Sons Kitchen was great; all of the employees that we encountered were very friendly. The atmosphere was great – very clean, bright, and modern. The only issue was with my biscuit and that was quickly addressed. The prices were very good – the total for my biscuit, a hash brown, a 16-ounce coffee, and the quiche + side was $16.39 + tax. I definitely recommend 2 Sons Kitchen for breakfast, and knowing Nathan’s cooking, I’m going to take bet that it’s a great place for lunch or dinner as well.
2 Sons Kitchen and Market is located at 422 E. MLK Boulevard, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37403. They are open Monday – Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday – Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast is served until 10:30 a.m. daily except on Saturdays, when it is served until 3 p.m. You can call 2 Sons Kitchen at 423-661-8709. For more information, you can check out their website, www.2sonskitchen.com. You can also follow 2 Sons Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint, part of a small regional chain, is one of Chattanooga’s newest places to get a great burger and a beer.
There are few things better in my opinion than a great burger. It’s pretty widely known that I love burgers-I mean, I have done not one but two top burger lists…so it shouldn’t be surprising that when Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint opened downtown people started telling me about it and asking if I had been.
So it took me a while to get there. I took some time off from writing restaurant posts when life got a little hectic back at the beginning of August. We finally got to Jack Brown’s a few weeks ago, on a lazy Saturday…Philip’s first Saturday off in months.
In the early afternoon there were not tons of tables taken, and the bartender told us to feel free to sit wherever we’d like. We chose a table by a couple of regulars from the shop and started looking over the menu. Philip chose a bottled beer (Victory Golden Monkey). They have eight taps and a wide selection of bottles and cans.
The two bartenders waited on us (and I didn’t catch their names…the receipt just said “bar share”). I asked for a recommendation between the basic cheeseburger and the Greg Brady. Our server recommended the Greg Brady without hesitation, and it was definitely hard to resist: a wagyu beef patty on a potato roll, topped with creamy macaroni and cheese and Martin’s BBQ chips. The burger patty was the way that I make it at home: thin and a little crispy on the edges, with that soft potato roll soaking in any juices. The creamy and cheesy mac and the crunchy BBQ chips were a perfect foil to the burger. I ordered sweet potato fries, which were just basic crinkle cut fries but were served with a slightly sweet, slightly spicy mayo-based sauce with what I think were finely minced shallots in it.
Philip went for the special. There is a daily special with Saturday’s special being a “freestyle” chef’s choice burger; I didn’t write down the name of that day’s special and can’t remember it for the life of me! No matter, though. It was the wagyu patty between two cinnamon pancakes, with bacon and maple syrup. I know that sounds a little crazy, but dang, it was delicious. And now I need to make a pancake burger.🤔Philip went for the regular (crinkle cut) fries, which were also served with the sauce that mine came with. In hindsight, we could definitely have split the fries.
We are not usually dessert orderers expect on special occasions, but when fried Oreos are on the menu it’s pretty hard to resist. At $1 each, it was hard to resist getting a couple. Battered, deep fried, and tossed with powdered sugar, these tiny confections were pretty irresistible. I love an Oreo dipped in milk, but deep frying = next level Oreos.
Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint is a fun little place with a friendly staff and some tasty and well-cooked burgers. The prices are pretty average: our total for two burgers, two orders of fries, a beer, and two fried oreos was $32.75 pre-tip. Check it out for yourself!
Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint is located at 818 Georgia Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37402. They are open daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. You can call them at 423-682-8198. For more information, check out Jack Brown’s website or follow them on Facebook.
Mad Philly, located in the Shallowford Road area of Chattanooga, is the newest place in town to get an awesome and authentic Philly cheesesteak!
Unless you are a non-meat-eater, it’s hard to argue with the appeal of a Philly cheesesteak – very thinly sliced steak fried on a flat top griddle until it’s just a little bit crispy, served on a crusty yet chewy roll with whatever gooey cheese is your poison. Maybe some fried onions or some mushrooms too…I mean, why not?
Living in the south, though, a great cheesesteak is not exactly easy to come by. I’m not hating on Charley’s (at Hamilton Place) because Lord knows I’ve eaten my share of steak & cheese sandwiches there. I’m going to go out on a limb, though, and guess that your average visitor from Philadelphia is not going to bite into a Charley’s sub and proclaim that it is equal to Pat’s or Geno’s (for those of you who are unfamiliar, Pat’s and Geno’s are two renowned cheesesteak shops that are definitely rivals for the top spot in Philly – and they are located across the street from one another).
I first heard mention of Mad Philly on Facebook and immediately went to check out their Facebook page. Run by a Philadelphia transplant, Mad Philly boasts authentic Amoroso rolls that are shipped straight from Philadelphia to become the vessel for their cheesesteak sandwiches. Much to my chagrin, they aren’t open on the weekends. Luckily, their location (on Shallowford Road, near Steamboat, which is another great sandwich shop) is pretty convenient to the shop, so I was able to make a stop in on the way to work an evening shift.
4:45 p.m. on Wednesday isn’t a busy time for them, but I’m thinking that all bets are probably off during the weekday lunch hour. I paid for my Original (with fried onions and American cheese, add mushrooms just because), Philip’s Pepperoni Pizza Steak (with mozzarella, pizza sauce, and pepperoni), an order of hand-cut fries and an order of tots ($17.75 pre-tip) and my food was out within 10 minutes. On top of that, Alyssa, who rang me up, was very friendly and upbeat.
I was pretty hungry by this time, and the smell of cheesesteaks, fries, and tots was pretty overwhelming in the car. Some guys at the counter in the shop were eyeing the sandwiches hungrily too, so hopefully I scored some additional business for Mad Philly right there. My sandwich was pretty much perfect – gooey and a little greasy in the very best way, with perfectly seasoned and cooked meat. Say what you will about American cheese, but it’s tradition and nothing melts quite the same. I say you can’t beat it where the purpose is gooey meltiness. The only thing I would have changed was the mushrooms, which I think were canned. I ate half of my sandwich for dinner and saved the other half for the next day’s lunch.
Philip’s sub was gargantuan! I think it was actually the same length as mine, but the addition of the pepperoni and sauce made it seem huge. It was definitely much messier than mine…it was positively dripping with red sauce. I took a bite and it was definitely tasty, although not really the style of sandwich that I prefer (mainly because I say that there is no need to mess with the perfection of cheesesteak). The fries were excellent – tender but crispy, well-seasoned – and the tots were, well, tots. I would definitely like to try some of their topped fries or tots (i.e. Philly Cheesesteak fries, pizza tots, etc.).
Cheesesteak lovers, you need to check out Mad Philly. They are located at 5959 Shallowford Rd, Suite 201, Chattanooga, TN 37421 (in the same building as We R CPR). They are open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are closed on Saturdays and Sundays (though they are available for catering on Saturdays, and I don’t know how much merit there is to it but I heard a rumor that weekend hours may be on the horizon – so get out there and check them out so they’ll know it’s needed!). You can call Mad Philly at 423-531-9449 (WHIZ). For more info, visit their website, madphilly.com or find them on Facebook .