Hey y'all! I am so sorry I have been quiet over here for the last few weeks. We have had quite the whirlwind and I am finally coming up for air. The last time I posted, it was Labor Day weekend, then we had Hurricane Irma hit (all safe, no trees down this year, thank goodness!), and then we drove to Atlanta to hop on a plane to Berlin! And the day after we returned from Europe, it was back to substitute teaching for me. So today - I have a day off, and I'm writing to all of you, and to make up for lost time, it's a long one. Thank you so much for being patient and I hope you enjoy these photos and reflections.
At the end of September, Ryan and I took a trip to Germany and Prague with our best friends, Alan and Rachel. We became friends with them a few years ago because they worked with Ryan. We have spent many a Saturday at their house watching WVU football, belting it out on Rock Band, playing Cards Against Humanity, Munchkin, and cooking out on their Big Green Egg. When they decided to ABANDON US and move across the country, we were very sad. But we quickly planned this trip together, and I have to say, just reuniting with them was maybe the best part of the whole trip.
First of all, how gorgeous is this? This was one of the many views of the German countryside we experienced during our first full day of our trip. We landed in Berlin late the night before and took an early morning train to Prague, mostly spent catching up, playing Catchphrase, and pausing to take snapshots like these.
Old Town Prague is pretty dope. We stayed in a massive apartment through Old Town Square Apartments that was so comfortable and equidistant to so many restaurants and the Old Town Square itself. The Astronomical Clock tower was under construction but we were able to see the clock itself. And despite all of the street vendors, the Charles Bridge was excellent for views and fresh air.
Our first night, we went to this amazing bar: Hemingway Bar. Having been to Cuba, I was expecting Latin flair, mojitos, and daquiris, but it was a complete 180 from that. This bar was tucked in an alleyway (much like La Bodeguita del Medio, actually) and had this gorgeous gold glow to it downstairs, and the upstairs where we sat had these gorgeous leather chairs and sexy atmosphere. The drinks themselves were truly creative - the names, the flavors, and the "glasses"! The drink I had was the Taste of the Forest, which was served in a regular rocks glass, nestled in moss, on top of a carved piece of wood, and garnished with a burning twig of spruce tree. It was maybe the best drink I've ever had in my entire life. Ryan had The Light Side, served in an R2-D2 cup (!!!) and Rachel had the Christmas in Havana, served in a snowglobe! You can check out their signature cocktail list and what vessels they're served in here. This place was amazing.
On our second day in Prague, we went on an amazing tour through Taste of Prague. Their website is awesome and really helpful, if you ever find yourself in Prague. Our guide Jan had more knowledge about Prague history and food than I knew was possible for one person to know. He was also funny and kind and felt like a real friend by the time we departed.
So. This is a food blog after all, I'm sure y'all want to know what we ate. Luckily, Taste of Prague gives you a breakdown and even a few recipes at the end of your tour, so I have a list of where we went and what we ate! And a few photos as well.
These are some samplings we had at our first two stops. In the picture on the left are "chlebicek", open-faced sandwiches, which are typical lunch or party food, Jan told us. The top is a classic potato salad-Prague ham-egg "chlebicek", and the bottom is a beet root with goat cheese "chlebicek" that we enjoyed at Sisters bistro. The beet root chlebicek is definitely a recipe I'm going to recreate here on the blog, so stay tuned for that. And I was so happy that Ryan tried beets! And mayonnaise! Next to Sisters bistro is Nase maso butcher shop, where we tried meatloaf on bread with mustard, a slice of Prague ham, beef flank with a rosemary au jus, and beef steak tartare. The picture on the right is the beef tartare. The quality of each of these meats was excellent, as these guys are truly skilled butchers. I was blown away.
Our next stop was Next Door restaurant - the reason it's called Next Door is because it is literally next door to Cafe Imperial, one of the most famed restaurants in Prague. We had crispy roast duck, sauerkraut, and potato dumplings, accompanied by the Vimperk Next Door beer. This was Ryan's favorite dish, maybe of our entire trip. Confession: this was my first time ever having sauerkraut, and I didn't hate it.
We moved on to Bokovka Wine Bar in this cool old courtyard. The bar itself was cool and dark inside, like being in a cave. We learned a lot about Prague wines, including such small batches that the wine maker's home phone number was on the labels! The wines we tried were the 2015 Creme de National Parc by Mr Nejedlik, the 2015 Welschriesling by Mr Gala, and the 2013 Karmazin by Mr Stavek.
Our last stop was at Eska restaurant. The entire kitchen was open downstairs and had these amazing jars filled with pickling vegetables everywhere. We ate upstairs and enjoyed maybe my favorite meal of the tour. The first dish is fermented red wheat (similar to farro) with raw button mushrooms aand sauteed black trumpet mushrooms and pickled spruce tops. The sauce was creamy and the red wheat had a great crunch and the mushrooms provided an earthiness and the spruce tops were the perfect tangy compliment. But, I love mushrooms, so, of course I loved it.
The second dish is a potato cooked in ash with a potato espuma (sauce), grated egg yolk, chives, dill, and smoked carp. This was really interesting. There was smokiness from the ash and the carp, and the potato sauce was creamy and the herbs brightened up this otherwise heavy dish.
We also had zemlovka - a bread pudding with apples in an espuma of vanilla and rum. It wasn't my favorite (sorry y'all) because I don't like cooked fruit, but I still tried it! The espuma was excellent though, and the spices reminded me of Christmas.
We left the tour here with full bellies, smiles on our faces, a guide to the best food and drinks in Prague, and a number 2 pencil! (They were invented there) Please go to Prague, and when you go, please do this tour. I wish I had written this post immediately after so I could have remembered more facts about Jan (he went to high school with our Lord and Savior, Beyoncé!) and about Prague (how food was regulated by quantities to serve 100 people and no flavor during communist power). Thank you for a wonderful time, Jan.
Okay, this was just a very small part of our Euro-trip, so stay tuned in the next few days for details on the rest of our trip! Still to come: Munich, Oktoberfest, my favorite place in the whole world, and Berlin.
Hi everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Labor Day weekend - I know I did! We went out for a fantastic birthday dinner and I had a divine cake made by a fellow Charleston small business owner, Cakes by Kait. Kait made our wedding cake and cupcakes almost three years ago and for my last birthday of my twenties, I knew I wanted something special. On top of the fun birthday festivities, we had gorgeous weather here in Charleston, just in time for Hurricane Irma* to potentially hit us.
In the spirit of celebrating the last weekend of summer *sob* and an impending tropical storm, I wanted to make something decidedly summer-y. You can thank Mr. Ryan Pekar for this dish, by the way. After having a back-to-school cold for two weeks I have been feeling under the weather and subsequently, unmotivated. Of course, it happens to the best of us, and now my taste buds are finally coming back! He and I were taking an evening walk through our neighborhood and he suggested making a bright and fresh recipe that would make you all think of summer all year long. So I came up with this citrus marinated chicken and I really hope y’all love it.
*Hurricane Harvey has devastated so much of Houston, and we are anxiously awaiting what happens with Irma here in SC. Please consider donating to local Houston charities such as food banks and animal shelters. We hope to fare better here in Charleston, and our hearts are with our Southern neighbors in Texas.
Flavor components: lemon and lime juice and zest bring that tang and brightness that is always needed when you make chicken, especially when you grill. I also included my fave ingredient, pineapple white balsamic vinegar, which I first told y’all about in my tostadas recipe here. I really think I could drink that by the spoonful. For a little smoky spiciness that also enhances the citrus flavors, I added a little cumin. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon catch on that cumin may be my favorite spice. If you haven’t tasted cumin before, it almost tastes like lemon zest that has been smoked but also has a slightly floral note to it. A pinch of red pepper flakes brought a dash of heat, garlic is a marinade staple for it's punch of flavor, and I emulsified it with a robust olive oil.
You may notice that the photos in this post look different than usual. For my birthday, my sweet husband bought me some lighting equipment to help my photography skills for my dear readers. Our kitchen doesn't always get the best lighting, so hopefully these will help, once I get the hang of them! Ryan was also the photog for this recipe, so I could use both hands and get dinner on the table faster. Enjoy his edgy angles!
For the marinade: zest two lemons and two limes.
Add the juice of both lemons and limes.
Add 3 tbsp of pineapple vinegar (see my note on how to make this in my tostadas recipe if you can’t find this vinegar).
Sprinkle in 1 tsp of cumin.
Add a pinch each of red pepper flakes and black pepper, and two pinches of salt.
Add 1 tsp of minced garlic.
Gradually whisk in 1 cup of olive oil.
Place all of the pieces of chicken into the marinade.
I used a large pack of thin sliced chicken breasts when I made this because I was feeding four people and also wanted leftovers for lunches. Because they were already cut thin and it was getting close to dinner time, I only marinated these for 1 hour and that was plenty of time to impart the perfect juicy tangy flavor.
After 1 hour**, grill over medium-high heat on a grill pan (like I did, because we’re out of propane) or on an outdoor grill for 5 minutes per side. If you’re making a large batch like I did, cook the chicken in batches, keeping the cooked pieces warm in a 275 degree oven until all pieces are finished.
**If you marinate for longer than 2 hours, the enzymes in the citrus will begin to tenderize the meat too much, which will result in mushy chicken.
This chicken was juicy and tender, tangy from the citrus, had a slight smoky sweetness from the cumin and vinegar, and just the right kick from the red pepper flakes. I am going to make this chicken well into the fall and winter - I would say “with the help of my grill pan” but it doesn’t get cold here, so once we replace that propane tank, I’ll get back to grilling these for real. Enjoy, friends!
Here’s the recipe!
Shrimp & grits are a staple here in the South and are on every brunch menu in Charleston. The first time I made shrimp & grits for Ryan, he was very reluctant, but he truly enjoyed it. This dish has the perfect combination of flavors and textures - creamy grits, juicy shrimp, acidity from the tomatoes, and smoky bacon.
So join me in celebrating (it's my birthday) over the Labor Day weekend and make this awesome brunch dish. (One of my parents' friends even told them that these shrimp & grits are better than any they've had before.)
All photos in this post are from Joel Gilmore.
Ingredients for the grits: 1 cup grits, 2 cups water, 2 cups milk, salt, butter, cream cheese, and cream.
Fat and I were not buddies like we are now when I made this recipe. I now suggest using heavy whipping cream and full fat cream cheese but choose what's best for you!
I make grits using a 4:1 ratio of liquid:grits for the best results. The add-ins of butter, cream cheese, and cream can be used in measurements of your preference.
Ingredients for shrimp sauce: Peeled, deveined shrimp, 1 can diced tomatoes, garlic (about 1 tsp), bacon.
Start by pouring the milk and water mixture for the grits into a large pot. The grits expand as they cook, so use a slightly bigger pot than you think you may need.
Add a large pinch of salt and turn the heat to medium-low.
Heat the liquid until it's almost a simmer, about 5 minutes. You should hear a slight hiss and see small bubbles like this if you tilt the pot. If you let the liquid boil, it will scorch the milk and make it taste bitter/sour.
Next, whisk in the cup of grits. Keep whisking until the mixture feels combined and no grits are resting on the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat to a simmer and whisk occasionally, every 2-3 minutes, for 15 minutes.
We'll come back to these - onto the scrimps! Or srumps, as my nephew used to call them.
Start with bacon. Everything worth eating starts with bacon. I use scissors to cut mine into small pieces, because the bacon will continue to cook in the pan with the sauce - these are not used for crumbles.
And PLEASE always start bacon in a cold pan. If the pan is hot and cold bacon goes into it, the bacon is more likely to burn. The same goes with cooking slices in the oven.
Start cooking the bacon and rendering the fat. Like I said, you don't want these to get crispy, just let them begin to brown and melt.
Crack open the can of tomatoes and pour it into the pan with the bacon.
**Don't forget about your grits back there! Remember to keep stirring them every 2-3 minutes to evenly distribute the heat and keep them from sticking.
Stir in one teaspoon of garlic.
Let the bacon, tomatoes, and garlic simmer and get friendly for a minute while you add some love to the grits.
Add cream cheese and butter to the grits. This is about 2-3 tablespoons of each here and I felt the texture was just right. If you like your grits super thick, add a few more tablespoons of cream cheese. If you like your grits thinner, add more butter.
And for some decadent silkiness, splash in about 1/2 cup cream. Give the grits a final stir, cover, and turn off the heat. These will stay plenty hot while you cook the shrimp.
Gently nestle the shrimp in the simmering sauce.
Cook the shrimp in the sauce for 2-3 minutes per side, until they are opaque and cooked through.
Then it's time to plate!
Ladle some smooth creamy grits into a bowl and top with a big spoonful of the shrimp and tomato bacon sauce.
Comment below with your favorite brunch dish, or your favorite birthday dish!
Here's the recipe!
First - sorry it's been so long since you've heard from me! We have been so busy this past week! We visited with my side of the family in Lake Keeowee and had the most perfect view of the eclipse last weekend, then Ryan started a new position on Tuesday, and I began substitute teaching again on Thursday. I've been so busy juggling all of that and finalizing our plans for visiting Germany in a few weeks that while I have been cooking (don't worry!), I haven't had the time to sit down and write it all out for y'all. Please forgive me and try this recipe!
I decided to pick a quick, easy, and minimal effort dish to give y'all as a reflection of what our life has been like this week. Have you ever had company casserole? This was a dish my grandmother made for us all the time growing up and it has always been one of my favorites. I like to tell people that it's basically a spaghetti casserole - ground beef, tomato sauce, noodles, and cheese. I wanted to make my version low carb and used shirataki noodles for the first time. The result was almost, and I really do mean almost, like 99.99%, exactly like the real thing. If you want the traditional carby goodness, use egg noodles or bowtie pasta to get the perfect chewy texture and a hefty noodle to hold the sauce and cheese. This ain't for angel hair, folks!
Ingredients: 3 packages of fettucine shirataki noodles*, 1 lb ground beef, 1 small can of tomato sauce (I like to buy the low-sodium or no salt added, so I can control the amount of salt in my dish), 8 oz. cream cheese, and 16 oz. cottage cheese.
*Shirataki noodles can be found in the produce section, usually near the pre-made salads and vegan cheese.
Bring the cheeses to room temperature (or as close to it) at least 2 hours before cooking. If you're pressed for time, soften the cream cheese in the microwave so it will mix well with the cottage cheese.
When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 and start browning the beef.
When the beef is browned all the way through, drain the fat and discard it once it's cooled.
Add a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and the can of the tomato sauce to the beef. Stir over low heat until well combined. This mixture can sit at room temperature until ready to assemble the casserole.
Next, prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse them really well. Then boil for 3 minutes, drain again, and lay on paper towels to dry out.
I like to bring my water to boil while the beef is browning, then while it's simmering and getting saucy, I cook the noodles. This way, both the noodles and the beef are ready to go at the same time.
Now it's assembly time!
Combine the two cheeses into a smooth mixture - this is where room temperature helps.
By the way, bringing the cheeses to room temperature is the only thing that needs to be done somewhat in advance for this recipe. The beef can be done earlier in the day, the night before, or can be leftovers. Imagine how good taco meat would be! The noodles can also be prepped and cooked in advance and kept in the fridge. Although, the shirataki noodles take no time at all. But leftover pasta from family Italian night works great here. Just throw everything together like we are now.
Add the cooked and drained noodles to the cheese mixture, add a pinch of salt, and stir to combine.
In a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, start with 1/3 of the beef. I like to do 3 layers of beef and two layers of the pasta/cheese mixture, but do what works for you. You could even mix it all together!
Next, add half of the noodles and smooth out to cover the beef evenly.
Keep layering the beef and noodles until you've used everything up. Then put the casserole in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheeses have melted and combined with the tomato sauce and beef, and made the noodles more tender and it's all just one creamy gooey dish.
After 30 minutes, let the casserole sit and cool slightly for 10 minutes to allow everything to set up, like you do with lasagna. When you do this, it won't spill out all over the plate; the casserole will stick together better.
Ahhh. Yum. I was so happy this turned out just as delicious as the original. It was slightly more liquid-y than when you use egg noodles, so if that's an issue for you, use half the container of cottage cheese instead of the whole container.
And Ryan even got seconds!
Here's the recipe!
Alright, now let's talk about what y'all really want: themed cocktails!
I picked up all of these ingredients (except the mini bottles) at my BI-LO when I shopped for my snacks and really, these drinks could not be easier.
This is what we're drinking: a Blue Moon beer (get it?), white wine starfruit spritzer (didya get that one?), and an eclipse soda (I'm funny, I swear).
Below are the ingredients and recipes for each drink:
Beer with an orange slice garnish. That's it! We're also going to use the orange for the eclipse soda.
For the spritzer, you'll need SEGrocers Grapefruit Sparkling Water - which is beginning to win first place in my preferred sparkling water (sorry, La Croix) - starfruit, which you can find by the pineapples and papaya in BI-LO, and dry white wine.
I like a dry white wine in this recipe as opposed to a sweet wine or a buttery wine. The starfruit provides the sweetness you may be missing if you normally prefer sweet wines, and a buttery wine would be too heavy for the sparkling water to cut through to truly be refreshing. A pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc is my recommendation for this.
Slice the starfruit and place a few in a wineglass. If you really want to bring out the tart and sweet flavor of the starfruit, dice it up and add a tablespoon of the little pieces, or muddle the big slices in your glass!
Top with ice.
Pour in some wine - about 1/3 of the glass.
Then top with seltzer! I used about half of the can here. Feel free to play around with the ratios of wine to seltzer, depending on how boozy you want this to be. Starfruit + sparkling water is also a great mocktail!
And make it pretty with one more slice of starfruit!
Alright, eclipse soda: Chek cola (I used diet because I like it), yellow sugar sprinkles, the slice of orange I mentioned earlier but didn't photograph, and if you want to spike it - your favorite liquor.
And let me just say, I love mini bottles. I had the idea to mix Diet Chek with vanilla vodka because I love vanilla cola, but wasn't sure I wanted to commit to spending $20+ on a regular sized bottle of vanilla vodka if I didn't love it. Enter: the mini bottle. For a dollar I was able to make a delicious single serving cocktail, and now that I know how it tastes, I will be going back to buy the big bottle. I didn't end up using the black cherry whiskey, because the vanilla was too darn good!
Pour the sprinkles into a shallow dish, run a slice of orange (or lemon, or lime, or dip in simple syrup - the world is your cocktail bar!) around the rim of the glass, then dip in the sugar.
Fill the sparkly glass with ice.
Then test your upper body strength trying to pour a glass of Diet Chek from a full 2-liter while also trying to take a picture.
And now we see how the soda gets it's name - from above, it looks like an eclipse! The dark soda is the moon and the yellow sugar sprinkles are the sun! Fun, right?
Psst...if you want to be a little naughty, add in a splash of your favorite liquor. This alcoholic vanilla Diet Chek was DELICIOUS.
Let me know in the comments below: which cocktail is your favorite, any variations you tried, or what's on your eclipse playlist!
Hey everyone! The solar eclipse is coming through Charleston on Monday, the 21st, and we are expected to get over 1 million tourists in town for it! Yowza. I'm pretty sure I've only seen one other eclipse in my lifetime - on the back porch at my grandmother's house with a pinhole camera - so needless to say, I'm pretty stoked about it.
Y'all know I love a good theme, so why not throw a party with a few fun eclipse snacks? I stopped by my beloved BI-LO and picked up some things to munch on while we rock our eclipse sunglasses Monday.
First, pizza crescent rolls. Who doesn't love pizza? No really. I'll wait.
The crescent shape makes these "eclipse-y" because they're like mini moons!
I wanted to make plain cheese ones because that's what I like, but feel free to add diced pepperoni, chopped olives, peppers, or pineapple and ham!
And the best part about these - they are quick and easy to assemble, so are perfect for after school snacks to put together with your kids any day of the year!
2. Lay each triangle on the baking sheet. I like to cut mine in half to get more bang for my buck. Also, my mom made us do this when we made pigs in a blanket as kids and I always hated it, but I now realize, it always meant I got double the snacks!
3. Place a small spoonful of sauce on the wide end of each triangle.
4. Spread the sauce down the length of the triangle. This is also where you should sprinkle on the oregano, but I forgot about it until almost the end. You'll see.
5. Next, add a pinch of cheese and any other toppings. If you choose to use more than cheese, either dice them very small or don't cut your triangles in half like I did. You'll need a little more dough to support heavier toppings.
5. continued: this is the amount of cheese you're looking for. It's fine if it spills off the edges of the triangles - you can scoop it up once you roll them and press the leftover cheese onto the top of the crescent roll.
6. Starting at the wide end, pinch from the bottom and roll with your fingers until you get a tight little crescent roll. Pinch the left and right ends and curve them towards each other if you want your rolls super crescent-y. I'll admit, this is harder to do when they are tiny, but like I said before, double the snacks!
7. Sprinkle each roll with a pinch of oregano and then grated Parmesan.
8. Place these tasty cheesy bites in your preheated oven for 13 minutes, until golden brown.
For another fun snack, BI-LO had this perfect hole-y Swiss cheese and I knew I had to have it as part of my eclipse party spread. The holes in the cheese remind me of the craters in the moon, and I think all kids think the moon is made of cheese at some point, right?
We have two snacks that represent the moon, so now we need a representative snack for the sun - Starbursts! These are also the perfect sweet, tangy, and juicy treat.
**Another dessert idea would be to take sugar cookies from the bakery section and dip them 3/4 of the way in melted chocolate, to mimic the sun being eclipsed by the moon!
What a stellar platter!
I'm hilarious, I know.
If you want to make your party truly out of this world (sorry, last one), serve other eclipse themed snacks and treats like Milky Way bars, Sun Chips, Moon Pies, or Eclipse gum!
And stay tuned for a post on Eclipse Party Drinks tomorrow!
Remember in my post about Game of Thrones ribs, I mentioned wanting to have a theme for last season's premiere? Well, what good is a themed dinner without a themed cocktail? I searched high and low for a cocktail that was pretty, had a cool name, and didn't need a million specialty ingredients.
Lo and behold, I came across a list of themed cocktails on my favorite website: Betches. While that link has other cocktails besides the White Walker, you'll notice that the others require those million specialty ingredients I mentioned and 100% did not feel up to searching for. The White Walker had ingredients I basically already had at home, except I made one small change...
I searched for the gin the Betches mentioned, but just couldn't find it anywhere. Since it's really only needed for that icy blue color to match the eyes of White Walkers, I thought I'd add a splash of Blue Curacao instead. The flavor is citrusy, which I thought went well with the drink since it has lemon and triple sec already. Mini bottles are 99¢ at most package stores, and unless you are super into Hawaiian punch bowl drinks, I doubt you'll ever need to buy a whole huge bottle of it.
So we're using 2 oz. gin, literally a splash of Blue Curacao, 1/4 oz. triple sec, 1/2 oz. lemon juice (use fresh if you have it, I forgot to get lemons at the grocery store), and 1 (tbsp) egg white.
Start with 2 oz. gin...umm there's a lot of ice in the shaker.
I've also used vodka with this and it's just as good. So if you're not a gin drinker, use vodka instead!
Add a drop of Blue Curacao. And yes, I know the rubber lip of my shaker is wonky. My birthday is coming up, it's on my list.
Add 1/4 oz. triple sec. A full 1/2 oz. is a little too sweet for my taste, but feel free to add the full 1/2 oz. if you like your drinks a little sweeter.
Add 1/2 oz. lemon juice.
Add 1/2 oz. / 1 tbsp egg white.
Place the other cup on the shaker and shake 50 times to get the egg white super frothy and the drink nice and icy cold.
Voila! Icy blue, slightly sweet, frothy and tangy. This is almost like a palette cleanser, it's so light and refreshing.
Make one of these and sip on it while you re-watch last night's episode of Game of Thrones.
Here's the recipe!
These ribs have a Pavlovian response with my husband, and let me tell you why.
The first time I made them was for the season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones, in April 2016. We were having our best friends over to watch the premiere and I wanted to make a very Westerosi dinner, which in my mind means a big ol’ hunk of meat you eat with your hands. I didn’t think Tomahawk steaks were the right answer but ribs, ribs I could get behind. What better “finger food” to eat while you watch people in furs sword-fight for world domination? It was just barbaric enough for Game of Thrones but also perfect for a summertime cookout with friends.
Every time I’ve made these ribs since then, Ryan has asked, “When does Game of Thrones come back?” Hence, the Pavlovian response. Needless to say, I made them for the season 7 premiere this year - while Skyping with our best friends. Also, it was raining - that’s how dedicated we are to these ribs.
With half of the seventh season already over, I wanted to post this recipe in time for any fans to make this for their viewing parties. And if you don’t watch, these ribs are great for the last summer cookout before school starts, or upcoming Labor Day weekend. Enjoy!
6-24 hours before you plan on cooking the ribs, begin with a dry rub. You will need ¼ cup brown sugar (dark or light), ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, and ½ tsp each salt and pepper.
Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and lay on a large sheet of foil on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle half the dry rub on each side of the ribs and using your fingers, press it into every inch of the rack of ribs, making sure they are completely coated
Tightly wrap up the ribs in the foil. Use an extra sheet of foil if needed so the ribs are completely covered. Put the ribs in the fridge for 6-24 hours, until ready to cook.
About 2-3 hours before you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 300. Place the ribs, still tightly covered in foil on the baking sheet, in the oven for 2 hours. The name of the game here is low and slow, and keeping them wrapped in foil will trap any steam and keep them nice and juicy.
After 2 hours, let rest for 15 minutes while you preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Letting the ribs rest before throwing them on the grill will allow any juices to redistribute into the meat so the ribs don’t dry out on the grill.
Take your ribs out to the grill and make sure you have your essential tools: tongs and a brush for the sauce.
These are the pre-sauced ribs. That rub has already given the meat a nice color and tons of flavor, and you can see it has been steaming and cooking in it's own drippings to keep the meat nice and tender.
Brush one side of the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce, then place (carefully - the ribs are already super tender) sauce-side down onto the grill. Close the lid and let a crust form for about 3-4 minutes. Brush the exposed side of the ribs with sauce, then flip. Close the lid again and let a crust form on that side for 3-4 minutes. If you notice too much char, turn the heat down on the grill to medium. Continue saucing and flipping one to two more times, then remove from the grill.
I like to let my ribs rest for another 10 minutes before I slice into them, partly to let juices distribute throughout the meat like before, and partly to let me finish any side dishes I’m working on.
Slice and go to town!
Some people do just a dry rub method, some people just use a sauce. Some people only cook in the oven and some only cook on the grill. I like my combination of all methods. The dry rub begins flavoring the meat way before it begins cooking, the foil and the low oven heat makes sure the ribs get tender and juicy, the sauce gives it that sweet stickiness and the grill provides that perfect smoky char. Trust me, you will make these year-round.
Here’s the recipe!
Let me start by saying, this is my absolute favorite salad and it couldn't be easier to make. So easy, in fact, that I didn't even think of blogging about it until I told my best friend about it and she told me I HAD to. Of course, I told her about it after I'd had my first bowl (this makes roughly 3 big servings) yesterday for lunch, so I don't have full step-by-step instructions like usual. Luckily, you don't need em! Like I said, it's that easy.
What you need: 1 medium-sized head of Napa cabbage*, the breast meat from a rotisserie chicken, a large tablespoon of cilantro**, and the dressing ingredients I'll detail below.
Chop up the top 2/3 of the cabbage (the bottom is super crunchy but can be kind of tough) and place in a large bowl. Remove the skin from the breasts of the rotisserie chicken and shred with your fingers, add to the bowl. Finely mince a handful of cilantro, which should result in a large tablespoon's worth of cilantro pieces, and add to the bowl. Toss.
*Napa cabbage is usually above the regular cabbage in my Bi-Lo. It's tall instead of round and is white at the bottom and curly and pale green at the top. It's very mild in flavor but crunchy and refreshing and absorbs dressing very well.
**If you don't like cilantro (it's genetic!), that's totally fine. You can leave it out. I just like the freshness it adds to the salad.
Dressing ingredients: 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp sriracha, 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/3 cup olive/vegetable oil, 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tbsp Chinese hot mustard, 1 packet of sweetener or 1 tbsp of honey. Blend everything together in a blender or individual smoothie blender like I did, or just a whisk is fine.
As you can tell by the volume in these containers, these are pretty much all ingredients I have in my fridge at all times. Even if you buy some of these just for this recipe, they are relatively cheap and last a very long time.
I cannot take credit for this dressing recipe. This comes from my FAVORITE cookbook of all time, Chrissy Teigen's Cravings. She also has a Chinese Chicken Salad recipe (hence where I got the dressing from), which looks fantastic, but I just wanted a basic salad with cabbage and chicken. Buy her cookbook below!
The salad and dressing should be stored separately until you're ready to eat. As sturdy and crunchy as Napa cabbage is, the tender green parts will get soggy if the dressing has been left on too long. I keep the salad in a large bowl in the fridge and the dressing in the individual smoothie blender I used to mix it all up, then combine when I make my bowl.
Spoon a big portion of the salad base into a bowl.
I like to top my salad with a tbsp of sliced almonds and a tsp of sesame seeds for color and texture.
Then top with the dressing and dig in!
This recipe makes about 3 large salads, which I find is perfect for making lunches for the week. When you assemble the salad base, you can go ahead and divide the salad into 3 separate containers, and divide the dressing into 3 smaller containers to pack up and take to lunch every day. Trust me, you will not get tired of it by day three. There are days I want to eat two servings in one sitting, I love it that much. If you want to serve this entire salad as a starter for dinner, go ahead and toss everything together before serving, no need to portion out.
And this dressing would be fantastic on so many things, not just salad. It would make a fantastic marinade for ribeye steaks, or a lovely sauce on top of grilled salmon. The hot mustard and sriracha provide just enough heat to feel a tingle on your lips, and the vinegar has the perfect tang that keeps you wanting more. Believe me, you'll love it.
As much as I wish she knew who I was, Chrissy Teigen doesn't, and in no way is this post sponsored by her or her team. I just love her cookbook.
Here's the recipe!
Full disclosure: Cooking Savvy blog is an Amazon Associate and may earn a small portion of revenue if you click the link in this article and buy the cookbook. The link is independently placed and does not influence content.
Happy Friday everyone! Today I wanted to share with you a great recipe for burgers and fries that is perfect for the weekend. I have been making my burgers this way since my Junior year in high school (see: home page photo) and have been getting rave reviews ever since. A lot of professional chefs and home cooks prefer to form the patties and then season the outside with just salt and pepper before throwing on the grill or in the skillet. That's all fine and dandy, but I like to have a lot of flavors going on when I have a burger, which is why I add seasonings to the meat before I cook it. I find it makes a juicier burger that really leaves me, and my guests, satisfied.
I also like to serve these with seasoned fries. A friend of mine took me to Bocado in Atlanta many many years ago and while their cheeseburger was fantastic, I really loved their herb fries. So I created my own version and am giving you that recipe now. Let's get started!
Here's what ya need for the burgers: *1 pound of ground chuck, preferably an 80/20 ratio, 1 tbsp ketchup, 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp Lawry's, 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
*This may not look like an entire pound, and that's because it's not. When my dad was here shooting these photographs, my husband had to leave for work so I took out a quarter of the meat and made him a quick burger before he left. So right now this is 3/4 of a pound - which means 1 pound = 4 people
Here are all of the ingredients together. It's also important to note that just like steak, hamburger meat does better when it's closer to room temperature. Its easier to form the patties when the meat isn't ice cold and they stick together better on the grill or in the skillet.
Mix it all together and form four patties from 1 pound of meat.
Place patties on a plate.
And here's what ya need for the fries: a bag of your favorite frozen french fries, 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp fresh or dried dill.
Set the oven to preheat according to package directions for the fries, then throw however much you want on to a sheet pan. When you place the fries in the oven, start preheating the grill or skillet to medium-high for the burgers. If you're using a skillet, put about 2 tbsp of oil in the pan before adding the burgers. Then cook until brown on the first side, about 4 minutes, then flip. In the last minute of cooking on the second side (another 4 minutes), top with a slice of cheese of your choice. If the fries have a little more time, take the burgers off the grill/skillet, place on a plate, and cover loosely with foil until ready to serve.
While the fries are in the oven, mix together the topping. I used a mortar and pestle, which I absolutely love for mixing together spice rubs and flavoring like this. They're surprisingly affordable and look really pretty in your kitchen. Get mine using the link below!
The mixture should be well combined when finished.
When the fries have finished cooking, immediately sprinkle on the seasonings and toss to distribute. Sometimes I'll pop them back in the oven for a minute or two while I plate my burger to make sure the seasonings are really stuck on the fries and heated through.
And then make yo' plate!
This is a great Friday night dinner for a family of four, or even one person! That's what's kind of great about both ground beef and frozen fries - you can portion them out. Place whatever ground beef you don't use into a Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out, and freeze. Frozen fries have directions on the side of the bag for 1/4 of the bag or 1/2 of the bag, so just cook 1/4 (because we all love fries) of the bag, or 1/8 of the bag and adjust the time down by about 3-4 minutes.
Here's the recipe!
Full disclosure: Cooking Savvy blog is an Amazon Associate and may earn a small portion of revenue if you click the link in this article and buy the cookbook. The link is independently placed and does not influence content.
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.