Summer Sippers, Tequila…

Margarita SQ

I love Margarita’s….always have.  Over the years, I’ve refined my taste for them…originally loving the super sweet, slushy kind you get from one of those big Margarita machines, but now loving the traditional kind, good tequila, lime juice, ice, salt and a splash of Grand Marnier.  But you don’t always have to choose a Margarita to enjoy Tequila in a cocktail.  And no, I am not talking about shooters, (I’ve done plenty of that when I was younger!) or even the old-fashioned Tequila Sunrise…oh the memories of that… But so many other fruity options are available to enjoy your Tequila!

One thing I am so excited to talk to you about…that my family is sick of hearing me talk about, is my new-found obsession lately with Podcasts!  I have a few favorites, some are Social Media related, pertaining to my new business, but the rest are all food-focused.  My favorites include America’s Test Kitchen, Spilled Milk…and recently, The Sporkful  had a Tequila podcast, and it’s a must listen.  Do you have any Podcasts you are obsessed with that you want to share with me?

Taken straight from The Sporkful blog, “Like so many people, Dan was scarred by tequila at a young age, and hasn’t been able to drink it for years. In Sporkful Episode 159, he sets out to overcome his aversion and learn to appreciate good tequila with help from Ilana Edelstein, author of The Patron Way: The Untold Inside Story of the World’s Most Successful Tequila.  Dan rates each tequila they taste by how strongly it evokes the “hot car trunk” rating in which that fateful bottle was stored so many years ago, and Ilana shares recipes for a couple of her favorite tequila cocktails.” 

It’s very informative when it comes to how Patrón is made and classified.  I am TOTALLY trying her recipe for Margaritas that includes Squirt! 🙂  You can also sign up to be a member of the Patrón Social Club with access to recipes, events etc.

So I don’t really have a “recipe” for you today, as when I drink Tequila, in the past, it’s been as a basic Margarita.  However, I did make a small batch of Rhubarb Syrup the other day, you can find the recipe here, and because I used the green variety of Rhubarb, it ended up looking much like a normal Margarita!  So here’s the basic recipe for that drink…you can play with the amounts…

Tequila, choose a good one, like Patrón (2oz. +/- per drink)

Grand Marnier (orange & cognac, 1/2oz. +/- per drink)

Lime juice, fresh limes…or if you have to, the best mix you can find/buy

Rhubarb Syrup (see link above for recipe, 2oz. +/- per drink)

a splash of something bubbly…I used Seagrams Orange Citrus sparkling seltzer water

Ice

Rhubarb Margarita

If you are paying attention, you’ll notice the drink above is slightly pink….I may have added a bit of Pomegranate juice to it….so it looked more “rhubarb-like”…don’t hate me 🙂

Anyway, here are some great ideas of ways to enjoy Tequila beyond the typical Margarita!

Tequila Cherry Mostarda from Mama Knows (Best) Her Cocktails

Another great cocktail I found on Mama Knows (Best) Her Cocktails is for a Tequila Tonic.  It include Coconut Water and a Ginger Simple Syrup…um YUM!

These Fresh Pineapple Margarita’s from Gimme Some Oven look insane!  So fresh & sweet!

I pinned this recipe for Lime Sorbet Margarita’s from Real Simple Magazine a long time ago and know they would make a great refreshing drink this summer!

So many cocktails are emerging lately with Watermelon as a main ingredient!  What says summer more, right?!  The Watermelon Tequila Cocktail from Bobby Flay via Food & Wine is just the ticket!

How about a Cucumber Margarita?  Or a Celery Margarita?  Or even a Red-Chile Guava Margarita?  They are all here in this list of Margarita Recipes from Chow.com

Hope you’ll take a break from this awesomely hot summer we are off to, and enjoy one of these great Tequila cocktails!  Please share with me any great recipes you have for Tequila as well!

Until next time, cheers! ~Shawn

Summer Sippers, fruit/herbs, mixers & cubes…

Bar recipe books...

Greetings cocktail lovers!  First, I am sorry for not posting when I said I would…life took over this past week and so here I sit, 9:19pm on a Saturday night, trying to get this ready for your viewing pleasure as soon as possible!  One thing I failed to mention in my last post, that when you are setting up a bar, it’s helpful to have some sort of bar recipe guide.  I have a couple physical recipe books and probably my favorite one I have for my iPhone, it’s from Food and Wine, it’s free and you can get it here!

This week we talk mixers, cubes, fruit and more!  Of coarse you’ll want the basics for your bar, when it comes to mixers.  Sweet & sour, margarita mix, club soda, tonic water, and various other bubbly sodas etc.  You’ll also want bottles of grenadine, tabasco, bloody mary mix if you are planning on making those.  The recent explosion of “craft cocktails” has found the resurgance of “shrubs” and other delicious “craft” fruit & herb cocktail syrups.  No, I am not talking about the shrub out in the front yard, but about the kind you can mix in a cocktail, taking it to yet another level.  To learn more about what a shrub is, and how to make your own, visit the Serious Eats-drinks section and the “Cocktail 101: How to Make Shrub Syrups”.

shrub-syrups-best

One local favorite making all things fruity goodness, is those you’ll find at HeathGlen Farms.  They offer several different varieties of both shrubs & fruit/herbs syrups, all which you can find listed on their website here.  I’m thinking I need to pick up some of the Ginger Lime Syrup and the Blueberry Tarragon Shrub Syrup!

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 9.19.23 PM

Probably one of the biggest movements within the craft cocktail phenomenon is that of the small but mighty Bitters.  And locally, two gifted bartenders turned craftsmen led the way.  Meet Bittercube.  Not only providing unique Bitters, free from extracts & oils, using only “raw” ingredients, this creative duo provides consultation for food & dining establishments and “designs unique craft cocktail menus for bars, restaurants, weddings, anniversaries, corporate events, and private parties. We also create signature cocktails with event specific ingredients and names.  Beyond cocktail menus, we offer libations expertise and execution for trade shows and other events.

      Mint Simple Syrup Cubes                    Mint simple syrup in cube trays

I am honored to belong to a community of local food bloggers called Fortify.  The other night, I stalked a conversation that was happening in our private Facebook group about someone who was trying to figure out what to make with some orange bitters he recently acquired.  The conversation eventually moved to making simple syrups, something that I had recently started experimenting with myself.  I started off simple (no pun intended) with Mint Simple Syrup and then froze them (as much as they would) in ice cube trays for later use.

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup

Then, feeling a little braver, I tried my hand at Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup.  It was really good, and has left me inspired to try many of the other herbs I have bursting in my garden already.  I envision an Oregano Simple Syrup you could add to sweeten a Bloody Mary or as basic as a Basil Simple Syrup that could be added to the kids Lemonade on a hot summer day!

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup2

Interested in making your own Simple Syrup?  It’s easy!  Take a cup of water and a cup of sugar, place in a small pot on the stove.  Stirring constantly, once the mixture has boiled & the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.  Take your cleaned & dried herbs and place into the pot, cover with a lid and steep for at least ten minutes or until your syrup has infused to your liking.  While perusing one of my favorite cocktail blog sites, Imbibe, I found this great list of Simple Syrup ideas & recipes!  Enjoy!

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I tried my Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup with both Rum & Gin tonight, using Club Soda as my mix.  I preferred the Gin, as I suspected I would.  Both were better with a healthy squeeze of lemon and in the drink made with Gin, I felt I could taste the Thyme better.

Bacon Ice Cubes

And of coarse there’s always fun ice cubes you can use to add a bit of whimsy to your cocktails.  I found these awesome bacon strip ice cubes trays at Target the other day!  If you are on Pinterest, you can follow my Beverages & Cocktails board where I’ve pinned some really fun flavored ice cube ideas!

I hope you’ll expand your cocktail menu and try some of the great things I’ve listed here!  When you do, be sure to share it with me either here in the comments, or by posting a comment on my Facebook Page!

As always, thanks for following along in this #summersippers cocktail series and until next time, cheers!

Shawn

Summer of Salads, dressings…

Salad

First, an apology.  Right out of the gate, I dropped the ball on my posting this series, when I said I would. Originally I hadn’t planned to start this until this weekend, but I wanted to give you a little something to start with, over Memorial Day weekend and so I stupidly started earlier than I was ready for.  I am sorry for that.  I want you to be able to count on me to post when I say I am going to!  So, let’s get back on track, starting with this dressings post!

My husband usually doesn’t use dressing when he has a salad.  Unless its a Caesar Salad, or comes dressed at a restaurant.  So, for me, I sometimes end up just grabbing the bottled varieties, as I just don’t want to go through the hassle of making something special just for me. Not my favorite thing to do, as most of those are filled with things I can’t pronounce and don’t belong in a dressing.  We have tried a million different types of creamy Caesar dressings, which my kids tend to like best.  Recently we tried Ken’s Steak House brand and it was pretty good.  Blue Cheese dressings are also one we tend to buy instead of make.  I like Marie’s Super chunky Blue Cheese dressing, that you find usually by the other refrigerated dressings at the grocery store.  I will also buy the packets of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing at the store for my son and make my own with that, but still don’t feel like I am making the best choice there.  I did find this recipe for homemade Ranch dressing that I am going to try.  If you do, let me know what you thought of it!

Do you make your own dressings ever?  Do you know where to start?  I found a couple of GREAT resources online, that I couldn’t have done any better with, so I am linking them both below.

Gonna Dress You Up In My Love:  Four Easy Vinaigrette Recipes To Make Now” – by The Cuisinerd.  They also give a great “Gear for Yo’ Greens Salad Making Tool Box” list!

and

StoneGable Blog and their “Salad Dressing Primer” where they show you the basic “formulas” for making dressings & vinaigrettes.  I am TOTALLY going to try the Caesar & Green Goddess dressing recipes!

Watermelon Vinaigrette - Liv Life

I also was on Facebook the other day, and one of my foodie friends posted a link to this gorgeous Arugula Salad with a Watermelon Vinaigrette from the food blog www.http://livlifetoo.blogspot.com (photo credit to Liv Life) and new cookbook “Vinaigrettes and other Salad Dressings” written by Michele Anna Jordan.  I NEED this dressing & cookbook!

Strawberries

And last, one of my favorite things to do it Pin things on Pinterest!!!  It’s actually been super helpful, researching for this series and my #summersippers cocktail series as well.  One recent Pin, was for this Roast Strawberry Balsamic Dressing, I am dying to make!  Strawberry patches around me will soon by bursting with fresh fruit destined for this dressing!

dressing bottles

So, you don’t have time to make your own dressing and need help narrowing down the overwhelming store-bought varieties?  It’s okay, don’t freak out!  In addition to those I mentioned above, a couple other  favorite lines for us are Newman’s Own Dressings.  I especially like to use the Parmesan & Roasted Garlic to make a killer & quick pasta salad to take to potlucks in the summer.  We also like to buy packets of Kraft-Good Seasons Zesty Italian dressing and then we can add our own favorite oil & vinegar to it.  Store-bought dressings can be expensive as well.  Shop around, read your labels & share with me some of your favorites!

vinegars

Speaking of vinegars, the choices you’ll find at the grocery store can be just as many!  We usually have several varieties of vinegar on hand.  The basic-white distilled, apple cider, rice wine, red wine and then usually a couple different types of balsamic vinegars, like dark, white, fig and/or pear.

Alessi Vinegars

My favorite line of store bought vinegars are Alessi brand.  In researching them online, I found they also make a Ginger Infused Balsamic & a Honey Balsamic vinegar I have to get my hands on!

Trader Joe's Balsamic Glaze

Last year, while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I found this.  Balsamic Glaze.  I want to put it on EVERYTHING but what I tend to put it on most, is salads.  It’s great when I want the taste of Balsamic Vinegar, but not the tart.  I’ve put it on little crostini’s with fresh Ricotta cheese.  Or on bruschetta made with roasted grapes, Brie cheese & Rosemary (my homage to Swirl My Wine’s dish I had on my birthday…read on!) A little drizzle goes a long way and, like everything at TJ’s, it might not be available when you go in.  Don’t be mad at me for teasing you.

Stillwater Olive Oil Company

Last summer, I spent my birthday with my sweeties in Afton at Swirl My Wine eating delicious nosh & sipping on cold, sweet glasses of wine.  From there, we headed to Stillwater to walk along the St. Croix River and found this great little shop, the Stillwater Olive Oil Company right on Main St.  The Minneapolis-St. Paul area offers many of these great stores, where you can purchase different varieties of olive oils & vinegars.  At the Stillwater Olive Oil Company, they specialize in imported extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and specialty oils from award-winning artisan and small-run producers around the world. You can sample & browse as long as you need to & offer many different sized vessels to take your purchases home in.  I picked out a bottle of Organic Persian Lime Olive Oil and Sicilian Lemon Vinegar.  They were both AMAZING!  It was extremely hard to pick just one of each, but I had to limit myself the first time out!  If you haven’t been, plan a trip soon!

Thanks for reading along today.  I hope I have provided you with some great resources & ideas!  Just remember, a dressing is made to enhance your salad, not take it over!  Plus, many extra calories lie in those creamy, delicious dressings!

Until next time, cheers!

Shawn

Summer Sippers, starting with the basics…

Trio of cocktails

Alright, so here we are, on the verge of the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day weekend.  What do you have planned?  Picnics?  Fishing?  Spending time with those who’ve served and honoring those who can’t be here with us?  Oh yes, that’s what I am planning too!

Will there be some cocktails in your weekend plans?  I know there will be in mine 🙂  And so we begin post number ONE, #summersippers!  Over the next fifteen weeks (if I say it out loud here, I’m obligated, right?) I will share one cocktail post a week..each week, highlighting a different liquor and a few different varieties of cocktails you can make with that liquor.  I am going to get help from some of my amazing Minnesota food blogger friends along the way, so don’t think these are going to be your run-of-the-mill cocktails, I plan to share unique twists on the basics!

So, let’s start today with basic bar set-up.  First, an explanation taken from the Huffington Post Taste blog, of basic alcohol terminology:

Two terms are often confused: liquor (lik-er) and liqueur (li-kur). Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:

Liquors are hard alcohols, a.k.a. spirits, such as gin, vodka, whiskey, or brandy. They are distilled from grains, fruits or vegetables and contain no sugar.

Liqueurs are alcohols flavored with herbs, fruits, nuts and/or spices and have sugar added. A liqueur can be enjoyed sipped as an aperitif (pre-dinner drink) or digestif (post-dinner drink) or mixed to make cocktails.

Bitters are a very concentrated form of liqueur (yet they don’t taste sweet, but rather bitter as their name suggests) used in small amounts (a few dashes is all you need) in drinks and cocktails.

Mixers are non-alcoholic additions in mixed drinks and cocktails. They include sodas, such as tonic water, seltzer, lemon-lime soda, and juices such as cranberry, orange, lemon and lime.

Syrups are used to sweeten drinks and cocktails. The classic type is a simple syrup, made from equal amounts sugar and water heated to a simmer and then chilled. Simple syrups can further be infused with fruits, herbs or spices or they can be made from alternative sweeteners like honey or agave syrup.

I’ve linked to this particular blog post because it gives more great info on what to stock your bar with if you want to make what type of drinks etc.

Next week I think I will talk about Mixers, bitters, syrups, fancy cubes etc.  So we move from the basics, to bases and then we’ll get into the good stuff!

Alright, so your opinion of what to have on hand might be different from mine and that’s perfectly okay!  I am just giving you a basic list of what a home bar might have.

Basic booze set-up

My booze list:  Vodka, Gin, Rum, Whiskey and/or Bourbon, Brandy, Tequila…I like Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau and I like to have Bailey’s and/or Kahlua on hand for bedtime/bonfire sippies or adding to coffee on a Sunday morning!  Of course within each of these categories you’ll have MANY different varieties of that particular alcohol.  For example, Smirnoff Vodka has 33, yes, 33 different flavors of Vodka.  This number doesn’t even include the mixers, pre-made cocktails, malt beverages etc. they produce.  They even have a new line called “Sorbets- without the spoon”.  Check it out here.  I will admit to having a bottle (almost empty) of BACARDI Limón in my cupboard.  But, sadly, I don’t drink enough cocktails (one of the reasons I am doing this post series!) to remember why I bought it and how I drank it! 🙂

Wine & beer opener, jiggerStir sticks & umbrellas

zester, strainer & juicerfun straws

Now let’s talk a bit about bar tools & equipment.  Pictured above, are a few basic ideas of what to start with.  Most of these items are fairly inexpensive to pick up.  I use my zester for cooking all the time so that was probably the most expensive item of the lot.  And don’t give me a hard time for all the colorful straws, stir sticks and yes, drink umbrellas!  My kids love them!  (oh ok, so do I!)

Variety of wine glasses

So, you can probably tell that we mostly drink wine, right? 🙂  Glassware can be a bit tricky and at the same time, you could just use the same type of glass for all of your cocktails!  There is no right or wrong way, it’s your house!  We have white & red wine glasses.  We have stemmed & stemless.  When I was a kid, I would tag along with my grandparents to flea markets & garage sales.  I started collecting mason jars (the large kind I used for flower vases over the years) and match books (don’t ask) and since then have been using smaller mason jars for drinking glasses over the years and now they are actually in style to use as a drinking glass!  Ball even just came out with a retro line of jars in a beautiful blue color.  I gotta get me some of those!

Beer mug & pint glass

Over the years my hubby has collected beer glasses, so we have LOTS of that style beer glass.  Last year, when I was posting about my Beer for a Year (see previous posts) win from Summit Brewery, I picked up these two from their store at the brewery.  I love the mug, but oddly enough, it holds more than just one beer!  So yeah, I guess I have to drink two then, right?

Margarita & Daiquiri glasses

A few years back, my husband and I were on a Margarita kick and I decided I HAD to get traditional glasses to use.  Let me just say, they are adorable, but they are hard to drink out of!  You really have to be quite sober so you don’t spill it on yourself.  And, uh…you are drinking right?  Get where I am going with that?!  🙂  Anyhoo, the other glass pictured is from a set an awesome friend just gave me and could be used for margaritas, daiquiri’s, iced tea and as you’ll see in a later post…sangria!!

Martini glass

So….I had to go buy this gorgeous Martini glass, cause, big surprise, I am not a Martini drinker!  But, I am going to try a few fun things over the course of this series, so we’ll see if that statement remains the same at the end of all this!

Cordial glasses

My husband loves his nighttime “sippies” (don’t get mad at me honey…) so we have always had plenty of snifters, cordials glasses etc.  You can use they glasses for brandy, cognac, even shots.

Rocks & Highball glasses

Above are just a few basic drink glass sizes (there’s the mason jar!)  that you can use to make your basic cocktails.  I am sure you have something in your cupboard that would work.

Additional bar stuff...

In addition, you might want to have a few miscellaneous items as shown in the picture above.  We always have Kosher Salt on hand for cooking; you’ll need this for rimming your glasses for Margaritas.  Lemons, limes, oranges and other fruits (we’ll talk more about that next post) are good to keep on hand.  Bitters, again, we’ll talk about this, but many basic cocktails call for this, so pick up yourself a small bottle to keep on hand.  And for fun, colored sugars are great to use when rimming the glass for some specialized drinks.  More on that as we move along.

Below I’ve listed a couple of great links I didn’t include above.  A delicious foodie-friend of mine, Joy Summers (of City Pages blog & other fame) put together this great list of the top ten Craft Cocktail bars in the Twin Cities for my Minnesota followers.  And the last link is one I found from Martha Stewart and in addition to basic bar set-up, she gives a breakdown of different liquors/liqueurs and cocktails you can create from each.

Top 10 Craft Cocktail bars in the Twin Cities

The Basics on home bar set-up, from Martha Stewart

So friends, I hope you enjoy a long, relaxing weekend and thanks for beginning this #summersippers cocktail journey with me!

Cheers, Shawn

Where’s Waldo?

Where's Wally scene

A favorite book series to many, the story of Waldo (known to the rest of the world as “Wally”), lost in a sea of people & things.  Your challenge, is to find him.  Always dressed in a red & white striped shirt, with goofy glasses & hat.  Can you find him?

I’ve been feeling a bit like Waldo this past month.  This time of year always kicks my a**.  It’s the end of the school year and I am gearing up for a manageable summer with the kids & two jobs.  It’s a juggling act for three months, but, I am looking forward to spending more time with my kids.  Last summer, I was still working at the hotel so they were on their own for the better part of the day, four days a week.  It broke my heart everyday, leaving them.  I want to get them out this summer; to the park, museums, the beach etc. but know I have to balance that with work.  And this blog!  I am super excited to share my two summer blog series with you; “Summer of Salads” #summerofsalads & “Summer Sippers” #summersippers, hopefully both will begin this week!  Today, I just wanted to share some delicious & fun things I have squeezed in the past month or so.  Enjoy!

Tucci Benecch  Homemade Ricotta in the making!

Homemade Ricotta with Balsamic Syrup  Chef Donald & Chef J.D.

Oh my gosh, people, have you ever made your own Ricotta Cheese?  It’s ridiculous!!!!  Both in taste & ease!  (see top right pic) I’ve been seeing posts for the past year about homemade Ricotta cheese and kept telling myself to try it.  Then one night, after watching Chef Donald Gonzalez (shown bottom row, right, with JD Fratzke of the Strip Club in St. Paul) from Forepaugh’s Restaurant, (owned by the company my hubby works for, Taher Inc.) win the Minnesota Monthly Local Chef Challenge (and the $10k prize!), we decided to get dinner at our favorite MOA restaurant, Tucci Benucch.  We had this Ricotta cheese appetizer that was TO DIE FOR.  (see pic top left) It had lemon & fried Rosemary (um, yum!) and was served with these delicious little toast points.  Sadly, it was a seasonal appetizer, so don’t get mad at me when you go and they don’t have it.  But keep an eye out for it and be sure to go on a Sunday or Monday night, for  half-priced bottles of wine!  Yea!  And then go home and make your own Ricotta cheese!  Do you want me to post a recipe/how-to on it?  It’s super easy, but I certainly can, along with some great ideas of how to use your fresh Ricotta.  Tell me in the comments below!

Hummus!  Hummus Kawarma2

Speaking of my husbands employer, every year, they send the Taher Chef Council, (a group of chefs from within the company) on a trip somewhere in the world.  Yes, he’s very lucky, and no, I don’t get to go along.  This year was Jerusalem and he came back eager to make Hummus & this incredible dish shown on the right, Hummus Kawarma.  O M G…make it!!!  Find the recipe in the cookbook Jerusalem.  I checked out a copy at my local library but you can buy one here on Amazon.  Do you like to make your own Hummus?

Treats from Cat  Cat Cora cooking demo

And speaking of chefs, I was excited to meet Iron Chef Cat Cora at Byerly’s earlier this month.  (she was so tiny & awesome!) I joined my blogging lovelies, Kate from Kate in the Kitchen and Rachel and her very own adorable Cora, from The Realistic Housewife. Chef Cora did a cooking demo, highlighting her new product line called Cat Cora’s Kitchen.  Hey Byerly’s, where’s that recipe for her Olive Oil cake?  I did bring home some of her olive tapenade, in addition to her new cookbook and had that one day on my homemade Ricotta, obviously. (see picture above with Ricotta) YUM!  🙂

Stuffing for Pork Chops  Stuffed Pork Chops

I have been obsessing about Pine Nuts lately.  Yeah, why can’t it be with a less expensive nut…anyway, I’ve been bored with our typical Pork Chop preparations lately so one day, I decided to stuff them.  The recipe has herbs, cheese, zest, garlic, pine nuts & golden raisins in it, and was from Fine Cooking.  You can find the recipe here.  Have a good Pork Chop recipe?  Share it below!

Chai BellaVitano  Radisson Blu Social Media event  Turkey Tetrazzini

A few other random fun things…I finally found the Chai BellaVitano cheese from Sartori.  I LOVE Sartori cheeses, especially the BellaVitano line and this one was as good as the rest!  A new food blogger friend Chris,  who writes the blog, Wedge in the Round,  just returned from cheese-making with Sartori.  LUCKY!  Read about his adventure here.  My favorite Sartori cheese is a tie between the MontAmoré and the Espresso BellaVitano, but this Chai variety had such a great flavor of the spice blends in Chai.  Find it!  Try it!  Also shown above, some delicious nosh I enjoyed at the Radisson Blu Mall of America recently.  I was invited to attend a Social Media special event there and in addition to the delicious food & drinks.  Those little new potatoes were stuffed with creme fraiche and topped with caviar!  I was also given a great tour of this incredible new hotel.  The rooms are amazing & they even have a salt water pool!  I am staying there at the end of the month, for my first board retreat with MPI MN.  Can’t wait!  And last, I made Turkey (Mushroom) Tetrazzini.  Yep.  Never made it before.  Super easy, super delish!

Bacon Pancakes!

And last, I made Bacon Pancakes on Mother’s day.  With chocolate chips.  For myself.  Then later, the hubby made me Eggs Benedict for dinner.  It was all about breakfast that day!  YUM!  If you are a Mom, I hope you had a delicious day as well.  My kids made me the CUTEST things as well.  I have to share!

Dominic - Mother's Day 2013

This was from my son…please note that I am “Fabulous” and that he likes my hair because “it’s curly & fresh” OMG, I died!

Gabby - Mother's Day 2013

And my daughter made me a video, which I posted on my Vine account.  You can watch here.  Again, the cuteness!

Until next time,

Cheers!  Shawn

A family recipe, Hunkie Ribs…

Mise en Place

Greetings food-lovin’ friends!

Yes, I know I’ve been away awhile…I have been busy with family & work… the kind that pays the bills, so sadly my food blogging has taken a back seat this past month.  I have also been getting ready for a couple great blog post series for the Summer, that I hope you’ll join me on!

Pulled Pork Salad

First, a “Summer of Salads” sharing all things entree salads with you.  I’ll talk a little about the different types of salad greens, how to make some (mostly) light & healthy dressings and then share some of my favorite entree salads!  Be sure to bookmark the hashtag #summerofsalads on Twitter so you can follow along!

And second, “Summer Sippers” a cocktail blog post series.  I haven’t really done the cocktail thing in the past, but have started to really enjoy a good cocktail instead of wine some nights.  Especially in the Summer!  Again, bookmark #summersippers and I hope you’ll join me on both Summer series!

Summer Sippers

So let’s talk about Hunkie Ribs.  I know, the name is strange.  The dish is a bit as well.  My husbands (partly Hungarian) father makes this dish and ever since I’ve been with my husband, he’s been making this for me.  It’s mostly a winter dish, because it can be pretty heavy if you choose to eat it with mashed potatoes.  I haven’t ever tried it on the grill (using my dutch oven or something similar) but might give that a go this summer.  And you have to like sauerkraut to like the dish!  Did you know, sauerkraut can be enjoyed on things other than hotdogs & brats?!  Actually, you wouldn’t even have to eat much of the sauerkraut to enjoy the dish, as you’ll see, the ribs cook on top of the sauerkraut, soaking in all that deliciousness from the kraut!  But come on, give it a try!  I LOVE the sauerkraut mixed into my potatoes! 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

Hunkie Ribs:

Pork Spare Ribs

Frank’s Kraut

Paprika (use any type, but we like both regular & smoked)

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Garlic, granulated

Seasoned Salt, we use Lawry’s

Grab a big baking dish, glass or metal is fine.  We like to use Frank’s Kraut when using sauerkraut.  We’ve tried other kinds, but Frank’s is crunchy & has the best flavor.  Open the bag of kraut and place in the bottom of the pan.  On a seperate cutting board, cut down the ribs into 2-3 bone sections.  Place those on top of the kraut.

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Take your Lea & Perrins and sprinkle over the ribs, generously.  (you’ll want the ribs fully coated with it, so don’t be shy about it!)

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Grab the granulated Garlic and sprinkle the ribs with it, not too much, but enough so each of the ribs have some on it.  Then sprinkle the ribs with the Lawry’s seasoned salt.  Again, about as much as with the Garlic.

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Next step, is the Paprika.  Now, we’ve used all kinds of Paprika over the years.  Our favorite spice store, Penzey’s, carries four different kinds.  You can use sweet, which is the most traditional, but add in Hungarian and/or smoked for an extra kick!  You’ll want to thoroughly coat the ribs with the Paprika.  See the picture above, the coating will be THICK.  Trust me on this…you’ll love it when it comes eatin’ time!

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Once you’ve completed the Paprika step, wrap the pan in plastic wrap.  Then cover the plastic wrap with foil.  You want an air-tight seal on the ribs.  The foil helps the plastic wrap from melting during baking.  Place the ribs in the oven, set to 275 degrees for 2 & 1/2-3 hours.  Low & slow baby.

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When the ribs are done, the pan will look like this when you pull away the foil.  Be careful when pulling back the plastic wrap, that steam is gonna be HOT.  The meat should fall off the bone almost immediately. Serve this deliciousness over a bed of mashed potatoes or if you want to be healthier, next to a crisp salad!

Hunkie Ribs!

I am already working on my next post, more or less a wrap-up of the past month, food-wise.  So hopefully you’ll see that in the next couple of days.  I am hoping to begin the #summerofsalads series this week, with a great picnic salad for Memorial Day weekend!

Until then,  I want to know….how do you like to eat sauerkraut?

Cheers, Shawn