So it seems everyone I know is having a baby right now... even my sister! I am so excited to be an auntie come September! But seriously, every time I go on Facebook, it seems like another one of my friends is expecting. Last year where I work, there was something like 13 women pregnant! Crazy right? Luckily that means my co workers and I got to see lots of adorable baby pictures. This year I had the honor of making one of these adorable babies first birthday cake! I was so nervous but so excited!!
So I always go back and forth about what is my absolute favorite food. It always goes between mexican,BBQ, and sushi. All very good choices! But I just found out about this DYNAMITE BBQ place here in the Midwest and now all I ever want is their pulled pork sandwich. The pork is flawless. Its juicy, salty, meaty, and everything perfect in this world. Not only that, but it served on a perfect ciabatta roll. But its not that it has all of this perfection wrapped in a pillowy roll, the sauces are KILLER. They have a sweet and vinegar based sauce but the one that just does it for me is the garlicky mustard sauce. HEAVEN IN A SAUCE. And of course they don't sell it! BAH! Such a tease! The only other BBQ that matches this place is from the Salt Lick in Texas, but to be perfectly honest, Honky Tonk kills it. So if you are in the Chicago area, you MUST go to Honky Tonk. You will love it there. The place has an old saloon feeling with a very chill atmosphere because this place knows they are BBQ king.
Things I am learning from grilling: Corn on the cob doesn't save well. Boo hiss! I just found a gem of a produce market not far from where I live and got super excited for their deal on corn, so naturally I bought a bunch. I thought that I would be grilling them up fairly quickly, so I kept them in their husk but on the counter. Mistake #1 : You gotta eat it fresh and quickly. So if you don't plan on gobbling it up, keep the husks on and get it in the fridge.
My second mistake was to de-husk it and then put it in the fridge. The husk helps keep all the moisture in, so once that blanket is gone, so is the corns protection. I pulled it out from the fridge and noticed that some of the kernels were kind of shriveled, so I put them in a big tub of cool water, hoping it would re-hydrate. Guess what?? It doesn't re-hydrate. Big bummer... I think it is pretty obvious the the corn on the left is sad and shriveled, and the corn on the right is full and happy. Every on wants happy corn!
One of my absolute newest obsessions in food right now is the Panera Mac and Cheese. Now this is kinda a big deal. One because I grew up with the blue box and fell in love at the first bite. Even on my blog I have made some scratch mac and cheese, but still nothing beat the blue box for me. I think it is just one of those shaming culinary moments for me because I know it is all artificial, but since I have been having it for years and years, its just very dear to my foodie heart. But the moment has come when the blue box mac and cheese has been trumped by none other than a chain restaurant! CRAZY! I first got my hands on some of this mac and cheese when there were leftovers from Panera catering a meeting at school and there was just one little dish of mac and cheese sitting there, asking to be eaten. Now you couldn't see what it looked like because it was in one of those fancy carry out containers, so I was skeptical. My first reaction was, eh, I don't need that. But it was a particularly cold recess duty that day and the hot mac and cheese just felt right. So I go for it. I take the lid off and I was happy to see it was shell shaped mac and cheese. My favorite shape because you get more cheesey goodness with each bite. But then I noticed it was a white cheddar sauce and I got nervous... but I grabbed a fork and dug in. Words can not describe what kind of cheesey heaven I was in. It was silky, smooth, creamy, and just the right amount of tang. I was hooked. I still am! This stuff is wicked. What's even crazier is that Panera posted the recipe so that EVERYONE can recreate it! YAY for me! So that is exactly what I did, and my results were perfect! Just like it came from the restaurant itself. Thank you Panera! Can you see the perfect cheesey goodness? It's like liquid gold...
Need a new drink recipe to impress friends, family, or even a special friend? I found the best drink recipe that is a little bit sweet, a little bit earthy, but a whole lot of yum! It would be great for Valentines day because it has a beautiful dark pink color that comes from the blueberries and the earthiness of the thyme sets this drink apart from other typical cocktails!
So every year around Christmas, Chris's work throws a fun holiday party and they always have a bake off. Obviously I enter and get super excited about what to bake! Sometimes the options are so overwhelming I just can't make up my mind! This year I decided to bake something with the holiday flavors in mind. Do you know where I am going with this? Yup, that's right. Gingerbread. And it just so happens I found the BEST gingerbread recipe out there. I turned it into a cupcake with a cream cheese chai frosting. BOOM! And yes it is amazing! I usually make this gingerbread cake with an orange crème anglaise but thought it would make a great cupcake. Another thing to note is that this recipe oriniglaly calls for Guiness beer in the batter, but I wanted to make a dessert that was alcohol free (since it was going to be in a competition and lots of guest tasters, otherwise I don't mind baking with booze!). So I added in ginger ale in place of the beer! Pretty ingenious if you ask me! When it comes to substitutions in baking, I typically draw a blank since baking is such a science, but I figured the bubbles from the ginger ale would do the same as the carbonation from the beer and it would add just a touch more ginger flavor! These cupcakes were a hit, regardless of not winning. They are a winner in my book and a holiday staple that I will use for years to come!
Snickerdoodle cookies. One cookie, two words, lots of memories. I don't know any one who would say “No” to a snickerdoodle cookie. What is there to say no to anyway? Sugar, cinnamon, cream cheese... sounds like a Paula Dean body scrub! Just kidding, you know I love you Paula! But seriously, when a snickerdoodle cookie is done correctly with that crisp outer edge and a melt in your mouth center... It is such a childhood comfort! Speaking of childhood... have I bragged about my amazingly awesome 3rd grade class? They are all angels and I can't believe I get to work with them all every day! I am so lucky to work with them! So to make them feel special, I decided to make them some snickerdoodle cookies for our class party. I did a little research and found a recipe that looked pretty good to me, but I did a little tweaking.
I totally meant to post this before Halloween but this recipe is also suitable for Thanksgiving, so it still works out. This summer I was able to go to Harry Potter world with my Mom. And for those of you who don't know me too well, I live for Harry Potter! I am obsessed! The first thing I wanted to try when getting into the park was the Butterbeer, a classic Harry Potter world drink. But I totally forgot that they would also be serving Pumpkin juice, another drink that is popular in the wizarding world. So obviously I got both and was blown away with how delicious they both were! The Butterbeer was everything I thought it would be, although a little too sweet for my liking. It is a drink that is definitely made for the younger kids. But the real star was the Pumpkin juice! I could have had 4 bottles of that stuff in one sitting. The drink is so refreshing, with just the right amount of spice, and fantastic pumpkin flavor!
I had never made Pasta Carbonara before only because I was a little nervous about using raw egg. I don't really know why that made me nervous because I don't have an issue with raw egg in any other form of cooking. I mean I have eaten my fair share of unbaked cookie dough and that has raw egg. But I will say I am very happy I decided to make this dish, it is a hubby approved dinner. He keeps asking me to make it for dinner, it is that good, he says its up there with one of his favorites. And trust me folks, this dish is killer. It doesn't use a lot of ingredients, it is fast, and filling. It would be great to make for a dinner party and its pretty to look at...at least I think so. Plus in this dish you get to have bacon, garlic, and cheese! Heaven! Well the original recipe calls for pancetta, but I don't always have that on hand, but I do always have bacon on hand because it makes everything better, so that is what I used.
I did it... I can't believe I actually did it! There are very few moments in life where I am proud of myself, but this my friends, was one of them. When all was said and done, I was overcome with a sense of pride and belief in myself. I could feel the excitement bubbling up inside of me like soda that had been shaken up in a bottle, overflowing with relief.