Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:


Sa-wing battah!

If you follow this blog much, you might be aware that we have an annual tradition of meeting my parents in Houston over Labor Day weekend for what we fondly refer to as the “Baseball Extravaganza.”  A new tradition was born this weekend, when we meet my parents and brother J in Minneapolis to watch the Astros take on the Twins.  Although the ‘Stros lost, a good time was had by all and we hope to do it again next year and beyond.  As we’ve mentioned before, Minneapolis is a surprisingly (to us, the first time we went) nice city and if you’ve never been, we highly recommend you go (but probably not in the winter.)  In the summer, Minneapolis is a pretty glorious place to be.  When we were there, the high temperatures were in the 70s (about 30 degrees cooler than what we are currently experiencing in Dallas) with sunny skies and blissfully cool evenings.  Downtown Minneapolis is clean, with lots of flowers and greenery in planters along the buildings and streets.  And if you like food at all, Minneapolis is crawling with tons of amazing restaurants.  We had a hard time deciding among so many great options, but ended up having dinner at Crave, brunch at Hell’s Kitchen and breakfast at Manny’s, all of which were excellent.  The ballpark in Minneapolis is also quite impressive, and serves a mean hot dog, as well as one of the best (and only) “slow-roasted pulled turkey” sandwiches we’ve ever tasted.  Many thanks to J for hosting the first-annual “Minneapolis Spectacular!”

Hotel fireworks

The upside to the Astros losing on Friday night was the post-game fireworks show that we could see from our hotel room window (while sitting on the window ledge and craning our necks to peer between buildings, but still — fireworks!)  It was an impressive display.

Egg sammie

We’re always looking for new week-day breakfast options that are healthy, quick, easy and delicious, with a bit of protein to help keep us full until lunch.  This homemade egg, sausage and cheese sandwich fits all these criteria.  It’s healthy because we used turkey kielbasa (leftover from our chicken & rice), mostly egg whites, low-fat cheddar and whole wheat English muffins (we almost always have these in our freezer, ready to toast, no thawing necessary.)  And our mini, nonstick skillet makes it easy to cook the eggs in the perfect, sandwich-friendly shape.  Crack the egg in the hot skillet (no butter or oil needed) and season with salt & pepper, while heating the sausage with cheese on top to melt in another skillet and toasting the muffins in the toaster, and you have a better-for-you “McMuffin”-style breakfast ready in about 5 minutes.


Gladiolus (“gladioli?” “gladioluses?”) are in-season, which means they are plentiful and cheap.  I bought 10 stems for about $5 at the grocery store last week, which gives us pretty orange blooms in several different vases throughout the house.  In addition to trimming the bottoms of the stems to get the right height for your vase, if you trim the tops (the flowering part of the stems) by cutting them at the top-most bud where you see some color, then the existing blooms should open up a lot more than they would otherwise.  True story:  for a long-ago career day as a kid, I drew a picture of myself working as a florist.


BBQ Chicken

Barbecued chicken is one of those classic summer dishes that conjures images of picnic-table-meals with cold potato and macaroni side salads and thick watermelon slices for dessert.  Bonus points if you are lucky to live somewhere with easy access to fresh, picked-that-morning corn on the cob.  Dan grew up in one of those places and fondly remembers corn on the cob and BBQ chicken dinners from childhood summers, not necessarily because of the chicken itself, but because his dad did the barbecuing while he and his brothers got up to whatever summer shenanigans 3 boys within a couple years of each other’s ages are wont to do.  Although his family’s version of BBQ chicken is not one he’s ever made as an adult (boiled until fully cooked — took no chances on raw poultry in those days! — then dipped in BBQ sauce diluted with a little beer and grilled over direct heat until the sauce began to burn caramelize), the memories of summers as a kid are happy and good.  And now, with this recipe for “foolproof barbecued chicken” from Cook’s Illustrated, he can reminisce on those days while also enjoying flavorful, perfectly-cooked, juicy chicken grilled with a homemade BBQ sauce that has just the right tangy / spicy / sweet ratio.  If only we had some farm-fresh, Pennsylvania corn to go with it!

Continue reading “BBQ Chicken”

Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:


Sometimes a cheese plate for dinner makes more sense and sounds better than cooking an actual meal, especially in the summer when temps are hot and weekends are busy.  In fact, we’re surprised we don’t have cheese and crackers (and olives and grapes and salami and prosciutto and good bread) for dinner more often, considering how much we enjoyed this last one.  Expect to see “cheese plate” on our weekly menu a few more times this summer, especially after a friend recently introduced Dan to an amazing cheese from Washington State University that I hear we absolutely have to order and purchase, as soon as possible.

We heart smoked turkey

Another food item we don’t have often enough is turkey breast.  And Dan will never pass up an opportunity to bust out the smoker, make fire and indulge his inner caveman by cooking meat outside over low heat for several hours.  He brined the turkey overnight (a simple salt and sugar brine), then smoked it with cherry and apple wood chunks for about four hours.  The awesome thing about cooking a whole turkey breast (besides the delicious smoky flavor), is how many different meals you can get out of it.  We served it the first night just sliced with a little BBQ sauce, scalloped potatoes and roasted brussels sprout leaves.  Then we made some of this BBQ chicken turkey salad for lunches.  Another night we had what might be our all-time favorite use of smoked turkey:  lentil soup.  Then we finished our week of comfort food faves with turkey tetrazzini.  And we still had enough for a couple of plain-but-never-old turkey sandwiches.

Lunch contrast

This is what it usually looks like when we go to a seafood restaurant — Dan’s healthy grilled fish with sauce on the side and accompanying veggies, contrasted by my fried shrimp with french fries and extra cocktail sauce and ketchup sodium/carb fest.  I try to eat healthy as often as I can, but given the choice between fish versus something fried, I’ll choose fried anything (even fish!) pretty much every time.

Surprisingly good

I know, I can’t believe it either.  Our new favorite reality show is “Naked and Afraid,” and I’m not afraid to say it.  Before you judge (looking at you, CM), watch an episode — it is absolutely fascinating.  If you haven’t seen it, each episode features a man and woman who have never met each other until they are transported and left — naked — in some remote / unforgiving / treacherous place for 21 days with only one survival item of their choice, a small satchel, a video camera and their wits and survival skills.  It is a televised glimpse into the physical and psychological limits to which the human body and spirit can be pushed.  Plus, they are nude.