I have a lot of things to say in this post - so just one title doesn't seem to do it justice.
Last weekend, I was quite envious of one of my neighbors' smoked chicken BBQ. So my other neighbor, Justin, and I decided we'd try our own luck at smoking some proteins since we're both pretty enamored by food.
We made smoked chicken drumsticks, beef brisket, and a pork shoulder. I had the chicken drumsticks in a brine overnight. I gave all three meats a generous coating of the Pork Barrell BBQ Dry Rub
that I found at Costco.
I have never actually brined anything myself. Hell, I've never even cooked meat with a bone in it until Saturday's drumsticks. I googled every single recipe for the "best chicken brine" ever - and I couldn't quite figure out what would work for me. So what did I do? Made it up, of course.
What you'll need:
1 gallon cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
10 gallon ziploc bag
1. Whisk salt and sugar into water until it starts to dissolve.
2. Pour brine into ziploc bag. I also added a good helping of my dry rub into the bag.
3. Add chicken (I always rinse my chicken first before cooking - you don't need to wash the chicken with soap as seen on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 2
).4. Leave in brine overnight - or at least a minimum of 2 hours.
After letting the chicken smoke for 2.5 hours, it was the most tender, juicy, flavorful deliciousness that I've ever made. The skin gets kinda rubbery in the smoker, so we dipped them in the deep fryer for 3 minutes afterwards. PERFECTION.
I seriously don't know why I don't brine every time I cook chicken - it made a world of difference.
Check out the final product:
And here's the BBQ Beef Brisket after 8 hours in the smoker:
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the finished pork shoulder. It took about 12 hours - and by the time it was done - I had enjoyed a few drinks with the neighbors and forgot about taking pics.
If you have any great BBQ recipes, tips, or tricks - please share in the comments below!
Is there anything better than celebrating your parents' 30th wedding anniversary? How about celebrating it with roulette, exotic cuisine, and dragon fire in your martini glass? That's what I call a celebration!
My brother, parents, and I hit up Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
on Friday for a night out on the town. Only 50ish miles away, the drive was not too bad on a typically-horrendous Friday rush hour. I kinda-sorta wasn't feeling so lucky. My brother, on the other hand, is eternally lucky. He wins, and he wins often. He spent the entire car ride psyching me up and trying to get the luck flowing through my veins.
I was a rookie at roulette. My brother's enthusiasm worked... for a short while. Before I knew it, he was up $700 and I was still placing $15 bets just trying to break even. In my non-casino life, I live by the motto "go big or go home" - so I figured "why change now?" and I started playing like a high roller and betting $100 chips. That worked three times until I was wiped out - completely. I'm not sure if he felt sorry for me (or just because he loves me so much), but my sweet sweet father then let me play with his chips - which I also promptly lost to the house. And I hadn't even started drinking yet... Meanwhile, my mom was playing a PENNY slot machine and somehow managed to turn $5 into $75.
We decided it was time to eat and headed over to 9 Dragons
- the space is newly renovated and boasts an updated menu of authentic Hong Kong-style cuisine and a selection of fresh sushi. The decor of the restaurant was so beautiful with deep reds and dark woods. Honestly, and I don't mean this in a bad way, it didn't even feel like we were in West Virginia.
If you go to check out 9 Dragons - you'd probably be set ordering from their specialty cocktails (I suggest the Drunken Dragon) and sushi menu. Since we were out celebrating a special occasion, we went ALL out. The service, presentation, and quality was extraordinary. I recommend the Wonton Soup, Hot Mama (spciy tuna, jalepeno) roll, and... well, everything else. Our waitress, Li Ling, took excellent care of us. Although 9 Dragons didn't offer dessert, we mentioned my parents' 30th and she said she'd get us a special surprise. Her surprise came in the form of a jumbo slice of fresh cheesecake made at The Final Cut Steakhouse. She literally walked across the casino to another restaurant to get us the best dessert in the building! Totally blew my expectations - and kinda made me forget that I had just lost $250 on the tables down the hall! Win or lose, it was a fantastic night out with the family! Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad!
*Special thanks to 9 Dragons for inviting us in to taste the menu!
Featuring our own Barleywines as well as the best barleywines brewed by our favorite breweries. Beers will rotate through the festival on draught and cask, while they last. Serving sizes are 4 oz. sample glasses. No admission cost, price per serving.
February 23rd 11AM-Midnight
February 24th 10AM-11PM
Beer List updated with 30 Barleywines already on hand! More information on sessions and tasting notes, when available, on our Mad Fox Barleywine Festival 2013 Session page
Watch the Har-Bowl at Capitol City Brewing Company! On Super Bowl Sunday, join Capitol City Brewing Company as the world watches the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers for the National Football League’s Vince Lombardi Trophy. Both locations will host a festive Super Bowl Party that’s fit for any fan base or champion team. Watch the AFC and NFC champions duke it out for the title on the multiple large flat screen TVs placed throughout the bar and restaurant areas. In addition, Capitol City’s Shirlington Village location in Arlington, VA will extend happy hour prices until the final snap is taken that includes $3.50 beer pints and $5 on select appetizers.
Food and drink specials begin at 4:00 p.m. and are available until the end of the game. If a customer dons a Ravens or 49ers jersey, they will receive a free order of six-piece wings along with the purchase of an entrée of $12 or more.
For more information on Capitol City Brewing Company please visit: www.capcitybrew.com
write down/email/print/memorize this recipe asap and keep in your arsenal. I use this about once/twice per week on salmon, chicken, or pork.
This recipe is a hybrid of a marinade and a rub - but is best applied by a silicone basting/pastry brush. It is easy to make - and easy to modify to meet the needs of your tastebuds. It always impresses guests and commoners (my family) alike. Crunchy outside, soft and tender inside.
tip: I often make this spread (in a larger batch) every couple of weeks and keep in a mason jar in the refeigerator. it's nice to have on hand, ready to go, with the flavors nicely blended. also, sometimes i heat up the olive oil on med-low and let the rosemary simmer for a few minutes to extract the flavors.
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp dijon mustard (i like something that is really seedy)
2 tbsp Mrs. Dash Onion and Herb seasoning
2 tbsp rosemary (use fresh when you can)
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
sometimes I also add other spices: garlic powder, white pepper, cayenne, whatever else is in my cabinet.
Directions: Mix all ingredients together, spread with pastry brush onto both sides of the salmon. The key to success is a grill pan - it's not too shabby in a regular frying pan either. Make sure your pan is hot enough to create the crust on the outside. I usually heat my pan on high for about 2-3 minutes, throw the salmon on, and then turn to medium or medium-high depending on the thickness of the filet. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side. I also find it best to use tongs to turn over so that you don't scrape the crust off the filet.
This is very customizeable - and it's hard to make it wrong. Add what you like and give it a try!
We recently spent a weekend in beautiful Shenandoah County, Virginia. It also just happened to be my birthday weekend. I was looking forward to experiencing the falling leaves, green pastures, and the quiet pace of life that can be found just about an hour west of Northern Virginia. We left Fairfax at 2pm on a Friday and headed towards the mountains. With no traffic on 66, it only took us about an hour to land at our first destination: the Shenandoah County Tourism Office. We met with the Director, Natalie, who had our whole weekend planned for us. To top it off, she had a swag bag packed with
Shenandoah-style goodies! We snagged a copy of our itinerary and headed into the mountains towards our first stop. We arrived at Bryce Resort just before dinner and were greeted by Rob, the General Manager. Rob gave us a walking tour of the beautiful resort and newly fitted ski lift for the 2012 season. Bryce Resort offers skiing, tubing, ski-wee (think pee-wee ski camp for the little ones) and more for the winter season.
We came inside for dinner and a drink - I was totally caught off guard. The food was amazing - so good that we wanted to come back later in the weekend for seconds! I never, ever, ever eat ribs. but Rob kept encouraging us to try them... and for a good reason. Delish! If you make it out this season and are looking for something lighter - try the chicken drumsticks with homemade ranch paired with a spicy bloody mary. #lush!
Saturday morning, we say goodbye to The Feathered Nest B&B and headed to Shenandoah Uncorked at The Yellow Barn
. I was excited to check out the wineries located a little further south down I-81. The neatest part of the wine tastings was that since it was getting chilly outside... all of the wineries brought their own version of muddled wine for tasting. And most were being served out of a crock-pot -- such a comforting feel. Of course, we couldn't leave before taking a one hour walking tour of the Caverns.
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i think this formation @ the Caverns looks like Capitol Hill
On the second night, we stayed at the AC Stickley Bed and Breakfast
in the heart of old town Strasburg. AC Stickley is a beautifully restored home within walking distance to the downtown scene. Donna, the inn keeper, was so welcoming even though we arrived a little after schedule. We were invited to a gorgeous suite with two fire places, beer in the mini fridge, and a delicious breakfast the next morning. Donna loves to cook - and she is always changing up the menu and snacks. Our fruit in the morning was a warm apple crisp with a spoonful of vanilla bean gelato. It didn't stop there... Check out her southern trifle made with layers of grits, sausage, cheese, hard boiled egg, garden tomatoes - topped with cheese, sour cream, and chives. Served with baked bacon.
I told Donna to start pinning her recipes so that I could follow!
a few other stops we made along the way --
We walked to dinner at Hotel Strasburg
after checking into AC Stickley. Fine dining, white linens, but with the comfort of a small town.
| |Ran into Sarah, the leading lady behind the successful Route 11 Potato Chips brand. Swing by and take a tour of the factory!
We had a fabulous time - special thank you to Natalie Wills @ Shenandoah County Tourism
for putting together our itinerary and inviting us with opportunity to experience everything Shenandoah Valley has to offer.
If you're planning a trip out, here are a few other recommendations:
Tom and Lynette, Desperate Housewives
Did you ever watch Desperate Housewives? I'm not embarrassed to admit that I loved the show. Not that it was the best acting/script/storyline ever, but I will never forget when Lynette had a breakdown because she realized she was "in a rut" with Tom. I vividly recall being an early twenty-something sitting on a leather couch I snagged off Craigslist and promising myself that I never, ever, ever would find myself "in a rut" like that old couple on TV.
Maintaining a date night ritual, especially when you have kids, is a great way to keep the spark going in your relationship. But a ritual
doesn't need to be a routine
. If you and your man hit the town every Friday, try to change it up and avoid doing the cliche dinner and a movie every time. Keep each other on your toes and avoid the ruts by surprising each other with novel date ideas every week.
Need some ideas? I got you covered. Watch a meteor shower together.
Grab a few coats, blankets, popcorn, and wine and spread out on your lawn or a big open space during the next meteor shower. Find upcoming ones here
. There's usually one every few weeks. Go adventure dining.
Head out to an area that is heavily populated with restaurants and then stop in at each one for each part of your meal. Stick with all one theme, like Asian cuisine, or mix it up. Rate the food, service and atmosphere as you go. Have a picnic on your floor.
Want to save money? Change up date night by staying in. Spread out a blanket on your living room floor, make a dinner consisting of finger foods, turn the lights down low and light some candles. Take a trip to a novelty store.
If date night has become a little routine, your bedroom sessions may have too. Spice it up by taking a trip to a novelty store together. Pick out some new toys, videos or lingerie for the two of you to try. Need some ideas of what to get? Head over to Adameve.com
. I'm sure you'll be find a way to end the date. Watch sky rockets in flight.
Head over to the observation deck at Dulles or Reagan International Airport. It's great any time of day and exciting to watch the planes land. One of my favorite spots is Gravelly Point
. Take a blanket and look over the Potomac and monuments while watching the low-flying planes above you. Talk about past vacations or fictitious ones you would like to go on. Get your boat on.
Go kayaking down the Potomac river--well once it gets warm again. There's no reason to limit your dates to night time. Venture out during the day and do exciting outdoor activities. Dock your boat and grab a drink a riverside bar. Put a cork in it.
Virginia is known for some pretty fabulous, award-winning wineries
. Grab your man and chart out a few that are close to each other and then make a day of it. Drink responsibly! Hike amongst the grapes, learn about pairings and buy a bottle or two. Get Educated.
Take a class together. Whether it be a dance class, painting class, boxing class or even a motorcycle riding class. There's so many options, surely you can find one that interests the both of you. You can bond over this new, shared experience and maybe even pick up a new hobby that the two of you can do together.
Use some of the ideas and build your own. Keep it fun by keeping secret what the date will consist of. Just remember to think creatively and keep an open mind! Feel free to share your favorite "outside the box" date ideas in the comments section!
In my house, we absolutely LOVE Moby Dick House of Kabob
. And when I say we - I mean all three of us. My 4 year old orders his own platter and eats every last bite. The food is awesome - but it ain't cheap. I decided to try to mimic the famous yellow chicken recipe at home (Persian saffron chicken joojeh). Surprisingly, it was a super easy two-step recipe.
2lbs chicken breast, trimmed and cubed (1-2 inch chunks)
1 cup plain greek yogurt (I used a Chobani)
1 yellow onion, minced finely (almost a paste)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced finely
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp saffron threads dissolved in 1-2 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 tbsp turmeric (for color)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl that is not going to absorb the color of the saffron. You could probably use glass, but I used a metal bowl to be safe. Cover in the refrigerator and let marinate for a minimun of 4 hours. *If you're going to put the kabobs on the grill using wooden skewers - make sure to let soak in water for at least an hour before you're ready to start cooking to prevent the skewers from catching fire.
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup butter (melted)
Grill kabobs for about 3-4 minutes per side (all 4 sides). I had my grill set on medium heat - but all grills are different, so adjust the heat and timing as needed. Baste each side of kabob with lemon butter mixture. Serve hot with basmati rice.
After I made this and was cleaning up dinner, B ran around the corner in the kitchen and said, "Mom, that was PERFECTO!"
I'll add this to my arsenal of recipes. Hope you enjoy!
My girlfriend Susan from my sorority's alum group made these AMAZING sweet treats -- and it's "SO EASY" that I just had to share!
Here is her secret recipe:
1. Into the wells of a muffin tin (or in cupcake papers) flatten a square of store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough.
2. Top that with a Reese peanut butter cup (or a mini).
3. Prepare box-mix brownie batter (as directed on the box) and spoon it over Reese-cookie dough, 3/4 full.
4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. VOILA!
Susan's claim of goodness: "Srsly: not costly, easy, and I have to hide them to keep husband and son from eating all of them tonight."
Doesn't that pic make you want to run to the grocery store right now and make them?