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!
my new favorite made-up recipe for summer drinks! (inspired by the drinks we had at 9 Dragons
2 parts Grey Goose La Poire,
1 part Peach Schnapps
1 part apple juice
2 parts ginger ale
& a spoonful of Trader Joes mango sorbet to top it off!
shaken over ice - served in martini glasses - because that's what was clean at the time :)
Yesterday, I asked you all for suggestions on kid-friendly finger foods to take to the neighborhood BBQ. My friend, Sheila, suggested an idea she saw on Pinterest for mini corn dog muffins - however, the link was removed from by Pinterest as spam. I decided that it would be pretty hard to screw up making these without a recipe, so I went ahead and gave it a shot. Disclaimer: These are not the healthiest - however, I would guess that they are healthier than regular corn dogs which are usually fried.
Here's what you'll need:
1 box of cornbread mix - I used Krusteaz Natural Honey Cornbread
(plus an egg, water, and vegetable oil - or whatever you mix requires)
1 package of hot dogs
non-stick cooking spray
mini-muffin baking tray
1. Heat oven to 400. Apply non-stick cooking spray to baking tin.
2. Make cornbread according to directions on the box. Fill each mold a little less than 2/3 with batter.
3. Cut hot dogs into little segments (I cut each dog into 5 pieces) and place in the center of each mold.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes - keeping an eye on them.
Let cool. Pop out of tins. Enjoy!
These were a hit with the kids and adults. The only comments I got were "I like butter on my corn bread" and "bring ketchup next time". Touché, mis amigos, touché. Next time, I might try brushing the tops with melted butter.
Let me know if you try it and what changes you make!
It doesn't take much more than a few days of great weather before all the neighbors come out to play. On Sunday, we had our first neigborhood bbq complete with good food, great company, and happy kids. Two tire swings have recently been constructed in the common area in my neighborhood and the kids went wild over them.
My new favorite drink this summer has been Redd's Apple Ale
. I am a total sucker for marketing, so I finally tried it. OMG. Perfect beverage for beautiful weather! ... can't wait until it's available in bulk @ Costco :)
On the Saturday before Easter, we had plenty of family in town. Lots of young, growing boys to feed. To put it bluntly, the best way to feed these people is outside. My mom is famous for making pizzas on the grill - so we thought we'd try a new version. We adapted our recipe from Bobby Flay's Grilled Pizza with Hot Sausage, Grilled Peppers and Onions and Oregano Ricotta.
We passed on the spicy sausage and went with sweet italian sausage instead. We also skipped the fontina cheese and replaced sheep's milk ricotta with whole milk ricotta. And we completely nixed the vinaigrette dressing.
2 pounds fresh sweet Italian sausage
2 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
5 large red pepper, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 ready-to-make pizza shells of your choice
1 tub whole milk ricotta
fresh herbs (oregano, basil)
Pre-heat grill. Grill sausage about 7-10 minutes per side. Toss onions and peppers in about 2 tbsp olive oil to coat. Cook peppers and onions on grill - we used a vegetable grilling pan made specifically for outdoor use. Remove sausage once cooked and slice. Roughly slice the onions/peppers after they have softened.
Heat grill to med-high. Brush dough with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with garlic salt.
This is important: place the side where you're going to put your topings DOWN first and grill so that it's crispy when you apply the goodies. Grill 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill and place on cookie sheet/cutting board to assemble pizza.
Divide the sausage, onions and peppers evenly over the two shells. Dollop ricotta (mix with herbs, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic salt to taste). Place the pizza on the grill, close the cover and grill until the cheese has melted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
If you have a favorite grilled pizza recipe - please share! I'd love to try it!
Guest Post by: Thanh Buswell
Happy Spring! Last Saturday, we kissed winter and the “Snowquester” goodbye with our first March weekend in the 60s. With the great weather came more outdoor projects in the neighborhood.
While sipping my morning coffee at half past seven, my ears perked at the familiar sound of a pressure washer from Neighbor-Across-the-Street. If you read my February guest post
, you know I am married to the owner of Cascade Services
, therefore I may have specially-tuned ears for this kind of noise. After a full day of errands and enjoying our Saturday with friends, we found Neighbor-Across-the-Street was still pressure washing his house 8 hours later
. What a day - but he was on the right track!
House Pressure Wash in Manassas VA by Cascade Services.
House Pressure Wash in Manassas VA by Cascade Services.
Pressure washing the exterior portion of your home is a great project to jump start your Spring Cleaning.
You would be surprised at the amount of mold, dirt, and mildew build up on your home. Even homeowners that tell us their house siding is in pretty clean shape are taken aback when we point out the little black mold spots everywhere. In addition, dirty siding is one of the top HOA violations and one of the simplest things you can do to instantly brighten your home.
Luckily for you, we are holding a Spring Giveaway hosted by the Real Housewives of Northern Virginia! This is the very first time Cascade Services has ever done a giveaway and we are pretty excited it’s for RHNOVA readers! The Cascade Spring Giveaway is for One Single Family House or Townhouse Pressure Wash Service (up to four sides at a value of up to $260).
Be sure to enter -- not only do you get a professionally pressure washed house exterior; you’ll also get back hours of your weekend! (Just ask my neighbor.)
And just in case you aren’t the lucky winner, please check out our website to find out more about our services and a few coupons and “Like” us on www.facebook.com/cascademe
to keep up-to-date with special deals throughout the year.
| || | Cascade Services, LLC is a professional pressure washing, sealing / staining, and carpet cleaning company based out of Gainesville, VA. Established in 2008 by Randy Buswell, a NOVA native with 15 years of experience learning from his own father’s business, Cascade has become a trusted and reliable contractor serving customers all over Northern Virginia. For more information, call (703) 915-2402 or visit us at www.cascademe.com and "Like" us on Facebook!
*sponsored content provided by Cascade Services, LLC
Power Wash and Stain by Cascade Services, LLC.
guest post by Thanh Buswell
Life just seems more grand in the Springtime and it gives all of us a little jolt of Martha Stewart-like prowess. (And we are less than a month away!) You want to get up earlier, you’re motivated to clean out your closet and even deep clean the baseboards. You’re ready to cook delicious, healthy meals, put fresh flowers on the patio table and invite friends over to enjoy a glass of wine, while dining al fresco in your lovely outdoor space.
While mulling over the perfect recipe, drinks, table décor and music to use, go take a quick look at your deck or patio – could it use some TLC? Now is the perfect time to think about getting your deck ready for Spring & Summer entertaining. The best way to prep your deck for the upcoming season:
1. Power wash the surface area to clean it of any mildew stains, dirt, debris or contaminates. I recommend hiring a pro to avoid this
2. Allow enough time for the deck to fully dry.
3. Choose a seal/stain product that is best for YOUR deck to protect the wood and give it a professional finish. (If you’re unsure of what the best product is, keep reading.)“So, what is the best sealing or staining product for my deck?”
This is one of the most common questions customers ask Randy, my husband and owner of Cascade Services
, when calling for help with maintaining their home. And it’s a great question – there are so many options available to use including toners, semi-transparent, semi-solids, or solids. How do you know which one is right for you?
Here is a quick cheat sheet listing the various types of sealing/staining options available. In general, the more opaque the product, the longer the life span of the product lasting due to blocking more UV rays. Sealant:
Clear, protects wood and preserves its natural color; sealants will last about 1 year (recommended)Toner:
Slightly pigmented, limited colors available, mainly natural colors; toners will last 2 – 3 years (recommended)Semi-Transparent:
Lightly pigmented, allows the wood grain to show through; lasts 2 – 3 years Semi-Solid:
More pigmented and almost completely hides natural wood grain and color; lasts 3 – 4 years.Solid:
Fully opaque and will cover older stains, many colors available; can last up to 4 or 5 years (recommended)
Unfortunately, there is not one type of product that takes the cake. The best product for your deck will depend on a number of factors specific to your deck.
- How old is your deck? What is the condition it is in?
- How much sunlight does your deck receive? How much shade does your deck receive?
- Does the deck have color on it from a previous stain or paint application?
- How natural of a look are you trying to achieve on your wood?
- How long do you want the product to last (i.e. what is more important to you - external appearance or lasting performance)?
When working with a deck cleaning professional, you should be asked a series of questions similar to what I mentioned above, and then some. He/she should take their time going through the options with you, answering your questions and provide an in-person walk-through and free estimate
Now are you thinking about getting your deck ready for Spring and need some professional advice? Get in touch with us. We’re happy to answer any of your questions and love helping other NOVA residents beautify their home! (P.S. Real Housewives of NOVA will be hosting a Cascade Services Spring Giveaway in March – be sure to keep up to date and "Like" us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!)
Cascade Services, LLC is a professional pressure washing, sealing / staining, and carpet cleaning company based out of Gainesville, VA. Established in 2008 by Randy Buswell, a NOVA native with 15 years of experience learning from his own father’s business, Cascade has become a trusted and reliable contractor serving customers all over Northern Virginia. For more information, call (703) 915-2402 or visit us at www.cascademe.com and "Like" us on Facebook! *sponsored post
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!
My phone died yesterday by means of internal malfunction. In the past two days, these are the things I've had to do with no "smart phone" at my fingertips:
1. Use my laptop.
2. Look at a map and actually hand-write directions to someone’s house.
3. Use a display phone at the Verizon store to call my grandma.
4. Plead with my child to bear with me at the grocery store – no Netflix to keep him happy.
5. Miss several picture-worthy moments: B with Santa, tacky light tour, sorority alumnae gift exchange.
6. Run without Pandora or my running app.
7. Walk to the neighbor’s house to ask if they wanted a playdate.
8. Mentally calculate my gas mileage after filling up at the pump.
9. Skip talking to my mom every day :(
10. Skip calling and ranting with customer service rep after a shipment I ordered is missing several pieces.
Hopefully, I will get a new phone delivered by noon tomorrow.
Does anything on this list hit home with you? What what you miss if you didn't have a smart phone for a few days? Leave a comment or Join in the convo on my facebook page.
My friend Wendy came into town to visit me after a whirlwind trip to DC. She was in town for the Kennedy Center Honors
weekend - and got to hit up the most fabulous parties, State Department Dinner, White House reception, and of course, the Kennedy Center event and supper. I lushed at hearing all of her fantastic stories! She is so fancy! Her driver
dropped her off at my house... and after her stay at the Four Seasons, I can't really even compete... but we had so much fun getting together and reconnecting! She showed up with some delicious Georgetown Cupcakes at my front door.
How sweet is that?