Tasty Tuesday–Beast Craft BBQ: HAM!

I have a confession to make. I’m not really into ham. I mean, it’s fine for sandwiches…I don’t hate it or anything. But I’ve never really considered it to be special enough for a holiday like Christmas or Easter (even though Ryan suggests it almost every year), which is why it’s almost unheard of for a ham to make an appearance at our holiday table.

But this year, I was wanting to try something different, and I also wanted something that wouldn’t be too much work for me, because I knew that by the time our fancy Christmas dinner rolled around, my injured ankle and I would be pretty worn out (spoilers: I was right…I didn’t even decorate the table or use the china). So I decided to order a Compart Family Farms Cherry Smoked Duroc Bone-In Ham from our favorite local restaurant, Beast Craft BBQ.

So, yeah, I’ve changed my mind about ham for the holidays. This was truly the most delicious ham any of us ever tasted. The flavor from the smoke was just right…not overpowering, but definitely noticeable. The meat was so tender, and even though we didn’t really know what we were doing carving it, it cut so easily. And there was so much meat…we had ham dinners two nights, plus ham sandwiches for lunches, and I used the bone to make a great pot of bean soup, which fed us for another two dinners…and I’ve still got a bag of ham left in the freezer for a pasta dish I’m going to make next week! (Did I mention that there were nine of us, including four adults and three teenagers with big appetites, at Christmas dinner?) So even though it was a little expensive up front, we definitely got our money’s worth!

Here ends another happy tale of a delicious meal from Beast Craft BBQ. I’m always looking forward to seeing what they’re going to come up with next (I can’t wait to check out Beast Butcher & Block when it opens in the city this year!), and wondering what new menu item I might try in the future (right now, I can’t stop thinking about the #beercheesesteak, which includes bread browned in Wagyu tallow…pretty sure I’m going to have to eat that at some point!). We’ve been eating at Beast for four years now(!!!)…pretty much since they first opened, and I can still honestly say that everything we’ve tried (which has been a lot of stuff!) has been excellent!

Tasty Tuesday–Sugarfire 64: The Cuban Reuben

My love of Beast Craft BBQ is well-documented, and I never thought I’d have a need for any other BBQ, but ever since Sugarfire Smoke House opened a location in the Metro East, Sugarfire 64, I knew I would have to try it out eventually. Sunday was that day.

Why Sunday, you may wonder? Well, Sugarfire recently took first place at the 2018 Sandwich World Championship. And on Sunday, they offered the World’s Best Sandwich, the Cuban Reuben, at the O’Fallon location. Not only did I want to try out the best sandwich in the world, I’m a sucker for a reuben, so it was the perfect opportunity.

The sandwich had three types of meat…pit ham, pastrami, and pulled pork…all were delicious. That was topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish mustard, and pickles. And if all that wasn’t enough, the “bun” was actually two grilled cheese sandwiches, which had both provolone and white American cheese and sourdough bread. I added some of Sugarfire’s white BBQ sauce, too.

When they say “World’s Best Sandwich,” they’re not exaggerating, at least not by much. It was the perfect combination of ingredients for lovers of both Cuban sandwiches and Reubens. The BBQ sauce was good, too (Ryan thinks Beast’s is still the best, and I tend to agree, although I’m not a connoisseur of BBQ sauce like he is), and the portions were beyond generous….splitting it was definitely not a problem! I also tried the brisket au gratin potatoes for my side, and if that isn’t comfort food right there, I don’t know what is.

Beast will always be my first BBQ love, but I wouldn’t mind going back to Sugarfire 64 and trying some of their other offerings, because their food is excellent!

Tasty Tuesday–Soup!

One of my favorite things about the cool weather that arrives with fall is the addition of soups to our dinner menus. Sure, you can make soup during the summer, but it’s just not the same when it’s hot outside, right? There’s something really comforting about a warm bowl of soup on a chilly day! Here’s a look at some of our favorite soup recipes:

 

Tasty Tuesday–Fajitas

Would you believe I’ve never tried to make fajitas before last weekend? I wanted to try something new, though, so I made chicken and steak varieties, and messed around with the recipe a bit until I got the spices right. Everyone loved them, so I think it was a success!

  • 6-8 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 3 tsp. kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • 3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or flank steak, cut into thin strips
  • 3 bell peppers, thinly sliced (I like to use a variety of colors)
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced

Make marinade: In large bowl, combine 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, lemon or lime juice, 3 tsp. kosher salt, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Toss with chicken or steak and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.

In large skillet, saute peppers and onions with remaining oil and salt to taste on medium heat until tender. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

In same skillet, saute chicken or steak for five to six minutes until cooked through (do this in batches so you don’t crowd the pan). Discard remaining marinade. Add peppers and onions to pan with meat and heat through.

Serve on tortillas with favorite toppings such as rice, lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and avocado.

Tasty Tuesday–Ideas for Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is one of my favorite times of year! My children have come to expect me to tell the story of why Oktoberfest starts in September and to make all their favorite Oktoberfest treats. Here are the recipes I’ve shared over the years…pretty much just sides and desserts for some reason, but those are the most delicious kinds of recipes, right?

  • Homemade Pretzels–This is one of favorite recipes, not just for Oktoberfest, but in general, because everyone gets involved in helping shape the pretzels…we’ve had a lot of fun coming up with unique shapes over the years!
  • Cheddar and Beer Fondue–If you’re looking for a dip for pretzels (or brats, crusty bread, and baby gherkins), this is the recipe you want.
  • Spaetzle–I can make over a dozen batches of this recipe in a single week, because it’s one that everybody loves, and it goes with pretty much anything.
  • Apple Strudel–Technically, this is an Austrian recipe, but it’s still an Oktoberfest favorite around here!
  • Black Forest Cherry Torte–This is one of our all-time favorite cakes…I’ve made it not just for Oktoberfest, but for birthday, too!

What are your favorite Oktoberfest foods?

Tasty Tuesday–Our Favorite Spaetzle

It’s that time of year again…Oktoberfest! I’m looking forward to cooking some of our favorite German foods in the coming weeks, but none is more appreciated than homemade spaetzle…well, other than Black Forest Cherry Torte! Here’s the recipe I use…it makes a lot, so you might want to halve it if you don’t like spaetzle as much as we do (or if you don’t have seven members in your family!). I use a little less nutmeg than many recipes call for, because I find it a bit overpowering, but feel free to adjust to your tastes.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch fresh ground pepper (white is traditional, but I use black)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley,  chopped
  • Shredded Gruyère cheese (optional)
  • Sauerkraut (optional)

Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Beat eggs well, and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Working over pot of water, press dough through spaetzle maker or colander with large holes, dropping into water. Cook four to six minutes. Drain well.

Sauté cooked spaetzle in butter. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top. For an extra-special treat, add some shredded Gruyère cheese and sauerkraut while sautéing the spaetzle.

Tasty Tuesday–A Magical Birthday Feast

It’s already been two weeks since Harry Potter’s (and J.K. Rowling’s) birthday! To celebrate that occasion, we tried out some more recipes from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. I can’t recommend it enough…we’ve loved the recipes we’ve tried so far, and it’s so much fun to have themed dinners!

This time around, we tried Gillywater (a drink made from honeydew melon and mint), hot rolls, Brussel sprouts with béchamel sauce, Chiddingly hotpot (a fantastic stew with many sour notes from two kinds of vinegar and green olives!), and Sirius Black’s coconut cake for dessert (yes, I got Hogwarts paper plates from Walmart!):

No, not all of these recipes appear in the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling never explains what Gillywater is, so the author of the cookbook just went with something green and refreshing (which it was!). The coconut cake is also a creation from the author’s imagination, based on the fact that Sirius Black was hiding out in a tropical location, so she decided that when he sent Harry a birthday cake, it would have a tropical flavor. I really appreciate not only the known recipes from the books, but also the author’s interpretation of some of the more vague culinary mentions!

Tasty Tuesday–A Medieval Feast

One of my favorite things about summer school every year is having an opportunity to cook something new and interesting that relates to the theme of our studies. Coming up with a medieval-themed menu was a bit challenging, but we tried a few new things, and we actually liked everything! On this year’s menu were mock mead, pottage (a vegetable and barley soup), beef and bacon pie (the bacon took the place of marrow, which would have been a common medieval ingredient), and baked spiced pears for dessert.

I will confess, we did use modern dishes and silverware (although I did consider using bread trenchers for the pie!), and the cooking methods weren’t exactly medieval, but at least it was an approximation of food people might have eaten during the Middle Ages!

Tasty Tuesday–A Magical Feast

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

We had a special magical feast last week, based on recipes from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. Since today is Harry Potter’s birthday, it seems like the perfect time to share our feast, which included pumpkin fizz, a new Irish soda bread recipe, creamy onion soup, beef stew with herbed dumplings, butterbeer, and an English strawberry trifle:

It was a delicious meal…we’re definitely looking forward to trying more recipes from the cookbook!