I tried a new soup recipe last week, but being me, I had to tinker with it the first time I made it. The end result was delicious, and it was a pretty popular dinner, so I know I’ll be making it again!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or a combination of the two)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish
4 jalapeños, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tsp. salt
8 cups chicken broth
4 avocados, cut in cubes
Queso fresco, crumbled
Place chicken in stock pot and cover with water. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, about 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Cool enough to chop.
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cumin and stir well, heating for about a minute. Add onion, 1 cup cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, and lime juice; sprinkle with salt. Sauté until tender, about five minutes.
Stir in chicken broth and chicken; heat through.
Serve with remaining cilantro, avocado, and queso fresco.
This is one of our family’s favorite recipes, and Turkey’s go-to when he picks his birthday dinner.
3 loaves Rhodes bread dough, thawed
20 slices deli ham
24 slices deli Genoa salami
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375.
Split bread dough in two equal portions. Roll each out in a rectangle, about 15×10 inches. Sprinkle each with basil, then top each with half of the ham, salami, and mozzarella. Roll each from the long side; pinch closed. Place each seam side down on a baking sheet; rub with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until bread is golden-brown. Let stand five minutes before slicing.
Belleville’s Beast Craft BBQ has daily specials, as you might expect from a restaurant, and I’ve reviewed many of them in the years they’ve been open. But every now and again, they have something extra special, something so unique that it’s only around for a day or two, and you have to jump at the chance to get it before they sell out. Over the weekend, they offered such an item, a pork belly pastrami sandwich topped with dill cucumber salad, on sourdough, plus fries:
So, here’s the thing. When the owner of Beast messages you to let you know about the special, and tells you to get there early to try it, you really have to listen to him. So even though Ryan was out all day on Saturday (with our only vehicle), he found some time to swing by and pick one up for me.
That was a good call.
It’s obvious that I’ve liked everything I’ve tried at Beast, and have many favorites. This sandwich was extra special, though. The meat just melted in my mouth. It was so tender and so flavorful, and then when you add in the crunch of the cucumber salad…it’s definitely now one of my Beast favorites! I don’t know if they’ll ever bring it back, but if they do, I’m certainly going to have to get it again, and this time I know that I need to be there when they open, because I’m pretty sure Ryan got some of the last of it they had on Saturday, and that was at lunchtime!
Ladybug and I have been planning to go to dinner at Texas de Brazil in the St. Louis Galleria for almost a year…Saturday was finally the day!
As soon as we walked in, we were impressed…there were color-changing lights behind the bar, which looked really cool through the various bottles!
The table was super fancy, and Ladybug was shocked by the napkin service, which is something she had never encountered. Not only did they place our napkins in our laps when we sat down, they refolded them every time we got up from the table!
If you’ve never been to Texas de Brazil, here’s how it works. After you’re seated, you can visit the salad bar. There were so many delicious options! (But watch out for that plant…it attacked me several times!)
In addition to the cold offerings, there are also some heated options, including their famous lobster bisque, Brazilian black beans, rice, and moqueca (fish stew):
At your table, you’re given a “coin.” One side indicates that you would like the waiters to stop by with whatever carved meat they’re carrying, and the other that you are content with what you have (at least for the time being!):
There are so many meat options, from all of the main meat groups…beef, chicken, pork, and lamb (plus the fish family at the salad bar…I tried all five kinds of meats!). Some are wrapped in bacon, some are seasoned with parmesan cheese, and all are delicious. In general, the meats are prepared medium-rare, but you can request more or less done options. And watching the waiters carve the meat table side is quite a treat!
In addition to the salad bar offerings (both cold and hot), a few side dishes are brought to your table, including garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried bananas, and Brazilian cheese bread (Pao de Queijo), which I’ve actually made before!
We enjoyed everything we tried, from the drinks (Ladybug had a Brazilian soda, and I had their signature drink, the Caipirinha), to the salad bar (the pineapple carpaccio, couscous salad, and giant capers were some of our favorites!), to the meat (I was so happy to see so many rare options, including filet mignon and plain old steak):
And then the desserts. There was a tray with some of their offerings, including Brazilian cheesecake, carrot cake, and key lime pie), but they also have other choices including Brazilian flan, Crème Brûlée, and Brazilian Papaya Cream.
Ladybug and I both chose the chocolate mousse cake, and we were definitely not disappointed…it was AMAZING!
This was a very fun and special evening. I wish it was a place we could all visit someday, but it’s not practical for a large family. I do hope that I’ll get the chance to go back with somebody someday, though, because I had a great time, and really enjoyed my meal!
I’ve shared the details of one of our family’s favorite holidays, Seamus Day, here in the past. Every year on February 26th, starting in 2014, we’ve grabbed a meal (either lunch or dinner), at our favorite local pub, Seamus McDaniel’s, in the Dogtown neighborhood of St. Louis. Well, this year, the 26th just didn’t work out, so we had our lunch out on Sunday, instead. But I still wanted to recognize Seamus Day, so here’s a look at what is still the best burger I’ve ever had!
I have to confess, I am a little worried about Seamus. They’ve made a lot of changes (including to the decor and the menu), and the prices took a big jump. For now, anyway, the food tastes as good, which is the most important thing. We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation, though…I want to be warned if the changes extend to the food itself!
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!
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!
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:
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.
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!