Life

Lunch Date and Restaurant Review

Today, I got a summer vacation… took off of work for the rest of the summer. Hubs just started a FABULOUS job, the office had already cut my hours, and having a 5 year old with you at work all day=no productivity! So it was basically a mutual understanding of sorts, and we’ll check back in August.

Since we had some extra, and much needed time on our hands, the little man and I went galavanting around town. There’s this super cool outdoor mall, called Bridge Street, full of shops and restaurants.. a hip and happenin movie theatre at the end and even a pop-up fountain for the kids to play in. Snazzy place.

We hit up Toy’s R Us, DSW shoes (’cause now I’m on the hunt for the perfect blue “party” shoes 😉 ) and Old Navy.

I knew that I wanted to try this fresh Mexican grill in the mall, so with all that walking around, we were famished come lunch time.

I’ve lived here right at a year and a half now, and I could probably count on one hand the restaurants I’ve eaten in. I just don’t go out to eat, becuase I cook so much here, and mine is always better, haha, no really though, I’m totally serious 😉 and if I don’t cook it, I don’t know what’s going into it!

With having been in Louisiana for a long weekend, today being our first day back in Alabama, the 85′ weather with a cool breeze and little to no humidity, was a more than welcomed perfect summer day. I was finally not MELTING in my own skin being in 95′ / 100% humidity! That madness ain’t no joke!

Since it was such a gorgeous day…..

We decided on a lovely little table next to the water

Food just seems to taste better with a view like this 🙂

Since I’m doing the whole no carb/paleo thing (Which I am SUPER proud of myself for sticking to it like a madwoman, and LOVING it!) I knew I didn’t want the tortillas, or the beans, or the corn, or the cheese or the rice, that usually is all evident in Mexican food. LIME  fresh mexican grill, was over and beyond oblidging! I ordered the

SOUTHWEST SALAD

Grilled chicken on a bed of fresh greens with crispy bacon, black bean corn salsa, tomatoes and carrots topped with crispy tortilla strips. Served with a side of chipotle honey lime dressing

with no black bean and corn salsa and no tortilla strips (it didn’t come with cheese)

And the Boy ordered the kids cheese quesadilla

The kicker to all this was the salsa bar!!!! Can you say heaven???

It was basically a salad bar of salsa! For this condiment queen, absolute bliss! They had varying spice levels, flavors, and fresh toppings. What totally sold me (as if I wasn’t sold before)… was that you could see the employees behind the counter, hand chopping fresh batches of Pico! My kind of place!!!

You could get as many 1.5oz sample cups as you wanted, and load up on your poison! I decided on Pico de Gallo, the Seasonal Salsa (made with pineapple), Habenero salsa (I’m a glutton for punishment….. have you heard about my love of Sriracha???? 😉 ),  Salsa Suave (chipotle based.. the red, and my kid’s favorite), Salsa Asada (fire roasted) and Salsa Verde (tomatillos).

I used a bit of ALL of them, plus a wee bit of a drizzle of the honey lime dressing, a top my salad. It was fresh/spicy/sweet/smokey/grilled deliciousness in every bite!

They  even had jammin music, that my lil’ drummer boy was gettin’ all Gangsta with 😉

I’ll definitely be going back 🙂

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My mind is ramblin… and Ribs!

Anyone ever heard of The Black Keys?? Good stuff, right there. Aaaaanyway.

First of all, I’d like to be proud of myself for pinning a project, and getting it D.O.N.E.

Saw some Roman Shades made with mini blinds on Pintrest, and made 2 variations, within 2 days. And both for less than 20 bucks!! Hellz to the yeeyaah!

This one is stationary and in my laundry room window

And this one is the mini blind at my back door. Cool. ass. shnizzle!!

 

On to the next.. and most important order of business..

RIBS!  BABY…BACK….PORKY…..FINGER…..LICKIN………….RIBS!!!!

Holy schnikies these were……. De-Friggin-Licious.

Like… Make you want to abandon your favorite BBQ  joint and write home about them good!

I researched a lil’ bit, and then did my own thing, haha. Taurus’ at their best 😉

I have a dry rub, that I use on lotz of stuffz. Originated from my pulled pork, and it just works 🙂

DRY RUB

3 Tbsp Paprika

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp Dry Mustard

3 Tbsp Coarse Sea Salt

1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper

 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. VOILA!

I had an old Paprika bottle that I washed and re-labeld as my dry rub, so now I have it already mixed up and ready to use. I’ve obviously used this on pork, and I think it really works with it the best, but I’ve also rubbed chicken breasts (HA! that’s a funny mental picture) steaks and even a brisket.

ON TO THE RIBS!

 

(Inspect your meat when you’re buying it people! I probably get funny looks in the grocery store when I’m buying meat and produce, because I pick up no less than 5 packs of what I’m buying to get the 1 perfect pack. I’m weird…

I already know 😉 )

OVEN ROASTED RIBS- FINISHED ON THE GRILL

1 pack of Baby Back Ribs

Dry Rub

BBQ sauce

 

Prepare your ribs by removing the membrane/skin from the back. (Sorry I didn’t get any pictures, my hands were a little pre-porkupied)

Sprinkle dry rub liberally over both sides of ribs, and rub it, pat it, give it a good smack…. What? you don’t smack your meat??

Wrap ribs in 2 layers of foil and put it in the fridge for at least an hour or up to over night.

When you’re about 3 and a half hours from dinner time, take the ribs out of the fridge  and pre-heat your oven to 250′.

Line a baking sheet with yet another piece of foil (Ribs are messy little beasts) and placed wrapped rack on baking sheet.

Cook low and slow for 3 hours. Go wash your cars, cut the yard, have a beer or 2 😉

When the 3 hours is up, remove your ribs from the oven and heat up the grill. I have gas, so I put it on about med-low.

CAREFULLY unwrap the ribs. These suckers are still smokin’ hot. Brush on a layer of your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides. I used a sweet Kansas City style and it complimented the rub perfectly!

Once your grill is heated up, place the sauced ribs on there for about 10 minutes turning once or twice, just till the sauce starts to caramelize and you get some of that “grill” flavor. Cut into serving size portions, I went 2 bones a piece, and get down and dirty with it.

Or put in on a salad… 😉

SOOOOOO GOOD!

 

BTDub…………………………………………………….. I’m Engaged 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Life, Recipes

Not so Cajun Crawfish Etouffee’

Having grown up in Louisiana, we always had fresh seafood anywhere and everywhere. Now that I’m all tucked into the armpit of the USA.. (not really, but surely not by the coast) It’s not as easy to get my hands on the good stuff.

My Mom came up and visited a couple of weeks ago and brought some goodies from home. 2lbs of local crawfish tails and a few links of boudin. Since it was technically a late birthday celebration for me and Memorial Day weekend as well, I may have had 1… or 2 links of boudin.

Shoot me now, I know, but it’s a weakness of mine, and a very rare and special treat 🙂

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cajun boudin, you’re missing out.. BIG TIME. Good chit, right there!

Pronounced BOO-DAN, it’s basically a spicy porky ricey dressing stuffed into a casing. No utensils needed, if you’re a barbarian like me, you squeeze the stuffing right out of the casing with your teeth. If you think you need to be more civilized… you can cut it open with a knife and eat it with a fork… but what’s the fun in that?? Wash it down with a good cold beer, ain’t nuthin betta 😉

Now that I’ve gained a pound just by writing this….

Back to the Crawfish!

I knew I wanted to make some etouffee’ with one of the pounds of crawfish, but I also knew that I wanted to put my own spin on it.  Typically, Etouffee’ is made with a roux (flour and butter), more butter and cream of either Celery or Shrimp soup. I knew I wasn’t having any of that. A few weeks ago, I made a red coconut curry with pork and veggies, and The Hubs had suggested how it might be with crawfish. GENIUS!!

(He might just be good for something after all 😉 Love Ya, Babe 🙂 )

The base of any good Cajun dish is the trinity. Simple, basic 3 ingredients, onion/ bell pepper/ celery. Makes it taste like home.

Shall we get on with how it all came together, already?? 😉

CRAWFISH COCONUT ETOUFFEE’

1 medium Onion (diced)

1 medium Green Bell Pepper (diced)

2 stalks Celery (diced)

2 cloves Garlic (minced)

1 lb Crawfish tails

1 can light Coconut milk

1 Tbsp Tomato paste

1 tsp Corn starch mixed with 1 Tbsp COLD water

salt, black pepper, cayenne, Tabasco – to taste

In medium pan heat 1 tsp olive oil, and add onion, bell pepper and celery

Salt and saute’ until soft, and add garlic. Cook until fragrant. DO NOT BURN GARLIC!

I REPEAT…. DO NOT. EVER. In Anything 🙂

Add Crawfish Tails, fat and all. To you crawfish virgins, fat is not really fat here, it’s flavor, no seriously 😉

Since the crawfish is already cooked, you only need to heat through before adding the coconut milk.

I only used about 3/4 of the can… cause it looked like enough, and I didn’t want it to get too soupy. Stir to combine, and add tomato paste.

Mix together until well combined and thoroughly heated through.

Here’s where I add a tsp of corn starch mixed with about a Tbsp of COLD water, just to thicken it up a bit. Season to your liking with salt, black pepper, and cayenne and a dash or 2 of Tabasco 😉

The typical Cajun way is to serve over cooked white rice. Which is how The Hubs had his… with a couple extra shots of Tabasco 😉

But since I don’t roll that way, and I’m jumping on the crazy….errr… Paleo train, I took mine a step further.

I had a few leftover button mushrooms, so I stuffed them with the crawfish mixture and baked them for about 20 minutes

TALK….. ABOUT….. GOOD!!!!

Recipes

Grilled Pork Loin and Asparagus

We be Grillin! I love this time of year. This is my second summer up here, and it’s just awesome. We are outside nearly every night, hangin out, chillin with the neighbors, and 90% of the time, there’s something on the grill.

This dinner was super easy, super good, and super healthy.

Grilled Pork Loin

1.5 lb fresh pork loin

season to taste with salt, black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika

1 Tbsp your favorite BBQ sauce and 1 Tbsp honey mustard (mixed together)

Grilled Asparagus

1 bunch fresh Asparagus

1Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat outdoor grill to Medium High.

Season pork loin with salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika, on all sides.

Place trimmed asparagus in foil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. make sure they are coated with the oil, and close the foil, as to make a packet of sorts.

Mosey on outside, with the seasoned pork and asparagus……. and a cold drink in hand 😉

I usually oil my grill, with a little veg oil on a paper towel, before putting my meats on just to ensure easy clean up.

Put pork on lower grill and asparagus packet on the upper level. If you don’t have two levels, I recommend placing the asparagus over indirect heat.

Cook for about 20-25 minutes turning every 5-7 minutes. The internal temp should be 160′ for pork.

During the last five minutes of cooking, brush the BBQ sauce/Honey Mustard mixture over the pork on all sides

The trick is to not overcook the pork. Let it rest for a good 10 minutes before slicing.

This meat was SO TENDER AND JUICY! I heard the hubs ask “Seriously???” after the first bite he took 🙂

SERIOUSLY!

Recipes

Korean turkey lettuce wraps

Most everytime I go to the grocery store, I try a new and exciting condiment, sauce, marinade of sorts.

This past weekend, I picked up a jar of Korean BBQ sauce

.

Bibigo Original. Almost tried the Hot and Spicy.. maybe next trip 😉

I marinated a couple of sirloin steaks in it a couple of nights ago, and they came out damn good. It’s a sweet/salty/nutty mix of flavors. The main flavors that I can make out are soy and sesame. YUM!

I had also picked up a pound of ground turkey breast, and a small head of bibb lettuce with every intention of making lettuce wraps.  I’ve eaten them from a couple of places, so I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t. And so I came up with this.

They were REALLY good. Not greasy, not to onion-y, perfect amount of sauce and flavor. Try it out for yourself. It really couldn’t be easier 🙂

KOREAN BBQ TURKEY LETTUCE WRAPS

1 lb ground turkey breast

1 sm onion (small dice)

1 stalk celery (small dice)

1 carrot (small dice)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

4 button mushrooms (small dice)

2Tbsp Korean BBQ sauce

1Tbsp Sriracha

1 small head Bibb lettuce

In medium sauce pan, cook turkey until no longer pink. Add onion, celery and carrot, and cook until slightly softened. Add garlic, just until fragrant, then add mushrooms.

Cook for a couple minutes. Add Korean BBQ sauce and Sriracha, stir until all incorporated

Serve in lettuce cups and enjoy 🙂