Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wedding Chicken (Port-a-Pitt Barbecue)

Our wedding is going to be a complete DIY wedding.  Some people say that, but I really mean it.  I think every single aspect is being made by us.

And by 'us,' I mean my mom.

She just finished up the invitations (with custom artwork!) yesterday.  She's doing the flowers, bouquets, centerpieces, and all other decorations.  And if it were just those 2 things, maybe you'd think that's not so bad.  But, she's also catering the wedding (with some help from my dad, future in-laws, sisters and aunts).
So, the food at our wedding is going to be a big barbecue.

There will still be lots of hot dishes, appetizers, multiple options...basically, all of it.  It's just going to also be really good since it will be homemade :)

In Indiana, this style of chicken was called Port-a-Pitt.  I'm guessing it has something to do with it being made in portable stations (usually sold as a fundraiser)?  Whatever the origins, like most things that come out of Indiana it tastes delicious, even if it's not super healthy.

It's a salty, vinegar brine that the chicken marinates in and then more is used to glaze the chicken as it's cooking on the grill and getting that nice char-broiled finish.

Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Host a Summer Barbecue

Barbecues are the best type of entertaining.  They're super easy - since you're outside, you don't have to clean the whole house (just the path to the bathroom); very minimal decorations are required; and people aren't expecting anything formal.
The biggest element to having a successful barbecue is the food.  Obviously!  That's why people came in the first place.

I'll share my family's classic bbq recipes over the next few posts so you have specifics, but I thought I'd give you some general tips first.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy Hour: Muddled Monarch

This cocktail has my favorite liqueur in it (at least my favorite, so far!).  St. Germain!  It’s an elderflower liqueur.  

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that might make you never want to read my blog again: I can’t describe the flavor to you.  I know that makes me the worst food blogger in the world and I’m pretty sure describing food & drinks is like #1 in terms of things you should be able to do…but I can’t.  
Honestly, I don’t even know what an Elderflower is. 

So, I cheated.  I googled Elderflowers and St. Germain and I found out that the people that make it (in France) use bicycles to transport the flowers to the plant!!

Yep, definitely my favorite liqueur.  

All you need to know is it tastes good.  It’s a little bit sweet, but not so sweet that you’ll need aspirin in the morning (no guarantee here since I can’t predict how many you’re going to drink - trust me, it’s hard to stop).  

Mix it with tart grapefruit and fragrant mint and you have the Muddled Monarch!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chippety Chippers

Austin and I make chocolate chip cookies very differently and neither of us really likes the way the other one makes them. (Sorry :/)

He uses shortening, I use butter.  He uses lots of chocolate chips, I prefer fewer.  I add chopped pecans, he's allergic to tree nuts.
Hey, that reminds me of that song, "Let's call the whole thing off!"  And, believe it or not, sometimes I'm even willing to compromise and do half butter, half Crisco.

With Austin gone though, I just use all butter, all the time.  (Don't be thinking that he's not using all shortening all the time out there in California!)

These cookies would fulfill both of our needs in a cookie too.  They have tons of chocolate chips (milk, semisweet, white & peanut butter!), all butter and no nuts.  If you're tallying, yes, I'm still coming out ahead :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

S'Mores Pie

If I was Oprah and I was hosting a 'my favorite things' show, somehow I would have to figure out how to package a campfire.  It's definitely in my top 10.

I love the smell of it, its bug repellent properties, mindlessly staring at it, and the crackling noises.  
If I don't get to go camping and sit by the fire at least once every 6 weeks in the warmer months, I start to get antsy.  Really, really antsy.  

Since my camping partner is gone and I think I would get a little paranoid sleeping by myself in a tent, I'm going bonkers!
I haven't figured out how to package the campfire experience yet, and the closest thing I could come up with was a s'mores pie.  

I know it's not the same, but it's the best I could do, people!

This pie is sweet!  Like a s'more, but more so.  The chocolate filling is rich and the marshmallow topping is fluffy and creamy.  That being said, a thin slice will most likely be enough.  In other words, you only have to make one of these pies to serve a crowd!  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy Hour: Kiwi Grapefruit Cooler

Maybe you've noticed (I hope you haven't though) that my posting schedule has gotten a little wonky lately.  I'm going to blame that on starting a new job.  And that's partly true.  Another part of the problem is that is stays light so late!  I go from eating dinner straight to being late for bed - seriously, how does that happen?!

I've always wanted to be one of those bloggers that's super organized and has posts scheduled into 2015, but I'm not.  I might have the recipe and photos (some of the time), but I don't have the post ready until the second that it's published.
If you know me, this might surprise you.  I am totally neurotic about scheduling and organization.

This week, I decided that this needs to change.  I need to get my blog as OCD as the rest of my life.  So, every Friday (I'm gonna try), I'll be posting a series of "Happy Hour" posts.  I'm counting on you to figure out what the subject matter will be - because, you know, you're not stupid.

That being said, I'm not going to promise that every recipe will have alcohol in it.  (With a preggers sister, I might also have some mocktails in an effort to be inclusive!)  But this kiwi grapefruit cooler is definitely a bit boozy - Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coconut Poke Cake with Berries and Cream

Of all of the details that go into planning a wedding, I thought cake testing was going to be the easiest and most fun by far.  It probably still has been the most fun, but it hasn't necessarily been easy.

A few things have made this process harder than it should be.  The first being that my fiancee is living two states away right now.  The second thing getting in my way is that I think I might be just a teensy weensy bit picky when it comes to my cake.
What it all boils down to is that homemade cake tastes better than store- or bakery-bought cake.  Period. 

Cake should be light and fluffy and made with only real ingredients that you can pronounce and spell.  Cake should be seriously hard to resist.  Icing should also be light and not so sweet that it makes your teeth hurt or itch.  

Told you I'm picky, but I won't accept that I'm asking for too much.  If I can make this coconut poke cake with all of the features of a good cake, then someone who gets paid to bake all day long should surely be able to do the same.  
If you've ever had a tres leches cake before, this cake has the same moist texture.  I've added coconut milk to give it a more refreshing flavor and of course topped it with fresh, summer berries and homemade whipped cream!  On second thought, maybe I will make my own wedding cake. ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

When I was 11, my family moved from Indiana to Utah so I pretty much consider myself a Utahn, but a couple things from the Midwest did seem to stick.
Number 1 being my appreciation and love for good, fresh corn on the cob.  Number 2 is probably my overuse of butter, but that's not really one worth harping on.

Even though I get made fun of for it, my favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla.  I will always choose vanilla.  Always.  I don't even like chocolate ice cream.  However; when you're a hoosier, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to not be intrigued by corn flavored ice cream, or corn flavored anything for that matter.
Sweet corn ice cream is not the type of dessert you're going to load up on and eat mindlessly while watching TV.  It's more the type of desert to serve after a dinner party.  Just 2 smallish sized scoops per person.  Maybe throw it in a fancy sundae dish.  Take small bites and savor it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Garlic Lime Grilled Chicken

Everyone likes to cook out on the grill in the summer, right?  It's hot and you don't want to make your house even hotter by turning on the oven.

Our house doesn't even have air conditioning, so you have to figure out the 'science' of closing and opening windows and blinds in sync with the sun.  And even though we have pretty mild summers, sometimes it's still not enough.  Then you just have to sweat it out.
Back to the issue at hand: barbecuing.  We're well into summer and quite frankly, I can only eat so many hamburgers and hotdogs.  It's just a fact.

We need to get a little more creative with our grilling.  Grilled chicken isn't all that creative, but it is tasty!  Garlic lime grilled chicken that takes almost no time to make is even better.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Superfood Smoothie

Last week, I started a new job.  So now, I'm pretty much a professional blogger, tweeter, and facebooker for a health and wellness company.

I really like to eat healthy foods and feel good and have energy and all that good stuff...but I also like hamburgers and milkshakes which unfortunately don't make me feel so hot or give me energy.

Actually, on my second day of work, I left to get a Crown Burger (basically a cheeseburger topped with a ton of pastrami).  Nothing's felt quite so wrong as sneaking out of a health and wellness company to get a pile of grease topped with more grease.  I did resist the shake and fries though, so that's something.
All smoothies feel like you're doing your body a favor, but this particular concoction is so good for you it almost feels like you can undo that cheeseburger...almost.  It's loaded with fresh fruits that boost your immune system, probiotics to help with digestion, and flax seed oil for joint health and circulation.  In a few words: it's good for you.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

4th of July Cocktail Roundup

 Kraken Cocktail
Here in Park City, the 4th of July has almost nothing to do with patriotism or celebrating America.  It's really all about drinking.  It's one of the few days when it's 'accepted' to start drinking at 9 a.m. to get ready for the parade and continue...well, as long as you can.

I shouldn't say it has nothing to do with 'Merica.  30 racks of cheap beer seems pretty American and there are a lot of cutoff jorts.  But, beyond that...

I've pretty much sworn off the cheap beer now (I like to think I'm a little classier than that), so I make myself fruity cocktails and drink them out of a water bottle as I watch our little local parade run down Main Street.

Here are a few of my favorites:
Blackberry Mint Margaritas
Naturally sweet and refreshingly minty Blackberry Mint Margs
 Easy Like Sunday Morning
Every 4th should be Easy Like Sunday Morning, don't you think?
 Beet Bloody Mary
Beet Bloody Mary: An acceptable a.m. cocktail.
 The Applesauce
It's going to be hot, you should probably make a pitcher of 'The Applesauce' - I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'.
 Strawberry Mojito
Usually, Austin makes a boozy lemonade with shredded-up-something that looks like grass - Strawberry Mojitos are along the same vein, but fancy!
 Outlaw Lemonade
Outlaw Lemonade - drinking this at a public event actually is outlawed (at least in Utah), but we should all live a little!
Watermelon Agave Juleps
And finally, nothing quite says summer like Watermelon (Agave Juleps).

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Strawberry Overnight Oats

For the past few months, I have been working in retail.  That meant that the earliest I have to be to work was 10 a.m. and more often than not, I was working evenings so I really had no pressing reason to jump out of bed in the morning.  On Monday, I started a new job and now I have to be to the office at 8 a.m. with a 40 minute commute.

I've mentioned before that I'm a morning person and that's true.  It's just that the transition is tough.  Now, instead of choosing to get up early and go for a run, or get a head start on my chores, I have to get up.
And in the mornings, I feel like I'm scrambling.  The type of scrambling where you run out the door with a coffee mug sloshing all over your hand and you throw a granola bar in your purse and call it breakfast.  Not exactly a breakfast of champions.

So, during this transition period, I'm thinking overnight oats are going to be my saving grace.  They are exactly what the name suggests: you make them before you go to bed, wake up and eat them.  I get easily bored with foods and like to mix it up, so I'll be switching out the toppings (think: almond butter, nuts, bananas, Nutella, cookie butter, sunflower seeds, honey, ....), but the base ingredients stay the same.

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