Movie theaters and popcorn. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, Beyonce and Jay Z. They're such a perfect match that it's hard to separate the two. Somehow we've been convinced that the movie experience will be less fulfilling without a bucket of popcorn sitting on our lap. The intoxicating buttery, salty, smell of popcorn overwhelms us from the moment we walk through the doors of the theater making it nearly impossible to ignore the mouth watering aroma and even harder to walk away from the ticket counter without an oversized bag of the fluffy popcorn. Oddly enough, the consumption of popcorn in a movie theater doesn't even require that one is even hungry. Movie goers mindlessly munch on popped kernels of corn while they're preoccupied with whatever is happening on the giant screen in front of them.
Popcorn is to movies like soft pretzels are to the mall. Let me explain. Much like a Pavlovian dog, when I walk into a movie theater, I instantly crave popcorn. When I walk into a mall, I crave soft pretzel bites. It's my own fault really. From the time that my daughter was very young, we always made a stop by the soft pretzel stand when we shopped at a mall. At first, I used the pretzels as a bribe to ward off any toddler meltdowns while trying to shop. When that sweet girl got a little older, we started to bond over our soft pretzel dates. We would talk and laugh and people watch while we nibbled on buttery, cinnamon sugar coated nuggets of soft, buttery pretzels. Now that my sweet girl has moved off to college, it's always hard to pass the pretzel stand in the mall without her. So I'm feeling nostalgic today while I tackled the task of baking homemade soft pretzels since my girl has moved back to college.
Soft Pretzel Bites
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated
salt + pepper to taste
Slowly add 3 c. flour, 1 cup at a time. Knead with dough hook. Add remaining flour 1/4 c. at a time until dough is no longer sticky. Knead 3 minutes.
Bring 9 c. water to a boil with baking soda. Drop 8-10 bites into water and let boil for 20 seconds. Remove from water with slotted spoon and place on silicone mats.
Brush each bite with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt. Bake 10-15 minutes at 425.
Continue cooking until mixture thickens. (5 minutes) Whisk in cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve pretzels with warm cheese sauce for dipping.
For a sweet alternative, skip the sea salt and sprinkle your pretzel bites with cinnamon sugar before you bake them. (Just like at the mall.)
Just in case you end up with way to much cheese sauce like I did, here's a tip. Cook some elbow noodles and add them to the reheated cheese sauce voila - homemade macaroni and cheese.
Prior to last week, I never even considered plopping a giant dessert down in the middle of the kitchen table, handing each dinner guest a fork and inviting them to collectively "dive in" at the conclusion of a meal. The idea of serving a communal dessert to dinner guests just sounds completely absurd. I can't stop my brain from thinking about how many germs are being transferred from forks to dessert with each bite, how messy and sloppy the dessert becomes and how I really don't like to share my dessert.
Even with all those crazy thoughts running through my brain, I decided it was time to try a family dessert when I ran across this recipe for cast iron Blueberry Peach Cobbler last week. I wish I would have photographed the look on my kids faces when I set this warm dessert in the middle of the table and handed each person a spoon. "Are you serious, we can just eat it?" This was pretty much a dream come true for the Davis family.
Okay, even though it's not REQUIRED that you eat this cobbler right out of the pan I do think that it tastes better if you do. It's kind of like eating ice cream from a cone. There's really no scientific explanation - ice cream just tastes better when it comes in a cone. (Don't even try and debate this one.)
In most cases it completely grosses me out to think about forks going from mouth to dessert and then back again but in this case, I was willing to put aside my germaphobe tendencies in order to fully appreciate this dessert. It was totally worth it. So even if you're like and and you have to convince yourself that this warm cobbler has germ fighting properties, you really should experience it - straight from the pan.
Blueberry Peach Cobbler
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 pounds peaches, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup bisquick
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon sugar
Bake 45 minutes at 350.
Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I'm still not sure that I could ever serve this dessert to dinner guests in the same way but I would definitely make it again in ramekins to serve as individual portions to each guest. No matter how you serve it, this recipe is super easy and super delicious.
There are a lot of advantages to living in the South, not the least of which is the fact that there is no shortage of amazingly delicious and seriously authentic barbecue restaurants. If you live in the South - you know exactly what I mean. If you don't live in the South but you happen to find yourself passing through this summer, you will not want to pass up the opportunity to stop by one of these famous barbecue restaurants.
Those of you who follow my blog regularly are probably surprised by the fact that I am a barbecue fan since I'm not a big beef or pork eater. It's a little known secret that these restaurants also smoke some of the most flavorful and juicy chicken and turkey in their smoke houses. All of that sweet, smoky flavor infused into tender, juicy poultry - my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I've used my Big Green Egg to replicate the chicken that's smoked for hours at the barbecue restaurants, but it's still just not quite the same. Let's face it - I don't always have a full 10-12 hour window and a smoke house at my disposal to perfectly replicate that smoke house poultry for dinner.
This recipe for indoor pulled chicken is the perfect option for anyone who wants to recreate that barbecue chicken flavor at home - in under an hour. I loved this quick and easy chicken and it really has the smoky flavor of the chicken from my favorite barbecue restaurant.
Indoor Pulled Pork
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup barbecue sauce
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with remaining barbecue sauce.
You can also serve these on mini rolls like little sliders.
Let's be honest, some days, I just don't have the energy to go outside and face the heat to cook on the grill. I'm loving this indoor option for smoked chicken even on the hottest of summer days.
What is the world is a meatloaf - burger - steak??? I know you were wondering. I have to admit - I was wondering the same thing when I first saw this recipe. Is it a meatloaf? Is is a hamburger? Or is it a chopped steak? I secretly hoped for some sort of fusion of all three things in one jam packed patty.
Now that I've made this recipe, I can honestly say that I'm no closer to an answer to that question than I was before. All I know is that I have a child at home who loves meatloaf, loves burgers and really loves steak. How could I lose with this recipe?
Meatloaf Burger Steaks
4 ounces mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 onion, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1" pieces
1/3 cup whole wheat panko
1 pound ground sirloin
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
Reduce heat to low and add patties. Cook 6 minutes or until cooked through.
I've made meatloaf burgers and I've made steak burgers and I've even made burger steaks but I've never made a meatloaf burger steak. Until now that is. Ladies and gentlemen - I'd like to introduce to you to the Meatloaf Burger Steak. Enjoy!!
My meatloaf loving child moved home from college for the summer yesterday so it's time that I break out my favorite meat recipes. This one will definitely be added to the list of summer meals to feed my teenage carnivore.
Personal chefs prepare nutritious, gourmet meals at least three times a day for their family. We create fresh flowers arrangements for the table daily all while wearing a perfectly starched white coat. Do you believe that? I hope not.
My family will be the first to tell you that that isn't even close to the reality of living with a personal chef. I do a whole lot of cooking for people that do not live in my house and more often than not - I serve my own family the leftovers, the test dishes or the mistakes. They're very accustomed to eating meals comprised the food that I over estimated for a catering job.
When I do make something specifically for my own family, it's generally something very simple and classic. In this case - I did my own version of the traditional Sloppy Joe sandwich. (A favorite of my 19 year old.) She was apprehensive about my updated sandwich because she's so fond of the original but I think I was able to win her over with my Sloppy Joe Sub Sandwich.
Sloppy Joe Sub Sandwiches
1 cup ketchup 1 Tablespoon oil
3 Tablespoons cider vinegar 1 pound 85% lean beef
2 Tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon thyme 3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard 4 (6 inch) sub rolls
1 clove minced garlic 8 slices American cheese
3/4 teaspoon chili powder 1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Spoon remaining sauce over meat and close sandwiches.
Sloppy joes are comfort food in my house so here's to a night of wonderfully warm and satisfying food that didn't start out at someone else's dinner.
Like my page on facebook.
Follow me on Instagram