eats

Thunderbird Thursday: Labor Day Ribs

Hey friends, Joey here. If you’re looking for something easy to cook up over the long weekend, look no further! Here is the way I like to make ribs and of course I ALWAYS cook them on the Big Green Egg. Before I break it down, the ribs featured on this post are seasoned with Thunderbird Chicken Scratch and dusted with Lane’s Sweet Heat rubs. I know Chicken Scratch might seem strange to season ribs with but it was a great rub for sweet ribs with a zing and kick with the compliments Lane’s Sweet Heat. I am working this combo into my rib rotation ASAP.

Preparation:

  1. Pull the film layer off the non-meaty side of the ribs.
  2. Trim the hard and thick fat off the meaty side of the ribs.
  3. Season the meaty side with your rub(s) of choice and when you think you have enough, add a little more!
  4. Let the ribs rest in the fridge until you are ready to cook. **Be sure to cover them if you are planning on leaving them for more than a few hours.**

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Cooking:

  1. Set your BGE to 250° indirect.
  2. Before you add the plate-setter be sure to add your pecan and apple wood. (Pecan and apple wood are my favorites for ribs.)
  3. After the smoke has lost its bluish tint, place the ribs on the center of the grill and close the dome lid.
  4. Rotate the ribs ¼ turn about every 45 minutes
  5. After about 2.5 hours, lay out two sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other, and place four pads of butter on the foil, drizzle some honey over them, add some rub, and pour a few splashes of beer over everything.
  6. At 3 hours, pull the ribs from the BGE and place them meat side down onto the butter bed and wrap them up.  This might take another piece of foil to fully cover the top.
  7. After the ribs are wrapped, place them on the grill for another hour, meat side down.
  8. Pull the ribs from the grill after an hour and let them rest in a cooler or the counter top for at least an hour before serving.
  9. When you are ready to serve unwrap the rib carefully not to spill an juices so that you can us them to sauce the ribs after plating.
  10. A trick to cutting the ribs evenly is the flip them on the meaty side and follow the bones.
  11. Cut the ribs and ENJOY!

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eats, life

Van Life: Reaction Video

Yesterday we posted about our friends, Courtney and Bryce, who are traveling the United States in their van. They recently posted a video of the meals they eat during a typical day on the road. To celebrate (and lovingly mock) them, we thought it would be fun to replicate their meals in our full-sized kitchen and document our reactions in this 9-minute video. Enjoy! (Because you probably won’t get many more of these.)

We made oatmeal, chickpea salad sandwiches, and peanut butter stir fry! You can find more details about those recipes here, as well as see the full video from Courtney and Bryce, which gives you a better idea of how to make them.

What we learned from making their meals:

  • There are delicious plant-based recipes out there you can make and love to eat. (This may sound blasphemous, but not everything has to be made on the Big Green Egg.)
  • It’s hard to make yourself vulnerable to an audience on camera.
  • Documenting your life on camera is consuming, so it’s important to take moments to just enjoy what you’ve created.
  • We don’t live a cool, van life, so we have the time to make reaction videos to our friends’ lives, apparently.
  • Our friends are adorable and funny, and we love them for putting up with us (and this video).
  • Oatmeal doesn’t fill you up. But peaches on your oatmeal are by far the best fruit to put on your oatmeal. (Tehehehe.)
  • You can make the chickpea salad sandwich your own by swapping out ingredients, as Courtney mentions in their video. Melissa suggests swapping tomatoes for grapes!
  • Make the peanut butter stir fry with just a half bag of rice noodles for more saucy and veggie goodness! Also, dabbing Sriracha or sprinkling some cracked red pepper could add a little spicy kick.
  • Two people can eat on $22/day and have leftovers to spare.
  • We are incredibly proud of our friends, Courtney and Bryce, deeply respect what they have been able to accomplish in the last five months on the road, and look forward to seeing what else is in store for them!

$22/day for 6 meals = $3.68/meal

We went to KROGER to buy all the ingredients to make these meals, and it cost us a whopping $22, and we even had leftovers! We think that’s amazing. Courtney and Bryce get a lot of questions about how they afford to take a trip like this. It’s because they make sacrifices all the time by 1) making everything themselves even when it means the inconveniences of doing dishes at a campsite, and 2) not spending money on going out to eat along their trip. We’re not sure that’s something we could do!

The last thing we want to point out is that their meals are healthy. Yes, they have a lot more carbs than we’re used to, but because they are healthier grains, we burned through them fast – especially on a VERY hot Houston day. Typically, people make excuses for not eating healthy. “It’s too expensive or too hard to cook.” But their videos  prove healthy meals can be affordable and easy (especially if you’re not living in a van).


Dear Courtney and Bryce,

Thanks for being such an inspiration! We are literally telling everyone we know to SUBSCRIBE to your page. We love you!

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eats, extras

Van Life: What Our Friends Eat On The Road

Today’s special extra comes from our DINK friends, Courtney and Bryce Zinckgraf. For those of you who don’t know us, Courtney and Bryce are the reason we’re married and so in love. They paired us to walk down the aisle together at their wedding, and the rest is history. But this post isn’t about us – it’s about them!

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“Hi! We are from Jacksonville, FL. We quit our jobs, bought a 30-year-old van named Hidalgo and fixed it up. Now, we are living full time in the van while we drive around America seeing National Parks and meeting cool people.”

For those of who haven’t seen any of their videos yet, you’re in for a real treat. You can follow their journey HERE (and hit “Subscribe” – you won’t regret it).


But this EXTRA is all about their most recent video, which is what they eat in a typical day. We wanted to share two of their recipes with you, since we’re such foodies! See the full video and the two recipes below:

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 Avocado
  • ½ Medium onion
  • 1 Apple -1 tomato
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
Directions:
  • Empty chickpeas into a large bowl
  • Mash about ½ to ¾ of the chickpeas
  • Add avocado and mash to combine
  • Dice the onion, apple, and tomato
  • Add diced onion, apple and tomato to bowl with chickpeas and avocado
  • Add salt and garlic powder to taste
  • Stir to combine
Other things that are good in chickpea salad sandwich:
  • Mustard
  • Celery
  • Pickles
  • Lots of possibilities!

Peanut Butter Stir Fry

Ingredients:
  • Rice Noodles (check package for serving size and cooking instructions)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 small package of mushrooms
  • 1 head of broccoli Sauce
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic (or however much you want)
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger (or however much you want) –
  • Splash of water to thin it out
Directions
  • Cook rice noodles based on packaging instructions
  • While the noodles are cooking combine all of the sauce ingredients and mix well
  • Dice the onion and pepper
  • Cut up the broccoli
  • Lightly stir fry the onions, pepper, mushrooms and broccoli (or cook to your liking)
  • Combine rice noodles, veggies, and sauce
  • Mix to combine

Viola – there you have it! A special treat from our two friends who are pursuing their dreams and have the most incredible videos and photos to prove it. We hope you enjoyed this EXTRA and continue following Courtney and Bryce on YouTube or Instagram.

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eats

Dijon Salmon and Cashew Slaw

We were feeling like a summertime fish dish, so we came up with these Dijon salmon and cashew coleslaw recipes.


Inspiration Sparkers

But first, we’ll give credit where credit is due. Our recipes are based off of two sources, which we tweaked to fit our preferences. But if you want recipes with more directions and artsy photos, then you may want to check out the original recipes:

Thanks for helping to spark our foodie inspiration!


Dijon Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Place salmon on cedar plank.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl and generously top salmon.
  3. Set the Big Green Egg (BGE) to 400 degrees direct.
  4. Once the BGE is up to temperature, place the cedar plank with the salmon on the grill grate and close the dome and let the fish cook for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Check the internal temperature of the fish and once it hits 140-145 degrees you are ready to pull it off the grill.
  6. Be careful when removing the cedar plank because it will be hot and possibly still have burning embers on the bottom.
  7. Enjoy!

Cashew Slaw

Ingredients

  • 14 oz coleslaw package (Make sure it’s not already dressed.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (We actually used Veganaise!)
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews (You can crush some of the cashews if you would like.)
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Mix everything in a bowl, season to taste, and enjoy!

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eats

Alcoholic Orange Slush

Melissa here. Tomorrow, Joey and I are posting about our recent trip to Tampa, Florida to visit my family! On that trip, we drank what I call, “My Mom’s Famous Slush.” But she’ll be quick to correct you that her friend, Margie, was actually the one to give her the recipe.

Either way, it’s famous to me, because my mom made it every year when we would go to the beach for a week on summer vacation. I was never allowed to drink it, because it was alcoholic. But I’ve finally gotten a taste, and I had to share it with you!


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 9 cups water
  • (1) 12-ounce can frozen orange juice
  • (1) 12-ounce can frozen limeade
  • (1) 12-ounce can frozen lemonade
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 liter bottle of Squirt

Directions:

Boil water. Add sugar, Cool. Add all other ingredients EXCEPT Squirt. Freeze overnight. Remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve “slushy” by breaking into chunks and pouring 3/4 bottle of Squirt over the slush. Mix and serve.


This time around, my mom couldn’t find Squirt, so she added a lemon-lime soda and froze it into the mix. Additionally, I made the ultimate vacation decision to add a “floater” – an extra shot of vodka on top of the served cup of slush. This made for an even boozier frozen treat.


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This is what the slush would look like before adding a floater!

It’s hard to escape the heat of summer, but I promise this orange slush will get you close!

 

eats

Almond Coconut Banana Bread

We know the recipe sounds weird. Why add anything to banana bread but chocolate chips? That’s our typical go-to. But we had sliced almonds and shredded coconut on hand, and it made for an incredibly sweet, rich, and textured banana bread. We’re excited to share it with you!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas mashed
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (split)
  • 1 cup sweet coconut, shredded (split)
  • 2 loaf pans, greased

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep two large loaf pans by greasing.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add eggs, almond milk, and vanilla and stir until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet slowly.
  6. Follow immediately by adding mashed bananas.
  7. Mix just until combined.
  8. Add in 1/2 cup sliced almonds, and 1/2 cup shredded coconut.
  9. Pour into prepared pans.
  10. Sprinkle a layer of sliced almonds on top, and lightly sprinkle some shredded coconut on top. This adds extra texture and makes the bread very photogenic!
  11. Bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
  12. Let cool in pans, remove, serve, and enjoy!

You’ll have to let us know if you end up baking this tasty treat!

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eats

BGE Italian Sausage Pizza

One of our favorite things to make on the Big Green Egg is pizza – or as we like to pronounce it “preet-zah” when we’re being playful. This is probably our third time making pizza on the BGE, and this may be the best one we have made so far.

Let’s start with the dough…


Joey’s Dough Recipe

This was my first time making dough from scratch, and let me tell you, it is worth the effort.

Ingredients (makes two crusts):

  • 4 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast (one packet)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¾ cups warm water

Directions:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together and run through a sifter to ensure there aren’t any lumps.
  2.  Turn your mixer on low and slowly add in the olive oil and then the warm water.  Turn the mixer off once the dough becomes sticky to the touch and all dry ingredients have been mixed-in.
  3. Let the dough rest for 2ish minutes while you coat two medium to large bowl with a light coat of olive oil.  This step is key so you don’t have a sticky mess later and adds a little extra flavor!
  4. Split the dough between the two bowls, cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge to rise until you’re ready to cook. *You can let it rise overnight but  might want to use larger bowls than the ones we used.*

 

Next, let’s talk toppings…


We Called It A “Pesto Italian Sausage Pizza”

On our preet-za, we put:
  • Classico pesto sauce to your liking
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/8 medium red onion, sliced
  • Garlic clove, minced
  • Grilled Italian sausage, sliced

Our pesto sauce came from a jar this time, because it was a busy week. (But we’re impressed with the pesto sauce Classico makes!) In hindsight, we only wished we would have drained the sauce a little bit, because it ended up being a little more oily on the pizza than we would have preferred. Either way, doesn’t Joey look great holding that ZA?

 

Cooking the “Preet-Za”:
  1. After you cook the sausage, set your BGE to 450 degrees indirect while you cut and prepare the toppings. We arrange the plate setter with the legs up and place the grilling grate on the legs to cook on.
  2.  Remove one of your dough crusts from the fridge and dust your rolling surface with flour. We found that it is much easier to roll the dough while it is still cold and if you dust the rolling pin with flour too.
  3. Once you have the dough to the size you want, sprinkle your pizza stone with corn meal and place the dough onto the stone. (Some people use parchment paper instead of corn meal but we prefer the extra texture the corn meal adds.)
  4. Lightly brush your dough with olive oil and add your toppings.
  5. When the BGE is up to temp, place your stone on the grate and close the dome.
  6. Melt some butter, and 15 minutes after putting the preet-za on, brush the crust with the melted butter and let the preet-za cook for about 15-20 more minutes.
  7. It’s up to you how done you want your crust, but we typically let the pizza cook 30-40 minutes.
  8. Cut it up and enjoy! Cheers!!

Here’s what the final product looked like:

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We will definitely make this one again!

eats, life

Book Review: “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon

It’s Melissa again. I recently wrapped up “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon. After reviewing “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn, we chose this as our June book, and we made another great pick! This time, it was my turn to host Book Club, and after reading this quirky story, I was excited to plan a completely Eleanor Oliphant themed evening.

First, let’s start with the review:


4 out 5 stars

“Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon is the unique story of Eleanor Oliphant, a young woman who, after experiencing extreme childhood trauma, struggles to move forward in her life. Eleanor lives by a strict routine, from eating the same meals to scheduling out repetitive days of the week. When Eleanor develops a crush on a local singer, her beloved routine falls to the wayside, and she opens herself up to chaos. Along the way, she finds some friends who will help her pick up the pieces as she tries to uncover the truths of her childhood.

The book is brilliantly written and fun to read, which is why I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Gail Honeymoon does an incredible job of making you feel as uncomfortable as Eleanor acts at many moments throughout the book. Honeymoon also leaves you wanting to know more about what happened to Eleanor. Without giving away too much, Honeymoon also incorporates a twist at the end, which I had wondered about from very early on. Once you read, you’ll have to tell me if you had the same thought too! Overall, I highly recommend this book, and you should BUY IT NOW!


Hitting Close To Home

I wanted to include one side note about how this book hit very close to home for me. From very early on, the book talks about Eleanor’s caseworkers coming to visit her. Because of her extreme childhood trauma, Eleanor was placed in the foster care system. I work for Arms Wide Adoption Services, and we are dedicated to finding forever families for children in foster care. While reading, I found myself wondering,

“Had Eleanor been adopted, would this entire story be different?”

This question made for a great Book Club discussion. Although we decided we’re unsure adoption would have changed Eleanor’s life, we did decide people too often assumed Eleanor was fragile. We think if someone pushed her more about her past, she could have faced her demons earlier on. This may have helped her establish a healthier, more normal (but probably still fairly strict) routine.


Now, More On Book Club

I have mentioned Eleanor’s routine a lot so far! When she found something she liked, she stuck with it forever. Throughout the story, Eleanor would eat the same meal or drink the same beverage every day. That’s why I decided to offer an Eleanor Oliphant themed spread for our Book Club.

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From left to right: Cheese scones, ingredients for vodka colas, Magners Irish Cider, and pasta a la pesto. Cheers to Book Club, and cheers to you, Eleanor Oliphant!

If you’re interested in making these delicious gluten free cheese scones, you can find my recipe here. I also show you how to turn it into a delicious B.L.A.T. sandwich!


If you want to keep up with my Book Club, we are currently reading and set to discuss on Wednesday, August 8, 2018:

“The Pisces: A Novel” by Melissa Broder

eats

Cheese Scones (Gluten Free)

Melissa here. I recently hosted Book Club! The main character of the book, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon, lives life by a strict routine, and often eats and drinks the same things every day. Channeling Eleanor, I decided to create a themed evening. One of Eleanor’s favorite, repeated lunches is a cheese scone from a nearby Mediterranean restaurant. Despite the lack of cheese scone recipes in the American metric system, I converted a couple different UK recipes, and came up with these amazingly dense cheese and herb scones. With one of the Book Club members having to eat gluten free (She has Celiac Disease you guys, don’t judge.), I adjusted the recipe to use gluten free flour and baking powder.

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On left: Cheese scones.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted, softened, cubed
  • 2 teaspoon of dry herbs
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • Variety of additional seasonings to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line baking pan with parchment.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and mustard powder and whisk together in medium bowl.
  3. Add softened and cubed butter to mixture and use hands to combine. Mix until mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add dry herbs to mixture (I used oregano and parsley).
  5. Mix in 1 cup of cheese, reserving the rest to top scones with.
  6. Slowly mix in 3/4 cup of milk (1/4 cup at a time) until mixture becomes doughy. Reserve last 1/4 cup for brushing on top.
  7. Once you have a doughy mix, spread out on counter top. Cut into squares or circles OR spread out into a large 1/3 inch thick circle and cut into pizza-like slices (which is what I did).
  8. Lay on lined baking pan, brush with remaining milk, and top with remaining cheese.
  9. For additional flavor sprinkle with onion flakes, garlic powder, cracked pepper, and more dry herbs. (Or a variety of seasonings of your choosing!)
  10. Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden.
  11. Enjoy!

These were a huge hit at Book Club! Fortunately, there were plenty of leftovers, so Joey and I decided to take these Cheese Scones one step further. We made:

Cheese Scone B.L.A.T. Sandwiches

B.L.A.T. = Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato

The picture below speaks for itself, and our tummies were quite happy! Especially since instead of using mayo, we used Thunderbird Whitebird Sauce from Wassi’s Meat Market, which you can and should put on everything. To make these delicious sandwiches, all you have to do is slice the scone in half, fry a little on the cast iron, and top with all the delicious B.L.A.T. ingredients. IT WAS SO GOOD!

img_3463So next time you want to impress your Book Club who has just finished reading “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon or want an excuse to make a delicious Cheese Scone B.L.AT., look no further than right here.

eats

Blue Apron Review: Seared Steaks & Miso Butter

Every once in a blue moon, we splurge and purchase an “ingredient-and-recipe meal kit.” Most of the time, the splurge stems from a busy week, and we appreciate having everything laid out for us. Alternatively, sometimes Melissa forgets to hit “Skip” for the week, and we’re pleasantly surprised by one at our front door. This is what happened this past week. (Oops!) Either way, Andrea, Melissa’s sister, introduced us to the idea, and we’ve enjoying trying many different ones.

This week, we served up Blue Apron’s Seared Steaks & Mission Butter with Marinated Bok Choy, and it didn’t disappoint. We both think it’s a definite “do again,” and would give the recipe 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Here’s what you need to know, and what minor changes we made to the recipe to make it more “us.”


Here are the ingredients they send you:

  • 2 Steaks
  • 1 cup Sushi Rice
  • 10 oz Baby Bok Choy
  • 2 Tbsps Soy Glaze
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin
  • 2 Tbsps Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Sweet White Miso Paste
  • 1 tsp Furikake
  • 4 tsps Yuzu Juice

We supplemented:

  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Red Onion, chopped

Our Instructions:

Miso Butter
  • Place butter and Miso Paste in small bowl and set aside to bring to room temperature.
  • Once at room temperature, stir to thoroughly combine.
  • Your Miso Butter is complete!
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Butter and Miso Paste before combining.
Bok Choy Marinade
  • Cut off an discard the root end of the Bok Choy, thinly slice.
  • (Added step by us: Chop approximately 1/4 cup on red onions.)
  • Combine sliced Red Onions, Bok Choy, Furikake, Yuzu Juice, 1/2 Tbsp Mirin, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to marinate, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Your Bok Choy salad is complete!
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Our Bok Choy marinating with added Red Onions.
Sushi Rice
  • Thoroughly rinse the rice. (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!)
  • Combine rinsed rice, large pinch of salt, and 1 1/4 cups of water, and heat to boiling on high.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low.
  • Cover and cook without stirring for 15 minutes.
  • Once water is absorbed and rice is tender, turn off heat and fluff with fork.
  • Stir in half the mirin.
  • Your Sushi Rice is complete!
Steak
  • We decided to celebrate our recent Reverse Sear blog (by Bar-B-Chu), by reverse searing our steak.
  • Rinse the steak and pat dry with a paper towel in preparation to season with your favorite steak rub.  We choose Wassi’s Classic Steak for this recipe.
  • While the rub and the steak become friends, heat your grill to 250 degrees indirect (we did this on the Big Green Egg).
  • Once the grill is up to temperature place your steak(s) on the grate and let them bake for 35-45 minutes depending on what internal temperature you want.
  • When you are about 5-10 degrees away from your desired internal temp, remove the steak(s) and set your grill for 400-450 degrees direct heat.
  • Place you cast iron on the grate and add butter, bacon grease, or your favorite searing fat.
  • Add the steak(s) to the cast iron and cook for 30ish seconds on each side until crispy.
  • Once crispy, remove the steak(s) and let them rest for 5ish minutes
  • Cut into strips, plate, and ENJOY!
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Our bacon grease reserve for the reverse sear!
Plating
  • Pile rice and top with steak. Drizzle Soy Glaze. Top with Miso Butter. Add Boy Choy salad as a side.

Final Product: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

This meal was on point. We were starving, so the sticky, starchy rice was amazing and filling. The soy glaze added the perfect sweetness to the salty. The Miso Butter added the perfect combo of flavors. 5 out of 5 on that side of the plate.

The Bok Choy salad was a little bland, which is why Blue Apron lost .5 point overall. Because of its blandness, we ended up adding the touch of red onions. It balanced out the flavor, and made the side a little more refreshing. We were really glad to have some on hand.

Overall, this was definitely a great recipe! We’re glad Melissa forgot to hit “Skip” this week.

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Voila! Thanks, Blue Apron!