Man, I really want to talk about these political conventions and such…
Sike! Let’s talk about tostada’s and how much I obsess about Mexican food. I just celebrated my 30th birthday (crazy right?!) and when we were planning the party everyone asked me what kind of food I wanted. At first I was thinking it needed to be a huge spread of all sorts of fancy things or this big catered affair. I went to my family and asked them what they thought I should do, they asked me what my favorite food is and without hesitation I screamed “TACOS!!!”. I really, really, really like tacos. Me encanta tacos! I guess everyone loves tacos but I have some pretty interesting stories to support this
love obsession. These are not particularly flattering stories so I will spare you.
The hubs and I take every opportunity to try tacos from all sorts of places claiming to have the best tacos. Since the hubs is from SoCal he feels inclined to compare all tacos to the real deal on the West Coast. As you can imagine, very few come close. He likes the simple street style, not overdressed in toppings, meat, onion, cilantro, lime. We both feel strongly that the best tacos come on corn tortilla’s and those tortillas should be able to handle the weight of the juicy meat wrapped inside without crumbling in your hand.
When I was looking for the best tacos to serve at my party I was fortunate to stumble upon the Yelp page for Edgar’s Tacos. We were already familiar with Edgar and his tacos from our visits to the Strip District. I was literally jumping out of my chair when I saw that they catered. I picked up the phone and immediately booked them for the party. I could not wait!!! I talked about tacos for days (probably weeks) leading up to the party and had firmly decided that the party was taco and tequila themed. Life goal – eat ALL the tacos and drink ALL the tequila. Guys, it was so perfect! I should have taken pictures but I was too interested in eating and general partying, my bad! I did get some pretty delicious cupcakes with pictures of tacos and tequila bottles on them (see below), I thought they were hilarious and delicious.
If you are from Pittsburgh or just visiting make sure you visit Edgar and his amazing tacos. You will not be disappointed!!
You are probably thinking, wow that was a great story but you did not make tacos. Ok, so I didn’t make you tacos but I did make tostadas which are basically flat tacos. The real story to these tostadas is that I had to figure out a way to use the tons of tequila I had leftover (there wasn’t really that much left…) and I figured I could whip up a quick marinade for my chicken and then use the chicken for whatever my heart desired (tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, etc.).
I received these plates as a bday gift from one of my co-workers. I guess she was well aware of my mexican food obsession or she has magical powers. Oh, also, I ate these for breakfast…no judging!
Tequila Lime Chicken (recipe below)
Chopped or Shredded Lettuce
Halved Cherry Tomatoes
Tequila-Lime Sour Cream (recipe below)
Cotija or Parmesan Cheese
3-4 Chicken Breasts
Juice from 1 Lime
1/3 Cup Tequila (reposado)
2 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper
Tequila-Lime Sour Cream
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
1 Tbsp. Tequila
1 Tbsp. Lime Zest
Salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 375. Place all ingredients in a large ziploc bag and marinate for 15-20 minutes.
Place chicken in a glass baking dish and cover with foil.
Bake chicken in the oven for 20-30 minutes until cooked through.
Allow chicken to cool before handling, chop and serve as needed.
Pour canola oil in to a small skillet or frying pan until a 1/2 inch.
Heat oil until it reaches frying temp (350-375).
Carefully place one corn tortilla in the oil and cook until bottom starts to turn golden, flip and cook on the other side until done.
Carefully remove tortilla from the oil, allow most of the oil to drip off in the pan before placing on a plate with a paper towel.
Repeat step with all your tortillas and set aside until ready for use.
Tostadas can be assembled using any variety of ingredients, my list is only a recommendation. Heat beans and corn before using.
Start assembly with black beans. Follow with corn, avocado, chicken, lettuce, sour cream (combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir) and lettuce.
Top with a few tomato slices and cheese.
For added heat, a few sprinkles of your favorite hot sauce.
Summer greetings friends! So far July is living up to its reputation. There have been muggy days and nights, also some amazing days and nights. I am not complaining! The 4th came and went. Hopefully you saw some pretty cool fireworks. We didn’t actually watch the fireworks this year so I need to find me some of those before the summer ends. Guys, guess who is turning 30 in 6 days?! I am actually very excited about it, I am ready to be out of the 20’s. Also, after 25 I basically forgot how old I was every time someone asked me. Whenever someone asks me how old I am now I tell them 30 (I have been telling people that for like the last 3 months haha). Anyway, my next post will probably feature highlights from my birthday celebrations and all sorts of wise things I automatically picked up after turning 30.
Here are things I ate and drank in June. It was a pretty delicious month!
- Giant Pretzel – Biergarten at Hotel Monaco
- Pork Buns – Momofuku DC
- Momofuku Ramen – Momofuku DC
- Lentil Salad with Cauliflower – Bistro Bohem
- Pineapple Wheat Beer – Biergarten at Hotel Monaco
- Brunch Salad – The Vandal
- Tacos – Craftwork Kitchen
- Tako (Octopus) Taco – Tako
Caution: Vegetarians may be offended by the large hunks of meat ahead…
I don’t hide my love for meat so I am not sure why I even chose to warn you. It just seemed like something to do.
Are you enjoying your summer so far? We have had some amazing days in PGH, like, I could stay outside forever kind of days. Every now and then we get a day where it is hot and muggy and then it rains for 40 days and 40 nights (jk, obviously). I am bracing myself for the July heat which will likely come and make it impossible for me to leave my house because I will melt. Yes, melting is possible, don’t bother looking it up…
It has been so busy lately. I usually have some vague idea of how I want to spend the summer and all of the festivals I’ll attend or the junk food I’ll eat. I am now staring the end of June in the face and can’t even remember what it was I thought I was going to do. My goals are now very simple; 1. don’t melt, 2. get to the pool frequently, 3. enjoy sitting in the backyard (preferably with popsicles), and 4. have an epic 30th birthday party! I think these are all very attainable goals. Simple is the way to do it this summer. Aside from the birthday party, I think I am going to plan less and just enjoy more.
Oh, did you hear? The Penguins won the Stanley Cup! If you are not a hockey fan then I suppose this is of no relevance to you. I have to admit that I didn’t always enjoy hockey. I grew up in a football/basketball house primarily. We always enjoyed when the Pens were winning but we weren’t going to games or donning Penguin apparel. As we got older we started to go to games and I began to really appreciate the game. I remember going to my first hockey game and expecting the puck to come flying out and hit me in the face (come to think of it, that is also my fear at baseball games…seems like this is a pattern). Every time a player was pushed in to the glass I would wince. It all seemed so haphazard. Pucks flying around, people flying around, ice…in my mind this was all a recipe for disaster. Once my anxiety lessened (never) I was able to enjoy the game (mostly). I still get nervous whenever the players go flying in to the boards. I also have this irrational fear that someone will skate over someone else’s hand…I said it was irrational! Honestly, I think it is a great sport and I am especially proud of my Penguins. Side Note: It really doesn’t hurt that the players are fairly good looking *hubs rolls his eyes*
So I spent all of that time talking about ice hockey in between pictures of delicious smoked meat. Seems appropriate! Did you just drool looking at the picture above? It’s ok, I won’t tell anyone. Honestly, my mouth is watering just looking at it now. I have many proud moments in the kitchen (and on the grill), but this was by far one of my proudest. I channeled my inner BBQ Pitmaster and fought the urge to open the grill to check on the meat. Low and slow. I did my very own set it and forget it routine. The patience and trust paid off, everyone who enjoyed that pig left satisfied. I was so proud that I almost said right then and there ” I am quitting my job and becoming a professional pitmaster!”… ok, I didn’t really say that but I did give myself a few pats on the back.
If you are worried that making pulled pork is hard or time consuming I am here to tell you that it isn’t! You can make something this beautiful. I promise!!! Here’s how…
Recipe Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
4-5 Lb. Bone-In Pork Butt (also called Boston Butt)
Dry Spice Rub (see below)
Apple Wood Chips
1/4 Cup Paprika
2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
2 Tbsp. Ground Cumin
2 Tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. White Pepper
1 Tbsp. Dry Mustard
1 Tbsp. Ground Ginger
1-2 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
The night before cooking remove your pork butt from the packaging, you may trim some of the fat but I do not recommend it.
Combine all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl or container with a lid. Shake or stir to combine.
Sprinkle a generous amount of rub on the pork, covering the whole thing, pat the pork butt to make sure it is covered. Reserve some of the rub for the next day (as long as it did not touch the pork).
Wrap the pork butt in plastic wrap or foil. Place in a pan and refrigerate overnight.
Remove pork from fridge at least 1 hour before cooking.
While pork comes to room temp, place wood chips in a shallow dish and cover with water. Let wood chips soak for 15 minutes. Drain wood chips and place in a small smoker box. See Note below if you do not have a smoker box.
Prepare grill by placing small aluminum pans under the side that you will cook the pork. The pork will cook on indirect heat (i.e., not over the flame) so you don't have to worry about the pans burning up.
Place smoker box under grates over the burner. Heat grill to 325. Adjust burners so that the grill stays at 325. Wood chips will start smoking, let them smoke for 10-15 minutes before adding meat.
Place pork butt on top of the side where the aluminum pans are placed. Close grill lid and allow pork to smoke for 3 hours - don't open unless necessary.
Monitor the temp to make sure it is staying close to 325. You may want to invest in a quality grill thermometer since many grills have unreliable temp readers.
During the last 20 minutes of cooking preheat oven to 325.
Remove pork butt from grill and place in a baking dish. Wrap entire pork butt in foil and cook in the oven for another 2 hours or until the pork is fork tender.
Once tender remove from the oven and allow to cool so that you can touch the roast with your fingers.
Once cooled, pull pork with fingers or using two forks.
Toss shredded pork in a little bit of the saved rub and top with your favorite sauce.
If you do not have a smoker box you can make a smoker pouch out of aluminum foil. Wrap the chips in the foil and make sure to leave an opening at the top for the smoke to escape.
Oh boy it has been busy! So many things going on and so many things to do. It’s June already. I am counting down to the big 3-0, kind of excited to be out of my 20’s (does that make me crazy?!?). Here are some other things…
- The Penguins won the Stanley Cup
- I need to be swimming right now
- The weather has been amazing and I don’t want to jinx it
- I have the most amazing views from my office and it makes it hard to focus
- I am a new auntie to an adorable little lab – cuteness
- I ate many delicious things in May (see below)
- Start following me on Instagram so you can stay in the loop, duh!
- Shrimp and Grits – Revel + Roost
- Avocado Omelet – Coca Cafe
- Mint Julep – Independent Brewing Company
- Orange Carrot Karma – Jamba Juice
- Black Bean Burger – Bill’s Bar and Burger
- Duck – Casbah
- Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream – Millie’s Homemade
- Flank Steak w/ Chimi – Gaucho Parrilla Argentina
- Chilled Pea Soup – Habitat
There is a part of me that wants to whine about the crazy weather but I am not gonna. I refuse to let Mother Nature torment me to the point where I become one of those people. You heard it right here. I will not let you own me Mother Nature, I will not!
Let’s talk about breakfast for a hot second. I have always been more of the salty savory kind of breakfast person. I enjoy pancakes (aka “panacakes”) and waffles, but nothing beats eggs and [insert breakfast meat here] in my book. I am not even shy about my carnivorous tendencies. Me-Like-Meat!
I come from a brunch family. We were doing brunch before brunch became a thing. Almost every Sunday I would wake up to the smell of my mom making brunch in a cast iron skillet. There was usually some type of hash where she was making use of leftover veggies from dinner the night before. If she was feeling extra festive she would put those veggies in to a frittata, or an egg pizza as we called them. On those days when she channeled her southern roots we were eating grits with scrambled eggs. Bacon was almost always present except when she would cook up our favorite maple sausage.
When mom wasn’t making brunch we had dad behind the grill (stove?). You may have already seen my dad’s contribution to the brunch lineup here. That’s right, chorizo and eggs was all him. I grew up eating chorizo when others had no idea what chorizo was. Now, everyone is all about chorizo. I am not surprised. Chorizo is delicious. Everyone should be eating it. Go out right now and buy all the chorizo. I mean, don’t you want to have these epic sandwiches every morning? Yeah, I thought so!
Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Sandwich
2 Chorizo Sausage Links (Large)
4 Slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
Salt & Pepper
Bagels or Toast (pictured with a plain bagel above)
Remove chorizo from casing and slightly work over with your hands in a small bowl.
Form 4 patties from the chorizo meat.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil to coat pan.
Place chorizo patties in skillet and cook for 5 minutes, flip, continue cooking until done.
In a small skillet fry an egg, season with salt and pepper. Set aside until for use.
Slice avocado, set aside until ready for use.
Assemble sandwich and top with a few dashes of hot sauce.
Cut and get yolk everywhere, this is a crucial step. Eat!
If patties are not fully cooked place in the oven at 325 until done.
Feel free to add other toppings that you like!