Birthday in Las Vegas!

April 26, 2010 21:49 by Suzy

For my 40th birthday, I celebrated with a great trip to Las Vegas and dinner with friends and family at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. Good choices on my part all around...great people, great location, and great food!

Here is the New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin...soooo good...

Grilled Mahi Mahi...good but nowhere near as tasty as the pork. JD was sweet and shared his with me!

Cornmeal Crusted Chili Relleno...

NY Strip Steak...

Sixteen Spice Crusted Chicken...

...and Ribeye steak.

And for dessert...

Warm Apple Pie with ice cream...

and Churros with chocolate sauce.

All in all, an awesome birthday...I was so thankful to have JD, my parents, my sister and her husband, and our good friends Tim and Mandy join me to celebrate!

O'Malley's Steak Pub

April 26, 2010 21:35 by Suzy

On our last night in Colorado Springs, Rick took us to a local restaurant...Joseph O'Malley's Steak Pub. Not your typical Irish pub...first, they serve steaks.  Second, you grill your steaks yourself. I guess this way, you can't complain about how your steak turned out!

After placing your order, you get a plateful of raw meat...

...then you make your way over to the grill.  There are plenty of seasonings (salt, pepper, Lawry's) and grill tools to use. If the place is busy, you may need to elbow your way up to get some grill space.

Then, just throw your steaks/burgers on the grill and do your stuff. Keep an eye on everything to make sure they don't burn and make sure no one else takes your steak!

While you are waiting, take in the ambiance...JD thought this sign was funny so he took a picture.  Am I the only one who sees the irony in the "Drink Responsibly" note at the bottom?

When they look perfect to you, take them off the grill...

...and enjoy!

Mile High Martini

April 26, 2010 21:08 by Suzy

While visiting friends in Colorado Springs, I was introduced to an awesome martini recipe that is a new favorite for me. The only problem is I need to find these delicious olives back in Maryland so I can make it for myself. This was perfect timing, as the Diva over at Beach Eats had just issued a Thirsty Thursdays Challenge, and the theme for April is gin! Be sure to check Beach Eats after May 6th to see all the other fabulous gin recipes, and celebrate with me if I win the challenge!

This is basically a spicy dirty martini, but I have dubbed it "Mile High Martini" since (1) we were in Colorado Springs when I first tasted it, and (2) I learned very quickly the impact of high altitude on your tolerance for alcohol.  After one and a half of these, I was pretty damn loopy.  Slept really well that night too!

Rick (our friend in Colorado Springs) found these "Italian Olives" somewhere at a crafts/foods fair. They are green olives soaking in oil, whole garlic cloves, and lots of crushed red pepper flakes. He drained out the oil and replaced it with gin, and basically just used the olive "juice" in the drink. I hope I can find these olives back home, or else I'm going to have to make my own concoction!

One final note: Rick made the first drink for me, so by the time I was learning how to make the drink myself, I was already feeling pretty good and my attention span and memory retention were not all there. Therefore, these measurements are an estimate...but they should be close.

Mile High Martini
2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin
1/8 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 oz. "juice" from Italian Olives, as noted above (make sure you get plenty of red pepper flakes in there!)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled martini glass. Enjoy, and repeat if you are able!

Pappy's Smokehouse

April 19, 2010 15:39 by Suzy

While visiting our friends in St. Louis, we had the best BBQ for lunch at Pappy's Smokehouse. What can I say about this place, except YUM.  And Oh My God. And YUM.

This place is very popular...we arrived on Sunday right before noon, and this was the line:

And the wait was totally worth it. Unlike those crazy wait times you get at your local Applebee's or Outback.

Their hours are 11am-8pm Monday thru Saturday, or "until we run out" which apparently happens earlier than 8 most of the time. Luckily, we got there before anything ran out.

Very cool place, with shelves of all kinds of different BBQ sauces along the walls...

and various T-shirts from BBQ places around the country.

As you can see, butt jokes are a common theme.

This guy was waiting for you when you finally got to the register.

JD and I shared the pulled pork platter...

and a half rack of ribs.

There are three sauces to choose from:  Pappy's Original, Sweet Baby Jane, and Holly's Hot Sauce. We had Pappy's Original...perfect balance of tangy and spicy.

The verdict? Fabulous food, really cool atmosphere, and great service. Definitely worth a stop when you are in the area. They do off-site catering, too. Any party would rock with this food. I could eat this stuff all day, every day. I'm drooling right now looking at these photos and I'm bummed that Pappy's is several hundred miles behind us. Wonder if they would FedEx me some?

Feed Me in St. Louis

April 18, 2010 10:40 by Suzy

We made it to our first stop...St. Louis. Our good friends Kelly and Julien were kind enough to let us crash at their house, and feed us as well!  Here was our dinner from last night...

Yummy salad...


Grilled pork chops...marinated in an apple/cinnamon mixture...


Delicious potatoes...boiled then sauteed in butter...


Mushrooms slow-cooked for hours in butter and garlic...


And Toffee Gooey Butter Cake!

All in all, a delicious dinner.  And with a gin and tonic made with Hendrick's gin.  Mmmmmmm...

We're getting barbeque today, so stay tuned for that post!

And We're Off!

April 17, 2010 14:13 by Suzy

We left at 5am this morning, and we are now in the middle of Indiana. Clever JD thought to bring a wireless internet card so I am able to surf and blog at 65 mph!

A few notes from the road...

1. Our driver Tim rarely moves his hands from the 10:00 and 2:00 position
2. Mandy is the best person to take a road trip with...crackers, chips, candy, water, juice, fruit, veggies...she brings everything!
3. I am eternally grateful that I am not wearing jeans while sitting in a car all day!
4. I learned that Julien, one of our first hosts, is a fan of gin like me, so I can look forward to delicious refreshments when we get there
5. We just stopped at what is thought to be the world's largest sneaker. We got a picture of Tim in front of it.

Here is our first meal from the road...White Castle just outside of Columbus.  Greasy, I know, but soooooo good.

More news as events warrant!

Road Trip!

April 13, 2010 13:23 by Suzy

image from here

I am about to embark on a 2-week, 5,000+ mile road trip with JD and two of our very good friends. The original destination and purpose of the trip was Las Vegas, to celebrate my 40th Birthday. Nothing elaborate...just a long on Southwest...there and back. But a few crazy ideas and brainstorming sessions later, it turned into Road Trip 2010!

Since I won't be cooking for these two weeks, I thought it would be fun to instead feature the many culinary delights that we encounter along the way. We're traveling nearly across the entire country, so there will definitely be some good stuff...regional favorites, local hidden gems, roadside diners, you name it!

So...any ideas on where we should stop? Check out our route here...we're driving through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia...I'm sure there are plenty of don't-miss places that we should incorporate into our itinerary. We leave this Saturday, so post your comments soon. I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Dinner on the Grill

April 11, 2010 21:19 by Suzy

Want to get your guy (or kids) to eat their vegetables?  Throw them on the grill!  (the vegetables, not the guys/kids)  Here's how to make the most magical wonderful dinner on the grill...

Take your steaks out of the fridge and let them get to room temperature.

Before we go any further...a few words about steak.  I am a fan of flavor in my steak, so filets are not for me...way too bland.  To my mind, the absolute best cut is the ribeye, especially those that are "bone-in."  Lots of marbling = lots of flavor.  This is the most important thing I learned while living in Texas.  That and the importance of air conditioning.

Get a good hot fire going in your grill.  Shove the coals over to one side so you have a hot zone and a not-so-hot zone.  Now, get started on the veggies...

First, dice up some potatoes.

Next, get a big sheet of heavy-duty foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Dump the potatoes in the middle of the foil, pour a few tablespoons olive oil over the top, sprinkle on some Lawry's Seasoned Salt and toss together with your hands.

Fold up the foil into a sure to seal it up tight so the steam stays in.  Put the packet on the not-so-hot side of the grill.

Cut thick slices of onion.  Cut zucchini squash and yellow squash lengthwise into slices.  Clean up some mushrooms.  Brush all of the veggies with olive oil.

Start cooking the veggies...start with the onions, then the squash, then the mushrooms. 

Remove veggies from the grill as they cook.  Season with Lawry's.

Using tongs, give the packet of potatoes a shake every now and then so they don't burn.  You should hear them bubbling inside the foil.  Depending on how hot your grill is, they should take 20 to 30 minutes.

This is how they should look when they are done.

Once the veggies are all done, get to work on the steak.

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with Lawry's.  Place on the hot side of the grill and sear both sides, 1-2 minutes per side.  Move the steaks to the cooler side, cover the grill, and let cook until your desired degree of doneness. 

I like mine rare to medium-rare, so these steaks (which were about 1" thick) cooked for about 5-6 minutes.  Let them rest for a few minutes before digging in.


Eat your veggies!  And some steak...mmmmmmmm

Ultimate Meatloaf

April 4, 2010 11:22 by Suzy

Another one of JD's favorite comfort makes his day when he knows we're having this for dinner.  I don't know what it is about men and meatloaf, but they sure love it.  This takes a bit of time to make, but it's totally worth it.  Great flavor, perfect texture...this puts any diner's meatloaf to shame.  Cuisine at Home had a great tip to use foil loaf poke holes in them to drain the fat, plus you don't have to wash them!

Ultimate Meatloaf
recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home

For the Meatloaf:
3 slices good quality white bread
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1 cup pureed tomatoes
1/2 cup minced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 pounds ground chuck (80-85% lean)
3/4 pound ground pork

For the Chunky BBQ Topping:
2 strips thick sliced bacon, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare two foil pans by poking 4 holes in each pan (see picture).

Tear bread into pieces and put in large bowl.  Add milk and beaten eggs and stir.  Let sit for 30 minutes, then mash with a fork.

Meanwhile, chop up your veggies. 

Be sure to mince them very don't want big chunks in your meatloaf or else it will fall apart when you slice it.

Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. 

Saute onion, pureed tomatoes, celery and garlic for about 3 minutes. 

Remove from heat and cool.

Add the ground chuck, ground pork, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and the cooled tomato mixture to the bread/milk mixture in the bowl. 

Using 2 forks, mix everything together.  Cuisine at Home says if you use your hands, the meat could get compacted and the meatloaf will be tough.  Plus, you don't get raw meatloaf under your fingernails when you use forks.

Spoon into loaf pans.  Again, don't compact the meat.  (hee hee that sounds dirty)

Sorry.  I can be childish sometimes.

Now make the topping.

Saute bacon in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, green pepper, and garlic.  Saute for 3 minutes.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 3 minutes.

Spread topping evenly over the meatloaves.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Let meatloaves sit for 15 minutes, then cut off the ends of the pans and remove loaves for slicing.