Sunday, July 29, 2012

BBQ Pot Roast Over Cheese Grits

I found this recipe via a post about man-pleasing meals here: As it turns out, I like a lot of food that is apparently meant for men? The original recipe called for a whole bottle of chili sauce, and I had doubts as to whether either of us could actually handle that, so I made a few substitutions so that it would actually please my man. And me. This was a great meal for Sunday night comfort food, and it smelled so amazing cooking all day. I really loved this recipe because it actually cooks for a full workday.

For the roast:
3-4 lb boneless chuck roast
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground pepper
1 20 oz bottle Coke
1 bottle BBQ sauce (I used Jack Daniels)
3 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

For the grits:
1 1/2 quick cooking grits
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheddar

Season the meat with garlic powder, Italian herb seasoning, chili powder, and pepper, and put the meat in the crock pot. Combine the Coke, BBQ sauce, and Worchestershire sauce and pour it over the roast. Cook for 8-9 hours on low. The grits don't take long to cook - probably 10-15 minutes. Boil the chicken broth, and stir in the grits until the lumps break down. Turn the heat to low and let them simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally since grits are sticky. Stir in the cheese until it's melted. While the grits are cooking, shred the meat - it was literally just falling apart because it was so tender. Serve the meat over the grits, and it wouldn't hurt to add something green to this carbalicious meal. Super delicious!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Crock Pot Lasagna

For the past couple weeks, I have been questioning how I will be cooking in Lawton, Oklahoma. Since Luke is here in TAD orders, we could only bring 600 lbs, which means limited space for kitchen essentials. It's probably a good thing that I couldn't bring all that I wanted since our teeny tiny kitchen has no space and certainly no pantry, which means food in the cabinets (this is a big deal breaker for me, but being as we have no choice and all...). Anyway, I did bring along the crock pot since it apparently has limitless possibilities, according to pinterest. I found a recipe for some vegetarian lasagna, but that just wouldn't do, so I added a hearty amount of meat. I had to change a few things around since the commissary here apparently does not carry zucchini (I asked a stock girl to point me in the direction of the zucchini, and she very snottily pointed at the squash and said, "It's right there!") and because all of my spices and such are in my car which will arrive later in August. This was really easy to make and only had about 15 minutes active prep time. It cooks for 2 hours on high or 4 on low.

1 egg
1 16 oz container of part skim ricotta
1/2 bag of spinach
4 portobello mushroom caps, chopped (or broken, if in my case, your knives haven't arrived yet)
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced (I had to used canned zucchini, which worked fine)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 29-oz can diced tomatoes
3 minced cloves garlic
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked (the original recipe called for 15 noodles, but I couldn't fit any more layers in mine)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb ground beef, browned

Combine the egg, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms, and zucchini in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the garlic with both cans of tomatoes with their juice (note: this is what the original recipe said. I did this and thought there was too much liquid in it. I'll probably drain the tomatoes next time). In the crock pot, start with a layer of tomatoes and top this with lasagna noodles, covering as much of the tomato mixture as you can. I had to break the noodles to fit them in my pot. Next, add half of the ricotta mixture evenly and top this with meat and then 1.5 cup mozzarella. Repeat this, ending with tomato mixture on top. I added an extra layer of mozzarella on top for good measure. I cooked mine on high for 2 hours, and it turned out perfectly. It turned out pretty well but obviously doesn't have the same neat texture of lasagna baked in a pan. It tasted just as good though.

Ricotta mixture: one of those foods that probably looks the same going in and coming back up

Geometry isn't my strong point

layer 1

layer 2


definitely not baked lasagna texture, but it tasted just the same. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oklahoma Trail Days 4-5: Oklahoma City

We left Little Rock early on some day that I can't remember because I have completely lost track of what day it is. Arkansas is a really beautiful state; it's very flat and untouched. Before we left AR, we hit up one more BBQ place. Rick's Ribs & BBQ was in a building that definitely used to be a Hardee's but was converted into a sit-down restaurant. Despite the waitress calling me darlin' 3 times and calling Luke hon' several more, we had a really enjoyable experience. I thought it was no comparison to Central in Memphis, but Luke liked it a lot being as he got 2 kinds of meat on his sandwich: pork loin and pulled pork, seen here:

Our next stop was Oklahoma City. We intended to spend the night here after going to the OKC Redhawks game. They are the AAA affiliate of the Astros. This was definitely the best AAA stadium I've seen so far (which is a lot...). The stadium is located in Bricktown, and they've built a really cool plaza outside with statues of lots of the greats.

 We were also really impressed with the ballpark food at this place. Not only was it different than your typical hamburger, hotdog, etc, but it was cheap, even for Minor League. First we tried the Italian cheesesteak, which was a cheesesteak with mozzarella and marinara. AWESOME. 
This photo doesn't really do it justice because the delicious add ons are on the bottom.

We were then bewildered to find a speciality hotdog stand with bizarre things like a hotdog topped with pulled pork or MACARONI AND CHEESE. Turn up your nose in disgust if you may, but the mac and cheese dog was awesome. I like to think of it as a slightly more sophisticated version of a childhood favorite of mac and cheese with cut-up hotdogs. 

As per the usual with Minor League Baseball, we got really cheap, really good seats. We had so much fun at this game (even though the Redhawks lost) that we decided to spend the next day in OKC and come back for another game the next day. 

On Sunday morning (I figured out what day it was!), we found a local church. It was really energetic and responsive, and my first experience of a church such as this. The band had at least 40 people on all kinds of instruments (read: steel drum and blues guitar). There was one point where we were both expecting to hear people speak in tongues at any moment. Despite that, it was rejuvenating to hear the Word. We hit up the outlet mall in OKC on Sunday too, and I have a feeling I'll be making a couple of trips there while we're here. For lunch, we went to Toby Keith's I Love This Bar! It was really cool inside; there were benches made out of truck gates, saddle disco balls, among other things. It just got even better when we discovered that active duty military get a free cheeseburger, fries, and drink at this place! Toby Keith is a wonderful supported of the troops.

After lunch, we got from frozen custard per my dad's recommendation at Freddy's Frozen Custard, and it was perfect for a 100 degree day. We headed back to Bricktown for another Redhawks game. The game was almost empty, so our $4 lawn seats (military discount, holla!) turned into 15th row behind home plate. As we were walking the stadium, Luke volunteered us to participate in a game, Order Up, during the third inning. Basically, the mascot was flipping burgers (bean bags) over his head to me to catch on a tray and then flip over my head to Luke to catch. We were competing against another couple, and we certainly annihilated them, winning 2 XL Redhawks tees. The coolest part was waiting in the visitors dugout, and I got an unclose view of Nick Green, who Braves fans will remember from just a few years ago. More helmet ice cream was also involved in this game, as well. We really loved Oklahoma City, and we'll definitely be coming back here in 2 weekends for more Redhawks games! 

Action shot of my burger flipping' skillz

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Oklahoma Trail Day 3: Little Rock

Our original intention was to drive straight from Memphis to Fort Sill, but seeing Little Rock from the bridge changed our minds. There is a beautiful river-front stage with a walking trail and a river market, so we decided to stop. The real deciding factor was that the Arkansas Travelers had a game at 7, and I'm a sucker for Minor League Baseball. We walked around on the river front and went in some shops in the market. There was surprisingly a lot of culture here, so my schema of Arkansas has definitely been modified. We found a great restaurant called Flying Saucer, and their professions of great beer and brats drew us in and the $3 pints sealed the deal. MiLB never disappoints, and we had a great time at the game. I don't know much about the Texas League, but I was glad to learn that there are teams in Tulsa and OKC, which will make our weekends in OK a lot of fun. Photo highlights of the day:
The helmet had ice cream in it, but let's be honest, that didn't last long enough for a photo.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oklahoma Trail Days 2-3: Memphis

Our trip from Pigeon Forge to Memphis took a lot longer than expected due to some really bad weather and I-40 being shut down for multiple car pile-ups. It took us about 11 hours to make a 7.5 hour trip, but thanks to Navy Knowledge Online, I had the Hunger Games audiobook to keep me occupied while trying to distract myself from my heavy bladder waiting for the interstate to reopen.

Our big plan for Memphis was to sample lots of BBQ and use our expert palates to rate the best. We learned a valuable lesson here: don't trust Yelp. We wasted an hour going to 3 different BBQ places that no longer exist between Nashville and Memphis. We accepted defeat and made our plans for Memphis BBQ. We found a list of highly rated places and decided to test them out for ourselves. First, we went to Tops BBQ, which was rated highest on 2 different lists. We have no idea why. It was good, but nothing impressive. The sauce was vinegar-based, and we were not fans. But this did not stop Luke from eating both a pulled pork and a beef brisket sandwich, shown here:

Our next sample was far superior. Word of mouth definitely proved to be better than any list we found online. Central BBQ was awesome. It opened at 11:00 am, we got there at 11:15, and the line was out the door. The BBQ was more smokey and they had a lot of sauce options - all good. Thanks to Meg and Haley for the suggestion!

Other fun in Memphis included breakfast with friends at Brother Junipers, which was awesome. My Irish appetite loves a good breakfast potato, and they've got it. Afterward, we took a private tour of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (thanks, Lauren!). I felt like I made my Tri Delta trip to Mecca. The hospital was amazing, so fun, and full of smiling faces. We even got to see the Tri Delt wing, but unfortunately did not find the Gamma Xi broom closet. I knew their cure rates were high, but we also learned about the ridiculously high caliber of physicians there. They're cranking out so much research, including new drugs that are killing leukemia, and winning awards all over the place. I was so glad we got to see it on our way! If you get a chance to go, definitely do it. And maybe give them $5. They're completely non-profit and CURING KIDS OF CANCER. And not charging them a dime for it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Oklahoma Trail Day 1: Pigeon Forge

Tuesday afternoon, we started our trek to the great unknown: Lawton, OK. Because these are TAD orders, we are only allotted to move 600 lbs. We loaded our 2 vehicles with.... 1400 lbs. oops. At least some of it is going to live in Georgia. Without looking back (literally, because our rear view mirrors were blocked), we began the first leg of the trip to Pigeon Forge, TN.

We met up with my family to spend a day at Dollywood. Laugh if you may, but Bachelorette fans know this is where true love blossoms. Or not. After riding all of 2 rides, the rains came so we loaded up on Dolly's fudge and headed for the hotel. Also, a plug for Dolly - they gave us a military discount and a full refund for the rain out. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing Settlers of Catan, per the usual family gathering. One of my aunts and some cousins also came to see us off. This was a rough goodbye, exacerbated by tears from 6-56 year olds. I feel really blessed to have a family to shed tears over. We spent the night in P. Forge before taking on the next leg of the trip across Tennessee.