In the middle of May, we were lucky enough to fly back home for the start of a much needed family staycation. I say staycation because we came back to our home state and families to spend time with them before moving on to our next duty station. While in town we played the local tourist and ate our favorite local grinds. Due to the fact we were without our local favorites for 4 years, I want to share with you all the amazing eateries we have here in case you ever visit. Why would you visit ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI you might ask- because it is home to one of a few VCP locations when you ship you car! So grab a hotel room and read the following places to eat while in town. In no particular order:
Lion’s Choice: It says it right there on the cup! Best thing to eat is their original roast beef sandwich on a wheat bun with cheddar cheese and extra seasoning. I love how their cheese is not just a slice, but like nacho cheese and the seasoning is to die for. I pour it all over everything.
2. Steak n Shake: Num Num Num. Chili 5 way is the only way to go. I also enjoy their frisco burger and shakes!
3. Penn Station: Subway on crack folks. This place is awesomely good.
4. St. Louis Bread Co. aka Panera Bread: Is that, is that really…. a bacon turkey bravo?! You guessed it right! Did you know that only in the St. Louis metropolitan area and a few other cities out side St. Louis is it called the St. Louis Bread Co. Why is it not called Panera bread? For the fact that it orginated in St. Louis (well Kirkwood, Missouri). That’s right all you awesome readers, I come from the home of St. Louis Bread Co. I will blow your mind even more- I worked there for 4 years!
5. Imo’s Pizza: I have a little pet peeve when I order pizza. To many restaurants are confused with the real definition of what Chicago vs New York pizza is. Then when I ask for St. Louis style pizza they are totally and utterly confused. They like to tell me that St. Louis style is Chicago style. Um, no sorry. I worked at Imo’s for two years and I made the pizzas. So here is some education for you all out there in bloggy land. Chicago style is a deep dish, I don’t know and don’t care what New York is and St. Louis style is a thin crust pizza, normally with a sweeter pizza sauce cut into squares; not triangles. Try it just once. The closest we could get on the rock was ordering a thin crust Papa John’s pizza and asking to have it square cut.
So there you go folks; a little run down on some of my favorite places to eat while in town. There are several more, so if you want to know just ask!
In my never ending quest to make my kids get used to eating more than the five food they do, I stumbled upon another extremely easy and parent pleasing meal. All to often I am finding meals that either tailor to a parents or a kids taste pallet but never the same at once.
Kids love sloppy joes for their sloppyness. When else can kids make a mess at meal time and get away with it. But parents (and my non-typical children) hate the mere quality that most kids enjoy about sloppy joes- the mess. Sorry, but I really don’t want to be licking my fingers and have food spread all over my face. I left those years long ago.
So enter a incredibly smart solution. One which I can not take credit for- the sloppy joe pocket. I found the recipe on Pinterest and after the first take we adapted the recipe. I’ll include the original and our version (which we think is better).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make manwich mixture according to directions on can. Flatten each biscuit and lay on baking sheet. Spoon 3 tspb of mixture onto half of flattened biscuit and top with cheese. Then fold the other half of the biscuit to make a pocket. Use a fork to press the edges together. Bake for 14 or until golden brown.
It was good. But we did better.
We used the same ingredients. However, we used American slides cheese (half a slice) instead of the shredded cheddar the original recipe suggested and we used Pillsbury grands buttermilk biscuits instead of the flakey ones. We found the flakey ones made to much bread. We also baked for 6min. Enjoy!
If you haven’t read it enough, my children are super picky eaters. And of course they can all be picky about the same things. One only eats cheese, one only eats pepperoni, and one only eats the cheese pizza after she picks off the pepperoni and it’s it first. The differences could run all the way around the world; twice. But they do share one common similarity between them and Hubs. Diva, Bug and Hubs hate eggs. SB and I love them.
One morning I made myself scrabbled eggs. Added in a bunch of goodies and sat down to eat. Then the vulture attacked. She ate all my eggs, with all my goodies. So I decided to make her some. Finally! Someone has my tastes! So I “slaved” over a hot stove and made her scrabble eggs loaded with goodies. Served them up and she just stared at them. Refused to eat them and broke my fragile little momma heart. Feeling defeated, I gobbled down the second batch. So sad, I know.
The she started crying. Why for young toe-head of mine? You refused the best eggs ever and I was forced to eat them. Sign. They were so good!
So I decided to try an experiment. I made the eggs again. This time the easy way. And the little stinker ate them.
Here’s what I did. Hold on, because it might get confusing
First I cracked an egg into a microwaveable coffee mug (you can use any microwave save dish).
Then I whisked them in the same cup with a fork.
Next, microwave for 45-50 seconds. Each microwave varies. You just don’t want to blow up your egg or serve it raw.
And complete! Lastly, I just dump it into a bowl for the kid and cut it up.
The Superbowl commercials are not the only thing I look forward to on Superbowl Sunday; I love the food! My parents are amazing cooks and the food is one of the main reasons I love going over to their house (besides visiting!). However, now that we have moved away from home and started our own family, we also get to start our on traditions; including hosting parties with some amazing food.
One of the main staples I try to provide party wise, are foods that I know my children will eat. Who wants to be forced to go to a party only to not have food there you can eat or like? I sure don’t and I know my kids wouldn’t appreciate a party in their own home without some of their favorites to munch on. My guess, like in our home, your home has a conglomerate of family members with different taste pallets. We have the “cheese only” person, the “pepperoni only” person, the “everything” person and the “anything” person. It gets very complicated around dinner time when trying to place a pizza order and forget getting a frozen pizza, we would need about 4 to please everyone. Then one fine day, Hubs had an idea. It was a brilliant idea; and idea that please everyone. We only buy cheese pizzas at the store. GASP! I did not like this idea at first. I am the “everything” person, so cheese only was a sin. However, he explained and it was one of those “duhh” moments. I’m sure you have now realized what his brilliant idea was. If you haven’t yet, don’t sweat it; it took me a few minutes to catch on.
His brilliant idea? Buy cheese pizzas then add toppings. <smacks forehead>. Seriously? Its that simple? Yes…yes it is.
We always have pepperoni on hand (Bug’s favorite sandwich for school lunch) and since I love my dirty martinis, we tend to have a jar of Kalamata olives missing some juice in the fridge as well. So this Superbowl Sunday save yourself some stress and buy a few cheese pizzas from the freezer section and some toppings. You can even set up a pizza bar and let every one make their own half of a pizza.
I am obsessed with my dads cooking. He can smoke any meat, fry and fish and sautéed any veggie. He is a jack of all trades. I got some great advice from my stepmom years ago- you will eventually marry someone like your dad. After she told me that I thought about it. She was right. I was about 13 when she have me that wisdom and from there on out I typically found myself attracted to guys like my dad. I even married one and… My dad taught him one way to keep me happy; how to smoke some meat.
I have shared a few recipes on how we cook our fish and a great recipe for run for just about any meat. Here is my husbands famous rib recipe:
Grab some baby back ribs, hickory wood blocks and charcoal. Peel off the fat film liner on the back of the ribs. Next you will cut them into a few sections (quarter them) and line them in a 9×13 tray (we use our lasagna pan). Then rub them down with the homemade rib rub:
Lowys season salt
Generous portion of brown sugar
Mixed ground pepper
And a smidge of garlic pepper
Rub mix on both sides.
Pour 1-2 dark beers (like Amber Bock or Boston Lager), more apple cider vinegar (it will help the meat pick up the seasonings) and orange juice. You want the entire mixture to cover 2/3 up the rib sides. Then you let it marinate until you get the fire started. What ever juices are left over after the ribs are places on you use in the drip pans.
For the fire: (per Hubs)
Start with normal charcoal and get the fire going in the mean time. For the smoke, I use hickory wood blocks from the grocery store and those should be soaking in a mixture of oj and water and a little sugar. Too much sugar will cause the fire to get too hot. Once the fire is going then time to add the ribs.
I utilize the brinkman water smoker so the fire is underneath and the drip pan is right above the fire. I add the ribs and utilize the remaining fluid from the marinade to pour into the drip pan. Then smoke ribs under a heavy cloud of smoke and ideal heat. Usually not too hot. Not sure on the temperature but most smokers will have a dial that will say warm , ideal, and hot. I try to keep the temperature indicator in between the I and the d of ideal with a nice stream of smoke billowing out of the top. If starts to get warm add more charcoal to keep the fire going and a lil less wood or dry wood will get it going quick. If it gets too hot you will probably notice cause the smoke will stop and there will be flames coming up , get this under control quick or you’ll overdone the ribs. Keep it in the ideal range with good smoke for about 4 to 5 hrs.
A big thanks to Hubs for taking a second to share his secrets. I have heard several times that smoking meat is intimidating. I am hoping this will help you all conquer that fear.