Friday, July 31, 2015

chicken pineapple bacon kebabs with coconut rice

I may have been slacking on posts, but I'm still cooking regularly. These are one of my favorite things I've been making this summer... pieces of chicken and pineapple inter weaved with bacon on a handy dandy skewer. These come together quickly enough for a weeknight meal. I've made them 3 times in the past month. 

Chicken Pineapple Bacon Kebabs
-14 wooden skewers, soaked for 15 minutes or so
-1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 42 bite-size pieces
-1 lb. fresh pineapple cut into 28 bite-size pieces
-14 slices of bacon (thin-sliced)
-3/4 cups brown sugar
-1 Tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 Tablespoons soy sauce

To make the skewers, poke a skewer through one end of the bacon, add a chicken piece, fold the bacon and skewer it to cover the piece of chicken, add a piece of pineapple, followed by another fold of the bacon, another chicken piece, bacon, pineapple, chicken, bacon. Each skewer should have 3 pieces of chicken and 2 pineapple pieces, inter weaved with 1 slice of bacon. The recipe makes 14 skewers.

Combine the brown sugar, chili powder and salt and rub onto the skewers generously. Cover and let sit for at least 20 minutes up to a few hours.When you remove the skewers to the grill, save the resulting liquid and add the soy sauce. Stir this glaze and set aside.

Preheat a grill and cook the skewers until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crispy in most places, about 5 minutes per side. Brush with the glaze as you're cooking. Be careful, due to the bacon fat there will be lots of flare-ups. 
Serve with coconut rice and lime wedges.

Coconut Rice
-1 cup jasmine rice
-1 can light coconut milk
-1/4 cup water

Rinse the rice a couple times and drain. Add the water and coconut milk and cook according rice package directions. Watch carefully, though, because the coconut milk makes the rice more prone to burning. 

post-marination, pre-grilling
The fire got a little too hot there for a minute.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

OverBites: Bek Hee

One of my first priorities when moving to a new area is to find the best pork fried rice. Because I need pork fried rice once a month. You know what I'm talkin' about, ladies. It wasn't until a write-up in the RFT that I gave Bek Hee a chance.  The restaurant came under new ownership, and those owners make really good pork fried rice. And a plethora of it:

The container can barely contain all the PFR goodness!
Listen, readers, I'm not gonna pretend I'm writing about some authentic Chinese food place. This is the greasy, salty, fried-y Americanized Chinese takeout we all know and secretly love. It's just done better than average. Bek Hee does not skimp on flavor, ingredients or serving size. Were you wondering what was taking me so long between OverBites posts? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that 1 order of food at Bek Hee lasts me 4 meals. 
I asked for extra onions. No need to ask for extra pork... look at it all!

When the RFT wrote about Bek Hee, they talked about this white board and it's specials. I was looking forward to trying new specials each visit! Welp, those specials haven't actually changed since the article came out. Ha! No worry, though. It's like they know what we're really there for. PFR. However, the "specials" are delicious. The Singapore Chow Mei Fun is a giant pile of noodles stir-fried with curry, shrimp, pork, vegetables, peanuts and chicken. Again, they do not hold back on the meat and vegetables. This is a flavor bomb, and I'm okay with it's permanent residence on the white board.

Singapore Chow Mei Fun

The roast pork eggrolls are another "special." Stuffed simply with cabbage and their savory pink roasted pork and fried, these thick rolls really hit the (pork) spot.

So, yep, I have a great pork fried rice place. Thank you, Bek Hee, I am home.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

OverBites: Taqueria Durango

A few years ago my debit card got declined on a $3 purchase at QT. When I checked my bank account I saw that I was overdrawn because I was charged $8000 for 6 tacos at my favorite taqueria. After some phone-calls to the bank and visits to the owner it was determined that it was mistake made by the company that handles the credit transactions and everything was fixed. Every time I called the bank, the person helping me would pull up the account and make some kind of exclamation about how crazy it was: "How the heck did that even go through?" "Did you BUY the whole taco restaurant?!" and my favorite: "I hope those were some good tacos!"

Well, they were indeed good tacos. In fact,  I still frequent this taqueria, Taqueria Durango, despite the financial trauma that happened there.  I just pay cash now. 


Located in an unassuming (okay, it's pretty dumpy looking, let's be honest) strip mall along Page Ave., I first discovered Durango when Ian wrote about them on the RFT's blog. I had driven by it twice everyday for years without a thought. For shame!

Taco Lengua. 

I always get tacos. They have a full menu of other Mexican favorites, but the tacos, man. I just can't not get the tacos. They all come served on 2 corn tortillas with cilantro and onions, unless you request otherwise. They have a dozen filling options, from the American palette-safe carnitas, barbacoa, chicken and fish, to tripe, head meat, fried pork skin and one of my favorites, lengua... tongue tacos! If you wince at the sound of tongue taco, do yourself a favor and give it a try. Tongue is one of the most tender cuts of meat on a cow, and Durango's is especially supple and flavorful.

3 Tacos-that's how I usually roll. 

Taco El Pastor. Mmmmm pork

The Tacos El Pastor are another favorite. Pork slow-cooked in a pineapple based sauce. Durango's El Pastor is not as sweet as others I've had. I like that. Between the pineapple and the slow-cooking El Pastor is another meat with great tenderness and satisfying flavor.

My favorite taco... cheese and pepper. 
My most favorite taco at Durango is one that is new-ish to the menu, the pepper and cheese taco. It's just roasted poblano pepper, griddled cheese (I'm guessing chihuahua cheese or something similar?) and crema. Simple but oh so perfect. 

The Ahogada torta. Montrous in the best possible way.
Yet again, I broke outside my comfort zone for the sake of a blog post. I went to Durango and ordered something other than tacos! They have fantastic Tortas (okay, I don't ALWAYS order tacos... I've had several of their tortas). The most impressive of these sandwiches is the Ahogada, the "drowned sandwich." It's a giant torta filled with carnitas and onions, then covered in a savory spicy red sauce. This bad-boy is almost as big as the plate, and if the sauce doesn't make you sweat, the volume of pork definitely will (#meatsweats).  I couldn't finish mine, even though it was delectable. 

That moment when you get the meat sweats halfway through your meal.

Speaking or "large," Taqueria Durango very recently expanded into the space next to it, doubling it's dining room. What are you waiting for?? Go, now (bring cash).

Friday, May 08, 2015

OverBites: Woofie's Hot Dogs!

Here we go! The first restaurant in my OverBites: Eating Overland, MO series. What else would it be but a landmark: Woofie's Hot Dogs!

Woofie's has been around since the 70's, and you're very likely to know of it, or know someone who has fond memories there. The inside is lined with signed photos of celebrities who have woofed down the fanciful stand's all-beef wieners. The bright, kitschy exterior tells you everything you need to know. The weathering but still colorful, homespun interior is bound to entertain you while you wait for your order to come up. Sit at the narrow counter that wraps around the inside, or on the well-used concrete tables outside under the plywood hot dog-adorned awning. Or, drive through and bring your salty meat treasure somewhere to enjoy in private ;)

The classic Woofie Dog
I usually order the Woofie Dog, a take on the classic Chicago dog with bright green relish, onions, tomatoes, pickle and sport peppers. And, mustard, of course... the ketchup at Woofies is for the fries only! (Which are quite good... hot, thin, but not shoe-strings, dusted with seasoned salt, and portioned amply). The bun is always soft and adorned with cruncy little poppy seeds. The Dog itself is an all-beef Vienna dog, the kind that snaps when you bite into it. Perfect.

For this post, I ventured out of my comfort zone so I could tell you about the variety of encased meat creations Woofie's offers. I'm glad I did! I no longer dwell in a Woofie Dog bubble...

Corn Dog - fried to perfection!

The corn dog at Woofies is a good example of what a corndog ought to be. Served up piping hot, the Vienna dog surrounded by a crunchy on the outside, soft-and-moist-on-the-inside cornbread, that is just the right sweetness and has a bit of good cornmeal graininess. Dipped in mustard, this is a treat that will have you dreaming of ferris wheels and cotton candy (Woofie's has neither).

The Coney Dog is a glorious mess
The Coney Dog is smothered in a savory brown beef and bean chili, yellow cheese sauce, onions and (seemingly ever-present) pickles. This is a dog you gotta eat with a spork and knife (provided). Messy and satisfying. I don't normally like this kind of gooey yellow cheese sauce, but beneath the thick chili, wrapping around the dog, it really works.

Grab a cold root beer! It's the Fire Dog!
The Fire Dog has all the same toppings as the Woofie dog, but instead of the Vienna Dog it has a spicy Polish Sausage. I believe they deep-fry this red meat tube. It's got bite, but won't burn your face off. It will, however, rock your face off. Another to add to my regular order rotation (don't tell my doctor!)

Damn Right!
There are plenty more menu items... the Big Herm, The Kathy Dog, tamales, burgers, pastrami sandwich.... but I think I've whet your appetite to go try them for yourself. And let me know when you do... I can be there in 2 minutes!

1919 Woodson (or Woofson :)) Rd
Overland, MO

Friday, May 01, 2015

Introducing: OverBites, Eating Overland, MO

There is a definite correlation between the date I bought my first house and the date I started slacking majorly on this blog. Houses are very time-consuming...who knew? I love my home, but I miss blogging. I think I've come up with a good way to settle into my neighborhood whilst re-entering the land of the active bloggers...

That's right! A series on my favorite places to eat in Overland, MO, an unassuming, centrally-located, quiet little St. Louis suburb. And my new home.

You may be surprised on the quality and diversity of the food in this town... you may have OVER-looked it as a food destination. I look forward to bragging on it. But first? A bit of history.

Overland was first settled in the early 1820's by people traveling westward. Daniel Boone built a cabin here! It was a wagon train stop, hence the wagon imagery in my "OverBites" logo (we'll get to the hot dog in a bit). The original name was "Overland Park," but got shortened in 1919 to avoid confusion with the Kansas town of the same name.

Build-A-Bear Headquarters is located in Overland, as is the manufacturer of concentrate for Dr. Pepper! Cuddles and bubbles!

That's about the gist of it. Sorry, there's not much info out there that I can find, but hopefully I will learn more as I work on this series. As far as the hot dog in the logo, it represents Overland's most famous restaurant, Woofie's, which will be the subject of my first OverBites post. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

culinary cuts blogger event

Nothing re-invigorates my blogging mojo like a sponsored blogger event. When done well, these include my 3 favorite things about having a blog: friends, food and free stuff! Yep, the ol' "F Trifecta." Last night I attended a class/demo/meetup at Kitchen Conservatory hosted by Mann's vegetable company and Serena of A Teaspoon of Curry. They are introducing two new products (in the St. Louis area only, for now) that home cooks might find pretty cool. Culinary Cuts is a line of pre-cut vegetables, never frozen, no preservatives, in recyclable packaging. The first two are Sweet Potato Ribbons and Crinkle-cut butternut squash. 
I know I know, normally I don't fall for such convenience items. Cutting vegetables is one of my favorite activities! These two however, are the kind of cuts that are pretty time-consuming. I've made ribboned veggies before, and usually it involves taking a chunk of thumb off with the mandolin. The crinkle-cuts would require additional kitchen equipment that I just don't have room for. After some discussion, the rest of the bloggers (my buds Kelly, Kimberly, Stef, Stacey, Dee, and some new friends!) and I decided these would be worth possibly losing some culinary street-cred. Here are some of the things the Kitchen Conservatory chefs made with these 2 cuts:

Pizza with butternut squash crinkles, leeks & Gorgonzola.
This was my favorite of the night!
Sweet potato ribbon Alfredo. It tasted much better
than the photo might suggest.
Smartass (but super-talented) photographer Jonathan Pollack kept
telling me to just take photos of his photos instead of
trying to get my lame phone photos. He had a point.

Sweet potato ribbon, chicken and mushroom skewers
(and some other random vegetables leftover from our
cutting lessons)

Sweet potato ribbon gratin. Reminded me of the
parsnip gratin I posted here.
To round out the vegetable-centric evening, we all received a copy of the Vegetarian Flavor Bible. Whoa! This tome is impressive. I've seen the original Flavor Bible, but don't have a copy (must amend that). The author, Karen Page, joined us for a bit via Skype. It was great hearing her and Andrew's story and their passion for flavors and food. I could spend hours in this book, flavor daydreaming. So fun! For those not familiar, it's basically like an atlas for flavors... you look up an ingredient you want to use and it lists all of the ingredients/flavors that go best with it. After the list of singular flavor matches, it also lists "flavor affinities" which are groupings of 3-5 flavors that work beautifully together. It's a damn gold mine of inspiration.

This will live IN my kitchen.
I found my favorite page already!
So, yes, a night of the "F Trifecta" and I am inspired. Get ready, 2015, there is gonna be so much flavor!

Similar posts from the archive:

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

roasted cauliflower and chick peas with lemon and truffle salt

I have been going HAM on the combination of truffle salt and fresh lemon lately. They make any meal taste a little bit fancy and lot bit bright and fresh. Roasted vegetables have been the main target. Here, I roasted cauliflower and chick peas, adding the truffle salt and lemon both before and after cooking. The flavors are both deep and bright. A great winter meal that's vegan (oops!). (Seriously, though, if you're trying to get into a vegan's pants, this dish just might do it. Super sexy.)

Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Peas with Lemon and Truffle Salt 
-1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
-1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
-1 head of garlic, separated and peeled
-about 2 teaspoons truffle salt, divided
-zest and juice from 1 lemon
-2 Tablespoons olive oil 
preheat oven to 450ºF. Toss the cauliflower, chick peas and garlic cloves with the lemon zest, about half of the truffle salt and the olive oil in a large glass baking dish. Roast until starting to brown, then stir and roast until nice and brown, about 30 minutes total. Squeeze the lemon juice on just out of the oven and sprinkle with the rest of the lemon juice. Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, January 26, 2015

fennel & white bean soup with slow-roasted tomatoes

January, you cold beast. There is so much pressure to shake off the rich foods of the holidays and get back into healthy eating patterns. But, it's freezing and dreary and we're still aching for comfort food. We need warmth in our bones. What better for thawing out than soup? This one is a good balance of hearty, with it's smoky broth and deeply sweet tomatoes, with some sunshine-inducing brightness from the fennel and lemon juice. Slurp the chill away!

Fennel & White Bean Soup with Slow-roasted tomatoes-8 Roma tomatoes, halved
-3 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
-2 Fennel bulbs, halved and sliced (use stems in broth, reserve fronds for garnish)
-1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced
-splash of dry white wine
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-8 cups smoky fennel poultry broth (see below) or chicken broth
-2 cans cannelini or butter beans
-lemon and fennel fronds to serve 
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºF. Toss the halved tomatoes in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, with salt to season. Place in a casserole dish, cut-side down, with space in between. Roast for about an hour until soft and starting to brown and get sticky. Let cool a bit then roughly chop and set aside. 
In a 5-quart dutch oven or heavy large saucepan, saute the fennel and onion in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, with salt to taste, until soft and starting to brown. Add the slow-roasted tomatoes and minced garlic and stir and cook another 2-3 minutes. Splash in the white wine to de-glaze, scraping up all the brown sticky goodness from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and let cook at a low simmer for at least 20 minutes, up to 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over the soup, fennel frond garnish and warm, crusty bread. And wine, duh.
Slow-roasted tomatoes are an easy way to make sad winter tomatoes sweet, flavorful and pretty.
Smoky Fennel Poultry Broth-carcass from 1 roasted chicken
-4 smoked turkey tails (or 3 necks)
-stems from 2 bulbs of fennel, roughly chopped
-1 yellow onion, quartered
-2-3 carrots, roughly chopped
-4 garlic cloves, slightly smashed 
Place the chicken and turkey tails in a large stock pot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a low boil, then turn the heat down and add all the vegetables. Let barely simmer for 2-3 hours (the longer the better). Strain out and discard all the solids. Use for soup and store the rest in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for months.

What would you do with this leftover broth? Share your ideas in the comments!

Related posts from the archives:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 - Year of Eggselence

2014 - This blog's 10th anniversary. The Year of The Egg. I had high hopes you guys, I did. It was to be an epic year of blogging and growing as a cook (eggs are they key to a LOT of techniques in the kitchen.) Welp.... I looked back through my posts to pick out the best of and... I only posted 13 times in 2014. Fail? Blogging-wise, I think so. Life-wise, though? 2014 was one of my best years yet. Maybe life got a bit in the way of this blog. I'm kind of sad about that... only kind of. I would not trade this year in for the world. I went to 2 awe-inspiring countries, made my new house more of a home, became an aunt again, met one of my heros, had big satisfying belly laughs with my loved ones. So yeah, blogging kind of took a back seat, but trust me, food and beverage was always a part of it.
Instagram was also always a part of it. Duh. When whining about my lack of posts to "look back on" from 2014 on twitter, several wise tweeps suggested I post about some of the 2014 moments that never made it to the blog. I looked back though my photos, and there was indeed a plethora of bloggable situations that went un-written. So here we go... a look back at some of my favorite 2014 experiences that didn't get properly documented. 

In 2014 I finally started a garden! Some strapping hunks built a couple of 4x6 raised beds for me, which I filled with a parfait of soils and mulch. I planted seedlings in one bed, and the other bed was all straight from seeds. The garden was successful, growing-wise. My tomato plants were gorgeous... unfortunately the squirrels thought so, too. I got to eat about 4. Radishes, on the other hand, from seed, were a delightful surprise. So easy to grow and harvest and SOOO much more delicious than grocery store radishes. Yep, radishes were my favorite thing to grow... so far.

I say so far, because I planted some garlic cloves at the end of October, which will (hopefully) produce home-grown garlic heads come spring 2015. I am super-excited for the garlic, and the scapes which are the stems you have to trim off the sprouting garlic before you harvest it. The best pesto I made in 2014 was from some farmer's market garlic scapes. 

In 2014, I became a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Program. Yup. See?

I got a pin and everything! What a fun process. I'm fortunate that the company I work for encourages food expertise, and offered the class and test fees for free. 8 weeks of classes, 2 books and a 30 minute test, and BOOM. I have another good excuse to drink more beer... continuing education, you guys. Seriously, it was very cool to learn about the history of beer, the brewing process, all the different styles... beer information is endless, and fun to collect.

Logboat Brewing's Collaboration Beer with STL's 4 Hands Brewing

Speaking of beer (mmmmmmmm..... beer), I had lots of good ones in 2014. One particular road trip, to Columbia, MO, was particularly beer-centric. The college town is less than 2 hours away from St. Louis, so It makes for the perfect last-minute weekend getaway. We visited 3 breweries and had some very good eats there. The breweries: Flat Branch, Logboat & Broadway. Logboat is the newest one in town, and they happened to be having a release party on the last day we were there... the beer they were releasing was a collaboration with one of my favorite STL breweries, 4 Hands! That party was where we discovered the Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company... A BISCUIT FOOD TRUCK OMGWTFBBQ. 
Yes, we tried to convince them to follow us back to St. Louis. Lookit this fried green tomato and bacon biscuit. 
Look at it!!
We also ate at Sycamore, a restaurant specializing in fresh, local fare, that I highly recommend. Not something I expected in a college town in the middle of Missouri. I should've known better!
Broadway Brewing flight! 
Flat Branch Flight. Happy 20th birthday, Flat Branch!
Speaking of biscuits (I am on a roll with these segways, aren't I?) B and I completes the Tour de Poulet. I think we were the only ones in the city who were able to complete it, actually... The Tour De Poulet was basically a tour of some of St. Louis' finest fried Chicken. Home Wine Kitchen, Juniper, Cleveland Heath, Three Flags Tavern, Farmhaus, Element and Quincy Street Bistro. We had the month of August to eat fried chicken at all 7 places, which earned us a sticker. Once we had all 7 stickers, we were entitled to some free drinks/desserts for return visits to these places. It wasn't even about the rewards, though, really ( I think I only cashed in 2). These are 7 of the best restaurants in St. Louis, so it was a pleasure to get to try all of their delicious and diverse fried chickens.

Fried Chicken at Three Flags Tavern. One of the best!

Cleveland Heath's Fried Chicken appetizer.  So perfect.

Winners Winners (fried) Chic
ken Dinners

Quincy Street Bistro's Fried chicken... perhaps my favorite

Speaking of Three Flags Tavern... (you hate me by now, don't you?), It is my favorite restaurant of 2014. Okay, I may be slightly Biased because the owners have been dear friends for a long time... I went to Highschool with Cathy. But don't take it from me, pretty much all of the local publications have sung the praises of the food and service at Three Flags. I'm so happy for my friends! And so happy for my taste buds :)
Honored to have designed the logo for this "Best New Restaurant."

Speaking of... I got nothin. I think I mentioned making my new house a home. Here's one of my favorite projects. I painted and "tiled" an old beat up buffet that was sitting in my mom's basement. I used broken plates to mosaic the top of the buffet, and painted the rest a bright sunshiney yellow. I love how it looks in my dining room, and I love the extra storage for platters and booze.


I look forward to doing more home and kitchen improvements in 2015, as well as putting this buffet to use for dinner parties. Which I will need to have lots of to keep up with my reading list from my Christmas haul:

Speaking of books... I gotta get reading! Happy 2015!! Thanks for reading!