Open-Faced Grilled Cheese

I don’t know if it’s being a thirty-year-old, or just the way things fell this year, but I’ve been busy! With the days being short and dark, it’s all I can do after work to cook dinner and watch a few episodes of Great British Baking Show or Grace and Frankie before calling it a night. And our weekends have been booked solid!

Those are just excuses for why I’ve — once again — fallen off the face of the blogging planet for a bit. Are we at a point where I can skip these intros and just pick up as if there haven’t been month-long gaps between posts? Maybe?

Anyway, one of these busy weekends, we visited family down in Naples, FL. It was glorious. The weather was a perfect 80s-and-sunny all weekend, we watched the sunset while walking on the beach every night, mixed some perfectly refreshing cocktails, and responsibly soaked up a little sun.

We also made these super easy and SO decadent grilled cheeses. I can’t take any credit beyond agreeing to every suggestion Charlie’s aunt made, but I’ve since made my own at least three times.

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I also found this recipe for crusty bread in under two hours (!!) so we’re eating pretty well this week. I actually baked the bread after work one night (which is unheard of, because, you know, rise-times). I’ll admit I prefer the depth of flavor (or is it texture?) a good slower-rise brings, but in a pinch, this recipe is great!

Basically, all you do is toast a slice of crusty bread (French is best), slather it with fig jam, cover it in slices of Kerrygold Dubliner cheese (or your cheddar of choice), then broil that bad boy for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

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Best enjoyed with a fork and knife… but you do you, I won’t judge!

Other notes:

  • Once, we added sliced turkey between the jam and cheese, which was delectable
  • I bet apple butter (or thin-sliced granny smith apples), bacon, and cheddar would be super tasty
  • Really, any combination of jam and cheese that sounds good to you should work — let me know what you try!

Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies

Hi guys! We are all settled in to our new apartment in the Navy Yard area of D.C.–and I’m loving it so far! Our neighborhood is nicely walkable (even in this heat!) and really close to other fun neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Eastern Market. Plus, our building has a pool, so I’ve been spending a little time up there, feeling like I’m on a true vacation (rather than technically unemployed).

Brown like Bey
#goals

Rooftop pool aside, I *love* my new kitchen. We’ve got almost double the counter space compared to our St. Louis apartment.

activities
me, every time I walk into the kitchen

I’m excited to start trying a bunch of new recipes and old favorites, but unpacking, applying for jobs, and exploring the new location has left me pooped most nights. The recipe I’m sharing today (based on this one) is a *lifesaver* for those days when you’re just too tired to get creative in the kitchen. All you have to do is chop up some veggies and sausage, toss it all with olive oil and spices, and pop it in the oven for a half hour. Presto, easy peasy, delicious dinner!

Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies

Ingredients:

  • about 8 small potatoes, cut into small cubes (I used small white, red, and purple potatoes)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into squares
  • a handful of green beans (sorry it’s not more scientific, I literally grabbed a hearty handful from the bag)
  • 1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 andouille sausage links, sliced into thick coins
  • 6 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (up to 1/4 tsp if you prefer more heat)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF
  2. Wash and prep the veggies and sausage. Cover baking sheet in foil and spray with cooking oil.
  3. Spread prepped veggies and sausage on the baking sheet in a thin layer.
  4. Whisk the olive oil with the spices, then drizzle over the veggies and sausage. Toss gently to thoroughly coat.
  5. Roast 30 minutes, stirring/tossing once about halfway through.

Notes: We enjoyed them over spiced rice (rice seasoned with a dash of ginger, turmeric, and season salt). This could be just as good on its own, or over a bed of quinoa, barley, or other grain of choice.
You can use any veggies you prefer–asparagus would probably be really good, a little onion, maybe some spinach added immediately after removing to wilt it just a bit.
The original recipe suggested garnishing with Parmesan cheese, which I *so* wish I’d remembered to do–it was amazing without it, but come on, everything is better with cheese!
This also reheated really well the next day–I popped a plate in the microwave for a minute, which was all it needed to warm through. The sausage was a *little* dry, but not inedibly so.

Enjoy! Let me know in the comments if you give this recipe a try 🙂

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I’m Weirdly Proud of my Grown Up Taste Buds

I don’t like butternut squash. Haven’t since I was a kid. I couldn’t even be tempted with the whole toasted-marshmallows-on-top trick that my mom tried to pull when it wasn’t even Thanksgiving just to make her kids eat some damn squash. There have been a (very) few exceptions–most notably, a butternut squash soup my sister-in-law made for Thanksgiving one year (which blew my mind and made me hesitantly approach the …gourd? going forward). I have a pretty decent recipe for maple-roasted squash, and I did try sneaking some into a mac’n’cheese dish once. I’m still not crazy about butternut squash and prefer to avoid it when possible.

Pivot:
The other day, my husband is listing out what he’s just picked up from the grocery store that we could make for dinner: “some more veggie burgers, tofu for that one dish, raviolis, soyrizo that you love…” and I’m thinking about the doctor’s appointment I have after work and how lovely it will be to get home and cook up those tasty ravs so fast.

I get home, and he’s telling me about his day and I’m like “time-out, lets get those raviolis cookin! What kind did you get? Butternut squash?”

PAUSE.

Backstory:
My husband and I play a little game whenever we go to Trader Joe’s and look at their raviolis. He always says “butternut squash ravioli! you love that, right?” and I say some variation of *puke emoji* and tell him I’ll try literally any other ravioli “flavor” just not that one.

RESUME.

Guys, guess wtf kind of ravioli is in my fridge? Butternut-freakin-Squash Ravioli.

My husband’s exact words: “I thought you love butternut squash ravioli?? Whoops! I can’t ever remember whether you love it or hate it.”

To be fair, there are things I can’t remember for MYSELF that he has to remind me of. I do not like blood orange flavoring. Or mango salsa. Or pumpkin anything that isn’t bread or pie (or *maybe* beer–damn’t, that’s one of the things I need him to remember for me, do I love or hate pumpkin beer??). I love the IDEA of these things, which means I always forget I do not enjoy their actual tastes. So he can be forgiven for having a confusing food associated with me. There are a lot of them.

 

Oh yeah, all of that is to say, I tossed those ravs with some butter, oregano, pinch of salt, dash of turmeric, topped with fresh ground pepper and shaved Parmesan cheese and holy moly they were really freakin’ good! I’m adding this to my “I’m an adult now” palette, right alongside the stouts and porters I’ve been enjoying lately out of the blue.

 

Lou Brew Reviews: Alpha Brewing

Do you love sour beers?

If you said yes — perfect! If you said no…that’s fine, too.

Alpha Brewing in the Tower Grove (ish?) area is worth a visit no matter your beer preference. They are known for their sours — the Delphian is amazing, and the Guava Brett will pucker even the most sour-lover’s taste buds — but they’ve got several great IPA, Stout, and Blonde Ale options as well. And some super-fun names. You better believe I tried the Hop, Lock & Drop It, the Troll Wheatwine, and the Fyler Flyer (which gets harder — or easier? — to order the more you have!).

I also really like that they offer a range of pours, so you can create your own flight — and/or just enjoy a *very* small glass of your favorite if you happen to be a lightweight like me. They have your normal-sized pours as well, of course, but I like that I have options, especially if day-drinking.

Alpha also offers live music shows on Thursdays and Saturdays. Their food looked pretty good, though we did not partake — they even have a Vegan night for the non-meat-eaters out there.

Their website claims “It’s not for everyone” but seriously, I think it’s my favorite local brewery. It’s tucked back in a neighborhood near Grand Ave, just out of the way enough to be a hidden gem while close enough to merit an easy trip.

The Best St. Louis Burger – Guest Post

My husband is something of a burger fanatic. He has given me so many unsolicited burger reviews since moving to St. Louis, I convinced him to sit down, order his thoughts, and let me share them with the world (or at least, this blog). So sorry there are no photos of the winning burger (devoured too quickly) or the Chase Club burger…you will just have to Yelp them I suppose!

I’m calling it: gotta give Mac his props, but my favorite St. Louis burger is Brasserie’s. It’s so good, I’m happy just to eat the meat. But the accoutrements are great, too.
~Mr. Burger-Lover

Which burgers are in consideration?
Mac’s Local Eats (Double Pimento Burger)
Brasserie
Dressel’s
Chase Club (Chase Club Burger)
Hi-Pointe (Single with White Cheddar Cheese)

Dressel’s burger

Tell me about Dressel’s; I thought that was the best burger you’d had in at least five years?
Dressel’s burger is very unique. It has an oniony-spice and almost meatloaf consistency — but in a good way. It’s a burger I could have three days a week, because I forget how good it is. It’s light and not greasy, but on the smaller side. The patty itself is pretty thick, so it’s typically very juicy.

(My) Mac’s burger

What about Mac’s; you’ve been going on and on about that one?
That’s my number one quick bite burger. It’s amazing times two. Because it’s a smash burger, it has crisp burnt edges, and you can taste the quality of the meat. You taste the extra time and care that you don’t get at Hi-Pointe (Careful, buddy; I will fight you!). There’s constant turnover there, so they’re already cooking the burgers!. At Mac’s that burger was designed for you from start to finish.

(My) Hi-Pointe’s burger

BUT Hi-Pointe is still the bomb dot com. Go on…
Hi-Pointe has a mean veggie burger. You can see the veggies in it and it comes on that delicious, buttery bun. The regular burger is an extra juicy smash burger, which most people would enjoy but it weirds me out. But most people like that so you don’t need to include that.

TOO LATE! What happened to the Chase Club Burger?
The bacon jam and boursin accoutrement are so good, but I’m over it at this point. I loved the Chase, but now that they’ve raised the price, Brasserie all day erryday

So, Brasserie is the winner?
Brasserie’s key to success is the burger is so thin. It’s almost a French take on Diner food. It’s a super buttery burger, juicy, flavorful, with amazing, melty American cheese. The meat is such good quality, I could enjoy it without everything that comes with it — I don’t even need ketchup.

~

So there you have it: according to my loving husband (his name choice), Brasserie has the best burger in St. Louis. Personally, I freaking love Hi-Pointe (but Mac’s is a really close second place for me).

Do you have a favorite burger? What makes (or breaks) it for you?

Lou Brew Reviews: Schlafly Tap Room

Yesterday I took the VIP tour at Schlafly’s Tap Room — my husband got us tickets through the Beer and Wine Club at his grad school and it includes free tastings so YES PLEASE — and it was awesome.


Firstly, I’ve been to the Tap Room one other time (Stout and Oyster Festival), but I didn’t realize just how big the place is. There is a LOT of seating through several rooms. We got to go behind the windows into the room where the giant vats are (wearing safety goggles, of course), and then down into the basement where the real magic happens.

AJ was a pretty great tour guide. He was informative and clearly very passionate about craft beer. He mentioned a beer class he also gives, which I’d love to check out. Just based on his enthusiasm, I’m going to go ahead and recommend both the tour and the class.

The tasting was really fun. My husband is *obsessed* with Schlafly’s Kentucky Mule, which was one of the options during the tasting, so all his buddies got to sample and see why he isn’t crazy for talking it up so much. I also tried the Scotch Ale, which is ale aged in scotch barrels. It was really smoky, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing (I vaguely remember telling people it tasted like the chicken taco I’d had earlier — still not a bad thing). I also had the Gruit, which was a delicious and refreshing sour (probably my favorite of the tasting), and one other from a bottle with a kind of shiny label whose name I can’t remember. Also, on the tour I had a (plastic) glass of the Pale Ale, which as I’ve said before, makes me so happy that I magically enjoy Pale Ales now.


P.S. My husband bought two bottles of the Kentucky Mule (they come in like wine-bottle size and are also I think 12% ABV?). I’m pretty sure he tried to say one of them was for one of his buddies, but we ended up bringing both home with us so I think he just pulled a fast one on me. I wasn’t in the most observant state of mind by that point.

It was a fun night!

 

Lou Brew Reviews: U.R.B.

While not technically its own brewery, URB is a place of legend around here. It’s Urban Chestnut’s Research Brewery, and for $1, you get to sample 3 unreleased beers and provide feedback on each one. The pours are sizeable for samples, and the questions in the survey help enhance the experience by making you think about the flavors and aromas of each sip. For $5, you can take the survey and follow up the research brews with a full draft pour of any of their beers on tap.

Leaving aside the different–yet delicious–drink options, URB is also known for its pizza. In a city where pizza is hotly debated (St. Louis-style pizza has cracker-thin crust and uses provel cheese in place of mozzarella), we have been searching for the familiar comfort of hand-tossed dough and “normal” cheese.

I fell in love with URB’s pizza. The sauce is a little spicy, and their margherita pizza is a little light on cheese for my taste (nothing a heavy-handed sprinkle of parmesan couldn’t take care of) but this is the closest I’ve found to Two Amy’s pizza in DC (which was the standard my husband and I began judging pizza against before we moved).

We had a spontaneous date night here on a Wednesday night, and it was a little crowded around the research bar when we arrived, but we were easily able to get a table after ordering a whole pizza. By the time we finished dinner and moseyed over to the research bar, it had cleared out a lot and we got seats right at the bar.

I highly recommend URB if you’re looking for a fun twist on the old “grabbing drinks” standby, for an easy date night, or if you’re just craving good pizza. You can’t go wrong at URB!