Monday, September 26, 2016

Atlanta Welcomes Tervis to Midtown & Giveaway

Photo Credit: Tervis
With 90 consecutive days of 90-degree weather, it is easy to understand the need for insulated cups and mugs. Almost every Atlanta resident carries a water bottle or tumbler to stay hydrated making them as much a fashion accessory as a necessity. This might explain the popularity of Tervis drinkware products which are available in hundreds of styles representing some of America’s favorite brands (Marvel, Harley Davidson, Star Wars) and sports teams (NFL, MLB, NCAA).

Shopping for your perfect Tervis selection will get even easier on Saturday, October 1st when Tervis will open its first company store in the Atlanta-metro area in Midtown. The 1662 sq. ft. space located in Atlantic Station on 19th Street will be filled with a wide assortment of designs from favorite brands like Coca-Cola®, Simply Southern® and Realtree®. There will also be plenty of sports and college designs to select from including the Atlanta Braves™, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and Georgia-Tech. Chad Blankenship, Tervis Head of Stores says “We can’t wait to become an active part of this vibrant community.”

Even more exciting is that during the October 1st Grand Opening, the first 100 customers will receive a free tumbler beginning at 10:00 a.m., as well as 15% off purchases all day! For those of you who are not able to attend the Grand Opening on Friday, Tervis has partnered with us to give you the chance to win an in-stock item of your choice for entering our giveaway!

In addition to the huge assortment of ready-made products, Tervis also has many designs that can be personalized with your name, monogram or phrase making them the perfect addition to your style wardrobe. Customers can also create their own tumblers and water bottles with their exclusive online design shop.

Choose from in-stock backgrounds, stamps and fonts, or upload your own images to create your own individual custom Tervis product. The process is super easy and fun as you can see from the unique tumbler we created to celebrate our blog.

Whether you are looking to show support for your favorite team or have a fun collectible of your last vacation, Tervis, the third generation family-owned-and-operated business, employing more than 900 people and celebrating 70 years of Made-in-the-USA success; has just the product to accentuate your style and keep you well hydrated at the same time.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Creating the Perfect Cheese Board

An afternoon spent sampling a selection of French cheeses at the Cheeses of Europe Pop-up recently held at Lenox Square Mall reminded us of the pure joy that is cheese. We sampled a variety of cheeses including Camembert, Abbaye Ste-Mere, St. Andre triple cream and enjoyed some amazing appetizers with cheese from Dogwood Catering including roasted pears with St. Agur bleu cheese and toasted pecans, grilled peaches with Mimolette and prosciutto, and crostini topped with fig preserves, brie and rosemary. We were inspired to share our favorite tips for crafting an impressive and delicious cheese platter.

Creating the Perfect Cheese Board:
  • Offer three or four different types of cheese including a soft, mild and sharp. If the cheese platter is the centerpiece of the menu, be prepared to offer five or six cheeses. Since variety is the spice of... cheese, consider buying a range of milk types, flavors, and textures:
    1. Fresh cheese that's moist, creamy, and mild including Boursin, Chèvre or Humboldt Fog.
    2. Bloomy-rind cheese that's buttery, mushroomy, and decadent like Camembert, Saint Albray, or Brie.
    3. Semisoft cheese that's pliable, mellow, and earthy such as Comté, Abbaye Ste-Mere or Fontina.
    4. Hard cheeses that are dry, savory and caramelly with a tendency to crumble include Parmigiano-Reggiano, Mimolette, P’Tit Basque
    5. Blue cheese that's dense and pungent like Bleu, Roquefort or Gorgonzola.
  • If you are serving the cheese as an appetizer, plan on 2 to 3 ounces of each cheese per person. For an after-dinner course, plan on 1 to 1½ ounces per person. 
  • Serve cheese at room temperature for ideal flavor. Take cheeses out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes before serving. This brings out those lovely nuances of flavor and aroma.
  • Don't crowd the cheeses on the platter. If you are presenting the cheese in whole blocks or wedges, leave room around each cheese so that it can be cut easily. Also think about letting guests slice their own semi-hard cheese vs pre-slicing it, as cheese slices can dry out around the edges if left to sit for too long. Hard cheeses like parmesan are ok to crumble a bit to show guests how to enjoy it.
  • Separate the strong-flavored or strong smelling cheese from the milder ones on the platter. 
  • Label each type of cheese and offer a separate knife for each. Labeling cheeses is a good idea, especially for your more cautious guests! Reusable cheese markers are handy, as are small cards. China markers or dry erase markers are wonderful on erasable surfaces, and chalk boards are also popular for good reason: they’re cute and customizable.
  • Serve cheese with baguette slices or crackers and choose mild or neutral flavored crackers that will not overwhelm or alter the flavors of the cheeses. Be mindful of guests who may be restricted from eating gluten by offering gluten-free crackers.
  • Don't let the cheese stand alone. Select two or three add-ons with contrasting flavors and textures. Follow the "what grows together, goes together" rule. Serving a Manchego? Add some Marcona almonds and Manzanilla olives. A nice selection of charcuterie always complements a cheese board; a haphazard pile of prosciutto, some slices of salami or a ramekin of rillettes would all be welcome additions. Below are some general guidelines for accessorizing various types of cheeses although toasted nuts, dried fruit and honey complement most cheese selections.
              1. Fresh cheeses are complemented by honey, fresh berries, radishes and slices of prosciutto.
              2. Bloomy-rind cheeses match well with onion marmalade, tomato jam and toasted nuts.
              3. Semisoft cheeses should be paired with mustard, pickles and fig preserves.
              4. Hard cheeses deserve bold condiments like chutneys, balsamic vinegar, salami and dark chocolate.
              5. Blue cheeses pair well with walnuts, crisp apple slices and olives.
  • Be creative when it comes to serving pieces. Use a cutting board, a large ceramic platter, cake stand, a collection of antique plates, a metal or wooden tray, or a piece of marble. A slate tile from your local hardware store along with a piece of chalk make an impressive yet inexpensive hostess gift!
  • The most inviting cheese boards have casually-arranged ingredients on a clean surface. You don’t have to put all the fruit in one corner and all the meats in another corner either. Separate items to fill in the cracks, and to make sure everyone can get a little bit of everything no matter where they’re standing around the board.
  • Most importantly, keep it to your liking and don’t stress. Be as adventurous or as tame as you like and trust your instincts when assembling your board. If you create a selection that you will enjoy, undoubtedly so will your guests!
Photo Credit: Honestly Yum


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Quiche Euphoria

There a few things we like better than a food festival! Whether it is Taste of Atlanta, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience or any other celebration of food, we want in. Having grown up in North Georgia, the closest big city was actually Greenville, South Carolina rather than Atlanta.

While Greenville has 13% of the total population of Atlanta, their food scene is constantly growing and thriving. Similar to the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, Greenville hosts their annual Euphoria Greenville every September to showcase the city’s thriving Culinary and Arts Communities. The 4-day event includes tasting events, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, a food truck rodeo, multi-course dinners and live music concerts.

Euphoria invites some of the South's top food and drink talent hailing from Maryland to Florida to highlight the rich food and beverage traditions of the region. We were very excited to learn that Atlanta’s Chef Billy Allin will be demonstrating his culinary skills at both the Taste of the South and Feast by the Field festival venues. Chef Allin’s philosophy of serving high quality, clean food in a humble setting at his family of restaurants which includes Cakes & Ale, Cakes & Ale Wine Bar & Café, Proof Bakeshop and Bread & Butterfly, have earned him the title of James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southeast for the last 6 years.

This adaptation of Chef Allin’s recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprout and Gruyère Quiche which was featured in Food and Wine magazine in December 2014, is one of our family favorites. This recipe is proof that his dishes at Euphoria Greenville should not be missed.

1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, roasted
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1/3 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups (4 oz.) Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 deep-dish pie crust, blind baked (recipe here)

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the milk with the cream, egg yolks, eggs, salt, white pepper and nutmeg together. Stir in the Brussels sprouts, bacon and scallions into the egg mixture.

Sprinkle the grated cheese in the bottom of the crust and pour the filling on top. Set the pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake the quiche for about 1½ hours, until set. The quiche will be done when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the center does not jiggle. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Cut the quiche into wedges and serve. The quiche can be served warm or cold.

For more information or to buy tickets to Euphoria Greenville which will take place Friday, September 23rd  until Sunday, September 25th visit their website.


Friday, September 16, 2016

What is a Gourmet Baby Anyway?

Lately we have been asked to review several cookbooks which we truly enjoy doing. It exposes us to new cuisines, recipes and most importantly, to new food stories. Recently, we was asked to review a cookbook titled “Growing Up Gourmet” promoting the idea of raising children to be non-picky eaters. While I'm sure that it is a lovely book with wonderfully useful information, I find that I am extremely irked by the title. Please be clear that this is not a review of that cookbook (or any other), but a long coming disquisition.

Teaching children to eat a variety of healthy foods does not make them gourmet. It makes them well-adjusted children who develop healthy diets and eating habits. Over the years, we have known more than a few parents who feed their children chicken nuggets on a nightly basis and making a separate meal for themselves including one mom who regularly carried a cooler bag with turkey hotdogs so that her son would be able to eat when visiting friends.

When, for a short period of time, our son adopted a “brown” diet, wanting only meat, potatoes and plain pasta and going on a hunger strike when we did not comply to his dietary wishes. Worried he was not getting a balanced diet, we discussed this with his pediatrician who said, “No child will willingly starve to death.” Sure enough, he ate “colorful” foods when he was hungry and learned to eat what he was served.

Many doctors and specialists fear that eating the same foods on a continuous basis may lead to a consistent lack of intake of very important vitamins and nutrients. Further there is some evidence suggesting that a monotonous diet can interfere with sleep patterns. Another theory is that more children are developing food allergies because they are not being exposed to common allergens, such as nuts and shellfish, at an early age, if at all.

For most parents, teaching children to eat foods they are preparing for the rest of the family makes economic sense or even an economic necessity. Purchasing those tiny jars of prepared baby food can get extremely expensive and puts a huge dent in a family's grocery budget.

It is so easy to make your own baby food; so easy in fact, that it is hard to believe the amount being charged for a 2-ounce jar of baby food! Most fruits can be mashed or pureed from the raw fruit with little or no preparation or can be easily adapted for kids from the less expensive “adult” packaging. A perfect example of this is applesauce which is quite inexpensive in a large jar and very versatile. 

Our boys always LOVED mashed bananas, mango, and avocado, and yes, avocado is a fruit! As much as you like avocado toast, so will they. Peel and take out the pit of a ripe avocado or mango – they do not need to be cooked! The nice thing about making your own baby food rather than depending on the flavors available in jars is that you can make combinations that your baby likes and naturally sweeten vegetables that might be less appealing with sweeter fruits or vegetables. Simply puree raw and/or steamed vegetables together. Freeze excess amounts in an ice cube tray for serving size portions later on. And, don't be afraid to add a small amount of fresh herbs and spices to the mix (except maybe for chili peppers). A favorite in our house was always carrot-mango. Try some of these combinations with your babies:
  • Mango and Carrots
  • Peachy Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon
  • Avocado and Spring Peas
  • Basil Zucchini
  • Banana, Potato, Coconut
  • Apple Chickpea Hummus with (a pinch of) Curry
  • Cauliflower, Pear, Parmesan
  • Pumpkin, Papaya, Paprika
  • Beets and Rutabaga
There are so many delicious foods in the world. Let your youngsters enjoy them early and often!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

We All Scream For… Yonanas

We scream for ice cream. Whether it’s coffee bacon ice cream or plain vanilla for Bananas Foster, we are all in. Alas, the calorie count on a bowl of the sweet frozen concoction is enough to send one screaming in the other direction. And since we are not fans of frozen yogurt, we tend to skip frozen treats all together. For this very reason, we were very skeptical when we received a Yonanas Classic machine to review. What is a Yonanas you ask? It is a machine for making soft-serve frozen fruit. Yes, fruit. The claim is that you can instantly churn frozen fruits to create a healthy dessert without additional fat, sugar or preservatives.

Following the easy to read instructions, I tossed some ripe bananas (they even give you a guide to determine the perfect ripeness for best results) into the freezer in the morning to use for dessert that evening. As directed, I removed the bananas from the freezer 10 minutes before use. As the machine came fully assembled, I plugged it in when it was time for our after-dinner treat. We put the bananas in the chute pressed down on the plunger and presto-chango – soft serve banana puree. It looked exactly like mashed bananas, but the consistency and temperature perfectly resembled ice cream. Originally concerned that it wouldn’t be sweet enough, we were pleasantly surprised. Yet, we knew it wasn’t ice cream, it was sweet, frozen, creamy and delicious, but not ice cream.

The litmus test would have to include kids. So I sought the opinion of our 7- and 9-year-old neighbors. On a hot Friday afternoon, they were invited for an afterschool treat. With frozen bananas and peaches at the ready, I had hoped to make the treat ahead so they wouldn’t notice the lack of cream in the recipe. Instead they excitedly marched into the kitchen straight from the bus stop leaving no time for surprises. The kids were actually thrilled to try the machine which is incredibly kid-friendly as it turns out. The only hiccup is that they wanted to force the fruit through the machine too quickly and it seemed to over freeze…

Of course the critical assessment was the taste test and these youngsters took their job VERY seriously. We discussed the taste, texture, and temperature. The consensus was that this was a very acceptable frozen treat! They did not miss the omitted cream or yogurt and it was sweet and creamy enough without any added sugar. They scored it an A+ and asked if they could come back the next Friday to do some more testing (the truest endorsement of all!)

When they left, I was left to clean the mess which took less than 5 minutes as the machine is easy to take apart and clean and is even dishwasher safe. It is also easy to reassemble.

Okay, I know what you will say… You can do the same job with a food processor or blender. Ah, but you would be wrong; I tried. The Yonanas machine makes the texture more like ice cream and stays colder longer while the blender version was slimier and did not stay frozen. And the clean-up… Yonanas definitely won that battle.

So the verdict is that if you are a fan of frozen treats, Yonanas is an excellent choice especially if you are lactose-intolerant or maintaining a plant-based diet. I am looking forward to experimenting more fruit combinations (like Piña Colada) and attempting a frozen pumpkin pie for an October book club meeting!

Disclosure: While we received a complimentary Yonanas machine for review purposes, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited. Yonanas machines are available from the company’s website and, as well as Target and Walmart stores.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The Santa Margherita Aperol Spritz

Our first trip to Italy was in 2003 and was the most enlightening experience of our lives. Everything is larger than life, truly and in every way. We tried to patronize restaurants and shops that were popular with locals to get the true Italian vibe. We began to notice that most Italians enjoy a cocktail in the evening before heading to dinner often with a small bowl of olives, nuts or potato chips (yep, potato chips).

Our favorite city for observing this custom was in Santa Margherita Ligure where La Passeggiata (evening promenade) began around 5:00pm with locals and tourists alike nicely attired strolling through the streets stopping for a gelato or aperitivo. We have cherished memories of our boys (then seven- and nine-years-old) being drawn into a local soccer game where the language barrier was irrelevant.

In Italy, the aperitivo (pre-dinner cocktail) of choice is the Aperol Spritz. In the Veneto region alone, around 300,000 of these wine-based Aperol cocktails are sucked down daily, according to Campari, the company that makes Aperol. Like all spritzes which are wine-based cocktails made with a bitter liqueur and a splash of soda. The aperitivo is meant to stimulate the appetite but not weigh down the palate, or get you too smashed.

Everyone has heard the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” but when it comes to an Aperol Spritz, it should be when in Santa Margherita, use Santa Margherita Prosecco for your aperitivo! According to the Campari Company, the official Aperol Spritz recipe calls for 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, a splash of club soda and is usually garnished with an orange slice. It is light on alcohol and refreshing.

3 oz. Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
2 oz. Aperol liqueur
1 oz. club soda
Orange slice for garnish

Fill a large rocks glass with ice. Fill the glass with prosecco, add the Aperol and top with club soda. Stir well and then add the orange slice. Cincin!

Disclosure: While we received a complimentary bottle of Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore for review purposes, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.


Monday, August 8, 2016

SUDIA Teaches Art of Beer & Cheese Pairing

The Southeastern United Dairy Industries Association and Taco Mac recently hosted an exclusive “Brews and Moos” guided Beer and Cheese Pairing event with industry experts and samples of some of the Southeast's tastiest cow-based cheeses paired with Taco Mac’s finest craft beers.

The exclusive VIP tasting was held in the The Chapter Room . The tasting began with an introduction of Sudia hosts and an explanation of the art of beer cheeses with craft beers. Certain qualities of cheese and beer interact with each other in specific, predictable ways. Taking advantage of these interactions ensures that the flavors will balance each other, with one partner not dominating the other.

First, we sampled an Omaha Nada Banana with large spoonfuls of Fresh Burratta from Maplebrook Farm in Vermont. The light-colored beer, which is similar to traditional German-style Weissbier, boasts banana and warm spicy aromas followed by a wonderful taste of banana, vanilla and spices that finishes with a fruity, smooth aftertaste. The fluffy mouthfeel from wheat protein was a surprising complement to the rich creamy burrata made using old world methods by stretching curd into mozzarella and filling it with soft stracciatella comprised of cream and strands of mozzarella.

The Battery Park Triple Cream Brie (topped with a berry compote) from Charleston Cheese, a handcrafted, bloomy rind cheese from a 250-year-old family farm in South Carolina paired with Creature Comforts “Athena” was an extraordinary match. The outside of this brie is coated with flavor-producing Penicillium candidum mold which as it breaks down spreads a creaminess throughout the interior of the cheese, giving it a lemony, earthy, almost dessert like flavor that accompanies Athena’s refreshing, slightly-tart spin on the classic German Berliner Weisse with its citrus notes.

IPA from Sweetwater Brewing with its intense, unfiltered, hoppy character with the Asher Blue from Sweet Grass Dairy provided a nice contrast of flavors. Asher Blue is one of the few naturally-rinded blue cheeses being made in the U.S. Each wheel is pierced 50 times on each side of the wheel to produce its characteristic blue veins. This complex, rich blue with its earthy piquant finish pairs well with the hop bitterness of this IPA.

Creature Comforts Reclaimed Rye, a complex and flavorful Amber Ale, aged on French oak, is a well-rounded brew with a warm, spicy and faintly sweet finish that is an impeccable complement to Sweet Grass Dairy’s Thomasville Tomme topped with Honeycomb from Savannah Bee Company. Thomasville Tomme is an aged, raw, cow's milk cheese handcrafted in the style of a French Pyrenees Tomme. Each wheel is handcrafted and aged for at least 60 days with a natural rind that gives way to a semi-firm golden interior with a rich, and buttery flavor with grassy and tangy finish. When enhanced by the all-natural sweetness of raw honey and paired with “Reclaimed Rye,” the combination creates a dessert course that is bar none.

And, as if this was not enough beer and cheese to salve the soul, VIPs were invited upstairs to Taco Mac to participate in the Brews & Moos public event. As I was already quite satiated, I was planning to pass on the opportunity until I was enticed by the Claire and Ronnie Patton, owners of Wildcat Mountain Cheeses, to sample their creamy, caramelly Gouda paired with Reformation Brewery’s Stark, a robust porter with hints of chocolate from toasted malts; fabulous! I also could not pass up the chance to nibble one of my favorite local cheeses, CalyRoad Creamery’s “Little Epiphany.” The Crottin-style aged cow’s milk cheese paired wonderfully with Red Brick Brewing’s 3 Bagger, a well-balanced, rum barrel-aged, Belgian tripel with its golden hue and complex flavors of fruit,
vanilla and oak flavors.

Thanks to Sudia for hosting this informative and delicious event. SUDIA (Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc.) is a non-profit organization funded by dairy farm families of the Southeast. Working diligently with dairy farmers, retailers, schools, sports teams, health professionals, local organizations, state leaders, the media and the public, they promote knowledge about the dairy industry and dairy foods. Their efforts are centered in the nine Southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

5 Ways to Take Your BBQ from Meh to Epic

While July is National Grilling Month most people will keep firing up those grills all Summer long and we have some tips to take your barbeque to the next level:

1. Marinating is the technique of soaking food, especially meats, in a seasoned liquid before cooking. Like brining, it is commonly used to flavor foods and to tenderize tougher cuts of meat. The liquid used is a 'marinade' is often acidic with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine or an enzymatic such as pineapple or papaya juices. The acidic ingredient softens the food, allowing it to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Along with an acidic liquid, a marinade often contains oils, herbs, spices and vegetables to further flavor the food items. For cutting difficult vegetables like peppers, onions, carrots and celery, we highly recommend using a ceramic knife like the T-fal Zen. We are relative newcomers to ceramic knives, but are wildly impressed with the intensely sharp edge they maintain. Just remember to always keep the knife in a sheath to prevent chips and cracks.

2. The technique of rubbing meat almost always involves the dry heat method of cooking where almost no water based liquid is used in cooking. A spice rub is any mixture of ground spices that is made for the purpose of coating raw food before cooking. The food can be marinated in the spice rub for some time for the flavors to incorporate into the food or it can be cooked immediately after it is coated. The spices are usually coarsely ground. In addition to spices, salt and sugar may be added to the rub, the salt for flavor and the sugar for caramelization. If you wish to have a smoky flavor to your meat, but are using a gas grill, try substituting smoked salts like the ones from SF Salt Co. in place of the salt in your rub.

3. Smoking is the process of flavoring, cooking, or preserving food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering wood. According to Andy Brunning in his book Why Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Smell?, “The compounds produced in the smoke are subject to a wide number of factors, such as the type of wood, the temperature and the amount of oxygen.” He explains that “Some compounds have been specifically highlighted as major contributors to the overall flavor and aroma of the meat. The compounds are generated by pyrolysis, which is the thermal decomposition of the organic compounds that make up the wood in the absence of an adequate supply of oxygen.” Over the years, we have tried many different types of wood for different flavors. Experiment to find your favorite.

4. Flavoring your grilled meats with barbecue sauce is a universal practice. There are thousands of recipes for homemade barbecue sauce. That is likely because everyone has a different preference for saucing their grilled proteins. The best homemade sauces usually start with vegetables that have been cooked to bring out their natural sugars: onions, peppers, and garlic are popular. (Here again, we recommend using the T-fal Zen or other ceramic knife.) Once the veggies are golden brown, it is time to deglaze the pan with broth, beer, wine or our favorite Four Roses Bourbon! If you decide to use a high-alcohol spirit, use extreme caution so as not to flambé your eyebrows.

Below is our recipe for awesome homemade BBQ sauce which we adapted from Chef Kevin Gillepsie’s fabulous cookbook, Pure Pork Awesomeness.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Four Roses Bourbon
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook for 2-3 minutes and add in garlic and cook for another minute more. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer and reduce until thick and light brown, about 15 minutes. You can store unused sauce in the refrigerator for up to a month or freeze for up to 6 months.

For those who like an extra kick to their Q, we sing the praises of Tabanero Hot Sauces. Tabanero is gluten free and low in sodium and has a unique flavor profile from the combination of key lime juice (in place of the vinegar used in other hot sauces), carrots, onions, garlic, red habanero peppers and agave nectar which is used to balance the heat of the habaneros and adds a hint of sweetness. And, while nothing can replace the intensely smoky flavors that come from cooking for hours over wood in a pit, you can replicate the taste by using chipotle or smoked-infused salts. We highly recommend the smoked salts from San Francisco Salt Company which are available in four amazing flavors: Cherry-Smoked, Alderwood-Smoked, Applewood-Smoked and Hickory-Smoked.

 5. To baste or not to baste… Allowing the meat to fully cook before adding sauce brings out its natural flavors and highlights the nuances of the smoke. However, basting meats (especially pork) in the goodness of your favorite concoction helps the meat retains its juiciness, lends a sweet spiciness and contributes to those caramely-crusty burnt ends that are so cravable. So the next question becomes what is the best method of basting: spray bottle, bulb baster, brush, or sauce mop?

While the spray bottle is certainly the easiest and least messy, it has many limitations. Your basting liquid must be thin and smooth to work properly; even ground pepper can clog the nozzle. A baster can be slow and drip excess liquid on the coals and again uses a thinner liquid to work properly. A brush works reasonably well to cover the full surface, but the handles are usually short making them difficult to use on large and very hot grills and they drip sauce everywhere! The same problems arise using mops with the added issue of the cotton catching fire while in use.

Alas, T-Fal to the rescue! They have developed a new barbecue tool that will up your grilling game to new heights. Their new Ingenio 2-in-1 baster and basting brush combines a bulb baster with a silicone BBQ brush which gives pit masters all the advantages of a baster and a brush with the added benefit that you can use a thicker sauce. This new invention even includes a built-in cleaning tool. This is a must-have for barbecue fanatics.


Lastly, as many Southerners already know, Big Red, America’s bestselling red soda, is the perfect complement to BBQ (especially if you add a splash of Four Roses Bourbon – just saying). Big Red is celebrating summer grilling season with 100 Days of BBQ contest which will continue until Labor Day on September 5th. Big Red will reward drinkers with a variety of BBQ-related prizes, including a 3-day trip to visit iconic BBQ joints in Austin, Texas as a grand prize. To participate in the nation-wide campaign, be sure to look for unique codes found under the caps and cardboard wraps of specially marked Big Red, Big Red Zero, Big Blue and Big Red Vanilla Float bottles and packs. Codes can be redeemed at for a chance to instantly win one of over 1,000 instant prizes and enter the “The Ultimate BBQ Tour Experience.”

But wait, to inspire all fans of barbecue and grilling, Big Red is offering a special prize pack of to one lucky We Like to Cook! reader including a Big Red Soda and Koozie, Weber’s New American Barbecue Cookbook and Meat Church's Honey Hog BBQ Rub which is excellent on everything from pulled pork to poultry and vegetables. Enter below for your chance to win!

Disclosure: While we received samples of various products for this post, all opinions herein are honest and unsolicited. 

COPYRIGHT © 2016. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Blogger.