Friday, June 29, 2018

#CookoutWeek 2018: Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue - Grilled Asparagus (Sponsored Post)

Another #CookoutWeek sponsor with a product that's super useful for everyday cooking is Barlean's!  They provided us with butter-flavored coconut oil, which is great, because I love cooking with coconut oil and with a 1:1 ratio of this oil with whatever other butter or oil you'd be using, it's easy to use as well!

Even though I just grilled with it, you can also bake with it, saute with it, pop popcorn with it, or just use it for regular cooking.  It's vegan, organic, non-GMO, and tastes like butter, so it's a super substitute.

When I saw these giant asparagus stalks at the local grocery store, I knew immediately I'd need to try grilling them...and they turned out amazingly!  I used Penzy's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle on these, which I highly recommend, but you could also use that Parmesan cheese out of the green can if you wanted.

Grilled Asparagus
Makes 2 pounds


2 lbs. thick asparagus
2 Tbsp. Penzy's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle (or Parmesan cheese) 

Melt the coconut oil and cut off the tough asparagus ends.

Put the asparagus in a shallow bowl and coat with the coconut oil.

Grill the asparagus over direct medium heat for 6-8 minutes, turning, until browned.  Drizzle a little more of the oil over the top and sprinkle with Cheese Sprinkle before serving.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

#CookoutWeek 2018: Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue - BBQ Popcorn (Sponsored Post)

This post is sponsored by Chef Shamy

So you're having a cookout, you've served your guests their Strawberry-Rose Agua Frescas, you've fired up the grill to cook some steaks or hot dogs or burgers or whatever...but your guests came hungry, so you'd better have some snacks set out to tide everyone over while you show off your mad grilling skills.

That's where this BBQ popcorn (made with Chef Shamy butter) comes in.

I will tell you that never before in my life have I eaten a spoonful of butter, but I can no longer say that.  Even if I hadn't received 2 tubs of this butter from Chef Shamy to use during #CookoutWeek, I would still be telling you about that time I ate a spoonful of butter.

It was AMAZING on this popcorn.

A little about Chef Shamy: 
  • Their butters are 100% butter with no weird added stuff, which means there are also no added oils
  • These butters are clean label
  • They're good for up to 2 years frozen, 1 year unopened in the fridge, and up to 6 months after being opened and refrigerated.  (Just make sure your utensils are clean!)

This butter really made my popcorn...POP. (Sorry...) I used specific brand ingredients for this recipe, and I recommend getting the specific brands I used.  (The only brand sponsoring this post is Chef Shamy; I just think the other ingredients made this stuff amazing!)

BBQ Popcorn
Makes about 8 servings, or 10 cups


1/2 cup popcorn kernels (or 1 3-oz. bag of microwave popcorn)
2 1/2 Tbsp. Penzy's 33rd and Galena seasoning (or other BBQ rub seasoning.  But use this one.)
1 Tbsp. Lousiana-style hot sauce
2 cups honey roasted peanuts

If you're using microwave popcorn, pop according to package directions.  If you're using an air popper, pop according to manufacturer's directions.  If you're popping your popcorn on the stove, you can figure that out your own self, because that scares the crap out of me.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the BBQ seasoning and hot sauce and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the seasoning has melted into the butter.  (This is very important.  Otherwise, you get weird, chunky coating.  Trust.)

Put the warm popcorn in a large bowl, pour the seasoned butter on top, and toss to coat.  Add the peanuts, but don't stir them in too much, or they'll sink to the bottom.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Magazine Monday #26: Strawberry-Rose Agua Fresca & Welcome to #CookoutWeek!

Happy Magazine Monday and kickoff of #CookoutWeek! During this week, I am joining over 50 of my blogger friends to celebrate summer by posting delicious cookout-themed recipes. If you love grilling, frozen treats, picnics, berries, s'mores, campfire meals, and other summer goodies... you are in the right place! This week, we are also hosting a HUGE giveaway thanks to our generous #CookoutWeek sponsors. Enter below to win.

Here's what one lucky will receive:

  • Char-Broil Classic 280 2-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill from blog hosts The PinterTest Kitchen. This grill has 280 square inches of cooking space over porcelain-coated grates and two 12-inch side shelves for extra prep space.

  • A Red KitchenAid Mixer and 5 Flavored Butters from our friends at Chef Shamy. Make the World a Butter Place® with Chef Shamy! The winner will receive Garlic Butter, Cinnamon Brown Sugar Honey Butter, Vanilla Bean Honey Butter, Strawberry Honey Butter, and French Onion Butter with Asiago Cheese to use in your favorite cookout recipes. And if you just can't wait, use 10BUTTER10 starting today to get 10% off your Chef Shamy butter order on Amazon. These butters contain no oil, and the savory butters are perfect for keto recipes.

  • A Duck Product Pack from our friends at Maple Leaf Farms consisting of 2 packages All-Natural Boneless Duck Breasts (7.5 oz), 2 packages Fully Cooked Roast Half Ducks w/Orange Sauce (14 oz), 1 package Duck Bacon (12 oz), and 1 package All Natural Duck Legs (16 oz). Maple Leaf Farms is celebrating its 60th anniversary raising White Pekin ducks on local, family-owned farms.

  • Butter-flavored Organic Coconut Oil from our friends at Barlean's. This dairy-free option offers all the healthy benefits of organic coconut oil, with the rich taste of butter. It's great on toast, popcorn, baked potatoes, or cooked vegetables. You can also substitute it 1:1 for butter in baking, cooking, and frying, and of course it is perfect as a butter substitute for all your favorite cookout recipes.

  • 24 Cartons of Vinegar Shots from our friends at Vermont Village. You'll receive 12 cartons of turmeric flavor and 12 cartons of cranberry flavor. Each carton contains 12 individual, 1 fluid ounce vinegar shot pouches! This raw, organic apple cider vinegar has rich flavors from whole foods and is sweetened naturally with honey.

  • That's a prize pack worth over $750! To enter, follow our sponsors and bloggers on social media by entering your information below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Here's a full list of the bloggers participating in #CookoutWeek 2018! You can find yummy recipes by checking out any of the links below: The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin MamasA Day in the Life on the FarmA Kitchen Hoor's AdventuresApril GoLightlyAuthentically CandaceBlogghettiBody RebootedBottom Left of the MittenCheese Curd In ParadiseChef Sarah ElizabethCoconut & LimeCookaholic WifeCookwithRenuDaily Dish RecipesEveryday EileenFairyburger ♥ Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered AccompliceFamily Around the TableFix Me a Little LunchFor the Love of FoodFrankly EntertainingFrugal & FitGet the Good Stuff!Hardly A GoddessHerbivore CucinaJoin Us, Pull up a ChairJolene's Recipe JournalJonesin' For TasteKaren's Kitchen StoriesKelly Lynn’s Sweets & TreatsMildly MeanderingMoore or Less CookingOur Good LifeOven Tales By SyamaPalatable PastimeSarah Cooks the BooksSavory MomentsSeduction In The KitchenStrawberry Blondie KitchenSweet CoraliceTampa Cake GirlTechnotiniThat RecipeThe Baking FairyThe Beard and The BakerThe Freshman CookThe Simple SupperThe Spiffy CookieThe Weekday GourmetThis is How I CookWho Needs A Cape?Wildflour's Cottage Kitchen

    So, listen.  I know that last week, I noted my propensity toward using drinks on my Magazine Monday posts because they tend to be easy to make last-minute.  This is not that.  When I got the June/July issue of Bon Appetit, I knew that #CookoutWeek would follow not too soon after, and I wanted to get a recipe from that issue.

    It just so happens that I'm starting the week with a refreshing drink you can make for your next cookout to celebrate the wonder that is strawberries in the summer.

    At least this one doesn't have booze in it?

    (Although, it would be really good with a shot of rum in it, probably, if your cookout guests are looking for some adult libations...)

    Also, since the point of Sarah Cooks the Books is that I'm cooking from books, I thought that #CookoutWeek 2018 would be an excellent time to bust out Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue, a book that, honestly, I never saw myself using, as I'm not a huge barbecuer.  But here we are.  I guess stranger things have happened.

    Point being, you'll be seeing recipes from ol' Al this week.  Enjoy!

    Strawberry-Rose Agua Fresca
    Makes 4
    From Bon Appetit Magazine, June/July 2018

    1 lb. strawberries, hulled
    1/4 cup mint leaves
    2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
    2 Tbsp. light agave nectar
    1 tsp. rose water (optional)
    2 cups cold water
    Club soda
    Mint sprigs, lime wheels, and whole strawberries for garnish

    Puree strawberries, mint, lime juice, agave, rose water, and plain water together in a blender.  Transfer the puree to an airtight container and chill for about an hour.

    Skim any foam off the surface of the mixture and add ice to four 12-oz. glasses.  Fill the glasses about 3/4 of the way with the strawberry mixture, top off with club soda, and garnish with mint, strawberries, and lime wheels.

    Monday, June 18, 2018

    Magazine Monday #25: Sweet Basil-Orange Mojito

    I feel like I need to clarify something here.

    I don't generally sit around in my day-to-day life and make fancy drinks.  (Or gross drinks.)  My blogging habits and my drinking habits don't so much match up.

    What usually happens is that I remember on Saturday or Sunday that I need to have a Magazine Monday post ready for the following Monday, and I pull out my binder of magazine recipes, and then I get sidetracked, and then I remember later I still haven't made anything, and then I go to the drinks section of the binder because drinks are easy, and I tend to have everything I need, except maybe the specific booze, which I can just walk up to the store and get.

    When I first started Magazine Monday, I had a plan; I had a calendar that lists which National Specific Food Day corresponds with which Monday, and I would try to find specific magazine recipes to go with each specific day.

    That worked for a few weeks.  I worked ahead, was super proud of myself, got a little cocky...

    But now here we are.  With many recipes for drinks which makes it look like I'm way fancier than drinking Trader Joe's canned cabernet or rosé.

    Food blogging is hard, y'all. I don't know how some people churn out new posts every day with tons of social media stuff to go along with it.

    Regardless, this is a nice summery drink, and could probably be made in a pitcher or something if you're having a gathering.  Cheers!

    (Oh, and, if you wondered, I made this drink on Saturday and am writing this post on Sunday, so I'm ahead of the game and should have a celebratory glass of rosé!)

    Sweet Basil-Orange Mojito
    Makes 1
    From Better Homes & Gardens, June 2012


    Handful of basil leaves
    1 orange, cut into fat wedges
    2 tsp. sugar
    1 shot rum
    Club soda

    Add the basil to the bottom of a tall glass.  Place 1 orange wedge in the glass, and top with the sugar.  Smush these ingredients with the handle of a wooden spoon (or muddler).

    Top with ice, add the rum, and fill the rest of the glass with club soda.

    Monday, June 11, 2018

    Magazine Monday #24: Sticky Honey-Pineapple Custards

    Third time's the charm, I guess!

    After two disastrous Magazine Mondays in a row, I finally hit a home run with this one.  This recipe had to be tweaked a little, but I thought it was great, and both Dennis and my work wife, Tracy, thought it was good.  Hooray!

    There's a lot of sadness and weirdness in the world right now, so why not give yourself a minute to enjoy a rich, fairly easy dessert?

    Sticky Honey-Pineapple Custards
    Makes 4 custards


    1 3/4 cups half-and-half
    5 egg yolks, beaten
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. honey
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 can pineapple rings (or you can use fresh pineapple.  I just didn't have the patience.)
    Kosher or sea salt (optional)

    Preheat oven to 325°F and heat a small pot of water to boiling.

    In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half over medium heat until bubbly.  Remove from heat and set aside.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, 1 Tbsp. honey, and vanilla until just combined.  Whisk in the hot half-and-half.

    Place 4 ramekins (mine are 4 oz.) in a roasting pan.  Pour the custard in the ramekins.  Place the pan on the oven rack and pour the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins.

    Here's the part where the recipe & I differ.  It says that if you're using shallow dishes, you should bake for 20-25 minutes, and if you're using deep dishes, it should be from 35 to 40 minutes.  However, my shallow dishes took a total of 55 minutes.  So start out with 25 minutes, and check them every 10 minutes thereafter if they need more time

    You'll know they're finished when you insert a knife near the center, and it comes out clean, while the center jiggles slightly.

    Remove the dishes from the water and place on a cooling rack, then cover and chill for 1 to 8 hours.

    Before serving, in a large skillet, heat the remaining honey and the pineapple slices.  Bring the honey to a low boil over medium heat and boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes until the honey has thickened and darkened and the pineapple is tender.

    Place a pineapple ring on each custard, drizzle with pineapple-infused honey, and sprinkle with salt if you want it.

    Monday, June 4, 2018

    Magazine Monday #23: Citrus-Glazed Bacon

    Sometimes, in the world of food blogging, especially when you don't create your own recipes, and when your first shot is the only shot, things just go horribly, horribly wrong.

    This one was one of those days.

    I found this recipe for Orange-Glazed Bacon in a Rachael Ray magazine.  I hadn't picked a Magazine Monday recipe, and this one seemed simple enough, plus, the only thing I was missing was the main ingredient: bacon.

    I also decided to get a little innovative and make not only bacon glazed with orange marmalade but also bacon glazed with lemon curd.  I'd never tried lemon curd before, but when I tasted the jar I had in the cabinet, I loved it, and decided that if orange was good enough for bacon, so was lemon.  For my first batch with the orange marmalade, I also decided to use brown sugar instead of the called-for white sugar, since I was pretty sure brown sugar was used to make candied bacon,


    I followed the directions in the magazine to a T (minus the fact that I'd subbed brown sugar for white sugar).  It came out looking like this.

    Not great.

    Despite its horrific appearance, Dennis picked up a piece (the second from the bottom on the left, to be specific) and took a bite.

    I have literally never seen him react to eating anything the way he reacted to that bacon.  At first, he didn't think it was terrible.  Then, about 10 seconds in, he turned to the sink, spit it out, and spent the next few minutes gagging and rinsing his mouth out.

    He had some stuff to say about it.  I won't repeat it. He says I've put him off bacon forever.  I'm ever-so-slightly sorry about how hard I laughed for 20 minutes after the fact. (I did try it myself.  Although I didn't have the same reaction he did, it was most decidedly not good.)

    Later, I asked for an official statement.

    Dennis: "You said you couldn't repeat most of the stuff I said."
    Me:  "I just said I wouldn't use the F-bombs."
    Dennis: "Well, that's what I had to say about it.  I don't want people thinking I'm being negative about something you made."
    Me: "If it was bad it was bad!" 
    Dennis:  "OK. Say it was like rancid zombie flesh, cremated.  Burned to a crisp."

    So there you go.  Rancid, Cremated Zombie Flesh Bacon, burned to a crisp.  This is week 2 that Magazine Monday went badly. (Although, to be fair, I determined that last week's recipe went so sideways because the donuts themselves weren't good.  I had more donuts from the same place later that same week, and they were just as disappointing.)

    I tried the bacon a second time with the lemon curd, used regular sugar on some of it (the three on the left) and no sugar on some of it, and cut the temperature down by 100 degrees. It wasn't...the worst.

    It was not good, mind you.  Just not the worst.

    I'm not even going to replicate the recipe here, because I don't recommend it at allHere is the original recipe, though, if you're a glutton for punishment.  If you do make this, don't pre-heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit like the recipe calls for; do it at 300, and do it for a total of 23 minutes.


    The only photo I got of the finished product. I call this "Running, Madly, From Bacon."