Friday, February 23, 2018

Soft Pretzel Bites & Beer Cheese

Who doesn’t love a good pretzel? I can’t keep myself from making an Auntie Anne’s stop when I see them pull fresh ones out of the oven. For that reason, I knew these were a must-have for my pot-luck party recipe stash. These are my go-to for football watch parties (Go Steelers and as always...Boomer Sooner) because they are so incredibly simple to make and they are always a crowd favorite. 

Frozen yeast roll dough (y’all know I always like Rhodes brand)
1/4 cup Baking soda 
3qts Water
Kosher Salt
Cheese Dip (look for my beer cheese recipe down below)

Allow the dough to thaw until it is soft enough to cut. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut each ball of dough into four and lay out on a lined baking sheet. Boil water, slowly add baking soda. Drop the pretzels in small batches of 10-15 making sure they aren’t stuck together. Let boil for 20-30 seconds and remove, placing them back on lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with homemade or store-bought cheese sauce. 

Note- if you are making more than a few batches I recommend having a second pot of water boiling that you can add baking soda to when you are ready to use it. After a few batches the water starts to give a very sour/bitter taste to the pretzels so it should be swapped out. 

Homemade Beer Cheese Sauce: 
1/2 cup Butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup beer 
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 cup of shredded cheddar (white or yellow)
Pinch of cayenne, optional

Which beer to use is up to you but I recommend a good flavorful beer, not dark in color- don’t use cheap domestic beer like a bud light, it doesn’t have enough flavor. I use Sam Adams Boston Lager or a light colored German lager. 

Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Cook the flour in the butter until it starts to brown. Add the beer (just as you would add milk if you were making gravy) and stir constantly until it starts to thicken. Add the cream cheese, stir until melted and combined. Lastly, slowly add in the cheddar cheese stirring in a figure eight pattern until melted and combined. If you like a little spice you can add in a pinch of cayenne. If you don’t want to use beer you can use milk instead and it will be more of a mac&cheese type of sauce. 

Enjoy! XOXO~

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Los Cabos Grub Guide

My family spent the two weeks after Christmas in Cabo, with the exception of a short heartbreaking New Years Day stop in Pasadena but we'll just skip right over that. TAKE ME BACK TO CABO! (As I write this, it's 11 degrees with snow on the ground in Nashville). I have traveled to Cabo several times a year, every year, for 25 years. I get a fairly constant stream of messages from fans and friends finally visiting the Baja for the first time. They always want to know where to eat when they get there. So...I thought I would kick off 2018 with my Los Cabos Grub Guide so you always have it on hand should you or a friend find yourselves headed there. Not everything that happens in Mexico stays in Mexico (See what I did there?) 

La Golondrina: 
This is one of those places our family makes a point to come to EVERY. SINGLE. TRIP. In fact, both my sister and I chose La Golondrina as the location for our wedding rehearsal dinners. It is open air but has great big trees and stringed lighting that creates a great atmosphere. And the food....oh the food! It has something for everyone. In fact the menu is so big they have it written on a wall instead of handing you a menu to read through. The wall usually has an attendant answering questions. I will warn you, it is a crazy amount of food as there is a soup, tostada, and garlic bread that comes before you get the dinner. (I have pics of us here somewhere, I'll add those at some point!)
What To Order:
We love the Dynamite or Diablo Shrimp appetizers,  Whole Red Snapper, the Acapulco Style Fish as well as any of the combo entrees. Great ribs, steak, Mexican entrees, etc. I could go on and on but really you can’t go wrong here. 

DOC Restaurant and Wine Bar:
I am a bit of a food snob when it comes to Italian food. This ranks among my top Italian favorites ever, not just in Mexico. The food is top notch. They make their own pasta which for me is a must. If you haven’t ever had fresh made pasta, find a spot TONIGHT and go. You can’t beat it. 
What To Order: 
Ragú (Bolognese), Ravioli Del Giorno, Red Wine Braised Half Chicken, Burrata Caprese salad

Cabo Wabo: 
Has great food and great nightlife. Our family has spent MANY nights living it up in Sammy Hagar's hot spot. Some we remember and some we don’t! Most nightclub/restaurant combos do one or the other best, Sammy rocks it on both fronts. I’ve never eaten anything there I didn’t like and their house band brings the party after dark. If your lucky you'll catch some of Sammy's buddies up on stage rocking out with the house band
What To Order: 
Any shrimp appetizer or entree. Seriously, pick one they are all great. Enchilada Stack, Stuffed Mushrooms, Vampiros, Steak. 

This is just ONE of the HUNDREDS of nights we've spent in Cabo Wabo. The boys had caught a maco shark out fishing that day and Sammy's guys cooked it up for us.  They could do the same for you if you catch something while out on a deep-sea fishing expedition.

Nik San:
Upscale and on the expensive side but so good. Angel the owner is great at what he does and everything from the hot dishes to the sushi is on point! There are two locations. One in downtown Cabo San Lucas, it's the original. the other is in the "Shoppes At Palmilla" closer to the San Jose side.
What To Order:
Try to Tuna Tostada, the Sashimi Serranito, the Japanese Yellowtail Sashimi, or the Eel Roll. If you like cooked dishes, the Pan-Fried Spicy Fish was out of this world. If they are not busy you may be able to talk them into spinach rolls or tomatillos that have been taken off the menu due to how long they take to make.
Affordable Alternative: Art & Sushi 

The Office:
Eat on the beach with your feet in the sand. Does it get much better than that?! It's owned by the same people as Edith's (another great spot in town). The food is great day or night. It is right in the heart of spring break central so if that isn’t your thing I would avoid it during the day. 
What To Order: 
Lunch: Sea Bass Tacos, Quesadillas, Queso Fundito con Chorizo (melted cheese with sausage), Tuna Tiradito, and more
Dinner: All of the above, or Tampiqueña, Grilled Sea Bass, Lobster. I've never had anything here I didn't like so, again, you can't go wrong.

Italian Job: 
Ok, so to be honest, I've never actually been here. However, I get my love of food and restaurant scouting from my Dad and he says this is his favorite Italian spot in Cabo. I have enough faith in his judgement to add it to this list. it is run by a man from Northern Italy using his family recipes. They make their own pasts, bread, sauces, etc. so that gives them big brownie points from me.
What To Order:
Apparently they have something called the "Ass On Fire" Pizza that is pretty great. Other dishes recommended we're the Caesar Salad, Lasagna, Carbonara, Porterhouse, Eggplant Parmesan appetizer, and more. From what I hear, everything was top notch.

Fat Tuna:
This is a new place in Cabo also owned by Angel from Nik San. The grilled fish dishes were outrageous! 
What To Order: 
Fat Tuna Ceviche, Tuna Carpaccio, both of the TuToaba Fish dishes, the Black Cod Miso, Lasagna, Pizza. 

Tacos Gardenias:
We’ve been going here for 25 years. Simple, cheap, great tacos. Great lunch spot. 
What To Order:
Our group always orders anywhere from 3 to 6 tacos per person. the fish tacos are great, shrimp (camarones), beef with cheese and chicken with cheese are also go-to options. There are other great types of tacos on the menu so don't hesitate to branch out a bit and try something out of the ordinary.

Cabo Surf: 
There is a boutique resort in the corridor called Cabo Surf. They have FABULOUS breakfast. Drew and I make a point to have a breakfast date there almost every time we are in town. It was introduced to us when we were in Cabo planning our wedding. Below is a pic of us that first day...and then a pic of me 8 months pregnant on our "Babymoon" trip before we had Hensley and one of Drew that show the view, which is breathtaking. It's the spot where all the surfers come to catch the waves so you get to check out all the surf action.
What To Order:
the French Toast is to die for! All the other breakfast is great too so if you are going with 4 or more people, let everyone choose what they want for breakfast but make sure to order a French Toast for the table to share. 

La Casa Country:
This is a great spot if you are down near the marina, which is pretty central fo all of downtown Cabo. Quite possibly the best salsa and table-side guacamole I've ever had. It overlooks the marina so-it has a great view of boats coming and going. It is great for lunch or dinner, or you just just grab a beer and some guac or salsa. I believe they even have breakfast on some days as well,  although I've never been there for breakfast. 
What To Order:
Arancita combo, They have a great grilled meat plate that comes out on a giant griddle, The grilled fish-is great. Again, the salsa and table-side guac is a must. If you can handle a little heat, go ahead and let them put everything in the guac.

Other Popular Spots To Check Out:
El Feralon is cliffside and romantic (reservation needed)
Flora Farm is farm-to-table style (reservation needed)
Tropicana is a standard Mexican Restaurant in San Jose 
Mi Casa is a standard Mexican Restaurant in San Lucas
Edith's (reservation needed)
Hacienda Cocina y Cantina (downtown San Lucas)
Doggie Style - my brothers favorite hot dog stand
Common Table 

Grocery Stores: 
There is Wal-Mart, Mega, Costco, etc. for the standard groceries but if you like to cook brands you know or you are an "Organic" only person or you need specialty items you might check out Santa Carmela, it's a small market just outside of downtown in the corridor area that carries mostly American brands. There is also a little more selection at the market located in the "Shoppes At Palmilla." but that a lot closer to San Jose.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hey There 2018.....You're Pretty

Hey Y'all,

Welcome back to The Barnyard Bistro! I have been away a while trying to perfect my juggling act. It feels like forever since I've posted on here. My last post about food was in preparation for the baby who is now 2. I haven't been just sitting around the house in pajamas though. Occasionally I wore yoga pants. Kidding! I wanted to take some time to enjoy my newborn, so I did. Since then I've been writing and recording and planning and it's all finally coming full circle and is ready to share in 2018. To give you an idea of a few of the other things I've been up to, here are a few of the roles I've been playing the last two years:

New Mom
Many of you have met Hensley Jack on my socials and yes, she is just as perfect and full of personality as you think she might be. I'm not partial at all though, Ha! She takes every bit of spare time I have and I love every second of it. I really do hope it's true that you can love your second kid as much as the first...I'm questioning my mom right now and mean-mugging my sister who at this point, I feel like MUST be my mom's REAL favorite. 
I am a handful sometimes, and thank God for letting me hit the husband jackpot. Along with having his own career, he happily drags bags and baby across the country with me to live out my dreams. It's been well over 18 months since we've spent an entire month at home  And....he doesn't mind helping with dishes and laundry. Like I said, JACKPOT. 
2018 is going to be a BIG year for me and my music. In December I released a duet called "Anyone Else" with my buddy Lance Carpenter (he cooks too!), if you haven't heard it, check it out! We have a video releasing soon for the duet and then I have an EP coming out later this year as well with a full album to follow that. I have so many fun things in the works that I WISH I could share with you but stay tuned because this year is going to be epic!
Family Member and Friend
As you can imagine with our travel schedule we miss out on a lot of family and friend gatherings. We are so blessed to have such an incredible and supportive group of friends that love us even though we are more often then not, unavailable when they invite us to events. My girlfriends try to to plan going to concerts and on trips a year in advance and I rarely can commit as next week is almost always up in the air. I love them dearly for putting up with me. I have gotten to spend a lot more quality time this last 2 years with them which has been lovely since our prospects for quality time in 2018 is looking bleak.
Clothing Designer - 
You may or may not know but my mom, sister and I started a golf and athleticwear company in 2013 called SwingDish. We have had such a great time creating and traveling and building this brand. We are in several countries and in golf and country clubs across the nation. 
OK, this one is random...Petroleum Landmam - 
As I mentioned above, Drew does have his own career. He co-owns an oil and gas brokerage and investment firm In Oklahoma. As most husbands that start companies do, Drew has managed to talk me into adding yet another career to the already-long list of roles I feel the need to perfect. I'm officially 10 years in. When he needs an extra hand on a project, he likes using my "off-road" time by popping me behind a desk so he can boss me around for a change. Pre-Hensley it wasn't just off-road-time. I put 8-10 hours a day in for him during the entire Shut Up and Hold On Tour that my band and I opened. He is lucky I'm a nerd and love spreadsheets, math and office work! 

That's quite a few hats to wear so I hadn't had near as much time for experimenting with new recipes as I had pre-Hensley Jack. Not getting to cook a hot, fresh, gourmet meal every single night has not left Henny and the hubs without great food, I've just learned to plan ahead and cook a lot of food twice a week instead of every night. I've also gotten better at meal planning so that what I cook fits into other meals I'm making. I can also say I've become somewhat of a Crock Pot master. Don't worry, I'll share many of those recipes here this year too. I'm at a point where I've got my shit together a bit more and Hensley will finally entertain herself long enough for me to snap a few pics and write up a post here and there. Happy 2018! I've missed you guys and cannot wait to share so much this year!

Enjoy! XOXO~