BBQ

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Since moving out of the area years and years ago, I rarely ever head back to my old post-college neighborhood of Allston. This past Wednesday, however, a client I have been working on Public Relations and Social Media with, Good Parent, Inc. held an event at the Allston-Honan branch of the Boston Public Library. If you have kids or know someone with kids, definitely check out the Good Parent site; I love their books, and I love working with them.

After the event, I wandered in the warm summer evening air, with the sun slowly starting to set, down Harvard Ave in Allston, past all of my old stomping grounds which happen to be gone, for the most part. I knew that there was some sort of BBQ place in Allston, so I gave my husband a rough location to meet me at, and very soon I found Soulfire.

One whiff of the spicy smells coming from the restaurant was all I needed. I took a seat at the bar while I waited for my husband and took in the funky Soulfire vibe.

Soulfire BBQ

The place was completely packed and a little noisy, but it was just what I wanted that night. I grabbed a cold Brooklyn Lager and sipped away as I read and reread the menu, which is packed with BBQ goodness, especially sides, sauces, and appetizers. Those are the things I care about most.

Brooklyn Lager

Once the hubby arrived, we decided to share a bunch of items including pulled chicken on Texas toast, cole slaw, BBQ beans, corn bread, pickles, and the Spaghetti Western, which just happens to be creamy mac and cheese mixed with BBQ chili, topped with corn flakes. We couldn’t say no.

Soulfire BBQ

The restaurant also offers six packs of sauce at each setting, so I got to try their sauces in abundance. I am definitely a sauce girl, and while the signature Soulfire sauce was good, I went back time and again for the Fiery sauce. We devoured the tender, flavorful chicken on soft white bread, perfect for soaking up sauce. The cole slaw was crunchy, fresh, not overdressed, and a great addition to the spicy sauces. But the Spaghetti Western, as we imagined, filled us up and stole our hearts. Chunks of smoky BBQ meat were encased in the cheesy mac. I dipped my mac and chili in even more sauce, and my was it heavenly.

We left full, and I was happy that we had a long walk back to the car. It was the perfect way to end the evening. I had been craving BBQ, and Soulfire definitely delivered. We will be back!

SoulFire on Urbanspoon

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Tags: Allston, BBQ, beer, Boston, Food, Restaurants

Bags of frozen shrimp are one of my favorite kitchen staples, and they often lead to last minute meals that turn out pretty great. A few weeks ago, I bought molasses, anticipating using it in brown bread. My brown bread ended up not calling for molasses, but I started thinking of other recipes for this classic ingredient.

molasses

Spicy BBQ sauce was the first thing that came to mind. I started with about a cup of organic cider vinegar and several tablespoons of tomato paste.

apple cider vinegar

Fun fact: my nana drinks organic apple cider vinegar. I can’t do it because I think it tastes gross, but she is rollin’ up on 97 this November, so she must be doing something right!

Cider vinegar makes a great base for a BBQ sauce. I mixed the tomato paste and vinegar in a pot with about a cup of water. I used the vinegar bottle as a vessel for the water to get as much flavoring from the vinegar as possible.

I brought the vinegar and tomato paste to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the paste, then added two large spoonfuls of molasses, about a teaspoon of garlic powder, and two large jalapenos, chopped.

homemade bbq sauce

Toward the end I also added about a tablespoon of grated ginger. I am obsessed with ginger these days, ginger in food, ginger tea, ginger beer in Dark & Stormy’s. Love it!

grated ginger

I made the sauce the night before finishing the dish to ensure the flavors all got together. It was divinely spicy and sweet with a tang from the vinegar.

When I was ready to cook dinner, I peeled and cleaned about two dozen shrimp.

shrimp

Then I popped the shrimp into the sauce and let them hang out for about half an hour.

marinated shrimp

enriched farina

While the shrimp marinated, I got my “grits” going. I used the Trader Joe’s version of Cream of Wheat, a hot cereal I have been loving lately. I enjoy the texture SO much more than oatmeal, and I thought, why not add it to dinner?

farina

I cooked up a pot of the wheat cereal, and in a separate pot cooked the shrimp in BBQ sauce. To serve, I spooned the cereal into bowls and topped it with heaping ladles of BBQ sauce and shrimp. The sauce sunk down into the soft, creamy cereal, flavoring it, making it a little soupy, and just becoming a bowl of spicy comfort.

I am still cold, even though the weather has gotten nicer, so dishes like this will likely be on the blog for a few more weeks.

What are your plans to enjoy the warmer temps this weekend?

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Tags: BBQ, Food, recipe, sauce, shrimp

We don’t watch football, but when a Sunday in fall, especially a gray and cloudy Sunday, rolls around, I have the urge to spend the day at home cooking. Most of the time we have too many plans and end up spending the day running around, but this past Sunday was a cooking day.

After picking up a big grocery haul at Trader Joe’s, I headed home to get started on our Sunday menu, homemade BBQ pulled chicken on home baked rolls.

I started with 4 organic, free-range chicken breasts from the freezer, left frozen. I tossed those into the slow cooker with a diced yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic and a few good shakes of hot sauce.  I put the chicken on low and got started on the sauce.

onions and chicken

As always, I consulted various recipes online before I made my own combination up. I added about 2 cups ketchup, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, lots of hot sauce, a few shakes of crushed red pepper and garlic powder, then stirred it all up.

making BBQ sauce

I was pretty psyched when it actually looked like BBQ sauce (I know, not very difficult, but we just always bought it; I’m getting better!)

homemade BBQ sauce

I added half of the sauce to the slow cooker after the chicken was cooking for an hour, then waited a bit longer before using forks to shred the meat in the sauce. Then I added more sauce and let it sit on low for another 30 minutes.

slow cooker chicken

Once it was all cooked, I set the cooker to warm so that the meat wouldn’t overcook, but it would be ready for us to eat for dinner.

pulled chicken

Meanwhile, I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour, in addition to some of the flour I received at our King Arthur baking class. I also bought instant yeast at the King Arthur Baker’s Store, and with all of that yeast, I certainly need to be baking!

yeast

I have discovered I no longer fear dough; I LOVE it!

bread dough

I shaped the whole wheat dough into 8 buns, then let them rise on a grease cookie sheet. They were so puffy when it was time for them to go into the oven!

hamburger roll

The end result? Perfect! These rolls were really soft and tasted like bread from a bakery. I was pretty proud!

homemade rolls

I served the pulled chicken on the rolls, topped with pickles and this delicious jalapeno yogurt cheese from Trader Joe’s. It is a new favorite.

pulled chicken

Hooray for chilly Sundays and homemade meals! How do your weekends change throughout the year? I love that our distinct seasons here in New England somewhat dictate what we do on the weekends.

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Tags: baking, BBQ, chicken, dinner, Food, recipe

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