Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kurt & Nina Come to Dallas

Guess who came to town a couple weeks ago? Kurt and Nina! After a fun visit to hang out with them in Tucson a few months ago, they decided to make the trek to Dallas. We had a great time catching up and showing them around town. Here are the highlights from the weekend (I doubt you'll be surprised to discover that most of them involve food)!

First up was one of our favorite downtown McKinney combos: Pie Night! To start things off, you get yourself a couple pizza pies at Cadillac Pizza. Then you follow that up with heavenly dessert pie at Emporium Pies (favorites this time around were the Cherry Bomb cherry pie and the Mellow Yellow lemon chiffon pie). And that's it, simple as that!
We spent a little time enjoying the warm summer air out on the back porch (and I finally got to light the mason jar lanterns that we made)!
There was TexMex to be eaten and margaritas to be sipped at La Hacienda Ranch in Frisco. Because you can't visit Texas without indulging in a little TexMex!
We made the trek into Dallas so we could poke around the Bishop Arts District. It's such a fun neighborhood, and we discover something new each time we visit. This time, we meandered around the neighborhood, sampled delicious (and sometimes delightfully weird) homemade chocolates and toffees at Dude Sweet Chocolate, cooled off with icy cold Topo Chico at The Wild Detectives (a cute coffee shop with a quirky book selection), sipped glasses of locally made cider at Bishop Cider, and we cozied up to a table at the wonderfully divey Ten Bells Tavern for local craft brews and bar snacks.
 Here we are out and about in Bishop Arts!
Finally after a long, arduous afternoon of food and was time for dinner at Stock and Barrel! Gosh I love this place. Favorite dishes of the evening were the avocado toast topped with chorizo (I don't care how trendy it is -- it's delicious), the goat cheese dumplings, the duck confit, and the ribeye.
One morning, we had a laid back breakfast around the kitchen table thanks to Rudy's and their brisket breakfast tacos (talk about killing two birds with one stone for out-of-state guests -- BBQ and breakfast tacos)! Another morning, we drove across town for breakfast at the oldest restaurant in McKinney: Bill Smith's Cafe! While it's hard to go wrong with anything on their menu, I love to get the chicken fried steak and eggs or the taco omelette. Or you can go my husband's route and get pancakes, eggs, and bacon...with a side of biscuits and gravy! So much food!
Kurt and Nina were also nice enough to go with us to the Local Yocal to participate in their Steak Class! A cattle rancher husband and wife team who believe in high quality meats that are raised properly (you know, eating grass and stuff like that without exposed to hormones or antibiotics) started their own meat market to butcher and sell locally raised meats along with some other locally made products.  The class involves a "lecture" from the owner himself about the meat industry, a tour of the butcher shop, a tutorial on all of the different cuts of steak along with where they come from on the cow, and finally (they save the best for last) they grill 17 (seventeen!) different cuts of steak for you to sample! I don't think I've ever had so much steak in my life. It was so fun to compare the different cuts, and they were all the best bites of steak I think I've ever had. It was a really fantastic experience. It was educational, fun, and delicious (also note that the class is BYOB, so feel free to bring your favorite beer or wine along)!
 That's a big side of beef (and I don't mean Kurt)!
After all of the steak was gone and the class drew to a close, we piled into the car and drove 45 minutes north to Sherman to hang out at 903 Brewers for their 2nd Anniversary Party! So far, they're our favorite brewery in the area, so it was fun to introduce them to Kurt and Nina, fellow craft brew enthusiasts. Throughout the party they were constantly tapping new beers brewed solely for the anniversary party. Some were amazing, some fell a little shy of expectations, but they were all fun to try!
 Hanging out at by the taps (these three are beer festival pros)!
For their last day in town, we went to Snug for their breakfast sandwiches. Snug is just the coziest, cutest little local coffee shop on the square in McKinney, and we always try to take guests there if we can!
Finally, we played a little golf at Top Golf (I came in last, as usual, but it's still surprisingly fun) followed by lunch at Freebirds before we had to make the trek back to the airport.
Such a fun weekend with sweet friends! Who wants to come visit us next??

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Grilled Pizza with White Beans, Spinach, & Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

I've mentioned my love of grilled pizza before when we hosted a grilled pizza party for friends. It's fun to make, a cinch to throw together thanks to fresh pizza dough at the grocery store, and ridiculously versatile. Whenever warm weather and grilling season arrives, it's one of our favorite things to add back into our dinner rotation, but since this spring has been so rainy in Texas, the grill has been a bit neglected. Until now! This week has been sunny and beautiful, so when I saw this White Bean and Spinach Pizza recipe from The Kitchn, I knew it was the perfect inspiration for our first grilled pizza of the season! So without further ado, let's get to the pizza.
1 ball of fresh pizza dough
Flour for rolling out dough
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large garlic clove
4 oz taleggio, rind removed
Grated mozzarella
1 can of cannellini beans (though you wont need the whole can)
A handful of fresh spinach
6 or so yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

Light the grill, and let it get as hot as possible.
(Warning: my grilling instructions will be a bit lacking, as my husband is in charge of the grill at our house).

While the grill heats, toss and roll out your pizza dough.
(We try to get ours as thin as we can and as round as we can, though it usually ends up pretty oddly shaped. There's no judgment here. It'll still taste good).

Also, heat the olive oil in a small pan on the stove over medium heat. Once hot, toss in the minced garlic and let simmer for a few minutes to infuse the olive oil with the flavor of the garlic.

Once the grill is hot, toss on the pizza dough. Close the lid, and cook for 1.5 to 2 minutes.
(We use a wooden pizza peel dusted with semolina to prevent sticking. One good quick jerk of the arm should slide it from the peel to the grill).

Once the bottom has crisped nicely, remove the dough from the grill, and flip it over so that you can decorate the cooked side with the toppings.

Brush the crust with the garlic-infused olive oil, and top with roughly torn pieces of tallegio and the grated mozzarella. Scatter with a good handful of white beans, tomato halves, and fresh spinach leaves.
(Try to avoid overloading the pizza too much so that everything will heat through and melt nicely in the quick amount of time required to cook the bottom of the crust)

Return the pizza to the grill, close the lid, and cook for another 1.5 to 2 minutes. The bottom should be cooked and crispy (a few charred spots are fine), and the cheese should be melted.

Cut into pieces (I use kitchen shears), and serve immediately!