Last night I hosted seven great friends to celebrate two belated birthdays, one of which was Ryu’s, who you may remember from our food influencer date here. Not surprising to anyone, Ryu recently got a new job that was created for him by the woman that founded one of my favorite Indy establishments. Her name rhymes with mover and is a vacuum brand. If you still don’t know, I have two words for you: cinnamon toast.

It was the perfect mix of people and we all had a connection to Ryu in some way. One of my fellow writers at work had met Ryu on an old client project, two of the guys were fraternity brothers with him at IU, and the ladies all knew him because he’s fabulous. For dinner I made texan brisket, bourbon BBQ sauce, brussel sprouts, roasted small potatoes (olive oil and rosemary at 400 degrees), salad, and apple pie.

I’ve included the recipe for the brisket and the sauce below. For the sprouts, the key is to cut the ends off, cut in half, and then steam in about an inch of water for 7-8 minutes in the microwave. Then drain and add to a hot pan with lots of butter (this is not the time to go light on the butter), salt, and pepper. I like mine a little burnt, but at this point you cannot go wrong. The worst sprout experience is when you order them at a restaurant only to have them tough on the inside, which is why steaming first is crucial.

For the salad I always do a huge bowl of mixed greens, sliced bell peppers, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic dressing in a mason jar on the side.

The apple pie recipe is from Martha Stewart and it was no fail. I am a big advocate of making your own pie crust – it really is not that difficult, especially if you have a food processor. I made the pie on Sunday to save time and it was still good on Tuesday night. I threw it in the (still) warm oven after taking out the brisket and by the time we were ready for dessert, it was just the right temperature. Slightly warm, but not too hot. I also like the addition of lemon zest – any excuse to use my Microplane is a good one.

I had my doubts about the bourbon BBQ sauce – I went light on the ketchup and heavy on the bourbon. I may have also had a bit of the bourbon while making it since it only seemed right to make sure it was still good before serving it to my guests. I don’t consider myself a BBQ connoisseur, but everyone seemed to like it, so I consider this one a winner. I’ll also let you in on a secret because I am by no means perfect: I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce. That said, it was still good and no one could tell.

For the brisket I went to the butcher at Marsh and asked for a five pound piece of meat. After he laughed at me (don’t I look like a girl that enjoys brisket?) and $42 later, I was ready. I came home around 1:00 for lunch, made the dry rub, and put my hunk of meat in the oven at 200 degrees. When I got home a little after 5:00, I upped the temperature to 350 and let it continue to cook. I took it out a little after 7:00, let it rest, and then cut into it to serve. The crockpot would work too, but the five pounds was a little too much to wrestle into my crockpot.



Sprouts on the stem!



Bourbon BBQ sauce!

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Recipe via Epicurious 
1 large garlic clove, mince
4- to 5-pound beef brisket
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 325°F. Rub garlic into both sides of brisket. Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Rub into brisket. Set brisket fat side up on large piece of foil and wrap tightly. Transfer to shallow roasting pan. Bake until tender, about 3 hours.

Recipe via Bon Appetit

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mild (light) molasses
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 Bring all ingredients to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Can be made up to two weeks ahead. Cover; chill. Use at room temperature.


Recipe via Martha Stewart
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground spices (combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and clove)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or orange juice)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (or orange zest), optional
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Pie crust – this is the one I used since I don’t like to use shortening:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice water, plus 2 more, if needed

Throw all of the above into the food processor and pulse until it resembles a ball of dough. Chill for at least an hour.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough into a 12-inch round that’s 1/8-inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside in the refrigerator.

  2. In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, flour, spices, lemon juice, zest, and salt; toss to combine. Pour into lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Roll second disc of dough into a 12-inch round that’s 1/8 inch thick. Lay dough over fruit. Cut vents into top crust. Trim edges to 1 inch over pie pan, and seal, crimping edges with thumb and forefinger. Chill for 30 minutes.

  3. Remove pie from refrigerator. Brush crust with milk, and sprinkle with sugar. Place on a baking sheet; this will catch any juices that may overflow during baking. Bake until pastry is golden and juices in center of pie are bubbling, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool for 1 hour before serving.


Last Friday I went home to Fort Wayne to supervise my parents’ rowdy wine club because someone’s got to do it. The meal was incredible and prepared by the one and only Laura Wilson of La Dolce Vita. She has the kitchen of my dreams and is one of the most talented chefs I have ever met. Laura was also kind enough to serve as a judge for the cooking competition at this year’s Dig IN and it was nice to have some Fort Wayne representation. She recently returned from a trip to Italy, so the theme was Italian reds for the wine and she made the pasta.

My parents have been attending their wine club for years and I hope that I have in some way re-created it here in Indy with my group of friends. I had a book club that if we’re being honest, was more of a wine club anyways. Every couple brings one bottle of that month’s chosen theme (Cab, Shiraz, Merlot, etc.) and then they bag and number it so that you blindly taste test it. Sometimes the less expensive wines win over the really expensive ones – it it interesting to see what you end up preferring when you have no idea what the label looks like.

The meal was caesar salad, pumpkin soup, focaccia, pappardelle pasta with a creamy parmesan sauce, pork tenderloin over ratatouille, and a chocolate semifreddo for dessert (that I will be re-creating very soon!). I love the idea of serving soup in tea cups with saucers. I left that evening full and extremely blessed to have amazing parents that still enjoy spending time with me – their witty, kind, and fun friends too.







Hotel Tango’s newest family member, Roger the wheaten. I am in love and Winston has a new friend.
This. So much this.

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