Brunch at the Aut Bar

French toast

We finally had brunch at the Aut Bar! We’ve been meaning to go forever, but then Afternoon Delight just always sounds so good! I’m glad we broke out of our rut and checked out the Aut Bar. We sat on the patio, which was lovely with all the trees and the coziness of Braun Court. The menu is quite large and includes a lot of Mexican specialties. The service was very good.

Dave ordered a special, the raspberry cobbler French toast, which he thought was excellent.

chilaquiles

I ordered the chilaquiles, which are scrambled eggs with tomatoes, jalapenos, cheese, and fried corn tortilla chips. It was served with refried beans and Mexican rice, which I usually can take or leave, but they were very flavorful (and made for excellent leftovers!).

We shared an order of Portland potatoes, which are cubed sweet potatoes with a sweet and savory spice blend. Amazing! So good! They’re coffee was excellent too. We were tempted to order a brunch cocktail (the Tequila Sunrise), but we thought that might be gilding the lily, so we held back…this time! We will definitely be returning, I can see brunch at the Aut Bar being a favorite right alongside Afternoon Delight.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

slow cooker pulled pork

We had family visiting from Scotland and I wanted to make something that was American (and something easy because it was a work night) for dinner. I decided to make pulled pork for the entree. I had the 6 pound pork shoulder in the slow cooker all day (really, for like 12 hours) the day before. Before placing it in the slow cooker I make a dry rub. I used this recipe and added a little apple cider vinegar and water to the bottom of the crock. I put the lid on and cooked it on high for about 6 hours and then on low for another 6 hours. Once it was done, I took the entire piece of meat out and placed it on a cookie sheet to cool slightly. After it had cooled for about 15 minutes or so, I removed the cap of fat and bone and then shredded the pork with a couple of forks.

The next day, I put it back in the slow cooker with 3 jars of our homemade BBQ sauce that we had canned last summer. I set the slow cooker on low for about 4-5 hours. Dave made
light brioche burger buns from Smitten Kitchen
the night before to serve with the pork. And I made slow-cooked baked beans from Elle’s New England Kitchen and crackaroni salad from Tasty Kitchen for sides.

For dessert, I made mudhen bars from Two Peas and their Pod, which went over well along with the rest of the dinner.

Even though the pork cooks down a bit, this still makes a lot of meat. We ate leftovers the next few days and then froze a couple of portions for later. We might try pulled pork tacos or nachos with the leftovers for something different than just eating it on a bun.

El Azteco

El Azteco

We were in East Lansing seeing The Book of Mormon at the Wharton Center. Unsure of where to go for dinner, I asked friends on Facebook and my MSU alums came to the rescue! We went to El Azteco. We (along with pretty much everyone else) sat on the roof deck. It was a nice atmosphere with umbrellas so it wasn’t too sunny. Service was a bit slow, but we weren’t in a rush.

Based on our brother-in-law’s recommendation, we started off with cheese dip with tortilla chips. The cheese dip was made with cottage cheese, sour cream, muenster cheese, and spices. Doesn’t sound like much and it didn’t look like much either, but it was delicious and completely addictive.

For our entrees, I ordered enchiladas de jocoque (sour cream, cheddar cheese, and spices) and Dave ordered huevos rancheros. We both really enjoyed our meal and would return again. We didn’t have any margaritas since we had our drive home, so that’s definitely on the list for our next visit.

Visiting the Nichols Arboretum’s Peony Garden

Peony Garden

A couple of nights ago, we visited the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. Despite going to school in Ann Arbor and living within a 5 minute walk from it, I had never visited before. We walked past it last year during the Ann Arbor Marathon, but we didn’t stop long enough to enjoy it. I’m so glad we were able to make it during the peak bloom, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Dr. W. E. Upjohn, founder of the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company in Kalamazoo, donated peonies to the University of Michigan in 1922. The peony garden was then opened to the public in 1927. The University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden includes over 270 historic varieties of peonies from the nineteenth and early twentieth century representing the best American, Canadian, and European peonies of the era. They have also recently added several peony trees from different parts of Asia, including China and Japan. There are a total of 27 beds with each full bed containing 30 peonies. When filled to capacity the garden holds nearly 800 peonies and up to 10,000 flowers at peak bloom (usually around Memorial Day).

Peony Garden

If you’re interested in visiting the garden this year, I would highly recommend checking it out this weekend while the majority of the flowers are in bloom. The garden is located near Markley Hall Residence Hall on Washington Heights near the School of Public Health and Ronald McDonald House. The peony garden is just steps past the Arboretum welcome center and there is free (limited) parking in the Blue lot across from Markley after 5pm and on weekends.

Check out the rest of my photos on Flickr

Peony Garden

Memorial Day BBQ for Two

BBQ for Two

We had a pretty low-key Memorial Day. After a busy weekend, we planted our garden in the morning and then enjoyed a BBQ for just the two of us. Our entree was chili cheese and bacon bratwurst from Biercamp. We love Biercamp’s cheddar jalapeno hot dogs, but I’ve been really wanting to try their chili cheese and bacon bratwurst. They did not disappoint! Super flavorful, very juicy, I would definitely get them again. If you haven’t visited Biercamp yet, I highly recommend it. They have a great variety of products and their products are a very good quality.

We served those brats on homemade jalapeño cheddar rolls from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. We thought the flavor was nice, though Dave would have like it to be a bit stronger, especially the cheese flavor, but the texture was a bit off. It was quite dense and too bready. We prefer the light brioche burger buns from Smitten Kitchen.

For sides, we had grilled Michigan asparagus and tzatziki potato salad from Smitten Kitchen. This is a favorite of mine, though it doesn’t keep very well. Water from the cucumber and the yogurt tends to seep out over time. It’s best eaten the day you make it.

And finally for dessert, another favorite chewy lime sugar cookies, from My Baking Addiction. These are great tasting sugar cookies with a nice, but subtle, lime and coconut flavor. However, mine never puff up as much as the photo on the recipe!

I can’t forget about the cocktails though! We had our first mojitos of the summer. We use the recipe that we got from the farm-to-glass cocktail class offered by Tammy’s Tastings, which she’s offering again this year on July 28 (register here).

Mojito

  • 1 sprig mint (4-6 leaves)
  • 1/2 large lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 oz light rum
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz club soda

Place mint sprig in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and add the lime wedges on top, this will prevent the mint from becoming bruised as you muddle. Muddle either using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, to release the juice from the limes and the oils from the mint. Add rum, simple syrup, and ice. Shake aggressively for 20 seconds or so and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a sprig of mint if desired. Enjoy!