Meat Claws

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Pulled meat ranks pretty high on my family’s list of dinner menu favorites. Chicken. Pork. Beef. We love it all.

But one thing I hate? Working with raw meat. I cannot stand looking at meat. Like to the point of I’d be a vegetarian if it didn’t taste so darn…tasty!

Thankfully I married a man who doesn’t mind taking his turn in the kitchen and handling the meat cooking process. He deserves kitchen tools that make preparing meat for six humans (plus leftovers) super easy.

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One of those tools would be Meat Claws (for shredding meat). When it comes to pulling meat, this gadget makes it easy. Simply cook the meat using your favorite method (we prefer the slow cooker, but long for the days when we had time to enjoy roasting on the grill) and then pull the meat apart with the Meat Claws.  

The claws keep your cook from having to use tools that we’ve found can be counterproductive to the meat pulling process. (Does anyone else have tongs and a fork that are two differing lengths or is that just us?)

Using the Meat Claws puts the meat close enough to your hands that you get the right amount of torque to effectively shred your meat in no time.  

Based on our experience, these work best with meat off the bone (we love boneless, skinless chicken), but there’s nothing stopping you from pulling meat using these if you like to rotisserie your bird. Would we suggest this for Thanksgiving? Not if you’ll be presenting your turkey on fine china, but to each king of the kitchen!

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For more information on Meat Claws, check out Cave Tools. They retail for $9.99.

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Experience Columbus: Foodie Tips

Disclaimer: Experience Columbus sent my family and four other Pittsburgh Mom Blogger families on a weekend getaway to check out their city. We were compensated in the way of attraction passes and gift cards; however, this does not impact the views expressed in my recap posts (including this one). All opinions are my own (or my kids’ / husband’s).

Food is a necessity, but something I don’t always plan for when we vacation. This needs to change. Especially when I have a family that loves food. Our trip to Columbus didn’t involve much planning on my part because I really wanted to go with the flow and enjoy the weekend. I wanted flexibility to enjoy the convenience of eating at our hotel and to be able to jump up and join one of these ladies on their adventures and not be bound by a food choice.

IMG_3976(Pictured are Ashley 0f Momma on a Mission, Kelly of Pgh Momtourage, Nadine of The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog, and (a desperately needing a haircut) me…not Pictured is Nicole of Champagne to Crayons.)

Here are my tips if you are heading to Columbus, Ohio and want to get some delicious food.

1. Use Social Media. I tweeted to @ExpCols and @cbusadventures in search of kid-friendly / local food (non chain). They were able to crowd source some great ideas, which we sadly did not indulge in. (I was looking for something near the zoo, but honestly, about a mile into the zoo I realized there was no dragging my kids out – Tandori Chicken flatbread, it was!) If you don’t ask, you’ll end up grabbing fast food or something familiar. Don’t do this! Enjoy.

2. Snack. No, I’m not just talking about bringing snacks so you don’t get HANGRYI mean enjoy small bites and indulgences of the local offerings. We were gifted with delicious treats from Buckeye Crunch, Shagbark Seed & Mill Corn Chips, CaJohn’s Raspberry Chipotle Salsa, and Pocket Change (Brownie Bites) from Sugardaddy’s. Yum.

3. Go for a good pizza. Yup, we try to eat healthy around here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t spring for a pizza every now and then. Throughout my travels, I always make it a point to grab up a local pizza and enjoy it. This time around, we went to OH Pizza and Brew, a quick walk from the hotel (and convention center). This was a new business, but full of amazing choices and flavors. The breading was light and fluffy, with fresh ingredients and barely any hints of grease. Perfection.

4. Splurge on some ice cream. Run, don’t walk, to a Jeni’s Ice Cream location near you. Thank goodness this cutesy ice cream shop has deals with grocery stores here in Pittsburgh because one small bite and I was in love. Fresh, local ingredients. You can taste the love in these “Splendid Ice Creams”. 

I’ll be heading back to Columbus in about a month and cannot wait to make some adult dining choices while there. So many great foodie options, so little time. Share with me YOUR favorites in Columbus…or your tips for experiencing the cities you travel (when it comes to food).

 

Firehouse Subs: #FeedTheFire

It’s been quite a few years since Greg or I had Firehouse Subs, so when the opportunity to not only go and try them out but to meet co-founder Robin Sorenson, came up, I quickly signed us up.  Myself, two other bloggers, and a rep from WPXI got to sample subs, the Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine, and hear about what makes Firehouse Subs different from other sandwich places. The night began with a “Welcome to Firehouse!” by all the employees–one of the touches that sets them apart, adhering to one of their three mission statement credos–heartfelt service. Robin and his brother (and co-founder) Chris learned about service watching their parents as they grew up. (I hope my kids are learning this!) Our first stop was to quench our thirst at the Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine, selecting from the 120+ options it has to offer. (The technology behind this is really cool–there is no syrup involved, it’s incredible how one machine can offer so much.) We even got to hear about the signature Cherry Limeaid (if you get it, be sure to add in limes, that’s the way you are supposed to enjoy it) from Robin’s brother-in-law (it was clear from the start that the business is about family and balance–win!). I enjoyed this drink, but do hope they release a light or diet version–my non-sugar body was quite hyped up for a few hours after.

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(In case you’re interested, I pulled together my first ever Storify story of the tweets so you can see even more photos and quotes from the night–check it out here!) Once we got settled in, Robin walked us through an evening of stories about the restaurant’s success. From their start in Jacksonville, Florida in 1994 to over 600 stores in 35 states (and Puerto Rico), they clearly have done something right. Robin said it over and over–they “have the right people” and that is what makes the high volume stores do what they do. It’s not just about sales, it’s about good food. Robin and his brother Chris are foodies–they are involved in the meat selection, test kitchen trials, and even talking to the companies who make their meat or bread. Portions are where they are different. The amount of meat on a Firehouse Sub is enough to satisfy a hard-working firefighter (or a hungry Greg, lemme tell you, that guy was one happy man!). This goes back to their mission statement credo: hearty and flavorful food.

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Robin, down to earth, funny, and great to listen to.

 

While I’ve had Firehouse Subs before, I completely forgot how amazing they were. The taste. The steam. And the bread. The bread is SO SOFT and yet crispy on the outside. The pickles (from the Bronx). Yum. Captain Sorenson’s Hot Sauce. Yes. The flavors of each sandwich aren’t covered up by anything–if there’s mayo, lettuce, ham, and cheese on a sub, you can taste it all. Yup. Deliciousness. My favorite was the New York Steamer and Greg’s was the #1 selling Hook and Ladder. I mean, just look at them.

New York Steamer
Hook & Ladder

I know, I’ve made you hungry. Just hang tight, friends. I’ll help feed your fire soon enough. And finally, Robin talked about the Firehouse Foundation (on Twitter @savinglives) dedicated to the third credo, public safety support. The Foundation helps police and firemen in addition to schools (to get AED’s). It provides disaster relief (food for public safety folks during disasters). The money comes from the customers (through pickle bucket sales or rounding up their checks), vendors, employees, and matches from Robin and Chris. (Here’s more on how you can get Fully Involved!) The dedication Robin has to this company is clearly one of the reasons it is great. He is involved in the decisions from what napkins are bought to who is hired to own a franchise. The company has stuck to basic philosophies that work, and from what I can tell, it sure is working. Before I went to the event, I checked out their Facebook and Twitter and am quite impressed with their connections with customers. They’re even on Instagram and YouTube! Worth checking out if you are a social media junkie like me. IMG_8556

 

Event attendees with Robin

 

When we left, our hands were too full to ring the Thank You bell, but I wish we could have. You see, we were carrying our drinks, my leftovers, and goodies, some of which I am about to share with you. I’d love to hear about your experience with Firehouse Subs, and hope you get a chance to try them out if you haven’t. Before you enter this giveaway, take a peek at the photos Greg took during the event.

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Thanks to the Firehouse Subs and the Zimmerman Agency for hosting this event and giveaway! It’s time to share the love.

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Preparing for Easter

Good afternoon! After a much need release of some stress last night, I woke up energized and ready to prepare for tomorrow, Easter! (By the way, I am so glad I can admit my faults and let you know that life is not always smooth ’round here!)

Ideally, I would have taken A to an Easter Egg hunt, but we decided the town hunts were probably too crowded (she gets really clingy in big groups) and she decided to spend the night at my parents’ house (spoiled cutie). That means today we’ve been extremely lazy. I had a wonderful conversation with a ::ahem:: favorite* ::ahem:: aunt and snuggles in bed with Evan and Greg. We put up some dishes and cleared the snacks off the island in prep for lunch here tomorrow. And, I got an idea up my butt.

One of my favorite things to do is be in the kitchen cooking or baking. But this year, I got a pre-made sweet potato casserole and planned on making some pickled eggs. Well…now I have expanded my desires and am going to attempt to make some cake balls to dip like How Sweet’s Cupcake Fondue. Ari’s been begging for cake all week since I bought spring sprinkles, anyways. And I can’t forget deviled eggs. They are one of my favorites, and I know my cousin R would disown me if I didn’t have them for him tomorrow. But then I got to thinking about dinner, and I really wanted chicken casserole (because there so happens to be leftover mushroom soup in the fridge…). So, needless to say, Mr Mister is off to the grocery store to buy more eggs and oil so I can get to cooking! The house is about to smell great, and there just might be a mini-revival of Lil Burgher Delights!

Hope you all have a great day–the sun is shining and the sky is blue here in our part of the ‘Burgh Burbs, so enjoy it!

*shh they are all favorites! 😉