Mantry Unboxing: Bourbon Breakfast + November Favorites

So I missed posting about my favorites from the October Mantry box, GQ: How to Entertain in Style, but looking back, I don’t think it was as much “I forgot” as it was “I wasn’t that impressed.” The salami was good, as most cured meats are, and the chocolate “salami” was as tasty as it was an interesting concept but nothing really hit right-on for me. Thankfully our November Mantry box, Leftovers, was different and I want to share some of the things I enjoyed most:

  • Good News Cashews and Coconut Granola by Hudson Henry Baking, Co.
    Just before starting on this blog post I ate about a handful and a half of this stuff. Something about granola makes me think it’s going to be a terrible snack but if you can look past how messy it can be if you eat it by itself, it’s really not. I paired it this morning with a bit of blueberry Yoplait Light yogurt. The bag it’s delivered in is sizable – probably one of the most impressively large items I’ve had delivered via Mantry, and the flavor it provides is not lacking in either the cashew or coconut categories it draws its name from. Fresh and crunchy, this is some A+ granola!
    Buy it Here

  • Maplewood Smoked Bacon by Broadbent’s
    This was the first thing I tore into upon receipt of the box. The bacon is thick-cut and fries up beautifully. I added nothing to it or the pan aside from some fresh-cracked black pepper and even it wasn’t necessary. Mine and Erin’s tastebuds were assaulted with the strong, salty flavor you’d expect from country ham with a texture that was much thicker and sort-of chewier than your average bacon. There’s very little grease when you fry it up, likely because of how it’s cured, so you feel like you’re getting a nice fatty protein without as much of the fatty part. I enjoyed this bacon so much I ordered some for my parents and for my sister and her husband for Christmas.
    Buy it Here

  • “Ragin’ Rooster” Sriracha Mustard by Green Mountain Mustard
    Last week I made up some hamburgers that were equal parts lean ground beef and breakfast sausage. With a side of hand-cut cheese fries, the burgers didn’t need anything extra to assist with flavor but the addition of this Sriracha Mustard was a wise one. The mustard was a nice flavor compliment to the spice in the sausage while the Sriracha aspect provided a spicier “kick” while also adding a hint of sweetness that you don’t normally find in your average hamburger. We were both big fans of this one!
    Buy it Here

  • Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles by Brooklyn Brine
    Also going on the aforementioned sausage burger, these Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles stood well against the strong flavors of the sausage and Sriracha mustard, allowing for an even fuller range of tastes that basically attacked the palate on every front. I’m not a huge pickle-eater but these pickles along with the tiny onions floating around with them brought forth a nice extra bit of spice (but not too much) and a sweetness to the table. Again, not a big pickle eater, but I think these would stand well even on their own, let alone a kick-ass burger.
    Buy it Here

I’m trying to keep up the practice of utilizing my newborn Pinterest account to maintain a list of the Mantry items I’ve reviewed. You can find that board here.

December’s Mantry crate’s theme is Bourbon Breakfast and aims to give us a legit reason to look forward to waking up in the morning, especially during these cold, dark winter mornings most folks are currently experiencing (I say most because it was 53 degrees on the way to the gym at 5:30am here in east Tennessee). So maybe it isn’t as cold here as it is other places and maybe I’m more of a morning person than most but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to enjoy some of these bourbon-infused and inspired breakfast delights in this month’s box! Let’s get going:

Going left to right:
Hazelnut Whiskey Cookies from Whimsy & Spice, Brooklyn, NY
Bacon Spread from Skillet Street Food, Seattle, WA
100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup from The Syrup Shop, Burlington, VT
Hazelnut Pancake Mix from Freddy Guy Hazelnut Farm, Monmouth, OR
Bourbon Blueberry Jam from Jam Stand, Brooklyn, NY
Spicy Borsellino from La Quercia, Norwalk, IA

Saying I’m excited to get down on some of these breakfast goodies is an understatement. I struck out when I made these Pumpkin Chocolate Chai Protein Shakes from PaleOMG this morning – a little too bitter for my taste and, according to Erin via text message, adding honey doesn’t do it any favors. I do intend to give these another shot on Wednesday, though, and will be adding some things I think will make them taste better (and still keep it Paleo-esque) since serving them in our Butterbeer cups we picked up in Diagon Alley back in October apparently didn’t do the trick on its own!

Fingers crossed for good results from everything and tasty breakfasts!

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Take Your Traditional Thanksgiving and Stuff It 2013 – Pulled Turkey Cranberry BBQ Sliders

Anybody remember last year’s Thanksgiving dinner that I also told you to stuff?

Well, we’ve done it again. For about the 3rd or 4th year running now the Simpsons have turned the traditional Thanksgiving holiday upside down by sticking to Knoxville, staying indoors and firing up some tasty turkey treats and watching scary movies. We’ve done turkey tacos and turkey Italian sausage dogs in the past but this year we’ve gone a little further.

Enter pulled turkey cranberry BBQ sliders.

The idea came to me when I got an email alerting me of a new post at for BBQ Bean Sliders (that I’ve still not made) – always looking for a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner that still includes turkey in some way, this post really gave me the inspiration I needed to put together this year’s dinner.

I started out with some turkey thighs – 4 total – that I seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder and basil and dropped in the slow cooker with a stick of butter for 8 hours on low. After moving the super-tender turkey to a cutting board, I used two forks to “shred” the turkey, then placed it back in the slow cooker with a bit of the liquid (I emptied most of it) just to keep it moist. Since I wasn’t sure how much turkey this would yield I just made all of it and ended up with a LOT leftover – I’d cut this in half if you’re only serving two people. I’ll explain later.

I also wanted to make my own barbecue sauce but hadn’t really research any new sauces when my girl Giada put a cranberry barbecue sauce recipe in my face. I’d link to this post but I modified it quite a bit based solely on items I had in my kitchen at the time. We begin by making a cranberry sauce – boiling together some maple syrup, 1lb of cranberries, about a half cup (I eyeballed it and probably used 3/4c) and some cinnamon then simmered for about 5 minutes before mashing with a potato masher to make a sweet, fruity and chunky cranberry sauce. This tasted lovely by itself.

I moved the sauce into a new saucepan then sauteed a diced onion in the old pan with about 2T of EVOO. Once sweated for about 5-7 minutes I poured in a cup cranberry sauce with a few drops of worcestershire sauce, vinegar and about a half cup of ketchup, brought to a boil and simmered for another 5 minutes. Once the sauce was finished cooking, I transferred to a blender and processed until it was smooth. This made a surprisingly small amount of sauce.

I poured one cup of the sauce into the cooked turkey and mixed together and found that the turkey hadn’t really changed color at all – for this to be Cranberry Barbecue Sauce my turkey wasn’t looking very cranberry or barbecue by any stretch of the imagination. In an attempt to remedy this I just dumped in the remainder of my cranberry sauce and mixed. Still very little color save for the chunks of cranberry I hadn’t mashed completely.

This was a bummer but the taste was wonderful. I topped some toasted King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls with the turkey mixture and placed them beside some baked sweet potatoes I topped with butter, brown sugar and marshmallows I then roasted to brown.

In the end everything was super tasty just not as sexy looking as I was hoping. Giada’s beauty shot of cranberry barbecue came out much more vibrant and pink. While I’m confident my sauce was correct, I think my problem was too much turkey – if cooking for only two like I did this year, I would stick with only two turkey thighs or at least double the sauce recipe.

I ended up having a large tupperware dish full of leftover turkey and sauce. For lunch on Black Friday I toasted the remainder of my dinner rolls with the turkey mixture and topped with a basic gravy I made from butter, flour and beef broth then melted some shredded cheddar blend to form a makeshift, unofficial “Hot Brown” for the two of us and I STILL have leftover turkey.

While I made it 18 days into NaBloPoMo, I stalled out for a very good, though stupid, reason that maybe I’ll blog about in the near future. I mentioned some “big news” a few weeks ago but go ahead and scratch that. No news. Bummer. Life goes on.

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