Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Nights..Remember When..

When younger, Friday night was our night to howl! Before marriage- with the boys! After marriage, with other couples! I couldn't wait to get together with friends, food, and libations! As I grew older, Fridays started a little later, and a little tamer... Now we're of an age where socializing is Saturday night! Fridays are now how early we can get in our robes, and watch a movie on TV- after a bite of something simple to eat..
Tonight, we had tacos..tomorrow will be pizza night, with friends! Everything you see, you could put on your square bottomed taco! Wife ate three- loaded! I had two, and enjoyed the simple food immensely! We planned Saturday night with our friends, coming over and decided I'd better make some cookies and pick up some munchies to catch up over.. Still in the air if I will make a Dad pizza, or have one delivered.. We need to get in contact with them on final plans!
Enjoy your week-ends, people..enjoy life while it is still in you!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Damage Control- Or How To Save A Meal You Pooched

I had thawed some chicken(do people around where you live ever say unthaw? It's redundant!), boneless, skinless chix breasts(huge!)and hadn't decided what to make with them. Tex-Mex flavor sounded good, so I had to pick between chicken burritos, or the classic Arroz con Pollo- chicken and rice! I went with the latter, only to find 40 minutes into making and simmering sauce and chicken- I had no white rice to speak of..BUT (I hate it when I have to use my big but!)we did have oodles of brown rice! Just a longer cooking time, right? Wrong! I gave it the proscribed 40+ minutes to absorb the moisture and become tender- didn't work...Rice was under done when it shouldn't have been..God, I hate it when I'm wrong! Now challenged by a seriously large batch of pooched supper, I was determined to salvage something from this! Mexican about a chicken and rice soup? Tomatoes, onions, red bell peppers, seasonings, were delicious.. Thin it out and cook it longer- should work!
The photo of the dish looks great, and I threw in a photo of our cheeseburgers and curly fries supper last night..the cheese was an Australian white Cheddar- pungent but tasty! I'm the olive burger guy, wife loves her chopped onions..Dog gets hers plain!!
Tonight, it's Mex chicken and rice soup, or hot dogs~!
It's good to learn from your mistakes, but it's better to learn them from someone else before you make the mistakes!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Week-end Steak And Potatoes

Winter has me feeling less than creative right now-sorry! I broke out a pound of breakfast sausage, and paired them with a cheesy hash brown potato casserole. A simple cup of leftover island fruits from my POM salsa, lightened the meal a bit!
We had a couple of marinated steaks the following night, with the left over casserole...
I'm working on a pomegranate juice/liquor BBQ sauce, but need to lighten it a bit..Yes, I found pomegranate liquor! It's a low proof (34) sweet liquor, that should add a dimension to the sauce..
Tonight it will be a Mexican style chicken-but haven't decided what!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Time For A Mini-Meme! A Little Longer Than Normal..

We all have been part of an incredible feast at one time or another..and they are memorable for all the good reasons!
Today, I want you all to plan a five course meal, made from your favorite food dishes you may have had! Me first, as usual...
1. An appetizer, like crab stuffed mushroom caps- with cheese, of course!
2. A seafood bisque, using shell fish
3. A chef's salad, with all the ingredients, topped with a blue cheese dressing, jacked up with Maytag Blue, crumbled..
4. Rib-eye steak, medium rare- prime, mind you! a side of Au Gratin potatoes on plate would be nice..
5. Dessert, Key lime pie
P.S. After dinner drink- a Stinger, then haul me away, a happy man!
How about you? Let's hear your dream meal!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My First Contest..Third In Main Dishes- Tex-Mex Lasagna!

A long time ago, our city press (The Grand Rapids Press)put on a city wide cooking contest called the Grand Cook-off. You had to enter a recipe by category, of which there was about six...I got picked from a thousand entries to compete in main dish category! I had entered a casserole, Tex-Mex in flavor, and it had to be prepared on site in a certified commercial kitchen, with a 1 hour time limit. It was a simple, straight-forward recipe, and the time constraints were of no concern to me. 10 people in my category..3 people who copied a recipe out of Bon Appetite magazine, but had obviously never made it..3 more, who were bushas(grammas) who were good cooks(in their own kitchens!) and about four of us that had a clue! I took a third with this simple dish, and won a knife and fork set, along with a cooking class on pizza put on by a local chef!
1. 1lb. seasoned (Mexican flavors) and browned ground beef
2. 8oz of favorite salsa
3. four flour tortillas torn into quarters
4. 1 medium onion
5. 6 oz of sour cream, or Ricotta
6. 2 eggs
7. 12 oz cheese- 6oz Monterey Jack, 6oz Colby- in srips
Place layer of browned ground beef with minced onion in baking dish
cover with layer of tortillas.
Place sour cream and whipped egg on tortilla layer, with more ground beef
Repeat layer, topping with white and yellow cheese,in alternate strips
Heat and bake for 30 ain't too bad!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sweet Pepper, Corn , Crab, And Scallop Bisque..Wow!

My plan was to start the Valentine's Day feast with a crab bisque..but time and amount of food, made it the next day's supper! I have always made a sweet red bell pepper and crab bisque, but saw in a cook book how sweet corn is also used in a similar dish...I had some left over scallops, and could see no reason not to utilize them in this recipe!
1. 1 can of low sodium chicken broth
2. 12oz. of half and half cream
3. 1 red bell pepper, chopped coarsely
4. 1/2 cup chopped onion
5. I can sweet corn, drained
6. 8oz of seared scallops
7. 12oz. cooked crab meat
8. Old Bay seasoning, to taste
Saute red pepper and onion in butter until cooked but still firm. Add chicken broth, half and half, sweet corn and heat on low. Add a cold water(2oz)and corn starch (3Tbs) mix to thicken broth. stir until hot and thickened, add seafood. Heat 5 min. and season with Old Bay to taste.
You will find this to be a filling, excellent bisque to enjoy with or as a meal!
P.S.- The photo of the locally made candy..Sweetlands! In business for 90 years, it is a great place- and they have a web site, if you're interested..

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, Our Way.-500th Post!

This is my 500th post! I am so happy to have met you all! Happy Valentine's Day to all! First, I would like to comment on Tavolini- they are getting married today! How romantic is that!!! I bless them both, as they are good people in deep, real love...I know these things.. Second, Otin and Blue Violet have found a bond I really think will last, forever.. Today is about love and caring..skeptics may leave now.
I have cared deeply for my wife and the mother of my children, for 36-1/2 years- she is the only woman that could put up with the likes of me. I am a load. I am a man's man..always playing cards, drinking too much, friendlier than I should be..but I always came home. Ladies and men..We won't change! Find someone that knows who you are. and accepts you as you are.. If we were perfect, they'd nail us to a cross.
The rest of this post will be food!
Valentine's Day is more of a weed-end with us.. it lasts longer than one day! my wife's favorite meal is stuffed pork chops,so Friday, that's what I bought and fixed..
I had high hopes for today, as far as a menu goes..Such are the plan of mice and men..What we ended up with is a dish of scallops, sauteed and seasoned, with a stupidly complicated salsa that was so good, along with rice..well, you had to be there.. I gave my wife a box of locally made chocolates, and she gave me a couple of needed shirts! I spoil her, and she looks out for me! Love is not about one day..It's about a lifetime..learn it, live it! My folks only made 64 years.. I hope my wife and I beat that record! May the good Lord bless you like I have been blessed!
May all have love in their lives, for all to see!
P.S. I used papaya, mango, pineapple, POM juice, and chili spices to create the best fruit salsa you ever had! This, with any seafood, is killer! POM is the Bomb!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cold Weather Comfort Food- Because We Need It!

I made spaghetti and meatballs one night..Big deal! When you make your own sauce, and top it with two kinds of real Italian cheese, it does get to be a little bigger deal..When you do it when the snow is falling hard, and you need a warming, filling, spicy dish- now it is a big deal! It hit the spot- 'nuff said!
The next night, with more snow falling, I remembered Katherine's favorite homey food- tuna noodle casserole... I was a newly wed, when a product called Hamburger Helper came out. It was a huge marketing success, followed by different flavors, and a Tuna Helper! Newlyweds are notorious for being broke a lot, and as I didn't know much about cooking then- we used a lot of both products! As I found out I could duplicate darn near everything that came out of a box better and cheaper, we forgot about this filling, tasty one plate meal. I made our version of Tuna noodle casserole, and it brought back memories- and hit the spot! 12 oz. of solid white Albacore tuna, it on sale, it is the least fishy tasting tuna there is! For a sauce, I mix Cream of Mushroom soup, milk, with cheese and spices, stirring into cooked egg noodles, topping with bread crumbs, and baking uncovered until bubbly (30min.@350F). Simple things done well..
Next post will be my 500th...whoda thunk? I'll try and make it a barn burner!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Beef Brisket And Burger Stove Top Chili

First, this is NOT my Buffalo Dick's competition chili! This is home chili, using what good ingredients I have on hand! I use basic ingredients integral to my first string chili, but with certain variations....
In a large pot, place the following:
1. 1 can diced tomatoes
2. 1 can red beans, drained
3. 1 medium onion, diced large
4. 1 blanched tomato, skin off, chopped
5. 1 can beef broth, 6 oz. of V-8 juice, 4oz of POM pomegranate pure juice
6. 2 chopped Jalapeno peppers, diced fine
7. 4 tablespoons of mild dark chili powder
8. 2 " " chopped garlic
9. 1 " " Mexican oregano
10. Start all this on stove top until simmering
11. Brown 1LB. ground beef, seasoned with chili powder, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, ground, toasted cumin to taste.. to sweeten a bit use brown sugar, or some jelly, honey, etc.( about 1 big tablespoon)
12. Drain and add to chili
13. Add chopped beef brisket(already cooked)
14. Simmer all until tender, uncovered until proper thickness
15. Add 1 tablespoon of Cholula(Pequin pepper) hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon of cumin 20 min. before serving
16. Top with a soft mild cheese(shredded) with a side of Tortilla chips..
The people at POM were kind enough to send out samples of their fine product to me. I incorporated it into a delicious chili, and plan to do a salsa and BBQ sauce using it also!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Thin Cut Pork Steaks And Butter Noodles

I like a thin cut pork steak, as I usually quick pan fry them in real butter. By not cooking them forever, they come out pretty tender..with a higher fat content than a pork chop, they stay a bit juicier, too!
We had some no yolk egg noodles, that we discussed doing either Alfredo, or just buttered with parsley sprinkled on.. The buttered noodle won, and went well with the pork.
I used to run big Super Bowl parties at the club I belong to, but got tired of feeding 100+ people,, then cleaning up... Today, I'll stay home, watch the game, and hope I win the few bets I made!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

An Egg McMuffin, Before The World Ever Had One!

As I have mentioned before, I grew up in a West Michigan Dutch background.. My Grampa Jake went to a neighborhood bakery twice a week to get cracked wheat bread and cookies.. Oatmeal raisin cookies, hot from the oven are still hard to beat! About once a week, my mom would dump me off at his house(1/2 block away!) to go do mom stuff.. I think he could only cook oatmeal, eggs, and tea- as that all I remember him eating while I was around! A fried egg sandwich was a staple- and I liked them! As I got older, I started cooking- but wanted to dress up this plain Jane sammich! I added cheese, then later, ham- still using a grain bread, unfried.
With the wife still working a goofy shift, I made a two fried egg, one piece of cheese, two slices of ham in a sandwich on whole wheat... That brought back memories of simpler days.. Good food grounds you. Good food brings back memories of times when you were hungry, and devoured simple things done well. Escargot are great, and I love many gourmet dishes- but anything that helps you remember where you came from should never be lost!
Share with us your humble meal while growing up.. there is nothing to be ashamed of, and a lot to be proud of!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

German Chocolate Cake- Kind Of...

We like to keep a sweet in the house, for when the sugar attack hits. The carrot cake was gone, so I decided to whip up a quick dessert. I had a box mix for German Chocolate cake, and a frosting mix that was pecan and coconut..I had some left over dried, sweetened cranberries, and some walnuts left- so I threw them in the batter! It came out tasty...usually all people throw in a cake is some chocolate chips, so this was kind of different- in a good way!
Wife goes on normal schedule starting next week, so food postings should start being a little more regular, and hopefully interesting!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Oven Beef Brisket Prepared Like BB-Q Brisket- Except Indoors!

Saturday, I took a thawed beef brisket weighing 7.8lbs, trimmed it a bit, and dry rubbed it generously with coarse salt,coarse pepper,garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, various herbs and spices, with a splash of Worcestershire sauce- and placed it in the fridge overnight. People are often intimidated by this cut of meat. Not cooked long enough, you could beat someone to death with it. Cooked too long, and it doesn't cut well, gets dry, and shreds instead of cuts...
I learned to do brisket in an offset fire box smoker from a guy who won that category at our State cook-off. 215F unwrapped for 5 hours, 5 hours wrapped, rest for 45 minutes.
Too cold to smoke outdoors Sunday, I decided to try a technique in the oven very similar- but different!
I took the brisket out of the fridge an hour before cooking, slathered it in in mustard and Worcestershire sauce, with another hit of seasoning. Placed in an aluminum pan, I poured a can of beef broth in the bottom for moisture. I baked at 390F for 1-1/4 hour uncovered, allowing a nice flavored crust to form, then turned it down to 315F tightly covered with aluminum foil for 3-1/2 hrs. Removed from oven, I opened the foil and let the meat rest for 20 minutes before cutting. Sliced beautifully, with a tender, moist, flavorful taste. The sauce was a mix of K.C., Asian, and a touch more of Worcestershire sauce in it.
Leftovers for sandwiches tonight!