Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Burger, an Award and a Wine Review: Muscat

Ok, first the burger. This is a food blog after all. I made this for lunch the other day, it was really simple and wicked good. Sometimes, if I get my hands on large quantities of ground beef, I make patties and freeze them. That way I can whip up burgers easily for, say, lunch. But I minimally season them, that way they are more versatile. The only seasoning in the burger itself is salt, I sometimes add pepper too but I've found I actually like it better at the end so it's more fresh tasting. Anyway, it had a little mayo, spinach, fresh ground black pepper and some mozzarella. It was on a good sesame bun that I toasted, then put the cheese on the bottom and melted it under the broiler. Good stuff.

Now the award. Tamilyn from Butter My Kitchen has given me the Honest Scrap Award. Thanks Tamilyn! If you folks haven't, you should go check out her blog. She makes some good stuff. Plus it has a great name. Heh.

Now, I'm supposed to list ten honest things about myself and then pass it along. So... ten honest things, huh? Hm, all right. Bear in mind, they'll be honest, but that doesn't mean they won't be totally random.

1: I play a lot of video games. I like old school Nintendo RPGs the most.
2: I've never had spaghetti squash. At least, not that I know of.
3: I've seen every Friday the 13th movie ever made. The first one is a classic, the rest are just hilarious.
4: I love Legos. My dream job would be designing and testing new sets. I don't know if that job actually exists, but hey.
5: While I'm dreaming, I want a giraffe too. They are just so cool.
6: Since we're talking about animals, I like wildlife documentaries. I like them enough that I actually own a couple boxed sets of Nature.
7: I don't watch much TV at all. I watch cooking shows and documentaries on PBS and sometimes the Simpsons and Family Guy. Although I haven't been pleased with the last couple seasons of the Simpsons or this one of FG. But that could be a post by itself...
8: I hate movie remakes, especially if the first one was really good.
9: I'm terrible at finishing things.

I'm going to pass it along to:
Reeni, from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. She's has a great blog and makes all kinds of mad good stuff. She also has a cat who I want some of the honest things to be about. Hint hint. Heh.
Next, Emily over at Sugar Plum. She's a superstar, having been on Ultimate Recipe Showdown on Food Network. But she doesn't let it go to her head, she's still whipping up tasty stuff to share with everyone. Virtually share, unfortunately.
Last but not least, Karen at Karen Cooks. Bacon wrapped venison tenderloin. Yeah. That's enough by itself, but she also takes great pictures.

Now the wine review. I liked this one and am going to be getting more soon to do something cool with. I'm still a little vague on the details, but it's going to involve berries.

Name:Red Electra
Year: 2006

Short intro from the wine maker about the wine: Red Electra is easy (only 5% alcohol). It's a party wine with a zippy taste. Like a handful of freshly picked summer berries, it is sweet, succulent, luscious and lively. Red Electra is fun.
Review: Despite the fact that the maker's intro sounds like it was translated into English from Japanese, it's one of the most accurate intros I've come across. It smells like lavender and fruit and tastes like strawberries and honey. Where was this wine when I was a teenager? It's almost like a wine cooler, but better. Very sweet, but not as cloying as the Riesling I had. It's got this weird slightly fizzy thing that I'm not sure if I like or not. My girlfriend actually liked it, mostly because it's practically soda.
Would you buy again?: Yes, I have plans for it.
Wine Pairing Ideas/Recipes: Dessert. Things with berries like shortcakes, tarts or cobbler (whew, there's a post screaming for new pictures). Anything with a strong vanilla taste would go well, like yellow cake or rice pudding. I think coffee cake would be good too. It went well with Dove milk chocolate, but wasn't spectacular. I would go for fruit and berries (maybe melon? I'm not a big melon fan.) over chocolate with it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Just a Taste of Pulled Pork

So I've reworked my pulled pork recipe. Not a huge amount, but I did get it smokey despite being in the oven and I made my own quick and easy barbecue sauce. Both came out quite well, but I'm not going to share the recipes with you today. You're going to have to wait till Monday. Why? Because I'm a mean man. I'm also wicked busy. But I will give you a sneak peek. Here we have the shoulder just before before it went in the oven. And when it came off the bone, ready to be pulled.But that's all you get for now. Heh.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sausage and Vegetable Rice

I'm afraid I don't have an accurate recipe for this one. Not because it's something I just threw together, although it was, but because I thought I had written it down when I hadn't. Well, I wouldn't have written it down. Props where they're due, my girlfriend is kind enough to take down all my frantic "oh crap it's going to burn! Quick while I'm stirring/removing from the heat/deglazing/burning myself/panicking write down these ingredients before I forget what I did" recipes. But she wasn't in the kitchen when I made this, so while I still probably recited off everything I was putting in (they say it's only a problem if you start responding to yourself too), she obviously couldn't type it up. So I tried to recreate what I did by what was going on in the pictures. Considering I almost always miss a step or two I'm not going to pretend to assume it's complete. Here's what I think this was:

1 cup brown rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or however much liquid the rice you are using needs)
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a package of kielbasa
1 cup frozen baby carrots
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen mixed sliced peppers
1 light tsp dried basil
1 light tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper

Cut the kielbasa into half moons and brown it in a medium sauce pot. Once it's browned remove it and add the onion. Brown the onion. When that's browned add the garlic. Saute for 30-60 seconds. Pour in the broth, then the rice and add the basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Add the sausage back in, cover and cook til almost done. Add the frozen vegetables. Stir it around, cover it and let it simmer till the rice has absorbed all the liquid.


I often make meals out of rice and whatever we happen to have around. Chunks of chicken, any frozen vegetables, sausage, leftover steak tips or pork chops, some kind of veggie side dish that needs to be finished before it gets foul, whatever is around. I sometimes just make boxed rice pilaf and stir in whatever I have for the last five minutes or so, but sometimes I whip out the brown rice and make stuff like this. It's never the same twice, which is really a double edged sword. On the one hand, that means it's always at least sort of new. On the other hand if it was really good the chances of me recreating it are slim to none. I use all kinds of seasonings, from Italian to teriyaki, but mostly whatever I happen to grab first. Anyway, here is what I think I did this time.

First, browned up the kielbasa. Then the onions, followed by the garlic. Saute the garlic for just a couple moments, you don't want to burn it.You know, a lot of my recipes start out just like this. I should just begin recipes with "Prepare preliminary three step browning procedure! Engage!". It wouldn't really be quite right without some kind of button or lever though. Ah well. Time to deglaze. This would be two and a quarter cups of chicken broth. I think. It might be vegetable broth. Now the herbs. I'm pretty sure one is basil and one is oregano. But again, I'm not really positive. I don't have a picture of me doing it, but it's safe to assume I added some salt and pepper. Then the kielbasa goes back in, followed by the rice, a lid goes on and it cooks till it's almost done. Then in go the veggies. Frozen ones, because that's what I have most of the time. That got stirred around then recovered and left at a simmer till the rice had absorbed all the liquid. And that's it. Rice and stuff. This doesn't make light, fluffy rice just so you know. More like risotto or jambalaya, very saturated and rich. This is really more a concept than a recipe, make it with whatever you want or need to use up. Any vegetable is good, really, as is any meat. You could mix in some cheese at the end or sprinkle some over the top after serving. Good stuff on a cold day and it reheats really well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Steak Fajitas from Stuff I Had in the Pantry

1 1/2 lbs flank steak
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbl dried parsley
salt and pepper
1/2 cup slices of red onion
1/2 cup frozen mixed peppers

Rub the steak with the cumin, parsley, salt and pepper. Sear in a hot pan with some olive oil, till done. Remove from the pan and add the onions. Saute till almost soft then add the frozen peppers. Heat them through. Slice the steak thin and serve with veggies on tortillas.


Ok, one look at this recipe is going to tell you it wasn't perfect. But I was surprised at how good it was with just these simple ingredients. I will be improving it though, but I wanted to post a kind of rough draft. This way I could get opinions from people who cook this kind of stuff (Spryte, I'm looking at you) on how I can make it better (other than fresh herbs and cilantro instead of parsley, I know that much. Heh.). Other than taco kits, this was the first Mexican kind of thing I ever made. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. This is my very late, not even slightly romantic Valentine's Day post. I asked my girlfriend what she wanted me to cook her on V-Day. She said fajitas. I said ok. Now, I had never made them before, but with this recipe as a guide (although I bet Drew would either faint or want to hit me for what I did to it) I whipped some up. Why didn't I hit the grocery store for a holiday meal? Well, I've been working late shifts lately and, despite my love of food and cooking, I hate the grocery store. I think it's because I used to work in one. So when I came home from work on V-Day, at eight PM mind you, I had to work with what I had. Fortunately it came out wicked well and my apartment smelled like a Mexican restaurant for a couple days. Apparently that awesome smell that Mex places always smell like? It's cumin, garlic and olive oil. Who knew?

So first I grabbed some flank steak. Because you really should use flank steak for fajitas. Then I rubbed it down with some cumin, garlic powder, dried parsley (dried cilantro would have been better, fresh even more so) and salt and pepper. Then I rubbed it in real good.Then I let it sit for about an hour to marinate. I seared it up in a steel pan loaded with olive oil. Seriously though, lots of olive oil. What I didn't have in fresh herbs I made up for in pure fat. My mother taught me how to cook and she was a farm girl. Heh. When that was done I pulled it out and tossed in some sliced red onion. This was just for me, my girlfriend has a thing against onions. I sauteed them up, but not too much. Fajita veggies should be crisp. Then I tossed in some frozen peppers, since that was all I had. I just heated them through, since anything more would have made them squishy and my opinion on squishy vegetables is pretty well known, I think. Then we just wrapped them up and ate them. With guacamole and sour cream that my girlfriend grabbed from the Mexican restaurant down the street. They are very nice there and just gave them to her for free. Plus they make a steak fajita chimichanga that is killer. Anyway, this recipe was good but need improvement. But if you ever have a fajita craving and only have these ingredients, you can make something that will curb it. At least till you can get your hands on some cilantro.

A Simple and Basic Creamy Garlic Potato Soup

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups milk (sub some out with cream if you like)
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a large red onion, diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 tbl butter

Saute the onions in the butter over medium heat, till they are soft. Add the garlic and the bay leaf and saute for another 30 seconds to a minute. Add the broth, potatoes and milk. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, till the potatoes are done. About 30-40 minutes. Remove it from the heat and blend it with an immersion blender. Serve hot with some kind of topping.


I had never made potato soup before this. Can you believe it? I can't, especially now that I know how easy it is. I hadn't made one of the greatest comfort foods! The mind boggles. Anyway, this recipe is adapted from a couple different ones around the net, changed up to suit my tastes. It's thicker than average (most called for at least five cups of liquid), because I like it thick. I didn't add any additional things to it, except some cheese at the end, because I wanted to start with a blank canvas, so to speak. This soup is great partly because you can add whatever you want to it and partly because it's good just how it is. It's also very rich and creamy with just 2% milk. So it's even low fat! Of course it would be better with some heavy cream, but what isn't? Heh.

First, I got my ingredients together and took a really bad set of pictures. I'm not even going to show them. You're going to have to take my word that I prepped all the veggies, dicing the onion, mincing the garlic and cubing/peeling the potatoes. One other thing that would be good would be to do half and half carrots and potatoes. You would just want to cut the carrots a little smaller, since they cook more slowly. Anyway, then I browned up the onion. Once it was browned I tossed in the garlic and bay leaf. I used two really big cloves for this and it could have used more, in my opinion. Just so you know. Once the garlic was sauteed a bit I poured in the broth, added the potatoes and then the milk. I figured it wouldn't be good to add the milk first since dairy can be delicate and adding the broth would cool everything down. Then I just let everything simmer till it was tender. I don't remember exactly how long it took, I forgot to pay attention. Sorry about that. But once it was done it was time to smooth it out. You'll want to pull out the bay leaf first though. I first tried using a potato masher. It was woefully inadequate. So I just whipped out the immersion blender and that did the trick. Some salt and pepper and that's it, a basic creamy potato soup. Now you can add anything to it you can think of: cheese, bacon, chicken, zucchini, parsley, mushrooms (if you really wanted to), pepperoni, chives, raw onion, broccoli, cilantro, peppers, more cheese, sour cream, nuts, carrots, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, corn, meatballs, whatever you like. So what would you add?

Monday, February 23, 2009

English Muffin Pizzas, Two Ways

4 English muffins, split in half
1/2 cup of tomato sauce with meat chunks
olive oil
garlic powder or minced garlic
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Put the muffin halves on a baking sheet, I usually line it with parchment paper. Spread the tomato sauce on four of them, dividing it up evenly. Drizzle olive oil over the other four, then sprinkle them with the basil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes salt and pepper. Top all of the muffins with cheese and bake at 500 for 8-12 minutes.


So I made some tomato sauce with Italian sausage in it the other night to have with pasta. After dinner I had maybe half a cup leftover. The next day I was trying to think of what I could do with it when I remembered I had a whole pile of English muffins in the freezer. My mom used to make these when I was a kid sometimes and I never really felt it for them, but now I love them. Go figure. Of course, she didn't make them like this. Sometimes when I'm making pizza I like to have toppings under the cheese, as it lets it brown up more. Plus the heat is so high you could burn more delicate toppings like broccoli or thin slices of meat before the cheese got nicely browned. But this time the meat was already in the sauce, so that's just the way it had to be done.

English muffin pizzas couldn't be easier. All you do is take a bunch of English muffin halves and put some stuff on them and bake them. First, stuff on muffins. Please ignore the big smear of sauce in the middle of the parchment. Thanks.On some of these is the sausagey tomato sauce, on the others just some olive oil, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Then cheese. My girlfriend isn't too into cheese. Can you tell which ones are mine? Heh. Now you just toss them in the 500 degree oven till they are all gorgeous. I love browned mozzarella. The best part is the little bits of crispy, browned cheese overflow.It hits the parchment and just crisps up. I could eat these things all day. And I probably will.Add Image

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Cats, a Sandwich and Some Rambling

I don't know if it's a lack of inspiration or just one of my periodic urges to indulge, but I've eaten three grilled cheese sandwiches today. Grilled cheese is the bomb. I suggest everyone make one soon, especially if it's cold where you are. There is nothing like a grilled cheese on a cold day. But I suppose that doesn't really have anything to do with cats...

I think this post was originally put together around the time they started forgetting that they were ever not living together. They had mostly stopped startling when they would meet up, there was almost no hissing anymore. It's weird how short Noodle's ruff was then, it's so long now.

I think they are going to be just fine
(Originally posted 8/1/08)
So the babies are getting along much better. They are playing more and fighting less. They even shared a plate of tuna water without so much as a grumble!Soon we might even be able to leave Noodles out when we aren't around to referee. As I write this Noodles is chasing Bob around like a psychopath. He charges off, she goes after him. He runs under something, she hides. He looks for her and she jumps out at him and chases him some more. No hissing, ears forward. It may not be peaceful, but at least it's not violent. Heh.


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