Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bonus Post! Virtual Bake Sale for a Good Cause.

Yay bonus post! Not that it's going to be a new recipe I'm afraid. But I'm feeling charitable today, so I wanted to take part in this. I'll Eat You is having a blogiversary virtual bake sale to support The World Food Program. She wants bloggers to post their favorite bake sale recipe and links to a donation page (which is here) to help her help them help others. That last bit might be hard to parse, but I think you get the gist.

So, what kind of bake sale would it be without chocolate chip cookies? Not just any chocolate chip cookies either, but The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever! Yeah, you've seen that recipe before. And this picture too. But damn, they really are the best cookies ever and I couldn't think of anything better for a bake sale. So if you're a blogger why not post your favorite bake sale recipe and help some people get some food? If you have some cash to spare why not give a couple bucks? Being hungry blows.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oven Baked Potato Wedges

So this is another one that isn't really a recipe, more of a method. My brothers method, to be precise. We had these with those burgers I posted about the other day and several people expressed some interest in how they were made. Can't blame them, they are mad good. But there isn't really any measuring involved, he just tosses it all together. And here's how.

He takes a whole bunch of red potatoes, scrubbed and such, and slices them into wedges. Tosses them in a bowl, a little olive oil (enough to coat them)and seasoning. You want enough to give a decent coating too.You can use whatever seasonings you like, they're potatoes so pretty much everything goes well with them. He, however, uses 21 Seasoning Salute (and salt). It's a good time.If you use a big bowl you can just toss them to coat. Spread them on a tray and toss them into a 350 degree oven for thirty to forty minutes, depending on the size of the 'tatos. Once they are cooked crank the heat up to 450 for another 15 minutes or so. That gives you this lovely golden crispy side. You could flip them at one point or another, but then you wouldn't get this super crispy bit. It's kind of like potstickers with the brown crispy bottom and softer top. But that's it. Simple and delicious.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Treats from a Local Bakery

Ok, I'm wicked tired. I'm not doing a recipe today, I just don't have the energy to do all that writing. So here is some deliciousness made by the bakery down the street from my apartment. Let's see, what do we have... a couple chocolate croissants, some carrot cake, a raspberry/lemon danish thingie, a raspberry turnover and, the real stand out of the selection, a slice of strawberry cheesecake. I think it was Italian style, it had a layer of marscapone between the crust and the cake. And it was on a pie crust, not a graham cracker one. It was awesome. Has anyone ever seen cheesecake like this before?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sunday Cats and a Burger

Just a quickie today folks. First, the burger. This burger was grilled at my brothers, with barbecue sauce added halfway through and a couple extra flips. That gave me some nice caramelization. And some grilled onions are on there too. AND some killer potato wedges. I'll post the recipe for those later in the week, they are very simple and wicked good.

Now, the cats. Noodles likes to sit in my lap, especially when I'm on the computer. That's because I sit with my ankle on my knee and it makes a little seat for her. Of course, Noodles isn't a "color inside the lines" kind of girl. She had to sit on my knee like this. She thought it was great, she just sat there, purring, head resting on the space bar, while putting far more pressure on my knee than I care for. Needless to say it didn't last long. Now Bob, as I've mentioned before, likes to cuddle with my girlfriend when she is on the couch. If you put your hand under his chin he will hold onto your arm. See?It's like a hug for your arm. Sometimes he'll even rub his face against your hand. How are these two pictures related? Well, they aren't. And now I've got to go. Hope you had a great weekend.

Pan Seared Chuck Steak with an Easy Corn Side Dish and Product Review: Country Bobs All Purpose Sauce

All right, first the steak. No real recipe for this I'm afraid (apparently that's going to be a theme for Saturdays, along with reviews), it's really just a method. But here's what you need:

Steak (let's say 1 lb)
2 cups or so frozen corn
1/2 cup or so diced frozen peppers
1 tbl fresh herbs of your choice (or however much you want/need to season your steak)
salt and pepper

All we're going to do is sear the steak then plop the frozen veggies into the hot, fondy pan. Then you stir the veggies around till they are cooked how you like and that's that. So I guess there's the recipe... but here're the details.

First, steak. I used a chuck steak. Normally not the best for pan searing, but I'm not a steak snob and I don't really mind if it's not perfect. Plus it has a great, strong beefy flavor. And it's what I had. So I rubbed it with herbs. I used some salt and pepper and the grilling spices from Daregal. The spices in that blend are thyme, rosemary, savory and parsley, they went really well with the steak and the corn. Once the steak was ready I pulled it off to rest and tossed the peppers into the pan, then the corn. The water that the frozen veggies put out deglazed the pan (although a splash of red wine wouldn't have hurt, heh heh) and then they got coated with the meaty, herby, salty and peppery flavors. Stir them around, let the liquid simmer off and that's that. Well, unless you don't think it's rich enough and want to put a pat of butter on there. That never hurts. So there it is: pan seared chuck steak with corn and peppers. One pan, two dishes, dinner is done.

Now the review. I recently got a couple bottles of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce to try out and I figured that this was a great time to do it. So I dipped my steak in and gave it a shot. The verdict? It's ok. It's like a cross between A-1 and a bottled barbecue sauce. Sweet, but it still has that steak sauce flavor. I enjoyed it well enough, I'll use what I have, but I won't seek it out when these bottles are gone.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Experiment: Barbecue Bacon Turkey Balls

1.3 lbs ground turkey
1/3 lb bacon, browned and crumbled
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp chili powder
1 clove of garlic
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbl cilantro
black pepper
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Combine all ingredients well. Form into balls and bake at 425 till browned and mostly cooked through. Heat the barbecue sauce in a pan big enough to hold all the meatballs (preferably the pan you cooked the bacon in, with the bacon fond still in it). Add the meatballs and toss to coat. Let cook till the meatballs are completely cooked and the sauce has caramelized.


The name really says it all, Barbecue Bacon Turkey Balls. I had some ground turkey and bacon that wanted to be used and a bunch of seasonings. So I made these. They were wicked good. Looking back on them, I should have put some onion in. That would have made sense and added more deliciousness. But for some reason I didn't. Anyway, the cilantro is that frozen fresh stuff that I reviewed the other day. It worked quite well, I was very pleased. Sorry, no interesting back story to this one. It was something that I just kinda put together. So, here's what I did.

Basic meatball method here, take everything. Mix it together. Don't forget the bacon! Never forget the bacon. Form them into balls and cook them. I like to do it in the oven, it's quicker than frying them in a pan (at least in my tiny pans) and I run less of a risk of some sticking and making me angry. When they were almost done browning I tossed some barbecue sauce into the pan I cooked the bacon in, for extra bacon flavor, and turned the heat on medium low. Then out came the meatballs from the oven and into the barbecue sauce. Stir to coat, let cook till done, caramelized and delicious. You can turn the heat up to make it faster if you like, but I don't think I've ever had an overcooked meatball and if you let it take it's time the flavor is much better. Now you could just eat these as is, they are definitely good on their own. But I tossed mine in a roll with some cheese and it was unreal.Well, even though these are made with turkey they still aren't exactly healthy. Because of the bacon. But they are wicked good and the more mild taste of the turkey lets the seasonings (and bacon) really come through. I'll be making these again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Apple Upside Down Cake Update

Typically when I've made a recipe and I decide it needs some kind of retooling I don't try it again for some time. Sometimes I need to do some research or I have a bunch of other stuff to make, sometimes I don't want to eat it again too soon or I just don't want to deal with whatever it needs. But I remade that apple upside down cake a bit more quickly than normal. And I learned a valuable lesson, too. Namely, bundt pans aren't very good for making upside down cake in. My dreams of fluted, caramel covered cake are simply not meant to be. Well, at least not in this format. Maybe some kind of sauce... Anyway, I made it again pretty quickly because it tasted wicked good. This time it was even better, thanks to a few changes. Namely not halving the cake part of the recipe and adding toasted pecans and raspberries. I'm not going to go over each step again, since it wasn't so long ago that I made the original. But I will show what I did differently.

First, like I said, I added toasted pecans. Right in the caramel. This added a great flavor/texture. They were salted, which worked out nicely. I did the apples the same, trusting the extra batter to cover/ hold them in place. But, after adding half the batter I added a layer of fresh raspberries. Not squished or anything, just whole. I still halved the caramel portion, figuring there would be plenty since there was so much less top to a bundt cake than a regular cake. And there was plenty of caramel... sort of. Using the whole recipe meant leaving the cake in the oven much longer which browned it up nicely. Added some flavor depth. It still didn't cover the apples quite all the way, but at least it didn't split into pieces when I got it out. Which was a hassle since this time the caramel stuck even more, making the cake, once again, ugly. I wound up peeling the caramel off the bottom of the pan and kind of patting it onto the cake. But it was worth it, for this. This was wicked good. I'm going to be working on this recipe, we'll see what happens. The pecans and berries were a great addition, but I might try it with mixed berries next time. I bet bananas and walnuts would be good. Or vanilla in the caramel and chocolate chips in the cake...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Barbecue Pulled Beef

3.5 lbs chuck roast
2 tsps liquid smoke

1 tbl brown sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsps salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

1/2 cup ketchup

Rub the roast with the liquid smoke. Combine all the other ingredients except ketchup, reserving 1.5 tsps, and rub them evenly over the roast. Wrap the roast loosely (but tightly sealed to keep in the juices) in foil and cook at 275 for 3-4 hours. Remove the beef from the foil, reserving the juices. Pour the juices into a gravy separator and separate out the fat. If there aren't enough juices to come over the spout of the separator, add some water. Pour the juices into a sauce pot that's big enough to hold all the beef. Add the ketchup and reserved spice rub, then reduce the sauce till it's quite thick and the flavors have mingled, stirring occasionally. While the sauce is reducing shred the beef, discarding any fat. Add the shredded beef and mix it to combine. Let it cook over medium-low heat for a couple minutes to heat it through and let the sauce caramelize a bit. Serve hot.


Crap, I'm running out of stuff to make this way! I've already done chicken and pork, now beef. I'm going to have to start doing exotic things soon, like emu or bison. Mmmm, barbecue pulled bison.


Sorry, I was somewhere else for a minute there. Ok, it's no secret that I love barbecue pulled stuff (it's also no secret that I have no interest in quibbling over the definition of barbecue, so consider this the mandatory "don't waste your breath telling me this isn't REAL barbecue, because I don't give a s#!t" disclaimer.). This particular version isn't that different from my pulled pork, except that it's beef and I rubbed the roast with liquid smoke before the spice rub. And the spice rub is ever so slightly different too, but not that much. No cumin, added onion powder, changed some measurements. That's it really. But the flavor is very different, especially since I used a chuck roast. You could also use a brisket if you wanted, but I had a chuck roast in the freezer. And it worked out really well, so I would probably do it with the chuck again. The strong, beefy flavor wasn't overpowered by all the spices and the big vein of fat kept it nice and moist during the long, slow cooking. Plus all that fat helped it come apart really easily in the end. So, here's what I did.

First I took a big chunk of chuck. Don't worry, most of that fat is going to be tossed out in the end. Well, what doesn't melt and soak into the meat that is. Which is why it's so damn good. Next I rubbed it with some liquid smoke. I didn't really measure it, I just used enough to give it a light coating. It gave it a nice, smoky flavor. Then, the spice rub. I liked this rub for beef, but I don't think I'd use it on chicken. Leaving out the cumin lets the meat's flavor come through a lot more (cumin being so powerful), which is good when the meat has lots of flavor. When I make pulled chicken it's with boneless, skinless breasts, so all the flavor is coming from the rub. Anyway, rub the rub, but keep one and a half teaspoons of it aside for the sauce. Don't be shy with it, there's a lot of meat there.Then wrap it loosely in foil (but seal it tightly, you don't want the juices escaping), put it in a rimmed baking dish, just in case (I used a jelly roll pan), and into the oven for three or four hours. I think I had it in for three and a half. You'd think after all this time I'd start paying more attention to times, since I almost always say something like "I wasn't paying attention, so I don't know how long it was in for" with recipes like this. But I don't. Ah well. When it's done, take it out and plop it into a large bowl. It's not very pretty, but man does it smell good. Let it cool a bit before you shred it. This gives you time to deal with the juices. Mmmm, beefy. There's a lot of fat in there. You want that gone. I use a gravy separator, but I didn't get a good picture of it. I also added some water to bring the juices above the little spout hole thingy. The water didn't affect the flavor since I reduced it a lot. Which is the next thing, pour the juices into a sauce pot and reduce them a bit. Then add the reserved spice rub and the ketchup. You could easily use pureed tomatoes or canned plain tomato sauce in this, but I didn't feel like opening up a can to use half of it. Now let it simmer to reduce to a thick sauce and to let the flavors mingle. I've always been amused by that phrase "let the flavors mingle". I picture tiny cocktail parties, jars of spices in wee dresses and suits, drinking little martinis, spreading gossip.

"Did you hear? Cilantro and Cumin are breaking up!"
"Oh no! What will happen to their baby, Adobo?"
"I hear she's going to live with her Uncle Coriander down in Arizona."

Am I the only one? I am? Ok, well, we'll pretend that never happened then. So, while the sauce is reducing, shred the beef. Discard any big pieces of fat (and there will be some big pieces of fat). Also stir the sauce occasionally, you don't want it to burn. When the sauce has reduced, toss the meat in and stir it up. Let it cook for a bit so the meat absorbs some of the sauce and it caramelizes just a bit. Then that's it. Except for taking blurry pictures.Toss it on a roll (or some fresh french bread, if you happen to have some) and mow. This is a seriously beefy, tasty, filling sandwich.


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