Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Brief Hiatus

Yep, I'm taking a little break from blogging. It's not completely voluntary. You see, my camera has decided it doesn't need to work right most of the time anymore. I made a roast and chocolate monkey bread yesterday and didn't get a single picture that I could use. There is definitely something wrong with the little device and it just needs to go. So I figure if I'm going to get a new one I should really just get a good one. I'm not going to go nuts, but a little money saving time is going to be needed. I've been wanting to do a little remodeling around here too. I don't think I'll be gone long, probably just a week or two.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Roast Beef Sandwich

Yeah, I know. Another brief, non recipe post. But today, possibly as you're reading this, I'm making another roast beef so I can do a good post on it. And something else. Something much more... else. And it's going to be thrilling, I promise.

But the sandwich was good. I don't remember exactly what I put on this particular one, but I like just a little mayo and some kind of green leafy thing on roast beef sandwiches. I usually don't mess around too much with it, especially when it's really good stuff like this. My girlfriend puts mayo and pickles. What do you put on roast beef sandwiches?

Sunday Cat

I apologize for not having a real post ready. And again for not getting one ready now. Here is a kitten.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Product Review: Napa Valley Bistro Tomato Sauce

Ok, first off: I've never been a jarred sauce fan. I sometimes use the little cans of tomato sauce in recipes, but I don't think that really counts since it doesn't really have seasoning to speak of. And I don't think they are really meant to be used as is on stuff... at least I hope not. I usually find the stuff that you're supposed to use as is either too bland, too sweet or a combination of the two (or some other horrid infraction). Plus I really enjoy making tomato sauce, so why would I buy it? Well, for convenience I suppose. But I never did. Then Napa Valley Bistro wants to send me some free samples. It's been years since I've had a jarred sauce, so I figure what the hell. Plus if all their claims are true, it's probably at least palatable. So how was it? It was surprisingly good. It's not how I would season it, but if I wanted sauce seasoned how I do it why would I bother to buy it? It had a very strong flavor, you could really taste the garlic, tomatoes and wine, but it wasn't boozy. It claims to be made with fresh herbs and I totally believe it. It didn't taste anything like the jarred sauces I have had before. Here's what I did with it.

My girlfriend wanted a meat sauce, so I browned up some hamburger and just dumped the jar of sauce into the pan to heat up. I made some ziti and portioned her out some. I didn't really want just a bowl full of pasta. I wanted baked ziti. This isn't the way I normally make baked ziti (which I've made some changes too, I need to update that post), but it's a fine method. I just mixed up some sauce and pasta, covered it with mozzarella, sprinkled on some parm and baked it at 450 till it was nice and brown. Since the sauce had such a strong flavor I wanted to see how it hold up to all that cheese. It held up just fine. It was even better the second day.But would I actually pay money for it? Yeah, I think I would. I could see having a jar of this in the pantry for nights when I don't have the time or inclination to make sauce myself.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Only Two Words Can Describe It

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monkey Bread

I saw this over at Pioneer Woman and had to make it. Promptly. So I did. You've already seen this shot. It's monkey bread. And it is just as glorious as Ryan said would be. It's like the biggest, stickiest sticky bun you've ever had. And it's so easy you could cry. The tears will probably be for you figure though, you will loose it if you eat much of this stuff. Because it's got so much butter in it. Which is why it's so damn good. This version of monkey bread is made with biscuits from a tube, which I happened to have on hand when PWs original post went up.

But here's the thing. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not posting the recipe. That's because I pretty much did it exactly like Ryan did over at PWC. I changed the amounts since I was making a smaller version, but other than that I didn't do anything to make it my own. Plus, I apparently forgot to take pictures of most of the prep work. Seriously, here's the keepers from the stuff I actually took. Melting butter and sugar. Good start. That's a whole stick of butter there. Pouring the butter and sugar over the pieces of biscuit. And the biscuit bits swimming in the stuff. That's it for the prep. Kind of sad. But I will make up for it by posting a ludicrous number of shots of the finished product. I got tons of these. Heh.This stuff is pretty photogenic. All that glossy caramel and sweet, sweet cinnamony bread stuff. But what I'm going to do next is make some changes and do a new post with recipes and actual instructions. You know, like I do. I just had to share this because it was so good. How good is it really? Well, see this crater in the side? I made it with my face.

Gonna Be Late Today...

but here's a taste of what's going up.Later.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Roast Beef, Take One

Yep, take one. Until just a week or so ago I was a roast beef virgin. I had never made a beef roast other than pot roast. Large cuts that need to be timed carefully intimidated me, you see. They tend to be expensive. Which makes screwing them up much worse than, say, some chicken breasts and I have a tendency to overcook things. Plus I don't have a very good thermometer (I really need to get an instant read one) and you shouldn't really cut into it to take a peek to see how it's doing. So, I avoided oven roasts for years. Then my girlfriend came home with a three and a half pound chunk of top round roast. "Look what was on sale!", she said. Oooo-kay. Well, it's too lean to do pot roast, it really needed to be done in the oven. So I did it. And it came out spectacular. It had a great crust and rich, beefy flavor. You can't really tell from the shot, but it was just medium (my girlfriend isn't a medium rare fan). Unfortunately, almost none of my pictures came out. I don't know what happened, but almost all the shots were wicked blurry or dark. So I'm not going to post the whole dealie with this one. But I'm going to be making another one soon and I will time it to get better light and maybe put some fresh batteries in my camera before I start. I pretty much used this method from The Hungry Mouse, with a few minor changes. But like I said, I'll post a recipe after I make it again. This is the roast I made that roast beef hash with, not to mention several really good sandwiches.

Since this post is a bit scanty, here's a behind the scenes shot: The real Bob isn't usually interested when I'm taking pictures, but something about this time got his attention. Can't imagine what...

Remember what I was saying about not having a good thermometer? Check this out: I don't know what temperature you're supposed to cook prok too, but I'm never cooking chicken to 185.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Cats

No big post today with lots of words and stuff. Because I'm wicked tired. Like this.And this.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Product Review: Amazing Tastes, Burgers

Amazing Taste seasoning packets have been all over the food blog world for a while now. For those of you who don't know, Amazing Taste packs claim to season and tenderize and mostly come in protein specific blends. Like beef, chicken, pork, etc. I got some samples a while back and recently tried out the one for burgers. I didn't do anything fancy with them, just mixed a heaping half tablespoon of seasoning into a pound of beef. Then I fried them in a steel pan. A little cheese, some spinach, some mayo. They were good. I liked how the seasoning wasn't overwhelming but complimented the meat. The packet proclaims it's a delicate blend of onion and garlic and I'd say that's about right. I didn't notice any particular tenderizing going on, but I cook my burgers well done. I would be a little nervous if a powder, used in such a small amount, made them tender. Final verdict: for 99 cents, you can't go wrong if you want a quickie seasoning for your burgers. The flavor is good and the price is right. I plan on using more of the different types and I will post about it as I do. I have a plan for the poultry one...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Roast Beef Hash

(all measurements are approximate)
2 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and boiled
1 1/2 cups cubed roast beef
1/2 cup diced onion
salt and pepper

Preheat about a 1 1/2 tbls of oil in a nonstick skillet to medium heat. Cut the potato into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Add them to the pan and stir them gently to coat. Let them sit for a minute or two. Add the onion and stir gently to combine. Let them sit for another couple minutes. Add the roast beef and stir gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let them sit, flipping with a spatula every few minutes and pressing them slightly to maximize contact with the heat. Do this until they develop a brown crispy crust on most sides. Serve immediately.


Hash is a great way to use leftovers. If you have a couple of boiled or baked potatoes from the night before and a chunk of some kind of meat you are good to go. Some people like their hash smooth, I like it chunky. I used some leftover roast beef from a piece of beef I roasted a while ago, I'll be posting about that next week. But first, the hash.

This hash was wicked simple. Just potato, onion and roast beef. If you wanted to go nuts you could add whatever you wanted, hash is a concept not an absolute. The potatoes were just boiled and then cut into half inch cubes, the onion is just diced sweet onion, and the roast beef is cubed like the potatoes. You could cut the pieces as small as you want or even run it through a meat grinder or food processor. I've seen recipes that do that but like I said, I like it chunky. Now while I was prepping that stuff I had my skillet on low with a chunk of fat that I had trimmed off the roast rendering in it. Because, well, beef fat is good. I didn't get quite enough before I was ready to start so I wound up tossing in a little bacon grease too. The key to getting hash brown is enough fat. You don't need tons, but you should be able to ever so lightly coat pretty much everything. Now first I turned the heat up to medium, removed the chunk of fat, let it get hot, and added my potatoes to give them a head start on the browning and make sure they were coated in fat. Well browned potatoes are the best. After they had sat for a couple minutes I added the onion and stirred it gently in. After that had sat for a couple minutes I added the beef and then stirred it in. At this point I also started squishing it down a bit with the spatula. You don't want to mash the potatoes, but you do want to get as much stuff touching the hot skillet as possible. This is the other key to good browning. And browning = flavor, as you all know. Some of the potatoes will break a bit and have little pieces come off. That's fine, they will turn into little browned chunks of flavorful loveliness. So, you should flip the hash every once in a while, pressing down gently between each one. Add some salt and pepper at this point, if you like. Or you can wait till it's done and add it to taste then. If it's not browning enough leave it alone longer. If it's starting to burn, turn down the heat and maybe even pull the pan to an unused burner for a minute. Just let it sit, flip and squish. Here it's just getting going. And just about finished. So that's it, roast beef hash. All kinds of things would be good in this, like peppers, a bit of cream, top it with cheese at the end, other veggies like broccoli or carrots. A bit of garlic would have been nice too. I will be making it again and changing it up, but it was wicked good just as simple and straightforward as this. I'm entering them in Mays Potato Ho Down too. That's really why I'm posting them before the roast beef itself, to make sure I get it in on time. Heh.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lemon Cupcakes with Champagne Glaze

for the cupcakes:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 large lemon
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

for the glaze:
1 tbl butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-4 tbls champagne

(makes about a dozen)

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and mix well. Add the sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Prep a cupcake pan with liners and dole out the batter evenly between them. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven till a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

For the glaze:
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Add the sugar and champagne and mix to combine. Stir over low heat till the sugar is dissolved. Dip cupcake tops in the glaze.


First things first, props: I got the cupcake recipe from here. I was looking for a nice, simple (and small) lemon cupcake recipe and it fit the bill. Most of the recipes I saw wanted three eggs (making it hard to halve the recipe) and made at least two dozen cupcakes. I didn't need anything like that many, it was just a little something to celebrate my girlfriends first week at her new job. I changed it a tiny bit, swapping out zest for extract and making them full size cupcakes instead of minis. Other than that, it's the same thing. They came out well, although the glaze I whipped up needs a little work. I used to make a champagne glaze that was devastating, but for some reason I can't remember it at all. So I tossed one together using tidbits from the internet (although this post at How to Cook Like Your Grandmother is what reminded me of the whole thing). It was ok. It tasted oddly like Swedish fish, sort of. Instead of like champagne, which was the goal of course. But it went well with lemon and it wasn't gross so it wasn't a fail. Allow me show you.

First, cupcakes. Sweet, cakey treasures, piping hot from their forty watt womb... er, sorry. Cartoons have warped me. These are not made in a Happy Cake Oven, they are made in a real oven. Which means we need to cream the butter and sugar. Once again I'm doing it by hand. I think I'm going to go so far as to throw out my hand mixer, it's a piece of crap and I never use it. Anyway, once that's done add the egg. Mix to combine. I added the vanilla to the zest a little earlier, my brother told me that the alcohol would pull out some of the oils and make it more lemony. Don't know if it worked, but it smelled awesome. So, then I added the sour cream, zest and vanilla. Again, mix to combine. Dry mix? Mix to combine. Now you could resist the urge to eat some of the sweet, lemony batter but I don't recommend it. In fact if you look at that picture you will see at least one finger swipe. I had to make sure it was good, you see. And it was. Now, portion the batter out evenly into your lined cupcake pan. I only got eleven, but that was plenty since it was just the two of us. Into the 350 degree oven till done, about twenty five minutes. I've found it's important to stick your thumb in at least one cupcake while pulling them out of the oven. If it was perfect, no one would believe it, right? Right. And that's that, except for the glaze. Which I didn't manage to get a single decent picture of while I was making it. Sorry. But since it's kind of a work in progress, I'll worry about it more next time I try it. Hopefully then it will come out better too. So, there it is. Lemon sour cream cupcakes with a champagne glaze. They were moist, delicious and for some reason very hard to get a really good, sharp picture of. I think it's all the light colors and shiny surfaces. Well, they tasted good, that's the most important thing. And they weren't all blurry in real life. Heh.


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