Monday, March 9, 2009

What we have been up to!

I have not blogged in a long time! Erin has entered her third tri-mester and we found out she has gestational diabetes! This will be making quite a change in our diets and our cooking! Basically she needs to stay away from sugars and keep track of her carbohydrate intake. We went to a class at Sharp Mary Birch this morning and got some good tips!

The other thing I have been doing on the weekends is:

Working on the baby's room! As you can see above we are doing wainscoting all they way around the room with chair molding and new base boards. We also did crown moulding all around the top. In the top picture you can see we cased the window and built a bigger window sill. The bottom is the other wall we finished! So we have two walls completely done with one more long wall and a short wall to go. The other thing we did is new casing around the door and added casing around the closet which has no doors. We plan to leave the closet doors off and add some type of shelving inside. Will post more pics as we get closer!

As far as cooking we did make some pork chops last night. I just made a quick paste with the following:

1Tbls Maldin's Salt

2-3 Tbls Fresh Rosemary

2 tsp salt

1 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Just mixed them all together in my motar and ground them toghether with the pestle until a thick paste was formed! We rubbed it on the pork chops and let them sit for about an hour then grilled them up! Gave a real light rosemary taste. They were wonderful!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Slow-Cooker Chili Con Carne

Erin and I had a real quiet weekend. We went bowling with some friends on Friday to celebrate my 40th birthday which was last Wednesday. Saturday was spent around the house recovering from Friday, for me at least. My brother in law Owen came over so we could layout a plan for the babies room. We start painting next weekend, wains coating and trim the weekend after that and we end it all up with carpet on the final weekend. Should be quite a project. Can not wait to use me new Mitre Saw!!!

My sister has been sick so we decided to bring her family dinner on Sunday night. We have been buying Cooks Illustrated at our local Costco whenever we see a new one. This is our favorite cooking magazine. The recipes are great. They going into detail about why they chose what they did for the recipe. They also always put a side dish with the recipe. The one we just picked up was titled "Soups and Stews". They chili made it on the cover!

We went to the store Sunday morning to pick up ingredients. We did not need much, we has almost everything in house! I did make a call to Bishers (butcher) to see if he had boneless beef chuck eye roasts he could trim for me. Randy confirmed he had them. So after the market we went to see Randy and explain what we needed. He sliced one into 1-1/4" cubes, and took the other sliced it in half lengthwise then made 3/4" cubes. We then headed back home to start cooking!

Here is the recipe and detailed instructions:

6 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
5 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 (3-1/2 to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck eye roast, fat trimmed, 1 roast cur into 1-1/4" cubes, the other cut into 3/4" cubes.
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3 medium onions, chopped medium
3 medium jalapeno chiles. stemmed and minced
6 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
8 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press(about 8 teaspoons)
3 (16oz) cans pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Chuck eye roasts are fatty, so don't be surprised if you trim off a pound or more from each one. You should have 5-6 pounds of meat when you start the recipe. Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapenos canned in red sauce called adobo. They are available in the Mexican food section of most supermarkets. This chili is authentically spicy; for milder chili, reduce the chipotles and jalapenos by half.

Browning the meat and sauteing the vegetables and spices before they go in the slow cooker brings out their flavors. If you would rather not do this in the morning, you can complete this step the night before. Prepare the recipe through step 3. Instead transferring the meat, vegetables, and other chili ingredients to the slow cooker, refrigerate in separate air tight containers. In the morning transfer everything to the slow cooker, The cooking time will run to the high end of the range given in the recipe.

1.) Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tortillas, overlapping them as necessary, and cook until blistered on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining tortillas. Tear tortillas into 2-inch pieces and combine with 2 cups chicken broth in microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high until tortillas are saturated, 2-3 minutes. Puree mixture in blender or food processor until smooth, then transfer to slow cooker insert. Add tomatoes and chipotles to blender or processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to slow-cooker insert along with remaining cup chicken broth and brown sugar.

2. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown 1/3 of the meat thoroughly on all sides 8-10 minutes. Transfer browned beef to slow cooker, return skillet to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 teaspoons more oil and second batch of beef. Transfer to slow cooker insert and repeat with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef (NOTE: it took us 4-5 batches in our LeCruset). Transfer to slow cooker. Add 1/4 cup water to skillet, scraping up any browned bits and return skillet to medium high heat. Cook until almost all water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer skillet contents to slow-cooker insert and wipe skillet dry with paper towel.

3. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, jalapenos and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder ans cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until spices are deeply fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Transfer vegetables to slow cooker insert. Add remaining 2 tablespoons water to skillet, scrape up any spices, and transfer contents to slow cooker insert. Stir ingredients to combine thoroughly.

4. Set slow cooker to high, cover, and cook until tender 6 to 7 hours. (Alternatively, cook on low for 9-10 hours) Stir in beans (if using) and cook 15 minutes. Stir in oregano and add salt and pepper to taste; serve. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for several months.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Grilled Hamburgers and Parmesan Fries

Erin and I grilled hamburgers with some friends the weekend of the last Chrgers game. We ended up havin some left over so we froze them and decided to have Jim and Sue (Dad and Stepmom) over for dinner on Sunday. We found the recipe on We had a lot of comments from everybody!


Uncle Bill's Hamburger Patties

2 lbs lean ground beef
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup crushed soda cracker or fine dry breadcrumb (we used crushed saltines)
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons hickory barbecue sauce

Mix all the ingredients together and make patties. Grill them they way you like them. We did bacon, cheddar cheese or jalapeno jack. The burgers had good flavor and stayed together on the grill. I think the saltines gave it an interesting texture. Sometimes you would see little chunks of cracker as you bit into it.

Parmesan French Fries

from Cuisine at Home:

3-4 Russet potatoes cut into wedges (lengthwise) makes about 8 per potato
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tbls paprika
1 tbls cayenne pepper
salt to taste
3 tbls olive oil
3 tbls chopped Parsley

Preheat oven to 475 degress with baking sheet in oven. Mix parmesan, paprika, cayenne, salt in a small bowl. Cut potatoes and place in a large bowl. Pour 3 tbls of olive oil over potatoes and mix. Add parmesan mixture and continue to mix until potatoes have a good coating of the mix. Remove tray from oven and brush lightly with oil. Place fries on sheet and bake for 15 minutes, remove tray and flip potatoes and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove potatoes and put in another bowl and toss with chopped parsley.


In a letter sent Wednesday to PBAU (Palm Beach Atlantic University) President Dr. David Clark, PETA urged the school to change its mascot from the Sailfish to Sea Kitten “to reflect the gentle nature of its current marine namesake.” The suggested name change is meant to promote empathy for fish and other marine animals.

Below quote from Ashley Byrne, PETA campaign coordinator:

“If Sailfish became Sea Kitten and everyone in town started calling fish sea kittens, fewer of these gentle animals would be violently killed for food, painfully hooked for sport or cruelly confined to aquariums,” said PETA’s “Save the Sea Kittens”

I do not even know what to say!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Crock-Pot Pulled Pork

Erin and I have done this recipe 5-6 times now and it always turns out great! This time I tried a home made BBQ Sauce to drizzle over the pork before topping sandwiches with bun. I am not going to post that recipe because I am still reffing it. The BBQ sauce was good, but needs a little work. Basic ingredients were sauteed onion and garlic, ketchup, mustard, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, chili powder, water, vinegar.

2 onions, quartered
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 4 to 6 lb boneless pork butt or shoulder roast
2/3 cup cider vinegar
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Hamburger buns
Cole Slaw (optional)

Place onions in stoneware. Combine brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper rub over roast. Place roast over onions. Combine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic salt and cayenne stir to mix well. Drizzle 1/4 of vinegar mixture over roast. Cover and refrigerate remaining vinegar mixture. Cover cook on Low 10 to 12 hours or on High 5 to 6 hours.(NOTE: I used two 2-3lb and it only took 3-4 hours on low) Remove meat and onions and drain. Chop or shred meat and chop onions. (I leave the onions and sauce in the crock pot and remove meat and pull with a fork and put pork back in and mix with onions and sauce) Serve meat and onions on buns. If desired, top sandwiches with coleslaw. Pass remaining vinegar mixture to drizzle over sandwiches. or you your favorite BBQ sauce!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dinner at our Parents House

Tonight Erin and I had dinner at my parents house(Jim and Sue). It was one of the best dinners we have had in a long time. The fact is we do not go over there for dinner as often as we should. I got my love of cooking from my dad. When I was a child he worked a lot and my mom did most of the cooking. After the divorce I lived with my dad and he was always expiramenting in the kitchen. The two things I remember the most about these years, when I was finishing high school and before I left for Chico, was him making me chicken fried steaks for breakfast and his popcorn and white wine diet! the chicken fried steaks were awesome (dad, you need to make them for me again) and the popcorn and wine diet was an excuse to drink wine! Just kidding! I remember he did slim down around that time.

As usual they had a great menu planned. We had fried green tomatoes made with fresh green heirloom tomatoes from the Poway Farmers Market. My dad dipped them in egg, then a mixture of corn meal, flour, salt and pepper. I do not like tomatoes but tried these and they were really good! Dish number two was a porcinni mushroom risotto. My dad has a college buddy (Glen Lucci) that ran a B&B in Mendocino, Ca with his wife. My dad sends them wine and in return they send a great selection of dehydrated mushrooms from the northern California coast. The main course was a flank steak in what my dad called a "California Marinade" which is a mixture of paprika, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. There may be more, I will be getting the recipe from him and I will post it here! The last dish was a great salad with greens, tomatoes, and beets from the Poway Farmers Market with fresh arugula from our garden!

Desert??? We are all to full! We did find some room for some lemon cookies they had bought from Von's.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Smoked Chicken Breast for Those Bored with Grilling, Frying or Baking!

Today we decided to break out the smoker that Erin's Aunt Jane from South Carolina gave us. We have not used it much in the last 6 months. I had defrosted 3 bone in chicken breasts the night before to use some time this week. I had never smoked chicken before so I decide to give it a try. I also had a pork loin roast that I threw in so we could make sandwiches during the week!

Wood chips used: Mesquite and pecan (no reason, just what I had on hand)

The first thing I did was mix up a quick rub.

3 tbls brown sugar
4 tbls paprika
1 tbls garlic powder
1/2 tbls celery salt
1 tbls kosher salt
1 tbls cayenne pepper

I have made a few rubs from recipes but never from scratch. I know all the different ingredients that can be used so I felt pretty comfortable throwing one together. I rubbed the chicken and pork about 1 hour before putting in the smoker. I put both on the smoker for about 3-4 hours. For some reason my smoker runs a little hot. I would like it to be 175-200 degrees but usaully runs in the 250-275 degree range. I pulled the pork of at about 155 degrees and the chicken at about 160 degrees.

Both the chicken and the pork had a great smokey flavor with a little heat on the back end. Erin said it was just yummy! The chicken was incredible! Especially the skin. I know it is bad for you but as you can see from the picture below it had a nice crust on it.

Erin ended up making a smoked chicken quesadilla with cheddar and dipped it in a pepper sauce we had. I did the same thing with the pork. Like I said above we will make pork sandwiches for lunch this week. We are going to use the chicken to make smoked chicken salad for sandwiches.

Side note: We planted some Arugula for the winter and it is growing like crazy. Whenever I am outback I have to pull a couple leaves and munch on them! We like to mix it with spinach for our salads.