Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pretty dang yummy Baked Potato Soup w/Cheese

There was a little snow storm here and the wifey tried to get to work but 40 minutes later, was back home, having only gone a few miles. It was very cold too, so I whipped this up, and it's a keeper. Thanks always to the Internet for the inspiration and basic recipe!

Yields: 4 Servings
Total time: Less than an hour from prep to serve

  • 1/3 Cup Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Half & Half
  • 1 Cup Homemade broth (beef, chicken, whatever)
  • (if you're lacking the broth & half/half above, just make sure you have enough liquid)
  • 2 Large baked potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
  • 1 TB chopped garlic
  • 1 Tsp Seasoned Salt or S&P
  • 3 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • 3 slices (equal amount) of diced ham
  • 1 Cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Sour cream
  • Chives & Tarragon optional as garnish
  1. In a large stockpan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour slowly until smooth and bubbly.
  2. Gradually stir in the liquids, whisking until thickened (a few minutes)
  3. Stir in the taters, garlic, salt, and half the meats. Bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat and simmer 10-20 minutes until you think to yourself, "Damn, that looks good!"
  5. Stir in the sour cream and cheese until melted.
  6. Serve in big bowls, top with ham, bacon, chives and tarragon if desired.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving's coming!

This year will be Thanksgiving #2 here in Reno/Sparks, and I'm looking forward to it! Last year I deep fried a turkey, my 2nd attempt I believe, and was so miffed about it I didn't blog. I overcooked it for one thing, but just overall it wasn't all that dang tasty like everyone raves about. Chicken on the other hand seem to be better, more juicy and tasty. Maybe it's the size of the bird, I think both times I had a 20lb plus creature.

This year I'm going back to traditional, brining it and doing it in the oven. The spread should include the standards and a few family items. Turkey, taters, cranberry sauce (I'm going non-canned this year), creamed sweet corn (PA Dutch style), dare I try home made buns?, gravy of course, and Tracy will make a pumpkin and probably another pie. Fun fun!

For the first time since we moved here and almost two years since we've seen them, my dad and step are coming to town. It'll be nice to see them, but I'm not exactly sure what to do with them while they're here.

Maybe we'll break out Twister....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meet Mario, a sausage lover who's worried his lover is tired of the same old grind...

It's no secret I'm a fan of stupid TV like COPS, America's Most wanted, high speed car chase type stuff, etc etc. Good wholesome couch potato stuff. Cheaters cracks me up with their cheesy lines, like "A computer programmer calculating his fiance is getting her 'hard drive' from another source". Cracks me up. They use words like gumshoe, watering hole and eatery. "A pastry chef who suspects her lover is getting her buns fluffed elsewhere." Hee hee.

ANYWAY! So this past weekend's experiment was two fold. Could I make my own tasty sausage, and would I save money? Would it be worth it?

The first thing I did was finally buy a grinder for my KitchenAid. They're not exactly cheap, but I had a $10 card for Kohl's and was able to walk out with one for under $50.00. The next step is of course meat. My local grocer seems to always have meat red-tagged, 50% off or $2.00 off or whatever. The day I looked, I hit the jackpot with pork chops, pork loans, a small pork shoulder and some pork stew meat, all marked down. All told, I spent $11.21 on 5.97 pounds of meat. After bones and trimming, it was right at $2.00 a pound. Not cheap by any means, but not bad!

The first step you do is to chop things up in strips or small chunks, then partially freeze it. This allows for a cleaner grind, less gumming up. I ground it up without spices, and here's what it looked like:

After everything was ground, I sprinkled the following "Italian Sausage" recipe on top, and worked it in, then ran it through the grinder again.

2 tbsp. table salt
1 tbsp. fennel seed, cracked
1/2 tbsp. coriander
1 1/2 tbsp. paprika ( I ran out, so i used some taco seasoning with paprika #1)
3/4 tsp. red chili pepper, flakes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water (didn't use)

The sample patty:

Overall? Success! Plenty of things to change, it was more like breakfast sausage, needed more fennel, less salt, less sugar, and more fat as I used pretty lean meat. But it was FUN and I'll do it again.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Canning Apples

Apples really aren't my favorite fruit, honesty can't say I have one! Blueberries maybe. But when the opportunity came up and another couple here in the area Jed & Ayla brought over buckets, buckets and more buckets of small apples, various kinds, we make a LOAD of jelly, jam and apple sauce. Was a fun and tiring day, but just look at the results!

Things I miss the most

Has it really been 3 months? Sheesh, blogging is good for the soul, why don't I keep up!

Some (foodie) things we miss from Kansas City, and thanks to....

  1. Spanish Gardens Taco sauce, Mild. Thanks Kevin & Suzie! Thanks Bill!
  2. The Squeal Hog Rub. Thanks Joan! Thanks Mitch!
  3. Good old KC BBQ. We especially miss OK Joe's and their Z-Man sandwich. Thanks Paul for the BBQ package!
  4. Farmland Ciderhouse bacon. No one can seem to find it, SIGH!
  5. Westport Flea Market burger. None rival it here.
  6. Mi Cocina. I just don't know why those were such tasty tacos.
  7. BBQ in the hood. Good times.....

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bacon & Eggs

How come you rarely hear about people eating soft boiled eggs, or poached? Even hard boiled is semi rare. "How ya want your eggs?" What are your choices? Well, eating out it's sunny side up, over-easy, scrambled, or what else? Are there other choices? Well done? I dunno. One of these days I'll ask for hard boiled at Denny's, think I'll get a blank stare? At least at home you can choose to add some fun in to the scrambly-ness, like cheese, garlic, ham etc. Or an omelet! There's a blank slate! My personal favorite there is just toasted garlic and a variety of cheeses, mmmm. Swiss, American and a surprise. Maybe some ham.

We all know the Internet is our friend, so a quick type in Google reveals baked, shirred, boiled (soft and hard), coddled, pickled, deviled, fried, poached, scrambled, and omelets. Seems like there should be more.

So today I made soft boiled eggs. They really truly just have a different taste & texture than fried. I really don't like the crunchy edges of fried eggs when they're done a little too long, and they gotta be runny. Soft boiled eggs are different, and I can't verbalize why. They remind me of Ma, who used to cook them for me when I was a kid. Maybe that's it.

Oops. Breaking one causes a mess:
Let it go though, it'll cook.

Yummy. Nice and warm with salt & pepper.
Here's an opinionated statement. I think the best way to cook bacon is to BAKE it. Surely that's where the name came from. But seriously, if you like limp greasy chewy bacon, don't try this, but if you've never tried this, give it a shot. If you don't have one of these racks, use that two part roaster pan that came with your oven, or risk it without. But by God PUT IT ON A PAN! Sorry....... Cook at about 300 degrees for about half an hour, but keep an eye on it, when it's done it tends to burn fast. Not only will your house smell like love (love smells like bacon), but you'll get nice and crispy tasty bacon strips that are perfect for breakfast, snacking on, dog treats, or sammiches!. Yum!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Brisket leftovers - Z-Man sammiches

The main reason we cook brisket is to make Z-Man's, a sammich from Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City. Pictures speak for themselves, tasty! Brisket, BBQ sauce, Provolone cheese (though we used Havarti this time) and onion rings all on a thick soft bun.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Great Brisket Project 2008 Part II

Ah, it was a good one. Tracy claimed it was the best one yet. Here it is on the grill after about 4 hours:

Getting ready to pull it off, fork tender! It was on for about 8 hours, I used a remote digital thermometer until it got to about 188 degrees, fire was in the 250-300 degrees for most of the time.
It sat wrapped in foil for about 30 minutes before I cut it up. It was super moist and literally fell apart:

Here's dinner, plain and simple brisket, no sauce, and my favorite cheesy hash brown potatoes, thanks to my honey.

I chopped up the leftovers with a cleaver, mixed in all the fatty goodness with the crust & spices. Mmmmmmmm

Brisket.... Fire stated 7AM!

Using charcoal of course, adding some hickory (thanks Paul) and apple wood (thanks Pa).

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Great Brisket Project 2008 Part I

So it's been awhile since I made a nice falling apart brisket, and despite the crappy cool rainy weather, Memorial Day weekend is a good time. I bought a nine pound chunk (smallest they had) and have cut off about 4 pounds to make fresh ground beef, something Butchy told me about and another project for another day.... maybe tomorrow? I spiced up the bad boy, and have used "the tool" to tenderize it a bit. Spice rubs this time are a combo of KC Cowtown's "The Squeal" rub (kinda sweet, brown sugar a high ingredient; Thanks Joan!) and a semi local (Washington state) Johnny's Seasoning Salt (salty, peppery, garlicky). It'll sit until Sunday morning in the fridge, I hope to get it on bright and early before 8AM to give it a full 10 hours or more. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where's Hef?

Ah spaghetti!! One of my favorite dishes, especially with homemade sauce with fresh basil and good sausage. Eating this tasty batch, something caught my eye. See it?

Look closer!

A BUNNY!!! I got me a little Playboy bunny in my sauce. Golly Gee!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Need inspiration!

I've failed lately on experimenting. You haven't seen my talk about deep frying a turkey, cause both were disappointing. Sure sure, they pulled pork a week ago was yummy, but since then, the best thing I've had has been Tracy's Scalloped potatoes on Easter Sunday. Mmmmm. The ham was good, but it was as expected and certainly not a challenge. Last night's experiment all sounded good, turned out not-great. I had onions, garlic, capers, broth, wine and more in a large glass dish, and had chicken drumsticks dipped in milk & egg and coated with a flour & rosemary potato chip batter. Baked it, it kinda looked good. Turned out? Boring. Messy and boring, those two together made for disappointment, and it was a LOT of work.

Some friends of ours cooked a beef tenderloin for dinner Saturday night, tasty tasty, and has me in the mood for more beef. I'm in the need to be inspired. Help me!

Look at my garden grow!

Wow! Just three weeks from the last pic/post, and I wish I had taken daily pictures! Just wow has this thing grown. We've picked basil more than once, dill and the cilantro is like a tree cause we made guacamole TWICE! It's already extended as tall as it will get, and I'm absolutely unsure of what to do with the mint. Tea anyone?

Friday, March 7, 2008

As seen on TV!

Happy birthday to me!!! Thanks Ma!

This is one of those things I never imagined I would buy for myself, but as a present? You bet! and now that I have one, I'm surprised I didn't get one earlier. Kinda like the high speed Internet, you didn't now how cool it was until ya did.

We got basil, parsley, dill, mint, purple basil, chives and cilantro! The basil sprouted in 3 days, THREE days! Can you believe it? All of it was up in a week, now we're on day 25 and I expect to pick off some basil leaves any day now.