Monday, October 24, 2011

Some Recent Creations!

Hello fellow foodies, it has been a little too long since my last post so I decided I would just do a mashup of several of the new things we have tried lately. If you want any info on anything you see here, leave a comment with your requests.

 Homemade pizza!! Some friends of ours had us over for homemade pizza and gave us the leftover dough so we made our own a few nights later. Nothing beats the freshness of making your own pizza, plus you get to have exactly what you want on it. Try fresh dough and fresh ingredients next time you want pizza. I highly recommend fresh basil and mozzarella. You will be glad you tried it. Oh and get the good canned tomatoes, not the cheap  kind you use for day to day cooking.

 This on was an asparagus overload meal. Rotini pasta with orange bell pepper, asparagus, water chestnuts and shrimp. Also included was a side of steamed asparagus. I could eat asparagus all day every day so the double dip here doesn't bother me at all. I swore by canned asparagus most of my life, then I tried steaming fresh asparagus and realized how stupid I had been. If you are using canned asparagus in life, STOP IT NOW!!

 This beauty was a double whammy of habanero dishes.The first being a habanero lime chicken with a side of red bean and habanero curry rice. I was surprised at how not hot it was until the slow burn crept up on me. It was a fiery treat and surprisingly enough I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. I just like seeing the orange pieces of habanero floating around in all the cooking. You can see the chicken sitting in its marinade and then the stages of the rice and then finally a couple shots of the finished meal.

 This was another creative concoction using what we had left in the pantry. Whole wheat pasta, frozen corn, red and orange peppers and spicy sausage. There is nothing better than creating something out of leftover bits and pieces. Sure beats throwing stuff away. Top it with a little parmesan and you are set, leftover surprise. LOL

 This meal tested a new skill set so it was fun to try something new. This was a crab stuffed manicotti which baked in a bechamel sauce. Before this meal, the only sauces I had made came in packets. It wasn't hard, just required constant monitoring and whisking. It was a very rich meal and we paired it with steamed vegetables. You can see the sauce being created, the filling for the manicotti and then the finished results.

This was our most recent dinner creation, a lentil soup. The new and exciting part was that it was created without any recipe. Up until now, we had either used a recipe directly or added a thing or two to a recipe we found online. This however, was created purely on the fly. This was probably my favorite meal to make since it didn't have any rules on it. I just sauteed some celery, carrots and onion with a little bit of leftover salt pork. Then deglazed the pot with some dry white wine. Then I added the lentils, chicken stock and lots of spices. No real measurements just sort of eyeballed it. It turned out to be amazing if I do say so myself.

Finally this was something I saw on a friends Facebook post that looked incredible so I decided to make it too. Sopapilla cheesecake with apples. So thanks Eric from OKC!! Waiting until after dinner tonight to try it because I think if I tried a bite now, I would probably eat the whole thing in one sitting.
Ok everyone, I hope you enjoyed this quick rundown of what we have been making. I am still looking for new things to try, so if you have any suggestions please feel free to leave a comment and I will give it my best shot!! Thanks again for reading and I hope you found something that inspired your inner chef.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Food from our San Franciso trip

Hey everyone, I know I promised to blog all about or San Fran trip and I'm finally getting around to doing it. I decided to separate out our food journey to help decrease the massive size of the trip blog, so here it goes. Sorry again for the delay!!!

The first day we ate at this great Mexican place in the Embarcadero that had these amazing taco salads. Everything tasted so fresh, gotta love Cali for that. Then after that, as if we weren't completely full, we stopped at Bi-Rite and had some amazing ice cream. They make it all in house and have constantly revolving flavors which is nice. I had a scoop of salted caramel and a scoop of honey lavender. Honey lavender wouldn't be a normal choice of mine, but I figured I would probably never see a combination like that again so I went for it.

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Ok so the funny part about this picture isn't the lovely face that Jai is making, or the fact that we did in fact stop to eat inside CostCo,  check out the lady in the background. She bought a huge CostCo sized cobbler and was devouring it like it was her last meal. I can only guess that maybe she doesn't have the luxury of eating cobbler at home so she has to sneak to the snack bar in CostCo to get her sweets on.

Next on the list was The Yellow Submarine. It was a great little sandwich shop with tons of sandwich choices and lots of sides. I opted for the Philly cheesesteak with coleslaw and thinly sliced potatoes which were just thick enough to maintain the french fry texture but still look like a potato chip of sorts. There were only about 5 or 6 tables inside to eat at and there was a constant line at the counter so I can only assume we picked a winner. Once we got our food, that assumption was proven to be true. And come on who doesn't want to be able to say they were on the Yellow Submarine?

On our last full day we went walking yet again, because that's what you do there and found a greasy little Mexican restaurant called El Burrito Express, with 6 bar stools and a broke down counter to eat on. Once again they offered a million choices and I think we at them all. I had a quesadilla and Richard had a burrito and we split a bowl of carne asada fries smothered in anything you might ever put on a taco. Little did we know when we ordered that we would end up with 15 pounds of food. Being the professionals we are, we ate until we wanted to puke and then hauled the leftovers up the hill to consume later. 
  Our final morning  in town we were taken to Jim's Restaurant in the Mission District. Gotta get refueled for the flight home. Gotta love the size of this omelette and definitely love a place who understands what I mean by "make the hashbrows CRISPY". Great color on the toast too. I am convinced great diner food is a dying art  form, but Jim's restored my faith. AMEN!!
We ate so much food on this trip and had so many great meals prepared by our gracious hosts. I only wish I had planned better and took pictures of all of that as well. Oh well I guess there is always next time. Hopefully you enjoyed this brief culinary romp through San Fran as much as we did.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Breakfast in a glass.

Hey everyone, decided to use some of the frozen fruit that has been occupying space in the the freezer this morning so I opted for a smoothie type of concoction.Throw some ice, orange juice, protein powder and frozen berry mix in the blender and blast away. *POOF* Creamy frozen perfection!! Great for summer heat too, especially if it had a little vodka in it, but since its 9am, I will refrain for now. Enjoy!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Brisket Round 2

Time for our second attempt at a brisket. We changed things up a little this time. We marinated it overnight in a different marinade and then put a nice dry rub on it before putting it in the roaster to slow cook on Sunday. We reduced the liquid marinade down into a barbecue sauce to put on the brisket when it was done cooking. It was extra smokey this time, YUM!

This piece of meat was about half the size of last time so it didn't take nearly as long to cook. I grilled up corn on the cob that had soaked overnight in sugar water, which may sound odd but once you've had it, you won't think so. Soak them, slap them on the grill and let them get some grill marks, mmm mmm mmm.

As the brisket got closer to being done, we sauteed yellow squash and zucchini in some olive oil and herbs de provence with some salt and pepper until they were translucent and soft. Then toasted a dark olive bread until it was nice and crispy.

This brisket was much better than the first. I think it was the extra smokiness, you can never have enough smoke taste. It had a drier texture without being dry. More of a sliced brisket than a fall apart roast that the last one seemed more like. Don't get me wrong they were both good, this one was just better.

I think we will be giving it one more try before the 4th of July to lock down any little changes we need to make, stay tuned!! Thanks for reading. Hope I made you hungry.

If there is anything that you think of as too difficult to make, send me a comment and let me know. I think we are up for any challenge. Plus, once we have made it, we can share any tips and tricks we discovered while we made it. C'mon, I dare you to challenge us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brisket... Plain and Simple!

As we all know, barbeque season is upon us and in preparation for the 4th of July festivities, Richard decided it was time to test run the brisket. So enjoy this quick peek at test 1 of summer brisket.

Went to Kroger and found a nice 12lb brisket and picked that bad boy for our own. Bought it home and made the marinade and dry rub and let it soak for about 36 hours. Gotta let all that flavor soak in good and deep. Richard got the recipe from an old college professor of his. Apparently, it was quite the hit whenever it was presented.

Bright and early Monday morning, it went into the oven to spend the next 12 hours of its life cooking LOW and SLOW!! I flipped it once at the halfway point, but other than that it was the kind of cooking that you just ignore. The less you fuss with it the better it is. The only downside to doing this was having to be in the house smelling the amazing aroma coming from the kitchen but hey, I'm the kind of guy who will make a sacrifice like that in the name of brisket!

Flipped at half way
We can fast forward to 6:30pm and the removal of this work of art from the oven. What I thought was an amazing smell throughout the day, was replaced with an new and intense nose-gasm after opening the foil and letting it all out. It was fall apart on its own tender and we served it up with some red potato salad and baked beans or course. What better choices, except maybe some grilled sweet corn on the cob. Guess that will have to wait for next time.

We enjoyed it immensely and have come up with a few things we really liked and a few that we didn't like as much and have made some mental adjustments for next time. I think we are starting a great journey towards creating our own culinary Texas style barbecue!! Keep watching for info on our next trial.

All done!!
Comment below on what you do and don't like in your brisket! Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck.....EAT IT!!

So the newest culinary adventure for us this week is DUCK!! I have been wanting to make a duck for quite awhile and just never knew where to find a fresh one. Well on my recently mentioned trip to our local Asian Supermarket, I noticed that they had them for sale in their meat department and I made a note of it for when the time was right. And that time was Tuesday.

I went to the market and bought the duck and noticed in the store that it did still have its head, an even bigger surprise when I took it out of its bag, was that it still had its feet too. I opted to leave the picture I took of the whole thing in all its headed and footed glory out of this post so those of you who may be squeemish don't have to see it. Feel free to leave a comment though if you want me to text or email it to you. So like the Queen of Hearts, it was off with her/his head and feet and into the bowl as seen here.

To go along with this marvelous bird, I made a stuffing of brown rice, onions, pecans and fresh sage. There is such an amazing smell you get from fresh sage. I recommend that you all run out and buy some. I didn't do much to the outside of the duck, just a little salt and garlic pepper for some flavor. 

I pulled out the trusty turkey roaster which now has a new purpose besides just roasting the Thanksgiving bird and put this fully stuffed little beauty in at 375 degrees for about 2 hours. Once it was done cooking I pulled it out and let it rest under a foil tent for about 20 minutes to let the juices settle so that Richard and I could work on the remaining portion of the meal.

Richard whipped up a wilted spinach and onion salad with some aged balsamic vinegar. This salad has become a staple in our menu because it is so darn easy and so darn tasty. I worked on a sauce for the duck consisting of honey, balsamic vinegar, red wine and cherries. I slow simmered it until it was a little saucy, could have gone longer but all this food looked so amazing that we couldn't wait any longer. 

We plated our salad, pulled the stuffing out of the duck and carved that little bird for all we were worth. Authors note, duck is a horrible bird to carve, the meat on it was certainly less abundant than we were expecting but after some finagling we got enough. Added some of the warm cherry sauce on top and *POOF* we had dinner. All in all a very delicious meal that I would try again at some point for sure. Definitely one worth trying different variations to see what we can create! Thanks for reading and be sure and leave comments!!

Yeah the cherry sauce makes it look really raw but it wasn't

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something Smells Fishy

So last night we opted for something different. We decided that we would do a burger, but with salmon instead of beef. What a great plan this was. Super healthy and super easy, doesn't get much better or tastier than that.

It was simply salmon, red and yellow peppers, panko, egg, garlic, soy sauce and salt and pepper.  Mix it all up and form patties. Simply slapped those patties on the Foreman grill and about 7 minutes later they were hot and ready. We also made a delicious sesame mayonnaise with mayo, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil which went great on the toasted buns. Simply add some lettuce tomato and avacado slices and you have one heck of a simple and relatively healthy meal. Pair it with some chips, cuz burgers always need chips and some red potato salad and you got yourself a meal.

This would be a great one for anytime of year and I think also a good alternative or addition to your next beef grilling session. Definitely one we will do again!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teriyaki Chicken with Udon Stir-Fry!

Well, we broke out of our Italian mode and switched it up for this meal. We had an amazing Japanese inspired meal of teriyaki chicken breasts with a vegetable stir-fry and udon noodles.

This transition out of Italian cuisine started awhile back when I ate an udon noodle bowl at the farmer's market. It was so delicious and I think it stuck in the back of our minds after eating it. So I made a trip to the local Asian Supermarket and was blown away by all the stuff they had. They had amazingly cheap produce, including tons of things I have never heard of, great fresh seafood and meat and then every other thing under the sun. This store has already inspired one of our next exotic meals but I will leave that one a secret for now (maybe I will include a clue in here somewhere).

I made my own teriyaki sauce from soy, mirin, sake and sugar and used it to glaze the grilled chicken breasts. It also made for a great time to use my marinade injector to get this delicious marinade all inside the breasts as well. I was just glad to finally have a use for the darn thing. The udon noodles were fresh and just required a quick few minute simmer with a little miso pasted added for some flavor. Richard worked on the stir-fry of carrots, celery, snap peas, shitakes, water chestnuts onions and garlic. The smell in the kitchen of all these treats cooking was amazing.

Here is the final product, it looks great but tasted even better. There is nothing quite like having prepared the meal yourself to add to the enjoyment of a great meal. Until next time, thanks for checking in on me here. Feel free to comment or leave suggestions for things we should try. I welcome it all.