Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Both of those are great for feeding the masses and work great in a large stock pot. But since they have large chunks of meat, they might not be the best for a dip or a topping for a giant baked potato. And if you're going to be taking it to a party, why not use a crock pot?
You will need to brown some meat and chop a few vegetables, but beyond that, it's just filling the crock pot and cranking up the heat.
There are a lot of spices in this recipe. If you don't have a lot of chili powder on hand, then I'd suggest going to a spice store or a grocery store that sells bulk spices. As we talked about in our Spices post, it'll save you 80-90% if you buy spices in bulk and store them in small jars. For example, the large bottle of chili powder needed for this recipe will be around $5.00 at the grocery store. The price at WinCo for enough bulk chili powder to make this chili and another batch for your family in a week or so: $1.00
Crock Pot Chili
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork or country sausage
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 chipotle peppers from a can and 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce packed with the peppers
3 14 ounce cans finely diced tomatoes
3 14 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
9 ounces (1 1/2 cans) tomato paste
1/2 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons cumin
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
Brown the sausage and the ground beef in a large pan. Drain off the fat and then pour the meat into a large crock pot. Chop the onion, green pepper, chipotle peppers and garlic, then add them to the crock pot. Drizzle the adobo sauce over the vegetables, then pour all of the tomatoes over the other ingredients and stir to combine. Add all of the spices and sugar to the chili and stir one last time.
Cook on high for 4-5 hours, stirring about every hour or so to spread the heat around. Then, drop the heat to Keep Warm and allow it to cool down for the next 1-2 hours. This will allow it to thicken up to a consistency perfect for ladling over potatoes or serving in a bowl topped with cheese.
Friday, December 20, 2013
But if you're looking for a great option, just turn your back to the ham pile and look to the beef case. You'll find probably the most prized cut of beef in the culinary world, the prime rib. It may be named standing rib roast or something similar, but be assured, that's prime rib.
And this time of year, the prices for this cut can be downright amazing. Watch your local grocery ads. You'll see roasts for as cheap as $5.99 per pound. A 7 pound roast can feed 8-10 people and if there are leftovers, consider yourself lucky. You have the perfect ingredient for awesome sandwiches, stews, or even one of our chilis.
The key to a great prime rib is the slow cooking You MUST have some sort of thermometer inserted into the meat so you know exactly what the temperature is in the middle of the roast. The difference between rare and medium rare is 5 degrees. And the different between that perfect medium rare and a medium that is a little less juicy is also 5 degrees, as you can see in the photo above. So you need to monitor it's temperature constantly. You could use a mechanical thermometer, but that means checking it constantly and who really wants to do that. For the chronically lazy like myself, a digital thermometer is the perfect solution. Most have an alert built in so it will beep as soon as it hits the perfect temp.
So set your thermometer to beep at 122 degrees, then you can pull it from the oven and let the carryover heat take it to just the right temperature.
Perfectly Easy Prime Rib
One 6-7 pound prime rib or standing rib roast
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon sage
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
In a small bowl, add all the spices and the olive oil and stir until combined. Then place the roast on a roasting pan or in a roasting rack inside a 13x9 inch pan. Baste the entire roast with the spice and oil mixture.
Cook the roast in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes to give the cooking a kickstart, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and continue to roast until the internal temperature hits 122 degrees, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours for a 7-8 pound roast. At that point remove it from the oven, place a tent of tin foil over the meat and then lay a couple of dishtowels over the tin foil. This will create a miniature oven so the carryover heat can do it's job.
And now, the most vital part of the process.... patience.
So buy a Prime Rib and cook it for the holiday masses. Just Remember: NO cutting the roast until after it rests or it'll go all Game of Thrones Red Wedding on you.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
For a long time, I had this picture as one of the photos on the blog's header. That's because when I was done with my Christmas candy creations, we were shocked at the volume we made. Twelve cookie sheets filled with pretzel sticks, truffles, barks, chocolate covered cherries and all sort of dipped treats, like cinnamon bears, gummi bears and Oreos. We were making candy boxes for a few dozen people, friends and family of my family, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was amazing how much work we did in the space of a couple of hours. And they were a hit with everyone.
If you're looking for some great neighbor gifts, or just need something to give to reciprocate when a co-worker "unexpectedly" gives you a gift, any combination of the items below will work wonders
Now since Thanksgiving came so early this year, we have a few more days this holiday to make snacks for the masses. Schedule a weekend or at least a Saturday to make what you need. And then make more than what you need so you can eat whatever you want.
These are a standard around the house now. A salty pretzel stick, bathed in sweet caramel, then coated in a shell of milk or dark chocolate. And from there, decoration is all up to you. I've used the colored meltable candies placed in a ziploc bag. You snip out a small hole in the bottom corner and then just drizzle it over the cooling chocolate so it will adhere. Allow them to completely cool, wrap them up in a pretty box or bag and hand out to family and friends. Or be greedy and eat them all as you watch Christmas specials on Netflix, whatever works for you. They take a little bit of time to make, just because you have cooling time for the caramel, but they are definitely worth the wait.
You have to make a batch of these for Santa, but why not expand it and turn it into a party with family or friends. We've had one person make the cookies, one person make a couple batches of different colors of frosting and one person do a Winco run and buy a whole bunch of different bulk candies. We'll get together on a Saturday morning and make a dozen dozen to split amongst everyone. The kids have a blast and they're great to give away on the candy plates.
Great as cookies, awesome as Christmas tree decorations! I've made a few batches of these for us to eat, but I've taken a large frosting piping tip and poked a hole in the head before cooking them. It leaves a small hole after they cook so you can thread some ribbon through and hole and tie them onto the tree. Decorate them any way you want. Use the frosting to make the faces and frills, but you can also use it as glue to stick candies wherever you want. Just know that if they hang from the tree long enough, they have a tendency of losing arms and legs to marauding 3 and 5 year olds.
It's one of the first posts on the site, so the picture's a little old, but it's one of the richest little bites you'll ever try. It's greatly adaptable to whatever taste you prefer. You can add any extract or flavoring you want. This recipe also explains the basics of tempering of chocolate, which is the basic for any chocolate dipped items. And you don't have to leave them plain. Roll them in nuts, sprinkles, candies, cookie bits, whatever you want that you think will taste good and look decorative.
This is my wife's recipe, and for the love of god, they are addictive. They're the most delicious popcorn balls I have ever tasted. Sweet, slightly salty, and SOFT! It takes them a long time exposed to the open air to get to that rigid crunchy stage. If you wrap them up in a little plastic wrap and tie some curling ribbon to the top, not only are they perfect for gift giving, but they'll stay moist and chewy for a week or two. This is the one item that you may need to start away from little hands. The caramel is a little molten and napalm-like at the beginning, but once it mixes with the popcorn and cools, definitely bring the kids in and have them help you form up the balls. If for no other reason than they can eat some as they go. Want to make them as addictive as crack? Drizzle melted chocolate all over them. You'll eat your weight in popcorn balls in about an hour.
The reason I gain 8 pounds every Christmas season. These large shortbread cookies dipped in whatever version of chocolate you crave are hidden away in my desk drawer so I can get me sugar rush amid the craziness of the holiday workday. You can make them any size you wish, Use the large sugar cookie cutters if you want, or just place it all into a large 13 x 9 in ban, bake it and then slice it up while they are still warm. They're simple to make and if you follow the tempering instructions, the chocolate will have a glossy sheen that will impress anyone you give them to... if you decide to share.
The easiest Christmas candy to make and the most versatile option in the bunch. I list three different variations here,(including my favorite, the Peppermint bark) but the sky is the limit, You can use any type of candy, cookie, nut, or other confection you want. Just pair it with your favorite version of chocolate and allow it to cool. Break it into small pieces and add it to any plate of goodies to impress the neighbors. My favorite, break it into large pieces and stash it somewhere safe from little prying eyes. Then I can portion out just the amount I want when I want it.
So there are a couple ideas for your Christmas snack plate. And as an added gift, you can check out my scientific explanation of Santa's powers here, just in case you have inquisitive little ones.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Santa Questions explained through Science and the World of Geek
Thanks to watching way too much Alton, his palette has expanded and he wants to try every candy and snack in the world.
I hope that these explanations have cleared up even the most persistent child's questions. Remember, Santa is real, and he's smart enough to adapt to almost any situation using existing science or adapting ideas from science fiction. If the kids still have questions, ask them to come up with their own theory. I've found that when my kids come up with an inventive way to explain the "magic" of Santa, they're *ALWAYS* right, no matter what.
Monday, December 9, 2013
I can usually say 'no' to most of the snacks and pies and cookies out there. But A 16th Century Japanese philospoher, or maybe it was Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, once said to know your weakness. These are mine.
Ever since I received that first tin of Walker's Shortbread cookies, I've had no restraint. I can eat a whole tin in one sitting. And with this recipe, I can now make my own and stash them in a giant ziploc bag in the bottom drawer of my desk. Yessss... special they are... must protect them... my favorite... my own... my Precious....
This recipe is easy and will make delicious 1/2 inch thick nuggets o' heaven. And then if you want to make them almost illegal in 17 states, temper a little chocolate and dip them.
1 pound unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups flour
Chocolate for dipping (optional)
Using the beater attachment, add the butter, sugar and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix until everything's well incorporated. Dump out the dough and flatten it into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap or a large ziploc bag and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes
After the chill-down time, roll the dough out to 1/2 in thickness. Use whatever cookie cutters you'd like to make the shapes you want. Place the cookie dough on a ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with some sugar, if you'd like.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Allow them to cool on a cookie sheet.
If you want to coat them in chocolate, nuke the chopped chocolate pieces in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Nuke for another 30 seconds and stir again. Check the temperature. If it's between 115 and 120, you're done. If it's not, nuke in 15 second intervals until it reaches that point. Don't go over 120 or the chocolate will burn. Allow the chocolate to cool to between 90 and 95 degrees. At this point, dip the cookies in the chocolate or use a spoon to pour the molten chocolate over each cookie. Set them in a cool place for 2 hours to allow the chocolate to set.