Friday, December 26, 2008

Great Nebraska Weather, fire up the grille!

Monday morning it was twelve below zero. Today it was 61 degrees. Ya gotta love it. The warm south breeze even made it smell like spring. I fired up the Weber tonight and made some burgers for dinner. With temps in the 40's this coming week, the menu is going to include more grilled fare.

I didn't have time to make any bacon. Sorry Steve.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a great day(s) with family and friends. Thanks to my in-laws for a fun time yesterday. The camera self-timer episode was a gas. We couldn't get Alex to bed last night so we threatened to call Santa and have the presents dropped off at some other kid's house.

Thanks to my Mom and Glen for the good spread today. I could seemingly go awhile without food! (Yeah right!)

It's back to work tomorrow but there is still time to play with the new toys and have a few more cold ones.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holy Artery Cloggers Batman!

Men's Health released their list of the 20 Worst Mall Foods in America. Our city paper has a story on it here as well.

It's pretty disgusting actually. Here's #1, "Worst Mall Food in America: Quizno’s Large Tuna Melt Club, clocking in at 1,820 calories, 147 grams of fat and 85 grams of carbs. Eating this is the equivalent of eating 12 Taco Bell Fresco Style Beef Tacos"

Holy Cow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Phat Jack's BBQ

Those that know me know I love barbeque. KC style, Carolina style (both North and South), Texas dry, and every combination you can think of.

I was excited to learn of Phat Jack's opening at 40th and Cornhusker Hwy. They tout themselves as "award winning Kansas City style Competitive BBQ".

Boy was I disappointed. And let me tell you, if you've been to B.B's Lawnside and/or Arthur Bryant's, you know what good barbeque should be.

There is some good potential though. The meat and seasoning were good. The "regular" sauce was good. The beans were very good.

Now the bad. I paid $8.99 for one thick slice of white bread and about 8 ounces of meat. The menu said I'd be getting "burnt ends" which are one of my favorites. The meat showed no sign of ever being burnt. Nor did it exhibit any taste of being burnt. Having smoked my own fair share of meat, I know what crusty burnt ends should be like.

My burnt ends came with NO sides. So I ordered a small side of beans for $1.99. I received essentially a kiddie Dixie cup for a serving. Sheesh, I'm gonna starve!

Now I realize that Phat Jack's is just getting started. But if you're gonna serve barbeque in this town, you better give people a decent portion for a decent price. You will not have repeat business just because it tastes good.

I know the time and dedication it takes to smoke a hunk of meat. But better luck next time, to someone else who goes there. I won't be back.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Penfolds Club Tawny Port

Last month my wife and I went to the Still. She likes wine so she stocked up on her favorite variety, Malbec. While we were there we decided to get a bottle of Port. It's a dessert wine fortified with Brandy. The guy at the store suggested several brands and we went with the Austrailian brand Penfolds as it's well established and reasonably priced.

After Sunday night's dinner we sampled the Port and it was quite good. Really strong the first couple of sips. I really enjoyed the toffee and nutty flavors.

Anyone else partake of a little Port now and then?

Nice day for a walk.

Went out to the Pioneer's Park Nature Center and hit the trails into the tall grass. Pretty cool. Lots of critter tracks and critters to be seen. They collect rain water like I do but their tank is ginormous.

There were two live Kestrel's inside the Center and the biggest bull snake I've ever seen. We walked north and west and ended up west of the elk pens quite a ways. The tall grass was over five feet tall. The boy would have disappeared in there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Night Dinner

Chicken Marsala is a favorite dish in our house. I learned my version from Lidia. It's simple and tasty. A good Marsala is key to making the dish.

Pound the chicken breasts down to about a quarter inch thick, season them with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with flour and brown them in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set them aside and keep warm. Wilt some sliced shallots while deglazing the pan with a little of the wine.

Throw as many mushrooms as you'd like in the pan, give them some salt and pepper. Then cook them till they release their moisture and it evaporates. Add a half cup chicken stock and reduce by half. Then add a half to one cup Marsala wine and reduce again. I reduce it down till there's enough sauce to coat the pasta. Swirl in another 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and the sauce is finished. Slide your chicken back into the pan and serve!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


To all the veterans and active service members today, thank you. To my family who served and are serving, thank you. To those who've lost someone who served, thank you.

And Happy Birthday Alex, I hope 5 is filled with fun and new discoveries. You make your Dad proud!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Enough said....

"I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: One nation, under God, indivisible, With liberty and justice for all."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Columbus Day Carryover

We were inspired by Steve and Theresa so we stripped the kitchen and started repainting it.

The front door was looking shaggy from doggy claws so I sanded that bugger down and repainted it as well. Plan on putting new sweeps on the bottoms of the front and garage entry door as well. Winter's coming!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Proud Father Moment

Took the training wheels off the boy's bike Thursday evening and shot these pics Saturday. He's a natural. Hasn't crashed yet.
I asked him what he thought of riding without the trainers, he replied "Rockin'!". That's my boy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Night Dinner

This turned out far better than I expected. 4.5 pound pork loin, twelve cloves garlic, 1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves, two tablespoons coarse salt, one tablespoon ground black pepper, four tablespoons olive oil.

Put the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper into the food processor and blended it up well. Added the olive oil in slowly till I had a nice wet paste.

I cut the loin almost in half lengthwise and on each half cut a small pocket. Sread half the paste on the inside of the loin and stuff some into the pockets. I skewered the loin back together and spread the rest of the paste over the outside.

Set up my Weber for indirect grilling and cooked the pork for almost three hours. At the 2:30 mark I pulled it off, covered it with foil and let it rest for a half hour on a platter.

I was supposed to use "tuscan oak" during the cooking but used cherry chips instead. Guess I'll have to find some oak next time and see if I can taste any difference. My wife and I thought the finished product tasted just fine.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Branched Oak Farm

Thanks to Swoof I learned of another local producer of good things to eat. Branched Oak Farm has dairy goods and beef raised right here in the county. I'm looking forward to a mini road trip and let the boy discover a farm while I select some fine cheese and perhaps a nice piece of meat.

They are open Tuesdays and Saturdays 11am to 5pm.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Simple Homemade Marinara

I grow my own San Marzano tomatoes for sauce and marinara. It's a little extra effort in the kitchen but it is so worth it.

14 to 16 tomatoes will yield enough sauce for about three people. Core them and cut a cross in the other end with a small paring knife. Get a good sized pot of water boiling and a good sized ice bath. Toss half the batch in the boiling water for no more than 2 minutes. 1:30 is about perfect. Get them out of the hot pot and into the ice bath which stops the cooking process. I do half a batch at a time as its more manageable. The skin will easily pull off once out of the ice bath.

In a skillet, heat up some olive oil till it shimmers then chuck 6-8 mashed garlic gloves into the oil. Cook them till they just start to turn color. Then carefully put your bowl full of skinned tomatoes and their juice into the skillet. Crank it up to a boil and season it with salt and pepper. After it boils reduce the heat just a little and at a good simmer, cook for 20 minutes. During this time, use a non-metal utensil to break down the chunks into whatever consistency you'd like.

With 5 minutes to go, throw in some fresh chopped basil and stir it in.

I put this batch over some 4 cheese ravioli. Mmmm!

"Tutti a tavola, a mangiare" = Everyone to the table to eat!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Salmon anyone?

My better half loves grilled salmon and I'm more than happy to oblige. Horseradish and basil are featured in this dish. Simple and very tasty.

Marinade is vegetable oil, prepared horseradish, soy sauce, minced garlic, salt, ground black pepper. Whisk it up and put it on the salmon. Filet or steak will work just fine.

Get your grill going about medium to medium high. I left the lid on the Weber this time to keep the heat and the flare-ups down. Fold up a paper towel repeatedly untill it's about two inches across, dunk it in some olive oil and oil the grate with your tongs. Cook fish 4 minutes flesh side down, flip, 4 again on the skin side then 4 more for flesh and skin side will do it. Let the fish rest on a platter for a few minutes while you load up on sides.

Sauce is sour cream, mayo, horseradish, fresh basil, lemon juice, soy sauce.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Let's Bar-B-Que!!!!

Ribfest is in town, and I sure do love barbeque. I love beef and pork as much as the next but here's my entree. It's a spin off of a Kansas City bbq that's sweet and smokey but only takes 40 minutes cook time. And we'll use split chicken breasts which can't fail.

It's a dry rub that really packs a punch yet is fairly simple to make. Here we go:

Light brown sugar, granulated sugar, seasoned salt, smoked salt, smoked paprika, kosher salt, ground black pepper, ground ginger, poultry seasoning, celery salt, superfine ground mustard, ground allspice.

Mix it all up in a bowl and sprinkle it onto the meat. You could use this on beef or pork but it really kicks chicken to a whole new level.

Put the bird in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes to 24 hours. Get your grill set up for indirect grilling over a drip pan. When ready, put the birds down for exactly 40 minutes over medium heat. 45 minutes will burn the sugars & chicken skin, it won't be pretty. Don't forget your big chunks of hickory for even more awesome smokey flavor.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chicken Satay

I do a simple and tasty satay that even kids like. Make a marinade of chopped green onion, minced garlic, dark brown sugar, lime juice and soy or fish sauce. Try it each way then decide which you like best. I like the fish sauce myself. Cut your chicken thighs or breasts into nice size chunks and put them in the marinade for at least a half hour.

A simple peanut dipping sauce made with chicken stock, creamy peanut butter, one chopped green onion, a little lime juice and some cayenne pepper for zip. You can adjust each ingredient to your liking. Hat tip to Mr. T for suggesting this peanut sauce next time! Awesome!

Skewer the chicken pieces onto soaked skewers and grill over high heat. This quickly cooks the chicken but doesn't dry it out.

I like to serve this with fresh melon and basmati rice with golden raisins, cinnamon and turmeric.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Powderpuff Pork Chops

Kansas City BBQ Champion Janeyce Michel-Cupito inspired this recipe. It's for ribs, shoulders and chicken, but I'm gonna modify it and smoke some thick chops. Celery salt, paprika, garlic powder (instead of garlic flakes) and ground black pepper. Sprinkle onto the chops and pat it in, let them sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Make your own celery salt by putting celery seed and kosher salt in mortar and grinding it into a powder. It seems to be more flavorful than pre-packaged celery salt. I also use a smoked paprika and will toss cherry wood chips on the coals for sweet smoke flavor.

Some homemade potato salad, cucumber onion salad and cold beer made this a nice tasty weekday meal.

Yippee, new music!

So I'm a little obsessed with The Replacements and Paul Westerberg. Today I downloaded PW's new album from Amazon for 49 cents. It was 49 cents because the album title is 49. PW is a bit eccentric. I haven't listened to it yet but for fiddy cent I won't complain. Now, has anyone seen my player?