Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Salsa Out of a Can?

You heard me right. Although the salsa doesn't come out of a can, only the tomatoes come out of the can. During the summer of 2008, there was a big scare regarding fresh tomatoes. The news said that only tomatoes from Mexico are affected and only those in particular states. Well, you know how people get when a scare hits. Every grocery started to pull tomatoes off of their produce racks.

Well, I don't like store bought salsa so I had to improvise a bit. I had some canned tomatoes and decided to work on my recipe for Salsa using canned tomatoes.

After a lot of trial and error, here is my recipe for the salsa. You can use regular tomatoes, but this is really good and works in a pinch.

1 1/2 cans canned tomatoes with juice
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 lime, juice of
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 dashes Louisiana Hot Sauce
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Combine all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse it a few times for chunky. If you like a smoother consistence, put the spurs to her and pulse it until you get to the consistence you are looking for.

When handling peppers, use latex gloves. You don't want to rub your eyes or take your contacts out after you seed and chop peppers. I made the mistake once. ONCE!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chicken and Rice Bake

If there is one thing, I enjoy is a great chicken and rice dish. This recipe is a quick and easy dish for dinner. Easy preparation and easy cleanup. It doesn't get any better than that.

This recipe serves 4 and takes about 45 minutes to cook and about 15 minutes to prepare.

1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup water (For creamier rice, increase water to 1 1/3 cups.)
3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Mix soup, water, rice, paprika and black pepper in 2-qt. shallow baking dish. Top with chicken. Season with additional paprika and pepper.
Bake at 375°F. 45 min. or until done.

I typically serve the dish with either green beans or asparagus tips.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Beef Stew for Those Cold Winter Meals

One of my favorite winter dishes is beef stew. I have a very simple recipe for making it and it works very well for a slow simmer on the stove or using a slow cooker.

2 pounds beef stew meat
8 carrots, cut in chunks
2 onion, chopped
6 stalks celery, diced
6 medium potatoes, diced
30 ounces stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 dashes thyme
2 dashes oregano
pinch salt
2 beef bouillon cube
3 cups water

Combine all ingredients in an 8-quart pot or 6.5 quart slow cooker.
Cover; cook on low for 7-9 hours in the slow cooker.
If you are using a stove top pot, you will need to bring the stew to a full boil and then back the temperature to low. Let it simmer for 6 to 7 hours. Keep it covered and stir occasionally.

I serve it with a crusty bread. A loaf of French bread or a baguette would be perfect for sopping up the gravy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Glazed Ham for New Year's Day

As I had mentioned in a previous blog entry, we serve pork for your New Year's dinner. Typically, it is served with black-eyed peas, collard greens or green beans, baked sweet potatoes and sweet cornbread. One of my favorite pork recipes is a Apricot-Brandy glazed ham.

Apricot-Brandy glaze is very easy and very taste. I would even say that you could put this on a leather boot and it would taste delicious.

1 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons brandy (not brandy flavoring)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or spicy brown mustard for more flavor)

While ham is roasting, purée preserves in a blender.
In a sauce pan, whisk orange juice, apricot preserves, brown sugar and corn starch until well combined. Cook over medium low heat until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.
Add mustard and brandy, whisk. Continue cooking over low heat 1 to 2 additional minutes.
Remove from heat.
Spread glaze on ham during the last 30 minutes of oven baking. Reapply during the last 15 minutes if desired.
Serve extra glaze along side of ham.

I will using the Big Easy again for this ham. It will take about 10 minutes per pound to cook. During the last 15 minutes of cooking in the Big Easy, apply the glaze. Don't apply during the last 30 minutes of cooking in the Big Easy. If you do, you will burn the glaze. It gets very hot inside the cooking chamber.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Recipe: Grilled Bourbon Chicken

One of my favorite dishes to cook is a grilled bourbon chicken.

4-6 chicken breast halves
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Combine, herbs, bourbon, maple syrup, and olive oil in large bowl.
Add chicken to bowl and coat well with mixture. Cover and marinate for 2-3 hours.
Preheat grill for medium heat.
Remove chicken from refrigerator making sure to reserve marinade.
Put marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. (This is important!)
Place chicken on grill and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Flipping chicken breasts regularly.
Baste with marinade the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.
When juices run clear, remove from heat and serve.

As a reminder, although the alcohol evaporates, there still can be a trace amount. When using alchohol in cooking, make sure you don't have any problems with your guests and alcohol. In most dishes like this, you can substitute chicken broth.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Prime Rib Using the Big Easy

This evening I will be using the Char-Broil Big Easy to cook our Christmas dinner, a 12-pound prime rib. The prime rib will be served with a green bean casserole, broccoli and baked potatoes. For dessert, I will be serving a pecan pie.

In our home, Christmas means beef. In this case, it is a prime rib roast. Although I prefer medium-rare, the rest of the family prefers medium. No problem.

I took the roast out about 30 minutes before putting it into the Big Easy. Always bring the meat up in temperature before cooking. I then seasoned it with rosemay, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder and crushed red pepper. Then, coated it with olive oil.

After that, it went into the Big Easy with my wireless thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast at an angle. The tip of the probe should be close to the center of the roast.

Once done, let the meat rest for about 20 minutes or so.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Gift: Beef Wellington

In our home, our meal traditions are turkey for Thanksgiving, beef for Christmas and pork for New Year. One of the most impressive meals that you can serve to your guests is a Beef Wellington.

According to tradition, the dish was named after the Duke of Wellington. Some say it was his favorite meal, and others claim it resembled the boots that he wore. Whatever the case may be, the Duke of Wellington has a grand dish named after him, which became the entertaining extravaganza of the 1960s.

2 -to 2 1/2-pound beef tenderloins
Ground black pepper (optional)
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the beef in a lightly greased roasting pan. Season with the black pepper, if desired. Roast for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 130°F. Cover the pan and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature for 40 minutes or until it's easy to handle. Heat the oven to 425°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook until the vegetables are tender and all the liquid is evaporated, stirring often.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a rectangle 4 inches longer and 6 inches wider than the beef. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture. Spoon the mushroom mixture onto the pastry sheet to within 1-inch of the edges. Place the beef in the center of the mushroom mixture. Starting at the long sides, fold the pastry over the beef. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Tuck the ends under to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and a meat thermometer reads 140°F. Slice and serve warm.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with Green Beans Amandie. For dessert serve with cheesecake topped with sliced strawberries.

For this dish, I would recommend a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. With the beef and the earthy mushrooms, it is an excellent pair.

This dish will serves 10 guests. I can guarantee that your guests will not only enjoy this feast, but also feel honored to be at the table. So, I would recommend using your best china and flatware for this meal. No paper plates here!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wireless Outdoor Cooking Thermometers

One of the best Christmas gifts I received was a wireless outdoor cooking thermometer. The one I have has 2 parts. The first part is the transmitter that has a temperature probe that is inserted into the meat. The other part is the receiver which looks like a big pager. The one I have talks and has LCD screen that shows me the current temperature and give me an estimate of the meat's doneness. If you cook outdoors year round like me, you don't want to stand outside in the freezing weather or the sweltering heat.

The talking portion is cool. It tells me about 5 degrees before the desired doneness that my entree is almost ready. When it hits the temperature, it announces that my entree is ready. I usually take the meat out of the grill or Big Easy at the almost done mark. Remember, carry over cooking will increase the temperature of the meat by 5 to 10 degrees.

The one I have came from Brookstones, but there are several on the market that do a fantastic. Here's a link to my list of wireless outdoor cooking thermometers. If you are looking for a last minute gift for someone who grills, barbecues or smokes, consider the gift of a thermometer that will a man's outdoor cooking experience wonderful.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chicken Salad

One of the things that I cook is chicken salad that people talk about all of the time. I usually make about 5 pounds of it at a time. If I make it for the family, it is gone in about 4 days. If I make it for a church potluck, it disappears in the first round of eating fairly quickly.

I have learned a couple of things about preparing it. My recipe is not very different from everyone else's recipe. The biggest difference is how I prepare the chicken. I either grill it or cook the chicken using the beer can chicken method. I have used white wine in the beer can chicken method or chicken stock with a little garlic. No matter what I use, the flavor penetrates the meat and it is more flavorful. Most will poach cook the chicken. I find the grilling or beer can chicken methods add more flavor to the chicken meat and makes the whole salad more flavorful.

The other thing is that I use the whole chicken. White meat and dark meat are used. The flavors of both meats compliment one another. Besides, when you get a deal on chickens, you should take advantage of it and use the whole chicken.

The recipe that I use has been modified. My dad used this recipe, but I added a few things to it to make it mine. I am sure my daughter will build upon my recipe and make it hers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oil-less Fried Turkey and Chicken

I am absolutely amazed by the Char-Broil Big Easy. I have cooked a turkey in it for Thanksgiving, chicken for Sunday evening dinner and beef ribs for Saturday night.

The turkey turned out perfect. Moist and juicy on the inside and the skin crispy almost like fried skin. I had done a favor injection of the turkey and the meat was flavorful. My mother-in-law enjoyed it. If she enjoyed it, then I think even the pickiest eater will find this turkey delicious and succulent.

As for the chicken, I used Weber's Kickin' Chicken rub on it. The rub is spicy and adds a great flavor to the chicken. My wife ate the white meat and loved it. Once again, the meat was moist and juicy. The skin crispy. It took about 10 minutes per pound and it did a great job.

For Christmas, we always have beef. So, I will be cooking a prime rib roast for the family. This year I will be using the Big Easy. So, stay tuned to my blog for Christmas dinner.

Yes, You Can Cook Beef Ribs in the Big Easy

Yes, you can and it does a great job of them. Since my wife does not like sauce on the ribs, I left it off. I could have easily added the sauce to the ribs during the last ten minutes of the cooking process to give a nice caramelized and smoky taste.

The one thing I had to do was use bamboo skewers to hold the ribs up against the cooking basket. Make sure your soak the skewers for 30 minutes before using them. If you don't, they will burn and fail to hold the ribs up. I placed the ribs against the basket and then used the skewers pin them to the cage. I put 2 slabs of ribs in the basket which works out to about 6 pounds of beef rib.
For a Christmas party that is coming up at a friend's house, I will be serving these as appetizers.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Beef Rib in the Char-Broil Big Easy?

Yes, sir. This evening I will be cooking some beef rib in the Char-Broil Big Easy. While my wife and I were doing our grocery shopping, I had a taste for ribs. Don't get me wrong. I love pork ribs just as much as the next carnivore, but I love beef on a bone. There is something ancient about gnawing on a big bone with a lot of meat on it. Think Fred Flintstone at the table. So, I went over to the meat section of the local Wal-Mart. Yes, I do buy some meats from the Wal-Mart and found some beef ribs on sale for $1.30 a pound. Not bad. Not great. But, it will do. You are probably asking, "How do you cook beef rib?" Same as pork rib, partner. I use a dry rub on my ribs and finish them off with a barbeque sauce during the last ten minutes of cooking. My dry rub is a simple mixture of spices and seasonings. This recipe has been in the family for generations. Not really. I actually came up with one that I like and I believe in sharing my experiences and recipes with everyone. Here's the recipe. Ingredients: 1/4 cup paprika 1/4 cup mild or medium chili powder 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup ground black pepper 1 tablespoon cayenne 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1 tablespoon salt Preparation:Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Put the mixture in a shaker. Medium holes on the shaker lid would be great. Apply the rub liberally on the ribs. Don't be cheap with the rub. I said, "LIBERALLY!" Once done. You are ready to cook. In this case, I'm going to use the Big Easy to cook the ribs. I'll let you know how it turns out and give you some tips and hints on cooking the beef ribs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Review of the Char-Broil Big Easy with Video

Well, I finally did it. I created a couple of YouTube videos for my blog. I hope you enjoy them.

If you would like to leave your comments, please do so.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oil-less Fried Turkey

OK. I now have your attention. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't done it. I purchased the Char-Broil Big Easy to cook our Thanksgiving turkey. Using a new cooking method for a big family meal is not a great idea, but I did it anyway.
I purchased the Big Easy at Lowe's and got it home. It took me about 30 minutes to assembly it and 15 minutes to season the cooking chamber.
After preparing the 14+ lbs turkey for cooking, I placed it into the cooking basket and started the Big Easy. The controls are very simple. One knob is used to turn on the gas. There are only two settings, on and off. The second knob is the ignites the gas. Yes, it uses propane.
From the directions and information given, it takes about ten minutes per pound to cook a turkey. It took about two hours to cook the turkey to the proper doneness.
The skin was crispy like a fried turkey. I have had fried turkey and there is a difference between one done in a deep fryer and this one, but if you have a problem with cholesterol, I don't think you want to fry a turkey. Besides, the cost of oil has skyrocketed and it is dangerous to use 375 degree oil on a turkey. I have friends who have fried turkeys and they do a great job and haven't burned down their homes.
If you are like me, you might consider this method for cooking. Besides, it cooks chickens, beef, ribs, etc. For Christmas, I will be cooking a seven-pound prime rib roast with the Big Easy. I'm so impressed with the product that I added it to my online store. If you wish to purchase one, click here.
My daughter took some video of me assembling the Big Easy and cooking with it. I will be posting the videos shortly for you to see this great product in action.