Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weber Grill Creation Gourmet Burger Seasoning

Last night, I did some burgers for the family. One of my favorite go-to seasonings is Weber Grill Creation Gourmet Burger Seasoning. It adds an out-of-this world taste to any burger. I have used it on chicken, pork and other cuts of beef.

The seasoning is perfectly balanced and has a little spiciness to the blend. I liberally sprinkle it on my burgers or you can mix it into the meat. I have done it both ways and people love it. In fact, I usually don't tell about my little secret. But, I can tell you this. Weber Grill Creations seasonings will make you a hero at your next burger cookout.

I have placed a link here for you to look at it. I have to buy the big containers for all of the times I cook on the grill.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Smokey Mo's Opens a New Location in Cedar Park!

Mo knows BBQ and he has opened a new pit in Cedar Park near the intersection of Cypress Creek and Lakeline Blvd near the firehouse.

A friend of mine, Paul Baker, and I went there today and enjoyed a fine BBQ. In fact, we had the pork, sausage and brisket. All of it was excellent and there was a line of people waiting for some good BBQ.

When we got to the counter to place our order, we noticed the man and the legend, Morris Melchor (AKA Mo), behind the counter and serving up our BBQ. We had a chance to exchange a few words with him about the business and how things were going. He told us that business was booming. Needless to say, we told him that we enjoyed is BBQ and that he was in a perfect location.

The new location looks great on the inside and it is my understanding that it was going to be a Tin Star restaurant, but the restaurant owners, had to change their plans. So, Smokey Mo's moved in and is making a big impression. Mo told us that the original Smokey Mo's on North Bell would be remain open and continue to serve his wonderful BBQ.

Well, after we got our order, we enjoyed the pork. Perfectly cooked and tender. The sausage was also perfect. The brisket was a little dry, but I think Paul didn't order the extra moist. I always order extra moist. (I need to send an email to my doctor, Marty Molina, about the comment regarding the extra moist brisket. Sorry, Doc, I love extra moist.) The potato salad was spot on. The okra was a little off. It was different. I think the breading wasn't the cornmeal breading that I was used to.

The counter and dining room help did a great job in cleaning tables and welcoming guests. Thanks for the delicious BBQ, Mo. Mo knows BBQ!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grinders & More at Plank's Restaurant

Two of my dearest friends and fellow foodies, Robert and Ken, joined me to try out a new restaurant located where McAlister's Deli used to be on IH-35. Robert had noticed that McAlister's had left and a new restaurant took its place.

The place is called Plank's and it is known for its grinders (hot sandwiches), pizzas, tacos and salads. We decided to try different sandwiches. Robert had the sirloin steak sandwich with macaroni salad. Ken had the stromboli and I had the Italian grinder. We both had the pasta salad. Robert really loved the macaroni salad and the sandwich was delicious, hot and hearty. The bread made the sandwich for Robert. It was a ciabatta bread which is one of my favorite crusty breads.

Ken and I enjoyed the pasta salad. It was very tasty and had the right about of oil and vinegar. I have had some pasta salads that have been swimming in too much oil or vinegar. The spices were well-balanced and the salad had variety.

My sandwich, the Italian Grinder, was absolutely delicious. I had it loaded with lettuce and tomatoes. The tomatoes were chopped and so it was easy to handle. The other thing I noticed was that the meat was chopped up and spread out throughout the sandwich. It is was different from what I'm used to, but not bad at. Just a little mess, but grinders often are.

Ken enjoyed his stromboli sandwich and he enjoyed it as well. He fought hard to stay away from the Austin Chili Dog. I may try that one next time or a pizza.

I talked with Luke, the owner and operator of Plank's. He used to work for McAlister's for 4 years, 1 year for Papa John's and 1 year with McDonald's. So, Luke has a good solid background in food service. He noticed that people love great, hot sandwiches. Needless to say, Luke learned his lesson well and is giving people what they want. Additionally, the soda fountains are in the dining area so that people can serve themselves and get refills on their own. You order your food at the front counter and they give you a number and your cup. The wait staff bring out your sandwich and they are very friendly. Luke made it a point to pick people who were customer-oriented. He did a great job in that area.

In the future, he will be offering beer and wine to go along with the sandwiches. I think that is a great idea. Luke is also planning on setting up a movie night for children as well as old movies for adults. If that is the case, I might be dropping by for a movie night or two. I will be looking for appetizers and beers for movie night.

I have asked Luke for an interview regarding his restaurant and his business ethic. Yes, readers, I will be posting the video interview on my food blog.

12901 N Interstate 35 Ste 1200, Austin, TX 78753-1075

Using a Grill Pan and Salmon

When it comes to cooking outdoors I can take most everything Mother Nature can throw at me. However, when it is windy, cold and wet, I draw the line. But, I still want to grill. So, I reach for my trusty grill pan. Yes, you can grill indoors to some extent, but it is better than nothing.

One recipe I love to cook is salmon and it comes out wonderful. Here's the recipe for a Lemon Garlic Salmon dish.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
2 lemon

Season salmon fillets on both sides with lemon pepper.
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Stir in garlic. Place salmon in pan. Cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, or until fish flakes when tested with a fork.
Flip fillets halfway through cooking to brown on both sides. Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving.

Suggestions for Sides
Jasmine Rice with fresh chopped parsley. Very simple and very elegant.

I do own the following grill pan recipe book and it has some great recipes in it.

Grill Pan Cookbook: Great Recipes for Stovetop Grilling

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 New Promo Alert

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Monday, January 26, 2009

More Cooking Videos

I need to complete some cooking videos for my blog. I have a couple of products that I want to discuss with my readers.

One of my favorites is my Cuisinart Griddler. I use it all of the time if the weather is so bad that I can't get outside to grill or cook. I have used it to make paninis and other delicious items. It has opened new culinary doors for me. So, I think I should share this wonderful appliance with you.

So, in the next couple of days, I will be shooting the video for this product and doing a review of it. Look for it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not the Same Old Garlic Bread

I enjoy serving spaghetti for dinner especially when you have a lot people. Come on, pilgrim. I can't serve steak to everyone every night. However, I can do different things and one of which is doing something with the bread.

Everyone loves bread to go along with the spaghetti and this recipe is a winner for those who enjoy it.

Herbed Cheese Bread on the Grill

1 package hogie rolls, split
1 can sliced black olives, drained
6 roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
6 ounces soft cheese, Brie or Gruyere, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat grill. Brush rolls with olive oil and top with cheese, tomatoes, and basil. Grill on direct medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

I have added garlic to this recipe and it is very good as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Steak Fajitas for Dinner

This evening I thawed two top sirloins and decided that I would use them for steak fajitas. I would serve them with chopped tomatoes, sour cream and tortillas. To complete the meal, I would grill onions, green bell peppers and mushrooms.

Normally, I would use skirt steak for fajitas, but I can get sirloin on sale for cheaper. Yes, you read that right. Skirt and flank steaks used to be the cheapest cuts you can get, but with everyone making fajitas, the price for both cuts have skyrocketed.

I prepared the sirloin with a standard fajita dry rub and cooking oil. I let it sit for a while the grill heats up. Then, it is on to the grill. I cook the steaks until they are medium-rare. When they get about half through, I start the vegetables. I use a cast iron skillet and saute the vegetables in batches. Don't try to cook everything at one time. You will be sweating the vegetables rather than sauteing them. I cut them fine so that they cook quickly. Also, I use vegetable oil and fajita seasoning on them.

Once I have sauted the first batch, I move the batch on to the cooking sheet and put that into the grill. The grill keeps the vegetables warm as I cook the next batch. Usually, the steaks are done by the time the first batch of vegetables are finished. I place the steaks on top of the vegetables. The meat juices mix with the vegetables and adds an extra dimension to them.

After I complete the second batch, it is dinner time. I warm the tortillas up on the grill. I slice the sirloin thinly so the pieces fit nicely on the tortillas. Add the sauted vegetables, some sour cream, tomatoes and cheese. You have a delicious meal. I usually buy the top sirloin at Randall's for $2.99 per pound when it goes on sale. I can feed about 6-8 people with two fairly large sirloins. Needless to say, I have leftovers for tomorrow night's dinner.

Monday, January 19, 2009

SAVE on Dinner at!

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My readers can take 70% off when you try their new coupon code "SAVE". It can be used on both of their most popular products, Dinner of the Month Club and their $25 Gift Certificates. This offer is valid January 20th through January 26th!

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chicken Parisienne

This is a quick and easy dish and it looks like you slaved over a hot stove for the entire day. It uses the slow cooker which is my new friend. You can have a delicious Sunday after church meal that you can invite people home with you.

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1 can (10 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2 cans (4 ounces each) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup dry white wine (If this is for after church, I recommend chicken stock.)
1 cup sour cream
6 cups hot cooked egg noodles

1. Place chicken in slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
2. Add soup, mushrooms and wine to slow cooker; mix well. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 to 3 hours. Add sour cream during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve over noodles.

This makes 6 servings. I recommend either a salad or green beans with the dish. Asparagus would also be really good especially if they are roasted. When you arrive home, place their single layered on a cooking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Set the oven to 425 degrees F. and roast for 10-12 minutes. Turning once.

So, you can invite people home after church for a meal. When you leave for Sunday school, start the slow cooker. By the time you get home, you will be almost ready to serve. Add the sour cream. Start the egg noodles and the asparagus. By the time your guests arrive, you have everything in place and ready to serve.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Macaroni & Cheese with Ham

While I was growing up, my family stretched the food budget by cooking a lot of casseroles. It is a great family meal and is a rib-sticker during the winter months. I have used this dish for church potlucks and it is a hit. I am sure you will add this to your recipe lists.

3 cups (8 ounces) uncooked rotini pasta
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons of all-purpose floor
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup of cubed cooked ham
2 medium tomatoes, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 1 1/2 quart shallow casserole dish.
2. Cook pasta according to the package directions; drain and return to saucepan.
3. Melt butter over medium-low heat in 2-quart saucepan. Whisk in flour, salt, mustard and pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese in batches; stir until melted.
4. Add cheese mixture and ham to pasta; stir until well blended. Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Bake uncovered 20 minutes. Arrange tomato slices on top of the casserole. Bake an additional 5-8 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and tomato slices are hot.

This will serve 4. You can add a few things to change things up a bit. You can add canned peas to the casserole when you are mixing cheese mixture and ham to the pasta or add breadcrumbs to the top when you place the tomato slices. Also, instead of ham, you can use crispy, crumbled bacon (8 ounces by weight).

If my family and church loves this dish, I am sure yours will, too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Eating Healthy

Since I have been laid off, I have actually been eating more healthy. I have had the time to cook more and really think about what I place on the table for my family. In fact, I have lost about 20 pounds and feel great. I have more energy and am more alert.

The biggest thing I can share is that you need to focus on what you are eating and know what your eating. It is too easy for you to slip into a pattern of just eating junk food. While I was working, I would head to the nearest hamburger place and eat something I know I shouldn't have eaten. I would say that I didn't have time. There are two ways to handle that.

The first way is to choose better from the menu. Most places have healthy alternatives like salads. Pick those from the menu. Pick the low-fat salad dressings. Be aware if they are low-fat more than likely they will have higher sugar. Just be careful about it. Most salads are balanced with vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates and protein.

The second way is to bring your food to work. This will not only save you money but also save you time. If you think about it, we have to walk out to the car. Drive around and then eat. In most cases, you use about 10-15 minutes in just doing that. You save the gas, the mileage, the money and the headache of parking and fighting with people driving for lunch. By bringing your lunch to work, you control the portion sizes and what you are eating. Yes, you will send time preparing it, but think of all of the money you will be saving.

A typical lunch for me is a little cheese, some meat, crackers, fruit and vegetables. I eat lean meats, fresh fruit and vegetables and some cheese. You need to have carbohydrates in your diet. I tried the Atkins diet once. ONCE!

So, eating healthy is not as hard as you think. Before you go out to some burger joint or a taco place, think about what you are going to be eating.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Special Offer from

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saving Money Eating Out

If you are like me, you enjoy trying out new places, but that can get expensive very quickly. However, there is a solution that can easily benefit you. can help. They have coupons and gift certificates available for you to purchase and use. The prices are very reasonable and it will help save you some money on your dining out. So, give them a try. Just click on the link to the right and enjoy a great meal while saving money.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Quick Ribeye Steaks

One of the best items you can cook on your grill is a steak. There is something magical that happens. I have had neighbors poke their heads over my fence just to smell the beef cooking over a hot flame. If you want to impress people, cook them a steak.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for cooking a ribeye steak. It is quick and easy. When you have cooked as many steaks as I have, you learn a few things. The one thing I have learned is KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle with steaks.

Too many people starting adding way too many things to their marinades and rubs. Remember, you are cooking a steak not a rub. For some, anything more than salt and pepper on a steak is sacrilegious. I think there is a happy medium that can be achieved. Check out the recipe below.

4 rib-eye steaks, about 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil

Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl. Allow steaks to come to room temperature before grilling. Preheat grill for high heat. Apply olive oil to steaks and add rub. Place steaks on grill and cook for 7-10 minutes, turning once. Remove from heat and serve.

Simple and great tasting.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Preparing Meals with Special Dietery Requirements

If you are hosting a party or meal with friends and family, you need to be aware of any dietary requirements. With the number of food allergies out there especially peanut allergies, you have to make sure that your guests know that you have peanuts or peanuts products at your home. Some people are extremely allergic to the peanuts. Given that, you need to make sure to find out these things before they attend the function.

I make it point to contact everyone who will be attending and determine if there are any issues with foods. Some may have issues with wheat and will need a gluten-free menu for meals. Others may have issues with peanuts or shellfish. These allergies are the most prevalent and can be the most difficult to deal with as a host of a dinner party.

For example, if you offer fish and chips for dinner, you have to remember that the malt vinegar that may be served is NOT gluten-free. You can see by this example how things can easily sneak into a menu and cause problems for you.

By asking a few key questions prior to planning your menu, you can easily avoid any problems.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Din Ho Chinese Bar-BQ: Yummy!

Today, I joined three of my best friends from work at Din Ho Chinese Bar-BQ. I had eaten there a long time and enjoyed it very much. Due to the distance from my old place of employment, I wasn't able to go there.

Since I'm unemployed, I had no excuse not to eat there. Plus, one of my friends, Scott, loves Din Ho and said that we had to go. He invited Robert, a guy who doesn't really like Chinese, and Ken, another one who would not chose Chinese as his first choice for dining.

We got there about 12:30PM and we had order a big bowl of Hot and Sour soup, 2 orders of the Bar-BQ pork, General Tzo's Chicken and Beef with Snow Peas. The soup was very hot (temperature hot) and very good once it cooled down a bit. Needless to say, I really enjoyed it a lot. The guys who normal aren't fans of Chinese enjoyed the soup. One of the things I enjoy about the soup is the spicy nature of it. I have noticed that most Chinese restaurants will not make the soup very spicy which is a disappointment to me. Well, Din Ho hit the mark in balancing spice and taste perfectly.

The rest of our meal came out quickly. The pork was absolutely great and had the classic Chinese Bar-BQ taste. Perfectly glazed with the sauce that you would die for. The General's Tsu's chicken was a little disappointing. Most of the time is served a little spicy, but this time it was off a bit. Good, but not great like it usually is. The beef and snow peas was absolutely delicious. Robert and Ken fought over the dish and they loved it.

The place has changed a bit since I have been there. It is bigger and looks great. We were seated near the seafood tanks and the kitchen. Not a great location, but still fairly comfortable. When you enter the restaurant, you see the ducks having in the window. This reminded me a lot of family-owned Chinese restaurants that I have eaten many a meal in New York.

The wait staff was on their toes today. They made sure that we were fully taken care of. My tea glass did not run empty and I didn't have to ask for anything. So, the wait staff gets an A for their hard work. Thanks, guys!

Well, I will definitely be back to enjoy another meal. I need a fix of duck and pork. With the enormous menu, I am sure you will find something wonderful to enjoy.

The address is
8557 Research Blvd # 116
Austin, TX 78758
(512) 832-8788

Monday, January 5, 2009

Using Coupons to Eat Healthy!

Some of you may know that I have been laid off from my job and am looking for opportunities. During this time, I have had to work on a budget to stretch every dollar I can for the family. Well, one of the best things you can use is a coupon. I have found several companies who can help stretch those dollars for you.

We have been eating very healthy. If you notice one thing about our grocery bill, eating healthy is costly. It is just the way things are. There are companies that can help in a major way. We use this one a lot and it has helped to bring down our grocery bills by $50. Can you say," I saved $50 a week, boys and girls"? That's an extra $200 a month back into my pocket or $2400 a year. Signing up with them is FREE. You don't have anything to lose and so much to gain. Give them a try and save money on healthy products.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sister Schubert's Heavenly Dinner Rolls

When I have time, I enjoy baking and preparing dinner rolls from scratch. However, during the holidays, my wife and I discovered some delicious wheat dinner rolls that you will absolutely love.

While we were purchasing all of the items needed for our Thanksgiving meal for friends and family, we ran across Sister Schubert's Pre-Baked Wheat Dinner Yeast Rolls. My wife reviewed the ingredients listed on the package. Since my wife has lost a lot of weight by staying away from enriched flour and corn, we find it difficult to find foods that she can it and enjoy. Well, these rolls fit perfectly into her diet. We usually find that if it fit perfectly into her diet, the product would often taste like cardboard. So, we were cautious about the rolls.

We prepared them exactly as recommended. They looked great and smelled wonderful. Of course, this was the first time we served them and we were still very cautious and nervous about serving a new item on our Thanksgiving table. The first rule that I learned early in life when cooking is never introduce a new item during a holiday meal. Well, the guests tried them. Everyone loved them. My mother-in-law loved them and we loved them. People thought I had made them. I said, "I wished I did, but I can't take credit for these delicious dinner rolls."

From that very moment, we have served them during our Christmas and New Year's dinners. Everyone loves them and them are so wonderful. They are light and flavorful. I have had dinner rolls that were great, but Sister Schubert's rolls are wonderful. I highly recommend them. You can't find a better roll. The good thing is you can find them in Wal-Mart's in the frozen bread section of the store.

Sister Schubert puts out other products as well. I especially enjoy the sausage wraps. They are great when you have guests come over in the morning and you need something quick and easy for breakfast.

There is one thing I don't understand about the packaging. There are only 10 rolls in the resealable bag. Typically, rolls come by the dozen. I just wonder why only 10 instead of 12. Regardless of the number of rolls, Sister Schubert gets my vote every time.

You can visit her website by clicking here.