Archive for Food

Grilled Cheese Month 2012

Something very important is going to happen Sunday.  2012’s National Grilled Cheese Month will begin.  Have you asked yourself, “What would Ron Swanson do,” lately?

Grilled CheeseGrilled Cheese

Steak-Vegetable soup

As it gets closer to moving time I’ve been trying to find ways to use up things in the freezer.  A while back Liz and I were taking advantage of Angel Food Ministries in our area to get some cheap eats.  During one of these purchases we received four steaks.  I put two of them in the fridge and last night decided to make a soup.

Making soup may sound hard, but many of them start out the same way – heat up some oil and start cooking your onions, garlic and other “tough” ingredients.  Then you just throw some stuff in and let it cook down.  Right before I started cooking I had the idea to include the meat.  Here’s how it all went down…

Step 1: I put a medium-large pot on the stove and large pan on the stove.  I put some olive oil into both.  Next I chopped up 1/2 of a large onion dumping that and garlic into the pot.  I also added some salt, pepper, and oregano.

Step 2: I grabbed the thawed steaks from the fridge, salted and peppered them, and put them in the pan to cook.

Step 3: I chopped up 4 stalks of celery, then I peeled and chopped a large russet potato.  I added these and some water to the pot.

Step 4: I put some savory seasoning on to both sides of the steaks and made sure they were cooking well.  When they got to be about medium, I took them out, cubed them, and put em back into the pan.

Step 5: I added green beans, broccoli, corn, and lima beans to the pot.

Step 6: Some people like to do red wine reductions on things.  I’m not that big into wine so I went with option b – worcestershire sauce.  I put a good amount into the pan with the meat, lowered the heat and scraped all that “flavor” off the bottom of the pan.

Step 7: I stirred up the pot making sure everything was mixed well, then added the meat and sauce.

Step 8: I let everything cook down in my soup for about 25 min.

Step 9: I cubed up about 8oz of velveeta and dropped it into the pot, then replaced the lid for another 15 min or so.

Step 10: Eat it.  I added some ketchup to my bowl to give the soup a slight hint of tomato taste.  It turned out pretty well.

Ron Swanson on vegan bacon

Do you really have to wonder what Ron would say?

Inside-out grilled cheese

The inside-out grilled cheese sandwich has cheese cooked into the outside of the bread.  Fortunately people don’t adhere too closely to the title because there is still plenty of cheese on the inside.

Cheese cooked into the outer crust

I first heard about these from the infamous Alton Brown.  He uses two giant frying pans and cooks his grilled cheese in between the two hot, heavy, cast iron pans.  While this doesn’t seem worth the work I must point out his use of brown mustard.  The mustard can be really amazing.

Fast forward a few years to the 9th Annual Lebowski Fest.  Greg and I are up late talking about food (cause what else would we talk about besides movies?) and this method of grilled cheese comes up.  I’m inspired and decided to make one later that year.

Tonight I made a simple cheddar and mozzarella grilled cheese with a mozzarella crust.  Nothing fancy, but sometimes less is more.  Here are some photos.  I mostly post these because of how much people talk about them.  Sorry if I make you drool.

Ron Swanson Ice Cream

A wise man once said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”  I wonder if that will make Ben & Jerry’s Ron Swanson Ice Cream be created…I guess time will tell.

Ben & Jerry's All of the Bacon & Eggs You Havehttp://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/06/ron_swanson_ice_cream.html

PJ’s Timmy Bread

Back in the day I used to frequent a hole-in-the-wall pizza place called PJ’s in Warren, IN.  There were several different businesses with the same name, but this was the only pizza joint.  A couple buddies of mine accidentally found it one day while driving around and possibly lost.  I was pretty amazed the first time I went.  Here are its salient features:

  • Friendly staff
  • Plenty of dining room seating
  • Juke box with 7 songs for $1
  • Plethora of drink options with free refills
  • If we called ahead, they’d fire up the extra pizza oven to more quickly get us our pizza
  • At least one of the female employees always seemed to be pregnant (one night there were three)
  • Guaranteed good times filled with many laughs and stories to tell later

One of the amazing appetizers was their cheesy garlic bread.  After frequenting this place for a year or two we noticed a new item called “Timmy Bread” and asked what it was.  Timmy was the name of an employee who liked to put some pizza sauce under the cheese on the garlic bread to effectively create a french bread pizza of sorts.  It was an immediate hit and we never looked back.

One day in August of 2005, we all arrived to find PJ’s empty.  The place had closed down with absolutely no notice.  We were extremely bummed and angry to find a new, pizza franchise in town.  We suspected PJ’s was put out of business by the cheap nastiness now sold down the street.  Since then, I’ve had to make myself some Timmy Bread every so often when I find myself longing for PJ’s goodness and seven Southern Rock songs for a buck.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of Italian or French bread
  • Some pizza or spaghetti sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Dried, minced garlic (optional)
  • Italian seasoning or basil and oregano (optional)

Equipment:

  • Serrated (preferred) knife to slice the bread
  • One beefy arm to open jar of sauce
  • Spoon or butter knife to spread sauce
  • Shredder for cheese (if you shred your own)
  • One cookie sheet or pan
  • Oven mits or thick towel
  • Oven

Preparation:
Step 1 – Slice your loaf in half.  If the length of the loaf is too long for your cookie sheet or pan, feel free to make the pieces smaller.  Sometimes the top half of your loaf is curved and this piece may roll a bit.  Some might suggested shaving some of that curve off, but I just smash the bread down a bit.

Step 1 - slice bread

Step 1 – slice the bread

Step 2a – Spoon some sauce onto the bread.  Pizza sauce is preferable because of its thickness.  Spaghetti sauce also works fine, but it’s thinner and can be a bit runny.

Step 2a - apply sauce

Step 2a – apply the sauce

Step 2b (Optional) – Sprinkle on some garlic and Italian seasoning to your tastes.  Some sauces are pretty bland, it just depends what you like.

Step 2b - optional garlic and herbs

Step 2b – apply shredded cheese

Step 3 – Apply the shredded cheese.  You can buy a bag of shredded cheese or shred your own.  I always prefer to shred my own cheese.  It costs less money in the long run, and tastes much better.  I shredded some pepper jack cheese for today’s Timmy Bread.

Step 3 - apply cheese

Step 3 – apply the cheese

Step 4 – Cook your Timmy Bread in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted.  This should take roughly 10 minutes.  You can leave it in longer if you like your bread more cooked and crispy.  Be careful not to burn it though.

Step 4 - cook bread

Step 4 – cook at 350F

Step 5 – Take a picture and share with your friends.  (Note – Sharing the Timmy Bread is not required)

Spicy mac n cheese beef taco

One of the good places to get a burger around here is Rocky’s Famous Burgers in NewMarket.  One of their interesting creations is the Big Mac n Cheese Burger.  That’s right, they put macaroni and cheese on a burger.  I used up my ground beef last night preparing it for nachos and I don’t have any hamburger buns so I went with the next best thing: a tortilla.

I took my tortilla and spread a modest layer of my nacho cheese on it followed by some of that ground beef, spicy mac n cheese, and a little shredded cheddar.  I put that in the toaster oven for 4 minutes then topped it off with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and some sour cream.  I then folder over my 8″ taco and carefully ate the whole thing being careful not to let any of the contents spill out.

Was it better than a Rocky’s burger?  I’m not really sure.  It’s hard to compare burgers and tacos.  I do know it was freaking delicious.

Spicy Mac n Cheese

Last night I was craving some nachos so I cut up some lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and olives, browned hamburger, and made some nacho cheese.  Now the term “nacho cheese” can mean many things.  Some people just love that nasty, thick yellow stuff that comes in a can.  It has its place, but it’s not that good in the grand scheme of things.  Some people like it spicy, others mild.  The one thing to remember is no matter what your opinion is of processed cheese, it certainly melts well and is consistent.

I don’t have exact recipes for many things I regularly prepare.  I say this because I don’t really have measurements for some things.  I just add a little until it looks or tastes right.  Here’s what I did for my nacho cheese last night.

  • 1 box Velveeta
  • 2 cans Rotel
  • dried, minced garlic
  • ground coriander
  • chili powder
  • dried ground habanero
  • dried ground hatch
  • dried ground cayenne
  • oregano
  • crushed red peppers
  • Phoenix Death Sauce

This makes a pretty decent pot of cheese.  If you leave the water in with the rotel, it thins the cheese out a bit and it doesn’t congeal into a block of “velveeta” again after it has cooled.  The “death sauce” added a little liquid as well.  Whenever  I have left over cheese I often combine it with something else.  This afternoon I added it to some mac n cheese.  Here’s what I threw together today.

  • 1 double-box of Kraft Mac n cheese
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • @ 1 cup nacho cheese (I’m guesstimating here)
  • 1 can tuna packed in water
  • small handful of chopped onions.

It turned out pretty well.  Just enough spice for me.  What do you do with your left overs?  One of the first ways I started experimenting with food was to modify mac n cheese and hamburger helper meals.

Candy for big kids

Remember way back in the day when you’d go to the doctor and get a sticker, sucker or what have you?  Well about about us big kids?  What do we get?  Tonight I found out what it takes to earn a Taco Bell Beefy Melt Burrito $5 Box.

  • 10 or so puffs on a rescue inhaler
  • 7 nebulizer treatments
  • 1 Z-pack
  • 85mg prednisone
  • a couple muscle relaxers
  • anti-anxiety medicine
  • codeine cough syrup
  • a 4hr coughing fit
  • continually turning purple
  • and my 3rd trip to the ER this year

Is it worth it?

Burrito: Back to the basics

A long time ago and in a land far away, I started cooking things for myself.  It started off with scrambled eggs when I was 4 or 5 and just kind off took of from there.  Eventually I started making burritos.  Before I started cooking my own mega batches of pinto beans, I used to use beans from a can but eventually quit using them almost altogether.  Liz doesn’t understand why I’ve loathed them so much.  It’s just hard to eat them after you’ve made the same thing yourself.

As I’m trying to get back on my feet, I decided I wanted a burrito.  So here’s a simple burrito recipe if you want to try something new.

Ingredients:

  • Two cans refried beans. (You can substitute pintos, black, etc)
  • 1lb ground hamburger
  • 6-8 flour tortillas (burrito size)
    Optional:
  • 1 onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Cumin or Coriander
  • Cheese (cheddar or monterrey jack work well)
  • Sliced black olives
  • Tomatoes

Prepare the meat:
The first thing you want to do is brown your hamburger.  I like to add onions to almost everything.  Fresh are best, but the dried kind work too.  I chopped up my medium onion and got it cooking in a pan with a pad of butter while I defrosted my hamburger in the microwave.  Once my onions had softened up I put in the hamburger and added a little salt, pepper, dried minced garlic, oregano and ground coriander.  All these spices are optional.  I’d be careful of them (with the exception of salt and pepper) until you know what you’re doing and how much you like.  There’s not much worse than a seriously over spiced dish.  From here you just cook your hamburger down like you’d normally do.  Break it up into small chunks so you can divide and conquer, and make sure there are no pink parts left.  After this is done drain or spoon out the grease.

Mix the burrito ingredients together:
Now you’ll add your beans and your meat together.  You can combine them in a separate pan if you like, or add the beans to your meat.  Just make sure your pan is big enough.  One thing to be careful of is stirring this mixture together.  At first it’ll be a bit like water and oil.  If you’re not careful, you’ll be sloshing beans and meat all over your stove.  Just take it easy and be patient.  You’ll have a nice mixture in a few minutes.  After everything is mixed, let this simmer for 10 minutes or so.  You can put a lid on it if you want, just don’t turn the heat up too high and walk away or it’ll start bubbling and splattering.

Click to see more

Building your burritos:
Once you get your tortillas out of the fridge the first thing you need to do is warm them up a little.  This is a very important step because cold tortillas will tear.  If you’ve ever gone to a burrito place, they usually steam/warm their tortillas in some sort of way.  I like to put mine in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.  Now take one tortilla and place it in one hand.  With the other hand fill the tortillas about 1/3 with your meat/bean mixture.  Now it’s time to fold.  You’ll put the bottom half up a little, then wrap the left and right sides around.  Some like to fold all four side in to seal the burrito.  I think this is slightly more advanced because it’s almost too easy to over-fill your burrito.  If you just do three sides, any extra can just ooze out the end.  Check out the two graphics I pulled off the web to illustrate.  If you click them, you’ll see more images and instructions.  The one above is for the three-side fold I described.  The one below shows you how to do a four-side fold.

Click to see more

As you’re folding your burritos, you can put them on a cookie sheet to pop into the oven at 350F for about 15-20min.  You’re mainly looking to melt the cheese and crisp up the tortillas a bit.  If you don’t want to eat them now I’d suggest wrapping them in foil or plastic wrap, or put them in a sealing container for later.

You probably noticed I added a slice of cheddar to mine.  You can really use any kind of cheese you want.  Monterrey jack is pretty close to some of the mexican cheeses you might see in ingredient lists.  Feel free to add whatever you want.  That’s the beauty of a burrito.

So there are my burritos.  I added some olives and tomatoes.  What do you like on yours?  Would you use a different filling?  Chicken?  Steak?  Vegetarian?