Thursday, December 22, 2016

Houston 101: Where Can I Get the Best Ribs?

Here's another throwback post to my time as the Houston Barbecue Examiner. I did a series called Houston 101, that explored the barbecue around the city of Houston.

Pizzitola's Barbecue
Pizzitola's Barbecue


Houston 101: Where can I get  the best ribs?
In Houston, the absolute best place to get some good ribs is Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue. Located at 1703 Shepherd Drive, Pizzitola’s boasts some outstanding hickory smoked barbecue that is sure to please and leave even the pickiest eater yearning for more.
Dating back to the Roosevelt era, Pizzitola’s has been hailed as the home for barbecue for many Houstonians for over seventy years. The dining room is overflowing at lunchtime, and continues buzzing through dinner, until eight o’clock, when the doors are closed. In 2007, the Houston Press named Pizzitola’s Houston’s Best Barbecue Restaurant.
As far as food is concerned, there is no substitute. The chicken falls off the bone, and the brisket melts in your mouth, but the real prize of the kitchen, is the pork ribs. Rubbed simply in salt and pepper, these ribs are smoked to perfection, the meat barely hanging on to the bone. Ordered as a plate meal, the ribs pair wonderfully with rice and pinto beans and a glass of homemade lemonade. After a bowl of banana pudding for dessert, be sure to order a slab of ribs to go before paying the check.
Be sure not to pass by Pizzitola’s again, without stopping by to give it a try, or going in to revisit an old favorite. As always, be sure to try out the Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s latest seasonal offering.
Happy Eating.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo Ingredients
Pico de Gallo Ingredients



Who doesn't love a classic Pico de Gayo with tacos or as an appetizer with some tortilla chips? It's so quick and easy to make!



The Recipe:
  • 1/2 Red Onion - Diced
  • 1 Jalapeño - Seeded and Diced
  • 2 Tomatoes - Seeded and Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • Cilantro - Minced
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • 2 Limes 
  • Olive Oil
Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo 




Combine all the vegetables in a bowl. The easiest way to to seed the tomatoes is to cut them in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Add the juice of 2 limes and stir together. Let it sit for a few minutes and then pour it through a strainer to remove any excess liquid. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

10 Delicious Dinner Dishes You Can Make in 10 Minutes

I promise there will be some new content up soon! But for now, let's all enjoy these easy meal ideas that will require little prep and add little stress to your weeknights as the Holiday Season goes full swing!


10 Delicious Dinner Dishes You Can Make in 10 Minutes:

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Green Bean Casserole

This is a little late for Thanksgiving, but trust me it will come in handy for next year. A few years back, I was trying to avoid eating canned items and realized I really didn't like the traditional green bean casserole that would appear each year at Thanksgiving. Don't get me wrong, I like green bean casserole, I was just looking to improve upon a good thing. So I looked up a few recipes and set out to create my own homemade green bean casserole.

What You'll Need:
Green Bean Casserole
Green Bean Casserole

  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Shallots - Diced
  • 6 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1/2 Pound Portabello Mushrooms - Chopped
  • 1/4 Pound Shitake Mushrooms - Chopped
  • 1/4 Pound Oyster Mushrooms - Chopped
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Pound Green Beans
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Flour
  • French Fried Onions
Boil water in a large pot. Wash the green beans and cut the ends off. I usually cut the green beans in half to make it easier to serve later. Cook green beans in the boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain the water out and set the green beans aside. 

In a large skillet, sauté the garlic and shallots in the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the mushrooms begin to cook down and release their juices, add the heavy cream, chicken broth, and dry white wine. Reduce heat to medium so the cream doesn't scald. Let the mixture cook together and reduce. Sprinkle in enough flower to thicken the sauce. This will keep it from settling on the bottom. Combine the mushroom sauce with the green beans in a baking dish. Coat the top with French fried onions. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

If you are feeling adventurous, try making your own fried onions. The recipe can be found here.  

Happy eating.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tin Roof BBQ

Tin Roof Barbecue
Tin Roof Barbecue

I went in to the archives for this article. Literally. About seven years ago I was the the Houston Barbecue Examiner for Examiner.com. Saddly, my page on Examiner.com has gone inactive. Fortunately I saved all of my articles! One of my favorite articles is this one written about local barbecue restaurant Tin Roof Barbecue in Atascocita, TX. 

Locally Owned Barbecue
Locally Owned Barbecue


Tin Roof Barbecue Hours
Tin Roof Barbecue Hours
They are now open on Sundays from 11 AM to 3 P
Owned by a retired Houston Police Officer and his wife, Tin Roof Barbeque in Atascocita, is a great place to spend a lunch break or to treat the entire family for dinner. When the weather is nice, the deck is a great place to sit and smell the smoke from grills.
Run in a house built in 1927, complete with tin roof, the barbeque is accompanied by great Texas charm, making adults and children alike feel like they are home. Ron Webber arrives at the restaurant around 4:00am every morning to get all of his grills going. His wife Nancy makes all of the sides and desserts to pair with the various meat dishes.
The menu includes old barbeque favorites, accompanied by creative names. The Lone Star is a one meat, two-side combo, and the Wild Cat is a chopped beef sandwich. Something few have ever ventured to try is the Badwich, a sandwich that offers a little bit of everything between two pieces of bread. All the menu items are excellent and none of them will steer you wrong, but a house favorite, averaging at over five pounds, is the stuffed spud. Happy eating.


 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken

Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken
Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken




Some nights we just don't feel like cooking. Every week, we try to add at least one meal that requires almost no prep. We can just come home and put it together, so we can relax and enjoy the rest of our evening together. This week, we made Greek Pasta Salad.





Here's what you'll need:



Grilling Chicken
We grilled some boneless chicken breasts this time,
but it will make this even easier if you use a grocery
store rotisserie chicken.

To make this recipe even easier, there is no measuring involved. A box of pasta, however much chicken we have in the fridge, it doesn't matter how much or how little of each ingredient goes in. I'm a bit of an olive junkie, so I do go heavy on the olives. We like to use the olive mix from the store that comes with feta cheese so we don't have to buy an extra ingredient. Mix everything together in a bowl. Add salad dressing to taste. This week we added some avocado to mix it up a little. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

6 Sandwich Spreads That Are Way Better Than Mayo

If you're like, and you love sandwiches, you'll definitely be interested in these sandwich spreads as an alternative to mayo.



6 Sandwich Spreads That Are Way Better Than Mayo:



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Meatball Sub!

Meatball Sub
Meatball Sub
This past weekend, I had to house to myself. This typically allows me to just cook what sounds good in the moment, without having to worry it something that the kids will eat. I decided to take my meatball recipe and my quick tomato sauce recipe, and turn it in to a meatball sub! Be sure to check out the post on Spaghetti and Meatballs to find some ideas for the kiddos!

Here are the recipes!

For the Meatball Sub

One Recipe for Quick Tomato Sauce
One Recipe for Meatballs
Loaf of Italian Bread
Parmesan Cheese

Cut the bread to size and split down the middle. Cut the meatballs in half and line them up inside the bread. Top the meatballs with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


Quick Tomato Sauce

Olive Oil
1/2 onion - diced
4 garlic cloves - minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp sugar
Tsp oregano
Tsp parsley
salt and pepper
spinach (optional)
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 Cup red wine (optional)

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil. Saute the onions and garlic with salt and pepper over medium-high heat. When the onions turn translucent, reduce the heat. Add the canned tomatoes, oregano, parsley, and sugar. The sugar will help to counteract the acidity in the tomatoes. I like to add it, but it is optional. I also like to shake in some crushed red pepper, but it depends on who is eating with me. Cook for about thirty minutes. To sneak in some extra vitamins for the kids, you can throw in a handful of spinach leaves. Put the sauce in a food processor, or use an immersion blender if you have one, and blend until smooth.


Italian Style Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (I make my own. Look for the recipe below.)
1/2 cup Italian cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
salt and pepper

The meatballs are super easy to make. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Add in a few drops of water. Mix together with you hands. This is the most effective way. When the ingredients are well mixed, roll out the meatballs and place on a sheet pan. Make sure the meatballs are not any bigger than about 2 inches to make sure they will cook through. Please the sheet pan under the broiler and cook until the meatballs are browned. Flip the meatballs over and cook until brown.

Monday, October 24, 2016

6 Fall Grilling Recipes You Have to Try

I always talk about how happy they are that "grilling season" is here. When does it go away? The cold weather shouldn't serve as a deterrent. After, there is a fire to keep you warm while you cook!



6 Fall Grilling Recipes You Have to Try:



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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Cheesy Garlic Bread
Cheesy Garlic Bread






I've always loved garlic bread. The toasted bread. The butter. The garlic flavor! But the plain garlic bread can get boring, so I wanted to experiment with some flavors and ingredients to see what would make it better. I came up with the idea of adding lemon, Parmesan cheese, and parsley, and all of a sudden garlic bread was on a whole new level! Try serving it with Linguine and Red Clam Sauce!






The Recipe:
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • Juice of Half a Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley - Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Italian or French Bread
Cheesy Garlic Bread Under the Broiler
Cheesy Garlic Bread Under the Broiler

Combine the butter, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Slice the Parmesan in to two halves. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread. Try to spread it as thick as possible. Place the bread under a broiler set to low. When the bread is toasted to a light brown, it is ready. The cheese and butter will likely not be melted.  




Friday, October 21, 2016

Linguine and Red Clam Sauce

One of my favorite classic Italian dishes is Linguine and Clams, especially with red sauce. I'll settle with the white or cream sauce, but I definitely prefer the tomato based sauce.

The Recipe:
Linguine and Red Clam Sauce
Linguine and Red Clam Sauce Served with Cheesy Garlic Bread.

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallot -  Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 Can Whole Clams
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Clam Juice
  • 1/4 Dry Chardonnay
  • Juice of 1 Large Lemon
  • 1 Package Linguine
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley to Garnish
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Sauté the garlic, shallot, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper in the butter and olive oil. Add in the clams and tomatoes. Stir until heated. Add in the the lemon juice, chardonnay, and clam juice. Cook until the liquid reduces by half. Stir into linguine and garnish with chopped parsley. You can top the pasta with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese as well. Sometimes I like to get fancy and  add some shrimp, scallops, or fresh clams. If you go this route, add them at the very end. They will cook very quickly. For the fresh clams, add a lid to the pan. Once the clams open, they are done. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

7 Filling Italian Recipes That Won’t Put a Dent in Your Diet

I've got some Italian ancestry, so it only makes sense that I am drawn to Italian foods. But let's be honest, some of the old Italian recipes are loaded with extras that we don't need in our diets. I've made oven fried chicken before and it turns out great, so I'm going to have to try out the Baked Chicken Parmesan. The Skinny Shrimp Scampi caught my attention too. My version has always had some extra butter, possibly some cream, and definitely some cheese added in. I'll have to try out this healthier option.



7 Filling Italian Recipes That Won’t Put a Dent in Your Diet:



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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Italian Bread Dipping Oil

Italian Bread Dipping Oil Spice Blend
A Mason Jar is great for storing extra
Italian Bread Dipping Oil Spice Blend!



Growing up, one of my favorite parts about going to eat at an Italian restaurant was the oil for dipping the bread in. Sure other restaurants had bread and butter, but there was something about the olive oil with herbs and spices that made those Italian places something to look forward too! As I got older, I decided to try my hand at making my own spice mix to add to the olive oil. Sometimes I'll make a big batch and store it in a jar to add olive oil to later. I don't add salt to mine. I have found that the olive oil does not need any salt added. It can be added as an option.

The Recipe:

  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Minced Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt (optional)
Italian Bread with Italian Bread Dipping Oil Spice Blend
Italian Bread with Italian Bread
Dipping Oil Spice Blend








Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add a spoonful to a small plate and drizzle enough olive oil to cover. Sometimes I'll add some fresh grated Parmesan to the mix. I found that the best way to make it is to have equal parts of each ingredient. The bread is meant to the be the star and shouldn't be overpowered by the spices.

Essential Books for the Food Lover

I am beginning to assemble this page to talk about some essential books for the food lover. These are all books that helped shape who I am as a cook and as a food lover.

Marcella Hazan - Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Julia Child - Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Matt Moore - A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen

Sharon Tyler Hurst and Ron Hurst - Food Lover's Companion

Anthony Bourdain - Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain - A Cook's Tour

Anthony Bourdain - Medium Raw

Jeffery Steingarten - The Man Who Ate Everything

Ina Garten - Barefoot in Paris

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sopa de Lima

Continuing with the idea of fall being soup, stew, and chili season, I wanted to share my recipe for Sopa de Lima. It is a soup full of big flavors, with plenty of spice and saltiness and some tanginess and acidity from the lime juice.
Sopa de Lima
Sopa de Lima simmering on the stove

The Recipe:
  • 1 Onion - Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced 
  • 3 Celery Stalks - Diced
  • 3 Carrots - Peeled and Diced
  • 1 Yellow Squash - Quartered and Chopped
  • 1 Zucchini - Quartered and Chopped 
  • 4 Chicken Thighs - Browned, Deboned, and Chopped
  • 2 Quarts Chicken Broth
  • 4 Tomatoes - Diced 
  • Fresh Cilantro - Chopped 
  • 1 Teaspoon Mexican Oregano 
  • 3 Jalapeños - Seeded and Diced
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Queso Fresco or a Mexican style cheese blend
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 limes - Juiced

Sopa de Lima
Sopa de Lima - I left the chips out of it this time and used a
Mexican cheese blend instead of the queso fresco. 




In a heavy bottom pot, I prefer a porcelain enameled Dutch over for this, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook about 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add in the jalapeños, squash, and zucchini and cook another 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, chicken, chicken broth, bay leaves, cilantro, Mexican oregano, and lime juice. Simmer for about an hour. Serve over a bed of tortilla chips, topped with the queso fresco and cilantro.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This one tool will save your favorite cast iron pan | Fox News

I've written in the past about cleaning cast iron skillets. I use course salt to clean mine. I think I am going to have to try this tool out. From the first glance, it looks like it is course enough to help get the really hard cooked on food off, but delicate enough not to rid your pan of the perfect season you've taken years to create. I think I just might have to get one for myself!



This one tool will save your favorite cast iron pan | Fox News:



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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo

In some parts of the world, it is starting to cool off, as summer gives way to fall. Fall signals the time to dust of the soup, stew, and chili recipes, and start enjoying those comforting, warming, delicious bowls of brothy goodness. One of my favorites is gumbo, in all of its varieties. Gumbo is great to make on a Sunday night to leave in the fridge until Monday night. I make several different gumbos, that all play off of the same base. which is a combination of the Creole and Cajun styles. Today I am sharing a recipe for a Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo. This particular gumbo was one we threw together based off of ingredients we had in the fridge and freezer.

The Recipe: 
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper - Diced
  • 3 Celery Stalks - Diced
  • 1 Onion - Diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 Cup Chopped Okra
  • 1 14.5 oz Can Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken - Chopped
  • 3 Links Sausage - Sliced
  • 1 lb Crawfish Tails
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 2 Quarts Chicken Broth
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Cup Rice - Cooked
  • 1 Teaspoon Filé powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hot Sauce
In a heavy bottom pot, I prefer a porcelain enameled cast iron dutch oven, brown the sliced sausage over medium heat. I like to use a kielbasa style sausage or a beef or pork sausage. Once browned, remove the sausage to a bowl for later. Add some olive oil and the bell pepper, celery, onion, and garlic. The Cajuns call this the holy trinity. 

Roux
This roux is on the light side. The roux should be at
least this dark. I like to get it as dark as I can
 without burning it. 
While the holy trinity is sautéing, melt the butter in a small cast iron pan over low heat. Stir in the flour. This is going to make the roux to thicken the gumbo. Don't rush this process. It can burn very easily. I like to get the roux to at least a golden brown, but it's even better at a dark walnut.

Back to the holy trinity. Keep stirring it while the roux is going. When the onions start to brown, add in the okra, chicken, broth, bay leaves, and stewed tomatoes. Remember the sausage waiting in the bowl? Time to add it back in too. Bring everything to a simmer. Now is the time to season with salt and pepper. If the gumbo cooks too long, the seasoning won't be absorbed and will sit on top of the rest of the flavors. Season to taste.

Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo
Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo
By now, the roux should be ready. Add it to the pot. Keep the gumbo simmering. To qualify as gumbo, it has to cook for at least three hours, if not longer. The crawfish tails are going to cook quickly. If they cook too quick they will turn rubbery and chewy, which is not something anybody wants to find in their food. Put the crawfish tails in right before serving. They just need to warm up and will cook through in a few minutes. 

The okra will act as thickening agent, but I grew up adding filé powder to my gumbo in addition to the okra. It is optional. Serve the gumbo over rice. I like my gumbo spicy. Hot sauce is key here. Tabasco. Cholula. Lousiana. It really depends on what I have in the pantry and how I feel. It goes great with buttered French bread.

Gumbo is like jambalaya. A recipe can exist, but it is forever evolving. It typically doesn't taste the same each time and I always find new ways to make it or new flavor profiles to get out of it. I look forward to hearing how yours turns out. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Notable Blogs to Follow

If you haven't seen it yet, I have been assembling and curating a page with notable blogs to follow. I encourage you to stop by and check it out!

http://www.memyselfandcuisine.com/p/notable-blogs-to-follow.html?m=1

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

6 Healthy Snacks That Are Perfect For Eating at Work

If you're anything like me, you sit at a desk more than half the day. It goes without saying that all of that sitting is not great for us. Here are some healthy snacks you can make to eat throughout the day to keep away from the bag of chips in the vending machine.



6 Healthy Snacks That Are Perfect For Eating at Work:



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We're on Pinterest

Hello everyone! I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that I am on Pinterest now! New content coming soon!

https://www.pinterest.com/memyselfandcuis/memyselfandcuisine/

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

27 Hearty Vegetarian Meals - Fall Vegetarian Recipe Ideas—Delish.com

Full disclosure here. I used to be a vegetarian. For one reason or another I gave it up. I do still enjoy the occasional vegetarian meal. You'd be surprised how filling a vegetarian meal can be!





27 Hearty Vegetarian Meals - Fall Vegetarian Recipe Ideas—Delish.com:



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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Honey Mustard Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Honey Mustard Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Honey Mustard Marinated Pork Tenderloin
I was messing around one day with salad dressing variations and mixed some lemon juice with some Dijon mustard. It was good, but not quite right. It needed something sweet in it. The classic honey mustard combo was what I went for. After the initial salad dressing test, I tried it on a few other things. It makes a good coleslaw. But where I hit gold, was as a pork marinade. The spice of the mustard, the sweet of the honey, and the acid of the lemon compliment the pork perfectly.


The Recipe:

  • 1 Cup Spicy Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • Juice of 1 Large Lemon
  • 2 Pork Tenderloins
  • 1 Large Storage Bag

Use a plastic storage bag for marinating
Use a plastic storage bag for marinating

Perforate the pork with a fork to allow the marinade to get inside the meat. Move the pork to a large storage bag. In a large bowl, mix together the mustard, honey, and lemon juice. I like to use a coarse grain mustard to give it some extra spice, but it depends on who I am cooking for. A milder, smoother mustard will work fine. Just don't use yellow mustard here. Don't worry about straining out the seeds or pulp from the lemon. It helps with the flavor. Pour the marinade in to the bag with the pork. With the bag sealed, work the pork and marinade around to get the pork completely covered. Let the pork sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight.

The smoke and mustard flavors go great together
Get a good smoke going to really enhance the
the flavor. The smoke is just to enhance the flavor,
not to actually cook the meat.




Remove the pork from the bag and place on a plate to let the extra marinade drip off. The mustard has a habit of burning and let it drip off a little will help prevent any unwanted burning on the grill. I like to use charcoal for this dish instead of gas, so that I can get a good smoky flavor in the pork. The smoke and mustard flavors were meant to be together. Get the grill to about 450-500 degrees. If you want to throw some oak or hickory in there to help get some smoke going. I use an oak lump charcoal that works really well. Grill about 10 - 15 minutes per side and then over indirect heat another 5 - 10 minutes. 



Honey Mustard Pork, Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Asparagus
Honey Mustard Marinated Pork with
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Asparagus



I've served this with a few different things. Salad. Mixed veggies. Roasted potatoes. Usually I'll have rolls in the freezer I can throw in the oven. This time, I served the pork with some cheesy mashed potatoes and asparagus sautéed with onions and garlic.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Best Chili Ever: The Only Chili Recipe You'll Ever Need

It's cooling off outside, so that means it's getting to be soup and chili season! I have made one in the past that is something of a southwestern flavor inspired goulash, but for now here is one that sounds pretty good!



Best Chili Ever: The Only Chili Recipe You'll Ever Need:



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Monday, September 19, 2016

6 Fall Grilling Recipes You Have to Try

I love grilling in the fall. Those peaches go great on the grill. I used to do a balsamic glazed pork chop that is very similar to the one in here too.





6 Fall Grilling Recipes You Have to Try:



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Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to Cook a Perfect Steak | POPSUGAR Food

Steak can be tricky to get right. Do you grill it? Do you pan sear it? I've even seen people sear it in a pan and finish it in the oven. Here are some helpful tips on cooking the perfect steak in a pan.



How to Cook a Perfect Steak | POPSUGAR Food:



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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Variations on Vinagerettes

Finished Balsamic Vinaigerette
Finished Balsamic Vinaigerette
Here lately I've been noticing that some of my clothes aren't fitting like they used to. So it looks like it's time to start eating a little healthier. One of my favorite ways to eat healthy is salads. Salads can get a bad rap for being heavy in calories, but if you pay attention to what you put in them, and on them, it's easy to to keep that calorie count down. Here are a couple of simple and easy to make variations on vinaigrettes. If you've never made a vinaigrette before, don't worry. They are mostly variations of a base recipe. I'll start with the simplest and work through to the more complicated ones. 


Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar 
  • 4 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • 3/4 Cup Olive Oil

In a large bowl, combine Balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. first only drizzle in a little bit at a time. As the oil and vinegar begin to emulsify, you can pour the oil in a little faster.


Roasted Red Pepper Red Wine Vinaigrette
Use a silicon hotpad to keep the bowl from moving around
Use a silicon hotpad to keep the bowl from moving around
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 4 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 3 Roasted Red Pepper Slices from the jar - Minced 
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • 3/4 Cup Olive Oil

In a large bowl, combine red wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, red bell peppers, salt, and pepper. For the red peppers, I just use the jarred variety. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. first only drizzle in a little bit at a time. As the oil and vinegar begin to emulsify, you can pour the oil in a little faster.


Taragon and Lemon White Wine Dijon Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar 
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 4 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 teaspoon Taragon
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard 
  • Juice of 1 Small Lemon
  • Use a squeeze bottle to help control the oil flow
    Use a squeeze bottle to help control the oil.
    At first it will just just drip out, which is all you need. 
  • Olive Oil


In a large bowl, combine white wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, lemon juice, dijon mustard, taragon, salt, and pepper. I like to use a course grain mustard, but some people like to use something with a little less spice to it. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. first only drizzle in a little bit at a time. As the oil and vinegar begin to emulsify, you can pour the oil in a little faster.
These dressings store really well in mason jars in the fridge. Pull the jar of dressing out as you begin to prep the salad to give it a chance to come to room temperature. Give the jar a shake to mix it up and pour over the salad.

Monday, September 12, 2016

6 Easy 3-Ingredient Breakfast Recipes

If you're anything like me, you don't have a lot of time in the mornings. Here are 6 easy and healthy ideas for breakfast you can make ahead!



6 Easy 3-Ingredient Breakfast Recipes:



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Thursday, September 8, 2016

7 Salty Snack Recipes That Are Better Than Processed Foods

It may not be much of a secret that I try to do my best to steer clear of processed foods. Here a couple of great ideas for Salty Snack Recipes.



7 Salty Snack Recipes That Are Better Than Processed Foods:



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Recipes for a Single Mom - Part 3

This is the last part of a series of recipes I’m sharing that I wrote for a single mom back in college. I met her while working at Starbucks. She was one of our semi-regular customers. She was looking to cook some healthy meals for her kids, but wasn’t sure where to start. So I offered to share a few recipes with her. Some of them were recipes I already had, and some were new ones I wrote for her.



Today, I am sharing a recipe for Arrabiata Sauce, which is a spicy tomato sauce.








The Recipe:


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 28 ounce can tomato puree
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • Spaghetti 



In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and parsley and sauté until the onions turn translucent. Remove to a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients. Under low heat, let simmer covered for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally. To finish sauce, puree with an immersion blender or in a conventional blender, until it is mostly smooth.

Serve with spaghetti or a pasta of your choice. This goes great with meatballs, chicken meatballs, or Italian sausage. It also makes a great sauce for lasagna.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Italian Sausage Stuffed Pork Loin

Italian Sausage Stuffed Pork Loin
Italian sausage stuffed pork loin
Today I am sharing my recipe for my Italian Sausage Stuffed Pork Loin. This is one of those recipes I created back in college to use on my friends who didn't mind being guinea pigs for food every now and then. Ultimately this recipe was inspired by stuffed pork chops we used to get from Veron's Cajun Meat Market when I was little. I've done this one a few different ways, with a tenderloin, pork chops, or a loin, smoked or baked. It always comes out great!


The Recipe:
  • 3 to 4 lb pork loin
  • 2 links Italian sausage, skinned
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • String
  • Plastic wrap



Butterfly the pork loin and lay it flat on a sturdy surface. Cover the meat with a sheet of plastic wrap to keep the mess to minimum. Starting in the middle and working your way out, use a meat tenderizer to tenderize the meat. You'll want it to be about a 1/2 inch to 3/14 of an inch thick. 



Meat Tenderizer
Meat Tenderizer


I have a meat tenderizer that I really like that is different than the traditional mallet style meat tenderizer. It has a handle with a reversible disc on the bottom. The disc sits under your fist and uses the full force of your hand motion to tenderize the meat. It works a lot more efficiently than the mallet style tenderizer. I generally stick with flat side so that I don't destroy the meat.



Remove the plastic wrap and apply salt and pepper to both sides of the meat. Set aside.



Italian Sausage Stuffed Pork Loin
Stuffed pork loin ready to go in the oven.





Combine the sausage, bell pepper, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. The best way to mix it up is with your hands. Once combined, spread the mixture evenly in the pork loin and fold the pork loin over. Tie the pork loin with string to keep the stuffing from coming out. I usually use 5 or 6 pieces of string to keep the pressure even.

Place it in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees and the reduce to 350 degrees. Cook 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

If you decide to smoke it, plan on 4 to 5 hours at 225 degrees, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. 






Thursday, September 1, 2016

14 mouthwatering recipes for your Labor Day barbecue | Fox News

Labor Day is coming up! Here are some ideas if you are stumped on what to make.



14 mouthwatering recipes for your Labor Day barbecue | Fox News:



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Recipes for a Single Mom - Part 2

Chicken with lemon butter sauce
I like to pour the sauce in between the pieces of chicken to keep
the seasonings from washing of the chicken.
The second part of a series of recipes I’m sharing that I wrote for a single mom back in college. I met her while working at Starbucks. She was one of our semi-regular customers. She was looking to cook some healthy meals for her kids, but wasn’t sure where to start. So I offered to share a few recipes with her. Some of them were recipes I already had, and some were new ones I wrote for her.


The recipe I'm sharing today is Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce.



The Recipe:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 6 scallions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 red potatoes, quartered
  • 4 portabella mushrooms, chopped
  • salt and pepper



Chicken with lemon butter sauce
I added some carrots to the veggies this time. They do really well
with the cream or butter in the sauce.



In a bowl, combine wine, chicken broth, butter, lemon juice, scallions, and garlic, and whisk together. Arrange the chicken breasts, potatoes, and mushrooms in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Slowly pour in the liquid ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Best BBQ Joints in Every State in the U.S.

I'm a huge fan of BBQ, as you've probably guessed. Looks like a road trip is in order, at least to the lower 48! A lot of these places look amazing, though there are 1 or 2 I don't necessarily agree with.



The Best BBQ Joints in Every State in the U.S.:



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Monday, August 29, 2016

7 Healthy Recipes Using Fresh Bell Peppers

I love bell peppers - stuffed, raw, made into a sauce. They're really versatile. Here are some really great ideas to use bell peppers. I have made something similar to the Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce. It goes great with pasta and Italian sausage. Roasted red bell peppers also make a great dipping sauce for fried mozzarella, instead of the classic marinara sauce.



7 Healthy Recipes Using Fresh Bell Peppers:



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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Chicken and Rosemary Meatballs with Sautéed Tomatoes and Spinach

I've been thinking about this one for a while, but have only recently gotten around to making it. I wanted to try something different with meatballs besides beef and veal. I haven't tried it yet, but I would imagine this would go great with lamb in place of the chicken. I'm a big fan of the lamb and rosemary flavor profile.


For the Sauce:


  • 2 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Bunch of Spinach - Rough Chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pasta
  • Olive Oil

Sauté the garlic in olive oil over medium heat until light brown. Add in salt and pepper and tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce reduces. Stir in the chopped spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. 

Chicken and Rosemary Meatballs with Sautéed Tomatoes and Spinach
Chicken and Rosemary Meatballs with Sautéed Tomatoes and Spinach

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 lb Ground Chicken
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 Cup Italian Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary - Chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon Water
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. This best done by hand. Roll the mixture in to balls a little bigger than a golf ball. If they are much bigger than, the outside will burn before the inside cooks. Arrange the meatballs on a sheet pan and place under the broiler. Cook until the top is brown. Remove the meatballs from the broiler and flip. The bottom will likely be brown already, but the middle still needs to cook a little more and you don't want to burn the top. Place back under the broiler for a more minutes. Serve the meatballs with the sauce over pasta. 



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Recipes for a Single Mom - Part 1

Lemon Chicken with Red Wine Tomato Sauce
Lemon Chicken with Red Wine Tomato Sauce shown here with penne
pasta and green onions.
Back in college I worked at Starbucks. One of our semi-regular customers was a single mom looking to cook some healthy meals for her kids. She really had no idea where to start, so I offered to share a few recipes with her. Some of them were recipes I already had, and some were new ones I wrote for her. I'll be doing a series on these recipes in the next few weeks.

The first recipe I gave her was for my Chicken Florentine. You can find that recipe here.

The second recipe I gave her was for Lemon Chicken with Red Wine Tomato Sauce.


The Recipe:
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 large lemons, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a ½ teaspoon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small portabella mushroom, diced
  • 1 bushel fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • rigatoni
Marinate the chicken in the lemon juice with salt and pepper for about thirty minutes. Remove the chicken from the lemon juice and lightly brown in a sauté pan in a ½ teaspoon of olive oil.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and some salt. After about 1 minute, add the tomatoes and the mushrooms, and let sauté about five minutes. Add the basil, red pepper, chicken, red wine, and salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and let cook for another five minutes, stirring once.

Remove from sauté pan and serve over rigatoni pasta.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

9 Straight-A Spots in West University | Best Restaurants | Houstonia

Definitely going to have try these places out!



9 Straight-A Spots in West University | Best Restaurants | Houstonia:



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Avocado Chile Burger with Crispy Onion Straws

Hatch Green Chile Burger
Hatch Green Chile Burger



This recipe goes back to my days as the Houston Barbecue Examiner. In honor of Hatch Green Chile Month we used hatch green chiles instead of the serranos and jalapenos. I'll post both recipes below.


The Original Recipe:


  • 2 pounds ground beef 
  • 3 serrano peppers, seeded and minced 
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk 
  • peanut oil

Combine ground beef with peppers, garlic, salt and pepper and divide into four equal patties. For a more southwestern flavor, add 1 teaspoon of ancho chile powder. The secret to a good, juicy burger is to get a good sear, so make sure the grill is hot. To reach desired doneness without burning, it may be necessary to move the patties away from the heat after both sides have been seared.

Crispy Onion Straws
Crispy Onion Straws
In one bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. In a second bowl combine breadcrumbs, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. In a third bowl, combine the egg and milk. Dust the onions in the flour and wash in the egg mixture, and then cover with breadcrumbs. Transfer the onions to a pot with about an inch of hot peanut oil. Remove the onions to a paper towel once they have become golden brown.

Assemble the burgers in Kaiser rolls, topping the grilled patties with sliced avocado and crispy onion straws.



The New Recipe:

  • 2 pounds ground beef 
  • 2 hatch green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk 
  • peanut oil
  • Ranch dressing
Burgers on the grill
Hatch Green Chile Burgers on the Grill

Combine ground beef with chilies, garlic, salt and pepper and divide into four equal patties. Put the patties on the grill to cook. Make sure the grill is hot to seal in the flavor. I'll end up moving the patties around to make sure they all get cooked evenly. 

In one bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. In a second bowl combine breadcrumbs, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. In a third bowl, combine the egg and milk. Dust the onions in the flour and wash in the egg mixture, and then cover with breadcrumbs. Transfer the onions to a pot with about an inch of hot peanut oil. Remove the onions to a paper towel once they have become golden brown.

Assemble the burgers in Kaiser rolls, topping the grilled patties with sliced avocado and crispy onion straws. Finish with some ranch dressing. 



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why Are Rotisserie Chickens Cheaper Than Raw Chicken?

We use our share of rotisserie chickens at home, sometimes one a week. This gives a great insight into the cost per pound of home cooked chicken versus a store cooked rotisserie chicken.





Why Are Rotisserie Chickens Cheaper Than Raw Chicken?:



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Guinness Beer Batter

Over the weekend we had a fish fry with some of the fish I caught in Hackberry. Some friends came over and helped us eat all the food. We kept it pretty simple. Just fish and some fries. I like to use a doubled up brown paper bag to shake the fish in the seasoning. Everything turned out great, and I have been able to enjoy some leftover fish for lunch a few days this week. There is even talk of using some of the extra fish for tacos later on this week. The picture below is from this weekend, which makes me wish I was better aboutt taking pictures back in school.

Fish Fry
Top: Fried fish
Bottom Left: Dropped in the oil. Bottom Right: Battered fish ready to fry

I was looking through old recipes and came across a Guinness beer batter I had for one our of big fish fries back in college. I remember it turning out really well and really need to try it again. One thing I remember is that it has a tendency to stick to the basket. We got around that by dropping the basket in the oil first, and then dropping each piece of fish in the oil individually. The recipe itself was inspired by the fish and chips at a bar we would go to in school. They used Newcastle Brown Ale and we really wanted to try a different flavor.

The recipe:

1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup beer (1/2 of a bottle)
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs

Fish 
Peanut Oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Hand batter the fish. Heat the peanut oil to 375 degrees. Most people will do 350 degrees, but the temperature will drop as soon as you put the fish in. Drop the basket in to the oil. Drop each piece of fish in to the oil individually. When the fish turns gold brown, usually about 5 minutes, it is ready to come out. Let it cool on paper towels and it is ready to eat.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mustard Roasted Potatoes Recipe | POPSUGAR Food

I've always preferred mustard potato salad over the mayonnaise variety. The spicier the better. This is interesting take on roasted potatoes where the roasted potatoes meet the mustard potato salad.



Mustard Roasted Potatoes Recipe | POPSUGAR Food:



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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

M&M Cookies

M&M Cookies - About to go in the oven
Ready to go in the oven.
It's been raining quite a bit here the last few days, so the boys haven't been able to play outside. It seems that they live for the outdoors, so they've been handling it pretty well. Last night I decided to do something special for them and bake some cookies. They even got try some of the batter! I was looking for chocolate chips in the pantry, but I ended up having to settle for M&Ms. This recipe is adapted from my Anyone Can Cook book. It makes about 12 cookies.


The Recipe:
1/4 cup butter - softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup m&ms

M&M Cookies ready to eat
Ready to eat!
Mix together the butter, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and baking soda with a hand mixer or stand mixer until combined. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined. Slowly mix in the flour until combined. Stir in the m&ms. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 - 10 minutes.






Sunday, August 7, 2016

Quick and Easy Way to Dice an Onion - 4 Easy Steps

I can't point fingers because I used to be in the same boat, but I see people all the time who struggle to dice an onion. I watch them want to peel the onion, cut in half, cut it in to strips, and then try to dice each strip. That's too many steps, takes way too long, and is really just too complicated.

Quick and Easy Way to Dice an Onion - 4 Easy Steps
Top Left: Whole Onion;  Top Right: Onion with Ends Cut Off;
Bottom Left: Half of Onion Cut in to 1/4 Inch Strips; Bottom Right: Whole Onion Diced

I like to start by cutting off the ends of the onion. Then I cut it in half, perpendicular to the cuts I made on each end. At this point it should peel pretty easily. The onion skin should come off fairly easily. Now place it fat side down. This is the side that was once the middle of the of the onion. The  two ends of the onion should be on either side. Now cut the onion into strips about 1/4 wide, without cutting all the way to the other side. This will help hold the onion together for the next step. Now rotate the onion 90 degrees. Cut through all the strips you just cut. The knife will be cutting perpendicular to the strips you cut in the previous step. You will still have a strip of onion left at the end, but it should be small enough to quickly dice with just a few cuts.

Hopefully this method will save you some time and some tears in the kitchen.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Paper Co Coffee - My Old Stomping Grounds

Yesterday I had the privilege of making the trip over to Paper Co Coffee, my old stomping grounds. Well, sort of. I used to work there some years back, sort of. When I worked there it was called Taft Street Coffee.

Paper Co Coffee is located inside of a church in Houston called Ecclesia. For many years their home was at 2115 Taft Street. I worked in the coffee shop and music venue for a few years back in the early 2000's. Now located in the First Ward, all proceeds go towards assisting the homeless get a meal or simply a place to belong.

I arrived at 1100 Elder and walked around the building to try to take it all in and then went inside to get my fill. I grabbed a latte and walked the halls of the new building looking at the art on the walls, which I was glad to see as a carryover from the old space.

1100 Elder Ecclesia, Paper Co Coffee
1100 Elder
The coffee beans are roasted in house, which is a huge plus. My latte was full flavored and really didn't require any sugar or flavoring to be the perfect cup of coffee, just what I needed on a Wednesday afternoon. For me, this coffee put the big-box stores to shame.

I had already eaten, but I couldn't help myself from looking at the menu. The Nashville Hot Chicken and the Texas Burger caught my attention, among other fare on the menu. I will definitely have to return for lunch soon.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Grilling Mistakes | POPSUGAR Food

Some really great advice here. If you're following these rules/guidelines, you're definitely missing out on what your grilled food could be - and it's not just barbecue!



Grilling Mistakes | POPSUGAR Food:



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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Father and Son Fishing Trip

Last weekend my dad treated us to a fishing trip. When my brother and I were little and we had a little free time, we would head down to Galveston, TX every weekend we could and wade in the waters of Galveston Bay and fish until we ran out of shrimp, while munching on cold fried chicken to keep us going. We'd even charter a boat maybe once a year.

This trip was a little bit more sophisticated than the trips of our youth. We made the trip over south Louisiana to the town of Hackberry, which sits right on Lake Calcasieu. Hackberry Rod and Gun gets you setup and treats you right. Dinner is at 7:00 and the wake up call is at 4:30. Coffee and breakfast are ready and waiting for you.

In the morning we met our guide and loaded up the boat. Our guide, Jimmy, took us out first to catch our bait. Armed with mullet and pogey, we spent the day chasing red fish and speckled trout. We caught a few flounder too. We didn't catch our limit, but we were happy with the 27 fish we caught. Jimmy filleted our fish for us, washed it and bagged it. The red fish was filleted with the skin and scales left on, called on the half shell, which is the traditional way. 

Back at home, I put the red fish on the grill with simple seasoning of black pepper and salt. With the scales on, you leave the fish on the grill scales side down and cook until done without flipping. We made fish tacos and used the rest of the fish for some seafood chowder with some shrimp.