Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Taco Tuesday on the 4th of July

Carnitas
Carnitas Ready for Nachos

It's been pretty busy around here, leaving little time for blogging. But I'm back and ready to go, with some great new ideas.


Rewind to the 4th of July. We always have a block party in the cul de sac and this was no exception. We all decided to do a nacho bar and have everyone chip in. Homemade guacamole, pico de gallo, smoked chicken, and my contribution, carnitas.


For the carnitas, I looked at a few recipes and got work!



The Recipe:
  • 4 to 5 pound pork butt
  • 3/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Cilantro
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 5 Garlic Cloves - Minced


Carnitas on the Smoker
Carnitas on the Smoker
Combine the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, and spices. I used fresh squeezed juices for mine. Marinate the pork butt overnight. I used a gallon storage bag. Make sure to save the marinade for basting.

The next morning, get the smoker fired up. I use a combination of lump oak charcoal and hickory and pecan chunks in my smoker. Tips on getting the smoker started can be found here.

Once the smoker is ready, bring out the pork butt. Mine was on the smoker about 8 hours. I keep the smoker temperature between 200 - 250 degrees and go for a target internal temperature of at least 140 degrees.

Carnitas on the Smoker
Carnitas ready to come
off the smoker!
Once the pork butt is off the smoker, it needs to rest. If it comes out of the smoker too early, with maybe a few hours before dinner, wrap it in foil and put it in an empty cooler. This keeps it hot without over cooking it.

Once the pork butt is ready, it is time to pull it apart. I've found the best way to do this either with 2 forks or your hands.

Now, it's time to pile the carnitas insise some tortillas or on a pile of chips!

Happy Eating!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Pad Thai

I've always loved Pad Thai. My love adventure with this classic Thai dish began when I was younger and wasn't sure what else to order when we would go out for Thai food! I've slowly gotten a bit more courageous, but I keep falling back to my first love of Pad Thai!

Pad Thai
Pad Thai
The other night, we were on the phone and my wife's aunt mentioned how she always remembers how good it was when I made Pad Thai for the family a few years back. I dusted off my recipe, and my wok, and set out to make it for dinner!

The Recipe:
  • 2 Limes - Juiced
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 3 Green Onions - Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
  • 1 Cup Chopped Chicken
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Peanuts
  • 1 Package Rice Noodles

The key to making great food in a wok, is to get the wok good and hot. That said, the food is going to cook really fast, leaving very little time to prep in between steps. It is best to get everything chopped, prepped, and ready, before the cooking process starts. I've found that each brand and package of rice noodles has different instructions. It typically involves soaking the noodles in hot water. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package. I find it is best to get this going first. It usually takes around 30 minutes. 

Pad Thai
Pad Thai
Over medium-high to high heat, add the peanut oil to the wok. Throw in the green onions and garlic. Stir around quickly. Once the garlic starts to brown, add in the 4 eggs, all at the same time. I like to use a whisk here to scramble the eggs over the heat. It makes it easier to keep the eggs from staying in one piece too. Add in the rice vinegar and fish sauce. 

Combine the chicken and cayenne in a bowl. Stir to coat the chicken with the cayenne. Add the chicken to the wok. Stir occasionally until cooked. 

Add in the peanuts and rice noodles. To make sure everything gets combined and the noodles get heated evenly, the best thing to do here is toss everything like a salad! Add in the lime juice and cilantro as you stir it.

I like to serve this with soy sauce, sriracha, and garlic chili paste.

For a few different variations, this recipe also works great with shrimp, beef, and pork. Just make sure to adjust the cooking times accordingly. 


For tips on cleaning your wok after use, go here.

Happy eating! 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chicken Fried Venison

Chicken Fried Venison
Chicken Fried Venison
Over the weekend, my dad gave me some venison steaks. I almost immediately decided that some chicken fried venison was in order. So I grabbed some potatoes to make some home fries and got to work!

The Recipe:

  • Venison Steaks
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
Marinate the venison in enough milk to cover for 4 to 6 hours. The amount of milk you use, will largely depend on the size of the container and how many venison steaks you have. 

After the steaks have marinated in the milk, mix together some flour, salt, and pepper. To be honest, I didn't measure this. I just used what I thought was enough. It's always good to have extra. Generously cover the venison in the flour mixture.

Chicken Fried Venison
Chicken Fried Venison
In a cast iron skillet, heat about a half inch of oil. To test if the oil is hot enough, sprinkle some flour in it. If it sizzles with the flour, it is ready. Place the venison steaks in the oil. Cook about 5 to 7 minutes a side. 

Happy eating!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stuffed Jumbo Shells

Stuffed Shells
Stuffed Shells
I always loved getting stuffed pastas when I was little when we would go out to eat. It seemed so exotic! How did they get the stuffing inside the pasta? Now not that I've mastered the art if pasta making, I'm still in awe of people who can make tortellini, but in my house we like to make our own ravioli and stuffed shells! Today's recipe is for stuffed jumbo shells.


The Recipe:
  • 2 15 Ounce Containers of Ricotta
  • 1 Package of Fresh Spinach
  • 1 Recipe Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Cup Shredded Chicken (optional)
  • 1 Box Jumbo Shells
  • Shredded Mozzarella
  • Salt and Pepper

Equipment:
  • Piping Bag
  • 13x9 Baking Dish
  • Food Processor

In boiling water, cook the jumbo shells until slightly al dente. Set aside.

Combine 1 container of ricotta with the tomato sauce. Set aside.

Using a food processor, combine the remaining​ container of ricotta with the spinach. I don't measure it, but I go off of color. A light, pale green us a good mix. You'll know it when you see it. Mix in some salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken if you are adding that to the mix.

Using a piping bag or 2 spoons, fill each shell with the ricotta mixture. Position each shell face up in the baking dish. Once the baking dish is full, pour the tomatoe sauce and ricotta over the shells. Then cover it up with the mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted and starting to brown, usually about 30 minutes.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No Sugar Tomato Sauce

For as long as I can remember, I've added sugar to my tomato sauce. Whether I'm making something quick or an all day affair, I've used sugar to cut down on the acidity from the tomatoes. The other day, I decided to try something different. Instead of the usual sugar, I added some carrots to the sauce. The naturally sweet carrots took care of the job the sugar usually performs, and added some extra nutrients too!

The Recipe:

  • 1 Large Onion - Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Diced
  • 3 Celery Stalks - Chopped
  • 3 Carrots - Peeled and Chopped
  • 2 Large Cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Red Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Basil
  • No Sugar Tomato Sauce
    No Sugar Tomato Sauce
  • Olive Oil

In a heavy bottom stock pot, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the remaining ingredients. 

From here, there are 2 different routes to take: 

The high heat method, which can be little risky, but can make the in less than an hour. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Be careful with the high heat method, because tomatoes can burn very easily. just make sure to stir the sauce often to prevent burning. 

The low heat method, which is definitely the safer route. Once the onions and garlic are ready, reduce to the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally. The low heat method will allow all of the ingredients to break down and help the flavors come together, without the risk of burning.

Either way, I like to use a heat diffuser with my sauce, to help evenly distribute the heat around the bottom of the pot.

Once the sauce is cooked, I like to blend everything together with an immersion blender, to break down all the large pieces.

Happy eating!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto
Mushroom Risotto
Risotto is one of those things I always heard was really hard to make. But once I watched someone make it, and how simple it is, I had to try it fr myself.

The Recipe:

  • 1 Onion - Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 Quart Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter - divided
  • 1 Package Portobello Mushrooms - Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • Spinach - Rough Chopped (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/4 Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Mushroom Risotto
Sauté the rice in butter
until translucent





In a saucepan, heat the chicken broth to a slow simmer. In a heavy bottom Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Over medium-high heat, sauté the arborio rice until translucent, or not quite browned.



Remove the rice from the pot. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Sauté the onions and garlic until slightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the dry white wine. Return the arborio rice back to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper.


Mushroom Risotto
Add the broth one ladle
at a time

The next step is where it can get a little tricky. It's not hard, it just takes patience. Add the chicken broth to the rice, one ladle at a time. The rice is going to slowly absorb the chicken broth. Don't rush it by turning the heat up too much or the chicken broth will evaporate instead of absorbing in to the rice. Stir the rice occasionally. As the chicken broth absorbs into the rice, add another ladle one at time.






When the last ladle of broth has been added, add the mushrooms. The mushrooms will cook quickly. When the broth is fully absorbed, the mushrooms are done.

Mushroom Risotto
Add the spinach
at the very end




If you are adding the spinach, stir it in just before turning off the heat. The remaining heat in the rice will cook it.







Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the ricotta and mozzarella cheese. 




Some other variations to try are mushroom and asparagus, summer veggies, or pumpkin for the fall!


Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is a staple in our kitchen. We always have a mason jar of it in the fridge. It comes in handy for sweetening drinks and coffees and using as a base to make other flavored syrups. It is so easy, I'm surprised they sell it in the store!

Simple Syrup
Simple Syrup in my trusty Mason Jar
The Recipe:
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
Add the water and sugar to sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Stir with a whisk until all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. See how easy that was!

Note: Although the recipe is for 1 cup, it is easy to convert to any quantity. Just make sure that amount of water and the amount of sugar are equal.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Best Houston Coffee Shops

Anyone who knows me really well, knows that I drink a lot of coffee. So it seems fitting to compile a list of my favorite coffee shops around Houston. This list was surprisingly hard to make. There are so many great places to get a cup of coffee in this city, that limiting it to 10 meant leaving out some of those great places. Why 10? Well, a Top 10 list seems pretty standard, and I've already started a trend with the Houston Essential Restaurants 2016 post!

To be a great coffee shop is pretty simple. Good music, WiFi, comfy chairs are a plus, but overall good coffee! Oh and one more thing, it has to be a Houston original.

Paper Co Coffee
Paper Co Coffee



Paper Co Coffee
1100 Elder Street

Look for the blue door. Paper Co Coffee is located just across Buffalo Bayou from downtown. There is an art gallery off to the side that is always great to walk through.







Mod Coffeehouse
Mod Coffeehouse

Mod Coffee (Galveston, TX)
2126 Post Office St, Galveston, TX, 77550

I've always enjoyed heading to The Strand down in Galveston, but lately I've enjoyed exploring the streets in the surrounding area. Mod is located just a few streets away from the hustle and bustle of The Strand.








Boomtown Coffee
Boomtown Coffee


Boomtown Coffee

242 W 19th Street


If you're in The Heights area, Boomtown Coffee is a must for your daily fix. Grab a cup to-go and head across the street to get your vinyl fix at Vinyl Edge Records.





Catalina Coffee
Catalina Coffee



Catalina Coffee
2201 Washington Ave

This is a great place to stop in when things get busy on the Washington Corridor! You'll find a quiet table and a great cup of coffee!





Southside Espresso
Southside Espresso




Southside Espresso
904 Westheimer Road, Suite C

I love Southside's outdoor courtyard area. They have a great coffee and tap selection too!





Tout Suite
Tout Suite

Toot Suite
2001 Commerce Street

I was first introduced to Tout Suite by my wife, who loved their macaroons at first sight! I've since gotten to know them for their coffee and delicious eats! They have two locations, Downtown and Memorial City.




Agora
Agora



Agora
1712 Westheimer Road

After my beloved Diedrich Coffee closed, I ventured further down Westheimer to find this Greek inspired coffeehouse. When I walked in it was full of writers and readers and thinkers enjoying cheeses and coffee and the occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer.




DeNovo Coffee 
DeNovo Coffee
DeNovo Coffee
4800 Louetta Road, Spring, TX
520 W Main Street, Tomball, TX 

This North Houston drive thru coffee shop is perfect for the coffee lover on the go. There is one location in Spring and another in Tomball.


Siphon Coffee
Siphon Coffee




Siphon Coffee
701 West Alabama



I love this place for the modern atmosphere, amazing coffee, and good eats! When the weather is nice, they have a great side patio.




Jane and John Dough
Jane and John Dough



Jane and John Dough (Tomball, TX)
208 N Elm Street, Tomball, TX

This little bakery in Tomball is putting out delicious pastries and amazing coffee. It has quickly become one of my go-to Saturday morning breakfast spots!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Chicken Salad

Lately, I've been looking for ways to make dinner prep a little easier. So I decided to put together a series of 4 recipes using a rotisserie chicken, something that can be picked up at the store on your way home from work and then combined with a few simple ingredients that may already be in your kitchen. The last recipe in the series is Chicken Salad.

4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Chicken Salad
Chicken Salad

The Recipe:

  • 1 Cup Chicken - Cubed
  • 1 Cup Grapes - Halved
  • 3 Apples - Diced
  • 1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Celery - Diced
  • 2 Green Onions - Diced
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt and Pepper

This Chicken Salad is by far the easiest recipe of the series. Just combine all of the ingredients and bowl. I don't measure the mayonnaise. For me, it's a consistency thing. I add a little at a time until everything is combined. The mayonnaise serves more as a binder than as a flavoring ingredient. If there's too much, it just tastes like mayonnaise. The chicken should still the star. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I like to serve mine as a sandwich on toasted bread. It goes well on a bed of lettuce too!


Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

Lately, I've been looking for ways to make dinner prep a little easier. So I decided to put together a series of 4 recipes using a rotisserie chicken, something that can be picked up at the store on your way home from work and then combined with a few simple ingredients that may already be in your kitchen. The third recipe in the series is Greek Chicken Pasta Salad. You may notice this one as a repeat, but it works so well with a rotisserie chicken I couldn't leave it out of the series!
4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

The Recipe:



This recipe is super simple to make on a busy weeknight. With the rotisserie chicken, the only thing to cook is the pasta. I don't measure anything. I just put everything in a big bowl and mix it up. My only requirement is to go heavy on the olives, the more the better! Combine all of the ingredients, poor the dressing over, and serve. It's that simple!

Happy eating!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Greek Salad Dressing

Lately, I've been more and more interested in making things myself, instead of buying them from the grocery store. From spaghetti sauce to barbecue sauce to various vinaigrettes, the flavors that come from these home made version knock the store bought items of the water. It may seem like it takes more time to make these items yourself, bought they are all super easy. And, the items use are probably all in your pantry already! Today I'm sharing a new recipe for Greek Salad Dressing!


Greek Salad Dressing
Combine the ingredients in a mason jar and shake for a few
minutes to combine. 


The Recipe:


  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Large Lemon - Juiced
  • 1 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper



This recipe is really simple. Just combine the ingredients and mix. I like to put all of the ingredients in medium sized mason jar so I can store for it later. Just put all of the ingredients in the jar and give it a shake. Now to pick out some salad ingredients!

Happy eating!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Chicken Roll-Ups

Lately, I've been looking for ways to make dinner prep a little easier. So I decided to put together a series of 4 recipes using a rotisserie chicken, something that can be picked up at the store on your way home from work and then combined with a few simple ingredients that may already be in your kitchen. The second recipe in the series is Chicken Roll-Ups.


The Recipe:
4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Chicken Roll-Ups
Chicken Roll-Ups
  • 2 Cups Cooked Chopped Chicken
  • 2/3 Cup Mushrooms - Sliced
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese
  • 2 Green Onions - Chopped
  • 2 Cans Crescent Rolls
  • 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  • 1 Recipe Bread Crumbs
  • Preheat Oven to 50 Degrees


Combine the cooked chicken, mushrooms, green onions, and cream cheese in a bowl. Unroll and separate the crescent rolls. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into each crescent roll. This will take around 2 tablespoons each. Wrap the crescent rolls around to cover the mixture. Arrange the roll-ups on a greased sheet pan. Brush each roll-up with the melted butter and dust then dust the bread crumbs. Place in the oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Chicken and Rice Casserole

Lately, I've been looking for ways to make dinner prep a little easier. So I decided to put together a series of 4 recipes using a rotisserie chicken, something that can be picked up at the store on your way home from work and then combined with a few simple ingredients that may already be in your kitchen. The first recipe in the series is Chicken and Rice Casserole.
4 Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken - Chicken and Rice Casserole
Chicken and Rice Casserole

The Recipe
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 3 Teaspoons Chicken Bouillon
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 2 Cups Cooked Chicken - Cubed
  • 1/2 Cup Mushrooms - Sliced
  • 4 Cups Cooked Rice
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees
Melt the butter in a small to medium sauce pan. Add in the flour, chicken bouillon, and milk. Stir to combine. Stir occasionally until it reaches a boil and remove from heat. 

In an 11 x 17 baking dish, combine the rice, chicken, and mushrooms. Spread evenly around baking dish. Pour the chicken bouillon mixture over the rice, making sure to cover the rice evenly. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with cheese. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until the cheese is melted and starts to brown. 

Happy eating.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Junior's Texas BBQ and Seafood

I went through the archives and found another throwback post from my days as the Houston BBQ Examiner. This time around, I'm sharing a restaurant review I wrote for Junior's Texas BBQ and Seafood!


Junior's Texas Barbecue and Seafood
Junior's Texas Barbecue and Seafood
Although the restaurant and clientele may seem a little ruff on the outside, it is quickly apparent that Junior’s Texas Barbecue and Seafood is a place where everybody knows your name. It is apparent that the people sitting around the bar have all shared some good times together. The restaurant is homely and everybody is a friend. You will quickly find yourself caught up in a conversation with a stranger, enjoying a beer.
The menu covers the classic barbecue and seafood dishes with little flair, but the food itself makes up for it. A perfectly sweet barbecue sauce accompanies the tender brisket and ribs, chicken and turkey, ham and sausage. The chopped beef sandwich is great and far from a sloppy-joe, like some of the other places out there. The beef in these sandwiches has a ruff chop that helps the sandwich to really stick together. The seafood options include fried shrimp baskets and poboys, all served with fries. The classic barbecue sides, beans, coleslaw, and potato salad are all there too.
The only draw back is the service, which is where everybody being friends turns out to be a bad thing. Often times, the waitresses seem busier catching up with friends than bringing out the food orders. But, it is hard to feel unwelcome with the friendly waitresses, and the clientele make up for the wait, making the time fly by.
All in all, Junior’s is worth a try. Stop by for lunch or dinner, or for a drink with friends after work.

Happy Eating.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Homemade Pasta

Fresh Pasta
Fresh Pasta
For some reason, I always talk myself out of making fresh pasta. It seems like so much extra work! But in the end, it is worth it. The pasta is so much better than the store bought version.



The Recipe:

  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Egg

Makes 1 Serving.


Make a crater in the mound of flour in a bowl. Add the egg in to the middle of the flour. With a fork, slowly beat the egg inside of the crater. Slowly incorporate the flour in to the egg. Continue stirring until all of the flour is mixed with the egg. You may have to use your hands to get all of the flour mixed in. You want the dough to be a little sticky. It should not have the same consistency of pastry dough.


Making Fresh Pasta
Making Fresh Pasta
Run the pasta through a pasta roller, starting with the widest setting. The first few times through the roller, it will seem the dough is crumbling. Once the dough runs through the roller, fold it back in half and run it through again. Continue this process until the dough comes back together. Set the roller to the next smallest setting. Run through each setting at least twice until the desired thickness is reached. 


After the pasta goes through the roller, it is time to cut the sheets in to smaller strips. Lay the sheets on a floured surface. Fold the sheets over lengthwise, in thirds. I like to cut through the pasta with a sharp knife. I don't look for a uniform size. 


Once the pasta is cut to size, it is ready to cook. Add the pasta to boiling water. It will cook much faster that dried pasta. It will be al dente in 3 to 5 minutes. 


Happy Eating!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Spring is around the corner and Summer will follow soon after. That means that barbecues and pool days are on the way! The best thing to add to those barbecues and cookouts is the perfect homemade barbecue sauce.


The Recipe:
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Homemade Barbecue Sauce

  • 3 Cups Tomato Puree
  • 2/3 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Celery Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne (optional)
  • 2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and bring almost to a boil. Reduce heat let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

After 1 hour, bring out the blender. This will help remove any clumps that have formed and bring all of the flavors together. If you have an immersion blender (if you don't have one, I highly recommend you get one), you can blend it up directly in the pot and save a dish.

Let it simmer for another 30 minutes.

If you are looking for a spicy barbecue sauce, add the cayenne pepper.

Most good barbecue sauce recipes out there have some beer in the base. A good bock or dark lager works well. Add about a 1/2 Cup to bring out some more flavor in your sauce.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Quick Trick for Making Buttermilk

If you're like me, you often find yourself needing buttermilk, but there's no buttermilk to be found. Instead of making a trip to the grocery store, here's a quick and easy trick to make your own buttermilk.


The Recipe:
  • White Vinegar or Lemon Juice 
  • Milk


Add 1 Tablespoon to a measuring cup and add enough milk to make a cup. Let sit for five minutes. I like to do this first while I'm gathering the rest of the ingredients. Of course, this can be edited depending on how much you need.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Baked Brie

This is one of favorite, simple, almost effortless appetizers to make for parties. I made it over the weekend and forgot to snap a picture. I think you'll get the idea though.

The Recipe:

  • 1 Package Brie Cheese - Rind Removed
  • 1 Package Pasty or Croissant Dough
Wrap the Brie in the pasty dough. It should resemble a small loaf of bread. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving, to allow the Brie to set. I like to serve it with a raspberry jelly on the side.

Happy eating. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pollos Asados el Rodeo

I found another article in the archives from my time as the Houston Barbecue Examiner. This time, it is a little food truck on I-10 East called Pollos Asados el Rodeo.


Pollos Asados el Rodeo
Pollos Asados el Rodeo
Walking up to Pollos Asados El Rodeo, the smell of smoked chicken fills the air. Located on the Southeast corner of South Wayside and I-10, the yellow trailer is the perfect place to stop for a quick bite in the east side of Houston. The menu is simple. Six dollars will buy a half chicken, with homemade corn tortillas, charro beans, green chili sauce, and a lime. If that is not enough, ten dollars will buy the whole chicken. Additional side portions are available for another dollar.

On the down side, there is no place to sit, but the food is wrapped up ready to take home or back to work, making it ideal for a meal on the go. Overall, the food at Pollos Asados is basic. But that is the charm. The chicken is cooked to perfection, leaving anyone wanting for more.  This writer is ready for the leftovers in the fridge and planning another visit. Happy eating. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

7 Tasty Chicken Wing Recipes Perfect for Your Weekend Party

We've all got plans this weekend. You're probably having a party. If you need some ideas for what to make for all of your friends, check out these chicken wing recipes.



7 Tasty Chicken Wing Recipes Perfect for Your Weekend Party:



'via Blog this'

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sausage and Peppers with Pasta

Sausage and Peppers with Pasta
Sausage and Peppers with Pasta
There's nothing I love better than a classic Italian recipe. So when I first came across this idea, I had to work on my own version!


The Recipe:

  • 3 - 5 Links Sweet Italian Sausage - Sliced
  • 1 Onion - Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced 
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper - Rough Chopped 
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper - Rough Chopped 
  • 1 Package Cherry Tomatoes 
  • Pasta - Linguine, Pappardelle, and Fettuccine work well
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Grated Parmesan 
  • Salt and Pepper



Brown the sausage in a skillet
Brown the sausage in a skillet. 




Brown the sausage in a heavy bottom skillet. Remove sausage to bowl to add later. Saute the onion and garlic in the sausage grease. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bell peppers. Saute until the peppers are wilted. Add the sausage back in. Add the tomatoes. Stir occasionally until the tomatoes begin to open. Toss the sausage and peppers with the pasta in a large bowl. Serve with chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan.






Optionally, I like to add some crushed red pepper flakes with the the onions to give a little extra spice.


I like to make this with some rustic, rough cut fresh pasta. Dried pasta works well here too.
Happy eating.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cookpad

I've stumbled across a website called Cookpad. They are a Japanese based website that serves as a digital recipe box for sharing and discovering new recipes. I plan to have a few recipes posted there in the next few days, so be sure to check it out. You can find me under memyselfandcuisine.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Italian Sausage Zucchini Soup, Slow Cooker Style

Some nights, you need something that is easy to make. The crock pot comes in to play here. A lot of times we will try to rework a recipe we already have for the crock pot, so we can focus on other things. Last weekend we did that with Italian Sausage Zucchini Soup. Check out the original recipe here.
Italian Sausage Zucchini Soup, Slow Cooker Style
Italian Sausage Zucchini Soup, Slow Cooker Style

The Recipe
  • 1 Package Italian Sausage - Sliced
  • 2 Onions - Diced
  • 2 Zucchini - Sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 Cups Merlot
  • 2 15 oz Cans Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 Boxes Beef Broth
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - Diced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Pasta - Penne, Farfalle, and Rigatoni work really well

Brown the sausage in a pan. Sauté the onion and garlic in the juices left from the sausage. Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. If time permits, add the pasta about 30 minutes in. This will help keep the pasta from over cooking. 


Happy eating.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Seven Layer Dip

I'm borrowing this recipe from my wife. She made a Seven Layer Dip for a Super Bowl Party we went to over the weekend, and I had to share the recipe!



The Recipe:

Seven Layer Dip
Seven Layer Dip
  • 2 Cans jalapeno refried beans
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 3 to 4 medium avocados
  • 1/2 onion - diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cups Mexican Blend cheese
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 2 to 3 green onions
  • salt and pepper

Mash the avocados in a bowl. Combine with salt and pepper, lime juice, and the diced onion to make a guacamole. This is the bottom layer of the dip. Combine the 2 cans of refried beans and mix in the cumin, garlic power, onion powder, and some salt and pepper. Spread over the top of the guacamole. Combine the sour cream and cream cheese. Spread this over the refried beans. Combine the salsa and pico de gallo and spread over the sour cream. Top the salsa with the 2 cups of a Mexican blend cheese. Top the cheese with sliced black olives. Dice the green onions and spread over the olives. Serve with tortilla chips.

Happy eating.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Cleaning and Caring for Wooden Cutting Boards

Wooden Cutting Boards
My collection of wooden cutting boards.

We've all been there. A perfectly good wooden cutting board warps or separates and ends up in the garbage. We've used a wooden cutting board, and it's dirty, and it needs to be cleaned without damaging it. About ten years ago I built a butcher block from Baltic Birch plywood, and did a lot a of research. Here is what I learned while researching the project, and what I've learned since then.


I'm going to warn you. I'm a little overprotective of wood cutting boards and maybe go overboard when it comes to taking care of them. The tips here are what I do and I'm sure there are other ways of taking care of them.


    My Butcher Block
    The butcher block project that started my
    wooden cutting board obsession! 
  • The cutting board doesn't belong in the water. It is okay to give a wooden cutting board a rinse, but don't submerge. The wood will absorb the water and will warp before it dries and will never be the same.
  • If you do have to use soap and water to scrub anything off of the wooden surface, rinse it and towel dry immediately. Don't let it sit on a drying rack to dry over time. The wood can still absorb some of the water, which can cause some warping and other unwanted conditions. 
  • A pastry cutter or some other type of scraper is perfect for quick cleaning. Scrape the food scraps away and give it a quick wipe down.
  • I always keep a spray bottle full of undiluted vinegar around as a cleaning agent. Spray it on and let sit a few seconds and will clean and disinfect the wood. This vinegar spray works great on counter tops and appliances while you're cleaning up. 
Boos Block Board Cream
Board Cream/wood conditioner, vinegar spray, and mineral oil
  •  Every few months when the wood starts to feel dried out, I will apply a coat of either mineral oil or wood conditioner. Mineral oil is available at any grocery store. The wood conditioner is available at most kitchen supply stores, just make sure the one you use is food grade. 

How to Read a Recipe by Alton Brown

I'm certain that I've made a few of these mistakes too.



How to Read a Recipe by Alton Brown:



'via Blog this'

Monday, January 23, 2017

7 Easy Chinese Restaurant Recipes You Can Make at Home

I've got a few ideas brewing, like I'm going to be brewing some beer in the near future! In the meantime, if you're a Chinese food junkie like me, you'll enjoy these Chinese food recipes!



7 Easy Chinese Restaurant Recipes You Can Make at Home:



'via Blog this'

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Italian Sausage Zucchini Soup

I'm feeling a little nostalgic lately, so I decided to share a recipe we always made growing up. This soup recipe was past down from my aunt.

The Recipe:
Italian Sausage Zucchini Soup
Italian Sausage Zucchini Soup

  • 1 Package Italian Sausage - Sliced
  • 2 Onions - Diced
  • 2 Zucchini - Sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 Cups Merlot
  • 2 15 oz Cans Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 Boxes Beef Broth
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - Diced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Noodles 
Brown the Italian Sausage in a large heavy bottom stock pot. I prefer to use either sweet Italian sausage or spicy Italian sausage. The mild sausage doesn't quite fill out the flavor profile of the soup. 

Remove the browned Italian sausage from the pot. There should be about a tablespoon of grease left behind from the sausage. If not, add a little bit of olive oil. 

Sauté the onions and garlic. Add the Italian sausage back in to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Add the noodles, zucchini, and parsley and simmer another 10-15 minutes. Penne or Rigatoni pasta work the best, but I usually use whatever is lying around the pantry.

Sometimes I'll add a can of Great Northern White beans as a substitute for the noodles. Other times, I'll use both the beans and noodles to make the soup a little bit more hearty. Sometimes I'll stir in a little spinach at the end too.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Houston Essential Restaurants 2016

This is the first of what I hope to make an annual list of my top 10 Houston Restaurants. The choices and opinions are purely my own and are not meant to rule out any particular restaurant as not being great. Who knows, if a restaurant doesn't make it on this list, there is always a future list. This list is not concerned with category or genre, and my tastes may overlap with a few restaurants. I am however, working on a few Best Of categories.

When I set out to compile this list, I had one requirement. These restaurants have to be completely unique to Houston. They can't be franchises or a concept of a larger corporation. If a Houston restaurant sold its rights, they still count, just not the corporate edition. I wanted to capture the Houston experience, not the Houston experience you might experience somewhere else. Some of these restaurants I have a long history with. Others, I'm, just getting to know. 

Rosie Carrabba's
Rosie Carrabba's on Voss
As the name would imply, this is the original. It's also the original restaurant where I fell in love with the Houston food scene as a young boy. I go here, and Rosie Carrabba's on Voss as often as I can, usually for lunch. The staff is always on point, providing a solution to any situation with ease. The smell of wood oven baked pizzas and breads fills the air from the open kitchen as food is prepared. If you're lucky, there's a chance Johnny Carrabba will be there greeting each of his guests as if it was still the first day of business, 30 years ago. I still need to get over to Carrabba's newest offerings, Grace's and Mia's Table. My favorite dish: Pappardelle Campagnalo


Barnaby's
Barnaby's Cafe
Barnaby's Cafe
Named after a childhood dog, this cafe has multiple locations with a laid back vibe. The patios are dog friendly and some locations even offer Frosty Paws for for your four-legged friend. One of my favorite things about Barnaby's is that the menu covers almost all food genres. Salads, Lasagna, Burgers - I can't make a stop there without some Sweet Potato Fries with Barbecue Sauce! There's always house made fresh lemonade and don't forget about the fresh desserts! As far as my favorite, Barnaby's one of favorite places to get a burger.


Mai's
Mai's Vietnamese Restautant
Mai's Restaurant
Years ago, my fellow Starbucks baristas and I, would all gather after our shifts and make a late night drive down to Mai's Restaurant. We'd wind down after a long shift over some Vietnamese coffees and, one of my favorites, probably a vermicelli bowl. Sadly, years later Mai's fell victim to a fire. Taking the opportunity to rebuild, Mai's has a modern look and an updated menu. My favorite: Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio (Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Pork and Vietnamese Egg Rolls).


El Rey
El Rey Cuban and Mexican Cuisine
El Rey Cuban and Mexican Cuisine
El Rey combines Mexican and Cuban Cuisines, which are two of my favorites. Both cuisines make a perfect street food, a vibe I get from going in and sitting at the counter as the food is prepared right in front you. El Rey is big on flavor. Citrus marinades and spices make these delicious foods. A can't miss is the creamy Cilantro Dressing. It goes great with chips and on tacos. I always like the Tacos al Pastor or the Shrimp Tempura Taco, and the Cuban Sandwich is a must try. But my favorite is the Havana Plate, pork marinated in lemon garlic sauce (Mojo), with rice, black beans, and plantains.



Pizzitola's Barbecue
Pizzitola's Barbecue
Pizzitola's Barbecue
Originally known as Shepherd Drive Barbecue, Pizzitola's is an unassuming building that hides some of my favorite barbecue in the city. The food is simple, just salt and pepper rubs over a Texas hickory fire for flavor. I always start off with a few ribs and go in for the brisket and sausage plate with some beans and coleslaw. I'm still a bit upset that they took rice off the menu. You can't beat the fresh lemonade either! Be sure to check out the fresh desserts, especially the Banana Pudding!


Saint Arnold
Saint Arnold Brewing Co
Saint Arnold Brewing Co
I've always loved Saint Arnold, but lately it has become a favorite for lunch. They are doing some really great things in the kitchen, mostly German inspired, but with some interesting additions. For instance, a Ginger Wurst with Fried Wontons and Kim Chi. Lunch features a daily special with two courses, served from 11 to 2, and their Wurst of Der Week. They also have the typical pub fare, including bratwursts, fried chicken, and burgers. And don't forget, your meal meal comes with all you can drink root beer!


Petrol Station
Petrol Station
Petrol Station
I don't remember exactly how I found Petrol Station, it's tucked away nicely in the quiet neighborhood of Garden Oaks, but I do remember falling in love almost instantly. In the back is quiet patio, surrounded by trees. You almost forget you're in the middle of the city. The food here is pretty straight forward, although I would call it above average pub food. My go-to menu items include the Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Pulled Pork Sandwich, and The Rancor, a 1/2 lb Angus beef patty, topped with bacon, cheddar, fried egg, lettuce tomato, red onion, pickle, and mayo!


Christian's Tailgate
Christian's Tailgate
Christian's Tailgate
I first fell in love with Christian's Tailgate in its original incarnation as Christian's Totem, a dive bar on Washington Avenue. Over the years, the restaurant was updated and new locations have been added. Thankfully, the food has always stayed the same! They've added a few things since the simple hamburger and patty melt days too! Be warned if you have an adventurous side though. The double burger, now called The Giant is a full 1 lb. of beef. I was surprised when I ordered it to find myself removing the bun and eating just the beef!


RA Sushi
RA Sushi
RA Sushi
I've always been a sushi fan. The only tricky thing is trying to avoid being hungry again in an hour, without dropping $100! So when I discovered happy hour at RA Sushi, I couldn't pass it up. They have select Appetizers and Sushi from $3.49 to $8.99! Be sure to check out the Crunchy Calamari Roll and of course the Viva Las Vegas Roll!


Star PizzaEvery best restaurant list needs a pizza place, especially in Houston where there so many good pizza options. All it took for me was one trip to the original location of Star Pizza, and I was hooked! The Garlic Bread with Cheese and a side of Marinara will definitely leave you wanting more, just in time for your Starburst pizza to arrive, with its ground beef, sausage, pepperoni and veggies! Whether you go to the original location or the new one on Washington, you won't leave disappointed!


Happy eating!