Really Eating Real Food

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizzas
Dough Ingredients
1tbsp yeast
1 cup of warm water
2 tbsp oil
1tsp sugar
1tsp salt
2 cups of whole wheat flour [or 2.5 regular flour]

Preparation
In the kitchen-aide
Dissolve yeast in water + oil
Stir in sugar, salt & flour in Kitchenaide
Mix until ball forms
Let rise for 5 minutes
1 batch yields 5 individual pizzas
Set oven to 500F
Grease your pan
Raw bacon on crust & place in oven until bacon starts to cook (about for 5-7 minutes)
Crack egg + salt & pepper
Place back in the oven and cook until egg is done

Black Butte Porter Barbecue Sauce

This evening we did something rather crazy: we made six different barbecue sauce combinations for an event we have coming up and I made a seventh, the Black Butte Porter barbecue sauce, just because once you’ve made six a seventh isn’t that big a deal.  And I like Black Butte Porter, so that seemed like a good idea.  I’m going to confess to being a bit of a make-it-up-as-you-go sauce maker, so I don’t have exact measurements.  Additionally, since we just wanted to taste the sauce on the ribs I had smoked I only made about a cup and a half of sauce.  My wife told me that this is her new favorite sauce we should make when I smoke meat.  I agree!

So the recipe, as close as I can guess it was, looked like this:

  • 6oz of Black Butte Porter
  • 3/4cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • various seasonings that went roughly like
    • 2 tsp chipotle powder
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Begin by bringing the Black Butte Porter just to a boil and then let simmer until it has condensed/thickened to about a quarter it’s original volume (4.5 ounces or so).  Add in the rest of the ingredients and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  You may want to add salt or pepper to taste.

This sauce is rich and has that wonderful Black Butte flavor blended right into your ‘que.  If you tweak this in any way, let me know and I’ll try it out.

This recipe is public domain and can and should be shared with the world.

Easy Meal: Mexican Lasagna

AKA: Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients

1 package of flour tortillas (10-12)
1 16oz Enchilada sauce (prefer Kroger Chipotle flavor)
1 16oz sour cream
1 15-16oz can refried beans
1 Smoked Tabasco hot sauce (add to sour cream sauce to taste)
4 chicken breasts
4 cups shredded cheese
(optional) 6-8oz of Velveeta cheese or other cheese sauce
PAM or other vegetable spray

Directions

In a covered pan or pot boil the chicken breasts for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.
Mix the 16 ounces of sour cream with about 3-4 ounces of enchilada sauce and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
While the chicken breasts are cooking spray the slow cooker with vegetable spray, put a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom. Put one tortilla down over the sauce, layer in some cheese (or melted velveeta) and put another tortilla on top of that. Spread a layer of beans over the top tortilla and cover with another tortilla.

When the chicken is cooked through shred it and mix it in with the sour cream and enchilada sauce mix from above.

Spread a layer (about ½” thick) on top of the top tortilla in the slow cooker. Place another tortilla on top.
Repeat the layers above until you have built 2-3 repeated layer patterns. Finish with 3-4 ounces of enchilada sauce on the top tortilla and sprinkle cheese to cover.

Set slow cooker on low for 2.5 hours.

Note: Tortillas may be folded in half or quarters and trimmed to fit into the crockpot more evenly.

Caramel Espresso Barbecue Sauce

For July 4th I smoked pounds and pounds of meat for company, we also made this home made barbecue sauce based on Michael Chiarello’s Espresso barbecue sauce found here, the following barbecue sauce adds a caramel twist that we found delicious.

Espresso Barbecue Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons mashed and minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup caramel sauce (we made ours ahead of time, you may try some store bought)
  • Grey salt
  • 2 demitasse cups espresso (or about 1/2 cup of strong coffee or instant espresso)

Fresh ground black pepper

Mash garlic with the side of a knife and then mince finely to release oils.

Add olive oil to a preheated saute pan. Add the garlic and saute until it gets light brown, about 1 minute. Add cider vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and honey and stir well. Add a pinch of grey salt, then whisk in the coffee. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.

Let cool and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: about 5 to 6 cups

A Finance Story on a Food Blog: Smoking

I don’t smoke cigarettes.  In fact I’m allergic to tobacco, so it pretty much goes without saying that cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chew and the like are right out.  However, I love to smoke meat.  You might say I have a problem.  This all started back in the day when I lived in Texas and was exposed to Euless Main Barbecue.  It’s only open Friday-Sunday.  The rest of the week they’re busy smoking meat to keep up with the demand on the weekends.  It’s the best barbecue you’ll ever get at a restaurant.  In 2004 my family and I moved to Denver, Colorado.  I know what you’re thinking: “Randy, Denver has barbecue.”  You’re right, but they don’t have Euless Main (or Texas) barbecue like I remember.

Alton Brown did an episode on smoking pork butt and he made a terra cotta smoker inexpensively [heretofore: the AB Special].  I followed suit because there just needed to be more barbecue in my life.  Then, two years ago I got a Brinkmann grill and smoker (if you used this as a grill you’d have to be smoking crack).  I wanted something with more space than the AB special for cooking turkeys and they like during the holidays.  Except that the design of this smoker is something like the design of a Dodge Ram pickup with a yugo engine: it just doesn’t come equipped to produce heat enough to cook the meat to doneness.  So after just over a year of various tweaks, disappointments and frustrations of undercooked food I started eyeing a larger smoker that I was sure I could get cooked, tasty, smoked barbecue from.

I upgraded this last June to a Char-Griller Outlaw “Texas Smoker” with a side-box.  So for July 4th I wanted to prepare a massive get-together to have smoked meat, tasty meat and more meat.  We invited a ton of people only for me to realize I couldn’t provide that much meat in one cooking session.  So I got a pork butt to smoke (the AB Special’s hot plate bit the dust just this week) and thought, “I can’t fire up the Texas Smoker, it just uses too much lump charcoal.”   Can I get a hot plate for the AB Special?  I went to the hardware store: they were out.  Wait, what if I can get a larger bowl into the Brinkmann?  I remembered I had a bowl left over from a small tail gate kit I bought for the AB Special still kicking around somewhere – that might be the ‘larger engine’ I need, but it will still use less charcoal.

So this morning at 10 I fired up the Brinkmann with the larger grill bowl.  I was skeptical, but it was still possible for things to work out OK.  I got the fire going hotter than it ever went before with the factory bowl quickly and the smoke began to fill the air and start the cooking of the rubbed pork butt.  To my disappointment it kept going.  The heat stayed up, the the smoker performed amazingly!

If you’re keeping track I have three smokers now.  One electric, two charcoal (and a gas grill for quick hot dog and burger cooking when I’ve not had notice for the charcoal grill part of the Texas Smoker).  I will be fixing the hot plate for the AB Special and probably will gift it to a relative that’s interested in having it.  But now I have two smokers that work great.  I’m a dork.  I’ve spent $400.00 or more on smokers and accessories over the last three years.

I guess that means I better keep things up and get really good at this to  justify the expense ;)

Weird Beer Snobbishness I Have

This is not a beer blog per-se, but I have reviewed a beer and I wanted to take a moment to point out something I noticed this last week while on a trip back to Indiana for my sister-in-law’s graduation.  I went to a restaurant and they served inexpensive, mass-produced beers.  Their entire selection was from the big three (Miller, Coors, or Budweiser), plus a Samuel Adam’s Seasonal (a sad pilsner as I found out).  Consumers of beers [in Indiana] are apparently not interested in flavor or mouth feel or quality, but quantity or cost.

I will try most beers once (and generally one beer per meal so while I might have one beer at lunch and one at dinner on a given day, I will not get drunk), but it didn’t take me very long to figure out that there are a wide variety of beers with many, many flavors.  However, I don’t understand why consumers of food products or beverage products turn of discernment for drunkenness or just getting more (poor quality food) for their buck.  I want to be conscientious about my spending, but I would rather spend $5.00 on one good serving of quality, hand-crafted beer, than $5.00 on a 6 pack of what tends to taste like carbonated blandness.

If you look at things like the beer flavor wheel you’ll see that there are 44 major flavor/quality components, and as that sight references there are over 1000 flavors or nuances that have been found in beer.  Why, if those are available, would you go for low-end, low-taste beer?  You wouldn’t compare a McDonald’s hamburger with a hamburger from a local specialty shop (or Ted’s Montana Grill) would you?  One is consistent, but bland, the other is focused on quality and bringing out the flavors available in the simple, quality ingredients they have.  In the end I guess I’m a snob, but I want my hard earned money to go towards something that will be a fulfilling or exploratory experience and not just normal.

Home Made Cheese Attempt I: Curds and Way Screwed Up

This afternoon I thought I’d try to make Mozzarella with the girls to have a fun food snack to take on a road trip we’re going to be taking this week.  I got a $6.00 gallon of milk and $28 in rennet, lipase, citric acid and cheese cloth (this last item was not for this project).  The rennet and lipase I will be able to use for some time (until they run out) so the actual cost of the cheese is somewhere around $7.00.  But here’s the problem: the cheese did not turn out.  So I spent about $8.00 for what is a weird feta-like substance.  It isn’t nasty, but it is surely not as awesome as what I had intended.

I’m not sure what went wrong other than I think the milk could possibly be ultra-pasteurized, which it is not supposed to be, but such is the way.  When I get home from the road trip I’m going to locate some milk that is appropriate for this project and this summer we will get at least one successful cheese making.  Keep checking this site for updates and – when it is successful – pictures and a recipe.

Beer Review: Dry Dock Brewing – H.M.S. Victory ESB

I’ve not reviewed beer before and I’m not that experienced in my drinking of beer.  I will say this: as a Christian I’m not interested in getting drunk, but I do want to explore the culinary aspects of beer.  With that in mind I’m going to review some beers (and various beverages) as time allows.

There are a few aspects of any food or drink that I think matter to the general sense of quality.  For me I’m a craft beer consumer.  I don’t have any interest in ‘lite’ beers, nor do I have any interest in beers that are cheap (for consumption reasons).  I live in Colorado which has a large number of craft breweries and one of them, Dry Dock, is a few blocks from my house.  Their beers have been tasty so far and I can buy a 64 ounce growler to take home for around $10.00 a growler.  The H.M.S. Victory happened to be $8.00 (with a pre-purchased glass growler, which I believe is $4.00 when you buy your first growler).  The brewery is right next to a brewing supply store.  In fact I can walk between the brewing supply store and the brewery/bar as they’re in the same large room (divided by law, accordingly).  Since they have the supply store I feel that there is a general quality to their products that I just can’t get from Coors, another Colorado-ish brewery.

Here are some of the qualities:

On the Eyes: dark caramel brown.  Not as dark as a stout, but definitely not a pale ale.

On the Nose: Yeasty (yes, I know beer is yeasty, but I smell yeast), caramel, molasses

On the Tongue: Malty, nutty, and a bit sweet (but not as sweet as I expected with the nose).  This has a sharp finish without feeling bitter like some lighter beers.

This beer tastes like it would pair amazingly with a juicy hamburger.  Something with a nice slab of extra sharp cheddar cheese on it and a nice egg bun and crisp iceberg lettuce.  Alternatively I think smoked chicken might play off the slightly salty aspects of the malty flavors.

This beer reminds me of a darker, sweeter batch of 90 schilling ale from O’Dell brewing.  I really enjoy it and plan on sharing a growler with some company that is coming this weekend.  This beer comes recommended for those who want to explore local beers in the Denver area, and like darker beers.

The bitterness of this beer is not apparent with the first couple sips, but after a few minutes the hops cut into your palette and the bitterness shows up.  I don’t consider this a distraction, but instead it fits in with the yeasty, pretzel-like flavors on the nose.

Description from the Brewery:

This amber ale has a rich toasty and bready character with moderate English hop bitterness.

Fast 3 Can Chili

I have posted on Twitter a few times about chili (usually as a joke – I don’t eat it that much).  I love chili, there’s something about the hearty, warm, spicy flavors and the thick mouth feel appeals to me more than some soups.  I like soup during the fall, winter and early spring when it can be cold.   This chili is a total cheater on the local, from scratch scale, but because you could, if you wanted make it that way I’ll post the recipe and then you can figure out if you want to throw this together in a fast or slow food fashion.  By Fashion I mean put on your apron.

Ingredients:

1lb of Ground Beef (or Turkey)

1 15oz  Can of Ranch Beans (Made in TX of course)

1 16oz of Jar of chunky Salsa (even if its made in New York)

10 oz of mild enchilada sauce (we really like the stuff from King Sooper/Kroger, they have a Chipotle variety that is in a jar and is out of this world)

Cooking Spray/Canola Oil

Instructions:

1) Brown the meat in a large (6 quart) pot after spraying it with cooking spray or adding about 1 tablespoon of vegetable/Canola oil.

2) Add in the rest of the wet ingredients above (the enchilada sauce may need to be measured!  Too much can make this extra spicy!)

3) Let simmer for 10 minutes or so and then you can let this sit on low to allow flavors to blend for as many hours as you can keep an eye on it.

Bacon Bonus!

If  you’re feeling ‘fatty’ ad some uncured bacon to the recipe by frying up 2-3 strips of bacon in the bottom of the pot to start off the process.  Remove the bacon, and let rest on a paper towel to let some of the fat drip off.  Using some bacon dripping to brown the ground meat will make the ground meat all the more flavorful and then chop up the strips to add some smokey, salty flavors to each bite.

Fire Breathing Dragons Bonus!

I like spicy, hot food.  Before marrying my bride I used to coat burritos in crushed red peppers and the first time my wife made this recipe she used medium enchilada sauce and medium salsa.  It was the best, hottest chili she ever accidentally made :)  If you like hotter foods you might consider using a hotter salsa or a hotter enchilada sauce.  I’d recommend moving slowly in this direction if you are going to have to share this with someone.  It is just safer not to make ‘el diablo chili’ the first time if you are going to feed it to others.

We’re Going In On A Cow

Used with permission: Creative Commons License

A Cow

The title of that post may sound really weird, and I apologize if it makes you squirm.  However, we’re going in on a cow with my parents and another family that is on the bandwagon of chemical free foods.    This cow happens to be grass fed, and living in a farm north of us in Colorado.  The biggest problem we’ve found is that when you buy a whole cow they want you to tell them how you’d like it butchered.  That’s not a huge deal except for the fact that we’ll have hundreds of pounds of cow to split three ways.  I want brisket, ground beef, and some tenderloin, but aside from that we’re going to have to discuss the details so that everyone gets enough of the right cuts to make this a worth while investment.

Speaking of investments, by splitting this cow three ways we’ll each be paying about $800.00 for the cow [possibly less depending on the final weight].  That may sound like a lot of money but I suspect we’ll be eating high quality, natural, grass fed beef as a part of our diet for the rest of the year at least.  While the total sum may come as a bit of a shock I want to point out that the cost per pound is just over $5.00.  Go to whole foods and see if you can find any grass fed beef for that cheap – I doubt you will (unless its on special).  Now scan down the meat case until you come to the tenderloin.  Ready?  Is that tenderloin $5.00 a pound?  I didn’t think so.  How about the brisket?  Sure, the ground chuck may be slightly more expensive than the store bought stuff, but the rest of the cuts will come in at a substantially lower price per pound and we’ll be supporting a local farm.

Have you considered buying a local animal [or at least part of one]?  What things make you more or less likely to do so?