Category Archives: home cooking
I didn’t grow up eating a lot of frozen food type stuff. I’m old enough to still remember Swanson dinners in the foil trays when I was really little, but only maybe a few times. I was, indeed intrigued at the idea of eating dessert first (or just dessert in general, we didn’t really do that). Besides that, it was mostly frozen waffles or frozen vegetables.
As I got older and microwave stuff started popping up, I ate some of that when I hung out with my friends at my friend Melissa’s Grandmom Floss’s house. She always stocked her fridge with cool stuff and when we stayed over to watch Headbanger’s Ball, we would eat frozen microwaved french fries, burgers and other assorted stuff. I never really liked it that much, but it was interesting to try it as the food science got closer to making microwaved food suck less. For those of you who are in your lower twenties, trust me, it used to be oh so much worse.
So after a movie the other night, I was driving home and didn’t feel like cooking, ordering out or eating fast food, so I popped into the local Target and decided to pick up a little pizza. What I found was a big selection, a lot bigger then I was thinking of having to choose from. It ranged from the Mama Celeste $1 pizzas (which are good but it freaks me out that the cheese is not cheese), to the “gourmet” frozen pizzas. I decided to go right in the middle and get a “Red Baron Feast For One”.
This thing intrigued me from the get-go. first of all, on the box there is a nice looking picture of the pizza, but there is also a picture of some guy.
I thought maybe the guy was a contest winner or maybe a member of a winning sports team that Red Baron had sponsored. It doesn’t really fit with the graphic design of the box, so I figured it had to be something, right?
I also liked the idea that they put “Exclusively Prepared, Microwave Ready” on the box. Since it is 2012 and not 1980, I would hope that a frozen pizza would be ok in the microwave. Maybe it’s just me. It’s like the guys in the graphics department were really high and decided that everyone needed to know…it’s ok to put in the microwave!
So when I turned the box over to check out the cooking instructions, I found out who the guy was…he was nobody. More specifically, he was someone, just not anyone.
You see, according to the box, this pizza was made for BIG APPETITES! The pictures were of dudes being dudes. Being goofy, licking sauce from a finger, riding a crazy bike, looking mischievous. These are all things you’d do before eating a frozen pizza! Of course! For a minute I wondered if I could eat this thing. I mean, I’m not a dude. I did just come back from seeing Batman. But otherwise, I didn’t do anything remotely dude like. Oh wait, I did spit my gum into the street on the way in because coughed and almost choked. Ok, so I guess that qualifies me. Score!
I wonder what a women’s pizza box would have the girls on the pictures doing. Well, first it would probably say something like “Hey Girls! Got PMS like a fiend and need a pizza that you can stuff in your face while watching Steel Magnolias in minutes? Well this pizza is just for you! Red Baron Feast For One is made just for YOUR HORMONES!”.
I took the pizza out of the box and of course it was sealed up tight in the plastic. They packaged it in the silver box tray that all microwaved pizzas have been cooked on since the beginning of time (around 1984). I wonder what is coated on that tray so that all food must be cooked on it. Soylent Silver? Silver crack? Cooked down silver dollars? I don’t know but I’m sure they’ll say it causes cancer in 10 years so eat up now, kids!
If you can see thru the plastic, you can see what it would be a Meat Trio. The pepperoni were equally distributed around the pizza, which was nice, and the ham and sausage were just dumped in the middle. I was ok with that tho. I had other plans for this thing….
The cooking instructions were pretty odd. Put the pizza on the tray and put it on the edge of the turntable in the microwave, then push it to the center and let it go for a little longer then let it sit before you take it out. I’m not sure that position on the turntable really makes any kind fo difference but whatever.
This is pizza when it’s done with the cooking. The cheese has cooked decently, the meat is hot and this puppy is seriously hot.
That’s why I decided to rip up 2 pieces of mozzarella string cheese and cover the top. There is never enough cheese on these things.
This is the finished product. NOW there’s enough cheese! Now if you decide to go ahead and buy one of these things, there is one thing you must know, understand and deal with: once you make this thing, you cannot eat it for at least a half hour. Why? Because it holds onto heat like nobodies business. Most pizzas, you take them out, let them sit for like 5 minutes and they are ok to eat. This thing is hot pocket lava level hot.
You might think it’s like that because of the extra cheese. Noooope. You’d be mistaken. The reason this thing stays so freakin’ hot is because the dough is like a giant sponge (hence “Thick Pan”). It almost reminds me of the big soft dough crust at Pizza Hut (only with a little less grease). It actually was pretty good, considering what it is. Would this thing have been the same if I had not added more cheese? Yeah pretty much. Honestly, I had one a little while back without the extra cheese and it doesn’t make too much of a difference, unless you like extra cheese. I’m a fan. Have a mentioned that?
So overall, what did I think of Red Baron’s Feast For One Meat Trio Frozen Pizza? I like dit, it wasn’t bad. The crust was spongy and flavorful (probably from oil), the sauce was punchy but not overdone and it wasn’t a giant salt bomb. I’d probably try it again, maybe if they had a mega pepperoni one, I’d be even more inclined. but yeah, not bad Red Baron, not bad at all.
Edited to add:
I just noticed that the box says that the pizza is actually 2 servings. Who eats half a frozen pizza and keeps the rest for later? That’s pretty sneaky, Red Baron, and I don’t like it.
I like donuts. I like fried chicken. Shocking, I know. So when I heard about Federal Donuts: a donut and fried chicken joint in Pennsport in South Philly, I was intrigued. But then I heard about the massive lines and the early sellouts, so I figured I would wait a little while and then check it out. My friends, that day was the other day. And now, I shall share it with you.
Federal Donuts isn’t actually at 2nd and Federal, it’s on the smaller street right after Washington Ave. but before Federal. Look for the red rooster! Parking could suck for you if you come a little later on in the day, but I popped in with my friend Michael around 11, so it wasn’t too bad. You can’t really see it, but there is also a red bench you can sit on outside to enjoy the weather while stuffing your face with awesome donuts. That’s some thinking right there. Lady with baby carriage that won’t move out of the picture frame not included.
This place is not really big. Keep this in mind because it can get crowded. Luckily, everyone is usually very excited about the food so everyone is in a pretty good mood. When we visited, Cristal was manning the counter. She had to repeat herself a thousand times to a bunch of people and never once did she roll her eyes or take a swing at them when they whined about chicken not being sold until 11:45. In fact, she was making jokes with the customers and chatting while taking orders and being awesome.
If you look at the top of the picture, you will see the menu hanging over Cristal’s head. The first board lists the beverages: hot and cold coffee, hot and iced tea, water and a variety of sodas, including the very awesome Doc Brown’s line of sodas. I am partial to the Black Cherry (and yeah they have the Diet version too if you want to even out the calories you are gonna pack in…what do you mean it doesn’t work that way?…).
The second board is very important. These are the donuts they make all day long, what they call the “hot donuts, fried fresh all day”. These donuts are delicious & are lightly flavored in 3 varieties: Indian Cinnamon, Appolonia Spice, and Vanilla Lavender. The flavor isn’t overpowering and they go really well with a beverage of your choice. These donuts are cake based, which are usually heavy and chewy, but these are light as a feather. More on that below.
The third board lists the fancy donuts. These go on sale when the place opens and are usually gone by 10-ish. If you want them, I would suggest crawling out of your snuggie and getting down there early. They change varieties a lot and this is what they have now. Check the website to see what is going on when you read this. At that time they had: Halvah Pistachio, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Mandarin Coffee, Root Beer Float, Chocolate Banana and Ginger Snap. I didn’t get to try those because they were all gone by the time I got over there. Next time FedNuts! Next time!! *angry fist shake*
This brings up the 4th board. It outlines the chicken. You can get a whole chicken or a half (or do what me and Michael did and get a whole with a different flavor on each half. We may be gluttons, but we are crafty gluttons.). The flavors they offer include dry selections and 2 glazes. The dry includes: Za’atar, Coconut Curry and Buttermilk Ranch. The glaze includes: Chili-Garlic and Honey Ginger.
We ordered a half of the Buttermilk Ranch & half Za’atar along with some Honey Ginger wings. At 11:45, Cristal asked all the people who had already been there how many orders of chicken they wanted and we all got numbered red cards. Did we do a little dance like we found golden tickets? Maybe. We did clutch them and look around to make sure no one was eyeing up our tickets. You get one for each order of chicken you put in. Notice the tickets are numbered? They only go up to a certain number and then you gotta come back the next day.
A few minutes later, our chicken was served up in red baskets. The chicken comes with a honey dipped donut. Now, if you quick looked at this donut, you’d notice it looks kind of like the Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Old Fashioned Donut. That is where the resemblance ends. This donut is honey dipped and warm, which means it is automatically probably the best warm thing you will ever have in your mouth (ahem).
The thing about these donuts is that they are cake donuts, as opposed to yeast donuts. Yeast donuts are the ones you might be used to, light and fluffy, especially right out of the fryer. Most people prefer those because they go down so easily.
Cake donuts are usually denser and chewier (Have you ever had a Polish Packzi? That is a great example of a cake donut. Also, my favorite donut.). The donuts at Federal are cake donuts but they are super light, spitting in the face of conventional thoughts on cake donuts. Can you tell I love it? The flavor is so subtle but coats your tongue with happiness. Out of all the things I ate at Federal Donuts, I loved this donut the most. Did I mention you get one every time you order chicken? You also get these little japanese cucumber pickles but, unfortunately, I didn’t really care for those (weirdly too sour for me), nor did my friend Michael (or my mom when I brought her an order home). But hey, in the grand scheme of things, who cares. Not everything can be jaw dropping and I have not even gotten to the amazing chicken yet.
Moving onto the chicken! This is not your usual KFC-style fried chicken that is coated in egg and flour, fried and then tossed onto your plate (or into your bucket or whatever). This is Korean Style Fried Chicken: the chicken is dipped in a cornstarch based batter and fried once, rested and then fried again when you order it to crisp it up. Look closely at the picture and you can see the chicken sitting on pans and racks (so they aren’t sitting a puddle of grease) just waiting for 11:45.
The first batch that I tried was the buttermilk ranch fried chicken. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was the batter infused with buttermilk ranch flavoring? Would it be white? As I have said many times before, I am not that bright. The chicken was the fried chicken that they do, and they cover it with a dry coating of buttermilk ranch flavoring. As it’s called “dry seasoning”, that makes sense. And it was deeelicious! As you can see, they are not stingy with the seasoning and I am A-ok with that. The flavor of the buttermilk ranch powder soaked up the little bit of grease along with the juiciness of the chicken to create a festival of happiness in my mouth. (and I thought only whiskey could do that).
The second kind of dry seasoning we had was Za’atar. What is Za’atar? It is a Moroccan flavoring and the Federal website describes it as “sesame seeds blended with wild savory and sumac, so it has a very green and lemony flavor”. That is a spot on description, and I know Michael loved it the most. When you look at it, it looks like someone sprinkled grass clippings and sesame seeds on your chicken, but dig in! The flavor balances nicely with the mild taste of the chicken and the slight bit of grease. We had a bit of fork stabbing going on for the last piece (I’m a quick healer).
Finally, we started in on the Honey Ginger wings. It took us forever to figure out what flavor to pick (chili-garlic being the other flavor (glaze actually) we were considering). They sat there patiently while we buzzsawed thru the fried chicken and the hot donut. They looked delicious and smelled delicious.
The ginger is subtle and the honey made them slightly sweet. We both didn’t particularly like them at first. I took them home and the key is to let them sit for a little while, then they become amazing! I almost got you Federal Donuts, but you pulled it out again!
I cannot wait to go back and try the Chili-Garlic!
So, to sum it up: you have to get up super early to get the good special donuts. You have to get there early to get a ticket(s) for chicken that doesn’t go on sale until 11:45. Is it worth the hassle? Michael and I both agreed the answer was a resounding YES. Obviously, donuts and fried chicken are not things you can eat everyday without seriously hurting yourself (I read about that in a book…), so checking this place out and stuffing your face with some chicken and donut goodness is not only a good idea, it’s an excellent idea! Go there and check it out! And don’t forget your Doc Brown’s soda while you are at it!
In Ocean City, New Jersey there are 2 bridges to get you onto the island from Marmora: the 9th Street Bridge and the 34th Street Bridge. On the road that leads to the 34th Street Bridge (Roosevelt Blvd) is a BBQ place called Pappy’s. As far as I am concerned, you gotta take the 34th Street Bridge because, well, Pappy’s is a world beater in Pork!
I ordered 2 sandwiches*: a Southern Pulled Pork with a spicy BBQ sauce and a Carolina Pork Sandwich with a spicy vinegar based BBQ sauce. I also ordered 2 sides: applesauce and potato salad. I originally asked for cole slaw, but at that time of the night (around 8), they were sold out. So I asked for a recommendation and the girl on the phone was so enthusiastic about the potato salad, I had to order it. I was told the potato salad was made fresh everyday and it was a huge seller (in a very perky teenage voice). In all of this food: NO DISAPPOINTMENT!
Let’s start with the sides.The applesauce was pretty standard but very consistent. I do not know if they made it themselves but it was cold and worked nicely against the Carolina Pork. Also, they gave me a nice size portion. Sometimes when you order a side, you get a very tiny cup of it. I could have shared this with someone. I wouldn’t, but I could have.
The potato salad, after being built up so much by the kid on the phone, had a lot to live up to. The happy verdict is, it did!
The potatoes were cubed kinda large but were cooked slightly al dente, so that they don’t just mush up in your mouth. There was a nice crunchy part with some green onion as well. Nice touch, obviously someone over there is thinking about composition of the potato salad and not just slapping some potatoes and mayo together. The best part? It has bacon in it! *happy bacon dance*. And I don’t mean bacon bits, I mean nice sized pieces of bacon (see it? see it in the picture?), a nice piece in every bite. I want to say I was able to ration the potato salad before I finished the sandwiches, but my pants would be on FIRE.
Now let’s get down to the real order of business here: the pork sandwiches.
I love a good sandwich, as I have blathered on about in the past. But it is hard to get a really good BBQ pork sandwich, mostly because most places are skimpy with the pork. Or skimpy with the sauce. Or the roll sucks. I am happy to say, both of these sandwiches suffer from none of that. NONE.
Let’s start with the Southern Pork. Served on a nice brioche-type bun. The roll was chewy without having to break a tooth to take a bite and stayed together from first bite to the last, absorbing sauce all the way. it was, I can say, a perfect roll. The pork is pretty uniform in the pull too, which I enjoy. It is also obvious that this pork has been marinated in the sauce and these people are not stingy with sharing it. The pork is soft and absorbed the sweet but spicy sauce. I was not covered in the sauce, but would I have minded? Not one bit.
Here you can see the sauce. It wasn’t just squirted on by some pimply kid (like the squeaky voiced teenager on The Simpson) as he quickly wrapped it up and tossed it in a bag. The sauce is just as important as the pork. You can see the pull of the pork here too, which is also important. The shred is immaculate, and totally consistent throughout the whole sandwich.
Here is your money shot. Enjoy!
Now let’s talk a little bit about the Carolina Pork Sandwich. This sandwich comes on the same kinda bun as the one above, and again, it works perfectly. A lot of people do not know what Carolina Sauce is vinegar based and not ketchup based. It gets it’s spice from the red pepper flakes throughout the sauce and it is gooooood.
Again, the pork is pretty uniformly pulled. The shred is great and keeps it from falling apart. The pork is not as wet as the Southern Pork but it’s not supposed to be. The vinegar sauce permeated the pork and mixed with the flakes, turning it into a hot, tangy delicious sandwich of awesome. That is the technical term. Either way, it was hot but also delicious.
Now! Enjoy your money shot!
So, as you can tell, I am now a huge fan of this place, I want to put their kids thru college. I would like to buy them nice gifts, or possibly just tithe to them. I have to settle for pimping their goods. I also want to mention that those sandwiches were only 6 bucks each. Anywhere else and it would cost you upwards of 9 bucks for a sandwich like that. Yet another reason to love this place. If you want to eat in, the place is a BYOB, so feel free to bring your favorite booze and stuff your face with the best pork I have had in many, many years. I hear the ribs are awesome too, I think they are next on my list. Check out Pappy’s at http://www.pappyspigroast.com! They also cater! So check it out!
Disappointment is NOT AN OPTION!
*If you were wondering, I did not eat both sandwiches in one sitting. I ate half of each then put them into the fridge. They were even better the next day.
Everybody has a few things in their lives that have always loved. For me, just like baseball, Star Wars and Brad Pitt, I have always loved Goblacki. (say it with me: “gow-ump-gee”). What is it? It’s meat and rice rolled in cabbage and stewed in a tomato gravy. It’s more of a winter food, but I can eat it alllll year long. Serve it up with some potatoes (either in the gravy or mashed), some green beans or peas and rye bread & butter and I am good to go.
My Babci has made them, my Mom has made them and my Cioci Marion has made them. I’ve had others over the years but none that I like as much as my Babci’s, Mom’s & Aunt’s (a notable exception is Syrenka, a Polish cafeteria style joint in Port Richmond here in Philly. Their Goblaki is pretty darn good.). I had never made them and I was wondering how that might be done. So, I roped my Mom into making them with me last Sunday, because if I can make Pierogies, I should be able to handle Goblaki, right? Let’s find out!
Ok, so the first thing you need to do is to get a head or two of cabbage. Try and find a decent head, because the more you have to peel off, the less Goblaki you will end up with. You have to cut out the core (note: Take your time! I almost lost many a finger. Cabbage is a pain in the ass.) and try to get the leaves off in one piece. After trying to snap them off and mutilating some of them, my Mom put the whole head in a pot of boiling water. Then the leaves came right off with a pair of tongs! It give them right up! You’d of thought it was French cabbage (yes, a stale WW2 joke.).
Pop them into a colander and move along to mixing your ground meat and cooked rice (you did cook some rice right? Of course you did!) with some salt and pepper to taste. We used around 4 pounds of ground meat. Now we need to wrap our little friends up!
It’s pretty simple. Just take the cabbage in your hand. Put some meat filling in there. Roll that bad boy up. Tuck in the ends. Done! Between me and my Mom, we had 16 done in a snap! I was pretty proud of myself since it was my first time, and I didn’t rip too many leaves. The leaves, since they were boiled, are kind of like damp tissues, so you do have to be kind of careful with them. Luckily, unlike damp tissues, they are not really disgusting. In fact, they are kind of cute…and delicious!
You might think they look odd because they seem translucent, but don’t sweat it, the slow cooking and gravy will take care of it.
Now get out your big stock pot (you brought out your big stock pot right?), and line the bottom with cabbage leaves. Why? Well, you don’t have to, but I would then suggest investing in SOS Pads and bulking up your arm because the bottom of your pot will be unbelievably burned. Oh, and the bottom layer of your Goblaki will stick, rip and be ruined. So, you know, the choice is yours.
Don’t they look happy and ready to go? Yeah, I thought so too!
Mix up some tomato soup, some gravy mix and some water and pour it in. Then, let it simmer for about 4 hours.
Some people make theirs in lasagna type pans and put them in the oven with butter. Some people use the really dark green leaves, but they get kind of bitter. My Grandmom apparently used to cover them with sauerkraut to keep them moist in the oven. I find that odd, but people like what they like. I prefer the tomato soup gravy and that’s that 🙂
Before the Goblaki are done, feel free to peel and toss a few potatoes in there to cook in the juice.
So what do you do with all that leftover cabbage? Throwing it away seems wasteful but it’s cabbage, not exactly something that is very, shall we say, versatile. Think about Stewed Cabbage! Chop up the rest of the cabbage, some canned tomoatoes, some onion and toss it in a pot. throw in some water and boil. Later on, make a roux (butter and flour) to thicken it and there ya go! The longer it cooks, the better it is (low heat! stir from the bottom!) It is awesome by itself, or with Kielbasie or hotdogs or as a side dish to almost anything. Cabbage is really good for you, so go for it!
My only suggestion is this: crack a window, because all this cabbage might make you self propelled!
no flour that’ll be hanging around until the end of time. Just a little bit of Murder, She Wrote on TVLand, some loafing on the sofa and then some serious eating. If you want to try it, also remember that they freeze really well, so it might be nice to put some away for those nights where all you wanna do is eat and veg on the sofa. Goblaki is serious comfort food, so go get comfy with it!
When I was making and selling Pierogies, I used to sell at the Greensgrow Farm Farmers Market. It was there I became friends with Rachel Klein, owner of Miss Rachel’s Kitchen, a vegan catering company.
For those of you who don’t know: vegan eating means nothing that comes from an animal. Nothing. So, sometimes that can make having special occasions or just even finding some great sandwiches a bit of a challenge.
So! Rachel covers all the bases: You want meals for yourself for the week? Done! You just want some food for a day or two? Done! You want lunch delivered to your work (downtown & university city on wednesdays and downtown on fridays)? Done! Having a big event (weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, communion parties, block parties..!)? Done! Is it a holiday and you want to eat vegan but want to spend time with relatives instead of cooking (for just you or for the whole family?)? Done! Are you vegan and also gluten free? Done! Whew! I am exhausted just typing all that.
The thing about vegan food that I have mostly come across is that a lot of it just is not very good (altho it is coming around, especially in the Philly area). I was a vegetarian for about 6 years and, if you are familiar with this blog and my eating habits at all, I will eat almost anything. So when I met Rachel, I was expecting sawdusty food with the texture of either nasty seaweed or a slightly chewy cinderblock.
Then I had some of her tofu chicken salad. It was so awesome that, if she had forgotten to bring me any during our stints at the market, I would pout like a 6 year old who wasn’t allowed to watch cartoons. Indeed, it was that fantastic.
So fast forward to right about now, and I do a little work on the side helping Rachel do her friday lunch deliveries. I am a huge buffalo chicken nut. I can eat wings all the live long day and anything with the word “buffalo” and “sauce” in it makes me immediately drool. So when she told me one day we were going to make Buffalo Chicken Seitan Sandwiches, I needed a second for drooling (not on the food tho, we are strict with our food safety regulations!). Then when she told me they were to also be on fresh Cacia’s Bakery rolls, that sealed the deal.
First off, you gotta use some good Seitan, and if you are serious, you gotta hit up Michael from Michael’s Savory Seitan. Michael is a great guy: tall and full of energy about Seitan & eating healthy. Lots of places around town sell his Seitan, wether in foods already made or you can get it at Whole Foods, Essene and tons of other places. Hit up his website!
Anywho, the first step in this awesome sandwich is the oven. As in, put that seitan in there. Baste it up with whatever kind of hot sauce you like. It gets the same consistency of chicken without the actual chicken. If you like big chunks, then don’t cut it down. If you like it more shreddy, go ahead, get all OJ and run your knife thru it.
This brings me to sauce. I have a little recipe in my head I like to use. I used it when I made buffalo chicken pierogies and it works beautifully. Feel free to use your own. Some people like to use a thickener, like corn syrup. Then you might want to cut the acidity of a sauce with butter. Your mileage may vary. I like to add ground red pepper and Sriracha sauce to my hot sauce. Hot in, hot out, haha!
Anyway, what works great with a buffalo chicken sandwich? Coleslaw! So hey, let’s get that on there!
Follow it up with nice leafy lettuce for some crunch and what do you end up with?
You end up with this: the tastiest Seitan Buffalo Chicken Sandwich this side of the Pecos.
I could eat this sandwich every night of the week. So good! Just because you are a red blooded meat eater, doesn’t mean that you can’t try this stuff. It’s delicious, and when it comes down to it, that’s really all that matters. In fact, Rachel once told me that most of her Lunch Club people aren’t even vegetarians, they just are interested in something different and delicious. You can’t argue with that.
If you are interested in the Lunch Club, click on the link above. You can order once or weekly, whatever (or if you know someone who loves good food, hit them up with a gift certificate!). Lunch comes with a sandwich, a soup, fruit and some homemade soup. With delivery right to your door, you can’t beat it.
I do a lot of standup comedy and am friends with tons of comics and comic groups on Facebook. The other day the guys in LawnBoys Comedy posted that they were going to make a bacon milkshake and post it on the ‘net. I asked if I could post it here on Didjaeat and they were pretty enthusiastic about it!
I watched it and laughed all the way thru and you will probably do the same!
Nice job guys!
Here are the details:
Two tablespoons bacon grease
Not one, no two, no three strips of bacon
Half cup of milk
Three huge scoops of ice cream
World’s smallest blender
Fat guy with no shame
Are you ready?
(Kosher folks, please look away, or look on in terror!)
I don’t cook maybe as much as I should but sometimes I get the itch and try something new. I was watching Anne Burrell’s show “Secrets Of A Restaurant Chef” and she had been talking about stuffing chicken breasts. This got me thinking and I decided to try it.
Stuffing the chicken wasn’t the kind where you butterfly the breasts and then wrap them around actual stuffing. No, this is more like how you get filling into a cupcake. But first, let’s look at the making of the filling.
I started with a stick of butter, melted slowly. I then minced 2 cloves of garlic and threw them in. With garlic you gotta make sure it doesn’t burn or you have to start again and, frankly, I don’t have the patience for that. Anyway, the garlic slowly cooked into the butter and I shook a bunch of parmesan cheese in there, along with a little salt, pepper and italian seasoning. On the side I had a brick of cream cheese that was softened and cubed up sitting in a little bowl.
Then I threw in a tomato that I had taken the skin off of and let that swim around in the butter for a while. All this time it was on a low heat so everyone could have fun in the pan.
When everything was nice and together, I put
the mix into the bowl, mixed it up and set it aside. I knew I had one more thing to do! The mix felt like it was missing something, so I threw some shrimp into the pan with the remnants of the previous tenant and some more butter, garlic and parmesan cheese! I kept it at a low heat because these were precooked (It was what I had in the freezer. I know fresh is better but you have to roll with what you have lying around) and I kept on flipping them over in the butter & garlic mix.
In the meantime I kept mixing the cream cheese mixture. I wanted to make sure that everything was evenly distributed and there was no lumps in the mix.
When the shrimp were done, I de-tailed, chopped finely and tossed into the mix. Again, lots of mixing. Once it cooled, I popped it into the fridge for a bit while I started working on the other pieces of this meal.
The chicken breasts were a nice size. Basically all I had to do was take a knife and make a slit on the fat part of the breast end and wiggle the knife around to make a pocket. I did that to 4 breasts and set them aside.
After that, I took a Ziploc bag and filled the bag with the filling, favoring one end of the bag. I twisted the bag closed and pushed the filling into the corner and cut off the tip of the bag (ouch! haha).
The cut off end of the bag fit perfectly into the chicken and I filled each one with the filling. It took a few minutes to get the hang of it but it worked great! I even added more filling to 2 of the chicken breasts because I had a bunch left over.
After filling the chicken, I dipped them in flour, egg and then Panko breadcrumbs and
then they went right into the cast iron pan! When you do bread and fry things like chicken breasts, try doing it that way (Panko is a lighter Japanese breadcrumb that is delicious but it works even with regular breadcrumbs). The flour and egg mix combine to keep the meat moist and not fall right off the meat when you try and fry it. And of course, the egg helps the breadcrumb stay on as well. It’s good stuff.
I also didn’t have the heat turned super way up because I didn’t want to burn the breadcrumb and have raw chicken. So I had turned it up a lot before I put them in and then lowered it after because cast iron does hang onto heat. With something like this, it’s better to take your time then to hurry it up and burn the crap out of it. I had put too much time into prepping to screw it up at that point.
With all this protein going on, you must have some kind of vegetable. If, for the very least, color, haha. My mom really likes Brussel sprouts, so I decided to pan roast some with olive oil, salt and garlic. I would rather eat the parts of my car engine then eat Brussel sprouts but she loves them and they do look pretty in our little mini cast iron pan. I made some peas for myself, I do love peas!
At this point everything was cooking at a nice clip and I had time to do something important: clean up. There are fewer things I cannot stand more than having to clean up a mountain of dishes after eating a good meal. It makes me crazy. Dishwasher or no dishwasher, cleaning up as you go is something I have learned over the years and I stick with it. Especially working with raw chicken, which, I am sure you know, can make you best fiends with the bathroom if handled incorrectly. I follow this rule: you touch the chicken, you wash your hands each and every time. Some people do not like to wash their hands 6 times during a cooking session but I say that is better than getting sick, or getting whoever you are cooking for sick. Just do it. Good food safety isn’t just for restaurants, it’s for everyone!
Sooo…once the chicken was done (I even used a thermometer to check!), I plated it up for my mom and I (my stepdad got corn and buttered noodles and I forgot to take a pic). I didn’t make the breading super crispy because I thought a nice golden brown would be better, and it was! Check it out!
The reaction was pretty positive! In hindsight I think I would chill the stuffing mix more before using it, because it really melted down, altho you could really get a nice sense of the garlic, shrimp and butter. But overall I was pretty happy with the results.
What do you guys think? Let me know!
So I realized I had a bunch of stray pictures hanging around. I am the asshole you see snapping pictures of food at inappropriate times (“I know you are having that cookie because of your low blood sugar but it looks cool”…Snap!) but not all of my pics can be a whole blog post unto itself. So, here is a roundup of assorted pics that I thought would be cool.
First up! In a previous post, I drooled all over the internet about a Prime Rib that my cousin-in-law, Bob, the firefighter chef, had made. Well, what I did not mention was that his wife Chrissy cut me a giant piece to take home. So, later on, home alone on New Years Day, I wanted to eat it. But how? I cut it up, threw it in a cast iron skillet and started to just heat it up.
In a little bowl I mixed some ketchup, A1, sriracha, worcheshire sauce and water and threw it in so it wouldn’t get dried out. Then I thought, what should I eat with it? Duh.
It was a thing of beauty. The sauce had cooked down and caramelized on the meat and the eggs were cooked but the yolks were still kinda dippy. I sat in the green leather armchair in the living room with this plate on my lap and welcomed the first day of 2012 (yeah, I had to check) with reckless abandon. And lots of meat!
I was in North Jersey doing some comedy awhile back with my friend Latice. It was a long drive and I was super crazy hungry. I ordered a burger (an aside: please don’t advertise a big giant burger and then give me a big giant…jetro frozen burger. It takes 20 minutes to make like 45 fresh burgers for the week. Salt. Pepper. Maybe something else if you wanna get crazy. It’s cheaper to buy a chubb (haha, yeah that’s what they call it) of meat from wherever you get your meat and make them yourself then to lie to me and make me angry.) and wanted nachos. I love nachos.
And what they served me made me so angry I wanted to burn the building down.
What we have here are the Worst Nachos In The History Of The World. They were over salted regular and blue corn tortilla chips with the bagged shredded cheese and old chili on them. Oh. And olives. Where are the other ingredients? They were on another plate (that I didn’t take a picture of due to being angry) in little cups. There was not enough for the both of us, which irritates the crap out of me, because nachos should be big enough to be shared by at least 3 people. THAT IS WHY THEY EXIST. Some idiot in the kitchen decides to make deconstructed nachos and then doesn’t even mention it in the menu. And then tries to pass off a frozen burger as homemade. For shame. FOR SHAME.
This is what nachos should look like:
There is everything you need there. They don’t make their own chips either, even tho it is simple, but there is height, heft and yes, DELICIOUSNESS.
(And the maraschino cherries for dessert? You really get me internet, you really do…)
My little cousin Matt turned 7 earlier this past year and he wanted a monster themed party (fitting for Matt, but you don’t know him, so this must seem very inside baseball. You’d be right. But, trust me.). So his mom Lorrie made a very cool cake and gave out these monster cake pops!
Lorrie makes such awesome baked goods that sometimes I daydream about keeping her in my basement to just make me baked goods all day long. But then I remember how silly that would be…my cellar isn’t big enough for that kind of operation. A girl can dream tho.
Anyway, aren’t they cool? The hair is oreo crumbs and the cake is a light and airy chocolate. Did I almost get into a fight with another 7 year old over one sitting on a table?
One may never know…(I sure as hell ain’t tellin’….)
I found myself out of my area of cheesesteaks and tastykakes and into another area called Brooklyn. It looks a lot like Philly but with much more annoying Yankee/Giants/Mets crap plastered to all the cards. So instead of making an afternoon out of keying cars, I ended up eating this…a red velvet donut.
I didn’t eat it when first given to me. It sat in the bag for a bit. While I do tend to write about baked goods, I really very rarely eat them because too much carby stuff turns me into a parade float. Ahem. Anywho, this beauty is from the Peter Pan Bakery on Manhattan Ave in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. This thing was freakin’ amazing. Could it have been better with cream cheese frosting? Perhaps. But it was like eating a cupcake, a cake and a dance on a ballroom floor and I’ll take that any day.
I’ll end this hodgepodge post with a cupcake. A plain vanilla cupcake. I don’t remember exactly where I had this thing (it might have been another one of Bob’s creations), but I remember the icing. I hate cupcakes that have skimpy sugar-ball icing. They have no flavor. No panache. No…soul.
This was a perfect cupcake. Cream cheese icing. Tiny sugar crystals. It took me awhile to get down to the cupcake but ya know what?
It was a holiday cupcake and I was in love with it. And that was just fine with me.
There are some people who need to go out and roam about drunkenly to have, what they consider, a successful New Year’s Eve. There are others who need to have an epic, crazy, shitshow of a party at home in order to be successful (including, but not limited to: a painted cat, someone’s underwear in the freezer and the sofa covered in spray cheese with the lawn covered in PBR cans). And then there are some people who are content to stay home and cuddle up with their significant other whilst drinking wines, eating cheese and watching some kind of PBS special about NYE celebrations around the world. Those people should be kicked (but that’s besides the point…).
I like a one stop house party. This year, I deviated and went to a gathering of cousins up in the Northeast and then to my friends Jackie & Tim’s annual bash afterwards. Both were a great time (Jackie & Tim’s parties always rock!), but I wanted to write a little bit about the food at my first stop.
My cousin-in-law Bob likes to cook, and he really outdid himself. First up? Prime Rib!
Prime Rib, over the years, has gotten kind of a bad rap as a boring standby buffet food atany big hall occasion such as a wedding, anniversary party or anything someone’s parents have to pay for. If it is not seasoned and boring, it can be a let down. If it’s like this, right out of the oven, you just get EXCITED! (Ok, so maybe not that excited, that might just be me. I don’t get out a lot and have been single for awhile.)
Some people think Prime Rib is just Roast Beef. No! Roast Beef is made instead of Prime Rib and once you had really, really mouth watering Prime Rib, you will never blaspheme again against the lovely Prime Rib. (Bonus! Count how many times I used the term “Prime Rib” in this paragraph! Pat yourself on the back!)
A big mistake people make about meat is that they just take out of the oven, or off the grill, or even off the stovetop, and they don’t give the meat a chance to rest. Resting lets the meat relax and the juices can redistribute. If you ever cut into a steak and all the juices ran out and the meat ended up being kinda dry, the meat didn’t get a chance to rest. Feel free to smack the chef and grab some A1. This is what a Prime Rib, fully rested, looks like!
While the meat is resting, you can pop the roasting pan up on the stove and turn up a medium heat. Add some wine & stock and start scraping the bottom (the meat drippings!) of the pan to create a very cool Au Jus (or, thicken it up and make some gravy). Bob did just this, while I tried to drool on me and not the counter. I leaned in and snapped a shot!
The best part of the Au Jus, besides it being unbelievably delicious and cheaper then jars of salt filled gravy, is that when you have to clean that pan, anything that would have stuck to the bottom has dissolved into the liquid. So, really, you are just helping yourself.
Wondering what the final product looks like? How about this! Absolutely amazing! My hat is OFF to Bob! I know I ate a good 2 slabs of this buttery goodness, and even some of my other relatives, who aren’t into big pieces of meat, enjoyed it as well.
Not to be outdone, My cousin Michele made her Deviled Eggs. I don’t know what she puts in them, but she knows how to pack them. She doesn’t fill those eggs with a skimpy bit of filling, she fills and covers the whole egg with the filling! And they are fantastic!
Deviled Eggs are, again, another food that people kind of sigh when talked about. But find a good recipe and run with it! There is a reason why this appetizer (or, as we use it, side dish) has been around for so long…they ROCK!
Dessert, you say? After taking a lap or two around the block, I cleared some room and took a look at the dessert table. Homemade Pizzelles (made by Bob yet again!), cupcakes and cookies.
I love holidays, but I think my pants are glad it’s over! That is, until all the Valentine’s Day candy goes on sale…
If you read this food blog in any kind of regular-ness, you’ll know that my family likes to not only eat a lot, but we also like to try new and ridiculous things. You only live once, right? So, as I drove to Jeff and Tara’s for the yearly watching of Wrestlemania (don’t judge), I had no idea what Lorrie had in store for dessert.
Normally, for any kind of gathering such as this (or Sunday Funday, which I think is another post), I bring a Carvel ice cream sheet cake. I say it’s for the kids but really, any excuse to eat ice cream cake is just fine with me. Arbor Day? Survived Sunday at Target? Still drunk from the night before? I rarely eat dessert so I justify it that way. Anywho, once I decompressed from almost getting slammed into by a Snooki lookalike whilst driving around Oxford Circle, Lorrie told me what she made….a Pie..In A..Cake!
Now, we live in a pretty great country (falling apart or not, you really can’t beat it. Shut up, Canada.) and I think this piece of American ingenuity proves it. Lorrie told me how she came up with the idea, something about seeing it on tv and then googling it and then…I sort of blacked out. Overstimulation? Probably. I’m still wrapping my mind around it.
Here is the first pic!
And here is a reverse angle:
Now, here is one with a bit better lighting:
and finally…on a plate:
Now, Lorrie made this cake with plain ol’ vanilla cake & frosting and an apple pie. It was really interesting and tasted like a Jewish apple cake. So, it got us thinking of different flavor combos. You could do a chocolate cake with a cherry pie in the middle. Or a pumpkin pie in a spice cake! Or a blueberry pie in a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for the 4th of July! The possibilities really are endless, and this was the first time she made it so there are ways to tweak how it was made. Maybe the next time we can post the recipe!
Anyone feeling daring?