Kitchen Tip #1 – Saucy Icecubes

Saucy Icecubes

Do you ever find that you have made too much spaghetti sauce? Maybe your recipe feeds 4 to 6 and you are eating alone or with just your significant other. Maybe somebody cancelled on your dinner plans. In our case, we make (or sometimes buy when we’re being lazy) sauce for our pizzas. The recipe (or store bought sauce) is always more than we need for a couple of pizzas. So what to do? Should we let it spoil? Should we be wasteful and throw it away? No way!! Pick up a few ice trays, pour the sauce into them and freeze them. Once frozen, seal them up in a Ziplock bag. Now you have a ready supply of sauce whenever the craving hits. Just take them out of the freezer, let them thaw out, or just heat them up in the microwave or a sauce pan. Viola!! Instant sauce ready to go. Hope this simple kitchen tip helps you out.

Marinara and Alfredo Icecubes ready for the next time we have a spaghetti or pizza craving

A Mushroom Swiss Burger And A Texadelphia Burger

Mushroom Swiss Burger

     Sorta missed out on the whole National Hamburger Day thing this year (it was May 28th), but better late than never. We were recovering from our camping trip with some friends to Lake Whitney and to tell you the truth….I had been logged off of computers since the 24th (which was a great feeling.) But I can share some burgers that we made last week. In all honesty, we made these ahead of time in order to post for National Hamburger Day, but we just got really busy getting ready for the camping trip and work and well….life in general.     

     We started off using the last of our hamburger grind (guess its time to make some more) which was a blend of 3:1 chuck to short rib. A good tasty blend, but next time I think we’ll try to add in some brisket. The wife made these patties big….half pound each BIG!! I know she added in some Stubb’s Burger Spice Rub, but I don’t know what else. Probably some worsey sauce, salt and pepper and I don’t know what else. These went onto the Egg which was pre-heated to 450F. 

On to the Egg at 450F

     After a few minutes, the patties got flipped.

Now we’re cooking with fire

     A couple more minutes, and we threw on the buns to get toasted and added Swiss cheese to Mrs. G’s burger.

Buns and cheese added

     To make Mrs. G’s Mushroom Swiss Burger, we first added some sautéed mushrooms and  then some onions that I had slowly cooked down earlier.

The start of the Mushroom Swiss Burger

     Then she added some lettuce and tomatoes to top it off.

Finished burger

     For my Texadelphia Burger, I also started with some ‘shrooms and onions, then topped it off with Cheez Whiz and some diced jalapenos that I roasted prior to cooking the burgers.

Texadelphia Burger

     Mrs. G’s burger sure did look good, and it must have tasted good considering the nice dent she put in it. Mine on the other hand…EPIC FAILURE!! That’s right…failure. Not often you see a blogger post a failure, but I’m human, I make mistakes, I flub cooks and this was one of them. I don’t know if it was the sweetness of the yellow onion or the NASTINESS of the Cheez Whiz. I’ve never bought Cheez Whiz, not sure if I’ve ever had it, but I never will again. That stuff is NASTINESS in a jar. I think if I ever try this again, I will use provolone cheese or something else.

     One interesting thing about this cook. If you look closely at the burgers, especially the last picture, you will notice a red tint to them. I wasn’t thinking about it, but the egg still had some cherry wood chips from the ribs we had previously smoked. Those wood chips imparted a red tint to the burgers. Pretty cool, huh?

     We hope everybody had a safe, relaxing and fun Memorial Day Weekend, but more importantly that you took some time to think about and honor those that have  died while serving and protecting our great nation.

Cherry Smoked Ribs

Cherry Smoked Ribs

“Ribs. I had ribs for lunch, that’s why I’m doing this.” (as he’s picking his teeth) ~Ron Burgundy, Anchorman

     I’ve been having a craving for ribs for a while. It’s not something I make all the time, just because it takes so long to smoke spareribs, but Sunday we had no plans and it was the perfect day for it. Just lay around all day, read the paper, watch TV, maybe take a nap and let the Egg do its magic and slowly smoke the ribs for 5 or 6 hours. Perfect day.

Pork Spareribs

     In the picture above you can see a rack of untrimmed pork spareribs. These are not baby backs, but spare ribs. They are bigger, tougher and meatier in every way compared to baby back ribs. As a result, they need to cook longer than baby backs, generally in the 6 hour range, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. I’m going to show you how to trim your spare ribs into what are called St. Louis Style ribs. I don’t know where they got that name, probably a butcher in St. Louis would be my guess, but a quick scour of the internet didn’t really produce any results for me.

Remove the skirt or skirt meat

     The first thing you want to do is remove the skirt or skirt meat. This is a flap of meat that sits in the middle of the rack on the inside of the rib (bone side). This flap of meat cooks differently than the ribs and will burn if left on, not to mention it makes a good taster or cooks treat while the ribs are smoking. To remove this flap, lift it up with one hand, and holding a knife parallel to the ribs slowly carve it away as close to the ribs as possible.

Trim away the rib tips and square up the ends

     The next step, is to trim away the rib tips. In the picture, it is the top of the ribs, but in actuality it would be the bottom of the rib cage. The rib tips contain the cartilage and the sternum. These also cook differently and are more difficult to carve off after the ribs are done. In order to trim this section off, locate the ends of the ribs and trim at that line. It might be difficult at first, but it gets easier with practice. Finally, square off the ribs by removing the last few smaller, bones. This is more for appearance sake than anything else. Don’t worry about waste, we are going to smoke all of these parts, or you could reserve them and use them for other purposes if you so choose.

Spare ribs trimmed St. Louis style

     One thing I did not show you is how to remove the membrane located on the inside (bone side) of the ribs. Some people say it’s vital to remove the membrane, others claim it doesn’t matter. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to. I didn’t take any pictures of this, because my hands were all messy….plus I forgot. But there are plenty of website that will walk you through it and even videos on youtube, so check those out for more details.

     Why should you remove the membrane? The membrane is a water proof film that separates the chest cavity of the pig from the muscle/rib area. It keeps everything from passing in or out of the chest area. When smoking ribs, it keeps out the smoke and seasoning flavor and holds in the fat that needs to be rendered. Not to mention you really can’t chew it. That is why I choose to remove the membrane.

     Do you really have to trim your ribs? No, but I think it makes them easier to cook and looks better. Can you get a butcher to do it for you? Sure, but it’s gonna cost you more for something you can easily learn how to do on your own.

On the smoker at 250F

     For these ribs, I decide to use a rub from a lil place outside of Austin. Maybe you’ve heard of it….the Salt Lick? Maybe you’ve seen it on Food Network or The Travel Channel? We’ve visited a few times, and while the BBQ can be hit or miss, and it’s not quite as good as the Big 3 in Lockhart, they do sell some quality rubs and sauces (and their sauce is quite unusual, try it if you ever get the chance). So I decided to use their rub today for these ribs. First I slathered on a layer of mustard. This helps the rub to stick and helps form a nice bark on the ribs. If you don’t like mustard, don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste it at all by the time the ribs are done. The generously apply the rub.

     The ribs (and trimmed sections) went on to the Egg at 250F. For this smoke, I decided to branch out a bit. Normally with ribs (or brisket or pork butt), I would go with a wood that produces a heavier smoke, like mesquite, hickory or even pecan. This time, I tried using cherry wood chips for the smoke. This produces a lighter smoke flavor and I’ve had great results with it in the past with chicken and turkey. And because this was a lazy, take it easy kind of Sunday afternoon, I hooked up my Auber Instruments Pit Controller so I wouldn’t have to worry about or check the temperature of the Egg throughout the cook. The controller takes care of the hard work and makes it almost seem like cheating. perfect.

     There is a lot of talk in the barbecue world about using a 3-2-1 method when cooking spare ribs. Smoke the ribs for 3 hours, then wrap in foil, maybe with a little juice (apple or other) or beer to braise them for 2 hours, then remove from foil and smoke for another hour to “firm up” the bark again. I don’t buy into it. Hasn’t worked for me once. Everytime I have tried that method, I’ve ended up with over cooked, fall off the bone mush. BTW….fall off the bone….that’s a sign that your ribs have been overcooked. Don’t buy into that advertising hype. Ribs should have a bit of pull to them when you take a bite, they shouldn’t fall off the bone. At least that’s the way I see it, you can cook your ribs fall off the bone if you want to. I’ve tried modifying this method and have found a 3-1-and then however much time is needed to finish them off method works best for me.

4 hours in, after removing from foil.

     After 3 hours of smoke, one hour wrapped in foil with some liquid to braise it, the ribs came out almost done. I left them on the Egg for about another 20-30 minutes for the bark to firm up before pulling them off. Notice the missing skirt and rib ends in the above picture? Of course not, they were already done, pulled and eaten by this point. Cooks treat.

Done

     Look how far the meat pulled back from the ends of the bones! These were almost over done.

Cutting up the ribs

     And check out that smoke ring! We plated them up with some corn that we grilled after the ribs were done, some pasta salad and some baked beans.

Plated up

     This was a perfect Sunday dinner for us. The cherry wood really complimented the ribs well. It left a nice smoke ring, but was a strong smokey flavor like you sometimes get using a heavier wood. I had forgotten how peppery the Salt Lick rub was and I might have used it a bit heavily on the ribs, but the sweetness of the corn and the coolness of the pasta salad played off it nicely. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water, glad I packed some of the leftovers for lunch today.

     (If you happened to notice, I apologize, but some of the pictures are blurry. My camera lens got a smudge on it somehow and I didn’t realize that until I looked over the pictures Monday. If you didn’t notice it, nevermind. The lens has now been cleaned. )

Spicy Ginger Teriyaki Wings and Buffalo Wings

Hot Wings and Spicy Ginger Teriyaki Wings

     I decided that Saturday was going to be a wing eating, beer drinking, Spurs watching kinda day early on in the week. I actually had a Saturday free with no plans or errands to run or anything. That doesn’t happen often for me and I was planning on taking full advantage of it. Friday night, I talked to a friend, Mr. J, and invited him and his girlfriend to come over and join us. It had been years since I saw him. He actually inspired me to start my blog but never knew it till I told him Saturday night. He had made a comment over a year ago that all I ever did was post pictures of food on Facebook….which was soooo not true. But thank you anyway Mr. J for getting me started.

     Now all I had to do was decide what kind of wings to make. Earlier that week, I had spotted a recipe for Spicy Ginger Teriyaki Wings on the Egghead Forum that Cazzy had made at the Salado Eggfest and that others had since made with good results. That sounded good to me, but just in case I would make half that way and half regular ole  Buffalo wings. Variety is always good. Here’s the recipe as submitted to the Salado Eggfest website.

Spicy Ginger Teriyaki Wings (Submitted by Cazzy)

Ingredients needed

Chicken wings (whole or cut to flappers and drumettes)
1 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Mirin Rice Wine
1 tbsp fresh ginger root (peeled and grated)
1 tsp chili flakes (I opted for 2 tbps of chili garlic sauce and a coupla heaping squirts of Sriracha instead)
*I use this as a base and multiply quantities based on need.

Making Spicy Ginger Teriyaki Sauce

In a sauce pan…bring soy, brown sugar and mirin rice wine to a boil and leave on heat till brown sugar has dissolved. Stir regularly and throughout after boil to avoid scorching. Low heat and add ginger and chili flakes. Simmer for 10 min while stirring regularly. Remove from heat and refrigerate.

Marination
Marinate wings for 24 hours in chilled marinade prior to cook (the chili flakes will rise to the top so shake it up). I use a gallon bag to marinate because I like to lay bag flat and flip after 12 hours. (Note: due to time constraints, I was only able to marinate for 16 hours, Cazzy said a shorter marinate would probably be fine and it was)

Cook

Fire up egg and stabilize at 375-400. I use an adjustable rig with a 16″ drip pan and cook above the felt line. Place drumettes on outside and flappers in the middle because it will be hotter on the outside due to the drip pan.
This is the anal part but I find it really makes the wings tacky and layers the flavor. At 5 min, I baste with marinade, then again at 10 min. At 15, I flip and baste and then baste again at 20 min. This process is why I use a drip pan cause the marinade will make your lump smoke a undesirable taste into the wings. Your wings will be at about 145-150 and should really start having a beautiful brownish red color. Remove at 165…I check each one then remove. Some may go over a lil but no worry…as you know, our eggs are very forgiving. (One thing Cazzy did not mention, and I don’t know if he does or does not do it, but if I am going to use and marinade as a sauce that raw chicken has been in, I like to bring it to a boil for a good 5-10 minutes before hand for safety reasons)

Using different soy sauces will change the flavor a tad and you can reduce/increase ginger and chili flakes based on preference.

Wings going on

     I didn’t follow Cazzy’s directions exactly, as you can already see by the recipe. The other change is the setup I used for the Egg. I don’t have an adjustable rig, so I had to make do with what I do have. I inserted my placestter legs up, put an aluminum foil pan underneath the Teriyaki Wings (on the left side of above picture) and then put my grate on top of that. You will be basting the wings throughout the cook, and if you don’t catch the drippings, they will fall on the hot coals, causing them to smoke and impart a nasty flavor. I did not use any wood chips with this cook as teriyaki does not traditionally have smoke as past of the cook. On the right side of the Egg, you can see the Hot Wings. At this point they are simply sprinkled with Salt Lick rub. If you can’t find this particular rub in your area, any BBQ rub will work.

Halfway Through

  The Teriyak wings require some close supervision, at least with my setup. The sauce has quite a bit of sugar, and due to the amount of wings I had going, some of them were situated above the gaps of the placesetter. As such, the wings had to be flipped and rotated to prevent the sugar from burning. As you can see in the above picture, some of them had become a bit black, not quite burnt but not as appealing to the eye.

Spicy Ginger Teriyaki Wings

The Teriyaki wings came out great. They were sticky and sweet, but I did not detect a lot of heat. I don’t know if that was due to changing the recipe or not, but I will try to get some more heat in them next time. These were more like Teriyaki Wings.

Hot Wings

The rest of the wings got tossed with a simple buffalo wing sauce.

Buffalo Wing Sauce

1/2 cup Franks Hot Sauce

1/3 cup butter

few teaspoons of garlic powder

couple of squirts of Sriracha (adjust to your heat tolerance)

Bring ingredients to a boil and allow butter to melt. Toss wings in sauce, or drizzle on top of cooked wings.

Plated up

Wings were plated up with a pasta salad and some fresh veggies and served up with ranch. To me wings always make great game food, even if your team worries you for a bit. Just glad the Spurs were able to get it together and make a come back. All in all, it was a great day for hanging out, grilling, drinking some cold ones and catching up with friends.

Funny post I stole from friend on Facebook

Simple White Bread for a Bread Machine

White Bread

     Bread. One of my favorite foods. Something that belongs with every meal, in some form or another, in my opinion. Something that has fascinated me for a while. The yeast. The fermentation. The rise. Something that I just don’t have time to get involved in as much as I want to. I mean common!! It takes hours and hours and who has that time after getting home from work? I know I don’t. Maybe I should make an effort to try some on the weekends….     

     Last night, we were planning on having BLTs for dinner. Who doesn’t like a BLT? The toasted bread. The salty, smokey goodness of bacon. Crisp, refreshing lettuce and juicy tomatoes. A perfect combination. And then I get home…..and what do I find? A ripped up bag of bread on the kitchen floor! Now, I don’t know how he did it, but I am convinced that Bodi, our Yorkie, somehow managed to pull this off. Maybe he can jump higher than we thought. Maybe he has super powers and can fly….or levitate objects with his mind. It absolutely, positively could not have been Oliver, our German Shepherd, who got it down. Not sweet, innocent lil Olie. He would never do anything like that.     

    So I was faced with two options. Go to the store, which I had already done twice this week and I did not want to face again, or figure out how to whip up some bread. Ok, there could have been an option 3, get fast food or delivery, but I wasn’t feeling that. I wanted BLTs! A quick scour of the internet and whaddya know….there are recipes for bread for bread machines on there!! Who knew? So you mean I don’t have to buy a box mix? And I actually have all the ingredients on hand? (I bet you do, too, except maybe the yeast) Awesome! 

White Bread

Ingredients

1 cup warm water (110F)

3 tbsp white sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

3 tbsp vegetable oil

3 cups flour

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast

Directions

1. Place water, sugar, salt, oil, flour and yeast into pan of bread machine

2. Bake on White Bread Setting (Light Crust). Cool on wire rack before slicing.

     How simple is that? Dump it all in and turn it on. Even an idiot I can do that. No kneading the dough, no waiting for the rise and punching it down. Simple, simple, simple. I’m no expert on bread machines, so I can’t tell you how long it will take with yours, but for mine, it took 2 hours and 40 minutes, which gave me time to knock some things off the honey-do list and sit down and watch a bit of tv while waiting for Mrs. G to get home.

     From now on this will be my go to bread recipe. It makes a 1.5 lb loaf of bread, perfect for two people or a small family. It is light and airy, yet packs plenty of flavor without containing any preservatives or extra chemicals. Best of all, it fills the house with that aroma of fresh baked bread. And those BLTs we were talking about earlier….even better on home-made bread!

BLTs

    So if you like fresh, warm bread and happen to have a bread machine, I recommend you try this recipe for white bread. Simple, easy, delicious.