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Beginners at smoking meat

7 Jul

Over the holiday weekend, Alex and I FINALLY broke out the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker that his mother bought us for Christmas. We were a bit intimidated by it at first. Smokers and smoking meat is a real science that takes people years to perfect, and we were definitely amateurs. It took a little convincing to get Alex to agree to bring it out over the holiday weekend since he thought that the whole process would be overly complicated, but he reluctantly agreed. So we woke up all bright eyed and bushy tailed Friday morning to play with our new toy. The smoker itself was pretty easy to assemble. The smoking process, however, was not as easy. People have told us that you can just throw a piece of meat in there, walk away and come back several hours later to a nicely cooked finished product. We found that to not be the case. It may have been due to our lack of knowledge on the matter, but we found ourselves babysitting the smoker all day to make sure that the temperature stayed within the proper heat range. We were continually heating up more coals and feeding it to the smoker. All in all, we had a great time learning about this new cooking method. Here is a recap of our day:

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Chicken fried steak, by a Northerner

11 Mar

Okay I have to admit, I’ve never attempted to make country fried steak before. So when Alex suggested it for dinner Sunday night I very reluctantly agreed. (I hate messing up a Sunday dinner).   I immediately went on the iPad to google “best chicken fried steak recipe”.  My results led me to this Alton Brown recipe, which I altered slightly to give it my own little flare.  It turned out pretty decent for a Northerner’s first attempt so I figured I’d share.  Enjoy!

Chicken Fried Steak
4 servings (or if you are glutens like us, 2 servings)

2 pounds beef bottom round steaks
2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 whole eggs, beaten
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

2. Mix flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne and place into a pie pan. Place the beaten eggs and Worcestershire sauce into a separate pie pan.

3. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour mixture. Tenderize the meat, using a needling device or meat tenderizer, until each slice is 1/4-inch thick.

4. Once tenderized, dredge the meat again in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

5. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook one steak at a time as to not overcrowd the pan.  Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side.

6. Keep cooked steaks warm in the heated oven while cooking the other steaks and preparing the gravy.

7. Once all the steaks are finished, add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour left over from the dredging. Add chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add milk and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

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Crispy oven “fried” chicken wings

2 Feb

Alex and I decided to throw a Super Bowl party for ourselves this year. What does that mean? Basically, we are going to cook a bunch of party food and eat it ourselves. It’s really the best kind of party. There is no need to dress up or put on makeup. We know exactly what we want to eat, how much to cook and we don’t have to worry about someone taking the last chicken wing which we secretly wanted for ourselves.

So what’s first on our menu tonight? Crispy oven “fried” chicken wings. We are HUGE fans of extra crispy deep-fried chicken wings and it’s seldom that I enjoy eating a baked chicken wing. But the fact is, deep frying at home can be messy. So a couple of years ago, I spent quite some time researching the best way to bake a crispy chicken wing and I finally came up with a fool proof method that requires zero oil! I know there are probably a lot of skeptics out there but I promise you these wings will not disappoint. (Alex is a picky wing eater and he loves them – or at least that’s what he tells me).

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Recap of our DC trip

11 Jan

I know it has been about a month since my last post but what a busy month it’s been! With Christmas, New Year’s, Alex’s birthday, and the birth of our friends’ first child I just haven’t found the time to sit down and write. But the new year brings new beginnings and I hope to bring a lot of exciting stuff to the blog this year.

To start off the new year, here is the much anticipated recap of our holiday DC trip! Continue reading

Chunky Game Day Guac

8 Sep

I have the amazing ability to pick out THE WORST avocados ever.  I am always second guessing myself at the store.  I stand there picking up dozens of avocados and looking for color and firmness.  In reality, I have no idea what I am supposed to look for.  Are they supposed to be bright green? Slightly brown? Firm to the touch? Soft?  Do they smell like anything? Whenever I want to make a taco salad, my avocados are complete mush.  Whenever I want to make guacamole, my avocados are hard as apples.  I can never win…until now!

I decided at the last minute today to make guacamole to enjoy during the Steelers game.  I had all of the ingredients for it except for the dreaded avocados.  So I quickly ran out to the store and just picked up the first two avocados I saw.  No special selection process, just grab and go.  I came back home to find that they were PERFECT.  I was elated so I felt that this Chunky Game Day Guacamole deserved a blog post to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Chunky Game Day GuacamoleDSC_2908
2 servings

2 avocados,cubed
6 grape tomatos, cut into quarters
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 jalapeno or serrano peppers, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

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Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. That’s it! No need to pull out that mortar and pestle. This is the lazy man’s guac.

Serve with chips and beer.

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