Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

Feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or just to let me know what you think. Thanks!

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I want to thank you for the time that you spend here, and hope that you can find useful things here.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Pepper Loins

Another adventure - the product of "what's in the fridge"?
Bear with me and you'll soon see what I mean...

Random stuff from fridge and pantry:
1 pork loin
half-cracked peppercorns
1 lb Crimini mushrooms, sliced (reserve in two parts)
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup port
1/2 t tarragon
1/4 t dill

1 Roma tomato, diced
mozzarella cheese, diced
vinegar & extra virgin olive oil
Peccorino Romano cheese
salt & pepper

1 lb red potatoes
sour cream
garlic powder
parsley flakes

Put about a pound of red potatoes in water and start them to boil until soft. Or use a package of instant mashed red potatoes, your choice.

In a small saucepan, combine the wines, tarragon and dill and bring to a fast simmer. The goal here is to reduce it by 2/3.

Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium-hot. Add in one-half of the sliced Crimini mushrooms and toast to cook in the dry pan - do not add oil. you will see them shrink, be sure to turn halfway through the process when the mushrooms just start to color. Once they are done, mix them in with the reduced wine sauce and cover over low heat to keep warm.

While all that is underway,

Set the oven to 350°. Trim all silver skin from the pork loin, and section out two nice 4 oz. portions. Reserve the rest for another use. Roll the pork loins in cracked peppercorns until lightly crusted, then sear them to a nice light crustiness.

Place the loins on a pan on the center rack, for about 10 minutes, or until your Thermopen registers an internal temp of 135°. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.

Once you drain your cooked potatoes well, mash them, leaving skins on. Mix in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream and a dash or two of garlic powder, incorporating well. Let sit for flavors to meld.

While all this is going on, take you sliced your Crimini mushrooms, Roma tomato and mozzarella cheese and mix together with the vinegar and oil and salt and pepper as a dressing (you can also use Italian dressing). Once mixed, plate and lightly top with the Romano cheese.

Plate the potatoes, then plate your rested pork loin and top with the mushroom & wine reduction. Voila!

New ways to use leftovers - tasty and thrifty.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brother-in-Law Ribs

We hadn’t seen Kathy’s brother Larry in a couple of years, so when he made it down to the Hill Country the other day, I wanted to put up something yummy.

We had seared and oven braised ribs, a nice sausage potato salad and a mixed greens salad with chopped veggies. Come back any time!

Flounder en Papillote

A truly fast, easy and healthy way to cook, “en papillote” simply means “in paper”. In this method, the food simply steams/braises itself, and the clean up is really easy as well. You can really use any good vegetables you like – this time it was red bell pepper, carrots, sugar snap peas, onions and mushrooms. Frozen mixed vegetables work well here too.

Also, you really have to use parchment paper – wax paper won’t work. In the oven, the wax will melt out and the paper fail, but parchment paper uses silicone instead of wax, so it hangs in there just fine.


zest of 1 entire lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
parchment paper
2 cups of fresh veggies, cut as you would for stir-fry
1/4 cup good white wine
2 tbs lemon juice (not from the zested lemon, above)
2 tsp olive oil
2 (5-ounce) flounder fillets (you can use any fairly thin fresh fish)
4-6 thin slices, center cut from the zested lemon
1/2 cup rice, your choice (I used basmati)
1 cup water


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl mix together 2/3 of the lemon zest, salt, and pepper and set aside. Save the other third.

Prepare the parchment paper. Lay the paper out in landscape orientation, and then fold it in half like a book. Using scissors, cut out half of a wide heart shape, so that when you finish and it is opened, it will resemble the picture below. Repeat for the second sheet.

Put half of your veggies on one half of your open heart, in the middle top-to-bottom and near the centerline. Drizzle one tsp of olive oil and half of your reserved zest, salt and pepper mix over the veggies.

Lay your piece of fish over the veggies, and layer 2 or 3 lemon slices over the fish.

Drizzle a couple of ounces of wine over the fish stack, fold the empty half of the heart over the food, and start sealing the pouch. Starting at the top of the “heart” (away from the point), fold the paper over about an inch. Move down and repeat, making sure to have each fold overlap the previous fold.

Doing this makes each fold hold the earlier ones shut. When you get to the pointy end, you are left with a “tail” like in the picture below. Notice how all the folds are locked together.

This tail you have left at the end you will tuck under the pouch when you put it on the baking sheet.

Now is a good time to start your rice. Make it as you normally would, but add the raw unsalted lemon zest to the rice when it comes to a boil. Once you set your rice timer for 15 minutes, get the fish in the oven on the middle rack. It needs to spend about 13 minutes in the oven, so when the rice is almost done, pull out your fish. Plate the rice, add butter and garnish as desired. Next plate the pouch. Pierce the paper and pull it back, being careful of the steam. Here it is served alongside the basmati rice mix.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sausage and Potato Salad

If you want a change from the typical mayonnaise or mustard based potato salads, give this a try. Potatoes, sausage and a vinaigrette mix together to make it filling, tasty and fresh. This makes 4 healthy servings.




10 min

Inactive Prep

10 min


35 min


55 min

For Salad:
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • a couple teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • half-pound Polish or similar sausage, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
  • 4 chopped scallions, use all green and white parts

For Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • crumbled bacon bits for garnish (optional)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes; boil about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool. Cut potatoes into 1 – 1½” chunks and place in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage slices. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add the sausage to the bowl with the potatoes along with celery and green onions.

For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar, and then slowly whisk in oil. Add this and the scallions to the potato mixture and toss to combine. Add bacon bits if desired as topping. Serve warm or at room temperature. this is also very tasty with red potatoes.

Let Them Eat . . . Oil?

Everyone who cooks more than frozen pizza has occasion to cook with oil. From Pam in a spray can to $80 per gallon extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil, there is a place for it somewhere in the cooking panorama. That's no t to say that you can't make your own flavored oils. Things like rosemary, dill, tarragon or garlic oil can really add to salads and dishes from your kitchen. Here's another one - chile oil. In the picture above, I have bottles of canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, chile oil and garlic oil in the kitchen. Yum!

12 oz fresh oil †
6 Tbsp dried red chili pepper flakes ‡

use olive oil for a fuller taste, or a light vegetable oil to let the infusion flavor be prominent. Also, if making chili oil for Asian cooking, you can also add a teaspoon of sesame oil in the mix.

you can also use dried chiles of many varieties, like japonais, cascabel, or Thai. Just pulverize them and use them instead of commercial flakes.

Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat to 180°-200°. While this is heating, add the chile flakes to a heat-proof glass container that you can seal. A one-pint mason jar works great for this. Once the oil is hot, slowly add it to the mason jar on top of the flakes.

Add the top to the jar, and being careful with the hot jar, agitate the oil to mix well. Let the jar sit for at least an hour for the flavors to meld. Once cooled, strain out the chile flakes and pot the oil into a fresh and clean bottle for use. You can save the oily chili flakes for use in cooking too - it's a win-win!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Burgundy Beef & Mushroom Stew

2 lb. boneless beef shoulder roast
1 lb. fresh button mushrooms
1 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms
1 each medium onion, cut into thin slices
1 lb. carrots, washed, unpeeled, cut into abut 1-1/2" chunks
2 oz. cooked, chopped bacon
2 tsp. Herbs de Provence
1 c. burgundy wine
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

Place a heavy skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until nice and hot. Toss in the chopped bacon and fry until cooked well. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pan, and drain and reserve.

Trim all fat and silver skin off of the roast, cut into about 1-1/2" chunks, and place in a large bowl. Season liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and toss / stir to evenly coat. Put the chunks of meat in the still-hot skillet with the bacon fat until it is brown on all sides.

In this order, load up a slow cooker with: beef chunks, mushrooms, onions, herbs de Provence and carrots. Sprinkle the reserved bacon pieces over the top of the food, and then pour in the wine.

Put the top on the cooker and let it go on low for about 8 hours. Try really hard to ignore the lovely smells, and give it at least 8 hours to finish cooking.

Serve in a bowl or over rice or noodles.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Camarones con Mojo de Ajo

This size shrimp seems to give the best balance between cost and size. Frying the garlic not only infuses the oil, but makes the resultant slices mild and crispy. Frying the shrimp shells just pours more flavor into the oil, which we'll enjoy later.


1 lb raw shrimp, with shells (size: 31-40 count)
1 cup milk
1 cup cooking oil
10 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced thin (more is always better!)
1 cup AP flour
salt & pepper
fresh cilantro
2 limes


Peel the shrimp, reserve shells and tails. Soak peeled shrimp in the milk for an hour. Now peel all your garlic and slice it up:

Heat the oil in a large skillet using medium heat. When hot, add in the sliced garlic and fry. Stir the garlic around, cooking it until it just stars to brown around the edges. Remove the garlic from the oil and save. Dry the shrimp shells and tails well, then add them to the hot oil.

Stir the shells around, turning them over once, so as to infuse the oil with all the 'shrimpyness' of the shells, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard all the shells and tails.

When done, remove all the garlic and shell pieces from the oil with a slotted spoon, then return skillet to heat. Reserve the garlic slices, and discard shrimp shells.

Put the flour in a shallow dish, mixing in salt and pepper to taste. A few at a time, remove the soaked shrimp from the milk and dredge in the flout to coat well. Cook all the shrimp in the hot garlic/shrimp oil until done, about 90 seconds per side.

Remove cooked shrimp and serve with prepared rice, drizzling some of the cooking oil over shrimp and rice.

Below it's garnished with the fried garlic slices and fresh cilantro. Serve with quartered lime sections.

Makes four servings of shrimpy goodness.