Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hot Buttered Rum

Wow it has been a great holiday!  My now 12 year old, Miss El, came to visit for the week between Christmas and New Year so we are hanging out...  We have an unusual amount of snow for this time of year, I have mentioned before that around our neighborhood we are kind of renowned... maybe infamous for our snow antics strange snow creatures come up often.  The four of us decided to go at snow painting this time.  Just some spray bottles from Walgreens, food coloring and water and away we went.

We hit the neighbor's bush

Made a driveway beacon (no missing the turn now)

and some random spots on the lawn...

But it was COLD out so we didn't get as much done as we wanted,  we weenied out one at a time, until I was standing in the yard with four spray bottles of colored water which is, face it is kind of weird.

That was OK though I had a special treat on the stove for me and some hot chocolate for my under 21 teammates.  Hot buttered rum was going for me, one of those drinks that soothes you from the inside and just makes the evening warm.

Makes two servings
1/2 cup apple Cidar
1/2 water
2 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS unsalted butter
3-4 whole cloves
1/8 tsp (isn't that a big pinch) of cinnamon or 1/2 a cinnamon stick
small pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark rum

Heat all of the ingredients in a small saucepan until it starts to simmer then serve.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hey all!  Not really a post today just a forwarded email from a friend.  I can take no credit for this but thought it was fun.  I hope that you all enjoy a wonderful holiday!  I wish you and your families the best.


1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare... You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beef Tenderloin a Holiday Classic

But er... for what Holiday?
For most people there are normal holiday food equations for example:
Thanksgiving = Turkey
Christmas = Beef
Easter = Ham

Our house is a little different our equations are:
Thanksgiving = Beef Tenderloin
Christmas = Ham

Kris can't stand turkey, me being the foodie nut that I am I tried everything to get her to agree that she liked the bird when we met... one year I brined a turkey in honey, garlic and tarragon; another year I slathered one in cranberry chutney and baked it in a bag.  After about three years and eating most of a turkey myself I realized that maybe my wife knows exactly how turkey tastes, she just doesn't like it.  Now we have come to enjoy our non traditional food equations.  It also gives me the advantage of posting my Thanksgiving recipe in time for you to see it before Christmas.

If you read my blog you will see the recurring theme... I can work a recipe to death to get exactly what I want; this one has been done five or six times with some setbacks.  This Thanksgiving we got it right!

Beef Tenderloin in Red Wine Reduction:

The Sauce:
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 small onions
3 cloves fresh garlic
2 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 750 ml bottle of Merlot
1 cup chicken broth
1 14 oz can beef broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme
10-12 peppercorns
1 bay leaf

1 TBS Flour
1 TBS Butter

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan then add onions and garlic sauté until tender (about 10 minutes).  Add the brown sugar and sauté for about 4 more minutes, until it is deep brown.  Add vinegar and stir for about a minute more until it is almost evaporated.  Then add your bottle of wine (minus a sip or two... you are the cook you get a little extra) simmer until reduced by half...

Here is the cool way to check that, put a rubber band around the handle of a wooden spoon then dip that into your sauce.  Roll the band down to the line left by the liquid then you know where you started... when your sauce pan has half of the liquid you know you are done.

Add the rest of your ingredients and simmer on low heat for about half an hour.  Strain through a fine strainer into a large bowl and set aside. Give your saucepan a quick rinse then mix your butter and flour to make a roux.  Put your sauce back in and cook for 5-10 more minutes.  This can be done a day ahead and reheated.

The Beef
2 1/2 to 3 pound Tenderloin trimmed
Salt, pepper
1-2 TBS Olive oil

Sprinkle salt and pepper on beef then let it set on the counter (covered with an upside down pan if you are the owner of one or more cats) for about half an hour until it is room temp.  Then heat up the oil in your pan and sear beef on all sides then transfer to the oven and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes until done the way you like.  I did mine in the Iron skillet so I only used one pan for this part. 

When the meat is just slightly under done pull it out and let stand at room temp for a few minutes.  Doing that lets the juices settle so they stay in your beef and not all over the counter.  When it is done slice and serve with the red wine reduction!  At the top if this page it is pictured with

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Hey all I have a special guest blogger today. Miss Lu wanted to take over this post for me… I have to say that I am happy to have the help.  This is her account of dinner last Saturday we made lasagna, I can't really call it a recipe, you know a couple of jars of sauce, a handful of lasagna noodles and some ground beef from the back of our overstuffed freezer.  Put it in a pan and go, so easy... well an 8 year old can do it!  So please read below to see my youngest daughter’s take on our Saturday dinner and maybe a little more.

First, I want to say I have the best time cooking with my amazing daddy. I’m thankful for my daddy because if I didn’t have him there would be a hole in my heart. So don’t you think we should talk about food for my daddy ? So I made lasagna over the weekend. It was FUN! How to make lasagna: first, get a pan then line with parchment. We sprayed that with pan spray and added the sauce.

Next, after that we put the hard noodles in the bottom of the pan then we added more sauce and after that we sprinkled the meat on then Mozzarella cheese then after the Mozzarella cheese we added more sauce the after that we put the hard noodles on and then we put sauce then ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese a little more sauce and more hard noodles again. Then we put the lasagna in the oven for about an hour if my dad remembers to turn the oven on dinner will be a little later if he doesn’t.

We made three layers in all. My daddy is the apple of my eye . So doing things like (this blog entry) for my daddy is an awesome way to learn how to spell.

Me Miss. Lu is 8 years old. In Mr. Sun’s class . To My friends: Jasmine, Alexandra, Kyla ,Mya ,Bella ,Anna ,EIsha


One of the reasons that we did this was to get out of reading homework, I figured that writing should count too (maybe even more).  I did learn that MS Lu can be a just a little full of B.S.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lets play at my friends blog today!

I am posting at "From the Monkey Bars" today!  Come over and play...  Oh and tomorrowI have my first guest blogger!  I know what you are saying, "My God, I am on the edge of my computer chair!  Who is it?!?"  come visit tomorrow and see ;~)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baby Artichokes

Just look at them... aren't they the cutest?  Who could resist these little guys?  Baby artichokes!  I have never used them in anything before.  I mean seriously who was the first person to look at an artichoke and think, "say, I'll bet if I peeled about four layers of leaves off of those, then cut them in half, pulled the chokey thing out of the middle and steamed them for 20 minutes they might taste good coated in a Caper Sauce."  That being said I do like artichokes with a nice tart sauce but the process is extreme for a side dish.  Take it for what it is, my Salmon was much simpler... Step 1 remove from refrigerator. Step 2 put on grill... so I had some balance.

The Artichokes were a few steps to get done working with 1 artichoke at a time, pull back outer leaves until they come off close to base discard do this with about 3-4 layers of leaves until exposed leaves are pale green at top and pale yellow at bottom. Cut about a half an inch off the top and trim the bottom into a bit of a cone shape, then halve artichoke lengthwise. Remove fuzzy center and any pointed inner leaves. Put in a bowl of lemon water to keep it from browning.

Once they are all trimmed boil in water with salt and lemon juice for about 20 minutes when fork tender remove with a slotted spoon and soak in ice water until ready to grill.  This can be made a day ahead if you like.

The Sauce
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp of anchovy paste (or about 4 anchovy chopped up)
2 1/2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Warm sauce in a small pan then set aside until ready to serve.

Cook Artichoke halves on a grill, mine was the cast iron stove top kind, winter came pretty fast and I am not ready to use the gas grill yet.  I did them for about 4-5 minutes on a side while I grilled the salmon.   When it was all done I poured the sauce on the Salmon and Artichokes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Memories, Recollections and Foibles

At work the other day I was exchanging, for lack of a better word, war stories. I was kind of looking nostalgically back at the days when I would lock the restaurant doors, pour myself a 16 oz to go cup of margarita and finish cleaning the kitchen counters and putting the last of my line in the cooler. Whenever I do this I remember how much work but how much fun managing a restaurant can be. I block out the fact that I got home at 2:30 in the morning bone weary from standing for the last 12-14 hours trying to keep everything together for one more day. Then going to bed only to get up what seems like a few minutes later to start it all over.

Then I stared to think of the things that I have done that make me wonder how I am still alive. These short anecdotes are in no particular order neither timeline nor stupidity are taken into account.

One day I was cutting smoked chicken breast for the Southwest eggrolls that we made, the restaurant host Kelly and I began talking about the specials. I turned and looked at my friend and started to describe the Stuffed Rainbow Trout that I was making that Friday evening when with a quick slice I cut the end of my thumb off. Really only about a quarter of an inch but still...

This is something I learned in the week that followed, I hit the end of my left thumb on something about 697 times a day, normally it doesn’t make me see stars, every time this week it did.

I had been a part of a $600,000 renovation project at an account that my company had just acquired. My new regional Vice President was coming to look at our progress, I knew that he was going to visit so I was wearing my best suit (the only one that I have ever paid full price for) and instead of my usual slip resistant restaurant shoes I was wearing leather soled Oxfords, I really looked sharp. The RVP called and said that he was on his way into the parking lot so I made a quick run through the dining area then the kitchen to make sure that everything looked good. I picked up a dirty pan to take to the pot washer, when I went through the kitchen I stepped in a small patch of water and slipped. Now this wasn't just any old slip... my feet went into the air and I landed flat on my back in a puddle of water, my fancy shoes in the air, I was surrounded by leftover egg croissant sandwiches just as the person that I was trying to impress walked in the back door... “Hey Bryan, looks good!”

One evening Kris and I were having Lasagna for a casual dinner and I went to get us a couple of glasses of wine. I tilted the box of wine forward and a paring knife slipped off the top and fell strait down, right through my second toe and into our laminate floor. It looked like a cartoon, since I am one who often lets the colorful interjections fly over little things, this is the part of the story that no one believes... the words out of my mouth were “golly gee willikers that flippity flappin hurt!” Now you have learned two things about me

1. I drink wine from a box, hey don't knock it.

2. I am stupid enough to put my sharpest knife on a box I know I am going to move.

I was the chef/manager at a Southwest restaurant and like any self-respecting restaurant of it's kind in the mid 1990s we served Fajitas in a sizzlin' Iron skillet. When a ticket came in I would put a skillet in the stone oven above the salamander (restaurant word for broiler) then take it out at the last minute. They got pretty hot so I was usually pretty careful handling them. With one order I took the Iron skillet out and set it on the counter added the flank steak, onions, julienned peppers then the little splash of oil (that is what makes the steamy, smoky sizzle that you see then they go across the floor to the table). I slipped a little and very gently touched the edge of the handle and "SIZZLE!" Yeah, that was my thumb! Again, seeing stars, for a little burn, about the size of a dime, it was worse than any I have had before or since. After the colorful interjections were over and the ice and bandages had done most of their work I started to wonder how hot that frickin thing got so I put an oven thermometer in it. About an hour later, after the rush, I checked and it had melted into a gelatinous mass of broken glass and aluminum with spring like appendages at the bottom of my oven.

It was early morning when one of the cashiers that I worked with got her drawer out and went to open, she looked at her register then came to me and, with the most dire look said, "There is a mouse under my drawer." I looked under the register and there it was peeking out at me, I swear to you I could see it's little lip curled up with a defiant sneer. Oh yes, this little guy and I were about to throw down. I went back and got a broom that was about 3 feet long and used the handle to lift the edge of the drawer so I could smack it out with a newspaper, then I would show the little vermin what for. But the evil little thing had other ideas and went on the offensive. It shot at me like it had been fired from a cannon jumped onto my pants then ran down and away…

To say I screamed like a little girl would be an insult to all of my daughters, lets just say that once I slunk down from the counter everybody had figured out what just happened. It still amazes me that I have no trouble when small dogs, large dogs (Kris and I have a 120 pound Rottweiler) cats, bats, birds, really whatever animals are around me but a mouse can have me jumping on a table screaming like a housewife in a 1950's era cartoon.

Ok, I have to admit part of the reason that I put this post out is to use the Batman style expletives, but it is a little fun to reminisce.

Out and About Today

Hey all I am playing at "From the Monkey Bars" again today come over and meet one of my recurring characters.  I'll be back tomorrow (or maybe later tonight) with some of my foibles!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Leftovers

I am sitting at our new keyboard now... if you read my last post you will know why. This time we decided to go wireless, the thinking is when Mr. Man just has to watch "Batman with Batgirl on the computer" (let's hear it for YouTube) while he has his lemonade and nachos then I can set the keyboard on top of the printer or somewhere else that is safe.  Then we can avoid the sticky key issue.

Thanksgiving dinner in our house gave me a strange list of leftovers. The Tenderloin that I bought was bigger than I wanted but I haggled the price down by a couple of bucks a pound by getting it untrimmed.

"Ok sir, that is $17.99 per pound"

"Are you kidding me? the cut filets are that price, and they are trimmed and ready to cook!"

"I can give you a dollar off per pound"

"Seriously, you are about to offer me $4.00 off of a $60.00 cut of meat to do all of your work?"

"How about $2.00?"

Ok, I agreed to that, so maybe I am not the best negotiator out there but I saved a few dollars anyway. So I brought it home and trimmed it myself which is pretty easy, take the silverskin off then trim the butt pieces and tip.  I still had plenty of extra and cut two good sized filets off for Kris and me to have later and a couple of pieces from between the fillet and the tip called tournedos. I had to look that up in one of my old culinary textbooks by the way . The cuts were about an inch thick and maybe an inch and a half around. Right after Thanksgiving I was making dinner and watching Good Eats on Food Network. This is one of my favorite shows, Alton Brown is such a foodie nerd, really he has my dream job, talking about food all day... Anyway I think the title of the episode that was halfway over when I turned it on was "Pounded Meats" he was making a variety of Pillards one of them was with Beef Tenderloin.

 What I saw was taking the Tenderloin and pounding it into pillards then his method of cooking them, you will see that in a sec, then he suggested adding a salad to them. Good idea I thought how about I make my own dressing...

So I diced up and cooked three strips of bacon to make my dressing

Bacon Vinaigrette
3 strips of bacon cooked, rendered fat reserved
1 TBS Canola Oil
1 clove Garlic minced
1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Mustard (I used stone ground)
a little pepper
blend and set aside

Before... this one is about an inch thick

After... this is pounded to a little more than 1/4 of an inch thick
The Steaks were the fun part I took the three pieces of steak and pounded them to about 1/4 inch thick with the flat side of my mallet (the spiky side is for flank or skirt steak not tenderloin) then I heated up my favorite pan... the Iron Skillet. When it was hot I turned it over so the meat would be easier to work with and cooked them for about a minute or so on each side until medium rare then made up my plates.

Set the steaks on your plates then top with a few sautéed mushrooms, salad mix and warm Bacon Vinaigrette. Damn Hell this was good! Do I feel a little guilty? well yes well a little, and the scale and I have had a few words since to but... Wow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving at our house this year


First, Mr Man spilled a combination of Country Time Pink Lemonade and strawberry jam on our keyboard so it is basically useless.  So I followed Kim Komndo's advice and put the keyboard in the dishwasher to clean it off.... Guess what?!? it didn't work!  After giving it a full 24 hours to dry it was sort of usable except for the spacebar, the comma and every number lower than 5 (all of my passwords have a number below 5 in them).  So, I picked up the trusty laptop to work on my blog and well, I kind of feel like a hoofed mammal whenever I use this thing Jeez could the keys be smaller? I hit 2-3 keys at a time every time that I pound on this thing.  Then God forbid that I touch the rectangular sensor thingie (Technical term you know) below the keyboard then the cursor jumps to the middle of the page and I start to type over what I have already written.  So I have been slow to update...

Oh, I need to mention some back story; at work all of us have to work two holidays each year...I usually pick Thanksgiving because I get both of my holidays out of the way all at once (Thursday and Friday are both holidays to my company).  So it ends up being a long long weekend.  This year Kris was going to make Thanksgiving dinner (Ham and Scalloped Potatoes, we aren’t really turkey eaters) then my 11 year Miss El called and asked if she could spend the Holiday with us.  That is when I did the culinary version of pushing my beautiful wife out of the way so I could make dinner.  In the days before the holiday I did the shopping and spent way more than I should have.  Then I made my Vodka Cranberries, and prepared the recipe that I am going to talk about today.

The menu was:
Beef Tenderloin in a Red Wine Reduction
Vodka Cranberries
Sweet Potato Hash
Mashed Potatoes
Grilled Vegetables with Roasted Garlic Aioli
Molten Chocolate Cake

Most of this I have made before so I won’t dwell on them too much, though I do have to look at my Red Wine Reduction again… I don’t think it was this good the last time I made it

Grilled Vegetables with Roasted Garlic Aioli

Roasted Garlic Aioli
1 full bulb of Garlic Roasted
2 Egg Yolks
Juice from one lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

To Roast the Garlic cut the top off of a full bulb of garlic lightly coat with olive oil (or be lazy and use pan spray) then loosely wrap in foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.  The cool on the counter until you are ready.  When you are ready to go just squeeze the gooey garlic into a bowl, add the rest of you ingredients and wisk until smooth.

Grilled Vegetables can really be whatever you like mine were
Carrots Cut Long and thin
Yellow Squash
Portobello Mushroom Caps

I let mine soak in Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and spices for about half an hour then tossed them on the grill.  Couldn't have been easier.  This was a nice addition to the meal and was there to snack on before and after the our dinner

Hey all

Things have been really busy around our house the past week or so!  Check me out at From the Monkey Bars today!  I will be back after work with a new post about our Thanksgiving.