Mar 152017
 

I don’t eat peanut butter because it’s good for me. Nor do I eat peanut butter because one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at least 5 days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%. Every single 2-TBS serving has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. (1)

Nice, but I eat peanut butter because I love the taste. I love it as a salad dressing for gado-gado or as a dipping sauce for sate. I love it on bread toasted in the broiler until it just begins to char. I love it licked off a spoon. And it makes Jamaican Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew something to yearn for.

What I don’t love is the price of good peanut butter today. Peanut butter, like any other food product in the market place can be good, bad and a whole lot of places in between. It comes down to your goal, greed, profit margin, quality of raw materials, manufacturing methods, organic – yes, no, etc.

Just seek out a good tasting organic, non-hydrogenated, low salt peanut butter. I find that exactly in Santa Cruz Dark Roasted Peanut Butter. I think this is one of the best tasting peanut butters on the commercial market. I‘ve been a fan for many years and over those years, the price for peanut butter, like everything else, has gone up and up and up.

Today, Santa Cruz, Organic, Dark Roasted is just shy $6.00 a jar. Raw peanuts are wholesaling for $1.44 lb. but where would I put 30 lbs. of peanuts? My neighborhood Trader Joe’s sells raw and roasted, salted and unsalted peanuts in the 1 lb. bag for $2.29 and that’s what I generally buy unless I run across some organics somewhere.

And, since I have food processor I turn that $2.29 bag of peanuts into the best tasting peanut butter you’ve ever eaten. The processor makes quick work of it and we’re able to control the salt level, make it smooth or crunchy and, because we made it ourselves saved $3.70 a pound. Best of all, the peanut butter tastes really great, better than anything you can buy at the market.

Give it a try. Get yourselves some good peanuts and drag out the food processor.

You’ll never buy store bought again.

Enjoy

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

Prep Time: About 8 minutes

 

What you need:

A Food Processor or blender if you have something like a VitaMix

 

Ingredients:

A 1 lb. bag of Peanuts (we use roasted and lightly salted)

 

Instructions:

Empty the bag of peanuts into the food processor.

Process for about 8 minutes.

Time will probably vary with different processors.  Pour up and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

(1) / http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/healthy-eating-why-peanut-butter-good-you
Jan 252017
 

Let’s talk yogurt. Why? Because I don’t get it. I mean, I get it a little. A cold mango lassi on a hot day, sure. Artichokes with Parmesan served under a black pepper yogurt dipping sauce, of course. Adding a pint of plain yogurt (sure, try finding a “pint” of plain full fat yogurt) to my tofu curry rather than sour cream, I get that too.

But in every case I just mentioned, that’s full-fat, plain yogurt I’m talking about. Yogurt is an ingredient to me, not a featured item. I had no clue the extent to which the US yogurt market had been infiltrated by Icelandic, Australian, Greek, French and Japanese yogurt brands. I gotta get out more.

Last week I’m off to the store and Stella (so not her real name) said, “Hey, while you’re at the store, would you pick up some Blackberry Serrano yogurt for me.” “Sure”, I say, like the idiot I am. I should have written it down. What do I find when I get to the store? Yogurt-palooza!

Geez. It looks like the beer aisle.   So I admit it, I’m a guy; yogurt doesn’t really fall into my survival list of foods I can’t live without. BBQ potato chips, on the list. Beef summer sausage, absolutely. Peanut butter stuffed pretzels, of course. Blackberry Serrano yogurt? Blackberry Serrano yogurt? AYKM? Really? Really?

Really, it’s true. Look at this picture.

Yogurt! All of it! Looks like the beer aisle right? Wrong. It IS the yogurt aisle and for the record, Stella loves this stuff for breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or dessert.

Now, fast forward to me, ingredient boy, standing in the middle of the aisle, looking for something called Blackberry Serrano yogurt. I’m calling home, begging, “Stella, what is the brand name of that darn yogurt and, why didn’t you warn me?”

“Noosa, the brand is Noosa,” she tells me, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Then, nonchalantly, just happens to mention that maybe I should’ve written it down. “But baby,” I say, “I can’t help being born a man and geez, let’s be honest, do you really want me to start multi-tasking at this stage of the game? Me? Hmm? I don’t think so.”

Finally, there it is, Blackberry Serrano yogurt, well, yippee-ki-yay, you can take the girl out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. Stella and the Hot Stuff, you’d think I was talking about a band but No! My girl eats Serrano peppers in her breakfast yogurt, the kid’s tough.

I blame Australia! I know this isn’t true but if we’d never gone to Sydney, Australia and never gone into the market down the street from our hotel, I tell myself she never would’ve discovered this whole new world of yogurt.

I lie to myself. I do it all the time because it comforts me. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes, may you live in interesting times. Well thanks, I do. Truth is, these days I’m a little stressed and no joke, I’m looking for the guy that proverb belongs to. I guess I’m in need of more wisdom.

For two or three years after returning from Australia, Stella would wax nostalgic about how she’d love some more Australian yogurt. She tried lots of different brands but nothing lived up to her Australian experience. Well, it turns out she wasn’t alone.

Enter Koel Thomae, an Aussie ex-pat now living in Colorado and co-founder of the Noosa Yoghurt Company. It happened that Koel was doing her own “jonesing” for the creamy hometown taste of the passion fruit yogurt she so loved from Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

She seeks out Rob Graves, a fourth-generation dairy farmer with some serious milk credentials and together they decide to make yogurt and this was the beginning of Noosa Yoghurt, a company born out of an itch that needed a good scratch.

Now, Stella can have her thick creamy fix whenever she wants it. Her favorite flavors are Blackberry Serrano, Pineapple Jalapeno, Honey, and Orange and Ginger.

Don’t worry. If you’re not into heat, these guys have gone major creative with lots of other flavors. How about Salted Caramel or Mexican Chocolate or Coconut, maybe Key Lime or Blood Orange? Not enough? Try the Bhakti Chia or Strawberry Rhubarb or Pumpkin; better yet go with the Pear and Cardamom yogurt – one of Stella’s new favorites. Cue the “swooning girls” sound effect.

Ok, I admit that I kind of like it too. I’m sure a lot of guys like yogurt, wink, wink.

Noosa is a big hit around here and is produced in Bellvue, Colorado right down the road from the Howling Cow Café. I realize you probably don’t know where that is but I love saying Howling Cow Café and if you do go there, I suggest the bagel sandwiches.

As for yogurt and me, I’ll do my part but truth is, I’m holding out for Pina Colada. I know, it sounds a little fussy but I eat quiche too.

You can check Noosa out at www.noosayoghurt.com.

Jan 162017
 

Recently we enjoyed a fine evening with some dear friends that featured a really great family style meal. Our friend Peg prepared baked salmon, salad and a rice side dish that I could have eaten single handedly. My wife, Stella (so not her real name) managed to maintain the appearance of propriety and limited herself to a single portion of this amazing rice dish.

I did not even try to resist. I’d never eaten anything like this rice casserole before, said so, and saw Peg’s husband, Terry, look at me with pity and sad eyes. He could see that I sadly had a rice-less casserole upbringing, so he explained to me rice dishes of this type are numerous and wonderful. Wow, what culinary rock had I been living under for decades?

I did help myself to seconds, I used a smallish serving spoon in an effort to minimize Stella’s embarrassment but as it turned out Stella was wishing she had helped herself to seconds too.

On our short drive back home that evening we talked mostly of this rice casserole dish and how we would make it. Two days later we were in the kitchen re-creating “Peg’s” Rice Casserole. We made half the recipe then convinced ourselves it was okay to eat it all because we were only each eating half of the half. (I know that’s disturbing.)

As the recipe evolved, we started imagining ways to turn it into a main course and that’s just what we did. We have no idea where the original recipe comes from but here’s Peg’s perfect side-dish recipe:

Cheese Baked Rice Side Dish

3 cups cooked rice

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

A Can Opener

1-cup cheddar cheese

Mix it all together and pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  The above recipe is delicious but here’s how we modified it, made it even easier to prepare for the out-of-time-cook and turned it into a main-dish.

 

Cheesy Green Chili Rice Casserole with Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst

Serves:
Four

You Will Need:

Large Mixing Bowl

Large Spoon for Mixing

9” x 13” Casserole Dish

Cheese Grater

Knife or Cleaver

Ingredients:

2 pkgs. Pre-cooked rice (see note below)

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

1 cup cheddar cheese – or more if you want it super cheesy

2 cups diced ham, sausage, turkey, chicken, fried tofu – your choice

(For the record we used Teton Waters 100% Grass-Fed Beef, Uncured Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst and it was great!)


Instructions:

Cook the rice per the instructions on the package and pour the steamed rice into your mixing bowl.

Add the green chilies to rice and stir to combine.

Add your protein choice, in this case the jalapeno bratwurst…

…and stir to combine.

Next fold in the sour cream.

When combined add the cheddar cheese.

Turn into the greased casserole dish.

Smooth out with a spoon and and bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the rice is bubbling around the edges and lightly browned.

This is so easy and so tasty and a great dish to make after the holidays when you have leftover turkey or ham. And now Stella and I are imagining other creations using this recipe idea. Watch this blog for more to come.

Enjoy!

NOTE: You will find pre-cooked rice in packages in the rice section in the grocery store. There are so many varieties these days and all you have to do is pop the bag in the microwave for a couple of minutes. We used Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown rice with Garlic, which we buy economically at Costco. Of course it is much cheaper to cook rice but using the pre-cooked rice makes this an easy dish to prepare in a hurry.

Dec 192016
 

One of our favorite places to eat in Austin, Texas is Mandola’s Italian Market. We’ve enjoyed many delicious meals there with our good friends Susan and Joe (we miss you guys). The other day my wife was longing for her favorite Mandola’s dish “Spaghettini Ortolano” so she decided to make her own version. And it was delicious. There’s a bit of chopping but this is a simple recipe. And you can vary the veggies to your own preferences.

Serves:  Two

What you’ll need:

Spaghetti Pot

Sauté Pan

Tongs

Ingredients:

6 oz brown rice spaghetti

Olive oil

½ onion – chopped

1 large garlic clove – chopped

7 Asparagus spears – cut in pieces

3 Mushrooms cut in pieces

¼ Zucchini cut into pieces

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into pieces

¼ cup frozen peas

¼ cup chicken broth

Baby spinach – a handful or as much as you want

Salt (optional)

Pine nuts, toasted

Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

You can prepare the veggies while waiting for the pasta water to come to a boil.

After you’ve put the pasta into the boiling water, begin sautéing veggies in the order listed above,

adding each next veggie after about one minute of cooking time.

After adding the peas cover and cook about 3 minutes,

then add broth and continue to cook while you are waiting for the pasta to finish cooking. If you are using brown rice pasta, it will take about 18 minutes for the pasta to cook. If you are using regular pasta, then you might need to keep the pasta warm until the veggies are cooked. You want your veggies and the pasta to be al dente.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the veggies and then stir in the fresh spinach.

Top each serving with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Dec 012016
 

turning-filet

Deep in the heart of Texas you’ll find a cool print graphic and web design company called GRAFIX togo (http://grafixtogo.com) run by Diana Stokely who is so tech savvy I’ve driven from Colorado to Texas, twice, just to bask in the luminosity of her brain.

Diana shepherds our One Pot Cooking for Men website and does her best to keep me out of trouble. Her tech-net-guru understanding appears to come naturally; she served the University of Virginia’s High Energy Physics grad students as a technical administrator for many years. The girl has a brain.

As it turns out, the international diversity of the student body made for some fab dinner parties. This recipe is from one of those dinner parties held by Russian physics students. It should be noted this is the single strangest sounding recipe to ever grace a kitchen table. I simply couldn’t imagine it being a cold weather comfort food staple.

When Diana first told me about this dish I thought, oh the poor dear, she’s one of those high functioning types that doesn’t know the difference between dining and eating.

That was wrong. Not only has Diana forgotten more about high energy physics and website design than I will ever know, she knows good comfort food.

I know this combination of ingredients sounds strange but it only sounds strange. It tastes wonderful, is easy to prepare and is perfect for the budget minded foodie looking to try something uniquely different.

So if you’re looking for a healthy, wonderful comfort meal for dinner or one of those “never eaten that” type of recipe to spring on your friends at your next dinner party, this is one they’ll not see coming.

Serve alongside something green, with rice or pasta and hearty bread for sopping up the sauce. Wonderful!

 

Russian Fish

beauty-shotserve-shot

Serves:
Two

You Will Need:
Skillet
Dutch Oven
Knife

Ingredients:
1 fillet of white fish (about 4oz), per person, cut into fourths (we used frozen Cod)
Flour for dredging
1 T Oil for browning / more if needed (we used Olive)
Onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
Milk (we used whole)
Salt and Pepper

ingrediant-set-up

 

Cooking Instructions:

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together and dredge the cut fish pieces in the flour mixture.

breading-filet
Add the oil to the skillet and when hot, lightly brown both sides of the fish pieces until they color, about one-minute per side.

filets-in-pan-cu
Layer the browned fish in the Dutch oven alternating with onion-strings, adding salt and pepper to each layer to taste.

3rd-filet-to-dutch-oven
Pour the milk over the top of the layered fish and onions until nearly covered.

top-wonion-add-milk
Place the lid on the pot and pop into a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 20:00 to 25:00 minutes.

add-salt-2

Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Enjoy!

Jul 112016
 

A good road dog can tell you the best places to grab a meal when you’re marking a lot of time on the highways of this continent. We’re talking everything from fondue at Banff’s legendary Grizzly House in the province of Alberta, Canada to JD’s Burger Barn in Mesquite, Texas. Both delivered a satisfied smile.

Some years ago we drove to Key West to spend a few days. We’d arranged our drive to take us through New Orleans where we’d spend the night, then the next morning head over to Brennan’s for a rare breakfast of Eggs Hussarde.

We arrived in New Orleans that night late and hungry. It was close to ten o’clock in the evening, closing time was just around the corner. As it happened, so was K-Paul’s Restaurant and we decided to take a chance and see if we could manage a seat. We had our doubts but hunger herded us across the street and it was a shade before ten-o’clock when we joined the small line out front.

Moments after we took our place in line a staff member came out, ushered us all inside and placed a closed sign on the door. We’d squeaked into K-Paul’s by the skin of our teeth. It was a chance taken that really paid-off. Chef Paul Prudhomme even stuck his head out of the kitchen and greeted the crowd while smoking a cigarette.

The Classic Crawfish Étouffée served that evening was exceptional (I started to say sublime but the word just sounds so pretentious I can’t use it). So, for the record, the étouffée was good, really good.

A road weary day of driving closed out with an amazing meal at K-Paul’s. Everything seemed right with the world and hand in hand we strolled back toward the hotel to pick up our car with very happy tummies.

Sounds romantic, right? Hand in hand, strolling New Orleans at midnight after a late night dinner. Well, what you don’t know is that the valet at the Royal Hotel, where we decided to park in an effort to be safe off the street, kamikazed Stella’s (no, not her real name) new shiny red Honda into a support post in the garage, tearing off the side molding and creating a large crease in the front side panel and door.   Then in an effort to hide the damage, the valet ran around and opened the banged up door with the hope my wife would find his gallantry charming and mindlessly sit down inside the car. Stella (totally not her real name) decided to just take a look around the car to ensure all was well. As you know it was not and the events that followed, as they say, is another story.

As time passed Stella prepared, changed, modified and tested many easy étouffée recipes – an “easy-fix” version that does not require a lifetime of sacrifice creating the “perfect” roux. Then her sister shared a recipe that was too easy to pass up. Stella calls it “the canned soup étouffée recipe.” She’s made a few modifications to the original recipe to keep it lower in fat but this recipe produces an étouffée that is hearty and comforting, really quite good and best of all quick and easy to prepare.

In the accompanying video we use langostino “little lobster tails”. Fortunately our local Trader Joe’s market sells one-pound bags of langostino, which are a great substitute.

 

Langostino Étouffée

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 30:00 minutes

Serves 4-6

 

Tools you’ll need:

A Dutch Oven

A Spoon for Stirring

A Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

1 med. onion

2T flour

1T butter

1 can chopped ROTEL

1 can diced Italian tomatoes

1 can Light Cream of Celery soup

1 package (1lb.) frozen, cleaned cooked crawfish or langostino

1t cumin

1t garlic salt

Pinch of thyme

Instructions:

title card

Sauté onion in PAM or other oil spray until clear.

saute onion

Add butter and melt.

1 tbs butter

Add the flour to brown for roux.

add flour

Stir in ROTEL,tomatoes, celery soup, crawfish or langostino, cumin, salt and thyme.

seasoning

Simmer 30 minutes.

serve

Enjoy!

Oct 112015
 

This summer’s seasonal tomato flooding at our local farmers’ market is almost behind us as October stretches into mid-month and foodies everywhere scramble to find the last of this season’s farm fresh tomatoes.

Today’s recipe is, Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs and Cheese, one of our very favorite eats and the first time you prepare this mouthful of happiness, you’ve got to be patient because it takes a couple of hours in a low and slow oven for the sugars in the tomatoes to caramelize but it’s a wait well rewarded.

First, pick-up two-pounds of tomatoes, in season and fresh if you can find them, if not buy the cluster tomatoes popular in grocery stores. Slice them about a quarter of an inch think and line the tomatoes in a 9” x 13” baking pan prepared with a tablespoon of olive oil spread on the bottom of the dish.

slice

Next, chop several garlic cloves into pieces small enough to easily sprinkle over the tomatoes evenly.

garlic chop

garlic

Then add two tablespoon each of dried basil and oregano over the top of the tomatoes and drench liberally with olive oil.

herb and oil

Pop the tomatoes into a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 90:00 minutes.   When done, remove and sprinkle liberally with grated Parmesan cheese and return to the oven until the cheese melts and turns a rich golden color.

cheese top

melted 2

Remove from the oven and serve immediately with a hearty dark bread and glass of good red wine.

winepour2

Recipe Note:

Not all ovens heat the same. Some cook fast, others slow. This recipe is truly wonderful when you give it the time it needs, regardless of the posted cooking time.  Don’t be tempted to take it of the oven too soon, keep an eye on it, make sure your tomatoes have caramelized, a hearty browning of the edges is a good thing. Take it out too soon and all you have is stewed tomatoes with herbs. Not bad, but not a good as it could have been with just a little more oven time.  Patience will be rewarded.

Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs and Cheese
Prep Time: 20:00
Cooking Time: 1½ hours

What you need:
9 x 13 Baking Dish
Cutting Board
Knife for Slicing Tomatoes

Ingredients:
Olive Oil
2 lbs. tomatoes
Grated Parmesan Cheese
4 or more Large Cloves of Garlic
2 TBS. Dried Basil
2 TBS. Dried Oregano
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Instructions:

Preheat Oven to 325*

Pour olive oil into the baking dish and swirl to coat.

Slice tomatoes and place them in the dish overlapping as you go.

When the dish is full, sprinkle with herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Place into the preheated oven and cook for 1½ hours.

Remove and sprinkle top liberally with Parmesan cheese and return to oven.

When the cheese has melted to you satisfaction, remove and serve with hearty dark bread and good red wine.

Enjoy!

Sep 042015
 

Yeah, yeah, I can almost hear some of you, “Roasted Okra, a mighty fine snack, who are you kidding?” Well not you I guess. Maybe it’s a southern thing, okra, nothing worse in the world than boiled okra, nothing better than fried okra. I can to this day remember my mother frying okra in our kitchen. She’d drag out this ancient electric frying pan to handle the job. Plugging it into the wall socket would make the lights dim. Man, they just don’t make `um like that anymore.

Frozen okra that most restaurants dare serve cannot hold a candle in taste or texture to home-fried cornmeal crusted okra. Never will floured, batter-fried packaged okra compete with the simple old-time recipe of dusting the okra with a little cornmeal, salt and pepper.

I love it, I eat it like popcorn and as I’ve become more educated about my health and the evils of too much fried food, I’ve had to adjust my thinking and that’s hard. I grew up eating fried foods, hell, I was born and raised in Texas and everybody knows we’ll fry anything. Butter, beer, watermelon, salsa, pizza – yes pizza, how about a deep fired chocolate chip burrito or chicken-fired bacon. (Don’t kid yourself, chicken fried bacon is a bite of Heaven and, I suppose, that’s where you’d end up if you ate too much.) Of all the things Texans have fried, one of my favorites is the deep-fried French-fry coated hot dog! Man, that’s Texas, deep in the artery-clogged heart of. Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition.

okra

So what’s the solution? Slow roasted okra from the oven works for me. Roasting fresh cut okra is so close to the taste, to me, of frying, that I doubt I’ll ever fry okra again. Best part, it’s easy! No hot oil to deal with, no grease splatter mess, no cornmeal, nada. Just fresh okra, olive oil and a little salt, your significant other will be impressed.

First, hit your local farmer’s market or grocery and bag up some fresh okra. When you get ready to cook your okra, pre-heat your oven to 350 or 375 degrees, depending on your oven. Some ovens run hotter or colder than others so, until you figure out roasting okra in your own oven, be prepared to keep an eye on the process and, you’re going to want to be flexible with your cooking time in the beginning too. Some ovens will produce perfect roast okra in twenty-minutes, other I’ve seen have taken thirty or longer to achieve that crispy crunch of happiness.

Rinse in cold water

Next, prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. While your over is pre-heating, wash your okra under running water.

Dry them off so the skin is tasty.

Then, pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.

When you’re finished, head over to the cutting board.

You can show off your knife skills, if anybody is watching.

Top and tail your okra then dice it into bite size pieces. Keep in mind that smaller pieces will cook much quicker than fatter ones so cut longer piece from smaller okras so it all cooks evenly. On a personal note, I like my okra to char on the ends. I enjoy the charred flavor and am convinced it contributes to my love of this recipe.

A little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Perfect!

After you’ve got your okra chopped, dribble in olive oil and stir to coat, then add salt to taste.

We like the taste of large grain sea-salt and frankly, think it looks nice too. Once you’ve got your okra cut and ready for the oven, pour it onto your prepared sheet pan and pop it into the oven.

Parchment Paper is your friend.

If you’re new to this recipe and not sure you want your okra to be the oven-dried salty snack we love so much, take your okra out early if you want to maintain a chewier consistency.

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 11.17.37 AM

Be sure and watch our first video, my wife who actually prepared the okra in this video calls roasted okra the Ultimate Guy Snack Food. I agree. Not because it’s healthy, although it is. I love it because it tastes great.

For the record, okra is super good for your cardiovascular health, contains no fat, cholesterol and is low in calories and high in fiber with only one gram of sugar and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Okra is also stuffed full of antioxidants and contains vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A.

Be brave, if you’re a savory loving Joe like me, you’re going to love oven-roasting okra.

Enjoy!