Cheater Fried Rice

Cheater fried rice is my take on Chinese fried rice. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes online for fried rice. I have read many tips and tricks for the “perfect” fried rice. If memory serves me correctly and it might not, I am getting a touch older every day, they all start with cold leftover rice.

I can never seem to remember to make rice the day before. I have used boil-in-the-bag rice before on days when I could remember to at least cook it early enough in a day to refrigerate it for 6 hours or so first. That tactics seemed to work OK, but that too required more pre-planning than I care for some days.

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German Almond Cookies

German-Cookies-Body2Over the years I have searched for a cookie from my childhood. It would help if I could remember the name of the cookie, but alas, all I can remember is the name of the bakery they came from, Myers Bakery.

My dad used to take me there and his dad used to take him there, that’s how long the bakery was around. It opened in 1905. It lasted at least 90 years…… but you know the story of my life, the bakery closed.

German-Cookies-BodyThe cookies were soft, long, brown and had slivered almonds in them, but no almond flavoring, which I think tastes likes cherries anyway. Not chocolate brown, and they were not molasses cookie brown. Nor were they spiced like a gingerbread or windmill cookie. They were almost like a peanut butter cookie, but without peanut butter. They are not honey cookies, been there, done that, even bought the t-shirt.

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Simple Versatile BBQ Rub

Every “pit master” has their own BBQ rub. Some will fight to the death with their award winning recipes. I’m not that anal retentive with my love of smoked meats. I don’t don’t compete with my BBQ, so in this post I share my very versatile BBQ rub.

versatile-bbq-rub-pork-shoulderThis rub goes with just about every kind of meat you can toss on your grill or smoker: pork shoulder, ribs, chicken and even brisket. I know, I hear some of you yelling over the computer screen about putting a rub like this on a brisket. I know brisket is typically rubbed with only salt and pepper, especially in Texas, but I can promise you this BBQ rub is fricken awesome on the fatty bits of a brisket. Plus, I like to do things my own way.

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Bratwurst and German Potato Salad

homemade-bratwurstBratwurst and German potato salad is one of my favorite meals to enjoy on the back porch during the spring and fall months. I’ll admit it now, the bratwurst in the photo above is homemade and it was made by me, but the recipe isn’t mine. It came straight out of the one cookbook every sausage connoisseur should own: Charcuterie – The Craft of Salting, Curing, and Smoking. I’m not going to post the recipe for the Bratwurst because I think folks should really buy this book. Form a historical standpoint, this book made me truly understand and the appreciate the art of curing meats and knowing exactly where my meat comes from. Buy… the… book… I’m being serious. Even if you don’t plan on making sausage, it’s a good read.

However, I can recommend a method for cooking your bratwurst. Most people just toss it on a grill or pan and go to town on searing it. I find that cooking this way often burns or over cooks the skins before the interior is done. One of the best methods to cook brats or any sausage is to simmer them in a pan, with the lid on, in a shallow liquid, until they are cooked through. Then finish them on the grill or in a pan. My favorite liquid to simmer my bratwurst in is beer. Oktoberfest to be specific. I’ll also chop up some onions and add them to my liquid. When the bratwurst are finish cooking, I’ll put them aside and I’ll finish cooking down the beer and onions until thick. The cooked onions are great with the bratwurst. I may add a little brown sugar to balance out the onions (beer can sometimes become bitter when cooked). Then I will finish the bratwurst on the grill or in a cast iron skillet.

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Chicken Marsala

Disclaimer: I do not claim that this recipe is authentic, or tastes like anything you get in a restaurant. This is simply the way I make it at my house and the way we like it at my house.

This version of Chicken Marsala is a great way to change up the monotony of chicken in my house. I cook a ton of chicken. Well, maybe not a ton since that would be 2,000 pounds. Chicken with rice, chicken on salad, chicken in soup, chicken parm, grilled chicken wings, baked chicken wings…..

On second thought, maybe I have cooked at least one ton of chicken in 30 years, that’s a little more than 1 pound a week. But I digress, I’m not the mathematician in the family (that would be Ron, math and science are his thing).

I like to cook this recipe because it is fairly simple and is something I can start and simmer until it’s time to eat. The slower the simmer, the longer it can sit. It’s easily served with angel hair mixed with a little olive oil and garlic, orzo and asparagus, or even wild rice.

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Patty Melt

Patty melts may be an ultimate comfort food.  Some nights I love just getting back to the basics in the kitchen. Simple cooking that doesn’t require too much thinking and beginner kitchen skills to make.

This patty melt, with plenty of grilled onions and melted Swiss cheese, fits that bill at my house. It’s quick enough to make that I can whip it up on a weeknight, break out some potato chips and call it a meal without feeling guilty like I do when I just serve up ham sandwiches, order pizza, or carry in soggy fried chicken.

Don’t misunderstand, I also get so busy some days that dinner isn’t even on my radar until someone says they are hungry. By then, it takes every bit of energy I have left to even break out the bread, ham, and Miracle Whip.

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I cook soups frequently. They are easy to make, easy to tweak, and hard to mess up.

Cooking Hint: I did NOT say soup is impossible to mess up.  I have proven it is, in fact, possible.  I have scorched chicken on the bottom of a pot before I even got started doing anything besides boiling a whole chicken. Words of wisdom, don’t be like me and try to salvage it. Throw it away! Or better yet, prevent a disaster before it happens and do not start anything on scorching high heat and walk away. See that tiniest bit of black stuff on the bottom of the meat? Do not even try to pick it off and rinse it off. That not-so-flavorful taste will permeate the entire dish.

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Bon-A-Part Open Face Burger

This is a unique open-face burger. Parmesan grilled bread topped with a charred hamburger patty, topped with pub cheese and grilled onions. One of my all-time favorite ways to eat a burger. This one needs a fork and knife.

Here we go again…… you see, there was this restaurant……. I’m sure you get tired of hearing that (if you aren’t tired of hearing it you probably will be because I say it A LOT). There was this one time…..

The inspiration for this burger truly comes from a restaurant that had been a staple in my hometown. The Little Corporal. But there was nothing little about it, it was a big deal. Back in the day Barry Manilow performed in the lounge when he was only 24 years old.

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Cherry Delight

Cherry Delight is a wonderful and easy no-bake dessert.  It has a graham cracker crust and a light and dreamy filling with cream cheese and pineapple.  Top it with canned pie filling.  Obviously, we use cherry if it’s Cherry Delight, but it readily accepts any kind of fruit pie filling your family likes.

Cherry Delight makes a nice presentation too!  It’s great served at BBQs, picnics, and even holidays.  It’s impressive when served in a glass 9 X 13 pan, but a disposable pan works just as well and you can throw it out when the pan is empty, or leave the leftovers without worrying if you will ever see your favorite pan again.

Cherry Delight was one of the first desserts Andy ever asked me to make for him. He described how his mom would always make this for him and once he had convinced her to make him just the crust since it was his favorite part.  In the end, he decided he doesn’t like the crust plain.

I tried to double the crust once, I may have cracked a tooth. 1 ½ times the crust is edible, not my favorite, but Andy will always remind me that the crust was his favorite part growing up. I never know whether to shake my head or remind him that I already knew that and this is why we have a bigger crust.

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Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Sometimes you just want a light and simple dinner, no matter the season. These crab stuffed mushrooms fit the bill paired with a salad.

They also make a lovely appetizer, but they aren’t so fancy and expensive to make that you couldn’t carry them to a tailgate or casual backyard BBQ. They would also be great served as an accompaniment to a nice juicy rib-eye. I have probably done all of the above with them over the years.

I use white cheddar cheese on my mushrooms, but please use whatever cheese is your favorite.  I encourage people to always change a recipe to fit their own tastes.

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