Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Nariah and I were experimenting with pineapples last week and since we had an extra pineapple we were thinking about ideas to use a whole pineapple in a dessert. A up sprung the idea to grill a whole pineapple! This is a dish that can be served in its own bowl, and was just totally amazing. It can be eaten with and without ice cream, but of course, going all out with ice cream makes it a sundae.

  • 1 whole pineapple, not too ripe (with some green still in it. If its too ripe it may end up too sweet and mushy)
  • cinnamon/sugar
  • shredded coconut
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • Maraschino cherries

This is very simple and quick. Prep grill for direct grilling. Slice the pineapple from top to bottom down the middle (even thru the leaves). Next, take your knife and cut across the width of the pineapple almost to the skin as if you were cutting out slices. Then do the same lengthwise. This helps make the pineapple easier to spoon out and eat in the end. Place the pineapple halves open side down on the grill for about 5 mins or until it gets seared a bit. Remove from heat and place right side up. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over all of the fruit part of the pineapple. (For an adult dessert I suggest pouring some Malibu or your other favorite rum inside the pineapple.) Next sprinkle the coconut inside the “bowl” and also along the sides. Return to grill, this time right side up and cover. Grill until Coconut starts to get toasted slightly, about another 5-10 minutes depending on how much coconut you used.

Remove from grill and onto your serving plates, top with vanilla bean ice cream and cherries or other toppings you may prefer and enjoy this warm and cold dessert!


A couple of years ago, we went to my parents for Thanksgiving. They didn’t have their deep fryer anymore and I was broken-hearted. I refused to go back to regular baked turkey, so I embarked on a grilling method since they still had their grill. My mom didn’t want me experimenting with her baked turkey so she bought me a turkey breast to experiment on. Since they have a normal grill and not a smoker, I used a technique to create a makeshift smoker. I will say this… the bacon weave turkey was the first to be devoured. ūüėģ

  • One turkey breast, cleaned and skinned.
  • Turkey injector marinade (I used Creole Butter)
  • Your favorite rub (I used garlic powder, Jane’s Krazy Salt, and a little bit of oregano)
  • A pack of pork bacon (Turkey bacon simply does NOT have enough fat, it will crisp up and break apart while on the grill)
  • Apple juice (In a spray bottle. Any spray bottle from the walmart travel hair section will do)
  • Olive Oil
  • Wood chips soaked in water overnight

If you have the time to let the turkey sit overnight, definitely do the turkey prep part first and let it sit in the fridge. Following instructions on the injector marinade you are using, inject the breast meat and apply the marinade while withdrawing the needle. The guidelines on the bottle usually say half a bottle per turkey, but I use the whole bottle for this breast. Lightly coat turkey breast in olive oil and apply rub liberally to the meat.

On a large cutting board, prepare to start bacon weaving. line up 7-8 strips (however many strips it takes to equal the length of one strip of bacon laid across¬†lengthwise)¬†of bacon vertically side by side and starting at bottom (or top), lay one strip of bacon horizontally, going over and under. It may help after this first row to put toothpicks on the end to keep the ends in place. Fold each vertical strip that is on the “under” side of the horizontal strip down over that horizontal strip so that only the “over” strips are still lined up. Lay another horizontal strip of bacon above previous horizontal strip and over the vertical strips. Now fold back “up” the vertical strips ¬†you folded down before and then fold down the strips that were previously “up”. Repeat this step until to you get to the end and you should have a nice bacon weave. There are other ways to weave but this worked out easy and efficiently for me. It will definitely help to have extra hands to help you transfer this to the turkey or you can lay the turkey breast-side down on the weave and then pin the edges of the bacon to the turkey with toothpicks. (Let sit overnight in fridge if you have the time available)

Prepare the grill for indirect grilling with a drip pan in the middle. With aluminum foil, put a handful of the soaked woodchips into the middle and loosely roll this up into a tube, leaving the ends open (so that the smoke can escape). Be prepared to either have multiple tubes ready or to refill the ones your using throughout the cooking process. Place one tube on each side of the grill, directly on top of the coals. Place the turkey into the center of the grate and close lid. Spray with apple juice every 10-15 minutes, but very quickly as to not let the heat/smoke escape. (The apple juice add flavor and helps keep the bacon from cooking too crispy or burning. When the bacon looks nice and done, after about 25-30 minutes, remove turkey and wrap with foil and then return to grill and cook for another 20-25 minutes. The time depends on the size of your bird and this was just a breast. For a whole turkey, say 15 pounder, you’re looking at about 3 hours total cook time. And always check the meat to make sure its done deep down inside.

Remove turkey to a dish and unwrap from foil into dish. You will want a dish with high edges because as soon as you cut into the turkey, juices will be flowing. Make sure you get your plate first before serving everyone else, they may not leave any for you.  Enjoy!  (This also works with cornish hens).
The slideshow below shows the detailed steps. I apologize for not having a picture in process of the weaving, I did this 3am while everyone was sleep.

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I went to a pasta themed game night the other night and I brought lasagna as my dish. It turned out to be a success with a few folks asking for the recipe, so here it is. I don’t like ricotta cheese, blech, so this is a straight mozzarella version. I apologize for not having any pics, I may have to update the blog in the future when I make it again.

1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
large bag of mozzarella cheese
45 oz jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Ragu’s chunky garden)
bag of raw spinach, or baby spinach
one or two links of Eckrich skinless turkey sausage sliced into quarters(depends on how meaty you want it)
small can of mushrooms
lasagna noodles
oregano
sugar
salt and pepper
garlic powder

Pre-heat oven to 350. Brown turkey sausage in a skillet and brown ground beef (turkey) in a separate pot. Drain beef/turkey and return to pot. Add turkey sausage and season with garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. Add spaghetti sauce and stir. Reduce heat once sauce gets hot so it doesn’t splatter. ¬†Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar as well as the mushrooms and stir.

In a large pot, boil lasagna noodles as instructed on box. (Break noodles to a size to fit your casserole dish if you have a square one)¬†When noodles are ready, spray large casserole dish with olive oil spray or any other type of cooking spray. Spread a “light” layer of sauce. Line noodles on top of the sauce. Spread another layer of sauce, add layer of spinach leaves, and lastly a generous layer of cheese. Repeat with each layer depending on how deep your dish is, three is usually the max.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, watching at 20 minutes until the cheese is nice and melted on top. Enjoy!


It’s Labor Day weekend. Looking for something to grill, I solicited suggestions on Facebook. One of the suggestions, leg of lamb, peaked my interest as I’ve never really ventured into that area of food much. I’ve done lamb chops once, but that’s it. For our 10th anniversary, we sampled some leg of lamb at this Brazilian steakhouse Chima, and goodness, it was the bomb, amazing, incredible, off the chain!

I decided to try to recreate that sensation as my wife and I traveled through our memory banks to remember what the waiter told us was in their marinade and then also adding our own flair. And by adding our own flair, I do mean these measurements are ad-lib as I was playing it by ear eye.

The broccolini came about as I was in the store and saw it next to the asparagus. I love broccoli, but despise asparagus. Easy decision, get the asparagus for the Mrs, and get the broccolini for me, assuming that it tastes similar to broccoli (it does, kinda tastes better in my opinion).

Leg of Lamb
Leg of lamb butterflied (I had the butcher do it for me, and since it was just for our household, I cut that butterflied portion up into 4 slabs, freezing the other 3.
2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
3-4 tablespoons minced ginger
1/3 package of fajita seasoning mix
2-3 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed with pulp
hand full of fresh cilantro, chopped
5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 spring onion, chopped
Pink Himalayan salt

Broccolini & Asparagus
Stalks of broccolini
Stalks of asparagus
olive oil
Jane’s Krazy Mixed up Salt

In a bowl, mix up all ingredients for the lamb except for the pink salt. Pour onto both sides of the lamb, mashing it into the meat prior to turning. Refrigerate for at least an hour minimum.

In zip-lock bag, place broccolini and asparagus along with enough olive oil to coat all of the stalks. Refrigerate. (Note, these veggies will only take about 5 mins

Prep grill for direct grilling for the lamb and leave a section charcoal free for indirect grilling of the broccolini and asparagus. Place Lamb on grill and add some of the pink sea salt prior to covering. I want to say I cooked this for about 15 minutes or so for my medium doneness, turning about every 5 minutes and adding pink salt after the turn. Toya likes her meat well done so I cut off half and cooked it for about 7 more minutes.

On the last 5 minutes of grilling, add your veggies to the “indirect” side of the grill, lightly sprinkle with Jane’s Krazy salt, and cover. Veggies are done as soon as they start turning brown. You don’t want to cook these too long as they will burn and turn flimsy.

Let the lamb sit at least 5 minutes before cutting. Hmmm, maybe we should cook the veggies here at this point next time as they tasted a whole lot better fresh off the grill than when they started to cool off. Enjoy!

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A common question I get is “Where in the world do you come up with this stuff?”. There really isn’t a method to this madness. It just happens. Sometimes tasty dishes kinda come out of nowhere. I like to do things spur of the moment perform better when I’m rushed. This particular evening I lost track of time before the family got home from school/work and I knew if something wasn’t cooked by the time the Mrs. got home, there was a pretty good chance I’d be in trouble. I remembered we had some Colossal shrimp in the freezer. Hmmm… As I walked up the stairs I noticed a bottle of Southern Comfort sitting on the bar in the basement. “Hey SoCo! Do you want some shrimp today too? Come on! we’re in a hurry!”
Upstairs in the fridge, SoCo and I find some bacon. “Well that makes everything better doesn’t it?”. SoCo didn’t say anything back, I took it to mean he was too overly excited with the thought of bacon on some shrimp. Now we need something to “hold” the seasoning. Since honey is our normal staple, decided to go with the dark agave nectar and switch it up this time. If you’ve read some of the past shrimp/lobster posts, they normally use a heated sauce I brush on while grilling. This time we’re letting it soak, no brush. (All SoCo’s suggestion)

Colossal Shrimp peeled and deveined
Agave nectar (or honey (or maple syrup if you’re short on the first 2 options))
Garlic Powder
Old Bay seasoning (or if you’re in the deep south area try Swamp Fire)
Southern Comfort
Bacon (a half strip for each shrimp)
Toothpicks
DisAronno Amaretto in a spray water bottle (this is extra credit, I pulled this out at the last minute as I walked outside)

Get your grill started and ready for direct grilling.
Place your shrimp in a bowl and (I’m sorry I really didn’t measure this at all, I was in a rush remember?) pour on some Southern Comfort and Agave nectar. Enough to let the shrimp sit in it but not be covered. See the pics in the slideshow below for an idea. Definitely use more Southern Comfort than the Agave nectar, as too much “sugar” will burn when cooking. Toss the shrimp, mix it up, get the juices all in the shrimp. Generously add garlic powder and Old Bay and toss again. I say generously add because a lot of the seasoning will come off into the liquid. Wrap each shrimp with bacon, hold in place with a toothpick on each end, and return to the Southern Comfort Agave nectar bowl.

Brush the hot grates with a napkin dipped in olive oil, (or if you have time and feeling funky fresh, cut an onion in half, and dip that in olive oil and brush the grates with it). Place the shrimp on the grill and cover. Let grill for about 4-5 minutes. Turn the shrimp (if you are using the amaretto, spray each shrimp before turning. note that amaretto is flammable and will cause a flare up but it should be real short lived). Cover and let cook another 5 or so minutes. Spray with amaretto again and turn if needed until bacon looks done to your liking.

ENJOY!

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On our last trip down to Florida visiting the in-laws, I was met with an interesting challenge. My Father-in-law caught this big ol red snapper the week prior and saved it for me so that he could see what his Son-in-law could do with it.

Never cooked a whole fish before. But I figured it would be as good a time as any to grill it. However due to the monsoons that drenched the panhandle that weekend, I had to resort to baking. Here’s what I came up with.

1 Red snapper, gutted but whole
1 Lemon, sliced and then halved
1 Pound of crab meat
1 Pound of jumbo shrimp peeled
4 chives (spring onions) chopped
Half sweet vidalia onion, chopped
Old bay seasoning
Garlic
Pepper
Sugar
Nutmeg
Tiger Sauce (awesome sauce, click the link to see more info)
Lemon juice
Olive Oil
Your favorite mixed seasoning salt. I don’t remember exactly what they had but it was some kinda of garlic pepper season salt

First saute the shrimp in the tiger sauce and sweet vidalia onions. Pay close attention to not cook the shrimp all the way. You only want to cook it half way. Stir constantly to keep from over cooking. After slightly pink, remove from pan and place in bowl.

Mix crab, old bay, garlic, chives, lemon juice, nutmeg (not too much), and sugar (I didn’t measure, but a few tablespoons, trust me, it sounds weird with crab, but nobody’s complained yet) in a large bowl. Start off light with seasoning and then add to taste. After well mixed, add shrimp and toss. This allows the shrimp to keep its “tigery” flavor while mixed with the crab.

Now for the fish. Cut 5 slices about an inch deep along the both sides of the fish. See pic in slideshow for location. Coat fish with olive oil. Using the mixed seasoning salt and garlic, rub the seasoning all into the slits and in the cavity of the fish. If you’re grilling, this will give you a nice tasty crust, man I can’t wait to try this on the grill. Rub a decent amount into the slits as it will permeate thru the fish while cooking. Next add the lemon slices to the slits and repeat on the other side. Add the crab/shrimp combo into the cavity, and loosely wrap with foil. If you’re grilling, use banana leaves or a cedar plank if you can find one big enough. Bake at 375 for about 20 mins. Check for doneness. I didn’t really know how long to cook it, I think we ended up broiling it at first for 10 mins and then baking it for 15 minutes. You can tell its done when you see the underside of the fish’s belly look nice and white, its the exposed meat from the side closest to the pan.

You should be able to cut it lengthwise around the spine and just pull the meat off in planks. and then when the top half of the meat is eaten, just grab the spin and pull upwards, the rest of the bones should come out letting you have free range with the meat underneath.  Enjoy!

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Those of you that have infants, or had them at one time, I’m sure you’ve at some point tasted the baby food before feeding them to your kids. Well as a foodie, some of these flavors stood out as really tasty and my “Food Creation Gears” in my mind started churning. My wife is already plotting on a salsa using some baby food mango. The dish I prepared tonight used Gerber’s Pineapple Pear. I must say… the end result was amazing! ¬†I’m not really much of a measurer the first time I try something, but I’ll do my best to come up with some amounts.

Southern Comfort Pineapple Pear Shrimp

Extra large shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used about 25 for this serving.)
Old Bay seasoning (about 1/4-1/2 cup, depending on your spice level)
Garlic powder (about 1/4-1/2 cup, depending on your garlic level, lol)
Brown sugar (about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup)
Southern Comfort (I used a lot, probably close to the 2 cup range)
Gerber pineapple pear baby food (2 jar (really they were like plastic rectangle containers))
Crushed pineapple (I used 2 of those self serve plastic cups of tidbits, and then used a chopper to blend them up)
Pineapple juice (about 3/4 cup)
Nutmeg (about 3 shakes)

Prepare your grill for direct grilling to be used over medium coals. Heat all ingredients except for shrimp in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring often. While the sauce is thickening and filling your nose with wonderful aromas, thread the shrimp on the kabobs. I personally endorse Fire Wire, grill safe kabob wire that you can bend and curve around your grill and in between other foods. Click on the link for more info. Brush the grates on the grill with olive oil. Place shrimp on the grill, dab on your sauce, and cover. After a minute, turn shrimp, dab more sauce, and cover. Repeat until the shrimp turns opaque and you get a nice auburn looking glaze.
This glaze works great on chicken as well. The chicken in the pictures below was tested upon and my daughter got indigestion from eating a sandwich made from it way too fast. I think she liked it, LOL.

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Kitchen Wars : Strawberry Banana Pancakes

Last night I didn’t know what to do for dinner and we didn’t take out any meat before work to have thawed out. ¬†Light bulb! Never can go wrong with breakfast food right? ¬†“Nariah… what do you think about breakfast food for dinner?
OK daddy! Can I help you make it?
Now why would you ask a silly question like that? Why would I say no? You are my lil chef!

OK, lets see, do you want pancakes or French Toast? I heard about this Cap’n Crunch French Toast, it sounds like it could be good.
Ummm, lets do the French Toast next time daddy, I want pancakes
OK, pancakes. Hashbrowns? Eggs?
Yeah!
Bacon?
YEAH!
Whooops, we’re out of bacon… Sausage instead?
*sigh*Oooooooooooooooookaaaaaaaaaaay

OK, are we going normal or experimental? Do you feel like something new?
Ummmmm, how about strawberry banana pancakes?
Lets do it!

Nariah literally picks out everything from the fridge to make the pancakes. This child picked out an egg, the oil, the tablespoon, the measuring cup and the milk and would not let me help. “Its OK daddy, I know how much goes in it.
Here I am reading the steps on the box of pancake mix and she’s a step ahead of me, already mixing in the right ingredients. Next we chopped up 6 strawberries and half a banana and blended that. ¬†Added some banana flavoring for good measure and she’s mixing it up. Nariah also cast me aside while she used the grater to shred the potatoes and then counted out the sausage links.

Fast forward to eating at the table. Mommy is home now and is oohing and aahing over how good everything is and how she didn’t expect to like the pancakes because she doesn’t really care for banana flavored foods that much. “These are really fluffy and moist!
Thanks mommy, we are the bomb cooks
No I’m the bomb cook daddy
Huh? I thought we were a team? We didn’t do this together?
*sigh*We did do some of it together, but all you did was the stuff on the stove, I did all the real cooking!

I guess she told you!

I’ve created a monster! LOL


Nariah loves The Food Network, and she is always trying to mimic Chopped and Cupcake Wars with Toya. After getting back from traveling for work I promised her I’d make some cupcakes with her before my next trip, but we had to do whatever flavor she came up with.

I want to make red velvet cupcakes daddy
Well you know… they have chocolate in them right?
Yes, I know daddy, but we can make them without chocolate right? I want make it crunchy and then chewy on the inside and then……………. with some mint!
Crunchy, chewy, minty? ¬†That’s…. interesting…..
We can put caramel or something in the middle for a surprise!
What about these Wether’s Original Chewy candies?
Oooh, yeah daddy! And we can put some mint in the icing!

Now, I had really planned to make the velvets from scratch, and substitute something funky for the cocoa. While in Trader Joe’s, I saw Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla cake mix. “Oh my!” I said to self. Yep, I found our “base” for the red velvet cupcakes.

In case you can’t make out the ingredients in Nariah’s video below, (she wanted to tape it like we were on cupcake wars with baby brother and mommy being the judges) they are :

1 stick of butter/margarine melted
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
some vanilla
1 package of Trader Joe’s Madagascar Vanilla cake mix
1 teaspn (or more to your liking) red food coloring drops
Werther’s Original Chewy or other caramel cut into 1cm sized cubes.
(After this initial trial, I would suggest for the future to put the caramels inside it midway through cooking)

And yes… these cupcakes were off the hook!


Always trying  to outdo previous years, I decided to experiment this Valentines day with a new lobster dish. I will try my best to go with the measurements since this was a game time decision attempt at grilling excellence.

4 Lobster Tails (Shelled with meat carefully removed and cleaned)
4 Strips of your favorite bacon
Garlic Powder
Old Bay seasoning
Agave Nectar

Basting Sauce:
1 cup Southern Comfort
1/2 cup Butterscotch Schnapps
50mL of maple syrup (Grade B preferably) (one of those little small sampler jars is what I used)
A few shakes of garlic powder
Even more shakes of Old Bay
1/2 stick of butter or margarine
A couple of squeezes of a honey bottle

Heat the basting sauce ingredients in a sauce pan, letting it come to a calm boil. Pay attention to it, because depending on how much Old Bay you use, it can bubble up and over. Once all of the butter is melted and it has boiled for a couple of minutes, reduce heat and let simmer. Taste and add honey to your liking.

Season the lobster meat with the Old Bay and garlic powder. Then lightly drizzle the agave nectar over the meat. Carefully wrap each tail with bacon, securing the ends with toothpicks.

Prepare grill for direct grilling and brush hot grates with olive oil. Over medium to high heat add the lobster tail. Be ready to maneuver quickly, as this basting sauce is pretty flammable. After about a minute, start basting the the lobster tails. As the flames flare up, just gently move and rotate the lobsters. Close the grill and repeat this cycle every minute or two.

The goal is to cook until the bacon is done. Normally when I cook lobsters in the shell, they take only 10 minutes on the grill. I don’t know the science of it, but this method actually took about 20 minutes as I had to make sure the bacon was done. The bacon will take longer to cook with the constant turning, but it seems to protect the lobster and this was the juiciest lobster I have ever eaten in my entire life!

Enjoy!

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