Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze

The other day the fine folks over at iDevices sent us a Kitchen Thermometer. The Kitchen Thermometer is a dual probe bluetooth thermometer that connects right to your iPhone, iPad or iPad mini. With your bluetooth connected device you can wirelessly monitor your thermometer, chart the temperature and set up alerts. This is not your mom’s kitchen thermometer. Well, unless your Mom is one connected lady. To test this device, I wanted to try it out on a large piece of meat. So, I went to the local store and found that pork tenderloins were on sale. I added a little bacon to the cart and we were all set for a great meal.  The Kitchen Thermometer from iDevices was great.  Check out the bottom of the post for a full review.

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Quick Ragu Pasta

Quick Ragu Pasta

Quick Ragu Pasta

I know that when the average foodie hears the like of Rachel Ray they cringe, but I just tried a take on one of her recipes and it was pretty darn good.  As a man that likes to eat I will try just about anything once.  Granted I have tried a couple of her recipes and had less than great results. However, this one hit the nail on the head.  Her Christmas Pasta recipe is great.  I modified it a bit to help with standard shopping ingredients and sizes, but for the most part left it as-is.  The pancetta to start if off adds some great flavors.  Plus this recipe makes a ton of sauce and then allows you to cook only the pasta necessary for each meal.  Only two of you, make 1/2 lb of pasta and you are good to go.  Want some leftovers for lunch, boil some fresh pasta and toss it with some leftover sauce.  There is nothing like fresh pasta to make leftovers not taste like leftovers. I also changed the name as it is more of a Ragu than anything.

Quick Ragu Pasta

Heat a dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.

Brown the garlic and pancetta

Add oil, bay, and pancetta bits and brown for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Make sure to stir frequently so the garlic does not burn.

Add the meat

Add meats and brown.  Using a wooden spoon crumble and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the veg

Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes.

Veggie time spectacular

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.

Sauce it up

Add stock and tomatoes to the pot.

Spice it up

Stir in parsley, allspice and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

The perfect sauce

Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes minimum before serving.

The Pasta

Cook as much of the pasta as needed. Toss the pasta with a couple of ladles of sauce.

Toss it up

Finish the pasta off with some freshly grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley.

The perfect meal

 

Quick Ragu Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Ragu
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
A quick Ragu Pasta based on Rachel Ray's Christmas Pasta. Boil as much pasta as needed and toss in the sauce. Save the sauce in the fridge and heat as needed. This is the perfect pasta for a whole week full of meals.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • ¼ pound pancetta, thick cut, chopped into small bits (Italian cured pork, ask at deli counter)
  • 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 1 pound meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork and veal)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Cabernet Savignon
  • 14oz can beef broth
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans chunky style crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs flat leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • Coarse salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 boxes penne
  • Grated Pecorino Romano
Instructions
  1. Heat a dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add oil, bay, and pancetta bits and brown for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Make sure to stir frequently so the garlic does not burn..
  2. Add meats and brown. Using a wooden spoon crumble and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add stock and tomatoes to the pot.
  6. Stir in parsley, allspice and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes minimum before serving.
  8. Cook as much of the pasta as needed. Toss the pasta with a couple of ladles of sauce.
  9. Finish the pasta off with some freshly grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray's Christmas Pasta - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/christmas-pasta-recipe/index.html

Nobody was more surprised than me by how easy and delicious this recipe actually was.

Quick Ragu

You have to try this out!

How to Individually Freeze Bulk Meat

How to Individually Freeze Bulk Meat

How to Freeze Bulk Meat

I don’t know about you but I think the price of meat is ridiculous!  So when I see boneless skinless chicken breasts for $2 a pound, I buy a ton.  But what if you don’t need it right away?  Well you need to freeze it.  I know what you are thinking but there is a simple way to freeze meat without getting the dreaded “FREEZER BURN”.  All it takes is a knife, some plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  That way you can take advantage of your Costco or Sam’s Club membership to its full advantage.

Remove the meat from the package

The first step is to remove the meat from the bulk package.  In this case I am using chicken, but you can do this to pork chops, steaks, brats etc…  Once the meat is removed, trim off the excess fat.  Trust me, it is easier to trim the fat now than when you thaw it.

Trim the meat to remove the fat

Next place the meat (chicken) on a 18 inch long piece of plastic wrap.  You can use shorter, but I find that the extra layers that come from the extra length help keep the air out when you wrap the meat up.

Place the chicken on plastic wrap

Wrap the meat (chicken) one time in the plastic wrap.

Roll once

Then fold up the sides and flatten them like you are making a burrito.

Fold up the sides like you would when making a burrito

Then roll the meat (chicken) up the rest of the way.  Make sure to keep the plastic wrap tight to keep the air out.

Roll the rest of the way

Then place the wrapped chicken on a piece of aluminum foil roughly 18 inches long.  Once again you can go shorter, but I believe the excess length helps to prevent freezer burn.

Place on the foil

Like the plastic wrap, wrap the meat (chicken) one time in the foil. Then fold up the sides and flatten them like you are making a burrito.

Fold and roll the meat

Then roll the meat (chicken) up the rest of the way.  Make sure to keep the aluminum tight to keep the air out.

Label

The final step is the most important.  You need to label each one with a name and date so you know what it is and how long it has been in your freezer.  You should try to eat everything within 6 months.  This is a step you don’t want to forget especially if you freeze multiple types of meat.

Take advantage of bulk purchasing

When you are ready to eat, thaw in the fridge overnight.

 

 

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Ever since passing an Ikea on my way to DC the other day I have been craving Swedish Meatballs.   Hard to believe but Ikea has great affordable food.  My favorite is the Swedish Meatballs.  Those tasty little meatballs in the delicious beef gravy.  After having the craving for a few days I decided to act on it.  I stumbled on a recipe from Alton Brown that looked promising.  It was delicious.

Swedish Meatballs (Adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 2 slices fresh bread
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp plus 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 lb ground pork
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 tbs beef base
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer along with the 1/4 cup of milk.

Tear up the bread

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tbs of butter.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook the onions till they are soft and translucent.  Remove and set aside.

Saute the onions

Add the ground beef, ground pork, egg yolks, 1 tsp kosher salt, black pepper, garlic, allspice, nutmeg and onions to the bread and milk mixture.  Beat using a stand mixer or by hand for 1-2 minutes.

Season and add the yolks

Divide the meat into about 30 portions and roll out some meatballs.

Roll out the balls

I find that using rubber gloves helps out as there is less cleanup.

Meatballs

Heat the remaining butter in a large saute pan over medium/low heat.  Cook the meatballs a few at a time until golden brown.  Roughly 8-10 minutes.

Saute the meatballs over medium-low heat

Remove the meatballs to a oven safe pan and place in the warm oven.

So many meatballs

Once the meatballs are all cooked, reduce the heat to low and add the 1/4 cup of flour.  Whisk and continue to cook for a couple minutes, or until the mixture turns to a light brown.

Whisk the flour

Slowly add the beef stock.  Whisk to incorporate until the sauce thickens.  Add the cream and beef base and cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency.

Add the stock, beef base and cream

Remove the meatballs from the oven and place into the gravy pan.

Swedish Meatballs

You can serve them right away, or cover them and let them simmer on low until you are ready to eat.

Swedish Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes

Swedish meatballs are perfect with mashed potatoes.

Swedish Meatballs, closeup

I covered and simmered the pot until I was ready to serve.  I let them simmer for 3 hours on low.  Instead of simmering them on the top of the stove, you could throw them in a crockpot and let it sit on low until you are ready.  I would do it all day.  The longer the meatballs sit, the more gravy gets absorbed into them.

Side Note – Beef base is sold in jars near the stocks and bouillon cubes.  It adds an increase in flavor like no other.

Easter Leftovers – Hawaiian Pizza

Easter Leftovers – Hawaiian Pizza

Even though it was just Dana and I for Easter, I made a giant honey glazed ham. I could not help myself. Plus I love leftovers. But then you have to figure out what leftovers to make. There are a million tasty little creations that you can make with leftover ham. I decided to make one of Dana’s favorites, Hawaiian Pizza.

Hawaiian Pizza

  • 1 pizza dough – (recipe for Basic Pizza Dough)
  • 1 cup Pizza Sauce – Store Bought or Recipe below
  • 1 cup ham, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 2 cups mozzarella

Pizza Sauce

  • 1 Can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 15 basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake – (optional)

Garlic oil

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • dash of cracked pepper and kosher salt

Pizza Dough

The first step is to make the pizza dough and let it rise till it doubles.  Here is a simple and easy pizza dough. If you are running short on time, almost all grocery stores have pre-made pizza dough in the deli section.  Or, you can always stop by a local pizzaria and purchase the pre-made dough.

My pizza dough recipe makes two portions.  So try some breadsticks too.
My pizza dough recipe makes two portions. So try some breadsticks too.

Pizza Sauce

If you are going to use a store bought pizza sauce you can skip the next couple steps.  Otherwise, pour the can of whole tomatoes into a bowl and crush with your hand, a potato masher or a pastry cutter.  Once you have all of the big chunks broken up you are good.

Whole tomatoes Crushed tomatoes

Now take the 15 leaves of basil and roll them together like a cigar.  Then thinly slice them into ribbons.  The technical term is chiffonade.  Sounds fancy doesn’t it.  It means breath of butterflies, joking it really only means thin long strips.  Sorry to dissappoint.

Stack roll Chiffonade

Add the chiffonade basil to the bowl with the three cloves of garlic finely minced.  Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flake.  This is a good time to taste the sauce.  If it needs more salt or pepper feel free to add it.

This sauce is tangy and works great with the shrimp
This sauce is tangy and works great with any pizza

Assembly

First form the pizza dough into a round pizza.

Start with the center and slowly move outward till you have the perfect size pizza.
Start with the center and slowly move outward till you have the perfect size pizza.

Using a brush spread the garlic oil around the edge of the pizza.

Oil the edges

Now evenly spread the sauce over the pizza. Then top with the 2 cups of cheese. Make sure not to use too much cheese. You want bits of red from the sauce to peep through the cheese. Then finally top with the ham and pineapple.

Place the pizza in a preheated 475 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.  Cook until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Perfect Easter Leftover, Hawaiian Pizza

This pizza is awesome.

Awesome Crust

The garlic oil makes the crust more like garlic bread.  Awesome!

Safeway National BBQ Battle

Safeway National BBQ Battle

This weekend is the Safeway National BBQ Battle right in the heart of America’s Capital. I am featuring this event today as I am competing in it with the Pork Barrel BBQ team. This event is awesome!!  Not only because it is in my neck of the woods, but because it features both KCBS and Memphis in May Competitions.

On Saturday we will be competing in the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) contest.  This contest consists of Beef Brisket, Chicken, Pork Ribs and Pork Butt. Saturday also includes a Rancher’s Reserve Beef Competition.  This runs simultaneously with the other competition, the only difference is that you use the Rancher’s Reserve Brisket that is supplied by the competition.  The winner of this receives guaranteed entry into the American Royal BBQ Contest in Kansas City, Missouri.

On Sunday is the Memphis in May (MIM) Contest.  This will determine the “National Pork Champion”.  There are three categories, Pork Shoulder, Ribs and Whole Hog. The difference in this competition is that you can only cook one of the categories.  There will be a Champion in each category and then the three champions scores are compared to determine the Grand Champion.  The winner of this contest receives guaranteed entry into the Memphis in Macy Contest next year.

Along with that is the Nations Best Sauce category.  All of the teams can compete in this competition.  Last year, Pork Barrel BBQ received Second Place overall with their original sauce.

This is going to be a great event.  Make sure to stop on by the Pork Barrel BBQ site and say hello.

It will be a ton of fun.

Have a great weekend!

-Rex

City Chicken

When I was growing up my Grandma Donna used to make us City Chicken.  It was always the best meal of the year.  This year we decided to make City Chicken for our Christmas meal.  What is City Chicken you ask?  Well it is a combination of meat on a stick that appears to look like a chicken leg.  The funniest thing, is that there is no chicken in it.  Yep, City Chicken is pork and beef.

City Chicken
City Chicken

Serve it with mashed potatoes and all of your favorite sides.

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Parmesan Crusted Pork Skewers

Parmesan Crusted Pork Skewers

A month or so ago my friends got together at Fogo De Chao for a bachelor party. If you have ever been to Fogo De Chao you know that it is meat heaven. 20+ different types of meat delivered to your table on a sword. How cool is that. One of the meats that came around was Parmesan Pork. We all really enjoyed it, so I decided to figure out how to make it at home. After searching the internet for tips, I came across an article that had the actual recipe from one of the Chef’s at Fogo De Chao Miami. Granted the recipe had a few strange ingredients, I went for it anyway. Wow, it was dead on. Some of the tastiest pork I have had.

Parmesan Crusted Pork
Parmesan Crusted Pork

After cooking the pork, coat it in Parmesan cheese and grill again to slightly melt the cheese.

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Pesto Pork Chops with Grilled Summer Vegetables

Over the weekend a few friends came over for a barbecue.  Barbecueing is nice as you get to sit around, bs, drink, and have a good time.  Macheesmo brought over some fresh pork chops from the farmer’s market near his house.  So we decided to make a pesto pork chop.  On the side I wanted to grill some veggies.  So I went to the market and found yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and some red onion.  It was an awesome combination.

Grilled Pesto Pork Chops
Grilled Pesto Pork Chops

Jeff brought Margaritas so I forgot to take a lot of pictures.  Sorry.

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Pork Stir-fry

Last week I visited the Upper King Street Farmers Market again.  This time I picked up some Free-Range Pork from Cibola Farms.  I love pork so I scoured the market for something else that I could eat with it.  Then I found some fresh Broccoli and a brown onion.  The perfect base for a Pork Stir-Fry.

I love stir-fry
I love stir-fry

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