Smoked New York Steak Valentines Dinner
Smoked New York Steak Valentines Dinner
Parsley and Butter Sautéed Potatoes
Parsley and Butter Sautéed Potatoes
Toni's Super Salad
Toni’s Super Salad

What’s for dinner tonight? Smoked New York Steak Roast again.   See the recipe here.  I keep coming back to this one.  It’s so easy and entertaining friendly.  While the Roast is smoking away in the Cookshack and then the oven I’m able to visit with friends without feeling stressed.  Lots of time to do everything necessary for a nice Valentine’s dinner.  There is still plenty of breathing room to figure out the sides and get them going too.

I’m fixing it up again today for friends who have escaped the minus 9 F South Dakota freeze that has moved into the north and northeast.  They are here in sunny Arizona for an extended visit.  Mrs. T is one of my best friends and the special lady who made up Grandma Olga’s Homemade Noodles with Chicken for me last year when they were visiting then.

Smoked New York Roast
Smoked New York Roast

This time we’re cooking it with 2 ounces of cherry wood instead of apple wood.  Also, I needed to watch the bold spice due to an onion allergy for Mr. B.  I’m not worried about how it will turn out though because it’s all in the smoking.  The roast was liberally coated with simple salt and pepper and is now in the smoker.  It’s a Cookshack Smoker that been getting a lot more use this winter.  Here are more Cookshack Recipes direct from the Cookshack website.

A little later:

Mrs. T is putting together a dinner salad of fresh lettuce, sliced mushrooms, slivered carrots, cucumber, sliced tomatoes, bacon bits and whatever else is in the vegetable bin.  Idaho russets are resting in water ready to boil later for twice cooked potatoes.  First the potatoes will be boiled in salted water and then pan sautéed in butter and parsley.  Yum.  We can smell the aroma of the smoked roast as it is now slow cooking in the oven at 170 degrees for 1 hour and then let to rest for 1 1/2 hours. It should all come together in another 2 1/2 hours.

It seems that I always buy too many potatoes.  I love them and think that I can go through the 5 pound bag before they start to wrinkle up and get those little root like growths.  It always starts out with a few really good twice baked potatoes, a batch of potato soup, potatoes grilled with onion on the BBQ or a pan of parsley fried potatoes.

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Good Baked Potatoes

Put several weeks later I go to get a couple of my treasured potatoes to mix up with another meal and they’ve lost their charm.

So, I thought… why not bake up half a bag of those lovely large Idaho russets.  Let them cool.  Wrap each in parchment so that I could pluck one from the freezer when the time was right.  Yesterday, I took two potatoes from the freezer, placed them still on the parchment, directly on a large cutting board.  Several hours I took a break from my office to check on my thawing potatoes.  There they were…  resting on a layer of water that was dripping down the side of that large cutting board and leaving a layer of potato water on the counter.  Had I brought out the entire batch of potatoes it could have created a mini water fall.  The potatoes… they were mushy and spongy.  I could have rung one out just like a sponge. Mushy mess to say the least.

 

 

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Banana Bread Failure

This whole ordeal reminds me of the time that I ruined a perfectly good batch of banana bread by trying too hard.  I foolishly decided that more was better.  The batter was mixed, mixed again and mixed the dough with such vigor that when  the little loaves were baked the bread never did rise or brown.  They sort of looked like these lumpy baked potatoes.

 

Not to give up on my frozen bakers, I decided to take another potato from the cooler and try another method.  That’s the potato below with the ice crystals already forming from it reaching the warm air.   The oven was preheated to a hot, very hot 425 degrees and one treasured potato was placed in a ceramic baking dish.  Just in case of the water fall theory, I used a dish with a one inch rim.  This time the result was better but not still perfect.   Or, even close to perfect.  There was a slight layer of water in the bottom of the pan but the potato did not have the same mushy appearance while cooking.  It did take me over an hour to heat/thaw the potato at this extreme temperature.  It’s a good thing I had time to waste.


When finished in the oven at this Arizona Style temperature, the potato was baked crispy on the outside and baked almost through to the center.  There was still a stringy mushy center so it should have stayed in the oven a bit longer.  I almost hate to put my name on these pictures but I would hate for anyone else to get blamed.  I still have at least a dozen more potatoes in the freezer so I’ve not given up the experiment.  Next try will be with a lower oven temperature.  Maybe.

One of my favorite things to do with Ms. T is to help her make her famous homemade noodles.  When she visited this spring we went up to the cabin and carted all the ingredients we needed to make Chicken and Homemade Noodles.  It’s  one of my most desired comfort foods and I also have it with leftover turkey during the holidays.  The recipe is from Ms. T’s family; Grandma Olga who was of German heritage. It is fun to think that this recipe has been passed on through multiple generations and I’m now sharing it with you.   I usually cheat when it comes to the noodles and buy fresh packaged linguini noodles and toss them in flour.  But, Ms. T showed me again how to make them and I have the evidence to prove it.

Ingredients:

2    Cups All-Purpose Flour
2   Teaspoons Salt
3    Egg Yolks
1    Whole Egg
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Water

Directions: Assemble all your ingredients and tools that you will need before beginning.  Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix together.  Form a pocket hole in the flour to place the next few ingredients.  You may notice that many of the kitchen items are antiques such as the large mixing bowl.  I love antiques and have quite a few in use at the cabin including the mixing bowl, green glass measure cups and large green glass measure for water.

Place the eggs in the center of the pocket.  First place in the whole egg.  Then separate 3 eggs from yolks reserving the whites.  As you separate the yolk, place it in the pocket along with the first whole egg.

Next, add water a little at a time until the dough become firm and you are able to handle the dough.  Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes.  Press your hands into a dough ball and flatten it.  Fold the flattened dough back into itself and press flat again, repeat for 10 minutes.   Whew…  you have to be able to get you hands into the work.  After kneading for 10 minutes, form a dough ball and cover with a light towel.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  You can now rest for a few minutes, too.

Cut the dough into four pieces and form individual balls.  Take one ball at a time, leaving the remaining balls covered with a towel or plastic wrap in the bowl.  Add a little flour to the top of the first ball and begin rolling the dough flat.  Turn over, add more flour if necessary and press with rolling-pin to continue flattening.  Repeat until you reach the desire thinness. The dough should be relatively thin.

We used a pasty cutter with multiple blades to cut the dough.  Take your time and take it slow when cutting.  You need to press fairly hard down on the cutter to make clean cuts.  You can also roll the thin dough up like a tube and then cut the roll  into individual slices with a knife if you prefer.  The difference is that you will not achieve uniform pieces of noodles when using the second method.  Place each individual noodle on a cookie rack and allow to dry for 2 hours.

All the while we were preparing the noodles, we started to cook a whole chicken.  Place cut up chicken in large stock pot.  Add water to cover.  Season with salt, onion powder (except for Mr. B.) and allow to simmer for several hours until tender and fully cooked.  After cooked, remove chicken from pot and refrigerate until cool to touch.  Retain broth to cook noodles later.  After chicken is cooled, remove skin and bone.  Cut into small bite size pieces. Add noodles to boiling chicken broth and cook until tender.  Add chicken.  Make it the ultimate indulgence.   Serve along with a simple green salad as you won’t need much more.

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Sprinkle with a little pepper and choice of spice blend for color.
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Simple Green Salad with chopped fresh tomatoes and snap peas.

We had eight of our closest friends at our home to celebrate and ring in the New Year.  Cocktail and appetizer hour started at 7pm and dinner was ready to serve an hour and half later.  The twice baked potatoes were prepared the day prior and were ready to place in the oven for the final baking one hour before dinner.  The tenderloin smoked for 1 hour, grill seared for 15 minutes and then slow cooked in the oven (on and off) for the balance of the day before carving to serve at a delicious medium-rare.

Oh how I wish I were better at remembering to take pictures.  The appetizer table was adorned with so many good foods brought by our friends to share while we enjoyed each others company.  There was a splendid crudités platter.  I just learned this phrase when my friend who just returned home from living in Italy asked if she should bring crudités or humus and chips.  I had to asked what crudités was and learned that it’s vegetable tray.  Another friend brought smoked salmon served with several very tasty spreads and toasted French baguette.   We provided a cheese platter, beef and salami slices and an assortment of crackers for additional noshing.

The table was preset so that it was easier for serving buffet style and so that I was not so rushed at last-minute.  I’ve found that this makes life much easier, less stressful and then I’m able to enjoy the company of my friends without looking frazzled when they arrive.

Again, I forgot to take pictures of the food as it was set out  but did remember to snap on quick photo of my own dinner plate with the perfectly cooked beef tenderloin and twice baked potato served along with sautéed green beans seasoned with chipotle pepper and praline pecans.  The green bean dish was a quick change-up from my standard sautéed green beans with mushrooms and slivered almonds.  I’m still not sure which I prefer to serve.  The chipotle dish was a hot and sweet dish while the other is savory.

Beef Tenderloin:

Let the tenderloin set out on the counter until it comes to room temperature.  Remove all fat and sinew from the outside of the beef with a sharp knife.  Turn the small end of the tenderloin under and then tie the meat so that it cooks evenly.  Season the tenderloin liberally with a robust rub like the A1-Bold or Barbarian’s Steak Rub.  Liberally add ground salt and ground pepper.  Make sure to cover all the surface of the beef (top, bottom, side and ends).  Place in smoker uncovered at 225 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove from smoker and place on hot BBQ grill at 500 degrees and sear top and bottom for around 7-8 minutes per side.

Next, remove from grill and place in a 175 degree pre-heated oven to slow cook for 3-4 hours uncovered.  This will ensure that the tenderloin cooks to a rare – medium rare inside temperature.  If you want the meat to be rare then remove from oven at 130 degrees and let it rest for 10 minutes or so before carving.  If you want it at medium rare then remove from oven at 140 degrees.  The tender loin will continue to cook while it rests and then be perfect when carving.

Cooking Tip:  I had to keep turning my oven on and off  to make sure it didn’t over cook.  This did lead to the crust of the beef becoming a little soft instead of the normal crusty.  If this occurs (check it before serving) then place your oven on high broil and crust up the outside again before removing from the oven.

Entertaining Tips: 

  1. Set the table the day before if you will be having a large number of people.  This can take more time than you think and will cut into your cooking time if saved to the day of the party.
  2. Set up your cocktail bar the day before.  Place a plastic table cloth under any fabric cloth to protect the furniture’s surface if it could be damaged by the drinks or ice.  Set out a few bottles of tonic water, tomato juice, fruit juice and club soda for mixers.
  3. Prepare a cooler filled with soda pop and plenty of water.  Add ice the day of the party around 3 hours before the begin time.
  4. If serving the food buffet style you can set up the buffet table and serving dishes.
  5. Do any decorating and set out centerpieces and/or candles.
  6. Prepare cheese platters, meat platters and condiments for the appetizer table in their serving dishes, cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  7. Set up your appetizer table with any table clothes and decorations.  Prepare cracker platters, cover and set on appetizer table.
  8. Make sure your champagne is in the refrigerator the day before so that it is chilled to perfection.  One bottle of champagne pours 5-6 glasses.
  9. Figuring out how much meat to buy; 1/2 pound per person to ensure there is plenty.  Allows for second servings and ample leftovers.
  10. Figuring out how many pounds of fresh vegetables; 1/4 – 1/3  pound per person.
  11. Use 1 extra-large baking potato for every two people.  Add 2 extra for those that like more or especially when making twice baked.  Often, many of your guests will share a baked potato or a large twice baked.  Bake in oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  If making twice baked allow to cool before handling.

 

If you like this recipe and entertaining ideas from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes for entertainment.

12 ounces gemelli pasta (or any other desired pasta)
Three-quarter medium-size onion chopped
4 cups sliced mushrooms
One cube unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 half cup Crown Royal Whiskey®
1 cup water, white wine or chicken broth
Two extra-large vegetable bouillon cubes
1/4 cup flour and water for thickening
1 pound cooked shrimp skinned
1 – 2 teaspoons dried chives

Fill a larger pasta pot 3/4 full and bring to a medium boil.  Add the desired amount of pasta to the hot water.  Continue to cook the pasta while preparing the rest of the dish.  Check it for doneness occasionally and turn off when it become al dente.

Sauté onion in a large skillet with melted butter until they begin to caramelize and the onions turn slightly brown, stirring occasionally.  Add mushrooms to the skillet and continue to sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms are soft.  Continue to stir occasionally while they cook.

Pour Crown Royal Whiskey® into the pan to reduce and deglaze the pan. If using fresh shrimp then you should add them now and sauté for a few minutes until they begin to turn pin..   If they are already cooked then hold off and add them at the end of the recipe so that they do not over cook and become rubbery.  Add 1 cup water, white wine or chicken broth (reduce bouillon if using chicken broth) or as much as you want to create enough sauce.  Add bouillon cubes.  If you have selected chicken broth instead of water, then reduce the bouillon to one cube instead of two.   Stir occasionally with the saucepan at a slow simmer.

Cooking Tip: Create a thickening sauce by placing 1/4 cup flour in a measuring cup.  Add water to the 1/2 cup mark and whip with a small whisk until it is a smooth consistency with no lumps.  Make sure you add enough water so that it can be poured from the measure cup into the saucepan.

With the saucepan at a slow simmer, slowly add the flour mixture while stirring continuously.  Stir until the sauce thickens and cook until all taste of flour is cooked into the sauce.  The taste of the  Crown Royal Whiskey® and any wine should have cooked to a slightly sweet and non-alcohol taste.

Add the shrimp now if they were pre-cooked.  Then add the dried scallions.  Stir all together and continue to simmer on low while you drain the gemelli.  Serve with pasta and shrimp dish mixed together, or if you prefer, serve shrimp on a bed of pasta.

If you like this recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.

KCinAZ's recipes on BigOven menu planner and grocery list app

BigOven is by far my favorite online cooking application.  Now I’m even more thrilled with it since they have implemented several great updates to the site.  I began using BigOven in 2004 when I tired of trying to work with an outdated recipe collection program called Master Cook which has recently had an update too.  One of the greatest advantages to BigOven is it goes everywhere with you since it is internet based.  You can sign up for a free version that is definitely sufficient for the everyday cook.  But if you want to use all the fantastic features you will soon find yourself upgrading to a PRO edition.  In addition to the online version, you can download a Windows-based application to your laptop and then import recipes directly from BigOven to the application.  This makes it convenient for when you do not have an internet connection to reach the online version.

With the new updates there is a top level menu system makes it easier to navigate around and to find recipes.   That is the burgundy colored menu which now includes some 2nd level drop down menus.   The top level menu options are Recipes, My Recipes, Menus, Grocery List and Apps.

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Here is a sample screen shot of the drop down menu for recipes that you have Added yourself to BigOven, tagged from other contributors to your Favorites, or tagged as a Try Soon.  This example is for recipes that I have added and then showing only Main Dishes.  Each of the images that you see are ones that have been uploaded to go with the specific recipe.

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The following screen shot shows recipes that have been marked as My Favorites.  This group can be recipes that are part of my own collection or those that are from other contributors.  There are many fine recipes in BigOven and you could spend hours just checking them out.  I have several favorite contributors and I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites.

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Another great feature is Recent Raves.  You can find them under the menu item Recipes and then select Recent Raves from there.  Or you can select from the other 2nd level menu options of Collections, Use Up Leftovers, Recipes by Course or Add a Recipe.  After you select a recipe you can print it keep for future use, mark it as a favorite, try soon or give it your own rating after you’ve made the recipe yourself.

BigOven

 To learn more about BigOven visit Steve Murch’s About page.  Here are some of the award they have received.  My hat is off to Steve Murch for developing such a great application.  He is surprising approachable, too.  I have sent messages about suggestions or when I might find a slight glitch and often the reply back is directly from Steve.  With over 8 million downloads, it’s no wonder they have received these varied awards and I am sure there are more to come!

Best Apps for New Moms” — Time Magazine

Best Android Apps, 2011 (Honorable Mention)” — New York Times

Best Recipe App” — About.com, Readers Choice Award, 2013, 2012 and 2011

If I only had one cookbook in my library it would be “Timing is Everything by Jack Piccolo”.  There are no pictures and it doesn’t really have any recipes but it’s the best cookbook around for reference.  Want to know how long to cook the tuna in my “Drunkin Yellow Fin Tuna” or the Beef Tenderloin in  “Beef Tenderloin, Port Mushroom Gravy and Red Potatoes –  Date Night Dinner”.

Just turn to the appropriate meat section in the cookbook and look it up.  Tuna is considered a meaty fish found in the, of course, Fish Section.  Then it breaks down in the cooking methods of braise, broil, grill, pan fry, poach, sauté and steam.  For grilling it recommends a 6-8 ounce fillet or steak, then cook 3-5 minutes per side.  I’ll have to recheck my recipe to see if I followed their instructions.  You’ll even find a section on how to cook an egg, vegetables and rice along with storage time for vegetables, fruit and meats.

You won’t find it at the local book store unless it’s a used book store.  I found my second copy to take up to my cabin on Amazon.com and I costs around $4 for a used book and all the way up to $50 or $60 for a new un-used one.  The original price of the book was $16.95 so you can see how rare the new books are.  It’s no longer in print but worth the find.

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09/20/2014:  MasterCook now has a Cookbooks Store where you can get a choice of three cookbooks and two other cookbooks that are nominally priced.  I look forward to seeing more additions to the selection.

Students and Teachers for a limited time can MasterCook for free.  Lucky them.

MasterCook now has their own Blog.  This may be a good starting point to see if MasterCook is the cooking application for you.

09/03/2013:  The following is a recap of news directly from MasterCook about their updates.  I did receive a message from one of my readers who was concerned that they had to pay to use MasterCook and they do not have a trial version or have a minimal version that is free like BigOven.  A trial version or better introduction to the application would be a big plus for MasterCook 14.  BigOven does offer a free version but it is limited in comparison to the annual Pro version which includes many features not available to the standard user.  But, I’m not writing this about BigOven…. only giving a few comparisons.

09/03/2013:  A new update from MasterCook 14 on some of the upgrades and updates to the online application.  Can’t wait to try them out.  Here’s the news.

Improved uploading. When you’re uploading recipes and cookbooks to your web account, you’ll now see a progress indicator. This is helpful when you’re uploading large files. “KCinAZ – this should be helpful to those who have slower uploading services.  I always like to see the progress.”

Quick Start tutorial. Need help finding your way around the program? Not sure how to get started on the web? We’ve created a Quick Start Guide aimed at beginners.   “KCinAZ – This will be very helpful to the beginners.  Who wants to just plunder along without getting anywhere.  Thanks MasterCook.” 

Download multiple recipes directly from the Web Import Toolbar. You can download a batch of recently saved recipes to the MasterCook program right from the toolbar. Great time-saver!  “KCinAZ – I’ll have to definitely check this one out.  I’ve tried the download and it works good but not yet great.  Hopefully this is an improvement!”

To see more about other applications click on COOKING APPLICATION TAB ABOVE or click here.   As of 9/20/2014 MasterCook subscription is now $9.99, a digital download is on sale for $14.99 and includes the one year subscription, while a full boxed package with CD is $24.99 (in US only).  Check their website for current pricing.    If you were already a user of MasterCook the upgrade may less.

06/26/2013:  Here are some of the web features that are available with the web membership (borrowed directly from Master Cook 14):

  • 1-Click Recipe Transfer: One click will import most recipes from your favorite websites to your online account using any browser on your computer. At any  time, you can download your stored recipes right into MasterCook 14!
  • MasterCook.com – YOUR recipes & cookbooks, anywhere: Now you can upload recipes from your MasterCook 14 PC and access your recipes from any web-enabled device  including your iPhone, iPad or Android device. Registered MasterCook 14 users can store up to 5,000 recipes in their personal online cookbooks.
  • Trending Recipes: Discover new recipes by browsing what’s popular among MasterCook.com users.

I was pleased to see some great new additions to the program and couldn’t resist purchasing it.  If you would like to visit their website, click here.  This is not an advertisement for MasterCook and shouldn’t be interpreted as such.  I just love cooking, cookbooks, cooking applications and anything to do with cooking.  Happy Cooking!

ORIGINAL REVIEW:  I really didn’t think that I would ever use Master Cook again after finding BigOven.com but I am always pulled in to check out something intriguing.  Well, the new Master Cook is intriguing.  One of the reasons for moving away from MasterCook originally was that it did not have any internet based or mobile application.  They now have added this feature and its great.

Improved Import feature.  The old online import feature from several years ago was cumbersome and was a plug -in not supported by MasterCook.  With this new version they’ve included their own version and it’s greatly improved.  Now the application matches up the recipe that you’re looking to import almost 100%.  The import feature is tool that you drag and drop to the Favorites in Internet Explorer.  I’ve used it several times and each time it works well.  Sometimes the import will need a little tweaking.  In the example the item and item measure show perfect.  I’ve seen sometimes with the import where these two items run together and need to be separated by a space.

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The Desktop Application is still very similar to the old version however they’ve spiffed it up a lot.  It’s more colorful and looks much more professional.  The graphics are more appealing than prior desktop versions.  You’re looking at the main menu here.  From the left page you can either go into the desktop cookbooks or to MasterCook online.   The second screen image is MasterCook 14 online.  You can create multiple cookbooks or just import into your own favorites.  These cookbooks are for your own personal use, but when importing from favorites cooking websites such as allrecipes.com or foodandwine.com those imports are shared with other online users.   To look at other users imports, click on the Trending menu item.

The trending menu item is a little slow loading but that may be due to the large number of images that it show.  I think MasterCook will have to do some organizing in the Trending section fairly soon as it is growing in size and is sorted by the highest number of imports.

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One feature that’s been carried over from the old desktop application that is still there is the capability to print or publish your own cookbook(s).   This is an important feature for many recipe collectors and I’m glad to see that it’s still there.  Unfortunately for BigOven, this feature is not included in either their desktop or online version from what I can find.  If anyone else knows of how to do this in BigOven, I would love to hear of it.  However, one huge feature within BigOven that I love and that is lacking in MasterCook is the ability to look at and share recipes with the other members of the online community.

After getting MasterCook 14 loaded, I was able to easily import all the recipe books that I had created with the older ancient versions.  I was surprised and pleased to find that everything was still compatible.  I was able to import these also into BigOven desktop but MasterCook does a much better job with the visual appeal.

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