Cooking Smitten Kitchen’s Cold Rice Noodles With Peanut-Lime Chicken

I’m not kidding when I say that Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Cold Rice Noodles With Peanut-Lime Chicken is the best thing I’ve made in a long time. I was immediately drawn to the dish when I first saw her post it, but didn’t get around to actually making it until last night. That’s right, while most of these posts are about dishes I made the previous week, I loved this one so much that I had to move some things around so I could write about it today.

The only changes I made to the recipe was that I omitted the chilies from the dipping sauce and went with chicken breasts instead of thighs because that’s what we prefer. That’s it. I went exactly according to detail for the rest of it. Since there are so many different components to this dish, I decided to work on it throughout the day. I had some time around 2PM, so I hopped in the kitchen and put together the two sauces. For the peanut one, this was a simple matter of pouring the correct amounts of fish oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, peanut butter and lime juice in a blender along with some ginger. Hit a button and you wind up with a wonderful salty, citrucy peanut buttery sauce that I want to put on everything from sandwiches to ice cream.

The dipping sauce was even easier, especially because I didn’t include the chilies which would have required a bit of chopping. This was just a combination of brown sugar, fish oil, lime juice and garlic all whisked together. For the lime juice, I had bought a bunch of limes for mojitos and just decided to use them here. I found that you get about a tablespoon per lime half and used the juicer seen in the photo just to make sure I wasn’t going too crazy or coming up too short. I put both sauces in the fridge for later.

Some time later in the afternoon, I trimmed the fat from the chicken breasts and chopped them up. I realized after I did this that the recipe calls for just putting the chicken on the grill or in the broiler and then chopping later, but I like doing it this way because it gets the marinade on the maximum amount of chicken. I put the pieces in a baking dish and then mixed the marinade like the recipes says, covered that and put it in the fridge.

When it got to be my usual dinner making time of 5PM, I was really set. All I had to do at that point was broil the chicken, pick and chop mint, basil and chives from our herb garden and cut them up, then cut up the cucumber and carrots and prepare the rice noodles. The kind I got said to just cover the noodles in boiling water, so I filled my hot pot, let it get all the way to boiling and then covered the package’s contents with the steaming water in a Dutch oven. Ten minutes later, I drained the noodles and sprayed them down with cool water. For the chicken, I covered a baking sheet with foil, then spooned the chicken pieces onto it and broiled for about four minutes. At that point, I pulled the pan out, flipped the meat and put it back in for 4 or 5 minutes to finish off.

And that’s it, really. You set all the components out kind of like a taco bar so your diners can add whatever they want in whatever amounts they like. This is the kind of meal you see judges go crazy about on something like Chopped because it’s just so amazingly layered. The chicken is perfectly limey and peanuty, you’ve got the saltyness and sweetness of the dipping sauces and marinades playing off of each other. Then there’s the subtle flavor and crunch of the carrots and cukes. All of that is wonder and then you get a bit of the basil or mint in there and you’re in a whole different plane of awesomeness. I can not recommend a recipe more highly than I do this one. Everyone should make it because everyone needs these flavors dancing on their tongues.

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Bonus Food Pic: The Pulled Porktato At Billy Joe’s Ribworks

To celebrate Father’s Day, my wife, daughter, inlaws and I walked around the Newburgh waterfront to figure out what we wanted to eat. After looking at all the displayed menus we, not surprisingly ended up at Billy Joe’s Ribworks. I wasn’t as hungry as I usually am when we go there (I tend to take it easy and not eat too much in preparation), so I decided to try something I’ve always had my eye on but never ordered: the Pulled Porktato.

According to the menu, this particular spud sports “Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Coleslaw and Melted Cheddar Cheese” and come with sides of butter and sour cream. Oh man, this was good. I don’t know about you guys, but I am a big fan of baked potatoes with all kinds of ingredients on them. This love stems from my time working at The Bagel Place in Toledo for many many years. We had several different kinds of baked potatoes for sale with toppings like beef tips, gravy, cheese sauce, broccoli, bacon, mushrooms, chives and plenty of others. As an employee we had to pay for sandwich meat, but potatoes were free, so I would often eat those and eventually got pretty creative with toppings.

So, this meal reminded me of those fun days working at a bagel shop back home with my friends, but also that a huge stuffed baked potato acts as a perfectly good and filling meal. Heck, I even took some home with me!

Cooking Chicken Salad Veronique & Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

Like I said before, it was over 90 degrees last week and I was desperately looking for dinners that would not blast heat throughout the house. I came across a pair of Ina Garten recipes for Chicken Salad Veronique and Tomato Feta Pasta Salad that looked cool and both featured elements I could make earlier in the day and use during dinner. It was supposed to be an easy, relaxed dinner spread out over the whole day, but I wound up needing to make mayonnaise, so things got a little hotter than expected.

It started out well, though. I tossed four chicken breasts covered in olive oil, salt and pepper in to the oven and let cook for 40 minutes like the recipe suggests. When that was done, I let the chicken cool and then put it in the refrigerator until I needed it later. When it got closer to dinner time, I got to work on the rest of the salad which only really needed some cut up grapes and celery tossed in a bowl with the chopped chicken and mixed with mayo and tarragon from the herb garden.

Then I realized I didn’t have any mayo, but did have all the things I needed to make it again and decided to do that. I started out trying to make a half batch because we don’t really eat that much mayonnaise in our house, but I think I screwed up the ratios and had to then make closer to a full batch. This was a bit of a mess and I had to do it twice and busted out the electric whisk, something I’ve never used before, but it got the job done. In went the homemade mayo, out came chicken salad.

While I was sweating bullets mixing this at first by hand, a pot of water was boiling on the stove for the Tomato Feta Pasta Salad. This helped add an extra side to the menu, but also use up some of the pasta we got for Lu’s birthday party after my wife and the inlaws went shopping at BJ’s. Anyway, aside from the boiling pasta water, this was easy peasy to put together. Make pasta, throw a bunch of stuff for the dressing in a food processor, cut up some veggies and you’re done. I accidentally put some of the cheese into the processor, so the dressing came out kind of chunky instead of smooth, so I had to really mix it more, but it turned out really tasty.

I enjoyed both of these dishes and will definitely make them again. The chicken salad reminded me of the kind my mom used to make, especially with the grapes and celery, so it not only tasted good but also had a nice memory to it. Definitely give these recipes a shot if you don’t want to heat your house up too much this summer or want to take an easy dish to a cook out with friends.

Your New Home For Photo Diary Posts

Well, as anyone who reads the old blog or follows me on Twitter or Facebook* knows, I decided to incorporate my photo diary posts over here on PopPoppa. This was an idea I had back when I moved the posts off of UnitedMonkee, but decided to give them their own blog. Considering most of the entries wind up being about the baby or my experience as a dad anyway, I figured it would make sense to post them here and give myself one less blog to worry about. This will also give me an opportunity to get more creative with my categories and tagging, which sounds boring on the surface, but less so when you think of looking at something like “Teething” and then getting a look at all the photo diary entries that have to do with it as well as the normal posts I wrote. Okay, maybe only I find that interesting, but it will make for a more complete and cross-referenced digital memory bank, so I like it. Admittedly, this will also give me far more posts on PP than I seem capable of writing on a weekly basis and might even give me more ideas for longer posts.

 

* When I moved everything from the old blog over to this one, I thought it would let me look at things before publishing, but that wasn’t the case. Since I have this blog hooked up to go out through Twitter and Facebook automatically, when the posts moved every single one of them got linked individually on those social media sites. As a result, I’m sure I clogged a few walls and streams and whatnot, but all those Tweets also used up my daily allotment, something I didn’t even know exists. So, sorry about all that.

Cooking Fantastic Taco Casserole

Last week wound up being super hot so I wanted to try and make dinners that wouldn’t heat up the house too much. I also decided to cook things at different times of the day than normal to try and avoid all that heat all at once. I stumbled across this recipe for Fantastic Taco Casserole on Food.com and while it still involved cooking with a 375 degree oven, it didn’t take too long. I also cooked the ground beef in the taco seasoning around noon while my daughter ate lunch. I just let it cool down and eventually popped it in the fridge and got it out later on when constructing the casserole.

The only big change I made to the recipe was using garbanzo beans instead of refried beans. I thought I had the latter in my pantry, but only had the former and decided to just go with it. How’d that work out? Gimme a paragraph and I’ll let you know.

So, you basically just put tortilla chips on the bottom of an oven safe bowl. You then mix the beans with half the cheese and a cup of salsa. Since I didn’t use refried, there was no cooking involved right there. Anyway, you basically just layer everything in the dish and then pop it in the oven. While that’s in there, I cut up the tomatoes and those went on top when it came out. Boom, you’re done. And you know what? It was great.

I loved how the chips got a little mushy and turned into an actual salty crust that I dug. Everything else is pure taco, but in a bowl and you don’t have to set up a whole huge spread just to make tacos. Don’t get me wrong, I like making tacos, but this is about a billion times earlier. Oh, and the garbanzo beans? I really liked them. My wife noted that using them actually kept the dish a little lighter than it would have been with the refried variety. I think she nailed it. While you get the added protein of a bean, it’s not the thick gooey kind you get with refried beans. And, hey, it only took a little bit of time and not a lot of heat, so I’m very cool with it.

Sixth Anniversary Dinner At Cotton In Manchester, NH

To celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary (which was actually yesterday, but we went out on Saturday), my lovely wife did a bunch of research about nice restaurants around her parents’ house in New Hampshire. We decided on a place called Cotton in Manchester which was a wonderful restaurant and got big huge thumbs up from both of us. We decided to skip appetizers, but did go with some drinks. I had a couple Cherry Old Fashioneds which had Red Stag by Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon with muddled, sugar, orange slice, cherry and a dash of bitters. Man, that was a tasty drink that I would love to have again and again.

For dinner, I went with Wood Grilled Native All-Natural Jumbo Sea Scallops. I’m a big fan of scallops and usually only get them when we go somewhere in the summer near the ocean in New England and those are always fried. Don’t get me wrong, I dig fried scallops, but it’s such an awesome food that sometimes you just want to eat the thing and not the breading. Cotton’s jump scallops were super tasty and wonderful. When I saw there were only five on the plate, I was a little bummed, but then I started cutting them up and realized this was the perfect amount of food, especially when included with the applewood smoked bacon, sweet potato corn hash and honey chipotle aioli. Man, that hash was fantastic. The sweetness of the sweet potatoes bounced perfectly off the saltiness of the bacon, the slight heat of the aioli and the crispness of the corn.

I can not recommend this place enough. We dropped a good amount of money because it was our anniversary. Had this just been a regular date, though, there were plenty of other options that still looked awesome and probably tasted the same. I would love to eat at Cotton again. And again. And again. By the way, sorry about the bad picture, I felt weird snapping even this one and just did it on the quick.

Cooking Grilled Pork Chops N Peaches

Thanks to the mysterious Good Housekeeping subscription I have (no idea where it came from), I’ve got a numb of torn out recipes I want to try that I keep in a big blue binder. The most recent one I tried was called Grilled Pork Chops N Peaches and it turned out pretty darn good. The only changes I made to the recipe were skipping the cilantro because my wife hates it and using cast iron grill pans on the stove instead of an outdoor grill.

Whipping up the marinade and peach sauce were both as easy as throwing a bunch of stuff into a food processor. That was followed by first grilling the peaches and then the chops on the pans, neither of which was particularly difficult, though I will say that I’m still not quite used to grilling fruit just yet. Some of the pieces turned out great while others less so. Anyway, at the end of the day, we wound up with some tangy, tasty chops made all the better by the sauce. I’d recommend giving this one a shot, even if, like me, you’re not a grill master.

Pizza Party: Prima’s Shrimp Scampi & The Cowboy SomethingOrOther

Last weekend, my inlaws came into town which usually means a trip to a local pizza joint. This time we headed over to Prima’s in Cornwall one of the best places around. We decided on ordering a pair of pies, the one on the left is Shrimp Scampi and the one on the right is…well, I don’t quite remember. It’s a new one on their menu and my wife and I both think it has “cowboy” in the name. I’ve never had shrimp scampi because I don’t really like shrimp, but it’s a testament to Prima’s that I really dug this pizza. I’ll assume it’s an exemplary version of scampi and say that it’s worth a try. The unnamed cowboy pizza was a beast of fantastic-ness featuring barbecue chicken, bacon and a drizzling of ranch dressing. This is the kind of pizza that was created just for me, I’m convinced, though I could have actually done with a little more ranch as the given amount was a bit lost in the other strong flavors.

The Coffee Table Safe Zone

Remember those carefree days when you could actually keep a cup of coffee or glass of water within normal reaching distance? Or when you could leave a bill out so you’d remember to send the check the next day? Man, those were good times. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but after Lu started pulling herself up and examining the coffee table, things changed.

Since then, I’ve had an increasingly shrinking are I’ve dubbed the safe zone. As Lu so kindly demonstrated in the above photo, it’s basically an inch or two away from the kid’s arm span. As she’s gotten bigger the safe zone has shrunk and the danger zone only increased. The only real safe place is indicated on our table by those four coasters and the computer’s locale. I used to use a lap desk, but it’s bulk crossed over into the danger zone and gave her an easy handle to pull the computer towards her and smash the keys.

As you can see, she’ll never stop trying. I just hope she doesn’t have a freak arm growth spurt. I’ll really be in trouble then.

Cooking Smitten Kitchen’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken With Steamed Broccoli

I’m a big fan of the cooking blog Smitten Kitchen. She’s from nearby New York, so we have pretty much the same seasons meaning that when tomatoes are fresh for her, they’re fresh for me too. I also just dig her recipes and have cooked a number of them both for the blog and just for food. Recently she’s been doing a lot of baking stuff, which I don’t really care about, but I am excited to check out her cookbook when it comes out. I’m also a huge fan of her blog’s name, clever is clever and clever is good.

I went back a bunch of pages a few weeks ago and finally came across this recipe for Buttermilk Roast Chicken. All you really do for this recipe is mix the brine ingredients together, put the chicken in there and then cook in the stove. I think I should have used the broiler from the beginning, but just used the stove which wound up taking longer. I let it sit for a few hours and then we ate.

I’m not sure how much I enjoyed this recipe. I might have goofed something up along the way, but the flavor was a little weak and the texture a little…off? Not quite rubbery, not quite chewy, just off. However, the baby really seemed to like it, so it can’t be all that bad.

Father’s Day Fun

Happy belated Father’s Day everyone! I hope it was a nice one. Even though I had to get up early to get some awesome breakfast, I had a pretty nice little Father’s Day. I have to admit, I still have trouble thinking of myself as someone who celebrates this holiday. I obviously know I’m a dad, but I spent over 25 years framing this holiday with someone else as the focus, so sometimes putting myself in there slips my mind. My wife doesn’t have that problem though, as you can see from this rad Star Wars-themed card she got me. I think it might be my favorite thing ever. It’s even got an augmented reality thingy where you download a file, hold the card up to your webcam and you get a fun extra Father’s Day message from R2-D2.

Fiddlestix Bonus Food Pics: Cheesey Steak Sandwich & Cowboy Cakes

Hey, check it out, two more food pics from Fiddlestix, I’m sure you’re leaning back in your seat shocked. But, hey, when you find an awesome place to eat with variety, why go anywhere else? Above you can see a steak sandwich I got that was wonderful and slathered in portabello mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese sauce.

We also went to the ‘Stix for Father’s Day breakfast and I got the Cowboy Cakes again. Man, this is a tasty breakfast that actually makes me want to get pancakes, something that doesn’t often happen. The way the peppers are cooked inside with some kind of awesome mystery spice or herb really mixed up into something amazing. I want to eat these every day.

Seriously, if you live anywhere near Cornwall, New York GO TO FIDDLESTIX. If it’s a weekend, you might see me there, I’m the one trying to quickly snap a picture of my food before diving in fork first.

Cooking Guy Fieri’s Bacon & Tomato Pasta

Three years ago, I made Guy Fieri’s Baclon and Tomato Pasta. I know this because, I printed the recipe off from Food Network’s website and kept the paper. I don’t remember anything about that first attempt, but considering this is a pasta recipe that also involves bacon, I understand why I chose it in the first place. For this week’s menu, I decided to flip through the ol’ recipe binder, saw this one and gave it another shot.

It’s a really simple recipe, which I like. I stayed true to the recipe though I was a little short on basil because our herb garden isn’t replenishing itself as much as I’d like. Anyway, I got the water boiling and then did a bunch of chopping so I’d only have to put the right things in the pan at the right time. This made things super easy, kind of like when I cook in the wok.

You can scope out the recipe yourself to see all the steps. Like I said, it’s an easy one and it yielded a pretty tasty meal. I wish I had cooked the bacon just a little longer to get it crispier. I didn’t realize it beforehand, but going with thick cut meant it didn’t cook nearly as fast and took pretty long even to get as crispy as it did, which wasn’t a lot. I like how the red wine works in there, though I think next time I might use more tomatoes. I would like this recipe even better if it was a bit saucier. Still, I devoured it that night for dinner and again as leftovers the next day, so it’s not like I can say I didn’t like it.

The Potty Experiment

Several months back, my wife and I decided to try a little something called elimination communication. The essential idea, as far as I understand it, is physically putting your child on some kind of toilet to go to the bathroom so they start to get used to it. When you do so, you do a particular hand movement or sound that a child can copy, the idea being that, eventually, they’ll start giving you the sign when they need to go to the bathroom or, barring that, hold it until you put them on the potty. The idea behind the idea is that kids don’t naturally enjoy sitting around all day in their own excrement, but do get used to it wearing diapers so this whole process will can be easily learned and is essential to life in other countries where they don’t have access to disposable diapers like we do.

Even though we’ve been doing this for a few months, we’re still not quite to the point where she’s telling us when she needs to go to the bathroom. Like I said when I wrote about signing the first time around, I understand this because the concepts we’re trying to express to her can be kind of big and difficult to comprehend. Does she understand that the sign is for the actual act of going to the bathroom, sitting on the toilet or just the whole process we go through which doesn’t always result in actually going to the bathroom on the potty? However, she does seem to be holding it longer, possibly in hopes of us talking her to the potty. Unfortunately, this depends on me paying close attention to the Itzbeen, which doesn’t always happen, especially if I’m busy trying to get word done.

In addition to just wanting her to learn how to do something on her own, I also have to admit that I like the idea of being done with diapers as soon as possible. I mean, who doesn’t? Especially if we do decide to have another kid in the next few years, I certainly don’t want to be running after two of them in diapers. I think my wife would also be down with the idea of not having to do a load of diaper laundry every other day. As much as we like doing these things to help our baby, it’s also important to remember that these alternative methods can also wind up taking some of the burden off the kids, even if it means putting a little more on at the moment.

I will say, it’s kind of interesting how so many of the things we do tie together. We’ve been trying sign language for quite some time and that’s a big part of this process. We also use cloth diapers which don’t chemically remove all moisture like a lot of disposables. She can actually feel that she’s wet in the diapers we have, which seems admittedly uncomfortable, so hopefully that will help with the experiment. As with pretty much everything we try with her, this is going to be a long process, but hopefully one that winds up working out for everyone involved.

A Few Thoughts On Giant Burritos

I first discovered the world of giant burritos in college. Actually, I really first discovered Mexican food in general in college, but that’s a story for another day. Up to that point, I’d really only had Taco Bell. Then I discovered a place about 30 minutes away from school (which was kind of in the middle of nowhere, though there was a Taco Bell fairly close) called Chipotle. The idea with this place was that you could choose various kinds of meat, rice, beans, salsa and a few other things to throw on the tortilla, fold it up origami style and shove into your face. Thus my fascination with giant burritos was born.

We ate at Chipotle whenever we could in college, but then I moved back to Toledo where we didn’t have giant burritos (a Chipotle moved in right around the time I moved out). As you’d expect, it was a sad time. Then, a few months later, I got a job at Wizard, moved out to New York and wound up eating lunch about once a week in the big Palisades mall nearby. What did they have there? A Qdoba!

Qdoba is very similar to Chipotle, but they also throw in other options like Queso (covering it in melted cheese) or mole and a variety of other flavors and sauces. For the longest time I actually had trouble keeping them separate in my head — it didn’t help that I had easy access to both when I worked down in New York City. But, after heading down to eat lunch at a new Chipotle with my wife and some of her friends I realized something, I like Qdoba better. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Chipotle and I quite enjoyed my giant burrito (steak with pinto beans, regular salsa, sour cream and cheese), but I just prefer variety and Qdoba has more of it. Now all I need is for a Qdoba to open up near us as we are in the land of no giant burritos currently. Sigh.

Cooking Green Goddess Rice With Chicken

I’ve only seen a few episodes of Claire Robinson’s Food Network show 5 Ingredient Fix, but I almost always see something I want to try. One such thing was her recipe for Green Goddess Rice, a side dish that involves adding a basil, lemon and avocado sauce to rice. I made this once before as a side dish for something I can’t quite remember, but when I made it last week, I decided to add some grilled chicken and make it an entree.

The meal itself couldn’t be simpler. You throw the Green Goddess sauce ingredients into a blender or food processor after making your rice and then grilling up some chicken. I went a little heavy on the lemon this time around, but it wound up being a really good compliment to the avocado, basil, rice and chicken flavors.

For the chicken, I just spread on some good olive oil, salt and pepper then got to grilling. When it was done, I chopped it up and mixed everything together in a big bowl. I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take a picture of the chicken added in or my usual plated shot which should give you an idea of how great this recipe is.

Bonus Food Pics: Aroma Buffet Chinese Delights

We grabbed some food at the nearby Aroma Buffet this weekend and it was a pretty great experience. The place is fairly new and we’ve only been there twice because we’re usually not hungry enough for a full on buffet experience. Anyway, here’s a few pictures I snapped there. I was particularly fond of the rangoon and those stuffed mushroom caps.Our daughter really dug the rice and noodles as well as the nice people clearing dishes and getting drinks. I also had a small dish of vanilla ice cream, but figured it wasn’t worth taking a picture of even though it was good ice cream.

Cooking Smitten Kitchen’s Pancetta, Egg & Leek Risotto

One of the problems I’ve found with being so adventurous in my cooking exploits (to a degree at least) is that I’m making food that I’ve never actually had before. That was the case when I made Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Bacon, Egg & Leek Risotto, I’d never had risotto before, but here I was making something that every cooking show I’d ever seen said was a very time intensive and easy to mess up dish. And, as you might expect, I messed it up, but just a tiny bit.

As you can see from the photos and the heading, I went with pancetta instead of bacon. This is not because I like the former more than the latter but because I honestly didn’t feel like chopping up a quarter of a slab of bacon and figuring out what to do with the rest. Our grocery store has perfectly portioned packages of pancetta for just such an occasion, so I went with that. Aside from that, though, I did everything else according to the recipe.

I browned the pancetta and removed it, then did the same with the leeks before doing the onions and adding the rice. I also had the stock warming on the stove the whole time and made sure it didn’t quite get to boiling (good thing we’ve got that simmer burner, which was perfect for this). At that point it was a matter of adding the warm stock a half cup at a time and stirring until it was absorbed. I tried to do this to the best of my ability but the end results wound up being a little undercooked.

Other than some slightly undercooked rice, though, this was a super duper tasty recipe. The great thing about risotto is that it winds up being kind of like a rice version of mac and cheese and you know I’m down with that. I’m still not sure how much I like leeks, but they were pretty good here if a little bitter at times. All in all, this will stay on the keep pile and surely come back into play when the weather gets a bit cooler. This was not a great dish to cook in the heat.

Bonus Food Pic: Mix N Mac’s Cheese Steak Mac & Cheese

Several months ago my wife and I were in the nearby city of Middletown. While leaving the big mall there, I saw a tiny political-type sign jabbed in the ground for a new place called Mix N Mac. In a rare moment of my memory doing well by me, I remembered the name and looked it up when we got home. We actually haven’t traveled out to Middletown in quite a while, but we did last week and decided to check the restaurant out.

Here’s the deal, you go in, choose a kind of mac and cheese (click the link and download the menu to see all the options, they also have weekly or monthly specials), the kind of noodles, cheese and then it goes into the oven. I went with the Cheese Steak kind while my wife checked out the Buffalo version. We even got our daughter a kid’s size regular. I’ve got to say, the food was amazing. I tried all three and was impressed with how different they all tasted. With something like this, it wouldn’t be out of the question if everything kind of tasted the same, so I was glad that each one was different.

There is a bit of a problem, though. Since they make everything to order, this can take a long time. When we got to the place there were two people working and maybe four customers in front of us, plus several carry out orders. It took a good deal of time to actually get our food. The fact that the sun was beating in through the windows and our daughter didn’t want to sit still made for something of a bad experience. But then we got the food and all was forgiven. So, if you feel like giving this place a shot — and I recommend doing so — call ahead and eat your food elsewhere.

Cooking Jeff Mauro’s Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Grilled Pineapple Relish

As I said back during the last season finale of Food Network Star, I was pretty happy that Jeff Mauro won. I dug his Sandwich King idea of taking regional sandwiches and giving them a spotlight while also turning recipes you wouldn’t usually put between bread and doing so. I even watch his show when I stumble upon it, which is something I can’t say about most Food Network shows. I happened to see an episode he did about making a few different kinds of barbecue and decided to give his recipe for Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Grilled Pineapple Relish.

This one was actually pretty simple, though you need time to get it done. The first step was making a dry rub out of brown sugar, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper and cinnamon. I rubbed the rub on the pork butt and then wrapped it up in plastic wrap for a few hours in the fridge. Two hours later, I popped it in my Dutch over and then put it, covered, in the oven for three hours.

With about an hour left in the oven cooking, I moved back into the kitchen and put the pineapple relish together. That involved slicing a pineapple and grilling it, chopping up some onions and ginger. I had already used my limes on another recipe, so instead I used orange juice which seemed to work out well. Oh, I also skipped the cilantro and the jalapeno for this because my wife hates the former and I’m not a huge fan of super heat.

After that, it was time to put the chili sauce together. Again, this one was pretty simple. The only changes I made were not crushing the red pepper flakes because I just couldn’t get them to grind with my mortar and pestle. What I did instead was actually strain the sauce as I poured it onto the pulled pork.

And it’s really that simple. I think not replacing the ingredients I left out of the relish might have negatively effected that flavor which wound up being a little more acidic than I think it was supposed to be. I also completely forgot to make or get red cabbage which bummed me out because I think the red cabbage I’ve made before and love would have been the perfect compliment to these flavors. I think that’s what seemed like it was missing from the flavors as they combined with this sandwich. That’s something to remember for next time.

She’s Walkin’, Yesiree

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. There have been some things going on around the house that have made blogging a bit difficult and, I’ll be honest, compared to all my blogs, this one is always the hardest one for me to come up with posts for. Maybe it’s because I’m so close and emotionally invested in the raising of my daughter or maybe it’s because I cover some of this stuff in shorter formats over on my photo diary site and Twitter. My pop culture intake has also been limited, but these are all just excuses.

Anyway, the biggest news around our house is that our daughter — who turned 13 months last weekend — is walking around the house like a maniac. For a while it seemed like she wasn’t going to shift to walking because she was just such a fast crawler. The kid could make it around our small condo with ease or stand and walk holding onto things. My idea was to hang a remote control — one of her favorite things in the world — from the ceiling in the middle of the room, but couldn’t figure out a quick release system so she wouldn’t pull down the ceiling fan.

Anyway, within the last few weeks, she’s really started walking. She would take the occasional free steps between my wife and I or her parents when they visited. Then, she stopped for a while and then one day, bam, she’s standing up and walking around on her own. The first day she really started, she actually startled me because she had been behind me in the living room and just appeared in the middle of the room while I was writing an email, shambling like a tiny zombie.

Since then she’s gone from mostly crawling with a little walking thrown into to primarily walking. I actually just realized a few days ago that she’s barely crawling anymore. It’s been an amazing transition to see, one — like most — I wish I had paid even more attention to. Now she’s even walking alongside us in stores and at restaurants. The bad part is that she doesn’t want to sit when we’re out anymore, which doesn’t really work when we’re out to eat.

Making Hummus

When getting everything together for my daughter’s first birthday party, I asked my wife and inlaws to pick up a few things for me when they ran out so I could put together a pasta salad (forgot to take pictures, but it turned out pretty good, I’m sure I’ll make it again this summer). I didn’t realize they were going to BJ’s and instead of the few cans of things I’d be needing, I’d get six of each. That’s alright, though, I can always used these things. In fact, having a few extra cans of chick peas inspired me to whip up some hummus. So, I went over to Food Network’s website and wound up settling on Dave Lieberman’s Hummus Dip recipe because it looked simple and I had everything in the house already.

And it was really simple. You basically drain and rinse the chick peas and throw them in a blender with the listed ingredients. I should say that I didn’t have everything listed because I was lacking lemons, so I decided to throw in a few limes to make up for it. This actually took away some citrus I needed for another recipe last week, but I’ll get to that one soon. Once it was good and blended, I put it in a jar and then into the fridge, bingo bango.

Anyway, I think using the lime might have goofed up some of the flavor, but overall, I thought it still turned out pretty hummus-y. I love how simple this was to put together and will use it to eat with some of the baby carrots they also picked up on their shopping excursion. Great for snacking.

Bonus Food Pic: The Betterman From Fiddlestix

Hey look, it’s another picture of food from Fiddlestix in Cornwall. It must seem like this is the only place we eat at and, well, that’s because it’s kind of true. I love this place because they do so many specials every single week. I’m a big fan of variety and they’ve got it, so I’m a big fan of Fiddlestix. I’m also a big, big fan of this sandwich, The Betterman, which was unfortunately a special. I say unfortunately because it was so face-slappingly amazing that I want to eat it all day every day. You’ve got sliced roast beef with caramelized onions and…well, I forget. There might have been blue cheese involved? I was so excited about putting this in my face, that I just dove right in and didn’t take any notes about what I was eating. I should also point out that Fiddlestix also changes their pasta salad on a regular basis. While there have been plenty of tasty versions, they went creamy with this one and I love that style. Great stuff, as always.