Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Superbowl Bar Food, Guacamole and...

With Superbowl rapidly approaching it's time to make a decision. What to serve for Superbowl? Why not bar food? Sandwich bar, taco bar, nacho bar, baked potato and potato skin bar, chili bar, bloody Mary bar, sushi bar, slider bar, cheese and cracker snack bar, or a decadent sweet bar. You get the idea.

Bloody Mary for the cook
Being from the Midwest neither of our family's teams are in the Superbowl this year so who wins really doesn't matter. After all, it's not about the game, it's about the party.  If you have a taco bar then you must have a guacamole bar, or a nacho bar since both use the same or similar ingredients.
Emergency snacks
In my family everybody has their own idea about who makes the best guacamole and what goes in it. So why not make a generic guacamole base and then customize it by adding other ingredients you choose. Whoever makes it, the guacamole is always good.
Juice of fresh lime
I did some checking on the Internet and found that most guacamole recipes are very similar in the basic ingredients. The rest is up to your own personal taste. I think most people avoid making guacamole because it can turn an unappetizing brown color rapidly if it comes into prolonged contact with air. Adding a layer of lime juice on the surface of the guacamole acts as an antioxidant and will prevent this oxidation process for a little while. Plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the guacamole until ready to serve will also slow down this oxidation process.
Plastic wrap on guacamole
2 whole Avocados, pitted, cubed, mashed
1 whole Lime, juice only
to taste 
NOTE: The above are pretty much the basic ingredients. This is where you take over. Get the prep work out of the way first. The size of your chop or mince depends on how you like your guacamole. I prefer a more chunky texture so the cut is a little bigger than most.
as needed Bacon, fried, crispy
1 whole Tomato, diced fine
1 small Onion, diced fine
1 large Garlic clove, mashed 
1 whole Jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced fine
black olives, sliced
hot sauce, I like Frank's
to taste Cilantro, chopped fine 
NOTE: Many people don't like the taste of Cilantro. If you are one of those people try some parsley instead. 

Remove jalapeno seeds
Smash and process your garlic with a little salt until it looks like paste. Chop your onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise and scoop out all of the seeds and ribs and discard them. Do not touch your face, mouth or eyes! Mince the jalapeno so that the pieces are very small. This will allow you to distribute them evenly in the guacamole. 
Fresh lime juice
Using a juicer, or reamer, squeeze out all of the juice of the lime and set it to the side.

Avocado cut in half seeds removed
You are now ready to cut your avocados. This is really a simple process once you try it. Take a sharp knife and hit the side of the avocado in the center with the sharp side. The large seed of the avocado should stop the knife from going through to the other side, and your hand. Holds the avocado firmly turn it in a complete circle so that the knife blade makes a cut all of the way around it. Remove the knife and twist. Scoop the pit of the avocado out with a spoon or whack the pit with a sharp knife and lift it out. Use the spoon to scoop out the meat of the avocado right down to the skin. Mash in a small bowl with a fork. Mix in all the ingredients except the tomato. mash or blend until well mixed and the texture is chunky or smooth depending on your taste. Fold in the tomatoes. Pour the lime juice over the surface and stir if serving immediately. Put the pits back into the mixed guacamole if not serving immediately to keep it from turning. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down to form a skin on the guacamole. Refrigerate to keep it cold.
Drain excess moisture
If you are having a Superbowl party this year and have a great recipe, send a comment and even a picture if you like in a jpg or pdf format. I will post as many as I can. 

© TMelle 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Most people will walk right past a standing rib roast when out shopping.  Prime Rib is from a standing rib roast. A true Prime Rib is a standing rib roast that has been graded as "Prime" rather than "Choice" or "Select." A choice cut rib roast is an acceptable second choice and a whole lot cheaper than prime. From now on I will refer to the standing rib roast as Prime Rib. If you know a good butcher ask for as many ribs as you will need from the 1st five ribs. Since this was first attempt at making a prime rib I did a little research, and consulted a few friends before beginning.
The start of a really great meal
You will need:
1 (4.75 lb. approximately) two bone standing rib roast
Butchers twine
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Lawry's Seasoned Pepper
Rosemary (optional)
2-4 Garlic cloves, smashed
NOTE: Two servings per rib bone. So a two rib roast should serve 4 people. 
4.75 lb Choice Standing Rib Roast 2 ribs
In case you are unaware most people believe Lawry's Prime Rib is hands down the best in the country. So I went to their website and found that they posted their recipe. To see their recipe for Prime Rib and Spinning Salad and their sides go to their website at http://www.lawrysonline.com/lawrys-primerib/chicago.

Cut rib bones almost off but leaving attached
What goes with Prime Rib? First and foremost it's Yorkshire pudding or mashed potatoes, a spinning salad, creamed spinach or creamed corn. Let's not forget a horseradish cream sauce for dipping. It's all on Lawry's website. I trimmed off some of the fat on the fat cap. To stick to the Lawry's recipe somewhat, I generously seasoned the roast on all sides with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Pepper. Inside the flap is where you add your other treasures, spices and seasonings. A sprig of minced thyme and a couple of smashed garlic gloves under the flap works well. You can also plug a couple of cloves into the top before roasting.It's really up to you.

Seasoned with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Pepper
Once seasoned on all sides place the roast in a pan and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours. When ready to cook the roast remove it from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. 
Tie the rib bones in place using butchers twine
Lawry's will tell you to place a layer of rock salt on the bottom of the roasting pan and then a rack on top of that so that the meat and the salt never touch. 
I love a good salty crust but I'm trying to reduce my salt intake as much as possible. I also love au jus from the roast, so  I prepared a pan with a layer of cut carrots, celery and onions. This way you don't need a rack at all and the drippings from the roast flow over the vegetables to create a really great pan jus. Place the roast rib side down on the vegetable rack.
Ready for the oven
NOTE: You must have a really accurate meat thermometer. You don't want to blow this dinner by using a cheap or faulty thermometer. Place the tip of the thermometer in the center of the roast being careful not to let the tip of the probe touch a bone or be in a fat pocket.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the roast into the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes to start the browning process. Lower the temperature to 300°F. and continue to cook until the thermometer shows an internal temperature of 125°F - 130°F (approximately 3 hours.) Remove the roast from the oven and let it rest wrapped in foil for about 30 minutes. The roast will continue cooking during that time. If you cut it any sooner the jus will run out and be dry.
NOTE: If you want your meat more well done, let it go to 135°F before resting.      
Wrap roast in foil
Remove the vegetables and smash the juice out of them
To make the au jus you're going to need: 

1 teaspoon flour
1 cup beef stock (homemade preferred), heated
to taste salt
to taste pepper
Add some small onions if you like
Remove the vegetables from the pot and pour all of the juice into a fat separator. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with about a teaspoon of flour and scrape up all of the browned bits (fond). Slowly pour back the separated jus and a little of the fat while whisking the fond, removing all of the bits from the bottom. Au jus is not a gravy so don't look for a thick sauce. Strain the jus before serving.
Remove the strings, ribs and slice
Place some dinner and side plates in your oven while the meat is resting so they will be warm when ready to serve. Remove the strings and finish cutting off the ribs (bones) from the roast. You should get two generous servings cut from each bone. Place each serving on a plate and ladle some of the beef jus on the roast. Serve  the remaining hot au jus on the side in a gravy boat.
Hail to the King of Roasts. Can you hear me ROAR?
I have never made Yorkshire pudding for fear of liking it too much. I love creamed spinach so that is what we served on the side.
In my opinion Filet Mignon, Prime Rib and Beef Wellington are special occasion meals that I would be happy to enjoy only once a year. Yes we could have gone out with a couple of friends, park the car  and spend several hundred dollars for Prime Rib dinners, sides and desserts, plus cocktails and tips. Frankly I can't afford it! So we opted for inviting a couple of unsuspecting guests to try out my first ever homemade Prime Rib. It was, in my opinion, as good as or better than most restaurant's Prime Rib. Dinner at home for 4 is about $25.00 per person, including wine, sides, and a dessert.
Finally, Lawry's Prime Rib remains on my food bucket list and one day, if I win the lottery, that dream will become a reality. If anyone has been there and had the Prime Rib or has tips or shortcuts, perhaps a family recipe for Christmas Prime Rib, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

© TMelle 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chili Cheese Dip and Cowboy PIe

In my last post I told you about our family favorite Chili Cheese Dip. I'm not sure who originated this recipe (Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Hormel) but we have been making it for many years. My sister said that she gave it to us and my cousin said that she gave it to us. My question is who originated the chili cheese dip?  
Chili Cheese Dip
1   8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 15 oz. can Hormel No Beans Chili
8-19 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

as needed Tostito's
NOTE: You may use any one cheese or blended cheese for your dip.  
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread the softened cream cheese in the bottom of a 8"x8" casserole oven-proof dish. Remove the chili from the can and spread evenly over the layer of cream cheese. Sprinkle your choice of shredded cheese over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. Serve warm with Scoops or Tostitos.

DANGER: Let it cool slightly or you will be serving molten lava.
Cut a slit in wrap
Thaw in microwave
I received a comment from my cousin who told me to try her Cowboy Pie. Before making it I went on line and learned that there were many variations of this dish. Here is her recipe which is the chili cheese dip with a couple of new ingredients added to it.
Tamales cut into 1/4" circles
3-4 Supreme Beef Tamales, thawed, cut into 1/4" circles
1   8 oz. cream cheese, softened
as needed milk to make cream cheese more spreadable
1 15 oz. can Hormel No Beans Chili
as needed mild & hot chopped peppers
8-19 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

as needed Tostito's
NOTE: I used 1 (4.5 oz.) can Green Chile's, diced, drained  
Smash circles to make a tamale crust
Defrost the tamales and cut them into 1/4" circles (coins). Place them in the bottom of an 8"x8" casserole dish. Press the circles with a fork to make a tamale crust. 
Cream cheese not softened enough
I was unable to spread the cream cheese without first adding a little milk until it was a spreadable consistency.
Cream cheese spread over tamale crust
Spread the softened cream cheese over the top like you were frosting a sheet cake. Open the can of chili without any beans and spread over the cream cheese. 
NOTE: Whip the cream cheese with a little milk so it is spreadable.
Chili spread over cream cheese
While the recipe calls for mild and hot chopped peppers, I used one 4.5 oz. can of diced green chile's which I drained. I spread a layer of the chile's over the No Bean Chile.
Spread green chile's over the top
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Shred the cheese and sprinkle over the top of the chile's. Place the casserole dish into the preheated oven. Bake until the cheese melts and the chile is hot and bubbly. 
Serve with tortilla chips of Frito scoops
What game day snacks does your family like? I am looking for a great authentic homemade potato pancakes (Latkes) recipe. 
© TMelle 2014