MEAT ME Blog Experience

Well… I did something a little crazy last night. I filmed myself cooking with the fabulous Sean Rice at MEAT ME Blog. And it was amazing! I have never done something like this before, and was incredibly nervous to start. But I guess if you have great people around you doing great things, you can be great yourself.

The video and blog post for what we made will be coming up soon. I made a Panna Cotta with a Habanero Pepper Bacon Candy to go on top. It was probably one of the best things I have ever thought up. The milky creamy Panna Cotta balanced out the spicy roasted Habanaero peppers, and the salty sweet bacon just topped off the flavor profile. Dare I say perfect man dessert??

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What You Should Be Making At Tailgates

Life Update!!! Sorry I have been so busy; school, work, and internships have taken over my life.

If you know anything about me, football season is one of my favorites because of the tailgating. I LOVE eating what everyone brings and inventing some creative to make and take with me. My latest creation was a Macaroni and Cheese pie topped with a bacon lattice that my friend Janene thought up. Unfortunately, before we could take a bite, it slipped off of my car and shattered everywhere. CATASTROPHE! I did take a before, and after-tragedy picture.

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The Most Addicting Zebra Popcorn

When I go to sports games, I look forward to eating delicious snacks, like Zebra popcorn from Popcornopolis. It really is so good. So for the first game of this Bruin Football season, I figured, why not try to create the tasty treat myself.

1 cup popcorn kernels, popped (yields about 8-10 cups of popped popcorn)
1 cup caramel
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tbs butter

Making the Zebra Popcorn is mostly about assembly, but the components take time. You have to make the caramel candy when you plan to use it. The product is hot, and will harden on the popcorn once poured from the pot you made it in.

The popcorn is easy to make though; make it fresh, not from a microwave bag. You can find my popcorn instructions here.

To start, take your popcorn and lay it on wax paper on top of two cookie sheets. One will  be covered in caramel and the other in chocolate.
If your popcorn is NOT salted, make sure to salt it!

For instructions on how to make caramel candy, click here. You want to make sure you make the version posted in the original recipe. You will see some variations at the bottom of the post, and can ignore those. Once your caramel is done, pour it onto one of the pans full of popcorn. It will harden almost instantly so drizzle the best you can. Move around the pop corn a bit to harden it. Leave it to the side.

For the chocolate, take your semi sweet chips and butter and melt the two together in the microwave. Drizzle the warm chocolate on top of the other pan of popcorn. Smooth it around if you have to.

Let both pans of popcorn cool. You may even put them in the fridge to speed up the process. Once done, combine the two pans in a large bowl. The caramel may be chunky, in which case just break the candy into smaller pieces.

The two flavors should integrate in every bite. Totally addicting and totally delicious!

How to Make Caramel

Caramel is really easy to make, but I think people shy away from it because it is a little tempermental. It just takes a little bit of patience but NOTHING compares to warm fresh caramel. I am going to show you the basics and you can do with it what you want. I will also tell you how to vary the recipe a bit.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 stick butter

The first thing that has to be done is to grab a small pot. Caramel is best made in smaller batches, and I would say the amount of ingredients above make a good cup of caramel.

Place the pot on the stove and turn it up high. Pour the sugar into the pot. Wait about 20 seconds to let the sugar start to get hot and then all the water. Stir the ingredients together and get it dissolving.

Boil the mixture. Start on medium for a few minutes and then reduce the heat to medium low. Stir occasionally in the beginning (only a few times) and then don’t touch it. This is where people don’t want to put in the work; caramel has to be watched because it can go from white, to brown, to burned really fast. This will boil, about 10 minutes before you start to see color.

When the color starts to turn brown, watch it until it becomes a rich brown color. Once this takes place,the caramel is done, so add the butter.

Stir the mixture until all the butter is melted and the caramel stirs easily. Remove from heat. Pour onto parchment paper or a the other surface you intend to place the caramel on while it’s hot. Once you have used the caramel, fill the pot with water and boil it immediately to make sure to clean it, otherwise it will become much harder later to do. I usually add some vinegar or salt to the pot as well to help boil the sugar off.

VARIATIONS

-If you want to ONLY made caramel candy, do not add the butter. Pour the burnt sugar onto your surface and eat the pure cooked down sugar. Adding the butter gives it that creamier texture (don’t add too much though; the caramel will be oily).

-If you want caramel that does not harden, like caramel to put on ice cream or drizzle on cakes, add the butter but also add about the same amount of half and half (if you use 1/2 stick butter also add 4tbs of half and half, etc). This will keep the caramel viscous and pliable.

-If you want to make salted caramel, add salt to whatever recipe you do, except for caramel candy. Just sprinkle salt on the top of that. But salt goes really well in caramel that is pliable, like for ice cream. I make it all the time…

How To Roast A Chicken

I love chicken. A LOT. And I love Roasting a chicken, you guessed it, A LOT!

1 whole chicken
1 stick butter, unsalted (olive oil will also work)
salt and pepper
seasoning: chicken rub, your own creation, or my favorite, herbs de Provence

Roasted chicken is one of my favorite chicken dishes to eat, but making a roast chicken can have a number of uses. You get an immediate dinner out of it, plus the leftovers can he made into virtually anything, like my Italian Chicken Panini or Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To start, place your chicken on a cutting board, remove the innards, and dry the chicken skin. Make sure the board is dry or else your flavors you add will not stick. You can keep the insides for gravy or stock flavoring, or you can eat them. I am not a lover of the chicken insides to dine on, but some people are.  Once the chicken is dry, drizzle some olive oil at the bottom of a pan and place the chicken on the pan.

Here, you can do one of two things. Either rub softened butter all over the chicken, in every place visible, or pour melted butter on top of the bird. You need about one stick. Once the bird is coated, sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

For this chicken, I decided to go with this sweet and smokey Turkey rub my mom had just gotten me. No matter what seasoning you use, essentially rub your entire chicken with it, covering every possible centimeter of the outside skin.

Roast the chicken at 375 for about 45 minutes. Once the chicken has been roasting for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven. Take a spoon and baste the bird with your butter, chicken fat mixture that has collected in your pan. Make sure to cover every inch of the bird.

Roast the chicken for another 25-40 minutes. This depends on the pounds of your bird. To tell if the chicken is done, cut at the thigh. If the juices run clear, and not red/pinkish, the chicken is cooked through.

You can keep the drippings to make a pan sauce. I also like to spoon a few tablespoons of the butter over my chicken pieces I have cut to add some juice to my dinner plate. Store the leftovers in the fridge and use them throughout the week.

*Sidenote: This chicken I roasted upside down for the sole reason I knew I would have leftovers and wanted to keep the breasts extra juicy. If you are going to eat the whole bird that night, roast it the other way (leg bone ends faced down and tucked in). The process is the same either way.*

Italian Chicken Panini

Warm, gooey, hot sandwiches are one of my favorites because they take a lunch food and turn it into something else more sophisticated. The other day, I roasted a whole chicken which basically feeds me throughout the week. I can get about 6 good meals from a whole chicken. In the long run, it saves you a lot of money to do the whole bird than buy individual cuts. I digress…
This sandwich is perfect for a late night meal when you want something filling, but have little time. It is also great for kid. I would even bet these could be made for a tailgate or outside BBQ slapped on the grill and pressed down.

2 chicken breasts, roasted or grilled
14 marinated Mozzarella balls
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 half bulb roasted garlic (about 1/8 cup)
1 tbs dried basil or 2 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 cup spinach
4 Slices Rosemary Garlic bread or Sourdough bread
olive oil
salt and pepper

Plug in your panini grill and get it hot. Start by laying out all 4 pieces of bread. Drizzle them with olive olive. Smear the roasted garlic onto two pieces of bread and top with the tomatoes. For tips on how to roast your own garlic, check out my post on making a cheese platter. You can also find items like these pre-made at stores like Whole Foods and Gelsons.

This sandwich is really all about layering. If you are like me , you have most of these items laying around in your house or pantry. The most complicated part of this would be the chicken. I would suggest grilling the breasts or roasting them. For me, I had roasted a chicken the night before, so it was just a matter of me slicing the breasts off the bird. Once the breasts are done, cut them into strips.

Top the tomatoes with the Mozzarella balls. Make sure to evenly space them out.

Lay the strips of chicken on top of the Mozzarella on both sandwich halves. Add the basil, and a salt and pepper. If you have roasting olive oil left over from the garlic you made, or some of the sun-dried tomato oil, you can drizzle a little bit of it on the chicken. It adds a great dimension of flavor.

Top each sandwich with half a cup of spinach and the other piece of bread.

Drizzle the bottom of your grill with a little olive oil. Add the sandwich. Drizzle the top piece of bread with olive oil as well and close the grill. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melty and the tops of the bread are brown.

Remove the sandwich from the heat and slice in half. Time to grub!

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How to Make Popcorn Not in a Microwave

If I told you you could make fresh popcorn for the same amount of time it took to microwave a bag, would you?

I don’t like microwave popcorn. I think it tastes fake and gross, plus I can’t control what does into it. In fact, not only is it as fast, tastes better, and can be better for you, it is CHEAPER. Win Win…

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup vegetable oil
salt

Place a large pot on the stove and turn the heat up high. Pour in your popcorn kernels.

Once the kernels are in, add the oil. Move the mixture around so that each kernel is coated by oil.

Cover the pot. You should begin to hear popping. To pop the whole pot, it takes about 3-5 minutes, but varies. Listen to the popping and shake the pot a few times. When you hear the popping dwindle and result in only a few pops, turn off the heat and remove the popcorn from the heat. You do not want to burn the bottom.

Pour the hot popcorn into a bowl and salt it. Make sure to toss around the popcorn so each bit gets a little bit of salt before you add more.

See, easy and delicious. I promise you fresh popcorn tastes worlds better than something in a bag. This way you can also dress it up any way you like. Try adding a little cayenne for a kick. Cinnamon and sugar is also delicious. Or my personal favorite, pepper and Parmesan cheese. YUM! Movie night just got a whole lot better.