Category Archives: Cooking

Beef Teryaki Stirfry w/ Udon Noodles

Whenever I find myself in a Noodles and Company, my go to dish is the Japanese Pan Noodles. It also seems like something that would not be too terribly hard to make a passable recreation at home. Here’s my first attempt:

Ingredients
1 pound beef stir fry meat, thinly sliced into strips (top round or flank steak)
1 package frozen stir fry vegetables
28 oz precooked Udon style noodles
Teryaki sauce/marinade
sesame seeds
sesame oil
green onions

I kind of just winged this recipe without really measuring any of the ingredients. I used precooked Udon noodles because that is all that my grocery stocks.

Preheat the sesame oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Stir fry the beef long enough brown it without overcooking it, about 10 minutes. Remove beef from the skillet and drain off the excess fat. If necessary add a little more sesame oil to the skillet and stir fry the vegetables until they are heated through. Stir the noodles into the skillet and add some teryaki sauce. Stirfry a few minutes and add the beef back in. Stir in some chopped green onions.

Top with some sesame seeds. Was really easy to make and quite tasty. Although next time, I am going to try using fresh vegetables.

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Applewood Smoked Turkey

This procedure was my experimental test run for Thanksgiving.  I used a twelve pound fresh turkey.  If you use a frozen turkey, follow the recommended instructions for properly thawing the turkey before using it.  That is step #1 in avoiding Salmonella poisoning.  My turkey was also pre-brined.  If you buy a turkey that isn’t already prepared like this and you want to brine it, it isn’t too hard to find out how by conducting a simple Google search.

I use a Brinkman charcoal grill/smoker.  This recipe can also be made using a normal charcoal/gas grill.  The key is to just be able to cook the turkey over indirect heat at a temperature of as close to 325 F that you can get.  It’s up to you to figure out how best to achieve this with your particular setup. You will need a good grill thermometer (placed at the grate level where the turkey is sitting.  If you have a thermometer already built into the lid of the grill, ignore it) and a food thermometer.  The only way you can be sure if the turkey is properly cooked is by checking the meat temperature itself.  However long that takes will vary from turkey to turkey, from grill setup to grill setup, and a whole host of other factors.

Preparing the turkey

If your turkey has one of those plastic, popup thermometers yank it out.  Remove the plastic contraption binding the legs together. Remove the neck and the bag of other innards from the inside of the turkey cavity.  Save everything but the liver. They will go into the gravy.  Cut the wingtips off at the first joint and save them for the gravy.  Cut off the “pope’s nose”.  This is the large, fleshy protuberance at the bottom of the cavity that was binded up in that plastic contraption with the legs.  Trim off any excess fat that is around either opening of the cavity.

Preparing the wet rub for the turkey:

Simon and Garfunkel’s Spice Blend ingredients:

1 Tbsp. dried crushed parsley
2 Tbsp. dried crushed sage
1 Tbsp. dried crushed rosemary
1 Tbsp. dried crushed thyme
1 Tbsp. dried crushed oregano
1 Tbsp. dried crushed basil
1 Tbsp. dried crushed bay leaf
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. sugar

Add all the ingredients to a blender and pulse for several minutes to achieve as fine of a powdered mix as possible.  Transfer powder to a jar or ziploc bag for storage.

Make a wet rub by combining a tablespoon or two of the spice mix with the same amount of olive oil.  If possible let the wet rub sit for a couple of hours to let the oil break down the cells of the herbs to solubilize more of the flavors. We want to liberally apply the wet rub, underneath the skin so it doesn’t have to fight to penetrate through it in order to contact the muscle.  I just did this for the breast meat and didn’t bother trying to figure out how to do it for the legs and the thighs.  Apply the remaining wet rub all over skin of the entire turkey.  This will help to get the skin nice and crispy.

Instead of stuffing the turkey, place a few aromatic ingredients in the cavity. Stuffing the turkey will just block the smoke from entering the cavity, drastically increase your cooking time, and make it difficult to get an accurate reading on the overall doneness of the meat when you check it with a thermometer.

Aromatics:

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2-3 sprigs of fresh sage
1 onion, ends chopped off but the skin left on, quartered
The peel of one orange

Place these ingredients inside the cavity, making sure there is still plenty of space for heat and smoke to penetrate in.  Take four pieces of aluminum foil that are large enough to wrap around the tips of the drumsticks and the wings.  Coat the insides with olive oil.  Wrap the ends of the drumsticks and wings with the foil.  This will prevent them from getting overcooked.  The foil will be removed after about an hour so the skin can get as equally brown and crispy as the rest of the bird.

Preparing the gravy

We will place a drip pan below the turkey while it cooks to catch all of the drippings which will then be turned into a gravy.

Gravy ingredients

3 qts water
Turkey neck, gizzards, wingtips that you removed earlier
1 cup apple juice
2 carrots, cut into 2 inch lengths
2 celery stalks, cut into two inch lengths
2 onions, ends chopped off, skin left on, cut into quarters
1 Tbsp, dried sage leaves
1 Tbsp, dried thyme leaves
2 whole dried bay leaves

Place all of the ingredients in a pan that is safe to put in your smoker/grill.  I used a 9×13 disposable aluminum foil pan.  This pan will sit under the turkey to catch all of the drippings during the smoking process.

Light the charcoals/preheat gas grill to achieve as close a temperature to 325 F as possible on the cooking grate where the turkey will be sitting.  When the grate is hot, scrape off any residue that is already on it to prevent unwanted flavors from dripping into the gravy pan.  Place gravy pan below the grate that will hold the turkey.  Place a couple of handfuls of applewood chips in a pouch made of aluminum foil.  Make sure to either poke holes in it, or leave the ends open so the smoke can escape.  Place the pouch directly on the coals/heat source.

Place the turkey on the grate and close the smoker/grill lid.  Try not to disturb it for an hour, but you still want to monitor the grill temperature.  My turkey was 12 pounds and took about 2.5 hours to cook.  You are aiming for a meat thermometer reading of 160 F deep in the breast meat.  After an hour of smoking, remove the foil from the drumsticks and wings.  During the smoke, you will probably need to keep adding coals and wood chips as necessary to keep your cooking temp high enough and replenish the smoke supply.

When the meat temp is close to 160F, dump the aromatics in the turkey cavity into the gravy pan.  When the turkey is done, remove from the smoker and let it rest for at least 15 minutes prior to carving it.  Pour the contents of the gravy pan through a strainer into a large sauce pan and let it stand.  You can either use the thin gravy as is, or you can thicken it to make a more traditional style gravy.

Thick gravy

4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup liquid from the gravy pan

Melt the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour and keep stirring, keeping the mixture smooth.  Keep doing this for a couple of minutes.  Slowly pour in the liquid from the gravy pan, while continuing to stir.  Remove from the heat and stir a couple more minutes.

What a Crock(pot) Beef Stew

3 lbs. cubed beef stew meat
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4-5 carrots, chopped
12-15 yukon gold potatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 cups boiling water
1 package (1 oz) dry onion soup mix
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp. butter
1 large vidalia onion, thinly wedged.
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. flour
1 can sweet peas

Place cubed stew meat in a large ziploc bag or tupperware container.  Add 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp salt and toss to evenly coat the meat.  Preheat olive oil in a skillet on medim high heat.  Cook meat in the skillet until it is just evenly browned on all sides.  Transfer meat to crock pot.  Add potatoes, carrots, parsley, pepper, and garlic powder.

Melt butter in the same skillet, on medium heat.  Saute sliced onions until carmelized.  Add to crock pot.  Add 1/4 cup red wine to the skillet to deglaze.  Scrape the skillet to loosen any bits of deliciousness still stuck there.  Pour over the meat and vegetables.

Add 2 cups boiling water to the dry soup mix.  Add Worcestershire sauce to soup mix and pour over the meat and vegetables.

Put the lid on the crock pot and crank it up to high for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, turn heat to low and cook for another 6 hours.

At the end of 6 hours, add can of peas.  Add 2 Tbsp. flour to 1/4 cup warm water and thoroughly mix.  Stir into the stew.  Let stew cook another 15 minutes with the lid off to allow the gravy to thicken.

“Better than Wendy’s” Chili

This afternoon, I started getting a craving for chili.  While perusing recipes on the internet to try, I came across one that claimed to be a very close facsimile of the kind they serve at Wendy’s.  I thought it would be interesting to find out whether or not it really resembled it.  But it looked to be lacking a couple of ingredients that I feel are necessary if I am actually going to go to the trouble to make my own chili.  So I made some improvements*.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. ground beef
1 yellow onion, chopped.
2 (14 oz.) cans dark red kidney beans
1 (14 oz.) can pinto beans
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 (3 oz.) cans of diced green chili peppers
1/4 cup diced celery
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. celery salt.
1 1/2 ground black pepper
1 cup water

Brown the ground beef on medium heat in a large pot.  Drain off the excess fat.  Saute the chopped onion in a bit of olive oil in a separate skillet.  Add onions to the beef.  Stir in all of the other ingredients and cook on medium-high just long enough until the chili starts to boil.   Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for about 2 hours, stirring frequently. I took the cover off the last 40 minutes to achieve a thicker consistency.

Tasted like Wendy’s, but better!

Jambalaya

This is the batch size I normally make for 2-3 people and should give you plenty of leftovers..

2 pounds turkey polska kielbasa. (or andouille, if you prefer it spicier)
1 green bell pepper
1 Vidalia onion
2 cups white rice
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes.
1 14 oz can tomato sauce

Seasoning for Rice:
2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp beef bouillion granules
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp oregeno
1 bay leaf

Mix seasonings and rice in a bowl, add to large pot.  Add can of diced tomatoes (drained) and tomato sauce.  Add 4 cups of water and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Dice the onion and pepper and saute in olive oil in a large skillet until lightly carmelized.  Remove them from the skillet.  Slice the sausages and brown them in the skillet.
When rice is done, let sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid. Remove bay leaf.  Mix the sausage, onions, and peppers into the rice.  Done.  Voila!

Orange Pop BBQ Chicken

For the Orange Pop BBQ Sauce:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
One 12 oz. can Sunkist orange soda
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup molasses
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika

To make the sauce, add the can of orange soda to a medium saucepan.  At this point, you can choose to reduce the soda to thicken it up prior to adding the rest of the ingredients.  Just simmer on medium heat to your desired thickness.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer.   Sauce will thicken the longer it cooks.  When your desired thickness has been achieved, remove the sauce from the heat.

Set up the coals on your grill to cook with indirect heat.  On my grill, I use two piles of coals at each end.  I light them in one large pile and then divide them to each side.  The chicken is then cooked on the “cool spot” in the middle of the grill.  This helps to cook the chicken evenly with out overly charring the outside or drying it out.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  When the coals are ready, place the chicken breasts on the hot part of the grill, directly over the coals, for about 2-3 minutes on each side to develop a nice sear.  Move the chicken breasts to the “cool” part of the grill in the center, and close the grill lid.  Cook about 20 minutes.  Flip the breasts over and cook another 20 minutes.  Baste the chicken breasts with the bbq sauce and cook another 5-10 minutes to carmelize the sauce.