Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 090211

  • Monday: Chipotle Carnitas Tacos: $6.84
  • Tuesday: Knowlwood Baby Burger combo on a coworker
  • Wednesday: Schlotzsky's Original Sandwich combo: $7.53
  • Thursday: Souplantation: on a coworker
  • Friday: EJ's BBQ Monique's Tri-Tip Sandwich with fries: $10.76

Total: $25.13
Total for the year: $1244.76

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 082611

  • Monday: Subway 6" Italian BMT on wheat with pepperjack, all of the veggies, pepper and splashes of oil and vinegar: $4
  • Tuesday: zpizza, small Provence Pizza: $10.72
  • Wednesday: Sushi Plantation on my boss
  • Thursday: June Bug Cafe: Turkey on Nine-Grain and chips: $7.12
  • Friday: Cicero's Pizzeria, Cicero's Special on gluten-free crust: $9.64

Total: $31.48
Total for the year: $1219.63

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rockin' B's Burrito Bandito's Carnitas Quesadilla

Like their burritos, Rockin' B's quesadillas are simply enormous. And this one sort of reminded me of the ones I miss so much from Grand Rapids, where Tacos el Ganadero cranks out some super kick-ass quesadillas with yummy shrimp and chihuahua cheese and a nicely spiced sauce...well, let's stay on track. Let's just say I've given my monologue on those quesadillas previously.

I opted for carnitas for the meat in my Rockin' B's quesadilla and it was loaded with a slew of toppings of my choice (pickled jalapenos, cilantro y onion, I forget what else) plus a ridiculous quantity of the cheese of my choice.

After warming on the flat-top, the quesadilla was sliced, not into pizza-style slices you might find in other places, but sliced like those quesadillas from back home: first in half and then across that half into sections so there were only four small, pointy slices and four lengthy, rectangular ones. The original cut halves were piled on top of each other so that the juices and grease from the upper half oozed over the bottom half.

This one slice was what remained from my half of a leftover quesadilla. I ate 3/4's of the leftovers cold before microwaving this one and snapping a photo. Yep, I'm a glutton.

Rockin' B's Burrito Bandito Quesadilla, enough to eat twice, about $7.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 081911

  • Monday: Knowlwood Baby Best Cheeseburger combo: $5.70
  • Tuesday: Jack-in-the-Box Southwest Chix Salad: $6
  • Wednesday: Carl's Jr Super Nachos with beef: $4
  • Thursday: Rockin' B's Bandito Burrito quesadilla: on a coworker
  • Friday: BJ's Brewery: Gluten-free 5-Meat Combo pizza and lunch for a coworker: $20.02 + some for a toke

Total: $40.72
Total for the year: $1188.15

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bada Bing Bada Banged Potatoes

Bada Bing Bada Banged Potatoes
adapted from allrecipes
click to print

2 lbs small new potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp melted butter
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of water.

Cover; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; gently cook potatoes until tender but still firm, about 20-30 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile combine basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Combine the seasonings with the Parmesan cheese.

Mix together the olive oil and butter in a second medium bowl. Add the boiled potatoes and toss well to coat.

Pour the seasoned Parmesan over the oil-coated potatoes and combine to cover each potato well.

Place potatoes on a greased, rimmed baking sheet.

Smash the warm potatoes with the spices/cheese bowl to flatten slightly and break the skin. Allow 1/2" between each potato disk. Scoop out any remaining spicy cheese in the bowl onto the potato disks.

Roast potatoes in the preheated oven until lightly browned and slightly crispy; about 30 minutes.

Crispy on the edges, tender in the middle, cheesy and herby with a little zip from the red pepper? Ding, dang, these potatoes are good! I really should've used a potato masher to squash the potatoes to increase the crispy edges while giving a more rustic look like those Crash Hot Potatoes, but it worked out ok.

  • potatoes: $2.79
  • Parmesan cheese: $1
  • everything else: SWAG, $1
Total: $5.79  

Super Simple Roast Butterflied Chicken

The leg of a butterflied chicken, the carrots from the rack, and Bada Bing Bada Banged Potatoes

Nearly two years ago I tried Mondi's Super Simple Chicken recipe and thought it would do well as a recipe for a whole chicken. Because I'm on a butterflying chicken kick (I think I just like cracking the keel bone out), now's the time to put Mondi's recipe to the whole chicken test.

Unfortunately, I didn't coordinate my potato side dish well and my chicken leg was toward room temperature before I was ready to eat. At least you know what the skin will look like once it's cool.

Super Simple Roast Butterflied Chicken
adapted from Mondi's Super Simple Chicken
click to print

1 whole chicken
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic salt
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butterfly the bird.

Combine butter, basil and garlic salt in a small bowl.

Drizzle about half of the buttery mixture over the interior of the bird and spread it to cover.

Flip the bird, drizzle the remaining buttery mixture over the skin and smear it around to coat, being sure to get under the wings and in the skin crevices between the breasts and legs.

Transfer chicken to a roasting pan. I used a baking sheet (spritzed with olive oil from the MISTO) with carrots on it to serve as a roasting rack.

Bake at 350°F for approximately 1.25-1.5 hours, or until golden and juice from a pierced thigh runs clear, or until internal temperature reaches 170°F.

Let stand 10-15 minutes before carving.

While prep was really simple, the chicken didn't turn out quite as flavorful as it did back in January, '10. The original recipe called for four bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. When I tried it the first time, I simply cut the recipe in half. This time around, I used the original quantity of seasonings when I think I should've added some more.

That I was using the same garlic salt as I did over a year ago, probably purchased around the time I bought my MISTO three years ago, probably didn't help. And my dry basil wasn't the freshest either. I'd just cracked the container of dry basil I bought from Costco late January '10!! Learn a lesson from me: buy your dry seasonings in small quantities for faster turn-over, particularly if you're trending into using fresh. I tend to fall into the trap of "bulk is better" and that's not always true.

Yes, I'll be cleaning out my pantry and buying smaller quantities of everything. Meanwhile, you should try this chicken.  

Food Plan and Grocery List, 081411

This week I'm just going to roast a butterflied chicken and maybe do some Bada-Binged Bada Banged Potatoes.

Grower's Direct:
  • green seedless grapes: $4.41/2.61 lb
  • cherries: $5.87/2.95 lb
  • asparagus: $2.21/1.11 lb
  • pineapple: $4.54/3.52 lb
  • carrots: $0.59/1.20 lb
  • garlic bulb: $0.45/0.18 lb
  • baby potatoes: $2.79
  • TOTAL: $20.86
  • Private Selection parmesan cheese: $3.99/8 oz
  • Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Chai Tea: $5.99
  • Sanderson Farms broiler chicken: $2.83/4.21 lb
  • TOTAL: $12.81
Grand Total: $33.67
Total for the year: $961.50

How to Butterfly a Chicken

I showed this technique once before, briefly, but the images sucked. So let's see it again, eh?

Rinse a whole chicken inside and out with cool water, place it on a plate lined with about 3-4 sheets of paper towel, throw a couple more paper towel on top of the bird and stick a couple in it's gut hole.

Once dry, I usually let the paper soak the water about 15 minutes, flip the bird so it is on it's breast. Pat it down some more if necessary and don't forget to remove the paper from the cavity.

Once on it's breast, back-side up, the bird usually has one good knob to grab, the tail. This bird had a lot of neck sticking out. I anticipated the neck would be slippery so I spun the bird so the leg end was toward me before cutting the backbone/spine out of the bird with kitchen scissors.

I mentioned before that you want to stay as close to the spine as possible to avoid big bones like thigh and wing bones. The backbone is not very wide and the only things you should be cutting through are flesh, skin and ribs. If it seems you've come across a really tough bone to cut, you probably have. Scootch the scissors in toward the center of the bird a little and proceed.

Place a palm against the flesh on each side of the cavity and press outward and down to spread the bird flat.

I jumped the gun a little and didn't collect an image of the next part. But there will be a keel bone right there between the breasts in your bird.

Take a knife and slice straight down the center of the bird, straight down the keel bone and cartilage. Don't try to cut the bird in half, just open the membrane to gain access to the keel bone. Flex the bird so it is "more open" which will cause the keel to be forced out of the membrane. Press a thumb against one side of the keel bone, insert an index finger on the top (wing side) of the bird and pull the keel upward. It should pop out with just a little effort. You won't hurt the bird, so work it a little if you have to.

This is my butterflied bird, keel bone removed.

Alton Brown illustrates butterflying in less than a minute in this video from minutes 1:23-2:30. I highly recommend you watch!

Here's the keel bone and where it used to be in the bird. Don't sweat trying to remove the cartilage, that's easy to slice when the bird is cooked.

Removing the keel isn't crucial, but it does make carving the bird into quarters post cooking a lot easier as it's the only bone dividing the two halves of the bird. Check out the same video above at 8:50 minutes to see Alton carve his finished bird. If keel bone removal grosses you out, just leave it in. No biggie, you'll just have to remove it after it's cooked.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 081211

  • Monday: Las Golondrinas chicken soft tacos: on my boss
  • Tuesday: Island's chicken soft tacos: on a coworker
  • Wednesday: Carl's Jr. Low-Carb Six-Dollar Cheeseburger: $5
  • Thursday: I forgot to log this day, SWAG $5
  • Friday: Schlotszky's Chicken and Pesto Pizza with a Dr. Pepper: $8.17

Total: $18.17
Total for the year: $1147.43

Sunday, August 7, 2011

St. Louis Pork Steak Sliders

I've never been a fan of a BBQ sandwich. I'm not sure what it is about them that turns me off -- wait, that's not true. I don't care for the fact that they are basically meat and bread. I like sandwiches with crispy lettuce and juicy tomatoes and tangy pickles and nutty cheese and sweet ketchup and spicy mustard and peppery bacon. A BBQ sandwich lacks, well, all of that. It's like eating Manwich.

As I'm keen to trying new things, after all, palates do change over time, including non-discerning ones like mine, I gave this recipe a go.

St. Louis Pork Steak Sliders
click to print

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dry mustard
1 12-oz. beer (say Black Toad)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 c chili sauce
1/3 c molasses
1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

4 c water
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf, broken
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
4 lb. bone-in thin-cut pork shoulder steaks or pork loin blade chops (scant 1/2 inch thick)
16 small hamburger-style slider buns, split

Cook onion in oil in large saucepan over medium heat 4 minutes or until onion is softened.

Add garlic and mustard; cook and stir 30 seconds.

Stir in all remaining barbecue sauce ingredients;

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly reduced and flavors are blended, stirring occasionally.

(Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat before using.)

Heat broiler. Bring all pork ingredients except pork and buns to a simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; place near broiler.

Broil pork 4 minutes, turning once.

Dunk pork in vinegar mixture.

Grill an additional 20 minutes, turning and dunking in vinegar mixture every 4 minutes.

I'd saved us both the hassle and reps of turning and dunking. Just know the image above is at 24 minutes.

Brush pork with barbecue sauce; grill an additional 1 minute per side.

Pork brushed with sauce, broiled 1 minute, and flipped.

 Place in large pot, along with remaining sauce.

Simmer, covered, over low heat 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until pork is fork-tender and sauce is slightly reduced.

Remove and discard bones; shred pork. (Pork can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.)

Serve pork and sauce in buns.

Pork piled on high and smooshed between the buns.

This recipe required a lot more work I didn't realize was required before starting. Flipping the pork in the broiler every 2 minutes and rinsing it every 4 minutes for 24 minutes was over the top. I was tired of that real quick.

Putting the broiled pork in a Dutch oven for 70 minutes on the stove-top was a mistake. It should've gone into the oven. I found that the pork sitting in the bottom of the Dutch oven was becoming blackened, which required stirring/flipping, in turn requiring lengthened cooking time. And really? The pork could've stood a longer braising time.

Tastewise, the saucy pork was decent. Honestly though, the effort required wasn't suitable for the outcome. Maybe I should've put some lettuce on it. I don't think I'll make the effort to do this again.

  • onion: $0.26
  • garlic: $0.28
  • beer: $1.13
  • tomato sauce: $0.59
  • chili sauce: $3.19
  • pork shoulder blade steaks: $11.13
  • Sara Lee slider buns: $2.99/12
Total: $20.57 or $1.29 for each of 16 sliders.