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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pumpkin cheesecake recipe


I decided to combine a couple of my favorite desserts this Thanksgiving and was pleasantly surprised with the results of my first pumpkin cheesecake (or cheesecake for that matter)  Though the prospect of making a cheesecake may sound daunting it is actually pretty simple to make.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to make homemade chicken stock


With the holidays coming up and a half a rotisserie chicken from Costco in the fridge on the verge of having to be thrown out, I decided to try out making my own chicken stock.  Of course you can buy this stuff in a can or carton but it will never have the rich flavor by doing it yourself.  As an added bonus it gives your whole house the aroma of Thanksgiving turkey in the oven as a little foreshadow of things to come.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemade frozen pumpkin ice cream recipe


Looking for more ways to use up some of my pumpkin puree and decided to make some pumpkin ice cream, though technically this should be called pumpkin frozen custard, either way it tastes great.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homemade pumpkin bread recipe


After having an abundance of cooked pumpkin after over purchasing on a couple of organic pie pumpkins I decided to make some pumpkin bread, here is the recipe I have had great success with.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Homemade pumpkin pie from scratch (no cans)


While out picking out pumpkins for my daughters I saw some nice organic heirloom pumpkins (Winter Luxury Pie) and decided to try my hand in using a couple of these to make a pumpkin pie instead of using canned pumpkin.  One note make sure you are using a pumpkin labeled as a sugar or pie pumpkin, using your standard jack-o-lantern variety will lead to very watery and less velvety pie.  So in the end, not only does this give you a better tasting pie, but given a organic pumpkin cost $6 a can you also save quite a bit of money with just a little additional work.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

First pork shoulder on the BBQ


I picked up a Brinkmann Smoke’N Grill Charcoal Smoker (El Cheapo Brinkmann aka ECB) to make some chipotle peppers but after seeing a Labor Day sale on pork shoulders (aka pork butt) I decided it was time to get this baby worked in.

Whether it is gardening or cooking I am never one to jump right into something new without thorough research so after some data gathering this is what I found:

  • Have to cook low and slow.  Unlike better quality of meats shoulder/briskets are loaded with connective tissue given these are the main working muscles of the beast.  As a result cooking these fast will result in some very tough meat.  Alternatively cooking at a lower temperature over a longer period of time will result in delicious tender meat.
  • 200-225 is the ideal range to cook your meat for optimum tenderness.
  • After an internal temperature 145F your meat can no longer build a thicker smoke ring.
  • Meat is done when the internal temperature is at least 185F

Monday, July 5, 2010

Homemade White Chicken Soup Recipe


When you think about “homemade” it is hard to not to think about some good ole homemade chicken soup.  I have made chicken soup from scratch but normally cut some corners by using some precooked chicken and skipping the whole chicken stock process.  This time I decided to do things closer to “how my grandma would make it”.

Homemade Chicken Stock Recipe


  • 4-5 lbs of chicken breasts (skin on)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 large onion (peeled and cut in half)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 celery stock broken in half (3 stalks set aside)
  • 1/2 lb of baby carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • chicken bouillon powder or concentrate to make 6 cups of chicken broth (about 1/4 cup chicken bouillon powder)
  • Add chicken to pot and fill with water to just cover chicken
  • Cook over high heat to bring water to boil, reduce heat and cover then simmer for 30 minutes
  • Skim off and fat floating on top (with chicken breasts there shouldn’t be too much here)
  • Place remaining ingredients into pot and simmer for 1 hour


  • Strain solids and dispose everything but chicken which when cool enough to handle cut into bite size pieces


Homemade White Chicken Soup Recipe

  • Homemade chicken stock (see above)
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots (sliced)
  • 3 stalks celery (halved and sliced)
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • Cooked chicken (chopped in bite size pieces)
  • Wide egg noodles
  • Return stock back to pot and add carrots and celery to pot.   Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.


  • Add the chicken and parsley to the pot and serve over cooked egg noodles.

Note: You can also add the uncooked at the same time as chicken/parsley and boil for 10 minutes (or until noodles are soft) though this is way to much for our family to eat in 1-2 sittings so we normally freeze about 2/3 of this for a few easy meals later.

Last Minute Dinner: BBQ Chicken Pizza


I have not always been great at planning a heads and here is a perfect example.  With a quick scan of the refrigerator and bread box I found the following original creation that turned out pretty good.

For the crust I went with these new Oroweat Sandwich Thins, they are only 100 calories for both sides and seemed pretty pizza crustlike.


Next I applied a thin layer of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and topped some BBQ chicken leftover from the previous day which I chopped up into small pieces.

Last I sprinkled some Italian and cheddar cheese on top and baked on a cookie sheet for about 8-9 minutes at 350 degree F until cheese is thoroughly melted.

I chose to skip the ranch drizzled on the top, but my wife said it tasted great.  Sometimes improvisation works out pretty good anyone else have a similar story for a 5-10 minute last minute dinner?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July


Simple little cake made from angel food cake, strawberries, blueberries and a bit of whipped cream.  This tastes great and though not completely guiltless, I know I can do much worse…

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How to grill a steak


There are many ways to grill a good steak, here is my proven way to grill a great steak.  Just as a warning this method takes a little longer to cook so plan ahead, you don’t want your hungry “customers” forcing you to speed up the process resulting in a lesser steak.

  1. Season steak generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper on both sides of steak.
  2. Leave steak on counter to come up to room temperature and let seasoning get into the meat for 20 minutes.  Do not skip this step it is critical…
  3. Add water soaked wood chips to disposable aluminum small bread loaf pan and place below grill grate.
  4. Close grill and preheat grill on high
  5. Add meat to the grill and close cover, after 5 minutes flip over the steak and close cover for another 5 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to low and move steak to upper rack and close grill.  Check every 5 minutes to see if the meat is at the proper temperature for how you want it cooked.
    1. Rare: 145F
    2. Medium: 160F
    3. Well: 170F
  7. Once you hit the right temperature place the meat on a cutting board to cool for 10 minutes.  This is when things get hard, you are hungry you can smell the steak but if you cut into the meat early much of the delicious juices will be lost.  Trust me it is worth the weight.
  8. Enjoy


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spicy Homemade Chicken Chili Recipe


I decided to try my luck with some homemade chili.  After perusing a few different recipes it became clear that chili should be a dish you just through together and adjust as needed.  After a couple attempts here is my favorite version and a piece of cake to make.

Spicy Chili Chicken Chili Recipe

  • 16 oz can Pinto beans
  • 16 oz can White beans
  • 16 oz can Black beans
  • 10-12 oz of cooked chicken breasts
  • 16 oz can of Diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz can of Tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapenos
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Ketchup


Just dump all ingredients into crock pot and set to high for one hour. Reduce to low and cook for 6 more hours. Feel free to add remove spice to taste with the advice, much easier to add spice later than try to remove if you add too much.

If you are feeling very adventurous add a 1/4 tsp of Bhut Jolokia powder for a very unique flavor.

You can add some chips, cheese, and sour cream for a more filling meal or skip them for a pretty nutritious snack with the nutritional information below.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homemade low carb protein bar/cookie recipe


Though many of my previous posts have been some serious fat/flour intensive creations, like many of us I have a few extra pounds to shed.  The problem is eating healthy can sometimes get expensive especially when you are out of town.  With an upcoming vacation coming and not wanting to spend $3-4 each for some convenient protein bars I set out to make my own. 

Not finding a recipe I liked or matching the final nutritional balance I was looking for I created a recipe based on my protein/carbohydrate/sugar/fiber/fat needs and left taste to chance.

Low-carb Protein Bar Cookie Recipe



  • 2 cups oat flour (don’t have? any just grind oatmeal with a blender)
  • 1 cup soy protein
  • 15 packets artificial sweetener
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 2 envelopes Hot Cocoa Mix (No Sugar Added)
  • 6 heaping teaspoons clear fiber supplement
  • 6 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup of water


Add all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, in separate bowl add peanut butter and microwave for 30 seconds then mix in remaining wet ingredients and then slowly mix in with dry ingredients.  Add water until you get the consistency of cookie dough (slightly sticky)

Drop on cookie sheet, you can place these very close since they should not spread.   Should make about 2 dozen cookies

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes

After you take them out of the oven tap them with a fork to flatten them out a little (for storage) and enjoy warm or store in air tight contain for about a week.


Though I was looking at taste as a secondary quality it turns out they a tasty and a nice soft cookie.  Though they will crumble if abused but they can easily be squeezed back into whatever shape you desire.  Cooking the bars/cookies a little longer would allow them to withstand a little more abuse if you are planning on throwing these in a backpack for a long hike, etc.

Nutritional Info

Serving Size: One Cookie

Fat: 5.4 grams
Carbohydrates: 6.9 grams
Fiber: 3.8 grams
Sugar: 3.5 grams
Protein: 10.7 grams

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How to make homemade breadcrumbs


Like much of the population we never eat the heals of the bread on top of that my wife and daughter like to cut the crusts of their bread so we have quite a bit bread going to waste, so made perfect sense to try my hand at making some breadcrumbs.

The process is very simple, cut up your bread into equal size pieces and lay them on a single layer on a cookie sheet and place them in your oven.  Set oven to 300 F degrees and once it preheats, flip over bread and “cook” for 5 minutes and turn the oven off (leaving bread in oven).  Let the bread cool and it should be very brittle and break when bent.


Add bread crumbs into food processor and grind until your breadcrumbs are at your desired consistency.


Store in a sealed bag or freeze and use as long as mold does not appear.  In our case most of these crumbs consist of crust so it theory should have some fairly high fiber content and get some great breadcrumbs to coat of fish/chicken or to stretch out some hamburger/meatloaf.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese – Store versus Homemade


To teach my kids that  macaroni and cheese doesn’t always have to come from a box I decided to make some from scratch.  Here is the recipe I went with.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup American cheese (cubed)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cook noodles as package dictates and set aside.
  • Melt butter in saucepan until it starts sizzling at medium heat.  Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.  Add milk and constantly stir and allow to boil for 7-8 minutes.
  • Reduce temperature to low and slowly add cheese and stir until cheese is completely melted.
  • Combine noodles and cheese and place in a casserole dish and grate cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes (or until cheese is melted)


The Contender – Store Bought

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner, $1.09

Ingredients: Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamin Hydrochloride [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid); Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Milkfat, Milk Protein Concentrate, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Contains Less than 2% of Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Calcium Phosphate, Milk, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Enzymes, Cheese Culture).

After adding the required required milk and butter the total cost of the store bought meal is $1.43.

The Challenger - Homemade

Here are the costs of making this recipe yourself:

Ingredient Amount Cost
Macaroni 2 cups $ 0.12
Butter 4 tablespoons $ 0.265
Flour 4 tablespoons $ 0.031
Salt 1/2 teaspoon $ 0.003
Pepper 1/8 teaspoon $ 0.001
Milk 2 cups $ 0.374
Cheese 1 cup $ 1.250

All together it cost $3.01 to make this recipe. 

The Decision…


Store bought


Price   image   image   image   image
Taste   image   image   image   image   image
Difficulty   image     image   image 

As far as cost goes it was much more expensive for the homemade on this one.  Making this recipe is much more expensive than the store equivalent.  The homemade version produces a larger meal than the store bought version though not enough to factor this into the equation.

I used both my daughters again as a judge for taste on this one.  My oldest daughter said 4 stars for homemade and one star for store bought.  Though she was sure to point out that Trader Joes Mac and Cheese was just a little better…looks like I might have another challenge on my hands.

Though this is the first time that homemade code more, I can’t argue with the creamy taste of the homemade version, when pressed for time I may still crack open the Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese though still will continue to make the homemade version when I have the time.

Buttermilk Pancakes Recipe – Store versus Homemade

I mentioned it in my frozen mini pancakes post that I would need to try making pancakes from scratch.  Though I had to pick up some buttermilk I had all the other ingredients in my cupboards.  Here is the recipe I went with:



Buttermilk Pancakes Recipe


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.25 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, salt) into a large bowl and mix to incorporate.
  • In a smaller bowl add buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla and mix with a whisk for 30 seconds.
  • Immediately before you are ready to cook, add the wet ingredients to the dry and briefly mix though do not overdo it.
  • Cook on medium heat on a lightly oiled skillet until brown on both sides


The Contender – Store Bought

Here are the costs of making pancakes using Bisquick baking mix

Ingredient Amount Cost
Baking Mix 1 cup $ 0.289
Milk 1/2 cup $ 0.093
Egg 1 egg $ 0.133
Vegetable Oil 1 teaspoon $ 0.009
Electricity Stovetop (15 minutes) $ 0.003

So for only $ 0.53 you can make your own pancakes. 

The Challenger - Homemade

Here is the cost of making the pancakes from scratch:

Ingredient Amount Cost
Flour 1 cup $ 0.12
Sugar 1 tablespoon $ 0.020
Baking Powder 1 teaspoon $ 0.032
Baking Soda 1/2 teaspoon $ 0.004
Salt 1/8 teaspoon $ 0.001
Buttermilk 1 1/4 cup $ 0.559
Egg 1 egg $ 0.133
Vegetable Oil 1 tablespoon $ 0.026
Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon $ 0.028
Electricity Stovetop (15 minutes) $ 0.003


So for only $ 0.93 you can make your buttermilk pancakes.  There is a little extra effort to add a couple more ingredients, though I would consider this marginal

The Decision…


Store bought


Price   image   image   image  
Taste   image   image   image   image   image   image   image   image 
Difficulty   image   image    image   image 

The cost to making pancakes homemade was actually more expensive this time, though the taste between the two were not even comparable.  The homemade buttermilk pancakes were very light and fluffy and that hint of vanilla also helped out.  So going to have to give this one to homemade.