Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Praise of the Single Cup Coffeemaker

I'm really into good coffee and have been through just about every coffee machine known to man. Our basement is littered with burr grinders, espresso machines and my favorite big machine, the Technivorm MoccaMaster.

Back in 2001, I tired of all of the labor involved with making coffee and that the coffee started deteriorating 10 minutes after you made a fresh pot. I bought a Senseo and I loved it. You just grabbed a pod, pressed a button and in seconds you had a perfect, single cup of coffee. The problem was that they only had four flavors of coffee.

In 2008 I switched to the Keurig system (the coffeemaker pictured above is a Breville that is made for the Keurig system). There are literally hundreds of flavors made for the Keurig system. French roasts, espressos, Italian roasts, teas, hot cocoa....anything you can think of, you will find it for the Keurig system . I buy all my coffee from as they have free shipping on orders over $50.

Every cup of coffee is perfect. You just grab a K-Cup and place it in the brewer. You can control the temp and strength with just the touch of a few buttons. Everyone can get a flavor they like best (I get Double Black Diamond, which is an incredible dark roast). We had a house full of guests this past week and everyone raved how great the system was and how much they liked that they could pick out their own flavors.

There are many different brands of single serve coffeemakers. Check them out at:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Year, Just Turkey Parts

This year I'm cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for fifteen people. So by the turkey  rule of thumb, I would need 30 pounds of turkey...two 15-pounders would do the trick. No biggie as I have done that in the past:

The problem is that my family members fall into two distinct camps: the white-meat-breast-eaters and the dark-meat-leg-eaters. This gets complicated insomuch that the latter far outnumber the former. So by going the traditional two turkey route, only four of the dark-meat-leg-eaters are going to be happy.

So this year I just bought parts. The dark-meat-leg-eaters will get to feast upon twelve, delicious turkey legs and the white-meat-breast-eaters will have five, brilliantly roasted turkey breasts to choose from.

Parts is parts.

Another Wine Bargain

This is a  good buy. Castle Rock Central Coast Chardonnay features pear, citrus and spice flavors. Wine Spectator gave it 88 points and you can bring it home for just $9.99.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Roasted Baked Potato

The beauty of this recipe is that you get an incredibly delicious, hard skin....almost as if it had been deep fried. Make sure you slice open the potatoes immediately after removing them from the oven. That will preserve the crispness of the skin.

4 Russet potatoes
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil

For garnish: butter, fresh chives, bacon bits, sour cream

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash and thoroughly dry potatoes.
  3. Poke each potato four times with a fork.
  4. Place potatoes on a flat, rimmed pan.
  5. Generously rub olive oil on the outside of each potato.
  6. Generously sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper on each potato.
  7. Place potatoes in oven and cook for two hours.
  8. Remove from oven and slice open immediately (so that the skin does not steam and soften).
  9. Serve immediately with garnishes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Beloved Grill Pan

When the cold and snow hits, I don't get real excited about going outside to cook on the grill. I do, however, still like a grilled steak and a great way to get that (while staying dry and warm) is with a grill pan.

The pan is about 20" by 11" and stretches across 2 burners. And with 2 burners as a heat source, this pan gets really hot...perfect for grilling a steak. Does a great job on fish and chicken, too. The raised ridges impart really nice grill marks and keeps the meat away from any drained fat.

I've only used it on a gas cook top, so I cannot attest to how it would work on an electric cook top. The pans start at around $30 for a cast iron version (Lodge) and can go all the way to $150 for a top-of-the-line, non-stick, dishwasher-safe model (Scanpan).

My experience is that the pans reach full temperature in about 5-7 minutes.When you cook with a grill pan, stay away from really fatty cuts like rib eye steak. Fat creates a lot of smoke when it cooks and without proper ventilation, you will give your smoke alarms a run for their money. Check it out here:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Easy Salad on the Fly

Now that the Whole 9 Challenge is over, I've returned to my beloved Taboule Salad from Costco. I eat four meals a day and always include this salad in two of my meals. It's made with tomatoes, parsley, onions, cracked wheat (just enough of a carb boost for noon CrossFit workouts) and lemon juice. One-half cup is just 120 calories. The 21 ounce salad sells for $4.99 and has a shelf life of ten days. Great stuff.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cop's Meatloaf

Back in 1994, my wife worked for the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association. She had a co-worker, John Hennessey, a former member of the Minneapolis Police Department. He knew I loved to cook and shared his own special meatloaf recipe with me. It's called Cop's Meatloaf and I've been making it for 16 years. (Note: Do not even think about making this in a traditional loaf pan. You will end up with nothing but a soggy mess. The "Free Form Loaf Pan" I  show below will drain all of the grease away.)

1 1/2 pounds hamburger
1 1/2 pounds hot Italian Sausage
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups of bread cubes (I use sage and onion stuffing)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Create a "Free Form Loaf Pan".  Fold heavy-duty aluminum foil to form a 10 by 8-inch rectangle. Center the foil on a metal cooling rack and place the rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Poke holes in the foil with a skewer (about half an inch apart). Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
4. Create a loaf on top of your "Free Form Loaf Pan".

5. Bake for 90 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then slice and serve. My boys' favorite side with this dish is Tater Tots.

Wine pairing: Zinfandel