Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tacos al Pastor

Sunday I smoked a four-pound pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches. The sandwiches were good with a mustard-based sauce on sesame seed buns. But, I have some left over pork shoulder. I normally make carnitas or tacos al pastor for the left overs, although the meat is wonderful cold in a sandwich with mayo and horseradish. YUMMY!!

Tonight, I made tacos al pastor. I eat them at a Mexican Restaurant here in Clear Lake and a taqueria in Pasadena. The name means "shepard-style tacos." The picture above shows them being served similar to Greek gyros. If'n yer interested, you can read all about them here. I searched for recipes and chopped and deleted what I didn't like I added what I thought would be some tasty additions.

What follows is my version of tacos al pastor. I used pork shoulder but you can also use tenderloin or chops. This should serve four comfortably.


2 t canola oil/homemade lard
1 pound cooked pork shoulder shredded/chopped(your choice)
1/2 t granulated garlic
1 1/2 t ground cumin
2 t chile powder(use my recipe)
S&P to taste
1 T vinegar
Juice 1/2-1 orange(to taste)
2 t chiles in adobo sauce(to taste...feelin' spicy, add more)
1/2 t brown sugar
1/4 c water for deglazing

Corn tortillas
Diced onion
Chopped cilantro
Salsa verde(recipe to follow at a later date)


Heat skillet to medium high and add oil/lard. Add pork and spices, and saute for approximately 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan(get the good bits(called fond off the bottom) with about 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat and add vinegar, chiles in adobo sauce and orange juice. Let simmer for another 5-8 minutes to absorb liquid.

Serve on warm corn tortillas with diced onion, cilantro and salsa verde. For an extra crunchy treat, crush some tortilla chips(baked, of course) into the tacos along with the meat and veggies) Enjoy!!

Be well. Eat well. Love well. Live long!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

When chefs begin to learn to...well, be chefs... a simple test of their skills is their ability to make fluffy and light scrambled eggs. Too often, scrambled eggs are hard and nasty, just like mine were for years. But then there was....wait for it........ The Egg Epiphany. And where did this happen, you ask? At Waffle House, of course.

The wife and I had a fun date night many moons ago and topped the evening off at said aforementioned establishment. And we sat near the counter. I love to watch short order cooks doin' they thang!! Those folks are amazing!

Anyhoo, I watched this man crack eggs into a milkshake container. You know the kind. The tall metal ones that were found in malt shops all over America. Well, after cracking, he put the container and made an egg shake, if you will. Although, I didn't see him add any milk or chocolate syrup.

So they next time I made scrambled eggs I tried the same thing, but not with a milkshake machine. I did mine with an immersion blender. You can use a regular blender too. They whipped up very fluffy. Yummy!! I do add milk and spice to mine.

The next step is how they're cooked once fluffed up with the blender. You need to be gentle, both with heat and with your spatula. Become one with the eggs. I describe the technique below.

Because we're health conscious but not, at the same time, askeered of eggs, we use half eggs and half egg whites.

Here's the low down.

Ingredients(per person)

2 eggs(or 1 egg and 1/4 c egg substitute, or 1/2 c egg substitute...got it??)
1 T skim milk(use 2% if yer feelin' especially frisky)
Few shakes Everyday Shaker Spice Mix(see Kitchen Staples at right)
1 T light butter


Heat skillet to medium high for 5 minutes to fully heat the pan. Reduce the heat to just below medium and above medium low while you prepare the ingredients. Low and sloooooow. You'll thank me for this!!

While the pan heats, crack the eggs(on the counter, not over the edge of a bowl...keeps out the shells) and place into a tall container, if using an immersion blender or directly into a counter top blender. Add milk and seasoning. Turn on the blender and blend the eggs for a full minute. If you don't have a blender, use a whisk and blend vigorously for 2-3 minutes. You should have a very frothy mix.

Add the butter to the pan and when it's all melted, but hopefully not frothy, gently pour the eggs into the skillet and let them juuuuuust begin to set, while not disturbing them. Once that happens, gently stir the eggs in a circular fashion, preferably with a silicon spatula. This motion should be gentle lifting(called folding). Making larger and larger circles as you move outward. Tilt the pan to fill in the empty spots as you fold the eggs. Do not overwork the eggs! The goal is to maintain the fluffiness and creaminess.

Turn off the heat before you think the eggs are done and let the residual heat finishing cooking them. Gently slide your masterpiece onto a plate and enjoy! This process takes longer, but I promise that it's worth the effort.

If you want to add cheese, add it at the end and gently fold it into the eggs. The heat will melt the cheese. If you want to add veggies or meat, add them after blending/whisking and cook them along with the eggs.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Be well. Eat well. Love well. Live long!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Surf 'N' Learn

Time for this weeks installment of Surf 'N' Learn. These are websites chocked full of information on food, recipes and the like. ENJOY!

One Third of Breast Cancer Avoidable This story just illustrates how important what you put into your body is to what happens to your body!

Health law will make calorie counts hard to ignore Oh, the changes coming from the new health reform bill!!!

Cucumber Salsa This gives me an idea. I'm going to try my salsa verde with tomatillos and cucumbers!! Could be yummy!!

Be well. Eat well. Love well. Live long!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

My wife got a hankerin' for some homemade red beans and rice. I don't like beans, not even a little bit, 'cept for green beans and the occasional baked beans with BBQ. Anyhoo, I obliged and made her a batch, suffering through the smell and consistency whilst I made it. She said it was delicious, especially since I made it. Perhaps she's biased. I'm not quite sure, but I'll get back to you on that.

Red beans and rice is a Cajun dish that I'd not heard of until I moved to the Great Nation of Texas. Cajuns were/are amazing thrifty cooks, utilizing ingredients not used in other cultures. There is a strong French influence along with African influences in some dishes as well.

Red beans and rice is a staple comfort food in Cajun culture, as are gumbo, etouffee' and jambalaya. I'll post recipes for those dishes later. Cajun food is probably my favorite cuisine. Can I say 'cuisine' on here? Oh well, I'm feeling dangerous, so I will!

It's a simple dish to prepare. To wit:


1 pound red beans(soaked overnight, water changed frequently)
2 tsp oil(I prefer canola)
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
1-3 cloves garlic diced(to your taste)
1/2 pound Andouille sausage, sliced(may substitute other sausage)
1 tsp Thyme
2 Bay leaves
1-2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper(more, if you're feeling frisky!)
Louisiana hot sauce (to taste)
Water/chicken stock
Cooked long grain rice


Saute the veggies over medium high heat until translucent or browned(your choice...I prefer the onions browned for caramelization). Add the garlic near the end of the saute', so it doesn't burn. Add the sliced sausage and cook for 2-3 minutes to release some of the fat. Now add the previously soaked red beans and the remaining ingredients. Add water/chicken stock(I use chicken stock) to cover the beans. Bring to a boil, cover pot(I use a cast iron Dutch oven) with lid, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 3 hours. When the beans start to soften, mash some of them in the pot to release flavor and thicken the broth. Do not let the water/chicken stock level get below bean level or the beans won't cook. Serve over rice.

And there you have it! And don't forget to add the sprig of fresh parsley from your garden like I did. the dish won't taste the same without it!{SARCASM ALERT}

Be well. Eat well. Love well. Live long!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Kitchen Tip

After a wonderful weekend camping I cam home to an email box full of stuff. Amongst all the "stuff" was an email from an old childhood friend with whom I recently reconnected on Facebook. He tells me that he is an avid reader of my food blog. Anyhoo, his name is John and he sent me a bunch of kitchen/home tips that he received from his wife, but there are some that I'm not familiar with so I thought I'd pass one on to you.

Here's one in particular that I found interesting, and thanks again, John!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Can anyone either confirm or deny this about peppers? I assume the green bell peppers are what's being addressed. Please leave a comment if'n ya know!

Be well, eat well, love well, live long!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Surf and Learn

Periodically, I'll post links to interesting websites where you can learn more about cooking, food, healthy eating and restaurants. Here's the first installment.

7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin Cooking Technique This installment from the Fine Cooking website shows you how to grill a perfect pork tenderloin every time. It also mentions brining, which is a technique I use quite often, after learning about it many moons ago. I'll post about this technique later.

Cinnamon and Sugar Metaboilsm It seems that some of the chemicals in cinnamon are beneficial in the metabolism of sugar in the human body. I learned this a while back and now try to eat cinnamon more and more. And what a great excuse to make homemade cinnamon rolls!! I have a great recipe for those!!

Processed Hot Dogs Possibly Linked to Leukemia I just read a study about this while back. It seems that some of the chemicals used to preserve processed meats(eg, hot dogs) have been linked to childhood leukemia. Just another reason to eat whole unprocessed foods as much as possible and avoid preservatives whenever you can. Homemade RULES!!

Be well, eat well, love well and live long!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homemade Chile Powder

My son and I ground some fresh chuck roast into ground beef this morning so that he could cook burgers. He did and they were GREAT!!!! I was asking SWMBO what she wanted for dinner and she said, "how about chili?" Sounds good to me on one of the last cool nights until the unending summer arrives! So, I got a wild hair and decided to make some homemade chili powder.

I bought three packages of whole dried chiles; one pasilla, one cascabel and one New Mexico.

The first step is to de-stem and de-seed the chiles. I found that this worked best with a pair of kitchen scissors. So, I commenced to stemin' and seedin', wearing gloves, of course. THESE PUPPIES WILL BURN YOUR SKIN, SO WEAR GLOVES WHENEVER HANDLING THEM!!! Below is a picture of the processed chile peppers with all the seeds and stems removed.

The next step was to roast them to bring out more of the flavor. I popped them in a 300 degree oven, on a half sheet pan for about five minutes.

The smell in the kitchen was amazing!!! SCRATCH HERE FOR THE SMELL

Next step? Grind 'em up into a fine powder. I thought that this job would be best handled by my trusty KitchenAid(TM) food processor. I use that appliance more than any other small appliance in the kitchen.

So I moved the roasted chiles from the pan to the processor and ground. And ground. And ground, ground , ground, ground, ground!!!

But it never became a fine powder. Arrrgh!! What to do? "Ah, the coffee/spice grinder should work," I said aloud, marveling at my brilliance!{SARCASM ALERT}.

I transferred the chunky chile concoction to the grinder and voila', chile powder. Smells yummy and tastes even better.

You'll notice that I've spelled it chile powder and not chili powder. Chile powder is ground chiles. Chili powder is ground chiles with other spices, like garlic, pepper, paprika, cumin and oregano added. I prefer to add these other spices myself. Just for fun though, I added about a teaspoon of garlic and a teaspoon of oregano.

So there you have it! Homemade chile powder.

Fresh homemade chili for some fresh ground chuck chili tonight. I'll post my chili recipe another time. It's yummy, so they tell me.

Edit 3-21-10 The chili that I made with this new spice mix was amazing. Although, I'm sure the homemade beef stock and freshly ground lean chuck didn't hurt either!!

Be well, eat well, love well, live long!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break Science Experiment

My 9-year old son and I are both on Spring Break this week. We had a wonderful day together and I topped it off tonight by having him perform a little science experiment. I put some heavy whipping cream in a bowl and had him commence to mixin' that cream with a hand held mixer.

He watched it gain volume and become whipped cream, as it moved through both soft and firm peak stages. I had him taste it as he went along and he really didn't like the whipped cream. No sugar, mind you. Not enjoyable for a young boy expecting whipped cream out of a can.

Anyhoo, he continued to mix and watched the whipped cream lose volume, turn a light shade of yellow and begin to develop a bit of milky white residue at the bottom of the bowl. The cream was turning into curds and whey. He whipped for a while longer, just like Devo and voila the cream turned to butter and the whey went wayward all over the counter.

We then took the butter curds out of the bowl and moved them to a strainer. I had him squish the butter between his fingers(after his mother made him wash his hands first, of course) and he squeezed out the last bit of buttermilk(whey) out.

We then heated up a piece of artisan bread that I'd made earlier in the day, spread on some butter and we had a snack fit for a king, or prince in my son's case.

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

Handy Quick Tip

After frying a morsel of edible goodness, instead of using paper towels flatted on a sheet pan to absorb the oil, crumple up the paper towels and lay them out loosely. The crumpled up towels reach up into the nooks and crannies of the food and help absorb even more oil.

And for goodness sakes, don't use shortening/Crisco(TM) when frying. That stuff's got NASTY trans fats in it. It'll lower your good cholesterol, raise the bad stuff and harden them arteries quicker than you can say, "OUCH, THAT HURTS!" Use canola oil or olive oil. They contain lots of good fats. More on this topic later.

I don't remember where I got the crumpled paper towel tip while blog-hopping, but I think it was at The Paupered Chef . If not, it's still a great blog worth reading.

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Now That's Smooooth....

Did some grocery shopping this afternoon and found some wonderful beef bones and chicken carcasses, so now I'm making beef and chicken stock. Keep it frozen and it lasts for months. But that's another post.

I found myself being quite parched from veggie chopping and water pouring and noticed that we had some strawberries in the fridge. OH! And I just bought some bananas. Think brain! THINK!!!!! What can I make with strawberries and bananas?? A strawberry-banana salad? Sounds good, but won't cure the parched palate. I got it! Smoooooothie time!!! Non-fat smoothie while I'm at it!!


6 sliced strawberries
1/2 sliced banana
1 cup ice
1/2 cup non-fat milk
2 packets Truvia(TM)

(Careful, this is real rocket science)

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until icy smooth.

Non-fat, no sugar, fresh fruit. Ya just can't beat it!! But you can blend it. Next time I'm going to add some vanilla and see how it changes the taste.

EDIT: Today(3-15-10) I added a splash of vanilla and it made a big difference in taste! I will add vanilla from now on. I also used organic Sucanat as a sweetener. It's made from cane sugar syrup and is minimally processed into crystals. It has a very deep flavor that I really enjoy. And it's relatively inexpensive too. I got it at Whole Foods Market.

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kitchen Tip of the Week

Got sticky pasta?

Many people shy away from cooking pasta because too often the results are a gooey sticky mess. A long time ago I learned a tip about the secret to preventing pasta from sticking. And no, it's not about adding olive oil to the pasta water.

Two things are very important in making pasta. One is to salt the pasta water before putting the pasta in to be cooked. This thoroughly seasons the pasta while it's cooking. The second tip(and the one that prevents stickygooeyness) is to use a LOT of water. I mean a LOT!! A gallon per pound of pasta is the general rule. The third facet of pasta cooking is to heat the water to a "rolling boil."

There you have it! Well-cooked pasta. Buon appetito!

Bonus Tip: Don't throw away that pasta water. Use it in the sauce that you make. It adds a wonderful flavor and, as an added bonus, helps thicken the sauce just a bit.

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

Easy Peasy Marinara Sauce

Step 1. Grab Your car keys.
Step 2. Drive to the grocery store.
Step 3. Buy a jar of prepared marinara sauce.
Step 4. Drive home.
Step 5. Eat heated bottled marinara sauce.
Step 6. Sit back and enjoy the preservatives, additives and chemicals you can't pronounce as they work through your body.


You could make this easy homemade marinara sauce that I've been cooking for years. You can use diced canned tomatoes when tomatoes are out of season and fresh tomatoes in the summer time.


1 pound fresh tomatoes(seeded and diced)*
1/2 tsp oregano**
1/2 tsp basil**
1/2 tsp parsley**
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes**
1/8 tsp garlic powder**
1 tsp packed brown sugar
2 tsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 bay leaf
salt & pepper(to taste)
1/4 cup water


1. Place tomatoes and 1/4 cup of water in the food processor and pulse until you achieve the consistency that you enjoy, chunky or smooth. My family and I prefer middle of the road. If you don't have a food processor, just smash 'em with a potato masher.

2. Place processed tomatoes in small sauce pan and add the remaining ingredients.

3. Bring the sauce to a simmer, cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes.

4. Serve over pasta, chicken Parmesan, or anything else that suits your fancy, be sure to remove the bay leaf or yuck!

* May substitute a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes.
** When using fresh herbs, use 2-3 times the amount listed, to taste.

This recipe will serve 3-4 folks. If you need more, just double or triple the recipe. Buon appetito!

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Hate Mices to Pieces!

Parles vous a humma humma? Mice en place is a French term meaning, "mice do not belong in my place." Not really!!! It's a term used to describe preparing ingredients for a dish before actually cooking the dish. It literally means, "to put in place."

I can't tell you how many times that I've forgotten to prepare an ingredient for a dish and then found myself needing that ingredient post haste....right now!!! Well, that problem is easily solved by utilizing mice en place.

I have a number of small stainless steel bowlettes(is that a word? I think not!) into which I put ingredients as I prepare them. You'll notice in the photo that the bowlettes are filled with spices and herbs that are at the ready, in this case, for my homemade winter marinara sauce. I typically put chopped/diced veggies onto one plate.

Now, don't misundertake me here. If I need to saute' veggies at the start of preparation and then have other steps later, I might use mice en place in stages. One for veggies, then one for meats and other ingredients that are added later. That way, I'm more efficient and not simply standing around while waiting for the veggies to saute'. I'll let them saute' while preparing the second mice en place.

I believe that one of the most common mistakes made is to not pre-heat the oven and/or burner. At least it is for me!! I get things prepped and then turn on the stove burner or oven. OOPS!!!

So anyhoo, prepare your ingredients before you start cooking and pre-heat that pan or pot or oven before you do anything and you'll be a happier cook!

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Homemade Bread

I just cannot get enough homemade bread!!! Someone stop meeeeee...

This afternoon I made my own concoction based upon the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Cookbook recipe for basic bread. This is a sight that you must check out! Fear of baking yeast bread, you say? No more, after learning this method. It's wonderful! I keep a 6 quart plastic tub in the fridge and when I want to make bread, I scissor off a piece, form it into a boule or baguette and bake it at 500 degrees in a cast iron dutch oven for 30 minutes. I remove the cover and bake it another 10-20 minutes to get a nice crunchy crust and voila! Try it, you'll like it!

This afternoon, I made rosemary, asiago, Parmesan and cracked black pepper bread. It's sitting on the counter now cracking....begging me to cut into it and enjoy a slice. But I will be patient and let it cool, so the crumb inside forms nicely!

Okay, I waited. Here's the bread sliced and it is wonderful.

SWMBO wanted rosemary bread today and rosemary bread she got, or will get when she gets home!! Also, please kindly notice my new Shun laminated bread knife that I used to cut the bread. It was an early birthday gift from my lovely bride that I just received today. Get a new bread knife, ya gotta make bread and reward the giver of said razor sharp utensil!!! Thanks for the new knife, honey. I love you!!!

(That's Luke the WonderDog with her in the pic)

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

A Spice Mix a Day....

Savory dishes require the use of herbs and spices. Certainly, you can venture out to your local grocery store and buy myriad spice mixes. But why do that? Make your own instead is my motto. And that's what I've done in the case of most of my spice mixes.

Let's start with a simple mix that I use as a dry rub for meats and an all-around spice mix. One point of interest here....if "sweetness" doesn't fit the dish, don't use this spice mix, as it has brown sugar in it.

Here's my recipe...

10 tsp paprika
5 tsp black pepper
6 1/4 tsp lite salt
6-8 tsp brown sugar(more or less to your level of sweetness)
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder(or more of you like spicy)

This is an excellent all-around spice mix and one that you should try on meats(mmm...burgers), poultry(grilled chicken breasts), grilled potatoes, french fries, onion rings, eggs and just about anything else. The use of lite salt keeps the sodium at a reasonable level. I keep mine in a shaker next to the stove. Don't keep it too close though. The heat from the stove will degrade the spices.

As an aside, some folks put monosodium glutamate(MSG, Accent(TM)) in their spice mixes. OH THE HORROR!!!!! I would never even think about it!

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hiya! Que paso? Wellkommen! Bon jour!

Welcome to Real Men Cook Too. Thanks so much for checking out my little corner of culinary heaven...or is it heathen? It's your call. We are men after all!!

The purpose of this blog is to show you how a husband and father of one spends time in the kitchen. I try to cook healthy, homemade food, free from the additives and preservatives in store bought food products. Pastuerized, processed, artificially flavored scooterbumble meat product....WHAT!!???

I try to keep our fat intake relatively low and when we do eats fats, I try to use healthy ones whenever possible. I also try to incorporate whole wheat into my recipes whenever possible. I'm also about portion control. You should see all these ideas incorporated into this blog.(Mix well and knead for 10 minutes) I'll post photographs where appropriate to illustrate a concept. Photography is another hobby. The link to my photo blog is located on the right side of this page. It's called Ordinary to Extraordinary.

I consider myself very lucky in that I get to spend an unusual amount of time in the kitchen. My profession allows that luxury. She who must be obeyed(SHMBO) just tells me to "shut up" when I talk about my schedule.

Here you'll find recipes, kitchen tips, kitchen tools/utensils and a bunch of other fun, miscellaneous and mischievous stuff.

Anyway, enjoy your visit and please comment. Talk about changes you would make to my recipes, send in recipes(I'll post the best ones after I try them and credit you), and tell us about your kitchen tips and favorite kitchen tools.

Gentlemen, if you're a kitchen kinda guy, TELL THE WORLD AND BE PROUD!!! Ladies, please tell us about your wonderful hubbies who spend time in the kitchen and let them know here how much you appreciate them. I'll even post cool and or heartwarming stories.

Be well, eat well, love well & live long!
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