Category Archives: In the Kitchen

Meatless Monday With Thug Kitchen 101

Meatless Monday today in the Test Kitchen and I kicked up the flavour meter on my Skillet Beer Chili Mac by adding some STR8 Flexin Imperial Stout from my local craft brewery, Twin Sails. The ultra deep flavour profile of the Imperial Stout really adds to the complexity of the mac (and the kids get a kick out of thinking they are getting some beer).


Seeing as this is a recipe from the Thug Kitchen cookbook, I figure they won’t care if I mod-out their recipes. So I added in a 1/4 cup of broken up cashews to add a bit more meaty texture to the dish. I also had a yam in the pantry that needed to be put into play … asap … so I diced it up and added it to the pot when I added in the chopped carrot. I didn’t have a bell pepper, so I skipped that. Meatless Monday with the Thug Kitchen. 

The best part – one pot to wash and the kids both ate it. 

Dinner With Dad

One of the best ways to get kids who are reluctant eaters (how is it that I end up with a reluctant ester?) to eat is to make bizarre things out of the food. 

Last night I decided to make a low level Jenga game of the potatoes I had chopped into French fry shape. 

While we were eating the object of the game was to extract the baked fries one at a time without making the entire pan collapse. 

They ate the entire pan of potatoes. Mission accomplished. 

French Fries Without the Fryer

My kids love French fries. But I don’t want to give them deep fried food, plus I don’t like using a deep fryer at home!

French Fries

So rather than deep frying potatoes, I have been experimenting with oven baking potatoes. Today I decided to go for a Jenga-inspired oven baked French fries.

And it worked really well! The heat was able to get around the potato slices quite nicely so they cooked quickly. And of course the best part? All the kids loved the oven-baked French fries.

Cabin-Cooking; Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

On the long weekend just passed, I decided to head out of town to the cabin. As well as making bread at the cabin, I also needed something substantial for my dinner so of course I visited Meat Craft, my local butcher in Port Moody.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak
Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Greg the Butcher set me up with a beauty of Bone-in Prime Rib Steak. At 22 ounces, it was a relatively large steak but, it was my intention to share the steak with my daughter. I do find it quite funny that the cow that the steak came from lived its life in the Nicola Valley and I go to Meat Craft in Port Moody to purchase it and then take it back to the Southern Interior to cook and eat it.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

As I like to do, I sprinkled both sides of the steak with a dry rub and let it rest on the paper while I let the cast iron pan warm up in the oven under the broiler.
Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Then, once the pan was hot enough to make a dollop of butter sizzle and begin to brown, I set the steak into the pan.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

I set my timer for 5 minutes and then slid the pan with the steak into the oven under the broiler.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

The moment the timer sounded I pulled the pan out of the oven and flipped the steak over.

Back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

And then, as nearly everyone has said in the comments on my YouTube videos of me cooking a steak – I let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into it. Yes, I let it rest!!

When I did cut into the steak, it was cooked just the way I like it – on the rare side of medium rare.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Of course as I said, at 22 ounces that’s a large steak. So as you can see in the picture above, I did share the steak with my daughter.

Bottom line, at nearly $30, this was an expensive steak. But really, I only buy a steak like this once every couple of months and I enjoy the process of choosing it, watching Greg cut the steak, and then preparing the steak. It is a treat for myself.

 

 

 

Cabin Cooking; the Bread Making Edition 

Family Day is the newest stat holiday in BC so I did my usual routine and got out of the city. I headed up the Fraser Canyon to the cabin.

And as I usually do at the cabin, I got into experimenting in the kitchen. Seeing as I had one of my daughters with me and they are in a phase in which they love to use my iPhone as a video camera – we decided to make a video of me trying out a new bread recipe.

I do apologize in advance for the shaky video. As I said, the camera operator was my daughter.

The ingredients for my cabin bread:

  • 4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 3/4 Cups of water

I first mixed together the dry ingredients and then added the egg, beat that into the dry mix. I then cut the butter into the mixture before adding the water. I stirred it all together for a couple of minutes using a rubber spatula and then plopped the lump of dough into the already hot cast iron pan.

Into the oven for 35 minutes. Out of the oven onto the cooling rack to let it rest, and then sliced bread with butter.

That’s it. Try it.

 

Stovetop Lasagna from Thug Kitchen 101

Tuesday is one of my days to make dinner so I did my usual and turned to my favourite cookbook, Thug Kitchen 101. And today’s meal? Yep, stovetop lasagna.

Stovetop Lasagna

The recipe calls for some of their caramelized onion-tomato sauce so while a pot of water heated to cook the lasagna noodles I got a smaller pot heated up. Into that pot I slid an onion I had sliced very thin. I let the onions dance around in the heat until they were all wilty and translucent looking.

Stovetop Lasagna

To that pot I added a tablespoon of tomato paste. In hindsight, I wish I had let the onions brown a little more so they would have had a stronger flavour. Oh well. Next time.

The recipe called for a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, but seeing as I did not have any, and I did have crushed tomatoes – substitution time. The caramelized onion sauce thickened up beautifully then!

Stovetop Lasagna

Of course my pot of water had started boiling so the chunks of lasagna noodles were tossed in there. I broke the pieces of lasagna into approximately three inch long chunks and let them cook. I wasn’t paying attention but you know how to cook lasagna noodles – 6-8 minutes?

I drained the cooked noodles and left them in the colander/strainer while I put the pot back on the stove. I added a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then put the fresh spinach in the pot.

Within a couple of minutes the spinach was cooked down into a wilted mess so I added the lasagna noodles to the pot of spinach. A good stir, and it was all mixed together.

Right after the spinach was wilted down I added the slices of tempeh into the pot. Stir around.

Now here is where I really wish I had followed the Thug Kitchen 101 directions for their stovetop lasagna; it said to also add the caramelized onion tomato sauce to the pot of noodles and spinach. Oh no, I am too smart for that…

Instead I took a baking dish, ladled in some noodle/spinach mix, and then dolloped some ricotta cheese on top of the noodles before ladling on a layer of tomato sauce.

Stovetop Lasagna

Repeat. Another layer of noodles, another couple dollops of ricotta, more tomato sauce.

Seeing as I had dinner ready before the hungry hordes got home, I took another lefthand turn with the dish of stovetop lasagna – I slid the dish into the oven at 250 degrees to keep it warm.

Stovetop Lasagna

I really enjoyed my Thug Kitchen 101 inspired stovetop lasagna. The kids? What’s that saying? Two out of three ain’t bad…the third refused to eat it because there was green in the dish. The other two loved it.  And I have a bowl of it for my lunch!

At Home With Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups

If there’s one thing that I really enjoy, it is the total premium steakhouse experience.

I love the feeling of a steakhouse. I love the food served in a steakhouse and I love the professionalism of the servers, the dark wood decor, the larger than life plates and the heavy stainless steel cutlery. Best of all, I love the premium soups and steaks that are served in a steakhouse.

Simply put, I love the steakhouse experience.

Unfortunately I don’t get to visit a steakhouse as often as I would like with the kids’ busy after-school schedules and my wife’s never-ending commitments to work. So, it is really difficult to find time for us to get away to enjoy the steakhouse experience.

In fact, more often than not, this is what my dining room table looks like at dinner time. Unruly kids letting me know that they are starving while pounding on the table demanding food … Not even close to what a classy premium steakhouse looks like.

That’s why when the people behind Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups offered to partner with me so that I could bring the premium steakhouse experience into my own home, and to earn the title of the #KingofSoup…

I had to say YES!!

I received four packages of Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups all of which delivered the flavorful, slow-cooked taste of restaurant-quality potato soup straight to my table.

The soups are filled with real Idaho® red potatoes and red potato skins that deliver exceptional taste and texture in every spoonful. Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups are available in four delicious flavor varieties: Creamy Potato, Loaded Potato, Cheddar Broccoli and Three Cheese Chipotle.

The best part? These soups can be prepared IN FIVE MINUTES!

But that thing about the #KingofSoup…as well as getting to sample great soups that are ready in five minutes, I am also in a contest with a bunch of other cool dads to see which one of us will be crowned as the King of Soup.

To be crowned the King of Soup we are each doing our best to convert our homes from regular homes into a premium steakhouse experience. To see more about who will be the King of Soup you can follow the hashtag #KingofSoup on Twitter or Instagram. I have to admit, I have some pretty serious competition in the run up to my coronation.

Literally five minutes and I had the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups on the table.

To prepare the soup all I had to do was put four cups of water in a sauce pan, bring it to a boil and then add the steakhouse soup to the boiling water.

I whisked it a little, and then left it with the lid off to simmer for five minutes.

I let the soup sit for a couple of minutes to cool down and then served bowls of the Cheddar Broccoli Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups.

I added a little grated cheddar cheese, a pinch of chopped parsley, and the soup course of dinner was ready.

Honestly, the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soup was amazing. It is a premium steakhouse quality soup with chunks of potatoes and broccoli, with a great cheese taste to complement the potato. I was very impressed with the soup – especially seeing as I was able to have it on the table IN FIVE MINUTES.

If you want to get social with Idahoan Foods:

Disclosure; As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, I have partnered with Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods for this campaign, but as always, my opinions expressed in this blog, are my own. 

My Thug Kitchen Inspired One Pot Spaghetti 

My turn to make dinner tonight so where do I turn for inspiration? To my Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook, of course. 

Thug Kitchen 101
One Pot Spaghetti

I love the flavours from their Skillet Beer Chili Mac – a one pot mac and cheese with beer and black beans recipe so I used that as a starting point for dinner this evening.

I put a Dutch oven with some grapeseed oil on a hot element and then added three finely diced onions to the pot. I let them sauté until they had softened up and then added some slices of yellow and red peppers to the pot. Once they were cooked down a bit I added in the spices; smoked paprika, chilli powder, and a little curry powder.

I let that heat up so the flavours of the spices could bloom and then I added three cups of veggie stock and a jar of tomato sauce. A little time to heat that up and then I put in the spaghetti. Brought it to a boil, reduced the heat so the spaghetti could cook, and left it cooking for about ten minutes.

Once the spaghetti noodles were cooked to al dente I removed the pot from the heat and folded in a quarter cup of nutritional yeast to give the pasta a cheese, nutty flavour.

And then just before serving the pasta I added a can of black beans to the pot of pasta. Of course before using the black beans I dumped them into a strainer and thoroughly rinsed them.

The good news? In less than half an hour I had dinner on the table and the one pot spaghetti was delicious, the kids enjoyed it, and I only had one pot to clean after dinner. Another winner inspired by the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook.

Cabin Cooking; Brussel Sprouts

This week I took a quick trip to the cabin and as usual, I took the opportunity to cook a dinner of the foods that I enjoy – including brussel sprouts – without worrying whether the kids would eat it or not.

Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprouts

To start, I did my broiler-brussel sprouts. After cleaning them up, I sliced each sprout two or three times so that each slice was about the same thickness.

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Next I sliced the bacon that I had picked up at Meat Craft Urban Butchery into pieces about a half inch wide and then layered it over the brussel sprouts. I hearty sprinkle of sirarcha sauce, a drizzle of olive oil and these sprouts were ready to get some heat.

Broiler Brussel Sprouts
Broiler Brussel Sprouts

I have to admit I was not paying attention so I can’t say how long these little gems were under the broiler – maybe ten minutes? I do know that I took them out at least once or twice and gave them a stir to make sure they were browned all the way around.

I love the way that some of them get smoky and almost burnt! The bacon cooked right down to a perfect little smoky bacon flavour gems and added just enough flavour to give a little flavour explosion. Great flavour combinations!

 

Of course the broiler-brussel sprouts were the “side dish” to my bone in pork rib chop. To cook that solid piece of meat I gave it a thorough coating of dry rub (I can’t remember the brand … Pete’s?) and then into the cast iron pan and under the broiler for 6 minutes.

Pork Rib Chops
Pork Rib Chops

After six minutes, I took the pan out of the oven, flipped the chops over, and then back in the oven for another six minutes.

And of course you may have noticed that baked potato. A beauty of a Russet potato baked without a tinfoil wrap so the skin was beautifully crispy and the spud inside was creamy. I dollop of butter mixed inside and then a couple massive spoons of Avalon Dairy 14% sour cream…wow.

Then I sat down and ate without hearing a single “ew I don’t like this…” or anything like that. It was an amazing meal, but you know, it was kind of lonely without my kids there with me. Even if they do complain about most of the food.

Meat Craft; Perogies, Bacon, Sausage

I needed to make dinner for the family and a friend of the my daughters this evening and I didn’t want my reputation my dad kitchen skills to be tarnished, so what to do? Stop in to see Butcher Greg at Port Moody’s Meat Craft Urban Butchery to get perogies, bacon, chorizo sausage, and a small tub of Avalon dairy organic sour cream.

Meat Craft Bacon and Sausage
Meat Craft Bacon and Sausage

How is any kid not going to be wowed by quality perogies and bacon?

And I will drop to the bottom line right now and say that the kids – mine and their little buddy were all impressed and ate everything on their plates without any cajoling or bribery. Winning.

To begin, I get a pot of water bowling and then lower the perogies into the pot. I typically add them one by one so that they do not stick together or make a mess. I do it very quickly but I like to treat the little dumplings with respect.

Brewer's Row Bacon
Brewer’s Row Bacon

As soon as that pot is on track, I get another fry pan hot before I add in the 1″ chunks of sausage. I get them warmed up and then add in the bacon. And, I may add, the bacon is made right there at Meat Craft.

Meat Craft Bacon and Perogies
Meat Craft Bacon and Perogies

I like my bacon quite crispy so I let it cook down. I like to lift the bacon out of the fat and then drain the fat out of the pan before I put the bacon back in to get it a little more crispy. Once the bacon is ready, I use a slotted spoon to lift the perogies out of the bowling water and add them to the pan with the crispy bacon.

I give that a little shake about to get the perogies covered in bacon fat and then I let them brown just a bit.

Plated Perogies
Plated Perogies

Then it is time to plate. A dollop of that Avalon Dairy sour cream (14% for the pure decadence factor). And then we eat.

*That squishy looking orange thing? It is a failed experiment – I left the yams in the oven, wrapped in tinfoil for too long and they turned into squishy orange things with very little flavour.