Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Easy Pork Shoulder

Tonight, I made something that Wanda recommended from the Martha Stewart website, Easy Pork Shoulder.
Easy Pork Shoulder

  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (7 pounds)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ½ cup water

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using a sharp knife, score the fat (but not the meat) on 1 boneless pork shoulder (7 pounds) in a diamond pattern. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Place pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan or large Dutch oven with ½ cup water. Roast until some fat has rendered, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Tightly cover pan with foil or a lid. Cook until meat is very tender, about 4 hours. When cool enough to handle, remove fat from top of roast. Using two forks, shred meat into bite-size pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat.

It took all night to cook, so we’ll eat it tomorrow, along with another recipe recommended by Wanda. It smelled wonderful while cooking, and the little nibble I tried while shredding the pork tasted pretty good, too.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Roast Salmon

I've been wanting to try this recipe ever since I saw it in the February 2012 issue of Food & Wine magazine.
Roast Salmon with Whole-Grain-Mustard Crust
  • ¼ cup whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons minced chives
  • Four 8-ounce skin-on wild salmon fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, olive oil and chives.
  2. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place them skin side down on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture over the tops of the fillets. Roast the fish for 6 minutes.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Broil the salmon 6 inches from the heat for about 4 minutes, until the mustard crust is browned and the salmon is almost cooked through. Using a spatula, carefully slide the salmon fillets off their skins and transfer to plates; leave the skin on, if desired. Serve immediately.
I halved the recipe, but since there were still four fillets, only thinner, there wasn't enough mustard mixture to completely cover the fillets. While cooking, this dish smelled wonderful. The flavor didn't live up to the smell, in my opinion, but then again, I'm not a huge fan of salmon. Tom scraped the mustard mixture off of the salmon, but said the flavor still infused the fish, and that it was good. And that's all I can ever hope for.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Purple Friday

This Purple Friday celebrated the Conference Championship game. It was pretty exciting, and there was a lot of talk about the Ravens' SuperBowl prospects. We did most of the usual things: restaurants, schools, supermarkets and business places across the Baltimore area. There were a lot of new items as well, from new band members participating, to the stop at a mall where Matt Stover and Quadry Ismael were interviewed, and to the stop at a YMCA - and we were running on time. The gig ran later than usual, since there was only one shift, but it really got us pumped up for the game!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


A fan of the band and it's "new" rhythm section, that has season tickets on the 40 yard line (right in front of where the rhythm section sets up for our performances), came to band tonight. He made a fabulous guitar out of wood from an old barn.

He presented it to the band, and the band played a few tunes for him, which featured the guitar he had made. I think it'll be put on display rather than be played, but it's still pretty darn cool.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alfredo & Spicy Chicken

For dinner this evening, I decided to try two things.
Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

  • ½ pound dry fettuccine pasta
  • 3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup cream
  • Nutmeg
  1. Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil and drop in your fettuccine.
  2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over low heat. Add the cream to the butter as it melts. Stir often to combine the two, do not turn off the heat, but keep the heat at its lowest setting while the pasta cooks.
  3. When the fettuccine is al dente (cooked, but still a little firm) lift it out of the pot with tongs and move the pasta to the sauté pan. Do not drain the pasta. You want it dripping wet with the cooking water. Turn on the heat under the sauté pan to medium and swirl the pasta and butter together to combine. Add half the cheese, then swirl and toss the pasta until it has incorporated into the sauce. If needed, add a few spoonfuls more of the pasta cooking water. Add the rest of the cheese and repeat.
  4. Serve at once with either a little black pepper (for classic version) or nutmeg (for creamy version) ground over the pasta.
The Alfredo sauce turned out really well. My standard for that type of dish is from the Tidewater, and this recipe stood up to the test.
Popeye’s Fried Chicken Copycat

  • 3-3 ½ lb frying chicken , with skin cut up
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Melt butter in 13x9-inch pan in oven.
  2. In shallow dish, mix flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Coat chicken with flour mixture. Place chicken, skin sides down, in pan.
  3. Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Turn chicken; bake about 30 minutes longer or until juice is clear when thickest part is cut to bone (170°F for breasts; 180°F for thighs and legs).
This chicken did not turn out as well as the pasta did. I love Popeye's fried chicken, and after searching the Internet for clones, I thought that this version had the least amount of wierd stuff. It was also the closest, ingredient-wise, to a recipe for Oven Fried Chicken that I make from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. So, I used the clone's ingredients, and Betty Crocker's directions. Oh my, was it spicy. Way too spicy for Tom, and almost too spicy for me. It was so spicy, I couldn't tell if the flavor was even close to Popeye's! Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ravens vs. Texans

Boy, I wish the Ravens would play consistently. At the beginning of the game, it looked like the Ravens were going strong, but somewhere before halftime, they began to slack off, and even though they won, 13-20, the Ravens could’ve been beaten by Houston at any minute! What a nail biter that game was. I just hope they step up their performance for the New England game next week.
The band didn’t perform at halftime, since the NFL had designated the halftime of the 1:00 game on Sunday to recognize Punt, Pass and Kick nationally.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crab Imperial

I've been in the mood for snow crab legs lately, and after going to the grocery store and seeing how expensive they were, I saw a can of lump crab meat that was on sale, and decided to do a crab imperial.
Crab Imperial

  • 8 oz jumbo lump Phillips crabmeat
  • 3 oz mayonnaise
  • ½ t parsley
  • 1 T half and half
  • ¾ t fresh lemon juice
  • 5/8 t Phillips Seafood Seasoning
  • 2 T whole egg, beaten (½ egg)
  • ¾ t Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ t melted butter
  • 2 ramekins for baking (or empty natural crab shells)
  • Pinch of paprika

Combine parsley, ½ t fresh lemon juice, egg, ½ t Phillips Seafood Seasoning, ½ t Worcestershire sauce, 1½ oz mayonnaise and melted butter in medium mixing bowl and whip until smooth. Place crabmeat in separate mixing bowl and pour mixture over top. Blend all ingredients together by tossing gently to avoid breaking lumps of crabmeat. Place 4 oz of the mix into each ramekin and bake at 400°F for 12-15 min. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1½ oz mayonnaise, half and half, 1/8 t Phillips Seafood Seasoning, ¼ t fresh lemon juice, and ¼ t Worcestershire sauce in mixing bowl. Whip until smooth. Top each ramekin of baked crab imperial with sauce and pinch of paprika. Broil until golden brown. Serves two.
I've made this recipe before, and I think it's delicious. Tom, of course, loved it, too.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Purple Friday - Relentless

Ah, Purple Friday! The caravan went well, except that we ended up running about a half hour late due to traffic. Our police escort didn’t hold up their end of the bargain…
We visited eateries, schools, and businesses all over the Baltimore area, spreading Ravens Playoff cheer wherever we went. We were even followed around for part of the time by some Houston television crews. They haven’t had a playoff game in a long time and were really impressed with Baltimore’s spirit. The Pep Band even got some air time on the local news, which I was impressed with.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pork Medallions with Dijon-Mushroom Sauce

Lately, I’ve been really crazy over a creamy mushroom sauce that Ted cooks at the Tidewater. I get it served over rice with chicken, and although I’ve never been a huge fan of mushrooms, I think that this dish is wonderful. What’s even better is that Tom loves the leftovers that I bring home - and he hates mushrooms (among many other things). While scanning the Pillsbury website for a new recipe to try out, I found this recipe and was dying to try it out.
Pork Medallions with Dijon-Mushroom Sauce
  • 5 teaspoons butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped ( 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 jar (4.5 oz) Green Giant sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin (½ to ¾ lb), cut into 8 (¾ inch-thick) slices
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cognac or apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • Fresh thyme sprigs or basil leaves, if desired

  • In 8-inch skillet, melt 2 teaspoons of the butter over medium heat. Add shallot and mushrooms; cook and stir 1 minute or until tender. Remove from skillet.
  • To same skillet, add remaining 3 teaspoons butter and the oil. Add pork; cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning slices halfway through cooking, until browned and no longer pink in center. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove from skillet; cover to keep warm.
  • Gradually add cognac to same skillet; stir in mustard and cream. Heat to boiling; boil 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Add mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute or unlit thoroughly heated. Serve sauce over pork slices; garnish with thyme.

The flavors were good. The recipe didn’t make as much sauce as I would have hoped, so if I make it again, I would double that part. Tom was kind enough to say that the tenderloin was excellent, and when prodded, he said that the flavor of the sauce was good.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Employee Party 2012

With the employee party looming, I had discussed with some co-workers my desire to bring a dish, since I just get tired of the same old food all the time. I wanted to bring a crock-pot, and start it when I got to work, then it would be ready in time for the party. I threw out the idea of chili, but the girls thought that might not work well with all of the drinking that would happen. So, we decided on chicken and dumplings. I combined a few recipes I found on-line, and here's how I made my very first Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings
Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 medium carrots, cut up (about 1 cup)
  • 2 celery ribs, cut up (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • ¼ c chopped onion
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • ½ t dried thyme
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • ½ t black pepper
  • 1 can cream of chicken
  • 1 can cream of mushroom
  • 1 can buttermilk biscuits
  • ½ c frozen peas

  1. Put all ingredients except biscuits and peas in crock pot. Stir well to combine (I also decided to add one can of milk and one can of water).
  2. Cut biscuits into quarters, and add to crock pot, stirring until just combined.
  3. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on Low setting, or 3-4 hours on High.
  4. About two minutes before serving, add peas.

With more discussion, we thought a dish with bread would be good, because of all of the alcohol that would be consumed. A few days ago, Wanda had told me about a recipe she tried for Crack Bread, which was fashioned after a recipe found on Plain Chicken. So, I had to try it. Of course, slight modifications were made, and here's what I came up with.
Cheesy Bacon Ranch Pulls

  • 1 round loaf unsliced sourdough
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 2-3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 T dry Ranch dressing mix

Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions. Do not cut through the bottom crust. Place shredded cheese in between cuts. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on bread, making sure to get in between cuts. Mix together butter and Ranch dressing mix. Pour over bread. Wrap the entire loaf in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

The employee party went pretty well. Employees ate, drank, danced, played beer pong, and participated in a Chinese Gift Exchange. The people who tried out my food said they liked it. The Chicken and Dumplings turned out really well, with just a teeny bit too much pepper. I left the Crack Bread to one of the chefs to bake for me, and he overcooked it a little. It was mostly tasty, but as hard as I tried to distribute it evenly, I did get a piece with an uncomfortable amount of powdered ranch on it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Playoff T-Shirts

Tonight, at band practice, we got playoff t-shirts.

Pretty cool!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

Today, I made yet another Christmas cookie that I found in the Food Network magazine, Chocolate Truffles.

Chocolate Truffles
Bring 1 cup cream and ½ stick butter to a boil in a saucepan; pour over 1 pound finely chopped chocolate in a bowl. When melted, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until smooth. Chill until firm. Scoop with a spoon and roll into balls, then roll in crushed peppermint candies, chopped nuts or cocoa powder. Chill.

They were surprisingly easy to make, and tasty to eat.

Sunday, January 1, 2012