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Bud Light Lime-a-Rita (and Bud Light Platinum)

I’m woefully behind on some posting, but wanted to pay homage to the fact that around Super Bowl, the fine folks from Weber Shandwick sent me a really cool case of Bud Light Platinum to try. But I don’t mean a case of beer. I mean four bottles of beer in a hard case that looked like an important brief case. Or like something that might carry a million one dollar bills. Anyway, the beer was (is) delicious….it’s a bit different than regular Bud Light–smooth and yet a bit stronger. It’s triple filtered so it’s got that “clean taste” that beer companies like to talk about. And my kid loves bringing that case to Trader Joe’s every Saturday–I have no idea why, maybe he expects to fill it up with more Bud Light Platinum?

Also, these fine folks (I’m not buttering up my publicist friends too much) sent me the new Bud Light Lime-A-Rita. It’s an 8 oz. can of margarita-flavored malt beverage with a twist of Bud Light Lime. If you like margaritas, and especially if you like beer too, this is the perfect summer cocktail for you. It’s potent for a canned beverage, and mighty tasty. And that lime and/or margarita taste is just perfect for summer cookouts. And with Memorial Day in the rear view mirror, it’s time for summer cocktails indeed. Cheers!

Low carb doesn’t have to suck

I am in need of having to shed a few pounds again, this time more than ever…oops.

So I’m eating low-carb again for a bit….and started this morning with this creation I came up with on the fly–an overeasy ham omelet. Here is how you do it….

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Put two thin slices of ham in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping every 30 seconds until crispy. Then crack an egg over each ham slice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and let cook for about 2-4 minutes, or until whites are almost all opaque. Then gently flip the ham slices over each egg yolk as if it were an omelet. Cook for another 30 seconds and serve.

My yolk was still runny, exactly what I wanted to achieve with this. And with the crispy ham, it was perfect and made me feel like I wasn’t even eating what you might call “diet food.” Give this one a try, especially if you’re doing South Beach or something similar.

Who Needs A Cookbook When You Have Your Cell Phone?


Pizza Man (Photo credit: ms4jah)

Time for dinner and the man of the house is cooking tonight, so what will it be? Meatloaf? Pork chops? Pizza? How about chicken kiev or trout almondine? Men across the globe are discovering their kitchens, learning that cooking is not only a great way to impress the family, but it is also a lot of fun. There is also a great sense of pride in preparing a healthy, yet delicious, maybe even gourmet meal for the family.

It is quickly learned that finding and planning something interesting and tasty each night for a family is no small task. Who has time to plow through a cookbook everyday, and then shop for every ingredient listed? Do I have some of that at home? Where do they sell bok choi? I don’t want to buy a large jar of dried cilantro when I only need a little. Keeping it together can sour even the most determined chef.

Your cell phone can help. Almost every guy out there has his cell phone on him day and night. Almost anything you need for preparing and serving that perfect dinner can be found right at your fingertips. Use your Samsung galaxy phone to guide you through the kitchen.

1. Finding The Recipes.

There are apps for the phone to help you with recipes. Once you find the ones you like the best, you can keep them right on your phone, available for the next time you want to create that particular dish. Don’t know what to make? Do a search right from your phone. You can even enter ingredients you have on hand, and your cell phone can find a recipe for them.

2. Finding The Best Ingredients.

Using your phone to track down the ingredients you need will save you time and money, as you will not have to run from store to store. You will know exactly where each item is and plan your shopping accordingly. You can also look up sales and even plan a budget meal when the end of the month is near and the dollars need to be stretched a little more.

3. Troubleshooting.

Inevitably on your quest to become the master chef of the house, there will be mistakes. The souffle will flop, the butter will burn, or the meat will be tough. You can use your cell phone to look up ways to do it better next time, and learn little tricks to prevent the mistakes from happening the next time.

Suddenly pizza night becomes gourmet pizza night, not a quick-fix dinner, but a gourmet dinner worthy of the highest compliments. Whether you are a seasoned chef, who knows all the ropes, or a beginner, just learning the ropes, using your cell phone is a great way to keep you organized, so that you can enjoy what you are doing.

Worth the wait–beef jerky

Sometimes recipes look daunting. Or sometimes just the thought of making something delicious seems like it’s too much trouble. I subscribe to a great magazine called Clean Eating. Of course, I don’t eat as healthy as I should, or by the standards of this magazine all that much (if you read this blog, you know I have a soft spot for junk food)–but I do try to at the very least use it for some healthy habits and for some killer recipes. So last week my wife was reading the letters to the editor about how great their homemade beef jerky recipe was. I had missed that, so I dug it up from the January/February issue to see what the fuss was about.

And as you can see by the attached photo, it sure looked like a lot of work, and a bit complicated because you have to take out your oven racks, reposition them, hang the jerky from the racks on skewers, put foil down and use a towel to absorb moisture. You also have to freeze the meat to cut it easier, then marinate it for 3-6 hours before baking/dehydrating it for 5 hours or more. That’s a long day. So after buying a nice London broil on Saturday, I looked closer at the recipe and became scared. I didn’t want to spend all day Sunday doing this.

But on Monday I felt guilty and felt like I really should give it a go. I pulled out the recipe again in the morning, and fortunately I work from home. So I did it. I froze the meat for an hour, cut it, marinated for 3 hours, then did all the funky oven stuff (which was not difficult or time consuming as I had thought) and let the strips of deliciousness cook or dry out or whatever it does…for five hours. The result…..fantastic. Here I have homemade jerky that is tasty, spicy, just chewy enough, and with no ingredients I can’t pronounce. The only problem is that big batch from Monday is almost gone already. So it’s time to make more!

Note: I couldn’t find this recipe online, but I will reach out to the editor to see if they have one or a pdf…and if you’re interested in that, e-mail me at mikeyskitchen@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

Food Network Star is back

If you are a reality show junkie, you can get your fix pretty much year-round and on every major, minor and/or cable network. Food Network’s signature reality show–the type of show that has weekly eliminations–is Food Network Star, the program they use as a breeding ground for, um, Food Network stars. It’s now in its 8th season, and what really put this show on the map was the winner of Season 2–a dude named Guy Fieri. More recent winners have been Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King; Aarti Sequeira, and her show Aarti Party; and Melissa D’Arabian (Ten Dollar Dinners).

In recent seasons, they have had 8-10 contestants, but this year they expanded it to 15 and started it earlier in the calendar year. The first episode aired last Sunday and episode 2 was last night. This year, instead of having regular judges and food network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson along with network superstar Bobby Flay, the producers have done it differently by making up three teams of five–each with a coach. Flay is now a coach, and his competitors are Giada De Laurentiis (who was a judge for most of last season) and Alton Brown (who has also guested on the show) The contestants were hand-picked by each coach–and as you might expect, they sort of reflect their coaches’ personalities and, to some degree, their cooking styles. The team that wins the weekly challenges is all safe, and Bob and Susie choose one from each of the other two teams for potential elimination. The two are given a task in which they will be judged by Bob and Susie only.

Some of these contestants look like stars immediately, which is usually the case early on. It’s also typical for some of them to look just awful the first week or two as they may know how to cook, but presenting that on camera and/or to a live audiences is another thing altogether. There just aren’t many people out there who can do that effectively. Cristie Schoen from Team Alton is one of those who just couldn’t do this, and she was sent packing last Sunday. But Josh Lyons from Team Giada barely escaped elimination. That guy fronts a rock band (something he referred to about twelve times last week) but he is really awkward talking about food on camera.

Last night it was between Kara Sigle of Team Bobby and Judson Allen of Team Alton. If Alton had lost another team member, it would not have looked good. But Kara was the one sent home, and wow, was she ever awful in the main challenge, in which the contestants had to use a landmark NYC restaurant as a reference point to create a dish that they had to describe while being a “tour guide” on a double decker bus. Kara had Sylvia’s in Harlem, known for chicken & waffles. Kara complained about her assignment and was doomed from the beginning, especially when she tried to just re-create the dish and not do anything creative with the idea.

So it’s down to 13, and while we don’t intend to post a weekly recap, we may write about the show every once in a while. If you watched it last night, let us know your thoughts in the space below.

Pink slime–no, thanks

It’s become a buzzword/term in 2012–pink slime.

Like you, I had no idea what it was until I read an article two months ago in Mother Jones. This is how the article describes it: “the cheeky nickname for scraps of slaughtered cow that have been pulverized, defatted, subjected to ammonia steam to kill pathogens, and congealed into a filler for ground beef.” It goes on to say that McDonald’s was using it but planned to stop doing so, along with Taco Bell and Burger King, who also succumbed to the public outcry.

But pink slime is apparently in school lunch ground beef. It’s in packaged and frozen burgers, and even in commercially sold ground beef. Wow. How the hell do you get around that if you eat and enjoy burgers, meatballs, meat loaf or other ground meat products?

I know what I”m doing. I’m not eating fast food ground meat. I’m thinking twice before ordering something made with ground beef in a restaurant. For home use, we buy ground beef from a local farm (at the farmer’s market here in Madison) that we know is organic and high quality, or from Trader Joe’s, which states on its website that their ground meat does not contain pink slime. We are not ready to give up meat entirely, but what we are also doing is trying to eat one or two vegetarian meals per week.

I am not naive enough to think that there isn’t crap like this in many foods–or pesticides or whatever. But pink slime? It’s vile, it’s scary and it has no place on my plate or on my family’s plates.

Product Review: Planter’s NUT-rition Men’s Health Recommended Mix

Chef JimThat’s a mouthful of a title, huh? Well, it’s a pleasant mouthful of nuts too (insert Beavis and Butthead snickering). Seriously, this new Planter’s NUT-rition Men’s Health Recommended Mix is a simple combination of peanuts, pistachios and almonds. And before I get to the health benefits, let me just say that it’s a winning combo. I like having peanuts in my nut mixes, and more often than not lately they are not included. But Planter’s is sort of known for their peanuts, almonds are the new peanuts, and shelled pistachios are becoming more popular as well.

I don’t think this is how it’s supposed to go down, but when I opened the can I inhaled almost half of it. I don’t want to look and see how many servings that is. But they are delicious, fresh, and a filling snack. There are six grams of protein per serving, six vitamins and minerals and 3 grams of fiber.

And not only are these nuts sold in a can, they also sell them in a six-pack of single serving (1 oz.) bags to take on the go–an excellent stash for your desk to go along with all that jerky and cheese sticks (or if you are like me, a bit too much candy and assorted junk food).

Look for a media blitz geared toward guys, but I can tell you my wife took a few bags to work as well and also enjoyed them. Planter’s, you have another winner.

Product review: Element Bars

I realize that this blog is often geared toward recipes, reviews and ideas that are not exactly healthy. But we do include our share of healthy ideas, and truth be told, my gut is growing in inverse proportion to the inactivity I’ve endured following recent back surgery. And so I need to eat better, something that is always easier when it’s more convenient.

Well, there is a product that was pitched to me recently for this blog that is healthy, convenient, and tasty–and has the added bonus of being gluten free–Element Bars. Standard granola bars often have so much added sugar or other sweeteners that offset the health benefits. Protein bars have long lists of ingredients that you can’t pronounce and usually they have this weird aftertaste. And there has been another wave of bars–the all natural kind, and Element Bars fit that bill. But they take it a step further by allowing you to customize your bars.

Go to www.elementbars.com, and poke around. You can make your own bars based on whether you’d like them chewy, oaty, crispy, datey or fruit&nut. Those are the “core” parts of the bar, and from there you add whatever types of dried fruit, nuts, sweeteners (such as honey or maple syrup) and “boosts” such as whey, fiber or Omega-3. But you can also order pre-determined recipes, and some flavors I sampled were Datey Divine, PB Power, Almond Sunrise, Cherry Charge, Banana Repair, and Cherry Chocolate.

They were all delicious, and I’m not just saying that because they sent me product to try. But there was the added bonus of knowing I was eating something all natural and good for me–with good amounts of fiber or protein or both. I have to say though that I was really partial to the “Cherry Charge,” which had oats and whey crisps, as well as dried cherries and cashews. And maybe one of the best points here–I was running out the door twice recently and realized I had no time to make breakfast. I grabbed an Element Bar, ate one in the car and my hunger was curbed for a few hours. No joke. I guess when you give your body the nutrients it needs, you don’t get hungry. Imagine that!

Seriously though, for you folks that are health conscious, you won’t find a bar that tastes this good with this much nutrition. Or one that you can create on your own. Now that’s good marketing.

For more information, check out www.elementbars.com

Product review: Gatorade’s three new items and Cam Newton endorsement

Sometimes food and sports intersect, and as a fan of both, that doesn’t bother me one bit. So when I was asked to check out three new items from Gatorade, and plug Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton’s endorsement, it was hard to say no.

First off, the products–new Gatorade G Series Energy Chews; 28 oz. thirst quencher bottle; and G Series Protein Recovery Shake. The chews were orange flavor and came in a small sleeve with six chews. You squeeze the wrapper, making them easy to pop out and into your mouth, and a serving size is six chews/one package. Let me say that not only were they tasty like a big soft jelly candy, but I tried these on Thursday afternoon, and I literally felt like I was going to fly out the roof of my office. I think it has to do with the B-vitamins, but wow.

The 28 oz. thirst quencher bottle (they sent me this in orange as well) was regular Gatorade, or what they call the “perform” part of their new-ish “prime-perform-recover” mantra. But the bottle had an hour glass shape, making it easy to hold, and likely easier to hold with sweaty hands than the standard bottle of water or sports drink.

Finally, the G Series Protein Recovery Shake. Well, I had back surgery a few months ago and have not been able to work out beyond walking, so it’s not like I could test out the post-workout aspect. But I know the difference between chocolate milk and a protein shake. Protein shakes often tasty chalky or too much like health food. But the G Series chocolate flavor they sent was more like chocolate milk–no weird aftertaste, and delicious.

As for Cam Newton, here is a clip of him discussing staying ahead of the competition, including proper nutrition that now involves the G Series Energy Chews:

If you work out a lot, or even a little…or if you love Gatorade like I do, you should check this stuff out.

Foods I miss from…..Nashville

So trying to remember the foods I like from the places I’ve lived has become fun and has also jogged my memory, and made me hungry. So here is the latest one, foods I miss from Nashville, where we lived from 2003 to 2010. Nashville is known for its music, but it’s also smack dab in the middle of the South, and has its own regional food but also some unexpected treasures. Here we go…..

Fried chicken at Loveless Cafe–Good luck getting a table at this institution on the western fringe of Nashville. But it’s well worth the wait, especially the fried chicken and biscuits. My goodness, my mouth is watering thinking about the crispy on the outside, moist on the inside deliciousness that is Loveless fried chicken. Their biscuits are served with homemade jams and are also insanely good.

Hot chicken–Considering my love for spicy food, I didn’t get this nearly enough, but it’s quite a regional blast of heat and flavor. I think the chicken is broiled or baked (maybe fried but at this point it doesn’t matter). What matters is that it’s dusted and doused in cayenne pepper, giving it a high level of spice but also a blast of flavor that is just awesome.

Green Curry–yeah, I know, it seems odd, but Royal Thai made some of the best green curry I’ve ever tasted. And we lived right around the corner from this spot.

Pizza--There is great pizza in most places, and Nashville is no exception–the best there are Sal’s (authentic NYC style) and Mafiaozo’s, an awesome Italian restaurant in the 12 South neighborhood. The latter had a two-for one happy hour special so that you could have kickass wood-fired pizza and two frosty beers at once served at the same time.

Rippy’s Ribs–This downtown spot served dry-rubbed Memphis style ribs–smoked and dusted with Cajun spices. Damn, I’m hungry!

Popsicles–Las Paletas is another 12 South institution, down the street from Mafiaozo’s, and the perfect dessert spot in summer. They made homemade popsicles in crazy flavors like avocado or hot pepper/chocolate or cantaloupe along with traditional flavors like strawberry. There is really nothing like this place.

Meat and three–The best place for this that I found was Arnold’s downtown. Remarkable stuff like meat loaf, fried chicken, pot roast or chicken and dumplings, that were served with three sides such as mac & cheese, collard greens, creamed corn, or a gazillion other choices. The key is the meat, and three sides….reminding you of comfort food your mom made (at least if you grew up like I did). But also, the food is outstanding at Arnold’s (which was recently featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives).

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