Category Archives: Gadgets

Mojo Roast Chicken with Black Beans and Rice

DSC_0544 (1600x1060)I bought a bottle of sour orange juice so I could more closely replicate the mojo marinade needed for a proper roast pork  Cubano sandwich.  I haven’t done that yet, but a recipe for mojo marinated roast chicken caught my eye.  A mojo sauce is mostly olive oil with garlic, citrus, and oregano.  I used fresh oregano instead of dried in mine.  The lemon and lime juices in the recipe are intended to get to the sour/bitter taste profile of the sour orange juice when sour orange isn’t available and regular orange juice is substituted.  Lacking a rotisserie on my grill I used the beer can roaster gadget with good result.DSC_0541 (1600x1060)A recipe for Cuban style black beans and rice worked well and fit the general theme of the plate.  I have no Idea if broccoli plays much part in the Cuban diet but I like it so I steamed some florets and gave them a squeeze of lemon.  I picked the green pepper and a couple of sweet banana peppers from my container garden to make the bean dish.  The addition of a splash of red wine vinegar to the beans right before serving them really made the dish.  I never would have thought to do that but it works!

Frozen Treats: Vanilla Nut Crunch (and Bonus Kitteh)

Vanilla Nut Crunch

It was time to break out the ice cream maker and cool things off. I’d been focusing on gelatos the last couple of summers, but yesterday I wasn’t interested in standing over the stove and stirring an egg mixture. I dug out the instruction manual for my Cuisinart machine and sure enough, there were some simple cream-only recipes. I decided to start with vanilla.

I have two favorite ice creams, one was Ben and Jerry’s Wavy Gravy, RIP (their new hazelnut is inedible IMHO) and Blue Bell’s Moo-llenium Crunch (fingers crossed they can come back from the shut down). I’ve mastered Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato and it’s a fine substitute for Wavy Gravy, so this time I thought I’d tackle the crunchy vanilla ice cream from Blue Bell.

From their description:

Classic vanilla ice cream with a combination of dark chocolate chunks, creamy caramel chunks, roasted pecan halves, chopped almonds and walnut pieces.

The nuts and crunch

Vanilla ice cream recipe? Check. Dark chocolate? Check. Caramel chunks? Nope, but we’ll get to that. Roasted pecans? Nope, will have to live without because I was not going to drop everything and run to the store. Almonds and walnuts? Check and check. On to the recipe:

Vanilla Nut Crunch

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp really good vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds (raw or roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (raw)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional ;-) )

mixing bowl, ice cream maker

In the mixing bowl, combine milk, sugar and salt, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine until sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and vanilla by hand.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s direction for your ice cream maker (for mine, I place the frozen bowl on the machine, add the paddle and the top, turn it on and then pour the ice cream mixture in while it’s turning. 30 minutes later I have ice cream).

After it has completed its freezing cycle, fold in nuts and chocolate. Freeze until hard. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts.

Remember the caramel bits? I had a bottle of caramel syrup which made a nice topping and when I was done, it was pretty darn close to Moo-llenium Crunch. I’m sure pecans will make all the difference next time.

And here is a bonus kitteh because he had to “help” me take the photos today.

Z-Man Whatcha making

For tomorrow – Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.  Until then – TaMara


Sammich Pr0n – Roast Pork BBQ

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More Chicken

20150606_161519 (1600x1060)My second go at using the beer can rack thing, this time using a bigger tray than the one provided.  I gave it a light dusting of my dry rub and brushed on some thinned BBQ sauce towards the last 15 minutes.  This one was cooked in the oven at 350 for an hour and a bit.DSC_0471 (1600x1060)Here is half of it laid out on a platter for show, with a scoop of baked potato salad and some creamy slaw.  This photo was taken by the Nikon, the next came out of the new camera phone:20150606_162452[1] (1600x1060)

Slo-Mo Hummers

More fun with the new camera phone.  Trying out the slo-mo video capture feature.  This one is quarter speed, not sure if that is a fixed setting or whether I can adjust it.  Bonus!  It uploaded the video to Youtube right from the camera over wifi.

Stir Fried Camera Fun

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20150604_165727 (1600x1060)A very tasty noodle dish with shrimp, chicken, and broccoli – two photos from two cameras of the same dish under the same conditions taken about a minute apart.  Top is from a Nikon D7000, second is from the Samsung S6.  I ran the first picture through a Snapseed photo editing app with filters that look to be doing the same basic thing the built in “FOOD” mode does for the photos taken by the Samsung.

I bought the Snapseeed Windows PC software just before Google bought them out.  It’s no longer available for the PC but they do offer it as a free app for Android phones and tablets.  It’s a pretty good editing app due to ease of use more than anything.  I’m sure Photoshop will do more but the learning curve is much steeper.

Sammich Pr0n – Camera Phone Edition

20150604_124428I used this lunch sammy to test drive the camera in the new G6 with the “Food” mode option turned on.  The brief blurb onscreen says that the app increases the vibrancy of food colors.  Seems to work OK, it was taken in ambient light and set to auto with the stabilizing function (anti-shake) enabled, EXIF info says F1.9, ISO 80, shutter speed was 1/33.  I won’t call it low light but the flash was set to auto and the camera thought it could get by without it.  So far, so good!

Patio Panorama – Gadget Post

20150604_101837[1] (1600x1060)I upgraded my phone and discovered a panoramic photo feature built in.  I downloaded the photo to my desktop and resized it.  Phone is a Samsung S6, this is the first result after a few tries to learn how to do it despite the lack of a good explanation in the help section.  The gallery app provides a slow pan when viewing the image on the phone.

I’m happy with the new phone so far but it’s not that great a leap from the last phone, a Samsung S4.  The new phone doesn’t have a removable battery or a slot for an SD card but it does have a ton more internal memory (128GB) than the miserly 16 GB I had on the S4.  There are some nifty work-arounds for limited memory in many Android devices:DSC_5355 (1600x1060)This is an OTG (on-the-go) mini Micro SD card reader – a mouthful that means you can plug it into the phone and use the material you put on the card.  The device comes with an adapter so you can plug it into a regular USB port on your computer to load with songs, movies, photos, or whatever.DSC_5356 (1600x1060)I have this one loaded with a bunch of music, it will work with SD cards up to 128 GB capacities – enough for four or five HD movies.  Cheap OTG adapter cables are available to use with regular USB card readers but I like these because they are easier to use.

Gadget Post – Beer Can Chicken Rack

DSC_0451 (1600x1060)We are really late to this, although Mrs J does remember cooking a chicken using an actual beer can, but it has been a good long time ago.  I ordered this one from Amazon and am a tad dismayed that the tray isn’t really big enough – it nearly filled with juices making it hard to move without spilling some.DSC_5351 (1600x1060)Here it is mid way through the session.  Note the “running chicken” pose – I really didn’t notice until later but it didn’t make much difference in the cooking.DSC_0444 (1600x1060)I mopped on some sauce towards the end, the high sugar content in the Sweet Baby Ray’s adds some nice char to the skin.DSC_0447 (1600x1060)Here’s half of it with some of the beans and a nice coleslaw.  The slaw dressing was pretty good – mayo with a good slug of creme fraiche.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Fun with Gadgets

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When I was sick last month, I watched a lot of cooking shows while resting on the couch. One that caught my imagination was different things that can be made in a waffle iron. That spurred the idea for tonight’s recipe exchange. Unexpected recipes for various cooking appliances.

First up, Biscuit Breakfast Sandwiches made in the waffle iron. Not as elegant as JeffreyW’s delicious looking waffle, bacon and egg sandwich pictured above, but it’s a quick- less than 10-minute – tasty breakfast. Click here for recipe and directions.

One of the best ideas I’ve heard in a long time is Grilling Pizza outside on the grill. Recipes and instruction here.

And finally, make a spinach lasagna in the slow-cooker that tastes like it was oven-baked, with this recipe for Slow-cooker Lasagna here.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Anyone else have unusual recipes for kitchen gadgets? Anyone harvesting from their garden yet? It’s just about time for my favorites here, peas and new potatoes, along with lettuce, spinach and asparagus.

Tonight’s featured recipe solved my biggest issue with hash browns, how to make them easy, quick and crisp. The waffle iron was the unexpected answer.

Cooking the hashbrowns

It’s so easy.  The best part is, there is no need to wring the water from the shredded potatoes, my least favorite step of making hash browns. It’s messy, but without that, skillet fried hash browns never crisp up properly, even with my cast iron press.

The waffle iron to the rescue. Mine is 7 inches across and enough for one potato, but it’s so fast, it was easy to make enough for everyone. I just put the finished ones in the oven to stay warm.

I shredded the potato and lightly patted the shreds with a paper towel, I mixed in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, shredded onion and garlic powder. I brushed oil on both plates and pre-heated the iron, mine has temp settings, so I put it on the highest setting. I spread the shredded potato thinly over the iron, closed the lid tight and let cook for 2 minutes, checked on them, then removed when they were crisp enough. Over the four potatoes I made, the longest time was 4:30 minutes, shortest time was a little less than 3 minutes.

Waffle hashbrowns

It was so easy and the cleanup  was basically wiping out the waffle iron with a paper towel. The next time I do it, I think I’ll add some shredded green or red pepper. It’s definitely a good way to put my waffle iron to use.

That’s it for this week. No Bixby update, although he learned how to use a drinking fountain yesterday. Pretty damn cute. I’ll try to get video for next week. Hope you have a good weekend – TaMara




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