Thursday, April 03, 2014

How you doin’ Happy Easter!

Spring had sprung and we are so ready for it. Can you believe the winter that this country has had? From coast to coast it has been crazy weather. On the western slope we are ready for hiking, fishing, picnics on the Mesa, spring on the monument and so much more.

Easter is late this year, April 20... Very appropriate here in Colorado, if you get my drift! What do you do for Easter? Do you have the big feast? Or is more about the chocolate coma? Either way I hope you are spending time with great friends and family.

Our Easter celebration has evolved over the years due to kiddos getting older (mind you I am not getting older, just the kids),  we still have an egg hunt and each person gets to hide the eggs, and then there is an egg toss with raw eggs (yuck), and we try to play a game like win, lose, or draw. The goal is to spend some time together and just have fun.

As for food, we are pretty easy going, some years we have a ham dinner, and some years we just make sandwiches...this year I want to try something new. What do you do for food? Leg of lamb? Prime rib? Grill?

This is what I am want to do...

Inspired by Jamie Oliver's Roasted Shoulder of Lamb

6 pounds bone in leg of lamb
8 fresh sprigs rosemary
6 garlic cloves whole and unpeeled
Melted coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Lay your leg of lamb fat side up on a cutting board and score the fat all the way across the top. Do this by taking your knife and applying slight pressure with the front end of the knife run it all the way across the top of the fat and continue until the entire top fat is scored and then do it the opposite direction to create a crosshatch.

Lay 4 sprigs rosemary and 3 garlic cloves in bottom of a roasting pan and place meat scored fat side up on top of the rosemary and garlic (remember to leave the garlic cloves whole and unpeeled).

Lightly drizzle coconut oil over the scored fat part of the meat just enough to lightly coat most of it (about a tablespoon), add salt, pepper and lay the remaining whole unpeeled garlic and rosemary on top of the meat.

Tent the entire roasting pan with foil and place in the oven, as soon as you put it in the oven close the door and immediately turn the oven down to 325 degrees.

Let it roast in the oven covered the entire time for about 4 hours. Once it is done the bone should be easy to remove.

This meat is so tender it isn't really possible to slice it so it is easier just to pull it off with a fork and put it on your plate.

On the side, I am going to cook some Yukon gold potatoes in the pressure cooker, roast some broccoli, and maybe a nice salad.

Happy spring

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Food bucket list…

Do you have a bucket list? Places you want to visit or activities you want to do before you kick the bucket? I have a food bucket list… that may sound strange, but I want to try different culinary options. Whether it is location dining (France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, etc.) or glamorous dining like the French Laundry ( I think it would be exciting to eat food that is famous for being the place where it all started like a philly in Philadelphia, Wings in Buffalo, Kansas City BBQ, Gumbo in New Orleans, and the list goes on.
I am so surprised by the food myths that are prolific in this country… Olive Garden is delicious, but is it really how they make Italian food in Italy (styles varies from region to region), Tacos in the U.S. are not like the myriad of taco types in Mexico and across Latin America, and do you really think that the Irish all stay home on St. Paddy’s day and have corned beef and cabbage?

This is an excerpt from the History Channel’s website:
So how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage? Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other “undesirable” European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.

Now that you are in on the secret… does that change your menu? Nope, not for me. I have a corned beef in the fridge and a couple heads of cabbage. It will be deliciously not original, but maybe we can elevate our notions and try something new. 

Here is what I am working on…
And I will have a few beers (Irish or not) to celebrate on March 17th. Let me know what you are doing for the holiday at or on Facebook at

Erin go Braugh

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Valentine's Day

Do you celebrate the most romantic day of the year? Or do who rage against the commercialism of the made up holiday?
I am in the middle, I try to make sure that I am making extra effort to make my wife feel special, but since I am a guy it is nice to have a multibillion dollar event to give me some ideas.
Flowers, wine, candlelight, cards, gifts, and of course chocolate.
Chocolate is universal for Valentine’s Day and any other day that want to make your significant other feel special. Not only is it tasty, but it can be good for your health.
It is a versatile ingredient that can be sweet or savory, or in this case both.
I adapted this recipe from queen of Bitchin’ Kitchen, Nadia G. Her recipe called for milk chocolate, maple bacon, and crisp rice cereal, but I modified it just a tad.

Don’t go bacon my chocolate walnut heart bark (catchy name, no?)
3 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate
3 ounces milk chocolate chips
2 ounces toasted walnut pieces
6 slices of cooked bacon, minced
1 tablespoon honey
A pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave proof bowl (30 seconds at a time) until you can stir the chocolate into a smooth consistency. Meanwhile toast your walnuts in a dry skillet. Add minced bacon and honey to walnuts and stir to combine.
Combine the chocolate and the bacon/nut mixture (keep in mind that the mix should be about 65% chocolate and 35% bacon/nut mixture) and spoon into a parchment lined small bar pan, ramekin, or silicon mold. Sprinkle with a little sea salt (or fleur de sel if you have some on hand) and freeze for about 30 minutes.

I chose the bar pan and broke it into pieces to share with the woman I love. 

Happy Valentine’s Day Brandy!

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any cooking questions at

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The cheesy meltdown of 2014 --- i.e. the impending Velveeta shortage

So everyone, ok maybe not everyone, but quite a few people have posted about the impending Velveeta shortage, I thought it would be helpful to set the collective minds at ease. 


I know it seems like it would be impossible, but almost every processed food product that you can buy started as a real recipe in someone’s kitchen. Twinkies are sponge cakes with a cream filling, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was made in grandma’s kitchen without all the chemicals and fluorescent colors (BTW kudos to Kraft for taking the artificial colors out of some of their products).

Back to cheese… cheese sauce is fairly simple to make because it is basically cheese gravy. Yep you read that right… cheese gravy (don’t those words just seem to flow together?).
This concept applies to cheese sauce for nachos/fries, vegetables, pasta, etc. 

 Image courtesy of joephotostudio/

Cheese Sauce
Use this cheese sauce on vegetables, pasta, or use in other dishes.

Total Time: 10 minutes


    3 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
    1 1/2 cups milk
    1 cup grated sharp Cheddar or smoky flavor Cheddar cheese

Options: Cumin (smoky flavor), smoked paprika (will color the sauce, but brings a smoky heat), 
jalapeno (diced or dried), your choice of hot sauce


Melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually add milk, stirring until well mixed. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Cook for 5 minutes longer; add cheese. Stir until smooth and well blended. Serve with pasta or vegetables.
Makes 2 cups.

Go Broncos!!! Trace

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Under Pressure…

We all have been under pressure at one time or another especially during the holidays. Pressure can be a great thing… in particular when it is combined with heat. Diamonds anyone? Ok so hopefully your cooking shines like a diamond, but is not as hard.

I actually have wanted to write about pressure cookers since last spring…but I have hesitated because of the Boston Marathon bombing. Understandably there was concern about safety and there was a national emphasis being put on internet searches involving pressure cookers and I did not want my blog to gain that type of attention.

I received a pressure cooker from a friend and I am eternally grateful. These are amazing tools. I remember my grandma used hers often, but I did not have any inkling about what she was doing. She made the most amazing swiss steak, tomatoey, vinegary, unctuous, and comforting. I do not have her recipe, but I have been cooking everything else that I can think of in my new best friend.
Pressure cookers are unique and therefore they can cause some unrest. The science behind it is that when you pressurize a vessel it raises the boiling point of water. At sea level water boils at 212° F, under 15 psi water boils at 250° F. This allows the food to cook faster at higher temperature without drying out. The pressure builds in the sealed pot and it makes noise and lets off a little steam, and this can understandably cause some concern. Many years ago there were some problems with pressure cookers not being safe due to faulty gaskets or incorrect use, but now there are several varieties and as long as you follow directions you should have no problem.
Why should you use a pressure cooker? It is a quick and efficient way to cook food. Everything from mashed potatoes to pot roast can be cooked in a pressure cooker and the results are amazing.  Pot roast in the oven can take up to three hours or more… but pot roast in a pressure cooker happens in an hour and the taste is unmatched.

You can overcook food and therefore I recommend following the directions exactly (or you can turn California blend vegetables into an interesting puree). Trust me…

Check out this quick mashed potatoes recipe…
    2 lbs. Idaho Russet potatoes, quartered
    1 cup water
    1/3 cup half and half
    4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
    Salt / pepper

Place peeled and quartered potatoes into the steamer basket or on metal trivet of your pressure cooker. Add water to your potatoes. Pressure cook on HIGH for 5-7 minutes, using the natural release method.
Drain potatoes, add 1/2 and 1/2 and butter, mash and stir vigorously. The potatoes should cream together rather quickly (if you need to you a hand mixer you can). I like to use bacon drippings and maybe some shredded cheese to make this side dish really pop.

Now go put on your Queen record and let’s put some food under pressure!!!