Archive for the ‘Copycat Recipes’ Category

How To Cook A Roast Fork Tender Every Time: Long, Low & Slow Baby.

May 22nd, 2011 No comments

Long, low and slow baby was my answer to a friend who asked how to make a Beef Roast turn out fork tender cooking it in the oven.  She wanted a recipe, but I didn’t have one.  I just know the framework.  I experiment too much, a big reason for Nibbles of Tidbits… to document successes and failures, to remake successful dishes and learn from the misses.  And luckily most Beef Roasts in my past have turned out tender, but you need to have the time (and patience) — It can easily be achieved in a Crock-Pot in 8 – 12 hours, or in the oven with a little more maintenance in 3 – 4 hours, depending on Beef size.  The provided recipe uses the oven.

It’s not an original recipe, but one made by my Mom throughout my childhood — It’s not uniquely her recipe either and perhaps you’ve seen or made it before, HOWEVER it can be relied on to yield a consistently fork tender and tasty Beef Roast every time.  It’s easy too.

I made it a lot when I first moved out, though still had to call Mom to verify its simple ingredients (Beef, Beef Broth, Wine, Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix, Oil and S & P), as detailed in step-by-step photos and instructions.  Both Red and White Wine work well.

Trim the fat — You know, the area hidden at the grocery store, inevitably on the bottom.

Over the years, I’ve found almost any cut of Beef works with this recipe.  I usually buy what looks good, what’s priced well and what expires last.  The one used here is 2 1/2 lbs.

RECIPE:  1 Beef cut (2+ lb. Top or Bottom Round, Eye, Chuck, Sirloin, Tri-tip, etc.), 2 Cups Beef Broth/Stock, 2 Cups Wine, 1 Packet of Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix, Oil and Salt & Pepper.  Combine all as shown and noted below to make a perfectly tender Beef Roast.

Preheat oven to 325° — S & P Beef and sear on all sides in a little Oil.

Turn off burner and add Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix to the pot.

Add the Beef Stock/Broth.

Add the Red or White Wine — Note that Red Wine will darken the Beef a bit, which is sometimes a good reason to use White Wine.  It could make final presentation prettier.

All is combined and ready for a 3 – 4 hour oven tour — At this point, I need to point out a major faux pas… The pot I used to make the pictured Roast is way too large/tall, which allows excess air around the Beef, thus drying it out.  It was still flavorful and flaky, but drier than preferred.  For best results, prepare the Beef Roast in your smallest Dutch oven.

Cover and bake in the oven.

Turn Beef every 45 minutes or so.

Turn again.

After 3 1/2 hours, remove Roast from pot, wrap in foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Make a quick Gravy by boiling the remaining liquid with a little Flour and Water.

RECIPE Alternate:  Mom prepares her Roast in a smaller pot, as recommended, and simply combines (1) Can of Beef Broth, (1) Can of Wine (using the Broth can) and Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix — Cooked at 325° for 3 – 4 hours depending on Beef size.  Need more info?

It pulls apart easily, ideal for Sandwiches, Tacos, Burritos and more.

Or just shred and top with favorite Gravy — It’s how I like it best.

This post was prepared in response to a friend’s question and for submission in the Orange County Fair’s Culinary Arts Food Blog Post Competition.  And the next Beef Roast will be tender (a happy given) and less dry with a smaller pot to fix it — An educational reminder that sometimes size does matter.  And now it’s documented to further success.

Bonus:  Another Beef Roast recipe, a Chipotle Baracoa Beef copycat I developed is linked.  It’s pretty darn good, if I do say so myself, and others think so too.  Always good, bad and funny.

Homemade Box Of Chocolates: Not As Pretty But Grandma Loves Them.

May 9th, 2011 No comments

It’s easy to make your own Box of Chocolates — It doesn’t take much time either, especially with a microwave and a good selection of Chocolate, Nuts, Fruit and decorative boxes/bags.

They turn out great if you don’t overcook the Chocolate — Always heat it in short (30 – 50 second) intervals at 50% power, stirring in between.  Melted it becomes a velvety canvas.

Almonds and Peanuts from a leftover party platter were used to make Nut Clusters.

Molds were filled with Milk and/or White Chocolate and stuffed with an Almond, Dried Apricot or Cherry, then topped off with more melted Chocolate and settled until firm, then foil wrapped.

Dried Apricots and Cherries were used to make this batch — Choose what you like best.

Toasted Coconut was used to make Milk and White Chocolate Haystacks.

Pecans and Toffee were used to make Turtles and Marshmallows and Almonds were used to make Rocky Road.  Milk, Dark and White Chocolate was utilized for markings and assortment.

Each Chocolate piece was marked, molded and/or prepared uniquely to be identifiable.

Giant Box of Chocolates (above).

Overall, they’re not as pretty as those you buy, but clean up well when placed in a cute box or cellophane bag — And could mean even more to a loved one.  They taste great too.

I also experimented with broken Graham Cracker pieces — I topped them with Marshmallows, broiled the tops in the oven and dipped ’em in melted Chocolate (pictured above), before covering them with Chocolate.  The S’more Bites ended up being a favorite.

Quick Dip Mickey Moused Chocolate Dipped Oreo Cookies.

April 14th, 2011 No comments

Quick Dip — Is that an oxymoron?  Chocolate was melted in the microwave and Oreo Cookies were being dipped 5 minutes from commencement.  And Mickey Moused, because Chocolate wasn’t tempered, nor mixed with wax, cream or butter.  Instead, Milk and White Chocolate Chips were separately melted at 50% power, in approx. 50 second intervals and stirred in between.  It was fast and turned out good, but not as great as those you buy, or the ones my friend Loretta makes.  I don’t think she’d approve of these, but we’re always experimenting.

I was most proud of the design I created on the White Chocolate Dipped Oreo above.

Dippin’ leftover Oreos in Chocolate, from the Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes we made.

Haphazard about thickness and decoration, but wanted to make ’em quick.

All was made in about 10 minutes, which is obvious looking at some.  Next time I’ll pipe the Chocolate through a baggie tip rather than use a spoon — Better design control, less sloppy.

Funny thing, growing up I wasn’t an Oreo Cookie fan and when I did have them, I’d eat the outsides and throw away the middle.  I hadn’t purchased them in years and this time didn’t need to ditch the middle.  Is there less than there used to be, like too many things?

Quick Tender Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs & A Preparation Experiment.

April 12th, 2011 No comments

Have you tried Houston’s BBQ Pork Ribs aka Knife & Fork Ribs?  They’re some of the best I’ve had and a model for how I want my Baby Back Ribs to be.  And I’m content knowing I’ve previously accomplished it, BUT sometimes there’s not the time, nor grill, then what?

The above Baby Back Ribs were baked in the oven at 400° for 1 hour wrapped in foil (fat/meat side down), then unwrapped, turned over and lathered with BBQ Sauce and cooked 20 – 30 minutes longer unwrapped.  Below is how they looked, prior to turning to sauce.

And separately below we experimented with a Dry Rub on a different slab of Baby Back Ribs.

Last year at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco, I was given a Brown Sugar Pork Rub developed by Tyler Florence.  I finally tried it on this second slab of Ribs.  And to compound the test, we cooked them as described above, but at 225° for 3 hours.

The consensus, the slower cooked Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs fell apart while cutting, not attractive for serving, and unnecessary since the top Ribs cooked in half the time and were perfectly tender.  That recipe is from Delicious House.  It’s a keeper happily collected, posted and linked here for future use.

And I’m sorry to report that I wasn’t excited by Tyler’s Brown Sugar Pork Rub, and it sounded so good too, but Salt and Pepper worked better on the first slab of Baby Backs, a winner.

Mock Caesar Salad Dressing With Toasted Parmesan Cheese-Tons.

April 9th, 2011 1 comment

I love a well prepared Caesar Salad, but when it comes to making one at home, I don’t want to work with Anchovies or raw Eggs, if I don’t have to.  In search of simplicity and flavor, I found a Caesar Salad Dressing I’ll keep forever.  It satisfies all criteria perfectly.

No-Egg Caesar Dressing (Rachael Ray’s) – Just mix all ingredients in a blender & enjoy!
1 Garlic Clove, finely chopped
1 Lemon, juice of
1 teaspoon of Tabasco
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup of Olive Oil
1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese, shredded or shaved
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

This Salad Dressing doesn’t lack for anything and can be tossed with any greens.

Once the Salad Dressing is prepared, only two more ingredients make this Caesar amazing.

Toasted Parmesan Cheese sprinkled as Croutons put this homemade Caesar over the top.

To prepare the Cheese-Tons, just add grated or shredded Parmesan to a dry skillet on medium.  Heat until each Cheese consortium crackles and pops together, then remove from skillet to cool on a paper towel.  Crumble over fresh Romaine tossed with this delicious mock Caesar Salad Dressing.  It’s made in minutes and tastes like it’s from a restaurant.

Café Du Monde (Original French Market Coffee Stand) Beignets At Home.

February 10th, 2011 2 comments

I had Beignets on the patio at Café Du Monde in New Orleans about seven years ago.  Café Du Monde is the Original French Market Coffee Stand that serves Café Au Lait and Hot Beignets aka French Doughnuts 24 Hours a day, year round.  Love ’em when they’re HOT!

Café Du Monde has been a familiar New Orleans landmark in the French Market since 1862.

You can get Café Du Monde Beignet Mix at Cost Plus World Market just in time for Mardi Gras (on March 8th) or any time of the year — I celebrate with special indulgences on a whim.

Although I don’t love frying things, every now and then it’s necessary to make certain tasty treats, such as Onion Rings, Tortilla Chips, Fried Chicken and these French Doughnuts.  They’re easy to make — Just Mix, Roll, Fry and Enjoy, as the package states.

Roll and cut into 2 1/4 inch squares as the original or into any shape you want.

A few Beignets were oddly shaped, but tasted the same.

Fry until golden brown, then sprinkle generously with Powdered Sugar.  YUM!

And since it’s easy to make and tastes so good, I prepared fresh Whipped Cream too.

All was served as an after dinner dessert with previously prepared Lemon Curd, Coffee & Milk.

It’s as simple as Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre — Check the back of the box.  Au revoir.

Toaster Oven S’mores In Less Than A Minute — Guy It’s Easy To Win It.

January 15th, 2011 No comments

Toaster Oven S’mores can be ready in less than a minute.  Do you even need instructions?

Layer as shown, then broil/toast the exposed Marshmallows and top with other Graham Cracker half.  They couldn’t turn out better!  Keep an eye out not to burn the Marshmallows and learn more about making S’mores here.  And if you want to head the opposite direction and make everything from scratch, The Cilantropist does it beautifully — Until then, these will do.  Make a bunch in the oven for a crowd.  No fire circle or wire hangers necessary.

Tapenade: An Impressive Appetizer Isn’t That Complicated At All.

January 10th, 2011 No comments

A good friend brought Tapenade to a party I had last month and left the leftovers, which I LOVED having the next day.  It tasted and looked like it was from a restaurant.  Her husband made it and I finally got the recipe (kinda).  No measurements, but I understand.  Prepare it to taste.  He simply wrote — Two kinds of Olives, Garlic (not powdered), Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasonings.  For the Italian Seasonings, I used Oregano and Basil.

I think mine (pictured) tasted like his, but I’ll have to find out if he adds more “Italian Seasonings” than Basil and Oregano.  At first the above Tapenade had too many Green Olives in it and then I overcompensated a bit with the Black Olives.  Overall, I learned that good Tapenade can be made in an instance with items always on hand.

Moroccan La La Land: Kefta With Eggs And Tomato For Brunch.

September 26th, 2010 12 comments

The challenge continues in Morocco, where I’ve mentally traveled the past few days.  As a lucky contender still kicking my way through Project Food Blog, I’m now asked to “tackle a classic dish from another culture” that’s “outside [my] comfort zone” — I can’t wait!  I’m excited to advance to Challenge #2.  Thank you judges, voters, God, family and friends.

During international cookbook immersion, a spark ignited for Kefta with Eggs and Tomato.  I had sought to find a dish we really wanted to eat, one that had unique ingredients, yet not a ridiculous amount, and one that didn’t take too long to make, and it had to be colorful — I initially thought about Rogan Josh, but it didn’t pass the color test.  Another time for that.  Selecting an “ethnic classic” I wasn’t familiar with led me on a journey, as the prompt likely intended.  Before understanding my chosen dish, I thought I’d be dining in the Middle East, then came to realize that I’d actually be in North Africa, most specifically Morocco having the pictured Kefta with Eggs and Tomato for supper with Moroccan friends.  It’s also a classic brunch dish and it’s served as a snack at bus and train stations in between both destinations.

Kefta with Eggs and Tomato (with Ras El Hanout) is pin-pointedly Moroccan and satisfies all self-imposed and set standards of this challenge.  What’s Ras El Hanout?  Last week I had no clue and I’m still not sure how to pronounce it, but now know what it is.  After calling all over town to purchase it off the shelf, I learned one jar was available 40 miles away.  At that moment I realized that it wasn’t necessary to drive there, since [it] is a somewhat subjective spice — Meaning Ras El Hanout is not one spice.  It’s sold in countless spice variations. 

In Arabic, Ras El Hanout means “top of the shop” and refers to the best spices a seller has to offer.  It usually contains no less than a dozen spices and sometimes up to a hundred.  It’s also believed to be an aphrodisiac.  Does it mean that each Ras El Hanout combination magically morphs into an aphrodisiac?  I’m not sure about that, but it’s fun to wonder about.  Since I had all ingredients on hand, I made my own Ras El Hanout to find out.  I found several recipes on the web and chose one that sounded best to me.  I halved the recipe and added two ingredients that were common in similar recipes.  Nibbles of Tidbits’ Ras El Hanout Recipe is posted here:

1 Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Ginger
1 Teaspoon of Turmeric
1 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon of Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Saffron Threads
1/2 Teaspoon of Cardamom
1/4 Teaspoon of Cloves
1/8 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

Toast and grind spices if whole, then combine all and keep in an airtight container.  I reused a saved spice jar and slapped a new label over it. 

Kefta is basically ground meat, most commonly Lamb and/or Beef that’s mixed with a variety of herbs and spices — It’s then formed into balls, sticks or loaves, and grilled, fried or baked, etc.  The recipe made here is based on one from The African and Middle Eastern Cookbook (pg. 103).  I stayed true to authenticity, yet made it a little tastier by caramelizing the Onions before adding them to the Meatball mixture, and easier by baking them instead of frying ’em.  In addition, I added Garlic, as seen in many Moroccan Kefta recipes, and I used fresh Tomatoes instead of canned.  Nibbles of Tidbits’ Kefta with Eggs and Tomato Recipe is posted here:

1 lb. of Ground Lamb
1 small chopped Sweet Onion
1 Cup of Bread Crumbs
4 – 5 Eggs
1 large minced Garlic Clove
6 large fresh chopped Tomatoes
2 + 1 Teaspoon(s) of Ras El Hanout
1/4 Cup of chopped fresh Cilantro
1/2 Cup of Water* (1/4 + 1/4)
Flat Leaf Parsley (chopped), a little for Sauce and garnish
Salt and freshly ground Pepper
Olive Oil for baking sheet and Onion sauté

Sauté Onion until caramelized.  Add Garlic, cook two minutes longer and set aside.  Combine the Lamb, Bread Crumbs, 1 Egg, Ras El Hanout (2 tsps.), Onions and Garlic, Cilantro and S & P.  Mix together well, then add Water, 1/4 cup at a time until incorporated.  Form into medium sized Meatballs and bake in a preheated 400° oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  

* Adding Water or Milk to a Meatball recipe lightens them up, whereas they cut like butta.  There’s no reason for a Meatball to be tough, unless you’re a biker named One Tough Meatball.

To make the Sauce, combine the Tomatoes, Sugar, reserved Ras El Hanout (1 tsp.) and a handful of Flat Leaf Parsley.  Simmer until reduced, then add the baked Meatballs to the Sauce.  Form 3 – 4 wells for the Eggs.  Crack ’em directly into the skillet, cover and cook until Eggs are set.  Serve straight from the skillet with Crusty Bread.

For continued authenticity, we served the Kefta with Sweet Mint Green Tea, Orange Juice and Olives, popular beverages and a snack in Morocco.  I properly mixed the Tea too.

Kefta with Eggs and Tomato turned out to be a flavorful, hearty and beautiful dish.  For this challenge, I read 15 – 20 recipes to create an adaptation that kept the dish authentic, yet made it easier to prepare and better to eat.  I can’t help it — It’s all I know. 🙂

Could this post be worthy of (1) of your (200) votes?  I hope so!  I’m exhausted, yet still wanting to line up standby guests for the Discovery Dinner Party, in the event there’s reason to celebrate.  My brain is on the last flight back from Morocco.

You may VOTE FOR ME here.

Art For A Fruit Platter Or Breakfast: A Dolphin Banana.

September 4th, 2010 No comments

I recently saw a Dolphin Banana on a party fruit platter and was compelled to make the same out of this morning’s Banana and a Spinach Leaf.  It’s not bad for a first attempt, but I think its nose is a (little) too short — Either way it made for an entertaining breakfast.  Try it.

“Serious Sliders” Recipe By The New York City Food Guy.

August 10th, 2010 No comments

I stumbled upon the above video by the NYC Food Guy — He sold me on the preparation of his Serious Sliders.  It’s different, easy and produces delicious Sliders (aka Mini Cheeseburgers).

After watching the video, we were seriously compelled to make these Sliders immediately and so did, as shown in the step-by-step photos posted below (left – right working on downward).  Hover your cursor over each photo to learn more.  It’s a fun recipe to make.

Thanks for the Serious Sliders NYC Food Guy — We’ll make ’em again.  They’re no joke!  FYI:  Lawrence, the NYC Food Guy says… “Sliders and Mini Cheeseburgers are totally different!  Sliders are actually Steamed Burgers, whereas Mini Cheeseburgers are just that, Mini Burgers.  They’re completely different animals.”  I think we may need to let a few restaurants know that.

Related Links:

Nibbles of Tidbits Sliders Smorgasbord

Sliders at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales

Too Much Cheese For Just One Party — A Little Goes A Long Way.

April 22nd, 2010 2 comments

If you’re planning a small Cheese & Wine Party, you should be set to have more than one gathering, as a little Cheese goes a long way and one shouldn’t eat the balance alone.  As previously reported, our party was inspired by a recent trip to SideDoor in Corona Del Mar.  We’ll report about our favorite Cheeses after our 2nd (or possibly 3rd) Party.  We’re almost done. 🙂 It ain’t easy being Cheesy.

Full Rainbow In The Sky Looking From My Irvine Office.

January 25th, 2010 No comments


I’m still enjoying what’s left of the Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Beef in the form of Flautas, Enchiladas, Tacos and Tostadas.  It’s provided a week’s worth of lunches and dinners during the rainy days and nights.  Convenient and delicious meals bring rainbows. 🙂

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa Beef Recipe (Wannabe) Is A WINNER.

January 21st, 2010 43 comments

Beef for Barbacoa

Since I LOVE Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa Beef so much, I had to make it.  I searched all over the internet for a recipe and discernibly chose to make this recipe, with additional ingredients that were common in other Chipotle Barbacoa Beef recipe wannabes (copycats).

Barbacoa Sauce Combination

I wanted to make my own Barbacoa Beef (partly) to avoid the unwanted fat pieces I’ve encountered in my Chipotle Tacos on more than one occasion.  They make ’em so fast.  You have to slow them down to truly get what you want, plus a side of Guacamole costs too much.

Searing the Beef   Blended Sauce poured over the Beef.   Shredded Beef

Photos parallel the step-by-step Barbacoa Beef recipe instructions above and below.  Links include recipes for Pico de Gallo and other Chipotle Mexican Grill menu items.  To accompany the Barbacoa Beef I made Refried Beans from dried Pinto Beans.  I cooked, then mashed and fried them with a little Bacon Grease, Lime Juice, Roasted Jalapeno and Salt.  They were good, but not mashed well enough — I learned it takes a fair effort and great masher.

Shredding the Beef after long slow cooking.

Please note that I’m not reporting this is Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa recipe — It’s an excellent variation of a copycat I found.  To me, it pretty much tastes just like it.  While researching this, I stumbled across another Food Blogger being reprimanded by a commenter that… “her recipe wasn’t like Chipotle’s at all.”  I don’t think that should happen here, but you never know.  Can’t win ’em all.  (03/02/12 Update: We enjoy this recipe often).

Strained Sauce poured over Shredded Beef.   Homemade Pico de Gallo   Preparing to make homemade Refried Beans from Pinto Beans.

For quick reference I’ve post the original recipe, with the changes I made to make this fabulous shredded Barbacoa Beef.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.  Enjoy it — We did.

Barbacoa Beef Recipe (Chipotle Copycat)

•1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

•3 Tbsps. Lime Juice

•4 Chipotle Peppers – Canned in Adobo Sauce

•1/2 Sweet Onion*

•5 Cloves Garlic

•4 Tsps. Cumin

•2 Tsps. Oregano – Dried Mexican variety is best

•1 ½ Tsps. Ground Black Pepper

•1 ½ Tsps. Salt

•1/8 Tsp. Ground Clove

•2 Tbsps. Vegetable or Canola Oil

•4 lb. Beef Roast – Favorite cut (Top Round, Bottom Round, Chuck, etc.)

•1 Cup of Beef or Chicken Broth

•3 Bay Leaves

•1 Juniper Berry*

1.  Combine the Lime Juice, Vinegar, Onions, Chipotle Peppers, Garlic, Cumin, Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt and Clove in a blender and blend until smooth.

2.  Cut Beef into smaller pieces (or not) and remove any excess fat.

3.  In a large Dutch oven, heat Oil and sear Beef on all sides until lightly browned.

4.  Pour the blended Sauce over the Beef and add the Beef or Chicken Broth, Bay Leaves and Juniper Berry.

5.  Cover and simmer for 6+ hours, turning every hour until the Beef can be easily pulled apart.

* I changed a few measurements and added a Juniper Berry and 1/2 of a Sweet Onion, since I repetitively saw both ingredients in other Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa recipes.  Pictured below is the first Taco enjoyed from the batch.  We also made Tostadas, Burritos and Taco Salads.

Chipotle's Barbacoa Ingredients

04/29/13 Update:  Barbacoa ingredients (minus the Beef) are pictured above.

Homeade Barbacoa Beef Taco

Brussels Sprouts Roasted In The Oven With White Balsamic & Olive Oil.

November 19th, 2009 No comments

Brussel Sprouts 020

Inspired by the coverage of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, I made Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  At the Outstanding in the Field style dinner held at the Greenleaf Warehouse in San Francisco, it seems like everyone loved the Brussels Sprouts.  They looked terrific on the various event recap posts, which made me want to make ’em. 

Brussel Sprouts 013

The recipe of the actual dish served at the festival is here, but I made something else.  These Brussels Sprouts have a nice roasted char, but different ingredients.  I tossed this bunch of hot water washed, halved Brussels Sprouts with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and Salt & Pepper — That’s it.  Just roast all in a 425° oven for about 25 minutes.  Stir occasionally and add more Olive Oil and Vinegar as necessary or to taste.  They turn out sweet and caramelized.

Brussel Sprouts 001Brussel Sprouts 009Brussel Sprouts 015

I can’t say these Brussels Sprouts are as good as those served at the Foodbuzz dinner, since I sadly wasn’t there, but they’re darn good and easy to make with what’s on hand.  I’ll surely make them again — Super easy and tasty is my favorite combination.

Chicken Tikka Masala Video and Murgh Recipe.

October 5th, 2009 1 comment

Misc - 100409 007

Misc - 100409 004After having the most fabulous Chicken Tikka Masala at Chakra Cuisine at the Taste of Newport, I was compelled to recreate its flavor and tender texture of the Chicken.  I searched the Internet and found an informative video about its preparation.  Although I didn’t copy its technique, I learned a bit.  Instead, I opted for a slow cooked version (Murgh Tikka Masala) with most of the same spices.  It turned out good and the Chicken was tender, but it didn’t quite hit the mark.  Not bad for a first attempt, but not the fabulous I was hoping for.  Could it be the lack of Fenugreek (Kasuri Methi)?

Cupcakes For A Weekend On The Beach.

August 14th, 2009 1 comment


We’re going camping on the beach, so I made the perfect Cupcakes.  Aren’t they cute?!  They’re easy to make too.  I used a Spice Cake Mix, then topped each Cupcake with an Orange Powdered Sugar Glaze.  The sand is ground Teddy Grahams and the towel is a piece of a Fruit Roll-Up.  Just lay a Teddy Graham on the towel, prop open a cocktail umbrella to block the sun and voila.


Since there was extra batter, I made a small Cake in the toaster oven.  It turned out good, but needed to be cooked a little longer than noted.  And as you can see in the photo, it became a sun bathing cliff for the Teddy Grahams.  My Chef Nieces are going to love it.  FYI:  I did not come up with this idea.  Similar Cupcakes won an Honorable Mention at the OC Fair this year.  Unfortunately I didn’t catch a name, nor a photo of the original Cupcakes.  If its creator stumbles across this post, please make yourself known — This copycat is a memory of yours. 🙂

Why Not Make A Homemade Slider Smorgasbord?

April 6th, 2009 2 comments


Instead of just one Burger, why not make homemade Sliders for fun and variety — Pictured (L-R) we made a Blue Cheese Burger with Tomatoes, Lettuce and Pickles, a Bacon Cheddar Burger, and a Jalapeno Jack Burger with Tomatoes and Arugula.


We added a little Worcestershire Sauce, Salt and freshly ground Pepper to the small Burger Patties, buttered and toasted the mini Buns/Rolls and laid out all the fixins. 


We fried these Burgers in a pan (after we brought home the Bacon) and topped with Cheese after turning — Then transferred all to Buns with their corresponding counterparts. 


“Shelly’s Sliders” turned out pretty good.  It was fun eating a variety of Burgers and deciphering what tastes best.  We’ve got some great ideas for our next Slider Smorgasbord and would have made them here, but didn’t have Chipotles, Pineapples, or Chili on hand.


If local and don’t feel like making your own Sliders, check out the restaurants and photos linked below.

3-Thirty-3 Sliders:

Charlie Palmer’s Sliders:

More INFO:

Bandera Restaurant, American Cooking In CDM.

March 30th, 2009 1 comment


Bandera is part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group — A collection of high quality restaurants that serve great food.  Walking from the nearby beach in Corona Del Mar (CDM), we stopped in Bandera on PCH.  This day we had the Sliced Leg of Lamb with Red Chili Sauce and Escabèche.  I love the Escabèche and want to go back for more.  The Lamb was good too, but I’m not sure about its presentation — It looked a little deflated. 🙂


Halibut was the Fresh Fish and we got it with the Braised Red Cabbage and Goat Cheese.  The Halibut couldn’t have been better and I recognize the Cabbage from Houston’s, another Hillstone Group Restaurant.  And I’ve previously posted a Copycat Recipe for the Braised Red Cabbage HERE on Nibbles of Tidbits.

Copycat Braised Red Cabbage Recipe:

Bandera American Cooking Restaurant INFO & Menu:

A Vegetable Escabèche Recipe:

Homemade Cream Of (Leftover Celery) Soup.

March 22nd, 2009 1 comment


Since I had a bunch of washed, fresh cut/peeled Celery leftover from a Vegetable Platter, I made this impromptu Cream of Celery Soup.  Homemade is way better than any canned version.  Sorry there’s no measurements here, but YOU CAN DO IT — Be generous with the Onion, Herb and Garlic for optimum taste.

Sauté chopped Onion and Celery with S & P in Olive Oil until almost caramelized, then add minced Garlic, fresh Thyme Leaves and cook a couple minutes longer.  Add enough Chicken Stock/Broth to cover all ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool and purée in a blender. 

Return the puréed mixture to a saucepan, reheat and add a little Cream, not much, none is really needed if that’s preferred.  And to nicely combine the flavors, add fresh Lemon Juice and S & P to taste at the end.  It’s a quick, easy, much better than canned copycat Cream of Celery Soup if in need, or due to an abundance of Celery.

This ‘Cheese Lover’s Five Cheese Mac & Cheese’ Won $25,000 In An Ultimate Recipe Showdown.

February 21st, 2009 1 comment


This Macaroni and Cheese helped Rick Massa win $25,000 in a Food Network Ultimate Recipe Showdown Comfort Food Competition.  And it’s now on T.G.I. Friday’s Menu.  After seeing the Judges rave about it, I had to make it too, especially since it includes Bacon.

misc-008 misc-0101 misc-002

misc-014 misc-015 misc-018

I followed the exact recipe.  It was very good, but I didn’t fall in love with it like I wanted to.  I toasted and smashed my own Breadcrumbs, which made the Cheese Crumb Topping extra tasty.  I’ll definitely use the same topping on future casseroles — It’s excellent when crispy.

Bonus INFO:  Collection of MORE Terrific Mac & Cheese Recipes

Improvised Orange And Chocolate Cookie Recipe.

February 7th, 2009 2 comments


The preparation of these Orange and Chocolate Cookies was inspired by a monthly food photography contest (DMBLGIT) submission, my love of all things Orange flavored, and the lack of ingredients to make the same Cookie. 

Since I had to make them immediately, I used Brown Sugar instead of White Sugar, and Grand Marnier in place of the Orange Extract.  Aside from those substitutions, I prepared the recipe that’s linked below.  This variation worked well too, but I may add a little less salt next time.  These Orange and Chocolate Cookies tasted good, though the photos don’t measure up to those posted by the ‘What’s Cooking?’ recipe developer.


Recipe Link to What’s Cooking’s Orange and Chocolate Cookies:

January’s (DMBLGIT) Food Photography Contest:

Parkers’ Lighthouse Garlic Cheese Bread (Copycat) Recipe.

February 2nd, 2009 1 comment


Have you tried the Garlic Cheese Bread at Parkers’ Lighthouse yet?  If you have and love it like I do, here’s a copycat recipe.  Parkers’ Lighthouse is a Waterfront Seafood Restaurant in Long Beach, across the Harbor from The Queen Mary.  Once upon a time I worked there as a waitress while in college (CSULB).  Everyone loved their famous Garlic Cheese Bread and it appears they still do.  With a little help from a former co-worker, I provide this simple recipe that (to me) tastes like Parkers’ Garlic Cheese Bread.  It’s a unique combination that contains no Butter, but it works.  Since I no longer live in Long Beach, this recipe occasionally comes in handy for a nostalgic fix.  What’s pictured here was cooked in the toaster oven, but the Garlic Cheese Bread is terrific broiled in the oven.

misc-004 misc-0081 misc-0091

Parkers’ Lighthouse Garlic Cheese Bread (Copycat) Recipe

-Bread (French or Sour Dough Roll, cut in half lengthwise)
-Parmesan Cheese (Fresh Grated, a generous ratio to Mayo)
-Garlic Powder (A generous amount to taste)

Mix all ingredients together and spread liberally on long split rolls.  Broil in the oven until light – golden brown.  Be sure to keep an eye on the Bread.  It doesn’t take long.  I’ve burned way too many pieces in my life, HA.

FYI:  The same Cheese combination and Spinach is used to make Parkers’ Oysters Rockefeller, one of my favorite appetizers there.  If you’re adventurous, give them a try too.  They’re also broiled until golden brown, then served on a bed of Rock Salt.  Enjoy!

Related Link: