Saturday, December 25, 2010


Guess who got a New Lense for his Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Lens (Black)??


Amy's home made Biscuits


Amy's home made Turtles. 

Biscotti!  Was great with the coffee yesterday morning.

Five Minute Fudge!  Or whats left of it from last night.

Amy's Pumpkin Mini Cheese Cakes.  I might add the pumkin was from our garden.

Amy's OREO truffles.  Theses bad boys will one shot a Diabetic.

Prime Rib Roast preped and ready for 20 mins @ 500 degrees searing

OMG!  I can see the bottom of the tree!

Amy second favorite Chcolates

Turkey Sausage Gravy that went with Amys Scratch Biscuits

Friday, December 24, 2010

Prime Rib Panini

 I’m sitting here at my favorite caffeine place “Old Town Coffee” trying hard to think of what to cook next week. Of course today is Christmas Eve and I spend a good portion of my morning in the kitchen prepping the Prime Rib, making Five Minute Fudge, Biscotti and fixing pot after pot of coffee to keep our house guests (The Grandparents/In-Laws) warm and full of the morning gasoline. The kids are bouncing from wall to wall all the while, playing game after game from the computer to the Wii to the X-box and on to board game after board game. I don’t mind so much because this should be a day of fun and quality time with the Grandparents. While in the Kitchen I pulled the camera out to take a few photos of the morning kitchen creations, but my one and only lenses is not meant for kitchen photography, or better stated, I wasn’t meant for kitchen photography. I was thinking I could take some pictures and just post them with a few captions but atlas, I fail, so I moved on to my cozy little stool and bar counter top with the HUGE windows at Old Town Coffee.

So, what do you think for New Years food items? Chicken Wings and Home made Pizza? Nah! Let’s try something else for a change. Typically every year no matter were we are or who’s home we go too, someone orders massive quantities of Pizza Hut or Domino’s. I’m not a big fan of either but when living in Wyoming, your choices are very limited. I can tell you if I was in Chicago with my Sister and Brother-in-law, it would be Giordano’s ALL THE WAY!! Since I’m not in Chicago (my second favorite city next to San Francisco) I’m going to have to be creative and innovative, because Christmas has left my bank account ravaged.

LEFTOVERS! Everyone has them to some degree. Turkey, Prime Rib, Smoked Hams, Salmon, and possibly shell fish of some kind. I know we do. Last year I made a large pot of Beans with the left over Smoked Ham we had for Christmas. It was kind of a, “that looks kind of good!” So I threw it into the mix. The Wife made some cornbread from scratch and we had that along with the bowls of beans. It was pretty darn tasty.

So this year, with a little luck we will have a little bit of prime Rib left. All I can think is Prime Rib Panini’s with spinach, Swiss cheese, Pesto and whatever else I have left over. My mouth is drooling just typing this. Depending on how many people will attend your New Years Eve Bash or, if your like me and don’t like to stay up till midnight anymore, New Years Day Football extravaganza.

Another item that’s an Applegate table staple, of course, is my Wife’s twice backed potatoes. Often she has some left over and has extra potato skins that she like to turn into Crispy Potato skins with Bacon and Cheddar. They are quite good to go with a Panini. So many ideas so little time or in some cases, leftovers.

I have no idea if our family is typical but, come New Years we are tapped out of both energy and funds, so I imagine we are not alone so here is a recipe that may suite your leftovers and bank accounts.

Prime Rib Panini

4 pieces Sour Dough Rolls
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Pesto
1 Tomato, coarsely chopped
20 baby Spinach leaves
12 ounces Swiss cheese, Shredded or
A few thinly slices of Prime Rib

The How Too:

Here is a technique I use for the Rolls. Cut each one in half. You’re going to use the typical inside of the roll as your outsides. Essentially you’re reversing the roll. Reason for this is to get a good toasting on the outside of the Panini and still having the sour doughy chewiness of the crust on the inside of the Sandwich.

On bottom of all bread pieces brush on olive oil.

Spread the pesto (more than 4 Tbs if you like) on of each roll. So the bottoms will have olive oil & the tops will have pesto.
On the pesto side of the bread place spinach leaves. Then on top of spinach place 1/2 of the Swiss cheese.
Layer on the Prime Rib Slices, tomatoes and the other ½ of Swiss cheese.

Grill on Panini grill or George Foreman grill. I have a George Foreman Grill and it works just fine and it’s a lot cheaper than a Panini grill.

If you don't have these, heat grill pan to medium heat. Wash two bricks and cover with foil. Place sandwiches side by side on grill pan. Place foil covered bricks on top. Cook on medium for 4-6 minutes. Turn over and replace bricks. Cook an additional 4-6 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is toasted brown.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.'

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'

'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?'

The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.'

'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.' Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:26-38

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Luke 2:11-14

My most gracious and humble wishes too you all this Christmas eve.  My your dishes fill your belly's with warmth and your hart with cheer.  I lift my glass to you all and wish you the best in the coming year.   §~John~§


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Slow Roasted Prime Rib

Dead animal flesh! That is what pops into my mind as I think about cooking Prime Rib for our Christmas dinner here in our little 100 plus year old house at the base of our Wind River Mountain range in this wonderful state called Wyoming. One of the many cultural aspects of living in Wyoming is the consumption of meat. All types of meat. Almost as many kinds of meats as you will find in a Cabalas holiday gift catalog.

Now, I want to be sensitive to some degree to my few friends out there that are vegetarian because I don’t want to send you into a dry heaving fit. So you may want to cover your eyes, because this is hard core Meat-ography.

Prime Rib has been a regional favorite since I moved here in the early 80’s. It wasn’t uncommon to see flocks of family’s heading out on a Friday nights to eat at some of the local hot spots. My first Job was dishwashing at one of those places. The restaurant was called “The Commons” and it had a reputation for great, no frills, family food. Friday night was always the traditional “Prime Rib” special. I don’t recall that they ever had any leftovers, but I do recall it was very busy. I’m sad to report the restaurant is no longer called “The Commons” and the décor has changed over the years and personally for me, it has lost that charm I came to know.

Another local favorite was, and still is, a place called “Svilars” located in a tiny little town called Hudson. This little restaurant has had, and still has, a reputation for some local hard core Prime Rib. I don’t eat there often, but this year I ate there twice and it was good each time. It’s hard to explain this place without going into a load of local history. I’ll leave that up to our local historian Tom Bell, who knows more about this area than anyone I know. Overall these two places had/have a place in my hart for the people who owned and operated them and who always served delectable Prime Rib that sent you home overstuffed and wishing for stretchy pants or sweats.

Many locals now make there Prime Rib at home for family and friends during this time of year. My Sister is one of those locals who serve’s up a mean Prime Rib. Over the years I’ve learn about 100 ways to cook that bad boy. One of the best I’ve done was using a machine called the “Alto sham”. But, I don’t have a spare eight grand to buy one and install it into my kitchen. So I resort to the next best method (in my humble opinion) is slow roasting at a low temperature. It can take as long to cook this roast as the thanksgiving turkey and depending on the size maybe longer. Be that as it may, its time well spent in the oven as you will tell when serving a slab of wonderfully, juicy, tender, medium rare mouthful of joy.

Slow Roasted Prime Rib

3 to 13 lb. Prime Rib Roast (bone in will take longer to cook but imparts more flavor to the meat)
Lowry's seasoning salt
A-1 Steak Sauce
1 large Jar of crushed/minced Roasted Garlic
1 bundle Cilantro

Start prepping the day before you are planning on serving the roast. I have done it the day of before but it just doesn't taste the same and it just adds more to an already chaotic day.

Sprinkle your roast generously with the Lowry's seasoning salt. Seriously coat it in Lowry's seasoning salt and rub it in with your hands. Make sure it is completely coated with the Lowry's seasoning salt. Don’t stress about it being too salty just close your eyes and do it.

Add together the A-1 sauce, Garlic and Cilantro in a food processor and puree till totally blinded.

Now pour the A-1 mixture all over the roast. Did I mention how well seasoned your hands will be after this? Make sure you rub the A-1 mixture in on all sides of the roast.
Once you've done this, wrap it in saran wrap or foil or whatever you want (just make sure that whatever is in the fridge doesn't seep through whatever is separating it from your meat.) So, let the meat sit and marinate overnight making sure you pull it out around 6 hours before you plan on serving it.

Browning the roast: You can do this one of two ways:

Firstly, cooking in an oven at 500 F for about 10 minutes in a roasting pan. Or by searing it in a sauté pan until brown. I found the latter to be useful only for smaller roasts. Searing a 13 lb. roast in a sauté pan ………Well I’m sure I don’t need to explain this.

Roast prime rib for 30-45 minutes per lb. boneless and 45-60 minutes per lb. bone in. Roast should be rare to medium rare and the inner temperature will get up to 145 degrees or so when done. I've seen where people have said that 140 is rare 145 is medium rare and any higher than that and the roast is overdone and ruined. Since this is a slow roasting recipe I’ve found that even getting up higher than 150 the meat will still be nice and pink but let’s play it safe and stick with the lower temps.

Now, I have to warn you about the cooking time. I have looked all over the internet for how long to cook prime rib at low temperatures and got results giving cooking times anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour per lb. at 200 F. After a little experimentation I found that a boneless prime rib (which is what we used to use at the restaurant) will be about 30 minutes per lb. I imagine bone in will take up to an hour per lb. at the same temperature but once again, I can't say for sure because all ovens were never created equally. (Chef Snobbery)

Another note about the cooking time: if your roast gets done way too soon, like even up to several hours too soon (this has happened to me) you can lower your oven to the warm setting when your prime rib gets up to 145 and if it starts to get cool again bump it back up to 200. I went back and forth like that for about 4 hours and still wound up with a nice, moist, pink prime rib roast. But, end game here is, shoot for the finishing time.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


There are few things that snap me back to childhood instantly like Latkes can. My Father is to blame for this. You see, when I was very young these little potato pancakes would bring me running to the kitchen quicker than the reflexes of GI Joe with the Kung Foo Grip. I don’t recall my Father ever telling me if these were handed down through my family, but I suspect that they have some roots. My Father grew up in Southern Cal. in a little town Called Coalinga. My Grandfather and Grandmother were humble people from a Jewish decent. Though they were not practicing Jews, there were many influences that made themselves evident in the cooking that my Father did time to time. I often regret not having spent more time with him learning more about that side of the family, but with most things in life, regret is fleeting and best not to ponder on it much.

Just recently I recreated this potato pancake for my two children. Of course, I didn’t tell them they were eating Latke’s because I wanted them to be a bit more exciting, in hopes they would at least try them. So, I named them “Ooy Gooey Pancake Chewy” and the kids were Jazzed to try them just because the name was fun. I suppose later in life I will explain that they are truly called latkas and give them a little history lesson about them.

Before my wife and I had children we observed Hanukkah every year in a nontraditional way. We did it to observe both my family heritage but also to remind us of our faith and why we believe in what we do. We haven’t had much success observing it over the past several years but soon we will pick up where we left off and teach our children that the “Ooy Gooey Pancake Chewy” actually has a different name and a meaning when we have them around Christmas each year.

I can't imagine observing Hanukkah without fried potato pancakes (latkas is Yiddish and livivot is the Hebrew term for these pancakes). We eat latkas on Hanukkah to remind us of the oil which miraculously burned for eight days when the Maccabees purified and rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem. But latkas are so tasty that they can be eaten the other 357 days of the year too.


2 pounds potatoes, peeled and finely grated
8 ounces onion, grated
6 ounces matzo meal
4 eggs
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
salt and freshly ground pepper
oil for frying

To make the latkas, wash the grated potatoes in several changes of cold water to remove excess starch and dirt. Pat dry with a towel and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Season well.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, drop tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil. Flatten each dollop into a round small flat pancake. Fry on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until the pancake is a pale golden brown and perfectly crisp.

Drain on absorbent paper and serve very hot.


This is a very simple recipe that won’t involve TONS of heartache shopping and 3rd degree burns up and down your arms. I don’t get overly fancy when I serve these simply because of there humble roots. I suppose you could served them on a plate stacked 4 high and put a little dob of sour cream, or cream freshe’ with a few sprigs of green onion as your finisher. Totally up to you!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Biscotti Per Favore

There has never been a moment in my life were I sat complacent about preparing food or working on a recipe. I guess satisfaction is just a moment in time or to peek in a moment were I just can’t think of anything to improve the food. Not that there isn’t more ways to improve something with different techniques or skills. I watch people cook and prepare food and it never ceases to amaze me of the different infusions and flavors that appear that normally would not. It’s a fabulous experience. It is one I yearn for often. I think it’s would be compared to someone who is addicted to cigarettes. Not that I have even had that habit but I’ve seen how the smokers crave and yearn for that nicotine fix.

The holiday season is packed with moments of creations, infusions of old recipes with new twists. In fact, my wife Amy, this very moment is making her yearly Biscotti in the kitchen. Every year she adds something new to try along with making the traditional ones. Last year she did various versions with almonds. Toasted almonds, blanched almonds, raw almonds, salted almonds and the list goes on and on. Always progressing and experiencing with different flavors.

I try to be creative and new, but at the same time, I want the traditional flavors as well. It’s hard sometimes to want both, so I end up making two different batches of the same item with different flavors. It can be nauseating at the end. You know what they say about to much of something good. (Enter dry heaving)

This time of year is hard not to indulge. With all the different candies, breads, appetizer type creations showing up all around at work and at social functions. It’s hard not to want to experience them hoping to taste something new. I recall a few years ago I attended a little get together with friends at their new home. And they had a huge spread on top of what everyone else brought as a potluck. The different type of foods was outstanding to say the least. I ate southern foods, Caribbean food, South American influenced foods, and something quite new to me, Germanistic food. I won’t go into the German food, but I will say it’s not high on my list of food to influence my cooking in the near future or possibly ever. Just don’t like the stuff traditional or new.

This coming week I want to make something for my coworkers, but I’ve been stumped. Should I make Finger food, a hot or cold Entrée, A bucket load of Pastry? Oh what shall I make? Then it accorded to me, why not Biscotti? My wife is already making some and I haven’t made them myself for some years. Mainly because my wife discovered Biscotti five years ago and has kind of been her thing every year since. The great thing about Biscotti is you can be so incredibly diversitile with the recipe it should be illegal. They go with just about every beverage known to man. Well, maybe not the warmed blood drink that the African Masai drink, that would be kind of creepy. (Enter dry heaving again)


¾ cup of whole Almonds. (You will Toast and chop your Almonds prior to making dough)
¼ lb of Butter.
¾ cup of Sugar.
2 medium Eggs.
2 ¼ cups of Flour.
1 ½ Tsp of Baking Powder.
¼ Tsp of Kosher Salt.


Preheat oven to 350°F

Toast the almonds until golden, then chop by hand into quarter-inch chunks.

Reduce oven heat to 325°F

The Dough:
Cream the butter until light, then add the sugar and beat until it is smooth and creamy.
Beat in the 2 eggs until the mixture is smooth.
Sift in the flour, baking powder then add salt; beat until just mixed.
Stir in the toasted almonds.

Prep That Dough:
On a floured board, divide the dough in half and roll each half into a long roll about 1-½ inches in diameter and about 10 inches long. Squish the rolls down a bit so they look more flat that rounded

Bake That Dough:
Set the rolls on a baking sheet a minimum of 3 inches apart, then bake in the top third of the oven for 25 minutes or until set and lightly browned on top.

Cut That Dough:
Allow the rolls to cool for 5 minutes, and then slice diagonally into half-inch thick slices.
Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet, and then return them to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Turn the slices over and bake for 10 minutes longer. This will make your Biscotti Rock hard as they are traditionally intended.

Cool That Dough:
Allow to cool on a rack.

In closeing, I hope you have fun in your kitchen after you make these because at this point you can just drizzle chocolate over the tops. You can dip them in half white and half dark chocolate. Maybe mist a little Rum. Whatever it is you decide to do, it’s tons of fun to just playing and experimenting.



Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Friend

Today, I spent time with a friend. Listening and hearing what weighed hard on their hart. Though I had no words of comfort for them, my own hart ached to help ease their pain. You see, my friend is watching their only child slowly suffer from cancer. And soon will be facing a life without them. I ache so badly to want to ease that pain. But, as I am well familiar with that type of hurt, there is not ease. There is only hurt and loss.

Yesterday, I visited with two long time friends. Listening and hearing the medical issues they both have had to face. A close call one of them had just recently. Again, my hart grew heavy wanting to ease their ache. Wishing that there was something I could offer to lighten the burden.

Last week, I sat with a friend who I have known since I was a teenager. I sat with my friend while they received their treatment to hydrate there body after their weekly treatment of chemotherapy, that leaves them weak and dehydrated. I look into their eyes and see the tiredness of fighting. And yet, once again, I feel helpless and feeble to do anything other than talk with them and make them laugh.
Last month, a friend I have known, only a tad bit less than I have known my own sister, lost his 5 year fight to AIDS.

You might wonder why I would write about these things on here. Why, with the upcoming holiday festivities I would write with a dark overtone? Because with all the glitz and glamour of the Christmas season, I don’t want to forget this time of the year might not be so Glamorous for friends. That for some, this time might represent pain, suffering, and events they would rather wipe from their memories. Many of you can relate with these things from one side or the other. Maybe even both.

I will offer a few thoughts. One of the thoughts was something my Father often said to me when I was little after we lost my Brother to a train accident. He said, “Even when life is full of death, pain and sorrows, the evilness that was never meant for man to live with, remember this one thing. Don’t let the bastard (he was referred to Satan) Win. Don’t let him fill your hart with nothing but grief, pain, sorrows, and hate.” Funny thing was, my Jewish father was never a religious or a man of faith until his last few days on earth after a long fight with Cancer. But never the less, profound words that have always stayed with me.
One last thought. If like me, you have a few dear friends who you feel a heavy hart for. Offer them an ear or a shoulder during the holidays when they are in need. Maybe a laugh or two as that special personal holiday present. Offer to cook something special, of their choice, when they want. Whatever it is you offer, just be sure to offer, because during this time, the offer sometimes is the one thing that touches the hart.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

“Five Minute Fudge”

The holidays are truly a tuff time to find a little extra spare time to sit and write. Between regular meetings, our children’s special Christmas programs, annual holiday parties, and Church events time is limited. Sometimes we get so busy we lose sight of having fun and enjoying the moment. Life becomes a “going for point A to point B”. This week seems to be one of those weeks were every day is a rush from one thing to the other.

Recently, during the thanksgiving weekend, I read through some emails asking for ideas for something to make that’s quick, easy, and delicious. Many people were complaining that with all of their busyness they find it difficult to prepare items for potlucks, dinners, and various other get together. With the onslaught of events that I have attended and will be attending in the coming few weeks I revert to one of my favorite recipe for the quick holiday treat. Rachel Rays “Five Minute Fudge”

Let me protect my man-ness for a few lines. I’ve not always been overly jazzed about Rachel Ray. To some degree, I avoided her shows on the Food Network. I just never could stomach the term “EVOO” or other phrases she coined. I did, however watch a biography of her once and I was impressed with her upbringing in the kitchen. Something I could relate with. Right after the biography she had a special holiday show where she helped a friend prepare a Christmas party for co-workers. It was fairly down to earth and limited “EVOO” phrases made it bearable. This show is where I discovered the recipe for the “Five Minute fudge”. I thought to myself, “Wow, that looks fairly quick and pretty easy and to make.”

So, I set out on the web and found her recipe on the Food Network site. The ingredients are simple and depending on you, the price can vary on the total cost. You can chose to buy high end chocolate or you can just buy whatever is on sale for the holidays. Chocolate is almost always on sale during the holidays. You can use your favorite nuts that are also always on sale during the holidays as well.

When I did this recipe the 1st time I did it just like Miss “EVOO” suggested and did it like a wreath. But after it was done it looked to me rather plain. A few weeks later I made another and I decided to use a bunt pan for a mold. Only issue I had was it didn’t seem to have a lot of height for presentation so I just doubled the recipe and POOF! I was satisfied. I finished it off sometimes with powdered sugar, fake mistletoe, and when I was really pressed for time I just sliced it up and fanned it a little and called it good. Either way you do it, people will enjoy this fudge. Hope you enjoy too.

Five-Minute Fudge

1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate morsels

9 ounces (3/4 of a 12-ounce bag) butterscotch morsels
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can walnut halves
1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) currants
8-inch cake pan, lightly greased with softened butter
Candied cherries, red and green, for garnish, optional


Place a heavy pot on the stove and preheat it over low heat. Add chips and milk and stir until chips are melted and milk combined. Save the empty condensed milk can. Stir in vanilla and remove fudge from heat. Add nuts and currants and stir in immediately.

Cover empty condensed milk can with plastic food wrap and center it in the greased cake pan. Spoon fudge into pan around can, making sure to recenter can if it drifts.

The fudge will set up almost immediately. Garnish can only be added in the first minute or 2 the fudge is in the pan, so work quickly. Decorate your wreath with "holly" made from cut candied red and green cherries. A wreath left plain can be garnished with a pretty fabric bow when serving. Chill covered in the refrigerator and slice fudge very thin when ready to serve, a little goes a long way.

Happy Beginning of the Christmas season!