My name is Jim, I'm a single father of two teenagers. Always looking for new recipes for the kids and guest.

  • Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

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We Try Four Exclusive Peep Flavors for Easter

I’m with badseed1980 100%, always stock up on peeps after Easter and roast them over camp fires all summer with the kids. We make s’mores with them (think they’re called s’meeps). Hitting up Walmart on my way home so I can try out the new ones. Thanks for the tip.

Advice for the beginning of a knife collection

Lost my knives in a divorce. Starting from scratch I talked to everyone I could including an executive chef family member. At 6’3” I also have large hands, here’s my two cents. Got the Wusthof classic block set, love most of the knifes (especially the bread knife, cuts a tomato perfectly) plus it came with a video on knife skills. Through the years I’ve added the Wusthof boning knife and a santoku. Recently added an 8” Global chef (my favorite next to the santoku). Try them for fit at the store, you’ll know what you like when you hold it. Also, wash and dry sooner rather than later (I never put them in the dish washer). I also use a knife friendly cutting board (seem to be collecting the Epicurean brand boards, knife friendly and dishwasher safe). If I had to take a knife with me on the road, definitely be the Global (great knife and if it gets confiscated, by TSA, it won’t cost that much to replace). Like I said, my two cents, not a chef just a full time dad with big hands.

Know Your Sweets: Cinnamon Rolls

Love me some cinnamon rolls. As kids, on special occasions, Mom would make Pillsbury cinnamon rolls from the tubes. Recently I got some tubes and found out they are not rolls anymore, they’re biscuits with cinnamon on top. Luckily my kids didn’t know the difference. Can Pillsbury call them rolls if they’re not rolled, what happened to truth in advertising? They should be called cinnamon biscuits or cinnamon clumps (even the picture was misleading). Definitely try to make them at home, thanks for the article and the recipe.

Campfire Cooking

Get a Dutch oven (with a lip on the lid). Although I have many, the Lodge 4 quart is my favorite. It comes with a cook book full of recipes. You’ll need the tools for removing the hot lid and moving charcoal around. Everyone loves the pizza, biscuits, peach cobbler and mac n cheese. It’s also fun to compare Dutch oven stories with other campers. Also, we make s’mores with Peeps instead of marshmallows (call them s’meeps).

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Thermapen Thermometer

When I win the Therapen (sorry everyone), first thing is a tri-tip (no question). Had my eye on these thermometers for years, just could never swing the $100.

Do you have AND use a deep-fryer?

Got a turkey fryer back during the craze. Tried a turkey once or twice, quite a pain getting the oil, cleaning the oil, hoping it didn’t catch fire. Put it away for a few years until my son requested a fry fest for his birthday one year. Wow, it was a blast, the whole family brings things to deep fry and every year it gets wilder. Now we have a family fry fest every summer. Favorites include, onion rings, chicken tenders, pizza (day old pepperoni, it rocks), tri-tip, Twinkies….. We deep fry anything you can wrap in a beer batter (freeze the Twinkies over night first). Watch the temperature! Get lots of gadgets and tools and have a blast. Takes about a week to recover. Next year we’re trying ice cream (I understand it involves dry ice).

Making clarified butter, can I re-make it and will it stay?

My easy way of making clarified butter: 1 lb of unsalted butter into a small sauce pan. Low heat until melted, gently stir to separate the milk fats and impunities. Let cool for a minute or two then pour into a six inch square Tupper ware. Let it sit on the counter for ten to fifteen minutes until separated into three distinct layers. Then cover and put in the freezer. Next day, drop it out of the Tupper ware and hold it under hot running water. The two outer layers will melt and wash away. The center layer remains frozen, this is the pure buttery goodness of clarified butter. Cut into cubes and place back in the freezer. Love this stuff, no burning, adds crazy butter flavor to things I sauté. It’s my secret weapon (don’t tell anyone) when I have dates over for dinner. Guess you could add spices during the melting but you may lose some in the outer layers, I just add spices during cooking.

What's your favourite "road food"?

Redbull, slim Jims and the radio up loud. Of course, I require one day of detox for every 12 hours on the road.

Friday steak night - Tri Tip

After years of trying, I finally got the tri-tip down (may not be traditional but works for me). I trim off all the large chunks of fat, rub with olive oil, cover with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt (more than you think is enough). On a supper hot grill (pan in your case) I sear each side for about 3 minutes. Then I remove from the grill, turn the heat to as low as it goes (let the grill cool before putting it back on) then cook low, flipping every 3 minutes until it reaches 130-140 degrees (you’re on your own for oven equivalents) . Remove and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. The true secret to tri-tip happens next. Cut against the grain! (we like ¼ inch slices). You can cook it perfectly, but if it’s cut wrong, it will be un-edible. Likewise, you can save a poorly cooked tri-tip by cutting it correctly. We usually make sandwiches with grilled sourdough rolls. Very flavorful. Good luck.

Santa Monica, CA?

Can’t come to California without trying some Mexican food. When I visit Santa Monica, always stop at El Cholo on Wilshire and 11th for some cheese enchiladas and margaritas. Also second the suggestion of In-n-out for a double double (you have to ask for pickles if you like’m on your burger) and Tommys hamburgers for the chili cheese burgers and hot dogs ( to me the hot dog is just a chili delivery device) watch out for imitation’s, only the original has the shack in their logo.

Pasadena, CA: The El Cholo Café Burger is Something To Be Missed

El Cholo’s is my all time favorite restaurant, the closes one is an hour drive from my house (through Los Angeles traffic). As my daughter always say “Don’t order French fries at a Mexican restaurant” that also goes for hamburgers. Hands down the best Mexican food in California and someone orders a hamburger? I’m speechless.

Turkish Coffee technique

Thank you for the comments TheWeirdGirl and scalfin. Seems that Turkish coffee is an art. I did some homework, went to my local Mediterranean restaurant and talked to the chef. He was very generous, showed me how he makes it and where he gets his supplies. His biggest tip was to go to a Mediterranean market and by the pre-ground coffee there, he showed me the amounts of coffee, sugar and cardamom to use. His was just like I remembered from Egypt. Found a market (about 25 miles away) and got supplies. Be trying it again tonight. Mister-X

Cook the Book: 'Mac and Cheese'

Asking me my favorite mac and cheese is like asking me my favorite doughnut. I love them all, especially when I’m in the South. However, my best memory, of mac & cheese comes from a camping trip in the California desert. The scent of melting cheese, in the middle of nowhere, made me go looking for the source. I met an older man that was cooking it in a dutch oven. He explained that he started with Kraft mac & cheese mix, added half pound of cheddar cheese to the powdered cheese mix, poured it into his dutch oven and covered it with a layer of cheddar cheese. After about 45 minutes it had a crusty brown top layer and was gooey inside. I’ve been cooking it that way for probably 15 years now, everyone loves. Yes I admit it, I love me some original Kraft mac & cheese from the blue box.

Poll: Where Do You Fall on the Canned Mushroom Spectrum?

On pizza, canned mushrooms are best (along with canned olives and canned jalapenos). Fresh leaves an odd after taste. Also like canned mushrooms in spaghetti sauce. Fresh mushrooms everywhere else, salads, sautéed on steaks, omelets, etc. My snobby, everything must be fresh, friends and I have had this discussion many times.


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