Friday, July 27, 2012

WebLove: Vittles and Bits’ Cheesy Bacon Oven Chips

I was on Pinterest last week when I came across a photo of a side dish from Vittles and Bits that I knew I had to make immediately. (Click here for the recipe.)

Photo courtesy of

Doesn't that look amazing?
Now, granted, it was part of some list of French fry alternatives that frankly I found offensive. Avocado fries are not fries. Zucchini chips are not chips. Let’s call a spade a spade here, folks. But these looked so good I could put aside the fact that they made such a list and give them a try.

We liked them. A lot. So much I thought I’d share with you guys. I will say that, next time, I will slice them a little thinner since mine weren’t quite as chip-like as I would have hoped. But they were still really good. Also, I skipped making the sauce because we’re not big on chipotle — the Mr. preferred regular ranch and I’m a ketchup girl.

They’re the perfect complement for a steak or burger, and I highly recommend them. Hope you enjoy them too!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

7 cooking tips for July

The last 2 months have been crazy for the Mr. and me, something that’s glaringly obvious if you look at the lack of posts on the blog. Between our jobs, travel to weddings, showers, meetings and family functions, puppy kindergarten for Vegas, and just general summer busyness, the blog has definitely taken a hit. (Though those of you who follow Make Mine Beef on Facebook know beef consumption and love is just as high as ever around here!) But, I hope to turn that around this month and can’t wait to share lots of goodies with you soon.

When I hosted Make Mine Beef’s live Facebook chat a few months ago, you guys were full of awesome ideas for future content. And, just because some of those ideas haven’t shown up on the blog yet doesn’t mean they aren’t coming! I hope to bring them all to fruition during the next few months. And today, I’m using one of those ideas and sharing some good old-fashioned cooking tips. Nothing to revolutionary here — just a few things I’ve picked up that might possibly help someone else, too.

So, without further ado, Make Mine Beef’s 7 random cooking tips in honor of the seventh month:

Dry meat browns better.  I’m only somewhat embarrassed to admit I learned this from Julia Child. Except not so much from her, as from the movie Julie and Julia. Ever since, I’ve patted my steaks dry with a paper towel before seasoning them. Who says you can’t learn anything from the movies?

Water + vinegar + baking soda works wonders on the stickiest, nastiest pots and pans. I learned this one via Pinterest, and it’s one of those things from Pinterest that actually works. You know, unlike the “just like Texas Roadhouse cinnamon butter” recipe that completely ruined my day that time. If you have a pot or pan that has some burnt-on-food stuck to the bottom or sides, there’s no need to scrub and scrub and scrub. Just fill it about halfway up with water, add a few splashes of white vinegar and return to the stove on medium-high heat until it boils. Remove from heat, sprinkle in some baking soda and it will scrub away much easier. Love this for those times I wasn’t paying enough attention to a sauce and end up with a mess.

Use the grill’s heat to keep it clean between uses. This is a tip from my mom, a master griller. After taking your steaks or burgers off the grill, turn the heat up a little and leave it on for about 15 minutes. It will “burn off” a lot of the yuck and make your grill much easier to clean. Tip within a tip: set a kitchen timer to remind you to turn the grill off, or else you’ll think about it 3 hours later — or the next day — when you’ve run out of propane.

Moist cakes, brownies and other baked goods every time? It’s as easy as water. I learned this one from my grandmother. Anytime you bake something sweet, especially something that has a tendency to dry out a little, just cook it with a pan of water underneath. I always put a cake pan full of water on the lower rack and let it heat up as the oven preheats. The steam from the lower rack will keep whatever is cooking on the top rack moist and delicious. This tip is the best thing to ever happen to my brownies!

Disposable pans are a (insert my maiden name here) family tradition. This one really needs no explanation. Disposable pans are fantastic and probably the biggest time-saver ever. You know, until my dreams of a disposable stovetop and self-cleaning kitchen are fulfilled.

Crisco is much better than oil for seasoning cast-iron skillets. Again, thank you Pinterest. How did I never know this before? Old school Crisco works about a million times better than regular oil when seasoning cast-iron skillets. Just smooth some on a hot, clean skillet using a paper towel and you’re all set. It soaks right in and creates an awesome surface for the next meal.

Dawn is the perfect degreaser — for clothes. If you’re like me, you get an oil splatter on your clothes almost every time you fry. While an apron works wonders, I’m pretty good at finding the one uncovered spot and getting grease there. But, recently I learned a super easy tip that works fantastically. Just pre-treat any grease spots with a little Dawn (I always pre-treat while I am still wearing the clothes so I don’t forget) and voila… It almost always washes out.

What are some of your favorite kitchen tips?