About Howard

Howard is a former chef of 20 years, turned butcher. He has a passion for food, his family, and the Lord. He loves to see how people enjoy his cooking and gives all the props to God. He loves his family and his life is a constant work in progress.

Today is National Homemade Cookie Day!!!

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I have so many fond memories of baking cookies at home with my mother as a child.  We made so many different kinds, from chocolate chip, to peanut butter topped with a Hershey’s Kiss and my favorite apricot preserves sandwiched between two thin almond cookies dipped in chocolate!  YUMMY!!!!!  I think that today I might just have to bake up a batch of cookies with my little one and celebrate this awesome day.  My biggest fear is actually having enough batter to make some actual cookies, I am a sucker for raw chocolate chip cookie dough.  Especially, with the greatest tried and true recipe from Nestle Toll House!!!

 

Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies

5 out of 5 455 ratings

Prep:
15 mins
Cooking:
9 mins
Level:
Easy
Cooling:
15 mins
Yields:
60

This famous classic American cookie is a treat no matter what the age or occasion. Enjoy it with a glass of cold milk.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars. 

SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION: 
PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. 

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks. 

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

What are your favorite cookies to bake or fondest memories of homemade cookies?

Ad: Homegating For The Busy Family {Buffalo Chicken Calzone}

For the busy family, homegating for Thursday night football can be quick and easy, so I am going to show you, as part of a sponsored post for Collective Bias, how to create a delicious Buffalo Chicken Calzone for the perfect homegating party.

Here it is Thursday night, and I am ready to watch some football with my family!  However, like most families these days how do you find the time to make something fun, creative and delicious in such a crazy little amount of time?  

So, five o’clock on Thursday my wife picks me up from work (we only have one car) and it is off to get the boy from his afterschool program.  He comes skipping to the car all excited to tell us about his day in kindergarten.  However, at this point all I can think about is what am I going to make for us to eat during Thursday Night Football that is only two hours away!  Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks!  I had recently been to Sam’s Club and bought a 2.5 lb. bag of Tyson Buffalo Tenders.  But what to do with them so they are not just the usual awesomely delicious Chicken Tenders? I want to put a little more fun and adventure into the night!  BOOM!  Buffalo Chicken Calzones!

#ad Buffalo Chicken Calzone #MealsTogether #cbias

Off to the store we go, where I quickly pick up the ingredients I need to make some awesome homegating finger food.  Rushing home, the anticipation of making these is growing as I just love to create in the kitchen while using my family as guinea pigs.

#ad Tyson Buffalo Tenders #MealsTogether #cbias

I get home, pull out the Tyson Buffalo Tenders and just put about eight of them in the microwave for two minutes to thaw them out a little.  The great thing about them is that they are fully cooked making this a much easier and quicker process.  

#ad prep for Buffalo Chicken Calzones #MealsTogether #cbias

While those are going, I cut up my celery, tomatoes, peppers and brie cheese.  I crumble up the bleu cheese (I love bleu cheese especially the extra creaminess that seems to come particularly from danish bleu cheese).  I poured all of this in a bowl and cut up the tenders into bite sized pieces and mixed it in with all the ingredients to finish off the filling.  

#ad filling for Buffalo Chicken Calzones #MealsTogether #cbias

Grabbing a can of premade pizza dough, I cut it into squares, add the filling and fold them over to make the calzones.  Then, I quickly put them into my preheated oven and wait impatiently the twenty five minutes for them to cook.

Finally, they are done and I slide them off the pan and cut them in half to make them easier to eat and put some remaining celery sticks on the plate as a finishing touch with only moments to spare before kickoff.  I am trying to watch the game, but am becoming distracted by my wife and son gobbling down the calzones!  Love it!  What more could a husband and father ask for than, family, food and football on Thursday night?

Be sure and join me at Sam’s Club for a Finger Football Demonstration including the Tyson Buffalo Tenders on October 5, 2013 at 11:00 a.m.  Or you can visit any Sam’s Club across the country that day!  Also check out the cool Finger Football App available for Apple and Android to enhance the awesome experience at the demo! Download the Finger Football App here!

Buffalo Chicken Calzone

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red pepper
  • 5oz brie
  • 5oz bleu cheese
  • 8 Tyson Buffalo Chicken Tenders
  • premade pizza dough

Directions

Step 1
Thaw chicken tenders in microwave for two minutes.
Step 2
Chop celery, tomatoes, peppers, and brie into small pieces.
Step 3
Crumble bleu cheese.
Step 4
Chop chicken tenders into small pieces and add to the other ingredients.
Step 5
Roll out pizza dough, stuff with mixture, and close in the shape of a calzone.
Step 6
Cook on 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Step 7
Enjoy!

How does your family celebrate football season, with tailgating or homegating?

How Does a School Justify Denying Children Nutrition?

Yesterday I heard one of the most alarming thing about school lunches!  

Several schools across the country are dropping the National School Lunch Program!  How on earth does this happen?

For those not familiar with the program, it reimburses schools that serve healthy lunches to our children.  It also allows children who qualify to get their lunch for free or at a discounted price.  And schools are cutting this because they claim they are losing money since kids don’t want to eat healthy.  

What a load of garbage that is.  

As a parent and a chef of twenty years I have always felt it is my job to educate people, especially my son, on what is good and healthy to eat.  Exposing children to different foods is paramount to their growth both physically and mentally.

A well balanced meal is the cornerstone to maintaining your children’s energy and mental faculties throughout the day!

Now, the guidelines are actually quite simple for this program.  

Each meal must contain fruit, vegetables and whole grains, while adhering to specific calorie count for each age group.  What food you serve is actually decided by the individual school food programs for that district.  So, the reasoning of them not eating it is bunk!  

Your school districts can choose from several varieties provided by the USDA and fresh produce by the DOD. Those schools not in program are not required to purchase from these entities.  And, the cost for one meal to feed a child each day is 22.75 cents a meal!  

Now, are our children not worth that much?  Add in the fact that schools get reimbursed for free lunches, reduced lunches and paid lunches, and somehow I think this might be manageable in all schools!

With childhood obesity running rampant in this country I think our schools have an obligation to make sure our children understand the importance of eating a well balanced and nutritious meal!  Not to say, that as parents we should not be educating our children of this as well.  Our voices must be heard, parents.

Don’t let your schools cancel healthy lunches!!!

Bishop’s Brisket House – a Gem Hidden in The Mall

I am truly addicted to awesome ribs, and I have found the mecca of ribs right here in Palestine, TX!  A little family owned BBQ place named “Bishop’s Brisket House”.  

They are slow cooked St. Louis style spareribs, rubbed with the exact right amount of spice and falling off the bone delicious!  

You can actually taste the love put in to cooking these ribs.

However, their ribs are not all they offer!  

Brisket that is tender, moist and coated with cracked black peppercorns is equally as phenomenal as the ribs!  They have sausage, ham, turkey, chicken, chopped beef and whole chickens available if called in ahead of time.  

I have tried it all and I gotta say it is the best bbq I have ever tasted.  

What I love most about their meats is they have just the right amount of smoke so you get the flavor of the wood, but most importantly the delicate flavor of the meat becomes the true star in all their dishes.

Now for the sides, I love their potato salad, coleslaw and beans.  

The beans have wonderful chunks of pork throughout and have a mild tartness that is so addictive I can eat a quart all by myself!  I have yet to try all the sides because every time I say I am gonna try something new, I just wind up ordering these three!  

They do offer, peas, cabbage cakes, green beans, potatoes, new potatoes, squash, pasta salad and au gratin potatoes if you are hankering for something else.

They also have a remarkable choice of homemade desserts!  Buttermilk Pie, Pecan Pie, Chocolate Pie, Coconut Pie, Peach Cobbler, Cherry Cobbler, Raisin Pie and Egg Custard Pie.  Truly something to quench any sweet tooth.

But truly what separates Bishop’s is the people who work there.

I always feel welcome whenever I go there.  It truly is like eating at their home and feeling so welcome.  I don’t even really order anymore, because they know exactly what I want when I come in.  

Which to me shows the care they take in getting to know their customers and making them feel like part of the family.

So, if you find yourself in Palestine, TX and want to experience what true bbq and southern hospitality is all about, just stop on by Bishop’s Brisket House and you will never want to leave.  They are located at 2000 S. Loop 256 Suite 2, Palestine, TX 75801.

*This post is not sponsored in any way. I just love Bishop’s! 

**photo credit: http://www.bishopsbriskethouse.com/

Healthy School Lunch Planning

It is time to start thinking about how to come up with some interesting and healthy lunches for your kids again!  My boy is starting school this year and I am starting to give some serious thought to what to send with him.

Sandwiches are a definite given when preparing school lunches.  Make sure that you are using a whole grain bread, this allows for slower digestion and will provide your child with stable sugar and energy levels for the afternoon.  Using lean cuts of meat that are not heavily processed are a good choice for sources of protein.  However, you do not need to limit yourself to the conventional sandwich, using a variety of breads such as flatbreads, tortillas, bagels, etc. will give your child the feeling that they are not eating the same thing all the time.  Also, sending them with a hearty soup, stew or chili will provide them with all the nutrients they need and mix things up even more!

Fruits and vegetables are essential in a growing child’s diet, but can also be the most challenging to get them to eat.  Perhaps, getting your child involved in actually making the lunch with you would ease the pain of wondering if they will eat their whole lunch.  Another fun way to get them to eat their fruits and vegetables is to cut them into various shapes and put them on skewers.  Making food fun and easier to eat is a good way to encourage your children.

Now, for drinks, keeping children away from sodas and high sugar drinks is very challenging, I know.  So, perhaps offering some flavored teas and waters is a wonderful way to entice your child.  They offer both the allure of bright colors and wonderful effervescent flavors!

The most important thing to remember is that your child is probably willing to try more than we give them credit for and keeping them involved in the decision making process will make coming up with creative lunch ideas that much easier.

What are some healthy school lunch ideas you make for you kids?

 

 

What has Happened to Our Burger?!

Has anyone else noticed the growing trend of trying to create the most expensive or exotic burger there is?  What has happened to this amazing American classic that simply began as one man’s way of making something quick for on the go.  

Louis Lassen of New Haven, Conn.  is credited for creating the hamburger back in 1900.  A customer came in and wanted a quick hot meal.  Well, Louis was out of steaks, so he took the trimmings, made a patty, grilled it and served it between two slices of toast.  Amazing how something that simple has come this far.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like my burger that simple.  I am a fan of a variety of cheeses, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, avocado and the usual condiments.  But, this whole thing about putting truffles and gold flakes on them seems a little pretentious to me. I think it is just some snob’s way of feeling less like they are lowering themselves to eating common people’s food.  

Not to say that we should not be creative with our burgers once in a while, but this quest for the most expensive hamburger is just a bit much.  As the owner of the 666 Burger food truck in New York City, Franz Alique, once said, “It consists of a f—ing burger filled and topped with rich people s–t.”  And he made a burger worth $666 once just to prove the point!

Stick to the classics, folks, and you cannot go wrong, and every once in a while take a walk on the wild side.  But, when you go to a restaurant called the Burger Bar, even though it is Las Vegas, I think you should be able to get a burger for less than $60 don’t you!

What are your favorite toppings to put on your burger?

Summertime is Here! Enjoy a Key Lime Cheesecake!

Key Lime Cheesecake from @HKFoodNut thefoodnut.com

As we are right in the heart of summer, I know that desserts can be a trying thing to coordinate with the heat.  But, nothing says summer time dessert like a refreshing Key Lime Cheesecake!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

filling

4     8 oz. packages cream cheese

1 1/4 cups  sugar

1 tsp.  grated key lime zest

2 Tbsp.  Key Lime Juice

1  tsp.  vanilla

4      large eggs

crust

2 cups    graham cracker crumbs

1 cup     sugar

pinch of salt

5 Tbsp.   Butter(melted)

In small bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and butter and mix thoroughly. Press into bottom of a greased 10 in. spring form pan.  Place in preheated 325 degree oven for ten minutes.  Remove and let cool.

Mix ingredients for filling until nice and smooth.

Place on sheet pan and put in oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Pull out and let cool.

Topped with whipped cream and key lime wedges and serve!

July 23rd! Celebrate National Hot Dog Day!

Celebrate National Hot Dog Day July 23

Today is National Hot Dog Day! It is the day that we celebrate one of America’s true culinary classics! Steeped in tradition from ballparks to backyard cookouts, the hot dog truly is one of our country’s iconic foods.

When I think of eating hot dogs, memories of my childhood take me back to the old Tiger Stadium and going to opening day with my father. I would impatiently wait for the vendor to come around with the hot dog cart, I like the steamed version better than getting the grilled one at the concession stands. The warm soft bun enveloping the magnificently tasting ballpark frank topped with mustard was always a symbol that the baseball season has begun! And yes, mustard not ketchup, belongs on hot dogs!

National Coney Island Hot Dogs

My other memories of delicious franks takes me to another Detroit tradition, the Coney Island Hot Dog. Even though it is named after a New York landmark, do not be mistaken it was created in Detroit at a landmark establishment named American Coney Island, founded in 1917 and still going strong. What is Coney Island Hot Dog? It is a hot dog, lightly grilled, served on a steamed bun and topped with a special chili sauce, onions and mustard. Probably, the greatest tasting wiener ever created. And for those of us living in other states now that miss the awesome taste of home, we can order it online through americanconeyisland.com and nationalconeyisland.com. I have done this, and it is worth the money to have coneys at your house in two days!

Now, I know that several cities have their own signature hot dog and all are delicious. That is the beauty of the hot dog. It is a blank canvas waiting to be transformed only by a person’s imagination and creativity. It would seem that the varieties are endless if you just let yourself go crazy when it comes to toppings. So, bite into a hot dog of your choice today and enjoy being taken back to a simpler time of your life! I for one am going to my local Sonic today where they are offering certain hot dog creations for one dollar in celebration of an American classic!

What is your favorite way to eat a hot dog?

Cooking is Kid’s Play

I love cooking for my wife and son; however, I truly love cooking with my son!

My boy has expressed interest in my life as a chef ever since he could talk, and I have to admit I have mixed feelings about that as a career path for him.

It is not the easiest lifestyle or the easiest on the nerves. I was one of those chefs who succumbed to every evil cliche’ there is about being a chef.  I also had some of my most satisfying and proud moments as a chef. If my son chooses this as a profession, I feel my experiences and poor choices could come in handy while I’m teaching him as he is rising the ladder in the culinary field.

That being said, the boy and I love getting up in the morning, putting on his chef hat and making breakfast for mommy.  He is my big helper, the best egg cracker, and the best pancake batter mixer on the planet!!

And he says his daddy is the best chef in the world!

Together we are the bandits of brunch, haha!!  When breakfast is done, he gets so excited to wake up mommy and bring her the plate of goodies we made in there!

Not only do I find cooking with my son rewarding in a bonding sort of way, it allows me to expose him to foods he might not be privy to elsewhere.

He has sampled so many different vegetables. He absolutely loves mushrooms and broccoli!  And who would have thought that at the age of four he would absolutely fall in love with Scallops.

He truly has a good palate and is willing to try anything once!

I think one of our best experiences together has to be making some simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! We made a cooking show on how to make them for my wife’s blog and it was hilarious!

He truly helps ignite the fire in his daddy from time to time that he once had working as a chef.

All in all, cooking with your child is one of the most bonding and educational experiences you can have!  I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t and to do it more often if you do!

Do you have any fond memories of cooking with your children?

Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

Eating Healthy During PregnancyMy sister-in-law is days away from having her first child and it has inspired me to write a post on some helpful eating habits for those mothers to be out there!  Now, while there are no sure fire guarantees that eating a certain way is the only answer to preventing certain complications or health issues, it is still important to do everything you can to supply your body with all the proper nutrients.  A steady diet of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is a good way to start.

Folic Acid is an important part of your diet and has been known to help prevent birth defects in newborns.  It is recommended that mothers get about 800 micrograms of folic acid a day.  This can be obtained by choosing fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and dried beans and peas.

Calcium helps to promote strong bones in both mother and child, and can be found in milk, yogurt, cheese, spinach, fruit juices and cereals fortified with calcium and salmon.  Recommended amount per day is 1000 milligrams.

Vitamin D is another element that helps promote bone strength and this can be found in fish, eggs, asparagus and milk.  It is suggested mothers consume 600 IU per day.

As far as choices of proteins, lean proteins are best, however to get the proper vitamin D, a little fattier cut of fish can be eaten (i.e. salmon, tuna).

Processed lunchmeats and unpasteurized cheeses are best to avoid. If you crave lunchmeat, I would recommend Hormel Natural Choice lunchmeat.

Chicken, free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics is highly suggested. Smart Chicken or any other variety of organic or free range chicken is a good way to avoid this in your chicken.

Lean cuts of pork are ok, but should be limited because of the link to high blood pressure.

Beef, any lean cut, like a top sirloin or filet mignon is a good choice. When eating ground beef it should be cooked to 165 degrees to ensure it is well done. Undercooked ground beef is not safe for your unborn child.

When eating fish, it is important to stay away from fish that are high in mercury.  Typically, this is judged by how big the fish is, the longer it is alive and how big it gets usually is a good indicator that it is high in mercury(i.e. swordfish, halibut, king mackerel, tilefish, and certain tunas).

All in all eating smarter and healthier when pregnant will make mommy and baby healthier and happier during pregnancy and after.  I hope you found this a little helpful and good luck to all those awesome mommies to be out there!

Have you tried any special pregnancy diets?