When the Bear Comes Home
I love my Bear, as seen here unwilling to wait for the camera to click before diving into a Gray’s Papaya hot dog in NYC. Whether we’re on the road together, enjoying a fun trip, or relaxing at home during his time off from work, my husband, Bear, and I are always thinking up new creations for meals or thinking of new places to try! I was rummaging through all my food pics to decide what to write about next, and I discovered a theme… things we cook when Bear comes home!
So, I wanted to share a few of our latest kitchen concoctions. Bear works on the road a majority of the time and gets to come home for blocks of time, and he is an avid eater of my food, as well as an excellent Sous Chef and Executive Chef from time to time in our tiny kitchen. You guys saw how we make a great New Mexico Green Chile Won Ton. Now, here are some other adventures From the Kitchen…
First up, Bear’s Cola BBQ Dinner… now, I know what you’re thinking. Cola BBQ Dinner: this implies an entire meal made from cola products, correct??? Yeah… initially, I wasn’t all that excited about this meal either. :-\
But with my husband continuously saying, “Trust the Bear”, I decided to play Sous Chef on this adventure and enjoy the ride. He saw a recipe online for Coca-Cola Rice, and that inspired an entire meal including Coke Brisket, Dr. Pepper Ribs and his own modified version of the Coca-Cola Rice (hello, huge endorsements – Coke and Dr. Pepper, my husband would bathe in your products if it was socially acceptable).
Seen here, Bear is lovingly rubbing down his precious ribs with a dry rub consisting of cayenne, brown sugar, salt, pepper, dry mustard, dash of cinnamon and chile powder. He made the Dr. Pepper sauce with Dr. Pepper, of course, ketchup, vinegar, dry mustard, salt, pepper, cayenne and a few other ingredients he added while I wasn’t watching. After allowing the ribs to cook slowly in the oven, he drenched them in Dr. Pepper sauce and put them back for the final 20 minutes. For service, he drizzled a little more of that Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce right over the ribs, and I have to tell you… they were gooooooooooooood.
For a side dish, he prepared his Coke Brisket. 🙂 This is a really simple recipe that I think just about everyone knows about – it’s the dry onion soup mix, Coke, chile sauce braise, and the brisket came out perfectly. The Coca-Cola Rice was a modified version.
The original recipe called for green onions and garlic, two items that can overpower a dish if you’re not careful. So, Bear omitted them both and added minced sweet onion to balance out the flavor and keep the rice on the milder side. I have to say, it was one of the best meals we have made at home, and it wasn’t too sweet either! I loved it! (As for the beans, a certain Golden Retriever gave us the inside scoop on a recipe for beans his guardian makes – we won’t talk about that.)
Next up, Thai Shrimp over Coconut Cilantro Rice. This was a huge hit one weekend when he surprised me by coming home unexpectedly. We marinated the shrimp in lime, ginger, garlic, chile powder, lemongrass and coconut water. We then steeped coconut milk with lemongrass, ginger, cardamon, and cumin seeds. After the milk had captured all the wonderful flavors, we strained it and used it to make the rice. After it was ready, I finely chopped some cilantro and added it before service. Once the rice was ready, we quickly seared the shrimp, toasted some shredded coconut for texture, and enjoyed! This rice was packed with exotic flavors but with a mildness to it that met the heat of the shrimp really well. This one will definitely be making its way back to the kitchen again soon.
The final dish I wanted to share with you all is something near and dear to my heart. It’s a simple Texas recipe that is a sure fire winner for anytime Bear is at home. It’s Chicken Fried Steak with pan gravy, creamy mashed potatoes and a house salad. Nothing fancy about this dish, but it is a no brainer when it comes to “will Bear like this?” And, to top it all off, I whipped up a quick, individual Apple Pie to finish the meal.
Most people like to use cubed steak for their Chicken Fried Steak, and I don’t. I think it can be too thin and sometimes too mushy; so, what I like to do is use a nice, sirloin steak and take to it with a meat mallet until it’s about a quarter inch thick and about 1/3 larger in diameter than when you started. I used the traditional cast iron skillet and heated it up with about an inch of canola or corn oil in the pan. I seasoned the flour dredge with smoked paprika (something I have never divulged to anyone – so, keep it on the D.L.). It’s the secret to that bacon flavor in the gravy that isn’t bacon at all. Of course, you want to season the dredge with salt and pepper and any heat you’d like to add. I used cayenne in the egg wash only so it didn’t cause too much havoc in the gravy when I used the dredge for that. Anyway, I coated the pounded sirloin in egg wash and the flour dredge and then fried it up! On the side, I boiled potatoes while warming up heavy cream and butter in another pan to add when the potatoes were ready to mash. I love to strain my potatoes for a smooth consistency once they’ve been mashed and seasoned, but it’s not a necessary step to lovely mashed potatoes. Once the steak was done, I removed the oil from the pan and added just about a tablespoon of fresh oil to the hot cast iron skillet, added the seasoned dredge until it started to make a roux (paste like consistency). Then, I added whole milk to the hot pan, stirring consistently. If you decide to make this, don’t worry if it’s soupy – it will look weird and soupy for the first minute and then start to pull together. That’s true Texas gravy right there – the smoked paprika from the dredge will create this bacony aroma, and who doesn’t like bacony aroma???!! I threw together a quick chopped house salad and Bear was as happy as a clam!
While he was enjoying dinner, I quickly threw together a pie crust, apples with cinnamon, butter, flour and sugar, tossed it in the oven and once we were done eating the Chicken Fried Steak, we had hot Apple Pie to share!
That’s really the joy of what we do in the kitchen, sharing. My Bear is an amazing man, and I’m just really blessed that he loves to cook and eat as much as I do! We have fun adventures with one another always, but it’s when Bear comes home that things really get cookin’ in the kitchen!