Are you ready for KITCHEN COMBAT?

No? Not ready? Well, then I’m going to have to assume that you aren’t the one cooking Thanksgiving dinner at YOUR place this week. (Congratulations on foisting it off on some other poor soul. You are bringing a pie though, right? Or at least wine? Please?)

For those of you that screamed out a hearty YES! and rattled your pot lids in a show of culinary intimidation, I say NAY, YOU ARE NOT READY! Why?

Because you don’t have one of these beauties…

These awesome frying pans are part of a Kickstarter project and they can even be custom made just for you, which is pretty sweet. And guys, the creators at Morlock Enterprises call them ‘Fighting Man Frying Pans’, so if you were one of those closet culinary geniuses, you can finally step out of the shadow of your apron strings with your Man Pan. Just kidding.

Death of a Coffee Pot

As with most other thirty-ish people we know, our day starts with the sweet nectar of morning coffee. It’s what makes us ready to face the pile of email that shows up at 8am. It’s what keeps us awake for that mid morning meeting that is so incredibly booooooring. It’s what makes us a little jittery around 3pm.

We’ve gotta have it.

And this morning, we didn’t.

I’ll be the first to admit, our current coffee pot is just short of garbage to start with…a friend gave it to us when he ended up with an extra freebie from an online coffee purveyor. Yeah, you know the one. Since our old coffee pot had just died an inglorious death by me accidentally breaking the glass carafe, we took it and used it faithfully nearly every morning. I would occassionally deep clean it since we have hard water and things tend to grit up after awhile. Well, today we started the coffee at 7:15am. It’s now 10am and IT JUST FINISHED. We didn’t even brew a full pot! Arg!

So, my fellow foodies…I need your help! I’m not looking for a $20 fix nor some fancy machine that will break the bank, but it’s time for us to graduate from the kiddie coffee pot to something more refined. Can you recommend a good coffee maker for us in the comments below? My hubby will thank you once I have my coffee fix…

Decadent Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but this is a quick and easy dessert that is certain to get you out of any post-Valentine’s Day doghouse. That’s right, I’m talking chocolate dipped strawberries.

Now the purist in me has to point out that these are not actually -chocolate- dipped strawberries and a majority of what you can get in chocolate shops and online at various retailers are NOT CHOCOLATE EITHER. That is correct…these are made using confectionery chocolate or compound chocolate which contains partially hydrogenated oils. According to the FDA rules on such matters, any chocolate substance that contains these sorts of oils CANNOT be called “chocolate”. This also means that “white chocolate” is not considered chocolate at all. For the purpose of this demonstration though, I’ll just call it chocolate since that’s just simpler.

(Quick aside: it is not legal for products that are not chocolate to be marketed as such…next time you go to the store, check out how many chocolate products call themselves “chocolatey” or “cocoa flavored”.)

Supplies for Making Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesMaking chocolate dipped strawberries yourself is really very simple and inexpensive. Here’s a list of what you need: strawberries, chocolate (dark, milk, white, or a combination), double boiler (I use a metal bowl and a pot), spatula, parchment paper, cookie sheet.

When you choose your strawberries, make sure that they are fresh and not bruised. Strawberries stop ripening the moment they are picked, so if they are picked unripe, they’re not going to get any better. Be sure to avoid ones that have a lot of white around the shoulders of the berry since these are not going to be as sweet. Avoid berries that are REALLY big. Sure, they look cool, but these usually have a big hollow in the center since they have been growing too long and tend to go bad spectacularly fast. Look for strawberries that are all approximately the same size and if you can get them, try to get long stem berries. These are the cream of the crop so to speak, but they will cost you a little more. Also, whether you are buying from the store or from a roadside stand, check the bottom of the basket or clamshell…it’s an old trick to fill the bottom with smaller, inferior berries and a pretty layer of nice berries on the top.

Cleaning StrawberriesBefore you get started, clean your strawberries. NO!! Do NOT run them under water or rinse them in the sink!. First off, strawberries and water get along about as well as chocolate and water. They don’t. Any water left on your berries after washing will do two things; it will make your berry rot faster and it will make the chocolate seize and give it a crumbly, grainy texture. Decidedly not sexy. Instead, lightly wet a paper towel or a clean dish rag and gently wipe the berries. As you do this, check for any discolored spots, holes, and stuck flower petals. Discard any bad berries and remove all the debris.

Melting Chocolate for Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesIn terms of your chocolate choice, if you wish you can use couverture chocolate, but be forewarned. It can be difficult to work with since some kinds will need to be tempered and frankly, that can wreak all sorts of havoc if you haven’t had any experience with it previously. If I’m making these, I prefer to use confectionery chocolate since it’s simpler, tends to not bloom (those odd streaks and swirls that happen sometimes), is less expensive and easier to obtain and unless you have a chocolate snob around, no one can tell anyway. Does this mean you should use the cheapest confectionery chocolate you can find? No. It will be gross and taste grainy. Believe me. Aim for something actually designed for candy making like Wilton or Guittard. Skip the stuff you find on the top shelf at the grocery store. You’ll thank me later.

Melted Chocolate for Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesNow if you don’t have a double boiler (I don’t) or if you have no idea what one is, here’s how you set one up. Essentially, a double boiler is two pots that nest inside each other. You place the bottom one containing water on the stove burner and place the other on top containing whatever it is you wish to melt. Turn the burner up to boil the water in the bottom pot. This keeps you from burning whatever is in the top pot. I don’t have one, so instead of the top pot, I use a metal mixing bowl. It works just as fine. Two things to note, since this involves steam, it is easy to get burned if you aren’t paying attention and make sure you check the water level from time to time since it does evaporate from the boiling.


Once your chocolate is nice and smoothly melted, take the strawberry by the calyx (the leafy stuff) and dip it in the chocolate. You can coat the whole berry or leave some of the red showing, totally your choice. Give the berry a little shake and run the bottom gently against the side of the bowl to wipe off excess chocolate and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. If you are going to add any sort of toppings that need to stick (nuts, coconut, sprinkles, mini-chocolate chips, candies etc) now is the time to do it. If you wait until later, the chocolate will have set up and the toppings won’t adhere. If you are planning to drizzle another chocolate over the top, make sure your berries are in a relatively straight row. It will make it easier later. Once you are all done dipping and decorating your berries, you can leave them at room temperature to set up or you can place them in the fridge to help them along a little. Don’t place them in the freezer though as the chocolate will contract and crack.

These will keep well for about 48 hours, so you can make them ahead of time for a party or dinner without having to worry.


Sweet Success – a Big City Slider Station is on it’s way.

Got to give a special thanks to Adam at LiveMercial for sending on a Big City Slider Station for review here on UltimateFoodie.  I’m hoping to have it in my hands and cranking out a variety of homemade sliders for review by my family and I by the end of the week.


(For the record though… Billy Mays still pisses me off…. I look at him like Viagra and spammers.  If some jerk would quit buying when he got spammed, they would stop doing it.  Along the same lines, Billy no doubt browbeats hundreds of thousands of Americans into buying what he pitches or he’d be in the breadline or hawking at county fairs)

Big City Slider Station – now I can make sliders at home

God only knows why, but I was watching late night TV last night and was actually confronted with a commercial for a product that I was intrigued by and might just have to pick up.  I was jarred from my semi-slumber by renowned high-volume pitchman Billy Mays (he of the “Just for Men” beard) yelling that I simply had to buy the Big City Slider Station

I started to think… since I am married with a couple of young kids… I don’t get to go out drinking, and subsequently seeking “sliders” all that much anymore, so it would be a hell of an idea to get this kitchen weapon that allows me to make my own “sliders” at home… or worse yet – get my kids hooked on these addictive little mini-burgers.

If you ( like me before the first time I went to Michigan and experienced my first White Castle “bag of 10” ) have no idea what the heck a “slider” is – it’s a mini-burger… on a mini-bun, usually accompanied by (and cooked on top of some mini-onions, with some mini-cheese on top if I have my way.  Purportedly, with this kitchen weapon of mass destruction,  you just heat up the bottom pan, drop in some ground beef, turkey, chicken, possum, etc.,  then press with the top half of the pan to flatten, and within a couple of minutes – voila – perfect slider goodness (thanks to the heat circulating action formed by the 2 part pan.)  Of course – since this is your standard “late night TV” offer there are freebies including a cookbook, a measuring spoon ( would be number 84 for me I think) and a “prep slicer” so I can cut my onions in perfect dice.

It kills me to admit it, but I am tempted to buy one of those things, which may result in me being struck by lightening or something since I am sure that I vowed at some point to never buy any product hawked by this screaming a-hole.

Rules are meant to be broken I guess.

A note to the fine folks at Severn Marketing – I would love to review one of these things…. a free one to play with and write up just might save my life.

Happy eating!