Tag Archives: oven

Those Other Stuffed Peppers


So, tonight for dinner I made a new (to me) one.  The wife has made it several times and it’s always a hit with the kids.  I think her original recipe was entitled Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers.  This takes out a bit of the spice and she’s not a huge fan of black beans (which I would have included).  Everything here came from Aldi, except the slices of white American cheese.  We just had that on hand, and no shredded cheese.  It worked well.

Our 3 year old daughter wolfed down about a pepper and a half worth of filling, skipping the outer pepper for some reason.  (She would possibly eat it all, or just the reverse tomorrow.)  She said that we should have it every night for dinner.  I noted that she really likes these, and her mom’s homemade Manwich-like sloppy joes, and that we should start a food truck that specializes in ground meat and call it “Ground Around Town.”  She said we have to paint it pink.  I asked if she wanted to cook or wash dishes.  She chose cooking.

Out of all the stuff you think kids might be picky about, they gobble this up.  (3 yo & 18mo).  I like these better than the more traditional meatball w/ rice stuffed in a green pepper & covered in spaghetti sauce or tomato soup.  For some reason, I can dig the rice & ground meat mixed… but I do not like rice in meatballs.  The red, yellow, & orange peppers are very sweet too.  I like them more than the green ones.  Also, if you mention that you like your peppers stuffed with sausage, you can just close this tab and move on.

These were really easy to make…

All I did was…

Cook the rice & set it aside.  I used the liquid from the can of tomatoes & a beef bullion cube in the water.

Cut the tops off of the peppers, pull out seeds & weird white stuff off of the inside.  (Bethany parboils them first, I didn’t.  I liked them a bit crunchier.)

Brown the ground beef, season to taste.  I added onion powder, garlic powder, & seasoned-salt.  (We have also used ground turkey for this.  It’s delicious.)

Mix the fire-roasted diced tomatoes into the ground meat after draining the fat off.

Mix the rice & beef/tomatoes together.

Put the peppers in a glass baking dish.  Pack the peppers with the tasty rice & beef goodness.  Two didn’t stand up well on their own, so I made little foil stands.

I cooked them in a preheated oven at 375° for 20 minutes, then added the slices of cheese for 5 minutes.

Like I said, Bethany parboils the peppers so they’re a bit softer, so she cooks it at 325° for 20-25 minutes.

Next time, if I make this, I may cook the rice in tomato paste or other tomato flavoring, and add the black beans.  Not sure what the kids would think.  Maybe a little bit of heat would be nice too?  This reminds me of Spanish rice in a pepper.

 

 

Do you make anything similar?  Do you do stuffed peppers a different way?  Do you stuff acorn squash like this?  Do you do different seasonings?  Make ’em meatless?  (Toasted garbanzo beans & black beans might be really good in this!)  Let me know in the comments!

#MeatballSub #Recipe


So, I’ve been hungry for meatball subs.  They’re so simple to make, but we just never seem to do it at home.  I shared the photo on social media, because I’m weird like that and it annoys people, and some people seemed to dig it.  wanted to share how easy it was with a minimal amount of effort.

#MeatballSubs make a good lunch after playing in the snow! ❄

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

So, the wife got a pound of ground meat from Aldi the other day, and I picked up the rest of the stuff that we didn’t already have at Giant Eagle on my way home from work.  I probably could have gotten all of this from Aldi.

So this is what I used…

  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • a handful or two of finely shredded fancy 6 cheese “Italian” stuff – I started with a 2 cup bag.  We always have this or something similar around.
  • Whatever “shake cheese” you put on spaghetti. I have Parmigiano-Reggiano because they think it needs to sound fancy.
  • A handful of crackers.  We had “club” crackers from Aldi
  • Italian Dressing (we seem to really dig Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian)
  • A jar of cheap-ass pizza sauce  (I probably should have used some better marinara sauce)
  • Spices (Season All, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika …whatever floats your boat.)
  • Brown sugar
  • Sub buns (I like the Cellone’s or bakery ones, but I was being cheap this shopping trip and got some weird mass-produced ones.)
  • EVOO
  • Butter

And this is what I did…

Meatball Subs

MEAT.

Turn the oven on first so you don’t have to worry about it later.  Put it on 375° because that’s always what they seem to say to put it on.  I don’t know why.  I don’t even know who they are.

I made some meatballs with the meat, some hand-crushed crackers, a dash of the pizza sauce, a dash of Italian dressing, a dash of whatever spices I grabbed off the rack (probably pepper, season all, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika), a bit of the Parmesan shake cheese and the mysterious “six cheese Italian” stuff.

I put some spices on the outside because why not, and tossed them into a frying pan with EVOO and a small pat of butter on the bottom.  I pre-heated it to high, then turned it to 6 before I tossed in the balls.  6 is at about 6:00 on my stupid electric stove top.

I melted a bit of butter in the microwave.  I quickly cut open the buns, put them on a baking sheet, spread on some melted butter with a brush and added… garlic powder, onion powder, a dash of shake cheese, and “Italian seasoning” to the buns.  No Italian seasoning for my wife, and no garlic powder for my 2½ year old.  I popped them in the 375° oven on the middle rack for a bit.

I used tongs to turn the meatballs over & popped a lid on the pan.

I dumped the remaining pizza sauce into a soup cup (it was a little jar), and added a sprinkle of brown sugar.  I nuked it for 45 seconds or so.  Why?  I like sweet sauce, and grandma always said “it cuts the acid.”

I turned the meatballs on to an undone side, and got the sub rolls out of the oven.  I knew they were done because… I didn’t even look at them.  I just took them out.  They looked fine.  Plus, we’re not totally finished.  I added some pizza sauce and some of the finely shredded awkwardly named cheese to the buns.

I made sure the meatballs weren’t going to kill us with the food thermometer.  They weren’t.  I put those on the buns and added more sauce, shredded cheese, and shake cheese.

I set some meatballs aside for my 10 month old.  The sandwich was a little much for him, but he will eat just about anything you put in front of him.  Seriously.  even if it’s not edible.

I put the now built subs into the oven and cranked the knob to 400° because I am impatient and my 2½ year old kept asking if lunch was ready.  I turned the light on in the oven and watched the cheese melt.  Not only was that fun, I could also make sure I wasn’t going to burn the bejesus out of things.  I didn’t.  I took it out in time.

Well, some of the cheese that fell on to the baking sheet burned, because I made a mess.  Oh well.

These were pretty good, although next time I will use different/better sauce.  That squeeze stuff isn’t bad.  Maybe I can make a simple marinara.  Also, homemade-ish deli rolls or Cellone’s are worth it… and I would cut a little triangle out of the top like Subway used to, before we were over-saturated with them and they started to serve terrible cream-of-deathfish.

At any rate.  This is easy to do.  You could buy your own meatballs or bake your own bread or use cheese slices to make this as easy or as difficult as you like.  I cut my 2½ year old’s into 3 sections so she had sliders.  I cut my wife’s in 2.  I ate the whole thing in one big sandwich like a hungry hungry pig.  I refuse to apologize.

Share photos of yours or links to your own blogged recipe in the comments!

 

Hamburgers vs. Meatballs vs. Meatloaf?


This thought came to mind while making hamburgers for the holiday.  I remembered the commercials for ranch burgers & I had a packet of the ranch dressing mix, so I looked up their recipe.  It contained breadcrumbs.  I always thought breadcrumbs belong in meatballs or meatloaf, but not hamburgers.  Then there’s egg.  I put it in meatloaf but not in meatballs or hamburger.  They’re all almost the exact same thing… but then they’re all completely different.

I generally always throw them all together without a recipe.  They’re easy to do that way.  I guess everyone has their own way to do things.  I make them all the same sometimes, but sometimes I add something different for fun.

I’m just wondering how other people do things?

I’d love some feedback in the comments below.  I’ll share how I generally do things.  These aren’t really recipes, and I don’t measure much, but this is typically what goes in each:

Hamburgers

Meatballs

  • Ground Beef (Sometimes Turkey)
  • Crushed Croutons (Whatever we have for the salad if we’re having one, or a nice mix of spices or whatever.)
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake” cheese
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing (It spices them well, keeps them nice & moist!)
  • Black Pepper

Meatloaf

  • Ground Beef
  • Egg
  • Bread or crushed crackers.  (I like the bread ripped up more than the crackers.)
  • A1, Ketchup, Mustard, or BBQ sauce… or a combo of all of them.
  • Season All
  • Black Pepper

(Click here for a crazy meatloaf recipe.)

Of course sometimes I add garlic, or onion powder, or something crazy.  That’s the fun if it though, isn’t it?  So, what goes in your meatballs, hamburgers, or meatloaf?

Raw Ground beef

Raw Ground beef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Get Stuffed.


I can’t wait to make stuffing again. It’s ridiculously tasty. I love the carb overload. Maybe I will get those goggles, and I need to pick up some Yuengling.  A week from tonight, I should be in the process of creating this awesomeness.

I’ll show you my stuffing recipe if you show me yours.

How do you do it?

Maybe this year, I’ll try to make some Potato Filling too.  There are a bunch of recipes for it out there.  Maybe stuffing balls would be good…  Now I’m hungry.

STUFFING!

STUFFING!

Yuengling Lager

Beer

Ciabatta Chicken Carb Overload Sandwiches (via Cookpendium)


I started another blog a while ago to stockpile recipes, then kind of forgot about it. I need to start using it again!

Here’s the first public link to the thing. It really needs tweaking, but I hope the focus is on the food, not the layout. Ha ha ha.

Ciabatta Chicken Carb Overload Sandwiches A while ago, I saw some Ciabatta buns in a 2-pack at my local Giant Eagle, and I thought that they were perfect for  my wife & I because we didn’t have to buy 6 or 8 at a time and let some go bad by the time we got around to eating them all.  Around that time, we had some leftover chicken breasts that had been prepared Shake ‘n Bake style the night before.  Out of that, my favorite new sandwich was born… Read More

via Cookpendium

Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes


This past Christmas when we had the family over for a holiday dinner, I decided to try & make some scalloped potatoes.  I found a ton of recopies online, and took what I liked from some & what I liked from others and put them all together… leaving out the stuff I didn’t like.  They turned out really well, to the compliments of everyone.  The only problem is that I didn’t write down what I did… so I had no idea when I went to make them again for an Easter  dinner yesterday.  Last time, like everyone in the kitchen, I kept adding stuff until the sauce looked & tasted just right.

Friday night, I pulled out the same printed recipes from last time…. made sure we had most of the stuff here & popped what I needed on to the grocery list.  This time I wrote down what went into it, but I may have the portions off… Where I have “cup” or “Tablespoon”, I may have just dumped some stuff in by eye.

People have asked how I made them, so I’ll try writing it out coherently here.  I’ll add that  my wife, Bethany, washed & cut the potatoes while I made the sauce… which was invaluable… because the sauce needed to be watched, and cut potatoes that sit for any period of time get all brown.  I guess I could have cut them & put them in some cold water to halt the browning if I absolutely had to… but we get along well in the kitchen, and it’s nice to cook together sometimes.  (I offered for her to do the sauce & to put me on potato duty, but she declined in case the cause didn’t turn out well, the blame could go solely on me.)

Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I buy the stuff in bags, this is 1 small bag.)
  • 2 cups shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese (The store brand was 2 bags for $5 I think.)
  • 1 pint (2 cups / 16 fl. oz.) heavy cream
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 Tbsp. corn starch
  • Salt/Pepper/Season All to taste
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (I used the stuff minced & put in olive oil, in little jars)
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise… (or 1 Tbsp. Each!)
  • 1 sm. bag bacon bits
  • bread crumbs (or crackers)

Stuff:

  • potato scrubber
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish
  • sauce pan
  • spoon and/or wisk
  • large bowl (if you’re gonna soak the potatoes)
  • measuring cup & spoons
  • aluminum foil
  • hot pads
  • oven
  • stove top

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Wash & slice the potatoes, store in cold water if you have to so they don’t brown… or have someone do that while you…
  3. Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with the stick of butter.  Melt the rest of the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.
  4. Add the flour & corn starch to the butter to make a roux.
  5. Turn it down to low heat, & slowly stir in the cream, buttermilk, sour cream,  & mayo/Miracle Whip.  Stir like a madman.
  6. Add the bacon bits, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper/spices to taste.  Don’t forget to stir.
  7. Add about half of each kind of shredded cheese to the mix, keep stirring like a madman.
  8. Pull the sauce from the heat, keep stirring… add a little to the bottom of the baking dish.
  9. Later potatoes, sauce, & remaining shredded cheese… saving a nice amount of shredded cheese for the top.
  10. Cover with foil, bake at 350° for an hour.
  11. Pull it out, uncover, top with bread crumbs or crumbled up crackers, add some additional seasoning if so inclined, and pop it back in for another 15 minutes.

Well, there you have it.  Pretty simple, and nothing makes me happier than cheese & potatoes.  I noticed a lot of scalloped potato recipes don’t have cheese, but really… where’s the fun in that?  Some also used a cream of chicken or cream of potato soup… makes it too much like White Trash ‘Taters for me.  You may want to skip the breading, use chips or those crispy canned fried onions.  Everyone has their own thing that they dig.  Yukon Gold potatoes would make this really nice, probably wouldn’t need to cook as long…red potatoes might make it bitey…  A mix may be nice.  As far as the spices, I used coarse ground black pepper, I think some dry mustard, paprika, and some McKormick Season All.

More than 6 ways to cook a hot dog.


A while ago, I blogged about stumbling on to an article listing 6 ways too cook a hot dog.  We all know there’s more.  Here’s a much better list.  OK, maybe not better… but bigger. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions submissions here and on Facebook, I hope to include them all here.

Oh well, on to the list…

  1. Grill ’em. The general consensus seems to be that if you’re going to cook a hot dog, it needs to be grilled.  I would agree with this.  I usually don’t break out hot dogs unless I’m already grilling burgers.  They’re there for those weird non-burger people, or a topping for your burger.
    • Charcoal Grill – This is old school grilling, get it hot let the flames & coals cook the dog with some nice grill lines or looking like the victim of a flame-thrower accident.  There are good instructions on grilling w/ gas & charcoal here (as if you need them).
    • Propane Grill – It’s a little easier to control the heat, & you’re less likely to produce the same flame-thrower victim effect if you keep an eye on ’em. There are also good instructions on grilling w/ gas & charcoal here (again, as if you need them).
    • Foreman Grill – Or any of the imitators & whatever they’re called.  I’ve seen a Hamilton Beach one, I’ve seen them called electric grills, counter-top grills, whatever… you know what I’m talking about.  I’ve had little success with the Foreman Grill & hot dogs… which is odd, because it cooks other stuff quite easily.  Here’s a video on how to cook ’em on the Foreman Grill, …because I can’t find good text for it anywhere.  They don’t list a time for hot dogs in the book that comes with it.  Maybe they assume their grill is for convenience, and it’s more convenient to nuke or boil your dogs.  If anyone has $99 to spare, I’ll take the USB iGrill from Think Geek.
    • Infrared Grill – I know nothing about this newfangled contraption.  It looks like you can burn a hot dog in 0.5 seconds on one.  Learn about infrared grills at Wikipedia.
    • Griddle/Flattop Grill – If you have one in your house, you are awesome.  You can certainly cook a hot dog on one, and don’t need me to tell you how.
  2. Open Flame. Who doesn’t love hot dogs (or anything really) cooked over a campfire? …Or a bonfire, trash barrel fire, or while the neighbor’s house is burning down? With these methods, You can also wrap the dog with biscuit or croissant dough from those creepy popping tubes, and it will cook nicely over an open flame.  If you want to get really crazy, slice it down the middle & stuff cheese in it, or wrap some cheese around it before the dough.
    • Skewer – We use roasting forks or or just sticks.  You can get the forks at any sporting goods or camping store, in a store that has a camping section, or in a store near your camping site.  You can get sticks in the woods, or from a lone, sad tree.  You can also get inventive, like this guy.  Be careful choosing sticks and being inventive… you don’t want anything that will poison your hot dog… like toxic wood, metal treated or painted with anything, and of course plastic.  I can’t seem to find a guide online of safe & unsafe tree branches to use when cooking over a fire.  Anyone have a boy scout handbook?  (I asked Yahoo!, apparently nothing out there will kill you, but stick with a non-sappy wood.) With this method, get your fire going, and hold the hot dog over it… but not in the flame unless you like black crispy possibly carcinogen-laced hot dogs.  If using a store-bought fork, it’s up to you if you want to put the dog on long-ways, or double/triple ’em up the forks.
    • Pie Iron – If you’ve camped with me, you’ve cooked with a pie iron… or you’ve watched me cook with one.  My favorites include pizza ones, and Reubens… but I’m sure you could stuff a hot dog into one.  They also have ones that are shaped to cook hot dogs.  This would most likely result in a nicely cooked dog without the singe marks, maybe flavored with some onions (gross!) or sauerkraut.  If you’re buying  a pie iron, buy one made of… iron.  This sounds dumb, but they make aluminum ones, and I have melted them with no problem.  I don’t think you want aluminum flavored hot dogs.
    • The Cage – Burger basket, grill basket, vegetable basket – all different names for a similar utensil.  I’d use it like I would a fork for hot-dog cooking… may be sort of useless unless you have a burger in it too.
    • The Rack – If you can find some sort of rack or grate that you can secure safely over the fire that’s also safe to cook on, you can cook like it’s a charcoal grill if you’re more comfortable with that.  Just make sure the flame isn’t eating your hot dog before you do.
    • Foil Pack – You could use the bread dough & any toppings/sides here as well.  Wrap the dog & even the bun in foil, and place it on a grate over the flames, or in the coals around the bottom of the fire like you would with a baked potato.
    • Oven Burner – That’s right.  Pit it on a fork or roasting fork, and hold it over the flame on your stove top.  This might not be safe, but I bet it would be fun.
  3. Boiled – I’m sure you’ve all had ’em like this.  I think it even suggests to heat ’em this way on the pack.  I’m not a fan of boiling anything any more, unless it’s soup or pasta.  It just seems like a lot of flavor goes into the water… and where hot dogs are concerned, it’s not like you have a lot to work with to begin with.  I’d suggest boiling hot dogs in beer, even though I’ve never tried it… it sounds pretty awesome.  You can even get crazy with beer, ketchup, and brown sugar.  Maybe some beef broth or bullion would be cool here too… but that may make ’em to salty?  I dunno.  Boil at your own risk.
  4. Nuke ’em – I guess that besides grilling, this would seem to be the most obvious method of cooking hot dogs.  On the last pack we bought, this method was featured larger than the other methods.  Just 30 – 40 seconds in the microwave … wrapped in a paper towel?  I never use the paper towel.  Is that to hold in moisture, prevent explosions, or what?  Apparetly there’s an art to this, because I have found the articles How to Cook a Hot Dog in a Microwave and the possible passive-aggressive How to Cook a Hot Dog in the Microwave Without Exploding the Ends.  As I write this, I have an urge to make some hot dogs explode in the microwave.  I may be developing a disorder.
  5. Lovin’ from the Oven – You can certainly cook hot dogs in the oven, you may split ’em open or poke them with a fork first.  This method would be ideal for the croissant-wrapped hot dogs, smothered in some awesome cheese.  Just make sure if you use the 1st linked method, that you put the foil in the oven before you heat it up (like they so diligently mentioned)… or don’t do that, burn yourself, and stay off of the internet.
  6. Deep Fried – They call these Rippers in New Jersey, no?  I don’t have a fryer… but I suppose I could do this in a pot on the stove, or in my turkey fryer.  I’ve never had one, but I’d imagine it’s a pretty good thing.  Corn dogs could be lumped in here too, I guess.
  7. Steamed – This seems to be a popular method, but I know I’ve never done it, or really seen it done.  I guess there are commercial steam cabinets for hot dogs… but I bet you could steam it like you do with vegetables if you have a steamer.  Perhaps, like boiling… you could steam it with beer…?
  8. In the Skillet. – Or frying pan.  Just fry it on the stove top with a little bit of oil.  I guess you could slice it open first if you wanted to, so it doesn’t pop on you.  Or, you can elevate it to an art form.
  9. Crock PotPop ’em in the crock pot with some sauerkraut (maybe along with some beer), and you’re good to go.
  10. Car EngineWhy not?
  11. In Stuff – Okay this isn’t one specific method, but I didn’t feel like all of these should have their own #’s on the list.  You know you’ve chopped ’em up and added them to baked beans, mac n’ cheese, or even done a hot dog & potato bake.  Here I’ll also inject that I once got the SpaghettiOs with hot dogs.  They were inexplicably gross.  This is your final warning.
  12. Goofy Single-Purpose Appliances – I have hot dogs only occasionally.  I can’t imagine getting one of these hot dog cookers that serves only one purpose.  Our counter-space is quite limited.. and I can’t see that breaking one of these things out would be worth the novelty after more than a few uses…
    • The Hot Dog Toaster – Besides looking creepy, these also apparently cook hot dogs.  It looks to be just a toaster with hot dog-shaped holes and bun-shaped holes.  I wonder if it really cooks the thing through very well?  May be quite convenient.
    • Solar Hot Dog Cooker – This might be fun for campers or science geeks.  Solar ovens are pretty awesome, this one and this one are especially geared for hot dogs… this one might work.
    • The Roller – These apparently come in several varieties, but all look to be the same concept… Cooked on rollers like the ones you see at the convenience stores.  Brookstone makes one, there are a bunch of professional ones, and Nostalgia Electrics offers the Roller & “Ferris Wheel” varieties.
    • The “Roast My Weenie” guy – More of an accessory, this really just needs to be seen.
    • Electrocute it – My cousin told me a tale via Facebook of a hot dog cooker for electric chair, taser, and Tesla enthusiasts… called the Presto Hot Dogger.  Mad scientists can try it at home with a few things from around the house.  This actually looks pretty awesome.  This vintage one looks like a torture device.

Well, those are all the methods I can think of right now.  Well, other than going to Sheetz or Dormont Dogs… you should be able to get your hot dog fix by one of the methods described here.  If you have another technique, please list it in the comments below!

If you need more info… check out the list of hot dog variations.

Also up for discussion… now that you know how to cook one, what do you want on your hot dog?

My $1.05 Pillsbury Research Grant Has Arrived!


35¢ OFF

So, you did read my initial letter about Totino’s and the follow-up correspondence, right?  Well, needless to say, my research grant is a little smaller than expected.  Some “cents off” apparently means just that.

I got 3 of these bad boys, entitling me to a whole 35¢ off of one Totino’s product.  One dollar and five cents off of three Totino’s products?  I’m sure I get more than that when I use my Giant Eagle Advantage Card & get them on a regular sale.  Maybe Giant Eagle will double these since they’re less than a dollar…  So I’ll be getting $2.10 worth of free pizza rolls.    I wonder what the regular price is?

Pizza Rolls on Sale at Giant Eagle!

Right now, Giant Eagle has Totino’s Pizza Rolls on sale… 3 boxes for $8.  They say they’re normally 3 for $10.  So… About 40 rolls in the 19.8 oz. bag, 35¢ would get me 4 pizza rolls?  And, I’d only be able to use one coupon with this special, as the Giant Eagle website states that you must buy 3 bags in order to get the $2 off, and the back of the coupon states that no other coupon is to be used with this coupon.  Does the sale act as a coupon?  If not, I could still only use the one coupon at a time… so out of 120 pizza rolls, a whopping 4 would be free?

Perhaps this was a karmic slap in the face?  Maybe a well-deserved one.  You’d think they would simply either not offer any coupons at all… or offer some coupons that are actually worth something… like a BOGO or at least a dollar off.  Perhaps they’re just cheap, or this is all they’re authorized to give out?  It cost them 38¢ to mail me the damn coupons!  That would have been 4 or 5 more free pizza rolls had they emailed me some coupons.  Maybe they know I’m goofing on them.

The letter accompanying the coupons is quite amusing…

Letter from Tracy Boyd @ General Mills

HA HA!  I'm using the internet!

When I see someone write “the internet”, I always think of the guy to the right.  I have no idea why.  I just do.  It sounds archaic written down like that.  THE INTERNET!  HA!  HA!

Not sure where to go from here.  Do I write back, and ask for more research funding?  Do I ask to talk to someone else who may be able to offer more money?  Do I write to completely unrelated organizations and as for research grants?  Has anyone reading this ever applied for a grant?  Should I include a research proposal?  Maybe I should just write back, super-excited about the $1.05, saying what a generous gift it is.  Maybe I should ask to speak directly to General Mills or Totino himself?  Heh.  I feel confident in turning this up a notch.

Also… research will definitely go forward.  I will need some time to assemble my team (although, I think I already know who’s in), procure the test product, and schedule a date for the study.

Stay tuned, loyal subjects!

®

How do you cook hot dogs?


The other day, I wanted to cook a few hot dogs before the US vs. Canada hockey game to enjoy along with some nachos, cheese, & jalapeños.  These are the things I like to get when I have the opportunity to get out to a Pens game, and thought they’d be fun (and cheaper) to enjoy at home.

My outdoor grill is currently out of commission until I get some new knobs for it that won’t melt, and I really didn’t want to fire it up to cook 3 hot dogs anyway.

So, I thought of how to cook the hot dogs…  Microwave?  Oven?  Toaster Oven?  Foreman grill?

So many decisions.  So, I did some Googling and found an article about 6 different ways to cook a hot dog.  There are certainly more than that.  I never really put that much thought into cooking hot dogs.  They’re not even one of my favorite foods.  Usually they only come out when the grill is already being fired up for hamburgers or we have some sort of campfire or bonfire going.

I ended up cooking the dogs on the Foreman grill, not the best idea – even given the recommended cooking times.  They blackened more than I’d like on the outside, & were not quite done on the inside.

I should have slapped them in the oven or toaster oven.  The microwave is just “eh”, and boiling is just out of the question… although I might try boiling them in beer some time as the one article recommended.

I’d just like you to tell me , in the comments section below – how you cook your hot dogs.  I may post a wrap-up and make a list much longer than six methods  at some point if I get enough of a response… and may cook them a goofy way for the chili cook-off.

A one time good will gesture from Pillsbury!


Pillsbury Pizza Rolls BoyNot too long ago, I wrote to the maker’s of Totino’s Pizza Rolls (which I soon discovered was Pillsbury/General Mills) to ask about microwave cooking times for quantities of more than the reccommended 6 at a time.  The answer seemed to be pretty vague, as most corporate replies are.  Of course, I was determined to ask further questions — goaded onward by many of you here and on other places around the ‘net.  Here’s where I’d like to share my reply to them, and of course their latest response.  Thanks to Dave again for the editing help here!

from ERiC AiXeLsyD world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
to Corporate.Response@genmills.com; Pillsbury@emails.pillsbury.com
date Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 2:39 PM
subject Re: Your Response From “Pillsbury” – 2010/02/12-0715 XTB
mailed-by gmail.com

Hello Ms. Boyd,

Thank you for the quick and thorough response!  (Apologies if the “Ms.” should be a “Mr.”, I know the name Tracy can go either way!) In reading your response, I have a few more questions, and perhaps a proposal for your consideration.  I do enjoy the quickness/convenience of cooking in the microwave versus using a conventional oven.  Perhaps I should learn to use the toaster oven as a compromise?

The first thought brought to mind was that perhaps I may be doing something wrong.  The instructions say to arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate.  Would this be “in a circle” like spokes of a wheel, or “in a circle” like covered wagons circling around weary travelers?  I haven’t ever really put much thought into it until now, thinking I may perhaps be doing it wrong as there is no picture on the box to illustrate.

I’m somewhat confused as to the 8 pizza rolls for 45 seconds, as the recommended time for 6 rolls is (I believe) 55 seconds.  Typically, I go for 1:05 so that the middle isn’t still cold.  I’m also aware that all microwaves are different, and may vary, so I accept that my microwave is behind the curve, if you will.  I will have to try 8 rolls at a time, and may even venture into as of yet uncharted 10 or 12 roll at a time territory.  I know this may be a cavalier attitude, but it’s just how I roll.  (Pun intended.)  I will take into consideration that it has been “highly suggested” that I cook more than 8 in a conventional oven.

Along these same lines, I’m fascinated that no more than 8 rolls at a time have been put into the microwave at once in your test kitchens.  Is this really the case, or have trials involving more than 8 rolls at a time manifested disastrous results?  Is there some sort of moratorium on adventurous cooking?  I know that if I had access to a bunch of pizza rolls, and a bunch of microwave ovens… I’d feel it was my duty to push past the ambit of acceptability into the realm of ridiculousness.

I have bounced my ideas off of a few like-minded individuals, and we are prepared to do a public service by testing Totino’s pizza rolls in varying quantities, cooking times, and microwave ovens while making video and statistical documentation of the results.  I have safety goggles, a food thermometer, hot pads, a video camera on loan, and, obviously, a microwave oven.  The only thing that we require now would be copious amounts of pizza rolls.

While I’m guessing that you’re not officially able to get behind such a study, would you be able to provide coupons for the pizza rolls, or perhaps donate them altogether?  Certainly the prospect of someone embarking upon new microwave cooking frontiers would be exciting not only to you, but to the scientists/chefs/technicians in your test kitchens.  We would, of course, be more than happy to share all of our results, which you in turn would be able to use (or ignore) at your discretion.

I would like to thank you for your time and continued correspondence.  I truly appreciate the fact that Pillsbury/General Mills takes the time to respond to its consumers’ web inquiries with real emails from real people.

Respectfully Yours,
-Eric Aixelsyd

I thought that was a pretty straight-forward email with some easily answered questions & an interesting proposal.  Apparently I crossed the ridiculousness line for Ms./Mr./Mrs. Boyd, though.  I don’t know why, but I read the following response with the “not amused” tone.

from Corporate.Response@genmills.com
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
date Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 6:47 PM
subject Your Response From “Pillsbury” – 2010/03/02-5183 XTB
mailed-by genmills.com

Hello Mr. Aixelsyd:

Thank you for contacting Pillsbury with your inquiry.

In regards to your question, we have not tested for more than 8 pizza rolls at a time.

If you wish to try this, it would be at your discretion. Please note that when adding more products into a microwave to cook ( ie 16 pizza rolls instead of 8 ) and trying to adjust the cooking temperature will not harm the safety of the product, but may change the quality, such as hardening of the crust or uneven cooking, etc.

As a one time good will gesture, we will send some cents off certificates in which you should receive within 20 business days.

We hope you find this information helpful. Please let us know if we can help you again.

Thank you,

Tracy Boyd
Customer Care Specialist

Coupons!  Nice.  This will be a long 20 business days.  I can’t believe that they’re actually sending coupons.  I wonder what the amount will be?  I have to do the testing now.  I have officially gone past the point of no return.  I must complete this absurd task… and I must do it right the first time.  I’m assuming that “one time good will gesture” means that they’ve had enough of my shenanigans.

So, they definitely have not tested more than 8 at a time in the microwave.  Why?  I know I would.  You know you would.  Hopefully, with the help of my esteemed colleagues, we will remedy this situation.  The world will know the limits of pizza rolls in the microwave.

Interestingly, my question about pizza roll circle placement went wholly ignored, as did the more personal inquisition as to Tracy’s gender.  Not that the second one matters, but perhaps it iw what pushed the button.  The circle question was quite important, though.  I’m surprised that there’s no drawing on the box/bag.  There are certainly illustrations out there for much more obvious sets of directions.

I can only imagine what went through his/her head as she read the “wagon wheels” line.  Ha ha ha.

So, this leaves us wondering…

  • How did they know that safety would not be an issue but the quality would degrade if they didn’t do any testing past the magic 8?
  • Seriously, now… Does “in a circle” mean like spokes of a wheel, or like circling covered wagons?
  • Is Tracy a man or a woman?

Luckily, Tracy said “Please let us know if we can help you again.”  I believe that we do again need some help.  Is another reply in order here, or do we just save it for inclusion with our test results?

Perhaps I’ll ave to include this too…

arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate

"arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate"

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.


Entirely unrelated, just for fun…