Tag Archives: spices

Non-Italian Wedding Soup Recipe


So, I have always wanted to make wedding soup, but have never tried it.  Until now.  Skip to the end if you just want the recipe and none of my shenanigans.

Wedding Soup à la AiXeLsyD13

Wedding Soup à la AiXeLsyD13

Soup Collage #4

Wedding soup recipes abound on the internet.  Some people are vehement that theirs is the “right” way.  Apparently the inclusion of pasta is a beans-in-chili-like debate.  I would guess that it depends on your region, heritage, and family traditions.  I have none of these ties.  I’m just a yinzer that likes food.  I did reach out via Facebook to see how others do it.  I wanted to try to make the soup because of the tiny pasta, I think.  I may have also made some other “controversial” decisions.

Pasta.  Even though real Italians apparently don’t include pasta in their soup, I am not Italian.  Not remotely, even.  Seriously.  My wife got me the DNA thing for my birthday a few years back and I’m apparently super English, Scottish, Welsh, & Irish with a bit of Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula thrown in.  I had to Google the Iberian Peninsula. So, as a Yinzer I am making a stand with pasta in the wedding soup because that’s how I have seen it.  Orzo looked too much like rice,and rice in soup is gross.  (I know, it is an entirely different consistency.  Just accept the fact that rice in soup is gross, you’re wrong if you disagree, and read on.)  I did most of my shopping at Aldi, but they had no tiny pasta… so I went to Giant Eagle and got Acini De Pepe.  I could have also easily gone with what Barilla calls Pastina (neat tiny stars!) and apparently is not even a thing or it’s a generic thing.

I chose to make the meatballs myself, because I like making meatballs.  They’re big-ass meatballs because I have poor portion control and couldn’t use the mellon-baller to effectively help reel it in, and who wants a little tiny meatball anyway?  I used beef, because cows are tasty.    I typically don’t do the lamb/veal/pork mix in any meatballs or meatloaf, so why start now?  I also opted for ground beef in lieu of chicken or turkey, because beef.  Sheep are for making blankets, not eating… unless you like eating meat that tastes like wool blankets.

Would you just look at the size of that thing?In my meatballs, I use Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing & crushed seasoned croutons.  I also tossed in some extra spices (onion & garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever “Italian Seasoning” is), two eggs, and parmesan/romano “shake cheese.”  (Does anyone else call it that?)  I generally crush the croutons with my hands, but since I was apathetically trying to make smaller meatballs and my 3yo was my helper, I put some in a sandwich baggie and smashed to crap out of them with the shake-cheese bottle.  Why use bread crumbs when you can smash stuff?  I could totally skip the dressing & toss in whatever spices… but I tried this one time with meatballs to go with spaghetti or lasagna and we liked it, so it stuck.  We cooked them in 2 frying pans, because it seemed quick.  I like to bake meatballs sometimes too.  This really could be a 7-day damn project of soup.

meat n' veggiesA lot of wedding soup recipes call for shredded chicken.  I never really noticed it in the wedding soups I had eaten until at a recent wedding where they left the chicken in sizable chunks.  Maybe it was an accident?  I have no idea, but I liked it.  I felt like I was taking a bite of something instead of creepy little chicken strings being used as a garnish.  Also, I decided to cheat and not make stock… or I probably would have roasted then boiled the shit out of a chicken carcass and produced some shredded chicken as well as tasty stock.  I grilled the chicken in the manliest way possible outdoors over an open flame like our cavemen ancestors.  OK, I cooked it on a counter-top panini grill and attempted to give it some nice criss-crossed grill lines before letting it cool and cutting it into “cubes” with less knife skills than Stevie Wonder.  I wanted to know I was eating chicken.  I probably put some season salt on it.

MirepoixI made a mirepoix, I think.  I put some butter in the bottom of the soup pot, and heated up some finely chopped carrots, celery (stalks and some of the leafy top), onion, & a bit of parsley and the lazy-people chopped-up-already in a jar garlic.  Did those last two mess up the mirepoix?  Salt and pepper went in there too, because the Food Network says to season every step or something like that.

Then I added some random boxes of stock & broth from Aldi.  Really.  I couldn’t decide.  So, I got lowfat (that’s all they had) chicken stock, chicken broth, and low sodium chicken broth.  They were all those creepy giant juice-boxish containers that no doubt every chicken aspires to reside in someday.  I almost bought a vegetable stock, but didn’t.  How do you get vegetable stock anyway?  Isn’t that just broth?  Isn’t the difference between stock & broth the inclusion of bones?

After that, I added the meatballs and chicken and let it boil for a bit.  Maybe on like 7 or 8?  I hate when recipes say “medium-high” heat.  Give me a number, damnit.  There are numbers on my oven.  Are they there for no reason?  How long?  I don’t know.  Long enough to chop up the “fresh” spinach.

My helper.I went for the fresh spinach in a plastic box at Aldi.  I didn’t see any with the produce, didn’t catch it in frozen, and bought a can as backup just in case.  They didn’t have any endive or escarole that I noticed.  I wasn’t sure about Kale but may try that next time.  I probably could have added the canned spinach too… it could have used a bit more maybe?  Although, my meatball helper who crushed about 4 or 5 meatballs after we cooked them wasn’t a big fan of the soup itself because “big kids don’t like spinach sometimes.”  She will eat pasta, grilled chicken, carrots, and meatballs all day every day.  But the spinach was a no-go I guess.  I think I added about 4 cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes in there somewhere.

I added the spinach and the box of acini de pepe at the same time.  I let it go for the recommended 9 minutes.  I know I had been advised to not do it that way.  Cooking the pasta separately first then adding the rest of the soup over it in a bowl would be the level-headed thing to do.  I was ready to eat by that point though, so in it went.

It was delicious on the first run if I do say so myself.  Upon having leftovers, the acini de pepe swelled to ridiculous proportions.  Ha ha.  Next time I will cook the pasta first or only use half of a box.  Or, I will do it the same way and have wedding pasta.  Your soup means nothing to me!  My total meat and carb domination can not be culled.

Well, on to the recipe if you even made it this far:

 


Non-Italian Wedding Soup Recipe:

This is not your ordinary recipe.  I don’t measure much.  I just throw stuff into a pot, especially with meatballs and soup.  Obviously, use whatever you have on hand.  Make substitutions.  This is a recipe in the loosest sense of the word.  This is how I did it this time.  I may do it different next time.  There probably are some good details above that I neglected to mention down here.

Thanks, Alfred.

The Meatballs:

  • 3 lb. Ground beef (I think it was 80/20?)
  • Seasoned Croutons (grab your favorite)
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing
  • Seasonings
  • 2 eggs, beaten.
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”

One day when making meatballs, I grabbed the dressing & croutons because they were on the counter.  We were probably having salad with our spaghetti or lasagna.  It’s just breadcrumbs & oil with some seasonings in it.  I usually smash the croutons by hand, but crushed some of these with a plastic sandwich bag & the Parmesan cheese container since I was trying to make smaller(ish) meatballs.   I added some more  spices (see below) with the beaten egg, and mixed the meatballs by hand.  I used a fancy mellon-baller with an ice-cream-scoop like trigger mechanism that my mom had given me for a few of them, to measure… but they got out of hand easily and I had my 3yo helping.  So, they were probably bigger than they needed to be.  How much dressing and croutons?  Eye it.  I do.  I like meatballs that are mostly meat, not bread.

The Soup:

  • A few handsful of Carrots (I started with the baby-cut ones because the kids snack on them.)
  • Maybe ⅓ of a bunch Celery? (I chopped up the stalks & some leaves.)
  • An Onion
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Spinach – I got a box of the “fresh” stuff from Aldi.
  • Grilled & poorly diced Chicken Breasts (I did mine on the panini grill)
  • Home-Made Meatballs (…or use frozen ones from the store.)
  • 3 creepy juice-box-like broth/stock containers. I literally got 3 different kinds of chicken broth.
  • 4-sh cups water
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes
  • Minced garlic in Olive Oil (because I’m lazy & don’t want to mince my own.)
  • Butter (enough to cover the bottom of your soup pot when it melts)
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”
  • Shredded Parmesan (Aldi had a fancy little container.)
  • De Cecco Acini De Pepe

Mmm...I started out with the butter melting on the bottom of the soup pot, then added the carrots, celery, onion, & some parsley.  I sauteed that for a bit, then dumped in the 3 weird juice boxes of chicken broth/stock over top of that and brought it to a boil.  I reduced the heat a bit, and added the chicken and meatballs.  I let it get back to a boil and added some of the shredded Parmesan & Parmesan/Romano shake cheese to the broth.  I let that simmer for a bit and eventually added -ish more cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes.  (Maybe beef bullion would have been cool here?)  Once that boiled again, I added the pasta & spinach & boiled for another 9 minutes.  It was tasty.  I burned my tongue.  Let it cool.  Be patient.

Spices…

  • Season All
  • Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Crushed Black Pepper
  • Sea salt
  • White Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Parsley Flakes

When I refer to seasonings or spices, it could have been any combination of these.  I just grab & shake whenever.


Please, let me know if you tried your own inspired by this one.  Let me know if you do your own a totally different way.  Let me know what I did right, or let me know what I did “wrong.”  Thanks for reading!

Boiling Soup

Check out some of my past recipes:

 

Bronco Scores Again!


Well, I didn’t get Jalapeño Bites back at Arby’s yet, but I did answer a tweet from Radio Shack… and it got me a free T-shirt and some moral support for the cause!  Messing around on Twitter & insanity are well rewarded these days, I guess.

I DM’ed them and told them of me real name and my cause.  I think more companies are engaging people personally & directly with Twitter like this, and it’s a great thing.  Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Today the mailman delivered some goodies…

Bronco Jalapeño wins a Radio Shack T-shirt!

Free stuff!

The card s pretty cool too!

Eric, While this shirt can't replace Arby's jalapeño poppers, we hope it comforts you through your withdrawal. Thanks for tweeting at us and for being a fan. Tweet us a pic of your new duds when your shirt gets there. Thanks again! - Billy

@Bronco_Jalapeno #ThanksRadioShack...? Yes, yes he does.

Hilarious.  How fun is that?  I do need some soldering stuff, I guess it’s off to Radio Shack for the stuff next time I need it!  (I might get a couple of capacitors to mess around with.)

So, thanks to Radio Shack for being cool, for the laugh, & for the T-shirt!

Bronco Jalapeño Rides Again!


So my friends, Arby’s is true to their word.  They said they’d send me some Bronco Berry Sauce, and they sure did.  (By the way, Bronco Jalapeño is my thinly veiled alter ego in case you haven’t been following along.)

I walked into the house today and saw this rather large box on the couch where I normally sit.  My wife had arrived home a little while earlier, and brought it inside.  FedEx dropped it off on the front porch earlier in the day.

I saw my name, then the Arby’s logo, and I could hardly contain my excitement.

A case of Arby's Bronco Berry Sauce

...For me?

I mean, I thrive on the ridiculous, and this is most certainly ridiculous.  This couldn’t be a box full of Bronco Berry Sauce, could it?  Indeed, it could.  Absolutely ridiculous.  Personal supply?  I mean, I like to eat but…

240 Packs of Bronco Berry Sauce!

Yee-haw!

That is a whole lot of horses and berries!  Well, it would be… if Bronco Berry Sauce actually contained any broncos or berries.  The label on the box says that it’s 240 1.5 oz. containers of this decadently delightful dip.  It also contained this lovely letter…

Dear Mr. Carroll,   Your voice has been heard!  Believe me; no one takes sauces more seriously than Arby's. And, we know how a craving for our succulent Bronco Berry Sauce can send a person over the edge when they can't get their fix.   So, never fear. Arby's Bronco Berry Calvary has personally secured a box of the top-secret sauce just for you. Think of it as your own personal stash to satisfy that craving whenever and wherever it hits you.   Now, we know that your demands also included bringing back Jalapeno Bites to the Pittsburgh area. And, as you uncovered, restaurants in each market determine whether to serve the fiery goodness of Jalapeno Bites or the equally as delicious Loaded Potato Bites. While we cannot reverse the "Bites" decision at this time, we have shared your passion for the pungent peppers with the Marketing Team.   We hope that our small gesture has eased your pain and that you will reconsider your sauce sit-in.    Sincerely,  Hala Moddelmog President

Hala Moddelmog

Hala Moddelmog, President of Arby's

A letter from the President of Arby’s?  Hala Moddelmog rules.  I mean, I don’t see the presidents of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Pizza Hut responding to a crazy person on the internet with such individually directed kindness & generosity.

I’m obviously going to need help finishing this case.  It expires in June, so I highly doubt we can get through it all.  Want some Bronco Berry Sauce?  I’m willing to share what is now a rarity in our region.

I’m saddened by the news that Jalapeño Bites won’t be returning to Arby’s in Pittsburgh any time soon, but I do believe that my emails have actually been passed along.  I will pass on the Occupy Arby’s sauce sit-in.  But I still may write a song, even if no one helps me.

Perhaps the song will be the thing that puts our market managers and the marketing team over the edge.  I’ll have to write to my new friend Ms. Moddlemog, and see exactly where to direct my comments.

I almost want to build something out of them.  It looks like 1 or 2 popped (or was squeezed) open, but it’s an acceptable loss.  I mean, it was free.  We had some Bronco Berry Sauce tonight with a few Tyson chicken tenders for dinner in lieu of boring old bottle barbecue sauce.

Bronco Jalapeño’s appetite may be satisfied for now, but my quest is not over.  Arby’s in Pittsburgh, are you listening?  Bring back the Jalapeño bites!  This potato bite shenanigans is just that, shenanigans.

To follow the story from the start, check out these posts:

  1. Arby’s :: Bronco Berry Sauce®
  2. OCCUPY ARBY’S
  3. You may call me… “Bronco Jalapeño”
  4. Conflicting Information from Arby’s… (Help Bronco Jalapeño write a song!)

Conflicting Information from Arby’s… (Help Bronco Jalapeño write a song!)


So, on one hand… Arby’s is trying to placate the great Bronco Jalapeño with the promise of personal gain.  I think.  They don’t flat-out say that, but that’s what I read from it.  What do you think?

Arby's

Arby's

So they intend to silence the great Jalapeño with a free sample or some coupons?  Perhaps with just their word?  I have not received a reply to the tweet yet… and I’m not sure how they would send a supply of Bronco Berry Sauce as I don’t think Bronco Jalapeño has an address… unless they know that I am Bronco Jalapeño… (which isn’t too hard to figure out) but then again I don’t remember if I provided my address in their contact form, and they haven’t reached out to ask me for it.

On the other hand, I received this email…

From: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:20 AM
Subject: Customer Feedback #474233

Dear Mr. Carroll,

Thank you for your comments regarding our Bronco Berry Sauce.  Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. We use this information to guide the decisions we make about our brand and our products. We have shared your comments with our Menu and Product Development team for future consideration. Also, Bronco Berry sauce is not available for retail sale.

 If you have any additional questions you can give us a call at 800-599-2729.

 Thank you again.

 Sincerely,
Arby’s Customer Relations

Allow me to translate a few key lines…

Arby's

No hat is too big for Bronco Jalapeño!

“We have shared your comments with our Menu and Product Development team for future consideration.” means a couple of things:

“We’ve shared your comments” means that it’s off of their collective customer service desk, so they consider the issue resolved, and can blame any further lack of progress or answers solely on the “Menu and Product Development team.”

“For future consideration” means I won’t get a reply from them either, and this will most likely go ignored, completely negating the statements “Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. We use this information to guide the decisions we make about our brand and our products.”

Perhaps I’m too cynical.

Also, Bronco Berry sauce is not available for retail sale” means “too bad for you!”

Oddly (or perhaps not), the # 474233 indicates a second query when I still have no answer to the first… # 473197.

I’m not sure if Arby’s communicates well internally…

So I’m not sure what’s up there.

While we wait for clarification, will you help Bronco Jalapeño write a song?

It can be a protest song, maybe an old west ballad folk-type thing.

You may call me… “Bronco Jalapeño”


So, Arby’s never did respond.  It’s been over a week.

From: Eric <me@my.email.address>
To: “customerservice@arbys.com”
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: Re: Arby’s Feedback #473197

Hello friends,

It’s been a week, and I haven’t heard back from my feedback submission…  #473197.

Any hope of some answers?

Thanks,
-Eric
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

I did get this engaging missive after I inquired about a response using my trusty tracking number…

From: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: Arby’s Feedback #473197 Follow-Up

Dear Arby’s Guest,

This e-mail is related to your feedback tracking number 473197.

In order to better serve our customers, we would like to know if you have been contacted by a representative of Arby’s in our efforts to resolve your issue or answer your question.

We appreciate your comments and will use them to improve the overall experience of our customers at our restaurant.

Sincerely,
Arby’s Guest Feedback Team

So I wrote back (again)

From: Eric <me@my.email.address>
To: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: Re: Arby’s Feedback #473197 Follow-Up

Hello,

I have not been contacted.  That’s why I wrote again.  Should I include a copy of my 1st email?

Thanks,
-Eric
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

Is it just me, or was the purpose of my original email to state that I had not yet received a reply?  Yet, that asked me if I had received a reply?  Are you even reading these emails, Arby’s?

And that (of course) has gone unanswered again.

I even tried Wendy’s because they once owned part of Arby’s

From: “Domyan, Amanda”
To: “me@my.email.address” <me@my.email.address>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: arbys

Eric,

 I’m sorry they have not responded to you, but Wendy’s and Arby’s are actually not joined together any longer.  We separated about 3 years ago.

 Amanda Domyan

Consumer Relations
One Dave Thomas Blvd.
Dublin, OH 43017
614.764.6800 (Office)
Amanda.domyan@wendys.com

Obviously no help there.

This is what happens when I think out loud, or in type…

Heh. Yeah. @Bronco_Jalapeno was born.

This is America, where the crazy vocal fringe minority gets their way.  Let’s get this done, OK?

Arby's Sign

If the sign says it's delicious, it must be delicious... Right?

OCCUPY ARBY’S


Comparing my minor inconveniences to a “massive” political movement?  Yes.  I just did that.  I generally make light of many things.  You’re about to read one of those things.

Arby's :: Jalapeno Bites® with Bronco Berry Sauce®

"*Limited availability at participating locations" roughly translates to "NONE FOR YOU!"

Arby’s has stopped serving Jalapeño Bites (& more importantly the Bronco Berry Sauce) in some areas.  I became informed of this travesty via Twitter

These tweeters’ tweets are locked, so I can’t do a fancy repost, but…

@BlondeYinzer
@AiXeLsyD13 @arbys ring away those b*stards took jalapeño poppers off the menu #thehorror

@BlondeYinzer
@AiXeLsyD13 @arbys I don’t know if it’s a local pgh thing but the one by my house said last week they are gone!!! :o( I’m traumatized!!!

@AllergyBird
@AiXeLsyD13 you write the best letters… @BlondeYinzer @arbys

No reply to that last one, of course.

There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to the plight: Facebook | Bring Back Arby’s Jalapeno Bites

There’s a slightly less eloquent Facebook page that also might be upset: Facebook | Bronco Berry Sauce

This is ridiculous.  I can be more ridiculous.  So, I decided to submit an email via Arby’s webform:

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

No more Jalapeño Poppers & (perhaps more importantly) BRONCO BERRY SAUCE®?

Please tell me that this is temporary insanity & that they will be back soon.  Please?

I understand that the stores were given a choice between carrying some loaded potato bite shenanigans and the Jalapeño poppers, and local stores in my area (Pittsburgh, PA) opted for the not-so-awesome menu selection.

I understand that we (the consumers) are directed to voice our opinions to the local Arby’s locations.

My questions to you are as follows…

☘ WHY?  Why did they have to choose?  Why not carry both?

☘ WHY (again)?  Why would one choose some potato things over the awesomeness that is BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® (& Jalapeño Poppers)?

☘ HOW?  How do I contact the local Arby’s via email?  Do they each have email addresses?  Is there a regional manager?

☘ WELL?  If I can’t get the BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® locally, can I order some online?  Will you start bottling & selling it in grocery stores now that it’s no longer readily available to the masses?

It most certainly does not put me in a good mood to not have my BRONCO BERRY SAUCE®.  I’m pretty sure I could straight-up just drink the stuff were it a little thinner.  Rude Mood Food is more like it now, my friends.

I may have to organize an OCCUPY ARBY’S at a nearby location.  It may get crazy.  There may be news cameras.  It will be a peaceful protest, so please don’t pepper spray any of us.  You may, however, shower us with packets of BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® and hot fresh Jalapeño Poppers.  We’ll have to chant things like “Don’t be a dingleberry, bring back the Bronco Berry!”, “No Jalapeños dude, that’s Rude Mood Food!”, or “Potato Bites, really bite!” (Well, that one may need work.)

Please, talk some sense into the Arby’s locations in the Pittsburgh area before it comes down to this insanity.

Bronco Berry Backer,
-Eric

This is all I have received so far:

From: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Subject: Arby’s Feedback #473197

Dear Arby’s Guest,

We have received your Guest Feedback message and are directing it to the appropriate department. For follow-up purposes, your feedback tracking number is 473197.

Your feedback helps us improve the overall guest experience at our restaurants. Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Sincerely,
Arby’s Guest Feedback Team

Ridiculous. It’s still not the most ridiculous thing that’s happened in an Arby’s parking lot around here.  I mean, remember this dude?

Arby's Sign

If they have to tell you that it's delicious, maybe it's not really delicious.

Not that I’m the biggest Arby’s fan in the first place.  I’m more of a fan of actual Roast Beef, not this lunch-meat stuff like Arby’s or the all-gone-except-the-ones-on-the-Turnpike Roy Rogers has.  (Remember Rax?  They had that too.)  Ever been to Lion’s Choice?  I believe they’re centered around St. Louis.  That, my friends, is how roast beef is done.

You might say “just get your jalapeño bites (or poppers) somewhere else, you weirdo”.  To that, I say…

Are we clear?

Are you also angry about this?  Voice your opinions below… perhaps we can get Arby’s to look here & reconsider this grievous error.  If not, maybe we’ll to the Occupy Arby’s thing.  I bet we could get on the news.

Beyond that, the next step may be petitioning McDonald’s, Wendy’s, & Chick-fil-A to carry them…

Do you have any suggestions for protest slogans?  Would you join an Occupy Arby’s movement?  What should be our next course of action?

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

So, Pepto-Chili may not be a good idea…


pepto

Pepto!

Made some chili the other day.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same twice, but I dig that.  This time, I puréed some fresh & roasted peppers, and added hominy.  Next time, I’ll try less tomato stuff.  Maybe less spices.

This batch caused some absolutely ridiculous gastrointestinal distress.  I had to employ both Vernor’s & Pepto.  Serving leftovers over some creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes helped a little, but not much.

Chili à la AiXeLsyD over mashed potatoes... topped with shredded triple cheddar.

Chili à la AiXeLsyD over mashed potatoes... topped with shredded triple cheddar.

Anyone ever use anything in your chili to cut down on heartburn or any other side-effects?  I rinsed the beans (black & kidney here).  My grandma said baking soda may help, but I think that’s for gas from the other end.

Classic Vernor's logo with "Woody", ...

Vernor's Ginger Soda

I think the peppers or spices are what got me here… maybe the garlic.  I burped so much after drinking a little Vernor’s that I actually amazed myself.  Where did all that air come from?  Surely some spectacular chemical reactions where going on inside my stomach.  SCIENCE!

Can;t wait for that coal-black Pepto poop.

Think Vernor’s would be a good ingredient in the chili?  What about Pepto?  How about some Tums?

Arby’s :: Bronco Berry Sauce®


Ever get the Jalapeño Bites at Arby’s?  They’re awesome… but the most awesome thing about them is that they come with a genius little cup of Bronco Berry Sauce®.

Arby's :: Bronco Berry Sauce®
Arby’s :: Bronco Berry Sauce®

Despite the name, it contains no horses or even any berries.  It’s a simple list of ingredients that are probably more sweeteners and preservatives than actual food with nutritional value.  It’s something that Clark Griswold would be proud of.  In fact, here’s the list as states by the Arby’s nutrition page

Bronco Berry Sauce®
Ingredients:
Sugar, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Red Bell Peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Modified Corn Starch, Jalapeno Peppers, Onion (dehydrated), Xanthan Gum, Spices, Salt, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (preservatives), Citric Acid, Red 40, Blue 1.

Crazy.  It’s odd that they don’t have to declare the spices… but there’s whole other issue.  I wrote to Arby’s via webform, suggesting that they ought to bottle and sell the stuff…

Buenos Dias Buckaroos!

I write to you today with high praise for your Bronco Berry Sauce.  Holy Cow, is it good!  I mean, the Jalapeño Bites are excellent in and of themselves, but the delicious dip takes it to an infinitely higher level of superbity.  Is superbity even a word?  I don't know, my friends.  But if it's not, it should be... and it should be the word to describe Bronco Berry Sauce.

I would like to know if you ever have plans to bottle the stuff and make it available for sale inside your restaurants, like Bob Evans does with their Wildfire BBQ Sauce?  I think it would be a stroke of genius.  I'd also purchase your Arby's Sauce, Horsey Sauce and the Honey Mustard if it were available.  But the Bronco Berry Sauce is the object of my culinary desire.

I have seen the "copy-cat recopies" online, but I balk at their attempts to copy perfection.  Why settle for an imitation when you can have the real thing?

If there are no plans to bottle & sell the Bronco Berry Sauce, can I somehow buy a case of the little dipping cups?  Typing that out, it sounds ridiculous, but I'm serious.

Thanks you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you!

Yee-Haw!
-Eric
world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Well, apparently they have no plans of doing any such thing.  They also apparently get this question a lot… as I got virtually the same answer twice:

from customerservice@arbys.com
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
date Tue, Aug 10, 2010
subject Customer Feedback #387566
mailed-by arbys.com

Dear  Eric,

Thank you for your comments.  Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. I have forwarded your request to the Menu and  Product Development teams. However, the Bronco Berry Sauce is not available for retail sale.

We use this information to guide the decisions we make about our brand and our products.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Arby’s Customer Relations

from customerservice@arbys.com
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
date Thu, Aug 12, 2010
subject Customer Feedback #388610
mailed-by arbys.com

Dear Eric:

Thank you for your comments.  Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. Arby’s sauces are currently not available for retail sale, however, we have shared your comments with our Menu and Product Development teams.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Arby’s Customer Relations

Odd.  I’d like to get directly in contact with the product development team… I mean, why wouldn’t it work?

I know there are a plethora of copycat recipes online.  They’re easy to find and probably easy to make… but they’re not the same.  So… I can do without the Red 40 and Blue 1… but where can I pickup Xantham Gum, and what are the magic “spices”?

I may just have to try some of these out:

Or, Arby’s could just get with it and bottle their sauces.  Since Wendy’s & Arby’s are now owned by the same company, their Sweet & Sour Nugget Sauce would be good too!

Do you have any sauces that you think ought to be bottled & sold?

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.