Erics Blog

Just an average guys thoughts

Gluten Free Lasagna

At the request of a close friend, I am publishing my recipe for gluten-free lasagna. This is a very simple recipe and uses ingredients that are readily available. As always, check the labels of any products to make sure they are gluten-free. If you are not sure, call the manufacturer.

I will start out with the fact that this recipe is supposed to be easy. You can make the sauce from scratch and there are thousands of recipes for that available, but that is not the intent of this recipe. Speaking of the sauce, the sauce is the heart of this dish. Without the sauce, it is just mac and cheese! Although a very tasty mac and cheese, it isn’t what we are looking for.

The first ingredient is the sauce. I prefer Prego as it is gluten-free and also, in my opinion, the best “base” sauce. By base sauce, I mean that it is good to start with but almost everything can be improved upon!

As you can see, the sauce is in the pan over low heat, jut to get it warm. This is where you add spices. Oregano, Basil, Salt, Pepper, and Garlic are added. Below is the chopped garlic. Only use half of the chopped garlic for the sauce.  After a few bubbles develop, turn the heat down to simmer.

Now comes the meat. I used roughly 1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck and 3/4 of a pound of ground sirloin.

Brown the meat over medium heat. You are not trying to blacken the meat, just brown it.

After five minutes or so, drain the grease off and continue browning the meat. At this time, add the other half of the chopped garlic, salt and pepper to the meat. Cook for three to four minutes and then, drain the meat and add to the sauce.

You will notice in the picture above, that the sauce has been transferred to a larger pot. I forgot that this recipe is for two trays of lasagna and since I am only making one, we are going to have sauce left over for either spaghetti or baked ziti later during the week.

This next part is optional. Sausage. I take two mild Italian sausages, cut them out of their case and brown them. Then, using my trusty chopper, I chop  them up into fine cubes. Then they are added to the sauce.

I allow the sauce to cook for at least two hours on very low heat, tasting periodically and adding spices to taste.

Now, that the sauce is ready, time for assembly.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

 Start the assembly.

Using a glass dish, add a layer of sauce, then one row of noodles. These gluten-free noodles do not have to be boiled and this saves a lot of time as well as noodles!

The next layer is mozzarella cheese. You can use whole milk, part skim, sliced, as pictured above, or shredded. It is a matter of taste and personal preference. Below, I used sliced whole milk mozzarella cheese.

I then add a layer of sauce before adding the next layer of noodles. I have found that in several instances where I have ordered lasagna out, it was dry. This prevents that from occurring.

Time for the next layer of noodles. You will notice that the noodles are opposite from the first layer. This “interlocks” the entire dish and after it is served, keeps everything from falling apart.

The next layer is the Ricotta cheese mixture. I mix in a large bowl, one container of whole milk ricotta cheese, one egg,and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Then I “trowel” it out on top of the noodles.

Then, a little more sauce.

Now, the final layer of noodles, sauce, mozzarella cheese and a liberal sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Then, it is into the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Take the lasagna out and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Some quick tips.

Use one jar of sauce for one tray of lasagna, or do what I did if you want extra sauce for later, use two jars.

Make sure you place the lasagna on the middle rack of your oven. Recently, I made this for a friends baby shower. Unfortunately, as we had Thanksgiving turkey the week before, I forgot to raise the rack to its normal position. After an hour of cooking I smelled that horrid smell of something burning. When I took the two lower trays of lasagna out, the bottoms were burnt. I was very sad but as usual, I can fix almost anything! I waited until the lasagna had cooled in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning. I loosened up all the sides, using my barbecue spatula, broke everything loose from the bottom of the dish, and then, placed a cookie sheet on top of the dish and flipped everything over. The dish came right off and then, I scraped all of the burnt sauce and meat particles away. Then, I cleaned the dish, added some leftover sauce to the bottom of the dish and put everything back together.

As the lasagna had to be reheated anyway, everything should be fine. It was and no one knew what had happened. In fact, this post is a direct request from my friend because the lasagna was so good!

I hope everyone enjoys this as it is one of my favorite dishes. If there are any comments or suggestions, please feel free to add them and enjoy!

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Food, Gluten-Free Foods and Diet | , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten-Free Bloomin Onion!

As we did not make it to the Outback last night, I decided to make a bloomin onion for lunch today.

The ingredients and procedure can be found here. Outback Steakhouse Bloomin Onion – Recipelink.

The fist step is to make the sauce. As I was missing a few ingredients, I substituted wasabi paste for the horseradish, and chili powder for the Cayenne pepper. It came out tasting exactly the same. For the dry ingredients, I used gluten-free flour and eliminated the cumin, as some Celiacs have an issue with cumin, I am one of those.

Now to slice the onion. The wife, a few years back got me this nifty onion slicer, which supposedly, makes things easier. Go to the footnotes to see if it really helped!

Now, that the onion is breaded, time to fry! You will notice that the onion in the next picture doesn’t look like the one above. There is a reason for that, which can be found at the bottom of this post.

The directions say to fry for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Using the gluten-free flour, a little less time and temperature are necessary. I cooked this one for 9 minutes at 325 degrees.I can assure, that the onion isn’t burnt. It came out toasty brown.And after exactly 4 minutes and 20 seconds….The onion was delicious and crisp. It tastes virtually identical  to the one at the Outback.

Footnotes:

Now…some cooks would leave the above post as is and say that first time out, everything came out perfect. In this instance, that won’t be the case!

As I have never done this before, I wisely purchased three onions. The picture of the plated onion would be number three. What happened to numbers 1 & 2, you may ask? Let’s just say, you have to break some eggs before you can make a omlet, so I will now tell you what happened.

Onion number 1:

As I purchased this new 10 inch frying pan and basket, I was dying to use it. This would be where onion number one met its demise. Apparently, the thin aluminum pans are not the best at heat control. I placed the onion in the oil and went to wash off the plate. Upon my return, the oil reached a temperature of over 500 degrees basically, incinerating onion number one. Burnt on the outside, raw on the inside. In the trash it went! 😦

Onion Number 2:

Onion number 2 was doomed from the start. The handy-dandy onion slicer cut the onion right through the base, which left most of the onion in pieces. After shutting off the oil, I placed the onion, or what was left of it, in the oil and it promptly fell apart. This also allowed all of the breading to fall off and subsequently burn. Now, the gallon of oil I used was ruined! Luckily, I bought a spare gallon! 🙂

Onion number 3:

With onion number three, I nearly made the same mistake with the slicer that I did with onion number 2. So, I cut the onion half way with the slicer, then used my trusty knife to cut the remaining portion of the onion. As the oil was ruined during onion number twos demise, I brought out our 20+ year tried and true, steel pot and french fry basket, along with fresh oil!

Using the steel pot on the stove instead of the gas burner outside, stabilized the temperature and the onion came out nearly perfect.

I will fry up some chicken wings next week and hopefully get the hang of using the aluminum fry pot and then attempt this again.

All and all, a reasonable success. As it didn’t last very long, I can only assume it was good, as the wife promptly went to take a nap!

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Food, Gluten-Free Foods and Diet | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review of the Ducane 4400

As promised, here is my review of my new grill.

I purchased this grill from Grillsdirect (Hayneedle) and after all was said and done, the price paid was $495.00 including shipping.

Arrival:
The grill arrived at 3:00 pm Friday. As others have noted, it came on a pallet. The bottom of one side of the box was damaged and I feared the worst. After going through the shipping issues, I would really have been upset if the grill arrived damaged. I ripped the box apart before the delivery person could leave to make sure there was no damage. Fortunately, there was none!

Assembly:
It took roughly one hour to assemble the grill. The instructions are nothing more than a bunch of pictures. A few pointers for those who purchase either the 3400 or the 4400.
There are 16 black bolts in one bag and 4 black bolts in another bag. All of the bolts in the 16 bolt bag are for the base/wheel installation. The 4 longer bolts are for the top of the grill.
Speaking of which, do not tighten any of the bolts for the frame until the doors are in. Also, when securing the top to the frame, place one bolt in and put the nut on just a couple of turns. Then put the other side bolt/nut in. After they are both in, then tighten them so the top is centered in the frame.
Another assembly tip, unscrew the bezel that holds the ignitor in place. Then, remove the ignitor and install the wires. Then, reinstall the ignitor. It is much easier to take it out and put it back than to try and attach those wires in a small space.

Firing up:
As I was putting the side trays on, I heard a loud bang from my garage. It appears as though the main spring for my garage door broke. I had to cut the broken piece off, re-thread the remainder of the old spring on to the new cone, and readjust the spring. This took about a half hour. Just enough time to burn in the new grill!
The grill fired right up (burners) and got to over 600 degrees in about 10 minutes. Heat doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Cooking the first meal:
The first meal was a few strip steaks. The grill cooked evenly and seared the outside and as you can see from the pictures, was cooked to perfection. My son seemed to enjoy it as it was the first thing he ate on his plate!


Second meal:
Rotisserie chicken. I put the chicken on the rotisserie, seasoned it, and let it spin for an hour and a half. The skin did not get a crispy as it did with the other grill, so, I decided to crisp it up a little by turning on the two bottom burners for 5 minutes. Do not repeat this mistake! There is no picture as the skin was burnt in a short period of time. Fortunately, the interior meat was still tender and juicy. I got lucky…again!
Third meal:
Hamburgers. I go to the meat market and get a bunch of ground chuck, add my seasonings and then place the meat in zip lock sandwich bags. One burger per bag, then freeze them. I usually have 10-15 burgers in the freezer at any given time. You never know who may show up!
I placed the frozen burgers on the grill and they cooked evenly on one side, flipped them over, cooked on the other side, flipped over again to get the “diamond pattern” on the burger, flipped over again.
Toasted the bun, and on they went. They were cooked perfectly, for me anyway, medium rare, just a pink line in the center of the burger, and were delicious.
Side burner:
Last night I made spaghetti with meatballs. As we got home a little late, and I took out too much meat for the normal number of meatballs, I had to cook two batches of meatballs. To boil the water for the pasta, I decided to use the side burner on the grill. It took about as long as it does on the stove to get the water to a boil, but, the grate on the burner is sturdy enough that when the 10 inch pot was put on it, it didn’t move around.

Cleaning:
After using the grill it was time for its first cleaning. Everything on the exterior cleaned up easily. The grates cleaned up fairly well. I may have to do a little more brushing.

Summary:
For grilling, this grill we do everything I want it to do. It is well designed (mostly, see below), easy to maintain, and after some modifications are made, will probably be the last grill for quite some time.

Issues:
The placement of the rotisserie burner ignitor.
Where the line comes out on the burner, it gets red hot when the burner is on and actually bends upward. I can see this failing in short order. As it is, the spark is very poor and I suspect that this is a wire issue as I switched the wire to several positions on the back of the ignitor. I’ll be calling Weber Monday regarding this issue.
The tube that feeds the rotisserie burner is exposed and all of the drippings land directly on it. This cannot be good in the long term. I plan on correcting this issue.

The side trays are an extra set of burners!
The side trays, as others have noted, get very hot. Too hot to touch! I have read about the heat sink modification, but, I am going to call Weber and see if they have a ready made solution for this.

Heat loss out the back.
Others have pointed this out and I plan on calling Weber to determine why they didn’t just extend the back metal piece up two inches to keep the heat in.

Planned modifications:
Depending on what Weber says, I will block off the rear panel to keep the heat in.
I will add some protection for the rotisserie burner tube.
I will add, again, depending on what Weber has to say, the heat sink modification for the side burners.
I like the way the lower portion of the grill, the drip area, is constructed and angled to the opening for the drip pan. I think that adding an inner liner of say one of those aluminum baking pans, to the bottom should keep that area from getting dirty.

As the paint has already splintered on the flavorizer bars, when I get a new set, I may convert this to a rack with lava rocks.

Favorite feature, a toss up between the drip pan and the “backstop” at the rear of the grill.

This grill is actually a little bit smaller than the Charmglow 4 burner. But, the cover still fits!

My one year review, which is overdue, will be coming out around the same time as the “Q” review.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Food, The Ducane 4400 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Porterhouse Steak on the Q

Tonight, for dinner, it was a porterhouse steak. Publix finally got someone who doesn’t cut these things 1/2 inch thick, so I grabbed this one.

Medium rare:

After a five minute rest:

Marshall eating the best part:

And, Sophia gets some “scraps”!

Another perfectly cooked piece of meat on the Q! Tomorrow, I am going to see how it works as a tanning bed, as everything else that gets cooked on this grill comes out perfect! 🙂

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Beef, Food, The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken breasts on the Q

Today, the Q got a workout. Breakfast, lunch, and now dinner. Tonight’s dinner is barbecue  chicken breasts. First the breasts, with a little bit of McKoricks steak seasoning on them. I know, steak seasoning? The chicken breasts don’t know the difference..I asked! 🙂

After heating up the grill, I turned the burner control down to low, which produced a temperature of about 325 degrees in the grill.

After flipping the breasts every 10 minutes, it was time to check the internal temperature. Luckily, my assistant had the required thermometer!

The internal temperature was 155 degrees so it was time to add the sauce. I prefer Bullseye as it is a sweet sauce and also gluten-free. Again, my assistant was very helpful!

All of the cooking was expertly supervised by the ever-present Samantha, seen here, dipping her toes in the pool.

Almost done:

And, plated up almost ready to eat:

The dinner was served with creamer potatoes with garlic, butter, and parsley.

Everything was quite good! The “Q” does it again!

Off to bed for a good nights sleep, then pancakes on the “Q” followed by the “Tour de Bar”!

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Chicken, The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cheeseburger in Paradise..or at least the back patio!

For lunch today, it is just a simple cheeseburger. Of course, there is more to it than just slapping a pattie on the grill, but, that will be detailed elsewhere on the blog. (;

The first thing you need is some burger meat. I prefer ground chuck. I get four or five pounds of it and mix in some ingredients, make the patties, place them in zip lock bags, and freeze them. After that, you can just plop them on the grill!

Since I made bacon and eggs on the Q this morning, instead of replacing the griddle with the regular grate, I decided to just cook this burger on the griddle. I mean, why waste that bacon fat? 🙂

I heated up the grill and placed the burger on it once the temperature reached 500 degrees.

Now, what kind of “hamburger” would it be, without the ham? 🙂

Time to add the cheese:

And, finally, plated up! Excuse the paper plate!

As with everything else cooked on the Q so far,…Perfect!

I hope everybody else enjoyed their lunch!

 

February 5, 2011 Posted by | The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sausage on the Weber Q

As I had a hankering for some sausage, I took some out of the freezer after this mornings run. A couple, actually three, of the hot and a couple of mild. Heated up the Q and put the sausages on. I turned the burner down to low and let them cook for about 20 minutes, turning them every five minutes. I cooked them with the lid in the down position

As with everything else that has been prepared on this grill, these also came out perfect. 🙂

 

February 3, 2011 Posted by | The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ribs on the Weber Q

As breakfast was such a raging success, I decided to further test the capabilities of the Weber Q by cooking ribs on it. Ribs, can be cooked in numerous ways and using different methods as far as marinating, seasoning, as well as cooking styles. I decided to use the tried and true method that will work for about anyone.

The first thing I did is to cut the ribs into three sections, then, place them in a pot of water. You may add any spices you wish at this point. For this particular recipe, I added no spices, barbecue sauce, or anything else. Next, turn the heat on high and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to medium or medium low. Contrary to popular belief, boiling ribs does not remove “all” of the flavor of the meat. Let the ribs simmer for a half an hour and then, shut the heat off. Let them soak for another half an hour.

Meanwhile, I had a few small pieces of wood soaking in water. There is much debate regarding soaking your wood. I prefer it. Next, I wrap the wood in foil and placed it on the left side of the burner element.

This was done to add some wood flavor to the meat as well as to add some coating to the grill itself. Over time, there will be a build up and that is when things cooked on the grill will begin to really become flavorful! I turned the burner on and waited for the “plume” of smoke to appear.

Now the grill is ready for the ribs. After soaking, the ribs are easier to cut, so, I cut them at the knuckles, which leaves you with the odd pieces and, the pieces you end up eating at restaurants. I placed the ribs on the grill and closed the lid. This should allow the smoke from the wood to penetrate the meat as well as the other flavors from the barbecue.

Should, was the operative word. It appears that in order to allow the end tables to fold into the Q, there is about a 3/4 inch gap on either side, which was allowing the smoke to escape. I had to add some aluminum foil to block the space on the left side so that the smoke would exit the right side. I may have to construct some sort of device to prevent heat loss in the future.

After an hour on low and checking the ribs frequently, it was time to add the sauce.

And finally, ready to eat! You will notice that the “odd” pieces are not present in the final presentation. They were used for taste testing!

The ribs were quite tasty. They didn’t get as much wood flavor as I had hoped, but that usually requires actual smoking and I didn’t want this to be an all day project!

All things considered, the ribs were very tender, had plenty of “natural” flavor as well as some enhanced flavors from the wood and sauce. Not quite perfect, but for the first time on a “portable” grill, not bad. I know I could never have done this on the MasterForge grill as everything would have been burnt in a 1/2 an hour.

This grill, like most Webers and Ducanes, does not have the flare ups and uneven cooking properties found in cheaper, lesser known grills. So far, the Q has performed better than expected!

One interesting thing, once the wood got hot enough to burn, it had to be moved to the center of the bowl. After it burned up, it fell directly into the catch tray! I couldn’t have planned that any better!

January 31, 2011 Posted by | The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Breakfast on the Weber Q!

As there was a thread regarding cooking breakfast on a barbecue grill on the BBQSource website, I decided to try this on the Weber Q. This is in part, to add to my upcoming review of the “Q”, which will be posted elsewhere on the blog in the coming weeks.

The first thing I did was to remove the regular grill and place the griddle, which was the only thing worth keeping from the old Charmglow grill, in the grill cavity. As you can see, it fit like a glove! I sprayed some Pam on the griddle just to make sure it was clean and still wouldn’t stick.

Now, to add the bacon. I cut the bacon in half and then freeze it. I eat bacon usually twice a week, and no matter where I put it in the refrigerator, it still goes bad if I store the whole package.

A quick check of the temperature, and we are off! The setting of the burner was “high”.

I closed the lid to add a little bit of flavor to the grill lid…which may come in handy for the ribs I’ll be cooking later on today! 🙂

And now, time to add the eggs!

Everything came out perfect…if I do say so myself!!

Marshalls plate:

And by all accounts, he seemed to enjoy everything!

Breakfast was a complete success. This grill is quite versatile and, it was a different way to cook breakfast. And, has the advantage of not having to clean a couple of pans!

January 30, 2011 Posted by | The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World Famous Pulled Pork

It is time to unleash my world-famous pulled pork recipe! Detailed below, are all of the steps used when I prepare pulled pork. It is non-traditional as a crock-pot is used instead of full smoking. It would be my opinion, that just smoking the pork until it is ready to fall apart, imparts to much smoke flavor for my particular tastes.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 Boston Butts available at your local meat market, roughly $20.00.
  2. McCormick Pork rub
  3. One beer of your choice. Try to stay away from dark beer as it may be too strong.
  4. Worcestershire  sauce (to taste)
  5. Spicy brown mustard (to taste)
  6. Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Tools:

  1. A smoker or grill that can be used as a smoker. I have the MasterBuilt 7 in 1 smoker.
  2. 20 lbs. of charcoal
  3. Wood, preferably, hickory.

Step one is to prepare the pork. Take the pork rub and spread liberally on the pork as pictured below. Wrap the pork in Saran wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

While the pork is marinating, get your smoker ready. I have never cleaned the inside of my smoker and the smell is almost intoxicating! I add 10 lbs. of charcoal to the pan and turn on the gas, light the burner and use the propane to get the coals going for around 20 minutes. If you have a smoker that does not use gas, either get a charcoal lighting stack or use a bunch of paper to get the fire going. Do not use MatchLight or lighter fluid!!!

When the coals are white, like the picture below, you are ready!

Now is when you add the wood. I soak my wood for a day prior to using it for smoking. There are varying opinions as to the effectiveness of soaking the wood in water and not soaking. It is my personal preference  to soak the wood. I wrap the wood in “heavy-duty” aluminum foil. Four pieces to start with.

The next step is to add the water pan. This is a very important step as it serves two purposes.

  1. The water pan helps regulate the heat and
  2. helps keep the meat moist.

And now, to add the meat!! Here are two butts and a pork roast. The pork roast will only be on the smoker for a couple of hours just to get some flavor and then, it will go on the rotisserie.

And now, everything is in and the lid goes on. The idea is to keep the temperature near 225 degrees. Some people like to let the temperature get hot by leaving the water pan out for 20 minutes, then adding the water pan and reducing the heat. I prefer to just let it smoke…slow and steady!

A quick check to make sure everything is going well!

After about six hours, it may be time to restock the charcoal and wood.

time to put everything back on, except the pork roast! 😉

After another six hours, the pork is ready to come off. I usually use 1 1/2 butts for the pulled pork and the wife and I eat the rest either in an omelet, sandwich, or…just plain with a little bit of that fancy mustard!

Day 2:

For this step, you will need a crock pot. Take the sections of butts, and you may have to cut them in half to get them to fit, and place the butts in the crock-pot. Add the liquid of your choice. Water, beer, chicken stock, whatever you wish. Experiment! You can add as many spices as you want or none. for this particular version, I added two cups of water, salt and pepper. that was it! You can add the spices listed above or any ones of your choosing. Remember one thing, spices are used to enhance the flavor, not to overtake it!

Cook on low for eight hours checking periodically to make sure there is enough liquid. If some liquid has evaporated, add more.

After eight hours, the pork should now be tender enough to pull apart with a fork. Try doing that. If the pork comes apart easily, you are done. Shut the crock-pot off and let everything sit for another hour If the pork doesn’t come apart easily, continue cooking for another 2 hours. Then do the fork test again. It may take up to 12 hours in the crock-pot. Allow for enough time.

After it has been pulled, you should have very little fat left.

Now you can place the pork back into the crock-pot and take it to wherever you are going to eat it, turn the crock-pot on low until everything is heated up, and serve with “some” barbecue sauce and enjoy! It is very hard to ruin this pork..even if you dump two bottles of barbecue sauce into the mix, it is still edible!

In case anyone was wondering what happened to that pork roast………..

I hope everyone enjoys this…I know we did!

January 11, 2011 Posted by | Pork | , , , | 1 Comment