Barbecued roast beef and a new Cave Tools product

20 Mar

New recipe and new tool!

Recently my husband and I ate dinner in a local restaurant that was new to us. We shared two meals, one of which was a barbecued beef brisket. It was similar to the pulled pork that we often make at home, but yet it was different because of the beef that was used, and the flavor was intense. We loved it so much we decided to try to make it here at home, using our Instantpot to cook the beef.

Luckily, we had a new Cave Tools product to try out, a set of two stainless steel shredding meat claws. They were going to be perfect for the meat that we would be making that night. The handles were sturdy and strong, and came with textured non-slip handles and plenty of space for our hands, thanks to the extended knuckle space. Interestingly, they are shaped like a bear’s paws, which provides a really good grip on the meat you’re working with.

We used the claws to hold the meat with one hand and a knife with the other to slice some of it off.

The claws can be used in a variety of ways and we definitely made us of them when we lifted the meat out of the Instantpot, when we shredded it, and even when we decided to slice off a portion to taste, we used the claws to hold the meat with one hand and the knife with the other.

These meat claws were fantastic for shredding the roast beef.

They’re also great for shredding the meat, which we did for most of it, since we were looking for a pulled beef consistency at the end and we planned to shred it, return it to the Instantpot for a bit longer, and then take it back out for serving.

Once the shredded meat was finished cooking, having the claws in hand for removing it from the Instantpot was key. They were helpful in scooping out good-sized amounts of meat at a time from the pot.

These stainless steel claws are available two ways. You can find them on Amazon.com here, or on the Cave Tools website here, but be sure to use the discount code MEATCLAWS on the Cave Tools site to receive a discount of 15% off.

 

Putting the meat back into the Instantpot was easy with the meat claws.

Be sure to read all of the care and safety information in your box when you get your tools. You’ll be sure to smile when you read the reference to “Wolverine” in the safety instructions!

As with all of their products, this one comes with a Lifetime guarantee and you can return it at any time if you are not 100% satisfied. Although we love a company that stands by their products, we won’t be utilizing that any time soon, as we already have plans to make use of these meat claws again soon. They’re definitely going to be a go-to tool in our kitchen from here on in.

To make the barbecued roast beef, saute an onion on the saute setting with olive oil and garlic. Add in a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. Add in 1/4 cup of water to cut the sauce a bit. Whisk the sauce for consistency. Put in your roast, cook it on the manual setting for an hour. Do a quick release, remove the roast beef and shred it with your metal claws. Place the beef back into the Instantpot for another ten minutes on manual. Remove when done. This can be served as a sandwich or just as is. We did a little of each.

Ready to eat! There were hardly any leftovers and we can’t wait to make this again!

 

Fun Friday: How picky an eater are you?

16 Mar

Do you eat your beans?

Every so often on social media, a fun questionnaire will come across my husband’s feed and he’ll call out the questions, and have us answer them. It’s all just for fun, but the one he had us answer this past weekend was interesting as we heard each other’s answers, and I thought I’d share it here as well.

The topic was “How Picky an Eater Are You?” There seem to be several versions of this test out there, with a different variety of food items on each one, but they’re all fun to explore.

We often categorize children as picky eaters, and it’s often quite challenging to feed a picky eater, but adults can be plenty picky too! As a kid in my own family growing up, on our 12th birthday we were allowed to choose on thing we never had to eat again. My one thing was orange juice and my brother’s one thing was green beans. What would your one thing be?

How picky an eater are you? To find out, read the 60 types of food on this list and give yourself one point for each thing you don’t eat. The more points you have, the pickier you are. There were some things we just couldn’t eat because of allergies (seafood and gluten) but other than allergies, it’s all about what you do and don’t like.

To give you something to compare to, my husband’s score was three, mine was 12 and our youngest daughter was 34. He had no food allergies to contend with, but we each have one.

It’s all in fun and clearly not scientific data, so go ahead and see how you fare. If you’d like to, you can share your score in the comments.

How do you score?

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

7 Mar

Ratatouille has become a favorite meal of ours.

Welcome to the month of March! It’s been quite some time since I posted a two-week menu plan, and I thought this week might be a good week to do one.

We are marching into spring and it’s about to be our busy season at work and at school so I am reveling in this relative calm before the storm. Over these two weeks however, two of our kids are booked just about every night for “tech week” as they prepare for this weekend’s upcoming theater performances and next weekend’s drama festival competition. Therefore, we are not necessarily eating all together as we usually do, but rather in a group of three, and then a group of two later on. They come in starving at about 9:00 p.m. and their first question is always, “What was for dinner?” as they look to reheat whatever it is that we had. They’ve eaten, but it’s usually between when school ends at 2:00 and when their theater responsibilities begin at 4:00.

That said, here is our list of meals for these two weeks.

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS

SUNDAY: Shaved steak and cheese sandwiches with tomato salad and steak fries
MONDAY: Burritos and quesadillas
TUESDAY: Chicken, broccoli and pasta
WEDNESDAY: Ratatouille
THURSDAY: Cranberry chicken
FRIDAY: Opening night for theater! Out to dinner
SATURDAY: Grilled kielbasa kebabs (this is a new meal, so look for it to be featured in the future!)

SUNDAY: Pulled beef brisket (this is a new recipe, so look for it to be featured in the future!)
MONDAY: Grilled teriyaki chicken breasts
TUESDAY: Spaghetti with tuna sauce
WEDNESDAY: Nicoise salad
THURSDAY: Leftovers
FRIDAY: Homemade Pizza
 

Hopefully this inspires some meals for your next two weeks of meals!
Have a wonderful week!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: a couple of new-ish recipes for you

14 Feb

Dinner is cooking!

Happy Wednesday and Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I mentioned recently in one of my posts, the past few weeks have been challenging and therefore, a little bit of a blur for me. If you asked me what was for dinner yesterday, there’s a good chance I can’t remember and if you ask me what’s for dinner tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I don’t know yet. We have shopped, we have a list of meals, but we’ve been a little less planned out than we normally are and I’m trying to keep a lot of balls in the air at the moment. Everyone has hectic weeks and months though, so I’m sure you can all relate.

That said, we’ve had a couple of surprisingly delicious meals in the past couple of weeks and I did want to share them with you. They’re kind of new, but not really. New-ish, I guess. One I have posted about before, and one I never have, but we’ve eaten it before.

First, I will share with you the recipe we’ve had before but not for so long that I have never posted about it on my blog before. It is the one shown here to the left, and to the right and it might make a perfect Valentine’s Day meal for you!

It was so good to have this meal again. I hope we don’t wait another two decades to make it again in the future!

Many years ago when we lived out of state and in apartments, we used to make a pasta dish that we loved. It had a pink tomato cream sauce and pasta, along with chicken or shrimp and sun-dried tomatoes. For some reason we fell out of the habit of making it, for about 20 years. A recent new meal that we tried out sparked a memory of that recipe, and we put it on the list of meal requests for the following weeks’ menu. We didn’t have a specific recipe for it, and my husband put it together as he went, but this recipe from Allrecipes.com is a similar one. Some use vodka in their sauce, making it a true Pink Vodka sauce, but  we did not and we enjoyed it just as much.

Next, I will share with you another rediscovered recipe, but this one was made a little bit more recently, but not by much!

This meal was so delicious and even better the second day as the flavors settled in.

Last week my daughter was asking me how chicken could be made with brown sugar. It was something she had seen (I think on television), but the two ingredients didn’t seem to go together in her mind. I told her that they did in fact, go well together and that I was pretty sure I’d made at least one brown sugar and chicken recipe in the past. I was pretty sure I would find it on my blog, and sure enough….I had two! When I looked them up this week, they both looked so delicious that I decided to scrap any meals that I might’ve pulled from our Two Weeks of Meals choices, and make one of them instead. One of my other daughters was home at the time and I let her choose the one she wanted. She ended up choosing this Brown Sugar and Lemon Chicken recipe that I’d last made in 2012. I had everything for it except a real lemon. Instead I had a bottle of lemon juice that I felt would suffice. It would mean no lemon zest on top, but I felt that we would still enjoy the meal either way. I was right. This chicken was so incredibly most and delicious, it melted in my mouth. I could not believe I hadn’t remembered this recipe sooner, although I was glad that I’d remembered it sooner than the tomato cream pasta recipe above.

I could not wait to eat this for lunch again the next day!

I served this meal with rice and a veggie saute that our oldest daughter loves, just a simple mix of zucchini and squash cooked in the cast iron skillet. It was a hit with everyone except the daughter who originally asked about chicken and brown sugar, who really only likes chicken on a wing or in a nugget, but I’m still glad our conversation sparked this memory for me.

In case you’re wondering, here is the other brown sugar and chicken recipe, it’s also from 2012. It’s one I’m hoping to try again in the near future and it also calls for garlic, which is another favorite of ours.

I hope that these blast-from-the-past meal memories have provided you with some meal memories of your own and that you find an old recipe you’d forgotten all about. If not, feel free to give our recipes a try! I can promise you won’t be disappointed.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

 

A new look

9 Feb

12524080_10207046906043162_8830707560015516783_nSometimes with my long hair, I reach a point where I suddenly just can’t stand it any longer and I need it cut, like yesterday. Nothing drastic, just a healthy trim.

Well, yesterday at 1:00 in the afternoon, I suddenly reached that moment in time with The Whole Bag of Chips, and I felt it needed a new look, some updates. Nothing drastic, just a nice, healthy update, like a nice healthy hair trim. The blog has been in existence for seven years and has had the same look the entire time, until now.

So, today, instead of a Fun Friday post, this is just a new look for The Whole Bag of Chips. New font style, new background color, a new concise look for the Archives section, the WordPress-sponsored ads are gone, and on the Facebook page, a new profile photo.

Have a lovely weekend, and be sure to visit The Whole Bag of Chips again soon!

The unexpected healing power of the kitchen

7 Feb

Baked oatmeal is one of our family’s favorite meals for breakfast, or any time of the day.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It’s the middle of another week, and February is flying by.

We have had a busy few weeks here, and I’ve been unable to post as frequently as I’d like to. However, today’s post was one I just had to make the time for.

Three weeks ago today, our youngest daughter hit her head getting into the car, after slipping on some slush in a parking lot. Although all of us have bumped our heads getting into the car at one time or another, this bump turned out to be different. She hit it just the right way and ended up with a concussion.

It’s our first concussion from any of our kids and neither of us have ever had one. However, with all of the new emphasis on the proper treatment of brain injuries and brain damage, we knew of many kids her age who have had them. What we did not know, however, was just how long a recovery it could be. Each injury is different. Some recover in a matter of days, others in a matter of weeks, still others take many months and there is no way to know which kind you have until you’ve fully recovered.

When it first happened, a friend of mine whose daughter has had several sports injury concussions warned me, “She’s going to be SO bored.” She was SO right. There is not much they can do. No screen time, no reading, very little writing, no bright lights, no loud noises. Sometimes even normal-level noises seem too loud.

Initially she didn’t want to do a ton. For the first five days or so she was spending her waking hours in total darkness, sometimes listening to a book, sometimes sleeping. About a week in however, as she started to feel slightly better, she was awake more. She’d already listened to about 20 hours of audio books and was downloading eight more. She could listen to a TV show in the background, but not watch it. She was bored out of her mind. We each tried to find things to entertain her. Her sisters would do her nails, her hair, her makeup. They’d listen to a movie with her. We’d take her for rides. She’d clean her own room. Then we’d find her cleaning a sister’s room. She was bored, bored, bored.

“When I am sitting here doing nothing, I am stressed,” she said to me more than once. “When everyone is doing something, and I can’t do anything, it makes me crazy.”

I get that.

However, as time went on, the one thing she could do, and truly enjoyed, was cooking. One week in, she was asking to make something in the kitchen–anything at all, she didn’t care what. She could measure, mix and stir, and watch something bake, and then she could share it with everyone as they came home at the end of the day. All I had to do was read out the ingredients to her as she went along.

Here, finally was something she could do. She had a new apron and a new purple cooking set, courtesy of a Christmas gift from her oldest sister, and she was going to put it all to good use. Although our kitchen renovation project from the summer is still awaiting the next round of its finishing touches, it’s fully functional, even though it’s not fully beautiful.

She made baked oatmeal for our weekend breakfast one week, and homemade stove-top oatmeal for an after school snack another week. She made green pancakes for breakfast and then purple ones another time for dinner. She made cupcakes from scratch with homemade frosting and she made a carrot bread with glaze. She chattered on and on about fractions as she measured: double 1/8 and  it’s 1/4 and half it to get 1/16 and on and on and on.

As she cooks, she’s in her happy place and her stress about all she’s missing out on momentarily disappears. The lights are low, and the things she can’t do turn into something she can do and enjoys doing. Never have I been more thankful that we’ve raised our kids to know their way around the kitchen. Not only is it a life skill, but for the past few weeks it’s truly been a life saver. It’s had a healing power that I had never thought about.

In the coming weeks she should be continuing to feel better and better, and I hope that when she looks back on this period of time, she’ll not only remember the rough patch she’s been through, but also think back on some of the bright spots mixed throughout the weeks, such as the time she spent in the kitchen creating, mixing, measuring and relaxing.

In her happy place during what has proven to be a very challenging time.

 

A new Cave Tools product review: Stainless Steel Wood Smoker Box

28 Jan

My husband ranked these ribs as being some of the best he’s ever had in his entire life.

We recently had the opportunity to try out another product from one of my favorite companies, Cave Tools. This time, my husband was very excited to review the new tool because it was something he’d been wanting to try for a long time. The Large Capacity Stainless Steel Smoker Box allows you to smoke meat and fish on the grill and it was a cooking method we’d never tried but had always wanted to.

Smoking is an interesting method of cooking, and it takes some time, so you need to make sure you can devote the time you need in order for everything to cook properly. Because we live in an area of the country that gets cold and snowy, and it’s wintertime, we also had to make sure we were going to use our grill on a day when there wasn’t a blizzard and it was above freezing. Finally, this past weekend was the perfect day. We chose Saturday as our day to smoke a rack of ribs.

This box was a great size and fit well between our grill grates.

The Stainless Steel Smoker Box is very typical of Cave Tools’ superior product quality. Their products are always solidly made and durable. Cave Tools notes that this particular product has several features that make it stand out from the rest: Its stainless steel is 25% thicker so that it prevents warping. It has a hinged lid and large wood chip capacity for thicker smoke. There are no bottom holes, so the wood chips smolder and don’t catch fire, and its thinner profile fits perfectly between the grill grates and flavorizer bars, if you choose to use them.

As our Saturday dawned bright and sunny, Don spent the early afternoon hours preparing the rack of ribs. He created a dry rub consisting of a cup of brown sugar, a quarter cup of kosher salt, a teaspoon of garlic powder and half a teaspoon of pepper (approximate measures). He rubbed it all in and refrigerated it for four hours. When he took it out at 4:00, he rinsed it off, patted it dry and then placed it on the grill.

Following the directions that were contained in the box, he filled our smoker box with 100% natural hickory wood chips and set it on the grill over the heat, and waited for it to start smoking. He then placed the rack of ribs on the opposite side. It took approximately 15 minutes for the box to start smoking. He never flipped the ribs over, but rather rotated them every so often to make sure they were cooking evenly.

After two hours, barbecue sauce was added to the meat for the final 20 minutes.

 

 

 

As the cook time neared the end, barbecue sauce was added to the meat for the final 20 minutes of cook time.

Throughout the evening, we could smell the smoker cooking the meat outside, and the aroma was heavenly. We could not wait to try the ribs. The anticipation was exciting and we were very much looking forward to our dinner.

As we dug into dinner, we were thrilled with our results. The ribs were incredibly good. My husband ranked them as being among the top five best rib meals he’s had in his lifetime, and that’s saying a lot, as we’ve had a lot of ribs in our time!

The meat came right off the bone and the flavor was just delicious. We savored every bite and we each had seconds. When we finished eating, I was so glad that there were still more ribs left on the tray for leftovers later this week, as I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them just yet.

If you’re looking to try out smoking on your grill, I highly recommend the Cave Tools Stainless Steel Smoker Box. If you choose to buy it from Cave Tools directly, you can use the code SMOKERBOX15 to get 15% off your purchase and order here. Should you choose to go through Amazon.com, instead, you can use this link.

Like all the Cave Tools products, this product has a lifetime warranty, should you have any issues with it. I know we can’t wait to use ours again!

The meat came right off the bones of the ribs, just as it should.

*Although I was compensated for this review with a free product, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*