Monthly Archives: June 2009

2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative Recipe 1: Béchamel Broccoli Loaded Potatoes

broccoliFirst a bit of history… 

Chef Chris Perrin of and Shawna Coronado of have teamed up to create the ultimate cooking and gardening lineup for the “2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative.”

In an effort to encourage people to grow gardens for better health, Shawna Coronado has created the “Get It Garden Challenge” on her blog. As a garden and green living expert, Shawna has written “Gardening Nude”, a book focused on green lifestyle living. Shawna’s challenge has been to replace her suburban front yard with a vegetable garden and grow fresh organic vegetables (naked of chemicals) for better health. She is encouraging her readers to simultaneously grow a garden for better health and record progress with The Casual Gardener gardening blog.

As Shawna pulls ripe and metaphorically nude veggies out of the garden, Chris will feature a meal which includes a special recipe for the veggies picked that day. This entire meal will cost a family of 4 to 6 under $11.50 to prepare. Chris Perrin is author of “How To Make Tofu Not Suck”, an e-book on fantastic tofu cooking techniques, and is internationally famous as the chef for Blog Well Done.

While cooking an entire meal for under $11.50 is an inspiration during these hard economic times, it is also a goal as part of the initiative to stay as natural and organic as possible, utilizing simple, uncomplicated ingredients and cooking techniques that everyone can afford and should use for a healthier lifestyle.  Today’s fresh picked vegetable is Bonnie Plants’ Broccoli ‘Packman’ variety.’

Get healthy today and follow the “2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative” with Blog Well Done’s Chris Perrin and The Casual Gardener, Shawna Coronado.

You hungry yet?  Good, because we’re making

Broccoli Bechamel Loaded Baked Potatoes

When I saw Shawna’s beautiful broccoli, I knew I had just the recipe.  Tyler Florence, on his show Tyler’s Ultimate, had a recipe for celebration loaded baked potatoes.  Basically it was blanched broccoli and cheesy béchamel stuffed into a crispy baked potato.

This is my inspired take on Tyler’s fantastic dish.

Making broccoli béchamel loaded baked potatoes

You will need:

1/4 package of bacon ($1.05)

(optional) 8 tablespoons kosher or sea salt

4 potatoes (approximately $1)

Shawna’s amazing broccoli (free!)

Olive oil (part of the challenge!)

4-6 white button mushrooms, sliced ($1)

1 pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream ($4.29)

2 cups white cheddar cheese ($2.75)

Total: $10.09!!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon and render out the fat.  Keep the fat and cut the bacon into small pieces.  Roll the potatoes in the bacon grease and optionally roll in two tablespoons of salt.  Prick the potatoes with a fork and bake the potatoes until fork tender (how long this takes varies, but start checking around 20 minutes.)

If you prefer a vegetarian version, use olive oil instead of bacon fat. That’s what Tyler Florence did.  Add another dollar’s worth of mushrooms.

Blanch the broccoli by cooking it in well salted boiling water for three minutes.  Immediately remove from the heat and shock it in ice cold water.

In the same skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil, the mushrooms, and the pinch of salt.  Cook the mushrooms until they turn brown and have given up their water.  Add the broccoli and the heavy cream.  When the cream starts to bubble, add the cheddar cheese and stir to melt.

Add the bacon and mix.  Top each potato with one quarter of the mixture.

Also, if you have any leftover ham or chicken, you can add it at the same time as the broccoli (as long as it’s cooked.)  Now sit back and enjoy!

Get healthy today and follow the “2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative” with Blog Well Done’s Chris Perrin and The Casual Gardener, Shawna Coronado


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Frying Wontons

Fried Wontons

Fried Wontons

I learned a great tip from the Kansas City Culinary Institute‘s Executive Chef Matt Chatfield tonight.  Apparently, the dough used to make wonton wrappers will continue to brown after it has been removed from the oil.  So only fry your wontons until they are firm and so the filling won’t come out.  Then remove them from the oil to a paper towel.

If you fry the wontons any longer, they will take on a brown, almost burnt coloration.

I also learned from a few of the students that wontons don’t necessarily float to the surface when they’re done.  I also learned that when they reach a deep black color, they’re burnt.  They still taste good, apparently!

Thanks to avlxyz for the pic!

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Cook With Your Kids: Tacos

Kid Friendly Ground Beef for Tacos

Kid Friendly Ground Beef for Tacos

So I am playing around with different features here on the blog.  Since I am the proud father of WellDone, Jr. and because my friend Carissa asked, I really got inspired to start thinking about ways I can get the kids into the kitchen.

Now, to me, cooking in the kitchen with kids means two things: chaos and the inappropriate use of sprinkles (seriously, pick up a kid’s cookbook and see how many recipes they have involving candy and sprinkles.  It’s sad.)  While I can’t do anything about the chaos, I will promise you that these recipes won’t sugary or too simple.  We want to teach kids to cook, right? 

On the other hand, these recipes won’t involve complex knife skills, deep fat frying, or grilling since all you need is one of these plus a kid with an independent streak and you have disaster.

With that being said, grab your kids and your aprons.  It’s time for


In this case, we’re going with beef tacos since they’re pretty simple.  As long as your child is tall enough, he or she (or they) should be able to do all of the cooking with minimal exposure to grease splatters or heat.  Also, with the help of your grocery store, this dish can be made without even needing a knife, since tacos are really popular, some people even buy them online, in restaurants as mexican food huntington ny which offer the best options for this food.

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Blog Well Done on The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

Just wanted to say that I got a tip on on the The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.  I’m tip #47!  Check it out and all the other advice for eating on the go.

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Grilled Carrots

Grilled Carrots with Portabellos and Match Chicken

Okay, so today’s post is a bit of a nobrainer as far as recipes go, but we’ve been eating it so much that I just wanted to share.  Today we’re going to talk all about

Grilled Carrots

This may sound strange, but it was not until last year that I had ever had grilled carrots. I’ve been far too occupied with the smoked chuck roast this month that I didn’t look at other recipes. Onions, peppers, mushrooms, yes, but for some reason carrots, no.  Then one day my wife and I decided to have lunch at Whole Foods.  I’m sure I had pizza, but she came away with a to-go container of grilled vegetables.  I didn’t think much of her selection until she started making little moaning as she was eating.  She kept going on and on about the carrots.

So, I, too, tried one.  They were ever-so-slightly sweet from the cooking of the natural sugars in the carrot, but they had a subtle savoriness from the pinch of salt and just a dash of pepper that worked so well together.   

We were hooked.   And you’re about to be!

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Where Life Meets Lunch: My Secret Affair

546150140_3cee75ca1fI am a married man, but I have a second love.

If you know me, then you may have guessed what this illicit love is.  Hopefully, you’ll keep this little secret to yourself because I am going to go out on a limb and tell you.  I love food.

I love everything about food.  The taste, the smell, the color, writing about it, thinking about it, watching it get cooked.  I love that little sizzle that onions or meat or tofu makes when it hits a hot pan with oil in it.  Sadly, I think I love food too much.  Since at the time of the writing I currently weigh a dizzying amount of weight.  And so even though I love food, I am trying as hard as I can to separate myself of it.

Some call it releasing weight, some call it dieting, some call it slimming down, but whatever it is, I am trying to make that little number on the scale drop by about 120 from where I started.  Basically, I am trying to reinvent my body and reinvent myself.

The good news is that I enjoy exercise.  I like lifting weights, playing racquetball, swimming, and the feeling I get when I look down at the elliptical and say “Ha, I OWNED you for 30 minutes!” (even if the truth is more like I was in awful pain and hated life for all 1,800 seconds I was on the [bleep]ing machine.) 

There is, however, one thing I won’t give up.  I am pretty sure that I am unable to give up my love of food, so I am not going to try.  Instead, I am learning a new concept: moderation which I think comes from the Latin for “[Bleep]ing [bleep] of a [bleep] I’m still hungry, but I am not licking my plate clean” or something like that.  Basically, to acheive this moderation-thingy, over the past several weeks I have been doing four things:

  1. I am leaving food on my plate or, depending on the meal, putting it in a doggie bag.  This tactic works better with an attentive waiter who can get my plate out from under my nose quickly, but it does work.
  2. I am slowing down.  I am trying as hard as I can not to shovel food anymore.  Instead, I am taking time to taste each bite, savor the different flavors, and then swallow.  Since I am eating less (per #1), I still want to engage in the culinary pleasure of eating and slowing down is one way I am doing that.  Overall, I am finding that my enjoyment of food has actually increased.
  3. I am avoiding temptation.  No buffets or Mexican restaurants for me except for one meal a week.  All chips are out of my house as are Jelly Bellys, Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream from Ben and Jerry’s, etc.
  4. I earn my rewards.  Anytime I want something, say like a Dr. Pepper or a treat, I make myself earn it.  That means going to ju jitsu or the gym and working for it.  In the end, this means that instead of depriving myself and risking a slide back into my old habits, I am accepting a slower pace of weight loss in exchange for a lifestyle I can do.

Now, I promise not to turn into a health freak.  I am going to try to do more healthy recipes, but that’s more because that’s what my readers seem to want.  (This of course excludes next January where I will do a second Unresolution month, but that’s another story!)   I wouldn’t normally even talk about this type of thing except it’s been on mind so much and that’s from where these little vignettes come.

So is it working?  I’d caution a guess and say yes.  Last week I lost 13 pounds.  Tomorrow I face the scale again.

Wish me luck?

(Thanks Rick for the pic!)

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Mexican Flank Steak

Flank Steak

Flank Steak

It’s about time I got around to doing an article on flank steak. It’s one of my absolute favorite cuts of meat. I swear it has better flavor than a filet, though that may be because you pretty much have to marinate a flank steak and I make a mighty tasty marinade.  (Also, it’s my sincere desire that you’ve never had a marinated filet since the meat just doesn’t need it.)

Still, today we’re going to talk about how to properly make a flank steak, including a great marinade for

Mexican Flank Steak

Okay, so the first thing we need to figure out is how to cook the piece of meat.  Flank steaks require a little TLC.  They’re kind of fibrous.  Not necessarily tough, but they are firm and they have lots of striations.  All of that means that they need a little help breaking down before the are introduced to a nice hot flame.

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