Family Get-together

This past Saturday, July 6th, we had a nice family Get-together – our Son Robby, Daughter-in-law Salina, and Grandson Malachi, were here from Montana – so, we all got together. We made some BBQ Chicken, Pork Chops, Corn on the Cob, Baked Potatoes, Green Salad, and French Bread.

I started by Marinating the Chicken Thighs in Beer, and putting my own rub on the Pork Chops and putting them in the refrigerator.

Then, we removed all of the husks from the Corn on the Cob and wrapped them in aluminum foil, and rubbed the Potatoes with Olive Oil, and sprinkled them with Salt and Black Pepper.

I put 2 Tri-Tips in the smoker, with Apple, Hickory, and Oak wood. I by those in bulk (when on sale), season them (with Montreal Steak Seasoning, Seasoning Salt, and Cayenne Pepper) – wrap them individually, and freeze them. I smoked them for about 2 hours.

I put the Baked Potatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for about an hour – and they were absolutely perfect – fully cooked, tender, and add a little Butter, Bacon Bits, and Cheese – amazing!

I put the Corn on the Cob on the top shelf of the Smoker (what wouldn’t fit, I put on the top shelf of the Gas grill) for about an hour. That was some of the best Corn on the Cob that I have ever eaten.

Our son, Robby, is one of the best Chefs/Cooks that I have ever known – and he said the Tri-Tip was excellent – that it had great flavor, tender, with the right amount of smoke. Coming from him – that was a huge compliment.

The BBQ Sauce that I put on the Chicken starts with a base of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce, then I add some Beer, and some Chalula Hot Sauce – and I baste the Chicken several times while it is cooking.

The Pork Chops were seasoned with Black Pepper, Garlic Salt, Onion Powder, Thyme, Ancho Chili Powder, and Ground Mustard. I got busy, and forgot to take a picture of the Pork Chops on the grill, lol.

But, here is the picture of my plate as I sat down to eat.

We had approximately 25 pieces of Chicken, 2 Tri-Tips, and approximately 12 Pork Chops – and there was not much left after dinner – which is a sign that everyone liked the food.

Overall, it was a great dinner, and we had a nice visit with the family. They will be here for a few more days – so we will be able to see them some more.

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Peanut Butter Pie

I made this “Peanut Butter Pie” – and before making it, my wife asked I I thought we should make 2 of them. I said that I wanted to make sure that we liked it first, lol. As it turned out, it was very good – but, extremely rich – and 1 pie was plenty.

I started by putting 25 Nutter Butter cookies in the food processor – This is the base for the crust. I added some Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, and Melted Butter – I mixed it all together, and pressed it into a glass pie pan – then baked it at 350 for 10 minutes.

Now, I started on the filling for the pie. The filling is done in 2 parts, then folded together. I made the first part in the Stand Mixer, with Creamy Peanut Butter, Cream Cheese (softened), Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Vanilla, and Honey – I mixed these until smooth.

Then, I added 1/4 cup of chopped Peanuts and 12 Mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups – and folded those into the Peanut Butter mixture.

Then, in a separate bowl, I put 1 1/2 cups of Heavy Whipping Cream and beat it with a mixer on high until the consistency of Whipped Cream – then I folded that into the Peanut Butter mixture.

Then I put this mixture in the cooled crust that I had made earlier, covered with plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator for several hours. Then I took another cup of Heavy Whipping Cream, and added 1/2 cup of sugar, and whipped it like before, and spread it on the top of the chilled pie. Then, I added some additional Chopped Peanuts on of the Whipped Cream.

This pie was absolutely “Crazy good” – but super rich. We cut it into 12 pieces, because a small piece is all you need. You definitely need to like Peanut Butter to eat something like this – with the Peanut Butter, Nutter Butter cookies, Peanuts, and the Reese Peanut Butter Cups – it is very “Peanut Buttery.”

Contact me if you want the complete recipe, and I will email it to you.

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Stuffed Zuchinni

We had some Zucchini and a Dutch Oven – so, it seemed like a natural fit. I took the Zucchini, and I cut the ends off, and on the longer ones – I cut them in half. Then I took a knife and hollowed them out.

I then sliced some Mushrooms and some Carrots and took a pound of Ground Beef – seasoned it with some Salt, Black Pepper Onion Powder, and Garlic Powder – then mixed that together with the Carrots and Mushrooms.

I preheated the oven to 350 degree. Then, I took the mixture of Ground Beef, Mushrooms, and Carrots, and stuffed it inside of the Zucchini. I stood them all up inside the Dutch Oven, drizzled some Olive Oil over the top, and added a 1/4 cup of water – then put it in the oven for 2 hours.

While that was in the oven, I sliced some Potatoes and put them to boil – for Mashed Potatoes.

After they were cooked, I drained them, then put them back in the pan, added some Butter, Sour Cream, Milk, Salt, Black Pepper, Onion Powder, and Garlic Powder – and mixed well.

Then I made the Gravy – from a base of Bacon Fat, then water, AP Flour, Salt, Black Pepper, and Garlic Powder.

We served it with some Whole Kernel Corn. When we pulled the Stuffed Zuchinni out of the Dutch Oven – it would nearly crumble under its own weight – extremely tender and flavorful. All of the Veggies were tender, and the Ground Beef had amazing flavor after cooking with the veggies for 2 hours. It was an amazing meal – everyone enjoyed it.

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Wood and Glass Display Case

A friend of mine, Joe Buccino, asked me to build a display case. He has a white Golf Hat that was autographed by Professional Golfer Dustin Johnson. Joe is going to auction this autographed hat in a charity auction.

Let give the back story to how I met Joe. Several years ago, I worked for Brian and Terri Fish at Fish Window Cleaning. Brian took the whole crew golfing at Riverlakes Golf Course in Bakersfield, CA. While we were in the Pro Shop, we were asked if there are any Veterans in our group – which I am. He had me fill out this card and place it in this bowl, because a man draws a name once/month and treats that Veteran and a friend to a round of golf and a meal at the Clubhouse. A few months later, my name was drawn by Joe Buccino – which is how we met. Joe Buccino is a “friend to Veterans” – so, when he asked me to build this display case – I was honored to be able to do it.

I started with a couple of pieces of Poplar wood – glued them together and let them cure.

Then I took 4 pieces of glass, cut them to 12 inches x 8 inches, and 1 piece 12 inches x 12 inches (for the lid). I glued the 4 12 x 8 pieces together in a square, and applied silicone to the insides of the corners.

Then I put a nice design around the edges of the base with my router, and cut a groove about an inch in from all sides with the router – for the glass top to set in.

Then I stained the base with a Dark Walnut stain, and applied a Clear Coat.

Then, I ran a bead of silicone in the groove, and set the square glass arrangement into the groove, then ran a thin bead of clear silicone along the outside of the glass enclosure.

Then I added some hinges and a latch system – along with some Felt tabs to keep the lid from having “glass to glass” contact.

This was the first time that I have successfully cut glass on my own – and it went pretty good – I only messed up 1 piece, lol. Overall, I am very pleased with how this project ended up.

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Lasagna and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday, I tried my hand at making homemade Lasagna again. The last time I made the Lasagna, it came out good – but, as you make the dish more times – it usually comes out better. I also changed some things in the recipe based on thing that my family doesn’t like. For example, they aren’t crazy about Ricotta Cheese – so I left it out. I increased the amount of Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese. Also, the Italian Seasoning isn’t the most popular in my house – so, I left it out and added some Basil. It turned out better – most notably, it held together more as it was scooped out of the pan. I also made some homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies – which came out good – in fact, they were the best that I have every made.Also, I made a double batch of the Lasagna – there is a lady at our church, Kern Christian Center, that had broken both wrists, and KCC set up for people to bring the family food for a week or so – and I signed up for Monday. When I had my Kidney removed in February, the church did that for us – what a blessing that was – and I was honored to be able to give back.I started out making the homemade Meat Sauce – I started with 1 pound of Ground Beef and 1 pound of Pork Sausage – and cooked them in a large skillet until no longer pink. Then, I added 24 ounces of Tomato Sauce, 12 ounces of Tomato Paste, 2 Cloves of Garlic (Minced), Salt, Pepper, Sugar, and Basil. I let this Meat Sauce simmer for an hour.I cooked a total of 18 Lasagna Noodles (9 for each batch), and then started to assemble the Lasagna. I started with some Meat Sauce, then 3 Noodles, then some Meat Sauce and some Cottage Cheese mixture (Cottage Cheese, Eggs, and Parmesan Cheese), and some Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – then repeat until done. Then I covered it, put it in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes, then uncovered it for an additional 15 minutes. Then, we added some Whole Kernel Corn.Now, for the Chocolate Chip cookies – I started by mixing the Flour, Salt, and Baking Soda together. Then, in my Stand Mixer, I put the Sugar, Brown Sugar, Vanilla Extract, and Butter.I turned on the Stand Mixer until the mixture was creamy. Then I added the Eggs (one at a time), and when fully mixed, I added the Flour mixture slowly.

Now that everything is mixed – I scooped them on to an ungreased cookie sheet and baked at 375 for about 11 minutes. They were were very good – soft when you bite into them – which is the best.

This “double dinner” was a lot of work – but very enjoyable and rewarding. I really enjoy making stuff like this. Then we had some fun taking pictures of my goofy grandkids after we delivered the food to our friends from church.

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Homemade Ravioli, Marinara, and Cheesy Garlic Bread

Last night, I made some homemade Beef Ravioli (with homemade Marinara Sauce), and homemade Cheesy Garlic Bread. My wife said “you have guts” – to which I said “either a lot of guts, or no brains, the verdict is still out, lol.” It was a lot of work – but, yet fun. Everything turned out good – with one exception – the Cheesy Garlic Bread did not rise. I used the Instant Yeast, but for some reason it did not rise – but, it was very good.I started out by cooking the meat for the filling – I used 1 pound of Ground Beef, Salt, Black Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Tomato Paste – then I let it cook down, then let it cool while I started the dough for the Ravioli.

Now, I started working on the pasta dough for the Ravioli. I started with the All Purpose Flour, 4 Eggs, Olive Oil, and Salt. I mixed the Flour and Salt, then – with the mixer on – I poured in 1 Egg at a time, let it get mixed in, then continued until all 4 Eggs were mixed in. Then I added the Olive Oil, and mixed until smooth. Then, I wrapped it in plastic wrap, and let set for 30 minutes.

Then I divided the dough into 2 half, and rolled out the dough to as thin as I could reasonably do (I don’t have a Pasta roller for my mixer). Then I spooned the cooled Ground Beef mixture onto one sheet of the rolled out dough. Then I took an egg and beat it – then brushed it on the Pasta layer around the edges and in between the filling mounds. I then placed the 2nd sheet of Pasta Dough on top of it – then ran my finger in between the mounds of dough to seal the 2 layers together. I cut the Ravioli apart using a Pizza cutter, then crimped the edges with a fork.

Now, with the Ravioli finished, I left it to dry. Now, it’s time to make the Marinara. I started with a 28 ounce can of whole, peeled Tomatoes, Dried Oregano, 2 cloves of Garlic, some Olive Oil, and 1/2 of an Onion. I heated this up, then reduced to a simmer for around 45 minutes. Then, I removed the Onion, crushed the Tomatoes and Garlic Cloves, and with the Immersion Blender, I blended the Marinara.

Now, it’s time for the Cheesy Garlic Bread. I started with some All Purpose Flour, Instant Yeast, Salt, Sugar, Olive Oil, and Water, and mixed it in the Stand Mixer until smooth. Then, I let it rest for an hour – with the intent for it to rise and double in size. Well, it did not rise, lol. I am not sure why it didn’t, but the bread tasted absolutely amazing, so I will definitely make this again – hopefully it will rise next time.

Then, I rolled the dough out so that it would fit on a rectangle cookie sheet. I sprinkled some Corn Meal on the cookie sheet, then spread out the dough. I minced a clove of Garlic and mixed it in some melted Butter, and brushed it on the dough, then sprinkled on some Grated Parmesan Cheese. I topped it off with some shredded Colby/Jack Cheese, and put in a preheated oven at 375 for about 18 minutes.

While the bread was baking, I started cooking the Ravioli. I dropped 10 of them in the salted, boiling water and let them cool for about 10 minutes – then repeated for the other 10. Then I poured the Marinara Sauce over the cooked Beef Ravioli.

Then, I served the Beef Ravioli, the Cheesy Garlic Bread, and some Whole Kernel Corn. The Ravioli came out very tender, flavorful – and the Marinara had a bite to it – but was very good. As I had mentioned before, the Bread did not rise, but otherwise, it was some amazing Bread. You could smell and taste the flavor from the Minced Garlic Cloves, and the cheesyness of the bread was incredible.

So, the answer to the question – a lot of guts, or no brains – as good as everything turned out – the answer is evident – a lot of guts. It was an amazing amount of work, but we’ll worth it.

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Air Fryer Fried Chicken (bone-in)

Last night, I made some traditional Fried Chicken – with the bone – in the Air Fryer. We had a lot of Chicken to cook – so I actually fried some of it in the Deep Fryer, with Peanut Oil – otherwise, it would have taken too long to finish. I have cooked Chicken in the Air Fryer in several different ways – but not with the traditional “Fried Chicken” manner. I recently watched an episode of Rachel Ray, with her guest Curtis Stone @curtisstone. I have always enjoyed watching Curtis Stone but, he said some -not so pleasant – things about the Air Fryer. He obviously is not a fan of the Air Fryer. I totally understand that – because anyone that has followed what I am doing – knows that I have not always been an advocate of the Air Fryer – I am a convert, lol. I would venture to say that Curtis has not had food that has been cooked well in the Air Fryer.

We also had Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans, Dinner Rolls, and Salad – with Banana Splits for desserts.

Let’s start with the Fried Chicken – I didn’t have any Buttermilk, so I made my own by adding 1tbsp of vinegar/cup of milk, and let set for about 10 minutes, then stir. This is a simple way to create Buttermilk – if you don’t have any. Then, I took some All Purpose Flour, and added Cummin, Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and Olive Oil. I wisked all of these ingredients together.

Once everything is mixed together, I first put the Chicken in the Flour mixture, then into the Buttermilk, then back into the Flour mixture. Then I sprayed the basket of the Air Fryer with cooking spray, and placed the battered Chicken into the Air Fryer – and set it at 360 degrees for 20 minutes – flipping the Chicken halfway through.

While the Chicken was cooking, I started boiling the potatoes for the Mashed Potatoes. Once the potatoes were cooked until “fork tender” I drained them, and Mashed them. I added some Butter, Sour Cream, Milk, Black Pepper, and Garlic Salt.

As I stated earlier, since I was frying more than 20 pieces of Chicken, I also remembered something else that Curtis Stone had said on The Rachel Ray Show – he said that when he makes Fried Chicken, he only Fries it for a few minutes – then puts it in the oven to finish it. This was very helpful, because since using the Air Fryer – I don’t like frying Chicken in the Deep Fryer because the outside seems to be over-cooked by the time the inside is done. So, I fried the first batch in the Deep Fryer, didn’t like the way it turned out – so, I took Curtis’s advice, and finished the rest of the Deep Fried Chicken in a 350 degree oven. This did make some amazing Fried Chicken – actually comparable to the Air Fried Chicken. The biggest difference is in the health effects – with only 8 pieces cooked in the Deep Fryer, and approximately 15 pieces cooked in the Air Fryer – the amount of grease that drained off the Chicken was astronomically different. There was a minimal amount of grease from the Air Fried Chicken – but, there was approximately 1/4 cup of grease from the 8 pieces fried in the Deep Fryer.

Then, I made some Green Beans – we like Schwan’s Micro-Steam Green Beans – then add some Butter and Montreal Steak Seasoning. These make some of the best Green Beans I have ever had.

Then, there was a Green Salad (which I did not eat), and some amazing Dinner Rolls (store-bought).

The Fried Chicken was absolutely amazing – crispy on the outside, yet tender and juicy on the inside – with a slight bite from the Cayenne Pepper. The Mashed Potatoes were very creamy, the Schwan’s Green Beans have a crunch to them – and the Dinner Rolls would nearly melt in your mouth.

Then, to top it all off – my wife made some homemade Banana Splits – with all the toppings – for dessert. What a way to cap off a Sunday evening.

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