Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grill Master Competition and Tips for Grilling Great Steaks

This Saturday was the Grill Master Competition and my Stepdad Jim did fantastic!! He took 2nd place but his Teriayki Tri-tip was definately 1st in my book :)


Jim took home 1st place last year with super secret steak rub recipe. . . his own blend of herbs and spices. Last year the competetors got to choose their meat and had the option of grilling steak or tri-tip. This year, everyone had to do a tri-tip so Jim came up with a new recipe.


Here are some tips he posted . . . take it away, Jim!!


These are some tips for great Steaks. Follow these simple steps and always remember to use them and you will have great barbecue every time.

1. Always purchase meat that has good marbling. and little fat around the outside, if it does you can always trim it later when preparing it.

2. If you freeze it make sure to use a Food Saver or something along the lines that sucks the air out of the bag to ensure keeping the freezer burn away. Bags of meat in the Freezer can last about a year, in the fridge usually about 4 to 5 days past the sell by date.

3. For good cuts of steak (New York, Ribeye, Top Sirloin) you may want to add flavor with a Seasoning marinade. The longest to marinate these steaks is 2 hours. Thickness on these steaks here are around 1" to 1 1/2 inches thick. So the two hour mark is a good cut off time. Thinner steaks less time. You want a tender and juicy steak not mush that tastes like steak, you still want the texture of the meat.

4 Other cuts of meat ( chuck, round, flank, skirt) You will want to use what is known as a tenderizing marinade. This is because those cuts of meat are tougher and need a little tender care to help soften them up. Here are some helpful things to remember when using a tenderizing marinade:

A tenderizing marinade contains a food acid or a tenderizing enzyme.

Acidic ingredients are lemon and or lime juice, vinegar, Italian Dressing, salsa,yogurt and wine

Tenderizing enzymes are present in fresh ginger, pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and figs

Tenderizing marinades penetrate down about a 1/4 inch into the meat.

For these cuts of meat the marinade process is longer. Anywhere from 6 hours minimum to no longer than 24 hours. After that then the meat may start to become mushy and remember we want steak not mush. There are tons of marinades out there on the shelves or you can make them yourself. Check out online as well, you will be amazed at what you find.

5. Always marinade your meat in either a Non-Conductive glass or stainless steel bowl or in a good Zip-Lock baggie that is then stored in a bowl in the refrigerator.

6. Before cooking the meat you need to allow it to warm up. SPECIAL NOTE: This is where most people will tell you no you cannot take it out and let it get to room temperature, it will get bacteria and hurt you. Well that is true if you do not clean your counters, but if you keep your area clean (kitchen work area that is) and work with the food with either gloves on or washing your hands frequently you should keep that from happening.

The reason for getting the meat to room temperature is, well have you ever had a good steak but the middle is a little tough? Well that is because it was not warmed up before throwing it on the grill. If there is a cold spot in the middle of your steak let it sit a little longer. I usually have mine in a baggie on the granite counter top that helps extract the cold out of the meat. ( yes it really does help get it where it needs to be on temperature). The baggie helps keep it safe while it warms up.

Now I KNOW there are people that will argue with that till they are blue in the face, but I will let you test it out if you want. All I can say is, if you allow the meat to warm to room temperature (65-70 degrees not above that) and when you are ready to grill, if you touch the center of the steak ( with gloves on or washed hands ) and it feels not cold cold but like about the temp of the room, your steak will be very juicy and not tough in the center.

With the grill ready you will want to have one side of the grill on a medium high to high heat and the other side either on low or off. Gas grillers one side on and one side off, Charcoal grillers coals on one side none on the other. This is Direct and Indirect Grilling.

Use a old CLEAN rag and put some EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) on it and coat the grates on the grill. This will help keep the meat from sticking. Then place the meat over the hot side for 45 seconds. Lift rotate 90 degrees and another 45 seconds. Repeat this on the other side. This will give you those great grill marks.

Once that is done then place the meat on the other side and let it cook with indirect grilling turning only once or twice.

There are two ways you can check to see if it is done. The first way is to do the finger test. If your fingertip presses into the meat too much then it is not time. If you press it in and it feels spongy and has some bounce you may be done. You can use a thermometer, but remember any holes on the meat will let the juices leak out and give you a dry steak. Here is a site that describes it a little more for you:


Once the meat is then cooked you will want to place it all on a plate and then cover with foil tightly and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak and not leak out and give you dry steak as you cut into it. Also the steak will cook about 5 degrees more than when you took it off, so remember that when you use a thermometer checking the temp.

Well this is a sampling of how to grill a great steak. I may add something later on. My brain is currently shutting down for the weekend. OH, one last thing. NEVER, and I mean NEVER (my personal opinion) use any instrument other than a thermometer to poke the meat. Get a good set of long handled tongs. Any holes in the meat will defeat the purpose of a good juicy nicely done steak.

Ok now I am done...for now...


Thanks, Jim!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh crap. . .

Son of a. . . . !!!!
I had a slight accident a few days ago with my poor computer chair. (I re-upholstered it a few years ago to match an ottoman I re-did.)
I honestly don't have an idea how, but, I tripped over this sucker when I was attempting to walk through to the bath room and CRASH!!
The back was distroyed as well as the eardrums of 10 of my neighbors. . .


But-- The best thing in the world happened. While setting up for a garage sale, a good friend of mine wheeled in an identical one that was broken also and marked it with a sticker that said "FREE"
(OoOOooooh Thank You, Brit. You are a life saver!!)




I only needed the plastic part on the back rest to fix the chair and I was left with this. . . .

. . . .Lightbulb Alert. . . .

The kids are always looking for a hard surface to color on at home or when we are in the truck. . . (its no fun to sit at the desk or the table, ya know?)
I took an old pant leg from some jeans I cut off into shorts and then just slid it on and tied off the ends with some jute.


Too bad I didn't have a few of these. . .
The girls are in love with their new little 'lap desk'. :D

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Stepping Stones

What have I been up to lately? I have still been crafting but its basically more of what I have already posted so I didn't want to bore anyone with multiple posts of the same old-same old.
Here is something new though. . . .
Garden Stepping Stones!


I've been putting a lot of time in with helping my mom in her yard and I absoulutely LOVE it!! I just wish it was mine and not hers though. . hahah.

We all had fun putting these together and I think they turned out great! They were really easy to make too.


Here's what you'll need to make your own:

-molds to make the stepping stones in. You can buy these cheaply at craft stores or at a dollar store like I did.
-Concrete. I used quickrete. One bag goes a loooonnng way!!
- Water to mix the concrete with.
- An old serving spoon, to fill your molds.
- A large plastic tub to mix the concrete in. I used an old kitty litter container.
-stuff to decorate your stones with. I used glass gems I found at the dollar store.

There are two types of concrete that you can use for the manufacture of stepping stones. One, quick-setting concrete, is available at hardware and home improvement centers. The cheapest to buy is Quikrete, at about two dollars for a 60 pound bag. It is, however, a bit pebbly, and you may wish to purchase a large sieve to filter out the larger materials. I was fornate enough to have been able to borrow a large sifter so it worked out great :) . . . Thanks Jim!!

The second is stepping stone concrete, available at many craft centers. This type of concrete is made especially for stepping stones, so is of course a bit more expensive. You are in to it about $5 per stone if you go that route.

The best way to mix concrete is to measure the concrete first and place it in the mixing tub. I used a 5parts Quikrete and 1part water and it worked well. Add the water last - you want to end up with concrete at the consistency of cake batter. Too much water, and the concrete will fail to cure.

Allow the concrete 15-20 minutes to rest before adding your choice of decorations for the stepping stone. You have to use a little bit of force to press in the stones so they'll stay in there after the concrete has cured.

I found these molds at the dollar store. The plastic ones were plant saucers that came 6 to a package and the foil ones are mini pie tins that came 4 to a package but were a little bigger in size.

Allow 30 minutes of drying time before you attempt to write your name or a witty slogan in your stepping stone. If the imprint fills with water, then simply smooth it out and wait an additional 5 minutes or so and begin again. Allow 30 minutes of drying time before adding hand or foot prints.

Allow the stepping stone to dry for at least 48 hours. Turn the mold over, placing an old towel on the work surface. Gently tap the mold, and it will release the stepping stone. You can now paint the stone if you wish.

I think it would be fun to decorate some using those plastic glow-in-the-dark moons and stars too. The possibilites are endless. I can't wait to do some more of these!!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

DollarStore Key Holder Makeover

Here's a quick little makeover. . . .
I found this key holder at the Dollar Tree

and turned it into this. . . .


A little Mod Podge and paper dressed it right up :)

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Freezer Paper Stencils. . . Fun Stuff!!

Have you seen these yet?
Stencils you can iron on made from freezer paper?
I have seen a lot of people doing them lately and had to give it a try.


I printed out an image and then traced it onto the 'paper' side of the freezer paper, cut it out, and ironed it on to a tank top for my little Magoo. (The tank was on sale at WallyWorld for a buck. Score!)
I used the 'synthetic' setting on my iron which is a medium heat with no steam. Then I litterally squirted some paint into the middle of the stencil and smeared it around with my finger. I waited a minute or so and then pealed off the paper.


I was impressed that even with a ribbed tank, the paint didn't bleed at all and the paper was super easy to pull off of the shirt!
I added some little spots and what-not to the frog and Magoo LOVED IT!!


This was really fun and easy to do. . . I think I'll have to start stocking up on blank shirts and do some for gifts.


The top looked a little naked so I added a dots around the neckline to finish it off.

You could use this idea for just about anything. . .
I saw a couple of people do it on canvas tote bags with spray paint, too.
Cute Cute Cute. . .

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Monday, June 14, 2010

DollarTree Makeover - Bird Tealights


The glass tealight holders were glued in these puppies and they were in there GOOooOOOooD. I didn't want to risk breaking these while trying to pry them out so I just stuffed them with paper and used painters tape to cover all the exposed glass.


I gave them a couple of coats of Ivory spray paint and hit them with some sand paper to rough them up a bit.

Lucky for me, I had the little tan candles from a gift set someone gave me a long time ago and they went perfectly in the candle holder.
My little birds have a happy new home amongst my crazy "Bowl-O-Balls" :D


Confession: I absoulutely HATE birds. . . ask anyone who knows me. . .I can't stand them and I'm scared to death of the real ones. I honestly don't know why I thought these were so cute the other day. Hmmm. . . Maybe I'm having a change of heart about those horrid creatures. . . Maybe not.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Upcycled Soda Tabs

I saw these bracelets made from soda tabs the other day and wanted to give it a try.
They are easy and kind of fun to make. . .


You can make a belts too. My daughter was trying to count how many tabs were in my belt until I stopped her. . . I didn't want to know how many tabs WIDE I was. Hahaha


I used some pink ribbon for Magoo's and threw on a flower for good measure.


She loves to be my little model. :)


The tutorial I used can be found HERE.

Or. . . you could even make a purse like this!
The tutorial for that is found HERE.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Martha Stewart inspired Window Greenhouse

I am linking this to The CSI Project this week:)
Visit thecsiproject.com
As well as The County Chic Cottage's Window Party :D

I was totally inspired by Martha Stewart's GreenHouse window project.
Heres a picture:


I have a window in my kitchen that always grows the best plants but my silly dinning table is there. The table is usually full of whatever I'm trying to sprout at the moment so there isn't much room for everyone to sit for dinner. What a great idea to put some shelves in and stack the plants right in the window. (I use my sill now but there isn't much room. . . only enough for a couple of pots at a time)

Check out Martha's Greenhouse idea and tutorial here.

I really liked the clean look of the glass but didn't really want the headache and hastle of having the pieces cut and edges sanded. Plus, I didn't know if it was worth all the brackets mounted into the window frame or not. . .
Here's what I came up with as an alternative.

I used some old scrap wood that had been hanging out in my mom's backyard since last summer. (You can't complain about FREE. They were planning on hauling it away soon so I salvaged some just in time)
I measured the pieces to fit inside of my kitchen window. I was so proud of myself for actually getting the pieces cut right the first time and not losing any fingers in the process. . . . and WITHOUT any adult suprevision, I might add. hehehe.
This is the frame with a coat of primer on it.
It took a couple of coats of white paint to get the wood so it looked even and clean. . .even AFTER I had primed the sucker. (I also salvaged the paint from left overs my mom had from painting her house. Score!!)


. . . My neighbors probably thought I was a totally weirdo and taking pictures of them through my window. . .
They were standing on the deck and all I could do was giggle to myself imagining what must be going through their heads. It must have been about 11pm or so when I finally got the this up in the window and I was so excited it was done, I whipped out the camera to snap a few. . . in my fuzzy pink bathrobe and everything. . . hahaha


You can't really see it in the pictures, but the top of it is a little thicker and wider wood to make it like an awning. (a little decorative affect, I suppose)
I also added some 'rails' to give it more personality and to prevent the pots from tipping out. (I have cats and kids that like to knock things over so its better safe than sorry I suppose.)


Now all I have to do is wait for them to grow. . . thats the toughest part ;)

Here are is a close up on a couple of pots I painted and made the charms for.

This project barely cost me anything. . . the wood and paint were salvaged so all I was into it was a few nails and screws. . . plus a couple of planters to fill up the shelves.
Awww. . . . I love freebie projects . . . and Martha Stewart. . :)