Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Prime Rib on a Hamburger Budget

Prime Rib in a 2010 World.

Recently I've done some experimenting with the salt crust cooking method. I've wanted to find some alternatives to the Prime Rib roast that taste great but aren't as expensive. I've had good and bad times and I know what it's like to not be able to afford Prime Rib roast even for Christmas. (I remember not being able to afford meat for long periods of time.)

So here are two options.

Watch this video to learn about cooking with a salt crust (great taste and not salty) and then try it with these options.

Advanced Prime Rib Video

Chuck Roast: $3.26 a pound or less.

As you can see it came out great. The taste and texture was wonderful although you have to cut around some of the fattier, tougher parts. Easy to do and you can save a lot.

Bottom Round Roast $2.86 a pound:

This worked well when it was cut thin and was hot, but once it cooled it got tough.

So those are some options for a nice tender roast for that big meal that won't break the bank.

Cook well and have a Happy New Year.

Rob Barrett


Monday, December 21, 2009

Fast and Easy Christmas Appetizer recipes

I was recently asked to come up with some fast and easy Christmas appetizers for a TV appearance. These are really delicious and couldn’t be easier. Best of all they can be made ahead and don’t need to be served hot. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Cucumber, Pomegranate and Bacon Canape

Thinly sliced Cucumber

thin spread of low fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese

cover with Pomegranate seeds

Sprinkle with bacon bits.

serve chilled.

Raspberry Pecan Canape

Rice Cracker

thin spread of low fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese

a dab of Raspberry Jelly

one pecan.

Serve and enjoy

Kiwi and Raspberry Canape

Thinly sliced Kiwi

a dab of sour cream

one raspberry

serve and enjoy.

Whatever you make, have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Years.

Rob Barrett


Saturday, November 28, 2009

What to do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

I love turkey sandwiches. Once in college by roommates and I made a turkey after Thanksgiving because we had missed out on the leftovers back home. but after a couple days, the meat is a little dried out and I could really use a new version.
Enter the Thanksgiving Leftover Calzone. (My sister taught me this)
You make a basic pizza dough (see video) and then layer on one half,
turkey, (keep layers small)
mashed potatoes
and some bloops of cranberry sauce.
beat one egg and brush it over the top.
Cook it at 350 for 15 minutes or until just brown.
Slice it and pour gravy over the top.
I have the whole recipe in this video, including the dough.
Try it, it is surprisingly good.
Here’s the video
cook well, It’s worth it.
Rob Barrett

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cooking a Turkey, Some Advanced Ideas.

Cooking a turkey is one of my favorite things to do. I highly recommend one person make the turkey and another take on the sides.

If you've never made a turkey before follow the link below. It's an easy step by step video recipe that will help anyone have a great, delicious Thanksgiving Turkey.

If you've made a turkey lots of times before but want some new ideas, here are some options for that wonderful traditional bird.

1. Try a brine. It's a salty mix that you soak your thawed turkey in for 12 - 24 hours. This is a store bought one but there are lots of recipes on the web for brines. Basically, disolve the brine in a gallon of boiling water, let it return to room temp (for me that means putting ice in it until it cools.) add aonther gallon of water (minus the ice :-)) Put turkey in bucket and pour brine over turkey and make sure turkey is completely covered. Put in the refrigerator (or if you live in Minnesota, out on the deck or anywhere that's not inside. :-)) for 12 - 24 hours.

I of course didn't plan far enough ahead so It only brined for 5 hours.

2. place butter under the skin. Use a rubber spatula to loosen the skin on the breast and spread a layer of butter under skin. Make sure the skin doesn't get punctured.

3. Slice a lemon and an orange and put it in the cavity. It gives a sparkly top end to the taste. I highly recommend it.

4. add one or two handfuls of pomegranate seeds to the stuffing. add it right after you finished fluffing it with a fork and it's still hot. Add the seeds and stir. That way a little of the juice gets mixed in with the stuffing but the seeds maintain integrity.

Here's a video where all of these are shown.

Have a great Thanksgiving,

Cook well,
Rob Barrett

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Imagine .. a world with no cooking, a raw food adventure.

Imagine there are no ovens.
Imagine no microwaves
Imagine no dairy or meat

We went to this place tonight. It was called Ecopolitan and is the only raw restaurant in Minneapolis. I was actually in the mood for a burger but we promised our friends we'd go with them. The menu was really different with lots of things in quotes. There was "pizza" with "cheese" and even "sausage." I was a little nervous.

We started out with the "Na-cho Cheese" plate that, of course had no cheese. It was "cheese" made out of pine nuts and served with dehydrated chips of nuts and dates. Believe it or not, it was really, really good.

Then I ordered the "Raw-violi" that was made from beet noodles and filled with cashew cheese with a ginger sauce. While not like pasta, it was incredibly flavourful and one really interesting and delicious dish.

The rest of the table got "pizzas". My favorite was the pineapple pizza but all three were great.

We ended the night with a pumpkin pie that had no pumpkin. Instead it was made from a cashew paste that really tasted like pumpkin.

I have no idea how they make that stuff and how it comes out tasting so good. There wasn't anything we didn't like. My wife said at the end, "This is the most exciting restaurant I've been to in years." I'm sure we'll be back.

Ecopolitan, 24th and Lyndale, Minneapolis

Rob Barrett

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Super Easy Chicken Parmesan

There's a time for everything: a time to cook and a time to go out; a time to fry and a time to bake; a time to make something complex and time for a super easy one.

While there are many recipes for chicken parmesan, I think I've found the easiest possible one.  (Don't confuse easy with not tasting great.) You can look other recipes up on the web and choose the one that's won the most awards or, by the time you've found it, you you could be done cooking this one.

So here goes. give it a try and let me know what you think.


3 chicken breats

1 bottle pasta sauce

1 block parmesan cheese

1 egg scrambled

salt and pepper

olive oil



Cut chicken breast in half and flatten to about 1/2 inch.

add salt and pepper

Beat one egg and pour into plate

grate parmesan cheese and place on separate plate.

dip in chicken in egg, and then in parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in pan on high heat

cook chicken 1 minute each side or until done.

Heat pasta sauce in microwave and spread on plate.

Place chicken on top and serve.

Cook well, 

Rob Barrett

Cooking for Dads

Sunday, October 25, 2009


While there are many things I would like to forget, there are some days it's good to remember.

14 years ago today our second daughter, Ashley, died from multiple birth defects. She fought valiantly but in the end their combined affects were too much and she passed on, only spending a brief 12 hours on this earth. While her time was small her impact wasn't.  Her short visit has afforded us the opportunity to share, encourage, bond, grieve, teach, question, doubt, hope, grow, and somehow find ways to love each other and enjoy life more (although much of that took quite some time to develop).

One of the ways we mark these days is through some family rituals.  While they didn't start out that way, the things we did early on were serendipitously repeated and now have become mandatory customs of the Barrett family.

One of the most meaningful to me is lighting the Memorial Candle.

It's a custom with Hebraic roots where you light a candle and let it burn for 24 hours.  For me it symbolizes the presence of our daughter for that short time.  We even put it on a table in the hallway so it flickers throughout the night. I dread letting it go out when the wax is gone. That's the saddest part for me.

One of the other things we really enjoy is eating lunch at the grave site.

Every year we go to a certain Uptown Lund's Grocery Store and everyone gets to pick out what they want to eat.  We bring a blanket to sit on and enjoy a lunch with our third daughter.  October weather can be uncooperative but we always soldier through.  Lund's used to carry puppy chow and that became an important part of the meal.  In recent years they've stopped making it so we have to make it at home and bring it. (recipe below) The meal wouldn't be the same without it.

Years ago we planted an apple tree in the backyard as a memorial.  Every year around this time we enjoy apples from our Ashley tree.  We also have a wall where we've posted some pictures and memories.

As I sit here and watch our Memorial Candle start to fade and sputter, I'm glad the kids are so attached to these events.  They take great comfort in them. We may have let them slide if they didn't insist that we go to the same grocery store every year, do our meal regardless of the weather and always get puppy chow.

Not for 12 hours but for eternity.

Rob Barrett

Cooking for Dads

Memorial Puppy Chow Mix.

1 C chocolate chips

1/2 C peanut butter

1/4 C butter

Melt that together over medium heat, then turn off burner and add one spoonful of vanilla. Stir.

Stir in 6 cups of Rice Chex until coated.  

Add 1 1/2 C powdered sugar and toss to coat.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brussels Sprouts For All or How To Get Your Kids To Eat Broccoli.

I always hated Brussels Sprouts.  Who doesn't or didn't.?  They are often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of yucky things to eat. 

Recently, I've found a way of cooking them so that not only will my kids eat them, but Brussels Sprouts have become one of their favorite vegetables.  This cooking method also works great for broccoli, which is now their second favorite. Don't believe me, try it.

Start by washing the sprouts and them cutting them in half long ways. 

Then take about an inch of butter and melt it in a frying pan over medium heat.  

After it melts, spread it around the pan until it starts to bubble slightly.  Let it bubble for around 2 minutes until it just turns slightly brown. (Browned Butter)

Then add your Brussels Sprouts (or Broccoli) sliced side down. Work in just one layer at at time, each sliced flat side needs to be in contact with the pan. 

 Let them cook that way for around 3 minutes or until the bottoms begin to get a slightly charred brown edge. 

Flip them over or just toss for another 4 minutes until thoroughly cooked.  

Add salt and pepper and serve hot.

Really, my kids love these and especially when I do it with broccoli.  It takes on a corn flavor that's slightly sweet. Try it and let me know what you think.

Rob Barrett, Jr.

Cooking for Dads

Friday, October 9, 2009

Apple Cider Flat Bread.

Every once in a while I try something new for the sake of trying something new.  Here's a fun, fall bread that everyone will like - very moist and yet crunchy like a cracker on the bottom.  Let me know what you think.

Apple Cider Flat Bread

Take 1 1/2 cup Apple Cider or Apple Juice, just slightly warmed.

add 1 spoonful yeast,  stir


In large bowl combine:

3 c flour

1 spoonful sugar

1/2 sp salt

add 1" melted butter to cider and yeast mixture, stir

add juice mixture to flour mixture and stir for 1 minute until completely combined.

Cover and let rise for 3 hours

Cover 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Grab a handful of dough and form into a crude round flat loaf about 1/2" high.

drizzle loaves with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt, sesame seeds,  parmesan cheese and let rise for 30 more minutes. 

bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until just brown, cut in 3rds and serve.

©2009 Cooking for Dads

Cook well, it's worth it.

Rob Barrett


Monday, October 5, 2009

How To Please Fans of Rival Teams, or Chicken Roll Ups As Peacemakers.

Are you a house divided? Did you marry a fan of the rival team from yours?  My friends the Petersons tell me they had huge fights early in their marriage every time the Packers played the Vikings.  (I think they worked it out, they're still married with 4 kids)
But tonight should be a doozy. The Packers come to Minneapolis to take on the Vikings with Bret Farve now as a Viking.  I will keep them in my prayers.

If you are having  a party with rival fans here's a fun way to make everyone happy.

First follow the recipe for Chicken Roll Ups on my website but use the Pillsbury Baking Sheet. (just like the Crescent Roll Dough but with out the perforations)  

Once the filling is made, cut the dough in to large squares and then cut off the 4 corners.  Place a big pile of the filling mixture in the middle and form up into a football form.  Place seam down on a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it. Take some of the excess dough and twist in to thin strips to make the laces. Press down on to the top of the football.

Beat one egg and brush over top of roll up.  Put in preheated oven at 375 for 12 minutes or until just browned.

Make the sauce with 1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup (I recommend Campbell's low fat, I've tried some grocery store brands and they come out lumpy.) and a half of a can of milk.

Then the fun part.  Separate the sauce in to two parts.  In my case one for the Vikings and one for the Packers.  Add 3 drops of red food coloring and 2 of blue to the Vikings sauce

 and 3 drops of green to the Packers sauce.  (adjust as needed)

Add some to bottom of plate and place baked roll up in the middle.

Super fun, and if the Packer Fan won't eat the green sauce give them grief and shame for not being a real fan.

Go Vikes!

Rob Barrett

Cooking for Dads