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  • Cool Coasters From PopsQtool 28 Sep 2014 | 1:09 pm

    I’ve written about the multi-function six-in-one grilling tool from PopsQtool. For $50 you get everything you need…a spatula, fork, knife, grate cleaner, tong and bottle opener. I have one and use it all the time. But what’s really neat is the company also makes laser cut coasters that can be adorned with your BBQ team logo or whatever you’d like on them (aside from sports team logos). Continue reading →

  • Can Beer Make You Smarter? 27 Sep 2014 | 2:42 am

    Apparently, beer is great for writer's block if you're a young mouse. At least, according to a recent scientific study, anyway. Continue reading →

  • Beer: New Mexico Does What It Does Best; Green Chile in Everything 23 Sep 2014 | 7:13 pm

    In the light of last month’s Burn Blog story about Stone’s “beers that burn,” I searched for other options in the world of chile beers, and found one just over the mountains in the east, from Sierra Blanca Brewing Company in Moriarty, New Mexico. Continue reading →

  • Will Mechanical Harvesting Save New Mexico’s Chiles? 22 Sep 2014 | 7:22 pm

    Recently, a device named the “Moses 1010″ rambled through a chile field near Las Cruces, pulling peppers and leaves in a row along the way. The machine is Israeli inventor Elad Etgar's invention. He conducted the harvest demo and named the machine after his late father. Continue reading →

  • Welcome to Smoked Pumpkin Season 21 Sep 2014 | 1:46 pm

    "It's the mooost wonderful tiiime of the yeeeear..." That's what plays in my head when the first sugar pumpkins land in stores each Fall. Not because retailers drop the Christmas hammer too early. No, my mood turns to thoughts of those pumpkins heating low and slow inside my smoker. Continue reading →

  • Savoring a Sweet Takedown: The Savory Side of Dessert — Chopped After Hours 30 Sep 2014 | 8:49 pm FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    Chopped After HoursWhen it comes to creating a successful dessert, it’s often about striking the right balance. Cloyingly sweet is not necessarily how you want to finish a meal, especially on Chopped. When presented with a dessert basket consisting of some of the most-sugary processed items, the two finalists (a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old) on Short Order Cooks stayed mainly within the sweet confines of the basket, whereas the judges take it one step further, bringing in savory notes, but with one holdout: Geoffrey, who says, “I’m going right at the sweetness.”

    “All the best restaurants in the country are sort of tilting away from excessive sweetness,” Ted infers from what Alex and Chris are saying about taking the baskets, containing banana pudding, vanilla ice cream, icing and brownie mix, in a slightly savory direction. “You could kind of just put all this together and be done,” says Alex, baking a warm brownie and topping it with a scoop of ice cream, but “the challenge is to figure out something to make that reinvents what’s here.” Chris adds, “I think that’s the only route you can go,” taking it down a savory road.

    “I’m going for the Americana,” says Alex, using orange juice and zest to blend with the ice cream to create a Creamsicle sherbet. “It’s something I really liked as a kid.” Geoffrey decides to turn the brownie mix into waffles, and he grabs rum and bourbon to make an adult-friendly toasted marshmallow banana milkshake. “I’m doing a dessert quesadilla,” says Chris, partially baking the brownie mix in the microwave to use as the filling. “I would never know that was from a box, a tube and a jar,” Geoffrey tells Alex about her layered brownie sundae, which used dried cherries, bruleed banana and cocoa nibs for a savory effect. Alex is impressed by the “whimsical” nature of Geoffrey’s milkshake and waffles. Chris lives up to his word, going the savory route with his banana, peanut butter and chocolate quesadilla with toasted marshmallow and roasted peanuts.

    Click on the play button on the video above to watch the entire After Hours episode and see the dishes Alex, Geoffrey and Chris created. Then browse behind-the-scenes images for an insider’s look at the cooking.

    Start a conversation with fellow fans and tell FN Dish in the comments below how you would have approached this basket: What would you make out of banana pudding, vanilla ice cream, icing and brownie mix?

    Catch up on past Chopped After Hours episodes by watching all the Web-exclusive battles online.

  • Scripps Networks to Celebrate U.S. Military in First-Ever Hero’s Welcome 30 Sep 2014 | 3:11 pm FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    Hero's WelcomeThis Veterans Day will be a celebration like none other as all-stars from Food Network and HGTV, plus humanitarian Gary Sinise, together with the rest of the Scripps Networks Interactive family, honor Staff Sergeant Tony Woods in a brand-new upcoming special, Hero’s Welcome, premiering Tuesday, Nov. 11.

    A 25-year service member who suffered life-threatening injuries in Iraq, Tony is preparing to retire from the military, but for this dedicated hero, a simple congratulatory party isn’t enough — especially if Robert Irvine and Genevieve Gorder have anything to say about it. On Hero’s Welcome, Robert and Genevieve will work with the Woods’ neighborhood to overhaul Tony and his wife Joedi’s Oahu, Hawaii, home so that’s it’s worthy of not just the couple but also the foster children they welcome into their family. Emotions will be high as Tony and Joedi experience the surprise of their lives when they arrive to find their home transformed and their community at the ready to thank Tony for his selfless service.

    Hero’s Welcome will air across all six Scripps Networks on Tuesday, Nov. 11. For details on when you can catch it on your favorite channel, check out the list below.

    Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 9|8c on Food Network Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 10|9c on Cooking Channel and Great American Country Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 11|10c on HGTV, DIY Network and Travel Channel

    Hero's Welcome

  • Homemade Artisanal Sodas on the Rise 30 Sep 2014 | 2:00 pm FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    Homemade Artisanal Sodas on the Rise“We do a lot of boiling and straining,” said Ross Hunsinger of Atlas Sodaworks as he strode back and forth between the pot of boiling root beer ingredients on the stove and the massive chinois strainer on the counter. As he led the hands-on soda making class at Portland Feast, his excitement about soda-making and soda syrups was definitely about to bubble over.

    artisanal sodaThe availability of artisanal soda brands and soda syrups has been on the rise recently, with consumers now able to pick from their favorite traditional cola to a whole new line of all-natural or boutique brands that have taken the beverage scene by storm. Hunsinger credits the popularity of soda making to both device access (a SodaStream starts at only $79.99) and the availability of soda syrups like the ones he creates at Atlas Sodaworks in Portland, Ore.

    Soda making starts with the basics: water and carbonation. You can use mineral water or tap water, depending on your taste or the quality of your tap water. When carbonating with a SodaStream or a cornelius keg (for large-batch carbonation), the water should be 55 degrees F or colder. Hunsinger prefers his soda with a champagne-level of carbonation, but you can be as aggressive or as relaxed as you prefer.

    Simple syrupOnce you’ve got carbonated water (the bottled variety also works), it’s time to create your own syrup. Hunsinger uses 1.5 parts water to 1 part sugar for his simple syrup because he “loves sugar — there’s nothing better”

    root beer ingredientsFor beginners, try making ginger beer, which requires only three ingredients. You’ll need to strain fresh lemon juice with fresh ginger juice and combine both with the simple syrup before adding your soda water. Root beer is a bit more complicated. To really make it from scratch you’ll need sassafras root bark, wintergreen leaf, sarsaparilla root, licorice root, ginger root, hops flowers, birch bark, cherry tree bark, juniper berries and a cinnamon stick.

    root beerBasically, you’ll be simmering a forest of flavors in a pot of water before straining out all of the ingredients and adding sugar and honey. A note of caution when making root beer, however: The bottle you use will hold the flavors forever, so keep that vessel exclusively for that beverage.

    ginger aleHunsinger recommends experimenting with different ingredients and essential oils, which can add big flavor and brightness to your sodas. And if you don’t want to use any added sugar, swap in homemade fruit juice concentrates or diluted jams for sweetness.

    atlas sodaOf course, you can get your artisanal fix in a bottle too. Soda brand Hotlips features flavors like Marionberry, Black Raspberry and Pear with fruit that’s freshly picked from local farmers. Bruce Cost Ginger Ale uses only fresh ginger to start, then adds whole leaf jasmine tea or passion fruit pulp, depending on the flavor. Even Starbucks is getting in on the soda game with a new line of Fizzio sodas that are made to order in stores. So you can satisfy your thirst whether you’re starting from scratch, carbonating your own with a store-bought syrup or simply picking up your fizz at the supermarket.

    More Soda-Making Tips:

    Sodas for Dessert, The Soda Fountain Cookbook

  • How Low Sugar Supplies and High Prices May Affect Your Sweet Tooth 30 Sep 2014 | 12:00 pm FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    How Low Sugar Supplies and High Prices May Affect Your Sweet ToothHere are two words that could strike fear into the hearts of sweets lovers across America: sugar shortage.

    United States candy companies, including Spangler Candy Co., the maker of Dum Dum Lollipops and candy canes, and Goetze’s Candy Co., which makes the world a better place with its Caramel Creams (a personal favorite), and chocolate manufacturers like Hershey and Chocolate Truffle Co. are contending with low sugar supplies and elevated prices, Bloomberg reports.

    The problem, which stems from a centuries-old tariff-based restriction on sugar imports and a trade dispute with Mexico, persists in the U.S. even though world sugar production is way up. In fact, Bloomberg notes, the discrepancy between the sugar prices in the U.S. and around the world is the biggest it has been in two years.

    So what does that mean to those of us who enjoy a candy bar (or, OK, maybe two) now and again? You guessed it: higher prices in the candy aisle.

    Hershey already announced back in July that it was raising prices by 8 percent to cover the higher cost of dairy, cocoa and nuts. And while declining domestic sugar output could get a jolt, import quotas could be lifted, and the dispute with Mexico could be resolved, it doesn’t seem all that likely that satisfying your sweet tooth will suddenly get cheaper.

    That’s a bitter pill to swallow — especially right before Halloween.

  • From Tampa to Key West: A Taste of Southern Florida — On the Road with the Great Food Truck Race 30 Sep 2014 | 10:00 am FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    The Great Food Truck RaceThis past weekend, the finale of The Great Food Truck Race brought the remaining two teams to Florida. Tyler had the teams on a five-city tour of the state from Tampa to Key West, covering over 4,000 miles. Along the way he had them face challenges that even included cooking alligator in the Everglades. Luckily, they didn’t have to catch their meat first. In the end, one team brought something different to the game and came out on top, earning their own food truck and $50,000 (find out who won).

    Whether you’re looking for seafood specialties in the Keys or Cuban classics in Tampa, you’ll find unique flavors that will have you going back for more in the Sunshine State. Check out all that southern Florida has to offer with these top 10 restaurant selections.

    Tampa Bay Brewing Company — Tampa, Fla.
    With an on-site brewery and 12 house beers on tap, this family-owned spot proves that beer’s not just for drinking. The kitchen infuses a bevy of entrees with brews, from the crispy wings with Red Eye Ale cider sauce to the Thai Curry Mussels with Wild Warthog Weizen.

    Jose’s Real Cuban Food — Bradenton, Fla.
    One bite of Jose Baserva’s Lechon Asado at Jose’s Real Cuban Food and you’ll know they’re the real deal. Cuban-born Jose uses his mother’s recipes in recreating authentic Cuban sandwiches and mouthwatering piccadillo, which Jose calls Cuban ground beef.

    Danny’s All-American Diner & Dairy Bar — Tampa, Fla.
    Athletics and food unite at this diner where all the burgers are named after sports Hall of Famers. Try the Triple D Triple Play burger with mojo pork and pastrami, invented by Guy. If you’re not afraid to get messy, try the juicy chili cheeseburger or the Cuban with capicola and Genoa salami.

    Taco Bus — Tampa, Fla.
    The Taco Bus operates out of a 35-foot school bus and is always open. The torta chilorio is filled with pulled pork, cheese, cilantro, cabbage and tomatoes, and is a must-try while you’re there. The butternut squash tostada, hailing from the Yucatan, is a fan favorite for its good texture.

    California Tacos to Go — Tampa, Fla.
    If you head over to California Tacos to Go in Tampa, Fla., expect a quick, alfresco experience. They serve their tacos in an outdoor patio only. Try the California fish taco, made with super thinly sliced cabbage slaw and spicy white chile sauce.

    Keegan’s Seafood Grille — Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.
    In Indian Rocks Beach, you’ll find Keegan’s Seafood Grille, a local favorite where the cuisine has a Mediterranean twist. Stop by for the gumbo, grouper sandwich and Keegan’s She-Crab Soup

    Munch’s — St. Petersburg, Fla.
    Before Munch’s became the go-to spot for fried chicken and shepherd’s pie, it was Munch’s Restaurant & Sundries, selling candy and toys, and even acting as a post office. Today the restaurant has become an institution, serving tasty hash and creamed chipped beef, two of its specialties.

    Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish — South Pasadena, Fla.
    At this smokehouse, you won’t want to leave without trying on the mullet. And it isn’t what you think. The mullet is prepared as it has been done for more than 50 years, smoked in red oak, and it simply tastes like heaven.

    The Fish House Restaurant & Seafood Market — Key Largo, Fla.
    When you’re in Key Largo, stop by The Fish House, where Chef Matt Selgado offers the freshest seafood around. Try their specialty dish, Mahi Mahi Matecumbe.

    Blue Heaven Restaurant — Key West, Fla.
    Blue Heaven Restaurant inspired Jimmy Buffett to write the song “Blue Heaven Rendezvous.” Whether you’re here for musical inspiration or not, the Caribbean cuisine is worth staying for.

    Find more recommended restaurants around the nation with Food Network On the Road.

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