Thursday, March 31, 2011


In the last month I have started a series of DYI projects. I have started growing mushrooms in my basement. I have a batch of home-made wine brewing. I am starting a garden and have many others in store for you. Over this period of time, we have made a concise decision to make healthier choices in our everyday eating. Now don't get me wrong, we still enjoy all the great comfort food that you have seen me make on this site, but we do that more on the weekends and try to eat a little healthier during the week. My latest DYI adventure is to make homemade sodas and flavored waters. Well I found a great little kit from the folks at SodaStream. We recently got the JET model soda maker from SodaStream. This has been a great addition to our kitchen. If you looking for a long tedious project this is not for you. If you are looking for an easy, inexpensive way to made homemade sodas and flavored waters for you family, this is is! It is FAST - EASY AND FUN!

The SodaStream is a great investment in your families health. You can make great tasting sodas with less sugar and additive than the store bought colas and at just a portion of the cost. Now I know what you are thinking. Your thinking it won't taste as good. Your right it taste better! My kids love the taste, I have actually set a bottle of a major brand cola and a bottle of the SodaStream cola next to each other on the table and told them to pick which one they wanted a glass of - and they picked the SodaStream! We have not bought pop at the store in over a month! The nice thing is they like it and it is better for them!

Now many people like the very distinct taste of the brand of cola they have been drinking for years. SodaStream has many flavors with comparable taste. In fact it is noted on the bottle of the mixes. You can get over a dozen different flavor of soda, plus tea's, tea's, tonic water, seltzer and energy drinks. They also have a series of flavored waters, that have a great light taste!

OK - now your thinking this is going to be a really expensive project. Wrong again! Number 1 - Chef Dad lives on a tight budget, so if this was going to be an expensive toy, I would not have it! Number two I ran the numbers! Say you buy a 1 liter bottle of name brand cola at the store, every week for 2 years and it cost you about $1.79 per bottle. Over a 2 year period it will cost you a total of $186.16. If you purchase a SodaStream kit for about $79 and make a two half liters every week for 2 years! It will cost you about $146 for 2 years worth of soda. That includes the cost of your machine, your flavor mix and carbonation! Then your saving will grow even further after the cost of the machine is absorbed! With the state of the economy these days, I love to find products like the SodaStream, I want to save money and provide healthier, tastier food for my family!

Now let me tell you how easy this is, all you need to make these great drinks at home is - a SodaStream fountain, cold tap water, SodaStream flavor mix and 45 seconds! To see just how easy this is. check out this video!

Unlike the national brands that come in liter bottles and often go flat before you finish them. The SodaStream is made in a 1/2 liter bottle and you can make any flavor you want in a smaller batch! My kids love the Rootbeer, my wife likes the flavored waters and I have on of the Energy Drinks before every workout! 3 small bottles, 3 flavors and no waste! I highly recommend this to all families!

So how do you get one? You can order one online right from SodaStream at You can get them nationally at Bed Bath and Beyond, they have had them in their ad lately! For all my folks here in Omaha, you can get them at the Afternoon Stores! We ever you go - Tell them Chef Dad Omaha sent you!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

I like my coffee! and if I am going to eat chocolate, its got to be dark chocolate.
Several years ago I bought some chocolate covered coffee beans from a candy vendor that stopped in to my office. These things were awesome! I chowed that bag down in a few days. Well shortly after that I left that job and was not able to track down that candy vendor.
So after getting a bag of some Eight O'Clock Bokar Coffee Beans, I decided to try and make my own. So I did! Well they didn't look as pretty as the one's I got from the candy vendor, but they tasted even better!

1 Cup of your favorite roasted coffee bean (I used Eight O'Clock Bokar Beans)
1 Cup of dark chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of powdered sugar

Using a double boiler melt the dark chocolate chips and butter. Make sure to mix through out the melting. Once the mixture starts to get good and melted add the powdered sugar and mix well. Once the mixture is completely melted, add the beans and mix well.
Then remove from the heat.
Immediately spoon the mixture on to a paper sack or sheet of wax paper. Make sure to separate in to bite size pieces.
Once that is done put them in to the refrigerator for 2 hours. Then it is time to eat!

This makes a small batch, so try them out and I am sure you will like them!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

This Thursday is St. Patrick's Day. In this area you have a ton of great places to drink green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage! I would like to share with you a great place that I have gone for my corned beef lunch or dinner for years. Not only do they have some of the best corned beef in town but they are a wonderful group that does incredible things in the community. This corned beef dinner is hosted by the Tangiers Shriners here in Omaha.

The Tangier Shrine is a Chapter of the Shriners International.

"Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. There are approximately 340,000 members from 193 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Panama.

Shriners International supports Shriners Hospitals for Children®, a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to age 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay."

So if you are looking for a GREAT corned beef dinner with all the fixin's and have the proceeds go to help an organization that helps so many children in Omaha and across the country, check out the Corned Beef Dinner at Tangier Shrine!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

King Cake Recipe

King Cake is a tradition Mardi Gras treat. I made this for my family Monday night and we enjoyed it on Fat Tuesday with our Dirty Rice!

Check out Wikipedia for the history of the King Cake

2 envelopes active dry yeast or 4-1/2 teaspoons of dry active yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 sticks melted butter
1 cup warm milk for dough
3 tablespoons of milk for icing
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup of brown sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon 7up
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 packages of soft Cream Cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
Colored Sugars Purple, green, and gold are traditional King Cake colors (but I subbed pink for purple because my daughters love pink)

I used my stand up Kitchen-aid mixer
Combine the yeast and sugar in the bowl mix with well with paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and warm milk. Beat at low for about a minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, then beat for on low for about a minute. Then I changed to the dough hook then add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and 7up mix well. Increase the speed and mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball.
Place dough in a larger oiled bowl and cover with saran wrap and let rise for 2 hours in a warm dry place.

For the filling combine the cream cheese and brown sugar. Whip with a mixer until mixture is nice and creamy

After your dough rises roll your dough out into a long, narrow piece about 8” x 24”

Spread your filling onto your dough – evenly all across the dough. Then roll you dough up like a jelly roll. The take you ring and form a circle and neatly attached the ends to for a circle

Cover the ring with saran wrap and rise again for about 30-45 minutes.

Set oven for 350 and bake for 30 minutes

Let cool completely!!! - no seriously if you don’t let it cool completely you icing will melt off.

ICING. Combine 3 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, and the vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix well with a whisk or electric mixer. Spread icing over you cooled cake. Sprinkle colored sugars – alternating the colors in 3 inch strips around the cake.

Cut and enjoy