Ace Muncher

Summer *Chicken* Soup

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DSCF1704DOES ANYONE ELSE COOK soup in the summer?  I find soup the easiest thing to make, clean up, and freeze.  Chicken is still my favorite.

A four-pack of thighs is about five bucks.  That’s the base.  Just one thigh, and freeze the rest.  One thigh in a pot with a quart of water + one cup to cover what will boil off.  Peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaf.  Simmer about 40 minutes, check the chicken, maybe another 10 minutes.  Eat the chicken.

When the broth cools, strain into a quart container.  *Hey, I made the right amount again with no waste;  guess the rule is to add 25% more water of the amount of broth with which you wish to end?

After a day or two in the fridge, you can skim and discard the pancake of fat.  Sometimes I let it go a week, but longer than that, I will bring the broth to a boil again before using.

So you need the broth, an onion, and a handful of carrots and celery .  And some noodles.  And some chicken;  I’ve been using either the chicken thigh, if I didn’t eat it, or a can of Costco chicken.

Now the easiest part.  Chop the onion and throw it in the pot over some olive/canola oil. On medium.  Add the chopped carrot and celery.  When cooked, about 8~12 minutes, dump in the broth and bring it to a boil.  Add a handful of egg noodles. READ THE DIRECTIONS.  Reduce to medium simmer.  6 minute noodles?  Add the chicken at 4 minutes *use a timer* and test the noodles in another two.

After the chicken goes in, I add more thyme, salt, and pepper.  And I TASTE IT.  That is one of the tricks to cooking.  Tasting as you go.  Another is being aware of time.

Remove from heat when the noodles are ALMOST done.  By the time you tidy up the kitchen, wash whatever you dirtied, and get out a bowl, spoon, and glass of water, the soup will have come together.

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Mojo Yogurt ◊ Tempe AZ

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10401267_68846658768_5607386_nWhen the tummy says “Eat” but you want something light and healthy, nothing can beat fresh ice cream-like yogurt from MOJO.  Dozens of flavors!  Self-serve soft-serve!  Pay only for what you serve yourself.

My favorite?  Banana with chocolate sprinkles -called “Jimmies” east of the Mississippi.  Magnet Muncher goes for multiple varieties of chocolate topped with strawberries and more chocolate.  The repeating theme which nurtures mind and body.

If you don’t immediately take a chair and sample your way through your choice, head a little further north along Mill Avenue to Tempe Town Lake. A nice place to sit, savor, and chat with a dear friend.  I’ve never made it a dozen steps outside MOJO, however, before beginning my treat.  A bench in an adjacent courtyard allows one contemplation of their Just Desserts.  There will be plenty of time for a walk afterwards!  : – )

Paul, @ MOJO in Tempe says, “Hi! Come on in!”

paul at mojo tempe

Ncounter • Tempe AZ

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ncounter tempe  exterior bI’ve been eating more frozen yogurt.  And favor the self-serve shops.  The kind with 20 flavors, toppings, get what you want, throw it on the scale, pay, and enjoy.  And I notice this breakfast/lunch place with outdoor seating next to my fav yogurt joint.  Lots of college kids, busy, plenty of staff, so I figure, why not?  Wow, it turns out,  what a hip place!

paul at mojo tempeOne positive sign in a restaurant: smells good.  Another?  Busy, with plenty of staff.  The second might mean more to me, in case I have a cold.  It means their cash flow is good;  they are not cutting staff, cutting portions, pushing the expiration date of plated product.

After a second foray into Ncounter, I got facts.  Grudgingly, with suspicion, Danny the manager came to our table.  Interview and camera shy, he nevertheless filled in some gaps.  Dan-Dan started as a busboy with the family 15 years ago, and has worked every position in the place.  They attract the BIG THREE.  College kids, locals, and area workers.  The food has always been good, they buy local, they start with quality.  Good business plan.

Tempe is a super-hip college town with big business within walking distance of a vibrant Main Street . . . Mill Avenue, it’s called, if you are into accuracy and stuff.  Ncounter’s founders have been in the food business for decades, and it shows.  Fair portions, excellent quality, and even more important, healthy and tasty.  And great  quality.  Which is worth mentioning twice, because restaurants usually make their buck off filling you up without regard for sodium and fats.  Here, you’ll feel good leaving the table.  Hours later, you won’t have “diner indigestion”, for sure!

ncounter tempe menu    ncounter tempe interior

Muffins Worth Stealing

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DSCF1681Being Mr Popular is difficult.  Because you’ll be asked to make this recipe again and again and again . . .

Well , ya take two thawed sticks of unsalted butter.  Place them in a two-cup Pyrex® measuring cup, nuke ≤ two minutes or until wet.  Set aside to cool.

Take a big bowl.  Throw it on the scale and zero it out.

Add 13.125 ounces of flour.  If no scale, 3 carefully measured cup.  Two cups sugar.  I usually use a cup and a half instead of two cups.  Two teaspoons baking powder, one tsp baking soda, and a half tsp salt.  Use a straight edge on your spoons for precise measurements.

DSCF1667Sift this stuff into your KitchenAid mixing bowl. Set it on the stand with a batter mixer and mix this dry stuff at lowest setting. Add the cooled liquid butter and let that mix. Again, lowest setting. Stop periodically to turn over the edges, bottom, and mixer attachment. Wash the big bowl and put it away.

In yer buttery Pyrex® add ¾ cup milk, two x-large eggs (or three little ones), two
teaspoons vanilla, and a couple mashed bananas. Too much vanilla is a problem. Take care.

Dump this in the mixing bowl. Mix on low just enough to combine. About ten seconds.

DSCF1671DSCF1669Preheat the oven with one rack in the middle. 350˚ Fahrenheit

Add a cup each chopped walnuts, granola, and shredded coconut (sweetened is fine). Quick mix. Add one or two chopped bananas. Short mix.

Always mix on low. You can’t really over-mix the dry and the butter as long as DSCF1672you stay on low. Take care to barely mix the 2nd wet, the milk/egg/vanilla. Because there is more mixing to come.

You’ll be left with a pretty stiff batter. A tablespoon heaped will fill a cupcake liner. I use the paper ones, Reynolds 2.5″ baking cups. The paper pastel ones are cheapest. Not quite filling the cups should give you 24 muffins.

DSCF1665Bake 12 at a time. Turn the tray after ten minutes. At 18 minutes total, take them out if the top looks browned and check them with a toothpick. Any stuff on the pick, put them back another 90 to 180 seconds.

The first batch will have more of the chunks in it and the second batch will have more wet in it. I’ve found that a wet batch takes almost 22 minutes to bake, while a really dry batch might take 16.5 or 17 minutes.

The tray comes out, rests on a cooling sheet, and you dump the muffins to cool, like, at least five minutes. Fifteen if better.

They freeze really well. If you like this, try my slaw <—dinky linky

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Casa Denogean • Superior, AZ

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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 11.44.17 AMAFTER A SUPER LOVELY STROLL through Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, Ace Muncher and Magnet Muncher were on the prowl for vittles.  Only three miles to the east lies the historic town of Superior.  A quick drive drive along Rt-60, we roll into Superior.  Halfway between here and there, the restaurant seems to cater to the mid-week worker lunch crowd.

oService was just fast enough to indicate a busy restaurant where everyone pitches in with the cooking and serving.  A simple menu, no foo-foo “creations”.  Instead, we got what we would have made at home, but it was a little better.  Sort of like my friend’s mom’s cooking.

Three people can come out of there filled and ready for action (or a nap!) for under twenty bucks, soft drinks and tip included!  A definite stop-over the next time I’m visiting the area!

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