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Turkey is well established as the go-to protein of Thanksgiving. Christmas it isn’t so clear. I grew up on ham for Christmas. Many bring the bird back one month later for another go-around. Those things are good and all, but Christmas only comes once a year. I say it’s time to roast a big chunk of beef. The best two options are beef tenderloin and prime rib. I have been told that warehouse stores like Costco are the best plays to get these hunks of cow as the best prices. Is it true? I headed out to my local Costco to find the answer.

Meat Price
Choice Ribeye Roast Boneleess $9.99/lb
The same hunk of meat that Ribeye steaks are cut from. A lot of flavor and a good option if you don't want to deal with the bone.
Choice Standing Rib Roast $9.69/lb
I myself prefer bone-in meat. It means more flavor. This is my favorite meat for Christmas dinner. Christmas is a special time of year and this is the only time of year where you can easily find this roast. This is what Prime Rib is cut from except this is Choice beef not prime beef. My Costco did not have any true Prime Rib during my visit. Even with choice beef you can have a steakhouse-like experience in your own home. I suggest using Alton Brown's recipe.
Choice Seasoned Standing Rib Roast $10.69/lb
This is a rib roast that has already been seasoned for you. You are you going to pay a $1 per pound for this and if you are talking about a 6 pound roast that's $6 more you are paying to have it seasoned for you. Save the money and do it yourself.
Choice Whole Beef Tenderloin $12.99/lb
Another Christmas favorite is roasting a whole beef tenderloin. It's super tender. Although I think the rib roast has more flavor. This is a good option if you want to leaner especially if you have already eaten way too many Christmas cookies.
Choice Peeled Beef Tenderloin $19.99/lb
Here is a beef tenderloin that has been peeled and trimmed for you. Tenderloin has a tough layer on the outside called silver skin that you should remove as it is not edible. It's not that easy to do. It is also missing what is called the chain meat which is small side piece of meat that has a lot of flavor and can be used to make a delicious beef sandwich. I think to save $7 a pound it is worth your time and effort to learn how to prep the tenderloin yourself. Below you will find a YouTube video showing you how.

These prices aren’t bad and are definitely better than a high end grocery store. However make sure you do a bit of shopping around. You may found better sales at large chain stores. For example, my local Meijer store will have a Certified Angus Standing Rib Roast for $7.99/lb during Christmas week. The prices are comparable to Sam’s Club as you can see in my Sam’s Club version of this post. Although my Sam’s Club did not offer the Standing Rib Roast.

Sam’s Club Christmas Beef Tenderloin & Prime Rib Prices 2014

in Meat Buying Guide

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We are getting ever so close to one of the most antiipated days of the year – Christmas Day. How is your shoppping going? Have you been done for weeks or have you not even started? Whether you are in early shopper or a late one, most people probably pick out what they will eat on Christmas Day as one of their last decisions. And if you are still wondering what you might make, consider a large chunk of beef, available at your local Sam’s Club. People want to know how much that will set that back. I made a visit to my Sam’s Club in Ypsilanti, Michigan on Wednesday, December 17th to see what they had.

Meat Price
Emmbe Prime Rib $12.98/lb
This prime rib comes in a sealed packaged coated with spices and is hardwood smoked. It's not a huge portion so you would might need more than 1 of these to sufface or choose another option.
Whole Beef Tenderloin $12.98/lb
No cut of beef is more melt in your mouth than the tenderloin. I have cooked it for Christmas in the past. You can cut it into steaks and serve up some filet mignon or roast the thing whole (I like Alton Brown's method)
Choice Rib Eye Roast $9.98/lb
The biggest cut of beef I found on this trip was their Rib Eye Roast. It's the same cut that butcher cut rib eye steaks from. Very flavorful and the cheapest of the three options. Below you will find a video showing you how to cook one with a roasted garlic sauce. The person in the video cooked it to a high temperature that I would recommend. I would pull it at about 135 to 140 for medium. She pulls it at 150 for medium but with carry over heat it looks just barely pink. I would like more pink in mine but to each their own. Realize that the center will be the pinkest. If you have guests that want it more well done you can serve them the end pieces.

I have been studying for months whether a membership to Sam’s Club is worth the price. So in each case I examine whether or not an item will save me money by buying it there. In this case, I can get a Rib Eye Roast from Kroger for $8.99/lb and I know that several local grocery store chains have whole beef tenderloin for under $10/lb. Sorry, Sam’s Club the prices on these items does not justify a membership in this case. Shop around and if you can’t get a better deal in your area. For some, Sam’s Club still might be the better option. Know your options and don’t assume that Sam’s Club membership alone is going to bring you the best bargain.

Best Zyliss Christmas Gifts

in Products I Like

Zyliss Christmas Gift Ideas

This post includes product recommendations. This is my honest opinion on what the best product I think is to buy and what I would purchase for myself. You will find Amazon affiliate links but I have not been paid by the maker of this product to endorse it.

I have not been shy sharing that Alton Brown and his show Good Eats has played the most influential role in my love of food and cooking. This creative show not only taught me about the food itself but also about the tools used to make the food. Good Eats was where I was introduced to Zyliss, a Swiss company founded in 1948 by Karl Zysset. It all started with a garlic press and since then they have introduced some wonderful and colorful tools to make the cook’s life easier in the kitchen. Some of my favorite products of theirs are basic tools, but done in a fantastic way. To learn more about them check out this video. After that I will get into some of their products I personally recommend as gifts.

Zyliss Handheld Pizza Wheel
This was their first tool to check my attention. It’s a pizza cutter that doesn’t have a handle. Might sound strange at first. This cutter just has a plastic cover over the wheel. This allows your hand to be closer to the action and gives you greater control, making it easier to apply the right pressure to cut through pizza. I use it a lot to cut through raw dough, like when I am making homemade crackers. It’s also super easy to clean because you can completely remove the metal wheel. Now the plastic on mine did break after many years of use. It broke where the metal wheel attaches. I plan to replace it soon and when I do I will have an extra metal wheel as a backup.

Zyliss Fruit Peeler
No doubt my favorite peeler. I love this thing. It’s meant to be used on soft fruit, but I use it as main peeler. I have peeled peaches with it and was able to get the skin off without cutting too much into the fruit. It’s easy to hold onto as well as to clean. I have had it for several years and it’s still doing a wonderful job.

Zyliss 5.5-Inch Kitchen Knife
I own this knife. The best part about it is that it comes with a protective sheath. This keeps the knife protected and sharp in the drawer. This is also handy if you need travel with it, such as going camping, you have the perfect choice. I take it with us on all our camping trips. The purple color is pretty too!

Zyliss Stainless Steel 4-Inch Serrated Paring Knife
I bring this knife along camping too. Useful for the small jobs.

Zyliss Metal Ice-Cream Scoop
Another Zyliss item I was introduced to by Alton Brown. This scoop is easy to use. The handle fits your hand like a glove and the way the shape of the scoop makes it easy to really dig into the ice cream and come out with a perfect looking scoop, even when the ice cream is rock hard. I also have used this scoop for removing seeds from pumpkins and other hard squash.

Zyliss Stainless Steel Cheese Knife
This knife slices through cheese with ease and is easy to hold. It has an inner blade that you can use for thin slices of hard or semi-soft cheeses. If the cheese is too soft it doesn’t work. Most of the time I just use the main blade. I also like the tip on the end that makes it easy to serve the cheese.

Zyliss Silicone Spatula
This is a strong spatula that is stiff enough to get the job done while still having some bend to it. Comes in a many colors to fit your style and kitchen.

Zyliss Meat Tenderizer
Before I wrote this post, I contacted the company asking them about some of their new products, they said one of their more popular new items is their meat tenderizer. This tenderizer has a pins that get pushed down right into the meat. I have a similar device that is designed a bit differently – but works much better than a mallet tenderizer, which is a glorified hammer in my opinion. They just rip the meat, where these pin style tenderizer actually do the job they are set out to. I use them whenever I make Alton Brown’s Swiss Steak.

Best Ball Jar Items for Christmas

in Products I Like

Ball Christmas Gift Ideas

This post includes product recommendations. This is my honest opinion on what the best product I think is to buy and what I would purchase for myself. You will find Amazon affiliate links but I have not been paid by the maker of this product to endorse it.

I have to say right now that the concept of canning is not on my mind at all. With my garden virtually dead of every living thing besides the kale struggling to hold on and a few select herbs. However, that doesn’t mean that I am not thinking about Ball Jars. In fact I think there are some great items from Ball that you can give away as Christmas gifts, even if the receiver isn’t going to can something for another 6 months (or ever!). Ball isn’t just for canning enthusiasts anymore.

Below I assembled a list of items that would make wonderful gifts this holiday season.

Sip and Straw Lids
When we found out that this was actually a thing, my wife couldn’t wait to get them. You can turn any Ball jar into a drinking glass. Large jars, medium jars, small jars – they all work. The lids themselves fit perfectly. Great for smoothies. The straws are of high quality and are easy to suck smoothies through. I also loved them for whenever we do a juice fast. We use a 32 oz Ball jar for the juice and then put a regular lid on it. Do all 3 juices for the day and then when we are ready to drink them, just pop off the lid and pop on the sip lid, insert straw and enjoy. They have: regular mouth and wide mouth
We own both types and use them all the time. One of our most used purchases of 2014.

Drinking Mug
If you prefer drinking out of something with a handle, then try the Ball Drinking Mugs. You can buy the sip and straw lids will work with these mugs for a great combo gift.

Jar Infusor
If you are bored of ordinary water or like those flavored waters, you can make your own with their jar infusor. Place lemon, berries, mint, etc into the infusor that sits right down into the water and you don’t have to worry it getting in the way as you are drinking. They fit on any jar, just select whether you need a wide mouth or a regular mouth infusor.

Ball® Collapsible Funnel
Here is a Ball product that will come in handy for canning as well as everyday use – a collapsible funnel. Takes up less space, so easier to store and is made to fit both regular and wide mouth Ball Jars and will work for non Ball items as well.

Ball Dry Herb Jars
For storing your dried herbs or spices these jars with a shaker lid are a good choice. Although I don’t usually shake anything out of the lids, preferring to take the lids off and use a measuring spoon, I still like the size of these jars. They fit well in my spice drawer. I have cinnamon, ginger, ground mustard, and garlic powder in them as I write this.

Other Gift Ideas
Besides these ideas, you can just give the gift of jars. The small jars are very useful for things other than just food. If you have a crafter in your family, they will find many uses for a set of small jars. Or if you have a friend that is really into canning, they could always use extra lids or rings. They make great stocking stuffers. Of course you can become really creativity with who you give your Ball jars by including something inside them. Ball has a ongoing list of ideas on their facebook page.

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