Homemade Chili Seasoning And Serendipity The Goonies Sloth & Chunk Rocky Rooooaad Ice Cream

 

Winter's coming, and the quest for warm is on! You want some good chili to help you with that? Forget about that store bought nonsense. Make you up your own spice mix. It's easy, and you can make is little or as much as you want!

Ingredients

4 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Teaspoons Cumin
1 Teaspoon Coriander
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional, and add more for your desired spice level)

Simply mix all the ingredients together, and babow, you have chili seasoning. I make a ton of this stuff in advance, and give some out to people around me, who seem to enjoy it quite a bit.

Today, I used it to make a pot of chili spatz. I call it that because I basically made chili, threw in three cups of cheese, and added a bag of spatzle.

Turned out delicious!

While I wish I could give you the precise measurements for my bowl of goodness, chili is one of those things where I never bother to measure out anything. Particularly, the spices. I just add it until I feel like there is enough.

For standard purposes, I.E. one pound of beef, one can of diced tomatoes and one can of kidney beans, you would typically use about three tablespoons of spice. I think I ended up using about a cup and a half. But I also added four cans of beans, tomato sauce, and two cups of water to cook the spatzle towards the end (yes, I put the "noodles" in the pot with the chili).

The other beauty of chili is that there's really no specified cooking time. It can take as little as thirty minutes, but also simmer on low (or in a crock pot) all day. Mine typically takes between four and twelve hours, depending on how long I feel like simmering it. The longer it cooks, the more the flavor enhances.

Because it was good and spicy, I needed a little something to cool down my tongue. That came in the form of Serendeipity's The Goonies: Sloth & Chunk Rocky Rooooaad ice cream.


This is one of four new flavors from the brand, the other three being based on Friends, Caddyshack and A Christmas Story, and will unfortunately see a limited release. In other words, if you're interested in trying it, find it sooner than later. This was just at my local grocery store.


Popping the lid off, I was a bit disappointed in the flat chocolate top. However, much like the search for One-Eyed Willy's treasure, a simple exploration below the surface revealed a whole lot of booty. 

The mix-ins were plentiful throughout the entire pint, with each bite containing several mini marshmallows and nuts.

I don't know how they pulled it off, but each marshmallow was fluffy and soft in texture. The chocolate flavor of the ice cream was also nice and rich. Overall, it was pretty delicious.

Serendipity brand is definitely my go to for ice cream, with their Birthday Cake being my all time favorite flavor. If you see them in your store, I highly recommend giving them a try. They're reasonably priced, and far superior, in my opinion, to the other more commonly known brands available.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Hasbro Pulse - To Be, Or Not To Be, A Premium Pulse Member

 

As my annual subscription sets to expire for my Hasbro Pulse membership, I briefly considered whether or not the $50.00 annual membership truly held any value to me. In doing so, I came up with this pros and cons list, which I thought I would share with you.

First off, what is Hasbro Pulse Premium? Basically, it's an annual subscription fee you pay which provides you with free shipping, early access to products, first access to restocked items, season promotions and discounts, access to exclusive Hasbro Pulse content and events, and what they call, "other perks". So let's break this down by category.

FREE SHIPPING

Depending on how much you buy, this perk alone can easily pay for your membership. For me, I suppose it did within the first day. I signed up for Premium leading up to Pulsecon 2020, and during that event, I purchased multiple items of varying sizes, which shipping would easily have covered the cost of the membership. To that aspect, yes, there is value here.

EARLY ACCESS TO PRODUCTS

With the exception of 2020's Pulsecon, here is where the value of this option failed miserably. While I did indeed receive early access e-mails to many items, the problem with this was that I don't sit around all day watching my e-mails come in. I'm certainly not looking for them from Hasbro at any given moment.

What essentially kept happening was that while I was getting these e-mails, I didn't see them until several hours, if not days later. As such, it didn't matter if I had the opportunity for early access. I never knew when an e-mail was coming, so I missed them all. Even on ones I may have happened to catch early, the result was always the same when I clicked on the link, "SOLD OUT".

FIRST ACCESS TO RESTOCKED ITEMS

Somewhat in conjunction with the above, telling me an item has been restocked is relatively useless if I'm not watching my e-mails twenty-four hours a day. Again, I saw little to no value from this aspect of the Premium membership.

ACCESS TO EXCLUSIVE HASBRO PULSE CONTENT AND EVENTS

All the events held by Hasbro were on Youtube, which anyone can access just by going to the link - Which they had right on the front page of their website leading up to every single one. There was nothing exclusive about any of the content or events they offered. Further, these events were typically held in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday when most people are at work. So again, this is useless to your average person.

SEASON PROMOTIONS AND DISCOUNTS

Really? Where? I never saw any promotions or discounts during my year of being a member.

OTHER PERKS

What a joke that they even included this in the description. Please, Hasbro. Tell me what these "other perks" were.

TO CONTINUE

So obviously the majority of the perks for being a member noted above were all but useless to me. However, in the off chance that I did place an order, there was another caveat that really hindered the value of this plan, and that was the fact that nothing I pre-ordered shipped before other online retailers, or even physical brick and mortar stores received the products.

Despite pre-orders for Flint, Lady Jaye, Zartan and Cobra Infantry, I found all of these via other avenues, and ended up canceling my orders. While you would think direct from the source would be the fastest route, this was anything but the case.

BOTTOM LINE

I'd rather just save the fifty dollars in the future. If I'm going to miss out of 99% of purchase opportunities because they sell out within minutes. Why bother? If I do manage to place an order, I find it well in advance of Hasbro shipping it. So again, why bother?

Using the exclusive Snake Supreme Cobra Commander as an example, that figure was forty dollars from Hasbro Pulse. With the fifty dollar Premium membership, I essentially paid $90.00 for it. However, I could have just as easily gotten one off of ebay, for sixty, and saved thirty bucks.

At the end of the day, unless you're buying something from them frequently, and taking full advantage of the shipping, and you're willing to wait extended periods to get what you bought, there's simply no reason to buy a Premium membership from Hasbro Pulse.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Retro Spins: Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell

 

He was big. He was beefy. He was Meat Loafy. Nothing about the portly man screamed rock and roll sex symbol. But, there he was. With powerful voice as his ammo, Meat Loaf stormed the stages across America to become one of rock and roll's greatest rockers of the 70's.

His journey began in 1968, when he formed his first band, Meat Loaf Soul. During this era, he would open for the likes of Van Morrison, The Who, Grateful Dead, and The Stooges. However, it was when he joined the stage performance of Hair, that people started to take him a bit more notice. It was with this success that Motown invited him to record with Shaun "Stoney" Murphy. This led to his first album, Stoney and Meat Loaf, released in 1971.

The album was unsuccessful, despite a string of tours with the likes of Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, and Rare Earth, and Meat Loaf would return to the stage, eventually rejoining the cast of Hair on Broadway. It was during one of his auditions for More Than You Deserve that the singer would meet his soon to be longtime collaborator, Jim Steinman.

In 1974, Meat Loaf joined the L.A. Roxy cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show, where he played the role of Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott. The success of the musical led to the filming of the now cult classic film, where he reprises his role of Eddie.

Since 1972, Steinman and Meat Loaf had been working on what would become Bat Out Of Hell. However, his theater life often kept him busy, and it wasn't until the tail end of 1974 that he would commit and concentrate fully on the music. Despite this, fate would intervene once again. This time calling him back to the stage as the understudy of John Belushi for the show, Lampoon. It was here that Meat Loaf would meet Ellen Foley. She would later join the two on Bat Out Of Hell to sing the female vocals for Paradise By The Dashboard and Bat Out Of Hell, the song.

Though they tried repeatedly to get a record deal, both Steinman and Meat Loaf were met with rejection after rejection. It wasn't until Cleveland International Records took a chance on the duo that the album was finally released, and from there obliterated the world from orbit. Bat Out Of Hell has sold an estimated forty-three million copies, and remains the most successful album in Meat Loaf's catalog.

With success flowing, Steinman went to work on the follow up album, Bad For Good. Unfortunately, it wouldn't end up coming to fruition. A combination of exhaustion, hard drug abuse, and continued touring resulted in Meat Loaf loosing his voice. With no singer, but continuous pressure from the label, Steinman opted to record the album himself. It failed as a solo album.

It wouldn't be until 1981 that Meat Loaf would release a follow up album, Dead Ringer. Unfortunately, due to the time that had surpassed, people seemed to have forgotten about the singer, and while it was met with mild success, it paled in comparison to his debut. Noteworthy is the title track, Dead Ringer For Love, which features Cher.

Meat Loaf and Steinman would start feuding amongst each other, leading to lawsuits both parties would file against the other. This led to the singer, who was still contractually obligated to provide an album, looking for new writers. This mishmash of sources would lead to his third studio release, Midnight At The Lost And Found.

With his obligation to Cleveland International complete, Meat Loaf left for England with a new recording agreement with Arista. With two tracks previously written by Steinman in hand, these formed his fourth album, Bad Attitude. However, sales continued to diminish for the singer. His fifth album, 1986's Blind Before I Stop, only contributed to lower sales, which Meat Loaf blames the production for.

Though he continued to tour, Meat Loaf seemingly fell off the radar of the rock scene. But, as we all know, the world loves a comeback story, and that was what would happen in 1993. Steinman and Meat Loaf had come back together late in 1990, and began working on what would become Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell. It was labeled a joke by many in the music industry, but not to MCA. They released the record on September 14, 1993, and watched it's lead single, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) soar to number one in twenty-eight countries.

While his subsequent albums were met with mild success, time once again played a factor, and each one saw less and less sales. Meat Loaf has released six additional albums between 1995 and 2016, but sadly seems to have been forgotten again. He announced in 2020 that he was going to head back to the recording booth to lay down a new album, and Braver Than We Are was actually released just last week, on September 21st. Sadly, Jim Steinman passed away in April of 2021 from kidney failure.

Well, today we remember Jim Steinman by going back to that classic album that put both he and Meat Loaf of the map. 1977's Bat Out Of Hell!

Right off the bat (out of hell) the album smashes you in the face with powerful rock. Hard hitting drums, shredding guitars, and an equally powerful piano and bass. It's title track is here to deliver, and it's not wasting any time. It lays the groundwork for Steinman to craft lengthy songs that manage to never get boring. This is without a doubt helped by Meat Loafs dynamic vocals.

Things mellow down quickly from there, but not in a bad way. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth and Heaven Can Wait show his ability to gracefully sing ballads, before getting a little more aggressive and funky with All Revved Up With Nowhere To Go.

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad delivers another soothing ballad before jumping into the albums iconic piece, Paradise By The Dashboard. It's another example of Steinman's ability to weave together a story through innuendos and hints of humor. The album wraps up with the soothing melody, For Crying Out Loud. It's a perfect end to the record.

Hearing this album makes me think of how amazing it would be if Meat Loaf were to re-record all of the tracks from Bad For Good. Just to hear it how it was intended would be so awesome. Am I a fan of Meat Loaf? Well, let's just say that after hearing this, I'm on the right path to becoming one.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Disclaimer: They Toy Box does not endorse or contribute to piracy. Retro Spins posts are intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. None of the music discussed here is available for sale, downloading or distribution.

Retro Spins: R.E.M. - Document



R.E.M. are one of those bands I tend to forget were around in the 80's. My introduction to them didn't come until the 1990 television series debut of Get A Life starring Chris Elliot. The song, Stand, is the show's opening intro, and one I quite frankly never gave a second thought to. It was a decent tune, but I never for a moment thought it was from an established band, let alone one which was on their 1988 album, Green.

The band didn't really land on my radar until 1991 with their hit, Shiny Happy People. A lot of this was also helped by the instantly recognizable voice of Kate Pierson of the B-52's and a quirky video which saw a lot of rotation on MTV. From there, I began to take a bigger look at them, and even dabbled a bit in their CD's, thanks in part to music clubs Columbia House and BMG.

While I had a few of their discs in the early 90's, I don't recall them really leaving an impact with me. They always remained that band that I liked a couple songs from, but never really gave a second thought to.

Well, until now. That second thought comes today with my listen to R.E.M.'s 1987 album, Document. It's notable for featuring It's The End Of The World As We Know It and The One I Love, but does it have anything else to offer? Rolling Stones seems to think so, ranking it number 41 on their list of top 100 greatest albums of the 80's. With that, I dove in to find out where it ranks for me.

Sigh...I'm beginning to think I need to just stay away from these top "X" lists flooded across the internet.

R.E.M.'s Document is nothing to write home about. It's not that the album is bad, but for me, it's also not memorable. I'm by no means a major fan of the band, but for something ranked on a top 100 list, I expected so much more than a bunch of throw away songs.

I guess, if for nothing else, I got the two hits that I know of off the album, but again, I wanted much more than this. I thought I may have found at least one more decent track in the form of Lightnin' Hopkins. It starts out with this killer beat, but then Michael Stipe starts singing, and it quickly turns awful. It made me start to wonder if this, Stipe's voice,  was the true reason I wasn't enjoying the album. Food for thought I suppose. If I had to wager an immediate guess, I think the biggest turn off for me is it sounds to 90's. Fans of the 80's who dislike 90's music will understand immediately what I mean by that.

At the end of the day, R.E.M.'s Document was not my cup of tea. I won't give up on them just yet, in terms of their other albums, but I'm not necessarily eagerly rushing to hear these just yet. This one was certainly enough for a while.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

The Muppet Sound Trap Drum Set (Noble & Cooley Co.)

 

The Muppet Sound Trap Drum Set
Noble & Cooley Co.
1977

When I was a young lad of four years old, my grandparents on my mother's side gave me a gift that changed my life, and consequently all of those within earshot. That gift, The Muppet Sound Trap Drum Set, would pave the way for a love of percussion, and in general, instruments and music. It was the introduction to this toy drum which ultimately led me to guitar, piano, brass instruments, and more.

For as impactful as this was in to my life, I honestly never really thought about looking into this particular item until I found myself recently looking through some old photos. It was kind of one of those, "Duh," moments. Here I am posting about G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and all the other great things that shaped who I am today, yet this one was way off my radar.

Though I received mine Christmas of 1981, it turns out this particular set had been around since 1977, when it was first released by Noble & Cooley Co. Company, a company established and still around since 1854! While they released this particular "toy", they're definitely an established brand for drum related equipment.

This was interesting to me because I quite honestly have never heard of them. For me, I tend to lean towards Pearl, Tama and Zildjian. To make sure I wasn't crazy, I did a search for best known percussion brands, and N&C didn't show up on any top ten lists. At least I don't feel bad for being on the outside of that one.

But I'm far off topic at this point...And now that I think of it, I don't really have mcuh more to say.

As a kid, this was a great gift. I loved playing the drums, even if they sounded hollow and tin based from being a toy. I have a deep appreciation for it because of how it personally impacted my life, and even now, I find myself smiling just staring at it from the memories that I hold dear to me from owning this.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Homemade Chicken Croquettes With Dijon Pepper Sauce

 

I was really craving some freshly made chicken croquettes, but there was just one problem. I really didn't know how to make them. I knew that my mom used to make them for us growing up, so I decided to giver her a call. She told me, "It's really simple. Just make a roux, mix it with chicken, breaded it, and bake or fry it." I asked, "Okay, what are the measurements?" She said, "I don't know, you want about a cup."

Did that mean anything to any of you? Because it meant nothing to me.

Going back to the drawing board, I decided to take the bull by the horn and hedge forward with my own passion and unique skill for coming up with a recipe as I went. In other words, I grabbed a bunch of ingredients, threw it all together, and the end result was some pretty amazing chicken croquettes, if I do say so myself. They were so good, that as I was savoring them, I said to myself, "I would pay money for these in a restaurant."

Well, no need to worry about finding a place to get these. I'm going to tell you step by step how I made them. I promise you that you will enjoy them!

I'm going to split this recipe for the croquettes into two sections. I'll then finish it off with the sauce.

Ingredients (part 1)

2 1/2 Pounds Boneless / Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoon Pepper
1 Tablespoon Dried Minced Onions
1 Tablespoon Parsley

Fill a large pot with water, and put it on the stove over medium high heat. Put your salt, pepper, minced onions, and parsley in it. Give it a good stir, and add your chicken breast. Let this boil until the chicken is cooked, which should take about forty minutes.

When your chicken is done, pull it out of the water, and dump the liquid down the sink. You don't need it anymore. Though, I suppose you could keep the liquid as a broth starter, or boil some noodles, rice or potatoes in it for a side dish. Up to you. As for me, I dumped it, because I was going to reuse the pot.

Chicken Croquettes are made from shredded chicken, but obviously right out of the pot, it's incredibly hot. You want to let your chicken cool just a bit before ripping it apart, if you're doing it by hand. I'm not, so I can let it cool for a few minutes to redistribute the juices inside.

I've placed my chicken in my KitchenAid mixing bowl, and I've attached the paddle attachment to it. Before you think I'm crazy, this is the definitive way of shredding chicken. Simple turn the mixer on low, and gradually work your way up to medium, and check this out.





Amazing, isn't it? You can also do this with a hand mixer, but definitely keep it on low for a while. Otherwise you're going to have chicken all over the ceiling.

On to the next step.

Ingredients (part 2)

6 Tablespoons Butter
6 Tablespoons Flour
3 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream (Divided Into One Cup and Two Cups)
1 Tablespoon Pepper
2 Teaspoons Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Cup Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
1/4 Cup Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Start by making your roux by melting your butter over medium heat.

Then add your flour.

Stir this into the butter, and let it cook, while stirring frequently, until it turns a nutty brown color.

Stir in two cups of your heavy whipping cream, reserving the remaining one cup for a moment. Immediately start whisking.


When it's fully incorporated with the roux base, add your pepper, salt and cayenne.

Continue to whisk, and let the sauce simmer. When it gets thick. See the photo below for consistency.

Add your remaining one cup of cream, and remove from heat, continuing to whisk until smooth. Immediately pour this over your chicken, and mix it all together. See the photo below for the consistency after adding the additional cream.

This part will work well with a KitchenAid and paddle attachment on low speed. Otherwise, use a large spoon or rubber spatula. I don't know that I would recommend stirring hold liquid with an electric hand mixer. That seems dangerous.

Once you have your sauce and chicken incorporated together, see above photo for consistency, add 1 cup of your shredded cheese. While I'm using Mexican Blend, I'm sure you can use any cheese you like and / or want.

Mix it on low to incorporate the cheese.

Add your bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and mix again to incorporate.

Cover with plastic, and put in the fridge.

But wait a minute. This mix right here, as is, is amazing just as is. It's packed with flavor, and you can eat it by the spoonful if you want. I imagine it would also make one amazing chicken salad sandwich. Put it on a casserole and bake it. Serve it over rice. I'm telling you, this is good.

However, for the purpose of this meal, and today's post, I was croquette bound, which meat I needed this to chill thoroughly, and bind together. Using the photo above as an image of what it should look like, and not an example of your next step, spread the mixture out over a wax paper lined cookie sheet or cake pan, and throw it in the freezer for thirty minutes to set.

You need to ultimately be able to roll this into the croquette shapes, so you need it very cold, almost frozen. Like what you see on the spoon.

Roll your croquettes to your desired shape and size, and place them on a new piece of wax paper lined baking sheet.

Pop them back into the freezer for fifteen minutes, and start your next steps, which are breading, baking / frying, and making your sauce.

For the breading, you need the following ingredients:

3 Cups Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
3 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
6 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

I made this in two separate batches, using half my ingredients each time. Not because I was under anticipating what I would need, but rather because I was double dredging my croquettes to ensure crispy breading, which results in lumpy eggs as it gets absorbed.

With that in mind, whisk three eggs together.

Add one tablespoon of lemon juice, and mix it into the eggs.

In a separate dish, mix one and a half cups of bread crumbs with one and a half cups of panko, and stir to incorporate.

Roll your croquette in egg to thoroughly coat it.

Roll it in your bread crumbs to coat it.

Return the croquette to your egg mixture, and coat it again.

Then repeat this again with the bread crumbs.

Repeat until this is done for all of the croquettes, making more egg and crumb mixture as needed.

You need your croquettes to set, so place your tray back in the freezer for fifteen more minutes.

Now, if you're baking these, you're going to need more time than you would if frying. Though I have not tried this method myself, I would guess you need a high temp to crisp them, such as 425 to 450, and at least twenty minutes, flipping them half way through cooking to get a good crunch on both sides.

As for me, I'm going the traditional frying method. It's not healthy by any means, but neither is this recipe in general. Because I'm frying, these are going to take about five to seven minutes on each side, and that means I also need to simultaneously cook my sauce.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Pepper

Yes, I'm making a roux again. First though, I'm heating my oil over 350 degrees in my electric skillet.

Then while that's heating, I'm getting started on the sauce.

Referencing the photos above from my first roux, if needed, melt your butter, add the flour, and stir it to a nutty brown.

Add your cream, and Dijon mustard, and keep stirring.

While continuing to stir, add your pepper, and immediately remove the pot from the heat. The more this simmers, the thicker it is going to get. If it gets too thick for your liking, simply add more cream to thin it out. I prefer mine to be able to sit on top of stuff, without filling the plate with liquid, so I like mine a bit thicker.

While cooking my sauce, I was actively frying up a few croquettes. The rest, I packed up in Ziploc bags, and froze for later.

I'm looking for a golden brown breading around the entire croquette, which means I was flipping these periodically to achieve this. You really just have to eyeball it.


Meanwhile, my sauce was waiting for me to introduce it to the croquettes.


Removing them from the oil, I put them in a wire strainer, and shake out any excess grease.

You know what's coming! 

Serve you up a plate, and get to digging in!


Since I didn't make any side dishes to go with them, I was a little Piglet, and crushed four of them.

Speaking of crushing, I did that too in order to get more sauce on top. Oink, oink!


The next day, I took the remaining two, and made a sandwich.

With a freezer full of chicken croquettes, and six in my tummy already, I'm set for a long while on these. 

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.