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Friday Recipe Exchange: Smokin’

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Last week I found a nice, small pork roast on sale and decided it would be perfect to make a slow-cooker pulled pork. That reminded me that it would be a good idea to revisit JeffreyW’s smoking adventures with his backyard smoker. I’ve pulled a few recipes, but if you search for “smoker” on the blog, you’ll find a whole lot more of his mouth-watering pictures and recipes.

Let’s start with my slow-cooker Easy Pulled Pork, I posted two ways to make it here.

Next up, JeffreyW makes an assortment of goodies in his smoker:

Here is his recommendation for a smoker and some tasty Ribs.

Homemade Pastrami (click here) – serious mouth-watering photos.

Smoked Chicken (photos and recipe here).

My youngest brother also jumped on the Smoker band wagon and sent me photos of a great meal that included Smoked Macaroni and Cheese (link here). He didn’t include a recipe, but I think it’s safe to say, make your favorite Mac ‘n Cheese, place in an aluminum pan, cover and smoke it for about 45 minutes to an hour at 165-180 degrees.

Smoker people seem very passionate, so if you’ve got the bug, hit the comments and share your experiences and expertise. What delicious things do you have planned this weekend? Anyone getting the grill out yet?

Tonight’s featured recipe from JeffreyW:

Smoked Brisket

I thawed a beef brisket and was thinking corned beef but changed my mind.  I have a fresh made pastrami on hand so I decided on a straight smoked brisket.  The procedure is much the same as with making a pastrami except you are starting with a fresh beef beef brisket rather than a corned one.  I suppose you could use the same dry rub for both but I wasn’t sure how the juniper berries in the pastrami rub would taste so I went with a more traditional rub.  I was tossing various ingredients in and didn’t keep track of the amounts of each so I can’t do more than list them from memory:  Black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, ancho powder, regular chili powder, fresh ground cumin, some powder out of a bottle of Goya “Adobe Seasoning” (it’s yellow – go figure), creole/Cajun seasoning, oregano, and probably a few more.

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I placed it on the top rack of my electric smoker, threaded the temp probe through the vent and into the thickest part, placed a drippings pan with an inch of apple cider under the meat, added the soaked hickory to the smoke chamber, closed the door and fired it up.  It’s been cold and snowy so I knew it would take a good while to get to the “done” temperature but I wasn’t thinking 23 hours.  That’s how long it spent in there before I pulled it.  The probe was registering 176 degrees.

I pulled the first drippings pan out because I think it was keeping the inside temperature in the smoker too low and replaced it with a dry pan after about 12 hours.  The quart of cider plus the drippings was reduced to what you see above.  If I could make it by the gallon I’m pretty sure I would be a millionaire in short order.  Awesome stuff.

That’s it for this week. No Bixby update, but he turns 10 months old this weekend, so I’ll put something together soon. Have a great weekend. – TaMara

row-of-hearts

Chicken Lo Mein and Garlic Green Beans

DSC_0141 (1600x1060)I like green beans cooked this way:  Parboil the cleaned beans for about 4 or 5 minutes then dump them in an ice bath to quickly stop them cooking.  I drain them and put them aside until right before dinner is due then saute them in oil with garlic and ginger.  I use olive oil with a wee drop of sesame oil for the flavor, and add a dollop of oyster sauce right at the end before plating.  The sesame seeds are a garnish, optional.

For the lo mein dish the chicken marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and a spoonful of chili garlic paste with some cornstarch.  I make a brown sauce that is pretty much the same as the marinade plus a slug of chicken stock.  To prepare the dish, heat some oil in a wok, add chopped onions and frozen peas, garlic and ginger, and add the chicken with its marinade.  Leave it alone in the hot wok for a minute or two without tossing and it’ll brown nicely.  Add the cooked and drained noodles and stir to combine, add the brown sauce and stir and toss as it thickens.

Chinese Five Spice

DSC_0076 (1600x1060)I was browsing among various recipes for green beans and noticed a call for Chinese five spice in one of them and wondered if I had the ingredients to make my own.  Yes!  –  or at least close enough for my purposes.  I looked over several recipes and they all had the same ingredients with a few variations:  Star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns.  Some used Szechuan peppercorns and others called for the more familiar black peppercorns, one recipe used cassia bark in lieu of the cinnamon, there were differences in the ratios so I just eyeballed mine as I loaded them into my little spice grinder.  I ended up with about a quarter cup of some great smelling stuff.DSC_0077 (1600x1060)Those are the Szechuan peppercorns between the cinnamon sticks.  They have an interesting effect in the mouth, some heat and a numbing sensation on the lips.  Another name for them is prickly ash seed.

After all of that, I used about a teaspoon of the spice powder in the soy sauce marinade of the chicken for the green bean dish pictured above.  That was a simple enough recipe, the most prep went into the sauce: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup chicken stock, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of rice vinegar with a little corn starch to thicken it in the pan.  I steamed the beans for five minutes while the chicken was cooking then added them to the pan with the chicken and then poured in the sauce and cooked until it thickened, a few more minutes.

Friday Recipe Exchange: A Little Bit of Everything

Oven potato chips

I debated about a recipe exchange this week, it’s been a busy, snowy week and I was contemplating curling up with a good book until spring. But then I made these great oven baked chips and thought, I must share.

There was lots of cooking this week, for a change, so the recipe exchange will be, as JefferyW often posts, be made up of tidbits.

Starting with a new chocolaty Nutella Brownie, recipe here, that also happens to be gluten-free.

JeffreyW made some great looking Buffalo Chicken, photos and recipe here.

Chuck roasts were on sale, so I made a Slow-Cooker Pot Roast, full dinner menu and recipes here.

And for the pet lovers, a really quick Bixby Update is here. To say he is trying my patience would be kind. Puppies.

What’s on your plate this weekend? We’re digging out from about 20 inches of snow, but the sun is shining, so that’s a plus. How about you?

Tonight’s featured recipe happened because I was at the store and grabbing a bag of frozen french fries (don’t judge) and saw they had bags of oven potato chips. I thought that sounded good and easy to make, so I passed the bag by and instead made my own.

They are similar to my Potato Wedges, but because they are sliced thinner, they are really crispy on the outside with a creamy center. I will be making them again. I used russets because that’s what I had on hand and it was snowing, so that’s what I used. I think they worked great for these.

Garlic and cayenne are optional, but don’t skimp on the salt and pepper. You can also use alternate spices or herbs, like rosemary, thyme, marjoram or parsley flakes. Maybe some chopped chives just before you take them out of the oven.

Oven Potato Chips

  • 2 to 4 large potatoes
  • light olive or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • cayenne pepper

baking sheet, mandoline or grater

Wash and scrub potatoes and slice into thick slices. Mix oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dash of cayenne pepper. Toss with potato slices and arrange on well oiled baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees, turn at about the 10 minute mark, or when browned on the bottom and continue to bake until nicely browned on the other side, approximately another 10 minutes. Watch carefully and remove any slices that are thinner and brown more quickly.

You can brush with more oil if needed as they bake. Serve piping hot.

I served these with my Cheese Stuffed Burgers and a side salad for a nice dinner.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, hope everyone is dug out – TaMara

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Buffalo Chicken Thighs

DSC_9981 (1600x1060)We love chicken and the packages of boneless and skinless thighs they sell in family sizes are good bargains.  I took the thighs and cut them into three of four pieces and poured buttermilk over them in a bowl to marinate, seasoned with red pepper and salt.  When you are getting ready to cook, take them out to drain a little on a  wire rack, then dredge them in seasoned flour.  I like to add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, and maybe some paprika.  Fry them in a half inch of oil, turning to brown both sides.DSC_9983 (1600x1060)I like to toss mine with a sauce made from butter and hot sauce with more sauce for dipping at the table.  Mrs J likes hers plain with BBQ sauce or catsup so I leave a few untossed.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Feed a Cold

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I have been fighting a cold this week and all I want is orange juice and homemade soup. So, of course, that’s the theme for tonight’s recipe exchange. Soups. And there are plenty on the blog, because both JeffreyW and I love soup. Just search on soups and you’ll come up with almost 300 entries.

Here are few selections:

Cream of Chicken Soup, click here.

From Joshua D (Yutsano), Cauliflower Beer Cheese Soup, click here.

From JeffreyW, three soups:

     Vegetable Beef Soup, picture above and recipe here

     Moroccan Spicy Lamb Soup, recipe here

     Parmesan Potato Soup, with Bacon, click here

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen this weekend? What must have recipe gets you through cold season?

Hands

Tonight’s featured recipe takes very little effort, so you can have quick and easy homemade soup for a weeknight dinner or when feeling under the weather.

Tortellini Soup

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, rough chopped
  • 20 oz pkg frozen tortellini
  • 4 oz grated Parmesan

large saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan, except spinach, tortellini & Parmesan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & let simmer for 15 minutes. Add tortellini and bring to boil again, reduce heat, let simmer 10 minutes, add spinach and let simmer additional 5 minutes, until tortellini is tender. Serve with Parmesan garnish.

That’s it for this week. I’ll try and have a Bixby update later…he’s been sleeping a lot the last two days, so I’m thinking, growth spurt.  – TaMara

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Mmm… Stir Fry Green Beans

DSC_9715 (1600x1060)I always add the green beans to my plate whenever we hit the Chinese buffet that’s located in the same complex that holds the grocery store and the farm goods retailer.  I tell myself I’m going to make them next time I have some fresh beans but I never seem to remember.  I made a point of making them today since I was already set on stir fry.  They aren’t too hard, trim to the size you like and cook them in oil with minced garlic in whatever measure you like.  I added sliced onions to these and cooked them for three or four minutes before adding a splash of water and covering the pan.  Cook for another few minutes, add a slug of oyster sauce and toss to coat.  Cover and reduce the heat until you are ready to plate.  I cut the onions too small this time.DSC_9712 (1600x1060)The main dish was chicken and snow peas in a spicy brown sauce over rice.  Cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces and marinate in soy sauce, minced garlic, a splash of Chinese cooking wine, a few tablespoons of water or stock, a tablespoon of chili garlic paste, and a spoonful of corn starch.  I usually make additional sauce that is similar to the marinade but with more stock and a splash of oyster sauce or sugar to sweeten it a tad.  I find that if I nuke the snow peas for a minute or two in the microwave all they take is another minute in the wok, added with the extra sauce when the chicken is finished.

Mmm… Pizza!

DSC_9692 (1600x1060)Mrs J called for pizza and because it’s been a while since we had a white pizza, this broccoli/chicken/roasted garlic pie was just perfect.  I rolled some string cheese into the edge of it and made a sauce from Monterey jack and a basic white sauce.  I added two heads of roasted garlic to the sauce and troweled it on then added the par-boiled broccoli and the grilled chicken breast.  Brush some olive oil on the crust and add a good sprinkling of kosher salt.  It spent about 17 minutes in a 350 oven while in the pizza pan but still wasn’t quite there.  I managed to get it out of the pan and onto a peel without mishap for transfer to the pizza stone that pretty much lives on the bottom rack on my oven.  I kicked the dial up to 500 and kept an eye on it, giving it an additional 5-7 minutes.DSC_9696 (1600x1060)A cheese crust seems like overkill, given the cheesy nature of the sauce but I find myself eating the crusts apart from the rest of the pizza, saving them for the last.  They eat like a big soft pretzel – a cheese stuffed pretzel.DSC_9700 (1600x1060)I placed the uneaten slices back into the pan for flash freezing in the big box.  When they’re frozen solid I’ll vacuum seal the slices, they make great lunches for Mrs J to haul with her to the shelter on her volunteer days.

Christmas Eve Dinner: The Menu

Reindeer Games

I got to meet some of Santa’s reindeer last year

I finished all my shopping today and unless I missed something, I shouldn’t have to cross the threshold of a grocery store between now and Christmas. I’ll put up photos and recipes as I go. My kitchen is painfully small and I like to spend time with my guests, so the menu is pretty simple and I can do a lot ahead of time. This makes sure we have a great meal, I can spend time with my guests and keeps my stress level lower.

On the board:

  1. Roasted Cornish Game Hens UPDATED with recipe here
  2. Smashed PotatoesUPDATED with recipe here.
  3. Cranberry Chutney UPDATED with recipe here.
  4. Spinach Salad
  5. Sundae Bar
  6. Christmas Cookies

The spinach salad works well to provide a nice, fresh vegetable without having to worry about cooking something at the last minute (so it’s fresh and not overcooked). And everyone likes spinach, so it was an easy choice.

I’ll make the Cranberry Chutney tomorrow, since it’s the type of dish that tastes better the next day. It’s a new, untried recipe and this will give me time to make regular cranberry relish if it turns out badly.

I’ll prep the hens the night before and refrigerate, then toss in the oven late afternoon on Wednesday.

The smashed potatoes have to be boiled first, so I think I will do that in the morning, refrigerate them and then do the final stage in the oven while the chickens are resting. And that’s it, dinner is served.

Look what Bixby has to look forward to, these are my three loves (3 of my 4 rescued Danes):

Christmas Dogs 2004 Shelby Einstein Duncan

I tried to get Bixby in a Santa Hat or Reindeer Antlers, but he is still too much of a puppy. I can barely get a photo of him on a normal day, he’ll have none of this “dress me up” nonsense. 90 lbs of WILL right now.

Updates as I do the prep and can get some photos. – TaMara

Christmas balls

 

Tidbits

DSC_9526 [1600x1060]We have a couple of freezers jammed full of items that may not be labeled with all the info you might wish for but usually enough if you have a good memory.  I pulled one crusted zip lock bag with “brisket” scribbled on it and the sammich here is what came of a portion of it.  I smoked a brisket some time ago and this is part of that, there may be more – I dunno.  It made a decent lunch.  On top is some ancient giardiniera that I added some olives to because of reasons.  The sauce is a new to me item from Texas Pete they are calling sriracha-cha.  Works for me.DSC01302 (1600x1200)And a puppy!  I have no info at all on this one, nor the ones to follow in this post.  I ordered a battery powered LED light so Mrs J could have a portable source she could use while at the shelter.  I mounted it on a tiny tripod meant for tabletop photography but it can be easily hand held.  Results so far are encouraging.DSC_9530 [1600x1060]I used some of that duck fat to roast these potatoes, they were pretty good but I’m sure I’ll do better the next time.  The chicken was fried in some of it as well.  The breast came pre-sliced to about 1/4″, I dusted it with seasoned flour and plopped it directly into the hot fat.  I parboiled the potatoes, then tossed them with the duck fat, rosemary, and kosher salt and roasted them on a tray in the oven.  They needed more time to brown but everything else was ready to go so I went with them as they were.DSC01301 (1600x1200)Moar puppeh!  I think the new light is bright enough to bounce off the ceiling there at the shelter.  It does have a frosted plastic diffuser mounted to soften the light, and it can be dialed down if needed.DSC_9541 [1600x1060]Mmm… brisket and egg burritos from this morning.  The last of the thawed brisket with scrambled eggs and cheese.  I like that new sauce, it has more of a cooked taste compared to basic sriracha – the brand with the rooster on the label.DSC01293 (1600x1200)One last puppy to wind this post up.  Remember to look at the shelter’s Facebook page for more info on adoptable pets and (hint hint) contribution links.

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