Category Archives: Recipes

OK, Here We Go – Sous Vide Steaks

20160928_1718471600x1200First impressions – it’s bigger than I was expecting!  Not quite as big around as a 12oz soda can, but close.  It’s 15 inches long.  It is simple to set up, just clamp it onto the side of a suitable pot, plug it in, and scroll the wheel to set the desired temperature.20160928_1330001600x1200The cord isn’t very long, so you’ll need to place it fairly close the outlet.  (That cord trailing off the counter goes to something else.)  Here I have a pair of rib steaks inside generic zip-lock bags.  I’m not sure how much heat they can take but they handled the 129 degrees the device was set to.  That’s right on the dividing line between rare and medium rare per the table here.  I started with hot tap water so it didn’t take much time to come to heat.  They spent nearly 3 hours in the water bath.  I wanted to give them ample time, they say several hours more wouldn’t have made any difference.20160928_1626041600x1200Everything went well enough until it came time to sear the steak to finish it.  I didn’t pat them dry with paper towels, and didn’t get the skillet hot enough.  Lesson learned!  20160928_1627021600x1200Still, I can’t say that I wasted two steaks.  They were pretty good, although maybe too fatty.

Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner

I had friends over on Sunday and by request, made a garden fresh entrée. The advantage with this type of dinner is, it is quick and easy to prepare while guests are there. We had pleasant conversation as I put it together, which from start to finish was less than 20 minutes.

I apologize in advance, I have no photos of the final dish because I was having such a good time I completely forgot to even get my camera out.

Garden Fresh Pasta

  • 4 tomatoes
  • about 4 basil leaves (or 1/2 tsp dry)


  • 12 oz linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper (or red or orange as desired), chopped into large pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tomatoes (I used a variety from my garden and my friends’ garden), chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dry)

saucepan, skillet, large pot

Blend 4 tomatoes and 4 basil leaves together until smooth and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer while prepping the remainder of the dinner.

In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Drain, but don’t rinse.

In skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil, add onions. Saute for a minute and then add peppers. Stir occasionally until they are softened and onions are translucent. Add additional tbsp of oil, once heated, add garlic, zucchini and eggplant. Saute until tender. Finally, add tomatoes and basil, cook for one to two minutes and then add the tomato mixture from the saucepan. Stir together gently and bring to a low boil for about 1 minute. Serve over pasta.

I served it with grated Parmesan, tossed salad and fresh baked bread

Go wild and add whatever fall garden vegetables you have on hand….


Food Pr0n – Loaded Baked Potato

20160925_1809171600x1200We had a little bit of that smoked pork and I was thinking about another sammich for dinner when I noticed a couple of small potatoes I had set out for a potato salad project.  These are not twice baked, I zapped them in the microwave and then peeled the tops and half mashed them and added the sour cream, cheddar, and pork.  They were finished in the toaster oven and then garnished.


20160923_1234261600x1200We smoked two pork shoulders the other day, the smoker is small but two shoulders just fit in the top rack, the lower rack is for the foil tray to catch the drippings.  I have a dry rub that I like to use on these but feared I didn’t have enough so I dumped the remaining rub in a bowl and ground more coriander and black pepper and added that and more brown sugar and salt and etc.  Mixed it all in the bowl by hand then opened the tap at the sink to wash my hands and WHOA! You DUMMY! the bowl full of rub was also in the sink.  So, I smeared the wet rub all over the meat.  It did seem to work OK.  LOL20160923_1728021600x1200They spent about 24 hours in there, set at 200 degrees.  My thermometer was still only reading 160 or so.  I pulled the bones and broke them up and finished them in the countertop oven on the slow cook setting.  We are using it more and more, we’ll try pizza sometime soon.20160924_1205481600x1200There’s lots more where that came from!  After it finished I chopped it up and froze most of the meat, this is some I kept out.  That peach wood is really good for this.20160924_1357051600x1200Had a visitor the other day, he was driving this Dodge Charger with a Hemi powered V8.  Teenager? Mid life crisis 40 year old?  Nope, it was Mrs J’s brother in law, he’s 74.20160920_0912421600x1200Here’s Gabe!  He’s wearing his first rabies tag.  Here’s to many more!  He’s 4 months old and growing up fast.20160923_1611341600x1200My local Kroger store has rib eyes on sale now and again.  I try to stock up when they do.  I have hopes that this is the last steak we have that is cooked entirely on the grill – I have a sous vide device ordered and will try it out on another of these steaks when it gets here.20160924_1642251600x1200Mmm… sloppy joes!  I have been doing fries in a deep fryer, a dutch oven full of canola oil, but the last few times I did them in the toaster oven.  These were baked at 450 for about 20 minutes.  They are better in the deep oil but there are tradeoffs:  Cleanup time, the cost of the oil, and the extra calories.  Right now I’m going to say the toaster oven, by a nose.20160924_1054011600x1200Gabe seems to really like drinking from the sprinkler wand, but he doesn’t much like getting wet like he sometimes does when he pesters me as I water the patio plants.

Mmm… Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce

20160921_1838391600x1200I remember a sauce that was a local favorite in the small town I grew up in.  An old man had a smoke pit at the edge of town and turned out a good bbq and made a sauce that also sold in local markets.  I tried to replicate it back then and managed to come close once.  Of course I didn’t write down a recipe and never managed even “close” after that.20160923_1004141600x1200It’s been 50 years since I had a genuine Witt’s BBQ but when I made a batch of this sauce it really rang a bell.  I fiddled with it some, the sauce I remembered was thicker.  I heated it on the stove and then added some corn starch, a little Splenda, red pepper flakes, extra ground black pepper, garlic  powder, salt, and some ground Sichuan peppers.  Fifty years is a long time but this sauce is as good as that one I remember – even if the recipe isn’t exactly the same.

Mmm… Butterbeans and Cornbread

20160920_1853301600x1200Nothing special about these, I will note that I used the “boil for a minute and let sit, covered, for an hour” method rather than soaking overnight.  It worked fine.  You drain the beans after the hour and then cook to your regular recipe.  These are cooked in chicken stock with carrots, celery, and onions that were sauteed briefly.  I like to add a Creole/Cajun seasoning to mine, and a couple of bay leaves.  These have ham chunks that simmered in stock while the beans soaked to get a head start.20160920_1220001600x1200The cornbread isn’t anything fancy, just the back of the box recipe.

Beyond Easy Recipe For Fresh, Hot Bread


I love this recipe, it is so easy. I was looking for a slow rise bread – they are thought to be easier to digest for people who have trouble with yeast or gluten sensitivities. And it has the added advantage of being super easy and almost fool-proof to make. Instant yeast is a must here, because the idea behind the slow rise is that the yeast has time fully flavor the bread and become more easily digestible.

Crusty Slow-Rise Bread

  • 5 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (instant is important)
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (about 95 degrees F)

Add yeast to water and allow to proof for about 1 minute. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Let rest uncovered for 5 minutes.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for two minutes. The dough should be smooth, tacky, not dry or sticky. Adjust by adding flour and water as needed.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to four days.

It makes two loaves. If you’d like to make loaves separately, you can divide into to equal pieces, cover and refrigerate separately.

To bake:

Two hours before baking, remove from the refrigerator. Shape into desired loaf, spray lightly with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise about 90 minutes until it’s increased 1 ½ times its original size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and remove plastic from bread. Just before baking, score with three slices across the bread with a sharp knife. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place in hot oven. I add sesame seeds on the baking sheet and place the loaf on that so it doesn’t stick and has a nice sesame seed crust.

Add a tray of ice to a baking sheet and place on the rack underneath the bread to create a steam bath for the bread.  This will give you a crispy, chewy crust.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotate pan and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the bread reaches and internal temperature of 200 degrees F.  For crisper crust, turn off the oven and leave the bread in an additional 5 minutes.

Remove to a bread board and let cool for 45 minutes (ok, seriously, if you can wait that long, you’re a better person than I – I’ve scorched my fingers more than once sneaking a fresh hot slice).


Mmm… Fresh Hot Rolls

20160916_1149031600x1200That King Arthur bun recipe is so versatile.  It’s been my go-to recipe for all of my soft bun needs for a while now.  Great for hamburger or hot dog buns and these cloverleaf buns are no different.20160916_1119281600x1200I dump the ingredients into my bread machine and run the quick dough cycle, it gives the dough one rise and beeps to let me know it’s my turn.  Roll small pinches of dough between your palms and tuck them into a muffin pan.  These have risen again and have been brushed with butter prior to baking.  I set my convection oven at 375 and give them 6 minutes, then turn them.  I let the color at the 6 minute mark inform the timing, these were starting to brown so I gave them just 3 more minutes and peeked, then added a another minute for 10 minutes total.20160916_1134151600x1200

Bread and Jelly

I’ll post recipes for these in a bit. But I finally downloaded the photos. The jelly turned out great and it was very easy to make, well after all the fruit prep. The bread is four easy ingredients and very little kneading.



dsc037361600x1200We don’t have much info on Cleo, AKA Grumpy Kitty.  She’s an older kitteh and hasn’t been at St Francis long.20160908_1629571600x1200Stir fry chicken and broccoli is a favorite around here.  This one has red bell peppers, red onions, and mushrooms in a brown sauce with noodles.20160906_103238-1600x1200I mentioned doing a brisket in the smoker and finishing it in the toaster oven set to slow cook.  Here it is after a night in the fridge to firm it for slicing.20160907_1449411600x1200I said the new counter top oven would fit a 10″ cast iron skillet, here it is with beans ready for baking.  I use the same skillet for cornbread.20160907_1625221600x1200This is a favorite here, a real comfort food platter.  The beans may have come from that batch of beans in the photo above but I made two batches in as many days and I’m not quite sure.  dsc037301600x1200This is the same puppy we last saw with her head in a bag full of chicken.  She is a chihuahua mix with what may be terrier of some sort.20160911_1714461600x1200The local Kroger has sales on boneless rib eyes pretty often, not sure why that cut is featured above others but they can count on me to grab extra every time.20160910_1649261600x1200We often buy frozen shrimp already butterflied and breaded but these I did myself.  Dust the prepared shrimp with seasoned flour, dredge in beaten eggs, and then coat with bread crumbs – on these I used panko and they came out great after frying in 350 oil for about 2 minutes.dsc037241600x1200This is Roma.  She’s 4 months old, very affectionate, and would be thrilled to go home with you.