Friday Recipe Exchange: 4th of July Cookout Ideas

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Since the 4th of July is barreling toward us, I thought I should get some ideas together. This is absolutely my favorite holiday. Food, fireworks and friends, what could be better?  So let’s jump  right into the food portion of our festivities.

These are quick and easy ribs if you don’t want to do the smoke for the whole day style, the citrus glaze is the star of this recipe: Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze (recipe here).

Buttermilk Pie (click here) will get all the ooo’s and aaahhh’s, until the fireworks anyway. As pretty as it is tasty.

JeffreyW makes a Classic Orange/Lemon Shakeup (pictured above and recipe here)

And for a different take on cucumber salad, how about Minted Cucumbers, (recipe here).

Hopefully that will give you some ideas for your own July 4th celebration. What’s on your menu for this weekend and for the holiday? What are your favorite recipes for the celebration? We always have to leave room for the funnel cake at the fireworks. Hit the comments to share your recipes and what you like to do on the 4th.

Tonight’s featured recipe is one I made a few years ago on a whim, inspired by a recipe I didn’t follow for various reasons, and I get requests for it every July 4th now. Because it’s a kabob style, it’s a bit labor intensive, but you can prepare all of it the day before. If you want your chicken even drunker, you can soak it in the extra bourbon overnight.

Drunken Chicken 1

Grilled Bourbon Chicken Appetizers

12  servings

  • 1- 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  •  1/4 cup chopped Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  •  1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Bourbon whisky (how much you use and what you do with the leftover is between you and your bottle)
  • 8 oz pineapple chunks
  • 12 strips of sliced bacon (should be a pound)
  • 12 short wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before assembling and grilling*

Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch x 2-inch cubes, you should have 36 pieces (you can soak in bourbon if you like)

Mix together Chipotle peppers, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and add enough whisky and pineapple juice to make a thick sauce. Cover chicken cubes on all side with sauce and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

To assemble: Start with a pineapple chunk, add one end of full bacon strip, add chicken cube, then wrap bacon around the top of the cube and skewer, add another cube of chicken, wrap bacon around the bottom of that piece of chicken, then skewer, add a third and repeat with the bacon strip, you’re creating a ribbon with the bacon. Finish with a pineapple chunk.

(And I wish I had a photo of that step for you, but we got so busy doing them, I forgot to get the camera out. When I make them this year, I’ll remember, promise. I barely got a finished picture, had to grab someone’s plate before they started munching).

Grill over medium high heat (if using coals, start over hot coals, then move away from direct heat for the remainder of cooking time), turning frequently. Cook until chicken is 160-165 degrees. Shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, don’t overcook or you’ll have dry, rubbery appetizers. Serve hot.

*please don’t forget this step or all you’ll have for appetizers is flaming skewers.

That’s it for this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next week. And if you missed it, this week’s complete dinner menu and shop list is Pork Stir-fry and Tangy Lemon Pie (click here).  Have a safe and happy 4th! – TaMara



Men Who Cook: Joseph Noble’s Pork Enchiladas

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Photo by JeffreyW

Joseph posted this recipe link at my request over at Balloon-Juice during one of the recipe threads (Friday Recipe Exchange is cross posted there each week). I thought while I was away, guest recipes would be a great way to fill the void. 😀

These sound amazing.

From Joseph:

Joseph’s Savory Chipotle Pork Enchiladas

If you need a little wapow in your life, here’s one way to do it. These enchiladas are savory to the nth degree, which makes them one of my favorite recipes I’ve ever made. I suggest serving with white rice seasoned with some lime juice and chopped cilantro.

First, you need to caramelize an onion. Chop it up roughly, and saute it in some olive oil for at least 30 minutes. Keep stirring it!

While that’s happening, make some enchilada sauce. Don’t open a can! Here’s the recipe for that:

Red Enchilada Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 8 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 4 cups chicken broth

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano). Then gradually add in the chicken broth, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.

I use dark chili powder, so my sauce came out really brown. I imagine using bright red chili powder will make it redder. But it doesn’t matter. This enchilada sauce is so good and easy, you’ll never buy it at the store again.

That’s actually a double batch, which is what I needed for all the enchiladas I was making. If you want to cut down the size of the recipe, just cut it in half. But this sauce stores well in the refrigerator, is all I’m saying.

Now you need to get the filling together. I based this on Emeril’s recipe at Food Network, but he had a sour cream sauce and used green chilies.

  • 2 pounds roast pork
  • Caramelized onion
  • 1/3 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 pound Mexican cheese blend

This is the easy part. Mix that all together. I chopped up the roast pork and then minced up the chipotle peppers. You can find these little cans in the Mexican food section of your supermarket. If you can’t, move to a town where you can! Kidding – I’ll send you some because they’re little.

Now to build the enchiladas. Wait! Put the rice on to cook first, then you can start this.

  1. Corn tortillas
  2. Pork enchilada filling from above
  3. Enchilada sauce from above
  4. 1/2 pound Mexican cheese blend.

Heat the oven to 450. Get you some baking pans to cook enchiladas in. I used 2 square Pyrex pans and one cake pan and got 22 enchiladas out of them. But use what size you have handy. Spray some Pam in the bottoms for easy cleaning later.

Now ladle some sauce in the bottom of the pans to cover. Take a corn tortilla and put 1/4 cup filling on it. Roll it up tight and lay in the pan seam side down. Keep doing that until you run out of filling.

Then ladle the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Use a spoon to make sure sauce has hit every square millimeter of tortilla. Then sprinkle the cheese over the enchiladas and cover it with foil.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.

And it’s done! I got 22 enchiladas out of it and I was proud of myself for stopping after eating four. Now I have 18 to eat through the rest of the week. And I mean it when I say they are savory. They are power-packed – very rich and zingy!

Oh, you want nutritional information? OK…

Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size 1 enchilada (5.4oz)
  • Calories from Fat 120
  • Calories 256
  • Total Fat 13g
  • Saturated Fat 5g
  • Cholesterol 42mg
  • Sodium 1000mg
  • Potassium 300mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 16g
  • Dietary Fiber 3g
  • Sugars 1g
  • Protein 18g

That sodium number is high! I used no salt added chicken broth for the enchilada sauce, so mine were actually a lot lower than that. But if you use regular chicken broth, that’s pretty much what they will be.

Thanks Joseph, feel free to share recipes anytime! – TaMara


Breakfast pr0n

I wanted to use my adobo sauce, the steak strips for this steak and eggs breakfast seemed the perfect spot.  It was very good, all that I had hoped.  I failed to make these eggs as pretty as I had wanted, I was fooling with the deep fryer and the “sunny side up” part got away from me.  I love these deep fried tortillas, nearly let this one go too long, too,  I had a bean and cheese burrito rolled and wrapped in paper in the fridge and was fiddling with it when I saw the tortilla turning crisp.  While the oil was hot I dropped in the burrito – a deep fried burrito is a chimichanga.  I’m glad that, at least, nothing burned.  The breakfast wasn’t quite as pretty as it could have been if I had planned better – the parts and pieces of this came together in my mind as the eggs cooked.  I love cooking breakfast!

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

I think I mentioned a while back that Mrs J wanted me to pick all the jalapenos on the bushes growing in containers out in the patio garden.  I picked a couple of dozen that were still hanging in there this late in the season.  I have plenty of them pickled so it was either freeze or dry them and I decided to try my hand at smoking them as they dried in my smoker rig.  Worked like a charm! Dried and smoked jalapenos are also known as chipotles and I’m sure you’ve heard of chipotles in adobo sauce.  I thought it would be fun to make that myself.  I wasn’t too sure about the adobo sauce but teh Google found a nice description complete with recipes.  There was a quick recipe for the chipotles and one a little more involved for an adobo sauce:

“…begin with eight dried guajillo chiles and eight dried ancho chiles with the tops and seeds removed. Fry them in hot oil for about ten seconds per side, then boil them in 12 cups of water and a half cup of white vinegar. Leave them to soak in the pot overnight.

The next day, remove the chiles and discard the soaking solution. Puree the chiles in a blender with a bit of chicken or beef broth, depending on the meat you are using. Next, sauté one onion and six cloves of garlic, diced, in a large saucepan. Add the chile paste, two cups of broth, one teaspoon each of black pepper and cumin, one half teaspoon cinnamon, one quarter teaspoon salt, one tablespoon oregano, a quarter cup each of vinegar and lemon juice, three quarters of a cup orange juice, and two tablespoons tomato paste.  Cook the entire mixture for about half an hour, or until it is as thick as you would like it.”

I snipped the stems from my chipotles and cooked them with the adobo sauce.  I didn’t have any orange juice so I used apple cider, and subbed lime juice for the lemon juice.  It really did end up just about the same as the canned item you can find in most any store these days.  I’m looking forward to using these in my next Tex-Mex dish.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Chipotle Macaroni Salad

Photo by JeffreyW

EDIT: Just realized the tomatoes were omitted from the ingredient list. Corrected now.

What a week. The Colorado wildfires became personal again, as my office was smack in the middle of an evacuation zone. The authorities never had to make it mandatory and as I write this, that fire is well contained.  Add to that, one of the guys I work with was in a horrible motorcycle accident at the beginning of the week and that shook us all up. I was ready for the week to be over sometime around Tuesday night, so I’m grateful it’s Thursday and the weekend is within sprinting distance. Even happier that Independence Day is around the corner

Since I love July 4th, I have quite a few recipes that celebrate it with great picnic foods. All 21 of them can be found at this link.  There is quite a variety: fancy appetizers; cold salads; grilling ideas; fun desserts; and even cold drinks. There is also an entire post of potato salad recipes from Balloon-Juicers.

I really like tonight’s featured recipe. It was a huge hit last year at the July 4th picnic. I’m actually making it right now for a going away party, that’s how it became tonight’s recipe.

All right, now it’s your turn, what are your favorite foods on July 4th? Are you all-American with burgers and dogs or something more sophisticated? Share your favorites in the comments and we can all argue about it, good-naturedly of course.

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Chipotle Macaroni Salad

Chipotle Mayonnaise:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp limejuice

Mix together ingredients and set aside while macaroni cooks.

Macaroni Salad:

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (or equivalent)
  • 8 oz cubed sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 thick cut bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • 1 cup chipotle mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt and macaroni. Cook until al dente (firm to tooth). Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Do not drain well, allow macaroni to stay wet, remove to bowl. Immediately add garlic, celery, onion, parsley and lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in cheddar cheese, tomatoes, bacon and chipotle mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to chill 15 – 30 minutes. Serves 8-10.

Just a note: There will be no recipe exchange next Thursday, we’ll pick up again on July 12th.

Macaroni Salad with Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Chipotle Mayonnaise: UPDATED

UPDATED:  Now with bacon.  Friend of blog reminded me I was going to add bacon to this recipe (though he suggested Pancetta).  See updated recipe below.

This is what I’m taking to the 4th of July picnic. (Photos to follow). What are you cooking this holiday weekend?

Macaroni Salad with Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Chipotle Mayonnaise

Chipotle Mayonnaise:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp limejuice

While macaroni is cooking, mix together ingredients.

Macaroni Salad:

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley
  • 8 oz cubed sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 thick cut bacon strips, cooked and crumbled.
  • 1 cup chipotle mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt and macaroni. Cook until al dente, (firm to tooth). Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Do not drain well, allow macaroni to stay wet, remove to bowl. Immediately add garlic, celery, onion, parsley and lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in cheddar cheese, bacon and chipotle mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to chill 15 – 30 minutes. Serves 8-10.


Yeah, yeah.  Been there and done that.

Deal with it.  This is seriously good stuff.  I did make this batch a bit differently than the last few.  I used the counter top roaster to cook the pork and added a bunch of onions and dried peppers to the pan with the meat.  Cleaned a  head of garlic and slipped most of the head into slits cut here and there on the roast.  Took the powdered dried peppers I made a while back and gave everything inside the pan a good dusting with that, along with some onion powder and plenty of ground black pepper.  Poured in a good quart of chicken stock and turned it on to 350.  I shoved a temperature probe into the sweet spot and set it to beep when it got to 165.  Worked like a charm.

I took the cooked roast out and set it to cool on a board and then strained the peppers and onions and other solids from the juices left in the pan.  Ladle off the fat from the good stuff or do as I did–put the bowl into the freezer until the fat hardens and you can lift it out.

Drag out the blender and dump in the solids you strained from the drippings and the defatted juices and pulse to puree, add chicken stock or water to make it thin enough to pour back into the pot.  Those chilies and cooked onions with a few cloves of cooked garlic make a super duper flavoring.  I enhanced mine with a few chipotles in adobo sauce.  The juice of a lime will work well in there.

Shred or chop the pork when it is cool enough to handle.  Peel off the fat and gristly parts.  Dump the meat into a big stock pot, add some hominy, a few more onions cut up into largish pieces, add enough chicken stock to cover well.  Add the puree of peppers and onions and bring the pot to a simmer, keep it there for at least an hour, longer is better.  Give the broth a taste and adjust for salt and heat.  Add more pureed  chipotles, perhaps with some red pepper flakes or whole dried chilies.  Knock yourself out.  I like a good bit of oregano in mine, I put in a good tablespoon-that’s in 5 quarts or so, maybe 6, of soup.


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Chili Beans

Been having fun canning tomato sauces so I decided to branch out just a little bit.  Took a couple of pounds of dried beans, a pound each of red and black beans, and set them to simmering.  When they got soft I dumped most of the water and started ladling in tomato juice from the latest bucket of tomatoes.  Added garlic and chili powder, ancho sauce and some adobo sauce, some red pepper flakes, a touch of ground cayenne, some black pepper and some salt.  That’s been on a low flame all afternoon with the occasional addition of another ladle full of the ever thickening tomato juice.  Last thing to go in was a good amount of sliced pickled jalapenos.  When the quart jars are done in the dishwasher I’ll spoon the beans into them and fire up the pressure canner.