Chocolate Covered Cherry Cheesecake Bites

Sometimes you just don’t know if you want a dessert or a piece of candy.  Chocolate covered cherry cheesecake bites are a little bit of both!

For this recipe you can start with a frozen cheesecake, just like I did. Or you can make your own cheesecake and use it.  I suppose you would get way more, square shaped, cheesecake bites out of one you made yourself in a square pan than you can get out of a round pan.  Round is the only way I could I buy one the day I went shopping.

If you buy a frozen cheesecake for this, allow it to thaw before trying to cut it into pieces.  Cutting up a frozen cheesecake will result in fractured pieces.  You can bet that this is based on experience!  It took me just a minute to realize the error of my ways…….

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Meal-Prep Granola Breakfast Bars

 

These granola breakfast bars are the answer to my breakfast riddle. I am the kind of guy who would rather sleep an extra 15-30 minutes than eat breakfast, so I rarely eat breakfast on a week day. These meal-prep granola breakfast bars are my answer to the question, “what should I eat for breakfast?”

My wife and I have been on a meal prep-Sunday kick here lately. This recipe is great for folks who are looking for meal-prep recipes. This recipe can be easily and quickly made Sunday evening in preparation for the work week.

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10 Perfect Holiday Gifts for Your Favorite Home Chefs and Foodies

Over the years my wife and I have bought some pretty amazing things that we would think the average foodie would love to receive as gift. With holiday season rapidly approaching, we figured now would be an appropriate to share our favorite items any foodie would appreciate. We didn’t stick to any pricing guidelines, but we think these are pretty reasonable gifts. So here we go.


1. Finishing Salt

10-foodie-gifts-finishing-saltI don’t think a lot of people think about salt when they think of ingredients, but any chef knows that salt can either make or break a recipe. Too little salt in a recipe is just flat and bland. Another way to add flavor or texture to a dish is to sprinkle some finishing salt on top of your finished dish.

My wife bought my first finishing salt last year for Christmas. Finishing salts are salts with a large grain size or salt that have been flavored with special ingredients like smoke, wine, or citrus. Finishing salts can also come from special regions where their source of salts is known for its distinct flavor characteristics, Hawaii for example.

Finishing salts are great on steaks or even some chocolate treats. My favorite use of them is probably in risottos. Risottos really need a healthy dose of salt for it to really sing true. Finishing salts come in a large range of flavors and crystal sizes.

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Sweet and Spicy Fried Pickles

If you’ve visited a restaurant while visiting the deep south, I’m sure you’ve seen fried pickles on the menu. Fried pickles are a southern favorite and a pretty easy to make. Most folks who’ve never had a fried pickles tend to think the combination of frying a pickles as a little weird. However, I can promise you that once you try a fried pickle, you’ll order them every time you see them on the menu.

I’m kind of a fried pickle snob. Fried pickles, while delicious, can be easily ruined by one ingredient. Salt… a fried pickle that is too salty is sometimes just too difficult to eat, no matter how much ranch you cover it in. Finding the right pickle is pretty critical to the final product, so you’ll have to do a little bit of experimentation with the pickles available at your grocery store.

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Even though you might experiment with pickle varieties, we have settled on our absolute favorite pickle. Pickles from Wickles are sweet, spicy, and just a little bit salty. Wickles are thicker than your average sliced pickle, so the pickle-to-crust ratio is great. However, some folks in the south prefer their pickles razor thin to maximize the amount of crust. I think this is just an excuse to eat more fried crust with ranch dressing. With Wickles, you can actually enjoy the great flavor of the pick itself. I find myself eating the pickles for a snack sometimes.

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Southern Sweet Sun Tea

Sweet Tea is about as southern as you can get. Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world, up there with water, coffee, and beer (which are all things I love). You can go to every single restaurant south of St. Louis and find yourself a pitcher of sweet tea. As someone who isn’t from the south, I thought sweet tea was strange since every table also has a fair number of Sweet’n Low, Equal, and raw sugar packets. I always assumed everyone added sweetener to their liking. Southerners typically don’t like a touch of sweetness in their tea, we like it pretty darn sweet.

My mom often made sun tea growing up. Nothing is more memorable than mom making a big container of tea, sitting it on the porch, and letting it bask in the sun all afternoon. Mom would take the warm container after sitting in the sun for a few hours and toss it in the fridge. I can still have childhood memories of the summer sun shine on my face while drinking a refreshing glass of sweet sun tea. Nothing says summer like sweltering heat and an ice cold glass of sweet tea in a mason jar.

You need three things to make sweet sun tea: black tea, water, sugar, and a glass container.

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Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder

This is a recipe that Sam and I have been doctoring and tweaking for years. It’s a cheese spicy soup that’s prefect for those nights you want something warm and spicy.

Believe it or not, it actually gets cold in Mississippi. Once temperatures dip below 60°, people start pulling out their super thick winter coats and women pull out their ugly ugg boots. You would swear everyone around here is preparing to climb Mt. Everest. Even though I don’t share the low tolerance of Mississippian’s cold weather, I do love a nice bowl of hot soup on a cool or chilly day. Especially while watching college football.

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This recipe is super easy and super tasty. It features chicken, corn, and cheese. How can it get any better than that. We have experimented with a variety of cheeses, but our favorite cheeses are what we have listed in the recipe. Also, feel free to omit the cayenne if you don’t want it spicy. Add more if you want it hotter. I typically make the recipe as is and then sprinkle in my cayenne in my own bowl. My wife doesn’t like a super spicy recipe. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the recipe and be sure to give it a go this fall.

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Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

My Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce recipe doesn’t have a whole lot of family history. However, I love BBQ and this is one of my default sauces that I make for just about every party and gathering we host where we have something BBQ. My wife and I have experimented with this recipe for the last few years and its one we have settled on.

Even though we love this recipe and we consider it our standard, it’s something we still like to experiment with every now and then.This recipe is easily tweak-able and super friendly to experiment with. Want it less sweet? Back off the sugar. Want it more tart? add more vinegar. Want more heat? Add more cayenne. I tend to tweak this recipe based on what I’m cooking it with. For grilled foods like chicken and pork chops, I tend like to leave this recipe a little on the sweeter side. I like to use more vinegar when cooking fattier cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder. I think the vinegar helps balance and cut through the fat a bit better.

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Mississippi Coast French Toast

Mississippi Coast Toast is a play on Coast Toast from Brockton Villa’s in La Jolla. La Jolla Mom has a pretty good bead on the recipe. Toast coast is a custard type french toast that is soaked over night and baked the next morning. The weirdest ingredient in this recipe is orange juice and orange flavoring. Trust me, I know that adding orange juice to your french toast seems weird, but it really does add another layer of flavor to one of my breakfast meals.

My biggest issue with the original recipe is that it is kind of a pain in the ass to cook. Rarely am I thinking the night before about breakfast and I rarely want to let things rest for an  hour or longer before cooking it. I also don’t like cooking with things like “orange flavoring”.  My version is geared more towards the southern home with ingredients usually found at home, hence the name Mississippi Coast French Toast. For my version you just need eggs, milk, butter, vanilla extract, orange juice, and standard white bread.

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Home Roasting Coffee

I love coffee. I love everything about it: the aroma, the flavor, and the beneficial boost in energy. I am fortunate enough, even in north Mississippi, to have a local roaster. Strangebrew in Starkville always has an excellent variety of beans and blends to choose from.  However, even with a local roaster, I have managed to take coffee drinking too seriously by home roasting my own coffee beans. I don’t know many people who home roast, but I have found home roasting to be a really great hobby that doesn’t take up a lot of time and is relatively inexpensive to start. I figured it was time to give quick crash course on home roasting your own coffee. I still consider myself to be a noob when it comes to roasting, but I think I got enough of a handle on it to point newbies in the right direction.

So why home roast coffee? Well, the coffee you buy at your local coffee shop or grocery store has probably been sitting on the shelf for a while. Most american roasters don’t purge their packaging with nitrogen, so their beans will have optimum flavor for 10-14 days. The flavors of coffee you buy off the shelf probably aren’t at their peak anymore. Home roasting gives you the freshest coffee beans you can get. Green coffee beans also last a very long time if left unroasted and kept in proper storage conditions. If you buy your green beans in bulk, you will always have a supply of fresh coffee on hand in case of a zombie apocalypse. Green coffee beans are also very cheap compared to already roasted coffee. The primary reason to roast your own coffee is because it can taste better than anything you can buy at the store. Home roasting my coffee has opened a pandoras box of flavors and experiences with coffee.  Continue reading “Home Roasting Coffee”

Chocolate Bacon Bourbon Balls

Chocolate Bacon Bourbon Balls is a recipe I’ve been experimenting in preparation for football season. Football only a few months away, so I figured I’d start early with some new ideas and recipes.

I have to give credit when credit is due. This recipe was inspired by Martha and Jack’s Bourbon Truffle recipe over at A Family Feast. I took their recipe and gave it my own twists with more chocolate goodness and bacon.

This recipe is also inspired by a few of my favorite things: chocolate, bacon, bourbon, and college football (go bulldawgs!). Plus, bacon and bourbon seem to go hand-in-hand with football, at least it does here in the south. I can’t walk out of a college football game without seeing the stadium littered with small empty bourbon bottles. It’s a tradition, but one I’ve never partook inside a stadium. Continue reading “Chocolate Bacon Bourbon Balls”