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”

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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Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs

I think my sous vide baby back ribs are off the chart and I have to thank my sous vide machine for all of the magic. I love my sous vide machine. I don’t mean like kind of love. I really love it. It’s my favorite kitchen gadget. My wife and I use it at least once a week. There isn’t much I have cooked with it that didn’t turn out absolutely fantastic. I also love baby back ribs, but there are some days I just don’t feel like screwing with my smoker. One rainy weekend I really wanted ribs, but didn’t feel like babysitting the smoker in the rain, so I had the brilliant idea of doing some research on sous vide ribs.

There’s a lot of information on the interwebs about how to sous video a large variety of meats, including baby back ribs. The variation in information, techniques, and results is wide, so I am giving a rundown of my preferred method of cooking sous vide ribs. I don’t like tough ribs. I actually prefer my ribs to be almost fall off the bone tender. So in this recipe, we’re going to aim for some delicious fall off the bone sous vide baby back ribs.

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Honey Peanut Butter

 

honey-peanut-butter-feature1So who doesn’t love peanut butter? Well, I sure as hell do. I love peanut butter everything. My mom even has a peanut butter icing recipe because I love peanut butter just that damn much.

About three years ago I received some homemade peanut butter from a CSA I was participating in. Since then, I have been hooked on homemade peanut butter. It was hands-down better than anything you could get at the grocery store. I wasn’t able to figure out exactly what the farmer was using in his peanut butter, but this blog post is about the recipe I came up with. It’s pretty damn good and it frequently replaces our normal brand. I do keep the store bought stuff around for when I’m too lazy to make peanut butter.

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Chipotle Brined Pork Chops

I love pork chops, and my favorite way to prepare them is with a chipotle brine. Almost everyone skips brining their meat, but learning how to make a brine for my pork and chicken recipes have really been beneficial. My wife and I can’t cook a pork chop or a Thanksgiving turkey anymore without good soaking in a delicious brine.

If you don’t know what a brine is, it’s pretty simple. It’s just a salty liquid. The most important reason to use a brine is to improve the overall juiciness of the meat you are soaking in the brine. Brining works wonderfully with virtually all cuts of poultry and pork.

In this blog, we are going to stick to cooking pork chops. I feel pork chops are the one cut of meat that is traditionally cooked to oblivion and usually to the point of it being dry and tough. Using a brine fixes both of these issues.

My pork chop brines are usually composed of 10 parts water and 1 part salt by weight. I start with 500 grams of water, 500 grams of ice cubes, and 100 grams of salt. I know weighing out water and salt seems a little anal retentive, but it’s the one sure way my brine concentration is always consistent. A food scale is probably the most used tool in my kitchen.

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Buttermilk Sugar Biscuits

Buttermilk-Cream-Biscuits-Body-2Biscuits in the south are a tradition and our buttermilk sugar biscuits is our version of the southern classic. It seems that every household in the deep south has their own special recipe for biscuits. Our house is no different. Nothing gives me more joy on a Saturday or Sunday morning than whipping up a batch of buttermilk sugar biscuits for breakfast.

My wife and I have worked on our own biscuit recipe for the past few years. We could always make a solid biscuit, but it was never exactly what we were looking for. We have tried traditional southern biscuit recipes, buttermilk biscuits, and cream biscuits. Cream biscuits were our jam for a while, but we finally came across a buttermilk biscuit recipe that was also the cat’s meow. We could never decide on which recipe to make for breakfast, so we combined them! Through experimentation, my wife and I were able to combine the best of both cream biscuits and buttermilk biscuits.

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Boulevardier

A boulevardier is now my all time favorite mixed drink. When I was in college, I foolishly believed that mixed drinks were for girls. Boy was I wrong. As I get older I could care less about what other people think about my drink of choice at the bar. I have zero problems or ordering a cosmo in a group of grown adults. Who doesn’t love cranberry juice?! Real men drink whatever they want without being bothered by what other men or women think of them.

Anyways, I’m a fan of bourbon and bourbon mixed drinks. An old fashion or a whiskey sour were my default go-to drinks until I discovered the Boulevardier. This drink is typically composed of bourbon, campari, and sweet vermouth. Most recipes call for an ounce of each. I have also seen a lot of recipes call for 1.5 oz of bourbon, 1 oz of compari, and 1 oz of sweet vermouth. Well, I really like bourbon, so I go with 2 oz bourbon, 1 oz compari, and 1 oz sweet vermouth.

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