Sweet Bacon Crackers

Sweet Bacon Crackers are an idea that have been running around the internet for quite some time.  Lord knows, I have looked at a few of them, so it is hard telling which onse was the first one I saw.  It is also hard to tell if there was any one recipe that I have used so I apologize to any other blogger out there who believes this recipe may belong to them.

This can be made any type of cracker that you would like.  I prefer the buttery small rectangles, only because I like the shape that this cracker becomes.  All of the cracker types will shrink somewhat in the general area the bacon is wrapped.

The key to keeping your crackers together is to keep the heat high in the oven.  If you cook these too slow, there is more time for the grease to absorb into the crackers and they will be soggy in the middle.  But if you like your pork fat, this might be the way you want to cook them.

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Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

I love bacon wrapped snacks and appetizers.  I have been making this bacon wrapped water chestnut for over 25 years.

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts are perfect for tailgating, game day parties, New Year’s parties, and just about any gathering of people.

I have been known to serve these at Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and even Christmas day while the holiday meal is cooking.

I am sure this came off of the back of a product, but it’s been a minute since I last saw it anywhere near a product package.  It could have been chestnuts, or soy sauce, or even Worcestershire sauce.

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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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Red Beans and Rice

I will not be able to concentrate on writing this post or recipe if I do not clear this out of my head – but a famous Sir Mix-A-Lot song keeps running through my head when I read red beans and rice in my head, the part about red beans and rice didn’t miss her………..  So there, I said it and I bet a few of you have that song running through your head now too don’t you?  Sorry about that.

I am not from the New Orleans area and have only visited there.  If it weren’t so stinking hot and humid there in the summer I might want to live there.  I love New Orleans in the fall months.  I am telling you all of this so that you will understand that I am not claiming that this is an authentic southern style red beans and rice recipe made in my grandmomma’s house in the deep south or even taught to me be anyone who lives even near the Mississippi Delta.

This a recipe that recreates for me what my mind remembers as one of the best rice and beans dishes I had ever eaten.  I ate it in New Orleans but don’t ask me to tell you when or where.  I used to travel with my job in my younger years, and New Orleans was frequently on my agenda. Continue reading “Red Beans and Rice”

Midwest Quesadillas

This recipe was also inspired by a restaurant from back in my hometown.  It was the first place I experienced the goodness of quesadillas.  I have to call these Midwest Quesadillas because just plain ole quesadillas might cause folks to expect a recipe containing toasted tortillas with tomatoes, peppers and perhaps some chicken, beef, carnitas, or even barbacoa in them.  Although, all of those options are tasty and I even think Ron may have one he will share on the blog someday, this one has none of the common ingredients in it expect maybe cheese and onions.

Even the cheese is not a common sight in quesadillas, this one uses jack cheese.  I remember when I first started making these I had to shred my jack cheese by hand.  These are so much easier to make now that shredded jack is readily available at most markets. Continue reading “Midwest Quesadillas”

Eggrolls

Egg rolls are my downfall in life.  They are like potato chips, I can’t eat just one.  Growing up an hours drive from Chicago we grew up eating at Chiam’s in Chinatown.  It is no longer in business which meant no more egg rolls from Chiam’s.  Eventually we started going to Rising Sun in Mokena, it was closer and we could do carry out orders.

But when we moved to Florida we were in for a rude awakening.  Chinese food was all the same at all locations (and it wasn’t delicious).  It is a phenomenon that has plagued us since.  The need for a good egg roll that reminded us of Chiam’s or even Rising Sun was nowhere to be found, so the experimenting started.

You may not like these, and it won’t hurt my feelings.  Egg roll preferences are a very personal thing.  Most people like the ones made in their area of the country and some like the generic version you get at most Chinese restaurant today that taste the same at all locations. Continue reading “Eggrolls”

Bratwurst in Beer

I am making bratwurst in beer today. It pairs really well with my too cheesy macaroni and cheese. Nothing like a heaping helping of cholesterol on one plate! Hey, I do try to eat a tomato on the side. Somehow in my mind it makes it healthier, please don’t message me to tell me that it isn’t any healthier…. I already know this, my day job is in healthcare.

Yes, it’s another recipe that can be served on a bun or some carb loaded wheat based product. We skip the mac and cheese if there is a bun……. In case no one has noticed, we eat a lot of “sandwich type” foods in this house. Blogging is time consuming. Sandwiches are quick.

My blogging partner (and son) makes his own bratwurst. Me? I buy a famous brand at the store and go from there. I am all about quick! Perhaps one day, I will try to make my own bratwurst from scratch too.  Hahahaha! Who am I kidding? I will leave the expansion of cooking skills to the next generation. Continue reading “Bratwurst in Beer”

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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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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Bratwurst and German Potato Salad

homemade-bratwurstBratwurst and German potato salad is one of my favorite meals to enjoy on the back porch during the spring and fall months. I’ll admit it now, the bratwurst in the photo above is homemade and it was made by me, but the recipe isn’t mine. It came straight out of the one cookbook every sausage connoisseur should own: Charcuterie – The Craft of Salting, Curing, and Smoking. I’m not going to post the recipe for the Bratwurst because I think folks should really buy this book. Form a historical standpoint, this book made me truly understand and the appreciate the art of curing meats and knowing exactly where my meat comes from. Buy… the… book… I’m being serious. Even if you don’t plan on making sausage, it’s a good read.

However, I can recommend a method for cooking your bratwurst. Most people just toss it on a grill or pan and go to town on searing it. I find that cooking this way often burns or over cooks the skins before the interior is done. One of the best methods to cook brats or any sausage is to simmer them in a pan, with the lid on, in a shallow liquid, until they are cooked through. Then finish them on the grill or in a pan. My favorite liquid to simmer my bratwurst in is beer. Oktoberfest to be specific. I’ll also chop up some onions and add them to my liquid. When the bratwurst are finish cooking, I’ll put them aside and I’ll finish cooking down the beer and onions until thick. The cooked onions are great with the bratwurst. I may add a little brown sugar to balance out the onions (beer can sometimes become bitter when cooked). Then I will finish the bratwurst on the grill or in a cast iron skillet.

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