Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta

Sometimes, the best foods have few ingredients and are easy to put together. Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta is one of those foods.

Served as an appetizer or light snack, this Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta is a great way to use the bounty of ripe tomatoes available during the summer months. In my opinion, there is no winter tomato or canned tomato product that can beat the taste of tomatoes fresh from the garden or farmers’ markets.

However, if you are looking for something different to serve at gatherings, this will work with the “on the vine” tomatoes from the store, even through the winter.  They may be a little mealy, but the flavor is better than other year round tomatoes.  Whenever I am forced to use these kind of tomatoes, I tend to cut out the middle mealy portions and just use the outside portions with skin still attached.

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Sweet Potatoes and Killer Bee Honey Butter

There are many things in the kitchen that are pretty easy to cook and mashed sweet potatoes is one of those things. In my opinion, cooking a sweet potato is cooking 101. If you’re a relatively inexperienced chef, keep on reading. If you’re an experienced home chef,  you can probably skip to the delicious recipes closer to the bottom of the post.

Everyone has seen someone massacre a sweet potato by boiling it in water. I think this is about the worst thing you could ever do to a sweet potato. Roasting it in the oven or baking it in aluminum foil is the best way to maintain, if not improve, the flavor. The key to baking a sweet potato is knowing when it’s done. Under cook it and you’ll be eating grit. Over cook it and you’ll squeeze the moisture out of it and you’ll be left with a watery stringy mess. Bleh!

Ok, a critical part to cooking a sweet potato begins at the grocery store. The size really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you buy all of the same sized sweet potatoes. You want them all to get done cooking at the same time, so don’t go buying big potatoes and little potatoes. I have seen some pretty huge sweet potatoes and some so small I’m not sure why the store is even selling them. I prefer to buy sweet potatoes that are about 2.5 inches in diameter. Buy too small and they can over cook quickly. Buy too large and the interior can be under cooked while the exterior is mush.

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Cheater Fried Rice

Cheater fried rice is my take on Chinese fried rice. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes online for fried rice. I have read many tips and tricks for the “perfect” fried rice. If memory serves me correctly and it might not, I am getting a touch older every day, they all start with cold leftover rice.

I can never seem to remember to make rice the day before. I have used boil-in-the-bag rice before on days when I could remember to at least cook it early enough in a day to refrigerate it for 6 hours or so first. That tactics seemed to work OK, but that too required more pre-planning than I care for some days.

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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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Diabetus Baked Beans

I can’t sit down to anything BBQ related without a side of baked beans to go with it. For me, baked beans, potato salad and some smoked meat (pork shoulder, brisket, ribs, etc.) is my idea of the perfect summer meal.

This recipe is a friend and family favorite. My sister annoyingly asks me to make this at least once a month. I often get asked to make this recipe for other functions because people enjoy it so much. However, I do have to warn you, this recipe is not healthy and has the potential of giving you diabetus, said in your best Wilford Brimley voice, and heart disease.

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Grandma Hunt’s Tomato, Cucumber, & Onion Salad

This is one of those rare recipes my mother made well. But she made it all the time. The recipe for Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad stayed taped to the inside of her spice cabinet. I don’t remember a time not seeing it anytime I went for a salt shaker.

It was always present at her parties by the pool. There would also be the required steaks on the grill, mushrooms, cucumbers and onions, boxed scalloped potatoes, and those little sponge cakes you can buy in the produce section of most stores alongside sweetened strawberries and vanilla ice cream (my mother’s version of strawberry shortcake).

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