Sunday, December 12, 2010

BBQ Pulled Pork>a southern calssic

BBQ pulled pork is the King of Southern BBQ! Rich, tender, flavorful and smoky, for me at least it is a draw between Beef Brisket and Pork Butt I love them both. There are as many ways to prepare and smoke a Boston Butt as there are BBQ Pit Masters everybody seams to put their own little twist on it. I have tried many variations through the years some where fantastic and mediocre(There is no such thing as bad BBQ some may be better than others but it is all good!) I took what I liked from various recipes and added it to what I was doing and tweaked it here and there along the way to come up with what I feel is a very good product with well balanced flavors of sweet & heat, spicy and savory.
This is Low & Slow cooking done over many hours, although labor intensive the pay off is worth the price of admission. The Rub is key to quality BBQ in not only creating the "Bark" (dark crusty exterior) it carries the flavors that are associated with BBQ that when combined with the smokiness that is imparted from cooking with wood that make this so special. Enjoy!

Note: I know that some folks do not have access to a BBQ pit or may be living in an apt. in a concrete jungle. You can prepare this in your oven it will be good but will be lacking the smokiness that come form cooking over wood. Included here you will find a few pointers to help you over come this at the bottom of the page.

Prep time: 15 min                                           Cooking time: Varies depending on the weight of the meat.


1 Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder (I look for about 8 lb bone in Butts)
 Worcestershire Sauce

The Rub

 4 oz Paprika
1/2 cup Turbinado Sugar
2 tsp onion powder
2 tbl lemon pepper                                             
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp mustard powder
2 tbl kosher salt

( Combine the above spices in a 1 gal Zip bag seal and agitate to mix it can be stored in the bag  or transferred to an air tight container with a shaker top)

Remove the meat from the packaging rinse under cold running water pat dry with paper towels.

Position the Butt with the fat cap up and score the Butt with diagonal cuts first one direction then the opposite direction.  You should end up with a diamond pattern. This opens up the top of the Butt allowing the fat to render and baste the meat as it cooks and all so holds more Rub thereby creating more flavorful Bark.

Slather the Butt with Worcestershire sauce then liberally apply the rub to the outside. 

Build the fire in your Pit and bring the temp to 230 - 240 º F place the Butt in the pit Fat Cap up and put the probe of your digital thermometer in a meatiest part of closest to the center of the Butt. Close up the pit and no peeking;If your looking you aint cooking!

Maintain the temperature in your Pit until the internal temp of the Butt reaches 190 º F. At this point you need to preform what I call the poke test.; using a wooden skewer press into the meat if it slides in with no resistance ( Hot Knife through Butter feel) it is done. if it offers any resistance continue to cook and check it again when the internal temp has increased by 5 º F. most will yield between 200 - 205 º F.

Remove the Butt from the pit and double wrap it in  aluminum foil.. Line the Bottom of an empty cooler with news paper and place the wrapped Butt in the cooler.
Cover the Butt with folded bath towels filling up the space in the cooler allow to rest for at least 1 hour. I have left them like this for up to 8 hours.

After a rest remove the Butt from the cooler the bone will pull out cleanly. remove what little is left of the fat cap and pull the pork while it is warm. 

This is purely optional but I usually apply a little rub over the top then toss it through.
Traditional BBQ sauce for this is a Western N.C. vinegar sauce, however my DR. Pepper BBQ sauce works well too.

As promised this can be prepared in your oven if you do not a BBQ pit. with some simple changes.

To the rub add a tsp of *cumin(adds some smokiness)
Inject the Butt with 1 cup of apple juice mixed with 1 tsp liquid smoke
Lower the rack in the oven to the lowest point and put the prepared Butt in a roasting rack in a roasting pan.
Set the oven temperature to 230º F and follow the above instructions.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce

Texas is synonymous with BBQ it is a food group unto its self. Whether your idea of BBQ is Ribs, Chicken, Sausage, Pork or the undisputed "King of Texas BBQ" Brisket. All  BBQ needs a great sauce. Now let me say here really good BBQ should not need any sauce to be good, the meat will speak for it's self. This is not to say that great BBQ can not be enhanced with a touch of a quality sauce served on the side.
Two of the largest growing condiment lines are BBQ sauce and Hot sauce, look around the next time you are at the Market to many choices for this Cowboy to deal with. I decided to make my own based on what I consider the flavors of Texas. Something unique that will go nicely with all BBQ. As a base I chose my favorite beverage Dr. Pepper not only for its complex flavors but because it tastes so good with BBQ I have lots of experience here trust me. The resulting sauce has a sweet start that really elevates the BBQ's sweetness with a spicy finish and a little back heat, with the undercurrents of the Dr. Pepper in the back ground rounding out the experience. Enjoy!

Prep time: 10 min                                   Cook time: 40 min

Dr.Pepper BBQ sauce


2 cans Dr. Pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup veg oil
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Basil
1 cup Hunts ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp New Mexico Chili powder
1/3 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Black Strap molasses

Place everything in the blender except 1 can of Dr. pepper and blend for 1 min. Transfer to a sauce pan stir in the remaining Dr pepper. bring to a low boil reduce heat to a simmer and reduce by 1/2. Cool and bottle.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Smoked Turkey Enchiladas

Every year I tell my self "get a smaller bird" and with out fail I never do. So there is plenty leftover, For sandwiches, pot pie, soup, and the king of turkey leftovers Turkey Enchiladas. This years bird I cooked on the smoker with a little pecan wood, dry brined with lemon and Mexican oregano. So using some of this super tasty meat in these enchiladas was incredible.
Mostly I use corn tortillas for my enchiladas but these are so much better with flour tortillas, Maybe it is me but I truly love a turkey sandwich on white bread and these keep with that theme. I pick up the flavors of fall in the sauce with cinnamon and clove and the filling with some Butternut Squash. I warn you these are truly amazing, mildly spicy and bursting with flavor You may decide to have turkey more than once a year. Enjoy!

Perp time: 30 min                                        Cooking time: 30 min

Tools: 13 x 9" casserole dish


8 Flour Tortillas
1 1/2 cups grated Monterrey Jack

2 cups turkey meat (diced under 1/2")
1/2 cup butternut squash (roasted and diced under 1/2 ")
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/3 cup diced onion
1 Jalapeno de seeded and diced (2 if you like it spicy like I do)
1 tsp comino seed
2 tbl chopped cilantro
2 tbl veg oil (or rendered turkey fat)
1/2 cup chicken stock

Enchilada sauce:
1/4 cup veg oil
1/4 cup flour
2 tbl ground chili powder (ancho & passilla)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups chicken stock


Prepare the enchilada sauce by starting in a heavy bottom skillet over med heat. Mix the spices and the flour together in a small bowl and warm the chicken stock in a small pan. dump the spices into the warm skillet and toast the spices stirring constantly until they become fragrant and add the veg oil and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Slowly whisk in the warm chicken stock and bring to the boil reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes remove from the heat.

To prepare the filing warm a heavy bottom skillet over med heat and add the oil and comino seed allow to toast in the warm oil for a minute and add the vegetables stirring frequently until the onions become translucent.
Add the turkey to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and cover the skillet loosely reduce heat and simmer until the stock has reduced to almost nothing leaving a moist filling 5-7 minutes add the cilantro.

Assembling the Enchiladas:
Spoon some of the Enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole to lightly coat the bottom.
Using a pair of tongs dredge a tortilla into the sauce and place into the casserole and fill with 3 tbl of the turkey filling. Place this off center and closer to you. grasp the edge closest to you fold it over the filling and tuck the edge under the filling and roll up the tortilla placing the seam on the bottom of the casserole dish. Slide it to the opposite end and repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Cover the top with abou1/2 cup of the sauce and finish with the grated Monterrey Jack. Cover the Casserole dish with  aluminum foil and bake in a 375º F for 20 minutes uncover and bake for 5 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Side toppings Crema, Pico de Giao, sour cream, pickled radishes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Canberry Sauce>Turkeys other best friend

When I think of  the Thanksgiving Feast there are all those delicious traditional dishes that can be found on most all holiday tables. Then there is the RED gelatinous cylindrical blob on a plate usually dressed up with a leaf of lettuce for a bed, it is the dreaded Cranberry sauce. I grew up thinking that is what cranberry sauce was supposed to be and gave my mom praise for carving those decorative  rings around its exterior, once a year she would develop Ninja Knife skills to impress the crowd. Sound familiar?

My first experience with whole berry cranberry sauce came in my early 20's. I was stationed in San Diego unable to get leave to be home (Some body has to mind the store) I ate my Thanksgiving meal in the Officers Club. Part of the condiments on the table where a whole berry cranberry sauce. Mom got a phone call not long after that and we had a good laugh about her Ninja skills and how I must seek out therapy because I was deprived as a child.

Thanksgiving is such a great time with amazing food and I hate the thought of only having this incredible dinning experience only once a year so I celebrate it twice the traditional and again in July. Although the menu is built around the summer turkey is the protein of choice. Have you ever tried to find cranberries in July in Texas? So I needed to find a solution. Little did I know this would become THEE cranberry sauce for all my turkey dinners. So easy and very good it, it is one of those recipes that give maximum bang for the buck with ingredients that can be picked up in any grocery store any time of the year. Enjoy!

Perp time: 10 min                                cooking time: 30 min                   yield: 2 1/2cups


1 med granny smith apple
2 cups cranberry juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 6oz pkg dried cranberries
Juice of 1/2 a lime: about 1 1/2 tbl spoons
1 tsp corn starch and 1 tsp cranberry juice, mixed
pinch of salt


Core peal and  finely dice 1/2 of the apple.
Put a high sided skillet over med heat pour in the cranberry juice, lime juice, apple and the spices. Bring to a simmer and add the berries and sugar.
 Simmer 20 min until the berries plump up and the sauce thickens
Stir in the corn starch and cranberry slurry simmer for 3 min remove from heat and transfer to a bowl and refrigerate uncovered till cool.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chocolate Eclair Desert> Skinny Food; really!

I found this recipe on a cooking site some time ago I cut and pasted it into a word document and saved it. So if you are the original poster Thank you !
As I have stated before I am a self diagnosed Doughnut Junkie. You wave a Chocolate Eclair in front of me and I guarantee I will be "your new best friend". After all I ask you what is better than fried sweet dough filled with vanilla pastry cream and covered in chocolate icing.May be two, one for each hand! 
 With the holidays fast approaching it seems as everybody gets stressed with more on the ToDo list then there are hours in the day. Coupled with the trend toward heavy comfort food in the cooler weather and shorter days.  You can get to feeling a little guilty when it is time for desert and so many sweet treats tempting you. So the thought of a rich Chocolate Eclair while tempting may make the little person with the Halo that whispers in your ear say "No don't eat that!" But what if you could with no guilt? Interested??
Enter the Chocolate Eclair desert, Now this is not the original recipe That I have living in my hard drive recipe file. I Lightened it up but you would never no it.
Easy and  to prepare with off the shelf items that you could probably find in a convenience store. It is so good that folks will think you spent hours preparing it, while you smile keeping the little secret that it is a low calorie/fat desert. They will never now. Enjoy!

Perp time: 10 min                           Refrigerator time: 2 hrs min

Tools: 13x 9 " pan


1 box Graham crackers
2 boxes sugarfree French vanilla pudding
2 cups Shim milk                                       
1 tub sugar free Chocolate fudge frosting


Mix the two boxes of pudding with the two cups of Skim Milk ( I know the box says 2 cups per box) We are making pastry cream not pudding.

Open the grahams and lay a layer on the bottom of the  of the *pan
 Spread 1/2 of the pudding/pastry cream over the grahams then follow with another layer of grahams. Change
the direction of the layer. It makes for neater slices.
Cover this layer with the other 1/2 of the pastry cream and top with another layer of grahams

Remove the plastic lid from the Frosting and the safety seal. Microwave 30 sec on high give it a srir and heat 20 sec more.

Pour the Frosting from the tub over the top layer of grahams evenly smooth it out with the back of a spoon.  Cover the pan plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours minimum over night is better.

* the pan in the picture is 8X8 I made a half batch.

Monday, November 15, 2010

BBQ Meatballs

I Know what your thinking "these are those little gut bombs that I had at the last what ever party from the wholesale place." WHOA not so fast! I promise you these are not even close to those dreaded frozen in the bag ho hum marbles. These are are the food of the BBQ gods. Tender and  moist packing big time flavor. I think of them as BBQ Crack, one bite and your hooked . This is big time comfort food that at home on the plate with some mashed potatoes or Mac & Cheese that will chase the Blues away.

The thing I like about these is their versatility, I have baked them in the oven, smoked them in my wood fired BBQ Pit, and slow cooked in the Crock pot. What ever route you decide to go you will be richly rewarded.
The first time I had these was at a potluck supper. I passed on them at first but my date that night was adventurous and insisted I have a taste, to say I was pleasantly surprised is to understate the Happy Dance my taste buds where preforming. I was on a mission and left that evening with the recipe. I was amazed by it's simplicity and surprisingly few ingredients. Over time I Tried a few things, small changes here and there and have developed this into a real show stopper. Enjoy!

Perp time: 40 min                        cook time : 2 1/2 hrs             Yield 2 dzn

Tools: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, small bowl, wax paper



1 1/2 lb Ground chuck 80/20
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp lemon pepper
3 tbl finely diced onion
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
2 tbl lt brown sugar
1tsp ground ginger

BBQ Sauce:

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water.
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 tbl lemon pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp onion powder
2 good dashes Louisiana hot sauce
2 tbl grape jam
1/3 cup water


Break up the ground chuck in a mixing bowl  add the dry spices, Worcestershire, oats and milk mix to combine. place the meat in the freezer for 15 min to firm up.

In a sauce pan over medium heat combine the ingredients for the BBQ sauce except for the water and simmer for 15-20 min. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the largest skillet you have over med low heat with 2 tbl of vegetable oil.
Remove the meat from the freezer roll approximately 2 tbl spoons of the meat into a ball ( the mix will be tacky a light touch is required) and drop into the small bowl of all-purpose flour  to coat then place on the wax paper.

Brown the meatballs on all sides to firm the exterior.

If you are going to cook these in the oven place then in a 13x 9" baking dish  add the 1/2 cup water to the BBQ sauce give it a quick stir and pour over the meatballs, place the meatballs in your oven and set it to 225 deg and bake uncovered 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

If you will be using a Crock Pot put the browned meatballs in the crock, prepare the sauce like above cook on low 4 hrs or high for 2-1/2 hrs lay a wooden spoon across the crock at 1 end raising the lid to allow the sauce to thicken.

If you are going to do these in a smoker put the meatballs in a disposable aluminum pan NO sauce! Run the smoker at 225- 240 for 1 1/2 hours then add the sauce with only 1/4 cup of water. Continue to smoke
for 45 min to an hour.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


It seems the older I get the more I look to those childhood memories to get me into the "Spirit of the Holidays". The one thing that never fails to give me that nudge is the spicy warmth, rich and deep flavor of gingerbread. This year for some reason I started to get slight cravings in like July that I had to put down with Ginger Snaps and lemon icing.( Some day I will go there with you but this is Gingerbread today.) 
  For me the aroma of Gingerbread fresh from the oven brings to life in my mind a Norman Rockwell winter scene from the bank calender that used to hang by the telephone near my Mom's kitchen. She would always give me a piece, still warm  from the oven with a spoon of whipped cream paired with a mug a of Hot Chocolate into which she would place a peppermint stick. Life was good !!
Not being able to contain my cravings and not quite in the holiday spirit it was time to make this favorite treat to get me fired up. I hope that you will create some memories too. Enjoy!

Pep time: 30 min                    cook time: 30 min

Tools: 8x8" pan, mixer

1 cup of  *butter milk
1cup molasses
1stick unsalted butter
2 1/13 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 salt
* If you do not have buttermilk you can add 2 tsp of lemon juice to a cup of milk and wait for 10 min, or you can substitute 1 cup of either sour cream  or plain yogurt.

Grease and lightly flour  the 8x8" pan, line the bottom with parchment . Preheat your oven to 350 º F

In a small sauce pan over med heat warm the molasses and add the butter to the warm molasses. Whisk together the molasses and the melted butter and pour into the bowl of your mixer and mix for 3 min on low. Slowly add the butter milk. Continue to mix on low 1 min..

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Slowly introduce the dry ingredients to the to wet in the mixer bowl until it is all incorporated. As soon as everything is blended stop mixing and transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 30 - 35 min until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Corn Bread

One of my favorite foods has to Corn bread. Warm from the oven with a slathering of butter it is something that puts a smile on my face. I can't imagine having a bowl of beans with out it as a side or as alight dinner in in the form of "crumble"( broken up in to a glass of buttermilk). There are those who like their corn bread sweet and some prefer it spicy. I'm a firm believer that yellow corn meal produces the beat flavor regardless of where you find yourself in the sweet or savory debate.
Trying to find that perfect harmony between sweet and savoy is not nearly as difficult as trying to get the texture just right. I have had some that was so grainy it was like eating sand and on the other end so tender it wants to fall apart if you look at it to hard. I have played with corn bread  for recipes for a while until I got the textue just right, Moist,with a med crumb crispy on the edges, not to sweet just a tiny bit savory that can go sweet or be spiced to suit  your own taste buy adding chili powder or your favorite chili pepper, herbs like rosemary or cheese. Don't be afraid to twist it a little. Enjoy!

Prep time: 6 min                           Cook time: 30 min

Tools: 8x8 " glass baking dish


1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1tbl sugar (add 2 tbl total if you like it sweet)
2  lg eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk


Grease the 8x8" baking dish and set aside, preheat your oven to 400 º F.

In a medium mixing bowl measure out all the dry ingredients stir to combine and form a well in the center
In  a 2 cup measuring cup beat two lg eggs with the 1/2 cup oil stir in the milk

Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix together until you can not see and dry remaining. the batter will have some lumps and that is ok, It is important not to over mix.
Pour the batter immediately into the prepared baking dish and strait into the Preheated oven on the center rack. Bake 30 - 35 min until a wooden skewer  inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Boston Baked Beans

Most cultures of the world seem to have a signature bean dish, from the French it is the Cassoulet in Mexico her Re-fried beans and here at home it is Boston Baked Beans. Go into any supermarket and you will find can upon can of baked  beans and their cousin pork and beans lining the shelves. Some are not bad and others..  well... not so much, all requiring help to get to passable.
If you have ever had the opportunity to have the real McCoy these  pressure cooked supermarket varieties will leave you wanting something more. The flavor that comes from slow cooking for hours allowing the beans to soak up the fat from the pork mixed with the sweetness of really good black strap molasses and onion is beyond approach. Those folks in Boston really do "Know Beans"
This is a recipe that was my moms, as the legend goes it was an heirloom that moved west with the family handed down from mother to daughter. Not having any sisters or any children I leave it to you. Enjoy!

Prep time : 12 hrs *                            Cook time: 6 hrs

Tools:  2 quart Bean pot or Covered Casserole


1 lb navy beans
1 med onion sliced
1/2 Lb salt pork or thick cut bacon cut in 1/2 " pieces
1/2 cup black strap molasses
2 tbl sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp baking soda


Pick through the beans and remove any that look questionable and any debris ( pebbles), Put the beans in a large bowl and cover by 2 in with water and soak for 12 hours.
*(Quick soak method) Put the beans in a large pot and cover with 2 in. of water bring the pot to boil simmer 5 min remove from heat cover and let sand 1 hr. Drain and continue with the recipe.

Place the beans in a stock pot and cover with 6 cups of water add 1/2 tsp baking soda and bring to the boil reduce heat and simmer 10 min. Place a colander over a large bowl and drain the beans retaining the liquor.

Assemble the rest of the ingredients. Stat layering the ingredients in the Casserole or  Bean Pot by placing some onion and salt pork in the bottom topped about 1/3 of the beans. Repeating the layers until every thing is in the pot.
 Mix together 2 cups of the reserved liquor from the beans the *molasses and spices and pour over the beans.
* tip: when working with molasses and honey spray the inside of the measuring cup with a little cooking spray and you will get every drop out of the cup.
Place the top on the dish and bake in a 325 º F preheated oven  for 6 hours. Check the beans at about the 2 hr mark for the amount of liquid in the pot. if it gets a little low  add some of the reserved  bean liquor. Uncover the last 30 min.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken & Dumplings

As the weather turns cool and the days get shorter it seems as though the need for foods to warm our bodies and comfort our souls become the order of the day replacing those light and cool days of summer, I'll share a secret here, "I crave these foods all year long." One of my favorites for as long as I can remember has been chicken & dumplings. They seem to put a smile on my face on gloomy wet days and warm the body like wrapping in one of Granny's quilts while enjoying the fire in the fire place.
This is my granny's recipe that I grew up eating. I have tried quite a few variations, some where closer to chicken soup. While good they get away from the basic simplicity that makes this dish truly delicious, celebrating the star of  the show. The chicken. Enjoy!

Prep time: 30 min                      Cook time: 2 1/2 hrs

Tools: Large stock pot, fat separator, tea ball


3 bone in skin on chicken breasts
2 1/2 quarts water
2 bay leaf
2-3 cloves garlic( paper on)
8 peppercorns
1/2 tsp thyme

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (or 1/4 tsp each thyme & sage)
1/3 cup milk


Place a large stock pot on medium high heat add the water bay leaf, garlic and chicken. add the thyme and peppercorns to the tea ball and drop into the pot with the chicken.

As the  the pot starts of come to a boil reduce the heat to med low cover wit the lid cocked off a little and simmer for 2 hrs. After about 30 min skim any of the protein scum from the pot replace the lid and continue the simmer.

After the two hours turn off the heat and remove the chicken to a plate and allow to cool. Remove the tea ball,bay leaf and garlic.

Over a large bowl place a strainer lined with two layers of cheese cloth and pour the chicken stock through the lined strainer. Ladle the hot stock into a fat separating cup and pour the de-fatted stock back into the stock pot.

Remove the skin from the breast meat and pull off the bones tear the meat into pieces about 1/2 " x 2 " place in the refrigerator.

To make the dumplings sift 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour  together with the baking powder, poultry seasoning, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the shortening and rub into the flour with your fingers until it looks like little pebbles.
 Form a well in the center and add the milk pull the flour from the outside and work to the center mixing until the dough forms a ball.

Knead the dough 4- 5 times reshape into a ball and allow to rest 5 min. Cut the ball into 4 equal pieces then cut those pieces in 1/2. Roll the pieces into ropes 1/2 - 3/4 " in dia. using a sharp knife or a dough blade cut the ropes into 1/2" pieces.

Bring the stock pot back to a low boil add the dumplings a few at a time place the lid on the pot leaving a little space for the steam to escape and simmer 20 minutes. When the dumplings are no longer floating  they are done. Turn off the heat and add the chicken back to the pot let stand 5 min to reheat the chicken prior to serving.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No bake Italian Cheese Cake >Ricotta Cream Pie

I first had this in a little Cafe in Taormina Sicily and was lucky enough to come away with a much appreciated recipe. Cheese cakes come sweet and savory, the most popular being the Philly Cheese cake thick, rich, heavy and very good. It also takes hours to prepare. This version uses Ricotta Cheese and is just as rich but not as heavy studded with chocolate bits and nuts it comes together rather quickly and best of all it is a no bake recipe. I modified this from the original recipe only  as I have a slightly difficult time getting some of the ingredients that where in the original where I live ( namely; Hazelnuts and Frangelica). So it is a little Texified but just as delicious. Enjoy!

Prep time: 20 min                   Cooking time: 4 hrs ( refrigerator)          Serves : 8

Tools: 9 " Pyrex pie plate


Cookie crust

1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs (1 pkg from the box)
2 tbl sugar
1 tbl Cocoa powder
1 stick Unsalted butter 1/2 cup


1 lb Ricotta Cheese
3/4 cup Powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
*the original recipe:
sub 1 tbl Frangelica  for the Vanilla and Hazelnuts for the Pecans in the filling
The cookie crust sub crushed Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti  for the Graham Crackers

 Place in the refrigerator  a mixing bowl and the beaters of your mixer to chill.

Prepare the cookie crust  by smashing the graham crackers  place them in a  zip bag  and rolling them with a rolling pin ( or use  a food  processor ). Empty the cookie crumbs in to the pie plate add the 2 tbl  sugar and the cocoa powder mix well to thoroughly  combine. In a small bowl melt the butter in the microwave 20 - 45 sec.

 With a fork mix the  melted butter with the cookie crumb mixture. Using the back of a spoon starting in the center working to the outside and up the sides on the pie plate press the crumbs in to the pan forming the crust.
Place in the microwave and cook 2-3 min (bake in conventional oven 9 min at 325 º F ) remove to a cooling rack.

In a large mixing bowl add the ricotta cheese vanilla and powdered sugar mix well, set aside.
Remove the beaters and bowl from the refrigerator pour the cold heavy cream into the cold bowl and whip the cream to stiff peaks.

By hand fold 1/2 of the whipped cream into the ricotta add the nuts and the chocolate chips then fold in the rest of the whipped cream.

Spoon the filling into the cooled crust and chill 4 hours prior to serving.

To serve drizzle with chocolate sauce and a few crushed nuts.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sausage Fritters

If you where to mention Biscuits and Sausage Gravy most folks I know get a big grin in their face. A warm delicious and filling stick to the ribs sort of meal. Not that it is difficult to prepare but if you need to feed a few folks it can get a little overwhelming, enter the Sausage Fritter. I first encountered these at breakfast while working at a ranch out in Wyoming when I was in my late teens. They are a sausage and biscuit fusion, but mostly they are just plain good.
I brought the recipe home when I returned to Tx. The Cow camp cook would deep fry these in a dutch oven, not that I do not have a love of all things deep fried. I changed up the recipe for two reasons I hate the mess associated with frying in my kitchen and I'm trying to eat a little healthier these days. If you want to deep fry these instead of baking go right ahead. However  you decide to prepare them be warned they are like potato chips; you can't eat just one. Enjoy!

Prep time: 15                         Cook time: 25 min                         yield: 18


1 lb loose breakfast sausage                           
2 1/3 cups self rising flour (reserve 1/3 cup)
2/3 cup of milk
*optional additions, Cheese,Crispy bacon bits,Green chilies


Preheat your oven to 400 º F and prepare a sheet pan by lining it with a sheet of parchment paper.

Open the sausage and crumble it into a large bowl (I'm lazy I use my stand mixer) add 2 cups of self rising flour ( add any optional ingredients) and mix to combine when all the flour and sausage have been incorporated add 2/3 cup of milk and mix through. Do not over mix, once it pulls together and gets smooth stop or the fritters will be tough

Once the mixture is smooth and there are no dry spots form into balls about 1 1/4", these are really sticky so a small ice cream scoop and a bowl with a little flower will be your best friend. Scoop up some of the mixture and drop into a small bowl with flour then roll between your palms into a smooth ball, place on the parchment lined sheet pan.

Bake on the center rack of your preheated 400 º F oven for 20-25 min until golden brown.
Serve with Cream gravy, eggs or cheese sauce.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tomato Jam

My first experience with tomato jam I was not exactly sure what to expect, sometimes the name alone will set off these preconceived notions that end up being totally wrong. It looked like tomato ketchup only thicker, like strawberry preserves but it exhibited this wonderful aroma of the warm cookie spices; cinnamon, allspice with a slight hint of clove. The first taste was like nothing ever tasted and was not at all what I was expecting. Sweet,spicy the tomato had magically transformed itself. Then a little surprise, in some back heat that I immediately recognized as chipotle pepper completing the warmth of the other spices. The first thought was "pass the biscuits and look away as this could get ugly!" I was hooked. 
It is at home on a biscuit in the morning or as a dipping sauce for chicken wings or glazing a rack of ribs. It is some really tasty stuff that is so easy to make. Enjoy!

 Prep time: 20 min              cook time: about 1 hour            Yield: 4 1/2 pints


5 lb tomatoes seeded
*I prefer Roma 
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice( bottled)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspiece
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp Chipotle pepper powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp kosher salt.

Tools: heavy bottom 10" deep skiillet (non reactive), water bath caner( or a 2 gal stock pot) 4 1/2 pint mason jars with new lids and rings, potato masher. Recommended; jar tongs, magnetic lid lifter, jar funnel.


Inspect the jars for chips and cracks, paying close attention to the sealing area at the top of the rim. Place the jars lids rings in the caner and fill with enough water to cover the top of the jars by 2" and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 min to sterilize.Place a tea spoon in the freezer.

Wash and inspect the tomatoes remove any bad spots and the stem cut into quarters remove the seeds then cut the quarters in 1/2 again and place into the skillet once all of the tomatoes are in the pan add all remaining ingredients cook over med heat.
When the tomatoes have softened crush them with the potato masher and continue to cook to reduce the liquid until it is thick.
To test the jam for proper consistency remove a little from the pot and drop on the frozen tea spoon if it clings to the spoon like jam or preserves turn off the heat.
Using the jar tongs remove a jar place the funnel in the jar and ladle the hot jam into the jars filling them to within 1/4 " of the top. Place a lid on the jar followed by a ring tighten only finger tight. bring the caner to a boil and place the jars on the rack process at a rolling boil 10 min. Remove the jars from the caner and place on clean towels to cool.
Test the seal on all jars by pushing in the center of the lid if it moves place the jar in the refrigerator  use within 10 days( if it lasts that long ) remove the rings date and label the jars store on a pantry shelf or in a cabinet away from heat use with in 6 months.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Butterscotch Pudding>Heaven on a spoon

I can not think of one thing that brings back those special memories of childhood and my Granddaddy like flavor of butterscotch. Like all good Granddads he always had those individually wrapped discs of hard candy in his vest pocket for sharing with me. Sweet and buttery with the slightest hint of caramel it quickly became a favorite flavor.
Like all kids young and old a favorite desert was and still is pudding, rich silky smooth custardy goodness that feels like velvet on your tongue. Its cool creaminess when combined with the flavor of butterscotch is pure heaven on a spoon. Enjoy!

Prep time: 10 min                                  Cook time: 50 - 60 min


3 egg yokes
2tbl unsalted butter
1/4 tsp  Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup  milk  (2% or whole)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract

Tools: 4 ramekins, 9X13" baking dish, whisk


Place the ramekins in the 13 X 9 baking dish and and place it on the center rack of your oven. Fill the dish until the water comes 2/3 the way up the side of the ramekins Remove the ramekins from the baking dish. Close the oven and preheat to 325 º F.

Set a 2 quart sauce pan on a med lo burner add the butter. Once it has melted add the brown sugar, molasses and salt. Allow the brown sugar to melt whisk in the heavy cream and the milk to combine. Heat this mixture until small bubbles appear at the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat.

In a med sized mixing bowl whisk the egg yokes and the vanilla. Slowly in a thin stream introduce the hot milk/sugar mixture whisking constantly to keep the eggs moving so they do not cook. continue to whisk in the rest of the dairy
Ladle into the ramekins and place them into the water bath. Bake for 50 - 60 min until it is just set at the edge and jiggly in the center. Remove the ramekins from the water bath  and place on a cooling rack for 1 hour cover with kling wrap and transfer to the refrigerator chill 3 hrs.
Serve with a dollop of whip cream and or gingersnap cookies.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chili> Texas Red

As the cool weather approaches I get a craving for on of my favorite comfort foods, Chili. Some times known as a bowl  Red. True Texas chili has no beans. This has sparked many a debate with more fire than some bowls if have had. Hey if you like beans in your chili go for it, as for me I'm a traditionalist and I will take the beans on the side.
A good Bowl of Red is thick, deep,spicy and silky in texture. It will warm the soul like wearing a quilt on the inside, packed with bold flavors it is like a fiesta in your mouth. Some recipes call for top round diced into less than 1/2 " cubes and some use ground beef. Like beans it is a personal choice or what ever I have on hand at the time. The real magic is in the spices, blended to give the chili its character. Now I am not speaking of that container in the back of the cabinet that says Chili Powder that is as tame as a kitten.What I am making reference to is blending your own to get the taste just right. Spices, freshly ground really bring it to this fiesta, allowing you to adjust the heat to your level of tolerance. I am a chili head and I like it a little spicy so you many want to exercise a little caution with this recipe and cut the peppers back to 1/2 the amount for a milder batch. Enjoy!

Prep time: 10 min                 Cook time: 31/2 hrs.


1 lb ground sirloin
1 small spanish onion grated fine
3 cloves garlic pressed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tbl paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes or 1 chili arbol crushed with seeds
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tbl ancho chili powder
2 tbl cumin powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 15oz can tomato puree
1 tbl *masa harina
2 cups of water

*Masa harina is corn flour used to make tortilla, if you do not have it pulverize 6 tortilla chips


 Place a heavy bottom pot over a medium heat and add 1 tbl of oil warm the pan until the oil gets a shimmer to it.
Add the ground sirloin, or what ever meat you are using into the pan and break it up with the back of a spoon. Add 1/2 of your spices and the onion, tomato puree and 2 cups of water stir bring to a low boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan continue to cook at a simmer stirring occasionally. Add water as needed.
At the 3 hour mark add the rest of the spices and the masa stir and simmer another 30 min.
Serve with queso fresco and black bean Quesadillas. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Doughnut Muffins

I'll admit it I have a doughnut problem. What can be better than fried dough, slightly sweet with a hint of nutmeg dusted in cinnamon and sugar, parked along side a steaming fresh cup of coffee? Some may say a muffin of some sort or maybe you are in the middle somewhere between the hole and the paper. Regardless of your stance on one thing we can all agree, they are both pretty tasty.
As much as I like doughnuts I would rather let some one else do all the frying I don't like all the cleanup involved and during my last check up the Dr. gave me the long face over my cholesterol. So looking for ways to get it under control and still satisfy my cravings I went in search of a recipe that would solve the problem. That is when I discovered Doughnut Muffins.  The resulting recipe is a collimation of ideas from several recipes along with some personal imitative to reduce the calories and the bad fats but retain all the good taste and texture. Enjoy!

Prep time:  10- 12 min                          Bake time: 15 min                  Yield: 1 dz 


1/4 cup butter flavor vegetable oil
1/2 cup splenda
2 tbl + 2 tsp splenda brown sugar subistute
1 egg + 2 egg whites
1 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup water
2 2/3 cup Universal Baking mix

3 tbl melted unsalted butter
2 tbl sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon combined

Tools: Muffin tin, paper liners, pastry brush


Preheat  your oven to 425º F, put the paper liners in the muffin tin and set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer combine, light & dark splenda, eggs, oil and vanilla. beat on med speed for 2 min

Slow the mixer to the slowest speed and add 1/3 of the baking mix and 1/3 of the water mix 1 min then repeat until all of the baking mix and water are in. Beat on med for 3 min.
Spoon the batter into the liners filling 3/4 full, bake on the center rack 15  min. remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan 10 min then remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temp
Brush the top of each muffin with melted butter and dust the tops generously with the cinnamon sugar, or inject with your favorite jam for jelly doughnut muffins.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Loaded Ranch Potato Salad

Potato Salad, just the mention of the word creates the memories of church socials, 4th of July picnics and back yard Bar-be-ques. I have sampled dozens of varieties of this famous side, a select few where memorable and while some where ho hum I'm still a big fan. This is one of my favorites and is really a twist on  a Fully Loaded Baked Potato. It is at home whether next to a Hamburger, a cold Deli Roast Beef Sandwich, or Smoky Texas BBQ Brisket.
Creamy and light from a ranch style dressing that doesn't get in the way of the flavors of the main element of the meal. It allows you to have that fully loaded baked potato and enjoy the potato salad too. Enjoy!    

Prep time: 15 min                         Cook time: 20 Min + *2 hrs in refrigerator
*for flavors to develop


3 lbs Yukon gold Potatoes
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart water

3/4 cup Light mayo
3/4 cup/sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 cloves garlic (finely grated)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp  black pepper
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbl *Bacos bacon bits
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 stalk celery 1/4" dice
* Bacos lend a smokier flavor than bacon

Tools:  2 larger bowls, colander, 2 lbs of ice,wire whisk


In a large mixing bowl combine the sour cream, milk, mayonnaise, grated garlic,salt and pepper,and celery seed whisk together. Place in the refrigerator.
Peel and cut the potatoes into 1/2" dice place in 4 quart sauce pan cover with the chicken stock and water bring to a low boil over med hi heat. Cook for 7- 10 min. test for tenderness at the 7 min mark( if a tooth pick will slid into the potato with little effort they are done). Drain in the colander and then plunge the colander into an ice bath to stop the cooking and cool down.
Remove from the ice bath and allow to drain well. Remove the dressing from the refrigerator add the potatoes to the dressing along with the cheese, celery and bacon bits mix well cover with cling wrap and return to the refrigerator for two hours to over night to allow flavors to blend. Garnish with Chives before serving.