Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sausage Stuffed Bone-in Turkey Breast

My husband doesn't like dark meat so, even though it is my preference, it doesn't always make sense to get a whole big turkey just for the two of us.  If we get a hankerin' for a turkey dinner, and it's only us, then I'll just get a bone-in breast.  

I don't know about you, but I can't have turkey without stuffing.  It just isn't right.  One of my favorite stuffing recipes uses sausage and water chestnuts.  The sausage adds moisture and flavor and the water chestnuts create wonderful texture.

Sausage Stuffed Bone-in Turkey Breast

1 (5-7 Lb.) Turkey Breast, Bone In, Skin On
Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning (Or Salt And Pepper To Taste)
1/2 Cup Butter
3/4 Cup Chopped Celery
1 4-Ounce Can Water Chestnuts, Drained and Chopped
1 Onion, Chopped
1 Lb Bulk Sausage
4 Cups Stale Bread Cubes
1/2 Tsp. Dried Sage Leaves
1/2 Tsp. Dried Thyme Leaves
1 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Pepper
1/4 To 1/3 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp Butter, Softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse turkey breast and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In large skillet, brown the sausage until most of the pink is gone.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt 1/2 cup butter and cook celery and onion until tender. 

Return the sausage to the pan and add the rest of the ingredients (except 2 tbsp butter). Add chicken stock and toss until lightly moistened.

Loosely stuff the breast cavity, don't over stuff because the stuffing expands.  In a large baking dish (I use a large cast iron skillet) place the breast, stuffing side down.  

Loosely stuff the neck cavity and cover with skin flap.  Rub the breast all over with the remaining butter. Sprinkle with Tony Chachere to taste.

If there is extra stuffing left over kind of pack it around the base of the breast and cover with foil.  The foil will keep it moist and prevent it from burning.

Roast the turkey and stuffing at 350 degrees for 2 to 2-1/2 hours until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the meat reads 165 degrees F. 

You can baste it if you want to but I find it unnecessary.

Serve with all your favorite fixin's.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Firewater Friday - Javanilla Cocktail

This concoction is a match made in heaven.  The sweet richness of vanilla bean mead mixed with coffee porter tastes like a beerific cappuccino whipped up a coffeehouse barista.  

Javanilla Cocktail

2 Ounces Saphouse Meadery Vanilla Bean Mead
11 Ounces Berkshire Brewing Dean's Beans Coffeehouse Porter

Pour chilled vanilla mead into a 16 ounce glass.  Top with coffee porter.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beerific Apple Pie With Rustic Cheddar Beer Crust

This ain't your gramma's apple pie!

The apples are marinated in beer so when they get put into the crust their pretty well sauced.  

As for the crust, I would almost rather chew glass than make pie crust from scratch. I literally want to chuck the dough across the room when it comes time to roll it out.  But this crust is a must-do!  Beer and sharp cheddar cheese mixed into the dough make this crust amazing!

Beerific Apple Pie With Rustic Cheddar Beer Crust

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6-8 tbs pale ale or wheat beer
2 tbs melted butter

7 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced 
16 oz pale ale or wheat beer
1 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tbs flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp corn starch

Note:  I used Samuel Adams Summer Ale in the crust and a combination of the Summer Ale and Boston Lager for the apples.  Delish! (I drank what was left in the bottles  :D)

Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix until well combined.  Add the remaining flour and continue mixing for about a minute.

Move to a bowl and add the cheese and 6 tbs beer, mix until just incorporated. Don't over mix. If the dough is too dry, add more beer until the right consistency is reached.

Split into two equal sized portions and form into disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill until very firm, about two hours. Because this dough is so soft, it is very important for the pie dough to be very cold and very firm.

Place the apples, lemon juice and 16 ounces of beer in a bowl and allow to soak at room temperature for 2 hours. If the apples are not fully submerged, toss every half hour to redistribute. Remove the apples from the beer and allow to drain and dry for about 30 minutes, or until fully dry.

Preheat oven to 350.

Add the apples and the remaining filling ingredients to a bowl and toss to coat.

On a well floured surface, place one of the disks, add flour to the top of the disk as well. Roll out into an even thickness.

Add you pie dough to a pie pan and press into shape, removing any excess. Add the filling.
Roll out the second disk of pie dough and add to the top of your pie. Press the top crust and the bottom crust together at the edges, cut holes to vent steam.

Brush with 2 tbs melted butter.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cover the edges with foil of the edge starts to brown too quickly.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Homemde Trail Mix

One of the ways I save money is by making my own trail/energy mix in bulk.  I'll make a huge batch and then vacuum seal them.  The mix stays fresh until I need to refill the container I keep on the kitchen counter for snacks.

Getting the ingredients in bulk from BJ's, Costco or Amazon definitely saves money.

Easy to make and you can add whatever you like. 

My basic mix includes the following:

56 Ounce Can Mixed Nuts
10 Ounce Dried Chopped Dates
10 Ounce Craisins
10 Ounce Raisins
16 Ounce Planters Peanuts

Sometimes I'll add dried bananas, prunes, M&M's and/or chocolate chips.

I mix that all together in a gigantic mixing bowl.  Then  I divide it into equal portions and vacuum seal it with my handy-dandy food saver.  You could even vacuum seal them into small packets so you'll have personal sized packets for the go.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stovetop Chicken Skillet

If you read my blog with any kind regularity then you know that I try to cook everything from scratch whenever possible.  It's my preferred method.  However, sometimes reality doesn't allow me to spend so much time making a meal.  So, yes, sometimes I cheat and take shortcuts.  Shocking, I know!

This is one of my favorite cheater recipes using stuff I keep in the pantry for just such a dinner emergency.  It basically requires very little work on my part and is yummy.

Stovetop Chicken Skillet  

1-1/2 Cups Hot Water
1/4 Cup Butter Or Margarine, Melted
1 Pkg. (6 Oz.) Stove Top Stuffing Mix For Chicken
6 Small  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Halves (1-1/2 Lb.)
1 Can  (10-3/4 Oz.) Condensed Cream Of Mushroom Soup
1/3 Cup Sour Cream

Mix hot water, butter and stuffing mix.

Brown chicken in large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat 5 minutes on each side.

Mix soup and sour cream; pour over chicken. Top with stuffing; cover. Cook on low heat 10 min. or until chicken is done.

Note:  If you have an anti-mushroom crowd like I do, then substitute pretty much any cream-of-whatever soup that floats your boat - like cream of chicken.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Beer Braised Chicken with Peas

This is comfort food!  A hugely flavorful recipe using chicken and beer.  Easy to make, impressively delicious.  An excellent dish to prepare for a social gathering or as a nice satisfying meal.

Beer-Braised Chicken & Peas

3 3/4 Pounds Chicken Parts 
Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Small Red Onion, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Pale Ale, Such as New Albion Ale
2 Tablespoons Spicy Guinness Mustard (or Other Grainy Mustard)
2 Cups Frozen Peas, Thawed And Drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken all over with Creole seasoning or other seasoning of your choice.  

In a large Dutch oven or other ovenproof deep pan, heat the oil over medium heat. 

In batches cook the chicken in the hot oil, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per side.  Then transfer to a plate. 

Add the onion to the pan and cook until the they start to brown, about 5 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the beer and mustard, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken to the skillet, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, turning chicken halfway through cooking time.  

Transfer the chicken to a serving dish, keep as much of the saucy goodness in the pan as possible.

Place the skillet over high heat and add the peas. Cook until the peas are tender but still green and the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. 

Spoon the sauce and peas over the chicken. Serve immediately.

Awesome with a side of smashed taters!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cheddarburger with Jalapeño-Garlic Remoulade

Prepare your mouth for a flavor explosion.  This is a delicious burger topped with a spicy sauce of jalapenos and garlic.

Cheddarburger with Jalapeño-Garlic Remoulade

8 Jalapeno Peppers, Halved & Seeded
8 Garlic Cloves, Peeled 
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt And Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Pound Ground Beef
4 Kayser Rolls, Split
4 Slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Coat the bottom a medium sized skillet with the olive. Add the garlic and jalapeños. Cover and cook over low heat, turning the jalapeños occasionally, until they are blistered all over and the garlic is softened, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn up heat to medium.  Cook until garlic begins to caramelize.

Remove the skillet from heat to allow garlic and peppers to cool.   

Transfer the jalapeños and garlic to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Scrape the sauce into a bowl and set aside.

Preheat a grill for medium heat (I use a George Foreman Grill).  When hot, lightly oil the grate. 

Divide the ground beef into 4 portions and form into patties.  Grill to desired temperature.

While the burgers are cooking smear a healthy spoonful of spoonful of jalapeño-garlic remoulade onto the bottom bun.  Place a slice of cheddar on top of the sauce and another on the lid.  

When the burgers are done place on the bun, top with the lid and serve.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Firewater Friday - Moontini

I love a good martini.  I'm talking a real, honest-to-goodness martini.  Not one of those floofy cocktails that bars are trying to pawn off as martinis.  

A classic martini is made with a whisper of vermouth and a healthy pour of chilled gin or vodka.  Shaken or stirred - I like mine shake shake shaken, senora.  Served with a garnish of a lemon twist, cocktail onions or - my personal favorite - olives (preferably stuffed with sundried tomatoes, garlic or oh-my-goodness blue cheese).  If I'm feeling particularly spunky I might even throw in a pepperoncini.  

Yup, that's the way I like it.

The other day I walked into a liquor store and there stood Jeff Conelius from Onyx Spirits offering samples of - **gasp** - moonshine.  


 Free Samples

                                           Oh, hell yeah!

So, there I stood with a big, goofy grin on my face accepting a taste of Onyx Moonshine while Jeff explained its characteristics, nuances and attributes.  

It's actually quite interesting. It has a subtle whiskey like aroma.  The flavor is quite unique.  It has some of the taste profile of a good whiskey but way down low mellow.  It also has some of the qualities of a good vodka.  It goes down easy - no burn and barely a bite.  Easy enough to drink straight up or on the rocks and tasty enough to rock your favorite cocktail.


The other day I had a bad day.  You know, one of those days where everything is crazy insane and there's a global conspiracy to irritate the bajoopies out of you.  I had one of those days.  By the time I get home from work and I had had enough.  I needed to wind down and relax.

I was thinking a martini would hit the spot.  Then I remembered that I had bought a bottle of Onyx Moonshine from Jeff.  So, I decided to try something different - a moontini.  If it was bad then that would just be the cherry on the top of my crappy day, now wouldn't it?  But if it was good . . . mmmm.

Here's how I make a nice dry martini and I make a kickin' martini!

You'll need a chilled martini glass and a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  

Fill the glass 3/4 full of gin or vodka - or Onyx Moonshine, in this case.  

Pour the our the gin or vodka or moonshine into the cocktail shaker.  Set a side.

Pour 2 or 3 drops of dry vermouth into the cocktail glass.  Swirl it around the inside of the glass and dump it out.  You don't want the martini to be overpowered by vermouth - just the slightest taste.

Skewer olives onto a toothpick and place into the martini glass.

Now turn your attention back to the cocktail shaker.  Cover it and shake, shake, shake vigorously.  Then strain the icy cold liquid awesomeness into the glass over the olives.

Cheers!  Enjoy!

How did I like my moontini?  Good.  It's different, for sure.  But, definitely, good.   

I felt a little like Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce  from M*A*S*H* sipping a martini from his homemade still while lounging on his cot reading a copy of Nudist Monthly - sans the dirty magazine.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Right smack dab in the middle

That's a real conversation, I kid you not.

My eye is okay but now I'm wondering where the expression "smack dab" came from. 

The evolution of the phrase is kind of interesting.   The expression has been in common use for roughly 200 years in the United States.

Smack dab is southern Americanism mutated from the British word "slapdash".  "Slapdash" means colliding with force and halting abruptly.  

The word "slap", incidentally, is derived from the German word "schlappe". 

Slap means to hit something with force.  Smack is fairly equivalent to that.  

Dab is also a Britishism meaning being skilled or clever at something.

Smack-dap means to hit something directly or squarely.  

So, there you have it - smack dab.

Can you actually go blind if you get hot sauce in your eye?  I wasn't able to find a definitive answer.  However, my advice would be to avoid getting hot sauce in your eyes at all cost because it hurts like Hell . . . literally.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spicy Sun-dried Tomato Aioli Pasta


Aioli is a simple sauce made of primarily olive oil and garlic. Both of these add intense flavor that is fresh and light.  The addition of sundried tomatoes and hot pepper flakes give this classic recipe an extra boost of flavor that is amazing.

One of the great things about aioli pasta is that it can be made a little ahead of time and tastes great served at room temperature.  And it's so quick and easy it can be a delicious last minute addition to any meal.

Spicy Sun-dried Tomato Aioli Pasta

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Butter
3 Cloves Garlic Minced
6 Basil Leaves, Minced
10 Sliced Sundried Tomatoes, Juliened
2 Tsp Hot Pepper Flakes
1 Lb Linguine or Fettucini Pasta

While the water for the pasta is heating to a boil prepare the aioli sauce. Cook pasta until al dente according to the box instructions.  

Heat the butter and olive oil in a small pan over medium heat.  

Add the hot pepper flakes and allow to cook for about a minute to release the oils.  

Add garlic and saute for three minutes.   You want it softened and translucent.  Be careful not to let it brown.

Add the basil and sundried tomatoes.  Continue sauteing for 5 minutes.

You can add a little of the pasta water to the aioli for a little looser sauce, if desired.

When the pasta is ready drain and put into a serving bowl.  Toss to ensure all pasta is coated.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.  Garnish with fresh Parmesan cheese o fresh ground pepper, if desired.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Southwest Salad

A delicious crisp, crunch salad with the bite of sharp cheddar cheese.  Tasty like a taco but without all the calories.


Southwest Salad

2 Hearts of Romaine
2 Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
1 Cup Tortilla Chips, Crushed
1/2 Cup Black Olives
1 Cup Ranch Dressing
1/4 Cup Salsa
1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin
Sour Cream (for garnish)

Mix lettuce, tomatoes and olives together in large serving bowl.  Top with cheese and tortilla chips.

Mix ranch dressing, salsa, chili powder, cumin in a small bowl.

Drizzle salad with dressing or serve on the side.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Firewater Friday - Cafe Picaro

Two things that go together well are chocolate and coffee.  So when I tasted Patron XO Cafe, a coffee flavored tequila, I thought, "Wow, this is goooooooood!"  And then I thought, "This would taste great mixed with a chocolate beer."

The first beer that came to mind was Rogue Chocolate Stout.   Which on its own is an outstanding beer and very chocolaty.  Mixed together with a dollop of Patron XO Cafe it is simply awesome.

I dub this concoction . . . 

Cafe Picaro

1 1/2 Ounces Patron XO Cafe
11 Ounces Rogue Chocolate Stout

Pour the Patron into a pint glass and top off with the chocolate stout.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beerific Pork and Sauerkraut

One of my favorite meals is pork and sauerkraut.  It's hearty and intensely flavorful.  The addition of beer to this traditional recipe at a new dimension of flavor that makes it something extra specially good!

Beerific Pork and Sauerkraut

3 Strips Bacon 
1 Pounds Kielbasa
1 Pound Country Style Pork Ribs 
2 Tsp Caraway Seeds
1 1/2 Tsp Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
2 Pounds Sauerkraut
1 12-Ounce Bottle Brown Ale

Chop the bacon into small pieces. In a large pot, fry the bacon until it's crispy.

Add the ribs and brown lightly on all sides in the bacon fat.

Sprinkle with caraway seeds and season with Tony Chachere (or salt and pepper).

Top with the sauerkraut, including the brine from the bag. I use the bagged kind that is found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store near the hot dogs.

Lay the kielbasa on top of the sauerkraut.  

Pour the beer into the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cooking low and slow for 3-4 hours. 

At the end of cooking, the kielbasa will have darkened and the pork will be fork-tender and falling off the bone.

Serve with mashed potatoes or applesauce, if desired.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Healthy Pepperoni Pizza Chopped Salad

This is a healthy and satisfying salad made with a fresh, homemade dressing.  This is one of my favorite salads and makes for an excellent meal replacement.

Healthy Pepperoni Pizza Chopped Salad 

1 Head Iceberg Lettuce, Cored and Roughly Chopped
1 Small Red Onion, Chopped
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
6 Low Fat Mozzarella String Cheese Sticks, Sliced
1/2 Cup Turkey Pepperoni Slices, Chopped
1/2 Cup Green Olives with Pimento, Halved
1/3 Cup Pepperoncini, Chopped
1/3 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 Teaspoon Superfine Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Hot Pepper Flakes
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

In a large serving bowl, combine iceberg lettuce, cheese, pepperoni, red onion, pepper, and olives.

In a separate container, combine the oil, vinegar, oregano, hot pepper flakes, sugar, salt, and pepper, to taste. Shake or stir well to combine. 

Drizzle salad with dressing and toss.  Serve immediately.