Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Now this is my soul food, my comfort food! A great meal for a cold, damp winter evening. Most people think of pot pie as baked with a pie crust, but my chicken pot pie is chicken & square noodles, (dumplings), & some veggies, over mashed potatoes.

I did a chicken, on my Traeger Friday before making my meat pies. I spatchcocked it rubbed some garlic butter under the breasts & all over. I did it at 350 deg & took just over an hour. I was used to doing them at 325 deg, but I think this will be my new temp. I ate the wings & skin was crispy & bite through, & the meat was juicy. I saved a leg & thigh out to take to my Mother & the rest would go in my pot pie.

I pulled all the meat from my chicken; the dog got a few bites. I sautéed some onions, celery, & carrots in a large pot w/a tablespoon of olive oil & butter. Sprinkled in a little Wondra flour & stirred then poured in a quart of chicken broth. I added the chicken, pepper, & a good tsp. of better than bullion chicken base. Brought it to a boil & let simmer a half hour. I then added the Reames flat noodles. I put some red potatoes on for mashed potatoes and added about two cups of peas to the chicken & noodles.

I have always used the Reames noodles, found in the frozen section, they are the best I have found. I use the recipe on the back of the package, but added more chicken & veggies than it calls for so added a little more broth & the chicken base. I don’t do noodles but home made ones would probably be better.

I mashed the potatoes & added 2 TBS butter & two TBS Greek yogurt, because I had some. I added a couple TBS of half & half and whipped them. I do this by hand, I don’t like light airy mashed potatoes.

This meal sure hit the spot! It would have been better with some good crusty bread but I forgot to get some so we had some Arnolds flat bread & butter.

Printable Recipe

The Chicken

The Dumplings

The Veggies

The pulled Chicken

The Mashed Potatoes

The Pot Pie

My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mary's Natchitoches Meat Pies

Last nights supper was not as low fat as what my wife fixed. I did have sweet potato fries which are low fat! I did up a chicken on the smoker after lunch to use in making some chicken & dumplings, square noodles, today.

I have wanted to try these meat pies for ages. They are traditionally deep fried & never thought about doing them on my Traeger. Then I was at the Deep South Dish blog & seen Mary’s recipe for them & she gave baking & frying methods. Baking at 400 deg for about ½ hour. I decided to give them a try.

I sautéed the onions, peppers, celery, & garlic, added the ground round & sausage. I added salt, pepper, & a few drops of hot sauce. When I got the meat all browned I simmered it for about 45 min. then let cool until ready to assemble the pies. I used store bought pie crusts, Pillsbury.

I started my Traeger & went to 375 deg. I assembled the 4 pies, got some shredded cabbage on frying. I put the pies on & got some frozen sweet potato fries in my basket to go on with the pies. After they were on for 15 min. I checked & they were browning up pretty fast so dropped back to 325 deg for another 15 min.

All tasted pretty good, I thought the pies were too much crust taste & some gravy would have been good over them. I thought they turned out pretty good for my first try.

Trinity sauteeing

Making a pie

One made

Ready for the smoker

Pies & Fries done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Wife Cooks! Low-fat Chicken

I guess I owe this post to my wife for fixing a pretty darn good low-fat meal last night. She was watching ABC’s Revolution show & seen The Chew’s Carla Hall prepare this recipe & decided to try it. It was for low-fat baked garlic chicken breasts & thighs and would also fix some low-fat mac & cheese.

I can’t remember the last time she cooked in the kitchen, usually when it’s her turn to cook we have fish from Captain D’s or pizza from our favorite, Beer & Wine Depot!
I knew I had to stay out of her way, I didn’t want to make her mad & she would say “This is the last time I am doing this!” I did pretty good at keeping my mouth shut & she did a good job of cooking.

The chicken was seasoned with garlic, salt & pepper, dipped in a mix of egg whites, Greek yogurt, & Dijon mustard then coated with Panko bread crumbs and baked in the oven. The mac & cheese was stove top and called for whole wheat pasta, milk cheddar cheese, minced onion, & dry mustard.

I had some of my left over greens & my Wife fixed herself a salad for a side. She halved the recipe for the chicken & just did breasts. The chicken was crunchy & moist. She asked how I liked it; I said “I would give you an 8 or a 9 on it”. We both agreed the pasta was a little bland & would have been better with the cheddar cheese. For the pasta I said only a 7 on it.

All in all I was pretty proud of her for doing a good job!

Link to Chicken Recipe

My Plate

Smokin Don

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why do I Blog?

Why do I blog? I guess the simplest answer is I like to cook and like to share. My hobbies over the years have been cooking and photography. Recently at a family gathering my wife was telling one of my cousins & his wife that I liked to cook and I always had to take photos of my cooking. My cousin looked at me with a confused look & said “What the heck do you do that for?” I answered because I like to. I should have said for the same reason you take pictures of your horses and carry that album to show everyone. He and his wife have been avid horse people and have seven riding horses.

You won’t find pro looking photos here but I take the clearest & sharpest photos I can. I don’t have the time to take my plates to a light tent to take the photos. What I cook I eat and I like hot food so my backdrops are my cupboard top, my range top, my smoker, and my dining room table. This way I can get the photos over with quick and sit down to eat and enjoy.

My Mother was a great cook, she could throw a good meal together quicker than anyone I know. My favorite from her was baked smothered steak, cheesy scalloped potatoes, & corn pudding. She used to do some great porterhouse steaks too, as big as a plate.

My wife’s Mother and her sister, of German descent, were great cooks. Her Mother fried the best chicken & wild rabbit you ever ate. She also made fried squirrel then simmered it slow in gravy, delicious. I was glad she showed my wife how to do Knopfles, German drop noodles. My wife’s aunt made the best hot German potato salad. It was so good that is all you wanted for a meal. I have her recipe but cannot do it like she did.

My wife was not a very good cook when we got married. She says she never told me she was a good cook, only that she was good at typing and taking shorthand. She did turn into a pretty good cook before I took over. I was laid off one summer so she went to work to help out. I had to cook for our daughter & son and that’s when I learned to appreciate the work a woman usually does. I would get the kitchen cleaned up after lunch & only had an hour or two to relax before it was time to fix supper for when the wife came home. I kinda took over the cooking after that but did full time after I got on day shift for my last 10 years of working. She does most all the clean up and that works out good.

So I just enjoy doing this blog, I hope people from all over the world can enjoy my site, my cooking, & some of my recipes. In this way maybe I can spread some good will. Our Governments don’t seem to do a very good job of it!

Below is two of my best bird photos from the summer. A Goldfinch perched on a dead cone flower, for the seeds.

Smokin Don

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ham Loaf, Easy Meal

Last nights supper was an easy one with almost no prep. If you do most of your cooking & dining at home you need these types of meals once in awhile. The only prep was some peach glaze for my ham loaf. I made it from ½ cup of peach preserves, 2 TBS Dijon mustard, & 1 TBS of honey, just mixed & heated on the stove.

The ham loaf was from my butcher, Kah Meats, oven ready & about as good as I could make, about 1 ½ lbs. My potatoes were Bob Evens hash brown bake and they are about as good as I can make. My veggie would be seasoned mixed greens, Margaret Holmes brand, and heated right out of the can. I love greens but my wife does not so she was having cold pickled beats. The greens were pretty good with a little salt & pepper but would have been better if you fried 2 or 3 slices of bacon to add with some of the bacon grease & some chopped onions, and a little vinegar & oil.

I had marinated a box of Cheez It baby Swiss cheese crackers with some olive oil, Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle & Penzey’s Cajun seasoning overnight. I smoked them for an hour just before getting my supper on. A take on my Cajun crackers and sure makes a good snack. With the Cheez Its I just drizzle some olive oil on to coat well, add seasoning of your choice & let set overnight, stirring some then smoke for an hour at 180 deg.

After smoking my snack crackers I preheated the smoker to 325 deg, spooned some of the peach glaze over the ham loaf & on the smoker. After 45 min; I inserted a temp probe & the IT temp was at 140 deg. I added some more of the peach glaze & went to 350 deg.
In another 20 min. it was at 160 deg IT so pulled it & tented with foil while I heated the potatoes & greens in the microwave, about 10 minutes total. All served up it was a pretty good meal with little prep time!

My Cheez Its Snacks

I forgot in my original post, my two easy sides

Ham Loaf w/glaze ready for the smoker

All done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brisket Burnt End Chili

Yesterday was chili time. I had some brisket burnt ends saved that would go good. I had one lb. of the ends & bought a pound of ground round to add too. I decided to use a Crockpot & let it simmer all afternoon. I browned up the ground round some, added the chopped onion & cooked until starting to get soft. I then added the ground Ancho chili & smoked paprika, stirred until the meat was starting to stick to the skillet. I added it to my Crockpot, the diced up burnt ends & all the rest of the ingredients & set on high for two hours then turned to low.

A Mexican friend & good cook told me when you brown meat for soups or stews, you gotta add the seasoning to the meat, not to the pot later. My liquids was ½ bottle of dark beer, the tomatoes & about 1 cup of water. It made a fairly thick chili. I was going to do an all meat Texas style but decided to add one can of red beans. My recipe is fairly mild; it just leaves a slight warmth in your mouth after eating. For you pepper heads you can add all the heat you want!

I added some Fritos & shredded cheddar cheese to my bowl, & had seconds. My wife liked it & I thought the burnt ends in it were a great addition.
I love Penzeys ground chilis & chili powders, you can get the heat you want. I have used their med. hot & I thought it was pretty warm

Printable Chili Recipe

Some of the chili fixins

Seasoning added to the meat

Ready for the pot

Brisket burnt ends

All in the Pot

My Bowl

Smokin Don

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Grizzly Bear Pie

Here I am doing another dessert! My sweet tooth must be aching. I seen this recipe on & just had to try it. A little different take on pecan pie. It has walnuts instead of pecans in it. I had a crust left from my Peach Cobbler so that was another excuse to try this pie. We are having leftover beef pot roast tonight so baking the pie was something to keep me busy. I really should be doing daily exercises but I don’t like that kind of busy!

Reading the recipe it said to use a lightly prebaked pie crust, but there were no directions on temps & times. I went to the net for directions, now that looked like a lot of trouble, place some dry beans on the crust to hold it in place & bake for 30 to 40 min total? I went to the Pioneer Womans site to see how she did her pecan pies. She does not prebake her crust, so I figure if Ree does not prebake her crust ole Smokin Don is not going to prebake his crust either!

I heated up my sugar, honey & butter filling until the butter was melted & just starting to boil then set aside to cool to room temp. I preheated my oven to 350 deg & toasted the walnuts for 10 minutes. I placed them in the bottom of the pie crust. I whisked the cream & eggs into the filling & poured over the walnuts. Into the oven to bake for 40 to 50 minutes as the recipe called for.

I checked it at 40 min. & the crust was getting pretty brown but the filling didn’t look set enough. I had read where you should cover the crust with foil to keep it from getting overdone and you could do this part way into the baking. Unless you have heat resistant fingers you’re not going to get that crust covered well. At best I just laid foil strips across the crust & baked for 10 more minutes. It looks good even with a little over brown on the crust. I am thinking; that crust would be burnt if I had prebaked my pie crust!

I can’t wait until after supper dessert time! My wife does not like nuts in most desserts so after saving a couple of pieces out for my Mother I might have the rest of the pie to myself!

I just ate a piece of the pie with a scoop of Bryers vanilla ice cream. It is so rich you need the ice cream with it. It was so good I wanted a second piece, but so rich I couldn’t eat another piece! Unbelievable!

Link to the recipe

Cooking the filling

Un baked shell with walnuts added. You can tell I am not too fussy about the edge! I should call it my Rustic Grizzly Bear Pie.

Filling added

Finished baking

My after supper dessert

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crockpot Beef Pot Roast

The Crockpot is one useful kitchen appliance. I have had one every since they came out in the 1970’s. I just bought a new one on sale for $15, can you believe that price for a 5 quart one. They make them now with digital displays & fancy timers. I don’t need all that when the recipes say cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours. I don’t even need an on light, when the side is hot it’s on! So just a knob switch, with off, warm, low, & high is enough for me.

This is great for working people, and even us lazy old retirees. It only takes about a half hour to throw together most meals. For working people you can get it all ready the night before, store on the fridge, & plug it in before you go to work. When you get home you have a hot meal ready to serve. Another nice feature is you don’t have many pots, pans, or dishes to wash. I use mine mostly in the winter and now when I don’t feel like going out in the cold to cook on my Traeger.

They are great for soups, stews, pot roasts, & chili. My favorite has to be a beef pot roast, and you can do it a lot of ways. A roast, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage and you have a New England boiled dinner, add a bottle of stout beer instead of water & you have an Irish boiled dinner. Oh you gotta have onions in there too. Add some soup & water and you have a stew.

For this dinner I used a 3 lb. chuck roast, that’s my favorite beef roast to use. I sliced an onion in ½ inch thick slices & added to the bottom of the pot, I had coated with some olive oil spray. The roast seasoned with salt & pepper on top of the onions. Added 5 or 6 small red potatoes; trimmed & cut in chunks. Added a couple handfuls of small prewashed carrots, I always wash them too! Added three celery stalks cut in chunks, then a little salt & pepper over all of that. I then added a can of Campbell’s beefy mushroom soup I had mixed a can of water with. I place the lid on & turned on low. Now wasn’t that easy!

About an hour before we were ready to eat I took the roast out trimmed off any fat, sliced & back in the pot. This cooked on low for 8 hours before serving. I did some garlic Ciabata bread to serve with it. Beef was tender and a great warming meal on a cold winter evening.

My Roast

My new Crockpot

Close up of the goodies

My Plate

Smokin Don

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peach Cream Cheese Cobbler w/pie crust

Wednesday night is pizza night for us most weeks. The Beer & Wine Depot has their pizzas on special and they make the best pizza’s in Wapakoneta, Ohio. I didn’t have anything else going on today so I decided to make something for dessert. I do a lot of cooking but desserts are not my thing, this is easy though, just mix and put in a dish & bake. I can do that! Besides I made up this recipe & kinda proud of that.

I wanted to experiment with my original recipe. I decided to do with a pie crust instead of the Bisquick topping and would also double up on the cream cheese mix. I used a store bought pie crust & cut it in 1 ½ inch strips to use on the top with some space in between.
I baked it & turned out great, I will add a printable recipe.

Supper time my wife ordered our usual, 14 inch with, sausage, bacon, peppers, & onions. Now we don’t eat that whole thing, my wife freezes what’s left for nights I don’t cook. She eats it, I don’t like warmed up pizza. She made a couple small salads & then went to pick up the pizza when it was ready. She goes to get it since it’s her turn to cook!

We got our salads & pizza on a tray & retired to the living room to watch TV. My dog Mag usually lays in his bed while we eat but he knows he gets a few bites of pizza on pizza night so he waited by my chair for his bites. He also knows shortly after I am done eating we have our 4 Nutter Butters or pecan sandies and he gets a small bite of each one. Not too long after I put my tray away he stood there with that where are my cookies stare!

After those cookies I had to wait an hour before I had my peach cobbler & ice cream. I liked my experiment & would say this is for those that don’t like all the crust most cobblers have. It has a lot of good gooey peach & cream cheese going on. You could add a bottom crust if you want & if you really like the crust do my one with the Bisquick topping.

Printable Cobbler Recipe

The peach mix in the dish

Cream Cheese mix added

Pie crust, sugar, & cinnamon added

Done baking

My after supper dessert

Smokin Don

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Smokestack's Wings

For last night’s supper I did wings. I found this recipe at and knew from the mix of seasonings they had to be good. I bought about 3 lbs of wings, mixed my seasoning, & coated the wings and in the fridge for about 5 hours. I left out the cayenne pepper since my wife does not like hot. I figured I would get enough heat from the sauce mix that I would add to mine. I only did half the hot sauce, butter mix since I wasn’t doing my wife’s wings.

I was having sweet potatoes with mine & the wife was having some of my leftover potato cauliflower mash & cornbread with hers. I cut a sweet potato in half, butter & brown sugar over & wrapped in foil.

I got the sweet potatoes & wings on at 5:00, 225 deg. At 5:25 I tossed 8 of the wings in the hot sauce mix & back on the grill. I then brushed some butter on my wife’s 7 wings & went to 250 deg. At 5:45 I went to 300 deg since I didn’t think they were coming along that good. At 6:00 I checked them, flipped & decided to do another 10 minutes.

My wife & I both loved these wings. I thought they were the best or among the best wings I ever had. The recipe called for the wings tossed in the sauce before serving & I didn’t do that. After eating 5 of them I had enough of the sauce left to dip one in & try. It was good & I would probably prefer adding the cayenne in the seasoning & doing the second toss in the sauce when I do them again. This is definitely a keeper recipe.

Link for wing recipe

Wings seasoned

After a half hour at 225 deg.

Ready to serve

My Plate

Smokin Don

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Use up some leftovers night!

I know I dedicate this site to pellet smoker cooking but I can’t always cook on my smoker. I thought this winter if I came up with something good I would share it. Tonight I needed to use up some leftovers. I had some smoked ham, I had bought, to use, & a few little baby gold potatoes. My wife’s cousin had also given us a head of cauliflower and some sliced mushrooms that needed used.

I just got my winter 2012 catalog from Penzey’s spices and it had the perfect recipe for potatoes & cauliflower I could use. That would take care of the potatoes & cauliflower.
I searched Food net and Saveur for a recipe that would have ham & mushrooms in it. I couldn’t find any so I decided to wing it & make up my own. I would do a stir fry with the ham & mushrooms & include some of my Peru sweet onions. My seasonings would be Penzey’s granulated garlic, some white balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper.

I made up the cauliflower & potatoes early & would re-heat for supper. I placed the potatoes, about 6 of the baby gold, in salted water & boiled for about 10 minutes then added the cut up cauliflower & boiled another 10 minutes. I drained them & placed the potatoes back in the pan w/a pat of butter & mashed course. I then added the cauliflower & mashed it up some, added about ½ cup of Swiss cheese, the garlic, stirred & let set awhile for the cheese to melt. I then added a little milk & stirred, I didn’t use ½ cup as the recipe called for, thought it would make it too runny. I didn’t have the Brady Street Cheese sprinkle either so I added some Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle. I placed it in the fridge & would re-heat with some shredded Mexican blend cheese on top.

My potatoes & cauliflower

When it was supper time I sliced a Peru sweet onion, sautéed in some olive oil & butter and a sprinkle of sugar until it was beginning to brown up, added some granulated garlic & stirred. I removed it from the pan for later.

Add some olive oil & the mushrooms, cook until mushrooms are giving up some liquid, add a few splashes of white balsamic vinegar, let steam & stir. Add a little salt & pepper.. Remove from the skillet & save.

Add some oil if needed then the ham, cook until the ham is starting to brown up.

Add the onions & mushrooms back to the skillet & stir until heated through.

Heat some plated potatoes & cauliflower for 1 minute in microwave, add some cheese, and another 30 seconds to melt. Add some of the ham, mushroom, & onions and serve.

My Plate

Total cook time for the ham, mushrooms, & onions was about a half hour.
Tasted good & now I have a ham & mushroom recipe.
Smokin Don