Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pork Shoulder Roast, carrots, parsnips, & turnips

I was hungry for some pork, mashed potatoes, & gravy. I had a 3 lb bone in shoulder roast to do. I would do some carrots, parsnips, & turnips with it on the smoker. To make it easy I got some Bob Evens garlic mashed potatoes & a packet of McCormick’s pork gravy mix. Normally I would do my own but I guess as I get older I look more to short cuts.

I seasoned the roast with salt, pepper, some Penzey’s pork chop seasoning, & oregano. I started my smoker & turned to high. I put the roast in a rack at 3:00 & left on high for a half hour, then went to 275 deg. and placed the rack in a foil lined pan. I added the carrots, parsnips, & turnips at 4:30. & went to 325 deg. At 5:45 the roast was at 165 deg IT so removed it & the veggies to a preheated 210 deg oven to hold while I made the gravy & nuked the mashed potatoes.

I smeared some bread with Fromage Fort & toasted under the broiler to have with the meal. It didn’t melt too good but was tasty. The Fromage Fort idea I found at Saveur. It is just left over cheese, any kind, about ½ lb. Cut in ½ inch squares & shred some in a food processor, add a couple cloves of garlic, & any herbs you like. Then puree, adding dry white wine & thin to a desired consistency. I had leftover shredded cheese from two bags, a small chunk of white cheddar and some shaved parmesan that was drying out. I used olive oil & a splash of red wine vinegar to thin mine instead of wine. A great way to use up odd amounts of cheese & will taste different every time.

My supper tasted great and I have some cheese spread left to snack on.

The Roast

On the Smoker


My Plate

Smokin Don

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Moore's Marinade

Coming home from 10 days in Las Vegas, at our son & family’s home, I was having withdrawal from not having my usual diet of meat & potatoes.

We got home late Thurs. night. Friday morning my first errand was to get my Mag from the kennels, he was happy to get home again too! My next trip was to my butchers to get some meat. I went a little overboard & bought fresh sausage, a pound of bacon, 2 rib eye steaks, a whole fryer chicken & a 3 lb pork shoulder roast.

Saturday on my birthday we were going out, & I was just going to rest. I couldn’t stand it though, I wanted to fire up the smoker! I decided to do the chicken & save for later. My neighbor had given me some Moore’s marinade for watering their flowers while they were in Texas the past summer. I was a little reluctant to use it since it said natural smoke flavor, most of the time I find smoke enhanced marinades & sauces too artificial tasting.

It said a 30 minute marinade was long enough for chicken so I spatchcocked, washed, the chicken & in a plastic bag with the marinade. I left it in for 45 minutes. I did it for 30 minutes on smoke 180 deg. then went to 325 deg. When it got to 165 deg IT I went to 350 deg to finish & pulled it when the breast was 175 deg IT. The legs & thighs were 185 deg IT. Total cook time was about one hour 20 minutes.

After cooling some I had to try a wing, then I had the second wing. That was good! A little more smoke taste than I usually get, but to me it was not artificial tasting. I will use it again. They have a web site, just google Moore’s marinade, & it says available at most Kroger stores. I would say if you are looking for more smoke, give it a try. I want to try it on a brisket soon.


Chicken on the Smoker

All done, ready to sample

Smokin Don

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Las Vegas Birthday, 70th!

Red Rock Canyon

On Feb. 13th we flew to Las Vegas for a 10 day visit with our son & family. We were celebrating my 70th birthday, Feb. 25th. Our daughter from Chicago flew out to be there over the week-end. When we picked her up at the airport Fri. evening we went to a nice Greek restaurant for dinner.

Saturday evening we had tickets for “The Blue Man Group” at the Venetian Hotel. It was a surprise for our grandson, he and all of us really enjoyed the show. To me it is a show worth seeing, some good drum music & humor. We had great seats, 3rd row center, but had to wear raincoats. We did get some on us but wasn’t bad. Our grandson was tickled to get a picture with one of the Blue Men after the show.

Sunday evening after dinner I went out back for a smoke break & when I came in they had a cake for my birthday. It was a surprise.

Monday morning we took our daughter to the airport for her trip home. Tuesday we took a drive through Red Rock Canyon. It is about a 15 mile drive, a visitor center has nice displays, some desert animals, and information on the desert plants. There are stop offs at the scenic spots. Most people who go to Las Vegas never get out of the hotels & casinos, if you have time while there this is worth seeing.

One day out driving we passed Dom DeMarcos Pizza, my son said he wanted to try their pizza. The week before President Obama was in town for a fund raiser. Secret service or an aide called & wanted to order some pizza. The owner said we don’t deliver, he was told he definitely wanted to deliver this order & it would probably benefit him. He decided to take the order, he was met by secret service & then found out the pizza was for the President & family. He waited around for 45 min. & was told the pizza was good. He said his business increased by 20% after the story was in the papers.

Our last night there we went for Dom DeMarcos pizza. It was great, the best pizza I have ever had. They have thin crust New York style or square Chicago style. We had the New York style. It was about twice the price we pay at home but was worth it. We had calamari & French fries for an appetizer, enough for the four of us & our grandson.

Even though I thought the pizza was a little pricey, we ate the calamari & fries, a large pizza & I had a $5 beer. The total bill was $56, pretty reasonable dinning any where for five people. So if you are in Las Vegas & like pizza you have to try some of Dom DeMarcos pizza. He immigrated here from Italy in 1959, opened Di Farra’s pizza in Brooklyn. He just opened the one in Las Vegas last year.

Smokin Don

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Brat Cheeseburgers

I get hungry for a brat burger once in awhile instead of in the casings. I bought 5 of my butcher’s regular bratwursts to use. Peppers & onions are a favorite topping for brats so I just added them to the meat for that taste. I removed them from the casings, added ½ small onion chopped, 1 TBS garlic salt, & a ½ chopped yellow pepper. Normally I would use a green pepper but I had a yellow pepper on hand.

I mixed it all together & made 4 patties from it. I did them on the smoker at 300 deg. for 30 min. went to 325 deg another 15 min then added some Swiss cheese & on another 5 min. I put them in the oven I had just done some sweet potato fries in to hold while I toasted the buns. I served them up with some Lays potato chips & mustard. I love potato chips on sandwiches, adds a flavor & a little crunch.

Cooked low & slow this way they do not get a sear on them but they are done & juicy. I do hamburgers this way, ½ hour is enough for them.

They were great, the brat burgers had good taste & were juicy!


Peppers & onions

Ready to mix

Making the patties

On my Traeger

My Plate

Smokin Don

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chicken Brat Stuffed Meat Loaf

Friday I went to my butchers for ground chuck to make a meatloaf. I had planned on stuffing it with some of his brats or sausage links. He had some fresh chicken brats so decided to use them. I wanted to smoke & cook them first so put them on for an hour on smoke mode, 175 deg then went to 225 deg to finish to an IT of 155 deg.

Sat after lunch I mixed up my meat loaf.
1 ½ lbs ground chuck
1 small chopped onion
2 eggs
½ cup crushed crackers
¼ cup BBQ sauce
Garlic salt & fresh ground pepper

I divided the mixture in half, pressed into a flat loaf shape. One of the chicken brats would be enough. I sliced shallow cuts on both curved sides to straighten some. I laid a slice of red pepper on the sides for a little color & taste. I shaped the other half & placed on top & sealed the edges.

I put the meat loaf on at 325 deg. After 45 min. it was at 140 deg IT so went to 350 deg & was up to 160 deg IT, total cook time one hour 20 min. I placed it into a 200 deg oven to hold while I did a quick stir fry of sugar snap peas, red & yellow peppers, & onions. I warmed up some of my smashed potatoes too.

It all tasted good & was a pretty easy meal to fix.

Bottom half w/brat & red pepper

Ready for the smoker

On the smoker

My Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chicken Cutlets & Spaghetti Squash

Tonight I had one of those easy meals planned, breaded chicken cutlets from my butcher and spaghetti squash. The melted onions would be perfect on top of the squash. Spaghetti squash is our favorite squash. I like to cut them in half long ways, clean out the seeds, then bake on a foil lined pan, cut side down at 350 deg for an hour to an hour & a half. Spray the foil with some olive oil or lay a TBS of butter under each half. When they’re done just scoop out the meat which comes out like strands of spaghetti; and serve with butter & seasoning. My wife likes it with spaghetti sauce over but I prefer some butter & garlic salt.

The skin is tough so use care when cutting in half, you almost need a machete! They can be baked whole or boiled but I find it harder to clean out the seeds after cooking. It is much easier to cut in half this way though.

When my squash was about done I browned the chicken cutlets in some olive oil, took my squash out of the oven. I spooned some tomato sauce on the cutlets & topped w/cheese; put them under the broiler until the cheese was melted & bubbly.

I plated it up & served some heated cheese bread on the side. My wife had butter & garlic salt on her squash. I had some of the melted onions, delicious! I can see more melted onions in the future!

Squash cut in half & seeds removed from one.

After baking

My Plate

Smokin Don

Melted Onions

I have always loved caramelized onions. I first read about this new method, for me anyway, melted onions at It also said tomatoes were good this way. I decided to do the onions to have on top of my spaghetti squash tonight.

The recipe was 4 onions sliced thin, in a sauce pan w/1/4 cup of olive oil and a TBS of kosher salt. Cover it with parchment & cook on low heat for several hours.

I got mine on and on my lowest setting LOW, seemed to be doing well. I stirred about every half hour. After 2 hours I tasted & way too salty if you wanted to use as a condiment, and I am a salt lover. I would say 1 teaspoon would be enough salt. I added some dried granulated garlic & fresh ground pepper at this time.

After 2 ½ hours I thought it had cooked enough but decided to try & brown it up some so went to Med heat and stirred for about 20 minutes. I think it will go good on my spaghetti squash if I don’t add anymore salt. It cooks down to a small amount, about 1/3 cup from 4 med onions.

I searched “melted onion recipes” on the net & came up with quite a few. Some use butter instead of olive oil for the onions, I will try that next time but want to try tomatoes next & will use olive oil. The onions would be great on top of a steak or pork chop.

The onions were some Peru Sweet

The onions in sauce pan w/olive oil & salt

Simmering w/parchment paper on top

After 2 hours & garlic & pepper added

After trying to caramelizing, they did get a little brown before I quit

Here you see whats left of 4 onions; 3 or 4 servings

Smokin Don

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Pizza

Would you believe Jan. 31st & 60 deg here in NW Ohio! I have crocuses blooming & even daffodils popping up. They had predicted warm today & I had planned on doing pizza on the Traeger. I always loved cabbage rolls but too big of pain to make. Then quite awhile ago I found a recipe for unstuffed cabbage rolls, just chop the cabbage, do it all in a skillet & serve over rice. I had ½ head of cabbage left & thought why not try an unstuffed cabbage roll pizza. It just might be good & would be fun to try.

I bought some ground round, a pizza crust, tomato sauce & paste, and pizza cheese. Cabbage rolls don’t usually have cheese but I had to have it for a pizza. I browned up the ground round w/onions, salt & pepper. Then I chopped the cabbage in ½ inch squares & cooked it until almost done, w/a little salt & pepper. I mixed up the sauce & heated it to a boil then let cool. Nothing left to do but assemble the pizza & bake. I cut a peach in half & would grill it w/brown sugar & butter on top to serve with the pizza.

I preheated the Traeger on high & while it was heating up I assembled my pizza. I put the peach halves on cut side down, 10 min. before the pizza. The Traeger was at 415 deg. I turned the peaches over & added some brown sugar butter mix, and added the pizza. After 15 min I rotated the pizza 180 deg. Another 7 or 8 min. the pizza was done.

I sliced the pizza & served the wife & I, we both had a small salad too. My unstuffed cabbage roll pizza was a hit & we both said we would eat it again!

I will add a printable recipe for the pizza and the skillet version.

Printable Recipe

Some ingredients

Browning the Meat

The Cabbage

A layer of sauce & meat

A layer of cabbage & caraway seeds

A little more sauce

Cheese topping

On the smoker


My Plate

Smokin Don