Saturday, December 29, 2012

Italian sausage and turkey meatballs

Dec 28 2012

Thursday I made up a batch of Italian gravy using an old Frugal Gourmet’s recipe. I love that stuff. I only used one cup of red wine instead of two and had two chicken breast bones and two leg quarters to add. I use chicken broth too instead of beef broth. I didn’t take any photos since it is basically mixing all in a pot and simmering two hours.

I decided to have turkey and Italian sausage meatballs to have with it. I made up my recipe, used Kellogg’s corn flake crumbs; because I had some, I usually use bread crumbs. My recipe made 12 meatballs and didn’t look like enough for five. I made four more meatballs from the ¼ pound of turkey sausage I had left for my daughter in law and would heat them separately in sauce for her. She is a veggie but will eat poultry once in a while.

My wife, daughter, daughter in law and grandson went to a movie and did some shopping after on Friday so I told them I would have supper ready at 6:00 pm.

I wanted to brown up the meatballs on my smoker. I got them on at 3:30 and did them on smoke mode 170 to 180 deg. for one hour then went to 300 deg. for another half hour to brown. I had placed toothpicks in the meatballs for my dil. They were done at 5:00 and put them in two separate pans, covered with the Italian gravy. I brought them to a boil then down to low and simmered covered on low.

I made up 5 salads for us and had my water ready to cook the spaghetti when they got home. I had some garlic bread from the grocery bakery to bake and serve with it. I was glad everyone liked my supper. It was pretty good to me. My grandson had his meatballs on the side and ate the spaghetti plain. His eating habits are funny to me sometimes but he will eat a lot of things I could never get my kids to eat.

We were all eating and my wife said “did you take your photo”? I said no so I had seconds, you will see My Plate photo is a little meager since it was my seconds.

Printable meatball recipe

Link to Italian Gravy Recipe

Meatball ingredients

Ready to mix up

Ready for the smoker

Smoked and browned

My Plate, seconds

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Christmas Dinner 2012

Dec 23 2012

Last Thursday we had wind, 40 to 50mph, all afternoon and evening. Friday I wanted to start smoking some things for my Christmas dinner. I woke up to my covered smoke deck with a lot of snow inside. After getting it cleaned out I smoked a pound and a half of pistachios. I coated them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkled on some Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle. It is a mix of salt, garlic, black pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Love that stuff on about anything. I smoked them at 170 deg. for one and a half hours.

Friday evening I mixed up some Cajun and Korean crackers to set overnight. I added some grated parmesan cheese to the Cajun crackers this time. I will serve some of my smoked Gouda and provolone cheese with these.

Saturday I smoked the two batches of crackers. That evening I cut the backbone out of two chickens and got them in a brine for overnight. The brine was a half a gallon of water, 1/3 cup of kosher salt, ¼ cup of brown sugar and some dried garlic flakes.

The chickens were in the brine for 12 hours. This morning I rinsed them well and dried then in the fridge for a couple of hours to air dry. I got them on the smoker at 11:00 at 180 deg. after a half hour I eased the temp up to 275 deg. I knew the one on the right of my Traeger would be done first so I monitored it for breast temp of 170 deg. then I finished the second one. It took about 1 ½ hours for the one then another 15 minutes for the other one. I let them cool before pulling the meat.

While the chicken was cooling I put a frog mat on the smoker to do some bacon for my spinach salad. I did a pound and threw on a slice of my Butcher, Kah Meats, old fashioned bung bologna for a late lunch sandwich for the cook, Me! It hit the spot and I also saved the chicken skin and nuked it for some chichorones. I had some taste treats with today’s cook!

I am all done for today and cleaned up from the cooking. We are now waiting for our daughter to get here from Chicago area and our son and dil and grandson will be coming down for some carry ins tonight.

My Christmas dinner cook for tomorrow evening should be pretty easy. I just have to get the chicken in a Crockpot to warm up, make my spinach salad, bake my hash brown casserole, and heat up the Bush’s grillen beans.

I will follow up with some photos and recipes after Christmas. Happy Holidays and hope all has some great food!

Snow in my Smoking Deck

Fridays smoked pistachios

Smoked Korean Crackers from Saturdays cook

Pats of butter and Lawry's seasoned salt for under the breast skin

Chickens ready for the smoker

Chickens are done and cooling

Some chichorones, treats for the cook

Bacon and a bologna for the cook

Chicken pulled and ready for tomorrow

Christmas Dinner update:

A nice Christmas for us this year, it was almost like we had three family get togethers. Sunday evening our daughter got home from the Chicago area so our son, wife and grandson came down for carry ins for supper. We had pizza, deep fried pickles and mushrooms, some boneless bbq wings, and I had some tacos all from our favorite carry out. We had our Christmas dinner Christmas Eve then this morning I fixed breakfast for all before the son & family headed to Toledo to have Christmas with the wife’s family.

This was about the easiest Christmas dinner I have ever done. I had the chicken ready to heat up, After lunch I mixed up the spinach salad and mixed up the hash brown casserole except for the corn flakes and butter topping. My wife made up the veggie platter, and we had plenty of appetizers, Cajun and Korean smoked crackers, smoked cheese, smoked pistachios, salsa, and taco chips. Our daughter in law brought some pretty desserts, square pretzels with different candy toppings.

I heated up the chicken in a Crockpot, and hour on high and then on low for a half hour. I had some chicken broth to add if it was dried out but it stayed plenty moist. I had different toppings for the sandwiches. We all liked the hash brown casserole. The Ore Ida frozen hash browns has the recipe right on the package. I added a teaspoon of dried garlic and onion and used cream of celery soup instead of the cream of chicken, any creamed soup would work. I bought a box of crushed Corn Flakes for the topping but thought they were too fine. Next time I will buy the cereal and do my own for a little more crunch.

We all love the spinach salad, a family recipe from my wife’s cousin. I don’t know where she got it but we have been fixing it for at least 30 years. The beans are my secret recipe, out of the can Bush’s grillen beans!

Printable Spinach Salad Recipe

The appetizer counter

The smoked pulled chicken

Spinach salad mixed up

Hash brown casserole

My salad

My Plate

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays and New Year

December 2012

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it; and may all who celebrate other holidays in December have a Happy and Merry time. Best wishes to all for the coming New Year 2013!

I don’t usually make resolutions for the coming year but if I did it would be that no child, anywhere, goes to bed hungry!

My wife has her red table cloth on for the holidays in the photo below. This will be our 40th Christmas and New Year’s dinner in this home.

My Christmas dinner will be simple this year, some appetizers, pulled chicken sandwiches, a hash brown potato casserole, spinach salad, and some Bush’s grillin’ beans.

My New Year’s dinner will be traditional, good luck, pork and sauerkraut along with knopfles, German drop noodles, and mashed potatoes.

Smokin Don

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beefy Meatloaf and Bistro Potatoes

Having changed my rouladens from beef to pork the other day left me hungry for beef so decided to do one of my favorite meatloaves. I had not fixed Bistro mashed potatoes lately and they would taste good with it.

I could not find the garlic and herb Shake and bake at the grocery so I had to settle for ranch and herb. That is one bad thing about large chain groceries, they don’t cater to the customer like the small groceries used to. A computer decides what they carry.

I made up the meatloaf early and in the fridge. I put the meatloaf on at 4:00 a half hour on smoke mode 175 deg. for a half hour then eased the temp up to 275 deg. It settled in about 300 deg. at grill level so left it there. I had planned on eating at 6:00.

A little after 5:00 I peeled the potatoes and got them on to boil. At 5:30 the meatloaf was done and I still had to do the potatoes and carrots! I heat my oven to 190 deg. pulled the meatloaf from the smoker and in the oven to hold while I finished up.

I got the potatoes mixed up to a good thick consistency that I like. I had the gravy heating up; a jar of Heinz savory beef with ½ can of cheddar and cream of celery soup and a little cream. I sautéed some baby carrots in butter, when they were soft I added some soy sauce and a little brown sugar.

I served the meatloaf and potatoes with gravy over, the sautéed carrots and some bread and butter. This made for a great meal, meatloaf was about fall apart but was moist and tasty; that is better than being too dense and dry!

Printable Meatloaf Recipe

Printable Bistro Potato Recipe

Meatloaf ingredients

Ready to mix up

Ready for the smoker

Meatloaf is done

The bistro mashed potatoes

Glazed carrots

My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pork Rouladens

Dec 14 2012

I wanted to make some beef rouladen. I went to my butcher and he didn’t have any nice cuts of round steak but had some nice pork tenderloins. I would do pork rouladen so I bought four of them. I had read where pork was probably the first meat used for rouladen.

I searched for recipes and read different cooking procedures. I settled on one at by Tea Girl that sounded good and would be a guide for me. I didn’t have Malzbier, a sweet malt beer, so I couldn’t use that. I couldn’t find crème frache at either grocery in town so I substituted Greek yogurt and cream cheese mixed together. She used raw bacon but wanting to cut some fat I did mine on my smoker first.

I did the bacon on my smoker at 275 deg. It took about 50 minutes, and put it in the fridge to cool. I mixed about two heaping Tbs. of the yogurt and a Tbs. of cream cheese well. Peeled and diced a granny smith apple and mixed all with four Tbs. of sauerkraut and some crumbled bacon, then in the fridge.

Tea Girl browned her s in some oil then covered with the liquid and simmered about an hour. I planned to smoke mine for a half hour at 175 deg. then go to high on my smoker until browned.

Time for me to pound out the pork and make the rolls. It didn’t go well; length wise the rolls would be too large and so went the other way but had trouble getting the stuffing covered with the meat and secured with tooth picks. I needed to tie them with butchers twine. When I looked for it I couldn’t find it. I ask my wife where it was; “I don’t know the last time you used it you said you were going to put it in a different place”. I remembered where I used to keep it she kept covering it up with other things so I moved it! But now I couldn’t remember, old age! I gave up trying to fine it and proceeded with the tooth picks. I did pretty well with two of them but not so good with the other two; it would have to do. They were covered and went in the fridge until ready to cook.

Looking one more time for the butchers twine I found it! I tied them before going on the smoker and felt better, they didn’t look too bad! I got them on; smoke mode at 175 deg. for a half hour then went to high and in twenty minutes they looked good. I had a cast iron skillet heating on the stove with the vegetable broth; I removed the tooth picks and placed them in the skillet. I added more broth to cover and brought to a boil then turned down the heat to simmer.

I cooked some of my favorite store bought spaetzel to have with the rouladen. Just before the spaetzel was done I removed the rouladen to the oven to hold at 190 deg. while I made the gravy. I used a jar of Heinz pork gravy and added about one cup of the vegetable broth; brought to a boil then added slurry of a Tbs. of corn starch and water to thicken.

I drained the spaetzel in a colander, added a couple of pats of butter to the pan then added the spaetzel back in. I cut the twine from two of the rouladen and plated them. I added the spaetzel some parsley flakes and gravy. We had some Italian bread and Kerrygold Irish butter with it.

The pork was a little dry and tough; we cut it up and added more gravy and it was pretty good.

I wasn’t going to post this but I guess I should share some of my not so good cooks too. My basic recipe I think was a good one. The next time I make rouladens, beef or pork, I will not try to brown on the smoker. I think that is what dried them out. I will just use the smoker for the bacon.

I just sliced one up thin and had it with gravy over toast for lunch and it was better the second time around!

Printable Rouladen Recipe

Bacon on the smoker

Apples, sauerkraut and bacon

Mixed with the yogurt and cream cheese

Pork fillets

Rolled and toothpicked

Tied after finding my twine

Browned on my smoker

Simmering in the broth

My Plate

Smokin Don

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Smoked Meat Chili

Dec 12 2012

Cold weather here and a good time for a hot bowl of chili! For years I never had a recipe for chili, each batch was different. I always told my wife this is the best chili I have ever made, sometimes it was not! Awhile back I made a batch that my wife thought was extra good and she said write that down, so I did and now I have a basic recipe to use.

I like a mix of 1 ½ pounds of ground chuck and ½ pound of sausage. Lately I have been smoking it on my Traeger; I think it adds to the flavor. I was doing it in a Weber veggie pan that was slotted, and smoked it for one hour. My butcher has one pound chubs of ground chuck & I thought why not just smoke two of those for the chili.

I seasoned the thawed chubs with a little salt, pepper and chili powder, smoked them for one hour at 175 deg. then went to 275 deg. In another 35 minutes they were at 140 deg. IT. I let them rest while I sautéed my onions and garlic. I used some garlic flakes; I was too lazy to chop some fresh!

I placed the onions in a five quart Crockpot; broke up the ground chuck and added. I set the Crockpot on high. I added the tomatoes and seasoning and about a cup of beer. For the chili powders this time I used 1 Tbs. of ground ancho chilies, 2 Tbs. of mild chili powder and ½ tsp. of cumin. I let that cook for two hours and added the beans and a little more beer. I usually like to use plain little red beans or pinto beans but this time I tried some of Bush’s chili beans. I checked for seasoning and added some more salt.

My chili had cooked at least four hours by the time we ate supper. I read once where chili needs to simmer at least three hours to meld all the flavors. We like our chili topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream and some buttered crackers to eat with it. I had a bottle of Yuengling Lager with mine and added a little Cholula hot sauce. The chili sure hit the spot.

Printable chili recipe

Chili ingredients and toppings

Seasoned chuck

Chuck done on the smoker


Onions and garlic sauteed

Chili is ready

My bowl, my supper

Smokin Don

Monday, December 10, 2012

Italian Sausage and Cornmeal Terrine

Dec 09 2012

I always wanted to make a meat terrine, but I must have figured it would be one of those things I would fix and only I would eat it. I was looking for a recipe to use up three sausage patties, slightly over salted!

I ran across a recipe by Mario Batali of food net, Warm Terrine of Sausage, Peppers, Polenta and Mozzarella. That sounded good and not too hard to make.

Saturday I made up the terrine. I crumbled the sausage patties and got all the other ingredients ready. It said to assemble fast so the cornmeal would pour easily. It said to use a 12X4X4 terrine pan. The closest I had was a bread loaf pan so that would have to do.

I heated up the six cups of water with a tablespoon of bacon grease; to a boil and added the two cups of cornmeal stirring as I went. When I got it all in it was one step beyond pourable so I really had to work fast. I stirred in the ¼ cup of parmesan since I was having tomato gravy over it. Using a large spoon I was able to get all the layers in and smoothed down. I only used about ¾ of the ingredients so I stirred what was left into what cornmeal was left and into a pan to save. After it cooled it went in the fridge overnight.

I had a package of garlic cheddar biscuit mix, Pioneer Mills that would go good with it. I baked them early but didn’t get them as brown as I wanted but they were done; I should have left them in the oven a little longer.

The terrine came out of the pan nicely and I sliced off three slices to have. I did them on my Traeger at 300 deg. for 35 minutes then went to 325 deg. and sprayed them with some olive oil cooking spray. While they were cooking I made up my tomato gravy. Checking the smoker the terrine slices looked done so went to 180 deg. to hold while the gravy finished.

I served the wife and I a slice of the terrine and two biscuits topped with the tomato gravy. We both liked it. I think it would have been better if I would have just heated the terrine slices and serve as a warm polenta. When I put cornmeal in a mold I think mush and it is fried crispy. With the sausage being cooked it came out slightly dry.

The recipe at food net said for the first step to pour the cornmeal to within ¾ inch of the top. I knew that was wrong since you would not have room for all the layers. I think it meant to pour ¾ inches of cornmeal in the bottom. I think it would also be good for breakfast or lunch with eggs over top. That will be my lunch for tomorrow.

Printable Tomato Gravy Recipe

Ingredients, CW cornmeal, sausage, mozzarella, parmesan, peppers and garlic

Roasting the garlic

Sauteeing the peppers

Ready for the fridge overnight

Loaf came out clean


All done on the smoker

My Plate

Smokin Don