Monday, March 31, 2014

Italian Meatloaf over Pasta w/Marinara Sauce

Mar 30 2014

Looks like spring may just stay around awhile, it was 50 deg. today, 64 next 2 days and 50’s the rest of the week. It was great to get out and smoke on the Traeger today.

I decided to make an Italian meat loaf and serve it over spaghetti with sauce. I have made my own sauce but usually just buy Classico from the store and doctor it up a bit. I bought some Lucini’s Tuscan Marinara roasted garlic sauce to try for this cook. It is supposed to be made in small batches and was more than double what I pay for Classico. I don’t mind spending more when it comes to food though.

I made up the meatloaf early and got it in the fridge to set a few hours. I made up the recipe for the meatloaf and used some of the sauce in it. My wife ate a late lunch so I told her we would eat at 6:30.

My wife wanted me to use whole wheat pasta whenever I made pasta dishes. I tried it for a while but don’t care for it. Now I use Ronzonni’s Smart Taste, it has the benefits of whole wheat but the taste of white pasta.

I got the meatloaf on at about 10 till 5:00. The daughter in law called and wanted to use the oven to bake some cupcakes, I had plenty to feed her too. I made up Romaine salads and had the pasta ready and the sauce heated up when the meatloaf was done. I had made up some garlic chive butter to have with the last of my peasant bread and toasted it some under the broiler while the meatloaf rested some.

The grandson said he was not hungry and headed for the PC to play mine craft. We all ate and then the daughter in law made her cupcakes to take to work tomorrow. We all liked it; the wife said the meatloaf was extra good. I shaved some WI aged Asiago cheese over top for a change from parmesan. The veggie daughter in law even ate some of the meatloaf! The grandson ate some before they went home.


Ready for the smoker

Done at 165 deg. IT

My supper

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Porcini Chops, fried Cabbage and Spaetzel

Mar 29 2014

I have known for years that some people use mushroom powder to enhance meat flavor. Now I wonder why I didn’t try this stuff sooner. I got a pound of porcini mushroom powder a couple weeks ago from Amazon. It seemed expensive at $26 but a pound will flavor a lot of steaks or chops and enhance soups or stews.

We were hungry for some pork chops and I had cabbage left to use. I found a recipe to use the mushroom powder. I changed it some and it turned out great; I will use the same on steaks. I mixed up a good 3 tablespoons of the powder, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a good ½ teaspoon of garlic powder. It was just about right for 3 to 4 chops.

I used some Morton Tender Quick on the chops and in the fridge for an hour. Then they were rinsed well, dried and smeared the mushroom powder mix on and they went in the fridge. The recipe said up to 4 hours and mine were in over 3 hours.

I heated my water to boil some spaetzel and as soon as I got it in I had my skillet heated on med. high to do the chops. I sprayed a little olive oil in and did the chops 4 min. on the first side and 3 on the second. They went into a covered casserole dish with just a little beer and into a heated 275 deg. oven. I deglazed the skillet with a little beer and the cut up cabbage went in there. You could use white wine but I had a beer!

The spaetzel was drained and went into a skillet with a couple pats of butter to brown some. The cabbage was done 10 minutes with lid on and stirred half way. Then it went another 10 to 15 minutes with the lid off. I served it up with some good bread and butter. The wife and I both though it was great!

I will be using the mushroom powder a lot, an amazing taste. I was putting the extra pork chop away and tasted the pan juice left and I though danged why I didn’t make gravy or at least pour a spoonful over the chops to serve. If some are like me and love good mushroom gravy but not crazy about the texture of the cooked mushrooms the powder is a great way to enjoy mushroom flavor. I can see it going into
my soups and stews too.

Not the healthiest meal but it sure did taste good!

Mushroom powder and marinade rub

Adding the rub

Browned and ready for the oven



Chops ready to serve

My supper

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bread Pudding

Mar 28 2014

I have been itching to get out and do more cooking on my Traeger. With the weather forecast I didn’t plan anything for Thurs. Fri. or Sat. We got most all the rain forecast Thurs. night and I could have cooked out Thurs. and Fri. Tomorrow its forecast for a winter mix. Sunday is supposed to be a sunny 49 deg. so have a meatloaf planned for then.

You could call our supper tonight a Sandman supper. My wife and I both had a Philly cheese steak from his carry out; pretty darn good, the beef is thin sliced from rib eye. Our side, Curtido slaw, I made from some pineapple vinegar Sandman gave me. Both tasted great!

When I tried some loaf bread from my Bread in 5 peasant dough I had in mind to make some bread pudding from it. I had a recipe from the Bread in 5 cookbook I wanted to use. I didn’t have enough dough to fill a good loaf pan so I used some French bread I bought. I would rather have the peasant bread for butter bread anyway!

I baked the bread pudding this afternoon and we had it along with some Edy’s vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.It tasted great. This is a great way to use up old bread too.

The bread pudding was bread sliced ½ inch thick to cover a 9X13X2 baking dish. 1 quart half and half cream, 8 large egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, I used half white and half brown. I used a little more spices than the recipe; I used ½ teaspoon dried orange peel, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and eyeballed the fresh grated nutmeg. Mix the egg yolks and cream well then mix in all other ingredients, pour over the bread and let sit 10 minutes. Make sure the bread all gets coated. Bake for about 1 hour loosely covered with foil and poke holes in the center at 325 deg. I removed the foil after 45 minutes and sprinkled on some brown sugar.


Ready to bake

Ready to eat

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chicken Breasts, Cheese Potatoes & Curtido slaw

Mar 27 2014

The other day I went through my beer carry out and Sandman gave me a pint of pineapple vinegar he had made. I remembered when I was making my Curtido, S.A. sauerkraut; they also made a fresh version of slaw using pineapple vinegar. I made up a batch of it and had it in the fridge about 6 hours before supper.

I would make some cheesy potatoes for another side and some baked chicken breasts. I usually use a can of Campbell’s cheddar cheese in my potatoes. When I opened it looked a little brown instead of the nice yellow. Checked the due date and it was this month. I was afraid to use it and found another can of Rico’s cheddar cheese. Due date on it was 2012, I didn’t even open it!

I made up the potatoes with a layer of potatoes, some shredded triple cheddar and then a second layer. I added half and half cream to come up half way. They were more like a cheese scalloped potatoes than my usual but just as good. I put them in a 350 deg. oven for 1 ½ hours lid on then took the lid off the last 20 minutes.

I figured an hour would do for the chicken breast. I made a mix of about a cup of Panko bread crumbs, 1/3 cup of parmesan and some Lawrey’s  seasoned salt. I placed them on a foil lined broiler pan and in the oven. All should be done by 6:00pm.

I checked the chicken at 5 till, it didn’t look brown enough. I figured the potatoes would hold and I could put the chicken under the broiler. I checked the temp and they were at 176 deg. I was afraid maybe I would dry them out so I let all set about 5 minutes and served it up. I had a little good bread with my butter!

I should have taken the time to brown the chicken; it was some juicy tasty chicken. My wife even said the same. If I had not been doing the potatoes I would have done the chicken at 375 or 400 deg. We both really like the slaw for some a little different. The pineapple vinegar is not as acidic, sour, as other vinegar.
Slaw ingredients

Ready to mix



For the chicken

Ready to bake

Cheese potatoes

My supper

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pulled Pork Sandwich w/Kimchi, Mac & Cheese

Mar 25 2014

Snow today so glad I was cooking inside. It started snowing after lunch and then it stopped and the sun came out. The snow melted some, it was pretty wet and not much on the ground then it started again and it was like a white out, very fine snow and windy. The forecast looked like spring weather for Thurs. sun and a high of 50 but just looked and saw where it changed to wintery mix in the am and a high of 48.

Just after lunch I baked a loaf of bread from my bread in 5 peasant dough. I would use it for a pulled pork sandwich from my maple garlic pork I had done Sunday. I had saved the pan juices so I took it from the fridge and skimmed off the fat then mixed it in with the leftover pork. I heated a sample to taste, a little sweet so I mixed in a little malt vinegar. I was going to have a sandwich with some of my Kimchi over it and some Kimchi on the side. My wife requested some mac & cheese and fixed herself some broccoli slaw to have, she won’t eat the Kimchi!

My wife likes her mac & cheese on the runny side so made some stove top and used some shredded cheese that needed used up. I made the pasta and mixed in about a cup of fiesta, a cup of triple cheddar and some half and half cream, and stirred until melted well. It went into a 200 deg. oven to hold while I made up my wife’s plate and my sandwich. My wife had some bread with hers and I toasted the bread for my sandwich it would hold together better for eating. My sandwich was a little Dusseldorf mustard a good amount of pork and some Kimchi.

That was a quick and easy meal that tasted great. I like the Kimchi on the pork.

Skimming fat from pan juices

My supper

Monday, March 24, 2014

Maple Garlic Pork Shoulder w/crispy skin

Mar 23 2014

I am like a kid with a toy, some recipes I see and know I just have to try it. This was one of those I found on Food52 by ENunn. The ingredients, maple syrup, a lot of garlic, fennel seeds, black pepper and cayenne sounded good. To top it off at the end you were to baste it with a bottle of Matilda beer, a malt fruity taste. It was for a 6 to 8 lb. pork shoulder with skin on, scored. Cooking time was 18 hours at 225 deg. in an inside oven. I adapted it to my Traeger pellet smoker.

I knew I would have to use a fresh picnic shoulder, the only skin on pork I can get around here. I could not find Matilda beer, made by Goose Island. I bought some Leinenkugels Berry Weis. It sure is fruity and ended up mixing it with half Leiny’s Hoppin Helles.

My picnic shoulder was 9.3 lbs. I trimmed about an inch of the fat off 3 sides and scored it an inch wide. I used a utility knife to get through the skin then a boning knife to cut down to the meat. I had mixed my maple syrup, olive oil, and malt vinegar and mixed my garlic paste up. Rereading the directions I saw I was supposed to add the olive oil to the garlic paste. I thought oh well it’s all going on anyways. I added some onions to the pan for flavor.

I was doing the pork in two foil roasters, makes it easier to carry and the bottom pan I could use again. I smeared 1/3 of the garlic paste over the meat side and in the roaster pan fat side down I had sprayed with olive oil. It went into a 410 deg. oven for 30 minutes. The recipe said 450 deg. but I was afraid the fat would stick when I turned it to skin side up. I used some meat gloves to turn the roast and didn’t get that much brown but figured to do at the end of the cook.

I poured about a third of the maple syrup mix over it then smeared on the rest of the garlic paste. I saved the rest of the syrup mix and basted it twice during the night and through the next morning. It went on my Traeger preheated to 225 deg. this was at 11:00 pm Sat. night. I am a little leery about doing a cook over night since my smoker is on a wood deck but at that low of temperature and with my Maverick high temp alarm set to 300 deg. I felt pretty safe.

I got up twice during the night to baste it and check on the pellets. I was using Cookin Pellets 100% hickory. I kept an eye on it all day Sunday, and got the syrup mix all on. I started basting it with the beer about 3:00.

I checked the temp at 4:15 and it was 180 deg. IT so I heated up my oven to 450 deg. to crisp up the skin. It took 15 min. to crisp the skin. I turned the oven off and left the door ajar for 10 minutes. I took it out and let set 10 minutes. Using my meat gloves I placed it on a large tray and let set another 15 minutes.
I pulled enough for my supper. I only got about half the skin crisp enough to eat but was great.

I had some Bush’s Grillin beans, southern pit style, and some bread and butter. I had some Cholula hot sauce, the pork was sweet so the heat was good on it. I was eating all alone, all that good pork! Our son had to work. My wife was at a play with a friend. My wife and daughter in law was going to get pizza at 6 but the wife was late getting home and the daughter in law didn’t get here until 6:30 and had already ate.

I had a plate fixed up for my son to pick up and share at work. My daughter in law ran it up to him. The grandson was at a neighbors playing so when the daughter in law went to pick him up I sent some of the pork for the neighbors.

Would I do it again, yes, it was as tender and moist as any pork roast I have done. I loved the flavors but would do it at 250 to 275 deg. to shorten the cooking time. I might cut back some on the fennel and would mix the olive oil with the garlic paste and do the maple syrup mix the same way as I did. Pouring all that syrup on at once would just run off and maybe burn in the pan.

 A little long winded but it was along cook!

6 hours in smoker

12 hours in smoker

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Smoky Chili Lime Cashews

Mar 22 2014

It has been a busy day for me. I started at lunch time and was finally done at 5:00. Oh forgot I did manage to get a half hour nap in. I had a pound of raw cashews and a recipe for smoky chili lime cashews. I also had two heads of Napa cabbage and wanted to get a batch of Kimchi started.

I got the cashews, butter, olive oil and seasoning mixed up and let them set an hour stirring a couple of times. I placed them in my Weber grill pan and on the smoker at 170 to 180 deg. for one hour then went to 225 deg. for 45 minutes. After cooling the cashews did not taste roasted enough. The original recipe I think was for and indoor oven a 225 deg. for 2 hours. I can’t find where I got the recipe. I looked it up for roasting raw cashews and it said 325 deg. oven for 15 to 20 minutes. So I spread them out on a cookie sheet and did them in my oven for 15 min. at 325. I thought they were just right.

I changed the recipe to do them all in a smoker and changed enough of the original I can post. I could have stood a little more heat; my Penzey’s Cajun seasoning is on the mild side.

After I had the nuts done I snuck in a nap. I then cut up my cabbage for Kimchi and got it salted to set for a half hour. I got it rinsed well and all mixed in to set for two days on the cupboard. It will be ready to place in jars and the fridge Monday.

My wife got a 4 piece broasted chicken for Sandman’s for supper; I ate some leftovers and her chicken leg. I went to bed at 6:00 and up at 9:30 to get a skin on picnic shoulder for a long cook on the Traeger for tomorrow night. I will be up a couple of times to check on it through the night.
Ready for the smoker

Lime zest

Zest added after smoking

After 15 min. in the oven

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Corn Chowder, w/shrimp, potatoes and bacon

Mar 21 2014

I woke up to a little snow, just enough to see. I did some grocery shopping in the am. After lunch it warmed up and would hit 62 deg. and sunny.

It was the nicest day we have had since winter this am! Me and the dog was outside all afternoon. I cleaned up the yard and enjoyed some beer and sunshine.

I had some fresh corn thawed from last summer and was having some chowder for supper. The corn chowder would include; onions, celery, potatoes, bacon, shrimp, chicken broth, cream, salt, pepper and some old bay seasoning.

I decided to brown my bacon on my Weber Q100; so I got my CI bean pot out to do it in. I diced up 6 slices of Kah’s thick sliced bacon and rendered it down until crisp. I saved it and the grease for the chowder.

I sautéed the onions and celery in 3 Tbs. bacon grease. I stirred in some flour then added chicken broth and potatoes. I brought it to a slow boil and added the bacon and seasoning; I let that go for 15 minutes.
I added the shrimp and some half and half, about a half cup. I brought it back to a boil and then set off the burner to serve. I had some garlic knots ready from the oven.

I served my wife a bowl with more bacon and a little parsley on top. Mine was the same with fresh ground pepper too. It was mighty tasty, quick and easy!



For the chowder

Onions and celery sauteing

A little flour added

All in but the shrimp and cream

My chowder

Friday, March 21, 2014

Za'atar Popcorn

Mar 20 2014

Awhile back my wife’s cousin gave me a jar of Israeli Za’atar mix. One taste led to a good pinch and probably could have eaten the whole jar, delicious. Right away I thought it would be good on my favorite snack, popcorn. Za’atar is actually a plant in the thyme family and grows wild and is cultivated.

The Sindyanna Za’atar mix I used is made of Za’atar leaves and other spices such as sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, sumac and more. I could not pick out one definitive spice, just one savory flavor with the nutty flavor from the toasted sesame seeds. I ordered some Lebanese style from Amazon that will be here tomorrow and anxious to taste it.

I looked for ways to use it on popcorn and one was just olive oil over the popcorn and the Za’atar mix. I popped my favorite corn, Amish lady finger in my stove top Whirlypopper. I used 1 Tbs. olive oil and one Tbs. butter with a half cup of popcorn. I mixed up 1 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. melted butter and a teaspoon of white truffle oil to pore over. Then I added the Za’atar mix and stirred until well coated.

After supper we watched Andrew Zimmeran in Montreal, Canada. That was a great show and made me ready for our snack so I made it up. We both had a bowl and then finished what was left. All I can say is delicious!

The Players

In the popper

My whirlypopper

My bowl of goodies