8/31/11

3 Bratwurst with Onion Relish



Nope, the grillin' season ain't over folks!

My Wisconsin born and bred college roommates introduced me to Wisconsin's soul food: 

Bratwurst. 

At first, I was shocked to see that these are cooked in beer.  Beer?!? Beer or any type of alcohol had never touched my lips, and I wasn't about to start.  My sweet and enthusiastic roommates assured me that the alcohol cooked out and that it would taste fabulous.

It has been nearly 30 years since I've had this German influenced delicacy.  Harmon's generously included a package of bratwurst in my gift bag after my back of the store tour, and what did I think of?

My first brat experience with my roommates.

It was time to have bratwurst again ~  no better time than the present, on the heels of summer, going into fall, with tailgating and football games on the horizon.

Thinly sliced yellow onions are simmered with (non-alcoholic) beer, vinegar, salt, mustard seeds and spices.  I  have discovered that alcohol does not fully cook out, so I using an alcohol free amber beer was a great alternative.  You can use chicken or beef broth,  as an alcohol substitution, but the flavors will different.


 Add the bratwurst and simmer for about 10 minutes.  They will absorb the flavors from the beer, onions and spices.


They're looking a little pale, aren't they?  Let's fire up the grill and give 'em some color ...


Now, we're talking!  A medium-high grill till nice and browned is all you need.

The onion mixture is cooked down till brown and fragrant.

Apparently, it is a sin to serve bratwurst on a hot dog bun.  Sheboygan rolls, or brat buns, are hard roll buns that are larger, chewier, and more substantial than a traditional hot dog bun.

I think my French Bread Deli Bun recipe made for very nice brat buns!

Mmmmmmmm.....just as good as I remembered!

Bratwurst and Onion Relish
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)

8/29/11

5 Deli Sandwiches for a Crowd


I was asked to create menus, shop and prepare for several large groups of people, the largest group consisting of 83 people.

I learned many things along the way!

The first meal I made was Deli Sandwiches, and they were a HIT!  Everybody loved them!  What makes this sandwich unique and tasty is the "spread" used in place of the traditional mustard and mayonnaise.... no more soggy sandwiches!

I found 12" hoagie bread at Sam's Club and decided a serving would be a 4" slice.  French bread is also available, but it is wider than the hoagie bread, so you would need to make the slices smaller per serving.

To determine how many servings I would need, I looked closely at the group.  This was a group of teenagers and most of them were boys.  I figured that I would need at least TWO 4" sandwiches for each boy, and only one 4" sandwich for each girl.

If you do not know the ages/genders of the people in your group, it is always better to have MORE food than not enough.  If you are making 73 sandwiches, round it up to 75 or even 80.  Another method is to calculate 1.5 sandwiches per person. 

Next, determine how much food you will need.  Once I had my number of servings, I could multiply the recipe to make the number of desired sandwiches that I needed.

The night before, prepare the veggies.  My OXO mandoline slicer quickly and perfectly cut my tomatoes.



I wondered if it would work on the green onions.  It did!  Just be very, very, careful not to cut yourself.  It is sharp and I am not using the guard....


Can you prepare lettuce the night before?  Yes!  Only if you do not use a metal knife (it will cause your lettuce to turn brown) and you rinse and dry it really, really well.  My OXO salad spinner does a great job of drying ~ just don't overload it with a large batch of lettuce.


The traditional mustard and mayo, which can soak into the bread and make it soggy, is replaced with this yummy "spread." This, too, can be made the night before.

Simply mix in softened cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, mayo, and Worcestershire sauce.


The next day, begin by cutting your bread length-wise almost all the way through.  The sandwich stays together better if it is not totally cut in half.

Using a rubber spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture in a single layer on one half of the bread.  Layer your meats, (I chose ham and turkey) tomato, and pickles on the other half.  Stuff generously with shredded lettuce. 

Wrap the entire sandwich in plastic wrap to hold it together and place in the fridge for no more than 2 hours.

Slice just before serving and enjoy!


Deli Sandwiches for a Crowd
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)

8/22/11

10 Pull Out Cabinet Shelves!

Dang.

I'm getting old. 

Kneel down.  Take pans out.  Grab the needed pan.  Put other pans back.  Curse.  Repeat.

Ughh.

I got tired of kneeling down on the hard tile floor to get the pan I needed waaaaaay back in the dark recesses of the cabinet ... dubbed ... "the black hole."  

My neighbor showed me what her hubby built ... pull out shelves for her cabinet.  Once she showed them to me,   I drooled.


I convinced sweet-talked my hubby into making them ~ and he did! 

He purchased two sets of full extension drawer glides at Home Depot that would support 100 pounds each, strong enough to accommodate my heavy cast iron dutch oven.

One drawer glide is attached to a "spacer," then attached to the inside cabinet wall.

The spacer allows for the drawers to be pulled without hitting the cabinet doors.  He used two stacks of quarters to raise the glide to the desired height.


After building the roll-out shelf, he attached the other set of glides.  Notice the notch at the back of the shelf ... That is where my gas line is, leading up to the cook top above.


He made sure the bottom shelf was completed first and asked me for my tallest appliance ... the electric pressure cooker ... then measured for the placement of the top roll out shelf.


The full extension glides allow me to pull out the shelf all the way ... no more black holes!


*sigh*

Thank you, sweetie!

8/19/11

1 Lemon Water


This is not your typical lemonade.  I call it "Lemon Water" although it is slightly sweet.  Other bloggers have called it "Citrus Water Punch."  Whatever it is called, it is GOOD

This is a light, refreshing, drink that is slightly sweet with lemony notes, and with just a mild tang.  It is so easy to whip up in this clear beverage dispenser, usually found at Costco or Sam's Club.

The lemon slices were quickly and easily sliced on my OXO mandoline, which not only adds a pretty touch, but some additional lemon flavor.

All you need is this recipe, Pure Lemon extract, citric acid, sugar (or Splenda) and water.

If you have any of this yummy lemon water left over, be sure to remove the lemon slices before storing in the refrigerator, as it will turn the drink bitter.

I've made this with pure orange extract with great results ~

Enjoy some last moments of summer with this refreshing drink!



Other bloggers sharing this recipe:

Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Cupcake Diaries

My Favorite Recipes

Taste and Tell

8/17/11

11 Caramel Apple Crumb Pie



Imagine.  It's fall and the scent of crisp apples are in the air.  Take a look at this pie.  Is it a pie?  A crisp?  A caramel apple?  Actually, its all three!

You don't have to wait until fall to enjoy this amazing pie.

Baking an apple pie begins with the right kind of apple.  I choose Granny Smith for their tartness, knowing that the toppings for this pie would be ultra sweet.

You can use any combination of Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala, or Golden Delicious apples.


The apples are peeled and cut ...  If you have one of those handy dandy apple peeler/slicer/corer machines, pull it out!


After using my apple corer/slicer, I continued to slice 'em thin ~ each apple was cut into about 32 slices each.


In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  The apple slices are added and mixed gently until well coated.

The mixture is PILED high on a pre-baked pie crust.  The crust is baked for 8-10 minutes instead of the full 20 minutes.  This prevents "mushiness" of the crust.

The apples will cook down a bit.  Smoosh it down gently.


Make the crumb topping with brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, and cold butter slices.  A pastry blender mixes this in really well.  Use a fork if you don't have a pastry blender.  Don't use an electric mixer or it will turn into a paste.

This is what you want ...  little chunks of butter are o.k.


Pile it on top of the apple slices and smoosh it down.

Refrain from nibbling.

Use a foil "shield" to prevent your crust from darkening.

Good thing I put the pie on a baking sheet!


Remove the foil and place on a cooling rack.


Remember that Quick N Easy Caramel Sauce?  It has thickened nicely in the fridge and drizzles effortlessly ...


Where's the ice cream?


Caramel Apple Crumb Pie
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)

Easy Caramel Sauce
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)



8/15/11

3 Easy Caramel Sauce


I needed a quick, easy caramel sauce for a special dessert.  This is not a true caramel, like in David Lebovitz's Salted Butter ice cream recipe, but I didn't want to burn my finger.

With four simple ingredients and five minutes, it couldn't be easier.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Do not substitute with margarine.
You must use butter.

Add brown sugar.


Whisk until combined and thickened; about two minutes.  Take off the heat.

Whisk in the whipping cream, until fully blended ~ about 2 more minutes.

Mix in vanilla and you are done!  

Well.  

Almost.  

The sauce is very runny, but will thicken up nicely in the fridge overnight.

Use this creamy, buttery sauce over your favorite dessert or ice cream.

Or simply stick a spoon in the jar and enjoy it straight up...

Simply irresistible .... addictive ...  so good!


Stay tuned for my next post ~ a yummy dessert that has this caramel sauce drizzled on top...

Quick N Easy Caramel Sauce

8/12/11

7 Smoked Jalapeno Poppers!


Each time we smoke pork to shred for BBQ sandwiches, my hubby loves to throw in a few jalapeno poppers.  I was surprised how quickly these disappeared during our last family gathering!

The recipe is quite simple.  Half and seed a jalapeno pepper, and fill it with cream cheese.

Top it with some cooked, smoked, shredded pork and wrap it in a 1/2 slice of bacon.

Secure with a toothpick.


Then place 'em in the smoker for hmmmm....hubby is not sure how long.

Thirty minutes?  Forty minutes?

If you don't have a smoker, you can use the foil packet method, on your grill, which works well for this recipe.



His method:  cook till it looks done.  Translation:  till bacon is brown and crispy.


Whadaya think?  Good, 'eh? 

Are you grillin’ bold this Memorial Day? Bush’s has the beans for it. These smoked jalapeno poppers are great with Bush's Smokehouse Tradition Grillin' Beans, so make it a meal! Come join the cookout with Cookin’ Canuck and Hoosier Homemade sponsored by Bush’s Grillin’ Beans!

8/10/11

7 Cool Lime Squares

This is a cool, refreshing, citrus-y summer dessert that is so simple and easy to make.  In fact, I've made it three times already this month...

It begins with crushed/pulsed animal crackers, believe it or not.  I guarantee that it'll bring out the kid in you.


The crackers are blended with a little bit of brown sugar, melted butter, and pressed into a square baking pan with a "sling."  Ever notice that it is difficult to get the first brownie out of a pan?  Next time, try a "sling." Folded foil is pressed into the pan and lightly greased, making it easier to pull out the dessert and cut them into squares.


The crust is baked and cooled while you make the filling.  I used regular limes for this recipe ... the thought of juicing itty bitty key limes was daunting enough.  Whatever you do, DO NOT use bottled lime juice.  Fresh is always better ~

First, a lime is zested (avoid the bitter white pith!) and chopped even finer.  Then it is mixed in with softened cream cheese.  Then a can of sweetened condensed milk is added ...


Everything is whisked together and poured onto the baked crust.  Once cooled, this is only chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours.

You can see how easily this is pulled out from the pan.  You do need to run a knife along the side that does not have foil first.  Then you can grab the excess foil on either side and pulling it straight up.

I've cut this into 16 equal pieces and have even cut it into 36 bite sized pieces.  Sprinkled toasted coconut is optional, which adds textural interest and tames the lime flavor for those who find it too intense.


I've made this with an animal cracker crust and a pretzel crust.  Both were good, although the pretzel crust could have used a wee bit more sugar.  Doesn't hurt to experiment!  This recipe can be doubled and put into a 9x13 pan.  Sweet!


Lime Squares
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)

8/8/11

4 Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad


I love a salad as a main dish, especially when it includes chicken.  This chicken really adds flavor to this typical Caesar salad because...

The chicken is marinated in Caesar Salad dressing!


I use my FoodSaver to marinate all my meats as the vacuum process expands the meat fibers, allowing the marinade to seep into the meat more quickly ~ shortening the 4-8 hour marinating process into 30 minutes or less.  Of course you can marinate this in a plastic Ziploc baggie (set in a dish) in your fridge.

The grill is turned on high, with the lid closed, to heat up any old crusty bits ...  then I use the grill brush to scrape off any remaining bits.


Fold up a clean paper towel and dip it in veg or canola oil and brush your clean grill with it.  It may smoke a little, but this important step will keep your meat from sticking to the grill!

Of course, if you happen to have an onion around, use this tip to oil your grill ~


I keep my grill on high and cook the chicken for a total of 20-25 minutes, turning it over every 5 minutes to grill evenly.  You can see that the grill is hotter on the left side of the meat than on the right...time to move the chicken over to the left ~


Cover the chicken with foil or another plate for 5-10 minutes to allow the chicken to continue cooking and the juices to be distributed evenly throughout the meat.


Slice up the chicken and serve it hot or cold with your Caesar Salad. 

Hmmmm... this is so good!

Don't forget to add buttery croutons and extra Parmesan cheese ...


Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)
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