Slow Cooker Tennessee-Style Potatoes

Slow cooker Tennessee-style potatoes have quickly become one of my favorite side dishes to make. You start with your pretty-much-standard mashed potatoes, except you boil the potatoes in a flavor mix of chicken bouillon and garlic-infused water. Then you transfer them to the slow cooker where they get even creamier and even smoother. Perfect for a cold day. Perfect for a potluck or family get-together. The potatoes may seem like the usual, but cooking them in the flavored water really makes for a different, richer flavor.
Be sure you don’t throw out the water used to boil the potatoes when they are done. Reserve a cup or so in case the slow cooker Tennessee-style potatoes get a bit thick while cooking. If that happens don’t add a lot of the water .Just add a bit, stir, and see if they’re creamy enough. If not, add a bit more.

5 from 1 reviews
Slow Cooker Tennessee-Style Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cubes chicken bouillon (I used 3 teaspoons chicken base instead)
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the potatoes, garlic and bouillon and cut until the potatoes are tender but still slightly firm, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes, reserving 1-2 cups of the boiling liquid.
  4. Return the potatoes to the pot.
  5. Add the sour cream and cream cheese and mash until smooth, adding boiling liquid if too thick.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a slow cooker.
  7. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
  8. Stir in the butter. Melt, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Spicy White Chicken Chili

Whew, oh boy! This isn’t some boring, barely-seasoned, overly-tame, put-you-to-sleep white chicken chili, no sir! You pretty much open your pantry and grab everything in it that is spicy and throw it in a pot with some chicken, some beans, some roasted peppers, and some broth. Done!
I really enjoyed the smokiness of this spicy white chicken chili. There are so many different flavors coming together in every spoonful. I’m thinking you could easily make this a beef chili by substituting cooked crumbled ground beef (or small pieces of chuck) along with beef broth. Or you can easily go the turkey route, using crumbled cooked ground turkey.

Spicy White Chicken Chili
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin (optional, or use less if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 poblanos, roasted, stems and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, roasted, stems and seeds removed, minced
  • 2 cans chopped roasted green chiles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  • Your favorite toppings (shredded cheese, tortilla strips, sour cream, etc)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in large Dutch or pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add cumin, chili powder, cayenne, chipotle powder and salt and pepper and stir.
  5. Add roasted poblanos, roasted jalapeno, green chiles, cilantro, 3 1/2 cups of the chicken broth, chicken, lime zest and juice.
  6. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook 30 minutes.
  7. Add the beans and cook another 15 minutes, adding more broth if necessary.
  8. Serve with desired toppings.

Homemade Fire Starter Cubes

I’ve been using Weber’s FireStarters lighter cubes for years. They’re fantastic for getting a chimney or Vortex full of charcoal going in no time. At less than $0.15 a piece they’re an inexpensive way to get a fire going. But, I decided to see if I could make my own versions of the cubes. What I ended up with light very, very well and burn for a good amount of time. The final cost was less than $0.10 for each cube, not exactly a huge savings, but that was only part of my reason for the pursuit.

You need just 4 things to make these cubes.

5 from 1 reviews
Homemade Fire Starter Cubes
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Wood chips (I found a big bag of alder wood chips on the clearance rack for $1. You can also substitute hamster cage liner from what I've heard)
  • 1 pound Household paraffin wax
  • 4 cardboard egg cartons (do NOT use Styrofoam cartons)
  • A small crock pot or double boiler
Instructions
  1. Place the wax in the crock pot or double boiler over slowly boiling water until melted.
  2. Separate the bottom of the egg cartons and discard the tops.
  3. Fill each egg cavity with the wood chips. I started by only filling them 1/4th of the way through but later found that you can fill them completely.
  4. Add the wax until the cavity is full.
  5. Let cool overnight before cutting into individual cubes.
  6. To light, place under a chimney full of charcoal, open-side up (so that the melting wax doesn't drip down) and light with a match or lighter.

They don’t have to be perfect. Just fill them with wood, add the wax, and let cool. They burn for about 7 minutes, more than enough to light charcoal.

KFC Roasted Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Wow, such great flavor in every bite! The seasoning on the chicken I roasted in the Big Easy was fantastic, nicely herby. It’s a copycat of the roasted chicken Kentucky Fried Chicken used to have on the menu years ago. KFC dropped the idea, but now you can have that great taste at home. I believe KFC removed the skin from the chicken. I’ll leave the decision to do that or not to you.
I admit, I’m often pretty heavy-handed with seasonings, specially when it comes to chicken. I find that chicken needs all the flavor help it can get. This KFC roasted chicken seasoning clone is so good I put on a little extra. It would also be fantastic on a turkey cooked in the Char-Broil Big Easy.

KFC came out with roasted chicken to compete with Boston Market. Check out my copycat of Boston Market’s Tuscan herb chicken, also made on the Char-Broil Big Easy.

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

5 from 1 reviews
KFC Roasted Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 4 bone-in split chicken breasts (or whatever cuts you prefer)
For the spice mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Instructions
  1. Fire up your Big Easy.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.
  3. Combine the spice mix ingredients.
  4. Apply the seasoning and transfer the chicken to the Big Easy basket.
  5. Cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound or until it reaches 165 F as checked in several places.
  6. Remove the Big Easy basket and carefully brush the chicken with the sauce. Return the basket
  7. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Quick Fix Seasoned Tater Tots

Ya know, it just doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. I’m a big time tater tot addict. I have been since I was a kid and I remain so to this day. Back then all I needed was butter on my tots. Yep, butter. Now, I want a little more flavor, but without going crazy. So I just grab some seasoning mix out of the pantry, do a little sprinkle or two (or three) and it’s time for more grown-up tater tots.
seasoned-tater-totsSome day I will tackle making my own tater tots from scratch. They’re really not that difficult to make, from what I can tell. Why have I waited so long to try it? Well, I have to say, I’ve been having frozen tots for many, many years, and I sure would hate to mess with tradition. There’s a lot of memories in those bags of potatoes.

5 from 1 reviews
Seasoned Tater Tots
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10 servings
 
Ingredients
Seasoning (pick one)
Instructions
  1. Bake the tater tots per package instructions.
  2. Transfer tots to a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle with the desired seasoning and gently toss to coat.
  4. Transfer tots to a serving plate and serve.

Chicken Wing Cookbook Updated!

Woo hoo! Just in time for the Super Bowl! I just wrapped up the total re-design of the Life’s A Tomato new free eCookbook of chicken wing recipes. It’s packed with over 50 recipes for the Char-Broil Big Easy, grill, smoker, deep fryer or oven! Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find:

Harissa chicken wings
Enchilada chicken wings
Angry chicken wings
Buffalo chicken wings using the Vortex
Fiery Catalina wings

To download the new chicken wing cookbook, just click Our Free eCookbooks in the menu on the right.

New Chicken Wing Cookbook

Spicy Jalapeno Ground Beef Jerky on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro

I have been loving making jerky on my Nesco Snackmaster Pro. I’ve been using ground top round for my ground beef jerky, but any lean ground meat will work. This spicy jalapeno ground beef jerky is right up my alley: a nice kick, but not overwhelming. I’m a big fan of spicy jerky, and though the heat here isn’t high, it’s there just enough to really enjoy. And share. The jerky has the perfect ‘bite’, just a little tug.

Spicy Jalapeno Ground Beef Jerky on the Nesco Snackmaster ProMake sure you rotate your trays every 2 hours or so. The bottom trays in the Nesco Snackmaster Pro will not dry as quickly as those on top. Rotating the trays will give you nice, even drying and perfect jerky on every level.

Check out my guide to using the Nesco Snackmaster Pro. You will be making fantastic jerky at home in no time at all!

5 from 1 reviews
Sweet BBQ Ground Beef Jerky on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro
Author: 
Recipe type: Dehydrator
Cuisine: Jerky
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1/2 pound
 
This recipe is for starting with 1 pound of meat. You'll end up with about 1/2 pound in the end. You can easily double/triple/etc this recipe for large quantities of meat, however 5-6 pounds is about all you can fit onto a Nescao Snackmaster Pro fitted with 12 trays (the unit comes with 5).
Ingredients
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Eastman Outdoors Spicy Jalapeno Jerky Seasoning, see my note below
  • 1 teaspoon curing salt (Comes with the seasoning. Optional if you're going to refrigerate the finished product)
  • 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. NOTE: The package for the Eastman Outdoors jerky seasoning states that it makes up to 5 pounds of jerky. I personally feel that the flavor is too mellow, so I use just about an entire package for 1 pound of jerky. I end up with a little left over seasoning, which I store in a labelled air-tight container. I'll eventually mix it with more seasoning. I think I can get 3 pounds of well-seasoning jerky out of two packages of Eastman Outdoors mix.
  2. Place beef in a resealable bag or container.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the seasoning, curing salt and water. Pour over the meat and seal. Shake to coat.
  4. Refrigerate the meat for up to 8 hours, shaking or massaging every hour or so to get the marinade distributed and absorbed evenly.
  5. Remove meat from the marinade and add to a jerky gun. Squeeze out onto Nesco trays. Do not overlap meat.
  6. Add the dehydrator top, set to maximum temperature setting and dehydrate for 5 hours, rotating the trays (bottom to top) every 2 hours or so.
  7. To test for doneness remove a piece and let cool slightly. Try to bend the meat. If it gives and starts to tear at the bend it is done. If it bends without tearing return to the dehydrator and let it run another 15 minutes and test again. If the meat is crunchy it is overdone but still good. It's really a personal preference as to how you like your jerky. Soft, chewy, crunchy. There's no wrong here.
  8. Let cool before storing in an airtight container.

Copycat Ruby Tuesday Croutons

Going to the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday is a treat for us. Luckily, there’s a Ruby Tuesday right down the street from our house. They always keep the salad bar super-duper cold and super-duper stocked. Never have I gone up with my plate and said “oh no! there’s only one pea left!” (I love peas on a salad). When I get to the end of the salad bar, I find my two favorite things: Ranch dressing and pumpernickel croutons. Now, there’s an art and an order to putting them on your salad, mind you. You do NOT put the dressing on first. I used to think you had to to keep the croutons from sliding off. No, the croutons go first, and lots of them. Make sure you kinda wedge them in any nooks and crannies so they don’t fall off. Then drizzle with the dressing, getting half of the croutons nice and Ranchy while leaving the rest naked. Trust me on this. Do it next time you hit up the Ruby Tuesday salad bar.
I used a fresh loaf of pumpernickel bread when I made copycat Ruby Tuesday croutons. Fresh bread takes longer to bake but I think it makes for a better duplicate of the original: a little crunch but mostly soft and tender crouton. You do not want a hard, dry crouton that bursts into a billion pieces when you bite into it. If you do use older or stale bread, keep an eye on them while baking because they won’t take as long.

5 from 1 reviews
Copycat Ruby Tuesday Croutons
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups pumpernickel bread cubes (cut into 1/2" cubes)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a bit more
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Place breadcrumbs into a large bowl.
  3. Place butter into a small bowl. Stir in the garlic powder and salt.
  4. Pour butter mixture over breadcrumbs and toss gently to coat.
  5. Pour bread out onto a large baking sheet (or two) and spread out evenly.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes and check for crispness. Bake longer if needed, but check every minute or so.
  7. Remove and let cool before using. Sprinkle with more salt if desired.