Although making jerky with my Nesco Snackmaster Pro is something I really enjoy, the other main reason I bought a dehydrator is to dry the herbs from my garden. Fresh herbs don’t last long, so I dry as many as I can and keep them in air-right containers in the pantry like this cilantro. Easy as anything to dry, cilantro crumbles up and stores easily for use in the winter. It’s not a substitute for fresh cilantro in recipes like salsa, but it’s great for flavoring stews and soups. I did not remove the cilantro from the stems until after I dried it. It’s a lot easier to remove the leaves once they are dried. I then lightly crumbled them just a bit and put them in containers for use later.
One thing is guaranteed. Put a bean salad in front of me, and it’s going to disappear. For me, it doesn’t get any better or easier. The perfect contrast in textures and flavors. A little sweet. A little tang. There are hundreds of variations on bean salad, and I am pretty sure I’ve made and enjoyed them all. This tangy bean salad is no exception. Made in no time, but better after it gets happy in the fridge for a few hours first. Like with any good ole bean salad you can change this tangy bean salad up to suit your tastes. I little slices fresh jalapeno is great if you like a little kick. Roasted red bell pepper instead of green bell pepper is also a nice change.
Perhaps ‘carrot candy’ would be a better name for these maple bacon carrots, done up right using the Char-Broil Big Easy. Who knew that carrots could be so addictingly good? Slightly sweet, slightly smoky with a little crispy bacon, these treats disappeared in no time. Fortunately you can fit up to two bunk bed baskets into a Big Easy so you can actually make a pretty good sized batch at once. You’ll want to make as many as you can. I used baby carrots, but you can also use full-sized carrots. Try to pick ones that are all roughly the same size or your cook times will vary. That’s why I went with the baby version. They’re all roughly the same size so they all got done at the same time.
For a little kick, sprinkle the carrots with a little bit of cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper powder just before serving.
Carrots (baby carrots or equally-sized big carrots, peeled and cut down to fit into a Big Easy)
Thin-sliced bacon (cut into thirds for baby carrots, use full-sized pieces if using large carrots)
Freshly ground black pepper
Maple syrup (use the Grade A real stuff, not the fake syrup)
Fire up your Big Easy.
Wrap carrots in bacon and sprinkle with pepper.
Transfer carrots to the Big Easy basket, bacon seam side down.
Place into the Big Easy and cook until the bacon starts to brown and shrink and the larger of the carrots is slightly tender, 25-30 minutes. I lifted the basket out and poked them with a long bamboo skewer.
Brush the carrots with maple syrup. I use a long brush for this. Just lift the basket up, holding it with one hand, and brush with the other. Return to the cooker and cook another 3 minutes.
Remove the basket from the Big Easy and remove the carrots to a platter to cool a bit. The bacon will crisp while they cool.
Anita and I recently spent a few days at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa. We had such a wonderful time there. One of the biggest highlights was the buffet. Normally when you think buffet you think low quality food, mostly pre-made. Oh that’s definitely not the case at the DreamMore. Everything was made from scratch and everything was out-of-this-world delicious. One of the things I loved the most, interestingly enough, was the house-made dill Ranch salad dressing. It was delicious. I could’ve just drank it out of the bottle. I knew instantly that I had to make some when I got home. Now, this version is mighty good, too, but I’m pretty sure that the DreamMore version used fresh herbs (they had a nice herb garden right outside of the restaurant). Even still, this is delicious and a perfect alternative to ‘normal’ Ranch. Do not be tempted to rush the 1 hour rest time that this dressing needs. Those dry herbs need time to make the dressing happy. I really love dill so I added a bit more than the recipe calls for.
A lot of restaurant signature sauces start with simple, off-the-shelf ingredients. A restaurant near us starts with BBQ sauce and Ranch, just like with this quick fix BBQ Ranch dressing, and then adds a few other ingredients (such as crumbled cooked bacon) to make it different for different dishes, such as for dipping onion rings or chicken wings. This quick fix BBQ dressing isn’t just for salads, that’s for sure. I squirted it on a big plate of French fries. I dipped grilled chicken wings in it. Just make sure you start with good, quality BBQ sauce and Ranch dressing. And don’t hesitate to use a spicy BBQ sauce, or one with a bit of smoky flavor to it.
I’ve been a huge fan of Cajun Power garlic sauce for years. It is one of the star components of Fat Johnny’s Kaw-Cajun Comeback sauce, a remoulade sauce that is the bomb on just about anything you can think of. I seriously don’t know why I waited so long to use it as both a chicken wing marinade and sauce. I loved these wings. Seasoned perfectly. A little garlicky. Nice and rich and super yummy. You can’t put enough Cajun Power garlic sauce on your cooked wings. I’ve tried and it’s not possible. It’s also great for dipping wings instead of your usual cooling dips like blue cheese or ranch dressing.
Corn is in season and that’s a happy time for me. And as much as I love grilled corn-on-the-cob, corn in salads is tied for my favorite way to get some good fresh corn into my belly. Like this jalapeno popper grilled corn salad. Creamy dressing. Crunchy bacon. Deliciously sweet corn. And a little heat. This is the perfect side dish for a grill-out or picnic. We’re getting our corn from the southern US now, but soon they’ll be harvesting corn here in Indiana. Almost time for my yearly ritual of putting up corn for the winter. I race on down to our local farmer’s market, Binford Farmer’s Market, and load up on corn as soon as it’s available. And I do mean load up. My favorite? My Dad’s Sweet Corn from Tipton, Indiana. Hand-picked and incredibly sweet, they always have great corn.
We devoured these BBQ Island Club sandwiches like I devoured the Margaritaville: The Cookbook where I found the recipe that inspired them. There’s nothing wrong with your standard good ole club sandwich. And these are your standard good ole club sandwiches… but with a twist. The dressing mix, as easy as it is, sets them apart. I made a big batch of the dressing and BBQ sauce mix for these BBQ Island Club sandwiches and kept it on hand for burgers and sandwiches. It’s a nice change and is also absolutely fantastic on a Reuben or pastrami sandwich.