Garlic Shrimp Packets

This is the easiest way to cook a big batch of great shrimp quick. Perfectly garlicky, with a little red pepper kick.
Garlic Shrimp PacketsI made extra shrimp and had them the next day as shrimp cocktail. Fantastic! I could’ve eaten them all day long. And if you’re looking for a kicked-up cocktail sauce, we recommend the Bayou Cocktail Cajun Sauce from Frog Bone. It’s crazy good and spicy.

The perfect bread for sopping up the delicious yum-yum juice that pools at the bottom of the foil packet is our favorite gotta-have-it garlic bread.

Garlic Shrimp Packets
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced (plus additional lemon wedges for serving, if desired)
  • Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound large unpeeled shrimp
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine the butter, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper and salt and pepper.
  2. Add shrimp and toss well.
  3. Divide shrimp mixture between two foil packets.
  4. Fold over and close.
  5. Place over direct heat on a lit grill and cook for 8 minutes.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

 

Cheater Pastrami

I love the week around St. Patrick’s Day. Not because I’m Irish or love the color green. No, it’s because corned beef briskets go on sale. And every year, I buy a big load of them and make cheater pastrami on my smoker. The end result is tender and very flavorful. Perfect for sandwiches. Almost beyond perfect.
Cheater PastramiSo why is this approach called ‘cheating’? Well, real pastrami takes a long time to make. You don’t start with a corned beef brisket out of the grocer’s fridge. I’ve had the most amazing pastrami in New York City. Here in Indianapolis, the closest I’ve found is at Shapiro’s Delicatessen (though I’ve heard that Fat Dan’s Deli is also great). This cheater version isn’t as good, of course, but it’s actually quite fantastic. All my neighbors will back me up on that.

I start out by rubbing corned beef in a mix of mustard, all spice, coriander and a lot of cracked pepper.

Cheater PastramiThe meat gets wrapped and goes into the fridge overnight to get ‘happy’.

Cheater PastramiThen onto the smoker at 225 F for about 8 hours or until the internal temperatures reach 195-205 F. Let them rest then slice then and enjoy!

Cheater PastramiThis recipe is a combination of a recipe I found on Patio Daddio and the technique on my favorite Weber Smoky-Mountain-related site, the Virtual Weber Bullet.

Cheater Pastrami
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pastrami
 
Ingredients
  • 1 corned beef brisket (try to get a flat, one that is consistent in thickness)
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly coarse-ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Note: I buy coriander seeds and whole peppercorns from the local GFS store and grind them using an old blade-style coffee grinder. Make sure you keep the grind a little coarse. You can also use a mortar and pestle.
  2. Rinse and dry the corned beef.
  3. Whisk together the mustard, brown sugar, coriander and allspice. Rub the mixture all over the brisket, then cover completely with the ground pepper. Place in a large resealable bag or wrap tightly in foil and keep in the fridge overnight.
  4. The next day, fire up your smoker for 225-250 F. Place a chunk or two of light fruit wood in the smoker (I used cherry). Cook the brisket for at least 8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 195 - 205 F.
  5. Remove, wrap in foil, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain using a meat slicer or sharp knife. Serve.

Cajun Grilled Baby Veggies

I consider these Cajun grilled baby veggies to be the perfect side dish. They take absolutely no time to throw together and they taste fantastic. Just about any vegetable can be used, just make sure that all of them are roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
Cajun Grilled Baby VeggiesWeber makes a great vegetable basket for the grill. It heats up fast and evenly and is the perfect basket for making these grilled vegetables.

Cajun Grilled Baby Veggies
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup fingerling potatoes
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup white pearl onions
  • 1 cup whole mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • Creole seasoning (I used our homemade Cajun mix)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley. chopped
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for direct cooking.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook until just barely tender.
  4. Add the remaining vegetables except for the mushrooms and boil another minute.
  5. Transfer to an ice bath to stop the vegetables from cooking.
  6. Put all vegetables (including the mushrooms) in a bowl.
  7. Drizzle with a bit of oil and add seasoning to taste.
  8. Place veggies in grill basket and grill for 15-20 minutes until tender, flipping every 5 minutes.
  9. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Derby Dog

I’m borderline addicted to food trucks. Which also means I love watching Eat Street, the show about food trucks that airs on the Cooking Channel. Host James Cunningham travels around North America visiting all of the great trucks. What a dream job that would be.
Derby DogAn episode aired the other day on Dougie Doug, a truck in Vancouver. Every hot dog on the menu looked absolutely scrumptious, so I decided to make a few of them here at home. I started with the delicious Derby Dog. Topped with Swiss, grilled mushrooms, onion, jalapeno and BBQ sauce, this is one mighty fine dog.

A great dog needs a great bun, so I’ve ditched the grocery store offerings and have been ordering fresh buns from our local bakery, Taylor’s Bakery. The buns are so fantastic. Soft, tasty, with a wonderful bread aroma. They barely cost more than the ones in the store that just can’t even compare at all in quality or flavor.

Derby Dog
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 4 hot dogs or sausages
  • 4 hot dog buns
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup white or sweet onion, chopped
  • Diced pickled jalapeno, to taste
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
Instructions
  1. Cook dogs as desired. Since you're going to also grill the mushrooms, might as well grill the dogs too!
  2. Warm buns.
  3. Grill mushrooms until starting to get tender.
  4. Serve dogs on buns. Top with mushrooms and cheese. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts.
  5. Add onion, jalapeno and BBQ sauce.

 

Homemade Applewood-Smoked Maple Bacon

Making bacon has been on my to-do list for a while now. I was able to find some nice pork belly in the butcher case, so I grabbed a few pounds and set off on making this homemade applewood-smoked maple bacon.

The end result was absolutely great. This is easily the best bacon I’ve ever had. There’s a hint of maple, a hint of smoke, and great texture and flavor. Outstandingly good and so easy that I will always make bacon from here on any time that I have my smoker going.
Homemade Applewood-Smoked Maple BaconPrice-wise, this bacon is also cheaper than store bought (well, depending on the maple syrup that you use), and you can slice it any way that you like, from super thick to wafer thin. I think I paid about $1.99/pound for the pork. I did have to remove the skin (which I saved for making cracklins at a later time). That took a little effort. If you get your pork belly from a butcher you might want to ask to have the skin removed for you.

Homemade Applewood-Smoked Maple Bacon
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pound pork belly, skin removed (save for making cracklins). Choose a belly that is consistent in thickness so that it cooks evenly.
  • 3 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Curing Salt #1 (see link below if you can't find it locally. DO NOT substitute any other kind of salt)
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons real maple syrup (I used Grade A, the expensive stuff. You can use Grade B if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
Instructions
  1. Put the belly into a large resealable bag.
  2. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Add to the baggie.
  3. Seal the bag, trying to remove as much air as possible. Place in to a deep flat pan (in case the bag leaks) in the fridge for 7 days, flipping over twice a day.
  4. The day you are ready to smoke, fire up your smoker for 225 F cooking over a light wood such as apple.
  5. Remove belly from the bag and rinse well with cold water.
  6. Place belly onto smoker and smoke for 1 1/2-2 hours or until the meat reaches 150 F.
  7. Remove belly from smoker and let cool slightly before placing in the fridge for an hour.
  8. Slice bacon as desired. Bake, pan fry, or use however you wish!
  9. Store smoked bacon in a plastic bag or container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Cedar-Planked Beef Sliders

Grilling salmon on cedar planks is a pretty common thing. I’m not sure why I never thought about cooking burgers on them too, though. Bobby Flay thought about it. That means I had to make them too.

The cedar adds just a bit of a twist to the burgers. They smell absolutely fantastic when cooking. The cedar flavor in the meat isn’t overwhelming. It’s there, though. It’s definitely something different and it adds a bit of a ‘wow’ factor to your cookout.
Cedar-Planked Beef SlidersI also browned my slider buns over the cedar for a little extra cedar flavor.
Cedar-Planked Beef SlidersI served these burgers with oven-baked fries and Crispers that were tossed in garlic oil and fresh choppy parsley.

Cedar-Planked Beef Sliders
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cedar plank
  • 4 3 ounce beef patties (I use a Weber slider press to make perfect 2 or 3 ounce sliders)
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese, cut into 4 equally sized squares
  • 4 slider buns
  • 2 tablespoons or more Nancy's Special Burger sauce
  • Salt, pepper and olive oil
Instructions
  1. Soak the cedar plank in water for 2 hours.
  2. Fire up your grill for direct and indirect cooking.
  3. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  4. Place plank over direct heat for 2 minutes. Flip and heat another 2 minutes. Brush top of plank with olive oil and place over indirect heat.
  5. Place burgers over direct heat and cook for 3 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 minutes.
  6. Transfer burgers to plank. Add cheese and cook until done, about 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile toast the buns as desired. (I browned them on the plank)
  8. Slather buns with burger sauce. Add patties and serve.

Buffalo Wild Wings Teriyaki Wings

Oh sure, I love spicy, hot chicken wings. But I’m also a big fan of more savory wings. In fact, the teriyaki wings at Buffalo Wild Wings are Anita and my favorite. We always order them (though Anita often opts for the boneless wings while I go for the bone-in versions).
Buffalo Wild Wings Teriyaki WingsBuffalo Wild Wings (of course) sells their sauces in their stores. They’re quite reasonably priced, and when you order 3 (or in my case, a lot more than 3) you can get them in this fancy carrying box. I think all of their flavors are available to go, except the current ‘special’ sauce, which is unfortunate because the flavor-of-the-month not too long ago was a crazy good chipotle cherry sting sauce. I’d drink that stuff with a straw.

Buffalo Wild Wings Sauces 1These wings came out perfectly crunchy and covered in just enough teriyaki sauce. They disappeared very quickly.

Buffalo Wild Wings Teriyaki Wings
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3-4 pounds chicken wings, separated
  • Oil, for frying
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Teriyaki sauce
Instructions
  1. Combine flour, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika in bowl. Divide in half and reserve one half of the mixture.
  2. Coat chicken pieces in half of the mixture mixture and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Coat chicken in leftover flour mixture. Shake off any excess.
  4. Working in batches, cook wings using the Deep Fryer method.
  5. Place wings in a large bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of sauce and toss gently to coat. Serve.

 

Marinated Vegetable Salad

I’m a big fan of vinegar-based vegetable salads. They’re easy to make and great tasting. I like mine to have a little crunch in them.

Of course, fresh produce is a bit pricey in the off-season and I try to avoid buying much of it. That’s why I like this version which uses a few frozen vegetables.
Marinated Vegetable SaladYou can leave out the red bell pepper, or substitute jarred roasted red bell pepper. And frozen (but then thawed) pearl onions could be substituted for the sweet onion.

Marinated Vegetable Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound frozen cut green beans, defrosted and drained
  • 1 pound frozen green peas, defrosted and drained
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 (2-ounce) jar chopped pimientos, undrained
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
Instructions
  1. Add the vinegar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the sugar until dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the oil and salt. Let cool completely.
  3. Place beans, peas, celery, pimentos, onions, and bell pepper to a large bowl.
  4. Pour the vinegar mixture over top of the vegetables.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  6. Serve cold.

 

20-Minute Mac-and-Cheese

Yes, I used to make macaroni and cheese from a box. That was long ago. Now I usually make a totally different take on mac-and-cheese, like my favorite, fire eater chicken macaroni and cheese. But sometimes I just don’t have the time (or ingredients). That’s when this 20-minute version comes in real handy. Like the name says, it doesn’t take long to make and it comes out just as ooey and gooey as you’d expect (and want).

20-Minute Mac-and-CheeseAdd a couple pinches of cayenne if you want a little kick in your mac.

20-Minute Mac-and-Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pasta (I used elbow)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (half-and-half also works well)
  • 1 ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup extra sharp shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2-4 slices American cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat cream in a large skillet.
  3. Add cream cheese and salt and stir until cheese is melted.
  4. Add cheddar and American cheeses and stir until melted.
  5. Add cooked pasta and stir to coat well.
  6. Note: Add a pinch of cayenne for extra kick.
  7. Note: If you want a little crunch, sprinkle the top of the mac with panko breadcrumbs and place under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown. Make sure you use a skillet that can stand the heat, such as a cast iron skillet.