You could’ve just knocked me over with a feather. I don’t usually find myself bragging about a vegetable side dish. Until now. All of the flavors of the vegetables came together perfectly. Smokey bacon, a little garlic and a combination of tastes and textures cooked in almost no time. I’ve made grilled Tuscan vegetables a few times now and sometimes I leave off the Parmesan and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I add a pinch or two of red pepper flake for a little kick and sometimes I don’t. And if I don’t have spinach leaves? Or zucchini? That’s ok. You can substitute just about any vegetable you have on hand, but I always include the artichoke hearts. Always.
Oh how I do love cooking Twinkies on my Char-Broil Big Easy. They’re the world’s easiest dessert. And they can be topped with darn near anything you have in the pantry, fridge or freezer. The Twinkies only take a few minutes to get a nice little crunch on the outside, while the insides get all oooey gooey. I topped my loaded roasted Twinkies with Nutella, marshmallows, whipped cream, toffee and for a hint of healthy, some fresh strawberries. Spreading a bit of Nutella on the Twinkies first gives the remaining ingredients something to hold onto. They don’t slide off and into the pan. Now, I’m not saying that if they did slide off that it’d be the end of world, no, but loaded roasted Twinkies need to be mounded with toppings. The more, the better.
It was not a great day for grilling. I’ve always said that grilling is a passion not a season, but 50 MPH winds and blowing rain can make me rethink that philosophy. I was still jonesin’ for a chili dog so I brought out the slow cooker and satisfied my need for a good dog on a bad weather day. The dogs end up tender and they even absorb some of the great chili flavors. Topped with cheese, onion and jalapeno they hit the spot.
Cooking chili hot dogs in the slow cooker is a really great way to feed a crowd with no fuss whatsoever. You can easily double or triple this recipe if your slow cooker is big enough, ideal for that big game party!
My slow cooker Buffalo chicken is mighty darned good, if I do say so myself. And putting it on a taco is just fantastic. Crunchy taco shell (I use crunchy shells whenever my taco ingredients aren’t crunchy) because I need that contrast between crunchy and well, not crunchy. Spicy, creamy chicken, sweet corn, fantastic avocado and a bit of cilantro. You won’t even realize that these tacos don’t have (or need) cheese on them, but if you’re missing it, just crumble a bit of blue cheese or Gorgonzola cheese over the tops before serving. To give these Buffalo chicken tacos a nice citrus kick, serve them with a few lime wedges for squeezing.
As much as I love blue cheese dressing for dipping my chicken wings, I don’t want it to overwhelm my ‘delicate’ palate that I can’t taste the wings. So, I might’ve been a tad nervous when I cooked up a batch of wings and tossed them in some Moore’s Blue Cheese Buffalo wing sauce. Well, that first bite told me and told me quick that the sauce was about as perfect as you can get. Nice and thick, but not too thick, and packed with blue cheese flavor and a hint of spiciness. But not too much blue cheese flavor and not too much spiciness. Darn good eating, that’s for sure. You can skip the Ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce for wings coated in Moore’s Blue Cheese Buffalo wing sauce. You don’t need anything except the wings, the sauce and a stack of paper towels. Also try Moore’s Creamy Ranch or Teriyaki wings.
I absolutely love chicken wings, cooked any way, with any sauce (or without). I love them so much that I created a free eCookbook that is full of my favorite wing recipes.
My first attempt at making these cheese straws was a learning experience. If the dough mixture is too thick it’s a nightmare to get through a cookie press. If the dough mixture is too thin the straw will flatten out as they bake and you’ll end up with a pan full of sadness. But, I did finally get it just right and oh, man, are these cheese straws more than just a little addicting! Crunchy and packed with cheese flavor you can’t eat just one handful.
I dusted the baked cheese straws with cayenne and smoked paprika, but you could try other flavors too. Italian seasoning for example, for a more savory approach. Or perhaps a little Ranch dressing mix.
I think you could also try other cheeses, specially something like a Monterey Jack or Swiss.
1/2 cup butter plus 1-3 more tablespoons, softened
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place 1/2 cup of the butter in a mixer with the paddle attached.
Add 1 cup of the cheese and mix for 5-7 minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides as it goes.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cayenne, smoked paprika, black pepper and garlic powder.
With the mixer still running, slowly add the flour mixture.
Add the remaining cheese.
Test the consistency of the batter. If it is really thick it might not go thru your cookie press or dessert decorator. If it is too thick, add another tablespoon of the softened butter and mix. Continue until just thin enough to press but not thin and runny.
Spoon mixture into your cookie press with a large star tip on the end.
Pipe out onto the parchment paper.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and dust with cayenne and smoked paprika, then transfer to a cooling rack.
I thought this Cajun stuffed chicken breast came out absolutely fantastic. Pounding the chicken out to a nice consistent thickness was a bit challenging, but I’m sure with more practice I’ll have it down pat. The filling is super-simple, just a few diced and sliced vegetables and a bit of cheese. The stuffed chicken is seasoned with Cajun seasoning, browned quickly on the stovetop, then transferred to the oven to finish cooking. Done and yum! I prefer to use my own Cajun seasoning in this and other recipes. I grind it myself so I get the consistency that I want. For this dish I ground the seasoning very fine.
After smoking peppercorns, the next logical thing to smoke was salt. I love smoked salt, it really adds a nice slightly smokey flavor to dishes. If you have your smoker already fired up for other things, such as pork butt or brisket or ribs, you often have a little space leftover. No point in wasting all that great smoke, just add some sea salt to a pan and place it on the smoker until it starts to darken in color. I actually used a mix of Himalayan pink salt and coarse sea salt. The textures between the two are slightly different, and they brought different colors to the final mix of smoked salts. I keep the smoked salt in an air-right container right by my prep area. I still keep a salt pig nearby for those dishes where I don’t want that addition of smoke in my salt.