Mock Bacon Filets

Anita loves filet mignon. On occasion I will grab an entire beef tenderloin and cut it into filets. But, let’s face it, filets aren’t the cheapest cut of meat. That’s when it’s time to make these mock bacon filets. Mushroom-stuffed patties wrapped in bacon, topped with more mushrooms and a wonderful sauce. And they’re incredibly easy to make.
Mock Bacon FiletsThese mock bacon filets are almost meatloaf-like. I have to say that the sauce is very, very good. So good in fact that we decided (after our first bite) to use it to glaze our next meatloaf. The sauce really compliments the dish perfectly. So perfectly that you won’t miss not having real filets.

Sometimes I got the piggy route and make bacon-wrapped pork medallions instead!

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Mock Bacon Filets

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: American
Cuisine: Main
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the patties

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Toothpicks

For the sauce

  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 4 drops hot sauce
  • Pinch of garlic salt
  • Pinch of dried thyme

Instructions

For the patties

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • Place the bacon on a foil-lined bacon sheet and place into the oven to partially cook the bacon while assembling the patties. You do not want the bacon to get crispy, just slightly done. Remove and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bell pepper, onion, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Form the meat into 8 equally-sized patties.
  • Melt the butter in a medium skillet.
  • Add the mushrooms and saute until soft.
  • Spoon a small amount (do not use them all) of the mushrooms into the center of 4 of the patties.
  • Cover with the other patties and pinch along the edges to seal.
  • Wrap patties with the bacon and secure with toothpicks. Transfer to a shallow pan.
  • Pour sauce over patties and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Garnish with remaining mushrooms and serve.

For the sauce

  • Combine all ingredients.

Country Breakfast Tots

I may have a slight obsession with the show Carnival Eats on the Cooking Channel. Noah Cappe, the host, has the dream job of traveling around sampling yummy and different fair foods. Like these Country Breakfast Tots he discovered at the Tot Spot food truck at the Georgia National Fair. I made them as soon as I saw them on the King Crab and I episode. Just tater tots, bacon, sausage gravy and fried eggs. Well, not “just”. This is the breakfast dreams are made of.
Country Breakfast Tots

Country breakfast tots isn’t your light-and-fru-fru breakfast item. Obviously. This is the kind of dish I craved back in my younger years working on a dairy farm. I needed food and lots of it because each day had me working hard. Come to think of it, I haven’t worked that hard since. Farming ain’t easy.

Also try my Biscuits + Groovy food truck-inspired Donna Summer, a crazy good breakfast dish!

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Country Breakfast Tots

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Mike

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 cups frozen tater tots heated per package instructions
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or more
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 green onions sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble or chop.
  • Working in batches (I assume your skillet can cook 4 eggs at a time. If not, cook only 2-3 at a time), crack an egg into the hot skillet. Let it cook for 30 seconds or until the edges are set. Add another egg and also wait 30 seconds. Continue the same process with 2 more eggs. Slightly tilt the pan and spoon the hot oil over the top of the eggs for another minute. Remove the cooked eggs once each has cooked for a total of 3 minutes. Cook the remaining 4 eggs in the same manner. 
  • Crumble the sausage into the same skillet and cook until done, breaking it up as it cooks. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add the butter to the skillet and melt. Whisk in the flour and cook for another minute.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk until warmed. Return the sausage to the skillet and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve by dividing the tater tots between 4 plates. Top with the bacon, sausage gravy and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with sliced green onions. Serve.

Chet’s Trucker Stew

I don’t know Chet. I don’t even know if Chet is a trucker. But I do know that Chet’s Trucker stew is amazing. It’s like if you took a bunch of different great dishes and combined them all in a slow cooker, let it go for about 8 hours and then Boom! I’ts sorta like chili. It’s sorta like BBQ beans. It’s sorta like a bean soup. Every bite is packed with so many different flavors. You would never think they’d go together by looking at the ingredients, but they do!
Chet's Trucker StewChet’s Trucker stew is the perfect cold day dish. You aren’t going away hungry, that’s for sure. Whether you’re a long haul trucker or hunkered down at home on a snowy day, it’s a great easy way to make a big bowl of happiness.

Next time I make this stew (soon!) I may mix it up a bit by using smoked sausage instead of the breakfast sausage and beef. But I’d keep the beans the same, because I felt the combination really made this dish rock.

Also try my slow cooker Cincinnati chili.

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Chet's Trucker Stew

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 110 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound breakfast sausage cooked, drained
  • 1 pound ground beef cooked, drained
  • 1 27 ounce can pork and beans undrained
  • 1 14 ounce can wax beans rinsed, drained
  • 1 14 ounce can lima beans rinsed, drained
  • 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans undrained
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans undrained
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker.
  • Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours, stirring occasionally.

Southern Bologna Burgers

Anita got me hooked on thick-cut bologna burgers and sandwiches.They are like the grown-up versions of the bologna sandwiches I had as a kid. I get the deli to cut chub bologna 1/2″ thick and then either fry, grill, or smoke it. Then I slather the bologna with Ross’ Pool Room sauce and serve it on buns topped with onion and pimento cheese. Yeah, that’s a Southern bologna burger right there!
Southern Bologna BurgersAny pimento cheese will work on these southern bologna burgers. I didn’t go crazy making one of my more complicated versions. Simple is just fine. For a bit of a kick substitute pepper jack cheese for the Colby or add a minced seeded jalapeno pepper.

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Southern Bologna Burgers

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Mike

Ingredients

For the burgers

For the pimento cheese topping

  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Colby cheese
  • 2 4 ounce jars diced pimento peppers, drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

For the burgers

  • Make a 1" cut in the bologna from and edge towards the center.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat or fire up a grill for direct cooking.
  • Fry or grill the bologna, brushing with the sauce as it cooks. You want to get a light char on he bologna.
  • Toast the buns if desired.
  • Assemble the burgers by placing the bologna on the bun bottoms. Add the pimento cheese and bun top and serve.

For the pimento cheese topping

  • Combine all ingredients.

Lowcountry Smothered Pork Chops

Smothered? Ok, so maybe I drowned them. But that’s ok, because these lowcountry smothered pork chops were divine. The chops were oh so tender. The sauce was oh so savory. And the topping? My favorite part, oddly enough. The key is to load up each forkful of pork with tons and tons of the peppers and onions then get ya some sauce. The perfect bite.
Lowcountry Smothered Pork ChopsFor a slight Cajun twist on this dish, season the chops with Cajun seasoning instead of the salt, pepper and cayenne. And add a few splashes of Louisiana hot sauce in when you add the chicken broth.

Lowcountry smothered pork chops are best served with some fried okra and collard greens.

Also try my homemade chipotle Shake’n Bake pork chops.

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Lowcountry Smothered Pork Chops

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 1 " thick pork chops preferably bone-in
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium green bell peppers sliced
  • 2 yellow onions sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Combine the salt, black pepper and cayenne, to taste. Season the chops liberally with the mixture.
  • Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Spread the flour out onto a plate. Coat the chops in the flour, shaking off the excess, then transfer to the skillet.
  • Brown the chops on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
  • Add the bell peppers and onion to the skillet and saute for 5 minutes or until just starting to soften.
  • Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Add the broth and Worcestershire sauce and stir.
  • Add the chops back to the skillet, spooning the cooked vegetables on top.
  • Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chops are very tender.

Oven Baked Ribs

I usually smoke my ribs, but there are times when I’m more than happy to cook them in other ways. Usually, that means on the Char-Broil Big Easy. Once, heck, I even made them in the slow cooker! Gasp! This time I figured I’d try oven baked ribs, which really isn’t much different than using the Big Easy.

I ended up with tender, juicy ribs that tasted absolutely great. Of course, they do not have that smoky flavor I’d get on the smoker, cooked for 6 hours. But, I make up for that a bit by adding smoky ingredients like smoked paprika and using a smoky (hickory in this case) BBQ sauce at the end.
Oven Baked RibsAlthough I did not include it in the recipe below, I’d consider adding a drop (and surely not much more) of liquid smoke to the foil before sealing the ribs. There’s already a good bit of great smokiness added by the smoked paprika so I wouldn’t go crazy with the liquid smoke. If you aren’t a fan of liquid smoke but want more smoky flavor, substitute smoked sea salt for the Kosher salt.

I used back ribs, though when I smoke ribs I almost always use spare ribs trimmed St. Louis-style. I wouldn’t use spare ribs in this recipe because I’d be afraid that the additional fat in them would almost end up ‘boiling’ the ribs in the foil.

Also try my oven-baked hot dogs. Hankerin’ for more ribs? Make some slow cooker Vietnamese ribs.

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Oven Baked Ribs

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 45 mins
Total Time2 hrs 55 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 racks

Ingredients

  • 2 racks back back ribs membrane removed from back, loose fat trimmed, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Place ribs onto two large pieces of foil.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients except for the sauce. Sprinkle the rub mixture over the ribs on all sides. Depending on the size of your ribs you may not end up needing all of the rub.
  • Seal the foil tightly, transfer to a large baking sheet and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Carefully open the foil.There will be lots of hot liquid accumulated in the bottom of the foil packets!
  • Remove the ribs from the foil (they might be quite tender, so support them from underneath using large turners or flat wooden paddles and transfer to the baking sheets.
  • Brush with plenty of sauce and place ribs under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has set.
  • Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with more sauce for dipping if desired.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

The weather had me jonesin’ bad for stuffed cabbage rolls. A nice sunny day was a mean joke because the cold and snow returned, and I wanted something warm and comforting for dinner. No need to mess with making actual cabbage rolls, this soup combines all the same great flavors in a bowl without having to worry about stuffing boiled cabbage leaves. Anita proclaimed it ‘one of the best things we’ve ever made’ and I agree.
Stuffed Cabbage SoupDon’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with traditional stuffed cabbage rolls. I’ve made them in the slow cooker. I’ve even made them on my smoker. But this stuffed cabbage soup is fantastic. Don’t let the seemingly long list of ingredients deter you from making it, either. It’s actually very simple.

Also try my bacon-smothered cabbage.

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Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 quart plus 2 cups chicken stock divided
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 carrot thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head green cabbage cored, sliced thin
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped

Instructions

  • Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat.
  • Stir in 2 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer 15-20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-high heat add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Crumble in the beef and pork and cook until just starting to brown.
  • Add the allspice, coriander, paprika, salt, pepper, bay leaf and dill. Stir.
  • Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook until the onion just starts to soften.
  • Add the cabbage. Stir and cook until wilted.
  • Stir in the remaining 4 cups of stock, diced tomatoes and stir tomato sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  • Stir in the cooked rice and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for 5 more minutes then stir in the parsley.
  • Serve hot.

Spicy Orange Chicken

This spicy orange chicken is one of those “there aren’t going to be very many leftovers” dishes. We knew it as soon as we started eating. The sauce on the chicken is just crazy good. A slight hint of orange. A slight spicy kick. The chicken is fried quickly and perfectly, with just a slight crunch. We loved this dish and then some.
Spicy Orange ChickenI’m a big fan of green onions on dishes that are Asian-inspired such as this spicy orange chicken. I need something to cut thru the sweetness, the soy sauce. So I tend to be a bit heavy-handed when it comes times to sprinkle on the sliced green onion.

Don’t be afraid to add more crushed red pepper to the sauce.

Also try my copycat of Panda Express’ SweetFire chicken.

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Spicy Orange Chicken

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Asian-Inspired
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Inspired by a recipe from Kikkoman

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Cooked rice for serving
  • Sliced green onions for topping

For the spicy orange sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 5 ounce bottle Kikkoman Orange Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Instructions

  • Combine chicken, egg whites and soy sauce in a bowl and let stand 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or deep fryer to 360 F.
  • Working in batches, remove chicken from marinade. Shake off excess then roll in the cornstarch. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Make the sauce by heating 1 tablespoon of oil (you can also use 1 tablespoon of the oil from the fryer) in a large skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper and stir-fry for 15 seconds.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir into the skillet. Add the Orange Sauce and soy sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmer, stirring, until thickened.
  • Add in the chicken and stir to coat.
  • Serve over rice topped with green onions.