Quick Fix Homemade Breakfast Sausage

I’ve made homemade breakfast sausage from scratch before. I picked up a few pork shoulders, trimmed them, ground them (twice) and added seasonings. But I don’t always have the time (or energy, really) to do all that work. That’s when my quick fix homemade breakfast sausage comes in handy.

I use a great seasoning mix from A.C. Legg’s that I picked up on Amazon. It has just the right blend of spices without having too much sage or black pepper.
quick-fix-homemade-breakfast-sausageI cook the sausage as soon as I make it. I crumble it and freeze it in batches so I can make breakfast cups for Anita’s breakfasts during the week. You can also form it into patties. I also love smoking breakfast sausage for a fantastically different flavor.

Quick Fix Homemade Breakfast Sausage
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pound
I use a mixer to combine the meat and seasonings. You can use your hands if you wish, just make sure the meat and the bowl you are using for mixing are very cold before mixing.
  • Note: You can scale this recipe up to use as much pork as you need.
  • 1 pound quality ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon (or slightly more) breakfast sausage mix (I use A.C Legg's seasoning)
  1. Place the pork into your mixer bowl and place into the freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix.
  3. Place onto mixer using the bread hook and mix for 5-10 minutes.
  4. If this is your first time making the sausage I recommend that you take a small handful of the mixed sausage and cook it in a skillet. Taste it after it cools (while cooling place the uncooked meat mixture into the freezer in case you need to mix more). If you need to, add more seasoning and mix well.
  5. Freeze or cook the sausage. You can also form it into patties if you wish.

Roasted Hatch Chiles

I received an email the other day from our local Fresh Market saying they had cases of Hatch chiles available for order. Well, I thought, that’s something new for me, so I’ll do it. I’ve never prepared or cooked fresh Hatch chiles, I’ve just used the canned ones you get in the supermarket. My plan was to roast them all, and I did. I also got to find out how big a case of Hatch chiles is: 18 pounds. Over 150 peppers. Yep, over 150 peppers.
I fired up my largest charcoal grill and got to work. Batch after batch, I roasted the Hatch chiles until lightly charred. My plan was to only use a few of the roasted chiles immediately, so most went into bags and then the freezer for use later. After I got a system down roasting them was actually very easy. And boy, did it ever smell fantastic on the desk. I can getting a case of Hatch chiles becoming a yearly thing in our household.

I froze the chiles whole without removing stems, membranes or seeds. I found that they clean up quite easily when thawed and maybe (maybe) have more flavor that way. Plus, with 150+ peppers, I was definitely not up to cleaning that many peppers in one evening. Roasting them was enough of a chore!

Perhaps I should get one of those big chile roasters you see in serious pepper-roasting folk’s yards…. Hmmmm…. A new toy!

Roasted Hatch Chiles
  • Hatch chiles, rinsed, patted dry
  1. Fire up a grill for direct cooking. If using a gas grill add a few wood chunks or shavings to add a smoky flavor.
  2. Place the chiles directly over the fire.
  3. Roast the chiles until mostly blackened and slightly charred on all sides, rotating as needed. I tried to get the peppers about 80% charred so that they still had some of their pepper texture.
If using the peppers immediately
  1. Place peppers in a large resealable bag, container, or bowl covered with plastic wrap.
  2. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and then remove the stems, membranes, and seeds. Peel off the skin but do not rinse under running water.
If saving to freeze
  1. Place the peppers in large resealable bags.
  2. Seal and let sit out until cooled.
  3. Open the bags and remove as much air as possible. Re-seal and freeze until needed.
  4. To use, thaw the peppers then remove the stems, membranes, and seeds. Peel off the skin but do not place under running water.

Jarred Grilled Pickles

Want to surprise everyone at your next picnic or get-together? Bring a jar of grilled pickles. Everyone will want to know how you did it. You don’t have to admit how easy it is. The pickles do get a little char flavor, but not much. They still taste like, well, dill pickles, but with just slightly less crunch. The grilled red onions do add a nice light onion flavor.
jarred-grilled-picklesThese jarred grilled pickles are good for 5 days. And don’t feel like you have to grill only spears. Sliced pickles or even whole pickles can be grilled just as well. If you don’t want to grill the pickles but still want a hint of grilled flavor, just grill some red onion and then add that to a jar of pickles and refrigerate overnight.

If that’s enough, try pickling hot dogs too. They’re definitely different. And good!

Jarred Grilled Pickles
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar dill pickle spears
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 small wedges (you can keep the root end on to help keep the onion wedges together)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Drain the brine from the jar into a large bowl.
  2. Remove the pickles and lay onto a few sheets of paper towels. Dab with the paper towels to dry as well as you can.
  3. Transfer the pickles to another large bowl.
  4. Add the onion and drizzle with the oil. Toss gently to coat.
  5. Fire up your grill.
  6. Place pickles and onions onto the grill and grill on all sides until you get grill marks.
  7. Remove and let cool slightly before returning pickles to the jar.
  8. Add the onions and the reserved brine.
  9. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use within 5 days.


Multiple Bunk Bed Baskets on the Char-Broil Big Easy

I’m always on a search for ways to add more cooking capacity to my Char-Broil Big Easy. I started with my homemade Wingin’ator 3000, which works great but you do have to make it yourself. Then Char-Broil came out with a cooking rack that gave you 5 cooking levels. Sadly, the rack wasn’t available for sale for long. A reader of Life’s A Tomato mentioned something to me the other day that should’ve occurred to me long ago: you can use two of the Char-Broil Bunk Bed Baskets at once, giving you 3 cooking levels! Doh!
It’s as easy as it looks. Grab the basket that comes with your Big Easy and just lower two bunk bed baskets down into it, securing it with the handles on the sides. You’ll need to offset the two baskets by 90 degrees, otherwise the handles from the lower basket will interfere with the top basket. You can kind of see that in the picture on the right, above.

You’ll get about 3″ of cooking room on each level, plenty for wings or drumsticks. You can fit up to 6 chicken breasts on too, if they aren’t too huge. All in all, it’s a win-win!

The nice thing about this approach is that all of the baskets are dishwasher-safe, readily available, and easy to use. You don’t get quite as much cooking room as with a Wingin’ator 3000 or the (now unavailable) cooking rack, but 3 levels is plenty for a good cookout!

Did you know you can also use a wok on the Big Easy? Check out my post on how to stir-fry on the oil-less fryer.

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

Choclo al Cumino

I am a big fan of choclo. It’s a corn from the Andes of Peru. It’s not like the sweet corn you normally find here in the US. In fact, it’s not sweet at all. The kernels are instead very large and very starchy, almost like hominy.

Choclo al CuminoYou can find choclo in some South American specialty food stores. Usually it’s frozen and off the cob, but you can also find it on the cob. In Peru, it isn’t uncommon to find street vendors selling boiled choclo-on-the-cob, specially when you are in the Andes.

This dish really accentuates the unique flavor of choclo, with a hint of lime and cumin. It’s a fantastic fresh and light side dish.

Another favorite choclo dish of mine (though not authentic Peruvian cuisine) is my choclo maque choux.

Choclo al Cumino
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Peruvian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3 servings
  • 2 ears of choclo corn (or substitute 1 1/2 cups frozen choclo kernels, thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lime
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add just enough water to cover the cobs or the lose kernels.
  2. Add the corn and sugar and boil 3-5 minutes or until the kernels are tender. Drain. If using choclo-on-the-cob cut kernels from the cobs.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add the corn, half of the cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Stir and heat through.
  6. Squeeze the lime over the corn.
  7. Serve sprinkled with the remaining cumin.

Easy Owl Halloween Pumpkin

We’re taking a break from carving pumpkins this year. First up was our candy corn covered pumpkin, which came out great. Then we made this fantastic looking owl pumpkin. It’s quite easy to make, taking maybe 15 minutes from start to finish.

Owl PumpkinAin’t it cute?

PS: I like to roast my pumpkin seeds on Big Easy! They’re crazy delicious!

Easy Owl Halloween Pumpkin
  • 1 pumpkin, pulp and seeds removed from the bottom (just cut a hole in the bottom big enough for your hand, but reserve the piece you cut out)
  • A pencil
  • Sunflower seeds (use the ones from the snack aisle, they're bigger, and not the ones for birds)
  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • 2 craft sticks (or better, 4 pointed flat bamboo skewers)
  • A battery-powered pumpkin light
  • A stick (from your yard), to use as a perch
  1. Hand-draw two circles for the eyes and an upside-down triangle for the beak.
  2. Cut out the eyes and beak.
  3. Working a few seeds at a time, glue the sunflower seeds around the eye holes, beginning with the outer circle first. Then add the inner circle, overlapping slightly with the outer row.
  4. Cut each craft stick to be about 1 1/2" long and stick into the pumpkin for the ears and two feet. Leave about 3/4"of the stick protruding from the pumpkin for the ears and 1/2" for the feet.
  5. Hot glue sunflower seeds onto the craft stick pieces. For the ears, glue 4 seeds at 45 degree angles, then one last seed at the top, making a point. For the feet, glue 2 seeds at 45 degree angles, then one last seed at the tip.
  6. Place light on the base of the pumpkin and lower the pumpkin down onto it.
  7. Place the stick below the feet as a perch.
  8. Enjoy your work of art!


Candy Corn Covered Halloween Pumpkin

Anita and I always come up with at least one pumpkin each Halloween. Sometimes we carve them. Sometimes we paint them (chalkboard paint works great and it gives kids something to write on). One year we had a self-serve pumpkin that was awesome. And this year, our first pumpkin is covered in candy corn. It’s awesome!

Candy Corn Covered PumpkinOh, yes, it does take a while to make this pumpkin. We used a pretty big pumpkin, and it took about 2 hours for the two of us to complete, however we only had one glue gun. With two we could’ve cut the time in half I’m sure. It was worth the time, though. And yes, we did the back too!

Candy Corn Covered PumpkinWe kept our pumpkin hidden inside until Halloween because I’m quite sure the squirrels or raccoons or something would come along and eat all the candy off of it!

Also make my easy owl pumpkin. It’s always a big hit!

PS: I like to roast my pumpkin seeds on Big Easy! They’re crazy delicious!

Candy Corn Covered Halloween Pumpkin
  • 1 large pumpkin
  • Glue gun
  • 8-10 glue sticks
  • 5 large bags candy corn
  1. Clean your pumpkin and dry it completely.
  2. Fire up the gun and load it with glue.
  3. Start by outlining the eyes, nose, and mouth with candy corn.
  4. To apply the corn, squirt a 2"-3" line of glue and quickly apply the corn. You want the corn to go on in fairly random patterns. Or not. It's your pumpkin.
  5. Now, just fill in the rest of the pumpkin with candy corn!


Miss “Barbee-Q” Grill

I’m always on the lookout for vintage grills, and in particular, ones that have never been used. A lot of these grills were given as gifts and end up in attics, garages, or the backs of closets for years and years. I run across them at antique malls, eBay, or Craigslist on occasion.

Miss "Barbee-Q" GrillI picked up this Miss “Barbee-Q” grill for around $20. Never used, in a box that showed just a bit of wear. One thing is for sure, I’ll use it just like I use every grill I own (that is, regularly). This grill makes the perfect little patio grill. I loaded it up with a small chimney full of lit charcoal, and put on some nice all-beef dinner dogs. They came out great.Miss "Barbee-Q" GrillI can see using this Miss “Barbee-Q” grill at a park when we go out for a picnic. It’s small, light, and easy to clean. I’m not sure I’d use it in our “rec” room as the box suggests, though, but it’d work just fine in a fireplace with the chimney flue open (of course).

Also check out my vintage portable Coca Cola grill.