Balsamic Smoked Honey Vinaigrette

Anita and I were grabbing lunch at one of our local favorite pizza joints not long ago. The lunch special comes with a small side salad. For the dressing Anita went with the balsamic smoked honey vinaigrette. I was intrigued. She was intrigued. Smoked honey? You know, that has to be good. Well, it was. It was “bring me a bottle of that dressing so I can drink it” good. Of course, that means I had to make a version of it when I got home.
Balsamic Smoked Honey Vinaigrette

This is a great, simple dressing without the smoked honey. With it, it becomes something a bit different. The smoke flavor isn’t overwhelming, but it’s there. Depending on the honey that you use, I recommend adding just a bit at first and tasting to see if you want to add more. Me, I want that smokiness up front and center. You might now.

Also try my blue cheese vinaigrette.

Balsamic Smoked Honey Vinaigrette

Course Salad Dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup smoked honey or less, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Whisk together all ingredients.

Green Enchilada Sauce

Hatch chiles can be hard to come by here in Indiana. And when they are here, I grab a big batch of them. I love roasting them. They are great in lots of lots of dishes, and specially in green enchilada sauce. The flavor the chiles add is amazing. This is not an ordinary enchilada sauce. It’s fantastic!
Green Enchilada Sauce

If you are unable to find and roast Hatch chiles, roasted green chiles from a can are a fine substitute in this green enchilada sauce. You may want to drain the chiles first if they come in a lot of liquid.

As far as the amount of cumin in this recipe goes, I’d say use your own tastes as a guide. I rather like cumin, but Anita does not so I cut back on it quite a bit. The sauce was still fantastic.

Green Enchilada Sauce

Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Hatch Chiles roasted, stems, skin, membranes and seeds removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 jalapeños stems, membranes and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 head garlic cloves peeled, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin I used 1/2 tablespoon
  • 3 cups water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in the large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until just starting to soften.
  • Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the chiles, cumin and water. Stir and let simmer 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  • Working in batches, blend the mixture in a blender or food processor until the desired texture is achieved.
  • Store in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze for later use.

Easy Fry Dipping Sauce

Even if you’re a die-hard I-only-put-ketchup-on-my-fries person, you have to try this easy easy fry dipping sauce. Fear not since it does contain (some) ketchup! And mayonnaise (a worthy fry dipping sauce on it’s own!). A few other ingredients and a little spiciness and you’ve got something different for your next batch of fries.

Easy Fry Dipping Sauce

I have quickly learned that one of the most valuable things in my fridge is a jar of pickle brine. It’s the liquid left after you’ve taken out the last pickle. Don’t ever toss it out. You can use it in so many recipes, from this easy fry dipping sauce to fried chicken.

Also try my Yum Yum sauce!

Easy Fry Dipping Sauce

Course Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pickle brine
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne

Instructions

  • Whisk everything together in a small bowl.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour before using.

Notes

Never toss out the juice left in your pickle jars when the pickles are gone. You can use that brine in great recipes like this fry dipping sauce to fried chicken!

Yum Yum Sauce

I went on a deep-fried shrimp kick the other day. It happens. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen often enough, because deep-fried shrimp are definitely one of my favorite things. To make the shrimp even better I always make a dipping sauce or two along the side. Usually that means some sort of variation on a cocktail sauce, but this time I went with a mayonnaise-based sauce often found in Japanese Hibachi restaurants, Yum-Yum sauce. Nice and creamy with a slight vinegar twist, this sauce was perfect with the crispy shrimp.
Yum Yum SauceAs I note in the ingredients, you’ll want to use full-strength (not light) mayonnaise. Light mayonnaise is too thin, you want something that’ll stand up to the shrimp.

I wouldn’t be afraid to add a few shakes of hot sauce, either. Or maybe a few good-sized pinches of dried pepper flake.

Also try my easy fry dipping sauce.

Yum Yum Sauce

Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Author Based on a recipe from My Fridge Food

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise do not use thin, light mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  • Whisk together all ingredients. Cover and place in fridge at least 30 minutes before using.

Carolina Cocktail Sauce

As much as I enjoy a traditional cocktail sauce with my (darned good) deep-fried shrimp, I’ll take a twist on the classic any ole time. This Carolina cocktail sauce is fantastic, the perfect dipping sauce for my shrimp. In many ways it’s like the ‘usual’ yummy cocktail sauce, but the addition of vinegar makes for a really subtle but delicious difference. This is really great stuff.
Carolina Cocktail Sauce

I didn’t used to care for horseradish in anything, let alone cocktail sauce. But somehow I’ve come to enjoy it more and more. So much so that I actually added a bit more to this Carolina cocktail sauce than the recipe calls for. If you love it too, add more. If not, it’s going to be great with a little less. Just don’t skimp on the vinegar. That’s what makes this sauce different and very, very good.

This cocktail sauce is perfect for dipping my crispy fried shrimp.

Carolina Cocktail Sauce

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 2 1/2 cups
Author Inspired by a recipe from The Cooking Channel

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons or more Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Whisk together the ketchup, Worcestershire, horseradish, lemon juice and vinegar.
  • Add hot sauce to taste, stir.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Bloody Mary Rim Salt

I’m not a bartender or mixologist by any stretch of the imagination. If you asked me anything about mixed drinks you’d get a blank unknowing look in response. However, I can make two drinks that Anita does enjoy: a dirty martini and a Bloody Mary. Now, we’re not talking big-time fru-fru drinks here. My Bloody Mary isn’t like some you see on TV that are garnished with bacon, sliders and hot peppers or whatever. I keep it simple and tasty. And the key to my Bloody Mary is the rim salt. I make a big batch of it and keep it in the pantry, ready just in case someone requests a Bloody Mary.
Bloody Mary Rim Salt

Bloody Mary rim salt isn’t just for making drinks better, either. I love to sprinkle it on chicken wings hot out of the deep fryer or off the grill. It’s wonderfully different. It’s also great as a seasoning on grilled steaks.

Bloody Mary Rim Salt

Course Drinks
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic not garlic salt or garlic powder!
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry powdered ginger

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a jar or sealable container. Shake to combine. Note: If you want a finer salt, place the salt into a spice grinder first and pulse a few times until the desired size is obtained.
  • To rim a glass, moisten the edge of your glass then dip into the salt.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

I’m a big huge fan of making chicken stock at home. It’s the idea of not wasting anything, from keeping vegetable trimmings to freezing chicken parts and pieces that never quite made it into a dish. If I had a bigger freezer I’d probably make a lot more stock because I’d have more room to keep the items (that would normally be discarded) to make stock. Wing tips are something that I always end up with a lot of because I cook a lot of chicken wings. Wing tips are perfect for making slow cooker chicken stock not only because of their size but because they pack a ton of chicken flavor into a small space.
Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Although the recipe calls for carrots, celery and onion, that doesn’t mean you have to use nice, pretty vegetables. Next time you have the end of a carrot leftover, throw it into a bag or container in the freezer, along with any bits of celery or onion you come across. This recipe isn’t about using perfect looking ingredients, it’s about using up ones you might normally toss into the trash or onto the compost pile.

I don’t add salt to my stock while I’m cooking it. You never know where you might end up using your stock, so you don’t know if you’ll need salt or not. And you sure can’t take it out once you’ve added it!

Also try my stovetop chicken stock.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 5 minutes
Servings 10 cups
Author Inspired by a recipe from A Southern Soul

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken pieces
  • 3 carrots halved
  • 3 stalks celery halved
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Water

Instructions

  • Place all but the water into your slow cooker. Add enough water to fill the cooker to about 1/2" below the top.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  • Turn off cooker, remove lid and let cool for 30 minutes. Strain liquid into container for later use.

Hot Bologna Sauce

Ah, fried bologna sandwiches. Now, they aren’t something I eat every day, but when I do make them I do them up right. And that means brushing them with plenty of this hot bologna sauce. The sauce adds a bit of a tang, a bit of a sweetness, and a bit of heat. The perfect combination for a hot-off-the-grill or hot-out-of-the-skillet bologna slices. The beauty of this sauce is that you can really change it up by adding a different BBQ sauce depending on your mood.
Hot Bologna SauceI used my smokehouse BBQ sauce when I made this hot bologna sauce. I like the little bit of smokiness that it adds.  This sauce is just as crazy good brushed onto grilled hot dogs or smoked sausages.

This sauce is great on my southern bologna burgers.

Hot Bologna Sauce

Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 3 cups
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup prepared mustard
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons your favorite hot sauce
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Whisk together all ingredients.
  • Brush on bologna while grilling or frying. Also great on hot dogs and burgers!

Thai Sweet Chili Dressing

It was salad week here. Every few weeks or so, we have salads every night of the week. It’s a nice fresh change sometimes from a lot of grilled foods but that doesn’t mean that it’s a week of sadness. I mix it up by using a large variety of ingredients. And I always make at least one homemade salad dressing. Like this wonderful Thai sweet chili dressing. The dressing is a wonderful combination of tropical flavors, a little heat and a lot of Asian inspiration.
Thai Sweet Chili Dressing

Your salad doesn’t have to be Asian in nature to enjoy this Thai sweet chili dressing. It’s great no matter what you toss onto the plate.

I’m a huge fan of coconut milk and I was happy to see that this recipe has plenty of it. And fish sauce. Now, fish sauce is one strong smelling sauce. But don’t fear it. It really makes this dressing amazing. If you’re not sure about it, add a little, taste, and add more if you want. I use an expensive, quality fish sauce. I learned early on that you get what you pay for, specially when it comes to fish sauce.

Also try my herby Ranch dressing.

Thai Sweet Chili Dressing

Course Dressing
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Cooling Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Instructions

  • Combine everything in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and let cool before serving.

Copycat Zax Sauce

It was one of those days where I just needed a bit of a kick of inspiration. It was cold out and I just wanted to eat something out of a box. I didn’t want it to be blah though, so I made a batch of this copycat Zax sauce. Sure, I just dipped chicken fingers in it at first, but after that I used the sauce on sandwich wraps and hamburgers. It’s great no matter what you slather it on. Or dip in it.
copycat-zax-sauceI was going to add some heat, some kick to this copycat Zax sauce, but I talked myself out of it. And I’m glad I did, too. It’s really quite good just as it is.

Oh did I mention you can dip French fries in this too? Why aren’y mayonnaise-based dipping sauces for fries aren’t more popular in the US? It’s such a welcome change from ketchup.

For dipping sauces, try my copycat of Chick-fil-A’s dipping sauce, firecracker dipping sauce or my chili dipping sauce. All are great for dipping my crazy-good chicken fingers.

Copycat Zax Sauce

Course Sauce
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 3 /4 cup
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using as a dip for chicken fingers, fries, or slathering on a burger or chicken sandwich.