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.
As 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.
Yum Yum Sauce
Servings 1 cup
- 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
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.
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
Servings 2 1/2 cups
- 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
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.
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 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
Servings 16 servings
- 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
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.
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.
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
Servings 10 cups
- 3 pounds chicken pieces
- 3 carrots halved
- 3 stalks celery halved
- 1 onion quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
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.
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.
I 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
Servings 3 cups
- 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
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.
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
Servings 12 servings
- 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
Combine everything in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved.
Remove from heat and let cool before serving.
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.
I 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
Servings 3 /4 cup
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
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.
We’ve been enjoying a week of grilling marinated chicken breasts, sliced thin, served on top of fresh greens with homemade salad dressings, like this herby Ranch dressing. I also mix up the salad toppings to keep things new and exciting. In no time we have a great salad for dinner.
This dressing has the flavors of a traditional Ranch, with an extra herb kick. Fresh herbs make it the best, but you can substitute dried, like I did. Just make sure you crumble the dried herbs first. You don’t want to bite into a big ole chunk of oregano, ya know!
Also try my dill ranch dressing and my amped-up Thai sweet chili dressing.
Herby Ranch Dressing
Servings 2 cups
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup plus more, buttermilk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
If using fresh herbs
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves chopped
- 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
If using dried herbs
- 1 tablespoon dried basil crumbled
- 1/2 tablespoon dried chives
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano crumbled
Combine all ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Add more buttermilk if the dressing is too thick.
I found a big batch of smoked pulled pork in the freezer the other day. I was going to make one of my ‘usual’ BBQ sauces but this copycat of the sauce at Dreamland BBQ in Alabama has been on my to-try list for a while so I made a few quarts of it.
Visiting Dreamland BBQ (and honestly, just about any BBQ joint) is also on my to-do list, so I can’t vouch for how much of a copycat it is, but I can vouch for how good it is. Not too thick, not too runny with just a hint of heat. It’s a great all-purpose BBQ sauce.
You can make this sauce as shown, or play with it to suit your own needs. I was looking for a light red sauce, and that’s exactly what I got. The beauty of a good BBQ sauce like this is you’ve got a great base for your preferences. Want more heat? Add more cayenne. A little sweeter? More sugar. Thicker? Let it simmer a while longer. You can’t go wrong with Dreamland BBQ sauce whether you follow the recipe to a T or use it as a starter for your own version.
This sauce is fantastic on my Backyard BBQ wings.
Copycat Dreamland BBQ Sauce
Servings 2 quarts
- 1 28 ounce can tomato puree
- 1/3 cup prepared yellow mustard
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup dark corn syrup see my note
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons cayenne
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Note: Dark corn syrup makes for a nice dark syrup with a hint of molasses. For a lighter syrup, use light corn syrup.
Place puree and yellow mustard in a large saucepan and whisk until combined.
Whisk in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
Keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Note: If you prefer a thicker sauce, combine 1/4 cup corn starch and 1/4 cup cold water and whisk into the sauce as it simmers.
Last week was salad week here. Every once-in-a-while I go on a one-week long campaign to make salads. Not little ole wimpy salads, but meal-sized salads that dreams are made of. To add a special touch I often make dressings from scratch, like this copycat Chipotle honey vinaigrette. This dressing checked all the boxes. Perfect consistency (very important!). Nice and creamy. A little sweat. And a little heat. Heck, I just realized that my favorite salad dressings are a lot like barbecue sauces! Huh!
This copycat Chipotle honey vinaigrette is not only great on salads, it’s also great as a marinade for chicken. Just let chicken breasts (or whatever cuts you prefer) get happy in the dressing for an hour or so, then grill as desired. So make extra vinaigrette and enjoy!
Also try my copycat of Panera’s Strawberry Poppy Seed dressing.
Copycat Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients except for the olive oil into a blender.
Blend on low speed. With the blender still running, slowly add the oil.
Refrigerate for one hour before serving.