Avocado Ranch Dressing

I love when avocados are in season here. They’re perfect on a salad, be it sliced, chopped or in the dressing itself. This avocado Ranch dressing is quite easy to make. It packs a nice subtle avocado flavor, with the wonderful creamy herb flavor of Ranch.
Avocado Ranch DressingAvocado Ranch dressing isn’t just for salads either. It’s perfect as a dip, or use it as a substitute for sour cream on tacos or nachos.

Avocado Ranch Dressing
Recipe type: Salad Dressing
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, seed removed
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup milk (plus more, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons (or more) hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Scoop out the avocado and place into a blender or food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except salt and process until smooth.
  3. Taste, add salt as needed, and pulse a few more times to mix.
  4. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
  5. Note: If the dressing gets too thick, stir in a bit more milk before serving.

Asian Grilled Vegetables

I need more grilled sides like these Asian grilled vegetables. It’s a simple way to make flavor-packed vegetables with little fuss or mess. I use a vegetable grill basket and place it on my grill alongside whatever else I’m grilling, be it burgers, dogs, or whatever. In no time I have the perfect delicious side dish.I used bell pepper, onion and zucchini but really you can use any vegetables you can find as long as they all have the about the same cooking time. If you’re using something that needs longer to cook (like carrots) you might want to steam them a bit first or add them to the basket and let them cook by themselves for a while before adding the remaining ingredients.

Asian Grilled Vegetables
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 onion, quartered and separated
  • 3 zucchini, cut into 1/2" slices
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for indirect cooking.
  2. Place all ingredients into a large bowl and toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring often,
  3. Transfer ingredients to a grill basket. If you don't have a grill basket tear off a large sheet of foil and add the mixture to the center of the piece. Fold up and seal tightly.
  4. Place onto grill and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften and get a little char on them. Stir and continue cooking until the vegetables are the desired doneness. I like mine to still have a bit of crunch.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken using the Vortex

I use my Vortex BBQ a few times a week, usually for making a quick batch of wings for lunch for myself. For dinner, though, my go-to dish is ‘fried’ chicken using the same cooking technique as I do for wings. Just batter the chicken (I used bone-in thighs) and onto a hot (and I do mean hot) charcoal grill. In an hour or less I’ve got ‘fried’ chicken without the oil and mess. Crunchy, juicy, and tender.
This version of buttermilk fried chicken actually began life as a way of making chicken for another of my favorites, chicken and waffles. Hence the hint of maple syrup. But you don’t need waffles. If you do serve them over waffles, drizzle with a bit more maple syrup just before serving.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken using the Vortex
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
For the chicken marinade
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Buttermilk (enough to cover the thighs)
  • 1/4 cup grade A maple syrup
For the flour dredge
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the egg dredge
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon grade A maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken in a resealable container or bag and add enough buttermilk to cover. Pour in the maple syrup, seal, and shake to combine.
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Fire up your charcoal grill with the Vortex insert. Once the coals are lit, prepare the chicken.
  4. Prepare two dredging stations. Combine the flour dredge ingredients in a pie plate. In another, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and syrup. Season both with salt and pepper.
  5. Working in batches, remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and shake off any excess.
  6. Coat the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off any excess.
  7. Next, roll the chicken in the egg mixture. Shake off any excess.
  8. Finally, return the chicken to the flour mixture and coat again. Remove any excess and transfer to your grill, arranging the pieces around the edges.
  9. Place the cover on the grill and cook 45 minutes to an hour, checking for doneness in multiple spots. I rotate the lid every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Hash Browns on the Cuisinart Griddler

Oh how I do love hash browns. Specially the hash browns that are cooked until crispy on an old flat-top griddle. Nice and golden brown. I don’t have a big diner griddle (yet), but I do have the Cuisinart Griddler, which makes fantastic hash browns. There’s nothing fru-fru about them, just great taste and texture.
Don’t laugh, but I like to serve my hash browns with butter. Yep, butter. I know that’s not normal. Most folks like ketchup or hot sauce. I always butter potatoes, no matter if they’re roasted, tater tots, or hash browns. I do draw the line at putting butter onto French fries, though.

Hash Browns on the Cuisinart Griddler
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled, shredded
  • 1 medium sweet onion, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes and onion in a bowl full of cold water. Soak for 5 minutes, drain, and fill again. Soak again for 5 minutes and drain. Continue rinsing and draining until the water no longer turns milky from the potato started.
  2. Install the flat cooking plates on your Griddler and open the Griddler flat so you can cook on both plates at once.
  3. Set your Griddler Selector to 'Griddle' and the Griddle temperature to 425 F.
  4. Note that the top plate seems to not get as hot.
  5. Drain potatoes well then toss with the oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Divide the potatoes between the Griddler plates and spread out evenly.
  7. Do not mess with the potatoes, let them cook for about 20 minutes or until you notice they are starting to turn golden brown on the bottom.Note that the top plate seems to not get as hot so the potatoes there may take longer to cook.
  8. Carefully flip the potatoes and cook another 20 minutes or until they are nice and golden brown and are as crispy as you like them.
  9. Serve hot with more salt and pepper, ketchup, or whatever you desire.

Slow Cooker Jalapeno Pot Roast

It’s not uncommon for me to dream of a meal the night after I’ve had it. What isn’t common is when I dream about a meal BEFORE I’ve even had it. I knew going in that this slow cooker jalapeno pot roast was going to be great. Of course, after a day in the slow cooker the meat was tender and easy to shred. And it has just the right amount of spicy kick to it. It’s definitely not a bland pot roast by any stretch of the imagination.
I set out making slow cooker jalapeno pot roast for po boy sandwiches and that’s it. As soon as I came across the recipe I knew that that’s what I was going to do. And the sandwiches came out absolutely perfect. I could’ve served the pot roast over mashed potatoes or made an open-faced sandwich or even better, used it in tacos, but I wanted a sandwich with some cool toppings like tomato and onion and lettuce to contrast the spicy beef. Perfect!

Slow Cooker Jalapeno Pot Roast
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds chuck steak or roast
  • 1 (4 ounce) can fire-roasted jalapeno peppers, not drained
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Place meat into the slow cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the meat.
  3. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.
  4. Carefully remove the meat and chop or shred as desired, then return to the slow cooker to absorb the juices.

Chicken Sauce Piquante

Watching Emeril Lagasse is what got me interested in cooking. Years ago he had a show, Emeril Live. It was part entertainment and part cooking. Chef’s cooking fascinated me and inspired me to stop eating out of bags or containers. This chicken sauce piquante is one reason why I’ve never looked back fondly at the days when I scarfed down fast food on a regular basis. Nothing I ever had then could even come close to the flavors in this dish. Sure, there are a number of ingredients, and it takes a bit of time, but the end result is layer after layer of incredible rich flavor. Tomatoes, bell peppers, celery and even a bit of heat make for a sauce that was so heavenly I almost forgot about the delicious chicken.
The original recipe for chicken sauce piquante called for a whole chicken, cut into pieces. I prefer thighs so I ended up using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead. In a dish like this one I wanted the extra richness of the dark meat in thighs. And, well, it was easier to use thighs!

Chicken Sauce Piquante
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minded
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Cooked rice, for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken into a large bowl.
  2. Combine the Creole seasoning and flour and sprinkle over the chicken. Toss to coat well.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Working in batches, remove the chicken from the flour mixture, shaking off the excess and transfer to the skillet. Brown on both sides and transfer to a slow cooker.
  5. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and jalapeno to the skillet and saute for 2 minutes, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the skillet.
  6. Add the garlic, dried pepper flake, thyme, cayenne and bay leaves and cook another minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes without any of the juice. Break up the tomatoes with a spatula.
  8. Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and salt along with 1/2 cup of the juice reserved from the tomatoes.
  9. Bring to a simmer and cook another minute.
  10. Add the sauce to the slow cooker (be careful to not splatter any on yourself since it is hot).
  11. Cover and cook on low 3 hours or until the chicken is tender but not yet falling apart.
  12. Remove bay leaves before serving over hot rice, garnished with parsley.

Smoked Sausage Sandwiches with Beer-Braised Onions

Properly braised onions take a little bit of time to make, but oh how they are so worth the effort. Braising them in beer and putting them on smoked sausage sandwiches turns a great sandwich into a fantastic sandwich. The onions are soft, tender, moist and even a bit sweet. You’ll want some crunchy dill pickles to kind of temper the sweetness a bit. Or you could add a pinch or two of red pepper flake or a few shakes of hot sauce to the onions if you want a bit of kick.
These beer-braised onions aren’t just for smoked sausage sandwiches. They’re great on regular ole hot dogs too. Or meatball sandwiches. Heck, I’d even pile them up on a Philly cheese steak. They also make for a great replacement for sauerkraut on a Reuben sandwich. Trust me.

Smoked Sausage Sandwiches with Beer-Braised Onions
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 cups thinly sliced onion (I used 4 medium Vidalia onions)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 ounces of your favorite American lager beer, such as Budweiser
  • 1 pound smoked sausage
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Mayonnaise
  • Creole mustard (or substitute your favorite)
  • 8 slices Muenster cheese
  • Dill pickle slices
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for direct cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and toss to coat in the butter. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Saute the onions for 10 minutes or until they start to brown and have softened.
  5. Add the beer and continue to saute for another 20-25 minutes or until the beer is mostly gone, stirring often. Remove from heat.
  6. Grill the sausage until done. Cut it into thirds, then cut each third horizontally, leaving you with 12 slices of sausage.
  7. Toast the buns on the grill if desired.
  8. Slather one side of each bun with mayonnaise. Slather the other with mustard.
  9. Add the sausage slices to the bun bottoms.
  10. Top with the cheese and the onion mixture. Add pickles and serve.

Garlic Lobster Tails on the Char-Broil Big Easy

This was my first time cooking lobster tails. Prior to this great moment in history I had no experience cutting the shells, cleaning them or even buying them. I wanted everything to be as easy to do as possible, so I opted to cook these little lovelies on my Char-Broil Big Easy. I could not have been happier with the results. Tender, buttery, garlicky lobster tails cooked absolutely spot-on perfect. And with just a slight kick of Cajun seasoning.
You could add whatever seasonings you want to the lobsters. I figured since this was my first experience with cooking lobster tails I would go simple. Cook time was about 20 minutes for the two tails I used. Make sure you select tails that are as close to the same size as possible so they cook in the same amount of time. If you use a bunk bed basket to cook on multiple levels at once, keep in mind that some levels may cook at a different rate than others. Always check the temperatures (you’re aiming for 140-145 F) in all tails before removing them to serve. You definitely do not want to overcook them or they will become tough and you will be sad.

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

Garlic Lobster Tails on the Char-Broil Big Easy
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Two cook 4 lobster tails at once you'll need a Char-Broil Big Easy Bunk Bed Basket.
Ingredients
  • 4 (4-5 ounce) lobster tails (thawed, if frozen)
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic
Instructions
  1. Fire up your Big Easy.
  2. Using kitchen shears, cut the lobster tails down the back to the tail. Do not cut the tail, you want the end of the lobster to stay intact.
  3. Gently pry the shells open just enough to get your fingers inside to separate the meat from the shell and remove any vein that may be present. Rinse with cold water and pat try.
  4. Divide garlic and butter between the tails.
  5. Drizzle with the lemon juice and sprinkle with the seasonings.
  6. Transfer tails to the Big Easy basket and Bunk Bed basket. Add lemon wedges.
  7. Lower into the Big Easy and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the lobsters reach 145 F. and the meat is opaque Do not over cook.
  8. Serve with the lemon wedges.