Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kugel (Noodle Pudding)

     There are certain things that I always associate with my childhood. Hot Wheels. Saturday morning cartoons. Getting hit in the face with a ball because you've played outside until it's too damned dark to see anymore. If there's a food I connect with my childhood, it's kugel. If you're from a Jewish family, you know what a kugel is. If not, I'll explain. It's basically a baked noodle pudding. They can be sweet or savory, depending on the ingredients. This particular recipe is from my grandmother on my father's side, and is most certainly of the sweet variety. When I was little, she would make kugel most times I came to visit. To this day, it's one of my favorite recipes. It's pretty versatile. I've served at a side, a dessert and occasionally for breakfast. You can serve it hot or cold. As always, notes are in blue.


  • 1 lb wide egg noodles
  • 1 lb small-curd cottage cheese
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar (no clue as to why my grandmother used confectioner's sugar. I guess it incorporates easier. There's really nothing stopping you from using regular white sugar. Now that I think of it, brown sugar might be pretty good in this)
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained (I save the juice in a container in the fridge. It comes in handy for cocktails later!)
  • 6 ounces golden raisins
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (I generally just eyeball measure the cinnamon, so that's why there is some range on the measurement. Use more or less depending on how much you like cinnamon)
  • Corn Flakes/Frosted Flakes (If you like sweet, give Frosted Flakes a try. I've done it before and it was pretty good. Or you could go crazy and toss a layer of Cinnamon Toast Crunch over the top!)
  1. Cook noodles to just shy of done. 
  2. Mix all ingredients except corn flakes in a large bowl.
  3. Spread into a greased baking dish (around 15"x10"x2")
  4. Cook at 375F until top gets crispy (about 30 minutes, give or take). Sprinkle corn flakes over top and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Good Times!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bacon and Lemon Herbed Turkey

     Nothing says Thanksgiving like a well-made turkey perfectly carved and served up on a fancy platter. One out of three isn't bad. I can give you well-made. The rest is up to you. I know many people love that crispy golden skin on a turkey. I don't really care about that. For me, the skin is there to help store all sorts of good things to flavor the meat. I've messed around with a couple versions of this type of turkey, but I feel this is the final iteration. I am very pleased. The meat is suspiciously tender and is infused with hints of lemon, bacon and herbs. This, my dear friends, is a winner. As always, any notes are in blue.
Bacon and Lemon Herbed Turkey

  • 1 turkey (we used a 13 pound bird for this recipe)
  • 1 pound thick cut bacon (use whatever kind you want. Applewood smoked, hickory, whatever)
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 sticks butter, separated
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and sage)
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • Uncle Joe's Rub Down
  1. Make sure the bird is defrosted and all the fun stuff is removed from inside. (I'll normally throw those spare parts in the roaster with the bird and serve them to the dogs later. I'll save the neck to throw at the unruly neighborhood children)
  2. Take your hand and slide it between the skin and the meat of the bird. Gently work your hand around to separate the skin from the meat the best you can without tearing the skin. (This whole process feels genuinely wrong. I always apologize to the bird when I do this)
    I know we've only just met...
  3. Mix one of the sticks of butter with the herbs until the herbs are evenly distributed through the butter. Start grabbing handfuls and get your hand back in under the skin. Spread the butter around under the skin the best you can. 
  4. Gently lift the skin and lay the lemon slices between the meat and skin. Do the same with a quarter pound of the bacon (It's going to get crowded under the skin. Don't worry too much about having it be neat and tidy under there. The important part is to get it evenly distributed without tearing the skin)
  5. Take the other stick of butter and the onion and put it in the cavity of the bird.
  6. Shake a coat of Uncle Joe's Rub Down over the skin of the bird (feel free to use any rub or seasoning mix you like. I'm just partial to this stuff)
  7. Take the remaining bacon and use it to cover the bird (I absolutely can't be bothered to make a bacon weave)
    See? No weave and it looks fine. I can't be bothered with frippery.
  8. Load the bird into a roaster and cover it with a tinfoil tent (if you have time, feel free to make yourself a hat to block government mind-control rays. It never hurts to be careful)
  9. Load the bird into an oven preheated to 325F. Cook until a meat thermometer reads an internal temperature of 165F (This took about 4 hours for our bird. It may take more or less time depending on your stove, size of the bird, altitude, relative humidity, astrological sign, etc. You could always use the old trick of seeing if the leg just pulls off. That usually means the turkey is done. Or has leprosy. It's not an exact science)
  10. Once the bird has reached the required temperature, take it out and let it rest for 15 minutes or so (You've already violated it quite a bit. Give it a moment or two before you attack it with the knife. This is a good time to make sure everything else for your meal is done, or to have a cocktail or six)
  11. Take the bacon off the top of the bird and set it aside for later snacking. Pull the skin off the bird and clear off the remaining bacon and lemon from under the skin. (Do not be alarmed when you see that you do not have a golden, crisp skin. It's going to be pretty squishy. Just pull it off. You want to get at the now tender and delicious meat).
  12. Inexpertly maul the turkey and throw the meat on a platter. Eat until sleepy.
Good times!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Slow Cooker Cajun Stew

     Now and again I like to totally improvise a recipe. The inspiration came about from the desire to burn through a surplus of pork that had been building up in our freezer. I also had a can of okra I don't remember buying. I figured pork+okra=Cajun food. I suppose it could also equal porkra, which sounds like something Godzilla would fight.
From the 1964 classic, "Godzilla vs. Porkra"
     You can ramp the heat up or down on this recipe by changing out the spices. I used some generic Cajun seasoning along with some local stuff. Feel free to use whatever you want. Cayenne would certainly be at home here. Hell, go nuts and throw in some Old Bay seasoning. Serve it over rice. Or noodles, or on its own. I won't tell. Just enjoy it as much as I did!

Slow Cooker Cajun Stew

  • 1 lb spicy ground pork sausage
  • 1 lb boneless pork loin chops, cut into 1"cubes
  • 13 ounces (one package) smoked sausage (I used a bacon and cheddar smoked sausage), cut into 1/2" thick slices
  • 8 ounces peeled shrimp, tails removed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 sliced jalapenos
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) sliced okra, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • File powder (optional)
  1. Cook ground pork sausage until browned, drain and add to 5 quart slow cooker.
  2. Brown cubed pork 2-3 minutes, add to slow cooker along with smoked sausage.
  3. In a saucepan, combine okra, diced tomatoes, jalapenos and white vinegar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes then add to slow cooker.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients except shrimp to slow cooker. Heat on LOW for 6 hours. Add shrimp during last 20 minutes of cooking.
  5. Add file powder when serving, if desired.
Good times!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pork Chops in Mushroom Sauce

     One of my biggest complaints about slow-cooker recipes is they often end up tasting very similar. I've had chicken recipes that taste like beef recipes that taste like pork recipes. It doesn't matter what the ingredients are, the meals all end up with an inoffensive flat taste. That's why this particular recipe took us by surprise. While the recipe ends up uniformly beige, there's actually a definable flavor. I imagine that's due to the Dijon mustard. Regardless of the reason, this made for a very tasty meal. As always, any notes or changes are in blue.

Pork Chops in Mushroom Sauce
via Taste of Home Slow Cooker
  • 1 can (10.75 ounce) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup country-style Dijon mustard (never in my life have I heard of "country-style" Dijon mustard. I'm calling bullshit and just using regular old Dijon)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (feeling lazy, just used 1 teaspoon minced from a jar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 medium red potatoes, sliced (I used russet potatoes and everybody survived)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 boneless loin pork chops (5 ounces each) (I used 5. SO THERE)
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms of your choice
  1. In a 5 quart slow cooker, combine the soup, broth, mustard, garlic and seasonings. (I managed to stuff everything into a 2.5 quart slow cooker)
  2. Stir in potatoes and onions; top with pork chops
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours or until meat is tender
"Sir, you are being chauffeured around in a $250,000 Rolls Royce. Buy your own damned mustard."
Good Times! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Slow Cooker Thai-Style Peanut Chicken

     I'm on the fence about peanut butter based recipes. I do enjoy a good satay, but too much peanut butter can overwhelm me and make me run for some white bread and grape jelly. This recipe works around that by using an alarming amount of teriyaki sauce and red pepper flakes. This has, as the chefs would say, umami out the asshole. We swapped in chicken for the pork and were very happy with the results. As always, changes and notes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Thai-Style Peanut Chicken
via Taste of Home Slow Cooker

  • 2 pounds boneless pork loin chops (we decided to use an equal amount of chicken)
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • Hot cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts (omitted)
  • Lime juice, optional
  1. Place meat in a 3 quart slow cooker (we used a 2.5 quart cooker. NOW WHAT!). In a small bowl, combine the teriyaki sauce, vinegar, pepper flakes and garlic; pour over meat. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or until meat is tender.
  2. Remove meat and cut into bite-sized pieces; keep warm (the meat, not you. I suppose you could put on a sweater if you're chilly). Skim fat from cooking juices, transfer juices to a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. 
  3. Combine cornstarch and water and stir until smooth. Gradually stir into the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in peanut butter and meat. 
  4. Serve with rice. Sprinkle with onions and peanuts (if you really want them). Drizzle with lime juice if desired.
Tie Peanuts...Get it?
Good times!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fruit Punch Hot Sauce

     Some time ago I held a little contest to determine the name of a hot sauce I had created. I picked a winner and then subsequently forgot all about it. I even managed to misplace the recipe. Having finally located the recipe, I am finally posting it! This is a cayenne sauce with a strong citrus base. It's excellent on seafood and chicken. I haven't tried it on anything else, but fully intend to. As far as heat, on a scale of 1 being no real heat to 10 being "Oh God, eventually this has to come out my anus," I'd give this a 4-5. As always, any notes are in blue.
Fruit Punch Hot Sauce

  • 5 ounces cayenne peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 10 ounces red banana peppers, seeded and roughly chopped (not sure where you're going to find these; these peppers were mutants out of our garden)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  1. Throw everything into a blender and blend the living shit out of it.
  2. Pour the blended mixture into a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Strain mixture into bottles/cans (This will make a little over a pint of sauce)
  4. If you are intending to store long term, process canning jars in a boiling water bath for 12 minutes for 1/2-pints and 15 minutes for pints (as always, please refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for detailed instructions and tips for giving everyone dysentery) 
Good times!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Pie Bread Pudding

     Bread pudding is one of those desserts that I love, but almost never make. Generally, I'll make a bread pudding one time during the holidays and then just pine away for it the rest of the year. I'm not sure why that is. Bread pudding is not particularly difficult to make. It will have to remain a mystery. I made this one because I had an empty slot in my 3 station slow cooker. I also had a loaf of Caramel Apple bread and nothing to do with it. I just changed up a recipe from Gooseberry Patch Super Fast Slow Cooking. It took WAY longer to cook than the recipe said, but ended up being a fine dessert. As always, any changes or notes are in blue.

Caramel Apple Pie Bread Pudding
via Gooseberry Patch Super Fast Slow Cooking

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (we used 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown)
  • 21 ounce can apple pie filling (we used a sugar-free pie filling)
  • 6-1/2 cups cinnamon-raisin bread, cubed (no cinnamon-raisin bread on hand. Went with a one pound loaf of Pepperidge Farms Caramel Apple Bread)
  • Optional: Whipped Cream (omitted)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and sugar. 
  2. Gently stir in pie filling and bread cubes; pour mixture into lightly greased slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 3 hours, until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean (calling bullshit on this step. We went for three hours on LOW, then over another hour on HIGH, and that damned knife never came out clean. I just gave up and called it done)
  4. Let stand, uncovered, 30-45 minutes to cook slightly before serving. 
Good times!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken

     It's always a good thing when a recipe has versatility. When I'm slow-cooking, I'm generally cooking for the week. I want to make something that can be repurposed into a few different meals. This chicken dish from Fix-It and Forget It Lightly has that flexibility. On its face, you could just eat this as is. You could throw it over some rice. The first time we had it, we used it to fill tacos. The next night I baked a couple potatoes and used just the veggies along with cheese and sour cream to top them. This will certainly enter regular rotation in the slow cooker. As always, changes and notes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken 
via Fix-It and Forget It Lightly

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4" wide strips (Look, we all know the chicken is just going to fall apart from the slow cooking. We threw the chicken breasts in whole)
  • 2 tablespoons dry taco seasoning mix (really? I'm going to rip open an envelope of taco seasoning and then just use part of it? Screw that. We used the whole envelope)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips (you should know by now that the wife doesn't really like green peppers. We used a yellow pepper)
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1-1/2 cups chunky salsa (I used my own proprietary recipe that I would be glad to sell you for an unreasonable price)
  • 1 cup nonfat Mexican-Style cheese, shredded (Didn't have nonfat. You'll get over it)
  1. Toss chicken with seasoning and flour in slow cooker.
  2. Gently stir in vegetables and salsa.
  3. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours, or on HIGH 2-3 hours, until chicken and vegetables are cooked through but are not dry or mushy. 
  4. Stir before serving.
  5. Serve topped with cheese.
Good times!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Too Damned Easy Slow-Cooker BBQ Green Beans and Sausage

     I am so proud of the wife. She finally just chucked aside the recipe books and winged it. She was looking for a green bean recipe for a slow cooker when she suggested adding Italian sausage. Then she made a bold choice and grabbed a half pint of my BBQ jalapenos and onions. The result? A spicy and delicious dish that could serve as a side or even a main course. As always, any notes are in blue.

Too Damned Easy
Slow Cooker BBQ Green Beans and Sausage

via The Wife

  • 1 pound green beans (we used fresh that we got out of the garden. The wife just gave them a wash and trim. You could certainly get by with a pound of frozen)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pint BBQ Jalapenos and Onions
  1. Put green beans into slow cooker
  2. Slice sausage into 1" pieces. Fry in a skillet with a bit of oil until brown. Add sausage to slow cooker.
  3. Pour BBQ peppers and onions over the top.
  4. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours.
Good times!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Salata Horiatiki (Country Greek Salad)

     If there is any one salad I love above all others, it is the Greek salad. The combination of flavors is wonderful. There are a ton of variations on this salad, but this one from The Best Traditional Recipes of Greek Cooking is one of my favorites because it is Too Damned Easy.  It comes together in minutes and is a visually impressive dish. I, personally, would add anchovies to this, but the Wife isn't a huge fan of the little fishies, so I generally leave them off. Other than that, there isn't much I would change here. This is a winner as-is. As always, notes are in blue.

Salata Horaitiki (Country Greek Salad)
via The Best Traditional Recipes of Greek Cookingby Maria Mavromataki
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 2 medium cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 5 ounces black olives
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and cut into big pieces
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, oregano
  • 7 ounces feta cheese, cut into chunks (our ALDI only sells crumbled feta, so that's what we used)
  1. Wash and slice the tomatoes in quarters and place them in a bowl. Add cucumber, onion, olives and peppers
  2. Dress the salad with the vinegar, olive oil, salt and oregano
  3. Add feta, toss and serve
Good times!