Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Breakfast Sausage Corndogs

Who doesn't love a corndog in the summertime? Here in Pittsburgh, many of us can be found strolling around the midway of Kennywood with a mustard slathered golden, crunchy dog-on-a-stick in one hand and maybe even a paper boat of Potato Patch fries in the other. What a way to celebrate summer!

But what about breakfast? Where's the take charge breakfast-on-a-stick for the early morning person on the go? In my opinion, instead of a hot dog, morning requires a more breakfast appropriate sausage. Don't you think so, too? As far as the "corn" part of the corndog, why mess with a classic?! And instead of frying the handy a.m. treat, let's bake it to make it just a little healthier start to our day.

This recipe isn't just easy to grab and go, any leftovers heat in the microwave in a snap so that breakfast on the fly can happen day after day. And you KNOW the kids will love this one! 

See that peach in the pic? Just a suggestion...peel and chop it and mix it in with a little maple syrup for the perfect sweet-tart accompaniment. That's what I did (maybe with just a kiss of bourbon, too), but that's for eating on a plate. Could you imagine maple syrup dripping onto the car seats while driving to work? Just plain on a stick is the delicious way to go when you're not sitting at the table.

Hey, Kennywood! This one's for you.

Breakfast Sausage Corndogs

  • 8 cooked and browned breakfast sausages, cooled (you can even do this the night before to really make it easy in the morning - or buy the precooked kind!
  • 8 popsicle sticks or skewers
  • 1 1/4 C cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 C Bisquick - I used the gluten free kind to make this GF
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 2-3 T canola oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Insert sticks/skewers into each sausage BEFORE you wrap the dough around. Believe me, you'll be glad you did.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil and spray it with cooking spray. 

In a medium bowl, mix the cornmeal and Bisquick, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. It will make a dough.

Using approximately 1/4 cup of dough per sausage, wrap it completely around each one.

Dough-wrapped and ready for the oven!

Spray the tops of the corndogs with more cooking spray and bake for approximately 25 minutes. My finished product isn't browned because GF baked goods just don't brown. If you use regular Bisquick, browning shouldn't be a problem at all. Either way, they are wonderful!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hickory Smoked Brisket, Slaw & Avocado Spring Rolls - TexAsian Style

You all know I've been putting the new smoker through its paces since I fired that baby up for the first time. Proteins of all ilk have done a turn through various wood smokes - orange wood chips, maple chips, hickory and even peach chips have flavored the bounty my smoker has seen. Veggies - corn, red peppers, potatoes, onions -  and even eggs have soaked up delicious smelling smoke in my backyard lately. That's a good thing. 

The downside is that there ends up being a whole LOT of smoked meat leftover even after sharing with relatives, friends and neighbors (and maybe even random strangers who happen to wander by the house on occasion). Even after sharing with nearly everyone I can think of, there's still a hefty portion to use up. 

Sandwiches were made with orange smoked chicken - both hot and cold. My mojo smoked turkey turned into hash. With hickory and maple smoked brisket there were quesadillas and nachos to create, smoked eggs became chipotle kissed deviled eggs and smoked corn was cut from the cob, sauteed in butter with chile powder and sweet red peppers, then finally graced with a generous shredding of cheddar that melted into gooey goodness. 

We've all done most of the above, haven't we? New horizons for precious surplus smoky meats needed to be conquered. What new smoky deliciousness could delight both taste buds and a sense of adventure? How about an Asian spring roll with a Texas twist? And so, the hickory smoked brisket spring roll with pickled slaw, red pepper, purple onion, avocado and cilantro with a sweet tart orange and tamari dipping sauce was born.   

Hickory Smoked Brisket, Slaw & Avocado Spring Rolls - TexAsian Style

  • 12 rice paper spring roll wrappers 
  • 12 slices hickory smoked beef brisket (Don't have home smoked brisket? Buy some at the deli!)
  • 12 very thin slices raw red bell pepper
  • 12 very thin slices raw purple onion
  • 12 thin slices avocado
  • packaged coleslaw mix
  • pickle brine from a jar of your favorite sweet or dill pickles - I used Famous Dave's Spicy Pickles (nice sweet dill pickle with a KICK!) ALWAYS keep your pickle brine when you finish a jar of pickles to make quick pickles. Besides slaw mix, I pickle thinly sliced carrots, red peppers, cucumbers, tiny green beans, thin asparagus spears, onions...just about anything! Don't have pickle brine? Use the brine and keep the pickles in another container and when the slaw is done, put the brine and the reserved pickles right back in the jar!
  • fresh cilantro leaves

  • 1 C bottled hickory BBQ sauce 
  • 1/4 C tamari or soy sauce (I used wheat-free tamari to make this gluten-free)
  • 6 T fresh squeezed orange juice

Put 2 C coleslaw mix in a deep narrow bowl and drain the brine from a jar of pickles over top. Press the slaw down into the brine and let it sit while you proceed with the rest of the recipe. Don't throw away the pickles! Just put the brine back into the jar after "pickling" the slaw mix.

Next make the dipping sauce - BBQ sauce, tamari and oj. Set aside.

Now set up an assembly line. Find a shallow dish - a large pie plate or a 9X9 baking dish should work just fine - and fill it halfway with water. This is to soften the rice paper spring roll wrapper. Next line up the brisket and the rest of the filling ingredients for easy assembly. Also dampen a kitchen towel and lay it on your counter between the shallow dish and the rest of the assembly line. 

Starting with a rice paper wrapper, assemble the spring rolls one at a time. 

Take a wrapper and submerge it in the water, turning it until it begins to soften. Gently place it on the dampened towel. Lay the filling in the center of the wrapper starting with a slice of brisket, then red pepper next to the purple onion, the avocado slice on top of that, a pile of brined slaw that has been squeezed dry and 2 cilantro leaves. 

Gently fold the bottom of the wrapper up snugly over the filling, then fold the left side over, the right side next and finally roll the whole package up to the top. You know, just like you're making a burrito.

That's it! It's a keeping-the-kitchen-cool, using-up-the-leftovers appetizer, lunch or dinner that feels like you're dining in one of Pittsburgh's newest and trendiest restaurants. So good!

NOTE: Feel free to use any other veggies you like...spring onions, carrots, fennel, asparagus...let your imagination flow free. Just keep the veggies sliced thinly. Well except for nice thin spears of asparagus. And pickle those suckers, too, in pickle brine!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Smoked Citrus, Cumin & Garlic Turkey Breast

Here's a heads up for ya, folks. Think of this as one of those big yellow "Work Zone Ahead" signs on the turnpike. Only this one would say "BBQ Overload Ahead." Yep, that's what happens when you get a new smoker. Well, that and BIG silly sauce stained smiles on the faces of neighbors and family from all that smoky deliciousness!

One of the BEST things about smoking is how easy it is...I think of it almost as the crockpot of summer cooking. Really. Seriously!  A little simple prep, throw it in the smoker with soaked wood chips of choice, check the internal temp of the protein on occasion and pull it out when it registers what you're looking for. Boom! If you put some fresh ears of corn in there at the same time, maybe even some par-boiled potatoes, mushrooms and/or tomatoes, you have an entire meal at once. 

Although the ease is one reason for my smoking enthusiasm, the crazy BBQ flavor is the deal sealer for me. Don't have a smoker? You can use a smoker box in your gas or charcoal grill. Don't want to invest in an expensive smoker? Do what we did around here. For $40 we initially bought an electric column type smoker at Home Depot that we used for years! After that, the same type - only a charcoal model from Lowe's - was our baby for another few years. That one was a whopping $50! Bottom line here is that you can get in on the ground floor of smoking for almost peanuts.

Okay, enough talking about smoking. Let's get goin' and get on the road to the recipe!

Smoked Citrus Cumin Garlic Turkey Breast

  • a 2-3 lb boneless, skinless fresh turkey breast
  • a quart bowl of smoker wood chips, soaked in water for at least an hour before putting the turkey in the smoker - I used a combo of apple and hickory chips

Citrus, Cumin & Garlic Butter:

  • zest of 1 lime, 1 Meyer (or regular) lemon, 1/2 an orange (zest the orange BEFORE cutting in half)
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed or minced finely
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 3 T soft butter
  • 1/2 T kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

  • juice of 1/2 the lime, 1/2 the Meyer lemon and the WHOLE orange
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 T olive oil

A few hours before you start smoking (or the day before), butterfly the turkey breast. 

Laying the breast longitudinally in front of you on a cutting board, make a shallow cut down the center being sure not to cut through to the bottom. Next place your knife inside that cut and cut horizontally towards the left of the breast being careful not to cut all the way through. Do the same on the right side and open the breast up, laying it flat. 

Spread or pat the prepared butter in the center, leaving plenty of butter-less space around the edges. You want to keep the butter inside the breast as it cooks. Roll the buttered turkey breast from one side to the other and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the turkey breast 1-2 hours (or even overnight) and take out an hour before you want to put it in the smoker.

Turkey breast butterflied open and spread with Citrus Cumin Garlic Butter

Prepare your smoker and bring it up to 225 degrees. Once it's at temp, place the turkey breast in the smoker, inserting a cooking thermometer into the center of the breast (my smoker came with a probe built in - convenient!). Smoke to an internal temp of 165 degrees basting occasionally with the basting liquid throughout the smoking time. When the probe registers 165, remove and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing thinly. And enjoy!

NOTE: Once you start smoking, you may never have to buy expensive lunch meats again. Leftovers make fantastic sandwiches and salads! In fact, my next post will feature a recipe for leftover smoked brisket...stay tuned.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Potato, Apple and Bacon Waffles

A week ago or so I made up a batch of these lovlies for breakfast and have been craving them ever since. Sweet and savory Potato, Apple and Bacon Waffles are kind of a mashup of a hearty German potato pancake and a sweet apple pancake baked on a waffle iron for extra crispiness and crunch. A little bacon is thrown in for a salty, smoky contrast to the sweet apple and for balance.

Why I waited to make them again is a puzzle to me, because they're so easy to put together...especially if you use precooked real bacon bits. Making dinner (or breakfast if you're more of a traditionalist) is simpler still when you start with frozen shredded hashbrown potatoes and just a little Bisquick. Who doesn't like a quick and easy breakfast-for-dinner recipe in their arsenal?!

Ready to make an easy "brinner" for the fam? Gentlemen (and ladies), start your waffle irons!

Potato, Apple and Bacon Waffles

Makes 8 waffles

  • 4 C frozen shredded hashbrown potatoes, thawed
  • 8 slices bacon, cut into dice, fried crisp (or 1/2-2/3 C REAL bacon bits
  • 2 apples, peeled and cored, cut into 1/4" dice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 6 T Bisquick (I use gluten-free Bisquick to make these GF)
  • 6 T milk
  • 1 t salt and extra for sprinkling on the finished waffles to really make the flavor pop!

Preheat your waffle iron while you toss the batter together.

In a large bowl, mix the potatoes and sprinkle with Bisquick. Add bacon, apples, egg, milk and salt. Mix all together well.

My waffle iron uses no oil; if yours needs to be oiled, prepare your iron as needed.

Use half the batter for the first batch of waffles, if your waffle iron makes 4 at a time like mine. I like to press down firmly on the waffle iron handle for 30 seconds or so to get good initial contact on both sides of the waffle - I think it produces a crisper waffle in the end.

Carefully remove the first batch of waffles and do the second. 

Serve with real maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt. Yes, I said salt. It makes a BIG difference!

NOTE: Leftover waffles? Put thinly sliced cheddar between two waffles and grill on both sides in a buttered skillet until the cheese is melted and the waffles crisp. Delish!

NOTE 2: Although I haven't tried it, I can't help but think these would make a kickass base for sausage gravy! Hmmmmmm......