Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fool-Proof Classic BBQ Chicken

For my inaugural post, I though I should mention that all of the grilling I do is on a gas grill. I do not have any real experience in cooking over Charcoal, but may give it a go when my current gas grill dies. All of the recipes I post will thus be based upon a gas grill, but are easily adapted to charcoal.

Last night, I made my BBQ chicken. This recipe is really a conglomeration of several different recipes and procedures, but it turns out really well. The only place where this recipe can really go wrong is if you are over-zealous with the heat when trying to get the chicken completely cooked through, so be careful and your patience will be rewarded.

Fool-Proof Classic BBQ Chicken

1 Whole cut-up chicken (8 pcs.)

1 1/2 t. Sweet Paprika
1 1/2 t. Kosher salt
1 1/2 t. Brown Sugar
1 t. Black Pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1/4 t. celery seed.

2 C Wood chips or chunks

1 1/2 C. BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)

  1. Dry the chicken and apply the rub, reserving 1T of the rub. Let set in the fridge for an hour.
  2. Soak wood chips (I prefer Hickory for chicken) for 30 minutes
  3. Use a smoke box, or a beggar's purse made out of aluminum foil and put the soaked wood chips in. Put this on one side of the grill and turn all burners of the grill on high, until smoke starts.
  4. Turn off one side of the grill.
  5. Clean and oil the grill grates
  6. Place chicken on the cool side of the grill, away from the heat. Cook for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken begins to brown.
  7. Mix the reserved rub into the BBQ sauce.
  8. Move the chicken as close to the hot side of the grill as possible, without actually being on the hot side of the grill. Slather the Chicken pieces with the BBQ sauce every 5 minutes for 20 minutes.
  9. Move the chicken over the hot part of the grill (I just turn the cold burner back on to Medium-Low) and continue slathering with BBQ sauce every 5 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches required temperature (White Meat ~160, Dark Meat ~170)
  10. Remove chicken from the heat and tent with foil for 10 minutes before serving.
Our six year old greets nearly every meal, whether we have had it or not, with a rousing "I don't like that." Last night, he could barely contain himself and did not say a word, except asking for napkins, until the thigh he was eating had been completely disassembled. He really loves this chicken.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brined Pork Chops

Last night we had Brined Pork Chops. I used Alton's Stuffed Grilled Pork Chop brine, but didn't stuff the chops. These always turn out well. I use whatever chops I have on hand. Last night it was butterflied chops. I used the brine as instructed and grilled about 7 minutes on a side. They turned out really well.

Brined Pork Chops

4 double thick bone-in loin end pork chops
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 cups cider vinegar, heated
1 pound ice cubes

In a plastic container put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and mustard powder. Add the hot vinegar and swirl to dissolve. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes to develop flavor. Add ice cubes and shake to melt most of the ice. Add chops and cover with brine. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove chops from container and rinse. Grill 6-7 minutes on a side. Let rest a few minutes and enjoy.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Chess Cake

We tried a Chess Pie over the weekend. It was good, very lemony and not really what we were after. My husband remembered something from when he was young in Louisville, Ky. So I looked up a Chess Cake and found several recipes to try. I settled on one from Allrecipes. This cake seems very much like Paula Dean's Gooey Butter Cake, although I've never made one. This recipe uses 2 eggs in the crust layer, many only use 1; and 4 cups powdered sugar in the filling, most use 1 lb. (approx. 4 3/4 cups) powdered sugar. So this is probably one of the more gooey Chess Cakes. I also added about 1 tsp. vanilla to the filling. It was really good. Our 4 year old thought we should make it again, so I guess it's a winner.

Chess Cake


  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9 x 13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Put into prepared pan.
  3. In another bowl, Beat cream cheese until smooth. Blend in 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla, and 2 eggs. Gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar. Pour over the crust mixture already in the pan.
  4. Bake for 1 hour. Cool.

Blackened Chicken

Tonight we had Blackened Chicken. This is a summertime go to recipe from Quick Cooking (now Simple & Delicious). I make at least a double batch of the rub and keep it in a spice jar in the cupboard. I even printed out the ingredient list on a sticker on the side of the bottle so it's easy to mix up some more. The mayonnaise sauce is really tasty and goes well instead of sour cream on potatoes. I keep some on hand in the refrigerator. I usually only start with about 1/2 cup of the sauce for basting. We usually have some grilled potato wedges (quartered length-wise, oiled, seasoned with salt and pepper; grill, covered 9-12 minutes; turn twice).

Blackened Chicken

This spicy standout from Stephanie Kenney packs a one-two punch of flavor. The grilled chicken is basted with a peppery white sauce. "Plus there's plenty of extra sauce left over for dipping," writes the Falkville, Alabama reader.

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1-1/3 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar


    In a small bowl, combine paprika, I teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, thyme, lemon-pepper, cayenne and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper; sprinkle over both sides of chicken. Set aside. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, water, vinegar and remaining sugar, salt and pepper; cover and chill 1 cup for serving. Save remaining sauce for basting. Grill chicken, covered, over indirect medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting frequently with remaining sauce. Serve with reserved sauce. Yield: 4 servings.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maple-Glazed Pork Roast with Smoked Paprika

On Sunday, for Mother's Day, we made the Maple-Glazed Pork Roast from Cook's Illustrated (3/2003). It turned out really good. No real surprise from Cook's Illustrated. We had made this one once before, so I had some idea what I was doing. The only problem I had was at the end when you reduce the sauce. I got away from the pot for a minute and it started to burn. I did the same thing and had to make more sauce the first time I made it. This time I was able to salvage enough sauce for the meal. And I took the smoking pan right outside so the house wouldn't be filled with smoke. So, note to self, stay with the pan while the sauce reduces. But this is a really good recipe.

Maple-Glazed Pork Roast with Smoked Paprika

A nonstick oven-proof skillet will be much easier to clean than a traditional one. Whichever you use, remember that the handle will be blistering hot when you take it out of the oven, so be sure to use a pot holder or oven mitt. Note that you should not trim the pork of its thin layer of fat. The flavor of grade B maple syrup (sometimes called "cooking maple") is stronger and richer than grade A, but grade A syrup will work well, too. This dish is unapologetically sweet, so we recommend side dishes that take well to the sweetness. Garlicky sauteed greens, braised cabbage, and soft polenta are good choices.

Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup maple syrup , preferably grade B
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (hot)

pinch ground cloves

pinch cayenne pepper
1 boneless pork loin roast , preferably blade-end, (about 2 1/2 pounds), tied at even intervals along length with 5 pieces butcher's twine
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Stir maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves, smoked paprika, and cayenne together in measuring cup or small bowl; set aside. Pat roast dry with paper towels, then sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed oven-proof 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke, about 3 minutes. Place roast fat-side down in skillet and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, rotate roast one-quarter turn and cook until well browned, about 2 1/2 minutes; repeat until roast is well browned on all sides. Transfer roast to large plate. Reduce heat to medium and pour off fat from skillet; add maple syrup mixture and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds (syrup will bubble immediately). Off heat, return roast to skillet; using tongs, roll to coat roast with glaze on all sides. Place skillet in oven and roast until center of roast registers about 135 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 35 to 45 minutes, using tongs to roll and spin roast to coat with glaze twice during roasting time. Transfer roast to carving board; set skillet aside to cool slightly to thicken glaze, about 5 minutes. Pour glaze over roast and let rest 15 minutes longer (center of loin should register about 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer). Snip twine off roast, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lisa's Decadent and Ohhh So Evil Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Caramel Ripple Cheesecake

Oh my goodness gracious. I made Lisa's Decadent and Ohhh So Evil Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Caramel Ripple Cheesecake from La Mia Cucina. This was oh so over the top wonderful. It's rich, moist, yummy... The words just escape me. Thank you Lisa. If you enjoy an over the top, fabulous cheesecake, this is one to try. Please check out Lisa's post for her comments and pictures.

Lisa's Decadent and Ohhh So Evil Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Caramel Ripple Cheesecake - or LDOSEPBDCCRC.

For the crust:
2-3 c. chocolate wafer cookies, crushed finely (I used chocolate graham crackers, 2 pks.)
1/2 c. salted butter, melted + butter for greasing pan

For the cheesecake:
2 lbs. cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 c. white granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 c. sour cream
1/3 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. peanut butter
10 mini Butterfingers, crushed in food processor
1/2 jar of store bought butterscotch-caramel ice cream topping
1/3 semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

For the peanut butter sauce:
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Crush the wafer cookies in a food processor. Set aside. Repeat process with the mini Butterfinger bars, crushing them as finely as you'd like.

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease 11" springform pan with butter. Double layer foil wrap the bottom of the pan.

Mix the crushed wafer cookies with the melted butter and press into the bottom and up the sides of your springform pan. Set aside.

Blend the cream cheese until it's creamy. Gradually add the sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, and only blend until each egg is incorporated. Add the sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Remove 1 1/2 c. of the cream cheese mixture and set aside in a bowl. Add the peanut butter to the original mixture and blend until incorporated. Add the crushed Butterfinger bites.

Blend the melted chocolate into the reserved 1 1/2 c. batter and then spread evenly over the cookie crust. Pour the peanut butter batter over the chocolate layer and spread evenly. Dollop the butterscotch-caramel sauce over the top and then using a toothpick or the tip of a thin knife, swirl the sauce into the batter.

Place the springform pan into roasting pan then fill the roasting pan with 1 1/2 - 2 inches of hot water. Carefully place roasting pan onto middle rack and bake for 1 hour, 5 minutes or until the cake is set. Be careful to not over bake. Cool the cake at room temperature for about an hour, then using a very thin knife, run along the edges of cake to loosen it from the springform pan. Remove the ring of the springform and place cake on dish or serving platter and chill over night.

To make the sauce:
Cook the milk and peanut butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring often until thickened (less than 3 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Drizzle over slices of cheesecake. Leftover sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Last night was a simple meal of brats, dogs, leftover Baked Beans and Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese. This was a new recipe for us. It took a little longer to get together than I thought, but only by a few minutes. It was really nice to have macaroni and cheese that really tastes like something. I enjoyed it. Now if only my boys would eat it. I think they had a problem with the onion, so next time I may leave that out. There was a good bit of onion flavor, but in a good way. I'm not a huge onion fan either. I like them cooked in foods, but generally not as a major flavor component. But this was really good.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: For Whom the Cheese Melts 2
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
Remember to save leftovers for fried Macaroni and Cheese.

Baked Beans

With the BBQ chicken, we had Alton Brown's Once and Future Beans. This was our second try at this recipe. I'm just not a big bean fan. But these were really good. The first time we made them the cast iron pan was pretty new and the beans picked up a metallic taste. A couple years and lots of cooking later, the beans turned out really good and did not have any metallic taste. I would strongly recommend getting preseasoned cast iron. They cost more, but you don't have as much problem with foods coming out tasting of iron. Although I seem to be more sensitive to the taste than anyone else at our house. As far as the recipe goes, we followed it more or less. I covered the beans to soak them and added more water a couple hours later so they were still covered. And it seems that 6 hours was plenty of time for cooking. At closer to 8 hours, the beans were starting to break up.

The Once and Future Beans
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
Vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Soak beans in a plastic container overnight in just enough cold water to submerge them completely.

Place a cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the bacon, onion, and jalapenos until enough fat has rendered from the bacon to soften the onions, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, and molasses.

Drain the beans and reserve the soaking liquid. Add the drained beans to the Dutch oven. Place the soaking liquid in a measuring cup and add enough vegetable broth to equal 4 cups of liquid. Add the liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in cayenne, black pepper and salt. Give them a stir and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Foolproof Barbecued Chicken

Last Sunday we made one of our summer favorites, Foolproof Barbecued Chicken from Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA. We pretty much follow the recipe, but we use cut up chicken instead of cutting down the bird ourselves and we use Sweet Baby Ray's regular sauce instead of the optional Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce. This chicken is far better than any roadside cooker you'll find.

Foolproof Barbecued Chicken

Indirect grilling

Advance Preparation:
1 to 2 hrs for curing the chicken

For the Chicken and Rub:
3 - 4 lbs. cut up chicken
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. celery seed

For the Mop Sauce:
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. rub reserved from above

2 cups prepared barbecue sauce

You'll also need:
2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferable hickory), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained

  1. Blot dry the chicken pieces with paper towels.
  2. Make the rub: Combine the salt, paprika, brown sugar, pepper, onion and garlic powders, and celery seed in a small bowl and stir to mix. Set aside 1 tbsp. of the rub for the mop sauce. Sprinkle the remaining rub over the chicken on both sides, patting ti into the meat with your fingertips. Let the chicken cure in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Make the mop sauce: Combine the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and remaining 1 tbsp. of rub with 1/2 cup water in a nonreactive mixing bowl and stir until the salt and brown sugar dissolve.
  4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. (Gas grill)Place the wood chips or chunks in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.
  5. When ready to cook, place the chicken halves in the center of the hot grate, skin side up, away from the heat. Cover and grill until cooked through, 40 to 60 minutes. The dark meat should read 180 degrees. After the first 20 minutes of grilling, baste the chicken with the mop sauce every 10 minutes while it cooks. Be sure to baste both sides of the chicken.
  6. During the last 3 minutes brush the chicken with 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. Move the chicken pieces directly over the fire to sizzle and brown the sauce on both sides.
  7. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest 3 minutes. Serve with remaining sauce.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Chicken Salad and Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Saturday we tried the Chicken Mole Enchiladas from Kirsten's Home Cooking Adventures. They were pretty good. I think they might need a bit of salt but otherwise a good recipe. I think we could have used 2 cups of chicken and made closer to 12 enchiladas. I got 9 out of it and they were well filled. There was plenty of sauce for more enchiladas.

I had some extra chicken left over from the enchiladas so I decided to make some chicken salad for lunch the next day. I didn't actually measure anything for the chicken salad, but this should be about what I did:

Chicken Salad

1 cup cooked chicken
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
1 1/2 tsp. mustard
1 stalk celery, diced
salt & pepper to taste

Mix together and serve on bread of your choice. If it's too dry, add some more mayo.

We sometimes add a chopped hard boiled egg too.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Banana Pecan Buttermilk Pancakes

I've been using this recipe of about 6 years now. It came from Food TV's Cooking Live with Sara Moulton. I did enjoy her show. The only problem I've had is that it's just too thick so I end up using some extra buttermilk to get it to the consistency I want. And then I still usually spread them out with the back of the scoop. We usually just use maple syrup for serving, but the recipe came with Berry/Maple Syrup. I've never tried to make that though.

Banana Pecan Buttermilk Pancakes
Recipe courtesy of Georgia Downard
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, or to taste
2 very ripe medium bananas (about 12 to 14 ounces)
2/3 cups pecans, toasted lightly and chopped
Softened butter or vegetable oil, for cooking the pancakes

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, butter and vanilla. Whisk the dry ingredients into the liquid until combined well.

Chop fine the banana and add it to the batter along with the pecans.

Heat a griddle over moderate heat until hot enough to make a drop of water scatter over surface and brush with butter or oil. Working in batches, drop 1/4 cup measures of batter onto griddle to form pancakes and cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip pancakes with a metal spatula and cook until undersides are golden brown and pancakes are cooked through, about 1 minute.

Serve with Berry-Maple Syrup, recipe follows.

Recipe courtesy of Georgia Downard

1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup picked over berries, such as blackberries or strawberries, stemmed and
halved or raspberries or blueberries

In a saucepan set over moderate heat combine the syrup with the cinnamon stick and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the berries and simmer for 1 minute. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Yield: about 2 1/2 cups

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Milk Chocolate Strawberry Banana Muffins

So I looked in the fridge and there were strawberries well past their prime for eating uncooked and bananas that were calling out to make banana bread or muffins. I had 1 lb. strawberries and 4 bananas so I modified the recipe for a double batch of Banana Nut Bread. I thought I might have to add extra flour to make up for the liquid in the strawberries, but the texture was fine without any adjustment. Here's what I did:

Milk Chocolate Strawberry Banana Muffins
makes 3 dozen muffins

2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening (I like butter flavored Crisco)
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and mashed
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs, bananas and dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips; stir in lightly. Do not overbeat. Spoon into greased regular or mini muffin cups. (I use a #20 scoop for regular muffins and a #60 scoop for mini muffins.) Bake for about 30 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick. I usually smell them when they're about done. Cool in the pan about 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to finish cooling.