Zucchini Cake

2 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup zucchini, grated

1/2 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat eggs; add sugar, oil and cinnamon. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to eggs.  Stir in zucchini.  Place in a 8×8 baking dish and bake at 350º for 30 to 35 minutes.

Use mixer to combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Mix in powdered sugar.

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Peanut Sauce

I learned to love peanut sauce (pindasaus) while living in The Netherlands.  An Indonesian meal just isn’t right without it!  This delicious sauce is a favorite of every member of our family.  We use it most often to smother skewers of chicken (Satay Ajam) or pork (Satay Babi), over vegetables (Gado Gado), or with mayonnaise and diced onions to top frites (Patatje Oorlog).  There are two kinds of people in the world; those who love peanut sauce, and those who haven’t eaten it often enough to crave it… yet!   

1⁄2 cup peanut butter
1⁄2 tsp garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
3 tbsp brown sugar
1⁄8 tsp hot curry powder
1⁄4 tsp sambal oelek (or to taste)

In saucepan, melt peanut butter; add garlic. Heat until texture is creamy. Add lemon juice and ketjap manis. Sauce will become quite thick. Stir in coconut milk, brown sugar, curry powder and sambal.

For a slight variation, I will often add a couple of teaspoons of fresh ginger, or even a little lemon grass.

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Clam Chowder

1-1/4 cups flour
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups clam juice
2 cups water
3/4 cup sherry
1 tsp Tabasco
4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
5 bay leaves
4 cups potatoes, diced
2 cups celery, diced
2 cup onion, diced
2 cup leeks, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 cups clams, chopped
2 qts half and half
2 tsp red wine vinegar

Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof container and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. In a large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients except half and half and vinegar. Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Add butter-flour mixture and stir until very thick. Remove chowder from heat. Stir in half and half until blended. Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally.  Stir in vinegar just prior to serving.

(Updated 27 Oct 2018)

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Belgian Frites

Ok, my friends, don’t get me started!  Just believe me when I say, Fries are NOT French!  Whether it be because of the style of the cut (frenched) or the native language of many of their early purveyors, french and fries have been erroneously linked as the name of a true Belgian creation, Frites!  Calling these spears of deliciousness French is, well, just wrong. 

Real frites are double fried, delivering a soft and fluffy interior and crisp exterior.   They are traditionally salted and served with mayonnaise.  But, if you are feeling a bit more  adventurous, try some of the typical toppings for Frites from the Netherlands and Belgium found under Serving Suggestions at the end of the recipe.  My personal favorite…  Patat Speciaal!

Large potatoes
Pepper (optional)

Wash and slice potatoes (either peeled or unpeeled) into thick strips; place in a large bowl of fresh cold water and soak for 20 minutes or more.  Heat oil to 275° to 300°.  Line a large paper bag with paper towels.  Fry sliced potato fries in batches for +/-5 minutes per batch being careful to keep oil temperature in range.  Place fried potatoes in prepared paper bag and allow to cool.  Increase oil temperature to 375° to 400°; fry in batches a second time for +/-5 minutes per batch.  Place fries on a baking dish lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt (and pepper, if desired) immediately.  Devour.

Real Belgian frites (french fries) are always pre-soaked in water and then fried twice.  This results in a crisp outside and fluffy interior.

Patat Met – Fries with mayonnaise
Patat Speciaal – Fries with mayonnaise, curry ketchup, and topped with onions
Patatje Oorlog – Fries with mayonnaise, peanut sauce, sambal oelek, and topped with onions
Patatje Joppie – Fries with mayonnaise mixed with  yellow curry spices, and topped with onions
Frieten met Stoofvlees – Fries with Belgian stew

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2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ginger powder
3/4 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

Combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl cream oil and sugar; beat in egg and add molasses.  Pour in dry ingredients and mix well.  Roll dough into small balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or on release foil) and bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly before removing cookies from cookie sheet.

(Updated 21 Dec 2018)

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Taco Sauce

1 can (7.75 oz) El Pato jalapeño sauce
1 can (7.75 oz) El Pato salsa de chile fresco
1 can (7.75 oz) El Pato salsa de tomate con jalapeño
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
black pepper

Combine all ingredients

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Chicken Gyro

On vacation in Corfu, Greece, we visited a small waterside restaurant where we ate the most amazing gyro.   Moist and tender, this true Greek gyro was nothing like the meatloaf-like gyro we find in the US.  This chicken version is a delicious reminder of our experiences on this family vacation.

4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt

2 English cucumbers, diced with water squeezed out
2 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp salt

1 English cucumber, diced
4-5 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 large red onion
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Flat bread or pita

Combine marinade ingredients in a gallon Ziploc bag; add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator (3 to 24 hours[overnight is best]).  In a medium mixing bowl, stir together sauce ingredients a minimum of 30 minutes prior to serving.  Next, combine all salad ingredients in a separate bowl.   Refrigerate sauce and salad until ready to serve.

Grill marinated chicken.

To serve, place some of the salad mixture in the center of flat bread; top with chicken and sauce.

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Good Chocolate Bundt Box Cake

1 pkg chocolate cake
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 pkg (8-oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2  cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all cake ingredients except chocolate chips.  Stir in chocolate chips and pour into a greased bundt cake pan.   Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes.  Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing.

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Blue Cheese Cheesecake

1 cup Ritz or Club crackers, crushed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
3 tbsp butter, melted
16 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup green onions, diced
2 cups water

Lightly spray a 6-inch springform pan with cooking spray.  Line base of springform pan with parchment using spray to keep in place.  Spray one additional coat of cooking spray.

Combine crackers, pecans and butter and press onto base and sides of springform pan.

Beat cream cheese, blue cheese, and cream until smooth.  Add basil garlic powder and white pepper; beat to combine.  Beat in eggs, one at a time until just combined.  Fold in green onions and pour into crust.  Tent with foil.

Place steamer insert in base of Instant Pot and add 2 cups water.  Layer a paper towel and two layers foil under springform pan and wrap up the sides with paper towel between springform pan and foil.  Carefully place cheesecake in the center of the pot.  Secure lid and close release valve.  Cook on manual setting at high pressure for 40 minutes.  When cooking is complete, allow Instant Pot to release and depressurize naturally.

Remove cheesecake from Instant Pot and cool on rack for 1 hour and in refrigerator for an additional 4 hours.  Remove cheesecake from springform pan and plate.  Serve with crackers, pears, apples, etc.

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4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center; add eggs and 1/2 of the milk in the center.  Whisk constantly until all of the flour is drawn in and incorporated into a thick mixture.  Add remaining milk and whisk until smooth.

Strain batter to remove lumps; rest for 30 minutes.

Brush pan with melted butter and cook each side until desired doneness is achieved.

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Cheesecake (Sous-vide)

This amazingly easy recipe uses a sous-vide bath with a mason jar to cook cheesecake to the perfect temperature. 

32-oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Prepare sous-vide using a pot deep enough to submerge a 1 gallon mason jar; preheat water to 80˚C.

Place cream cheese, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again until all ingredients are fully incorporated and no chunks remain.  Stir in buttermilk.  Pour contents into a 1 gallon mason jar; hand tighten lid.

Submerge filled mason jar in heated sous-vide bath and cook for 90 minutes; remove from bath and cool.  Spoon into bowls and serve with slightly crushed Golden Grahams cereal and your topping of choice.

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Red Cabbage and Wild Rice Slaw

8 oz wild rice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 1/2 tsp dill seed, coarsely ground
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 sm head red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare wild rice according to package instructions.

In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, Lawry’s seasoned salt, sugar, dill seed, shallots, dried cherries and cabbage.  Mix well and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in prepared wild rice, parsley and olive oil.  Season with salt and black pepper.

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Crio Bru-Spiced Pork Tenderloin (Sous-vide)

Sous-vide is a method of cooking in vacuum-sealed plastic pouches placed in a water bath at an accurately regulated temperature. This method cooks the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside.  The result is ridiculously moist, perfectly cooked food every time!  

Crio Brü-Spiced Pork Tenderloin is perfect served over Red Cabbage and Wild Rice Slaw!

2-3 tbsp Crio Bru
1 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
2 lb pork tenderloin
prepared mustard

Prepare sous-vide and preheat water to 57˚C.

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except pork and mustard.  Rinse tenderloin and pat dry with paper towels; rub with a very thin layer of mustard (just enough to help spice mix to stick).  Press spice mix onto all sides of tenderloin.  Once evenly coated with the rub mixture, place tenderloin in a vacuum seal bag and vacuum seal.

Fully submerge sealed tenderloin in preheated sous vide bath for about 90 minutes (up to six hours).

Heat a cast iron frying pan and brown on all four sides for about one minute per side.  Rest for 2-3 minutes before slicing into 1/4 slices (against the grain).

(*Note:  Click here to order less common ingredients or recommended tools for this recipe.)

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Asian Tomato Salad

2 lbs cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp sambal oelek
1 tbsp ketjap manis
2 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients and refrigerate for several hours before serving.



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Red Cabbage Salad

1 head red cabbage, shredded
3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in a large Ziploc bag.  Remove air and let stand in refrigerator for at least 8 hours (up to 4 days), turning regularly.  Add oil +/- 1 hour before serving.

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Pulled Pork

1 pork shoulder
apple juice
Worcestershire sauce
molasses or maple syrup
prepared mustard
pork rub (like 3-4 oz Spade L Ranch combined with 1-lb brown sugar)
apple wood pellets

Combine enough apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, and molasses (or maple syrup) [all to taste] to marinate pork shoulder (plus 1-2 cups reserved).  Marinate for 2-3 hours [or, inject the marinade into the pork].  Pat dry and coat with a thin coating of prepared mustard and then liberally coat all sides of the pork shoulder with rub.  Rest for about one hour to allow meat to approach room temperature and rub to begin to flavor the pork.

Preheat pellet smoker/grill to 180º; place pork shoulder on grill, fat side down.  When pork shoulder reaches an internal temperature of approximately 160º, tightly wrap in foil after adding a small amount of the apple juice marinade.  Increase the heat of the pellet grill to 225º.  Cook until internal temperature of pork shoulder reaches 195-200º.  Remove from grill and place in an insulated container for 30 plus minutes.  Shred pork shoulder and serve with rolls and coleslaw.

(Note: You can also finish the foil wrapped pork in an oven preheated to 225º until the internal temperature of 195-200º is reached and continue as outlined above.)

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Shrimp Ceviche

2 lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tomatoes
1/2 onion, diced
1 can (4 oz) diced jalapeño
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper, freshly ground
2 avocados, diced
1 tbsp olive oil

Place shrimp in rapidly boiling water for about 45 seconds and then immediately submerge in cool water to stop the cooking.  Combine all ingredients except avocado and olive oil in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for 3 hours.  Add avocados and olive oil and stir just before serving.

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Peppered Beef Jerky

1 bottle (12-oz) dark beer
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Morton Tender Quick Curing Salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 lbs beef, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients except beef and pour into a large Ziploc bag; add beef.  Refrigerate overnight.

Remove the beef from the marinade.  Dry the beef with paper towels. Sprinkle the beef slices generously on both sides with more pepper. Arrange the meat in a single layer the grill grate. Smoke for 4 to 5 hours at 150º, or until the jerky is dry but still chewy and somewhat pliable when bent. Transfer to a fresh Ziploc bag while the jerky’s still warm. Let the jerky rest for an hour at room temperature. Squeeze any air from the bag, and refrigerate the jerky.

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1-3 Rib Racks
Brown Sugar
Spice Rub
Yellow Mustard
Apple Juice
Worcestershire Sauce

Rinse ribs and pat dry with paper towels. If the membrane on the concave side of the ribs wasn’t removed by the butcher, use the handle of a spoon to open a space between the ribs and the membrane and remove.

In a mixing bowl, stir together spice rub and brown sugar (proportions to taste).  Apply an extremely light coating of mustard to the ribs (the mustard is for adhesion, not flavor).  Coat the concave side of each of the rib racks with the rub mixture. Flip the first rack and coat the convex side, being sure to coat the sides and ends. Repeat this process with the remaining racks and stack. Once all racks are thoroughly coated, wrap in foil and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Combine apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, and honey (to taste) and use this combination to spritz the ribs from time to time during the cooking process.

Remove rib racks from the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes prior to smoking. Heat the grill to 180°; place rib racks on the pellet grill, concave side down, and smoke for approximately three hours.

Remove from grill and increase grill temperature to 225°. Wrap ribs in foil, adding a small amount of the apple juice mixture; return to grill for approximately 2 hours. Check for doneness.  For fall off the bone tender ribs (technically overcooked), increase the cooking time while in foil. Remove foil and return to grill for approximately one hour, using your favorite barbecue sauce to glaze the ribs (if desired).

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Dan Dan Noodles

1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp sambal oelek
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 green onions, sliced
1 lb chicken or turkey, ground and cooked
2 pkgs fresh egg noodles, cooked
corn starch

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketjap manis
1 cup cooking wine
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups chicken broth

Heat wok; add oil. Sear sambal oelek, garlic, ginger, and green onion for 5 seconds to release flavors.  Add cooked ground chicken; sear, stirring and tossing for 5 to 10 seconds.

Add all sauce ingredients. Simmer for 20 seconds. Add egg noodles to boiling water and heat for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove noodles from water and place in strainer. Move to serving plate.

Thicken chicken and sauce with a mixture of corn starch and water (equal parts). Consistency should be a very thick sauce to stand on top of the noodles. Pour over center of noodles. Garnish with bean sprouts and julienned cucumbers.

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