Thursday, October 31, 2013

Poor Man’s Surf and Turf with Hot-Smoked Brisket

Son, Rhett (Madison’s dad), and family came in for the weekend and we planned to cook brisket, but due to a communication problem we were off by a day and discovered at 9am, it needed to be cooked that day.  My normal would have been to cook it at 225* all night, but I only had about 6 hours and decided to try the high temp cook I know some of the pros are using. 

After a little research, I decided to cook at a pit temperature of 300* and without my normal pan so I left a little more fat cap than usual.

I cooked to an internal meat temperature of 170*, then put it in a pan, poured on a can of beef broth and covered it with foil.  I then cooked until it passed the probe test then put the covered pan in a 165* oven until ready to serve.

The previous day, we had served shrimp to some friends and had extras, so we decided to grill them to go with the brisket using our normal char-grilled method.

I thought the brisket turned out very well this way with the major difference being the color of the bark as it got to 170* internal much quicker than normal – since I prefer a mahogany colored to a black bark this was fine for me.

Rhett had requested Bev’s super good Mexican Cornbread so we had it for lunch the next day with leftover brisket.

What a delicious and simple meal this was.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


10/13–10/14/2013 meal dates

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Western Trip – Wrap Up

After two fun filled days in the Kansas City area with Jackie and Dave, we drove for our two longest days (353 & 360 miles) to get home – we rolled into our place around 5:30pm on Oct.2 and it was nice to be out from behind the wheel - I could have spent longer on the trip though.

During our trip we visited the following National Parks & Memorials - Mt. Rushmore, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, Canyonlands, and Mesa Verde and I was awed by everyone.  We owe many of our predecessors a great debt of gratitude for having the vision to make the park system happen, beginning with Andrew Jackson who set aside the Federal Reservation in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1832.  Following this, explorers like John Wesley Powell, naturalists like John Muir, and of course Teddy Roosevelt have all helped to create what we now have.

One of the real trip highlights was meeting four blogger buddies for the first time plus reconnecting with some we'd met before. 
Our trip route included at least one night in the following places: Paducah KY, Goodfield IL, West Salem WI, Salem SD, Hill City SD, Billings MT, Garrison MT, Kalispell MT, Island Park ID, Victor ID, Salt Lake City UT, Moab UT, Cortez CO, Durango CO, Buena Vista CO, Littleton CO, Wakeeney KS, Oak Grove MO, and Sikeston MO.  The total trip covered 5300 miles and took 52 days – now we’re ready for a big trip.  We got 8.6 MPG towing a car, but after attending Camp Freightliner, I believe I can improve on that.

Madison keeps saying we should see the rest of the world and my response is that we’ve seen some of it and when we run out of places to go and people to meet in the good ole USA, or I get to old to drive the RV, then I’ll consider it.

I had a great time and we are now planning a winter trip to warmer climates, then other trips during the rest of 2014 – remember the Paladin theme song – have RV will travel reads the card of a man…

We hope you enjoyed riding along with us this time and will continue to tune in for our next adventures.

Postscript - After owning the RV for 8 months, I went off to Camp Freightliner in Gaffney, SC in mid. Oct. to learn about our chassis and it was a great two days of info about maintaining and driving the diesel machine.  Would you believe there was a couple at the school that we'd met in WI then saw again at two other campgrounds on our trip west.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


10/2/2013 event date

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Catching Up With David And Laurie

With our respective travels, we hadn’t seen our friends Laurie and Dave (Big Daddy Dave) for a couple of months so we invited them over for an appetizer dinner and a visit.

We started off with some focaccia bread (brought by them) dipped in olive oil flavored with fresh herbs and parmesan.

Next up was some Spicy Maple Bacon Wrapped Shrimp using the recipe from Inspired Taste.  I’m not sure how I found it but I’ve listed the ingredients below – please click on the link and go to original site for the complete recipe and some good how-to shots.

10 pieces thinly sliced bacon
20 extra large (16/20) shrimp (about 1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sriracha hot chili sauce
Juice of half a lemon
Sliced green onion (garnish) I forgot it

We all thought the shrimp were very good even though the bacon I used was just okay.  Next time I’ll use really good bacon and a little more sriracha or make extra sauce for drizzling at the end.

The last dish we served offered an opportunity for a taste test and you know we love to do them around Almost Heaven South.  My original plan for this meal was to just grill/smoke some wings and toss in hot sauce until Heather from Rocky Mountain Cooking posted an adaptation of the wings I had cooked while visiting in Denver.  I'd planned to just try her version at some point, but could not pass up the taste test opportunity.

After a toss with canola oil, I seasoned the wings with S&P, and cooked with indirect heat in the 275* gas grill to an internal temp of 155* - apple wood chips in foil packets provided the smoke.  At this point they took two different paths as batch one got my normal treatment of cooking over direct heat to crisp the skins followed by a toss in my go-to wing sauce from Chef Dennis.  

The second batch was tossed in the sauce immediately after smoking then grilled over direct heat to achieve a little char on them, then tossed in sauce again.  I put both on the same plate but the ones on the lower right with the char are the second version.

Both versions were delicious, but version two (Heather's) was the consistent favorite and I’m not surprised as I’ve always liked my grilled chicken with a little char on it.  Next time I’ll do another test on Heather's version only by cooking one batch like the above and the second batch by basting a few times with the sauce rather than giving them the final toss in it.  Thanks Heather for posting your adaptation.

We finished off a fun evening with a nice dessert of provided by Laurie and David.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


10/12/2013 event date

Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Western Trip – A Day In KC

As of Oct. 2, we are back at Almost Heaven South and the 5300 mile trip is in the books, but I will continue to post our adventures, in order, unless something important happens around here.

Our first evening in KC was at the rodeo, the second day was at a big whoop dee doo BBQ in the cul-de-sac at the Scott’s, and the third day was spent around Kansas City.  I didn’t post about the whoop dee doo since Dave did, but let me say he went all out and layed on some super good food for us and his friends, who we enjoyed spending time with.  

Here are the links to his posts: 

I just can't imagine all of the thought and work that Dave put into this magnificent meal - at least he got 14 blog posts out of it - please check them out, especially the turkey - best I ever ate.

This was our second trip to the KC area and since I ate no BBQ  the first time, I didn’t want to make that mistake again, so we began the day at the original Oklahoma Joe's for lunch – located in a gas station.

Their advertised hours are 11am - 9pm and when arrived at 10:50am service had started and there was a short line.  I decided to try just meat and since the least I could order was ½ lb each, I got brisket, pork, and sausage.

When we left, the the short line upon our arrival had grown and was through the restaurant and out the door.

I thought the Que was very good for a restaurant and I enjoyed that Bev said she preferred my BBQ to theirs – what else matters but pleasing my honey.

After the lunch, the girls went shopping in the Plaza Shopping District which contains many works of art and fountains.

Dave and I headed to Independence, MO for a visit to the Harry Truman Museum - my first presidential museum/library.

After their shopping and our touring, we met up for a drink and good-bys while Jackie contemplated the impending government shutdown and likely furlough.  We had a great time with them and won't miss the opportunity for another visit if ever in the area.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/30/2013 event date

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2013 Western Trip – Let’s Head to KC - Rodeo

Getting back to our RV trip- from Denver, we just got on I-70 and pointed the RV east, with the first stop at the KOA in Wakeeney, KS.  It was a nice park but since some severe storms arrived shortly after us (we’d already driven thru them), I didn’t get any shots, but it was very nice and I’d stay there again.

The next day, we drove more I-70 (good road in Kansas) past a 20 mile long wind farm and millet fields with oil wells, through Kansas City to the Oak Grove, MO KOA.

We wanted to have KC behind us for the next leg of the trip.  The park was okay, but we’ve stayed in several KOAs, that were on a slope which makes the area between sites not as usable.  Check in was very friendly and efficient and the office/ store and laundry were all 4 star.

After setting up and resting up, we met Jackie, Dave (My Year On The Grill  & Inspired by and their son for a night at the American Royal Rodeo – a first for me.  I couldn’t really get any good action shots but here are a few others to get the idea.

I had a blast and it fulfilled a trip long desire of Bev’s to see a rodeo.  I thought bareback bronc riding should rip your body apart and the little kids riding sheep and later trying to rope a calf and drag it into a circle had me in stiches.  Thanks Jackie and Dave for a really fun evening.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/27 – 9/28/2013 event dates

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Southwestern Style Eggrolls

This meal is based on something we learned and something we brought home from our RV trip out west. The learning – as with this breakfast in Durango, CO, it’s becoming common to wrap chile rellenos in egg roll wrappers rather than use the normal egg batter.

The something – several bags of frozen roasted hatch chiles from Denver.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I occasionally get testy when folks radically change a dish and call it the same thing – names soon lose their meaning.  A chile relleno is one of a variety of chile peppers, stuffed with cheese and/or meat, dipped in an egg batter and fried, and my dish is something different.  In searching the web, I found recipes for Southwestern Style Egg Rolls and my dish seemed to fit them. 

For this dish, I found a recipe for Mexican Stuffed Peppers and adapted the stuffing for our taste and ingredients on hand - at some point, I want to try the original.

14 anaheim type Hatch chiles – roasted, peeled, seeded, tops removed
1½ small red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cloves roasted garlic, minced (we just happened to have these from the pepper roasting)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. raw Mexican-style chorizo, removed from casings
1 cup cooked rice, optional
3 tbsp. chile verde
2¼ tbsp. dried cilantro, finely chopped
1½ tsp. dried oregano
¾ tsp. of cumin
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup Jack cheese, shredded
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3/8 cup cotija cheese, grated (I used the on-hand well crumbled Feta)
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste (after mixing everything together)
14 Large egg roll wrappers
One egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. milk
Chile verde to taste (or sauce of your choice)

1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the burger for about 5 minutes, gently breaking it up with a wooden spoon. 
2. Stir in the onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 more minutes. 
3. Then add the chile verde, oregano, cilantro, roasted garlic, and cumin. Mix well and cook a couple of minutes before transferring to a large bowl.
4. Cook the chorizo in the same pan, spoon out the rendered fat and add the chorizo to the bowl.  (Cooked separately so the grease could be removed).
5. Add rice, sour cream, and feta cheese to the bowl with the meat mixture and mix until combined. Let set for about 30 minutes for flavors to meld then taste and adjust seasonings.
6. Make an egg wash by beating the egg and milk together.
7. I used this tutorial on making egg rolls and made them as it showed by laying out the egg roll wrapper, adding a chile in the middle, followed by as much stuffing as it would hold.

8. Preheat toaster oven to 200 degrees F and heat a pan of oil to 365*.
9. I cooked the rolls two at a time, turning once, until golden brown and kept them warm on a rack in the oven while I cooked the others.  
10. To serve, I topped them with salsa verde (which was pretty thick from Jan's) and a mix of cheddar and jack cheese and we sided them with refried beans.

We all thought they were very good and Bev commented that the wrapper stayed crispy til the last bite.  As far as I can remember, this was my first time with egg roll wrappers and I will definitely use this process again and try differing fillings (may never buy another pre-made egg roll). 

For this recipe, the three things I’d change are using more green chiles (or salsa verde) but dicing them and mixing with the meat, adding more spiciness (heat) to the filling with pepper powder or jalapenos, and adding the cheese and melting under the broiler prior to adding the chile verde.  

I also might try stuffing the whole roasted peppers (like rellenos) then adding the egg roll wrappers.  Like pasta, pizza dough, eggs, etc., stuffing egg roll wrappers is limited only by ones imagination.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


10/10/2013 meal date

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday Humor - Bush's Advisors

G. W. Bush was very depressed that people were saying he is stupid. So he calls his good friend Queen Elizabeth, who says, "Now George, what you need to do is to surround yourself with smart people. Let me show you."

She conference calls Tony Blair in and asks, "Tony, your parents had a baby. It isn't your sister and it isn't your brother. Who is it?"

Tony Blair replies, "It's me!" and hangs up.

G.W. Bush then calls Dick Cheney and says, "Dick, your parents had a baby. It isn't your sister and it isn't your brother. Who is it?"

And Cheney says, "Wow, that's a tough one. Let me get back to you."

So Cheney calls Colin Powell and says, "Colin, your parents had a baby. It isn't your sister and it isn't your brother. Who is it?"

And Colin Powell says, "It's me!"

So Cheney calls Bush and says, "It's Colin Powell."

And Bush says, "No, you idiot! It's Tony Blair!"

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

2013 Western Trip – JaJa Bistro & Rib’s On The Grill

As of Oct. 2, we are back at Almost Heaven South and the 5300 mile trip is in the books, but I will continue to post our adventures, in order, unless something important happens around here.

While in the Denver area, Bob and Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) wanted us to dine at their favorite little French Restaurant – JaJa Bistro in Littleton. 

It was a cozy little restaurant with few customers at the time so we got really good service.  If you look at the online dinner menu, you will find only three entrees which they supplement with daily specials.  After sharing a couple plates of outstanding Bacon Wrapped Apple Stuffed Dates for an appetizer, we ordered our entrees:

Pat went with the Steak au Poivre which came with mushrooms.

Bev had the Millefeuilles d’Aubergines (eggplant)

Lea Ann ordered the Duck Breast In Wine Sauce special.

I opted for the Trout Almondine special.

Since I didn’t get a shot, I couldn’t remember what Bob had.

The meals were all professionally presented and those I tasted were very good.  Check out Lea Ann’s blog for some more shots and info.

Over the time that Lea Ann and I have been blogger buddies, I’ve encouraged her to use her grill as a smoker but I believe to no avail.  While visiting this time, we decided that Bob and I would cook up some ribs, while Lea Ann worked and my girls went shopping.  I also smoked some wings and tossed in hot sauce for an appetizer. Since I didn’t get any shots, please click on Lea Ann’s link above.

As I just happened to have the rub with me, I made the same ribs I'd made for the blogger party and for the wings, I smoked them to almost done, grilled them over direct heat to crisp-up, and tossed them in my go-to wing sauce from Chef Dennis at A Culinary Journey With Chef Dennis.  Both meats seemed to be a big hit and now that they know how to cook them on their Highlands Ranch gas grill, I have high hopes for a future BBQ or smoked salmon blog post from Lea Ann.

Just as last year, we had a great time with Bob & Lea Ann and this year with the addition of new blogger buddy Heather and we appreciate the time they were willing to devote to us.  

Hopefully they’ll be able to come east at some point and spend a little time with us.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South. 


9/25–9/26/2013 meal dates

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 Western Trip – No No’s Café In Littleton & Roasted Chiles

While we were sitting around the campfire the previous evening, Bob suggested we go to breakfast at No No’s Café the next morning and we all quickly agreed.  While no shots were taken the previous night, we were all prepared with cameras for this meal.  Here are a couple of shots of the Café.

Bob took a shot of us then the waitress got one of the whole group - Heather, Pat, Bob, Larry, Bev, Lea Ann.

I’ve been on a potatoes-and-eggs kick lately and ordered the Hash Brown Pie which was a mix of peppers, onions, tomatoes, bacon, cheese and hash browns along with two over easy eggs.  This is how it looked after I fixed it.

Bev and Lea Ann had a breakfast burrito – humongous as usual - Bev and I shared the leftovers the next morning.

Pat had Texas French Toast.

Bob and Heather had the Cajun Grits and Eggs described as: Green onions, bacon pieces, cheese, roasted jalapenos, pepper jack and cheddar cheese, Cajun seasoning and butter (no photo of it).

Everyone seemed to really like their meals, especially those with bacon in them (all but Pat’s) – it was very good bacon.

After breakfast we followed Hearther over to a little outdoor market to pick up some roasted chiles that were from Hatch, NM - Chile Capital of the World.  We also picked up some green and red chile powder.

We got a bushel of the mild Anaheim type chiles and we split a half bushel of roasted jalapenos with Heather and Lea Ann.  The direct flame tumbling roasters they use work better than my grill as it quickly blisters the skin which cooks the peppers less, so they are sturdier to work with.

We ended up with five quart bags of chiles and a quart of jalapenos in the freezer and I'm looking forward to using them soon.  When I’ve grown and roasted my own chiles, I had always peeled and seeded them prior to freezing but the young man doing the roasting advised that this was a mistake as I was tossing most of the flavor and I should peel and seed them after thawing and just before using.

Please check Lea Ann's blog for more shots and info.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/23/2013 event date