Poppers that Pop

If you are just in the mood for a bite sized treat or making something for the big game jalapeno poppers are sure to please. These little spicy bites of heaven have been passed around parties for as long as I can remember and since there never seem to be any leftover the next day I will go out on a limb and say that people must really like them. I know I do. I have tried many different varieties over the years and everyone seems to have their own special way of doing them. Some swear by the type of bacon you need or the size of the jalapeno and even the brand of cream cheese for the perfect flavor. For some its a science and for others its just something you throw together to please the party goers. Either way they always seem to turn out great. For this recipe I have taken a couple of elements from several different poppers that I have tried and come up with what I will now call my “go to popper”.

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What you need. (This is for a small batch to serve 3 to 4 people)

12 large raw jalapenos (whole)

1 8oz container of Philadelphia fat free cream cheese

1 lb hickory smoked bacon

1 lb maple breakfast sausage

at least 24 toothpicks

Prep and cooking.

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First get the sausage started cooking in a pan on the stove over medium heat. You want to get it nice and brown and crunchy for texture.

Now while the sausage is cooking, cut the stem end off of the peppers and then cut them in half long ways so it looks like you have a fleet of little green boats. Be sure to remove all of the seeds and white membrane inside.

The sausage should now be done and ready to drain any fat off of. Just line a bowl with paper towels and poor the sausage in. The paper towels will absorb most of the fat. Now gently pull the paper towels out from under the sausage and out of the bowl. You will leave a little fat in there but it will be fine because you have gotten most of it out. Now mix in the cream cheese with the sausage until you get a nicely mixed paste.

Now for the fun part.

With a spoon go ahead and start filling each jalapeno half to the top. You don’t want it to overflow that much but make sure it is full.

Once you have all of the halves full open the bacon and cut the entire slab in half. Half a slice of bacon is perfect to wrap around the center of the jalapeno. You will hold the bacon in place by sliding a toothpick through from one side to the other.

Now it is time to cook them. You can do this a couple of different ways. My preferred method is on the grill. Turn it on medium high heat and let the grill heat up. If you have a top rack I like to sit them up there for a few minutes with the grill closed but it is not needed. Place the poppers on the grill and cook until the bacon looks done. You don’t want to get it too crisp but you do want it to be thoroughly cooked. You will most likely get a few black ends but don’t worry, they taste better that way.

You may want to keep a spray bottle of water on hand while cooking these. The bacon is going to drip and it will cause flare ups when the grease catches on fire.

That is how you make poppers that pop. They turned out great and that is why these will now be my “go to poppers”. If you are feeling a little adventurous try sprinkling just a little garlic powder on top before sticking them on the grill.

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I hope that you all enjoy these.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

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Simple Crockpot BBQ

To some people BBQ is a way of life. They have their grill and their smoker and know how to make their own sauce and rubs. I am one of those people and love coming up with new ways to make great BBQ. I also know there are a lot of people that don’t have the time or resources to go through all of that trouble but still love good BBQ. That reason is why I have come up with this little recipe. I wanted to make it easy for people that love great BBQ but may not have access to a smoker or grill to make their own at home with very little trouble. All you need is a crock pot a knife and a few ingredients from the grocery store.

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Here is how its done.

Ingredients:

1 beef brisket (2 to 4 lbs cut in half with fat trimmed off)

1 yellow onion (cut into thin slices)

3 jalapenos (diced)

1 bottle of BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)

2 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke

8 pieces of garlic toast (Texas toast)

Dill pickle Hamburger slices

Salt (2 tablespoons)

Black pepper (2 tablespoons)

Garlic powder (1 tablespoons)

Chili powder (3 tablespoons)

Cooking:

In the bottom of a large crock pot place the onion and jalapeno then lay the brisket on top. Now add all of the spices and cover with about half of the BBQ sauce and two tablespoons of the liquid smoke. You will now want to add just enough water to cover the top of the brisket. Then put the lid on the crock pot and cook on high for about 5 to 6 hrs.

After 5 to 6 hrs reduce heat to low and let cook another 2 to 3 hrs. What you want is for the brisket to get tender enough to pull apart with a fork.

After the brisket is done cooking move the pieces to a large bowl and start shredding it apart. Use a slotted spoon and add a couple of spoonfuls of the onion and jalapeno pieces from the crock pot and then add the rest of the BBQ sauce and mix it all together. While that is cooling heat up the oven and cook your garlic toast according to the directions on the box.

Once the garlic toast is done you are ready to assemble your sandwich. Place a big spoonful of the BBQ beef on a slice of garlic bread then add about 3 to 4 pickle slices to the top and place another piece of garlic toast on top to finish it off. You may also want to take it a step farther by adding some pickled red onions which really give it a nice zing.

I know some of you may think using the garlic toast as the sandwich bread is a little odd but trust me on this. It is a way of life to eat BBQ this way on the east coast and there is nothing quite like it.

All that is left to do is sit back and enjoy some great tasting BBQ.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Brunswick Stew

Today we are going to talk about an old southern classic and family favorite of mine, Brunswick stew.  This is a nice hearty BBQ style stew that packs a lot of flavor into each bite. If you search for Brunswick stew online you are going to find many different recipes and and ways to prepare this stew and you will see that many of them are completely different in their approach to doing it. There are so many variations in fact that its hard to imagine most of them tasting how this stew should taste which is why I set out to see if I could do it justice. When I was coming up with this recipe taste was first and foremost on my mind. Brunswick stew has a unique flavor that has a hint of BBQ, a little smokiness, a little sweet taste and a great black pepper flavor. Traditionally this stew is mostly made with left over BBQ bits. If you have left over pork, brisket, chicken etc, they all get shredded up and tossed into a pot with a bunch of veggies and cooked into a stew. This is what gives this stew its unique BBQ taste. Surprisingly I did not have any left overs this time so I went in a little bit different direction but it still came out pretty amazing.

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Here is what you need.

Crock Pot

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia if you can find them) (diced)

2 Jalapenos (chopped with seeds)

1 small bag frozen Lima beans

1 small bag frozen corn

3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes (diced)

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons of liquid smoke

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons of chili sauce (sriracha sauce)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 table spoons black pepper

1 cup sweet BBQ sauce ( I used Sweet Baby Rays)

Prep and cooking

Boil your chicken breasts in a pot of water until the are cooked through then set aside to cool a bit. Do not pour out the water as you will be using this as stock for your stew.

In your crock pot add the crushed tomatoes,onion, potatoes, jalapeno, corn and Lima beans. Now pour enough chicken stock over it to come to the top of the veggies (don’t completely cover them, this is stew not soup).

Now break apart the chicken, shredding it in to small pieces and add to the pot.

Now add everything else and stir it all together.

Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on high heat for about 5 hrs, then reduce to low and cook for another 2 hrs. If you are around you may want to give it a stir about half way through but if not its not a big deal.

I really hope that you all enjoy this stew. It is something that I grew up with and is an old southern tradition that just tastes great. Its unique flavor is something that you don’t taste every day. So scoop out a nice bowl full and grab a roll or piece of bread and enjoy a new experience. You wont be disappointed.

Thanks for Reading

JMW

BBQ Country Style Ribs

When setting out to grill or BBQ there is always the question of what to cook and how to do it. Do you want to slow cook on low heat? Do you want something quick and easy? Do you sauce first or after  or even at all? Depending on what part of the country you are from will also greatly determine if you choose to cook pork or beef. Since I grew up on the east coast I tend to lead more toward pork BBQ which goes against everything you hear out in Texas where I live now. Everyone has their own way of doing things on the grill and I am no different, I just happen to think mine tastes a little better than most. I have spent a lot of time over the years developing a specific taste to my BBQ. I have taken tips from the way my Dad does his BBQ as well as taking things from several other places I have tried over the years and have come up with my own unique flavor that is not to sweet, not to spicy and doesn’t have that over powering vinegar taste to it either. My BBQ has just the right amount of all of that. Its kind of like an amalgam of all of the best tastes around the US.

I was doing some grocery shopping over the weekend and came across a great deal on country style boneless pork ribs and knew exactly what I was going to do with them as soon as I saw them.  Boneless country style ribs are a great thing to BBQ. They don’t take that long to cook and just have a great flavor. They have a great meat to fat ratio which is important when grilling. You want something that has a little fat in it to keep from drying out when cooking. But enough about that. Lets get down to cooking these bad boys up.

You can use off the shelf sauces for this but I tend to use my own homemade sauces.

What you need:

1 large pack of boneless country style pork ribs

1 bottle of mustard based BBQ sauce (you want a really tangy sauce for this one)

(My mustard sauce consists of the right amount of yellow mustard, white vinegar, sugar, black pepper and margarine)

1 bottle of tomato based BBQ sauce (you can use your favorite but a good sweet and spicy one is the best to counter the tang of the mustard sauce)

Salt

Black pepper

Prep and cooking

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Rinse the ribs under cold water and pat dry. Then salt and pepper them all around. Place them in a large bowl and cover with the mustard sauce. Let them marinate for at least two hrs.

Whether you use gas or charcoal is up to you. Either way you will need medium to medium high heat. Something that will give a good sear to the outside while not drying them out when cooking. I know a lot of people complain if they see even a hint of black on their meat but to me it just doesn’t taste right unless you get a little char on the outside. That’s what BBQ is and why people like “burnt end sandwiches” so much (if you’ve never had a burn end sandwich, stop reading and go find one now). It tastes good so trust me. You want to cook these covered for about 7 to 9 minutes on either side depending on how thick they are. Then remove the lid and turn the heat up just a little. With a BBQ brush you now want to coat the ribs with the more traditional BBQ Sauce. You always want to wait until the end to put on most tomato (and brown sugar) based sauces due to them burning easier. Turn the ribs over a couple of times with that sauce on them until it starts to thicken up and get darker. It will create a nice messy,gooey coating that screams BBQ.

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Now they are ready to go. Pull them off the grill and let them cool for a few minutes. You are now ready to enjoy some of the best BBQ you have ever tasted. I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Growing up on the east coast I was introduced to pork BBQ at an early age and grew up with that being the norm anywhere you went to eat. You walk into a restaurant and the menu showed items like pulled pork, sliced pork, pork ribs etc. Now you can imagine my surprise when I moved to Texas and walked in to my first Texas BBQ restaurant only to look at the menu and not see pork listed anywhere. Everything is beef, Brisket, ribs, chopped BBQ and on and on, its all beef. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good smoked brisket and have even come up with my own rub and method of doing it myself but its just not the same as the BBQ pork I grew up with. Another odd thing about Texas BBQ joints is the cole slaw. Every where you go they have cole slaw on the menu but what you get is a scoop of shredded cabbage soaked in vinegar. This is not cole slaw people. Cole slaw needs to be thick and creamy with hints of vinegar and sweetness. Oh and did I mention the creaminess? for this you need mayo and not just any mayo, you need Helmann’s mayo. It is the perfect consistency and flavor for making a good southern cole slaw. So I took matters into my own hands and came up with my own pulled pork recipe. Now the one I am posting differs slightly than the one I usually make because it is Hatch Chili pepper season, so just about everything I make is getting Hatch peppers added to it.

Lets start off with the ingredients you will need.

Pulled Pork

1 pork loin (about 3 to 4 pounds)

Chili powder

Garlic powder

olive oil

hatch chili peppers, about a pound (optional)

BBQ sauce (regular Kraft works great)

Cole Slaw

1 large bag shredded cabbage

sugar

apple cider vinegar

garlic powder

chili powder

Mayo (Helmanns)

Black Pepper

Salt

And for the sandwich you will need Garlic Toast (or Texas Toast). This is not optional. You have to have it for it to taste like it came from the east coast.

Lets get started on the pork first since it takes a while to cook in a crock pot.

First you will want to heat up a large frying pan with a couple table spoons of olive oil in the bottom. Once the pan is heated you will put the pork loin in and sear it on all sides making sure to season it pretty heavily with chili powder and garlic powder. Now we are not cooking it all the way through here, just searing the outside. Once that is done you want to drop it in the crock pot. Add enough water to cover it only about a quarter of the way. Cover it and let it cook on high. We will be adding something else very soon.

Now lets move on to the Hatch peppers.

You will want to roast the hatch peppers on the grill or in an over close to the broiler. You want the outside of the peppers to turn black. once they are black you will immediately put them into a plastic storage bag so that they can sweat. This makes it much easier to remove the outer skin. Let them sweat for about 20 minutes then remove them from the bag and start peeling the skin off. Once all the skin is removed you will cut the top stem off and remove all of the seeds. Then chop the peppers into about half an inch pieces.  After all of the peppers are chopped you will add them to the crock pot with the pork.

And now it is time for the cole slaw. Yes you do need this even if you think you don’t like cole slaw. That is probably because you have never had it done right and I am now going to show you how to do it right. mmm…mmm…

In a large mixing bowl you want to dump in the cabbage and then pour in about half a cup of apple cider vinegar. no spoon in about 4 tablespoons of sugar and then sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of garlic powder. 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Go ahead and give that a stir and then add about to cups of mayo and stir it all together. You will want to taste it to see if it needs a little more of anything. Some people like it more sweet and some like it less. Once you get the flavor where you like it put it in the fridge to cool while the pork is cooking.

about 4 to 5 hours later…

Check the pork to see if it is ready. You will want to use a spatula or long handled spoon and press down on the pork. If it starts to come apart pretty easy then you are ready to go. Turn the heat off and move the pork to a large mixing bowl to cool. Once it has cooled you can start pulling it apart into smaller chunks with your fingers. Now use a slotted spoon and scoop out the peppers (making sure to let the excess water drain) and add them to the pork. Add about two cups of BBQ sauce and stir it all together until everything has been coated in sauce.

Now its time to assemble the sandwich.

Heat up the garlic bread and place two pieces on a plate. Now on one piece add a big scoop of pork and spread it around to cover the whole thing. Add a nice coat of BBQ sauce and then a big scoop of cole slaw on top of it (trust me on this, you will love it). Now put the other piece of garlic bread on top. You may want to cut it in half because it is going to be messy, but that is part of the fun. All that is left to do is grab a hand full of napkins and sit down and enjoy.

Thanks for reading

JMW

JMW’s Snack cups

Snack Cups

I hope that you are all ready because after a long pause I am back with more yummy goodness.

Today we will talk about JMW’s snack cups.

Now I can hear you all scratching your heads and saying “what are snack cups”? Well I will tell you, like I said above they are yummy goodness of pretty much anything you can think of baked inside of a flaky biscuit cup. For this round I made two different batches, BBQ and Taco. These snack cups are simple to make and can be made in large batches for a group or to be frozen and served later on. Both kids and adults can enjoy these.

First you need to decide on what flavor you have the taste for. I will start off with the BBQ ones that I made since they are my favorites.

What you need (for one batch).

1LB Ground beef

1 medium onion (diced into small cubes)

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup BBQ sauce (I use my home made sauce but just regular old Kraft BBQ sauce will work just fine).

1 tube of Pillsbury butter tasting biscuits (10 count)

1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese

1 muffin pan

non stick spray

Salt and pepper

First you will want to saute the diced onion in a medium size frying pan (on medium) until they start to turn clear, then add the ground beef and brown it (adding salt and pepper to taste). Once you have your beef browned you will stir in the brown sugar, and then add the BBQ sauce. Now stir it all together and let it simmer on low for about 10 minutes (stirring occasionally).

While that is simmering coat the muffin pan with non stick spray and then place a biscuit in each muffin slot. Most pans hold 12 but the biscuits come in packs of ten so you will have two empty slots (no big deal). Now use your put your fingers in the middle of each biscuit and start pressing outward to the wall of the pan forming a little bowl. Do this for each biscuit. Now you should have a bunch of little biscuit bowls.

Now spoon the BBQ mixture into each biscuit until the are full. Once all biscuits are full you will then cover them with cheddar cheese. I like to put a nice pile on top so that when it melts you forms a nice little cover on top.

Place the muffin pan in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 12 minutes. You will know when they are done when the biscuits have risen up over the edge of the muffin slots and the edges of the cheese have started to brown.

Now remove them and let them cool.

The procedure for the Taco is pretty much the same thing with a few modifications.

What you need (for one batch).

1LB Ground beef (or ½ lb ground beef, ½ lb Mexican chorizo)

1 medium onion (diced into small cubes)

2 roma tomatoes (diced into small cubes)

2 tbsp garlic powder

4 tbsp chili powder (regular chili powder is fine)

1 tube of Pillsbury butter tasting biscuits (10 count)

1 bag of shredded colby or Mexican blend cheese.

1 muffin pan

non stick spray

Salt and pepper

First you will want to saute the diced onion in a medium size frying pan (on medium) until they start to turn clear, then add the ground beef and brown it (adding salt and pepper to taste). Once you have your beef browned you will stir in the garlic powder and chili powder. Now I use 3 different chili powders for mine, but any regular chili powder will work fine.  You may also need to add just a little water to keep it from drying out. Add the tomatoes and reduce heat to low to simmer for about 10 minutes (stirring occasionally).

While that is simmering coat the muffin pan with non stick spray and then place a biscuit in each muffin slot. Most pans hold 12 but the biscuits come in packs of ten so you will have two empty slots (no big deal). Now use your put your fingers in the middle of each biscuit and start pressing outward to the wall of the pan forming a little bowl. Do this for each biscuit. Now you should have a bunch of little biscuit bowls.

Now spoon the taco mixture into each biscuit until the are full. Once all biscuits are full you will then cover them with shredded cheese. I like to put a nice pile on top so that when it melts you forms a nice little cover on top.

Place the muffin pan in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 12 minutes. You will know when they are done when the biscuits have risen up over the edge of the muffin slots and the edges of the cheese have started to brown.

Now remove them and let them cool.

See I told you it was pretty simple and the results are amazing. These are a fun to make and versatile snack that everyone will love. You can even try it with pizza topping and sauce and cover it with mozzarella cheese if you like. Comment if you come up with any out there combo that sounds good.

As always.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

The Salt lick BBQ

Great ***
Pretty Good
OK
No Thanks

Who’s ready for BBQ? Because for this weeks review SA Dining went on a road trip and came up with a winner. Right outside of Austin in Round Rock is a BBQ joint called The Salt Lick. They are known for their unique open pit smokers and delicious food all over Texas, so while I was in Austin I decided to head on over and give them a try.
As soon as I stepped out of my truck I could smell the smoke and it made my mouth start watering. I don’t know if this was just due to the anticipation of the meal to come or if it was because it just smelled so good. Either way I was ready to get inside and see what awaited me. When you walk in the door to The Salt Lick you see kitchen off to the right and everyone buzzing around chopping and cutting some of the best looking BBQ I have seen outside of my own smoker. At the corner of the counter they have a few of their homemade pies sitting on display and I knew I would have to try one, but more about that later. The seating is picnic style with long tables and benches for everyone to sit together and enjoy. I can imagine that when it is busy this can be a little bit annoying as I don’t really care for sharing my table with complete strangers but luckily I did not have to worry about it since they were not very busy when I got there.
After looking over the menu and having a very hard time deciding on just one thing I thought it would be a good idea to go with the all you can eat BBQ family style dinner. This means they bring you a little bit of everything including beef brisket, sausage and pork ribs for the meats and potato salad, Cole slaw, beans, bread and pickles and onions for sides.
I’m going to go ahead and get the sides out of the way before moving on to the meat. Most of these are just standard sides that you get at almost any BBQ place in Texas. The beans are just regular barracho beans which Texas is know for serving with everything BBQ related. While I am from the east coast originally and prefer BBQ baked beans these actually had a pretty nice flavor. The Cole slaw was a little bit better than most places but was still not the Cole slaw I grew up on. Most Texas restaurants make Cole slaw by shredding cabbage and dousing it in vinegar, where I am used to it having a little more creaminess to it with a little mayo and sugar added. Basically I like Cole slaw to have flavor and most of the restaurants out here do not make it that way. Now we move on to the potato salad which they take a different approach to making. This is a non mayo based potato salad that has more of a mustard flavoring to it. While it came off a little bland to me it was still pretty good, and when you added some of the signature BBQ sauce to it it was fantastic. Those are the big guns for the sides and while they were OK I am sure that they are not the reason that most people visit The Salt Lick.

The reason everyone visits The Salt Lick is because of the BBQ and I can say that I now know why. When they set the plate with all of the meat down in front of me I knew that I was in for a treat but I had no idea it would be as good as it was. The first thing I tried was the brisket and it was pretty good. It had a nice smokey flavor and those black crisp edges known as bark that everyone loves. The flavor is good enough that you don’t need sauce but it is even better with it added. My next taste came from the smoked sausage. I have eaten a lot of smoked sausage in my time and had many different flavors and variations but none of them were quite as good as this smoked sausage. I’m not sure if it was the flavor of the sausage or the the flavor that the smoke gave it but either way it was pretty incredible and when you added the BBQ sauce to it you have a flavor combo that cant be beat. I didn’t think that it could get any better than that and was perfectly happy with continuing on until there was no sausage left but I had these port ribs sitting there calling out to me to be tried. So I pushed past the sausage, picked up a rib and bit in to it. First let me tell you that there wasn’t much biting involved because it pretty much fell apart and started melting in your mouth it was so tender. Like the sausage the flavor was incredible and even better with a little sauce. The ribs were perfectly cooked and some of the best tasting I have ever had which says a lot because I grew up eating stuff like this. I’m not sure about you but when in comes to BBQ there are some things that need BBQ sauce and some that don’t, but there are also some that don’t but taste that much better if the sauce is good. The latter applies in the case of just about everything at The Salt Lick. The sauce is a unique blend that uses no tomatoes and has a slightly sweet but mustard flavor to it. It is not a very thick sauce but is thick enough to stick to your food and it is great on everything.
Now after that you would not think that I would have had room to try anything else but when I saw the list of deserts on the menu I had to give it a try anyway. You can choose between a slice of their homemade pecan pie or a bowl of their peach or blackberry cobbler and have a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream added on top of any of them. I opted for the pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream. The pie it self was pretty good but not the best I have ever had. I think the consistency was a little off for me. Instead of being gooey like a pecan pie should be it had more of a pumpkin pie consistency to it which I wasn’t really expecting. But the flavor was spot on and when you add the ice cream nothing else seemed to matter.
After all of that you can count it a sure thing that the next time I happen to be up in Austin I will be making time for a trip back to The Salt Lick and maybe a spot for a nice long nap afterward.

Thanks for reading,
JMW