Faux-Tato Salad (Paleo ‘Potato’ Salad)

This post is a bit late but can I still start it out by saying Happy Memorial Day!

I had made this recipe because I was jealous that my boyfriend got to eat some classic American salads you’d have at a BBQ such as potato salad and macaroni salad.  I may have indulged due to the holiday and all but since I am on the Lurong Summer Challenge it just wasn’t an option! It had to be that creamy goodness that accompanies BBQ so well!  And the faux-tato salad was born…

 Faux-Tato Salad (Paleo ‘Potato’ Salad)

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Salad

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped small
  • 1/2 turnip, peeled and chopped small
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped small
  • 2 slices of bacon, crumbled
  • Small amount of oil for roasting
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 1 cup extra light tasting olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

 

Roast cauliflower at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Pieces should be fork tender and lightly browned on top.

While cauliflower is roasting chop all your other veggies into small salad-sized pieces

For the dressing add all ingredients to a mason jar or another wide mouth jar and use a stick blender to turn it into the consistency of mayo

When cauliflower is done combine all ingredients.  Add the mayo to desired creaminess.  I only used half of the mixture and saved the rest for later.

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Cake Hot Dogs

Yes, you heard me right! Cake HOT DOGS!

I have a BBQ team and we were in a competition over the weekend and one of the categories was dessert.  We were trying to think outside the box of what we could do as our turn in.  I googled so many ideas and I came across the Cupcake Project blog and found this beauty! Cupcakewurst.  I thought it was absolutely genius!  I messaged my BBQ partner the next morning thinking she would think I was absolutely nuts.  She was all for it!! Soo we got to work…

Cake Dog Batter 1

First things first.  We made some batter!  The original blog post had a very dark cake inside.  Since were in Chicago we are most definitely hot dog snobs and if we were going to go through with this it had to look absolutely real.  We did a red velvet cake filling but instead of dying it red we just use a little big of pink dye and this was the result.  Pretty good huh?

Cake Dog Batter

To fill them up we just used a pastry bag and a large tip and attached it to a hog casing to fill them.  Yes..real hog casings!

sausage casing

See!

filling casing

We cut each casing to maybe about 10 inches so we had a lot of space to work with.  Knotted at the end and filled it up!  It got filled only half way, if not less and made it longer than what you would think since when it cooked it shrunk a bit.  This took a lot of trial and error!

Cake in Casing

Cake dogs ready for the oven

Cake Explosion

Each group does end up having multiple casualties..Make more than what you think!

Finished Cake dogs

The finished result of ones that dont explode! I love how the oil in the cake gives a very nice shine to the cake dogs to really make them look real!  They even have that tight snap of a real hot dog when you bite into it.

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For the bun I made a homemade twinkie batter.  It was just 1 box of pound cake mix, 4 egg whites and 2/3 cup of water.  I added the poppy seeds on top to look like a hot dog bun.  Since I didn’t have a hot dog pan I made my own out of foil

Finished buns

Finished twinkie buns!

Drumroll please.  These will blow your mind!

Cake Dog 1 finished cake dog Finished cake dog1

Is that not the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?! A full on dessert cake hot dog!!

The side chips are plantain chips with cinnamon and ginger.

We entered this into a BBQ competition and got 12th out of 13th!!! Shameful!

It really didnt taste bad at all.  Its cake and fruit – no reason for it to have placed so badly.  Those judges don’t know creativity..

I do not regret in any capacity turning this in for competition cause it was so much fun to make and the pictures still blow my mind.  Love it!!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheesecake ala Weber

I will start my post out by saying  HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!

I created this cheesecake just for him and it ended up being a bigger fiasco and learning experience than I had expected..

I had been asked to make my dad a special birthday treat for today.  I tend to over complicate requests like this, and today was no exception.  I was going to make it simple – but it didnt work out that way.  I figured he loves peanut butter cookies and cheesecake..so why not mix those two?  My genius idea was to grind up peanut butter cookies and add a bit of melted butter just as you would graham crackers to make a crust.

Next I made a classic batter except I added an ingredient called PB2.  It is meant to be a healthy alternative to peanut butter.  It IS peanut butter..however it is dehydrated and only has 1 gram of fat per 2 tablespoons (yes please!).  I normally put these in my Herbalife protein shakes each morning, but I figured with having the peanut butter be powdered – it would not effect the batter consistency.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Crust:

  • 1 package of peanut butter cookies, ground fine
  • a few tablespoons of melted butter to bind cookies

Batter:

  • 3 pkg Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1/2 bag mini chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons PB2

Mix all ingredients well with a hand mixer.

So normally this is when one would say – ‘place in an oven at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes’

Well…I had my batter ready and turned to set my oven (yes, this should have happened sooner, however I was watching my niece and nephew and was a bit scatter brained!) and I realized..Oh yeah..my oven door fell off and Im waiting for a part to come in the mail.  So after blinking a few times in disbelief that I forgot this key fact – I realized I had to have a plan B.  Its my dads birthday, I created this awesome batter.  IT HAD TO BE USED!

I will not deny that the idea of pitching this and running to the grocery store did cross my mind.  However, I remembered that I have a BBQ competition coming up and one category is anything NON MEAT.  I have been told before that if I dont do cheesecake, then there isnt any point in trying.  This was definitely an opportunity to see if this could possibly work.

I turned on my grill.

I have read before that when baking on a grill it needs to be in-direct heat.  So i took a large metal pan and set it upside down on the grill.  I put the two outer knobs to low and the middle one as low as it could go.  I waited until it hit 325.  I then took another pan and made a water bath for the cheesecake.  I put the cheesecake in and crossed my fingers.

I kept checking periodically..there were a few temperature spikes, but nothing too terrible.  I kept expecting to see billows of smoke on my back porch and find my cheesecake burnt to a crisp.  My other fear being that I would take the first bite and get charred pork flavor.  I let it “bake” or..”grill”? I dont know…for about 50 minutes.  I inserted a toothpick and was shocked it came out clean.  I did a little happy dance – You’re welcome neighbors.

I let this cool for about an two hours in the fridge.  It seemed a little bit loose which was making me paranoid.  I was completely shocked when I took it out of the pan to see that it was perfect.  I am not kidding around when I say this was easily the best cheesecake I’ve ever made.  It was light and airy like a cake, not super dense.  I usually say I love dense cheesecake more, the heavier the better!  But i’m feeling like for summer, this light airy cheesecake smashed its dense competitor!  The crust wasn’t super crunchy, probably because my love for melted butter.  It did not fall apart at all, but it wasn’t crunchy.  I’m pretty sure having no heat directly on the bottom was the reasoning for that.  That would be my only complaint about this, which isn’t really a complaint because there’s nothing bad about soft buttery peanut butter cookies in my opinion.

I cannot say that I will take all my baking outdoors..but I must say I do feel a total sense of accomplishment and pride that I was able to resolve my problem and successfully ”grill” a cheesecake!

Guest Post Red White & BBQ 2012

As my followers may know, my friends and I were in a BBQ competition this weekend.  It was our first ever and it was a total blast!  We did not win anything – we got 36 out of 66.  This definitely wasn’t what we had hoped for, but we were going up against seasoned bbq pitmasters in big rigs and smokers bigger than my car!  We learned a lot, met new people and had enough fun to make us want to continue this crazy hobby.  Porknography BBQ summed it up in a top 10 list of what we learned this weekend.  Check out the website for additional tasty pictures!

It seemed like it took FOREVER for this competition to finally come around. All the time spent practicing, and the days of preparation and its done in a flash!

Instead of posting a long drawn out post of every detail of the competition I would make a simple list of what we learned competing for the first time.

What we learned at Red White & BBQ 2012

1. Coming a day ahead of time to set up to save time is sometimes a flawed plan. Thank you Mother Nature

2. If it’s not wrapped in Bacon…It isn’t good enough.

3. Duct tape can be used for anything

4. Westmont hates my ribs, even though its the only ribs i’ve ever eaten an entire rack of

5. Making boxes is the work of the devil. However, while making them It did allow me to take a mental nap.

6. Prep ribs when its not this dark

6. Spot lights are painful

7. Jack has a nice butt, even if it was a bit swampy

8. Get sleep whenever you can

9. Judge #1 does not like BBQ and we would have been better turning in Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs

10. We may not have won, but we had more fun than anyone else out there!

Oh…and..

ITS NOT CREAM CHEESE…ITS NOT CREAM CHEESE!!!!!

Dont ask :/

Check out Photo Album for additional Photos 🙂

Porky Pecan Pie

I had some thoughts going through my mind as I was creating this Frankenstein of a pie…What will people think?  Are people tired of adding bacon where most feel it doesn’t belong?  I know most may say that my idea for adding bacon to pecan pie may be considered cliche in this bacon craze that seems to be going on.  I felt in the spirit of this weekend being “Bacon Fest” in Chicago, and yesterday was National Pecan Day (Thank You The Young Grasshopper) putting bacon and pecans together seemed like the respectful thing to do.  So to all of those who are rolling their eyes at yet another bacon filled recipe – you’re wrong, bacon is delicious.

The pie crust is just a basic cold butter/flour pie crust. Ingredients are as follows –

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of smoked salt (you can use regular, i was just keeping the theme)
  • 1 stick chilled butter
  • 1 egg, beaten

I pulsed all ingredients in the food processor, egg being last.  I formed a dough ball and chilled in so it can roll out easier. In the mean time I made the pie filling.  Just a classic filling again.  I used a recipe from the Food Network Website.  I did not use the bourbon though.  I can’t add bacon AND liquor..that would make me a heathen!

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt (i used smoked salt again)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten

So, after I read this I realized that it clearly states 3 eggs lightly beaten.  I used 1….fail?  But for the sake of giving you a proper recipe, there it is!  I did not follow that, because I clearly cannot read.  I will validate this by saying, I knew this, and I knew that 2 additional eggs would not have fit in my pie crust.  Which IS the TRUTH! I feel better about this now, thanks!

 

What you will need for the bacon

  • 1 lb bacon
  • light brown sugar for sprinkling
  • about 3 tablespoons butter
  • ground ginger
  • honey

On a cookie sheet spread the brown sugar around, be sure to not press down, just sprinkle!  Make it wide enough to fit the bacon on top, I did 7 slices by 7 slices square.  I then sprinkled some ginger and did tiny cubes of butter scattered around.  Squeeze a little bit of honey in a squiggly motion over the sugary buttery concoction (im very technical).  Make a lattice of bacon, my package had 14 slices so I did 7 going one way, and 7 going the other.  This fit the pie perfectly, it was clearly fate. Repeat the bottom layers again but in reverse.  Squiggle honey, add butter cubes, sprinkle ginger, and rub gently with brown sugar.  Bake in an oven set at 350º until you start to see your bacon get a nice candy coating.  It cooks pretty fast, be sure to watch it closely because with all the sugar, it burns quickly!  Bacon is far too precious to scorch.

Roll out your pie crust to fit whichever pie tin you are using.  Grease your pie tin to avoid great stress later on.  You know, as you’re trying to pry it out of the pan because the sweet addicted gremlin inside of you wants pie REALLY bad..until you finally give up and sit on the couch with an entire pie and a fork, we’ve all done it, don’t be ashamed.  Put a piece of parchment and some pie weights in before baking.  Or if you are the un-baker like me, I used numerous condiment bowls and scattered them on top, hey it worked!  Bake about 20 minutes at 400º.

To start the pie filling, melt butter in a saute pan.  Add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Once it comes to a boil, let it continue to cook for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and pecans.  Let it cool while you’re waiting on your pie crust.  Add 3 eggs…you know, or one egg if you’re a rebel.  When the pie crust is ready flip the bacon lattice into the pan and cover that with pecan filling.  Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes.

Let the pie completely cool before cutting into it to avoid a pecan avalanche.  Maybe if I put the correct amount of eggs this would not have been a concern…Lesson learned.

After typing all this I have realized this is a lot of steps.  And If i were looking at this I would think you were absolutely insane if you thought I would make this at home.  But the truth is..it was so incredible.  The smoky, sweet, salty combination made me wiggle with joy!  How can you deny something that looked as beautiful as this?

What if I paired it with ice cream?

Go ahead, have a bite!

 

 

Que Make Me So Very Happy!

Well it’s no longer a secret.

(Was it ever even a secret?)

The BBQ bug has completely buried it’s stinger into me.

I had the opportunity to attend my second BBQ class with my BBQ partner in swine (get it..not crime..swine..i crack myself up).  Today was a little bit different from the last class we took since it was all fish and not all about MEAT!  I found out that I love way more fish than I thought! But this post is not about fish or the class I took today, but instead about how I have found something to be excited about.  I seriously feel like a child knowing that Santa is ready to come.  When I think about this new chapter i’m opening by competing in BBQ I get so giddy and my mind is just swirling with ideas.  I have not been so excited about something since the time I decided I wanted to be a chef, and had that eagerness to learn and absorb everything around me.  Then of course you go through this phase of “I went to school, so I must know stuff!” then you go into the field and realize you know nothing.  This is sort of how I felt when I started working at  Sweet Baby Rays BBQ.  I had already bought a smoker with the intentions of getting into smoking meats but I hadn’t really jumped in yet.  Being surrounded by a cooking technique that you are totally not familiar with intrigued me.  I wanted to now know how to smoke food.  I knew how to do everything else they teach you in culinary school, but they certainly didn’t teach me this.  But what my chef did tell me was to “Never stop learning”, and I haven’t.  Have I made you proud Chef Kramer?

The moment that sort of sparked this fire inside me is I signed up for my second competition today.  Yes, I just created a team and I am already signed up for two competitions, which the intentions of a third one coming along soon.  This competition is strictly for amateurs, which means we have a shot!  Their categories are chicken, ribs and any NON MEAT dish we would like.  That really gets you thinking…BBQ…but..no meat?!  This is the moment I love, the brainstorming! What will ‘wow’ them.  I don’t like to play it safe, I do the opposite.  I try to do things that people claim just wont work.  And that is totally what I will be attempting here.  We will most likely be doing a dessert for this category.  Now..to learn how to bake some cake on a grill!

I know this post didn’t offer any crazy new technique or the next unique dish to serve to your family.  But I really hope you can feel the passion flowing through me right now, and also, please share with me the last thing that got you so excited!  Are you dabbling in a new style of cooking you haven’t ventured into yet?  I hope to hear what keeps you excited about cooking!

Photos from Fireplace & Chimney Authority BBQ Class

Lisle, IL

Don’t forget to follow Laura and I in our BBQ Competition Journey.  Click photo below to follow our blog!

Operation BBQ Relief

I had the opportunity to be a part of a fantastic dinner put together by Sweet Baby Rays BBQ last night.  It wasn’t just any ol’ dinner though, it was to support an amazing cause called Operation BBQ Relief.  This organization was formed after the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes hit last year, i’m sure you are all familiar with this tragic event.  What Operation BBQ Relief did was went down to the site of the destruction and fed families, firefighters, police, etc.  They served over 120,000 meals in the two weeks they were there.  Of course people living in the Midwest area have also been hit again recently with multiple tornadoes again.  The dinner last night was formed in hopes of growing the organization to the Chicagoland area.

I cannot explain the reason for their cause any better than what their vision explains;

“The vision of Operation BBQ Relief is that all people involved in relief efforts during natural disasters will understand the true meaning of compassion for those who have lost possessions and loved ones and that they will further utilize all of their God-given skills and abilities to better the lives of those affected.”

I was incredibly touched by the outcome of this event.  Nearly 150 BBQ fanatics in the Chicagoland area came together to discuss such an important cause and show their support.  I was so impressed by the vision and mission of this cause that my BBQ Team will be joining the efforts and to help out as needed.  I encourage you to read more on this cause, they are incredible people doing great things for people in need.  BBQ fanatics or even just people with a big heart are welcome to come join forces and help!

Click Here to Read More

Now – to share the incredible food Sweet Baby Rays provided for this event!

Dave Raymond (Sweet Baby Ray) Talks about the cause

See Sweet Baby Rays post on OBR

BBQ Martini

Burnt Ends

Shrimps

Our Chef preparing said shrimps

Gumbo Shooters

Our Dinner Menu

Brisket, Pulled Pork, Texas Sausage

Desserts – After I already got to some of them

Stuffed.

Thank you for stopping by! Please check out Operation BBQ Relief & Sweet Baby Rays!

Porknography

Oh hi there strangers! Okay, I guess it would be more fair to call me the stranger.  I have not had a post since Christmas! Pure insanity I say! I have been taking all sorts of pictures of dishes I have made with the absolute intention of posting them – well…didn’t happen!  Because of this you will all be enjoying some themed dishes from past holidays! I justified this by telling myself it’s acceptable since now you can bookmark them for next year – you know, since we all go back to past bookmarks when we remember Piggy Tummy posted the best cupcakes for New Years Eve (in March..) Without further ado let me crack my knuckles and get back to business.

On my Facebook page I announced that I was coming back with a week of cupcakes and a week of BBQ and a big announcement.  That is all true but I decided I may do it a bit out of order and probably scrambled up a bit.  BBQ CUPCAKE WEEK! HOORAY! I did want to do the cupcakes first but a whole bunch of stuff came up that made me so eager to do my announcement first and most likely will do BBQ week here first and maybe throw a cupcake in there for good measure.

My big announcement is….

Drumroll…

A friend and I have started our own BBQ competition team!

*crowd goes wild, confetti and balloons fall*

Isn’t she the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?!  I think so…  If you have been following me for some time now then you may remember my first BBQ competition last year when I participated with a BBQ team from work – The B Team.  Here are the posts from last year to refresh your memory Red White & BBQ P1 & Red White and BBQ P2.  After that competition I had been talking to a friend of mine about us possibly branching off and doing our own thing.  After a night of hilarious bantering back and fourth she had come up with this phenomenal BBQ name and with the help of the boyfriend our logo was born.  Even though this has been in the works for nearly a year I haven’t had much of a chance to do anything with it.  We didn’t feel we were ready to compete last summer but we have had plenty of time to plan and organize and we are ready to roll!

I was asked to join the B Team again for another run this summer but I requested for us to merge and go as Porknography just so I can have a proper unveiling of the team.  It hasn’t been the most ideal of merges yet but kinks will be worked out in time and my hopes are for an incredibly fun summer.  I will most likely only be attending one professional BBQ competition but I will try to find as many Rookie ones as I can 🙂  Well I just wanted to share that with you all because I’m absolutely thrilled about it!  If people end up wanting some merch and swag that will probably be in the works soon.

To learn some more about Competition BBQ check out a post from a fellow co-worker from Sweet Baby Rays Sweet Baby Rays Blog

Smoked Mac & Cheese

Smoked Mac & Cheese

Last week I received my new shiny Weber Smokey Mountain smoker.  I haven’t had a chance to really play with it due to it being so busy at work.  I am a member of a BBQ Forum the BBQ Brethren (Link on side panel) and I had seen pics of people smoking their mac and cheese on their grills.  Ever since then I knew I had to try this myself.  I make a pretty mean mac and cheese, I am not even allowed to step into a family function without the mac and cheese in hand.  I had never even thought to make it on the grill so this seemed like a great experiment for me.  I did decide to switch up my usual recipe.  My usual recipe is the dense mac and cheese that is served in squares like a casserole, rather than the creamy mac.  I figured on the smoker the creamier version would work better.  Since I also wanted to go with a BBQ theme I figured rather than doing a bread crumb topping I would go with a traditional BBQ side for the topping, cornbread!  Here is how I made it –

  • 1 lb box of noodles – I used Rotini
  • 1 lb of smoked gouda, shredded
  • 1 small package of velveeta (for texture)
  • 1 lb shredded sharp cheddar
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 stick butter + enough flour to make a roux
  • Powdered mustard, hot sauce, salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder to taste
  • 1 recipe of prepared cornbread
  • Honey
  • Melted Butter

I will admit, I cheated a bit.  I didn’t feel like making cornbread, so I bought a prepared package of it at the store.  Today was all about cooking outside!  I unwrapped the cornbread, poked a bunch of holes in it with a fork and added melted butter mixed with honey and drizzled it over and set aside.

I cooked the noodles until it was almost done, but not quite there yet.  I strained the noodles and ran them under cold water until chilled.  I then made a roux with the butter and flour and added the milk until thickened.  Add all the spices to taste, I never measure this part – sorry!  Add all cheeses until smooth and creamy.  Toss in noodles and mix well.  I mixed in half of the cornbread mixture to my mac and cheese, and reserved the rest to sprinkle on top.

To finish cooking the mac and cheese on the smoker, I used a cast iron skillet because I knew it would handle the smoker well and would retain enough heat in it to sort of “bake” the smoked mac and cheese.  I buttered the bottom of the skillet, poured in the mac and cheese and then sprinkled the remaining cornbread on top.

The wood I used on my smoker was apple and hickory.  I kept the mac and cheese on the top rack of the smoker for about 3 hours.  The topping didn’t get crisp and crunchy, but toasted just enough to have a bit of a crust.  I was skeptical that the mac and cheese would really pick up a smokey flavor, but it really did!  It was definitely a whole different flavor profile than mac and cheese just made in an oven.  If you have a smoker I highly recommend trying this!