Indian-Style Sweet and Sour Sauce

Years ago, now, we went to a friend’s house blessing, which, unlike a house warming, is done before the new occupants move in.

There are blessings and ceremony and, at the end, all of this terrific food!

Our friend had the food catered from a restaurant about 90 minutes south west of here, and we enjoyed  Indian savories and sweets that I had not before seen.

Including Manchurian baby corn.

I went kinda crazy over that, and *might* have eaten most of one tray, so, when we got home, I went in search of how to make this magical Manchurian.

It turns out that first, I have to make this Sweet and Sour Sauce, which is really pretty simple to toss together in a small pot, and actually quite nice on its own.

•1 tbsp cornstarch
•1 cup + 2 tbsp water
•1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 cup sugar
•1 cup white vinegar
•1/4 tsp Salt (or to taste)
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/2 tsp White pepper (or to taste)
•2 tbsp ketchup*

*I use a spicy organic ketchup that a local company imports from Poland, but your fave will work a treat.

Note: as you prepare the sauce, it will go through a couple of stages where it is cloudy, then, with cooking, clear up.

Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and set aside.

Stir the one cup of sugar together with the vinegar, water, salt, pepper and hot sauce over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear

Add the cornstarch mixture and continue cooking until bubbly and thick – you will note that the mixture is again cloudy.

I let it simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened and mostly clear again.

Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of ketchup.

Allow to cool, then transfer to jars and stash in the fridge until needed.

Tomorrow, we will revisit the Manchurian Sauce, but you do not need to wait for that to use some of this sauce!

Drizzle some over fried shrimp tacos with scallions, sautéed red pepper strips, and Ranch Jalapeños.

For a bit of extra added fusion flavor, add a bit of your fave ranch dressing.

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Grilled Asparagus Caesar Salad

Full disclosure: I did not, in fact, grill the asparagus for this salad.  My husband had grilled the night before, and was not feeling the love to fire up the grill for some veggies, so I sautéed this batch in garlic-infused olive oil, then added some leftover grilled corn and the rest of the ingredients.


And, after I did a bit of research, I found that fish sauce, which I rather like, is a good substitute for anchovies, which I do not.

•2 tbsp Greek yogurt
•1 tbsp mayonnaise
•1 tbsp grated Parmesan
•2 tsp milk
•2 tsp lemon juice
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1/4 tsp fish sauce
•1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
•1/4 tsp St. Elmo*
•Black pepper

•Grilled corn, trimmed
•1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
•Grape tomatoes, quartered
•Shaved Parmesan

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and stash in the fridge until needed.

Trim the asparagus ends, cut in half, and heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat.

Add the asparagus and toss to coat in the oil, then cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus is bright green and crisp tender.

Add the trimmed grilled corn kernels and toss until heated through.

To make the salad…

Add the asparagus and corn to a large bowl along with the tomatoes, croutons, and shave Parmesan.

Feel free to add some thinly sliced red onion or whatever else you like to the salad, heck, even chopped Romaine!

Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Serve with freshly cracked black pepper.

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Mashed Potato Salad

Summer Sunday evenings almost require potato salad, and this one comes together without too much fuss.

I have to admit, my new fave Ranch Relish added a lot of flavor to the salad and the dressing, so try not to skip on that part.

I didn’t bother with adding sliced hard cooked eggs or green olives, but feel to do so if you feel the need. I also skipped on garnishing with paprika, because I cooked the potatoes with steak seasoning.

•1 24 oz bag baby yellow potatoes
•1 tsp St Elmo Seasoning*
•1 cup diced sweet onion
•1/2 cup diced celery
•1/4 cup Ranch Relish

•1/2 tsp celery salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp dried chives
•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•2 tbsp Ranch Relish juice
•1 tbsp mustard

*Or your own fave steak seasoning.

Cover the potatoes with water, add the seasoning, then cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Drain the potatoes and mash well.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in as bowl, then pour over the potatoes.

Stir in the veggies, transfer to a covered bowl and stash in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.


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Sunday Bonus! Ranch Relish

I have posted before about my (not so) new fave jarred pickle hack; adding a packet of ranch dressing mix into the jar with the pickles, closing it up, shaking it all well to blend and… TA-DAH! Tastier than ever pickles with a hint of ranch.

Then, I went ahead and added a jar of pickled jalapeños into the mix and thought myself very well served.

Then, I got to thinking about brats and stuff and thought… “hmmm… relish?”

And that, good folx, is what I have now gone and done.

Ranch Pickles:
•1 packet ranch dressing mix
•1 jar sliced pickles*
•1 jar pickled jalapeño slices

Ranch Relish:
•Ranch pickles, drained
•Diced pimiento, drained

*We like our stuff a bit on the zippy side. If you and your do not, feel free to skip the jalapeños and choose your own preferred dill or sweet pickle slices.

To make the pickles, simply combine your chosen pickles and pickled jalapeño slices (if using) with a packet of ranch dressing mix in a large jar. Shake until well and truly blended, then stash in the fridge for at least overnight to let the flavors blend.

To make the relish, drain some of your Ranch Pickles and coarsely chop.

Drain the diced pimiento and combine with the pickles.

How much of each is up to you. I normally try to consider what I an planning on making for the week and chop and drain accordingly.

This relish works a treat on burgers and brats, and just you wait until you see what it does in my new fave Mashed Potato Salad!



This Bonus Post is also a Teaser Post.

I will share the Potato Salad recipe tomorrow.

Happy Sunday!

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My New Take on Buffalo Wings

Over the decades, my method for making Buffalo Wings has evolved into a healthier, but still quite tasty recipe. I mean, yeh, there is still an entire stick of butter in the sauce, but when you consider that that one stick makes enough for about two dozen wings, I do not think that that is all that bad a deal.

And now, with the aid of a new (to me) steak house seasoning, actually making the wings is easier. My usual seasoned flour calls for six or seven spices and seasonings; now, all I need is this seasoning.

•Chicken wings or drumettes
•1/2 cup Flour
•3 tsp St. Elmo Seasoning*
•Cooking spray

Buffalo Sauce:
•1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
•2/3 cup Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce
•1 tbsp white vinegar
•1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1/2 tsp St. Elmo Seasoning

*St. Elmo is available in the meat department at our local market, which is a division of Kroger. If you cannot find it at your market, it is available at Amazon, but kinda pricey. If you prefer, simply substitute your fave steak seasoning.

Heat your oven to 400º, line a rimmed baking pan with foil, then position a rack in the pan and apply cooking spray.

Combine the flour and the St. Elmo seasoning in a gallon zipper bag and add the chicken wings – about eleven or twelve at a time seems to work the best. Shake the wings in the seasoned flour, then arrange in a single layer on the prepared rack. Repeat, if you are making wings for a crowd.

If you want to make your wings gluten-free, an equal amount of almond flour, or gluten-free Panko crumbs will work a treat.

Apply cooking spray to the wings, then pop into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

While the wings are baking, combine the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat until the butter has melted, then whisk to blend.

Keep the sauce warm while the wings bake.

Remove the wings from the oven and transfer to a large bowl.

Pour the sauce over the wings and toss to combine. As I noted above, you should have plenty of sauce for at least two dozen wings. Toss the wings in the sauce to coat, then return to the baking pan in a single layer, and bake for another 15 minutes, until the wings are nicely glazed.

Note: you can certainly pour some of the sauce from the bowl over the wings on the rack if you like.

Remove from the oven and serve with celery and Bleu cheese or ranch dressing.

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Air Fryer Brats

Beer. Butter. Brats. Onion. Garlic.

That is all I need for our fave preparation for brats before grilling, or, in this case, popping ’em in the air fryer for 15 or 20 minutes (though, air fryers will vary, so check on how yours are doing the first time you make them). And, you know what?

I may relieve my husband of firing up the grill for a batch o’ brats, because these turned out pretty darned stellar, if I do say so myself.

•Beer (enough to cover the brats)
•2 tbsp butter
•1 sweet onion, coarsely sliced
•1 clove garlic, minced

Note 1: we used these queso flavored sausages, but feel free to use your fave.

Note 2: for just the two of us, one package was more than enough. If you are cooking for a crowd, add more beer, butter, onion, and garlic.

Pierce the sausage skin a couple of times with a fork and add to a pan big enough to hold the amount you are prepping.

Add beer to cover (I do not like to cook with “Lite” beers, but you do you), then the butter, onion, and garlic.

Bring to a boil and simmer for mebbe 20 minutes, until the sausages are cooked through.

Preheat your air fryer to 350º and place a piece of parchment paper on the tray.

Remove the sausages and onion slices from the cooking liquid and arrange on the parchment paper.

Note: the fan in the air fryer is gonna try and lift those parchment paper edges up, so try to arrange your sausages around the edges with the onion in the center.

As always, depending on how many sausages you are making and the size of your air fryer, you may need to do this step in stages.

Cook the sausages for ten minutes, until nicely browned on one side, and then turn over and cook for another five to ten minutes (again, depending on your air fryer), until they look like this.


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Polenta Air Fries

There are times I just like to mix stuff up a bit, like with yesterday’s Cowboy Caviar Salad take on bean salads.

Today, I took a basic dinner, barbecued ribs, garlic sautéed broccolini, and fries, but, the fries are sticks of polenta, lightly dredged with corn starch and seasoings, then cooked to crispity perfection in the air fryer.

And, you know what?

We did not miss the potatoes at all!

•1 16 oz tube of pre-cooked polenta
•2 tbsp cornstarch
•2 tbsp flour*
•1/4 tsp salt
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp paprika
•Cooking spray
•Olive oil

*Note: for gluten free, substitute your fave breadcrumbs or flour alternative.

Heat your air fryer to 420º and line the basket with parchment paper.

Whisk the cornstarch, flour, and seasonings together in a bowl.

Cut the polenta into “fries” then dip into the seasoned flour before arranging in a single layer on the parchment paper lined rack.

Apply cooking spray, then lightly brush the polenta with olive oil before popping into the air fryer.

Note: I am on my third air fryer, and they have all cooked a bit differently, so timing is gonna be up to you and your machine.

Mine turned out beautifully after cooking for ten minutes before turning the polenta over and cooking for another 12 minutes to golden brown goodness.

They also happen to work a treat when dipped in ranch dressing. Just a thought.

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Cowboy Caviar Salad

My cousin Lois makes a fine bean salad, but, I kinda think I like this one a bit better (sorry, Lois!).

Starting out with a can each of black beans, black-eyed peas, and corn, then allowed to marinate with a lime juice and oil dressing, this salad comes together quickly, and the flavor improves the longer you let it rest.

The lime juice dressing is also wicked refreshing, so perfect for a warm weather gathering of friends and family.

•1 can black eyed peas
•1 can black beans
•1 can corn
•Pickled sliced jalapeños
•Shredded carrots
•Red onion, diced
•2 tbsp lime juice
•1 tbsp veggie oil
•1/2 tsp salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper

Peruvian Red Pearl Peppers
•Avocado, sliced
•Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
•2 tbsp lime juice
•1 tbsp veggie oil

Drain and rinse the canned veggies, then add to a large boil with the onion, jalapeño slices, and carrots. Toss with the lime juice, oil, and salt and pepper, then cover and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When ready to serve the salad, toss in the remaining ingredients, lime juice, and oil.



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New! Improved! Arby’s Sauce is Better With BBQ!

If you were to come to my house and take a peek in the fridge, you would think that, just mebbe, I have a condiment problem.

And, well, I do have quite a few… three or four different types of mustards, a couple of different takes on ketchup, and then there are the specialty sauces, sweet Thai, lower sodium Tamari, Indian Sweet and Sour Sauce (to make my fave Manchurian Sauce), and then, always in pride of place, one of my faves for burgers (or chicken), is my take on Arby’s Sauce.

But now, I have bumped up the flavor by using my own, rightfully appreciated Barbecue Sauce in place of plain ole ketchup, and, the results are just so very good!

•1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce
•1/2 cup water
•2 tbsp Heinz 57 Steak Sauce
•2 tsp brown sugar
•2 tsp white vinegar
•1 tsp hot sauce
•1/4 tsp onion powder
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp kosher salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/8 tsp white pepper
•1/8 tsp allspice

Combine all of the ingredients together in a beaker and give a good whizzz with your immersion blender until nicely mixed.

Transfer to a bottle and stash in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavor to come together for a few hours before using.

This will make enough to almost fill one of these handy dandy squeeze bottles.

Bring on da burgers, and do not forget the Arby’s Sauce!

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Yeh, so, it is getting to be sangria season; why not revisit a Mediterranean version, which is simply red wine, Coca Cola, mebbe a splash of brandy, and whatever fruits you feel like tossing in.

Pronounced “caliMOcho,” this flashback from the 1950’s is a snap to make, and wicked refreshing, so skip those premade bottles and make a glass, or a pitcher, right away! Just remember to keep the wine cheap, ermmm… value priced. You don’t really need anything all that pricey.

•Red wine
•Coca Cola (I buy the Mexican Coke)
•Brandy (optional)
•Fruit (your choice, but oranges are great)

The recipe is wicked simple…

Pour the same amount of red wine and Coca Cola over ice in a glass or a pitcher, add a splash of brandy, if you like, and and orange slice, give it a stir, and enjoy.

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