Parfait! Dirty Martini Cheese

Back in the day, my Aunt Buzz truly enjoyed her Dirty Martini during cocktail hour. It was your standard vodka martini, but muddled with the addition of a wee, tiny bit of olive juice.

I was not a real fan back then, but have since come to truly appreciate the pleasures of a perfectly crafted martini – and the olives that come with it.

How cool, then, to have this recipe in reserve for gatherings, where folk can…

Eat their martini!

This combination of cream cheese, mayonnaise, spices, vodka, olives and olive juice is pretty darned terrific on a cracker, so why not make a batch today!

•8 oz cream cheese, softened
•1 tbsp mayonnaise
•1/4 cup chopped green olives
•2 tbsp olive juice
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/8 tsp Seasoned Salt
•2 tbsp vodka*

*Prefer gin martinis? Go ahead and use gin; or, even better, make it a Vesper dip by using one tablespoon each vodka and gin.

Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl and whip together with an electric mixture.

Transfer to a covered container or two, and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend – this recipe will make about 3/4 of a pint.

Serve on crackers, or, mebbe try spreading some on a flour tortilla, topping with some thinly sliced salami or prosciutto, then rolling tightly and slicing into little bits of bite sized heaven in a pinwheel.

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Fresh Relish


the only thing pickled about this fine relish is the avocado, which in and of itself is a lovely thing.

Still and all, I’m gonna stick with calling this a Fresh Relish instead of, say, a salsa – mostly because, it’s my blog and what I say goes.

Also because my husband has a kindofa strict definition of  foods in his head.

This is not “salsa-y” enough to fit his definition, but it is more than fine if I call it, say, a “fresh relish” for spooning over beer brats, or battered fish, or…

Most anything, really. Try adding some to your next salad.

The ingredients (and amounts) are mostly flexible, but, two of our must haves are the pickled avocado and the candied jalapeños.

Pickled Avocado, chopped
Candied Jalapeño slices
•Grape tomatoes, quartered
•Persian cucumbers, quartered and sliced
•Red onion, diced

•Chopped fresh parsley
•Sliced Kalamata olives

Make it a Salad:
•Crumbled Feta cheese
•Baby spinach

Prep is dead simple: simply toss the relish ingredients together, and stash in a covered bowl in the fridge until need for those beer brats or battered fish, or, heck, try some on a roll up sammich!

This one is salami and provolone with Medianoche Mayonaise and Zippy Mustard.

If adding to a salad, toss the relish with the greens and Feta just before serving, mebbe with a bit of oil and vinegar dressing.

It really is all good.

And oh! so tasty!

Don’t forget to try some over fish or chicken.

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Best! Baked Bacon

This was a kindofa magical recipe find for me; and I am just sorry I didn’t note the source, but, trust me on this, this is the best bacon I’ve had!

It is also wicked simple, and, if you line your rimmed baking pan with foil, clean up is a breeze – what more could you ask for?

Now, I tend to use uncured bacon – this batch thick cut apple wood smoked from Trader Joe’s, but most any bacon will work a treat, so, let’s go check it out…

•1 package bacon
•Bourbon Smoked Brown Sugar*
•Black pepper

*No Bourbon Smoked Brown Sugar? No problem! Use regular brown sugar and mebbe a bit of barbecue seasoning instead.

Heat your oven to 325º, line a rimmed baking pan with foil, and apply cooking spray.

Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the pan, then sprinkle with the sugar and pepper (and any other seasoning(s) you may like). I like to then brush the sugar and seasonings across the bacon to even it out.

Pop into the oven and bake until the bacon is cooked and as crispity as you like – 25 to 30 minutes should do it, but do keep an eye on it as thinner (or even thicker) cuts of bacon will take less time or more to cook.

Remove from the oven and allow to drain on a paper towel lined platter for a bit.

Note: don’t let the bacon sit on those paper towels for too long – mebbe a minute or so. If it cools too much, the caramelized sugar will stick to the paper towels.

Still and all. if that is the biggest problem with this recipe, I call it all good!

Enjoy your bacon.

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Firecracker Pork Tenderloin Tips

One of our local markets has this pretty terrific deal on pork tenderloin rib tips.

They are boneless. They are tasty. And they are cheap, so I always try to have a packet in the freezer.

They are most excellent in the slow cooker for Moo Shoo Street Tacos, and, as we shall see here, also wicked fine marinated and grilled with a spicy sweet Firecracker sauce.

A word about the sauce…

I was at Costco with a friend and my mom-in-law when my friend, Ruth, came across this bit ole bottle of  Johnny’s Firecracker Sauce and, long story short, we each bought a bottle for grilling and stuff.

Once I had the sauce home, and my tenderloin rib tips nicely marinated, I sampled the sauce and…

it is good!

Mebbe a bit too zippy for my mom-in-law, who happily spends most of her time with us well fed and red cheeked from the level of seasonings I use.

Good thing I had an open bottle of Diana Sauce in the fridge!

Note: I’ve only ever found Diana Sauce in Canada, but any barbecue sauce will work.

•12 oz beer
•4 cloves garlic, minced
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 tbsp lemon juice
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/2 tsp dried oregano
•1/2 tsp dried thyme
•1/4 tsp salt
•1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper

•1 pkg pork tenderloin tips, or 2 pork tenderloins
•4 or 5 cloves garlic, smashed
•Sliced sweet onion
•Fresh rosemary

Grilling Sauce:
•Firecracker Sauce
•Barbecue sauce (this one is nice)

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Add the marinade ingredients to a gallon zipper bag along with the pork, onion, garlic, and fresh rosemary.

Close the bag, toss to coat all of the pork, then stash in the fridge on a rimmed tray (to catch any drippage) for at least four hours or, always more better, overnight.

Give the bag a flip whenever you think to.

When ready to grill, remove from and discard the marinade, put your sauce together, and heat your grill.

I went one cup Firecracker and one cup barbecue sauce, and thought it a nice blend of heat and sweet.

Note: I don’t use the grill. It is my husband’s pride and joy, so all I can is, grill as you would any marinated pork, brushing with the sauce.

We thoroughly enjoyed this with pickled avocado salad and grilled Halloumi with a bit of sweet chili sauce drizzled over the top.

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Parfait! Buttermilk and Pickle Juice Brined Fried Chicken

So, I came across a recipe that looked really tempting – a buttermilk and pickle juice brined chicken for frying and serving in a sammich.

Thing is, it was similar to one I had made and posted about several years ago, so, today’s Parfait! post.

But (and here’s where things get interesting), what if I take the new brine recipe and then the nicely seasoned flour for frying?

What a pretty terrific brined, then fried chicken sammich!

•1 cup pickle juice (I used Dave’s)
•1 cup buttermilk*
•1 egg, lightly beaten
•1 tsp Kosher salt
•1 tsp Cayenne

Seasoned Flour:
•1/2 cup flour
•1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp dried basil –
•1/2 tsp Cayenne

•Boneless, skinless thighs or breasts
•Oil for frying

*No buttermilk? No Problem! Simply add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then add milk to make one cup. Whisk together and let rest for ten minutes. You are good to go.

Pound the chicken into thin pieces with a meat mallet, then stash in a zipper bag.

Whisk the brine ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Close the bag, place on a rimmed plate (to catch any possible dippage), and stash in the fridge for at least four hours or (always more better) overnight; flipping the bag whenever you think to.

When ready to cook, whisk the seasoned flour ingredients together in a shallow bowl and remove the chicken from the brine.

Discard the brine.

Heat your oven to 300º.

Coat both sides of the chicken in the seasoned flour, then add oil to measure about an inch or two in a large, high sided pan or Dutch oven (spatter control).

Warm the oil in the pan over medium high heat, then, when hot, add a couple of pieces of the floured chicken to the pan and cook for four minutes.

Note: do not try to do all the chicken at once; it is best not to crowd the pan.

Turn the chicken over, see how nice and golden brown it is, then cook for another three to four minutes, until both sides are golden brown.

Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate, then repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Note: second and/or third batches may very well cook a bit quicker than the first as the oil gets hotter, so adjust your cooking times or flame to compensate.

Makes for a fine chicken sammich with sliced tomato, Pickled Avocado, and some of my new fave Old Bay® Tartar Sauce.

Oh… and that roll?

Homemade, baby, and wicked fine as well; but those are details for next week.

For now, isn’t it about time for some chicken?

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Old Bay® Tartar Sauce

So, yeh, technically, I shared this recipe yesterday as part of the Chickpea “Crab” Cakes post; but it is so very simple to toss together, and so very tasty, that I thought it deserved a post all to itself.

As with the chickpea “crab” cakes, the original recipe was from the nice folk at the Food Network Kitchens, but, I made a few small changes to the original – like swapping my own Zippy Mustard for the Dijon called for, and using Famous Dave’s Signature Spicy Pickle Chips.

All works a treat for me!

Also, feel free to play around and mebbe increase the amount of Old Bay® Seasoning used. The nice folk at Food Network called for “a pinch” which I usually consider to be 1/8 teaspoon, but I think you might could bump that up to 1/4 teaspoon and all would be well with the world.

And the tartar sauce.

•1/4 cup mayonnaise
•1 tsp Zippy Mustard
•1/8 tsp Old Bay® Seasoning
•3 tbsp diced pickle*
•1 tbsp dill pickle brine

*As I noted above, I used Famous Dave’s Signature Spicy Pickle Chips.

Stir all of the ingredients together in a bowl until nicely combined, then transfer to a covered jar and stash in the fridge until needed.

Really nice on those “crab” cakes, but also fine on a fried chicken sammich, go, go ahead and put a batch together today…

the weekend is coming!

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Chickpea “Crab” Cakes

Also known as… falafel.

This recipe, from the very nice folk at Food Network, made for a fine vegetarian dinner – yeh, I know, the cakes are fried – but compare this to fried chicken or a steak, and I think we are all good, here.

The pickled avocado was a nice touch, too.

What makes these “crab” cakes, I am guessing, is the use of Old Bay Seasoning, which works a treat here.

“Crab” Cakes:
•2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas, drained
•1/4 cup liquid from the chickpea cans
•1/8 tsp cream of tartar
•1 tbsp lemon juice
•2 tsp Old Bay® Seasoning
•1 tsp Zippy Mustard
•2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
•2/3 cup Panko crumbs
•1/8 tsp Kosher salt
•2/3 cup all-purpose flour
•Canola oil, for frying

Tartar Sauce:
•1/4 cup mayonnaise
•1 tsp Zippy Mustard
•1/8 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
•3 tbsp chopped pickles
•1 tbsp pickle brine

Drain the chickpeas – don’t forget to save that 1/4 cup of canning liquid and set aside.

Add the cream of tartar to the canning liquid and whisk until foamy and thick.

Stir in the lemon juice, Old Bay® Seasoning, and the mustard until nicely blended – my immersion blender worked a treat here.

Stir this into the panko crumbs in a mixing bowl and set aside to rest for five or ten minutes to let the crumbs absorb the liquid.

Finely chop the chickpeas (I used a food processor) and stir into the soaked panko along with the chopped fresh parsley.

Squeeze the chickpea mixture together and shape into eight patties.

Arrange the patties on waxed paper, then cover and stash ’em in the fridge for at least one hour – you could do this the day before.

While the patties are cooling, stir the tartar sauce ingredients together in a small container, then cover and chill until needed.

When ready to cook the cakes, whisk the Kosher salt into the flour.

Add enough canola oil to cover a large, nonstick skillet and heat on medium high.

Dredge both sides of the cakes in the flour, then, working four at a time, cook in the hot oil for three minutes or so per side, until the cakes are nicely golden brown.

Transfer the cooked cakes to a platter and stash in a preheated 350º oven while you cook the remaining four cakes.

Note: I have always found the first set takes a bit longer and the second set takes a bit less time, so go ahead and adjust your heat if needed so the cakes don’t burn.

Serve the cakes with the tartar sauce, freshly sliced lemon, mebbe a nice salad, and, by all means, some of my fave Pickled Avocado.

We did not even miss the crab.

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Rice Vinegar Coleslaw

Usually, I make this Asian inspired coleslaw to top off Moo Shoo Pork Street Tacos, but, it turns out it stands on its own.

Really well.

Keep the ingredients simple; a bag of coleslaw mix and some scallions, or…

Go all out, as I did with this version, adding chopped parsley, blanched asparagus, red and yellow peppers, and roasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

Oh, and some diced, Pickled Avocado also works a treat.

Basic Coleslaw:
•1 bag coleslaw blend
•Scallions, sliced
•Fresh parsley, chopped

•3 tbsp brown sugar*
•2 tbsp rice vinegar (I use seasoned)

Additional Add Ins:
•Sliced blanched asparagus
•Sliced peppers
•Pepitas (or sunflower seeds)
Pickled Avocado, diced

*A note on the brown sugar: I used one tablespoon of this Smoked Brown Sugar and two tablespoons of plain light brown sugar. Fair warning: the smoked brown sugar is not cheap; but I have found that a little (like one tablespoon) goes a long way.

First things first; whisk your rice vinegar together with the brown sugar(s) in a large bowl until nicely blended.

Add the coleslaw blend and whatever other veggies/extras you feel like, then toss until everything is lightly coated.

Note: it may not look as though there is enough rice vinegar and brown sugar dressing for the amount of veggies used, but it all works out perfectly.

Transfer the tossed salad to a bowl, cover tightly, and stash in the fridge until ready to serve.

If you feel like it, toss some crispy chow mein noodles into the salad just before serving.

I have not tried it (yet), but can only think that adding some chopped cooked chicken or turkey to the mix would give you a heartier, more main course salad.

And, of course…

I cannot stress enough how very, very good the diced Pickled Avocado is in this salad.

Two of my new favorite things, all in one tasty salad!

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Parfait! Moo Shoo Pork Tacos

I came across a file of this recipe from 2016 and cannot believe I haven’t made it again since.

This is, hands down, one of my favorite taco recipes.


Before we get carried away, I should point out that this is not your typical pork taco. The pork is shredded, sure, but the seasoning profile?

Moo Shoo, baby, all the way!

•4 large boneless country style pork ribs

•1/4 cup lower sodium tamari
•2 tbsp peanut butter
•1 tbsp honey
•2 tsp rice vinegar
•2 tsp sesame oil
•1 tsp Sriracha
•1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
•1/4 cup Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/2 tsp Mesquite liquid smoke
•1/8 tsp garlic powder
•Black pepper
•Fresh chopped parsley
•1 tbsp key lime juice
•1 tbsp chopped basil
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•3 scallions (white and light green parts), sliced
•1 tsp ground ginger

•1 bag coleslaw mix
•Dark green parts of the scallions from the pork, chopped
•3 tbsp rice vinegar
•2 tbsp brown sugar
•Chopped fresh parsley

•Mini flour tortillas (corn tortillas work a treat, too)

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: I used pork tenderloin tip ends in place of the country style ribs. Worked a treat.

Stir the sauce ingredients together in a slow cooker until well blended.

Add the pork ribs, tossing to coat with the sauce, then cook on high until tender, basting with the sauce and turning the ribs when you think to. My slow cooker did it in around four hours.

Remove the pork from the sauce and shred using two forks.

Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside to cool, then skim the fat off the top and return to the slow cooker. Add the pork and keep warm until ready to serve.

Toss the coleslaw mix with the scallions, rice vinegar and brown sugar until nicely dressed.

When ready to serve, lightly toast your tortillas and top with the pork and the coleslaw.

Additional toppings: pickled avocado and sweet chili sauce top these tasty tacos off very nicely.

Those pickled avocados go nicely in the coleslaw, too.

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Vinegar and Salt Roasted Potatoes

This may very well be one of my new favorite ways to make potatoes; and, I love me my potatoes!

The recipe, from and sponsored by the very nice folk who make Morton® Kosher Salt, is at once simple and wicked tasty.

They served the potatoes with a garlic and paprika mayonnaise blend, but I thought that my Medianoche Cuban style mayonnaise worked a treat.

•2 lbs small red potatoes
•1 cup white vinegar
•2 tbsp Kosher Salt, divided
•1 tbsp olive oil
•Freshly cracked pepper
•1 tbsp chopped fresh chives (optional)

Medianoche Mayonnaise:
•1 cup mayonnaise
•1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
•1 tbsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce (or your fave hot sauce, to taste)

Wash the potatoes well, place in a large pot and add the vinegar.

Add enough water to cover the potatoes, then stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons of the Kosher salt.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Boil the potatoes for ten to fifteen minutes, until you can pierce them with a fork, but they are not too mushy.

Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside to cool.

Now would be a fine time to make your Medianoche mayonnaise!

Whisk the Italian dressing and hot sauce into the mayonnaise, then transfer to a small container, cover, and stash in the fridge.

When ready to finish the potatoes, heat your oven to 400º, thinly slice the cooled potatoes, and toss with the olive oil, black pepper, another 1-1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, and, if you’re using them, the sliced fresh chives.

Arrange the sliced seasoned potatoes in a single layer on a large baking pan and pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

Stir the potatoes and bake for another 15 minutes, until the potatoes are nicely browned on both sides and just a bit crispity.

Serve with the mayonnaise for dipping.

Note: any leftover potatoes work a treat stirred into taco seasoned meat; they might could even take the place of ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken in your tacos if you are feeling vegetarian.

Just a thought…

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