Tag Archives: pork

Easy Acorn Squash Stuffed with Circle B Ranch Italian Sausage and Trio of Peppers

What a week. I had planned this for dinner Monday but didn’t get a chance to make it until lunch on Friday. This easy dish comes together in 20 minutes or less (that tells you how busy my week was when I couldn’t even fit this in).

I used sweet Italian sausage from Circle B Ranch, a small hog farm in Seymour, Mo., that is certified Humanely Raised and has great products. I’ve been to the farm and the hogs are healthy and roam freely.

For this dish, I simply microwaved the squash, sautéed all my other ingredients and then stuffed them into the cooked squash. I drizzled it all with 18-year-old balsamic vinegar. An excellent quality balsamic vinegar is a must in this dish which has a lot of sweet accents from the sausage and squash and the vinegar just pulls them all together.

Serves 2

1 acorn squash

1 Italian sausage links

1 small red onion

Half a red bell pepper

Half a green bell pepper

Half a yellow bell pepper

1 small garlic clove

Excellent quality aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Directions:

Cut acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Stab the flesh several times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper and place 1 teaspoon of butter or olive oil in the cavity of each half. Place in a microwave safe dish with 1/2 cup of water on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.

As that cooks, chop red onion, red, yellow and green bell peppers; and garlic.

In a nonstick pan, sauté the onion and sausage (remove the casing first) together until almost done. When the sausage is about a minute away from being cooked through, add the bell peppers and onions and cook 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

By now, the squash will be done. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and don’t put your hand in front of the steam.

Stuff filling into the cavity of each. Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar and serve.

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Green Tomato Relish

I love relishes but so many take a long time to cook and/or are canned at the end.

My Green Tomato Relish takes less than 20 minutes and is great on pork, chicken, turkey or even brats (instead of sweet relish). It’s a sweet relish accented with coriander seed and is stored in the refrigerator for a week. If you like chutneys and relishes, give it a try.

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Green Tomato Relish

2/3 cup chopped red onion

2 cup green tomatoes that have been put through the food processor but are still in chunks

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon coriander seed

3 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

½ a small garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottom medium saucepan, heat red onion, tomatoes, sugar, coriander seed, water, celery seed and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid has been evaporated. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow to cool before serving.

Serve over pork chop, turkey, chicken or brats or other sausages.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

Mango, Pineapple Salsa (serve it as an appetizer first and leftovers on pork, chicken or fish)

I love salsa. Fruit salsa. Smokey salsa. Charred salsa. Jarred salsa. Green salsa. You name it, I love it.

But I particularly love this Mango, Pineapple Salsa. One of my best friends makes a similar salsa and this is my version. My salsa won “Best Overall Salsa” at a friendly competition and it was up against an array of excellent salsas.

Aside from being delicious served on its own, this salsa is great on grilled fish or pork. I recently marinated pork chops for 24 hours in Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce (online) http://www.soyvay.com/flavors/veri-veri-teriyaki) and then pan fried the pork and topped it with the leftover salsa. It was fantastic!

 Pork with Mango, Pineapple Salsa

If you don’t have that sauce, use soy sauce, ginger, 1 teaspoon canola oil, 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar  and 1/2 a garlic clove for 3-4 pork chops. That makes a nice marinade. A pork loin marinated in Asian sauce, grilled and then served with this salsa would be spectacular.

This would also be great on chicken or fish tacos.

The key to this salsa is ripe, sweet fruit. Mangoes are hardly ever ripe when you buy them, so I buy them 3-4 days before I need to make this salsa. I also buy extras in case some are not sweet. Whenever I have to use avocados or mangoes I buy extra because you’ll often get a disappointing one in the batch. I bought 5 mangoes to be safe. There were all sweet, so I ate the others for breakfast.

Let this marinate for 2 hours or more before serving. You can adapt this recipe and add 2/3 cup drained black beans to this and it’s delicious, too. In that case, I also add 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

If you can’t find ripe mangoes, you can use the jarred refrigerated type, but fresh is always best!

I like to serve it in a margarita or martini glass for nice presentation. It’s such a refreshing salsa for summer. I adore it!

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Mango, Pineapple Salsa

2 1/2 very ripe mangoes, chopped fine

2 ½ cups finely chopped fresh pineapple

¾ of a medium red onion, chopped

2/3 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine

1 teaspoon cumin seed

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Sea salt to taste

.Directions:

Chop all the ingredients and place in a medium bowl. Add salt to taste. Toss and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Make your own barbecue sauce this week

It’s July 4th week, which means the grills are going to be sizzling all over this country.

It’s a perfect time for me to take a break from my rotisserie chicken and showcase other fare.

I wrote this story for The Joplin Globe http://www.joplinglobe.com. And today, I am showing off some of my homemade barbecue sauce recipes. I make a mean sauce and have plenty of ideas for you.

Some are homemade, some are doctored up, but all are delicious. My Blueberry Port sauce is sooooooooo easy and delectable!DSC_0733 (2)

There are many styles of barbecue sauce in this nation. This is a very abbreviated version of some of the highlights:

There’s the sweet, dark, tomato and molasses variety from Kansas City, accented with a dose of liquid smoke. This is one of the nation’s most popular varieties and one of my favorites. And from that style, comes a variety of commercial spin-offs, like honey, honey-bourbon, etc.

I love the thickness of this variety because it sticks to the meat.

Then, there’s the mustard and vinegar sauce from South Carolina which I love, too. This style was inspired by German immigrants in South Carolina and is nothing like the K.C. variety. This sauce is very thin so it’s better to dip your meat in it (if you pour it over a sandwich, the bread will get soggy).

I make an easy 10 minute version with plain yellow mustard (traditional), a little coarse mustard (not so traditional), vinegar, sugar and lager. It’s best served on pork or chicken. The beer really compliments the mustard.

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North Carolina also serves up a vinegar sauce but has a good kick of hot pepper. I prefer its neighboring state’s tradition.

Then, there’s Texas, which has different varieties by region. There’s not a classic barbecue sauce per say, but the sauces in the Lone Star state tend to have heat, like jalapenos, and spices like cumin and chili powder. I’ve also found the varieties in Texas to be less sweet and thinner than the Kansas City style.

And Memphis has a style similar to Kansas City, with a lot of tomato and brown sugar or molasses in the recipe. Kansas City is actually a mutation from the Memphis version. Dry rubs are popular in Memphis.

While you can buy so many commercial varieties these days to reflect these traditions, it’s fun and easy to make your own (or doctor up your own).

When I make barbecue for a party, I like to put out a homemade barbecue sauce bar and offer five varieties or so. It’s perfect because people get to sample a variety of sauces and the smorgasbord of sauce satisfies a variety of taste buds.

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Here’s a tip: I usually put out pretzel sticks next to the sauce so people can dip a stick to taste the sauce and decide which one they want to use. You also use less meat this way and less chance of contaminating the sauce.

Another great thing about barbecue sauce is if the meat is a little dry, sauce can cover up that mistake. Even moist barbecue tends to dry out by the second day, so barbecue sauce can make leftovers more palatable.

I have a variety of recipes for you, including some doctored up varieties. And here’s a few extra ideas to doctor up some more sauces, but I recommend using inexpensive sauce when trying these:

  • Mix together 1 cup barbecue sauce with ½ cup hot picante sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • A shot of brandy or bourbon can add depth to a sauce.
  • Add ½ cup of beer to 1 ½ cups of sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Try adding in orange zest for a burst of flavor.
  • Chopped jalapenos will add great spice to a sweet sauce and make it sweet and spicy.
  • Try adding apple butter or a blackberry jam to sauce to kick up the sweetness and add depth.

Other than that, invite friends over and enjoy the barbecue.

Mustard and Lager Sauce

Makes a large batch

1 tablespoon coarse mustard

¼ cup yellow mustard

½ cup apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup Lager

2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 5 minutes (use an overly large pot to keep it from boiling over). Whisk ingredients together halfway through the cooking. Cool before serving.

This sauce is best with chicken, pork, and a variety of grilled sausages. A thick slice of sharp cheddar cheese is also nice dipped in this sauce.

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Blueberry Port Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons Port

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Place all ingredients in a medium pan and bring to a simmer. Use a potato masher to mash blueberries. Turn off heat and allow to cool. You can puree this sauce once it has cooled to make it smooth or serve as is.

Note: This sauce is so good, you can serve it as a dip either plain or on top of a block of cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

This sauce is best on chicken, pork, or salmon (as a finishing glaze).

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No Cook Peach Barbecue Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup canned peaches in heavy syrup (with about 1 tablespoon of the peach liquid in the cup)

Place peaches in the blender and blend until smooth.

Stir the puree into the barbecue sauce and serve.

This sauce is best with pork or chicken.

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Sweet BBQ Sauce (Similar to Kansas City)

Makes a medium batch (double the recipe for a party)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/3 cup chopped red onion

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ cup ketchup

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon liquid smoke

In a medium, nonstick pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions and ground cumin and cook for 5 minutes. Then add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so mixture does not stick. Turn off heat and cool before serving.

I personally like to serve this with the bits of onion, but you can put it through the blender if you want a smooth sauce.

This sauce is great with beef, game meats, or chicken.

Tusk and Trotter in Bentonville, Ark.

I didn’t make this chocolate, caramel, date piece of HEAVEN, but I can tell you where to get it.

dessert

This dessert is worth every calorie. It’s called  Trot on Over Here and it’s sticky pudding cake flavored with coffee and medjool dates topped with chocolate sauce, caramel and maple bacon brittle ice cream. The ice cream was scrumptious!!! This smooth buttery, caramel ice cream had lovely chunks of maple bacon brittle adding perfect contrast to the texture.

The fried mint on the side did nothing for it and actually distracted from it. I pushed it aside.

This treat was voted Best Bacon Dish in the South by Southern Living Magazine.

It’s available at the Tusk and Trotter in downtown Bentonville, Ark. http://www.tuskandtrotter.com/

trot

We stopped Sunday for brunch there and  had a good meal. The main courses (Eggs Benedict and eggs gratin) were just ok, but the appetizer of risotto balls was fantastic. Creamy risotto, was mixed with ground meat, homemade sausage, herbs and cheese and then rolled in balls and fried. FAB-U-LOUS. Don’t these look good?

risotto balls

We had a nice mimosa. I did not like the Bloody Mary because it was thin, but my husband prefers thin mixes so he liked it. They have an array of Bloody Mary’s to choose from from pickles to bacon to ghost pepper. That’s just personal taste.

The Pomme Frites covered in Herbs de Provence were also fantastic. They had a sticky sauce on them and I didn’t think I’d like it, but I did.

But the dessert was the highlight! And they have a biscuit covered with “chocolate gravy” and served whipped cream and strawberry ice cream. That’s on my list next time. I was stuffed! Next time, I will order the risotto balls, a salad and go for two desserts. I am not kidding. I don’t eat a lot of dessert, but when I do, I go all out!

Here is the interior of the restaurant.

We took a day trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and had brunch in Bentonville. Both are fabulous!