As seen on WBTV: Three Awesome Sausage Toppers {recipe}

Posted on Jul 22, 2014 | 5 comments

Did you catch me talking sausage toppings on WBTV this morning?  Check out the video link below!

Here we are, in the height of backyard barbecue season, with literally dozens of ketchup and mustard covered hot dogs under our belts, and I.am.bored.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that classic combo, but sometimes I crave to shake things up a bit.  Get a little spicy, a little saucy, a little something like THIS:

Sausage toppings

TOPPING REMIX #1:  a Mexican-inspired sandwich using Johnsonville Chorizo Sausage  topped with some of my homemade guacamole and fresh pico de gallo.  Incredible flavor, practically impossible to eat just one.

TOPPING REMIX #2:  a Johnsonville Turkey Sausage with Cheddar topped with barbecue sauce and a simple lightened up slaw.  Hearty and healthified without sacrificing a pants size.

Sausage topping

sausage toppings - guacamole slaw pico de gallo

The Best Guacamole of Your Life (according to this girl)

  • 1 medium-sized ripe avocado (a ripe avocado is one that is soft to the touch, but not squishy, and definitely not rock hard)
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 heaping tbps chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Halve the avocado with a knife, scoop out the avocado pulp into a medium bowl, and discard the seed.  Mash the avocado with a fork, then add the remaining ingredients.  Stir, and enjoy!

 

Pico de Gallo

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add additional salt and black pepper to taste.

 

Simple Lightened-up Cole Slaw

Recipe here!

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Chinese Porterhouse Pork Chops {recipe}

Posted on Jun 30, 2014 | 2 comments

Growing up, pork chops were one of my least favorite family dinners.   Coated in Shake n Bake and cooked, and cooked until they were so firm a steak knife would bow as you sawed through them, it was one of the few meals I wouldn’t fight my brother for seconds on.  They ranked only slightly higher than hobo dinners, yet, just like those horrid foil packets of sliced kielbasa and mushy vegetables I dreaded, the chops required a vat of Ranch dressing to make them swallowable.   Of course, this was before the USDA revised the temperature guidelines for cooking pork.  The new rule-of-thumb is 145 degrees and 3 minutes resting time, which results in one juicy, tender chop.  Voilà:

hoisin pork chop 2

Speaking of revisions, did you know pork cuts recently underwent a renaming process?  I had no idea, until I started searching for this month’s North Carolina Pork Council Blog Network featured cut of pork:  the Porterhouse Chop, formerly known as the pork loin chop.  I found this handy reference image on the Pork Be Inspired website:

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For these chops, I was shooting for big, bold flavors and juicy meat — something a wee bit crazy to put the chops of my childhood to shame.

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Adventures in Grilling

Posted on Jun 15, 2014 | 4 comments

Back in Ohio, I had a lot of things.  A house.  A yard.  Shrubbery.  The whole kit and kaboodle.  Sure, most people save downsizing til they’re empty-nesters, but me?  Oh, no.  I cut ties with three-quarters of my belongings at age 26, leaving behind my beloved hedging shears, lawn gnomes, and my beautiful propane grill (complete with double burners), and headed south.  Since then, I’ve dreamed of the day I’d once again cook over an open flame, just me, my meat, and the great outdoors.

I spent the Memorial Day weekend at home in Ohio, and one morning I convinced my dad to teach me how to light a charcoal grill.  As a soon-to-be-thirty, self-declared independent woman, I’m ashamed to publicly announce my ineptitude in this area.  But standing in the backyard, listening to him explain the mechanics of the offset smoker while the flames licked at the mound of coals put a fire in my belly.

And when I returned home to Charlotte, this:

Weber One Touch

Even before I’d taken the grill out of the box, I invited a few friends over for sausage party.  I stocked my fridge full of Johnsonville brats, opened up a bottle of wine, and got to assembling my new grill.

weber one touch partsweber one touch assembled

In retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea to give the ole grill a trial run.  Nothing like going at it green with a crowd full of hungry bystanders.  Though my dad had showed me how easy it was to light a charcoal grill using a charcoal chimney, I was overcome with a sudden confidence in the grilling aisle at Lowes, and when I picked up the chimney to put it in my cart, I thought, “oh, no, I got this,” and put the chimney right back on the shelf.  Flash forward a few hours later, with the aforementioned starving bystanders, and me with nary a chimney, shred of newspaper, or drop of lighter fluid in sight.

An hour and one burnt thumb later, there was ash-covered charcoal… sort of.

IMG_6883

And we waited.grilling & chillin

Several mistakes were made this day, but I did do one thing right.  Friends, ALWAYS have snacks on hand.  The simple Johnsonville Andouille smoked sausage and caramelized onion pizza I threw together kept my friends from rioting while we faltered with the grill.  This is sausage and onions done right.  Classy, even.

andouille and caramelized onion pizza 2

And after two hours of “grilling” we FINALLY sat down and enjoyed some Johnsonville original brats plus some brat-stuffed jalapeno peppers.  And you know what?  It was fantastic.  Even with all the flubs, as long as you don’t pierce the brat with a fork and leach it of its juices, that thing is sure to be delicious.

(As soon as everyone left, I logged onto Amazon and ordered a charcoal chimney.)

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Macy’s Grilling Guru Competition hits Charlotte

Posted on Jun 14, 2014 | 0 comments

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Macy’s Great American Grilling Guru Competition stopped into Charlotte last week, and I had the opportunity to watch the gurus get their grill on, onstage at Macy’s in South Park.

HERE’S THE SCOOP:  The competition launched back in Cat-Cora---Macys-South-Park-Charlott[1]April, and contestants had until May 3rd to submit their recipes.  On June 7th, 18 semi-finalists competed in Sizzle Showdowns at six locations across the country, judged by Macy’s Culinary Council Chefs, including Cat Cora and Stephanie Izard.   The winner of each semi-final showdown gets to compete in the finale in New York City on June 28th, and the finale winner gets $10,000 plus a trip to New York City to watch the 2015 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks.  Awesome, right?

At the competition, I was shocked by the contestants’ calm demeanor onstage.  I expected a mad dash, but each contestant confidently worked through their recipes and finished early, submitting their final plates to Chef Cat Cora for judging.

The competing recipes were:

  • Sherri’s Grilled Thai Lamb Loin Chops
  • Josee’s Shrimp & Apricot Stuffed Grilled Pork Tenderloin
  • Andre’s Steak & Potato Sliders with Basil Gorgonzola Cream

Cat-Cora---Macys-South-Park-Charlott

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Viddlz Alertz {plus a sneak peek of J. Sam’s}

Posted on Jun 7, 2014 | 1 comment

I have a few food obsessions.  Yes, besides my well-documented love of barbecue, there are some foods I simply cannot go without ordering.  Burrata.  Scallops.  Caramelized onion anything.  Housemade bread.  Bread pudding.  Bread.  We all have our trigger foods.  How cool would it be to get an automatic alert any time one of the foods you’re craving was offered by a imagerestaurant?  Blackberry cobbler, softshell crab, meatloaf.  Whatever!  That would cut out, like, hours of food research a week.  Am I right?  That’s why I’m super excited about a new concept in Charlotte called Viddlz Alertz.  It’s an online tool that lets you manage your cravings by alerting you when your particular food obession is offered in the area.  Plus, the Alertz system displays daily drink and food specials from restaurants and bars you follow (you can also get daily email updates with this info), and the Viddlz app is expected to be rolled out later this month.

J Sams Charlotte Scallops

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Kale Caesar Salad with Pan-Seared Shrimp

Posted on Jun 5, 2014 | 1 comment

Back in 2010, I made a personal vow to focus on healthy eating (read all about it here). This was a challenge for me, the girl who considers bread, brie, and wine a square meal, so I started with small things, like packing a homemade lunch each day, instead of relying on Lean Cuisines and fast food. Slowly, I established a routine of making healthy choices whenever I was the one in control of the preparation (well, MOST of the time, anyway), which lets me enjoy eating at restaurants without worrying quite so much about all the salt and the butter and delightful carbohydrates I’m consuming.

One of my healthy eating goals for 2014 is to incorporate more kale into my diet, as part of the Kale Up campaign.  Kale is a green I’ve shied away from in the past, other than occasionally tossing a few handfuls into a nice bean soup. Kale is a very hearty green — you don’t have to worry about it going limp or getting soggy. I often find kale salads are even better when the kale has a bit of time to “marinate” in the dressing.

kale Caesar salad with shrimp

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Crumbled Goat Cheese and Blistered Tomatoes {recipe}

Posted on May 29, 2014 | 1 comment

Ohhhh pork.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

Barbecue.

Tenderloin.

Barbecue.

Barbecue.

Wait.  Did I mention barbecue?

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Crumbled Goat Cheese and Blistered Tomatoes 4

Seriously, though.  Pork tenderloin is a super simple, oober delicious and versatile cut of meat.  My all-time favorite tenderloin recipe is my Sweet Chili Pork Tenderloin.  Roasting the pork in the oven is so simple (arguably fool-proof), I decided to use the same approach for this recipe, which utilizes some of those sweet summer tomatoes starting to pop up in the markets.

This is the first of five pork recipes I’ll be creating for the North Carolina Pork Council Blogging Network in 2014.  Did you even know there was such a thing?  Admittedly, I did not, but when the Pork Council comes a knockin on your inbox,  you say YES, PLEASE.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Crumbled Goat Cheese and Blistered Tomatoes

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