Grilled Smoked Sausages with Barbecue Sauce

06-26-2013-4This is almost a silly posting – such a simple “recipe” – yet one of the favorites with my guys for a quick, easy dinner. Only two ingredients. From prep to table in about 20 minutes. Can’t beat that for easy. It’s one of those family favorite “junk” comfort foods. Coupled with the right sides, it’s both filling and delicious. There is a little more to this posting then what meets the eye. When I miss Brother Dear, I take to cooking his kind of grub. Grilled Smoked Sausage was one of his favorites.

These yummy grilled sausages not only make a great quick and easy supper, they would feel right at home at any backyard barbecue. Served along side such popular backyard favorites as barbecued chicken, these grilled sausages bring a little variety to the feast while stretching your food dollar in the process. The flavors of the grilled sausages and barbecue chicken would complement one another and take very little time to prepare. A boneless chicken thigh or two cooked up on the grill and kissed with your favorite barbecue sauce, a serving of “J” shaped barbecued sausage, some fried potatoes and maybe an ear of corn – your guests will be both full and satisfied. Sometimes we’ll have a “big barbecue” – some chicken, maybe a tri-tip or two, and I’ll trow on a few Smoked Sausages, knowing that Brother Dear will be sitting at the table with us, if only in spirit.

Grilled Smoked Sausages with Barbecue Sauce 
2 Packages Hillshire Farms Smoked Beef Sausage
1 Cup Barbecue Sauce, any flavor

Heat small gas grill for direct cooking. Split sausages in half width-wise to create 2 halves. Split again lengthwise to open sausage. You will now have 8 “J” shaped sausages.

When grill is ready, place sausage haves on grill skin side up until nicely cooked. Turn, brush with barbecue sauce and continue to grill until heated through.

Serve with additional barbecue sausage if desired.

Great with Country Style Southern Fried Taters and corn.

Looking for more of Brother Dear’s favorite sausage? Try Brother Dear’s Smokes Sausage and Fried Potatoes

Summer Squash Sautéed with Garlic-Dill Weed

One of my favorite side dishes is also one of the easiest to make. A little slicing, a dash of seasoning, quick swirl in a pan and that’s it. The vegetables are seasoned just right with a kiss of garlic and a pinch of dill. Salt is purely an optional thing – a little Himalayan Pink Salt will go a long way to bring out the flavors of the squash.

Summer Squash Sautéed with Garlic-Dill Weed
2 Zucchini, coin cut
1 Yellow Squash, coin cut
1-2 Turns Himalayan Pink Salt (Optional)
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Garlic Clove, pressed
Dash of Dill Weed (Fresh or dry)

Coin cut squash, season with salt (if using), toss and set aside until ready to use.

Melt butter in a large, flat bottom skillet over medium heat.

Sauté squash until warm and crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Press garlic over squash and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Add a dash of dill, toss and serve.


Butterfly Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

This is one of those recipes that has made several appearances on our meal planner, only to be pushed aside, opting instead for fast food, a night of left overs or cold sandwiches. For whatever the reason, the dish could not find its way from the planning stage to the execution process. Finally, I painted myself into a corner – two beautiful breasts wrapped in butcher paper sat it the refrigerator, along with fresh broccoli from the farmer’s market and a bright orange pepper. No excuses – no backing down.

Delicious! Easy and delicious! Hubby loved the rich sauce and even Kiddo ate his broccoli. Yeah, this is one dish we will serve again and again. It’s one of those yummy dishes that would do well at a potluck, too. Hope you give it a try soon – I promise, you won’t be sorry!

Warm bread, simple salad of young greens and a refreshing crisp wine – perfect for an unhurried Sunday supper.

Butterfly Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
Flour for dredging.
1 (12 oz) Package Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Head Broccoli, cut into Florets
1 Orange Bell Pepper, seeded, sliced thin
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 (8 oz) Container Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook 10-15 minutes or until al dente (Firm to the Tooth/Bite). Drain.

Heat a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet.

Cut chicken into strips, dredge lightly in flour and brown in the skillet until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes per side, turning as needed. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

To now empty skillet, add chicken broth, bell pepper, garlic, broccoli, salt and pepper. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and add chicken. Cover and let simmer 8-10 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Stir in cream cheese until smooth. Add pasta to sauce. Toss to coat evenly and heated through.

Pour mixture onto large rimmed serving platter. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese and serve.

Kiddo’s Awesome Brown Sugar Bacon

Sometimes it’s better when you don’t know the “proper” way to do things. A few nights ago, Hubby and I came home from running errands, opened the front door and were promptly greeted by the aroma of bacon. Not just bacon, but brown sugar bacon. No doubt about the smells. Kiddo was in the kitchen, eager to greet us. He had cooked up some brown sugar bacon (Kiddo loves bacon – could live on bacon) and had managed enough self-control to save us about a quarter of a slice to “sample”. It was awesome – smoky and sweet without being overly sticky. Wow!

As I sampled my little bite of yummy brown sugar bacon, I noticed there were no baking pans soaking in the sink with caramelized brown sugar. No racks dripping with the goo. Not even a hint of a sticky piece of foil. The only thing in the sink was a griddle pan, and it wasn’t a huge mess either.

“How did you cook this?” I asked, surveying the lack of mess in my kitchen.

“Simple.” Kiddo replied with a big smile, his chest all puffed up with pride. “I added brown sugar to the fry pan.”

Really? Fried brown sugar bacon? Not baked, not broiled but fried, as in cooked on a flat fry pan. I was amazed.

For Sunday’s breakfast of French Toast I asked Kiddo to cook up his brown sugar bacon. It was really simple – so simple there’s really no need for a real recipe. It’s all a matter of how much bacon, and go from there.

Brown Sugar Fried Bacon
2 tablespoons Bacon Drippings or as needed
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar or as needed
6 Slices Smoked Bacon or as desired

Heat a flat skillet or griddle pan over medium heat.

Add about 2 or 3 tablespoons bacon drippings to the warm pan. Stir in about a tablespoon or so light brown sugar to the melted drippings. Lay bacon over the brown sugar flavored drippings and fry bacon as you normally would, turning as needed to prevent bacon from burning.

As the grease in the pan increases, add a little more brown sugar to keep it a glaze consistency. Continue to cook bacon until it is golden and crisp.

To cook up additional slices, transfer cooked bacon in an oven safe rimmed dish and keep warm in the oven. To the now empty skillet, add a little more brown sugar to the pan and continue to cook a second batch of smoky, yummy bacon.

Each batch of bacon takes about 10 minutes or so to fry up – much faster than baking in the oven with the same yummy results.

Clean-up is a snap. Dump grease into the can you keep under the sink for grease (you know, the one that is later thrown out with the trash – please don’t tell me you dump grease down the sink!) Then wash the pan in warm soapy water. No soaking necessary.

Mema’s Macaroni Salad

This delicious and super simple Macaroni Salad has been in our family forever (or at least since the 1950s). With the exception of cute little garnishes and presentation ideas, very little has changed. It’s Mom’s recipe and growing up I loved it. Hubby’s favorite, too. He’s a basic kind of guy, so uncomplicated foods suite him just fine. Rather than leave this little gem of a recipe obscured in a montage of recipes, I thought it would be nice to bring it out of hiding. After all, these are the fading days of summer. Soon enough we will be packing away the picnic baskets, backyard grills and whatever else is a part of our summer fun in the sun. In our house, macaroni salad is all a part of this type of year.

When entertaining, I usually make Mema’s Potato Salad to go with my Macaroni Salad. Have you noticed that there are Potato Salad eaters or Macaroni Salad lovers – preferring one type over another? For big gatherings or when I’m asked to make a few dishes, I like to make both just to keep everyone happy.

Mema’s Macaroni Salad
6 Eggs, hard-boiled
1 lb Salad Macaroni
¼ Cup Green Onions, finely chopped
¼ Cup Red onion, finely chopped
2 Celery Stocks, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Dill Pickle Relish (more to taste)
1 ½ Cups Best Food Mayonnaise
½ Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Green Onions for Garnish (Optional)
½ Cup Chopped Black Olives (Optional)

Peel hard-boiled eggs and set in refrigerator to cool completely.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain and rinse well under cold running water. Set aside to continue draining.

In bowl, combine onions, celery, pickle relish, mayonnaise and red wine vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste dressing and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning according to personal tastes.

Chop 4 eggs. Add to dressing. Cut V marks in remaining 2 eggs to create tulip flowers. Reserve 3 flowers, chop remaining flower and add to dressing. Taste dressing a second time, adjust seasonings as necessary.

Place macaroni in a large bowl. Pour egg dressing over macaroni. If desired, add chopped olives and toss to coat. Smooth out top.

Using the back of a spoon, create 3 indentations in the top of the salad. Place Egg flowers into indentations. If desired, sprinkle lightly with paprika. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled.

Note: Did you know you can color the macaroni to suite the celebration? Check out the photo below – same salad, colored for the 4th of July. Orange for Halloween, maybe red and green for Christmas – you get the idea.


Country Ribs with Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce

On the outskirts of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin stood the Golden Eagle Tavern. The bar itself was small, with living quarters on one side and a separate building on the other side that made and sold the most amazing barbecue sandwiches. The location was perfect – right along the highway between Wisconsin Rapids and Steven’s Point. On any given day, travelers along the picturesque wooded state route would pull off the road and mosey on up to the rustic log establishment to order some of the best barbecue around. What set the Golden Eagle Tavern and Grill apart was their barbecue sauce. It was different, tangy with a peppery taste. The longer the sauce was allowed to stew, the more intense the flavor became. Without question, the Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce was the key to the success and popularity of the Golden Eagle Tavern and Grill.


At least as far back as the early 1950s, (I’ve heard tell it might have been as far back as 1930s or 40s) The Golden Eagle Tavern and Grill was owned and operated by Joe and Nelda Goodwin. Joe and Nelda weren’t a young couple venturing into the restaurant business who suddenly struck gold. By the mid to late 1950s, when the Golden Eagle Tavern and Grill became popular among locals and travelers alike, the Goodwins had a few years under their belts. Joe Goodwin was born in 1888, his wife, Nelda, in 1901. They were married in 1928, and sometime thereafter the Golden Eagle open its doors. It’s unclear if Joe or Nelda developed the recipe for Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce, or if it was a collaborated effort. Joe passed on in 1970, and sometime after that, Nelda decided to hang up her apron (she tended bar as well) and sold the joint. When the restaurant was sold, the recipe was part of the packaged deal. Eventually the original buildings were bulldozed over and an old favorite was forever gone, lost in the march of progress. Today another bar and grill sits on the lot, a bit further back from the road and much larger. Yet the Golden Eagle Barbecue sauce has managed to survive.

Nelda Goodwin was my husband’s grandfather’s sister. When my husband’s grandmother passed away, we went to Wisconsin to help sort through her belongings. In a box on a scrap of paper that was yellowed by age was a hand-written recipe for Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce. I don’t know if Nelda herself wrote it down more than fifty years prior for her sister-in-law, but there it was all the same, in its original glory.  My husband remembers the sandwiches as thin slices of smoked beef brisket smothered in this amazing sauce. I use it to make Country Ribs. We also use the sauce on chicken, pulled-pork and even burgers. The recipe will make more sauce than you can use in a single sitting, and it stores well in the fridge. By the time you get to those last few drops, the intensity of the flavors is incredible!

So for this post, you’re getting two recipes – some of the best, moist country ribs around and a sauce that has endless possibilities. When we do up the ribs, I like to serve them will country-style fried potatoes and grilled corn on the cob.

Some people “boil” their ribs for a while to help in the cooking process. I like to slow-cook the ribs in a warm oven over a pan of seasoned water, (steaming them tender) then finish them off on the grill. It’s braising – only in reverse. This method results in a country rib that is fork-tender with flavors that have penetrated the meat completely.

Country Style Pork Ribs with Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce
Ingredients Ribs:
4-6 lbs Boneless Country Pork Ribs, trimmed
2 Cups Water
1 Onion, cut into large chunks
3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed
1-2 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke

Preheat oven to 300-degrees.

In the bottom of a broiler pan, add water, onion and liquid smoke. Rub minced garlic into meat.

Lightly brush ribs with barbecue sauce. Let sit for 15 minutes to soak in the sauce. Place on top of broiler pan, cover tightly with foil cook in the oven 1-2 hours or until meat is tender but not falling apart.

Increase oven to 325-degrees and cook an additional 15 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on the ribs at this point. You want it to be tender but still intact, otherwise it will fall apart when finished off on the grill.

Ingredients: Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce
1 Bottle Hunt’s Ketchup (32 oz) – see footnote
3 Tablespoon Dry Mustard
2 Teaspoons Ground Pepper
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
½ Cup Cider Vinegar
½ Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Chili Sauce
1 Tablespoon Hickory Liquid Smoke

To make barbecue sauce, combine all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let “steep” until ready to use – the longer the better. Refrigerate any unused sauce. (The empty Ketchup bottle works well, just be sure to label it “Barbecue Sauce” so no one gets a surprise on their burgers or French fries).

To Finish off Ribs: Build a nice bed of coals in the barbecue. Transfer meat to a clean barbecue grate that has been wiped with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Sear ribs 3-5 minutes, turn and sear other side. Mop heavily with Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce during final grilling.

Note: For whatever reason, Hunt’s Ketchup is the only brand that works well with this sauce. Apparently “Ketchup is Ketchup” isn’t an accurate statement when it comes to this recipe because when other brands have been used, the results were less than desirable. There’s something about the base in Hunt’s Ketchup that works well with the other ingredients to create the famous Golden Eagle sauce. On the handwritten paper “Hunt’s” was underlined, further emphasizing the importance of a particular brand of ketchup.

Homemade Pico De Gallo

Pico de Gallo. Just what the heck is Pico de Gallo? Is it a salsa? A dip for chips? A tomato-based topping? Or just maybe all of the above and more.

Salsa is Spanish. But then, we all knew that, right? Depending upon its usage, salsa translates to a sauce, dressing or gravy. It is also a style of music. With such a wide interpretation, what constitutes a true salsa can be endless. From a culinary standpoint, salsa can be cooked or raw, with the most familiar type a tomato-based salsa. There are no firm rules when it comes to salsas. It’s a free-for-all. For example, Salsa Verde is a green salsa with tomatillos as its base. Salsa negra gets in rich, dark color by blending dried chilies, oil, and garlic. There are even tropical salsas such as Pineapple Salsa or Mango Salsa. While we might not realize it, something as basic as a taco sauce is in fact a type of salsa.

Pico de Gallo is also a type of salsa. Again, a Spanish word, only this time the meaning is not vague but rather paints a vivid picture. According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, this type of salsa earned its name by the way it was eaten. Pico de Gallo means “rooster’s beak”, because it was eaten by hand, using the thumb and forefinger. This pinch of the fingers resembles a rooster’s beak. Unlike most salsas, Pico de Gallo has less liquid and tends to be much chunkier. Not only is Pico de Gallo great served with tortilla chips, it’s also a refreshing balance for meaty, cheesy flavors found in many Mexican-inspired recipes.

Here in my kitchen, we grow our own tomatoes and a variety of peppers. Pico de Gallo is an awesome way to let the bounty of our harvest strut its stuff.

Homemade Pico de Gallo
6 large Roma Tomatoes, diced
½ cup Red Onion, diced
¼ cup Cilantro, chopped
3 Jalapeno, chopped
2 Garlic Clove, minced
1 Lime, juice only
Salt to taste

Use fresh, bright tomatoes that are a little firm to hold up better when mixed with the other ingredients. Cut tomato in half lengthwise, rinse out the seeds and pat dry with a paper towel. Dice tomatoes and place in a large, non-reactive bowl.

Cut half of a red onion into nice pieces. Add to bowl with tomatoes. If desired, add more onion based on your personal tastes.

Rinse a handful of cilantro including stems. Pat dry with paper towels. Chop most of the cilantro, retaining a few leaves to garnish finished dish if serving as a dip.

Cut stem-end from the Jalapeno peppers and discard. Split peppers lengthwise, exposing the membrane and seeds. Remove if mild Pico de Gallo is desired. For truly spicy salsa, keep some or all of the seeds. Dice peppers and add to the bowl.

Peel and finely mince garlic cloves. Add to the tomato bowl.

Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the mixture. Combine all the ingredients. Let sit for at least 1 hour for natural flavors to develop. Taste and salt as needed.

Use Pico de Gallo as a salsa to brighten any Mexican or Spanish dish or enjoy on its own with tortilla chips.

More than just a fresh dip for Tortilla Chips – Eight Great ways to use Pico de Gallo

  1. Jazzy Pico de Gallo Scrambled Eggs – Spoon Pico de Gallo over Scrambled Eggs. This is great served with skillet potatoes and warm flour tortillas.
  2. Creamy Pico de Gallo Chip Dip –  Add ¼ cup freshly made Pico de Gallo to 1 cup Sour Cream (or Greek yogurt for a healthily alternative). Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.
  3. Pico de Gallo Fish Tacos – Spoon over Fish Tacos as a topping alternative to plain chopped tomatoes. Here’s a news flash for easy fish tacos – use frozen breaded halibut, chop it up with a little taco seasoning and fill your corn tortilla shells. Quick and easy.
  4. Pico de Gallo Pasta Sauce – Spice up your favorite Pasta Sauce by adding ½ cup or more of Pico de Gallo to your favorite prepared pasta sauce for a little kick. This is great over pastas such as rigatoni or pene. Try topping with pepper jack cheese for even more spicy flavor.
  5. Pico de Gallo Relish – Bring color to the grill. Spoon Pico de Gallo over grilled shrimp, or marinated Flank Steak or pork medallions for added flavor and color.
  6. Pico de Gallo Guacamole. Simply mash-up an avocado or two. Sprinkle with a little lime juice and about ½ cup of Pico de Gallo. Quick, easy and perfect for a dip or as a topping to a variety of Mexican dishes. This is a great way to top your favorite pile of nachos.
  7. Pico de Gallo Omelettes – Vegetable omelettes with tons of flavor. For a healthier omelette, whip one whole egg with two egg whites. Pour into your omelette pan. When ready, fill omelette with Pico de Gallo and a little Feta Cheese.
  8. Pico de Gallo Compound Butter – Mix Pico de Gallo to taste with a stick of softened putter until fully incorporated. Roll into a log, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Great on steaks, or grilled corn on the cob.