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Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category

“Boy Scout” Pepperoni Snack Stick Review

Country Meats Snack SticksWhen I was in Boy Scouts, we had two fund raising events per year; in the summer we went door to door and sold packs of light bulbs, in winter we sold Christmas wreaths.  I have no idea if we raised any significant amount of money, but if we did, it was supposed to support the troop and summer camping programs.

The last few years, pretty much everywhere I see scouts hocking goodies on the sidewalk, it’s been tubs of popcorn. (unpopped).  I remember the brand as being “Trail’s End” and I see that’s a division or subsidiary of Pop Weaver Popcorn, out of Indiana.

I think Scouting is a good thing, and I try and buy the popcorn when I see it available.  Besides, I like Pop Weaver corn.  They have it at Wal-Mart, and the microwave one is a bargain compared to say, Pop Secret.

Today I saw Scouts selling jerky and pepperoni snack sticks, loaded up on a few, glanced at the package and see they are made in Ocala, FL by a company called Country Meats, who appears to only be in the fundraising segment, offering many different flavors of snack sticks.

The pepperoni ones have an impressive list of ingredient:  pork, salt, spices, and natural smoke flavoring.  That’s substantially it.  And they are damned tasty. I like Slim Jim’s and Jack Links, but they are mostly beef sticks, so to have a pepperoni pork one suits me fine. The snack has great flavor and a nice grind, the collagen casing gives a nice snap reminiscent of a natural casing.

Apparently, you can do business with Country Meats if you want to have a fundraising deal for your organization. A case contains 144 snack sticks and is yours for $89, with a suggestion you sell them for a buck apiece. You can order online.  Country Meats operates a USDA inspected facility at 7650 SW 75th Avenue, Ocala FL.    They even have a YouTube video to show you how they are made (below).  I like transparency, especially in the food industry.

Snack Stick Review

Orv’s Pizza Review

Orv's Frozen Pizza ReviewOrv’s Pizza was originally from Kaukauna, WI, and may still be produced there, but it’s now under the ownership of Minneapolis pizza company Bernatellos, that also makes and sells  Roma and Brew Pub  brands.

I wonder if Kaukauna Cheese is still made in Kaukauna?   Hold on.  OK, seems like its still made nearby, but now owned by a cheese brand collecting company from Chicago.  (BTW, cheese company, I see you also hold Merkt’s, which I prefer, especially for burgers.

Wow, talk about careening wildly off track!

This Orv’s “Tasty Toppings”  Sausage & Pepperoni Think Crust weighs in at a hair over one pound, and they were on sale today at 2 $8.00.  That’s about the right price-point for the weight.   I’m having a hard time seeing any quantity of  sausage, and they may have missed a few spots with the “Real Cheese,” (as is noted on the front of the package.

BTW, before I tell you what I thought of the experience, I give the company props for the ‘real’ ingredients.   Sausage is pork and seasonings, pepperoni is pork, beef, and seasonings, and tomato sauce is just….tomato sauce.  So they got that going for them.

The pepperoni slice was paper thin.  Say have you seen Jack Link’s is making thick “crinkle cut” pepperoni?  Ain’t that interesting?  Saw it at that store that John Boy and Mary Ellen started….you know, the Waltons?  Right.

So how is Orv’s pizza?  The thin crust is crispy, the tomato sauces leans towards being more sweet than savory and I think they shouldn’t be so stingy with the cheese.   I’d say this pizza belongs at the top end of the budget lines like Totino’s, Jeno’s, and no-name brands, but even at this sale price, is pretty spendy for that category.   I tried the parent company’s premium pie, Bellatoria Ultra Thin Sausage Italia, about six months ago, and it was pretty ok. 

425 at 10-12 minutes brought the result shown below.

Orv's Frozen Pizza Review

“Tasty Toppings”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bernatellos, Bellatoria, Roma, Brew Pub

 

Orv’s Pizza Review

Algonquin, IL – Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Back in Chicagoland for the last time this year, had a craving for Mexican food since Mrs. Burgerdogboy has been on a cooking strike lately and she makes some fine Mexican platos.

I was out in the NW burbs, some areas of which are increasingly populated with people of various Latin heritages, and mercados and taquerias are popping up like pop-ups.

Not wanting to cause confusion among any potential customers, one entrepreneur labeled his restaurant as plain as plain could be: “Algonquin Mexican Restaurant.” (AMR)

With tables that will accommodate thirty and a counter with room for eight more, the AMX serves breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday with hours from 10A – 8 PM. They were doing a brisk take-out business, but I was in the mood to be waited on, so I took a seat a booth looking out at the Algonquin intersection the corners of “Road Construction” and “Needs Road Construction.” The gajillion dollar downtown bypass appears that it will take another generation of works before it is actually finished, and from where I sit, will do little do alleviate the REAL area traffic problems, which are East – West, while the bypass is north-south. DOH!

The menu is straight forward and straight Mexican. Order ala carte or a plate which includes beans and rice.  (Me and the Mrs were forever spoiled by the refried beans in Aberdeen, WA one day).   Turns out tho that these were pretty tasty.  I wish I had ordered an additional side of them. (The ones in Aberdeen were so tasty we ate two orders at the table and got an order to go).

Polished off the complimentary chips and pico, and then  I ordered three tacos, chorizo, shredded beef, and ground beef.  Chicken, steak, pork, and pork skin were other options.  No tongue here.  I thoroughly enjoyed the tacos, even tho I had them with the gringo flour tortilla.  They come loaded with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. A second “filling” option is straight chopped onion and cilantro.  Should have tried that.

In order of favorite – chorizo one, then shredded beef, and lastly ground beef.  The accompanying rice was nothing to write home (or here about) so i won’t.  I rarely eat rice as a side anymore. Can’t say why and sure you don’t care.

Circumstances were such that I spent a fair amount of time in Mexico this year, and of course little North of the border can match local street food in Juarez or TJ,  just like after living in China I was spoiled to that type of food in the US.

But in any case, if you happen to be driving around the NW burbs, or live in Algonquin, Dundee, Lake in the Hills or Crystal Lake, the Algonquin Mexican Restaurant is worth a stop with freshly prepared food at great prices.   I’ve posted there menu over in our menu section, check it out.

Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Pico

 

Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

3 Taco Plate

 

Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Storefront

 

 

 

 

 
Algonquin Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Making Hot Dog Recipes at Home – From Scratch!

Stuff it!  (Your own sausages).  It’s not that hard, I do it a couple times a year, though it is definitely an easier task if you have a partner or two helping.

I’m not going to go through the whole process here, you’ll have to decide whether to use all beef, beef and pork, or poultry as a meat base, and whether to grind it at home or purchase pre-ground meat.  There are simple manual stuffing tools (I sometimes use a modified caulking gun), or attachments for devices like KitchenAid mixers.  You’ll have to learn about and purchase casings, natural or made from collagen.

This article is just focused on the seasoning mix, a very traditional hot dog flavor.  Here are the ingredients for 20 pounds of franks, cut down the recipe proportionately for less meat.

Ingredients

4 Level tsp. INSTACURE #1 (add only if smoking the sausages) 
8 Tb. Paprika
12 Tb. Ground Mustard
2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp. Ground White Pepper 
2 tsp. Ground Celery Seeds
2 Tb. Mace
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
8 Tb. Salt
4 Cups Non-Fat Dry Milk or Soy Protein Concentrate
8 Tb. Powdered Dextrose
4 Cups of Ice Water

Mix the dry ingredients and crush as needed with a mortar and pestle, and then  you’re going to blend these ingredients into your meat mixture making sure it is thoroughly distributed throughout the slurry. You’ll be much happier if you allow the mix to sit in the frig overnight so that all the flavors fully take, but it’s not absolutely essential.

From there, you’ll embark on the stuffing part of the task, and either refrigerate the finished franks, freeze some, or put them on the smoker before storage for additional old world flavor.

Home stuffed wieners

hot dog recipes

Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami Review

I’m not sure how many consumers even know what the word “uncured” means when they see it on processed meat packages, like deli meats, hot dogs, ham and bacon.   I am also not sure where there is an “official” government definition, but I personally take it to mean free of the preservatives generally found in such products, like sodium nitrites and nitrates.

Often, in my reading, I have seen references to these types of meats being ‘cured’ by celery juice or celery juice powder, substances which contain nitrates naturally.  Uncured meats must be kept refrigerated or they will spoil.

Applegate Farms makes a living selling uncured, natural, and organic meat products from a variety of protein sources. They say they source their meat from sources that raise animals humanely and do not use antibiotics.

In addition to the products mentioned in the first sentence, Applegate Farms also markets poultry products, including chicken sausages and turkey “burgers.”  They are based in New Jersey and have been around 25 years or so.  On the packaging, their UPC code is also used as a “barn code” and tells you where the meat was sourced.  In the case of my purchase, Uncured Genoa Salami,” apparently the pork came from farms in South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Ontario and Quebec.

The label says the pork was raised on “sustainable family farms in a stress-free environment that promotes natural behavior and socialization.”   Another thing I have no idea what it means, other than perhaps the piggies are allowed to socialize on Facebook prior being driven off to the kill zone.

After the piggies socialized, they went on a  (albeit brief) vacation to California, where (according to the USDA establishment number) they were manufactured into salami by Busseto Foods in Fresno, CA, decidedly a giant among pork producers.   In fact, their Genoa salami looks very similar to Applegate’s.

I’m one of those consumers that doesn’t really care if animals we’re going to kill are ‘raised humanely,” as it seems like a contradiction anyway.  At my age, I also don’t care about whether or not I ingest preservatives, maybe more of them will actually keep me on the planet a little longer.

What I care about, particularly with salami, is appearance, taste, texture and value.  Applegate meets the first three of those categories excellent, but at near $20 a pound, value isn’t at the top of their game.  But then, all meat is expensive now.  Seems to me like it dramatically shoots up weekly.

Bottom line, would I buy Applegate salami again? Yep.  It’s tasty, no matter how the piggies were raised or what they ‘et’ prior to my chowing down on them.

Postscript:   By coincidence, the following day I spotted Busseto’s product in another store, at the equivalent of $10 a pound.  Not organic, not uncured, but are those designators worth twice the price?  Not to me.

Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami

 

Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami

 

Applegate Farms Salami

Bussseto Brand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami

Bremer Lasagna Review

We can probably file this one under my heading of “things I’ve tried so you don’t have to.”   I have written about products from Aldi before, the large German based grocery corporation that also owns Trader Joes.  Aldi sell most their own label of foods, manufactured for them by the “big guys” but heavily discounted.  Shop only at Aldi and you can probably save 25-30% off your grocery bill.  Supplement your Aldi trips with getting your staples at dollar stores, and you’ll save even more.

I’m not much for frozen or canned pasta “meals”, but somebody dropped by an Aldi brand lasagna, which is branded “Bremers,” but according to the USDA plant number on the package, is made by Chicago’s “On-Cor.”  I shouldn’t be surprised, the packaging is very similar and the contents and dietary label are identical.

As always, I went with the oven style prep instead of microwaving, which took about 45 minutes.  Below are pix of the package, the frozen product, and the plated product (with added Parmesan) and the street in Chicago where the product was born.

How was it?  Surprisingly meatier than I expected, yet for some reason, I find all pre-prepared Italian and Mexican foods (especially Hormel Tamales) to have a slight “burn” to the tomato sauce which I personally find unappealing.  I can’t really identify the source of that discomfort for me, just has always been that way.

In any regards, would I buy it again?  Well, yes, over big name brands like Stouffers, it’s just a much better value.

But nobody, but nobody makes lasagna better than Mrs. BurgerDogBoy, unless she tries to slip in turkey Italian sausage.

Bremer Lasagna Review

 

Bremer Lasagna Review

(Added Parmesan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

bremer lasagna review

Trails End Resort – Hayward, WI

Well known for a few things, including the American Birkebinder cross country ski race, annual world lumberjack contests, and a nearby former hide out of Al Capone, the ville of Hayward, Wisconsin is nestled among pines and birches on rolling hills in Northwestern Wisconsin.   Numerous lakes dot the landscape and it’s a regular fisherman’s paradise.

Trail’s End Resort is on nearby Lake Couderay, has cabins and boats for rent, camp sites and a nice lodge bar (“Michelle’s”) that features live music, (like Todd Eckart) that serves lunch and dinner daily with an emphasis on house made items from local ingredients.

Entrees enjoyed  included the rib dinner and a thin crust bacon-topped pizza.  Both got raves.  The ribs are massaged with a house-made rub before being slow-smoked and finished on the grill;  many of the meats served at Trails End (including the bacon) are from the  provider 6th Street Market, in nearby Ashland, WI, who have been cranking out specialty meats and sausages for 25 years.

Trails End Hayward WI

Bacon Pizza

Trails End Hayward WI

Rib Dinner

Todd Eckart Music

Todd Wows the Crowd

Here’s their full menu.
Trail's End Lodge on Urbanspoon
Trails End Resort

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

The “full name” of the product is Good & Delish Rising Crust Extra Thick Pepperoni frozen pizza.  Good & Delish is one of Walgreen’s in-house brands for food products, the other is Nice!  Not sure why they need two brands, as there doesn’t seem to be any segment specific reason for one or the other.

Seldom is the day I even stop at a Walgreen’s, I just think they are too spendy.  But I stopped today simply because “it was there,” I s needed one or two things, and on short trips, I hate to make multiple stops.  Getting lazy, I guess.

I have been on the hunt for a new brand of frozen pizza, Walgreens probably wouldn’t have it, but I figured I’d peek anyway, and sho nuff, no soap.  But they did have their house brand pies at $4.99 for 29 ounces, and that’s a pretty good value, so I figured “what they hey”, and brought one home.  I have reviewed other Walgreen’s products before, notably their frozen cheeseburger.

Never been a fan of rising crust pizzas, but when you think about it, it’s quite an achievement, isn’t it?   The Walgreen’s pie was a straight forward affair, 20 minutes at 400; the ingredients were typical, but the pepperoni was “pork, beef, and chicken,” a formulation I try and stay away from.   But I was committed now.

The box has the “Real Cheese” (which indicates the topping is a bon afide dairy product)emblem on it, and a Federal Inspection seal, but without the customary “establishment number,” so I can’t tell you who makes these pizzas for Walgreens.

Upon taking it from the oven, the first thing I noticed was some “shiny pools” on top of the pie, which surprised me, since the pepperoni had the combination ingredients.  Pure pork or pure beef or both I would have thought had a higher content of fat.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best US made frozen pizza I have ever consumed, for me, this pie is about a six. All of the ingredients are VERY mild in flavor, the “Boboli-like” crust is good, crispy and chewy at the same time, and the pepperoni, had some heft to it, due to its thickness.

Would I buy it again?  If the circumstances were right, probably.

 

Walgreen's Frozen Pizza

In the Box

 

Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Box – Frozen

 

 

Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Oven

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

Timballo Recipe

Timpano (Timballo) Recipe

In one of the best “foodie” movies ever made, The Big Night, Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub (“Monk”) try to save their failing restaurant by putting on the feast of all feasts to impress Louis Prima, who they have heard is coming to visit. One good word from him, they figure, and all will be right with the world.

One of the dishes they create is the “timpano”, a traditional holiday feast in Italy, featuring pasta, meat, cheese and sauce baked in a pastry shell.

Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • 3 Italian sausages (cooked), thin sliced on a bias
  • 36 meatballs (cooked) sliced in half
  • 32 oz shredded Italian cheeses
  • 1 c tomato sauce (toss the cooked pasta in it)
  • 1 package of salami or prosciutto
  • 10” glass or steel pan, preferably domed
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ package dry ziti
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook the pasta and drain while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.

Roll out pizza dough, large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan, reserving enough to make a cap. Butter the dish and the outside of the dough.

Now you are going to layer the ingredients as if you were making a parfait, beginning and ending with the pasta. Pasta, meat, sauce, cheese. Repeat, ending with a layer of pasta. Place the dough cap on the timpano, cover, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Let cool another ten minutes before slicing like pieces of cake. Drizzle additional tomato sauce and decorate slice with basil leaves.

Variants: Some recipes use a layer of quartered hard boiled eggs; others use layers of peas or other vegetables.

Shortcuts: I made everything from scratch here (except the pasta) but you don’t have to. You could purchase pre-cooked meatballs. You might also try the pre-cooked lasagna noodles in criss-crossed strips in the pan in lieu of the pizza dough for an interesting effect.

 

 

Timpano Recipe

Ball of pizza dough

 

 

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Dough stretched out in deep baking dish

 

Timpano recipe pictures

First row of ziti down

Timpano recipe pictures

2nd layer of pasta over meat and cheese

Timpano recipe pictures

Dough cap in place, ready for oven

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Out of the oven, ready to slice!

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Dig in!

 

Timpano recipe

Huntley, IL – Luigi’s Pizza Review

20140504_084624Spoiler alert: Luigi’s pizza is spectacular. If you’d prefer to stop reading now and head directly to the restaurant, that’s ok with me. Actually located closer to Rockford, IL than Chicago, the village of Huntley, once a bucolic rural town surrounded by dairy farms, has become a burgeoning suburb of the Windy City; so burgeoning that it will in the near future, get its own commuter train.

Before the farmers started selling out to development companies, long before the commuter train was even imagined, Luigi’s Pizza and Restaurant was serving the good folks of the village, every Tuesday through Sunday, with classic American style pizza and a full menu that includes pasta, sandwiches, and daily specials.

I was meeting some pals at this family owned and operated restaurant; walking up to it, I wondered if a 6PM time on a Friday was a bad idea, but there were a couple of tables still open.  The restaurant has seating for  - perhaps thirty, with room for a few more at the bar.

The table was attended to by one of the owner’s daughters, and she was both affable and diligent in her work.  The food came out as ordered, and in the right order, with only the pizza taking a bit of time, maybe 25 minutes.

I could find no fault with the pizza as my personal tastes go. Cracker crisp crust, tangy tomato sauce, really, really excellent cheese in copious quantities, and a perfectly seasoned, hand pulled fennel laced Italian sausage.

This may be the best thin crust pizza in Chicago land, and is worth a drive to Huntley, even if you aren’t bound for the town’s annual Turkey Testicle Festival!   The full menu is in our menu section.

Luigis Pizza Huntley

 

luigi map

Luigis Pizza on Urbanspoon



 

Luigis Pizza Review

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