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Posts Tagged ‘home cooking’

Olive Soup Recipe


Olive Soup Recipe

Traveling in Eastern Europe, I became quite a fan of hearty soups, especially in Poland, where my one of my favorites became “Dill Pickle Soup.” I was thinking about it the other day, and thought, “hey, why not, olive soup?” So I gave it a try and it’s wonderful.


  • 1 T Penna Crema Verde Olive Spread
  • 2 T Penna Crema Negra Olive Spread
  • 6 T EVOO
  • 1 C pitted, unstuffed, diced,  chopped olives (I used home brine cured fresh Penna greens)
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Qt chicken stock
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 6 T flour
  • Seasonings to taste, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes


Olive Soup Recipe

Sweating veggies

Make a roux with 6 T flour and 3 T oil, cooked and stirred until it’s a dark paste.

Soak your diced olives in water for an hour to remove some of the salt, if desired.

Add 3 T oil, garlic, onion, and 2/3rds of the olives to a skillet, saute while stirring until the onions are sweated.

Take the skillet contents, along with 1 C of stock and puree in your food processor.

Place mix with balance of stock in sauce pan, simmer for 15 minutes, add cream. 

Olive Soup Recipe

Starting a Roux

Continue to simmer while adding the roux, stirring constantly until the soup thickens.

Add seasoning to taste, and garnish with remaining chopped olives.

(OK, garnishing with chopped olives didn’t work – they sunk!)  This is a delicious soup on its own, but it might also be great if you use it as a base, adding rough chopped vegetables or salad shrimp!

Dig in!

Olive Soup Recipe



Vidalia Onion “Everything”


20150205_180622Before there was “siracha” and “chipotle” everything,  there was Vidalia Onion everything.  Vidalia onions are sweet, and grown in certain areas of the U.S. state of Georgia, only.  It has been Georgia’s official state vegetable for 25 years.  Who knew states had official vegetables? Not many do, here’s as complete a list as we have found.

While the onions can only be grown in a small geographical area, products with their flavoring can be made anywhere, by anybody, as long as they meet certain content requirements.  One can order the onions or said products online, of course.

There are any number of co-packers or contract manufacturers willing to slap your  store or establishment name on their Vidalia onion product, and one that I picked up was from an Illinois farm product store, “Vidalia Onion Cucumber Dill” Salad Dressing.

Ingredients include:  Soybean oil, Cucumbers, Water, Vidalia Onions, Cane Sugar, Vinegar, Egg Yolk, spices and preservatives, and comes in a 12 oz bottle.

The onion flavor is pronounced, and the dill subtle.  For my taste, reversing those would be better.  It’s very creamy tho, and will certainly please many.  Vidalia Onion products are here to stay, not sure we can say the same for siracha and chipotle.  One hopes not.

I eat fair amount of salad, especially with garden grown ingredients, and no matter how many different flavors are rolled out, my favorite dressing is still Litehouse Chunky Blue Cheese.








Vidalia Onion


Make Dulce de Leche


Dulce de Leche RecipeI had a girlfriend from Barcelona who introduced me to all things dulce de leche. A pint of DDL Haagen Dazs was her go-to cure all.  Even for headaches.   I like it, don’t have it often, but it’s good to have around the house as a dessert topping, and try mixing into brownie mix or frosting brownies or cookies with it.  Stir it in your coffee.  Swirl a little onto your peanut butter toast. Yum.

Here’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever find for anything.  Throw a can or two of sweetened condensed milk  (pictured left) into your crock pot and fill with water to at least an inch above the cans.  Turn on low overnight.  The next morning, you’re in DDL heaven.  The longer you cook it, the darker it will get.  You can also do it on the stovetop in boiling water, and of course, that’s much faster.

I will want to store mine in the refrigerator, so instead of cooking it right in the can, I poured it into mason jars prior to it taking its Crock Pot bath, and it’s ready to be used or stored.  If you like to experiment, you can flavor it.  Vanilla is a popular option in many countries.

My oh my.

Dulce de Leche Recipe

2 Jars Under Water in the Crock Pot


After 6 hrs in crock pot on low heat.

After 6 hrs in crock pot on low heat.









Make Dulce de Leche Make Dulce de Leche


Tyson Buffalo Chicken Strips Review


Tyson Buffalo Strips ReviewI have often written on the subject of my bewilderment that after frozen, fried foods being around for over fifty years, they haven’t figured out how to make it truly crispy yet.  Pre-cooked/fried at the factory, no matter how you screw around with it at home (following the manufacturer’s instructions), you can’t get that crisp / crunch there you were expecting.

Continuing my quest to find such a product, I tried out Tyson’s Buffalo Chicken Strips.  Since they are fully cooked, they truly are a “heat and eat” product, which you can opt to “cook” in the oven or in the microwave.  You know me, it’s a personal quirk that I always opt for oven heating. (The package notes that “conventional oven” is the “preferred method”).

These strips are made with chicken breast and “rib meat” and a whole host of other ingredients (see ingredient  list and nutrition info below) (thankful it doesn’t include the phrase “mechanically separated).   They are supposed to come out of a 400 degree oven after 18-20 minutes.

How were they?   They’ve made some progress on the crispiness.  At least now, it’s “intermittent.”  The buffalo flavor is present, but not very strong.  Appeal for the mass market, one supposes.  Where these strips fall down is in their attempt to resemble actual protein muscle.  Since these strips are made from combinations of meat, one can only assume the protein is ground or pureed and made into a slurry, in order to be reformed. At least that’s how McDonald’s does it, according to this “official video” from McDonald’s of Canada.  (McDonald’s Canada gets their nuggets from Cargill). The primary ingredient differential seems to be that McDonald’s adds chicken skin for flavor, and Tyson uses chicken broth.


In any case, for my taste, while I was OK with the breading and flavor, the protein muscle is a little limp (see pic below).  Would I purchase again?  Despite their convenience, that aspect isn’t enough of a value proposition for me to be a regular purchaser.  At $7.00 (Wal Mart) for a package, it comes out to $4.48 per pound, whereas whole chickens are pretty stable at a buck a pound.  So I’d buy the Tyson strips again if they were on sale.  I think my comfortable price point would be around $3.00 per pound, at the outside.

My strips were accompanied on the plate by  chunky Bleu Cheese dressing, made by what I believe is the best salad dressing manufacturer in the country, Litehouse Foods of Sand Point, ID.  They offer a number of varieties of blue cheese dressing, and I like them all. My favorite is their “Big Bleu,” which is even chunkier than chunky!

Tyson Buffalo Strips Review

Before or after “cooking,” they look the same

Tyson Buffalo Strip Review

Cooked, halved strip

Tyson is the world’s second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork only behind BrazilianJBS S.A., with 2011 sales of US$32 billion. They got even bigger this year with their acquisition of Hillshire Foods (formerly Sara Lee).

Ingredients:  Boneless, skinless chicken breast strips with rib meat, chicken broth, bleached wheat flour, vinegar, aged cayenne peppers, wheat flour, salt, less than 2 percent of the following: modified corn starch, spices, maltodextrin, yellow corn flour, sodium phosphates,modified tapioca starch, vinegar powder (maltodextrin, modified food starch, and vinegar), sodium diacetate, dextrose, sugar, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, xanthan gum, yeast, guar gum, spice extractives, caramel color, oleoresin paprika, carob bean gum,natural flavor, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate), onion powder, polysorbate 80, extractives of paprika and granulated garlic. Breading set in vegetable oil.

Nutritional Information:

tyson nutrition







Tyson Buffalo Chicken Strips Review


Mutti Pizza Sauce Review


Imported from Italy from a company that for the last hundred years has focused on processing tomato products and only tomato products, you can’t get much more straightforward than these ingredients:  tomatoes (99%), salt, basil, oregano, onion.

Mutti is located in Parma.  In addition to pizza sauce, they make peeled tomatoes, puree,  pulp and concentrate.

I have no earthly idea how they get their sauce this thick, no matter how long I cook tomatoes down, the result is usually somewhat watery.

In any regards, this is the real deal for pizza sauce.  You can buy it at Italian / Euro food shops in the US, or order online at Amazon.

Why is it European food companies make products superior to those in the US?  Tighter regulations? Looser?  Small batches?  Puzzlement.

Mutti Pizza Sauce Review








Mutti Pizza Sauce




Has the Pretzel Bun Jumped the Shark?


Has the phrase “jumped the shark”  jumped the shark?

The origin of the “Pretzel Roll” in American restaurants seems to be traced back to the German “lye roll” or  Laugengebäck.  Using a process similar (and the same dough)  to making pretzels, the rolls are dipped in lye before baking.  The lye (washing or baking solution if you don’t want to handle lye) produces the unique browning effect.  Out of the oven,  the rolls (like pretzels) are dotted with large grains of salt.

My first introduction to these buns going mainstream was the seasonal Oktoberfest burger at Red Robin.   Steak N Shake has offered one as well.

Now they are widespread, available full time at Wendy’s, Sonic, and Smashburger, to name a few.

Most grocery stores carry some variation of them, and there is even an upstart national brand out of Milwaukee, called Pretzilla.

The best ones, IMHO, are the ones found in authentic German bakeries.  I pick them up at the Original Bavarian Sausage Shop in Tigard, OR, just down the street from one of Mrs. Burgerdogboy’s boyfriend’s house.  She should be mindful to bring some home when she’s over there!

The German recipes are more appealing to me than the US fast food ones that seem to have added some sweetener to their recipes, honey? Brown sugar?  Anyway, I don’t like “sweet” buns for burgers.  Just a personal thing.

So how long do you think pretzel buns will be around in fast food outlets?  And what’s next?  How about onion rolls?

Original Bavarian Sausage

Original Bavarian Sausage’s Pretzel Bun




pretzel bun review


Chicago Fire Mexican Casserole Recipe


A Chicago fireman taught me this, he used to make it for his station mates when it was his turn to cook.  There’s really nothing “Mexican” about it, it’s just what he called it.   It’s fast, filling, and covers the food groups.


  • 2 tubes Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (don’t try generic, trust me)
  • 2 Cups cooked chicken, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup (do not dilute)
  • 1/2 C sliced jalapenos
  • 2 C your choice cheese (if you use ‘taco-seasoned’ cheese, it is “kinda” Mexican).


  • Pre heat oven to 350
  • Spray non-stick in a 13X9 baking pan
  • Unroll the crescent rolls, place flat on work surface.
  • On each piece of roll, put a dollop of soup, some jalapenos, chicken and cheese
  • Roll them up and place them symmetrically in the baking pan
  • Drop teaspoons of the soup between the crescent rolls
  • Cover with cheese and decorate with more jalapeno slices
  • Sprinkle paprika on cheese for browning if desired
  • 45 minutes in the oven will do
  • Place under broiler last couple minutes if you are so inclined

Will make 6-8 servings. Easy peasy!

Mexican Casserole Recipe

“Mexican” Chicken Casserole Recipe


















Mexican Casserole Recipe


Ball Park Franks Angus Review


ball park franksBall Park brand hot dogs are as American as …….Germany.  At least according to Wikipedia, when the Detroit Tigers issued a competitive challenge for companies to come up with an exclusive Tigers frank, a Frankfurt, Germany company called Hygrade won the competition, became ensconced at Tiger stadium and the “legend” grew from there.

Ball Park became a solid American brand when Hygrade was purchased by Sara Lee in 1989, on the company’s quest to move from the grocer’s  bakery shelf to the meat counter for their primary revenue stream.

Some Sara Lee meats ended up domiciled at Hillshire Farms, which now is in the midst of being acquired by Tyson.  That’s a long journey for a simple weenie.

According to some web sources, Ball Park is America’s best selling brand, having toppled Oscar Meyer for the title.  Their marketing slogan is “So American you can taste it,” which is pretty funny considering the original recipe was German.  They could say “As American as Aldi,” maybe.

I picked up a package of Ball Park Angus Beef Franks from the scratch and dent section at my grocery, where they were discounted to $2.  As all of my favorite and preferred brands are hovering around $5 now, which pretty much works out to a buck a dog, this seemed like a deal.  Tho my personal preference is always for natural casing dogs, skinless will do in a pinch, and specifically under two situations at my house:  cut up into a beans and weenie meal, or charred to perfection on a grill.  Charring a skinless gives you a pretty adequate illusion of a casing and ‘snap.’


My critique?  First of all, I’m gonna call “bullshit” on any company that puts “Angus” on their label or in their marketing as something like 80% of the cattle raised in the US are Angus, so BFD.  If it was “certified black Angus,”  now that’s a real thing. Marketers lately have all taken a class in how to exploit the word “Angus” just like they mistakenly often use the word “Kobe” on menus.  Probably “truffle” should be another one to watch for, as long as you are scrutinizing menus.

The lion’s share of grocery hot dogs are precooked. sometimes in the package, sometimes not.  In regards to Ball Park, I’d prefer if they had a smokier flavor, and did away with the corn syrup as an ingredient.  I see no reason for hot dogs, a product that naturally should fit into the “savory” category, to have a sweetener as an ingredient; and you can taste the sugar in these.

Would I buy them again?  Well, if they were on sale and going to be used for either of the two aforementioned preps.  With the corn syrup, I think they’d do well in beans and weenies.  But today I just put a slight char on them and nestled them into a bun.  Meh.

Postscript:  Tried these a second day in a row, and no matter the toppings or condiments, I can’t shake that sugar taste.  Just not appealing to me, but probably ‘addictive’ to kids.

Ball Park Angus Franks Review





Ball Park Franks Angus  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.


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


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

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