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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Homemade Stuffed Cabbage Soup

I've been meaning to make this for awhile.  I have had a taste for stuffed cabbage, but didn't want all of the work.  So, in order to fight off the freezing temperatures outside, another cold weather meal:  Homemade Stuffed Cabbage Soup.

First, I started with my Mom's recipe for real stuffed cabbage, made some modifications, and turned it into soup.

Homemade Stuffed Cabbage Soup

1 lb Ground Pork
1 32 oz can of tomato sauce
1 32 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 16 oz can of chicken broth
1 10 oz can of sauerkraut, undrained
1/2 of a medium head of cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 of a large sweet onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp dried dill
2 tsp onion power
1/2 tsp allspice
1 cup cooked rice
1 bag frozen corn
Olive oil for sautéing
S&P to taste
Sour cream

First I sautéed the onion and garlic in a minimal amount of olive oil, along with a grinding of sea salt and black pepper, until translucent.

Then, I added the ground pork and sautéed until browned. Towards the end of the browning of the pork, I added the spices and cooked for five minutes longer while stirring frequently.

Once this was done,  I added the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and sauerkraut, then brought to a boil.  Once boiling, I added the cabbage, turned down the heat, and let simmer for one hour.

After the one hour simmer, I added the cooked rice and frozen corn, and let simmer for 10 more minutes.  

I topped the soup with a small dollop of sour cream and a fresh skillet of corn bread on the side.

How was the soup?  Very good.  Much better than I thought it might be.  This recipe is a do over for sure the next time the thermometer drops outside.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mom's Homemade Hot Dog Sauce

I don't know about you, but I am tired of the weather around here.  It is forecast to get worse next week with a low Tuesday around -15 F and three solid days in single digits or below zero.  Did I mention the snow?  This weather is seriously cutting into BBQ practice time.  With our season starting early this year, every week lost brings us that much closer to our first competition.

So, I have resigned myself to cooking indoors and making hearty meals to keep the cold away.  I wanted a taste of summer last night.  So, I made a batch of my mothers homemade Hot Dog Sauce.

Warning, this hot dog chili sauce is not like a Coney or Cincinnati style sauce.  It is what my mother made and passed down.  I kinda like it better than a traditional sauce.  It is quick and easy to make and light years better than anything you can get in a can.  The recipe changes every time I make it as this is one of those recipes that reside in my head.  But, here is how I made it this time.

Mom's Hot Dog Sauce

1 lb lean ground beef.  I used 97:3.
1/2 a small sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
About 1/2 cup of Velveeta, cubed
2 x 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
S&P to taste
Olive oil for sautéing

First, in a small pan, heat just enough olive oil to sauté your onion and garlic.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté over low heat until translucent.  I added a grind of salt and pepper as well

Then, I added my burger meat and browned until all crumbled.

Then, I incorporated my spice mixture and let sauté along with the meat for about five minutes.

Next, add both 8 ounce cans of tomato sauce + one can of water and your cheese.

Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer to reduce.

This is what it looks like after about 30 minutes of reduction.

I make a bigger batch than I need as I will freeze the leftovers for use at a later date.  The cheese adds  a nice creamy component and also helps to thicken the final product.  The spices add a little kick and a great flavor.  You can add more chili powder to suit your taste.  I would add more, but I have to keep it on the tame side as Hope is not into the overly spicy.  Usually I grill my dogs, but with the temperature at 11 F with a howling wind, I resigned myself to pan frying (gasp!).

So, I placed my hot dog in a bun, loaded up with sauce, and sprinkled diced red onion on top.  Serve with a beer and pretend it is 75 F and sunny outside.

Alternatively, my mom used to put cole slaw on top as well.  It is a nice addition to a chili dog.  We call it West Virginia style.  If you don't believe me, there is a great blog dedicated to the West Virginia Hot Dog.  Have a peak.  They are running a tournament right now pitting different styles of hot dogs against each other.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Restaurant Review: Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint - Harrisonburg, VA

A few weeks ago, I was in Harrisonburg, VA for an evening and looking for something good for dinner.  After some research and some Google consultations, I decided to give Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint a try.

After parking and walking towards the door, I was greeted with this sign out front.  Good start if you ask me.

Jacks is one of those classic small college town bars.  Longer than it is wide, trimmed in wood, with a few TV's to show the college game of the evening.

If you are looking for something other then beer and burgers, this is not the place.  If you want a reasonably priced beer and a burger, bingo.  The tap and bottle selection is outstanding.  The beer offerings run from your standard mass produced "beer" to a nice selection of local and national microbrews.  The wait staff was friendly and helpful.  They were quick to recommend something from the menu and easy to talk with.

The menu is short and sweet.

They have a regular menu with standard selections and two specials each day.  I had The Cowboy.  That was a perfectly grilled burger with a thin layer of BBQ sauce, apple wood smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese.  This was placed on a perfectly steamed bun that was lightly toasted on the flattop before serving.  Each burger comes with a pickle wedge and either fries or onion rings.  Both were of the frozen variety.  I would have preferred fresh, but they have mastered frying the frozen product.  So, they were not too bad.  The burger was heaven.  Just enough BBQ sauce, gooey cheddar, and crisp bacon.  The bun was perfect as well.  For dessert, I was talked into a Deep Fried Oreo.  This was an Oreo battered in funnel cake batter and deep fried.  The funnel cake was nice and crispy and the Oreo within was perfectly gooey.  No milk on the menu though.  That would have been the perfect ending.

So, the next time you are in Harrisonburg, I highly recommend stopping by Jacks for a burger and a beer.  You will not be disappointed.  Overall, Jacks gets a A- with points deducted for the use of frozen fries and onion rings.

Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint
80 S. Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Baby Back Ribs, the Way We Like Them!

All of you people that compete know what I am talking about.  Any rib that you make for a competition is not how you make them at home.  Who would take the time to foil with mysterious liquids that add flavor and butter (gasp) that help tenderize the meat and add rich flavor.  Not I.  We like a basic rib around here.  We also like baby backs over spare ribs.  Our butcher sells a nice meaty baby back.  So, we feel that we do not loose anything by using back backs versus a spare rib.

So, how do we make them?  Very simple.

First, we take our baby backs and remove the membrane from the back.  Then, we coat each side with simple yellow mustard and rub.  We like Oakridge Secret Weapon Pork and Chicken rub.

While the ribs are sitting, I bring the smoker to 250 F and add some hickory and apple chunks to the ash pan for our flavoring smoke.  The ribs go on the top rack, then I close the door and walk away for 3 and a half hours.  In the last 30 minutes, I very lightly sauce the ribs with our sauce of choice.  Since I am on a consolidation kick in the refrigerator, I used the last of our J. Wilbur Spicy Hickory for this cook.  Once the ribs have been sauced, I close the door and walk away for 30 minutes.  Then, we remove the ribs, let rest for 10 minutes, then slice.

We served these racks with a side of homemade macaroni salad.

What is the difference between these ribs and a rib for competition?  Well, competition ribs can be very sweet.  You are trying to impress a judge with one bite.  So, you have to load it up with flavor and usually flavor = sweet.  Sure, one overly sweet and candied rib is fine.  But, you would not sit down and eat a whole rack of these for dinner.  At least I couldn't.  Our ribs for home have a nice sweet heat with a thin layer of sauce.

Don't fret if you don't have a smoker.  You can make these in the oven.  You just won't have the smoky flavor that the smoking wood imparts to the meat.  By adding about 1/2 tsp of Liquid Smoke to your BBQ sauce will help add some smoke flavor.  Give them a try.  You won't be sorry.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Smoked Venison Shoulder Roast

Say cheese!

The oldest is an avid hunter and that would be his biggest hobby.  This year, we lucky enough that he dropped off a three pound venison shoulder roast for me to do with what I pleased.  Around here in Pennsylvania, the deer are very lean.  So, for the most part, people have the meat made into sausage, bologna, and jerky.  The meat can be that dry if cooked improperly.  The only way I have heard of people cooking a roast is by marinading in cheap red wine and garlic, then slow cooking in a crock pot.  Sure, the meat is tender, but it is not a roast.  There has to be a better way.

I asked around and was pointed in the direction of this recipe from Oakridge BBQ.  I followed it step by step.  No changes.  Here is how it turned out.

First, I made my brine and chilled thoroughly.  While the brine was chilling, I washed and dried my roast, then peppered generously with my tenderizer all over on both sides.

Once the brine was chilled, I put the roast in the brine, then let sit covered for about 40 hours.

On the day of smoking, I fired up my smoker and brought to a temperature of 375 F.  While the smoker was warming up, I removed the roast from the brine, rinsed thoroughly with water, and patted dry.

Look at how the venison had absorbed the brine and turned a nice dark color.  I could see this was headed in the right direction.

For seasoning, I used Oakridge BBQ's Venison and Wild Game Rub.

The ginger and lemongrass were nice complements to the chilies, garlic, and onion in this rub.  Lemongrass can be off putting to those not accustomed to the flavor.  But, this was a nice balance.  Not to assertive.  I rubbed both sides of the roast and allowed to sit until the rub had liquefied and formed a nice paste.

The smoker had stabilized at 375 F by now, so I added two six inch hickory splits to the ash pan and placed the roast on the top rack.  You don't want to over cook venison, so I was shooting for 140-145 F.  After one and a half hours, the internal temperature had reached 145 F.  So, I brought inside, wrapped tight in foil, and placed in the freezer to stop the cooking and chill the meat down for slicing.   Here is a picture before wrapping.  I am loving that color and the smell was intoxicating.

I let rest in the freezer for about two hours.  Then, I removed and sliced.

The rub added a nice bark to the outside.  The flavor from the brine was definitely noticeable throughout the roast.  It added a slight sweet BBQ flavor that was balanced out nicely by the Oakridge rub.  Overall, each bite started sweet and spicy and finished with a hint of ginger and lemongrass.  The meat itself was juicy and tender.  I was quite impressed with this recipe and so was the oldest.  I might consider trying this recipe on some other cuts of venison.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Caprese Style Prime Rib Sandwich

I was looking for a new spin on a leftover prime rib sandwich.  I was thinking my usual caramelized onion, cheddar cheese, and horsey sauce on crusty roll creation.  But, as I was walking through the store, I saw some stem tomatoes that looked fairly decent.  I started thinking caprese style.

After grabbing the tomatoes, I detoured to the bakery and grabbed some crusty bolillo style rolls.  Then, off to the deli for a fresh mozzarella ball.  After checking out, I rushed home to put together my creation.

Here is how these tasty creations were built.

I sliced the roll lengthwise, then layered with:

Thinly sliced prime rib
Thinly sliced red onion
Thinly sliced tomato
Thinly sliced fresh mozzarella

I then lightly drizzled the top of the roll with Italian dressing.  The sandwiches then went onto a cookie sheet an under the broiler until the cheese was starting to bubble and brown.

These little caprese style subs were great.  Crispy and crunchy with browned mozzarella cheese and a nice bite from the dressing.  This creation is headed to the repeat list for sure.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, January 5, 2014

I Needed Something Grilled! Korean Marinaded Flank Steak

Before all of this cold air stated moving into the region, it was nice enough to do some grilling.  Usually I will brave temperatures down into the 20's to fire up the grill.  But, we were lucky and had a day or two in the 40's over the holidays.  This was the perfect time to get some grilling done.  Why?Well, you look forward to the holiday season all year long.  Turkey, stuffing, rib roast, gravy, cheese and meat platters, egg nog, etc..., you get the idea.  But, after awhile, all that heavy food has you craving something lighter.  I was in the mood for something that would go with a tossed garden salad.  Something fresh and light.  Well, I grabbed a flank steak and ran to the grill.

I have been meaning to try out this Korean Style Marinade that I found on Pinterest.  I followed the recipe as written, except I dialed back the sesame seeds to 1 Tbsp instead of the 3 Tbsp it was calling for.  I think it turned out just fine.

So, I mixed the marinade and hit my flank steak with the meat tenderizer front and back.

I put the flank steak into a plastic bag with the marinade, removed all of the air, and allowed to sit in the fridge for 3 hours, turning and massaging the meat every hour.  Then, for the last hour, I pulled from the fridge and allowed to come to room temperature.

While all of this was going on, I took some larger red potatoes and boiled in some salted water for 25 minutes, or until fork tender.  I placed the cooked potatoes on a baking sheet and flattened them with a hand held potato masher.  I coated both slides liberally with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and some dried parsley.  You could also add other spices as desired.  We were looking for simple.  I placed the potatoes into a preheated 350 oven and cooked for 45 minutes, or until crispy and brown.

I lit my charcoal.  When the grill was ready, I cooked the flank steak on direct heat for three minutes a side.  Then, I brought the steak inside and let sit for 10 minutes.  Then, I sliced across the grain and served with the potatoes and some homemade Italian bread that Hope made.

With a salad on the side, it was just what we were looking for.  A break from the holidays.

The marinade was outstanding.  When on the grill, it was all that I could smell.  The meat was bursting with Asian flavors.  I can't wait to try on some other types of meat.  The next time, I may add a touch of ginger and some sriracha sauce for some kick.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, January 3, 2014

Beef Vegetable Soup with Homemade Spaetzle

What did I do with all of that beef stock that I made last week after Christmas?  Well, half of it I split into two portions and froze for later in the year.  With the other half I made Beef Vegetable Soup with Homemade Spaetzle.

First, I put my beef stock in a eight quart dutch oven and brought to a boil.  While the stock was coming to temperature, I diced three stalks of celery, one sweet onion, and threw in one cup of carrot matchsticks that I had in the refrigerator.  I also cut one pound of stew meat into bite sized pieces.

Once the stock was boiling, season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the beef and cook for ten minutes.  Then add the vegetables to the stock, add the Spaetzle, and cook for five minutes.  On to the Spaetzle.

While all of this was going on, Hope made a batch of Spaetzle from my mothers recipe.  Here is the recipe and cooking directions:



3 Eggs, Beaten 
2 ¼ cups Flour
¾ cup Water
¾ Tsp Kosher Salt
¼ + ⅛ Tsp Baking Powder
1 Dash Pepper
1 Dash Nutmeg


Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Add flour, water, salt, baking powder, pepper, and nutmeg.  Mix well.
Bring stock to a boil.
Place small amounts of into colander that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Press mixture through colander into stock.  
Stir after emptying each colander into stock.
Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  

Notes: Food mill with large screen also works.

You can cook this in water, drain, and add sauce of choice.  Or, you can add it to soups as I do.  

We sprayed a food mill with cooking spray and inserted the largest screen.

As I cranked on the food mill, Hope stirred the broth so that the Spaetzle did not clump.  Once all of the dough as added, we cooked the soup at a simmer for five more minutes, stirring frequently.  

I love soups with Spaetzle.  I like it as a change of pace to the everyday noodle.  Cooked correctly, they are light and fluffy and melt in your mouth.  Added to this beef vegetable soup, they were perfect.

So, this is just one suggestion for the beef stock made with the leftover prime rib bones.  Maybe we will see some other ideas later in the year.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Three Dogs BBQ 2013 Year in Review

Well, another year has come and gone.  Time to look back and reflect a bit on how Three Dogs BBQ did this year.

Early in the year, I questioned what we were doing.  Was it arrogant and wasteful to cook meat to turn in six pieces to be judged?  Well, two things happened that week that changed my mind.  After the KCBS team meeting at Roc City, I realized that we do this for charity.  Every competition uses their event to raise money for charity.  Roc City raises money for the Ronald McDonald House. A family that had used the house this past winter came to the meeting and thanked all the teams for what we do and for helping them to raise money to run the facilities.  That is all I needed to know.  Add in family and fun, and I am in a better place when it comes to competing.

Second, my friend Chilebrown from Mad Meat Genius posted this in the comment section of that post:

"I was wondering why we do this?" Because we love the smell, the taste, the process, the camaraderie, and sometimes victory. We love to spend countless hours practicing and trying new rubs, sauces, and techniques. We love it when our neighbor tells us we should bottle, sell, and is the best ever. We love meeting a complete stranger and we are best friends because of barbecue. A very important reason is charity. The Barbecue community is a generous and compassionate group. These are only a few reasons why we do this."

I couldn't have said it better and I thank Chilebrown for his words of encouragement.

As the season moved forward, we made some new friends and went to different places.  As always, we always tried to learn a way to improve each time out.  Well, after a few tweaks to some recipes, we received our first awards in chicken, pork, and brisket.

So, the winter is here.  It is time to experiment and tweak our recipes for the upcoming season.  We hope to see you at a competition in 2014.  Stop on by and say hi.

May everyone have a healthy, prosperous, and happy 2014.

Thanks for stopping by,


Now some pictures of the last year.