Brown Sugar BBQ Seasoning Dry Rub

“Happiness is BBQ, friends & backyard.”

If you prefer a slightly sweet bark on your smoked ribs, pork butt or, for that matter, almost any meat prepared in a smoker including beef, then this rub is for you.

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup sweet Hungarian paprika
¼ cup Kosher salt
1 T lemon pepper
3 T black pepper
2 T chili powder
1 ½ T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T mustard powder
1 tsp All Purpose Cajun Seasoning (my preferred substitute for cayenne pepper)

Mix all ingredients and apply liberally. Store in an airtight container, will last for 2-3 months! Yield: approximately 3 cups.

All Purpose BBQ Pork Seasoning Dry Rub

“Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy barbeque which is the same thing!”

There are literally thousands of available recipes in cookbooks and online and they are all very similar. Commercial dry rubs are available everywhere from grocery stores to service stations to hardware stores and there are some really excellent ones out there. I prefer to mix my own for three reasons … (1) I can adjust the ingredients to alter the sweet level and/or the savory level … (2) it is way more cost effective than purchasing those little jars at the store, and … (3) I get the satisfaction of knowing that the delicious results are due to something I made!


1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 tbsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp mustard powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp All Purpose Cajun Seasoning (my substitution for cayenne pepper)


Mix all ingredients and apply liberally. Store in an airtight container, will last for 2-3 months! Yield: approximately 2 cups.

Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends

“Bacon is just another word for meat candy!”

Right off the grocery store shelf

Traditionally, burnt ends are flavorful pieces of meat cut from the “point” half of a smoked beef brisket and they are considered a delicacy in barbecue cooking. Pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig; bacon is made from this cut of meat. Un-traditionally, burnt ends made from pork belly are quite possibly the best thing you will every eat. They are little chewy pieces of candied bacon goodness!

Cut into cubed pieces

• 4 lbs. pork belly, cut into 1 to 1 ½ -inch cubes
• ¼ cup of your favorite BBQ rub
• wire rack or mesh mat that fits inside the smoker
• 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
• 3 tbsp. butter, softened
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 2 tbsp. brown sugar
• Apple juice for spritzing

Step 1
Slice your pork belly into cubes no smaller than 1-inch, but not much larger than 1 ½ -inch. Coat each cube with your favorite BBQ rub. You can try a homemade rub or use your favorite commercial rub. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes or prepare the day before, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

Chilling in the plastic bag

Step 2
Preheat your smoker to 225°F to 250°F

Step 3
Place the pork belly fat-side down onto a wire rack or mesh mat. This is so that the small chunks of pork belly don’t fall through the grids. Lay the pork belly out in a single layer with a little space between each chunk.

Step 4
Spritz with apple juice about every 30-45 minutes. After 3 hours transfer the pork belly chunks (they should be about IT 190°F) to a foil pan or baking pan. Add the BBQ sauce, butter, honey, and brown sugar; stir/toss until all the pieces are well coated. Cover the top with foil and return to the smoker for another hour until the internal temperature of the pork belly chunks has reached 200°F.

Out of the smoker!

Step 5
Uncover and cook for another 15 minutes, until the sauce thickens and caramelizes to a sweet and sticky consistency. Remove from the smoker and allow to set for 15 minutes.

Step 6
Serve the pork belly burnt ends (at room temp or slightly warm) as little melt-in-your-mouth appetizers at parties, or as a side to a large leafy salad.

On the plate but not for long!

Creole Barbeque Shrimp

“Bon soir!  Bon appetit!  You’ gonna have the time from you’ life,  I garontee!” Justin Wilson”

This is another of the dishes I learned to make at the cooking classes I attended in New Orleans last March. Although not originally theirs, this recipe was provided by Crescent City Cooks as part of the materials they give to attendees. This is a simple recipe but with outstanding results!


36 shrimp, large, whole
1 lemon, sliced
½ cup shallot, minced
½ cup garlic, minced
2 sticks butter, sliced
½ cup olive oil, EVOO
½ cup green onion
6 Tbsp each of crushed rosemary, oregano, thyme
Creole seasoning to taste

BBQ Shrimp served over cheese grits

1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup beer
½ cup seafood or fish stock
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Louisiana hot sauce to taste


1. Leaving the heads and the tails intact, peel the shells off the shrimp and set aside.

2. Put olive oil in a pan. Add shallot, green onions and herbs. Sauté for 3 minutes, add stock and garlic. Cook for 4 minutes. Add beer, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, pepper, salt, creole seasoning, and hot sauce. Cook 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add lemon and shrimp. Stir in butter and cook until shrimp are cooked through (about 3 to 4 minutes)

4. Serve with warm, crusty French bread and/or over cheese grits.

Turtle Soup

“I gotta little Cajun in my soul.”

At least for me, Turtle Soup is the benchmark for Cajun cuisine. My first introduction was at Ernest’s in Shreveport when I was a teenager. Over these past many years I’ve sampled Turtle Soup whenever I can find it on a menu … I even enjoyed “Mock Turtle Soup” at the original Ralph & Kacoo’s … undoubtedly the best though, was at Commander’s Palace in NOLA.

The posting of this recipe marks the first of what will be several resulting in my attending several cooking classes at a NOLA culinary school in March, 2017 … an account of that experience can be read in a story appearing on this website under Rambling, Rants, & Misc. Stuff.

This recipe comes from Crescent City Cooks of NOLA. This is not a simple recipe; it is not a quick-to-prepare recipe … however, the result is well worth the effort and the time spent!


1 pound turtle meat (may substitute veal or lean sirloin)
1-2 quarts water/seafood stock
½ cup high-heat cooking oil
½ cup flour
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 Tbsps tomato paste
2 cans of diced tomatoes
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsps Worcestershire sauce
4 stalks green onion, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste (low sodium preferred)
1 bay leaf
½ tsp allspice
½ cup dry sherry
4 boiled eggs, chopped


1. Put the turtle meat in a pot with water slightly covering the meat. Simmer until done, approximately 30 minutes. Remove the meat and rough chop it and then finely shred it in a food processor.

I forgot the warm, crusty french bread!

2. Finely dice or pulse the onion, bell pepper and celery in a food processor. Finely dice or pulse the tomatoes in a food processor. Hold separately. Mince the garlic.
3. Make the roux: heat oil on medium high heat to just below smoke point; add flour. Stir constantly, adjusting the heat down to medium when roux begins to smoke. Cook to a rich chocolate color.
4. To the roux, add prepared onion, bell pepper and celery. Add 3 pinches of salt and 1 Tbsp of Cajun/Creole seasoning. Sauté on medium for about 10 minutes until the mixture is glossy.
5. To the roux, add tomato paste and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook down the tomatoes for another 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for two minutes and add the prepared turtle meat. Add bay leaf and allspice.
6. Simmer on low, covered for about 45 minutes. Add the parsley and green onion tops, and adjust seasoning if desired.
7. Serve with dry sherry, if desired, and/or chopped, hard-boiled egg.
Serves 8 to 12

Roasted Tomatoes With Shrimp And Feta

“Live, Love, Cook.”

I can’t think of a better way to begin the new year than with a recipe this fantastic. Although I am sure that it will be good any time of the year, it is especially delicious served piping hot on a cold winter evening.

Roasted Tomatoes with Shrimp and Feta

This recipe is posted dozens of times on the Internet so I will credit it to the earliest posting I could locate and that would be Real Simple magazine in September 2004 authored by Cynthia Nicholson.

5 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Feta, crumbled
crusty bread or garlic toast, for serving

1. Heat oven to 450° F. Place the tomatoes in a large mixing bowl and spoon the olive oil and garlic over them.
2. Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss until the tomatoes are well coated. Pour the contents of the bowl into a large baking dish and roast on top rack of oven for 20 minutes.
3. Remove baking dish from oven and stir in the shrimp and lemon juice. Sprinkle with the Feta and parsley.
4. Return the dish to oven until the shrimp are cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with the bread.

Truly a 5-Star recipe !!

Pulled Turkey & Gravy

“…and remember, an apron is just a cape on backwards!”

This is an incredibly easy-to-cook and easy-to-eat recipe. The author is Courtney O’Dell at … I pretty much stayed with her exact recipe except that I substituted Smoked Paprika for regular paprika and I added an additional hour of cook time plus extra gravy because my bird was almost 7 lbs.

Seasoned and in the pot


One 5­ – 7 lb turkey breast, on the bone
One tbsp coarse sea salt
One tbsp fresh cracked pepper
One tbsp oregano, fresh or dried
One tbsp dried cilantro
One tbsp rosemary, fresh or dried
One-half tsp paprika
Two 18.3 oz cartons ready­made turkey gravy, divided (I used Swanson in the box-carton)

Ready to serve


1. In a large crockpot, apply cooking oil spray to the bottom to prevent sticking.
2. Season turkey by rubbing herbs/seasonings onto the skin.
3. Roll up two sheets of aluminum foil into balls.
4. Place the balls of foil on each side of the turkey, propping it up so the bony cavity is at the bottom and the fat
is up top (this helps baste the bird in it’s own juices).
5. Cover and cook on high two and a half hours.
6. Remove foil.
7. Add one carton of gravy gently pouring it over the bird.
8. Cover again and cook another two and a half hours.
9. When turkey is 175 degrees internally, and a bright opaque white, turn off the crockpot and remove the turkey into a large pan or baking dish … it may be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice in a bowl where a skimming ladle can be used to remove excess fat. Always allow the liquid to rest and cool for several minutes, so the fat will rise to the top.
10. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesirable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred or tear the meat and place it back into the crockpot along with the de-greased gravy.

Served over cornbread dressing

11. Add remaining carton of gravy to the crockpot and let simmer on low until ready to be served. Sprinkle with a little paprika just before serving.
12. Great over cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, in sandwiches, over rice, or on it’s own!

Beef & Mushroom Stew

“Nourish the body, feed the soul.”

This will likely be my last post for 2016 but the timing is perfect. Much of the country has been hit by a cold front so what better time to prepare a hot, rich beef stew. I first saw this recipe several places on the Internet and I believe I’ve tracked it’s origin to and this was my inspiration. Of course, I made a few small changes on my recipe!

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef bottom round (rump) roast or chuck pot roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Adobo seasoning (or substitute Kosher salt)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed French Onion Soup

Beef & Mushroom Stew

1 cup Burgundy or other dry red wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
10 ounces mushrooms, cut in half or sliced (about 3 cups)
6 ounces baby carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium shallot, finely diced
3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup water, divided

1. In a gallon-size zip-lock bag add the pepper and Adobo to 1/4 cup of flour. Place the beef in the bag and shake it to coat with the flour. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until well browned, stirring often.
2. Stir the beef, soup, wine, garlic, Italian seasoning, mushrooms, carrots, shallot and potatoes with 1/4 cup of water in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or until the beef is fork-tender.
4. Stir the remaining flour and water in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Stir the flour mixture in the cooker. Increase the heat to HIGH. Cover and cook for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens.

Holiday Sausage Stuffing Balls

“I’m sorry, your opinion wasn’t in the recipe.”

I approached this recipe with the idea that it was going to be an appetizer along the lines of my “Garlic Cheese Sausage Balls” …. well, I couldn’t have been more wrong! This turned out to be in the categories of: a brunch entree, a heavy appetizer, or even a side dish substituted for dressing. Although I’ve not tried yet, I believe it would be delicious topped with turkey gravy. It is savory but not overly so (as many dressings can be) and has a holiday spin thanks to the chopped pecans and dried cranberries.

This recipe is not for the OCD neat-niks!! It is incredibly messy when you mix it by hand and then (with your hands) when you tightly squeeze the mixture into balls so they’ll stay together.

Prepared  dressing balls about to go into the oven.

Prepared dressing balls about to go into the oven.

1 lb packaged pork sausage (I prefer Mild)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 box Stove Top Stuffing mix (for Chicken)
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or Silpat baking mat, set aside.
In a medium frying pan, brown the sausage. Drain grease from meat and add in the onion powder and cook, stirring often, an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Just out of the oven!

Just out of the oven!

In a large bowl, combine cranberries, pecans, cheese, and Stove Top Stuffing.
Stir in the cooked sausage.
Add in the chicken broth and 2 eggs. Stir well to combine. (You may want to use your hands to make sure everything is really mixed!)
Using your hands, tightly press mixture into a ball about the size of a golf-ball and set on prepared cookie sheet. (Another way to bake the mixture might be by using a mini-muffin pan although I have yet to try that.)
Bake at 375 for about 17 minutes or so, until balls are cooked through and tops are browned. (**Note – you can also prep these in the morning and simply cover on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook the rest of the meal.) This recipe will make 24 balls.
One of the balls split open to show the savory & sweet contents!

One of the balls split open to show the savory & sweet contents!

Serve warm as a heavy appetizer, a Brunch entree, or a side dish substituted for regular dressing.

Buttery Garlic Green Beans

“Real men wear aprons.”

Green beans are one of the few green vegetables that I will eat so I try almost every green bean recipe that looks interesting. This one has turned into one of my favorites. The original recipe came from a blog named LookWhatsCooking and was published by Naturally, I’ve altered things a bit and added a secret ingredient that really adds flavor. Adobo is a powdered Mexican flavoring and it can be found in most grocery stores (at least in the south).

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
3 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, crushed or paste
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp Adobo powder
salt to taste

Buttery Garlic Green Beans

Buttery Garlic Green Beans

Place green beans into a large skillet and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans start to soften, about 5 minutes. Drain water. Add butter to green beans; cook and stir until butter is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
Cook and stir the Adobo and garlic with green beans until garlic is tender and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with lemon pepper and salt.