Dinners With Johnny: Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast with Beer Bread

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Welcome to this week’s edition of “Dinners With Johnny”.

I’m excited to announce that, in addition to the weekly “Dinners With Johnny”, there will be a follow-up type of post called “Dinners With Johnny: The Comment Card”.  This is where Johnny will post his blatant, sarcastic, wry, dry-witted and humorous review of my cooking.  

I’m always on the look-out to try something new when I have time to really play in the kitchen.  A friend shared this amazing Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast recipe with me and I was sold at everything about it.  The one thing that I changed about this recipe: I added mushrooms.  I had a partial container of them in the fridge and they just seemed to want to play.

I have to say, I browned that ro

ast like a pro (not that I didn’t doubt my abilities one bit).




I tripped and spilled mushrooms into my crocpot! Oh no!

Pot roast, ready to go

Next, I threw together some beer bread, because that seemed appropriate.  Someone very smart told me that it was important to have something to soak up the pot roast juices.  I can’t disagree with that piece of advice.  My sister recommended this whole wheat recipe (1/2 wheat/white) and said that my kids love it when they’re at her house.  I used Guinness Black Lager instead of something domestic (blech).  Because the Guinness comes in 14.9 ounce cans and I only needed 12 ounces, I had to do something with the rest–I poured a Smithwicks, sipped some off the top to make room, and poured the remainder of the Guinness on top.


Of course, what is a pot roast without a side of mashed potatoes and steamed carrots?  My son would answer: “too many carrots”.  I make him eat three of them, just to say that he had some.

The recipe tells you to reduce down the broth that the roast was cooked in.  Don’t skimp on this.  Do it like your life depends on it.  I had mine at a rolling boil for over twenty minutes before it reduced down enough.  It turns into a sweet, balsamic glaze that is nearly orgasmic.

Johnny has been informed that he needs to turn in his “Comment Card” soon, so that I may update with his review.



Dinners with Johnny: Give Me Those Baby Back Ribs

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Seven years ago, I went back to work and it was in a little, small-town Rib joint.  We had the best ribs I’d ever had in my life.  Sadly, the place burnt down (leading me to my present place of employment).  I have missed those, fall-of-the-bone ribs and have been very picky about ordering ribs in a restaurant.  

Recently, a friend picked up, and slow roasted, four racks of ribs; they blew the rib joint’s right out of the water.  I’d only ever purchased those precooked ribs and they were only ever “so-so”.   I decided that I had to try my hand at real ones.

I rubbed down two racks with brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika and a bit of cayenne.  I then put the on a greased, foil lined sheet pan and tented the top.  I let them roast for about two hours, then pulled the foil off and basted them with bbq sauce.  They glazed over just right.

And what goes perfectly with ribs?

Homemade Dijon cheddar mac and cheese, of course.

Many napkins and contented sighs accompanied this meal.

Slow Roasting to perfection
Slow Roasting to perfection
Slather on the bbq sauce!
Slather on the bbq sauce!
The ultimate comfort food meal: Baby Back Ribs and Dijon Cheddar Mac N Cheese
The ultimate comfort food meal: Baby Back Ribs and Dijon Cheddar Mac N Cheese

Dinners with Johnny: A Weekly Series

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I’ve been really lazy in updating my actual food blog and for that I apologize.  I’m going to do my best to remedy that.

I’ve decided that I’m going to start a new category, called: Dinners with Johnny.

Johnny is my brother and lived with me for over seven years.  He moved in when my ex and I were still together and stayed with for seven years after my ex and I divorced.  We had our moments of struggle and frustrations, just like any siblings (especially adult siblings, living together) but he became a major source of companionship and support to myself and my kids.

This fall, I sold my home and we had to part as roommates–him moving just across the lake and myself, down the road.  It was important that I not lose the time with him after we moved into separate households.

With Tuesdays being my day off, we have fallen into a weekly dinner night so that we can keep that connection strong.  This gives us time to visit, watch stupid tv together and for me to feed my culinary passions.  I love the planning stage, just as much as I love the preparing.

So, that said…Welcome to “Dinners with Johnny: A Weekly Series”

Here we are, so many years ago.
Here we are, so young…so many years ago.
We showed up to Christmas dinner with our family, dressed like this.
We showed up to Christmas dinner with our family, dressed like this.


Yeah...we've still not grown up
Yeah…we’ve still not grown up


Cheddar and Garlic Cream Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

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Have I mentioned that I love Bacon?  I love Bacon.  I love, love, LOVE Bacon.

This week my Facebook page reached 100 likes and I decided I was going to celebrate with a really fun meal.  Something with Bacon.  The recipe over at Artsy-Fartsy Mama struck my fancy (and her blog name made me giggle).

I made a few changes to this recipe, to make it my own.

I’ve always wanted to try  my hand at a Bacon weave and really liked how well it worked.  I used eight slices of Bacon in order to make the weave cover my chicken breasts ( I think that it also kept the cheese from seeping out and melting into the pan while they cooked).

I used a generous sprinkle of garlic powder on top of the cream cheese, topped it with cheddar and then wove the Bacon over the entire piece of meat.  I secured the ends with a couple of longer toothpicks.

The recipe said to cook for 45 minutes, turning half way through.  I ended up moving the pieces to a grate, set over a pan.  It seemed to keep the chicken from getting soggy in all those Bacon drippings.  I threw it under the broiler for about 15 minutes after the 45 minutes were up and man, did they ever look amazing.

Crisp Perfection

A side of Au Gratin (in our family, we jokingly call them “Old Rotten” potatoes), some Lincoln Peak Marquette and my meal was complete.  I usually do a nice big veggie on side of most meals but I was tired after an entire day at work, and knew that I had dessert preparations coming up.

Even after cooking them for an hour, the chicken was so moist and tender.  The Bacon seemed to keep everything wrapped in tightly.  As time consuming as they seemed, I will definitely be making these again.

Cheddar and Garlic Cream Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Chicken with Lincoln Peak Marquette

Time to make the doughnuts…..

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Maple Glazed Goodness

I loved Fred the Baker and I still giggle when I hear that phrase.  I remember growing up and watching the Dunkin Donuts commercials.  “Time to make the doughnuts.  I made the doughnuts……”

In my younger days, I worked at a grocery store that had an in-house bakery.  The biggest part of my job was making the doughnuts.  Having to start work at 3:30 am often found me muttering, “It’s time to make the doughnuts…..”  Even though they were early hours, making doughnuts was a fun job.  After I got the hang of it, turning doughnuts with sticks was a blast.  It was not unlike playing drums with food–at least that’s how my imagination played out for me.

My baking adventure this weekend was actually deep fried but who’s keeping track?  It’s still a pastry, and you can bake them, but where’s the fun in that?

I’ve never understood the fascination with Krispy Kremes.  Sure, I tried them once, fresh off the conveyor, but I just don’t think they’re “all that”.  With that as my disclaimer, I found this recipe on Instructables and decided to use it for the actual doughnut dough.

This recipe was really simple to follow and everything went according to plan until I pulled the formed doughnuts out to fry them.  I should have dusted the pans more liberally than I did because they stuck and flattened when I tried to pick them up.  Oh well.  Live and learn, right?

I had already decided that I was going to maple glaze these babies and this is the recipe that I came up with:

Maple Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 cup maple cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
Mix sugar, corn syrup, maple cream, 1/4 cup maple syrup and salt into mixer. Mix well, 15 to 20 minutes. Add more maple syrup as needed to get desired consistency.  It works well to be able to spread this frosting on the doughnut, rather than dip into.
I did cook off a pound of Bacon but didn’t think fast enough to put the crumbs on immediately upon frosting the doughnuts.  The glaze dried quick and the Bacon wouldn’t stick.
Solution: Doughnuts with a Bacon chaser.  Everybody wins!
The Rising of the Dough
The Rising of the Dough
Turned out and ready to roll.
Turned out and ready to roll.
Nesting Cutters
Nesting Cutters
They are Risen!
They are Risen!
Gone for a swim in the bubbly oil.
Gone for a swim in the bubbly oil.
Maple Glazed Goodness

Maple Glazed Goodness

Maple Glazed Goodness

PSA: Jaeger doesn’t always mean alcohol

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When I hear Jaeger, I automatically think of Red-Headed Sluts and Jaeger Bombs.  I’ve never had the latter, and probably won’t ever, thanks to the former.  I have a love-hate relationship with the Sluts.  Word to the Wise: A fifth of Jaeger in one evening will do that to a person.  Hey, You’re only young once, right?  Even if that was when you were thirty-two years old, right?  I’m so glad that I didn’t have to work on renewing my JaegerMeister relationship this weekend.

I happen to have a generous co-worker that supplied me with my first opportunity to experience venison sometime in the fall.  I used up the first round that he shared with me, a couple months ago, and mentioned to him that I wouldn’t be opposed to more.  He was more than happy to share with me again.  Even my kids were excited with the news (I have to say that I’m thankful for kids that trying new things, more than the average).

I researched some new recipes and found an amazing site that catered to wild game recipes.  Thanks to Hank Shaw, I found an amazing recipe: Classic Jaeger Schnitzel.

As a child, I remember hating mushrooms and onions and I’m really glad that I grew up (well, only grew up partially).  This recipe called for 1-1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms.  I used a pound of white mushrooms because that’s what I have the most of, on hand.  I was a bit skeptical about throwing them in a hot pan without any sort of grease but the recipe told me to and who’s to argue with a recipe?  I won’t argue that the smell was so amazingly, intoxicating–even more so when I added the Bacon grease and a whole, chopped onion.

As soon as those were browned, I transferred them to a bowl and added more Bacon grease to the pan (no…..this isn’t a heart attack waiting to happen….at all!). I then dredged a pound of backstrap strip cutlets  in flour and seared them for about ninety seconds on each side.

The best part: The part where I make a gravy with stock, heavy cream and more Bacon grease.  I threw the mushrooms and onions back into this amazing, creamy concoction and served it aside some light garlic mashed potatoes.  The first time I made venison strip cutlets, I literally gagged.  I don’t like the “gamey” taste as much as my partner does but this recipe left me in absolute culinary bliss.

And in complete opposition to the author’s description of this mean being “a manly meal, and the only green thing allowed is, occasionally, parsley”, I made a green salad to go along with it.  I received no complaints.

Bacon Maple Walnut Pie

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I celebrated my thirty seventh birthday yesterday.  Instead of a cake, I decided to make a birthday pie.  While at the dinner table, this is the conversation that went down:

Me: Tomorrow, I’m going to make a pie. A Bacon, maple walnut pie to be exact.

Hannah: Ethan, did you hear mom? She’s going to combine two of your most favorite things in the world: Bacon and pie.

Bud: Birthday Bacon Pie?? Awesome!

I have always loved my mom’s Maple Walnut pie.  She used to make it when we had our bakery years ago and because I believe everything is better with Bacon*, I decided to kick my favorite up a notch.

While the whole walnuts were toasting in the oven, I chopped and fried up six slices of bacon.

I realized that I didn’t have any maple extract in the house.  That may have been a complete failure, if I didn’t have a whole bottle of Sapling Maple Liqueur ready to take its place.

After everything was mixed up and poured into the pan, I sprinkled chopped Bacon over the top of my pie.

The pie browned up so beautifully and the Bacon didn’t burn at all.  I did a final brush with some more maple syrup once the pie came out.

Once it’s cool, I will be enjoying some with a bit of ice cream, more chopped Bacon and Sapling drizzled over everything.

*I believe in it so much that even my phone automatically capitalizes the word. 

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