Pork Loin Jerky Recipe and a Holiday Slate Cheese Board

I’m a big fan of good jerky. Do you find that it is typically a ‘guy’ thing to eat jerky? For whatever reason it seems that I rarely see a woman get excited to tear into a bag of jerky, but when a guy sees that jerky is available well then it seems like it is a whole different ball game. I know from my experience that seems to be the case, and hence why I tend to make my own. I just think that when looking at the cost, and ingredients for that matter, that jerky can be expensive. Not only that but I do not even know what a lot of those ingredients are in the jerky! Recently there were pork loins on sale and as I was purging one of our large freezers for a good thaw and cleaning, I decided to pull a couple of pork loins out to be used as sandwiches, but then quickly thought of trying out making jerky with the lean pork. Glad I did because this pork loin jerky was money well spent.

Pork Loin Jerky Recipe
Pork Loin Jerky Recipe

Let’s get started on this simple pork loin jerky recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb pork loin, trimmed of fat, cut into 1/2 inch medallions with the grain
  • 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 dashes of liquid smoke, hickory flavor
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

First start by cutting the pork loin. I like to have mine almost slightly frozen so that it is way easier to slice, and you get really even slices.

Mix all of the everything but the pork in a bowl. Mix it really well. I like to use kitchen safe disposable plastic gloves when mixing so if you have them, strap them into place. Make sure all of the pork is completely marinated in the pork, and gently massage if possible. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight to marinate, or at least four hours.

Next is the food dehydrator. Make sure the grates are cleaned and everything is ready to go. take the bottom rack and start laying pieces of the pork around the tray. Keep in mind some dehydrators are different shapes so the racks may be rectangular. If you are baking, Google ‘how to make jerky in the oven’. Do not crowd or overlap any of the pork pieces.

Continue with the pork on the remaining dehydrator racks. Stack the racks accordingly, cover, and turn on the dehydrator. For the most part you are done and simply have to wait about 5 hours for the pork to be jerky.

Pork Loin Jerky Recipe
Pork Loin Jerky Recipe

Once the jerky is done (it should be completely dry, but not like a shoelace as you still want to be able to easily eat through it), take them off of the rack (they will be slightly hot) and let cool before storing them. Once cooled, I like to keep half and then vacuum seal the rest. I learned the hard way some time ago when making a batch of jerky that when I placed them into a ziplock bag that the moisture got trapped and when pulling some out of the refrigerator, only a couple of days later, they were covered in mold. No bueno.

The end result is a really great pork jerky. Heck you would probably not even know it was pork if it wasn’t for the medallion cut! The light smokiness was all due to the liquid smoke, and trust me a little goes a long way. My taste testers came out of their rooms with excitement, and sure enough the pork loin jerky was a hit. The pork jerky makes a great holiday snack and can go well with an array of holiday servings, and in my case cookies and cheese.

The board I like to serve holiday appetizers on is this slate cheese board from Brooklyn Slate Company (comes with a nice maple cutting knife, chalk, bag, and you can even get it engraved). The cheese board actually elevates the low brow jerky into a more stunning presentation. Having the jerky on the board, alongside some funky cheese and some homemade cookies only resulted in a couple of slices of cheese being left, only after minutes of setting it out on display. The slate board that attracted so many quickly became a hit. I did not even get to use the chalk to write little notes on the board such as ‘pork jerky’, ‘manchego’, and ‘pecan pralines’. Next time. There is always next time.

Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board
Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board, @hometonest #hometonest, #slatecheeseboard #charcuterie #gifts

Happy holidays everyone (I know it’s early but my schedule is so random nowadays)! If you are looking for a unique appetizer to share, or a great holiday vessel to serve on, give these two a shot. They are both well worth it!

Related Items:

Filipino Bistek Tagalog Sliders

Lately I have been thrown a few challenges. Some major ones such as battling cancer, and some minor ones such as how to scale down feeding a family. See, we lost our oldest to college this year. It’s exciting to everyone, but the change was an interesting variable to deal with. Sure, it has been quiet, the house easier to pick up, less dishes, less laundry, less noise, and less food consumption. To me, that’s nice, but the food consumption is something I am still getting a grasp on. I know it sounds easy but when you have been cooking as long as I have, you get used to portions, or should I say teenage portions.

My oldest, probably since he hit his teens, has been a big eater. The kid will crush three burgers if he is bored (I’m not even sure hungry), a meal of two plates of nachos, 36 chicken wings… You get it. So now (and probably always) I have many leftovers which sadly often time can go to waste. Due to my condition, I cannot really entertain the idea of leftovers, even my own, if it sits over a day in the refrigerator, so you can see where I am going. I’m learning to scale down on family meals, and it is tough. Thankfully there was something I made earlier this month, Bistek Tagalog where it was so tasty that I had the appetite the following day to make something out of the leftover, and it was a simple as making a slider and adding some cheese. BOOM!

Filipino Bistek Sliders
Filipino Bistek Sliders

The process of making Bistek Tagalog (Steak with onions along with great Filipino flavors) is simple to begin with, and then warming up the leftovers and putting them between two soft buns, well you have something great to eat in no time.

Let’s get started:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked Bistek Tagalog, warmed
  • 1 slice provolone cheese, per slider
  • 2 slider buns, per slider

That is it!

Take a skillet, and heat it to medium heat. Add in whatever amount of bistek tagalog you want for your sliders and let it come to temperature. Once the beef and onions are nice and warm add some provolone cheese to the top.

Bistek Tagalog Ingredients
Bistek Tagalog Ingredients

Once the cheese begins to melt, left up and slide onto the bottom of your slider bun. Top with the top bun. Repeat if necessary.

As much as I love a great cheesesteak sandwich, the Filipino bistek tagalog slider is one sandwich to be reckoned with, and low and behold I got to use up some of my leftovers!

P.S. The kid is back from college this week so I’m hoping leftovers will be held to a minimum for a few days!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! (If you are looking for some ideas for recipes this Thanksgiving, give these a try.)

Homemade Wedge Fries

Oh how do I love a good fried potato. I actually really don’t care what type of potato is served, but if it is golden brown and delicious, I’m all in. I’m still coming up with pretty much all of the menu ideas for the family, and exhausting as that can be (granted, I still enjoy it), I decided to rummage through my pantry as I normally do to come up with something to make. This time it was about four potatoes I had just looking at me, so I took them out, scrubbed them and laid them out to dry. This allowed me to walk past them about 20 times only to think about what the heck I was going to make for the evening meal.

At first I thought I would make mashed potatoes and gravy as I know my daughter loves that and could probably just eat a bowl of that for dinner, me included, but as I thought about them more I was really on the fence to make twice cooked french fries, but I didn’t want to deal with frying. Then the light came on… (it takes awhile nowadays for that light to come on) and BOOM… wedge fries!

Homemade Wedge Fries Recipe
Homemade Wedge Fries Recipe

Wedge fries can be hit or miss in my opinion. You either get ones that are too soft, or too crispy, or ones that are simply just not seasoned. Since wedge fries are a bit on the larger size, you will want to not only cook them properly, but season them properly. I think I did just that because these were actually the star of the dinner, and so much that I ended up making another batch later in the week.

This recipe is way too simple to make, and is a perfect snack, or side dish to most any meal.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • Olive oil, to lightly coat
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • fresh herbs, optional
  • salted cold water

Start by taking a potato and cutting it in half, lengthwise. To each half, cut them into four wedges. I like to cut the half in half, again lengthwise, then cut each one in half on the diagonal.

Place these wedges into a large bowl of cold water.  Add about 1 tablespoon of salt and stir.

Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

How to make wedge fries
How to make wedge fries

Soak the potatoes for about 30 minutes to remove some of that starch. After 30 minutes, drain, and rinse the potatoes.

Once the potatoes have drained, pat them dry. Wipe out the bowl with some paper towel, then place those wedges back in the bowl. Drizzle olive oil all over the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and give a good toss.

How to make wedge fries
How to make wedge fries

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Lay them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place into the oven.

Bake the fries for about 20 minutes, then turn each wedge over, and cook another 10 minutes. Take a butter knife or fork and lightly poke the wedge. It should insert rather easily. The wedge should look golden on the outside, and nice and tender on the inside.

Now here is what I like to do, but you can simply plate and serve as is.

I like to heat a very large skillet on medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of additional olive oil, and the butter, and let that butter come to a bubble. Slide the wedges into the skillet, and give a good jiggle to the skillet to cover the wedges in butter and oil, and let those continue to cook for about 5 minutes to get a bit extra crispy. If you are using fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary, throw it in now. If some of the wedges start to fall apart, don’t worry. I could eat a bowl of those crispy bits (and the table agreed) alone!

Give one a try, remembering that they will be piping hot on the interior. If it requires more salt or pepper, go for it otherwise let your table season to their liking.

Plate and serve.

The result is one hell of a wedge fry and a lot less oil to deal with. As I thought I would have some of these wedges remain on the table to be used for a breakfast skillet the next day, well I was wrong. The family loved them so much it was as this was their first experience eating a large french fry! Hope you enjoy.

Homemade Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers

It seems as though I have always had a love for chili peppers. I assume that I got this love by watching, learning, and probably tasting hot sauces at an earlier age. It was probably hanging around our kitchen and my dad cracking open a bottle of hot sauce and asking me to try. Maybe not. Whatever the case, I love chili peppers and I probably eat at least 1/2 dozen (or more) each week. With that being said, it’s a bit sad that we had to harvest the rest of our vegetables from our garden last night. We still had a lot of tomatoes that have yet to ripen, plenty of chili peppers, and a broccoli plant that only wanted to yield it’s baby crown! I can’t say that it was anyone’s fault as to why we had so much left on the vines but in about two more weeks, those tomatoes would probably be perfect! Oh well.

Pickled Pepperoncini Recipe
Pickled Pepperoncini Recipe

That’s OK though. As much as I would like to harvest everything that we grow, I realize that we must sacrifice a few things to get what we needed from the garden. I often plant an array of chili peppers each year so I was excited to see what was flowering and low and behold it was the pepperoncini, and sure enough one of my favorite eating ‘snack’ chili peppers. There were so many peppers on the two bushes that I did not know what to do with all of them. The pickling was the first batch, and now I must figure out what to do with the rest of them. I have some ideas up my sleeve, but in the meantime, here is a quick recipe for pickling chili peppers.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large mason jar
  • ~25 whole pepperoncini peppers, washed, slit with a knife
  • 5 cloves of garlic, skins removed, lightly smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar

Just to note, Spring may be one of my favorite time of year, only for the sure pleasure of knowing that we will be able to plant, and plant something new. This is the first year we planted this peppers, and as we planted two bushes this year, I will most likely decide to plant one next year. One plant/bush will yield a ton of peppers, and probably too many for the average person depending on how much you enjoy chili peppers.

Start by making sure your peppers are cleaned and cleared of any dirt. Once cleaned, take a sharp knife and make a small slit into each pepper. Why the small slit? My plan is to let those great pickling juices infiltrate the interior and make for great flavor.

Drop each pepper into the mason jar along with the bay leaf.

Pickled Pepperoncini Ingredients
Pickled Pepperoncini Ingredients

To a small sauce pan, add the vinegar, salt, sugar, garlic, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, then remove from the heat and let it cool.

Once cooled, pour in the pickling solution and once it is completely cool, seal and place in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days before digging in.

The beautiful thing about these pepperoncini peppers is that not only are they crunchy, slightly spicy, and are a perfect side dish (and snack (yes, I eat these for snacks sometimes)), but they are great in making them your own in terms of pickling variants, but geez are they ever easy to make. I know I was winning when we, yes I say ‘we’ because my wife participated in trying and eating more than one of them! That’s a huge deal!

To be honest, at first I had no clue as to what these peppers were when we planted. I knew what pepperoncini were, but the seeds did not state that. When trying a raw one, I fell in love, as did my wife. The pickled pepperoncini are awesome, but the raw (feel free to freeze them raw) are dynamite! I’m curious, what is your favorite quick pickle go to recipe? Enjoy!

You might enjoy:

 

Filipino Bulalo

I often wish that there would always be a pot of soup of the stove. Warm and ready to go any time of the day, all day, and every day. How cool would that be, especially if you had a wood burner or something and it was your task to keep that warm pot of goodness warm all day long. I know I would be into something like that! I don’t want to be premature but I think fall sprung in Wisconsin. What does that mean? Well, what it means every fall Sunday at the Phillips house; comfort food season.

This weekend was no exception. The chicken pot pie came rolling out as did pumpkin spiced ‘you name it desserts’, as well as soup. The thought of soup seemed like a warm blanket on a cold afternoon. Granted chicken pot pie is that thickening agent that just coats your stomach lining, and almost putting you instantly to sleep, but that soup on the otherhand, well that got me thinking. Thinking not only about how delicious each bite would be, but thoughts of making a rustic bread,, and leaving that soup of the stove all darn day only to be had more of later. That’s when I thought of the communal Filipino soup known as Bulalo.

Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe
Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe

The thing about bulalo is that it might be intimidating if it is served in front of you without ever have tried it. It’s almost like a Mexican caldo de res where you get large chunks of meat and vegetables. It’s definitely a spoon, fork, knife, and hand meal so probably best to eat around close friends and family in case you get down and dirty and want to roll up your sleeves, not have a care in the world and just get to town on some bone marrow!

Yes, the bone marrow. It’s the luxurious part of this soup and part of the beauty. Beef bones with marrow, cooked really low and slow until pot roast tender. That’s this soup. Simple, delicious, and slurpable.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs of beef shanks
  • water
  • 2 bundles of bok choy, quartered whole
  • 3 ears of corn, cut into half, or quarters
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 head garlic, top cut off (exposing cloves)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, more to your liking
  • 1/2 small green cabbage, roughly chopped
  • limes, optional
  • cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • fried shallots, optional
  • fried garlic, optional

Start by adding cold water to a stock pot. Add the beef shanks (find these on the cheap at local Mexican grocery stores), and turn on the heat to a medium high heat.

Cook the shanks for about 15 minutes or until they come to a boil for about 5 minutes. During the boil, get a large spoon out and skim the top surface of all of the bone scum. Discard the scum. We are going to discard the water and scum anyway but it’s always nice to get rid of the majority ahead of time.

Put a strainer in your sink and pour the beef and water into the strainer. Rinse the beef well.

Rinse out the stock pot. Place the bones back in the pot along with the onion, garlic, and peppercorns. Fill to cover with water, and return to a boil.

Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe
Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe

While the beef is boiling, continue to skim off any scum that comes to the surface and discard. After about 4 hours, remove the garlic, onion, and any peppercorns.

Season the stock with fish sauce and some salt. Stir and taste. If the stock is getting a bit low, add a bit more water to your liking, just keep the beef stock flavored as you add more water.

Add in the corn and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or so. Once the beef is ultra tender, add in the bok choy and cabbage. I tossed in a small amount of fresh green beans from our garden as well (not necessary), and give that a good stir. Good for another 10 minutes or so, give a taste and adjust salt if necessary.

When you are ready to serve, transfer some of the soup mixture into a soup serving bowl, ensuring some beef bone, corn, and cabbage, then give a good squeeze of lime. Serve alongside a big bowl of cooked jasmine rice, and dig in! I like to top mine with fried garlic chips and shallots, and some fresh chili, but that’s just me.

Not only is this a great communal dish, but it is one that is perfect for long, cold days and evenings, and one that is sure to please a crowd.

Get a plate. Take some rice onto the plate. Slurp some broth. Spoon out some chunks of cabbage or beef onto the rice. Get into it. Repeat.

Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip

It was not too long ago where our families got together for an early summertime barbecue, or cookout if you will. I tend not to be a snob when it comes to the terms barbecue and grill out (or cookout), but when I hear a barbecue I think of meat smoked low and slow, then served while grilling is typically done over charcoal or wood, or for those that use gas, cooking at a faster pace. Regardless, any get together is always a fun time in our book, and we always like to bring something to the get together. When I ask the question to my wife if we can bring anything to the party, when I hear the word ‘Dessert’ I often panic in a sense. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t freak out or anything, but dessert is typically not my cup of tea and I typically only make dessert for my wife and kids. I am more into the savory, not the sweet.

So when I heard a dessert, I immediately thought of taking this one on myself and making something very simple, sweet, and something I knew adults and children would love. That’s when I came up with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip Recipe
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup salted caramel (or caramel chips)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Graham crackers or sliced apples

Again, this dip is way too easy to make and everyone crushed it. I think there was about 1/2 tablespoon left when we gathered the kids to leave the party. Yes, it’s that good, and a bit addicting.

Start by adding the cream cheese, butter, sugars, salt, and vanilla extract to a mixing bowl. Turn on your mixer and mix until all of the ingredients are well combined.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip Ingredients
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip Ingredients

Next add in both of your chocolate and caramel chips. Mix again to make sure all of the chips are combined.

Now get your silicone baking spatula out and get all of those goods scraped out and placed into your serving bowl.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Party Dip

When you are ready to serve, place your serving bowl next to a plate lined with graham crackers and sliced apples. Spread onto either one and get to town. These are sweet, creamy, and have a great little texture from those mini chips.

This is a quicker winner of a dessert. Hope you enjoy!

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots

Summertime is finally here, and sometimes that is s a great thing or a bad thing. The bad only being that it has been a scorcher in Wisconsin. The temperature has been in the upper to mid 90’s lately with a high percentage of humidity. I don’t perform well in humidity, and as I normally run hot to begin with, when you add humidity that only means I’m a walking puddle.  The great thing is that all of the wonderful produce that my wife and family love is in full harvest, and one of them being corn. I’ve always related corn and tomatoes to summertime while living in the midwest, and as we grow a lot of tomatoes in our garden, corn is pretty much on our lunch or dinner table several times a week.

While living in Dallas, I was first introduced to Mexican corn (Elotes), and I fell in love. It was addicting. Grilled or steamed corn smothered in mayonnaise, sprinkled with chili powder and cotija cheese, what was not to love? I had elotes on my mind after buying a handful of corn on the cob, and after rummaging through my freezer (trying to purge frozen items), I located some nice tater tots. I love tater tots, and after looking at both the corn and the tater tots, I knew I could only do justice my making some loaded Mexican Elotes Tater Tots.

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe
Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe

Forget the nachos. These are a game changer.

Let’s get started.

  • 2 ears of corn, steamed or grilled, then cut off the cob
  • 1/2 a bag or about 15 oz of frozen tater tots, cooked by directions on bag
  • 2 cups of Supremo 3 Cheese Mexican blend cheese (Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Cotija)
  • 1/3 cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish
  • 1/2 lime, optional

Start by preheating your oven by directions, or fry the tots if you desire. I baked mine on a cast iron fajita skillet (love), and during this time steam or grill your corn.

Once the corn is cooked to your liking (I like mine a bit al dente), cut it off the cob and place it into a mixing bowl.

Add the mayonnaise, chili powder, and a bit of salt and pepper. Those tater tots need some salt and pepper.

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Ingredients
Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Ingredients

Once the tots are close to being done (and to your liking), and some like them a bit tender and some like them nice and crispy like myself, remove the skillet or baking sheet from the oven. Top all of the tater tots with the Mexican shredded cheeses and place back into the oven and cook for about 5 more minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted.

Once the cheese is nicely melted, remove it from the oven and slide onto your serving plate. I keep mine on the cast iron skillet and place it on top of the wooden board that came with the fajita skillet.

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe
Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe

Top with the corn mixture, shower with fresh cilantro, and serve with a lime wedge for additional acidity.

Now block yourself from others, just kidding, and dig in. You talk about everything you can love about Mexican Elotes, these Mexican Elotes Tater Tots just bring it over the top. Simple, quick, and delicious. This is a perfect Summertime snack. Enjoy.

If you are looking for other takes on Mexican elotes, or other corn ideas this summer, give these a try:

Homemade Corn Nuts

I grew up eating corn nuts. I loved them, and still to this day. I’m a bit cautious however eating them nowadays only because I think I may crack a tooth or something. But corn nuts are something my boys love as well, and I figured what the heck, let’s make some homemade ones. I was thinking of what to seasons these corn nuts with, and came up with two versions. One using a Filipino sisig seasoning (you can find it in your Asian market), and the other using one of my son’s favorite seasoning blends, Slap Ya Mama.

These corn  nuts are really easy to make, come out a bit on the chalky side which is ok, and still pleased the boys. Feel free to use whatever seasoning mix you enjoy.

Homemade Corn Nuts Recipe
Homemade Corn Nuts Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Goya Giant White Corn Kernels (You can find at your local Mexican grocery store)
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • water to cover and soak
  • 3 cups of canola oil
  • 3 tbsp of your favorite seasoning blend

Now you have a couple of options here. You can fry them or bake them. I default to the fry method, however if you are going to bake them, bake them at 400 degrees between 20-40 minutes turning every 10 minutes.

You have to soak the beans overnight in a large bowl in cool water. The next day, drain the water, and them them stay in the strainer to air dry a bit. Sprinkle in the sugar and salt, and give them a good toss.

Next heat up a pot and pour in the oil. Bring to a medium-high heat for a few minutes. Drop in a couple of corn nuts and see if they sizzle. If not, wait a few more minutes until they do sizzle.

Homemade Corn Nuts
Homemade Corn Nuts

Fry the corn nuts, in batches, for about 15 minutes or until they get nice and golden. Move them around with a slotted spoon from time to time. Once they are golden, remove them to a paper lined baking sheet with a kitchen spider or slotted spoon, removing any excess oil, and let them cool slightly.

While they are cooling, pour them into a mixing bowl, and add your seasoning, tossing to completely coat them. Repeat and serve.

My oldest loved these, in particular the Slap Ya Mama version. Crunchy, salty, and delicious. These make for a perfect snack. Hope you enjoy!

Grilled Octopus Salad

After a quick lunch at one of my favorite taco joints in Milwaukee, I decided I would shop around. I was really only looking for some tortillas for my kids, and an avocado for my wife, but I decided I would browse. Browsing typically gets me into trouble when I am at a grocery store. Go figure. This time around I checked into the seafood section and found an octopus. I have been thinking of octopus for some time now and wanted my family to experience it. I grew up trying octopus from time to time, along with conch and snails. My parents were good like that so I figured I would make attempts to let my kids experience that as well. The first thing that came to mind was a grilled octopus salad, and that is what I stuck with.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

This octopus salad is not only really easy to make, but it is super refreshing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs octopus, rinsed and cleaned
  • 2 cloves of garlic, rough chop
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, optional
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with some salt, lemon, black peppercorn, and serrano chili. Place the octopus in the water and boil for 45 minutes.

Remove the octopus and place in a large boil and rinse it with cold water. Drain the water and then drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Let the octopus rest for about 30 minutes.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

Chop into large pieces and heat up your grill.

Once your grill is heated, place the octopus parts onto the grill, and cook for about 5 minutes, turning along the way. Your goal is to get some of that grill char onto the octopus.

After 5 minutes, remove the octopus from the grill and place into a large bowl. Add the remaining oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, onions, parsley and bell pepper. Give that a good toss and get ready to serve.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

I loved it. The texture of the octopus is spot on and the flavor from the great olive oil and lemon juice is super refreshing. Did my kids like it? Not sure but at least they tried! This grilled octopus salad would be really great during the summer months so I suspect I will return to that seafood aisle at my local Mexican grocery store and have them try it again. Have you tried octopus, and do you enjoy it?

Loaded Baked Potato Skin Nachos

The Super Bowl has passed, and to be honest I do not think that any one of us in my family actually cared. Sure, the boys said ‘I want the Patriots to go down!’ a few times that day, but the only thing I really cared about was what we were going to snack on. I am done asking, for the most part, what everyone would like to eat, and just lay things out. My menu was simple. Slow baked ribs that would be later fried and glazed, and loaded potato skins that would also be fried.

One of my top recipes is the loaded potato skins, and as I have made so many awesome variations of potato skins, there is one thing I have never done and that is to actually fry the skins. It’s a total game changer. Why? Well because you get a whole shell of that awesome crispy and crunchy texture, not just on the edges, but the entire shell. It’s almost chip like in texture, but with a bit, and just a bit of that creaminess from the potato.

Loaded Potato Skin Nachos
Loaded Potato Skin Nachos

As with any nacho, you load this as you darn well please, but for me, there was one ingredient that made this shine and that was crispy, Nueske’s smoked duck breast lardons.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs of russet potatos, cleaned
  • 4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Nueske’s smoked duck breast, cubed (or substitute bacon), and fried until slightly crisp
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz can of black olives, drained
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • sour cream, optional
  • avocado, sliced, optional
  • Your favorite hot sauce
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced, optional
  • shredded lettuce, optional
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 cups of canola oil, 350 degrees

Again, you can build your nachos however you want. Add beans and tomatoes if you desire. Load these suckers up!

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Add the whole potatoes to a baking sheet. Use a fork and poke a few holes into each potato to allow steam to release while baking. Bake the potatoes for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven, and let them completely cool.

Once the potatoes have cooled, sliced them in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon and gently scoop out all of the potato into a bowl. I use all of the potato, add a bit of butter, salt, and milk and whip them up to mashed potatoes for another meal.

Once you have all of your skins ready, heat up a pot with the canola oil. Get the oil to 350 degrees on medium-high heat, and once you have your temperature, drop in about 7-8, or whatever can easily fit into the pot without crowding, and cook the skins for about 5-10 minutes or until you begin to see the interior of the skins get golden and nicely crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potato skins and place them on a paper towel lined plate to release any excess oil. Immediately season by showering the skins with salt. Taters need salt.

Ingredients for making Loaded Potato Skin Nachos
Ingredients for making Loaded Potato Skin Nachos

Repeat with the potato skins.

Add the skins to a oven safe baking pan, and begin adding cheese into each skin.

When all of the skins have finished cooking and the excess oil is removed and they are nicely salted, layer the potato skins onto the baking pan and continue to add cheese into each shell.

Keep the oil on the stove, and take the cubed Nueske’s smoked duck breast and add them to the oil. Get them lightly crisp, then the same process with the slotted spoon and place onto the paper lined plate.

Take those Nueske duck lardons and place a couple into each shell. If you are using bacon, cook until slightly crisp, then crumble and add that into each shell. Add the shallots into each shell, then place back into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted.

Remove the potato skins from the oven (do not devour), then decorate them with green onions, avocado, cilantro, serrano chilies, olives, hot sauce, and sour cream (or whatever you desire).

Loaded Potato Skin Nachos Recipe
Loaded Potato Skin Nachos Recipe

Plate and serve. You want to talk about an ultimate game day snack, this is the one! As much as we all love nachos, this loaded potato skin nacho recipe is really, really hard to beat. It’s everything you love about a nacho but in a crispy potato skin boat! Hope you enjoy!