Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WDW - Cranberry-Orange Scones

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I love scones! But, let's face it, not all scones are good scones. Some are better off serving as hockey pucks. I have learned, through much trial and error, to make a good scone you must:

1) use a liberal amount of butter.
2) use heavy cream.

Sorry, folks, but that's just the way that it is.

If you don't believe me, go ahead and make some using buttermilk or some other sorry little liquid and you'll see what I mean.

I have had a great basic recipe for scones for many years, but when I came across this recipe from Ina Garten, I knew I had to try it. I love Ina. She uses great ingredients and her cooking is really simple. Pretty much everything she makes is gold, too.

I don't really like Ina's food network show though, because frankly, it bothers me that she entertains men while her husband Jeffrey is noticably not home. And, the men she has over, are well, interesting, if you know what I mean. Let's just say they all seem to be flower arrangers. 'Nuff said. And, besides, if I hear her say "this is going to be really good" in her non-expressive tone one more time, I really might flip out. I really do love Ina's food though - I do.

And, since Ina had her Barefoot Contessa store in the Hamptons for many years, and since she says her baked goods flew out of the shop every morning, I decided she'd be the right person to look to for good scones. I was right.

These scones are amazing! They meet my criteria of lots of butter and heavy cream, and the orange zest and cranberries are the perfect touch. The crumb is perfectly tender, and they are so easy to make. You can even use your KitchenAid. The recipe makes a lot - about 18 large scones- you might want to halve it so you don't gain like, 10 pounds from these. I changed the amount of orange rind and also added a teaspoon of orange extract to the glaze to ramp up the orange flavor. The photo was taken before I glazed them since I ran out of powdered sugar (they are just as good without it, too). I think next time I might try a drop scone rather than a rolled one - I kind of like that rustic look.


Cranberry Orange Scones
Ina Garten

4 cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. grated orange zest
¾ lb. cold butter, diced
4 xl eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk, for egg wash


½ cup powdered sugar
4 tsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. orange extract, optional


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix on lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and the heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix just until blended. The dough will be wet and lumpy. Combine the dried cranberries with the ¼ cup flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surfact and knead into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4” thick. Cut into circles with a 3” cutter. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake 20-22 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange extract, and drizzle lightly over the scones.


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Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Me! Monday


I don't know why I don't do these Monday posts more often... it's not like there is a shortage of material!

This week, I most definitely:

~ did not get a call from Sirius radio. They did not ask me again to re-subscribe despite
all of this. When I told them I was still getting their service, even though I canceled it months ago, they did not adamantly deny that. I did not then actually laugh at the salesperson and say, "okay, if you say so." That would be very pop-off-ish and everyone knows I am most definitely not a pop-off. (P.S. My husband did not have to admonish me from the other room to end the conversation either.) No, not me!


~did not cheerfully post of my newfound technique of making grilled pizza and then proceed to make it a second time and char it beyond recognition. I did not have to throw the pizza crust into the trash. I did not then have to dig through my freezer looking for another option for the crust, finally deciding to make french bread pizza out of a baguette (it was actually really good, though.) No, not me!


~did not just realize that your car's gas gauge has an arrow that points to what side of the car your gas tank is on. I have, of course, known this all my life. I have not ever rolled down my window to look and see where the gas tank is, depending on the car I'm driving. No, not me!


~did not go shopping at Target and roam around the Halloween candy section for way too much time. I did not pick up a bag of pumpkin spice Hershey's kisses and open the bag in the store, either, nor eat a generous handful of them in place of dinner. I would never eat anything before I actually paid for it, and I would never replace a meal with candy. No, not me! (P.S. In order not to let the checker think you are a total idiot, be sure to offer him/her a candy from the open bag. It diffuses the situation immediately.)


~did not see this at a cute boutique and decided I had to have it:


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...and I most definitely have not been intoxicated all week from it. I know how dangerous it would be to have your house smell like chocolate, for crying out loud, and would never bring such an item to my house. I have not had to run to the candy dish for a piece of chocolate while it's burning, either. And, of course, I would never waste money buying candles (even cute ones in tins with Hershey's labels) because I make all my own. No, not me!


~did not just go into Drew's empty room daily for no reason. I am not missing my boy who moved out a month ago to go to college. I am not wishing he would be just a little homesick and just want to come hang out at home. No, not me!


~did not, on this very day 23 years ago, get asked by Rich to be his wife. I did not ever in my wildest dreams, know that would be the best "yes" I ever said. No, not me!


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WDW - Grilled Pizza

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After my sister repeatedly telling me how great grilled pizza is, I finally decided to try it. I picked up a bag of refrigerated pizza dough from TJ's, and asked Emma, who was along with me, what toppings she would like. She said she would like caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, and goat cheese. Did I raise her well, or what? This turned out to be an amazing combination.

So, how easy is this? All I did was roll out the dough (bring to room temp first for easy rolling) on a sheet of parchment paper, brushed it with olive oil and inverted it onto a hot grill, carefully peeling the parchment off. I cooked it on medium for about 3-5 minutes (be sure to watch it -everyone's barbecue is different), then brought it into the house on a wood cutting board - grilled side down. I brushed the non-cooked side with some more olive oil, then turned it over. Emma had prepared the toppings, so she just spread them out and added the cheeses (we also used a bit of Fontina). We didn't even use a pizza sauce; we just brushed a little more olive oil on the crust before putting the toppings on. I returned the pizza to the grill and cooked it about 3-5 minutes more and it was done.

I cannot tell you how good it turned out! The crust was almost smokey, had beautiful char marks, and was perfectly cooked. It looked so rustic, too (it was hard to roll it out perfectly round). I put it on the table on a wood cutting board and the three of us DEVOURED the whole thing (I know, so sad - Drew's not here. But Emma did note that we would not have gotten away with these toppings with Drew around!). This would be a great appetizer too - just cut into bite-sized pieces. This pizza is on the menu again this week, since we've all been craving it ever since our last bite.


I used to make homemade pizza dough in my bread machine and we used to eat pizza every Friday night- but alas the poor over-used machine died many years ago. Trader Joe's pizza dough is so cheap and easy (and freezes well), so I haven't really bothered to make my own since. They make plain and wheat - pick some up and try this soon!

And before I let you go....I can't resist showing you my new little gadget! I have needed another whisk for some time, and when I saw this one in Bon Appetit magazine, I fell in love! Isn't it great? It's from Kuhn Rikon and is made of silicone. Love it!

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Whatever - Sirus Satellite Radio

Here's a little whatever post about Sirius Satellite Radio...

It all began when we received a year of free Sirius radio with the purchase of my car two years ago. We renewed it the second year, but this year's renewal offer in the mail was $180 for a year, so we decided to ditch it.

So, I called Sirius to cancel my service. The lady asked me why, to which I simply replied that we just didn't want to spend that much money for Satellite radio. She immediately offered me a significantly lower price, but I still declined (it was almost insulting to know they could go lower but they tried to sucker me first.) So, I canceled.

A few weeks later I got a bill in the mail from Sirius. It was for $80. I thought, wow, that's an even better price than we had been offered on the phone, but we had already made up our mind that we really didn't need it. So, I tossed the offer.

A few weeks later, I got a message on my answering machine from Sirius. It was a reminder to "pay my bill." What bill? Then, I remembered the $80 bill I had tossed in the trash earlier. I decided I had better get to the bottom of this - so I called. They explained the $80 charge - it wasn't an offer for renewal - it was a CANCELATION FEE!

You have GOT to be kidding. So you're telling me it's just slightly more to renew than cancel? And who has ever heard of a 'cancelation' fee? We had no contract to fulfill. Ridiculous!

So, I asked to speak to a manager and politely expressed my disdain over said "cancelation charges." I finally persuaded him to waive the fee and he acted like he did me a BIG favor.

So, I thought it was over.

But the funny thing is, guess who is still getting Sirius radio in their car two months after canceling? That's right. I'm still rockin' to the tunes of the 70's and 80's and hearing the the same 4 songs and "uplifting" messages from the Spirit channel (their cheesy Christian station). They said it would be shut off some time in July, but it's still going and here we are late September.

So, today I got an email from Sirius. It was actually very amusing. The email stated that they "miss us" (how tender- they miss ME, not my money), would like us "back" and offered us 5 months for $19.99! Wow, that's a far cry from $180 a year they tried to stick me with in their first offer! But, here's the question now: Why would I pay for a service that I am getting for free?

Oh, don't worry. I do know it's wrong to be getting a service for free that I should be paying for, so I'll give them a couple more weeks, and if they don't turn my service off, I will have to call Sirius yet again, to try and find someone who knows what they are doing. It won't be easy.

Whatever.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rich's hash and Carpinteria food finds

Well, are you wondering how Rich's homemade corned beef hash turned out? I'll let you decide:


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Oh, yeah baby. OK, in case you can't tell, it was AMAZING. This entire plate was licked clean shortly after this photo was taken.

Way to go, Rich. Looks like you've rightfully earned your own feature here on the blog! I'm mulling over what to name his feature....any ideas?

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We just returned from a glorious week-long vacation in Carpinteria. We camp at Carpinteria State Beach - full hook ups right on the beach- the week of Labor Day every year. The weather is still nice and summery, the crowds are gone and the beach is all ours. It was a little sad that Drew had to miss some of our time due to school (that's reality now), but it gave Emma the opportunity to invite some girl friends to come, which was lots of fun. And not to mention, very crazy.



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I adore these girls! Deborah and Kaitlyn are like my extra daughters.

Carpinteria is an adorable little town with many food finds. First of all, every Thursday afternoon, they have a delightful Farmer's market. I eagerly biked into town with a big shopping bag, and took home (well, back to the trailer) fresh organic salad greens, raw organic white cheddar, sweet white corn, a great artisnal olive oil, juicy, sweet Oxnard strawberries and some nice pistachios. Score!

For other food finds, on Linden Avenue, there is "the Spot" which is a great local fave for burgers and onion rings, the "beach liquor" store, which has a kitchen in the back cranking out fresh mexican specialties (we like the fresh cheese taquitos) and the Worker Bee restaurant for breakfast. It is the most homey place and the portions are huge! They have the BEST cinnamon rolls and the BEST hashed browns on the planet. (You may be wondering how I can know such a thing. I just do- trust me on this one). It's also good to pay a visit to Robataille's candy store - they make the most scrumptious dark chocolate honeycomb on earth!


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This year we added a new fave to the list. We had read about this guy, who has had a hot dog stand called Surf Dog right off the freeway for years. We had been wanting to stop and check it out for some time. So, this year we did. We even took our dogs to Surf Dog. They thought it was pretty awesome (maybe because the owner gave them each a free giant turkey dog!). I had a Polish dog with the works - homemade chili, grilled onions and sauerkraut, brown mustard, and chopped white onion. It was divine. I am not a big hot dog fan (more of a mental thing rather than a taste thing), but this was so good, definitely one of the best hot dogs I've ever had. The owner, Bill is so nice and friendly, he makes you want to come just to see him. It's so cute when you place your order (he has about 6 different types of dogs) - he always says very enthusiastically "good choice!" or "you're going to like this!" He loves his job, which is great and makes visiting Surf Dog memorable.


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Don't my dogs (my real dogs in the background) look happy?

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Surf Dog
{corner of 101 freeway and Bailard Avenue, Carpinteria}


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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WDW - "Like Starbucks" Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

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I wasn't in the mood for fall at all - until I found this recipe. Now, bring it on! I'm ready for cooler weather, afternoon breezes, lattes and these scrumptious spicy delights.

"Like Starbucks" Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

1 (8 oz) package block-style cream cheese
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups extra light olive oil
1 can (15 ½ oz) pumpkin
3 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. nutmeg
1 ½ tsp. cloves
Dash cardamom (optional)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the entire brick of cream cheese on a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Shape into a 10” long log. Place in freezer.

In KitchenAid, beat eggs with sugar. Add oil and pumpkin and beat well. Add flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Beat on low just till combined.

Divide batter between 24 greased muffin cups.

Remove cream cheese from freezer. Unwrap and cut into 24 disks.
Press each disk firmly into the center of pumpkin batter. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until done. If necessary, with the back side of a spoon, press the cream cheese disk lightly into the muffin.


And, I think I also need these to make it feel like fall:
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I must have some reason to make them....

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WDW - Gazpacho

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Cold soup is weird. I mean, I could possibly handle a cold fruit soup (I've never tried one), but a cold tomato soup? No, thanks.

That's how I felt until I tasted my Dad's Gazpacho. Now I'm a believer. Gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup, with a tomato base, with other vegetables added in. Let me tell you, even if you don't think you will like this, you might! Even my sister, who doesn't like tomatoes, gobbled up a bowl of it at my house last week.

It is so easy and fast to make, I've been whipping up a couple batches a week as of late. It's a great way to use up those late summer tomatoes that are still coming off the vine. And, this soup is so light, nutritious, and refreshing, I can't think of a better lunch right now. I top my bowl of Gazpacho with 1/2 diced avocado and fresh chopped cilantro. Mmm.

And, the best thing is...you can get everything you need at Trader Joe's! Gotta love that.

Gazpacho

4 medium tomatoes
1 box Meditteranean cucumbers, peeled and seeded (or 1 large regular cucumber)
1 red bell pepper
3 large cloves garlic. minced
½ red onion (I used Vidalia)
3 cups TJ's Garden Patch juice (or tomato juice)
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh pepper

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, opt.
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp. vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

In blender container, add the following:


2 of the tomatoes, quartered
1/2 of the cucumbers, cubed
1/2 the bell pepper, roughly chopped
the minced garlic
the onion, roughly chopped
1 cup of the Garden Patch juice

Puree and pour into a medium bowl. Chop the remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper into very finel dice and add to bowl. Add in remaining 2 cups juice, salt, pepper, cayenne (if using), olive oil, lime juice, and vinegar. Stir until well combined. Chill before serving.

Best made the day before.
Garnish with diced avocado and fresh chopped cilantro, if desired.


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Thursday, September 3, 2009

I am not the only culinary geek in the family

You know the saying "behind every great man is a woman"? Well, it could also possibly be said, "behind every food-blogging wife is a food-loving husband." I want everyone to know that my husband is more than that, though. He could probably have his own food blog, if he had time. And if I showed him how to use blogger...

Let it be known that Rich is usually the one toting the camera and photographing food wherever we go. Yes, it is embarrassing. I feel like saying "just take the picture so I can eat!" and "just take the picture so everyone will stop staring at me!" He completely ignores me, posing the food the way he wants it and taking his sweet time doing it.

And, he is the chief food-finder, as well. Just look at his latest find, right in lovely Panorama City near church:

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And guess who got to go on a 'hot' date here recently after church?

What can I say? My man LOVES Philly Cheese Steak. Look how happy he is to find a decent one west of Philadelphia. I think it's really geeky cute how he tucks his tie into his shirt when he eats.

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I have to admit, that was one fine sandwich.

He also cooks at home. Here's his recent attempt at his own Tommy burger. He did cheat and use Tommy's chili (did you know you can buy it?) but I think this looks pretty authentic. And, it tasted authentic too. I took my one obligatory bite. I am very cautious of Tommy's chili.

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And, are you ready for the latest? One night, while watching our favorite TV show, Diners, Drive- ins, and Dives, he cheerfully announced: "I'm going to start making breakfast every Sunday morning!" I said, rock on! So, it began last Sunday with a ham, white cheddar, and egg scramble, along with homemade hash browns (the grated kind). It was, like, amazing. He told me from now on, all I need to do is show up at the table at 7:15 , sit down and eat, and then go get ready for church! He did it all - including clean-up. He even scolded me for wiping off the table! I can't tell you how much I wish he had thought of this when I had three toddlers to get ready for church appreciated his efforts!

One of both our favorite breakfast dishes is corned beef hash. Boy, do they show that a lot on triple D. We are usually both left drooling on the sofa at 9:00 p.m. as we watch Guy Fieri eat amazing-looking homemade hash. It's no less than torture, really. Well, no more. Rich is making us corned beef hash from scratch this coming Sunday. He even requested that I buy red potatoes for it - quite the little connoiseur, I tell you. Sorry my russets weren't good enough!

So how many out there vote for a feature on my blog such as "Rich's killer Sunday morning breakfasts"?

Hmmm.

I better get the camera.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WDW - Pulled Pork Sandwiches and sides

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Ever wonder what to serve company for lunch right after church on Sunday? I mean, you walk in the door just about the same time as your company does, and everyone is hungry! If you have the time on Saturday, you can prepare this delicious meal all in advance, and Sunday will be a breeze.

We had company last Sunday, and with the weather being in the 100's right now, and the fire smoke everywhere, I knew barbecuing would not be preferable. After all, I didn't want to sit down to my meal dripping in sweat. So, I thought it best to utilize my trusty old crock pot. This recipe for pulled pork sandwiches is so easy and always so well-received, so I decided this would be the ticket for our meal. All I do is slow cook pork shoulder or pork butt (could they please call it something else?) with a very simple sauce for about 8 hours. I pull (basically shred) the pork, return it to the sauce, and refrigerate it overnight. When I leave for church, I simply put the crock pot on low, and let it simmer until we get home. All I need to do is put out some rolls, and let guests build their own sandwiches. I serve these with my delicious Barbecue Table Mop (recipe follows), and sometimes some thinly sliced onion.

A great accompaniement to these yummy sandwiches is a good homemade potato salad or coleslaw. I hadn't made my mother-in-law's famous potato salad in awhile, so I decided on that. If I hadn't had the time, I would have made coleslaw - much faster and an equally great side for these sandwiches. Potato salad is one of those labor intensive things, but the payoff is being able to make it in advance and just bring the bowl right to the table and serve. No tossing or anything - it's ready to roll. And, mmm this one is good.

Can I just say I despise ALL potato salads except this one (and my sister's -which is pretty similar). You could not pay me to eat store bought potato salad. It is pretty much the grossest thing on earth. Well, on second thought, maybe macaroni salad is the grossest thing on earth. I just shudder thinking about having to eat either one. That would be like a really, really bad dream.

So....a bit about my mother-in-law, Dottie's potato salad. It is legendary in Rich's family. No Honeybaked ham ever made an appearance on her table without it. It's actually very similar to my grandma's potato salad, which she actually taught me personally how to make over 25 years ago. I used to always make Grandma's until I tasted Dottie's. The two potato salads are just about the same except for a few minor differences. Dottie's calls for radishes and fresh parsley and Grandma's does not. Grandma used to throw in a little vinegar and sugar to hers, which I can't figure out what for, so I omit them. Dottie also used real chopped sweet pickle, while grandma just used prepared pickle relish. I have to say, I like Dottie's more. No offense, Grandma. But just know that no one can touch Grandma's noodle kugel, kasha, chopped liver, or chili. NO one.

Incidentally, my grandma never ate a single bite of her own wonderful potato salad. That is because she hated mayonnaise! And butter. And oil. I know, weird. Really weird. I mean, those fats are my 5th food group! She ate her green salad and her toast DRY. Can you imagine?

Even though potato salad is labor intensive, it actually is really easy - the secret is cooking the potatoes right. I slow simmer them with the skins ON. It takes almost an hour and you have to watch them. As soon as the skins start to crack they are ready. Just cool the potatoes enough to handle them, peel them with a peeler, and dice. I like to mix my salad warm - it seems to incorporate the mayo better.

And, speaking of the mayo - here it comes. This is where I admonish you about not using Best Foods mayonnaise. Listen, you really have to use Best Foods brand mayonnaise for this. I have discussed this before and it's really the bottom line. If you choose to make this with another brand, don't blame me. And for that matter, you better not even call it Dottie's potato salad. Because it's NOT.

Round this meal out with some watermelon and chips - and ice cream for dessert! It's a winner. Enjoy.

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Pulled Pork Sandwiches

2 ½ - 3 lbs. pork shoulder or pork butt
¾ cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine or cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp. liquid smoke, optional
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Sandwich rolls

Place roast inside crock pot. Combine all remaining ingredients (except rolls)and pour over meat.Cook on low heat for 8-9 hours. Shred meat (discarding fat and bones) and return to sauce. Serve on sandwich rolls with Barbecue Table Mop.

You can easily double this recipe. The cooking time might need to be lengthened.

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Barbecue Table Mop

1 cup hickory flavored bottled barbecue sauce
¾ cup ketchup
1/3 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes about 2 cups sauce.

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Dottie's Potato Salad

8 medium russet potatoes, slow simmered until cooked, peeled and cubed
½ bunch green onions, chopped (white and green part)
½ bunch chopped fresh parsley
4 ribs of celery, chopped
2-3 sweet pickles, chopped
6 radishes, chopped
6 hard boiled eggs
Best Foods mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

In an extra large bowl, combine potatoes, green onions, parsley, celery, pickles, radishes, and 4 of the hard boiled eggs (chop). Add mayonnaise to taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl. Slice remaining hard boiled eggs and place on top. Sprinkle with paprika. Chill well before serving.Serves 8-10

And just because I'm so nice, here's my coleslaw recipe too:

Coleslaw

Salad:
½ head green cabbage, chopped
½ head purple cabbage, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup green onion, chopped, optional
1 red bell pepper, diced or sliced, optional


handful of fresh cilantro, chopped, optional



Dressing:
1 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. celery seed
½ tsp. cayenne pepper, optional

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing just before serving.




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