Chicken Cordon Bleu

Sunday Dinner – 28 October 2018

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This week we tried our hand at an updated version of Chicken Cordon Bleu.

I used the RecipeTin Eats instructions, and they turned out beautiful. These cuts were a little large, so they took some additional time in the oven. Otherwise, I followed the “super easy method” to the letter. The mustard sauce was especially good.

Claudia made mashed potatoes and salad for sides, and I baked a green bean casserole. Wine was a Coloma Zinfandel.

Spicy Artichoke Alfredo

Sunday Dinner – 21 October 2018

Spicy Artichoke Alfredo

Claudia made one of our favorite dishes for Sunday Dinner this week.

Aunt Pat is back with us from her trip out west, and we also were happy to have our son, James, visiting this weekend. Claudia made Fettuccini Alfredo, with marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, tomatoes and chilis. It’s been a family favorite for years. She also cooked broccoli with garlic butter, and made a beautiful green salad.

We started with some antipasti (cheeses, salami, olives, etc.). The wine was Jacqueline Bahue’s delicious Sauvignon Blanc. Aunt Pat provided dessert, a lovely lemon pie from Baker’s Square.

Recipe for the pasta dish to come, if I can talk Claudia into it. :)

Turning Another Bird

Sunday Dinner – 14 October 2018

Rotisserie Cooking

We roasted another chicken on the Weber Kettle rotisserie this week.

This was about a six pound bird. I dry brined it, seasoning with course salt and black pepper Saturday night. Sunday morning I also hit it with garlic powder, onion powder, Herbs de Provence and a little MSG. Hickory chunks added the fire spice. Since it was largish, it took about an hour and a half to get the temp up to 165 °F in the center of the breast. I also par cooked three pounds of potatoes in the microwave for about ten minutes before putting them in the drip pan. There’s really nothing like potatoes that have roasted with chicken drippings.

Claudia made a nice salad and cooked some fresh green beans. We also had radishes and cornichons. The wine was a deliciously bracing Bokisch Andrus Vineyard Albariño from Lodi.

Sunday Dinner Plated

Claudia also baked cupcakes for dessert.


Pork Burgers and Corn Relish

Sunday Dinner – 7 October 2018

Sunday Dinner Plated

Every now and then I get a craving for corn relish. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened last weekend. I looked around the condiments, pickles and salsas in three different grocery stores and wasn’t able to find any. So I decided to make it myself.

Corn Relish

It wasn’t that difficult. The canning jar that I used was big enough for a double batch, so when it was safely in the fridge, it occurred to me that we could have it for a side dish at this week’s Sunday Dinner. Then the question became what to do for a main.

Pork burgers came to mind, and my memory went wandering back to the first time I ever ate them as a child. I can still vividly remember the smell of the charcoal, and that first amazing umami bomb bite. It’s my first memory of charcoal grilled food, and I remember it being the most delicious thing I had ever tasted at the time.

The way I remembered it, my brother-in-law, Berwyn, had grilled them, and he had used a special seasoning from the Illinois Pork Producers Association. This was fifty years or so ago, though, so I wasn’t sure. After researching online to no avail, I fired off an email to my sister, which began “This may sound crazy…”

Turns out that the memory was correct, and that their family still uses the spice to this day. Vicki was able to give me an Amazon link, and even went so far as to contact the Pork Producers to find out if it was the same spice recipe as the one made in the 1960s. They said that it is. It’s made by the folks from Custom Culinary in Oswego, Illinois.

So I was all set to relive the taste this weekend, except that the shipment of the seasoning wouldn’t arrive in time.

I improvised, after looking at the ingredients label, with a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard and MSG. I also seasoned the burgers with salt and pepper. They turned out great. Mrs. Noe said “I like these better than hamburgers.”

Pork Burgers on the Genesis

I also made potatoes with vinegar and salt, which was a hit.

Crispy Vinegar and Salt Potatoes

Claudia made a terrific salad, as usual, and she and our daughter, Caroline, made apple crisp for dessert.

Apple Crisp

Wine was a Columbia Valley Riesling from Aldi’s that was really quite nice.

I still have some of the Custom Culinary seasoning on the way, and am looking forward to trying that before long.

And we’re counting down two more weeks until Aunt Pat joins us at table again. :)

Red Beans and Rice for Sunday Dinner

30 September 2018

Red Beans and Rice

We attended a performance of our local theater company this afternoon, so we wanted to prepare a crockpot meal for Sunday Dinner.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice is one of our favorites, and couldn’t be simpler. I gently sautéed some Cajun Trinity (onions, bell peppers and celery), adding some minced garlic towards the end, then added it to a crock pot with red beans, Worcestershire Sauce, black pepper, a couple of bay leaves, some dried parsley, Tabasco Sauce and liquid smoke.

This turned out delicious, as always. Claudia made a lovely banana cake with chocolate frosting for dessert. In keeping with the Louisiana theme, I had a Sazerac cocktail before dinner, and we opened the last bottle of one of my favorite French wines (a Côtes Catalanes) to drink with the meal.



Ratatouille Casserole

Sunday Dinner – 23 September 2018

ratatouille casserole

Claudia is on a ten day green smoothie cleanse, so I wanted something for this Sunday that wasn’t too incompatible. This dish is mostly baked veggies, so I figured it would fill the bill.

I sautéed some onions and garlic in a cast iron skillet, deglazed with red wine, then added a can of tomato paste, some thyme and S&P. Then, off heat, I made concentric circles of yellow squash, eggplant, orange pepper, zucchini, and red pepper. Once the whole thing was in place, I drizzled olive oil over the top, and sprinkled with the same seasonings.

After about 45 minutes in a 375 oven, and a little grated Asiago, it was ready to serve, along with Penne, salad, and some French Bread with olive oil and HDP.

Ratatouille and Pasta

Grammy brought another nice pie for dessert this week.

Wine was a marvelous Cabernet Franc from Jacqueline Bahue.

We’re missing Aunt Pat during her travels, and look forward to her joining us at table again in a few weeks. I think she would have liked the “Traditional French” music station from Pandora that we had playing during dinner.


Another Long Cook

Sunday Dinner – 16 September 2018

This is the first time we’ve repeated a main course for Sunday Dinner in 2018. We had a six pound Boston Butt in the freezer, and the weather was favorable, so it was hard to resist the long cook.

I was up at around 6:30 AM to set up the Weber Kettle and start the coals. I’d rubbed the pork shoulder Saturday Evening with my usual seasonings, and set up the Kettle as usual with a drip pan full of water between ten unlit briquettes on each side. I added several lit coals and some wood chunks before placing the pork on the grate. After about three hours, I wrapped the pork in foil to get it through the stall, and eventually moved it over to the Genesis Gas Grill to finish. After about six and a half hours total, the internal temp was 203 degrees F. We let it rest for about another hour before shredding.

I’d made pasta salad on Friday evening, and Claudia made a delicious green salad, plus some truly amazing green beans with onions and bacon for sides. The wine was from F. Stephen Millier (a Lodi Shiraz which paired perfectly with the barbecue). Claudia also made brownies for dessert.

We’re missing Aunt Pat while she spends some time with family out west. It was another lovely Sunday with Grammy and Grampy, though. It’s such a blessing to be able to be in their company each week.

Chili con Tres Frijoles

Sunday Dinner – 9 September 2018

This was one of the first things that I learned to cook well, and remains a favorite after decades.

It starts with a sauté of onions and garlic, which goes into the crock with kidney beans, pintos, black beans, diced tomatoes, some picante sauce, cocoa powder, liquid smoke, S&P, a bottle of beer and a package of Chili Man seasoning. Usually I add a couple of dried whole cayennes, but we’ve finally run out of the ones we’d grown and dried years ago. I started this on low at 8 PM Saturday night. This morning I cut up a couple of green peppers to add, checked seasonings, and added a little more ground black pepper and some kosher salt. At the very end, I added a handful of rolled oats.

I used to make cornbread from a Miracle Maize mix, but nowadays I mix it up from scratch – 1 1/4 cups of cornmeal, 3/4 cup of flour, 2 T sugar, 2 t baking powder, and 1 t coarse salt for the dry ingredients, then 1 1/4 cup of milk, 1 egg and half a stick of melted butter for the wet. Half an hour in the oven at 375 does the trick.

We served this with chopped avocado, shredded cheese and sour cream. I put Cholula sauce in my bowl. Grampy always has a little maple syrup on his cornbread on the side. The ladies opted for no wine this week. I opened a bottle of Shiner Bock for me, and a can of Busch NA for Grampy (which seemed to agree with him).

Grammy brought an incredible triple berry pie for dessert.

Triple Berry Pie

We missed Aunt Pat this week as she had other family obligations.

I’m looking forward to chili cheeseburgers for supper one night this week.

Zini al Forno, Salsiccia con Peperoni

Sunday Dinner – 2 September 2018

Baked Ziti

For this Sunday we made Baked Ziti and grilled Italian Sausages with peppers and onions.

I use the Ziti al Forno recipe from the Sopranos Family Cookbook – one of our favorites for years. We also sliced a couple of onions and four bell peppers for the bed underneath the sausages. I put them in an aluminum pan on the grill with olive oil for ten or fifteen minutes, then poured in a bottle of Pinot Noir, and placed the sausages on top. After turning the sausages every five minutes for about half-an-hour, I moved those to the grill grates for a few minutes before bringing the entire pan inside.

Italian Sausages

Claudia and Aunt Pat also prepared a salad, and breaded some zucchini slices with egg wash, bread crumbs and grated cheese that we grilled on the plancha.

Zucchini on the Grill

Everything was delicious. Dessert was a lovely cake that our Cousin Jennifer had brought us earlier this weekend, simply known as “The Cake.”

Farsi Chicken and Grilled Peppers

Sunday Dinner – 26 August 2018

Chicken and Peppers

We’re celebrating Aunt Pat’s birthday this week, so we made barbecue chicken for Sunday Dinner. Last weekend I told her the story of our Farsi Chicken recipe, so Claudia and I decided to go with that. Luckily this time I was vigilant, and didn’t burn it to a crisp.

Claudia made Basmati rice with Garam Masala, and we also grilled some peppers as a side. I made two of our favorite Wisconsin Supper Club appetizers, marinated olives and marinated mushrooms, and also churned up some lemon custard ice cream for dessert. The wine was an exceptional 2010 Côtes du Rhône.

Everything turned out just about right.

Deutsche Senfbraten

Sunday Dinner – 19 August 2018


Still clearing out the freezer, so I decided to make pork roast with mustard gravy this week from a five pound pork loin.

The recipe came from The Daring Gourmet. Essentially, you slather the roast with mustard, brown it in a Dutch Oven, add some aromatics, wine and broth, and cook it at 325 for three hours. When everything comes out, you add a flour and stock slurry and simmer to thicken the gravy.

This is the sort of simple, savory food that my mother would have prepared when I was a child. I don’t remember her ever cooking this particular recipe, but the flavors brought back memories nonetheless.

Grampy’s 80th birthday is coming up in a few days, and he does love his pork, so I figured it would be a fitting dinner this weekend.

Aunt Pat had other family obligations today, so she didn’t join us, but we did have a chance to get together with her and Claudia’s cousins, Dan and Monica (and Monica’s husband, Ron) Saturday evening for a bit.

We served a Columbia Valley Riesling from Aldi’s with the Senfbraten, and I went easy on it because I may have been overserved Saturday night. It rarely happens, but it does happen. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Grammy brought a super delicious cherry pie for dessert.

Pork Chops and Hasselback Bakers

Sunday Dinner -12 August 2018

Pork Chops Hasselback Potaotes

This was a simple, delicious meal. We had some pork chops in the freezer, so I decided to use one of my favorite brines for pork from Vrobel. We were out of Bourbon, so I used dark rum in the brine, and also omitted the glaze.

For the Hasselback Potatoes, we used bakers. I made slits in them 1/8th inch apart, sprayed them with olive oil, and sprinkled with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. They went into a pan on the grill over indirect heat for 30 minutes, then got hit with olive oil again, roasted another 20 minutes, then I put them over direct heat for another 15. I’d put some cloves of garlic in olive oil in the bottom of the pan as well.

The pork chops were on for maybe twenty-five minutes total over direct heat. Claudia cooked some corn that had been put away last year, and made a nice fresh green salad. She also baked a banana cake from scratch earlier in the day for dessert.

Chicken Vesuvio

Chicken Vesuvio

This made a delicious meal, and only took about an hour from start to finish.

Although the traditional steakhouse version uses bone-in thigh quarters or half chickens, I used boneless skinless breasts so I didn’t have to worry about crisping the skin. I cut two 3/4 pound breasts into sixths, seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and browned for five minutes per side in a skillet with some olive oil. I removed the chicken and sautéed the halves of maybe ten small Yukon Gold potatoes cut side down for ten minutes. After removing the potatoes, I added a teaspoon each of oregano and thyme, a little salt, plus two pressed cloves of fresh garlic to the pan, and cooked until they were fragrant (less than a minute). Then I added 3/4 cup of Sauvignon Blanc to deglaze, and a cup or two of chicken broth. Then the chicken and potatoes went back in the pot to simmer for maybe half-an-hour. Finally, I reserved those to a platter, and finished the pan sauce with a little butter and a cup of frozen peas that had been thawed.

The only complaints were that there should have been more peas, and the potatoes were a little unevenly done. Next time I’ll double the peas, and maybe cut the potatoes in fourths instead of halves.

Chicken was done and flavors were perfect, though.

Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Sunday Dinner – 5 August 2018

This week we grilled a bunch of veggies and made sandwiches.

Neither of us can remember precisely when, or why, we started making this particular meal, but we know that it goes back at least a decade to when we were living in Mattoon, Illinois. It’s basically a huge mess of vegetables, grilled in batches and put between bread with cheese and returned to the grill to get gooey.

We included eggplant, Portabello Mushrooms, zucchini, red and orange peppers, red onions and tomato slices. These were all seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Herbs de Provence, and grilled with liberal spritzes of olive oil. Once they were grilled, Claudia and Aunt Pat assembled them with Provolone slices between the halves of three loaves of Italian Bread, and wrapped them in aluminum foil, and then we put them back out on the Weber Genesis to warm through. Datsa Sanguige!

Prepping Sandwiches

We also grilled some halved nectarines for a few minutes, then topped them with Mascarpone, Balsamic Vinegar and honey before taking them out to finish.

Aunt Pat also brought a delicious lemon meringue pie for dessert.

We served a couple of bottles of rosé (once from Lodi and one from France) with the meal. Mrs. Noe and I aren’t huge fanatics for blush wines, but I do like them every now and then in hot weather (which was certainly a feature of this weekend).

Pastrami Time

Sunday Dinner – 29 July 2018

Reuben Sandwich

This week we made a Katz Deli style Pastrami.

Mrs. Noe has been encouraging me to clear out our chest freezer, so I thawed a corned beef brisket and mixed up some Pastrami rub.

  • 4 tablespoons black pepper.
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Brisket Rubbed

Since this recipe requires smoking and steaming, I decided to do the barbecue portion of it on Saturday. I rubbed down the nearly four pound pre-brined brisket and set up the grill for a long cook.

Kettle Set Up

Here’s how the Weber Kettle is set up for water smoking. The drip pan is about 3/4ths full of water. There are ten unlit briquettes, four live coals and two chunks of wood (cherry, in this case) on each side of the pan. One bottom vent is full open. One is completely closed, and the other is about halfway open. The top vent is full open. This creates lots of smoke and keeps the temperature steady at about 225 °F.

After four hours of smoking, the internal temperature of the brisket registered 137 °F. I wrapped it in aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator.

Thinking of sides for the meal, latkes were a natural, but since Claudia’s family is Lithuanian, and I already had a decent recipe, I decided to substitute Kugela. So I cooked 12 ounces of bacon in a foil pan on the Weber Genesis to have it ready. I also saved the grease.

Come Sunday Morning, I placed the brisket on a rack in our Nesco roaster with a couple of bottles of Schlitz in the bottom of the pan, and set it to 250 °F for steaming. The center temperature registered 207 °F in just a couple hours, so I turned the roaster down to keep the cut warm until time to serve.

With the brisket in the roaster, I got busy peeling 5 pounds of red potatoes. I grated those in batches in the food processor, putting them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning brown.

After that I sautéed some grated onions in a bit of the bacon fat, then put the potatoes in a colander and pressed out the water with a plate before adding them to a bowl with the onions and crumbled bacon. Then I beat 6 eggs, and added them to the bowl with 1 can of Milnot, and some salt and pepper. Since the mixture was pretty wet, I added about half a cup of farina and combined it all before pouring into a greased 9 by 13 casserole. I topped it all with the remaining bacon grease. It went into a 400 °F oven for 15 minutes, then I brought the temp down to 350 and baked for another 55 minutes.


Once it was out of the oven, I sliced the Pastrami while Claudia mixed up a Wulff salad (with white wine vinegar in the dressing). She had also baked a cake earlier in the day and put together a nice trifle for dessert.

We made Reubens of the Pastrami, rye bread, sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese and Russian Dressing. Kugela topped with sour cream and Claudia’s delicious salad were the perfect accompaniment. We also opened a bottle of excellent Aussie wine (a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon cuvée called “Road to Nowhere” from 2011).

Dinner Plated

The trifle was incredible. I shook up a round of Pink Squirrels for the ladies too. :)

The part of this meal that had me most nervous was the Kugela, since previous attempts at it had come out a little bland to my taste. Happy to have gotten it right this time.

Pulled Pork and Roastin’ Ears

Sunday Dinner – 22 July 2018

Weber Kettle Smoke
For Sunday Dinner this week, we pulled a Boston Butt out of the deepfreeze and did a long cook.

It was a 5 1/4 pound pork shoulder that we’d gotten on sale some time when Ultra Foods was still in business here. I remembered to get it out of the freezer on Thursday evening so it would be thawed well enough to season on Saturday evening. Here’s my rub recipe.

  • 2 t Black Pepper
  • 2 t Mustard
  • 2 T Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 t Onion Powder
  • 1 t Garlic Powder
  • 1 t Paprika
  • 1 T Kosher Salt

I use this mainly for ribs and pulled pork, but it would also be fine for brisket or other cuts that get rubbed for smoking.

I also made a batch of Wolfe Pit Cole Slaw, and some Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Saturday Night. Here’s the recipe for that.

  • 1 C Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 C Brown Sugar
  • 2 T Ketchup
  • 1 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Worcestershire
  • 1 T Crystal Sauce

Usually with the pulled pork I would cook up a pot of baked beans, and maybe serve some potato salad or macaroni salad alongside. But this week Aunt Pat brought us a baker’s dozen of fresh sweet corn from Hersher, so I saved back some ears for the meal. We generally cook our roastin’ ears on the grill nowadays, but I boiled these up in a big pot with a little salt, the old fashioned way, and they were delicious, smothered in butter. One of the cool things about living in Kankakee County is the incredibly sweet Hersher corn on the cob.

I was up shortly after 5:30 AM on Sunday to get the grill going. I set it up for the long cook as usual, with ten unlit briquettes on each side of a water pan, then adding four lit coals to each side, along with some wood chunks. Hickory and Apple are my choice most of the time for pork. The kettle was smoking steady at 225°F by twenty after six, and ready for the roast. I turned and mopped it every hour for the first four hours, using a spray bottle of coffee, cider vinegar and Maibock. After four hours, it was reading 135°F in the center, so I wrapped it in aluminum foil, moved all of the charcoal to one side of the grill, and added some additional briquettes to get the temperature up a bit. After another two hours, the roast was still only at 165 (and it had begun to rain pretty steadily outside) so I brought it in to finish in a 350°F oven. It took another hour-and-a-half to get up to around 190, which was my target temp for this cook. We let it rest for another half-an-hour before Claudia shredded it with the Kassa Claws.

The sweet corn, slaw and sandwich (on a Kaiser Roll topped with dill chips and Carolina Sauce) made for a pretty plate. Unfortunately, a problem between my camera and computer resulted in the loss of what would have been a nice photo to share. Rest assured that it was all plenty delicious. We also had a couple bags of chips, some Blues Hog Tennessee Red Sauce, and our old standby Sweet Baby Ray’s on hand at the table.

I’ve never been quite satisfied with the slaw recipe, so I think I might try a different one next time. Although this one came out better than previous attempts, it doesn’t match the sweet, creamy goodness of what I remember my mom making when I was a child. Otherwise, this meal was perfect. Wines were Cali Merlots from Intertwine and Karen Birmingham.

The older set played cribbage while Claudia and I took well-deserved, overdue short naps, then we enjoyed a nice banana cream pie that Aunt Pat brought for dessert.

Chicago Deep Dish

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

It’s probably no secret that pizza is one of our family’s favorite foods. Ordering a pizza on Friday night was our routine for literally years when we were first married. Both of my sons worked for a time in our favorite pizza joint where we used to live. We still enjoy a good restaurant pie from time to time, whether thin and crackly crust, thick and chewy or Chicago style deep dish.

We’ve also always made our own pizzas at home, first using store-bought crusts, then eventually making them from scratch. Finding the dough recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day made a huge difference in the quality of our home-made pizzas.

In addition to baking pizza on the grill we love this version of deep dish, and have been making it for the better part of a decade now. It draws on a recipe from Lou Malati’s in Chicago.

I start by prepping a ball of one-quarter of the dough from a batch of the AB5 recipe linked above. My iron skillet gets a liberal spray of olive oil, and then a good dusting of corn meal before the dough is spread out in the bottom. I press it down and out until it comes up the side of the pan about a quarter to half an inch.

Then comes a layer of Provolone slices to cover the bottom. After that, the rest of the toppings go on in repeating layers – shredded spinach, sliced mushrooms, shredded Mozzarella, canned diced tomatoes with herbs and garlic. Then finally it gets topped with some grated Parm or Romano, and maybe a tiny grind of black pepper and some coarse salt. About 30 to 40 minutes in a 425 °F oven, and it’s ready.

We’ve added other ingredients in the past, black olives, sausage, pepperoni or what have you. But this simple combination of spinach, mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes is my favorite. The bright tartness of the tomatoes is a perfect counterpoint to the earthy, savory veggies and cheese. It’s hearty, satisfying and the first bite literally makes my mouth water.

With the dough made ahead of time, this meal is not terribly labor intensive either. I think it took me about fifteen minutes to put together, and then maybe another five to assemble green salads on the side while the pie was cooling after it came out of the oven. Quick and delicious is always welcome on a Friday evening after a long work week.

This is another dish that I’d encourage you to try. It could hardly be simpler to prepare, and I guarantee that it’ll hit the spot. If you’re hesitant to make your own dough from scratch, you shouldn’t be, but you could probably use a boxed dough mix, or even buy a ball or two from your favorite local pizzeria if you’re on good terms with them.

Buon appetito!

Grilled Pizza

Sunday Dinner – 15 July 2018

This week we made pizza for Sunday Dinner. We finally have the process pretty well down.

I made a quick, no cook sauce from two cans of tomato sauce, one can of tomato paste, some oregano, basil, garlic, sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. We followed our usual process otherwise, as described in these earlier posts.

Easy Foolproof Grilled Pizza

How to Make Pizza on the Grill

After I par cooked the crusts, Claudia topped one with three cheese blend, another with veggies and another with fresh basil and mozzarella. Then they went back out to the plancha on the Weber Genesis to finish.

The crust this time was the best yet – a perfect combination of crunchy on the outside with a little dense chew inside.

Sunday Brunch

8 July 2018

This week we enjoyed a lovely Sunday Brunch. Claudia made a ham and asparagus strata and bacon wrapped tots. Mom baked sourdough raisin sweet rolls and Aunt Pat brought a nice fresh berry salad.

Also, Mimosas!

Fourth of July Cookout

We had an old fashioned cookout for Independence Day this year.