Saturday, October 29, 2011

Appetizer - Roasted Chili Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

This one dish is probably my most favorite thing about Halloween. I think of my oldest brother when I make these- a few years ago, we visited them at their home out of state, and we stopped at the store, and the pumpkin truck was there. When one fell off the truck and cracked open, my brother asked the driver for it-- and was given it free of charge. We took the damaged pumpkin back to his home and toasted the seeds.

I came up with this variant of the recipe with the Chili Garlic Cholula that was sent to me. It gives it a nice savory flavor with a touch of garlic. Don't forget to salt them just before roasting; you want them salty!

450 degrees
15 - 20 minutes

Pumpkin seeds from 2 pumpkins
2 tbs Cholula Chili Garlic sauce
2 tbs butter
House seasoning

Separate seeds from pulp and rinse thoroughly in a bowl of water. Strain. Melt butter and chili garlic sauce in microwave. Preheat oven to 450. Pour sauce over strained seeds in a bowl. Give liberal shakes of house seasoning and toss with a spoon coating all seeds. Spread evenly 1 layer thick on a greased cookie sheet. Shake with salt if desired. Bake in the middle rack for 15 to 20 minutes, camping next to the oven. If seeds start to explode before time then they are done. Serve in a bowl or in soup.

5 stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Video - Bread Raising (Time Lapse)

One of my other hobbies is photography, and I've been making a "DIY Intervalometer" which is a device that triggers a camera to take a photo at regular intervals. Today we went to my in-laws for dinner, so I packed up my bread making supplies and my photo rig and shot this video. About half way through, the camera decided to zoom out, so pardon that change. This is about 2 hours of raise time in about 9 seconds.

Click here for recipe!

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dutch Oven - Baked Pasta with Meat Sauce

Baked pastas are really good, because they infuse the pasta with the flavors of the sauce, and the starches help thicken the sauce. However, they are tricky to do, because you'll either end up with dried uncooked pasta (not enough water) or soup (too much water). With the former, you can only go get takeout, but with the latter, you can add a thickening agent to the pasta to help bring it thicker. Tonight we ended up with soup, so I added the shredded Mozzarella and breadcrumbs, and it thickened the pasta to perfection. I noted that it reminded me of lasagne, so everything turned out great!

12" Dutch oven
400 Degrees
40 minutes
6 Servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 pinch sage
  • 1 pinch oregano
  • 1 pinch basil
  • 1 package egg noodles
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup yellow pear tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 6 cups water
Brown sausage and beef with garlic and spices. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Ensure that all pasta is below the liquid. Bake for 30 minutes then add:

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Serve immediately with cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, and shredded hard white artisan cheese like Asiago or Parmesan.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dutch Oven - Artisan Wheat Bread

For the last little while, I have plateaued in my cooking. I have been playing it safe, not trying too many new things, and just cooking what is comfortable. I decided today that I was going to break the box I've been living in and bake a successful artisan bread. I did tons of research on the web, mostly from my friend Mark's website. Most of his breads required at least 24 hours, so I went back to my bread boot camp and adapted an existing recipe. I really wanted to create a "basic" bread, with no enrichments, just water, yeast, flour, and salt. I had read that adding a vitamin C tablet will aid in the raise, so I added that to the activating yeast. All in all, it turned out excellent. If I did it again, I would double the recipe to create a larger loaf. A big success was using the parchment paper to add the loaf to the pan. This prevented misshaping the loaf and losing the gasses that produce the pillowy crumb. For now, this is going to be my new "go-to" consistency to spring off from. Take the basic recipe below and add enrichments as necessary.

12" Dutch oven
350 Degrees
30 minutes
4 Servings


  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 vitamin C tablet, crushed

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Activate the yeast by combining warm water and yeast. Add crushed vitamin C tablet to aid in raise, if desired. (Yeast organisms thrive on vitamin C) Combine dry ingredients and activated yeast water in a large glass or plastic bowl. Combine with a non-metal spoon, as metal kills yeast organisms. Flour a table or counter and transfer the dough to the table and begin kneading. Knead until the dough passes the "windowpane test", where if you stretch a thin piece of dough into a window, it spreads into a translucent film instead of tearing. Form the dough in to a boule (ball) by pulling the top tight and tucking it underneath. Roll in flour and cut 3 slices 1/4" deep across the top of the boule. Place on a large piece of parchment paper, and let raise for 1 hour. Preheat a 12" dutch oven and using the parchment paper, transfer the boule to the hot oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. Remove from heat, including top heat, replace the lid and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and do not cut until the crust has completely cooled.

5+ Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

*Whole wheat flour can be purchased at the store, but the best flours come by grinding your own wheat. Don't use old wheat or old flour, it won't provide the same results as new.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Appetizer - Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

We made this appetizer with intentions to take it to my cousin's son's first birthday. Our kids ended up being ill that day and I didn't want to spread any germs, so we stayed at home and ate it while watching a movie. This is a great addition to any party, and next time, I'm going to double the recipe.


10" Dutch oven
350 degrees
30 minutes

2 cups mayonnaise
1 jar artichoke hearts, chopped including liquid
1/2 package frozen spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
ground pepper
1 cup asiago or parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of cheese. Smooth into the bottom of the Dutch oven and top with remaining cheese. Bake with more heat on the top for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and gooey. Serve warm with crackers, vegetable slices or corn chips.

4 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Apples & Oranges - A New Dutch Oven Challenge

My buddy Mark sent me a comment about a new Dutch Oven Challenge that he is hosting on Mark's Black Pot. Below you'll find the details from his challenge quoted from his site:

"“You can’t compare apples to oranges!”  So the saying goes.

Well, in this dutch oven challenge, we won’t compare.  Instead, we will combine.

I got to thinking about these two fruits, and how much I love the luscious flavors of each one.  I started thinking how much I love to combine savory meats and sweet flavors together onto the same dish.  So, here’s the challenge, open to any dutch oven chef:

Prepare a dish using the following ingredients:

  • Apples (in any form)
  • Oranges (in any form)
  • Any meat (some kind of meat must be included)
  • Mint (in any form)
  • Other ingredients, spices, and seasonings as you see fit.

The dish should be as original as possible.  Go to the ‘net for ideas, if you wish, but try and make it your own.

When completed, publish your finished dish (preferably with pictures) here in the IDOS forums, or at your own blog or website.  Then come back here and put in a comment with a link!

Let’s see what we can come up with!-Mark Hansen,
I'll be throwing my hat into the ring on this one in the next few weeks.  I don't want to spoil it, but I'm thinking smoking apples in applewood might be pretty meta...

These challenges really make you grow as a chef. They force you out of your comfort zone and make you try things you never would have. When I do these, I also try to incorporate a style of cooking that I am not very familiar with. I challenge everyone to participate in these events and if you don't have a blog, send me some photos and a few comments and I'll post it up here as a guest contribution with full credit.

If you have a cooking blog, please post this up with links back to Mark's Black Pot so we can spread the word about this challenge.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!