Spicy Deviled Eggs

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One of my favorite things to take to a party is deviled eggs.  They are very simple to make and everyone loves them.  My spicy version are always a hit at a party.  With New Years Eve only a week away I thought I would share them.

Ingredients to make 14 deviled eggs:
 
7 hard boiled eggs peeled
4  tablespoons of mayonaise
2 teaspoons of spicy mustard
1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar
salt/pepper
paparika
a dash of hot sauce (optional)
 
Directions:
 
Boil eggs for 12 minutes.   Remove the eggs and shock them by putting in a mixing bowl filled with ice and water.  This will make them easier to peel.  After the eggs have cooled peel them and cut in half.  Remove the yolk and put in seperate mixing bowl.  Mash the yolk with a fork until mashed.   Add mayonaise, spicy mustard, vinegar, salt/pepper and hot sauce (optional).  After you mixed it all up take a spoon and fill the inside of each egg.  Sprinkle with paparika and you have a treat that will be a hit at any party. 
 
 
 

My Specialty, Beef Brisket

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It’s Christmas Eve and my best friends are having their Christmas Eve party.  I am cooking up 2 beef briskets for the party.  Here is how I do my briskets.  The most important thing when it comes to having an outstanding brisket starts with the quality of the meat.  It is absolutely necessary to use an untrimmed, Prime Grade beef brisket.  The thickness of the fat varies but ultimately you want it to be about 1/4 of an inch thick.  When preparing the brisket I start the night before.   Rub the brisket down with olive oil.  Massage the oil into every portion of the meat including the fat so that it covers the brisket.  Then take lots of kosher salt and sprinkle all over the brisket.   Next take your rub and massage all over the brisket.  There are many rubs out there but my choice is one made by Stubs.   Wrap the brisket tightly in foil and place it in the refridgerator overnight.  Now the next very important step is to prepare your smoker.  With there being many types of smokers the one thing that is the same and must be done is to get your temperature set at approximately 225 degrees.  Once you have your temperature set you place the brisket in the smoker fat side up.  You never flip the brisket, it needs to stay fat side up the entire time.   The total cooking time will vary based on the size of your brisket but approximately 10 to 12 hours is how long I find it takes to be done with the best texture and tendernous.  During the cooking time I actually use wood chips for only about an hour.  If you smoke with chips too much the brisket will be over smoked.   Take the chips of your choice, soak them in water and place them in the smoker for about 1 hour.  This will give it a perfect smoke ring.  The last step is very important which is the resting.  I wrap the brisket in foil for the last hour of cooking.  Then remove the brisket and let it sit in the foil for at least an hour before slicing.   Always slice the brisket against the grain. Doing this  will make the cuts of meet very tender.  To do this, remove some fat from the top of the brisket to see the direction of the grain in the meat and slice against it.  Merry Christmas and Cheers !!

Seafood And Sausage Marinara

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Here in December with Christmas closing a great family meal to have is seafood and sausage marinara.  It is easy to prepare and combines great shell fish, sausage, and pasta.  Served with a side salad you have a meal that will put a smile on your family’s face.

Ingredients:
 
1 lbs of shrimp peeled and devined
1/2 pound of sea scallops cut into bite size pieces
1 lb a little neck clams
5 links of sweet italian sausage
2 tbs of butter
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of parmesan cheese
1 box of pasta of choice, I use regular spaghetti but any kind will do.  Linguini, Angel Hair for example would be wonderful.
The marinara sauce of your choice.  I used Alessio’s sauce because it’s thick, rich and wonderful and has no preservatives
 
Directions:
 
In sauce pan heat up the marinara sauce.  In large pot bring water and olive oil to a boil.  While your sauce and water is heating up get a large pan, melt butter and garlic.  In saute pan cook sausage evenly.  You can cut the sausage into bite size pieces if you want.  Place the clams in a pan, add butter, garlic  and a little water and cover.  The clams will open up after about 5 to 10 minutes.  Once they open remove and keep warm.  Now add the scallops in their juice and cook the scallops, this will take about five minutes.  Remove scallops and keep warm.  Now in the juice left saute the shrimp until cooked, approximately 3 minutes, they don’t take long.  Now it’s time to put this masterpiece together:  Take each plate and spread pasta, place clams around the edge in shell.  Place shrimp scallops and sausage on top of the pasta. Now spread some marinara sauce over the top.  Take your can of parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top.  You have now accomplished an outstanding meal as well as a great presentation.  Break out a bottle of red wine and you are in pasta heaven, cheers !! 

Fresh Salmon Filet Maryland Style

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Here in Maryland there are so many different fish recipes but with a fresh piece of wild caught sockeyed salmon there in only one way to fix it.  That is to use our signature seasoning old bay.  Add some fresh lemon juice and herbs and there is nothing like it, give it a try.

Ingredients:

1 lb or fresh sockeyed salmon fillet. 
2 tbs old bay
1/4 stick of butter
2 cloves of fresh garlic crushed
2 tbs of lemon juice from fresh lemons
1 tbs basil
 
Directions:
 
Melt butter, garlic, old bay and lemon juice together.  Pour over salmon and let sit approximately 15 minutes.  Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place in oven and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  Please note the thickness of your fillet will alter the baking time  but bake until golden brown and the thickest part of the fillet easily flakes. 
 

Roasted Red Potatoes Maryland Style

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Anytime is a great time to fix anything Maryland style.  What I mean by that is to use the signature seasoning of the state of Maryland …  Old Bay !!  Old Bay is intended to be used when cooking our world famous blue crab but over decades the seasoning has been transformed into being used on just about anything that is a seafood, meat, or vegetable.  Here is a quick and simple way to turn the simple side dish of roasted potatoes into Maryland Style.

Ingredients:
 
2 lb of red potatoes cubed
2 carrots chopped into bite size pieces
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs olive oil
4 tbs old bay seasoning
1 freezer bag
 
Directions:
 
Take potatoes and carrots and put them in a freezer bag.  In small bowl mix together old bay, garlic, and olive oil.  It should form a soft paste.  Pour into freezer bag with potatoes and carrots.  Shake and mix real good.  Dump contents on to a baking sheet.  Place into a pre heated oven at 350 degrees.  Bake until soft, approximately 20 to 30 minutes. 

Christmas Rum Cake !!

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This recipe is so special because back when we were in the US Army Band we always had a Christmas party.  Everyone was to bring something to contribute to the food and after 3 years went by a trombone player named Bruce Alpern became famous for bringing rum cake to the party.  We have been out of the Army Band since 1992 but Bruce’s rum cake remains a tradition in our home at Christmas.   I am not big on deserts and rarely ever eat them but this cake is to die for.  Sprinkle some powdered sugar right before serving.

Bruce Alpern

This is Bruce serving in Afghanistan

Ingredients:
 
Cake:
 
1 box of Duncan Hines yellow cake mix without pudding
1 box of instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of dark rum
4 eggs beaten
1/2 cup of water
Pam
 
Sauce:
 
1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of rum
1/4 cup of water
 
Directions:
 
Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray bundt pan well with pam.  Combine all cake ingredients into mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes.  Pour into pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  You test with a tooth pick and when it pulls out clean it is done. 
 
For the sauce melt butter in sauce pan, combine the sugar, rum, and water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes (so that it is ready when the cake is done).  Poke some holes in the cake so some sauce goes inside the cake.  Slowly pour the sauce over the cake when it comes out of the oven.  Cool the cake  for approximately 2 hours before taking it out of the pan.   This is the ultimate Christmas desert, Merry Christmas from our home to yours !!

My Version Of Italian Wedding Soup

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There are days when it’s so cold outside that you feel like you might not make it from the car to your front door without obtaining a bit of frostbite.  These are the days that soup feels entirely perfect and comforting for dinner.  But can soup be considered a main dish?  When soup is placed on the table and my son and wife ask, “What’s for dinner?”  My response is, … some soups are meant to be main dishes.  This is one of them.”  And it is!  This soup is full of meatballs, pasta and vegetables.

Meatballs:
 
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 egg beaten
4 cloves of garlic minced
2/3 cup of fresh bread crumbs
3 tbs of milk
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
a dash of salt and pepper
 
Soup:
 
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1 cup diced carrots (about 3 medium)
1 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks)
10 cups chicken broth
1 32 oz of crushed tomatoes
1 cup small pasta (I use ditalini pasta)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1 frozed bag of spinach or kale (either works well)
extra Parmesan cheese, for serving
 
Directions:
 
Prepare the meatballs:  Place ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. 
 
Prepare the soup:  Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large stock pot. Add onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add pasta to the simmering broth and cook an additional 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in spinach and cook for 1 minute, until spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

Philly Steak And Cheese

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I’ve been to Philadelphia many times and have had the pleasure of having cheese steaks from the most famous places Pat’s, Geno’s, Talk Of The Town.  Another outstanding cheese steak can be found in Atlantic City at The White House.  The big debate is what kind of cheese to use. Provolone, American, or Wiz.  My version of this classic is wiz.  The toppings which consist of fried onions, peppers, and mushrooms is strictly what you prefer.  The secret to making the best cheese steak is the steak you use and the quality of the roll.  I don’t use minute steaks or a mass produced hoagie roll.  You need to use fresh shaved rib eye and a fresh italian or french roll.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb of shaved rib eye
1 fresh italian or french hoagie roll
caramelized onions
sauteed green peppers
sauteed mushrooms
3 tbs of cheese wiz
olive oil
salt and pepper
 
Directions:
 
In large pan or griddle saute onions until caramelized, if desired add peppers and mushrooms and saute until soft.  Remove toppings and set aside.  Place steak in pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook.  While steak is cooking take the spatchula and chop the meat into small pieces.  Once the meat appears close to being done (approximately 1 minute) add the wiz on top of the meat.  When the wiz looks close to melting add the toppings and mix all the ingredients together.  You can heat the roll in the microwave for about 20 seconds.   When all is ready place the steak mixture on the roll and you now have an authentic Philly Steak And Cheese. 

Award Winning Spicy Dark Chili

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This is the recipe I entered into a chili competition in Waynesboro PA.  It won the people’s choice award.   For the competition I used pinto beans.  I call this dark chili because most of the key ingredients are dark in color like dark beer and brown sugar.  When tasting this recipe you should notice that it is hot clashing with sweet.  Please take note that when I make chili I don’t measure out ingredients.  You put the spices in to your liking.  The measurements given are approximate and you can use any kind of peppers you want.

Ingredients:
 
2 lb chuck roast fat trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 lb of ground beef
5 links of chorizo sausage squeezed from casings and crumbled into small pieces
1 medium onion chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper chopped
4 habanero peppers chopped
2 poblano chili peppers chopped
6 jimmy nardello chili peppers
2 12 oz bottles of dark beer (guiness works great)
2 8 oz cans of tomato paste
1/4 cup of dark chili powder
1/8 cup of red paprika
1/8 cup of ground cumin
4 tbs oregano
4 tbs of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup of brown sugar
3 cans of beans  (optional)
 
Directions:
 
In large soup pot add all the meat, peppers and onion.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes until meat is cooked and vegetables are soft.  Add the 2 bottles of dark beer and continue to simmer for apporximately 10 minutes.  Now add the 2 cans of tomato paste, spices, and brown sugar.  Let simmer for at least 1 hour.  If you like beans in your chili add them before serving. 
 
 
 

My Broccoli and Hash Brown Au Gratin

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There are days when you come home from work and you need to make something good out of the things you have in your refrigerator.  Today was one of those days and after taking inventory of what I had in my refregirator I came up with this.  A broccoli and hash brown au gratin.

Ingredients:
 
1 large head of fresh broccoli trimmed and cut into pieces
1 stick of butter
1/2 half of a medium onion diced
1/4 cup of flour
3 cups of milk
8 oz shredded hash browns
2 tablespoons  salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsb ground thyme
1/4 tsb oregano
1/4 tsb garlic powder
1/4 tsb onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
 
Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add the broccoli and cook until tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold water and drain well.  In a large pan, melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Cook the onions until soft.  Stir in the flour until thickened into roux, about 4 minutes.  Add  salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, garli powder, onion powder, and red pepper until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Bring to a simmer and add the cheese until the cheese is melted. Remove from the heat.  Place broccoli into casserole dish, pour cheese sauce into broccoli and mix well together.  Sprinkle hash browns over the top.  Place in oven and bake until golden brown.