A Reuben for the Handyman


By Katherine

Another house project is underway so I’ve taken over most of the day-to-day cooking as Greg solders pipes, hangs drywall and breaks out power tools. Yes, I’m also helping with the project. So far I’ve stripped wallpaper, removed popcorn ceiling, painted and primed. I also spent an uncomfortable spell in our crawl space. Greg is the skilled laborer though and it’s best if I stay out of his way when he doesn’t need me. As our readers know, he cooks more than me in general except when we have a project underway. Lately, I’ve been sticking to comfort foods that make lots of leftovers: red beans and rice, mac and cheese (I added broccoli to make it healthy) and some hearty soups. I pulled out all the stops for Greg’s birthday, but for the most part favor meals that can be made ahead — his breaks don’t stick to a schedule — or left on the stove in the event I’m sent on a Home Depot run. Making a Reuben was perfect because it’s one of his favorites. Plus I could make the sauce in the morning and put the sandwich together in a hurry.


For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced dill pickle, plus 1 tbsp pickle juice
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup diced bell pepper
  • salt/pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together for dressing and refrigerate until ready to use. Assemble sandwich by spreading dressing on the top side of one slice of bread. Layer desired amount of pastrami, sauerkraut and a layer of Swiss. Drizzle more dressing along the top and place remaining piece of rye on top. You can grill your Reuben if you wish, but I toasted my bread and popped the sandwich under the broiler until the cheese was melted.

Posted in Food, Pork, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Red wine Braised Ham

Don't buy a cheap ham

Don’t buy a cheap ham

The sauce is the star for this simple dish.

Ham Braised in Red Wine

  • 5-6 lb smoked ham fat trimmed off
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion halved and sliced thin
  • 1 tomato diced fine
  • 1 whole clove crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour

In a pan large enough to hold the ham, arrange onion and tomato evenly on the bottom. Sprinkle with clove and then pour in one cup each of wine and all of the stock. Add bay leaf and place ham on top. Place in an oven at 350 degrees and roast until ham is done, basting with juices every 15 minutes. Remove ham to a cutting board and strain liquid into a bowl and discard solids. Heat butter and flour in the roasting dish until dark golden brown then add pan liquid and remaining cup of wine. Bring to a boil and then simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Serve sauce over ham slices.

Posted in Dinner, Food, Pork, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Weekend or Weeknight Chicken and Trying Out a New Coop

Just a little spicy

Just a little spicy

This recipe can be super simple or a little more involved, depending on whether you make your own ghee and garam masala. The spice mix only takes a few minutes to measure out and grind up, but making your own ghee is a little more involved.

The chicken was one of the tastiest we’ve had in awhile for two reasons. One: Our new recipe rocks. The chicken is flavorful, but the spice mix is subtle not overpowering. Two: The chicken was incredibly juicy and a really nice quality meat. It was provided by a friend of ours who recently asked if we’d be interested in trying out a chicken from the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative in exchange for blogging about it. We of course answered yes, but were secretly worried the chicken wouldn’t be remarkable. We shouldn’t have blinked, it was delicious. If you’re in Arkansas, check them out. They specialize in pastured poultry, forested pork and grass-fed lamb and beef. We’ve also tried their mild pork sausage (yummy) and are saving some of their beef for burgers. According to their website “The Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative is a farmer-owned and farmer-operated cooperative of Arkansas livestock farmers, all committed to the highest sustainable-farming standards: pasture-raised animals and environmentally friendly practices. We don’t use maintenance antibiotics, growth hormones, or GMO feed.”

Roasted Chicken with Ghee and Garam Masala

  • 1 3 1/2 to 4 lb whole chicken
  • 6 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup whole small sweet potatoes, or 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup baby turnips, or 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • salt/pepper

Toss vegetables with two tablespoons of ghee and one teaspoon of garam masala. Place in a single layer in a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken. Place the chicken on a rack in the middle of the pan. Shove the orange quarters in the cavity of the chicken. Sprinkle bird with salt and pepper. Mix the remaining ghee and garam masala in a small bowl. Separate the skin of the chicken from the meat but don’t remove. Using a pastry brush spread the ghee mix over the flesh under the skin. Once done, brush the outside of the chicken with the remaining mix. Roast at 365 until the chicken is done (the internal temperature should be 165) and the vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes a pound). No need to baste.


  • 1 lb butter cut into small chunks

In a three-quart saucepan melt butter over medium heat until it begins to foam. Turn heat down to medium low and continue to simmer until butter stops foaming, then foams again and turns a golden brown color. The milk solids will drop to the bottom and turn black. Remove from heat and let cool slightly then strain through cheesecloth in a wire strainer into a heat proof bowl. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator forever.

Posted in Beef, Chicken, Food, Indian, Pork, Rants, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Our Kitchen: Presents

I almost have it figured out

I almost have it figured out

So the old Krupps dual coffee and espresso maker died after 12 years of service. In that time it seems that every dual coffee maker out there is over priced and poorly made. I don’t know if this is due to the single cup Keurig fad or that all coffee maker manufactures are trying to get everyone to own separate machines. Whatever the reason, I decided to try the aeropress system for 25 bucks. After a good amount of experimenting I have figured out a way to make an incredible cup of coffee, but it does not make true espresso. The trick is to use it inverted to brew the coffee, then hand press for 1 minute. There are a bunch of different videos and such out there and depending on the individual taste, time and coffee type will vary. The problem with this system is it only makes 1 cup at a time, so for parties or heavy coffee drinkers it requires some pre-planning.

I thought I had everything I needed for the kitchen

I thought I had everything I needed for the kitchen

I also got the Oxo slicing and grating tool. It works great for shredding and slicing but I do wish the container had a higher capacity since 2 cups fills up pretty fast when slicing a potato or onion.

Here is a spinach, bacon and pimento cheese pizza.



Posted in Rants | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Pimento Cheese Spread

So cheesy

So cheesy

The secret to this Southern staple is a mix of different cheddar cheeses.

Pimento Cheese

  • 8 oz extra sharp orange cheddar shredded
  • 8 oz mild English cheddar shredded
  • 4 oz sharp Vermont white cheddar shredded
  • 8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese room temperature
  • 2-8 dashes Louisiana hot sauce (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp minced pimiento peppers
  • 1/2 cup olive oil based mayonnaise
  • Salt/pepper

In a stand blender beat cream cheese until whipped. Add everything else and beat until well combined. Season with salt and pepper and chill for two hours before serving.

Posted in Appetizers, Food, Recipes, vegetarian | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Braised Ribs and Rigatoni

Use more cheese as needed

Use more cheese as needed

This recipe is adapted from Lidia’s Italy. It is a great way to cook ribs if you are tired of barbecue.

Braised Short Ribs

  • 1 rack pork spare ribs
  • 2 onions sliced thin
  • 1 head garlic chopped roughly
  • 6-8 pickled sweet peppers
  • 3 28 oz cans whole tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 2-3 cups beef stock
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated romano
  • Salt/peppper

Cut rack into single ribs and season with salt and pepper. In a large stock pot heat 2 tbsp olive oil and brown ribs in batches until all are done. Remove ribs to a paper towel lined plate to drain and strain off all but 3 tbsp fat from the stock pot. Add onions to pot and cook on low until almost caramelized. Add garlic and peppers and cook for a minute more then add 2 cups beef stock and deglaze pan. Add tomatoes, oregano and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add ribs bring to a low simmer and cover partially. Cook for 1 hour then uncover pot and continue to cook until ribs are done, ypu may need to add more broth to keep the ribs covered in the sauce. Meanwhile cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Strain and coat in olive oil, pepper, parsley and cheese while hot. Serve ribs on top of cheesy pasta with more cheese on top.

Posted in Dinner, Food, Italian, Pork, Recipes | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Cheeseball with Pepper Jelly and Pecans

That's a lot of cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese

That’s a lot of cheese

All sorts of different cheeses can be included in a cheese ball. Some go to choices would be blue cheese, Swiss, cheddar, and more cheddar. Diced dried fruit or fresh fruit soaked in liquor is an excellent addition inside as well.

Here is a simple starting point.

Cheese Ball

  • 16 oz Neufchatel or cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gouda
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 tbsp pepper jelly
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or a mix

In a mixing bowl whip cheeses and jelly together until smooth. Spoon mixture on to a large sheet of plastic wrap and form into a tight ball. Refrigerate at least six hours and up to a day. Remove from fridge and roll cheese ball in chopped nuts. Wrap in plastic again and refrigerate until serving.


Posted in Appetizers, Dessert, Food, Recipes, vegetarian | Tagged , , | 5 Comments