TACO TIME TIPS
Most homes experience tacos weekly or at least monthly. Most of those folks tear open seasoning packets that contain words, even if they can be pronounced, simply can't be explained. It would be difficult to convince me that modified potato starch or corn gluten make my taco tastier. Besides that, why do they only have one flavor taco? What about green chile or jerk chicken tacos? And what about a little flavor help from other components?
Taco Meat- Season each pound of ground beef or chicken with 1 1/4 tsp Old Saratoga Taco, Fajita, Chili Mix, (Roasted) Green Chile Blast, or Taco, Fa-Reaper, Chili Mix and 1/2 tsp Old Saratoga Smoked Kosher Salt.
For Jerk chicken or fish, sprinkle with Old Saratoga Caribbean Lime Jerk and roast until done. Break up fish or tear chicken from the bone.
Sour Cream- Mix almost any Old Saratoga Flavor Mix or Smoked Salt blend with sour cream for a flavor jolt. All recipes are 1 tsp dry mix combined with 2/3 cup sour cream.
For very Mild- GSSP
Mild- GMJ Mix, GSSJ, SWZ, (R)GCB
Hot- GSSD, OKMFR
INSANE- GSSRF, Reaper-Potle, Garlic, Mustard, Jala-Reaper
Salsa- The recipe here is the same as above: 1 tsp dry mix and 2/3 cup mild salsa.
Mild- GMJ, GSSJ, (R)GCB
Medium- GSS5P, SWZ
Hot- GSSD, OKMFR
INSANE- Reaper-Potle, Garlic, Mustard, Jala-Reaper, or Garlic Smoked Salt, Reaper, and Friends.
Start with a basic breaded chicken cutlet. Slice chicken into 4 thin cutlets . Pound a little thinner if you desire. Mix one teaspoon Old Saratoga GSSP or GSS5P with half cup of flour. Dip a cutlet first in flour, next in 1-2 beaten eggs, and lastly in 1 cup of breadcrumbs that have one teaspoon Old Saratoga PHG MIx added. (If you have the time, place breaded cutlets on a piece of parchment paper and let them dry for a bit before frying. The breading will stick better during cooking.) Fry, saute, air-fry, or bake until done. Set aside.
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small fry pan. When melted add a 1/2 tsp Old Saratoga GSSP. Then add 8 oz sliced mushrooms and cook until done. Set aside.
(If you have the ambition, butter the four buns and place them on a sheet pan, butter side up. Place under the oven broiler for a minute or two until golden brown. Set aside.)
Assembly time. Take your finished cutlets and place them on a sheet pan. Top with a thin slice or two of Black Forest ham. Put under the broiler until the edges start to brown. Remove, top each with mushrooms and Swiss cheese, and put back under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Put each on a roll and serve with a pickle or top with a little Ranch or bleu cheese dressing if desired before serving.
Everybody is willing to give up calories but no one needs to give up flavor. Here's an idea: Chicken Farmer's Pie.
Step 1: Roast a chicken or use some left over roasted chicken (or turkey). Skim the fat but save the juice. Remove any skin and bones and chop. Set aside.
Step 2: Dice some sweet potato. Toss in a very little of the chicken fat or vegetable oil and some Garlic-Smoked Salt-Pepper Mix. Place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until tender. Take half a medium sized sweet onion, some frozen mixed vegetables, also toss in GSSP (NO OIL), and roast the same way, giving the sweet potatoes a 30 minute head start.
Step 3: Mash cooked potatoes with 1 cup unsalted chicken broth (or half a cup broth and half a cup cream if you are not calorie watching) and one egg. Place potato mixture into a 1-gallon plastic bag.
Step 4: Mix chopped chicken, the pan juice from baking it, the vegetables, one cup unsalted broth and 1 tsp Old Saratoga Provencal Herb and Garlic Mix. Spread in a one inch layer in a baking dish. Using the bag, pipe the potatoes onto the meat-veggie mix in whatever pattern you chose.
Step 5: Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.
Before we get to our recipes this month, let me share a bumper sticker I recently saw: "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR, NO EXCEPTIONS". It's probably a good thing to remind ourselves of once in a while.
Acorn Squash Magic: Quarter an acorn squash. After removing the seeds, spread some softened butter on the inside portion and sprinkle with one of the smoked salt blends like GSSP or GSS5P. Microwave for 20-25 minutes or bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes.
Simple Veggie Magic: peel and dice butternut or some other winter type squash, potatoes, or sweet potatoes. Place in a large mixing bowl. Chop 1 sweet onion into 8 or 12 pieces and add. Add enough canola or olive oil (not extra virgin) to coat and toss the cubes while adding about 1 tsp GSSP, GSS5P, or (Sugar Free) BBQ Spice per 2 lb of squash or potato cubes. If you are using Sweet and Smoky, Sweet Dragon, or Hot Cue for sweet potatoes, add 1 tbsp. Place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake at 350 until tender.
Simple Veggie Magic: Peel and cube winter squash or sweet potatoes. Boil just until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add butter and/or unsalted or low salt broth, and mash. Season with one of the Garlic-Smoked Salt blends, Sweet Dragon Spice, or even Hot-Cue.
Beef Roast Magic: Everyone has their preferred way to reach "Done" when it comes to a roast. Hot oven-turn it off-leave it alone. A certain number of minutes per pound. Temperature probe. Wood pellet grill. No matter your road to get there, the seasoning is very simple: a generous dose of Garlic-Smoked Salt Pepper Mix on the outside. That's it. Don't overthink this one.
Turkey Magic: Again, everybody has their way to get the bird perfectly done. Seasoning is again relatively simple. Put a teaspoon or two od GSSP or GSS5P on the inside of the turkey. On the outside, I match our Provencal Herb and Garlic Mix with GSSP and our Southwest Zest Mix matches with the GSS5P for a bit spicier fowl.
How about a horseradish, a chipotle, or an herb and garlic sour cream? Take about 2/3 cup sour cream and add 1tsp of almost any flavor mix or Garlic-Smoked Salt blend. If you want a delicious jalapeno dip for chips, use GSSJ. For a mushroom dip, try PBF. Want some tasty cool fire? You definitely want to use Garlic, Smoked Salt, Death. All of these are pretty righteous on baked or oven roasted potatoes as well.
For a great cracker spread or baked potato topper, soften one cream cheese brick, add 1 cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper and 1 - 1 1/2 tsp Hot Cue. Mix thoroughly.
For a richer turkey gravy from scratch, season with GSSP and PBF Mix. If you buy gravy, liven it up with a dash or two of the PHG or GMJ Mixes.
If you are roasting squash, whether you cut it into chunks and toss in oil and seasoning or cut it into quarters and add butter, season with GSSP or GSS5P.
Soften two cream cheese bricks. Blend in 1/2 cup cream and then mix in 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or crumbled blue cheese. Add 1 tbsp of your favorite flavor mix. Whether you are a jalapeno cheddar, a horseradish cheddar, or a blue cheese and Portobello mushroom person, we have a combo for you. Form into a ball and roll in more shredded or crumbled. Store cold but allow to soften some before serving.
Garlic-Mustard-Jalapeno Mix does a lot of things really well.
For versatilty of flavor, it's hard to beat Old Saratoga GMJ Mix. This mix is not trying to set anyone on fire. Even though it has jalapeno, a modest amount mixed with mayonnaise on a sandwich, sour cream on a potato, or even sprinkled on nachos gives more flavor than heat. If you shake more of it on, you get a semi mild jalapeno heat. Pair with Old Saratoga Smoked Kosher Salt for burgers or grilled lamb or pork chops.
If you or someone in your house is a little sopicier than the others, GMJ can be sprinkled on most finished foods because its low salt content won't throw off the salt balance. Sprinkle on things like slices of pizza, scrambled eggs/breakfast sandwiches, potato salad, even a cracker with a pepperoni slice and cheddar. (As the person writing this, I can tell you that I keep one in the car. You never know when you're going to end up in a Waffle House or Denny's.)
Here's a quick recipe for some awesome grilled chicken:
Cut across 3-5 chicken breasts so you have several thin flat pieces. Marinate in a combination of chopped cilantro, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1/8 cup brown sugar, and two teaspoons of Old Saratoga GMJ Mix. Grill and serve topped with some fresh pico de gallo.
Time to impress the family and any very lucky guests with braised short ribs, garlic mashed and grilled mixed vegetables.
Start with about three pounds boneless beef short ribs. Generously apply Garlic, Smoked Salt, Pepper/Jalapeno/5Pepper/or Death depending on your taste. Place in a baking or roasting pan. (If desired add a celery stalk or two, a quartered sweet onion, and some sliced carrot and maybe a handful mushrooms.) Add about 1/4 cup water, cover with foil, and place in a 185 degree oven for about 6-8 hours. They should become so tender that, unless you slice them with a very sharp smooth blade knife, they fall apart. If desired, take some of the rendered fat and juice and make a quick gravy.
Peel 6-8 medium Burbank or Russet potatoes. Dice, boil until tender, drain, and place in a large mixing bowl. Add one 8 oz cream cheese and 1/2 stick of unsalted butter together in a microwave safe bowl. Next add 2 tsp GSS-P/J/5P/or D depending on your taste. Then add 1/2 clove of very finely diced fresh garlic or about 1 tsp granulated garlic. To make it easier, microwave the butter, cream cheese, and seasoning blend on a lower setting to soften and combine before mixing with the potatoes. Mash until the desired level of smoothness is reached. Top with chopped parsley or chives (if you're really feelin' it).
Now the vegetables. This recipe uses carrot, yellow squash, zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Slice the carrots to about 1/2 an inch, the squash and zucchini to about 3/4 inch. The onion and pepper cut first in quarters. Then cut each piece in half creating 1/8 sized pieces of each. Place the veggies on a flat blade metal skewer, spritz with baking spray and dust with a little Smoked Kosher Salt. Tip- if you crush or powder the smoked salt, it will stick better to vegetables. Grill or place on an open pan in a 350 degree oven until tender.
Put on the show!! Place a spoonful of mashed potatoes in the center of the plate. Top with a couple of slices short ribs. Surround with a skewer's worth of vegetables and crown with the gravy you made from the pan juice. Serves 4-5
Disclaimer- next time you go to a fancy place and the food isn't as good as what you make at home, your significant other is going to give you a funny look.
With all of the fresh veggies coming in from the garden, it's time to enjoy the fruits of labor....
BRUSCHETTA- maybe the easiest treat from your garden. Slice a ripe tomato. Lay the slices on a plate. Top each with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.Drizzle wth some balsamic vinegar or dressing and sprinkle with OSSR Provencal Herb and Garlic Mix..
SAUTEED SQUASH with ONION- Slice your yellow sqash thin. Slice some sweet onion to the same thickness. Start a large skillet on medium. Add unsalted butter. Once butter starts to bubble, drop squash and onions in the pan along with OSSR GSSP or GSS5P mix. Toss to brown slightlty while keeping the pan hot. Usually takes about 5 minutes.
Since you're not going to Maine this summer......
But you still want that summer taste, you're going to have to go DYI. Start with the right rolls. New England Style rolls are made to be butter grilled. Add GSSP for mild, GSS5P for medium, or GSSD for you crazy hot people and grill it right on. Doesn't matter if you split it and grill it, drop it in the pot yourself, or pay the friendly person where you buy it, somehow get that baby cooked. Remove it from the shell, chop into whatever size pieces you like, and refrigerate to cool.
While that is in the fridge cooling, dice some celery and some sweet onion very finely. No one wants a big chunk of onion in their salad. Add enough mayo for your taste to the lobster, mix in the veggies, and add any flavor mix desired (Horseradish, Garlic,and Chive, Southwest Zest, Garlic-Mustard-Jalapeno, OKMFR). Place mix back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
When it's time, butter the sides of the roll, sprinkle on the salt mix of choice, and grill. When golden brown and delicious, fill with lobster salad, dust with flavor mix one more time if you want and devour.
HOT DOGS, CHILI DOGS, AND SUPER DOGS
Hot Dogs- Whether it is a beef, pork, turkey, or chicken dog, it never sits alone. Kids slather on ketchup and go to town. More grown up tastes might bring on the mustard, relish, and onion. Why not add another layer to the flavors? Make it a jalapeno dog (GMJ), a chipotle dog (SWZ), a horseradish dog (HGC), or a fire dog (OKMFR) by just adding a sprinkle to complete your masterpiece.
Chili/Cheese Dogs- The meat sauce starts with 1 lb 80-20 ground beef. Brown in a skillet making sure to break up any chunks. Add 1/2 tsp Old Saratoga GSSP and 1 1/4 tsp Old Saratoga TFC mix. (If you want a spicier meat sauce, add some GMJ, SWZ, or OKMFR as well.) Next add 1 tbsp dehydrated minced onion or 1/4 cup sweet onion diced very small. Lastly, stir in 1- 8 oz can tomato sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes. For the cheese sauce, combine in a microwave safe dish: 10-12 slices American cheese, 1- 8 oz pkg shredded cheddar, and 1 cup milk. Wave on full power one minute at a time (so you don't have to stand there), stirring between each minute. Once sauce is melted, add 1 1/2 tsp Green Chili Blast, GMJ, SWZ, or OKMFR. Use the extra sauce for nachos.
Superdogs- Wrap a quarter pound beef frank in a thick bacon slice securing the ends with toothpicks. Deep fry or grill until the bacon is cooked. Remove the toothpicks and place in a split hoagie roll. Go giant chili/cheese, HGC with diced onion, or my personl favorite- red onion, sliced avocado, tomato wedges, and a healthy drizzle of Old Saratoga GSSJ Jalapeno sour cream. (1 tsp GSSJ Mix with 2/3 cup sour cream. Any extra is great for chips.
FRIED CHICKEN AND POTATO WEDGES
As always, our recipe will provide spicy and non spicy options. You will need:
A cast iron skillet, a Fry Daddy type fryer, or an air fryer.
3-4 lbs chicken pieces
2- 2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (White or red potatoes do not work as well for this application.)
All purpose flour
2-3 eggs, beaten
About 3 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tsp Old Saratoga Smoked Kosher Salt
2 tbsp Old Saratoga Garlic, Smoked Salt, Pepper Mix (or Sugar Free BBQ, 5 Pepper Salt, or even Death Salt, depending on how hot you want things)
2 tsp Old Saratoga Portobello, Southwest, Garlic- Mustard-Jalepeno, OKMFR, or Green Chile Blast
Canola or corn oil for your frying
Start prep by mixing 1 tsp smoked salt, 1 1/2 tbsp GSSP (BBQ, 5P, or Death), and one tsp of PBF, SWZ, GMJ, OKMFR, or GCB) Marinate the chicken in this mix in the fridge overnight. Use large food storage bags and turn them over before you go to bed and when you get up for best coverage.
A couple of hours before cooking time, dredge the marinated chicken in flour and place on a rack or parchment paper covered baking pan and place back in the fridge to dry.
Cut the potatoes lengthwise into wedges about 1/2 inch across the skin side. Place half in a microwave safe dish with just enough water to cover. Cook for about 6-8 minutes until partially done. Drain. Repeat with other half. When potatoes are starting to dry but still sticky, dredge in flour mixed with the remainder of the GSSP Mix, knock off excess, and place on a rack or pan to finish drying. (I usually cheat and use a small fan.) After 15 or 20 minutes, drop into the beaten eggs and then into the breadcrumbs. Then back on the pan/rack for another half hour of drying.
NOW it's time to get cooking! Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and your oil to 350. Carefully place larger pieces of chicken into the oil and drop the temp to 325. After about ten minutes, remove the larger pieces, raise the temp back to 350, and place the mostly cooked chicken on a drip rack, above a pan, in the oven to finish cooking. When the oil is back to temp, repeat the process moving last to the smaller pieces which may take a little less frying time. After the chicken is in the oven finishing, start running the wedges through the oil, 8-10 at a time, placing them in the oven on parchment paper to drain. Lastly, take one teaspoon smoked salt and crush it to a powder in a grinder, mortar and pestle, or between two spoons. Combine with the last teaspoon of spice mix and dust your wedges before serving.
Chili Mac and Cheese
This version is kid friendly for taste ease of prep.
8 oz each shredded cheddar, American slices, and milk (that's 1 cup)
1 lb uncooked macaroni
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 -10 oz can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
1- 14 oz can black or kidney beans
1- 6 oz can tomato sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp Old Saratoga Smoked Kosher Salt
1 1/2 tsp Old Saratoga Taco, Fajita, Chile Mix
Three things need to happen simultaneously. Start water for the macaroni. Place cheeses and milk in a microwave safe dish and heat one minute at a time, stirring after each minute until smooth. While that is happening, start the ground meat in a 12 inch skillet. Once it is cooked, remove from the heat, drain any fat desired, and add the smoked kosher salt, beans, and the diced tomatoes/sauce. Add the Taco, Fajita, Chili Mix and then the cheese sauce. Stir together.
By now the pasta should be almost done. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add chili/cheese mixture and serve. Makes 6-8 servings.
SOUTHWEST CORN MUFFINS
Use a boxed corn bread mix and add a small can of drained Mexican style corn and 1/2 tsp OSSR Southwest Zest Mix for each box of cornbread mix. Prepare according to instructions. These will be the base.
If you have tried our pulled pork at an event, this is how we do it. This requires one pork butt and one pork picnic (uncooked ham) Using as small knife, remove the "sleeve" from the picnic. Set sleeve aside while both pieces get a good coat of dry rub, either Sweet BBQ or Sweet & Smoky. We use a big disposable pan and place the butt, the picnic, and the sleeve all in. We place them in dense oak smoke for about 1 hour. (Remember, you can use a gas grill as a smoker if you have a pan for your wood and put that on the hot side, meat on cooler side. It may take a bit longer than a regular smoker to get good smoke flavor.) Remove to an oven or turn the smoke off and finish. Keep the pan bottom covered in liquid so the juices can be used in the sauce. When the bone pulls out easily, it is done.
Before they cool off, we start pulling by hand and fork and yes, I do sometimes burn my fingers. The sacrifice of art. We remove any fat, bones, or other material that we don't want to eat. When they are pulled and mixed, add sauce. Our recipe for this much is 1- 28 oz can tomato sauce,1- 12oz jar molasses, 3/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup spicy brown mustard, 2 tbsp dried minced onion, and 1 1/2 tbsp OSSR BBQ rub and 1 cup hot water. Combine in a sauce pan and turn off once thoroughly heated. Add back to pork, combine well, and place back in the oven for 1 hour at 350 deg. We call this "Happy Hour". We will cool this off and store in 2 lb bags in the freezer between parties.
Sometimes we use canned with GMJ added. Other times we take canned navy beans, add molasses, ketchup, cooked bacon, and minced raw onion, along with GMJ or GSS5P. Combine in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off after the first few bubbles. It just needs to come together, not be cooked.
EASY COLE SLAW
1 pkg Slaw Mix
1 cup Mayo
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 cup white vinegar
1 `1/2 tsp Old Saratoga GSSP Mix
Combine mayo, sugar, vinegar, and GSSP and pour over mixing bowl of Slaw Mix and stir together. Best if refrigerated 1 hour before serving.
NOW STACK 'EM. CORNBREAD BASE, PULLED PORK NEXT, A SHOT OF BAKED BEANS, TOPPED BY THE COLE SLAW. YOU NOW HAVE A BBQ SUNDAE. ENJOY!!!
CLASSIC (OR TWISTED) MAC & CHEESE
1 lb shredded cheddar
1 lb American cheese slices
1 pint whole milk
1/4 sweet onion grated or food processed
1/2 tsp GSSP Mix (Spicy versions use GSSJ, GSS5P, or GSSD)
1 tsp OSSR Flavor Mix (GMJ, HGC, SWZ, TFC, PBF, or OKMFR)
1 lb uncooked pasta
Gently cook shredded onion and set aside. We use a microwave for that. Slowly heat milk and add cheese stirring regularly until melted. We use either the microwave or the oven on about 200 deg for that step. Once cheese and milk have combined for a basic sauce add the onion and divide in half. Flavor half the sauce and save the other half for a different meal or snack. Cook the pasta and combine with flavored half of cheese sauce.
Classic: Use only GSSP to season
Portobello: Use PBF Mix and add sliced cooked mushrooms
Taco: Use TFC Mix, add cooked and drained ground beef
Jalapeno: Use GMJ, add finely diced, cooked poblano pepper
Horseradish: Use HGC and add optional bacon
Southwest: Use SWZ and add drained corn and black beans
CRAZY HOT: Use OKMFR, cooked poblano and ground beef
SPICY or SAVORY (No Syrup) BREAKFAST PANCAKES
Use regular pancake mix. Add 1/2 tsp of seasoning per cup of mix and prepare as normal. Own favorite flavors to use are GMJ, SWZ, HGC, and OKMFR. Cover with this sauce:
1/2 lb uncooked breakfast sausage
1 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
Crumble sausage in a pan and cook. Drain excess fat. Add milk and cheese and stir over low heat until melted. Pour this over your pancake stacks, throw on a spoon of salsa to cut the fat taste, and then top with a fried egg and maybe a little Smoked Kosher Salt.
For dips or spreads made with cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, hummus, or salsa, add about 1 tsp of the dry mix to 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the base.
S-K-S- Use just like regular salt on meats, poultry, fish, vegetable, potatoes, eggs, anything.
G-SS-P- grilled or roasted anything (veggies, potatoes, meats, poultry, fish, use as garlic/salt/pepper base for any dish and add herbs or other spices.
G-SS-J- popcorn, cheese spreads, Ranch style dressing, dip
G-SS-5P- SPICY popcorn, spreads, dips
G-SS-D- VERY HOT Burgers, popcorn, eggs, dips,hot chili
HGC- steak, salmon, popcorn, spreads or dips, baked potatoes, oven fries, dressing
GMJ- anything with eggs, macaroni, or dairy, spreads, dips, prepared mac & cheese, leftover chicken sandwich
TFC- taco or fajita meat, chili or meat sauce (for hot dogs), popcorn, dips, oven fries or tots
PHG- poultry, fish, roasted potatoes, vinaigrette dressing, microwave veggies, dips, spreads
SWZ- dips, spreads, Ranch dressing, cornbread, store-bought salsa
PBF- eggs, dips, potatoes, steak, chicken, burgers
OKMFR- EXTREMELY SPICY! Dips, eggs, chicken or tuna salad, steaks, popcorn
BBQ, Sweet & Smoky, Sweet & Spicy: any BBQ application, homemade (sweet) potato chips, most fish, grilled veggies
Sweet Dragon: to make teriyaki flavor, mix equal parts Sweet Dragon Spice, brown sugar, and soy sauce (suggestion 1 tbsp each), popcorn or popcorn balls, pumpkin bread, apple pie slice
YOUR ONLY LIMIT IS YOUR OWN IMAGINATION!