Grilled Brie, Prosciutto and Pepper Jelly Sandwiches

This is one of my all time favorites for a quick go-to meal. I love the medley of sweet, salty and savory that comes through in this simple take on a Grilled Cheese sandwich. It is the perfect accompaniment to soup or salad for a hearty lunch or quick supper.

In this recipe the amounts of the ingredients are just suggestions. Slice your bread as thin or thick as you like, just make sure it’s thick enough to hold the ingredients. Add more or less jelly, meat or cheese to your personal taste. You can use Red Pepper or Hot Pepper Jelly – either is great, it just depends on your desire for heat or not. Grill bread lighter or darker to your taste. The beauty of this sandwich is you can make it exactly the way you like it. You won’t be disappointed.

Sweet, salty, savory, melty goodness!


2 Slice Rustic bread (I used a Pugliese from the local bakery, but any rustic French or Italian loaf will work)
2 Tablespoons Red Pepper Jelly or Hot Pepper Jelly, divided
2 Slices of Brie from a wedge (more or less to taste)
2 Slices (or more to taste) Prosciutto
1 Tablespoon Butter


  1. Slice bread and cheese.
  2. Butter one side of bread slices.
  3. Place one slice of bread, butter side down, in skillet.
  4. Top with first Tablespoon of Pepper Jelly, followed by sliced Brie and Prosciutto slices and second Tablespoon of Pepper Jelly.
  5. Top with remaining slice of bread, butter side up.
  6. Grill in pan over medium heat until golden; turn sandwich and grill until golden on second side.
  7. Slice and serve while cheese is still gooey and melty.

Spatchcocked Chicken on the Grill

Spatchcocking is a technique where the back bone of a whole chicken is removed and it is flattened out. This allows for quicker and more even cooking. I like to spatchock chicken, coat it in a mustard based herb paste and grill it.

For an easy summer meal, roast potatoes on the grill at the same time and serve with a salad.


1 Whole Chicken, 5 - 6 pounds, giblets removed
1 large shallot or several smaller shallots, about 4 oz in weight
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup flat leaf Italian parsley
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 Cup Olive oil


  1. Rinse chicken in cool water and pat dry. Place on a cutting board, breast side down. Using sharp kitchen or boning shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Open the chicken like a book.
  2. Turn the chicken over so it’s breast side up and press firmly against the backbone to flatten it out.
  3. Cut wing tips off so they don’t burn and trim off any excess skin and fat.
  4. In a food processor combine the remaining ingredients and pulse to make a thick paste.
  5. Rub the paste all over the chicken on both sides, coating liberally. Reserve unused paste for serving with the chicken.
  6. Cover and chill for at least an hour before grilling.
  7. Preheat your grill to 450 degrees. You can either use a smoker, or cook using an indirect heat method. If using the indirect method, heat your whole grill up to 450 degrees.
  8. For either method, place chicken on the grill breast side down directly on the grill grates. Close lid and cook for 8-15 minutes until the chicken is browned on breast side. Flip chicken over. If using indirect heat method, place chicken breast side up on 1/2 half of grill. Shut off burners under chicken and close lid. Chicken will brown with the initial contact with hot grates and then that side will cool and roast chicken for final cooking. If using a smoker, turn heat down to 350 degrees after turning chicken.
  9. For either method, keep grill lid closed and roast 30-60 minutes more. Check with a meat thermometer – grill to 160 degrees when thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breast.
  10. Remove from grill, rest for 10 minutes, cut and serve with any reserved herb paste.

I usually freeze the backbone for stock after removing.

I like to prepare the chicken and rub with paste in the morning. This allows time for the chicken to absorb flavors and it is easy to grill later in the day. However, the longer chill time requires additional cooking time.

Grill temperatures will vary. This is especially true with the indirect heat method and variations in outdoor temperatures. The first time you prepare this dish, allow an extra 30-45 minutes in your schedule in case the grill cooks more slowly than noted in the recipe.

Smoked Corned Beef

We ran out of corned beef for sandwiches, and are still in the mood for this springtime treat. I wanted to change it up a bit though, so decided I would give it try on my smoker. I chose a brisket cut over the round cut, which is made for smoking and slow cooking to break down the connective tissues. It will slice nicely for sandwiches as leftovers.

I am busy outside in the garden and barn this time of year. Putting something on to slow cook in the smoker and checking on it here and there is an easy way to have dinner cook while you get your spring time chores done. When the evenings turn chilly in the spring, coming in from the cold to a warm meal just ready to serve is very welcome.

For this version I decided not to add any sweetness. I am using juniper berries in the rub, as this ingredient is part of the traditional corned beef brining. Plus, how often do you really get to use juniper berries in a recipe?

Gather together all the ingredients and let’s get smokin’!

Smoked Corned Beef

Course Main Course
Cuisine BBQ
Servings 6 servings


  • Pellet or Electric Smoker
  • Or BBQ Grill set up for indirect heat
  • Mortar and Pestal


  • 2-3 pound Corned Beef Brisket
  • 2 tbsp Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Whole Juniper Berries
  • 1 tbsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 large Onion, cut into 1/8 pieces
  • 1 pint Dark Beer (Porter or Guiness)


  • Assemble all ingredients.
  • Preheat smoker to 275 degrees.
  • Trim excess fat off corned beef.
  • In a mortar and pestal, grind the whole juniper berries into almost a paste like consistency. Add peppercorns and continue to grind.
  • Mix whole grain mustard into the ground spices.
  • Coat corned beef with mustard and spice paste on both sides.
  • Place on smoker grate, and smoke for 3 hours with the lid closed. If using a regular BBQ grill, use an indirect heat method and place the meat on the side without flames or coals.
  • After 3 hours, place the corned beef in a shallow aluminum pan, add beer and surround with onion. The beer will help draw the excess salt out fo the corned beef and bring in complimentary flavors.
  • Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and put the corned beef back in the smoker for another 3 hours.
  • Remove from the smoker and rest for 15-30 minutes before slicing.
  • Carve against the grain and serve.
Keyword BBQ, Corned Beef, Smoked

Notes: During the last three hours of cooking you can also cook a head of cabbage in the smoker. Refer to recipe for this option.

Smoked Cabbage with Siracha

There is a lovely person in my life who loves Siracha. Her love of siracha inspired me to try smoked cabbage with a little kick.

You can definitely add more siracha than I did here to ratchet it up even further. The smokey, buttery, garlic flavors are punctuated with some lively heat.


1 Head of Green Cabbage
4 - 6 Tablespoons of Butter, sliced into cubes while cold
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Cup Marsala Wine
1 - 3 Tablespoons of Siracha, to taste plus more for serving


  1. Heat a smoker to 275-300 degrees.
  2. Core your cabbage with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut through the cabbage. Make a little well in the center. Reserve the core.
  3. Using a 18 inch length of aluminum foil, roll it up like tube and then shape it into a ring. This will help the cabbage balance while you prep it and on the grill
  4. Take another 18 inch lenght of aluminum foil, or one that will wrap the entire head of cabbage. Place the cabbage in the center and bring the foil up about 1/2 way. Initially, you will not wrap the whole head to allow the smoke to flavor the cabbage, and the extra juices to collect in the foil. Balance the wrapped cabbage on the foil ring.
  5. Fill the center well with cubed butter.
  6. Add garlic cloves and follow with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Insert reserved core to pack ingredients in.
  8. Place on smoker and smoke for 1.5 hours. Then close the foil to wrap the entire head and cook for another 1.5 to 2 hours.
  9. Remove from smoker and rest for 15 minutes.
  10. Slice cabbage and serve with reserved juices poured over and additional siracha on the side for those who love it.

Beef Tips with Rice

This may be the very first recipe I actually put on paper – over 30 years ago. my little sister, EO, used to stay with me in the summers during high school. I was a single mom back then and couldn’t afford a lot of higher priced ingredients, but on special nights I’d make this. It became one of her favorites and when she married and began her family cooking she asked me to write this down.

For some reason, I haven’t made this a lot in recent years, and decided to pull out my old recipe box and make it again. It’s finally warming up a bit and Spring officially starts next week, but the nights are still cold and a warm meal is still a satisfying way to end the day.

Turns out, this recipe stood the test of time. I was surprised my early attempts held up. The addition of fresh parsely and using long grain rice are about the ony changes from the original recipe in this version.


1.5 to 2 lbs Siroloin Roast or Steak, cubed
1 Medium Onion, diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
8 Ounces Fresh Mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil (high heat avocado or canola)
1/4 Cup cooking Sherry or Red Wine
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Sage
2 Tablespoons Beef Base or Beef Soup Granules
4 Cups Water
2 Tablespoon of a Flour & Butter Roux
1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste
1 Tablespoon Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, minced
2-4 cups Steamed Long Grain Rice

Beef Base Used


  1. Add oil to a deep sided cooking skillet or stock pot and heat to medium high heat.
  2. Brown sirloin cubes in oil until beginning to caramelize.
  3. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms have released a lot of moisture.
  4. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.
  5. Deglaze pan with sherry or wine and cook til nearly evaporated.
  6. Add Water, beef base, bay leaves, and sage.
  7. Bring liquid to a simmer and cover pot. Simmer for 2 hours.
  8. Approximately 40 minutes before beef tips are done simmering, cook long-grain rice to your preferred recipe.
  9. When beef tips are done simmering, make a roux using butter and flour and quickly whisk about 2 tablespoons of roux into the simmering liquid to thicken into a gravy.
  10. Add pepper to taste.
  11. Just before serving, stir in fresh parsley.
  12. Serve over steamed rice.


  • Best served with a simple green vegetable or salad.
  • A sprinkle of parmesan as shown is a great compliment.
  • You can substitute noodles, polenta, quinoa or whole grains for the rice.
  • Garlic bread is a nice accompaniment.

Latic Goat Cheese with Minced Truffles and Oil

I began keeping goats in 2010 and making my own dairy products from their milk in 2011. Over the years I’ve made soft and hard cheeses but never had a teacher or classes. There aren’t many classes available in Reno. Today you can find classes on making the basic mozzarella, ricotta and farmers cheeses at local cooking schools. However, those weren’t around back when I started. I had to rely on the internet and books. But for my supplies and step-by-step instructions for a variety of creamery and cheese recipes, I’ve turned to the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company for many years. In the fall of 2018, they published this great blog on a number of cheeses that could be successfully made in time for Christmas. I was a bit behind and saw a beautiful lactic cheese with black truffle oil and knew I had to try it. This company is so generous in sharing the recipes of their cheesemakers, creating a community of home cheesemakers and allowing us to share our stories and recipes. Please check out the blog and articles from Jeri Case and other contributors at A Better Whey

Lactic Goat Cheese with Minced Truffles and Oil

This recipe is based on an original from Jim Wallace of the New England Cheese Making Company found here:


1 gallon raw goat milk
7 oz. heavy cream
1/8 tsp. MM100 culture
4 drops single strength liquid rennet
¼ tsp calcium chloride dissolved in ¼ cup water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black truffle in oil (small minced). Use both the truffle and the oil. Additional black truffle oil to taste


  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Stainless Steel pot 6 quarts or larger
  • Slotted Stainless Steel skimmer
  • Slotted Stainless Steel Spoon
  • Cheese Cloth or Butter Muslin
  • Large collander
  • Small stainless bowl
  • Sheet pan and cooling rack
  • Small Cheese molds with drain holes.


Bring milk to 78F (verify with Instant Read thermometer), so when adding the cold cream and cool water it will level out to the correct 68-72F.  When milk is at 68-72F, add 1/8 tsp of MM100 culture by sprinkling on the surface of the milk and letting it “bloom” for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir into the milk using a slotted stainless skimmer with up and down motions, not breaking the surface of the milk to pull the culture through the milk for even distribution and ripening. Add Calcium Chloride diluted in water next, doin same up and down motions to distribute through milk. Next add 4 drops of rennet with same up and down motions. Allow cheese ferment for 18 hours and it is pulling away from the pan with ¼ inch of whey resting on top.

When fermented by culture and whey has separated due to the rennet, cut the curd into 1-2 inch cubes. Allow curd to rest for 5 minutes. Line a large collander with cheese cloth or butter muslin (I prefer the butter muslin) and transfer curd to cheese cloth, retaining the whey for another use. Allow the curd to drain for three hours. I like to tie the cheese cloth up and hang it over a sink so it drains under its own weight. Use a pan to catch the whey and reserve for another use. After curds drain, you will be left with a soft spreadable cheese. Move cheese to a stainless bowl. Mix in salt and minced black truffles in oil – adding 1/2 tsp at a time until you achieve the desired taste. Add additional truffle oil if desired. I like a lot of this flavor, but it can be overdone. Let your own taste preference drive the quantity of minced truffles and oil. Salt can be adjusted as well, but start with 1 tsp as it helps preserve the cheese and release more moisture. Cheese is done and can be eaten now, or can be molded for a firmer but still spreadable cheese. This is my prefernce. Follow the next steps for this result: Transfer cheese with slotted spoon into 4 round molds placed on a cooling rack over a sheet pan to catch the whey drips.

Cover top of cheese loosely with plastic film, and allow it sit at room temperature overnight. Drain any collected whey from the sheet pan, and transfer cheese in molds to the refrigerator with a light plastic film cover so some of the drying effect can occur. This protects the ripening cheese from other flavors in the refrigerator environment. Leave undisturbed, except draining off any collected whey for 6 days to allow flavors to blend.

On the sixth day, unmold the cheeses, they should be nice and firm, but still soft and spreadable. Wrap in plastic wrap or cheese paper and put in containers to store in the fridge.

The finished product


You can drizzle more truffle oil over the cheese just before serving. We love it best just spread on crostini and drizzled with a little more oil. This cheese works well in Truffled Macaroni and Cheese for a gourmet treat. This is a simple and quick cheese and lovely for gift giving in a special container or accompanied by a bottle of truffle oil.

You can learn more about my cheesemaking journey on another A Better Whey Blog here

Rueben Sandwiches with Spicy Russian Dressing

One of the best things about a corned beef and cabbage dinner is the left overs. Corned beef is like the Thanksgiving turkey of late winter; if you cook a larger cut of brisket, you may use it in a variety of leftovers. One of my favorites is a classic Rueben Sandwich with homemade Russian dressing. I love the spicy sweetness paired with the briny sauerkraut, melted swiss cheese, and a stack of thin sliced corned beef on a dark rye bread. I put a modern twist on the traditional dressing with the addition of a generous dose of Siracha hot sauce.


For the Russian Dressing
2 Tablespoons grated onion
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Ketchup
4 teaspoons of prepared horseradish - the fresher the better.
1-2 teaspoons of Siracha hot sauce (more or less to your taste)
1 - 2 teaspoons of Worchestershire sauce (more or less to your taste)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika
Dash of sea salt or pink salt

For each sandwich

2 Slices Dark Rye Bread (can use a light rye or pumpernickle if preferred)
2 Slices Swiss Cheese
1/2 Cup of Sauerkraut, drained and most of moisture pressed out
Sliced Cooked Corned Beef Brisket - Amount to your preference.
Russian Dressing


  1. Make Russian Dressing
    • Transfer onion paste to a small bowl along with mayonnaise, ketchup and horseradish.
    • Add 1 teaspoon of siracha, 1 teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce and the paprika.
    • Taste and add more siracha or Worchestershire.
    • Finish by salting to taste.
  2. Assemble Sandwiches
    • Spread one slice of bread with butter and place butter down in a 8-10 inch skillet.
    • Spread bread with a teaspoon (or more) of Russian Dressing.
    • Place two slices of Swiss Cheese ontop of the dressing.
    • Add drained and pressed Sauerkraut.
    • Add desired amount of sliced corned beef.
    • Spread second slice of bread with another generous teaspoon of Russian Dressing.
    • Place bread, dressing side down on top of corned beef.
    • Butter top side of bread.
    • Grill in skillet over medium heat, flipping the bread when desired level of toasting occurs.
  3. Serve with additional dressing on the side.

Note: Substitute Thousand Island Dressing for the Russian Dressing for a sweeter sandwich if preferred.

Corned Beef And Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

St. Patrick’s Day is still a week away, but we just couldn’t wait another week to enjoy a nice slow-cooked Corned Beef and Cabbage. This time of year, just before spring, the evenings are still cold and this hearty meal is welcome after a day of pre-spring yard cleanup. This version is my own take on the traditional dish and is cooked in a slow cooker giving us time to do some chores and then come into a meal that is ready to serve at the end of a busy day. Most of the prep can be done the night before if you happen to want to have this waiting for you at the end of your work day.


1 - 3 to 4 pound corned beef brisket (can also use the round, I just prefer the brisket for slicing for Rueben sandwhiches if there are any leftovers)
1 large or 2 small onions
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 Tablespoon Pickling Spice
2 12 oz. bottles of Guiness Stout Ale (optional)
1.5 oz. of Madeira (optional)
24 oz. water - more or less as desired
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces (alternately, these days small peeled carrots in the bag are available in most grocery stores)
3 - 4 stalks of celery, cut into bite size pieces
1 - pound of small red potatoes, washed, skin-on, cut in 1/2 or quarter if potatoes are larger than a walnut
1 large head or 2 small heads of green cabbage


  1. Dice onions, celery, and carrots. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add peeled garlic.
  3. Open corned beef from package and rinse, reserving spice packet.
  4. Add corned beef and spice packet, along with pickling spices to the slow cooker, on top of the carrots, onion, celery and garlic.
  5. Add the two bottles of Guiness, the Madeira, and the water to 1/2 cover the corned beef. The vegetables will float a bit.
  6. Set the slow cooker to high heat, and cook on high for 2 hours if you are home to mind the cooker. If you are not going to be home, continue with the next step immediately.
  7. After two hours, or at the outset if the cooker is going to be unattended, set the slow cooker to low heat and add the potatoes and cabbage to the cooker.
  8. Continue cooking until potatoes and cabbage and corned beef are fork tender. Cook time should be around 6-7 hours for the high/low heat method. 8-10 hours for the slow heat method. This will vary based on the slow cooker.

Note: A good way to finish the corned beef is to remove it from the cooking juices, place in an oven safe dish and slather with a mustard and brown sugar glaze. Roast in a 325 degree oven until the glaze carmelizes and develops a crust, but does not burn. For the glaze use 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup whole grain or brown mustard. In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar and water. Heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the mustard. Continue simmering for another 2-3 minutes. Coat corned beef with glaze and bake until the desired carmelization occurs. You will need to check the corned beef in the oven after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes to make sure the glaze is cooking to the desired carmelization. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.


I’ve often wanted to try a hand at donuts at home, and when I started reading up on Beignets, they seemed to be the right place to start. Simple shapes, made from rolled sweet dough, fried and dusted with powdered sugar. When I explore new techniques, I try to learn the basics before moving on. The basics are typically the things I return to time and again, after playing with more inventive versions with unique ingredients. The original generally remains the gold-standard and favorite. This is an old, long standing recipe found in many books and internet recipe sites. I’ve scaled it to 1/2 the recipe usually posted as this still makes more beignets than a small family can eat. The recipe can be doubled easily.

Powder sugar coated pillows!
1 hour and 50 minutes – dough is risen
Rolled, cut and resting
Golden brown and ready to remove from fryer.


  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 (.25-ounce) (or 7 g) packet active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 3/4 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • corn oil or any flavorless oil , for frying
  • powdered sugar , for dusting


  1. In a large bowl (I do this in my stand mixer bowl) combine lukewarm water (90-100 degrees Farenheit) and yeast. Let it sit until dissolve for about 5 minutes.
  2. Lightly whisk eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla extract , salt and sugar. Add to the yeast mixture.
  3. Mix in about 2 cups flour and continue mixing with hand or dough mixer. Using a stand mixer for about a minute or 2.
  4. Finally add melted butter, mix until dough is sticky but smooth. Add in additional flour to make soft dough. Add a bit at a time until it achieves a soft consistency. If using a dough mixer becareful not to overmix.
  5. Turn dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Add flour a tablespoon at a time, and knead in if dough is too sticky.
  6. Place dough in a greased (I use butter) bowl, turning once to coat the dough with butter. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours or until doubled.
  7. Begin heating avocado or peanut oil in a dutch oven or deep fryer. These oils have a high-smoke point. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
  8. Punch the dough down and remove the dough from the bowl.
  9. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into ¼ – 1/3 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 1 1/2 or 2″ squares or diamonds. Let dough rest for about 10 minutes before frying.
  10. While dough rests, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and papertowels for draining the fried beignets.
  11. Check the oil with a candy thermometer to insure it has come to 375 degrees.
  12. Working with 4 – 6 dough pieces, so as to not crowd the oil, fry the dough squares until they are puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oil, drain onto paper towels, and immediately dust with powdered sugar.


Thanks for joining me!

I have always shown my love through the preparation and sharing of food.   There are a number of reasons and choices for this expression of love, and each time I embark on cooking there is a story to tell.

This site will share recipes I’ve created or explored; my trials and triumphs.   This will also curb my tendency to post everything I cook on social media, abusing the patience of friends and family 🙂

The need may arise to use up fresh ingredients, and no specific recipe comes to mind.  Sometimes, I come across an ingredient to try, or a technique not yet explored.   Or…in the middle of cooking I realize I’ve forgotten a key ingredient, and don’t have it on hand.  These are the invitations to create, invent, improvise.

Backyard Bounty