Chew This! Maple Brown Sugar Smokies

I have a confession: I hate bacon. I have never liked it, and I did not think I ever would…until I tried this delicious appetizer! What is the secret? Drizzling these with pure maple syrup, and sprinkling them with black pepper makes all the difference in the world!

Trust me – you will WANT to try these, again and again.

Maple Brown Sugar Smokies Chew This Blaise Doubman

Maple Brown Sugar Smokies

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 17th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Maple Brown Sugar Smokies are an appetizer to please…
Blaise Doubman

I have a confession to make, and I figure I might as well make it here and now. I’m not a fan of bacon! I have never liked the taste, the smell, the texture – anything! I have tried it every way imaginable, and I’m just not a fan. I can’t believe the “bacon market” that’s out there. Has anyone else noticed this? You can buy “I love bacon” t-shirts, socks, bumper stickers, hats and even band-aids! I’m still waiting for the “I love donuts” trend – now that’s a trend I could hop on. Regardless, I just don’t understand the Nation’s fascination with bacon. Before you email me, let me explain something. How do you like your bacon? Do you like your bacon cooked a little and still soft, or hard and crisp? Well, if I will eat a piece of bacon, I have to have it hard and crisp – and with a lot of maple syrup poured over the top. I believe I was at Hardee’s with my Grandma Barbra years ago when I made this revelation. This flavor of bacon with maple has followed me for years, but I was never a fan of bacon, so I was limited how I could use my discovery…

That is, until I found a popular appetizer appearing again and again on my family’s table. The little bacon wrapped brown sugar smokies would disappear just as fast as they would appear. I tried them, and I just wasn’t a fan. My Dad, Jamie, loves these as an appetizer, a meal, or a snack, so I found myself making them for him quite a bit. One day, I decided to experiment with the recipe, and finally use my maple and bacon flavor combination. I added a little maple syrup to the brown sugar smokies and added a little black pepper. Talk about all the difference in the world! My Dad, and everyone else, loved them! And guess what? I even liked them! There’s something about bacon, maple and black pepper that go together perfectly. I highly recommend you give this twist a try…

Maple Brown Sugar Smokies

These can be made ahead, baked off, and reheated in a 350 degree oven for about fifteen minutes. Instead of using pure maple syrup, substitute the same amount of pineapple juice for a fresh Hawaiian flavor. Also try serving these alongside a honey-mustard dipping sauce, or even a barbeque-based sauce!

1 pound of bacon
1 (16 oz.) package little smokie sausages
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon black pepper
Toothpicks, soaked in water

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and submerge toothpicks in a small bowl of water. This will ensure the toothpicks won’t burn in the oven.

Cut the pound of bacon, evenly, into thirds. Wrap each slice of bacon around a little smokie, and secure with a toothpick. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Continue wrapping bacon around the sausages, securing with a toothpick, and placing on the prepared baking sheet until all the bacon is used.

Sprinkle the light brown sugar evenly over all of the bacon wrapped smokies.

Next, drizzle over evenly the pure maple syrup, and sprinkle with the black pepper.

Place in preheated oven, until the bacon is crispy and the brown sugar melted, which will take about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Chew This! Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday!!! I am so excited to share this FOUR generations-old recipe with all of you! It was taught to me by my Mom, Darla Doubman – and it was taught to her by her Mom (my Grandma), Deloris Bolinger – and it was in turn taught to her my her Mom (my Great Grandma), Viola Davis.

FOUR generations…

I love old recipes like this that have history, memories and stories behind them. This can be made ahead, and served when ready. Perfect for entertaining!

Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, October 4th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Generational Casserole Recipe Wins Approval…
Blaise Doubman

I love recipes that have history around them. Recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation are not only some of the best, but some of my most popular recipes. No matter what food trends come and go (peanut butter flavored pickles, or coconut popcorn sorbet, anyone?) true and trusted “heirloom” recipes, are hard to beat. The recipe I’m sharing today has been in my family for years and years. I remember first learning about this from my Mom, Darla, when I was about five years old. It amazed me how such simple ingredients could come together to make such an incredible dish.

My Mom was taught this recipe from her Mom, my Grandma, Deloris Bolinger – who was in turn taught the recipe from her Mom, my Great Grandma, Viola Davis. Are you adding that up? That means this recipe is a four generations-old recipe! The stories and memories that go along with each recipe handed down to the next generation are some of my favorite growing up. Listening and watching my Mom teach me this recipe will then be shared with future generations and now here with all of you. I hope this recipe brings memories and stories to share with the ones you love – just like it’s done with mine.

Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

This casserole can be made ahead and placed in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, just remove from the refrigerator, place in preheated oven and bake. There really is no substitute for “Velveeta” – brand cheese. If you’re not a fan of using this type of cheese, give it another try. The taste and texture of this cheese has really improved, compared to other types of “processed cheese”, and the delicious “melting” of this type of cheese just can’t be beat…

2 pounds of Idaho baking potatoes
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound (16 oz.) Velveeta-brand cheese
2 small packages (or 1 large) mini sausages (28 oz. total)

Start by preparing the potatoes. Peel the potatoes, cut them into medium-sized cubes, and place in a large pot of salted boiling water over high heat until tender.

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the salted butter, white all-purpose flour, whole milk, salt, black pepper and Velveeta-brand cheese until melted, smooth and creamy. If any lumps are present, whisk with a wire whisk to remove them.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F and lightly grease a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the cooked potatoes in the dish, and spread out evenly.

Next, pour the cheese mixture over the potatoes, being sure to distribute evenly.

Before placing in the oven, spread the mini sausages, evenly, over the top of the cheese and potatoes. Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Remove and allow to cool very slightly before serving.

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Chew This! Sausage and Mozzarella Crostini

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday! I am so excited to share this delicious, versatile and easy recipe with all of you! It is a recipe that can be served for an appetizer, side dish with a salad, breakfast item or even a snack!

The secret ingredient here is fennel seed. I highly recommend you try it every single time you use sausage. The fennel seed pairs perfectly with the sausage, and gives your dish the perfect finishing touch.

Sausage and Mozzarella Crostini Chew This Blaise Doubman

Sausage and Mozzarella Crostini

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, August 2nd 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Simple appetizer to serve for entertaining…
Blaise Doubman

I love simple and easy appetizers that can be stretched and served with a big salad to compliment a meal. Sometimes, I actually make a meal of just the appetizers. And why not? Try a little of this – a little of that… It really gives you a chance to try the flavors and flavor combinations of a lot of different things all at once. So many appetizers can be difficult to make, so I wanted to create something that could be whipped up even last minute if need be, something memorable and something delicious.

Crostini, according to my research, is an Italian appetizer that contains a small slice of grilled or toasted bread, which is topped with different flavor combinations of toppings. I’ve had Crostini before, and there have always been a lot of ingredients involved. I wanted to create something that wouldn’t use many ingredients, yet still have optimal flavor. I decided to use sausage and mozzarella cheese. They compliment each other perfectly, and with the additional fennel seeds added to the sausage, the flavor is phenomenal! And here’s a tip – whenever you use sausage, add a little fennel seed. It really brings out the flavor of the sausage and really adds to the finished dish.

Sausage and Mozzarella Crostini

This fun and flavorful appetizer can be made in a variety of ways, and is very versatile. Use shredded cheddar cheese instead of shredded mozzarella cheese, add a little sliced tomato to the tops of each, use a milder sausage, use fresh basil or even experiment with using tomato sauce, or even different types of bread. Make a variety of each for your guests, and have fun! Experiment with flavors and textures. These are also ideal when paired with a salad, for the perfect light lunch. Once these are finished baking, and once removed from the oven, feel free to drizzle a little more olive oil over the tops for richness.

1 pound hot sausage
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, finely crushed
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ French baguette, sliced (about 20 slices)
Olive Oil
Salt
Black Pepper

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

Place the slices of baguette bread on the prepared baking sheet, and drizzle each piece of bread with a little olive oil.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the hot sausage with the finely crushed fennel seeds and mix until the seeds are blended with the sausage.

Next, spread the sausage evenly over each slice of bread.

Sprinkle the tops of each with the shredded mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven for exactly 20 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Double Batch Lasagna

I am telling you – this is the BEST lasagna recipe, and the only one you will ever need! Seriously – it is absolutely incredible! And you know what? The best part is it makes a DOUBLE BATCH! This means, one for now, and one for later! Yes, I am using a lot of exclamation points!!! See – here are more!!!

You COULD half this recipe, and only make one pan of lasagna, but why? Let us be honest – you will have the mess anyways, why not make TWO – one for now, and one for later!? Pop the other one in the refrigerator (for up to 3 days), or freezer (for up to 3 months) and throw the other one in the oven for one of the best lasagnas you have ever had! I promise…

Now, this lasagna is very “classic” in flavor. There is not any veal, and there is not any fire roasted tomatoes in this version. It is just a clean, classic and simple version that my family and friends LOVE! Anytime someone is sick, or happy, or pregnant, or divorcing, or ANYTHING in life – I always make and deliver this lasagna! (I took this to my friend Judy – who LOVED it and has requested it at least twice a month…) I typically serve this with garlic cheese bread and a salad. It is also good the next day – cold…or on bread…or toast…or battered and deep fried… Ha! Perfect anyway you slice it…

TRY IT! (You can thank me later…)

I got the inspiration from this recipe from my Aunt…Ree Drummond. You all may know her as “The Pioneer Woman”, but to me, she’s my “Aunt Ree Ree”.

Ok – so I stretched the truth a little. She’s not my Aunt…and I do not know her…but I tell people she is my Aunt just to get a reaction! Ha! Anyways, her recipe can be found here – http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/the_best_lasagn/ – but honestly, I DO like mine better. I have changed it to fit what works for ME. MY taste, what I like, how I like to make it and mine makes a DOUBLE batch – DOUBLE the fun!

Before you start – it is easier to get everything together in bowls, sections, however you lay out ingredients before hand…and then start and follow the recipe. Chop the fresh parsley, the basil, beat the eggs, etc. It will be SO much easier. Also – use foil pans. Seriously – it will be so much easier for storage, refrigerating, freezing, etc. Keep in mind though that you really need to keep the foil trays on a baking sheet while in the oven, cutting, etc. – just for safety reasons, spillage, etc. Carry on…

Double Batch Lasagna Blaise the Baker

Double Batch Lasagna

2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds hot sausage
4 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cans crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
4 cans tomato paste (6 oz each)
6 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
7 cups cottage cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 packages lasagna noodles (10 oz each)

Start by spraying 2 13×9-inch foil baking pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and salt the water heavily with Kosher salt, or in a pinch, regular table salt.

Once the water is boiling, put in both packages of lasagna noodles, and coax them all down into the boiling water. Be careful not to break them – in a few minutes time, the noodles will all fit – as long as your pot is big enough – I promise.

Boil them just until firm to the tooth – about 10 minutes. Read the package instructions just to double check on the time for your particular brand.

Drain them, allow to cool slightly, and arrange the noodles individually side by side (over lapping is fine) on your strainer. This is the best way of “laying out the noodles”.

Next, in a large skillet brown the ground beef and hot sausage, over medium-high heat. About half way through the cooking process, add in the minced garlic, and continue cooking the meat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain a little of the fat, and then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 4 tablespoons of the fresh parsley, the fresh basil, salt and black pepper. Stir, carefully, to combine and allow to simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally – and tasting occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated parmesan cheese, and (why not?) a little more salt and black pepper.

Now – you are ready to layer! The fun part…

Start by arranging four noodles on the bottom of each pan. Layer like this…

About 4 noodles first – on the bottom. Then, a little of the cottage cheese mixture, then the shredded mozzarella cheese, then the meat mixture. Layer and layer in BOTH PANS like this, until you are out of ingredients, and END with the meat mixture on top. Sprinkle on more grated parmesan cheese all over the top of both.

IF BAKING – Place in preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes on a flat baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes for a “softer” edge lasagna, 40 minutes for a more “crunchy” edge lasagna… I prefer the 40 minute option…

IF FREEZING – Snap on plastic lid that comes with foil container, and place in freezer for up to 3 months.

IF REFRIGERATING – Snap on plastic lid that comes with foil container, and place in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

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Cheese and Sausage Bites

I am in LOVE with these little cheese and sausage bites! They remind me of portable cheese and sausage biscuits and go perfect with eggs in the morning!

Do not get me wrong though…they can be served anytime and are delicious served hot, room temperature or cold.

Cheese and Sausage Balls Blaise the Baker

Cheese and Sausage Bites

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound hot sausage
2 cups biscuit mix (Such as “Jiffy” Brand)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the shredded cheese, sausage, salt and pepper together in a large bowl, using clean hands to thoroughly mix everything together.

Add the 2 cups of biscuit mix, and once again, combine together with clean hands.

Roll the mixture into tablespoon size (approximately) balls and place on ungreased baking sheet.

Place in preheated oven for 23 minutes.

Remove.

Enjoy!

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Beef and Sausage WonTon Cups

“Blaise the Baker” is COOKING! Ha! 😉

Today’s recipe is inspired by a dear friend and family member. Her name is Paula Arnett and she is a sweetheart. 

I have always loved wonton cups and I find these simply incredible! They do not need much improvement, but I changed them a little to suit my tastes – which you can do as well! That is the beauty of this recipe…it is not only delicious, easy and simple…it is also very versatile!

Won Ton's Blog

Beef and Sausage WonTon Cups

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound “hot” sausage
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1/3 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 16 oz package WonTon wrappers (larger 3 1/2 inch squares)

You can locally find the WonTon wrappers in your local produce department.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the ground beef and hot sausage. After fully browned, drain the fat.

Spray muffin tins lightly with cooking spray.

Line muffin tin (little or larger size tins will both work – just adjust the cooking time depending on the size. This recipe was used with the “larger” – regular size muffin tins) with the WonTon wrappers. Be sure to only use ONE wrapper – they are thin and sometimes tricky to work with. Just lay the wrapper over the tin and push it gently into the muffin tin creating a “flute” around the edge.

Place into the 350 degree preheated oven for 6 minutes to bake the shells.

Combine the cooked ground beef and sausage mixture with the cheese, Ranch dressing and chopped green pepper.

After the shells have baked 6 minutes, remove from oven and spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture into each cup.

Return to the oven and bake for another 8 minutes.

Enjoy!

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