HOLIDAY CHEDDAR SHORTBREAD

Every year, I make my mom’s recipe for cheddar shortbread for Thanksgiving. It’s one of my traditional appetizers for the holiday, but it makes a great appetizer or snack for fall or holiday parties. 

By using fun bite-sized cookie cutters, these crackers look gourmet without much work at all. I get so many compliments on these every year because they look fancy and they’re full of rich cheesy, spicy flavor. 

These are really easy to make too. You just put the dough together, pat and roll it down, cut the shapes out of whatever type of cookie cutters you have, and bake for a few minutes.

These can be made in less than an hour from start to finish, including putting them on a plate with a fancy cheese ball if you desire. This recipe makes a full plate of crackers, as shown. I’ve never counted how many crackers I get, but it yields enough for a decent size tray to bring to a party. This could easily be doubled if you wanted more.

HOLIDAY CHEDDAR SHORTBREAD

HOLIDAY CHEDDAR SHORTBREAD 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (8 oz. pkg.) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. dry mustard (this year I used 1 full tsp. for some more flavor)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (omit if you do not want some spice)
  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. 
  2. Mix together cheese, flour, mustard, cayenne, salt. Mix in melted butter, working mixture with your hands. Add a tablespoon of water if needed if dough feels too dry and crumbly. Dough will be crumbly, though. 
  3. On a floured surface, roll half of dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with leaf or other shape cookie cutter.
  4. Repeat with other half of dough. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. 
  5. Cool on wire rack before arranging on plate. Best served with a cheese ball or other cheese spread.

These crackers are so cheesy, buttery and delicious. The addition of the mustard and cayenne gives them a slight kick of spice, but not in a “OMG too spicy” way at all.

If you truly dislike spice, omit the cayenne, but don’t leave out the dry mustard. That really makes the cheese flavor in these pop. Sharp cheddar is an absolute must too for that distinct cheese flavor. Another cheese would be fun to try, like pepper jack or Parmesan, though. 

If you like Cheez-Its, I promise you will love these. I personally think these are way better than Cheez-Its too, and I’m a big Cheez-Its fan. Any cheese or cracker lover will gobble these right up. They certainly didn’t last long at Thanksgiving this year. 

Questions for You: 

  • Do you have any appetizers you make year after year for the holidays? 
  • Cheese fan or no?

Best BBQ Grill Smoker Combo For Every Budget

Whenever you want to enjoy some good times outdoors with friends, then a BBQ sounds right. A nice BBQ is great to spend time with family enjoying some of the best meals. That being said, you might not be so sure about which grills are the best to buy right now. Do not let that worry you as we are here to learn about some of the best BBQ grill smoker combo to buy right now. Being a smoker and grill eliminates the need for having two separate units. Let us look at what options we have on the market.

Traeger Grill TFB65LZBC Texas Elite 34 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

The unit uses wood pellets as a source of fuel to grill or smoke your meals. With wood pellets, you never have to worry about the mess that comes with charcoal or the expense of using gas for grilling. Also, the food will generally taste better as compared to using the other sources of fuel. Make sure that you use the recommended wood pellet grills by the manufacturer to end up with delicious meals.

Users find the unit being versatile when it comes to cooking. This is because of the many modes you can choose from when you want to cook. These modes include hot and fast, low and slow, roasting, braise, bake, and much more. With such versatility, it should be easy to cook different types of foods for your family and guests.

The model on overall offers the user the best temperature control. This is thanks to having a precision digital controller for the temperature. It can maintain a temperature of 25 degrees within the desired temperature range. Such control should be great for grilling.

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Precision temperature control
  • Impressive cooking capacity

Cons

  • Heavy making mobility hard

Camp Chef Woodwind Classic Pellet Grill with Sear Box

For those who might be looking to host a party, then this should be a nice consideration. With its smart smoke technology, the model is able to maintain the smoke delivery for the best cooking. Also, the automatic auger will keep feeding the pellets into the grill. The result is that you can now have consistent heat in the smoker grill without checking on it all the time.

Many should find the model having the best versatility. This is because it has several modes such as grilling, baking, smoking, braise, and barbecue. With its capability of temperatures ranging from 160 degrees to 500 degrees F, it should allow you to cook whatever you want.

To make it even better, this model comes with a huge cooking area of 570 square inches. Since the upper warming rack is also removable, it can be removed to create more room for cooking. As a result, it can hold enough food to feed your neighborhood.

Pros

  • Impressive versatility
  • Great patented ash cleanout system
  • Smart smoke technology

Cons

  • The high temperatures can lead to burns if not careful

Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22”

This one has a unique design as compared to the other two mentioned above. The model features a ceramic body, which should be ideal for charcoal use. With the ceramic material, the cooker will not lose a lot of energy.

It also comes with a cast iron top tamper. This will give you full control over the overall airflow. You can now set the cooking temperature just as you want.

The solid bamboo side shelves are also sturdy enough to provide the best durability. You can use them to hold your food before or after grilling. They also fold away for ease of storage. Having the dual-tier cooking grates provides you with more space for cooking. You should also love it for its mobility thanks to having caster wheels.

Pros

  • Bamboo side shelves provide more space
  • It offers even cooking heat throughout the grill
  • Great for burning charcoal

Cons

  • Ceramic construction is not as durable as steel

Conclusion

If you are always looking to have a good time enjoying outdoor meals, then the above models will help you achieve just that. We have reviewed the top models with all the essential features you might want in the best BBQ grill smoker combo. Whichever you pick, you can be sure to end up with a great unit.

Baby Back vs Spare Ribs

One dilemma faced by those who love steak is the dilemma of baby back vs spareribs. To settle once in for all this dilemma, it would be good to know the difference between these two types of steak cuts. Back ribs are derived from the part of the pig’s body wherein the spine meets the rib after the loin has been removed. The spareribs, on the other hand, are taken from the pig’s lower portion, along the breastbone and the belly, just behind the shoulder.

Differences between Baby Back and Spareribs

The other names for baby back ribs are back ribs, pork loin, loin ribs, and back ribs. The baby back ribs refer to the upper ribs. These ribs are called “baby” because they are shorter as compared to the larger spareribs. The average baby back rib usually consists of 10 to 13 curved ribs.

Each baby back rib is usually 3-6 inches long. It also weighs around two pounds and could feed two persons. Baby back ribs are also lean and very tender. They are also usually more popular than the spareribs. Thus, they are more expensive than spareribs.

The spareribs, on the other hand, is also called “breastbone-off pork spareribs.” The spareribs are characterized by meaty rib cuts derived from the cow’s belly after removing the belly. The hard breastbone along with the chewy cartilage is cut away, making it look a bit rectangular.

The spareribs are also flatter compared to the baby back ribs and are not difficult to brown. The spareribs also carry more fat that provides more flavor to the meat.

Each slab of spareribs weighs around 2 1/2 pounds and can feed up to four people. The sparerib is also less expensive than the baby back ribs.

Cooking Difference between Spareribs and Baby Back Ribs

Spareribs are a type of cuts of meat that you can use for slow-roasting barbecue. Since the baby back ribs are smaller and leaner in size than the spareribs, the time for cooking the baby back ribs is faster than that of the spareribs. On the other hand, spareribs take longer to cook than the baby back ribs.

In the southern U.S., spareribs are very popular. They are either cooked on an open fire or barbecue. They are also served as bones-and-all or slab along with a sauce. Spareribs may be derived from the pig’s rib cage along the belly side and just underneath the back ribs.

Pork spareribs have a flatter appearance than the curved back ribs. Moreover, they contain more bones. Spareribs also contain some fat that gives the ribs its tenderness.

Spareribs can also be taken from the cattle’s rib cage along its belly side. The spareribs of beef are longer and wider and appear to be more curved than that of the pork spareribs. Moreover, spareribs are usually eaten individually or alone by hand. The one who eats usually gnawed off on the meat that adheres to the bone.

St. Louis Cut Ribs

The St. Louis Cut Ribs are also pork spareribs wherein the rib tips are already removed. The rib tips include the sternum bone, surrounding meat, and the cartilage. St. Louis Cut Ribs come in rectangular shapes.

St. Louis Cut Ribs appear to be flatter than that of the baby back ribs. Thus, they are easier to brown. They also contain lots of bone, along with a great amount of fat. Furthermore, if you cook them properly, you will end up having a flavorful food. The St. Louis Cut ribs are also less expensive compared to the baby back ribs.

St. Louis Cut Ribs, just like the baby back ribs, require slow low heat cooking time to make it more tender and flavorful. They are also ideal for grilling, braising, and smoking. Moreover, you can cook them using an oven. They are also best cooked along with spice rubs and sauces.

St. Louis Cut Ribs are larger in sizes, which means you will take longer to cook them compared to the simple pork spareribs. You will take around one and a half of the time that you use to cook baby back ribs. So, if you are cooking at 300°F, it will take you around two hours to cook baby back ribs. On the other hand, using the same level of heat, it will take you up to three hours to cook the St. Louis ribs. 

Conclusion

The dilemma of back ribs vs spareribs all boils down to your preference. Both are popular among diners. However, since the spareribs contain more fat, they are more flavorful compared to the back ribs. Moreover, their sizes spell out the difference in cooking. The spareribs are larger and thus takes more time to cook than the baby back ribs.

Shoulder Roast Vs Chuck Roast

In the market today, there is a difficulty identifying between a shoulder roast and a chuck roast. This is because of the two pork are a bunch of red meat. The significant difference between these two types of meat is that they have different cuts.

While chuck roast pork is extracted from a part of the shoulder meat, shoulder roast meat is extracted from the whole meat are the soldier region. Since you are not getting it simple differentiating between these two products, this article has been written to help you choose the right beef between the shoulder roast and chuck roast.

Shoulder Roast

The shoulder roast is a no less cut of beef that is extracted from the shoulder region. It is a large beef that can feed a huge population adequately at a single time. Most time, chefs recommend cooking and braising these meats in liquid for a short period.

However, you can also spice and dry roast this meat in a hot oven which makes it a tasty beef roast. While roasting these meats, it is advisable to slice it against the grain in other to enhance this roast pleasant taste and texture.

A shoulder roast is leaner and would benefit from added fat. When compared with a chuck roast, this pork is less tender and needs a low and slow treatment to make it tender.

Shoulder roast can be cooked in a slow cooker or the oven on a low temp for some hours until the internal temp reaches 150 for medium. You tend to get more of these beef during the cooler months and is a hearty piece of meat. It is a great option for making chop meat.

Chuck Roast

A chuck roast is also known as shoulder steak, boneless chuck roast, or chuck shoulder pot roast. This pork is extracted from the shoulder and neck region of the animal. Unlike a shoulder roast or a brisket, a chuck roast is fattier meat and has a richer taste.

However, it contains a high level of saturated fats which might not be an ideal one for people who intend to burn fat. With the shoulder muscles running in different directions in this meat, it is often tricky to slice this pork into pieces and would require tools to do so.

A chuck roast is tender meat and would need you to cook it for a long time. Nevertheless, it is essential to know that this meat should be prepared with more care in other to prevent it from drying out or toughen up.

How to choose between a shoulder roast and a chuck roast

Choosing between a shoulder roast and a chuck roast can be a little bit tricky since the two are extracted from the shoulder of a cow. Therefore, whenever you have decided to go for any of this pork, here some factors to consider and features to look in for in other to make the right choice.

Tender

If you are in search of less tender roast meat that can be quickly cooked within a short time, a shoulder roast is what you are looking for. These meats can be prepared in less than some hours and can be eaten by both the young and the old. On the other hand, chuck roast is very tender best that see not only hard to divide into pieces but require a long period to be adequately cooked

Quantity

Another vital factor to consider before choosing between a shoulder roast and a chuck roast is the about of meat that each pork has. For a shoulder roast, you tend to get a large amount of beef to cook for a family reunion party. A chuck roast would also provide you with a large number of meats to cook any food you want.

Price

It is essential for you to know the about of meat you are purchasing before going for any. A slice of chuck meat comes at a relatively high price than shoulder meat which means you would need to get some extra bucks before going for a chuck roast meat.

Cooking Methods

Both the chuck meat and shoulder roast meat have different kinds of cooking methods to get them ready. You can decide to roast, braise, grill or smoke them depending on your choice.