Jersey Artisan Distillery

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This Busted Barrel Rum is what inspired me to create my Bruce Juice cocktail. While it is definitely a craft sipping rum, I have found that it makes for a great cocktail too!

So a few months ago, I went down to Fairfield, New Jersey to visit one of the first distilleries in New Jersey to open since prohibition.

I was greeted by Brant Braue who is one of the two owners of Jersey Artisan Distillery. Brant was nice enough to take some time out of his day to give me a tour of his distillery which was already in full-gear producing their Busted Barrel Rum.

brant

This is definitely a guy who wears multiple hats, not only making mash and hand-labeling bottles but answering phones and whatever else needed to be done. Without any paid staff in the building he works over a 70 hour work week. You definitely have to love what you do to keep up that pace!

During my tour he spoke about everything from the molasses that they purchase from Louisiana – which they use 3,000 pounds of each week - to his vision about producing 25,000 gallons of spirits a year.

As an engineer by trade, Brant said that he was always fascinated by the chemical process behind distilling spirits. The ingredients for this rum are combined and fermented in plastic barrels and then boiled in copper cauldrons.

mash

When the liquid vaporizes, it floats up into large columns where the vapors separate, cool, then are condensed into a concentrated alcohol that flows out into containers.

The rum is then aged  for four months in charred American white oak barrels to give it that “dark rum” golden color.

containers

It was really cool to have a private tour with Brant and learn about a craft that he is so passionate about. Kind of makes you want to quit your job an open your own distillery…

Hopefully next time I take a ride down there I can meet Krista Haley who is an attorney by trade and is also busy expanding their spirit-base by diving into gin, vodka and whiskey. They plan to use produce from Jersey such as strawberries, raspberries and sweet corn. Or maybe next time I can catch them both together at their newly designed tasting room!

I hope he keep me on the short-list for that first batch of rum he produced!

Well, a guy can hope…

 

The BBQ Dragon

 

bbq-dragon-xl

*photo courtesy of uncrate.com

This BBQ Dragon Fire Supercharger will get you using your grill a lot more…

Can you tell that I’m excited for summer to start? Grilling is the way to go- not so many pots and pans to clean, being outside more in the nice weather. And food just tastes better on the grill.

We all love to grill, especially on a charcoal grill. You get the real flavor of barbecuing, some guys I know won’t grill on anything else. 

But in our constantly moving fast-paced world we live in, having an hour to get your coals ready isn’t always an option.

That’s why you need the BBQ Dragon. It will start the flame going on your charcoal grill in ten minutes. No more prepping your grill for 45 minutes, or dealing with the way that the wind is blowing that day.

The BBQ Dragon has a variable speed motor that allows you to control the amount of air that you need for your fire – turn it up high for a bonfire on a beach or turn it way down low for your indoor fireplace or your smoker. It won’t blow ash all over either because the fan blows the cool air at a low velocity.

One of the cool things this gadget does is start outdoor pizza ovens in half the time - I do have a friend that built a pizza oven in his backyard, which is good for me, delicious homemade pizza that’s only about a block away. But he does say that it takes a long time to get the fire going and at the right temperature.

It would be interesting to test it out over there and see how well it works. Then maybe he could make us up some more pizza…

This would be the perfect gift for anyone who loves to grill, or just for yourself to make your life a little bit easier.

Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon

 Bacon deviled eggs

Turn your leftover Easter eggs into these Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon! Now that Easter is over we have a large bowl filled with hard-boiled, dyed eggs in the refrigerator. Every year I say that we should just dye a few so we don’t have all these eggs leftover but the kids like doing it so much we always seem to get carried away. So after a few breakfasts of hard-boiled eggs, or a couple of egg salad lunches..you start to get a little bored. I think this recipe might help you out with that boredom –  cause there’s nothing boring about these deviled eggs! First you “candy” your bacon. A really easy process that I almost wish I had never tried. It’s like bacon heaven. Sweet and slightly spicy from the cayenne pepper and all the saltiness from the bacon…it’s awesome. I found this recipe from Kelsey Nixon’s on the Cooking Channel and I followed it pretty closely, the only thing that I did change was the amount of bacon. 3 slices? Really? I’m not making 3 slices of candied bacon. I used 8. You make a mixture of brown sugar, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over your slices of bacon and put them into the oven to cook, then you flip them over and repeat on the other side.

bacon slices After you take your bacon out, let it sit for a few minutes so the brown sugar-coating hardens a bit. While the bacon’s cooking you can boil the eggs. Place your eggs in the bottom of a pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Once it boils, put the lid on and turn off the heat. Let the eggs sit for 12 -15 minutes for perfect hard-boiled eggs. Make your deviled egg filling by popping out the yolks and mixing them with cayenne, some of the chopped up bacon, scallions, apple cider vinegar, mustard, dill and worcestershire sauce. Then all that’s left is to fill the eggs and top them with some of the leftover chopped candied bacon.

Bacon deviled eggs

 You’ll never eat deviled eggs again without candied bacon…actually I don’t think I’ll eat anything again without candied bacon. 

Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon
Serves 24
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Ingredients
  1. 6 T. brown sugar
  2. 1 t. cayenne pepper
  3. 1 t. cinnamon
  4. 12 hard boiled eggs, sliced lengthwise
  5. 1/4 cup to a 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  6. 1 T. whole grain mustard
  7. 1 1 /2 T chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  8. 1 T. cider vinegar
  9. 1 1/2 t. worcestershire sauce
  10. 1/2 t. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lay out the bacon on a wire rack over a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture over the bacon and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Take the bacon out, flip over and top with the rest of the brown sugar mixture. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  3. Let cool, then chop into small pieces.
  4. Pop the yolks out of the hard boiled eggs and put in a medium bowl along with the mustard, dill, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and 3/4 of the candied bacon.
  5. Start by adding 1/4 cup of mayonnaise to the egg yolk mixture and stir until well blended. Add in more mayonnaise if you need the mixture creamier.
  6. Fill the eggs with a heaping teaspoon of the yolk mixture and top with fresh dill and remaining candied bacon.
Adapted from http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/deviled-eggs-with-candied-bacon.html
Mantitlement http://www.mantitlement.com/

Cucumber Mint Gimlet

cucumber mint gimlet

 

We’re having the whole family over this year and I’m going to be making a large pitcher of these Cucumber Mint Gimlets.

The las two years in a row now that we’ve hosted Easter we have lost power. Like right in the middle of throwing our food in the oven…lights out…no power. Not just once but two years in a row. We were actually joking about how “last year all the power went out right before dinner” and then it was out. Again.

Thankfully we cook with gas so we could still finish the cooking, but sitting around the table with no lights or TV, there’s not much to do but pour another drink and wait for the power to come back on.

So I’d become the bartender, making martinis or pouring bourbon, whatever anyone wanted to drink to pass the time. Both times that this happened the power did come back on in time for us to eat dinner so I guess the evening wasn’t a complete disaster.

This year I was looking at drinks to make ahead of time, just in case we lose power again… and I found these Cucumber Mint Gimlets. I thought these gimlets would go very well sitting next to the big pitcher of Bloody Mary’s that we always seem to have around at Easter.

The cucumber really stands out in these drinks because you actually puree a bunch of cucs up to make a “cucumber juice” to add to the  gin, mixed with a little sugar, mint and some fresh squeezed lemon and then you can store it in a pitcher to chill in the fridge.

cucumber mint gimlet

These drinks are definitely strong, but somehow they seems a little “lighter” than having a scotch at noon. And also a little more guy-friendly than Mimosas.

I hope you try them this weekend, I’m sure they’ll be a hit – with or without the power on.

Cucumber Mint Gimlet
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 4 english cucumbers. peeled, seeded and pureed
  2. 1/3 cup lemon juice
  3. 8 sprigs of fresh mint
  4. 1/4 cup of sugar
  5. 2 cups of gin
Instructions
  1. Strain the cucumber puree through a fine strainer over a bowl to collect the juice.
  2. Muddle the mint with the lemon juice and sugar in the bottom of a pitcher with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the cucumber juice and the gin and stir.
  4. Serve over ice with more mint for garnish.
Adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/cucumber-mint-gimlets-recipe.html#!
Mantitlement http://www.mantitlement.com/

Tired of Ham?

Alternative ham dinners

Are you tired of ham? Looking for something different for your Holiday Meal?

I love ham. I don’t get tired of it easily. Glazed Ham, Spiral Sliced Ham, Ham Steaks, leftover ham. However you can make it.

Actually my new favorite way to eat ham is this Sweet Baked Ham from Mel’s Kitchen.

sweet baked ham

*photo courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen

It’s totally addictive, once you start eating it you can stop. It’s also a great way to feed a crowd for a party, you can prep it ahead of time and just throw it in the oven an hour before you need it.

But I know there are some of you that don’t like ham or are just looking for something different to make for Easter or your next holiday so I got together a list of some recipes that will give you some different options.

These Grilled Baby Lamb Chops from Food Fanatics look incredible!

Grilled baby lamb chops

*photo courtesy of Food Fanatics

I love the combination of Greek flavors in the seasonings…and that you marinate these lamb chops for 12 hours in the fridge. Those lamb chops are going to be mighty tasty. Easy to make too, cook them up on your grill and you have lamb for all! 

And how about these Honey-Lime Glazed Cornish Game Hens from Weber.com?

Cornish Hens

*photo courtesy of Weber.com

Another recipe that will be pretty easy to make for a crowd. You marinate the birds in some rosemary, thyme, garlic, honey and lime juice for a few hours and then cook them on the grill for 40 minutes. Easy and delicious.

For something not on the grill, how about this Braised Beef Braciole stuffed with Basil and Mozzarella?

Braciole

*photo courtesy of Honest Cooking

I love a good braciole, I usually have it slow-cooked in the oven and covered with a marinara sauce, so tender that it practically falls apart. But this stuffed braciole from Honest Cooking looked so interesting. And awesome. Stuffed with a mixture of mozzarella, parmesan, basil and breadcrumbs and simmered in a mushroom and onion sauce. How could you go wrong with that? Definitely a must try in my book.

If you’re looking for something impressive, try this Roast Pork Loin with Bacon and Brown Sugar Glaze from the Comfort of Cooking.

Pork Loin

*photo courtesy of Comfort of Cooking

It’s got all my favorite flavors, bacon, brown sugar and cumin made into a dry rub for the pork and then sealed in with layers of bacon on top. Sign me up for that one.

Let me know if you end up trying one of these recipes out for Easter, or any family dinner you have coming up. I’ll be going through them one by one!