Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup & fresh Italian bread

This is a great easy to make hearty soup for a cold winter day or a Meatless Monday!

This would also be an awesome meal to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day, which is just around the corner!

Cook / Prep Time – about an hour

Servings – 4


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (I used the baby ones)
  • 1 1/2 lb leeks (white and pale green parts) washed and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the onions, celery, leeks and the shallot. Cover and and cook from 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Do not brown them. Add the stock, potatoes, bay leaf and half of the chopped chives. Cover and reduce to low heat and cook for another 30 – 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Remove and discard the bay leaf. Turn the heat off and add the milk ,half and half and nutmeg.Using a blender or an immersion blender, and process until smooth. Put it back on the heat to heat it back up and serve. Top with the remaining chopped chives. That’s it!

Suggested music to listen to while preparing the soup….

Since the very talented singer / songwriter Carole King had a birthday this week, how about “Tapestry” her classic album released in 1971?

Air Fried Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky is very easy to make, and you can customize the flavor you want by simply manipulating the marinade ingredients!

This is a basic recipe for regular beef jerky that I made, but you can make it more sweet or more spicy by having fun and being creative with the marinade.

I used an air fryer that has a dehydrate function. If you use a dehydrator, temperatures may vary.

Cook / Prep Time – overnight plus three hours

Yield – plan on losing about 60 % of the original weight of the beef due to moisture loss.


  • 1/2 lb thin sliced eye of round
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 tbsp smoked sea salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar (I used maple sugar, but you can use white or brown)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 drops liquid smoke

As long as you start with a soy sauce base, you can add more or less sugar, pepper, garlic, liquid smoke, and seasonings. You can use crushed red pepper flakes, honey, hot sauce or wine. You can add onions or jalapeños to the marinade. Teriyaki flavor? Add ginger and pineapple juice. It all depends what kind of flavor profile you’re looking for.

* Our local Publix grocery store stocks thin sliced eye of round, but you may need to ask your butcher to slice some for you.

Mix the marinade ingredients together and add the sliced beef strips. Place in a ziplock bag and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, drain and discard the marinade, squeezing the liquid out of the beef. Place the strips, sides not touching, on the air fryer baskets. Set at dehydrate at 160 degrees for one hour and turn the strips after 30 minutes. After one hour, turn the dehydrate temperate down to 120 degrees for two hours, again turning the strips around every 30 minutes. That’s it! Happy jerking!


Suggested music to listen to while preparing the jerky…..

“Walls and Bridges” a John Lennon album released in 1974 featuring the songs “Whatever Gets You Thtu the Night” , #9 Dream, and of course “Beef Jerky”

Braised Beef Tips & Noodles

This is an awesome dish to warm you up on a cold winters night!

This dish is similar to beef stew but without the carrots and potatoes. I highly recommend using chuck roast for the beef rather than round steak or sirloin. The chuck has to cook (braise) on low heat and takes a while but it becomes very tender and it oozes flavor when finished. It’s well worth the effort!

Braise is a cooking method by which food (usually meat or vegetables) is first browned in fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy period of time. The long, slow cooking develops flavor and tenderizes foods by gently breaking down their fibers. Braising can be done on top of the range or in the oven. A tight fitting lid is very important to prevent the liquid from evaporating.

—- from “Food Lover’s Companion”

Cook / Prep Time – about 3 hours

Servings – 2 or 3

  • 6 oz dried egg noodles
  • 1 pound boneless chuck
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups of beef or bone broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 large rib of celery
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 (14.5 oz) can of petite diced tomatoes (I put the other half can in a small freezer bag and store in the freezer for next time)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (I recommend the tube type)
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp granulated onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grape seed or canola oil

Trim the chuck and cut into 1 inch cubes and dry them on a paper towel. Mix the flour, salt, pepper and granulated onion together. in a cast iron or carbon steel skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Dredge the beef cubes in the seasoned flour and shake off excess flour.

Slowly place the beef cubes in the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Cook in a couple batches if needed.

Brown the beef cubes on all sides. Peel and chop the onion and garlic while browning the beef. Slice the celery diagonally into 1/4 inch slices. When the beef is totally browned, add the onion, celery and garlic and continue to sauté on medium heat.

When the onions are starting to brown, turn to medium high heat and add the beef broth, wine, soy and Worcestershire sauce. Cook the mixture until it comes to a boil. Add the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pour the beef mixture into a Dutch oven and cover. The broth may seem watery at this point, but it will thicken in the oven.

Place the pot in the oven , cover and and cook for 1 hour, stirring about after 30 minutes. When the hour is up, stir again. Remove the lid and put back in the oven for another hour, stirring after the first 30 minutes. The beef tips should be very tender and the sauce thickened at this point. If not, continue to cook until the beef is very tender.

Cook the egg noodles according to the package instructions. Drain them and and add a little olive oil, salt and pepper to the noodles.

Serve the beef tips with or over noodles. That’s it!


Suggested music for your listening pleasure while preparing the beef tips….

After watching an hour of the Grammy awards last night, I would suggest listening to some of the best from this talented piano player / singer songwriter, Alicia Keys. That girl is on fire! Check out her version of The Rolling Stones song “Wild Horses” among others, but I highly recommend not listening to “Earthquake” an absolutely horrible song performed by someone called “Tyler, the Creator” at the Grammy Awards. You’re welcome!

Air Fried Bourbon / Hot Honey Glazed Pork Belly Candy

You can call these sweet, hot, salty morsels Pork Belly Burnt Ends, Pork Belly Bites, Pork Belly Candy, Pork Crack, or you can just call them delicious!

These would make a great Super Bowl appetizer, and as of this writing, my Tennessee Titans have a real chance (win and in Sunday) to get there!

Let’s get to the recipe….

Cook / Prep Time – marinade overnight then 2 hours

Yield : about 12 ounces of belly bites

  • 1 pound skinless pork belly
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked sea salt
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • 3 tbs hot honey

Score the fatty top of the pork belly. Cut into slices, then cut the slices into 1/2 inch cubes.

In a mixing bowl, add all the rest of the ingredients except the hot honey and mix well. Pour the marinade over the cubes and place in flat dish or ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain and discard the marinade. Dry the cubes as much as possible on a paper towel. Set the cubes on a wire rack with a drip tray underneath and place them in the air fryer set at 325 degrees for one hour, turning after 30 minutes.

Pull the cubes out of the oven and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the hot honey and mix well.

Place them back in the air fryer at 225 degrees for another hour, checking and turning every 15 minutes That’s it!


Suggested songs to listen to while preparing the pork crack….

Since yesterday was Ronnie Milsap’s 77th birthday, and I am a fan, how about his new album “The Duets” where he teams up with Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, George Strait, Leon Russel and others on some of his greatest songs?


Pork Loin & Sauerkraut

Happy New Year! This delicious combination of pork, sauerkraut, shallots, apples and potatoes hits the mark of several taste sensations – sweet, sour, salty and savory. It’s also believed to bring good luck!
I fixed this on New Year’s Day this year because many cultures believe that this dish brings good luck and fortune because pigs root around with their snouts in a forward motion and we want to move forward, not backward in the new year. Pork is also rich in fat, promising prosperity. The long strands of sauerkraut represent a long life to be lived, and the green color of cabbage that sauerkraut is made from symbolizes cash money. Count me in!

Servings – 3-4

Cook / Prep time – about 3 1/2 hours

  • 1 1/2 lbs bone in pork loin (may use boneless)
  • 1 – 32 oz bag refrigerated sauerkraut
  • 2 Fuji apples
  • 1/2 lb small red potatoes
  • 3 shallots
  • 1/2 bottle Riesling ( or apple cider)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Score the fat cap on the pork loin. Season with salt and pepper and sear on all sides. Rinse the sauerkraut in a colander and place it in a Dutch oven. When the pork loin is seared, place it in the middle of the sauerkraut. Add the half bottle of Riesling or cider and drink the rest.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Dice the shallots and add around the sauerkraut. Sprinkle the brown sugar around the sauerkraut. Peel and dice the apples and add around the pork loin.

Sprinkle with the smoked paprika. Cover and place in the oven for 3 hours or until pork loin is 160 degrees. Rest pork loin for 15 minutes before slicing. Thats it!


Side note – I won 10 dollars on a scratch off lottery last week. Coincidence? I think not!

Suggested songs to listen to while preparing the pork loin….

“ Luck Man” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer from their album “ Emerson, Lake & Palmer” released in 1970.

“You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from their 1982 album “Long After Dark”

“With a Little Luck” by Paul McCartney from his 1987 album “All the Best”

“Luck Be a Lady” by Frank Sinatra from his 1965 album “Sinatra ‘65: The Singer Today”

10 Foods That Will Bring You Good Luck in the New Year Recipe | Bon Appétit

From pork to bagels to cakes hiding secret coins, here are 10 foods to bring you good luck in the New Year
— Read on www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/slideshow/foods-to-bring-good-luck-new-year

Apricot Almond Logs

When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, I always looked forward to tasting our Uncle Leo’s apricot bars around Christmas time. Our grandparents and him lived a couple of hundred miles from us in northwest Iowa and we would sometimes visit them around Christmas. Our uncle Leo always made candy for us when we would visit, usually his world famous fudge and apricot bars. If we didn’t visit, him and our aunt Marie would send some to our house around Christmas. She made some delicious green mint leaf marzipan type candy, too.

I still always imagine the taste of those delicious apricot bars around Christmas, and wish I had the recipe. Unfortunately, both our aunt and uncle have both been deceased for several years.

I called my father to see if maybe he had the recipe, but he did not, and he referred me to my sister Cathy. Maybe she had the recipe? Nope. Rats!

We both decided to research apricot bars online, and Cathy’s husband John sent me one that he found online that he thought looked similar. I used that recipe as a base, but made a few changes to try to mimic our uncle Leo’s recipe and came up with these.

While these are delicious and taste very similar, the texture is not quite the same. His tasted a little leathier, almost like a thick fruit roll up. If any of our Joynt cousins read this and have Leo’s recipe, by all means send it to me!

Oh well, I will enjoy these this year and experiment again next year!

Cook/Prep time – about 4 hours

Yield – 2 logs


  • 1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 6 chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup sweetened desiccated (finely chopped) coconut
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds

Place the apricots and dates in a saucepan. Cover them with the coconut water. Let them cook until softened and strain them, pushing as much liquid as possible out of them.

Place in a bowl and add the orange rind and golden raisins. Place the fruits in a food processor and chop them well. This will make a paste. Press the paste onto waxed paper and let it dry in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Mix the coconut together with the coconut. Chop the almonds.

Spread the coconut sugar mixture onto a counter.

When the fruit is chilled, place it on top of the coconut mixture.

Sprinkle the almonds on the mixture.

Roll up jelly roll style. Roll into a long log then cut it in half to make two logs.

Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator or freezer to chill again.

Cut and serve as needed.

That’s it! Enjoy!

Suggested music to enjoy while making the apricot logs…..

Since Keith Richards turns 76 today, and he’s likely to live to be 150, how about The Rolling Stones “Hot Rocks 1964 – 1971 ? A classic album released in December 1971.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup (from fresh elderberries)

For the past couple of years, we have been taking elderberry syrup during the flu season. It is supposed to lessen flu symptoms and boost the immune system, but the price of is almost $2.50 per ounce, Ouch! So early last spring, we bought a small elderberry bush from a local nursery. We brought it home and planted it in our front flowerbed.

The plant took off like a rocket! Over the summer, it grew to about 12 feet and flowered like crazy! The flowers turned into berries, and we netted the berries to keep the birds away. We harvested the berries in the late summer and put them in the freezer to be used during the winter to make our own elderberry syrup, so here we are…..

In the early fall, we (or I should say my wife Susan) dug the plant up and transplanted it to the backyard down by the woods because it was getting too big and quite invasive and sending suckers up around it. The good news is that it seemed to take in the backyard and can grow like crazy next summer.

Cook/Prep Time – about an hour

Yield – about 10 ounces of syrup


  • 1 cup fresh frozen elderberries

  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp dried orange peel
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup purified water

***You can also use dried elderberries. If you do, double the amount of purified water.

Wash and rinse the elderberries and remove all stems. Add one cup of the purified water to a saucepan. Add the elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel,cloves, lemon juice and maple sugar. Turn on high until the mixture boils, then turn down and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Drain the berries and liquid into a colander and let cool. Using gloves, remove the cinnamon sticks andsmash and push all the liquid out of the berries.

Then strain the juice through a sieve or cheesecloth. Stir in the raw honey, and place in a bottle or jar. That’s it!

Take one teaspoon daily during flu season or add to hot tea or a cocktail!


Suggested music to listen to while preparing the syrup…..

The 1973 album by Elton John, “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player” which features the song “Elderberry Wine” this song was also the B-Side to the single “Crocodile Rock”