Creamed Chipped Beef

Fall is definitely here today and few things feel more like fall than comfort food and breakfast for dinner.  As a kid, I couldn’t get on board with the fresh-from-the-freezer version of ripped beef my mom used to microwave.  Sorry mom!  Once I married into a country-cooking family and continued to hone my skills, I learned how to make the real version!  When you see how easy this is, you’ll wonder why you ever had anything other than homemade.

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CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs. Butter
  • 4 Tbs. Flour
  • 2 Cups Whole Milk (Skim will work, but why not??)
  • 4.5 Ounce Jar Dried Beef
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cut dried beef into 1/2-inch squares and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add flour and stir until a smooth paste.  Continue to cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Removed from heat and slowly whisk in milk.
  • Return to low heat and stir constantly until desired thickness, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in dried beef.  Add black pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately over well-buttered white toast.

Whether this reminds you of grandma’s cooking or your time in the service, I hope you love making and eating it!  Schools of thought on the toast:  definitely white, regular is good, but Texas toast is even better, don’t forget the butter.  And this is also a great to serve on a buffet or for a brunch.  Elevate it with the addition of crustless toast points and/or a sprinkle of fresh parsley and chives.  Dig in!

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

Football season is in full swing and we’re constantly making snacks for a Saturday or Sunday game while we cheer on our favorite teams.  And while I love trying new things, it’s sometimes the old standby that makes for the perfect appetizer to watch a winner.  This recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip is hot and spicy and perfect to feed a crowd.  While I’ve had many variations, this is the one I like most.

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BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

Ingredients

  • 2 8-Ounce Bricks Cream Cheese
  • 1 16-Ounce Bottle Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 2 12-Ounce Cans White Meat Chicken or 1 1/2 Lbs. Pulled Rotisserie Chicken
  • 1 16-Ounce Bottle Ranch Dressing
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
  • 2 Cups Cheddar Jack Cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a 13×9 baking dish, spread cream cheese into an even layer.
  • Pour a thin layer of buffalo sauce over the cream cheese to completely cover.  Use your favorite brand here.  You will only need half to three-fourths of the bottle to cover.  Add more or use a hot version for spicier dip.
  • Cover buffalo sauce with a single layer of chicken.  Canned works fine here, but a store-bought rotisserie chicken is even better for more flavor and a mixture of white and dark meat.
  • Pour the entire bottle of ranch dressing over chicken in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle ranch dressing with garlic powder.
  • Top with cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes uncovered until cheese is melted and it’s bubbling on the sides.
  • Serve immediately with tortilla chips, Fritos and/or celery sticks for dipping.

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Yes, that’s all there is to it.  And it’s easy to change it up with different flavors of buffalo dip or blue cheese dressing instead of ranch.  Tailgating, on the sofa or by the pool, you’ll make this again and again for the big game – or even the not-so-important game.  It’s just that good.  Dig in!

Spicy Pasole

Not every Tuesday has to be tacos!  When we still have a taste for something “south of the border” and it’s turning to fall, spicy pasole hits the spot.  A flavorful broth spiced with chiles chock-full of tender pork and creamy hominy, this is a hearty fall/winter dish that you’ll make a new Tuesday tradition.

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SPICY PASOLE

Ingredients

  • 3 Lbs. Pork Shoulder or Boneless Country Ribs
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Large Tomato
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 3 Chiles in Adobo Sauce, Chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Adobo Sauce
  • 2 – 29 Ounce Cans White Hominy, Drained
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 2 Tsp. Mexican Oregano
  • 2 Tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Diced Avocado, Sliced Radish & Shredded Cabbage (for garnish)

Instructions

  • Cut pork shoulder into 1 1/2-inch cubes.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • In a ceramic-coated iron pot, brown half the pork in 1 Tbs. canola oil.  Remove from pot and brown the other half of the pork in an additional Tbs. canola oil.  Remove from pot.  You do not need to cook it through as it will braise later.
  • Add diced onion and minced garlic to pot and cook over medium heat until translucent.
  • Dice and seed tomato.  Place in pot with onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes.  Add chopped chiles and adobo sauce.  Stir to combine.
  • Add chicken stock to onion mixture and stir to deglaze pot.
  • Add water, oregano, chili powder and paprika.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  • Add pork back in as well as both cans of hominy.
  • Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with avocado, radish and cabbage.

You can spice this version up with additional chiles, hot sauce or sliced jalapeños.  The combination of spicy, rich stew is complimented by the cool cabbage, bite of radish and creamy avocado.  Taste for yourself, you’ll make the Tuesday change too.  Dig in!

Fudgey Sandwich Cookies

The last hurrah of summer picnics was yesterday at my in-law’s house.  And while it’s sad to have one last pool weekend of the year, we had a perfect day for family, fun and feasting!  Nothing says party and picnic like these devil’s food sandwich cookies.  Milk’s bff, they’re rich, decadent and unbelievably easy to make.

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FUDGEY SANDWICH COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2/3 Cups Shortening
  • 1 Can Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Instructions

  • Cream shortening and eggs with an electric mixer until combined.
  • Add half the package of cake mix and beat until fluffy.
    • Note:  I’ve tried several mixes to get the best result and Kroger brand devil’s food cake mix is by far the best.  However, any brand will give you a good results as long as it’s devil’s food.
  • Add the remaining cake mix and beat just until combined.
  • Using a cookie scoop, drop 1″ balls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 9-12 minutes.  BE CAREFUL!  These cookies can burn really easily so watch them closely.
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire racks.
  • Spread bottom of one cookie with 1/2″ of fudge frosting and top with another cookie.
  • Store in an airtight container until serving.

This recipe will make a dozen sandwich cookies, so we typically double it every time we make it.  And while you could definitely make your own frosting and/or switch up flavors, this is a tried-and-true winner.  Try them for your next tailgate or birthday party.  Dig in!

Family-Style Cobb Salad

I love a great Cobb salad – the crunchy, soft, cold, salty combination of healthy food and various toppings that make it not-quite-so-good-for-you!  It’s a great idea for a summer dinner or on a buffet, especially this version.  Made in a big bowl or on a platter, it’s a beautiful display of color, flavor and texture.  The recipe below will easily feed four adults for dinner or 8 or more as a buffet side.

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FAMILY-STYLE COBB SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 Head Iceberg Lettuce, Chopped
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes
  • 6 Chicken Tenderloins, Grilled
  • 8 Strips Crisp Bacon
  • 1 Avocado, Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Diced Red Onion
  • 2 Hard Boiled Eggs, Chopped
  • 6 Ounces Blue Cheese Crumbles

Instructions

  • On a large chilled platter, arrange chopped lettuce in a even layer.
  • Seed and dice tomatoes and arrange together on lettuce.  You can choose to arrange ingredients in groups, stripes, pie shapes or whatever you think looks prettiest.  It’s best to keep them together rather than mix them up though so they keep their texture until serving.
  • Dice grilled chicken and place on the lettuce.  Don’t forget to season your chicken before grilling!
  • Crumble the bacon and arrange on lettuce.  Do the same with avocado.
  • Arrange onion on lettuce.  Be sure that it is finely diced to provide just the right amount of bite in contrast to the richness of the avocado, blue cheese and egg.  Don’t leave it out!
  • Finally, finish by arranging the egg and blue cheese to complete your salad.
  • Place in refrigerator for up to 2 hours or serve immediately.

While this hardly requires anything else, serve it with your favorite salad dressing.  My wife likes ranch, but I enjoy the contract of a vinaigrette or Russian dressing as well.  Don’t like one or more of the ingredients?  Lots of substitutes work well – cubed ham, sweet peas, cheddar cheese, etc.  Just keep in mind the combination of flavor and texture and change out like-for-like.  Add a crusty loaf of bread and crisp white wine and you have a beautiful summer dinner.  Dig in!

Fettuccine Pomodoro

I’ve been traveling way too much lately and haven’t really been in the kitchen.  Even though I was short on time tonight, I was determined to cook!  With a glut of fresh tomatoes, it was a no-brainer to make pomodoro sauce tonight with fettuccine.  Simple, flavorful and ready in less than 30 minutes, you have to add this to your weekly meal planning.

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FETTUCCINE POMODORO

Ingredients

  • 8 Ounces Fettuccine, Cooked al dente
  • 8 Ripe Campari Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium White Onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

  • Finely dice onion and set aside.
  • Cut top off of each tomato.  Gently squeeze and roll tomato with cut side down to drain out most seeds.  Do this for all tomatoes and discard seeds.  Cut into 1/4 inch dice.
  • In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  • Add tomatoes to pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients to tomato sauce.  Stir and continue to simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and pour over cooked fettuccine.
  • Toss and serve immediately.  Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Yes, it really is that easy!  This is a delicious pasta on it’s own or is delicious with marinated grilled chicken breast or a pan-seared white fish.  You’ll love making this light pasta sauce, especially when tomato season is in full swing.  Dig in!

Sausage & Pesto Campanelle

After a weekend on the road and eating out, it felt good to be back in the kitchen on a Monday evening!  Taking my recipe for Basic Pesto I created this delicious combination that’s perfect for summer night with a glass of wine and crusty bread.

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SAUSAGE & PESTO CAMPANELLE

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 Cups Basic Basil Pesto
  • 1 Lbs. Campanelle Pasta
  • 3 Links Sweet Italian Sausage, Casings Removed
  • 8 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Balls
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

  • Prepare pesto per my recipe and set aside.
  • Place pasta in boiling water and cook 10-11 minutes.
  • While pasta is cooking, brown Italian sausage in a pan until cooked through.  Don’t break it all up completed as the dish is better with small and large pieces both.
  • Drain pasta and place in a large bowl.  Add in sausage, mozzarella and 1 cup of pesto.
  • Stir together until combined.  You may need to add more pesto depending on taste and personal preference.
  • Serve immediately and top with parmesan and red pepper flakes to taste.

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The combination of crumbly sausage, bright pesto and slightly creamy mozzarella that gives this dish great balance.  No fuss and few dirty dishes for a simply tasty dinner.  Enjoy it with a glass of wine and good company.  Dig in!

Sweet & Crunchy BBQ Potato Chips

I’ve always wanted to make my own potato chips!  And frankly, for as easy as they were, it’s silly that I haven’t up to this point.  Grilling steaks for Father’s Day made for a great excuse to come up with a BBQ potato chip recipe.  It took a little taste-testing, but the recipe below had the right amount of sweet, savory and salty to stand up to the bold flavor of a perfectly medium-rare NY strip!

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SWEET & CRUNCHY BBQ POTATO CHIPS

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs. Russet Potatoes
  • 1/4 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Salt
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder

Instructions

  • Peel and wash potatoes.  Slice about 1/8-inch thick using a sharp knife or mandolin (much easier).
  • Place potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  Toss with your hands, let sit for 10 minutes and then drain.
  • Pour vinegar over potatoes and then cover the rest of the way with cold water.  Allow to soak for 2 hours.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar, paprika, pepper and onion powder.  You’ve created BBQ seasoning!!  Set aside for when potatoes are cooked.
  • Drain potatoes and dry thoroughly.
  • Fry in small batches in 300 degree vegetable or canola oil.  Stir occasionally for even frying until light golden brown.
  • Remove and allow to drain on wire racks or brown paper.  Sprinkle with BBQ seasoning mixture and then place in a large bowl.
  • Continue with this process until all potatoes are fried, dusted and cooled.
  • Finally, toss the remaining seasoning over the bowl of potatoes and serve.

This is a very simple process that turns out delicious results!  My family said we will absolutely have to make these again in the future.  It was definitely a treat and a great causal side dish to serve with steaks.  The recipe above was easily devoured by a group of 8 people.  You can probably double it and still not have much left over.  Make ’em for your next occasion or when you’re experimenting on a weekend.  Dig in!

Crunchy Asian Slaw

BBQ season calls for coleslaw nearly every time, at least it does in our family!  I love traditional mayonnaise-y versions as well as vinegar-based slaws.  One of my very favorites is one my wife started making years and years ago.  This Asian-inspired version is tangy, crispy and nutty.  I honestly can’t get enough of it!

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CRUNCHY ASIAN SLAW

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Bag Cabbage/Slaw Mix
  • 2 Packages Beef Ramen Noodles
  • I Cup Salted Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 Cup Slivered or Sliced Almonds, Toasted
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions, Chopped

Dressing

  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Envelopes Beef Flavor Packets (from ramen)

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Instructions

  • In a dry frying pan, lightly toast almonds over low heat until slightly browned.  Remove from heat and cool.
  • In a large bowl, mix together slaw mix, almonds, sunflower seeds, green onions and crushed ramen noodles.
  • In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk together until dissolved and smooth.
  • Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Chill for 2-4 hours and serve.

This is an easy and delicious version that goes well with any grilled protein.  Try it as a perfect acidic side dish to fatty short ribs or pork shoulder!  Do you like thinks a little spicy?  A thinly-sliced or finely-diced jalapeño or serrano pepper would be great here.  I also like to add a little sriracha for a kick.  Either way, I hope you love it too.  Dig in!

Veggie Pizza

What a great Memorial Day weekend we had!  Perfect weather, swimming, grilling and fantastic food from friends and family made it a great three days.  One of the many dishes I made for one of the celebrations was veggie pizza.  A soft-baked crust, creamy ranch spread and fresh cut veggies, and a little optional bacon, make this a tasty grab-and-go snack.

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VEGGIE PIZZA

Ingredients

  • 2 Rolls Crescent Sheets
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Cup Broccoli Florets, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Green Onions, Chopped
  • 6 Strips Crispy Bacon, Chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Spread crescent sheets on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake according to package instructions and allow to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and ranch dressing mix until smooth.
  • Spread mixture evenly over baked crescent crust.
  • Top the mixture evenly, and all the way to the edge, with each of the toppings.
  • Finish pizza by sprinkling bacon on top.  Of course, this is completely optional if you would rather it be meat-free.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve.  Do not make this a day ahead as the crust will get  soggy if it sits too long.

This recipe is delicious and versatile.  The crust and spread make a great base for any seasonal vegetables.  Think about using crispy radish slices or a variety of peppers.  Utilize your herb garden and sprinkle some fresh parsley or chives on as well.  I hope you give it a try and share any of your ideas with me.  Dig in!