Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grilled French Bread Pizzas

One of the things I really like about French bread pizza is that it is so easy. No dough to make. And they bake up nice and crunchy.

Use whatever toppings you have on hand. I made these on the grill, but you can do them in the oven too.

Makes: 4 pizzas
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-25 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb bulk sausage
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into rings
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into slices
  • Pizza sauce (use jarred or our favorite homemade)
  • 1-2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Olive oil

1. Preheat grill to medium.

2. Brown bulk sausage in a pan. Remove and drain.

3. Lightly oil the bread on both sides. Put on grill for 30 seconds or until grill starts to get crunchy. Flip and grill until other side is also starting to get crunchy. Remove.

4. Brush pepper rings, mushrooms and onion slices with oil and place on grill. Grill until starting to soften, flipping once. Slice mushrooms.

5. Warm pizza sauce. Slather bread halves with the sauce. Top with sausage, grilled veggies, and cheese. Return to grill and heat until cheese is melted.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Creole Roast Beef Wraps

I found this excellent idea over at the Nibble Me This blog. I smoked an eye of round roast, but you can use deli roast beef instead if you want (you might want to sprinkle it with some Creole seasoning to kick it up a bit). If you use deli roast beef you'll need to make your own au jus for dipping. Just warm a can of beef broth that has been seasoned to taste with Creole seasoning.

Since they are in season, feel free to roast a fresh red pepper instead of using the jarred kind. Just toss one on the grill and cook until charred on all sides. Let cool then remove the outer flesh while running under cold water, then cut into strips.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Printable Recipe

  • 4 10" inch wraps
  • 1/2 cup Creole sauce (see below)
  • 4 leaves green leaf lettuce, rinsed, patted dry
  • 1 lb Creole roast beef, sliced thin (see below)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper
  • 4 slices your favorite cheese (I used Pepper Jack)
  • Au jus (see below)

1. Slather wraps with Creole sauce. Add lettuce, roast beef, red pepper and cheese and roll up like a burrito.

2. Serve with au jus for dipping.

For the Creole Sauce

Prep time: 1 hour

  • 2 T sour cream
  • 3 T coarse ground creole mustard
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1/2 t prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1/4 t white pepper
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1/8 t black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.

For the Creole Roast Beef

Makes: 12 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours


  • 3 lb eye of round roast
  • Creole seasoning
  • Cajun injector butter (see below)

1. Start smoker and bring it to 250 F.

2. Inject roast with Cajun butter, then sprinkle generously with the Creole seasoning.

3. Put roast on smoker over an aluminum pan to catch the drippings.

4. Smoke until internal temp reaches 135 F (or 130 F for rare). Let set for 15 minutes then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Slice very thin against the grain.

5. Use the drippings to make the au jus by warming along with a few cups of beef broth.

For the Cajun Injector Butter


  • 1/2 T kosher salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t white pepper
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • Pinch onion powder
  • 1/2 stick butter

1. Melt butter over medium heat. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well, or put into a covered container and shake well to combine. Use immediately.

For the Au Jus

If you did not smoke your own roast, you'll want to throw together a simple au jus.


  • 1 can beef broth
  • Creole seasoning, to taste

1. Warm broth. Add seasoning to taste. Serve warm.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Selma's Texas BBQ, Moon Township, Pennsylvania

Anita and I were in Coraoplis, PA, for a few days for a conference. Coraopolis is just outside Pittburgh, near the airport.

One day, while Anita was on a tour, I drove over to Selma's Texas BBQ. I ordered the brisket sandwich and slaw. I have to say, I was really pleased with the brisket. It was very well trimmed, and had just the right level of smoke. Tender as can be.

What I also really enjoyed were the sauces they have. So impressed that I bought three of them: KC Style, Texas Cowboy Style, and my absolute favorite, Carolina Pig Pickin', which is a vinegar and pepper sauce.

Selma's is well worth the visit. You won't be disappointed!

See all of our favorite BBQ joints on a single Google map here. If you have any BBQ places to recommend, leave us a comment and we'll make the trip!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Primanti Brothers Restaurant, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Anita and I attended a conference on the outside of Pittsburgh last week. We were near the airport, in Coraopolis. Luckily for us, there was also a Primanti Brothers restaurant nearby.

We'd seen Primanti Brothers on TV several times, and were anxious to try out their famous sandwich, of which they have about 20 varieties. Each comes on fresh Italian bread and is topped with fries, coleslaw, tomatoes and provolone cheese.Link

I had the pastrami while Anita had the Pitts-Burger (ground beef). We both loved our sandwiches.

We ended up going to Primanti Brothers twice while we were in the area. The second time I add the corned beef sandwich while Anita had the hot sausage oven-baked sandwich. Again they were great.

Service was friendly and prompt. I can't wait to return!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mexicali Pasta

This is a great picnic recipe, and it makes a big ole batch too!

I found the original recipe over on the Kraft website. The jalapeños are optional, but they do help kick this up a bit. Leave them out for a still great salad.

Makes: 20 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb wagon wheel pasta
  • 2 cups black beans (use 1 15.5 oz can or cooked dried beans)
  • 2 cups corn kernels (use 1 15.5 oz can or par-cooked fresh kernels)
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2-4 jalapeños, minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup light Ranch dressing
  • 1 T taco seasoning (use store bought or our homemade version)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup Mexican Style shredded cheese mix
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro

1. Cook the pasta according to box instructions, but do not add salt. Rinse well, drain, and let cool. Place in a large bowl.

2. Add beans, corn, green onion and jalapeños. Mix.

3. Mix the salad dressing, taco seasoning, and lime juice in a small bowl. Add to pasta and toss to cover.

4. Mix in cheese and cilantro.

Note: If the pasta gets a little dry, just mix in a little more Ranch dressing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Smokey Bacon Wraps

Oh, these are dangerously good! (And of course I made a lot more than five of them!) They're so easy, I just throw a couple on the grill anytime I'm grilling for a little snack!

Sprinkle them with whatever you want. Your favorite rub, brown sugar, spices, or whatever! Adjust the recipe for the number of sausages you want to make.

Makes: A batch
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • Lil smokey sausages
  • Thin-sliced bacon (you'll need 1 slice for every 3 sausages)
  • Topping (brown sugar, cayenne, chili powder, etc)

1. Fire up your grill for indirect cooking, or preheat an oven to 400 F.

2. Cut bacon slices into thirds and wrap around sausages. Sprinkle with desired topping and place on grill or a foil-lined baking sheet if cooking in the oven.

3. Grill or bake for 30-40 minutes or until bacon has crisped.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grilled Spicy Honey Thighs

Simple. Great.

I found the original recipe on Real Mom Kitchen.

Makes: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 T olive oil

For the Rub:

  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/4 t chipotle chili powder

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 T cider vinegar

1. Combine the rub ingredients.

2. Brush the thighs on both sides with the oil. Sprinkle generously with the rub.

3. Warm the honey in the microwave just long enough to thin it, about 45 seconds depending on your microwave. Stir in the vinegar. Divide.

4. Place thighs on grill and cook, turning once, until almost done. Brush with half of the honey glaze and cook another 3-5 minutes until chicken is done.

5. Serve drizzled with remaining glaze.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

CR Heroes, Fishers, Indiana

As long as we've lived here, we've never been to CR Heroes even though it is just down the street. Well, we went last weekend and loved it!

CR Heroes is a nice little place. Half bar, half restaurant. The restaurant (we didn't go into the bar) is decorated with tons and tons of memorabilia and pictures and items from various heroes, such as soldiers, firefighters... Popeye... Capt. Kangaroo... You name it! It's fun just looking at all of the things on the walls!

We both ordered the same thing: the breaded tenderloin sandwich with a side salad, and deep-fried pickles for an appetizer. Everything was really well made. The tenderloin sandwiches came with a really great roasted garlic (and I think red pepper flake) mayonnaise. I'll definitely be making that mayo soon. It has a lot of garlic in it, so if you're not a big fan of garlic you might want to sub regular mayo.

Service was pleasant and prompt. We'll definitely be returning to CR Heroes soon!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Cheese and Burger Society Burgers

Last year I made all 30 burgers from The Cheese & Burger Society's list. I decided to recap them all in a single post., in the order they are presented on the Cheese & Burger Society's web site.

We tried to stay as true to the original recipes as possible.

The Casanova Burger - Swiss cheese, ham and mushrooms

The Rhinelander - butterkase and ham

The Uncle Sam - bacon, lettuce, and tomato

The Miss Daisy - Brie, spinach, and apple butter

The Big Ben - blue cheese, watercress, pickled onions and bacon

The Honky Tonk - fontina, BBQ sauce, bacon, and onion rings

The Farmer John - bacon, onion rings, and hash browns

The Aunt Millie - feta, arugula, and black olives

The Gypsy Burger - bacon, cucumber, red onion, and mozzarella

The Lumberjack - Swiss, cheddar and pickles

Firehouse Burger - Havarti, provolone, Capicola, jalapenos and pepperoncini

The Highway Man - Cheddar, ham, eggs and onion rings

The Roadhouse Burger - Onion rings, bacon and garlic mayonnaise

The Bohemian Burger - Guida, bacon, turkey, spinach and pesto mayonnaise

The Boss - Asiago, bacon, arugula, red onion and olive tapenade

The Camelot - Camembert, mushrooms and bacon

The Crabby Louie - Monterrey Jack, avocado and crab

The Pioneer - Swiss, mushrooms, bacon and garlic aioli

The Southern Belle - Coleslaw, BBQ sauce and pickles

The Mona Lisa - Gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and bacon

The Couch Potato - potato chips, bacon, blue cheese and garlic mayonnaise

The Handyman - French fried onions, Cheddar, Swiss and bacon

The Isabella - refried beans, jalapenos, avocado, Monterrey Jack, and Cheddar

The Brooklyn - Swiss, corned beef and sauerkraut

The Mamma Mia - Mozzarella, pizza sauce, mushrooms and pepperoni

The Sheboygan - Bratwurst, sauerkraut, Swiss and beer mustard

The Waldorf Burger - Blue cheese, cherries and walnuts

The Havana - Swiss, ham, roasted pork shoulder and pickles

The Johnny Appleseed - Cheddar, apple and bacon

The Macho Nacho - Swiss, Cheddar, jalapeno, tortilla chips and black olives

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Red Pepper Pesto Bruschetta

These are really good. And super easy to make.

You can use jarred roasted tomatoes if you prefer them to roasting your own. I found the original recipe at Real Mom Kitchen.

Makes: 24 appetizer servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 cup pecans, crushed
  • 1 bunch of basil, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 red peppers (or 1 cup of jarred roasted red pepper)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag Tostitos chips

1. Place peppers over medium high heat on a grill. Grill on all sides until well charred. Remove from heat, let cool. Remove skin and cut into strips. Alternatively, you can roast the peppers in the oven at 400 F.

2. Mix all ingredients except the chips. Start with 1/4 cup of oil and add more if needed. You do not want the mixture to be too moist.

3. Spoon mixture into chips and serve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baskin Robbins

What do Bobby Flay and I have in common? Our first jobs were at Baskin Robbins! Ok, so that's the end of the similarities.

I worked at the Baskin Robbins on the base at Ft Belvoir, Virginia, back when I was in high school. It was a really fun job. We also had a deli, which did fantastic business.

One of my favorite things about working at Baskin Robbins was making up milk shake combinations for lunch. You can go pretty wild with all of their flavors and toppings. Some were great successes... Others, not so much.

Another favorite thing was when people would order custom ice cream cakes and not ever pick them up. We got them at a discount (or maybe free....), so every once in a while I'd get to take one home!

Swing by your local Baskin Robbins and get a few scoops of their ice cream, specially my favorites, Jamoca and Jamoca Chocolate Fudge (both of which also make great milk shakes!) or Anita's favs, mint chocolate chip and pralines and cream. Actually, it's pretty hard to have a favorite at BRs since so many of their flavors are so good!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Muffaletta Hamburgers

I wanted to grill burgers last night, but I didn't really have any great toppings around... until I saw the jar of olive salad in the fridge. Normally when we make muffalettas we make our own olive salad, which is really, really good, but it takes a day or so for the ingredients to get happy.

We thought these were pretty tasty and a nice change from the norm.

Makes: 2 burgers
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb ground beef, formed into patties
  • 4 T olive salad
  • 2 slices Provolone cheese
  • 2 Hamburger buns

1. Heat grill. Cook burgers as desired. Add cheese and melt.

2. Remove burgers from grill and let rest. Serve on buns topped with olive salad.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicken Croquettes with Creole Sauce

This is an excellent way to use up leftover chicken.

Next time I'll add in some minced jalapeño for a little kick. The original recipe came from Paula Deen.

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, minced
  • 1/3 cup celery, minced
  • 1/3 cup white onion, minced
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t seasoned salt
  • Creole Sauce (see below)

1. Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the red bell pepper, celery, and onions and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Place chicken in a large bowl. Add in the bread crumbs and red bell pepper mixture.

3. Combine the mayonnaise, eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and season salt in a small bowl. Add to the chicken and mix gently. Form into 10-12 patties.

4. Melt remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Working batches, cook the patties until lightly browned, flipping once. You may need to add more butter.

5. Serve with Creole sauce on the side.

For the Creole Sauce:


  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 t Creole seasoning (or more, to taste)

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

Crab-Stuffed Grilled Jalapeños

Wow, were these good! And don't be afraid of the peppers. They get blanched, which really gets rid of most of the heat. If want to keep that heat, add the seeds from the peppers into the crab mixture.

I found the original recipe on the Cajun Delights blog, one of my favorite blogs to follow.

Makes: 24 appetizers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 12 large jalapeños, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 5 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 8 oz lump crab meat
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in jalapeños and boil for 30 seconds. Drain, and place peppers in a large bowl of ice water until cooled. Drain.

2. Gently combine remaining ingredients in a bowl.

3. Prepare grill for indirect cooking. (Alternatively, you can cook them in a 350 F oven).

4. Place peppers on grill and cook indirectly for 20-30 minutes or until softened and lightly browned.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Moink Balls

Moink (moo+oink) balls are really, really addicting. They're super-easy to make on the smoker or grill (unless you have a really, really big grill, you'll have to work in batches or make less balls).

You can use whatever sauces you want on them, you can't go wrong, trust me!

Makes: 160 moink balls, enough for a big crowd
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 1/2 hours
Printable Recipe


  • 5 lb bag pre-cooked meatballs, thawed slightly
  • 2 lbs thin bacon
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • Raspberry chipotle sauce (see below), or use your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 160 toothpicks

1. Cut bacon into thirds using scissors, then cut each third in half width-wise, leaving you with thin strips of bacon about 3" long.

2. Wrap bacon strips around the meatballs and secure with toothpicks. Arrange balls on a baking sheet or two. Sprinkle with rub.

3. Transfer balls to a smoker or grill (using indirect heat) at 225 F and cook for 2 hours.

4. Dip balls in sauce and return to smoker to cook 30 more minutes. Serve immediately.

For the Raspberry-Chipotle sauce:

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam (one small jar)
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (to taste)
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced, along with 1-2 T of the adobo sauce

1. Heat oil in a small pot. Add garlic and saute until tender.

2. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and reduce heat to a low simmer. Let cook about 20 minutes until thickened. Let cool slightly before using.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Charleston Dip

We made this for a family get-together and everyone loved it.

Because I had to transport it and reheat it, I didn't garnish it with the green onions. That's why you don't see them in the picture.

Makes: 12 appetizers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 t Cajun seasoning
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 T pickled jalapeño, diced
  • 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup of Italian cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Combine the mayo, cream cheese and Cajun seasoning. Stir in the jalapeño and cheeses. Gently fold in one of the green onions.

3. Spray a glass pie plate with non-stick spray. Pour cheese mixture in and spread evenly.

4. Melt butter in microwave or on stovetop. Place bread crumbs in a bowl and drizzle with butter. Mix. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over cheese mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes or until it is golden brown.

5. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp.

6. Remove dip from oven. Garnish with crumbled bacon and remaining green onion. Serve with crackers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

The other day, a co-worker of Anita's gave away some produce from her garden. I decided to throw together a quick and easy grilled salad.

You can mix and match veggies. Add squash, or carrots, or whatever you have on hand.

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Printable Recipe

  • 2 medium zucchini, squash, green peppers, etc, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • Oil
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 t fresh lemon zest
  • Honey (to taste)
  • 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan), for garnish
  • 2 T toasted pine nuts

1. Heat the grill to high. Brush the vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for a few minutes per side until slightly charred and somewhat wilted. Remove.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.

3. Pour vinaigrette over the vegetables and let sit for 15 minutes. Serve topped with cheese shavings and toasted pine nuts.