Friday, December 30, 2011

Hot Dog Bites

I'm always looking for something new and different to snack on during a race or game. These hot dog bites from Rachael Ray are great! And they're super easy!

If you can't find Napa cabbage, just substitute a medium green cabbage.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 6 hot dogs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • Hot dog rolls, top sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 pound Napa cabbage, shredded and chopped
  • Pickled jalapeño, for garnish (optional)

1. Place hot dogs in a pot and cover with 1" of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook 6-8 minutes.

2. Drain the water and add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pot over medium heat. Melt the butter and roll hot dogs around until the skins crisp. Remove hot dogs.

3. Brown rolls in oven or toaster.

4. In a large bowl, mix the sweet relish, ketchup, mustard, and vinegar. Add cabbage and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Place hot dogs in rolls and cover with slaw. Cut into 3 pieces and serve. Optionally, top them with a slice of pickled jalapeño.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mini Italian Club Sandwiches

These little sandwiches came out fantastic. They were a big hit.

You can leave off the crepes if you want, but we thought they were worth the effort. The original recipe came from Giada de Laurentiis.

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


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 loaf focaccia bread
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 8 slices turkey sandwich meat
  • 4 slices provolone cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and keep warm.

3. Whisk eggs, cream, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Melt butter in a small skillet. Add in half of the egg mixture, swirling to cover the skillet. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes or until the egg has set. Remove and repeat with remaining egg mixture.

3. Cut bread in half lengthwise. Place on a baking sheet and bake until warm, 5-10 minutes.

4. To assemble sandwiches, smear pesto on bread halves. Add the crepes, sandwich meat, bacon, and cheese. Slice into bite-sized sandwiches and serve.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Creamed Corn with Jalapeños

This is a great, easy side dish to make. Use blanched fresh corn if you have it.

Add more jalapeños, to taste.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded, stemmed, minced
  • 2 10 oz bags frozen corn kernels, lightly thawed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • Fresh chopper parsley, for garnish

1. Melt butter in a large skillet.

2. Add red onion and jalapeño. Saute for 2 minutes.

3. Place half of one of the bags of corn into a blender. Pulse a few times until lightly pureed. Add to skillet with remaining corn.

4. Add cream, water, and cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. Season with salt and serve.

5. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tajín Seasoning

I follow Chef Marcela Valladolid on Facebook. The other day, she mentioned how much she and her kids enjoy a Mexican seasoning called Tajín. I picked up a bottle and thought I'd try it out on popcorn first.

Tajín is a great spice mixture, with a decent hint of lime. I think it would be really good on other things, like vegetables or even potato chips. Give it a try!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spicy Navy Beans and Rice

Jessica over at Cajunlicious is always posting recipes that I have to make immediately. Everything she makes looks (and turns out) great.

The weather is turning cooler here, and these beans rice really hit the spot. For the hot sauce, I broke out the BP Blows sauce.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small white onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb smoked sausage
  • 1 can Navy beans (I used dried beans that I soaked 5 hours, then simmered for 1 hour)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Hot sauce

1. Rinse and drain the rice. Place in a saucepan along with oil, 1 1/2 cups broth, bay leaves and salt. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until liquid reduces to the same level as the rice. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan. Add peppers, onion, and celery and saute until starting to soften.

3. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.

4. Add sausage and cook until starting to brown.

5. Pour half of the can of beans into a small bowl. Mash lightly with the back of a spoon. Add mashed and unmashed beans to skillet with meat. Add remaining broth. Heat through.

6. Serve meat and beans over rice, topped with green onions with hot sauce on the side.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chalupa Salad

This is my take on chalupas, but done up like a taco salad.

If you want a more traditional chalupa, serve these on warmed tortillas instead of over chips.

Makes: 16 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 9-10 hours
Printable Recipe


  • 4 lb pork shoulder roast
  • 1 lb dried pinto beans
  • 3 (4 oz) cans diced green chile peppers
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 large bag Fritos Scoops chips
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pickled jalapeños, to taste

1. Place beans, 2 cans of the chiles, and the spices into a Dutch oven. Add the roast and enough water to to cover the pork.

2. Cover and cook on low 8-9 hours or until the pork is very tender and is starting to fall apart. Remove the roast (carefully) and shred (you can also shred it in the Dutch oven using a fork). Add in the remaining can of chile peppers and cook one more hour.

3. Crumble Fritos into bowls. Top with pork and beans, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese and jalapeños.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Broccoli-Cheddar Pockets

I noticed some really large heads of broccoli at the grocery store the other day. Cheap. So, I searched around and found this great recipe.

We folded the pockets somewhat like a round Hot Pocket (if they made round Hot pockets!). Next time, I think we'll try to fold them more like empanadas.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 florets from large head broccoli
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1 11 oz tube refrigerated French bread dough
  • 1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli and cool for 1 minute. Remove, drain, and pat dry.

3. Place broccoli, cheese, sour cream and chive in a large bowl. Combine, then pack tightly with your hands.

4. Lightly flour a flat surface. Roll out the bread dough into a large rectangle. Cut into 4 8x16" rectangles.

5. Dollop the broccoli mixture into the center of each dough rectangle. Fold the two short sides over the broccoli (you might have to stretch the dough slightly). Then fold over the longer sides and seal.

6. Place pockets onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Combine egg with one tablespoon warm water. Brush onto tops of the pockets.

7. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Creamy Latin Pasta Salad

Finally a great pasta salad full of all sorts of yummy things! This is different than your usual creamy pasta salad with mayonnaise. The evaporated milk and lime really change it up, as do all of the crunchy veggies.

The original recipe called for using jicama instead of carrots. You could substitute celery too if you wish.

Makes: 8-10 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb box rotini pasta
  • 1 cup ham, finely diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded, ribbed, and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, ribbed, and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped jicama (or carrots or celery)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup queso blanco, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, juiced

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain well. Place in a large bowl.

2. Add the ham, peppers, peas, onion, jicama and olives and mix.

3. Place evaporated milk, olive oil, cheese, cilantro and lime juice into a blender and process until smooth. Pour over salad and stir well. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. (If the salad gets a little dry, drizzle it with a little extra-virgin olive oil and stir).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Confederate Bean Soup

This soup disappeared fast. It didn't take long to make, and it really hit the spot on a cold evening.

For dunking, I put some pastrami and muenster cheese on a sliced baguette and heated them up a bit. Soup's always better when you have something to dunk into it.

I found the original recipe here.

Makes: 2-4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 2 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large can (24 oz or 32 oz) baked beans, undrained
  • 1/2 lb smoked sausage, chopped
  • 1 cup half and half

1. Melt butter in a medium sized pot. Add bacon and cook until browned.

2. Add garlic, onion, and pepper and cook until crisp tender.

3. Add beans and sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the cream and continue cooking on low for 10 more minutes. Stir occasionally.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pressed Salami Sandwich

These sandwiches are so good. The key is to press them for at least an hour before serving.

I used a loaf of sourdough bread from Panera. You could use a loaf of French bread if you can't find a round loaf of bread. I found the original recipe here.

Makes: 4 sandwiches
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook time: 20 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 round loaf country bread, split
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red pepper (you can substitute roasted red peppers from a jar)
  • 8 slices salami (more or less depending on the size of your bread)
  • 6 slices provolone cheese (more or less depending on the size of your bread)
  • 1 large handful arugula, rinsed and trimmed

1. Roast pepper on a grill or under the broiler. Let cool slightly then remove skin and slice.

2. Brush bread with oil.

3. Top bread with salami, cheese, and peppers. Add arugula.

4. Wrap sandwich in foil. Place on baking sheet or in a large skillet. Place another baking sheet or skillet on top. Add something heavy, like large food cans or a bag of flour to press the sandwich down. Let set in fridge for one hour, pressing down more with your hands every 15 minutes.

5. Cut into wedges and serve.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

We've been following Kevin's Closet Cooking blog for some time. He always makes great looking and tasting food, and his blog is very well written.

I've been on a broccoli kick the last few days, so I decided to make Kevin's broccoli and cheddar soup. It went really well with some mini Italian club sandwiches.

I used dried beans instead of a can. I soaked them for about 4 hours, then cooked them until tender, about 40 minutes. If you don't have an immersion blender you can use a regular counter top blender but let the soup cool first or it will explode in the blender.

Makes: 6-8 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 14oz cans vegetable broth (about 5 cups)
  • 1 19 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook), plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
  • Small handful croutons

1. Cut off the broccoli florets and reserve. Peel the stock with a vegetable peeler and cut into bite-sized pieces. Reserve separate from the florets.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook until tender, 5-8 minutes.

3. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the broth, beans, the broccoli stalks, and half of the broccoli florets.

5. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until broccoli stalks are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

6. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can blend the soup in a blender, however, let the soup cool first or it will explode and you could get burned.

7. Add remaining broccoli and simmer another 5 minutes. Blend again until the soup has thickened but still has small chunks of the florets remaining.

8. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with additional cheese and a few croutons.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hero Sandwiches

Nothing beats a great sandwich. One of the things that make these really great is the dressing.

The recipe makes a bit of dressing, which is a good thing. I used the leftover on other sandwiches. In fact, I think it has become my standard sandwich topping.

I found the original recipe here.

Makes: 4 sandwiches
Prep time: 10 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 drops hot sauce
  • 4 sesame rolls, split
  • 1 lb sandwich meat (we used turkey and ham)
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
  • Green lettuce
  • Dill pickle slices
  • Handful of green olives, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

1. In a small bowl, combine the mayo, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and hot sauce.

2. Spread butter and mustard onto bun bottoms. Spread top buns with mayo mixture.

3. Add meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Add top bun and serve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Muffuletta Sandwiches

I love olive salad. I love it even more when it's on a muffuletta sandwich.

I made up a big batch of olive salad and had it on a bagel muffuletta ala Cajunlicious and also on sliders. The longer you let the olive salad get happy in the fridge before using it, the better it is.

For the olive salad:

Makes: About 3 cups
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: A few days
Printable Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups green olives, pitted and coarse-chopped
  • 1/2 cups Kalamatta olives, pitted and coarse-chopped
  • 1 cup Gardiniera, coarse-chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 cup celery, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 green onion, sliced thin
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1. Roast the red bell pepper on your grill or in the oven. Let cool. Remove skin and seeds then chop. (Alternatively, you can use a few jarred roasted red bell peppers).

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Start with using just 1 cup of the oil. Add more if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day, up to a week, stirring occasionally. Add more oil if needed.

For the muffuletta bagels:

Makes: 2 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons olive salad (see above), or more
  • 2 bagels, sliced
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 4 slices hard salami
  • 2 slices Canadian bacon (or mortadella, pimento olive loaf, or bologna)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Place half of olive salad on each bagel bottom. Top with cheese and meats. Add remaining olive salad and top bagel bun.

3. Wrap bagels in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

For the muffuletta sliders:

1. Make the muffuletta bagel recipe, above, except using slider buns. Cut remaining ingredients in half, and bake for only 10 minutes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rhinehart's Oyster Bar, Evans, GA

Any time we're in Evans GA (just outside of Augusta), we have to go to Rhinehart's Oyster Bar. It's in an unassuming building, with an unassuming atmosphere. Concrete floors, wood picnic tables, and best of all... you can write on everything everywhere!

I always get the spicy boiled shrimp when we go to Rhinehart's. You get a mess of them, and you make a mess eating them. I'm a big fan of that. The shrimp have a little kick to them, which is offset perfectly by the homemade cocktail sauce. They go really well with an ice cold beer. Or three.

Last time we were at Rhinehart's, Anita switched things up and ordered the catfish poor boy sandwich. It was huge! She said it was the best po'boy she'd ever had. That's a pretty bold statement considering we've had some really outrageously good po'boys!

Did I mention the fries? Hand cut. Fresh. Really, really good.

Rhinehart's is a fun place to go, with great food and service. And while you're there, check the walls and table around you... you might find our names written there!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shane's Rib Shack, Evans, GA

While we were staying at my parent's for Thanksgiving, we decided to slip out one evening and have dinner at Shane's Rib Shack. The reviews of Shane's were quite positive so I was looking forward to eating there.

You order at the counter at Shane's. The place was definitely busy, and I found the staff both behind and in front of the counter to be quite friendly.

I figured that since they are famous for their ribs, I'd best get a half rack along with some okra and coleslaw. Mom got the sampler (ribs, tenders and pork). Dad got the half rack, same as me, and Anita ordered the chicken, with mac and cheese (which she said was outrageously good) and slaw (also good).

The food came out pretty quickly. Everything looked and smelled great, so I dove right in on the ribs. Man, they were good! Finger-lickin', tongue-smackin' darned good! They were tender, meaty, tasty, with just the right amount of char on the outside to give them some bite. I'm drooling just thinking about them again. I looked at their website and found that there's a Shane's in Louisville, KY. It's worth a trip there just for some ribs!

Everyone else enjoyed their food and bragged on it. I can't remember what all everyone said as I was in rib heaven, a world of my own, just enjoying the ribs and sides.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Smoky Mountain Brewery, Gatlinburg, TN

Anita and I pulled into Gatlinburg, TN, after about a 7 hour drive from Indianapolis. I'm a big fan of having a little liquid refreshment to shake off the road, if you know what I mean.

So, we left our hotel and walked into town and into the Smoky Mountain Brewery, just off Parkway, the main drive through Gatlinburg. The place was crowded since it was a Sunday afternoon during football season. There were TVs everywhere. Oh, and the pizza. You could smell the pizza and it smelled so good!

We didn't eat at the Smoky Mountain Brewery, though I have to say all the food looked and smelled terrific. Next time we're in Gatlinburg we'll go there for a bite to eat! Instead we headed upstairs to the bar for a few drinks. Since the place is a brewery, I ordered a large Mountain Light beer. Oh, let me tell you, what a welcomed beer it was! It was very, very good. Good enough to have more than one (and I did!).

Bar service was friendly and fairly prompt considering how busy the place was. If you're in Gatlinburg, swing on by for a few drinks!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sonny's Real Pit BBQ, Corbin, KY

Anita and I were driving from Indy to Gatlinburg, on our way to my parent's for Thanksgiving. Somehow, we always end up in Corbin, KY, for lunch. I suspect that most people go to the Kentucky Fried Chicken near there since Corbin is where it was started.

We stopped in at Sonny's real pit BBQ, right off of the interstate. Sonny's is a chain, but not a huge chain. They turn out big, good servings at a reasonable price. Service is very fast, and very friendly. You'll fill up on some good BBQ at Sonny's, and it sure beats the heck out of a fast food burger or taco.

I ordered the chopped brisket, with fries and slaw, and a slice of garlicy Texas Toast. Nothing fancy. The brisket was seasoned well, smoked tender, and quite tasty. There were 4 sauces on the table (where they should be): sweet, sizzlin' sweet, mild, and smokin'. I tried them all, and sizzlin' sweet was my favorite. I would've liked a 5th sauce that was a little hotter. The coleslaw was quite good. It's your standard slaw, but for some reason it really hit the spot that day.

Anita had the pulled pork sandwich and fries and stole some of my coleslaw. The pork was smoked well. It was tender and tasty.

So if you're driving down I-75 and you're getting hungry, swing by Sonny's in Corbin or in their other locations nearby.