Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting is effortless and taste exactly like it should.  Just like grandma made, no nasty chemical aftertaste!  

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 8oz block of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3-4 cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla extract  

In bowl, cream together your softened butter & cream cheese till combined.  You can use your stand mixer or a hand mixer.  However, if you need an arm workout, you can even use a good ol fashioned bowl & spoon! 

 

Slowly and one cup at a time, add in your powdered sugar and vanilla. 

 

The longer you whip these 4 ingredients together, the lighter and fluffier they tend to become!  At the end, you’ll have a creamy, messy, sweet and tasty frosting!  Please feel free to lick the beater and your bowl 😉 

 

Cheesy Potato Casserole

I make this side all too often for meals that need to feed a crowd, but I cannot take all of the credit for this.  This is a great copy cat version of the amazing hash-brown casserole that is served at one of Americas favorite joints, Cracker Barrel.  I’ve never worked in their kitchen nor seen the ‘official’ recipe, but whatever theirs may be, this comes out tasting the same!

I like to serve it with a juicy ham or fried chicken and a crisp salad.  You can even change it up by adding cooked chopped ham, sausage and/or bacon into it and serving this for breakfast along side some eggs and toast!  That’s reeaallly good too!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 2lb bag of Frozen Hash Browns (I prefer diced potatoes)
  • 1 pint of Sour Cream
  • 1 can of Cream of Chicken soup 
  • 2 cups of Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 stick Butter, melted
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper (I’m heavy handed with the pepper) 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non stick spray.

Pour your entire bag of frozen potatoes into the dish. Pepper.  In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, cream of chicken soup, diced onion, melted butter and salt & pepper.

Spread this mixture evenly over your potatoes. Pepper again.

Last step is to simply sprinkle your shredded cheddar over top of your casserole.

Place in your preheated oven for 45 minutes, let that cheese get nice and bubbly & browned.

  

Let sit for 5 minutes, spoon into dish and enjoy!!

 

Short Rib Ragu

The aroma in your home is worth this.  This isn’t your store brand ‘Ragu’, this is  an authentic meat based sauce where the tomatoes take a back seat to the delicious braised meat.  In layman’s terms, this is fancy Italian food.

The Starting Lineup

  • 3lbs beef short ribs 
  • 1 lb noodles
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef broth, low-sodium
  • 1 cup red wine, I.e. Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Italian flat leaf parsley 
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • EVOO    

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Start this dish by liberally seasoning your short ribs with kosher salt & pepper. I say do much more than you think you need.  Pour a few tbsps worth of EVOO into a heavy bottomed pan (I prefer my enameled Lodge cast iron for this, cleans up easy).

Heat that EVOO up to a med high temp and then add in your short ribs, searing all sides a couple of minutes.  This should take about 10 minutes, set your short ribs aside, but leave that now flavored oil and brown bits in the bottom of your pan.

  

In that same pot, with allll that brown goodness and flavor, add in your onion.  Sweat those down for 2 minutes and then add in your garlic.  Cook for 1 more minute.

 Add in your quartered tomatoes, cup of red wine and Dijon mustard.  Bring up to a boil while scraping up the brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.  Place your short ribs back in your pan along with the beef stock.

Turn your oven down to 300 degrees, cover your pot and pop in the preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours.  I suggest going out & about, so when you return home you really get a whiff of this delicious delight!

When the braising meat is almost done, start your pasta according to package directions.  I usually undercook my noodles by about 2 minutes, they’ll finish cooking in your sauce.  *Keep your left over pasta water on hand in case your sauce needs thinned.

After the time is up, take your covered pot out of the oven and carefully remove the short ribs. They will be fall apart tender.  Shred.

Ladle the remaining vegetable, wine broth into a food processer and pulse till smooth.

Return both the short ribs and the puréed sauce to your pot, add in your noodles. (If needed, ladle in a bit of your reserved pasta water to thin).  Cover and allow flavors to meld.

Meanwhile, chop up some parsley and shred your parmesan cheese.

Scoop a large serving into a bowl, garnish and enjoy!!  Serve with some crusty bread and the rest of your red wine! 🍷

The Sloppy José

Ok.  Ok.  I realize that there are a lot of ingredients on this one and you’re probably saying “why all of this for a glorified Sloppy Joe??  I’ll just grab a can of Manwich and call it good!”  No, no, no my friend, this is so much more than that!  It’s worth it.  Promise.

It has all the flavor components and the textures to delight!  You have the warm crusty bun, the cool guacamole, the (homemade) rich & spicy beef and the salt of your crumbled cheese.  This is sure to impress your harshest critic.

The Starting Lineup

  • Bacon Cheddar Rolls
  • 2 lb Ground Beef
  • 2 Chipotle en Adobo Peppers
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced 
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 15oz can of Tomato Sauce
  • 3 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Mexican Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Clove
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 12oz Mexican Beer
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
Guacamole 
  • 2-3 Hass Avocados
  • 1/4 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1-2 small plum Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 Jalapeño, seeds in, minced
  • Lime Juice
  • Sea Salt 
Garnish
  • 1 Jalapeño, sliced
  • 1 cup Queso Fresco 
  • Lime, quartered
  • 

Let’s begin!  In a LARGE skillet (cast iron preferred of course ;)) brown your ground beef over medium heat.  Once meat is to desired doneness (drain grease), add in your onion and bell pepper.  Cook till softened, about 5 minutes.. Toss in your garlic and cook till fragrant, 30-60 seconds.



Meanwhile, we’ll start the sauce.  In a blender, add in your chipotles, tomato sauce, spices & sugar.  Blend till smooth and pour into your skillet along with the beer and cilantro.



While your meat mixture is simmering, roughly 20 minutes, start your guacamole.  You can make your guac as smooth or as chunky as you prefer.  Add all of the above guacamole ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Keep checking on your beef.  Stir occasionally as it will thicken as it simmers.

Get your buns in gear!  No, seriously, get out your delicious bacon cheddar buns and cut each in half.  Toast them to a nice golden brown.  You can use your broiler for this, just please watch them!  They’ll burn fast!

Time to assemble!  Spread your fresh guacamole liberally on the top half of your toasted bun.  Place a large scoop full of your beef on the bottom portion of bun.  Garnish with some crumbled queso, jalapeño slices and freshly squeezed lime juice.  Enjoy and you maayyyy need a fork and cerveza!🍴🍺


Baked Taco Bowls

Thinking outside the box of your normal burrito and not wanting to go to a restaurant for a taco salad….I thought I should try making the crunchy taco bowl myself.  I also didn’t want to mess with a fryer.  I was feeling lazy I guess. This is an easy baked version that will still give you that deep filled, stand up crunchy bowl!

The Starting Linep

  • Flour tortillas, burrito size
  • Canola oil or spray
  • Cumin & chili powder (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Place mason jars (EVERYONE has mason jars these days) upside down on a baking sheet. *you can also use an oven proof mug, small bowl or even a large crumpled ball of foil. Next, I like to put my tortillas in a warmer in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to make them more pliable. Lightly coat each side of the tortilla in a bit of canola oil.  If you have the spray, you can do that to each side instead.  Drape the tortillas over your jars. *Here is where I’ll go ahead and sprinkle on some chili powder and cumin to the outside of the tortillas.  It will stick to the oil and give the shell a nice color and flavor! Bake the tortillas for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Watch closely as not to burn, a few charred edges are good and ‘rustic’ in my eyes ;). You may have to turn the baking sheet for an even color on all of them. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then pull off the jars and fill!!  They hold up great!image *If you have a while till your filling is ready, pop back in your turned OFF oven to keep warm.

Serrano Cilantro Sauce

Sauce.  Condiment.  Dressing.  Dip.  Call it what you want and use it how you like.  It’s spicy and delicious no matter what your terminology is.  

Awhile back, I was trying to think up a spicy, green-sauce style of goodness for our brisket tacos and I came up with this.  The creaminess of it goes so well drizzled over a Mexican or TexMex meal.  Now let’s fast forward to yesterday, I had a craving for a big ol taco salad and thought “Hey!  Why not use this as a salad dressing too??” Excellent choice, self.

You won’t mind making this often since it’s as easy as 1-2-3!  You add the ingredients to your blender, pulse and enjoy!  Done.  *If you’re like us and finish your jar worth in a week tops, then the simplicity in preparing this is an awesome perk! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 Serrano Peppers
  • 1 small bushel of Cilantro
  • 3/4 cup ofMayonnaise 
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Ignore the sour cream in this pic… I was going to try it (go ahead if you like) but thought it wasn’t needed.  So save it for you taco salad! 😉

As far as ‘prep work’ goes with the above ingredients, all I needed to do was rinse the veggies, chop off the stems on the serranos (leave in the seeds and ribs!) and peel the garlic cloves.  Once that’s done in mere minutes, add everything to your blender, liquids first.



I pulsed my blender a few times till my desired consistency was achieved.  Personally, I like it to resemble a ranch dressing in thickness.  If you want it thinner add a tbsp+ of water.



Seal it up, store in your fridge and begin to get things ready for your fiesta….💃

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