Tag Archives: baked

Tropical BBQ Sliders

As of late, there has been a cooking phenomenon of baking the King’s Hawaiian rolls with ham and cheese, roast beef and cheese, turkey and cheese, do I need to go on?  ..and quite frankly, I LOVE it!  I have tried them all and they are all delightful.

On that same note, stay with me…my oldest son has been on a Lilo & Stitch movie binge.  Every single night before bed, for the last 2 weeks, he requests this now somewhat old movie, at least compared to his 6-year-old self.  Fifteen days into it later, he randomly asked me if I could make “Hawaiian Sandwiches” for dinner.  Now, I wasn’t about to go buy a can of SPAM, so I got creative while thinking of those new, beloved baked sandwich recipes.  Below I give you another favorite that needs to be added to the Pinterest lineup of such.  You can make them for an appetizer, party, a dinner with a side of fries…  A super easy and fun recipe to enjoy with your whole family!

*You can use fresh pineapple, by all means, but for this I actually prefer the canned variety, as fresh is pretty tart and overpowering for this recipe.  That being said, my preferred brand is the new’er Libby’s Brand “Skinny” Pineapple…It is not canned in that heavy syrup, so it’s not cloyingly sweet.

The Starting Lineup

  • 12 ct package King’s Hawaiian Rolls
  • 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce (I prefer also the King’s Hawaiian original barbecue sauce)
  • 1 lb thinly sliced or shaved ham (I prefer honey or Black Forest from the deli)
  • 1 package swiss cheese (about 8 slices); Colby Jack is a good alternative too
  • Pineapple (about 6 slices or 1/2 cup segments)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon (hefty fill) of ground ginger (i.e. McCormick brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut 
  • **Optional: fresh jalapenos slices, for a savory-sweet-heat flavor

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease or non-stick spray a rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish.  Most recently, I used my Pyrex 8×11, but I have used a foil-lined & sprayed baking sheet when I made a double batch.

In medium microwave safe bowl, slowly melt your butter.   Whisk in the soy sauce, ground ginger, garlic powder and coconut.  Set aside.

With a large bread knife, halve the ENTIRE 12 (or 24) rolls horizontally, so that the rolls are still connected to each other and you have two “bread rectangles”; a bottom halve and a top half that will form your sandwich slider.

Place the bottom half of bread into your prepared bread and lay on half of the cheese, followed by the ham.  Next drizzle the BBQ sauce evenly overtop, followed by the pineapple and then the remaining cheese.  Place the other “bread rectangle” topper on top.

Whisk your butter mixture once more and evenly pour or brush overtop it all (don’t worry, it doesn’t get soggy).  **If using the  fresh jalapeno slices, I like to place 1 slice ON TOP of each roll (12 slices) and then pour on the butter mixture. 

Immediately transfer to your preheated oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, till the top will be a deep golden brown and the cheese is super melty.

Serve immediately and enjoy!  Maybe with a Mai-Tai or two?? 😉



Ranch Hand Potatoes

Ok, this is quite possibly my favorite side dish to bring to any potluck, tailgate party, picnic or just a side for a dinner at home when my husband smokes a brisket…yummmm.  This WILL feed a crowd and your crowd will leave nothing behind!

There are a few variations of similar recipes, but personally, they tend to be quite bland and have zero texture.  This doctored up version has many depths of flavors, yet is still mild enough for any palate with the bacon, chiles and that good, ol’ fashioned ranch flavor!  Plus it’s sooooo easy!  Basically, it’s a “dump & stir” side, bake and walk away!

The Starting Lineup

  • 6-7 russet potatoes
  • 1 package bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 (4-oz) can of green chiles
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of chicken
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of poblano soup (*You can use two cans a cream of chicken to substitute)
  • 1 (16-oz) container of sour cream
  • 1 (1-oz) packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (*I use Kraft Sharp Cheddar)
  • Green onions (scallions), sliced for garnish after baking

Let’s start with the simple “prep work”:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook up your bacon, drain/pat dry the grease, chop up.
  3. Clean the russet potatoes, cut in half and boil in salted water till just fork tender.  You do not want to over boil, as you’re not making mashed potatoes and want a bit of texture.  *I prefer to leave the skins on for visual appearance and, again, texture.  Drain into a colander and once cool enough to touch, cut into rough bite size pieces, similar to a potato salad.

For potlucks, I prefer to use a deep dish (disposable if possible) 11×9 foil pan.  By all means, you can use your handy 9×13 too.  Layer your par-cooked potatoes into your serving dish in an even layer.

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the cooked bacon, poblano peppers, green chiles, cream of chicken/poblano soups, sour cream, ranch seasoning and shredded cheese.

Pour over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Transfer, uncovered, to your preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Top with the scallions and enjoy!!




Green Chile Tomato Pie

There are two kinds of tomato pie here in the United States.  One is the Italian version, aka pizza, the other is one of my summertime faves, the savory oh so Southern Tomato Pie!

This not too heavy pie is filled with fresh ripe tomatoes from your garden and bright herbs and onions.  Topped with a warm cheesy topping that gives you that comfort food feel pie always brings.  My only change up to the classic is I like to add a bit of that Tex-Mex flair with sliced jalapenos and green chiles.  I swear on a baby, they only enhance the flavors of the dish and do not overpower with heat..promise!

*You can drain and dry your tomatoes ahead of time and keep between paper towels on a plate or large Ziploc baggie in the refrigerator.  You can also make the cheesy topping ahead of time and keep in the fridge as well. 🙂

**Another great ingredient you can add in is bacon!!  Bacon is good in everything, right?

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 deep dish pie crust, frozen works great!
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes, sliced and patted dry
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped/torn
  • 4oz can green chiles, I prefer ‘hot’
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Preheat your oven to your pie crusts directions (mine was 375 degrees).  Once the oven has heated up, take a fork and prick the bottoms and sides of your pie dough shell a few times and place in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove the par baked pie dough and set aside.

Meanwhile, rinse and slice your tomatoes.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and lay in a colander and let drain for 20-30 minutes.  Also pat dry with a towel or paper towel.  You really want to remove as much moisture as you can from the tomatoes so that the pie wont be soggy.  TomPie2.JPG

Once the tomatoes have drained, layer in the half-baked pie shell.  Sprinkle the green onions, sliced jalapeno and torn basil leaves overtop the tomatoes.

In a large bowl, simply combine the mayonnaise, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, drained green chiles and a pinch each of salt and pepper,  Fold together till mixed.  Top this mixture evenly overtop the fresh vegetables and place in your oven, now at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!!



Serve by itself for a light lunch, bring to a brunch or as a side dish along with grilled pork chops!  Just delish!!



Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers

A dinner of “stuffed peppers” often gets a bad rap.  My friends and family either love it…or hate it.  My guess on the nay-sayer’s is due to the peppers that I have devoured in my life have just been, well..bland.  Ground beef or turkey, rice, maybe some chopped veggies.  Did I mention they’re often dry too??  Well my Italian version is anything but!

The simple garlic, onion and tomato sauce (plus sneaking in that zucchini) keeps it from turning dry and I always choose the ‘hot’ Italian sausage for the slight extra kick!  Do you have kids?  Well still get the ‘hot’, trust me, it’s not that spicy, just flavor!  Last, but definitely not least, that layer of fresh mozzarella cheese puts the average pizza slice to shame!!

Now you can these eat on their own or perhaps with a side salad or even that dry rice, BUT..since we’re cooking with those Italian flavors, why not place your finished product atop perfectly al dente pasta!  Garlic bread too, perhaps?….

The Starting Lineup

  • 3-4 bell peppers, seeded and halved
  • 1 package Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 14oz Italian finely chopped tomatoes (I prefer Cirio Italian with basil)
  • Mozzarella cheese slices (Fresh)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper 

Garnish/Side (optional)

  • Pasta noodles, cooked al dente
  • Reserved leftover sauce from the meat mixture
  • Chopped basil
  • Shredded parmesan


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees while bringing the olive oil in a large skillet to medium heat,  *Spray a 9×13 oven proof baking dish with nonstick spray.

In your hot skillet, add in the sausage (out of its casing) and cook completely through while chopping up with the back of your spoon.  Once cooked, remove the sausage and drain all but 1 tbsp of the oil/grease.

Now add in the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes, followed by the zucchini for 2 minutes and finally the garlic for 1 minute.  To the sautéed vegetables, pour in the finely chopped Italian tomatoes (careful for splatter!) and add the cooked sausage back in.

Your filling is done!  Spoon equal amounts into your halved and seeded bell peppers and place into the 9×13 baking dish.  Top each with a healthy amount of cheese.  PLEASE do not scrimp on this!  *If I purchased the larger package of mozzarella, I have been known to place a slice in the bottom of each pepper before I fill, followed by more on the top!  Yes!!


Cover the baking dish and peppers with foil and pop in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and let the cheese bubble for another 5 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest.  *My husband loves his mozz topping to be on the browned side, so I will place our right under the broiler for mere 2-3 minutes.

If desired, while the peppers are in the oven, prepare the pasta noodle side and dress in any reserved sauce from the meat mixture.  *I make sure to keep those juices exactly for this reason!

Garnish your plate with a bit of extra chopped basil, perhaps grated parmesan, and you have certainly elevated those hum-drum stuffed peppers!!


Jalapeño Creamed Corn Stuffed Tomatoes

Like most, when the outside air turns warm (hello 💐 Spring!!) and our grill is always going, I love me some corn!  Not many vegetables go so well with grilled meats and BBQ!  However, to avoid the debacle that is shucking corn and/or soaking it, taking up room on our grill (we were also making racks of ribs, friends) and messy corn-on-the-cob eating faces..I decided for a different route!

Besides corn, cream and spice are my other two favorite food groups, so let us combine them shall we??  You may think, “oh, I’ve had creamed corn growing up.  I don’t like it.  Way too sweet.  Too gloopy.  No cans for me.”  Well, just try it my way, please!!  The corn here keeps its slight sweetness, but it also keeps its shape and crunch!  The cream doesn’t taste artificial and a slight heat from the jalapeño really brings life to this dish!  Jalapeños bring life to me, but that’s another blog post in the making….anyway, just try it would ya!

*ok, the tomatoes are optional, but they’re adorable, easy and healthy!  If you prefer just the jalapeño creamed corn, I don’t blame you one bit.  I “sampled” this far too often before I stuffed the roasted tomatoes for our meal.  

The Starting Lineup

  • 4-6 on the vine tomatoes 
  • 16oz frozen corn 
  • 1-2 jalapeños, minced (we like a bit of heat, so I used two and left seeds in!)
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt & pepper 
  • Milk, to thin at the end (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place a rack about 6″ under your broiler.  Also prepare a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Rinse and pat dry your tomatoes.  Using a serrated knife, carefully cut off the tops of each tomato and set aside.  Now using a spoon, also carefully run along the inside and scoop out the seeds/juice.  *It may seem tough at first, you can use your knife to get things going, but it all scoops out together beautifully.  Sprinkle the insides of each tomato with a pinch of salt and ground pepper and set the cored tomatoes aside along with their “lids”.

Now, heat a medium sized skillet with 1 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat.  *I used my favorite, fabulous green chili infused oil from our local oil & vinegar market, 1890.  Sooooo good!  Pour the bag of corn straight into the hot skillet along with the minced jalapeño(s).  Toss around a bit till you really start to smell that roasting flavor, about 4-5 minutes, adding the garlic for the last 30 seconds.

Drop the temperature down to medium-low.  To the now heated through corn and peppers, add in the cubed cream cheese, butter, cayenne and salt & pepper.  Stir to combine and help melt.  

After it sits for a bit, prior to stuffing the tomatoes, I stir in a bit of milk to thin to your desired consistency.  It will come back and hold together, I promise.

*While the creamed corn is coming together, place the cored tomatoes onto your baking sheet and pop in the oven for a few minutes, allowing to soften and heat up.

Once combined, (and thoroughly sampled) remove the sheet of warmed tomatoes from the oven and scoop spoonfuls of the spicy, creamy corn straight in!  I like it overflowing!!  Top each filled tomato with its “lid” and place the baking sheet back into the oven and switch over to broil.  Now you can use low or high setting, but just watch closely!!  This just takes mere minutes, especially if on high!

Remove from oven and serve with ..oh I dunno…maybe a rack of ribs, roasted potatoes and cheddar biscuits!  We kind of liked that 😉 Enjoy!!

Smokey Gnocchi Toscana 

Who doesn’t love Olive Garden’s famous “Zuppa Toscana”?  It’s a delicious blend of sausage, kale and potatoes in a creamy broth…my only small problem with the soup (more so my family’s problem) is it will not fill my hearty boys and husband’s appetite up!  Nope, soup in general just won’t cut it!

Now since I was craving a big bowl of Toscana comfort, I had to figure out a way to change it into something a bit more substantial if it were to be mine.  I have to say, it came pretty easy to me..thank goodness.  How about we make the broth into a rich, more flavor packed cheese sauce and amp up the potato texture by using those fluffy pillows from heaven, otherwise known as gnocchi.  Hey, gnocchi’s are in fact made from potato flour..I do have a little bit of genius left in me.  My boys tend to suck it out of me at times.  I also made sure it was chocked full of (not too) spicy sausage and healthy kale.  Yep, with all those Italian flavors going on, even my boys will slurp up the greens!

Last, but not least, I topped it all off with some crispy, crumbled bacon for another layer of smokey flavor…drooling…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 package Gnocchi 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4+ cups Kale (a Kale/Spinach blend would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk, plus more to thin cheese sauce if needed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped for garnish

First and ALWAYS foremost is prepping your ingredients to have at the ready!!  Chop and mince the garlic and shred the cheese if it hasn’t already been done for you.  I’ll be taking sous chef applications soon 😉

Now onto the cooking part my multi-tasking friends!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and on a foil lined baking sheet, lay out the bacon and cook till slightly crisp (about 15 minutes, rotating once in the oven).  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Keep the oven on, but drop the temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of salted water up to a boil (for the Gnocchi) and in a separate large pan, heat up the olive oil to medium heat and begin browning the sausage, chopping up with a spoon as you go.

Water boiling: add in Gnocchi and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top.  Drain and set aside.

Sausage: once cooked through and slightly crumbled, remove from pan and drain the grease slightly.  *leave about a tablespoon of grease please.

In the same pan that the sausage cooked in add in the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the kale and garlic and allow to wilt down.  Once quickly wilted, add the sausage back in along with the Gnocchi.  Remove from heat.

Pesto cheese sauce: in a medium sauce pan melt the butter and then whisk in the flour till it makes a rue (paste).  Now you will whisk in the milk for about 3 minutes till starts to thicken.  Add in the pesto, 1/2 of each the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and a pinch of salt and pepper.  *It may get a little thick here, so just thin by whisking another couple tablespoons of milk in at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

You’re at the finish line now!  In a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, spoon in the Gnocchi, sausage and kale mix.  Pour that super cheesy pesto sauce ALL over and top with the remaining cheeses.  Cover with foil and place in the 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  

Bump up the oven to 425 degrees and pull the foil off, allowing to bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheesy top gets nice and brown.  Remove from oven and relish in the “it smells soooooo good in here” praises!  Make sure to top it all off with the crumbled bacon..NEVER forget the bacon!  *Let rest for 5 minutes before serving..remember it’s going to be hot!  

Serve with a simple salad, warm bread sticks and you have yourself a hit!  

Baked “Fried” Chicken w/ Alabama White Sauce

Not everyone is familiar with the wide variety of barbecue sauces that exist in this great country.  Most know of the thick, slightly sweet Kansas City style, the tangy vinegar or mustard based Carolina flavors and that damn good bold and spicy Texas rendition.  However, if you ever find yourself in the northern (or even not so north) parts of Alabama, you’ll find their zesty, tangy and a bit quirky WHITE version.  Yep!  White bbq sauce that I must admit is pretty darn tasty!!

It originated in 1925 by the legendary Bob Gibson (his restaurant is still there and busy as ever!) where he created a tangy, mayonnaise based concoction that is great for marinating, basting or dipping.  Really, every southern home should have this condiment on hand for the more traditional smoked or grilled chicken, pulled pork sandwiches or even a fantastic french fry sauce!  Give it a try..I know it won’t be your last time! 

*Their are a few renditions of the famous white sauce, but as long as you have mayo, vinegar, salt and pepper, you can add to it!

The Starting Lineup
Baked “Fried” Chicken

  • 4 Chicken Breasts, thin sliced
  • 3/4 cup Alabama White Sauce
  • 1 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Alabama White Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Creole mustard 
  • 1 tsp horseradish, prepared
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 

Alabama White Sauce ingredients..

At least an hour before you’re planning on eating, mix up the Alabama White Sauce so that A.  The flavors can really meld together in the refridgerator and B.  You can marinate the chicken in 1/2 of the sauce prior to dredging and baking.

In a medium size bowl, simply whisk together all of sauce ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Next, in either a baking dish or a gallon-size ziplock bag, pour out about half of the sauce to coat the chicken breasts.  *Make sure not to cross contaminate here!

Cover both the bowl of remaining white sauce and the now coated chicken with plastic wrap/zip up bag.  Place in the refridgerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.  

Time to eat!!  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prepare a foil-lined baking sheet with a wire rack on top (you may need to spray the rack with non-stick).  Remove the marinated chicken from the refridgerator.

*This next step is optional, but recommended….In a skillet heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat.  Add in the 1 3/4 cups of  Panko and the 1/4 cup of cornmeal.  Lightly brown the breading, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a shallow dish.

To the (toasted) breadcrumbs, whisk in the spices.

Take each sauce coated chicken breast, one by one, and dredge in the spiced (and toasted) breadcrumbs.  Gently press the panko on as well as possible and transfer each to the wire racked baking sheet.  It’s ok if it’s not perfect..rustic is pretty!  

Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until outside is nice and crunchy and the centers are cooked through.  

Serve with a small dish of that tangy Alabama White Sauce for dipping or just pour on over the chicken!  I like to accompany ours with a side of bacon black eyed peas, a country salad and bread and butter..enjoy!!

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