Tag Archives: comfort food

Chicken & Bacon Cheddar Waffle’wiches

This is a masterpiece. I am not kidding. By now I imagine that most of the country has heard of the delicious meal called “Chicken & Waffles”…Well let me introduce you to its hand-held counterpart, the Chicken Waffle’wich! You get the same flavors, but no fork and knife needed! Plus who could argue that a savory bacon & cheddar buttermilk waffle doesn’t enhance this delight!  

Disclaimer: this recipe made 6 large sandwiches and 3 of us ate every morsel of them in one quick sitting.

The Starting Lineup

Waffle Batter 

 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of black pepper & salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten, room temperature
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6-8 strips bacon, cooked & crumbled, *leave bacon grease in pan

Fried Chicken Cutlets 
 

  • 6 thin sliced chicken breasts
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk (chicken should be marinated in this for at least 1 hour)
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Oil (canola, peanut) for frying

Garnish

  • Maple Mayo (equal parts real maple syrup and mayonnaise)
  • Red Hot Mayo (equal parts Franks Red Hot Sauce & mayonnaise plus 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato

Preheat you waffle iron. *I like to heat it to medium (the 3 out of 5 on my iron). Also preheat your oven to 225 degrees. If you haven’t done so already, place your chicken into a shallow dish and cover with 2 cups buttermilk. Let sit in fridge for at least 1 hour.
Now in a large bowl combine the first 5 dry waffle ingredients, making a bit of a ‘well’ in the center. 
  

Can you kind of see that “well”?

 Add your beaten eggs into that ‘well’ along with the buttermilk and the cooled, melted butter. Stir to combine all of the ingredients, it’s ok if the batter is slightly lumpy. Then gently fold in the cooked & crumbled bacon and the shredded cheddar cheese. 
   The waffle iron should now be hot and ready to go! Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto each waffle segment. Close and let it do its thing. Once you hear that beep and they’re done, transfer to a wire rack lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. *You want them to be on a rack ideally so they do not get soggy. 

Waffles!! I do not know why the lighting is all weird here, but…

 Chicken time!! Take the chicken & buttermilk dish out of the fridge. In another shallow dish, combine the two cups flour along with the spices. Finally, have another wire rack lined baking sheet ready to hold the floured chicken cutlets.
One by one, take a chicken cutlet out of the buttermilk and place into the flour. Lightly coat each side and then put BACK into the buttermilk and then BACK into the flour. Once coated twice, lay the dredged chicken onto the wire rack. Repeat with all cutlets. *Now my hands here were pretty messy, so I unfortunately could not take a picture of this process..I hope you get the idea. 

Coated and ready to fry!

 Now let’s get that pan you cooked the bacon in up to med-high temp, see why you needed to keep that grease! If needed, add a bit of oil to the pan as well, so it comes about an inch up the pan side.  
Place (careful..hot oil!!) the chicken, about two at a time into the pan. I cooked mine about 4-5 minutes on the first side and then 3-4 minutes on the other side. Transfer the cooked chicken to another wire racked baking sheet and into your preheated oven (along with those waffles) to keep warm. 
   Once all is cooked, hot and ready to go it’s assembly time!! By all means, create your own masterpiece here but around my house this is how we do it..
On one waffle slather on the maple mayo, on another waffle slather on the Red Hot mayo. Top the maple mayo-d waffle off with a crunchy chicken cutlet, lettuce & tomato and then the Red Hot mayo-d waffle. Cut in half at an angle and enjoy!!! *You may just need to hold these bad boys together with a wooden skewer, they’re huge! 👌 
 

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Italian Stuffed Meatloaf Florentine

I’m giving away a secret…my famous Italian meatloaf recipe!  Ok, well maybe it’s only famous between my sister and I, but it’s ridiculous!!  It’s almost like a ginormous meatball or maybe a deconstructed lasagna..call it what you want, but we call it delicioso!

It’s a fun twist on your traditional American meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  There’s nothing wrong with old fashioned comfort food,  but this spin will keep your week nights a little less boring.. ☺️ You can also prepare the meat mixture the night before and then just sauté the spinach and assemble the next evening if you’re crunched for time after a busy day at work.

I hope you enjoy this family favorite recipe as much as me…and my sister. 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 15oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen spinach, slighty thawed
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO 

Side Dish

  • 1 pckg noodles (I.e. Penne, spaghetti)
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

We’re going to first rinse and chop & dice our vegetables (onion, garlic, bell pepper & parsley).  You’ll also seperate the minced garlic.  2 cloves for the spinach and 3 cloves for the meat mixture. 

 

Heat the EVOO to med-low in a skillet and add in the 2 cloves minced garlic.  Cook till fragrant, about 1 minute.   

 

Next, you’ll add in the spinach.  *dont worry if it’s still a bit frozen, it will work.  You can also use fresh spinach if you have that available.  

Stir the garlic spinach mix occasionally till warm.  Transfer the cooked spinach to a dish and set aside while keeping the leftover liquid in the skillet. *I like to place my cooked spinach in a paper towel lined bowl to soak up the extra juices. 

 

While you’re finishing up cooking the spinach (aka the florentine) portion of this masterpiece, we’ll start the meat mixture.  Super simple!

In a very large bowl, combine almost everything else.  The beef, pork, veggies, garlic, bread crumbs, seasonings, the beaten eggs and the milk.  Remember to take off your jewelry because you’re about to get your hands dirty!  Get in there and thoroughly mix this up. 

  


Now, in a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick, you’re going to start the fun part! 

Take about 2/3 of the meat mixture and make a firmly packed rectangle while pressing down the middle to create an almost 1″ thick by 2″ tall “walls”.  You’re going to be filling this area with some good stuff! 

 

Spread your container of ricotta cheese in the base 1st. 


Next, you’re going to spread the garlic-spinach mix overtop that.  

Then sprinkle about 1 cup of mozzarella cheese over your spinach. 


Finally, we’ll top this off with the remaining 1/3 meat mixture.  I like to almost make ‘hamburger patties’ out of it and place over top while pinching it all together to make a seal.  It’s really easier than it seems.  Then I just press and pack it tight to keep that perfect rectangular shape.

 

Pop this in your preheated oven.  It will cook for one hour.

After about 30 minutes of you’re stuffed meatloaf cooking, start your noodles and sauce.  I like to pour my sauce right into the skillet we sautéed our spinach in.  That flavor from the remaining EVOO, garlic and spinach will only enhance the flavor of the jarred sauce.  *cook your noodles about 2 minutes less than the package directions.  Once time is up ladle straight into the marinara sauce, along with about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. 

   

While your side is coming together, that 1 hour should be up.  Sprinkle the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese over your cooked meatloaf and cook for about 10 more minutes, till cheese is bubbly and melted.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. 

   

Cut into thick slices and place over your marinara dressed noodles alongside a glass of good vino.  Enjoy!! 

 

*If you do not care for ricotta, you can substitute with all mozzarella cheese.  The thick slices of mozzarella in you’re grocers deli section would be ideal, nice and gooey!

*I chose a lean ground beef, because there’s enough fat in the ground pork to keep it juicy.

  

Twice Baked Shepards Pie

Wow!  This is honestly such a cool recipe in both taste and presentation.  Plus, if you have some hungry people in your life, these are sure to fill them up all while being inexpensive too!  

A fancy Sunday dinner in my home consists of steak and twice baked potatoes…crunchy, salty potato skin filled with creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes!   …and then I thought about how your normal Shepard’s Pie has that same mashed tater ‘crust’.  So why not combine the two??  Duh!! Genius I tell ya 😉💡

You can also make these a healthy way too!  Why not use a sweet potato, ground turkey or double veggies and a cauliflower mash on top?!   I’ll stick with my comfort version, but the healthy one can be all yours 😉 

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine 
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 1 cup milk or heavy cream 
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil  

Let’s bake some potatoes friends!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  With a fork, poke your potato about 6-8 times.  Coat each of these ginormous potatoes with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt.  Place the potatoes DIRECTLY onto the oven rack.  You can put a baking sheet under them on the rack below to catch any drippings.  These will bake for 1 hour. 


While the potatoes are baking, chop up your onion, carrot & garlic.  Chop the vegetables in uniform size to ensure they cook evenly. 


In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp EVOO and 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat.  Toss in your carrots and cook till just about soft (5 minutes).  Next add in your onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. 

  


Once the onions start ‘sweating’ their juices, add in the ground beef, thyme and salt & pepper.  Cook the meat till browned, about 10-12 minutes.


After your ground beef is cooked through and onions & carrots are soft, drain just a little of the grease (reserve some in pot).  Sprinkle in the flour one Tbsp at a time.  Quickly mix this in with your meat & veggie blend.  The flour will bind it all together and really thicken it up fast! 

   

Now to finish up your Shepards Pie filling!  Add in your broth, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire, peas & garlic.  Give it a good stir and bring heat down to a simmer.  This will cook down quite a bit and thicken up after 20-30 minutes.  It has SUCH a great, rich color to it!

   

While your filling is simmering away, your baked potatoes should be done.  Remove after the hour is up and allow to cool a bit, you need to be able to handle them.  Also, bump that oven up to 400 degrees.

Have a large bowl ready with the remaining butter already in it.  Cut each potato in half lengthwise.  With a spoon (carefully) scoop out about 90% of the potatoes flesh and put into the bowl.  Careful NOT to break that potatoes skin!  *I like to almost ‘outline’ where I’ll be scooping out, keep just enough flesh against the potatoes skin to keep its shape.  Place these hollowed out skins onto a baking sheet.

 With the potato flesh and butter now in the bowl, pour in your milk or heavy cream and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Now mash away!!  Or for creamier mashed potatoes, use an immersion blender if you have one available. 

Have ready your shredded cheddar and chopped parsley.

   

Once you’ve finished the potatoes, your meat filling will be cooked down and ready to go!!  The assembly step can be a bit messy, but that’s ok!  That just means it’s going to be good….

Scoop a hefty amount of your meat & veggie mix straight into your potato skin shell.   Next is the mashed potato layer.  Go ahead and be liberal with that amount as well!  What the heck right? 😉  *you of course can make this “pretty” and use an icing bag to add the mashed potato layer, but I like it more rustic myself.

 

Top each filled, potato off with a good amount of cheddar cheese and pop these bad boys in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Oh my, my, my…. 

 

Once time is up, remove from the oven and sprinkle with some chopped, fresh parsley for added flavor and color.  There you have it…Twice Baked Shepard’s Pie!! Enjoy! 

 

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!!

 

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