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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?? 😉



BLT Goat Cheese Pasta

I probably crave a traditional BLT sandwich a few times per week…arguably one of the best, simple sandwiches ever invented.  Now, one night at dinner, I wanted to elevate somewhat from my 12-year-old-self appetite and I figured out how to do just that!  Pasta!!

Yes, to feel the age I really am, all it takes is some yummy Italian food and a glass of wine to transport me back into my 30’s.  Plus, my husband prefers this sort of meal as well, not a random sandwich I put before him. 😉  So I already had the bacon on hand, a must, and I substituted the spinach leaves for iceberg and halved cherry tomatoes for the traditional beefsteak or Roma variety.  The kicker though, is that added touch of crumbled goat cheese at the end.  It melds beautifully into the warm pasta with the savory and sweet bacon and maple sauce.

Let me also note and close with…this meal takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and have on the table!  Gourmet, simple and oh so flavorful!


*As always, you can pair this with any sort of pasta, whether gluten free, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, etc.

The Starting Lineup

  • 10 oz linguine (or other long noodle)
  • 8 strips bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (plus more for thinning sauce, if desired)
  • 1 hefty Tbsp real Maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima here please)
  • 3 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 2oz goat cheese, crumbled

Prepare your pasta according to package directions/ al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet (as you’ll be adding all of your cooked pasta to this), cook your bacon pieces over medium heat till slightly crisp.  Remove all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease (depending, you may have that exact amount of bacon grease in your pan and won’t have to drain any).

Pour in the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to pick up any brown bits of bacon flavor.  The “fancy” word for this is deglazing..look at you!

Now over low heat, add in the maple syrup, spinach (1 cup at a time as it wilts), halved cherry tomatoes and mushrooms (<-optional), toss together.

Finally, add the cooked pasta and the goat cheese to the sauced skillet.  The goat cheese will melt in to the dish creating a creamy texture (If you like a thinner coating, just add a tablespoon of chicken broth at a time).  Serve with warm bread and a salad for a truly great and easy meal, enjoy!


Enchilada Meatball Sub

When a Turkey and Swiss just won’t cut it…I give you THIS!  Now, like most sane adults, I’m a sucker for a meatball sub, hoagie, grinder..whatever.  They’re gooood no matter what you call your sandwich!  The last time I played around with the ever popular recipe, I tweaked it with a cheddar and barbeque flair (try that one too please….ughhh sooo good).  However, THIS TIME, I’m giving it that TexMex flavor and turning the great state of Texas’ favorite enchilada into a handheld vessel.  Genius you say?  Yes.  Yes it is.

Now, you do not have to use the enchilada flavored meatballs to make only a sub sandwich.  By all means, use them on their own with a plate of rice, refried beans, warm tortillas or chips…wrap them in a large flour tortilla with extra enchilada sauce and beans or place them on a platter alongside toothpicks for a great appetizer!  No disappointment will follow.

* I used Oaxaca Cheese for my meatballs (Mexico’s version of mozzarella), but feel free to use any of your favorite melty cheese! I.e. Monterey Jack, mozzarella, cheddar blend, Pepper Jack, etc.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef
  • 15 ounce can enchilada sauce, divided
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (I kept seeds in on for mine)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, rough chop
  • 2 tsp each: cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Oaxaca cheese), to top

If making into sub sandwiches:

  • Bakery roll or Torta bread
  • Avocado/guacamole
  • Pickled onion
  • Jalapenos, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, panko, eggs, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro and spices until just incorporated.  I just use my good ol’ hands for this and no need to overwork.

Using an ice cream scooper or again, your hands as I did, make about 2″ balls and place into the 9×13 dish.  *Try to make them relatively the same size for even cooking.  You can always add/take away the meat mixture to make even.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce overtop all of the meatballs and cover with foil.  Bake in your 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and add the cheese overtop, bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes more.

Serve warm straight from pan with a side of rice, beans and tortillas OR turn into a monster sub sandwich with Mexican inspired toppings of your choice!  Enjoy!


Roasted Green Chile Artichoke Dip

Well, if artichoke dip wasn’t addictive enough, wait till you try it with the smoky kick of green chiles added to it!  At all of my get-together’s, I always like to have an assortment of goodies out, including an ooey, gooey cheese dip.  Now most can be heavy and bland, but this version will definitely spice up your party!

Another great and yummy idea for this dip, is you can use it to stuff chicken breast prior to baking or use it as a spread for a juicy hamburger!  Oh man…drooling!

*I realize that I used both canned AND fresh chiles in this dish.  Reason being, is I like the textural difference and flavor of both.  The canned gives off a good tang and the fresh add a smokiness to the dish.  However, feel free to use all fresh (so 2-3 peppers) or 1-2 cans of your favorite chiles…and I also like a bit of heat, so I added the jalapeno.  If you are more of the mild eating type, then simply omit!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (14oz) can/jar artichoke hearts in water, drained, rough chop
  • 1 (4oz) can green chile
  • 1 Anaheim or Hatch chile, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, roasted, peeled and chopped 
  • 4oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated/shredded (NO “green can” please!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Drain the artichokes and pour onto a paper towel and gently pat dry.  After the fresh peppers have roasted, steam in a paper sack or plastic bag for 15 minutes to soften skin.  Peel off the blackened skin, scrape out the seeds and chop up.

Combine all of the above, prepared ingredients into a large bowl.  Stir to fully incorporate and then transfer to either an oven safe 8×8 casserole dish or pie plate (coated in nonstick) or an 8″ cast iron pan.

Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until warmed though, hot and bubbly and golden brown on top!  I like to serve with tortilla or pita chips, baguette bread chunks, crostini or fresh cut veggies.



Cheesy Frenchies

This is more than just a grilled cheese.  This is the ‘chocolate molten lava cake’ of grilled cheeses.  The Cheese Frenchie, a super crunchy, battered and fried sandwich with a cornflake exterior is stuffed with as much American cheese as humanly possible.  Resulting in just that one bite that oozes warm melted cheese everywhere!

The history of this famous 1960 recipe stems from the now long gone, small, drive-thru restaurant known as King’s Food Host, based in Lincoln, Nebraska.  They had their success in the 60’s and 70’s, branching out into other Midwest states, but after their closing the Cheese Frenchie still lived on!  Now, if you don’t make them in your own kitchen, the popular Don & Millie’s restaurant, also located in Nebraska (my home state!), can prepare them for you…just like the ones from years ago.

So given its a rainy, RAINY, Sunday afternoon, I think I will curl up on the couch with a good movie and a platter of those warm Cheese Frenchies and tomato soup!


The Starting Lineup

Makes 12 triangles

  • 6 slices white bread
  • 6 slices American cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄2 cup milk
  • 3⁄4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • oil (for deep frying

Spread mayonnaise on bread, and use 2 slices of American Cheese each.  *ONLY American to stay true to the classic.

Cut sandwiches into triangles, cut off crust.

Combine egg, milk, flour and salt.  Dip the triangle sandwiches into egg/flour mixture.

Coat entirely with corn flake crumbs.

Deep Fry in oil at 375 degrees until golden and set on paper towel lined plate to absorb any extra oil.

Serve alongside a warm bowl of tomato soup or ketchup for dipping and a dill pickle!


Chicken Cordon Bleu en Croute

Fancy title, right?  I agree (to my own question), but it’s really so easy that my mother could do it and I’m not even saying that meanly. 😉  *unlike me, she loathes the kitchen.

I have another affinity to this recipe, not just because of it’s taste, but largely in part that it was my first “1st Place” winning recipe in a magazine contest a few years back!  Yep, I received my first $check$ from this and I often wonder who else in the world has since made it in their kitchen.

Ok, on to the backstory of the famous Chicken Cordon Bleu for those not ‘in the know’…

“A cordon bleu or schnitzel cordon bleu is a dish of meat wrapped around cheese, then breaded and pan-fried or deep-fried. Veal or pork cordon bleu is made of veal or pork pounded thin and wrapped around a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, breaded, and then pan fried or baked. For chicken cordon bleu chicken breast is used instead of veal. Ham cordon bleu is ham stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.”

Now that we’re all on the same page, you will see how I fancied my version up with baking it in the puff pastry and adding a light pan sauce to it.  No messy frying involved.  Plus with it’s gussied up appearance, this make a for a great in-home date night meal or you can easily double or triple the recipe for a dinner party.

*If shallots aren’t readily available (note: they’re usually by the garlic in your produce section), you may use about a tablespoon of diced red onion + a minced garlic clove.

**The puff pastry will be located in your freezer section’s dessert aisle.  My go to is from Pepperidge Farm, fyi.

The Starting Lineup


  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 thin slices ham, Black Forest ham from deli section preferred 
  • Egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water)

Pan Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
  • small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Chicken: Cut each breast horizontally through the center to create a total of four pieces. Place pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound gently to an even thickness, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place two chicken breast pieces in pan at a time and cook 2–3 minutes on each side to brown. Repeat with remaining chicken, then set aside to cool (no need to fully cook the chicken). Keep the skillet handy for further use; do not clean.
4. Cut the sheet of puff pastry dough into four squares. On a floured surface using a floured rolling pin, roll each square until doubled in size. Layer a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of ham and piece of seared chicken on the dough diagonally and fold the dough ends over the stack to form a pocket. Turn seam side down and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pieces of cheese, ham, chicken and pastry dough. Place two croutes on each baking sheet.
5. Brush tops with the egg wash. Place both baking sheets in oven and bake 25–30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes.
6. Sauce: About 15 minutes before the chicken is done, start the sauce. On medium-high, heat butter in the same pan used to sear the chicken. Add the minced shallot. When shallot starts to soften and brown, add the flour, stirring constantly to make a golden roux. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, then add the broth. Stir continuously until reduced by about half.
7. Spoon sauce onto plates and set two chicken croutes on each plate.  I like to serve our with a side of steamed or roasted asparagus.  Enjoy!



Adobo Shrimp Primavera

If this is your first time on my site, you may have noticed that I like to take your traditional recipes and give them a twist and a spike in flavor!  Who needs hum-drum?

Though it’s technically still winter and we definitely  have our cold days and nights, we also have some quite warm days (it is bi-polar Texas after all) and I was just totally over the typical stew dinner.  So here I give you my “Adobo Shrimp Primavera”, just in time for our approaching Spring!

This alfredo has a great smoky and slightly spicy flavor from both the chipotles and the adobo seasoning, but it keeps with tradition using cream and parmesan cheese.  You can also use your favorite fresh vegetables of choice for the primavera aspect and if you don’t care for shrimp, then use chicken!  ..or hey, keep it vegetarian and enjoy the best aspect of all…that sauce!!



The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb large fresh or thawed shrimp
  • 1-1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning (i.e. Goya brand)
  • 16oz pasta noodles of choice
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow squash, thickly sliced
  • 6oz asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 Chipotle in Adobo peppers, finely diced + 1 Tbsp sauce (use 1 pepper for mild sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (half & half ok)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with the Adobo seasoning, set aside.

Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and butter along with the squash, asparagus and spinach.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Next, stir in the halved cherry tomatoes, heavy cream, diced chipotle pepper + sauce and the shrimp.  Toss and cook until shrimp are opaque, about 6-7 minutes.

Finally add in the cooked and drained pasta noodles and parmesan cheese; toss and cook until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes.  Taste for more Adobo seasoning and/or salt if needed.

Serve in a large bowl along with extra parmesan cheese to garnish and warm crusty bread for soaking up the rich, slightly smoky and spicy cream sauce.  Enjoy!!


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