Tag Archives: texas

BBQ Bacon Ranch Meatball Subs

Frozen meatballs are always a staple in my freezer for easy & quick last-minute dinner or appetizer ideas.  However, most of my friends and family get stuck in the rut of only using them for Italian flavored meals, which is great, but let’s change it up just a bit!

Awhile back when trying to think creatively, something struck me when my 6-year-old son asked for BBQ (we do live in Texas and a giant smoker owns our back porch) for dinner.  Well, I hadn’t made my weekly grocery run yet but I did have meatballs in the freezer, a slow-cooker and a few jars of barbecue sauce in the pantry…change my thinking and the standard marinara sopped hoagie was about to receive a southern twist!  After a few ingredients were added and the smells were filtering through my house (did you see there’s bacon too??), I just KNEW I had a winner on my hands!  Boy did I ever!

*You can leave the bacon in strips or chopped.  Ill often do simple crispy strips for my husband and I, but the chopped is easy for lil mouths.

*I also go back and forth with sliced cheese or shredded…sliced is gooey’er but shredded works in a pinch!  I still say cheddar is best here!

*If you’d like this as more of an appetizer you can make them into sliders or just pour onto a serving dish, sprinkle with bacon, cheese and green onions.  Keep toothpicks & cocktail napkins handy!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package frozen fully cooked home-style meatballs 
  • 2 jars of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet
  • 1 onion, rough chop
  • 1 package bacon, rough chopped and cooked
  • Sliced or shredded cheese (i.e. Cheddar, Jack, Colby)
  • Sub/hoagie rolls, lightly toasted

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Simple, simple, simple!  First, lightly spray your slow cooker with a non-stick spray and then add in the chopped onions.  Next, add in the frozen meatballs, sprinkle on the ranch dressing dry mix and pour the bbq sauce over top.  Toss to coat.  Cover and set on low for 4-6 hours.  Yep, you’re done until it’s time to assemble the subs!

Fast forward to dinner time…….this is how I serve ours:

I preheat my broiler and line a baking sheet with foil.  I first halve the hoagie buns lengthwise and give a light toast under the broiler (watch veryyyyy carefully as it goes quick!).  Then, buns still on baking sheet, I scoop on about 4-5 of the meatballs along with extra bbq sauce onto the toasted rolls from the slow cooker.  Finally, top with the crunchy cooked bacon and then copious amounts of cheese.  Place back under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly…enjoy!!

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Milanesa de Carne with Roasted Jalapeño Chimichurri

Today I’m going south of the border…like SOUTH, south of the border with this simple, comforting dish that is very popular in parts of Mexico and South America.  The milanesa I prepared is a variation of the Italian version brought over (think chicken parmigiana) more than a century ago.  It can be any meat of your choosing: beef, chicken or pork and lightly dredged and shallow-fried till golden.  In fact, health conscience people are even baking them to cut down on their fried food intake.  To each their own…though I stick with the authentic way!

I amp my recipe up with the slightly spicy and smoky flavor of my Roasted Jalapeno Chimichurri!  It’s quite simple and very versatile!  Make sure to use it with your potatoes as well, and if there is any leftover, spoon it over eggs, burritos, sandwiches or a dipping sauce!  Finally, make sure to squeeze that fresh lemon over each bite as the acid cuts through the fried richness…salivating now.

The Starting Lineup

Milanesas

  • 4-6 (appx 1 1/2 lbs) Thinly cut beef steaks, i.e. literally “Beef Milanesa” in my grocer’s meat section.
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs + 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (can substitute in Panko bread crumbs)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • vegetable oil
  • Lemons, quartered, for serving/squeezing over top the milanesa

Roasted Jalapeños Chimichurri

  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 2 cups parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp dry red wine
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper, to taste

*Serve with a simple salad, crispy roasted potatoes and lemon wedges.

Start with the Chimichurri sauce (this can also be done the night before).  Roast your jalapenos over an open flame (gas oven/grill) or under your broiler, turning until the skin is slightly charred and blistered.  Let the jalapenos steam in a closed paper bag or plastic wrap covered dish for about 10 minutes.  Remove the outside blistered skins and the seeds.

Using a food processor, blender or an immersion blender (like I did), combine all of the Chimichurri ingredients and blend until fairly smooth.  Cover and set aside in your refrigerator.

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Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, to keep the fried and breaded steaks warm while you cook the others.

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and in a large zip lock, bag combine the steaks, lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Let sit out and get to room temperature while your heat up the oil.

In 3 shallow dishes:

1st dish:  Flour   2nd dish:  beaten eggs   3rd dish:  breadcrumbs seasoned w/ garlic powder, dried parsley, salt & pepper.

Heat 1/2 inch of  oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat.  Make sure the oil is hot prior to frying up the steaks.

One by one, dredge each steak lightly in the flour, then the eggs, followed by an even breadcrumb coating.  Place in the hot oil, cooking each side for about 3-4 minutes until a golden brown crust.  Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet in the oven to soak up any excess grease and keep warm while preparing the remaining steaks. *TIP: You may need to lightly pat dry the lime marinated steaks with a paper towel prior to the dredging process.

Serve each steak with a simple side salad, roasted potatoes (or fries) and lemon wedges.  Drizzle the Chimichurri sauce over top and enjoy!

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Braised Red Wine Pot Roast with Cheesy Potato Pierogis

Pot roast is notorious for being a family favorite.  It’s a hearty meal that taste like you’ve slaved over the stove all day, yet is easy to prepare while still being affordable for the working man and woman.  So basically, we like to have this meal often, especially as the weather cools down.  I love Fall and Winter.

Now, that being said, growing up and into my 20’s it was such the same, old-fashioned “pot roast”.  I am an advocate for the saying, “don’t fix what isn’t broken”, but I also like to change things up.  So THIS is a roast that has all of the same qualities as mentioned in my opening, BUT is spruced up just enough that it is absolutely wonderful for a holiday get together or dinner party!…plus, you can finish that bottle of red at dinner!  Did you see the potato pierogi’s instead of your typical cut russets??  Yes!!!  Doooo iitttt friends….

*Can be made in your slow-cooker, no problem!  If you would like to take an extra step, you can sear the meat (add to slow cooker), followed by sautéing the vegetables and scraping up the brown bits with the liquids while on a low boil.. Pour into your slow cooker, over the roast, add seasonings and cover on low for 7-8 hours.  High, 5-6.

**It can also be braised in a large covered pot (same directions) on your stove top on medium-low (simmer).

The Starting Lineup

  • 4-5 lb chuck roast, seasoned all over with kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon oil (i.e. canola, vegetable, olive)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups mushrooms (I prefer whole, but you can slice)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups dry red wine (i.e. cabernet)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Fresh thyme & rosemary, bundle/”Bouquet Garni”
  • Parmesan cheese, hand grated, garnish
  • Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped, garnish
  • *To thicken sauce, if needed: 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp milk (optional) per cup of juice, once removed from the oven.

Quick Pierogis

  • 1 package potato and cheese pierogis, frozen (12-16 count)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

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Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In an oven-safe Dutch Oven pot, heat to medium-high and add in the oil.  Sear all sides of your roast till browned on the outside (about 12-15 minutes).  Transfer roast to dish and set aside.

To that same pot, add in the onions, carrots, mushrooms and garlic, add a bit more oil if needed, cook down for 4-5 minutes.  Next, add in your tomato paste, broth, wine and water.  Bring to a boil while scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of your pot with a wooden spoon.  Soooo much flavor there!!

Turn off your burner, add back in the seared roast (plus any drippings from the dish it was resting on) along with the bay leaf, thyme & rosemary.  Cover and transfer to the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours.


When your roast has almost finished being fork tender, bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil.  Add in your pierogis and cook to package directions/drain.

On a large serving platter, lay out the cooked, hot pierogis and top with the cheddar cheese (melts beautifully!).  Place your roast and veggies right in the center along with a couple ladles of the rich, beefy red wine gravy over top.  Sprinkle on the parsley and grate some fresh parmesan cheese over top.  Enjoy!!

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Runza’s

Being from the great Midwest state of Nebraska, there are two things that are certain…college football and Runza’s!  You basically cannot have one without the other.
Now, technically these are most often called Bierock’s and are of a Russian/German background ..there’s that German in me again.  However, Nebraska has made these bad-boys a delicacy due to its chain of famous Runza’s Restaurants, established back by a brother and sister in 1949.
Whether there, or now in your home too, you can try the original, original with cheese, or make it your own with chili, southwest or philly ingredients, swiss and mushroom..you name it!  Hey, sometimes I’m even known to make a breakfast version of the classic.  Where are you on that Runza?? 😉
The Starting Lineup
Dough
  • 1 package yeast
    2 cups warm water
    1/2 cup sugar
    7 cups flour (regular all-purpose, unbleached)
    2 eggs
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon salt
Filling
  • 2 lbs ground beef
    1 yellow onion, finely chopped
    5 cups finely shredded cabbage (1/2 a head of cabbage)
    2 tablespoons water
    1/2 teaspoon oregano
    1
    + teaspoon pepper
    2+ teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

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DOUGH

In your stand mixer bowl, add the yeast packet to the 2 cups of warm water, stir to dissolve.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Now with the bread hook attachment, mix together the yeast, sugar and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Add eggs, oil and salt. Gradually add remaining flour and beat for about 5 minutes, until all is combined. Dough will be soft.

Pour dough into greased bowl. Cover with towel and let double in size in a warm place. This will take about 2 hours.

FILLING

Brown your hamburger, 1/2 of the chopped onions and a hefty pinch of both salt and pepper in a large skillet.  Break up the beef very well.

Next, steam the cabbage and remaining onion by adding both to the meat-filled skillet, add water/cover and steam for 10 minutes, or until cabbage and onion are soft. Turn off heat.  Mix in the Worcestershire and oregano, taste for more salt & pepper. Let cool.

ASSEMBLY TIME

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Turn dough onto clean work surface, add a bit of flour to your surface and rolling pin if needed/dough is sticky. Knead for a minute. Cut into about 12 ‘chunks’, working with one at a time.

Roll each chunk into either a circular or rectangle shape, about 1/8th of an inch and 6″-8″ around *there is no wrong or right as it all taste delicious!

In the middle of each rolled out piece of dough, lay a slice of American cheese down.  Top with a hefty 1/2 cup+ of filling and similar to a burrito, fold edges over and pinch together. Place filled pockets, seam side down, onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets.  Cover the two baking sheets of filled Runza’s with a tea towel and, again, keep in a warm place for a second rise for about 15-30 minutes.

Finally, place into your preheated oven, 400 degrees, for 20 minutes till golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy with some crinkle cut French fries and ranch!  Enjoy!

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*The leftovers can be frozen and even cooked straight from frozen!  Yay!  Place on a lined cookie sheet for 45-50 minutes at 325 degrees!

 

Roasted Malt Vinegar Potatoes

Every now and again I like to transport our dining experience to England…or rather.. perhaps just to a pub.  I dunno …Regardless, we do enjoy a big old plate of “Fish & Chips” with a tall beer and I was bound to make it happen.

However, this time I did not feel like cutting, soaking and frying homemade French fries (I know, I know…they come bagged frozen, and I currently happen to have two large bags in my freezer, but if you’re gonna do it..do it right), so I decided on roasted potatoes!

Naturally, they couldn’t be just any roasted potatoes, I needed a ‘British element’ to them.  Therefore, the presoaking in hot vinegar gives them that extra added bite and the roasting after helps them crisp up like your typical chips!  Once topped off with a bit more malt vinegar, the only difference you’ll notice is the extra time you have to enjoy!  Easy Peasy!

*You can use russet potatoes just as well, just cut into about 1″ cubes.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs small potatoes (Yukon gold/ or yellow), halved
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste 

Garnish

  • Malt vinegar
  • Chives, fresh
  • Dipping Sauce

In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add in both of the vinegars and the tablespoon of salt.   Lay the potatoes into the hot salted, vinegar water and cover for 1 hour.

When the hour is up, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and non-stick spray.

Completely drain the potatoes and pat dry with a tea towel or paper towels.  Once they are dry, place on the baking sheet and sprinkle on the cornstarch.  Follow that with a drizzle of the olive oil and evenly distribute with your hands.  Finally, add a good amount of the salt and pepper over top and make sure they’re in a single, even layer.  This will ensure they crisp up and do not steam and get soggy.

Bake these for 20 minutes.  Flip and toss and bake for another 20 minutes until just fork tender, golden and crisp.

Serve this in Lou of “chips” with your beer-battered cod and cold beer!  We also like to drizzle a bit more malt vinegar over top and fresh chives.  Enjoy!

MaltPotatoes

Chowder Fries

Besides the scents, visuals and tastes of pumpkin, nothing says Fall more than a warm bowl of soup!  Especially a creamy bowl of New England’s favorite, the clam chowder!  Now yes, I know I live in the south, but I’ve had reoccurring dreams of visiting the east coast to watch the leaves change while sipping on hot cider and bobbing for apples.  Maybe sneak in a visit to ‘creepy’ Salem too…basically every east coast Fall cliché IS on my bucket-list.  One day….

So for now, I light a spiced candle and get out my candy apple red Dutch oven to reinvent the classic into our family favorite, Chowder Fries!  …quick toying with me Fall and just get here already!!

*You can absolutely use vegetable broth instead, but I find that the chicken stock brings a richer flavor.

The Starting Lineup

  • French fries (frozen or scratch made), Old Bay seasoning optional for tossing with
  • 5 Strips bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried/ or ground thyme
  • 3 Tbsp flour, all-purpose
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock/ or vegetable broth
  • 1 10oz can clams, juices reserved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Flat leaf parsley (chopped) or green onions (sliced), garnish

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Heat a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven to med-high heat and add in the olive oil and bacon and cook until crispy.  Transfer the crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Keep the bacon grease in the pot.

Next, melt the butter into that bacon grease and then add in the onions, stirring often, followed by the garlic.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and finally sprinkle in the thyme and stir together.

*Meanwhile, if making a bag of frozen fries, preheat the oven and line a baking tray with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.  Whether frozen or not, I like to lightly coat my fries in a bit of oil and dusting of cornstarch, toss together.  This creates a great crispy exterior!

To the sautéed butter, onions and garlic, whisk in the flour for about 1 minute till everything ‘clumps up’ and is lightly browned.  To that, slowly whisk in the chicken stock/ or broth, milk, the juice from the clams and toss in the bay leaf.  After a couple minutes of whisking to incorporate, stir in the diced potatoes.

Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes; potatoes are tender.

**Fry or bake your fries during this time.

Once time is up, stir in the half & half, the clams and add in your salt & pepper to taste (I am pretty heavy-handed with that myself).

If eating family style, season the French fries with salt or even better, Old Bay, and transfer to a serving platter.  Ladle the warm and creamy clam chowder over top the hot fries and top with the crisp bacon crumbles and parsley and/or scallions!  Sooooo good!  Enjoy!

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German Beef Rouladen

This rich and hearty dish may be foreign and unheard of if you are not of German heritage or frequent European inspired restaurants.  Now being German myself and growing up attending Oktoberfest while eating sausages, kraut and warm, soft Bavarian pretzels in loads of beer cheese…I simply adore Rouladen.  Not because we had it often, rarely ever, but because it was mainly served as a Christmas dinner dish or perhaps a Sunday supper if you were lucky.  It’s a special treat, where it takes a bit of thought and tedious work in assembling, twining, searing and braising the beef…but oh-so worth it!

Another reason that many ‘non-Germans’ may have not tried this specialty dish is because the ingredients could sound a bit odd together.  I get it.  Rouladen usually consists of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then braised until the beef is about fork tender.   Yes, we like a bit of ‘saur’ to our meals, but this works wonderfully….and oh that bacon!!  It cooks inside the beef, which in turn actually bastes itself and creates SUCH a rich flavor and tender meat!…drooling now.

*If you cannot find pre-sliced beef (top round/chuck), your grocer’s butcher would be happy to help!  You’ll just have to pound it thin once you get home. 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • Beef, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4″ thin to about 4″x6″ (chuck roast or top round slices).  I typically use about 8-10 slices.
  • Whole grain mustard/German mustard
  • 1 pckg Bacon (reserve 2 slices and chop up)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips or chopped
  • Dill (or German) pickle spears, 8-10 
  • Sweet pickle relish, a couple Tbsp’s
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use the leftover from the Rouladen stuffing)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Flour or cornstarch + milk slurry (to thicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • *Butcher twine or toothpicks’ to hold beef rolls together

Serve Alongside (optional)

  • Boiled potatoes, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and dill (russet/peeled)
  • Warmed German red cabbage (jarred is fine)

The “hardest” part of this recipe is the assembling…once you get everything prepped (chopped, diced, rolled and secured) you’re in the clear and can enjoy a German bier while smelling the braised goodness!

When everything is in it’s place, begin by spreading about a tablespoon of the mustard on one side of the thinly pounded beef, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (easy on the salt).  Next lay 1-2 slices of bacon down lengthwise, followed by the onions, the sweet relish and finally the dill pickle slice horizontal to the length.  Roll up each prepared beef slice around that dill pickle and secure (as best you can) with the butcher twine or a bevy of toothpicks.

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch-oven (I used my enameled Lodge cast-iron), add in the reserved 2 slices of chopped bacon and render the fat over medium heat.  When bacon is slightly crisped add in the rolled and secured Rouladen (about 1/3 – 1/2 the batch at a time) and brown all sides to create almost a crust.  Remove the seared beef rolls and continue with the rest of the batch (should take about 20 minutes for all).

To that bacon/beef grease (you may need to add 1 Tbsp more of vegetable oil depending), add in the carrots, onions and celery and allow to sweat down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Next, pour in the red wine, again scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits…flavor!! and simmer, stirring for 4-5 minutes.

Add the seared Rouladen back into the pot with the veggies/wine and pour in the beef broth till it covers about 2/3rd the way up the meat.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer on low for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once finished, carefully remove the tender beef rolls to a platter.  Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup milk and whisk into the juices in the pot.  This will thicken and make a gravy.  Now, optional, you can whisk in the sour cream for more richness and a slight tang that the Germans love in their cooking.

To serve:  Thoroughly remove the butcher twine or toothpicks and place Rouladen on a plate, cover with a hearty amount of the gravy and serve with warmed German cabbage and boiled dill-flavored potatoes to help sop up that gravy with!  Prost!!

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