Chili Cheese Dog Bread

Love chili dogs? I do. Even as a decade-long vegetarian, I craved chili dogs when I was pregnant with the Boy. I really think there needs to be more research done on cravings while pregnant. Or cravings when you’re sitting in the hospital only able to have ice chips. Either way, more research – I will be happy to assist.

So this is, after all, just a really big chili dog for a crowd. Or just for me. This is also a total cheat meal / appetizer. You don’t cook anything really. You heat, shred, cut, top, bake, and garnish, but really cook absolutely nothing.

To me this is wide open for all kinds of adjustments, additions, and alterations. How about some alliteration?D&D_2673

1 loaf French bread
1 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded or more as needed
1 can hormel chili, no beans, heated in a small sauce pan
Nathan’s hot dogs
2 Tbs chives, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Slice French bread in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the bread to make a trench in each side. Take 1 cup of cheddar and divide between each half of bread. Place the hot dogs end to end and fit into bread. Feed any “extra” hot dog to patiently (Ha!) waiting dog.

Spoon chili over hot dogs and top with remaining cheddar. Place on baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Let cool slightly and cut into 3 inch segments. Garnish with chives.

Source: Delish.com

Ideas:

Add cole slaw on top (this will lead to a rant I’m not quite ready to dive into …. yet) after all toppings are heated and cheese has melted. Placement, my friends is very important.

Chopped onions / scallions on top. Could also sauté onions until golden.

Well-drained sauerkraut on top of chili, but under cheese.

Steam dogs in beer first (with a sliced onion), dry and continue with recipe.

Pull-Apart Cheesy Garlic Bread

This is the third version I’ve made since this past fall, but only the first version I’ve been relatively happy with. There might be still more work to be done, but I will keep at it like the trooper that I am. D&D_1643

Things I’ve learned:
-You need a sturdy bread. A round is okay, but I like a Chicago Italian loaf the best so far. A white bread (version #2, I used White Mountain Bread round) and it was just too soft. You can’t really pull-apart the bread. Sort of defeats the purpose.
-Roast the head of garlic. Great flavor and compliments the minced garlic. Yes.
-Melt the butter in a pot and add all flavorings. Keep on low to infuse the butter with lots of flavor.
-Use sliced cheese in the lower part of the cross-hatched of bread. Use grated cheese above.
-Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
-Fresh herbs – your choice but I like chives, parsley, and finely minced rosemary.
-Red pepper flakes are a must, even if it’s just a tiny pinch.
-Make the cross-hatch pattern large – it’s easier to stuff than a tight cross-hatch pattern.

Loaf of Chicago Italian Bread
Head of garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 Tbs minced parsley
1 tsp finely minced rosemary
I Tbs Dijon mustard
1/3 pound provolone, sliced kind of thick
1/3 pound colby, grated on large holes of box grater
minced chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut top 1/2 inch of head of garlic to expose cloves. Place on piece of foil, pour olive oil on garlic, wrap tightly in foil and bake about 40 minutes, until garlic head is soft. Remove and set aside. Leave oven on.

Melt butter over medium low heat in saucepan, add in minced garlic, salt, red pepper, black pepper, zest and juice from lemon. Add in parsley, rosemary, and Dijon mustard. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place bread on foil and make a large cross-hatch pattern, slicing most of the way, but not all the way through. Brush tops and sides with butter. Slide provolone in crevices, then squish roasted garlic in with the provolone, and then stuff the colby as well. Spread remaining butter with herbs into crevices and on top.

Bake until cheese melts, 18 – 20 minutes. Top with chives and serve.

15 January 2018

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have never cooked an acorn squash – or any winter squash for that matter. Therefore this was a completely new experience for me. It did not hurt that I make rice just about every week and make mushrooms pretty much every week too. Rice, mushrooms, shallots, lemon – just my kind of go to lunch.

I would rather take lunch to work than to go out for it (or breakfast). I think I make pretty good food and I make what I like and that works for me. Why go out and buy something if you are happy with the things you make. And for me, I like to mix things up a bit. Sometimes it is toasted bread with mushrooms and some cheese,  or rice with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. I always have cheese and butter at work – and always always a fresh lemon. I also have a salt and pepper grinders – makes a difference.

I guess that is where my lunch hacks come from. Take something you have and turn it into something new with just what you have, appliance wise, at the office. In my case – toaster, toaster oven, and a microwave. Looking forward to the new office where will have a warming oven. Hoping it gets hot enough to make cookies (350 degrees). That will just smell great.

D&D_24931 acorn squash, cut in half stem to root and scoop out seeds/strings
1/2 cup grain, jasmine rice, cooked, finished w/lemon juice/zest
1 cup vegetables, cooked (crimini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, lemon juice/zest)
1/2 cup extra sharp white cheddar
Additional filling ingredients as desired, dried fruits, nuts, etc.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (convection).

Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the middle of the oven.

Roast the squash until easily pierced by a paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size of your squash.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper and any other spice you would like. Or add some dried fruits (I’m thinking cranberry here) or nuts.

Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves — mound the filling on top.

Cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.

15 minutes at 375 convection, turn 15 more – done.

This was pretty cool. Will be trying more winter squashes. Such a new thing for me. I kind of like the speckled look of the acorn squash. Looks like stars.

Source: thekitchen.com

Turkey Tea Sandwiches

I tried this on a total fluke and I’ll be damned it they were not delicious. They are one of the Boy’s favorite things. They make no sense, but still work in a simple way – a mixture of flavors that just, oddly, work.

D&D_2578I have no expectation that any of you will try it, but sometimes you just have to let that kitchen curiosity loose and do something for the hell of it. I do that a lot – hell, experimenting in the kitchen is the best part, in my opinion.

12 ounces (1 bar and a half)^ cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf dense cranberry-walnut bread, thinly sliced at the bakery
1/3 pound thin slices smoked turkey breast – from the deli

Combine the cream cheese, scallions and the salt and pepper in an stand mixer and mix together.*

Lay out 8 slices of bread and spread them all with a decent layer of scallion cream cheese. Place a generous layer of turkey on those slices. Basically just make a sandwich with bread, cream cheese spread, in whatever form it takes, and turkey. This is not rocket science people.

put the sandwiches on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, cover with damp paper towels and wrap the sheet with the ever difficult cling film. Refrigerate until the cream cheese is firm.

Cut off the crusts of each sandwich with a serrated knife and cut each sandwich in half diagonally and then cut each half diagonally again, to make small triangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature (my preference)

Source: Ina Garten with my some few changes.

^Or go all in with two bars of softened cream cheese – why not?

*I added a few extra chopped dried cranberries and some minced chives to the mix.

If you cannot find a dried fruit/nut bread, just find a bread you like – something hearty – and add the dried fruits and nuts to the cream cheese. It works and I have done it several times.

Make sure a decent amount of salt is involved. Some lemon zest probably would not go amiss. A thought for next time perhaps.

Christmas Eve Buffet Cheese Ball

So I think this year, I might subject friends and family to my odd sense of nostalgia and hope I, the one who has this in my memory, am not disappointed.

For some reason, known only to herself (she never did explain it), my mother left me in charge of deciding the food for Christmas Eve. Not the making in all, or even most, cases, but the deciding. In our family which was rather large even though is was just my 3 siblings, me, my parents, and our older siblings kids, we opened presents from each other on Christmas Eve, so it was a night of perpetual snacking and in my case eating enough vanilla taffy to almost (almost, but not quite), make myself sick. Oh, and fudge too. And I don’t even like fudge (Groundhog Day.)

D&D_1499This was one of the things that I wanted every year and also made myself – not exactly difficult even though we had no food processor or mini chopper. You just did it the old fashioned way, by hand – no harm in that. I have no idea where this came from, but in my made-up back-story for it, it was a contribution to a local newspaper from some woman who would call herself by her husband’s name, you know what I mean. Instead of Mary Smith, she would be Mrs. John Smith, like she didn’t have an existence outside of him – yes, going off the rails here a bit, but that kind of thing just makes me slightly crazy.

Here for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

Several questions arise – the first being do they still make dried beef in those odd little jars (not that I could tell, and I looked), where is it in the store if they do and what are my other options? I’m thinking pan fried proscuitto minced.
Also – only 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar. First, must be Cabot seriously sharp, but needs to be orange for color contrast and it will most certainly be more than 1/2 a measly cup. Please.
I will taste and check the horseradish level, but must be careful not to blow everyone’s palate. I tend to like just a click more horseradish than most people.

What I did make –

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded at room temperature
3 Tbs well drained horseradish
1 cup minced dried cranberries
3 scallions minced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coating:
1 Tbs chives, minced
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, minced

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, and horseradish until well combined. Add in cranberries, scallions, and pecans. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic and chill until firm.

When ready to serve, mix coating ingredients in a wide bowl, and roll cheese ball in to cover, pressing in as necessary. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

23 December 2017 – for Christmas Eve.
Never hurts to try something new, esp. if it is really good – and um, it was.

Spinach Dip

I did not make spinach dip this year for Thanksgiving since it was just a family meal and no need for any more leftovers than we already had, so I made this for Christmas Eve. Because for the Boy this is a requirement. You know when he runs out of Hawaiian rolls, he will use regular sandwich bread and make a sandwich out of this.

Not sure how I feel about that, but now that I am thinking on it. This might make a base for a pretty good grilled cheese (w/some cheddar or something) sandwich on some crusty Italian bread from the good old Publix. Might need to give that some more thought and surprise the Boy with it.

D&D_14958 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, drained and all the liquid pressed out
1 can water chestnuts, minced*
King’s Hawaiian Rolls

Mix together cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add vegetable soup mix, and mix to combine thoroughly. No, I mean it. This is important.
Add spinach and water chestnuts and mix. Refrigerate overnight.
Let sit at room temperature for about an hour or so before serving. You do not want it to be ice cold – not good eats. Serve with Hawaiian rolls. Sliced horizontally and then vertically, so you get 4 pieces of Hawaiian bread from each roll.

Serve and make a total pig of yourself. It is just inevitable.

*I think you can get minced water chestnuts at the store, but I like sliced and then I mince them myself. I am not sure the Boy knows they are in there, but …. we’ll just keep quiet about it then, won’t we.

There is nothing terribly special about this, but it is another of those traditions that started back in my trouble youth, as Jimmy Buffet would say – read: early 20s. Another recipe that my mom let me add to the Christmas eve tradition and it just stuck. Nothing wrong with it being vegetarian and I do not do much mayo or any sour cream – the original recipe was overloaded with it. Again my friend Marie is the one that said, put the cream cheese it – have been doing it ever since (like the late 80s – oh, lord).   I added the Hawaiian rolls a few years later and that really works well.

That said, any holiday is better with a great dip. Or two, or ten.

Hash Brown Casserole

I love hash brown casserole but so many recipes use cream of something soup – ugh. I just can’t stand the idea of doing that. It is just so … yuck.  I thought that for our New Year’s Day brunch, I would add this to my mom-in-law’s tradition of New Year good luck food. You know – from the south it is collards, black-eyed peas and from the north it is sauerkraut and sausage oh, and German potato salad. Hell of a New Years Day, especially when some beer is involved. And beer is always involved.

D&D_2587

2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt/pepper

30-32 ounces frozen shredded hash browns – thawed
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 ounces sour cream
medium yellow onion, grated
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided (1 1/2 & 1/2)
1 teaspoon salt, might need a bit more but I prefer to add when serving
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Whisk in flour and let cook for a minute or so. Slowly stir in chicken broth, then milk. Stir until it begins to thicken. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. This is your roux.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together thawed hash browns and melted butter.

Stir in the roux, sour cream, onion, and 1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese (or more if you’d like – and yes, I would).

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Source: centercutcook.com

We were super pleased with this. It was really good – almost Cracker Barrel good. Think it might need a little more onions to get there, but that is totally do-able.

When it is just me and  the MotH, I’ll do a half recipe and keep the rest of the hash browns in the freezer. Love flexible recipes.