Guacamole is one of those things that is so simple to make you feel like most people already know how to make it. But I am including it because there was a time that I did not know how to make it and had to ask Ron. There are many beginner cooks out there who are trying to learn how to cook and many of my recipes are posted with them in mind.
I have never been a fan of avocados on my sandwiches or in my salads, so I assumed I would not like guacamole. We know what people say about assuming right?
I had a friend who convinced me to try some at one of the gazillion Mexican restaurants in these parts. It was actually pretty tasty. So, anyone who knows me, knows I had to figure out to make it myself. Besides, it is kind of pricey to get extra when eating out.
The first time I made guacamole at home it was a decent attempt. But I suppose anything can be made to taste decent with enough lime juice and salt. I mean come on, even tequila can be made to taste good with lime and salt right? But it was missing that creamy texture. Perhaps my avocados were not ripe enough, but they smashed up just fine.
You may notice when you look at my recipes that I use minimal or no cilantro in dishes where it is customary. This simple Pico de Gallo is no different. If you like cilantro, feel free to add it anywhere and everywhere, just please do not put it into foods you want me to eat. I can do small amounts of it when I go to Chipotle’s or certain Mexican restaurants, but if there is too much of it in anything I just have to leave it on my plate.
I am one of the few people in this word apparently that thinks cilantro smells like dirty gym socks.
Since I do like Mexican food though, I just make my recipes without an overload of cilantro. I also use minimal amounts of jalapeno peppers, but just like cilantro, feel free to add more if you prefer more heat. I serve this Pico de Gallo alongside my Midwest quesadillas because I love all things tomatoes and I think they go well together. I also think it goes great with chips, it’s more than an acceptable substitute for store bought salsa only I get to decide how much cilantro goes in mine – none.
The first time ever encountered hummus was in a Greek restaurant. I don’t really remember which one or where it was. I just remember thinking it might be time to think outside the box and try something besides a dolmades, stuffed chicken breast, or saganaki. I was not disappointed and have loved it ever since. Of course, I had to try to make it at home.
Hummus is easy enough to make at home if you own a blender or a food processor. There is no need for packet mixes or buying it premade from the store. Making it at home also allows you to control the fat content, flavors, and consistency of the finished product.
Garbanzo beans, aka chick peas, are fairly inexpensive and readily available at grocery stores.
Some people cook their own garbanzo beans, and I have tried without much success. I can never seem to get my beans cooked well enough to avoid a lumpy and crunchy hummus so I stick to canned. Bush’s does a great job of cooking garbanzo beans to perfection, so I’ll let them do the hard part.
This addictive Party Cheese Spread is filled with cream cheese, meat, green onions, and cheddar cheese and can easily be adapted into a cheeseball or any shape to match the holiday. It can be rolled into nuts, parsley, or any topping you prefer. It can also be made thinned out with extra mayonnaise to make it more of a dip.
As with most of my recipes, you can add and subtract ingredients to fit your tastes and needs. Sometimes I use boiled or baked deli ham in place of the Buddig beef. I bet bacon would also be a great substitute or addition, I just have not tried it.
No matter which way you choose to make this, spread, dip, or cheeseball, it will soften more the longer it sits out being served. The consistency you have will making it, will be the consistency you have when it has been at room temperature for an hour or so. Plan accordingly when adding mayonnaise when making.
Meatball subs are in the regular rotation during football season at our house. They can be made with frozen meatballs and jars of marinara sauce, homemade meatballs with marinara sauce, frozen meatballs and homemade sauce, or homemade meatballs with homemade sauce.
I have made them in all of the combinations above and I am not ashamed. Even if you tell me how great the sandwich was you just ate, I will let you know I used frozen meatballs and which brand of jarred sauce I used, if I did.
The secret to great meatball subs using frozen meatballs is the cooking method. Slow, slow, slow. You can cook them on a stovetop, in a crockpot, or in a low temperature oven. You just need enough sauce to cover the meatballs and a little water. If I am using a jarred sauce I add about a quarter cup of water to each jar, this normally takes 2 jars when I cook for a party, replace the lid and shake the water in the jar to get out the last of the sauce and pour it in.
Crab cakes are perfect for spreading holiday cheer, ringing in the New Year, as well as serving up a light dinner during summer heat waves. It’s kind of an all-around great dish!
Making crab cakes is fairly simple and generates very little kitchen heat. I like to pair this with my $30 salad. For one, it kind of reminds me of living in Florida. Andy loves both of these so I know I will not get an eye roll or some weird noise he makes signaling to me he doesn’t really want whatever it is I had planned for dinner.
Planning for weekly menus is hard enough to do when you ask what someone wants for dinner this week and you get “I don’t care” as a response, especially when you know the eye rolls and snorts are forthcoming. OBVIOUSLY you do care!
Beer boiled shrimp is something I make for others. Shrimp is kind of the bane of my existence, most seafood really. I can eat salmon only if it’s hidden in a salmon patty. Crab can be covered up in a stuffed mushroom. Crab cakes and fried fish must be covered in lemon juice and tartar sauce.
This recipe is quick, simple and perfect for serving at gatherings. It can be served hot or cold so you can make it while company waits or make it earlier in the day and avoid kitchen detail when guests arrive.
This recipe uses just a few simple ingredients, all easily found at your local grocery store. Celery, lemons, onions, beer, and Old Bay are ingredients I tend to have on hand. Shrimp, not so much. Continue reading “Beer Boiled Shrimp”→
This recipe was also inspired by a restaurant from back in my hometown. It was the first place I experienced the goodness of quesadillas. I have to call these Midwest Quesadillas because just plain ole quesadillas might cause folks to expect a recipe containing toasted tortillas with tomatoes, peppers and perhaps some chicken, beef, carnitas, or even barbacoa in them. Although, all of those options are tasty and I even think Ron may have one he will share on the blog someday, this one has none of the common ingredients in it expect maybe cheese and onions.
Even the cheese is not a common sight in quesadillas, this one uses jack cheese. I remember when I first started making these I had to shred my jack cheese by hand. These are so much easier to make now that shredded jack is readily available at most markets. Continue reading “Midwest Quesadillas”→
Egg rolls are my downfall in life. They are like potato chips, I can’t eat just one. Growing up an hours drive from Chicago we grew up eating at Chiam’s in Chinatown. It is no longer in business which meant no more egg rolls from Chiam’s. Eventually we started going to Rising Sun in Mokena, it was closer and we could do carry out orders.
But when we moved to Florida we were in for a rude awakening. Chinese food was all the same at all locations (and it wasn’t delicious). It is a phenomenon that has plagued us since. The need for a good egg roll that reminded us of Chiam’s or even Rising Sun was nowhere to be found, so the experimenting started.
You may not like these, and it won’t hurt my feelings. Egg roll preferences are a very personal thing. Most people like the ones made in their area of the country and some like the generic version you get at most Chinese restaurant today that taste the same at all locations. Continue reading “Eggrolls”→
If you’ve visited a restaurant while visiting the deep south, I’m sure you’ve seen fried pickles on the menu. Fried pickles are a southern favorite and a pretty easy to make. Most folks who’ve never had a fried pickles tend to think the combination of frying a pickles as a little weird. However, I can promise you that once you try a fried pickle, you’ll order them every time you see them on the menu.
I’m kind of a fried pickle snob. Fried pickles, while delicious, can be easily ruined by one ingredient. Salt… a fried pickle that is too salty is sometimes just too difficult to eat, no matter how much ranch you cover it in. Finding the right pickle is pretty critical to the final product, so you’ll have to do a little bit of experimentation with the pickles available at your grocery store.
Even though you might experiment with pickle varieties, we have settled on our absolute favorite pickle. Pickles from Wickles are sweet, spicy, and just a little bit salty. Wickles are thicker than your average sliced pickle, so the pickle-to-crust ratio is great. However, some folks in the south prefer their pickles razor thin to maximize the amount of crust. I think this is just an excuse to eat more fried crust with ranch dressing. With Wickles, you can actually enjoy the great flavor of the pick itself. I find myself eating the pickles for a snack sometimes.