Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is the perfect marriage of summertime eggplants and Andy’s Favorite Pasta Sauce.  This can also be made with jarred pasta sauce, and Lord knows I have used jarred sauce before when I was too lazy or busy to make homemade.  No really, lazy is the better reason.

One trick I learned long ago, and even use with homemade sauce is to add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce to extend and pasta sauce you are using.  Unless you are mixing it with less than 16 ounces of pasta sauce, you should not notice a huge difference in taste.  I like how it thins out the sauce for this recipe, as I don’t care for a big stiff glop of sauce on my eggplant or chicken Parm.

Eggplant may seems kind of intimidating, and I confess I was intimidated the first time I ever took a knife to one.  Now, I have never ventured outside my box on eggplant, I only use it for a fried version of eggplant Parm.

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Flat Burger Sliders

Flat Burger Sliders were created because, as you can only guess, there is no restaurant around here that serves decent thin patty burgers on slider buns.  In addition, there is no White Castle or Krystal Burger within easy driving distance of Tulsa.

I have seen the several hundred, maybe even thousands, of White Castle copycat recipes on the interwebs.  Yes, I have tried a few.  No they did not make me happy.

This recipe is not supposed to be a copycat of either of those restaurants.  I don’t believe you can accurately copy those recipes without their preformed patties, who knows what unhealthy additives, nor their large griddles.  I think there might even be some magic in the little boxes they stuff the baby burgers into.

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Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Stew is one of my absolute favorite meals to cook when the weather turns cooler.  It is easy to put together and the smell coming from the kitchen reminds you there is going to be something yummy served up.

Beef stew is fairly adaptable too.  I stick with the traditional potatoes, carrots, and peas because that’s what I like.  Sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas or any other sturdy vegetable could be added.

I do not use any tomato base in mine, but feel free to add it.  I prefer the pure beef flavor that shines through without it.

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Frog Eye Soup

Frog eye soup was invented in my kitchen because of an ingredient shortage.  We had plenty of groceries in the house.  I am certain I was cooking for some holiday meal in the coming days.

My brother was making an unexpected visit that evening and I offered to make some homemade chicken noodle soup and sandwiches for dinner.  I usually have chicken noodle soup ingredients on hand and I knew this would not require another trip to the store, because everyone knows I love chicken soup!!

I happily went about my business in the kitchen and started simmering some chicken breasts in chicken broth.   I don’t always make a super-rich broth, especially when I am short on time.

I tossed in some onions, celery, and carrots.  About 20 minutes before my brother was schedule to arrive I discovered I had no soup noodles!! What? At my house?

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Fried Butterfly Shrimp

Fried Butterfly Shrimp are not difficult to make at home.  I usually start with frozen shrimp I have thawed.  The only drawback to making them is that they are time consuming to make.  And they are only time consuming because shrimp are small.  Even large shrimp requires you to repeat these steps at least 6 times per person if you are serving this for dinner.  Since I tend to buy them frozen, it allows me to buy larger shrimp when I find them on sale.

You could probably get away with 2 or 3 smaller shrimps as an appetizer, but if you are going to go to all the trouble, do you really want to mess up the kitchen for a few shrimp?  Go ahead and coat all of the shrimp and freeze them before cooking.

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Sautéed General’s Chicken

General’s  chicken is a Chinese favorite, but we don’t always want heavy deep-fried food when we want Asian flavors for dinner. I also do NOT enjoy the task of cleaning up after deep-frying. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do it, some things like fried mushrooms, fried chicken, and egg rolls are worth a mess.

We don’t call this General Tso’s chicken at my house. Number 1, we are not exactly sure how to say it and number 2 we can.

This chicken dish is kind of sweet and savory with a bit if heat at the end.  You can increase the heat in this dish by allowing the dried peppers to spend more time simmering in the sauce.  But be careful with the heat level you are looking for, I let this simmer for too long once and thought I had eaten lava.

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Meatballs

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.

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Sauce Buns and Red Hots

Sauce buns and red hots were a summertime tradition back home and seem to be regional specialties not know to those outside of the small town I grew up in.  Sauce buns are just like the name implies, sauce on a bun, but if you added a hot dog it became a red hot.  These cannot be described as chili dogs or Coney dogs because they are sweeter than that.  If you bite into one of these expecting a chili dog you will be disappointed.  However, if you know going in that this is something totally different than that, you just might love them.

This recipe is inspired by Jaenicke’s in Kankakee, the local hot dog stand where we used to eat these.  I might be dating myself, but I remember getting a baby beer with my hot dog.  It was the smallest root beer mug I have ever seen, filled with their homemade root beer, delivered by a carhop.  There was only one location back then, “down by the river.”

These sauce buns have a sweet red meat sauce that is flavored with chili powdered, resembles chili, but doesn’t actually taste like chili.  They are very hard to explain to anyone who has never had one or has never been to an old fashioned root beer stand in the Midwest prior to big franchises.  It’s kind of like sloppy joe and chili dog sauce rolled into one.

I have never eaten at an A & W, but I have heard these might be similar.  I have had Coney dogs, not the same.  This is also not Cincinnati chili or Skyline chili.

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Chicken and Dumplings

My grandmother was famous for her chicken and dumplings, at least I always believed she was. Then I grew up and realized that everyone’s grandma, mom, aunt, sister, and/or cousin had one.

Unfortunately, there was no recipe for these. My grandmother would just toss things into a bowl and whip them up. These are not the soft fluffy biscuit type dumplings. I have heard them called chicken and sliders and also chicken and noodles when made by others.

Pre-internet days before I knew “everyone” had a version and I could simply search for a recipe, I spent years trying to make them like my grandma. My mom’s best friend’s mother  spent an afternoon with me once and showed me how she made hers. They were just like my grandma’s! You would think I would have written down quantities, but nope. I was certain I could manage. The first time I made them her way, they were moon rocks. They were a little flavorless too and the broth base needed help.

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Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers are one of the most basic recipes from my kitchen. I probably should have made this one of the first posts of the blog since it is truly a beginner’s recipe. Perhaps that’s why I never thought about it, it’s one of those things I just whip up when I have spare peppers hanging out that need to be used.

Sometimes, when I am looking at recipes my inside voice (you know, the one that gets me in trouble when it bypasses my better judgment filter) asks “what is wrong with good old fashioned basic recipes? Does everything need some twist or added feature to be worthy of eating?”

I am not opposed to experimenting in the kitchen, some of my best tasting recipes were devised doing just that. It’s just that at what point have we fooled with recipes and cooking techniques so much that recipes become intimidating?

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