Finding uses for leftover Halloween candy is my new obsession. Ok, it’s ONE of my new obsessions. We ended up with a good amount of leftover candy this year, mostly Dum-Dums. That’s despite using them in my classic self-serve pumpkin, which is always a huge hit at Halloween. So, I made sugar cookie Dum-Dum pops. Fantastic baked sugar cookies with that light crunch, surrounding lightly melted Dum-Dums, perfect for licking after finishing off the cookie. The key to making these sugar cookie Dum-Dum pops is to very, very gently press the pops into the dough as it softens while it bakes. If you push too hard the dough will crack and you’ll end up with sad (but still good) pops. After doing a few I got the technique down.
We’ve all had it. The traditional holiday green bean casserole. Good stuff, but not much of a ‘wow’ factor. Well, scrap that and move on to this slow cooker holiday green bean casserole. Same idea, but oh, so much better. Anita told me to make this again before we were halfway thru the first batch. There’s nothing about it that’s not great. Beans in creamy Alfredo sauce, flavored with water chestnuts, mushrooms and pimentos (or in my case, roasted red bell peppers). A little cheese. And yes, French fried onions and toasted pecans. This dish screams holidays. I made this early enough in the fall to get fresh green beans, which I blanched first. Frozen beans work just fine too. If you’re like me you’ll want extra French fried onions. Oh no, they’re not for the casserole. They’re for munching while you watch everything cook in the slow cooker.
Wow. My mind was telling me “Hey, look! A donut!” but my taste buds were telling me “Wow, that’s really different and cool!”. The pineapple rings are coated in a simple batter that cooks up golden brown delicious (GBD) , reminiscent of donuts. Drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with confectioners sugar, these little slices of heaven make for an outstandingly good dessert. I bought this really cool pineapple corer from Amazon the other day. I’ve been wanting to use it forever. I picked up a pineapple on sale, got the corer out of the box, and in about a minute I had perfect fresh pineapple rings for these grilled maple bacon pineapple rings. The corer can also be used to make a pineapple ‘bowl’, great for serving things like fried rice and grilled shrimp with pineapple. Click on the picture below if you want to learn more about it on Amazon. It’s a fun little gadget.
The Kick’N chicken legs I made on my Char-Broil Big Easy not too long ago really got me going on cooking legs. Usually I’m a split chicken breast guy, even though the Big Easy cooks any cut perfectly. Legs cook quickly and always come out juicy and tender. These spicy roasted chicken legs have a little kick to them too, with a wonderful buttery flavor kissed with a bit of citrus. Even if you like spicy, go easy on the cayenne first as you add it to the butter. Don’t go too crazy. Feel free to adjust all of the seasonings to your taste. No matter what, these spicy roasted chicken legs are a treat.
I admit that back in my bachelor gotta-make-something-for-dinner-but-I-can’t-cook days I went through my share of boxes of Hamburger Helper. Easy to make and hearty, any flavor of Hamburger Helper would do. That’s why I just had to make this copycat version of the classic cheeseburger mix. Just as easy as the stuff out of the box and darn tasty too! You can easily modify this recipe and make your own. Add jalapenos or a dash or two of cayenne pepper for a little kick. Swap Monterey Jack cheese for the cheddar. Use ground turkey instead of ground beef and add a pinch or two of dried sage. Your copycat cheeseburger Hamburger Helper doesn’t have to be exactly like the stuff out of the box, but it’s ok if it is!
Anita declared these as “the only way we will cook tater tots from now on”. And I am in total agreement with her too. Just like potato skins they have a crunchy side and a soft side and taste, well, potato-y. Topped with our favorite potato skin toppings, cheese, green onion and sour cream, these tater tot potato skins can be served as appetizers at your next party or as a side at your next grill-out. Make sure you make lots of them, though, because they are crazy addicting. You can actually skip the thawing of the tater tots and squash the tots after they have been in the oven for 10 minutes. I found this works fine, but not quite as well as when you fully thaw the tater tots first. They don’t squash out quite as flat, but they still get super duper crispy crunchy, which is the goal.
I spoon sour cream into a squirt bottle to top these tater tot potato skins nice and evenly. You can of course spoon the sour cream directly on top, but I usually end up with a little too much in one spot and not enough in another. The squirt bottle solves that problem.
I had a bunch (and I do mean a bunch!) of ham leftover from cooking a big ham on my Char-Broil Big Easy. I could’ve made more sandwiches. Or I could dice up some ham for omlets. Instead, I decided to warm up some nice thick slices and top them with this wonderful pepper onion beer sauce. It looks like your pretty standard vegetable topping, but with a twist: orange marmalade. Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that! This pepper onion beer sauce really goes well with ham, but I also think it’d compliment grilled chicken just as well. Don’t like orange marmalade? I bet you could substitute your favorite marmalade or preserves.
I loved the flavor of this cauliflower ‘popcorn’. The cumin and chili powder add a nice southwestern, earthly flavor. The nutritional yeast (which I’d never used before) made me think of cheddar cheese flavoring. I was pleasantly surprised by it.
Now, let’s talk ‘popcorn’. That makes you think crunchy, and if you eat this cauliflower raw that’s just what you’ll get. You can also pop (sorry) them into a dehydrator for 12 or so hours. Right out of the dehydrator they have a nice crunch to them, but I found that that crunch doesn’t last. The seems get a bit soft…. and not popcorny. But the flavor was still great! I’m looking forward to other ways to use nutritional yeast. For us, I’d recommend this cauliflower popcorn, but honestly I’d enjoy them more raw and save the dehydrator time. That’s up to you. I’m a big texture guy, and for me, the texture of the raw cauliflower was better.