Creamy Pimento Cheese Soup

If no one had been looking, I would’ve just put down my spoon and picked up my bowl of creamy pimento cheese soup and poured it right into my mouth. I know, not a pretty image but a spoon was just slowing me down. I could not get over how much I loved how creamy, rich and cheesy this soup was. It was like a tasty velvety bowl of happiness. For just a little contrast I added a small handful of homemade copycat Ruby Tuesday croutons, my favorites.

Creamy pimento cheese soup is absolutely perfect warmed up on a cold winter day, but also just as good on a hot day served at room temperature or thereabouts. Next time I’ll definitely double the recipe because the soup disappeared so fast that all I was soon left with was a memory. I’d rather have had another bowl!

5 from 1 reviews
Creamy Pimento Cheese Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce jar) pimentos, drained
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups cream
  • 3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup green onions, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Croutons, for garnish (I recommend our copycat Ruby Tuesday Pumpernickel breadcrumbs)
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and pimentos and saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the flour.
  4. Whisk in the stock and cream. Bring to a simmer and reduce to a simmer and simmer, stirring often, until thickened.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
  6. Add green onions and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve garnished with green onions and croutons.

Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

I smoked a big (and I do mean big) batch of meatballs the other day. I knew exactly what dish I was going to use them in first: baked spaghetti and meatballs. The idea just appealed to me. Easy, tasty, and pretty to boot. And like the big batch of meatballs, I knew I’d end up with a big batch of spaghetti, making for an easy week of meals. Score!
I actually ended up doubling the sauce in this baked spaghetti and meatballs. I like my pasta saucy. And spicy, so I also added a healthy amount of red pepper flake. You could add other favorite ingredients as well. Mushrooms and bell peppers would be great.

If you’re using a store-bought marinara sauce, go for the more expensive bottle over the cheap stuff. It really makes a difference in this dish. The extra cost is well worth it in the end.

5 from 1 reviews
Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12-18 cooked meatballs (frozen meatballs should be thawed first)
  • 24 ounce jar marinara sauce (double if you like more sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dried red pepper flake, to taste (optional)
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
  4. Add the meatballs, marinara sauce, Italian seasoning and red pepper flake, if using.
  5. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 F and cook the spaghetti per package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
  7. Remove the meatballs from the skillet using a slotted spoon.
  8. Add the cooked spaghetti and the 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Stir until the pasta is coated with sauce.
  9. Add the meatballs back to the skillet.
  10. Add the cheeses and place in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce it hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Creole-Style Bean Soup

You had me at ‘okra’. I love okra. Grilled, fried, sauteed, roasted… or tossed into this Creole-style bean soup. The okra helps thicken up the broth and adds such a great flavor. All the flavors of a gumbo, along with some hearty beans to boot. Easy to make and fantastic on a cold day.
Creole-Style Bean SoupI don’t add the shrimp to the entire pot of soup if I’m not going to eat the entire batch at once. Reheated shrimp are not my favorite thing. They get too tough. Instead, I transfer some of the soup (just enough for dinner) to a separate pot and then add the shrimp. It’s a bit more trouble but I think it’s worth it. I could leave out the shrimp entirely and still have a great soup, but it wouldn’t be the same, that’s for sure.

Creole-Style Bean Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans beans, rinsed and drained (I used kidney, red and cannellini)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 14 ounces smoked sausage, sliced thin, browned first if desired
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • A few shakes of hot sauce
  • A few pinches of dried red pepper flake
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 pound frozen sliced okra
  • 1 cup small medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except the okra and shrimp into a large pot or Dutch oven.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Add the okra and shrimp.
  4. Return to a boil and boil for 5 minutes then reduce again to a simmer and simmer until the shrimp are done.

Copycat Chick-fil-A Sauce

I was busy. Way too busy to even think about making a lunch that took more than 5 minutes of my time. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I heated up some pre-made chicken nuggets. Don’t judge me, I had to do it. Plus, truth be told, I like them. I can’t help it. But I wasn’t just going to dip them in ketchup or mustard. No, I took an extra 30 seconds and whisked up a copycat of the Chick-fil-A dipping sauce and tossed it into the fridge so that the flavors got happy while the chicken was heating.
copycat-chick-fil-a-sauceFor a nice twist on this Chick-fil-A sauce swap out a spicy BBQ sauce for the smoky hickory BBQ sauce. Or just add a few splashes of hot sauce to the recipe below.

Copycat Chick-fil-A Sauce
Recipe type: Sauce
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1/2 cup
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon hickory barbecue sauce (I recommend Weber's Hickory BBQ)
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using as a dip for chicken fingers, fries, or just slathering on burgers!

Cheddar Pretzel Bites

The reason I made such a big batch of these cheddar pretzel bites isn’t because I needed a huge amount for a family get-together. Sure, I needed some, but not a ton. Nope, I made a big batch because I wanted more for myself. Sorry, but it’s true. I was being selfish, but for a good reason. I love them. Crunchy, a bit buttery, and definitely cheesy.
You don’t have to use pretzels to make these cheddar bites. If you prefer, any cracker will do, specially oyster crackers or saltines. Just don’t substitute something that is strongly flavored and might not go well with the cheddar. That would make for a bowl of sadness.

Also check out my balsamic pretzel bites. They are out of this world good too!

5 from 1 reviews
Cheddar Pretzel Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pound
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 F.
  2. Place pretzel bites in large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the oil and cheddar seasoning.
  4. Pour the oil mixture over the pretzels and toss to coat well.
  5. Pour pretzels bites out onto a large baking pan and spread out evenly.
  6. Bake for 1 hour, tossing every 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool slightly before serving.

Smoked Crumbled Breakfast Sausage

I often find myself needing cooked sausage. For biscuits and gravy, usually. For breakfast cups, on occasion. And in dips, for sure. Now usually, I just fry it up in a skillet, but since my smoker was still going strong after making some ribs, I decided to smoke the sausage instead. I crumbled it into a disposable pan and smoked it just long enough to get a slight smokiness to it and for the meat to get fully done.
Because I usually need my sausage in smaller pieces, I ran the final product thru my chopper for just a second. I actually smoked a few pans of breakfast sausage, some hot, some mild, and some crumbled bulk Italian sausage too. Smoked Italian sausage is fantastic on pizza, specially when paired with smoked mozzarella!

You may want to drain the sausage as it cooks, but do so OUTSIDE of the smoker. Do not drain the fat directly onto the coals and you might risk a fire, and not good fire either. You can ladle it out too.

5 from 1 reviews
Smoked Crumbled Breakfast Sausage
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds bulk breakfast sausage
Instructions
  1. Light up your smoker for 250 F.
  2. I used maple wood for smoking, adding a few more chunks than I normally do so that I get more smoke flavor.
  3. Crumble the sausage into a disposable pan and place onto the smoker.
  4. Smoke for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the sausage reaches 150 F. Drain off any fat 30 minutes into the cooking, and at the end. Do not drain onto hot coals as a serious flare-up may occur.
  5. Chop the sausage and use as you would in any recipe that calls for bulk sausage.

Spicy BBQ Fried Chicken using the Vortex

My goodness do I ever love cooking ‘fried’ chicken on my charcoal grill using the Vortex. In about an hour I end up with juicy chicken with a crispy coating, just like the real stuff. I find myself making it often, and I’ve now found my perfect base recipe for the chicken. I can then add whatever I want at the end. This time I added a spicy BBQ sauce and a drizzle of Ranch dressing. There were no leftovers.
The Vortex produces very high temperatures, so do not put the BBQ sauce on too early or it will char and even burn. Plus, you want the skin on the spicy BBQ fried chicken to crisp up good first.

I usually use split chicken breasts on the Vortex (unless I’m making chicken wings, which I do at least twice a week). Bone-in cuts stay juicier. You do not have to keep the skin on to still get a crunchy crust, though. The batter provides enough crunch without it.

5 from 1 reviews
Spicy BBQ Fried Chicken using the Vortex
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 cups self-rising flour (if you don't have any, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt)
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Chicken, cut into pieces (up to 3 pounds)
  • Your favorite spicy BBQ or chicken wing sauce
  • Ranch or blue cheese salad dressing (optional)
Instructions
  1. Set up your grill for cooking with the Vortex insert. Get the coals good and lit before starting.
  2. In a pie pan, beat the eggs with the water.
  3. In another pie pan, combine the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Working in batches, dip the chicken in the egg mixture and coat well.
  5. Transfer the chicken to the flour mixture and coat well. Shake off any excess flour.
  6. Transfer chicken to the grill, placing along the edges with the thickest parts of the chicken towards the center where the Vortex is located.
  7. Cover the grill and cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Rotate the lid 90 degrees and continue cooking for 15 more minutes.
  9. Rotate the lid 90 degrees and continue cooking for 15 more minutes.
  10. Check for doneness in the thickest parts of the chicken. If it needs more time, rotate the lid 90 degrees and continue cooking for 15 more minutes.
  11. Before removing the chicken, lightly brush with BBQ sauce and let cook for another 5 minutes.
  12. Serve drizzled with the salad dressing if desired.

Ross’ Pool Room Hot Bologna Sauce

I don’t know Ross, and I’ve never been to his pool room. I came across this recipe for hot bologna sauce on a grilling group on Facebook, and instantly knew it was something I needed to make. Bologna burgers (or sandwiches) are an awesome thing, and something I love to make, from my smoked bologna sandwiches to Cleveland fried bologna sandwiches. Ross’ Pool Room hot bologna sauce brings a nice spicy, tomato-based punch to bologna burgers. It’s also great on hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled chicken.

Apparently Ross’ Pool Room was once (I cannot find it on Google) a place in West Virginia. It sounds like my kind of place. Pool, music, and great simple food, like bologna sandwiches or burgers.

I adapted this recipe for Ross’ Pool Room hot bologna sauce from what appeared to be the restaurant’s original recipe, which made a big batch. You’ll still get 2 cups out of my version, plenty for a number of sandwiches or burgers.

If you happen to be in Nashville, Indiana, I recommend that you swing by Our Sandwich Place on South Van Buren Street and grab yourself a Larry’s Triple Bologna and Cheese Triple Decker sandwich. Now, it doesn’t come with hot bologna sauce, but it’s a mighty respectable and tasty bologna sandwich for sure!

5 from 1 reviews
Ross' Pool Room Hot Bologna Sauce
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 3 ounces prepared yellow mustard
  • 4 ounces chili sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ounce Texas Pete hot sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.