I had pretty low expectations for this mac and cheese soup. I thought it might be too thick. Or not have much flavor. Oh, boy was I wrong about everything. This soup was fantastic. It made for the perfect bowl of happiness on a cold, dreary winter’s day. Just the right amount of seasoning. Just the right of cheese. And oh so creamy smooth. I should’ve doubled the recipe.
I like a bit of kick, a bit of heat, in my dishes so I admit to adding a good deal more cayenne pepper when I made this mac and cheese soup. Not so much that it overpowered the great flavors, but enough that I knew that it was there.
Feel free to use other varieties of Velveeta for totally new soup flavors.
I am a huge fan of cooking on cedar planks. From sides to main dishes to desserts, I love the flavor and aroma of cedar. I don’t go crazy with the cedar. I char it just enough to add a hint of the wood. It adds something different to grilled foods. Like these cedar planked asparagus. Easy as can be to make, they come out crisp-tender (or, to your liking) with a great fresh asparagus flavor.
You can easily change the flavor of your cedar planked asparagus by changing the seasonings or using infused olive oil instead. I sometimes like to add a good pinch of red pepper flake for a bit of heat. Lemon-infused oil adds a great citrus flavor. A few roasted pecans or walnuts add crunch and well, nuttiness. You can’t mess these up. Just don’t overcook them.
This super easy marinated chicken is exactly why I love using my Char-Broil Big Easy. I was serving salad for dinner, and wanted chicken to go with it. Not dried out, bland super market rotisserie chicken. Moist, tender flavor-packed chicken. And with as little fuss as possible. And this is it.
I don’t see any reason to use a super fru-fru Italian dressing for marinating the chicken. I used a 16 ounce bottle of generic dressing from our local grocery store. For $1, it added the perfect flavor, tenderness and juiciness to my chicken. Use any dressing (or even bottled marinade) you like, but stay away from anything that contains sugar or sugar-like substances. Sugar will cause the outside of the chicken to burn long before the insides are done.
I smoked a big ole bologna chubb not long ago. Of course I ended up with a lot of bologna. I ended up slicing it nice and thick, freezing some of it for later. Later as in ‘for the best fried bologna sandwich ever’ later. This is the sandwich bologna was invented for. Fried bologna with just a little bit of crunchy char around the edges. Melted gooey cheese. Crunchy BBQ chips and lettuce. And the tang of pickled chow chow. Mustard. Mayonnaise. All on white bread.
You must use white bread when you make a fried bologna sandwich. It’s a law. Or should be. Let’s face it, you didn’t make this sandwich because of it’s organic farm fresh ingredients. This isn’t fru-fru, this is a big ole honkin’ sandwich that you’ll love.
I had no idea just how much I would love these cedar planked shrimp with pesto. I mean, I can eat shrimp like the dickens. And I love anything that’s cooked on a cedar plank. But sometimes, pesto can be a bit much for me. Well, this was the first time ever where I absolutely could not get enough pesto. Each bite was perfect. I just wish I’d made more. A lot more. I served these as our main dish, but you can certainly serve them up as an appetizer too!
You can certainly make your own pesto for these cedar planked shrimp. Make it your own. Me, I was looking for a simple dinner that still looked great and tasted even better so I went to the pantry for my pesto. I’m not much of a pesto aficionado but Classico Traditional pesto worked just fine for me!
If was going to serve these shrimp as an appetizer I might do several planks, each with a different type of pesto. Mix it up a bit!
Fire up your grill for direct and indirect cooking. You'll use the direct heat to sear the cedar plank. You'll use indirect (low or no flame under the blank) heat to cook the shrimp.
Pat the shrimp dry.
Toss the shrimp with half of the pesto.
Toss shrimp in mixture, coating it all over.
Place your cedar plank over the direct heat for 15 or so minutes until charred on one side.
Move the plank to indirect heat. Add the shrimp. Drizzle lightly with oil. Note: You may not need much if any oil, depending on how thick your pesto is. A lighter thinner pesto may not require any. You only need the oil to slightly 'loosen' or thin the pesto.
Place the lemons over direct heat.
Close the grill lid and let cook until the shrimp start to turn pink.
Spoon the remaining pesto over the shrimp. Continue cooking until the shrimp are done. The lemons should get a nice char on them.
Drizzle two halves of the lemons over the shrimp (I used grill tongs to squeeze them).
Serve shrimp on the plank with the remaining lemon halves for juicing.
My first (big) bite of these copycat Lone Start Steakhouse Amarillo cheese fries made me think I’d just come upon the world’s largest plate of potato skins. Well, it has some of the flavors of potato skins at least. Good ones. Not the wimpy thin ones with no toppings. These fries are loaded with bacon. And cheese. And a taco-flavored Ranch dressing that you could just drink. I served this at home, but I’d been just as happy ordering a big ole plate of these fries while sitting at a bar sipping on a cold brew!
You can make this recipe for copycat Lone Star Steakhouse Amarillo cheese fries just as it is and have a good ole time eating it. Or, you can use it as a base recipe for even more amped-up cheese fries. Add some green onion. Maybe a dollop or two of sour cream. Skip and bacon and add BBQ pulled pork or chicken instead. A little pico de gallo ain’t gonna hurt either! Own it!
This Korean fried chicken using the Vortex was right up my alley. As always with the Vortex, the chicken is cooked perfectly. Tender and juicy and delicious. The batter makes for an incredible crunchy coating. I mean, crazy crunchy goodness! And the sauce? Score! Asian flavors with a great spiciness.
This Korean fried chicken isn’t no wimpy chicken. I added more sriracha than called for because, hey, I like a little kick! I admit that I doubled the sauce ingredients, and I did end up with a little sauce leftover which of course found it’s way onto chicken wings!
You can tame down the hot sauce and still great fantastic chicken. Or make half a batch mild, half a batch hot! No matter how you do it, it’s impossible to go wrong with chicken cooked using a Vortex.Impossible!
Combine the salt and water in a large bowl or container. Stir until the salt is dissolved then add the chicken. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
Combine 3/4 cup of cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of baking powder in a bowl or large baggie. Working in patches, remove the chicken pieces from the brine and pat dry. Transfer to the cornstarch mixture and coat well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 3/4 cups of flour. While still whisking, pour in the beer and create a smooth batter.
Fire up your grill with the Vortex. Get the coals good and hot, just ashed over.
Remove the chicken from the cornstarch mixture and shake off any excess. Dunk into the batter a few times and shake off any excess. Transfer to the grill around the Vortex.
Once the chicken hits 165 F as measured in several locations, brush several times with the sauce. Alternatively, remove the chicken from the grill and dunk into the sauce.
For the sauce
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Stir until combined. Keep warm until ready to use.
I cannot find pre-made taco salad bowls anywhere. I’ve checked every grocery store within 200 miles of our house. Ok, well, maybe 5 miles but still, they’re nowhere to be found! A quick Google search and I came upon a video from Food Wishes that is the best (BEST!) step-by-step approach to making your own salad bowls at home! So I did it too and they were fantastic. Perfectly crunchy, not oily and just the right size for our taco salad dinner (using my slow cooker taco meat)!
I used 8″ tortillas when making homemade taco salad bowls. They fit perfectly around 4″ ramekins to get their shape. If you’re after a bigger salad bowl, you’ll obviously need bigger tortillas. And bigger ramekins. You can’t fit a 10″ or 12″ tortilla around a 4″ ramekin, so plan ahead!
Oh, and only flour tortillas will do for this approach.
I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons I love chicken wings so much (see my other blog, For the Wing) is they give me an excuse to have more Ranch dressing. I love a good, creamy Ranch dressing, and this copycat of the one from Outback is top-notch good yummy stuff. Whether you’re putting it on a salad or using it for dipping your Buffalo wings, it’s the best homemade version I’ve found.
Yes, you read correctly. The recipe for making copycat Outback Ranch dressing includes cayenne pepper. I would not leave it out even if you’re not into spiciness. It’s not that spicy, and what there is gets tamed by the buttermilk and mayonnaise. Personally, I’d add a bit more than the recipe calls for.
I’m a big lover of crab cakes. And the crabbier they are, the better. If I’m going to drop some big bucks on crab I want to taste it. So, don’t load me up on fillers like bread crumbs. These cedar plank crab cakes meet my criteria and then some. Fluffy, light and deliciously crabby, they cook in no time. Yeah, I could’ve pan fried them, but I love grilling on cedar planks. They add just a little something different. A slight aroma and taste of aroma, but not so strong that I can’t taste what brought me to the party: crab.
To be truthful you can use pretty much any crab cake recipe. Just form them into cakes and place them on pre-soaked, pre-charred planks. They don’t take long to cook, so don’t go running off doing something else around the house while they’re on the grill. Once they hit 155 F they’re done.
I also like to cedar plank lemon wedges for my crab cakes. Grilled lemons are fantastic.