Illinois Fighting Illini Cheddar Hot Dog

A few years ago the Big 10 basketball tournament was held here in Indianapolis. As part of the event, the Levy restaurant group in Chicago produced unique hot dogs that highlight each of the Big 10 teams. I came across a copy of the list of the dogs recently, and just had to make each of them. The Illinois Fighting Illini dog is topped with all things great, from melted cheese to crispy tortilla strips to Dijon mustard.

Illinois Fighting Illini Cheddar Hot DogEasy to make and great tasting, the Fighting Illini dog was a winner!

Love hot dogs as much as I do? Check out my free eCookbook that is packed with tons of hot dog recipes.

Fighting Illini Cheddar Hot Dog
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • All-beef hot dogs
  • Hot dog buns
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fried blue tortilla strips
Instructions
  1. Cook or grill the dogs as desired.
  2. Toast the buns, if desired (I always do).
  3. Add dogs to buns.
  4. Top with cheese. Put under the broiler for a minute if you want your cheese melted.
  5. Squeeze on some mustard and top with tortilla strips.

Smoked Chex™ Mix

There are some things were self-control just doesn’t happen for me. This smoked Chex™ mix is one of them. Put a big bowl of it in front of me and it’ll be gone soon. Specially the bagel chips. There’s something about the bagel chips in Chex™ mix, specially after they’ve been smoked. The smoke flavor is not overwhelming, but it’s there, and it’s different in a wonderful way. The smoke compliments traditional Chex ™ mix flavors perfectly.
smoked-chex-mixThe cereal in this smoked Chex™ definitely soaks up the smoke, so do not go crazy with the wood in your smoker. Use a very small chunk, smaller than would fit in your palm, and use only a lighter wood. No mesquite or hickory here, go for the lighter fruit woods.

Smoked Chex™ Mix
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 cups
 
For a slightly spicier version, add a few teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce to the melted butter and Worcestershire sauce mixture. Don't go crazy with it or the mix will take longer to get crispy.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Corn Chex cereal
  • 3 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
  • 1 cup small pretzels, or pretzel pieces
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1 cup small bagel chips
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt (I used some of my homemade mix, see below)
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Homemade seasoned salt (makes more than you'll need for the Chex mix)
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Instructions
  1. Fire up your smoker for cooking at 250 F. Add only one small piece of light wood, such as apple or peach. If you are using a smoker that has a water pan, such as the Weber Smokey Mountain, do not fill the pan with water.
  2. Combine the cereals, pretzels, nuts and bagel chips in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir.
  4. Combine the seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder and slowly whisk into the melted butter.
  5. Drizzle the butter mixture over the cereal and gently toss to coat.
  6. Place into a disposable 9" x 13" deep aluminum pan and place on the top rack of the smoker.
  7. Smoke for 1 hour or until the mixture turns golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes.
  8. Remove and let cool completely before serving, or store for up to 2 weeks.
Homemade seasoned salt
  1. Combine all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container.

Honey-Chipotle Glazed Ham on the Char-Broil Big Easy

I’m a big fan of cooking ham on the Char-Broil Big Easy. The ham gets a nice roasted flavor, a bit of a crispy outside, and a super-moist inside. This time I started with a 10 pound pressed ham, which I scored (a technique I need to practice) and then glazed as it cooked. No mess, no fuss, and mighty darned good in the end. The glaze has a bit of sweet and a definite kick to it. Chipotles not only add spiciness, they add a bit of smokiness, giving the ham an almost char-grilled flavor. Fantastic!
honey-chipotle-glazed-ham-on-the-char-broil-big-easySome of the ham I sliced thick, to eat as ham steaks. Some I chopped for omlets. And most I sliced super-thin for fantastic sandwiches.

Also check out my spiral ham cooked on the Char-Broil Big Easy. Man, was it ever great too!

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

Honey-Chipotle Glazed Ham on the Char-Broil Big Easy
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (8-10 pound) cooked ham, bone-in or boneless
  • 2 1/4 cups Ginger Ale (diet is fine)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (I added more because we like spicy!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
Instructions
  1. Fire up your Big Easy.
  2. Combine the Ginger Ale, brown sugar, honey and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Stir. Bring to a simmer and let simmer until reduced by half.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Score the ham as desired.
  7. Place into the Big Easy basket and place into the Big Easy. Total cook time will be 15 minutes per pound. 30 minutes before being done, start glazing the ham ever 5-10 minutes. You'll end up using about half of the glaze.
  8. Remove ham and let rest 10 minutes before slicing or carving.
  9. Return the unused glaze to the saucepan and warm slightly to use as a gravy for the ham.

Spicy Cranberry Glazed Carrots

Carrots are proof a side dish doesn’t have to be complicated, or boring. These spicy cranberry glazed carrots are the perfect fall dish. At first glance they may look like your standard glazed carrots, but oh no, my friends, they are not. They are covered in a wonderful cranberry reduction that is sweet…. with a little heat.
spicy-cranberry-glazed-carrotsThese spicy cranberry glazed carrots are another fantastic recipe from Chile Pepper magazine. I have been a subscriber of the magazine for years and years. Even if you’re not a chile head, or into super spicy foods, Chile Pepper magazine is still a great magazine, full of recipes (you can always tame down the heat) and product reviews and articles. If you are a chile head then, well, wait are you waiting for! Subscribe today and you won’t regret it. I love it.

Spicy Cranberry Glazed Carrots
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds carrots peeled, cut into equally-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons red pepper flakes, divided
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (you can use light but don't use diet)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
On the grill
  1. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  2. Place carrots in a large bowl and add the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of the pepper flake, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Toss to coat.
  3. Grill for 5-10 minutes, turning once or twice, until tender, 5-10 minutes. Remove.
On the stovetop
  1. Heat 1" of water in a large skillet to a boil.
  2. Add the carrots and cook until tender 5-10 minutes. Remove and drain.
  3. Combine oil, 2 teaspoons of the pepper flake, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Add the carrots and toss to coat. Return to the skillet over medium heat and cook another 2-3 minutes.
For the glaze
  1. Place cranberry juice and remaining 1 teaspoon of red pepper flake and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and simmer until reduced by half.
  2. Place cooked carrots in a large bowl. Add cranberry juice reduction and toss to coat.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Roasted Harissa Cauliflower

So long and goodbye to boring cauliflower. Bring on the spiciness of harissa, a Mediterranean hot chile pepper paste that is so flavorful I’m quickly finding myself using on just about everything. Rubbing the paste on a head of cauliflower and roasting it results in an unbelievably tasty side dish. The heat gets tamed a bit (but it’s still there), leaving you with a wonderful garlicky, earthy bite. Roasted harissa cauliflower is quite possibly the perfect side dish (and it’s low in carbs too!).
roasted-harissa-cauliflowerYou can make the cauliflower in the grill too, just place the harissa-covered head directly on a hot grill over indirect heat and cook until tender. Specially when grilled over charcoal, the cauliflower will also get a nice light smoky flavor along with the taste of harissa. And don’t hesitate to make more than one head at a time. The leftovers are just as good as (and maybe a bit better) than the night you make them. The harissa flavors penetrate the cauliflower even more overnight.

For a little citrus flavor, squeeze fresh lemon over the roasted cauliflower just before serving.

Roasted Harissa Cauliflower
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 head
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Harissa paste
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F. You can also roast the cauliflower on a grill over indirect heat.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Remove any leaves from the bottom of the head of cauliflower but do not remove the stem.
  4. Lower the head into the boiling water and return to a boil and boil for 4 minutes.
  5. Remove and let cool.
  6. Rub harissa paste over the cauliflower. No need to be shy.
  7. Transfer the cauliflower to a sheet pan and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until softened. I used a small sharp knife to test for doneness by poking the stem.
  8. Remove and serve.

 

Spiral Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Butter

These spiral sweet potatoes with pecan butter are a twist on a favorite Thanksgiving dish for us. It’s a bit sweet, a lot easy, and very tasty. You can make it ahead of time and cook it on-site (aka my sister-in-law’s house), in the oven or on a grill (which is how I do it). The beauty of cooking sides on the grill at Thanksgiving is that it helps free up the oven, which is so often crammed full.
spiral-sweet-potatoes-with-pecan-butterBecause the sweet potatoes are cut into thin (but not too thin) spirals, they will cook faster than whole or sliced sweet potatoes, so keep an eye on them. The crunchy sweet topping is absolutely fantastic. If your guests like their sides a bit on the sweet side don’t hesitate to double the topping.

Spiral Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Butter
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled, spiraled (I used the large blade. You don't want super thin spirals)
  • 1 large sweet or Spanish onion, sliced thin and separated into rings
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Instructions
  1. Preheat grill to medium or oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Place potato slices and onion rings on a large sheet of aluminum foil (you might need to divide the mixture between more than one piece of foil). Drizzle with oil.
  3. Place another sheet of foil over potatoes and seal along edges.
  4. Place on grill or in oven for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir in pecans.
  6. Open packets and top with pecan butter. Serve.

Peach BBQ Beans

Yeah, this is how BBQ beans are done. When you need a big batch of beans that’ll knock everyone’s socks off, these peach BBQ beans are it. Sure, I’ve smoked baked beans before and I’ve soaked dry beans overnight and gone through all the hassle. No hassle here. Just great BBQ bean flavor, with a little sweetness from peaches added in. Nice and different, and definitely delicious.
peach-bbq-beansIf peaches aren’t your thing, substitute canned apple pie filling instead. Or make two batches, one peach and one apple and amaze all of the guests at your next (big!) party.

Peach BBQ Beans
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-14 servings
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the bacon and cook, stirring constantly, until the bacon starts to crisp.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Do not remove any fat in the skillet.
  5. Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet and cook until softened, stirring often, 5-6 minutes.
  6. Place all ingredients into a very large bowl and stir to combine well.
  7. Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray. Pour in the bean mixture and spread out evenly.
  8. Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly hot. Note: If your pan is full to the brim, you might want to place a large baking dish on the oven rack below to catch any drippings that might flow over the side.
  9. Let cool slightly before serving.

 

Cajun Honey Lime Wings

There’s wing sauce and there’s WING sauce. The Cajun honey lime sauce on these wings was so good that I’ll be using it on a lot more than ‘just’ wings. A little spice, a little sweet, and a little citrus, all in a thick but not gooey sauce that doesn’t just flow off your wings into the bottom of the basket. Finger-licking good, that’s for sure.
Cajun Honey Lime WingsI used a fairly tame and not overpowering BBQ sauce when I made these Cajun honey lime wings. The flavors could easily be drowned out by an overly sweet smokey BBQ sauce. Just grab your run-of-the-mill regular ole BBQ sauce. Nothing fancy.

I absolutely love chicken wings, cooked any way, with any sauce (or without). I love them so much that I created a free eCookbook that is full of my favorite wing recipes.

Cajun Honey Lime Wings
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
For the wings
  • 3-4 pounds chicken wings, flats and drumettes separated, tips discarded or saved for making chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
For the sauce
  • 1 cup your favorite thick BBQ sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon (or more, to taste) Sriracha
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
Instructions
For the wings
  1. Place wings into a large resealable bag.
  2. Add the oil.
  3. Add the Cajun seasoning. Seal the bag, and toss gently to coat.
  4. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours before cooking.
  5. Cook wings as desired. Click here for our guide on cooking wings in a grill, smoker, deep fryer, oven, or a Char-Broil Big Easy.
  6. When done, place wings in a large bowl and add sauce. Toss to coat.
For the sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients.

Save