Wow, talk about amazingly good. The heck with the main dish, just load me up on some of these Cajun shrimp-stuffed poblano peppers. A slight kick of heat, perfect shrimp and creamy melted cheese. What’s not to love? You could use green bell peppers instead, if you want. I love poblanos because they are a little spicier than a bell pepper without just completely drowning out a dish in heat.
For extra kick, substitute shredded pepper jack cheese for the feta and mozzarella and add a few diced roasted jalapenos into the shrimp mixture. That’ll definitely liven up the party.
The meat sauce in this stromboli sandwich is absolutely fantastic. It will be my go-to meat sauce from this day forward, for everything from lasagna, to spaghetti, and of course, more stromboli sandwiches. Nice and thick, but not too thick, it is packed with Italian-inspired flavors. Next time I make a batch, I’ll probably quadruple it and store the leftovers in the freezer. A quick defrost, some cooked pasta, and I have a great main dish done in no time. You can also make this meatless and you’ll have the perfect sausage for grilled sausage sandwiches or serve it up with warmed meatballs over pasta or on French bread for a meatball sandwich.
1 pound ground beef (or substitute Italian sausage)
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces small mushrooms, sliced thin
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup condensed tomato soup
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 12 ounce can tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large skillet, crumble the beef and brown along with the onion. Drain any excess fat.
Add the mushrooms and bell pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until they are just starting to get soft.
Add the tomato sauce, tomato soup, garlic powder, dried oregano, chili powder, tomato paste and black pepper. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for at least 10 minutes, the longer the more the flavors will meld. If the sauce gets too thick add a bit of water.
Cut bread in half lengthwise and scoop out as much of the bread as you can.
Transfer bread to a sheet of aluminum foil.
Fill insides with the meat mixture.
Top with cheese and cover in foil.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Maybe it’s because I don’t get out enough, but I’d never heard of putting Giardiniera on a meatball sandwich before. Whomever came up with the idea should be knighted (if we knighted folks in the US). Add a bit of roasted red bell pepper and you have a super-easy-to-make incredibly yummy sandwich. Perfect any time, but also great because I almost always have the ingredients to make Giardiniera meatball sandwiches on hand. I used mild Giardiniera when making these meatball sandwiches, but hot would be fantastic too. Just chop it up a bit before spooning it on top.
I did ‘cheat’ and use frozen meatballs. If I’d had more time to throw dinner together, I would’ve made a batch of my Italian meatballs. I try to keep some on hand at all times, but truth is, they are just so good that there’s just never any leftovers.
I love a good beefy chili. Nothing fancy. Great southwestern flavors. Oddly this McIlhenny’s chili is served with rice. I say oddly because that’s not something I would normally do. I was surprised as to how much I liked having rice in my chili.
The chili itself is just as great as you’d want. Tender meat with a broth that you really do want to drink up with a straw. It’s my favorite part of this McIlhenny’s chili. The original recipe (which I modified only slightly) came from McIlhenny’s, the creators of Tabasco sauce. You know right then and there that it’s going to be fantastic. I have never had the free time when in New Orleans to go over to Avery Island and take a tour of the Tabasco plant. I will next time, though.
These Italian sausage sandwiches have become somewhat of a tradition in our house around New Year’s and the Superbowl. I make a nice big batch of them and let them slow cook either on the stove or in a slow cooker, ready to eat at any time. Perfect eats for watching football games, specially college bowl games. Spicy sausage with a flavorful tomato sauce loaded with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. All topped (of course) with ooey-gooey cheese. I’m not sure I’ve ever made my Italian sausage sandwiches exactly the same way each year. Sometimes I go the spicy route, sometimes I use sweet sausages. Sometimes I add more bell peppers, sometimes I just add more mushrooms. It just kind of depends on how I feel that day. If you don’t mind spicy, add more red pepper flake and a good amount of hot sauce.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon (more or less, to taste) red pepper flake
2 loaves French bread
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Place the pizza and tomato sauces into a large pot over medium heat.
In a large Dutch oven, heat a splash or two of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the sausages, browning on all sides. Transfer browned sausages to the pot of sauce.
Add more oil to the Dutch oven and add all of the vegetables. Saute until just starting to get soft, then transfer to the pot of sauce along with the sausages.
Season with salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flake.
Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
Slice the bread in half. I prefer to do this by cutting a 'V' down the top of the bread, making a trench for the sausages and sauce. I find that the bread doesn't split so easily this way. I also remove some of the bread inside just to make more room for the great toppings.
Cut bread into lengths a tad shorter than the sausages.
Add meat and top with sauce and a little bit of the vegetables.
Top with cheese and place on a sheet pan under the oven broiler just long enough to melt the cheese.
Anita and I recently returned from the Pittsburgh, PA area. Anita was there for a conference, and I was there for food. Right down the street from our hotel was Pizza Bella. They made the most amazingly good hoagie that as soon as we returned home I had to make hoagies. And here it is in all of its glory. Great meats, cheese, and fresh toppings, all with a fantastic dressing. I hope I never have to decide between which is my favorite: hoagies or muffulettas. They are both fantastic sandwiches, both with a lot of Italian influence in the ingredients. One thing is for sure, though. The next time we are in the Pittsburgh area we’ll swing by Pizza Bella and grab more hoagies.
The North End Barbecue & Moonshine restaurant in Indianapolis is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. They have a fantastic menu, but for me, the best dish by far is the Texas red chili. It’s simple, spicy, and oh so packed with flavor. Smoked brisket, homemade bacon and a red sauce that I could just slurp up with a (big) straw. I can’t always make it to North End BBQ, so I decided to make my own (slightly different) version of their Texas chili. I was absolutely pleased with it. Nice and spicy, with a bit of smokiness. Now, you could make this smoked brisket Texas chili with just cubed chuck that has been lightly browned in the Dutch oven first. Nothing wrong with that, not one bit, but if you have smoked brisket, it really gives the chili a completely different flavor than just regular ole chili.
I roasted a few jalapenos on the grill and chopped them to use as garnish. They added even more bite and flavor to what was already a great bowl of chili.
The tastiest burgers are cooked on a flat-top griddle or in a hot skillet. Unlike a grill, the fat doesn’t drip down into the fire below. Instead, it stays on the burger, keeping it moist. And the added plus of a griddle is that you get that wonderful char. These Oklahoma fried onion burgers would be your standard fantastic griddle burgers, but they have a very tasty twist: onions that are griddled into the patties. The result is divine. I use a griddle insert that fits into my Weber charcoal and gas grills to griddle burgers like Oklahoma fried onion burgers. It not only gets super hot, it gets hot consistently across the entire griddle. This ensures that I get nice evenly cooked burgers no matter how many I am cooking at once.
Toss with 1 teaspoon of salt and let rest for 30 minutes to extract as much liquid out of the onions as possible.
Transfer the onions to a towel or a few sheets of paper towels, roll up tightly and squeeze to remove as much liquid as you can.
Divide the onion slices into 4 equal piles on a cutting board or flat surface.
Divide the beef into 4 patties and form into balls.
Place beef on top of the onions and, using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a small skillet, flatten the beef into patties. The onions will stick to the bottom of the patties. That's what you want.
Season patties with salt and pepper.
Heat up a griddle or cast iron skillet on your stove top or grill over medium-high heat.
Add the butter and swirl it around to coat the griddle or skillet.
Add the patties, onion side down, and cook for 6-8 minutes. You'll see the onions starting to turn golden brown and get crispy around the sides.
Flip and continue cooking until the burgers are done, about 2 more minutes.
Top with cheese and remove.
Toast the buns, if desired.
Add the patties, mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles.