Cowboy Beans

Oh yeah, pardner! You’ll take to these cowboy beans like a horse takes to water! You’ll think you’re out on the prairie sitting by the chuck wagon after a long day of rustling steer. Pinto beans in a sauce of coffee and BBQ sauce, the smoky goodness of a ham shank, and plenty of your favorite toppings. These cowboy beans don’t have to be a side dish, they’re a meal by themselves.
You won’t be learning anything while you’re eating these cowboy beans. Why is that? Well, because like the old cowboy saying goes, “you ain’t learning while your mouth’s a jawwin'”. Or something like that. You certainly won’t be telling a long tale about the calf you saved down by Dry Gulch. You’ll be too busy eating. You will be telling the chuck wagon cook that he’s a genius, though.

Cowboy Beans
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 smoked ham shank (or hock)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups brewed black coffee
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Chopped roasted jalapenos, chopped red onion and shredded cheese (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Place the beans into a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with 1" of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain and reserve the beans.
  4. Add the oil to the pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes, stirring, until just starting to soften.
  6. Add the garlic and cook another 1 minute.
  7. Add the beans back into the pot along with the ham shank, water, coffee and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 40 minutes or longer until the beans are just soft.
  9. Stir in the BBQ sauce and cover again and continue to simmer until the meat falls away from the ham shank bone, about 2 hours.
  10. Remove the shank and remove any meat. Chop and return the meat to the pot, stirring.
  11. Serve hot with chopped roasted jalapenos, chopped red onion and shredded cheese.

French Bread Pizza Rustica

Don’t let the fact that this French bread pizza rustica doesn’t have a sauce on it throw you off. Every bite is incredible. All of your favorite toppings, but with a little twist. Spinach. Yes, spinach. You can play around with the toppings, substituting whatever suits your fancy, but don’t leave out the spinach.
French Bread Pizza RusticaI’ve found variations on this French bread pizza rustica online, and some have you cook the vegetables a bit before putting them onto the bread. I opted to skip that step. We found the slightly crunchy (they do cook a bit in the oven) vegetables to be perfect. If you do want to cook the vegetables, just add to the skillet after you cook the Italian sausage and saute for about 5 minutes.

French Bread Pizza Rustica
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large loaf French bread
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, squeezed dry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 stick pepperoni, chopped
  • 4 cups shredded Mozzarella and Provolone cheese mixture
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) dried red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
  2. Split the bread lengthwise. Optionally, hollow out the loaf by removing some of the bread. Love toppings? Hollow it out. Want less topping? Don't hollow it out. (You might have topping left over).
  3. Crumble sausage into a large skillet with the oil and cook until done.
  4. Remove and let cool. Optionally, transfer sausage to a food processor and pulse a few times to make the meat finer.
  5. Transfer meat to a large bowl.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
  7. Spread mixture out onto the bread halves.
  8. Place bread on baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the bread is crunchy and the cheese starts to melt. Place under the broiler to brown lightly if desired.

Chicken Sauce Piquante

Watching Emeril Lagasse is what got me interested in cooking. Years ago he had a show, Emeril Live. It was part entertainment and part cooking. Chef’s cooking fascinated me and inspired me to stop eating out of bags or containers. This chicken sauce piquante is one reason why I’ve never looked back fondly at the days when I scarfed down fast food on a regular basis. Nothing I ever had then could even come close to the flavors in this dish. Sure, there are a number of ingredients, and it takes a bit of time, but the end result is layer after layer of incredible rich flavor. Tomatoes, bell peppers, celery and even a bit of heat make for a sauce that was so heavenly I almost forgot about the delicious chicken.
The original recipe for chicken sauce piquante called for a whole chicken, cut into pieces. I prefer thighs so I ended up using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead. In a dish like this one I wanted the extra richness of the dark meat in thighs. And, well, it was easier to use thighs!

Chicken Sauce Piquante
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minded
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Cooked rice, for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken into a large bowl.
  2. Combine the Creole seasoning and flour and sprinkle over the chicken. Toss to coat well.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Working in batches, remove the chicken from the flour mixture, shaking off the excess and transfer to the skillet. Brown on both sides and transfer to a slow cooker.
  5. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and jalapeno to the skillet and saute for 2 minutes, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the skillet.
  6. Add the garlic, dried pepper flake, thyme, cayenne and bay leaves and cook another minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes without any of the juice. Break up the tomatoes with a spatula.
  8. Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and salt along with 1/2 cup of the juice reserved from the tomatoes.
  9. Bring to a simmer and cook another minute.
  10. Add the sauce to the slow cooker (be careful to not splatter any on yourself since it is hot).
  11. Cover and cook on low 3 hours or until the chicken is tender but not yet falling apart.
  12. Remove bay leaves before serving over hot rice, garnished with parsley.

Easy Creole Meatloaf

There’s one rule I have about meatloaf: the veggies have to be chunky. I want some crunch to offset what is essentially a large brick-of-meat. Nothing wrong with a brick of meat, but put some nice chunky vegetables in it. This easy Creole meatloaf hit the spot and it definitely did not break my meatloaf rule. Great flavor. Moist. And just a hint of spiciness.
Easy Creole MeatloafNow, I will say that leftover super chunky easy Creole meatloaf does make for a pretty messy sandwich. But then, who really sits around dreaming of a nice, neat leftover meatloaf sandwich? Not me. It is not something to be ashamed of if you have to go open-faced with your meatloaf sandwich.

Easy Creole Meatloaf
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 slices white bread
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoon ketchup, plus more for topping
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Place the bread in a large bowl and add the milk. Let soak for a few minutes.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the bread except for half of the ketchup and combine well.
  5. Form into a loaf in the baking dish.
  6. Spread the remaining ketchup over the top of the meatloaf.
  7. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  9. Let stand 5 -10 minutes before slicing.

Buffalo Chicken Alfredo

Mmmmmmm. Buffalo chicken. That’s all I need to hear. I love that great spicy, vinegary flavor, with a little something for a cool-down. For my Buffalo wings that means some sort of dipping sauce. This Buffalo chicken Alfredo has that same great Buffalo flavor, with a built-in cool-down sauce. Creamy. Spicy. Cool. This really was a fantastic dish.
I used some leftover Buffalo chicken that I made in the slow cooker, but you can also use my outstanding Buffalo chicken made on a Char-Broil Big Easy, the best cooker for all-things poultry.

If you aren’t a big fan of Buffalo chicken, the Alfredo sauce over pasta is definitely great by itself. Or add some chopped rotisserie chicken.

Buffalo Chicken Alfredo
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
For the Buffalo chicken Alfredo
  • 2 cups Buffalo chicken (I used our slow cooker version)
  • 1 (12 ounce package) angel hair pasta, cooked, drained
  • Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
For the Alfredo sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Instructions
For the Buffalo chicken Alfredo
  1. Warm the chicken.
  2. Cook the pasta per package instructions. Drain well.
  3. Add pasta to the Alfredo sauce and stir to coat.
  4. Divide the pasta between 4 plates.
  5. Top pasta with the warmed Buffalo chicken.
  6. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
For the Alfredo sauce
  1. Add butter and olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.
  2. Add the the garlic,cream, and white pepper.
  3. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring often.
  4. Add the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes stirring often, until the sauce is thickened.
  6. Add the mozzarella and stir until melted.

Cheeseburger Gnocchi

Cheeseburger gnocchi reminded me of a childhood canned favorite, RavioliOs, but taken to a whole new level. And making this dish wasn’t a whole lot harder than just opening a can either. A big bowl of cheeseburger gnocchi on a cold day and you’ll definitely forget the weather. Creamy, cheesy, tomato-y beefy stick-to-your-ribs goodness.

I can’t say I’d change much about this recipe for cheeseburger gnocchi. I really liked it and it really hit the spot after shoveling snow from the driveway. I might substitute spicy bulk Italian sausage for the beef for a little kick and Italian-inspired flavor.

Cheeseburger Gnocchi
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen gnocchi
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion. Season with salt and pepper and saute until just soft.
  3. Add garlic and saute another minute.
  4. Crumble in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain any excess fat.
  6. Stir in the mustard, diced and crushed tomatoes and the beef broth.
  7. Season with more salt and pepper as desired.
  8. Bring to a simmer.
  9. Stir in the gnocchi and cover.
  10. Continue simmering about 5 minutes or until the gnocchi is tender.
  11. Add the heavy cream and cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.
  12. Serve garnished with the green onions.

Southern Reuben Sandwich

For years and years and years I made my Reuben sandwiches pretty ‘normal’. Russian or Thousand Island dressing. A little (or a lot) of corned beef or pastrami. Warmed sauerkraut. And plenty of Swiss cheese. Then along came this southern take on a Reuben. I’ll never make a Reuben the ‘old’ way again. Crunchy tangy coleslaw replaces the kraut. A spicy homemade dressing replaces the stuff out of the bottle. This is nothing but good.
I prefer pastrami on my southern Reuben sandwiches. I like the extra kick of the peppery flavoring. And when it comes to pastrami, my hands-down favorite is my homemade version. Sure, I’m biased, but for good reason. I’ve never heard anything but high praise for my pastrami. I can never make enough.

Southern Reuben Sandwich
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
For the sauce mixture
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1-2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the slaw mixture
  • 1/2 cup sauce mixture (from above)
  • 3 cups coleslaw mix
For the sandwich
  • Sauce and slaw mixtures (from above)
  • 8 slices rye bread
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 pound pastrami or corned beef, sliced thin
Instructions
For the sauce mixture
  1. Combine all ingredients.
For the slaw mixture
  1. Combine all ingredients.
For the sandwich
  1. Note: If desired you can toast the sandwich in the oven in a 350 F oven for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Slather one side of each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of the sauce mixture.
  3. Divide cheese, meat and slaw mixture between 4 slices of the bread.\
  4. Top with remaining bread and serve.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Oh me how happy was I with this pizza? Darned happy, that’s how happy! All of my favorite things. Crunchy pizza crust. Moist, tender chicken, cheese, smoky BBQ sauce, and of course, some heat! BBQ chicken pizza was a big hit in our household, that’s for sure!
BBQ Chicken PizzaBBQ chicken pizza is also the easiest, tastiest way to use up leftover cooked chicken. You can also make this same recipe using leftover pulled pork or smoked brisket.

I used a smoky, hickory-flavored BBQ sauce since the chicken I used was roasted and didn’t have that much smoky flavor. If I was going to use smoked pork or beef I’d use a sauce without a smoky flavor since there’s already enough of that in the meat.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pizza
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large pizza crust
  • 1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce (use a thinner, hickory-flavored sauce for the best results)
  • 10 ounces cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/3 cup shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Chopped roasted jalapenos (or substitute sliced pickled jalapenos)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven per pizza crust instructions.
  2. Brush some of the BBQ sauce over the pizza crust.
  3. Combine chicken and BBQ sauce. Spread evenly over the crust.
  4. Add onion, cheeses, and jalapenos.
  5. Bake per crust instructions.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro, slice and serve.